Thursday, January 29, 2009

Celebrate Every Day

While visiting my sister, her husband, and their cute new baby in the hospital I learned a great life lesson that I wanted to jot down to remember.

When we arrived to visit, the little "celebration" dinner from the hospital for the new mom and dad was just being set out in their room, which included a bottle of Martinelli's sparkling apple cider. We like to buy it as a fun thing very once in a while, but my sister mentioned that her husband has it in the fridge almost all the time. He said it helps him to think about little reasons to celebrate every day. I don't know if he really thinks about something before he gets himself a glass, but I thought it was wonderful. We might need to have Martinelli's in our fridge more.

Welcome to the family Baby Ben! You are definitely a reason to celebrate.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Precious Reading Time

Yesterday we were listening to a John Bytheway talk in the car called "Weed Your Spirit, Grow Your Testimony." An excellent talk, but of course, John's are always great.

He mentioned something that he credited to Elder Joe J. Christensen. Elder Christensen pointed out that if you live to be 70 and read a book a week, you will read x number of books. I couldn't remember the number and not knowing exactly how he thought it out, I came up with my own. SO, if you live till age 75, and figuring that you don't learn to read until you're 5 (obviously not a high calibur of books at that point), I came up with 3640 as the number of books you could read in your lifetime. Not a real big number, considering that the Library of Congress has over 30 million books (thanks Wikipedia). So basically, if you read 577,000 a week, you'll make it through all of them. That's it!

I thought it was a very interesting bit of information. The moral of the story was, don't waste time reading junk. My moral of the story is, if you aren't already reading, get started!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dear Visitors,

If you are coming to see me, come over anytime! If you are coming to see my house, please call an hour (or two or five, depending on the day) ahead of time to warn me so I can have it prepared and ready for you. Be sure to specify whether you are going to stick to main areas of the house, or whether you plan on following my children to bedrooms when they beg to show off their toys. I die a little inside every time my children take people on unexpected tours. I promise I try to make them keep their bedrooms clean, but we didn't realize when we moved in that our house included randomly barfing closets. The erupting dressers were purchased before moving here. The under-the-bed areas that reproduce odd toys and papers then slowly ooze out have been around a while too.

If the kitchen table is messy, don't assume that I haven't cleaned it off since breakfast, even if there is still cereal on it. Children seem to think that cereal is good any time of the day, not just morning. Sometimes multiple times during the day, just out for a snack. Then again, it could be from yesterday's breakfast... This also explains why the sink is full of dishes. We will really need to time your visit right to see the sink entirely empty. Please make that reservation at least a week in advance.

If the kitchen floor isn't swept, see above paragraph. Children don't always see it necessary to eat at the table. I'm overjoyed if I can get them to stay in the kitchen! Look closer, it probably needs a good mopping too. I start twitching if I find food particles on the frontroom carpet, which I why I think the kids are always migrating their food there. Anything to jump on mom's last nerve.

If you are wondering why you can keep your house so clean and I can't, it's probably because your children have been over here playing because you didn't want the neighborhood kids messing up your house. I think "fun" is way cooler than "clean." I've also been told that children remember the "fun" more than the "clean." I'll check on that one in about 20 years. If it wasn't true, oh well, at least we had fun.

Above all else, my children live here and they outnumber me.


Random Post on Children's Books

Reading to my kids is enjoyable on so many different levels.

When I grab a book off the shelf at the library, if I'm not immediately interested I will at least give it a flip through to see if anything hooks me. Today Carolyn was pulling books and books off the shelf and handing them to me. One was called When Will I Read? by Miriam Cohen. Looked cute (I recognized the illustration style by Lillian Hoban from other fun books we've read), so I did a flip through and stopped for a second at a page that read:

Anna Maria said, "Oh, this is a bad baby. He needs to be washed." And she began to wash her baby very hard.

It's a keeper. Into the bag.

Of course when we got home I pulled that one out first thing and started reading to whoever would listen. There are a few very random sections in the book and I'm not entirely sure why they are in the story, except to be amusing to me. The quote above is from the right page. The left page (so read this next one then go back and read the first) reads:

Anna Maria was reading to her baby in the doll corner. She could really read. "Quiet," she said. "I'm reading to you." But her baby would not be quiet.

Anna Maria is smiling while she washes her baby. VERY HARD.

Another book we checked out today is called Little Pea. It is about a pea family. Little Pea doesn't want to eat his candy for dinner, but finally does so he can have his dessert - spinach! Now that's just clever.

There is this really cute series about two hippos named George and Martha. They are short simple stories about friendship, but there is a definite hilarity and deep wisdom to them that I like. Sort of Frog and Toadish. We checked one out one time and I was reading away to the kids. We got to this story where Martha is taking a bath. George walks by her window and stops to watch. Martha looks up and sees him, she chews him out for a minute ("there is such a thing as privacy"), then George sheepishly walks away. WHAT?

I feel bad for those of you that don't have children that might feel foolish checking out some of these great recommendations. We would be happy to have them ready if you want to come look at them yourself.

Monday, January 12, 2009


I don't know what has come over me.

Sometime Septemberish I was talking to a friend and I mentioned thinking about how fun it would be to make bread EVERY WEEK with the kids! See, I'm like that. Think of an awesome idea, jump right in with both feet. Thank goodness for good friends. She said, "Well maaaaybe you could try it once a month, and then if you like it, you could try it every other week, and then if that works out, you could go for every week." Ah HA! Even better!

We tried it one day and had fun. Bonus, the bread even turned out really good! (Beginner's luck?) Tried it again a month or so later, um, not so good. We ended up having scones instead of bread because it wasn't rising. There you have it - instant discouragement. Why put all this time, effort, and ingredients into something that doesn't work out??? Nothing after that for months.

Maybe I just needed inspiration. New Year's Day we were taking a drive and stopped at the outlets in Park City for a little bit. To keep kids happy Jamie suggested stopping by the Mrs. Field's store, which upon getting inside, we realized also had a Pretzelmaker inside. Sammy and I got a pretzel to share, everyone else got a cookie.

I couldn't stop thinking about that pretzel. A couple days later I was looking up pretzel recipes. That was soooo good I really wanted more. Found this recipe on that had some good reviews so I went with it. They weren't as pretty and not as good as Pretzelmaker, but everyone was happy with them. About a week later I made bread again (another different recipe). Again not amazing, but people ate it without complaining. Here I am today, trying another pretzel recipe.

This just might turn out to be known as the year I really learned to make bread! Not just any old bread, but bread that could be taken to new neighbors when they move in! Or old neighbors for that matter! Right now I think my biggest issue is the kneading stage. I just put several bread books on hold at the library because I know I have issues getting the dough to do whatever it's supposed to do then, and in the youtube videos I found everything just works out perfectly, so no troubleshooting advice. Mine always seems to be on the tough from beginning to end, even if I use a lot less flour, and when pulled very much just breaks apart. Never seems to get to that 'smooth and elastic' point.

It's turning out there is a certain "cool mom" factor that I think will help encourage my efforts along. Sammy bopped into the kitchen with his friend and asked what I'm making. When I told him pretzels, he got way excited and grabbed the book I was using for the pretzel recipe this time, had to show his friend the picture in the book and everything. Adam yelled from another room, "What are you making?" Sammy answered excitedly for me, then Adam started talking up the pretzels I made last time to his friend. I heard Adam's friend whispering to Adam, and Adam's reply, "I don't know, you'll have to ask my mom." "What does he need?" I ask. "He wants to know if he can have one." :) Though I do try to suppress it, I have a very competitive side of me that is always looking for ways to keep my coolest-mom-in-the-neighborhood status.

P.S. The Ultimate Bread book (link above) has the most delicious pictures in it of tons of different kinds of bread. Jamie was with me when I checked it out a few months ago (I keep renewing and renewing), and we both ooooohed and ahhhhhhed over everything we wanted to make. As it stands, this is the first recipe I've made out of it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

We Raise 'em Tough

This is Carolyn's latest favorite outfit. Wants to wear it sleeping, playing, basically as often as I allow. We walk in the house from anywhere, she heads to her room to change back into it. Today she snuck out to grab some snow, and no, it wasn't just an in-and-out venture. She was perfectly happy out there until I went to tell her to come back in. At least she put gloves on, eh?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 Book List

I've been thinking about my helter-skelter way of reading (usually a few but sometimes several at a time, finishing some and not others, etc. etc.) and decided I needed to come up with a list to work towards. I'm not saying I have to finish this during the year, but it's a goal list I want to work through. I actually hope it's these and more, especially since I'll also be reading with the kids and the book group, not to mention all the wonderful book review bloggers that add more to my list and those impulsive library and book store finds. I plan on marking then off as I go, maybe more will sneak in.

I think there's a good variety. Here you have it, in no particular order (except Daisy Chain since I already started it):

Daisy Chain by Charlotte Mary Yonge (working on it)
Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis (0, 1, and 3 done)
Phantasies by George MacDonald
The Wise Woman by George MacDonald
At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald
DONE Life of Pi by Yann Martel
DONE Laddie by Gene Stratton-Porter
Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West
The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene Du Bois
Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
DONE I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Les Miserables (this is scary, I mean the BIG one) by Victor Huge
Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
My One Hundred Adventures by Polly Horvath
Eight Cousins by Louise May Alcott
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
DONE Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
DONE Silas Marner by George Elliot
The Chosen by Chaim Potok
Lonesome Gods by Louis L'Amour
Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
DONE Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
DONE The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart

21 Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
Bonds that Make Us Free by C. Terry Warner
DONE Leadership and Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute
Ravens in Winter by Bernd Heinrich

A few maybes because I love them so much and it's been a couple of years since we spent time together (I'm giddy thinking about reading them again):
Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Song of the Lark by Willa Cather (working on this)

All are new to me except The Chosen (read it years ago) and the Narnia series (read them for the first time a couple years ago). And one I've been halfway through for at least 6 months, but am ashamed to say which.

"You are the same today as you will be five years from now except for two things...the people you meet and the books you read." --Charles E. Jones

Here's to a year of GREAT READING!

Added Feb. 2, 2009 - 2009 BOOK CLUB LIST
DONE January - The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
DONE February - WORK: Wonderful Opportunities for Raising Responsible Kids by Debbie Bowen
DONE March - The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
DONE April - The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
DONE May - Walk Two Moons by Susan Creech
June - Sara by Orson Scott Card
DONE July - A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett
August - All is Swell by Robert F. Smith
DONE September - Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute
DONE October - Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
DONE November - Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
December - Gift of the Magi and Other Stories by O. Henry

Kids and Goals

I haven't been a New Year's goal person for very long. In the past I always figured that I shouldn't set a goal just because it is New Year's, that when I saw a need for change I should set the goal then. But a couple years ago I caught a bigger vision of the New Year's opportunity.

I was helping one of the kids prepare their Family Home Evening lesson the first Monday in January. We were looking for a good story about goals from the Friend magazine and happened upon this great goals chart. We printed one out for each member of the family, and that night everyone set goals for the year! The simplicity was fantastic to help the kids get the idea of goals. The topics helped us to think outside the box (although they are in boxes?) and set a good variety.

I remember one of Melanie's goals the best. She was 5 at the time and set the goal to be able to jump rope 10 jumps in a row. She had been practicing and could get a few in a row, and I knew if she could get to 10 she would quickly surpass that. The day after setting the goal, she practiced and practiced, DESPERATELY wanting to reach that goal. Within just a few days she had it, then went far beyond her goal, soon reaching 20, then 50, then 100! Later that month her kindergarten teacher told us she had never seen a kindergartener so good at jump roping. A simple goal, but a real lesson that if she could set a goal and work hard, she could achieve it. Definitely something good to learn at an early age!

I've given up on plenty of goals because of lack of planning, so likewise, if you want to help your children reach their goals, help them make a plan. Help them think about and define all the who, what, when, where, why, and how's. Help them get of vision of what they need to do to accomplish it so they will know what will be required of them. I'm grateful for my Wood Badge training and the goal setting experiences I've had through that so I can be a better mentor for my kids in this.

Since as homeschoolers we work on school goals a lot more hands-on than most, we got each of the kids a simple planner so we can keep track of monthly and weekly goals and keep a better record of all the great things we're learning. It's one of my New Year's goals to teach the kids to use those.

Last year I set a goal to make 2008 the year of decluttering. I got rid of a wonderful amount of unnecessary stuff and have been very pleased with my progress, but with so much more to do I plan on continuing that goal this year (Karen, still willing to check up on me?). My attitude change about 'stuff' has been the greatest result of all.

BTW, here's a list of questions to help think of New Year's goals.

P.S. While writing a portion of this we were watching a fun family movie called Hawmps! It's a kick and a half. "Don't mess 'em up so bad they won't hang good!" Reminiscent of some of the great old Disney comedies like The Apple Dumpling Gang and Hot Lead and Cold Feet. Watch it if you get the chance!