Sunday, January 31, 2010

She asked.

I've mentioned recently that I've been rather consumed with my list.
I gave myself permission not to worry about extra-curricular reading this year.
I LOVE to read!
With the challenge, daily scripture reading, clutter to worry over and just the stuff of LIFE, I knew I really wouldn't have much time to stop and read - at least not the kind of time I'd want to have, once I delved into a good book.
Then my 11-year-old reader approached me with a request:
"MOM.  You HAVE to read this book.  PLEASE?!... It's SOOoooooo good."
I didn't want to.  But I did.  I was torn.  What's a busy resolutionary mother to do?
I agreed to read.
Therefore, I am pleased to present my first book report of 2010:
Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata.
It's a wonderful (quick read!) coming-of-age story about a Japanese-American girl and her sister.
Humor, heartbreak, sacrifice and the tender complications of family relationships and hard things.
I remember now, when my oldest daughter read this, and told me I'd really like it.
She was right.
I think now I'll suggest that our youngest girl read it.

Day of REST

Today has been a PERFECT day of rest.
An EXCELLENT Sacrament Meeting.
A Sunday School Class in which I felt inspired to rush home and share what I know with my family.
Teaching Relief Society using a GREAT conference talk by Elder David A. Bednar.
(The restful part came AFTER I got home from church)
Playing games, reading, writing, relaxing in front of the fire - sometimes with my eyes closed.
I wish an equally restful Sabbath to you.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

It's CHORE day!

At 1:12 pm, I'm happy to report that 6 out of 7 chore-do-ers have completed their tasks.
To the 7th, I quote Ernest Hemingway:
Never mistake motion for action.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Know Your Neighbor

I've been actively engaged in the Resolutionary Challenge for about three weeks now, part of my list of things I want to accomplish this year.  I am REALLY liking it, and notice that physically, I feel better.  Each week of the challenge (12 weeks) we are given a wild card challenge to complete, in addition to the other nine points we are trying incorporate into our daily routines.  This week, we have been asked to read some documents that summarize and outline a program called "Know Your Neighbor," which was compiled/written by Whitney Johnson, of the Dare to Dream site, whose button I keep prominently on my sidebar.  The more I read, the more I embrace the need to open my home to my neighbors... not that we've put up gates and barred our windows, but we could definitely be doing a better job at developing and maintaining relationships with those who live in closest proximity to us.  I'm excited about this challenge.

In the age of cell phones, e-mail and text messages - literally unlimited, constant communication - we seem to have lost our ability to make friends.  We have neatly fenced yards and locks on all our doors but who are we keeping out?

It is quite possible in suburban America to never see or speak to our nearest neighbors - a situation that in an earlier age would have meant that we would have no help bringing in the crops or threshing the wheat or raising our new barn.  While most of us no longer need our neighbors' help to sustain the basic necessities of life, when we don't know our neighbor we miss out on life-enriching relationships, and we contribute to the trend of "global cooling" - the world is indeed a cold place with no friends in it.
-Whitney L. Johnson

Did you know that the pineapple is a symbol of hospitality?  Part of Whitney's Know Your Neighbor Implementation Guide explores The Social History of the Pineapple, which has come to express the sense of welcome, good cheer, human warmth and family affection.  I adore pineapples.  When I was in Colombia as a missionary, there were frequently pineapple vendors on corners, selling ripe, juicy pineapple by the slice.  I would sometimes eat enough pineapple slices that I was left with sores in my mouth.  I love the look of a pineapple, and often pick one up with my weekly produce, hoping to be able to keep it on the counter as long as possible, just because I love how it decorates an otherwise hum-drum looking bowl of fruit. Next trip to the store, I'm going to pick up a few extra pineapples.  Then I'm going to share them.  And hopefully my neighbors will not only like the look of a tropical fruit on their counters, but also welcome an opportunity to know their neighbors just a tiny bit better.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A great day for an adventure

The phone rang at 7:30 this morning.
"GOOD morning!" I said.
The voice on the other end didn't sound so good.
Turns out my sweet little nephew needed a bed in the PICU, and Dartmouth was full.
SO, Boston became the next best option.
"If you're going to be sick, THANK you for choosing a hospital in MY neck of the woods!"
I said.
We saw the girls to the school bus, and we packed up for a day in the city.
Which, of course, meant a ride on the TRAIN!

AND--the next best mode of transport: the ESCALATOR!
This baby's FIVE stories high.
(We parked on the roof)

The little patient was resting comfortably when we arrived

so cartoons were pretty great on a personal-sized TV...

Just as good as visiting a cousin in the city, is the train ride back to the country.

Get Well SOON little buddy!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Continental Divide VS The Ice Breaker

While I was inside, warm and dry and busy teaching piano lessons, MB went outside to conquer the ice.
It got very quiet, and I couldn't find him.  When I did, I patted him on the back (because I was so proud of his little work ethic!) and his sweatshirt must have weighed ten pounds in water weight.
Cabin Fever + Boy Thoughts = Progress!
AND a greater likelihood that I might NOT slip on the ice tomorrow, because it's going to refreeze tonight.

Accuweather alert.

It's raining.  BEHOLD: (my driveway)
~not the antarctic or a glacier field~

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Shout out~

To my new friend Macy, who graciously spent time photographing our family.
She helped us look good. 
One of the kids said the boy picture (below) looks like an Aeropostale ad. 
Except without the Aeropostale clothes.
We love our wood pile.  It's a totally appropriate place to pose.  The boys toil long hours turning logs into cut, split firewood that keeps our bodies comfortably warm all winter.  But I digress...

I love her photography, visit her blog often, and was thrilled that we won a photography session. 

She also has many other gifts and talents, and is undertaking an ambitious project to help the people of Haiti.

Thank you, Macy!  The pictures mean so much.  I love your work.

Monday, January 18, 2010

snow, snow and nowhere to go

Thank you, Martin Luther King, for giving us the day off.
And thank you, snowstorm, for giving the dentist a reason to cancel our 9am cleanings.
Thank you, pantry, for yielding breakfast, lunch and dinner, when today was supposed to be shopping day.

Thank you, big name doctors, lawyers, educators, Pat Boone, Scott Brown and all of you other important people for making ME feel important by calling me at least a dozen times today, to tell me to get out there and vote tomorrow.  I'm on it.

Thank you, UPS man, and fun friend, for delivering a surprise package in the form of a CD! (for me!)

rodrigo y gabriela

(Eleven pieces paying tribute to eleven artists, who inspired them...)
I LOVE it!!

And finally, thank you, blogging friends, for helping me celebrate my 500th post!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

closet 411

This post is dedicated to my phone-a-friend  closet-organizing-S-I-L who I love.
She is my closet lifeline.  She thinks about my closets at HER house, while I'm running away from them in mine.
Thanks for talking me through it.

Remember this post?  The title was so brave.
I was NOT.  And I shrink like a cowardess when I think about my list, and the fact that there are so many closets in my house...

It only took me FOUR days to get over my fear.
It's not perfect, but it's SO much better.

I talked to my mother-in-law, who said I should make three piles:
one to throw away
one to give away
and one to put back.
That was helpful advice.
I also had plenty of encouragement from Mr. Dub and my organized friends and relations.
"You can do it!" they told me.
This is where I was at 2pm this afternoon:

...pleading for help.

And this is what I finished at 8:00 tonight.

A couple of small imperfections:

the plastic container full of fabric and sewing stuff sitting in the hall outside the closet.  Not sure what I'm going to do with this yet... And the fact that it's taken up temporary housing in my winter snow clothes tote is a tiny bit stressful to me.

the assorted items I pulled out of the closet that still have no home.
They're homeless on the bench next to the vacuum I'm not putting away, until I have enough energy to look at them again.

the end.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Pope's Toilet

For those of you who tend to dabble in Independent and Foreign films,
the pope's toilet is calling your name. 
For those of you who never really do, consider this one (please). 
The title of this film caught my eye (how could it not?!) as I strolled past it at the library this week, and I couldn't resist.  With Dub out of town, I knew I might have an evening to myself when I could sit and enjoy something he might not pick.
I really liked it.  It was like taking a mini-excursion to Uruguay, and was also a chance to brush up on my Spanish (although it has English subtitles).  The story  centers around an Uruguayan town on the Brazilian border, where the Pope is expected to make a visit (in 1988).  The movie is both visually and dramatically intense, with humor and heartbreak at the same time, causing laughter, tears and the chance to reflect on the inequalities of our global economy.
If you can get your hands on it, I recommend it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


That's my word for today.
Seriously.  I was accomplishing good things.
Even after I took a BAD fall on the ice in my driveway this morning.
I wondered how funny it would have looked on camera--falls are always good for a laugh;
in a sick, mean-spirited sort of way.  But nobody saw,
so I tried to imagine it, and it made me feel better (kind of). 
I went about fixing things, and feeling rather super-heroish
(as much as a taxi-mom can)
and actually decided to make a list while I was sitting in the waiting room at the orthodontist.
BEHOLD-My list-that I've retrieved from my fashionable RED handbag-:

10 Reasons to Smile
1.  Dub called
2.  It's sunny and above 32 degrees farenheight
3.  I fell on ice in the driveway and I must be part cartoon!
(A pretty hard bounce and nothing's hurt)
4.  The memory of my ColdStone treat from yesterday lingers
5.  It's staying light longer each afternoon
6.  Morning Boy is getting better
7.  There are NO dishes in the sink
8.  We've resolved the problem of lost retainer and missing glasses
9.  It's almost Friday
10.We're going to do the burger taste test at lunch today--Wendy's, Burger King or McDonald's?

Really!  That was my honest-to-goodness list of reasons to smile.  And I went about the next few hours feeling good.  (And MY burger won)
Then I sat down to teach a piano lesson, and as I bent over to pick up a piece of music, my wrist started throbbing, and I felt sharp pains, that gradually intensified over the next hour, leaving me both stunned and submissive.
Long story short:  My good neighbor chauffered me to urgent care while the kids were fending for themselves at home, watching lots of tv, eating grilled cheese sandwiches made from cheap white bread and basically enjoying the sloth and indulgence of a mother-less existence.  Maybe a sprain, maybe cracked; a visit to the orthopedist will tell.  My wrist is splinted, it still hurts like the dickens, and my thoughts keep going back to number three.  I'm really NOT part cartoon! 
But I'm animated.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Don't Be Afraid.

That's what I keep telling myself.
THIS is my project for the week.

Man down.

Still with fever, but DRINKING! and getting better.

Oh dear.

Have you ever been stuck in your clothing?
A sweater that goes on nicely, for example, and then gets stuck coming off, trapping you in an arms-up, face covered position?
It's kind of funny, except there's always that small thought of "what if I get stuck this way?"
I used to laugh at my daughter, who, as an infant, would panic when any article of clothing was being pulled over her face.
Last night, I was inside my closet when I got stuck in my sports bra.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I'll admit that we've been utilizing the television just a wee bit more than we usually do over here...
Morning Boy is on his fifth consecutive day with a nasty cough, lousy congestion and high fevers.
Yesterday the pediatrician said "flu." 
So now we fall into the category of Guess-It-Doesn't-Matter-If-You-Get-The-Flu-Shot-or-Not.
We all got BOTH flu shots.  But that's beside the point. 
This morning my trusty side-kick started laughing from the couch and asked me if I saw the commercial that had just aired.  "No," I said, "I didn't catch it."  (Mentally flogging myself for even letting him watch anything but PBS) Then he started to tell me that a child had pee'd all over the wall and a picture.  I reached over in disgust to shut off the TV, and he protested.  "He didn't do it on purpose, Mom!"  It didn't take long before the commercial came on again, and he had me watch.
 BEHOLD:  the funny commercial.

Funny!  And I don't really miss those days.

Monday, January 11, 2010

6:19 glorious p.m.

Sunday night: That's what time I crawled in bed and said my final good-night.
Despite the fact that I've had two terrorism nightmares in the same week, when the option of an early bedtime came up in conversation, I grabbed hold of it and took action.

8:12 p.m.  Same night.  Cute blond child climbs in.
That's when my almost two-hour nap ended.

I had a feeling it might turn out that way, but the good news is that despite regular interruptions to my sleep pattern, I didn't actually get OUT of my bed (except to open the back of the toilet to fix the running water problem that only malfunctions when I'm in bed and no one else is around to hear it) until 5:15 a.m.  I call that almost ELEVEN hours of very good.
Bring on Monday.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Speaking of Laughter

I was riding home from church this morning when I heard that today was "No Pants Day" in Boston.  Sponsored by the Boston Society for Spontaneity (there's that fabulous word again!), this event has been happening for a few years now.  Riding the subway in January in your underwear IS kind of funny.
But BRRRRRrrrrrr!!!!  It was 9 degrees farenheight this morning, and the anticipated high for today is 21.
Silly people.

Friday, January 8, 2010

To laugh

Spontaneity. (what a great word!)
I love that moment when you hear yourself laughing out loud--not because you planned it or wanted to.
It just happens, and feels oh, so good.
Like yesterday, when my sister commented here using the phrase
"nocturnal wheel running hamster" and it just resonated.  Funny!
So tonight my husband and I finally sat down and had a date with
"500 Days of Summer"

a movie that came out last summer (of course) and we never got to see,
but vowed to get it when it came to redbox.
And it's been there for a while now, but never actually in the box when we want to rent it.
So we paid $4 extra to view it via Comcast.  That little "buy" feature that comes with our TV subscription that we never use, because *gasp* it costs money!
Worth it.  The movie? meh.  I liked it.  Entertaining.  I loved the music, camera angles, narrator, her wardrobe and hair, some of the situations... But the experience?  Good.
Best line of the night:
"Darling, I don't know how to tell you this, but...
there is a Chinese family standing in our bathroom."
I missed the next 60 seconds of dialogue, because I couldn't hear over my laughter.
Fun.  And I miss when I don't laugh.
So share.  Please?  What has made you laugh recently?


Guess who's LICENSE'd to drive?!?
(couldn't be HAPPIER about it)

And off on his first solo flight...


And hey:

Be careful out there.

Shout HOORAY!!!

It's Mom's BIRTHDAY today~

Birthday kisses to YOU, Mom!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

it was only a matter of time

before the planets and stars aligned

And scheduling conflicts dominated

And my mind just couldn’t keep up…

Tonight at 7:40pm I realized that I forgot/abandoned a child.  Across town.

With six kids, really, the odds have been increasingly stacked against me.

It was definitely more devastating for ME than for the child.

Alas, all is well.  We’re all home and tomorrow is a new day.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

my sheets are in the wash

I'm looking forward to a nice fresh-smelling bed tonight.
NOW. If I could get my shoulder to stop infringing on my choice of sleeping positions;
AND. If I could get my teenager to realize that just because he's wearing his sweet SkullCandy headphones and is in his room with his door shut, I can still hear him laugh (at whatever he's listening to) and I jump everytime he shoots his nerf gun and chucks something off his desk or bed and into the wall.

ALSO. If my youngest would stop running full-tilt into my bed at about 2am, and then need me to escort him back into his bed an hour later, and then before I can blink it's 4:30am and my good Mr. Dub is whistling his happy tune and off to workout... and then it's time to drive to seminary and start all over again. Man! If all of these things didn't synchronize so regularly and predictably, I might actually feel a fraction of a bit more cheery in the morning. And THAT, I'm fairly certain, is why breakfast dessert is so important to me.

On a side note: The girls missed the bus this morning.
THAT's always good for an adrenaline rush and a jump start.
Truth be told, I'm just looking forward to embracing my bed. I might not wait until tonight.
But I might. It's a GREAT day!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The List.

My 2010 List
of 20 things. To accomplish in 2010.
(in no particular order)

1.  Clean out my closets.  Every single cluttery one.  And organize them.  ONE.AT.A.TIME.
2.  Say "I Love You" more, and mean it.
3. Read the Book of Mormon. Again. At least a chapter a day. So far, so good.
4.  Spend less money at the grocery store.
5.  Accomplish #4 by making only ONE trip to the store per week.  No unplanned trips.
6.  Accomplish #4 and 5 by planning a WEEKLY MENU and shopping list.
7.  Be aware of my expressions.  Laugh more.
8.  Breathe deeply.
9.  Visit one spot I've never been to before.
10. Take a hike with my family.
11. Read to Morning Boy everyday.
12. Send a hand-written note to someone at least once per week.
13. Participate in the Resolutionary Challenge.
14. Use my sewing machine to make something I really like.
15. Be a 100% visiting teacher.
16. Be a Relief Society President who delegates more.
17. Play games regularly.
18. Learn something NEW!
19. RELAX more. I carried my slippers around the house (barefoot!) at midnight on New Year's Eve. May sound funny, but I want to volunteer less and enjoy my family and relationships more. Help less? Chill more? anyway... be good to myself and those I care most about.  I resolve to do it.
20. Be prepared for an emergency.  I resolve to be ready.

Last year, I resolved to read at least one book per month, for ME.  Something I would enjoy.  And I did!  I loved all the reading I did, (somewhere between 25-30 books!) and have some really great new favorites to recommend.  This year, I will also do some recreational reading.  But.  I won't worry how much, and I won't worry about how little.  I'll just read when I want to, and enjoy it when I do. 
HOWEVER, I will admit that because I jumped into the reading thing with both feet, some of the other areas in my life suffered.  I'm okay with it, though.  This year I want to tip the scales a little bit, and strive to focus on a few more areas.  I'm purposely not using the word "balance," because I don't think I could realistically achieve a satisfactory balance with so many balls to toss around.

It's a new year!  I'm feeling resolutionary.

Monday, January 4, 2010

My parents raised some good chicks

I, of course, being one of those chicks.
They've spent more than a few decades wielding their influence on the rising generations.
One period of time that comes to mind is the three years they spent in Tampa, Florida as Mission President and Wife.  I was thrilled to have them serving a mission as grandparents to a large number of potential future missionaries.  Their influence and example as missionaries was priceless.
I also marvelled as I received regular updates of what my mother was emphasizing as a healthy value of the month.  I remember one period of zone conferences at which they handed out a box of Smart Start cereal to every missionary in the mission.  I still think they should have gathered the the Elders and Sisters with their boxes, and taken a picture for Kelloggs.  She told them that they needed to be aware of their daily intake of vitamins.  They were not allowed to have a bowl of "sugar" cereal for breakfast until they had had at least one bowl of Smart Start.  It made me think twice about what we were eating for breakfast.
There was the hand sanitizer phase.  In an effort to curb illness, the missionaries were instructed not to shake hands with each other so much.  Upon entering the chapel for meetings, they were greeted with a large pump-bottle of hand sanitizer.  We at home got busy and became the hand-washing police.  Mini bottles of hand sanitizer found their way into care packages for grandchildrens' lunch boxes and backpacks.  Such practical folk!
Then there was the month in which they strongly encouraged the missionaries to change their sheets regularly.  Mom started to realize that these young adults would transfer to an area, make their beds, and then never change their linens until it was time to move on.  She put together a presentation that included an enlarged picture of a dust mite...

...those interesting creatures that feed off the skin cells that are shed into your bedding while you slumber.  Mmmmmm.... Such a nice thought.  She also mandated that with each changing of the sheets, a good vacuuming of the mattress occur.  It was a very stressful enlightenment for me--I felt a sudden urgency to be changing all seven beds in my house weekly, as well as wielding the vacuum and investing in sound mattress covers.  I'm pretty sure that I successfully freaked out a few of my fellow mom friends, as well.
Another beauty is the month she enlightened us all on the amount of fiber we needed to be eating.  I have never been able to get through the day without thinking of my bowel health, since.  It became challenging to get in a minimum of 25 grams of fiber per person over here, and not contribute significantly to the ever present problem of global warming via natural gas emission.  Certain of my offspring will not go near a fiber bar with a ten-foot pole.  The results were usually hard to control, and inevitably embarassing, as they spent the majority of their daylight hours at school, or away from home.  I tell you, it is still a challenge.
All of this might help you understand, then, why I LOVE the following pictures so much.  Not only were my sisters and I and countless other chicks nurtured and nourished at the hands of this uniquely endearing pair. 
Their work has not ended.  BEHOLD their holiday greeting photos:

Lucky chicks!