Friday, December 29, 2006

the year in review

As is usually the tradition, this year of 2006 started out with January and ended with December, with all the other months seeming to come in their places and right on time. Although the spring months are a little bit blurry on account of having a baby, so if your May came before April, let me know. It's been known to happen. But here you go, a brief run-down of the exciting, or not-so-exciting events at our house.

January- Child #2 seems to be getting over her alarming habit of pulling out her hair. I know you think your kids make you, as a parent, do this, but she literally did. It was a little tragic, as she was the child actually born with a lot of lovely blond fluff. But alas, she apparently felt the need to try and even out the score. With a newly bobbed head of hair she turned her attention to picking at her nails. They continue to this day to look awful. But as far as evidence of neurosis go, I will take biting one's nails over getting rid of one's hair a few strands at a time.

February-It's not as cold or as snowy as New York winters are predicted to be. We got one huge dump. And that actually may have been in January. Ben was deep into his second semester and I was starting to count the days to my delivery.

March- On the 29th baby boy, child #3, is born. I had no epidural. No pain relieving drugs of any kind. Just a faucet that started spewing dirt into my bathtub at the hospital. And so if anything else happened in March, they pale in comparison and will not be mentioned.

April- I don't remember. See March for explanation.

May- In a move applauded by the pediatrician and my midwives, I abandon my husband and two daughters for Mother's Day weekend and take the baby to Utah where he can meet his aunts, uncles, Grandpa, and get reaquainted with his Nana. It was a surprise and my mom screamed when I came up the stairs. Very worthwhile trip, aided by my allergy medication, since discarded because of it's overwhelming effectiveness, which kept the babe sleeping like a dream on both plane rides.

June- Hmmm. I am sure something happened in June.

July- My sister, Natalie, comes out to play nanny and do some babysitting with eastcoast rates to earn money for college for a few months. Also, after months of being a faithful DYM reader, and starting to explore the world of blogging, I decide to hop in and try it out. On July 13th, Bells on their Toes opened to critical acclaim, a Golden Globe nomination, and quickly became a finalist for the Pulitzer. Okay, not really, but that could have been fun.

August- Ben goes to Utah for three weeks for a job, so Natalie and I paint a large portion of the house. Pluto gets reassigned.

Back to a schedule: School starts again for Ben; child #1 starts pre-school. Pirates give me a chance to re-evaluate the condition of motherhood.

October- The baby rolls off the bed and breaks his leg, causing us to reflect on the perils of childhood and the, um, not-too-awesome health care system we get to participate in, being on student insurance.

November- Baby's cast is off and baby is off himself, to the races that is, figuring out crawling as soon as he possibily can and seems to catch right back up after his little detour to mobility. We are Thankful.

December- The weather is mild. Ben sprints to the finish-line writing hundreds of pages of stuff, which include his thesis (all done)! Hooray! The holiday cheer is in full-force, despite no snow, and Santa's elves send us a few little extras that make our day, and probably our year, thus making a tally of the year-end review unnecessary. We can unquivocally say, it's been a good year, Charlie Brown.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

and on to the next

Well, it's the day after Christmas, and back to normal life. The house is surprisingly clean from the festivities of yesterday. Meals were hodge-podge and kept minimal (thanks to a stealthy stomach bug that attacked Ben and me a day or two ago, and the chocolate that filled the Christmas stockings). And the toys, though they have yet to find a place of their very own, have made it upstairs to the play area, at least.

The gifts that were given were well received. Santa made it to our house fine. My oldest was worried I wouldn't get to bed in time for him to bring my presents. As she was safely in bed, her concern was no longer for herself. I got the dishes done in time, however, for Santa to deposit a new blender in front of my stocking. Thanks, Santa! I have been slowly killing my other one making fruit smoothies and it wasn't going to last much longer.

The girls wound themselves up, tired themselves out, and were a little sugar-rushed, so that the scripture reading in the evening to cap off the day was probably not as spirit-filled and meaningful and it could have been, but
it was a good, peaceful Christmas Day.

So now I'm thinking through some possible resolutions, deciding which cleaning and organization projects to tackle (I think the Mary Poppins closet could use some help- you may be able to guess what a versatile storage place it is by the name), deciding when the tree needs to come down (it's getting pretty dry) and am, all in all, in awe that this year is spinning its way out already.

Ben and baby are still asleep. Girls are upstairs playing, sort of quietly. I am going to sit beside the tree with the lights on, drink some wassail, and prepare for the new day.

Also, Happy Boxing Day.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Saturday, December 23, 2006

an open letter to Santa

In his delightful book where he reflects on Santa Claus and being Santa Claus, Tom Plummer has wonderful letters to the Jolly Old Elf from various people. In this vein I share with you my letter to Santa Claus.

Dear Santa Claus,

Greetings from New York. My Christmas list this year in some ways is very short. Really, all things considered, there is not a lot that I absolutely need and those things I want are either a little frivolous, for this Christmas anyway, or sort of beyond the realm of possibility. I'm just thankful for the season, Santa.

This year we've tried to emphasize the true meaning of Christmas with our little girls (baby boy being too young to have any idea). And we've talked about why we give gifts, and thus why we get gifts. When your three year-old gets a little stary-eyed in the toy department thinking of all the toys she'd like to have, or when your five year-old has a fit because she wants to buy a plastic phone for her sister, but insists that this sister get the same exact phone for her, you get some good opportunites for explaining.

I've tried to teach my children that like those faithful Wise Men from so long ago who travelled to bestow wonderful things on the Christ child, we give gifts to one another. But more importantly I talk about the gift that He who was once a small babe in manger has given us. And as I have thought about what you, Santa Claus, mean -you have plenty of detractors and supporters, of course- the scripture in John came to mind "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." I think that in some small way, and of course you will be uncomfortable with this, you represent our Father in Heaven.

There are no conditions in that verse as to who can receive the gift of the Savior. We like to think that Santa visits every house, regardless of geography and economic circumstance; that is part of your magic. And though as a grown-up I know that you can't visit every home and give every child a gift, I know that my Heavenly Father, whose spirit you spread over this Christmas season, can and does give everyone the best gift of all through his Son, Jesus Christ, if we will do our own small part.

We have some big changes on the horizon, Santa. You may be aware of them. They really are life changing events, and in a lot of ways, quite intimidating. But because I know that we do have a loving Father watching over us, I know that those things I can't put on my list to Santa Claus, can go on my list for my Heavenly Father. Quite frankly, there are some miracles that I am asking for. But whatever else he decides, he did already send his Son to earth, to be born in the most humble of circumstances. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and that son is the Son of God.

The weather is fairly warm, although a little wet this year, so you should have no serious problems getting here. I hope your journey is pleasant and that you get to as many houses as you possibly can. But where ever you visit, and whatever you can do, we both know that God is over all, and in the end everything will be good and right. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

master of ceremonies, celebrations, memories, and anything else generally required for a good time

So. I'm debating on a Christmas strategy for today. We have plans to go into the city and check out some of the festivites and decorations. New York City at Christmas time is supposed to be a fun place to be. Last year I got some strange looks from people when I replied negatively to having participated in these sight-seeing events. These people apparently had waited to schedule their appointment with the optometrist until the new year, because I was obviously pregnant, had two rather small children who probably wouldn't be able to go ice skating, and the weather was a little more wintery than it is today. I realize there are those NYC veterans who go anyway, but in my book pregnancy + icy weather + small children = bad combination, no matter how many twinkle lights you get to see. In other words, I have never been into the city at Christmastime.

Here's the rub. Everybody is a little bit tired and grumpy. We've had a few different holiday activites such as driving around to look at lights, eating peppermint ice cream together, and an attempted shopping trip for gifts which ended in complete meltdown. It's hard when you're under the age of say 5 -although I suspect there is really no age limit- to buy a present for your sibling without claiming it for yourself before it gets wrapped and placed under the tree. Some of these events have resulted in later-than-usual bedtimes and that is causing some problems.

Also to be taken care of is the customary trip to the store to get everything you're going to need for the big bash, only to be followed up by the customary second trip to the store to get everything you forgot to get the first time you went to the store for the big bash, and please, oh please, let there not be a third trip to the store because Christmas Eve is on a Sunday this year, so everything has to be done by Saturday at midnight.

I will confess to you that I am one who generally prefers to sit by the fire with my mug of hot cocoa beside me, Christmas music playing on the stereo, a good book or journal in my lap- you get the idea- rather than haul people out for an activity that may get us out of the house, but at great expense to our (my) levels of energy and Christmas cheer.

That said, the girls are really excited just to ride the train into New York. They love that. We won't last three blocks past Grand Central, so the outing won't be too long. Also, I have no fireplace, my hot cocoa mix is a little stale, and whatever.
My life is a constant balance between creating happy memories and preventing circuit overload. So should I ignore the absolute crazy screaming outburst my three year-old is having right now and say, hey! I think that this is going to be a fun experience! We'll see. Christmas come but once a year. And that argument can be used on both sides of the equation.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

every step I take

Blogger beta is after me! At every turn I'm getting little notes and hints and encouragements to sign in with my Google account. But I'm not to be fooled. I'ver read about those bugs. Hey, I like Google and all. I like my Gmail account, which I mostly use for transactions that could lead to spam and stuff. I like that I got $10 of when I used their special we-want-to-be-your-next-paypal when I bought some Christmas gifts online. But I'm not too jazzed about having my Google log-in my universal "Allysha is HERE!" card. And I'm just not ready to beta-up. So there, computer master-minds. Go away and come back next year, when I have time to think about you a little more.

So, do you think that Google is trying to take over the world? Sometimes I wonder.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

as the great philospher said

Have a holly, jolly Christmas!

It's the best time of the year.

I don't know if there'll be snow,

but have a cup of cheer!

Monday, December 18, 2006

way to go, mom

So yesterday at church a woman came up to me and commented on how impressed she was with my daughter's "scriptural knowledge". She had been in my daughter's class for a little while and apparently my little girl already knew most of whatever it was they were talking about.

I was about to pat myself on the back when the woman continued with this, "I told her 'Wow. You have great parents who teach you so much!'" and my daughter said "I just watch the movies."

Well. At least I bought the movies.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

sunday notes

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

Saturday, December 16, 2006

maybe we've been away too long

I just got off the phone with my grandparents. Both have taken falls lately and broken and bruised various bones. When I asked my grandma how she was feeling she said philosophically "Well, when you get to be ninety, you have some days when something isn't working quite right. Just wait till you get to be ninety!" One thing my grandma will never loose is her sense of humor. I haven't seen my grandparents since May when I flew home for Mother's Day and it's been quite a bit longer since my girls have seen them. They live in Denver, which is easily driven to from Utah, but not from New York.

I don't expect my kids to have a particularly close relationship with their great-grandparents. The age gap is rather substantial, of course (I had one great-grandma that I knew pretty well, but that was all, and I saw her on a fairly regular basis) but I do want my kids to know about them, know who they are and have some connection with them. After I hung up the phone I told the girls that Grandma and Grandpa said thank you for the card they decorated and sent. My oldest asked a few questions and then said, "Do they speak English?"
"Yes." I answered. "What else would they speak?"
"So they live in America?"

Oh. Sometimes I think it's time to go home.

Friday, December 15, 2006

got electrocution?

We have a cute little snowman lamp that we pull out at Christmas time. My girls love it. They love lamps. Despite all my instructions to the contrary, they turn the lamp on and off by themselves all of the time. Well, last night the bulb apparently burned out. Sometimes it gets inadvertently unscrewed, but that didn't seem to fix it. I instructed my children to leave the lamp alone. We'd get a new bulb for it later.

This morning however, I hear a cry from my three-year old. And then she runs to the top of the stairs. "Mom, I got hurt!" she said.
"How did you get hurt?" I asked while going about my morning pick-up routine.
"Fire came out of the lamp and got me!" Not something on the top ten sentences you want to hear as a parent.

I ran upstairs to the scent of something smoldering, smelling as only burnt plastic can smell. Yummy.
My daughter was fine. Nothing had caught on fire. The lamp went promptly into the garbage. Too bad. It really was a cute lamp. But, you know, one just can't keep fire-spitting lamps around the house when there are small children around. Especially children who are good at lamp provocation.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I'm dreaming...

It's still evading me. Last week, the one week where it was freezing cold (or below), the one week we've had this December where Mother Nature could have very easily and very practically (no magic required) sprinkled on us a little bit of Christmas cheer, she chose not to. Instead she sent us the moisture this week when the temperatures have climbed back up to the, yes, 50's. I guess I should ask, is practicality really a specialty of Mother Nature? Not this year, I guess. Rain is forcasted for the 23rd. It's giving me a chance to spray paint my kitchen chairs, but I would rather have the white stuff. It makes everything look pretty and sends New York drivers into a panic. And that's all kind of fun. (And nobody bring up the arguement that letting me paint my chairs outside is in fact more practical. I'm talking White Christmas practical here, not home improvement practical.)

Please, pretty please, in the words of a well-known song, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! It may be, however, that this year the only snow I'm going to get will be in my dreams. And then probably again in May.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas is like a spaceship

That's what my daughter said with an exclamation and a swooosh when I told her the awaited celebration was less than two weeks away. Needs no explanation, right?

Feel free to add your own Christmas metaphore or simile.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I'm thinking FBI, or the IRS

Four year-olds. Daughters. Four year-old daughters. They talk. Their favorite way of framing a sentence is with a question mark at the end. For the last few months the conversations with my oldest consist mostly of questions. Questions like: "Does the drain keep working even when nobody is using it?" or questions where the suspected answer is embedded: "Why are you driving me to pre-school because it's too far to walk?" One day in frustration I asked her "Why are you asking me questions you already know the answer to?" She didn't answer that one. And besides, I know the answer. She just wants a dialogue with me. But I think I can turn this question propensity into a money maker.

Since her interogation skills are filled with nuance and knowledge already, I'm thinking that the government could really use her. I think her never ending style of rat-a-tat questioning would wear down anyone. I think law enforcement might find her helpful, but I'm going to approach the IRS first. I think she'll be very handy in conducting audits. "Why did you deduct this business expense last year and this year when it's the same thing because you wanted to cheat the rest of the American public?" Said so matter-o-factly with no pauses in the questioning, how could anyone trying to get away with anything do something other than dumbly nod their head yes and pull out the checkbook to write a long overdue check or hold out their hands to be handcuffed.

I'm telling you, I'm going to harness this power for good. And it's going to make me a lot of money. Which will go directly to a college savings account or something. I don't want to be questioned for embezzlement of my child's funds.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

sunday notes

No quote today, just a little story about how we are taken care of in small ways. Friday I was tired. Nothing too overwhelming, really. And it kind of goes without saying when you're the mom, especially of small ones, that you will be tired. For some inexplicable reason a few times that morning I was on the verge of tears (like when Ben offered to stay a bit longer so I could go to the store to buy milk. What?).

In any case, my daughter had preschool out in the far reaches of the universe that morning so I arranged to drop her off at another fellow preschooler's house who lives at about the half way mark and her mom would take them to school and bring them back and then I'd pick her up a little later. This was a small blessing in it's self, because then the baby could actually have his entire morning nap with out having to be put down late and awoken early, which I did earlier this week with not so desirable results.

I called around 12:30 to see if they were home so I could come and pick my daughter up, but the mom said they had just run off to play upstairs so I could leave her there to play for awhile. I called back a few hours later. The fun was still continueing and my daughter could stay for another hour or so.

It's a small thing really. But I needed a more quiet day that day. And my daughter needed to spend some time at a friends house, which she loves to do, but doesn't get to that often (which is probably my fault due to a gross lack of understanding regarding the play-date system that permeates NY).

A little before 3 p.m. I put my two (!) children in the car and we went to get my daughter. My three year-old fell asleep on the way. She slept through the visit to the gas station and the drive to Target, where she woke up not grumpy (an amazing feat for this child). We had a good time looking at Christmas decorations and picking up a few things. It was dark outside when we headed home so we took a detour, looked at a few Christmas lights, and listened to Barbara Streisand's version of Jingle Bells one million times. It was a lot of fun.

I won't tell you bedtime was perfect, and that I didn't yell at all (I was still tired, is my excuse I guess). But I was grateful for a few little things someone did unknowingly on my behalf, having no idea how much it had made my day easier and better.

Saturday, December 9, 2006


We received our Christmas package from my mother-in-law, Dana, yesterday. The girls were giddy with excitement. They couldn't wait to open it. I explained that we could open the box, but the presents would remain wrapped and would go under the tree. Okay fine, mom, here are the scissors, get going.

Being the wise woman she is, Dana put in a Christmas CD as well as a bag of m&m's which sort of placated the girls' desire to rip apart every and all packages. They asked "please please, please can we open one tonight?" and were disappointed when I said no. We are waiting for Christmas to open our presents (not such a novel idea...). Christmas is in just over two weeks, I said. We would be opening them soon enough.

But really. Two weeks to a kid, especially a kid waiting for Christmas, is an eternity. It lasts so long. Even Christmas Eve day drags on at a snails pace. The dinner and Christmas program may pass by fairly fast, but's bedtime. I think every child I know has a love/hate relationship with this night of the year. Christmas is peeking around the corner. You have to get to sleep so Santa can arrive, the only night of the year in which you are trying so diligently to do what your parents ask every single other night, and you just can't quite make it into dream land. This part of Christmas has actually never, ever left me. To this day, I have the hardest time falling asleep on Christmas Eve. It's crazy.

But back to the two weeks...I have a theory. Not one that would blow Einstein out of the water, for all I know it uses his methods in some microscopic way maybe if I'm lucky. Anyway it's this: For a child who has only lived 4 years, as opposed to my 30 or so years, the percentage of life taken up by two weeks is much bigger, so it technically takes longer for them to get to Christmas Day than it takes me. What do you think?

At any rate, I've put the presents under the tree, but sort of behind the tree as well. Kind of an out-of-sight, out-of-mind thing. And hopefully we'll all survive the light years that are these next two weeks until the coming of Christmas Morn!

Thursday, December 7, 2006

weather report

It's kind of amazing that these days we can turn on the computer, go to a website, type in our zip code and presto! the weather report for our town. It's easy, handy, not always right (what weather report ever has been), and I use it all the time. But I think it's time to bump technology up a notch.

I want a weather report for my kids. It would really help me out. I'd get up in the morning, type in their names and get a read-out something like this:

Fair to partly cloudy in the morning with a chance of whining, clearing up by the afternoon. Sunny smiles
with minor scattered squabbling until bedtime when a little poutiness will blow in, but an early bedtime with a story will take care of that!


Watch out today, folks! We have a possible storm brewing on the horizon due to a late bedtime last night and it doesn't look pretty. Take the necessary precautions and don't forget to put on your patience if you decide to undertake any project more difficult than say, getting dressed. Things may be aggravated by some sibling rivalry and jealousy, but could be averted if some kindly words, love, and cookies blow in ahead of the cold front.

See how useful this would be? Actually it would be handy to check anybody's mood, and I'm sure my kids would love a weather report for me as well. Heck, I'd be happy to have a weather report for myself (it could be a tricky day, with some hormones rolling in. Chocolate should remedy any urge to cry or scream...). So someone out there, more advanced than I, get to work. I'll let you try it out on my kids and we'll split the profits 50/50. Deal?

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

seems suspect to me

I think the whole "Grandma got ran over by a reindeer" is a set-up. Someone was after her money. Or at least her Christmas presents. I hate to be the one to suggest it, but the evidence it there. Who in their right mind is going to send Grandma home alone to get her medication? Not just the book she was reading, but her medication? Especially when she'd had too much eggnog. Really. Any decent person would offer to run grab the pills themselves or at least drive her home. Foul-play? I'm afraid it just might be...

Monday, December 4, 2006

do I smell funny or something?

You can always tell when you're being avoided. You know, you get promises for them to come over, to call you sometime soon, that they'd really really love to talk again. But then- nothing. And if you happen to run into them briefly, they sort of look sideways, wave quickly, and become more deeply engaged in pondering the lemons they are picking out in the produce section of your grocery store.

Well, I'm being avoided. By the first dang snowfall of the season. It has said it's coming. We've been anticipating it all weekend. Even yesterday afternoon when I checked the weather report, instead of snow and rain, it just said snow! And I thought, ah, for sure winter is on it's way! And I was happy. But then, later that evening when I checked in, just to make sure I knew the time of arrival for my guest, just so I could have the scarves and gloves ready to go, the snow had vanished from the radar. It was gone! Leaving a only few whispy clouds in its wake. It's not even showing up on the 10 day forcast.

So, maybe there was a family emergency, or something came up at work and so the snow had to take a little detour to the North or something. I understand that things come up. But come on. It's December for crying' out loud. Anyway, I'm going to brush my teeth really well, and send a little message out; come on, snow! We're waiting for you. And if not, could you at least drop a line to let me know that it's you, and not me? Thank you. If you can't come and dump three or four inches around my house, then a little common courtesy is all I ask for.

Friday, December 1, 2006

welcome, december!

There is something nice about turning the page on your calendar. It's a little thing I look forward to at the end of every month. It's a change that is consistent. Going from November to December, however, is my very favorite. I can't believe we're in the last month of the year. Funny how fast things move, how quickly time flies.

We got our tree today. I've just strung up the white lights and Ben is now tinkering with the small section that isn't working. (I did test them before I plugged them in, and they worked then!) So hopefully we'll get those working. Oh wait. Now they're working. (Thanks, Ben.) So now onto the garland and the beads. Then we'll call the girls down from watching Blue's Clues. They were down here as we brought the tree in and were so excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!! about getting all of the ornaments out that something or someone was going to die before we could actually put them on, so I sent them upstairs for a T.V. break. Whew!

It's not too cold, but it's very rainy and blustery. We're expecting a big wind storm (will it be a tormato storm? the girls ask. Hopefully not). So while there is no snow yet, it does feel a little wintery if you just look outside without actually going out.

Mannheim Steamroller, Amy Grant and Harry Connick, Jr. will play on the stereo. We'll have some peanut m&m's with some sprite, let the girls load on the ornaments in a 2 x 3 horizontal swath on the tree and then re-decorate when they go up to bed. Gotta love those traditions.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

can I just insert a toothpick?

Apparently lemon bars are done when the center doesn't jiggle when shaken. I ask you, when does a hot gelatinous substance not jiggle?


"What's going on up there?" I called, after already having threatened that the movie would be turned off if they felt inclined to continue fighting during the show.
"We're not fighting, Mom" came the reply.
"We're just bugging each other!" said the other one.

neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor dead of night

I was summoned at 6:30 a.m. to kill a mysterious bug upstairs. When I got up there it was gone, but the girls, both sitting on top of their little table, soon saw it moving towards the rug. A nice hairy centipede. Or maybe milipede. I empty out the trash can by turning it upside down, littering the contents onto the floor and put it over the ugly, helpless bug. I went down stairs, with baby in arms and grabbed the vacuum. There is nothing quite like the feeling of defending the world against many-legged creatures with a vacuum at the first light of dawn. Or even before the first light.

(By the way, if you're wondering if the household bug killing naturally falls to me I'll let you know that it does not. Ben is teaching early morning Seminary though-kind of like a daily sunday school for high schoolers- and so he was not at home. Alas, the task was left to me.)

Monday, November 27, 2006

allysha 101

In the spirit of something I've read out there in the blogosphere about reaching your 100th post, and with the narcissism blogging affords us, I give you this: my 101st post (since yesterday was my 100th) with 101 things about me (everything you've always wanted to know...)

1. I prefer odd numbers to even.
2. Which is why I am doing this on my 101st post.
3. I like baths with or w/out bubbles.
4. I am the oldest of 11 kids.
5. That's 6 sisters,
6. and 4 brothers.
7. I am a BYU football fan, even when we don't do well.
8. I am an eternal optimist of goodness and morality
9. Which may explain why I'm disappointed when "Hollywood" couples break up.
10. I guess I am an idealist, but I'm a practical idealist.
11. Christmas is my favorite holiday.
12. W.S. Merwin is my favorite poet.
13. Occassionally I make the attempt to write poems myself.
14. The health care situtation in our country angers me.
15. I'd like to help start a non-profit org someday.
16. I have a gift of perspective.
17. But when I want to feel frustrated about something, it doesn't always seem like a nice gift.
18. On Thanksgiving I try to make a list of all my blessings.
19. Some of those things include good pens & paper.
20. I didn't get around to it this year.
21. I'm a sucker for nice blank notebooks.
22. I have a blank moleskine sitting in my drawer.
23. I don't know what to write in it.
24. Fall is my favorite season.
25. I love Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G Minor.
26. I own 6 seasons of The West Wing.
27. And I'm embarrassed by it.
28. Jane Austen is a favorite author.
29. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury is a must read.
30. For awhile I majored in Modern Dance at BYU
31. My favorite ballet is Swan Lake.
32. Two works of art that have literally overwhelmed me when I saw them are:
33. St. Peter's Basilica and Michelangelo's Moses.
34. Some day I will blog about Moses.
35. In my small travels I have learned that Paris is old
36. but Rome is ancient.
37. I'd like to be an ex-pat for awhile.
38. I like Irish accents.
39. When Ben & I were first married we'd talk in accents
40. or sing like we were living in a small operetta.
41. Is that odd?
42. I love words.
43. And forming complicated sentences. (Yes, sigh. I also like to diagram sentences.)
44. I'd like to get a Masters Degree someday
45. in writing,
46. or art,
47. or more generally, Humanities.
48. I think Ophelia had too many obnoxious men in her life.
49. I am always making plans to get back to Paris and Rome.
50. Someday it will happen.
51. I'm a White, for you color-code personality types.
52. I have one yellow trait and it's negative.
53. Most of my in-laws have tons of yellow, but we still like eachother.
54. According to the IQ test on I am a "Visionary Philosopher."
55. So is Ben.
56. It took him about 1/4 of the time for him to complete the test.
57. I'm two years older than Ben.
58. I don't watch T.V.
59. Ben once refered to our movie collection as "puritan."
60. And it is.
61. Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" rips my heart out.
62. I love the trees in New York.
63. But sometimes they make me feel claustrophobic.
64. I am not a naturally good mother
65. but my kids are teaching me.
66. I took up painting a few years ago,
67. but these days I don't get to it very often.
68. I changed a dresser into a a desk (you know, saw, sander, paint, etc.)
69. Chris Botti's Christmas album December is superb.
70. I played the flute for 3 years in Jr. High.
71. I can still remember the B flat scale.
72. Boy am I glad not to be in Jr. High anymore.
73. I don't really like "traditional birthday cake"
74. unless it's white cake w/ chocolate frosting.
75. I don't really like to cook,
76. although I'm not horrible at it.
77. I have issues with Disney movies.
78. My prefered dressing is ranch,
79. unless there's a caesar salad around.
80. I boycott certain brands, stores, and products
81. on matters of principle.
82. Desserts with caramel and hot fudge are the best.
83. I like to organize,
84. though I'm not terribly brilliant at it.
85. I'm a good editor.
86. I like to play the piano,
87. but am a horrid accompanyist.
88. Politics interest me,
89. but I would never run for office.
90. I can listen to the same song over and over
91. if it's a good song.
92. And So It Goes by Billy Joel is one of those songs.
93. I can be lazy
94. and unmotivated.
95. And I often am.
96. I like cats.
97. I realize more and more that I am not too fond of dogs.
98. I have Merriam-Webster bookmarked
99. so that I can quickly double check my spelling on words like "realize."
100. I really am unbelievably blessed.
101. And I thank you for reading my silly blog.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

sunday notes

The last function of reason is to recognize that there are an infinity of things which surpass it.

~Blaise Pascal

Friday, November 24, 2006

lived to tell

We got up before the sun. We faced down the crowds. We hunted through the aisles, searched the shelves and culled the bargains. And were polite at the same time. Yes, Ben and I each participated in a small way in this Black Friday thing. But actually, neither one of us was at the door when the stores opened. Ben went out around 7 a.m. and when he came home I left to check out some stuff I'd seen on the internet and wanted to check price and quality. Turns out the www was a better deal for what I was looking for, so I came home and shopped online. There were crowds, but not overwhelming. The worst was not having a shopping cart and frankly, that made things easier. I wasn't too impressed by the bargains over all. I mean I did get some good deals for Christmas, but actually the best thing was getting the Star Wars DVDs IV, V, & VI for 10 bucks each in their original un-1990s-retechnologized state (sorry George Lucas, Henry James maybe pulled off a "redo," but you did not. Actually doesn't Mr. Lucas remind you of an ewok?), so that was fun. Anyway, to all of you die-hard shoppers out there: May the day be productive, not too tiring, may you get the bargains you were looking for, and maybe some good surprises you weren't expecting, and may the force be with you.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

happy thanksgiving

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with
thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Psalms 100:1 - 5

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

bookended by insanity

Thanksgiving is sort of a holiday pushed aside. Snubbed by most but the grocery industry, and sandwiched between Halloween (buy these costumes! buy these costumes! don't forget the candy!) and Christmas (buy everything! buy everything! more than you can possibly afford!), Thanksgiving isn't really a darling of the commercial arena. Which is actually okay. Thank goodness for a holiday that isn't too marketable. However, Thanksgiving has been nudged into the position marking that, indeed, The Holidays are upon us.

I headed out this morning to pick up last minute things I need for the grand dinner tomorrow. You know, minor things, like the turkey. I was early enough that the lines haven't been too long. But I can feel the cashiers bracing. It's gonna be a long day ringing up the produce at the checkout counter. We will rush, rush, rush today to get ready (pre-cook those yams, make the pies tonight!), and then at a certain time tomorrow (probably at least 2 hours later than initially planned, darned turkey) everyone will sit down to gorge themselves, think of their blessings, and hopefully take a long nap. (After helping mom do the dishes, right? You nice people, you.)

But come Friday we'll be right back at it, and early too, to take advantage of what is apparently called "Black Friday" (aptly named for many reasons). Rush, rush, to the Christmas deals. I think the Italians really ought to start pushing pasta as a Thanksgiving meal of choice. You gotta carb up for the race and wrestle in the Target line tomorrow, folks! Forget the turkey! How about some nice turkey lasanga!

In anycase, between the rushing around, I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Despite the chaos of life imposed or invited, take some time to sit down and count your blessings. Good. Now, get out there and get your turkey!

Monday, November 20, 2006

let the wild rumpus start!

Pre-holiday cleaning has begun. We'll do what we can before Thursday. Then one more sweep through next week in preparation for decorations that will be going up. Hooray!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

sunday notes

That which holds our attention determines our actions.

William James

Saturday, November 18, 2006

eat this instead

After many tears shed this morning for various reasons the girls and I retired to the kitchen to make some chocolate chip cookies, a good remedy for many things, cranky children and impatient mother alike. As I was beating together the ingredients one of them said to me with anticipation "Is it time for a licking yet?"

Well, hopefully we won't reach that point, but the dough will be ready for tasting as soon as I stir in the flour.

Friday, November 17, 2006

shots all around

I hauled all of the kids to the pediatrician yesterday for flu shots. I'd been prepping the girls all week. I even gave them a quick pinch on their arms and told them it would feel kind of like that. They saw Ben and I get our shots a few weeks ago. We proudly showed off our band-aids and assured them that they, too, would soon be able to participate in the (almost) yearly ritual.

The baby cried for just a minute but because I was holding him, he calmed down quickly. My oldest went next. She felt the sting, stood there for a second and then burst into tears. Next up, the newly minted three year-old, who shook her head. The doctor was quick though, and deftly jabbed the needle into her arm. She then just sat there with her eyebrows furrowed, looking like she might growl at everyone.

Back in the car I congratulated the girls on their bravery. The oldest declined this complement saying she had cried. I conceded that this was true, but pointed out she was inclined to cry about a lot of things (she is my most emotional and dramatic child). And it was brave just to get the shot. The growler spoke up from the back, not caring about the bravery of the event. Her comment explained her reaction perfectly. "I was mad that I got a flu shot."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

in which I attempt to be festive and domestic

The scent of pumpkin spices were in my head. (I'm ready for Thanksgiving and everything else!) It was also gray and depressing outside. Also they've been playing Christmas songs at my daughter's preschool and she was telling me which ones she liked. I am not normally one who listens to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, but I gave in to the pressure being exerted by the blogosphere at large and pulled out the carols. I'd been listening to Harry Connick Jr. so I switched Redlight Bluelight to his first Christmas album and watched the kids get excited to hear Sleigh Ride! Inspired, I went into the kitchen and filled up a pan with warm water, threw in some cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, whole cloves and an orange sliced into circles and turned on the stove. Take that! gray, depressing day!

The festive part was done, and bubbling happily along. So I decided, since the kitchen for once was clean that I would attempt that pumpkin roll I've wanted to make since last year. And easy slide from festive to domestic, yes?

I looked at the ingredients. I had them all. It seemed doable. I didn't read the directions. Hmmm. I started pulling out everything I'd need. I like to do that when I bake, and then put away what I've just used. I realized I didn't have enough powdered sugar. Fortunately the wonderful Lindsey rescued me by letting me have her new bag. (Thanks.) I greased and floured the pan. Then I realized it might be a little bigger than what was called for. I pulled out my handy-dandy tape measure. (Yes, I keep a small tape measure around for occassions such as this.) It was too big. I pulled out my pan of the right size, but it's an airbake pan and I've never had success with it. Also it's a pain to wash. But in the spirit of following the recipe I decided I should use it. I washed off the other pan (see how efficient and clean I am?) and then greased and floured the airbake. Then I started making the batter. Which required me to whip egg yolks for five minutes (I only have a hand mixer) and then to beat egg whites (which I had some trouble getting. An egg separation expert I am not) while having my oldest entertain the baby who had just decided to wake up from his nap. It took forever for the egg whites to stiffen. When they did, barely, I dumped them into the mixture, all the while narrating this post in my mind. I knew it would have a happy ending and that the pumpkin roll would be divine. Yum. I might dare to take a few slices to Lindsey, cook extraordinaire.

But who knew that something with so many egg whites doesn't spread its self more evenly like a cake does when exposed to heat? That all the little reels and hills would set, making it an unsmooth surface. In my limited baking experience and rush to get to the baby, I did not. Oh well. Onto the cream cheese frosting. Whose powdered sugar I didn't sift. So it ended up with a little bit more sugar than necessary. Gritty cream cheese frosting. Ummmm! But it was the pan that damned me. I went to turn the pan over onto the sugar powdered dish towel. The two ends came off, one end in half. The middle bottom, barely underbaked, did not. It stuck. And I knew that I should have gone with my first instincts - the slightly larger, and more reliable pan. I'd had it. I banged on the back of the pan to no avail. My daughter looked at me with wide eyes. I looked at the previously clean kitchen and vowed never to bake again until a) I have some space b) I have some cooking equipment and c) something else, maybe hell freezing over.

I took the top third of the roll that had survived and rolled it up, let it cool, unrolled and filled it with frosting, rolled it back up and stuck it into the freezer. When Ben got home we tried it. He liked it, blessed man. I could taste the over-abundance of powdered sugar and was again disappointed. The remaining pumpkin part wasn't too bad actually. But live and learn, huh? When I make this again in ten years, it will surely be a better experience.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

health and beauty

So, Costco got in some special new kind of Aquafresh. The tube looks like a spaceship, all silvery shiney. It's an "extreme clean mint whitening experience." (Their words, not mine). Ben actually called me from Costco to make sure he should get this kind, knowing the special relationship I have with my toothpaste. But it was the only Aquafresh there. And it was still the cheapest.

I also bought some new facial scrub. It has those little microbeads in it. It seems to work well, although the other day I was debating if it is unearthing little facial blemishes, or causing them...the jury is out for now.

Here is the weird thing about these two products, which I started using on the same day, so maybe it's just me and my senses are totally out of wack. The toothpaste tastes and feels like I'm brushing my teeth with Halls mentholatum cough drops. Which is nice if you're a little congested, which I was, and it cleared me right up for a bit! But it's a little overwhelming in the early morning. It also isn't great as a sleep inducer at night. I sure feel like my teeth are clean though! And clean sinuses too! But moving on. The facewash smells exactly like the environmentally safe paint stripper I used a few years ago when redoing some furniture. Seriously. Exactly the same.

I'm brushing my teeth with cough drops and washing my face with paint stripper. Which may explain those blemishes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

baby blogging

My sister, Stephanie, is due to have her first baby any day. Actually she was due last Thursday, but since those of you who've had babies know about that, we won't dwell on the pure mental exhaustion of going over your due date, not to mention the extreme physical exhaustion and uncomfortabilities and such, for her sake. We'll just nod our heads sympathetically and say "yeah, it sucks."

I'm excited for many a reason. Finally someone from my family will join me in this crazy club of motherhood. We've had some good bonding chats about "stuff" already. It will only get better. Also she's having a boy, so our little boys can grow up together and be buddies! Except that Steph and her husband will probably have children who will easily play in the NBA. Long-limbed tow-heads who enjoy every athletic challenge. And my kids will not. Play in the NBA. Both Ben and I have plenty of natural rhythm. And that could translate into sports, but we may be raising those more of a height for, say, soccer and not basketball. So these boys could be physical opposites. But I'm sure they'll love each other anyway.

So, my dad is out of town, having a jolly time (I'm guessing, despite the jetlag and quick-paced schedule) holding meetings in Denmark, the Ukraine, Germany and France (I am jealous). The plan was that Steph deliver about a week early so that my dad could be there to see the new babe. I even sent a few prayers over in that direction. I think my prayers must have been slightly circumvented but have now arrived and kicked in. My dad is due back at the end of this week. And I won't be surprized if the baby decides to accommodate his grandpa. Just not in the way we were hoping. And that tells you what kind of kid Steph's getting! A pleaser, after his own fashion.

Monday, November 13, 2006

here today

I've always enjoyed remembering the good ol' times and anticipated with the best of them the events on the horizon. I like having things to look forward to. I think that nostalgia and anticipation are important parts of life. I know there have been times where a lot of my time was spent wandering through journal entries, real or the ones filed away in my mind's memory box, or just counting down the days until a certain occasion arrived. Not always the best use of a day, I admit.

It's good to learn how to be in the now. How to enjoy the little moments. Or the big moments. Having a family, I have to say, has grounded me, and made me see the importance of these things. But that doesn't mean past and future have gone out the window. Oh no. So while I am very aware that I am here. Right now. In this very present place. With the very present bed waiting to be made... There are a few things I am looking forward to and they are making today a little bit sweeter.

- The birth of my nephew
- Sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving
- The first good snow fall
- Decorating the Christmas tree
- Ben finishing his thesis
- Christmas carols
- Wassail
- More Christmas stuff, but I won't go into detail (see a pattern here?)...
- A really good banana peach smoothie that I hope won't break my blender (it's not a very sturdy blender)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

sunday notes

Every noble work is at first impossible.

-Thomas Carlyle

Thursday, November 9, 2006

get out the confetti!

I'm getting sick, so I should be in bed but I just finished decorating. The night before birthdays at our house I pull out the crepe paper and some balloons. If I've done all the shopping, am feeling ambitious, or if there is a BYU football game going on that I need to listen to, I'll stay up and wrap the presents as well. It's a fun little tradition that we all look forward to.

My two year-old is turning three. Hooray! I don't know that the antics of that lovely age will immediately disappear tonight at midnight (besides she was born in the evening) but I do like three year-olds and am excited to have another one. This is the child who was speaking in sentences at 19 months, who loves to dance, who idolizes her older sister, but not enough to give into her demands all of the time or even most of the time. Her language development seems to have detracted from other areas. She is the most scatter-brained child I know. It's so funny. Last year we were having an ice cream cone at McDonalds and she started looking for her's frantically because she couldn't find it. Ben pointed out to her that she was still holding it. She is very polite and always says thank you, even if she's just thrown a tantrum. She my blue-eyed blond and I love her.

Peace. Or, I'm two years old...

But I'm turing three.

Happy Birthday Bella-babe!

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

weather report

Today is going to be a rainy, rainy day. While we probably won't get quite the same results as some, they are forcasting a chance for flooding. That said, it seems to me New York tends to be over-sensitive to the weather. So while it might be severe I have a sneaking suspicion that if these weather conditions were moved over to another state, the people there would do just fine. Also we live up on a hill and are adequately stocked with food provisions.

I think I am going to take advantage of this weather and do a quick clean up around the house (ignoring my bedroom, which could probably stand to be flooded out, but the baby is napping in there right now, so no cleaning, and probably no flooding either, please) and then we are going to keep it low key. Books and stories, maybe a movie and some popcorn with the kids, maybe a nice bath for mom, or better yet, a nice little nap on the couch. Perhaps some cookies will get made. Or at least the cookie dough (I am a sucker for cookie dough).

Well, that sounds probably a little too picturesque. Really I will try to get things picked up while negotiating fights about Polly Pocket dolls, debate whether or not I really want to stick the girls in front of a movie because that often makes them more grumpy at which point I will put them in the bath so they can play in a confined space (water always makes kids happier) while I carry around the baby who has a cold and a hard time napping and get my shower in once they've gone to bed. The cookie dough is maybe the only reality here. But it's a dang good reality!

Happy Wednesday, everybody!

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

season 4, episode 6: Election Night

This evening in honor of Election Day I think I may watch Jed Bartlet get re-elected to a second term. This doesn't necessarily reflect my views or wishes of what will happen as the real ballots are counted tonight. I'm actually not sure what I hope will happen. I mean, sad to say, both parties seem more intent on getting and keeping power than actually doing something. And as a definite Independent, I'm not saying that I would without question vote for the man, should he really be running. Unless we were voting on coolness of staff. In any case, if he was still on television I'd watch.

P.S. If I wanted to be more election specific, season 2 episode 3: The Midterms would probably be more appropriate, but not as fun (presidential elections are always more fun. That said, this particular election going on right now, is pretty dang interesting), because nothing changes. Everybody gets to say "God Bless America" though. But either way, I say "God Bless America."

Monday, November 6, 2006

monday, monday

I remember distinctly thinking on Sunday when I posted that I had something good to say for today. But what that thought was and where it went only the wind and the moon doth know. And neither of them are telling me. It was probably profound, and even life-changing for a few of you, and for that I apologize. But I think you'll manage alright. You are all capable people.

But as far as a subject for a post? Well. The baby did get his cast off today! I called the doctor to ask if I could (gasp!) take it off myself because he had been doing legs lifts with both legs, a sure sign, I thought, that the fractured femur was healed. She said I could come in and she would look at it, just to make sure. So we did, and he did and now I don't have to go to another appointment Wednesday morning! Hooray! The poor guy didn't get much of a chance to nap today though, so the sweetheart is conked out in a deep and castless sleep.

And we drove out to the Newark Airport to visit with my dad who had a 12 hour layover on his way to Denmark. The girls were so excited to see Grandpa! They saw him through the glass doors of the hotel and ran right in and up to him to get a big hug. It was a sweet reunion. I noticed several of the employees looking over and smiling. We all had lunch (lunch at a hotel is such a rip-off. I mean, decent food, but the hamburger was not worth $12) and some nice to time to chat. It was nice to see my dad.

So there you go. My Monday in a nutshell. Oh, I also got the girls' room picked up. And maybe my profundities will be back tomorrow.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

sunday notes

...the pedigree of your spirit can be written on a single line. You are a child of God.

-Boyd K. Packer

Friday, November 3, 2006

mourn with me for a moment, will you?

If the time must change, then it must. I guess. I used to be a big fan of the October switch, giving me an hour longer to sleep in, but no more. My kids are grumpy from staying up later and getting up at the same time, which is now officially "earlier". So I've "moved" their bedtime back by a 1/2 hour. It's a compromise until the sun starts getting up a little later in the morning, because he is the reason, along with their already programed bodies that they are now getting up cheerfully at 6 a.m. and not 7. So really they are going to bed about the same time as before. I just have more time in the evenings to myself. And less time in the morning to sleep in.

BUT. The real tradegy is this: I've lost an hour of sunlight. Which didn't bother me in Utah because I was on the end of a time zone. But here in New York I'm at the brand spankin' beginning and so the sun is setting way. too. early. Sunset today is at 4:49 p.m. Yes. 4:49, people!!!! It gets worse, of course, and it drives me crazy. Look, I realize that there are people who live in portions of the world where it gets dark and stays that way for about 6 months. Believe me, they have my deepest sympathies. Also those who live on the most easterly part of Maine, because they loose a lot of light as well. More than we do. But I'm just saying. It's a good thing Christmas comes at the darkest part of the year because I don't think I would survive without the extra lighting.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

let your light so shine

My mother is an amazing person who is literally wearing out her life in the service of the Lord, her family, and her fellowman. She is someone who knows the meaning of sacrifice, and if she has been afraid of it, she has gone ahead and sacrificed anyway. She is truly a woman of God. Following the example of the Savior she has carried many burdens on others' behalf. Her light does cause those in her path to glorify their Father in Heaven. If I have any hope of being like her I will strive for it. For now, I will walk behind her, learn at her feet and hope some of her faith and goodness rub off on me, or that it's some how genetic. She will probably be embarrassed that I wrote this, but I wanted to pay her a small tribute in this way.

just call me oscar

When I get tired, really tired, I am not a happy person to be around. Especially if you happen to be my child. My buttons are most easily exposed and pushed by my children in this unhappy state. The night before Halloween I was up with some vicious stomach bug intent on evacuating anything in my body that wasn't anchored down. And I haven't completely recovered. I have managed to eat a few things but not enough to keep up with a nursing baby and the kids. So yesterday I was a grump. Actually I was down right jerky. Really. A complete jerk at times, to my children. This always seems to happen when I am actually trying to make a conscious effort to be a kind and loving mother. Not that I always get sick, but something completely derails me and I am left feeling like my best efforts are kind of a joke and my poor children and consigned to a life with a sub-par mother.

On top of this I am, of course, hosting preschool this week. Today is my final day. Thank goodness. I'm surprised I made it through Tuesday, which was, Halloween, which was the day after the night of sickness. And the kids were a little crazy hyper because it was Halloween. But also, we had some fun because, again, it was Halloween. Not that I haven't had any fun doing this. I have. But you know, it takes some energy. Anyway, I managed to pull together a lesson last night after putting the kids to bed at 6:30. And I am really hoping that everyone shows up late today. And please, when you do arrive a bit tardy with your child in tow, please don't apologize. I may be inclined to say sweetly "I actually prefer it when every one shows up late." And if I do say that, just know, that I am not being sarcastic and also, it's nothing personal. I'm being completely honest and it's because I am a little bit tired.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

halloween: oddities of the evening

Church bells ringing out "We Thank Thee All Our God" as we started our Trick-or-Treating. I enjoyed it.

Someone handed out candy canes? The girls were excited.

A small skeleton in a cage singing "Bad to the Bone." The girls were scared silly.

We brought home enough candy to feed a small army. We went up and down one street. People are suckers for little girls in princess costumes. If we ever move back to Utah, it's going to be a rude awakening.

I thought I had about 10 more years

My sweet four year-old has just informed me that she hates me. "I hate you, Mom!" I got it twice for suggesting that a) calling your sister a "bad girl" for not doing what you like and b) throwing chess pieces at your mom and baby brother may be grounds for no Trick-or-Treating. I laughed at her the first time. And sent her upstairs the second time.

So now I go up to discuss with my dear what exactly she is saying when she says those things, and to prompty forgive her and send her on her way for a Halloween candy extravaganza.

Monday, October 30, 2006

yes, I did.

I ate our bag of Halloween candy. The entire bag! It was a small bag. Really, quite small. We only get about 5 trick-or-treaters here (if that), which was why I was able to rationalize a little candybar here, a little candybar there. And then, they were gone! I know for a fact that Ben helped me out in the beginning. And I'm really hoping he helped me out there at the end, too. But I'm not holding my breath. I am going to do some sit-ups. And try to ignore the new bag of Halloween candy sitting on my table. Maybe.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

to every thing there is a season

It had been a chilly few days. The temperature had taken it's first dip toward cold permanence for the season but the landlady had not yet turned on the radiators. It's torture to be at someone's mercy for your heating and comfort needs! On the third day I was tired, bundled up in a blanket, and curled up on the couch after a completely unproductive day. Ben arrived home to find me in my comatose state. But not too comatose. I was awake and alive enough to suggest we go out to dinner. And not just for a Happy Meal. It must have been my tone of voice but he didn't even question. We rounded up the children and headed off to the Outback, where I could fill up on warm soup and steak, and thus make it through the cold spell.

As a general rule going to restaurants has not been really jolly experiences since we've had kids. They cry. They don't want to sit at the table, prefering to roam around yelling loudly as to enhance the other diners' eating pleasure. They don't eat the food, even though they are hungry. This, coupled with a desire to a) save money, and b) eat healthy, means we hardly ever go out to eat.

But this meal was different. The girls, pleased with their special placemats and crayons, were happy to color the evening away. They also ate their food. After a trip out to the car so I could feed the baby he promptly fell asleep for the remainder of the meal. We actually had a pleasant time. So pleasant that I didn't even regret it when the bill came, which I often do, mentally calculating the groceries I could/should have bought. The entire event was worth it.

I looked at the girls, calculated their ages, calculated the baby's age and said to Ben, "This was fun. We should do it again in another 2 1/2 years."

Thursday, October 26, 2006


W.S. Merwin is an amazing, remarkable poet. He hardly needs my endorsement, but I give it anyway. In other news, I've been speed reading The Lord of the Rings this past week. Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? Speed reading through that Tolkienien forest of words,full and dense. It sounds easier to run through a brick wall. And yet, I have been speed reading LOTR. I can do this for several reasons: I have read the books multiple times. I've always been a fast reader. I am named after Arwen Undomiel. (That's the middle name, for those of you trying to figure out how allysha=arwen). I like to think I go around looking like I have stars and jewels about my face and in my hair. My sister is named after the lovely land of Lothlorien. I am not married, however, to Aragorn, but to Ben. Ben might be a Ranger, though. I'll have to ask him. But I digress.

When I read the books I am reminded of a part in the movie that I was so disappointed in. Granted, when a book is adapted for the screen, there are going to be adjustments. I understand this. I got over the expanded role of Arwen. I could forbear the slight personality change of Faramir for the sake of pace. Some character traits demand more time than the movie could allow for, thus a slight story change (although this change does fall under the catagory of what I want to discuss). But. But at the end...

Of all the wonderful friendships and loyalties written down, that of Frodo and Sam is among the most touching. So at the end, when the movie plot takes Frodo and through Gollum pits him against Sam, even for just a moment, I was quite sad. Even the light from Galadriel's phial wasn't quite bright or even used enough. Which brings me back to Merwin (yes, yes, I mentioned him for a reason). He has a remarkable poem. It sums up the reason for why a scene was portrayed like it was, and not as things are in the book.
(Merwin often requires that you let your literal mind float for a moment. But you'll get the feeling of it.)

When the pain of the world finds words
they sound like joy
and often we follow them
with our feet of earth
and learn them by heart
but when the joy of the world finds words
they are painful
and often we turn away
with our hands of water.

Tolkien writes a beautiful moment where, exhausted, the hobbits have fallen asleep. Gollum has been sneaking around Mordor and comes back to lead Frodo and Sam up the staircase which he hopes will be their doom. But as he approaches them, and sees them asleep, Frodo leaning on Sam, he pauses for a moment. Gollum reaches out to touch them, almost a caress, as if he remembers for a moment about what his life once was, about friendship and love and companionship.

Instead of capturing that goodness that radiates out even to Gollum, the movie uses a brief betrayal to heighten suspense and bring the drama. I know, it's not like they threw the relationship out the window. They didn't. They just didn't make it as good as it really was. I think that what they didn't understand is that you don't need any more drama. Frodo is on his way to
Mount Doom, for heaven's sake. He doesn't actually think he will make it. He is accompanied by Sam. Sam doesn't think that they'll make it either. And they wouldn't have, without each other. They must push through the darkness, the heaviness. And in the end Sam literally carries Frodo when the ring becomes too much to bear, because letting Sam carry the ring would have destroyed Frodo.

But I don't know that there are many people who really know how to portray good that is really
good, anymore. I'm sure it can be done. If Tolkien did it, I'm not sure why Peter Jackson couldn't. But I'm not sure that our world understands that there can be that kind of good in someone that doesn't require an internal juxtaposition of some evil or petty flaw. Overcome by our own shortcomings, flaws and sins, we fail to understand how a person can indeed move past, can be lifted to a higher place. Or we fail to understand just how to communicate it in a way that resonates with others. We have become so used to the ordinary, that the extraordinary seems either trite and silly, or simply unreal or unreachable.

Maybe because what is good requires work. It requires sacrifice. Merwin's poem often reminds me of marriage, children, dedication to and faith in God. More and more people are shying away from a commited marriage, from having children because of the constraints on their time, their money, their leisure. They move away from the idea of a Heavenly Father because they won't let their faith hold them up when it doesn't make sense from their perspective. They may understand the frustrations that come with these things. They may understand the fatigue and disappointments. There are many areas of life where the difficulties are universal. But they will never understand the joy that comes in these pursuits, because you can't experience it unless you experience it.

Don't underestimate the good. Not your own capacity for it, nor the capacity of others. Don't feel naive or unsophisticated looking for it, expecting it, and showing it to others. Because even in this silly, sullied world of ours, real good exists. Though it may cost you something, though the journey to it may appear to be too difficult, ultimately it's worth it. Just like Frodo and Sam working their way to Mount Doom, we all have our phial of light, and that light is something good. Let's find it, instead of turning away with our hands of water.

one more time, for the record!

We passed the 1000 mark! 1029 to be exact. Amazing what people can do when they put their minds to it. And all in the same time span as the last counting period!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

one down, three more to go

I am hosting preschool this week for our small preschool co-op. My oldest was so definitely ready for something but New York expenses being what they are, I went the less costly route where the amount I spend is minimal for supplies plus teaching four days a semester. This is a pretty good deal. Except that I have never considered myself great with kids, despite being numero uno of eleven. Teaching a bunch of three and four year-olds doesn't sound horrible due to my status of oldest-of-many, except I am not sure how to keep them entertained for two and a half hours. However, I think I do better with this age group than say, teenagers. I can be happy and kind and consoling to the poor child who is having trama about using my toilet because it is blue, not white, and how is it possible that one can go potty in a blue toilet? Everything just looks wrong! Based on past experience, teenagers probably think I'm nerdy and not fun enough, which is true, so what can you do?

Anyway, today we learned about the letter G. We talked about gardens. We read a Frog and Toad story about gardens. Frog and Toad stories are pretty dang funny. If you ever need to be amused while reading to your child, I suggest any Winnie-the-Pooh story (I mean the original A.A. Milne, here) with Eeyore, or Frog and Toad. We looked at vegetables that come from gardens. We made our own paper gardens. It wasn't too bad. But there are still three more classes to go.

The real kicker is the craft portion of the day. A fun activity that is more than simply coloring a page of objects whose only relation is that the words that represent them all start with the same letter and not so complicated or bulky that a) I go crazy trying to administer the project or b) the parents go crazy trying to figure out how to gracefully remove said project from the home, because truth be told, it's not that great looking and you don't want it laying around!

I am fortunate that next week one of my classes is on Halloween, and that's just about as good as picking up a Get Out of Jail Free card. Especially because our next letter is, indeed, H, so that will all work out very nicely. Except I still need to plan out a lesson. Hmmm.

Monday, October 23, 2006

word association

My daughter is happily munching down some candy garnered from the weekend Trunk-or-Treat.
"This is good!" she says. "It has chocolate and peanutbutter. What is it called?"
"It's a Reeses peanut butter cup," I tell her.
"Peanut butter cup?" she says. "Butter cup. Buttercup is that crazy girl who falls into a hole!" she says, then runs away.

Yes, that crazy Princess Bride. Quicksand always did get her into trouble.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

are you sure about this?

Today is the day for our church "Trunk or Treat." The girls are giddy at the thought of candy, candy, candy! I'm really not cut out to handle 2 hyper-active small ones bouncing off my walls on a sugar high, but since their dad and I will probably be doing most of the candy eating (secretly, of course) we'll most likely all survive just fine.

But that brings me to these musings...Trunk-or-Treat. I know we think of it as the safer and more benign companion to Trick-or-Treat, but if you look at it semantically and pragmatically which one off hand would you rather have your child participate in? The activity where your kid might "accidently" sit on a whoopee cushion or the one where they are lured by the possibility of a smallish size snickers bar and then grabbed and thrown into someone's trunk and driven away? I just wanted to help you be on guard and aware. You never know at this time a year.

Also, while not too jazzed about his current state of mobility, the babe is doing relatively fine.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I can't think of a title...

Speaking of things that make my heart beat and cause me to bleed, I had to take my sweet little babe to the Emergency Room this morning. I've never had to do that before with my girls. Maybe it's because he's my first boy, but I am sure praying that this is not a premonition of things to come.

He rolled off my bed last night. I should have already put him up in his crib, but I was waiting for Ben to get home and the baby was so comfortably asleep on my bed that I just left him there, and didn't go in to check on him until I heard the *thump*whhaaaaaaahhh!!!* I thought he was just shaken up a bit, and I kept him in bed with us. He cried on and off through out the night. Both girls also felt the need to come down during that dark period, what Ben and I fondly remember and refer to as "bedtime." We were exhausted and convinced that our poor boy was just overly sensitive to his fall. But in the morning when we went to change his diaper we discovered that when his right leg was moved he cried out in pain.

We waited for the doctor's office to call back. We waited to be admitted into the Emergency Room. We waited for them to do an x-ray. We waited for them to get a hold of the orthopedic pediatrian. We were sent over to the orthopedic person, who wrapped up our baby's fractured right femur and told us to come back tomorrow when their specialist is in and she will fit the baby with a more livable splint/cast thing. This doctor isn't on our list of prefered providers, so our insurance co-pay will be more, but what do you do? You go where the emergency room sends you! And then you go back because your baby had the unlucky fortune to hurt himself on a day the physician isn't in.

I am exhausted.

And irritated at one of the doctors who is possibly doing a sort of residency or something (?) at the orthopedic place. Because he was obviously new, an apprentice of sorts, who had no bedside manner with babies or their parents (completely clueless. Which whatever. I guess that's not a prerequisite for medical school) and made semi-disparaging remarks about the underclass being able to get by pretty well without insurance which I found offensive because there was no compassion and he just came across as young and stupid. Not really traits you want to cultivate as a doctor, I would think. It sounded like he was implying that poor people work over the insurance companies ("I know too much about insurance," he said.) After our experience with student insurance I am pretty well convinced that it's the other way around.

And back to the baby. He's asleep. But I think we're in for another rough night until we get the new splint on. Time to load up on Baby Motrin, which he loves, actually. He just looks so sad as he lays on my bed with a huge thing wrapped around his leg. The poor guy actually went 12 hours without smiling at me, which worried me to death and broke my heart. He was just enjoying rolling around and such, except when it landed him under a chair or something. I guess the crawling will be delayed a few months. But that's okay. He's okay. He did smile at me and several of the doctors and nurses today, so that made me feel better. And he's a healthy kid. There were people in the ER much worse off than we were.

Thank you SO MUCH to the sweethearts who have so helped me out today by taking care of my girls and bringing us dinner tonight.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

move over, rogaine

I went into the bathroom to find toothpaste smeared on the sink and the faucet and the bath toys. I guess I should have known something was going on when my daughter called out "there is no lid on this, Mom!" When I found the artist and her designs I asked her what she was thinking. She gave a simple answer. The seal needed some hair. And the rest? Icing on the cake, I guess.

Monday, October 16, 2006

eleven days, 819 spam

In my gmail account. Yes. Eight hundred and nineteen spammy messages since October 6th. They generally go straight to the special spam box, so it doesn't bother me really, and there is kind of a thrill when you get to delete that many messages at one time. Sigh. We live in an invasive, consumer driven profit buildin' world. Does anybody really make money by annoying all the rest of us? Don't answer that. I don't really want to know.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

a saturday in october

We went apple picking today. Despite a few many things that could have been done around the house, despite Ben being crazy busy with school/thesis etc., etc., we headed out to the apple orchard, because I think if you live here in the Northeast, it's a law.

We had a beautiful drive up looking at all the lovely leaves changing color. Also all three children fell asleep. That had it's down side, because my middle darling takes a while to get over the post-sleep grumpies. It was chilly. We (I) forgot the baby's jacket. Middle dearest wanted to be carried the entire time. Of course the baby did, too, but that's expected. Then some clouds blew in with the chilly air and threatened to rain. In the end we got some good apples (I wish I'd gotten more, but when I picked up the bag the kids were on the verge of breakdown, so I figured the smaller the bag, the safer we'll be, the happier we'll be, tra-la-la-la.) I think we got a few good pictures, but I haven't looked at them yet. If there are some I like, I'll post 'em. All in all it was a good time. Another memory drop in the family bucket o' fun.

Now everyone is in bed (theoretically, that is. My girls have been coming down occassionally to ask me what the names of their stuffed animals are. I have named two of their dogs Ginger and Bonnie. If you know what I'm talking about then that should make you smile.) I'm grabbing my book, a tall glass of water, maybe an apple, and calling it a night!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

all that & fresh breath, too!

When I left for my LDS mission, I took along some Aquafresh toothpaste because that is what we were currently using at home. Once I arrived in France and ran out of toothpaste I was pleased as punch to find that they also sold Aquafresh in the stores and I purchased it as a small token that reminded me of my family, normal cheese, and all things American. Back in the States, did I move on to new brands? I did not. Not only were they more expensive, but I wanted to use the same stuff I had used in my now beloved and far away adopted country. To this day I use that toothpaste. That's at least 10 years with a consistent tooth cleansing agent! 10 years!

What I'm saying is that I am a creature of habit who can make just about anything become an expression of nostalgia. However, if Costco stopped carrying my toothpaste in bulk, that would probably be the end of it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

don't be still, my heart

Today while playing outside my oldest ran over to me with an excited smile after doing several laps up and down the sidewalk. "My heart is beating!" she proclaimed and then she proceeded to stand still for a moment with a look of awe on her face as she listened to her heart pushing the blood through her body. Then she was off again, running back and forth, skipping here and there, until the inevitable; she fell and scraped up her knee and it was bleeding.

There are things that make our hearts beat, but in the beating of that small instrument, the percussion of our lives, is also the capacity, the inevitability really, that we will bleed. In the most literal sense, that's life.

A few things that make my heart beat:
Watching my girls dance, or just listening to them talk.
The monarch butterfly who has been gracing us with his presence when we're outside.
My little boy's smile when his sisters come to talk to him.
The fall leaves.
Cookie dough.
A good phone conversation or email.
Family karaoke at my parents' house.

Monday, October 9, 2006

hindsight is 20/20; sometimes foresight is too

Sometimes you just know, but once the offer is out there it's hard to but it back in your mouth. Even when your busy husband says that really it's fine to leave the girls while you go walking, you just have to be benevolent. Besides your girls are already excited about going with mom, anyway. And you're only leaving the recently fed baby with dad, and so even if the exercise routine is a little less-than, at least someone will get some work done. You repeat this in your mind as you walk out the door herding the kids down the stairs and glancing at the baby who doesn't look very happy about being left out, nevermind that he's already nursed and eated some yummy pears to boot. Also nevermind that he gets a little panicky when mom's gone, nevermind that he hasn't been feeling great, at least that's the assumption because he was so sad and grumpy yesterday.... Yes, sometimes you just know, but you can't stop it from happening. The ball is rolling and there's no stopping it until it hits the pins.

I didn't get much exercise and baby was crying in full-force when we got home, despite the additional food Ben was trying to get into his mouth between cries and typing up a sentence or two. So Ben didn't get as much done as he could have if I had just left the girls to entertain the baby who wouldn't have noticed I was gone.
The girls did have a good time, and it was fun to listen to them talk about the ducks and trees and the big, bad wolf who lives in the forest, but I realized how much exercise time is also "me" time. Well, live and learn.

Wish me luck. Apparently a tornado struck our house this weekend without our notice (or approval, I might add) and has strewn toys and clothes everywhere, so I'm off to the races, where I can gamble on a fast horse and hopefully win enough money to pay for a maid. Cheers!

Thursday, October 5, 2006

A Little Tooth

Your baby grows a tooth, then two,
and four, and five, then she wants some meat
directly from the bone. It's all

over: she'll learn some words, she'll fall
in love with cretins, dolts, a sweet
talker on his way to jail. And you,

your wife, get old, flyblown, and rue
nothing. You did, you loved, your feet
are sore. It's dusk. Your daughter's tall.

-Thomas Lux

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

pretty scary

I realized tonight that I am no longer disgusted when I see Christmas decorations up in the stores before Halloween. I just accept it as how things are. It really used to tick me off when tinsel and little blinking lights graced store aisles before Thanksgiving. When the holiday promotions started inching back through the month of November, I was indignant! Alas, they have subdued my fury by their persistance, those rotten, scheming marketers. Now I point out the huge blow-up snowman at Costco to my kids in September without blinking an eye. What have I become?

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

back to real life

For the past three months my 18 year-old sister, Natalie, has been staying with us. She had a regular babysitting gig here and picked up side jobs to earn money for school (she starts BYU-Idaho in January). Although it's not quite like I had a personal maid and nanny, Nat has made the past three months easier. She put the girls to bed when I couldn't. I could run to the store and grab something without having to haul all three children with me. She would do the dishes and mop the floor for me when I asked. She could get the baby when he was crying so I could finish with whatever I was doing (probably finishing some post). As Ben takes her to the airport so that she can go home and sleep in a real bed in her own bedroom and not on a blowup mattress, here I am, feeling a little sad. And not just because I do have some dishes that could use some washing. So here is a small tribute, which will probably cause her to roll her eyes.

Some things about Natalie: smart, beautiful, funny, witty, wonderful with my kids, just a good all-around person. Sorry we never got those corndogs. Next time? And just for you, go Mets! (Also, you owe me some vanilla.)