Thursday, October 31, 2013

These are the Voyages...

I love Halloween. It ranks up there in my Most Favorite of Holidays. I love the costumes and the cute decorations (I do not like the super gross decorations, though) the fun music and movies-the black and whites are the best.  Around our house, we start talking about Halloween around the end of the summer. By the second or third week of school, my kids have a pretty firm idea of what they'd like to "be" for Halloween. This is done for two reasons. One, who doesn't want to plan out the PERFECT costume idea? Two, in our house, I usually make the costumes, and so need a good month or so to formulate just exactly HOW I'm going to create the vision these kiddos have in their heads. I even go so far as to make my own patterns. It sounds crazy, I know, but I try to make them as simple as possible to avoid some of the more complicated patterns that exist out there, not to mention keeping my costs down by not having to purchase the patterns. I take an item of clothing that my kids already own and use that as the template to make the pattern on newspaper. Depending on what they want to be, I just alter it until it becomes the desired character.

This year has been a little different. Instead of only 2 costumes to make, I made a total of 5 (actually 6 if you count the do-over on mine). My husband (and I) spent some time watching the original Star Trek on Netflix this summer. My kids naturally wandered in and asked if they could watch, too. Of course! was the answer. When we got to the Trouble with Tribbles episode, my kids had basically decided that they like it. Somewhere along the way, the idea came out that they could dress as Star Trek characters for Halloween. It all got sorted out, we could have Kirk and Spock, Dad would be McCoy, and I would be....a female member of Star Fleet. You see, Uhura dates Spock, and since my son is going as Spock, that seemed a little weird. So, I'm a Lieutenant in Engineering. Either way. But what about our little one? She could be a Tribble!! So, it was settled.

I spent a good month brain storming how to put the uniforms together, and we watched the newest movie a few weeks ago. I spent the entire time studying their uniforms to get the right idea. I looked up uniforms, ranks, and insignias in the Official Star Fleet Technical Manual (yes, my husband owns a copy). This was important. I needed to get the details right. This was the first time in many years that my husband has decided he wants to have a costume! I typically don't dress up, sort of because he doesn't. But this he was excited about. So I had to get it right. I don't think I've ever paid so much attention to details for Halloween. But it was fun. I sewed for a week straight.

Here is Captain Kirk. Captain of the Enterprise. His rank as Captain is indicated by the color of his tunic, the insignia on his chest and the two and one-half stripes on his cuff.

This is Mr. Spock. He is the Commander on the Enterprise, as indicated by two stripes on his cuff. He is a Science Officer which is noted by the color of his tunic and the insignia on his chest.

Here we have McCoy. He is Lieutenant Commander, giving him one and one-half stripes on his cuff. He is a Doctor on the Enterprise, and so a Science Officer as well.

This is a standard female Lieutenant (one stripe) in Engineering, as is indicated by the color of the mini dress and the insignia on her chest. By the way, according to Trek: The Encyclopedia, "women have the option of wearing pants or dresses in "Where No Man Has Gone Before,"" and so I must be from that episode because there is no way I'm wearing a mini-dress and nylons for Trick-or-Treating. Or any other occasion, really.

Here is our darling Tribble. Defined in Trek: The Encyclopedia as a ball of fur that purrs. I hope she doesn't give us too much trouble.

And more of Kirk and Spock because they look so AWESOME!


Happy Halloween!

October Finishes

Monday, October 7, 2013

Unconventional Parenting

This is where our daughter would like to be fed:

And this is where she wishes she could be bathed:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

If You Give a Mom a Steam Mop

If you give a mom a steam mop,
She'll remember that it has been so long
That she can't remember when she last mopped.
So that mom will go into the kitchen to get the mopping started.
But when she's in the kitchen,
The mom will notice that the dishwasher needs unloading.
So, she'll put her daughter in the high chair with an ice cream cone,
Sans the ice cream.
Then the mom will unload the dishwasher.
When she's done unloading the dishwasher,
 She'll notice that the sink is full of dirty dishes.
So she'll need to crank up the Glee on the CD player
and fill the dishwasher with all the dirty dishes.
When the dishwasher is full,
The mom will notice that not everything fits.
So she'll take her daughter out of the high chair
and put on her long purple gloves.
While the daughter dances to the music,
The mom will wash the non-dishwasher-safe pans
and the other stuff that didn't fit.
When the mom has placed all the clean dishes on a dish towel to dry,
She'll notice that floor needs sweeping.
So she'll move all the chairs out of the kitchen, and sweep that floor.
Sweeping the floor will remind her that the floor needs mopping.
She will use the steam mop you gave her to clean and then sanitize the floor.
And chances are, if you give a mom a steam mop,
She'll have a clean kitchen to go with it.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


"When given the choice between being right and being kind,
choose kind."  -Dr. Wayne Dyer

That quote is the theme running through the book, Wonder, by RJ Palacio, and is introduced to us by August's new teacher in school. I hope you took the time to read this moving piece of literature. It's a book that will make you take time to look at how you treat others, even when their differences aren't quite as glaring as her character, August Pullman.
August is an ordinary kid. He likes video games and hanging out with his friends. Inside, he is ordinary. Most of the time, he feels ordinary. But on the first glance, August isn't ordinary. He was born with a facial deformity. It may be described as grotesque; his skin looks as though it might have been melted like candle wax and he doesn't have outer ears. Because of this, he has had many major surgeries to help reconstruct some of the major issues. His parents thought it best to home school him so he would be able to have the recovery time he needed between surgeries without falling behind in his classes.
But now, August is 10 years old. His parents have decided that 5th grade is the time to start going to school. His parents enroll him at Beecher Prep, a private school in their neighborhood. August has seen the school, but he's still reasonably nervous. He takes an early tour of the school, guided by three students who will be in his home room class. He's not sure what to expect. Julian shows a nice face to the principal, but when the kids are alone, he acts like a jerk.  ____ is nice enough, but doesn't seem like she'll go out of her way to be friends with August. Jack Will, the third student, decides to take on this friendship, and since August and Jack are in several classes together, that makes it easier for them to get to know each other.
Palacio has taken the story and given us the voices of many of her characters. Rather than telling it in omniscient voice, knowing all thoughts and movements of each character, she has selected several characters that further August's story, and has given them each their own chapter, written in first person. I enjoyed this writing style because we could see the motivations behind some of the pivotal events in the story.
It may have surprised you that Julian does not have his own chapter. Palacio has said that she couldn't give a bully a platform or a chance to justify his dislike. I agree with this, because there is already enough hate and anger coming from Julian without allowing us to hear all the motivation behind his poisonous attitude.
One of the best chapters is Jack Will's chapter. He is a boy who was asked to do a favor for a stranger. This isn't an easy favor. The person he has to help is easily mocked, and people are afraid. I am glad we got to see the Jack work his way through the why behind his behavior. Why did he choose to help August? Why did he say mean things on Halloween when he didn't know August could hear him? Why did it hurt when August refused to talk to him? Why did he seek to regain that friendship?
I think we all have treated someone in an unkind manner. Jack was tired of being outcasted for making friends with someone who is different. But when he discovered how badly his words hurt, he realized that a friendship with someone like Julian is not worth the heartache it caused the friend who has always been genuine.
If you haven't already, read Wonder. Share it with your kids and then go explore R.J. Palacio's website about the book. You will be glad you did.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Return to the Book Club

I can't believe that it has honestly been three full months plus a little since my last post. Summer zoomed by almost faster than I've ever seen and we just had so much going on that I hardly sat at the computer. It's funny, though, I checked on a few of the blogs that I like to read, and was disappointed to find there were no new posts (and yet mine was sitting idle, too). I had so many written in my head. It's like my sister has said, too bad I don't have a USB port in my head. I could just plug a flash drive into my head, download all of my blog posts and plug it into the computer. Sadly, that's not a reality (although it would be really frightening if that could really happen.... reminds me of a Doctor Who episode...), so the blog posts that I wrote in my head remain there and not here. I have a running list, though, and if time allows it, I'll sit down and compose a few of them.

I am actually writing in a rare moment during nap time. My lovely daughter (the one you saw holding the banana for 3 months) rarely naps outside of my arms during the day (unless I can get her to fall asleep in the stroller, but now-a-days, stroller rides are much too exciting to sleep). But today, she allowed the transfer from my arms to her bed with nary a sigh. And so instead of sitting selfishly on the couch to watch TV read, I cleared out the kitchen and mopped. Then I finished loading the dishwasher and started it. And the little darling was still sleeping! So, I decided it was time for a return.

I am issuing a call out to my informal Book Club. Come one, come all (two of you), and join me in reading Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. This is a book about a boy named August, who simply cannot blend in, no matter how hard he tries. He was  born with a facial deformity, and even after multiple surgeries, he will never look "normal." He is ten years old, and he is starting school for the first time.

The book is broken up into sections, and each section is narrated by a different character. I love a book like this because you get all perspectives and you really get to know all the characters. It is an easy read, and I will be finished in a day or so. I'd love to have many of you read it and then comment along with me on my post next week.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sweet Banana Dreams

After walking my boys to school this morning, I pushed the stroller a little further on to the school where my husband teaches. I noticed something he'd forgotten to take with him when he left this morning and decided to bring it to him. It was a quiet morning in his class because many of his students were out taking their AP test. On AP testing days, my hubby brings breakfast for his students so they can perform their best on that big scary test. Pastries, fruit, milk, juice, etc. He and I had a nice visit; I showed the baby around the room and the kids cooed and smiled at her. On my way out, I asked if I could take a banana for our daughter. She was delighted with this and wanted to hold it. She carried it all the way. I snapped this picture when we arrived back home.

Friday, May 10, 2013

How to Create Your Own Rout of Snails

  • Buy a tarp at your local hardware store-- blue is pretty standard, but any color will do.
  • Take the tarp home.
  • Go to the backyard and put a bunch of stuff that you want to keep dry on the patio or next to the back porch.
  • Put the tarp over the items that need to stay dry.
  • When you are ready to use the things stored under the tarp, drop the tarp on the ground.
  • Use your items.
  • Ignore the tarp.  
  • A windy day will blow the tarp to the fence, where you will forget about it.
  • A few weeks later, notice the tarp near the fence; make a mental note to get it "later."
  • Leave the tarp by the fence for about two months. Be sure to notice it every so often, promising yourself that you'll get it "in a while."
  • After a really rainy day, decide that it is time to get the tarp.
  • Grab one corner of the tarp and gently lift the tarp (remember, it's wet).
  • Let out a yelp in surprise at the round things attached to the bottom of the tarp.
  • Laugh as you realize that it is not dog poop.
  • Pull the tarp across the yard to the clothes line.
  • Hang your tarp on the clothes line to dry.
  • Step back and count. You should now have between 25 and 30 snails of varying sizes speckling your new snail habitat.
  • Watch as your snails slither up and down the tarp, clinging expertly to the blue surface.
  • If, when you go out later to check on your rout, you notice a few snails are missing, check the other side. They may have gone up and over.
  • If your tarp falls down from another pelting rain storm, many of the snails will escape. If you hang the tarp again, as soon as the storm lets up, you will still have about a dozen snails left.
  • Also note, that these critters are wild, the tarp is not a permanent habitat, and they will all eventually (within a day or two) escape if left unattended.
  • Caution: if your snails are as big as your hands do not touch them, as they may be deadly.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Giant Chutes and Ladders

It all started as an activity for our Young Women. I am a counselor in the Young Women presidency of our congregation. We have weekly activities with the youth and the youth presidency is involved with the adult presidency as we come up with ideas and planning. One girl suggested we do a life size board game. We decided that Chutes and Ladders would be fun, and so it was put on the calendar. I was the most enthusiastic about it, and since we take turns organizing each week, I was selected to oversee the Giant Chutes and Ladders game.

I pulled out our board game and made my own smaller grid for the girls to play on. I have played Chutes and Ladders with my children MANY times, and I know that it can take the better part of an hour to get to the final square, marked 100. This is playing with only 2 or 3 players. I figured we'd have around 8-10 girls, and we only have 90 minutes for our activities, including opening exercises. SO, I came up with an 8x8 grid, leaving 64 playing spaces. I thought this seemed like plenty. I then modeled my chutes and ladders after those laid out on the real game board, with 7 of each. It looked like fun.

We decided that masking tape on the gym floor would be the easiest way to set up a game of such proportions, and I figured two-foot squares would be just about right (They actually turned out to be too small. A two-foot square is great for one person to stand in, but I didn't take into consideration the fact that multiple people share spaces sometimes, and it got a little crowded. I suggest three- or even four-foot squares). I used plain masking tape for the grid. I then bought green and blue painters tape to mark the chutes (green) and ladders (blue). I figured different colors would help ease any confusion as to whether you were going up or down. I also printed out the numbers 1-64, printing four to a page and taped the numbers in each square.

I typed up different choices the girls can make, both good and bad. "I helped my brother with his homework," "I finished my Personal Progress" and "I brought a cheat sheet to my math test," "I skipped Seminary to go out to lunch." I placed a cup containing 3 choices at the top of each chute (bad choices) and at the bottom of each ladder (good choices). If they ended in a square at the top of the chute or bottom of the ladder, they pulled a choice out of the cup and read it to the group and then followed their consequence, either up or down. If they went up the ladder, they were rewarded with a small prize (I bought party prizes at the dollar store--bouncy balls, bracelets, candy jewelry, etc).

The final square, number 64, was their goal, and I had used masking tape to create an outline of the Salt Lake Temple. We discussed how life is full of ups and downs, choices and consequences. The chute was like repentance. It may set you back, but our Heavenly Father never kicks you out of the game. You may have to work a little harder, but it is still possible to make it to the top. The ladders illustrated that sometimes good choices put you ahead in life.  We played until every girl made it to the finish. We clapped and cheered each girl and gave her a crown (Daughters of a Heavenly King) when she reached the "temple."  They had a lot of fun and we applied a Spiritual note to it as well.

My kids came with me to help set up, and they tried out the board for me. They really enjoyed it and I promised that they could have their own board in chalk in the back yard. Last Friday when I got home from walking them to school, the morning weather was just right, and their sister was sleeping in the stroller. So I swept the patio, and drew the grid in chalk. I used my tape measure as a straight edge. I drew two sides creating a corner first, and marked every two feet as I went. I drew in a third side and then as I drew the horizontal lines across the board, I marked in the vertical lines, making the squares within each row as I went.

It only took me an hour total (including sweeping) to draw it out, mark the numbers, and draw in the chutes and ladders. It took me nearly 3 hours to do the tape on the gym floor. So, if you'd like to make your own, find multiple uses for it. Or do it outside with chalk. Our girls pulled the tape up as soon as we were done, and I forgot my camera. The Primary or the other Young Women who share our building might have liked to use it, but there was not that much planning ahead. So there was 3 hours of work destroyed in a matter of 10 minutes. But we had fun. I saved my blueprint drawing and my kids are enjoying it in the backyard. (I'm not sure why they're wearing helmets, but hey, safety first!)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Crooked House

Clearly, this is a post long overdue. I think the winter snap has frozen me from the world wide web. And the Spring Thaw has been just enough to distract me. I seem to only get to the computer when I have other business to attend to. I have even read e-mail without making a reply because other matters have stepped in just as I finish reading. But, today, my routine has slowly come back into allowing me this "free time." So, if you would like to still be a part of my pseudo book club, please continue reading.

I debated whether to write this post as if you've all read the book (and since it's been so long since I announced the book, you very well may have read it.) But I thought if I spoke in vague terms, folks who haven't read it will be intrigued, go pick it up and then perhaps come back and comment (hint, hint). Plus it was such a shocker that I don't want you to find out the ending if you haven't read it.

Crooked House, as I said before, is one of Agatha Christie's 10 ten personal favorites. She had this to Crooked House  was pure pleasure... Practically everybody has liked Crooked House,  so I am justified in my own belief that it is one of my best." (Author's Forward)
say about it: "This book is one of my own special favourites. I saved it up for years, thinking about it, working it out, saying to myself: 'One day, when I've plenty of time, and want to really enjoy myself--I'll begin it!' I should say that of one's output, five books are work to one that is real pleasure.

This book totally side-swiped me. After I finished reading it, I sat and wondered about it. I even had the thought, "Did Agatha Christie know who did it when she started writing it?" Now, that would be absurd, to write a murder without knowing who your murderer was. But I was so surprised, that I couldn't help wondering if it was a surprise to the author as well.

Aristide Leonides has been murdered in his own home. He lived in his own wing of the house with his second wife, a woman 50 years younger than he. In another wing, is his oldest son, Roger, and his wife. They have no children. In the third wing of the house is another son, Philip, his wife, and their three children, Sophia, Eustace, and Josephine. In her own quarters is Miss De Haviland, the sister of the first Mrs. Leonides.

The cause of death? Poison injection. Mr. Leonides took insulin on a daily basis. The vial that was supposed to contain insulin was instead filled with the poison and injected directly into his body. Any member of the family had access to the poison, which was actually Mr. Leonides' own eye drops, and the insulin, which was kept in the bathroom cabinet.

Charles Hayward is engaged to Sophia, but they cannot move forward until the murderer is discovered. Charles is inclined to see if he can help get to the bottom of the mystery. He and Chief-Inspector Taverner are on the case. Who did it? Can you figure it out before it is revealed? You'll want to go back and read it again, as soon as you finish it.

I know that I announced And Then There Were None as my next read, however, I have since been distracted from it. I may get back to it later. But upon looking about at my bookshelves, I have noted so many "shiny" things, that I have a growing stack. I intend to post about them as I get through them, so stay tuned. I hope not to be offline for such a long space of time again.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Decorate Responsibly

To any person, professional or otherwise, who may choose to do interior decorating:

Use wallpaper with good sense.
Wallpaper can be a quick (if you know how to hang it) way to decorate a room. It may add a pop to a bland space, or perhaps some texture to a wall. It can be a lovely accent around the room. But, please, be responsible in your decorating.

If there is any chance at all that you may get tired of the wall paper, think before you hang it. If you might decide to move out or die before the wallpaper has served its sentence on your walls, think before you hang it. If that wallpaper is just so quirky that only you could love it, think of the people who will one day move into your residence after you have moved out of it. Will they love it, too? Or will it be the bane of their existence?

If you did decide to go ahead and hang that wallpaper, no matter how awesome and shiny that textured wallpaper may be, realize that you may tire of it. Fast forward your life. Suddenly, the teenage kid who really, really needed that wallpaper has moved on. How do we fix this? We have walls marred with your decorating choice. What's that? Paint over it, you say? Easy. No messing with glue removal, no priming the walls, just slap a coat of your favorite grey tinted white paint and you are all done. Now you have painted walls with a nifty design in them! WOW, what a great deal! Who knew that textured wallpaper could serve such a purpose? Your friends and coworkers will be amazed at how easy it was to fix it!

Ahem. Are you kidding me? There is a much better way. I have a friend who told me that the easiest way to remove wallpaper is to spray it with vinegar. The wallpaper practically falls off. Unless, of course you PAINTED it first! Then, of course the vinegar cannot penetrate the paint layer, thus leaving you to tear it all down by hand and THEN scrape off the backing that remains. Don't forget to spray it with the vinegar. It helps eliminate the leftover scraps on the walls.

One more thing.
If you have hung a lovely wallpaper border around the top of your walls, and then later decide to change the wall color, while leaving the border hung, mask it off. If you are afraid that painters tape will later tear the border when you remove the tape, then use a putty knife or other straight edge to cover the border when you paint up to the paper. You will then have less chance of leaving the old wall color showing and also leave the paper unpainted. If, however, the border is slightly peeling at the seams or top/bottom edges, it is time to remove it (using vinegar) before you paint. Then you may purchase a new border to apply after the paint has dried--you may even use the same one!

These tips may help you enjoy the time you have with your wallpaper. You won't look at it and wish that there weren't paint blotches all over the border. You will be happy with they way that awesome textured wallpaper looks as it drifts to the floor before you repaint the room. And it will ensure that the future residents of your current home aren't spending hours (4) peeling and scraping off your mistakes. Wallpaper can be a good thing if used responsibly. But it can also be a nightmare if it is not. Thank you.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Curse of the Clean Kitchen Floor

I am writing this in the hopes that doing so will ward off the curse this week. Cross your toes for me. A few weeks back, I wrote about Spring Cleaning Break. Well, we didn't do morning chores every day like I had hoped. But we did spend the bulk of one day near the end of the break pulling the house back into shape, and that gave me the motivation to get back on track with regular house cleaning when the kids headed back to school..
The week following Spring Break, I got back into my routine, including a thorough mopping of the kitchen floor. The problem with that is when the floor hasn't been mopped in I-can't-remember-how-long, as soon as you do, it becomes a magnet for all things messy. I call it The Curse of the Clean Kitchen Floor.
It's like the floor misses all the grime and sticky, and so must replace it as soon as possible. Now I know that spills happen. That's why they invented Clorox wipes. But if you leave the floor unwashed for too long, the spills increase in frequency and sometimes intensity when you bring out the old steam mop (yes, I steam mop. I'm spoiled).
What makes me think so? On kitchen cleaning day, I spruced up the dishes, uncluttered the counters and mopped my heart out. I was finished by lunch time and I was proud of how my kitchen looked. Then the dog tripped me and I sloshed my glass of milk across the floor. A fluke, I'm sure. I soaked it up, followed by a damp rag to ward off sticky-ness. Later, I pulled a shallow dish filled with defrosted chicken breasts from the microwave and tipped it a little south. Can we say salmonella on the floor? Again, this is why they invented Clorox wipes.
No biggie, 2 spills isn't that bad, is it? HA! Just you wait. As we finished dinner, I picked up the container of broccoli from the table. I was looking to see how much was left when my little hip attachment slapped at it and she knocked it from my hands. I rolled my eyes and went for the camera. The dog, however, had other plans. She swooped in before I could turn around and slurped up the broccoli faster than should be possible. This picture is all I got. There was over a cup of broccoli on the floor, and the camera was on the counter behind me. It only took seconds to grab.

The moral of the story is, mop weekly. Because if you let it go longer than 2 weeks, the curse will mess up the glorious gleam of the floor that was clean, if only for a minute.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I Super-Glued My Fingers Today or There Isn't Any Tape Left in the House

On the day of my last post, I remember looking at the calendar and all we had packed into it and thinking, "Wow. This month is going to blow by." And then I blinked and here we are, 3 weeks later. To me, the month is over, even though we have a whole week left. My kids are on Spring Break this coming week and it seems like time off like that always gets past us with very little accomplished. The last break we had was filled with pajama-clad, shower-less days. I hope this one doesn't go quite that way. I also worry about so much time off, because by the end I'm just a referee, breaking up scuffles and trying to remind my boys that they have manners. In addition to that, we have a little one who joined our family last summer, and Saturdays never seem to allow for her nap. She loves her big brothers and insists on being a part of all the goings on. Spring Break means an entire week of Saturdays, and I'm not looking forward to a cranky baby who simply cannot take a nap when the kids don't go to school.

There is a glimmer of hope, however. Part of the morning, I had the boys help me sort through their dressers today. Anything too small was pulled, and they got rid of anything they didn't wear, either. Some clothes were reintroduced ("Oh, yeah! I remember that!") and all were folded neatly and returned to the drawers that now close with out shoving and finagling. They were willing participants, which got me to thinking, maybe they can help me spruce up the house a little each day. I think I'll call it "Spring Break Cleaning."

I know, you are dying to know, "What about the super-glue?" That's where this comes in. When we moved to this house several years ago, one of the drawers in my oldest's dresser got broken. The clip that connects to the drawer slide got ripped out by someone who didn't know how to get the drawers out the right way. We fixed it up for him and it seemed to work just fine. About a month ago, however, the clip came off again, making the drawer fall out every time he opens it. So, while we were cleaning out the dresser, I decided that it was time to try and fix the drawer again. A few poorly placed nails and some super-glue, and we are all set. The clip is holding and so is the drawer. But my fingers managed to get a nice coating of super-glue on the tips in the process. I did NOT glue them together, although that does happen most times I use super-glue. But somehow, the tips of three fingers ended up with the sticky stuff. It is a strange and annoying feeling, having glue coating my fingers. It is not the same as when they've been glued together and I pry them apart. Some of it flaked off during my shower later, but it's still there, still annoying.

The other reason I think that Spring Break may not be quite as bad as I thought? There hasn't been one squabble yet. My younger son figured out how to fold paper and put the printed sides (my kids' drawing paper is used on one side) face to face and then tape them, making a book with clean paper on all visible sides. So the two of them have spent all day (minus chore time) making their own comic books. They are frequently drawing comics and making books, but this style is new. They wrote and drew all day, helping each other with ideas, spelling, and drawing. And now the tape is all gone. They have since found a giant glue stick, and they are using that for their upcoming comic books. It's been a pretty good day.

In other news, we tried out a few Cheerios on our little one, and it cracks me up the faces she makes. She prefers is at the front of her mouth and she chews it with her front gums and one tooth. If the Cheerio manages to make it to the middle of her tongue, she doesn't know how to handle it, and sits there drooling with her mouth open and tongue hanging out. It may still be a little early yet for Cheerios, but she enjoyed herself.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Oh, the Places You'll Stand

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go."
--Oh, the Places You'll Go!, By Dr. Seuss

Every year in our LDS youth group for girls ages 12-17, Young Women, we put together an evening we call New Beginnings. This is a chance for the 12 year old girls (and their parents) who will be joining us to see what we are all about. It's a celebration and an evening of fun. This year, the Church-wide theme for all youth is
Stand Ye in Holy Places and Be Not Moved.

We like to take the theme and work it into the New Beginnings. Our secretary was doing some online research, trying to find some ideas for our night. She happened to stumble upon a website ( that detailed one woman's ideas for New Beginnings in her ward. She was doing a Dr. Seuss theme, which she called "Oh, the Places You'll Stand!" With only a month to plan, create, and execute our New Beginnings, we discussed the idea and decided that we would love to take this idea and make it work for us, too. We selected guest speakers, located the books, put out invitations, and rounded up the girls to help us create some awesome decorations.

In the Young Women program, there are 8 Values that the girls learn about and apply in their own lives. For New Beginnings, a book written by Dr. Seuss was selected for each Value, and a specific quote that related to that Value was pulled from each book. Our Presidency and a few invited guests dressed in Seuss-inspired attire and presented the Values.

Faith Horton Hears a Who
"Don't give up. I believe in  you all.
A person's a person, no matter how small."

Divine Nature The Sneetches
"That day, they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches.
And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.
That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether
They had one, or not, upon thars."

Individual Worth
I Wish that I had Duck Feet
"AND SO...I think there are some things I do not wish to be.
And that is why I think that I just wish to be like ME."

Knowledge I can Read with My Eyes Shut
"The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."

Choice and Accountability Yertle the Turtle
"That plain little turtle below in the stack,
That plain little turtle whose name was just Mack,
Decided he'd taken enough. And he had.
And that plain little lad got a little bit mad
And that plain little Mack did a plain little thing.
He burped!
And his burp shook the throne of the king!"

Good Works The Lorax
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not."

Integrity Horton Hatches the Egg
"I meant what I said and I said what I meant.
An elephant's faithful - one hundred percent."

Virtue I had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew
"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead and some come from behind.
But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready, you see.
Now my troubles are going to have trouble with me!"

Our President finished up the night by presenting this poem. (written by another Jill, not me)

We gave the girls a copy of the poem with a magnet on the back so they can hang it in their lockers. At the conclusion of our evening, everyone was delighted to eat Thing 1 and Thing 2 cupcakes (they took me all day to make!) and Beezlenut Splash to drink (two flavors of cubed jell-o in 7-Up). Everyone had a great evening, and it was a neat way to start off another year. It was a fun idea, and we were thrilled to find it.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! And thank you for the lessons you left behind.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I Knew this was Coming

The other day, my boys were listening the our Piano Guys CD. There was a song on it that we didn't know, so we went to their site to find the video. On the search, however, we were side tracked because we found this instead. It's their latest video, and it's a compilaton featuring the lovely Lindsey Stirling. When we discovered her, my boys both said she should do a video with the Piano Guys. Well, here it is.

And, because I really enjoyed this music (and hope to see the movie soon), here is The Hobbit.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How Do They Earn a Living?

As a member of the PTA at our elementary school, I have volunteered to be the Book Fair Chairperson. I schedule the Book Fair, set it up when the stuff arrives, advertise the shopping days, and invite the classes in to browse and get excited about bringing their grown-up to buy them stuff. I know that last bit sounds a bit conniving, but how else are we going to make sales put books into the homes of these kids? Kidding aside, it is all about getting kids to love to read, and sending them home with a book they are interested in.

The rest of my assignment is to get volunteers to come help run the Fair and buy sell the books! I sat at the register for most of our 4 days, and I will admit, I had a lot of fun. Our first Fair, I had minimal involvement. I set it up and took it down, but I had other things at home that needed my attention, so I didn't run the fair. This time, I was there every night. I enjoyed scanning the books and making change. Another perk was that I got to see what everybody was buying. I knew what books we had for sale fairly well. But we had hundreds of titles, and there were many that I didn't even know we had. I went home each day, fairly exhausted, pondering which books I was going to buy for my household. The choice became harder and harder, because I was on a budget and I was trying hard to stick to it.

I finally settled on a few great picture books and a chapter book for my boys to share (and I couldn't pass up the  fun joke book that only cost $1). They also each got a cool science book full of experiments that kids can do with minimal adult help and minimal mess. They had to each have their own, because it was Phineas and Ferb some of the activities involved punch-outs from the book, and I decided it was worth paying for two to avoid the fight over who got which activity.

But as I counted out the cash, boxed up all the books and closed the Book Fair, I wondered how people do it. I mean work in a brick and mortar book store. How could you possibly work 8 hours, every day, in a book store and not blow your entire paycheck on books? How do these people make a living? My guess is that they aren't the bread-winners, they are the book-winners. I mean, every home needs books. How could you not have shelves lining the walls, and books stacked on every available surface? So, my theory is that the folks who work at a book store are simply there to earn their books.

Seriously. As I scanned books for our customers, I wanted many times to run and grab a copy for my own house. I might have wrapped up nearly the entire book fair to go, if I didn't have a sensible head on my shoulders (and the idea that I didn't really have anywhere to put all of them...). I don't get paid to run the book fair. It's volunteer work. But I am certain that if I did get paid, I'd take my wages in books. Because there are far too many great ones to choose from. I spoke to the previous Chairperson, and she said she spent hundreds of dollars at every Fair. She was the Chair for about 8 years. And there are 3 Fairs each school year. I had to be really careful in the selection that I brought home, just so that I didn't wish I had got that one instead of this one (or wish I didn't put us in the red). It's a good thing we only have the Book Fair for about a week. Otherwise, my wallet might be in big trouble. Nothing like limited time to make you hurry up and decide. Also, it's a really good thing that our last Book Fair this year is a Buy One Get One Free. Because then I can bring home more than I spend.

But the really great thing about our Book Fair? We sold around 600 books. That's right. 600 new books to grace the homes in my neighborhood. And that's even better than taking the whole Fair home for myself.