Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Little Bit of Hallowe'en

IMG_5686 Halloween web
The Jack-o-Lantern that Joel and the girls carved about 15 minutes before they went trick-or-treating.  They totally win the contest for speed this year.

I did not have the wherewithal to do much with Halloween this year, much as I usually love it.  No homemade costumes.  No dressing up myself.  No pumpkin carving.  And practically no photos.

Joel was out of town last weekend, which is when a lot of Halloween happens in our town.  On Friday night, we had our annual Treat Street, where the downtown businesses hand out candy.  I went with friends Jane & Jared and their kiddos (and dog...that is not Puccini on steroids).  Funny anecdote: Jared is usually out of town for Treat Street and Jane goes with Joel and me.  This year, Jared was in town, but Joel was gone.  I wonder if they'll ever both be there?

Since I was dealing with the kids by myself, photos were pretty non-existent.  The kids actually requested this one at the wall, since we do it every year.  Nice to know I have trained them well.

Otherwise, most of my pictures looked like this:

IMG_5655 Treat STreet web

Though I did get one of each of the girls.  But just one!

Chloe was an 80s Valley Girl (she decided against John Lennon after all) who didn't believe me that ratted hair, especially bangs, was the thing in the 80s.  She also had some amazing fake eyelashes.

IMG_5640 Treat Street web

Sophia was "Abby Bominable."  If you have daughters who are into Monster High, you'll recognize her as the daughter of the yeti.  She's pretty cute, and I got to repurpose the Ginormica wig from a few years ago instead of spending 30 bucks on the Monster High one.

IMG_5642 Treat Street web

I also managed to get one photo of her in the fall leaves, but she closed her eyes for it and then ran off before I could get another one.  Candy called. 

IMG_5651 Treat Street web

Bria was "Miss Mad Hatter" but she only wore the hat to Treat Street because she was going to the middle school dance right after and didn't want to wear her costume there.

IMG_5641 Treat Street web

After Treat Street, the rest of us had a party at our house (something that has become tradition as well--and it is so much fun!).  Soup and chili and lots of other yummy food.  I had about 35 people at my house, more than  half of them kids.  And I did it all without a husband! I'm guessing that all of my Halloween wherewithal this year went to the party.  Without Joel, I actually had to make his (very detailed) chicken noodle soup AND my chili.  And clean the house and make it look cute.  No pictures of any of it, unfortunately.  I am just not on much of a camera kick.  Next year.

On Saturday night we had Safe House.  This is where the university students decorate their dorms in really fun ways and the kids go trick-or-treating there.  This time we went with MaryFran, Jim, and their three girls.

 Here are the Number Threes with one of their friends from Girl Scouts.

IMG_5657 Safe House web

Here are the Number Ones.

IMG_5659 Safe House web

I never did manage to get a photo of the Number Twos.  Darn it.  But here is my Number Two without her match.  (She is saying Oh. My. Gosh! in this photo.)

IMG_5660 Safe House web

No eyelashes this time...we couldn't get them to stick anymore and I didn't actually think to buy eyelash glue.  And spirit gum doesn't work for eyelashes.  Trust me on this one.

Here's one last photo of Bria in her full costume, but I guess I don't have any photos in which you can actually see the whole costume.  Sigh.  She sure is a cutie pie, though.

IMG_5665 Safe House web

Today (October 31), it snowed most of the day.  I have been sick, so I cancelled all my lessons and stayed in bed until I had to get up to take Halloween treats in to the school for the parties and see the costume parade.  In true form, I forgot my camera, but at least I remembered the cupcakes!

All the snow meant it was cooooooold out there come Trick-or-Treat time.  I didn't have the wherewithal OR the fortitude, so I stayed home to pass out candy while The Maestro braved the elements and gathered candy with the girls.

And that, my friends, was Halloween 2012 in our neck of the woods.

Onward to November!

Monday, October 29, 2012

On Writing in Journals
(And Blogs)

Bria turned 12 a couple weeks ago.

(Giving myself a few seconds for that to actually sink in.)(I really hate it when my kids get older.)(Especially when I vividly remember what it was like to be 12 myself!)

In our church, turning 12 is a kind of a big deal.  It means that you graduate from Primary and go on to either Young Men or Young Women.  So, this means that Bria is a Young Woman now.  Which, of course, I kind of hate, right along with all of the other getting older stuff.

Yesterday, I was helping Bria work on her Personal Progress, which is a program the young women do.  She played her violin in church yesterday, and one of the items was to participate in a public performance and then write in your journal about how it affected your self-confidence and individual worth.

Easy, no?

Well, no.

The performance part was easy enough for her.  She could complete that goal about twice a month probably.  She just couldn't understand why she'd have to write her feelings down in her journal.  How icky!

I explained to her about how much I enjoy going back and reading the literal volumes of journals I have kept over the years.  I remember things about myself that would be totally lost because I wrote them down.  I can see many things that I have learned and how I have grown as a person.  I even read things that make me sad, because in some ways I used to be a better person than I am now.  But I learn from that, too. 

I told her that I wouldn't remember half the things about her own babyhood that I do if it weren't for keeping journals.

And my blog.

The whole reason this blog was started was because Chloe had just turned two and I hadn't written in my journal since her birth.  Two whole years without writing was probably the longest I'd ever gone without keeping a journal since I was seven years old.  And I am not exaggerating.  I really do have volumes and volumes of journals downstairs in a bin somewhere.

My journals from when I was seven years old say things like:

Today I got up and I ate Cheerios for breakfast.  (I was a fascinating child.)

My journals from when I was nine years old say things like:

When I Grow Up I Want to Be Mother Dancer Singer Musican Actor Entertainer (So little has changed!)

This Dr. Seuss journal happens to be sitting on my bookshelf...I always get a kick out of looking through it.

My journals from when I was twelve years old say things like:

David is so annoying!  Today he.... (Dave is my younger brother, and to say we didn't get along well during those years is an understatement.)(Love him to death today.)(Just so you know.)

My journals from when I was sixteen years old should never be read, and I'm still wondering if they should be burned, thus decimating all evidence of my insane boy-craziness and teenage angst.

My journals from college, while still on the boy-crazy side, begin to show more maturity and are actually quite interesting and entertaining to read.  (Not that I'll ever let you read them or anything.)

My journals from my two LDS missions, one as Dancer Singer Musician Actor Entertainer missionary in Nauvoo, Illinois, and the other as a proselyting missionary in Romania begin to show my spiritual side, my emerging testimony, trials of faith, and so much more.  These journals are particularly precious to me because I have forgotten so many of the things that happened while I served as a missionary, simply because so much happened.

My journals from my post-mission days are, thankfully, much less boy-crazy, but they do document meeting and falling in love with The Maestro and all that entailed.  Which is a lot.  And may have reawakened a bit of the old teenage angst, too, thanks to multiple break-ups.  (What were we thinking?)

My journals from after I was married were...different.  About my life.  About Bria, once she was born.

And then, when Chloe was born, my journals stopped abrubtly.

I don't know why.  Maybe it was because we moved to Arizona shortly after.  Maybe it was because I was heavily into scrapbooking during the Arizona years and that is a form of journaling, too.  But, I missed the writing.

So, I started a blog.

And here I am, nearly 8 years later and, until yesterday, I was feeling like I was done with blogging.  Blogging just isn't what it once was.  In Cedar City, it saved my life in a way I will be eternally grateful for.  When I felt that I had absolutely no friends and was in a pretty deep depression, there were these other women who kept blogs, who said fantastic things, and thought I said fantastic things, too.  They kept me afloat.  And many of them are still dear friends's just not about blogging anymore.  Where I used to get 30 comments on every post, I'm lucky now if I get 3.

I'm also lucky if I can find the time to write at all.  I'm working about 30 hours a week, plus trying to keep my household running, and none of my working hours is in the afternoon when the kids are home because I am then running them all over kingdom come to lessons and girl scouts and school functions and orchestra and church functions and then helping them with homework and chores and practicing.  So writing is really low on the totem pole right now, and reading others' blogs is pretty much non-existent.

But, I didn't start a blog because I needed to make friends (though that was a wonderful side effect).  I started a blog because I missed writing in a journal.  And because keeping some sort of a record of my life and my children's lives is important to me.  I absolutely love clicking on random posts from my archives.  I learn a lot from myself and it keeps me centered, just like reading through my journals does (not that I do it all that often).

So, I won't give up my blog, even though I last wrote in it almost 3 weeks ago.  I won't just stop posting The Epic Vacation because each post requires several hours of photo editing and writing to get it up.  I won't even stop Project Walking into a Hug, even though I take really long hiatuses. But, I also won't worry if it does take me three weeks to post something again.  Things are just different right now--more overstuffed than ever--and putting my shoulder to the wheel, doing my many duties, and being present for my children is the most important thing I can be doing.

Writing about it can wait a while--just not too long.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ode to October

October is my happy place.  Even though it snowed today.  I forgive the snow because it was in October, and it didn't stick anyway.

October is when I feel like doing projects, and as busy as I am, I have managed to quickly do a few home improvement things, and it makes me so happy. 

October is when my parents come visit!  And help me with my projects!  They're coming on Saturday and I can't even wait.

October is when Bria, my first child, was born.  And she is turning TWELVE on Saturday.  I have a hard time wrapping my mind around that.  TWELVE.  A young woman.  And such an amazing one, too.

October is when you eat pumpkin food.  Unless you're me.  Then you just smile and be happy for your children when your amazing TWELVE-year old puts on your apron and makes more pumpkin bars or pumpkin cupcakes.  And then you leave the kitchen when they eat them.  Because, after all pumpkin IS your favorite food.  You even have a Pinterest board about it and continue to pin things on it even though YOU CAN'T EAT THEM!

These are some gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin cupcakes that Bria made last week.  I did eat these, it was before my radical diet change, which I have yet to explain on this blog because I never blog anymore.  They were yummy.
October is when there is candy corn.  Today I bought five bags.  Don't worry, I didn't eat them, though it takes all the willpower I have not to because I LOVE candy corn.  It is definitely my favorite.  I totally fell off the crazy diet wagon last week because of it.  But I was in quite a bit of physical pain over it, so it was a little easier to just eat one today.  One measly piece of candy corn, and I still paid for it with pain.  But I'm still happy because I like to look at it and I have four jars of candy corn to share with my friends.  If my kids don't eat it all, anyway.

October is also apparently when Cadbury Screme Eggs come out.  Never heard of them?  Well, they are just like Cadbury Creme Eggs, if you didn't guess that already.  Only they are purple and green.  Seriously, Cadbury?  How is this fair?  I can't stay away from these things at Easter and now you are asking me to exercise my willpower at Halloween?  WHEN THERE ARE ALREADY CANDY CORNS?

October is Halloween.  One of the funnest (I know that's not really a word) holidays of the year.  Except that I am not on the ball with costumes for the kids this year.  Nobody even knows what they want to be! Except Chloe.  She's going to be John Lennon.

October is when the world turns all of my favorite colors.  If you ever come to my house, you will see that I have painted it all autumnal shades: golds, reds, oranges, browns and yellows.  With the exception of the girls' rooms, I have a cozy fall feeling all the time in my own house.  Lucky me.

Yep.  October is my happy place.  And I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

There is Sunshine in my Soul

You guys, I'm pretty stressed.  No big surprise, since I'm pretty sure I'm always stressed, and whenever I'm particularly overwhelmed I come on my blog to whine about it.  I mean, why have a blog called Overstuffed if you can't complain about your overstuffed life?

But, even so, my theme for the year is to Lighten Up! And so if my schedule can't be very light right now, at least my attitude can.

Many things have filled my soul with sunshine and brightened my life in the last couple days. Here are five of them.  I'd give you a longer list, but I'm completely out of time.

1.  It's Fall in the Upper Peninsula!  Nothing makes me happier than autumn.  Even though this year I can't eat pumpkin bars (okay, so I have made a few gluten-free batches, but I had to quit...explanation forthcoming)(someday),  autumn in the UP is unbeatable.  I haven't had a chance to go out and get some really great photos, but I took this one from the grocery store parking lot on Saturday.  An explosion of brightly colored leaves, the blue autumn sky, and sunshine. 

I could go on and on about how October is my favorite month (even though it was still September when I took this), but I'll spare you.

2.  Music at the Monastery!  I must admit, I love that we are on the exclusive list of musicians/music patrons that get invited to these wonderful recitals each year.  I so look forward to it every fall.  They had two recitals this fall, and I attended both of them.  This past Sunday, The Maestro didn't want to come with me because he'd gotten in late from Chicago the night before, so I took a friend of mine and Chloe.  I took this picture of the sun beginning to set as we were headed home.  Gotta love that iPhone sunflare--pure sunshine for the soul.


I did nothing to this photo.  This is straight out of phone.

3.  The Northern Lights!  They were out on Sunday night.  I took this photo right from my front porch (sans tripod, sadly). What with the "city" lights and the Harvest Moon, it was not that dark out and it was a miracle they were so bright.  And since the Northern Lights are caused by the sun, there's more literal sunshine for this girl's soul. 

IMG_5436 Northern Lights web

Yeah, I have yet to cross "take an in-focus, good picture of the Northern Lights" off my bucket list.  But I do like that I caught The Big Dipper and a fall tree.  It's something.

4.  I painted my laundry room yellow!  Well, the part of it that isn't made out of 100-year old stone foundation, anyway.  It's like a dungeon in that laundry room, and since I'm getting a new washer and dryer, I thought I'd brighten up the place with a sunshiny yellow.  I kind of love it.  It sure beats the dreary, dark paneling that was there before! And now perhaps I will actually get more laundry done--especially in the winter when nobody ever wants to go down there!  Especially with my brand new fancy laundry doing machines!

laundry room

And yes, painting the floor is the next item on the docket.  I ordered a cute rug, too.  Can't wait.  It's the simple things, isn't it?

5.  Hilarious notes from my children!  Especially this one, from Chloe.  I've always called her my little sunshine, so it totally counts for this list.  She's working on one of those "book reports" that is disguised as an "art project," and she is such a perfectionist.  She read a book, made the project and then tore it all up because it wasn't just so.  She then decided she didn't like that book after all, so she read another book and is currently working on the project (actually, she finished tonight)(and yes, I did let myself help her).  Yesterday afternoon she had quite the little meltdown over writing the paragraph that summarizes the book.  She hated every single suggestion I gave her and then it was time to go to violin lessons.  On the way there, she hands me a little piece of construction paper that she had fashioned into a folder and told me it was a note from her teacher.  Inside, I found this note.

Chloe's hilarious note

I read it and promptly died from the cuteness.  I mean,  (Chlow rhymes with slow, FYI)  And, "Yes, I will let myself help her?"  The child slays me.

And I'm still chuckling about it.  That's true soul sunshine, right there.

What's brightening your life lately?