Monday, November 30, 2009

move it

Last day of November and Happy 40th birthday to my old man!  I have enjoyed thinking about all of the many things for which I have to be thankful and I could on and on indefinitely.  One final one for now, however.  I am so grateful for a healthy body that can do so many things.  I have been trying to do yoga every day and it just feels so amazingly good!  I love it when they say things like,  "Honor the part of you that knows no doubt."  Okay!  This morning we went for a brisk walk on the beautiful trail nearby and then came home and started raking.  I love to get exercise while actually accomplishing something useful.  Whenever I am running on the treadmill, or some other activity in which I am getting nowhere fast, I can just feel my pioneer mothers looking over my shoulder snickering and wondering why I'm not simply keeping fit by whacking the carpets and chasing after the hens.  It is silly I'll admit.  Actually raking wasn't so much exercise as much as an exercise in futility once the wind sprang up and started swirling all of my piles every which way.

:: dancing on the cistern

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ma famille

I am tremendously grateful for my family.  I have the most wonderful parents and only wish that my kids could have as nice of parents as I do!  I have heard from some reliable sources that they had mellowed by the time I came along, so one more thing to chalk up on my gratitude list.  Lucky me!  They have given me so much ~~ love, music, humor, experiences, knowledge, curiosity, faith, self-worth....  I also love coming from such a big family.   I enjoy being the ninth child (number 9?  number 9?), the baby girl, having three wonderful sisters, and six brothers (!) which I love to point out when people talk about being teased ~~ I think I beat you.  Whenever I hear stories of people who are going solo through life (sad to be all alone in the world...) it is something I can hardly fathom and I am thankful that I only have to imagine it.

I am sure that it was insane having that many people around, but I don't remember it being that chaotic.  I was more than likely immune to it, but I still think that my mom pulls off big family gatherings with aplomb ~~ and there is even usually enough mashed potatoes.  I dedicate this song to my family in remembrance of Sunday dinners and in particular to my little brother {and his wife}.  I love all of you!

Monday, November 23, 2009

put in my place

 I love Sundays because the time feels somehow different and the afternoons are quiet and long.   I am so thankful for church!  Every week it is a little crazy to get there and there is often some regret about my behavior as I urge the children to get ready in time for 8:00 choir practice without dad who has been gone since 6:30.  I am sure that I seem quite surly before the meetings begin, and perhaps still in the middle as I wrestle with baby and shush chatty girls, but then there is always something that pulls me back and really speaks to me.  Often during one of the talks I will feel chastened, but that is lightened by hope that I can and will try to do better.  Last week there was a talk about how important our families are and that home is a place where we should feel safe.  Yes.  And then there was a talk about how if we don't have our ultimate goal in mind and a way to get there, it is very easy to get off track.  She gave an example of an airplane flying to Hawaii.  If the plane starts flying just a few degrees off course, then it would end up in the middle of the ocean and probably run out of fuel.  Hmmm.  It makes one think.  Yesterday there was a talk about pride.  He started by saying that often we don't feel like we are too proud because we don't have excessive amounts of money.  When they mention costly apparel and ornaments I feel quite smug because I'm not the Queen of England and shop at Goodwill for heaven's sake.  Certainly this is not directed at me. But even that self-satisfied and complacent attitude are symptoms of pride, the pride of someone from the bottom looking up.  He quoted Ezra T. Benson:

[Pride] is manifest in so many ways, such as faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous. 

And I start squirming....  but it is a good discomfort, an impetus to start planning and plotting to overcome my weaknesses and become more focused on what is important.  I was telling Matthew that if I really did think that we were going to die on our trip I would probably be living my life differently ~~ dropping the unessential, serving, and loving.  So I must not really think that we will go down in a fiery crash.  I just keep talking about it so that it won't happen since nothing I actually intend to do works out anyway.  My evil plan.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Today is garbage pick-up day and I am infinitely and inexhaustibly thankful that we have such a luxury!  I read this horrible book, don't ever read it, I won't even tell you the name so that you can't and won't, and it was set in New York City and it was the end of the world and the garbage stopped being picked up.  Gasp!  How horrible would that be?  Well, the rats liked it, did I tell you I didn't like that book?  I try really hard to not produce very much garbage.  We recycle what we can, try to eat fresh foods that didn't come in plastic and cardboard, use cloth diapers, cloth napkins, cloth cloths (instead of paper towels), buy bigger packaging instead of lots of little things, give things to people we know or Goodwill, reuse what we can, etc.  I am always amazed (judgmental) at my neighbors when I see how much garbage they accumulate in one week and most of them have only two or three people living in their houses.  However!  For the garbage that we do have, I am always so grateful that I can drag the smelly bag out to the street and say farewell to it.  Living in Illinois I don't even feel too terribly bad about the landfill since there seems to be plenty of land to fill.  I am also glad that they come to take our leaves away, although a big fall bonfire might be nice.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

lunch, laddie, la garde

I am so thankful that I get to have lunch with my husband almost every single day.  In the morning I am too cranky and in the evening he is too tired, so lunchtime seems to be the best time for civil conversations.  Our lunches are lovely and we get to spend them with the other person I am so thankful for ~~ my toddler.  Intermittently throughout the day I will yell, "Matthew!"  As he jumps, he will shout, "What?!"  With great earnestness I will say, "Look. at. that. BABY!"  And then we turn and watch enraptured as he pours water all over his food, babbles incoherently, throws large objects down the stairs, puts yogurt in his hair, pulls the cat's tail... all the while looking utterly adorable with an impish grin on his face.  Matthew will ask questions he would not normally ask, like: "Does he take lessons in cuteness?"  We are quite smitten.

He even sleeps charmingly with his little arms under his head.

Have no fear, I do not love him more than my other children.  I think all of my children are unparalleled examples of perfection, bien sur, but one year olds.... Ooh, la, la, la, la, la, la.  Très darling.

After my last post there were some questions, so to clear things up:  We are wintering in the south of France.  I just love saying that because when will I ever get to say that again?  Um, never!  We will be staying in La Garde, which is a small suburb of Toulon.  We are leaving in about six weeks.  Aaaagh!  I keep getting worried about our plans and using our time there to the absolute utmost, but then stop and realize that since we will probably go down in a fiery crash over the Atlantic, I should probably just take it easy and not get so worked up about it all.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Today, I am so thankful that these have all arrived.  One for each child.  The parents' passports have yet to be received, but who needs us anyway?  At least the kids can all go now!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

music and worth

Tonight I went and sang at an assisted living place with about six other women from church.  It was so fun.  I just love to sing!  I was having to not look around at the people and/or think about the words I was singing because I was afraid I was going to start tearing up (snot running down her nose!), I get so emotional sometimes.  "For the beauty of the earth ♪♫ ... Yes, it is beautiful, and the skies are, too.  Oh, yes, and the love surrounding me.  (weep, weep, weep)

Yesterday I was even worse.  I picked up Ella from school and started the usual cross-questioning and torturous interrogation that comprises our usual journey home.  "Anything of note happen today?"  "Well, actually yes..."  She then proceeds to tell me that when she was in the bathroom before school started a girl went into the stall next to her, vomited a couple of times, and then started repeating "I hate myself, I hate myself" over and over.  That is SO sad!   Ella said that later she went up to her and asked if she was okay and the girl smiled and said fine.  Um, no, she is not fine!  I hurried in from the car and started cleaning something in the house and Ella looked at me and asked, "Are you crying?"  I then started sobbing and talking to Ella about how sometimes I've felt bad about myself and she probably does sometimes, too, but we know we are not alone and we have so much support.  I told her that she should go to school tomorrow and give that girl a Book of Mormon and tell her that God loves her and that we love her.  "Um, Mom?  I barely had the courage to ask her if she was okay.  She might beat me up." Alright, fine.  Matthew then came upstairs to see what was wrong because he thought that Ella and I were fighting.   "No, but there is a girl at the high school who hates herself!  Isn't that sad?"  I looked back at two people with their eyes wide, nodding their heads as they slowly backed away.... I know that this is not an isolated case which makes it even more tragic.  I was talking with a friend who made a very good point.  On the one hand, some of these kids might do well getting dropped off in the middle of the Sudan to see that just maybe their life isn't so bad.  True.  On the other hand, the world is so incredibly cruel and these emotions are real!  I feel like telling the devil and his minions to back off.  Stop telling everyone that they're not good enough and that they're worthless.  Stop tantalizing with the unrealistic and unattainable.  Stop desensitizing the horror and numbing reception to the things that are really important.  I am angry and I want to do something about it.

About gratitude ~~  I am a so thankful for music.  It always reaches down and touches me where I need it.  And I am grateful that I do know that I am worth something and that my children know that, too.  Let's go tell all those other kids now.

:: another pic of Ella on Halloween

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

veterans day

I am so grateful for people who are willing to serve our country in the armed forces. I think they are so brave. I can't think of anything more terrifying. But I wish, wish, wish that we didn't even have veterans. Just retired military who led quiet, peaceful careers ~~ nothing more exciting than helping out with natural disasters and things of that sort. After 9-11 and there was first talk of going to Afghanistan I was so upset. I thought about going down to the corner and picketing for peace. I wondered why we couldn't just find those responsible and make them pay for their actions instead of getting entire countries involved ~~ people who have already suffered so much from political oppression. I mean, after the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, do they really need us over there wreaking havoc, too? Oh, it makes me feel sick. I think about the mommies. How could you raise kids in that environment? Back to complete the circle, I am grateful for those who are willing, so grateful for freedom to think, say, and do, so grateful for peace... just wish we could all give it a chance.

I read Man's Search for Meaning last month. It was so good. And so sad! I got so much out of it, but mostly that most of the nuisances in my life are merely that ~~ nuisances. I can handle them and need to do so with a much more cheerful heart. I have love, I have safety, I have faith.

This morning I looked at the clock and it was 11:11. Groovy. Then I realized that today is 11/11. Groovier. How is it that every time I take something out of the freezer there is less room?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Today I am thankful for water. Oh, have I already mentioned that? Well, I have a fear of being thirsty and plus I just think it is great so I am saying it again ~~ hooray for water! I am grateful to live where there is plenty of luscious, delectable, clean, flowing water. I think the desert is beautiful, but I feel a little less uneasy in a place where is rains a bit. As I also mentioned before, water also scares me and I am for some reason more worried about flying over the ocean than I am over land. I even tried to find out the normal route from N. America to Europe and saw that it tries to stick close to an airport, heureusement.

This year the kids wanted to donate some money to a charity for Christmas (and any extra money they find the rest of the year). My husband has a problem with pseudo-charities who pretend they are noble, but really take donations to pay their own salaries. He found this one that is helping people in Africa have access to clean water and all of the money goes to actually digging wells, fancy that. They are very excited! Watch this great video that tells more about it (accompanied by one of my all time faves).

Monday, November 9, 2009

halloween, warm november, jeans that fit

I am so thankful for my beautiful children. Sometimes I cannot get over how extraordinary they all are. I have had my suspicions that perhaps Heavenly Father may have known that I couldn't handle any real troublemakers which in a way makes me feel ... I don't know. I just know that I am grateful for them every day and every night, high and low, and there and back.

Here are some pictures of them from Halloween that I never posted.


:: Queen Elizabeth and Dorothy

::Queen E and D again


None of Charles since he wouldn't dress up this year. Sad. Maybe he will be mature enough next year to realize that dressing up is fun, fun, fun!

I am thankful for two more things. First, the amazing weather we had this weekend!!!! Oh my goodness, September and October were much too chilly so it was beyond wonderful to have this little reprieve. It was 68˚, my favorite temperature. Aaaah. Today it is a little cooler, but still lovely as can be for a November afternoon.

The next thing is that I am incredibly grateful that I found some jeans that fit. What a trial! I certainly don't want to wear Mom jeans, bien sur! But I also don't like really low rise since I am a mom and have a mom tummy to prove it and I hate the whole hiking up my pants or showing off my rolls dilemma. Well, last week while I was walking at the mall since it was SO cold, I saw that there was a super one day sale at the Limited and I walked in and found them ~~ the perfect jeans for me. Regularly $69.50, got them for $14. What a coup!

Friday, November 6, 2009

looking serious

These are our recent passport photo attempts. We ended up going to Walgreen's after two weeks of trying. Sometimes the professionals really do know better. But you've got to admit they're pretty cute!

bed fellows

Wow November whatever already! Crazy. My sister is posting things she's thankful for on Facebook so I thought I would do that here and hope that it will get me writing some more.

Last night as I fell into bed way too late, I was very thankful for my bed. I love it so much. It has just the right ratio of give and take. I will miss it while I am gone. Along the same vein, I am so very very very grateful that my baby is now semi-sleeping through the night. He still thinks he should wake up around 4 a.m. and I usually hold him off until 5 or so, but this is so much better than the kind of dozing all night long thing we had going. I had so much wanted to try the co-sleeping regimen, but it just didn't work for us. NO ONE was getting enough sleep.

I am also so thankful for the friends and family that I have. There are so many reasons why this is true, but one that comes to mind is the response to my last post of not using shampoo. Normal people would react in a more horrified manner, but not my chums. Some already knew about this, others express interest and a willingness to try it out themselves. I love that! It is hard to explain, but it seems to be a wonderful example of our commonality and general kindred spirit-ness.
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