Showing posts from January, 2009

I take it back

After two hours of handling 80 lbs. of fresh chicken breasts (99 cents a lb. today only), cutting off fat and putting it in freezer bags, I'm not finding this whole "preserving food" thing so satisfying. It sure is nice to have a year's worth of chicken in the freezer, but the process is just disgusting.

But I did get another batch of apples done, and my house smells divine.

Apples to Apples

There's something so satisfying about preserving food for the future. When it's combined with getting a great bargain, so much the better. Last night, I headed to a new market's grand opening. Their produce specials included 7 lbs of onions for $1 and apples for 25 cents a pound. I brought home a cart full of produce for about $20. I chose fresh onions, pears, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and huge, delicious apples.

This morning, I determined that my priorities, other than caring for my kids, would be to finish the yearbook pages (48 due tonight!) and dry the apples. I finished all but a few final edits by noon and after a busy afternoon and evening, I got my first set of apples cut, sliced, and into the dehydrating trays. Joey, Lillian, and I cleaned the kitchen after dinner, then Lillian helped by playing with Eliza, and Allison and Sarah parked themselves on the counter, ready to eat any slices that were odd-shaped or too thin. They loved helping me lay out the …

It's that time again . . .

I'm not a baby gate fan. Ditto on the playpens, superyards, and the like. There's something, I don't know, just confining about the whole thing. In fact, up until two years ago, we owned none of these items. We lived in a very open split-level house and when my babies started crawling, I'd just let them crawl around the family room a few steps down until they get up the guts to climb the stairs. Then I'd watch them like a hawk for a few months until they learned to crawl down the stairs.

At this house, I keep my babies on the main level, so I bought this gate two years ago for Eliza and now I put it up for Harmony. At 5.5 months old, she is now getting around fast enough and far enough that there's no more delaying the inevitable.

I don't like to put up barriers for my children. Oh, I'm all for structure and routines and such, but I've always believed that the best education for a baby is to explore their world and everything in it. We keep our eyes…

The Race for Number One

"Number One" was a phrase my father -- and for that matter, my mother -- repeated time and time again. It was a phrase spoken by my parents' friends and their friends' children . . . In the culture of my childhood, being best was everything. It was the goal that drove us, the motivation that gave life meaning. And if, by chance or fate or the blessings of a generous universe, you were a child in whom talent was evident, Number One became your mantra. It became mine.
How far would you push your child to be the best? I recently finished a book called Lang Lang: Journey of a Thousand Miles. I found it very moving and deeply disturbing. In it, Lang Lang, a gifted pianist from China, describes his childhood and the pressure on him to become number one, to be ranked first in every competition, to win, to be the best, not just in his city or in China, but in the whole world. His parents devote their whole lives to this pursuit. And Lang Lang, in the end, fulfills th…

I'm sorry, but I wasn't invited to your party.

My husband and I teach the four-year-old primary class in our Church (which includes these adorable twins named Sarah & Allison, but that's another story). We've been amused, confused, stunned, and amazed by what these little people tell us sometimes.

Today, I asked Drew, whose mother is expecting her third boy any day now, if he's excited about their new baby. "Yes," he said. "We're having a party when the baby's born and I'm inviting all my friends. But I asked my mom and dad, and you're not invited. You can't come watch when my mom has the baby."

So, I'm a little bit bummed that I'm missing out on all the fun. It sounds like all of Drew's friends are going to be there, but not us. Should I take offense?

Riding the Beast

Every Sunday we play a game around here. It's called, "Do you think the van will start today?" Most weeks it does, but there's some it doesn't. Then we check the clock, see if we have time to charge the 15-passenger beast, and decide whether to take two cars to Church instead.

Don't blame the van. Sure it's old and a bit battered, but you can't blame it for being temperamental. After all, we use it only once a week to get to Church and neglect it most of the rest of the time. Like a toddler wanting attention, it's entitled to a few tantrums, especially when we don't run it often enough to charge the battery.

And when we really need it, like when we're on vacation together, it runs like a champ. Sure, we had that door-won't-close incident last October and that time when we ran out of gas while going up a hill in California, pulling to the side of the road at the top of the hill as the van sputtered and (almost) died. As we said a …


A good friend of mine is expecting her sixth child any day now. Her due date is February 2nd, but since all but one of her kids thus far has been two weeks early, we're all anxiously waiting for the phone call telling us little Charlie has been born. On Friday, she was invited to a sister-in-law's house for a few hours. When she returned home, the house had been cleaned, down to the fingerprints wiped off the walls and the microwave cleaned out. The sweet elves left this note:

We heard that you’d been nesting
When you were supposed to be resting

We didn’t think it would be fair
For you to do more than your share

So we brought over our cleaners and brooms
Broke in and polished your rooms!

We hope you’ll forgive our invasion
But we wanted this occasion

To be just right for you,
Charlie, and all of us too!

Just in case you're wondering what to get that frazzled mom-of-many when her new baby comes, this made my friend's day.

Fitting it all in . . .

Sometimes there seems like more things to be done than there is day to do them in, and lately, I've felt stretched a lot and frustrated trying to do it all. Of particular concern for me has been fitting in time to exercise and watching what I eat better. We got a treadmill for Christmas, and I'm determined to get back to my ideal weight before August, when I'll probably quit nursing and become pregnant again (at least that's been the pattern!). So far, it's been working, and I've slowly but surely lost 4 pounds the last two and a half weeks. However, it's been at great cost to my calm, organized days. Finding time to exercise and resisting the urge to snack at my most exhausted moments has taken a ton of effort, and it's cost me a lot of sleep.

Finding the right time to exercise has been one the hardest challenges. Our family wakes up at 6:45 for scriptures, and I just plain don't have the willpower to wake up any earlier than that, especially …

Feeding the One

Since the last title was feeding the five thousand, what better title for this post? We started Harmony on solids yesterday, and it was so fun. I know all too soon this spoon-feeding every bite will become a bit of a chore, but let me, just for today, relish this adorable little girl. She's growing up way too fast.

Feeding the Five Thousand

Lately I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the tasks that rest squarely on my shoulders -- important things like setting the tone for kindness in our home, preparing healthy meals, and teaching our children to become responsible with their chores, as well as small things like reminding my four-year-olds to use the potty before they have an accident, cleaning up after said accidents, making sure we don't run out of diapers or fruit, re-organizing every room in this house, picking up after all but one of my kids (we have one child who is just naturally neat. Weird, I know), hounding my kids to pick up after themselves, finding time to exercise daily, remembering not to bark at my husband when he doesn't appreciate me enough, and so on.

I've been reading a book called Celebration. I was touched last night by this story:

"My daughter Julia, who is expecting her tenth child, makes seven school lunches every morning. It is a job she has disliked so much it was …

Any good family movies out there?

We don't have television at our house. Oh, we have a TV and a DVD player and even one of those things, oh, what are they called, VCRs? But we don't get any channels. Every other year, we get television service for the month of the Olympics, and we gorge ourselves on shows.

We do watch movies around here, and it seems like lately, the kids are watching the same ones and are tired of them. We got a few new ones for Christmas, like Kung-Fu Panda and Alvin & the Chipmunks, but neither has the staying power of, say, Enchanted or The Incredibles.

So I'm looking around for some good family shows for my kids. Seen anything good lately?

Time for a new menu plan

(Note: this is also posted over at Full House)

It's the first of the year, and for me, that means making goals, revising chore charts, cleaning out junk, organizing, and in general, hoping that somehow, this year I can keep the chaos to a minimum. This is the year I plan on being the perfect wife, homemaker, mother, and friend. I'm going to exercise, stick to my own cleaning schedule, lose weight, serve healthy meals, keep a clean house, read scriptures daily, serve others, speak kindly, read with my kids more, and bring about world peace.

Of course, I won't actually be perfect at any of those things, but one can always try, right? My first plan of attack is revising my basic menu plan. I've used a system for several years now that I was introduced to by Marie Ricks. I've tried regular scheduled menus in the past, but her system was simpler and easier. As she put it at the beginning of the class, "Today I'm going to teach you how to know what to co…