Saturday, December 17, 2011

A quick explanation

Without making excuses, I'd like to explain one reason for the dearth of information lately. I am currently working on another project that leaves less energy for most everything. But I'm happy to report that all the major systems are in place for the next addition to our family. We are on to the growing big enough to survive stage. We're excited for our next baby. I'm especially thrilled to have recently started the third trimester.

In the meantime, the children keep growing faster than I'm ready for. They are enjoying school, except for when they don't. The boys recently got haircuts all around. Football season is over. Young T still doesn't understand that there are some things 2 year-olds just shouldn't do. We haven't had stitches since Labor Day. The primary program went well. We are getting close to being done with eye therapy. (Hooray! Hooray!) Miss M went skiing. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving (with a reminder to be grateful for heat. The furnace broke over the holiday weekend. We've loved the heat since it was fixed.) And now we are preparing for the infusion of family coming next week.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Easy birthdays

I enjoy toddler birthdays. It is so easy to make a little one's day. Weeks ago, Young T turned 2. As part of his day, I took him to the dinosaur museum while the others were all at school. And, when that had been thoroughly enjoyed, we got him 2 balloons, stars and ducks. He loved it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Come, not go

Another lesson I've been repeatedly reminded of in the years since that small two bedroom apartment we lived in is that children respond much better if we say, "Come," rather than, "Go."

As with most of these principles, I have an image associated with this one. It involves time-out or being sent to the corner or the bedroom. I have found that if I say, "Go to your room," I am much less likely to have either compliance or respect from the child. But if I say, "Come to your room" and walk them to the bedroom for some time to start over, things go much, much better.

Recently, Young A needed to put the clothes in his hamper in his drawers. This was so overwhelming to him, he refused. If I had demanded and pushed, we would have had tears and anger. Instead, I remembered this principle and said, "Come, let's go do it together." I went with him. He was able to help do the job. At the end of it, I had a happy, calm boy.

I've learned that the more often I say "come", the easier it is for my kids to handle the times I have to say "go". They trust me more and can help me better.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Photo op

I think this is one of my favorite pictures of Young T.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Summer adventures

This summer, on one of our trips, we took the opportunity to stop at the museum at Hill Airforce Base. The large planes fascinated the children. They have asked to go back. I enjoyed seeing the amazing machines, although if I think too much about their purpose, I get troubled. I'm not sure I ever realized exactly how big some of these planes and such are.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The example of the bath

At the time I was learning to decide what was important and what was not, the Lord also taught me something important about children. Teaching children takes time and often feels completely unproductive, even when great learning is slowly happening. Again, I learn by stories and analogies, and the Lord had one for this.

Miss E had graduated from the baby tub in the big tub to bathing in the big tub itself. Of course, the bottom of the tub was slippery. Standing up, especially for a wobbly toddler, was not safe. And, of course, all she wanted to do was stand. I was so frustrated. Every bath she had for weeks would involve her standing and me sitting her back down as I said, "We sit down in the bath tub." We would do this over and over and over, probably 4-10 times a bath. I was certain she didn't understand and I was getting nowhere, but I didn't know what else to do. Then, suddenly, one day she got it. All the repetition clicked, and she understood.

Teaching children is one of the most frustrating things I do. It is truly exhilarating to watch them learn, but the work to get there drives me crazy. I've learned that children need lots and lots of patient, firm, consistent, kind repetition. Whenever I yell, things at my house go from bad to worse. When I'm not firm they know they can walk all over me. When I'm not consistent, they hold out the bad behavior, hoping to get away with it this time. And if I'm not kind, my children become an emotional mess (see yelling.) But if I'm patient, firm, consistent and kind long after I think I have to be, they learn and they are confident that they understand both my love for them and the boundaries in our house. Having my children have the security that comes from this type of learning is priceless. I think this is why my mother would say some things over and over and over, even when we didn't seem to be listening. (It reminds me of dealing with teenagers.) Eventually, when it seems least likely, children (and teenagers) hear what we as parents have been saying for so long.

One thing I've learned from the example of an aunt of mine is that this repetition isn't always doing the same thing. Sometimes it is changing the program but keeping the principle the same until something works. This is true for things like chore charts, reward systems, potty training, family prayer, and family scripture study. It isn't that you always do the same thing, it's that you always teach the same thing.

The other main example of this for me (and the time the Lord is most likely to remind me of it) is bedtime. There comes a point with each child where they are capable of getting up whenever they want. Teaching them to go to bed often involves repeatedly returning them to bed or encouraging them repeatedly to return to bed. Eventually they figure it out.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Companion Cube

OK, so this isn't really my project, but I wanted to share it. The Professor's sister made this adorable stuffed companion cube (from the video game Portal) for her husband. I was lucky enough to be the consultant/assistant for the project. Didn't she do an amazing job?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Approved chaos

Young T seems to have passed from his rebellious phase to a very mischievous phase. As proof, I submit these pictures. (Do you know anyone living around here with a mohawk that isn't somewhat rebellious?) The amazing curly mohawk has evolved into quite the mess of curls. As much as I loved the mohawk, this wildness makes up for its loss.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The example of the cello

When Young M was born, I had a 4 year old, a 2 (almost 3) year old, a 1 year old, and a newborn in a two bedroom apartment. Needless to say, the next year was quite interesting. At times, understandably, I wondered a lot about teaching my children and discipline. Often, when the toys weren't picked up or Young A was running away in public or I was dealing with another tantrum, I wondered if I knew how to teach my children. There are so many voices out there that, to a desperate mother, sound like they are saying "Just follow my system, and your kids will be well behaved. Do any thing different and risk raising hellions." Yet all the systems are different.

At this time, the Lord taught me something he repeatedly reminds me of. If something is really important to me, I already know how to teach it to my children.

The example He used was the Professor's cello. The Professor has played the cello since elementary school. He has a beautiful cello that he uses to make beautiful music. We keep the cello in a specific place in its case. The children are not allowed to play with the case. If a child (or baby) wanders over there, they are redirected and taught not to play with it (even if I'm busy.) When the cello is out of its case, they are supervised and taught to be gentle. Because the cello is important to the Professor and could easily be damaged, I will interrupt making dinner, reading a book, supervising homework, or a phone call, for the few minutes it takes to teach a child that the cello is not a toy.

When I'm not listening as carefully, sometimes the Lord reminds me of another example to get my attention. Young T has been fascinated with the outdoor world. We live on the corner of a semi-busy street with a not-fenced-in yard. He is not safe without supervision. And yet, he knows how to unlock all but one lock on the outside doors. He can even remove (and replace) the plastic baby-proof door knob we've used to slow him down. Consequently, if I see an open door, I interrupt whatever I'm doing to find him and shut the door. Now he is often the one shutting the door if someone leaves it open. I don't trust him yet, but we are on our way.

As I thought about this, I realized that the things I'm frustrated with in disciplining my children are usually one of two things. Either, they are things that are important to me, but I'm not treating them as important, or they are things that are important to other people but not to me (so then I feel like I ought to teach them but I don't want to.) So I now try, when I remember, to decide which it is.

If something (having children pick up their toys or clear the dishes or stay right with me when we're on a walk or not hit their sibling or talk to me with a respectful voice) is bothering me, I decide if it is important to me or not right now. If it is important, then I have to treat it as important and interrupt whatever I'm doing when the situation arises. I need to continue trying things to teach my children appropriate behavior until it finally sinks in. I need to be consistent, even when I'm busy or exhausted. If it isn't important to me at the time, then I let it go, even if those around me don't understand or judge me for my choice. If it isn't worth the fight, it isn't worth the angst.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A pencil case

Miss M needed a pencil case for school that was not a pencil box. I wasn't in the mood to take my entourage to the store to spend more money right before school started. So I made one.

I only used things I already had. The zipper is from a pair of pants that were worn out. The fabric from the stash. The pattern was loosely taken from a pencil case the Professor's amazing mother had made for us in the past.

Like all such projects, it took longer than I hoped and there are plenty of mistakes that I see, but I'm pleased with the result. Thankfully, so is Miss M.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Our family is spoiled in so many ways. This summer the children were thrilled with the opportunity to experience horses at their aunt and uncle's house. Boots and hats were provided (and required, if they fit.) I don't think Miss M ever wanted to get off.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Busy. Sorry.

I wish I had time to post a bit more. I'll get there. But today I've still got to register kids for school, hit the case lot sale, and figure out how and when we're going to replace the garbage disposal. (I don't think using one with a hole in the side is an acceptable option.) I spent this morning taking inventory of our food storage (so I know what to buy at the case lot sale), discovering and cleaning up a nasty mess under the sink, and troubleshooting the disposal to figure out that it really is broken. (Thanks, Dad, for walking me through it all! I do so much better with moral support.) And of course, this is all being done with my entourage. Anyhow, if things ever calm down, I'll take more pictures of my latest quilting endeavors and share some new fun games with you. But for right now, I've got to get to work! Bye.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quick Apron

I needed a project recently and we needed another apron. So I found an old, worn out pair of little girl capris and rearranged them. This is the result. Miss E is thrilled to have an apron that actually fits. Miss M is thinking it should be her turn next.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


On a recent trip to see family, the children had a marvelous time playing with cousins. They are old enough now to enjoy each other's company and get along. They didn't want to come home.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Spinach Pesto

(Original recipe found here)

2 cups spinach
1-2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup almonds
3/4 tsp salt
dash of lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil

Put everything in blender. Pulse until smooth. (A food processor may work better, but mine is too small.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Forbidden Island

We have a fun cooperative game we like called Forbidden Island. The premise of the game is that the players are a group of fortune hunters who have landed on an island with four treasures. The island has been enchanted (or something) to protect the treasures. Throughout the game, the island sinks. The players try to grab the treasures and get out of there before they are trapped on the sinking island. Either everyone escapes and wins or everyone loses.

I knew the kids liked the game, but I was still surprised when they made their own pretend version of it one summer afternoon. Each blanket and pillow was a piece of the island. Sometimes they'd sink and have to be fixed. Sometimes they'd sink and be gone forever. Sometimes they'd move. The kids jumped around from place to place doing whatever it was they had decided was their goal. They stayed busy for quite a while that afternoon.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Curse of the Peach Yogurt

I seem to have been cursed. I'm not quite sure when it happened, but it was sometime after Miss M joined our family. I thought I had escaped the curse when I fled from the Midwest, but it seems to have found me again. I'm not sure I will ever understand why peach yogurt and upset tummies so often go hand in hand around here. But, for the next few days, peach yogurt is banned from the premises (or at least hidden in the back of the fridge.)

Block Sampler 1.21 ~ Dresden Plate (almost done)

I still need to finish the middle. The pattern calls for a circle of red appliqued to the middle. I think I may just turn under the middle edges and skip the red. I like it better this way.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Thought of the day

"The saints have never been free to plan their own future, because the Lord has done it for them, usually to their extreme discomfort and always to their great advantage." ~Hugh Nibley in The World and the Prophets, page 239

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Summer Snack

One of our favorite, slightly sticky, summer snacks is frozen grapes. They are quite easy to make.

Simply wash some of your favorite variety of grapes, take them off the stem, and put them on a pan in the freezer. In a day or two, pull out a handful and enjoy a quick, bite-size popsicle. (After they are frozen, you can move the grapes to a freezer bag for easier storage.)

If you store them in a slightly accessible place, watch out for little ones helping themselves.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Just my size

The Professor and Young T have a running disagreement over who the Dell Mini is for. Young T is certain that since it is just his size, it must be his. Yet the Professor has the audacity to believe that because he bought it and keeps important things on in, it should be his. Each night, we usually find one of them sitting on the bed using the laptop to the chagrin of the other.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Miss M's birthday dinner

At our house, the birthday child usually gets to choose dinner on their day. Miss M recently chose one of my favorites, Chicken Tikka Masala (original here.) I wish all my children liked it as much as I do.

Chicken Tikka Masala

1 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more for spicier)
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (more for spicier)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
about 7 or 8 chicken tenders (or 3 chicken breasts)

2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons diced green chilies (or 2 jalapenos, chopped)
4 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 can evaporated milk (or 2 cups heavy cream)

Mix the yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Marinate the chicken in this for an hour in the fridge. (I put it in a ziploc to mix and marinate.)

Grill, or cook, the chicken until juices run clear. I use a George Foreman or a frying pan with oil.
Cut into bite size pieces. (You can do this first if you want, but I prefer to do it after the chicken is cooked.)

Melt butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and chili peppers for 1 minute. Add 4 teaspoons cumin, paprika, and 2 teaspoons salt. Stir in tomato sauce and milk (or cream). Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. (Sauce will be thinner if you use milk instead of cream.) Add cooked chicken, and simmer another 10 minutes. Serve over rice or quinoa or similar grain.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer, so far

Summer has been busy around here. Some of our highlights:

~The Professor got to go with the young men of our church on their trip to Lake Powell. He enjoyed it immensely.

~The kids have had ear infections, stitches (in toes!), allergies, pink eye, warts, and sore throats.

~I got to spend a few days with some sister-in-laws (and some girlfriends of my brothers). We had a fabulous time.

~The kids have enjoyed the library's weekly crafts and story-times.

~We've started our job charts three different times (and fallen behind twice...).

~We took the kids to the fourth of July parade.

~We took the family up to visit Grandma and Grandpa. The kids collected eggs, transplanted squash, picked strawberries, rode horses, jumped on the tramp, and climbed trees with cousins. And we made it to my grandma's ninetieth birthday party: lots of fun with lots of people.

~Young A has started up his weekly eye therapy again.

~We've celebrated two birthdays.

~The fruit stands are opening again. I love fresh fruit season.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

You'd think they were related...(updated)

When Young A was 15 months old, naps could be difficult. One particular day, he was extremely sleepy, so I tried to get him to sleep on any soft surface I could find--the bed, the crib, the couch. He refused. Sometime later, I found him sleeping on our pile of shoes.

Recently, we found Young T had
put himself to sleep, just like his older brother did. His ridiculous bed of choice was at the bottom of the stairs.

(If you ask my dad, I probably deserve it. As I child, I was known to sleep on the floor of my room just a few feet away from a perfectly good bed.)

Update: The Professor kindly supplied me with the appropriate picture from his childhood. I wanted to share it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

This week's afternoon snack: Hummus

Hummus (original found here)

1 can chickpeas (drain half the liquid)
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
sprinkle of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
dash of sesame oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2-1 teaspoon dried parsley

Put it all in a blender and blend until smooth. Add more water if necessary. Eat with tortilla chips or however you enjoy hummus.

(I added twice the lemon juice. Oops. It had quite the tang. The kids generally liked it, although Miss E thought it had too much lemon.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cuckoo Wasp

We've solved the mystery of our shy, backyard resident. Near the top of our backyard, there are a couple of what look like ant hills with large holes the size of a pencil eraser in them. Occasionally, one of us would catch a glimpse of a quickly retreating green head, but that was all. I finally asked the Extension agent about it.

We've got cuckoo wasps. I had no idea they even existed. Aren't they beautiful? Apparently they help pollinate and don't sting. So, we'll let them stay.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pioneer children

We had a fun time dressing up for a pioneer parade two summers ago. A kind woman in our neighborhood helped fit us out with appropriate costumes.