Sunday, January 27, 2013

Life Goes On

The good news is, that despite my bad attitude as of late, life is going on and we're involved in many good things.  The bad news is... well, I'm tired of complaining today, so I'll not go there tonight.
Happy 38th birthday to Abe today!  We celebrated, although not in the grandest fashion.  Elinor made him a cake, and Bethany frosted it.  The girls all made him cards and I made him a nice dinner.  He got to take an uninterrupted nap this afternoon and last night we went to see The Scarlet Pimpernel with friends.  Nothing too fancy, but it was a nice quiet Sunday afternoon.  Well, it was as quiet as our house ever is. 
We went up to Layton this morning for a nephew's mission farewell.  It was a wonderful meeting and the kids enjoyed playing with cousins. 
I'm grateful that Abe doesn't have over the top birthday expectations, but he only has a couple more years until his big 4-0.  I'll have to start thinking of something fun for that.  Perhaps we might have done more this year, but we were very busy this weekend running kids around the valley all day on Saturday.
Abe took Faith, Elinor, and Bethany up to the University of Utah on Saturday morning for the Utah Lego League Championships.  Clark wasn't competing this year, but Faith was involved on a Jr. FLL team.  This is for ages 6-9 and the kids do get to talk with the judges and get awards, but it's not a competition.
The theme for FLL was Super Seniors.  My dad came and talked to the kids a few months ago about how things have changed since he was a kid.  Faith was so proud to have her grandpa come.  This group of kids was actually divided up into two different teams.  Faith's team learned all about the history of the telephone.
The little guy in orange to the right of Faith and the little guy in navy blue to the left of her are also siblings of Clark's PiPod friends.  Elinor is anxious to be on an FLL team next year.  This year she and another set of PiPod siblings are learning all about programming this year so they will be ready next year.
I was so pleased to hear that Faith was very talkative with the judges in explaining their project and their little contraption they built and programmed.  I didn't realize she understood things so well, but even more so I didn't realize she had overcome her shyness.  Her team won a "Master Programmer" award.  She loved it!

 Clark went on a Winter camp out Friday night and got home in time for me to run him downtown for a speech and debate tournament.  He participated in the student congress and got to present his bill to ban texting while driving.  He was happy to get an honorable mention at the awards ceremony. 
These two are so yummy to me!  They were so excited to go to cousin Brigham's birthday party at Jungle Jims on Saturday afternoon.  It's kind of like Chucky Cheese's but with more rides.  They don't get to go places like this very often, so they were in heaven.
They were both very brave to go on all the rides together. 
It's not very often that it's just the little boys and me and I must say that I enjoyed my time with them immensely, even if these places aren't anywhere near the top of where I'd like to spend my time. 
I think Grandpa Cannon should get some kind of special award for going to the party and cheering for and waving to his little grand kids on the rides.
This past week Elinor and Faith made themselves some muffins and dolled themselves up for a tea party.  Whatever it takes to get through the long Winter days.
 Nice head dresses, huh?  They are snow hats George, Cannon, and Faith made at story time at the library.

One other really great thing this week was our neighborhood book club.  I didn't enjoy the book at all--The Ultimate Gift, which I hear is a great movie, but it's a lame book.  Even so, I enjoy book club so much and it is a joy to spend time with my neighbors and friends.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Tortured Mind

Well folks, it's January.  It is so very, very cold  here in the great state of Utah.  There is a beyond nasty inversion causing super dirty air that makes a lot of people sick, not to mention depressed.  I want to stay positive-- I really do.  But I'm about to cave.  The negative is crowding into my mind and I never remember craving warmth and sunshine like I do right now.  Can one diagnose oneself with SAD (seasonal affect disorder)?  I think I shall.  I have SAD.

Now before I share with you all my deepest worries and fears, you should know something.  I'm fairly sure that certain female cyclical factors are at play at the moment.  You hear what I'm saying, right.  Sorry, I can't go into more detail than that.  I do have some male readers (at least my dad reads) and we wouldn't want to upset their sensitive natures.  Suffice it to say, anything I share right now may or may not be the reality of my life.  Judge me not, just be a good friend, who sits and secretly listens to me whine while cloaked in the anonymity of the internet. 

When I get feeling down I always get discouraged.  About lots of stuff.  See for yourself.

1.  My house is a mess-- even though I feel like I am cleaning all the time.  That's not entirely true.  I'm too smart to clean all the time.  I spend a lot of time chasing after kids to do their jobs and clean up their messes.  I tell myself I am training them and eventually they'll get it and just clean up after themselves.  But truthfully I don't think I'm succeeding.  I try to pare down our belongings so we don't have so much stuff to take care of, but I feel overrun with junk anyway. 

2.  We don't eat healthy enough.  I have the worst genes on the planet and I have to help my children understand the importance of eating healthy and exercising.  I am trying really hard, but nobody seems to be responding.  Do you think they've found my secret chocolate stashes and suspect I am not all I profess to be?  Do they smell hypocrisy?   

3.  Today is Martin Luther King Jr. day and I kid you not, when I asked my girls who MLK was they were completely stumped.  Oh, good heavens!!!  Is this where homeschooling has taken us?  How have I missed that?  I also realized that several of my children probably couldn't recite their street address if needed.  Can you spell F-A-I-L. 
For the record-- each of their school assignments today was to write a report about MLK.  Which I'm sure they just plagiarized from the internet.  Pointing out yet another failing of my home school.

4. Bethany was learning her lyrical dance at an extra long dance rehearsal this afternoon.  When she got into the car she was discouraged because throughout the dance different groups of girls dance different parts.  She wasn't in as much of the dance as she would have liked.  I'm okay with kids learning to deal with disappointment, but I felt that Bethany is at a disadvantage because she only does ballet and lyrical, rather than ballet, lyrical, jazz, and hip hop like almost all the other girls.  Oh, sure, I'd love for her to be able to do it all at dance but I'd also like to be able to have a car to drive, food to eat, and heat.  Choices, choices.

5.  Cannon is so neglected.  I don't know what he does all day.  I know its not cute little learning activities and story time and snuggles with mom.  He begs for cheese sticks and granola bars a lot.  Oh, and he scales the bunk beds with contraptions of tae kwon do belts.  As it turns out he does know a lot of the letters of the alphabet-- no thanks to me. I've got to give props to PBS kids and Leapfrog Letter Factory for that. 

6.  Is that just how it has to go?  In large families are the younger children destined to be raised by the village of siblings?  Do the mama and papa mean nothing?  I am taking the little boys to story time at the library tomorrow, but is it in vain?  Could someone please recommend a book to me about the joys of large families and very successful people (or at least very good, happy people) who were the youngest children in large families?

7.  Elinor WILL not stay on task.  For anything.  I am the world's most annoying broken record mother.  I can't stand to hear myself repeat the requests I make all day everyday.  And I know it's my own fault because if I had the guts and wherewithal to put some serious consequences into play, I'm pretty sure we could take care of this problem of incessant  lollygagging and distraction.  Alas, I am weak.

8.   One of my children, who shall remain nameless, was caught in a very unfortunate and blatant lie this weekend.  I was so sad.  I know it is not so unusual for a child to lie.  But it made me sad.  Am I not doing enough to teach values to my children?  Am I so involved in whatever else it is I am trying to teach--obviously not civil rights, but music or literature, perhaps, that I'm missing some big tickets items like "TELLING THE TRUTH!" 

9.   Every August I have a dream that I'm putting all the kids in public school and I'm so happy about it.  Then I wake up and am in such a bad mood all day.  Although I'm not sure at the moment, I'm quite certain that I usually enjoy homeschooling.  However, I would not be surprised to have a public school dream tonight.

10.   Joy of joys, I will be attending the upcoming Regency Romance Ball in February.  AND I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!  And I don't know how to sew and I am ashamed.  Which means I will probably have to wear the same white nightgown (it is literally a nightgown) with a different color ribbon.  And I don't have lovely long locks to do a fancy hairstyle this year.  Which means that rather than looking like a charming, fresh, young lady of repute, I will have to don some hideous feathered hairpiece and be the mature advisor to some other charming, fresh, young lady of repute for the evening.  I'm so depressed. 

So there you have it.  A glimpse into my tortured PMS racked mind.  The only good thing about the evening is that we were too tired to finish Downton Abbey last night so at least I still have that.  But truth be told, as much as I love Downton-- it might not be the healthiest thing for me.  Apparently I have some obsessive tendencies and I don't recognize when enough is enough.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Winter House Arrest

This evening my dad pointed out that I haven't been blogging much lately.  It's because I've been staying up late watching Downton Abbey.  So delicious.  It's 10:41, but we're going to be naughty and stay up to finish Season 3.  Oh, yes you can watch them all online right now and not have to wait for PBS on Sunday nights.  
All things lead to Downton, but I digress.  For my posterity's sake I will put up a few pictures of what we're doing to survive our Winter house arrest.  
Faith got her ukelele for Christmas and Elinor got this kid sized guitar and we already had the big guitar.  The girls were all learning some chords and singing along.  Serious music to my ears. 
Cannon is discovering the joy of Legos.  And since Cannon worships Clark and calls him "Master" and serves him unquestioningly, it is very good of Clark to allow Cannon access to his Legos.
I love, love, love it when children offer to prepare food..  Bethany makes fabulous breadsticks.
Faith is starting early in the family tradition of creating character sheets to D&D adventures.
Please, there is to be no criticizing the spelling or handwriting of any member of this family that is willingly trying to write on their own accord.  Such activities will ONLY be encouraged and praised.
But, there will be points awarded to anyone who can translate (into English) what she is trying to write.
Our kid's book club this month for Prince Caspian involved a sword fighting tournament.  The kids loved it and it was a good Winter activity that got some energy out without any actual destruction of property.  That's about all anyone can ask for.
Dare I say it?  Dare I officially declare that George is potty trained?  
I DO!!  I say for all the world to hear--- GEORGE IS POTTY TRAINED!!!!  Do you know what that means?  It means I have no children in diapers.  Over the past 13 1/2 years I have only enjoyed this luxury for about 2 1/2 months.  What will I do with all that extra diaper money?  The possibilities are limitless.

And lastly I would like to thank Ethan and Alex of "The Nightside Project" on KSL radio for being funny, clean, nice guys who entertain my 13 year old son on an almost nightly basis.  I believe that it is in large part due to them that Clark has become downright funny, and pleasant, and remarkably cooperative over the past few weeks.  I am eternally grateful.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Name Them One By One

Friends, bear with me.  I seriously want to let loose a string of complaints right now, the likes of which have never been seen on my blog. 
Bad.  I want to complain really bad.  But I know that will not make me feel any better.  So I'm going to force myself to count 10 blessings.

1.  I am so grateful to have a warm house to spend the day in and sleep in at night.  It is cold, cold, cold outside, but inside I feel quite comfy with a cozy sweater on.

2.  I am so grateful to have a functioning washer and dryer. I don't have to drive to a laundromat or be outside with a bucket of cold water and a washboard.  I do have a lot of laundry to fold, but I get to fold it in my warm house.

3.  I am so glad that surely but slowly, George is making potty progress.  He has voluntarily pooped on the potty two times.  Never mind the 15 other times.  Once again, thanks be to the washer and dryer.

4.  I never understood algebra very well when I was in Jr. high, high school, or even college.  Thanks to Clark and his troubles with algebra, I am really understanding it very, very thoroughly.  Maybe I'll add math tutor to my resume.

5.  I woke up this morning craving sweets and treats something fierce.  I could not get enough.  I felt beyond out of control.  I was so grateful that I had 1 1/2 hours this afternoon to go to the grocery store to stock up on healthy whole grains and fruits and veggies.  I even made some quinoa with spinach and feta cheese for dinner.  Go me.

6.  I am thankful for the cute lady at the library who does puppet shows every now and then.  It was very satisfying to spend some time with my little ones doing something a little less challenging than tutoring algebra.  And George is becoming quite reasonable in public these days.  No more shrieking and running away laughing.  I guess that behavior is reserved for church.

7.  I am so grateful to Abe for his hard work for our family.  He is wonderful and doesn't complain and is so good to all of us.  And he's helping to fold that mountain of laundry even as I write.    

8.  I am thankful for Jillian Michaels.  I do think she is a little vicious on the Biggest Loser, but I love her DVDs and I get a good workout without having to leave my house.  Although, I did go to a gym with my friend on Saturday and I quite enjoyed it.  Someday I think I'd like to go to a gym regularly, but for now, it will just be me and Jillian in the morning.

9.  I am thankful for my carpooling friend, Michelle.  She makes my life easier and makes it possible for my children to be places I might not be able to get them to.

10.  I am thankful for Downton Abbey.  It is a source of great joy-- I don't have to do anything but sit and enjoy it.  It asks nothing of me, except contributions from viewers like me.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Little by Little

Food and exercise are on my mind a lot because after the holiday season, I am recommitted to my fitness goals and hoping to slim down a bit more. 

Wow!-- I'm so original, aren't I?  Trying to slim down in the new year-- who has ever thought of that before?

Last night I began watching a health documentary on Netflix called Hungry for Change.  It focused on the addictive qualities of most processed foods we Americans eat in a regular diet.  Of course it was TRUE... and disturbing and frightening and depressing and induced me to make oaths of things I will never eat again.  Abe was listening in and swore to give up the Diet Coke and even went so far as to pour it down the drain. 
Hooray for us!   We're going to be healthier!!! 

This is the latest in several such health documentaries I've watched over the past couple of years, including Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, Forks Over Knives, and Food Inc.  After watching each one I am determined to make big changes.  Down with refined white flour!  Down with aspartame!  Down with MSG!  Down with soda pop!  Down with chicken and beef! (unless it's locally and organically raised)  Down with gluten! 

I am going to revolutionize my diet!!  TOMORROW!!!

I get up the next day and have oatmeal with a bit of honey.  Sadly it is not raw honey,  (that's supposed to be the really good stuff, right?) but it is honey and not brown sugar so I did well.  Then it's lunch time and I'm in a quandary.  I have no idea what to eat and I know I will have a riot on my hands if I try to feed my children anything weird.  I'm stuck.  So I make the kids sandwiches and then I grab a handful of almonds and a banana and some low fat cottage cheese and that's a pretty healthy lunch.  If I'm feeling adventurous I'll make a green smoothie (complete with spinach) and bribe children to try some.  Dinner is an even bigger dilemma.  I'm quite certain a casserole made from Campbell's Cream of Chicken soup is not on the "list of approved foods".  I'm sure it qualifies as a "food like substance".  After about 2 days of revolutionized eating I'm exhausted. 

As you can guess, I have not fully implemented any of these changes.   I think I should.  I totally believe my family and I would be healthier, but I haven't.  And yet I keep watching these documentaries.  I keep learning new things and my knowledge about healthy eating increases.  And although my progress is slow, little by little I am making changes.  Baby steps.  Baby steps to more whole grains.  Baby steps to more vegetables.  Baby steps to less processed food.  Baby steps to the elevator.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2013 So Far

I haven't had a lot to say since the new year started.  I sit down to blog this evening because I want to, not because there is anything glorious to report.
I do enjoy the holidays, but I feel a great sense of relief when they are over.  It's kind of like summer.  I stress myself out in the summer because I know we're supposed to be having a wonderful time, relaxing and making memories together.  But I'm afraid I do better with a schedule where we're keeping busy and getting things done and, dare I say, checking things off our lists.  Christmas break is shorter and busier, but it's exhausting for me to have that much fun without enough work.

I know, I bore myself.

But anyway, I was very happy to get back to our regular schedule.  All seemed right with the world again.  And yet the truth is, now that we're back into life I'm missing the fun.
Here is what's happening at our house in 2013.

---We are all trying to potty train George.  He isn't quite two and a half, and in the past I've wait until they are closer to three, but he's bright and I don't want to buy diapers anymore.  It's not going well enough to celebrate my diaper liberation, but it's not going poorly enough to throw in the diaper.  It's definitely taking longer than I was hoping.

---Cannon worships Clark.  He calls him, "My Master" or "My King".  Cannon calls himself, "Clark's Minion".  Is this just brotherly bonding or should I be concerned?  Cannon refuses hugs and snuggles from me and insists on snuggling with Clark.  And Cannon is four years old.  Four is definitely not my favorite age for my children.  I delight in their antics at three and they are adorable at five, but I'm never quite sure what to do with my four year-olds.  I also find seven year-old girls quite sassy.  And thus far 11 is a little rough as well.

---Downton Abby Season 3 has begun on PBS.  This brings me great joy.  Sunday night can't come fast enough.

---Several years ago Abe and I bought a Select Comfort/ Sleep Number bed.  It has been marvelous.  But recently (about two months ago) my side of the bed was no longer holding its correct amount of air and I was waking up with a sore back every morning.  We finally got around to figuring out there was a leak in the interior air mattress.  A replacement mattress came in the mail today.  I am hoping for a very comfortable, supportive night's sleep tonight.

---About a month ago I was released from my Primary President calling at church.  I served there for almost exactly four years and I loved it.  My favorite calling I've ever had.  I thought I would be heartbroken to say goodbye, but it's been okay.  I have been called to be a ward missionary, which basically means it is my calling to be a friend to everyone in the neighborhood.  I shall do my best.

---Clark thinks he doesn't like Algebra I.  Really?  He thinks he doesn't like Algebra?  How does he think I feel about teaching him Algebra?  Sing with me now..."We shall overcome.  We shall overcome".
---We're having a bit of a snowstorm this evening.  It has been SO cold lately with a nasty nasty nasty inversion.  By far the most depressing possible weather to start the new year with.  So although I'm not thrilled with a snowstorm, I prefer that to the dirty freezing air of an inversion.

---I totally fell off the healthy eating bandwagon for the last month and a half.  Grrr.  (I know no one really cares).  I'm back on and consequently I am very hungry even as I write this.  It seems twisted to me that I am happy when I go to bed hungry.  What am I?  Living in a third world country?  But I admit that when I go to bed hungry I feel like I've won.  What have I won?  I don't know, but I feel like a winner.  Like I have conquered myself.  Boy, does that sound like an eating disorder waiting to happen or what?
I didn't feel like a winner when I ate the coffee cake and pumpkin chocolate chip cake at book club today.  It was fun, but I wasn't a winner.  Oh, well.  Tomorrow is another day and then I'll be hungry again!!! (did anyone get my Gone With the Wind reference?)

---I just finished reading a book that was so enjoyable that I will recommend it to you.  It's light and fun and borders on frivolous, but I loved it and I loved the style it was written in.  Sorcery and Cecilia or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot.  Ooh, doesn't the name alone interest you?

---My vacuum is working again.  Thank you, Abe.  I will not reveal how long the vacuum was broken for.  All you need to know is that it is working now and it is now safe and sanitary to come to my house.  As long as you don't use my restroom. 

---I have been letting my kids watch the first couple of episodes of The Biggest Loser.   I have very mixed feelings about this decision.  On the one hand it shows people doing hard things, exercising, learning healthy ways of eating and considering our family genes I want them to be aware of the ills of obesity.  On the other hand Jillian has a potty mouth and I don't want to create food issues for them unnecessarily.
Any thoughts on my dilemma?  Do share.

---My brother is graduating from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia (where I went to high school) this coming May.  He has invited me and my siblings to his graduation and a little family reunion.  I hoped to go, and this week I learned of another event happening the very same weekend in the very same town that I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to go to.  The W.T. Woodson Alumni Band Concert.  AHHHH!!! How fun would that be?! Once a band geek, always a band geek.  I had the best time doing band in high school and I would love to see everyone again.  Abe is checking out plane tickets to see if we could make this work.  And now my anxiety about flying sets in.  I realize I'm moving into the realm of unhealthy, but I do NOT want to fly by myself.  Deep breaths. 
When I told my brother I was going to try to make it work he was surprised.  He'd heard that I wouldn't fly anymore.  (Who is spreading these vicious lies about me?)  I corrected him-- I hate flying, I will have major anxiety and I may need drugs, but I can still do it. 
I think.

---Abe and I currently have Jimmy Kimmel on in our room as we're getting ready for bed.  Dr. Oz is his guest.  Is it just me or does Dr. Oz look as much like an elf as anyone I've ever seen.  He should have been in Lord of the Rings.

---And now that this post has degenerated to this level it is time for me to sign off. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Years

Abe took the kids sledding to celebrate the New Year today.  By all reports it was THE BEST sledding ever!
They had so much fun going down in a giant group.  That does look like fun!
Well worth the trudge back up the hill.
Rachel was so sweet to go down with Faith many times.
Bethany has had LOTS of time with friends the last few days.  It could be an ugly adjustment tomorrow as we start back to school.
I'm glad they had such a fun time and I'm only a wee bit envious that I wasn't with them:)
We had our traditional New Years Eve celebration with friends playing games and eating masses of junk food.  We played Saboteur, Quirkle, Dominion, and Bohnanza.  It was a great night for games.  
 Poor Elinor ate too much junk and ending up with an upset tummy and then fell asleep early.
Matthew is George's most favorite person.  He wouldn't leave him alone last night and he won't leave him alone at church either.  
Matthew was Faith's favorite person last night as well.   They were team mates for Quirkle and they smeared the competition.
Happy New Years!