Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fireplace IV

Still pluggin' along.

It's looking more like a fireplace!  All that is left is the chimney and capstone.  How much that little word encapsulates:  all.

Well, someday it will be finished.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rattling Around in My Head

My husband sent me an email in the middle of the day yesterday.  I responded by telling him what had been gumming up the gears in my mind that day.

Aged brass:

To me, the most timeless and warm finish, but it is a little out of vogue so it is more expensive.  Also, most brass comes super shiny so I would have to Drano all of the hardware for our house.

Oil-rubbed bronze:

This is my favorite finish, but we can't afford real bronze and the fake stuff starts to rub off after a while and starts to look coppery orange.

Chrome is the least expensive and most available.  The shiny looks great when it is clean, although I'm not sure the shiny would fit in to the image I have going in my mind.

Brushed nickel:

Brushed nickel is pretty common right now so it is less expensive and available.  It doesn't show the water spots or fingerprints as well as chrome.  I don't really like it.

There you have it.  I asked my husband how he would like to be in my head for a day.  He said he thought he would go crazy.  "I don't know how you can stand it in there!"

Ha ha ha!  Some days I wonder the same thing!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Having an Affair is NOT Okay!

I am reading a wonderful book right now.  The writing is smooth, there are several words I've had to look up, and the historical part of the historical novel is spot on accurate.  The plot revolves around a fictitious family.  The author has done a stupendous job of creating this family.  They are completely real--so much so that you feel yourself falling in love with each character (in a Greek philia kind of way).  I think part of the reason his characters are beloved is precisely because we are shown their faults alongside their traits of good repute.  I have believed in these men and women, trusted them to make the right choice even (and maybe especially) when it difficult to choose the right.

Until today.  Today there was adultery.  I put down the book.  It wasn't elicit and didn't go into detail.  It wasn't the sex that made me mad.  It was the infidelity.

And I'm sorry world, but having an affair is not okay!  It is never okay.  I don't care that you just lost 200 pounds and feel sexy for the first time in your life.  Give that to your husband!  I don't care that your spouse travels a lot and you miss the physicality of marriage.  Wait!  I don't even care if you loved him and then you thought he was dead so you married the wrong guy and then he actually wasn't dead so you screwed him because you never stopped loving him.  You chose the man you chose.  Period.  If you absolutely can't keep your pants up when you are with someone else, then you need to divorce your husband and marry the other guy.  (This is not the action I would suggest, but it is better than cheating.)

I get mad when there are affairs in books or movies, but I get LIVID when we are supposed to be cheering for the adulterous relationship rather than the married relationship.

Remember King Arthur, Guinevere and Sir Lancelot?  This movie made me furious.

Am I alone in this?

By the way, I will probably finish the book.  I put it down as soon as it said, "Rhoda slept with Kirby when she went to Connecticut."  I am hoping that Rhoda will admit her gross violation of her husband's trust and it will end up being an inspiring story of repentance and forgiveness.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Thought on this Sabbath Day

Last night was the annual Relief Society General Conference.  I went with a full and needy heart.  The entire conference was an answer to prayer, but this specific message was so needed.  It is about twenty minutes long, but I encourage you to watch it.  Don't read it, watch it.

I can't tell you what this meant to me as I watched it last night.  Earlier in the broadcast, Sister Beck said that sometimes our struggles have the potential to bleach the bones of our faith.  This year has been incredibly difficult.  While I still have faith, I do feel "bleached" . . . spiritually exhausted.  When President Uchtdorf shared this message of love, I felt that sweet confirmation of truth from the Holy Spirit.  I testify that we have apostles here on the earth, with the same authority and power as Peter, James and John.  I know the message that this apostle shared was, in very fact, the message our Savior wanted us to hear.

If you didn't have a chance to watch the entire conference, you can see it here.  You will find it a rewarding 90 minutes.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Getting Lost in Trends

Every once in a while, I get great ideas.  One of my great ideas is that I want to lay brick in my kitchen.  I have loved that look for many years, but haven't been able to use it yet!  It is one of the oldest kitchen floorings out there so I thought it would have that never-dated, antique look.  I planned for the brick to be only in the kitchen and mudroom because it would be great with the water issues that come with kitchens and melted snow coming in on the boots.

Now, The Lettered Cottage people have just posted their idea of putting brick in their kitchen.

Here is the problem.  If they do brick, they who have so many followers, will it become a trend?  When you come into my kitchen, will you know immediately the year we built our house?

I want to pick timeless finishes and architectural features.  I know that trends come and go and I'll allow for that in things like paint colors, rugs, and throw pillows, but I don't want the whole house to scream 2012!! for the next fifty years.

So, how do you decide on things that are fresh and new, but not so fresh and new that everybody is doing it (think mauve of the 90's and owls of the 70's)???

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fireplace III

After making the walls of the base of the fireplace, I had to fill the great space in the middle.  The kids and I hauled gravel and small rocks to the back of our property to do that job.  After watering it overnight to make sure it was settled, I placed the firebrick (found at the local cement place!?).  The actual fire-building area is 30" x 18".  That little grill in there was found somewhere on our meadow and was placed there by one of my helpers.  Eventually, I will have my dad (Dad?) build me a custom grill to fit the bricks.  That way, we can use it as a charcoal grill during an emergency (or an adventure, whichever).

Here is another view. I started putting stones up the back to begin the chimney, but ran out of steam.  I have put on my work clothes to motivate me to get out there.  Although, I will have to enter my garage to obtain tools and, not knowing the status of the mom and pop mouse, I don't know if I have the courage!!  I wish I had a hazmat suit.


Monday, September 19, 2011


I was happily walking in my meadow, watching our puppy trying to catch the waving seed heads when my daughter hollered, "Mom, there are bikes in the garage!"

I couldn't quite hear her, but bikes in the garage should not have elicited the response she had on display.  I thought I should check it out.

When I looked in, I saw five baby mice.  As in mouses.  Rodents.  Filth.  Destroyers.  Vermin.

I instantly started to hyperventilate.  It was one o'clock in the afternoon.  My husband is at work at wouldn't be home until the evening.  I bought this damn house that is 30 minutes away from my father.  My manly son is impossibly far away.  It was up to me and I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to handle this.

They had to die.  I knew that.  There was no one else to kill them.  I tried to make myself have the girls do it.  I decided that could scar their tender little souls.  These baby mice were still very babyish, you know?  I wrung my hands.  I whimpered.  I paced.  I even cried a little.

"I can't do this!"  I wailed to no one in particular.

Finally, I grabbed a shovel.  I will spare you the details, but it was horrific.  I screamed and squealed like a little girl--not the play ground who-can-make-each-other's-ears-bleed scream, but the I-am-completely-freaked-out kind of scream.

Still shaking, I went inside and called my dad.  He teaches school so he doesn't always answer his phone in the middle of the day, but he answered this time.

"Dad?  I just killed five baby mice and I'm completely freaking out."

He gave me a task, which always helps someone in the middle of a panic attack.

I may or may not have just spent $30 on D-con.

I am a basket-case.  I jump every time one of my children touches me or my dog wanders around the corner.  I researched getting a mouser.  Turns out they're still cats and you still have to take care of them.  I don't like cats and there are allergic people in the house.

***Post Script***
I tried to find an I hate mice image to embed here on this post and just looking at the pictures of mice--crawling all over people hands, destroying cars, poisoning families by getting into the flour--made me wretch.  

My name is Emily and I am insanely musophobic.

To the Fair!

Our son had a chance to go to the fair a few weeks ago.  He hated it because there were too many people and everything was too expensive.  "They gave me $10 and that barely bought me dinner!"  Ha!  Why do you think we never go to the fair?

The other day, my mom called and explained that a friend had some extra tickets to the fair and wondered if we wanted to go.  Even though I had past experience with the fair being something of a crap-shoot, I thought it might be a fun thing to do with the grandparents.

And you know what?  It was a pretty fun time!  We got to see a lot of animals, people and tractors.  We looked at amazing junk we don't need and beautiful quilts, carefully and artfully stitched.  We saw the massive pumpkins, honey bees and 4-H projects.  

Because the grandparents were there to help, we didn't lose anyone and sore feet always had a place to rest.

I suppose it's a good thing she is small because she was on Papa's shoulders a lot.

Grandma even bought us caramel apples.  They were amazing.  (Don't worry, the boys got treats, too.  Just not in this picture.)

One of the best parts of the trip was the "boys."  Zachery was visiting his mom, so we just had Danny and Tony.  Tony (in the green) has several developmental issues including autism and Down's Syndrome.  When he came to my parent's home two years ago, he showed absolutely NO emotion, wouldn't look anyone in the face, and seemed to not even be aware of his surroundings.  Now, though he wouldn't move unless someone was holding his hand, he is a completely different kid.

The changes are subtle and slight to the random observer, but we can see a huge change.  He smiled through the whole fair.  He leaned in toward the animals and tried to touch them.  Once, when he got to feel a basket of alpaca wool, his whole body was excited as he reacted to the pillowy pile.  It was fun to witness.

Then, there is Daniel.

Good grief, Daniel!  He is kissing that sheep!  He was wishing all of the animals a Happy Birthday.  This Llama wasn't interested in being petted, but Danny wouldn't give up.  Every time his hand got close, the Llama would back away.  "C-c-come ON!"

Every ten minutes, some of the random people at the fair would stop him to say hi to Daniel.  They weren't just being nice to a Down's kid, they all knew him!  I was quite surprised at his fame.  

On the way to the fair, I asked him if he was excited to see the pigs.  "I like beef-pigs," was his reply.

"Do you want to see the chickens?"

"I like b-b-beef chickens!"

"Do you want to see the sheep?"  

Yep, you guessed it.  He also likes beef-sheep.   

Daniel doing his best Vanna White, "Ohh, looook.  Here are the beef-sheep."

It was a lovely afternoon.  I'm set for the next ten years.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I am a Believer

Because the LDS Church is large and God's house is a house of order, our congregations are divided up geographically.  These groups are called Wards.  The Church of Jesus Christ uses a correlated system so that each Sunday, all over the world, we are learning the same lessons.  Our clergy is made up of the congregation and we are all volunteers--that is, we volunteer to covenant to serve the Lord and give all we have to the building up of the Kingdom of God here upon the earth.  No one is paid, no one is professionally trained, and all of us feel inadequate when we are asked to serve within the church.  Besides a bit of orientation (which doesn't always happen), we are left to our own devices to fulfill the duties of our particular "calling."  Well, not exactly our own devices; if we are doing it right, we are guided by revelation.  Our callings are usually not life-time callings.  They can last anywhere from a two week assignment to a five year assignment.  I could give an entire lecture to those of you who aren't of my faith about this system.  This is just a brief explanation to give you a foundation for the rest of my post.

When we moved to our new home, we knew we would be asked to serve the Lord in our new ward.  I have had the opportunity to serve in many capacities--music, Sunday School teaching, leading the children, teaching the adult women, organizing classes to improve our talents, leading the youth, and, even, typing up the Sunday Bulletin for each week's meeting.  There is not a calling I haven't enjoyed.  Many people asked where I would most like to serve.  My answer is always:

 I will be happy to serve anywhere.

This is not a statement of pride in my abilities--if I am able, it is only through the experiences, gifts, and understanding that has come through the direction of my Father in Heaven.  Mostly, though, I am not able, I am willing.  Christ can do a lot with a person who is simply willing.

And here we get to the gist of this post: Why am I willing?

Because I am a believer.

I believe that this particular church is patterned after the ancient church--that Jesus Christ is at its head and that our Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, receives revelation from Him regarding the needs of the people of the earth.  Because of that testimony (that the Church is directed by the Savior Himself), I have a testimony of the many programs of the church.

I believe in the Visiting Teaching program.  I have seen lives changed by the simple acts of Women of God visiting with their sisters in the Church.  More frequently, I have seen the day-to-day of women's lives improved by Visiting Teachers.

I believe in sacred music.  There is no other arrow in the Lord's quiver that, as effectively, pierces the heart and allows the love of God to enter in.

I believe in Primary (the children's organization).  There is a reason we are commanded to be like a child.  They have the Light of Christ in their eyes.  They trust and want to learn eternal truths.  If Jesus Christ is anywhere in our Churches, He is in the Primary.

I believe in the Relief Society (the women's organization).  It really is a society which gives relief to the poor and needy, provides instruction in temporal and spiritual affairs, and provides a stage for camaraderie and friendship.

I believe in Scouting, Girl's Camp, Sunday School, Young Men and Young Women, Family History Work, Missionary Work, and, above all, FAMILIES.

There is no area in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which I do not believe.  Therefore, no work to support those programs and auxiliaries would be in vain.  (Do not misinterpret me here.  I am not suggesting that I am capable of or am the best person to fill those positions, I'm just saying that I would be willing to try, should the Lord, through our Bishop, request it of me.)

I know many of you are LDS and will understand what I'm talking about here.  For any of you who are not members of the LDS Church or if you are confused by any of the lingo, please don't hesitate to ask.  I love to talk about my church.

The MotherShip

Friday, September 16, 2011

It's September

It's September
by Edgar Guest 

It's September! It's the fullness and the ripeness
of the year;
All the work of earth is finished, or the final
tasks are near,
But there is no doleful wailing; every living
thing that grows,
For the end that is approaching wears the
finest garb it knows.
And I pray that I may proudly hold my head
up high and smile
When I come to my September in the golden

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fireplace Progress

Today, my back and hamstrings are super sore.  Super.  Because yesterday I spent the entire day moving rocks.  Remember this pile?

I spent a good amount of time trying to categorize my collection.  

Massive rocks:

Basketball sized rocks:

Hand sized rocks for chinking:

I built a foundation with the heaviest rocks set in concrete.  Then, like a giant's puzzle, fitted together the base of the fireplace.  It measures 6'x4' and is about 2' high.  Though I am using mortar, I do not want a heavily mortared product.  In other words, I want it to look dry-stacked.  It seems more rustic to me.

It was supposed to be a coolish day, but ended up in the low 90's.  I wanted to stop--really wanted to stop, but I had all this wet mortar that had to be used.  It was a binding time frame.  I have rarely been so physically exhausted!

Today, hopefully, I will fill in the interior of this base and lay the firebricks. (Did you know that regular clay bricks will EXPLODE if they get too hot??)  Now, to find firebricks locally.  Hmmmm.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Home School Perk

Back-to-school time is sometimes difficult for home schooling families.  There is such and emphasis on school shopping, the excitement of new teachers and first day of school pictures.  

But, it isn't all bad . . .

we get the lake to ourselves.

We can get all of our work done and still be at the lake by 1 pm.

There are usually a few lone fishing boats sitting quietly on the water, but that's about it.

So, while the kids don't get new tennis shoes (they get them when they need them, but that does not always coincide with the start of school), they don't ride the bus and they don't get a packed lunch,

at least they get to go to the lake in the middle of the day.

With a darling new puppy!

Could be worse, eh?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Real Men Lift Women

I'm feeling a bit testy, so I apologize in advance for any offense I might give.  Although, if you take offense, you might want to evaluate your reaction.

Our son is a ballet dancer.  For me, this is no longer news.  It's like saying, "My son likes history," or "Our child builds a great campfire."  It is just another activity for an active child.  For many of you (and when I say "you," I do not necessarily mean YOU, you know), it is a shocking statement.

It infuriates me that we are supposed to be okay with woman climbing the corporate ladder, retaining maiden names, and paying for their own dinner, but a man doing something out of the norm is scoffed.  Why can women be all of the things they want to be, but men cannot?  Seriously, who made up that rule?

This stigma doesn't belong to other forms of dance.  It's okay for a man to swing dance to country music in a country grange and it's okay for a man to break-dance on the street.  But it is not okay for a man to be a ballet dancer.

Some say it is the uniform.  Dancers wear tights.  They wear them for many reasons, but utility is one of the main reasons.  If they are trying to do elaborate turns or flying leaps, flappy pants could get in the way.  This is not unusual in athletic settings, but ballet dancers are mocked for it.

How are these

more okay than this?

Also, there is the gay factor.  So, what you are saying is that a man who enjoys working out for long periods of time to perfect a technique, who pushes himself to constantly improve, and who strives to provide impeccable performances for his audience must be gay?  Hummm.  That obviously doesn't apply to the basketball player who throws free-throws hour after hour, day after day.  Or the baseball pitcher who spends entire summers trying to hit the strike zone.

It must be the makeup.  A ballet dancer occasionally wears stage make-up.  I know of no straight men who  wear makeup for their craft.

Nope, none.  Especially not the pin-up types.

Maybe the stigma comes from the plethora of ballerinas.  What would an all female ballet look like?  
Not this:

I defy any ballerina to do this without her male counterpart.  I suppose it could be an all female cast.  Shakespeare used to be played by an all male cast--including those flirty female roles.  I'm sure that went off very well.

Ahh, the problem must stem from the fact that ballet is beautiful and men are only supposed to participate in the grubby, rough and tumble types of activities.  Frankly, I have no sassy comeback for that. If the love of beauty is socially restricted to women and gay men, then that is a sad, sad thing.

Yes, our son is a ballet dancer.  He is straight.  He works hard.  He wears tights.  He appreciates beauty.  

And he is more a man than so many men our society has produced.  Get over it, my dear.


I drove 18 of the past 24 hours to pick up our son.  It was a LONG drive and I came up with at least 10 great blog posts.

But now, as I sit in front of my computer, I can't remember a'one of them.

So, I'm going to watch Project Runway and fold a pile of clothes and try to remember all of my genius ideas.

To Be Continued . . .

Friday, September 9, 2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Build a Cottage?

Do you think we should build a cottage--a true English Cottage?

I could pretend I was Elinor and living in Barton Cottage.

Every day.

Alas, I've never been an Elinor.  I've always been more along the Marianne lines.  Probably why I'm considering a centuries old house design . . . from across the ocean.

Would you visit me if I lived here?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

It's Been a Long Time

Over the Labor Day Weekend, we went to a mini-family reunion with my husband's family.  Lindsey and Sam have a boat and were gracious enough to drag our family around the lake.  The big kids did a little of this:

The little kids did a little of this:

And our youngest one did a little of this:

The big kids also tried their hand and knee boarding.  They all had a great time doing something that rarely get to try.  

When I was seventeen, I dated a serious water-skier.  He was actually a barefoot skier, which was a beast all its own.  The whole family loved being out on the lake so when Russ and I started dating, it was a given that I would have to learn how to water ski.  I caught on quickly and loved it.  

My dad has always tried to take an interest of one child and turn it into family time.  He, too, had loved water skiing as a youngster and when he saw that I was loving it, he bought a boat.  It wasn't the newest or fanciest boat, but it had a big engine and held the promise of many fun hours on the water.

We went frequently over the next couple of years.  We lived only about twenty minutes from our favorite local lake so we didn't restrict skiing to the weekend.  Two or three hours in the evening was just as worthy if the wind was low and the water glassy.  My parents and the two kids still at home (Levi and I) had a ball together while learning that sport.

Dad sold the boat after I left for college.  I'm not the type of person to beg rides from friends--especially now that gas is so freaking expensive.  Plus, water skiing is not a sport for pregnant woman and pregnancy has consumed a huge amount of my past thirteen years.  Long story short, with one short exception, I hadn't skied in about fifteen years.

I wanted to ski this weekend.  Sam and Lindsey didn't have a ski, but they did have a wake board.  Better than nothing, I thought.  No one on the boat had ever gotten up on a wake board so no one could tell me how to do it or what I was doing wrong when I couldn't get up.  I knew I was starting to get it so I kept trying.  It took me about ten times of trying to move the whole lake out of the way before I was finally riding on top of the water.  

Seventeen and a track star is a lot different than thirty-four and mother of six.  My muscles were just not there.  Sore isn't quite the right word.  But, oh my gosh.  That was fun!