Sunday, May 30, 2010

Heroes Proved


O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.

Happy Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Summer Fever

We may have almost an entire month left of school, but it's beginning to feel a lot like summer around our house....


The fact that it was 95 degrees and humid today only played a small role in that feeling....

Maybe it's that the days are getting longer, the homework loads lighter, and our water bill is soaring!

"A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken."-- James Dent

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye...

After: 
  • 10-1/2 straight years, several of those being "in charge"...
  • At least 180 lessons prepared...
  • Over $25,000 saved in tuition fees...
  • Countless late-night trips to Michaels for that "one more thing"....
  • Gathering an arsenal of creative snack and craft ideas...
  • Developing wicked fast scissoring skills...
  • Knowing that my kids are being taught by righteous and creative mothers who share similar values to me....


  I taught my last preschool lesson today. 

 I didn't know if I'd be happy or sad when this day finally came and now that it's here I don't feel remarkably one way or the other.  In fact, I mostly just feel tired and like I need to go to bed. 

Yay!  Boo hoo!  Zzzzzz....

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Huh?

So last night I was sitting in the loo, wearing my bright orange pyjamas and eating a yoghurt that tasted like a little like liquorice all the whilst pondering over the proper spelling of the word "GRAY" (or is it "GREY"?).  Suddenly I realised that my programme was almost on.  I got to the tv and saw that instead of quick manoeuvres and mediaeval jewellery heists that there was a message on the screen written just to me.

  Of course, I was a bit of a sceptic that the note was a phoney, since I only wear my favourite cosy mauve coloured trousers on special occasions, like when I'm planning on being the centre of attention or eating breakfast or something.


I decided to do an enquiry into the matter and look for artefacts that may lead me to the true author of this cryptic telegramme.  I walked a mere metre towards the door and realised that whilst I was hypothesising a green automobile with grey upholstery had arrived at our kerb.  A mysterious hand dropped an encyclopaedia that weighed at least a tonne out of the tinted windows and right on the border of our neighbour's yard.

After hearing the tyres squeal around the corner I rushed outside with a tremour to discouver the meaning of this unusual behaviour.  Inside the weighty yet unglamourous volume of mouldy passages I found the following passage highlighted: 

Grey became the established British spelling in the 20th century... and it is but a minor variant in American English, according to dictionaries. Canadians tend to prefer grey....Both Grey and Gray are found in proper names everywhere in the English-speaking world. Americans tend to use "gray" in reference to the color and "grey" as the adjective.

In other words:  The gray matter of my brain was quickly falling into an ever greying pile of mush.  I blame it on me drowning my grey sorrows over my numerous gray hairs in a weekly sugar splurge that sent me greyly into the depths of nonsense and labourious attempts at grey humour.      

Or in simpler terms: 
Gray is a color
AND
Grey is a colour.  

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Vanity vs. Gray

It was a wintery day in 1989 and I was teasing my four inch bangs into a perfectly coiffed swoop.  I was having a hard time getting the height I needed since my hand kept getting stuck on the hair spray plastered brush.  

I pulled, I sprayed, I teased, I sprayed some more.

It was then that I noticed out of the corner of my eye, in a gunkless corner of my hair spray ladened bathroom mirror A GRAY HAIR.   

After marching around the house badgering every member in my family about whether they thought it was a blond hair or a gray hair,  I decided to heck with it and just pulled it out by the root.

I know. I know.  You're not supposed to do that.  But, hey, I was 16 at the time and not exactly in the know on these type of old lady ailments. 

While I had hoped that the single gray hair was just a freak anomaly, it wasn't long before dozens of gray hairs popped up all over and I realized that I had most decidedly inherited the Hepworth Early Graying Gene (H.E.G.G.). 

Now most women with the H.E.G.G. would just start dyeing their hair, right?  Yep, but I'm not most women.   

My parents were good, kind people who taught me well.  We learned the gospel together, we talked politics together, and they instilled in us a strong work ethic.  But they also taught me that dyeing your hair is 1) vain, 2) expensive, and 3) pointless.

Being the obedient, people pleasing (and somewhat cheapskate) daughter that I am,  my hair stayed au naturel for many years because of these teachings. 

Finally three years ago, in a fit of rebellion after my kids started to even mention how gray my hair was getting, I vainly went to a hairdresser, spent a fortune, and did something completely pointless....I smothered all my grays with warm shade of medium brown. 

And loved it.

People started commenting how much younger I looked.  I loved looking in the mirror and seeing my thick dark hair once again and it made me feel more confident. 

Three years and gallons of hair dye later (mostly self-applied), I have to say I'm getting kind of used to this whole vanity thing. 


PS#1-- Love you mom and dad! 

PS#2--I'm just curious, do any of you have gray hairs too?  I feel like I'm definitely on the young end of spectrum for as much gray as I have.  Do you keep them covered (or will you when the time comes)? 

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Fall of My Domestic Goddesshood


The lowest grade I ever got in my entire life wasn't in Physical Science or American Heritage, but rather in a Sewing 101 class at BYU.  I had signed up for the class thinking it was going to be an easy "A", but instead it ended up being a GPA killing "C-" that I had to work my tail off for.

Lest you think I had a cruel teacher that was on a mission to make sure that there were no free "A"s coming from her class, I am ashamed to admit that every single one of my friends who took the class with me got the easy "A" they were looking for.  My crooked seamed outfit proved to be a GPA killer and the maker of a domestic dud named Lara.   I happen to know for a fact that the reason why I'm such a poor interior decorator today stems directly from my crushed confidence post-Sewing 101.  

Fast forward five years from that disastrous foray into domesticity when I'd just given birth to Cami Rose.  My second child.  My first baby girl.

Something about the introduction of pink and frills into our home gave me the inexplicable urge to try my hand at sewing once again.  Not surprisingly my stitching skills hadn't improved much in the ensuing years and it took me weeks and weeks of sewing, seam ripping, and sewing some more before I finished my first project.   The buttons were uneven and the hem puckered, but how Cami (and later Emma and Ellie) loved having a dress that matched with her baby. 

Over the years I've bumbled my way through a few more projects, mostly having to do with dresses with matching doll clothes...
But now it's been a few years since I've sewn at all and my younger kids don't even remember what my sewing machine looked like. 

So imagine my surprise on Sunday morning when Emma, my 9-year-old daughter, randomly decided she was going to make a new dress for Ellie to wear to church that afternoon.

She set down a dress onto a folded piece of fabric, traced around it with a marker, and started cutting...


Then got a needle and thread and started stitching...


After about an hour of meticulous stitching the dress was complete....


And ready for Ellie (with the lovely fake smile) to wear to church...

Ellie was thrilled with her one-of-a-kind marker stained, raw edged fashion statement and loved telling everyone how her big sister had made it for her....
Now if I could just figure out how to get some of that developing domesticity to rub off on me.




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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Blog Books: Up Close and Personal

Ever since I started this blog in April 2007, people have been asking me when I'm going to print my blog posts into a book.   I knew that eventually I'd like to do it, especially since it took me approximately 3 days of blogging before it completely replaced my time spent scrapbooking.  Unfortunately, by the time I started researching the prospect seriously I had over 600 posts. 

The main company I kept hearing about was Blurb.  So sometime last year I downloaded their software and got to work creating my books.  It didn't take long before I realized I had a very big problem.  When uploading my pictures to the internet I always significantly reduced the size to make them easier to load.  Although they looked fine online, not a single one of them was good enough quality to print.  Suddenly I was faced with the overwhelmingly monumental task of hand replacing every single one of my photos with the higher quality version from my computer.  In other words, I was going to get it done in about 57 years.  

I dabbled with it here and there and tried to make headway on it, but  it wasn't going anywhere fast.  Now fast forward to 2010 and  I have over 1000 posts and still no book.  Then I heard from my friend Andrea about Blog2Print.  At first I thought it would be another big waste of time, but when she mentioned it only took her about 20 minutes to complete her book I was completely intrigued.  20 minute projects are just about perfect for my attention span! 

I got off to a rocky start getting my blog downloaded and had to call the company (where a real person answered the first time), but after a 5-minute phone call my blog was downloaded and I was ready to make my books.   

The hardest part about the whole process was making a few decisions (outlined below), but shockingly it really did only take about 20 minutes.  

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 Here's a glimpse of our first two books along with some of the choices you'll have when you order:

There were several unique cover styles to choose from, so I just picked a different one for each book.   

Soft covers were slightly cheaper, but we viewed these as a family history type of investment so we chose the hard covers.   The binding and page quality are both excellent. 
 
 The pictures are a little on the small side, but I was so thrilled not to have to replace them all with higher quality pictures that I couldn't care less!  


 Because of the way I blog using pictures, I wanted the entries to be laid out as they were on the blog.  My friend Andrea chose the scrapbook style layout which grouped the pictures and words in a more space saving manner, but I did not feel that that style would have worked well with most of my posts. 


Although they added numerous pages onto the length of our books, we really wanted the comments to be a part of the books.  We felt that they added a lot of personality to each post and that it wouldn't have captured the essence of our blog as well without them. 

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In summary, we are thrilled with our new family yearbooks and would highly recommend them to anyone! 

In case you're shopping around, here's what I deem to be the pros and cons of working with Blog2Print over working with Blurb (although I have to disclose I never actually ordered a Blurb book, since I could never get past the planning stages). 

Pros of Blog2Print
  • Super quick and easy to put together (totally finished a book with a whole year of posts in 20-30 minutes)
  • Good quality books
  • Didn't have to switch all my photos out for higher quality versions
  • Choice to include comments or not
  • Choice to leave out individual posts
  • The choice to make your posts as short as possible (scrapbook style) or to keep them as they're written (in relation to the placement of the photos)
  • Excellent customer service (via phone or live chat)


Cons of Blog2Print vs Blurb
  •  No ability to tweak individual posts (like changing out the picture or correcting a typo)
  • The layout on every page is the same (however you've determined you want it)
  • Cost (I actually don't really know how this compares to Blurb, since I never ordered from them, but I did feel like my books were a little pricey ~400 pages for ~$110 or so and I couldn't find an online coupon anywhere.  Really, though, it was WELL worth the price just for the time I saved!)
  • Photos rather small


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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Matters of Sweetness

A few months ago she made several dozen cookies for her history class....
Then it was homemade Valentine's cupcakes for her entire science class....


Last week she made 80+ homemade cinnamon rolls to share with her field trip bus....

Two days ago it was 3 dozen cookies for a YW/RS  activity....


Tonight she's making 30+ homemade eclairs for French class....




So, now I have a couple of important questions: 

#1 How does she stay so skinny?
#2  Is it any wonder she's so sweet with all that sugar flowing around her?
#3 Anyone know of a good hiding place for the eclair I swiped to save for Sunday?  A couple of kids are getting adept at finding my hiding places...


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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Virginia in the Spring

 Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall.  DC is one of those great places where there are four distinct seasons, each one beautiful and welcomed.   

After a winter like we had this past year, this spring in particular was a breath of fresh air. 

These azalea bushes are one of the my very favorite parts about spring.  The previous owners of our house had planted several azaleas throughout our yard and then placed it on the market right at the peak of their blossoms.  It sure sucked us right in!  


While I would never be so bold as to plant a flower bed this large (I could never keep up with the weeding), I do hope to get our flower beds planted in the next couple of weeks!

I love the sweet honeysuckle of spring too.  Our neighborhood seems to be filled with them and I keep thinking I need to plant some in our yard. 


And lest anyone think that it's all sweet smelling flowers around here, meet  "R.O.S.S." 
(aka Rancid Odiferous Stinky Shoes)  It took us a few days to figure out where the horrid smell was emanating from, but when we did we knew we had to take quick action...


We thought about  hanging them near our front door and using them as a burglar deterrent, but we were worried about the burglars suing us for nostril damage.   Then we thought about burying them in our garden as a pest repellent, but we worried about forever poisoning the soil.

In the end we put them right where they belonged....



So there you have it, another topic off my 30 Things to Blog About list (#5) and I finally get the word "sex" off the top of my blog!!! 

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Definition of a Good Day--Through the Ages

5-year-old girl--losing your first tooth and getting loot from the tooth fairy for the first time

7-year-old boy--going to a Caps game with Dad and getting a new hat to wear around


9-year-old girl--having your baby cousin come to visit and chant, "Emma Emma Emma" through the evening

12-year-old girl--chilling with friends


15-year-old boy--scoring three goals in your high school lacrosse game.  Go Jags!


37-year-old mom--getting to laze around all morning in my pajamas, eat a fancy breakfast, get a day off of nursery to go to Sunday School and Relief Society, and have time to do a little photoshopping so I don't scare all of my faithful blog readers away with my scary morning face!

.....and finding a fun new quote to make me laugh:    
"What would men be without women? Scarce, sir, mighty scarce." Mark Twain

Thank you to Glen, AnnaLisa, and the kids who made me feel so loved today!


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Lessons From My Mother

"...I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them."  Alma 57:21

Lessons I've learned from my mother:
1.  Prayer works.
2.  TV is bad, books are good.
3.  You don't need fancy equipment to exercise.
4.  If you're a liberal, you probably need to see a neurosurgeon. (don't worry liberal friends, I told my mom you're a moderate)
5.  Simple is better.
6.  Avoid the appearance of evil. 
7.  Coffee cakes and coffee tables don't really exist, they're actually called breakfast cakes and tv tables.
8.  People who wear high heels are people who enjoy inflicting pain upon themselves.
9.  FHE is well worth the sacrifice and effort.
10. Our leaders are called by God.
11.  Navy blue is the new black.
12.  Freckles are something to be proud of.
13.  America is a blessed land.
14.  Beauty comes from within.
15.  You need to vary the hiding places of goodies and gifts frequently.  A whole year of Little Debbies for breakfast taught me that trick.
16.  Embarrassing topics should be avoided at all costs, but if one has to refer to it, then code names make it less embarrassing. (An arb is much less blush worthy than a bra.)
17.  One pair of tennis shoes and one pair of Sunday shoes is all the footwear you need.
18.  Slow down.  Take time to smell the coffee....er, I mean roses. 
19. List making is for wimps who can't remember what they're doing.

...And the list could have gone on and on.  Thank you mom!!!  I love you!

 
I also want to express my heartfelt gratitude to my awesome mother-in-law and grandmothers (all pictured above, except for Glen's Grandma Frances). 

Happy Mother's Day! 
We love you! 

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Salary Petition

Have you ever seen the study someone did that tried to give a monetary value to the work a mother does?

They figure out the average number of hours a mother performs certain  jobs, like housekeeper, day care center teacher, cook, computer operator, laundry machine operator, nurse, janitor, facilities manager, van driver, accountant, and psychologist, and figures out a salary for them.  According to this study, the current monetary value of a stay-at-home mother is something like $134,121.

I noticed though that they left off a very important job---event planner.  Every day a mother needs to figure out who needs to be where and at what time, and where is dinner going to fit in all that, and what about those wholesome recreational activities we're supposed to be engaging in?   Who's supposed to take care of planning those?

So, I've researched the average salary of an event planner and am petitioning that we should add another $40,000 or so to that stay-at-home mom's worth.

Now if I could just figure out why I haven't been getting my paycheck...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Keeping it Real

I've been worried that my last few posts have come off as bragging or even a little preachy, neither of which I am qualified to do.  So today I'm sharing a reality check.  While I do wholly embrace the philosophies that I shared, I still have a long, long, long, long way to go!

For instance: 

My peeps rarely wear matching socks, if they wear socks at all. 

I haven't seen the floor in Spencer's closet since 2001, a couple weeks after we moved into this house.

Household projects take us approximately 3 years of talking about it, 2 years of planning, then another 19-52 months before they're completed.  I figure we're about half way through the last stage of that process with our basement. 

I prepare my Sunday lessons on Sunday mornings.

I get really annoyed at people who flake out on me, but when I flake out on them there's always a perfectly good excuse that makes me less of a flake than them.

Past the age of 3, I do not deal with temper tantrums very well at all.  99% of me yelling has something to do with someone old enough to know better throwing a fit.

I'm 37 years old and I still like to get my mom's goat by telling her that I'm starting to embrace some liberal political philosophy.

I occasionally mutter dammit  doggoneit under my breath and think it's wildly funny to use it on posts  on my sister's Facebook page just to see her reaction. 

I  envy anyone who:  A) is skinny  B) is naturally witty  C) a good housekeeper  D)  a good singer
97% of my friends are all four.

I get jokes about 3 minutes after everyone's done laughing.

I blog more than I exercise (and it shows). 

I say stupid and embarrassing things every day of my life.   I like to think of it as one of my unbury-able God-given talents.  (my humble apologies to all of you benefactors of that talent)

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