Thursday, December 20, 2007

5 Days and Counting...

Christmas is really really close and I suddenly have this nasty bug that has slowed down my entire procrastinating process. I still have two little girl stockings to make, the law and in-law parents gifts to finish, Christmas letters, half the neighbor treats, besides other minor here's and there's that have waited till the last minute to get tied up. Instead, I have spent the day on the couch watching Karate Kid III and something else before that that I can't even remember (obviously very memorable). Hoping for a big ol' perk up tomorrow. Or maybe tonight even. The early hours of the new day are always a great time to get things done.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mysterious Women

I've heard it said that men think there is always something women are hiding, making them mysterious. I've also heard the advice given to women that they should hold something back so that men think they are more fascinating. I don't know that I've specifically done that, but it's funny to me when suddenly I learn something about myself that I really didn't know before. So I guess without realizing it I am still a mystery to myself. How very... alluring. (kidding)

Today for instance. Here is something, or maybe a few things, I learned about myself today. By the way, I found myself waxing way so eloquently, so sappily, that the letters were almost dripping off the page. So this is the Cliff Notes.

I was reading a friend's blog and she mentioned something that really disturbed me. I'm going to keep that a mystery (bwa-ha-ha!), but it bothered me so much that without realizing it I was really down in mind and spirit for quite a while. When I get like that my soul needs uplifting. Amazing classical music (like Handel's Messiah and Beethoven's 9th) does a wonderful job of this. Like the music helps my spirit cry for a while and release all the built up negative. Yes, that last part was still very sappy.

Very funny, though. When I am almost in tears explaining the Hallelujah Chorus to my children, they gaze back with a look so clear you can almost read it on their faces, "Wow Mom, you really DO need to be committed."

I also decided that this same great classical music is MY cleaning music. There are others I have tried, but although I like the music very much, I usually end up dancing and singing more than cleaning, which defeats the purpose. I got a lot done today, probably because I was so involved in the music that I could almost forget I was cleaning. Super bonus!

While I was cleaning I contemplated the kitchen garbage can. Thank goodness I'm tall enough to that I don't regularly view it eye-to-eye, but down cleaning the floor it is much easier to get a good look at. I knew the lid was in need of some serious bleach and scrubbing, but hello, the front and sides were just as nasty! Do people throw food AT the garbage? I am baffled. I vow to solve this mystery. We homemakers have so few truly intellectually stimulating diversions in the cleaning department, I think this should fit the bill.

And finally, Carolyn. She took a 1 1/2 hour bath today and was in pure heaven. She was calling me at one point so I went in to see what she needed. The plug was down, but almost no bathwater.

Me: Are you all done?
Carolyn: No.
Me: Theeeeennnnn... where's all the water?
Carolyn: I let it out.
Me: How come?
Carolyn: I ruined it.
Me: (Not sure what to say, thinking "Biiiiiig uh oh," then)
Carolyn: I got it too soapy.
Me: Oh!
Carolyn: Can you get me more water?

See, she's only 3 and already knows how to string me along.

Blog Brownies

I learned about these from Holly's blog. Reading the recipe alone had me drooling, so I made them a few weeks ago for a family Christmas party. After tasting them, I told Jamie we should stop and buy some cookies and just eat these all ourselves. Seeing as how I am so kind, not only did we take them to the party, I made more a couple nights ago to take to the neighbors for our yearly Merry Christmas treat.

ENJOY! Oh, and where the recipe was posted they were called Grasshopper Brownies, but I'm choosing to call them:

Absolutely Divine Mint Brownies

2 boxes brownie mix

Mint Frosting:
4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup soft butter
2 Tbsp. water
1 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
4 drops green food coloring

Chocolate Topping:
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (I used some of the really dark chocolate ones)
3/4 cup butter
1 tsp. peppermint extract

1) To make the Brownies follow the recipe for "cake-like" brownies. Or if there isn't one, add 3 more eggs. (The recipe I used called for 3 eggs per box for the "cake-like," but I did 5 total. Just couldn't entirely make the "cake-like" jump.) Pour into a LARGE (I used my 20ish x 12ish), greased cookie sheet, bake and let cool completely

2) To make the mint frosting, combine powdered sugar, butter, water, peppermint extract and food coloring. Mix. Spread over cooled brownies and refrigerate until hard on top.

3) To make chocolate topping microwave chocolate chips and butter for 2 minutes. Stir until all chocolate chips are melted and the mixture is smooth. Add 1-2 tsp. peppermint extract. As soon as this mixture thickens and is no longer hot, spread over mint topping on brownies. Put back into the refrigerator until hard.

4) Enjoy! This batch makes A LOT.

A Sweet Family Home Evening

I was given this idea by my wonderful visiting teacher Karen. Sammy's favorite scripture story is Samuel the Lamanite, so we totally had to try it out when it was his turn for the lesson this past Monday.

We first talked about Samuel, and how he tried to teach but they kicked him out of the city, so then he climbed up and preached from the wall. We built the wall using Rice Krispie Treats, and used a Lego guy for Samuel. Then we read Samuel's prophecy of Christ's birth. Then we threw marshmellows at Samuel, while Jamie protected Samuel by deflecting marshmellows with a DVD case.

A very fine, memorable lesson. Thank you Karen!

Monday, December 17, 2007


Jamie just wandered out from the bedroom (he went in to crash 1 1/2 hours ago) and asked me if I already went to bed. I glanced at the clock, 12:15am. "Already went to bed?" Like I have already slept, and am back in my clothes (the same I wore yesterday nonetheless), and working away? I'm so confused. He went back to bed. I know I talk in my sleep, but it's rare that I walk AND talk in my sleep. Love you, Jamie. Thanks for checking on me. Even if it was only in your dreams. :)

Sunday, December 16, 2007


(First, refer to the last post...)

...and then your needle breaks, and you have the tip but then it goes FLYING to the floor, so then you look around a lot and can't see it, and fearing the baby will find it and eat it or that hubby will find it in his foot, you sweep the floor and do finally find it (whew!). Then you get a new needle and get back to work.

Yet, wow! Is this why they tell you to change needles every so often? This is going so smoothly, and even quieter.

I'm sure it would be quicker too, if I stopped turning around to the computer.


Isn't it funny how you put things off because you think they will take a long time or that they will be really hard, and then they don't and aren't?

Go figure.

(Don't ask questions at Christmas time.)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Playing Around

While I was adding the list of blogs I like to read earlier (there are many more, but these are some I thought others might be interested in), I realized yet again how boring looking my blog is. I'm feeling kind of odd (sort of migrainish or something) though I'm okay just sitting here mostly still, so I decided to do a little jazzing. Nothing too amazing yet, but I had fun making the heading. Can you tell the thingies hanging off the "Still Swinging" are swings? I am so clever. It definitely needs more 'fun stuff,' but we all know that will take more playing.

This month has been supremely busy so far. I feel like every December I spend so much time getting everyone else's Christmas ready that I can't hardly get ours ready. For "fun" I just counted - I've mailed out 30 orders that involved 61 bracelets. Adding the last week of November, it makes it 37 orders and 78 bracelets. I've got 3 orders (12 bracelets) that need to get made and out the door, and 7 other orders (12 bracelets) still waiting for payment or sizing info. This should all be slowing up soon, since people start getting worried about things being mailed in time, as they should.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

What's on YOUR Tree?

I could list off at least 37 things I should be doing right now, but being the avoider that I am, I'll do them later. Instead I took pictures of things on our Christmas tree and thought I would share them with the world. I love putting up the tree every year because it's so fun and so full of memories. As Melanie put it Saturday night while pulling out her ornaments, "It's like we're opening up a bunch of presents!" It's just cozy bringing out all those fun little things you only see once a year.

So here you have it, glimpses of the Hall Family Christmas Tree.

Starting at the top, a beautiful angel given to Melanie by her aunt. Melanie argues with me every year to put up the one we used to, one I made when I was probably 13 years old. Believe me, this is far FAR cuter.

Two things made from nuts - one, an adorable walnut baby carriage bought for Carolyn while my parents were in Germany...

...the other, made by my grandma for me a looooong time ago. She's holding a sign that says, "Happiness is a THUMB." Not to mention Scruffy the Tugboat and Yoda.

A boutonniere worn by Jamie's brother at our wedding, and...

...a decoration (I have two actually) from my parents' wedding.

A jar of Christmas Spirit

A really happy grill

Not only the shipping box from "A Christmas Story" (which talks by the way)...

...but the leg lamp as well.

A camel from Afghanistan right next to Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.

And last, though certainly not least, not one, not two, not three, but FOUR Elvis ornaments. (Would that be four Elvisi?) Can you see them all? One is mine, the other three are Sammy's. Shhhh, but if I remember right from after-Christmas shopping last year, I believe in less than a month there will be a FIFTH Elvis!

Maybe I just don't 'get it,' but I can't even imagine that the people with the 'perfect' Christmas trees enjoy theirs nearly as much.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Beg, Borrow, and Steal

I like to impress myself sometimes when I do something crafty (to me, the bracelets don't count), but it's not something I come by naturally. I just came upon two super awesome ideas that I have to share because they are so easy but could be SO FUN!

Simple Blank Books - My sewing machine is going to be straight stitching away making these! Thanks to kerflop for pointing to this one.

DIY Advent Calendar - What an easy fun idea! I got a fun advent calendar back in my teens from a friend. It had little cut out things to do each day, but the overall design while not difficult, would be a little painy to recreate. I like this far far better.

Acorn People - I don't know if I'm feeling quite crafty enough myself for these yet, but what a totally fun project to do with the kids.

Time to stop looking, I need to get to bed.

Next day update: I have GOT to make Melanie one of these boxes for Christmas! Perfect place to keep those little books or other fun treasures.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Family - Our Great Work

"Families mean work, but they are our great work--and we are not afraid of work."

Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President

Love that! Sister Beck's talk from the General Relief Society meeting has a lot of great quotes in it, but I really enjoy this one. It's funny in a way when people are disgruntled about the roles of wife or mother, like it's all supposed to be hearts and flowers. It's definitely a bonus when the people you care about say things like "I love you Mom!" and clean up their rooms without being told, but since the kids get together and decide when our yearly alottment of "Mommy Perks" happen so we just get enough to keep us going and THAT'S IT, then we go through a lot of droughts.

Somewhere in there a girl's got to find her own successes. Like you walk through the house and there's only one pair of someone's underwear in the hallway, or the kids start a pillow fight and after the warning "you guys better quit now because you know someone's going to end up bawling," no one does!

After the newborn six week crash course of, "Whoa! This isn't easy!" sometimes we quickly get lulled back into parental naivety. Then they start to crawl, then they start to walk, then two's hit, then another stage, and another. Sometimes with a break in between, sometimes daily, several TIMES a day, or several stages all fighting to be the biggest worst stage all at the same time! Ever wish you could go back to the ignorant bliss when you knew it all before you had children?

A scripture hit me like a ton of bricks one day. It had been a particularly rough day with one particularly rough kid. I flipped open the scriptures that night and my eyes fell on Doctrine and Covenants 82:3, "To him unto whom much is given much is required." Talk about a big dose of perspective. I HAVE been given much, and if I can trust Doctrine & Covenants 64:3, "Be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great," then that solidifies Sister Beck's statement even more. If I can just keep on working at laying that foundation, I can't wait to see who all my "much is givens" grow up to be.

But on to marriage. I pity the person that thinks marriage should be all play and no work, because it's highly likely they will be very unhappy in marriage. I'm not saying that work means always doing everything for your spouse, but it does mean picking up someone else's socks once in a while, helping out with the dishes, or biting back a snide remark all in the name of keeping the peace. An even better kind of work involves taking a moment to do something kind like walking a cup of hot chocolate down to the frozen basement where your husband is working, or bringing home a favorite ice cream and dishing it up for just the two of you to share. Maybe those things are even more important when you're having an "I love you but I'm not exactly sure if I like you" moment. A bit of kindness and consideration goes a long way with us imperfect beings. Remember, do this in the right spirit, purely to delight and not to show, "See, I'm the good one." Don't forget, "Be not weary in well-doing."

I have to amen another statement Sister Beck makes in regards to women and family. "When women embrace those roles with all their hearts, they are happy!" (exclamation point not added). Any time I get grumpy about the day-to-day I realize I'm focusing on me. "I don't even have time to ________," (insert take a shower, make anything but mac 'n cheese, blog, etc.) or "I just wish I could have ___ minutes of peace!" Too bad the number-of-years-old = number-of-time-out-minutes formula doesn't apply when you're a mother, but selfishness never was happiness. Truly, I am never more happy than when I forget myself and give my very best to my family. Not my leftovers, but my very best.

We are soooo not perfect. I lose my cool, my house is never clean, my husband says things like man b... nevermind, I'm not even going to say it, but I tried to give him that "Oh brother I can't believe you said that" look but I lost it and laughed instead. A lot. So yah, not perfect. But I think we're going in the right direction. As long as he keeps bringing me ice cream and I keep on working.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Chocoholics Rejoice!

We got a phone call last night from my mom. She was shopping at Sam's Club, and wanted to find out the name of the amazing truffles we got last year as a gift, Petit Tresors Belgian Truffles. Hip hip hoory, Sam's Club has them again this year! We didn't find out where they came from last year until it was too late to get more.

If you love dark chocolate, WOW. Don't walk, run, and buy extras!

We celebrated the news by finishing off the last melted bit that we had from last year.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Feed vs. Inspire

Since Adam had been through 5 years of school when we decided to homeschool, the school way of 'education' was a lot more ingrained in him than the rest of the kids. The day school started, he parked himself at the kitchen table and said, "What are we learning today?" "What do you want to learn about?" I asked. "I don't know," he replied.

Thereafter came a discussion of how homeschool is different than going to school. They don't show up for me to feed them new knowledge every day, the educational meal being entirely decided for them. A lot of what they would like to learn about is up to them, and I am delighted to help them along that process. I'm happy to introduce topics, new flavors if you will (to keep the metaphor going), but if interest isn't there, we'll put it away until another time.

I'm sure this idea is entirely baffling to many, and truth told, several months back I was highly skeptical of this approach myself. The more I've learned and the more I've thought about my own education, I see this as at least another way to go about things. Superior? Could quite possibly be.

For instance, I've always done very well at English, grammar, and the like. It all came very easy to me, and I enjoyed it. I was also introduced to computers at an early age by my dad. They were always available in our home, and he had lessons in computer programming available to use if we would like (well, we were told that to play we had to give equal time to the learning, and yes, there was a time log). Compared to other kids I went to school with, anything computers also came very easily, thanks to the many opportunities at home. Fast forward to my college degree, and though it took some discovering on my part, I ended up majoring in Techincal Writing, which is basically English and computers. You know what they say, hindsight is 20/20.

I had been fed many other things through my years at school - biology, geometry, physics, calculus - some which has stuck, others, not so much. I mentioned a portion of my history education in my last post, but besides those two high school classes I had been taught history from elementary school to college. With all that teaching it stands to reason that I should have done much better than 65% on that test. I wasn't a poor student - through all my junior high and high school years I had a 3.9 GPA and if I remember right I received an A in my college American History class. But the fact remains that I was being fed, not inspired. Not that the information wasn't interesting, but I had apparently learned the fine art of learning to the test, then clearing space for the next bout of information. No time to dig for more depth and understanding. Sad how it all works, isn't it? And yet, we keep doing it.

Whether the kids and I homeschool to the end or for just a year or two, the biggest thing I want my children to learn is that education is their responsibility and life-long. If we wait to be fed, more often than not we'll end up with not enough or of a variety that doesn't sustain.

I still feel like we're going through the deschooling process, but starting to become more... something. (Not sure if structured is the word I want to use.) I'm still learning about homeschooling myself, so I'm glad we haven't jumped too quickly into anything, but so far it's been very cool. We find an interest and run with it. For instance, last Wednesday we thought we would do some science with hot and cold water. I introduced it using the freezer, showing how the cold air goes down when we open it, but steam of course, rises. Cool, but let's do more. I remembered an experiement I had seen at some point during my education with red hot water and blue cold water, showing how when the hot starts on the bottom the two mix very quickly, but when the hot is on top they stay separate for a very long time. They were totally wowed. (Even the Star Wars dudes had to come in to check it out - see the pic.) That led us to try similar experiments with water the same temp, but some with salt and some regular, and even Melanie hypothesized that the salt water should be on the bottom to keep them separate longer based on the science we learned from the other experiments. And from there we made salt volcanoes which applies the same science in an even different and cooler way. I should have counted how many times we refilled the salt shaker they enjoyed that one so much.

Sammy, by his very nature, was never so ingrained in the system even though he had been there for 4 years. Thank goodness his curiosity wasn't lessened by the methods, especially since I think his brand of creativity would suffer more from it. Or maybe it's that his teachers would suffer more from trying to break him down, LOL.

Right now on his own Adam is learning about baseball and hunting, and I'm good with that because one, he's a MANIAC when it comes to reading about that stuff so he's learning good study skills, and two, we go in other directions as well so he's not left entirely to his own devices. In our history reading he's realizing how dumbed down it is at school because the Founding Fathers mention God and religion so much they can't even be quoted. Bummer, because they've got a lot of great advice regarding our country.

I have to keep wondering where this all will take us. I'm looking forward to the 20/20 backview someday.

P.S. Do note, this is the first picture I've included on my blog. It is a special, special day. :)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Slacker Update, and Lots of Misc

Sorry to all those waiting to hear, Erin started walking on her foot two evenings after the sliding incident. Whew! She is still kind of wobbly and seems to favor it sometimes. Makes me worry that there is something going on there still, but it could just be that she's an unsteady 13 month old.

The kids and I have been studying early American history which is extremely interesting. Last week we watched "Johnny Tremain." Adam had been asking about the Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre, and I knew it would be a great introduction of the time. We've done some other reading and discussing since then. It's fun answering their questions and helping them learn more about it. I'm looking toward reading a lot more about it on my own, too.

President Samuelson encouraged all students at BYU to study the Constitution this year. You can read more about that here. Cool to see the whole school united in learning about it.

I took this quiz yesterday and did horribly. I beat the students by far, but still only got 65%. Shows how much sunk in from my AP American History and AP Government classes! I vow to improve.

We watched "Meet the Robinson's" last night. Very fun movie with a lot of great lessons. I highly recommend it. I have to share this quote shown at the end of the movie:

Around here, however, we don't look backward very long.

We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious... And curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

-- Walt Disney

I love following the curiosities of my children. I consider myself curious as well, but it's so much more fun to have someone to be curious with. Keep moving forward!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Amish Don't Know What They're Missing

I overheard someone say that today while waiting for Erin to get her leg x-rayed.

The kids and I were at the park this morning with some neighbors, and Melanie took Erin for a trip down one of the slides. They got to the bottom and Erin started crying a LOT. I walked over to get her, brought her back to the park bench, and tried to console her, but she was very upset. She finally settled down and cuddled up with me and her blankie and thumb. I was surprised that she cuddled so much and so long, until about 45 or so mintues later she acted like she wanted to get down... then quickly changed her mine. I quickly realized something was not right. I tried to get her to stand, but she wouldn't put any weight on her left leg. Uh oh.

I suddenly had visions of my then 1 year old sister in a cast to the top of her thigh, after she decided to play rodeo on the neighbors dog and got bucked off. Okay, okay, our brother and I put her on the dog, she didn't get bucked she fell, but she landed on the grass - the grass! But just going down the slide couldn't be too much worse.

But enough of that. Long story short, I left the kids at the park with a neighbor, raced home and got an appointment with a doc. X-rays didn't show a break, but he wants me to keep an eye on it because at her age something small could be hard to tell on an x-ray for a few days.

And the comment about the Amish? That was regarding how cool technology is nowadays, and he was right. The x-ray was available almost instantaneously. After it was done, we walked right back to the doctor's office downstairs, he came in the room, pulled the x-rays up on the screen, and could lighten and darken them to help check things out easier. Pretty darn amazing!

I'll be sure to let you know how things go with the baby. Poor little thing. Tonight she would crawl around, but wouldn't walk. She would stand, but you can tell she's doing it in such a way to not put pressure on the leg.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Review: Clearing Your Clutter with Feng Shui

If you read past posts of mine, you know keeping the house clean is a real issue for me. I've tried so many systems and schedules, till I realized one day that it was all the 'stuff' that was killing me and I needed to get rid of more 'stuff' before I could even start to feel ahead. Unfortunately, it is deeply engrained in my genes to hold tightly to whatever enters my home. While opening wedding presents my mom told me I should save the paper and bows. I'm not sure where the paper is, but I still haven't been able to toss that box of bows! Weeded it down, but many still there ("If I ever wrap a present ahead of time, I could dig through the box for a nice bow to top it off!").

Anyway, wandering through the library at the end of October I noticed this book on the shelf and thought what the heck, I'm always looking for good ideas. I knew nothing about feng shui (not entirely sure I know much more now) but I figured I would take that with a grain of salt and go digging for the good clearing clutter ideas.

What a find! Since I've been reading this I've found myself tossing and organizing like crazy. If I didn't have so many things to do besides, I could truly "ninja through [my] home like a white tornado, decluttering with glee" as Ms. Kingston mentions at one point in her book. As it stands, I'm just part-time ninja, or when-I-get-the-chance ninja, though still doing it with glee.

Here are some of her other words of wisdom as a record for myself, if nothing else:

"[When you hold on to clutter] you tend to look back rather than forward in your life... You have to release the past to create a better tomorrow."

"After clutter clearing you are likely to surprise yourself by wanting to do things you have put off for a long time."

"Write a list of all the things you would love to do if only your clutter were sorted, and let this be the inspiration for you to get on with it."

"Keeping things 'just in case' indicates a lack of trust in the future... The more you can learn to trust that life will take care of you, the more life will take care of you."

"Life is constant change. So when something comes into your life, enjoy it, use it well, and when it is time, let it go. It is that simple. Just because you own something, it doesn't mean that you have to keep it forever. You are just a temporary custodian of many things as they pass through your life."

"Get in the habit of leaving a trail of discarded clutter in your wake, and start to think of it as a sign of progression!"

"Everything you are holding on to through fear is blocking you having more love in your life; clearing it allows more love to start pouring in. Fear stops you from being who you truly are and doing what you came here to do; clutter clearing brings you greater clarity about your life purpose... Letting go of clutter leaves you free to be you, which is the greatest gift you can ever give yourself."

On books, "Your books symbolically represent your ideas and beliefs... Learn to let your books go when it is time." Besides all the obvious ones like cookbooks you don't use and textbooks you haven't used for years, "There are books that inspired you deeply years ago but whose concepts are now so much a part of you that you no longer need to read them anymore. Aim to end up with a collection of books that represents you as you are today and the intended 'you' of tomorrow."

"Sit down and make a list of the many things [you] want to do in [your] life that [you aren't] allowing [yourself] to do because of unfinished jobs."

"Working with a clear desk increases productivity, creativity, and job satisfaction... It is psychologically far more uplifting to start with a clear desk than with mounds of paperwork, which makes you feel defeated before you even start."

She goes a bit into physical, emotional, and spiritual clutter as well, but I think I'm doing okay there, with a big yikes at her discussion on colon cleansing (I'll stick with my basement, thanks). All the advice has been motivating so far. So much to do, so little time.


One thing I learned through high school and college English classes (not necessarily taught there, but learned through) is that it is nice to get your thoughts down about things and let them ferment for a while. Then when you go back, you can look at them with fresh eyes and see where things are lacking and/or need more explanation.

I have a few posts fermenting.

Seeing as how I'm a procrastinator, even a day of fermenting time was a blessing during school. This is nice to let things just sit as long as they need. The only problem with not having a deadline is forgetting they are there.

I never fancied myself a poet, but lately here and there I've had bits of poems jump into my head. How odd is that? One is about feet of all things. I believe that one day they'll appear on here (the poems, not the feet).

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Do You Have Your Own Too?

It had been one of those days. You know, one of THOSE days. The light fixtures were barely intact from the kids bouncing off the walls. Every request/plea/beg fell on deaf ears. I headed numbly downstairs to check on the laundry, but flopped down on the steps almost to the bottom. And just sat. And stared. Very blankly. After a time I realized no one had followed me and no one was looking for me, so I kept sitting, enjoying the alone-ness of it.

I looked down and saw a book in my hand that for whatever reason I had grabbed on my way downstairs, called "You Can Childproof Your Home, but They'll Still Get In" (see it
). My mother had given it to me for Christmas several months before but I had yet to crack it open. So I did. In the introduction I found:

Child development professionals categorize children into two main groups:

(A) Naturally compliant, obedient, well-mannered children
(B) Yours

"How did he know?" I thought sarcastically. "Maybe he sat behind us at church sometime. Or followed us through the grocery store." I read on.

The implication is rather obvious. If you are blessed with naturally compliant, obedient, well-mannered children, they were accidentally switched at the hospital. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. In a sense, you could look at it as though you won the lottery, and someone else even bought your ticket for you.

Most parents, however, end up with their own children. But don't panic quite yet. Bringing your own children home from the hospital doesn't mean they are destined to be incompliant, disobedient, and ill-mannered, but it does mean that you have to devote massive amounts of time and energy to avoid that outcome. Left to themselves, your children have a natural propensity to be self-centered, pugnacious, and ill-tempered and, if they are boys, wear oversized trousers with enough denim to fashion a Coleman tent.

This book is for all the parents who ended up with their own kids. It is not a professional parenting manual, as I am not a professional. I am just a dad. But I hope that you will find some insight and some helpful tips in my observations, reflections, ruminations, grousings, mutterings, stunned exclamations, incredulous questions, inane outbursts, bulging neck arteries, apologies, failures, and occasional successes.

By the time I finished I felt far less alone, yet the kids still hadn't found me.

I realized I KNOW families who have some of those switched kids. They are almost eerily well-behaved. "Stay here with me, sweetheart." And they DO! I've had glimpses of that, but never the real thing. If they have to be switched to get it, do I want it? Hmmm....

The rest of the book is also worthwhile reading, but this introduction stuck with me longer than anything else. It taught another lesson I didn't expect - that a good laugh certainly goes a long way to keep mom sane.

And for the record, I'm very glad I have my own. My own insanity-inducing, mother-torturing children, but MY children.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ahhhh, the Memories

Jamie's sister's husband Bobby told Adam that if he takes and passes a hunter's safety course he will take him hunting with him. Of course Adam has become even more hunting obsessed than he already was. We're not sure where he got this hunting gene, but it arrived somehow. Maybe something extra in the prenatal vitamins the doc preferred back that time around?

He loves to read about elk and deer, plays this Cabela's Big Game Hunter game, checks out hunting videos from the library, and can make the most amazing elk calls.

Since the invitation to go hunting, he and his friend have started a 'hunting club.' They pack all kinds of odd gear into their backpacks and either head to the backyard or the park to practice their stalking and hunting skills. Today it was the backyard. It was nice and quiet inside, so of course my trouble alarm went crazy. Sammy, Melanie, and Carolyn were all off playing at neighbor's houses. I glance in the front yard - bikes and scooters, no Adam or friends. I glance in the backyard - hmmmm... backpacks by the trees. All the signs point to them being here. I step out onto the deck and still don't see anything. Then, out pops a head from some sparse bushes and lilac greens in the far corner of the yard. "What do you want?" (I heckle the friends, they heckle me.)

"Oh! Just checking to see if you guys were out here."

Knowing that the friend was out hiding, I knew then where Adam was - doing the same in the raspberry patch. I step back inside and watch for a minute. Yep, saw him move a bit.

A bit later I hear elk calls coming from the backyard.

"Dang he's good," I thought.

They were having so much fun it made me want to play too. From inside the house I started doing my horrible version of an elk bugle back. I wasn't close enough to hear, but I'm sure they were significantly amused at my attempt. It worked though - the elk called back to me! Okay, so it was just the boys, but still. We called back and forth for a while, then I had more fun up my sleeve. I grabbed a walking stick one of the kids left hanging out in the kitchen and started knocking it around on a kitchen chair and the table, attempting to sound like knocking antlers around. (See? I've learned a few tricks from Adam's hunting videos.) Success again! The elk responded.

This went on for a while before I decided that Jamie probably would appreciate a clean up attempt before he gets home. Without the calling from inside the house, the calling outside escalated then died off.

On days like this I just have to wonder what kind of odd memories I'm giving my children. I'm sure the neighbors wonder too.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

To Impress You All Even More

It's funny to hear that people actually read this. Not too many, but still, just funny. I've received a few, "Don't you need to settle down?" comments after the last post. Well, keep watching and see how many of those actually end up on the 'finished' list. So little time, so many things that use up that time.

Last night I started reading another, called The Book of Mormon: A Pattern for Parenting. I'm enjoying it so far.

And two more soon to be added to the 'now reading' list:

Long Way to Chicago - This month's book group book.

One I put on hold just tonight that I learned about from a neighbor, Parenting the Ephraim's Child. Here's a brief excerpt from the description. "Like those of the tribe of Ephraim, an Ephraim’s Child has great determination, energy, and a headstrong will. Ephraim’s Children are also often high maintenance, emotional, controlling, and aggravating. What other sources don’t tell you is that these children are a special and covenant people." It talks about different characteristics of these children, and shows how "each is actually a strength in need of refinement" and "demonstrate[s] how these qualities can be valuable tools in the Lord’s hands." I'm excited to read it.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Am I Out of Control or WHAT?

I was going to update the 'Books I'm Reading' section, and maybe I still will, but when I stepped back to look at all that I'm reading I decided this deserves it's on listing. Besides, since homeschooling officially began, my writing opportunities have definitely dropped in frequency, so you just have to take what you can get. And actually, I started writing this, had no time to finish, and now I've finished some that I had sitting here. Hate that! So I've got to include some of the recently reads.

Currently Reading:

Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly - Just started this one earlier today. It's by the author of "Ella Enchanted." I happened upon it in the non-fiction children's section of the library during our last visit and thought it looked interesting. I've always wanted to be an author, but the whole fiction thing is beyond me.

The Candy Shop War - Jamie and I are reading this with the boys. Great story by the author of Fablehaven, Brandon Mull. I can't believe this guy sleeps at night for all the cool stories in his head. I heard the movie rights for this have been sold.

Raising Up a Family to the Lord - I've got this as a talk on tape and love it. Not too far in, but I'm hoping this builds more on the same.

Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner - I learned about this one after being told Sammy is "very right-brained." Definitely interesting.

Smart Moves: Why Learning is not All in Your Head - Another one I'm reading for Sammy. I first heard about something called "Brain Gym," a concept of using exercises and stretches to turn on areas of your brain. From all that I gather, for "Smart Moves" those ideas were used and explained more, and furthered the concept. Not too far in.

Peter and the Shadow Thieves - We are listening to this on in the car right now. We've already listened to the first, Peter and the Starcatchers. Fun stories! Jim Dale (who read the Harry Potter series) recorded these ones as well.

And of all things...

Simplify: A Guide to Caring for the Soul - Simplify? Have you seen this list alone?? :) This isn't just on tossing things. It's also on being true to ourselves, kind to ourselves, and letting go (among even more things). I'm doing my best. We've all got to reach for something, eh?

Recently Read:

Goose Girl and Princess Academy - Wow, wow, wow. I am so amazed with Shannon Hale's writing. Great female characters, exciting story lines. I have myself on the list of about everything else of hers at the library.

The Read-Aloud Handbook - It was partially because of this one that I didn't finish writing this sooner. Had to finish it for this month's book group, especially since I was presenting it. Great motivator to read to your kids!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I really don't intend to devote my entire blog to Carolyn, but she always has something up her sleeve to make me take notice. Usually it is her cuteness, her big chocolate brown eyes, freckles, and sweet grin, knowing if she turns on the charm she can weasel anything out of me. Today it was an earwig.

I was checking my e-mail a bit ago when she walked up and says, "Mommy, theah's something in ah house." (Sorry, I just have to try to write the cute way she talks. Translation: "Mommy, there's something in our house.") I turned to ask, "What is?", but before I can even take a breath to get it out I see an earwig crawling up her arm while she tries to keep it somewhat under control, but if you know anything about earwigs they are kind of fast and not very controllable. Then I took a really BIG breath (i.e. gasp!), and remembering an experience when my cousin, then about 2, walked in to his mother carrying a snakeskin very happily until his mother, my aunt, screamed and reacted very frightened, so he suddenly realized that it must be something he should be scared of too and would no longer touch it or get near it, even though we all know a snakeskin is perfectly harmless unless your 2 year old happens to wander in the house with one catching you totally off guard... So yah, that memory flashed through my mind and I just screamed inside instead of outloud and drawing on depths of calmness and using a really fake calm voice I said, "Oh look honey! You found an earwig! Doesn't he look neat?" By then he had succeeded in falling off her arm and was again running around on the floor, so again fakely calm, not wanting him to run under anything but again not wanting to make her afraid of it by freaking out or just squashing it (after all, she is kind of a bug lover) I said, "Let's get a nice big piece of paper and help him go back outside!"

I quickly got him to crawl on the paper, then headed for the back sliding glass door, all the while flipping and turning the paper so he wouldn't crawl off or crawl on ME, heaven forbid, because then the scream would most assuredly escape. Unfortunately, the blinds and door were closed, and I had to flip/turn the paper with one hand and scramble for the blind cord and door handle with the other, eyes always on the earwig. I finally got the door opened and went to fling him outside just as he succeeded in escaping the paper. He was back to the floor and on the run. Before I could get my paper to him again, Carolyn just reached on down, picked him up, struggled with him for a couple seconds while he tried to get away, then very calmly set him down outside. "Quick Mom! Close the doh-ah (door) so he can't get in again!" Whew! Our home is again safe, thanks to the bravery of my 3 year old, my knight in shining armor. Only, she was wearing a pink ballet outfit.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Carolyn Sue

"Charlotte's Web" is playing on the TV. Carolyn and I are sharing a pillow on the floor. She's watching. I'm reading.

Giggles erupt next to me while Wilbur gets a bath, then "Mom, I'm gonna get a pig like that."

"You are? What are you going to name him?"

"Wilbur!" More giggles.

She has quite the imaginary menagerie - a horse named Melango, a monkey named Titi (every time we go to the zoo she points him out and asks when we are going to get him), a dog named Mimi, and just recently, a bunny and a cat. So now I guess we can add a pig to that.

"Will your pig get scared of lightning too, like Wilbur?"

"No, he will sleep in the house with me."

"Oooooh, of course."

Always in her sweet little 3-year-old world, happy and full of life, completely heart-broken and even almost surprised when someone or something mistreats her. Like she can't believe anything bad could enter her fairy land.

"Can I have some hot chocolate milk?"

"Can I hold your pig when you get it?"


"Okay, let's go get some."

She is happy to be who she is, not realizing there is any other person to be. And I am delighted to be a part of her world.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A Drippy Walk

We are just one big adventure after another. Today's was much less eventful, though.

While sharing yesterday's adventure with some friends in the neighborhood, one of them asked if we had seen a remote control airplane, since her husband had been flying one, it headed off that direction, and never returned. Lo and behold, I HAD seen what looked like the tail end of an airplane but it was on the other side of the swampy so I didn't investigate.

So this morning I rounded up the kids to see if we could see if that was the airplane. Heading out we realized it was a little drizzly outside, but after a 4-1 vote (after all, Adam is a baseball player and they are afraid of rain) we decided to go for it. We stopped by Jason's to see if he wanted to go on a "drippy walk" with us.

It was actually quite nice and refreshing. They baby didn't even mind it a bit, packed along in the baby front pack. Rocks are so pretty when they are wet! Everything smelled fresh and clean. Here and there it got a bit "drippier," but never too awful. We even visited the spot where Melanie took her plunge. I need to remember the camera next time we head over there!

Sometimes I think I'm a big lunatic for attempting the ideas I come up with (i.e. yesterday), but today it was well worth it.

Oh, we never did find any sign of what I thought could have been the airplane, but there was also a more noticeable washer and dryer missing, so maybe another clean up crew went through.

Our 100 Year of Scouting Adventure

Happy 100 Years of Scouting today! Well yesterday, August 1st.

In our BSA council they've been advertising today as World-Wide Do a Good Turn Day. There is a group of scoutss that camped on Brownsea Island that as the sun rose this morning, renewed their committment to scouting and did a good turn.

Being the good scout that I AM, I rounded up the two cub scouts that live in my house (Adam and Sammy), and my three little girl cub scout wanna-be's (Melanie, Carolyn, and of course Erin) to go do a good turn. But I cannot stop there, as it is born within me to want to help other people have great scouting experiences as well. I called Adam's friend (Jason) and Sammy's friend (Cody) to see if they wanted to come along. Jason did, Cody didn't, but Cody's sister, Elizabeth, who is Adam's age, did want to. I knew it would be a bit of a challenge to keep everyone together and 'friendly,' but with promised rewards I knew we could do it.

We wanted to go clean up along a path near our neighborhood that I've heard is pretty trash-filled. It used to be a train track, but it hasn't been used as such for years so last year the city paved a nice walking/bike path with dirt along each side. We set out with lots of bags and water. Not very far into it, we realized some other good turners had been along not necessarily today but at some point previous to us, as there really wasn't that much to be found. Still, there were things here and there and it was a nice walk. Sammy even found an old railroad spike.

The kids kept telling me there were swampy areas ahead with lots of junk in them, and when we made it to them, yah, lots of pop cans and water bottles tossed in. The other good turners must have seen the swampyness as a challenge, but not us! We found some big sticks and went fishing. At least the swamps weren't too big - at the widest point maybe 4 feet wide, and a foot deep tops and overgrown with trees and bushes around. For quite a while the swamp runs along both sides of the path, with the path raised above it about a foot. Carolyn found a little toy frog at one point she wanted to toss in the trash, but I told her it was okay to leave it since some little kid probably left it there as a friend for the frogs that live there. As she was replacing it I heard a soft kind of, "Uh...!" I didn't turn at first, until my brain registered a half-panickyishness (did you know I like to make up words?) to it. I was surprised to see Melanie's bike tire laying down and sticking out of part of the swamp and overgrowth - can't see Melanie, and no more noises. I quickly got over to it, and could see that somehow Melanie had driven off the path and her bike took her right down into the slime. She still wasn't saying anything, but was struggling on top of the bike to get up and out of the mess. Thank goodness she was okay, but pretty covered in mud and other yummy stuff. I am still amazed that there were no tears involved.

After rounding up Adam and Jason, who had of course chosen right then to ride way ahead of us all, I got all the good turners turned back around for an immediate trek home and a big clean up.

So there's our Scouting Commemoration Adventure. Yes, I took pictures after we got home.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Drooling on the Keyboard

*Fellow Chocoholics! - I've had a lot of people finding my blog while searching for these truffles. Read this update, it might help you find some!*

I've got this empty box sitting in front of me, and I just spent about 10 minutes digging for info on where I can find more to fill it. The name on the box is "Petit Tresors Belgian Truffles - Cocoa Dusted Truffles, Imported from Belgium." The epitome of divine. 2.2 lbs of heaven in a box. I am not the only one who feels this way. While looking I found this from someone else: "Obscene, melt in your mouth, unparalleled for the price decadence. Get some, eat them, want for nothing again as long as you live...or until they run out."

How they came to live at our home for a time is interesting. About 9 months ago a scouter friend of ours talked Jamie and I into filling out an application for the District Award of Merit for the other. I thought it was pretty inconvenient at the time, since when he first asked me I had a baby less than a week old, but I recalled as many of Jamie's scouting accomplishments as I could and turned it in. And unknown to me, Jamie did as well for me. A few days after turning them in we each heard the other had been chosen to receive the award, and we each set about sneakily getting the other to attend the district awards dinner where they would be presented. We were each even sly enough to come up with ways to get both of our parents there. Amazingly enough, it remained a secret that we were BOTH getting the award (to us at least), and we were both equally surprised. They read my information first and I quickly realized what had been plotted. We went through a line of hand shaking, were seated on the stage, and after a few lines of the next application Jamie realized he had been had as well.

It was a real honor to receive the award, and cool that we both received it the same night, but here's what I don't get. The wives of the recipients received a lovely bouquet of flowers, the husbands of the recipients received nothing other than this HUGE box of Belgian truffles. WHAT?!? Seeing as how I benefitted on both sides I guess I can't complain too much, but any woman I know would have been far happier with the chocolate than the flowers. Not that flowers aren't nice, but flowers die in days. Eight months later, and we still have some of the truffles around. Hello, women NEED chocolate. Don't people know that by now??? And of course he looooves to hold it over my head that they are his, and especially right after getting them he thought it was hilarious to tell me to "go smell your flowers" while he enjoyed his chocolate. My pitiful attempts to let him smell them if he shared was the weakest trade I've ever heard. Thank goodness he loves me.

It actually contained two separate packages, so we slowly enjoyed the first, and have been hording away the second until a couple of days ago when I talked Jamie in to opening them (after all, they are HIS). Unfortunately, we turned off our air conditioner during a trip away for a week in April, the house got quite warm during that time, and now we pretty much have one giant truffle, no longer really cocoa dusted. Disappointing in that respect, but still luxurious.

And yet I am concerned. Eventually this package too will be gone, and I have no idea where I can get more. There is a web address on the package, but it doesn't work. I hear this past year they were sold at Sam's Club for something like $10, which take my word for it, $10 is a STEAL for these things. I saw some on eBay around Christmas but stupidly kept looking for them locally instead of just buying. Rest assured this search is not over. It may even become my life's quest - to find the ellusive Petit Tresors Cocoa Dusted Belgian Truffles. If I find them I will share it with the world. If you find them, please pass it on and I will be forever in your debt.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Few Creative Moments Out of the Basement

Jamie (my husband) had me listen to a talk recently on being creative. I'll have to get the source from him, but it was a creative writing instructor at BYU if I remember right. It focused on writing, but the principles applied to probably any creative outlet. It mentioned taking time to be creative in your chosen area every day, and I thought, Gosh, I should be writing in my blog every day. I've wanted to be a writer since elementary school, so I guess I should keep that in practice. This blogging thing is fun, but one of my friends put the pressure on me. After reading my first two posts she called and said, "Those are so funny! You really need to keep writing and keep it funny." There you have it, instant writer's block. Thanks Leslie!

As you can probably tell from the cleaning ideas, I have definite issues with that. Between keeping on top of things, staying halfway organized, and (yikes!) tossing tossing tossing, it's been a big weight on me and something I am always trying to be better at an overcome.

I took 2 hours each of the last 2 nights and watched Masterpiece Theather "Anna Karenina." I've been wanting to read the book, saw the video at the library, and thought, what the heck, at least I can get the storyline before I dive into the HUGE book. Very disturbing story actually, now I'm debating whether to read it or not. There was a great quote in the movie that I assume is also in the book, something to the effect of, "Why do women take on extra duties when they can't handle the ones they've already got?" In the movie Anna's husband was slyly referring to her adulterous relationship, but since I'm the kind of person that loves to take on anything extra to avoid household duties it stabbed me to the core.

Still, I've been making some big leaps and bounds this week. Jamie has been at scout camp all week and I've been attacking the box-filled basement, as it has been threatening to kidnap one of the children. I've been doing some major tossing and lots of organizing, and IT FEELS GREAT! With as well as things are going, I'm expecting the basement to look pretty darn good.

I've spent a lot of thought and prayer on my homemaking issues. Maybe it's one of those things that the time has to be right, because over the past several months I've really felt some attitude changes. I was totally shocked when I realized it was my birthday, I was doing the dishes (one of my least favorite things), and actually didn't mind and was (shhhh!) ALMOST enjoying it. I couldn't really admit it if I was, could I? But it IS nice to walk up to an empty sink rather than an overflowing one.

Off to make dinner so I can dive back into the basement.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Just Wanted to Share

I came upon this quote earlier and wanted to pass it on:

"I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, May 25, 2007

Time for Confessions...

Isn't the basic purpose of a blog to divulge your deepest and darkest for the world to see, because... because... well, no one really knows why? Seeing as how I am now officially a blogger, I must throw all feelings of self-preservation aside, and confess my shortcomings. So here goes.

I am not a housekeeper.

There are so many amazing talents in the world, but cleaning the house is just not mine. Give me a pack of cub scouts and I'll have them eating out of my hand, ask me to speak in front of a room of people and I'll be fine, but my dirty kitchen? Messy bedrooms? A box-filled basement? YIKES!

It's not that I haven't tried. After all, they say most talents aren't just 'born' they are learned. I've read books, tried routines, made the notecards, yet still, here I am.

I'm actually a wealth of great cleaning information because I HAVE tried so much. As a matter of fact, here are some fabulous tips on making cleaning fun, since for me at least, it just isn't fun.

o Clean in the buff. So you want help cleaning, right? Just kidding, just kidding. But I AM serious about the jaybird thing. How fun is cleaning your shower? NOT. I've ruined a couple favorite shirts thanks to bathtub/shower clean-up. You wait a long time between cleanings and it's a workout and a half to get tidy again. We all like long showers anyway, so take one of those poufy shower things you've got hanging around but never use on yourself, squirt some of your body soap on it (hey, soap is soap), and go to town on the shower. You can do a lot or a little, but it's easy to make a difference. A little every day and it always looks clean!

o Do one thing each day that you won't have to do again for a LONG time. This is a good one when I remember to do it. Why? Because SO MUCH of the blah comes because we are doing the same things over and over and over again. Clean the nasties off your washing machine (how something that cleans things gets so dirty, I will never know), and it will last a good few months before you notice it's looking nasty again. Plus it is so clean it *smiles* at you every time you head for it. I did this a few months back and was shocked for the first week or two every time I went down there, the darn thing was so WHITE. Needs to be done again, I noticed the other day it was frowning at me. But there lies the fun - one thing a day that you won't have to do again tomorrow? Priceless!

o Different methods tell you to reward yourself for the work you do. I, for one, don't have the self-control to wait till I'm done. So I was thinking the other day that I need to hide mommy's special treats in areas that I need to clean. Not the kid trick of actually hiding them through the room to find as they clean, but we all already hide the really good treats from the kids, so let's put more thought into our hiding. Put the Reisen chocolates in your bedroom since you (I) never clean in there, take the Dove Dark Chocolate to the laundry room to 'find' while you're tossing in a load, etc. etc. I have actually not tried this one since I only thought of it a few days ago, but if I had any kind of dark chocolate calling me I would be sure to come, some dirty work behind it or not.

o Point rewards. Another I just thought of, kinda like weight watchers. I am such a competitive person, that regardless of whether or not I was competing again neighbors or online friends and whether there were actual prizes or not, this could definitely be fun. Vacuum the floor, 10 points. Clean behind the toilet, at least 25. You get the picture. Even if you're only competing against yourself to beat your best, I can see this being fun.

o Leave No Trace. I'm a scouter. One of the principles we teach our scouts is that when we're out and about, we Leave No Trace. Leave your area as good as or better than you found it. I used this as a cleaning principle for a while with myself and it was a pretty good game. As soon as breakfast was done I wooshed around the kitchen sweeping and swiping so if someone walked into the house they would wonder to themselves, "Wow, do these people even eat?" And yes, I imagined to myself that they did, and they were always amazed. Therein lies another confession.

O Sometimes the clean house IS the reward. I LOVE sleeping in soft clean wonderful smelling sheets. When I realized this, I wanted to be sure I washed them every Saturday not so they were clean, but to pamper myself. Look around for other ways cleaning your house helps you feel pampered. I would love to hear about them.

Well, I can't share all my super secrets in one message, if for no other reason than my house is calling. But one final thought. I know a few people that can't handle a thing out of place. The kids play with one thing and put it away or it's time out. They pull out the train track, walk back to the bedroom to get their trains, and the track is put away. Is that HOME? Untidy though it may be, my kids can play and bring their friends over, and I'm not going to harp when they have a little too much 'fun.' My wonderful grandmother taught me something I now live by: My house is clean enough to be healthy, dirty enough to be happy. 'Nuff said.

So there's my confession. Don't we all feel better?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Still Swinging...

First off, I guess I ought to explain the name behind all this.

I woke up one day with a super desire to GET THINGS DONE. You know the drill, race like mad to get things tidy after a not-so-tidy few days, involving lots of PBS and DVDs for the kids. I dropped my oldest three kids off to school, and before I could even make it back inside with my 3 year old and 5 month old daughters, the 3 year old was BEGGING and BEGGING to go in the back and swing. This girl has been an expert swinger before she turned 2 and just loves to do it. Thinking of all the things I needed to do inside, I gave in to her persistence, wondering how long I would have to swing with her before I could get back to what I needed to do.

Swinging, swinging for a couple minutes.

"Honey, mommy needs to go wash the dishes."
"Nooooooo! You need to suhwing with me!"
"Okay, okay"

Swinging, swinging.

"Hey look! There are some birds in the tree. Can you count them?"

We started watching the birds fly from tree to tree, counting every time they stopped again.

"Mommy, did you he-uh that? The buhdees wuh singing!" (We say she has a Christopher Robin accent.)

So then it was listening to the birds sing, still counting, still swinging. And she was grinning away. It certainly was a beautiful day. Nice to be outside rather than cleaning.

Suddenly, the wise words of a three year old. "Mom, does this make you happy?"

I kid you not. Did she ask that because I'm a grump? I hope not. I hope she was feeling so much joy, that she wondered if I was too. And my answer?

"YES! This is really fun!"

I threw the question back at her, "Does this make YOU happy?"

"No." And she burst into a fit of giggles, the little snot.

So if you need me and I'm not answering the phone, check the swingset. Or the front yard where I'm playing catch with my boys. Or the couch, where I'm cuddling with my baby girl. A clean house is nice, but playing with the kids is way more fun.