Wednesday, December 29, 2010

If by Rudyard Kipling

I've been on a Rudyard Kipling fix recently.  His poems have been calling out to me as I think about this coming year.  My kids are growing.  We are moving past the raising young kids phase.  I don't like it but to everything there is a season, so I have to acknowledge the passing of time and embrace the next phase.  This poem has been a bacon to me most of my life and I hope to pass the message onto my growing children as well.  As I welcome each year with excitement as well as slight trepidation, I think back and look forward, I find comfort in this message.  Welcome 2011.  


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son! 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Anniversary to us!

13 years ago we got married.  Best decision I ever made.  

Photo taken at our wedding lunch, the day before we got married.  Look how happy he is to soon be married to me.  (Or maybe one of his brothers was making wise cracks during the photo.)  

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Things that make me happy recently

Things have been fun and busy around here.  Below are a few things that have made this a fun December.

I turned 38 this month and my friends remembered me well.  Their gifts showed me that they know me and love me.  I got various gift cards to fast food places, a pedicure gift card and below is the highlight--a Diet Coke t-shirt.  I laughed out loud.  Too funny.

I have three "dead zones" in my house where clutter seems to gather almost without warning.  Yesterday, I got two of the three completely clean.  

My butler's pantry and guest bedroom bed.  (Yes, I know there are somethings still on the bed, but one is an item I need to mail to my parents and the other is 11 year scout stuff.  I still need to figure out what to do with it . . .)

Puzzles out everywhere.  I love that my kids LOVE doing puzzles and I love during the Christmas break how they seem to be everywhere.

And of course, snow.  My Swedish cells are singing because of all of this glorious snow.  

If you need a good fun benign Christmas romance, I would recommend, "A Prairie Christmas Collection."  I picked it up at my grocery store and they have been perfect for a lighthearted easy, December read.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Somehow I am not teaching my kids correct principles . . .

This morning, I was cleaning my house and noticed the following:

My fire place mantle

My tree with presents all around

My Christmas village houses are set up (I have two or three houses "sets" up all around the house).

And then I discovered this, my Nativity scene all piled up, in disarray on a Christmas plate.  Everything else I have cautioned and warned my kids not to touch.  I neglected to inform them to show reverence and love to the most important, sacred, reason for the season, one item that clearly represents what Christmas is all about, item in the house.  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Best Cup of Hot Chocolate I ever had.

This morning, after dropping my kids off at school, I drove through the McDonald's drive thru and purchased a cup of their hot chocolate.  We got fresh snow last night and there is nothing better than a cup of warm hot chocolate after a fresh round of snow.  If you are curious, they make really good hot chocolate and it got me thinking back to a time about 13 years ago, when I had the best cup of hot chocolate ever.

It was November, Dentist husband and I were engaged and soon to be married in December.  We both had cars that had been given to us by our parents and we decided in order to save money on car insurance, we would get rid of one of the cars.  I had a 1985 Honda Civic Wagon and he had a Plymouth Sundance America.  My husband's little sister was soon to get her driver's license and we agreed to give her the car.  So, over my husband's (then fiancĂ©'s) Thanksgiving break from dental school, we headed out over the mountains between Colorado and Utah to drive it to her.

The car had one little hitch.  The heater had quit working.  We discussed this problem beforehand and thought, "The engine still gets hot.  Once the car has been driven for a while, we are sure the radiant heat from the engine will warm the inside of the car."  Just to be safe, we packed extra blankets and of course our winter coats.

For some reason, we decided to do this trip in the middle of the night.  It is an eight hour drive and I remember we went to bed early, (as in right after work and school) and he came and got me at around 2:00 am.  We might have been trying to drive ahead of a snow storm but I can't really remember.  What stands out about the trip was how dang cold it got.  The inside of the car NEVER warmed up.

I was actually better off than Dentist husband because I wasn't driving and I was wrapped up head to toe in a blanket.  But poor Dentist husband had to drive and while he had his coat on, he really couldn't drive a stick shift with a blanket wrapped around his legs.  At first we just pretended like it wasn't that cold.  We tried to "talk" our way through the cold.  We shared stories; we laughed and we joked about the cold.  We even started to sing some songs, hoping it would distract us from the cold.  Unfortunately, as the hours went on, we were driving higher and higher up the mountains to colder and colder temperatures.  We were freezing.  We were grumpy.  It took too much energy to talk.  We had reached a point where we just had to endure.

In Glenwood Springs, CO, we stopped for gas.  Dentist husband looked at me and said, "Do you want a cup of hot chocolate?"  I said, "No."  At this point, I was in my cocoon of suffering and nothing was going to improve it.  Dentist husband came out with a tall styrofoam cup filled with chocolate powder stirred in hot water.  You could still see the paste of chocolate around the inside edges of the cup.  I put it to my lips and started to drink.  Dentist husband did the same thing.  In 10 minutes, I was warm inside.  I couldn't believe it and neither could my husband.  We started talking again.  At first, it was just a few uttered words, "I'm warm."  It later turned into sentences about the amazing event that had taken place.  One hot beverage had warmed us from the inside and made the trip warm again.  I even checked the heating vents to see if maybe the heat had spontaneously started working again.  No, it was just the hot chocolate and the amazing power of a hot beverage.  The rest of the trip was uneventful.  The sun came out around 6:00 am and helped warm up the car.  It actually felt balmy as we drove through snow up Highway 6 toward my husband's home.  We made it to Salt Lake City in great spirits.  All because of one cup of hot chocolate.

So, you see to this day, that is the BEST cup of hot chocolate I have ever partaken.  Hot chocolate has never been the same for me since.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I could feel it coming . . .

I could feel it coming, it was like my body was trying to tell me something and I was ignoring it.  Like most people, my November/December has been packed with holiday activities.  I have tried to be rational and realistic and turned down many requests to attend functions, help with certain things, etc.  I tried to only fill my days with good, important things.  This past Monday, my body was saying, "Slow down."  I ignored it.  My child got the stomach flu on Tuesday night and I spent the whole Wednesday with her on my lap (between getting up and trying to get things done).  I thought that was my day of rest.

Friday was very busy but I managed to relax in the evening, watching Elf with my kids and husband.  Saturday morning, I felt yucky, but who doesn't feel yucky after staying up late, eating like crap and enjoying her kids company?  Saturday afternoon (while at the Dicken's Festival watching my daughter dance), I really started to feel yucky.  I rationalized, "It is the weather.  The crowd is loud and busy.  I'm not getting sick."  Saturday evening, after another family movie night, "A Christmas Carol", it hit me.  My body said, "No more."

I won't go into the details but I couldn't really leave the bathroom for about 10 hours.  That was it.  I gave in.  I called in a sick day.  I stayed in my PJ's all Sunday.  I took three long hot baths.  I read a very silly Christmas romance novel.  I didn't drink my many Diet Cokes I have been using to get through the day. (Gatorade was the only "safe" choice.)   I just sat.  It was pure heaven.   Dentist husband got it.  He completely took care of the kids, meals and all.  

Today, I woke up feeling normal.  More normal than I have in DAYS.  I get it.  My body was talking and telling me to slow down.  I said no and my body said, "Well then, I will make you slow down."  I'm just grateful it only took one day to recover.  And yes, tonight, we are all going to bed early.  :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Gorham Melon Bud Flatware

Later this month, my husband and I will have been married for 13 years.  At the time we were married, my husband was in the middle of his 3rd year of dental school and I working a low paying job.  We were very poor.  When it came time to register for our wedding gifts, a good friend of mine told me, "Janice, just because you are poor doesn't mean you should register for cheap stuff.  Register for quality, last forever type stuff.  Don't look for trendy, faddish stuff either.  Think long term."  

I took her advice and went to a nice store and registered for nice dishes, china, cooking pans, and flatware.  (At the time, Target was the "new" place to register and I bucked the system and didn't go there.)   I had been advised by someone else to look at Gorham because they had been around forever and their stuff was good quality.  I found the above pictured pattern and registered for it.  It was one of the more expensive things on my registry and through good friends, my siblings and a few others, we ended up getting 12 five piece place settings.  

Well, today, as I was putting away my dishes from the dishwasher, I had the thought, "I never purchased the serving spoons with this set.  I LOVE this set.  I should buy the 'hostess set' and pick up a few more 5 piece place settings."  But alas, I couldn't remember the name of it.  Fortunately for me, I have kept all of my wedding planning things in a 3 ring binder.  I went there, found my original gift registry and was able to order more.  

Moral of the story:  When you get married, register for quality stuff and NEVER throw away your gift registry. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why I am an Awesome Scout Leader

Back when I had just one little baby, under a year old, I was asked to work for my church with the children in Primary (for my LDS readers who know what Primary means.)   At this time, one of my assignments was to make sure that Cub Scouts was running smoothly, that we had good Cub Scout leaders and the boys were progressing up the Cub Scout ranks.  (I was the 1st Counselor in the Primary presidency.)  We lived in a strange area and while we had parents who wanted their boys to participate, none of them were willing to be the leader, so I ended up being a Bear and Wolf leader for several months until we found someone who could do it.

Before I do anything, I read everything I can get my hands on before I start.  When I cook a new recipe, I read the whole recipe, often get out other cookbooks and compare recipes, and then cook.  If the recipe uses a term I am unfamiliar with, I learn the term and read more than one example on how to do it.  I often call fellow cooks and ask them how to do things.  The same applied to my Cub Scout assignment.  I read the whole Bear and Wolf book.  I called various friends who had worked in Cub Scouts.  I went to the Scout store and asked questions.  I scanned the shelves and asked more questions.  By the time I was done, I understood what the objective of Cub Scouts was and how to best help the boys progress up the ranks of Cub Scouts.  I wanted the boys to feel like they had accomplished something good and worthwhile.  Since that time, I have worked at various times as a Cub Scout leader and been very impressed when it was run correctly, what an amazing organization the Cub scout and Scout program is.  (I know, I shouldn't end the sentence with a verb.  I am too tired to rework it.)

Anyway, recently, I was called to work with the 11 year old Scouts.  This is easy for me because I have a son who is an 11 year old scout and I had read the whole book when he got put in.  Our group is currently quite small, just four boys and they are good boys and come from families who want their boys to do scouts.  Three of these boys, need just one more thing to become 1st Class Scouts and that is to complete an orienteering course.  Do any of you know what that is?  I didn't until I read the term and then set out to learn about it.   Here is what Wikipedia says: Orienteering is a family of sports that requires navigational skills using a map and compass to navigate from point to point in diverse and usually unfamiliar terrain, and normally moving at speed. Participants are given a topographical map, usually a specially prepared orienteering map, which they use to find control points.[1]

So, it was up to me, to come up with an orienteering course for these three boys--me, stay at home mother of four kids, who uses a GPS to get everywhere.  I was up for the challenge but truth be known, I did grumble a little at first.  

I first had to relearn how to use a compass.  I then bought a book on how to set up a fun, worthwhile beginner orienteering course.  I read other books about orienteering to make sure I really understood what the objective of the activity was.  I then ordered compasses for all of the boys as Christmas presents.  I then had to actually make the course.  Then, my four year old got the stomach flu and put me a day behind and many hours of no sleep behind as well.  So, today, was the big day.  I spent about an hour and 1/2 hiding flags around our neighborhood, calling friends asking their permission to walk through their yards, recording compass readings, counting my steps between flags and other such "orienteering" activities.  I was stopped by various friends asking me what in the world I was doing.  I then discovered about 1/2 way through, that I was holding flags with metal in them next to the compass, which messed up their readings and I had to start over, but again, this had to be done for these boys and I wanted it to be worthwhile and fun.  So, I did it.  And, I am dang proud of myself.  I have learned a ton (which is one of the reasons why I love being a Mormon, being asked to do things I didn't know about and I learn them) and I am hoping the boys learn and remember them as well.  And maybe just maybe, if any of them get lost, (which I DON'T ever want have happen) but if they do, I hope they will remember their compass skills, taught to them by me and they can help themselves, if they indeed have a compass on them.  But more likely they will just use their GPS on their cell phones if their cell phone doesn't have service where they are. . .
But, I must say, that this is what I love about Scouts because I get to be part of teaching the boys new things and important things that add to their self-confidence.  Any new skill teaches self confidence and self-confidence is the GREATEST skill to have.  Whenever I associate with any person, man, woman or child, I hope to help in their self esteem (let's help build up not bring down people) and Scouts is a great place to do it.   And, there you have it, that is why I am an awesome scout leader.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rutter - Open thou mine eyes - The Cambrige Singers

Obviously, music has been inspiring me this month. I have had this song sung by the Cambridge Singers in my head for the last week. John Rutter has given the world a true gift.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Nutcracker and Party Girl Hair

Toothsome #2 has been doing The Nutcracker with her dance studio, since she started dancing at age 4.  It is the most magical weekend of the whole Christmas season for me and it is such a joy to have my daughter do it every year.  I commend all of the hard work and true labor of love that the owner of the studio does every year to make it so every little girl can have a chance to dance in The Nutcracker.  After years of having various parts, my daughter is now dancing at a level that has her on stage more often and she became a "party girl".  This is a big deal for the young dancers and for my daughter, it was no exception.
Here she is in her "Party Girl" outfit.  We had the option to rent one from the studio or have one made.  Because toothsome #4 is now taking dance, I decided to have it made thinking she will eventually get to wear it.  It  love how it turned out.  
Here are my two girls, a "Party girl" and a "mouse."  

The only issue with being a party girl is that my daughter had to have her hair in ringlets and it had to stay for longer than about 20 minutes.  After several failed attempts, I finally asked my hairstylist and she  gave me her stuff.  So I don't forget and maybe to help others, this is what I ended up doing.  Thank you Brandy-Michelle!

Toothsome #4's hair 

Starch spray--Redken brand.

This type of curling iron--one with no "clip".  I divided her hair into two parts (a bottom layer and a top layer) and sprayed her hair with starch spray and then curled her hair using the above iron.  I occasionally sent her outside to the cold air to help it "set".  Even by late Saturday night, it still looked like I had just curled it.  Success! 

Now onto Christmas cards . . .

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Born on a New Day - Cambridge Singers

I love this arrangement. Merry December 4th.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Food Court Flash Mob, Hallelujah Chorus - Must See!

Oh, how I wish I was there and I could have joined in. Merry December 2!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving at "Home".

For Thanksgiving this year, Dentist husband and I decided it was time for me to go "home"--Boulder, CO where I was raised for the holiday.  We haven't spent a Thanksgiving there since Dentist Husband was in dental school and it has been three years since we as a family have been there.  After this visit, we all realized that it had been way too long.  Boulder is too great of a city to not visit often.  My DNA recognizes it as home and thankfully, my parents still live there in the house I was raised in.  (FYI:  I see my parents about 3 times a year, but for various reasons, it hasn't been in CO in recent years.)  

Here we are on Pearl Street--a famous outdoor walking mall.  

Toothsome #1 in front of the house I was raised in.  My parents still live there.  

The tire swing in the back yard.  I was lucky enough to be raised with a beautiful very private backyard. Growing up I spent hours on this tire swing.  So fun to see my kids doing the same.  

Silly picture taken in the front room of my house.

Me with my parents.  I am the youngest and closet sibling to me is 4 1/2 years older.  I spent a lot of "alone" time with them growing up.  I love and adore them.  

Toothsome #2 with her name sakes.  Her first name is my mom's and her middle name is my Dad's.  

While on Pearl Street, my husband saw this University of Colorado shirt on a mannequin and spontaneously purchased it for me.  The University of Colorado is in Boulder, CO and I was raised watching their games.  They even were National Champions in football my senior year in high school.   Go Buffs!    

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sometimes . . .

I buy my husband's favorite brand of deodorant when I find it for a really good price on sale.  And sometimes, I forget I found it for a really good price on sale a few months before and we now have approx. 30 Arrid XX original scent deodorants in my linen closet.  Deodorant doesn't go bad does it?  

(And, before someone comments on it, I know having six Secret deodorants is a little excessive too but they were also a really good price.) 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Peanut Butter Fudge

3/4 cup butter
3 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
12 ounce package of peanut butter chips 
6 ounce peanut butter chips and 6 ounce semi sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
7 ounce jar of marshmallow cream
1/2 cup chopped peanuts

In a glass bowl, melt 3/4 cup butter on high until melted.  Add sugar and evaporated milk.  Mix it up and then microwave on high for 5 minutes or until it starts to boil.  (Stir it mid way and scrap edges so it doesn't turn sugary.)  Microwave again another 5 and 1/2 minutes, stirring mid-way through.  Add peanut butter chips or the 1/2 chocolate chip/1/2 peanut butter option (they are both excellent).  Add vanilla, marshmallow cream and chopped peanuts.  Pour into a buttered 9x13 pan.  Cool and eat.  (Makes 3 pounds of candy)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Things that Make Me Happy Recently

A party I started 11 years ago, because I was home sick and wanted people come to come to my house, is still going strong.  

My independent 6 year old, carved his own pumpkin this year.  No help.  It was very free form and my favorite of the whole night.  

My girls in matching Hannah Andersson dresses.  

No picture, but the fact that my 11 year old son can pogo stick around the block (1/2 mile) without stopping.  

No picture, but the fact that Christmas shopping is almost done.  

No picture, but that I finished "A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" by Annie Dillard.  It was a dense read but a perfect "fall" read.  It won the Pulitzer prize years ago.  Not a book I recommend to many because it was very dense and some of her conclusions didn't completely mesh with me but it was a challenging read and good one for me at the moment.  

I'll blog more consistently, I promise, maybe.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Toothsome #3

One can never be too safe, when watching TV on a Saturday morning. 

(I don't know why he has the French game "Boules" hanging off his toes.) 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Why I love Marco Rubio.

The 2-5 minute mark is especially moving. Please watch.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Candy Buy Back

My husband sponsored his annual Candy Buy Back again this year.  If you have forgotten what that is, my husband buys children's Halloween candy from them for $1 a pound and the candy is sent overseas to the soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We got over 100 pounds more than we did last year adding up to over 500 pounds!  It was a huge success and I want to thank all of you who participated.  This year, we heard many heart-warming stories from soldiers who use this candy to help in the war effort.  One in particular told us a great story about daily giving some local children American candy and they in turn informed him about hot spots the soldiers should avoid.  It is amazing what American candy can do from lifting moral to saving lives.  We were so lucky to be a little part of that again this year.  

Ignore the time stamp.  These were taken this afternoon. :)

A whole (clean) trash can full of candy.  (We ran out of boxes!) 

Some of the kids who donated, my husband and Sergeant Wilson.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween

From Iron Man, two witches and a cockroach.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lamest Trip to California Ever

Last year during Fall break, we made a last minute decision to drive to Newport Beach, CA.  It ended up being a magical trip and we hoped to relive it this year.  Tuesday night, we checked the weather forecast on about four different weather sites and they all said, "90s and sunny" for Thursday (the day we would be arriving) and mid 80s the rest of the week.  The weather appeared to be even better than our last year trip, so we made hotel reservations and packed the car.  (We had said over and over, we are not going if the weather even has a chance of looking bad.)  

  So, we packed the kids in the car on Wednesday.  Our almost running out of gas in downtown Las Vegas, should have been a warning to us.  (We decided to not get gas in Cedar City, because it was late and we were tired and Taco Bell didn't taste as good as it sounded when we stopped there for dinner.    We both said, "As long as we don't hit bad traffic, we will be fine."  We hit bad traffic and were sweating it until we made it to a Chevron.)  

As we were driving into Newport Thursday morning, it was dark and cloudy.  We kept on checking various weather web-sites and while the temperature forecasts were now in the mid 80s, they all said afternoon sun, through the weekend.  Here we are in the hotel, very hopeful the sun will come out.  

At the beach with no sun.  

Still having fun

Resorting to sand fights because the water was too cold.

The next day, it was raining in the morning (even the local weather people hadn't predicted that.)  So we headed to the Discovery Cube in Santa Ana.  We had a great time there.

Saturday was supposed to be cloudy in the morning and sunny in the afternoon.  No such luck.  It rained all day.  We did go to the beach to watch the die-hard surfers.  My kids couldn't stand being so close to the water and not get in.  

Chasing seagulls

It was all fun until they started getting cold.

The day redeemed itself with a trip to Chipotle

So what was supposed to be a fun, spread summer out to the last possible moment vacation to California, turned into a very lame, rainy cold trip.  We made the most of it.  We still ate at the Crab Cooker, got Balboa bars and played in the sand.  We did consider heading to Legoland or Disneyland but the weather worse in San Diego and we ran into some other out of staters, who said Disneyland was packed and cold.  We would have gone and visited some friends of ours in LA but the weather channels kept on saying, "Afternoon sun and warmer" and the whole purpose of the trip was to enjoy the beach, so we just waited it out.  Oh well.  At least we don't have cable at home and my kids got to watch all of the Sponge Bob they wanted to in the hotel.  Oh and sadly, in Utah, it was sunny in the high 70s while we were gone.  We came home to rain.  :) 

Next year will be better right?  Right?  :)