Friday, December 31, 2010

Book List 2010

When I look at this book list I think to myself, really? I read that this year? It seems longer ago than than. I chalk it up to having a baby in the middle of the year and my life definitely divides at that point: BB (before baby) AB (After baby).

The truth of the matter is that after June my reading of new books sort of fell of a cliff. I re-read a lot of books; I am definitely a re-reader. But my brain wasn't too into new books. Until the Fall when Percy Jackson came to the rescue, and that wasn't too much of a brain stretch, but we'll get there in a moment. And so, with out further ado: Allysha's Book List 2010.

Princess Academy ~ Shannon Hale
I like Shannon Hale. I like her books and her writing. Maybe it's my age, but I generally find the plot predictable, but enjoyable none the less. That was the case with this book.

American Lion ~ Jon Meacham
Biography of Andrew Jackson. Very interesting. Worth reading.

Peace Like a River ~ Leif Enger
I had to re-read this one as soon as I finished it, I loved it so much. I can't think of it without sighing a little bit. It was fabulous on so many levels. Really. Wow.

Time Enough for Drums ~ Ann Rinaldi
My sisters grew up loving this book, so I decided to read it. It's a Revolutionary War romance and it is okay. The hero is sort of meh, and the heroine is a little spunky but a little meh as well. But I say this because I am in my thirties and not thirteen. Makes a difference.

The Magician's Elephant ~ Kate DiCamillo
Not my favorite of hers, but still, classic Kate. Which means intricate story told so simply she makes her writing seem easy. But it's not.

Fablehaven: Keys to the Demon Prison ~ Brandon Mull
Good end to the series, but packed. I hold that Brandon could have split it into two novels and we all would have thought it grand. Left some things unexplored, but overall, a lot of fun, just like the other four Fablehaven books.

Coraline ~ Neil Gaiman
I didn't love this book. It was okay. But I had no real reason to feel for and with Coraline, other than on a rather superficial level. That's just how the story was told. Detached.

Men of Influence & Men of Valor ~ Robert L. Millet
Both books written for an LDS audience, I found them astute and insightful and thoughtful.

Dewey ~ Vicki Myron
Well I like cats and libraries, so a book about a library cat is good stuff. Truly, it is a sweet true story about a cat and a town and a library, and also about Vicki, who like Dewey, seems rather remarkable herself.

Percy Jackson and...The Lightning Thief/The Sea of Monsters /The Titan's Curse/
The Battle of the Labyrinth /The Last Olympian ~ Rick Riordan
I enjoyed these books based on and in Greek Mythology. Percy is a likable guy, as is Annabeth and even Clarisse, in her own way. Not Harry Potter. But not that they wanted to be either.

So, I guess mostly I read kids books this year. And so what? I also reread The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Hugh Nibley bio, Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and probably Other Books. So there you go.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The State of Things

It's raining snow. Snow so wet and dense I am afraid if it doesn't stop our house will turn into a boat and float away, but without the basement, because it will be filled with water.

Both of my boys, the 4 year old and the 6 month old are sick with fever and colds. It is sad. I really don't like it when my baby gets sick and he's been the recipient this season of more sibling illnesses than I like. He just fell asleep in my bed and I hope he sleeps long and hard and gets better quick. My older son is watching PBS kids and slept from about 3:30 yesterday afternoon until 8 am this morning with only a few brief interruptions. I love him for sleeping when he doesn't feel well. Daughter no. 2 refuses to sleep when ill; not a surprise, since she refuses to sleep in general, but when sick kids will sleep, that is a good thing.

My oldest daughter is on the way to Salt Lake with Ben to get a bump on her finger checked out. It's one of those things that is probably nothing, but just in case it's something she is going to see a Pediatric Orthopedist at Primary Children's Hospital and well, that't fun! Fortunately it's not raining snow up in SLC, just down here.

I could use a nap myself, since last night wasn't filled with as much sleep as I would have liked. But I might clean my room instead. Might.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why, yes. I would like some cheese...

The box to the new monopoly game looks like it's been around for longer than three days.

The laundry drain is clogged and since it attaches to the storm drain out side our basement door whenever I do laundry it back up and forms a little lake outside that has the potential to leak into the laundry room if I wash any thing bigger than a medium sized load of clothes. The leaking that is. The lake forms regardless and then takes a long time to drain away.

Child number two is just getting over being sick (the grumpiness is sticking, though).

Child number three woke up last night with the illness du jour or illness du nuit, perhaps I should say. Or illness du plusiers jours et nuit. (Plusiers = several).

It kept Ben up, and me partially up as I tried to sleep between midnight and 5 am feedings because my baby doesn't want to sleep through the night. Sleeping seems to make him ravenous.

My girls fought this morning over what game to play, parcheesi or monopoly. Neither game ended up being played.

I may or may not have been heard shouting something about not being too fond of Christmas vacation.

Thanks. I'll take some crackers, too.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Now where did I put that darn list anyway?

My children had been whining about the lack of snow on the ground. We had cold temperatures but no snow. Then last weekend we got a dusting. And my daughter determinedly made a snowman who was then decimated by the rain we got the next day.

On Sunday night we got a nice little bit of snow covering the lawn. And then on Monday night another storm came along and dumped at least a foot of snow. Heavy, wet, white snow. Impossible to drive through, and a lot to shovel. And I woke up my kids with the news that hey! guess what? It snowed a ton! School is canceled! And they cried.

Really, they cried.

To be fair school was canceled on one of the funnest days of school: Christmas caroling, making ginger bread houses, etc., etc. Bummer. And not just for the kids. Bummer for Ben who spent his morning shoveling out the neighborhood instead of working. Bummer for me who had plans to clean, clean, shop, and make final preparations.

To top it all off, my 3 1/2 year old stuck a little sparkly jewel sticker into her ear canal when she was decorating a paper Christmas tree. I suspect she was trying to "put on" some earrings. So I spent the afternoon at the instacare. And why not? Who doesn't like to spend more money on whatever at Christmas time.

My kids spent a lot of time in the snow. My daughter learned that the doctor isn't so bad. I didn't get any cleaning done. Except for some laundry.

But it still needs to be folded.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

So This is Christmas

Here are a few things about Christmas at my house:

I pick the tree. When I loaded up the kids to go get the tree I asked them who had the final say on which tree we got. "You, Mom." They know.

Our tree is nice this year, but it doesn't smell. We got a kind we've never had before and I won't be buying one again. I thought Frazier trees were mild. This one hardly has a scent, which is disappointing. But I don't dwell on it to much. If I miss the pine scent I can go over to my parent's house. They got a Noble. Smart move.

We made cookies on Saturday. Just enough for a very minor decorating session. It was perfect.

My poor baby has a cough, so now I must end this post and go take care of him.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Goings-On

The tree is trimmed. The stockings are hung. (Except for the baby's. I still need to make his.) I imagine that visions of sugar plums dance in my kids' heads every night. Or at least visions of zhu zhu pets. The Christmas music is lovely. I have a few more gifts to buy, and hopefully will finish that soon, although I have my doubts.

My kids are screaming downstairs in joyful terror. Yikes. Time to go!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Haiku for the Season

I am excited
December is almost here
Must get out and shop

I want to be done
Gathering holiday treats
As soon as I can

I know the season
Is not all about the gifts
I sit in that light

The Peace of Noel
Is something that can transcend
all of the hubbub.

Take that folks, hubbub in a haiku. It almost makes one cry. And not for good reasons, either.

Friday, November 26, 2010

And Yet More...Thankful

Number 4 is in the bath. She told us that she "throwed" her Thanksgiving dinner in the middle of the night and needed to be cleaned up just a tad. She didn't bother to wake us up, she just went back to sleep.

Number 2 and 3 are playing War. Which is better than fighting.

Number 1 is probably in her bed reading.

Number 5 is with Ben. They are playing the piano together. Well, Caleb is just listening to Ben play.

I am grateful for all of the above.

Thanksgiving was nice. And I am thankful it is over, because 5 smallish kids in a house with limited play space, not enough iphones to play on (good grief, they were glued to their aunt's phone) and cold weather is a mixture for some stress. Actually they were quite good.

My girls requested the turkey drumsticks. I like that because they actually eat them and it's hilarious to see them eating such large drumsticks. And often they don't eat anything. Unfortunately this year the younger cousins caught onto the gig and cried because there were not enough drumsticks to go around. So I had to make a rule that next year no one gets drumsticks. Bummer.

Bring on the holidays. Make them fun and mellow.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Still More Thankful

We had a blizzard warning for yesterday. We went to the store and bought water, fire logs, and new snow shovels because ours was cracked. The storm pummeled Idaho and is shutting down roads in the Rockies. But it sort of skimmed over our little neck of the woods.

My kids anticipated a couple feet of snow. And the idea of being shut in for awhile kicked my homemaking into gear. I did the baby's laundry, in case the power went out. I cleaned up most of the house. I got out extra blankets for the kids.

The storm never really showed up, but left us with a nice holiday feeling this morning. The kids insisted on going out in the 1 inch of snow for awhile. The sun came out. I continued my cleaning extravaganza - the Thanksgiving one I was convinced a week ago had already died a definite death. (It's nice to be clean for the holidays, but sometimes at a cost that just isn't worth it. Hello sanity!)

The kids have played the Wii, made their beds (well, I really made their beds), cleaned their rooms and are now happily making a minor mess in the family room (they have promised to clean that up, too. We'll see).

Today I am thankful for our "blizzard." We got some stuff done and aren't even snowed in.

Good Deal.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More Thankful

Today I am grateful for cute, darling, two-toothed smile baby boys. Actually, just one, not multiple. My baby boy is a sweetheart and I love him.

Also grateful for Ben (again) for trying to send me to bed at 9 o'clock. It almost worked.

Grateful for Macey's turkey vouchers.

And grateful for something to read.

There is apparently a winter storm coming. I'm not sure if I am grateful for that or not.

Monday, November 22, 2010

She's Making a List and Checking it Twice

Forget about the naughty and nice bit. Everyone around here has been naughty and nice and I'm too worn out to do the tally. Probably best for all of us this year if we just say we've been good, we've been bad, and we're going to do better. (Do you hear me, kids? We're going to do better!)

Tis the season of lists. This week the lists include Thanksgiving such and such. And a little bit of Christmas such and such as well. I've had plans (oh, the plans) to get Christmas stuff mostly taken care of before December. At this point I don't think that is going to happen, but I have lists, people, lots of lists, which should make the shopping relatively easy once I can get out the door.

Or maybe I should just do all of my shopping online this year. Hmmm. Tempting.

In honor of Thanksgiving I am going to list things this week I am grateful for. So here we go.

I'm grateful for Family.

I'm grateful for Ben.

I'm grateful that the latest Harry Potter movie was enjoyable.

I'm grateful to teach Gospel Doctrine. Seriously. In a list of lifesavers, it would be near the top.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, November 15, 2010

No Matter the Weather We're Always Together

It's a little chilly.

Maybe time for some hot chocolate.

I'm tired of feeling under the weather.

I'm hoping that tomorrow I will feel over the weather, even if it's snowing. That way I can get my house clean. It needs it desperately. My floors are dying to be vacuumed.

I had hopes for feeling over the weather today, but baby didn't want to spend much time in his own bed last night, apparently didn't eat much yesterday because he was genuinely hungry all night long, and this morning we had some re-entry problems for getting back into the swing of things. Hence: still a little under.

Tomorrow I need to go to the store for Santa. He needs me to pick up some Zhu Zhu pets and a Parcheesi board game for him.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Little Moment

There was a moment today, an eensy, teeny moment where motherhood was like I wanted it to be. I was sitting at the piano playing through some children's songs and my kids were gathered around spontaneously and everyone was singing and no one was annoyed that someone was standing too close or complaining that so-and-so was singing too loud or that mom wasn't quite playing it right. It was fun. And then it ended.

So many things about motherhood are overwhelming to me these days, requiring me to give more than I have available, challenging me beyond what I am good at and I am too often left feeling stripped, vulnerable and inadequate.

Of course the practical optimist in me wants you to know that I am philosophical in all of this, aware of what I should do, and that I should be somewhat circumspect about the situation having just had baby number 5 a few months ago, and I am. Circumspect. And also tired.

But that little moment at the piano with everyone crowded around me and singing too loudly in my ears was a little flash of light that said "See? It may not be so unattainable after all."

So there you go. And now I must go and stop my kids from fighting, over playing the piano ironically.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Golden Leaves are Falling Down

Our tree let drop most of its leaves on Saturday. Sunday was Sunday, so there the leaves stayed in a sort-of pile. Today it is raining. Raining, raining, raining. It's supposed to snow soon. (Boo to the snow. Stay away until December. I mean it.) And those leaves, all million-trillion of them, need to be placed in bags and thrown away. So I wish it weren't raining. Or maybe I should say Thanks, Rain! Now I don't have to go out and pick up leaves! But we both know that's just a silly thing to say.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I zip across party lines faster than a speeding bullet

Yes to Sam Granato for U.S. Senator.
NO to Mike Lee, who refused to debate Sam. What?
Yes to Karen Hyer because she is not a politician.
NO to Jason Chaffetz because he is such a politician. You know what I mean.
Shout out to Joseph Puente, unaffiliated, who has some good ideas.
Probably Yes to Gary Herbert. Because although I don't agree with him on everything, he seems a reasonable fellow. I thought about going with the Libertarian, but I'm not really a Libertarian.
No to no one specific.

I feel more strongly about not voting for certain people, apparently. And I have other reasons to vote for/against, just so you know. It's not all about political debates.

Get out and Vote today, people. It's important.

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's November and I'm glad about that.

I woke up early this morning with a "my life is like a merry-go-round" analogy going through my head. It's an apt one. All of the animals going up and down represent different responsibilities and they just turn turn turn on the carousel, up and down, and I am standing there watching everything going around and I don't know quite where to start. Cue the flashing lights and the jolly yet slightly insane sounding music!

* * * * *

Actually, my inclination is not to feel depressed, or even overwhelmed. Mostly I just want to lie down and take a really long nap.

And I'd like my kids to do the same.

Let's sleep everybody! For 100 years! Just like the sleeping beauty!

Ah, I don't think they'll go for that. Bummer. Because I think we'd all feel really great and well rested when we woke up.

Well, I'll have to think of something else. But now it's time for breakfast.

Cold cereal anyone?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Come What May, The Leaves Will Turn

Photograph by my sister.

Last year at this time I was newly pregnant and feeling sick almost all of the time. The cold weather and the beautiful colored leaves were a relief. I would drive the kids up the canyon to look at the leaves after school because I was tired of being at home, but didn't have the energy to do anything else. Actually the cold weather was not a relief, just the leaves.

This year everyone else is getting sick. It seems to be a mild but tenacious version of the flu, where the child is obviously ill, and their fatigue is interspersed with bouts of happy energy, and this happy energy is interrupted by rising temperatures and dizzy-feeling heads. It lasts longer than I would like. Two kids down, two kids to go. The baby is absolutely NOT allowed to get the flu. So he is not in the run down.

Last night I dreamed I was driving in the car with a friend who recently lost his father. He was dealing with some difficult things, and I was thinking of something to say that would be true, helpful, and comforting. Then I woke up because Ben had jumped out of bed because my little boy was calling loudly for him, because said little boy's head hurt.

Tylenol can only heal so much. For the rest of life there is time, space, and beautiful colored leaves.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Morning Routine

With a skiff of snow on the ground my two oldest are bundled up and off to school; the two middle children have taken their exuberance out into the cold cold air and are throwing handfuls of the white stuff at each other; the youngest is in his swing, swinging and smiling at me. I am sitting here on the couch, french cheese in hand, wishing Ben had his cell phone with him so that I could call him and tell him that he left it here at home.

Children have an amazing ability to endure and ignore uncomfortable situations and just get straight to the magic of things. I wonder how long they'll last out there? Hopefully long enough to get all their crazy out. Then we can have a nice, warm and peaceful day here at home, doing laundry and drinking hot chocolate. I doubt they'll join me for the laundry, but for sure the hot chocolate.

Especially if there are marshmallows.

Which there are.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Where Does the Time Go?

It's the last week of October. The Last Week!

Where does the time go? My baby is four months old. He is cute and funny. He's growing up so fast I swear that by January he will have graduated High School and headed off to college. And I'm kind of sad about that, because he is such a cute baby.

Time goes by faster now. It used to take a long time to get from birth to 4 months. The waking up at night, the endless feedings, the waking up at night. I must have four other kids who keep me going at breakneck speed because I haven't looked forward at all to the four month mark, the mark my mother used to comfort me with my other children (It gets easier at four months, they sleep longer, they laugh at you, they wear bigger diapers). I haven't looked for it and yet here it is and gone.

Yes, it's kind of sad.

He's such a sweetheart.

* * * * *
On an unrelated note: it's raining a lot these days. And the lawn I stopped watering in September? (Or maybe it was August...) It's all nice and green again. Just in time for the snow to start falling. We had a doozy of a storm last night with wind and rain. Tonight: hail. Fun stuff. And if I remember to I will tell you about our doozy of a morning this morning tomorrow morning. See if you can make sense of that, fellow bloggers and other various people who keep up with me online. Or who don't keep up. Ha ha! I obviously need to get to bed. Farewell, all. And to all a good night.

I Am Not a Fan


... antlers in decorating. I know it's in. I think it's ugly. I will forever think it's ugly. And silly.

... jeggings (see commentary on antlers).

... EDITED TO ADD what I was initially thinking that I was not a fan of: Facebook. And then I forgot, and then I remembered. Nope, not a facebook fan.

... lame, serialized children's books (having to do with fairies, mermaids or what-have-you, with no decent plot and an utter lack of interesting writing).

... guys who keep a girl around even though they know it's not a good idea (lots of past examples and stories. Don't get me started).

... reading lame serialized children's books to children.

... seafood.

... potty training.

... unrestrained money to political campaigns with no disclosure of who is giving.

... the flu.

... feta cheese.

... the way NPR fired Juan Williams (not necessarily saying they shouldn't have, but they sure managed it poorly).

... hot dogs.

{If you like any or all of these things, that's grand. I am not trying to pick a fight. I am not a fan of picking fights.}

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Yes, it has.

It's been a day.

Ben has a project due. He's been working on it like crazy. He still found time for me to go the the football game today. Which was awfully nice of him. I haven't been to a game for quite some time. I wasn't sure if I should go. But my younger brother had an extra ticket, and I like hanging out with him.

The game was wet and cold, but it was really fabulous to be there. The cheerleaders spent too much time right in front of us. I made up for it by laughing at their fake eyelashes. Woosh. We won the game 25-20. Go defense. The defense seriously saved us in the end. Plus, the crowd was really loud and supportive, which is always exciting. I yelled a lot.

I arrived home and some of my kids were crazy. Mostly just one kid. Who had been crazy before I left. This child has a stellar ability to make me feel utterly inadequate as a parent.

I put the kids to bed and went to study my lesson for Sunday School tomorrow. I felt bad about my lack as a parent. (Oh the lack.) We are studying Isaiah. Chapters 40-49. Oh heavenly book. The chapters focus on Christ as our only Savior and what he has done for us. Beautiful. Hallelujah.

It was just what I needed.

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. {2 Nephi 25:26}

I cleaned off the stove, finished up reading Isaiah, and then dished up some ice cream. Then I ate the ice cream and then I decided to blog about it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

ah, oui

Dinner is in the oven. Woohoo! I am on the ball. Wednesday nights are a tad crazy, though less so now that soccer season is over. Okay, all nights are a tad crazy, soccer or no soccer.

We are having quiche. "Quiche!" said my 3.5 year old daughter when she found out what I was making, "I love quiche!"

And now the word quiche is looking so funny to me. The word peace did that to me the other day. But now peace is back to normal.

I hope the quiche turns out. Whether the word looks funny or not, I always just throw stuff together for my quiche and then wait and see. Thanks to my French Education. Which was lovely. And survived some strikes. Oh, la.

I am rather proud of myself for making decent dinners three nights in a row. Maybe we'll have tacos tomorrow night. And Friday night is usually pizza night, mostly homemade. But not by me. By the true cook of the family: Ben. Hooray for Ben. Who cleaned the kitchen for me yesterday.

That did not look funny to me at all. It looked, actually, heavenly. I was happy about the clean counter tops all evening.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Be Brave, French Politicians

Of course, the people are unhappy. Oh the French. Striking. Rioting. Burning a few tires. Protesting the retirement age. It is at 60. Sarkozy is aiming for 62. Oh woe, the French. Having to work until you are 62. I adore my adopted country. I'd like the system to not completely fall apart. Your current pension system is losing money. Be brave, French politicians. Vote the darn thing into law despite the insanity.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cream Cheese is Good for Everything

It's a Monday. The eighteenth of the month. I am happy about the number 18 today. It's a beautiful Fall day. I was out this morning at the county building registering to vote (but for who? who knows!) and ordering a copy of my baby's birth certificate. I went to buy some honey in bulk at the grocery store but they were out of the kind I wanted, so I will head out to Costco today or tomorrow to pick some up. We're working on emergency food storage around here. I picked up a mini-muffin tin instead.

I am suposed to make sugar cookie dough so that we can make Halloween cookies tonight for FHE. My kids don't particularly like to eat sugar cookies. But they do like to make them and decorate them. I really should just make some basic kind of cookie, but I am not a huge fan of sugar cookies either. That said, I have a fantastic sugar cookie recipe that I do like, involving almond extract and cream cheese and the cookies are good and the dough is even better. And, of course, fattening. So I should probably half the recipe. Once I get around to making it that is.

My baby, who should be taking a nap, but instead is lying next to me and not taking a nap kept me up last night with a little bit of congestion. Baby congestion = noisy sleeping baby = mom not sleeping. I would like to take a nap. And the baby is thinking about a nap. I can tell by his tired looking eyes.

Go to sleep baby. Your birth certificate is in the mail. It's a beautiful Fall day. I am registered to vote. And maybe I can go to sleep, too. Once I make that cookie dough.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Break

Wednesday Ben took the kids to a sourdough pizza restaurant. I don't like sourdough anything so he figured it was his opportunity to try it out. They went to the park. They went to the library. The pizza restaurant was void of any customers save my family, so the kids got to run around and have the time of their lives. (I fear ever sending them back there should they chance to meet other customers who require children sit at their own booth and not everyone else's.) They had a splendid time.

Yesterday we went to the zoo. I got ready for it slowly, determined not to send myself back to the sick bed just for the sake of some foreign animals. We forgot the stroller so the baby was generally good natured about being hauled around like a sack of flour. He fussed a little bit but I fed him on a bench above the giraffe sanctuary and really I thought he was a trooper, what with no nap, no regular and ample lunch, and no sense of the wonderful world of animals we were traipsing through.

The kids did great. We kept track of all of them. If you ask them their favorite part they will tell you the carousel ride and the cotton candy. The traffic home was intense, but the kids did splendidly. Surprisingly, it was only the baby who cried at all, and I was relieved and only a little bit tired (well, a lot bit, but not sick and exhausted) when we arrived home.

Today is an open book, with some kid crafty painting scribbled in somewhere. A trip to the local Walmart and Costco are on the docket. I need to get tile cut. Hopefully the kids enjoy a little time around the house. I am going to try and chill a little bit more, though the house seems to be screaming out that I clean it a little bit and do some vacuuming. But we're chill here. Sort of.

This weekend is Fall Break. And it's turning out rather nicely.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Keeping up the numbers

I've been ill the past few days. Achy muscles, tired eyes, no energy. I think I'm turning the corner, but I'm not there yet, so I am in bed next to sleeping Caleb, napping a bit myself and now, blogging.

I've been keeping tabs on the chilean rescue mission. Somebody has the job to update the news story on Yahoo! and other sites every time another miner is brought to the surface. I love that. The link says 23 miners, but when I click on it, suddenly it's 25 miners. And then it will be 26, and 27. I prayed all day yesterday for these men. For their sanity and peace of mind. For the rescue mission itself. Amazing. 69 days trapped together. I'm sure it was difficult and intense. And yet hope and the knowledge of someone up above willing and able to eventually pull them out kept them going. You know there is a metaphor there about how life works.

My eyes are still tired, so I'm going to close them now. I'm feeling better. I've been living on juice bars. And a respite from house work. Props to Ben for heading up the goings on around home. I have a mountain of laundry to fold.

Ignoring the laundry for now. Keeping the prayers going, though.

26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

the music that swells the soul

Sunday evening my daughter and my sister performed a small piano recital; it was just the two of them and my sister-in-law who joined my sister in a duet (and who is their fabulous piano teacher).

My oldest, sitting up on the bench before the grand piano looked such an odd combination of the baby she was eight years ago and the girl she is now, growing up swiftly, and generally with grace (if the occasional tantrum). She did very well, was very composed and I was proud of her.

My youngest sister, who can be irrationally modest about her talents and performing abilities, was fantastic. I loved hearing her pieces and sat in awe of her as she played. K.K. is dedicated and lovely. It was a pleasure to watch her as she shared with us pieces that my soul delights in for their beauty and technicality.

It's cloudy, windy and rainy today. After a few weeks of weather that has been much too warm for my tastes we have weather to fit the season. It makes me feel cosy and warm and satisfied, with just a hint of melancholy. The leaves are rustling in the breeze, there is a mellow yet crisp scent to the air. It all sounds wonderful.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Looking over today...

The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook. ~ William James

Sunday, September 26, 2010


It's 10:01 and I want to go to bed. But Caleb is next to me. His onesie has a fish on it. He was in his crib making sad noises and so I went over to comfort him and then he started grinning at me like nothing else and then I brought him with me into bed and now he has the hiccups and is talking to me and not going to sleep. He is tired. And I am tired. But I haven't really started any kind of sleep training yet. I thought about it, but then I thought that maybe, because he has such a charming smile, that I would regret not getting him out of his crib and snuggling him for a moment. Sleep training can only truly happen when you are at the point that you can ignore the smile because you are so dang tired. I am just tired at the moment. Caleb is tired, though, maybe almost dang tired. He is crying his tired cry. And because he is lying in my lap while I type he is also trying to nurse on my elbow. It feels funny. So maybe he's hungry and tired. In which case, I should feed him and put him down to bed and go to bed myself.

Oh wait. He's talking to me again. Darn that charm. I may be up for a few more minutes yet.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Don't count your fish...

Several months ago Ben brought home four fish from a wedding reception. His cousin's, I believe. They wanted to give him three and he tried to get out of it by saying that his four kids would have a hard time dividing three fish.

Darn. They happily gave him another fish.

But the kids had a good time picking out a fish bowl, fish food and the requisite accouterments and they named our fish original names, like Goldie, Shiney, Shy and I can't remember the other one's name because it died first, and not long after we got the fish.

I say died first, because they are goldfish and it is inevitable that they shall die, sooner than later, right?

Although I have to say sooner has come and gone and it's getting later and later. As of a few days ago we had two fish, our second fish passing away after obviously feeling lethargic about life, or maybe he was sick.

Which brings us to Goldie. Goldie has always been the overachiever. He grew bigger than the rest, changed his fins from light gold to black and began attempting to jump up out of the water on occasion. Have you ever heard of a jumping goldfish? But Goldie was determined.

Who knows what caused him to follow this dream, this passion? Was it talent? a hidden dolphin gene? a desire to see beyond the glass bowl?

Sadly in the end, Goldie succeeded mightily. I found him dead on the counter not too far from his bowl. The poor fish didn't realize that there wasn't water, water everywhere. Not a drop to drink. Or swim in. Or breath in. It was too late when I found him.

What can one say? He died trying to accomplish a dream. In some books, that makes for a good story. For Goldie, it ended with him being thrown away in the garbage can.

I feel a little bad about the whole thing. But what can I do about it?

Cheers to Goldie. Shiney, you're all we have left.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Now I lay me down to sleep. Or at least the baby.

When we lived in New York we bought a small pack n' play for Oliver to sleep in. We didn't have a lot of room. And this was the eency teeny pack n' play. And it matched our duvet cover. He slept there for about 6 months before we moved him upstairs to the crib.

When we moved back to Utah, Camille was a wee six weeks old. Oliver just over a year. I was exhausted. There was No Way I was going to free my baby boy from the morning confines of the crib, and so Camille slept in the pack and play in our room until she was about 6 months old and then I went and bought another crib so both my small ones could be safely confined in rooms other than mine.

The portable has been great and handy. But it has been used. It no longer matches the duvet. (New duvet.) And Caleb, when he is not sleeping by me, is a mover and a shaker, and after all these years, the pack n' play was just too willing to move and shake with Caleb and kept waking him up, unnecessarily, in my opinion.

So. I hauled the crib into our room. (Both Oliver and Camille have long since abandoned their cozy bars for the freedom of twin beds.) It sits against the far wall across from the foot of our bed. It makes this room feel comfy and cosy with the addition of more furniture than I usually like in a bedroom. I have plans to update my bedroom. I've found the new furniture (yet to be purchased) and am looking for a headboard. But between the crib, my desk, a bookcase and a fabulous chair we have a satisfyingly balanced space that I am currently a little in love with. But I think it really has to do with the crib.

And mostly, who's in it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

about the day

I'm washing bedsheets today. They need it.

Ben's MacBook is hanging out in the kitchen today, with the plan to play movies constantly. Dora the Explorah has been seen. We're onto Finding Nemo. My daughter is potty training and as long as she is in underwear she is being placed strategically away from carpet for the time being. Her small potty is right next to her. There is a jar full of potty treats. Today we're just working on figuring things out.

People. I cannot tell you how much I hate potty training. I loathe it. But still. We're at the point that it must be done.

Back in the day I had a cleaning checklist. Each time we moved I would revamp the list and move forward with a basic idea of what I needed to do each day. Until this house. Maybe I was just too tired and overwhelmed. But I'm back. Well, not entirely, but back enough to think of getting a new cleaning list together. My family may not thank me that much. But I will thank me, and that's about all I need.

I like the soundtrack to Finding Nemo. Go Thomas Newman. I think he is the composer. I am telling you this without double checking on

I'd really like to take a nap right now, just like the baby is.

But I think that would be counter-productive.

My sis (one of many) just called me. She is going to visit me today! That is a happy thing.
And motivational. I think I will go and clean up the kitchen and vacuum the living room.

I could use a cleaning checklist.

And a magical potty training solution.

Fortunately my sheets are being cleaned with relatively little effort on my part.

Here we go.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I guess it's unavoidable

Parenting is about feeling guilty for not buying the school fundraiser coupon book that contains nothing of value to you that you would feel guilty for purchasing.

The End.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

On the Docket

Docket. What a great word.

And this is what is on {it} for today:

Go to Instacare for removal of stitches (my son's, not mine).

Paint the living room, assuming said paint is the right color.

Go to the hardware store for painting supplies before that.

Shower before that. Or maybe take a long warm bubble bath.

Pay bills.

Research cell phone plans.

Shuttle kids to church activities, soccer games, ballet class.

Consider what to have for dinner.

Consider that the 9 o'clock snack I had last night would have made for a decent and quick meal for the fam.

Consider feeling bad about this and then forget it. Life is too short to feel bad about pasta.

Make that your motto.

"Life is too short to feel bad about pasta."

Think about how 'docket' is really a great word.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Poem For Today {A tricky one, at that.}

I have more gray hairs than I care to tell
I've been running all day doing this and that
I have some new paint, but I need a bath mat
The news today says your house won't sell
Today I've run more than I care to tell

My kids are downstairs watching t.v.
But soccer practice starts in about an hour
Is the cream still good or is it sour?
I need it for dinner and you will see
It's soccer time and yet, too much t.v.

I'd like a nap at this fine date
My baby is asleep and all will be well
If he wakes up now, then I can tell
That my bedtime tonight won't be too late
And that may suffice for this fine date.

The dinner plan may come to naught
A message on my phone said come at five
Instead of seven, man alive!
Because I have to go earlier than thought
Cereal for dinner is better than naught.

All this is true, don't ask me why
It's come in rhyme and come in verse
Maybe someday I'll drive a hearse
Yes, here's a poem; I thought I'd try
All this is true but don't ask me why.

Sincerely, Allysha

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Honestly, Are You A Paint Chauvinist?

Dear Mr. Paint Mixer Man,

I swear I am not an idiot.

I know what I am talking about.

I would like to think that you know what you are talking about.

But since you did not take the time to listen to how I got the paint color I am unhappy with in the first place, I now have the EXACT SAME PAINT COLOR THAT I AM UNHAPPY WITH. Thanks a whole bunch.

You seemed to feel, when I interrupted you to clarify a few things about my current match-the-paint-color-experience, that I was being rude and untrusting of your grand abilities to match paint. I assure you that I don't doubt your ability to do this. But I do doubt your ability to LISTEN to the customer who has some experience in seeing what is missing from the paint.

Initially we had too much red and a tad too much black, and then, on the second go round we needed just a smidgen more of yellow. But instead of listening to me you went ahead and analyzed the colors and sent me home, unsure of the new color, to paint my house. And now I have spent way more time driving to the paint store and painting my walls than I wanted to. And my room is not done, so the furniture is not put back together, and Sunday is upon us and well...

I may be inclined to chalk it up to an honest mistake, except that you seemed to feel that your expertise and manhood were threatened by my suggesting anything other than, sir, dear man, superior to my own color experience, please divine what has happened here with my paint and fix it. Well, your way didn't work.

My way may not have worked either, but at least it would have been my fault and I would have dealt with that. But this way, I am just frustrated and mad. While I'm am sure you are a nice person in real life (actually I am not sure about that, I'm just trying to give you the benefit of the doubt) you were a rotten customer service representative.


Someone who was looking forward to this Saturday.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Wee Small Hours is a Misnomer. These Hours Last Forever.

I did not sleep much last night.

Maybe 2 hours? But it's hard to say. I know that at 3:30 a.m. I downloaded an app for my ipod touch so that I could play solitaire for awhile (I won two out of three games). I know I turned the lights back out about an hour later, and still couldn't sleep. Until I did. And then woke up a half an hour later. And so it goes.

The cause of my non-sleep is currently sleeping on my chest, congested and unhappy that I spent the morning trying to suction out his nasal cavities. He gets very angry and sad when he can't breath; hence me: not sleeping last night. And I should point out that I get nervous and hovering when he can't breath; hence me: not sleeping last night.

Apparently all of my children were awake around 4:30 a.m. this morning. Ben, sleeping on the couch so that baby could sleep by me, took care of them, refilled their sippy cups, and sent them back to bed. They thought it was 9 p.m. If only they had slept like it was 9 p.m. but no. In fact everyone's sleep schedule has been wonky.

We are a wonky, wanky, (and might I add, cranky) group of people. Today shall be called a low-key day. I hereby decree it. Where's the chocolate?

Monday, August 2, 2010

another anniversary

Seriously. The wedding color was lavender (better to say lavender than purple), and my dad's sleeves had more ruffles than my mom's. (Hey. It was the seventies.) But those may well be indicators of a successful marriage because today marks my parent's 37th wedding anniversary Happy Anniversary, mom and dad.

(Now if only I had a picture of the bridesmaids hats...)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pity Me.

I'm getting a wisdom tooth pulled out today. {My other three are long gone.}

Although I will be glad when the procedure is complete {this particular wisdom tooth has wrecked some of the effects of my 10th grade braces...} I am not excited about this.

I'm hoping for the best possible outcome.

Easy out. Little pain.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Quiet Time, Mostly

I've been getting up between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. recently. I'd say waking up, but with a new baby I've been waking up at all hours. This morning I was certainly awake at 6 a.m. but decided to try and get a little more shut eye. I shut my eyes, but I think that's about all I got. I'd forgotten how noisy babies can be in their sleep. But the past four weeks have proven that babies don't have to be awake to keep you awake. Sleep deprivation: it's a lovely thing.

But there is something wonderful about being the only one up in the morning. Having a little bit of quiet time to think through a few things, read a few things, organize for the day. It's something I've always wanted to do, and these days I don't have much of a choice. By six o'clock Caleb has most certainly joined me in bed and is making little sniffing and snuffing noises. He sounds like a horse. A small horse to be sure, but still, a horse. My muscles are stiff and achy so getting up and moving around a little bit feels good.

In any case I am awake now. I think there are a few children stirring downstairs, which means they will all be stirring shortly. Time to marshall the ranks into getting their breakfast eaten and their jobs done. And maybe time to have a nice warm shower for my sore muscles.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

~ It's Wonderful, It's Wonderful, It's Wonderful ~ Good Luck My Babe~ Chips, Chips ...

Going on 10+ months without a decent night's sleep, add in post-partum hormones and some mouthy grumpy kids; I take a look at my current parenting skills, flash forward to when all these children are teenagers, and I have a realization: I'm screwed.

And now I shall eat some key lime pie. Hooray for a good graham cracker crust. And some good music.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I've never been too fond of a parade anyway

We did not get up and go to the Grand Parade this morning.

Perhaps that seems like a travesty seeing as parades for celebrating Independence Day are as American as apple pie, baseball and all that stuff. But so.

We've had a weekend of our own Grand Events (Toy Story 3, Fireworks, ice cream, ice cream, more ice cream!) and late nights and all that combined with a new baby has made for some very very happy times, and some very very sad times. Also, a lack of jobs being done and a lack of piano being practiced, and a lack of patience evidenced, as well as a lack of sleep for everyone and not just mom with new baby.

But despite the failed game of Loot last night, the ice cream sundaes were good (ice cream!).

And so it was: no parade this morning. The kids are unaware it even happened, which is surprising, except that we've had so much going on, they haven't had time to think through things, I guess. We shan't enlighten them.

Although we still have one more evening of festivities (this evening), today is an exercise in attempting to get back to normal, whatever normal is. I think it involves cold cereal for breakfast, piano practicing done by lunch and the lawn watered in happy fashion.

The back lawn has been watered. Some practicing of the piano has been done. Some jobs are finished. Ben made pancakes for breakfast, but we're easing in, I guess. Do not throw me a parade however. We've a way to go yet and the confetti and horses would just be a distraction.

We are avoiding parades for the sake of sanity.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Break Update

I must be candid: Since having the baby (yes, he's here!...more on that later) I have relapsed somewhat regarding my habits with internet land.

But not entirely.

Just enough that I know that there are Russian spies infiltrating the U.S. disguised as regular people with kids, and hey, that is exciting stuff! Russian! Spies! I mean, the Cold War is over, but not over enough, you know? I know!

But here's what I've learned so far: It was hard not to tweet a bit for the first few days. There is just something about sending out a little note to the universe about one's life that is strangely comforting. But then I got over that.

I have missed the NYTimes. (Hey, Russian Spies!) But I did avoid it until chillin' with my baby during the first post-partum week.

I have not missed local news. Except for some sports news about conferences and switching teams etc. I caught up on that in the hospital. But for the most part I find local news simply reporting on local doom and gloom.

I have missed blogging. In fact, I have, in my head, composed many a post-partum post. And maybe you're glad I've been on haitus, unless you have gone through childbirth and the aftermath yourself, in which case you may have thought I was quite funny. But so much for that.

I have been more discriminating in the blog posts of others that I have chosen to read, so I haven't gone completely cold turkey on that internet front. (Does the internet have fronts?) But I have given myself limits.

This past week I have enjoyed keeping tabs on the World Cup, the longest tennis match in history, and today watching the new Harry Potter trailer over and over again. (I will not provide links to any of those things. You'll just have to find them yourselves. Sorry. Just trying to stay minimalist here...)


A reformatting of the goals a little bit:

So long, once more, New York Times. (So long, Russian Spies. Just try to deny it, Mr. Putin.) And especially so long, other news. Still no twitter. No surfing (I just don't have enough sunscreen). Limited blog reading, BUT a little more blog posting. I think it's helpful sometimes to compose a little ditty one can put out there just because. I do like blogging, just for its own sake.

And about the baby: I'll get to the details with another post, but here are the essentials:

7 lbs 11.6 oz / 19 inches / June 17th @ 2:25 a.m. / all natural, baby / cute as a button

His name is Caleb.

And like I said, more information coming soon.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

So Long, New York Times: A Summer Experiment

It's June. I've been anticipating June for about 9 months now.

The kids are currently in the back yard searching for roly-poly bugs (the friendly insects of the ubiquitous names--pill bug being one, but roly-poly is better). It is not yet 9 a.m.

And so we come to Summer Resolutions:

My children obviously have a goal to capture every single unsuspecting (and suspecting, for that matter) roly-poly in our yard. I have a goal to compile a job list, make a job chart, and get my children happily (or not) cleaning. We have plans for running through sprinklers, keeping an eye on our small garden and (hopefully) being generally pleasant to one another.

And I have my own goals.

Essentially they can be distilled into one sentence: Taking time to Be. {Oh the loaded philosophical implications. We shan't take time to discuss them.}

But more specifically it involves stepping away from the internet towards my family, some reading, some painting, some quiet time. It sounds restful, fulfilling, and terrifying. And let's not forget, a new arrival in just a few weeks, which by nature of life, takes up a lot of living and being time. And happily so.

There are (of course there are) caveats. I will have a designated time to check my email. Probably in the evening. I will still do my banking online because I still need to manage the money. I may occasionally post on the blog. Like when baby number 5 shows up, that kind of thing. Or maybe letting you in on how the experiment is going. I won't promise anything, though.

I list these things and I hear you saying: Um. That doesn't really sound like stepping back from things. But I am. So long Twitter, surfing in general, and Google news. So long, New York Times (Gail Collins, you are my favorite opinion writer not because I always agree with you, but because you are funny; see you later).

Things start to rev up for Fall a few weeks into August and I'll be back around then. In the meantime the kids have brought in what they term a caterpillar and I think it looks a little less cuddly than that, so now I go to usher out the suspicious creature and rally the kids around the job chart.

In the meantime I wish you a lovely summer, and a farewell for just a little while! So long!

Image from here.

Monday, May 31, 2010

What I know about Gabrielle Blair

I met Gabby (a.k.a Design Mom) and her family when my family moved to New York about five years ago. It was easy to like her. She's genuine and smart. But here is a story about what I love about Gabby:

When baby number three, my son Oliver, was 6 months old, he rolled off our bed and broke his leg. We didn't know if it was broken at first, but after an excruciating night of sad sad cries and an attempt at changing a diaper, Ben and I decided to take Oliver to the hospital. I called Gabby to see if she could watch our two girls. She said yes.

When we got to her house there was Gabby loading up her car with Oscar (maybe two) and newborn Betty (about six weeks younger than Oliver). She took Madeleine (four) and Ella (almost three), buckled them up, too, and went off to some sort of parent's meeting at the Elementary School.

Seriously. How many people would do that?

Posted here is an interview I did with her a couple years ago for my now (dare I say it?) defunct Just an Orange blog that I never got posted (I blame life). But I have wanted to share it with you for a good long time and now I am. I hope you enjoy it.

Design Mom Interview

You obviously come from a talented family with a good eye for design and the like- is it just in the genes or did your parents purposefully create an environment where you were exposed to art, etc.?

I can’t wait to tell my Mom you think we’re all talented. She’ll be so proud! To answer your question, yes, I think it’s in our genes, and yes our parents created an artistic-friendly environment. I feel strongly that art and design and style can definitely be learned. And my parents taught us — I remember my parents letting me pick out wallpaper and light fixtures for my bedroom at age five.

She’ll deny it, but my mom has great style. I grew up eating dinner on a parsons table. She’d make bedding from Marimekko fabric. Our Christmas Tree was always stylish and interesting and never trendy. She kept great prints on the walls; I remember work from Jesse Wilcox Smith and sketches from Da Vinci. As you entered the house, a beautiful “tablescape” would greet you — some elegant composition of flowers and sculpture and candles and photography.

Dad also had a great eye for style and was always up for an entrepreneurial venture — he would have been all over blogging and social media. When we were teens, he understood the social currency of having a hip ride and kept us in cool vintage VWs. And he knew how to create cool adventures and experiences. Like, he’d take us into Tijuana and he’d help us find authentic hurache sandles or guayaberas.

A key thing I learned from my parents is that good style was not related to money. My dad was a public school teacher — not a major wage earner. But it didn’t matter. Our house was well-appointed and our wardrobes were doable, often the result of our elbow grease and ingenuity. We learned how to remake and revive vintage pieces.

What has been your favorite job / project you’ve been a part of as a designer or art director?

That’s a good question! One of my very favorites projects was called SmartNoise. SmartNoise was a language class company my husband started with some friends. I loved getting to work so closely with Ben on all design aspects of the company. I designed the office and classroom. The website and brochures. The logo and signage. Everything. And it was very good-looking. If I do say so myself (wink).

I hope this doesn’t come across wrong, but I’m curious: You showcase so many lovely things on Design Mom, and I wonder how you separate the aesthetic aspect from the material aspect so prevalent in our culture- do you ever get caught up in all that “stuff” and need to step back from it? Do you feel like you need to maintain a boundary somehow? Or does it not bother you?

Let's start with this: I don't own every product I feature. Not even close! And I would never want to — can you just imagine the clutter?

I can honestly say the "stuff" issue doesn't bother me. In reality I'm not a big shopper (although I realize that with 5 kids, a certain amount of shopping is just necessary to keep everyone clothed and fed). Instead, I'm typically quite content knowing something beautiful exists, without having to possess it. It's not uncommon for me to take a mom-only outing to Target where I walk around and put everything that inspires me into my cart. After I've had my fill, I leave the cart. And I head out the door without purchasing anything (sorry Target Team Member who has to put everything away!). I get more joy in knowing the thing exists than I do in owning the thing. Filling the cart isn’t like compiling a “wish-list” but more an act of being inspired and maybe expressing gratitude that people make beautiful things.

But I do get emails reprimanding me about tempting people to spend and I feel bad — I'm certainly not trying to get anyone to exceed their budget. I guess I think of my posts as celebrating something pretty with others, not telling people to “buy this”. Alternatively, I get emails looking for specific advice on a gift someone needs to purchase or a baby product and I feel lucky to have a good forum to share my suggestions.

What do you do to maintain a balanced life? What keeps you grounded? What are some of your other interests?

Family is my main interest. Design is my second interest. Other interests? From time to time I get really into eating right and trying to get fit. I love reading — I devour books, especially books that are being talked about. Design is kind of a big umbrella, which means it includes a lot of my interests — things like architecture, fresh flowers, interiors, fashion, product design, pretty stationery, pedicures, etc. In the summer I love a few days of really hard work in our yard and garden so that I can spend more time enjoying it. I think people are fascinating and I love good conversations.

As far as staying grounded goes, I hope the fact that I take my religion and spirituality seriously plays the biggest role. Prayer is a regular part of my day. Family prayer. Individual prayer. It's the main way I center myself if I'm getting stressed out. I try to have regular religious study and meditation/pondering, but I’m not as “religious” about this as I wish I was. Also, my brothers and sisters make fun of me, and each other, and that keeps us all pretty grounded.

Regarding a balanced life — Is there such a thing? Somedays I feel balanced. Others I'm completely out of whack. I'll let you know if I ever figure it out.

Obviously being a mom is a high priority for you (I’m sure that’s putting it mildly). I’m guessing that’s one of the reasons you decided to blog about design and motherhood. Your kids are really sweet, and it’s obvious that you and Ben are great parents. I love it when you post about some of the things you do with your kids and as a family.

It IS obvious that Ben and I are great parents, and THAT'S putting it mildly. Ha. Ha. You know I hope that Design Mom really does celebrate parenthood. I'm sure there's a narcissistic element to it, but I know both Ben and I check on the posts over and over again that involve our kids — especially pictures of them doing things. I hope that posts about what we do with our kids feel every bit at home on my blog as the other more design-centered posts. My sense is that I'm not schizophrenic, but motherhood and design are hopefully, ideally, integrated in how I organize my world.

What kind of environment do you try to create for your home?

That pointed question always makes Ben and me feel like failures. I think we have a pretty high standard in our heads, but it takes a while to make it to our home. We have tried to create a warm, nurturing, orderly, hard-working, creative, loving environment, but we have a ways to go. Ben is really conscientious about the environment of our home. He asks what the art around us is suggesting. What the books on our shelves convey. On our last over-nighter (it was a while ago) we spent probably 3 hours talking about what books and what types of books we want on our shelves. We are at least aware that our books aren't the ideal library we want our kids to remember — and admitting it is the first step to recovery.

These kinds of questions really get Ben going. When we were thinking about a family motto, we came up with something like, “We take care of each other. We take care of our bodies. We take care of our things.” So maybe caring is a cardinal virtue for our home environment that I somehow missed earlier.

What are some things you try to do on a regular basis with your family?

Play. Read every night. Ski (a few times during the winter). Walk (when the weather is good, we have a great walking neighborhood). Jump on the trampoline. Jump rope. Bike. Dance. Sing (Oscar likes to hold the swiffer like a microphone and sing "Burning down the House!"). It's pretty awesome. Swimming (my kids would go everyday, I still don't get what it is about swimming). A few times a year we like to go to the track and we LOVE it. Seriously, show up at the track and the world is yours. I'm surprised we don't do it more often. Chores — we have a chore chart and the 3 oldest are pretty good at doing them. Dinner. Watch TV. Field trips to Target or museums to see the pretty things. We do school-related creative projects regularly, and other creative projects once a month or so — often holiday related.

Friday, May 28, 2010

In the beginning...

Today is the first day of summer, i.e. the kids are out of school for the first full day of many to come and there's nothing I can do about it.

Their plans for the summer include a constant parade of swimming type activities, popsicles, snow cones, bike rides, hot dogs and no responsibility at all. I hate to break it to them, but there will be some responsibility and only a very, very few hot dogs, because hot dogs are bad for you. Bike rides will be encouraged, so things are good there.

Yelling and screaming and shrieking (of the joyous sort, you understand) will be confined to the basement. Other varieties are banned herewith, unless the mother of the crew is in for a nervous breakdown and needs a good cry (hint: I DON'T NEED EITHER).

It's sunny today, and that's a good sign.

And now I'm off to find a missing blanket. Wish me luck.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

On Teeth

My kindergartner has lost her second tooth in a week. I pulled it out this morning. Pulling teeth is not something I ever thought about doing. Except that I thought "yuck, I will not do that." It's something that fell firmly in Ben's category of "Things to Do." But I have done it now. It's not my favorite, but there you have it: I now pull teeth.

Last week's tooth made me feel a little sad and sentimental. Think of all the expectation that goes into the arrival of that first tooth. Thomas Lux captures the feeling well.

My nephew's first tooth would threaten to come in and then retreat a bit. Poor sweet boy. His teething was not a fun experience. But everyone around sure enjoyed looking at his red gums for a glimpse of a newly emerging pearl.

And this week losing teeth is just how it is. We're off to the races, and I need to make sure the tooth fairy has some good state quarters in her possession.

Yesterday Ben and I attended the temple. There was a sweet older woman helping there. She was concerned that I might go into labor at any moment. I assured her that I had a little time left and that the reason my hand was on my belly was because the baby was moving around (although, where else put your hands when pregnant and sitting down quietly?) and not because I was having contractions. (Cramps, she called them. Hmm. Cramps. If I'm heading into labor I am not experiencing cramps, it's definitely Something Else.)

The woman was pleased to hear that my baby was just tumbling inside and not going to cause any of us immediate problems.

Of course in a while he'll be growing teeth. And then a little while longer he'll be losing them. And then growing bigger ones, that may need braces. There's a little bit of pain all around, isn't there. And some joy in the progression, too.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ten {10}

Things I know after being married for 10 years:

I'm so glad I married Ben.
{Hi, Ben!}

Ben isn't perfect.
And neither am I.

Just because you have a good marriage doesn't mean it's not a work in progress.

Our marriage is good.
And it is still a work in progress.

A good marriage isn't based on having your needs met 100%.
Nor is it about meeting the needs of your spouse 100%.
{Which is good, because who can do that?}

A lot of what makes a good marriage is working together, showing mutual affection, and giving each other a break.
{Thanks for the breaks. And the mutual affection. Etc.}

As you've read, Ben is rather incredible.

I really do love Ben.
{Really, truly.}

Happy Anniversary, Ben.
Not only do I love you, I love you Tremendously.

{Yes. Capital T.}

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Together {9}

This may be stating the obvious, but I like to be around Ben. I like going around with Ben doing whatever it is we need to get done. I like the random conversations that come up. I just like being with him.

Our current stage of life (many small-ish children, no built-in babysitter) makes it necessary to adopt more of a divide and conquer policy than we previously had, when we were free to grocery shop and run all kinds of mundane errands together. It's kind of a bummer, and as soon as our oldest gets a little older, I plan to take full advantage of her availability to watch the other kids.

Ben and I have been together in Provo, Seattle, New York, Paris, Rome, and many other decidedly less romantic places (note: I'm not saying that Provo is on par with Paris; it's not. But it is where we dated, etc.) But whether we are in Provo or Paris, I enjoy the the location all the more because of who I'm with.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Notes {8}

When we were engaged Ben wrote me a little letter on pink paper. Then he lost it. And so he wrote another one, also on pink paper.

There seems to be something important about writing down feelings and loves and likes you have about someone and then giving it to them so they can see what it is that makes you love them. Sometimes you can write things that don't normally show up in regular conversations. {Which I suppose is one of my reasons for these blog posts.}

Ben found both notes the next day and gave them to me. I loved both of them, even though they each said basically the same thing, there were some differences and I still have them, tucked away somewhere. Also, as a back up, I copied them down in my journal because I didn't want to lose them.

Engagements can be stressful and those little words were a small oasis during a stressful week. Life is stressful, and I think we can all use those little words to get us through. It makes me regret that the time of letters is more or less over.

Besides the pink notes I have a few emails from Ben from when we first met, printed out and also tucked away, a little sticky note from valentine's day, a little bit of ephemera that reminds me, even though I already know it, that Ben loves me. And I love that.

Post Script: Also, when we lived in New York and Ben would go down into the city for the day for school he would mail me cheesy NY postcards. It seriously was the best.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Faith {7}

The most important thing to me is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It encompasses all I truly love and care about. It therefore stands to reason that one of the things I am grateful for in Ben is his testimony of the Gospel, his love of the temple and the scriptures and his willingness to serve our Heavenly Father.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Read {6}

At this very moment Ben is reading the kids Fablehaven Book 3. They love to have him read to them. And he does read to them. A lot. My kids adore their dad. When he comes home they all yell and run to him, jumping on him, trying to tell him everything that has happened during the day. They can't get enough of him.

I heartily agree with that sentiment.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Laugh, pt. deux {5}

Not only do I like to see Ben laugh, but he consistently makes me laugh. If there is someone you know who makes you laugh, I generally suggest keeping them around for as long as you can.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mind {4}

Ben is brilliant. If you have been around Ben anytime at all you have an inkling of this.

To quote a friend who quoted a movie "truly, [he] has a dizzying intellect." {Fortunately he does not use his brains to start wars between countries or to kidnap poor women named Buttercup. He is smart enough to know never to go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line, but could probably handle it if he had to. I have been grateful for all of these things.}

And so it must be said that (among other things) I love him for his mind.