Friday, March 25, 2011

Pictures for Grandma

My mom asked for pictures of the kids (assuming she wouldn't be able to recognize them at the airport next time we visit) so I thought I'd do a post of our recent activities.

 Playing with Lincoln. Of course.

 Emma LOVES the game Memory and asks to play it constantly. Really. I mean constantly.

I took Jeremy on a play date to the children's museum (and by consequence, Emma and Lincoln). So here are a few pictures of the kids from that day. Most are of Emma because she kept running off anytime I wasn't super glued to her side. Jeremy spent most of the time with his friend, Arthur and his dad.

 Jeremy wouldn't enter the sand pit. After several attempts to get him to go in I finally gave up. I thought it was because he was having his "social issues" where he just didn't want to play with other kids, but when we left he told me it was because he didn't want sand in his clothes and then have to go to school in dirty clothes. Makes sense.

 We've also been experiencing more snow.
I've been fighting against it though and refuse to wear my coat most days.
And see that blasted orange piece of something I'm not supposed to say sitting there at the end of my drive? It's been there for about a month at least. Will someone from the city please finish the street so I can back out of my driveway without worrying about hitting that huge thing? I mean really, the snow is gone now, and won't be back for a couple days. Do something now!!
 Quick! Seriously, the drive from the city buildings isn't that far from me. See those houses behind the orange thing? Those are the city hall.

 And here's Emma with her black eye. She tripped at a friend's house two Sundays ago and hit her eye against a train table. She doesn't even realize it's there, so that is good. But now she's got a scratch above the same eye because she took her stick horse and knocked down a picture frame from the mantle. It landed on her head before breaking on the carpet. Or maybe it was her hard head that broke it after all.

 And in baby news, Lincoln rolled over!!

 He was going for the blanket you see on the far right. He was very excited when he finally got it.

The only other thing I've got pictures of that we've been up to is that I've made more of those little wooden peg dolls.  I bought this serving tray at Joann Fabrics for half off and then bought some sheet metal at Home Depot. I cut it to fit in the tray, glued it in, and ta-da! The magnets I glued on the bottom of the dolls after I painted them stick to the sheet metal and have made for lots of play time for the girls.

I actually have one ore doll that I made for them, but the magnet fell off, so I have to glue it again.

I had Nathan drill into two of them and then thread ribbons through little metal things we screwed into the holes to make necklaces.

I'll get a picture of the girls wearing the necklaces later. They are asleep right now.

Well, Grandma, I hope those pictures will last you for a little while :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

I Double Dog Dare You

Have you ever seen this video with Brian Regan? He talks about how serving sizes are too small. Last night we were playing a game with some friends and brought out a huge bag of M&Ms. They were just the plain kind (I like peanut better), but still, they were chocolate. After a couple small handfuls we started reading some of the nutritional information on the bag. A serving size of M&Ms is a quarter cup. A quarter cup! I of course, being a girl and able to pack away a lot of chocolate, scoffed at the idea of a quarter cup being a serving size and announced that I could eat a quarter cup of M&Ms in one handful. Nathan, who of course has a much better understanding of measurements, said I could not. We went back and forth a little bit and then he did it. He dared me to eat a quarter cup of M&Ms in one go.

Usually I don't take Nathan up on his dares. He usually offers to pay me $50 to $100 for his dares, but they are things like, "Eat one of Lincoln's boogers" and then I say no.

He offered no payment for this one. I guess he thought the chocolate would be payment enough.

Anyway, I stood up, went to the kitchen for the appropriate measuring cup, and dug out the M&Ms. I poured them into my hand to see just how much bigger than a normal handful it was. It overflowed a bit and to be honest, I got a little nervous. But only a little. I still thought I could do it, even if it was more M&Ms than I'd expected.

I poured the M&Ms back into the measuring cup and left them on the table for a bit. I got a cup of milk in an attempt to rid my mouth of lingering chocolate taste from the candies I'd already eaten. I wanted to wait until I really wanted more chocolate and wasn't just eating them because they were in front of me.

Well, that didn't happen. I mentioned in the beginning that we were playing a game during this. Well, Nathan did something in the game that ticked me off. I don't remember exactly what it was, maybe he killed my Congenial Bunny or something, but I got mad, grabbed the measuring cup full of M&Ms and began downing it.










But I did it. There were two M&Ms that got stuck in the measuring cup. I sat there shaking the cup and trying to hit it against my mouth without knocking the M&Ms overflowing from my mouth out. They wouldn't budge. So one of our friends grabbed two more from the bag and I added them to my mouth. (The two in the cup were wet with my spit, hence her not grabbing the two from in the cup.)

I may never eat another M&M as long as I live.

At least not the plain ones.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Book Review-- Star Scout Rising: First Trail by Gary Darby

I'll be honest, the cover terrifies me and every time I put the book down, I placed it upside down so my kids wouldn't see it
Gary Darby's first novel, Star Scout Rising: First Trail, is a science-fiction tale about a young man trying to establish an identity for himself that is separate from the bad rap associated with his father. Del Baldura is part of an organization called Star Scouts. He and his team of Junior Scouts are working to learn about a terrifying alien creature in an area that should be empty of other people when the unthinkable happens. One of their team members is kidnapped by poachers. All the while, another set of villains have their own plans. This leads them to another adventure in what Darby calls "Out There" in reference to outer space.

The Star Scouts appear to be an organization somewhere between the Boy Scouts, the military, and Starfleet of Star Trek. They boldly go where no one has gone before, they go in peace, and they go to learn and discover. I liked Darby's main character, Del. He was a well thought out and believable character. Darby also had an incredibly evil character, who was just a little too much for me. I like my villains less obvious with their cruelty and selfishness, but that might just be me and my wimpiness. I think it would have helped me if I saw the villain from someone else's view point instead of being in the villain's head for those scenes.

Being that I'm not really a Star Trek fan, don't know anything about the military (yet--give me another year and we'll be there), and I was never a Boy Scout, most of the book is new to me. I think the idea is original and fresh--putting these programs together to make something new and then putting them in space for awesomeness.

There were some things I really struggled with while reading the book which are apparently not a big deal to other readers who have reviewed this book--it's received a lot of positive reviews. There was a great need for another pair of eyes for an edit before publishing this book. There were enough grammatical, punctuation, and formatting issues that it was constantly taking me out of the story. I had to work too hard to get back into it. If those errors had been caught previous to publishing the story, I know I would have liked the book a lot more because I would have been able to focus more on the characters and what they were doing instead of sitting there with a pencil and marking out, through, or writing notes. I couldn't help myself.

Other than the major typos in the book there was only one other thing that made the story difficult for me, and that was the blatant and obvious use of LDS scripture and innuendo. While I don't have a problem reading LDS fiction or nonfiction, or even a story with LDS scripture or innuendo, I want said book to be marketed as an LDS fiction, non-fiction, or obviously about about Mormons. I felt like Darby was trying to preach Mormon scripture without telling his readers what he was going to be doing.

Taking away the printing errors and religious innuendo, the book was exciting with characters that were fun (except the scary villain!) and interesting. The book doesn't come close to answering all my questions at the end, but rather leaves us with more questions than we started with. However, that's ok because Darby is already working on the sequel as this book is part of a trilogy.

You can learn more about the author here or purchasing info here (or here for Kindle).

Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for review, but this did not influence my opinion.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mere Motherhood, Part 2

Thank you for the comments and notes with the votes of confidence. I appreciate them all. Truth is, I know I'm not a horrible mom, but there are days where I feel like I am and I think that is normal, unfortunately. I know my kids are really good kids. For the most part they are polite and care about others. They have their days and times, but for the most part are really good.

I think the problems I have with them are normal problems for a lot of parents and children. I just get discouraged when trying to improve myself and them and I don't see it as quickly as I would like to. It's scary knowing that the big things that bug me about my own kids are the things that I really can't stand about myself and have thus far been unable to change, despite years of trying. And then there's the whole exhausted thing. I guess if I went to bed at 7PM like Emma I could run around the house, shaking my head, sticking out my tongue, and displaying other forms of silliness, but I don't. I'm often tired and grumpy because I go to bed late. I'm often hungry because I forget to eat until 3 or 4 and then realize if I eat then (because I'm ravenous and can't seem to eat something small), I won't be hungry for dinner. But I keep doing it. I go to bed late because the only time I get to read, write, sew, or spend time with Nathan or friends is after 7:30 at night.

So, no worries. I know I'm not horrible. How can a mother who agrees to play 50 rounds of Memory be horrible?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mere Motherhood

There are days (weeks, months, years) where I feel like I will never be the mom I want to be. It's only Tuesday and I'm ready to give up on the week. I know what I'm supposed to do.

be patient
talk kindly and with a soft voice
make nutritious meals and make them on time
read more to my kids, let them watch less tv (or movies for us since we don't have cable)
play enriching games with them so they will learn and know that I want to spend time with them
use a time out method instead of spanking
be consistent
encourage questions
encourage messy play
when one of them has a problem, be a child psychiatrist and help them figure out the answer on their own, or make them think they figured it out
schedule play dates for them with their friends and then return those play dates by inviting their friends here
let them help out around the house and give them responsibilities, helping them follow through on those responsibilities
read from the scriptures with them every day
have family prayer every day
help them make forts
help them play their video games
help them play boardgames
be imaginative with them
encourage them to discover their talents
when one is disobedient, know exactly what to do to help them see where they went wrong, what they should have done, and how to fix it. and do it all with the soft, kind voice and without the spanking

The list could go on. Some of these things are just a matter of making myself do them: playing more, reading more, encouraging messy play--and some of these things are downright confusing: such as being a child psychiatrist (oh my goodness, Jeremy makes we wish I'd stuck with psychology as a major), getting them to accept responsibilities, getting timeouts to actually work. . . .

Others it seems like the world works against me: family scripture study and prayer

Some I do really well with one day and awful the next (consistency problem). Others, I'll be honest, I simply don't want to do: encourage questions (only sometimes), video games, forts, (gasp) invite their friends over.

These days I have a really hard time getting past these failures. I know I should try to look past them, say I'll do better tomorrow, or get myself involved in some service for others, but I've tried to look past them, do better tomorrow, and if I get involved in service for someone else then I've got one more thing to tell my kids to not bother me over because I've got to get a meal made for someone else or bring something to some activity or whatever it is.

How in the world is this to be done and not end each day feeling like crap?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tie Dyed Cookies

This is only what's left (read: rejects I didn't take to the chili cook off), but the kids and I made two different types of cookies yesterday. The first was a lime cookie dusted in powdered sugar which I found on Martha's website. She does a cookie of the day thing. The other cookie recipe also came from her website. I think she called them Art Cookies, or something like that. "Each one is a masterpiece" or some phrase like that. Anyway, I call them tie dye cookies. Basically you make sugar cookie dough, roll it out, cut squares with a pizza cutter, and then let the kids put one drop of dye on each dough square at a time. Then they blow through a straw onto the dye to make it move around on the dough. Some of their creations looked really cool. I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of all of them before we left for the cook off (of which I was one of the winners! Yay!).

So while this is a kid-friendly cookie making activity, Emma is sadly still too young to participate. She started drinking the dye and her right arm is still yellow. Emma was, well, Emma yesterday.

But I think you should try making these cookies with some kiddos sometime. Personally, I'm not about to eat them. I'm not a fan of sugar cookies unless they are soft and have good frosting. I'm also not a fan of food coloring. But if you don't mind your kids' teeth looking blue and green while eating a cookie, try it :)