Monday, December 27, 2010


The wedding was wonderful!!!! There's nothing like watching your daughter kneel across the altar from a worthy young man and make covenants that will last forever.

She's head-over-heels in love and he just wants to make her happy (and is succeeding magnificently). It's adorable!

After honeymooning in Nauvoo, they're spending the week with us! So fun to have the newlyweds here for Christmas and New Years!!!

Here's my favorite wedding pic:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What Think Ye Of Christmas: a Book Review

I devour novels. Quick and messy, cannot wait to find out what happens next kind of reading. But some books must be read aloud and savored slowly and shared to be fully appreciated. What Think Ye of Christmas by Ester Rasband with original watercolor paintings by Jana Winters Parkin is such a book.

I should take the time to link to some of the lovely artwork in the book (because they are simply beautiful), but with my current time schedule that's not gonna happen. Instead, here's my experience with the book.

I was lucky enough to win two blog contests offering this book (one of them in multiples!) When I recieved my first copy, not having much time as I slogged through my daily mail on the way to multiple, gotta-get-em-done-today tasks, I opened it and quickly read through the text, taking enough time to spend just a moment on each work of art. My thoughts were along the lines of, "That was very nice," as I hurried back to my to-do list.

The next day, I gathered my children around me and read it to them, taking time to show them the pictures. That experience was on a whole new level over my first perusal. Reading with my children, wanting them to understand in both their hearts and minds what the book was saying, and even, (hope springs eternal!), implement the concept into our holiday season, the book became a beautiful witness of the Saviours birth and even a springboard to a discussion of how our family can remember him better in our Christmas celebration. (What more could you ask for!?)

You can buy the book here, and you won't be sorry. It's a wonderful addition to our Christmas library (btw, does anyone else love, love, love decorating their home with Christmas books? Not only are they beautiful, but decorating with them, puts them around the house where they are more likely to be read and enjoyed all season long. This book is perfect for decorating, because it's small and has that gorgeous angel on the front).

After you get your copy, experience it with someone you love, your spouse, your children, your sister, your visiting teacher, or simply read it aloud to yourself. Your voice will tell you things about the text that your eyes alone will miss. Take the time to enjoy the works of art. You'll be glad you did, and, who knows, it may even lead to a more Christ-centered Christmas celebration in your neck of the woods!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Candy Cane Tutorial!

handmade projects

It's time for a quick break from wedding/Christmas preparations. I've wanted to do a tutorial on homemade candy canes for quite some time. If I don't do it now, it won't be any good until next Christmas season. This will be quick and may have lots of typos.

Eleven Christmases ago we moved to the midwest and a good lady in our ward invited us over to make candy canes with her family. I was perplexed. "You mean you make real candy canes?" She replied that they did. "With stripes and everything?" She assured me that they would even be striped. We enjoyed it so much that we now have a Candy Cane party with friends each year. It's become an important part of our celebration.

NOTE: Don't let the length of the written instructions deter you. I've incorporated all of the hints and tips from my friend into the recipe. It's not as extensive as it looks. I recommend that you have at least eight to twelve-ish people to do this, or you're going to get really tired of rolling them.

The recipe came from my friend's grandma. She was born in the 1880's, lived in Utah all her life and worked in a candy factory as a young girl. This is the recipe from the factory.

6 cups sugar
3 cups water
2/3 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
2/3 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 dram peppermint oil (or less) Available at pharmacies
red food coloring

In a large pot, combine sugar, water, salt and corn syrup. Stir really well, till all sugar crystals are dissolved (if any crystals remain when it starts to boil, the candy will turn amber). Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil (she cooks it on high because it's faster).

Then add the cream of tartar but DO NOT STIR. Put lid on pot to steam for three minutes. Remove lid and, with damp cloth, wipe crystals from sides of pan.

Cook to hard crack stage (300-310 degrees Fahrenheit). Mixture will bubble white over entire surface. According to my friend, the cold water test is the only way to be sure it has cooked long enough. You will actually hear a small crack when the candy is dropped into a cup of cold water.

Immediately removed the pot from the burner. Pour 2/3 onto a buttered cookie sheet to cool. Leave the other 1/3 in the pan to cool (this will be the stripe).

Once it is cool enough to handle, lightly butter hands and pull the candy white (doesn't take very long). While pulling, add flavor. Snip a small amount off with kitchen shears to test for flavor. Next, pull, flavor and color the stripe.

Here are our friends from Kansas who joined us for Thanksgiving pulling the candy white.

Hubders adding the red to the stripe.

Lump the white into a rough ball. Stretch the red into a rough rope and make a ring around the white.

With two people, stretch the whole thing out to about a foot or so and twist so the stripe goes around and around.

Place on a wooden board and roll (should be unfinished wood, or the candy cane will slide instead of rolling). Cut with kitchen shears once it gets too long for your two hand spans. Give 1/2 to someone else and both of you continue rolling on wooden boards, cutting and passing to someone new whenever a piece gets to be longer than your hand spans.

Place extra pieces on a buttered cookie sheet in a 170 degreee oven, with the door left open to keep warm till they can be rolled (pieces that get too cold to roll may also be placed in the oven to warm them up again). Continue rolling till desired size.

Shape into canes, or any other shape you desire. Place on waxed paper, making sure that the canes do not touch each other. (I always stock up on shirt boxes at Christmas time. Lined with wax paper, they are ideal for sending the candy canes home with your guests.)

The finished product! Some of the pictures are lousy and you'll notice that some years, the candy canes are whiter than others!

Try it! You'll be glad you did!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Very, Very Busy But Got a Smile on my Face

Here's the math:
This girl of mine.
plus this boy (who's a keeper btw),
Plus 7 1/2 weeks to do a wedding here (1300 miles away),
Equal an extremely busy, but very Happy Mom.
(But the bloggy world's gonna have to move on without me for a while.)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Am I losing the War?

Is anyone else tired of the battle?

You journal, say no to desserts, get better acquainted with vegi's but can't remember what a big mac tastes like, spend relentless hours hitting the pavement and hefting weights, for months (and years). The weight sluggishly drops, quarter pound by measly quarter pound. Eventually, you get there, sixty pounds lighter, weight watcher's goal weight. It feels soooo good! You get rid of all of your "fat" jeans and sweaters. You did it!!

But you only stay at goal for a week -- one pitiful week. Yup, I got one free week at weight watchers and then had to start paying again. I was through with the counting every point, you-bite-it-you-write-it lifestyle. Didn't want to live the rest of my life that way, so although I kept exercising and tried to eat consciously, I stopped the regimented thing and the pounds crept right back on my hips, thirty of 'em over the next year and half (okay, I'm lying, it was really thirty-five, but that crosses that half-of-what-I-lost line and I refuse to go there!)

I now play around with the same ten pounds, it's a yearly cycle, but at the end of the year I'm back where I started. No net gain.

There's no point to this post. I just wanted to whine. I'm currently down 8 pounds from my normal fat place and pretty determined to hold stable through the holidays, but I'm battle weary and almost ready to throw in the towel and simply enjoy the Halloween candy -- almost but not quite.

What's your favorite, easy to implement, weight loss tip? I need motivation.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Garages are Beautiful

Garage saleing makes me happy, 'cuz I'm Cheap with a capital C!

I can't see paying $14.95 for jeans to cover my 6-year-old's tiny tush, when I can get the same pair for one buck (slightly worn, but still in great shape). Today, I paid $1 for a fun curtain rod (big old metal bees on each end--perfect for my laundry room), and the adorable sheers with flowers only set me back another two clams. I've been smoothie-less since my blender died two weeks ago, but thanks to the $3 beauty I found this morning, I can again smoothie to my hearts content.

I won't bore you with every item I snagged today, but this has become the way I shop for most of the clothing and housewares needed around here. Each sale I visit becomes it's own little treasure hunt and snagging a great deal on a needed item brings a smile to my face in addition to doing happy-dance-worthy things to my budget.

Do you garage sale? Why or why not?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Man

I love this woman's blog.

Her latest post got me thinking about the guy I've chosen
and the good things he brings into my life.

Here's just one of my favs.

When life crashes down for a moment (her camping trip, for example, but whatever the current stress in the family may be), he makes us laugh, or gives us chocolate, or both.

I tend to yell.

His way is better.

He's my hero.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Whatcha Readin?

Fall not only means back to school, it means my book club is starting up again!

Woo-hoo! Love it! Love the books, the giggling at Chevy's, the chips and salsa! But, I'm tapped out of ideas for books this year.

So, I'm asking. What are a couple of your all-time favorite books?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Waiting For Her Letter

We adore reading around here. Something I've blogged about here and here.

This summer, I decided that Girlie Whirl, 6 1/2, was old enough to deal with Harry Potter in book form. She wasn't sure she wanted to, but I convinced her to give it a try and we began.

Oh, the fun we've had, the adventure, the humor, the discovery! It's one of the joys of parenting, this introducing your child to a new world through the written word! There is nothing like your little girl gazing up at you with a mixture of hope and pleading in her big blue eyes as she says, "Please just read one more chapter, pleeeeease!"

Playtime at our home now commonly features magical themes. Dolls take on names like Hermione and Ginny; and Girlie-Whirl keeps her wand nearby, hexing invisible foes with abandon. Needless to say, it was a very Harry summer and because we still have just over two more books to go, the Harry-ness will continue through much of the fall. Can you guess what she's gonna be for Halloween?

G-W started daydreaming about getting her letter of acceptance from Hogwarts, and asked me if I thought it could happen in real life. Last month, her twelve-year-old sister, Banana-Girl was sad. As G-W knelt by me, I asked her to remember her sister in her prayer. I was touched and amused as she earnestly petitioned Heavenly Father to bless Banana-Girl that she'll get a letter from Hogwarts, the pinnacle of heavenly blessings in her mind. I think she's finally decided that no letters are going to arrive, but she's holding out hope that it could happen in the next life.

I know that there's nothing original in the sentiment, but can I just say that I adore Harry Potter! Rowling is, in my opinion, a master story teller. The hours of quality time that my family has spent in her books are countless and full of good memories. I firmly believe that forty years from now, her books will still be in print and there will be third and fourth generation fans out there introducing the world of Hogwarts to their children.

What are you reading with your kiddles?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Whoosh.....Summer's Gone!

It's time to get back into blogging -- I've missed it!

Sooo much to say. Too many things happened over the summer to write them all so here are a few of highlights.

1. Nauvoo. Mom and Dad have finished their mission there and it is once again a 20 hour drive to visit them. The three hour drive to Nauvoo was such a blessing. We spent a lot of time there this summer, playing Quirkle, measuring historic homes (you should see my hubder's sketches!), giggling and being together.
2. Triathlon. I didn't meet my goal of beating last years time, but as I didn't train as hard and I'm a year older, nine seconds added to last year's time is more than respectable. This year's trialthon was sponsored by my Big Bro (thanks, Bro!)
3. Utah trip. We took the kids out of school for a week to go to Utah to my little sister's wedding. It was beautiful and made me happy. We also spent a couple of nights at our favorite place on the planet with Hubder's family. We giggled and ate too much and slept very little. Seeing family is a boon to my soul.

And now, for the low light:
Long story, short (trust me, I could write pages). On the way home from Utah, car troubles stranded us in Laramie, Wyoming for three days. $500 later (towing, hotels and food) we learned that the car was essentially totalled, bought a brand new Toyota Rav4 and drove home. Yeah, we exceeded our vacation budget! As we unloaded the car, Banana-Girl (12) said, "This is the coolest souvenir we've EVER bought!"

Sunday, August 22, 2010

School's In!!

Summer is officially over, having sent my wee ones (and not so wee ones) off to school last Wednesday. I'm sad to see it go, but as I prognosticated in a previous post I am fully in the it's-time-to-get-them-back-in-school-so-that-we-can-get-organized mode, along with the I-can't-wait-to-get-back-into-blogging mode.

This is quite the landmark year. For essentially the first time in more more than 24 years, I do not have a preschooler or even a kindergartner...blink....blink.

I'm not sure I comprehend what that is going to mean, it's been so long. But, as of last Wednesday, I have six hours without any children in my house every week day. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm sad about the end of my preschooler days. I'll miss the one on one time with my Girlie-whirl. But at the same time, there's this shining notion of myriad possibilities that is tantalizing and oh, so exciting!!

So here for all the world to read, which will, hopefully, keep me more accountable, is my short list of things I want to accomplish in my child-free hours.

1. De junk the whole house. I'm going to dedicate one morning a week to throwing stuff out and organizing what's left. I'm going at it room by room. We haven't had a move in over ten years to force us to get rid of stuff and somethings gotta give!

2. Attend the temple at least twice a month. (I'm embarrassed to say that would be an improvement, but there it is!)

3. Dedicate one afternoon a week to visiting teaching. I will be a better visiting teacher if I have a specific time each week to think about my sisters and act on any thoughts I may have.

4. Blog, read, craft, exercise. All that stuff that you do, but feel guilty about the time it's taking away from your family.

I know. It's a pretty boring list for all my bluster about the exciting possibilities. But it's what I want to do. Someday, maybe, I'll move on to more exciting pursuits. But for now, finding time for these is quite enough of a thrill!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Drum Roll, Please!

Yup, I'm MIA from the blogger world for the summer. Haven't read or posted in a very long time, but summer's being a blast! I'll be back once school starts again, and I'll read every post from my favorite bloggers, (you know who you are!)

However, I do have on piece of news that I simply HAVE to share, so I'm back, momentarily, to announce that around the 19th of January, I will become a grandma!! Tough Guy and Cutie Pie are prego (and she's just starting to show--sooo cute!!)

I keep finding myself in the baby section of various stores, perusing the goods, but not buying anything, 'cuz we don't know if it's a boy or a girl yet. I'm even more excited than I was with my own pregnancies (and I'm not nauseous!)

Well, I'm off to finish out my summer with a bang! Later!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Does the Journey Seem Long?

Slowly, you get there.

Pound the pavement regularly enough and 5k becomes doable again. Hop on the bike day after day and the miles are no longer insurmountable. Swim enough mornings and even a land lubber like me begins to approach the needed distance.

Fifty-six days until the triathlon. I'm in a very different place than last year. Not as panicked, determined to better my time, and on my way.

Friday, June 18, 2010

North Carolina!

Our family just got back from a trip to North Carolina to see our son, Tough Guy and his sweet wife, Cutie-Pie. It was a fabulous trip and it got us to the ocean with our kids (something, I must admit we've never done before).

The sixteen hour car ride was a bit extreme for the five of us in our trusty Camry. But the kids (age 15, 12 and 6) were amazingly patient and it took only a quiet word from Dad to pull them back when things got out of hand. (Can someone tell me why Dad's word is law and Mom's word is ignored?)

We stayed on the military base (Cherry Point), which was cheap and an adventure! We gabbed and played with our fun son and daughter-in-law. We ate too much. We got sunburned at the beach, gathered lot's of shells, and made a spectacular sand castle (no pics of the beach, 'cuz there's no cheap way to get pictures off of my cell phone and I wasn't gonna get my camera full of sand).

We ate Carolina BBQ. Yum!

We explored a Civil War Fort.

We visited an aquarium. Where we:
pet the rays,

and a sea turtle,

and spent lots of time in front of the shark tank.

A brief look at one of the many things that kept the kids entertained during the 32 hours on the road. Who knew that carrots could be so entertaining!

And yes, we stopped in Metropolis on our way home!

We've only been home for three days and I already miss Tough Guy and Cutie-pie.
Good thing they're coming in July!!
Don'tcha just love summer!?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Git 'er dun!

I've blogged before about my abysmal organizational skills. Yet, hope springs eternal and as the seasons change, I feel the drive to make another attempt. Every year as school winds down, I find myself thinking, "I can't wait until school gets out, so we can get organized." (Which inevitably leads to August thoughts of, "I can't wait until school starts so we can get organized.")

I'm fickle when it comes to housework. I don't like it, I'm not great at it, and to be frank, I'd rather be doing almost anything else (blogging, playing games with my kids, having a root canal). And while I fully realize that my efforts will likely bear little fruit, I nevertheless feel that the struggle, the attempt, is important. Important personally, to wrestle a weakness. And important for my kids to see me try continually to overcome.

 Anyway, school's out, so it's time to make the attempt. One of my biggest problems with the kids and chores is accountability. We set up chores and establish rules such as, no screen time, playing with friends, or going to the pool until they're done. But, within a couple of weeks, it tends to fall apart.

We've tried chore charts before, with varying degrees of success, but this summer, we're trying it again. Hopefully, the visual reminder will help both Mom and kids.

I made the chart last night. Bright colors, this template, some scrapbook paper, ribbon, stickers, and popsicle sticks.  The sticks are green on one end and orange on the other and the kids will flip them over as they complete their morning chores.

I'm determined to make a go of it. And, worst case, we'll be a smidge better with the chart than without. A win in my book!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hogwarts Party!

Although we celebrate birthdays with a family party every year, my children don't get friend birthday parties yearly. They only get them on "big" birthdays -- when they turn five, eight, twelve, and sixteen.

Banana-girl is nuts about Harry Potter (okay, to be truthful, the whole family are huge fans -- especially of the books), and so decided she wanted a Harry Potter Party for her twelfth birthday. We made BIG plans, and sent out cool invitations that looked like a letter from Hogwarts addressed to their specific bedrooms (owl feathers and everything) but then life got in the way and most of the plans had to go by the wayside as we threw the party together in the last three days before the event.

Two days before the party, I found this link and simply HAD to make wands. I made ten. It took me most of the day and I was sick of them before I was through, but very happy with the results! Who would guess that they're made of paper and glue! I bought some hot glue sticks and paint, but literally only spent about $10 dollars on the lot! The friends got to choose a wand (a party favor) as they came to the party -- via platform 9 3/4 (the porch). Below is a picture of all ten and a close-up shot of the one Banana-girl chose. (it's ticking me off that the pictures are flipping sidways when I upload them, but I can't seem to do anything about it, so sideways they shall be. Sorry, no pictures of the actual party -- I never think to pull out the camera during events!)

We played games, laughed a lot, ate too much (there was butterbeer and treacle fudge, but the rest was muggle food), stenciled shirts, and generally had a great time!

Here's a picture of the party favors, minus the wands (fizzing skittles really do fizz!)

Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom!

Friday, May 28, 2010


She turns twelve years old today.

Here she is at two.

She's short (the one in the middle), spunky, hilarious, a faithful friend, and a fabulous daughter!

I love how much richer my life is because she's a part of it!

Happy b-day, girl!

Monday, May 17, 2010


The weight battle and I have not been on speaking terms lately. Too much eating, too little moving, soooo many resolutions to do better that have fallen by the wayside, scattering debris in their path. But I'm back in the determined mode (when things are pitiful, you can get depressed or get determined, right?).

What brought on this new bout of determination you ask? A little breakfast conversation with Girlie-whirl.

"Momma, I'm gonna have girl milk every day now instead of boy milk" (pink lids versus blue lids).

"You are? How come?"

"'Cuz girl milk doesn't have any fat in it."

"Oh, sweetie, you don't need to worry about fat in your milk."

"How come?"

"Because you're skinny minney."

"Does that mean you're large as a barge?"

Nuf said!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Random Thoughts

I'm taking a break from Christian Connection Thursdays today. I'll bring it back next week, but it's just not happening today and I'm gonna embrace that and move on.

Some thoughts that are dancing around in my brain:

Random thought #1
I sometime wonder if my children are "getting it". Do they understand why we live the way we do? Are they developing a love for, and a desire to be obedient to our Father? Am I providing opportunities for them to come to know God? Am I filling them up with my love so it will be easier for them to recognize His? It's so easy to get caught up in the minutia of life that you don't take time for the big important stuff. You know, cuddles, laughs, pointing out the blessings and savoring them, teaching them in the moment, even if the moment falls in the middle of a rush to get somewhere, asking what's on their mind. I truly believe these are some of the most important things, but they're not the squeeky wheel and so often don't get the "grease". (This random thought was brought to you by the desire to do better)

Random thought #2
The other day, Girlie-Whirl offered family prayer. I think the following is word for word:
Note: She says, Thankly for we thank thee, but what she really means is "please bless". We've worked on it, but she persists and since I wish I were more thankful for the trials and struggles, I haven't tried too hard. Her thankly's are a little whisper of reminder from God (when I let them be).
Henly Father,
We thankly for those that are sad to be happy.We thankly for Mrs. Frandsen's husband. We thankly for Sister Jones. In  the name...
Sweet, simple, direct, and all about others who need help.

Random thought #3
Is it possible to keep an organized house without putting in any effort? I keep desperately searching for a method that will not take time and energy, but alas, I can't find one!

Random thought #4
Having older children call home and "dish" is one of life's great joys!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I can't let today pass without a few words about the mothers in my life.

First, my own angel mother. She's such a fun mom (and grandma)!!! No matter our age, toddler to teenager, I knew her very favorite thing was to be with us kids (and still is!) What a gift that was. She would start water fights in the kitchen, loved to play games with us, found humor and joy everywhere, was more fun to recount a date to than my girl friends, showered us with her love, taught us well, gave us room to grow, and most importantly, her eyes clearly reflected the deep-down joy that she ghad from living the gospel. It was from her that I came to want that same joy in my life. I will forever be grateful to my Heavenly Father for the beautiful gift my mother.

Second, my mother-in-law. She's loved and accepted me from day one, is a beautiful example of life long service to others, raised six wonderful children (Hubders being the favorite!) and looks for the best in everyone.

Third, my grandma. She was never very healthy and asthma was a constant. When I close my eyes, I can still hear her staccato cough coming from the kitchen as she prepared meals for the family. (Her potato salad is  THE best!)  I don't recall her ever complaining about anything and I knew that she adored me. After she died, I ended up with the little side table that sat by her chair. She made literally hundred's of sets of temple robes in her lifetime. The table always had a green apron on it, embroidery in various stages. It's one of my most prized possessions.

These good women continually put their in God and put family first. They loved being a mom and it showed in all that they did. Their examples have shaped and blessed me from day one and will continue to be a blessing to generations yet to come. Thank heaven, literally, for mothers!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Christian Connection Thursday! #4

Today I want to introduce you Deirdra. She's a strong woman. Beautiful, full of hope, determination, wonder, and love for her pastor husband, her kids and anyone else that meanders across her path. Her blog Jumping Tandem is a lovely place, where you'll find courage, faith, joy, and smiles.
As with all of the women I've spotlighted, it's not only her insights that intrigue me. It's her words and the way she puts them together. Reading her speaks to my soul and I can't help but sigh with contentment. (Eventually, I'm gonna learn to write like that, but it'll take years!) She has so many posts that I wanted to link up, (I restrained myself and didn't link up the one on journaling, nor the one where she watches her husband pray in the morning -- but it was tough).

I've limited myself to only two:
This post is about reading the scriptures and the jewels to be found there.
This post is about remembering. (Do you recall that Spencer W. Kimball said it was the most important word in the English language?)

Mosey on over to her place and spend some time there. You won't be sorry!

I feel a bit guilty. All but one of my Christian Connection spotlights have come from (In)Courage (and she has just been asked to join their team!) I'll eventually go elsewhere, but there is such an abundance of beautiful writing there, I just can't help myself!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Little Ticked at Target

 A few months back a number of bloggy friends started a little crusade to clean up their corner of the world by asking Target to use those plastic "thingeys" that let you see the title of the magazine and the photo, but cover up all the words along the side. Cosmo being the magazine in question.

I, too, had been bugged by the mag and felt like I should wage a battle in my neck of the woods. But, to be honest, I was chicken and usually rushed while at Target (a convenient little excuse that assuaged my concience for a while). But as I continued to see the smutty covers, daughter whose reading skills were becoming increasingly adept in tow, I became more and more bugged. So, one day, when I had a bit of time and Target wasn't very busy, I simply asked the checker to let me speak to the manager. She left to find the manager, and I stood there trying not to look nervous.

I was taken aback when the manager appeared. She looked seventeen! But, I calmly made my case. After pointing out the offensive phrases on the latest Cosmo cover and drawing her attention to the fact that it was displayed right at eye level for children, I asked her if she wanted to explain what these phrases meant to my six year old daughter (that came straight off of someone's blog, maybe Mommy Snark, but I'm not sure). She made some excuse about how she didn't think they could use those "thingeys" (I truly wish I knew what they were called), because Cosmopolitan paid to have their magazine displayed in that prominent location and to alter it would be a breach of their contract (or something like that). When I pressed and explained that I simply wanted to be able to bring my daughter to their business establishment without the need to  talk to her about sex after every trip, she told me that she thought that it would have to be a nationwide Target policy in order for them to be used. When I informed her that I had friends (thanks bloggy buds!) who had talked to the managers of Target in their states and that they now used the "thingeys", she said something about how a local grocery store chain doesn't carry Cosmo anymore because they didn't want to use the plastic "thingeys" (which had nothing whatsoever to do with the point I had just made, but seemed to satisfy her). She told me that she would look into the issue. Which I took to be a nice way of saying, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

I went home and emailed multiple friends who patronize this Target, told them my story and asked them to talk to management if they felt comfortable doing so. I know of two friends who did, but they got the same run around. Since then, I have emailed corporate headquarters and snailmailed the local store about the issue. No response and, of course, nothing has changed.

I know I can choose to go elswhere, but Target is literally within walking distance of my home and I love the convenience. I would like to continue with my little battle, but am at a loss as to what to do next. Any suggestions?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Trip to Utah and Banana Girl's Artwork.

I just got back from taking my son out to BYU. It was a fabulous trip (the 43 hours in the car NOT included, but survived!)

Trip highlights:
Visiting with my sisters and my husband's wonderful (and hilarious) family, hearing my adorable niece speak in church before she leaves for the MTC in Brazil, being at the cabin at Bear Lake!, spending the night at a dear old friend's home and gabbing nonstop the whole time, meeting my daughters boyfriend (he's approved!), watching my son be nervous 'cuz it's been a while since he was in school and knowing he's gonna simply fly, and spending a week straight with my youngest (the logistics of leaving a kindergartner behind were just not worth tackling so she came along).

I only took two pictures the whole trip (what was I THINKING?!) they were both of my sweet mother-in-law. Here she is:

Heart of gold, that woman has!

I came home (so sick of the car I could scream) and THRILLED to be back where I could see my man's face again (and Bikey-boy's and Banana-girl's).

Upon returning home, I found this piece of artwork, made by my almost 12 year old daughter. It made me happy! Click on the picture to see the detail and read the labels.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Christian Connection Thursdays! #3

My first two installments of Christian Connection Thursdays, found here and here, have spotlighted women who have turned to God in the midst of extreme circumstances and found joy and peace. Today, I spotlight a woman who, instead of facing extraordinary trials, faces the normal, day to day difficulties that slow us down, stress us out and stop our progress, (if we let them).
Meet Ann Voskamp. From her bio @ (In) Courage:
"Ann Voskamp is a farmer's wife. She homeschools their six farm kids. She deals with a lot of dirt. Especially in her own heart. When the kids and the washing machine sleep, she scrubs the real dirty laundry with words and The Word."
My three favorite things about Ann, (without the fanciful "e.") are:

1. She writes of commonplace difficulties. The kind that we feel we should deal with on our own, but can end up being the starting block of a backsliding heart. Reading about another's struggles with the "mundane" is consolation to my heart as it strives against the grind that wears me down.

2. She's made gratitude a way of life. Her list of 1000 blessings is up to 1489 and counting!

3. Her words wash pictures over me. I'm there, in her home watching her strugglings to praise God in the arduous moment. Oh, to be able to write like that!

Here is my favorite post! Click on over and settle in for lovely prose and thoughts that lift out of the mundane to the divine.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Christian Connection Thursdays!

Today I want to introduce you to Sara Frankle; a lovely lady with some thoughts on life and God that are a fresh breeze on a hot summer day. I'm not gonna go into her background info here, (you can poke around on her blog to learn her circumstances). Suffice to say that she can no longer leave her home without severe repercussions. Now if I were in similar circumstances, I would feel downright justified in an all night pity party that hung around for a year or two. But Sara chose instead to find joy and light and beauty and God... everywhere.

I know I linked to her profile, but just in case you didn't click on over here's a quote from it:
"Just a girl who used to write for a magazine to make a living, and now writes a blog to make a life. Extremely blessed, well-loved and choosing joy while learning that homebound doesn't limit your life, just your location."
I was pretty determined to only link up one specific post, but I can't choose so you're gonna get two.

This post is a whole new twist on the trite, "when life hands you lemons, make lemonade" concept. Nothing trite here. Just a fresh look, whole lot of faith and hope, and a sense of the goodness that Heavenly Father extends to us as we seek him.

This one is her Easter post this year. I love it when a post makes me gasp with a new insight! This one did.

Mosey on over to her blog. You won't be sorry!

Monday, April 19, 2010

One of my Hero's

Today is my sister's birthday (we're both at an age where it's not polite to ask). She's the one who surprised me and flew 1300 miles to cheer me on when I did the Triathlon last year) Over the years, she has become one of my heroes. Here are a few of the reasons:

1. She's so thoughtful. She's one of those people who is continually doing small deeds that show her love. Example: I couldn't find any decent drainer spoons and mentioned it to her in passing (you know, the kind that let you dish up the corn, but leave the liquid in the bowl). The next time I saw her, she handed me one. She happened to be in a store, remembered what I said and picked one up for me. That's just the way she rolls. She remembers small details and does something about it if she can. I wish I were more like that.

2. Eleven-ish years ago, I watched her help her husband through cancer treatment, lose him a year later and then proceed to be a single mom to her six kids (ages 12 years to 18 months), with grace, a sense of humor and continual faith.

3. After her husband passed away, she did a remarkable thing (actually she did MANY remarkable things, but I'm only mentioning one here). You know how there are always people who don't know what to say and so don't say anything. Then three or four months later, they still haven't talked to you and so can't even look you in the face? She didn't let that happen in her ward. If there was someone whom she hadn't talked to since her sweetheart's death, she would initiate the contact in simple ways. She'd walk up to them at church and mention that she'd seen their son playing soccer the other day and was amazed at how he'd grown, or something like that. People soon realized that she was fine to talk about his death, or not, she just wasn't fine with not talking at all. (BTW, she's since remarried and really great guy)

4. She's one of those people who is happiest if she's serving and so does it continually. Family, friends, ward members, acquaintances, you name it, if she can help, she will.

Here we are in July of last year.

Sis, I sure wish I could give you a big hug on your birthday. Will you settle for next friday? Can't wait to see you this weekend!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Christian Connection Thursdays

This is the first of my Christian Connection Thursdays where I spotlight a blog post from a Christian woman that has impacted me.

Some of you may already know Angie Smith. I discovered her only recently but she already feels like a dear friend (no, she doesn't know me from Adam, (her blog has almost six thousand followers), but spend some time on her blog and you'll know what I mean).

In January of 2008, Angie learned that the daughter she was carrying would not live. Some of her doctors recommended terminating the pregnancy, but she and her husband, Todd, chose instead to carry little Audrey Caroline, hope and pray for the best, and accept God's will.

She started her blog Bring the Rain, the story of Audrey Caroline as a way to keep friends, family, and even complete strangers who wanted to help and pray for her little family, informed about their journey through this difficult time.

Wesley (The Princess Bride) was right. "Life is pain." There is no shortage of people going through excruciating circumstances, but what sets Angie apart from the norm is her deliberate and conscious decision to choose belief and faith again and again in the midst of sorrow. Her absolute determination to look for the beautiful, the spirit filled, the healing, always with her face uplifted to her Maker is simply breathtakingly beautiful to read. That her prose is real, thought provoking, and tender makes her blog just that much better.

I stumbled upon her blog and an hour, and half a box of tissues later, I emerged. Fortified in my faith, grateful for her example and with great desires to be a more present Mom to my sweet brood.

Navigating her sight to find her story is a bit cumbersome so below are links to four of her posts that knocked me over.

This link is to her first post in January of 2008

If you only have time to read one post, make it this one. It's a tender letter she wrote to little Audrey a few days after her birth. It recounts the experiences of the pregnancy and birth. Bittersweet's the word. Yes, there's sorrow, but there is also joy, peace, and an abundance of faith.

This post is twenty two days after Audrey's birth. A dark day when light found it's way in via a sweet daughter.

Click on this link to read Angie's most recent post on Easter. It's a sweet perspective on the resurrection that she discovered after a conversation with one of her daughters and some time in the scriptures.

Do spend a few minutes with this strong, faithful woman. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Number Four

Fifteen years ago
today, this boy came into my life.


It was a nightmarish labor and delivery -- (delivery is never a modest proposition, but if it's a teaching hospital, a lot more people see all of you, and if yours is the delivery on the floor that everyone's worried about, that number goes up exponentially) -- but it's been fab since then.

He's my calmest and the happiest kid I know. He's slow to anger and quick to volunteer to help. He sees the best in everyone and loves with a pure heart.

Happy B-day Bikey-boy!!! We sure love you!

Announcing Christian Connection Thursdays!

With great excitement, I announce the start of a weekly feature here at Hunyville Happenings, it's a new step for me in the bloggy world and I'm very excited about it! Every Thursday I will feature a post from a Christian woman's blog that has impacted me. I'm calling it Christian Connection Thursdays (I'd love a better name, but I'm not gonna hold the whole process up another week just because I don't love the moniker.)

Here's the background behind the new feature. 
Growing up in northern Utah, I had very little direct experience with anyone who wasn't LDS. Because of that, all of my examples of powerful women of faith were Mormon. Now, I knew, intellectually, that there were people of great faith in every religion, but knowing it in your head and experiencing it in real life are two very different things.

I have lived in the midwest for almost ten years now. I count strong women of faith, who are not LDS as some of my dearest friends and their examples are a great blessing to me. Recently, I've jumped into the world of Christian women bloggers more fully and have loved, loved, loved what I've found there. The beauty and grace and example of good, strong, holy Christian women is something that we, as Mormon women, should be aware of and share, and savor, and celebrate and allow to bless our lives (because it will, in beautiful ways).

That's what Christian Connection Thursdays are all about, acquainting ourselves with these good ladies. Check back tomorrow to meet a truly amazing woman.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

One More Egg

I had a brain blip the other day and failed to post a picture of the coolest Easter egg of the day. Hubders only decorated one egg, but it's quite the egg! He dyed it and then used permanent markers to make this replica of a mosaic from one of the side chapels in the Cathedral Basilica of St Louis. He downloaded a picture from the internet and then drew it free hand. Yup, that MY man!!!

Perusing the Page

Oh the joys of reading! It's one of my very favorite things, and so crucial to academic, social and spiritual growth. So, as a mom, how do I pass my love of the written word on to my children.

Here are my thoughts on the subject:

1. Read with them. Often! From birth to the day they leave home.

2. Read good quality children's literature. I have only one criteria for determining if a book is good quality, but it's served me well. If I can enjoy reading a book repeatedly to my children, it's good quality. If the second or third reading makes me want to put it through the shredder, it's not. I try never to buy poor quality books. Why spend money on something I will loathe reading to my munchkins?

3. Make it interesting and fun. We've all been stuck in that history class where the aging coach reads the textbook day after day in his monotonous drone. Don't ever do that to your kids. You're in the privacy of your own home, ham it up, for heaven's sake! Give unusual characters funny voices, use lots of inflection, pause at the right places for maximum suspenseful impact, etc. Your voice will bring the story to life if there's life in your voice. Don't know how? Don't worry, it's a skill that can be learned with practice (and you'll never have a more forgiving audience than your wee ones). Note: Did you know that the concept of silent reading is a modern invention? In ancient times reading was always done with both your eyes and ears. Have you experienced the fact that your ears can tell you things about a story that your eyes can't?

4. Start reading novels to your children at a young age. Picture books are one of my favorite things. However, children as young as 4 can start to participate in the world of chapter books. You may need to talk frequently about what is going on and review the plot each time you pick it up. All the better! Encourage your children to ask questions. It will improve their communication skills. And don't be afraid to read books to your children that are a little above them. It's good for them to listen "up".

5. Have books in your home. Use the library on a regular basis. Purchase books for birthdays and Christmas*. You'll be surprised how fast your library grows! Having books in your home not only sends the message that books are important, it gives children the opportunity to peruse books at their leisure.

6. Read yourself. If you're like me, you don't need to be told this. Instead, you need to get your nose out of your book a bit more and take the kids to the park (or wash the dishes). But too many busy moms never seem to find the time to lose themselves in the written word. It's truly one of life's joys and our little ones should see our passion for reading.

The essence of my philosophy is this: A young child who has been to far away places, experienced thrilling adventures, overcome daunting obstacles, witnessed hilarious antics and met fascinating people, all as your voice brings the words on page to life, may still have difficulty with the mechanics of learning to read, but they will not need to be convinced that reading is important. The desire to read will a part of them. They will be eagerly anticipating the day when they can enter the world of books on their own.

How do you help your children develop a love a reading?

* Books are expensive, so unless you know it's good quality, check it out of the library first. I almost never buy a book from a bricks and mortar store (although I love to look at books there). Most of my purchasing, however, happens at websites such as this one or this one, and even this one, where I can find new and gently used books for bargain prices.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Eat up!

It's either feast or famine with me. No posts for a long time and then BAM two in one day. But reading has a particular hold on me at the moment and it's time to blog about it.

I adore, with my whole heart and soul, reading to my children. We've read from day one and I don't stop until they leave home. Some of my sweetest memories are connected to the books we've read.

Here's a smattering:

I remember reading the Chronicles of Narnia with my first three at the bus stop every day as we waited for Daddy to come home from work. Hubder's said it became every one's favorite stop. They'd watch the daily ritual of the three munchkins running across the grass, big smiles on their faces as they joyfully called to Daddy over and over. Everyone would all hug his knees at once as he stepped off the bus. I loved seeing the whole soul love that my little ones daily showered on their dad. Note: Please, please, read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe first!!! I mean it. It's so much cooler that way. Your children will thrill to the ah-ha moments when they read The Magician's Nephew, but only if they've read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe first. Read them in the order they were originally published. Trust me on this one!

Ruggles was only three when he could quote all of Where the Wild Things Are. I can still hear his little voice, wrapping itself around those words, changing his voice when woarwing his tewwible woarws. Some extended family asked to hear it, but the book wasn't with us. No problem. He sat up on the couch, opened his hands like a book and read the whole thing, turning imaginary pages in the appropriate places. Oh, to have that on video!

My children came to love Joseph Smith as we read the Work and the Glory. And I will never forget the Memorial day when we found Amanda Smith's grave right next to their great, great, great, great, great grandmothers, the very day after we read of the Haun's Mill Massacre. Their eye's lit up as history came to life for a moment.

As we read Number the Stars, I watched my children bristle at the injustice of the Nazi's and savor the bravery of ten year old Annemarie. It's a beautiful thing when a mother gets an insight into the growing conscience of her children.

It still brings a smile to my face when I think of Tough Guy, as a teenager, plopping down on the couch with The Trust Williams Series. He only did it when he'd had a bad day. He'd open the book up to a random page, start reading, laugh out loud for a few minutes, then get up with a smile on his face and move on with a good attitude (what a blessing for a mother!)

I could go on, but this post is already longer than anyone is gonna want to read. Suffice to say, reading has been an integral part of our home. Our lives have been richer and happier and more hilarious because books have abounded.

What are you reading to your kids?

Internet again!

We have a decent internet connection again!!!!! Woo-hooo!

This post won't thrill anyone. It's barely going to get proof read (no extra time today!) No thoughtful ideas, nuthin' funny. Okay, now that all but my family and a smattering of closest friends are left, here are some things that I really wanted to post about and some pics to go along with them.

My oldest, Tough Guy and his adorable wife, Cutie Pie, just did a Mexican cruise with her family. They bought us these hilarious masks. Cutie Pie didn't understand why Tough Guy was insistent that these were the perfect thing to give us. But he knows us and we're just weird that way!
Side note: Hubders taught Jared Hess in seminary, so we, of course own Napolean Dynamite, but, I confess, I don't have any use for it. Nacho Libre, however is hilarious (in an incredibly embarrassing kind of way!)

Here's Girlie Whirl in mask #1
Bikey-boy in mask #2
No cool stories, nuthin' profound with this next picture. But it's a picture of my sis who came and spent a week with us (she's holding my adorable new niece). Muff (we've called her that since she was one year old!) is a fabulous, funny, caring person and having in her my life is a beautiful thing. It's a full 20 hour drive from her house to mine, so visits are few and far between. We had a blast!!! Come back soon, girl!!

No school on friday, so we invited my sis and our neighbors to the north (our two favorite families to play with), to decorate Easter eggs. It was two full hours of creative juices flowing everywhere (yup, some of them even flowed into my lap in the form of blue dye. It washed out of the pants just fine, but parts of me looked like a smurf for days!)

Here are pictures and short explanations of the three methods we used.

These ones were dyed normally and then artist tissue paper (not the wrapping paper kind) was applied to the damp egg. After they dried the paper was peeled off. Very fun way to decorate eggs!! Thanks sis!

Duck tape was used to mask off parts of the egg and then the eggs were dyed. (again, sis's idea)

These were dyed with silk ties. We did this last year and I wanted to try it again. Opening them up once they've cooled is so fun! You never know what you're gonna get.