Thursday, December 9, 2010

Choosing to Follow

Our family was invited to perform some service a couple weeks ago, and we quickly accepted the opportunity.  Simple really.  Meet at the church, and help clean.

While we were there, I thought about how the process of gathering people for this service could be improved.  I had seen sign up sheets about it in the past, but we got a phone call.  Maybe the sign up sheets hadn't worked.  I wondered if it would make a difference if it was laid out how often our congregation had the responsibility, and if everyone were asked to perform this service once, possible twice, through the year.

The person in charge was there with us, and I asked if she gets a lot of excuses when she asks for help.

"Yes, I do.  Or people just don't call back."  She mentioned later that she's done it all herself before.  With our crew, it took us two hours.  That would be a big job on your own.

As I thought more about it, I wondered if things would be different if someone else were making assignments. My mind went through a list of people, and and I imagined possible scenarios if they were in charge.  Some gathering friends, some guilting people into helping, and some like this one, performing the service on their own if necessary.

This all brought me to another, bigger question.  Why do we choose whether we follow based on the person leading?

True, some people are natural leaders.  They gather people easily, and people are quick to follow.  I've noticed that I love to see someone with a vision actively working towards that, and it is especially effective when they are sharing that vision (i.e. vocal about it!).

There are others maybe not as charismatic, not as readily noticed.  They perform their duties more quietly, yet placed as a leader for a time, they are moving forward as well.  Is their effort less?  The result also accepted? Leadership in a widow's mite-ish sort of way.

I guess the biggest question is where your loyalty lies - the person or the cause.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sammy's Ah-Ha

I started reading 10 Conversations You Need to Have With Your Children the other day.  Right off the author mentions Psalms 127 where it talks about children being arrows and happy is the man that has his quiver full.  The analogy is made that if children are the arrows, then parents are like the bow, so no matter how far the arrow has flown, the path was originally guided by the bow.  I like that.

So tonight Sammy and I were reading about George Frideric Handel, and withing the first couple of pages in that it talks about Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Handel's father DID NOT want his son to become a musician).  Sammy went to grab his scriptures to look it up, so since they are similar, I shared the Psalms 127 scripture with him.

While telling the boys good night tonight, Sammy told me he'd thought of something.  "If kids are the arrows, and the parents are the bow, Heavenly Father is like the person using them, and heaven is the target."

L.O.V.E. I.T.

I told him thank you for teaching me.  Children truly are an heritage of the Lord.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Paying the Price

I've been thinking about the price.

What is the price for the things I want?

Is the good, better, best question a question of price? In choosing one thing, we must remember the cost, not only of what we choose, but the cost of not choosing something else.

What am I willing to pay for? What is so important to me that I am willing to pay the price?

An example of paying the price - Bruce R. McConkie:
“Dad paid a price to learn,” says his son Mark. “He knew gospel understanding comes to people who earn it—it’s not some sudden flash that comes without effort. Even though he had already read the scriptures many times during his life, he reread the entire standard works, taking notes on everything that was messianic in nature, before writing The Promised Messiah. Then when he wrote The Mortal Messiah, he read the entire standard works again and wrote down everything that was helpful in analyzing the life of the Savior. For The Millennial Messiah, he read the entire standard works a third time and wrote down everything that was millennial. Some people may not appreciate the intense labor that went into it.”

"A daughter once asked him how he learned the gospel. When he was a young man, he said, about eighteen or nineteen, he went through the Book of Mormon verse by verse, studying and cross-referencing, and rewriting each verse in his own words. He covered the entire Book of Mormon in this way and had a stack of papers over a foot high when he was through. “I asked him what he did with those papers, and he said he threw them away—it wasn’t the stack of papers or what he wrote that was important, but the discipline and understanding it gave him. This is the way he taught himself.”

I've been reading the book "Change Your Questions, Change your Life." It is good to ask the questions, and even better to take the time to discover the answers.

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Comedy of Errors

All I wanted to do was take a friend some dinner, and this is what happened:

1.  I was making lasagna and realized I didn't have any mozzarella cheese.  To the store (also grabbed a bag of salad and french bread, which I wanted to go with the lasagna anyway, and extra noodles just in case!), and home.
2.  Got meat and noodles cooking, and realized quickly that I didn't have any ricotta cheese or spaghetti sauce.  Didn't even occur to me before then as ingredients I would need.  Argh!  Had enough sauce for one pan of lasagna (if I stretched it), but decided I just couldn't do it without the ricotta.  Back to the store, and home.
3.  Opened the car door to get out the ricotta and sauce, and a jar of sauce rolled right out and broke on the driveway (one of those slow motion moments - "Nooooooooooo!").  Thank goodness it was on sale, so I had bought three jars instead of just one or two (might have bought more, but I didn't grab a cart).  Cleaned up the mess, back to cooking.
4.  Cooking away.  Sammy got after Erin for playing with my iTouch.  Then he said something like, "What did you do?"  He grabbed it and turned to show me, dropped it on the floor (ouch), picked it up and handed it to me.  Something wasn't... right.  Erin had deleted a bunch of the programs I use the most.  Big Argh!
5.  Finally finished making everything, hoped the lasagna cooked long enough, but since it was already late, I dashed off with a few extra of my little friends to deliver it.
6.  While we were there, Carolyn walked back to their chickens and collected several eggs in her shirt (this girl should have been born on a farm).  My friend offered to let her take an egg with us, and put it in one of those little rubbermaid containers that hold next to nothing but was perfect for the egg.  Erin wanted one too, of course, so without another little container, I told her we could put it in a drink holder for the ride home.
7.  Driving home on the freeway, Erin asked if she could eat the egg.  "No, it's not cooked yet."  "But can't I eat it now?"  "NO, you cannot eat it now.  It's gooey and slimey, not scrambled or fried."  Silence.  A few moments later Carolyn turned to look at her.  "MOM!  Erin cracked her egg!"
8.  The egg was together enough (learned shortly that she'd cracked a hole just smaller than a dime), that she was able to pass it up to Carolyn.  Still driving on the freeway, we swapped the broken egg to the little container, and I put the uncontained egg in my cup holder.  Napkins were passed around; baby wipes found and dispensed.
9.  Made it home without further excitement.  Our dinner was done cooking.  We set the table, and ate.

It's all much funnier now.

These Are Our Hall Ways

If I posted all the started posts I write, there would be a lot more on here more often, but it would all be a lot more incomplete and unpolished (maybe no one would notice the difference??).  Maybe I should publish one once in a while just to throw people off, or challenge the world to finish my randomness for me.

We have a family mission statement.  It is about two months old now, and it took us almost a year to write (I blame myself).  Our writing process went something like this:
  • One family home evening we talked about what a mission statement is, and told everyone to start thinking about things that make our family different than other families so we could jot those down in a week or two.
  • A few months later, we talked about it again, and said, "Hey, remember when we talked about having a mission statement?  Now let's write down some ideas."  We passed out note cards and had everyone write down at least five ideas on how our family is different from other families, or the kinds of things that are important to our family.  When it was over, we read them through, I gathered them up, and put them in my scripture bag.
  • A few months later, we pulled them out again, looked them all over as a family, grouped similar suggestions, and talked about ways we could reword some things to include other things as well.  When we were done, they all went back into my scripture bag for further fermenting.
  • A few months later, I pulled them all out again and typed up the ideas.  Over the next few days I looked at it and stewed over it, changed the order of a few things, adjusted wording here and there, then e-mailed it off to Jamie for his thoughts.  He gave some suggestions, and I incorporated those in.  A bit more minor tweaking, and voila, it was finished and ready for the rest of the family.
As you can see, the process could have been a lot quicker, but maybe we needed that time to come up with some of the best parts.  It really was a family effort.  When it was complete and I read it to the kids, we pulled out the cards and talked about where each of their ideas worked in.  They were all pleased.  Except for one thing, which I will mention at the end.  But here it is.

We are the Hall Family
and these are our Hall Ways.

The Halls are great people! (That is always said with vigor.)

As family members and friends, we love each other and serve each other.

We love spending time together, both playing and working.

We love to learn great things.

We can do hard things and we do the right things.

Miracles happen when we're working together.

We focus on Christ, study the scriptures, and follow the prophet.
The temple is our goal.

Together, we are the happiest family.

We recite this every morning now before scripture study.  Everyone memorized it really quickly.  About two days into it, Sammy told me we're bragging there at the end.  I told him it's not bragging, because every family, when they are together, can be the happiest family.  I mentioned what he said to a friend who also has a family mission statement, and she said, "He should hear ours then!"  Part of theirs mentions that among a variety of other wonderful things, they are "gooooood lookin!"

At least once a week someone mentions something that we should add to it, whether it's something funny like, "We love our baby!" or a portion of a scripture that we feel would apply well.  I don't think there will be any changes at this point, but maybe somewhere down the road we'll look at that.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

But... How Do You Know?

Every time someone starts asking me questions about homeschooling, there is one question that always - ALWAYS - comes up.  Something to the gist of...

"But how do you know your kids are getting what they are supposed to?"

I was recently in the middle of one of those homeschool conversations, and the person was genuinely interested.  Questions were coming one after the other as they reconciled their own school experience with what I was telling them, but the question eventually came.

"But how do you know?"

I gave my usual about how I'm with them all the time so I know what they do and don't do, their strengths and weaknesses, yada yada blah blah blah, which is all entirely true.  But it wasn't until the car ride home that the real answer came to me.  What I should have replied with is,

"How do YOU know?"

77 And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.
78 Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;
79 Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—
80 That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you.
The way I understand this, if I am teaching my children, I will be blessed to understand the things I need to to perform my mission as their mother and as their mentor.  Likewise, in doing my part, I will help them learn what they need to know and understand for their missions as well.

I can't tell my children what their mission is any more than the school can.  But there's a difference - at school they have all these tests of what kids at certain grade levels are "supposed" to know at that point.  At home I may not have all the state tests, but I am with my children daily, I know and love them as individuals, and what the schools say my children need to know isn't important to me.  What is important to me is that I know that each of them has a mission in life to fulfill, and that I have the amazing opportunity to help them prepare and work towards that mission.

When my second son was struggling with math one year, the daily homework was a variety of review problems.  I talked to his teacher about getting practice problems on things they were studying in class so I could help him learn and review it at home, and was surprised at how mystified the teacher was by the idea.  Turns out, the regular daily homework was getting them ready for the end of year test.  Rather than focusing on mastering what they were learning right then, they were worried about preparing the kids for the test.

I know what my children are getting because I can take all the time I want to help them master the things they are learning.

At school, also because of those tests, the teachers teach less and less of the "extras" that don't fit in the realm of those tests.  My children have time to learn any of the extras they like, and they want to, and they do.

How do you know what your children are being taught?

I am in my children's classroom every day. I know what their textbooks teach.  Did you know that because of theophobia, plenty of textbooks teach that the pilgrims came to American because they were mad at the king, or just because they wanted to?  The fact is, they came because they wanted to worship God as they chose, because in England, they couldn't.  It was a religious decision, pure and simple, but in schools, religion isn't allowed.  I can testify about God's hand in history or science or literature or anything anytime I want to.  I can share the testimonies of the Founding Fathers and Christopher Columbus regarding God's hand in their efforts.  I can compare scripture stories and principles to other things we learn.

I'm not sharing this to say our way is better than sending your children to school every day, but so you can think about the same question every homeschooler gets asked.  I believe it is equally important for all parents.

So... how do you know your kids are getting what they are supposed to?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tough Chicks

After a wild and crazy day at the zoo (where there was an attempted attack on Erin and my nephew by a baby Siamese Crocodile and the tigers were more playful than we've ever seen them), we had dinner, the two middle girls had a bath, and we pulled out a couple of library books to read.

I picked up the first one, a book called "Tough Chicks" that Carolyn had checked out. When I started to read, I quickly got the feeling that I would be getting more out of the book than they would.

Not that it isn't a light, fun story. Three baby girl chicks are born and immediately prove to not be the normal variety of chicks. They do all sorts of wild things, getting into things they aren't supposed to, doing things they shouldn't.
"Make them be good!" called the animals.
"They are good!" Mama Hen clucked.
But sometimes even she worried.
I had to chuckle at one page in particular because I'd had a similar experience today at the zoo. When we go, we always joke that they zookeepers are going to think Carolyn is one of the monkeys and try to keep her there. She will usually ask a zookeeper if she can have a monkey, and when they say no, she'll ask if she can pet one (she hasn't talked anyone into it yet). She thinks the whole place is one giant jungle gym. In several areas of the zoo they have guardrails in front of the cages that are perfect for swinging on, and she sits, hangs, flips, and sometimes flops on them. Today we went with my two sisters and their kids, and as Carolyn was swinging away on one of them, my niece, who had been told not to do that, walked over to me and said, "Isn't she supposed to stop doing that?" I didn't respond, thinking, "But she's so GOOD at it!"

In the book, one of the three chicks likes to swing off the cow's tail, and after one particularly wild swing which causes the other chicks to run for cover, Mama Hen calls to her to be careful, then adds quietly to herself, "Nice form."

When a crisis happens on the farm, they are the ones to come to the rescue and save the day.  Happily ever after and all that.

This book is a treasure. A wonderful reminder for this mom that I have good kids too. They may be wild, loud, boisterous, active, nutty, playful, and disruptive, but they are good kids. And I can't wait to see what all that craziness becomes. If I'm still sane by then.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Tricks, Traps, and Huh?

I've written before about how much I enjoy cleaning my house. I look back at the days when it was just Jamie and I, and wonder how in the world I ever got behind in it back then. Then again, my "getting behind" then is a lot different than my "getting behind" now. Then we would get busy with school and after a week or two decide that things were getting out of hand and needed some touching up. Now, one busy day, even a half a busy day, can leave the entire place shot. It's a conspiracy!

When I really can't work myself up to start cleaning, sometimes a little game will come into my head to play while I clean. Almost like talking to myself, only different.

Today as I was dragging myself to the sink to do dishes I noticed a piece of hard candy on the counter, unwrapped it, and popped it into my mouth. Then the thought came, "Clean as long as it takes to melt that in your mouth." Voila! Like Mary Poppin's spoonful of sugar, it helped the medicine of cleaning go down. "In every job that must be done there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and SNAP! The job's a game!" What a wise woman Mary Poppins is. And since many times I just need to get my motor going, the candy game was enough to do that. I didn't even realize when it was gone! But when I did notice, I was already seeing the good results of my efforts and kept moving (till I stopped to blog about it).

Another starter for the day was writing on facebook, "I am such an amazing person! I can think of at least 684 things to do besides clean the house. Any independently wealthy people out there want to send a maid over for me?" As soon as I clicked the "share" button, I thought, "What if one of my friends and neighbors reads that, thinks, gee, sounds like Marni could really use some help today, and actually comes over to help. How embarrassing would that be?" That thought sent me on another cleaning frenzy.

Unfortunately, distractions abound around here, and some days it seems that I hardly get going before someone or something stops the progress. Today it was Madeleine getting a big bonk on the head, after which I held and loved her for about an hour. But somewhere I remember hearing that the distractions in life are life, so here's to the distractions.

Something else struck me the other day. I was looking at a picture taken of me in our kitchen the month before I turned 16. I hadn't noticed much about the picture except me before, but this time I noticed a kitchen chair showing in the picture. I stared at it, digging in years of unused memories, and for the life of me, I do not remember those kitchen chairs. (Coincidentally, I mentioned it to my sister today who would have been 9 at the time and she did.) We moved a month later and a new dining set was purchased, so those are what I remember. I've heard it said before that kids don't remember the mess, they remember what you did with them, how they were loved, etc. etc. So by golly, if I can't even remember chairs I probably sat on for the first almost 16 years of my life, yet I do remember a lot of really fun things, I guess that's got to be true and it's most important to enjoy being with your family instead of stressing over the mess. Then again, I don't remember Disneyland. But that's another point for another day.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Wanted to share an update on my journal. I'm still journaling my random and sometimes more personal thoughts and love it when I do. It's so much nicer journaling thoughts and ideas rather than "went to the store, ate some lunch, cleaned the house, my life is so boring" kinds of things. Sometimes there is a bit of traveloging, but only if there is a purpose behind it.

I've been reading A Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L'Engle right now, which makes me want to journal even more often. It's the story of her marriage to her husband, Hugh Franklin, and a beautiful story at that. Much of the story is refreshed through her journals, and she shares direct quotes from it. Things like this, that she wrote while they were apart for a few weeks in separate plays:
"But the wonderful thing, whether we are together or apart, is to know that he is in the world, and that we belong together."
Loved that, especially since my husband travels off and on.

Something else from the book, after she shares a few simple stories:
"As I recorded such small events in my journal I was, in effect, writing my own story."
So maybe that means I should write more stories down... I'll think about it. Frankly, anything is an improvement over nothing, and the fact that I'm still going at it means that I'm doing something right.

I was talking about journal writing with someone one day and mentioned that I write in pencil. She reprimanded me for that, and told me from personal experience that pen is always best. So I found a pen that I like and I guess whoever picks up my journal someday will have to see my scribbling out.

It's different writing by hand than it is typing things up. I like the quick and easy editing factor of typing, and that it's faster all around (for me). But maybe that's why writing is different - more thought because editing is harder and because the process is slower.

Journaling is nice too, because I don't stew (as much) over what I wrote after I close my journal. I edit and reedit when I'm blogging, finally click "publish," and about an hour later, think of all kinds of things I should have included in the post. Just for fun, anything I come up with to add to this I'll add to the comments. But just watch - then it won't happen.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Just Kick Me

My mom has made a few comments about me not keeping up on this for a while. Sorry! I'm trying to be inspired, I promise. But I'm also trying to catch up from all the things I had to do a few weeks ago and was so busy getting ready for that I couldn't spare any brain cells for blogging a few weeks before the few weeks. Besides, she shouldn't be encouraging me to blog - she's seen my house.

But to throw out something for fun, I got to meet a wonderful online friend in person a couple weeks ago. It was a crazy visit, involving our combined 11 children plus several others (most were swimming), so thank goodness for the husbands and uncle that were there to play with them while we attempted to chat in the chaos of it all. We'll definitely have to do it again in three years! :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

One Line

One line from Sister Julie Beck's conference talk:

"There is much distraction and not enough peace and joy."

Every time I hear or read that again I think, "I KNOW!" This past week has especially felt like a very ADHD one for me. Going/thinking/getting pulled in all kinds of directions, no focus whatsoever. It is not a peaceful feeling.

A few days ago I was especially disturbed by it all. Driving somewhere I was trying to think of what I needed to do to center myself, and had the thought to stop thinking about myself and think about someone else. I didn't come up with anyone until I drove past the office my sister works at and realized that I hadn't stopped by to say hi for a few months. When I drove past it again on my way home, I pulled in and chatted with her for a bit. And it helped.

The next day I was making rolls and decided that I should drop some off to my other sister. That helped too.

I can thus deduce that service is one thing that helps me feel more peace and joy. I actually have a quote hanging on my cupboard door that was put there a long time ago to remind me of this:

"Never suppress a generous thought."

My biggest distraction lately is the greatness of others. I love to read about great things people are doing because it is inspiring! But I've noticed that rather than inspiring me to be more of my own kind of greatness, I become distracted from that, wondering if I should be doing what they are doing, or kicking myself because I'm not doing what they are doing.

I was going to post links to some of those things but I don't want to.

Instead, here's a reminder for myself, even if it's only myself. For every great thing that I see others doing that I currently am not doing, or try to do but really struggle with, I know people that I love and admire that also do not have those qualities. Some of them are the very opposite of those qualities (like me), yet they are incredible people that have wonderful children and they should probably have already been translated, but thank goodness they haven't because then I couldn't love and admire them nearly as closely and easily. TA DA!!!

The lesson in all that is that I need to stop being distracted by everything I'm not doing. I was sent here with my own package of talents and my own mission to fulfill. Theirs is not mine, mine is not theirs. I need to be "distinct and different--in happy ways," not the same and discouraged. My family will be blessed when I'm working on those things, because then I WILL be feeling the "peace and joy" Sister Beck talked about, and will then share that with them.

I read the rest of her talk again and found some more especially applicable quotes.

"A good woman knows that she does not have enough time, energy, or opportunity to take care of all of the people or do all of the worthy things her heart yearns to do. Life is not calm for most women, and each day seems to require the accomplishment of a million things, most of which are important. A good woman must constantly resist alluring and deceptive messages from many sources... But with personal revelation, she can prioritize correctly and navigate this life confidently."

"Good women always have a desire to know if they are succeeding. In a world where the measures of success are often distorted, it is important to seek appreciation and affirmation from proper sources. To paraphrase a list found in Preach My Gospel, we are doing well when we develop attributes of Christ and strive to obey His gospel with exactness. We are doing well when we seek to improve ourselves and do our best. We are doing well when we increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and seek out and help others who are in need. We know we are successful if we live so that we qualify for, receive, and know how to follow the Spirit. When we have done our very best, we may still experience disappointments, but we will not be disappointed in ourselves. We can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when we feel the Spirit working through us. Peace, joy, and hope are available to those who measure success properly."

Thank you, Sister Beck!

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Challenge - General Conference

We had an INCREDIBLE general conference in April. I've told several people that I don't know why they even watched it, because I'm sure the prophet got a personal phone call and was told that every talk was to be written with me in mind. There was just so so much I needed to hear.

As soon as the audio was available online, I downloaded it all to my iPod and have spent many many middle of the night feedings listening to these great words of counsel. I even created a folder on it and tagged a bunch of them as "Better Mommy" talks so that when I need a boost in that area (truth be told, daily) I can go right there.

Unfortunately, I haven't seen a lot of talk online about things people learned from conference, myself included. I've started several posts on conference related topics but haven't finished them. So I want to send out a challenge to anyone interested. If there was a particular talk/theme/quote/anything/etc. from conference that has lifted you and made you better, I would love to hear about it. Feel free to do more than one even! I always get more out of the talks when I can discuss them with others.

If you'd like, post a link in the comments when you do so my other two readers can enjoy your thoughts as well.

Friday, May 14, 2010

We are the Staff

This is a song we've sang as a staff every year I've been to Wood Badge. I was going to share it with the staff I get to work with this year and went searching online to see if I had all the words right, but came up with nothing! I have no idea where the song came from, who wrote it, or where it started. But I thought I would get it online in case anyone else happened to go looking for it.


We are the staff of Gilwell Troop 1.
We do the work while you have the fun.
We answer questions by the score,
You stay up late to think up more.
We get up early, work hard all day.
You stay up late then come out to play.
What a gravy train you have,
At the expense of, at the expense of,
At the expense of staff!

I have no "this is to the tune of..." tips, so if you'd like to learn it as I learned it, get me your e-mail address and we'll work something out.

And for fun, a few Wood Badge staff pictures.

What can I say, they love me!

Launching water balloons

You can find me since I've got a blue cow blanket keeping the baby (then Erin) warm.

Always follow your Scoutmaster's example (staff jackets are inside out, hats on backwards).

I have no idea who this is...

...or this.

Maybe the flipped version of the "We are the Staff" song (sung towards the end of the week) is appropriate:

We are the staff of Gilwell Troop 1.
You do the work while we have the fun!
You answer questions by the score,
We stay up late to think up more.
You get up early, work hard all day.
We stay up late then come out to play.
What a gravy train we have
At the expense of, at the expense of,
At the expense of YOU!

I LOVE SCOUTING! With this being the 100 year anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America, I definitely need to write more about this. I believe it is an inspired program, designed to guide boys to becoming great men. Thankfully, I get to serve on another Wood Badge staff again this summer, where we train the scout leaders in leadership skills they can then take back to the boys.

Back to Gilwell!!!

Friday, May 7, 2010


Aimee Ray, author of "Doodle Stitching" (thanks again Cindi!) had a giveaway for a new book she's got a project in, and I won!

Check out my name in print (I feel so famous) and my "acceptance speech."

And by the way, she's coming out with another "Doodle Stitching" book in October. The instructions and designs in the first one are wonderful. Can't wait to see round 2.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Liken - David and Goliath

Blanche was climbing on her father's knee, begging for one of his Sunday stories.

The narration, in his low tones, roused [Ethel] from her mood of vexation. It was the story of David, which he told in language scriptural and poetical, so pretty and tender in its simplicity, that she could not choose but attend. Ever and anon there was a glance towards Harry, as if he were secretly likening his own "yellow haired laddied" to the "shepherd boy, ruddy, and of a fair countenance."

"So Tom and Blanche," he concluded, "can you tell me how we may be like the shepherd-boy, David?"

"There aren't giants now," said Tom.

"Wrong is a giant," said his little sister.

"Right, my white May-flower, and what then?"

"We are to fight," said Tom.

"Yes, and mind, the giant with all his armour may be some great thing we have to do: but what did David begin with when he was younger?"

"The lion and the bear."

"Aye, and minding his sheep. Perhaps little things, now you are little children, maybe be like the lion and the bear--so kill them them off--get rid of them--cure yourself of whining or dawdling, or whatever it be, and mind your sheep well," said he, smiling sweetly in answer to the children's earnest looks as they caught his meaning, "and if you do, you will not find it near so hard to deal with your great giant struggle when it comes."

Ah! thought Ethel, it suits me as well as the children. I have a great giant... and here I am, not allowed to attack him, because, perhaps, I am not minding my sheep, and letting my lion and my bear run loose about the house." (pp. 83-84)

[Ethel's] lion and bear . . . were the greatest hindrances to her doing anything good and great." (p. 87)

from "The Daisy Chain" by Mary Charlotte Yonge

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Marni Half a Brain

A few months ago Melanie told me something that I thought was incredibly clever.

"Mom, you should be extra smart right now because you have two brains!"

I praised her for great thinking, then explained that unfortunately, half the brain in my head slid down to the baby.

Upon giving birth, this has proven to be true, since I feel like I only have half a brain now.

I've decided that new mommy brain is far worse than preggo brain. I wonder how long it takes for those cells to regenerate... if they do. I think they do, because I remember feeling significantly smarter than I do right now about 10 months ago.

Thank goodness we have plenty of books in my current reading level around here right now, like Hat by Paul Hoppe and a few Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems (we love anything Mo Willems).

Thursday, April 8, 2010


We discovered some ultra super amazingly fun storytelling CDs recently by Willy Claflin. Go right now to your library website and put them on hold.

First we checked out "Uglified Ducky," which I guess is a book as well. The library didn't have the book so I tried the CD. I would still like to read the book sometime, but Mr. Claflin, I mean Maynard Moose, tells it so well that I'm not sure the story would be as good. Though I'm sure the pictures would be fun.

We enjoyed Uglified Ducky so much during our next library trip we had to get the three others they have:

Maynard Moose: Sleeping Beastly and Other Tales
Maynard Moose Tales
The Wolf Under the Bed

Warning #1: Rocky Raccoon sings a song about eating sugar all the time. "When your soul starts to sag, open up yourself a 10 pound bag." So if your children want to try everything they see/hear or if you are religiously opposed to sugar even in jest, skip that one.

Warning #2: Maynard Moose is a very creative speaker, using works like uglified, bandridged (bandaged), demember (remember). We thought it was cool and funny, but thought I would throw that out in case you think you wouldn't.

Warning #3: With these playing in your car, your children might be more distracted by the songs and stories than by which of their siblings is touching them, looking at them, looking out their window, etc. Again I find this a bonus, but realize that some enjoy sibling interaction in all its varieties.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Adorable, Even If I Do Say So Myself

I have to send out a huge thanks to my amazing friend, Kathryn. She came over last week and took some beautiful pictures of our baby girl. Today she surprised us by dropping off a stack of pictures and a CD. It's nice to have friends with talent.

Speaking of which, we've had some superbly delicious dinners brought over as well. I have a lot of future dinners to make to help pass on all the kindness.

Monday, March 22, 2010

And the Award Goes To...

While I was hanging out at the hospital, calling for room service and getting my toenails painted (seriously gals, I know the hospital to deliver at), I was tumbling blog post ideas through my head. Then I came home and reality hit, so it hasn't exactly been top priority. Almost a week ago I was told it was high time my new little friend was introduced on my blog, so here she is!

Madeleine Anne was born March 11 at 12:59pm. She weighed in at a perfectly average 7 lbs. 5 oz. and 20 inches long. Her family all thinks she is above averagely beautiful.

During my hospital stay I had several favorites I wanted to give kudos to, so here they are.

Favorite Doctor: The lovely and talented Dr. Sharon Fillerup (yes, you read that right). She delivered all four of the girls, and has even changed some of their nasty first diapers and attended blessings and birthday parties. The kids call her Aunt Sharon. We love you!

Favorite Visitors: Most definitely the other kids! They were so excited to meet the new baby, and they found out it was a girl when they arrived at the hospital. Those who wanted a brother quickly forgot about that and fell fiercely in love with her.

Favorite Picture: This is what I meant by that last comment.

Favorite Compliment: From the anesthesiologist after the epidural, "You have a really skinny back!" After all, he sees a lot of backs, right? Speaking of which...

Favorite Drug: I love you Epidural. Labor is such a beautiful thing as soon as you arrive.

Favorite Movie: "Pure Luck" with Martin Short and Danny Glover. Thank you for coming out on DVD just in time!

Favorite Dodge: Not going to the "How to Take Care of Your New Baby" class. Hello, I've done this already. Scrub the head, take care of the cord, feed them, change them. Did I miss anything?

Favorite Hospital Service: Our hospital now has a salon inside, and offers a free spa service to all new moms! The choices included a haircut, style, manicure, pedicure, and facial. For the facial and pedicure they do it right in your room, so I chose the pedicure. Wonderful, wonderful!

Favorite Meal: The "candlelight" dinner (with no candlelight) with Jamie, provided by the hospital for the new parents.

Favorite Support Person: My wonderful husband, before, during, and after. Before baby when my body needed a break on the couch, he would take over. During labor he would constantly check to make sure I was okay and had what I needed. Since Madeleine was born he's made pretty much every meal, done the dishes, ran kids where they needed to be... and is the cutest daddy ever with his new little girl.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1....

Time is running short for this bout of baby creation. The doc is back in town (she took a couple weeks "off" to do humanitarian surgeries in Africa), so at 39 weeks tomorrow, anytime baby decides he/she is ready, I'm more than ready to oblige.

Loving the little kicks and love taps (and yes, even the future soccer/football player ones) while I can. That's something I always miss - having a little friend rolling around inside, giving me secret hellos everywhere I go. All the aches, pains, and fatigue are worth it in the end.

Can't wait to be done with maternity clothes, though. Still repairing, though I decided some are beyond that and are already retired. Jamie suggested using the pants for a jean quilt sometime. I think that will be a worthy tribute. About anytime I'm home anymore I'm in pajama pants, both for comfort and to slow wear and tear on the jeans.

Looking forward to being able to think clearly and in complete thoughts again one of these days. Really looking forward to sleeping on my tummy again. Every time I see Jamie reading that way I send him a glare even if he doesn't see it. So rude.

He does redeem himself, though. I'm so grateful for my wonderful husband. He takes care of things when I need to love the couch for a while, taking over dinner, making sure dishes are done, and letting the other littles watch videos next to him while he's trying to work. He hasn't even made any wisecracks about my size for a while. I'm excited to be sharing the special time at the hospital with him for the sixth time. I love that those are memories only he and I share. (Along with the doctor and however many nurses, med students, etc. that happen to show up.)

Our favorite labor and delivery flick, "Pure Luck," even finally came out on DVD, just in time! I hadn't seen it before, but when I was in labor with Adam either the hospital had it or Jamie went and rented it. After that it became a tradition when we could find it.

My body is having fun practicing for all the excitement. I keep telling it it's fine to go into labor on its own, sending lots of happy labor inducing vibes. It hasn't worked for any of the other kids, so I'm not holding out too much hope.

One final thought - I need to write things down more. I don't have a lot written about the different deliveries, but it's definitely a topic that comes up quite often when a bunch of women get together. As soon as it starts I need to pull out pencil and paper, because all of their memories get mine going, and pretty soon I would have quite a bit written down. I thought of that all on my own just last night - preggo brain and all.

Come on baby! We're ready to get to know you!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Maternity Clothes are Revolting

Does anyone really like wearing maternity clothes? Try as you may, they really are not very flattering. I've had comments from people telling me how cute I look, but I know it's not true. There was a time maybe, but at over 8 months pregnant I think I'm beyond the cute stage and have most definitely moved onto the "wow, you look miserable" stage. About a month ago I had someone act surprised when I told them I'm expecting. Hello, I'm not stupid.

While I'm always happy to be done with maternity clothes and move back to the real deal, this time it's different. My maternity clothes are revolting against me. I'm not sure how to take this turn of events. Can they do that? I must say that with all this belly sticking out I'm surprised I haven't created any holes in my shirts, but the pants, oh the pants. One pair is quickly wearing a hole a few inches above the knee, though I haven't figured out why or how in such a spot (it's worse now than when I took this picture).

Another pair is getting holes and runs galore in the stretchy panel.

I made some fabulous repairs, and within a week I have another gaping hole.

I'm feeling a lot more gratitude for them and all I ask them to do. More humble knowing that if they choose to totally fail me I won't have many options left, especially since I am NOT buying any more at this point. In light of all that...

Dear Maternity Pants,

I know I complain about you. I know that with 4 weeks to go I've been weighing more than I have at delivery every other time. I know that I've asked you to snuggle around me and 2.9 babies now [bought while pregnant with baby #4]. I know I keep joking that I'm going to start wearing sweats or PJs everywhere I go, but I really don't want to. I do love jeans. Yes, even if they have stretchy panels on them. I don't want to look slobby everywhere I go. Can you please please please hold together for just a few more weeks? I promise to give you a very well-deserved break after that. After all, think of all the sweetness you get to wrap that stretchy panel around.


(All ready to take to the hospital - girl outfit and blankie in case it's a girl, boy outfit and blankie in case it's a boy.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Who Do You Think I Am Typealyzer?

I'm up way too late but I just saw a link to this site,, that analyzes the "personality" of your blog. How luring is that? Here's the analysis for mine, let me know what you think.

The analysis indicates that the author of is of the type:

ESFP - The Performers

The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

The enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.

It even includes this nifty graphic which supposedly displays the dominant parts of my brain that I use while writing this blog. I call it, "My Brain on Blogs." According to them, apparently I don't think enough, which in reality, I always feel like I think way too much about what I post here, before and after.

Does it fit me? I'll save my opinion.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

See Mom Clean

See the mom. See the tired mom. See the tired mom with the big tummy. See the dirty kitchen. Mom is cleaning and cleaning the dirty kitchen.

See the two girls. Little energetic girls. Mom sees the two girls. Mom sees the dirty floor. "Two girls can clean the dirty floor," thinks Mom.

"Here, girls. See the dirty floor. See the sponges. Clean the floor," says Mom.

"Okay Mom!" say the girls. Girls get the sponges. Girls get some water. Girls clean the floor. Mom is clever. Mom is happy! Mom keeps cleaning the kitchen.

Girls see the ultra concentrated dish soap. "Soap will make the floor more clean! Soap and bubbles will make cleaning the floor more fun!" Girls put lots of ultra concentrated dish soap in the water.

"See Mom! Cleaning is fun!"

"Yes, girls, yes. Cleaning is fun!" Mom is so clever. Mom is happy.

Girls keep scrubbing. Cleaning is fun with lots of bubbles!

"Help Mom! Lots of bubbles are hard to clean up!"

"Oh girls! Look! Look! Too much soap! Much too much soap!"

See the mom. See the mom on the floor. See the mom cleaning much too much soap and bubbles off the floor. See the mom rinsing the sponges. See the mom rinsing rags. Over and over and over again. Much too much soap!

See the girls. See the happy girls. We helped! Off to play! See the mom, rinsing and rinsing lots of soap off the floor. Silly Mommy! Mommy LOVES to clean! The same spots over and over. Lots more floor to clean. Another day.

Will mom ever learn?

Friday, January 29, 2010


Feels like it's longer than it really has been since I said hello here. My excuse? Let's see, I could pull this one again and say I'm too focused creating elsewhere. That is actually very true, and not even in the preggo sense (though that too!).

The homeschool group Adam is involved with on Thursdays reads then discusses one book a month. I was asked to lead the discussion in November on the book "Little Britches," which I highly recommend and would be happy to lend out to anyone that gets in line (the two copies we own are checked out right now). Leading the discussion means putting together questions for them to think about as they read so they come ready to talk about the book. Everyone up to that point had passed out a list of questions on a sheet of paper. But when I got handed this I went into ultra over-achiever mode and made this great tri-fold bookmark, complete with questions and lines to answer the questions. Handy because it was always with the book! I've done two more since then ("Boy in the Striped Pajamas" and "The Whipping Boy"), and it looks like I will probably be making those whether I'm in charge of the discussion or not.

I was also asked to help publish the assignments (termed "inspirements" since they can pick and choose from a list rather than a set requirement) for the kids each month. Again, over-achiever mode kicked in, and rather than just creating your basic list, I turned it into a whole newsletter, complete with dates they need to remember, the selections they are memorizing, and a couple of articles, all jazzed up and perdy. Just passed out the second newsletter Thursday.

So that's kept me busy "creating."

Reading "The Element" helped me see that creativity and imagination are used everywhere. I started a whole post on that that I never finished, but it's fun to notice now the kinds of things my creativity kicks in for.

On top of all that:
* I'm also the scout committee chair now. I'm so excited about that, but I've been working on getting myself organized and trained.
* I'm helping coach Adam's mock trial team, which thankfully will have both their competitions done in just over a month.
* I'm gearing up to teach a writing class for Adam's Thursday group, which I'm expecting to be a blast for them and me.
* And all the regulars - wife, mother, teacher, etc. etc. (you know what I mean)

Why be bored when there are so many great things to be doing?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Jolly Old Me

Every time I've been pregnant I've noticed that I laugh a lot more heartily. I feel a lot more "jolly" all around.

While pregnant with my first, my brother told me he'd decided that to ensure I would have a happy baby, I need to laugh for one whole minute straight. With his antics I easily complied (I think he laughed just so I would laugh).

I think about that when I get a great laugh in while I'm pregnant--just working on making a happy baby. It's got to be good for the stomach muscles too, right?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dissonance and Harmony

I bought a book at the DI a few months ago called "I Didn't Plan to be a Witch: A Guide for Frustrated Mothers Everywhere" by Linda Eyre. It's been in my car ever since for those stuck-waiting-with-nothing-to-do moments, but it's only been opened a couple of times because either I don't wait enough or I always have something to do while I wait.

I got to wait for a bit today, for Jamie and my dad to meet me for a lunch date. Since each chapter is a shortish essay on some aspect of parenting, I glanced through the table of contents, saw one on sibling rivalry, and decided that was the chapter to read. The lesson is good enough to share.

Bach was a genius at putting together chords and establishing new rules to create complex, rich music. Bach used many methods to make his compositions moving and creative, one of which as dissonance. Over and over again, through passing tons and intentional "wrong" notes, he created a brief, uneasy feeling. Most interesting of all was the relief he could make the listener feel through the resolution of the dissonance.

Bach was a master at resolving the dissonance in his music in wonderful ways--sometimes in predictable ways; other times in creative, new ways. A man known for his "well-tempered clavichord," Bach spent a lifetime establishing music as "well-tempered."

So should be our own households. I hope you have a sigh of relief as you realize that dissonance is necessary to contrast with and resolve into harmony. Dissonance actually makes life more interesting. It helps us grow and progress. The important thing is how we resolve the dissonance. If we do it right, a feeling of even more harmony results, whereas the wrong resolution can cause even greater feelings of anxiety.

Think of a recent example of dissonance in your home and decide whether the dissonance was resolved to create harmony or more dissonance.

She shares an example from her home when a daughter wanted to have a friend sleepover, and because of the previous sleepover her answer was a quick "NO." Of course her daughter was upset and complained. Though her answer was final, she had created more dissonance and decided to put herself in her daughter's shoes. Before the daughter left for school, Mrs. Eyre offered a different solution that they were both happy with, which resulted in greater "harmony" between the two of them. She continues:

Dissonance is a part of life. Whether it's only a passing note or a big, out-of-shape chord, we need to expect it, even anticipate it, and sometimes think about resolutions in advance. Other times, we just need to keep working at it until it feels right. Remember: interesting dissonance makes a greater harmony!

I'm sure it's unbelievable (cough cough) to most of you out there, but we do have our fair share of dissonance in our home. It was refreshing that she didn't give some magic trick, saying that it's possible to entirely get rid of dissonance, but instead called it a "part of life." It's even better to know that through dissonance, the harmony can be even more refreshing and beautiful.

Something to think about! It's got my mind back on those great conductors, evaluating again how I can be a better conductor.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Wonderful When They Play Nice

Just have to document a few recent wonderful kid moments. With everyone going stir crazy (spring - come soon!!), patience can be harder to find around here these days.

Here's Adam working on indoctrinating Erin into hunting.

The other three had been assigned to one of Adam's animal calls, and when they heard their call, they were supposed to come in to be hunted.

I'm not sure what got this going, but I walked into the frontroom to Sammy's giggling. Carolyn was hugging all of him to make him happy. She hugged his feet, then his legs, then his tummy, his hands, and arms, and neck, and nose (with her hand wrapped around it), and his head.

Tonight at bedtime Sammy told her, "Make me happy again tomorrow, okay?"

"I promise, you guys. Your friends won't always be around, but your brothers and sisters will always be your brothers and sisters!"

Project 1

With church starting at 1:00pm now, it already feels like there's a lot more hanging around time in the morning. I'm not much of a "hanging around" kind of person, and got itching to do something different. I mentioned a handbag I started sewing a couple of posts ago and was thinking about continuing that, but I got looking through a sewing projects book I've got, found a different handbag that was also a really cute style and looked to be pretty easy, and decided to just be crazy and go for it.

I didn't finish it in time for church, but it was done by that night.

Aren't I amazing? :) I didn't pay too much attention to how big it was going to turn out, and was pleased that it was perfect scripture size.

Maybe the book title, "Bend the Rules Sewing," helped me live a bit on the edge. I created the pocket all by myself, and even made a pencil pocket on each side.

All in all, a fun and easy project to start out that New Year's resolution with. Now my little girls are asking when I'm going to make a bag for them.

* Yes Kathryn, I copied the title from you. :)
* Lara - I sewed straight!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

There's a Difference, Eh?

I've said two things in the past that came together in my mind today.

1. "This book is so great I read it in a day!"
2. "This book is so great I'm only halfway through!" (This said after working on it for a couple of weeks or longer.)

There's a difference, eh?

On the flip side, the same thing could be said for books you're not enjoying, just maybe a little different.

1. "This book is so terrible I'm just going to race through it."
2. "This book is so terrible it's taking me forever to read."


Friday, January 1, 2010

Looking at 2010

I guess it's that time of year again! Well first, I must say how great it feels that I accomplished my "learn to make bread" goal last year. Exciting when I start a goal like that at the beginning of the year and by September, be teaching a class to others about it. I love the feel of the dough, and enjoy trying new bread recipes.

This year I'm going to stick with the homemakey theme. I really want to learn more about sewing, try some different projects, and see how that goes. I have a great machine that really should be put to better use, and sewing is in my heritage, so in a way I feel like it's something I should do to honor that. To report, I already started something new and already messed it up in the cutting process. It was a really basic pattern to draw out, and I read part of it as 6" long while it was supposed to be 9" long (sideways pattern piece, easy mistake). So looks like I'll be making a smaller cute handbag for one of the little girls. Too bad I cut a bunch of extra 6" long pieces trying to be on top of things.

Reading-wise, I'm not going to plan the same way I did last year. I thought it would be nice to have a list to check off from, but after making the list I learned about many books I either didn't know about then, or it was just the right time to read them. Things like "Do Hard Things," "Circle of Quiet," "Here, There Be Dragons," "Hunger Games," and "Catching Fire." So I think I'll be smarter this year and just throw out a number. I'm going to say 40 knowing I've got a baby on the way, but that will actually probably help the cause since babies make me sit more and I usually have a book in hand while feeding.

I also want to do more Book of Mormon study. Not read-straight-through kind of stuff, but jumping around, studying to know it better.

And one more - lose weight. Most people think I'm kidding when I say that, but I'm to the I'm-going-to-be-pregnant-till-the-end-of-forever point. Sick of maternity clothes, sick of feeling like I can't move. And I still have 2 1/2 months left. I think it hit earlier this time than it has in the past. I saw a pair of my pre-preggo jeans the other day and was thinking how nice it will be to wear them again, when I realized I still had more time to wear maternity clothes than I've already been wearing them. It was a depressing thought. But, I expect we'll be jumping back into the full swing of life soon and *hopefully* the time will go back to flying. Or I should just enjoy this time to slow down and take it easy. But that is so not me.

This morning I told the kids our baby will be born THIS YEAR, and February 1st I can say the baby will be born NEXT MONTH, so bit by bit we'll get there.

And there we go for 2010!

Christmas in Review

Parent/In-Law Gifts - Always hard, right? Which is one of the reasons I'm passing on these ideas. See, I'm nice like that. I went to a class in September(?) on good inexpensive Christmas gifts taught by the lovely and talented Heidi (currently the mother with the most children in our ward, soon to be tied by me). One of the things she talked about is making a Memory Lane game, an idea she found in Family Fun magazine. I knew I had to do it, and had all kinds of great plans for getting it done right away. But since this is me we're talking about, I didn't start until 3 days before Christmas. It made it more difficult since while the article has lots of great putting-it-together tips, the pictures aren't that great of the actual board, and there aren't many suggested questions. I changed up the game a little bit and created three question categories, and am more than happy to share those. This is how our game turned out:

We played this Christmas Day with some of the family and had a great time.

For my in-laws, I stole an idea my sis-in-law has done for my parents the past two years and made a grandkids book through I put it together with a page of pictures and a page of questions/answers for each of their grandkids. It wasn't finished in time to be delivered before Christmas, but it arrived a couple days ago, we gave it to them today, and it was a hit.

For the Kids - This year my focus was all about not buying crap. Things that the kids would be bored of playing with three days after Christmas, or that would just be more "stuff" hanging around to deal with and store. I did a lot of online shopping (yay amazon) and found things that I feel fit each of them and would help strengthen their creativity and talents. They were all happy with their gifts, so I guess it worked.

Family Games - We got some great new family games for Christmas this year. By far the favorite is Blokus. We've also played Banangrams several times, tried out Baffle Gab last night during our New Year's Eve fun, and still have a couple others to try out (Hyper Dash and Perquackey).

My late New Year's Eve is quickly catching up with me so I'm going to end this and try to finish up my next post.