Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"I'm Dreaming of a Golden Turkey"

That title is the precursor to "White Christmas".

I am about to attempt my first big turkey. I've done a turkey breast in the crockpot before, which I quite like and was tempted to do this year. But Abe encouraged me to try a big bird. It is defrosting in my fridge right now and I actually dreamt about my bird last night. I had to get out my roasting pan this morning to make sure it would fit. It does. Barely.

We are anxious for our good friends from Pocatello to join us for Thanksgiving. They have five little people. They homeschool. The dad is working his way through school. They are not rolling in the dough.

As you can see we have A LOT in common and we look forward to great conversation and lots of knowing laughs. But before that can happen, my little people and I must get this house in shape. I think we're calling off school for the whole week. I just decided that right now. Yep, stick a fork in me-- I'm done.

Random note: My high school history and government teacher had two sayings that I try to use whenever I get a chance. They just make me smile. As a Thanksgiving gift I will share them with you. Feel free to use them whenever you get a chance.

1. Stick a fork in him. He's done.

2. The chances are Slim to none, and Slim's out to lunch.

That's the great thing about a blog. It's yours and you can write anything you want. Even if it is completely ridiculous and you're in one of those moods. My apologies. I've got turkey on the brain.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Italian Thanksgiving

It was the third (or fourth, no one could remember) annual Italian Thanksgiving at the Clarks with our book club.

The food-- DIVINE

The company-- THE BEST

I praise the day that Christine bought her Bucco di Beppo cookbook and first had the idea of an Italian Thanksgiving.

The meal is always the same:
Betsy: foxylicious salad
Jennilyn: to-die-for-bread
Andrea: paper products (pretty ones)
Christine: personal pizzas for the kids, marinara sauce, pasta, meatballs, pumpkin chocolate chip muffins (they may not be Italian, but who cares? They're yummy), and MACARONI-and-CHEESE--You would have to taste it to believe just how good it is. I think I would love to eat her macaroni and cheese everyday for the rest of my life. I would weigh 500 lbs if I did, but it is so good. . . it might be worth it.

Alan and Abe. Abe is usually the photographer, so we had to get one with him in it. I would be the photographer more often, except the camera and I are still fighting. It hates me. That's okay. . . I hate it, too.

Andrea and Christine. Christine really does the lion's share of the work. But let this be a lesson to NEVER start a tradition that requires you to do most of the work. I'm sorry Christine, you are just too good of a cook. If you make yucky food, we wouldn't expect you to do it anymore! Word to the wise.

One more picture.

Notice how Cannon is securely strapped in his stroller.

We did let him out his confinement at regular intervals, but the Clark's house is WAY fancier than our house and Cannon was finding WAY too many fun things to destroy.
This was a better arrangement for everyone involved.

Three Rooms of his Own?

Poor Clark. He's having trouble settling in.

You see, for most of his life he has had his own room. The girls have pretty much always shared. Bethany, Elinor, and Faith share one room-- quite happily, I might add. They can't get close enough. They often all pile onto one twin size bunk bed.

Clark has a room upstairs, albeit one he now shares with Cannon, who is a very light sleeper. Consequently, no light or books on tape at night.

Clark has a room down in the basement, albeit one that is not finished, is very cold in the winter, and is two flights of stairs away from a bathroom. It's very good in the summer, however.

I admit neither are great options. So he has now claimed the family room and is camping with his sleeping bag. He has set up the card table as his makeshift desk. I guess I'm okay with this.
He tells me he will conquer the whole house next. I don't think I'll be okay with that.

Around the World in 80 Days

We recently did our monthly kids' book club. The book was Around the World in 80 days and Cannon got into the spirit of it. You can see my dad in the background. He came down and brought some money from different countries for the kids to see.

I'm sorry I didn't get any other pictures of our activity, but it was great! The kids all brought some kind of snack/treat from another country to share. We had goat cheese from Norway, rice candy from Japan, cookies from England, french bread, and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

What? Why Kentucky Fried Chicken?

In the story they pass through Utah on a train and get quite a lesson in Mormonism. The first KFC was in Salt Lake City. It was a hit--the kids loved it.

We also had a geography bee based on questions from the book. It was boys vs. girls because in our family room we have two couches that face each other. All the girls crowd on one side and all the boys crowd on the other. We're talking 8-11 year olds. They are at that age where cooties are a real concern. "Circle, circle, dot dot. Now you've got the cootie shot". A few more years and I'll be wishing they didn't want to sit by each other.

Sadly for the girls, the boys were on average about 2 years older than the girls, so the boys wiped the floor with the girls. But the girls sure screamed loud when they did get one right! We threatened the girls that if they kept screaming so loud we would have to take points away. That's when we thought it would be a little more even. I didn't have the heart to actually take any points away. Consequently, the screaming continued.
Next month, A Christmas Carol.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Boys' Night

Last night the girls had some friends over to watch a movie. So tonight was boys night.
Clark invited some neighborhood boys over to play games. They had a great, loud time.

Can you believe that of the seven boys that were here, only one comes from a non-homeschooling family. That one boy is wonderful too. We seriously hit the homeschool jackpot in our neighborhood! What makes it so nice is that all sorts of schooling are "normal" here. Some kids are at public schools, some at charter schools and some do homeschool. I think that is how it should be.

Here is the SCARY picture of the night. Let's see; there are 8 boys in this picture and then. . . there is Bethany. And she couldn't have been more pleased with the odds. Oh, give me strength.

This weekend I am feeling very grateful to have friends and to live around good people. I am so thankful my children have good friends. Family comes first, but good friends are a close second.

On Guard! and Other Moments I Want to Remember

Faith and Cannon sparring in an early morning duel- a pan lid for a shield and drum sticks for weapons.

I quite look forward to watching these two grow up together. They are just a bit over 2 years apart. Cannon is the dominant one both physically and audibly (he is very loud). Faith is very sweet with him and finds retreat is usually the best course of action.

She tries to look tough, but come on! Who does she think she is kidding?

Bethany is re-reading a Mary Pope Osborne series of Tales of the Odyssey. Both she and Clark really enjoyed these books so I recommend them for young (and not so young) readers.

Bethany had a dance performance this afternoon. She did very well and Abe kept saying, "I didn't know she had gotten so good!" She has moved past little girl stage where it is just so cute to see them up there, to actual dancing and staying together and choreography.

We are making a change for dance at the new year. She will start at a studio closer to home that is more ballet and less jazzed-based. She will just focus on ballet (at least for a while). It will be less of a time and financial commitment. Hooray on both counts!

Sometimes it is difficult for me to physically restrain myself from eating her up.
Abe and Clark made a little snow fort in the back yard.

Oh, the joy of childhood. There are some pictures that just say it all. This is one of them.

Croc Hunter Want-To-Be

Abe is a new Webelos leader in our ward. They had their first den meeting with Abe and they worked on The Naturalist activity badge.
Clark was more than happy to help out by bringing out his collections-- insects, snakes, snake-skins. The climactic moment was to be the snake eating a mouse. Alas, the snake wasn't hungry so we didn't get to see any real action. Disgusting, I know. And yet, it is intriguing to watch.

Sometimes we like to watch old re-runs of Steve Irwin the Croc Hunter. Clark and Steve have a lot in common. Clark cried buckets of tears when Steve died. I hope Clark gets to use all his naturalist knowledge and passion when he grows up.

A funny little note about the uneaten mouse. The next day Faith had a little friend come over to play. This little gal was interested in looking at the snakes. Then she realized there was a little white mouse in with the bigger snake. She was somewhat alarmed and told Faith, "There is a mouse in there!"
Faith responded nonchalantly, "It's for the snake to eat."
The friend, more than a bit alarmed now, said, "But I don't want the snake to eat it!"

Because we've had Clark for 10 years now and he's caught about 20+ snakes, several toads, lizards, geckos, spiders, you name it-- we are quite accustomed to scaly wildlife. Faith doesn't realize WE'RE NOT NORMAL!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Give it a Rest!

A few weeks back Clark learned of a video game called "Spore". It sounds like a disease to me.
About two weeks ago he decided he would purchase the game for himself. As many of you know, video games aren't cheap, but he worked like a dog to earn the money. The boy raked 24 garbage bags of leaves. He did many jobs around the house. Who knew he could work so hard? Well, I knew. I've seen this boy in action when he has set his mind to something. It's frightening and best to just get out of his way. I'm telling you, the boy harassed me incessantly for money-earning jobs to do. I was running out of jobs to give him, not to mention running out of money to pay for said jobs.
Last night his moment of triumph arrived! Abe got his money from him in the morning and picked up the game for him after work. Unfortunately for Clark, Abe had class last night and didn't get home until 9:30pm. Too late for video games, besides he had already used his computer/wii time (45 minutes) for the day. It would have to wait till the next day.
This morning Clark set his alarm for 6:00 so he could get ready, do jobs, get all his school work and practicing done so he could play his game. He was done by 10:00 am. He played for his 45 minutes. It was all he hoped it would be and more, but not long enough.

But then what? It was only 11:00. The boy changed his tactics. He switched his focus to begging for jobs to do to earn more Wii time.

For the LOVE OF PETE (sorry, Dad)-- Will you give it a rest!!!!!!
I did let him earn 10 more minutes, but I could see the pattern developing. I have to be very strict of computer/wii time. I think it is fine to play some, but that is not what children should spend their formative years focusing on. I know, I know-- I'm mean.

So he switches tactics again. "Can I get all his school stuff for tomorrow done tonight so I can just wake up and play." (That's just what we need-- for you to be done by 8 am)


"Then I'm setting my alarm for 5 am to get all my stuff done earlier."

You need your sleep.

"Can I go to bed now? (It is 5:30 pm) so I can get enough sleep?

Sure. (He did go down to his room at 7:00 pm to try to go to sleep.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Next Installment

This is the next installment of a series I will henceforth call: "Conversations With Elinor". If you recall the first of the series was all about "What if?".

With five little chickadees I don't have oodles of opportunities to be alone with each child, but this morning was one of those rare moments with Elinor. It went something like this:

Elinor: Mom, are there other universes?

Me: Yes, I think there are (why not?)

Elinor: Are there aliens who live there?

Me: "Alien" just means they aren't from here. I think there are people that live in other universes. (Wow! Do I sound crazy or what?)

Elinor: What if those aliens crash into my room at night?

Me: I don't think that will happen.

Elinor: Well, why not?

Me: I don't think Heavenly Father wants Aliens to crash into your room.

Elinor: Mom, do you think aliens go to church?

Me: I'm not sure, but probably.

Elinor: Hmmm. I wonder what their churches look like?

Me: That is an interesting thing to think about.

Do you know how hard it is to keep a straight face during "Conversations with Elinor"? Her train of thoughts are so bizarre to me.

Sometimes she comes up with things during lunch and Clark and Bethany just look at her, dumbfounded. They know they can't say something mean to her, but they don't know what to say because she is so RANDOM! Dang, we love this girl. Is she destined to be a famous science fiction author?

Stay tuned for the next installment; coming as soon as I can alone with her again!

Friday, November 6, 2009

An Evening Well Spent

We had our Primary Talent Show this evening and I was so pleased with how it turned out. Sorry, I don't have pictures to post-- I was too busy enjoying the show. Plus, our camera has never been the same since an unfortunate incident with sand in Oregon this summer.
Abe was the Master of Ceremonies, complete with "groaner" jokes. We had 25 acts, with a great variety. Clark did some TaeKwonDo. He let me help out with his one-step sparring and I got to make a death face when he took me out. Bethany played violin, and Elinor did piano.
What a delightful way to spend an evening. It was fun to connect with our fellow ward members and cheer for each other. Of course I'm biased, but I thought Abe did a fabulous job as MC. He did get another gig to help out with an upcoming Elders' Quorum Iron Chef style soup cook off. The secret ingredient is SALT!

This afternoon we headed to a park for the kids to play and for me to enjoy some time with a wonderful, neighbor-friend. I realized I was a bit starved for some adult conversation. We don't have quite as many homeschool club/activities going on this semester as last year. I am enjoying the lighter schedule, but I am missing the involvement with other amazing women. I'll have to think about how to balance that. Truth be told, I'm just afraid to take Cannon out to many places. He frightens me.

After the talent show we came home and finished reading Around the World in 80 Days. We really liked it. That is our next kids' book club book.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Unbelievable Fall Weather

We are enjoying a long stretch of unseasonably warm fall weather. The kiddos were anxious to get out and enjoy it.

Abe's parents gave these tricycles and wagons to the kids when Clark and Bethany were very young. They are the best! They are strong enough that even I can ride them. It's not very pretty. It may seem silly that even my older kids still enjoy them, but they do. They were pulling Cannon and Faith around in them today. They padded the wagon with leaves so the little ones could have a comfy ride.

Cruising the neighborhood with his big brother. Life is good.

Bethany and her friends took Faith and Cannon to play at the neighborhood park for a little while. Faith loves to play with the big girls.

And what were these two doing collecting all those sticks?

I don't know. I tried to ask them, but neither could give me a good explanation of the purpose of the sticks. But they played with them for a long time. Once again, proof that kids don't need the latest and greatest techno-toys. Just give them a pile of sticks and call it good. This could save me some money for Christmas!

My sister runs a business (sweetcheeksbabydesign.com)--go check it out. Anyway, she orders a lot of products and gets tons of boxes. She wasn't sure what do do with all of them. I said, "BRING THEM HERE! My kids love to play with cardboard boxes!" Nothing makes you feel like a good parent like giving your kids a huge pile of trash to play with.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Trick-or-Treat Etiqutte by Betsy

What a ham. This is his "cheese" smile for the camera.

Then he got this conk on his head. He ran into a bookcase. Clark got a very similar goose egg running into the same bookcase at the same age.

Let the festivities begin. We had a great Halloween evening.
But I have some trick-or-treat issues I need to share.

I am totally fine with the trick-or-treat tradition. There are families, quite a few in home school circles, who don't want to be involved with trick-or-treating. They have very good reasons, which I can totally respect. They fill the void with other fun Halloween traditions and I say, "Good for you!" Some families don't feel comfortable going around their neighborhoods. Once again, "fine".

But as for me and my house, we will happily extort candy from our neighbors.

But last night I noticed an APPALLING lack of trick-or-treat manners.
There are two acceptable methods of trick-or-treating. The first, and my preferred is:
The children ring the doorbell. I open the door. They said (in a sing-song voice), "Trick-or-treat!"
I smile at them; Tell them how wonderful they look; Give them candy. They smile at me and say, "Thank you!".

The second method, less preferred, but still acceptable and possibly more in the spirit of the season:
They yell in a more menacing voice "TRICK-OR-TREAT!" before even ringing the door bell. I open the door; feign fright at their costumes; give them candy. They yell, "THANK YOU!" as they run away at full speed to their next house.

The "thank you" is key.

However, it is NOT okay to come to my door and just push your candy collecting pillowcase in my face and say nothing, before or after the candy. I will just wait for them to say something. It can get awkward.

And don't even think about coming without a costume. A couple of boys tried that. One of them, when questioned about his costume, said he was the "original white boy". I gave him one Jolly Rancher and told him to come back with a costume if he wanted good candy.

Yes, I realize that my response probably prompted the smashing of three of our pumpkins. Oh well. Someone must teach him.

And lastly. How old is too old to trick-or-treat? Might I suggest 13 or 14 TOPS!
Young men, once your voice changes--that's it. The gig is up. Just know that you will not get good candy at my house once you are as tall as I am.
This is Cannon's first trick-or-treat. My neighbor put candy in his bag and Cannon just stared into his pumpkin, like he couldn't believe she was just giving it to him.

Let the trading, bargaining and negotiating commence! But so help me if I find candy wrappers on the floor. . .!