27 May 2010

I'm Back...

I had to take a short and totally unexpected break. See, our computer got terribly ill, and I didn't want two things to happen: 1 - I didn't want to share the virus. 2 - I didn't want whomever had invaded my computer to have access to my information. One of those backdoor things. So... We took the computer to the computer doctor, and three days later, it came back.

Needless to say, one would think that I'd have tons of fodder to post about, but I don't.

I will tell you what's coming up though:

- A book review on a book that I JUST finished: I just have to gather my thoughts about how I felt about it.

- My thoughts on home-schooling and why we are going to continue on that path.

- A recipe that sounds really great: I'm trying it on my family for dinner tonight - You'll get the dinner review.

- Along with that - I'll post my thoughts and ideas on how to get a picky eater (we just got one of those at our house after 4 years of NOT being picky...) to eat. Starvation is a thought, but not really an option.

So... rather than waste any more of your precious time, I'll share my thoughts on ONE of those topics... tomorrow.

20 May 2010


Inspiration comes from some odd spots sometimes, I think. And it means different things to me. I am inspired to do something. I am inspired to BE someone. I am inspired by something or someone. I want to do better because of an event that occurs around me.

I have found the inspiration and desire to stick to my weight displacement program through watching meaningless television shows and wondering "why can't I be in that kind of shape?" I've also found it through blatant honesty as shown HERE. I'm not certain that I would be able to put my weight on a blog! Mostly, I find my desire to stick to my personal weight displacement program through personal thoughts of wanting to do and be better.

I find inspiration to read my scriptures and stay spiritually fit through the example of my Mother. For as long as I can remember, she gets up early in the morning and studies her scriptures. I'm not there yet. Someday, I hope to be. I know I COULD be there if I only put my scripture study over my personal reading.

Recently, I have found inspiration and awe and admiration and longing to be more like her through both a video I watched, and a blog that I found. But let me back track here... several months ago - in the middle of my pity party for one, I read about a couple who were in a terrible plane crash. Both of them survived. I have no idea what he does or did, but she is a fellow blogger and was featured in an LDS publication. I was inspired to be more like her when I read the article about her grit and desire to be the best she can be. And then, for MOTHER'S day (of all days...), my Mom sent me a link to the new Mormon Message "My New Life". I cried. I cried again today when I watched it with my children. I cried today when I watched it with my husband. It was truly that touching.

Nie is an amazing woman. I'm 100% confident that there are days when she has her own personal pity parties for one, but I am also confident that those days are few and the parties are short. She doesn't strike me as a person who lets herself feel too discouraged for too long. She has found her inspiration in knowing who she is, and not only understanding it, but BELIEVING it. There are days when I, too, am like that. Those days are more and more frequent than the pity party for one days. I have come to understand that it is up to ME how I feel, and, as I have come to know, it's true that I am indeed a Daughter of my Heavenly Father - and HE LOVES ME!

Isn't that a marvelous feeling? To know that YOU are loved by the MOST supreme being EVER?! Not only that, but HE wants YOU to become like him! While that thought might, on occasion, be depressing, the more we understand about HIM, the more we learn and understand as parents about ourselves and what is expected of us. I personally feel that the more we allow ourselves to be depressed over the little thing of which we have little to no control, the easier it is to allow Satan (that evil snake) to take control of our minds and we find ourselves doing and saying things we NEVER would say if we were truly in our proper frames of mind.

I don't think Nie lingers on her issues too long. I want to be more like her.

Her blog is definitely worth reading. You can find it by either clicking HERE, or by going to the side bar on this page and clicking on "nienie". I challenge you to find something in your life that's a trial. Do what you can to turn those feelings of being tried into feelings of being blessed.

Remember: If I ask the Lord to take away my trials, I also have to ask Him to take away my blessings. I'm pretty sure I'm not willing to give THOSE back. They say you should walk a mile in someone else's shoes before judging them. There are certain people whose shoes I'm positive I would NEVER fit in to. Nie is one of them.

I want to be like Nie. From the inside, she is one of the most beautiful people I have ever seen.

19 May 2010

You Cook on WHAT?!

We just passed 8 months. Well over a year ago, A and I were in an antique store. He was raving about the beauty of the stove he had just found, and I was wondering where we were going to put it until we tore our kitchen up so we could put it in. It was PERFECT! The stove was sage green and looked as if it came straight from the factory. There was no doubt in my mind we would purchase it.

We left the antique store empty handed.

We spent the next three days doing research into OTHER stoves, even going to an antique stove warehouse where we saw stove stacked on stove stacked on stove. And then, after visiting "OUR" stove at least three times (we did the same thing with our house before purchasing it, by the way), we finally brought it home. Getting it in the house was a two man job (people in our ward don't answer the phone when we call...the first thing we ever moved into our home was an antique piano; that was a FOUR man job.), but move it in we did. It sat in the sun room as a great conversation starter - "Hey! My GRANDMA had something like this!" "Wow! That thing is in AMAZING shape!" "Are you really going to cook on that?!"

Finally, after 6 months, we called the same poor chap who had helped us move it into the house and asked him to help us move it into place in the kitchen. He must have forgotten how heavy it was, because he agreed. The stove sat, unusable, for another couple of months, until the hottest day in September 2009. It was on that day we finally put the last piece of pipe in to connect the stove to the chimney. And then we fired it up. Literally. We had pizza.

Because it took so long for us to get our stove in place, I learned several things about cooking. First: you can cook ANYTHING on the barbecue. Second: I love my crock pot. Third: Who says you can't make macaroni and cheese in an electrical skillet? I also learned that the most frequently stated comment to owners of an antique WOOD cookstove is: "My Grandmother used to make the BEST meals in a stove like this. I've never had a better meal."

I don't know about my grandmother's wood cookstove, as far back as I can remember she's had an electrical stove. I CAN, however, tell you about mine. Yes, I am 35 years old and I cook on an antique wood cookstove. My day starts with firing up the stove. On really hot days and during the summer, we give the stove a break and barbecue. If I have good, dry wood, I can get the oven hot enough to bake bread in within 20 minutes. Some days, the oven never gets that hot - like the day I made brownies and baked them at 120... for FOUR hours. Hey. They weren't burnt!

Cooking on an antique wood cookstove is really no different that cooking on an electrical or gas stove - except for the fact that you can't rest your hand on the side of the stove when cooking, and if one burner is on, the entire stove is on. I can regulate the heat by opening and closing dampers, or by adding more fuel to the flames. I can bake a loaf of bread in the same amount of time that a regular stove bakes bread, and I can roast the BEST chicken you'll ever have in your life. (I can also burn my buns on the stove - but that's another, more embarassing post.) A and I have commented that we really should teach our children about electrical stoves; that way they aren't TOO backward when they go to college - and it is for that reason that our glass-top stove sits in the basement where the children use it as a pretend stove for playing house. It's not plugged in, nor does it have an outlet that it COULD be plugged in to. Instead, it sits. In exhile. Not even next to its old friend, the refrigerator (of which we have two - both down in the basement and really not that convenient to the kitchen...)

I love explaining to other people how we regulate the heat in the stove. It's even better listening to our four year old explain to people the same thing. And I love using cast iron. It's an even heat, keeps my food hot even when it's not on or in the stove, and it's the easiest clean up in the world. The original non-stick.

The other day we had some friends come over to purchase eggs. They had never been inside the house before, and her comment was "You really DO cook on an antique stove! They told me, but I didn't believe it." The stove is perfect in our kitchen. It fits with the house. And it does. It looks like it's always been there. The best benefit is that I never have to worry about power outages. I'll always have a way to cook and bake and heat my home - no matter WHAT the weather. (As long as I have access to our wood, I've got heat and cooking energy.) Everyone should have an antique wood cookstove.

So... the next time you're in the area, stop by for some fresh baked bread. Or the best roast chicken you've ever had. You won't be disappointed.

18 May 2010

Breakfast... the IN Thing

I've never really been a breakfast person. Something about having to get up and fix it that early in the morning - and then having to EAT it... has always made my stomach turn - just a little.

As a teenager, I was convinced that Hot Chocolate and Toast WAS the breakfast of Champions. I'm still convinced that true champions really drink hot cocoa. Recently though, I've become obsessed with eating SOMETHING for breakfast. I think it's because I've read so much lately about breakfast being key to helping people lose weight and that it's the kick off for your metabolism... and let's face it. Unless you go by something like "SLIM" or people call you Anna and they mean that it's really short for Anorexic... MOST people would admit to having a few pounds that they're trying to dodge. Or get rid of. Or just plain LOSE.

I am NOT the exception to that train of thought. After having had three children in the last four years, I feel like I have at least 10 pounds that are just hanging on. Reminds me of a song that my Dad found on the internet (or somewhere) by a group called Homer and Jethro - one of those "Punny" Songs; the words of which are: "Let me go, Let me go, Let me go. Blubber. Let me scat like a cat 'way from you. You're too fat in the first place, you know it's true. You're too fat in the second place to..." And thus my obsession with breakfast begins.

Mostly, I've become obsessed with smoothies. They're easy, they're nutritious, and they are using up the frozen fruit in my freezer before I want to replenish my stock this summer. Interestingly enough, I've discovered that I'm actually hungry at lunch time when I have a small breakfast. Shocking how that works. I'm not sure if I've actually lost weight over the last few weeks, but I certainly feel a lot more energized in the morning!

Several weeks ago I attended a Relief Society Conference. One of the classes was on nutrition and weight loss and how breakfast really helps in that endeavor. I've never considered myself to be "Fat". Nor have I thought that I have a weight problem. I am, however, inspired by a blog that was mentioned during the class - More Chins Than a Chinese Phone Book... VERY inspiring. The name alone got my attention. This young woman is amazing in her quest for weight loss. I think I'm a slacker when it comes to MY idea of weight loss!

Last night I had a wild hair and went downstairs to ride the exercise bike. Probably the SECOND (and I'm not kidding about that) time I've ridden it. We've had the bike for four years. I definitely am feeling it this morning, and I only went 2 miles. Yes. I AM incredibly out of shape.

I had breakfast this morning. I think I'll go ride my bike.

17 May 2010

Meanest Mom in the World.

It's official. I AM the Meanest Mom in the World. I know this because my children told me so. In fact, they're on the campaign trail to make me PRESIDENT of the Meanest Mom Club.

It all started with chores. I am a firm believer in teaching children to work. My belief is that if they're old enough to MAKE the mess, they're old enough to clean up after themselves. As a result, we have chores. All of us. Saturday is chore day at our house; the deep cleaning, once a week kind of chores.

S, who is 8, cleans the two bathrooms; folds her own clothes; cleans her bedroom; and picks up fallen limbs outside. She is learning not only to clean and to clean well, but to not complain. She's pretty good about doing her chores - especially when I suggest that there is a special reward for the first (and I'm included in that "first") to finish their chores.

M - at four - ALSO has four chores. Hers differ from S's in that she vacuums the stairs (the only nailed down carpet in the entire house) and straightens the shoes and boots in the entry way. She ALSO cleans her bedroom and folds her own clothes - on occasion she helps with the limbs and S has the additional chore of helping A split wood (a chore that she DOES complain about). M is NOT motivated by the suggestion of a reward.

I generally take care of the rest of the house: clean and sweep the kitchen; sweep the living room; wash, dry, fold and put away all the laundry NOT for S or M; you name the remaining chores, I'm responsible for them. I'm the MOM. I wouldn't expect any different. (For the record, chores ARE added as children get older and better able to accept responsibility; S will have added chores next weekend.)

The announcement that I was "JUST SO MEAN!" came with such vehemence and force that I HAD to stop and look at the little person making the accusation. She was determined to let me know how she felt, and she was letting. me. have it. So... in the middle of cleaning, I stopped and said, "I am SO sorry to hear that. What makes me so mean?" (In reality, I knew EXACTLY where she was getting her ideas - I'd just spent the last 20 minutes telling this particular young lady that she wouldn't be getting dinner until she finished vacuuming the stairs). It was all I could do to NOT laugh during the following exchange.

M: "You're just so mean because Heavenly Father created us to love, and you're not letting us love! You won't let us eat dinner until we're finished with chores, and that's JUST NOT LETTING US LOVE!"
Me: "You're right. Heavenly Father DID create us to love, and I DO love you. How Heavenly Father created us has NOTHING to do with the fact that you have been asked to vacuum the stairs, and you're not getting dinner until you are finished with your chores. Please go vacuum the stairs.
M: "Do you know why we can't eat?!"
Me: "Because you haven't finished your chores?"
M: "No. We can't eat because you're just so mean. You won't let us eat until we do our chores!"

I thought so.

She just didn't want to vacuum. Our conversation ended with a lot of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. M was doing all the weeping and wailing. She retreated to the top of the stairs for continued weeping... Until I told her that I wasn't going to listen to the crying any longer, and her two choices were now to either do her chores without crying, or go to bed. Crying wasn't an option.

Miss M. did her very best to negotiate a different consequence. "Can I help make dinner as one of my chores?" "Nope. Please go vacuum the stairs." "Can I just eat and vacuum later?" "What do YOU think?" Until finally, in defeat, she hung her head and said, "Fine. I'll just go vacuum the stairs."

While it may seem a bit depressing to have a FOUR year old nominate you as Meanest Mom in the World, I'm actually quite proud of the nomination. It means that I'm doing my job. I'm NOT giving in.

Four days ago, S and I had a conversation wherein she placed HER nomination. It was over piano practice and school and me sitting NEXT. TO. HER. while she did her assigned work. I wasn't going to sit there the entire time. Let it be said that if I were able to sit undisturbed and help her the entire time, I would. Unfortunately for S, I am the mother of FOUR children, with the youngest demanding the majority of my time.

The following lecture was an eye opener for her.

"Just because I don't sit and focus my entire world around you and only you, doesn't mean that I don't love you. YOU are important to me. Unfortunately for your EGO (try explaining what an ego is to an 8 year old in words that you understand too...), you are also the oldest of four children who ALL demand my attention. This means that you are expected to do more things on your own and to stretch and grow accordingly. Just as I did for you when you were a baby, and just as I did for M and for L, I HAVE to respond when C starts to cry. It's how she learns that I will do ANYTHING to make sure she's happy. If I had always put your pants on you when you were younger, would you do it for yourself? (The answer was a loud, NO!)

After a few more questions establishing that the reasons I don't do everything for her is so that she can learn and grow - and reminding her that Heavenly Father works the same way... in addition to telling her - again - how much I loved her, piano practice continued. Without me.

All of these things I learned from my OWN Mom - who was ALSO the Meanest Mom in the World. Not only did I have chores, I HAD to eat all my dinner. I HAD to do my homework. I HAD to eat OATMEAL. I HAD to keep curfew. I HAD to learn responsibility. I HAD to get a J.O.B. and I had to do all of that while going to school and taking violin lessons (which I paid for) and being in the Anchorage Youth Symphony and playing volleyball and maintaining my active social life and whatever else was going on in my life at that time.

Consequences, like those I give my own children, were real and stated. Break curfew? Come home 1 hour earlier the next time I went out. I missed curfew once. Not do homework? Fail my classes. (And my parent's weren't afraid that I'd have a poor self esteem if I failed.) Not eat my oatmeal? Eat it cold. Not get a J.O.B.? No driving (can't pay for fuel without money!), no movies or other fun things (again... the money issue.) and no higher education. I am the second oldest of seven. My parents didn't have money! Now that I'm a parent, my children are learning the same things.

I'm in good company in the Meanest Mom in the World club, and I won't withdraw my membership. Not if it means that I raise my children to be good, law abiding, hard working, religious, responsible adults.

The hard thing for my children? ALL of my friends (and consequently my children's friends moms) are also members of the Meanest Mom in the World club.

I'm in good company.

14 May 2010

Building Fences

For some, the statement "building fences" means that they're putting up walls between something or someone or an idea that they don't like. For me, it literally means: BUILDING FENCES. Today, on perhaps the hottest day of the year thus far, the family - all of us over the age of 3, put up a fence.

I never realized how much work putting up a fence could be. Before I go into further detail, I have to do a little explaining on what our property looks like. Put your Imagination caps on, and picture in your mind the following.

2.25 Acres of land with an old Victorian looking house at the top of a hill. The house is yellow, and was built in 1922 if that helps. For those of you WITHOUT an imagination, just add color. Here's the house. It looks a little bit different now - this is just AFTER A whacked all the bushes off so that they weren't sitting on the house. This is the view of the house from the road. To the Left of this picture is a hill that slopes at approximately 50 degrees. To the right is the already existing pasture that the bovines have eaten down to the dirt.

It is the field to the LEFT of the house that we are going to discuss here. Remember that angle? It got steeper today when we had to roll 350 feet of field fencing UP it. The farther we rolled it, the steeper the hill got. Funny how that works... not only did the hill get steeper, the fencing got heavier. Especially when we had to move it around the fence posts because the fencing seemed to want to roll DIAGONALLY from where we wanted it to go. It was truly hard work.

I have a new appreciation for my husband. He is a finish carpenter, who not only does beautiful work, but he has a desire to continue to learn - if he doesn't know how to do something, he figures out a way to learn it. Take fencing - for example. Two years ago, we didn't have any fences on our property. We were the proud owners of two hogs (pigs are pets, hogs are food), and two bovines. (Or, as the children called them - DINNER.) Blessed with friends who had property, we weren't all that concerned about where to keep our animals, until we decided that we wanted to have them on our farm. So... long story short - A bought a video, watched it, and built a fence. He doesn't need the video now, he just builds fences.

I am amazed. He leaves the house in the morning, works hard at whatever he is working on for someone else, and then comes home and fixes things here in our home. And it's not easy things, either. Building a fence is NOT easy - no matter what they say, or how easy A makes it look. I am that much more grateful for the work that I have to do here at home. Cleaning the house is so much easier than rolling field fencing UP a hill.

I'll take my house anyday.

13 May 2010

Motherhood... A Seemingly Thankless Job.

A few weeks ago I spent an entire day griping to myself about how thankless my job as a Mother was. There I was, sitting there folding laundry, feeding children who never seemed to say thank you and instead spent the entire day fighting over who was touching whom, trying to make sure I had a hot dinner on the table for a hungry husband at the end of his work day, folding MORE laundry, putting it all away only to have someone TAKE SOMETHING OFF - leaving me with yet MORE laundry...

I complained in my head about the status of my house and how it seemed that I was the only one who EVER picked ANYTHING up. I continued to complain about the fact that I was awake half the night changing poop and doing dishes and folding still MORE laundry...

And the list went ON and ON and ON.

Just in the middle of my extreme complaining to myself, it suddenly hit me. NO ONE CARED. First - no one cared, because no one else was listening! (Talking in your head helps a little with that...) Even if they HAD been listening, no one would have cared because they weren't INVITED to my little PITY PARTY. (People don't bring gifts to those anyway - so why invite them?!) And then it happened.

I started to think to myself about all the things I would miss out on if I DIDN'T have children.

If I didn't have children, I wouldn't have those sticky hugs that only little people can give. I wouldn't realize the joys of teaching children how to clean up after themselves - and the thrill that occurs when they FINALLY figure out how to clean up ON THEIR OWN! I wouldn't have the sleepy "I Love You, Mommy" that comes in the middle of the night when I'm tucking them in for the 39th time. I began to realize the blessing that it is to ME to be a mother.

Now. Let it be said right here and right now that I have some VERY dear Friends (and some Siblings) who haven't YET experienced that joy. For them, it's a struggle. One that I will NEVER understand fully. My heart hurts when I think of the joys that they have yet to experience. Perhaps, it was for THEM that my selfish eyes were opened to the joys that I have. I think it may have been for THEM that my pity party was brought to an abrupt halt.

That being said, I have a story to share.

Almost a year ago, as A and I were contemplating TIMING for our next child, I found out that said CHILD wasn't WAITING for our timing. I was unsure of how to react, and probably reacted badly for one who loves children and doesn't mind being pregnant. Take PROBABLY out of it. I DID react badly. As I was going about my cleaning duties that the Portland Temple one night, griping about being pregnant when, "Gosh Darn it! I WAS ON THE PILL!" I had an epiphany. (That's code for "GOD YELLED AT ME") I heard - in my minds inner eye; the UNselfish part of me - "Don't You DARE be ungrateful for this child. She is coming to you for a reason - and YOU NEED HER." I went on to hear, "You have siblings who are unable to have children at this point and for reasons that you don't know. STOP being ungrateful for the GIFT you have been given."

You know, when you're YELLED at, you generally listen. It was humbling for me to have that experience. And it taught me a lesson in being grateful for ALL my children. I'm not perfect. I still spend more time that I should griping and complaining about what they're NOT doing, and not enough time being grateful for what they ARE doing. That being said, I am truly grateful for my children. I'm grateful when they don't argue and fight with each other. I love seeing them put their arms around each other and tell each other how much they mean to the other. I love watching L give baby C a kiss (it's absolutely the sweetest thing you've ever seen). Mostly, I love learning from them.

I guess Motherhood has its rewards after all.

12 May 2010

WHAT?!?! Was HE Thinking?!?!?

Do you ever wonder to yourself (because wondering out loud might cause a few funny looks...) "WHAT?! was the Lord THINKING?!?!?!?!?"

Happens to me all. the. time.

For example. I know that He knows me a LOT better than I know myself, because now I am the Mother of FOUR children, when last year I was just the Mother to three, and had no immediate plans of being mother for FOUR.

And sometimes I wonder if I'm borderline institutionalizable (is that even a word?!) because we're homeschooling. It's been rough. And by rough, I mean downright difficult. S has her own little ideas on what she thinks school is, and they're obviously NOT the same as mine. Next year we're going to sit down and go over what WEBSTERS thinks is the definition, and we'll see if the two are one and the same. And then we'll come up with our OWN definition, and we'll work from there. Next year we're going to have an actual SCHEDULE, if it kills me. And we'll stick to it - when I KNOW it's killing me. Spending all day with all of your children is supposed to be fun, isn't it?

Now I know why it's so important for a Mom to take a break from her duties and responsibilities as a parent and do something different once in a while. And I'm beginning to understand what leads some people to drink, and what leads others to abuse. It's the very avoidance of taking an actual break! I love ALL of my children. There are some who try my patience more than others. For those, I have learned to hold my breath a little longer and count a little higher. And then I put myself into time out before I lose my temper. Occasionally, I do lose my temper and yell. And then I tell the children that we don't yell in the house.

Over the past year, I have learned that not only does the Lord have a sense of humor (hence the four children), He also knows me intimately well. Just when I thought I couldn't do it (whatever "IT" was) he sent me a dear friend who is an example to me and, quite honestly, an answer to prayers. In my mind, she has the patience of Job (she might disagree with me), and the ability to help me see the trials in my life for what they really are - blessings.

So here I am, wondering - again - WHAT was HE thinking?!?

He is allowing me to grow in ways I never thought possible. When I look back at the challenges I've had throughout my life, I realize that each and every one was given to me so that I could have a learning experience. After all, HE can't do my learning for me. He gives me experiences, and what I chose to do with them determines Who and What I become.

So... this fall, I'll put on the black and white and be a Volleyball Ref. (Something I've secretly wanted to do almost my whole life.). We'll slaughter animals for the freezer. I'll take inventory of what fruits I've managed to freeze and harvest. I'll make jam. I'll make apple cider. I'll teach piano lessons. I'll continue to keep my house clean. Maybe I'll take a few more pictures (that's what I really want to do).

Really what I'll do is to count my many blessings. I'll name them. One, by one.

For now, I'll make more of an effort to write my thoughts down. Anyone have a few pennies? I've got a few thoughts to share. Immediately? I'm going to change my clothes. HIS sense of humor just manifested itself when Baby C decided that she didn't want to get my clothes dirty and barfed. RIGHT DOWN MY CLEAVAGE. And then, she smiled. I love her.