Overstuffed: October 2009 Overstuffed

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Family Portrait

The other day on our way to get the girls off the bus, Sophia noticed this cool mirror just sitting in the leaves on the side of the road by our house.  I have no idea where it came from, or what it would even be for, but decided to grab my camera and have fun with it.  Joel got home from work just as we came back with the girls and joined in on the fun.

Let's see.  Lots about that day is evident in this photo.  Sophia refusing to wear a coat, even though it's pretty nippy out.  Perhaps that is why she is now sick.  Chloe showcasing her latest masterpiece.  Joel, just home from work, toting the grocery bag containing lawn and leaf bags (I had just raked) and a canister of oatmeal so Sophia could make a drum for her music class that afternoon, Bria being all low-key and getting so darn tall and me with my hat and camera.

Look closely and you can even see that there really was a blue sky around here that day.


Family Portrait


Happy Halloween! I already got some fun shots at the trick-or-treat downtown last night, and hope to get more tonight.  And I definitely can't wait to see everyone else's festivities! I love Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

How a Little Witch Overcame Her Fear

Fear.

We all have it.  Some of us are afraid of snakes or spiders.  Some are afraid of heights.  Some people have a fear of flying in airplanes, riding in roller-coasters, or swimming in the ocean.

I am afraid of losing things and talking on the telephone (thank heavens for modern advances like e-mail and texting!).

Bria has a fairly large collection of personal fears.  It's just the way she came to this earth.  As her mother, it has been the source of much frustration and sadness as I watch her struggle with these things, but also the source of much joy as I watch her slowly overcome them.

One of Bria's biggest fears is playing her violin in front of people.  I know that stage fright is probably a fairly normal condition among children, but Bria's goes a bit further than that.  A few years ago, at her second recital, she wasn't just scared, she was paralyzed.  She had actually played just fine at her first recital, but when the applause came, she just looked around at the audience, completely shocked.  To this day she wishes we could request that nobody clap for her, because, for some reason, that is what upsets her the most about performing.

Anyway, I have blogged many times about Bria working through her fears and playing in recitals and competitions, usually being heavily bribed by us.  She had a recital this past week, and this time, I told her we are through with bribes.  When she is asked to play in a recital or at church or for a competition, she needs to just do it, and the satisfaction of conquering a little bit of her terror and doing well despite stage fright would be her reward.

She definitely dragged her heels, and tried to get out of this recital.  It was a Halloween recital, so that added another layer of scariness to her, because she doesn't like people to look at her, and she felt that if she wore a costume, people would think she looked stupid.  She was also nervous about which song she would play, so instead of doing something she has recently learned, she chose a piece she learned about a year and a half ago:  Witches' Dance by Paganini.  She figured it went well with the Halloween theme, and she does love to play it--it's a fun song.

Her Ginormica costume that we finally broke down and ordered off the internet hadn't come yet, so she decided to dress as a witch.  Unfortunately, as soon as she stood up to play, she realized that she couldn't wear the hat because it would get in the way of the bow.  So she was embarrassed about having to take it off in front of everyone.




Playing


But she played.

And she played flawlessly, as usual.  Her teacher was a little shocked, since she's never heard her play in a recital yet, and she always plays better in performance than she does in lessons.  Maybe her nerves help her somehow?  Anyway, she played wonderfully, despite the fact that she usually looks like she's being tortured up there with her refusal to smile and all.

After she was finished, she came back to where we were sitting and decided to stand behind us so she could see the next performers better.  She put her hat back on, which surprised me because she had refused to wear it for most of the night.

I glanced up at her at one point and saw this:




Proud little witch


My heart filled with pride and joy yet again for my little girl who had conquered just a little more of her performance anxiety.  The look happiness on her face is enough to convince me that I made the right decision in not bribing her this time.  She would never admit it, but I know she was genuinely thrilled with herself that night.

As well she should be.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

6:45 a.m.

The alarm goes off.  I roll over to press the snooze button, and nearly smash the three-year old who has taken up residence next to me sometime in the middle of the night.  I grope for the alarm clock, press the button, and snuggle back into my down comforter.

Nine minutes later, the beeping starts again.  I sit up this time, careful not to disturb Sophia, and press that magical snooze button once more.

Another nine minutes passes, and this time my husband groggily asks, "What time is it?"

I carefully reach over Sophia to feel around for the alarm clock and wonder why I am the one who has to sleep next to it.  I am the blind one who can't see the time anyway. I am the mother, the one that Sophia wants to cuddle with every time she wakes up to use the bathroom.  That is what mommies are for.  Daddy is for playing, but there is no playing at two a.m.  She comes to my side of the bed in the middle of the night.

I finally manage to grab the clock without waking Sophia and bring it up to my face to read the time.

"It's 7:04."  I tell my sleepy husband.  Outside the window there is no hint of a sunrise.  It could just as well be one in the morning as seven.

Neither of us wants to get out of the warm bed in the blackness and we especially don't want to face the freezing cold that awaits.  We try to take turns getting the girls up and ready and off to school on the bus.  I did it yesterday and today is his turn.

"If you do it today, I promise to get up with them for the rest of the week," he bargains.  Not an unusual request, especially since he burned the midnight oil grading papers the night before. It's also a request I can't refuse.

I let out a sigh.  Then I carefully crawl out of my cozy cocoon to face the day.  I find my glasses, step into my slippers, grab a sweater, turn on a light and trudge up the stairs to wake the girls.

It takes me a few minutes to encourage them to come out of their own blankets and get dressed.  But they do it, gradually waking up and remembering things they need to tell me about.  Excited for another day of school.  Upcoming field trips, Halloween parties, friends and schoolwork.  I brush their hair as they chatter at me, tiredly answering their questions and exclamations.

Once beds are made, we go downstairs where they eat their breakfast and I make their lunches.  Then I  must find the backpacks, making sure I have signed all important papers and homework planners.  The girls hurry upstairs to brush their teeth and I pull on my jeans and a sweatshirt, socks and tennis-shoes, scarf and hat, coat and gloves.

They rush down to bundle themselves in their own jackets and mittens, and we head out the door into the black morning.  We arrive at the bus stop, converse with friends until the bus arrives, and off they go to school.

I turn to head home, and just as I arrive at my front door, I hear the University bells chiming 8:00.  It is still cold and dark.  Joel is now up and around, but I go back into bed and cuddle with my youngest daughter until she finally wakes up wanting breakfast.

I love mornings.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Soare Cu Dinti

"Soare cu dinti" is a Romanian phrase that means "sun with teeth."  They use it to describe one of those beautiful winter (or fall, or even spring) days where the sun is shining, the sky is blue, but you'll still freeze to death if you go outside.

We had one of those toothy days yesterday, and I took full advantage and spent as much time outside as I possibly could.  I have been wanting to go across the bridge to the scenic overlook to take pictures for a while, but the weather has been too darn crummy to do it.  When the sun came out yesterday, I jumped at the chance and Sophia and I drove up there to look at our lovely little city and take a few photos.

This is where I live.  You can see the University there, which are the bigger buildings, and I live about three blocks away from there, up the hill into the trees.  I still can't even tell you how enchanted I am to live so near the water.  I mean, I lived right up the hill from Utah Lake, but that wasn't quite the same.  Sorry, Utah Lake.



Overlook


Pretty beautiful when the sun is out.  I wish you could see the bridge from here, but all of the (lovely) trees are in the way.  I'll have to get a good picture of it another day.


Beautiful day


I was thrilled to have a glimpse of my favorite October blue sky. There isn't anything in the world quite like it. Too bad we're back to a white sky today.

But at least it isn't raining.  And hopefully it won't start, because I've got a ton of leaves to rake and bulbs to plant.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Flair for the Dramatic

Chloe had a difficult day on Friday.  Nothing horrible happened to her, but everything was horrible.  I personally think she probably hasn't been getting enough sleep.  She is still my little night owl, after all, and getting up so early for school really gets to her by the time Friday rolls around.  I put her to bed early every night and she is still up for at least 2-3 hours after that.  I try.  I really do.

Tiredness + anything = Drama.  At least for Chloe.

She brought her school picture home, and wanted to know why I wasn't buying a package.  Frankly, the picture was awful, and that is why I don't buy the packages ever.  I can do a better job.  So I told her that it wasn't the best picture and that I would take a nicer picture of her.

She broke down sobbing.  "You don't think I'm pretty!  It's a pretty picture of me, and you don't think I look pretty!"  On and on.

And then I left the house to take Bria to her violin rehearsal, and left Joel to deal with the sad pile of Chloe. Apparently, she then fell apart about a completely different issue.  Joel was working on his laptop at the time, so he just typed it all out as she said it because it was so funny.

“Mom said I can’t color, ever again.  That’s why it’s the worst day ever, and all the other days are too.  Every single day is gonna be the worstest day!  [sob, sob, sob]  Because I can’t color.  If I can’t color, I won’t be an artist when I grow up because I can’t color.  I have to practice.  [sob, sob, sob].  Now I’m never going to be happy.  Even on Christmas, even on Halloween….  Why did mom say that?  Sophia gets to color, Bria gets to color, and I DON’T!!  [sob, sob, sob]  I don’t get to color and I won’t be an artist.  Mommy won’t let me color, Bria gets to color and Sophie gets to color – it’s not fair.  I want to be an artist, and now I can’t send pictures to Mrs. Gillis, or mamah and grampa, or my cousins, and I can never send it in the mail.  We never have free time at school – I’ll never be able to color again, ONLY AT SCHOOL. [sob, sob, sob].  She won’t let me color even if I color really good, even with a cast on – she won’t let me color [sob, sob, sob].  I’m mad … I mean … sad.  Now I’m never gonna color.  I want to be an artist – and now, I’ll never be an artist! … I wish she didn’t say that.”
 

For the record, I never told her any such thing.  I did tell her that she could no longer do art projects in her bedroom because she was making gigantic messes and we needed to keep that downstairs at the table.  Evidently, all she heard was "you can't draw anymore" and then tuned the rest out.

And then, we went to clean the church that evening.  I had just given Chloe and Bria some jobs to do, and I was happily vacuuming, when Chloe turned the corner just bawling.  At first I was worried she was hurt, but she doesn't cry like that when she is physically hurt, only if her feelings are hurt.  I quickly turned off the vacuum and asked her what on earth had happened.

"I touched a dead cricket!  You told me to pick up garbage, so I was, and I touched a dead cricket!!!  And I even saw his FACE!"

She didn't get over that for at least ten minutes, and then we sent her into the chapel to straighten hymnbooks and prayed there were no more dead bugs in there.

Finally, just before family prayers, I reminded them that we had a fun Saturday planned, but we had to make sure to do our jobs in the morning.  Chloe broke down wailing, yet again.

"But I need to sleep in tomorrow!"

Sigh.

She certainly got that right.

Friday, October 23, 2009

On My Mind

I was really hoping to paint my bathroom tomorrow.  But, as it turns out, it is our family's week to clean the church, we have several social events we are invited to, and it's the BYU football game.  I don't think I can attempt to squeeze in painting , much as I'd like to.

Are you all sick of me yakking on and on about home improvements?  Because I am.

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I actually really enjoy most Stravinsky.  Just needed to clarify.  Maybe I offended some people, or maybe people didn't get that I was being tongue in cheek with my comment that nobody likes Stravinsky.  In my defense, all of Joel's music appreciation papers about the concert said they disliked the Stravinsky section.
  
Poor Stravinsky.

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My Messiah practice has been rather sad.  Or maybe S.A.D.  Either way, it isn't getting done like it should.  Life can get overwhelming, and I'm thinking I might actually need a few Maestro-staged practicing sessions right about now.

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I am now teaching my realtor voice lessons.  Is that weird?  I haven't decided yet, but I'm thankful for the job.  Except that it is cutting into my nonexistent Messiah practice time.

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Last night the whole family made stuffed cabbage together.  My Father-in-Law's recipe.  It's for a heritage thing at school, and we were assigned Portugal.  (Our last name is Portuguese in case you were wondering.)  So, we made stuffed cabbage because Joel's Hawaiian grandmother, married to his Portuguese grandfather used to make it, and now his dad makes it.  Everyone loves it, but I don't think it's Portuguese. In fact, I'm positive it isn't. I think Joel's Tutu learned to make it from an Eastern European woman in Hawaii.  Possibly even a Romanian.  Because, the recipe is pretty darn identical to sarmale.

Oh well.  Hopefully the fourth graders like it.  That's all that matters now.

And the fact that WE love it.  Yum.

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I really need to figure out how to dress Bria as Ginormica for Halloween. Thoughts from the peanut gallery?

The rest of us are taken care of, and we even ditched the theme because of too many little girls changing their minds.  Chloe is now a witch and Sophie is a pumpkin.  Sound familiar?  (Probably not, unless you've read my blog since 2005, but I think the costumes will fit--it's just a matter of digging them out now.)

I'm going as Cruella DeVille, with my own hair.  Perhaps I'll paint my bathroom on Halloween during the day, and I won't even have to worry about spray painting a stripe in.

Joel is still a question mark.  He usually is.  We'll figure it out eventually, although I think it would be hilarious if he went as a Dalmatian.

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I changed to the updated editor on Blogger.  I'm not sure why they didn't automatically update it for everyone because it is absolutely the most user friendly thing in the world compared to what it was like before.  So, if you haven't changed, do it.  Go to your settings tab, click on the basic tab (which is the default anyway) and scroll to the bottom and there you can change things.  You can thank me later.

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I am so thankful I have a husband who can always make me laugh.  I need that right now.

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Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

S.A.D.

I think I struggle with the Seasonal Affective Disorder a little bit.  Probably most people do, but maybe not.  I don't know.  Whatever it is, the dark and gloomy winter has always been difficult for me, and I am not myself.

I just know it's getting awfully hard for me to get out of bed when it's dark until 8:30 a.m. now.  And I have been going back to bed sometimes after the bus comes and letting Sophie watch Cinderella (that's her princess--they've each had a princess) on my bed while I sleep a bit longer.  I don't have much energy or desire to do cleaning or anything. It's just really been this week, but I worry about how much worse it will get.  I'm also kind of sad that my favorite season (autumn) seems to be more like winter around here.  It's beautiful, but I miss my October blue sky that makes me so happy.

Funny that my mood can be dictated so much by the weather.

But, it looks like the sun's out today more than it has been.

Laundry, here I come.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Metamorphosis
(and a heckuva lot of pictures)

Whenever my parents come to visit us, they hope we have a project or two waiting.  My dad especially loves to go around the house and find things that need fixing, and has always managed to discover things we didn't even know were wrong in the first place, or (more often) things that we haven't the time or expertise to fix.  Remember, I married a musician, and while he can be fairly handy, he isn't handy like my dad is.

And then there is my mom.  She is one of those people who is always moving and cleaning and doing.  So she likes us to have a project ready simply because she loves doing it.  Plus, she'll always find a project or two on top of the ones we've already planned.

So, for their first visit out to Michigan last week, we complied.  Bria's and Chloe's room was in dire need of a makeover.  I'm fairly sure that the last time anyone gave it any sort of TLC was sometime in 1978, so not only was it outdated, it was dirty and gross and in general disrepair.  Worst room in the house, I'd venture to say.

I almost forgot to take before pictures, so be thankful for the four I managed to get after we had already taken half of the furniture out of the room.

Remember, our house was built in 1920, so it's almost 100 years old, and this room was certainly showing its age.  The room has two of these windows.  The trim was painted kind of a weird beige color with these 80's era stencils on them.  The paint was peeling and cracking quite badly on the inside part of the window, and they had these cheap paper shade things on them that only worked 24% of the time.  


Here is Chloe's side of the room.  You can see that there is that cable cord coming through the window, which bothered me greatly.  You can also see how the plaster is cracked in several places, and the walls are very dirty.  I didn't even bother to try to clean them, because the paint was that powdery-feeling stuff that just comes off and doesn't help the walls to look any cleaner.  The paint is a steel blue color, that to me just looked filthy instead of being any sort of color.  But it was probably just because it was so old.


Here is the door.  And my mom and Sophia.  Just another view where you can tell how icky the walls were.  I don't know if any of these pictures shows the carpet really well, but it was a royal blue shag.  It had holes and it was just generally gross.  We looked to see if there were hardwood floors underneath, and there were.  But someone had painted them gray.  Weird.


Here is a view into their closet, which is right next to the door to the hallway.  The shelving in there was just raw wood.  That cute pink mirror that's leaning against the dresser?  I bought it for when the room was finished.  Unfortunately, it broke.  So not only do I have seven years of bad luck, I'm without a cute mirror for the room, which is unlucky enough.  I am going to try to break the glass out of it with a hammer (while wearing some very thick gloves) and maybe make it into a bulletin board.  If I can't salvage it, I'll just have to be happy that I got it for 80% off on clearance.


Okay!  Are you ready for the big reveal?  Huh? Huh?

Here we go....

This is Chloe's side of the room again.  The color we went with is called Gecko Green, but it has a lot of yellow in it, and I prefer to say it's Apple Green.  When I got the first wall painted I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the entire room being that color, but I am loving it!  Chloe chose the Princess hanger thing when we were down in Green Bay for Stake Conference and we ran into Hobby Lobby 5 minutes before they closed and literally ran through the store throwing things into our cart.  You can see that the cracks have been filled by my dad, and you can only tell they were ever there if you look really, really closely.


Here is another view of Chloe's side of the room.  (Yes, I took these pictures just before bedtime last night.  Chloe is reading a story to Sophia in her bed.  How cute is that?)  We've had that dresser for a while, I purchased it at a garage sale and have always intended to refinish it.  That is on my project list, and it will be white when I'm finished with it.  The lamp on her nightstand I got from GoodWill and spray painted pink.  Bria has a matching one which I painted blue.  I have shades for them, but haven't gotten around to buying the fabric I need to cover them.  Another thing on the old to-do list.  And just look at that carpet!!!  I got it on an awesome sale from the furniture company in town, and I love it.  You can't see it very well in the picture, but it's not Berber. It's kind of shaggy, but nice.  If you know what I mean.


Just a close-up of the cuties.


Now we move over to Bria's side of the bedroom.  She doesn't like pink much, so her bedspread is identical to Chloe's, but blue.  The curtains are fun and bring both colors as well as the green into them, so they were perfect.  I threw the icky shades out.  The windows took quite a bit of work to paint.  We had to unscrew some molding and take them all the way out of the frame and then paint them.  It was rainy the whole time we were working on this room (it took around 4 days to do everything from start to finish), so that made it kind of a cold project!  I was just glad we were replacing the carpet so we didn't have to worry about protecting it and just painted right on it.  I still need to get some sort of ties for the curtains, I don't like them just like that, but they're still a major improvement.  Also, just putting up a few stray pictures, I am planning on painting the frames or getting new ones entirely, and finding a few more things to add to the blank walls.  If only I were made of money, right?


More of Bria's side of the room. Nothing in particular to say about it, except it used to be really dirty and cracked, too.  Just like Chloe's side.  And the book she's reading totally matches her surroundings.


See?


Here is a look into the closet. Not only is it much more organized now (previously I had just thrown things onto the shelves because they didn't have a home yet), but it's so much cuter.  No more stencils on the door frame.  No more blue carpet.  And we even painted the shelves white.  The only thing I don't like about this closet is that the door opens the wrong way, but my dad couldn't fix it without some major upheaval.  So we will just never close the door I guess.  The hooks on the wall next to the closet are the ones that Bria chose at Hobby Lobby in Green Bay. So Bria.


Just another angle here. And a view of the hallway that will need to be painted, too.


There you have it!  This room went from being the most awful room in the house to the one everybody wants to spend time in.  It's amazing what new paint and new carpet can do, isn't it?

And I can't wait to do Sophie's room next.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Better Half

I have been accused of not updating on what the Maestro is up to, and how he is liking it here, since he is the reason we are here in the first place.  I apologize profusely, and offer the following information:

1.  He teaches two MWF classes at the University.  Music Theory 1 and Music Appreciation.  He really enjoys teaching the Music Appreciation class, as he is a Music History guy, and only tolerates teaching theory. 

2.  He directs the Symphony Orchestra, which rehearses every Tuesday night from 7-10.  (What is it with Joel and Tuesday nights?  He has always been teaching some class or conducting some orchestra on Tuesdays.  Weird.)

3.  Compared to his crazy schedule in Cedar City, this has been a dream!  Even if it is his first year and he is still doing course development, at least he has plenty of time to do it!

4.  He does not yet have a calling in the branch.  Some may think this is odd, but I do think it is a bit of a tender mercy right now, because he really has been working hard to get settled into the University. He couldn't have  handled something right away, but he's looking forward to hopefully receiving a calling sometime soon.

5.  He had his very first Symphony concert this past Saturday night and it was a smashing success.  They played Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody #2 (think Loony Toons, they used this piece a lot), some Stravinsky pieces, and selections from Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream, including the well known Overture and the better known Wedding March.  It was a full house, which apparently hasn't happened for the orchestra in a really long time, and the audience clearly loved it.  Except maybe the Stravinsky stuff, but who loves Stravinsky?

6.  He loves it here.  Everything about it.  I haven't seen him this happy in a long time.  And if he's happy, I'm happy.  It's a win-win situation for all of us.

Monday, October 19, 2009

She's Done It Again!

Just about two years ago Chloe broke her wrist by falling off the couch in our living room.  Who knew sitting on the sofa (or wrestling on it) could be so dangerous?  Apparently, I didn't blog much about it, just giving it a tiny mention at the end of this post, but here is a picture of her back then:



It was her right wrist, so it made the little artist struggle a bit to draw, but she somehow managed.  I don't think she's able to give it up.  I remember she even made a very noble effort to use her left hand to draw with, but eventually managed to figure it all out with the splint (it was what is called a "buckle fracture" so they don't cast it, just a splint for about 4 weeks is all).

Well, in the words of the doctor who read her x-rays on Friday, "She's done it again."

I was in the grocery store on Friday afternoon, picking up a few things with my mom (actually, a lot more than just a few things) when the elementary school called me.  They weren't really alarmed or worried, it was more of a heads up kind of call, but they told me that Chloe had fallen off the monkey bars at recess and had been to the office twice now to pick up an ice pack for her wrist.  I guess she had fallen at an earlier recess, made it through lunch and a lot of classwork with minimal complaint, but she did tell her teacher it hurt which is why she came for the ice packs.

Anyway, I asked which wrist it was, and when they told me it was her right wrist, I had no doubt that she had broken it again.  Chloe has quite a high tolerance for pain and if she complains at all about such things, I worry.  So, I told the school that I was at the grocery store and that I would hurry and finish up and then come pick her up so I could take her into the Urgent Care.

A half-hour later she was getting the x-rays that confirmed another buckle fracture.  And, as far as I can tell from comparing the x-rays from January 2008, it is in the exact same spot, but I'm no expert, either.

She's doing well, and already making sure that she can draw, although it's still painful if she uses her right hand too much.  Not to mention the fact that she gets frustrated because her pictures aren't as well-executed as she would prefer them to be.

I just wish she wouldn't break her wrist in the winter time.  It isn't easy to get coats and turtlenecks over that splint!  So, Chloe, next time (if there must be a next time), please fall off of couches or monkey bars or anything else in the summertime.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What a Difference a Month Makes!

Joel, Sophia and I took my parents out to McLain State Park while they were visiting this week.  The Lake was still as beautiful as ever, but the temperature was a different story!

Just a month ago, it was 80 degrees.

On Thursday, it was around 35.


IMG_4063 Sophia McLain web


But Sophia didn't really mind.

And neither did we, amazingly enough.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

She used to like The Wiggles. And Strawberry Shortcake.

Nine


Every year when Bria's birthday rolls around I am a little shocked that I can possibly have a child as old as she is.  It shocked me when she turned 2, it shocked me when she turned 7, and it is still shocking to me that I, who still feels 17 years old most of the time, could actually be the mother of the 9-year-old child that is living in my house.

But there is no denying it.  She really did turn 9 this week.

Bria is blossoming into such a wonderful young lady.  It pains me to say that:  Young Lady.  And even though she prefers Hannah Montana to The Wiggles and  Harry Potter to Strawberry Shortcake, she is still the same delightful little girl that she always was.

She is starting to be really aware of finances and how much things cost.  She worries whether something she wants will be more than we can afford and is much more likely to go without something she really wants than she was even just a year ago, as she has come to really understand cost and income and all of that.  Just last week, I took her grocery shopping with me and she asked if we could buy Macaroni and Cheese.  Of course we could, I told her. But then she said, "Never mind.  We don't need it and I don't want to waste your money if it's too expensive."  Of course, Mac-n-Cheese is cheap, but I bought quite a lot on this shopping trip in preparation for my parents to visit and Bria's birthday party and paint supplies all on top of normal groceries.  When she heard the cashier tell me the almost three-hundred dollar total, her eyes got really big and she said she could put back some of her birthday stuff.  Seriously so sweet.

I mentioned before that she is having a cooking party with her friends on Saturday.  This little girl really loves to cook, and she didn't get it from me!  She reads cookbooks for fun.  Last Saturday morning she woke up early (as usual), and made deviled eggs all by herself! I don't think I've ever made deviled eggs in all my life, and here my child who is not quite nine years old did it.  And they were really good, to boot.

She is so helpful, always helping with her sisters.  She especially enjoys picking out Sophia's outfits, and even though Bria's fashion style is somewhat eclectic, she generally comes up with things that are really fun and totally her style.  She makes her bed as soon as she hops out of it in the morning, which is amazing to me, and she really tries to keep her bedroom clean.

She loves to read, and will often wake up early in order to do it.  (So different than her mother, who stays up super late in order to fit reading in.)  She is finally growing out of Junie B. Jones and moving on to some other wonderful books, like Harry Potter and many of Roald Dahl's titles, which are her current favorites.



Engrossed


She continues to be incredibly musical, and we suspect she may have perfect, or at least near-perfect, pitch.  After one of Joel's Tuacahn performances of High School Musical 2 this past summer, when asked how she liked the show she replied, "It was okay.  And I'm not trying to mean or anything, but a lot of those kids didn't really sing in tune very well."  She was right, but it was just so funny to hear that coming from a child!

It was especially fun this year to watch her open her birthday gifts.  I haven't seen her quite this happy since we lived in Arizona.  I am realizing that the Cedar City years were just as difficult for Bria as they were for me, in different ways, and it is incredible how truly happy she seems here.  She'd been asking for the DVD of Monsters vs. Aliens for months (I was so glad it was released in DVD a couple weeks ago!), and was absolutely thrilled to get it.


Premier


She was also excitedly looking forward to her gift from Joel's parents, because they nearly always give the kids one dollar for every year, and she wanted those nine dollars.  It was especially fun because Mimi called just as Bria was opening it, and it did not disappoint.  Plus there were stickers.


Mimi on the phone


She also got books and Barbies from Mamah and Grandpa (my parents), and Barbie clothes from her sisters.   I was a little worried in the back of my mind that maybe she would think she was too old for Barbies, even though I know she loves them.  But nope, she was thrilled.  She's not growing up too fast, after all.

Happy Birthday, Bria!  I love you so much.


Blow!


I hope all your wishes come true this year.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Post-It Note

Stephanie over at Diapers and Divinity recently thought up a wonderful blog award called the Post-It Note.  (Actually, I'm not sure if that is what it is called, but that is what I am calling it, anyway.)  I was lucky enough to receive it from her, because she liked my post, Certainty.

So, first of all, thanks to Steph for totally making my day.  That day was one where I needed a bit of a pick-me up, and this award definitely fit the bill.

Now, I am supposed to pass it along.  While Stephanie awarded three bloggers, I am, for the time being, only going to award one.  (Much of this has to do with the fact that I have been too busy to read blogs lately, but I reserve the right to award more people if I want.)

Before I unveil the post that really struck a chord in me and made me think a lot on it, I must first tell you a bit of backstory.

As you know, I have three beautiful children.  What you may not know is that, while I definitely wanted to become a mother, once I became a mother (9 years ago yesterday), it just didn't come as easily to me as I had hoped.  It is hard for me to lay aside my own desires in life and really concentrate on what is best for my children. Maybe I was a little surprised at the sacrifices that motherhood requires.  Maybe I was selfish.  I don't know.  I am sure this is not anything abnormal, but I have always felt a little guilty for those feelings, especially in the LDS culture.

Something else you may not know is that we have been trying to have another baby for quite some time now.  Long enough, that I really should have a newborn by now, but it has never been super easy for me to get pregnant.  Recently, as I was going around my house doing all those things that mothers do every day, it dawned on me that I was totally fine if my three daughters are the only children I am destined to have.  I feel like I should have another baby, and I even want to, but I am fine if I don't. And knowing that I would be fine with only three also makes me feel just a little bit guilty.

When I read Emily's post on her blog (which it looks like she is retiring), pointing out her contributions to this quarter's Segullah magazine , I clicked on through and read.  Her piece, Finding Myself on Google, brought tears to my eyes, and validated so many of the feelings that I have previously felt guilty for having.  It reconfirmed just how important motherhood is, but didn't deny how difficult it can be at the same time.  And mostly, it helped me to remember that God knows me, knows what I can and can't handle and that if it is His will for me to have another child, it will happen.  Because honestly, as much as I think having another baby is the right thing to do, I'm not sure I could really handle it.  And that's okay.  Because I have a wonderful family as is.


So, go read Emily's post and just try not to be inspired by it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Falling Asleep at the Keyboard

Today is Bria's 9th birthday.  I can't even believe it.  I was hoping to find the time today to write a lovely birthday tribute post to her, but I think I'll have to postpone it until later.  After all, her "real" birthday party isn't until Saturday, so I think I have a few days to fly under the radar.

The reason for such a postponement?

Let's just say that it is 9:30 pm and this is the first time I've turned on my computer all day, with the exception of borrowing my mom's laptop to answer a couple quick emails this morning.   (Actually, that's not an exception at all, since I still didn't turn my own computer on....) 

Instead of being on the computer today, I:

1. Got the kids ready for school at the crack of dawn, or what seems like it.
2. Took all the fundraiser information to the preschool to be handed out to each child, and helped divvy it out for the first class.
3.  Went to buy more paint for the girls' new apple green bedroom.
4.  Painted.
5.  Painted some more.
6.  Taught a voice lesson (in my paint clothes and with a lovely Cruella stripe of white paint in my hair).
7.  Wrapped Bria's birthday gifts.
8.  Did a bit of laundry (my mom did more).
9.  Slaved away in the kitchen to make Bria's birthday dinner.  (Okay, okay.  Her favorite is pizza, so I picked up the phone and called Pizza Hut.)
10.  Picked Joel up from work.
11.  Did the whole birthday thing:  Dinner, gifts, cake and candles.
12.  Painted.
13.  Put kids to bed.
14.  Made an apron for Bria's birthday party.  Long story, but she is having a little cooking party on Saturday and I am making an apron for each little girl.  That makes seven.  Tonight was only the second.
15.  Blogged.

Anyway, this is really the first time I've had all day to sit down and blog, and I am literally falling asleep, my head is bobbing and everything.  I don't think I even have the fortitude to wash the paint out of my hair before I go to sleep.

No matter, I'll be painting again in the morning.

Good night!

PS  My parents have been huge helps today.  Without them, I wouldn't have done a fourth of what I've been able to do today.  Phewsh.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I really need to get a smaller camera

Because I have no pictures to share with you of my adventures the past few days. And that is really lame. Because if you could only see what I saw, you would understand how amazing it all really was.

But, because I don't have a smaller camera, and I don't lug my huge one all around everywhere I go, you'll just have to settle for a description.  Sorry.

On Friday night some friends invited us to go to Club Indigo with them.  Club Indigo is dinner and an old movie at the Calumet Theatre, which is this beautiful old theatre about 1/2 hour from where we live.  We ate some Irish food from a local Irish restaurant.  Joel will tell you the food wasn't great (he's a food snob), but I liked it a lot.  Afterwards, we watched a wonderful old movie, circa 1943, called The Human Comedy starring people like Mickey Rooney, Donna Reed and the guy who played the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz.

I wish I could show you pictures of the theatre, inside and out.  But, no camera.  So, let's move on to Sunday, shall we?

My neighbor (the one from Provo who went to Joel's high school), invited us to a music recital up at a little monastery in Jacob's Falls.  The monastery is right on the shore of Lake Superior, dedicates itself to the propagation of the arts, and it is amazing.  You only get to go to these recitals by special invitation from the monks, and our neighbor's brother happened to be coming to accompany a baritone on the piano, so she was allowed to invite a few people.  Her brother (also from Provo, obviously) did his undergrad music at BYU, although he graduated right before Joel and I graduated from high school, so we never actually ran into him there.  Still.  Such a small world sometimes.

The recital was fantastic.  New York City caliber.  All at a tiny little monastery on the water with just a handful of people to attend.  Both the baritone and the accompanist had amazing resumes and lived up to them completely.  He did a lot of German Lieder (my personal favorite) and some really wonderful modern compositions, and he was absolutely riveting.  But even more amazing was the view.  Behind the singer was a large window, and you could see Lake Superior's waves rolling and crashing just behind him. 

After the recital, which was about an hour and a half long, the monks fed us dinner that they made themselves.  Beef stroganoff, shrimp, rice, veggies and this amazing chocolate-orange mousse that tasted just like those Christmas orange sticks.  Even Joel liked it.  We met a lot of the artsy crowd in the area, and we hope that the monks will invite us to the recitals again when they start up next year.  This was the last one of the season since now it will be a little difficult to get up there with all the snow.

Speaking of snow, I definitely wish I could have taken a picture of the gigantic snow measuring stick we saw on our way up to the monastery.  I'll definitely have to catch a picture of it eventually.

In other news, my parents arrived on Saturday afternoon and will be here this whole week.  We are going to paint and recarpet a couple rooms, and celebrate Bria's birthday tomorrow and just enjoy each other.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

White

This morning, Bria came bursting into our room, very excited about something.

"It's SNOWING outside!"

She gets up early, this child, and her favorite thing to do on Saturday mornings while everyone else is sleeping is to go down to the back sun porch and read.  Lots of windows there, and she was the first (in the entire neighborhood, according to her) to see the white flakes falling.

The kids are thrilled.

It's definitely pretty, I'll give it that.  And if I hadn't had to go grocery shopping this morning, I might have liked it better.

I was thinking how funny it is that we will have snow on Bria's birthday this year.  When we lived in Arizona, it was often 90 degrees on her birthday and we'd do outdoor parties and everything.  In Cedar City, it was a bit chillier, but still warm-ish (if that makes any sense).  Here?  Snow.

That is all.  Carry on with your weekends.  :)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Deep In the Hundred-Acre Wood

Little Christopher Robin


Doesn't this picture remind you of Christopher Robin?  Dang, I should buy her some galoshes.

Because she'd be freakin' adorable in them, and also, because it rains a lot here in our own little woods.

A lot.

I don't like the rain very much.  It makes me gain weight.  No, really.  It does.

Because, when it's raining outside, I don't feel much like getting out of bed.  So, instead of getting up and moving, I do the bare minimum and then sit around (or lie around) reading a book and drinking hot chocolate.  And each day that I do this, I inevitably gain 5 pounds.

I told you rain makes me gain weight.

It's rather unfortunate, really.

Rain is also pretty cold.  And wet.  And a little bit dark and dreary on the side. And I'm a little bit alarmed at the rate at which daylight hours are disappearing! Just last week, I swear it was still light at 8 pm, and now it's getting dark around 7:15. And you all saw the darkness of our morning bus stop. It's only October, and we're still on Daylight Savings Time!

I'm scared!


Rain, Rain Go Away! 
 
(So is Chloe.)
 

Rainy Day


Not Bria, though.

She rather likes the rain.

(And, I suppose Chloe is prepared should it rain all day and flood the streets.  Please remind me to retire those jeans she is wearing. She is looking a little bit like JoJo's Circus about now.  Yikes!)

PS  These pictures make me happy.  Happy enough that I'll forgive the rain for a while.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Making Connections

A few months ago, while visiting my parents, I called for my mom to come help me with something.  After she answered and everything was squared away, I noticed Sophia just standing there looking at me, her wheels clearly turning.

"Mamah's you mom?"  she asked.

"Yes!  That's right.  Mamah is my mom."

"Oh."  (pause) "And Grandpa's you dad?"

I was so impressed with her ability to put that all together like that.  Minutes later, she started asking about Joel's parents and quickly figured out that her other set of grandparents, Mimi and Papa, must be Daddy's mom and dad.

I love watching her make these connections that seem so obvious to us, but clearly must be learned at some point in life.  I've mentioned before that this child asks the question "why?" about 800 times per day, and some of the many Q&A sessions we've had together have resulted in new knowledge which she loves to repeat often.

For instance, whenever she asks where Joel is, and I tell her he's at work, she can now answer her own set of whys.

"Oh!  Daddy's at work so he make money so we can buy food and we can eat it!" 

The other day, her most recent lightbulb moment had me giggling a bit.

"Mommy's the Mom and Daddy's the Dad!" she said, proud of her ability to figure that one out.

"Yes!  And Sophia's the baby,"  I replied.

"No!  Sophia's not the baby!  Sophia's the Soph!  And Chloe's the Chlo, and Bria's the Bri."


And you know?  I think she's right about that one.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Autumn Beauty

My very own Autumn Beauty


Yesterday, I went with Sophie on her preschool field trip to the pumpkin patch and corn maze. I took a bunch of pictures and I'm having a hard time deciding which is more beautiful.

Sophia?

Pretty


Or the Upper Peninsula Autumn?

Little Miss Pumpkin Face


Not really.

Autumn Leaves


Sophia wins hands down.

Sophia in Autumn


(Obviously.)

Autumn Scene


The autumn colors are gorgeous, too, just not quite as gorgeous as Sophia. She's also pretty cute. Something fall foliage will never be.

Cutie Pie


I still like to look at them both.

Fall colors

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Ten Lessons I Learned from Conference
(Conference Cinnamon Rolls, That Is)

Conference Cinnamon Rolls


1.  If you want to have your cinnamon rolls ready to eat by the first session (which is now at NOON for me, are you jealous?), then you should probably not volunteer to help with the preschool rummage sale from 7:45 am until 11:00 am.  No, you will not miss any of conference, but you will also be eating cinnamon rolls for dinner.  Or dessert.

2. Keep the frosting bowl out of the reach of the resident three year old.  Otherwise, you will come into the kitchen and find the bowl on the floor, several spoons and spatulas covered in icing and cute little tongue marks, and no frosting for the second batch.  It's a good thing Joel insisted on buying extra cream cheese.  You know, just in case.

3.  Fruit flies really, really, really like yeast.  Even if you honestly thought that your house was finally rid of the fruit flies you brought home from the grocery store your first week here and learned that you cannot have a fruit bowl.  Ever since you started storing the fruit in the fridge, the flies have been few and far between. But boy, as soon as you set the yeast out, they come to visit in droves.  Ick.

4. This frosting recipe really is The Last Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe You'll Ever Need.  No wonder Sophia needed to eat the entire bowl.

5. No matter how well-intentioned you are, you will not give any of them away to your neighbors.

6. Except the missionaries.  And boy, are the elders ever excited to receive a plate of cinnamon rolls.  Besides, giving some to them makes you a part of the Marvelous Work.  Missionaries can't be effective without good food, and nobody can be expected to survive Conference weekend without homemade cinnamon rolls.  Really.

7. Even if you think you can resist, you will end up eating more than one.  Okay, more than two.

8.  Fine.  More than five. Are you happy now?

9.  Because you ate so many, you are seriously considering a family-wide sugar detox.  (Actually, I'm not even kidding about this.)  Somehow, listening to the inspired words of the prophet and the apostles made you realize that you need to stop rewarding your kids with food right now, and start rewarding them with things of a healthier nature.  I don't know what yet, but I'm working on it.  I'll keep you posted.

10.  Regardless, the sugar-fat-filled goodness that are your homemade cinnamon rolls (which you only make twice a year for General Conference anyway), will cause your children to bestow upon you the title of Best Mother in the Universe and your husband to proclaim you a goddess.  Anything with that kind of power is totally worth it.

PS  Here's my recipe.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Certainty

Early morning's light


I can see my breath as I trudge up the hill holding a little girl's hand in each of mine. It's not quite light outside, but they still chatter at me about school and all that they are looking forward to doing today.  Our feet crunch through the dead leaves on the cement as we walk, reminding me of everything I love about October.

Except, I've never known any October here.

For all of my childhood I lived in the same city, and most of it in the same house.  The same house where my parents have now lived for 30 years.  It was familiar, it was welcoming, it was home.  Octobers for me meant college football and Halloween preparation.  It meant Mt. Timpanogos on fire with red, yellow and orange.  It meant sitting by the fire that my dad built to have Family Home Evening.  It meant a lot of things, and year after year those things were the same.  I counted on them.

And that's what I wanted for my own children.  A place to call home--to feel settled.  To know what to expect every October and to love it like I did.

So far, Bria has spent Octobers at two different homes in Provo, in Arizona, Cedar City and now here.  That's a lot of homes for someone who is just barely turning 9 years old.  This is Chloe's fourth home, and technically, Sophia's third, although we only lived in Arizona for 3 more weeks after her birth.  I haven't yet given my children that stability that I enjoyed and needed as a child.

And I myself have felt so unsettled in each of those homes.  Joel was still in school for much of that time, and we knew we would have to move on for yet another degree and then, when school was finally finished, a job.  But that first job never felt permanent.  We still felt unsettled.

But as I listen to my daughters telling me about the popcorn sale at school, I realize I don't feel that way anymore.  Everything feels so right about this place.  I have a feeling we'll be enjoying many Octobers to come.  We'll still have college football, and Halloween.  We might not have a burning Timp, but no matter!  Our entire neighborhood will soon be ablaze with fall colors.  And we can all cuddle up together for Family Home Evening by the fires that Joel will build.

I wait with the girls for the bus to come, and watch them happily board, eager to get to school.  I linger a little longer to see the bus round the corner, and then I turn to walk back home.

Home.

After more than ten years, I finally feel settled.

Bus Stop

Sunday, October 04, 2009

General Conference Aftermath

That's not even counting my cinnamon roll mess in the kitchen.

And I don't feel one bit bad about not cleaning it up...it'll just happen all over again for the Sunday session.

I love General Conference!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Since I never did get any autumn pictures (yet)...


This is my adorable nephew (and his mom and dad). I love this photo! Did I mention he's adorable?

He's also the cause of my current baby hunger. Ever since he was born (a year ago!), I have wanted a baby. I have contemplated stealing Lucas, but thought better of it. Sigh.

I did their photo shoot a couple weeks before we moved, and have just barely finished editing them all. I hope my sister-in-law can forgive me for being so slow. I had to approach it a little at a time rather than gulping the elephant down whole, and it took a lot of time that way.

But it's done now.

Joel was golfing while I was shooting this session, so I had all three girls with me. Which was totally fine since it was their cousins, and since they had a ton of space in which to run and play. And since they knew they were getting ice-cream at McDonald's when we were done if they were good.

So good they were.



Bria was a huge help with the baby and getting the kids to smile during family shots. She's such a great kid.


And this photo made me cry.

I miss them.

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

Here's the rest of the session. (At least some more of it.)

And another one I did shortly before the move.

I am now guilt-free.

(If only it were that easy.)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

"By Failing to Prepare You Are Preparing to Fail"
(That Ben Franklin, he knew what he was talking about)

I tend to live my life on a wing and a prayer. While it's pretty conducive to creativity and all of that, it isn't the greatest way to live. I am a self-proclaimed schedule hater, and prefer to just do everything I need to do on a whim. This includes things like grocery shopping (I never really know what we need and tend to overspend), packing for vacation (I always wait till the very last minute and inevitably forget something), housework (some things are always done, but some things are horribly neglected--out of sight, out of mind), practicing (it usually takes a maestro-staged coup for me to practice in any sort of an organized manner), and lesson-planning (my YW lessons are almost always "prepared" late Saturday night, and sometimes even during Sacrament meeting).

I've been thinking an awful lot about preparation this morning, mostly since I've only been awake for 2 hours and my lack of it is already painfully obvious. Sophia came down to our bedroom this morning at 8:11 wanting breakfast. Four minutes before the girls' school started. Joel and I had both forgotten to set our alarms the night before. Not so surprising for me, but Joel has never once failed to make sure his alarm is set in our entire marriage.

Bria was angry with us and demanded that I buy her her own alarm so she could get up even when we forget. (And I will buy her one.) She despises being late, so her first reaction when Joel got the girls up was to sit on the floor and cry that she would miss art. And be angry at her parents.

After I checked the girls into school 15 minutes late, I came back home and finished getting Sophie ready for preschool. I spent an extra 10 minutes or so trying to find a warm coat for her, as the weather has taken a turn for the very, very cold. And then another several minutes looking for a hat and some mittens. Needless to say, we were late to preschool, too, even though we could have avoided that had I thought about the weather last night.

On a whim, I grabbed my camera on the way out of the door so I could stop and take some autumn pictures after I dropped her off. Well, I parked the car near some particularly beautiful trees, got out and turned on my camera. Instead of taking some beautiful pictures, I sighed because the screen was blinking at me to change the battery pack. Even had I thought to bring my entire camera bag with me, it wouldn't have made a difference because I happened to know for a fact that my other battery was also dead. Because I only ever charge them when my camera tells me to.

So, here I am back at home, waiting for my battery to charge and blogging away about my lack of preparation this morning, and in life in general. To my credit, I have actually been much better about housekeeping and even grocery shopping this last couple months. Like, so much better, that I do laundry, dishes and general tidying every morning before I sit down to blog, and the house is usually clean when we go to bed at night. And Joel and I have been menu-planning. Which is one of the things that has always made shopping difficult for me, since he cooks and I shop. We just have to get together and plan. Works like a charm, and saves a ton of money even without coupons, since I haven't got it together enough quite yet to start with that. Our afternoons, as you saw yesterday, have been crazy but I am prepared for them and everything gets done.

All of these thoughts, though, in the end have led me to consider my spiritual preparation. And I must admit that my lack of focus in general does leak over to this side of my life more than I care to admit. I don't have a set time to study my scriptures, and so I often just plain forget to do it. Getting up late, or not having a real schedule for the morning means that sometimes I forget to pray. And the real kicker is that it all makes me a little less patient and a little more liable to react in ways that aren't exactly Christlike.

General Conference is in two days, and I'm not really as prepared as I ought to be. I am resolved to spend the next couple days thinking of the questions I'd personally like to have answered, and just readying my spirit for the edification. I hope to come up with ways to prepare my children for this important time, and for their own spirituality for life in general.

While I don't know that I am ready to stick to a rigid schedule, I do know that I can simply do more to prepare so that I can be successful in more areas of my life.

I'm tired of failing.

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

I mentioned that the cold weather has come, and I am (not surprisingly) unprepared in this area, too! I have coats and gloves and hats and scarves for myself, but I do not have a good pair of boots. The only boots I own are black Italian leather with a 4 inch heel. Somehow I do not think these are going to help me at all in 250 inches of snow.

Yesterday I was contacted by a company asking for advertising on my blog. While I usually say no to these people, or ignore them altogether, I decided to do this because if enough people click through my blog and sign up to win a pair of Ugg boots, then I will also get a free pair. And goodness knows I need them.

If you'd like to help me be more prepared, click on this link and follow directions. Or you can click on the picture in my sidebar. You will have to post a picture of the contest on your own blog, but you will be entered into the monthly drawing, and all future monthly drawings for as long as you leave the picture on your site.