Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Year the Swallows Came Early

by Kathryn Fitzmaurice


A great (quick read) debut novel that takes place during the year that Eleanor "Groovy" Robinson turns eleven. I love the very California-esque flavor of this book, and the discussion of the phenomenon that is the migration of the swallows of San Juan Capistrano. It's a story of forgiveness, redemption and learning to open your eyes, mind and heart to the stories of those around you. Maybe my favorite character is Groovy's mom, who, as a hairdresser, turns to deep conditioning treatments, color changes and her daily horoscope as a way to fix life's problems. She made me laugh. A great reminder that family is the center (or epicenter) of our lives, whether we like it or not, and that coming together is the balm that heals.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Two great things

Picking out the perfect pumpkin

and a beautiful fall walk through the woods

Monday, September 28, 2009

Random Thoughts on Monday

I was surprised to wake up at 4:12am and find that Dub had already left for work. When I turned on my computer, I was even more surprised to find an email from him in my inbox time-stamped 4:07am. That man gets up before my morning breath has time to stink.

I was happy to get up (at a more humane hour, although still before 5:30am) and send my children off to school today. I also got a very cheery phone call from a friend, who helped me whiz right through the breakfast clean-up and morning chores while we chatted away.

I followed the Fly Lady's first two tips, and shined my sink and got dressed to lace-up shoes, and my house is still not perfectly clean and shiny. There is definitely a flaw somewhere, and it can't be me.

After school I found out that cozy-ing up to a teen of the opposite sex on the basement couch during the weekend party just means "being a good host."

I also discovered, as my anonymous child said "Holy s***" to me in the kitchen after school, that he or she didn't think it was a swear. Even after I insisted that it was a swear, he or she told me it only meant "poop." I had to call for back-up from Dub, as apparently I was not a credible source for swear words.

I wore my dangling pewter cow earrings from the '80s, and nobody said anything. That could mean one of any number of things. Hmmm...

I made Tami's Southwest Rice and Bean Salad for dinner tonight, and again, nobody said anything. Double Hmmm... (for the record, I actually liked it, and found it a refreshing change to the rice and bean repertoire)

We played Hide-and-go-seek for Family Home Evening, and I just happened to be the last one found. I do love to win at that game. It's actually a talent I come by honestly. Some of my friends know about my mother's famous hiding spot during my childhood hide-and-go-seek days. I've even talked about it in Sacrament Meeting. Picture a 40-something housewife tucked on top of a refrigerator. Yup. I'm not giving my excellent spot away.

I read The Great, Great, Great Chicken War by David de la Garza to my little man at bedtime tonight. The title is so fun and the illustrations looked really cute, so of course we checked it out from our lovely library on our last visit. I honestly read it enthusiastically, but the farther I got into the book, I realized it really had no plot and was a let down for a four-year old. I don't like to point the thumb down at a children's picture book, but this one didn't do it for us.

I'm looking forward to some extreme sleep and dreaming about running. I'll burn 500 extra calories with zero effort and feel good about the cookies I'm going to have for breakfast tomorrow.

Happy Spent Monday!

I'll be jiggered.

We were pacing under umbrellas, trying to stake out a good parade spot. I was scanning the wet sidewalks, trying to decide exactly where we should position our milk crates, when my little mate tugged on my coat, pointed across the street and said "Mom, LOOK!... Pirates DO exist!"

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Relief Society Meetings.

That's it! No more fancy names. If it's a meeting for Relief Society, that's what it's called. Simplicity. I love it.

Never Suppress a Generous Thought.
-Camilla Kimball

Find Joy. Feel the joy and light the Lord has promised. Pass on the legacy. Love, giving compassion, small and simple things. Pass these things from heart to heart.
-Henry B. Eyring

(Thoughts from a president)

Fridays are my FAVORITE

Have I mentioned that before? Here are some of the things I loved about this one.Watching the cute flute player in the marching band.
Enjoying the H.S. football game with our fabulous out-of-town guest. Making a special trip to the temple in honor of fun guest, and sending Dub and Morning boy on a very happy camping trip. Not having to do drop-offs or pick-ups from soccer practices, because having house guests who drive means you can send them instead. Being introduced to the phenomenon that is Paul Blart, Mall Cop. Hosting the after-game party for a bus load of teenagers in our basement until 11:30pm and THESE:
White chocolate macadamia nut delights. I love them so much I'm adopting them. They're going to live in my stomach. And my fond memories place. Forever.

Friday, September 25, 2009

At least one part of the house is shiny!

After more than a week of living in a kitchen with two couches and large pieces of furniture, (like eating in a storage unit) the family room floor has been pronounced FINISHED. (Yay!) The day of furniture moving and room arranging has arrived.
Now the question: area rug? or not? throw rugs? or not? Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Making Bread

Last Saturday, I hosted a bread-making workshop at the church. I really thought it would be me plus one other woman. Much to my delight, there were 13 of us making bread together!We made white loaves and wheat bread, and our youngest bread-makers were ages 5 and 7.
None of the participants had ever successfully made bread before, and everyone went home with a beautiful rising loaf to bake for dinner.

There's nothing like warm bread from the oven. Bread IS the staff of life.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On Aging

I'm over at Segullah today, talking about age and perspective. Care to join the discussion?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Never mind.

I don't even remember where it was that I found a recommendation for this book. It intrigued me, so I requested it from the library. When it came in so quickly, I decided to bump it ahead of the other so-many-books-on-my-nightstand-that-they-look-like-a-replica-of-the-leaning-tower-of-piza. I was excited to get started. The little caption on the front of the book reads
"Astonishing, complex, beautifully written, and brilliant." A credit to Sara Guren, author of Water for Elephants
(which I also have not read). Here's the thing, though. I'm putting it down, and have decided not to finish it. I was intrigued by the
I also loved the personal advertisement in the newspaper:
But after reading almost half of the story, I have yet to find any content that is endearing or even pleasant to me. The deeper into the story I read, I felt like I was wading deeper into something dark and sinister; not at all what I expected. I can't recommend it. I actually agree with Sara Gruen for the most part. It is rather astonishing, but not in a good way. It's definitely complex [I found it a tad depressing] and the writing is beautiful; just that the content is not. As for the brilliant part? I guess I'll never know. But I WILL recommend a book that I enjoyed much more than this one: The Magic of Ordinary Days, by Ann Howard Creel. This is a far more satisfying tale of an arranged marriage. If you've read the other and have something good to say about it, do tell.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

worth remembering

Tonight at the dinner table, we got to talking about chubby babies versus scrawny babies, and the conversation got funny. Our very sweet eight year old, at the point when we were talking about birthing stories, said "I used to think that c-section meant you went out for lobster."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Avast ye!

and shiver me timbers:Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day
Aaaarrrrrgggghhhh.... Unleash your inner buccaneer or walk the plank, me hearties!
Yo ho mizzen mates, it's the pirate life for me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Read. Then talk.

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.

Over an extended breakfast this morning, I finished this book. I must tell you, I really liked it. It was written in the voice of a 16-year old Wisconsin farm girl. I spent a few of my formative years on a farm, and there was a lot in this book that I could relate to. There’s a lot of football in this story as well, and although I’ve never really been a football fan, she does such a good job of loving and breaking-down the sport, that it was hard not to feel like I was right there watching and cheering and thoroughly enjoying it. One of my favorite analogies was about apologizing. She describes it “like punching a bruise.” The other one has to do with being a cow. But you’ll need to read it to fully appreciate that one. At 10:30 last night, I flipped through the pages left in the book, and SO wanted to finish it, but my eyelids were not cooperating. By page 241 this morning, an unexpected rush of emotion overcame me as I was lifting the spoon of oatmeal to my mouth. It’s such a witty book, the lump in my throat surprised me. At page 272 I heard myself laughing, and looked up to realize the cat was licking my empty bowl. So I put it on the floor and found a peanut butter cookie to nibble on as I finished the book. Do find a copy if you have ever been a high school teenager. The take-away for me? It’s important to keep talking.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

code speak

I was sitting quietly at the kitchen table last week, having some cereal and reading when my four-year-old approached me and tenderly said
“Mom, you’re my pride and joy.”
My senses sharpened and there was some fluttering in my chest. Did he just tell me he loved me ever so eloquently? I just about dissolved into a puddle right then and there. I felt so loved. I pulled him in for a squeeze and I told him he was my pride and joy, and that I loved him bigger than the sky. It was so very sweet. As he walked away from the table, I swear I glimpsed a mischievous twinkle in his eye.
Later that week, we were together in the car driving to preschool, and he said it again. I was touched. I gazed lovingly at him in the rear view mirror. I was so impressed at his articulation, and the fact that he was expressing his feelings for me in such a grown-up way. Like the Grinch, my heart really did grow three sizes that day. I couldn’t wait to share with someone how deeply my boy loved me.

Later that same week the family was together in the van. I heard him utter that magical phrase: “You’re my pride and joy,” only this time it was to his sister. I thought, “Wow, that’s so sweet!” and then she burst into a fit of laughter. He followed suit. The giggles continued, and I was confused; thrown off by the apparent humor of such an endearing remark. I focused on the back-story, as she explained to me that she had been singing a camp song, part of which includes the lyrics “he is my pride and joy,” and my gushing-with-love son wanted to know what “pride and joy” meant. In an attempt to disinterest him from the romantic implication of referring to a boy as your pride and joy, she took this opportunity to teach him a proper four-year old definition of pride and joy: stinky cheese. I knew I sensed that glimmer of something afoot… Just call me Momberger. Or Cam-mom-bert.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A glorious day to be in the yard

Today was a perfect 10 outside.

(the inside looked more like a n'or easter had blown through)

Gets my vote for picture of the year

I know I'm a little late to the party on this one, but how can you not love a movie that makes you laugh and cry, go weak in the knees and shake your fist in rage all in the course of a couple of hours? We rented this at our favorite redbox location, and it was SO worth the dollar we spent to watch it. We even kept it an extra night so I could re-watch some scenes; the dialogue is witty and quick, and the English and Australian accents are a delight. Plus, in addition to the cinematography, the pure entertainment value and two leads that clearly have big screen appeal, you get the bonus of the historical element. Two thumbs WAY up.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What kind of parents are we?

We spent Saturday (in a soaking rain) enjoying a company-sponsored outing at Canobie Lake Park, in Salem New Hampshire. It's a great place--one of the old-time amusement parks with an old rickety wooden roller coaster, a grand Merry-go-Round and lots of fabulous and family-friendly old amusements. We look forward to this day each September, and this year was no exception. We missed our college boy, but enjoyed the fact that our youngest is now big enough to enjoy some of the more adventurous rides with us. As the afternoon wore on, we decided on the Flume. This is a log ride in a fabricated river of water that culminates in a very fast drop from a height-y peak. Mr. Morning climbed in with me for the first ride, and although I remember him gripping me rather seriously on the drop, he seemed to enjoy it, and quickly asked if we could do it again.
One of the fun parts of riding the Flume is that you get your picture taken from a stationary camera at the dropping point, and the kids love to run to the picture booth to look at themselves on the ride. When we saw the little man's expression on the first run, we pledged to come back and consider purchasing it for a keepsake. Have a look:(you may be able to click on the image to make it bigger) The second time through, he decided to ride with dad. He was SO excited to be going again, although his facial expression might convince you otherwise:

I laughed so hard, I cried. Then I wanted to cry for real, because I thought "What kind of parents subject their four-year old son to this kind of terror while the rest of us are whooping with adrenaline and joy?" It's hard not to feel torn. And it's hard not to laugh at the poor little guy. We dropped the axe on the request for a third trip down the river... and after looking at his images long enough, he heartily agreed that two times was enough.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Words to live by

"Choose joy in living with any loved one. Enjoy the way they smell, the way they fold their hands, their hairline, the details of their physical bodies. Slow it all down."
I loved this advice, and it comes from a dear friend. Here is where you can find the rest of her piece.

Our Swedish Princess turns 11

~Happy Birthday Roons~

Friday, September 11, 2009

I remember

I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing.
I remember that my in-laws were at my house visiting, and it was two days before our second daughter's third birthday. She turns eleven in two days. I remember turning on the television, and sitting horrified, but glued to the screen. I remember wanting to know exactly where all of my family members were at that very moment. I called my husband. I thought about driving to the school to hug my kids. I tried to call my brother, who was visiting a client just over the water in New Jersey. The cell phone towers shut down. The world felt crazy. And the flag became an important symbol of solidarity and peace.
I will never forget September 11th.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

not-so-fluffy buns, but VERY fluffy butter

Tonight was school Open House. At the Middle School. It was two hours long. Many parents actually showed up. The rooms were crowded, it was hot, there was no parking and the chairs were hard. I can't imagine being a student again. We only had to sit on those classroom chairs for part of an evening... I can't imagine a whole day of it! I don't remember the chairs being that hard when I was in eighth grade. Or maybe the nice, cushy, good-for-sitting-on part of my bottom has actually migrated to the front of my midsection as I've aged. I mean matured. Because the act of sitting down is quite a sensory experience for me, I've noticed.

On an UP note, I made Mexican Corn Chowder and corn bread with fluffy honey butter for dinner tonight. My only regret was that we didn't actually get to sit down as a family unit and talk about how divine this meal was. And how amazing the cook is, having the time to make such a succulent dinner, what with all the activity that she already has going on in her life. Man, I would have sat on those hard chairs for days, as long as I was shovelling in that corn bread. Seriously. You should try this combo. It's that good.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The President targets a new audience

So did any of you get to watch/listen to President Obama's speech to our school children today? I didn't. I was a little disappointed, but really, just too busy running around to do anything about it.

It was broadcast live in our High School and Middle School, and taped for delayed viewing at the elementary and primary school levels. We got a note in backpacks last week that let us know that our children at the younger grade levels would not be viewing it live, but if we didn't want them to watch the taped version at a later date, we could send in a note and they would be given an alternative activity to do. (warning: veering off the subject ahead) Can I just tell you that I get annoyed by the offer of alternative activities? Because what the activity really offers, is the chance to single out one student and ostracize him/her from the group. In my experience, (which actually spans the decades) there hasn't been a single time that the exact scenario I just described hasn't taken place. Double negative? Let me re-state: There has always been just ONE abstainer. I've been the one, my kids have had turns being the one... I wouldn't change it; just haven't felt fulfilled by alternate activities. But I digress. And by the way, I don't have a problem with my kids listening to the President. I'm intrigued with what they heard and took away from his words to them.

I asked my two kiddos who listened, to tell me about the speech and they basically walked away with this:
- Study hard.
- There is no good reason not to obtain the best education you can.
- Work hard.
- Don't drop out of High School.

So I'm okay with that. I asked my HS Junior if the speech was truly meant for a K-12 audience, and he said it was definitely a target audience of High Schoolers. He didn't think the phrase "Don't drop out" would mean much to a kindergarten student. He's probably right.

What did you hear about it? Take away from it? Hear from the kids who heard it? Think about it in general? Just curious.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


I found Blessings by Anna Quindlen on the library's 'used book sale' shelf sometime last Spring. It was tucked into my pile of things to read, so I grabbed it as I headed to Utah, in the event that I might have time to finish the following book:

which I did. This one came from my mother, who, bless her, had blacked out every swear word between the two covers. I laugh as I debate the effectiveness of this method; is it easier to glance over the blacked-out word, wondering what it might have been? Or to glance over the word in print, deciding not to dwell on the profanity used in context with the story? If you'd like to read this book and want to use the edited version, I have the book still in my possession.

NOW. For the review(s). Between Sisters was a sort of redemptive story of relationships; several relationships in the book intertwine and there's a nice come-around about how things work out in the end. It's set in Washington State, which is a big part of why I liked the book; Seattle and that coastal area in general has always intrigued me, although I have never been there. So I enjoyed the setting maybe even more than the plot and story line. It was general fluffy reading entertainment. The book moved right along without too much drag, but I don't know that I'll be putting this one at the top of my favorites for the year. For all of you out there with "To Read" lists longer than your forearm, you might want to pass over this one. Some of the torridly steamy love scenes were a little over the top for my taste, but maybe a good-and-descriptive make-out session is what you look for in a novel. If that's the case, pick this one.

Blessings was a surprise for me. I didn't have much in the way of expectation when I threw this in my bag, and it ended up holding my interest from Salt Lake to Minneapolis to Detroit and on to Manchester, NH. Needless to say, I spent hours and hours absorbed in the story, and it was enjoyably satisfying. I won't say too much about the characters in the story except that I became endeared to the character who was, by design, the antagonist, and the one I think I was supposed to feel bitter towards. Also, how could I not love the fact that the story begins with a newborn in a box being placed on someone's door step? Interesting development of the concept of family. I want to paste a copy of The Family: A Proclamation to the World into the front cover.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


...they're OFF!.. A new 8th grader, and her last year at the middle school. Braces gone and beautiful.
Our high school junior (and I can't believe we have to start thinking about college visits again!) On his way out the door this morning, I cheerfully called "Have a happy first day of school!" to which he flatly replied "That's an oxymoron."
Look how tight they are. Can you tell they're in this together?
Miss Third Grade. A new year, a new school.
And the happy fifth grader.
On the bus, but not so sure...
but sitting together made it better.
and, of course, having the peppiest bus driver east of the Mississippi.
And look out preschool. 'Cuz here he comes. I'm thinking you're lucky I'm sharing this guy with you. So take care of him.
But he's ready.
(just don't know if I am)