Friday, December 28, 2007

End of the year...

"Along your pathway of life you will observe that you are not the only traveler. There are others who need your help. There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save." - Thomas S. Monson
Well, I skipped November. I mean, I was here, but I didn't blog a single word because I was writing my novel. My final word count was just over 7,000 words--43,000 short of my goal. It was an interesting experiment and showed me what I can actually accomplish in terms of finding time in my schedule to write. Most days I wrote between 200 and 400 words, in 5-10 minute spurts. Not ideal, but that's what I realistically have right now.
I've been attending a writing group twice a month with women from my church. We share favorite writing, critique each others' writing, and get writing tips and exercises from the group leader who was a professional editor until recently. The exercises have been interesting and the camaraderie has been enjoyable. In some ways it has been frustrating and in some ways is has been encouraging, but overall it has been worthwhile.
Lately, I have been trying to decide what my writing purpose is. There are many forums and forms with which to share my writing with others via the Internet, that bypass the traditional "query/submission/rejection or acceptance" routine and I am struggling to determine what I want to do. A few summers ago I put lots of my poetry online at and really liked making connections and having others read and enjoy (or critique) my work. Having done that though, much of that is now not likely to be accepted and printed by traditional publishers.
Should I go for the quick fix of sharing randomly with any of the masses I can find? Or spend years submitting and hoping for professional recognition, while the thoughts and images I wanted to share languish in a word doc in my computerized "Poetry" file? I write to connect with others, not just for myself . . . there are few (if any) of my poems that are not meant to be read by someone else.
Would I like to be famous? Well, yes. Am I willing to imprison my poetry for decades in hopes that I'll get noticed and it will happen? I'm just not sure. Votes?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

If I won't be myself, who will?

-Alfred Hitchcock

Okay, yesterday my word count was 695. Not gonna cut it for NaNoWriMo. Today I'll try to do better and write more.

The bad news is that we are all sick now, even my husband. I am really hoping this passes quickly. The GOOD news is that Baby Bear slept for SEVEN HOURS STRAIGHT last night!!! Woohoo! Even ill, my husband and I feel human today. It is amazing what sleep will do for our bodies and our minds.

Baby Bear is trying desperately to turn himself over from back to front. So far he can get to his side, but then can't decide how to move his bottom arm out of the way and use his top arm to get him over. Poor thing gets really frustrated by it these days. He is also trying to crawl, but ends up looking like a flailing sky diver because he hasn't realized that his feet need to push on the ground not in the air in order to propel him forward. It's tragic looking, but exceedingly adorable at the same time. Until he's had enough and begins to scream.

This week I ordered a book from called Dancing the Breeze for our little neighbor girl who is turning 2 in a couple of weeks. Her father is a gardener and plant connoisseur extraordinaire and when I picked this book up at a thrift shop for Princess last summer, I just knew it was the perfect story for their family.

Friday, October 26, 2007

1786 Rambly-ness & 7-minute icing

"Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity."
- Simone Weil

In figuring that I will need to write 1786 words per day in November in order to finish The Novel, my brain went on a little tangent-trip and began to wonder what happened in the year 1786. Here is what wikipedia says and here is a list of my ancestors who were born in 1786:

5 Jan 1786 Jacob NEWMAN
27 Jan 1786 Roxana HAND
29 Jan 1786 Elizabeth WHITTLE
5 Mar 1786 Guri ASLAKSEN
21 Mar 1786 Moses SWAIM
23 Mar 1786 Mary DAGGET
28 Mar 1786 Phebe Ann MORTON
1 May 1786 Thomas RUSSELL
10 May 1786 Jacob RHOADS
23 Jul 1786 Hans SORENSEN
27 Jul 1786 Stephen HOOPES
30 Jul 1786 Mette Marie PEDERSEN
1 Aug 1786 Charity SWAIM
2 Aug 1786 Sarah WILLSON
15 Aug 1786 Rachel A. SHIPMAN
21 Aug 1786 Athalia HOWARD
22 Aug 1786 Samuel WHEELDON
4 Sep 1786 John WELBORN
22 Sep 1786 Julana GEER
24 Dec 1786 Mary POTTS

Possibly not interesting to anyone but myself but there it is anyway.
My husband spent the summer (while we were eating angel food cake with seasonal fresh berries and whipped cream), raving about his mother's angel food cake icing. He has lots of fond memories of eating this, and after months and months I called and asked her for the recipe. She couldn't find it in her recipe collection, but she looked it up online and found this version, which she gave me over the phone.

7-Minute Icing

2 cups white sugar
3 egg whites
3 tbs corn syrup
3 tbs cold water
1 tsp vanilla
In a double boiler combine ingredients. Place over boiling water and beat on high for seven minutes or until frosting forms soft peaks. Remove immediately and frost cool cake.
She said to serve is as soon as you can as it doesn't keep well, and don't beat it too long or it'll turn "hard" and you won't be able to spread it. In this case, just add a dollop to a slice of cake on a plate. Excellent with chocolate cake as well.
After she finished the frosting instructions she told me how nice it was to be able to be useful for something and to help me. Sometimes, in order not to be a bother we don't ask for help, and the funny thing is I almost didn't. When she told me the name of the frosting, I could have just looked it up myself. Instead, I let her take the time to hang up, look it up online, call me back and read it to me. Sometimes, we do them ourselves because it is easier than waiting for someone else to do it for us. That is what my quote at the beginning of this post is about. Sometimes we should let others do for us because it does them more good to be able to serve, share and assist. By giving people our genuine attention for longer than we need to - longer than is convenient - we give them something that can not be bought or forced. A rare generosity of human connection and trust.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Writing notes, I'm sick, Recipe

Last night I went to my writing group and we had some great conversation. I told them about NaNoWriMo and they were all supportive. We reviewed and critiqued the work of one of the women for the first time and it was great - the piece and the discussion. I love critiquing/editing/helping to make stuff better.
I got my first real taste of this when I helped others edit their fanfiction in a process called "beta-ing". This is really just having someone read and review your writing, but they call it this in the fanfiction world. I love doing it for others and having others do it for me. Even when I've written something I think is good, the chance to make it better is both challenging and exciting to me. I think one of the things about NaNoWriMo that will be most insanity provoking for me is the no editing thing. To have no time for clean-up or meaningful feedback might push me over the edge.
I got a few ideas on the drive home - yeah! I think I have decided on my heroine's name - one I thought I made up, but apparently someone else did too as there is a dragon drawing by that name at Anyway, I am going to try and write the required number of words everyday between now and the 1st, to see if I can get myself used to it. Not on The Novel of course, but this and other stuff.
I am sick. Sniffling, sneezing, coughing, stuffy-head, nasty cold sick. I thought I was better, but then yesterday it hit me again with a vengeance. The rest of the family seems fine - thank heavens - but I am wishing for a nice, warm, dark cave to crawl into for a few days. Instead I have 4am feedings and a 4 year old who wakes up at the crack of dawn, followed by her baby brother. Please, let them not get sick. I don't think I could handle it this week.
I do have to say how appreciative I am that they wake up exuberantly - it's hard to be unhappy, regardless of how I feel physically, when I am awoken by two blissfully cheerful cherubs. Even with the hard moments, I truly do delight in my children. I can't imagine a better thing than having them.
Allie asked for the Overnight Butterscotch Buns recipe, so I thought I'd share it with everyone. It has a different actual name, that is just what I call them.
Julie Badger
Meridian Magazine
Easter 2005
18 to 20 Rhodes frozen rolls
1 (3 oz.) pkg. butterscotch pudding (not instant)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup melted butter
Arrange frozen rolls in a greased Bundt pan. Sprinkle pudding, brown sugar and pecans over rolls. Drizzle butter over all. Cover with damp towel and let rise overnight or about 12 hours. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool 10 to 20 minutes before inverting to a serving plate.

Lara's note: We have theorized that this recipe what could be made with any flavor of pudding and add-ins.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday, Monday...

"The common conception is that motivation leads to action, but the reverse is true — action precedes motivation. You have to prime the pump and get the juice flowing, which motivates you to work on your goals. Getting momentum going is the most difficult part of the job, and often taking the first step is enough to prompt you to make the best of your day."
— Robert J McKain

I so grew up listening to The Mamas and the Papas... I can sing the lyrics to almost all of their songs. My parents both liked their music but I remember listening to them with my mama, first on the record player, then on tape. My husband recently took a tape a snitched from my parents when I left home - the Greatest Hits album - and converted it to mp3 so we can listen to it on the computer, worn out though the recording is after a good 20 year stay on my play list!
It's Monday again, and this week is for cleaning, tidying, menu-making and trying to stay calm about the impending descension (is that a word?) of guests coming next week. I'm having a hard time getting myself into that mode where I'm thrilled to be getting my house in order. I'm not as sick as I was over the weekend, so that is good, I just feel like doing nothing.
We've ordered the new queen size air bed and the plan is to clean up the study, move Princess' single bed into there for Granny and put the air bed in Princess' bedroom for Grandma M. Still need to decide about begging, borrowing, stealing (or buying) sheets for the air bed... We had thought to just by a king size air bed so we could use the sheets we already have, but there is no place large enough in our house for another bed that size without removing other large pieces of furniture!
I also need to figure out food for the Blessing Day dinner. So far I have: frozen mini frozen spanakopita and a huge ham and that is it. I have a couple other ideas, like my Apple Feta Arugula salad and Overnight Butterscotch Buns... but the menu is not easily taking shape at this point.
My sister-in-law is having her directing debut this weekend! Wish we were there, but instead I'll send flowers. I've never met a theatrical type (myself included) who didn't appreciate a floral tribute!
Why can I not get the spacing to work except spordically and accidentally? Anytime I try to fix the spacing, bad, bad things happen.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The person who says it cannot be done
should not interrupt the person who is doing it.
- Chinese Proverb
Writing 50,000 words in 30 days has been on my mind a lot, especially the breakdown. It's Twelve and a half thousand words a week. That sounds like a large number of words to me. When it's broken down by day, it's about 1786 words per day. That seems do-able I think. This morning I started working an idea out in my head... and trying to decide when I will find time for these 1786 words in my daily schedule!
My biggest concern there is that we have company coming for Baby Bear's blessing Oct 30-Nov 6. Both my mother and my mother-in-law will be here... and I may find it difficult to entertain and write my 1786. And if I skip the first week I'd never catch up.
I think I'll head in the fantasy direction... romance and good verses evil included of course. I have to write something that I am actually interested in reading. Considering character names. I have a handful of good heroine names to choose from that I've created for my WoW characters, but no hero name list. My husband has a few interestingly named characters, but none that I adore. Clearly I have a some prep I can do.
Are real writers banned from using emoticons? Does it show a lack of literary intelligence that sometimes I just feel like the only way I can express myself is with a little face made from a parethese and a colon? :)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Writing and dreaming

"Self trust is the essence of heroism"
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last night I dreamed about a dancing, and a friend I had when I was a teenager whose given name was Molly Shenandoah. I always loved her name and it seemed to fit her. Being a child of the 70's in a small Washington self-proclaimed hippy town, I had lots of friends with unusual names - in my 2nd grade class their were girls named Butterfly & Cinnamon and boy named Reefer (no joke). But Molly's name wasn't just unusual, it was lovely.

Molly was tall and pretty and smart. She was a great dancer and she had a boyfriend I wanted (and eventually got a half dozen years later). She was a year or two older than me, thrillingly Californian and very kind.

After she moved, we kept in touch on and off... the odd phone call and Christmas card, meeting up occasionally when she came to town. She was someone I called when I heard at 20 the devastating pronouncement from a doctor that I would never carry a child. Since proved wrong... but at the time as a young newly-wed, very much wanting a baby, I was crushed.

What she said to me was one of the most comforting things anyone said during the following 8 years of childlessness. "Some people are just meant to be mothers, and you are one of them. Somehow you'll find a way. You'll be a wonderful mother."

I dreamed we were taking a modern dance class in the gorgeous room on the top floor of the local YMCA that I taught in for a number of years. She was married and expecting a baby. We were so excited because we were again in a place where our lives matched enough that we could keep up with one another again.

Being one who believes in the power of dreams, got out of bed and Googled her :) She is married, is living in Ohio and had a baby about a year ago! Weird. She and her husband run a spicy pickle company and she works with a local group whose mission is "to educate, support and empower women as they journey through pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period". I think I'll write her this week. Who knows. Maybe it's our time again.


I've joined NaNoWriMo. I'm nuts. But Allie offered home made chocolate truffles. What was I supposed to do? I have NO IDEA what to write. The quote at the beginning of this post was to remind me that I can do this and I need to trust that I can.

BTW, that old boyfriend of Molly's? The one I went out with years later? He introduced me to Allie and after a dozen years she and I are still great friends.

Monday, October 1, 2007

"In my opinion, the teaching, rearing, and training of children requires more intelligence, intuitive understanding, humility, strength, wisdom, spirituality, perseverance, and hard work than any other challenge we might have in life." - James E. Faust


Think so? The last few days have definitely been a challenge. Baby Bear has hit a growth spurt I suppose and wants to a) eat or b) cry. I'm tired, I am overwhelmed and my house is dirtier than it has ever been in my whole life. Calgon, take me away. My husband took one look at my face when he came home for lunch and asked if I needed my passport :)
His 8 week check-up on Friday weighed him in at a whopping 14 lb 5 oz and almost 26 inches long. Princess' 4-year check was a week ago today and she is considered tall, but both are completely and absolutely healthy from the doctor's perspective, so that makes me happy and relieved. Our new pediatrician is wonderful. He is one of the very best doctors I have ever had for anything! He listens, he's not in a rush, and he treats us all (even the kids) like actual people.
In four weeks we have family coming to visit for Baby Bear's blessing day. This is not a christening (we don't do that in our church), but more of a name-giving ceremony and a bestowal of gifts (blessings). It sounds like we will have a house full and more! So far the RSVP list include my mother & mother-in-law, and the family of my husband's oldest brother (4 kids, 2 adults). Probably we can also count on my sister and her boyfriend, my brother, and my dad and his wife. Remember me saying my house is dirtier than it has ever been in my life? I shouldn't be blogging. I should be scrubbing. And sorting and shelving and throwing junk away! If I spent all day every day on this house I am not sure it could be ready in time. This is one of those moments I am tempted to sell my soul for the means to have a maid!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Falling Short

You are successful the moment you start moving toward a worthwhile goal. - Chuck Carlson
So, it's been a couple weeks since I wrote, and I'm trying not to beat myself for flaking out. I'm trying really hard right now to figure out the juggling act that is parenting 2 kids and running my house and doing stuff I like to do. I'd gotten into a good groove just before Baby Bear was born, and now I feel overwhelmed and struggling again.
Physically I feel great (except for lack of sleep), but the day to day stuff is driving me nuts. You've seen one of my "to-do" lists, and I know that I can be a little...ambitious when it comes to deciding what needs to happen in my life. At this point, I'm attempting to look at what is really important to me - what HAS to happen each day - and, well, shorten the list.
To me, shortening the list feels like falling down on the job. It feels like watching a ball you only took your eye off for a millisecond drift out to sea, knowing you'll probably never hold it again. If I take it off the list, will I ever be able to justify the luxury of putting it back on?
I wish I could do more. I wish there were more hours in the day. Last night, Princess & I were cuddling on the couch for a bit after Baby Bear fell asleep and she said to me in this adorable, drowsy, 4-year-old voice: "I wish I never had to take time to sleep". I know the feeling.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

More party plans

The box from Oriental Trading came today and we are so excited! I also recieved the Luau CD in the mail, and it sounds great! I checked out the Balloon Time 30 count at two stores yestersay while I ws out, and with the coupon I won on eBay, I will be able to get it for about $10! My original plan was to spend $20 at the grocery store for 22 balloons, but I realized we couldn't fit them in the car to transport them... this way we'll get more bang for our buck AND be able to blow them up on site! Afterwards we can gift them to other kids at the park :)

I ordered parrot stickers off eBay today as well for our "Pin the Parrot in the Nest" game. I will laminate them on card stock for the kids to use and have my husband (who is an artist), paint a tree with a nest in it on blank newsprint. We're going to limbo and do an octopus ring toss in a kiddie pool.

The chips and bottled water have been purchased - I tried to buy juice boxes too, but Costco was out! Totally and completely out of ALL juice boxes! I'm going to have to get them elsewhere as they won't be in for another ten days or so they said. This weekend I want to fill the pinata and the goodie bags, get the games squared away, wrap Princess' gifts and get the cake ordered. I love parties :) Planning, executing and attending!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Loving my job (even though the baby didn't sleep last night)!

"To love what you do and feel that it matters--how could anything be more fun?"
Katharine Graham

We made it through all of church on Sunday for the first time in months and months! I love the feeling of sitting in church with my husband and children, singing hymns my family has sung for generations, listening to the blessings on the sacramental bread and water - the same ones that have been said for generations, relaxing into the rhythm of my spirituality. Granted this is hard to do with the kids in tow, but I love them so much, I would rather do the Sunday Struggle, then imagine my life without them.

For the first time since I joined CU as a professor and then as I continued as the Dean, I created my own degree plans last semester and started working on goals for myself. One of the areas I decided to pursue was the College of Career Enhancement. This college was created so that women in any stage of their lives could work on "enhancing" their career skills, whether they work at home with their children or outside their home.

I'm a stay at home mom. I'm a lot of other things too, but when a blank form asks for my occupation, that is the closest thing to the truth! The first 2 goals I chose to work on were:

- Go to work with a positive attitude all month.

- Express enthusiasm for your job to your boss or co-worker.

These were huge things for me. The opportunity to be reminded daily of how much I love what I do and who I do it for has really changed me for the better. I've taken to telling my husband and my children that they are my favorite job and how much I love to be with them and take care of them... and every time I say it out loud, it reminds me why I chose this "career" instead of becoming a professional ballerina. I love what I do and I know it matters - nothing could be more fun (or more beautifully challenging).

Saturday, September 1, 2007


I grew up with this little song:

Saturday is a special day.
It’s the day we get ready for Sunday:
We clean the house, and we shop at the store,
So we won’t have to work until Monday.
We brush our clothes, and we shine our shoes,
And we call it our get-the-work-done day.
Then we trim our nails, and we shampoo our hair,
So we can be ready for Sunday!

Usually, we only get a few of these things done, but today we have a lot of them on the list. When I am done writing this, I'll start the dishwasher, get cleaned up and take Princess shopping with me (mostly returns). Later we'll get the kids washed and trimmed, pack The Church Bag and lay out the clothes for tomorrow morning. Our congregation meets at 9 a.m., which is way too early for me, thus getting there on time takes a fair amount of planning. Each year we switch times with several other congregations that meet in our building and can I just say how thrilled I will be in January when we are meeting at 11 a.m.? Thrilled.


My "to do" list is always too long... this is what I dream of getting done today:

- blog
- water indoor plants & the yard
- take Princess outside to play
- dishes done
- read with my husband
- scripture study
- write in my journal
- mail baby presents to my cousin Kate & friend Danica
- get baby present for my friend Patty ready to take to church tomorrow
- tidy house
- read to Princess & Baby Bear
- write a love note to my husband
- delete 100 emails from my inbox
- bake cookies with Princess
- spend some time on my church work
- write some prose (fanfiction most likely)
- write thank you notes for Baby Bear's gifts & Princess' birthday gifts
- art or craft with Princess
- dinner on the table
- write some poetry
- give my husband a foot rub
- work on my family history
- create Fall Semester calendar for CU
- scripture games with Princess
- scripture study with my husband
- list stuff on eBay
- call my grandma & my friend Sabrina
- help Princess decide on something nice to do for someone else
- play World of Warcraft with my husband

Friday, August 31, 2007

Birthday cake #1 & a blessedly cheap baby!

Yesterday I truly tried to get the Hawaiian Cake made. The day was crazy. Baby fussing, phone ringing off the hook, Mr. Fix-it coming over to cut holes in the walls. By the time we had time to bake, Princess was totally not interesting and Papa was busy helping Mr. Fix-it, so couldn't hold his screaming son. At 8:45 p.m. we turned off the stove (which had been pre-heating for 4 hours) and I took Princess to the grocery store to choose a little cake before the bakery closed.

Initially she wanted chocolate, but the lure of this white cake with it's bright orange frosting, sprinkles and four plastic sunshine rings was more that she could resist. Our local grocery store, which I love, does all of it's baking from scratch and the cake with light, moist and delicious. Hate the white frosting, but I've never met white bakery frosting I did like, so that was okay. The bakery lady let her choose a color and wrote on it and Princess was in heaven. We also got home from the store with ice cream, strawberry sauce, chocolate sauce, milk & a new matchbox car.
I misjudged the candle supply, so Papa lit a wooden match for the poor child to blow out, we sang fast, opened a few presents and ate our ice cream & cake by 10 p.m. and we all went to bed. This is probably the last year I can get away with such haphazard planning, eh?
There were some complications during Princess' birth and even with good insurance it cost us several thousand dollars out of pocket. We aren't complaining - everyone is okay and we know it could have been worse financially and health wise. This time around, the hospital has a new policy and wants $250 upfront before the delivery - if you overpay they'll have the billing department issue a refund. We meant to do it, but kept forgetting. This week we got the bill for Baby Bear and my husband waited a few days to open it, dreading to see the total. When he opened it, he came practically running in to me, waving it and sputtering. When he managed to speak it was to tell me that bill totalled $99.74. Wow. Guess having the baby in one push, 20 minutes after arriving at the hospital and going home less than 24 hours later because everyone is happy and healthy makes a difference! I was feeling guilty about not getting that deposit in (for which they charged us $10.20 - so the delivery really only cost $89.54), but now I feel much better - we saved the billing department the hassle of processing our refund!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Doing What You Have to Do & Princess' Birthday

"Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man's training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly."

Thomas H. Huxley
English biologist (1825-1895)

True, isn't it? I didn't get lots done yesterday and at the end of the day, when my daughter was hungry and the baby was napping and the cable guys had been here for a couple hours and my husband needed to be picked up from work, the last thing I felt like doing was being "fun". Yet that is exactly what my family needed me to be. It's interesting that we usually consider the thing we "have to do" as something unpleasant, when it is sometimes a thing we wouldn't mind doing if we were in a better mood or had more energy.

So I did what I needed to do... I packed the kids in the car, stopped to grab dinner at the drive up window of the hot dog stand, picked my husband up and took them to the park. We ate, we played on the jungle gym (yes, all of us - mama even went down the swirly slide), Princess ran through the sprinklers in her new butterfly swim suit and then we headed home. Laundry and dishes and mess still abound, but we all went to bed happy.

Yesterday we decided on a date for Princess' birthday party and reserved the shelter at the park we ate at last night. Today I made my order from Oriental Trading for games, prizes, goodies and decor, including the treasure chest pinata! I also made the guest list and we decided to do messages in a bottle for invitations. I am excited and so is Princess. Usually our parties are not this "store-bought"... but I need the help this year and the shopping is fun :)

Today is her actual birthday and this morning when we woke up I told her the story of her birth as I usually do. Tonight we'll have Hawaii BBQ take out, make a Hawaiian Cake and give her a few gifts, including the coin collecting supplies papa picked out for her on his lunch break today :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Chaos is good?

Recently I read an article in one of those free parenting magazine's you get at your OB's office, that chaos is good for babies. They essentially said that since you never know what will strike a child's creative fancy, having a lot of stuff sitting around all the time can give their little brains lots of stimulation. As I read this, I felt a pang of relief! Thank heavens! My less-than-walk-through-able house isn't just one more thing to feel guilty about! In fact, it's helping baby bear's neural pathways to develop and princess' creative juices to flow :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I went out to check on the garden today and we have some huge yellow zucchini, some beans, a few tiny tomatoes and a few strawberries! Birds are getting most of the berries, sadly. I decided I wanted a garden this year, and then I got pregnant. Last time my "nesting" took the form of stocking up on burp cloths, bibs and diapers. This time, I was obsessed with the garden. My dear husband humored me and hauled rocks, dug dirt, planted seeds and built raised beds. The transformation of our back yard was amazing, frankly. I am so grateful for such a great guy!

So after we got everything planted, I freaked out a little and could only bear to go look at it every few days. I was sure everything was going to die, sure it would be some kind of bad omen for a pregnant lady to kill all her plants! What can I say. Pregnancy hormones can be fun.

With the new baby here, I haven't had much time to care for the garden lately. My husband has helped a lot and kept things watered, but we lost many of our original seedlings. I love being in the garden! It is so amazing to me that you can plant a seed and grow food and flowers on par with what you find in the best stores. Next year I hope we can get started earlier since we've missed our window with most things and won't have much harvest before the weather turns too cold. Our growing season is short here in the pacific northwest!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Another Day...

Yesterday was exhausting, so nothing from me. Today has been exhausting, but here I am nonetheless. I struggle greatly with balancing routine with whatever I feel like doing at the moment. I want the security of knowing that certain things will happen at roughly the same time every day, yet the ability to prioritize a little differently as stuff comes up. Just when I think I've come up with a solution, I get stuck, bogged down by too much routine or too many extras. Today I'm overwhelmed so I guess it is time to think outside the box again.

Change your thoughts, and you change your world.
-Norman Vincent Peale

Saturday, August 25, 2007

August is almost over. The next few weeks mark several milestones for me... my daughter will turn 4 years old next week, and the week after that is my 11th wedding anniversary. Plans?

The princess wants a "pirate luau", so right now my brain is working overtime on figuring that out. I've already decided to purchase (gasp) a cake from the (gasp) grocery store, which is unheard of in my family. I'm also considering having the party somewhere other than my home, which is too cozy for a handful of toddlers and parents to play comfortably in. The weather has been really great, so a park might be just the ticket. On the other hand, the Northwest is known for raining on parades... so we'll have to have alternate plans if we do that. Why all this deviation from tradition? I have a new baby. He's a great baby, but his sleeping/eating/changing schedule leaves little time for things like creating a pathway through the rubble for guests to hang out at our house or baking birthday cakes from scratch. I am also buying the pinata, but will try and manage to stuff it myself.

We usually celebrate our anniversary at home over pasta (his with lobster, mine with basil pesto). This year we probably continue the tradition of not leaving the house, and our anniversary present lists have been narrowed down to one thing that we both want: a full night's sleep. The other thing we try to do is visit the place we were married around the time of our anniversary. We've only missed a couple years of doing this and I hope we manage it this year. There is something wonderful about visiting the place we made sacred vows with one another and realizing that we both consider it the best thing we've ever done.

There is a lot of reflection for me this time of year. As a kid, I always felt like the year really started in the Autumn and it still feels that way to me. There is a little wiggly-ness at buckling down and getting back to work/school/real-un-summer-life, yet also a thrill at starting again. This is the time that I make resolutions (not January) and try to decide what I want to do with myself and how to make it happen.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A late dinner of pizza & rootbeer floats

It all started a few months back, while I was still pregnant. It was a normal weekday morning, which meant my nauseous & exhausted self was sleeping in and the 3 1/2 year old had free reign of the domain. Before he left for work, her papa had made sure anything dangerous left out the night before (like an open package of Oreos or writing utensils that could be used to tag the furniture with permanent ink) had been put away and sat her down in front of PBS kids programming with a bowl of cereal.

I was woken by the princess shaking my shoulder and insisting that I come "fix" the TV. Usually when this happened, she'd pushed a button on the front of our old TV and switched it off the channel that the cable comes through to grey fuzziness, which freaks her out. I moan, I groan, I turn over, and then I get up to rescue her from static oblivion.

After a few minutes of punching buttons, I notice that much of the television appears to be damp. And smells faintly of oregano. Even in my sleepy state, this sets off an alarm, but it's a quiet one. I tell her she'll have to wait for papa to get home to fix it, get out the play dough (yes, my kid gets to play with play dough unsupervised), and head back to bed. I get up for real a couple hours later and inspect the set again. This time, I recognize that vaguely spaghetti-sauce-smelling smell: Sol-U-Guard.

Last summer I got talked into trying (joining) the MLM giant Melaleuca - only as a customer, not as a salesperson - and surprisingly, I've found I really like many of their products. I prefer cleaning products that are not horrifically poisonous to my family or the planet and it's hard to find them reasonably priced, even in the environmentally conscious (obsessed) hamlet I live in. Sol-U-Guard is their botanical disinfectant and it's great stuff. It's pretty non-toxic so I keep a bottle on the kitchen counter for clean up, and apparently the princess is now tall enough to reach it.

When confronted with the evidence, she admitted to helping me clean up the "dirty old TV" with dish towels (which she hid in a pile behind the couch) and the spray from the counter (which she put back). I thanked her and we had a discussion about asking mama or papa for the correct tools to do a cleaning job next time since different jobs require different things to clean them (i.e. do NOT spray wet stuff directly into the control panel of an electronic device).

We waited a few days for it to dry out, but the wires didn't recover. The box was ten years old, so we felt we got good use out of it, but the idea of spending ten times more than the $60 we bought it for in order to replace it made us pretty unhappy campers. I was ready to go to Wal-Mart and buy whatever was on sale and big enough for me make out the picture while sitting on the sofa. I'm pretty irritable when my television (or my Internet connection) isn't working right. My husband remained level-headed and spent a week researching the best options in flat screen home theater systems. When all was said and done, we had 5.1 surround sound and a TV that could be mounted on the wall.

Fabulous! But we really weren't wired for all that, and none of the new stuff would fit in our old entertainment center... so we now have a living room theater with so much extra furniture in it you can't walk without tripping, and enough wiring strewn about to string up a suspension bridge (or alternately trip and break an ankle on). We've tried selling the furniture on craigslist, but despite the fact that it's nice stuff, no one seems to be in the market for it.

So yesterday, the guy who helps us with home improvement projects beyond our capabilities (which is most everything) came to drill holes, get the cables off the floor and start work on remodeling the shelves that will be on the wall that the TV will be on when we get the furniture gone and can actually put it up. S helps him out and finally we think of dinner at about 7:30pm. It would have been earlier except Mr. Fix-it brought his daughter and she was playing out in the backyard distracting the princess. I was feeding baby bear & folding the mountains of laundry which cover almost every surface at this point.

Through the open window I heard the neighbors ordering pizza and lost no time ordering some up myself. I went to pick it up and swung by the store to pick up root beer (Hansen's all natural was on sale and I feel way less guilty when I buy that instead of the "unnatural" varieties lining the 2 liter shelves) and vanilla ice cream (Breyers, with the little black vanilla specks in it, also on sale, so I stocked up). By the time we were eating it was after 8pm, and we finished around 9pm, just as Mr. Fix-it left.

Now, I could have prepared pbj sandwiches for everyone, mixed up some frozen lemonade and left it at that... but some days you have to let the magic in. Eating pizza and root beer floats with my daughter in the warm summer dusk, way past bed time, is one of those moments that I'm glad I didn't let pass me by. There will be plenty of nights ahead for sticking to routines and creating order out of the chaos. Yet as I write that last sentence, I realize that last night was something I want to make sure is part of our lives on a regular basis. I want "order" to mean joy amid the chaos and I want the ability for spontaneity to be "routine" in our lives.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

First Post & Replacements - Tupperware & Parents

And we're off. I still feel a little reticent about the concept of publishing my thoughts and feelings for any random person to consider... it seems sort of like carving L + S = TLFE into a park bench. A pretty public declaration that you might regret later if a) you get caught or b) you change your mind.

I've spent some time this week catching up on some of my own favorite blogs and I really do enjoy reading about other people's "stuff" - food, kids, favorite television.I also came up on a sort of photo blog on flickr this week - Matt McGee's 2006: 1 photo/365 days and I had a great time going through and looking at the progression of a year in someone's life, through their lens (no pun intended).

This interest in connections with people you don't know but have something in common with, plus my love of writing is what is motivating me to start this blog. I haven't written much in the last year, but I am hoping this will give me a push to write at least something everyday.


My almost-4-year-old has chewed through our first set of Sipper Seals. I remember doing it myself as a kid (we had the same Bell Tumblers) because there is something seriously irresistable about the combination of semi-hard plastic and child-size chompers. So I went looking for someone to buy new ones from - a Tupperware Lady!

The prices were not outrageous, but I admit to being quite tight-fisted when it comes to shipping costs. It's the only thing I hate about online shopping. I look for coupons, I look for discounts, I take my business elsewhere. Now, the shipping prices listed where not unreasonable... but it's my least, least, least favorite kind. Flate rate, PLUS. The more you order, the more you pay. So I started looking elsewhere and ended up saving a bunch of money on eBay! I love eBay and one of my most favorite things about it is that ith most sellers, the more you buy the bigger the shipping discount. Happy me! I also stocked up on a few Modular Mates (storage containers, not a dating service), since my daughter has decided we need 4 different kinds of cold cereal open at any given time and I hate stale cereal. I considered getting some new ice cream keeper fresher thingys, but apparently they don't make these anymore, so I'll need to spend a little more time on eBay to find some reasonably priced.


My husband came home for lunch and began updating the insurance paperwork to reflect the new addition to our family. Our son is almost a month old now and in the course of the discussion this afternoon, an oft-contemplated-never-resolved topic arose. Who gets the kids, should both parents perish? The problem seems to boil down to the fact that while we are related to and have friendships with many wonderful people who adore our kids, none of them are us. Some live where we would choose to raise our children. Some share the same religious convictions. Some have the same sort of common sense that we have. Some share child-rearing philosophies. Some would treat our children as their own (which could be good or bad). But no one family has everything we desire for and strive to give to our children emotionally, spiritually or environmentally.

We've been struggling with this since our daughter was born almost four years ago and we have yet to put anything in writing. There are periods when I don't think about it at all, and then there are days when it worries me to no end. The thought of leaving my kids devastates me and yet the thought of leaving them without a sure custodian that I trust freaks me out even more. At this point, I'm hoping that my lack of clear direction in all of this is a sign that it won't be an issue any time soon! As my husband said on his way back to work - I guess we need to think a little longer before we decide. How do you choose different parents for your children than the ones they already have?