Monday, March 31, 2008

But I Can't Wait Until I'm Eight . . .

I know that I've been writing a lot lately about Kimball, but I can't not write about this big event in his life. On Saturday, he was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (In our church, infants are not baptized, as they are too young to tell right from wrong, and thus, to be accountable for their actions. Eight years old is considered to be the age of accountability.)

Kimball has been looking forward to this day for as long as I can remember. We have talked about it a lot as a family, about the covenant that you make with God at baptism. Here are some of my favorite scriptures about baptism that we have reviewed recently in preparation for this big step in his life:

"There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." John 3:1-5

"And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!" 2 Nephi 31:5

"And it came to pass that he said unto them: . . . and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life— Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you? And now when the people had heard these words, they clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts." Mosiah 18: 8-11

It was a wonderful day. Many family members and friends gathered to witness Kimball being baptized and confirmed a member of the Church by his father. Afterwards, we celebrated with a cake that Alli, our mom, and I had made for the occasion

(I really wish that I had taken a picture of the cake after it had been sliced as well; it had four layers of chocolate-chocolate chip pound cake with alternating ganache and chocolate mousse fillings,) and visited with those who came. Kimball's grandparents gave him some new, leather bound scriptures and he said, "This really makes me feel like a grown-up."

I can tell that he is thinking a lot about his covenant with God and is trying to follow Jesus Christ. He is a good example to me. I just can't believe that my first born has reached this point--somehow I know that the others will quickly follow suit and my babies will soon all be grown up. It is a bitter-sweet feeling, but I am so proud of the person that he is becoming, and I am thankful for his influence in my life. He has already taught me much in his short life.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Overheard at Our House

I don't know how it is at your house, but at our house, dinner time seems to be a time of constant negotiation. I never intended it to be this way and frankly, it drives me crazy. (I guess the upside is that it may prove useful one day if they ever get to mediate between two parties in a war or something. Maybe then, when my children have successfully brought about world peace, all this dickering at the dinner table will have been worth it!) Where did I go wrong, that my kids, instead of just gratefully gobbling down their dinner, feel the need to bargain and negotiate?

"How many bites of this do I need to take?"

"What do I have to do to get another piece of bread?" (At least it's homemade whole wheat.)

"Do I have to eat my vegetables? All of them?"

"Is there going to be dessert tonight?" --I know they are wondering if it's even worth it to eat the dreaded broccoli, green beans, barley, or whatever other poison their wicked mother is force feeding them.

Last night was no exception. Kimball had opted to not eat dinner at all when he saw that our dinner was roasted zucchini and chicken caesar salad (with the chicken on the side, out of respect for his hamburgertarian ways.) But when he realized that it was Family Home Evening night, he concluded that there would probably be dessert of some kind later. So he asked me to serve him some zucchini. As it was the only thing he planned to eat, I gave him a generous portion--over half a cup, I'd say, more than I'd generally give a child if they were eating other food with their dinner. He took one look at it and asked,

"Mom, how much do I have to eat?"

"The whole plate, dear," I replied.

Kimball got a twinkle in his eye and said, "Do I have to eat the zucchini, too?"

I laughed out loud at his cleverness, and then corrected myself. He did not need to eat the whole plate. Just all of the zucchini. He did and got to be the one to finish off the lemon cream cheese pie that I'd made for Easter (incidentally, he hadn't had it on Sunday because all he would eat for dinner was fruit salad and dinner rolls. That just shows you how mean I am, even on Easter. It's not like he hadn't eaten half a pound of chocolate earlier in the day anyway!)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Miracle Baby

A little more than 8 years ago, Jared & I took a trip to Utah. Six months previously, we had moved from Salt Lake City to Southern California so that he could attend chiropractic school. This trip was going to be fun--not only were we going to visit friends and family, but our sister-in-law was hosting a baby shower for me. Our first baby (whom we were already calling Kimball,) was due in 7 weeks and everything was going according to plan.

I remember noticing on the flight up how active Kimball was. The flight was particularly turbulent and he seemed to be responding in kind. As a first time pregnant mother and a born worrier, I found it very soothing to have him moving around. It meant that all was well.

Over the course of the weekend, I had moments when I wondered why I wasn't feeling him moving more. It was a very busy weekend and we rushed from one activity to the next, so I figured that I just was too busy to notice his movements. Saturday evening, after the baby shower, I had a glass of milk and laid down to do kick counts. His activity wasn't as strong as it had been on Friday morning, but I could feel him moving around and I felt relieved.

Sunday was also busy, but Sundays are a different kind of busy for us. We attend church whether we are home or away, so I had some quiet time to be still. One trend that I had noticed throughout my pregnancy was that Kimball really responded to music, especially if I was singing, so I was used to having him "dance" in my belly during the hymns. But today, he wasn't moving around. Strange. I was concerned, but tried to push it out of my mind.

After church we had dinner with Jared's family. I laid down for a few minutes to do some kick counts, but before I knew it, it was time to head off to the airport. He wasn't moving around and I knew that it could be that he was just sleeping, but I really wanted him to wake up and reassure me. On the flight home I did nothing but focus on my belly, willing the baby to move around. I finally said something to Jared as the plane landed that I was afraid that something was wrong--I hadn't felt the baby move very much all weekend, and not at all that day.

When we got home, I asked Jared to give me a priesthood blessing. This involves him placing his hands on my head and pronouncing a blessing on me, as inspired and directed by the Holy Ghost. The blessing was beautiful and he told me that our baby was alive and was meant to be a part of our family. He said that even then, Kimball was there, observing our faith. We were comforted and went to sleep. But when I woke up the next morning, I still hadn't felt him move.

I knew that the rules were that you called your doctor if it had been 24 hours with no movement. I called the doctor's office and they suggested that I come in after lunch to get checked out. I took a half-day teaching assignment (I was substitute teaching elementary school at the time) since I felt fine and I figured it would take my mind off the worry a bit. I was pretty calm all morning, since the doctor's office hadn't acted alarmed, plus I had faith that the words of Jared's blessing had been from the Lord. Nevertheless, as I sat in the doctor's office waiting for my turn (which was a long time any time I went to that office,) my anxiety increased. When I finally got into see the doctor and she checked for a heartbeat, I was afraid she was going to give me terrible news. As soon as I heard a heartbeat, I started crying, but I also was overwhelmed with relief. I had been making a mountain out of a molehill. There was nothing wrong with my baby and I was just a neurotic first-time mom.

But the doctor decided to do a quick ultrasound just to take a look. Then she asked me if my water had broken. No? Was I sure? Maybe she'd just check--perhaps I just hadn't noticed. No, my bag of waters had not ruptured. She turned to me and calmly said, "You seem to be a little low on fluid. Very low, in fact. I'd like you to go to the hospital for some observations. Hopefully we'll be able to get your amniotic fluid levels higher. It probably won't be any big deal. Oh, and please go straight to the hospital. Don't go home first to wait for your husband."

What? That sounded pretty serious. She left quickly to call the doctor from the practice who was on rounds at the hospital and I left; I had to go home, since I'd walked to the doctor's appointment. It was just a block away and it had seemed silly to drive. I stayed home long enough to call Jared's school and asked them to page him (it was long before either of us had a cell phone,) and phoned my mom at work. Just saying the words that they wanted me to go in for observations made me sob. The school where she teaches is on the way to the hospital, and she said, "Pick me up, you can't go alone." I guess she just got another teacher to take her class for the last half hour--I wasn't even thinking about it at the time.

We got to the hospital and Jared arrived while we were checking in. They strapped me to all the machines and put an IV in to try to up my fluid intake. Now that I've had four kids, I know how to read the monitors and figure out what's going on, but it was my first time having a non-stress test and I was clueless. I had been there for about 20 minutes when the doctor came in. He was just out of surgery. He took one look at the results of my monitors and said, "We are going to deliver this baby in 15 minutes. What do you need from me?"

We were aghast. We asked for a minute alone so that Jared could give me another blessing. My mom ran out the door and down the hall, hoping she'd make it back with the video camera in time (she did--barely). Jared's blessing told me again that Kimball would live, but it also said something about our trials strengthening us, which was a little scary. I felt very close to Jared and to Heavenly Father then.

As soon as we had finished, a nurse handed Jared some scrubs and told him to change quickly--they weren't going to wait for him-- and started prepping me for surgery. Dr. Roca wasn't kidding. Kimball was born less than 15 minutes after he first saw me. It was so fast. Now that I've had three other c-sections that were not emergencies, I realize how fast it was. They started cutting before Jared was even in the room. They shoved around my organs, which is a funky feeling because it doesn't hurt, but you can definitely feel them in there; so, they pushed around my organs, found my uterus, and pulled out a baby. I wept with relief as I heard his cry.

"It's a boy!" Dr. Roca announced.

"How big is he?" I demanded, over and over, until they could tell me. I figured that size really matters when it comes to preemies and survival.

"2 lbs, 15 oz" came the reply.

Now my tears of relief turned to sobs. That was too small. I had been reading all those pregnancy books daily--they were my other scriptures--and I knew that he should have been much, much bigger at 33 weeks.

He seemed to be breathing fine, so they wrapped him up and brought him over to see me before whisking him off to the NICU.

I don't remember much after that because they put me under. I've learned since then that this is pretty standard in an emergency c-section. They had a lot of repair work to do since they'd had to work so quickly.

When I woke up in recovery, Jared was there. He had been with Kimball. The baby was very small and very skinny, but was breathing on his own. Since my anesthesia had been so quickly administered, I couldn't move the lower half of my body or sit up for 12 hours, so I couldn't go see Kimball. Jared took video of him and then brought it to my room to show me our son. He was so small and you could see all his ribs and most of his bones. He had blond hair. I thought that he resembled a little cricket. My little cricket. I was so grateful that he was okay.

The following days and weeks were an emotional roller coaster for us. We watched his weight like a day trader watches the stock market. Every ounce that he gained gave us reason to rejoice. They ran lots of tests on him, with varying results. Some days it felt like everything was going to be fine. Some days we were afraid that he'd suffered severe brain damage, the effects of which were yet unknown. Always, we prayed for peace and for Kimball to come home soon.

Leaving the hospital without my baby was so difficult. I cried and cried all the way home. I don't wish that on anyone. We then began the exhausting ordeal of going to the hospital every six hours around the clock. I was trying to breastfeed him, although for a couple of weeks he didn't have a sucking reflex, and we also did "kangaroo care" at those visits. This was a fairly new protocol that involved giving the baby skin-to-skin time to help him thrive. We sang to him and held him on our chests. Jared came as often as he could--at least once every day. He was in the middle of finals of his second semester of grad school--not great timing, but somehow he managed.

Finally, when he was 30 days old, Kimball came home from the hospital. He weighed 4 lbs, 4 oz, and had finally shown that he could manage 8 feedings a day from the bottle or breast. I had a freezer full of milk that I'd pumped (since his appetite was minute compared to my supply)--in fact, those bottles in the freezer lasted us six months! He still had a long road to "catch up," but he was home. We were so grateful.

I look back on those first days and weeks of his life and am filled with wonder and gratitude. I'm so thankful that he lived. Dr. Roca told us after the delivery that Kimball probably wouldn't have survived much longer in the womb. Hours could have made the difference. They never did figure out exactly what was wrong. My placenta failed and stopped producing amniotic fluid. Their best guess is hypertension, but the only day that they recorded an elevated blood pressure was the day he was born, and that can certainly be explained. Thankfully we have not had the same problem with my other pregnancies.

Our little boy was and is a fighter. Some days I have to remind myself that his intensity and stubbornness probably saved his life! He is such a blessing to us and sets a good example to his brothers and sister. He especially shows so much love and consideration for Bronwen, which warms my heart. I can't believe that he is already 8 years old. The next thing I know, he'll be heading off to college. Please slow down, precious son! I don't want these years to slip away from us.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Poor Baby

It stinks to throw up. It stinks more on your birthday. Especially when you are an 8-year-old.

We had plans this morning to go to the zoo with my nephews, then enjoy a picnic in the park and celebrate Kimball's birthday with these:
Allison and I made these cupcakes yesterday. Can you tell me who they are supposed to be? I'll do another post eventually with the directions on how to make your little Star Wars nut squeal with delight over these cupcakes.

Hopefully our little birthday boy will be feeling better soon. We have a family dinner planned right out of our Star Wars cookbook, Wookie Cookies. He takes after me--a party is all about the food!

I have a post planned about Kimball's miraculous birth, but I need to dig out some pictures of his tiny little 2 lb 15 oz body and scan them. Be back later!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Own Personal (Free) Interior Designer

. . . can be your own personal free interior designer as well! Check out this new blog, dedicated to interior design. Design With Christine offers free advice and encourages you to post questions and pictures so that she can solve your design woes. Here is the post where I posed a question to her and she answered it in part, with more questions. Here is the post where she answered in more detail, after determining what it was I am looking for. I can't wait to start shopping for the right textiles for my master bedroom!

Go on over and take a look. She has posted lots of ideas on decorating mantles and fireplaces, and she stands ready to answer your questions as well! And this post on up and coming color combinations might interest you if you are redecorating.

Tell her Michal sent you. Then I can take a teeny weeny bit of the credit when your next project turns out to be fabulous! I'll post before and after shots of my master bedroom when I'm all finished.

The Green Smoothie Continues

We've had some version of the green smoothie every day this week now. Up until now, I had not let the kids see when I added the spinach and other veggies to our blender. This morning, Henry asked for "green smoothie." "And can you actually make it green today, Mom?"

As I worked, I told him about my Grandpa who used to make "green drink" from leaves in his vegetable garden. They were intrigued. Henry suggested that we add some leaves to our smoothie to make it green. "What a great idea! I have some leaves right here!"

Kimball immediately recognized the leaves as spinach, and I though our cause was lost, since Henry isn't a spinach lover. But they got excited as we added the following things to the blender:
  • 1/2 large fuji apple
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 cup grape juice
  • 1/2 c. or so frozen mango
  • 3 handfuls of spinach
  • 1 handful of sugar snap peas
  • 1 handful of baby carrots
They tasted the smoothie, then we decided to add a few frozen strawberries for flavor and because most of the things we had used weren't frozen. They were just the thing! We all enthusiastically drank up our smoothies. Again, they weren't quite green, but they tasted great. Henry said, "I can't believe that this is full of spinach, but I like it anyway!"

Thanks again, Diane. I can't believe that my kids are eating new veggies--for breakfast!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

St. Patty's Day Report

I've often thought about the way that our virtual, online lives can be more ideal than our actual, real life. In the interest of "keeping it real," so that you all know that I am sometimes a person with great plans but not so much follow through, I thought I'd report on yesterday's festivities. Some of our plans happened, and some fell by the wayside. And that's ok. I just don't want to give a false picture of my real life--I think that is the kind of thing that sets women up to compare themselves and get discouraged about the things that they aren't accomplishing. Please feel encouraged at the messy house you see in the background of this photo!

I did make the "green smoothies" for breakfast. I used grape juice, a frozen banana, frozen blueberries, raspberries, and marionberries, and lots of spinach. My best guess is 4 cups or more of raw spinach. I kept adding more, hoping that it would be greener, and finally decided that my decision to use grape juice instead of soy milk had yielded a brown smoothie instead. Oops. Thankfully, my kids were happy to drink it when I explained that grape juice had turned it brown. When they asked how I had tried to make it green, I avoided the question with a non-answer, "Of course I tried to make it green. It's St. Patrick's Day!" The kids all drank full glasses of the stuff without complaining. I, on the other hand, left most of mine in the glass. Methinks there was a bit too much spinach. Next time I will have to follow Diane's instructions a bit more carefully! But I am happy to eat spinach in other ways, whereas Kimball is the only one of my kids who will eat very much of the stuff in its original form, so I was pleased with the outcome.

We took some suggestions from my readers and had green eggs with our breakfast. We read Green Eggs and Ham together and my two oldest picky eaters actually tasted their green eggs before giving them all to Ian, who was happy to eat everyone's eggs.

The Irish Soda Bread was perfect. Delicious. Unfortunately, it came out of the oven at 9:00 am, much later than my kids were interested in having much! I used this recipe, but omitted the caraway seeds and half of the butter (it called for using 2 T on the pan--I used canola spray instead; and for dotting the top with butter--I used 1 T. Next time, I'll just brush the top with butter after it has baked.) Since it made a big loaf, I took some to Jared's assistant to enjoy. The poor thing is constantly being fattened up by me. Not that she's fat. She's definitely not fat. She just has to eat my fattening food.

The green jello was never made. I barely got these frosted before we had to run out the door to pick up the babysitter. We had a great time at our girl's lunch, lingering for a long time, enjoying the sunny day (we sat outside at a favorite Mexican cafe), the chance to talk without interruptions, and loving the food. I'll put the recipe for these carrot pineapple cupcakes at the end of this post. It's a must have.

When I got home around 3:00, I piled kids into the car and we went to meet our cousins, who are here from Arizona, at the park. The weather was beautiful and we lingered there until 5:00, which meant that I did not much feel like making Fresh Green Pea Soup for dinner. Instead, we had a spinach salad and the kids had quesadillas with it. So much for a green dinner. I have to admit, what I really wanted was the Irish Lamb Stew that Nancy emailed me about, her St. Patty's Day fare. I should have gone over to her house!

Sonja mentioned in her comment that her kids would build a leprechaun trap, and after breakfast I discovered that Kimball was busy doing just that. He fashioned it out of an old Kleenex box and used paper shamrocks and Irish Soda Bread as bait. This morning he found a hole in his trap (the leprechaun got away!), only crumbs where the bread had been, and a handful of gold foil wrapped candy. He was very pleased that a leprechaun had been by.

So there you have it. It was a great day and I wouldn't have changed any of it, so I'm glad I adjusted some of our plans. Hope yours was great as well!

Here's the recipe. This is actually a recipe for a cake, so you can make cupcakes, a three layer cake, or a 9x13 pan cake. It would be great for Easter dinner. I used fresh pineapple because I had some that needed to be used--and I loved it that way--but you could use the canned stuff.

Carrot Pineapple Cake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. soda
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • ¾ cup oil
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla (you know better than to use imitation)
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 small can crushed, drained pineapple (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cups coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Sift and set aside the flour, soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, oil, buttermilk, sugar, and vanilla. To the egg mixture, add carrots, pineapple, coconut, and pecans and mix well. Stir in the flour mixture, just enough to blend. DO NOT OVERMIX!!!

Bake at 350 F. I usually make it in three 8 inch layers, which take about 35 minutes to bake, but you can also use a 9x13 pan. When it is done, it will be a rich brown; administer the toothpick test!

Ice with classic cream cheese icing. (8 oz. Cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter, 3-4 cups powdered sugar, 2 t. vanilla, 1 t. lemon or orange zest) If desired, sprinkle finely chopped pecans on the icing between layers and on top of the cake. Serves 12-16 as a cake, 24 as cupcakes.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

St. Patty's Day Treats

I decided to post a day ahead of St. Patrick's Day, just in case anyone wants to use these ideas. I'm going to be making a few festive foods for my kids. Since I'm not a corned-beef-and-cabbage fan, I am mostly doing green foods. Here are some of our planned foods for tomorrow:

We are starting the day off with Diane's Green Smoothie. I have been meaning to try this on my kids for some time, and I figure that if I make it on St. Patty's Day, they might not question the origin of the green color. Then, once they already love it, it will be easier to serve more often. I have tons of fresh spinach, mixed berries, and a frozen banana ready. I'm also going to use some organic grape juice instead of soy milk. More antioxidants and natural sweetness.

I'm also going to make some Irish Soda Bread. I'm hoping to approximate the first Irish Soda Bread that I tasted, back when I worked at Mason's Bakery. I plan on using this recipe, but omitting the caraway seeds and substituting raisins for currants (because that's what I have in my pantry.) We'll probably have some of this with our smoothies and some more in the evening with our soup.

For dinner, I'll probably make Barefoot Contessa's Fresh Pea Soup, although I may be using a dollop of nonfat yogurt instead of creme fraiche. Because I need to save on calories somewhere, right?:) With it, we'll have spinach salad with Granny Smith apples, toasted nuts, dried cherries, and feta.

For lunch, Christine and I are taking Mandy out for her birthday, so my kids are having PB&J sammies with a babysitter, but I may leave some lime jello for a sweet treat. We, on the other hand, will have carrot-pineapple cupcakes with cream cheese icing. I have them baking right now. It's Mandy's birthday and she should have to eat green cake if she doesn't want it! I'll post the recipe later, or let Christine do it, since her blog is all about cupcakes.

What are your St. Patty's Day traditions? Does anyone have a tradition I can add that doesn't involve food!:) I have a real problem that way! So share your ideas with me.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Last night we put our kids to bed and prepared to have some friends come over to play games and hang out. Our kids' bedtime is between 7:00 and 7:30 PM, which many find to be cruel and unusual. We have learned, however, that our children will rise long before 7:00 AM regardless of what time they went to bed; thus, bedtime is early around these parts.

We told the two older boys that since it was a Friday night, they could read in their beds for half an hour before they turned out the lights, but they could not come out of their rooms. They had their drinks and paid one last visit to the bathroom, we had family prayer, and they were off to bed.

Not ten minutes later, while we were still getting ready for guests, Kimball popped up and wanted another drink. We sent him back to bed with a warning that if he got up again, he'd lose his precious "screen time" for Saturday. (Since Fridays and Saturdays are the only days they get to play the Lego Star Wars video game, this would be a tragedy of epic proportions.) We knew that if we didn't nip this in the bud, he'd be up every ten minutes for hours, checking to see what we were doing under the guise of getting a drink.

Hours later, our friends had gone home and we were checking on each one of our kids. I love that time to cover them up and kiss their sweet, sleeping faces. Jared and I burst out laughing and laughed until we cried when we came to Kimball and Henry's room. Outside the door was a sign that Kimball had obviously made. You already know what a melodramatic child he can be.

Thankfully, when we entered the room, we found living, breathing children and not the promised skeletons, dying of thirst in a veritable desert! Hopefully he doesn't report us to CPS!:)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Changes Afoot at T.A.

I am so excited that I have found so many blogging friends out there who also homeschool. What's interesting is that I have "discovered" many of them accidentally--that is, I haven't done a search for homeschool blogs. I've just blog-hopped when reading people's comments that appeal to me and they have often led me to other homeschooling moms. I'm going to create a special blogroll in my side bar dedicated to homeschooling families. Some of them talk more about homeschooling than others.

This week I decided to mix up the way we have been doing things at Tiger Academy. Because Henry is still in public school half day, his afternoon kindergarten has dictated much of our schedule, and I really felt that we weren't covering enough material. What we had been doing most days looked like this:
  • The "Morning Meeting": we would sing a few songs from Children's Songbook (the boys would each pick one or two), followed by an opening prayer. We would then discuss the weather, calendar, etc. Most days we would have already had scripture study and family prayer with Jared before he left for work, and piano practice would already be completed.
  • Next, I would work on math with Kimball and Henry from Saxon Math 2. Even though this is advanced for Henry, he liked participating in the lesson. When he got bored, I'd pull out some of his homework from public school or some math manipulatives. Ian would usually go build with linking cubes, duplos, or k'nex. Bronwen would ask to be picked up, or alternatively pull everything within reach out of my kitchen cupboards.
  • Give a brief writing lesson to Kimball, followed by an assignment. Kimball loves writing, but does not like to have parameters given to him. So we would often struggle through this part. I feel like it's important that he do more than ramble on in his journal about Star Wars.
  • If we haven't already hit time for Henry to have lunch and prepare to leave, we'd have a little recess. I'd intend to get to history, outside exploring, literature, etc. Sometimes, if the day was going well, I'd read aloud to them for a while at this point.
  • By the time we got Henry off to school, I'd be ready to clean my house, check blogs, and do something else. Plus, I didn't want to leave Henry out of the history, so I'd give Kimball a stack of books and he'd go read for an hour or two.
Although we were getting some important stuff in, one reason I chose to homeschool (besides having a personal mandate from the Lord) is to broaden my kids' education. When I discovered The Wonder Years, I saw how much they were doing that I wanted to be doing and determined to change things up.

So, this week we started spending our mornings doing the "enrichment." We've sung songs together, worked on memorizing a poem, read aloud from literature, studied Ancient Egypt together, and taken a great nature walk. When Henry leaves for school, Kimball and I do Saxon Math and writing together. He is doing better at those without so many distractions going on (by then, Bronwen is down for a nap,) and while he's working independently at the table, I can fuss around in the kitchen. We are enjoying this more and I feel like we are accomplishing more.

My plan is to have Mondays and Wednesdays be history/ poetry/ literature/ music focused. Tuesdays will be music/ art/ prep for our nature walk, and Thursdays will be nature walk/nature journaling. Fridays, Jared is already doing science with them and we are going to add some sports in there as well (in addition to the bountiful outside playtime they are all getting.) I'm feeling better about what we've already been able to accomplish.

Kimball is also starting a martial arts class this week and Cub Scouts at the end of the month. That, combined with his weekly group RDI therapy and piano lessons will keep him very busy. And socialized. But if you are a reader who worries about homeschooling and socialization, check out Ice Cream's post on the subject.

(Scattered throughout this post are photos from our Monday morning nature walk. We were looking for signs of animal life. The boys were really adorable and excited about it, and can't wait to do it again. I need to add The Handbook of Nature Study to my wish list.)

Growing Up (With a Sweet Tooth)

Here is the only picture that I took on our trip to my Mom's this past weekend. Oops. I should have taken more, but I'm glad I snapped this one. Bronwen had her first soft serve ice cream cone (Nana at the top and gave her the cone with ice cream.) She loved it--just like her mamma.

Unfortunately, I've been seeing a lot of this the past few days:She's feeling sick AGAIN. Runny nose, low fever, lots of drooling. It could be teething. But whatever it is, she wants me to hold her/pick her up all day. It's not easy to make dinner with a toddler on your hip! Especially one who likes to reach for things.

But, on the brighter side, she finally has enough hair on top to wear a "pretty" in it. You should have heard her big brothers ooh and ahh over it when I put it in her hair this morning. Thanks for the hand-me-downs, Mandy!

Our little girl is growing up fast.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Surfer Stu

Since my brother Stuart obviously isn't going to post about it, I guess I will. I am so proud of him. Check out this commercial. He's one of the young punk surfers--the one with the short hair who totally wipes out! He really deserved this gig, too, since the job he and his wife worked this summer (you know the kind: one of those sales jobs that exploits college students in the dreams of making a big commission? ) anyway, they earned a big commission and then the company went bankrupt before they paid out commissions. Can you believe it? Anyway, watch for this commercial on TV, unless you're like me and fast forward all of them on TiVo!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Quick Recipe

We are back in town now. I had a very busy day, but a good homeschooling day, which feels like a big accomplishment when I was also trying to do laundry, get some food in the house (we all shared one orange this morning with our toast at breakfast--pathetic!), and get Kimball to his RDI therapy this afternoon. Anyway, I haven't had much time for blogging, but I thought I'd post a recipe that I tried out with my saffron. It was sooo good. Neves also sent me a recipe for saffron ice cream, which was her favorite way to have the exotic spice while in Morocco. I'll try that one out one of these days and get back to you all with it.
This recipe comes from a Weight Watchers cookbook, Ultimate Flex & Core.

Tandoori Chicken Thighs
serves 4

  • 1/2 c. plain fat free yogurt
  • 1 T. paprika
  • 1 T. minced ginger (fresh)
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. saffron threads
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
This one is easy, folks! Combine the yogurt, paprika, ginger, garlic, curry powder, cinnamon, and saffron in a large ziploc bag. Add the chicken and refrigerate all day or over night if possible.
Preheat oven to 450. Place chicken on roasting rack over baking sheet. (Spray the roasting rack with spray and put a piece of foil down under it if you don't love scrubbing burned baking sheets!) Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken until cooked through, about 25 minutes.

I served this with couscous (which I make with chicken broth, sauteed onion, and 1 tsp. olive oil), stir fried zucchini, and fresh fruit. Oh, and some tandoori bread that I got at Trader Joe's. It was very good, but I somehow forgot to check the nutritional info before purchasing. I had to rip it in half to keep it to 2 points per piece of bread. The chicken is 4 points (depending on how big the thighs are, I suppose.)

It tasted heavenly. Sorry that I don't have a photo to share. Just trust me on this one. Go make it!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Outta Town

We're at my mom's for the weekend, helping with some projects, visiting with her, and attending a continuing education course (okay, the last one is just Jared.) Anyhow, I won't spend time posting, but in the meantime, here are a few blogs and such that I've discovered recently for you to explore:

This blog by a homeschooling mom is one that I am so excited about. I can tell that she has a similar philosophy to homeschooling to mine and seems to be implementing the way I would like to be (notice that I'm not there yet.) Besides having some great pictures and thoughts, she posts once a week with a report on everything they've been doing for homeschool. Even if you are a parent whose kids are in public school, you still might enjoy some of the things she is doing with her kids as enrichment activities. Here's Sonja at The Wonder Years.

Also, my friend Christine just started a blog on cupcakes. If you are a fan of the single serving bliss-on-a-plate desserts, or if you are looking for an idea for an upcoming kid's party, look no further. Check out The Coolest Cupcakes. And tell her who sent you:)!

Since you already know what a cake lover I am, wander on over to the Charm City Cakes site and browse their amazing creations. Cakes start at $500 each, so you may just be window shopping, but it's still fun. You may already have seen many of their masterpieces on one of my favorite Food Network shows, Ace of Cakes.

Last but not least, last week I read A Thousand Splendid Suns (see the link for my full review on A tremendously moving book that spoke to my heart about the plight of the women in Afghanistan. I have not stopped thinking about how I can help them. This non-profit aims to do just that. Check it out and think about ways that you can help women who were born into heart wrenching situations. The organization is the Women of Hope Project. And if you haven't read the book, I recommend it. It is not light reading, but I found it to be uplifting in spite of the heart breaking stories found therein.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Treats in the Mail

This has been a great week for me, postally speaking. Generally our mailbox only offers up bills, endless flyers or mailers touting pizza and greasy fast food coupons, and the occasional wedding announcement. The only time I get a package is when I shop online, which I have not been doing this year thus far. So when an unexpected package arrived on Saturday with my name on it, I was thrilled!
The return address was my dear friend and world-traveler, Neves. I was intrigued, since it surely meant treats from abroad. Indeed, the card inside said that she and hubby had made a last minute trip to Morocco recently, and I was the beneficiary of their generosity. Here's what she sent:(Darn, I wish my camera could handle these up close shots better. Maybe I just need a tutorial.)
It's a mini tagine. The large sized tagines are used for cooking delicious stews. This one will keep kosher salt on my dinner table. So fun!
My package from Neves also contained these:Again, the photo is disappointing, but these little packets with Arabic letters are full of saffron, one of the most expensive spices out there. And I love it. Break out the recipes with saffron! I'll post one soon. I immediately made an Indian chicken dish in honor of our newly acquired saffron. (You can sometimes find saffron at Trader Joe's at a great price. But not always.)
A mini tagine and some gourmet spices from Morocco are enough to make any girl feel loved!

Then, today, Jared brought in a package with the mail. I couldn't imagine what it was until I remembered that I had won a major award! Well, alright, it was actually a random drawing among readers of dkMommySpot, but I won it. And it is a book that looks delightful. Thanks, Diane!
I'll post a review of it as soon as I can . It looks like a wonderful book on parenting and I may find some great quotes to share with you.

All in all, the mailman has been good to me. Feel free to send me stuff in order to make it a trend!:)

The Parable of the Candy Bar and Other Thoughts on Happiness

A friend and I were recently discussing our different views about life. He does not consider himself to be religious. His family and upbringing were not religious at all, although he was raised in a loving home and taught good values. I, on the other hand, was raised in a devoutly religious environment and have adhered to my faith for my entire life.

My friend sees some things that he likes about the lives of members of my church. Specifically, he admires the importance placed on families and on strengthening marriages and families. He is not interested in what he perceives as all the rules and restrictions that our faith places upon us.

In our most recent conversation on the subject, he expressed that since I had never had the kind of life that he does, free from such restrictions, I don't know what I'm missing. I, of course, responeded that he doesn't know what he's missing! He is content with his life and sees no need for more than what he has.

I have been thinking a lot about our discussion since, and came up with my own analogy to explain to him the difference as I see it. We'll call it the parable of the candy bar. Most of you will find this to work for you, although McArthur, Nicolette, and Erika (who don't like chocolate,) will have to adjust the analogy a bit!

It is possible to have a good life without the Gospel of Jesus Christ, particularly if you espouse principles in common with Christianity such as helping others, honesty, kindness, loyalty, etc. People all over the world can testify of that. I will liken these lives to the insides of a candy bar. In the Snickers bar pictured above, the nougat, nuts, and caramel might represent a very good life without the Gospel. But there is something missing; in the candy bar, that something is chocolate. Chocolate adds richness, greater flavor, depth, and dimension to the candy bar. It elevates the candy experience beyond that of nougat, nuts, and caramel alone.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the chocolate on the candy bar of my life. It enriches my life, it gives me an understanding of the purpose of life, it helps me to have perspective beyond the here and now, and gives me the opportunity to experience true, lasting happiness. This happiness is greater than that which can be attained without the Gospel because of the peace that comes through the atonement of Christ.

The "restrictions," or commandments, are given for our benefit and our happiness. If we keep the law of chastity, we can avoid the pain and anguish of out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and infidelity. In addition, our monogamous relationships within marriage are enhanced by the fact that intimacy is something that we share exclusively with our spouses. If we keep the Word of Wisdom (the law of health, which calls for us to abstain from alcohol, tobacco, drugs, coffee, and tea,) we can be free of addiction and can avoid being driven by the substances that would enslave us and compromise our judgment. If we pay tithing, we are blessed both temporally and spiritually, and we learn to be unselfish and less materialistic. I could go on, but the point is that the chocolate couldn't be without the commandments. The joy would not be complete without the blessings that come from obedience to God's will.

The scriptures are full of counsel to be happy and guidance for how this can be achieved:

"And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God." (Mos. 2:41)

"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." (Prov. 29:18)

"If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." (John 13:17)

“[God] never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed, and which will not end in the greatest amount of good and glory to those who become the recipients of His law and ordinances. "--Joseph Smith, Jr. ( History of the Church, 5:135. )

"Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God"--Joseph Smith, Jr. (HC 5:134­35).

The long and the short of it is that God intends for us to be happy in this life as well as the next. True and lasting happiness is found in coming unto Christ and in obedience to His commandments. If you're only eating the nougat, caramel, and nuts, you're not getting the whole Snickers Bar!