Showing posts from 2014

In the Doghouse

We built a dog house... for our cats.

It has been so bitter cold here for the past little bit, and I felt bad for our poor kitties.  We have two cats who lived quite comfortably in the house - in our last house.  When we moved in with my dad, they were relegated to be outdoor cats because of my dad's allergies.  They coped just fine with that, only occasionally sneaking in the house (and regularly sneaking in the garage).  But when the snow and the cold came, they had no shelter.  Poor kitties.
So David and Eddie and I went over to a kind neighbor (the greatest scout leader ever!) who helped us cut and assemble this dog house.  It was pretty easy, as the directions were all nice and clear at the Lowes website.  

Just one sheet of 4x8 plywood, cuts, some 2x4s, a bunch of screws, and we were done in a morning.
We brought it home and painted it green in the kitchen.  Because I could only find green paint and pink paint, and because the kitchen is the only place to paint when it'…

The Christmas Decorations

We've finally got the Christmas decorations taken down.  It has been a trial this year, since I have my own decorations, as well of those of my mother.  She loved to decorate for Christmas!  She loved the lights and the mistletoe and the pictures on the windows.  She had Christmas tablecloths and garlands and doorknob jingles and even a Santa toilet lid cover.  At one time, she had a Christmas tree in ever room of the house!  One had pictures of  us kids growing up, one was decorated all in white and angels, one had bubbling water lights, one had golden balls and red apples...  it was fun to see.  Fortunately for me, she started downsizing before she passed away, so I had a bit less to go through.  
Going through it all, sorting out which things to keep and getting ready to set things up
We set up the angel tree in my dad's room and our Christmas tree in the front room.  That's about all the space we had.  I put up a bunch more decorations than I usually do (remember Mom=h…

The Police Car

We recently had a police car pull up in front of our house.  The door opened and... out jumped my husband?  He had a discontinued police car down at the dealership and wanted to drive it around a bit.  My happened to come over just then, and he got to drive it, too.  Evidently the thing has some get-up-and-go to it!  While they were talking, the kids turned on the lights, and then siren.  That thing is LOUD!

Of course, all the kids wanted to have a ride in it, too.  I got a kick out of seeing them through the bars in the window.  You be good now, you hear?

They had a great time going for rides.  It was all fun until a neighbor boy locked his own hands in the handcuffs, and we had no key.  They had to drive back to the dealership and fortunately someone there could free him.  See what happens when you mess around with the law?

24 Days of Giving

Every year, our big extended family on Trent's side likes to do a service project.   The past few years, we've purchased fleece and tied blankets for the Linus Project.  When all of us work together, we get quite a pile of blankets!  It's great to be part of something helpful like that.
This year, instead of doing an all-together service project, each family was asked to do their own projects.  We hunted for a while, wanting at first to do something epic.  But epic projects require epic amounts of money...  Then we wanted to do something for folks in South Africa or Madagascar.  For some reason, we have an affinity for those two places!  But we don't have enough knowledge or time to find something there.  And I'd really love to do something where the kids can be directly involved and see what good things happen when we serve.
So we finally settled on a smaller project that requires a bit of service every day.  Instead of one big project, we will be doing lots of l…

The Formal Dance

Isn't this boy cuteadorable handsome?  Psh.  They get older and we have to quit using the adjectives that are the most descriptive. 

He got asked to the girl's choice formal dance - by a girl he knew he was supposed to know but he didn't know who she was.  It was a bit embarrassing and tense for a bit, but he figured it all out and now has a friend out of this cute girl.  So glad my kids have good friends to hang out with!

He wanted to make her corsage, and in finding out what color her dress was, he came up with a new, unfamiliar word: burgundy.  What the heck was that? I had to pull up a color chart so he could learn that burgundy was just a deep, rich, not-purply red.  

No, this was not the chart I pulled up for him.  But it does describe his expression when I started going over the finer nuances of different colors.  Eventually we got it all figured out and bought the stuff.  He helped me to make the corsage, and I think he is ready to do the next one by himself.  Awe…

The Musical!

David has been taking a musical theater class this year, and really enjoys it.  One of his requirements is to participate in the school musical.  

He auditioned, and got the part of a Wickersham in the school's production of "Seussical."  We had to put an advertising poster in our yard, or a vinyl ad on our car.  We got the vinyl, and managed to smooth it out and pick all the letters back together after Georgie played with it and smashed them all up.  

He loves being on the stage, and performing in front of people.  I don't know where he got those genes, as that thought terrifies me.  I've only acted on stage once or twice, and it was terrible.  I'll happily leave that to those who enjoy it.  Like David.  And like Trent!  He was in the the drama club in high school and very much enjoyed his time performing in various plays and musicals.  Good for them.  Every play needs an audience, and applause is one part I can handle!

Good Morning, Good Morning!

I remember hearing my mother's voice as she walked through the house.  She would sometimes sing a little song in the mornings, as a cheerful way to wake us up, I suppose.

Way up in the sky
Is where the little birds fly.
And down in the valley
The little birds rest.

With a wing on the left
And a wind on the right,
The little birds sleep
All through the night.

Then up comes the sun
And the dew goes away.
"Good morning, good morning!"
The little birds say.

I walked through our neighborhood this morning, listening to all of the voices singing.  The voices were of the feathered variety, and there were sure a lot of them!  It seems that every tree had birds tucked among the branches.  There were chirpers and tweeters, squawkers and even a few warblers.  I wish I knew enough about birds to be able to identify their songs, but I love listening to them.  Our street sounded like Saturday morning at the Tweedlebug market, Good morning to you, too!

The weather has turned cold, and the summer bi…

Mission Monday

It's Christmastime at our house!  I think we are actually running a little bit late.  A package only takes about 2-4 weeks to get to South Africa, but they are currently having a postal strike, so who knows?  It can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months to get a package to Madagascar, so we are crossing our fingers.  Here are the contents of the first two packages.  We wrap things and put them in padded envelopes - I hear those get there better.  Oh, and the packages going to Madagascar get Jesus stickers stuck all over them.  Evidently, the people don't want to rip Jesus's face so the packages don't get broken into.  We still need to get a few things, and we'd better hurry!

From Madagascar:
Let's see, other than the water being cut, the power keeps getting cut too. Not that that's a big deal, because if we try to make toast while the dryer is going the power dies... However, it's been especially bad the past few weeks and we have our candles set up a…

10 Easy Steps to a Clean Pantry

This was my pantry the other day - after I had declared war on it and had already worked on it for a while.  The doors were hard to open, everything was crazily stuffed in, the chaos on the floor was nearly knee-high, and I could never find anything.  As an organized person, I made an followed a plan.  It will be easy!  Remove, clean, toss, decide, stack, corral, purchase, label, tidy, photograph!
10 Easy Steps to a Clean Pantry
1. Remove.  Take everything out.  Ignore teenagers who are trying to walk through through the mess and grumbling.  You have to make a bigger mess before you can clean one up.
2. Clean.  Wipe down shelves and doors.  Scrape off old, unknown blobs.  Scrub at grease and oil stains for a while before giving up.  Sweep the floor.  Deodorize a little, if needed.
3. Toss.  Throw out anything obviously gross or rotting.  Put these items in the garbage, underneath something else so they won't be found and returned to the pantry.
4. Decide.  Determine what you want to d…

A Camping We Will Go

A little bit ago we decided to up and go camping.  We had Opa with us, so actual tent camping was out.  We hadn't really planned ahead, so most everything else was out.  Trent came up with a cabin that some of he relations used as a hunting lodge, made a few calls, and off we went.  
Trent and the boys went down on Wednesday evening, and the little ones went with me and Opa the next afternoon.  Trent figured that since one hunting season ended on Thursday, while the next hunt didn't begin until Saturday, that we would have the place to ourseles.  It didn't turn out exactly that way, but the boys had a good time.
The bigger three boys spent some time target-shooting with BB guns.  There were a few targets hung in the trees, and the plink or ding of a target hit was a common sound.  When they put the guns away, there were always 4-wheelers to zoom about on.  It was a far cry from the quiet forest I had been envisioning.  The riding up and down trails was curtailed somewhat …

Mission Monday

What's that?  I disappeared?  Nay, verily.  I was merely writing in invisible ink.  
Um... the truth?  I just can't write and do Halloween costumes at the same time.  And process apples.  And keep the house marginally clean.  and feed nine people thrice daily.  And write my missionaries.  But at least they write back!
From South Africa:
The work here in SACTM during the summer here is slow. Most people are away from home and they those that are home don't want to meet with us, and that makes work slow for us... Planting seeds stinks sometimes, but we have to remember that without the planting, there is no reaping the rewards from that. And we think that all of missionary work is just working on the reaping, but there is also the part of working with the ward, and building the ward....
One of the ways that we have been reaching out is through family history. So we have done a lot of work with familytree on and with some of the programs that are there. One o…

Mission Monday

From South Africa:

On Saturday, we did a little bit of a photo shoot which led to other things, but one of them was making a dummy that was life size. His name is Fred. We had a really fun time taking him and putting him in the boot (trunk) of the car, and then asking one of the members if he knew how to hide a dead body. He thought we were joking until he saw the 'body' in the car. He jerked back and muttered a few things and it took him a little bit to realize that it was just a dummy. His face was priceless, and I wish that I had taken pictures of that, but I didn't. I did however take pictures with Elder Heaton, Fred and I. Fun times that I'm going to remember for the rest of my mission.

From Madagascar:

We were just sitting down (to teach a family) ... when a gendarme (police/soldier) comes in and sits down to listen. We prayed and started teaching the family and he starts interrupting all the time. We kept teaching as best we could...Anyway, once we (answered his…

Mission Plaques

There is a tradition that goes back as long as I can remember to honor those who are currently serving missions.  Just before they leave, they are "given" a plaque with their picture, the name of their mission and when they are serving, and sometimes the missionary's favorite scripture.  The missionary-to-be gets to hole the plaque during the Sunday meeting, but then it is hung up at the church.  I love looking at the collections of missionary plaques and seeing where they all went, and I always have a little prayer for each of them.  They are in the Lord's hands.
Alec and Ben were no exception, and they have their handsome faces on these nice wooden plaques.  However, when we moved, the old ward had to give us the plaques so we could take them to the new ward.  Due to conference and maternal forgetting, I was able to keep the plaques for a few weeks.  I loved, loved loved seeing their smiling faces in my room.  I really didn't want to give them up.
Sigh.  Event…

A Bunch of Sillies

I thought I'd take a picture of my me and the man building a playset for the kids.  See, we bought this nice, redwood fort/sandbox/slide/swingset thingie at the end of the summer.  I've been wanting a swingset for the little ones for a while, and as I passed the "play outside" aisle in the hardware store, there was only one swingset left - and it was 70 percent off!  I have a hard time making snap decisions.  I said yes, then no and started to walk away, then reconsidered and looked terribly wishy washy for the longest time.  Finally, I put my hand on the giant box, as if to protect it from the imaginary mob of Black Friday shoppers, and told Chris to go get us a big flatbed cart.
We brought it home (with three kids!  In a smallish vehicle!) and unloaded it in the back yard.  When Trent got home, I had to sheepishly confess my spontaneous purchase.  He was actually proud of me.  The next morning, we walked about the yard, trying to decide where to put it.  Here.  No…

Selfie Day 4

I was sitting on the couch, reading a book when I remembered that I hadn't shot myself today.  So I did. I love you my hair ended up all swoopy like I was stuck in the 80's.  I also loved how I was able to sneak in a picture of Chris, who hates me to take his picture.  It's ok - I hate me to take my picture, too.  How many more days do I need to do this?  Is three more enough to show my posterity that I really did exist in their lives?
Love that boy.

Mission Monday

From South Africa:

If anybody has sent me letters, I haven't gotten them because there is a mail strike here in SA. No mail is getting through, and it is in such a backed up state, even though they are trying to do their best with the mail that they have, and it is backing up, like nobody's business.

I've really enjoyed working and being in the field with our investigators. We have had some really good lessons, and have a few of our investigators really solidly progressing towards baptism. Our first date is on the 9th of November, so it is coming up quite quickly. I'm super excited and he is ready for it!

From Madagascar:

One thing that I've been hearing a lot about from Malagasies is the Ebola. They tell me that 2 people have it in America and everyone is freaking out. One Malagasy told me that the Ebola is very bad for Americans because they have huge potato processing plants and "once" Ebola gets in, everyone will get sick from their potatoes that they…

Selfie Day 3

I am not a seasoned enough selfie-taker that I can just turn on my phone and snap away.  No, the very thought makes me very, very self-conscious.  It is partly because I don't want to look like I'm taking a selfie (I must think there is something inherently wrong or vain or selfish about it... need to do some introspection there), and partly because I really do not like being in pictures.
But I wanted to show that I did, indeed go out and do something social.  With a group of people who were mostly strangers.  And at a girlie event, no less.  
Yes, I went to a baby shower.  Do not get me wrong - I am all for celebrating the coming of a new life into the world.  I am all for women uniting together in what makes us uniquely feminine.  I am all for cheering a new mother into this wonderful and frightening and joyous journey of family-making.  And I am all for this particular family.  The new baby's mother is a beautiful, gentle young woman, and her mother-in-law is the most …

Selfie Day 2

I'm not sure what caused the sad eyes, the drooping head, or the knuckles dragging on the floor, That's what "I'm hurt" looks like among the younger set of our home.  I'm sure I didn't teach them to do that, but even their oldest brothers hunched their backs, hung their heads, leaden arms hanging limply from the shoulders, slowly slinking away when they felt bad.  It's pretty pathetic looking, and it certainly tugs at my mother-heart.
I was working at the counter, trying to do some paperwork, when this little one of mine moped around the corner.  His eyes on the floor, his feel shuffled along.  I'm not sure how he didn't walk into anything, but he wouldn't have hurt himself even if he had.  He came and stood beside me for a minute, then reluctantly lifted his head to show me his tear-stained face.  He lifted his arms and quietly pleaded, "Hold me, Mommy."  What else could I do?  I lifted him into my arms and held him, heart to h…

Where is Mom?

We were up in the canyon, all happily shooting the vibrant fall colors.  I had my nice camera (that I just found in a box!), David had the little point-and-shoot, Chris had his phone, and Eddie borrowed the iPhone.  After a few minutes, watching them all soak in the view and point out an especially beautiful spot, I wondered what we would do with these pictures.  Keep them on the memory card, most likely.  I knew I would share some on the blog here, but as I haven't found the camera cords, I wouldn't be able to get the pictures off the big camera.  Anything I wanted to share would have to come from the phone.  
And why would I want to share it, anyway?  Usually we share pictures to show that we went somewhere, or to remind us of occasions.  I love to look back and see my children happy.  My favorite scenic shots are of the view... with my family in front.  I'd rather have a picture that tells a story than a postcard-perfect vista.  And then I remembered this article about…

Mission Monday

I've been better about writing my boys than I have been about writing here.  All is can do is mumble something about a mother's love and promises to repent and I'll back-date a few posts I had mostly-written by not-yet-posted.  Sorry!

From South Africa:

We helped one of our investigators move into the other missionaries area and lost them. I'm super bummed about that. I loved teaching them. We got to watch general conference this week, and re watch it when we had time, so it was really cool. I can't wait to get the Liahona with all of the talks written out. It was such an amazing experience to get to see it and to hear it. I love the gospel and it is so amazing how it has blessed me so far. I only wish that I could do more but I can only do the little bit that I can.

I hit my six month mark which meant that there was a tie to be burnt. :)

From Madagascar:

 I have found a new outlet of my personal funds... There is a very good tailor here in Antsirabe and I'm go…

Golden Family Time

I love this time of year.  I love the colors and the crisp morning air and the crunch of leaves on the sidewalk and the smell of wood-burning fireplaces.  I love the return to hot cocoa season.  So we went outside to enjoy it.  After a drive, we were in the middle of so much fall beauty!  Love, love love.

I love this amazing world, and these wonderful people.  Thanks, Lord, for so much.  Happy mama, me.


I know, I often write about haircuts.  But that's part of what I do.  I am responsible for making sure that my children are neat and presentable.  And we had a few shaggy dogs running around here.  I've searched for the hair cutting scissors, I have.  That's why I was in the storage garage yesterday.  But no luck.

I finally called Grandma (bless the grandmothers of the world!) and Trent brought me over her hair cutting kit.  A few minutes later, Eddie looked good again.  And shorn.  Maybe a bit too short, but that's how he likes it right now.  

And he's done complaining about the state of his hair.  For a few weeks anyway, which is good because Grandma needed her clippers back.  Meanwhile, I'll keep looking.  
Is there anything in the good mother's handbook that says I can't trim sideburns and bangs with a pair of children's blunt-nosed safety scissors?  I hope not, 'cuz I just did the twins and the girl.  Shhhh...

Cold Storage

Looking at this picture, I'm feeling like I want to become a minimalist.  Yup.  Let's backpack through Europe, honey, with only the things in our packs!  No stuff, no furniture, no worries!

This, unfortunately, is our storage garage.  Or part of it, anyway.  The place is huge.  We. Have. So. Much. Stuff!  
A lot of it is furniture, that we didn't have time to sell due to the quick and unexpected nature of our move.  A lot of it is movies and cords and screens and wires and dead computers and other electronics.  I don't get that one.  A lot more of it is clothes - winter coats, snow boots, jeans-to-grow-into hand-me-downs, and baby twin clothes?  Some of it belongs to Alec, and some of it belongs to Ben, as we store away their favorite things while they are gone.  Some of it is memories that I just can't throw out, and some of it is valuable things that someone thinks should be sold instead of donated.
And some of it is my husband, and some of it is Eddie.  Hello u…

Take Me Away!

It's been one of those days.  Everywhere I turned, someone wanted me.  
"Mom!  Can I play games on the computer?"   "Mom?  What is for after-school snack?" "Mom?  Angel is in the street again." "Mom!  Log me on!" "Mom!  I'm hungry!" "Moooooooommmmmm <sniffle> heeeee hit meeeee!" "Mom?  What's for dinner?" "Mom? Oh wait.  When will Dad get home?" "Mom!  I'm hungry!"
Mind you, I like being wanted.  I think everyone wants to know that they are important.  But when my services are so insistently demanded, I get a little worn out.  It's kind of like this old Calgon commercial.  Watch this - I love it!

So when life gets rough, just get in your giant sunken bathtub with some bath salts or bubbles or magic potion and it will transport your exhausted, naked body to the top of an ancient Grecian temple,  There, the blue skies and fluffy clouds and amazing vistas will instantly me…

Mission Monday

Here a few snippets from our missionary boys.  They both sound happy, so that makes me a happy mom.

From South Africa:

Conference was my highlight for this week! It was so awesome. I love hearing from the prophets and learning at their feet. They are so knowledgeable, and wise. It is kinda hard to watch here because all of the sessions are out of order, and I still haven't seen the Sunday PM session yet (we will see it later tonight), but it is still an amazing time! I love the gospel and I love the chance that I have to continually learn more and more. I can't wait to get the printed version and reread it again and again. Our bishop commented that he didn't think that it was a coincidence that conference was held on fast weekends. It was different to fast and to watch conference in that spirit.

I also have to say that I'm doing the 90 day Book of Mormon Challenge, on top of all of my other studying, and I'm currently half way done with it, and it has been an eye o…

Welcome to Conference!

We are watching LDS General Conference today.  Won't you join us here?

Why do we like Conference?  The biggest reason is because it is inspiring.  There are so many talks on different things we can do to become better, and there are always a few that just hit.  Those are the ones I know I need to take to heart and do something about.  I always feel happier after I've been listening to Conference.

Another reason to celebrate Conference is because I get to share it with people I love.  It's just nice to be able to sit around, in our pajamas, and just be together.  I love my family.  Lots.  And it's a good thing we have lots of couches.

Oh, and another Conference favorite is the fun food we have.  That's a big part of life for a group of boys.  We like to just have a table full of food that we can snack on and enjoy whenever we get hungry.  It's good fun.  This year, we will be spending Saturday with some of this.  Oh yeah.

Zucchini bread and pumpkin bread are de…

Writing, Writing, Writing

So I didn't join up with the Nester's write-every-day-for-31-days-in-October project this year.  I did last year, and the year before as well.  But this year?  Meh.  I guess it just boils down to a bad case of I-don't-want-to-itis.  Sometimes it's nice to be an adult, because no one can make me do things I don't want to.  Bwahaha!  At least that's what my kids think.  I won't go there today.

But I don't have to write every day about the same topic for a whole month if I don't want to.  And I don't want to.  I'm having a hard enough time being coherent in real life right now - being coherent in my writing would be near-impossible.  And I did get burned out after the exercise the past two years.  I'd rather just keep trying to get in a good habit of writing regularly this year.  After all, it's not like I'm trying to write a book.

This is what my book looks like.  Blank.
I went to visit the midwife who so expertly assisted us to get…

Ye Olde Sourdough

During the summer, we went to a colonial village where they were re-creating life in the 1700's.  It was fun to watch people, dressed in period costume, making and hawking their wares.  One booth that especially caught our attention was the baker.  We were lured there by the scrumptious smell of bread baking in their brick oven, and kept there by the skills of a master storyteller as he told us the history of bread and what people ate in colonial America.  
Trent procured a sourdough start and a loaf of hot bread before signing us up for a breadmaking class.  The classes weren't held for a few months, so we nearly forgot.  But we didn't.  We went to the class and had a lovely time.  We learned lots of things about our country and its early settlers, and even a thing or two about bread.  We helped make a big batch of bread, and I mean BIG!  I wish I had the capability to make this much bread at once.  The sourdough takes so long that it would be nice to just spend a day an…