Thursday, 31 January 2008

It's my first blogiversary!

How appropriate that the traditional first anniversary gift is paper:
Blogging has returned me to journal writing. As a gift to myself I have begun the project of printing the last year of blogging onto paper.
Blogging has returned me to books. Through blogging friends who make book recommendations and share their enthusiasm for reading my own love of reading has been rediscovered.
Blogging has introduced me to good mail, pretty stationery, and pen pals.
This experience of blogging is worth far more than the paper it's not printed on!

Wednesday, 30 January 2008


I've been wondering if the term cold snap comes from times when the weather gets so cold that people mentally snap. That's what's making sense to me this week.
I heard on the radio today that we can expect the temperature to warm over night, bringing us up to -9 C / 15 F by morning. Yippee! (that was not a sarcastic yippee)
We've had 3 days of deep cold. -30 C / -22 F with a wind chill of -45 C /-49 F.
The schools are open, but the buses aren't running and I've kept my kids home. Staying home due to cold weather isn't fun the way a snow day is fun because everyone is holed up inside, not out playing in the snow, so we've just hunkered down and watched movies and done a fairly good job of not driving each other crazy.

I am grateful to have a reliable car in this weather, but I am still operating like I'm in my old van. I'm dressing for the weather as if at any time my car could break down and leave me standing at the side of the road somewhere. It's probably a good habit.

Last night after mutual I went to gas up, and the first 2 gas stations I tried were shut down completely - the pumps were frozen. I have never seen this before. Although I'm sure it's not a first, it's a first for me.

Just when I thought we were down to zero humidity, the temperature drop has managed to squeeze a little more moisture out of the air and give us some frost on our windows.

Our house is definitely feeling the cold. A few times a year the house gets so cold that we can't bolt the door between our house and the garage. Something contracts, presumably the door frame, and the bolt and the hole don't line up. It's not a security issue as we power down the garage door every night, so no worries, but clearly our home is chilled to the bone.
I forgot to get a picture of the ice forming inside the hood fan above the stove, too bad.
But you get the idea. It's cold.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008


I woke up wondering what I would do if I had an extra hour in my day today. I found myself thinking that I really wouldn't like an extra hour; I don't seem to have the energy to efficiently fill the hours I already have. Then I wondered if I did have additional time would I want to extend something I already do in my day, or add something new?
And why was I taking this question so seriously?
My answer came tumbling into my brain around 5pm when I picked Jaclyn up from her piano lesson. Of course. If I had 25 hours in a day, I would spend one of them playing the piano.
Why, oh why, does SPT have to lead to so much self discovery?
With my answer to this week's challenge I am feeling a need inside of me to act on it. I suppose that is why I took the question so seriously: I probably do have a few extra hours laying around here most weeks.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

I got a couple of phone calls and emails from friends and family making sure that I'd heard. He was the prophet and president of my church for the past 12 years, and really is the only prophet my children have known. Chloe requested to pose for this photo when we visited temple square so that she could have a picture of herself with President Hinkley.
I am happy for him that he is now reunited with his wife and other loved ones who had already passed on. And I will miss him. I enjoyed it when he let his sense of humor show as he addressed us in general conference. I will miss the way he loved all the members of our church into trying a little harder to be a little better. He was a great leader and a great Christian.

52 Blessings

Jaclyn and I are both members of the church choir; it is something enjoyable we can do together, which is part of the blessing. Today Jaclyn took a turn at the piano giving our regular choir accompanist a chance to sing bass. The choir director was very impressed that Jaclyn could just jump in like that. I like it best when we sit together and sing, but I am also proud of her piano talent. Several of my other young women are in choir which is another fun reason to go, but most of all I love choir because I feel the Spirit when I sing the hymns.
I feel the heat.

Saturday, 26 January 2008


We bought a new minivan last Saturday - Ken picked it up on Thursday night. I drove around with the camera in the car yesterday, planning to take pictures, but it was Steven who found the camera in the front seat and followed through. So there you go: my new dashboard.
Our old minivan is a '98 Windstar that has become a clunker. We put a bunch of money into it before Christmas, and now the transmission is acting up. It's up for sale, anyone want it?
As we sat in the dealership buying the new vehicle I knew it was what we needed, we got a great deal, and all that, but I really wasn't happy to be spending the money. It is my first new car, but our second new car counting Ken's truck which he bought new a couple of years ago. The thing is, I'm not at all into cars, so the purchase of a new van wasn't exciting to me, just expensive. And I wondered to myself am I so spoiled that I couldn't get excited, but I don't think that was it, I was just a little sick about the money and how have we become the people who drive new cars?
So all of the salespeople and managers were coming around shaking our hands, congratulating us on our new Odyssey. Congratulations felt like the wrong word. Congratulations for driving my last car into the ground? Congratulations for acquiring debt?
But Friday as I drove the kids to school in my heated seats with tight steering, and a transmission that stayed in gear I felt a little differently. Even happy to have a new minivan. Then last night Ken and I took our new car out for a big long drive to Cardston and back and it was fun and quiet and smooth. (We even ate in the car, but don't tell the kids.)
So I'm happy now. I'm ready to hear congratulations.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

So I have this friend, let's call her Orange Blossom. This week she sent me the sweetest good mail ever!
. Really, no one has ever grown an orange for me before, I was really touched that she'd ship this big box of sunshine up to Canada. It is good to know that somewhere in the world it is warm right now.
I suspect that maybe she's done this before, because she used this cute label for her return address (I erased her last name and address - superheros like Orange Blossom don't like to have their secret identities revealed).

The oranges arrived on the perfect day, when I was feeling like a bit of a crab apple. Appropriately, the only fruit bearing tree in my own back yard.

Thanks for the Vitamin C !

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Self Portrait Tuesday

In our house there is a running monkey joke I'm not sure I can even explain. If Carmen asks, "What's for after school snack?" and Steven beats me to the answer he'll say, "Monkey brains." Like that. Ken started the monkey joke, and to be honest I don't completely connect with it, but the kids sure do. Yet I used it in my blog title, go figure. I don't sweat this kind of stuff, so when the name popped into my head I just went with it.
My URL has a longer story.

Here I am with my four little monkeys - it is so difficult to get a good group self portrait shot.

It so happens that today's self portrait challenge gives me the perfect opportunity to blog about the anniversary present Ken gave me back in December. I never did get around to posting about our anniversary, it was one of those events that didn't get blogged immediately, therefore didn't get recorded at all. But I do have a funny story from that day (December 27th, 2007, our 17th anniversary). We were sitting in the trailer on Ken's parents' land eating Subway with the kids when Jaclyn wished us a happy anniversary. Chloe said incredulously, "It's your anniversary??? I thought on anniversaries moms and dads got dressed up fancy and went dancing!" Ken told her that's just the first anniversary. Later that night Ken's parents arrived with a Dairy Queen ice cream cake singing 'Happy Anniversary' for us, which made the evening much more festive and special, much to Chloe's approval.

Back to the gift. Ken's sister tipped him off on this great gift idea for me: an XShot self portrait extender.


I think this XShot is going to be super for group pictures, but on my first try I didn't have the angle right - obviously you don't want to see the pole.

The kids didn't hang around while I fine tuned my technique, but I think I've got it now.

Blast!!! Ken just gave me the best idea for this post, and all the kids are in bed. I don't know if they'll be good enough sports for a retake tomorrow, but I will try to persuade them.

Monday, 21 January 2008

52 Blessings

. .
This week I feel especially blessed to have a public library. I've read 3 books this month! Perhaps I need to take a small break from reading and maybe fold some laundry or something.
I've read more in the past year than in the previous 5 years, and I'm grateful that I can borrow books rather than buy them. It's a big money saver.

Recently Ken and I were talking about how much of our money and time our children's hobbies and interests consume, and Ken said, "Wouldn't it be great if they just liked to sit on the couch reading library books?"
(Is couch more of a Canadian word? Do you sit on a sofa?)

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Good Mail

When I brought the mail in yesterday I didn't go through it right away, but Steven did. He called to me, "Mom: you got some good mail." How great is it that 'good mail' is just a regular phrase in our house?

Kristi sent me this card postmarked January 12th.

And Michelle sent me this card postmarked December 18th! I did a little bit of photoshop-ing to show you the stamp the post office added just below my address: advise your correspondent of your correct mailing address. Well, she had the correct mailing address (minus the country which the post office added), but my guess is that this pink letter travelled around Arkansas, Alaska, Alabama, and maybe Arizona. I guess I am officially advising my correspondent{s} to add Canada to the bottom of my address, it seems that the Alberta abbreviation, AB, is confusing.

I enjoy all my pretty good mail that comes my way, and as I scanned my newest cards I was thinking that I really would like to see my good mail up in my home, so I pulled out my card wreath I bought this past Christmas (I didn't follow through with my SPT Christmas card intention) and put it up in the den. Why ever did I pack it away? It is perfect for good mail!

Friday, 18 January 2008

This week's funnies

Chloe spent her tooth fairy money on Tuesday. She carefully looked through the Dollar $tore, and chose a plain spiral notebook and a package of two pens. It seems that all Chloe does these days is write and write and write. Carmen evaluated Chloe's purchase and said under her breath, just for me: (not to hurt Chloe's feelings that she had bought something dumb)
"I would have bought a whoopee cushion and a pack of gum."

.Last winter Steven took snowboarding lessons, and this year for Christmas he got his own snowboard and boots. He feels a little lonely out on the slopes with the rest of the family because we're all skiers, so I decided to take snowboard lessons this winter so that he and I could snowboard together. Well, I had my first lesson on Monday morning. I signed up for this women's only program at COP that runs for 4 weeks. At my lesson all the other ladies were on skis - which meant that as the only snowboarder I got a private lesson for group lesson prices! You can't beat the private lesson for quick progress, and although I am boarding at a very slow beginner pace, I can already use both my front and back edges and I can make turns. I was so excited and proud of myself! After Steven was home from school and I told him how much I'd learned on my first day he said,
"Aw, how many more of these lessons are you going to have???"
(I don't think he wants his mom to show him up)

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

SPT: Eye Spy

I spy with my little eye something that is black!

Can you tell what it is? What do I zoom in on when I look at my own appearance, my family, or my house?
Dog hair. And it is a problem that is worse than usual at this time of year. The humidity is low and the static electricity is high, and dog hair is clinging to everything! I vacuum daily, clean like crazy, but still. Dog hair everywhere! The last time I made a meal for someone else I washed every preparation dish by hand before I started cooking just to be sure the meal wouldn't hold any unwanted surprises. Have I grossed you out completely? Are you having second thoughts about getting a house pet of your own?

I like my dog much better in the summer and outside!

Monday, 14 January 2008

52 Blessings

I am feeling especially thankful for chewable vitamin C tablets. I like how the taste reminds me of baby aspirin. Right now they are satisfying my urge for something sweet after lunch. In them I am placing magical powers preventing me from catching the head colds, coughs, and even stomach flu's that my children have brought home this past week.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

A first for Chloe

On Wednesday Chloe discovered that she had her first loose teeth (2 at once), and Carmen, playing dentist, was alarmed to notice that the permanent teeth were already through the gums behind the loose baby teeth. Chloe danced and sang through the house Wednesday night about her loose teeth, but by Saturday she was a little frustrated they were hanging in there. I checked them and told Chloe that I was sure I could pull them if she wanted. Yes! She wanted!

I got them out without any trouble and Chloe took her teeth in her hand to show everyone - she showed Ken twice. I warned her that she'd better put those teeth in a Ziploc bag before she lost them, but she didn't listen, so the cry soon came from the bathroom, "I dropped my teeth and I can't find them!" I found one, but it was near the heating vent where I'm sure the other tooth disappeared. Chloe was so relieved to have one tooth back, she didn't mind at all that the other tooth was gone for good. I asked her: Isn't mom (almost) always right? Shouldn't she listen when mom tells her to do something? Chloe agreed (heavy on the almost) and she was ready to find somewhere safe for her remaining tooth. She put it in a Ziploc as a temporary home, and then set to work on a special tooth pocket:

Red, so that it would be easy to see, just in case.

And a button to keep it closed (her idea, my application).

Steven was quick to (quietly) point out to me the flaw in Chloe's design: large gaping areas the tooth could slide out, but the felt was grippy and she didn't loose her tooth again.


The tooth fairy must have found the other tooth on the bathroom floor, because Chloe found two loonies in her tooth pouch in the morning.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Carmen and I drove down to my parents' house on Friday night to work on a teacher appreciation project. Last spring someone on the parent council suggested that we should give each of the teachers a potted plant at the teacher appreciation lunch, but when we added up the cost, it was just too expensive. So this year my dad is raising geraniums for our teachers in his little 'grow-op' in his basement. Everyone needs a hobby, right? My dad raises bedding out plants in the winter and tends his garden in the summer. Did you know that petunia seed is worth more per ounce than gold?

Anyways, my dad and I thought it would be more meaningful if the kids helped with the project, though the more I thought about it the more I was sure that Carmen would be the only child who would enjoy the job. She likes to get her hands dirty: clay pottery, gardening, general horse filth and so on, so I invited only Carmen to come work with Grandpa re-potting the plants into larger pots.

Friday night in my dad's garage Carmen filled the 6 inch pots with potting soil (not dirt, I needed to be corrected about this word continually) and brought the pots inside so that the dirt (doh! soil) could warm up over night for the transplanting in the morning. I thought about taking a picture on Friday night, but decided Saturday morning would give me plenty of opportunities to snap Carmen and Grandpa working together.
Wrong again. This is the only picture I snapped this morning. Carmen came down with the stomach flu in the night and was in no shape to do anything at all today (maybe her tolerance for dirty hands came back to bite her this time).
So Grandpa worked alone and when I thought we could risk it I drove Carmen home. She did try to fake that she was feeling better in the car so that we could still go to Maxwell's birthday party, but I wasn't willing to make Carmen patient zero for the other party guests.
I just hope the rest of the family does their due diligence with the hand washing and we hold this bug off at Carmen!

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Into Thin Air

For the second time in a month I have blogged on a Thursday, only to suspend the post before my big kids came home and read it. I guess I just don't want to *knowingly* give them any issues.
For those of you that caught my post earlier today: thanks for the comments and thanks for playing Thin Air Thursday!

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

SPT: Feel the Heat

Feel the Heat - these are the words printed on the back of my children's x-country running team shirts.
Heat is my word this year. It came to me last week, which by the way was a good week for me. I fed my spirit, served others, and I received a reward I wasn't expecting: a burning in my chest assuring me that what I was doing was right.

It was a physical hotness, like having the room heater in the observation room at Carmen's riding lessons right inside of me. And still, as I think and reflect and look inward I can feel it, so my word and my goal is to hang on to that Heat.

I will ask myself daily: do I still feel it?

I can already see further applications for this word: exercise (feel the burn), passion (fever! when you kiss me - fever when you hold me tight). Who knows where Heat will take me this year?


[official self portrait]

52 Blessings

Kelly wrote recently in this post about a 52 Blessings project: "the basic idea is that every week you take a picture of something that you are especially thankful for."


I found $35 in last week's laundry - now that was no small chunk of change!

I felt a change inside myself.

I witnessed a negative change for one of my young women turn into an opportunity for growth for all of my young women.

A change is a good as a rest.


Sunday, 6 January 2008


I know we all pick and choose what we share in our blogs. At least I know that I do. For me usually an experience goes unrecorded because I don't spare the time to write about it immediately, and I'm not a good back tracker. But this week was different.

This week I have been preoccupied with activities and thoughts I am keeping to myself, which created an amazing blogging writer's block for me. I've learned that I can't blog about what I'm not thinking about.

I found my cure in my Sunday thoughts journal, which was a very appropriate place for the happenings of this week anyhow.

So what else have I been up to? Well, we took down our Christmas decorations on New Year's Day. This is the longest we have left decorations up ever (and by a long shot)!

Today we are cooking a turkey dinner for ourselves because we always have Christmas and Thanksgiving at one of our parent's homes, and thereby deny ourselves delightful turkey dinner leftovers. (#98)

Besides that, my children will return to school tomorrow. We've had a wonderfully long school break, which has provided for me many days of sleeping in. I'm feeling refreshed and ready to move ahead.
Lastly, I was very sorry to miss the January 1st SPT challenge, especially considering I have enjoyed SPT so much, and I have a strong favorite from 2007: