Saturday, March 31, 2012

Dear Void

Tonight, two children were baptized.  As the Primary President, I am often invited to say a few words at the end of the service.  Tonight was no exception.

I prayed and thought and searched the scriptures for the right thing to say.  I realize that I am a heavy hitter; I don't believe children need to have the gospel spoon fed.  We live in a difficult world, but their spirits are strong ones, preserved for this time.  They hunger for the "meat" of the gospel and I think sometimes we adults are shy in giving it to them.

Well, I thought I had found the right topic for my address tonight.  It didn't come out quite right, but, you know, I didn't think it was terrible.  But as I drove home, I started thinking about what I had said and began to get nervous.  Ill placed, poorly conceived, half-hatched were some of my reactions.  My husband happened to be there so I asked him what he thought.  He said, "Well, that's why I always think about what I'm going to say before I say anything."

So now I feel super stupid.  Did I embarrassed myself.  I'm pretty sure I did.  Worse, I'm not confidant that my words invited the Spirit.  My brain-pounding thoughts were keeping me awake--I can't stop rehashing--so I thought writing it out might help.  In the immortal words of Kathleen Kelly (aka Meg Ryan) from You've Got Mail, "I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void.  So goodnight, dear void."

Friday, March 30, 2012

Backyard Playground

Living in a mountain meadow has gotten into my system.  It is the most soothing environment--no matter the weather.  Even a crazy, tree-whipping wind storm can be relaxing, provided I have either a good coat or secure walls!  The house we are planning will be at home in the landscape with warm, earthen colors and natural materials.  The playground, therefore, cannot be

shiny metal,

primary colors,

Great for a more urban setting.

or overly gargantuan.


I've been searching the web for ideas on how to make a more organic playground.  Just having a big, beautiful garden will do for most of the play, but children love to climb, jump, swing and dig and I want to provide areas for those things.

A waterless stream bed with stepping stones and a wooden bridge.

This has a sunken garden feel.  It is set a little lower, uses natural materials and
takes advantage of the mature trees overhead.

While I'm not sure what it will connect--probably some kind of tree house--
I'd love to have a rope bridge.

Of course, a tree swing.
I'm still searching out ways to have water without having to worry about kids drowning,
but I did like this idea.  Waterfall steps with a shallow pebble bed below.
Good splashing time for a hot day.
Though this doesn't officially qualify as being part of a playground,
I will have a few fairy houses dotting the property.
Imagination is a great playmate, too.
Sand doesn't have to be in a box.

And, finally, a vegetation tepee. 
I have a few more ideas, like a rope for climbing, miniature (and maybe secret) "doors" and at least one look-out.  Wouldn't you want to play here?  

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Temple Trip

On our upcoming trip, we will be passing by several LDS temples.  Sometimes it will be a deliberate drive-by, sometimes we'll actually stop and wander around and sometimes we'll see it just because it is by the freeway.  Because temples are very important to Justin and I, we would be remiss if we didn't do everything we could to pass along that love to our children.  This is a unique opportunity to see so many temples.  To help make the point and to help their minds preserve the memory, I made up a chart of the temples on our journey.  (I'm putting together a traveling booklet for each child and this will be included in that.)
So, while the big star in the middle of our trip is Disneyland, I hope that these twenty diamonds will show our children that family fun is important because we are eternal.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pen Pals

My kindergartner has a friend who was our neighbor at our old house.  Both of our families moved at about the same time.  She talks about this little boy all of the time and misses him very much.  She finally decided to do something about it; she wrote him a letter.  I didn't copy that one, but repented quickly when, a few days ago, I got the reply.  (Written as dictated to his mother.)

It absolutely made my her day!  She made me sit right down so she could dictate her reply.  (Yes, I write crooked.  She spoke so fast that it was all I could do to keep up!)

There you go.  A little gift for you, my beloved readers.  I hope you enjoyed the letters as much as I did!

Yours Truly,

The MotherShip

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Operation Diversion: Kitchen Appliances

I had a crappy day and at the end of it, I wanted to escape.  So, I found something to research.  When I research, I have to share it with you, my unsuspecting readers.  Love ya'!  :)

Today, I want to talk about kitchen appliances.  
Specifically, the cooking appliances.  
More specifically, burners, ovens and microwaves.

The number one thing for me to consider, which is probably near the last on other people's lists, is the finish on said appliances.  I am a poor housekeeper--everyone knows this.  Therefore, consideration number one is how to get around using stainless in my kitchen.  

I know, I know, everyone has a trick to keeping the fingerprints at bay, but there is no way I'm going to wax my fridge or worry about regular buffing.  I want to wash it with 409 and go away, with ne'r a backward glance.

That leaves black, white or almond.  The kitchen I'm building in my mind is warm, with a lot of natural light, but darker finishes.  I think white appliances would be be too pronounced.  Almond might be alright, but it isn't a popular color right now so selection is thin.  I'm pretty sure I've settled on black.  Opinions?

Now, please don't mistake my posting this picture for my loving the kitchen.  I don't.  This is just to show black appliances in a warm-toned kitchen. 

Next up in the narrowing process?
Must have:  2 ovens and a microwave.
Would really like:  5+ burners.

Option 1:  36" Range, Single Wall Oven, Separate Microwave
Range = $2,000
Single Wall Oven = $1,000

Why two ovens?  Well, I bake a lot.  They really would be put to good use.

Option 2:  30" Range, Single Wall Oven, Separate Microwave
Range = $500
Single Wall Oven = $1,000

I feel I must explain why I want 5 burners.  It is not because I would generally use all of the burners at once, but because the burners are too close.  For example, if I have a big stock pot on the front element, the back element becomes unusable.  If I have two large pots, say sauce in one and noodles in the other, I can only use two of my four elements.  So, though I know there are 30" ranges with 5 elements, squishing one more element onto an already full stove top does not solve my problem.  Savvy?  

How often does this happen?  Not every day.  

Option 3: Range, Single Wall Oven + Microwave Combo

Range = $2,000
Microwave + Oven Combo = $2,000
The price of these kinds of microwaves begs the question:  How much do I use the microwave?
Let's see, I use it every day, but I use it to melt butter and heat hot cocoa.  It does no heavy lifting so a simple $100 microwave is fully sufficient for my needs.  And I already own one.  Okay, next.

Option 4:  Cooktop, Double Ovens, Separate Microwave.

Cooktop = $1,000
Double Ovens = $1,500
If I went with a cooktop that is not hooked to a range, I would definitely go with the 36".  The price between the two sizes is negligible. 

Totals.  I'm using very round numbers here for convenience.  On the options where we have a separate microwave, I didn't include any price for the microwave (we have one that works fine right now) or the shelving it would require.  There would be a cost there.  Of course, price isn't the only consideration, but it is one!

Option 1 = $3,000
Option 2 = $1,500
Option 3 = $4,000 (or $2,500 if with a 30" range)
Option 4 = $2,500

Opine, my dears.  What have you to say?

By the way, yes, I will be bringing this with me when I am officially oven shopping!  If it doesn't fit, deal's off.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Husband

While I am at home, living out my dream life, my husband is working.

He gets up at 3:45 in the morning!  He grooms, does a little personal religious study, kneels by the bed to pray with his barely conscious wife, then braves the snow and ice of the early morning hours.  First, he heads to the library to study for the NAPLEX (North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination) which he will have to take in June.  Around the time the rest of us are getting out of bed, he goes to the hospital for his eight hour shift where he pays to work (tuition).  After "school," he drives across town to the community pharmacy where he works to pay for the gas required to heat the air around our house, food for his family, ballet shoes and piano lessons.  At about 6:45 pm, he pulls into the driveway where he proclaims, "No, I'm not tired!  I feel great!"  He eats dinner, plays with the girls, listens to me and acknowledges the efforts of the wildly wagging dog.  He (usually) leads his family in prayer and scripture study before he crawls into bed at 8:30.

Do you see how it is that I can lead this idyllic life?  It is because of my dear companion.  More evidence that I really did win the lottery.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Idyllic Life Contest Winner

Earlier today, someone on Facebook asked what we were doing today.  He had had surgery and was stuck on the couch and wanted to live vicariously for a while.  All of his other friends who commented either said "working" or something inane ("whiskey and whores" or "Sex and the City").  I shook my head sadly and then thought, Well, he asked.  I'm going to tell him.  I gave him a simple outline; I'll flesh it out a bit more for you.
Three years ago, on another idyllic day.
This morning marked the beginning of having my husband back home full time (after a six week stint of away during the week, home on Sunday).  We cuddled and visited until he finally had to leave at the relatively late hour of 8:30.

After he left, I crawled out of my bed to a beautifully March-y day.  The rain came down all day--gently at times and crazy loud at others (remember, I live in a tin can).  It livened all of the colors of my meadow and the pine trees and made everything smell so good.

I needed to make bread today anyway, so I dyed the dough green and made "shamrock" rolls instead.  The girls did a little school work to catch up on lost days.  I washed a sink full of dishes and kept the laundry rotating (final load count for the day:  Seven).  Wanting a dessert and knowing I had plenty of baking cocoa, I made chocolate-mint sandwich cookies.  They were amazing!!  While I was doing my work, James Taylor sang me quiet love songs.

After getting everyone dressed in something green, with faces washed and shoes tied, we piled in the van to run a few errands.  The fog was hanging low and the world around us looked scrubbed and ready for spring.  Upon returning home, my girls competed in a head-stand contest and I broke out my new book (The Last of the Mohicans).

My husband's day ended early and he was home before 5.  Dinner was delicious and he and I had a few minutes together while the girls tried to build Hogwarts out of popsicle sticks.

There was a pink paint disaster and there were behinds and noses to wipe.  There were a few tears, but nothing bigger than the normal sisters-learning-how-to-communicate and a three year old learning to stay dressed.  Those things are trifles.

I'm glad the request was posted on Facebook because it made me look around and appreciate my idyllic life.  No, everything is not perfect and yes, we have problems.  But, really,

I won the lottery.

Our Tin Can

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Have a Magical Day!

Funny picture my niece took of my almost 11 year old daughter.
Perspective is a funny thing, isn't it?
Thank you so much for your comments on my last post.  Today, I am busy preparing school days consisting of math pages, hard work tilling the soil and en plein air painting.  If they each bring a clip board, they can figure numbers and paint outdoors, right?  Easels are for sissies.  :)

I'm caught up on dishes and laundry.  My house is basically clean.  I have a list of items to purchase for the birthday girl whose 11th Birthday Party is tomorrow evening and time to buy them.  The sun may be sneaking around the thick bank of rain/snow clouds that has been hovering lately.  My husband only has two more days of his six week out-of-town rotation.  We have a ride for our son so he can spend Spring Break with us. (Still needs a ride back down, but we'll take what we can get!)  My sister's first grand baby is due soon, but her daughter is obediently staving off labor until Mollie can get to her.  We have some coughing, but no real sickness in the house.  My vacuum cleaner works and the old van in my driveway keeps starting.

To top it all off, I called Disneyland to make reservations at the two places we needed reservations.  The first exciting thing about that is that we are now less than 60 days away from Disneyland.  Second, that we were able to get reservations at the times and places we wanted reservations.  And, finally, because the cast member wished me a "magical day!" at the end of our call.  Now, in most circumstances, if someone wished me a magical day, I might cock my eyebrow and give them a side-long glance.  But coming from Disney?  It WORKED!  I giggled as I hung up the phone.  Then I clapped my hands and hollered at the girls to tell them that we are one step closer.  We all danced around the room for a few minutes before I called to report on the delightful news to my mother.  I think I may have been talking to Tinkerbell and I'm pretty sure she sent fairy dust through the wire.

Don't just have a great day today, have a magical one!

The Crazy MotherShip

Monday, March 12, 2012

Yard Boy

As you know, we are trying to take a trip to Disneyland to celebrate my husband's graduation from pharmacy school.  Our entire tax return was supposed to go toward paying for the trip, but we've had to dip into that account for, you know, food and stuff.  We've made finding another source of income a matter of sincere prayer and last week, that prayer was answered.

There is an incredible house at the end of the road where I grew up (and where my parents and sister still live). The lady who lives there hires teenage boys to help with yard work.

As you also know, I love gardening.  When I was trying to think of a way I could earn money, I thought of her. It took me several days to make the call.  You see, she hires teenage boys.  I had to talk myself into swallowing my pride to ask for a job usually filled by, frankly, my son (yes, he worked for her last summer).  Even after she said she would hire me, I felt kind of stupid about it.

Last week, I went to work.  It turns out, I was just who she needed.  She has had boys (unskilled labor, no matter how hard they work) doing the work for so long that her gardens are in desperate need of someone who knows what they are doing.  (I know I don't know all there is to know, but I do have a bit of experience under my belt.)  I worked Friday and Saturday clipping and pruning and raking and pulling and Sunday I couldn't move.  OK, not really, but my muscles were pretty sore from a long winter of sittin' around.

I decided I would love to be the gardener--you know, like in all of the olden day books; the crusty old man who works in the garden year-round.

Anyway, I have this new part-time job for the next two months, but I am also still home schooling these darling children of mine.  I'm going to really have to tap into my classics for ideas on how to keep school going while I am kneeling over the dirt.  Ideas so far:

  • recite times tables
  • have a spelling bee
  • listen to books on tape
  • memorize poems, scriptures and short literary passages
That's it.  That's all I've got.  My girls will be with me in the yard so we can bring some school supplies with us (like a notebook), but not a desk or encyclopedias.  And I can't take time away from my employer really sit with them to work out a problem, work on a project, or read together.

Do you have any other ideas?  

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Child with the Camera

The other day, we were all in need of spring glowers and the smell of dirt.  My sister and I gathered up our children and met at the local greenhouse.  Greenhouses, see, specialize in flowers and dirt.

My daughter begged to big in charge of preserving our digital memory.

I finally downloaded the pictures and found her perspective of the day.

Baby Oranges!
Oh, No!  She has the camera!  or maybe it was Oh, My Gosh!  She has the camera!  YES!
10 Year Old's Model Pose Interpretation
Mmmmmm.  Smells so good.  And they are as big as my head!
Can't help it.  My leg just pops up when I'm looking too closely at the flowers.
When we went outside, she found some holy ducks.

At least they looked holy because they were walking on water.

There are a few more and overall, she took some pretty great pictures.  It was fun to see the outing from her perspective.  I'm going to have to hand over the camera more often.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Although, technically, March came in like a lion, when the skies cleared, it was impossible to not love the nearly two feet of snow left behind.

The above photo is not from a calendar.  This was taken by me with my $100 point-and-shoot at the end of my driveway.

That was last week.  This week, we only have minimal snow in the shade and the left-over berms the snow plow left.  Most of our grass is clear.  We have a lot of work to do to get our garden ready for spring and even though it is still pretty cold, the sun is bright and is warming the earth.  (Parenthetically, I can't wait to see what flowers Barbara left for us in the soil.)

March is a little bi-polar, I think.  I always have been drawn to the crazy.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fairy God Sister

Yesterday, my sister commanded that I update my blog.  I wrote a very honest post about my less-than-stellar couple of days in which I mentioned my sickness due to poisoning...or due to the flu, I'm not sure which.

Two hours later, my sister showed up at my house.  Her arms were loaded down with groceries and flowers.  She hollered at me to stay in bed and then proceeded to clean my house, prepare lunch for my little girls and put dinner in the Crock Pot.  (Since my husband is working out of town this week and my son in back with his host family, there is enough left-over for dinner again tonight.)  She brought milk, eggs, fruit, and brownies in addition to the meals!  My daughter was supposed to bring treats to an activity, so Mollie helped her slice a pile of oranges.  I was pulling on jeans and a sweatshirt (sans bra) to take the girls to their activity* when Mollie volunteered to do it.  I went back to bed.

Thank you, Mollie.  You bless the life of everyone around you.

*The activity leaders needed my keys to get into the church, so I sent the keys with my daughter.  It wasn't until it was time for me to go pick up the girls that I realized I sent my keys to the church.  Not just the church key, all of my keys.  You can't drive to the church without keys to your car.  More evidence that my head wasn't really in the game yesterday.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fine. Here.

Hello, I know you are just sitting around reading a classic, while homemade deliciousness rises in the oven, getting a pedicure from an 8 year old, and hand stitching a doily for each daughter and future daughter in law and granddaughter, while soft strains of Mozart travel through the room...but, could you please update your blog. I need a distraction from Stats. ♥ Mollie

This is what my sister just posted on my Facebook wall.  Let me reassure you of reality.

Sunday night at 6 PM, I piled my five children and our dog in the car and took off to take Isaac back to his ballet teachers.  We had a brief sleep (only 4 hours for me--yes, I suppose that diesel truck needed to warm up outside my window for 30 minutes) at a cheap Priceline'd hotel and got back on the road so we could make an appointment.  We stopped at a rest stop to get everyone dressed and I discovered that I had packed the 3 year old's jeans for the 6 year old child.  Luckily, their waist is the same size so I rolled the jeans up a notch and the "capri's" looked like they were supposed to be that way.  

We dropped off the boy, got some greasy $1 burgers, visited a bit and were back on the road for our return trip.  My  youngest unbuckled her seat belt about fifty-two times.  Each time I had to pull off the freeway and slice off one of her fingers with a rusty knife re-buckle her.  At a park, this same child decided not to tell me she needed to use the bathroom, she just peeled off her pants and went in the grass--hind quarters facing the busy street behind her.  Once I saw the infraction, I ran to stop her.  When I reached her, it was made known to me that she didn't just go "number 1."  Yes.  In the grass, next to a busy street.  Good thing I had those plastic bags to clean up after my DOG.

About 300 miles from home, I became aware of the fact that I had I had been poisoned.  (Being poisoned is much more romantic than contracting the flu.)  I began shaking from chills, my entire body was aching and I suddenly needed a rest stop.  I think I used every rest stop for the rest of our drive.  I would have tried for another crappy hotel room, but in one of those rest stops, the weather station was warning of a bad snow storm threatening the mountain pass.  I decided to just make it over the pass and then I could die on the side of the road.  The pass was iffy, but I made it over fine (unlike the row of slipping and sliding 18 wheeler's).  

On the other side of the pass, the roads dried up and I knew I only had a little over an hour to get home.  The chant of The Little Engine that Could began coursing through my mind--and it continued until I pulled into my driveway.

I did only what had to be done last night--get the kids and the dog out of the car--then curled into the fetal position in my bed.

Three seed catalogs came in the mail while I was gone.  Two of them were repeats, but I've been in bed all morning staring at the pictures anyway.  Nothing is in the oven, but one daughter is eating baby corn out of the can.  The girls are entertaining themselves.  I don't know what they are playing, but I just heard one of them say, "It's my turn to get smashed!"  My dog is chewing on--and singing to--his squeaky toy.

If one only had energy to do one thing in a day, it ought to be to obey her sister, right?  So now that's done.  I think I'll open a can of baby corn and go crawl back in my bed with old magazines.  Maybe it isn't the perfect moment outlined by my sister, but, still, perfect.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Making Do

We are in financial straits...again...but my husband gets paid tomorrow so we will survive...again.  (Can I just say that I am sick. of. this. without sounding like I am complaining about my super great and very blessed life?)  This means I will be spending a lot of time in the kitchen today because cheap foods are not usually quick foods.  You have to roast, let rise, and slow-cook cheap foods.  (It also means a lot of dishes.)  Which is fine because it is another very snowy day here in the mountains.  But it also means that I am daydreaming...again.

Today, while I am chopping and kneading and washing,  I keep thinking of this photo:

I think I am in lust.

I love the arch, the inviting window at the end of the room, the stairs overhead, the separation between entry and living.  I imagine double doors on the right that lead to the library.  I imagine my computer nook tucked into the other side.  I imagine warmer colors (like Bag End) because, let's face it, white isn't going to cut it in my house.  

Bag End

It always amazes me how one picture can captivate my imagination for such a long time.  It certainly helps me get through these days of making do or doing without.