25 December 2009

Welcome to the family

Photo by my sister, Carlye
Good Christmas. The highlight--my baby brother got engaged to a great girl! Congrats Cody and Rachel.

21 December 2009

Merry Christmas

Christmas Card photo 2009

I've been busy focusing on the subjects in the photo above. But, I wanted to pause to say, "I know that Jesus is our Saviour, and that through him we find peace and happiness. Merry Christmas to you all."

03 December 2009

Thank you my sisters

Here's the thing about being the RS Pres--it a thankless, mostly unrewarding calling. It's not like Primary where you feel like you accomplished something on that autumn Sunday when the kids present their yearly sacrament meeting program. And not like Young Women where you feel super proud when your darling teenagers receive their Young Womanhood Recognition. Or even like Sunday School, which is also mostly thankless and unrewarding, but at least you get to pass your unruly class(which you have somehow learned to love) on to a new teacher each year.

Nope. The Relief Society president deals with problems and concerns and issues and emergencies. And that's just about it. There is the occasional ray of sunshine when a sister has progressed and become worthy to attend the temple--and believe me, I love those small moments. But overall, it's a lot of hard work.

So imagine my surprise when yesterday I received not one, but two emails from sisters in the ward thanking me for all that I do. Neither of these sisters are women who I serve with, nor who I socialize with on a regular basis. But each of them took the time to write a note saying that they realize how hard the work is and that they appreciate my efforts.

And that is exactly what I needed yesterday.

25 November 2009

So much gratitude

I am thankful for friends, rain, my blue walls, Craig's job, and sisters-in-law.

23 November 2009

It's so fun

The past two years I posted about our Thanksgiving relish turkey-- my favorite Thanksgiving tradition (thanks to my mother-in-law). After Thanksgiving last year I found out that two of my friends tried it:

Suzanne's turkey.

Christa's turkey.
I love variation on a theme.

Our turkey last year.

And we'll do it again this year because when I asked Dogger if he was excited for Thanksgiving he said, "I'm excited for the turkey that we get to make. With the olives."


18 November 2009

In honor of La Yen's womb party

When we were expecting Goosey we had this home teacher who was clueless. The kind of guy that asked Craig for computer programming advice because he had some great idea he wanted to launch, but wouldn't tell Craig what it actually was because he thought it was so genius. You know, the kind of idea that Craig might want to steal should he reveal any details (yeah, right). Which made it really hard to give any advice.

Anyway, he was our home teacher for a few months, including the month that we had our ultrasound. When our home teachers arrived a week or so after the ultrasound we proudly announced that we would be having a little girl.

"Oh, do you have a name?" asked normal HTer.

"Well," said I, "We're thinking about Claire, or maybe Chloe."

"DON'T do Chloe!" exclaimed clueless HTer.

"Why?" I asked, wondering if he had an arch-nemesis named Chloe.

"Because," he replied, with an 'isn't it obvious' look on his face, "she'll be made fun of. That's the kind of name that kids just make fun of."

"Okay." And I left it at that. But all I could keep thinking was:

Really dude? 'Cause you didn't grow up in Utah, and your name's Ammon.

Take away: Name your kid whatever* you want, because it's your kid and you have reasons for liking names. And ignore everyone else who has an opinion on that name, because it's none of their business.

Congratulate La Yen here.

*Exception: Don't name your kid after Satan (like my cousin).....I'm just saying.

09 November 2009

Yes, I'm serious.

Another house fire in the ward tonight. They can't get in until tomorrow when the firefighters okay it structurally, but it looks bad. There probably won't be much to salvage.

Sometimes it just feels like too much.

03 November 2009

Challenging Times

Sometimes life just comes at you. Non-stop. And that's the way it is.

I've been gearing up for Relief Society service because we're going to have eight babies in our ward from December to June. That may not sound like a lot to you, but when you have 41 women that you see regularly at church 8 is a huge number. So, I've been making plans to freeze meals and to be really prepared--congratulating myself on having things under control (there was the mistake).

And then this week.

My first counselor is down with the flu. My second counselor's mother had a heart attack and is in the hospital.

One of our members' home burned down yesterday. He, and his family, lost everything. And the smoke from that fire caused damage to an elderly sister's home around the corner. The home that is her source of income because she rents out rooms in it.

Another of our sisters has a disabled son who got pneumonia and has just been transferred to the children's hospital in Boston, to be on a ventilator in the ICU. We're arranging childcare for the other son.

And those are just things that I can talk about.

I am so grateful that the Lord has set up an organization, a plan, to allow us to help our brothers and sisters. I am humbled to be part of that. Yes, life can be challenging, but there are ways to meet those challenges, and the number one way is through faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ.

23 October 2009

A birthday gift

Goosey has a party today, and this is the gift I made for her friend. It could use a little refinement, but it's cute I think.

22 October 2009

Tikki Tikki Tembo

Rikki Tikki Tembo is a retelling of a traditional Chinese story about why the Chinese give their children short names. I was introduced to this book by my elementary school librarian and read it frequently as a child. Today when Dogger asked me to read it to him I watched his face and it reminded me so much of my brother, Casey, and how he also loved this book.

The art inside is just as lovely as the cover. It's just a great children's book.

16 October 2009

My Mother-in-law is awesome

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Craig and I are completely awesome in this video. I'd like to thank my mother-in-law for creating this in honor of Craig's 34th birthday.

Too early

It's snowing right now. Soft flakes are gently floating down from the sky. It's not sticking, but that doesn't change the fact that it's snowing. On 16 October (which happens to be Craig's birthday). My sweet little daughter is standing at the bus stop, bundled up, while snow swirls around her.

Snow? This early? And we're having school? This definitely is NOT southwestern Oregon.

13 October 2009

It totally happened

I've always said that I'm just waiting to see someone I know on TV. Not on the local news like the time Craig was in a five car pile up and they interviewed him about it, or how I see my old high school mates on Monday night football.....but for real on TV. You know, like on a game show or reality show or on CNN because they did something incredibly stupid or awesome.

Well, tonight we were turned on a House Hunters that was part way through and I recognized someone!!!

"Hey, that's someone that we worked with at the BYU!" I pointed to the realtor.

"Yeah, he worked for me." Craig said, amazed.

There it is. One of my life's expectations met.

Is this a dream?

Goosey: Mom, is this a dream?

Me: This world? This life we're in?

Goosey: Uh-huh.

Me: No honey, it's not. It's real. But I know what you mean. When I was your age I used to feel the same way sometimes.

And I truly did. I remember sometimes wondering if what was going on around me was really happening, or was I dreaming it. Maybe it's because I have very vivid dreams. Or maybe it's because deep down our spirits know that this is a temporary state. We're here to have experiences, to learn, to prove ourselves so that we can return to our true home, with our Heavenly Father.

07 October 2009

Out of my element

Goosey and I spent waaaay too long wandering around Walmart tonight. She has two birthday parties this weekend--both for boys. I have no idea what 7-year-old boys like. My boys are still preschoolers, so they like trains, trucks and whatever their dad likes (which would be Star Wars).

She ended up getting a Bakugan something..... I really don't know what these are. But Goosey says some of the boys have brought them to school. Have I bought something that's going to make the parents loathe me?

Suggestions for 7-year old boys?

01 October 2009

29 September 2009

Grandma Sweetie's Pineapple-Pear Jam

1/2 cup pineapple, crushed
4 cups peeled, finely chopped pears (or you can use a grinder)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
7 1/2 cups sugar

Bring to a boil that cannot be stirred down. Continue boil for 1 minute.

Add 1 pouch Certo and return to boil. Boil for 1 minute.

Pour into prepared jars. Process 10 minutes in water bath.

Yields 4 1/2 pints.

28 September 2009

I made jam!

Today was my first try at jam. I think it came out pretty well. We have a little pear tree in our backyard that gives so many pears. I froze 48 cups of sliced pears last week, but had a few pears leftover that weren't quite ready yet. I decided to keep them for a batch of my Grandma Sweetie's pineapple-pear jam.

I love this jam on toast, alongside a bowl of oatmeal and a glass of orange juice. That was standard breakfast fare at my grandma's house.

19 September 2009


Goosey had a long-term substitute in kindergarten last year while her teacher was out on maternity leave. The sub was terrible. She simply just didn't have "it" when it came to kindergarten. That was a rough three months. The day that Goosey came home and told me they had watched Blues Clues in class was the final straw. I discussed it with a few other parents who I knew had been having the same concerns as me and then I wrote a logical, considerate email to the principal. He took care of things. Here's the thing: Goosey never knew what was going on. She didn't know that I thought this woman was ruining the kindergarten experience for those children, or even that I was frustrated, because I always treated Ms. D with respect. Because, at the end of the day, she was Goosey's teacher.

What happens when our children hear us degrade, insult and show a general lack of respect for someone? Let me tell you another story.

I was once in a home where the teenage son was degrading his history teacher. He went on about how the man was and idiot, how he knew nothing. The teenager's attitude was that he didn't have to listen to a thing the man said because he thought he was an idiot--and that's why he would get up and walk out of class whenever he felt like it. I was appalled. Truly. I began to defend the teacher when the teenage son came back with an example of a lesson that the teacher had recently taught. As heard about the lesson I realized that I had had that lesson....in a college history course, and it was one of my favorite I had ever sat through.

At this point I said to the teenager, "Wow! I'm really impressed. I learned that in a college US History class and it was a fantastic way to learn that material. I think your teacher is trying to keep things interesting and is challenging you. Sounds like he has a lot of faith in you guys and expects a lot. That's awesome."

At this point the father breaks in, "No, we met him at the open house. He's weird. The teacher is an idiot."

Well folks, there's the problem. Rather than teaching a child respect for a position or office the parent degraded the teacher in front of the child, validating the child's behavior. After that it was no surprise to me that the teenager was struggling to graduate because he saw no value in a high school education--what could anyone who teaches high school teach him?

Lack of respect. I see it so often. What good does it do us to teach our children that we can degrade and dismiss people simply because we don't agree with their ideas or ways? Such behavior creates a society of rudeness, of unkind acts, of feelings of superiority over others.

And now, to the point.....

I had no problem with President Obama's school speech (a little behind the times, I know... but this post has been percolating). While I may not agree with all of his politics, he's the President of the United States. I respect that office and the authority that comes with it. Which means what? That if I had a child whose district/school/teacher wanted them to watch the speech I'd have let him. I wouldn't have made a to-do beforehand.

Rather, that afternoon I would've have discussed the speech with my child; asked what value he saw in it. Why did he think the President wanted to address school children? How did it make him feel? What did his teacher have to say about it?

Because that, my friends, is how we teach our children to think and to make choices. Hiding them under a bushel will never allow them to shine. We must teach our children to function in the world by having respect for others.

It's always a police-officer and never a "cop".
I will encourage my children to work within their teachers' framework.
They will address my friends as Mr. & Mrs. or Brother & Sister.
I will always call him PRESIDENT Obama.

And so I will keep on.....

Because it's about creating a better world by respecting each other.

17 September 2009

Making a cake made my day

I gave Lew the beater after mixing a cake this morning. He promptly replied,
"Mom, I love you best whole wide world."

16 September 2009

My life

I give and I give and I give.

Until I can't give any more.

And then someone comes with an outstretched hand,

and I must give more.

01 September 2009

First Day of School

The outfit

New backpack

She gets to ride the bus this year

With her teacher, Mrs. C

At her desk, across from her friend Larkin

29 August 2009

I said no

The other day I got a phone call from someone who had just taken over the Girl Scout troop assignments. We put Goosey on the waiting list about a year ago, and she wanted to know if we were still interested. She said that there weren't any open troops at the time, but if I'd be willing to start a Daisy troop that would solve the problem. I responded very honestly,

"I'm all volunteered out."

And she was completely awesome about it. She told me how her oldest is in high school this year and she's found that no matter what school she's at it's the same six people who volunteer to do everything.

I won't go on about how many things I volunteer for, but believe me when I say my church commitments alone would make most people's heads spin. I'm just grateful that I had that short interaction with someone who gets it and who didn't try to guilt me into anything. So refreshing!

27 August 2009

Added bonuses

Yes, we went on vacation to see our new little nephew/cousin. But, there were lots of added bonuses. For example, Papa's hats made for great Indiana Jones play.

At the Cherokee Museum Goosey volunteered to act as interpreter. Too bad she doesn't speak Cherokee.

The Arkansas Air & Military Museum was awesome. The kids got a special treat because some volunteers doing maintenance let them "fly" a huey and tour the learjet.

And, of course, there was lots of swimming in Grammee's pool.

But, at the end of it all, the highlight was having all five cousins together.

This is why we went

My newest nephew, Tayte. Even at three hours old he was adorable.

12 August 2009

I can't afford not to

Today was our last official outing for the summer. We went to the fire station and it was fabulous. Most of our outings have fallen under the fabulous category this summer. I am so, so grateful that I've been able to spend this time with my kids, especially Goosey, before she heads back to school.

Why am I grateful? Because in a few weeks she'll be absent from our home for seven hours each day. Seven hours! She sleeps 10-11 hours a night, so that leaves me only 6-7 waking hours with her. That's not a lot of time. There's so much I'm trying to teach her. So much I want her to know, feel and understand. So much I want to arm her with as she confronts her battles with the world each day.

And then there were those summer outings--everywhere we went we saw groups of children in matching t-shirts. Children from toddlers to tweens, bustled off to camp or daycare for the summer. Children left in the care of others, often teens or young adults, for most of their waking hours. My heart ached for those children and their parents.

Summer should be spent together; going on little outings, family vacations, gardening, doing crafts, reading books. I fully admit that there are times when camps or daycare are necessary. But, there are also many times when it could be avoided.

Most of our neighbors think we're a little crazy. We have three kids and I'm a stay-at-home mom. How can we possibly afford it? I say, "How can we not afford it? I only have 18 years to prepare these little people to be out on their own." I will gladly forgo a second car, cable, a cell phone with a data plan, big vacations and dinners out if means that I get more time with my kids. Because really, what more could I possibly hope to earn than the love of confident, capable children.

09 August 2009

End week 5, begin week 6

Phew! Busy week that week 5.
  • canned 400 lbs of macaroni & 50 lbs powdered milk
  • FHE with an elderly sister in the ward
  • swam at the lake
  • planetarium show
  • Boston Children's Museum
  • picked blueberries
  • Primary Activity
  • schoolmate's birthday party
And that's just the "fun stuff" that the kids got to participate in.

Week 6 will include
a splashpad park
swimming at the lake
a visit to the fire station
packing for a major road trip
embarking on said road trip

29 July 2009

Tooth #2

Goosey lost her second tooth today. It was pretty loose, so I told her she should just twist and tug a little and it would pop right out--and it did! She's really excited since this is the first one that she pulled out herself.

24 July 2009

Week 4

Kidz Kamp was good. Goosey and Dogger learned about Japan, China, Greece, Italy and Egypt. Lew and I had fun running errands and playing together. We were rained out from our lake swim, but a friend rescued us by offering the pool at the hotel where they're staying. We also did lots of Relief Society stuff this week. Whew! Now we can get back to normal.

The upcoming week:
Movie and popcorn at the library
Swimming at the lake
Charlotte's Web musical at our local community theater
Boston Children's Museum

(Tomorrow is our family outing to the Shaker Village, so hopefully I'll have some fun pictures from that trip.)

21 July 2009

A gift for Baby Parkes

My sister is decorating Baby T's nursery in black and white with lime green accents. I thought I'd make a little something for it.

20 July 2009

Week 3

Goosey and Dogger are going to Kidz Kamp three mornings this week. They're quite excited because the theme is "Around the World". They get to learn about other cultures through clothing, food, and games.

We will be swimming at our local lake again since that was a huge hit. We'll also be taking a trip to the Canterbury Shaker Village and running a few Relief Society errands.

I'm also excited to spend some one-on-one time with Lew while the other two are at Kamp.

16 July 2009

The Half-Blood Prince

Craig and I saw Harry Potter 6 today. I can't decide if I've gotten used to the fact that they can't include everything from the books, or if I just think they did a great job on the last two movies. Either way, I say well done!

While Slughorn physically looked nothing like I imagined him in the book, I thought Jim Broadbent was brilliant. Truly, I thought his acting was the highlight of the film.

My biggest complaint is that Ron still continues to be the comic relief for the movies. I wish they'd give him a little more substance, like the books, so that the non-reader audiences can understand why on earth Hermione has a thing for him. I confess that Ron is my favorite of the trio, so I'd like a little more fidelity to his book character.

I hope the last two blow us out of the water....I'm already anticipating.

14 July 2009

This week

Last week's outings were awesome.

On the docket this week:

a visit to the Robert Frost Farm
riding bikes in the church parking lot
the Currier Museum of Art
swimming at a local lake
Ward luau

I love summer!

09 July 2009

Pay to Play

This is our school district. It's a hot topic right now. Not mentioned in the clip is the fact that the current plan is a sliding scale. So, if students qualify for reduced or free lunches the "pay to play" fees will be adjusted also.

When I was in school we paid $5 per sport, with a family maximum of $25/year. There were no fees for band, choir, drama, etc. However, when I cheered we each had to come up with several hundred dollars for our camp and uniforms. Most of it was covered by fundraisers that spanned the summer.

To be honest, I don't have a big problem with the "pay to play" idea. I'd really just like to see our teachers get their jobs back.

Is your school district facing these problems? How are they handling it?

P.S. The big budget problem stems from the fact that the school budget is part of the city budget. And the mayor gets to vote to break ties on the school board....and any time we get some school money the mayor reduces the school budget by that amount and turns that money over to the city operating budget. And he refuses to raise taxes because he has "bigger" political plans and wants to be able to say he never raised taxes (the math was done and it was found that the average homeowner would only have to pay $12 more in taxes each month to fix the budget). But this post isn't about that, so I'll stop before I really get going.

06 July 2009

A real summer break

This is Goosey's first summer break. Because of the snow days we had to make up it's going to be a very short one--9.5 weeks. That's it! Now that camp is over I'm making this count.

At the beginning of each week I'm scheduling out every day so that I don't get lazy. I don't assign times to activities because I believe in letting kids sleep in. But there's a list to be accomplished each day--in the order listed. It also leaves some wiggle room for things that pop up and free time. Here's this week:

Wii Fit
play outside
home summer school for Goosey & Dogger-- language arts & history/geography, nap for LEw
Family Home Evening

Wii Fit
visit Noah's farm
school--language arts & music, Lew nap
Dad night (I'm at church meetings)

Wii Fit
school-- language arts & math, Lew nap
Mom night (Craig's at church meetings)

Wii Fit
grocery shopping / errands
school-- language arts & visual arts, Lew nap
family movie night

Wii Fit
lunch ("Lunch Bunch" group at library)
school-- language arts & science, Lew nap
Mom & Dad date night

Wii Fit
take kids to the Boston Temple
yard work


I also have an area of the house to clean and a type of laundry to do each day M-F. And, something to accomplish each night after the kids go to sleep (reading, quilting, presidency meeting) so that I don't end up just watching House Hunters online.

05 July 2009

How was camp?

Rainy, wet, cold and slow at the waterfront...or, absolutely wonderful!

04 July 2009

Happy Independence Day

Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed - else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.
~Dwight D. Eisenhower

28 June 2009

Who does that????

When I see trash on the side of the road I assume that a garbage can was knocked over and the wind blew the contents around....or something flew out of the back of a truck....or some other accident occurred. Imagine my absolute horror today when I saw someone open the driver's window and chuck a soda cup out.

Seriously. I really thought people didn't litter any more.

25 June 2009

Kindergarten Graduation

Goosey's hat kept slipping over her eyes.

Shaking hands with Mr. N, the principal.

With Mrs. P. She is such a fantastic teacher-- we'll miss her a lot.

With her friends M. and E. Cute girls!

And school is out for the summer. Thank goodness!!!!!

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