Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Traditions, Old and New

  • New: Watching George C. Scott's A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve Eve, all squished together on our king-sized bed, complete with Sophia hiding her eyes every time the "Black Ghost" came on screen.
  • Old: Making cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve.  This year we made Peppermint Meltaways.  Divine.
  • To Santa, with love.
  • New:  A fancy-schmancy Christmas Eve dinner.  This year we had lasagna by candlelight.
  • By candlelight
  • New:  A family music recital for Christmas Eve after dinner.  It was Chloe's idea and she very carefully planned the whole event.  
  • Silent Night Carol of the Bells Christmas Eve pianists
  • Old:  The opening of Christmas pajamas.  This year even Joel and I got some, due to our lack of really warm PJs and the definite need for them up here in the snow.
  • Ready to open pjs
  • Old:  Listening to Amahl and the Night Visitors by the light of the Christmas tree, while all cuddled together on the couch and eating some of our Christmas cookies.
  • New:  All of us camping out together in Bria and Chloe's room.  (This was necessary because Joel does not want the children to see what Santa brought without him.  But the way this house is set up, they would have to pass the tree in order to come into our bedroom, as our room is on the main floor and the kids are upstairs.  So, the obvious solution was for all of us to sleep in the same room upstairs.  It was actually really fun.)
  • Old:  The opening of gifts on Christmas morning!  We were spoiled this year, as we usually are.
  • Christmas morning joy
  • New:  Building an awesome snowman using our new snowman building kit given to us by some neighbors.  (Actually, only Joel, Bria and Sophia participated in this activity.  Chloe preferred to stay inside and test out all of her new art supplies, and I preferred to stay inside and be warm.)
  • We love you, Mr. Snowman!
  • Old:  Getting all dressed up in our new Christmas duds for Christmas dinner (which was eaten at the home of the same wonderful neighbors who gave us the snowman kit).
  • Christmas Beauties
  • Old:  Falling into bed exhausted, full and happy after two days of fun, food and family.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dashing Through the Holidays

Yesterday Joel and I gave a "Silent Christmas Lesson" to our Young Men and Young Women at church.  We handed each of them a packet with instructions.  No talking.  They read scriptures to themselves, we listened to hymns, they read some thought provoking quotes and ideas about Christ's birth and we finished up by watching The Nativity.

I had such a wonderful experience with that lesson.  The kids really were completely silent and the Spirit was so strong in that room that it was tangible.  Even after we said the closing prayer, everyone just kind of sat there, basking in the glow of the Holy Ghost, completely silent.  Which is totally abnormal for a group of rowdy teenagers who are usually up and chattering as soon as the final "amen" is pronounced.

And then some of the Primary kids ran in the room, breaking the spell as they laughed.  And that was that.

But it all made me think about my manic approach to the holidays this season.  I have never been less prepared for Christmas than I am this year.  I can blame my cross-country move, but that was 4 1/2 months ago and I really should have planned things a bit more.  I may not be the most organized of people, but I normally have stocking stuffers purchased a couple months before Thanksgiving.  I usually have an idea in place for my Christmas card in the summer, and make sure I get the right picture before Thanksgiving.  I have lists of ideas for gifts.  Sewing projects are begun months before Christmas, and the rest of my shopping, while still done in December is usually done by the first week.

I really hate feeling so rushed during the holidays.  I've completely missed the reason for it all this year.  The Christmas shopping wasn't even begun until Black Friday, and only finished a few days ago.  It took me 2 weeks to finish decorating the house, and I didn't derive much pleasure from it at all. The stocking stuffers were an afterthought.  The Christmas picture for my card was taken on December 12 and the card was made late that night.  They were finally mailed out this past Friday.  Gifts for extended family weren't even thought of until this past week, and naturally, I mailed them late.  It's a huge gamble as to whether they'll actually arrive in time for Christmas morning.

As I stood in a very long line at the post office on Saturday morning, balancing packages for my niece and nephews, my parents, my brother, my in-laws, I vowed to be better next year.  For my own sanity. But I wasn't even thinking that sitting back and remembering God's greatest gift to the world should be a reason for being more prepared.  I was thinking about the fact that we were going to be totally late to the Christmas party the kids were invited to because of the insane line of other procrastinators and freaking out about the cost of mailing the packages to (maybe) arrive by December 25.

I finally got it yesterday during our lesson at church.  After church,  the kids and I cuddled up together and listened to Christmas music together.  Not the Kristin Chenoweth or Harry Connick, Jr. albums I've been playing lately, but the Tabernacle Choir and Jenny Oaks Baker and Josh Groban.  The rushing around, the stress, the short fuse, the endless lists that must be done now, or else! were gone.

Our home was finally filled with the Christmas spirit.
For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.


~John 3:16

Friday, December 18, 2009

Lara is...

  • relieved to have all but one of her Christmas Cards sent out.  (Still waiting on an address.)
  • unhappy with the print job on aforementioned cards.  (Oh well.)
  • eating Christmas goodies.  (Totally going off sugar on December 26.  For good. Really.  Forever.)
  • wishing the kids had a longer Christmas break. (First day off is Christmas Eve.  They go back on January 4th.)
  • dreading cleaning the kitchen. (All that Christmas baking yesterday, you know.)
  • loving the gorgeous weather today. (Temperatures actually above freezing and the sun is shining!)
  • finishing some sewing projects today.  (Maybe.)
  • mailing packages tomorrow.  (Definitely.)
  • excited for Christmas morning. (Joel always manages to surprise me in a good way.)
  • bugged that the new planner I just bought is missing January-April. (I'd gladly skip them, but I'm not quite that powerful. I guess I'll just have to exchange it.)
  • done with voice lessons until January. (Thank goodness.)
  • learning a new aria for Joel's February concert. (I love that he's using me, but am a little terrified at how little time I have to practice for this one.)
  • blogging later and later every day. (But that doesn't really mean I'm getting anything else done.)
  • going to clean the kitchen now.  (Wish me luck.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

'Tis the Season!
(For concerts and concerts and more concerts)

My friend Karen recently wrote on her blog, "December is to musicians what April is to accountants."

May I just add a great big hearty AMEN to that?

This year, Joel and I got off pretty easily.  Messiah and that's all.  In years past he's had a million orchestra concerts and I've had several choir concerts and solo gigs and what-have-you.  Lest you think we got off completely scot-free, though, let me remind you that we have children we are trying to turn into musicians.  And their concerts, recitals and programs this year have been more than enough.  Believe me.

Let's see.

First we had the Elementary School's Winter Program.  It was scheduled for Thursday, but we had a snow day that day and it ended up being on Friday.  And I think it should have been yet another snow day, but I braved the weather with Sophia and attended the program.

(These Winter Program photos are pretty icky.  I was nowhere near the front and I don't have a telephoto lens.  Oh well.)



Bria Winter Program


Bria sang with the 4th and 5th grade school choir, as well as with the 4th graders.  She was as un-animated as she could possibly be, on purpose.  Ask her.  She'll totally agree.  The little blonde girl next to her, who is one of her best friends, was totally into the songs and actually quite fun to watch.  Bria said she was "totally embarrassing."  No worries, though.  I'm just thrilled Bria has been participating in the choir.  She won't be able to help but sing animatedly someday, it's in her blood.



Chloe Winter Program


Chloe sang with the 1st graders, and she was standing in the worst possible place for me to get a good picture.  She has no problem being animated while singing, but I couldn't really get the photographic evidence.  It was funny to watch her, because she wasn't nearly as animated as she usually is because she couldn't find where we were sitting.  I could see her eyes looking and looking and searching and searching for us, so she was a bit preoccupied.  I waved and waved but she never saw me.

That same evening, Chloe had her very first piano recital.  She played Skateboard Doodle (just a silly name for Yankee Doodle with even sillier new lyrics) and Long, Long Ago.  Due to her broken wrist for most of October and November, she didn't have time to prepare a Christmas song.  Although, I think Long, Long Ago is technically a Christmas song.  Maybe.



Piano Recital


She did fabulously.  The kid who was supposed to go first didn't show up on time, and after the teacher waited 15 minutes and he still wasn't there, she asked for a volunteer to go first.  We all know that nobody ever wants to go first at recitals, but Chloe volunteered.  So proud.

On Saturday night we had our Branch Christmas Party.  I was in charge of the musical program, so I enlisted the help of my kids.  Chloe learned Good King Wenceslas on the piano and Bria played three Christmas tunes on her violin.  I sang O Holy Night and accompanied another gal on the piano while she sang something and Joel did nothing.  I should have had him play the trumpet, but he was too busy.  Next year.  (No pictures for this one.  I brought my camera with good intentions, but never actually used it.)

Sunday, Joel and I both spoke in church.  Not a concert, but I felt like mentioning it because this has been a crazy week!



Sophia preschool program


On Tuesday morning, Sophia had her preschool music program.  I was very excited to see how she dealt with performing in front of people.  Normally she's not shy at all, but boy did she ever get bashful once she saw all the people watching them sing.  I think most of the kids were oblivious to the performance aspect of it, but Sophia was hyper aware.  Leave it to my child to be the only one who didn't sing.



Peek a boo


She would sort of move her mouth, sometimes.  Mostly she just looked at the ground and watched the other kids out of the corner of her eyes.  Every once in a while she would do one of the actions, like in  this picture.  All the kids were covering their eyes, and Sophia did it half-heartedly.  (On a completely unrelated note, Sophia is super tall!  The adorable little girl in the Santa outfit is her same age. Sophia calls her "Little Audrey.")



Bria violin concert


Finally, Bria had her Suzuki violin concert on Wednesday night.  It was her first Suzuki concert here in Michigan (not recital, she had one of those at Halloween).  They played several fun Christmas songs, as well as a bunch of the Suzuki pieces.



Jingle Bells


They ended on Jingle Bells, and the Suzuki director invited any children in the audience to come play the bells, so Chloe got to help out with that.

I think we are now finished with all of the performances for the Christmas season, and now we plan on relaxing.  Except, I'm so behind on Christmas preparation, it's not likely to happen.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Decking the Halls



Mormon Mommy Blogs is hosting a holiday home tour where we show how our homes are decorated for the holidays.  So, I'm inviting you into my house to take a looky-loo at my own decorations.  Which I would have gotten around to anyway at some point this holiday season, so the $50.00 gift card isn't motivating me in the least bit.  Honest.

So, come on in.....


Front Door Wreath


This is my front door. In the few days after Thanksgiving this year, I kind of went crazy making Christmas projects and decorations. This wreath was one of them. They are all over the DIY blogs this season. Dollar Store ornaments strung on a wire hanger. I hate the ribbon, but I didn't have anything else on hand. I'll change it next year. Something about all the snow and the cold makes me not want to go out and buy different.



My front porch


I have an enclosed front porch. I put this console table in there with the idea to decorate it for all holidays, which I have done so far. The problem is that I don't think anyone really notices it. Oh well. For Christmas, I have my more rustic looking decorations on it.

I know. I haven't written how many days 'til Christmas on that chalkboard. I never remember. Plus it's freezing on the porch, and so I just don't bother. We all know anyway, right?


Five Christma Cards


This is one of those little photo trees. I got it at Goodwill, spray painted it black and am using it to display the Christmas cards I receive in it. Please notice, it is December 16 and I have only received FIVE thus far. Tsk-tsk. Actually, I've gotten a lot of e-cards this year, which I personally don't like but understand why people do it. I like to hold the paper and photos in my hand and use them all for Christmas decor.  Then again, my cards aren't sent out this year yet, either. So I have high hopes for a flood of Christmas cards in my mailbox.


Snowman floral arrangement


These two floral arrangements were purchased here in town. The snowman one was at a craft fair at the Rosza Center on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The smaller one I bought at a flower shop that my neighbor runs.


Button Tree


This little button tree is another of the decorations I made this year. I bought a silver tray from the Dollar Tree, sprayed it black and used my vast button collection to make a little tree. Bria helped me decide which buttons to use, and it was her idea to have the star on top. Love how it turned out. A little kitschy and very cute.


Willow Tree Nativity


In the dining room I have several nativity sets displayed. This is the Willow Tree one, on top of the radiator (I love that spot...such a good little display area). I also have a Precious Moments Nativity in my hutch, and a few other small ones in various spots around the room.


Kid's Christmas Corner


This is my "Kid's Corner" in the dining room. Please excuse the state of the walls. Just before Thanksgiving we stripped the wallpaper in here, and it's pretty bad underneath. We have plans for fixing and painting, but it's looking like they won't come to fruition until January.

Anyway.

I admit, I'm a bit of a Christmas Tree snob, so I don't put the kid's homemade ornaments on my main tree. I don't know if that makes me a bad mother or not, but my aesthetic sense just can't do it. So, I have a small tree on the table that holds all of their ornaments and some various balls that I was going to use on another decorating project but never got around to doing it. Also on that desk are some Santas, and a small nativity. The stockings hanging above are the stockings that have been used in our household since Bria's first Christmas in 2000. This year I finally bought 5 new ones, and I'll show you those shortly.


The kiddie tree


It's not that I don't love the kid's ornaments. I really do. I adore them. This tree makes them feel pretty special, so it all works out in the end.


And the Stockings were hung


Now for the mantel, which I like to call "The Pottery Barn Project."

First, the new stockings. These actually are from The Pottery Barn. I splurged back in early November. I had a coupon, plus they were running a special for free shipping and free monogramming. They're velvet with little jewels and I love them. Worth the splurge.

But normally, I refuse to buy things at Pottery Barn, and just try to copy the look instead.


Stockings


So, the stocking holders I have had for ten years. At least the "JOY" ones. Those were a Pottery Barn knockoff being sold at Target. This year I added the snowflakes to accommodate the two new stockings.


Bria's stocking


I found these initial ornaments online this year at several places. Unfortunately, every place that sold them was out of "L" but had all our other initials in stock. So, I found another ornament that wasn't quite as pretty for the "L" and ordered the other initials from two different stores. Then I strung red grosgrain ribbon through them and hung them from the stockings. Love how this turned out.


Pottery Barn wannabe


Finally, the wreath. I fell in love with this wreath at Pottery Barn this year.  But, I couldn't justify the $80.00 price tag, especially when I was already buying stockings there.  So, I decided to try to make it myself.  I got the plain pine wreath at WalMart for $10.00, and around $5.00 worth of ornaments at the dollar store.  I wired them on the wreath, and I think I did pretty good at creating the Pottery Barn look.  (Funny enough, I've seen two other people in blogland copy this wreath since I got the idea.  Sharla did, and I don't remember who else.)

I have various other decorations here and there, but this is the main idea of my home for the holidays.  I do, of course, have a tree, but I think I'll save that for another day soon.  I'm exhausted.


Golden Snowflake

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Truth About Online Shopping

Overrun


What one corner of my den/office/computer room/craft room looks like this afternoon.

And this is even after I used 4 or 5 smaller boxes to wrap gifts for under the tree.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Quick Mommy Brag

Chloe, whose main goal in life is to be an artist when she grows up, drew this portrait the other day.

People.  She is 6 years old.  SIX!


She blows me away.

That is all.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Snow Angel

Santa's Beard


Sophia learned how to make snow angels at preschool this week.  When I got to school to pick her up on Tuesday she didn't want to leave because she was having so much fun in the snow. Once we got home, she didn't want to go in the house to eat lunch because she just wanted to make as many snow angels as she could.

Turns out she's not so threatening after all.



Snow Angel

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hallelujah!
(my bathroom is finished, do you wanna see?)

Somebody clandestinely recorded the Hallelujah chorus from our Messiah performance the other night and posted on You Tube. Probably from a cell phone, so the quality isn't the greatest. But there I am in my red dress. And there's Joel up on the podium.

Enjoy!







********************

I'm guest posting over at Visible Voice today. It's a peek at my newly painted/decorated bathroom...you know you wanna go check it out!  I'm also giving away one of the framed opera posters similar to what I used to decorate it.  So hurry on over there to win.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Threatening Threes

Sophia is three, going on 38.  Which would make her older than me.  Or so she thinks, anyway.

She is in this sometimes humorous, sometimes annoying, sometimes downright vexing stage of threatening me when I do something she doesn't approve of.  Usually something involving not catering to her every whim. Every threat is accompanied by a protruding lower lip, angrily folded arms and a stamped foot.

Some recent gems:

Our library books were due, and since we were going to be downtown, I began gathering them all up to return.  When I got to her room, she freaked out that I was "taking away" her precious frog and Cinderella and Care Bears books that she had chosen this time around.

And she threatened me with, "I goning to call Mamah and tell her to buy me my Cinderella book because YOU takeded dem away and YOU won't let me have books!"

*****

She'd watched her movie quota for the day, and I wouldn't let her watch again.  Even if it was A Charlie Brown Christmas.

And she threatened me with, "I goning to tell Daddy that you hate me!"

*****


And then there are the general threats that I thought weren't going to appear in her vocabulary until she was at least 12 or 13.

"Don't talka me EVER again!"

"I hate you!"

And my personal favorite, "I don't like you anymore, Mommy!"  When I pretended to cry that she didn't love me she said, "No! I still love you but I JEST DON'T LIKE YOU!" 

Allrighty then.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Driving in a Winter Wonderland

Snow


(Photo above taken from my front porch this afternoon.)

 Last Thursday night, it started snowing.  And it snowed all day Friday and all day Saturday.  More snow on Sunday and Monday.  Today we had a respite, but it sounds like they're predicting a major blizzard tonight and tomorrow, and rumor has it that it will be a snow day (no school!).

The snow is beautiful.  It's peaceful and quiet and calm.  Nothing quite like it.

But it's also treacherous.  I am terrified to drive in it.  Oh, I drove in it in Utah, yes.  But it really isn't comparable.  Besides, even in Utah I found myself in sticky situations because of the snow.  Just last year I managed to get stuck in a snow bank just before Christmas and cause a couple hundred dollars of damage to our van.  I didn't even want to try it around here.

Just look at the hill I live on, for goodness' sake!  Yes, that is a ski resort across the canal.  Yes, I took this picture from my driveway.  Yes, I am afraid we are all going to kill ourselves trying to back out of the driveway. Just look at those poor cars going straight up the hill! Not fun, and since today was a relatively nice day with no new snow, it was a lot worse yesterday and the previous days.


Snowy hill


I told Joel I'd just walk everywhere close and have him chauffeur us around the rest of the time. I know I was being unreasonable, but did I mention I'm terrified of driving in this? Well, he's just a big meanie, because he said I had to do it today.

He made me drive him to the grocery store, and then to work. I had to back out of our itty-bitty-teeny-tiny garage, go up the hill in the lowest gear possible and drive on the ice and snow all the way to the shopping center. Then I had to park in a parking lot so full of snow that people were making up parking spaces. And then I had to safely get out of that same parking lot.

Scary stuff!

After I dropped Joel off at work with no incident, I had to go by myself to pick Sophia up from preschool. Lots of hills around there, too.

Thankfully, I made it all safe and sound, but I didn't like it one bit!

I do have one hold out, however. I refuse to try and get myself into the garage. Our last house had a two car garage, and I often couldn't maneuver the van into it without incident. I will stubbornly refuse to attempt this one. See how tiny it is?  And how big my car is in comparison?



Our humble (and snowy) abode


Yeah, Joel will just have to deal with it, unless he wants to pay for some major car repairs.  I'm not budging on this one.

So there.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Anticipation


In the Green Room



Months before the performance I spend time plunking my parts out on the piano--learning the words, figuring out where to breathe.  I listen to recordings of the famous singers performing the pieces.  Sometimes I ignore practicing and listening for days on end.

Weeks before the performance I (try to) spend an hour or so each day perfecting the music.  I hit problem spots and scary runs harder than the rest.  I work on technique and hope it is as solid as it can be without a teacher to guide me.

Days before the performance I really do insist on practicing at least an hour a day, if not more.  The Maestro practices with me often and really gets ticky about rhythms and tempi and even a little technique.  It's almost like having a teacher.  I rehearse with the orchestra a few times, and learn what I need to work on further at home.

One day before the performance I wake up with a sore throat and a voice that isn't working quite right.  I take it easy by napping, not singing at all, sipping hot tea with lemon and honey, sucking zinc lozenges and vitamin C and drinking Airborne.  And praying that my voice will last just one more day.  I rehearse with the choir and orchestra that evening, and I have to work very hard to get my sick vocal cords to obey me.  I begin to worry.

The morning of the performance I rehearse with the orchestra and choir yet again.  Things are still not working quite right.  The Maestro doesn't make me sing my most difficult aria (But Who May Abide?), but he does make me run through O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings because I struggle hearing the orchestra on it, and then second-guess where I am and get off.  The others are not too difficult vocally, but I'm still feeling a bit discouraged.

Hours before the performance  I nap.  I drink as much water as I possibly can.  I take a long, hot shower.  I spend an hour or more on my hair and my make-up, warming up as I blow dry, flat-iron, blush and mascara myself.

One hour before the performance  I am in the green room.  I dress in my gown, slide my shoes on and tweak my hair and make-up.  The Maestro finishes getting ready and we bow our heads and pray together, dedicating the performance to The Messiah himself.  Hoping that those in the audience will be touched by the music of Handel and that the spirit will deliver our performance to all that listen.

A half-hour before the performance I hear the choir warming up, so I join them.  Two of the other soloists had the same idea.  We comment on the weather, our gowns, and our anticipation for a good show.  Then we visit the bathroom one last time before heading to the stage.

Minutes before the performance I find a quiet place just before I go backstage.  I pray again that the time and effort I and the others have put into this performance will be enough.  I pray my voice will work correctly.  I leave it all in God's hands and open the stage door.

Seconds before the performance the Maestro meets us backstage.  The house lights go down.  The orchestra tunes, the audience claps.  The Maestro counts down and the four soloists head onstage, followed by our conductor.  The adrenaline begins to rush along with the applause.  The Maestro turns around and lifts his baton, we sit, and the first notes of the Overture fill our ears as his hand comes crashing down.

A little more than two hours passes by, but it seems like only a few minutes.  My eyes fill with tears as the final "Amen!" of Worthy is the Lamb rings through the hall.  We stand, we bow, we smile, we walk off the stage, we come back again, we smile, we nod, we applaud.

And we know it was all worth it.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Good Grief!

We finally got our snow tires put on yesterday.  Growing up in Utah, I vaguely remember my parents putting them on our cars sometimes, but not really, and certainly not in more recent years.  But everyone around here said you MUST put on snow tires.

So we did.

And last night there was a nice storm that left several inches.  Still snowing at a pretty good pace, too.  Lots of snow out there.  And even though the snow plow came through our street early enough to wake us up, it's pretty bad out there.  And we live on one of the steepest hills in town.

Glad those tires are on today.

**********************

I have a nasty habit of getting sick right before a big performance.  So I didn't only wake up to snow, but I woke up to a nice sore throat and a raspy voice.

I've been sucking down the Vitamin C, Cold-Eeze and Airborne along with lemon tea and honey.  Please pray that my voice will stick around until late Saturday night.  It is then free to leave and I won't be too upset.

**********************

On Wednesday, we got a call from my father-in-law telling us our nephew and his friend were stuck up on Timp.  I guess since there hasn't been much snow there yet this season, that they decided to do the major hike.  My brother-in-law got a phone call from my nephew a few hours after they should have been back telling him they had lost the trail, but then they lost contact and weren't able to reconnect at all.

To make a long story short, they did eventually come off the mountain, but not before Search and Rescue had been called and many people were praying for them.  I was a bit of a wreck about it for the few hours until I heard the good news.  So thankful that they were okay, and found before anything horrible happened.

**********************

 I bought the DVD A Charlie Brown Christmas for my kids. They are obsessed.  Bria is saying things like "Good Grief" a lot, and Chloe is drawing all of the Peanuts characters amazingly well.  Sophia is watching it constantly.

It's a nice change from Cinderella and Harry Potter.

**********************

Here's the latest article about Messiah.  You can even see a peek of me sitting there behind the tenor who is the one singing.  And Joel, of course. You can see him quite well.

Here's another one, from the local paper.

Have a happy weekend!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Abundance

All set


Our Thanksgiving was lovely. We invited friends (a theater professor and his wife, who is an adjunct music professor and their two children) to share our meal with us. We had excellent company, excellent conversation, and above all, excellent food.  And 8 pies, because they brought three.  Couldn't ask for a better day.

I haven't posted much in the way of gratitudes this month, but that doesn't mean I haven't felt it.  I couldn't let November end without expressing it at least a little.

I am amazed at how blessed I am.  We have so much, my little family and me.

A home to shelter us.

Food to nourish us.

A car to transport us.

A job to provide for us.

Children to teach us.

The Gospel to sustain us.

Parents to love us.

Friends to enrich us.

And beauty all around to inspire us.

As November closes and we move into the Christmas season, I hope to keep the spirit of gratitude in my heart, especially for my Savior.  I hope to instill in my children that same sense of thankfulness for the rich blessings we enjoy daily, so that Christmas remains focused on its true meaning and not gifts and Santa Claus.

This week, I won't be around much as I will be practicing my heart out for Messiah which we will perform Saturday night.  I am grateful for the opportunity, because it is yet another thing that will help me to focus on Christ this Christmas.

For Unto Us a Child is Born....

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

It's 5:45 in the morning and I am already home from my Black Friday shopping! Pretty amazing.

I got to Penney's at 4:20, after it had already opened, and I still got a door prize for being one of the first however many customers.

Finished up there and headed over to ShopKo, where the line came just barely out of the front doors. Lovely! I am used to that line going all the way to the end of the parking lot.

I didn't bother with WalMart, and it did look a bit busier than the rest. Nothing there that I wanted.

Got some great deals, spent too much money and am looking forward to getting all the Christmas decor up today. We even have a dusting of snow outside.

Perfect.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

P is for Pie

And for me, Thanksgiving is all about the pie.  Turkey, schmerky.  Bring on the PIE!!!

Joel's in charge of the dinner, I'm in charge of pies.

This year, I made

two kinds of PumPkin

Pumpkin swirl


Pumpkin


Pear

Pear


aPPle

aPPle


And Joel made us a Pecan, just because he's never made a pie and wanted to try his hand. 

Pecan


(Forgive the icky quality of that photo.  I didn't think to get the tripod out until the other pies, and I didn't redo this one.  Trust me, it looks delish!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

(Enjoy your pies!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Why we're all visiting the dentist and the eye doctor next week

Since Joel started working in mid-August, we only elected to have $100.00 put into our Flexible Spending Account for the rest of the calendar year.  We figured that should cover any co-pays or surprise ER visits for 4 months.  We're not big doctor-goers and we're generally healthy.  Plus we all got new glasses in April.

Well, as luck would have it, somebody entered our $100.00 for the year as $100.00 per paycheck.  We just noticed the error last week, which is obviously a bit late in the game.  We were able to stop it coming out for the next two paychecks, but that still leaves us stuck with $700.00 in our FSA, which is more than we have ever in our lives put in for an entire year, much less 4 1/2 months.

And we have to use it all by December 26.

Chloe's broken wrist has been the only expense so far since moving here, as the insurance covers all well child exams completely.  Our out of pocket for the wrist?  A whopping $75.00.

So.  We can either go buy $625.00 worth of Band-Aids, aspirin and saline solution for the contact lenses I only wear once a week or so, or we can get new glasses (again) and dental work done.  Normally, I'd hope we didn't have a lot of dental work, but now I'm hoping that there are some unforeseen problems that we can take care of with our unwitting healthcare "windfall."

I'm also hoping that if we aren't able to use it, that we can plead our case further and be reimbursed for the unused portion.  Because the benefits lady took Joel's file out this morning, and clear as day it said Annual Election-$100.00.  

I'm not holding my breath, though.

Moral of the story?

Always read your check stubs and don't be surprised if I give you athlete's foot cream and Tylenol for Christmas.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Stuff I am not grateful for.
(But really I am.)

A few days ago, Sophia managed to wet her bed and mine, all in the same night.  Because I was a little too tired to bother with changing her sheets, I let her come to bed with me after the first incident.  And then she managed to repeat herself in my bed, less than two hours later.  As if this wasn't bad enough, she was cuddled up so closely to me that she also wet me.

Naturally, this wasn't something I could sleep through, and there were no more beds left.  So, I had to wake up Joel and we changed the sheets.  Then I changed Sophia's clothes for the second time that night, and then changed my own.  Lots of changing.

In the morning, my plans for the day were a bit derailed as I stripped Sophia's bed, and hauled all the urine-soaked items to the basement to do a few loads of laundry.  Situations like these do not generally make me very happy, so I was muttering to myself as I tromped down to my dungeon of a laundry room.

I was definitely not grateful for the situation by any stretch of the imagination.


Somewhere between starting the first load and beginning to sort the other hampers, it hit me.  There are probably hundreds of women who would give anything to have the kind of morning I was having.  They'd probably even give quite a bit to have the kind of night I had, wet beds and all.

What if I didn't have a washing machine to quickly take care of the problem?  What if I didn't have sheets or beds to be wet in the first place?  And, worst of all, what if I didn't even have Sophia to wet them? 

That would be a lot worse than the minor inconvenience of waking up at 2 am to change the sheets and having extra laundry to do the next day.

How many things in life are like that?  It's impossible to count.  I'm guessing for nearly every annoyance or complaint you have, you can turn it into a gratitude.  Here are a few more I thought of.

Dirty Dishes.  Boy do they ever pile up.  Sometimes, like laundry, they seem never ending.  Unless I begin to use paper goods entirely, they will always be there.  As much as I hate doing them, it means I have food on my table and children who aren't hungry.  It means I have a sink to wash them in (no dishwasher here) and cupboards to keep them in.

Laundry.  Doing all of the mountains I do week after week gets pretty old.  But it means my children have (lots of) clothes to wear.  It means my husband and I have clothing.  It means we will stay warm through the winter.  It means I have sheets and blankets on my bed.  And I'm not out in the river scrubbing my hands raw to clean it all.

Toys all over the house.   I may trip on them and I may throw up my hands in defeat when the kids forget the fact that we have a playroom and bring everything to the kitchen (and the living room, and their bedrooms, and my bedroom, and the bathroom) to play with, but it means we have plenty of toys for them.  It means I have a big enough house for them to be strewn all over the place.  It means I have children who want to be where I am, and not upstairs alone in the playroom.

Cleaning the toilet.  Quite possibly one of the worst jobs in the house, but it means I have a toilet.  It means I live in a day and age where things are so darn convenient, I don't have to bundle myself up and traipse through weather and mud to get to an outhouse.  It means potty training is a heck of a lot easier. 

Vacuuming.  This is the one chore that always seems to be moved to the next day because I run out of time.  But when I finally do get to it, it means I have a way to clean my floors that is quick and easy.  It means I don't have to pull my rugs outside and beat them with a stick.  It means I have rugs to clean, and children to grind crackers into them.

Paying bills.  There is nothing more exciting than watching your entire paycheck go flying out the window to tithing, to the bank, to the insurance company, to the electricity people, to the preschool and music teachers, to the student loan, to the mortgage.  But it means we have the money to have all of those things.  It means my husband has a job.  It means we are responsible adults.

Exercising.  Nope, don't love it yet.  But the fact that I can do it means I have a body that is working.  It means I am basically healthy.  It means I have time to think and ponder, or time to just watch TV.  It means I am overcoming my tendency to not exercise.

I think I'll end there, but you get my drift.  There is always a silver lining, and I have been trying to focus more on that part of my laundry-filled life, instead of the part where I have to do laundry and I hate it.  Because, as it turns out, I don't hate it.  I love it, because I am truly blessed.

Now, what are you not grateful for (but really you are)?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Time Flies When You Waste It.

I have a stack of magazines that I haven't read.  They just keep accumulating as I turn my attentions to other projects and necessities.  Real SimpleBetter Homes and Gardens.  Classical Singer MagazineMartha Stewart Living.  Even The Ensign on my nightstand has been a little neglected lately.

Last week I finally found a bit of downtime and snuggled up in my comforter to read after the kids were safely in their own beds.  As I was flipping along, trying to digest all of the information (Diet No More!  Eat Well, Stay Healthy, Feel Great!; Get Organized, Stay Organized; Simple Paint Tricks to Perk Up Any Room; The Singer's Purse; Beautiful Wrapping Ideas; Spend Less This Season) I came across a quote that hit me hard enough to make me stop and really think.

"Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity."                             ~La Bruyere, Characters

I am forever wishing that each day held double its allotment of hours, because I can never manage to finish all that is on my daily list.  Often I am frustrated because, yet again, I just plain forgot to do the laundry while I was busy doing some other project that struck my fancy.  Like painting the bathroom in the middle of a crazy week, for instance.  I really honestly think that I could complete all of the tasks on my daily lists, but by the end of the day, I realize it is a hopeless quest.  I have simply run out of time.

I have generally chalked it up to having expectations that are way too high for myself.  I am not Martha Stewart, after all.  What I am is a mother of young children.  That makes for some interesting side trips on my daily to-do list.  I don't wake up each morning and plan to clean up an entire box of Cheerios from the kitchen floor.  I don't foresee having to change and wash the sheets on two beds because Sophia managed to wet both hers and mine during the night.  I definitely never thought that cleaning toothpaste out of my own hair would ever take top priority in a day. Broken wrists, fevers and coughs, runny noses--these can grind vacuuming to a halt, leave dirty dishes in the sink for hours and sometimes days, and easily push practicing right out the window.

You will all be quick to reassure me that yes, this is most certainly the case.  I simply try to do too much, and of course, there are the children.  I'm normal.  I shouldn't worry. I accomplish enough. And yet, that quote I read struck something deep within me.  Something about it rang a little bit too true.  I don't make the best use of the time I am given.  Far too much of it is wasted doing things that matter little in the grand scheme of things.  Or even in the littlest scheme of things, really.

Let's just be honest here.  I waste time.

Period.

I have always freely admitted my distaste in being beholden to schedules and to the clock.  I completely resent being immersed in a project (however unimportant) and having to watch the time because I have some annoying commitment.  I also completely resent having to stick to just one thing.  I like to flit between projects.  This happens on both a macro scale, evidenced in my frequent "kicks" which are dropped with not a thought when I tire of them, and a micro scale, evidenced in my inability to finish making my bed when I think of something I need to do upstairs.

If only I didn't waste so many minutes during my day.  I could be truly great.

So, the other day, I stayed focused and on task.  I really thought about what I wanted to accomplish, vs. what needed to be accomplished.  I thought about my kids and their needs.  I scheduled it out and I executed.

I conquered the list that day.

Can I do this every day?  No.  In fact, the very next day I was back to my old ways: wasting time on the computer, flitting from job to job and never completing any task, putting in a load of laundry and totally forgetting about it, being annoyed at commitments I had made to others because it left me less time to do the nothing I was already in the middle of doing.

I have learned a little about myself.  There's nothing wrong with thinking big and trying to do everything, but a schedule and a plan is paramount.  And I may be just humbled enough to submit to a teensy bit more order in my life. 

We'll see how it goes.

Could I be any more uninspiring?

I was all set to write a wonderful and inspiring blog last night.  I still will, when I find the time to write it.  The problem was, the internet decided to die in the middle of my exercise session (I ride my stationary bike and watch online TV)(yes, I am slowly but surely becoming an exerciser) and I couldn't get it back up to save my life.

So, no inspiring blog post for me.  Or you, for that matter.

But I have certainly been productive these last couple days!  My bathroom is painted and decorated.  Folks, it looks AMAZING.  But you'll have to wait until I show you my kitchen to see it.  That's first.  Because I finally got new curtains in there.

Yesterday the kids were off school because of teacher inservice.  Turned out to be yet another blessing in disguise, because this meant Sophia had playmates home and didn't need to be my shadow all day as she normally is.  Which is fine, but it makes painting a little difficult.  So, yesterday morning I finished painting the bathroom and putting it all together.  I cleaned the house.  I taught two voice lessons.  I practiced.  I made my children practice (they fought over who got to practice first...now that is an argument I love to hear!).  I cleaned some more.  I took Sophia to her Music class.  I dropped Bria off at her orchestra rehearsal.  I came home and did dishes and then hosted scrapbooking night at my house.  Three other ladies came and I got two more pages done.  That makes six for the year of 2009, all done in the last two weeks. Be excited. I caught up on e-mails. I exercised.   And I almost blogged.

Joel and I are out the door now for our Thursday morning date.  We are going to plan our YM/YW activity.  Did I tell you?  He got called as Young Men's President.  There's a good story to be told about that, but again it will have to wait for another day.  Suffice it to say, he loves it.  We love it.  We are a team. 

Perhaps when I come home I will write the blog that is kicking around in my mind.  For now, be uninspired.

Toodles!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tender Mercies

I love how ever since Elder Bednar gave that talk in General Conference, it's just part of the vernacular.

I'm trying to do too many things at once.  I tend to do this in my life.  And then I become overwhelmed and go to bed.  Anyway, today I'm trying to finish painting my bathroom.  I did some on it yesterday, but it turned out I hated the color so I have to redo today.  On top of all other duties, plus I have my first Messiah rehearsal in front of the orchestra tonight.  Scary.  Especially since the Maestro has only taken over one of my practice sessions, so I'm not really sure what to expect.

Two tender mercies today.  First, my afternoon voice lesson called and cancelled.  I was thinking of calling her to reschedule, but decided I bring this all on myself.  So I was really thankful that she still cancelled in the end.  Second, Joel is home sick from work.  Not really merciful for him, but since our bathroom has vaulted ceilings, I needed him to help me with a few corners.  I told him it's a good thing I'm tall, or I would have needed him a lot more!

Now I'm closer to being done on the bathroom.  Just need to paint doors and trim now (biggest job, probably) and I have the entire afternoon to do it in!  No teaching in my paint clothes or anything.

I'm off to pick up Sophia from preschool, feed her lunch, and get back to work.

What tender mercies have you had in your life lately?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thank Full

Last year I did my whole "Month of  Thanksgiving" series in November.  I loved doing it, but I just didn't have the energy or wherewithal to do it this year.  But, you can't blog in November without being grateful for something, sometime.

Bria actually made a little book last Saturday which she calls "Bria's Thanksgiving Book."  She did this all on her own volition and creativity.  And I love it.

Here are its contents:

I am thank full for my bed and clothing and stuff that is warm.


I am thank full for my parents giving me food and desserts.


I am thank full for my house and my shelter


I am thank full for my school.


I am thank full for The Church.


I am thank full for the world.


I am thank full for all of the hugs and kisses I get.


I am thank full for all of the resteraunts I get to go to.


I am thank full for my violin talents.


I am thank full for nature.


I am thank full for Family Home Evening.


I am thank full for the animals.


I am thank full for our car.


I am thank full for games to play.


I am thank full for Heavenly Father and Jesus.


I am thank full for my family!


I am thank full for Mom's enchaladas.


I am thank full for Dad's oat cookies.


I am thank full for Chloe and the pictures she draws me.


I am thank full for Sophie and her cuteness.



As for me?

I am thank full for that little girl and the joy she brings to our household.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Finnish Flavor: Pannukakku

Lately, Joel and I have been doing our weekly date on Thursday mornings.  Somewhat unconventional I realize, but it saves us the babysitter trouble, Sophia's in school and (obviously) Joel doesn't have to teach.  It has actually been wonderful and we can't wait for Thursday to come around each week.
Suomi Cafe


This past Thursday we decided to go to breakfast at a local place called Suomi Cafe.  I know the picture says Suomi Restaurant, but I have never heard anybody refer to it as anything but a cafe.  Go figure.

Anyway, in case you're wondering, Suomi means Finland.  I've mentioned it before, but this town/area is basically little Finland.  When Bria did her Heritage Day at school the teacher mentioned that it was a stretch to find any other ancestry but Finnish for about half the class.  I've begun to really learn what makes a Finnish surname, as well as plenty of first names.  And now I have tried some Finnish food (besides the pulla my two good college friends always made at Christmas time) (they served their missions in Finland) (it was yummy) and have lots of plans to try more.

We ordered the normal eggs and sausage but we added Finnish French Toast (funny name, eh?) and Pannu Kakku.  Which, if you haven't already figured it out, is a pancake.

But!

It is a pancake unlike anything you have ever had.  And it is to die for.  We were in heaven.

So much so, that for Friday night (just a day later), Joel found himself a recipe and made us breakfast for dinner.  Eggs, sausage and Pannu Kakku.  I'd have taken a picture of the custardy, mouth-watering goodness, but we ate it much too quickly to think of getting the camera out.

But here is the recipe (courtesy Allrecipes.com).  I know the ingredients make it look pretty ordinary, but it isn't.  It is decadent.  Really.

We ate it with raspberry or blackberry jam (locally made) on top. But you can use syrup or whatever you like.

Enjoy!

Updated 6/2015: Now that we have been gluten-free for several years, we still use this recipe and just substitute rice flour for the all-purpose four and it works out woderfully!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Melt the butter in a 9x13 inch pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Add the beaten eggs and milk; mix well. Tilt the baking pan to coat all of the sides with butter, then pour the excess butter into the batter, and mix until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Serve hot. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

An Unfortunate Name

Photoshop is giving me all sorts of issues, or I would be sharing pictures instead.  I went to bed at 1:00 am after trying to edit three pictures for about four hours.  Yes.  I am stupid.  I should have just given up, but I did get a couple of pictures edited.  Sort of.

Sigh.

I think I may need to ask for a new computer for Christmas.

Anyway.  I have this notebook.  And in it are lots of ideas for blog posts.  I have a ton that I haven't gotten around to writing yet.  Mostly because the ideas don't strike me as all that wonderful anymore.  A few would just take way too much time to actually compose, and a few others are just random things the kids have said that I'd like to remember.

So here's a Chloe-ism for this Friday morning in which I am exhausted and got up late and have no pictures to share anyway.

A few months ago my kids got the movie Sinbad.  They watched it a bunch for a while, as they usually do when they get a new DVD.

One night at dinner Chloe said, "Sinbad isn't a good name, is it?.  Because 'sin' and 'bad' are in it!"

Joel countered that it actually was a good name.  Because sin is bad. 

A reminder, so to speak.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Even at the end of the world, it's still pretty darn small.

Does the smallness of our world ever amaze you?  Because it certainly does me.  I thought that moving out here to what locals really do refer to as "The End of the World" I would find I knew nobody.  And I was mostly right.  But I also didn't think I would have many connections with anybody, either.  And there I was completely wrong.

Just a few stories (of many).

My first vocal student, acquired in my first two weeks of living here, is a lovely lady named Barbara.  When I was first talking to her on the phone, she mentioned that she had been faculty at a university that is about 3 hours from here, and had taken some voice lessons from, "a wonderful man" there.

I had to ask.  Did this wonderful man happen to be one of my good friends from my undergraduate days at BYU?  Why yes. He did.  She even used to call him her "Mormon Zen Master"--which he has since verified.

Of course, I knew he taught at that particular university due to the modern technology of Facebook.  Still, I thought that it was absolutely crazy that I should be her next vocal teacher!

****************

Since our Stake is headquartered in Green Bay, Wisconsin we have to drive quite a distance for Stake Conference.  About 4 hours each way.  And since Stake Conference is a two day sort of event, that means we either must get a hotel or stay with local members.  Since we are not made of money, we chose the stay with members option.

In order for that to work out, you call a brother whose calling it is to set-up accommodations for out-of-towners.  When we got the name of our hosts, who really don't have a super common last name, Joel mentioned that he was sure we knew someone by that name.  I was just as sure we didn't, because I don't remember hearing the surname ever before, but maybe he did.

Well, we went to the Saturday sessions, made acquaintance with the couple with whom we would be staying, and then followed them home for the night.  When we got there, they "introduced" us to their children via family portraits hanging on the walls.  Turns out one of them teaches English in Utah.  At Cedar High School.  In case you aren't familiar with Joel's job history, that is where he taught orchestra for the past three years.  And this particular English teacher had an office directly across the hallway from his.

I know the Church tends to make the world even smaller, but still.  It was astounding to our newly made friends and they immediately called their daughter to tell her just exactly who would be sleeping in her bedroom that night.

****************

Finally, one last quick fun one.  As you know, scrapbooking is used to be a big part of my life.  I wish I could say it was right now, but having to work as much as I did the last few years, something had to go and it was scrapbooking.  I do it now and again, but haven't been able to find my previous passion for it.  I did, however, find a group of ladies that like to scrapbook together and went to the crop last night so that's exciting!  First scrapping I've done since December.  Scary.

I digress.  Anyway, as the scrapbooking addict I once was, I  hung out often at a very large scrapbooking message board.  I specifically hung out on the publications board, where another lovely scrapbooker (who has not lost steam and I am so impressed) named "Torm" (aka Sharyn) also hung out.  She's had a blog for forever, and I have read it since day one.

I did get quite a bit behind on her blog this past spring, and as I was going through reading it she made some mention of how she used to go to her grandparents every weekend to take sauna.  Her grandparents in Houghton.  I knew she lived in Michigan, but before Joel's interview here (which he had just returned from) I had never heard of Houghton.  I quickly realized that many of the childhood stories Sharyn often recounts on her blog, and pictures both past and present, were all about what might become my new home.

Then Joel actually did get the job, and we moved here and all of that.  I still haven't met Sharyn in person as she lives downstate, but we have communicated a lot lately, and come to find out I actually looked at her grandparents' home--the very one she used to take sauna in every weekend--while I was on the hunt for a place to call ours.

Sharyn blogged all about it recently and you can read it here.

So there you have it.

It's a small world.  And that's true whether you live at the end of it, at the beginning or somewhere in the middle.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Saving Sammy

I'm excited to have another opportunity to review a book for TLC Book Tours.  This time the book I am reviewing is Saving Sammy: Curing the Boy Who Caught OCD by Beth Maloney. 

Honestly, I kind of ignored the book for a while after TLC sent it to me, simply because I thought it would be fairly heavy subject matter (being a true story about an ailing child and all) and I wasn't really in the mood for that kind of a read at the moment.

Imagine my surprise when I finally did pick up the book to start reading and found that I could not put it down.  Beth Maloney is a seriously talented writer and the book read more like a novel than the play-by-play of how you can also help your child in such a horrible situation that I assumed it would be.  Her story is riveting, and she brought me right in.  I found myself feeling her anguish as a mother as she watched her son deal with the horrible compulsions brought on by OCD.  I found myself feeling relief when they finally started to get promising information, disappointment when hopeful cures did not work, and absolute joy when Sammy finally began to get better.

Not only does this book serve to educate about how Strep can be a very real cause for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but I came away wanting to be a better advocate for my children.  Beth's experience taught me that I should never take a doctor's answers at face value.  Especially if I knew in my heart that more could be done.  A parent's job is to exhaust every avenue until you know that your child has received the absolute best care possible.

Obviously, I haven't had a situation that is quite as dire as what Beth Maloney faced with Sammy, but I can think of a few times where I have had to be a little forceful with doctors.  There is the time that Bria had pneumonia, only the pediatrician swore that it was just a virus or something and did nothing.  I took her into that office two days in a row, paid a lot of money in co-pays, only to be told it wasn't anything to worry about.  Finally, I took her into the ER, where she was properly diagnosed with pneumonia by the doctor there.  It was a hard decision for me, because I don't like to overreact about things, but I am so happy I refused to take my pediatrician's word for it, and got my daughter the care she needed.

Then there was the time that Chloe had 6 ear infections back-to-back.  They would go away for a few days while she was on antibiotics, but return as soon as we finished the series.  We tried several different types of antibiotic with the same poor result.  The pediatrician I had then (different one from Bria's pneumonia incident) didn't think she needed tubes and just wanted to keep trying antibiotics. The poor baby (13 months old) had such a horrible yeast rash by this time that I was ready to never give her another antibiotic again.  I had to push hard to get a referral to an ENT, where she was immediately slated to get tubes put in and hasn't had an ear infection since.

But those experiences are nothing compared to what Beth Maloney did for her child.  When her doctors wouldn't look beyond face value, or listen to the research she had uncovered, she fired them.  She combed the country and was willing to travel far distances in order to get Sammy the help that he so badly needed.  After several frustrating experiences with medical and mental health professionals, she finally found a savior in Dr. Catherine Nicolaides, who had treated several children with OCD successfully with antibiotics.

Yes.  Antibiotics.

Because apparently, there are a number of children who develop OCD due to Strep.  Most of the medical field that Beth dealt with seemed to discount this research, or ignore it entirely, to her great frustration.  But after finding Dr. Nicolaides, she found hope, and eventually a cure, for Sammy.

And she continues to be an advocate.  Not only did she write this book to educate others, but she has helped many people get to the bottom of their own children's problems as well.  She helped a friend whose son had been diagnosed with autism find out that his autistic tendencies were actually due to Lyme disease.  There is research out there that supports this, and yet nobody asked those questions at first.

Be an advocate for your children.  Ask the tough questions.  Do your research.  That's what I learned from this book.  It really isn't about OCD at all.  It's about being a real parent.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Truth Fairy

Tonight I stealthily switched one of Bria's teeth for a dollar.  Nothing incredibly new about the activity.  I've actually done it quite a lot by now.  I always pay a dollar, sometimes in quarters or even dimes and nickels depending on what's in my wallet when a tooth is lost.  Tonight's tooth has been under her pillow for nearly a week--also nothing new in our tooth fairy's history.  She's actually pretty delinquent most of the time.

But, there was something new, and I'm not sure I liked it.

Bria knows that the Tooth Fairy is me.

You go along as a parent, doing all of the things that your parents did for you, and you never really stop to think about what will happen when your child actually does stop and think and then question those things.  Like the Tooth Fairy.

(Really?  There's an actual fairy who goes around in the middle of the night paying children for their lost baby teeth which have been carefully hidden under their pillows?) Yeah.  Kind of silly and gross and weird all at the same time.

But also fun.

And a bit incredible.

Which is why, on the day Bria lost her tooth she asked me about it.

"Mom?  Is there really such thing as the Tooth Fairy?"

I have promised myself that I would always tell the truth about anything my kids asked me.  Maybe not the entire truth, but enough to answer the question at hand. If they are old enough to ask, they are old enough to have an answer.  So far, this theory has served me well, and while I've had to answer a few uncomfortable questions, the answers have been satisfactory for my children and life has gone on.

So, I told her the truth.  Yes, there is a Tooth Fairy, and you're looking right at her.  No, I never actually called her all those times to remind her to come and get your tooth already, it was just a way to cover up the fact that I always forget to get the tooth (or fall asleep before you do).  It's just a fun way for parents to help children be excited about their lost baby teeth and earn a little fun money on the side.  And you'd better not tell your sisters!  It's a very special secret, and they don't know yet.

She wasn't disappointed at all.  Only a little worried that now that she knew the truth she wouldn't get paid for her teeth.  I assured her that of course the Tooth Fairy would always come for her teeth.  Eventually.

And then she said, "But Santa's real. Because there is no way you and Dad would ever buy me all the stuff that Santa does!  Of course HE'S real!!!"

And I let out a huge sigh of relief.

I don't like my kids getting older.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Cruel

Ms. DeVille


I didn't dress up for the Friday night Treat Street thing. But I did dress up on Saturday for actual Halloween. Too bad hardly anyone saw my costume to appreciate all the work I did on my hair. It may have been easier to buy a wig.

After the lovely Friday night weather, Saturday was cold and rainy. Joel took the girls Trick-or-Treating through our neighborhood while I stayed home to pass out candy. I was kind of shocked at how few Trick-or-Treaters I had. Maybe five groups of kids total. And most of them were college students. In costume. I loved that.

Cruella


After seeing these pictures Joel took of me, I think I know why fur coats went out of style. It has nothing to do with animal rights activism, and everything to do with how fat they make a girl look. This particular fur was my grandmother's, and while I don't see myself ever wearing it to the opera, I love that it was hers and I love finding some reasons to use it.

Sophia told everyone that Chloe was an "Evil Witch" for Halloween and Mommy was a "Mean, Evil Witch." I got a kick out of that.

The meanest thing I did this year was offer to buy out my children's candy. They could pick the ten best pieces (and hello! My neighborhood passed out a number of full-sized candy bars, so they got a lot more than I bargained for!) and sell the rest to Joel and me for ten dollars. It's worth it to me to have happier children that aren't hopped up on sugar for 3 weeks. I bought Sophia out with a Cinderella Barbie doll that cost me ten dollars at the store.

Bria wasn't going to go for it, but in the end, she relented. Joel now has a lot of candy to take to his office and do something about, because it isn't staying in this house!

And that, my friends, is the end of the Halloween saga in our neck of the woods!

Until next year...