Friday, December 9, 2011

Always reaching for the stars...

I'm taking one of my friend Shannon's ideas. I hope we are all trying to do our very best all the time. But I know sometimes, I get complacent, comfortable, and I need to stretch. So here's how I'm going to keep myself stretching for the next few years... It's called "101 goals in 1001 days." That's pretty self-explanatory. So I'm going to post my goals here, and you readers can keep me accountable! It's been really hard to come up with 101, but "76 goals in 1001 days" doesn't look as good!

1. Complete a kindergarten homeschool curriculum.
2. Write in my journal every day for at least a month.
3. Toss, give away or sell half of the stuff in my storage unit.
4. Get my 3 month food storage.
5. Become a Star Consultant.
6. Read through the entire Book of Mormon again.
7. Pay off my WF credit card.
8. Be more active in the next election than I've ever been.
9. Read a new book a week for 3 months.
10. Practice piano for 15 minutes every day for a fortnight.
11. Learn to waltz.
12. Complete a 1st grade homeschool curriculum.
13. Learn the first verse of every song in the Children's Songbook.
14. Lose at least 15 pounds before I get pregnant again.
15. Gain no more than 25 pounds with the next pregnancy.
16. Lose that weight within the first year of that baby's life.
17. Go to Seminar 2010.
18. Go to the temple 5 days in a row.
19. Go to the temple once a week for a month.
20. Connect with my family tree on New Family Search.
21. Grow a vegetable from seed to edible end.
22. Pay off car loan.
23. Pay off all credit cards. Then chop them. Or burn them. Oh, that sounds fun...
24. Learn to crochet.
25. Make a dress for myself.
26-28. Teach all my children to read. (Except if another baby is born, that baby is exempt.)
29. Learn to make a souffle'.


This is a post I started over 2 years ago.  I couldn't think of 76 goals, even, much less 101. However, I have accomplished some of these things! I copied the list below, and crossed out the ones I did.

1. Complete a kindergarten homeschool curriculum.
2. Write in my journal every day for at least a month. I've written a lot more often, at least.
3. Toss, give away or sell half of the stuff in my storage unit.
4. Get my 3 month food storage. Thanks, Mom and Dad!
5. Become a Star Consultant. I was, for one quarter!
6. Read through the entire Book of Mormon again. Still working on it. But I've read it every day, one chapter, for the last 2 months!
7. Pay off my WF credit card.
8. Be more active in the next election than I've ever been. Election hasn't happened, but I've become much more vocal about my political views. What, you don't know what they are? I said I was better, not perfect! Feel free to ask or engage in debate with me. :)
9. Read a new book a week for 3 months.
10. Practice piano for 15 minutes every day for a fortnight.
11. Learn to waltz.
12. Complete a 1st grade homeschool curriculum.
13. Learn the first verse of every song in the Children's Songbook.
14. Lose at least 15 pounds before I get pregnant again. Actually it was at least 30!
15. Gain no more than 25 pounds with the next pregnancy. Unrealistic goal... but I didn't gain more than 35, and lost most of it within the first 6 months after. See below.
16. Lose that weight within the first year of that baby's life.
17. Go to Seminar 2010. Life happened. Oh well.
18. Go to the temple 5 days in a row. Forgot about this one!
19. Go to the temple once a week for a month. I can do this one!!! I live super close to a temple again.
20. Connect with my family tree on New Family Search. I at least logged in.
21. Grow a vegetable from seed to edible end.
22. Pay off car loan. Getting it repossessed counts, right? I still had to pay off what they couldn't get back from the sale...
23. Pay off all credit cards. Then chop them. Or burn them. Oh, that sounds fun... I did it. Then I got one more. Will fix!
24. Learn to crochet.
25. Make a dress for myself.
26-28. Teach all my children to read. (Except if another baby is born, that baby is exempt.) She's not far behind, though!
29. Learn to make a souffle'. Oh, yeah! I'm confident in my abilities.

So, as you can see, I did pretty well! I may try to do this again. I probably won't come up with 101 again, unless perhaps I detail completing each course for the nursing program... We'll see.  But setting goals is important! And even though I wrote this and pretty much forgot it for two years, writing it down had enough impact to have most stick in my head and get done, even though it wasn't conscious complete-the-list actions.

Your turn! The classic time for setting goals is coming up... why not start now?  If you get to 101, let me know! I might borrow some ideas from your list!!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Goodbye, Sucker!

Okay, I have been a horrible, no-good, lazy bum of a blogger for the last few months. But it's only because I have been the exact opposite in my real life. More updates on that later. That said, I just had to blog about this!

You know that feeling you get when you've lost something? Something really important? Something so important you can't imagine how life will go on without it? Remember that panicky, short-of-breath feeling as you imagine the horrors that will ensue if you don't find it? Yup. That was me tonight.

Why? We couldn't find a pacifier at bedtime.

Most parents of little ones can tell you the importance of pacifiers. They're miracle workers, really. They give you 5 extra minutes to get food ready, shut off the crying that happens for unknown reasons, and enable you to be by yourself for 3 minutes to use the bathroom.

But eventually, you have to get rid of them.

There are "nice" ways to do it.  There's the pacifier fairy, who takes old pacifiers, recycles them somehow and gives them to new babies who "really need them."  There's having "the talk;" you know, pacifiers are for babies, and you're a big kid now, it's time to move on. Or sometimes you just have to bribe them.

Or sometimes you just lose the last one, and there is no other option.

Bring on the panic.

This is not the first time I've done it this way. With my first girl, who has now successfully made it to 8 sans pacifier, this was how we did it too. One major difference? She was a whole year older.  Baby L is just 1 year old! She probably wouldn't understand the concept of Paci Fairy, "the talk" is useless, and you could bribe her, but she probably wouldn't make the connection.  (Although I have to say, I'm fairly certain she's one of the smartest babies ever, as her list of accomplishments thus far include: saying "tut tut" to which I have to reply, "Looks like rain;" saying "ma-nah ma-nah" and then giggling; and rushing for the bathroom the minute I make eye contact with her, laughing maniacally all the way. So if any baby would understand, it would be her.) So what do you do?

Let her cry a little.

Oh, how I dreaded it. I had one child (4-T) on the couch already asleep, and one more wishing she could go to bed too.  I was SURE, absolutely POSITIVE, she would be crying for at least an hour.  Oh, the tears, the agony, the suffering!  But she was so tired... So I put her to bed, and proceeded to go over the house as with a fine-tooth comb, looking in every nook, cranny, bucket, and drawer, likely or unlikely. I told myself, if I find it before she stops crying, I'll give it to her. If she stops crying before I find it, she'll just be done. And of course, what happened?

She cried.

For 5 minutes. MAYBE.

All 4 children are now in bed, sound asleep.

It's entirely possible that a mid-night awakening could be more drama for me.

Then again, maybe not.

And thus we learn that pacifiers are not essential to bedtime, like we tell ourselves. Nope. Our babies are amazing, and part of being a good parent, is learning when to let go and let them be amazing.

Good night, sweetie. You're amazing. I love you. -Mom

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Hymn Project: #267 How Wondrous and Great

How wondrous and great 
Thy works, God of praise!
How just, King of Saints, 
And true are thy ways!
Oh, who shall not fear thee
And honor thy name?
Thou only art holy,
Thou only supreme.

To nations long dark
Thy light shall be shown.
Their worship and vows 
Shall come to thy throne.
Thy truth and thy judgments 
Shall spread all abroad,
Till earth's ev'ry people
Confess thee their God.

 A very happy joyful tune, full of sweet, simple yet eloquent praise of God. I love the music of the 3rd line the best. What, you don't know what I mean? Go find a hymnbook and a piano! Or go to to listen!

Happy hymning!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Hymn Project: #301 I Am a Child of God

I am a child of God, 
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.

I am a child of God,
And so my needs are great;
Help me to understand his words
Before it grows too late.

I am a child of God,
Rich blessings are in store;
If I but learn to do his will
I'll live with him once more.

Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.

I love that our hymnbook has a few children's songs in it.  There are such beautiful, simple truths in songs written for children, and as children of God, we are never truly all grown up in this life. We all need to help each other, young and old. Everyone has something to teach.

How have you helped someone to know they're a child of God? How did you get your testimony that you are a child of God? Or is this a new concept for you?

Happy hymning!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Hymn Project: #223 Have I Done Any Good?

Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone's burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?
Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.

There are chances for work all around just now,
Opportunities right in our way.
Do not let them pass by, saying, "Sometime I'll try,"
But go and do something today.
'Tis noble of man to work and to give.
Love's labor has merit alone.
Only he who does something helps others to live.
To God each good work will be known.
Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.

Will L. Thompson, the author of both words and music, was a determined fellow! He was turned down by other music publishers, so he started his own publishing company. What grit!

Now, for a personal gripe.  There are several common mistakes made in this song. One, in lyrics: You only get one mansion in heaven. Do you really need more than one?  One in music: Someone, somewhere, waxed creative with an arrangement of this hymn, I am sure, and in the second half of the verse, decided it would be awesome to add some ritardandos and fermatas. That's nice for a choir or small group, but those things DON'T work with congregations, unless your entire congregation is made up of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Everyone gets individual, and some are faster or slower, and it drags drags drags. It's a happy song! Sing it uptempo, and straight through as written. You'll see. /End rant.

It's a good song. Go do something like the hymn suggests! Report back and tell me what you did.

Happy hymning!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Hymn Project: #222 Hear Thou Our Hymn, O Lord

First, let me say, I have not been slacking. At least as far as hymn learning goes. But I've been too busy to blog! To reduce confusion, I will post date the ones I'm behind on, even though I'm doing all the posts in one day.

Hear thou our hymn, O Lord,
With thankful hearts we pray.
Help us thy will to follow now,
And walk the narrow way.

Keep thou our hearts aglow
With thy eternal word.
Give us thy S[irit ev'ry hour,
We ask thee gracious Lord.

Short, sweet and to the point.  Music and words by the same guy, Frank W. Asper.  He was a MoTab organist for a while (pre-Clay Christiansen?) and wrote 7 other hymns that I will be memorizing:

  • 132 - God Is in His Holy Temple - music[4]
  • 176 - 'Tis Sweet to Sing the Matchless Love - music[5]
  • 189 - O Thou, Before the World Began - music[6]
  • 222 - Hear Thou Our Hymn, O Lord - words and music[7]
  • 245 - This House We Dedicate to Thee - music[8]
  • 257 - Rejoice! A Glorious Sound Is Heard - music[9]
  • 323 - Rise Up, O Men of God (Men's Choir) - music[10]

Happy hymning!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Hymn Project: #34 O Ye Mountains High

O ye mountains high, where the clear blue sky
Arches over the vales of the free,
Where the pure breezes blow and the clear streamlets flow,
How I've longed to thy bosom to flee!
O Zion! dear Zion! land of the free,
Now my own mountain home, unto thee I have come;
All my fond hopes are centered in thee.

Tho the great and the wise all thy beauties despise,
To the humble and pure thou art dear; 
Tho the haughty may smile and the wicked revile, 
Yet we love thy glad tidings to hear.
O Zion! dear Zion! home of the free,
Tho thou were forced to fly to the chambers on high,
Yet we'll share joy and sorrow with thee.

In thy mountain retreat, God will strengthen thy feet; 
Without fear of thy foes thou shalt tread; 
And their silver and gold, as the prophets have told, 
Shall be brought to adorn thy fair head.
O Zion! dear Zion! home of the free, 
Soon thy towers shall shine with a splendor divine,
And eternal thy glory shall be.

Here our voices we'll raise, and we'll sing to thy praise,
Sacred home of the prophets of God.
Thy deliv'rance is nigh; thy oppressors shall die; 
And thy land shall be freedom's abode.
O Zion! dear Zion! land of the free,
In thy tenmples we'll bend, all thy rights we'll defend;
And our home shall be ever with thee.

Would it surprise you to know a topic for this hymn is Zion? Ha ha ha, I'd be surprised if you were surprised!  Doesn't this paint a great picture of Zion?  A place of refuge and safety, freedom and beauty. The worldly will dismiss and joke about it, but to the faithful, it will be most lovely. I can hardly wait!

Author tidbit: Charles W. Penrose almost spent more time serving missions in England than he did at home, but managed to parent almost 30 children, 15 of which lived to adulthood. Impressive!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Hymn Project: #3 Now Let Us Rejoice

Now let us rejoice in the day of salvation.
No longer as strangers on earth need we roam.
Good tidings are sounding to us and each nation,
And shortly the hour of redemption will come,
When all that was promised the Saints will be given,
And none will molest them from morn until ev'n,
And earth will appear as the Garden of Eden,
And Jesus will say to all Israel, "Come home."

We'll love one another and never dissemble,
But cease to do evil and ever be one.
And when the ungodly are fearing and tremble,
We'll watch for the hour when the Savior will come,
When all that was promised the Saints will be given,
And none will molest them from morn until ev'n,
And earth will appear as the Garden of Eden,
And Jesus will say to all Israel, "Come home."

In faith we'll rely on the arm of Jehovah
To guide through these last days of trouble and gloom,
And after the scourges and harvest are over,
We'll rise with the just when the Savior doth come.
Then all that was promised the Saints will be given,
And they will be crown'd with the angels of heav'n,
And earth will appear as the Garden of Eden,
And Christ and his people will ever be one.

Another great by W. W. Phelps. He's super about writing hymns that talk about the Second Coming. Must've been on his mind a lot. Here's an interesting tidbit about his life: He was excommunicated and rebaptized twice. Never say the Lord doesn't give us second chances!

I like this hymn because it is so joyful, and positive. The early saints knew from personal experience what it was like to be "molest[ed] from morn until ev'n," and I'm sure the idea of any respite from that was lovely to contemplate. We don't always have the open opposition from people around us these days (though some do), but we each face opposition from the Adversary, and just from the basic challenges of mortal life, so we can find peace in that concept too.

Topics: Enduring to the End, Faith, Jesus Christ-- Second Coming, Joy (see also Cheerfulness), Millennium (see also Zion), Unity.

I think you can learn a lot from the topics a hymn relates to, especially if you haven't thought of it that way before. Try it! Then after you've discovered topics, you can find a scripture and start a chain for your scripture study.

Happy hymning!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Hymn Project: #227 There is Sunshine in My Soul Today

There is sunshine in my soul today,
More glorious and bright
Than glows in any earthly sky, 
For Jesus is my light.
Oh, there's sunshine, blessed sunshine
When the peaceful happy moments roll.
When Jesus shows his smiling face,
There is sunshine in the soul.

There is music in my soul today,
A carol to my King,
And Jesus listening can hear
The songs I cannot sing.
Oh, there's sunshine, blessed sunshine
When the peaceful happy moments roll.
When Jesus shows his smiling face,
There is sunshine in the soul.

There is springtime in my soul today,
For when the Lord is near,
The dove of peace sings in my heart,
The flow'rs of grace appear.
Oh, there's sunshine, blessed sunshine
When the peaceful happy moments roll.
When Jesus shows his smiling face,
There is sunshine in the soul.

There is gladness in my soul today,
And hope and praise and love,
For blessings which he gives me now,
For joys "laid up" above.
Oh, there's sunshine, blessed sunshine
When the peaceful happy moments roll. 
When Jesus shows his smiling face
There is sunshine in the soul.

I love this hymn. It has long been one of my favorites. The funny thing is, for the longest time I could never remember the first verse!  I knew all the others, but not the first. Ha! Well, I've fixed that now. I sing this song a lot. Sometimes I sing it because I have sunshine in my soul; sometimes I sing it because I want sunshine in my soul. :) And it rarely fails in making me happier, and sometimes, when I'm happy, singing it moves me to tears. Ah, emotions.

Here's an interesting tidbit for you.  These lyrics were written by a lady named Eliza E. Hewitt, who was an invalid for most of her life. And yet she continued to find joy through Christ! That is so inspiring. She also wrote a lot of other neat hymns. Look her up!

Topics: Gratitude, Joy, Music and Song

And it has an irregular meter! Yay!

Happy hymning!

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Hymn Project: #340 The Star-Spangled Banner

What better way to honor the day than with a patriotic hymn and anthem?

Oh say, can you see, by the dawn's early light, 
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming, 
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen thru the mists of the deep, 
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes ,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?  
How it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream;

'Tis the star-spangled banner!  Oh, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh, thus be it ever, when free men shall stand 
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation! 
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, 
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust!"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

I don't know about you, but growing up, I knew the words to this anthem, but I didn't really comprehend the meaning. It was just a bunch of words.  But you take it out of the music, and you can see there's a story in that first verse!  This wasn't written during the War for Independence, either. It was written during the War of 1812.  The American Patriotic Spirit had had time to soak in to every person who lived there; the flag meant something to them. They loved their country.  So to see it still waving over the fort in that early morning probably moved many people to tears, as this song still does today.

I have to say I also did not know the other 2 verses, and does that make me sad! They are so powerful and beautiful.  My favorite phrase I think, is in the 3rd verse: "Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just." Yup. No elaboration necessary, I think. (If you want some, tell me in a comment, and I will.)

So while you're having your party or picnic, salute that star-spangled banner, sing this song, and remember why we celebrate today, and think about how you would respond to a call to defend it once more.

Happy Independence Day!

And happy hymning!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Hymn Project: #38 Come, All Ye Saints of Zion

Come, all ye Saints of Zion, And let us praise the Lord;
His ransomed are returning, According to his word.
In sacred song and gladness They walk the narrow way, 
And thank the Lord who brought them To see the latter day.

Come, ye dispersed of Judah, Join in the theme and sing
With harmony unceasing The praises of our King, 
Whose arm is now extended, On which the world may gaze,
To gather up the righteous In these the latter days.

Rejoice, rejoice, O Israel, And let your joys abound!
The voice of God shall reach you Wherever you are found
And call you back from bondage, That you may sing his praise 
In Zion and Jerusalem, In these the latter days.

Then gather up for Zion, Ye Saints thruout the land, 
And clear the way before you, As God shall give command.
Tho wicked men and devils  Exert their pow'r 'tis vain, 
Since He who is eternal Has said you shall obtain.

Wow! Isn't that amazing! I figured out this melody without the piano, and it was powerful, then I played it and... just, WOW!  I couldn't stop smiling while I was singing, and it almost moved me to tears.  A couple of my favorite phrases:

"The voice of God shall reach you Wherever you are found."
"Tho wicked men and devils Exert their pow'r 'tis vain, Since He who is eternal Has said you shall obtain."

And the way the music is written, it makes me feel like there should be an exclamation point at the end of each verse.

 New favorite! Lost treasure! Beautiful!

Of course, it makes sense that a hymn like this would be written by a man like William W. Phelps, who wrote so many great hymns. And it's interesting to not that this was included in the first LDS hymnbook, put together by Emma Smith in 1835.

Go check it out!

Happy hymning!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Hymn Project: #28 Saints, Behold How Great Jehovah

Saints, behold how great Jehovah
Hath his blessings on you shed.
Zion ev'rywhere is growing
As the gospel light is spread!

Out of all past dispensations, 
God is bringing into one
Ev'ry truth by prophets spoken,
For the last days have begun.

Rise and lift up Zion's standard;
Tell our Father's children now:
Heaven's blessed King approaches;
All men must before him bow.

 This hymn is in the section of the hymnbook called Restoration, which comprises hymns 1 through 61, also known as the Restoration Hymns.  These are hymns that were either popular at the time of the Restoration (or the beginning of our church in the latter days) or were written at that time for those saints.  I can only imagine that those already disposed to music would feel an increase of inspiration for hymns at that time, when there was such an outflowing, and it was so new.

The scriptures for this hymn are:
Doctrine and Covenants 64:41-42 For, behold, I say unto you that Zion shall flourish, and the glory of the Lord shall be upon her; And she shall be an ensign unto the people, and there shall come unto her out of every nation under heaven.
Doctrine and Covenants 133:37-38 And this gospel shall be preached unto every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.  And the servants of God shall go forth, saying with a loud voice: Fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come;

Related Topics:  Jesus Christ--Second Coming; Missionary Work; Restoration of the Gospel; Truth; Zion.

I love this hymn! It's short and sweet, upbeat, talks about the Second Coming (one of my favorite topics), and is just happy! It was also a good start for memorizing, since it's so short. :)

Happy hymning!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Hymn Project: A Beginning

Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns.  --First Presidency Preface to the LDS Hymnbook 

The other day, my mom showed me a hymn that she remembered from her youth that hadn't been sung in a while.  (It was miraculously sung in church a couple of weeks later... what are the odds? The Lord Works in Mysterious Ways...)  It got me thinking about how many hymns are unfamiliar to me.  So I figured it out!

The final count, known to unknown was: 221 - 120! That's almost 2/3 that I know.

I categorized that by whether I knew the tune without playing. It was kind of hard on several of them to decide which category they should be in. I probably should have had 3 sections. Oh well. Hindsight and what not.

Now, I know a lot. I also know that the majority of our church members don't know as many as I do.  I didn't include lyrics in my decision because as an organist, I'm more concerned naturally with the music than the words, and I started young on that (at age 14 I was called to be ward organist).  And I know that the number and which of the hymns people know is a lot based on their age. I bet for the average youth, the statistic would at least be reversed, if not totally skewed in the other direction.  That is a tragedy! There are so many great hymns, both in music and message (341, in my opinion, haha) and we're all missing out! (If you know all the hymns, up to and including at least the first verse of every hymn in the hymnal, speak now, and I will humbly honor you... no? Thought not.)

So I've decided to learn them all!  My minimum criteria is as follows:

-Be able to play the hymn through without mistakes
-Be able to sing the melody without accompaniment
-Memorize the first verse
-Know the number of each hymn, and the hymn of each number

For those songs which I already meet the criteria for, I will:
-Memorize all the verses
-Learn all the parts, and memorize the alto

Yes, I think that is sufficient.  I will do a hymn per day, and in this way should be finished in just under a year.

As a way of tracking my progress, each day I will post about the hymn I learned, including the scriptures associated with it, the topics it applies to, and any interesting stories that might go along with them.

I'm both incredibly intimidated and excited about my new project. You don't have to crazy like I am, but I encourage you to also assess where you are in hymn knowledge, and endeavor to expand that, even by only one hymn.

P.S. To my friends of other faiths: Hey! We share some hymns! Look for those, especially. But you will see that most of our hymns praise Christ in some fashion or other. And of course I welcome all comments!

Happy hymning!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Extra! Extra! Lorelai Crawls! (Sort of)

Today, Lorelai crawled across the floor! She was trying to get my phone. Mom calls it creeping, you may call it army crawling... doesn't matter really, the point is, she moved! I tried to upload this video to Facebook, but our internet is abominably slow. So here it is! It's about 7 minutes long, but so much fun!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Finding the Joy Again

For the past while, I've been feeling... Not so great about being a mom. Most of the time, I felt ambiguous at best, and, at worst, like running away and leaving them behind. This is really off for me, as I've wanted to be a mom since I was old enough to know I could be someday. Also, while every mother has those moments, or even days, when she wishes life were different, it was now the rule for me instead of the exception.

For a long time, I don't think I even noticed. Then I recognized it, but I was still too bogged down in my own drama to try to change anything. Then it started to bug me, but because I couldn't see how to change, I just felt worse. Then it bothered me enough that I wanted to change enough to put forth whatever effort was required. Then I hit my knees and prayed... And help started coming at me in rapid fire succession!

First came comments from other mothers (real and fictional) who not only loved their kids, and being with them, but almost basked in their childish craziness! Yeah, right, I thought.

Then I had a really bad day with them, and my mom said something like, "They're languishing from lack of attention from their mother." Ouch. So I cried and prayed some more.

On Sunday, the lesson was based on the talk by Elder Oaks on Desire. Through the lesson, I realized that my actions weren't reflecting what I wanted my priorities to be, and I didn't feel the way I wanted to feel about my life. Luckily, I also learned how to fix it!

"... We should begin with a desire for such qualities and call upon our loving Heavenly Father for help with our feelings."

So I did. And I'm happy to report that I have made a lot of progress this last week in rediscovering my love for my children and motherhood, my good temper, my personal parenting style, and the ability to hear and act on in-the-moment inspiration. I've been able, perhaps for the first time, to successfully balance loving affection with firm, gentle discipline, and see the rewards. I'm grateful to finally be on the right path.

I know Heavenly Father loves me. He knows who I am capable of becoming, and how to get me there. He stands ready and willing to help me as soon as I'm ready to ask for it. I'm grateful for the Atonement, and how it allows me to sponge away the follies and sins of my past and create a better, brighter future.

Here's a link to the talk by Elder Oaks:

Elder Oaks - Desire
- Arienne

Monday, June 13, 2011

So you think I'm picky?

Picky adj choosy, finicky, captious, critical, dainty, fastidious, fussy, particular, persnickety, exacting, selective, hard to please

So you think I'm picky, huh? My standards are too high? I expect too much from men?

Dang straight! And I have good reasons!

First of all, I've experienced some of the worst in men. Not THE worst, I know, but bad enough to teach me that I WASN'T picky enough last time. There's NO WAY I'm going through THAT again.

And I have four other very good reasons to be picky. They need a strong, good role model of what being a man is supposed to be, and also how women should be treated.

So yes, I expect a man to:
* Do the asking and planning of a date
* Open my doors and pull out my chairs for me
* Pay for the date
* Honor his priesthood
* Have a solid knowledge of the Gospel
* Go to his church meetings as often as possible
* Have a strong testimony
* Be well-educated, whether through a degree or self-educating
* Take care of his body by eating well and exercising
* Love children
* Expect the norm to be me staying home with the kids while he works
* Take me to the temple
* Think I'm the most beautiful woman in the world.
* Care about what I have to say, and show it.

There may be more on my list I just can't think of right now.  I'll add comments as I think of them.

But I am not ashamed of the things on my list.

And if you can't handle it, you aren't the man for me.


/rant over

Monday, May 30, 2011

Today's Adventure: Climbing the Playset (and not like you think)

Kael has always been my mountain goat. Elizabeth got stopped by a pile of laundry; Kael climbed over it. Kael also knows how to climb the supports for the patio, and was the first to climb the wall in the backyard.  Today, he thought he could climb across the playset.  You know, the part that holds the swings up? Yup.  And then he thought he'd shinny down the rope for a different kind of swing at the end. Didn't quite work that way.

So there I am in the kitchen, getting my breakfast ready, when I hear these yells from outside. Come to find out it's Kael, at the end of the swingset bar, freaked out and "stuck." I put that in quotes because that's what he  thought, but he really wasn't. I ended up coaching him to go backwards. He was freaked out at first, but he grew more confident, and did finally make it back. He said, "Mom, I was really scared! I'll never do that again."

Elizabeth said, "I'm never doing that."

Good, but... yeah, right.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lorelai @ 6 months!

6 months ago today, I received my very own angel from heaven. I can't believe it's been 6 months already! Here's a collage of her first 5 months.

The big one is of course one of the hospital pictures. Then it goes chronologically top to bottom, then left to right: Blessing Day, First family picture day, I'm Blue, Pose for Grandpa Jay, and I Can Roll Over!

She's come so far from that stint in the hospital! To give you an idea, Elizabeth (my tiny one) was always at least one size behind her age until just this last year. Lorelai, on the other hand, is already fitting into 9 month and 12 month clothes at just 6 months!!! She's delightfully chubby, and often fat and happy the way a baby should be. She started solids at 4 months. So far she's had egg yolk, cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, pears, peaches, beef gravy, pineapple and peas, all with great success. Today she gets to have bananas for the first time. I'm sure they'll be a hit! It's hard to get her to drink her bottle, because she's so distractable and it's not her favorite thing, but heaven knows I get as much in her as I can. Then I fill her up with solids after. (For more information on my baby feeding plan, check out Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.)

She rolls hither and yon, mostly in one direction. (When she hits a wall, we turn her around!) She is starting to do the other direction too, it's just not her favorite. And we can't really keep her on her back for very long. She's starting to get her feet under her, and we all anticipate (excitedly or anxiously, as the case may be) a crawler very soon. She can sit up for a few seconds at a time by herself, but she's so busy, it doesn't last long. As one sister from church said, "Her bottom is still too rounded." LOL

She still sleeps through the night for me, as she has since she was 1 month old, though her naps leave something to be desired, and her morning wake up time is atrociously early. Her brown hair is slowly falling out or fading, and she'll likely be blond by her first birthday. Her eyes are now a clear, bright blue, with divine curly brown eyelashes. And when she smiles, which she does regularly, it brightens the room. (It's a little harder to make her laugh though... tough crowd!)

She's changed a lot, and she's got a lot of change ahead of her yet in this first year, but I'm grateful every day that she is a part of our family, and I know she will bring many blessings to us all.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

To Mothers Everywhere

To all mothers--



New mothers
Old mothers


Mothers of many
Mothers of few
Mothers of none and everyone

Those surrounded by family
Those surrounded by friends
Those going it alone

Those who stay home
Those who work away
Those who do both

Those who seem perfect
Those who obviously aren't
Those who keep trying anyway

Mothers with many resources
Mothers with few resources
Mothers who sacrifice all they have

For all women, everywhere
Past, present, future
Because we are all mothers

Blessed with
A sacred calling
A solemn honor
A gleaming glory

At times
A wrenching heartbreak
A drowning sorrow
A flood of tears

But always
A thrilling happiness
A quiet gratitude
A soaring joy

To Mothers Everywhere
Whoever you are
For everything you do

We love you!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dirt and the second amendment

"Mom, he threw rocks at me!"
"Mom, she's throwing dirt at me!"
"Mooooooooooooooooom, he threw dirt in my eeeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!"

Familiar dialogue to all parents, and some who aren't, I'd wager. Well, we got tired of it one day, and told the kids, "Well, do it back to him!"  Not Christlike, I know. We went back to the lower law for a little while; you know, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. But the results were interesting.  Soon, there wasn't as much complaining, and eventually not so much doing.  I figure it's like the second amendment and gun control.

We tried to tell them "No throwing rocks!" "No throwing dirt!" "No hitting!" etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. So one would try to obey, and the other would throw anyway. But when we made it (temporarily) okay to hit back, suddenly, there was a real and immediate consequence - they could do the same to you! "Hm, if I throw these rocks at her, she might throw them at me, and that would hurt. I guess I won't throw them."
The second amendment was put in place to ensure that the people would have protection from any evil element, large or small, by supplying them with a way to defend themselves, without having to wait for help from someone else (like the government). 

Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.   Thomas Jefferson's "Commonplace Book,"

Later, we decided to let them play in a box of potting soil that was in the backyard. We'd been trying to keep them out of it for weeks, but inevitably, someone would get into it again. So finally we said, "Okay, we want you to go and get as dirty as you possibly can. Put it in your hair, down your shirt, down your pants. See who can get the dirtiest."  So they did. This was the result:

They had a FABULOUS time! (Elizabeth won, by the way- she had some in her UNDERWEAR!!!)  And guess what? No one has played in there since, and it's been 2 weeks.

What does this teach us? That banning something from someone only makes it more appealing to the type that want to do it/use it anyway, and you're creating criminals out of people who do it by accident, or only occasionally, or might use whatever it is responsibly.  THIS is freedom!  Stupid people are going to be stupid no matter what rules or laws you give them, and sometimes they will be MORE STUPID because of the law! (Relate to gun control, and let us all remember prohibition.) Here's a quote:

Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage then to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.
--- Thomas Jefferson, quoting 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria in "On Crimes and Punishment", 1764

I love how our kids can teach us these basic lessons on freedom, choice and consequences, just by being themselves. (And yes, we took the time to teach them a lesson too.) Luckily, our kids are capable of learning and choosing more wisely in the future, but they cannot get there on their own. We, their parents, grandparents, extended family members and community must teach them.

Some more quotes on such things:

I am convinced we can do to guns what we've done to drugs: create a multi-billion dollar underground market over which we have absolutely no control.
--- George L. Roman

 Banning gun shows to reduce violent crime will work about as well as banning auto shows to reduce drunken driving.
--- Bill McIntire, Spokesman for the National Rifle Association, on Norfolk, Va. council's vote to cancel four gun shows, 1992

It's the misfortune of all Countries, that they sometimes lie under an unhappy necessity to defend themselves by Arms against the ambition of their Governors, and to fight for what's their own. If those in government are heedless of reason, the people must patiently submit to Bondage, or stand upon their own Defence; which if they are enabled to do, they shall never be put upon it, but their Swords may grow rusty in their hands; for that Nation is surest to live in Peace, that is most capable of making War; and a Man that hath a Sword by his side, shall have least occasion to make use of it.
--- John Trenchard and Walter Moyle

The rifle is the weapon of democracy... If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns... Only the government - and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws.
--- Edward Abbey

The world is filled with violence. Because criminals carry guns, we decent law-abiding citizens should also have guns. Otherwise they will win and the decent people will loose.
--- James Earl Jones

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sometimes You Leave (Moving On)

Today, I looked in the mirror and recognized myself for the first time in a long time.

Last summer, I found myself doing something I never expected or wanted to do - walking away from my marriage. And while I knew I was doing what the Lord wanted me to do, I struggled with why that was the right decision.

Anyone who knows anything about me, knows that music is an important part of who I am. If you really know me, you know it's not just important; it's essential. It's how I process life. So of course I've been looking for the right song. Last week I found it.

Sometimes You Leave
Carrie Underwood

All the rain drops
In the sky tonight
Can't compare with all the pain
And all the tears I've cried
But now I'm done

All the make-believe
Locked in this picture frame
Is gonna stay behind
Along with all the burning rage
That's been tearing through my heart
Killing me slowly; every beat I was falling apart

Sometimes you give
Sometimes they take
Sometimes you bend and
Sometimes they break you down
Sometimes you stick around
Trying to change them, make them
Something that they'll never be
And sometimes you leave

All this time I've spent
Staring at the door
I never had the strength to
Pack my bags and leave before
But now I'm done
Been lying to myself when it's clear
That you're not the one

Sometimes you give
Sometimes they take
Sometimes you bend and
Sometimes they break you down
Sometimes you stick around
Trying to change them, make them
Something that they'll never be
And sometimes you leave

When there's nothing left to leave behind
And you're already too far gone to say goodbye

Sometimes you give
Sometimes they take
Sometimes you bend and
Sometimes they break you down
Sometimes you stick around
Trying to change them, make them
Something that they'll never be
And sometimes you leave
Sometimes you leave

Yep. Can't say it better. And after some pondering and praying, I finally came to peace. Then I looked in the mirror and recognized myself for the first time in years. And I smiled.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Adventures in Potty Training

So in January I decided I'd had enough dilly-dallying from Tristan about going potty on the toilet. In an act of desperation, I asked my Facebook friends for help and suggestions. My MK girl, Louisa, told her story of how last year she set aside a week and just threw every potty training trick or suggestion she'd ever heard at her son, and it sounded so good. I decided to give it a go. (Haha, I kill me.)

So I went to the store, bought a potty chair, candy, stickers and some new undies for him (Toy Story 3!). I picked the week my parents would be gone because, let's be honest, you should only have to potty train your own children. That Monday morning, I laid down a tarp on the floor in front of the TV, put the potty chair on it, stripped him naked, and sat him down. I explained the rules: If you go #1, you get candy (as do we all, to encourage encouragement). Go #2, and you get to play the DS (which he loves!). It wasn't long before he was milking the system, going #1 just enough to get a candy, then going again 5-10 minutes later. I felt manipulated and exhausted by the end of that day, but this had to be done! So I persevered.

Day 2 was much like the first, except we gave him the cloth training pants. I was quickly running out of candy, and decided to switch to stickers for Day 3. There were a lot of wet pants.

Day 3 I let him have a T-shirt too. The stickers seemed to have the effect I wanted, of making him only go when he really needed to. Still a lot of accidents, but he went long periods of time between accidents.

Days 4-7 were more of the same. The only change was he started to go in his pants, and then would say to me, "Mommy, go pee!" which translates to, "Mommy, I'm going pee!" to which I would say, "Well, go to the potty then!" And he would finish on the potty. That gave me hope.

Sunday I was ready to give up, and prove that he would indeed be wearing diapers in kindergarten, when he showed me! It wasn't an accident-free day, but he stayed dry through at least 2 trips to the potty, even at church, even in pull-ups! I thought to myself, Maybe this will work.

The next week, I was unable to continue my part of the training because I was in the hospital with Lorelai (which is a whole other post), but Mom and Rhydon and several of the people who took care of the kids that week kept up with it, and he continued to progress. By the time I got back, Tristan had earned his first pair of underwear (10 stickers which meant 10 trips to the potty staying dry), and was going in the bathroom, alternating between the chair and the regular toilet.

Now here we are, 6 weeks later, and he stays dry at night, and hasn't had an accident in weeks. Today, we are had a Potty Party for Tristan, and gave him his final prizes - the rest of his big boy underwear, and a super soft kitty from Granmama. I look back and remember feeling like he would never be potty-trained, and now he's the big boy I knew he could be. I'm so proud of my little guy!


So the last week of January, I spent in the hospital.

I had taken Lorelai to her doctor appointment that morning, expecting a good report. She'd been having issues gaining weight like she "should" but I was sure she had grown that week.  The first month, I fed her myself completely. The second month, I started pumping, and giving her a little formula if she still seemed hungry after eating. Two weeks later, we upped the calorie count in the formula. But it was not enough. So they sent her to the hospital, and I went with her!

I was wracked with worry, guilt, and even fear.  I was so sure I could do it this time. I thought I had figured out all the problems. And yet she wasn't growing.  Failure-to-thrive  is a term that can stop any mother's heart, and that's what I was hearing from the doctors.

I was blessed to be visited by several people from church, and even an old friend, while I was at the hospital. Lor and I both got blessings, hers to be healthy, and me to be comforted.  I'm so grateful for those good people and their service. And I'm grateful for all the thoughts and prayers given on our behalf by the ward and all my friends.

We spent a week, and they did every test they could think of to test her metabolism, blood counts, what have you. I had to stop feeding her because it was too tiring for her and she wouldn't eat enough that way. I'm not one of those women that could feed a whole passel of children, or soaked through nursing pads several times inbetween feedings. I knew that if I stopped feeding her, I would lose my supply.  But every time I tried, she lost weight. In the end, I decided it was reflux, and started giving her the medication (baby Zantac), but it was too late. She was too weak, and I was losing the supply. I took every natural supplement I could, so I could make it last as long as possible, but I knew it wouldn't be long.

She gained a pound that week at the hospital.  She gained 3 oz the next week, and 7 oz the week after that. Today, I finally do not have to go to the doctor first thing in the morning, which is good, because she didn't feel well over the weekend, and therefore didn't eat well, and it would have reflected poorly.  She's awake and alert when she should be, and sleeps when she should. She still urps all over the place, but she keeps more down every day, and I'm confident we're on a good path now.

I still wrestle with my role in what happened. There are days when I'm hard on myself about what I could or should have done, was I too stubborn, was I not tenacious enough, why didn't I see the signs.  I try to find that silver lining, though, and the main one is that I've now entered the realm of motherhood where I'm more sure of myself, and I will not let them bully me about her weight gain. I'm pretty well convinced she's just meant to be small, and as long as she's growing a little, and developing like she should, I can stand up to them (because sometimes doctors are too by-the-book).  And my other kids turned out all right with formula.  We'll be okay.

Book Review: Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald

Wow! I loved this book! It is full of clever sayings, and laugh-out-loud situations.  I think Mom, Rhydon and I enjoyed it more than the kids, even though it was supposed to be a part of Elizabeth's schoolwork. ......

I loved this book so much, I wanted more! Apparently I am not the only one, since there are 4 more books about this strange, wonderful little lady: Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle; Happy Birthday, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle; The Magic of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle; and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Farm.  While they follow the unfortunate tradition of none being better than the first, they were fun and entertaining.  You've GOT to read it! This particular one is more practical and reality-based than some of the others, so you might even get some good parenting tips, too! I know I did!!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Help McKenna

This is a repost of my friend's blog post. Used with permission.

(portrait provided by her family)

Dear Readers,
   I’m interrupting my normal posting of recipes to share with you this story that is very true and very serious. This story is dear to my heart because I know her and her family personally and I know personally how hard health problems can be!  McKenna and her family are dear friends of ours. She is only 12 years old and she and her family have been dealing with her health problems for years. It has gotten so bad lately that she has had three near-fatal seizures in the last 6 months! McKenna and her families only hope is to get a medical dog that would help her prevent these seizures. The dog is ready and trained for McKenna, the only thing that they are waiting on, is the money. It cost $10,000 (US) to get this dog. If there is any way that you can help, even donating a couple of dollars, please do so here under McKenna Vogt. If you let me know (in a comment or email), I will do my best to come up with something for you in return. I am thinking of making an e-book with recipes or something, but if you have better ideas, let me know. This is not a hoax. This is a true life story. Usually you hear these stories but do not know whether they are of actual people in need and you don’t know where your money goes to. You would know in this case.  Please read the full story in McKenna’s mother’s exact words below:
Dear Friends and Family:
McKenna was diagnosed with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes on October 15, 2007.  After a stressful year of trying to regulate her blood sugars through a constant carb diet, and insulin shots, we were able to put her on a Diabetic Insulin Pump.  We had great hopes that this would “normalize” her life somewhat and regulate her sugars.  Since then we have found out that McKenna is very sensitive to insulin which makes it very difficult to regulate her blood sugars.  We have watched her struggle through school work, spending mass amounts of time in the nurses office and trying to keep up with her sugars that make her so ill.
One year ago, McKenna was watching tv with her grandmother and her mother, when she fell over, unable to move.  Her blood sugars had fallen so low that she was paralyzed.  We had no idea that is was a type of seizure, nor the damage that those cause.  We made adjustments worked closely with her doctor and did all that we could.
Recently, McKenna’s diabetes have caused some serious medical issues.   With her insulin sensitivity, we have found that it is an exhausting process.  We test her through the night, every two hours and then make adjustments.  This past July while at Girls’ Camp, McKenna’s blood sugar fell too low, she had a horrible seizure and she couldn’t breathe.   We were able to get her the help she needed and then we carried on with camp.  We had no idea, she should go to the hospital.  When we returned we went to the doctor and did all the necessary medical tests.  In October, she had another seizure and was placed in the hospital.  This time her blood sugars were too high and she went back into DKA (diabeticketoacidosis).  She was very ill.  They released her from the hospital, however we were not able to get her blood sugars down to the appropriate range and it took months to remove the ketones from her body.  She missed 31 days of school.  We then, under the direction of her Doctor, went through a battery of tests to try to figure out what is wrong with McKenna.  So far, we still have no answers.
Three weeks ago, we woke McKenna up to get ready for school.  We left the room and carried on about our business of getting ready.  We felt very uncomfortable, anxious, like something was wrong.  Tanya went in to check on McKenna who by then was completely paralyzed, lying on the floor, appearing as if she had had a stroke making a horrible sound because her mouth was paralyzed also.  She couldn’t respond and we knew she was having a horrible seizure.  We called 911, we gave her glucose and we waited for help, all the while holding our baby as she appeared to be slipping away from us.  Her blood sugar had fallen dangerously low again causing another seizure that was almost fatal.  They told us that once she was given the sugar, it would take 15 minutes to an hour and she would regain her memory and functions.  The clocked ticked by and that just didn’t happen.  She couldn’t remember her name, she didn’t know who we were, she didn’t know where she was, nor the date or time.  Her brain was functioning right with her body.  It was painful to watch.  There was a communication error between her body and the messages being sent from her brain.  We watched and waited. Then they ran a CAT Scan, a CSPINE and we waited.  She was later admitted to the PICU at Cedar Crest.  It took over 12 hours for all of her functions to come back and longer than that for her memory retention to work. Three major seizures in 6 months is a lot.  We also are fully aware of the repercussions these episodes will have if we cannot get them to stop.
We know that it was a miracle that McKenna didn’t suffer brain damage.  We know the doctors were surprised that she is functioning normally now.  We know that her life was spared once again.  We know that the Lord has a plan for her and already knows when she will return to Him.  We know that she was His first and in the end if we have done our job right, she will be His again and only He gets to decide when that is.  It is very humbling.  In the meantime, we feel we need to do everything possible to help McKenna and to try to improve her quality of life.
They currently have Diabetic Service Dogs that can be trained to help people with uncontrolled diabetes.  The dogs are trained specifically for the person that they will work for, so in this instance for McKenna.  They take samples of her saliva when she is high and when she is low.  They train the dog to recognize those scents.  The dog will then wake McKenna up, or warn her when she is too low and when she is too high.  The dog will go with her wherever she goes.  Studies have shown that these dogs can detect blood sugar changes 1 hour before a continual glucose monitoring system can.  The can detect the blood sugar change even if she is swimming in a pool and the dog is waiting by the side of the pool.  The night time is what scares us the most.  We sleep pretty light trying to listen for her, but we don’t always hear her.  McKenna is afraid of the night times now.  We are hoping the dog will help us during that time.  We want to get her this dog.  It is very expensive and so we need help raising the money to get the dog.  Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.  If you would like to donate money for the dog please click on the following link and then click on the donate button, next to McKenna’s name.
We appreciate any sacrifice that can be made whether it is monetary or if you can include her in your prayers, or if you would be willing to forward this email on to your family and friends.  We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
The Vogts
McKenna Hospital
McKenna in the hospital, where she has been way to much in her short life!
(Photo provided by her parents.)
       Please help McKenna. She needs all the help we can give her. I would give this girl everything I had if I could. She is one super strong girl and calm and peaceful about this whole situation. She has much to teach us all still in her life.  She is a wonderful girl and has made a great impact on my life and many others already. If there is any amount, a dollar even, that you can donate, she and I would really appreciate it. Her family doesn’t have the finances to pay for this dog either and that is why we need your help. The dog is ready, we just need donations. Please share what you can and SPREAD the word with EVERYONE you know!

Again, the link for the donations is:
Click on the link and then click “Donate’” next to McKenna Vogt’s name…it is at the bottom.

And again, I will come up with something in exchange for your donation if you like. I am hoping to figure out how to make an e-book or something like that. If you have any ideas, let me know.

Help McKenna!

With love, Ari

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Life is beautiful...

So, I had a baby. She's lovely and perfect, and the easiest baby I've ever had.  She already does a 5 hour stint at night (the tough part is it doesn't start until midnight), doesn't mind being put down, and even demands free time on the floor!  She sociable and chatty, and loves a clean diaper, although she doesn't much like getting dressed or undressed.  I don't remember how long it took Tristan to go blonde, but it looks as though we might just have a brunette!  And of course her eyes are blue, though what kind of blue is still a mystery.

Tristan is doing well. He listens in on Kael's school lessons, and sometimes comes up with the answers before Kael. Yikes! He knows how to sing the alphabet, and can recognize all the letters, lower- and upper-case. He can also count to about 13 without skipping, and then proceeds to 40, skipping the numbers that end in 3, 4, and 5.  He can also tell you what sounds certain letters make.  I don't know how I'm going to keep him intellectually interested until he's old enough to start kindergarten!

Kael is loving online school at home, which we do through the AZVA.  He just wasn't socially ready for public school, but has proven repeatedly and beyond doubt that he's smart enough.  He recently took a state standards test, and scored WAY above what was needed for E (the highest grade) in all but one category, in which he got an E but was being a perfectionist and so he didn't get as far.  It's been fun to watch him as he learns, seeing the light come on, and the excitement for learning in his eyes.  We'll definitely be doing this again next year.

Elizabeth came home for school for this semester, too.  It was what I wanted, but in the end, she wanted it too, citing many reasons: she was often bored in school (sounds familiar... and who knew?), the kids were naughty a lot and it bugged her, especially when they got her in trouble too, she wanted to be able to sleep in, and she wanted to learn at her own pace.  It's only been a week, but so far, we both love it. It took me a couple of days to get a good rhythm, but it's coming together, and I think we're going to have a lot of fun.

Yesterday, I hit the six week mark postpartum, and started to exercise again. I started with some DDR (Dance Dance Revolution), until I get a little more in shape, and then I'll start running to train for the marathon with my dad.  Also, I re-entered the singles scene on New Year's Eve with a dance for the YSA's in our area. I went with my brother, Rhydon.  I had a lot of fun, just meeting a bunch of new people and dancing to music that I didn't recognize, but had a good beat.  Except for a few songs that were remixes of songs I knew when I was "young;" I'm so old!!!  I even danced with a few cute guys my age.

So that's life for us right now.  Hope all of you are doing well too!

Happy New Year!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Christmas 2010

We had a wonderful Christmas.  The kids got a lot of art and craft projects, Rhydon and I got puzzle books, chocolate, and camping stuff; Mom and Dad got camping stuff and framed pics of the kids. Even Lorelai got a few things: Clothes from Grandpa Jay and Grandma Irma Jane, and beautiful, soft headbands from Auntie Sarah (handmade!).  There were tons of food, and it was nice to have everyone together.

Newborn hospital pics

Have you ever seen such darling chubby cheeks on a newborn? I hadn't. Lovely!