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Thursday, September 11, 2014

An Escape

Lately I've been really into movies based on books written in 18th and 19th century England. Ok that's way too broad, let's be specific. Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. Even more specifically:

-Pride and Prejudice (think Colin Firth).
-Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow you Make this movie! And Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightley, even though I had to look up your name, you make the movie too).
-Sense and Sensibility. (Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, and the one and only Hugh Laurie aka Dr. House!? Whaaaaat?? You make such a great indifferent, annoyed, yet good hearted gentleman husband. Great cast).
-Jane Eyre. (Oh, Love).
-Pride and Prejudice again (a different one)(think Keira Knightley)(and Matthew Macfadyen, as Keira described you in an interview I saw, you really are irresistable).
-Mansfield Park.
-And Jane Eyre a second time. (I get sucked into this story and its dark and haunting undertones.)

Does that list make you want to go watch them all right now? Cause that's what it does to me. And then I'll want to go re-read the book so as not to miss one detail or nuance of the story. Which will then make me want to watch the movie to get the full experience. Sights, sounds, words, total immersion. It's a cycle.

Seriously. I cannot get enough. I love being swept up into this world and time long passed. I feel like Kathleen Kelly in the movie You've Got Mail,

"Confession. I have read Pride and Prejudice two hundred times. I get lost in the language, words like 'Thither, Mischance, Felicity.' I'm always in agony whether Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are going to get together."


I do, I get lost in that elegant language they used. Such fancy words and phrases, so intelligent and eloquent sounding. I have always adored the dresses, hats, gloves and finery the women used to wear. The men too! The gentlemen of these novels and films dressed so well in their coats, cravats, high waisted pants and riding boots. I love the propriety, fine manners and etiquette displayed by everyone. I love the social aspect of these stories - balls and dancing (Oh how I've wished to have a dancing culture like they did, where we all knew the same dance steps and songs, such fun it looks), house calls and visits, grand dinners, happy outings, rides in horse drawn carriages and horseback riding, etc.

I think another appeal for me is the perceived neatness of their lives. Of course all the characters in these stories have their heartaches and heartbreaks and trials of life. But these stories all have a plan for their characters. We know things end well and so endure with pleasure any bumps in the story and then enjoy even more the resolution at the end. It's all neat and planned, everything has a purpose and structure. And these old English people are so prim and proper, neat and trim, put together and organized. There are specific roles and duties and responsibilities for everyone. Jane Eyre is a governess - she is fully in charge of the education of young Adele. The housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax has her duties, keeping up the great Thornfield Hall. Mr. Darcy is the owner of a great estate, doing business of upkeep and seeking out gentlemanly sport and pleasures. Elizabeth is a gentleman's daughter, she refines her accomplishments and finds pleasure socializing with friends and acquaintances.

It all seems so boxed up and tidy in these stories.

Maybe that's why I like them so much.

If their lives are wrapped in paper and neatly tied with a satin bow, mine is all strewn about the living room, kitchen, and laundry room in the shape of children's toys, dirty dishes, unwanted bits of food tossed out the highchair and littering the floor, laundry to be washed, laundry to be folded, beds to be made and on. And on. And on. Compared to theirs mine is like the aftermath of a hurricane.

I think my life would fill the roles of about 5 Jane Austen characters. A nanny, a cook, a housekeeper, a governess, and of course the great lady of the house. Just thinking about it exhausts me. Yet I live it every day. Not sure how I do it all - - - I don't do it all, really. That's why I get complaints from the husband when he has to dig through clean laundry that's been sitting in the basket for a week waiting to be folded.

And that's why I love escaping into these great stories. Sometimes I feel guilty thinking about all the tasks I could be completing instead of sitting down and watching a movie. Maybe tomorrow I'll try harder to check another thing or two of my list.

I should probably start by writing a list first. I'm sure that would get me a step further away from hurricane zone.

...

Regardless, here's to Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte (my current authors of choice) for their timeless genius in creating worlds that women can enjoy escaping to for relief and refreshment, and of course a little romance.


Totally had this piano book growing up. 
Loved it.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Glimpses

Glimpses of the joy of Motherhood come to me now and then.

I'm sure (I hope) other moms can agree that although we'd rather be doing Nothing else, sometimes our career choice of motherhood drives us absolutely crazy, gives us incredible levels of stress, frustration, even anger, and decreases our level of patience by, oh, maybe a trillion?

At times I feel bad complaining about it because all I do is stay home all day, right? Piece of cake. I have like 12 hours to clean my house, do the dishes, fold the laundry, keep my children fed and happy, etc. etc. But as this blog post on The Huffigton Post articulates so well, motherhood consists of a million other tiny details and tasks and needs that have to be completed and met that it makes those tasks we expect ourselves to complete, and imagine other people expect us to complete, difficult to accomplish.

I say all this really to make just one point - that being a mom is really hard! And incredibly busy. And because it's so hard and constant, sometimes I forget to think about, or don't notice, those glimpses of beauty and joy that being a mom to my sweet, beautiful children brings to me.

I want to document some of those glimpses that I've noticed most recently.

1. A couple mornings ago, per the usual routine, I brought Jane into my bed to feed her while I kept sleeping for a few more minutes. After she finished she moved around a little, finding her comfy spot, while we both dozed in the softly lit hours of the early morning. Eventually she nestled in so close to me that her little head slid right into my neck, fitting perfectly between my jaw and shoulder. I thought to myself that maybe on another morning this comfy spot of hers would interfere too much with my attempts at sleeping longer and I would move her over, getting her out of my space. I could see myself noticing how uncomfortable it was to have a head weighing down on my throat and breathing and swallowing mechanisms, getting me all clammy with her baby sweat. But on this particular morning I relished her warm, snuggly, sleepy body resting next to mine. I felt that little head jammed into my neck with my whole soul and felt so much love for that little head that I never wanted her to wake up. I wished she would stay that way, lying next to me, fitting in my arms like that forever.

This doesn't happen every morning. Most mornings I slide her softly, quietly, careful not to wake her up, to the other side of the bed so I can keep sleeping alone and undisturbed on my side of the bed. But that morning I had a glimpse of the beautiful thing it was to have a warm baby sleeping in my arms nestled against my neck.

2. Last night we were at Great Grandma ValGene Ogles' house for her 83rd birthday party. What an incredible woman she is. I feel so privileged to see her often and bask in her love, warmth, generosity, intelligence, faith and goodness. She inspires me.

On the way home Alice serenaded Max and I from the backseat. That's when you have to catch her singing, when she's "in the backseat", alone in her own world, thinking nobody is listening. This time it was "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". The melody was a little off, the words were a little made up in some places, but I never heard a more sweetly sung song. I wished she would sing forever.

3. Today Alice said the cleverest thing to me. I reminded myself to listen more closely to what she says, because a lot of times it is cute enough to bring a smile to my face.

She was in her room with a friend playing Joy School (pre-school). Alice was the teacher and I could here her saying things like, "Today we're gonna learn about the letter "A" ", and "First we're gonna sing some songs."

After a minute she called out to me, "Mom!! In my room it's Wednesday!!" (most things she says come with exclamation points at the end) ... ... "In the living room it's Friday and in my room it's Wednesday!!"

"Oh! Okay, Great!" I called back to her.

You see, this is very clever of her because for the past 9 months every Wednesday morning we've had Joy School. She knew today was actually Friday, but in her room it had to be Wednesday because they were playing Joy School and Joy School is only on Wednesdays!

Two more funny things she's said to me just today:

As I was putting her down for her nap she said to me, "Where are we going after my nap?" (She's always hopeful something exciting will happen after the dreaded nap).
"A wedding reception," I said to her.
"OH!!!" She exclaimed, delightedly. I'm sure she was daydreaming about the beautiful princess she knew she would see at the wedding reception that night.

As soon as she woke up, the first thing she said to me, that is after yelling out of her room to me, "Moooooommmm!!! Can I come out!!!??"was:

"Mom, wedding receptions say I have to wear a dress!"
Clearly, the beautiful princess she would be seeing was still forefront on her mind.

And lastly,

"Whad you wanna do, Mama?"
I'm her buddy. She likes to do things with me. I  hope I can give her the attention and love she needs so she will never stop wanting to do stuff with me

Glimpses come to me when I truly listen to what my little girl is saying rather than distractedly replying with a "yeah", Great!" or "Okay" as my mind races ahead and all over the house thinking about the tasks I'm trying to complete while she follows scampering behind.

I'm trying to be a better mom. It's such a daunting task. There's so many many ways to mess up. I'm hoping I can pay better attention to these glimpses and keep myself focused on the beauty of it rather than the mistakes and shortcomings I may have made, and will probably make.

Here are some other glimpses I've had.


Jane's birth

Family Movie Night - "Despicable Me"

Just eating some lunch - watching Baby Einstein

Alice's birth - premature, Very unexpected. Instant Love. 
(But actually "love" doesn't even begin to describe it; more like Instant obsession, devotion, enchantment. Instantly you have my whole heart and soul, Instantly I will do anything, Anything for you without even thinking. More like that.)

Alice getting a sister to love.

Finally taking our premie home from the hospital

A summer evening walk

This little face

Alice playing in sand and soot.

An infant needing me.
 For food, for sleep, for comfort, for baths, clothes, binkies, snuggles.


Easter, 2014

We had a blessed Easter this year. While we attend church every Sunday of the year, it is nice to have a certain Sabbath during which our thoughts are more specifically and especially turned towards our Savior, Jesus Christ, and his ultimate, incomprehensible sacrifice for us. My church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, aka Mormons) produced this great short video about Jesus Christ's atonement. You can watch it, and learn more about Jesus Christ and Easter here:

We enjoyed watching it as a family in the days leading up to Easter Sunday, getting our thoughts and hearts focused on him before the actual holiday.

On a more secular note, I kept with the tradition of new Easter dresses for church for me and the girls (poor M didn't get nothin). And I may have stayed up into the wee hours of Easter morn to finish them - gotta stop procrastinating things like that. They turned out really cute though.

As well as the tradition of the Easter Bunny and Easter baskets. It's hard to get children to focus on the real meaning of the holiday when they have the Easter Bunny to think about, but one of the gifts in their Easter baskets was a children's book about the Atonement and the real meaning of Easter. We were sure to read that and talk about it with Alice to help her understand why we have this holiday. I think she understood it, she was able to tell her Grandma later in the day that Jesus died, and they put nails in his hands and hurt him, but he came back to life and was resurrected! And I think that's about as much as a 3 year old can be expected to understand.

Jane enjoyed the goodies inside her basket.
For several weeks afterwards whenever she saw an Easter egg lying around she would get real excited and try to open it to get the treats. In her mind egg equaled treats. Only sometimes sweetie :)
After breakfast we got all dressed up for church!
Alice was thrilled to have a lovely new dress to wear. The girls loves dressing up, no question about that.

 Dad and the girls...
... And Mama with the girls.
(This is quite possibly one of my favorite photos. Love that girl admiring her new dress)



The rest of these photos, I know they're all pretty much the same. But I just love the sequence of them. Dad being silly with the girls and snuggle squishing their squirmy little bodies on Sunday evening after a long 3 hours of church (In the LDS/Mormon church we have three hours of Sunday meetings: Sacrament meeting, Sunday School and then either Relief Society/Priesthood meetings for the adult men/women, Young Men/Young Women meetings for the teenagers, and Primary for the children. You can read more about Mormon church services here and/or here (this second link will also help you find a local church if you would like to attend)





Happy Belated Easter to all. Here's to keeping Easter and Christ in our hearts and minds always.


Oh, and we did have a really fun egg hunt with some neighborhood kids the Wednesday before Easter. Alice really enjoyed that. I accidentally deleted all of those pictures though! Just try to imagine her with like 30 other small children running around a playground picking up eggs left and right. I'm sure you get the idea.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Therrible Threes

Alice turned 3 this month. I've joked with some friends that in our house it's going to be the Therrible Threes rather than the Terrible Twos. Twos weren't so bad for us around here. Threes are looking like they'll be pretty difficult. Independence, defiance, back talking, disobedience, mood swings, bursts of tears, constant whining... ... ..

However, we were very happy to celebrate with Alice on her special day. Despite the difficulties of parenthood we love her dearly and are ready to dive in and figure these three year old emotions and challenges out with smiles on our faces (most of the time).

OK, this post wasn't supposed to be a downer, it was supposed to be a celebration of her life. Let's look at how we celebrated:

 We had a special birthday breakfast of Shirley's orange rolls. I knew I still had to frost cookies for joy school, bake a cake, finish her Elsa dress birthday present, and various other things so I decided to buy some sweet rolls rather than make a special breakfast for her.
(I sort of didn't like doing a sweet breakfast cause I knew we'd be having cookies and cake later in the day, but I wanted to make it special - it is hard for me to think of non-sweet special foods. Any ideas on how to celebrate/make special without doing this?)

 Jane was Loving the balloons I put above the table. She could hardly stop looking at them. I think they distracted her from the big present that was sitting right beside her on the table. Perfect.

Lucky Alice got to go to Joy School on her birthday and celebrate with all her friends. They'd just had a lesson on healthy foods, and I brought them each a giant sugar cookie with lots of frosting. Nothing like a contrast to help learn, right? 

 People were really sweet to Alice and brought her some adorable gifts, even though I told them not to, the stinkers! She was so showered with gifts and special treatment that day, it made my heart happy to see her so loved.


Later that evening we had a party at Grandma and Papa's house. I discovered just how crazy three 3-year-olds and all their younger siblings can be. We might think twice about doing a 3-year-old party in the future :)
It was lots of fun though, her two best friends came - Lucy and Brielle. Plus a few more little cousins.

We played "Don't Eat Elsa" (adaptation of Don't Eat Pete with images from Disney's "Frozen") They all loved it. Especially little Ryker - the guy at my elbow. I think marshmellows are his favorite thing in the whole world!

Then Alice opened her presents - once again it was so heartwarming to see how sweet our friends and family are, Alice was given so many gifts! Too many?! 
I saved our gift for last - I'd been working on this Elsa dress for weeks and had finally finished it all earlier that day. Phew! I'm glad she liked it as much as she did. She wore it for three days straight!

 

If I'd been taking the pictures I would have tried to get all of our guests. I was too busy wrangling all the kids with the games and everything though. Max got a few shots for me. Here is Tiffany and Ruby, our neighbors.


And here is the cake. So I got a little off with the color. It went pretty green. I was just eyeballing it but should have had a picture or something to compare it to. Ah well, what can ya do.

Also I was trying to be really cool and make this awesome candy that I could shatter and use to decorate the cake like ice shards... but I totally ruined it. One of your classic pinterest fails. I didn't have any candy flavoring so I used a little jello mix. Bad idea. The candy wouldn't set, stuck like cement on my teeth, and wouldn't break, just bend really slowly. I ended up having to throw it away. If I'd have stopped to think for half a second I'd have realized, hopefully, that jello mix would have turned it gummy. After getting real frustrated I decided to focus on how I learned my lesson for next time rather than the fact that I had two 9x13 pans of unusable sugar candy. And an hour of wasted time. 

That's life.

But the cake was great anyway. 
Alice loved it - anything with Frozen characters on it will win her over in a heartbeat.
And it tasted real yummy.
(I put jello mix in the frosting too, just a little, to add a little flavor and color and this time it worked out great. A pinterest success haha)



Monday, February 24, 2014

More Love Day Celebrations

Valentine's Day was kind of a drawn out affair for us this year. Normally it seems to come and go pretty quick, not much build up to it like other holidays (Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas). But this year we were able to enjoy several celebrations of the holiday.

The Monday before the actual holiday we went to a cousin Valentine's FHE hosted by Ryan and Sarah Ray in their Beautiful new home. It was great to get together with them and the Nix family to catch up and be together. This is how we arrived:
(We got the Awesome heart glasses from Max's Awesome Aunt Georgia (Baby Jane Georgia's namesake))

 

 And of course it's not much of a party without treats, everyone brought a favorite. 
 These mini cheesecakes were so pretty! And delicious, I'm a sucker for cheesecake. Looove it.
 I brought these pink strawberry cake cookies. They were pretty good, not as good as the cheesecake though.
 I should have gotten more pictures of Alice playing with all her cousins. For the whole evening while the adults chatted she played with one of her best friends, Brielle Nix, while Indie, Hayden, and Jane followed them all around. Those two girls have a lot of fun together.

In between playing Alice was loving this cute blue high chair. Indie was nice enough to share it with her. She was thrilled to sit in it and eat her cookie. With heart glasses on, of course. She hardly took them off the whole evening.

Before we left I had to get one of us (only those in heart glasses, sorry Jane) in front of the cute heart garland. Max was grumbling about too many pictures and both Ryan and Eric were agreeing with him while Sarah and Melissa were trying to defend me, saying their husbands were the exact same. 

~~~~

February 14th, Valentine's Day

We started off with a small celebration before Dad left for work. For breakfast we had a strawberry flavored Butter Braid. You guys ever heard of those? Apparently you can only purchase them through fundraisers. Max's cousin was trying to raise $ for a choir trip so we bought one from her. It's basically a really delicious pastry with really delicious filling. If ever you get the chance, you should purchase one.

Here is Alice's loot.  A few weeks previous we'd been at the store and she saw this little packet full of sparkly lip balms (bottom right) and Realllllly wanted it. (She's got a thing for chapstick). I told her "no" but snuck it into the cart without her seeing thinking it would be a perfect Vday gift. As soon as she saw it a huge grin broke across her face and she said,
"My sparkly chapstick!"
 I may be regretting it though...she's constantly putting it on, around and around and around her little mouth until her lips and 1/2 inch above and below them are bright pink. Hasn't quite gotten the concept yet. 

Here's my loot. 
Max sent me a sweet card from some awesome online website. We didn't get each other much this year because we decided we were going to celebrate by going skiing. However we haven't gone yet because the weekend of Valentine's Day was incredibly warm and conditions at the resort were much less than ideal. I'm kind of worried they're just going to get worse, but we'll see. Even if the snow's not great, it'll still be fun to get out on the slopes. It's been way too long, I think coming up on 2 years! Not sure how I've let this happen, probably cause it's so darn expensive. Also probably because of pregnancy and new baby. 
But now especially after just having watched all those amazing Olympic skiers I'm just dying to get up on the mountain again!
 I didn't even get a picture of Max's loot. I got him a small little Valentine (it may have been a leftover of Alice's Hello Kitty Valentine cards... with some M&Ms - like I said, we're going skiing. I'll take a photo of that when it happens)

Oh, yeah, and Happy Valentine's Day to you little missy.
I think she was mad that I made her wait to put on some lip balm until after breakfast. 
 And this is how she shows her gratitude. 
Kids.... aren't they the greatest?

In the evening  we continued the celebration with some Red Velvet Chocolate Chip pancakes for dinner, which were delish. I found the recipe at:

And after the kids were in bed Max was feeling romantic and told me I could choose any movie I wanted to watch (a rare occasion!) so I of course chose Valentine's Day! I'd never seen it before and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Hope you all had a great Valentine's Day and shared the love with all the people you care about.  

Joy School Valentine's Day Party

Alice and I are involved in a neighborhood Joy School group. Six kids, ages almost 3-4, and six moms and we rotate whose house it's at every week. It's been a lot of fun. I've enjoyed getting to know the kids and preparing little lessons for them and Alice has enjoyed getting together with all her friends once a week, who are all incidentally in our church congregation as well.

We decided to throw the kids a Valentine's Party to help them get into the holiday a little bit. Each mom took an assignment to make it easier to plan. We had games, crafts, and yummy treats.

Here are all the kiddies! Dressed so cute in their Valentine best. We took several photos. Only one of which was supposed to be a "funny face" one. Can you guess which one?



(It's this one, if you couldn't)


I brought craft supplies for our first activity, which was to have all the kids decorate Valentine boxes! Remember doing this in grade school? It was always one of the funnest art projects of the year for me.

Each child started out with a clean, white covered shoe box and we laid out all the supplies for them; ribbon, stickers, markers, bows, tissue paper, glitter glue, and more! Then we sat them all down and told them to go to work!

They, of course, loved it. What little toddler doesn't love having free reign with all the craft supplies they can imagine?

It was really interesting to see their little personalities and tastes come out in the way the decorated their boxes and the things they reached for and chose to put on them. It was fun to see their little minds and hands at work. And they really truly loved it. I need to do art projects like this with Alice more often, because she  had such fun with it.






Here are the boxes all finished. Aren't they adorable? I love how they all turned out, each one different and unique and sooo cute!

I love to think about how, not just their art projects, but each child is unique and different too. Isn't it a wonderful thing that each person is different enough from the next that each has his or her own special talents and strengths and together we can all create a complete and functional family, group, society and so on.



And here is Alice proudly holding her finished project. 

Had to get one with Mama too.

After our craft Mrs. Jones had a fun game planned for the kids. It was a memory game with Hershey's Kisses. On the back of each kiss was a sticker so the kids had fun trying to find the matching shapes and colors. Thankfully the table was glass so we could peak under and help the kids out when they needed it!


After the game we all decorated delicious sugar cookies made by the talented baker Mrs. Priddis. Of course this is always a hit with kids. I mean what's not to like about it? Cookies, frosting, sprinkles, and candy. All good things. They've all got at least a couple more years before they can really do it on their own without creating a mess, but it was fun nonetheless. 

Here's Alice's finished cookie. 
(It's driving me crazy that I didn't think to turn the cookie around. It's upside down!!)
Ya know, not bad for an almost 3 year old. 

William's sneaking a bite. He can't resist his mom's cookin!


She decided to add a few more heart candies before it was really done :)
And boy is she proud of it!

Last of all (and best of all for all the mamas) we brought out the delicious fruit tart prepared for us by the talented Mrs. Heiniger.  Oh, it was good good good!  And beautiful too.
Happy Late Love Day!