Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Let's go to B&D's

Today has been a rather lazy day. I just didn't have the energy to follow our usual schedule, so we spent most of the afternoon watching "Life in the Undergrowth", another installment in one of my favorite nature series, the Life Collection, from the BBC of course. We haven't seen them all, but the ones we have seen are excellent! And I just love David Attenborough. The Blue Planet is another nature series favorite, but I digress. Anyway, when dinnertime came around, I didn't want to fix anything so we ordered pizza and finished watching "Life in the Undergrowth". I'd say it was a good day. It wouldn't be good to do that sort of thing everyday, but once in a while it's fun (and necessary) to have a "B&D's" day. For those of you who don't know, B&D's was a burger joint within walking distance of the music building on the U campus. Whenever we needed a break from the stress of college life, someone would say, "Let's go to B&D's" and we'd go. Gradually a B&D's day came to mean a day where you just say to heck with life/responsibility and go have fun and relax. I don't know if anyone from that group still uses the term, but I do because it perfectly captures the feeling, in just a few words, of days like today.

Long live B&D's.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

House Shopping

We had made of offer on a house. Sadly, there was another offer to compete with. The offers were equal, but the other offer had a contingency. They had to sell their house before they could buy, so our offer looked like the better one. Since their offer was technically first, we had to give them a chance to remove the contingency. Well, they did and we lost the house. Oh well! The market is still coming down, so I have high hopes that we can find another house without too much trouble. I'm excited because some 4 bedroom houses are coming into our price range. The top of our range, granted, but we're within striking distance now! When we first started looking, I couldn't believe the junky houses that people were trying to sell, and for how much! I'm so glad we didn't try to buy a house when we first moved here. The market is in a free fall and we would have lost a lot of money between then and now. When we were in grad school, I was very concerned about our being able to afford a house when we finished because prices were rising so fast, so I feel really blessed to be looking for a home in such a buyer favorable market. To tell you the truth, I don't really like home shopping. You have to shift through a lot of 'crap' to find something good and it takes a lot of research time and legwork to say nothing of the legal hoops once your offer is accepted. But it will all be worth it in the end if I can finally have a space for my garden and the kids can have a yard to play in!

Monday, April 28, 2008


Some days my life feels like an endless monotony of laundry, cleaning, and cooking (though I do enjoy cooking, it does get a little tiresome to be preparing for and cleaning up from 3 meals every day). I once read somewhere that doing at least one thing every day that did not need to be done again would help combat that feeling. So today my thing that did not have to be done again was to finish reading "Pride and Prejudice" (again, I must admit, but I certainly didn't have to!). I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the book and what fun the story is to read. Reading is probably my favorite "don't have to do it again" activity, but I also like doing things that have concrete results, like sewing, cross stitching, or crochet or even cleaning and organizing a closet. It makes me feel accomplished and I have something to show for the time spent. Granted, I don't have the luxury of being able to do those things every day, but the more often I can, the happier I am with life.

And crochet therapy is cheaper then real therapy.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


1. Through the Looking Glass

2. "I Want to Hold Your Hand", The Beatles

3. Star Wars: A New Hope

4. "Sunrise, Sunset", Fiddler on the Roof

5. The Pokey Little Puppy

6. "California Dreamin'", The Mamas and The Papas

7. The Magic Flute, Mozart

8. "We Will Rock You", Queen

9. The Tell-Tale Heart, Poe

10. "Dancing Queen", Abba

11. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

12. "Smells Like Teen Spirit", Nirvana

13. The Elephant’s Child

14. Peter Pan

15. "Nothing Compares 2 U", Sinead O'Connor

16. Fahrenheit 451

17. 1984

18. "Rock Lobster", The B-52's

19. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

20. MacBeth

21. What about Bob?

22. "With or Without You", U2

23. The Princess Bride (the book)

24. "June is Bustin Out All Over", Carosel

25. A Christmas Story

26. "Blowin' in the Wind", Bob Dylan

27. Mary Poppins

28. "The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald"

29. Monty Python & the Holy Grail

30. Pride & Prejudice

Looking at these again, I think I should have chosen fewer songs and more books. Oh well! If you'd like, you can post how many you got correct, along with your favorite first line that I didn't include here.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

"It Was a Dark and Stormy Night"

One of my favorite regular features in Home Education magazine is their "Good Stuff" segment. It is always based on a theme and the author recommends various resources to learn more about the chosen theme. This month's theme was "Wretched Writers Welcome" based on the The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest in which participants compete to write the first sentence of the world's most dreadful novel. (You can read more about that in the article.) One of the recommended resources was a game called "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night", a board game of first lines, in which players move their pieces around a board, trying to identify titles and authors from the first line of a well-known book (or movie). I love board games and I love books so this sounded like the perfect game for me! Sadly the $50 price tag is rather more than I can justify spending on a board game. However, as the last line of the article says: "...don't forget that adroit homeschoolers with a handy pack of index cards can always invent first-line games of their own." And so came the idea for this post.

In this version of the game, anything is fair game for first lines; books, movies, songs, operas, plays, etc. I tried to choose lines from media that a larger number of people would have been exposed to, just to be fair. There are 30 lines. I'll post the answers tomorrow, and, if you'd like, you can post how many you got correct, along with your favorite first line that I didn't include here. Enjoy and good luck!

1. One thing was certain, that the white kitten had had nothing to do with it: - it was the black kitten's fault entirely.

2. Oh yeah, I’ll tell you something, I think you'll understand.

3. Did you hear that? They shut down the main reactor. We’ll be destroyed for sure. This is madness.

4. Is this the little girl I carried, Is this the little boy at play?

5. Five little puppies dug a hole under the fence and went for a walk in the wide, wide world.

6. All the leaves are brown, And the sky is grey

7. Help! Oh help! Or else I am lost, a certain victim of the cunning serpent.

8. Buddy you’re a boy make a big noise Playin in the street gonna be a big man some day

9. True! – Nervous- very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?

10. Friday night and the lights are low Looking out for the place to go

11. It was the middle of winter, and the snowflakes were falling like feathers from the sky, and the queen sat at her window working, and her embroidery-frame was of ebony.

12. Load up on guns. Bring your friends. It's fun to lose and to pretend. She's overborne and self-assured. Oh no, I know a dirty word

13. In the high and far-off times the elephant, oh best beloved, had no trunk.

14. All children, except one, grow up.

15. It's been seven hours and fifteen days Since you took your love away

16. It was a pleasure to burn.

17. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

18. We were at a party. His ear lobe fell in the deep. Someone reached in and grabbed it

19. Dismount! Herman’s horse-sick!

20. When shall we three meet again in thunder, lightning, or in rain?

21. I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful.

22. See the stone set in your eyes. See the thorn twist in your side

23. This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it.

24. March went out like a lion Awakin' up the water in the bay;

25. Ah, there it is. My house. And good old Cleveland Street. How could I ever forget it?

26. How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?

27. All right, ladies and gents, comical poems suitable for the occasion, extemporized and thought up before your very eyes.

28. The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee.

29. Whoa there! Halt! Who goes there?

30. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Fantasy and SciFi

Megan's comment on my 100th post really got me thinking. I said I love fantasy and science fiction books (#22), but it has been quite a while since I have read any! Sad. Part of that, I believe, is because I am very picky about what I read. I am especially wary of books that seem too popular. For example, I didn't read any of the Harry Potter books until just before #5 came out. Of course once I started I was hooked. I haven't read any of the Twilight books for the same reason. Another reason why I haven't read any scifi or fantasy lately is because I read them all when I was a tween/teen! During the summer I would go to the library and check out 3-5 books (usually 200+ pages), read them all in one week, then go back and get more the next week. I quickly burned through the entire fantasy section of the library and most of the science fiction section. Ah, to have that kind of time again!

So what are my favorites? In fantasy my absolute favorite books are the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I think I have read these books more times than any other book (except the scriptures). I first read them when I was in 7th grade. I come by my obsession honestly; my mother was a ring nut. She once skipped all her college classes to read through the whole thing in 3 days (I think, correct me if I'm wrong). She wanted to name me Arwen, but my dad wouldn't agree to it. Just FYI, if we ever have a girl, she will be named Arwen (or maybe Arwyn).

As for favorite science fiction, that one is a little harder to choose. I'd have to go with the Foundation series, just because I've read them more times than the others. Probably not the whole series though, just the first 3 books. Isaac Asimov is definitely my favorite scifi author. I read every book they had of his in the library, short stories, the robot novels, etc. Ray Bradbury runs a very close second. I like his short stories better and his novels are definitely more thought provoking. Of his books, I really enjoyed "The Illustrated Man" (short stories), "Something Wicked this Way Comes" (maybe not strictly scifi), "The Martian Chronicles", and of course "Fahrenheit 451". My favorite short story of his is "A Sound of Thunder". Wow!

Here are my second tier favorites:

Shannara Series (though I stopped when I got tired of the formula)
Magic Kingdom for Sale-Sold
The Dark is Rising series, Susan Cooper
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Merlin Series, Mary Stewart
Harry Potter series (of course)
The Hobbit
A Wrinkle in Time series
The Last Unicorn

Science Fiction
Sphere (book is SO much better than the movie)
Jurassic Park
2001: A Space Odyssey (also 2010 and 2061)
Richter 10

I'm sure there are more I could list, but these are the ones that come to mind first.

Not really on topic, but I just have to bring up one of my favorite, newly discovered, sites for bookophiles: Share all your favorite (and not so favorite) books with your friends! And be my friend too!

What are your favorites?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Better Air

I want to comment on an article from the May 2008 issue of Discover Magazine. There are several good articles in the segment "Better Planet Solutions" that I will probably comment on later, but this one caught my attention first. It is not available online, but if you want to read the whole article, it should be available at almost any library. Entitled "Better Air" it addresses concerns about world wide pollution. According to the article, 800,000 people are killed each year by the effects of air pollution.

"While big vehicles like Hummers and other SUVs are often blamed for excessive emissions, some of the worst culprits are the smallest rides around. Throughout Asia, vehicles with two-stroke engines produce vast amounts of pollutions."

Apparently, a single two-stroke engine produces pollution equal to that of 30-50 four-stroke engines. The author estimates 100 million motorcycles in Asia, giving off 2.5 billion cars' worth of pollution. Yuck! Several solutions have been tried, but without lasting effect. Enter Envrofit with a retrofit kit for two stroke engines that reduces emissions by almost 90 percent while increasing fuel efficiency by up to 35 percent. They have done field tests in the Philippines on tricycle taxis where after 8 months, the retrofit not only reduced emissions, but saved the taxi drivers money.

"By cutting fuel loss and reducing oil use by up to 50 percent, the modified engines may save their users as much as $600 a year. Bauer (co founder) believes that Envirofit could produce up to 500,000 kits in five years, 'putting $190 million into the hand of some of the poorest people' in the world."

IMO, that is the best part! I'm no big fan of pollution and if technology can reduce it AND save people money at the same time, it definitely has my support. Now, the article doesn't say how much the kit costs, which I can see as a big drawback if the upfront costs are prohibitive, even if it will save money in the long run. People aren't always very good at considering "the long run" so we'll see if this brings the improvement hoped for. Hopefully the word of mouth from the trials will be enough to get interest going!

After all, it's a step in the right direction...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Halloween (a little late)

Time to play catch up! I don't know how I missed posting this, but here are the boys 2007 Halloween costumes.

Younger ds is a cat, costume made by my mother. Older ds is a dog, costume made by me. I actually made his sweats with a pattern I drew myself because I could not find any cream colored sweats in the stores to match the hood fabric.

This is Fred. (Younger ds named him.) We made him out of milk jugs and hung him outside our door. We liked him so much we even made a pilgrim hat for him so he could stay up for Thanksgiving too. We were planning to give him a santa hat for Christmas, but the wind blew his legs off and he had to be recycled. Poor Fred.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

My Favorite Homeschool Reads

A Thomas Jefferson Education

The Well-Adjusted Child

Home Education Magazine

The Homeschooling Book of Answers

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

By no means an exhaustive list, but a good start if you're starting out!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

My skirt

As promised, here's a pic of the skirt I sewed recently! Sorry, the pics aren't great, bad lighting. It's an a-line wraparound skirt. No waistband, no zippers. It uses snaptape to hold it together. The best thing about it is I didn't have to hem any of the edges since they are all frayed. I just sewed a straight stich, then a zig-zag, pulled out the extra threads and viola! EASY! And super cute.

Close up of a frayed hem

The book with the instructions. I highly recommend it!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

"In a different voice"

Normally on Saturday we clean the house as a family in the morning, and then have the afternoon for family fun. Not today! My dh had to observe a class at the college this morning at 8am, so he was gone by 7:15. The boys and I started the cleaning and worked up until he got home just after noon. After lunch I had to get ready for a rehearsal and performance about 30 minutes away (I didn't get home until 10pm!) My dh finished up the cleaning and then he and the boys went biking at the local elementary, watched "Underdog" and ate pizza for a "boys' night in." When I got home the house was [mostly] clean, the dishwasher was loaded and the boys were peacefully asleep.

My favorite "servant" is my sexy dh.

Ghostwritten by the sexy "servant"

Friday, April 18, 2008

ds Pics

When I got my new digital camera, we gave the old camera to my older ds. He loves it! Here are some of the photos he's taken.

Lego Creation (not sure what it is)

Our fave ice cream from CA

The boat made from his prize winning zucchini

Of course, he is especially fond of taking silly pictures. And being in silly pictures, which means he has to share with his younger brother.

He does a good job with a not-so-hot camera, IMHO. I love that he can take as many photos as he wants and I don't have to worry about wasted film!

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Today at dinner my younger ds said "When the sun sets on Sunday, then it's Moonnight, because there's a moon and it's night." Makes perfect sense to me!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Yes, Your Highness

When I have a busy day and am feeling "put upon", I like to pretend to be a queen, ordering my servants around.

I order my tub to fetch me water and warm it up for my bath. I order the sink to fetch water so I can brush my teeth. I order the washing machine to wash my clothes and the dryer to hang them out to dry. I order the stove/oven to cook my food. I order the dishwasher to clean up the dishes. I order the vacuum to beat the rugs (I have to keep careful watch to make sure it's done right.) If it's cold, I order the heater to build up the fires. If it's hot, I order the air conditioner to fan me. I order the car to hitch the horses to the coach so I can drive to market. I order the computer, TV, CD player, and mp3 player to entertain me. Sometimes I order the breadmaker to make me a loaf of bread and the crock pot to make my dinner. I order the phone/email to take a message to the neighboring kingdoms.

All this helps me be grateful and remember that I have it better now then most royalty ever did.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Last night for Family Home Evening my younger ds had the lesson. His idea was to have everyone draw pictures of something Jesus did. Here's what they came up with:

Older ds: Jesus and Peter walking on the water.
(Check out the guy in the boat)

Younger ds: The resurrection

The one kneeling down is Mary. Sadly, I wasn't there as I had a rehearsal. I was really impressed with what they came up. The whole thing was younger ds' own idea. I don't think I could have planned a better lesson myself.

Monday, April 14, 2008

100th post!

Sorry to copy everyone who has done this, but I think it's really cool. So here you go!

100 things about me...

1. I love to cook.
2. I'm not a gourmet.
3. If you ate at my house, you'd think I was a health nut.
4. I probably am a health nut, by most people's standards.
5. I miss my garden in California.
6. I miss most everything about California, except the cost of living.
7. I really, really miss going to Disneyland.
8. I love ice cream.
9. I don't eat ice cream much anymore, because none of it is quite as good as Strickland's in CA.
10. I love chocolate, really, really dark chocolate.
11. I don't like chocolate ice cream.
12. I love my husband. He's my very best friend.
13. I want a sexy nightgown, but not too sexy.
14. I haven't found a nightgown I like, not even a pattern for one.
15. I love to sew.
16. I have a crappy Bernette sewing machine.
17. I love my serger! Well, my grandma's serger that she is letting me borrow....
18. I hauled the serger onto the plane in the carry on luggage. They stopped me at security and I had to send it back through the giant x-ray before they would let me go.
19. I will never to that again.
20. I heart my dishwasher! No more paper plates for me!
21. I am a voracious reader.
22. I love science fiction and fantasy.
23. I read a lot of non-fiction, mostly for my job as executive in charge of domestic affairs.
24. I would die without the library. Well, maybe I'd just be buried in the books I would have to buy without it.
25. I have 4 bookcases full of books.
26. I have given away 3 bookcases and the books that were on them.
27. I still have more books than will fit on my bookcases.
28. When I am reading, I am blind and deaf to the world.
29. Most of my work can be ignored for a time without serious consequences, except feeding the children.
30. I make lists and schedules for everything.
31. I have an impossibly high standard of cleanliness. It's my mother's fault. ;)
32. I have (for the most part) successfully enlisted the aid of my children in cleaning.
33. I like broccoli.
34. I hated broccoli as a child, mostly because it was organically grown in our garden and I would always find worms/caterpillars on it right as I was about to eat it. I had to eat it anyway.
35. I have always loved tomatoes and spinach.
36. I liked that I was usually the only one in my class that liked tomatoes and spinach.
37. I hated always being the tallest in my elementary class.
38. I am one of the shorter people in my family.
39. I can't think of anything I'd rather do than be a stay at home mom. Really, I've tried.
40. I'm thinking about adopting.
41. I'd really like to adopt a deaf child.
42. I really miss my deaf friend from CA.
43. I'm thinking about completing the ASL interpreter program at the college.
44. I'm scared that it will be too hard.
45. I'm socially inept.
46. My hands are the same size as my husband's, just skinnier.
47. I learned to read music at about the same time I learned to read.
48. I've always wanted curly auburn hair.
49. My hair is poker straight and 'dishwater' blonde.
50. I'd like to go on a cruise.
51. If it takes longer than 30 minutes to drive somewhere, I probably won't go.
52. I don't make friends easily.
53. I still keep in touch with some of my friends from High School.
54. I don't know where any of my mission companions are.
55. I think my kids are amazing.
56. I love Legos.
57. I love doing crafts, but I hate making messes.
58. I don't like being cold.
59. I don't like being hot.
60. Did I mention I miss CA?
61. I wish I were a better mother.
62. I don't like going out to eat.
63. My first date with my husband was a marching band performance at the unveiling of the mascots for the Utah Winter Olympics. I was playing in the band.
64. I have worked at a shaved ice stand, the "Country Shopper" (now defunct), as a flagger, house painter, theatre usher, bus driver and dispatcher.
65. I could never have a desk job.
66. The furthest East (and West) I have been is Japan.
67. Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada is the furthest North I have been.
68. Hawaii is the furthest South I've gone.
69. I don't like watching movies or TV that much, but I always get sucked in.
70. I wish someone would nominate me for "What Not To Wear".
71. I love nearly every show on Food Network, but especially "Good Eats".
72. I don't like "Law and Order: SVU" that much, but I can't stop watching it once I start.
73. I am a huge Star Trek fan.
74. I love to get old kids shows from my childhood (Underdog, Electric Co., Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street Old School) from the library.
75. I have a terrible short term memory, esp. for number and names of people and streets. Sometimes my long term memory for those things isn't so hot either.
76. I love reading other people's blogs.
77. I have a BMu in Music Education.
78. I have never taught music in a school.
79. I would not teach music in a school (public or private) even if I was desperate.
80. I might get a masters and teach music at a community college, if I had to.
81. I really enjoy teaching private music lessons.
82. Instruments I play, by proficiency: flute, piano, baritone, sousaphone, trombone, recorder, and everything else (in the orchestra) on a beginning level.
83. Instruments I cannot play at all, but wish I could: guitar, accordion, bagpipes.
84. I love to crochet, but I do not knit and do not intend to learn.
85. Stuffed animals are my favorite things to crochet, then baby and toddler clothes, esp. girls.
86. I have too much yarn and fabric. Just ask my husband.
87. I just made myself an awesome skirt with a pattern I drew myself. I'll post a pic of it soon.
88. I have a hard time saying no when someone asks me to do something for them.
89. I don't understand why anyone would ever smoke. Not even a little.
90. I am very paranoid about noises in the house at night. If I hear something, even something imaginary, I can't go back to sleep until I send dh to go see what it is. (He never complains. Really.)
91. I don't play with my kids as much as I would like to, or thought I would, or should even.
92. I replace all purpose flour with whole wheat flour in every recipe I make. It's worked fine every time, so far.
93. I hate driving.
94. I wish my kids would like what I fix for dinner.
95. When I got married, we registered at a piano store rather then a department store. Who needs dishes? A piano is much more important! I have never regretted it.
96. I am teaching my older ds piano lessons. I'm not very good, but he is.
97. I love gardening. It is the best therapy for me. I don't have one now but I like to imagine all the things I will plant when I finally have a garden of my own.
98. I hate shopping. Clothes, food, all of it.
99. I either need more storage space or less stuff. Probably less stuff.
100. I spend way too much time on the internet.

Whew! That was hard but kind of fun. I bet this list will be fun for me to look back at in a few years, assuming Blogger is still around!

Thanks to everyone who is still reading my blog after 100 posts!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Homemade Christmas: Cranberry Conserve

I canned a few jars of this cranberry conserve for local friends this past Christmas. Yummy! Just FYI, it's a conserve and not a preserve because it has nuts in it (pecans; I don't like walnuts). It also has golden raisins in it. Mmmmm. It goes great on bread or as a garnish on turkey or other poultry. Think leftover turkey sandwich. I think I'm going to have to make this a tradition every year.

Often, the less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it.

PS In case you didn't notice, I forgot to blog yesterday! Oh well, I'll just do like the public schools and have an extra "snow day" post on the 1st of May. Hopefully I won't miss any more days.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Homemade Christmas: Blues Afghan

I made this afghan for my sister who just returned from a mission in Spain. It's (sort of) my original pattern. I'm telling on myself here, but the two center squares are from this pattern. When it became apparent that I would not finish in time if I continued, I changed to the above simpler pattern.

I had an extra square that I sewed onto the back so it could be folded into this handy dandy pillow. Plus you can stick your feet in the pocket to keep them warm when it's unfolded.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Sad Good-bye

I've been meaning to post these pics for a while now. They were taken on our last visit to Disneyland and CA Adventure.

We got the whole family SoCal Annual passes for Christmas 2005. Expensive, but well worth it! If you divide the money spent on the passes by the number of days we went to the park(s), it ended up being maybe $5 a visit. You can't get that kind of family fun cheaper anywhere! We had only intended to keep the passes for a year, but the last week before they expired the boys decided that they liked the faster rides (ie. Big Thunder Mtn., Star Tours, etc.) So of course we had to renew!! Then my dh got his job here and we had to abandon our passes in the middle of the year. These pics were taken on the last day before the passes were blacked out for the summer, just before we left the parks forever (most likely). It was a sad, sad day. I still get misty looking at them.

Good-bye California Adventure!

Good-bye Disneyland!

Though they were expensive, I don't regret getting annual passes for a moment. We created some great family memories there and it was great to watch as the boys grew from Fantasyland to Adventure and Tomorrowland. I hope the boys will have some great childhood memories of that time to look back on.

Good-bye, old friend.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Wash day

I am so impressed with my boys! Today was their day to help with the laundry. They've gotten pretty good at it. My older ds can do the whole thing himself! He knows how to sort the clothes, how much soap to put in the washer, and where and how to set the dials. He also knows how the dryer works. And the best part is that he feels so accomplished knowing how to do it all himself, I rarely have to encourage him to do it. Now if I could only convince him that folding his clothes is cool too.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Homemade Birthdays

I crocheted this cute little piggy for my niece's birthday. It was super quick and easy! I found the pattern here. They have several more designs that are just as cute. Now all I need is an excuse to make them!!

Show me how the piggies eat!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

General Conference

Well, it's been another wonderful conference! This time I tried something a little different from what I've done in the past. Before conference, I wrote down some questions and inspiration I wanted answered to see which would be answered by the talks, and to focus my listening. Well, every thing I wrote down was answered in some way during conference, some directly and some by spiritual impressions that weren't necessarily related to the topic. Even though I was expecting it, I was really amazed.

There are two talks that really stand out in my mind, both from the Sunday afternoon session. The first one is Elder M. Russell Ballard's talk to young mothers. I felt like it was addressed directly to me. The best piece of advice for young mothers that I got from it was to realize that joy comes in moments. This short time raising children is too soon gone, so live in the moment!! I am too concerned with finishing whatever it is I'm doing, especially with the kids, that I don't take the time to enjoy it and them. So this week I am going to do my best to enjoy, really savor, some moments with my boys.

The second talk didn't really address anything I wrote down to listen for, but I was very inspired by the talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. It was so direct and powerful!

I loved every talk and I can't wait for the May Ensign so I can read them all! Luckily, I don't have to! They are all available online here, to read, listen to, or watch in English or ASL.

This year we ventured to take the boys to conference at the church. Usually we just watch it on the Internet, but the bishop challenged us to attend at least one session at the church. So we went to the Sunday morning session (at noon here!) and it was a good experience. The boys behaved really well, and I really enjoyed it. I don't know that the experience was any better than watching it at home, but I'm glad we followed the bishops counsel. We'll definitely make it a tradition.

Just as an aside, I was so excited to see the improved video feeds on the church website. There were virtually no problems with stalling that we have experienced in the past. We alternated between watching the English feed and watching the ASL feed. If you've never watched the ASL video feed, you should. ASL is a very expressive language and can really add depth to a talk, even if you don't understand it.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Family Farm

Recently I came across an interesting article in the Intercollegiate Review (a conservative publication, you've been warned) called The Curious Return of the Small Family Farm. I was amazed and excited! I grew up on what might be termed a 'small family farm' and it's a way of life I would really love to have again, if I could.

Here's an excerpt from the first page:

Industrialized farming appears to be “pregnant”... with agrarianism, a humanistic approach to agriculture that would re-attach people to the soil. The farming future may not lie with the consolidators, speculators, and agribusinesses. [yay!] Rather, it may lie with the resurrection of a family-centered agriculture. ...[L]and-use expert Eric Freyfogle enthuses, “agrarianism is again on the rise” and “agrarian ways and virtues are resurging in American culture.”

It is something I think we have been sorely missing since the advent of the industrialized farm. Our mass produced produce, available only in artificially lighted stores without a trace of dirt on it, has created a disconnect from 'nature' and where food actually comes from. Ask any child where they get their food and they will tell you "From the store". I've also noticed a growing concern about children (and everyone really) not getting enough outdoor time and I wonder if the two could be related. But of course that is a topic for a dissertation, not a blog!

At any rate I found this article very compelling and exciting. The section 'Household Restored' really expresses my feeling as to why the agrarian way of life is valuable to our society. Here's an excerpt:

What is agrarianism? The poet, novelist, essayist, and farmer Wendell Berry—America’s
leading agrarian voice—describes this worldview as the countervailing idea to industrialism. The industrial economy, he writes, constitutes the culture of “the one-night stand. ‘I had a good time,’ says the industrial lover, ‘but don’t ask me my last name.’” Agrarianism rests, in contrast, on a culture defined by marriage, a long-term covenant of mutual care.

That means not only care for your own family, but care for your neighbors as well. The article further states that healthy agrarian households require recovering husbandry and housewifery.

Husbandry is “the work of a domestic man, a man who has accepted a bondage to the household.” The husbanding mind is “both careful and humble,” ready “to keep, to save, to make last, to conserve.”

Sounds like a great guy! ;) The antithesis of 'husbandry' (soil and animal) is “soil science” and “animal science”, the latter which the authors characterize as “the animal factory which . . . is a vision of Hell.” Indeed.

In the agrarian world view, family is central. It's everything really, you couldn't survive without it. Perhaps this the the biggest reason why I find this way of life so appealing.

While sharing many traits, agrarianism differs from environmentalism in an important way. Particularly among “deep ecologists,” human beings are seen as the problem, the source of environmental degradation, a “cancer” on the planet. This view might be summarized as “the
fewer humans, the better.” In contrast, agrarians are buoyant humanists, welcoming children and the close settlement of human beings on the land. As two sympathetic writers summarize, “Agrarians. . . assert that a flourishing life standardly incorporates . . . interdependence with neighbors in a geographically limited, relatively self-sufficient, intergenerationally stable community . . . and a measure of personal self-sufficiency through physical labor, preferably on one’s own property.”

And that is what makes it so great! It promotes strong family ties and a strong community, both of which are sadly lacking in a purely industrial society. In the industrial society, children are seen as a burden because they cannot contribute to that society in a meaningful way.

Well, I could say more on the subject, but the article really does a better job of it than I could. Maybe I've been reading too many "Little House on the Prairie" books lately, but I really feel like this new agrarianism is definitely worth supporting. Since I can't live it myself (though I would love to) I will do the next best thing by supporting my local small farmer. Luckily, there is a small organic farm just up the road from us, so it will be easy for me to get my produce there (once the harvesting starts) rather than exclusively from the grocery store. And I am looking forward to having my own garden soon, hopefully next year!! After that, we may consider adding a chicken or two, maybe a goat, but not for a few more years.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Homemade Christmas: Blanket and Juggling Balls

My older ds made these Christmas gifts. The first was for one of his cousins on my side. He designed it himself, I sewed the candy cane on and we both tied the edges. The beanbags he made all himself. The juggling balls were for a cousin on my dh's side. He cut out the fabric himself and sewed them together with some help from me. They turned out so cute! I had to hide them after he finished so he and his brother wouldn't play with them!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Resolution Update

1. Keep up my exercise routine.
I am especially frustrated with this one. Because I injured my knee I have not been able to exercise much for the last month and a half and I am going crazy!! I've been doing some upper body weight training, but it just isn't the same. Thankfully, I think my knee is finally up to exercising again, if I take it slow. So starting Saturday, I plan to go walking for at least 30 minutes 5 times a week. Of course, that all depends on how my knee handles it.

2. Eat more.
I have really been making a concerted effort to buy and eat more fruits and veggies, especially veggies. So we are now eating more legumes, more whole grains, more fruits and veggies, and more things that are homemade (like tortillas, refried beans, hummus, and yogurt) and I'm working on eating more slowly. I don't know what more I can do!

3. Write in my journal once a week.
Going great! I'm almost done with my current journal (from my mission, 10 years ago, yikes!!).

4. Write in my blog once a month and once a day for one month.
Also great! And hopefully I'll be able to keep up the daily blogging this month. It's going well enough, that I'll think I'll add to this goal. So in addition I will blog once a month on the family blog and post on the LDS homeschooling Yahoo! group I'm in charge of (I've been really slacking on that). You won't get to see those posts since the groups are both private, but I thought some public accountability would help me there.

5. De-clutter one room a month.
I totally slacked off on this one for March. But the boy's room is already pretty organized, out of necessity. Anyway, it's a new month, so I get a new start! I'm going to change the schedule a bit. The living room really needs to be decluttered this month. I've got a pile of choir music that I'm organizing and cataloging before I return it to the church and a pile of stuff to get out of the house, either through Craigslist or Freecycle. So that's my goal this month.

6. Find some service to do.
Sighhh. Nothing here again. There must be a good way for me to do some service, but I'm really stuck. Any suggestions you have for me would be very appreciated!

7. Say "I love you" to my children and husband every day.
I think I'd like to add to this one too. I'm going to make "I love you" the first thing I say to my boys every day. I think it will help set the tone of the day for all of us!

8. 'Compact' participation (not perfection)
I'm still trying to reduce my junk mail load. Any ideas on how to stop them from sending me those annoying packages of local ads?

Thanks for keeping me motivated!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


This year for Easter we decided to celebrate the whole week. The events of Easter are too important to our beliefs that we wanted to make sure it would be a holiday that they boys would enjoy, maybe not as much as Christmas, but at least more than Halloween! Basically we decided to have a devotional every day based upon the events in Christ's life for that day plus some little activity related to it.
We started out Palm Sunday by making 'palm leaves' out of construction paper and sticks and then doing a readers theatre (with simple costumes) of Christ's Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. It was a big hit with the boys. They read the script probably 5 times through before I made them stop. On Wed. we acted out the parable of the talents and showed them the 30 pieces of silver (quarters) that were promised to Judas Iscariot. Thursday we had a meal like the meal Jesus may have eaten at the Last Supper. The boys liked eating on the floor but they weren't too crazy about the food. Friday we watched "To This End Was I Born". A bit graphic, even for me. Sunday we woke up the the Hallelujah Chorus and had fish and honey (minus the comb) for lunch.

In all, I think it was a good experience, though there are a few things I will change for next year. But I think the importance of the message got through to them, as evidenced by this picture my younger ds drew:

He told me the first person, in red, is Mary, the one in brown is Joseph, the other two are disciples. They are thinking about the tomb.

Maybe I need to focus more on the resurrection next year. ;)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

30 Days

I have chosen April as my "blog every day" month! I've never attempted this before, so we'll see how it goes. I hope I can think of 30 interesting things to blog about! Okay, so being "interesting" is not a requirement, but hopefully most of them will be interesting.

As April 1st approaches every year, dh and I contemplate announcing an "April Fools'" pregnancy, but so far we haven't been brave enough to do it. It's sometimes hard to tell if an April Fools' joke will cross the line, and I suspect an "April Fools'" pregnancy just might be one of those. So instead, late last night, we moved the boys into each other's beds. My older ds woke up at about 11pm, called my dh in and said "I think something's wrong here." We convinced him to stay there so his younger brother would be surprised in the morning. Younger ds was surprised, but I think they both didn't know quite what to think. Our final prank will be played on the ward choir. My dh signed up to bring the refreshments tonight and so we're bringing "french fries". We even got bags from Burger King to pack them in, and we'll buy a few bags of real fries to add the signature smell to the deception. We'll see if anyone is actually fooled. Food pranks are my favorite!

OK. You've fooled around long enough...