31 December 2007

A significant improvement upon last year, I think...

So if my first New Year's Resolution were to get a good family picture in just one take, then I do believe I am on the ball.

Last year:

This year:

Hopefully this is a sign of many fulfilled resolutions to come!

27 December 2007

Gasp! She blogged!

All is calm, all is bright. I can thankfully say that now that Christmas Day has come and gone. Every year I try to keep the chaos to a minimum. Every year I think I've got things better organized. Every year I collapse on my sofa on the eve of Christmas Day and take a deep breath. "I did it" is all I can think. Pitiful, isn't it? I want to say that all my running around brought me closer to Christ; made my Christmas more special. But it isn't in the frosted cookies or the gifts delivered or the carols performed themselves that I find myself closer to Christ. Instead I find it in the happy faces of my family and friends who appreciate what I do. Going from utter unwrapping craziness to complete quiet and reverence as we kneel to pray as a family on Christmas night brings me closer to Christ.

A friend of mine recently lost her brother to the war in Iraq. Here is a woman who gives and gives. And gives. I think her life must feel like chaos sometimes,too. When I lost my mother and again when I went on bedrest with my 3rd child, she gave to me selflessly. I had the opportunity to serve her family on Christmas Eve this year. But it was difficult for me to keep my mind off the long list of minute details I needed to take care of for my own family. And those thoughts of "why did I say yes to all this stuff this year" creeped into my mind as it often does around Christmas Eve. Then it hit me, that if someone benefits from my craziness then it's all good. I may not feel the calm and bright until after Christmas Day has passed, but the loved ones around me are feeling it throughout the season, in part because of me and my habit of always adding one more thing to my plate. I am not justifying or condoning killing yourself off every Christmas. But I know that my memories of Christmas are all magical, because someone has given willingly of themself to make happiness happen.

I guess that getting swept up in the mayhem can be sort of a trade-off or reward. I feel satisfied today. I feel like I got what I needed to out of Christmas after all. There is a feeling of peace that envelops our home, and I am thankful for it, no matter how much work it took.

12 November 2007

Woman to Woman: Infertility and recurrent loss

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Today's topic is going mean so much more to some of us than others. Infertility is one of those issues that you may not know how to respond to if you don't have any intimate experience with it. When your body works and another woman's does not, you may feel guilty around them, or you may wonder how it is that God's greatest creation - that which was intended for multiplying and replenishing His earth - can have so many flaws that poise such great mysteries. You may not know how to comfort them. You may have a desire to find some common ground with them, only to realize that one or two miscarriages pale in comparison to their muliple losses. There are women who spend most of their adult lives trying to conceive just one child while others only need to glance in their husband's direction to get pregnant. I know just from watching others deal with it, that infertility is one of the most most heart wrenching challenges for women. And I have a few MOFS, as well as a cousin, who could go into much more detail about that then I. I've personally invited some of them to participate in today's topics, and as they add their links below, I'll be pointing them out... because they will say what I cannot. They know what I do not and never will know. It is important for us to hear the personal thoughts of the women who've got real experience with this. It may be the difference between us helping or hurting someone who'll need us to lean on and to understand, at least to an exent, the heartache they feel.

I went through a few of MOFs blogs and found (with their permission):
Olivia: http://addingonemore.blogspot.com/2007/03/sorry-so-boring.html
Jennifer: http://lordsofthemanor.blogspot.com/2007/09/supporting-grieving-process.html
Rachelle: http://teachergoingmad.blogspot.com/2006/12/happy-blogoversary-to-me.html

I'dalso like to point out below the links to Darci, Dawnyel and Alaina who participated in Woman toWoman because I begged them to share their experiences :)... and to everyone, thanks for putting yourself out there. I know it's not easy.

Be sure and visit my co-host, Morning Glory, for more posts on this topic.

10 November 2007

So here's the thing...

My life is chaos right now... organized chaos, but chaos nonetheless. Between selling our house, building a new one, and some family issues that really need my attention, I've been strapped for time and void of blogging fodder. I apologize for the memes I've dodged, the awards I've not passed on and the project I backed out of (sorry Karen). I am thankful that I am still thought of because I know this break will not be permanent. I may even post here and there. But the next few months will be tough... so please keep us in your thoughts and prayers if you have them to spare. :) In the meantime I hope you'll all still keep in touch. You can email me anytime!

Our "last" Woman to Woman (until further notice) will take place this Tuesday, November 11. The topic is infertility but I would also like to invite any bloggers who've dealt with recurrent loss to join us as well. And if you want to participate and do not have your own experiences to share, but have lended support to others who've struggled with this, we'd love to hear from you, too.

I'm sad that Woman to Woman has to be put on hold. When I began blogging I quickly discovered how much I love to write about womanhood and all it entails - from serious issues to those of a more lighthearted nature. Woman to Woman has allowed me to see how others embrace their womanhood. I've learned so much from this project (
as has Morning Glory) and I mean it when I say that it will return! As long as none of you go anywhere, I'll keep you posted as to when. :)

See you Tuesday!

07 November 2007

Heads up!

Cotton Spice Blog has a great last minute gift countdown going on right now (through November 17th). Go check it out, there are tons of great tutorials for handmade goodies. I'll have a tutorial up on her site this Saturday for my Whimsy Wipes. :)

31 October 2007

Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween and try to do something fun for my kids every year. This year they got spooky lunches: mummy tongue sandwiches and spider crackers! See http://familyfun.go.com/ for more fun ideas.

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23 October 2007

Woman to Woman: Dealing With Grief

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For Woman to Woman this week, I am going to share a post about my mother's death that I wrote a couple years ago. It details my feelings towards her and my childhood and her passing so well.

As for grieving, to say that it happens in stages is putting it mildly. Almost 4 years after my mother's death, I still feel the lows. On one hand, I am past it and have figured out how to live in this world without her in it, and on the other I can't let myself get over it. Admittedly there are days when I will myself to think about her and miss her. It is hard to describe - it's almost as if that keeps my heart tender rather than closed off or hardened.

This picture was taken about 3 1/2 years ago. It is my mother holding my second child when he was just a few months old. It is the most recent picture I have of her and, sadly, the last time she was ever in my home.

My mother passed away 2 years ago today. She was found by my 14 year old brother on the floor of her bedroom... with no clothes on, and in the middle of prescription medication and sleeping pills. It had been a few months since my parents' divorce. My father had been newly engaged to another woman for just 4 days. 1 week previous she'd sent all her children an incoherent "last letter" of sorts, which was our only real clue to the awful state she was in.

I still remember the phone call. "Leilani, this is Dad. Where are you? Sit down... I have some very sad news." And I knew. I knew what he was going to say before he said it. Because my mother had been in fast, downward, uncontrollable spiral since I'd last seen her 8 months previous. Still, I cried "What? What?!"

She died a lone woman. Her unknown disease had created a rift between she and every relative in her life by her last day. Our only guess at her ultimate demise is depression and a personality disorder brought on by an abusive childhood. She never got therapy or treatment for these, it is only the opinion of my own therapist. Her cause of death was determined to be an "accidental suicide". Her liver failed due to an excessive intake of prescription drug medication that was prescribed to her for migraines. She'd been refilling her prescription at several different pharmacies, and had been seeing several different doctors for the same diagnosis.

There are oftimes in life when we seek answers to questions, but do not get them right away, or in the way which we expect. For me, these questions were, "Why was I born into this family?" "Why is my mother never happy?" "Why if she loves me does she hurt me?" "Why if Heavenly Father loves me, does he not rescue me?" "Will I survive?" "Will we survive?" "Will I heal?" "Will I ever be able to forgive my mother and move on?" I did not receive an ounce of clairty as to why my mother was the way she was my entire life... only brief moments of peace and reprieve from the darkness that hung over our home. I knew my mother's childhood had been bad, but she never shared the details. I was angry because I didn't once feel like she was held responsible for the abuse she inflicted on others. I prayed and fasted and studied my scriptures and prayed some more. As an adult, I finally realized I just wasn't going to get an answer, and that my only method for survival would be to sever ties with her. And then she died her slow death, unwinding into a helpless child until she just gave up. And I still didn't get my answer, but I got closure and peace, which is just as good. Though she was not in the right state of mind when she passed away, nor had been for quite some time, her life was complete and there was some eternal purpose in the timing and circumstance of her death.

After planning her funeral, after picking out the best coffin (a purple one:)), after choosing a headstone, after writing her eulogy and lovingly dressing her in white for her burial, I knew that she was in good hands... that she was finally in a non-threatening environment where she could trust and heal properly. Would Heavenly Father have preferred that she'd been able to do that on her own on this earth life? Maybe. But I sincerely feel that her death was an act of mercy, that she had come as far as she could on is earth with what she'd been given, that along the way able people had failed her and therefore Him, and he couldn't let it go on.

I loved my mother dearly. Despite her total lack of understanding for the purpose of motherood, she served it and I loved her. I loved her and felt badly for her. She tried so deperately to give me the opportunities to pursue my dreams and have an enriching life. She wanted the opposite for me that she'd had. For her intentions, I am grateful. She sacrificed a lot for me. Although her expectations were unrealistic much of the time, and we her children sometimes paid dearly for it, I know that I would not be half the person I am today without the experiences she provided me with. And I very much like who I am and the things that I am able to do. I believe that despite her mistakes, she accomplished the most amazing feats of motherhood ... All her children are strong in their convictions. They are disciplined and accomplished and stable. She is remembered with only the best memories by all who knew her. There was a tremendous outpouring of love at her funeral service by over 150 guests. It was the most moving gathering I had ever experienced and was testimony to me that I should find the good part in my life with her and not look back.

I know with a burning that I will see her again, and that I will be in awe of her. All the best things about her will be magnified and she will have shed her insecurities and been healed of the wounds from her childhood. I don't know how I know that, I just do. It's an overwhelming feeling! I have forgiven her. While I have a hard time putting it into words, I now at least understand why things happened the way they did growing up in my house and no longer question it. All those awful years in that stifled home - the screaming, the fits of rage, the beatings, the humiliation and degradation, and the confusion were the mysterious ways in which our Heavenly Father works on us... With a combination of testing us and weakening us and making us strong again and again, we are made unmovable.

I'm anxious to read what you all have to say on this subject. I'll be by later today! Don't forget to visit my co-host Morning Glory!

18 October 2007

Woman to Woman

Woman to Woman takes place again on Tuesday, Oct. 23. The topic is "Dealing With Grief"

Grief is a difficult process. And almost everyone has experienced it in some form, be it losing a spouse, a parent, a relative, a pet, a child or through miscarriage. Please share with our readers what you have found to be effective in helping you come to terms with the death of a loved one. How has it changed your life? How have you been able to move forward?

Morning Glory and I will be around to read everyone's contribution. I know I have not been around much but I am 100% committed to Woman to Woman, so please join in!

15 October 2007

Pretend Play

My kids have no school today, so I've given them some ideas for pretend play and they are having a blast! Pretend play helps children in all areas of development: language, intellectual, social and motor. And children that are good at pretend play often become good readers and writers with vivid imaginations.

Collect and sort a few props:

stuffed animals, empty pet food boxes, pet toys, food bowls, , child size broom, animal books

calculator/toy cash register, bags,sacks, food boxes/cans, coupons, play money, signs/newspaper ads, plastic food, stickers (price tags), baskets

books, old magazines, index cards, videos, audio tapes, rubber stamps

lots of shoes in various sizes, shoe boxes, play money, rulers, socks, sacks

paper, pens, calculator, tote bags, rubber stamps, paper clips, telephone, enevelopes, tape, file folders, scissors

junk mail, envelopes, small boxes, stickers/stamps, shoulder bags, rubber stamps

10 October 2007

maternity photo shoot

I've always loved photography - especially children's photography. Today I had the opportuntiy to take pictures of one of my beautiful pregnant friends. It was so much fun! I have to share some of the pictures with you...

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08 October 2007

Woman to Woman Book Review

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The Girls by Lori Lansens is a real page turner. Written so realistically that you forget that it is fiction, conjoined twins Rose and Ruby take turns sharing the intricacies of their life together as the oldest living craniopagus twins, striving to reach their 30th birthday.

Rose carries the main voice. She begins the "autobiography" almost exclusively, sharing the detailed story of their birth and their childhood with the generous Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash. As her writings unfold, she invites Ruby to share her thoughts and feelings. Neither of them know what the other has written, although they do share certain instincts. But their differing perspectives provide interesting insight into the challenges they face together.

The girls are very different from one another. Rose is extremely intelligent. Her interests include reading, writing, and all things intellectual. Her sister Ruby is kind of a carefree sprit - likes to sing, and quite frankly is much more interested in celebrity gossip than the news. But they own themselves with a confidence that is inspiring.

Rose walks for the two of them. Because of Ruby's deformities and the fact that she is much smaller, Rose has to support her on her hip. Rose is very conscious of the fact that while she may have the working body, she is not as pleasant to look at as Ruby, known as the "pretty" one.

It is amazing to me how matter of fact the girls are about their lives. There is so much give and take between the two of them and it is not always fairly balanced. And although they work together like a well oiled machine, they are two very distinct women. This is obvious in their interpretation of certain events in their life. But the two viewpoints are necessary in capturing the whole picture of their experience, since one sees things plainly while the other is analytical.

Every turn of this story invokes a different emotion. It satisfies curiosity, it is humorous and it is heartfelt. There is mystery, there is love and there is tragedy. You've got to read it!

Visit more Woman to Woman participants who have linked up over at Morning Glory's blog!

05 October 2007

Just a reminder...

... that Woman to Woman is on Tuesday, Oct. 9! We're reviewing and sharing our thoughts on books; any fiction or mystery that you've read in the last 3 months is fine! Since the Woman to Woman particpants have always had incredible thoughts to share, it should be fun, so don't miss it!!!

02 October 2007

Font Fun

If you're into digital scrapbooking, you might be interested to know that I have a few fonts that are available or will be available in the coming months at http://fontologie.com.

"No two are the same" is currently available for free
HERE (but not for much longer):
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"Tall, dark and simple":
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"No two are the same 2":
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27 September 2007

13 great fall looks, tastes and crafts

1. follow the dots pumpkins
2. template
little accents
pumpkin pedestals
5. etched pumpkins... you need a pumpkin patch for this one... 3 weeks before picking, clean with a solution of water + 10% bleach. etch a design, your surname, or something like "welcome" into the outer skin (only 1/32 of an inch in). continue to clean with a solution of water + 10% bleach every 2-3 days.
outdoor lighting with apples
7. pumpkin pudding (allrecipes.com):

29 oz. can of pumpkin
2/3 c white sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t pumpkin pie spcie
1/2 package spice cake mix
1/4 cup margarine, melted
1/2 c chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9x13 baking dish.
Blend together sugar, eggs, evaporated milk,pumpkin, cinnamon, salt, clove and pie spice. Pour into baking dish.
Spread dry cake mix over pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon, margarine, chopped nuts.
Bake for 60 min. or until knife comes out clean. Serve with whipped cream if desired.
8. rich sweet potato souffle with praline topping (my aunt's recipe):
4 med. sweet potatoes, peeled and halved
1/2 c white suagr
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1 large egg white
1 (5 fluid oz.) can evaporated milk
praline topping:
1 c flour
2/3 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c chopped pecans, toasted
1/4 stick margine, melted
1/2 t ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 qt. casserole dish.
Comgine praline ingredients in small bowl, stirrign to form a streusel. Set aside.
Place potatoes in a dtch oven, add water to cover. Bring to boil, reduce heat and let simmer 30 min. or until tender. Peel.
Mash in large bowl.
Stir in 1 c streusel, white sugar, vanilla, egg white and milk.
Sponn into casserole dish and top with remaining streusel.
Bake for 45 min.
9. oatmeal cookies (my mom's recipe):
1 c soft shortening
1 c white sugar
1 c packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 c sifted flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t nutmeg
3 c rolled oats
1 c peanut butter (optional)
2 c chopped chocolate bar (optional)
Preheat over to 375. Grease cookie sheet.
Place shortening, sugars, eggs, peanut butter and vanilla in mixing bowl; beat thoroughly.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; add to shortening mixture. Mix thoroughly.
Stir in oats and choclate pieces.
Drop by the spoonful onto cookie sheet.
Bake 12-15 min.
batty finger puppets
acorn pumpkins
Boo typography (how easy would this be to do yourself?)
cookie cutter pumpkins

Happy Thursday Thirteen!

24 September 2007

Woman to Woman: Facing your parenting fears

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It's interesting how intimidating parenthood can be. I mean, how much trouble can these little people really cause?

I remember being afraid to leave the hospital with my first child. Breastfeeding alone had me completely flustered, and I'd grip my husband's hand every time this teeny little mouth would latch on to me. And then again when my mother left, after taking care of me, the baby, my husband and my apartment for 10 days, I was afraid. How on earth was I going to do this?

As the years have passed and more children have joined our family, I wish I could say that all the fear has left me. It hasn't. Just tonight as I laid the last child down to sleep, I thought "Phew, I made it through another day." Today, I forgot to send my son's homework back to school with him. Also, an apple for his class project. I prayed all day long that my 14 month old would take a decent nap (she's teething) because I didn't feel confident that I could get through the second half of the day without some kind of a breather. I find my daughter's math homework (she's in 3rd grade) perplexing, I hope I'll remember to wash the jam off their faces before they leave the house, and if I've not run so late that they didn't get a sack lunch - I am relieved.

They say dogs can smell fear. Well, I think children can, too.

From the time they are 20 inches long they can tell what you're thinking and feeling. I think I've gotten the baby thing down. (That's why I keep having them. :) I feel very, VERY competent calming a fussy baby. I vividly remember watching my mother-in-law with one of my colicky infants. She took him into her arms with such surety. And rather than get flustered by his cries, nervously rambling or throwing gas drops at him (not that I ever did that, lol) she just gently swayed him and softly sang him a song. At first I thought "Come on, he can't even hear you!" But it totally worked. He could sense that she not only knew what she was doing, but she KNEW she knew what she was doing. And that was a lesson to me. (Do not let the 20 inch little people intimidate you! Lol.)

Now, the 32 inch and up little people still get the best of me sometimes. Especially out in public. But I am getting better at that, too. However, anywhere we go there is a potential risk that I will lose control of them. They're that unpredictable. (Aren't they all? And have you noticed how the world transforms into this mecca of testing grounds once you've got a kid? I never got nervous eating out before I had a 2 year old that could not master a chair with no restraining devices.)

The first time I took all 4 kids out by myself (and the Sasha was barely 2 months old) I was sweating BULLETS I tell you. Oh my gosh the sweet feeling of relief that washed over me as I exited the check-out line with 4 smiling faces was like none other. And a few women that I passed on my way out of the store said ego boosting things, like "You're amazing." and "You're so brave!" And I thought "Here, here! I am not afraid!"

Of course there are also the fears I have yet to encounter, but know I will have to face. Bigger fears like sending my children off to junior high where the other kids will be pressuring them to grow up too fast, shut themselves off from me, and make poor decisions. Fears like letting them drive, and date and move away for college. And I know they will be watching me as they go through these things, to see how confident I am in them, and therefore myself as a parent.

What are your apprehensions? Getting through church without a meltdown perhaps? Or discussing serious issues with your teenagers? Life can be pretty tricky when you're raising a family. So please share your thoughts - funny stories, clever anecdotes, and pearls of wisdom are all welcome. If you'll link up below and leave a comment, my co-host Morning Glory and I will stop by and read what you have to say!

baby bling

My friend and I co-hosted a bow and bracelet making class at my home last week. Look how fun these are!

20 September 2007

Facing your parenting fears

Woman to Woman will continue on September 25 with a Tips and Tricks edition. The topic is "Facing your parenting fears". We all have them, apprehensions that is. It may be the idea of going out to a restaurant as a family, or getting through church, or just a simple trip to the grocery store that gives you the sweats. Everything is tricky when you have children in tow. So please share your thoughts with us - funny stories, clever anecdotes, even your pearls of wisdom - on Tuesday, September 25th. My co-host Morning Glory and I will be anxious to hear what you all have to say!!!

Remember to submit your ideas for future topics. We'll need them come the New Year!

17 September 2007

Getting to know me...

*Edited and entered into Scribbit's September write-away contest.

I am learning a lot about myself in the process of purging my house. It's not an overdue Spring cleaning that drives me, but a necessary attempt to get organized as we put our house on the market. Who'd have thought that such a process could lead to so much self discovery?

I am crafty. Now there's a word I hate. I'm not sure why. I guess in my mind, "crafty" spawns images of bows and painted t-shirts. Holiday themed outfits. Gawdy decor. But "crafty" is taking on a new persona. Today's "crafty" women are artists in their own rite. They are creative and they are entrepreneurs and I am definitely one of them. There's no more denying it; I've got 2 or 3 crates full of craftiness to prove it: paint and brushes, canvases, ribbon, material scraps, stamps, cardstock, scrapbooking paper and mod podge to boot.

I've always thought of myself as a reasonable woman, not too "high demand" if you know what I mean. Manicures are not for me. But 51 pairs of shoes tells me I've just found an alternative source of self indulgence. It's all beginning to come together now - the little vein popping out of my husband's forehead, the mysteriously low discretionary funds. Can I plead the 5th on this one? Luckily the home we will be building promises a master closet that will house 4 times this many shoes. Being the visual man that my husband is, space will engulf my shoe collection and he might actually think I have parted with a few pairs.

I am totally unprepared for Christmas this year. It's shameful, really. I usually have a good stash hidden behind my clothes by now! I looked back there today and literally gasped. The cupboard is bare, my friends. Christmas is but 3 months, 7 days, 7 hours and 28 minutes away! I hate fighting the crowds during November and December. And I much prefer to sit back and enjoy the season than run around like a chicken with it's head cut off. So I should have begun preparing weeks ago. That way by December I am stresslessly baking and listening to Bing Crosby.

While I may have no presents to wrap, I do in fact have plenty of wrapping paper, ribbon, cards and embellishments. Each Christmas morning I am equipped with 2 things - a bag for recyclable ribbons and a box for recyclable cards, wrapping and tissue paper. Is it bad that my kids know how to unwrap a present without ripping it? I mean, I am teaching them frugality. That's a valuable trait. Please tell me this won't leave them feeling repressed.

I am oblivious to the basic nutrients needed to sustain a family in a crisis. I have plenty of chocolate in my food storage: chocolate pudding, hot chocolate, brownie mix and chocolate chips. (So hey - if I'm menstruating, at least I'LL survive.) But where are the legumes? Where is the rice? Protein, schmotein, surely we need antioxidants more! And the fixin's for a party. That'll be my solution to the mayhem or emergency that requires the use of my food storage to begin with.

You see how much progress I am making here? I guess a closet can tell a lot about a person. Mine was much messier than I realized. I keep a fairly tidy house though, so what else does that say? Ah forget it, I've learned enough about myself for one day.

16 September 2007

Just rolling with the punches...

You can expect my next few months of blogging to be all about endurance. And sometimes just plain survival.

I've had a headache since Tuesday... some days it feels like a kink in my neck, other days it is a dull throb. Regardless, ibuprofren and heat have been my friend. To say I have a lot going on right now is putting it mildly. So stress and tension are likely contributors. So is over-exertion. After my workout on Tuesday morning, I nearly passed out while driving home, and then had to leave my two youngest in the car while I got the blood flowing back to my head. Dh had to come home from work so I could rest... I remained weak and shaky for the rest of the day. My guess is that with a 700 calorie burn workout, you need more than cereal and eggs to fuel you for 2 hours. During Thursday's workout, I sipped on a vitamin drink and it helped immensely. Hypoglycemia anyone?

My immediate family (parent/siblings) is struggling. A lot. I won't go into a lot of detail about it, because it is just so complicated - not to mention personal, but I would really appreciate extra prayers for comfort.

I cleared out a whole closet this weekend. Whoop-de-doo. Considering how I was feeling, it's pretty good progress. Considering what we were hoping to accomplish (all closets and the garage), it ain't so great.

I hope to be able to pick your brains for fun wall colors and interior design ideas soon... my creative blog will be merging with this one, so be prepared to think artistically (I know, it's not so nice for me to switch gears on you all like this!).

13 September 2007

13 things on my "to do" list

get off my rear
purge closets
thin out furniture
organize a garage sale
fine comb the house for fix-its and repairs
deep clean
refine landscaping
get creative with house selling strategies (should I bake cookies or light candles for the open house?)
keep the house clean 24/7 (in other words, attain the impossible?)
truly envision what I want the interior of our new home to look like
keep end goal in mind
stay sane

Now if I could find 13 volunteers to help me?

10 September 2007

Woman to Woman

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Today for Woman to Woman we're taking a few moments out of our busy days to reflect on our blessings and the things which we are grateful for. I think that for many people, 9/11 was an eye opener. It's helped us to realize that there are a great many things that we take for granted. Please join us today for some introspection and share with us 11 things that you are thankful for. It feels so good to give reverence to such a pivotal day in our history by recognizing the good things of the world.

1. my family - I couldn't bear to lose them. I'm not sure where that kind of strength comes from, the kind that keeps you going despite losing your soulmate, or a child, in a tragic situation. That's got to be one of the most defining moments in your life.

2. freedom - I am free to live the life that I want to, to believe what I feel is right, to govern myself and my children as I see fit, and to voice my opinions and concerns.

3. faith - Faith is the most powerful thing which you cannot see or touch. It is the only tool with which you can endure.

4. security - I feel safe. In this unpredictable world it is nice to feel comfort and stability.

5. health - I'm glad that I am able to care for my family without any ailments. I'm glad I have a strong and capable body.

6. laughter - Nothing cures better than a good, long laugh. It's healing powers and the relief it brings are unparalleled.

7. motherhood - I am certain that I would not become the woman I want to be any other way.

8. womanhood - There is so much joy and possibility in being a woman.

9. love - How can one go through life without loving or feeling loved?

10. music - I feel so lucky to have more than one means to express and share myself.

11. time - Thank goodness we have a lifetime to fulfill our earthly missions. I know it often feels like there is such little time, but not if you make the most of it.

If you've decided to join us today, please stop by my co-host
Morning Glory's blog as well. Leave us a link and a comment so we can each visit you in return!

08 September 2007

Chug, chug, chug

My life is mostly about endurance right now. We've got some big changes ahead of us.

First of all, we are building a new house. The process of preparing your house to sell and moving is not much fun! It is forcing me to really get organized, something I really detest. I am a particular person, yes. I like to have order. But I am not anal. So when our realtor walked through our house and pointed out all the little details that needed attention, I got a little irked. I mean, I've lived with imperfect floorbaords for 7 years. Why do they need to be perfect now? :) But I understand what will ensure the best offer for our house, and that's important to me. So I will do it. But I won't be smiling! Lol!

Second of all, I've taken my health and fitness level more seriously over the last 2-3 weeks. I've stepped up my game by hiring a personal trainer. I work out with her for an hour twice a week, and on my own the other 3 days. I am running, I am lifting weights, and I am seeing just how amazing the human body can be! But I'm not enjoying the process much. It is hard, hard work to get fit. I am just beginning to really accept that. It does help that I feel FANTASTIC.

I am bringing my family on board with me slowly but surely. I have a son with ADHD and it is very important to me that I help him from every possible angle. Since his diet could be a huge contributing factor to this disorder, I am giving it a little extra attention. But we're all going to support him in this effort by working together, and that means eating the same nutritious foods. Again, a difficult change, but one that will have a positive outcome.

In these and other big things I've faced in my life, I've often told myself initially, "I can't do it, it's too much." I am one of those people that tries to be very realistic about what I can do. I don't want to take on too much and have other things fail. Self talk is so important, though. Mindset is so important. It truly affects the outcome. So I will not give power to these difficult things. I CAN do it. I CAN endure. And it will be worth it in the end.

My life is kind of a stopwatch right now. I sprint through what I can, in order of importance. So my blogging may not be real consistent over the next few months. If anyone understands the ups and downs, it's you women! I know you "get it".

I'll be around as much as possible. Especially for Woman to Woman. Stick around, would ya

06 September 2007

Next Woman to Woman

We're coming up to the next Woman to Woman writing day, which will be Tuesday, September 11. Our theme has been changed to Gratitude. MG and I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to share specific things we are grateful for, so on Tuesday your writing assignment will be to list eleven items of gratitude, along with an explanation. (The significance being that it's Sept. 11.) I know we all have much in our lives for which to be grateful, so it should be a fairly easy topic for everyone.

On October 9, Woman to Woman will be hosting a book review. So please report on and recommend a book that you have read within the past 3 months. You may choose any book that falls into the categories of either Fiction or Mystery.

The final item regarding W to W is that we are coming to the last few weeks of topics. Our current schedule ends on December 11. We would like to offer our readers the opportunity for input on future topics, because we'd like to continue the W to W series as long as there's interest. If you have a topic you'd like to suggest, please email it to us for consideration. Our intent is to address subjects that are pertinent in women's lives whether you are a newlywed, middle aged or senior adult. We believe we all have something to share and learn together.Please keep in mind that we do not address religious differences or political issues. Those can be very divisive and our goal is to unite. We each have our email address in our blog profiles, so you shouldn't have difficulty contacting us.

Have a fabulous day!

05 September 2007

Name Meme

Last week or so Morning Glory tagged me to do this cool name meme. You're supposed to "write" out the names of several bloggers (including the one that tagged you) in a unique way. Those bloggers are then tagged to do the same. As Morning Glory stated in her post, it is very time consuming. So, I stopped at 2. Lol! But, if these creative gals have the drive (and I tagged them because they are such talented, gifted women), I encourage them to do more than 2.

Here is Morning Glory's, abbreviated. ;)

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My dear friend at
Fresh Preserves, who I know could have a real blast with this!

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And this talented artist from
The Art of Life.

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Have fun, ladies!

03 September 2007

I'm losing you...

(Disable my music player for video below)

The 2 little girls in this household are growing up way too quickly. Here we have Sasha, running away from me (just as I'd feared).

And here we have Adriana. In 3rd grade. Just got her ears pierced. Loves her mp3 player and reads Harry Potter. I can't take it! I want to freeze time...

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31 August 2007

And the winner is...

Jean Knee, from put some polka dots on it! Congratulations, Jean! Email me your address, and your loot will be on it's way!

30 August 2007

I choose to be a mom...

Everyday, I choose to be a mom. I choose to devote my time. I choose to set me aside a lot of the time. I choose to bite my tongue when I am angry. I choose to give us all a time out when I feel like I am losing it. I choose to play Candy Land, even though I hate board games. I choose to sing the same 3 songs every night at bedtime. I choose to read my children books. I choose to smile and give hugs even when I am worn out. I choose to listen to their little concerns.

I choose to give them hope. I choose to teach them acceptance. I choose to let them explore. I choose to let them learn.

I choose to worry about them. I choose to check on them during the night. I choose to get teary when they accomplish the little things. I choose to let myself submit to them. I choose to take charge. I choose to relish the things in their little world. I choose to teach them how to grow up. I choose to say I'm sorry. I choose to teach them responsibility.

I choose to take good care of myself. I choose to be able to run around after them. I choose to be well rested for them. I choose to share my passions with them. I choose to let them be part of my life. I choose to be part of theirs. I choose to receive heavenly guidance. I choose to tell them I am weak without guidance. I choose to give myself a break. I choose to give my husband experience. I choose to give my children independence. I choose to give them dependence.

Motherhood is a selfless existence, but the most nourishing one.

29 August 2007

27 August 2007

Woman to Woman: Learning to say no"

A lot of women feel like they have to "do it all", regardless of what may be realistic for them. Do you fall into this category? Can you just not resist the urge to be involved in everything? Or have you learned to say no? Have you taken a step backward and seen positive results? Share your frustrations or share your advice... Tell us what you think about the current trend to be all things to all people.

I know so many women, myself included, that are afraid to say no. I have my limitations, but I definitely fall into this category, and in some arenas more than others. When the volunteer forms get passed around at the beginning of the school year, for instance, I begin trying to finagle a way around the fact that I have 2 babies at home. And I feel defeated and like a slacker mom when I realize I can't make it happen without incurring a rather large babysitting bill. All because it's not my face behind the counter at the Book Fair that my daughter sees! It's ridiculous now that I am actually typing it out. I know that I have years ahead of me to do these kinds of things, but I can't seem to shake that feeling that I am missing out on something big by not being there in the center of it all.

I attribute these obligatory feelings to my ever bustling mother, who was on the PTA, headed the neighborhhood carnival and Halloween festival, handmade many of my clothes, performed with a Hawaiian entertainment group, served as a youth group leader and was my room mother nearly every year. Yeah she was the woman everyone loved to hate... cape securely fastened at all times. I feel drawn to this crazy busy lifestyle because I grew up in it! But I remember eating dinner in the car more than I remember tender moments at home as a family. So in the past year my life has slowed down significantly. I taught private violin/viola lessons for years and have stopped. I've stopped volunteering to host all the baby showers for my friends. I haven't designed a wedding reception in over a year. I have realized how much happier I and my family are when I am able to sit down and just breathe. Just be with them. I've called it surrendering to motherhood, but really it's just accepting my capabilities and the needs of my family. I want my children to remember their time with me more than any of my grand contributions. And I want them to learn the importance of balance in their lives. Time management and prioritization are not skills that are taught in school; they are exemplified at home. "Do not run faster than ye have strength" has a particular resonance when I think of this important lesson.
I'd also like to add here (and this is a *bit* of an aside) that there are low energy people and there are high energy people. We must not feel like our level of activity or involvement or amount that we give "qualifies" us. Morning Glory points out in her post, that just because some people don't speak up or jump at opportunities to lead or serve doesn't mean they don't want to or are not capable of it. President Spencer W. Kimball of the LDS Church said, "We must lay upon the alter of sacrifice that which is required of love." Well, that is different for each of us. We mustn't doubt our offerings. The Lord knows what we have to give; we don't have to merit it. It is the adversary that tells us we aren't good enough, we don't do enough, etc., etc.

I believe there is a time and season for everything; that I can have it all, just not at the same time. I am committed to my decision to be a mother. And I haven't surrendered my happiness... I still accept the occasional gig around town. I'll teach a random art or design class here and there. I serve callings in church. I offer to bring my best dish to the baby showers rather than host them. And it may be a few years before I am on the PTA, but I bring my violin to the school every year for the Christmas parties and I serenade the children. It's fulfilling, and it's just enough.

Thank you for joining us today! Please take some time to visit my co-host, Morning Glory.

24 August 2007

Woman to Woman events and a give-away

The topic for Woman to Woman on Tuesday, August 28th, will be "Learning to say no". A lot of women feel like they have to "do it all", regardless of what may be realistic for them. Do you fall into this category? Can you just not resist the urge to be involved in everything? Or have you learned to say no? Have you taken a step backward and seen positive results? Share your frustrations or share your advice... Tell us what you think about the current trend to be all things to all people.

In October we will be having a Woman to Woman book review! Morning Glory loves mysteries and I love fiction. So we decided that we would let you choose anything from those two genres. Start thinking now of a book that has had an impact on you. It will be fun to hear each other's reviews and I suspect it will also give us each some new ideas for "what to read next".

The remaining topics will be as follows:

8/28-Learning to say "no"
9/11-Overcoming the "people pleaser" syndrome
9/25-TIPS AND TRICKS facing your parenting fears
10/9-book review
10/23-Dealing with grief
11/13-Being single again
12/11-Trying to be something/someone you are not

Come one, come all, and join us on Tuesday!


I need to close out the summer by giving something away. This time there is something for Mommy AND baby! So please leave a comment in this post (lurkers - you too!) and you will be entered in a drawing for this covered baby wipes container and miniature desk organization kit, all of which are very matchy-matchy and cute. The winner will be announced on Friday, August 30. So there is plenty of time to get a good group of entrees and create lots of yummy anticipation!

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21 August 2007

What memories are made of...

This post was written for and submitted to Scribbit's Write-away Contest.

Her first obsession (that I remember) was with the color purple. It did not matter what the object was, she always bought a purple one. There was a store at the mall called "The Color Purple". When she discovered it, I remember thinking "Holy crap, there are other people out there who have a color fixation?" Never in one place have I seen so many people decked out in purple - purple shirts, purple jewelry, purple handbags, purple socks. Purple hats.

Her collections evolved over the years. Magnets, Coca-Cola memorabilia, watermelon arts and crafts, and cherub angels adorned our house. Regardless of what the current trend was, her interest in it grew exponentially, and she just ended up with a lot of junk. We lived in a modest sized home,and when she ran out of room to display all these things, they'd get stashed in a corner somewhere in her room. Eventually, she had piles upon piles of bags with unopened items in them, tags and all.

I was oblivious to the rise of this problem until she passed away. I was the first one to go through the house and begin to organize and sort through her things. I've known several people to enjoy "collections"... but to find garbage sacks full of receipts and Christmas cards dating back 20 years? That was a sign of something more like a compulsion. It turns out that she met the criteria for a psychological condition called hoarding.

When collecting "stuff" becomes a hobby, few things hold any real value. I discovered picture albums of my children, jewelry and art work that I'd given to or made for her, still in their original box. This caused me great sadness, to know that all the piles of junk comforted her and kept her company, while things that were thoughtfully picked out by those who loved her left little impression. Hoarding gave her a false sense of security... it helped her fight off the loneliness she insisted upon.

I've never had an ongoing collection of my own. I have a strong aversion to the whole idea. I know that collecting things is not unhealthy, but it was taken to such an extreme in my home that I'm leary of it. There have certainly been things I've liked well enough over the years, though.

When my mother visited us after the birth of our first son, she brought me a willow tree angel in the shape of a little boy hugging his dog. It was a perfect addition to the puppy themed nursery, and I loved its simplicity. It now sits on my secretary with a few others that have marked special occasions, and has become part of a tradition. They represent our ever growing family.

I bought my first antique bobbin at a tiny second hand store in southern Utah. The significance of it was that it was the first real decorative item I'd purchased for our tiny apartment. I loved the aged wood and the different shapes and sizes they came in. I loved that something old could become something new, as I'd chosen to use it as taper candle holder. I now have a bundle of them on top of an antique chest I inherited from my great aunt. Such unique and beautiful objects that hold a bit of history as well.

The first water pitcher I bought was for the top of my cabinets in the kitchen of our first home. I was bound and determined to stay away from those fake silk plants everyone else was buying, and it looked so elegant up there. It just didn't make the statement I wanted all by itself. Suddenly pitchers were catching my attention in every store I entered. But I bought only enough to fill the space I'd designated, and I think they say a little about who I am - eclectic and creative. Each pitcher is completely different from the next... one has polka dots, one has stripes, another a toile pattern. One is white, another is blue, a few are multi-colored.

I am content to have just a few of these things. I remember the circumstances under which I bought or received each one of them, and they are of value to me because of this significance. I love the idea of them getting passed down, generation to generation... of becoming heirlooms and telling stories about me and my life, my personality and my interests... of representing real memories.

20 August 2007

Are you focused?

This morning I attempted to workout at home. I sent my older children into the backyard to play with the water table, and brought the baby into the living room with me for an hour of FitTV. I got down on my mat ready to crunch, crunch, crunch when Sasha seized the opporunity to climb on me. I struggled to see the screen,what with her in my face giggling. I struggled to lift my torso off the floor,what with her lying on my chest. Then I hear the instructor say,"Are you focusing?" And the answer to that would have been "No"! I persisted, taking short breaks to go out back and wrangle the kids back over to their activity, fetch more water and fish stuff Sasha had found on the floor out of her mouth. Again the instructor said "Don't let yourself get distracted, really focus on what you're doing." Okay lady, I thought... are you spying on me?

Of course this got me thinking more deeply (I have a bad habit of that,eh?)... I have not been very "focused" on anything lately. I have a lot of balls up in the air, and I am not sure anything is really getting my attention. My husband has always had a simple answer for this... "Cut back". To which I classically retort that everything going on in my life is of utmost importance and if I cut back the world just won't get on.

But I've decided to try and focus on just a couple things at a time. I figure every few months, I can juggle things a bit and focus somewhere else. But I have to get my priorities straight and see things from start to finish before taking on something new. I need to get my kids focusing, too. School starts next week and they are as much in the Land of Lala as I have been. Plus, if I am successful in getting them back in focus mode, then I will have fewer interuptions and be able to get my level of productivity back up where it should be.

At least when it comes to crunches. ;)

15 August 2007

Did you think to pray?

I am fortunate to have music in my life. There are few things that provide me with such comfort. Often when I need it, the words of a familair hymn will slip into my mind. As we approach a new school year, there is much anxiety at my house... particularly in that of my ADHD 5 year old. This is very trying for me and I struggle with finding the patience I need to handle him on some days. One day last week, he'd been hitting and kicking and screaming and furniture leaping for several hours. And I'd yelled and screamed, and sent him to his room, and even thought of just sticking him in the backyard (yikes). Then, these words penetrated my thoughts:

Oh, how praying rests the weary!

Prayer will change the night to day.

So, when life gets dark and dreary,

Don't forget to pray.

I wonder, do moms pray throughout their day as often as they need to? I will sometimes vent to a friend before even thinking of praying for patience. And if you think about it, there are fewer situations that require more companionship from the Lord than motherhood. Somehow, though, we feel we need to suffer it alone. We just need to be stronger and try harder. Asking for help is a sign of weakness. That is not so!

So that's my gentle reminder for today. Pray. "Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him. Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening." (Alma 34: 19, 21)


Blackeyed Sue from For Better or For Worse tagged me to do this meme!
5 Things I Was Doing 10 Years Ago:
1. Enjoying the life of a newly wed.
2. Gearing up for my senior year of college.
3. Discovering Martha Stewart.
4. Playing for various recording studios.
5. Sleeping alone for most of the night (dh worked graveyards).

5 Things on my to-do list:
1. Take Jonah and Drew to occupational therapy.
2. Go to the grocery store.
3. Vacuum downstairs.
4. Clean the fans.
5. Call Lexye about zilching (classical version of a jam session)

5 Snacks I enjoy:
1. chocolate oreo cakesters (they are brand new and to die for)
2. reduced fat peanut butter on a banana
3. strawberry banana yogurt
4. popcorn
5. tillamook cheese and wheat thins

5 Songs I know the lyrics to:
1. "End of the World" by R.E.M.
2. "Closer to Fine" by Indigo Girls
3. "Wild Horses" by U2
4. "If You Leave" by OMD
5. "O mio babbino caro" from La Boheme

5 Things I would do if I were a millionaire:
1. Open my performing arts school.
2. Fill those college, mission and wedding funds.
3. Buy dh a big boat. Lol.
4. Go to Italy and research the birth towns of my ancestors.
5. Get a Victorian fixer upper on the side.

5 Bad Habits:
1. I use Q Tips to clean my ears.
2. I rarely floss.
3. I stay up too late at night.
4. Overdoing things.
5. Forgetting to recharge my cell phone.

5 Things I'd never wear again:
1. lycra stirrup unitards with clashing trunks
2. ribbons in my hair
3. splatter paint
4. fluorescent colors
5. Keds. I'm sorry, I just can't do it. No matter how hard they try to design a more modern sneaker.

5 Favorite toys:
1. My Nikon D50
2. My laptop
3. My Kitchenaid mixer
4. Photoshop
5. My graphic writing tablet.

I know this meme has made the rounds. I invite anyone who has not done it yet to participate!

I was awarded this "Nice Matters Award" by my good friend Morning Glory, who should be on speed type by now.:) I wish I knew where this sweet little award originated... it's such a thoughtful idea.

More about this award: It is for "those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends & those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world. Once you've been awarded please pass it on to 7 others who you feel are deserving of this award."

13 August 2007

Woman to Woman: dealing with aging parents

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There are many women who still have one or both parents living. As our parents age and move into their 80s and 90s, they often need a family member to care for them. Are you currently the caregiver for a parent? Perhaps you are the caregiver for a beloved grandparent. What have you observed through this process and how have you worked this caregiving into your family life? What difficulties have you encountered, and how have you resolved them? What has been successful for you?

My husband and I have yet to deal with this, although his parents are currently in their 70s/80s. His father was diagnosed with colon cancer about 11 years ago, and received chemo for a year, but is now in remission. He is relatively healthy for an 81 year old, but the signs of aging are there and each time we see him he seems to have a little less pep in his step. I can tell this wears on dh. If we are not expecting a phone call from his parents, and we receive one, his first question is always "What's wrong?" But for now, our worries are unfounded. And we are grateful that he remains a very lucid, happy man.

Dh's mother, however, shared some thoughts with me from her experiences with caring for her father in his old age. It felt very natural for her to take him into her home. She was always very close to him, and when her mother passed away she knew instantly that she wanted to be his caretaker. It presented it's hardships, like lack of privacy. And he had some annoying habits, like continuosly crossing and uncrossing his legs. She could see it out of the corner of her eye as they sat and read in the quiet evenings. Furthermore, she could hear it, and found it to be very distracting. There were also times when he was impatient with her - wanting to have certain things done right away. And he'd follow her around the house until it got done. She'd sometimes have to find an excuse to shut herself off in her room and take a breather. But overall, he was kind and easy tempered. He enjoyed being around his grandchildren, and they him. She feels they gained a sincere appreciation for him (particularly the quarters he gave them for candy).

One thing she said was very successful was giving him his own space. His bedroom contained his own furniture, brought with him from his previous home. This provided him with both familiarity and comfort. The bedroom was also off limits to her children, so he could have privacy when he desired it. They owned a big leather chair which he loved to sit in during the day, alternately reading and falling asleep. It belonged to her husband, however, and when he got home from work HE wanted to relax in it. Sometimes her father would be asleep in the chair, oblivious to the fact that he was being watched and was expected to move. Other times he was awake, and more than willing to relinquish the comfortable spot to it's owner. But she took him out shopping for his own chair. He chose a recliner that he just loved, and that simple act really made him feel as if he was no longer a guest, but truly a member of their family.

To say everything was perfect would be false. Towards the end, as he got sicker, he'd take his frustrations out on his daughter. He became very hard of hearing, and including him in conversations became increasingly difficult for the both of them. He felt shut out much of the time, and she felt frustrated trying to communicate with him. He was always cold in the winter, and she could not keep him warm enough, no matter how hard she tried. He'd tell her that he didn't want to be there anymore. Eventually she began looking for a good care center, but could not hold back the tears at the thought of leaving him there. So she tried her best to continue to provide him with what he needed. One of her sisters stepped in and cared for him for the final 6 months of his life. This made her so sad, that she couldn't make him happy right up until the end of his life. But she has no regrets.

Providing for your parents is something we each need to be prepared to do, but not something we want to think about. I can't really imagine reaching that point with my parents. My mother passed away a few years ago, but my father is in his early 50s and nowhere near dependent on me for care. In fact I wonder if the thought has even crossed his mind. But, being that I am the oldest, and the only girl, I need to ready myself for the responsibility.

I have had the opportunity to have my brother, 17 years old, live in our home this summer. And it is interesting to me how my mother-in-law's thoughts and experiences parallel my own... right down to it feeling natural, but being difficult, and having no regrets. I've learned a lot about myself in this process. It's definitly been a growth opportunity for both myself and my husband. And in the brief period of time that we have had him in our home, we've changed. For the better.

Please leave a comment and then a link to your post on the topic. Then visit Morning Glory and do the same. Thank you for visiting!

5 things I am going to do for myself, starting now

It's been all about my kids all summer. They've had something to look forward to nearly every single day. We've been on vacation. Twice. Their adventures have been full, their need for popsicles fulfilled, and I think I see them sprouting fins. I feel like now, with school beginning so soon, I can focus on myself a little more. And I need to!

I've made a list of 5 things I plan on doing for myself:

1) Renew my exercising vows. I gave up on meeting the "workout 4 times a week" recommendation several weeks ago. I joined the Y at the beginning of the summer, and that went well until Sasha figured it all out ("When we come here, Mommy ditches me"). And with free childcare, they weren't real tolerant of her crying. Which is a shame, because my older 3 loved it and hated having to leave 20 minutes after we'd arrived. So, beginning the week school starts, I've got 10 sessions scheduled with a personal trainer. I do need to find a sitter for Drew and Sasha 2 mornings a week. I think I can manage an evening workout (dh can usually commit to being home at a decent time at least one night a week, lol) and have my 4th workout on Saturday mornings.

2) Eat what I like. I've been a plate cleaner this summer. I have enjoyed making the kids what they like to eat; they don't get hot lunches during the school year. But it hasn't left me with much desire to make myself a separate meal. So I eat what they don't. Or something really quick and easy. I am excited to eat all the things they turn their nose up at. Tuna salad, here I come!

3) Find some peace and quiet. Ah, every afternoon, from 1:30-3pm, my house will be completely quiet. Jonah is starting Kindergarten and he, like his older sister, will be in school all day. I cannot remember the last time I had a quiet afternoon? With my first, I suppose? I will finally take the advice I received 8 years ago at the start of this journey, and "rest when they rest". Or try to, anyway. I also need this peaceful time of day to recommit to personal scripture study.

4) Join a book club. I've got a few books I am dying to read and discuss with other women. "The Elephant in the Playroom" is at the top of my list! Again, not something I've done in several years. And I really,really miss it!

5) Finish some projects. There's a large unfinished painting, the white walls in our bedroom, and my daughter's half refurbished bedroom, to start with. I am sure I will uncover more once I begin the weeding process!

What's on your list?


P.S. - Don't forget Woman to Woman tomorrow!

10 August 2007

baby picture books

There are so many fun things you can do with photos for young children. I've made and received a few books/albums that have become cherished, prized possessions. Below are some of the layouts from those books.

The first was made for my now 5 year old. His transition to becoming a big brother was not a smooth one. This is one of the many ways that I tried to make that change easier for him. We talked a lot about what it was like when he was a baby, and he loved to look at pictures of himself as a baby- eating, crying, sleeping. It really helped him understand his new baby brother a little better.

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I made this book for Sasha and gave it to her on her first birthday. If she's anything like her siblings, she'll love looking at these pictures of herself and seeing how fast she's grown.

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I just love this book that my sister-in-law made. She used the text from a children's book called "I Love You Through and Through" by Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak, and inserted very apropos pictures of my son as illustrations.

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Find this and other great project ideas at Creativity Cannot Be Stifled.

Woman to Woman

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We'll be discussing the next topic on August 14th, and here it is: dealing with aging parents. There are many women who still have one or both parents living. As our parents age and move into their 80s and 90s, they often need a family member to care for them. Are you currently the caregiver for a parent? Perhaps you are the caregiver for a beloved grandparent. What have you observed through this process and how have you worked this caregiving into your family life? What difficulties have you encountered, and how have you resolved them? What has been successful for you?

Stop by next Tuesday and share your insights, observations, concerns with us. There will be a place for you to sign your name and link us to your post on the subject. You'll also be able to visit other participant's via their links. And if you'd like a button to label your post or place in your sidebar, email myself or
Morning Glory.

09 August 2007

Fake it til you make it!

I love being a mother, but some days it might not be so obvious. I might be lucky to get out of bed before 9, feel snippy for most of the morning, and frequently "daze out". We all have days like this. You don't always have the 100% you wish to put into your job. Since there are no sick days or vacation days in the call of motherhood, here are some tips that will help you look like you've got it together when you don't.

1) Let a few things go. I always say, if my kids feel just as loved today as they did yesterday, then it is okay that we skipped baths, stayed in our pj's until 10 am and ate cookies much too early in the day.

2) Don't complain. The best way to mask your "off" day!

3) Stay organized (not a thing to let go). As tempting as it may be, don't let the kids run amok and wreck the house. That will just mean more work for you when you really need less.

4) Prioritize! Perhaps the dusting can slide, but if you don't spend time with your children, you'll really be feeling like a slacker.

5) Make an appearance... Whatever it is you're involved in: church, volunteer work, community, school, you may not be able to take on the next big project, but pop your head in and show your loyalty.

6) A few neurotic symptoms go a long way. It's no secret that motherhood pokes holes in your brain. In order to keep from letting things slip your mind, make LOTS of lists (and update those lists) and stay on top of your calendars!

7) Take a break. Prevent the overload. Call a sitter or arrange some time in the evening to get out of the house and catch your breath. You'll be much more likely to wake up feeling like your old self again. :)

05 August 2007

5 questions, 5 answers, starting now

I got tagged by Lucy to do this meme, and it's a fun one!

1. If you could change one part of your body, what would it be? This bald spot at the nape of my neck! Lol! It appeared after the birth of our 4th child... and this is not just typical post pardum hair loss. It's like all that new pregnancy hair growth fell out of just this one spot on my head! And it's not filling back in like it usually does; I always get and then lose a lot of new hair at the nape of my neck and around my hairline. The spot is only noticeable when I pull my hair up high on top of my head (which is, well, never, because it's NOT the 80s). But still, I know it's there and is freaky.

2. How much money do you think you need to make to be "really comfortable"? (Think annual salary). For me and my family of 6, really comfortable means being debt free, having an adequately growing savings, living in a home with room to spare and not worrying about the coupon section in Sunday's newspaper. Here in Texas, I'd say that's about a $140,000/yr salary.

3. What is your greatest God-given talent? Music. I began studying violin at the age of 8 - with a variety of teachers and under a variety of methods. I climaxed under the tutelage of a professor at Rice. When I turned 15, I began studying the viola as well, with a professor from the University of Houston. I became much more serious about music at this point, practicing multiple hours day, becoming active in the city's reputable youth symphony and joining my performing arts highschool's symphony (where I was already enrolled for dance). Until my senior year, I was torn between my love for both music and dance. After auditioning in both these areas for a number of university scholarships, it became obvious to me that music was where I had my edge, and I chose to pursue a degree in viola performance and pedagogy at Brigham Young University. Since graduating, I have had some incredible experiences... touring Central and Western Europe, performing with the Utah Ballet and Honolulu Symphony, teaching both at a private academy and private lessons, and recording for movies/soundtracks. But greater than the blessing of ability itself has been the blessing that no matter how much time passes between musical opportunities (which have become fewer and fewer as I've had more children), I've never felt as if I've lost that edge. I truly believe that the Lord has given me this gift as my reward for dedicating myself to motherhood. It is amazing that it took so many hours of fervent practice to get to where I am, and yet I have maintained myself with very little effort.

4. Winter Olympics or Summer Olympics? I'm torn! Growing up, we always watched the Summer Olympics. We'd be on vacation in Galveston at a beach house and watch gymnastics, primarily in the afternoon/evenings after we'd been sunburned and exhausted. The family I married into loves to watch figure skating, and it wasn't until then that I began to pay attention to the Winter Olympics. Of course now I have children and never have time to watch tv. Or, I guess I'd rather be blogging. ;)

5. If you could have any career, and you were GUARANTEED success (no tests to get in, no auditions, no worrying about daycare, or money or time) what would you do? For a long time, I have toyed with the thought of opening up a performing arts school. I'd love for it to be public - open to anyone who qualifies (by audition). I'd want not only to be the administrator, but to teach as well - to choreograph, conduct the orchestra, teach an art class. I can't think of any other environment in which I could be involved in all 3 of my biggest passions. Maybe this isn't far fetched, but it's what I really want to do.

Now for my questions and the people I want to tag.

1) What has been your greatest accomplishment?

2) Name one book that has had a profound impact on your thinking.

3) Do you have any guilty pleasures?

4) What need does blogging fulfill in your life?

5) What is one thing people can appreciate about you?

I invite Meta, Kasie Sallee, Michelle, Lara and An Ordinary Mom to answer.

*you might notice a few changes to my blog over the next little while. it's going to look patchy until i decide what exactly i am doing. lol! i welcome comments on the new look as it progresses!

03 August 2007

Big, fat parenting myths

I took Sasha to her 1 year well check this morning (albeit a month late). She hasn't really gained much in the last couple of months, and "only" grown an inch. She's still transitioning to table foods, and is still breastfed. The pediatrician (not her regular one) told me that I should be pushing whole milk - 16 ounces a day - and get a blood test to see if she was becoming anemic. We all know that breastfeeding (as well as many other personal mothering choices) brings with it a vast range of opinions, but what? Huh? This got me seriously thinking about my own private parenting myths. And the validity of my my parenting instincts.

Now. I am not all knowing and I'm not gonna toot my horn here. Sure, I think a little tv doesn't hurt, McDonald's is sometimes the perfect solution, and that all kids misbehave. And I am pro-breastfeeding. Those are a few of my humble standpoints, which may or may not make a difference in someone else's mind. But I want to know what myths you've uncovered since becoming a mother. I'm certain that somebody out there is just waiting to hear that it is okay that their 13 month old is still drinking from a bottle.

And that they should trust their instincts on that.

02 August 2007

I hope you are all enjoying my new playlist. I must say, I never expected to draw so much attention to my blog just by my musical selections, but I appear to have built up a reputation. And I aim to please. So I present you with a new "women that rock" mix, and must say, it is spectacular. I've enabled the shuffle mode so that you'll always be surprised... like a box of assorted chocolates, I hope that fills you with the delight of anticipation each time you visit (and out of curiosity, tell us what you're hearing in the comments section right now). If you like what you hear, you can view the artists' names and song titles by clicking on "View My Playlist". If you don't like what you hear - well, that is what the "stop" button is for. :)

*I put a little Dido and Jonatha Brooke back in there just for Scribbit and The Smiling Infidel (who have a similar discriminating taste).

01 August 2007

Home Sweet Home

I'm back! And have so many random tidbits to share. We had a great time. Lake Tahoe was beautiful. Just beautiful. Truly the perfect summer spot. We swam in the lake and went hiking. My husband took the older kids river rafting and to Six Flags. I got my day in San Francisco (and saw a bear on the way home *shudder*), where my only goal (and just about the only thing we Bart novices accomplished) was to eat some gnocchi at E'Angelo's (hands down THE BEST Italian restaurant in the country, by the way). I also made my husband stop in Reno on the way home so that I could stock up on good travellin' eats at Trader Joe's (I've never been). It was all just perfection! (And sorry for so many parentheses.)

I learned that 3 days in the car with 4 children will either make or break you. It was tough. I mean, TOUGH. But I managed to make note of some funny things my kids said. And I have to share those, of course. Because if you can't laugh in hindsight at your unruly charming children, the population would be fast dwindling.

Day 1: Jonah keeps saying "This is the best day of my life!" (I should have asked him to remember that for days 2 and 3)

Day 1: While reading "Is there really a human race?", there came a part where mid sentence there was a page turn. Jonah just could not resist finishing it himself and made us all laugh right out loud: "If we don't help each other, we're going to..." (page turn) "JAIL!". Lol. (The word was actually "crash", and it's a cute book by the way, if you're searching.)

Day 2: We're using a restroom at a gas station and I (of course) ended up with both of the older children in my stall. My 5 year old is extremely impulsive and it didn't take him long to fidget the door open to innocent bystanders while I was still, er, "going". To add insult to injury, he says out loud, "Mom, you're STILL pooping?!" Ugh.

Day 2: The DVD they were all watching began to skip and Jonah throws up his hands and says, "That's it!"

Day 3: Jonah (this kid is full of funnies) was getting very restless, and we still had a few hours to go. Every hotel we passed he told us, "We could stay there! Oh oh, we could stay there!" So, in trying to redirect him, I said "Jonah, look at the beautiful clouds!" To which he sourly replied, "They're horrible!"

Day 3: Adriana, giving her father a sideways glance, says to me "Mom, I've got to talk to you in private. Can we have hot chocolate tonight?" (I admit it, I am "the fun parent".)

And I remembered my camera! (But we forgot the stroller. Sigh.)

My muddy buddies
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Grandpop says something funny
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Being silly with Aunt Emily
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The most photogenic cousin
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And again
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This one's for Morning Glory
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Feeling triumphant
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Anyone know what these are? Wild geese?
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Drewby sneezing (lol)
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And discovering stars
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The oldest and the youngest
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Could they be cuter?
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Beach babe
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Fun in the sun
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Lots of cousins
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As much as I enjoyed my time away, it is good to be home. I'll be slowly making my way around to your blogs. Still getting my land legs back. ;)