Monday, December 31, 2012

Planning Mishap

My first plant and seed catalogs began arriving in the mail last week.  I get a few excellent ones with beautiful pictures--so clear you can almost smell the flowers' fragrance.  I have spent too many hours pouring over the descriptions, thinking of what would go best together and the happy corner in my lot where it would live.


I especially relished my plan for a rose bed.  I think roses look best when they have their own bed accompanied by a few favorite companions.  The front of our property is the sunniest spot.  We have a 100 foot split-rail fence on the edge of the property that is pleading for roses.  I figured I could put a rose plant in front of each post then fill in the spaces with lavender, baby's breath, Russian sage and the like.  

Kind of like this, only with a mossy split-rail rather than the white picket.
My mother-in-law is a rose expert of sorts so I worked on my plan with her to choose the most fragrant or largest or most unique blooms.  In my mind, the rustic, cottage bed would be a welcoming entrance to the driveway.
Here is a good image more like my fence.  Hydrangeas don't do well in my area, so
imagine roses in their place.

When I get working on a project like this, it is always in the back of my mind.  When I'm doing laundry or running errands, I mull it over.  Sometimes I'm figuring out logistics (where to get plants and materials), but often I am just enjoying the dream of it.  I was happily and busily dreaming about the newly established plan when this showed up in our front yard:


Moose.


Guess what moose eat.  That's right; roses.  This is the first time in the over 18 months that we have lived here that we have seen moose.  We've only spotted a mule deer once!  

What is a dreamer to do?


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hope

A few years ago, I posted about my then-eleven year old son.  I thought maybe he would never learn how to glue himself together every day.

Fast forward a few years.  He will be 14 in a couple of weeks.  He takes a shower every day.  He uses shampoo and soap.  He puts on deodorant.  He even wears clean underwear.  

In the past 24 hours, he has asked for a haircut and requested ironing lessons.

This was Christmas morning, so he was a bit disheveled which opposes the point of this post.
Nice smile, though.  :)
So, for you mothers of wrinkled, crazy-haired eleven year olds out there, here is your dose of hope.  
In a few short years, he will smell good and look nice.

And your heart will break just a little bit.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Break Over

My dear readers,

We have had a wonderful Christmas, but I realized it is time to get back to the grind, so to speak.  My volunteer church position requires a lot of attention just before the beginning of the new year, though I have kept up on house work fairly well, it is time to buckle down with our Architect to get our house planned, Isaac's ballet competition in San Francisco needs planning, there are some fabulous newly released movies that must be watched (if it doesn't get on my list, it doesn't get done!), we must figure out a way to fit another child into our Little House in the Big Woods, and so on and so forth.

Before I do begin checking boxes . . .

What I Did on Christmas Vacation
by The MotherShip

As a stay at home mother whose children do not leave daily to attend school somewhere else, Christmas Break can look like any other time of the year.  I have to make a concerted effort to add in the traditions and celebrations that set the time apart.  I didn't always succeed, but it was still a memorable season.

I sent out Christmas cards, a tradition I skipped last year because I didn't know how to write out the super difficult facts of the year.  It was nice for me to look back on this year and recognize that it has been a blessed one for us.

We participated in our nightly advent tradition.  When my children were all small, I sat down and studied out a succinct way to teach the Christmas Story.  It has been a lovely tradition and simple way to keep the focus of the season on our Savior.  This year, however, I noticed my older children spitting out answers in a rote sort of way.  While I'm glad that they understand the facts, I came away realizing that I'll need to up the ante next year.

One of my favorite family traditions that I began with my new family (because it would have been a torturous activity for my own mother) is the making of Christmas treats.  I have a whole list of mega-favorites and decided on a handful.  We made sugar cookies.  That's it.  I felt like an utter failure each time I looked at the pile of ingredients on my kitchen counter, but I never acted on it.  My husband has been trying to watch his sugar intake as well and I didn't want to taunt him with piles of desirable cookies and treats.  If I look at from that perspective, I don't feel so guilty.


Speaking of guilt, this is the first year ever that I purchased pajamas for the Christmas Eve gift.  I have never spent so much on pajamas in my life and I couldn't shake the nagging thought of how much I could have saved it I'd pulled out the sewing machine.

Please ignore our casual theater attire.  We'd made it into town just in time!
One thing I didn't mind spending money on, however, was tickets to The Nutcracker.  We didn't take the girls last year because it would have meant taking the big car on the long trip, as well as the expense of the ticket purchase.  The entire ballet I felt bad, knowing the girls would have loved it.  This year, we took them all and got to watch the magical production together.  Isaac's many outstanding roles made it even more exciting!  What a joy to get to watch him dance!


Our oldest daughter had her piano recital.  Her teacher gives a wonderful service to a local nursing home each year and has the recitals during their dinner hour.  Most of the sick and elderly love and appreciate the music and the presence of the children.  Our daughter did a wonderful job on her piece and was even asked to accompany us all for some caroling.  This is the best time of year to have a piano student in your home!



Mother Nature cooperated in a remarkable way and delivered a glorious white Christmas.  We had over a foot of snow on the ground on the big day (which is a pain for the new bicycle owners).  We feel blessed every day by this perfect world.


And so, I am back.  I will continue to write and you can continue to read, if you so desire.

Happy New Year!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Better

It is Nutcracker season.  For dancers, that means constant rehearsals, moving sets and props, hanging lights, preparing and performing.  It is an exciting and exhausting time.  For parents, it means fixing costumes, helping with make-up, providing portable and healthy meals, but mostly, praying--praying that our child will be happy with their performance.  Praying that they will be able to portray the emotion of the dance; they have worked so many hours to perfect it so the audience won't be distracted by sub-par dancing.

Our nation has had a horrible day; a day everyone would rather have never happened.  All of us have shed tears and felt the heartbreak of the event.  Most of us gathered our children around us to read books, watch a movie or otherwise have them close.  Many of us felt the innate desire to never leave the house ever again and take other extreme steps to protect our families.  

But is was opening night of The Nutcracker.  Our children were tasked with taking our minds off of tragedy.
  In the midst of the darkness, they were asked to provide light.

You know, very often I have wished my son was a mediocre player on his junior high basketball team.  It is unspeakably difficult to watch him grow from 500 miles away.  But I can see the good he is doing.

Here I am trying to keep up on laundry, 
but my son is bring beauty to the world.  

This is the joy of mothering.  I get to be a part of growing someone better.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Spoiling the Youngest

It happened.  I kind of knew it was happening, but mostly ignored my conscience because I didn't want to fight.  We were having a date, after all, and a tantrum spoils dates quicker than any other situation.

After having taken my other three daughters out for their Christmas shopping date, it was finally the four year old's turn.  She had waited patiently for over a week--the whole time watching each sister excitedly get ready, staying home for a couple of hours knowing that the sister was having a fun time with Mom, then witnessing the giddy sister run inside with a bag in her hand and success written all over her face.  It must have been terribly hard to be patient!

Well, today it was her turn.  We picked out a cute outfit (my most outfit conscious child), bid the other sisters farewell (who were glad to see us go) and jumped in the car.  For a couple of weeks, since the drawing of names, I had asked her what ideas she had.  "Guitar or drums," she proudly declared.  I was only thinking, How about something a little less than $200.

I decided to take her to the mall for variety's sake.  You need to understand that my oldest girl is about as un-frilly as you can get.  She isn't exactly a tom boy; she wears girl clothes . . . they just can't be pink and they can't be sparkly and they can't be cute.  You also need to understand that my youngest daughter is all about pink, sparkly, cute anything.  (Remember that she circled everything, literally everything, in the Toys R Us catalog that fell into those categories   That included toys she already had and a little girl with pink clothes who was modeling a bike.  She wanted the little girl!)

When we do our Christmas shopping, the children know that we are not there to pick out something for themselves; we are only there for the sibling gift.  Over the years, it has taken different children different amounts of training, but they always get it and it is always a rewarding experience.  Today was somehow different.  My little girl could not shift her mind into older sister mode.  Everything she saw that was over-the-top with color and twinkle was perfect!  I reminded her in a hundred ways that her big sister would never like what was being picked.  She was so sad.  Her taste level is so exquisite, she couldn't imagine anyone not liking her choices.

So I bought her these.


Every single other child did not get to buy something for themselves!  I mean, they each got a milk shake or a pretzel or whatever, but not a toy and certainly not pink, sparkly shoes!  She really did need some new tennis shoes and these are kind of tennis shoe-y.  They were on clearance and if I waited to buy them until she wasn't with me, they would likely have been gone.  BUT, every one of my older children who needed new tennis shoes two weeks before Christmas would have found them under the tree on Christmas morning.

What is happening to me?  My guard is going down.  It is a good thing there is another baby on the way or this child could become a major problem--because of her mother.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Our Business

‎"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself. 

"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy forbearance, and benevolence were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business! 


"Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me?"


(A few moments after this exchange, Scrooge was led to the window and instructed to look out.)  


The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went.  Every one of them wore chains like Marley's Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free.  Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives.  He had bee quite familiar with the one old ghost in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw below upon a doorstep.  The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever. (Dickens, Charles.  A Christmas Carol.  pgs 14, 21.  Bold added for emphasis.)



Are we our brother's keeper?  Yes, indeed.  We ought to be, like our Savior, "about my Father's business."


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Here are the next few days' advent . . .

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

An Important Feature

To begin, I'm sorry if this topic is not lady-like, but it must be mentioned for the good of the cause.

I must be busy.  I don't know if this is a long-standing personal trait or if it is one developed over the last fourteen years of mothering.  If I am just sitting, I must be folding laundry (movie), eating (meals), typing (this) or reading.  If I am at a doctor's office, for instance, and have forgotten my book, I will read the side of my tube of chapstick.

One of my favorite things in our first house was a magazine rack in the bathroom.  This may be unsavory to a more genteel reader, but I assure you, once the magazine gained entrance to the bathroom, there it lived out its life.  Reading material was discarded regularly.

Not my kid.
My current bathroom does not have this feature.  I had had a large stack of old magazines given to me by a friend (Thank you, Lisa) who was innocent of their intended location.  Over the past several months, I slowly worked my through them.  The stack is gone.

Since the magazines are gone, I have found myself in the bathroom, stranded!  Nothing to read, nothing at all!  I have read the labels of all of the shampoo bottles, soap containers and cleanser wrappers.

Note to Self:
In the Someday House, remember to make a place to store those essential "just sitting" reading materials.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hair-ggravation

My hair is getting long again.  I have thick, generally bodied hair.  This is the look I'm going for:


This is what it usually looks like:

(Actually, I'm not going to show you.
Imagine me in last night's make-up, greasy bangs and hair in a tight bun at the nape of my neck.)

Sometimes my hair looks really great, but not all that often.  I do try to do interesting things with it, but I am bobby-pin inept.  It may look just like the inspirational photo when I leave for church, but by the time Primary is over, it is a hot mess.


The problem is that I like my hair!  I like the color and the warmth on my back.  Why is this the problem?  I don't have to look at it, except during those getting ready moments in front of the mirror, but my husband does.  He would never say anything hurtful, but I think he's getting bored with the bun.  He says he wants something above my shoulders, below my chin.  (I've done pixie a few times before and I'm pretty sure he doesn't like that on me, though, again, he won't say anything if he thinks it would hurt me.)


I wouldn't really mind cutting my hair because I do like change, and hair is such an easy change, except for one major situation:  I am entering my fat stage.

Some of you luckies gain weight on only certain areas (bottom, belly, legs, etc), but when I gain weight, it goes to my face.  I've already gained 20 pounds and probably have another 30 to go.  I used to worry and struggle with this; now I just know it is part of the way my body makes babies.  That understanding and acceptances doesn't make me feel any cuter!  I still feel round-faced and double-chinned.

Long hair is supposed to elongate.  This is the time I need elongation.


So, I'm stuck.  What do you think I should do?


_______________________________________________

Totally unrelated, but pertinent because it is December 1st, here is a link to my advent if you are interested.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Get Out of My Uterus

On the same day that I post on Facebook about the miracle that after a run of five girls, we are having a boy, a friend posted (on his own status, not on my thread), "Is it wrong to tell people of this generation who have more than 3-4 kids to stop effin breeding?  Just wondering . . ."

Several of his other friends commented before I saw it with remarks such as, "You could just punch 'em!" or "Do It!"

Really?

The same group that wants to limit the population is the same group that wants me, as a tax payer, to pay for another woman's birth control and abortions all over the world.

Maybe those who profess to be pro-choice aren't as pro-choice as they profess.

If what happens in a woman's uterus is really her choice, then why is my choice to have many children available for general discussion?

I'm not going to go into the fact that the world needs good families who raise good children.  I'm not going to expound on the population crises countries like Japan and France.  I'm not going to address the faith factor and the commandment to do the very thing I am doing.  I have passionate arguments about all of those points, but I'm not going to make them today.

Today I am going to ask you nicely to Get Out of My Uterus.  I'm not asking for your money to raise them.  I'm not taking food from your table to feed them.  I'm not even going to ask you to babysit (well, except Mom and Mollie).  There is a good chance that my child will be paying for your healthcare when you are old and sick.  My child may be the one to change your tire on the side of the road while the rain is pouring down.  My child may be the one who comes up with an idea to make your life better or easier.  At the very least, my child will be the one who says the kind word when you are having a bad day or shovels the snow from your sidewalk without request or pay or who befriends your child when he moves to a new town.  On that day, you'll be glad you didn't have as much control of the population as you once hoped.

And if one more person says that having children is selfish, I'm gonna start shooting burning arrows.  How. In. The. World. is having children selfish?  My nice things are broken, my bed is shared, my paycheck is exhausted, my house is full, my sleep is relinquished, my body is stretched and decidedly not svelte, and my number one focus is on the small beings themselves.  Please look up the word selfish, because you obviously do not understand its meaning.

Okay, I'm done.  Go back to whatever.  :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Twenty Weeks

We are at a pinnacle moment of this pregnancy.  A moment I've been worrying about since the first thoughts that maybe I was expecting.  You see, we lost our precious Eowyn during this week of her gestation.

I've been doing fairly well--only a few more panicky situations, though there have been countless quiet thoughts and prayers for a healthy baby.

All my experience, unwanted but mine nonetheless, told me that this week was going to be difficult.  I've put on a brave face and tried to be only happy for the ultrasound today.  Inside, however, I was feeling much less brave.  I crawled up onto the table and pulled up my shirt.  I've been feeling the baby move a lot, so I knew there was life, but there was life before.

The technician glided her instrument over my jellied belly.  She took stills of the kidneys, brain, stomach and limbs.  She measured the head, the heart and femur.  We watched the blood travel correctly through heart and umbilical cord.  She checked the spine, the placenta and my cervix.  The gal had many years of experience and though she may not be able to spot everything, she would notice if some things were off.  I asked if she was allowed to tell me and she said she could, for the most part.  If something was seriously wrong, she would get the doctor right away.

Toward the end of the ultrasound, she still hadn't gotten a good profile picture.  I assured her that that was less meaningful to me than most of the other shots.  Here in my old age I am more concerned that the spine is covered, the cord is functioning, and that all the pieces are parts are where they should be.

The ultrasound doesn't uncover all problems and there are some problems that can come after a completely healthy-looking ultrasound.  I knew all this and yet I still hoped and prayed for this child.  I will trust in the Lord even more now because I can no longer rely on naivete for protection.

The verdict?  All is well, all is well.


Oh, yes.  One more thing.  Though the odds were only 17% in his favor, Mr. Y chromosome won the race.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Paper Bag Turkey

 I have been teased a lot about this method--until someone tastes the turkey it produces.


It requires no brining, no basting, no deep-fat frying, no unusual ingredients, no injected butter or other ingredient, but this baby is moist, moist, moist.  And without all those steps or extra ingredients, it is easy and healthy!

You may think this is crazy, but you need to try it. 

I've made this many times over the past fifteen years (I make turkey more often than at the holidays).  It has never burned and is always beautifully golden.  My mother was taught to cook a turkey this way from my great-grandmother.  (Helen, for those of you who happen to share a great-grandmother.)
Secret family recipe about to be shared!

Step 1:  Obtain a regular grocery store paper bag.

Step 2:  If it has handles, rip them off.

Step 3:  Grease the bag.  
Pam spray is the easiest way (you can use any flavor), but I've also used plain old vegetable oil many times.

Step 4:  Open up all the folds to make sure the entire surface is oiled.

Step 5:  Make sure the whole bag is greased.  
Rub the oil around to make sure you don't have any dry spots.

Bing!  Shiny, breathable (unlike plastic) paper bag.

Step 6:  Prepare your turkey.  
Make sure you get all of the parts out the turkey (ie: the bag of organs and the neck).  Besides that, I am a purest.  I don't add anything except stuffing.  

After you've stuffed the neck, fold the excess skin under the turkey.  Bend the wings backwards to hold the skin (and, therefore, stuffing) in place.
Yes, I've seen the pins on Pinterest on how to make my pans look like new again.  Frankly, I don't care.  They aren't new; they are well used.  :)

Step 7:  Slip the stuffed turkey into the paper bag like a pillow into a pillowcase.  
If you buy the most humongous turkey you can find, like I always do, get help for this part.
  
Step 8:  Put the bagged turkey in the pan.
I have this inexpensive roaster that I use, but I used a regular 9 x 13 for many years before I got it.  The only disadvantage of the casserole pan is that it sometimes doesn't have enough room for the juices.  Put another pan under it to catch drips.
Make sure the bag is tucked in.

Step 9:  Bake at 325 degrees for however long your package suggests (so long for so many pounds--it will be different with each turkey.)  Make sure your rack is low enough that the bag won't touch the upper elements (this is true with whichever method you use!).  Sometimes it will smoke a little.  
Don't panic.  Totally normal.


Ta-dah!  Pull out a perfect turkey and let everyone oooh and ahhh over its beauty and deliciousness.


Be sure to use those happy juices to make the gravy.  Homemade gravy is so much better than the packets!


There you go.  
The paper-mache turkey.  
Should you need to make a second turkey after Thanksgiving so you have enough "left-overs," consider this time-tested way.  
You'll be amazed.

Love,
The Great-grandaughter
Passing on the Secrets

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Working on My Attitude: A Thanksgiving Message

I hate my house.  There.  The plain and grumbling truth.  It stinks, there is no storage, it is about three bedrooms shy of the need, no dishwasher and a crappy kitchen sink to boot, it is cold and breezy, the stove is temperamental, the windows are often covered with foggy condensation so I can't see outside, it is ugly and there is no place to unpack my books.  I can't take a bath in the shrunken tub.  I stub a toe, bonk my head or whack my hip at least once every day as I try to navigate around the too big for the space but not big enough for our family kitchen table or our make-shift storage solutions.

Yesterday, one of my daughters was throwing a record breaking tantrum.  She was asked to clean her room;  it was admittedly bad and was that way mostly due to her youngest sister.  I was as patient and understanding as could be . . . for the first hour and forty-five minutes.  Then she started screaming about how much she hates this house!!!  Now, her bedroom only has two and a half walls because it is not really meant to be a bedroom; it is supposed to be a dining room.  Since we couldn't shut the door to attempt containment of her fit, we were all forced to listen to the unrelenting screeches.  When she started in on the house, I had a moment of brilliance.  Okay, the truth is that I had just had enough and couldn't listen to her for one more minute!  I told her that she didn't need to be in the house since she hated it so much.

I put her outside.

It was about 60 degrees and she was wearing short sleeves.  I did not lock the door so she could have come in at any time.  She decided she would rather continue with the tantrum outside and stayed on the back porch for about five minutes.

I brought her inside and wrapped her in a blanket.  Her tears had switched from uncontrolled to sad and hurt which meant I could finally talk with her--reason with her.

I told her that I hated the house, too.  But then I asked if she had been cold outside.  She nodded yes.  I reminded her that as much as we hate this house, we need to be thankful for it because without this despised shelter, we would be desperately cold.

---Kaboom!---

Do you ever say something to someone else that was really just the thing you needed to hear?  My lecture was of more benefit to me than to any kid mad because she had to clean up after her sister.

-------------------------------------

I love my house.  I can sit in my pajamas in front of the computer and stay warm.  I can go outside to enjoy the beauty of nature, but that I can come in and have a cup of hot chocolate when I am done.  My children are still small enough that they can all squeeze onto one side of the kitchen table.  There are six people in this house to help share the burden of hand washing the dishes. There is a lock on the master bedroom which is a feature we have never before enjoyed.  I love that this house is paid for . . .

so I can effectively save for a new house.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Shopping for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is in less than a week.  

I'm writing that, in part, as a reminder to you in case you are like me and the holiday has sneaked up on you.  The only reason I knew we were close is because all of the ads offered discounts on things like yams and cranberries.  Those are not usually big sellers, I'm guessing.


I am not a big-time couponer.  I don't have time to haunt e-bay looking for the right coupon, I refuse to dumpster-dive searching for unused coupons and I don't want to buy more than one paper.  I'm not going to drive around to fifteen different stores and spend hours finding the perfect deal on the item I may never use.  In other words, I don't want to make couponing a part-time job.  However, I am a big believer in coupons!

My small local newspaper costs $3 per week.  Each Sunday and Wednesday paper comes with all of the information I need to be a smart shopper.  My modest goal is to be smart (plan meals around the sale items, use coupons on items I would have purchased anyway) and to save at least as much as the paper costs; even if I'm only saving by being aware of the deals before I go to the store, it is a sum total cost savings.  After living here for a while, I've gotten to know which ads are worth my time--in other words, which stores seem to have the best deals on the groceries I most often buy.  I only check those favorite store ads now.  Thirty minutes a week clipping and writing a menu.

Parenthetically, if you think you are getting the best deals by going to Walmart, you need to start getting a paper.  This week's ads, for instance, showed the glaring price differences between Walmart and practically everywhere else.  Walmart is good if the thing you need is not on sale anywhere because it is probably a pretty good price--three to ten cents cheaper than the non-sale price everywhere else.  BUT, if it is on sale, you'll find a better deal practically anywhere.  In this week's ad, for example, showed Cool Whip for $.97, but it was on a Thanksgiving sale at my regular store for $.28.  That one example was indicative of the whole ad.  Yes, they price match, but who wants to shop at Walmart if you can get the same deal in a much nicer environment?

Anyway, tonight I did most of my Thanksgiving shopping (you know how long it takes a turkey to thaw!).  I saved over $100 dollars.  No, the store didn't give me money back.  No, I didn't get anything for free.  No, I'll never be on a TV show, but $100 dollars is certainly worth the thirty minutes I spent on my couch clipping coupons this morning.

There you have it.  An entire post dedicated to something that matters to you not at all.  Sorry.  It's really early in the morning (insomnia) and it was what was racing through my head.  I wish I could guarantee better content in my next post, but I'll probably be writing that in the wee hours of the morning as well.  Have a great Saturday anyway!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Choosing Names

For every expectant couple, one essential task must be done:  they must choose a name for their child.  As a young girl, like many unmarried young girls, I had the list of names I would bestow upon my children long before I was even dating.  When I got married, I expected that my husband would love my list just as much as I did.

It didn't turn out that way.

Everyone, I was to learn, had some negative name associations.  Everyone has some names that don't resonate with them and everyone has a few favorites.  The naming of our first child wasn't too difficult and even our second, our first girl, didn't take long.  After that, however, each successive little girl has become harder and harder to name.

Once there are siblings involved, the choosing of the moniker becomes even more challenging.  First of all, the names need to have some kind of symmetry.  You can't have David, Joseph, Mary and Beth and then throw in a Crystal.  You can't have Finn, Sawyer and Scarlett and then pop out, and this is Bill.  In our case, our children have very traditional names and so, even though I think Stone is a cool name, six traditional names and one cool name don't necessarily jive.

Second sibling problem:  If you thought it was hard to get two people to agree on a name, try getting the siblings to all agree!  I'm not suggesting that the children will get to decide and if Justin and I absolutely love one particular name, we'll use it regardless of the complaints filed.  However, sometimes the children have a legitimate concern that we hadn't considered.  Suddenly the name that was so cute is now too close to a swear or a body part or an old lady with no teeth.

The last week we (I) have been a bit consumed with the baby name discussion.  We will find out next week whether we are having a girl or a boy.  The boy name has been chosen for the last eleven years.  The girl name, well, we've been through the gauntlet.  Two of our top favorite names have, in the last few years, gone from obscure to top 15.  While I want people to recognize the child's name and I don't want her to have to slowly pronounce it for everyone for the rest of eternity, I also don't want to her to always have her last name initial hooked to her first name.  Isabella S.  Emma S.  Sophi S.  (These are all beautiful names, by the way!)

You know what I mean?

All of our children have two given names.  One is an important person in history.  I've always liked the idea of being named after someone good and virtuous.  Who knows but that person may become a hero to our child--someone to emulate   The second name is a family name.  Somehow all of our girls are named after either me or someone on my side of the family.  I am determined that this next child be named from my husband's family tree.

What a darling little Dutch girl!
The issue is that my husband is Dutch.  Talk about throwing in unnecessary letters!  J's and K's all over the place!  While I think some of the names are beautiful, no one in this country would ever know how to pronounce Greetje (GRAY-tya) or Aaltjien (ALL-te-yen).  But I am determined, so we kept looking.  We came up with this list of semi-finalists (in no particular order):

  • Beatrix
  • Gretchen
  • Cornelia (Corrie)
  • Brigitta
  • Gretel
  • Henriette
  • Greet/Griet

Some of these are a form of the family name and some come straight off the family tree.  We've actually agreed on a name and we are both enthusiastic about it.  We have not yet shared the chosen name with the children, though they have seen the semi-finalist list.  I do hope they like it!

And after all this, our sweet baby will probably turn out to be a boy.  Well, better to be prepared, I suppose.



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Precious Afternoon Nap

With my pregnancies comes weird sleep patterns.  The slightest noise or worry and an easily filled bladder wakes me up all too easily through the night.  Once awake, it is often hard for me to fall back asleep.  In addition to my wakeful nights, I'm growing a whole human body inside of mine.  That takes a lot of energy so I need sleep more than usual.

Also, I like naps and pregnancy is a great excuse.

Afternoons are usually the time when the household chores are done and the dinner process hasn't begun just yet.  School work is should be wrapped up and the children are enjoying their free time.  When we don't have piano lessons or other afternoon commitments, the afternoon is when I get my reading done.

Afternoon + Reading + Pregnancy = Nap.  Every time.

My favorite spot--turning the ringer off.
My kids are older now, so I don't have to sleep on the couch with one eye open, like I've had to do with most of my other pregnancies.  It is snowy and cold here in November, so I turn on my heated mattress pad, pull out my book, crawl between my sheets and have a most marvelous me time.  I can usually get a good chunk of reading done before my eyelids get heavy, but then, I slip happily into sleep.  When I wake up, I am happy and nice and really thirsty.

If were playing the gratitude game on Facebook, today I would be grateful for afternoon naps!

Monday, November 12, 2012

On Teaching

Yesterday, a fifteen year old young man was giving a talk at the pulpit.  (In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members of the congregation give the Sunday Sermons and youth play an active role in that.)  In it, he mentioned that he had a testimony that coming to church was important, even though "it is three hours of boredom."  Yikes, I thought, what a stinging indictment of his teachers!

I'm not suggesting that his teachers are bad people.  It could be the fault of this young man that church is boring, but it is just as likely that the blame could be shared with his teachers.  (I'm really not trying to ignore  or make light of the fact that we as students MUST come prepared to learn.  That includes our personal preparation as well as our attitude.  This facet is essential.)

Last night, my husband went to a Stake Priesthood meeting (a meeting for all of those in our area who hold the priesthood).  The Stake President talked about our Young Men and addressed the fact that we lose many of them right at the time they are coming into manhood.  The facets of this issue are multitudinous  but one area he mentioned was the level of teaching happening in the classrooms.

"What message are you sending when your students see you flipping through the manual just minutes before you are supposed to teach the lesson?  Do you think they don't notice that you don't crack open the scriptures?  Why do we joke about the fact that the members of the Elder's Quorum don't prepare for lessons or even bother to bring manuals to church?"

He said that, in effect, the brethren are not taking the teaching of the doctrine of Christ seriously, so why should our young men turn to that doctrine during times of searching and need?


When I was a college student, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend school for a semester at the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near-Eastern Studies.  It was a marvelous building, built into the side of the hill on the other side of Kidron Valley.  Because it was built into the side of the hill, every classroom looked out over the Old City of Jerusalem, a breathtaking sight to be sure.  Every classroom, in fact, had one entire wall that consisted of beautifully arched windows with that amazing view.


When they were building the center, some were concerned about the windows and the possibility that they could prove to be too distracting to the students.  The simple reply from the brethren was that the teaching would have to improve.

I am a teacher at church, as well, so this lesson is just as much for me as for anyone who teaches that bored young man.  Our students have many distractions that can easily draw their focus away from the lesson.  What we must do, like those professors who so aptly held my attention despite the glorious display just outside the window, is improve our teaching.  I am the first to admit that I have taught so many primary lessons that sometimes I don't pray about it, ponder it and work on it with the degree of seriousness my position demands.  This work is too great, the consequences too grave for me to do any less than my best.  Who knows how many fragile testimonies are relying on the Spirit in the classroom to teach them the thing they need to hear?  If I give my calling a half-way effort, I could be robbing that student of the moment they were seeking, even praying, to have.

Incidentally, this applies to Family Home Evening lessons as well as those Primary, Young Women, Young Men, Relief Society, or Sunday School lessons.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The First Snowy Day


November 8, 2012.  The first snow of the season started in the evening.  By morning, we had 5 1/2 inches.  It continued throughout the day, not hard, but consistent.  The girls and their happy puppy were outside and inside, then outside and inside--five times.  Play, hot cocoa, play, warm bath, play, watch a movie while huddled together under heaps of blankets . . .  and so on.


I am so thankful that we were led here.  Yes, it is a small, cold, breezy trailer and I have complained about it some.  BUT, look where we get to live!  I hereby vow to stop complaining and show my gratitude more readily.

I'm not really a world traveler, but I have been a few places.  Nothing, nothing compares to winters at home.   Even the cold can't take away from the beauty of the individually coated twigs, limbs, branches and cones.  

I am so glad to have this gorgeous weather, I'll even hold off my griping about snow clothes for a few months!

Well, weeks, at least.

A Perfect Autumn Evening


Our land produces quite a bit of yard waste.  Tree trimmings, dead tree removal, branches and twigs that fall out of the trees and other organic waste.  Most of those things are too big for a compost pile, so since we live in the country, we have a periodic bon fire.


Since Isaac was in town and there are few things teenage boys like better than a huge fire, we had a party.  We invited my sister and her family, my parents and the brothers.  

I made home-opened, canned chili and cinnamon rolls.  When we moved several years ago, I tried every cinnamon roll in town and none compared to Cinnabon--which was hundreds of miles away.  I made it my business to create a perfect recipe.  For a few months, I made cinnamon rolls at least weekly until my recipe was refined to perfection.  Kevin, my brother-in-law, gave me the key to the city.  I'm not sure he has that authority, but it was so graciously offered that I had no choice but to accept.


The weather was crisp, but not frigid.  The food was good.  The entertainment was delightful and the company was top notch.  (I am so glad that my kids love my sisters kids and vice versa.  It sure makes for fabulous family time!)  Sweaters, flannel, stocking caps, hands clasping warm bowls.


It was, all told, a perfect autumn evening.

This one shows off the sheer size.  It took a while to burn down!