Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Prime Real Estate and Odd Side Effects

I can't believe how much my attitude has changed about getting rid of things! What used to be really stressful has become so refreshing and fun. I've jumped in with both feet and it gets easier and easier.

I can't believe how much prime real estate I've wasted. One example, in our bedroom we've got a dresser with 5 drawers. Jamie takes to top two, I've got the bottom three. Jamie opens both of his daily. My top drawer gets opened daily, the next once a week, the bottom hardly never. My jeans hang out on the floor next to my bed. Is whatever living in that bottom drawer important enough to get that prime real estate, or do I move it out so I can put something I do use there? I've been noticing this all around me, where I'm using the prime real estate as storage rather than prime space that could be put to good use. Think about it!

The tossing has had some interesting side effects. One, the more I do the easier it gets. The time and energy it takes to deal with all the stuff is such a constant burden, becoming more free every day is a great motivation. Two, I feel richer. Like we're so blessed that I can get rid of all this stuff and still have so much left over. For so long I've felt really stingy, hanging on to just about everything for that odd "just in case." Now I pick something up and know that someone else could use it far better than the bottom of my closet does.

So refreshing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Worth the Mess

My girls love to pull out the watercolors to paint. Carolyn probably the very most, but Melanie really loves to too. Yesterday Carolyn created three wonderful messes, one, a rainbow of paint drips from the kitchen sink to the kitchen table, that I really wish I had taken a picture of. Another was a tipped over cup of paint water, very gray and not nearly as pretty as the rainbow all over the floor. Thank goodness watercolors are super easy to clean up.

Lately Melanie has started painting outdoor scenes, even looking outside to see what she sees and trying to paint it. The other day it was very gray outside and she had a great start on a yucky looking sky when Carolyn decided to help her. Melanie didn't appreciate that and it went in the garbage.

Today Melanie was painting a darkish blue sky. I was on the phone for a minute when I turned and saw her splattering paint onto her paper, and thought it was just beautiful. When I got off the phone I stopped her so I could ask her about what she was doing. She reminded me that we'd been looking at a book that had some paint splatters as part of the pictures, and said she was just trying that. I told her it looked like a stormy day, with rain coming out of the dark sky. She looked at the picture again and just beamed when she saw it too.

I don't care how clean you like your house to be. Things like this are definitely worth the mess.

The Saddest Swingset

My new blogging pal Cindi beat me to an awesome punch when she posted a picture of her swingset. I of course had to post pictures of mine back, even as sad as it is, icicles and everything. At least someone trekked out there to try it out sometime.

We are so looking forward to a thaw... one of these days. Adam kept saying how bored he was all day the other day, and that the only thing to do after school was to play. It hit me that he was just dying to go throw baseballs (or rather tennis balls and raquetballs) at the house and play catch. I told him it will thaw one of these days. It will be wonderful!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

That was Brilliantly Amusing

This never ceases to cause a lot of giggling at our house. Definitely our favorite Harry Potter Lego video. Probably even our favorite of all Lego videos, just because it's so silly. When I read book 4 to the boys I read most of it calling Hermione "Her-me-own" because it amused them so much.

Adam and I were having a "bother" fight a bit ago because he needed someone to bother and the baby didn't like him bothering her.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What's that Mysterious Ticking Noise?

If you haven't seen this, you're missing one of the true gems for which we all love the dubya-dubya-dubya.

And faster!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Biggest Loser Work-Out

We're not huge TV fans. As I write that, I think "Huh, then why does it seem like it's always on?" So to clarify that, I guess I should say we really have very few shows that we schedule our lives around. I do like to watch ER, but if I miss it, I know the sun will still come out tomorrow.

We happened to catch the first Biggest Loser episode this season, and Adam was so into it he declared that he wants to watch the whole season. We've seen the last few episodes during the season before. Last season I think we only saw the very last one, which is really the most rewarding one anyway. But we've been catching it every week this time around. After all, it's very inspiring watching all these people working so hard towards their goal and succeeding!

The second week we watched we started having our own work-outs during the commercials. I'm not even sure how it started, whether it was me or Adam even, but when the commercials start we jump right into doing push-ups, jumping jacks, go sit at the wall, whatever. Nice to feel like we're not just blobbing at the TV. Now give me some chocolate!

Monday, January 21, 2008


I am in personal uncharted hair territory. My bangs are about an inch below my chin. (I would post a picture, but that would take effort. But hey, here's a silly picture Jamie took Christmas Eve.) The longest personal record in the past had been just below my nose, but that was when I had the big bangs thing going on (in my own defence they weren't nearly as big as plenty others out there). I've tried to grow them out before but just couldn't handle it. I got a haircut in April and somehow they never bothered me much after that.

At almost to my shoulders, my overall hair length is also longer than it's been in about 10 years. I haven't had a haircut since the end of May, except for touchups here and there performed by myself.

When I turn my head I feel like it's almost slow motion since my hair has to catch up with my head. When I realized that earlier, I sat and flipped my head from side to side until I realized it was feeling very vain.

Speaking of which, I have at least 6 immediate things I can think of to do besides talk about my hair.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I was surprised when I realized something this morning. Not only did I get me and the kids on our way to church 15 minutes before 9:00am church (we usually shoot for 20 minutes early, so anyone out there that can't make it to 1:00 church on time should do some serious soul searching), but I realized that I was going 10 MPH over the speed limit to get there. Mind you, it's not to send my kids off and go sit quietly with other adults, but it's to get to the nursery.

I've been there about 7 months now, and from the beginning wanted to be there plenty early, knowing other people would get to church and need to drop their child off to be on their way for their own church duties. Jamie and I have had plenty of those "I can't stay and wait for the teacher" "well I can't stay and wait either" moments, so then one or the other ends up packing the little one around, trying to prepare for whatever they are about to do, checking every minute or two to see if a nursery leader arrived, and I didn't want to cause that. We passed a Relief Society presidency member getting her clan into the car on the way, and I was happy knowing I would be there waiting when she arrived.

When I was first called to the position I did some major pride swallowing. I was recently back from my second time on Wood Badge staff, was feeling super exited about training leaders and youth, and just wanted to be put to good use. I was even thinking about that the morning I got the message the bishop wanted to see me, and thought "Here it comes!" I don't know if my face visibly fell when he said nursery, but somehow I choked out a yes and here I am. I mentioned my feelings to the bishop's wife and she said, "You're there for a reason, I'm sure you'll figure it out."

I do get flashes of that, like the Sunday it was me and something like 15 kids waiting for one of the other four nursery leaders to get there. One got there 10 minutes late, two others about 20 minutes late, the fourth never showed that day. Makes me wonder what would have happened if I hadn't been there. The primary presidency would have been scrambling for substitutes, parents hanging out trying to keep things under control.

I had another flash at about 1:15 last night while cataloging all the songs that go with each lesson, sitting there wondering why I feel so over-zealous about things sometimes.

It's a pretty thankless job. At this age very few get that excited about their teacher since they would rather be with mom or dad, and a child that is grinning, talking happily to you, and even hugging you one week will fight with everything they've got to go in the next. Or you'll start patting yourself on the back for helping one one child get comfortable enough to stay consistantly without a fuss, and another who's been doing just fine all along will suddenly decide that nursery is worse than broccoli, and you run the previous weeks over in your mind trying to think of something that happened to trigger that. But hey, there are no small parts only small actors, right? We all need to do our duty to keep things rolling along.

But still, a quick heart-felt thank you note sometime would send your nursery leaders into serious shock. It's nice to feel a little connected to people outside our 3-minute lesson (if you have a lot of pictures), playdough infested carpet, marshmellow and fish crackers world. (I say that knowing that at least two of my nursery parents will read this, but you two are exempt since you visit me every month if not more.)

The children are certainly adorable, though. I'm with the youngest group so none are even 2 yet, and they don't hardly sing at all but they sure enjoy singing time. Most have this inherent desire to make their fish crackers swim in their water, which always cracks me up when we get a newbie in and they are the first one doing it (do they give each other the low down of how things work there?). The joy and wonder bubbles can bring to them is delightful.

I'll end with an out-of-the-mouths-of-babes moment. Today's lesson was on God having a plan for us. We talked about living with Heavenly Father before we came to earth, and now we have a family to help us learn and grow, and someday, if we choose the right, we can live with Heavenly Father again someday. The kids were being really quiet and sitting very well. Right as I finished saying we could live with Heavenly Father again someday, Erin yelled, "Yaaaaay!" One of the leaders asked if we had been planning that all morning. I was so surprised I almost couldn't stop laughing to finish the last thought or two I had. Those big spirits in little bodies probably know more than I do, but it's fun trying to be their teacher.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Dream and a Story

This morning when I woke up and rolled over Jamie said, "What were you dreaming about?" "Why?" I asked. "Because a few minutes ago you said, 'Bears and goats have feelings too.'" I started laughing, because yes I was dreaming, but couldn't believe I had actually said that outloud.

I was dreaming that I was working at a national park or something. A few family members were there working as well. Part of my job was walking this bear around on a leash. It was pretty grumpy for a while, until it stood up and gave me a big bear hug. I was pretty scared the first time, realized I was still alive, and thought it had actually been kind of pleasant. Shortly thereafter the bear did it again, and after the two hugs he was a lot happier. The bear and I met up with someone else walking around with a grumpy goat. The goat stood up on his hind hooves and also hugged me, and he was also a lot happier after. At the end of our work day all the workers stood around in an office and talked about what we learned that day. When it was my turn I said, "Bears and goats have feelings too." Silly dreams.

I've mentioned the book Adam and I are working through together on fiction writing. I wrote my first actually cool story today. At least I think it's cool. The assignment we've been trying to get ideas for is to turn an enemy into an animal and write a story about it. We've both been turning this over in our heads for a week or two and hadn't come up with any good ideas. Today I told him to just start writing and see what he could get written. Adam was grumpy at Sammy so he named his animal Sammy. That of course didn't make Sam happy, so he started throwing out ideas to make Adam a grump elk. (An elk, because that is one of Adam's favorite animals.) I thought it would be a great opportunity to get him to write a story and I would write it down for him. I couldn't get him to get past the grumpy elk, even though I threw out a couple other ideas, like a fuzzy pink elf (like the one sitting on the frontroom floor) and pajamas that make you fly (that was more to make him giggle than anything). He still wasn't taking the bait, but I had a story forming in my head.

So here you have it, Sam and the Flying Pajamas. Adam doesn't think it is very flattering to him. I told him I'll write a story with him as the hero sometime. Melanie wants one too. (I tried putting this on Google Docs but guess I need to play with it more, so now it's at my website instead.)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Google Analytics

This blogging thing is pretty fun even if I am the only one to see it, but I would by lying if I said it wasn't a little bit gratifying that other people read it too. Naturally comments show this, but another wonderful help is Google Analytics. It's a great way to track the traffic to your site - how many people go there, how they get there, and what they look at while they are there, over the past 30 days.

Interestingly enough, a great group of people find my blog through search engines looking for Petite Tresors Cocoa Dusted Belgian truffles. If you've had them, you understand. In the past month alone I've had 97 unique pageviews of the post about them (plus 32 on the update). Of the search engine traffic I got, probably 95% of the people found me doing some kind of truffle search. I also had visitors that searched for "amish don," "military bed making," "family home evening idea blogs," and "year of scouting," among a few others. If someone found me with "amish don," I'm sure you're dying to know how people get to you.

I guess there are a lot of people who can sympathize with sheet issues too (or like to mock those that have them), because the day I posted about that I had more visitors than any other day in the past month.

When I updated the look of my blog almost a month ago I sent out one of the posts to a lot of people. Analytics showed no visitors for the next few days and I was really disappointed... until I realized that when I updated it took off the code you add in for the tracking. So be aware of that - if you add it in, don't forget to keep it there if you make changes.

Pretty fun really. Try it out and see what you can learn about your own blog, I would love to hear about it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Major 2008 Goal

I'm not usually a big New Year's goal kind of person. I guess I figure that when I see a need to change, why wait, just do it. But pre-end-of-the-year this year I set a couple goals for myself, one of which I feel like discussing for a moment.

This is the year to GET RID and organize. The get rid is the main part. The organize should be a lovely by-product.

I've of course known about goals for years, but it wasn't until I went to Wood Badge (scout leadership training) that I really learned how to set goals by making sure they are SMART (specific, measureable, attainable, relevant, time), and by setting a plan of the who, what, when, where, why, and how.

This goal is a necessary one and thus very relevant, but it's still very scary for me. I start knotting up when I start thinking about getting rid of some things. I know, dumb. Usually if I get away from them for a while and talk myself into realizing I don't need them then I'm okay, but spur of the moment is much harder. My method takes more time. I started cataloging my boxes of books for just that purpose, so I couldn't lovingly hold them in my hand while deciding whether they should stay or go. I swear all this stuff can talk.

I've got a great new-found friend that is totally the opposite of saving everything, entirely unsentimental. After she told me that one day on the phone, I was looking through boxes downstairs for my copy of the book our book club is reading this month and suddenly there was her voice in my head. "Why do you still have that? You haven't used it yet, when are you planning to?" The next day when I e-mailed her that I couldn't find the book but I was sure I could find the paper I wrote in high school on it, she wrote back and told me to bring it to book group and she would throw it away for me. I don't know about that, but everyone needs a friend like that to help them deal with their personal issues, whatever they may be.

Just a bit earlier I had a burst of inspiration to help me with the "When" on this goal. Thursday is our garbage day and Thursday is also our library day. If I could promise myself a trip to the basement every Wednesday at some point, the trash could go out the next day and the DI's could go out the door with us. Brilliant!

I've been thinking about posting some pictures so all ya'll could help me make it measureable and verify that I was doing a good job, but so far I haven't talked myself into it. Sorry.

On a final note, here's a gem from Thomas Edison's wife Mina I read while we were learning about him.

"We have tried to organize our home and our home life to give results just as much as the laboratory."

A great goal to work towards.

Monday, January 7, 2008

I am a Bed Making Loser

On Saturday hubby and I finally made it in to do some Christmas present exchanging. I have been thinking about getting a new quilt/sheets set for quite a while, and yippee I found some that I really like! When we got home I ran them through a quick wash, tried to get the fitted sheet on the bed.... did a lot of wrestling... stood on my head... got others in the family to help... nothing doing. The fitted sheet was NOT going on the bed.

We don't have any extra bells and whistles kind of mattress, not on the deep side, so I figured they packed a full sheet with the queen set. I took all kinds of measurements that seemed to show that as well. The package says it would fit a 60x80 mattress, ours is that if not just under, and from the short side tops of the seams corner to corner I only get 51". I can't imagine that they would intend the seams to be on top of the mattress...?

So today I went in and exchanged it for the exact same set. Got home, skipped the washing, and STILL can't get the fitted sheet on the bed! On one of the corners the seam even pulled apart, though I wasn't trying nearly as hard as I did the other day realizing right off that I was in the same dilemma.

Have I been making the bed wrong all these years? I can't imagine there are that many methods for putting a fitted sheet on a mattress. I even did a google search on how to make the bed, and the world apparently doesn't think it's that hard because it was all instructions on sharp hospital/military corners.

I'm totally dumbfounded. I was thinking maybe I should go get king sheets so I can get the fitted sheet on, but then we would probably be smothered under all the extra flat sheet material.

Any bedmaking suggestions? Then again, it probably won't matter, these are definitely taking the quick road back to stay. I have enough stress without being taunted by bedsheets.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Easy To Do to Get Done

I just finished copying the past several year's worth of family photos to CD. It's about time, you say? I know. Yes, I do love all those pictures, and yes, I've heard of plenty of people's family pictures GONE from one computer oops to another. So what took me so long? Pure lack of knowledge. I figured all those unedited photos would take up tons and tons of space, but just in case you're wondering, they don't. I backed up my whole website on one CD, and an entire year's worth of pictures would also fit on one CD.

I promise it's not as painless as you might think. If you haven't already, go do it.

Now if the 6 or 7 year long family recipe book project would finish itself up...