Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Acing the Algorithms

Here's a quick glimpse of what's been occupying Adam's spare time lately...

After working on it for the last few weeks, he can now consistently solve the Rubik's cube from any position in about a minute, sometimes well under.    In other words, he's aced the algorithms and is now working on perfecting  his speed even further!

He also bought himself a few other puzzle cubes (some of them not very cube-y) and is working on solving those as well.   So far he's aced the 2x2, 3x3, and the silver crazy cube.

Adam's also been teaching Glen a few of his tricks and  Glen can now solve a cube, although not near as speedily as Adam, for the first time in his life.

Way to go Adam!  


Friday, November 20, 2015

Missing in Action

In the 100-hours since I've been home from my trip to San Diego,  I've slept through the alarm once,  forgotten to give Ellie her medicine twice, eaten my weight in chocolate, missed paying an important bill, forgotten a commitment, didn't enforce the kids' music practice at all, and for the first 24-hours thought all the toiletries had been stolen out of my bag until I found them all right underneath my bag the next day.

In other words....my brain is officially missing in action.  

I think I used it a couple times in San Diego while trying to figure out the music settings on my phone.    And maybe a little at Trader Joes when I pondered whether to get peppermint or chocolate covered JoeJoes and ended up buying both.     But other than that, I haven't seen it at all.  

In the meantime, my brainless state has proven to be a bit of a liability for me.    A couple of days ago, I eagerly tried to take advantage of a great earlybird discount for ordering our Christmas cards.   I designed what I thought was a very hilarious Hobbit themed Christmas card, but was a bit disheartened when I promptly got shot down by all my proof-readers because the card was  too nativity-ish and trashy at the same time.  Think about that for a minute.   Yep, they used nativity and trashy in the same sentence, which meant that I promptly ordered a million of them on the spot.  

Then yesterday, after thinking briefly that I might have regained the use of my cognitive abilities again,  I decided to help my mom out in her quest to collect the rest of the Christmas wish lists from my siblings.     I thought myself extremely clever and informed my entire extended family that my mom was buying them all puppies unless they sent her their list  pronto.     Unfortunately, my clever plot was quickly foiled when on the spot one of my brothers gladly rescinded his Christmas list and is now expecting  a cute little puppy in his stocking.  Sorry, Mom.

Then tonight I was writing this blogpost, and  I thought to myself, "Lara, (because I always refer to myself in third-person in my thoughts) Why not embrace your newfound empty-headedness and start writing poetry?"  

Hmmmm, why not indeed?      

See my first masterpiece:

My name used to be Lara Crain, 
but now it is Lara No-Brain. 
I love to sleep 
and hope my kids don't make a peep,
because if there's nothing in my head, 
I may as well be in bed.  

Good night! 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

San Diego!

My younger sister, Kristina,  turns 40 this week....

so my sister, Heather and I flew out to California this past weekend to help her celebrate! 

We spent the weekend in a beach house in San Diego...

and had a great time hanging out in the sand and the sunshine together! 

We got pedicures, massages, went on long walks, went shopping, hung out at the beach, ate good food, played games,  and in general had a fun and relaxing weekend.   

A few more of her friends also  joined in the celebrations and we laughed to realize that together we'd left a total of 48 children at home with their daddies to be there that weekend.    
(I'm the one on the far left in the picture below)

Except for the crazy windstorm on Sunday night, we had perfect weather the entire weekend...
(I'm fourth from left in this picture)

 I missed being with my family, but loved the time  away and the opportunity to soak in the beauty of my surroundings...   

the beauty of the area, the beauty of spending time with my sisters, and the beauty of friendships anew.


Congrats to Madeleine, the AML fighting wonder girl (she's on her third go-around fighting against this horrible disease), who was the only one to correctly guess my location!    I haven't figured out your prize yet, but stay tuned for something! 


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Where Am I?

Where in the world am I right now?

I am in the state of my birth. 
I'm in one of my top 3 favorite cities in the US. 
There's been lots of sunshine and sand (plus a much needed rainstorm that I apparently brought with me from home).
I can hear the ocean waves from my window at night.
I'm at 32.7ยบ N latitude. 

Stay tuned for the answer  (and some photos) coming soon!

Friday, November 13, 2015

7 Surefire Conversation Killers

Ever stuck in a long conversation and just want to get out?
 Here are four surefire conversation killers I've perfected for you...guaranteed to work every time!  

1. Mention that you have five kids. 
This one doesn't work quite as well on fellow Mormons, but for the average gentile it works quite nicely.   They might politely ask how old the kids are and start rattling off all the reasons why they could never have a big family, but soon thereafter the conversation will fizzle like a dying sparkler dunked in a bucket of water. 

2.  Mention that you homeschool your kids.    
 Instant judgment!   I've been shocked at what an instant  conversation killer it is to mention homeschooling.  "I could never do that," is usually followed by a very ignorant comment about the lack of social lives my kids must have (or the slightly less offensive mention that their kids are too social to ever be homeschooled).   As if my kids are perfectly compliant anti-social beings!  NOT!   For the record, my kids are way more social now than when they were in school and had so little time to do anything other than sleep, eat, go to school, and do their stinking homework.  

3. Mention that your kid had cancer.  Or that one of them has epilepsy.   
There are a few people that have a curiosity about those types of things and will ask lots of questions (which I like answering), but for most people all conversation will magically cease shortly thereafter. Sometimes I tell myself that I should ban health-of-my-kids topics from conversations with most people, but it's a huge part of my life and I struggle trying to hide it away.  

4. Be naturally a little on the awkward side.
IN other words, conversations were  already challenging for me before I had reasons #1, 2, and 3 in my life, and now I've got all four.  

So basically that means that I can comfortably carry on a conversation  about a) today's weather b) your cute socks c) tomorrow's weather.

And that's about it.  


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Narrowly Avoiding Death by Boredom

   I've always liked weekends, but now that I'm a homeschooling mom...I love the weekends.  I love sleeping in a little, I love being off academic duty, and I love the change of scenery as the weekday routines fly out the window on the weekends.   This past weekend was a very average weekend, so, since my main purpose of this blog is to find a sure cure for insomnia, I,  of course,  am blogging about it in every excruciating detail.    I will do a minute by minute recap from 7:00am-10:00pm  each day and then do  a summary of each of our dreams. 

Or maybe not.     

I don't want to be accused of causing anyone to die of boredom, so, by super popular demand, instead I will just post the highlights of our very average weekend, which should be just boring enough to induce slumber, but not quite boring enough to induce death.    A good balance, I think.  

Ellie and Adam played in their last soccer games of the season on Saturday!    Ellie and Adam were  clearly  one of the least experienced players on their respective teams, but they both improved a lot during the season and had fun, so it was definitely a successful season as far as we're concerned!   Adam's coach was fantastic and other than the time Ellie's coach yelled at her team for "sucking" and made half the girls cry, he was actually a pretty good coach too. 

Emma made another wedding cake!   Cami made one before she left for college and word got out, so  Emma's gotten two more orders since she's left.   The orderers  use this as their cake to cut into.  

 We lost our leftover Sunday dinner (fajitas and homemade guacamole) in an unfortunate and very messy crash...  

 I've been trying to stay in my church clothes on Sundays, but this Sunday we went on a walk and I got cold, so I put on my exercise leggings as an extra layer.   I walked all over the neighborhood (3-1/2 miles) looking like this and immediately got called by 3 fashion agencies all wanting me to be their next designer. ↓↓↓

I got bold and ordered five boxes of apples this year.  The plan was to eat lots of them fresh, make delicious apple treats, and dehydrate the rest.   It's been a few weeks now and I'm two boxes down, three to go and I'm getting nervous.

I deactivated my Facebook account...again.   I had been keeping it at arm's length for the last few months, letting Glen be the keeper of my password and not getting on often, but the latest Facebook "strife" was causing me stress and I decided that I needed another break from it.   


Monday, November 9, 2015

Where We've Been

We could count on going on at least one road trip every summer of my childhood.    The trips mostly consisted of  treks from our home in Minnesota to the grandparents' homes in Wyoming and Oklahoma, but often my dad would alter the route just so we could visit more states.   Notice I didn't say, "see something cool or new,"  I said, "visit more states," which to my dad was more important than what we actually saw while we were there in a new state.   Usually touring a city meant a drive by of important sites and occasionally a visit to something that had free admission.  We usually camped along the way or crammed all 10 of us into one cheap motel room.    By the time I left home, I had been to every state in the continental US and  even with the drive-by touring,  I truly have been to a lot of cool places in my life.   

Now that we have our own family and airplane tickets are too pricey to stomach for our entire family, we have turned into summer road trippers too!    We usually go a little slower and stay in one place a little longer than we did growing up, but we have driven on every summer vacation for more than a decade now....even to Utah and California!  

For the sake of future trip planning purposes, below you will find our states visited maps:  

My map (missing Alaska):
I've had Alaska as my lone state left to visit for over 20-years and still I haven't been able to convince Glen to take me there! 
49 states

Create Your Own Visited States Map

 Cami and Emma's map (missing Alaska, Hawaii, and the deep South):
42 states

Create Your Own Visited States Map

 Adam and Ellie's map (missing Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, and the deep South):
40 states

Create Your Own Visited States Map

 Glen's and Spencer's map (missing Alaska and deepest of the deep South):
46 states

Create Your Own Visited States Map


Now we just need to plan a trip to the deep south!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Thoughts on a Foggy Morning

The air was unseasonably warm and humid for a November morning and the autumn colors seemed muted and gray in the morning fog.  

 The patchy fog was so thick, it was easy to imagine that I was walking amongst the clouds, weightless and without a care in the world.  Only the solid ground beneath my feet brought me back to a sense of my reality.   A reality that is anything but weightless, ever moving, ever full of lists of things that have to be done.      

It was through that ethereal dream-like atmosphere that I walked along, where I was continually met with a sense of wonder and delight as  dark forms cloaked in a hundred shades of gray... 

sprang to life as I drew nearer.  

 Vibrant colors emerging from their wispy cloaks...

and reminded me that life is beautiful and solid ground isn't such a bad place to be.  


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

This Past Week....

Once upon a time there was a very boring family who lived very boring lives with a mom who decided that she didn't want to forget any of the boringness whatsoever.   

...so she started a blog.  

She blogged about nothing constantly and made up stories when the nothingness got to be even too much for her.    

Here's episode #1956  of total boringness:     

On Wednesday this past week the big boys went to the Caps' game and sat in box seats for Glen's company!  They wore matching signed jerseys, because, heck, when you have them handed to you when you're in the hospital....why not go matchy matchy with your dad?! 

Also, last Wednesday the kids' piano teacher was sick, so we took a walk instead.  It was rainy, but still, oh so beautiful!   I love autumn and I love how these pictures turned out!  

Ellie picked our "ponderizing" scripture this past week and Emma illustrated it for us!    This "ponderizing" (studying one scripture in depth for a week) has actually been a pretty powerful experience for us.   We usually read the scriptures a chapter or two at a time, and may spend some time discussing each chapter, but looking at one scripture day-after-day has proved to be very meaningful.  We've had some great discussions and I feel like we're already getting to know the scriptures even better! 

On Friday we did this.

Then on Saturday, in between their soccer games, Emma's voice rep class, and other activities, the kids did a presentation on red worm composting at a local Farmer's Market.   They dressed in worm costumes, did a skit, and answered people's questions about composting.  It's part of the community outreach they're doing for their FLL team.

Later on Saturday we took Emma out for a special birthday dinner.  True Food Kitchen is about the only restaurant where the food actually meets Emma's very high standards for what she'll eat.

Sunday was the first "normal" Sunday we'd had in weeks and I so thrived on having some time to get some things done.   Adam found 15 names to take to the temple using a new website we discovered called puzzilla.org.    Monday was a hellish day that involved a gazillion things to do and a  huge power struggle.    The way our schedule is this year, I pretty much detest Mondays  and would love nothing more than to sleep straight through them all.

Tuesday we went on a field trip to the National History of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, MD and thoroughly grossed out Ellie.  I also voted, dehydrated some apples, started organizing a cupboard, and went to tithing settlement without Glen, since he had to work late.

So, that's it.  That's a glimpse at our very boring lives.

It's a very boring life, that I love, with people I love more than words can express.

And I love to remember it all.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween and a Birthday 2015

Our Halloween festivities started early, early on Friday morning the 30th.    Emma intentionally chose the date nearest her birthday and had signed up to bring breakfast to her seminary class that morning.   Her class has 35-students in it, so it had to be simple enough for a crowd, but special enough to match up to Emma's standards.    She did a lot of research beforehand and this is what she came up with...

We were up in the 4:00am hour to get everything ready to go.   The banana ghosts were a bit of a dud, but the pumpkin cinnamon rolls with caramel frosting, and clementine pumpkins were definitely a hit!    

After all that, Emma went to her LEMI class and we spent the rest of the morning baking pies and decorating pumpkins.  

Then we ran off to our Friday co-op and promptly came home and made our chili...

which pretty much completed the disaster zone that had previously been my kitchen.

We ignored it though and then the kids got into their costumes....

A Southern Belle, Santa Claus, and Autumn
Then we went to our ward's fall festival where Autumn met up with Summer, Spring, and Winter...

My raspberry cream pie won second place and the kids' pumpkins were the only pumpkins on display, since we didn't get the memo that they weren't doing the jack-o-lantern contest this year.

They were both pretty awesome, though, if I do say so myself....

Afterward, they did their traditional candy trading...
And since Halloween day this year fell on a Saturday, that day mostly ended up being a crazy blur of activities that had us running all over creation to get the kids where they needed to go.   When things finally settled down, Adam and Emma parted ways to spend the evening with friends, and Ellie, mommy, and daddy hung out at the mall and got treats and did some birthday shopping for Emma.   It was a fun day that did NOT include handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, nor did it include the kids procuring much extra candy that day.  

Then on Sunday I made Emma her birthday dinner, which included quinoa burgers and smoothies.    Emma had made "healthy" homemade candy for us as her birthday treat, since she doesn't do sugar or flour at all.   

And thus concludes the awesomeness of Halloween 2015.  


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Birthday, E.M.M.A.!

In honor of Emma's 15th birth-o-ween today, here's a little acrostic poem I wrote about her....
Excellent at making good use of her time; working hard to challenge and improve herself
Masterful cook that has a knack for finding just the right combination of flavors
Million dollar smile that puts others at ease
A talented and hard-working musician

Happy Birthday, Emma!  We love you! 
Happy Halloween to the rest of you!   

Friday, October 30, 2015

We have a volunteer...

In addition to this volunteer tomato plant that randomly started growing right next to our front door...

I've got a few other volunteers that really want to be on the blog! 

Including this bevy of beautiful maidens...

A little turtle that crossed our path...

And Glen's cache of his favorite lip balm.   

Um....don't ask. 

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