Thursday, January 31, 2013

Loving Without Fine Print

One month into the year - how am I doing on my 2013 theme / idea / goal?

Better than I had been, but not nearly what I was hoping for.  I think I'll need to break it up and give myself some more specific guidelines, or smaller goals.  That might help me to focus better.  I'll have a smaller bite to think about for tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hello, Cupcake!

Sick, still sick.  Well, not sick like I'm contagious sick.  Just sick like "I've been sick for six stinking weeks and I still have this annoying cough and I can't sleep and I'm so weak and atrophied."  Pretty pathetic, I know.  I'll quit complaining now.

But it made me not want to go to the store to get a gift for my adorable niece.  She's also Angel's bestest buddy, so we couldn't just be dorks and not get a birthday present.  And I know myself well enough to know that if I give a rain check, it will never rain.  I'm so bad at getting around to things once I've put them off.  Bad procrastinator, me.  (Or is that a good procrastinator?)

So we gave the little gift the Angel picked out when we were in the store a few weeks ago (a four-year-old is better at forward thinking than I am!  For shame!), and then I made her a hat.  I don't know if she'll wear it, but we sure had fun making it.

(tried to lighten it so I could see the stitches better)

Yes, it's a giant crocheted cupcake.  That you wear on your head.  But four-year-olds can be silly and cute that way.

We kind of invented it as we went along.  Imagination and a healthy (cupcake = healthy?) understanding of real cupcake dimensions came in handy.  That, and all the cute cupcake hat pictures on etsy.  I say that "we" worked on it because Angel had to try it on every few minutes.  I needed her as my head model so that the finished product would neither be too big and sloppy, not squish one's brains out.  A fine balance, indeed.

I started on the chocolate-brown brim.  
With brown, Chain eleven, turn.  
Single crochet across - only in back loops (10 stitches).  That makes the ridged look reminiscent of fluted cupcake papers. 
Turn and repeat until it is snug (but not tight) when wrapped around head.  I think we did 40 rows?  But it goes fast.
Join last row to first (to make a tube) with sliptitch.  End and weave in ends.

Pink frosting
Double crochet around top edge of brown cupcake base with pink.  (Did I single crochet the whole thing?  It's a possibility.)  
Work in a spiral, decreasing evenly as you go to make the domed shape.
End off at the top (when the opening is too small to be able to work in anymore), but leave long ends.

Again, at the top edge of the brown cupcake base, double crochet a pink ruffle.  Work two double crochets in each stitch to make the "frosting" spilling over the edge of the cupcake.  This also hides the joining between pink and brown.

Crochet a "cherry" in red yarn.  I'm really didn't think I could do a sphere, but David cheered me on until I figured it out.  It's not that hard, but I won't deprive you of the challenge.  And I don't really remember.
Add a bit of stuffing to fill it out.  Do this before you close off the end, or you'll be poking stuffing in with a toothpick.  Don't ask how I know.
With a yarn needle, stitch the cherry to the top of the hat, hiding the last bit of hole.

The pink "frosting" looked a little droopy until she put it on , but the grins were about as perky as they come.  What a cutie!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Marshmallow Snowmen

We finally got out and played in the snow.  Every day, as the twins woke up and squinted out the window, Georgie would say, "Still.  Snow."  And Freddie would croak in with, "Need.  Build.  No.  Man."  They were dying to make some snowmen, but the snow was too powdery.  And Mom hasn't wanted to go outside.  Too sick.  Can't breathe in the yucky air.  But not today.  Finally!  We built maybe a half-dozen snowmen before the gloves got too wet and the toes got too cold and we had to come in for hot cocoa.  Looking at these faces watching me make lunch, I decided that they needed something more exciting than just PBJ (again).  So I made more snowmen.

It was nothing complicated or time-consuming, but I did get good-mother points.  Large marshmallows, a bit of food coloring (orange for the "carrot nose" and blue for the dotted mouth), toothpicks (for stability, arms, and painting on food coloring), chocolate chips (for the eyes), and a bit of frosting to hold on the eyes.  Easy. 

They loved their marshmallow snowmen!  And it made me feel like a crafty Mom (which I really am not).  I'll take all the bonus points I can get.

Trent arranged them on the plate as if they were having a snowball fight.  At our house, they probably were.

I hope I remember to go play in the snow with my kids more.  It's good for all of us.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Stinky Inky

I was over visiting with Trent's parents, and my dear mother-in-law wanted to write something down.  She grabbed a red pen, but quickly realized that it was leaking and threw it out.  A few minutes later, little Georgie came over to me with a wild look on his face.  He held his hands out to me, and they were bleeding badly!  I jumped up and rushed him to the sink so we could figure out what the damage was.  Turns out that he had retrieved the leaking red pen from the garbage, and got red ink all over his hands.  Grateful it wasn't any worse, I cleaned him up as best I could.  It wasn't until later that I saw the rest of the red ink.

It was all.  Over.  My. White.  Jeans.  I know, I know.  Mothers of many children (or at least of young children) should not wear white anything.  Anywhere.

I went home quickly and tried to remedy the situation.  I tried the hairspray trick, and it lightened the red (turned it bright pink, actually).  I tried two other solutions, washing well between.  There is definitely less ink on my white jeans now, but it is still there enough that I can't really wear them.

To someone else, they might just be pants.  But I only have two pair of jeans (and one is a worn, thrift-store find), and a couple of scruffy pair of sweatpants.  This loss constitutes a major portion of my wardrobe..  And I liked those jeans.  They fit.  Sigh.

I do like being a mom, even at times like this.  Really.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Picture Shelves

Just had to snap a shot of how the picture shelves are turning out.  I've wanted to have a black-and-white display of original art here.  Because I can.  It, like the rest of life, is a work in progress.  Must get more frames.  Must frame what I have.  Must get more art.  I put our new Family Home Evening Chart up for a splash of color.  Let's be real.  I haven't put a hanger on the back of it to really hang it on the wall, and the picture shelves are the only place where it will be high enough for the twins to not play with it.  But it looks good there.

Here's a close-up of the framed works of  two of my favorite artists: Ben (Corvette on the left) and Chris (Aslan on the right).  I think my kids are amazing.  Moms are supposed to think that, you know?  
But I'm right.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Family Home Evening Chart

We have Family Home Evening (most) Monday nights.  I like to involve everyone, so I give out assignments, but I often run into complaints.  "I had to say the prayer last week!"  "Do we really have to sing that song for three weeks in a row?"  So I made a chore chart.  I had this idea a couple of years ago, but... life trumps crafting.

I took a random piece of plywood and had Chris cut it square for me when he was complaining that there was nothing to do.  Then I covered it with red wrapping paper and duct-taped it on the back because I couldn't find the Modge-Podge.  It's here somewhere, I know it is!

I cut out a circle that was about the diameter of my stretched rubber bands, and marked twenty evenly-spaced dots around the perimeter.

The Angel helped me hammer small nails at each of the marked spots.  She really bad wanted to hammer, and was only partially mollified by handing me nails.  Yeah, I can see her swinging that thing.  Watch out.

I made labels in the shape of arrows on the computer for each person and each assignment.  I worked much faster now because the twins were up from their naps.  Glad I got the hammering done when I did!  I glued each arrow pointing to a nail.

I didn't get a picture of the rubber bands that I strung between two nails: a person and a job.  The whole thing looks like a giant string art.  It's fun and I like it.

So does Georgie.  Happy kids, and more organized family night!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Doll Hair

I didn't finish writing about the dollies I made the Angel for Christmas.

This is how I did their hair.  First, I read and studied this tutorial.   It has everything you need, and much better pictures and instructions than what I have here.  I  wrapped yarn around a book.  I taped the sides of the top and snipped it off at the bottom.  Then, I sandwiched the hair between two strips of waxed paper.  I made two wigs for a more full hairdo.

I sewed down the middle of the hair on the sewing machine, then carefully took off the waxed paper and tape.  I put on the wig, and hand-stitched it to the head along the machine stitching line.

The Angel was disturbed when I poked pins into the dolly's head.  She's already scarred from a hot cocoa spill, and now head surgery.  Poor thing.

I stitched the hair down lower, to make sure that her head stays warm even when she's upside down.  The second wig was stitched on just the same way, except that I didn't sew it lower.  I liked the full look.

And here are the first two dollies, all happy, warm, and full of personality.  They are Fern (the brunette) and Virginia (the blonde), Trent's paternal and maternal grandmothers.  Angel wanted the brown-haired dolly to be a boy, and before they had their dresses on (because that's how we know their gender, evidently), the two dollies had already spent some time hugging and kissing each other.  What a fun imagination she has!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Train Them Up

My dad is a model train buff.  He loves 'em.  He is (re)building a model train layout in his garage.  I think this is the sixth or seventh reincarnation of the train, from a layout the could be raised out of the way to the ceiling of the garage, to taking over a couple of rooms in the basement, to a modular layout that could be taken to train shows.  My dad is awesome, and I love his hobby.

For Christmas, the twins got their own tracks and engines.  With two of them, we can build a layout something more interesting than a simple oval.  See what Trent made for them?  It's a double-decker with wooden blocks.  They love it.  We're training them young, Dad.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Love Boat

I've had this song running through my head all day.  Normally, I don't mind having tunes stuck in my head, unless they are the musical equivalent of styrofoam.  Today, it was the cheerful theme song from The Love Boat.

I remember watching this show when I was a kid, even though it wasn't really a kid show.  It came on Saturday nights, after we were supposed to be in bed.  We'd had our Saturday night baths ("Saturday is a special day, it's the day we get ready for Sunday..."), we'd washed our hair, set out our Sunday best, and polished our shoes with Dad on the back porch.  Then all the boys had to go to bed.  And I got to stay up.  I'm sure I rubbed it in some, even though I shouldn't have and I'm sorry now.

My mom sat on the couch so she could watch The Love Boat, and I sat on the floor in front of her.  She carefully combed my long, thick, wet hair and wound it around those green plastic rollers.  I didn't much care for sleeping on all those hard knobs, but it did look pretty and curly on Sunday.  It was worth it to be able to stay up late.  If we were really running late, I even got to watch Fantasy Island.

Even at my young age, I had a vague understanding that this show was not for little children, but I delighted in the naughty raciness of it.  I'm sure if I watched it now, it might seem tame and campy.  Which is why I won't watch it now.

I'll just savor the remembrances of spectacular vistas and fancy parties on the Princess cruise ships while snuggled up against my mom's legs and she ran her fingers through my hair.  I'ts a happy childhood memory that floats back to me every now and then.

Love, exciting and new... come aboard, we're expecting you... love, life's sweetest reward... let it flow, it floats back to you...

Monday, January 21, 2013

Stand in Holy Places

For Family Home Evening tonight, we talked about this year's theme for the youth.  I just thrill to think of how this can help our kids be better.

We talked about what a "holy place" is, and how we can make where we are a holy place if we are being good.  Their dad, Jay, thought that we were in holy places when we were "where we oughta be, doing what we oughta be doing."  We planned out how we can be going to holy places more often, and how we can create more of a holy place right within our home.  I love the possibilities, and how it got them thinking and talking.

So this year, we will stand - not sit complacently.  And be happy there.

Family Funnies

The boys were lounging around the fireplace this morning, as it was a school holiday.  They were still in their pajamas, and breakfast was more leisurely prepared than the normal morning hustle.  When they were called in, Eddie skipped into the kitchen with an enthusiastic, "Yay!  Breakfast!"  David was hot on his heels, running and elbowing each other to get to the food first.  When David saw the big pot of oatmeal and apples on the stove, however, he ran back to the fireplace just as quickly as he left it.  Guess he's not as excited for oatmeal.

The twins' favorite game to play right now, invented by Angel, involves jumping on their queen-sized bed and yelling, "She-she-shaw!  She-she-shaw!"  I think this is the name of the activity, as well.  Angel will run into the room and cajole them to come jump with her.  "Let's go 'she-she-shaw!'"  Their other favorite game, again led by the girl, is to pull Angel's crib-sized mattress off her little bed downstairs and strip it of its blankets and sheets.  With much grunting, they drag it to the top of the stairs where they all climb on and slide down.  It's quite a riot.

Alec, in a rare nighttime chat, mentioned that his future wife would have to love cycling.  When I asked if a passion for the bicycle would be a deal-breaker for him, he took a step back.  No, not a deal breaker, but he would really like it if she would go cycling with him.  Ben jumped into the conversation with a twinkle in his blue eyes, "It would be a deal breaker for me if my future wife wasn't female."  Right.  Glad we got that settled.

Chris has been going through boxes and boxes of old collections.  Mostly, the boxes are full of old schoolwork and papers from years ago that have lived at the back of his closet all this while.  He brought me one the other day, neatly lettered in best 2nd- or 3rd-grade handwriting:

The important thing about my Mom is that she loves me.  it's truethat she has brown hair and cooks food for me.  she Dosen't care for Bad Boys or work.  But the important thing about my mom is that She loves me.

Love it.  And I do love him.  And him.  And him and him and him and her and him and him.  Happy, me.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Make it Better

I've been in the middle of some tough situations.  Really tough.  Tough enough to break my heart and bring me to my knees in desperate prayer.  Going to the Lord for help is not a bad thing.  I should do it way more oftener than I do.  Maybe next time I won't be driven to prayer - I'll be there all by myself!

As I work with the good people in these tough situations, I wonder how the Lord would react.  I've agonized over what to say.  I've asked to guidance in handling things lovingly - His way.  And I've gotten glimpses of how difficult I must be to deal with, and how patient and loving and gentle and never-giving-up the Lord is with me.  Thank you, Jesus.  Please continue to guide my footsteps, because I'm not out of the minefield yet.

I found a good guideline today.  It came from devotional address given by Elder Holland recently.  I've been listening to it in snippets all day as I have a few quiet moments, and it is positively uplifting.   He said that in difficult situations, we need to use care in responding.

"However one would respond to (insert your difficult situation here), the rule forever is that it has to reflect our religious beliefs and our gospel commitments.  Therefore, how we respond in any situation has to make things better, not worse.  We can't act or react in such a way that we are guilty of a greater offense than (the original situation created)."  -Jeffrey R. Holland

That is something for me to chew on.  In my effort to be understood, or to get my point across, or even to do the right thing, am I actually making the situation worse?  Christ would apply the healing balm of Gilead and make it better.

I can, too.

Now, I'm off to watch the rest of it.  You should give it a go.  Watch it rather than read it.  He's so good!  And then go make the world better.

Top Posts of 2012

Just because it's interesting to know what gets read, here are my most-visited posts from last year:

5. Of Souls and Sauce.  It might be a little weird to be thinking about people whilst canning applesauce, but there may be a good analogy, or a good lesson to be learned from just about everything in this mortal life.

4. The Late Late Show, which is about my eldest boy and his accomplishments, not about TV shows that are on after you should be in bed.

3. About Folding Baby Clothes.  I should have more accurately titled that post "About NOT Folding Baby Clothes."  This one is part of my "What I Wish I'd Known" series about things I've learned since I was a young mother.  I think I should pick that one up and write more on that series.

2. Possessions Moving Syndrome.  Alec gets a kick out of telling people about his mother's PMS.  And I just moved the dining table, and want to move some couches in front of the fire.  Possessions Moving Syndrome lives on.

1. 27 Days to a Happy Mom.  I linked this one to the Nester's 30 Days Series, and she sent people over to see what I wrote in October.  I learned a lot about how to be really happy.

I think I'll keep writing for another year.  You can read if you want.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Drops of Awesome

I packed up the Christmas boxes today.  That means I am organized.  One drop of awesome for me, even though I spent the rest of the day on the couch.

Please read this article... and then pat yourself on the back.  I'll help with the patting.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Going on an LDS Mission

I just found this infographic, and it's making me cry.  Alec is getting ready to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He's so excited to go, and so am I.  He'll make a great missionary - he knows so much, and likes helping people.  Only one more little thing to iron out, and his application for service will be turned in.  Why am I crying?


Things I've lost or missed while I've been sick:

Ben's basketball game.  And they won!  Congratulations to you, and hopefully your mother will be there to cheer you on for the next game.  Without tissues or cough drops.

My mind.  I keep reading things wrong.  My sister in law sent an email to ask if we would be interested in trying any "alternative curses" to help us get better.  After closer examination, I think she meant "cures."  Maybe it would take an "alternative curse" to get us back on track.

Appointments.  David and Eddie both had school-related appointments I was supposed to take them to, but I forgot.  Reschedule.  And cancel the sick, while you are at it.

Time.  I can't make time travel straight anymore.  Not that I've ever been really good at managing time, but now it goes all over the place.  Sometimes the minutes crawl agonizingly slowly, and other times I can't believe that it is so far past dinnertime!  With no dinner yet!

Church.  I have not gone to all of my meetings for four weeks, and I really miss them.  I have a bit of a spiritual drag going on, as well as a physical one.  Nothing else fills my bucket quite like going to church.

Motivation.  Was there something I was supposed to get done today?  Can't think of anything.  Guess I'll just sit and hold this here couch down.

Inclination to blog.  I guess I don't think there is all that much about our colds that is very interesting to write about.  Mucous, coughing, sneezing, fevers, delirium...   Blech.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

When Mom is Sick

When Mom is sick, things run differently.

The little kids can stay in their pajamas all day.  This cuts down on morning and evening prep.  Bonus..

The medium kids have to make dinner.  David and Eddie learned how to put together an easy shepherd's pie  with canned vegetables and instant mashed potatoes.

The big kids have to do all the cleanup.  Ben did comment on the state of the kitchen when I hadn't cleaned up breakfast, lunch, or snacks.  But he did it anyway.  Chris cleaned up the wooden blocks - about ten times.

Alec and Angel were sick with me, so we just sat around and shivered and moaned at each other.  It's kind of nice to have company.

I thought about watching Jane Eyre or figuring out what all the Downtown Abbey fuss is about, but I couldn't concentrate well enough to watch a show.  I was even reading entire words backwards.  Pathetic.

I was impressed with how well the boys worked together.  And they even commented on realizing how much I do during the day.  I feel miserable, but appreciated.  Even sick, I still love being a mom.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sick of Being Sick

This was one of my favorite books when I was a little girl.  I loved the humorous way it addressed some of the ickier parts of having an illness.  I read it over and over.  I even did a informational presentation based on it in my junior high speech class.  The pages are now dog-eared and yellow.  The front is torn.  The book even looks like the poor boy on the cover.

I'm older, like the book.  And I'm sick.  And sick of being sick.

It's been three weeks now, and I think I should be done with the flu.  Just can't get rid of the cough, and it's killing me.  Blech.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Looking for Lotion

I finally felt well enough to get out and do a few errands today.  I hope I am slowly slinking away from the flu.  I've been over the sickness for a week, but still just tired.  It helps when I can sleep!

I took Freddie and Georgie to pick up a few things at the pharmacy today.  Our home remedies have been quite depleted.  We were looking for lotion, to soothe our winter-chapped hands.  Georgie was singing, "Lotion!  Lotion!  Where are you?"  Freddie suddenly stood up in the cart (highly discouraged) and pointed. "There it is!" he crowed.

I looked over and saw... um, personal lubricants.  Not the right kind of lotion.  :-)

I finally got our vacation food post up.  Look back at December 29th to see it.  I have recipes and everything!  Now I'm hungry.  Must go make dinner.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Word of the Year

No New Year's resolutions for me.  I have a hard time planning ahead right now, and it's discouraging to not be making progress on goals I know I should make but will have a hard time working on or seeing progress. So no resolutions.

Instead, I'll focus on a word, or a phrase.  I tried it last year (read about JOY here and CONTENT here), and I found that it helped me to draw my life into the places I most wanted to be.  It worked for me.  But what for this year?

This year, I will love without asterisks, and without fine print.

That means that when I get a compliment, I don't say, "Oh, this old thing?"  Or when someone is unexpectedly nice, I don't think, "Yeah, sure."  Or when I tell my children they did a good job, I don't make a mental note that I would, however, appreciate the job more if they did it a different way.

When I love, I will learn to do it with my whole heart, without holding some back, without standing on the fence, without building walls.  Just love.  That's all.

I think it will make for a happier new year.