Friday, November 28, 2008

Present Philosophy

This year, we are doing things simple. I set up an automatic savings transfer each month for this past year, and we now have a concrete, tangible budget for our holiday festivities.

Since we have five people in our family, I divided the budget by six--one part allocated to each family member and the sixth part for everything else. It is my hope that this will pare down all the craziness that traditionally accompanies the holidays, because most of the craziness comes from reaching beyond our little immediate family. If it doesn't fit in the budget, it's not happening.

I'm hoping to experience more peace and quiet joy this year. We're planning on attending a live nativity, and going to see the lights at Temple Square. Everything else will most likely take place within the walls of our own home: baking and decorating gingerbread houses, making cookies to give to some of the girls' friends, (hopefully) building some snowmen, cutting out snowflakes to hang from the ceiling and in the windows, drinking hot cocoa after playing outside on a cold afternoon, learning about Christ's birth and memorizing the words to Christmas carols.

The only problem I'm having with this idea is the potential for centering the holidays solely around our family, without giving thought to anyone else. I want to "do Christmas" for a needy family or something like that; but perhaps that is just something that should be done during a different season of life, like when the girls get into their teenage years and need a bonk on the noggin to get them out of "me" mode. It doesn't seem very fair to take Christmas away from young children in order to give it to somebody else; I don't think they'd understand the concept at this age. I do want to include service to those in need as a regular part of our holiday traditions, but think it's best left for when they are a touch older.

A hard thing for me to give up is the mailing out of the Christmas letter. I enjoy doing it, but postage alone overshoots the entire "everything else" budget we now have in place. (Besides, I've got the blog, it's not like anyone really needs an update!)

Hopefully the new guidelines will help the season be a little more enjoyable and far less stressful for us paying adults. I love that my options somewhat require me to focus more on my girls and celebrating with preschooler enthusiasm. I have high hopes for this Christmas season--and great expectations that there will be no time needed to "recover" from it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Email from my Dad

I received this from my Dad as he gets ready to start with Christmas shopping, it was addressed to both his sister (my aunt) and myself:

Hi Girls,
My wife has reminded me that it is that time of year for you both to demand small things from us for your children. Since we are from the cave person era and have mixed views on what small girls and young boy child’s may require, we are asking for your opinion to assist us in our archaic ways. I know this may be quite a dilemma for my sister due to her ancient ways of thought process but I’m sure lucid moments will prevail. It would behoove you both to consider the scale of economy and to weigh noise factor as Kim and myself would be mentally stricken to hear of poor little wretches having had their pretties twisted or pinched beyond repair. Oh boo hoo!! Let us know. Thanks



When I finished reading it, I thought to myself, "Now I know where I get it from..."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bulgur


YUCK!!!

We've been trying something new regarding breakfast this week because I always feel bad about making stuff that Mr. Brooke doesn't like. I'm an oatmeal, muffins and pancakes (sweet) sort of gal and he's a fried potatoes, biscuits & gravy, bacon & eggs (savory) sort of guy. We decided that this week he would make breakfast in the mornings so I could have time to read my scriptures instead of feeling stressed out and behind on everything from the get-go. He made a variety of things, even pancakes a couple of times.

But this morning, being the weekend, (and despite the fact that he needed to go to work anyway) he slept in. When "start cooking breakfast time" rolled around, I decided that I'd just do it and let him sleep some more. I originally was planning on oatmeal, but when I opened the cupboard I spotted the Bulgur and thought, "Hmmm, fitting..." and went to work.

(((shudder))) Not good at all. I had mine plain, with some raisins, in order to avoid extra calories. The girls and Mr. Brooke got all the fixin's: raisins, butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and half and half. Both versions were equally kind of gross, and I ate a bunch of it and still don't feel full. Annoying. I will have to find some other use for this stuff...there's a recipe for bulgur pilaf on the box and I know I have a recipe for Tabbouleh around here somewhere that I've never gotten around to actually making, despite having planned to do so.

Now, I can make myself eat just about anything if I think it's healthy for me, but this is definitely going on my list of "I don't like that."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Beans & Pasta & Haircuts & Money


My life revolves around beans and pasta this week. And it's been good.

The hardest part about living off of food storage isn't living off of food storage--it's disciplining myself to not spend our money at all. We are fine with eating just beans, rice and pasta...but it's so hard to stay home and not go out and spend money at this time of year. We've supplemented the week with some trips out and about to free places--the library, the reservoir and hiking areas surrounding it, taking more walks--proving that there is fun to be had even if you're not going to spend money. I cut Bluebird's and Rabbit's hair on Wednesday in order to avoid spending $11 each at the salon for them, and it went well. (Mostly because I have this book to help me out now.) Rabbit's hair is a little lopsided, but I'll leave it alone for another day in hopes that she won't balk at getting it cut some more.

We have been blessed--Mr. Brooke is receiving a bonus check from his company to reimburse him for his travels to and from the airport for the crazy amounts of travelling he did at the beginning of the month, and it's almost the amount of money that went "missing" from our account. What an incredible relief. (And no, I still can't figure out what happened regarding the missing money! Frustrating!)

So this whole "living off of food storage" thing hasn't been as dramatic as I thought it would be...the girls have adjusted to the dry milk, we're not feeling deprived at dinner and it actually seems as though most of us are feeling better than normal. Hmmm. Very interesting.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Homeschool Curriculum

In response to Annukka's question about what we're doing regarding homeschool curriculum. (Hi Annukka!)

I'm more of a DIY sort of person, and I like to pick out my own stuff. My curriculum is starting out based upon the suggestions in The Well-Trained Mind, and then I'm making adjustments as I go along.

Right now, for our homeschool preschool we are using:

  • Saxon Kindergarten Math--Bluebird absolutely loves this. It's expensive, but I really like Saxon's products--I used some of their curriculum myself in middle school and it was the best I'd ever come across. Start-up costs are a bit, especially when you buy the Manipulatives, but it's worth it. (And you'll use the manipulatives through Grade Four anyway.)

  • Phonics Pathways--which is currently on hold because Bluebird gets upset whenever she sees the book, so we're taking a break and using:

  • Get Ready for the Code, Book A

  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting, Kindergarten level--we haven't started this yet; I'm thinking about starting it after we finish the Get Ready for the Code series of books because Get Ready for the Code has writing exercises in it as well.

  • We have daily reading time for 30-45 minutes, where I'll read whatever they put into my hands, minus those insufferable toy catalogs that are bloating my mailbox these days.

  • And then each afternoon, we do either a science project or an art project. I lean towards more art projects. I have some excellent suggestion guides that I consult: Hooray for Art! for PreK-K, The Best of The Mailbox Science PreK-K, and Bubbles, Rainbows & Worms.

  • I also have numerous toddler books and things like that to help inspire me in the activities arena.

  • I think that physical activity is crucial for happy people, and we have scheduled "outside time" each day, rain or shine. (It also helps me to keep my wits to get outside and leave my home worries alone for 30 minutes to an hour.) If it's raining, I load up the younger girls into our double stroller, fasten down the rain-proof cover and Bluebird gets to carry her own umbrella and we simply go for a rain walk and smell the air.


I've tried the book, Slow & Steady, Get Me Ready, and found it to be extremely tedious. So I still have it, but I don't use it. Week-by-week activities for an infant are hard to keep track of, and when I'd miss one (or six months' worth), I'd feel guilty. Better to just ditch it, my girls have gotten along fine without the "extra stimulation."

The downfall of this approach is cost--curriculum is wicked expensive sometimes. I've been trying to figure out a way to write the costs off on our taxes, but have yet to reach an honest solution. (The Homeschool CPA is such a great resource!) I do not like being held to someone else's "rules" about how and what to teach my children, so I'm not interested in getting my curriculum from my school district or something like that. Besides, it's fun to figure out what we're going to do and how we're going to do it...yeah, I enjoy that sort of planning.

I don't plan on owning every single book I'm ever going to use--that's what the library is for! (And usually, if you complain enough about them not having a specific book, they'll buy it.) I follow the suggestions in The Well-Trained Mind when it comes to book selections for the girls and it goes really well. We also go to all the storytimes that are aimed at any of their ages.

Moreover, I get to detail our studies around what my girls are interested in at that moment. Bluebird is huge into Space and Crystals right now, so we're reading a lot of books on the subjects (from the library!)...in the future, when her science stuff actually "counts" in the school world, State requirements generally don't minutely dictate what you're supposed to cover in the elementary years, so we'll go along with what they're interested in then as well, instead of laboring through some boring topic that the school district teaches in its curriculum. (The elementary years are for getting them excited about learning, not boring them to death!)

In addition, I'm going to be re-using this stuff at least two more times in the future; so it's worth the cost to me. We're setting up a budget and setting aside a portion of our income each month to go into a homeschool savings account, so when we do need things, the money is already there. I have set times to plan out what we're going to do (school teachers get that, so I've insisted that I get it as well!). I like our system. It works for us.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Menu for the Week


Monday: Spiced Pumpkin Soup (frozen leftovers), Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Tuesday: Spaghetti & Meatballs, Green Salad

And then I'm basically out of fresh produce.

Wednesday: BBQ Lima Beans, Cornbread

Thursday: Pioneer Stew, Buttermilk Biscuits

Friday: Lentils & Rice with Fried Onions, Canned Green Beans

Saturday: Cream of Split Pea Soup (this could be very good or very, very disgusting...), White Rolls

Sunday: Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Potatoes, Homemade Tortillas (so yummy!)

Next Monday: I'm planning on having mounds of leftovers to choose from.

I'm pretty disappointed with the Food Storage cooking guides and suggestions; almost every recipe uses meat! Let's think here--if I have no money and I'm living off of my food storage, meat is probably incredibly scarce, thus making about 90% of the recipes no good. Very disappointed indeed. My vegetarian cookbook has come in incredibly handy in this situation.

I'm also starting to see the importance of growing a lot of produce and canning the stuff--canned fruits and veggies will be very welcome this week when the fresh stuff runs out.

Breakfasts will be pancakes, oatmeal, maybe some scrambled eggs here and there. We have all that stuff on hand.

Lunches will be leftovers, PB & J Sandwiches, canned soups.

I have come across recipes for Pinto Bean fudge, Navy Bean Bundt Cake and Pinto Bean Pie. I think I'll give one or two a try, just because I'm interested in finding out if they're actually good. (Although, at first thought...Pinto Bean fudge? Sickness.)

I've worked to have 2-4 weeks of formula in our storage at all times, so we're completely OK there, no worries at all.

And, of course, the wonder that is reconstituted milk. Perhaps we'll try out homemade Orange Juliuses with the stuff. I think I've some powdered fruit drink somewhere as well. All will be well.

Reconstituted Milk


On Saturday, Mr. Brooke mixed up some milk for Bluebird and gave it to her, which sparked the following conversation:

Bluebird: "This milk needs to be stirred more."

Mr. Brooke: "Oh...alright." [He then stirred it some more in order to dilute more of the milk powder.]

Bluebird: [Takes a sip] "I think we need to pour this in the sink and get me a glass of water."

So there you go, how to get your children to drink more water--serve them reconstituted milk.

(Rabbit downs the stuff once I put a little chocolate syrup in it. I've also found that reconstituted milk is far more palatable if you mix in a little vanilla flavoring.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Turning a Challenging Situation into Something Fun


Something is seriously messed up with our bank account and my budgeted money for the next week has miraculously disappeared into thin air. I'm hoping it's their fault, and not mine. This has happened before, and I would get through it by charging my purchases to the credit card and then just depositing the money onto the credit card once it was "found." I have a feeling this time that it might be my fault (perhaps something got deleted in Quicken and made me think I had more money than I really did.) So I'm not going to risk running up the credit card at all, we're going sans-groceries and everything else until the next paycheck or my money re-appears.

And since living off of food storage is ripe for interesting blogging, I thought I'd share the experience with you as well. Planning up this week's meals is going to be a bit of a headscratcher, but I'll post it once I figure it out.

I'm hoping to learn what we really do want to have in our food storage, instead of buying things based off of others' suggestions.

And perhaps I should think about changing banks. And be more vigilant about not leaving Quicken up on the screen where little hands can work their magic on the keyboard.

Mmmm, re-constituted nonfat dry milk...in all its grainy glory.

That's One Good Baby

Bluebird rewarded Little Lamb for being a good sister with a sticker...



Mr. Brooke thought it was funny, so he took pains to not scrub it off when he gave her her evening bath, and it was still on her forehead when we moved her from her playpen in our room to her crib in the girls' room:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why We're Going to Homeschool

Let me tell you, in my growing-up years, homeschooling was never included in my plans for my future family. I believed it to be socially destructive and that homeschool graduates were incredibly weird, awkward folks with either crazy hippie or militant Christian parents.

In fact, I was on track to become a high school history teacher while I was attending BYU. Mr. Brooke and I married in 2002, halfway through my junior year and right before the semester when I started working on my requirements for the teaching portion of my degree. Part of the first "teaching" class I took that semester was to spend time in "classroom observation" at each level of the public school system (elementary, middle, high and alternative).

I graduated from high school in 2000 and was absolutely shocked at the changes that were so readily apparent when I walked into the hallways and saw the behavior of the children and listened to the lessons that were presented to them. It annoyed me how history was being taught, without any reference to the religious background behind important world events and with some very obvious and untrue biases in the textbooks. (As a student of history, you come to realize very quickly that no event in history can be properly understood without talking about religion...but in the public sphere of education, it's just safer to not even try to include it for fear of landing yourself in some hot water.)

It really bothered me that so much untruthfulness and omission was happening; and the students didn't know enough to realize it and, obviously, their parents were oblivious to what was being taught in the classroom. Couple this with all the "No Child Left Behind" stuff that was coming out...I was starting to feel incredibly uneasy about the public school system.

I voiced my frustrations to Mr. Brooke, who replied that we could simply send our (yet to be born) children to private school. But I knew that the same problems probably existed in the private sector of education, and that we'd also probably run into the problem of contradictory religious messages being given to our children (ie. if they went to, say, a Catholic private school).

Shortly after that semester ended, I came across the book The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. And all the pieces to the puzzle came together perfectly--Homeschooling! I consumed online resources and scoured the library for more information on the subject and the more I read about it, the better I felt about it.

It's been six years now and I'm still quite excited over the option. I've done preliminary preschool activities with Bluebird and found that I actually can teach her "school stuff." I believe strongly that the education of my children is one of MY primary responsibilities and that I get full say in how that happens. I have no problem with parents who send their children to school...I have a problem with the schools asserting authority over the children they teach and that "we know better than the lowly parents" mentality that seems so pervasive. I don't want my children to get to the end of high school and wish that more of their time had been spent in being challenged instead of taking roll, adjusting to seating assignments, waiting for thirty other kids to settle down so things could resume and then still having to move along at the slowest child's pace.

I don't hate the public school system at all; it provides an incredibly valuable service...it's how I learned to read and write and everything else. But it has its downfalls and I believe that I can overcome a majority of them by teaching my children at home. My girls are bright and I want them to realize as much of their potential as possible; I believe that homeschooling will allow for a much better curriculum and far more opportunities to develop their talents. I can offer that to my children, and I'm excited to do that. It doesn't make me a better parent--I'm simply lucky enough to be able to offer this experience to them and I think I'm going to take that opportunity and run with it.

The never-ending question, "What about socialization?", is easily answered. If the parents are socially awkward, then the children tend to be socially awkward, homeschooled or not. And really, can you honestly observe a flock of tweens and hope that your child will act like everyone else their age? I think it's rather unnatural for children to be cooped up together for six to eight hours a day with only a classroom of kids their same age. When else are you going to encounter that sort of situation in life? I like the idea of integrated ages in schooling; of the older children helping to tutor a younger child and participating in activities that will expose them to the elderly, the middle-aged and a broader spectrum (age-wise) of children. And there is plenty of opportunity for socialization--church and its multitude of activities, homeschool co-ops and groups, Mom school groups, music lessons, sports and dance teams, clubs and activities...the list can go on and on.

Of course, the main deciding factor in pursuing this educational approach is because we feel it is the right thing for our family. We have studied this issue and prayed about it at length and feel strongly that it is the way for us to go. And it's been my experience that you can't trump the Spirit...when He speaks, it's in your best interest to listen to Him. I feel peace about this decision, and even a little excitement. I don't have any delusions about what I'm getting into--the inevitable frustrations when my children just won't "get it," the worries about academic progression, and that lovely predicament of being parent and teacher at the same time. But I do feel as though this is something that I have been prepared for; that I am incredibly suited to this calling in life...I've got spiritual confirmation to back me up on that. I won't be perfect at all, but I'll have help from on high to get my girls where they need to be.

So there you go, the reason in a nutshell.

(Another excellent and inspiring book is A Thomas Jefferson Education, which makes a great case for a return to the education that our founding fathers received.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Snow Clothes!



Note to self: Buy snow clothes in September (when all the catalogs come out with their snow clothing lines) so I can get the best selection. Pink snowpants were not available, so we had to settle for purple instead. (I think she's OK with it, despite the picture--my battery ran out so we have to go with it.)

Another note to self: It would be much cheaper to buy next year's snow clothes at the end of this winter season. But I've been reminding myself of that for a long time.

We all have snow clothes now. (I bought Mr. Brooke some stuff too, even though he's given the impression in the past that he thinks snowpants are a waste of money, something about spending money on pants that you can only wear outside for only one season of the year.) It's worked out nicely because it's been cold and rainy, but that kind of weather no longer deters us from our outdoor ventures. It is so nice to walk outside and not want to curl up into the fetal position in a vain attempt to conserve body heat. Life in Utah is about to get much, much better for us.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Everything In Its Place

I'm married to a manufacturing engineer. His entire purpose of existence in the workplace is to basically organize and streamline the gunk out of everything so you can run your factory/business much more efficiently. I listen to his ideas and philosophies, and sometimes even venture to try them out in our home.

I don't know exactly which efficiency "philosophy" this falls under (Six Sigma? Lean? 5-S? Is 5-S almost the same as Six Sigma, but with one less Sigma?), but I've decided to re-organize our pantry so that it will better serve us homeschool-wise. I'm tired of trying to keep track of fifty million papers, pens, gluesticks and paintbrushes.

Here's what I'm working with now:
Yes, it's true, I'm a complete closet slob. Those empty shelves on the bottom are so NOT usually like that, I had already started cleaning when I thought that this would make for some interesting blogging. The only reason I'm showing you this horrendous mess and horrid testament to my homemaking skills in this particular area is so that you can further appreciate what the future will hold.

The Plan: (click the picture for a more detailed image)
Part of the
"Everything In Its Place" program is to have bins, boxes, masking tape outlines and shelf labeling so that you cannot possibly put something where it isn't supposed to go. No one will be able to say, "I didn't know where it went," because I will have clearly labeled EXACTLY where everything goes. Genius, just genius. *evil cackle of triumph* (And no, I'm not going to start drilling Rabbit on Chinese dynasties at the age of two--the "subject" bins for Rabbit will be filled with activities for her to do while I'm teaching Bluebird whatever particular subject we're working on at that moment.)

When I do stuff like this, Mr. Brooke says that I definitely deserve the job title of "Domestic Engineer."

And yes, I plan to take this plan to other areas of my home as well...stay tuned.

Homeschooling

I know I've mentioned the idea of homeschooling in the past; I've also stated that I didn't think I would homeschool because of the stress. (That particular post...meh.)

I've been trying to spend more time at the temple lately, and the prompting to homeschool is stronger after each session. As a result, I'm lining things up and plan to fully commit to educating my girls at home.

I know some of you have asked in the past about my reasons for wanting to homeschool, so I'll work on answering that in the next few days. (No pressure on any of you to "see the light"...school your children the way you want, I really don't care.)

Obviously, the big driving factor is feeling that it is the right thing for our particular situation. I am feeling completely good about this, so I'm making the decision to trust in the guidance of the Spirit and push forward in this direction.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Year of Health

This is my big focus right now. When the 2009 school year begins next autumn, I plan to be in a healthy place. And not just physically and nutritionally, but spiritually, emotionally and psychologically as well. Anything that could detract from my mission is flat-out refused, and when I recognize something in my life that is distracting me from my goals, it goes out the window as well.

This is my season to change to healthier habits.

I have taken on my humiliating stubborn weight gain and now weigh in at 45 pounds less than my six-week check-up weight. (About 25 of those pounds have been shed since the beginning of August.) I'm incredibly pleased with myself over this fat cell butt-kicking thing I've got going on here and plan to reach my goal weight by next August. Things are going well in that department. (And to satisfy your curiosity, I have 40 pounds left to lose.)

My spiritual health is getting a bit of an overhaul. I've generally been rather good about reading my scriptures regularly, writing in my journal intermittedly and praying at least once a day...but I'm finding that it's definitely not enough anymore. My life gets more challenging by the day, and I'm finding that my abilities (super as they are...hee hee) are, more and more often, falling short of what I want to accomplish. I'm getting a huge lesson in mortal limitations; but, happily, there is a bright lining in that you overcome that glitch by simply holding hands with Deity and working together on the things that actually matter. (Him and I don't see eye-to-eye on that subject sometimes, and that's hard for me to work through on occasion!) I'm working incredibly hard to go to the temple more and to pray intently every morning and every night. And I'm trying to stop whatever it is that I'm doing anytime I think that the Spirit is whispering to me, and really paying attention. I feel a whole lot more peace right now than I have in a very long time.

Emotional and psychological health fall into that "too much information" category for me to really talk about online (well, anymore than I've already shared), but it suffices me to say that those two little buggers require a lot of work if you're trying to make them better, which can get incredibly frustrating! But it's worth it in the long run, so I'm going to keep moving forward. This has brought an enormous amount of peace to my heart as well. It's sad that there are so many people in this world who have been hurt so deeply who think that it's their fault. And it's even sadder that it's near impossible to show them that it wasn't their fault at all. *sigh* Sometimes it feels like the only thin shred of hope that can keep me going is the knowledge that, eventually, everything will be taken care of so that the outcome will be satisfactory to me. It may not be in this life, but that day will eventually appear, some folks will get beaten with clubs made of sandpaper and everything will be solved and neatly sewn up. Ta-da!

There are so many things that I want to do right now, but my Year of Health requires me to pull back with Ironman strength upon the reins. The Reading Through History book club is now in the hands of another (incredibly capable, and admirably enthusiastic) blogger. I've deleted some of my superfluous blogs. I've pulled out of a couple of other activities that required a lot of my mental attentions. I'm wrestling down my desire to start up a Daisy Girl Scout troop for Bluebird (that one is not pinning easily...but there will be time for it next year, no worries.) Holidays and birthdays will be down-sized to an almost pathetic degree, but I have peace when I think about it. The garden--forget the heirloom varieties and homemade fertilizers, it's going to be all about hybrids and Miracle-Gro.

I wonder sometimes if the simplification of my life will inevitably make me seem a little dull to others, but then I remind myself that life has got to be far, far better as a healthy, albeit "only normal," person than as an overwhelmingly interesting, yet completely stressed-out, person. I guess I'm about to find out.

It's all about finding peace and being happy to be me.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cold Evening Musings

The evenings of early winter are one of my favorite experiences. Darkness approaches at an earlier hour, and somehow, it becomes easier to turn my energy inward and keep it contained within my family.

The girls got their second round of flu shots this evening and I allowed them to have Burger King drive-thru for dinner as a reward. As we drove home, I found myself basking in the comfort of the early darkness--how it seemed to separate us from everything else and made it feel like we were our own little world, encapsulated in our warm vehicle, with only our thoughts and feelings to worry about. I like feeling that feeling--that we're all that matters in a particular moment.

The earlier approach of night empties the streets of bikers and walkers; when I'm at home on a winter evening, there are fewer distractions outside my window to remove my focus from my precious brood. I love to stand at a window and not see anything outside--only the reflection of my home behind me in the glass in front of me. It seems to sum up what really matters in such a simple way.

Add in the glow of twinkling lights and warm traditions of the winter holidays, and it's no wonder why this time of year enlarges our hearts and magnifies our desire to spend time with our loved ones. Perhaps we love harder in order to feel warmer and counteract the chill in the air?

Thank goodness for winter. If life was one summer day after another, there would be no time to slow down and ponder when the shortened days of winter keep us close to home. This is a special time, a time to sit still and really see and feel what matters most--our families, our homes, warmth, love, peace and contentment.

Halloween Pictures




Yeah, they're late. I'm OK with that.

Bluebird was an astronaut, which is so totally NOT surprising if you know her at all. Rabbit recycled the lovingly-constructed-by-yours-truly Tinkerbell costume (fifty points to whoever can remember that), and Little Lamb was a pea pod.

Mr. Brooke is, hands-down, freakishly amazing when it comes to carving pumpkins. He didn't have a lot of time this year, so he went with simple designs. But he's hardcore; last year he used his Dremel tool to do the carving, and this year he fired up his jigsaw. He carved the Wall-E pumpkin on the sly and surprised the girls with it, which made them ecstatically hyper (yes, it's possible). The neighborhood kids seemed to get a kick out of it as well--the young crowd all got yelled at by their parents to not touch it, and the older set walked away talking in robot voices.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Peevish

I have dragged three young children to four different outdoor and/or sport specialty stores from here to the point of the mountain in search of snow clothes.

I have no new snow clothes to showcase my efforts AND Rabbit tripped in a slushy parking lot and landed in a puddle.

My new plan: Buy snow clothes online.

Snow Day!

The world is white this morning. The first real snow has arrived!

Now, the adult in me immediately starts thinking,
"Ugh, ice, cold, wet...what am I going to do with these kids indoors all day?!?!"

And the enthusiastic child within me tries to wriggle past that pessimistic adult and jumps into the air with its upstretched arms, trying to grab my attention with, "Can we please go outside and play?"

Normally, I listen to the adult.

But this morning, I stopped for a moment and thought about the two opposing viewpoints. I can either go through life seeing naturally occuring events as things that are trying to destroy my way of life, or I can simply embrace them and decide to enjoy them. I'm going with the latter today.

Snow presents its own particular problems though--my household is hardly prepared to withstand the temperatures. I used to belittle myself for thinking how cold it is here, when it's incredibly warmer here than it was in my Canadian childhood, where school was only cancelled if the temperature dropped to the point where the buses couldn't run and playing outside made the snot freeze inside my nostrils. But then I realized one day that the difference between enjoying snow is all about snow clothing. In Canada, I had it all; in Utah, I have only a wool dress coat. I don't even own boots. No wonder I think it's crazy cold here!

This has to stop. I live in a place where it snows. Every year. For a long time. I am going to make a withdrawal from our savings account and today, we're going shopping and we're going to get outfitted for the snow. We're going to enjoy this God-given wonderland. And I'm going to take Bluebird skiing this year too. And we're going to learn how to ice skate. Embrace the snow!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go wake up a four year old and a two year old and tell them that it's SNOWING!!!

(They were very excited about it. Bluebird is now convinced that Christmas will be here soon.)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Votin' Time Is A-Drawin' Near...

I like to keep the blog as a politics-free sort of zone because I am really not interested in having political debates in my living room.

But I have to ask: What do you think it will be? All and out victory for one of them or a nail-biting finish where we won't know until pretty near the end?

My stomach is already starting to knot up.

Or...

I can just stick it to the people who don't like me and continue blogging along publicly, showing the world that Mormons are normal folks with fully-functioning brains and decision-making capabilities, and that full-time homemaking isn't a life sentence of monotonous tasks and zero intellectual stimulation.

Comments will be moderated from now on, and if you're seeking to offend me...I've got friends in cyberspace as well. Ha ha.

Man, that feels good. I refuse to bow down anymore to angry and miserable people who are intent upon bringing everyone else down to their mucky level.

If only I could muster a Xena battle yell. Yeah, I'm that serious.