Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Grateful for Cilia that Work in the Usual Way

Have you ever wondered what your cilia do? Do you even know what your cilia are? I still don't exactly get how these little hair-like things work, but my sister, Shawni and her family along with our who extended family now know way more about cilia. Shawni's sweet little Lucy has a very rare genetic disorder that was diagnosed this past year. To add some new things to your list of what you're especially grateful for this Thanksgiving (and find a really great and easy Christmas gift idea), click on the link below to read the following information my mom put together (and see photos of my cute niece Lucy):

The I Love Lucy Project

Thank You Notes

So this year we started a new Thanksgiving tradition. Last week at Family Home Evening, we talked about all the people we're grateful for - from grandparents to teachers to garbage men. Then I pulled out all these thank you notes I have over from my wedding (sometimes things you save for 11 years actually do come in handy) and we all wrote thank you notes to the people who we're grateful for. The notes were simple and the little kids drew cute pictures. We had the older kids write at least one specific thing they were thankful for about the person they were writing to so the note could be more meaningful. It was a great exercise for them to have to think through what other people do for them and what they're specifically thankful for. I wrote some thank you notes too. I do thank you emails to people quite a bit - but a real handwritten note in the mail can be a nice thing once in a while. The kids complained a bit about the writing but once they got into it, everyone seemed to realize it wasn't too hard. And when they gave those notes out to teachers at school and teachers at church and various other people they're thankful for, they were so excited.

Another thing we've been doing to really get into Thanksgiving has been working on our prayers. The kids have really been in a rut lately with saying the same things in every prayer. I challenged them to start thanking the Lord for at least 3 specific things in each prayer between now and Thanksgiving. We've had to start quite a few prayers over to break out of some ruts - but it's been great to take the time to really work on our gratitude on our prayers lately.

I know all this extra focus on gratitude has certainly made me happier and it seems there's a happier feeling in our home. To a large degree, the extent to which we are grateful determines the extent to which we are happy.

In the spirit of all this, I sat down with Silas the other day and told him all the things I'm grateful for about him. I counted them off on his fingers, telling him a great thing about him as he held up each of his 10 fingers. My dad used to do this with me when I was a little girl and it made me feel so special. When I got done, Silas was beaming. Then he said it was his turn to tell me all the things he was grateful for about me. As he held up one of my fingers at a time, he told me these 10 things: (I had to stifle a few laughs and had to go write everything down quickly before I forgot.)
From Silas:
  • You're weawy good at giving me a kiss every morning.
  • You're weawy good at drawing your name. (he's been working on writing his name and I guess he's realizing that writing your name is quite a feat)
  • You're weawy good at turning on switches for the lights because you're weawy tall.
  • You have great eye sight. (I actually have horrible eye sight. Not sure where this one came from!)
  • You give me hugs.
  • You're good at planting plants and digging holes for plants. (I did have Silas help me with a bunch of pruning and planting last year - I guess he has fond memories of my occasional feeble gardening attempts - interesting to see what leaves an impression)
  • You are weawy weawy weawy excewunt at building our house with Jonah. (interesting he'd remember that my brother Jonah and I did a bunch of touch-up projects around the house before he moved)
  • You are weawy excewunt on drawing.
  • You are weawy weawy weawy weawy excewunt at telling stories.
  • As Silas finished his cute, random list, Oliver and Eliza came in and insisted on taking a turn as well. I can't turn that down!
From Oliver:
  • You're good at looking up stuff that I want you to do
  • You take me to school
  • Sometimes mommy and me have a mommy howidate (trying to say a combo of holiday and date?)
  • You're good at reading us magazines and the Friend
  • I like when she takes me in the car wash with the car
  • You're good at helping our friends
  • You're good at making toast and pancakes
From Eliza:
  • You're really good at typing fast
  • You're good at being a really good mom
  • You're good at noticing nature and pointing it out
  • You're good at art
  • You are a really good cook and give us vegetables so we're healthy
  • You read us really good books
  • You tell us stories about when you were a kid
  • You take us to museums and help me notice every detail so I can learn to paint really good
  • You drive me to school and give me after school snacks
  • You take pictures of us
  • You take us on lots of hikes
I hope you don't think I'm sharing this to say how great I am or how great my kids think I am. I'm recording this because 1) I want to remember what my kids think is great about me so it can strengthen me on the hard days, and 2) I want to remember how good it feels to express gratitude and hear others express gratitude for me.

I'm so grateful for gratitude!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gratitude

Lately I've been going off on how grateful I am for beauty and I've put a lot of stuff on here about how grateful I am for the twins. As Thanksgiving gets nearer, I want to take a minute to list some of the other things I'm so very grateful for in my life right now (in no particular order):
  • Changing seasons. Even here in the desert, we get to see the light soften and the colors pop as the cooler weather and shorter days set in. We get to enjoy perfect hiking and biking weather most of the fall, winter and spring and then great swimming weather all summer. Plus we get snow once or twice a year - enough for a quick snowman in the morning - not enough to settle on the pavement or last more than a few hours. Perfect! And I love how the different seasons bring different traditions - Bear Lake and the Farm in the summer with all the cousins plus swim time with friends down at the pool almost every day when we're in town, pumpkin bread and pumpkin soup and pumpkin cookies all October and November, all the great stuff that comes with Thanksgiving and Christmas, bunnies everywhere in the wash behind our house to usher in the Easter season...
  • My kids. They are SO fun right now. They all have their moments but I really wish I could bottle them up and keep them right where they are for a few years or so. They're all young enough to still have that excited wonder about the world around them and that lovely belief that their parents still know pretty much everything. But they're all old enough to do all sorts of fun things. I took them all to our little art museum here the other day and all five really got into the things I was pointing out about art (and for the first time in a museum that isn't a children's museum, I wasn't on edge every second about them touching something they shouldn't touch - they're becoming quite well-behaved!) and then we spend over an hour in the kids' corner of the museum, painting and creating art - everyone old enough (and young enough) to thoroughly enjoy themselves.
  • My husband. I was shopping for the 20+ people we'll have here for Thanksgiving weekend and encountered lines that were WAY too long for the time I had to shop while the twins were at preschool. I was faced with being VERY late to pick them up or leaving everything and having to somehow squeeze in a trip later on back to the other side of town to shop all over again. Jared graciously agreed to do the preschool pick up even though he was having a very crazy day of his own. I'm so very blessed to have a husband who is always so willing to do whatever I ask him to do. He is the most helpful, patient, unselfish person I've ever known. And I get to be married to him. (and he's so handsome he still takes my breath away sometimes.)
  • The Gospel. As we go through hard things and need the truth of the Gospel and the help of the Lord so deeply and as we experience joy and love heightened by having someone to thank, I am so grateful for the truths I hold dear.
  • Income. As so many people around us loose jobs and as houses around us go through foreclosure, we're so grateful for a fairly steady income that covers our basic needs (as long as we're quite careful!).
  • Cookies. I just love love love love them. Partly because they're the best dessert and only sugary thing worth eating in my book but also because they represent 100's or maybe even 1000's of gatherings with my family. My sister or I made cookies almost every day after school when we were in high school. She took public transportation, making several connections, from Boston University out to Wellesley College to make cookies with me (among other things) at least once a week while we were both in college. My brother Jonah joined in the cookie baking and mastered the art of the perfect cookie and while he lived next door to me, he used to bring me a plate full of nice fresh ones when I needed them most. Everyone in my family makes cookies for any other family member coming to visit. I remember so many times arriving at a sibling's home late at night after a long day of travel and finding that plate of cookies waiting. Warm cookies and warm hearts go hand in hand in my family. I think cookies would be much better than pie for desert at Thanksgiving dinner but I'll bow to tradition.
  • The pilgrims. I love sharing the story of their courage and conviction with my kids every Thanksgiving and love counting my blessings that I didn't have to endure a rocky sea voyage, build my own home and grow my own food in a scary new world before enjoying a Thanksgiving feast.
  • The Indians. I love thinking of their kindness to help these strange-seeming pilgrims and save them from starvation.
  • The Power of Moms. I've been working so hard the past few weeks to get our new Learning Circles program up and running. There have been times when I have resented this work and wondered what in the world I'm doing trying to help other mothers be the mothers they want to be when I'm not 1/2 the mother that I want to be - especially when I'm so busy working on other projects. But as I work with really inspiring other moms and examine my own life as a mother while preparing materials to help other mothers do the same, I realize this is what I need. I'm a better mother when I'm working to be a good mom not just for myself and for my family but also for all the other moms out there who might benefit from the resources and ideas that have helped me
  • My parents. They are amazing. I'm so blessed to call them my greatest advisors and cheerleaders and exemplars.
  • My extended family. I'm so blessed to honestly like all my siblings and their spouses and kids as well as Jared's wonderful mother, siblings, spouses and kids. I know this is rare. I know I am so blessed. I'm so glad I married into a family so much the same as mine in some important ways (devotion to the gospel, devotion to family) and so very different from mine at the same time. I learn so much from all of them.
  • Vegetables. I just love vegetables more and more and more (and like meat less and less and less). Vegetables are so beautiful and so tasty and they just make me feel so good. I'm so grateful that so many more fresh and flavorful vegetable options exist now than did when I was growing up - we were pretty much confined to canned corn, frozen peas or frozen mixed veggies, iceburg lettuce with pink, pulpy, tasteless tomatoes and ranch or thousand island. I grew up thinking vegetables weren't that good. But then I went on a mission to Bulgaria where all they had were fresh-from-the-garden veggies and wow - vegetables took on a whole new meaning to me. There's nothing like a vine-ripened garden tomato or a baby spinach salad with pears and poppyseed dressing or those french beans they have at Costco that you can just steam and eat with a little salt. Or edamame - yum. And sauted onions and peppers with a little chili powder thrown in wrapped up in a freshly cooked tortilla. And avacados. I'll stop now.
The kids are home from school so I'll stop for today. But I'm feeling so happy and blessed after making this beginning of a list!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lunch with the Twins

I took the time today to really sit down and talk with the twins at lunchtime. Usually I'm throwing food on their plates and urging them to hurry and eat while I try to cram in a bite or two myself so we can rush off to the next appointment. But I sat down with them and let them lead the conversation and we had a lovely lunch. Here's a little snippet of our conversation (they were at preschool this morning - you can tell the theme for the preschool lesson today from this):

Silas: Did you know the pilgrims had a boat named the Mayflower?
Me: Oh, was it really a flower?
Silas: No, silly, it was a BOAT but they NAMED it the Mayflower because that's a pretty name.
Oliver: They had to go on that boat because they only had BAD churches in their world so they wanted to go to a new world.
Silas: But at that new world there were NO houses and NO grocery stores and NO churches at all (with big hand gestures).
Me: So what did they do?
Oliver: They had to build everything.
Me: Was that hard?
Silas: Well, they had no food.
Me: So what did they do?
Oliver: Their Nagift American friends had to help them.
Me: Oh, their Indian friends?
Oliver: No - their NAGIFT American friends.
Silas: And they had a big big party with their friends after they got all the food. And that's how Thanksgiving was born!

Then we jumped right into a discussion about Star Wars light sabers followed by a little information about how a girl named Ella was having problems listening in preschool today. They talked about how yummy pickles are and had a good chuckle about how silly I was to forget to take off my shoes when we came in the house after preschool.

I love how these guys put things together in their minds!

The other day, we were talking about what words are polite words (they've been learning about the magic words in Joy School). After suggesting several polite words, Oliver said, "Some words that are NOT polite are square words. Square words are BAD." I agreed wholeheartedly. No square words allowed around here.

I need to take the time to just really listen to these sweet wonderful boys of mine more often. They're growing up too fast!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Beauty

This is the view from my back porch right now.

I've heard a lot of theories about what it might be like when we die and meet our Maker. Some say He'll ask us about our important roles as parents and siblings and daughters and sons. Some think He'll ask about how we fulfilled our callings or what we did with the talents and blessings He gave us. But the most interesting thought I've heard came from a friend of my dad who has an interesting outlook on a whole lot of things. He thinks God will ask us questions like "So, what did you think of those mountains outside your window all those years?" or "What did you think of those sunsets?" or "What were some of your favorite trees?" This friend went on to say that he suspects a lot of people will be sort of confused and stammer out something in response, but that the pure in heart will have great answers since appreciation of God's creations should go hand in hand with knowing and appreciating God Himself.

This response has stuck with me since I heard it years and years ago. And I guess it stuck with my parents as well since they raised us to notice and appreciate nature all the time. As I got older and noticed that many people around me didn't seem to have the same awe and excitement about nature that I did, I was sort of surprised. How could they not notice such wonderful treats for the eyes that could brighten their days and re-confirm God's love for them? How could they go about their daily business and not even seem to see the beauty around every corner? I guess we all notice what we've been taught to notice, so it makes sense that many people don't think about nature all that much.

Anyway, this is a long way of saying that I am SO grateful for the beauty that surrounds me here in St George. I can't get enough of the way Red Mountain glows so richly when the light first hits it each morning (I can see it from my bed - how blessed am I?). I rejoice in the rare and wonderful smell of rain in the desert, the way the rain deepens the colors, and the amazing rainbows we see so often. I marvel at the blue, blue, blue skies against the terra cotta of hills or the green green grass of the golf courses when its next to the red dirt. I can't help but point out all the golden and red leaves I see (got to treasure the signs of fall you can find here in the desert!). And the sunsets lately - wow! The vibrant pinks fading to gray-purple fading to a gentle glow. Don't even get me started on the stars - they are SO bright here with all these light-pollution ordinances - somehow they seem closer when they are so bright.

Nature helps me feel God's love so deeply and gives me such joy. I hold myself back from posting too many nature photos and nature descriptions but I just had to share this today.
This is the view out the window in my bedroom right now. I love how this window frames this tree so well.
Here are some cottonwood trees in the wash behind the house. This picture doesn't really do them justice - I wish you could see them shimmer with gold in the late afternoon sun. I had a dream the other night that some guy came through with a bulldozer and took out these trees and I was so mad I woke up shaking. I guess I really love these trees.


This was the sunset last night.

Here's another sunset - same place, totally different look.

P.S. Now it's Friday and it rained all night and we woke up to the most beautifully drenched colors outside our windows. The twins burst into our room at 7:30 this morning saying "A RAINBOW! A RAINBOW!" A rainbow is always a cause for celebration around here. We all hung out on the back porch to watch it get brighter, then dimmer, then finally fade away all together. I think we're all going to have a very good day (even though it is Friday the 13th. But then Jared and I went on our first date on a Friday the 13th so it's always a favorite with me.) Here's a glimpse of the beautiful scene God gave us as a nice little surprise this morning. It was cute to hear Silas thank God for the rainbow three times in his prayer at breakfast!

Can you see the rainbow shadow? It was a full double rainbow. Wish I could have got a shot showing the whole thing but I couldn't get back far enough.


Sunday, November 08, 2009

Quick Flashback to Bear Lake and Ode to the Twins

My sister Saydi is an amazing photographer. We were hanging out at the beach late one afternoon last summer and the light was so beautiful. I asked her to snap a few shots of these beautiful boys of mine and she got some gorgeous stuff! She sent these photos to me last week and I just had to share them. They make me miss Bear Lake. They make me cherish these boys of mine all the more. Thank you Saydi!!!

Click on the photos to see them bigger - they look much better bigger but I still haven't figured out how to make photos bigger on my blog. One of these days I'll remember to ask Shawni or Saydi how to do it....

All summer, the twins and their cousins Charlie and McKay who are just a year younger than them were enamored with this tractor that my dad uses to launch the boat. They spent hours on end pretending to drive that thing.



Oh, I wish I could freeze time for a while and keep Oliver and Silas just as they are. They are SO much fun right now. They are always playing these great make-believe games (mostly about rocket ships and dogs). They love pretending that they are dogs going to a birthday party - not sure where they got that one! They spent most of the afternoon today playing with the cell phones that Eliza made for them - she just drew some buttons and a screen (complete with a space alien game drawn in - she knows what her brothers like!) on paper and cut out a "phone" for each boy. I loved hearing the conversations they had with each other. And they called me as well. At the end of his conversation with me, Oliver said, "Bye! I hope you love me!" I guess he hears me end so many phone calls with "See ya, love ya" and somehow came up with "I hope you love me" instead. I sure do love you, Ollie!

Another quick story: A couple days ago, Oliver was having a hard morning. He spilled his milk all over at breakfast and then was totally sad and mad when Silas finished putting away the silverware from the dishwasher without him. I tried to snap Oliver out of it and get the morning moving a long by suggesting they have a race to get dressed. Oliver got a head start and I was feeling relieved that maybe he could win this little race and feel a little better about his life for a while. But Silas came in and really hurried and was in the lead before long. Silas looked over and noticed Oliver's increasing distress as he couldn't get his arm through the inside-out armhole of his shirt and slowed down a little to let Ollie catch up. Silas pulled his own arm back into his shirt, waited until Ollie finally got his arm through, stuck his own arm into his sleeve simultaneously and jubilantly declared, "It's a tie!" Both boys were smiling from ear to ear. It's watching moments like that that make motherhood the best job in the world.

These guys go to kindergarten next year. What in the world will I do without them? Well, I have a pretty good idea of what I'll do - delve deeper into the 100 projects I've got going on but never really have time to finish. But I'll miss them so much!

After Two Hours of Stake Conference today...

We were enriched and uplifted and happy!

For the past 9 years or so (since Ashton was born), I haven't exactly been excited to go to Stake conference. With several babies and toddlers squirming and squealing even with vigilant entertainment from me and Jared, those twice-yearly two hour-long Stake Conference meetings just haven't been very enriching. We were there because we were being obedient and I'm sure we got some points in Heaven. I'd TRY to glean what I could from the doubtless wonderful stuff the speakers were saying. But somehow, the biggest thing I usually left Stake Conference with was gratitude that it was over for another 6 months.

Sundays have been pretty darn hard for about 9 years, Stake Conference or not. Those hour-long Sunday Sacrament meetings were never a piece of cake with several little kids. Getting to church was such a crazy scramble of getting everyone ready and getting a bag packed with quiet toys and treats and bottles and diapers and wipes and pacifiers that I was already a nervous wreck by the time we got to church. There were the Sundays when Isaac would spit up all over everything, the Sundays when we were on eggshells wondering if Eliza's colic would act up and she'd be screaming non-stop, the Sundays when the twins weren't yet old enough for nursery but weren't young enough to sit or sleep through church on a lap or in their carry-car seat and I'd spend the full 3 hours of church chasing them (with an occasional "break" to go teach a class while Jared took over the chasing).

Those were hard days. I have to admit there were plenty of Sundays when I wandered the halls with babies and toddlers wondering why we even bothered going to church. But we did. We kept going. We kept trying new ways to get through and gain something. We kept gleaning whatever tidbits of strength and learning we could from the snippets of lessons and talks that we heard and grabbing whatever whisperings of the Spirit that edged into our busy brains. We went because we needed the blessings and because we were raised to go to church every Sunday. We went because as hard as church was, the alternative of skipping church and trying to get through the next week without the strength that church still somehow offered seemed much harder.

Three years ago, when the twins turned 18 months and started being able to go to nursery, Jared and I were SO excited! Now we could actually go to Sunday School together and listen! Now I could go teach Young Womens and only be occasionally interrupted by a sweet nursery teacher asking me to come change a diaper. We were definitely seeing the light at the end of the tunnel! At around the same time, my sister shared an idea that quite immediately and drastically helped our Sacrament meeting experience. Each kid starts off Sacrament meeting with 3 cookies (or three scoops of ice cream if we're not going to make cookies that afternoon). After one warning, they loose a cookie (or a scoop) each time they talk out loud, do something noisy, etc. To get their third cookie, the kids 6 and up need to be able to tell us about one thing they learned from a talk. Ever since implementing this little system of unabashed bribery, Sacrament meeting has usually been quite a pleasant experience for everyone.

About 2 years ago, we reached the milestone of generally being able to make it through 70-minute sacrament meetings most Sundays without having to take kids out. It felt so great to achieve this goal! And a couple months ago, we forgot the all-important church bag full of Friend magazines and coloring supplies and were quite delighted to find that not only did we make it through the meeting, but the kids actually seemed to be better behaved when they had less stuff to mess with or fight over. The older kids were forced to occupy themselves with listening to the talks (or zoning out) and the twins seemed to really enjoy being held on our laps and playing with my jewelry and Jared's watch and the buttons on their shirts. Maybe less is more! We still take a few things with us to church now but that huge bag that we used to stock and haul about is now history and we can go on a weekend trip without having to bring the church bag. Yeah!

Anyway, today with TWO hours of adult-focused meetings to sit through, we pulled out the old church bag and stocked it with some stuff the kids haven't used for a while. I had a seriously wonderful "mom moment" today as I was really able to listen to the excellent talks with my husband's arm around me and my kids quietly listening or coloring or playing with quiet toys on either side. Piece of Heaven right there. Certainly, there were little moments where someone had to be reminded to whisper or when the twins needed to be taken to the bathroom (SO nice to be able to send them with one of the older boys!). But miraculously, I thoroughly enjoyed Stake Conference. And after nine years, that felt really really good!

To help those who are still in the trenches of babies and toddlers and preschoolers at church, here are a few of the things we've hauled around in our church bag that have really worked for us in the past nine years:

8 and up:
The Friend - several issues. Our kids 8 and over can listen or look at the hymn book or read the Friend or the scriptures during sacrament meeting - no more toys for them. They generally do very well with this (although Isaac still seems a little unsure what a true "whisper" should sound like).

Toddlers:
  • wooden beads to thread or cheerios to thread on yarn with masking tape on one end for a "needle"
  • stickers - peeling stickers and putting them on paper or on their hands is always a favorite for the little ones
  • elmer's glue (this one's from my amazing grandma who always comes up with amazingly perfect but initially odd-sounding ideas for little kids). Put a couple drops on little hands, let it dry, have kids peel it off (and put the pieces on a paper or in a little bag). They LOVE doing this!
Preschoolers:
  • "sewing" boards (where you "sew" with yarn on a board with pictures on it) plus they love threading cheerios like the older toddlers
  • gospel picture binder (can make them with page protectors and ripped-out photos from the Friend or gospel art - need to change the pictures pretty often to keep the interest up - they're more interested if they help make the book...)
  • they love the glue thing or doing stickers too
6 and 7 year olds:
  • by age 6, we found the kids enjoyed finding the right hymn in the hymn book and following the words with their fingers - good for learning hymns plus helps with music and reading skills. From 6 up, all kids are expected to do their best to sing the hymns.
  • coloring books - great Bible coloring books at lots of dollar stores
  • drawing pictures of scripture stories
  • whispering stories of Jesus in their ears during the sacrament
  • gospel picture binder (like for preschoolers but they can really help make it - can include Articles of Faith, scripture stories, photos of prophets and information about them, etc. - my mom made a book like this for each family and it's been great to have!)
  • Fractiles (magnetic shapes that go on a thin metal board - can make so many fun patterns - fun at church or at home - one of my kids' very favorite toys)
Babies: food or sleep with maybe some passing interest in a book or two - that's about all that ever worked for us!

That's just off the top of my head. I wish someone would have given me a list like this 9 years ago! I'm sure I missed a lot of great stuff. What works for you???

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Meaning of Home

What does "home" mean to you?

As I sit here enjoying the late-afternoon glow on the red cliffs and shimmering golden leaves outside my window with the sound of the kids happily playing downstairs, I feel a strong sense of "home." Beauty and peace and harmony - that's home (in a good moment like this one).

I felt "home" last week as we carved pumpkins last week out on the balcony - same place, same people one year older, different pumpkin designs, gradually-increasing carving abilities in the kids, same expressions of grossness combined with glee as little hands pull out pumpkin guts, same excitement, same frustrations here and there with how long parts of the process take and how many little people need help simultaneously, same sense of awe and accomplishment when the finished jack-o-lanterns are lit and we all stand back to admire them. And when the kids all stood on the front steps in their Halloween costumes before setting out to trick-or-treat - same place they've stood for Halloween photos for 4 years now - that was "home" too. And there are so many "home" things that tie us together and to this place around Christmas - don't even get me started. Traditions that have a location attached to them, that just feel so "right" when they're reenacted year after year with the same backdrop and props - that's home.

As I turn and tuck my skewampus-sleeping kids under their covers each night and kiss their soft cheeks and admire their peaceful faces - that's home.

It's "home" when we sit around the dinner table talking about our days and enduring plenty of interruptions and frustrations along with lots of moments of real learning and connection as the kids learn to carry on a conversation and reflect on what happened that day.

When I read to the kids and we're all snuggled on the couch - that's home.

It's "home" when we hear the garage door open when Jared's getting home from work and all the kids gleefully run to greet him. Greeting and saying goodbye - "home" is a lot about these things.

I've had these thoughts on my mind because my parents just rented out the home where I've lived off and on since I was 4 years old. I remember the day we moved into that house. Mom and Dad got us the rare treat of a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner and we had a picnic on the hideous pink carpet in the living room of that house. They told us kids that we could wipe greasy hands on that carpet and the matching pink drapes because they'd be ripped out as soon as possible to expose the great views from the windows and nice hardwood floors under that carpet. Little did they know how much would end up being exposed by us all as we lived in that house! 35 years later, that house is brimming with our best and hardest moments and memories. My youngest sister, Charity, wrote this great blog post about the house where we grew up - the none-too-fancy, often way-overcrowded, usually quite messy but always beloved "J.B. Mopeltel" (somehow I came up with that name for our house as a 4 year old and it stuck). To understand more about what "home" can mean, read Charity's blog post here:

http://drippingwithpassion.blogspot.com/2009/10/ode-to-house.html


All of this makes me think about what will feel like "home" to my kids as they look back on their growing-up years. It makes me value a sense of place - but also realize that "home" can and really should be memories and people and feelings more than it should be any one place.

Anyone want to share what "home" means to them???

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween

As the kids put it, "this was the BEST Halloween EVER!"

We had a great week of Halloween festivities and it was fun to see the kids so excited about everything. But I have to wonder how Halloween became such a huge deal. I thought it was fun and exciting enough back when I was a kid and Halloween just meant being in the school Halloween parade and going trick-or-treating that evening. Now there are Halloween parties and festivities galore and the kids often don their costumes many times throughout the week prior to Halloween and are handed candy at every turn day after day! It's a bit much, in my opinion. But it's so fun to see the kids' delight in being someone entirely different for a night and knocking on the doors of complete strangers, finding kind people with wonderful treats behind each door. The twins were especially delighted to find a dog behind a lot of the doors. If there was a dog, they didn't even care about the candy - just wanted to know the name of the dog and pet it for a few minutes.

Monday night we carved pumpkins (after our neighborhood fall social that I was in charge of - it went great but ended up being a pretty full evening with two big activities. I'm looking forward to this week when there won't even be one big activity a day!).

The finished products

They looked pretty awesome all lit up (see Liza inside?)

Tuesday night was our annual adult Halloween party. We had a great time playing Guesstures and Taboo and eating lots of good food and just enjoying some non-kid time.


Jared and I as 80's Prom Sweethearts
(picture a corsage on my wrist to get the full idea)
That's the dress I actually wore to Jr Prom.
It was a little baggy back in high school - not anymore!

Ready to head out trick-or-treating!

The twins were so happy to be super heroes -
insisted on wearing their costumes from last year - fine by me!
Ashton was a rock star. He wasn't going for any particular rock star but he ended up looking quite a lot like Billy Idol (and a little like Kiss with that star around his eye and his tongue out).
He had so much fun with his costume.
Trick-or-treating with some friends

Sorting out all the loot - one of the kids' favorite parts of Halloween - making trades, creating a pile in the middle of everything they don't really like that no one else wants
to trade for to give to the "Halloween Fairy" who gives them a toy in return.
Grandfather showed up at this point in the evening and they were SO excited to see him!



Kid Quotes

I've been terrible about recording the great things my kids say lately and I've resolved to be better about it. So here are a couple of my favorite quotes from the last week:

While we were on a hike yesterday, Ashton randomly said:
"I'm not really sure how much I'm worth (I'm wondering at this point if he's having some self-esteem issues and where he's going with this...) but I think it's at least 5 cents because I swallowed a nickel one time."

Today as Jared and I were just about done talking about what we have coming up this week, Silas came running in and to buy us a couple more minutes, Jared said "Hey Silas, I'll time you to see how fast you can clean up those trains downstairs - I bet you can do it SO fast!" Silas happily ran off to take care of the trains and came back triumphant. Jared said "Wow, that was FAST! Now I'll time you to see how fast you can clean up whatever other toys are out down there!" He came back all excited to share how he'd cleaned up every single thing and was just so proud of himself. As I tucked the twins in tonight, I told Oliver (in Silas's earshot) about how Silas had cleaned up really happily and really fast when Jared asked him to. I hoped to reinforce what Silas had done while getting Oliver excited about being a bit quicker with doing what he's asked to do. Oliver enthusiastically said the perfect things, "I hope that tomorrow I can be just like Silas!" Sometimes my little plans actually work! We'll see how it goes tomorrow...

There have been SO many great/cute/funny/wise things the kids have said lately that I've loved in that moment but then have promptly forgotten. So I'm going to start writing them down much better. I'm going to bump it way up on my priority list. I have all these great quotes from Ashton as a little kid that help me remember what he was like and bring a smile to my face and I've slacked off big time over the years. I need to capture these kids of mine who are growing up too fast in every way I can!
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