Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Here is my Guest Post

Here is the post that I wrote for Heidi Poppins:


I have stopped listening to "The Christmas Station" on the radio. I used to love to turn it on in the background to help me get into a Christmas-sy mood--but now it just enrages me, so I leave it off.

There is a simple explanation (and no, it is not my hormones making me madder than David Banner on a bad day!). It is that some of the greatest music ever written is about the birth of the Christ Child--and very, very little of that great music is played on the radio. Instead, we are subjected to the worst twaddle of the twentieth century (and yes, I am referring to Wham's nausea inducing "classic" "Last Christmas" or the electronic saccharine of "Do They Know It's Christmas").

Apparently 1984 was the bottom of the barrel, song-wise--except that was the year that Mark Lowry wrote the words to "Mary Did You Know" (although it took another six years for someone to set it to music).

In this song, the author, Mark Lowry cites a laundry list of disabilities and sorrows that the Savior miraculously healed. Most of us know or have interacted with people who were blind, deaf, crippled or lamed in one way or another. When I was young I wondered if being "dumb" or mute still existed, because I had never met or even heard of someone who was mute. Very few people have.

Now I am the mother of one.

Partially the reason we don't hear about it is that the name has changed. Now it is called being "non-verbal"--which is actually more accurate. My daughter can not speak, but she is FAR from being the silent creature that the word "mute" implies, and, while she has neurological and developmental issues, no one who has ever met her would consider her "dumb". Also, it is statistically quite rare.

However, that doesn't change the fact that she doesn't speak. I have never heard her say "mama" or tell someone her name or how old she is. She can’t tell me where it hurts, or what she is thinking about. I would give anything to understand what is going on in her head, what she wants and how she feels.

Which is why listening to "Mary Did You Know" invariably reduces me to tears, especially when it is sung (perfectly) by Kathy Mattea.

This song is not only beautiful, reverent and thought provoking, but when she sings (at 2:07) that "the dumb will speak the praises of the Lamb" I am reminded that the true meaning of Christmas is the birth of Him who heals all sorrows, including my non-verbal child. I know that someday, my funny, loving, adorable daughter will look into her Savior’s face and "sing his praises".


So, instead of listening to the radio, I made myself a playlist on YouTube, so I can listen to the truly great music of the ages .

May you have a wonderful, joy filled Christmas--and may you be aware of the miracles that you take for granted every day.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I got to write a guest post!

I am really excited! I was asked to write a guest post for my friend Heidi over at Heidi Poppins. She is doing a Christmas post each day in December--and just like real life, some are memories(the beautiful kind as well as the funny ones!) some are traditions and some are new things to discover. Check them out each day!

True Learning

Our society has an extremely narrow view of what "learning" is, and where and how "learning" takes place. How much of the lessons you learned sitting in a classroom are a vital part of you, of the things you use everyday? How many of the things you learned in a non-classroom setting are a part of you?

I know quite a few people who learned to read before they started formal schooling, and then got in trouble with their teachers because they A) "weren't supposed to know how to do that yet" or B) were bored with the little sissy books they had to read, and read books that were "higher than their grade level".

I love the freedom to let my children learn to love learning. Wonderful books do not need to be classified by "grade level", "reading level" or other systems. I do feel that some books are too advanced or difficult for younger children ( from my own personal experience as an extremely precocious reader). That is one of the great benefits of reading 9and discussing together)the books your children read. The other blessing is being introduced to the amazing children's and young adult authors that are working right now.

In my opinion, there is FAR more creativity, cleverness and good writing happening in the "young adult" market than in the "adult" section. Check it out!

Friday, December 16, 2011

BigGirl is getting better. She mostly slept all day yesterday, but she was able to keep liquids down and eventually ate (and kept down) some saltines. While I am happy that she isn't contagious, and we won't have some horrible virus running through the house for Christmas, I REALLY wish we could find out what is going on that makes her body do this. It is not right for someone who is 5' 8" and 150 (skinny) pounds to lose 15 pounds in 3 days. It is really not right that it keeps reoccurring.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I found an old post

For the end of the year, I am doing a little "housecleaning" and posting some blogs I wrote but never got posted.

Here is one from when I was cleaning out files on my computer and found this Easter post (I am not sure what year, but I think it was 2009 (and I honestly don't remember these events, which just goes to show the importance of journaling!):


Easter Highlights: SmallDaughter begged and begged for me to open a package of marshmallow Peeps. When I gave her one, she refused to eat it--she just wanted to pet the little yellow chick!

LargeBoy ate the ears and top of the head off of his hollow chocolate bunny, then gave it a cool whip "brain" and did some disgusting zombie things.


Everybody enjoyed the traditional egg hunt, where Grandma P hides the eggs--which I will be finding in the yard for the rest of the year!

Ralph, Chuck & Earl...

I haven't been blogging lately. I have been baking cookies like I am making up for the last 5 Christmases that were...lame-ish (at least in the baked goods department). I did my Christmas shopping, and can officially state that I have avoided the mall this holiday season--YAY!

I have been taking care of my poor BigGirl, who puked every hour for 20 straight hours, and sporadically after that. The doctors do not seem concerned. I am. She had this back in April and was throwing up on and off for 10 days. I think it is part of a bigger problem.

I am really excited that I was asked to be a guest blogger! I will give you the link after it is published.

Life is (as usual, but even more during the holidays) an interesting mix of deep sorrow and great joy for people I love. I am praying for the people who are experiencing both.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Homesick for a land I've never been to

I have been pondering lots of spiffy blog posts in my head, but I have been too darn busy to write them down--and then I forget most of them.

I recently read the sequel to one of my all time favorite books "Anything Can Happen" by George and Helen Papashvily. It is a charming little book* (literally--because it was published during WWII while there was paper rationing, the hardbound book is only a little larger than the size of a paperback) which I found at a library book sale in my early teens. George was a natural storyteller, and this delightful autobiography of his adventures of coming to the US from Georgia (near Russia, not the state of the US) influenced my life for ever after. I just found that he wrote (in his book "Home and Home Again") about his return to visit his home village in Georgia after 40 years in the US.

Reading his books makes me homesick for a place I have never been to--and, because of the political instability in Georgia (which, for those who are not totally up to date on their former Soviet countries, is located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe--bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan) I probably never will.



Which is a shame, because I would LOVE to visit a country with over 9000 years of history! It is one of the oldest countries in the world, which has retained its own culture, language and traditions in spite of being smack in the middle of the territory everybody else wanted--which brought about hundreds of invasions.



Ahh, well--I am a great armchair traveler, and Google Maps has made it even more fun!

*and because it was a bestseller and book of the month selection, it isn't very hard to find a copy--the reissued 1984 paperback lists on amazon for .40!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

This pretty well sums up our Family Portrait Session

Thanksgiving

We had a lovely Thanksgiving. We got to go to both family dinners. We left LargeBoy at his Grandma & Grandpa W's house to play with the boy cousins, and have a sleepover. Then, we left BigGirl to have a sleepover with BigCousin on the other side. We saw cousins that we don't get to see very often, and it was wonderful!

We have so much to be thankful for. I personally LOVE to have light, heat and hot water so easily--any time, as much as I want! A miracle. I am surrounded by the love and support of wonderful family and friends.

I am so truly blessed.

Monday, November 14, 2011

WOOT!

I am so SUPER PROUD of my "little" sisters! They both decided what they wanted to do with their lives--what would give them deep soul joy, every day, and they went back to school and worked very hard (while taking care of many little children, hubby, church responsibilities, social lives, etc.) and last week THEY GRADUATED! WITH HONORS!





This is the first official graduation either of them have had, since they both chose to be entirely schooled at home. I have known the painful lesson of the oldest child for many years--everything I did right, my younger siblings took, and improved upon. (It is like having the gold medal from the 1920 Olympics--yeah, that record has been obliterated since then!) They are much better than I am, and I love to see how wonderfully they have turned out.

Monday, October 31, 2011

WooHoo!--Now with pictures!

I haven't been able to post for two reasons: 1) I have been attempting to dig out of the more chaotic than usual chaos that the kitchen rebuild created, to get ready for a Halloween party here, which leads to 2) I didn't want to leak the surprise that we had in the works--a surprise for my dad who faithfully reads this blog!

For a couple of months we sisters have been planning for SisterM & HubbyO to come from the Bronx with their cutie boys, and for SisterA & HubbyA (and SisterR!) to come from Indianapolis with their cutie girls, and have a great Halloween party at my house. And the sneaky bit--we didn't tell Grandpa they were coming, we just set it up so that he would be in charge of handing out the candy, and every one of the Trick-or-Treaters who showed up would be his grandkids (or kids).

Everything was going great. The plans were in place, Grandma had been enlisted to get him here on time--and to give us a heads up when they left, so we could get everybody stashed at the other location (so they would be able to surprise him).
The boys who couldn't be here (BrotherN & WifeS in California, BrotherB & WifeM in Pennsylvania, BrotherE in Utah and BrotherR in Virginia) were scheduled to Skype or call during the party. We were very excited to have more than half of the family together--5 out of nine siblings!

M&O were scheduled to arrive around midnight on Fri, so BigGirl and I were staying up to finish the cleaning. I was so tired that I was just about to take a little nap on the couch, when headlights pulled in, so we ran out to see the cutie babies--except there were no babies--just awesome BrotherR, and his good friend S, who had made the 9 hour drive from Virginia! Much happy shrieking happened at that point!

Shortly thereafter, there were more headlights and sure enough, it WAS the cutie babies, with their cute mommy & daddy AND BrotherE! They had picked him up from the airport as the ultimate surprise! WOOT!!!



In total, we ended up with 7 out of the 9 siblings! And it was (as always!) hilarious! Didn't get to bed until 2:00am. Worth it.

On Friday, we got ready for the party, and had actual (technically unrelated, but well loved) party guests here, when finally it was time for the surprise part. We sent everybody "unexpected" down the block to the library, where they got into their costumes, and waited for the signal. We decided that they would arrive in "order of unexpectedness".



IT WAS AWESOME!







"Do my eyes deceive me? Can it really be?"




Yes--it really is!

My favorite part (besides the look on Grandpa's face!), was the fact that he didn't seem to catch the pattern--that every single one of the Trick-or-Treaters who showed up were his progeny! It was classic!

After the surprising part, we had a massive pumpkin carving festival, played some awesome games, and talked and laughed until 2:00am. Worth it.




(this kind of nonsense is what happens when you let the uncles loose with the pumpkins!)


Grandpa prepares to show the young'uns "how it's done!"




In Church yesterday, our family took up the first 3 rows in the Chapel. The Bishop announced that all the Anderson's were officially welcome to move back--it was great! After Church, we had a Soup and Bread (and Chili & Baked Potato) supper together before people had to leave.

I am so grateful for a family that I don't just love--I like--thoroughly enjoy them! We have so much fun together--and we always have. The blessings of the gospel radiate through our lives, making everything so much better, and I am (possibly) the most blessed person on earth.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The light at the end of the tunnel--possibly!

The chaos is slowly beginning to ebb. I came up with a brilliant plan for putting all the stuff away in the new kitchen cupboards. First I mapped out the old cupboards, and listed everything they had in them. Then I made a map of the new cupboards, and a list of all the items, and, using old fashioned cut and paste, I made a new map of where everything will go, and posted it on the fridge. Then (here's the brilliant part!) I labelled every cupboard, so everyone knows what is supposed to go into it--and my big children have been putting stuff away--even when I am not here!

Monday, October 10, 2011

I am SO busy, and I have such a huge to do list crying out for every second of my time, but my friend Miss K (Oh wait, I already have a Miss K--what do I do when I have 2 friends with the same initial? Alright, we will just call her Miss Kitty, and the original Miss K gets to keep initial rights!) Miss Kitty dragged me out to have fun in the incredibly beautiful fall weather--and boy did we ever!

Specifically, at the Renaissance Festival! They have a permanent "village" set up which really adds to the atmosphere.

Of course we dressed up! When she asked if I would want to go with her to the festival, I asked if she would be interested in dressing up, and she responded "why do you think I asked you out of all the people I know in Ohio?" So we did--but just as peasants, because we only had 2 days to plan and I couldn't really sew very much, so most of it just came out of the costume box(es!).

LargeBoy got an ocarina as his "so sorry you had to stay home and help the Boy Scouts with the Popcorn Fundraiser instead of going to the Ren Fair" gift. He has already developed some serious ocarina skills! It came with two little books of music--one of lullaby's and simple songs, and the other with "geek favorites" like Star Wars, Harry Potter and Zelda music. Guess which one he prefers! (HINT: Harry Potter sounds really great on the ocarina!)

BigGirl also got something awesome--but you must hold onto your curiosity until the big reveal at the end of the month--since hers is now an integral part of her Halloween costume!

SmallDaughter just got to ride a bunch of rides. She enjoyed trying on the princess hats, but wouldn't hold still for a picture and told me no when I asked if she wanted one. So--just rides!

So much fun that I am still recovering! I will post pix when I get them from Miss Kitty's camera!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

So Bright!

Today, BigGirl and I (with a little help from BG's friend Miss B) finished the applying the primer to all the gross green stuff in the kitchen. I just walked in there, and I can't believe how bright it is! How non-oppressive! Wow!

I can't wait until we get the actual paint applied tomorrow! Woohoo!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I got the pictures off the camera!

Stand by, we are currently experiencing technical difficulties!

The "Before" pictures keep loading as pix of my parents yard and my brother, which are nice, but not helpful.


So, skipping directly into the project:
Here is a super fast journey of where we started and where we are now.

We will focus on the back wall, step by step:


Removing the cabinets and cupboards, and revealing the cracked, nasty plaster below.


Removing the plaster! To quote my dad: "Don't force it--just get a bigger hammer!"


After we took off the plaster, then we had to take off the lathe (one at a time, and pull every !@#$%^&* nail), then we had to remove all of the nasty shredded paper insulation (the gray stuff that is visible between some of the studs--also the fluff that is on the camera lens in some shots!)


Putting up the Tyvek moisture barrier, and the wiring (which is not exciting to look at, but wonderful for me!


INSULATION!


DRYWALL! Ironically, the "greenboard" (which is moisture and mold resistant) is almost exactly the same weird shade as the trim (and the dining room).


Cupboards!

The rest of the pix seem to have disappeared into the ether, so...stay tuned!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Just LOVE this!

Check out this AWESOME site! I love the idea behind it, and I love the content she has found!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wednesday's update

Today we:

got the long counter, the sink, the disposal and the microwave/vent hood installed. I have a stove, a fridge and a sink that all work (although the water pressure has gone all wonky)! All of this on top of a beyond belief gorgeous floor. All of the cupboards and counters on the west (back) wall are in.

The arrangement is the same, with sink and stove where they used to be--but now the sink is awesome, and there is a dishwasher between them!

I am still trying to figure out how to get the pictures off the camera onto the computer. I used to know how to do this--what happened to my brain?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Construction Update

This just in:

3 walls
1 floor

Yes, indeed! After letting LargeBoy, LargeBoy's bestie and BigGirl go to town on the old plaster walls with sledgehammers, we got the old stuff including: 1) plaster mess, 2) Lathe mess & 3) Shredded Paper Insulation mess--all cleaned up, and smooth new drywall installed! YAY! Not only do the new walls have Tyvek wrap and fiberglass insulation (on their insides) they also have MANY new electrical outlets and entirely new breakers! Woohoo! (No wind blowing my hair back THIS winter!) WOOHOO!

And the new floor?

I could just sing! It is SO BEAUTIFUL! It is the hardest bamboo flooring I could find (so hard the pneumatic nail gun couldn't get the nails all the way through, and I had to set them all by hand. Not fun--but worth it!) It is golden and glowing, and Light Years better than the horrible old floor.

Today we hope to get the cupboards and sink installed and the disposal hooked up--then I get to paint everything!

I am so happy (in the midst of SUCH CHAOS!)

Monday, September 12, 2011

More chaos than usual

Those who know me well would be surprised to know that it was even possible to have more chaos than usual. But, let me assure you--it is.

Anyone who has ever cooked (or even been in!) my kitchen has said something along the lines of "If I ever win the lottery, I am redoing your kitchen!"

The kitchen does have some flaws.

There are the functionality flaws:


*It is very small--think "Galley Kitchen"
*No dishwasher.
*A 1950's era single sink.
*Cracks in the lathe and plaster on the back wall (the wall that faces the prevailing winter winds) means that during all the long winter months, every time you open a drawer or cupboard, you get a breeze stiff enough to blow your hair around--no joke.

Then there are the design/aesthetic flaws:


*Rusty metal 1950's era metal cupboards and counters (I like the functionality of them--I am just not a fan of the rust--and honestly the long cupboard that spent decades in the basement does look like it has a fairly advanced case of leprosy.)
*The Vent Hood From Hades (seriously--so ugly, it doesn't work, it collects greasy dirt the way Lady Gaga collects crazy, it sticks WAY out and it is at the perfect height to bash all of our heads against it).
*Horrible gray asphalt tile floor with big (dirt holding) spaces between the tiles.
*Horrible floor was redecorated by SmallDaughter.
*Decorating by the crazy woman who lived here before us--did I mention the algae colored paint that clashes with the '80's green and cream plaid wallpaper?


Well--the good news is--you don't have to win the lottery for me to get a new kitchen!!

We are working on it RIGHT NOW!

My awesome hubby surprised me with it, and my dad is doing the supervising (and the lions share of the work). We went shopping last week and have TONS of supplies ALL OVER EVERYWHERE. Everything that was in all of the kitchen cupboards had to be emptied into boxes so those cupboards can be removed. And the cupboards that have quietly resided in the dining room and office (quietly filling UP), had to be emptied into boxes so they can be installed. And then... all of those boxes had to be put somewhere. Well, truly--they got put everywhere.

This project happened WAY SOONER than I thought it would, and I was not the calm and organized creature that I aspire to dream of despair of becoming.

NOTE: We are currently experiencing technical difficulties getting the @#$%^&! pictures off of the !@#$%^&*!!! camera. Pictures coming soon.

We hope.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fabbity Fab Fab Fab!

I had an awesome weekend! My sweet hubby surprised me with a "weekend away" for our anniversary. It was especially exciting since A)our anniversary is not until next week and B)because of the crazy busyness of our schedules, it is "traditionally" (ie, happening most years)celebrated in November--sometimes even December!

We had a great time together, and it was unbelievably lovely just to have a long stretch of hours just to reconnect. Bliss.

Also, after a really excellent Fast and Testimony meeting at church, and a rather weird seminary get together, he surprised us (after SmallDaughter was asleep in bed, due to the "absolutely no dairy" restrictions) with an awesome ice cream bar--which, as you may expect, went over really well!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

LUXURY

Last night, LargeBoy had a sleepover with his Bestie CuteBoy--at CuteBoy's house (they eagerly did their jobs AT BOTH HOUSES to earn the privilege! WIN!). SmallDaughter is safely off to school. BigGirl stayed conscious all through seminary*, did her morning jobs and then went back to bed. I have done several jobs already, and I think I will follow my daughters stunning example and go take a nap! Ciao!

*Seminary this year is Old Testament, which is my favorite, and it is awesome!! I have such a great class! They are coherent and interested at 5:30am, and want to learn how to be better people. They absolutely ROCK!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Well, we are officially in our "school groove". SmallDaughter started school a week ago. It is so different getting her ready for school. She has no understanding of time, so she doesn't get excited for things in advance. So instead of a week (or several) of anticipating the good and bad of school--it just happens. One day you get up, and after you get your clothes on and breakfast eaten--the van picks you up for school.

BigGirl and LargeBoy also started school. Boy was that mellow! I really love my own homeschool. Last year we did an online public school (their choice, not mine). It was, as I feared, the worst of both worlds--Mom doing all the nagging to meet someone else's schedule of busywork. This year, we are plucking the fruits that come from living in such an awesome technologically blessed time, and really enjoying ourselves.

I can't rave enough about
Khan Academy, which covers all of the math gaps that I worried so much about--and is self motivating! LargeBoy asked if he could have a thumb-drive of his very own, and I told him that I would buy him one after he earned an "Earth Badge" in math. I figured that was a goal that would take him about a week, which seemed reasonable to me. 40 minutes later, he triumphantly showed me his Earth Badge!

BibGirl spent her free time yesterday learning
how to say Hello in many different languages (and feeling pretty good about the fact that she already knew more Japanese and Korean than they posted on the site!), and playing a
strangely addictive geometry game.

We had our first morning of Seminary. It is Old Testament, which is my favorite. I love being able to see both "the big picture" of large groups of people and big expanses of time, and how God works in the lives of individuals--and how one person's choice can affect the entire world. Plus, it has the best heroes. I am a big fan of Joseph (Joseph in Egypt) and how he maintained his faith through EVERYTHING. Also Gideon. Also some of the less well known heroes--like Jonathan, who never let his pride get in the way of his love, and Jael, who knew the best way to drive her point home (ba-dum!)!

Life is good.












Monday, August 29, 2011

The Big Brag

Time is zooming by so fast, and I have (as always) so much going n, that it is hard to remember what I need to post about. So, here is a short review of how awesome my peeps (both animal and human!) really are:

At the fair:

Each of the 3 children did 2 projects. Each of them got Grade A Blue Ribbons on all projects. One of the children also went to the State Fair for their project AND their Demonstration. We also ended up with 3 silver platters, which are what they give instead of trophies for "Best in Class Overall".

The projects were:
LargeCousin & BigGirl both took the same projects--"Savvy Shopping", where they learned about clothing selection and care (including Laundry Care) and assembled a complete outfit from Thrift Stores, and then they modeled their outfit, and "Designing Interiors" where they learned principles of design and then used them in a room*.

LargeBoy did "Exploring Electricity" and can now tell you all about circuits and such (with a HUGE shout out to Mr. Ken, our dear friend--and electrician/teacher extraordinaire, who made the process painless!) He also did Meat Chickens, which are a whole category unto themselves. They are Cornish/Rock cross breeds (also known as "White Broilers". They are bred to grow to full size in 12 weeks. Normal chickens start laying at 20 weeks. They grow more than twice as fast as the layers. If you don't butcher them at 11 or 12 weeks, they start dying of heart attacks, because they grow so big!

The WonderDog has gone back to 4 Paws for a "tuneup"--just to brush up on his training.

The chicks we got this spring just started laying their super cute, tiny little pullet eggs. The eggs are smaller than ping-pong balls, and the yolks are the size of marbles, but they are perfectly formed, and very beautiful!

I got to spend the weekend with my sisters (two of them!) and it was great--but not enough time!

SmallDaughter has started back to school, and I am not sure how I like the new setup--they switched schools and teachers again, but this teacher is out on maternity leave, so we have a long term substitute...anyway, I am hoping for the best.

Early morning Seminary starts tomorrow. LargeCousin is in the Main Class, and I am teaching the "far hinterlands" class again--which includes my own BigGirl this year! I am super excited--it is Old Testament, which is my favorite!

*BigGirl did a much needed bedroom makeover. LargeCousin was planning on re-doing the room she was supposed to inherit from her brother, but circumstances...circumstanced, and she ended up redoing the tiny 1/4 bathroom off of her old bedroom. They both did a really good job--on rooms that REALLY needed redoing, and I am very pleased with the results--and with the girls, too!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Broken Hearts

I was going to post about the fair. About the triumphs shared by BigGirl, LargeBoy and LargeCousin. About my exhaustion. About BigGirl and LargeCousin's projects which involved repainting and redecorating a bedroom and a bathroom. About how proud I am of LargeBoy passing his Board of Review to become a Life Scout (the rank just below Eagle Scout), and being selected for the Order of the Arrow (kind of like the Boy Scout version of Honor Society). But all of those things were trumped by the news of the death of LargeBoy's scout leader.

Sometimes death comes as a sweet release at the end of pain and suffering, or the chance to be with all of the friends and loved ones who have gone on before. Of course we miss those people, but our pain is tempered and evened by peace. When needless tragedy strikes, it is much harder to assimilate--let alone to bear.

Aaron was 26, preparing to leave for his third tour of duty (twice to Iraq, this time to Afghanistan) next week. He left behind his sweet young wife and their son who turned one a week ago, and the baby girl who is due at Christmas. He also left a gaping hole in the hearts of the Boy Scouts who hero worshiped him.

What young man would not be in awe of a guy who could mountain climb AND skydive, who was an EMT as well as an Eagle Scout with 3 palms, who also played Saxophone, Volleyball and Basketball AND dated tons of girls (before he met and married a fabulous lady). He truly was an awesome roll model, because not only did he have "mad skills"--he was also a kind, good man. I hope my son can be a man like Aaron.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Wise words from a wise woman

I am reposting this from "Casa Camisas", because she said it all so well. I like her comments, and I too loved Sister Chieko (however, I was in college when she became the RS General President).

One of my favorite people, Chieko Okazaki, passed away last week. I think I was 11 or 12 when she was in the general RS presidency, and used to get so excited when it was her turn to speak in LDS General Conferences -- her talks were always interesting, always engaging. I usually don't like trite online tributes to people who didn't really know me, but I came across a quotation from one of her talks (it's from a BYU devotional, years ago) and it touched me so much that I wanted to share. Sis. Okazaki was a person with a very strong personal relationship with Christ, and in this passage, she expounds on how women in particular can grow closer to Him:
"Well, my dear sisters, the gospel is the good news that can free us from guilt. We know that Jesus experienced the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane. It’s our faith that he experienced everything- absolutely everything. Sometimes we don’t think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don’t experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually. That means he knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer- how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced Napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.
Let me go further. There is nothing you have experienced as a woman that he does not also know and recognize. On a profound level, he understands the hunger to hold your baby that sustains you through pregnancy. He understands both the physical pain of giving birth and the immense joy. He knows about PMS and cramps and menopause. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion. His last recorded words to his disciples were, “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20) He understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten, when a bully picks on your fifth-grader, when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down syndrome. He knows your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your two-year-old, when someone gives your thirteen-year-old drugs, when someone seduces your seventeen-year-old. He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children are visitors, when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week, when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He’s been there. He’s been lower than all that. He’s not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don’t need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He’s not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

This pretty much describes our weather this week



98 Degrees + 90% Humidity = 115 Degree Heat Index (Like wind chill, but the other direction!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Blessings--Living the good life!

So much good news is happening in my life, and the lives of those I love!

BigGirl and LargeBoy have been having a great time at Youth Conference, Girls Camp (BigGirl) and Scout Conference (LargeBoy). LargeCousin and BigGirl are both redecorating rooms for 4-H projects, and so the nasty "orphanage pink" paint is covered with bright white primer, and ready to be cute! We have been Freecycling like mad--I got rid of 12 old chairs, 3 TV sets, 2 computer monitors, the metal bunk bed frame, and the bags for the vacuum I no longer own. AND I received a half sized violin so SmallDaughter can start Suzuki violin lessons*.

But--my good news is small potatoes compared with the other good news!
Dear Aunt Shanny, finally found the right new car, after months of agonizing car shopping. Dear Sister Ali, AND Dear Sister Rach, who both finished school with honors (Ali in Culinary School and Rach in Massage/Spa School) have both landed their dream jobs--and because they are so awesome, they are wowing their new bosses!

And best of all, Aunt Andi finally got her miracle house. It is truly amazing and perfect. It is located in a great neighborhood (unlike the one they currently live in!), it has bedroom, bath, and living areas on the main floor, so they don't have to keep going up and down the stairs (which is important as Uncle R's health is declining). There are many other miracles in it as well.

SmallDaughter is loving therapy (Summer Session of Riding Therapy, as well as Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapies).

We are SO Blessed!

*Violin lessons are for 4 reasons:
First-and most important--While learning any musical instrument helps your brain form new neural pathways, apparently Violin forms more than any other.
Second, In Suzuki lessons, they often start with children as young as 2 years old, so they are used to non-readers with very short attention spans!
Third, SmallDaughter has always been fascinated by, and attracted to violins.
Fourth, apparently I am a masochist. Personally, I hate the violin--it is (with the possible exception of piccolo) my least favorite instrument. I am not even fond of solo violin when it is played by a master, and being wielded by a very poor novice? SHUDDER. She is worth it, though.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Stuff to Ponder

I have had a lot of things running through my mind lately.

Here are a few of them:

How grateful I am for our Nation. For the people who have sacrificed their entire lives so that my children can live without fear on a daily basis.

Fireworks on television are just not as good as the real thing. We are very fortunate that our front yard is the perfect spot to watch our town's display--and for a small town, it is a really good show!

If you are a SmallDaughter who is bored, you can easily entertain yourself by pouring a bottle of hair conditioner on the floor and sliding around in it. Even more entertainment can be found by pouring a bottle of maple syrup on top of it. It provides a lot of "entertainment" for mom, too!

We seem to have become the home of last resort for all the gray cats in town. I am not sure why they are all gray, but we have some really pretty variety. They don't know about the surprise spaying/neutering that is in their futures!

Chickens are a lot more entertaining than I ever would have guessed. However, filling the waterers (especially when it is really hot or really cold and they are drinking a lot) is really a drag.

My sweet husband did a bunch of "honey-do" stuff around the house, and it is really great having a new kitchen faucet, etc.!

I worry about my friends far away. I have been really blessed to have amazing people in my life. I keep them in my prayers, but I wish we could be a lot closer.

My big kids are really awesome. They are busy doing camps, and hikes and sleepovers and--LargeBoy just got offered employment (baling hay!).

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Medical Condition (or not) N.I.I.

It has been a long time since I have approached 4:00 am from nighttime end ("wow, I really should be sleeping, I have to get up so soon..."). I am up at 4:00 am fairly frequently on the "crap it's still dark and I have to get up" end of things.

However, this week I did see 4:00 am--because of a severe case of NII (Novel Induced Insomnia). Yep, could not put the darn thing down. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb if you were wondering.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Aunt-ticipation

I came to this Aunt-hood gig late. Both my hubby and I are the oldest children in our families. Our children are the oldest grandkids on both sides. And, even after my sibs (eventually) got around to having nieces and nephews for me to spoil, they lived very far away (across the ocean, and South Dakota. Inconvenient!)

I knew what I was missing. I have awesome aunts--on both sides of my family. I have great memories with them--stretching back my entire life.

But now, things are picking up! People have moved closer (mere hours of travel time!! YAY) Plus--more kids to spoil!

Last week, I answered the phone to a teary little voice, informing me that a tragic accident "with a dangerous thing" had "hurt his cute, cute face". Mom was not sympathetic. She was not sympathetic, because the three year old in question was injured when he put the ladder for the bunkbed (the "dangerous thing"in question) up to the counter--against her express wishes and advice--and it slid down (of course!). Fortunately--aunts can be more sympathetic.

I spent today sewing a baptism dress for a lovely niece. It turned out even better than I pictured it in my imagination. I upcycled a vintage linen damask tablecloth (and 1 linen napkin) which gives it a lovely white on white pattern that glows in the light--and it is SOFT--not at all scratchy or itchy. It has a great twirly skirt (a full circle and a quarter!) and very pretty poof sleeves. I will attempt to get photos. Darn this lack of camera!

YUM!

Last night, when I went out to round up the chickens, it was so humid that there was a layer of fog on the low-lying areas of my backyard (which does have a definite slope to the south-west). It was very green, and gray and still. Beautiful and peaceful.

Of course, that same humidity that gives us all the amazing shades of green, also made the two batches of caramel corn sitting on the counter into moist little sponges. Urgh.

The caramel corn (which fortunately was a recipe that was put into a 250 degree oven and toasted for 45 minutes--and which revived nicely with another half-hour this morning!) was for church.

We (the Primary Presidency) had discussed various gifts for the dads in the ward. We settled on a treat buffet. WIN! We had 5 sisters make 1 or 2 of their specialties--we had a great variety (chocolate with peanut butter, snickerdoodles, fruit kabobs, brownies, and more!)--plus baggies of the aforementioned popcorn.

We thought the dad's would come get a plate and then head to class, but everybody stood around chatting. We have already had requests for this to become an annual tradition.

It was a very happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wildlife Report

A rundown on my local wildlife:

Unwanted:
Lots of fat brown rabbits
Lots of fat brown groundhogs

Wanted:
Today was my first sighting of the year for fireflies. How I love them!

We bought a bunch of new chicks today. Yep--this is our third batch this spring. I did finally get some pix, which I hope to post soon.

3 hilarious little kittens that my dear hubby brought home last weekend "so we can find homes for them"--I suspect that they have found it. Pictures of them coming soon, too.

The WonderDog--who has finally made peace with the kittens, and is UBER-EXCITED about the chicks (what is not to love about little balls that squeak, run around erratically, and smell like chicken!?) He knocked the box off the shelf this afternoon, and we had a hilarious scene of kittens chasing chicks, Wonderdog watching the whole scene in excitement, and small girls giggling and trying to get everybody rounded back up. Thankfully, no fatalities, no injuries, everything is hunky-dory!

LOTS of kids--seriously, a dozen. 6 newly adolescentish boys (in the 10-14 range), and 2 teen-ish girls (BigGirl's BFF who tragically moved out of state is in town for a visit--hooray!!) tending 4 little-ish girls. The girls had lots of glamour and crafts. The boys had lots of running, yelling, archery(ish) stuff and most exciting--I let them build a fire and cook out on it, then sleep out in the new tent (yard sale!--it's nice, too!) Everybody played lots of water games because it was almost 100 degrees, according to the sign on the Bank uptown.

Whew! I am ready for bed!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Spring is here (!?)

I have my garden planted!

Now, I know it is a little late in the year, but 2 BIG obstacles stood in my way:

1: We have had so much rain this year that it has been too wet for ANYONE to plant ANYTHING. The farmers are just now getting their corn crop in (6 weeks late).

2: I had to move my entire garden. I have completely given up on attempting to use the "soil" of our yard to grow much of anything in. Pure clay. It is such pure clay that my younger sister once made pots out of it, dried them in the sun (no fancy kiln or anything of that nature!) and they stayed good all summer long. Even when they were rained on. That kind of clay.

So I have opted for raised bed,square foot gardening. I LOVE IT! However--the site of my former garden is now the hugely enlarged chicken yard, so I had to move everything. All the raised beds, all the soil. That process was slowed by my complete aversion to having the rays of the sun touch my lily white (read "fish belly pale") skin. I do my yard work before the sun is up, and after it goes down.

And now it is planted and fenced, and growing for all it is worth (I hope!)

Next step: build the onion & carrot planters and plant all the herbs. We also have "Camp Funnawanna" this week with some of our favorite children, doing all kinds of awesome summertime activities--and letting their sweet mom study for her finals in peace!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Happy Birthday

Today would be my Mom's 61st birthday. Except that she died 10 1/2 years ago. I can't believe how fast that decade has gone by. I am regularly surprised to realize what my mom was doing when she was my age--since I am the oldest, I remember the most history, and I remember clearly. When my mom was the age that I am now, I was already friends with Karen and Angela. She had already changed many people's lives--for the better. She was always a catalyst. She had a gift for bringing out other people's skills and abilities. Even skills they weren't aware of.

I would like to share a letter I received today from my Aunt Debbie--my mom's younger sister.

June 1, 2011 – Wednesday

Today would have been Brenda’s 61st birthday. Last week, during the chaos of my life, I was reading “A Tale of Two Cities.” At first it was slow going and I had no inkling of any memory of reading the book or seeing the movie. All I knew was that it was a book I’ve wanted to read for along time.

And then I began to feel a creeping awareness that these characters were familiar. As the Dickens story unfolded, and I became more engrossed, I could see Brenda’s bright, animated face telling me about vengeful Madame DeFarge, knitting as she condemned people to the guillotine, love-struck Sidney Carton, beautiful Lucy, and unfortunate Dr. Manette. I’m sure I didn’t understand much of it—I can remember feeling confused about why good people were in danger of being executed—but that didn’t dampen our excitement.

How blessed I was, to grow up with such a guide! I don’t know if Brenda had seen the movie—there was a 1958 release that would have had to have been re-shown sometime in the 1960s at the local theater or drive-in—or if she read the book. Either way, she made it come to life for the rest of us. That’s one of my favorite memories—all of us sitting around hearing a story while we quilted, snapped beans or just vegetated. And Brenda was the best storyteller of all.

She also passed on her insatiable desire for learning. It isn’t enough to know about “A Tale of Two Cities”—now I have to learn more about the French Revolution.

Happy Birthday, dear Brenda—your memory lives on!


I clearly remember her telling me the story of "Macbeth" on a long drive home one night. I LOVED it--she made it vibrant. I was seven.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Remember

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.



During the Second Battle of Ypres (before the Americans had even joined the war, but hundreds of thousands of French, English and Canadian soldiers had died) a Canadian artillery officer, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed on 2 May, 1915 by an exploding shell. He was a friend of the Canadian military doctor Major John McCrae.


John was asked to conduct the burial service owing to the chaplain being called away on duty elsewhere. It is believed that later that evening John began the draft for his famous poem 'In Flanders Fields'. This poem made poppies a symbol of remembrance.

Memorial Day is much more than just a three day weekend, a chance to grill or the start of summer. Pause to remember how much you have to be grateful for--because of men and women who gave up their future to ensure you would have a bright one.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Free at Last!

BigGirl and LargeBoy got their final assignments submitted before the 11:59 deadline.
Yep, 11:58 (and probably 45 seconds!)
--nothing like cutting it close!

I am so happy to be done with public schooling (even the online version) and its twisted version of "learning"--it must be quantifiable, track-able, painful and convoluted--preferably with LOTS of busywork. OH so much busywork.

BigGirl and I spent hours going through her science textbook, working on Newton's laws, simple machines, etc. The dry explanations went in one ear and out the other--even with me reading them aloud so she could concentrate on comprehension instead of decoding. When I mentioned that she could gain a thorough understanding of the concepts by sitting down for an
enjoyable read with some wooly mammoths, she was delighted (and relieved!).

As humans, we don't learn alone. We discuss and compare ideas and concepts and build on the breakthroughs we share. Our culture's learning paradigm is broken.


Whew! Glad we are finally free!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Poem for Springtime

Why, oh why
must all the junebugs
come to die
in my bathtub?

Monday, May 23, 2011

What a weekend!

I just love weddings! Truly--since I have attended well over 75, and have been an active participant (doing anything from hand lettering the invitations to sewing the wedding dress to all of the decorations) in over 30, I have a LOT of experience in this area!

This weekend was my cousin Brandon's wedding. It was very lovely. It was small and intimate, and fun (pretty much a perfect combination!). The bride was lovely, and the more I spend time with her, the more I like her (I had only met her in passing, so I didn't have any real opinion about her, but I think they will be great together!) They had the ceremony outside, but all the guests were in a gazebo, so we were in the shade. And the weather was nice--for the first time in WEEKS!

However, as excellent as the wedding was, the really great part was getting to spend time with my cousins and dear friends. YAY! People I love came from (literally) all over the country to be together. Portland Oregon, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, it was so great to have everybody together.

Now I need to go catch up on my sleep!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Whew!

Sorry for the "radio silence" but a whole lot has been happening. Including, but not limited too:
BigGirl spending 12 straight days unable to keep anything down.
Visit to Doctor.
Visit to Emergency Room.
IV Liquids.
No real idea of why.
My doctor visit (which I promised long ago to update upon).
I suspect I am having thyroid issues. Thyroid is notoriously hard for doctors to diagnose, because it mimics many other things but mainly because the range of "normal" is so @!#$%^&* huge (really, a range of 0.5 to 5.5) so what is perfectly "normal" can be seriously out of whack for your body, and they just can't tell!
(By the way--my test results came back *cough* "Normal").

Also--
New Chicks (around 35 or 40--hard to keep track) of various types (more variety than ever before--really fun!).
A visit from 2 really cute baby goats (they stayed at our house for 2 weeks).
Visits from lots of family we love.
Easter, Traditional (very fun) Easter Egg hunt and family dinner (at our house).
Birthday Party (quite a long time after the fact, due to scheduling issues) for LargeBoy. The party was awesome--almost zero work for me (which worked out nicely, since that was the day I was in the ER with BigGirl).
AND my debut party for my new business.


For those of you who have been waiting breathlessly for details:


I am now an official Consultant for Essential Bodywear.
(crickets chirping)
"I am officially a Bra Lady!" Yep. I can measure and do fittings, and I sell great bras (and other "foundation garments"). We had our first "Bra Party" and it was great!

In keeping with my tradition of "having a Mother's Day"--boy have I had one. I dared to try to take a nap, and SmallDaughter got into the shower and poured 3 bottles of shampoo (the Suave [for the family hair], the Bath & Bodyworks [my own personal expensive splurge--big sigh], and the Head & Shoulders [for certain adolescent type people]--[which is also not fun to clean up--trust me]) AND a container of purple cookie frosting (not from the shower--from the deeply forbidden, high up cupboard of doom--er expensive, yummy ingredients) onto the floor. There were also a dozen potatoes and a bottle of windex involved. Yep, "A Mother's Day" indeed.

Friday, April 15, 2011

REAL school

I find it humorous that when I told my dad I was giving up on the (!@#$%^) online school, and he asked "are you going back to real schooling"?--He meant real homeschooling! It is pretty cool to me that in his mind, REAL school is a family, reading a lot of books and sharing information together.

The basic problem with online schools (and this is the third one that I have personal experience with) is that they still expect you to do the stupid, unnecessary busywork, on their schedule, but mom is the bad guy. While this might be the best solution for some people, it is not the best solution for my children.

We are excited for our next phase (it won't really be a "school year" since it will start whenever we want it too). We are using several exciting tools.

Khan Academy--Whee! This is what the internet is perfect for! Unlimited, enjoyable learning at your own pace--for free!

Clickschooling--The best of the internet! Each day they send a link on that day’s subject: Monday: Math, Tuesday: Science, Wednesday: Language Arts, Thursday: Social Sciences, Friday: Virtual Fieldtrip, Saturday: Music, Art and Foreign Languages. PLUS—they have 12+ years of ARCHIVES!

And, for those who have smaller children, they also have Preschool Help!

You could give your child (or yourself for that matter) a dang good--and interesting--education using only this resource!--and it's free!

Instructables--How to do almost anything! (with instructions and step by step pictures). (I'm serious!--a small sampling of headings, just from the LIVING section includes "Art, Beauty, Cake Decorating, Cleaning, Fashion, Furnishing...") and... it's free!

YouTube--besides the cute kitty videos and the funny memes, there are also TONS of instructions on everything from making your own spa products to making pizza. Don't discount the music lessons (and knitting, and spinning, and chemistry, and...) Also free!

Do we see a theme here?


Right at our very fingertips, we have all the learning in the world...for free. Anything you are interested in, or simply want to know more about, it's ALL there (and I LOVE good quality FREE stuff)!

AND NOW, for your edification and enjoyment, I am going to share two of my favorite videos!

First, a humorous look at an all too familiar scene in the life of the parent of a Special Needs Child

This is not true of every school, (for example, I had a great IEP meeting with SmallDaughter's team yesterday), but I have seen it too often, for too many children.


And, one of the most brilliant and mind opening talks I have ever been privileged to hear!


If you haven't had the opportunity to become acquainted with "TED.com", you should!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Well, I'm Back!

I have been gallivanting all over the country! Two weekends ago, I got to attend the Sewing and Quilting Expo with 3 of my favorite aunties! It was AWESOME! I was able to take a bunch of classes and learn so much exciting stuff! I learned how to alter patterns without causing distortions anywhere else. Now, I am sure to most of my readers that does not sound particularly exciting. But, trust me, for me, it is revolutionary and mind blowing! I am SO excited! I also got new tools! (OOH! Shiny!)

And, I figured out a couple of things: 1) I am pretty sure why I am so tired (I will report more on this after the official Dr. visit in a couple of weeks to follow up on my hunch) and 2) What job I can do (with my crazy schedule and family needs). That will be my next post--and trust me, it is NOT what I was expecting!

I also got to spend this last week helping my awesome sister and brother-in-law prepare for and attend a conference, that will (hopefully) get his extraordinary business off the ground. They spent a lot of time in a very small car, while I stayed at their house playing with the adorable nieces. I think I have mentioned before that I have the cutest nieces and nephews in the world (this extends to my cousins children, also, because when you have a family as large and loving as mine, the exact relationships have a tendency to get a bit fuzzy and so easy titles like "cousin" win!)

People might think I am biased, bragging or showing a teensy amount of favoritism, but I have second (and third!) opinions from non-related people, and it is true! They are just DARN CUTE!

Now I have to recover from all the fun I have been having!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

S'No Way!

Yesterday, I actually listened to a weather report (which is quite a rare occurrence for me), in which they earnestly reported that we had a chance of rain in the afternoon.
That news bummed me out, because the reason I checked the weather was to continue my long procrastinated (yeah, like 7 YEARS long!) project of transplanting a bunch of bulbs and other perennial flowers from the random places they have ended up (due to the sewer projects, the driveway project, the chicken yard project, etc.) and placing them in actual flower beds. Quite, quite radical.

So, just after I checked that depressing news, it began to snow. Yep. And now we have about 3 inches. SIGH.

I know that it will melt today. I know that we probably have one more snow storm this season. But logic doesn't have a whole lot to do with the bummed-outness of someone who had some actual gardening plans going.

Monday, March 21, 2011

More Shameless Commerce!

Remember how I complained about fundraisers here ? And I said the only one I actually liked was our 4-H club's annual Cheese Sale? Well, it's that time of year again. One week only. Excellent cheese (it will arrive around the 2nd week of April). Let me know if you want more info.

It is just a good thing I love these kids so much! And that they really do get a LOT out of their 4-H experience. Almost enough to make sorting out 500 bazillionty pounds of cheese worth it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

ReThink

Last week I went to a "Shadow Day" for school the program (Fashion) at the University I want to attend--and OH HOW I LOVED IT! It was so exhilarating--the classes were exciting and I could do them--well!

However
, the design program, which is what I really want to do, is a "lockstep" program. You have to take the fall classes (which are only offered in the fall) before you can take the spring classes (which are only offered in the spring). Which really limits someone who has to drive 100 miles each way and has a family to take care of, who was really hoping to be able to go half-time!

And, it is a VERY intense course--the students in the class I attended said "They say if you are in Fashion Design you have to choose between eating, sleeping and hygiene--but really you just give up on all three! You can tell who the design students are--they are the ones in sweats and ratty ponytails, with dark rings under their eyes!"

Looking honestly at my life, I don't see how I can possibly do it right now. SmallDaughter requires so much attention, so much work--it would be really difficult to do a half time program, let alone a "time and a half" program.

So, I am rethinking my options.

I still want to go to school. Still don't want to go for nursing or elementary education. Still can't decide what else I want to be. Hmmm--this seems very familiar, like I have been here before! Oh, yes--I have been!

If you have any awesome ideas for what I could be when I grow up, PLEASE let me know.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Midnight Essay

As I prepare to return to college, I am trying to get as many scholarships as possible. One night, I woke up with an entire essay in my head, which had to be written down before I could go to sleep again. I don't know what scholarship will need this particular essay (so far, the essays I have come across have themes like "How would you spread the word about Credit Unions", or "Why is America the Land of Opportunity, and how does Brand X Butter help it stay that way?"). However, I know that someday, my midnight essay will be exactly what I need.

I will share it with you.

Most college students worry about meeting that certain someone, deciding what they want to do with their lives or finding out who they are and how they fit in. I worry about going to school and still being a good wife to my husband and a good mother to my children—but mostly I worry about SmallDaughter.

I worry about how to help her understand and be understood, I agonize about helping her meet her potential, I ponder about ways to help her learn to write her name. I worry about helping her learn her shapes and letters, to brush her teeth by herself and to say her prayers. But most of all I worry about keeping her safe.

Every toddler on earth has a knack for getting into trouble—but most of them outgrow it as they learn about the world around them. SmallDaughter is 10 years old, but because of several neurological conditions, she remains “the world’s tallest and fastest two year old”—functioning at about the same level as an average 2 ½ year old child.

She is a charming, bright, sparkling redhead, with big blue eyes and an infectious smile. Her ready laugh and responsive personality charm everyone who meets her. Yet, with all these gifts she is almost totally non-verbal.

I have never heard her say “mommy”, let alone “I love you”. Yet—she does communicate—surprisingly well. Using ASL signs, word approximations and body language, SmallDaughter expresses opinions, teases and jokes and gives us flashes into her mind.

People wonder how I can cope with the difficulty of living with a permanent two year old. It is certainly a challenge, but it is also a blessing. My older children BigGirl and LargeBoy were not only typical, they were above average. They learned skills so quickly and easily that it was easy to miss how much work was really involved.

SmallDaughter slows that process down. She is like watching childhood in slow motion. Every milestone comes at tremendous cost and effort. She just mastered the skills needed to “jump”—the motion of “bend the knees, then spring upward”. Her therapists (and her family) worked on that skill with her—for six years.

I would not have chosen my life. I would not have signed up to have a ten year old who still wears diapers and has tantrums, who pours milk on the carpet and has no sense of safety. But I would not trade my life for anything. I would never give up the lessons my family has learned— how valuable each moment and each milestone is, or how patient BigGirl and LargeBoy are with not only SmallDaughter, but anyone who is “different”.

Choosing to go back to college as a 39 year old wife, mother of two teenagers and a perpetual toddler (and her Service Dog) is scary. But, SmallDaughter has taught me:
I can do hard things. Giving up is not an option. Laughing makes things better. No one knows what the future holds, but today can be a great adventure. Most of all, I have learned that things (and people) do not have to be perfect or fit some ideal to be wonderful. Life is a sweet gift, and filling it with joy every day is the most important thing we can do.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Farewell-for a little while

We just got back from the farewell party for my cousin Matt. He is leaving on his mission...in a matter of hours. For two years he will voluntarily leave his family, his friends and his home to share the answers to life's biggest questions with people he doesn't even know yet--who will become some of the people he loves the very most. More than any other missionary I have known, this has been a long and difficult journey. I really admire him for choosing to serve wisely, humbly and obediently.

I was there when he was born. I can't even express what a cutie he was when he was little--outstandingly cute, even in a family that is famous for its cute kids! I was there two days ago when he made sacred covenants in the house of God , as a strong, handsome man. He is a HUGE* example and role model to my siblings and my children. He is one of SmallDaughter's "guys". We will miss him dreadfully.

I also know that he will be an amazing missionary. He is so loving and funny, but he also has wisdom, depth and compassion that many younger missionaries lack.

Go forth with faith, Elder--return with honor (and with some really good food for your loving {and possibly slightly bossy) cousin!

*his example and role modelness are about 6 times larger than his large self. We just had a discussion on the perfect height for a guy, and he said if you are taller than about 6'2" or 6'3" (which is the neighborhood he is in), than that is all people notice and remember. In this (as in so MANY other ways) Matt is just perfect!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sparkle

I survived the wedding--which wouldn't have been bad, except we got a TON of snow on Friday night--which meant school was canceled and I had to change all plans to include SmallDaughter, and lost about 3 hours of prep time on Friday, and another 3 or 4 on Saturday due to shoveling out activities.

I ended up ditching a lot of really cute and fun ideas and going with something simpler (when you lose 6-10 hours out of a 2 day span, that REALLY affects you!). Fortunately, as my sister reminded me once again--Nobody else can see what is in my mind, so nobody else was disappointed when it looked different!



I did the backdrop and the bouquet and boutonniere. They did the cuteness and the smiling! I really do LOVE this couple!


Ironically, SmallGirl's school was also canceled on Monday--not because of the howling winds and blizzard conditions we had Friday, but because we got a sudden thaw and lots of rain and had serious flooding!


Now, I am moving on to other exciting activities!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pictures



I found the camera, AND the charger! SO, you get to see evidence of a little of what has been keeping me busy! Here are two views of the Mother's Corsages for the wedding, with the "gilded" roses that I glittered.





Here is one of the boutonnieres. The bride already has her bouquet, so I can't show you how that turned out!

I will be busy doing wedding stuff for the rest of the week, and then I will be catching up with everything that got scheduled for "after the wedding"!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Patience!

I am not sure I have reported very much on our "kittens". They are coming up on a year old now, so they are in late adolescence, big and rangy. We have two out of the original four left at our house. They are very pretty cats--gray and white longhairs, very silky. Thor (the girl) is all gray. Storm (the male) has a white bib and boots. They are very good natured, and quite, quite stupid. This is a good thing, in a house with SmallDaughter. They love attention, and are willing to put up with ANYTHING she dishes out. She carries them about (sometimes by the neck), she "pets" them--sometimes with a shoe or a teacup in her hand at the same time--they don't mind, they are just glad she loves them!

I bring this up, because I just watched her pick up Thor, who was sleeping in the sunlight on a soft quilt on the couch, and stuff her bodily into a 3 gallon chicken waterer (fortunately empty!) and carry her around in it. This is the bottom half of a 2 part waterer. It looks quite a bit like a bucket with a lip around the bottom (that is where the water pools for the chickens to drink out of). However, there is also a 2 inch wide handle across the middle, which makes the stuffing of cats into it much trickier--but she succeeded!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Gilding the Lillies (and daisies, and roses...)

I am working of getting ready for a friend's wedding. Since the rule of life is "you can spend money or you can spend time"--I am spending time. This friend, Miss A, is beautiful, creative and fun, and she is marrying a great guy. I am excited to create a wedding that is as beautiful and fun as they are!

Last week I made her bouquet. It turned out adequate. Lots of daisies and white roses and lilies (her flower choices). Beautiful, but...lacking. So pulling inspiration from and old copy of you-know-who (Martha Stewart, darn it all!)--who in keeping with her usual ratio of one good idea every 40 pages (truly, in her books and her magazines, that is the usual!), I carefully applied glue to the edges of a few of the flowers and dusted them with superfine ("diamond dust")glitter. They look awesome! And they perked the bouquet up, and made it sparkly and bright (along with some well placed gems in the centers of a few flowers) just like Miss A!

I have also glittered the cut out letters for the hanging banner with their names on it, paper tussy-mussys for the bridesmaids bouquets, more flowers for the corsages and boutonnieres. Lots of glitter!

The down side is:

To quote my brother in law: "Glitter is the herpes of the craft world. Once you have it, you can never get rid of it!". And I have glitter everywhere.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Winter Wonderland

Today, I dropped off the car at the mechanics for an oil change (which reminded me of my favorite sign at a quick lube place: "How long has it REALLY been?") and I walked home. It is so beautiful today--the sky is a bright clear blue, all the sunlight is gold and it reflects and sparkles on the snow diamonds and all the shadows are blue/purple/gray. The time and temp sign at the bank says it's 21 degrees, which explains why it is so sparkly--it has to be fairly warm (relatively speaking!) to snow, but when it gets really cold it crystallizes all the surface snow so it is bright reflective prisms. It is very beautiful--although the wind was a bit brisk.

That last storm (the one where I could hear the flakes) was an ice storm that dropped ice pellets for hours and made a thick crust over everything. Walking across it is an adventure! SmallDaughter LOVES it--but she can easily walk on the crust--not so for me--every few steps I break through up to my shins!

Also, it froze the barn door shut, so I have to wait for the sun to warm things up a little before I can go feed the chickens!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Winter Wonders

It appears to be snowing again. That in itself is not surprising--we are supposed to have a pretty major winter storm (although we only got about 4" last night, which is not even close to the horrors they were predicting--of course!) The surprising part is the direction the flakes are coming from, and the noise they are making as they hit the house. Hmmm.

Inside the cozy house, we are enjoying our quiet snow day. BigGirl has been inspired. Over the weekend we had some of our favorite people stay over, and Miss V and I went through our fabric stashes and combined our fabric to make tops for Humanitarian Quilts. BigGirl helped me cut pieces on Saturday night, and on Sunday, she asked if she could work on a quilt by herself. In keeping with my "what the heck, why not tell your children "YES" and see what they can do" parenting, I gave permission--and by Sunday evening she had ironed, cut and layed out all the pieces for a twin size quilt! On Monday, she got it sewed into strips. I will post pix when she gets it done--it is very cute, and I am very impressed with her (I am still working on the quilt I started when I was expecting LargeBoy--so like, 13 years ago!).

SmallDaughter got to put on her snowsuit and boots and go out walking around and kicking snow for about 40 minutes. I had to force her to come back inside. She does not care how horrible the weather is, she just wants to be out in it.

LargeBoy has completed 2 Merit Badges. He was the awesomely cool big cousin/entertainment unit over the weekend. He is researching lots of exciting things that interest him.

I spent several hours on the phone, and paid the bills in bed--I find bill paying is a whole lot less stressful when I am in the softness of my cozy bed with the wonderful electric mattress pad on high!

I also read a really excellent book last week--"Coop" by Michael Perry. I just love the way he writes (I also loved "Truck--A Love Story"). I have a lot in common with him, but his humor--it just sneaks up on me, and I find myself suddenly laughing till I fall off my chair (the part about his dad joining the choir--priceless!)

I am whiling away the winter evenings by designing my dream retirement home. Not what people would expect, I'm telling you. More on that later.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Redecorating the Living Room

Know what is delicious? Pop-overs. Yorkshire Pudding. Cream puffs, Eclairs, German Pancakes, Crepes. I love all of those things. And, they all have variations of the same recipe: milk, eggs, flour, blend.

I do NOT love having those ingredients combined together on my living room carpet. If someone (not to name any names, but she is the youngest!) broke half a dozen eggs across the carpet, poured out the rest of the milk and then poured a 5 gallon bucket of flour over them, then played in it...well, you can imagine.

It does make me think about the argument of evolution versus intelligent design. Even if you have the right ingredients, without the knowledge of how to combine them correctly--all you end up with is a mess.

Growth

We are so busy. Yes, I know that we are ALWAYS so busy, but as the kids get bigger, the schedule gets--busier. I did calendaring for the year, and every week is already full. We have the usual stuff--Scouts and Young Women, our beloved Fiber Arts Friends group, Church stuff. And we have the other stuff like Youth Conference, Scout Camp, 4-H Camp, Girls Camp, 2 major hikes with Dad...the list goes on and on. It is exciting to see them grow.

SmallDaughter had her neurologist checkup on her birthday--which meant she had to have a blood draw, poor thing. She was very brave, even though (for the first time ever at our wonderful children's hospital) they had to poke her twice and use both arms. The good thing is she doesn't really comprehend abstract ideas like "today is your birthday", so (even though this is the second year in a row with a Dr. visit/blood draw on the day) she didn't mind. She was very excited a few days later to have a combined birthday party with Grandpa, with LOTS of candles on the cake for her to blow out (with a little Grandpa help!).

This week she got to go see the eye doctor (the specialist at the childrens hosp., who is set up for non-verbal children). Thankfully, her eyes are healthy and we don't need glasses or anything else. I can not imagine the horrors of trying to keep SmallDaughter in glasses!

LargeBoy is making wonderful smells emanate from the kitchen. As much as I miss how freakin' cute they were when they were little--they sure are a big help to have around now!

For instance, a couple of weeks ago, I threw my back out quite badly--which wouldn't have been much of a problem, except my awesome Chiropractor had a heart attack and triple bypass surgery in December. So, painfully waiting for him to come back, life still had to go on. We went grocery shopping while SmallDaughter was at school, and not only did LargeBoy and BigGirl do all of the bagging/loading at the store, once we got home they did the unloading/putting away and sent me to bed with an ice pack! They are truly becoming awesome people, as well as sweet children!

I am happy to report that Dr. S is back in business, and my back is, too!