Monday, August 29, 2011

Weekly Quote 8/29/11

"There is a beauty and clarity that comes from simplicity that we sometimes do not appreciate in our thirst for intricate solutions."

I have to admit something. I found this quote and thought it was beautiful. So I shared it on my blog. And then I did what I always do, I didn't update for a long time. So I thought, "Oh, it's time to change the quote of the week!" And when I looked at that quote, I couldn't remember for the life of me where it came from. QUOTE FAIL. And then I avoided the whole thing for a few more weeks. Doesn't avoidance make problems go away? No? Oh. That explains so much!

It turns out it's from President Uchtdorf's talk, Of Things That Matter Most. New quote up!


As it turns out, July is blueberry picking season in these parts. Since we all love blueberries, we had to take advantage of this opportunity, and went twice. Our first venture (the one we actually got pictures of) was right at the beginning of the season. There weren't as many ripe berries yet, though there were plenty for our needs. Julia and Ella were done picking after about 45 minutes. We got about a pound and a half. The second time we went there were a lot more berries, and we did our best to get as many as we could in our 45 minute window. 4 pounds. Not bad, when you consider we had to keep a close eye on the girls so they wouldn't go wandering off, and Julia kept spilling her bucket. But I do wish it was more! I love them, so!

I think my favorite part is you get to eat as many as you want while you are picking. Ella got her money's worth, let me tell you. Of course, some of them might not have been ripe, and some were from the ground, but she still got plenty of good ones.

And while we're talking about it, eating a blueberry straight from the bush when it's been warmed in the sun? It's like a little blueberry pie in your mouth. Heaven.

I have a strong feeling this is going to become an annual tradition.

A Trip to the Zoo

Back in June, we went to the zoo! (Wow, June? I'm terrible at this blogging thing.) We have been to multiple zoos since then, but I don't think I actually took pictures at any of those zoos. (Wow, really? No pictures? I'm terrible at this "recording for posterity" thing.)

ANYWAY. The point is, we went to the zoo in Saginaw. Suzanne was thoughtful enough to get us a membership for Christmas, and we have loved using it!

This is a small zoo. A very small zoo. But it turns out it is the perfect size for my two little girls. We can see everything in the zoo before they start to get tired and bored. And, they have a carousel! And a train! And if you are a member, you get to ride both of those for free! Julia picked the bunny.

The horse just to the side that you can barely see? That would be a CSA horse. Meaning a Confederate States of America horse. Yes I am serious. It had the stars and bars on the side and everything. I was about to take a picture, when someone actually sat on the horse, and I thought picture taking would have been awkward.

We also saw some animals. Like these tortoises. Julia's favorite are the otters. She will go on and on about the otters. Just ask her, I dare you.

Hooray for the zoo!

4th of July

I just took a little look at my dashboard and found some unpublished posts from over a month ago. AWESOME WORK, SHAN! I went to all the trouble of uploading pictures, and then never did anything else. So now, we play catch up.

Hey, remember the 4th of July? We had a great time that day. I made this fabulous flag cake that I had been dying to make since I saw it last year:

A little flag on every plate! It was really quite fun to make. Of course, we didn't have a great opportunity to share it with people, but we enjoyed it ourselves, and we took a few pieces to our neighbors.

Shall I introduce you to our son?

We thought it would be great to dress the girls up in red, white, and blue, but it turns out that Julia has no red in her wardrobe, and when Ella is attired in those colors she looks like a boy. (Would she be called "Ello?") Poor kid needs to grow some hair.

But back to the holiday. We made the insane decision to keep the girls up late for fireworks. Ella gets crazy busy as she gets more tired. CRAZY. BUSY. She starts running around in circles. One day, she was literally running back and forth in our living room, sucking on a toy car. And she normally goes to bed at 6/6:30. So by 8:30, she was in crazy mode. This did not bode well for staying up well past 10 for fireworks. But we put our heads down and powered through.

And it was all worth it for that moment when the fireworks started and she tilted her little head back, mouth agape, and stared in awe. That giant, open mouth grin was worth it all.

Julia had a great time, too. We watched them from the church, so there were kids to play with and sparklers and all sorts of fun to be had.

Friday, August 26, 2011

From Chaos. . . More Chaos.

My house is a disaster. Not just today. Not just this week. Always. I live in a disaster zone. Toys cover the floors in every room. Little pieces are scattered throughout the house. Papers and books and other junk are on every counter. The counters are, in fact, overflowing, because that is the one place Ella can't reach. EVERYTHING has to go up there.

Apparently I wasn't meant to have more than 2 kids. Because I can't seem to get ahead with the two of them around.

I think it might be easier just to move. Leave all our stuff behind and buy new stuff, but less of it. Is that an option?

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

30 by 30 Wrap Up (sort of)

Well, as yesterday was my 30th birthday, the deadline has passed; the window is closed; 30 by 30 is over.

In case you were counting? I got 25 out of 30. Not 30 by 30. FAIL.

In all fairness, it was a daunting list. There were a lot of things on there that I knew I'd have a hard time completing. Would you like a recap of the things I didn't get done?

#10: Find a family name to take to the temple.
  • It turns out my family has done a lot of family history. I have no idea where to even begin on finding a family name to take to the temple. Granted, I didn't try too hard on this one, but only because I have tried in the past and had absolutely zero success. Also, with 2 small children, finding time is a tricky task. Lack of time, lack of direction.
#21: Learn to play all the hymns on the organ.
  • I have 88 hymns left on this one (I didn't count the men's or women's hymns at the back of the book, in case you were wondering). I tried my best to steadily cross hymns off, but in the end it wasn't quite enough. It turns out practicing the organ is hard with, once again, 2 small children. Julia is content to play in the chapel (irreverent? maybe.), but I simply can't let Ella run around because she doesn't navigate stairs well. So after about 15 minutes of practice time, Ella has had it. Generally this means I only practice what I'm going to play in the upcoming Sacrament Meeting. Which is usually not something that needs to be crossed off my list.
#22: Learn to play a new song on the guitar.
  • I made the rookie mistake of learning my ukulele song first. The ukulele is much easier than the guitar. Much, MUCH easier. So I figured I could whip out a guitar song in a day or two, only to discover that it hurts my fingers, and there are all these extra strings to worry about, and I couldn't do it in time for my birthday.
#25: Learn to play the William Tell Overture.
  • Remember how our piano is not in our house? And remember that whole small children thing? This did not lend itself to practice time. Enough said.
#26: Visit Chicago.
  • I really really hoped we could squeeze this one in, but it wasn't meant to be. I kept telling Clark that we had to take this trip before we went to Utah, because after Utah it just wouldn't happen. And he kept saying that he felt like we just couldn't do it before, it would have to be after. But it turns out no one wants to go on vacation the week after they got back from vacation (especially when you'd have to plan the whole thing in 4 days), so this one will have to wait a while longer.
I found it somewhat disappointing that I didn't finish all the musical tasks. I thought they were going to be some of the easiest ones. It all came down to time. There is never enough of it!

I am hopeful that I can finish these up sometime in the next month or so. I should probably give myself a deadline, because if I don't have one, I don't do it. The music ones I know I can do within the month. The other two are a little more out of my control. I'll post it when I complete them.

Monday, August 08, 2011

30 by 30, #23: Learn to play a new song on the ukulele

In case you aren't familiar with the 30 by 30 Project, here is the original post, with the big fat list.

I've done this one, I just haven't recorded it on video yet. "If I Fell," by The Beatles. I have a hard time figuring out the vocals at the beginning, so I haven't felt ready to record it. But the ukulele playing is up to snuff! I thought I should put up there that I've done it by the deadline. More details forthcoming.

30 by 30, #5: Climb a tree

In case you aren't familiar with the 30 by 30 Project, here is the original post, with the big fat list.

I climbed a tree this evening. I think the last time I climbed a tree I was probably 6 or 7. And I think I have only ever climbed 2 trees in my life. I have a vague memory of someone falling out of a tree and breaking an arm, and that freaking me out to the point that I no longer had any desire to climb trees. It made me too nervous.

I was reminded of that nervousness as I was climbing the tree today.

I was not made to climb trees. I got up there, sure, and it wasn't terribly high. But man alive, I was nervous about falling. Clark asked if he could come up, too. I said, "Nope. Because I'm coming back down now."

So. I guess I challenged a fear by doing it. That's a good thing. But I certainly won't be doing it again any time soon.

30 by 30, #4: Play a full round of Frisbee golf

In case you aren't familiar with the 30 by 30 Project, here is the original post, with the big fat list.

I'm once again sort of cheating on this one. We have a disc golf course right in town, and I thought it would be so much fun to go try it out (knowing, of course, that I wouldn't be good by any means, but it's still fun to get out and try something new). But it turns out we have 2 children. And maybe we could have gotten a babysitter, but we have this complex about finding babysitters - mostly that we don't want to make the phone call and face rejection. Which is ridiculous, I know. So we brought the children. On a sunny, warm (very warm) Saturday afternoon. Can you see where this is going?

We got 5 rounds in, and then the kids were done.

But we still had a (mostly) fun time. If you take out Julia's whining about who knows what, we had a great time! Ella liked running around, I was terrible as predicted, but no one was watching so it didn't matter. We noticed that we weren't the typical golfers, but Clark has already blogged about that. Generally, I liked it. And I'd do it again. Maybe next time we'll get a babysitter and play a full rou

30 by 30, #8: Read and study all of Preach My Gospel

In case you aren't familiar with the 30 by 30 Project, here is the original post, with the big fat list.

I just now finished this one. Just now! I have felt for quite a while now that I should read Preach My Gospel, but I never seemed to get around to it. So I threw it on the list.

I thought that Clark and I should read and study it together. Well, that worked out for a little while, but then we'd get distracted and forget to read, and put it off, and suddenly it was July and I knew that this was no small task, reading this book. So I set out to read it on my own.

It really was no small task. Holy smokes, there was a lot to read. A lot of scriptures. A lot of studying. But I did it. I did it all. Clark and I read the discussions together, all except lesson 5, the one missionaries teach after baptism. I read that on my own yesterday and today. And I finished it! I was getting a little worried about finishing this one up, let me tell you. But I did it! I squeaked another task in at the last minute!

30 by 30, #19: Learn to milk a cow

In case you aren't familiar with the 30 by 30 Project, here is the original post, with the big fat list.

Not much to say about this one. I had never done it before, but thanks to a trip to Wheeler Farm while we were in Utah, I did it. I was one of the idiots that couldn't figure it out right away, but eventually, I milked that cow. It was pretty fun, actually.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

30 by 30, #13: Read the complete works of Jane Austen

In case you aren't familiar with the 30 by 30 Project, here is the original post, with the big fat list.

Cheryl actually inspired this task. She mentioned she wanted to do it, and I thought it was a great idea. I read Pride & Prejudice in high school, though I'm not sure I finished it. I read Northanger Abbey in Jr. High, but I think it was a bit over my head, especially the satire. And I listened to Sense & Sensibility on CDs back when I was commuting from Provo to Sandy. And considering my great love of all movies made from these books, (particularly the ones Masterpiece Theater did a few years ago, wow those are good) I thought it was high time I actually read them.

For Christmas, Clark got me this beast of a book. 7 for the price of 1! To be fair, I didn't read Lady Susan. I figure if she didn't submit it for publication herself, it doesn't really count. Though maybe I'll read it one of these days. Anyway, 6 books. It took me from Christmas until mid-July to get through them all.

I started with Persuasion, because it was the shortest. Then we went to Mansfield Park, Emma, Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, and finally, Northanger Abbey. It was very interesting to start out with the lesser-read novels, and then read Pride & Prejudice, which is widely popular. You can see right away why it is so popular. It's very well written, and much more engaging than the first three I read.

I think Sense & Sensibility is my favorite. And I would go with Mansfield Park for my least favorite. But in general, I really liked them all. Glad I read them. Glad I finished them in time!

2 days. . .

. . . until my birthday. Prepare yourselves for a flurry of blogging, relating to my 30 by 30 project. I've been working like a mad woman to get these things done.

I'll save you the suspense: there is no way I'll get all 30 things crossed off by Monday. BUT, it'll be pretty close. Stay tuned.

30 by 30, #20: Make a denim quilt

In case you aren't familiar with the 30 by 30 Project, here is the original post, with the big fat list.

I've had a bin of old jeans sitting around since. . . well, since we moved to St George at least, maybe since we got married. A ridiculously long period of time. The plan was to make a denim quilt. I've been full of intentions and devoid of actions. I started cutting squares, oh, 2 years ago maybe. And then I never finished. So the time had come to actually get some work done.

I kind of feel like this is a 30 by 30 fail, because it's not a quilt yet. I still have to put something on the back and then quilt it. But there is a small problem, in that I don't really know how to do any of that, especially when I don't have any frames. Even if I did have frames, I'm still not sure where to begin on that project. So, fail.

But then again, I did complete the big nasty task of cutting all those squares and sewing them together. The big bin can now be re-purposed for something else. And really, that's what I was going for. So, not fail. Completion.

Here it is, the product of a bucketload of sewing during naptime.

It feels so good to have that dang quilt done (almost)!

Friday, August 05, 2011

30 by 30, #17: Create a new recipe.

In case you aren't familiar with the 30 by 30 Project, here is the original post, with the big fat list.

Note: I wrote this post back in May, and then never posted it in case I came up with a better recipe. I didn't. So here it is!

I really wasn't sure how this one would pan out. I'm not what you'd call a chef. I follow recipes pretty much to the letter. So I knew that creating a new recipe would be more like tweaking a recipe, and that is ok. It's a start, anyway.

I make pizza all the time, and we usually have either BBQ Chicken or Pepperoni. But last week I thought I'd try my hand at some sort of Ranch Chicken pizza. We had some leftover shredded chicken, and a tomato that needed to be eaten. So I made a pizza crust, slapped some ranch on it, added the chicken, some Monterey jack cheese, chopped tomato, and baked it up. It turned out. . . well, it was decent. I might even say good, though not great. I think it would have been better if the chicken had been cooked with some seasonings, or maybe if I'd added garlic salt on top, or something. It was a little bland. But like I say, it was a start, and it got me excited to experiment some more.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


I had this memorable moment today. One of those times when everything just seems right in the world and you take a step back and think, "Can it get more perfect than this?"

We went over to the Chippewa Nature Center this morning for a little "hike" and play time. It was a cloudy morning, looked like it could rain any second, but I really wanted the girls to have some outdoor time, and with no sun it was really quite pleasant out. So we headed out on the path through the forest. And thanks to the shady trees, it was even cooler on our walk. Delightful!

So we are all walking, even Ella, and it's like she has never seen anything so lovely and exciting before. Which, actually, might be a little bit true. Usually she is strapped in on these jaunts. She was right down with the flowers and the leaves and the dirt and the squirrels, and she could not have been happier. At one point, I found a big stick for Ella, and then another one for Julia. There we were, walking under the trees on a warm (but not hot), cloudy day, the girls each carrying their sticks and looking like they were in heaven.

And it was like I mentally (spiritually?) took a step back and thought, "These are the moments we live for. This is what makes it all worthwhile." To have both girls so incredibly happy and fulfilled, to be surrounded by such natural beauty, to have a moment of much desired peace? That, my friends, is pure joy.

It only lasted about one minute, maybe two, and then we were back to reality. Ella fell down and then needed to be held. Julia wanted in on that action too, but I didn't have enough hands. I got a couple of bug bites. But oh, that one minute, maybe two, is something I'll treasure for the rest of my life. It reminds me how grateful I am to be a mother, and how wonderful parenting really is. Also? I have a Heavenly Father who loves me. A lot.