Friday, December 15, 2006

Tony's Ship Models

(Click on any of these photos to see them enlarged)

I like to share things I think that are really neat on my blog, especially if they have anything to do with family. My father in law, Grandpa Tony, has an amazing hobby. He builds historically accurate, scale ship models. From scratch. Yes, he does start with a kit, but since the kit is basically a set of plans and a very roughly shaped wooden hull, I still consider that from scratch.

Having spent his summers on the beach of Cape Cod, and being an experienced sailor himself, he loves all things ship and boat. I like to think that, as he builds them, he enjoys imagining what it would have been like to be one of the men that once sailed on them.

The detail work he does is amazing. The little rescue boat here that hangs off the side of the ship is only a little bigger than my finger. (Can you find it in the very top photo? It gives some idea of the size of this model.) All the rigging is carefully done by hand, with tiny mini pulleys. The mesh ladder ropes are not purchased mesh, but are carefully made completely by hand, one knot at a time. Obviously, these boats are a labor of love and take enormous amounts of time to complete. And each one he makes seems even more amazing than the last. Here is just one of his previous models:

I was surprised to learn that there are many people out there with this same hobby. In fact, Tony belongs to a group,
The Ship Model Society of Northern New Jersey, that regularly gets together to share tips and show off their work.

I'm going to do a separate blog about his latest boat, one that has been featured in the society's newsletter,The Broadaxe, and is named after my mother in law, Sally. It's a fun one!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Works for Me Wednesday: Puzzle/Book Center

I love wooden puzzles and books for toddlers and preschoolers. I've collected quite a few, but if I left them all out where my kids could reach them, they exploded into a huge mess all over the room. If I put them up out of reach, they seemed to rarely get used.

With Elsie I have come up with this solution:

In her room she has a puzzle/book play center. I keep the wooden puzzles in a plastic tub. On the lid of the tub I have a smaller tub of board books. Next to it is a child sized chair and on the floor I often put a nice crib size quilt to sit on.

Every day or two, we get out a new puzzle from the tub. Sometimes she plays with it on the floor, but usually she plays with it standing at the chair like a little table. She has free access to the books in the tub, and the tub makes them easy for her to put them in and out. The weight of the book tub and the difficulty of lifting the lid of the puzzle tub, keeps the puzzles out of her reach, but easy for me to get them out and, more importantly, to remember to get them out! It is a favorite place for us to spend time together, too!

Works for Me! At least until she gets strong enough to open that tub...

(Be sure to check out Shannon's blog for more great Works for Me ideas!)

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Works For Me Wednesday: Free Holiday Decor

I love the fun holiday crafts my kids come home with. School teachers can come up with the cutest ideas! But, what do you do with them? You can't save every piece of artwork your kids ever make, but it seems a shame to throw them out after the holiday is over. So, we save ours with the holiday decorations and decorate the house with them. I always write the child's name and grade on the back, so we remember who made what. The kids get a big kick out of seeing not only the things they made, but also the things their teenaged sibling made in 1st grade, etc. And taping them up is a decorating activity that they can easily do themselves. Naturally, after years of use, many of the decorations start to fall apart and need to be discarded at the end of the season, but I no longer feel bad about chucking them, since we have been able to get many years of enjoyment out of them!

Works for Me!

Be sure to check out more Works for Me Wednesday ideas at Shannon's Rocks in Her Dryer!

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Christmas Open House

My Christmas Decorations are up!

Decorating for Christmas is one tradition that I will probably never skip or simplify. I really enjoy creating a Christmasy atmosphere in our home. I start decorating the day after Thanksgiving, and work on it when I can. I have a lot of fun decorations, mostly because my DH's family loves to give them as gifts, many of them homemade. It took longer this year than normal, probably because I'm pregnant and Elsie hasn't been sleeping well, so I've been a bit more tired than usual. Here are some of the results:

(My mother made this quilt. My husband made the bed for us one year for our anniversary.)

I enjoyed when everyone shared their Autumn decorations with me, so I thought it would be fun to share Christmas decorations, as well! Post images of your decor on your blog and link to it here, and we'll all come visit! I'm starting the links off with my favorite non-blog site for inspiration: the photo gallery at the Colonial Williamsburg website. Someday I will be visiting that place at Christmas time!

And if you haven't been able to decorate much this year, I want to share with you the words a wise friend shared with me when I lamented about how long it was taking me to finish decorating: "It only takes hanging one wreath to let people know you are a Christian. And if you don't put up many decorations, you are giving the gift of making your neighbor's decorations look better."

So, grab some hot chocolate and some sugar cookies and enjoy some sights of the season!

UPDATE: Boo Mama has started a Holiday Home Tour. She has tons of readers, so if you want to visit the jackpot of Christmas decoration pictures, be sure to click on her link!

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Christmas Meme

I've read this meme on several blogs, but really enjoyed reading my sister, ItyBty's version. It brought back many of my own memories, so I decided I wanted to do it, too!

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot Chocolate, but only just barely more than egg nog. I have a lot of great memories of drinking "made from scratch" hot chocolate with my husband after he gets home from work late, even in the summer! One year, my brother, who was working in the dairy dept of Albertson's, brought home about a dozen quarts of egg nog that were about to expire. We drank it in huge glasses. It was sooo good. But, I think I drank a too much, and I don't love it quite as much as I once did.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? He wraps everything, and writes names in a big black permanent marker on the front, just like when I was a kid.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? White, all the way. The only place I really love to see the colored ones are at Temple Square.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No. But, it is a very romantic idea!

5. When do you put your decorations up? I usually start the day after Thanksgiving. I'm still working on it though. I love the decorating and do a ton, but it takes me awhile because I'm trying to squeeze it in amongst regular life activities.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Christmas ham with homemade cranberry sauce.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child: The Christmas that my dad quit the military and went back to school. It was a very lean year, despite the fact that my dad was working his tail off doing several jobs, including delivering papers. Everything we received for Christmas that year was handmade: marionettes, ring toss sticks, a bean bag toss box with different target images on each side, pioneer rag dolls, and a wooden kitchen. Nobody in the neighborhood had anything like what we had received. It was very special to me, because I knew how hard my parents had worked to still give us a special Christmas. I really knew that they loved us and were very self sacrificing for us. (My mom had a severe burn on her arm that she was self treating because we had no health insurance. It made sewing those dolls very difficult.) I have saved very little of my childhood toys. The two main ones I still have are that doll and a clown marionette.

8. How and When did you learn the truth about Santa? I don't remember learning the truth about him. I do remember learning that the tooth fairy and Easter bunny were my parents and thinking that made sense, but Santa? He HAD to be real!

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Usually pajamas.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? In an assortment of ornaments with special meaning to us. (See previous post.)

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Love it! I miss Utah winters. We don't get nearly enough snow here. I've never been crazy about driving in it, but I remember watching it snow at night out the window as a kid and thinking it looked so magical and beautiful. I don't like it as much when it is half melted and blackened along the sides of the roads, though.

12. Can you ice skate? Yes. And I can do turns, but not jumps or backwards. At least I used to.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? See #7. I also loved coming home with DH on Christmas eve a couple years ago, just as the delivery truck from the local music store was pulling out of our driveway. Inside the house they had just set up a piano! He is way better than I at surprises.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Making sure I and my family feel the Christmas "spirit". Not just the magical, charitable feelings you get, but the joyous gratitude that "God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever shall believe in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Homemade berry pie a la mode.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Spending time together as a family decorating the tree, cooking and baking, watching traditional Christmas movies, etc.

17. What tops your tree? A silver star that my parents purchased in Germany around the time that I was born. We had a gold one just like it on our tree growing up.

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving? Receiving! It's so much easier than trying to come up with just the right gift. But, I do love the feeling you get when you really hit the mark and get something they absolutely love and were not at all expecting. Its too bad more of my gifts aren't like that. Although, I try! And I do love seeing the excited faces of children opening gifts.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? "Sleep, Sleep, Sleep". It's a lullaby to Jesus that I learned in high school choir. Every once in awhile the Mormon Tab sings it. I'm really hoping they will at the First Presidency Fireside tonight.

20. What is your favorite Christmas story? Besides the nativity, It's a Wonderful Life (I cry every time)and The Bishop's Wife (The original Cary Grant one). I'm not a huge movie watcher, but I'm a sucker for sappy Christmas ones.

That was fun! Feel free to play, too!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Works For Me: Simplify Traditions

I love Christmas and all the traditions that come with it. Unfortunately, it just isn't humanly possible to do them all and still manage to enjoy them. If I try, I'm a stressed out basketcase by the time Christmas actually arrives. But, if I sit down and try to eliminate some, I feel cheated somehow. Like I am giving up things that I love. What I have learned to do, instead, is to look at traditions from a new perspective:

When we had our second child, I let my husband in on a way he could be perceived as a "cool dad". I told him of the tradition my dad had of making bannana splits for dinner whenever my mom had a baby. "You mean BOTH times?" my smart alec husband asked. It is true. My mom only had two children after me, but I still call the bannana split dinner a tradition and think my dad was super fun for doing it. I realized after thinking about this, that a tradition doesn't have to be something that happens every single year to be a cherished memory for my family.

So, each year I pick and choose the traditions we will do that year. And then I let the others go, guilt free, knowing that I can do them next year. For example, this year I am not doing Christmas cards, a family picture or gifts to the neighbors. I will be helping the kids make gifts for their teachers and a gingerbread house. Both of which we haven't done in awhile. I will also ask my family what they most want me to bake, and then just try one or two other things I've been dying to try. Of course, there are some traditions that get carried out every year, because we love them the most. But, overall, this strategy let's me do the ones I'm most in the mood for, and keeps down my guilt level over not getting everything done each year.

This also applies to other traditions. I only make my kid's Halloween costumes every other year. I don't think I would enjoy doing it more often than that. And this way costumes get a bit more wear for all that effort. (If they don't like what they were last year, they can choose another option from the costume box.)

I, also, only do the big friend birthday parties on odd numbered birthdays. Even years are family only. This maintains my enthusiasm for going all out on fun themed parties, and reserves significant birthdays (baptism, deacon ordination) for special family only celebrations.

Works for me!

Be sure to check out more Works for Me Wednesday Ideas at Rocks in My Dryer

Thursday, November 9, 2006

A Confession: I'm Not Perfect

I was recently reading the comments to a post written by Les, at Smart Mama. An anonymous commenter there made the statement:

"I guess I'm a bit skeptical of the blog world - at least the small portion that I've seen. All it seems like is a way of saying "look at all of the things I can do" or "look at my beautiful home (insert other words here)." Generally speaking, everyone just wants a pat on the back and a comment that they're doing a great job."

I thought about this, and I think to an extent this is true. My husband always says that the blogging world is a big mutual admiration society. Well, yeah, and it's great! Okay, we may show off a bit sometimes. But, one of the nice things about blogging is that it is a place to share yourself and hope someone notices and supports your efforts.

You just can't do some of this in real life. People think you are a huge bore if you constantly show them cute pictures of your kids (unless they are grandparents), or your latest projects and creations. But, in the bloggy world, it doesn't matter. If someone isn't interested in your latest scrapbook pages or doesn't really think your kids are all that cute, they can just visit someone else's blog.

Maybe we don't always share our failures, or weaknesses, or the cluttered corners of our homes or lives. But, generally we beat ourselves up enough about them. We don't need to expose them for further critique. Maybe that presents a limited view of who we really are. And maybe we need to be braver and share some of that side of ourselves more. And some bloggers are much better at this than I. But, really, a blog is the person's who writes it, and she (and he) should just share whatever they want!

But, just in case I have inadvertently duped someone into thinking I am a perfect person (Bwaha Ha Ha!), because I have failed to share my shortcomings, I will come out on a limb here and share a few.

I am not a gardening expert. I am an enthusiastic gardener who tries many things, but that only means that I've also failed at quite a few, as well. Take my garden this year. These are the things that I planted that failed, or that I failed to do with what I had planned:

Beets (Never got around to pickling any yet. They sit in a big bag on my counter feeling ignored.)
Beans (leaves completely eaten by rabbits, no beans.)
Bell Pepper (two tiny peppers that never got big enough to harvest)
Jalepeno Pepper (2 peppers)
Pickling Cucumber (Produced fine, but I never got around to pickling any.)
Sweet Cucumber (succumbed to verticullum wilt, as usual)
Roma Tomato (Died as seedlings)
Jelly Bean Hybrid Tomato (Died as seedlings)
Cabbage (Never got around to planting it.)
Scarlet marigold (very few germinated)
Red Salvia (stunted when seedlings, barely produced any flowers)
Vinca (died as seedlings)
Blue Morning Glory (only had a couple blooms before frost killed it. Plagued by aphids.)
Scarlet Morning Glory (never germinated)
Giant White Moonflower (never germinated)

Also, the daffodils I transplanted failed to bloom, two new perennial plants did not survive the winter, and all of my lilies I planted last fall emerged, turned brown and died. I've also never successfully grown an ear of corn, and have had my tomatoes and cucurbits completely die some years before producing at all.

My thumb is not as green as I would like. It is, however, a very enthusiastic yellow-brown!

I, also, am not great at scrapbooking, quilting, cross stitching, or knitting. I tried to crochet snowflake Christmas ornaments one year. The two lop-sided ones I managed to finish adorn my tree each year, keeping me appropriately humble.

I have severely scorched two pans making dinner since I started blogging. (No, it is NOT related!) My toddler spends half her life wearing only a diaper, and none of my babies have slept through the night before a year. My kitchen floor always seems to need to be mopped. I find housework boring. I haven't washed my windows in 2 1/2 years, unless you count spraying a few down with the hose. Sunday, my family had chocolate chip cookies and popcorn for dinner because I was too lazy to make anything else. And I didn't get the Book of Mormon read by the end of last year. Finally, my "to file" drawer has multiplied into a teetering pile of boxes on top of the filing cabinet.

And, no, these weren't the worst of the things I could have shared about myself.

Are you just shocked?

PS. I can't help but wonder if the anonymous commenter felt just a bit jealous when she made her comment. After all, Smart Mama is an extremely talented, well traveled and smart woman, with a beautiful home and children. Heck, I'm sometimes jealous of her! But, someone once said, "If you compare yourself to others, you will either end up bitter or proud." I think this is probably something we all need to remember, in the blog world, as well as in real life.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Halloween Meme

Sketchy of Living the Sweet Life tagged me for a Halloween meme. I love Halloween, and the questions to this one are likewise as fun!

1.What's the scariest movie you've ever seen? I really don't like scary movies. Not Psycho, for sure. I remember being so disappointed in that one. Actually it was a tv show that has scared me the most. The Little House on the Praire episode where the blind school burns down, and one of the teachers gets trapped on the top floor with Mary's baby. The image of her screaming and burning to death as she wacks the baby against a window has haunted me for years. SHUDDER. Okay, that question wasn't so fun after all.

2. What was your favorite Halloween Costume from childhood, and adulthood? My favorite as a kid was a gypsy. I wore canning rings as earrings! I later wore a gypsy costume in high school to play the fortune teller for a neighborhood carnival. There was a photographer there from the paper who kept trying to take my picture. I was self conscious, of course, and kept trying to avoid him, mostly hiding in my sweltering hot tent. Somehow, he managed to get one of me as I peeked out. I was on the front page the next day. My brief moment of fame!

3. If you had an unlimited budget, what would your Fantasy Costume be for this Halloween? I'd dress the whole family in costumes from Lord of the Rings. Everyone could find a character they liked, and I could wear one of those cool Elven maiden costumes.

4.When was the last time you went Trick Or Treating? 2 years ago, with the kids. Last year I was the candy giver outer.

5.What is your favorite Halloween treat? My favorite candy is definitely dark chocolate. But, I have to pick candy corn for this question. I remember as a kid relishing them as I ate them one color at a time.

6. Tell us about a scary nightmare you had. When I was around 7, I remember having a recurring nightmare about walking home from school everyday with a group of kids. On the way home, we would stop in the field behind my Grandpa's house, pull the wooden cover off of a deep hole dug in the dirt, and help kids out of it. Then a really mean girl pushed some new kids in it, we replaced the lid, and repeated the whole thing the next day. I always woke up when I got pushed and started falling into the dark hole. I had to invent elaborate happy endings to get over that one.

7. What is your Supernatural Fear? Possession by evil spirits.

8. What is your Creepy-Crawlie Fear? There are these bugs called cave crickets or camel crickets. They look like hump backed spiders with long bent legs. They can jump 6 feet in any direction. You have one chance to kill them. If you miss, you have no idea where they disappeared to. I came home one night when I was a nanny and found one in my room. I missed it. After tearing my room apart looking for it, I ended up sleeping on the couch in the study.

9. Tell us about a time when you saw a ghost, or heard something go Bump in the night. I've never seen a ghost. When my husband and I were first married, some older girls I knew from the Boy's and Girl's Club were having a sleepover and came to visit me in the middle of the night. The tallest of them wore a hoodie, with a mannequin's head on her head inside the hood, making her look unnaturally tall and creepy. My husband groggily opened the door, took one look, slammed the door, and ran and hid under the covers. He said later he was sure someone had come to kill us. I guessed they might come visit me, and just laughed and went and opened the door again. He hadn't even relocked it! At least he is very brave and cool headed when fully awake!

10. Would you ever stay in a real Haunted House overnight? It depends. If it was REALLY haunted, as in needing exorcism, definitely not. But, my husband and I used to love visiting all the haunted house fundraisers along the Wasatch Front. It's fun to be scared when you know its not real! Especially, if I have my brave AWAKE husband to hide behind while I scream! So, that kind of Haunted House I would love to stay in, at least until I got really tired and wanted to sleep undisturbed.

11. Are you a traditionalist (just a face) Jack O'Lantern Carver, or do you get really creative with your pumpkins? Traditionalist. I just carve whatever lopsided, toothy faces my kids draw on their pumpkins for them.

12. How much do you decorate your home for Halloween? I decorate more for Fall because I can keep it up longer. We do hang the kid's creations from school, a few window clings, and orange lights and fake spider webs up on the porch.

13. What do you want on your Tombstone? Pepperoni and Black olives. ; ) Actually, I think the old white marble headstones, with script lettering, are really beautiful. I like the ones with the four line verses under the name and dates. I can't think of a verse right now for it, though.

I'm keeping the tags in the family this time: my cousin, Suzanne at A Rose By Any Other Name and my sisters, ItyBtyFrog at ItyBtyFrog Ideas, and Jettara at What Was I Thinking...

Friday, October 13, 2006


Since having children, I have learned that mother's make far more sacrifices for the benefit of their children than any "nonmother type person" can possibly imagine. And every once in awhile, I am surprised to learn of a new sacrifice I am willing to make for one of my children. Tonight was such a moment.

We get to go see Marvin playing drums in several parades this fall. We had never gone to ANY parades before he started doing this, and have discovered we LOVE small town parades. The marching bands, military groups marching and all the candy throwing are our favorites.

Tonight was the local University Homecoming Parade. It was 42 degrees outside and DH couldn't come. So I bundled everyone up really well, the kids grabbed grocery sacks for the candy haul, and away we went. Of course with all that candy flying through the air, Elsie wanted some. So, I gave her a dum dum sucker. Awhile later, I gave her another. And then another. 3 suckers for a toddler seems like alot. But, by this time we were into this parade for over an hour, not counting the "wait for it to start time"! Her hand became very, very sticky. Do I have wipes or napkins with me? No, of course not! She has developed this thing about having "ticky" hands and starts freaking out. I have no idea how much longer we have of this parade, so I did the only thing I could do:

I licked her hand clean. Really. Mmm. Slobber sauce.

(Oh, and we still feel like it was a great time!)

Ever made any unusual sacrifices for your children?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Works For Me: Sewing Shortcuts

I am not much of a sewer usually. When my oldest daughter was a baby, I made a series of cute little dresses complete with roses on hats, pinafores and pantaloons. Froo Froo stuff. I started when she was about 6 months and finished them when she was wearing size 2T. Luckily, I knew myself well enough to have made large sizes so they still fit her.

It kind of burned me out on the clothing making thing and in recent years I've focused more on curtains and cushions and such. I'm really a quick results kind of person. I have a hard time sticking to projects that take a lot of time, and I no longer have a lot of time.

Last spring, I realized that I had three little girls and had yet to do the matchy matchy thing. I could even match me with them. So, I decided to sew again. But, I decided I would try things a little differently and this is what I've learned:

1. Elastic is wonderful! I passed up any pattern that required zippers, gathering fabric, wide hems, buttons or interfacing. Simple styles are just as darling as frilly ones. Plus, I decided I'm not out to impress with my sewing skills. In fact, if you lift up one of my girl's hems to check the quality of my stitching I will no longer consider you my friend!

2. You don't need to make a casing for the elastic when inserting it in sleeves. Before sewing the sleeve's seam, just stretch the elastic along the casing line and stitch down the middle of it.

3. Use a pattern more than once. Patterns can be expensive, so I decided to use up some of my fabric stash to practice with the patterns. Bonus: more space in the sewing tubs and more clothes for the girls. And, each time I get faster at it because I now have the instructions practically memorized. It hasn't gotten boring because I have tried to make different variations using different fabrics and trims.

4.There is more than one way to sew the same thing. Take the easiest route. For example, the skirt I sewed for myself wanted me to make a tiny narrow drawstring with an elastic section in it's middle that would be threaded through a casing, coming out of buttonholes to be tied. Forget that! I just put elastic in a casing like I did my daughters and called it done!

5. When sewing multi-size patterns for myself, I cut off the larger sizes on the pattern. I figure when or if I do gain multiple sizes I'll be too depressed about it to sew myself clothes anyways.

6. When cutting out large pattern pieces, I used overturned, heavy cereal bowls instead of pins. Saves much time and keeps slippery fabric in place better.

7. Lace is wonderful! It hides uneven stitching and can give a nice detail without having to gather fabric. Just use gathered lace instead.

8. I adhered a piece of magnetic tape to my sewing machine to stick pins to. I now spend less time looking for my pin cushion. Also, I set up to sew where there is no carpet. Pins dropped on a hard floor are less likely to land pointing up and ready to stab your foot while you're looking for them. Ouch!

9. I completely made one of each outfit, before cutting out more, to better check sizes. The blouse I made for my oldest daughter, for example, ended up fitting everywhere but in length. I didn't want her showing off her belly button every time she raised her arms, so I sewed an eyelet trim around the bottom to make it more modest. The rest of the blouses I cut out for her, I made sure to add length.

So, what sewing shortcuts have you found?

And don't forget to check out more Works For Me Wednesday ideas over at Shannon's Rocks in My Dryer!

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Works for Me Wednesday: Family Scripture Study

It's Wednesday! Today's Works for Me Wednesday is about studying the scriptures as a family. We used to be really consistent about reading the scriptures together as a family at bedtime. As the kids have gotten older and our evenings have filled with activities, our bedtimes became crazier and our family scripture study slackened way off. We've recently come up with a solution that seems to be working for us.

Our oldest has to leave for the bus at 6:45 am, so we have started having breakfast together at 6:30 am. While we usually like to visit during meals, we found we were all a bit cranky at breakfast. So, we do our scripture study then. At first I would read, while they ate. But, then we started listening to the scriptures being read for free on the internet here. It is working great, so far. Having someone else reading them allows me to have my hands busy pouring juice or cutting the baby's pancakes. (And I can eat, too!)And it is a great way to start our day! Works for Me!

Be sure to check out more Works for Me Wednesday ideas over at Shannon's blog.

Monday, October 2, 2006

Let's Decorate for an Autumn Party!

I LOVE Fall. I love the fresh start of a new school year and the new school supplies that go with it. I love feeling a crisp in the air and seeing the leaves start to put on their fall colors. I love how it makes me want to bake pumpkin bread and apple pie, and how it makes my husband want to make his homemade cinnamon ice cream.

And I love decorating for fall. I'm not one of those people who decorate for every holiday and season. But, I really have a good time with decorating for fall and Christmas. September 23rd was the official first day of Autumn. So, I've made the house look official, too.

I love to see other people's decorations, too. So, I thought it would be fun to have a virtual Autumn party. Everyone is invited! The only catch is, YOU are in charge of the decorations! Once you have decorated, post pictures on your blog and then post a link to them here. I'll pass around the virtual pumpkin muffins and apple cider, and we'll all sit back and enjoy the fun fall photos!

You can include your Halloween decorations, and any other special things you do for fall, too.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Works for Me Wednesday: Drive Through Trash

Today's Works for Me idea is very simple. It helps me keep my van much cleaner. The garbage cans sit on the driver's side in our garage. So, when I drive in, I stop by them and have the kid's pass up the garbage so I can throw it out the window into the trash. Kind of like the reverse of a fast food stop!

(I also often will give a specific number of items I want each person to bring in when we get home. This helps keep down the accumulation of other items.)

Works for Me!

Be sure to check out more Works for Me Wednesday ideas at Shannon's!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Works For Me Wednesday: Baby Containment

Today's Works for Me Wednesday idea must be credited to my mom. I ran across this baby picture of myself recently, and realized what a great idea it had in it: To keep a creeping/rolling baby from rolling off the blanket when spending time outside, put the blanket and baby in a clean wading pool. How great would this be camping or at the beach, too! My mommy is so smart!

For more great Works for Me ideas, be sure to visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Famous In My Own Lunchtime

Code Yellow Mom tagged me for this meme which originated in New Zealand. If you are into meme history, (And, really, who isn't?) you can check out the original here.

I like when my friends ask me to play, so here goes:

What do you like most about where you live?

I've tried not to be too specific about where I live. And although I could say all kinds of specific things about the city and state where I live, I think I will keep this a bit broader. What do I like most about living in the East, to be exact. I can only narrow it down to three, or maybe four:

The History: the way people lived, the clothing they wore, the buildings they lived in, the ships they sailed in, the brave and amazing things they accomplished, and of course, early church history. Also, the things they left behind in the form of Antiques.

The Diverse and Delicious Food

The Stately and Elegant Architecture. Not just as evidence of history, but also because of how aesthetically pleasing I find it.

Is there anything strange about where you live? Roads seem to be laid out by evil 5 year olds drawing on maps with crayons. There is no other explanation for traffic "circles" and "jug handles".

What's one of your all time favorite music albums, and why? The pressure is on to pick something really cool and impressive so I can wow you all with my musical tastes. Too bad. I pick The Nylon's Happy Together. Because that's what DH and I were when we used to sing along to it and kiss good bye when we were dating.

Did you have a passion for something as a kid that you still have now? (If not - what is one of your passions now?) Besides berry pie a la mode, I'd have to say reading. I don't read as often as I did as a kid, mostly because my passion is so life interfering. When I read, I want to do nothing else till the book is done. But when I do allow myself a good read, it is delicious!

What do you like most about having a blog? I feel less guilt about not scrapbooking or journaling. And it's fun! I also like staying in touch with family, and of course all the MOF's (or is it MOLFs?) I've made. I don't really think of it as an opportunity to increase my writing skills or express myself, because my writing style is so casual and my in real life expressiveness is strong. Just ask my DH and his tired ears. Oh, and obviously I find some kind of recreational value in copying and pasting link locations!

Now I'm going to tag a prolific blogger, Stephanie, so she can avoid any guilt over "I don't know what to post about" issues.

And a blogger who hasn't posted in awhile, Merv.

A blogger I've been reading for a long time, Lei.

And a blogger I've recently found, Sketchy.

And anyone else who want to come out and play!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Another Reason I'm Boycotting Bratz

I've never been a fan of Bratz. My girls don't own them and have never been given them as gifts. They already know if they are ever given them to just politely say thank you. And not to remove it from the package, so we can take it back to the store to exchange it for something more appropriate.

Why? I object to the immodest, sexualized styles of the clothes, obviously, but also to the name itself. "Brats" may not have the connotations for today's girls that it has for me, but I don't care. I think giving a toy focused on young girls a name that connotes snotty, spoiled rotten behavior is irresponsible. Plain and simple.

Today I read something that truly clinched my determination to boycott any Bratz products for my girls. You can read it and the lame excuses the company makes here.

I'm really not surprised. But what really saddens me is that Target is selling and also justifying the stuff. I like liked Target. Now I'm not sure what to do. I know some chain stores have local buyers. Is Target one of them? If so, maybe I can wait to see if my local buyer starts to show such bad judgement before avoiding one of my favorite shopping spots. The fact that I am willing to completely stop shopping there, shows how strongly I feel about this. But, sometimes its a mother's job to put her foot down.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Remembering 9/11 Victims

Today I ran across a special blogging opportunity. Someone came up with the great idea of a blogging tribute to the victims of 9/11. On the upcoming anniversary of that tragedy, 2,996 bloggers will post individual tributes, each honoring one of the victims of the terrible events of that day. What a great opportunity to be a part of something really noble and important. I was very excited about it, and almost signed up, but as I read about some of the few as yet assigned victims, I started to feel very emotional and knew that in my weepy pregnant state that this would be too hard for me to do. Maybe if they do it again next year. But, I do look forward to seeing many of the tributes. The idea is that so many tributes will be out there on that day, that everyone who reads blogs will encounter them and remember. Maybe you would like to participate? You can sign up here. Last I checked there were 83 unassigned victims. September 11th is coming up fast and it would be very sad if there were any that did not get assigned in time.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I Love Topiary

I love topiary! I think it is a perfect meld of my love of gardening and my taste in design. I would love to have a classic European garden. It would have lovely shaped boxwood edges, vistas of fountains and statuary framed with evergreen, and secret rooms walled in by hedges older than I, and entered in through green arches. Maybe even a labrynth for playing hide and seek in. Of course, I'd need a legion of gardeners with hedge trimmers in hand to achieve that. Instead I try to create my own much more modest versions.

The heart one above is one I've done more than once. It is really easy, just a metal coat hanger shaped into a heart. I don't even untwist the hook of the hanger. I just straighten out the hook and poke it into a pot of ivy. I then wind the ivy around the wires. Ivy is a great houseplant for those who are watering challenged like myself. They actually like to dry out between waterings. This one I water just once a week, despite its tiny pot.

I made a globe shaped one once by reshaping the wire hanger off of a hanging plant. To cover the wire "stem" I twisted the vines smoothly around it, removing the leaves along them till they reached the globe section.

This is my biggest version. Purchased wire topiary forms can be expensive, so one day at the hardware store I had an inspiration. I picked up a tomato cage that was proportional to the pot I planned on using. First, I tied the three wires that usually poke into the ground together with a bit of wire. (It actually was the wire out of a twist tie!) I heated the wire tips over a flame on my stove and used needle nose pliers to curl them under. Then I spray painted the whole thing with flat black paint, stuck it in my pot and planted the ivy. The whole thing cost me $2. Unfortunately, I had to leave it behind in Utah when we moved. (Which also explains the poor picture of it.)

My next topiary project is a pair of these:

I want to try trimming them into spirals when they get a bit bigger. I'm adding ivy around the edges to hang over the sides. The trimmings are actually coming from my heart topiary above. Ivy cuttings root really easily. I just stick the ends of them into water till they have enough roots to plant.

Maybe, someday I'll be brave enough to try a chicken. Or an elephant. Emily would love that. (She keeps asking me if she can have a pet elephant.)

Monday, July 17, 2006

In Which My World Does a Flip

This is a picture of me bungie jumping at the Carnegie Science Center on the 8th. Our family spent the day there with several other families from church and had a great time. We spent the day discovering the science behind magic, soda pop, and sports including rock climbing. I wasn't brave enough to ride the roller coaster and jet simulators, though!

The day after I was called as Primary President. Three days later I discovered we are pregnant with our 5th child. Even though I am happy about both events, their almost simultaneous occurrence threw me for a bit of a loop. But, at least I learned my "sick to my stomach", emotional mornings were hormonal, not new calling angst. So, that is what I have been up to instead of blogging. Trying to manage the basics of home and children care, while getting the primary set up, and holding onto my cookies. It's been a bit overwhelming and has reminded me of when I did the rock climbing at the science center. The scariest moment happened when I reached the top of the rock wall and had to let go, trusting that my guide rope would catch me and carefully return me to the ground. I'm just trusting Heavenly Father is going to do the same!

"And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him. O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" Matthew 14:31

Friday, July 7, 2006

Salem, MA

We did a day trip on our vacation up to Salem, MA. We've gone there before, in October, when the crowds were thick and full of unusually dressed people, making you think they are on their way to Diagon Alley. It seems Salem is a bit of a witch mecca, which is really ironic considering how fervently the residents in 1692 sought to eradicate any presence of witchcraft out of their town.

It seems some young girls started accusing women of practicing witchcraft, snowballing a flurry of accusations and trials. Hundreds of people were investigated, 19 were sent to the gallows, and one man was pressed to death for failing to make a plea. It didn't end until the girls went too far and accused the govenor's wife. There is a memorial next to the cemetary with each of the names of the sentenced. Some of their statements are engraved in stone and are really sad, "I am wholly innocent of this wickedness", "I will speak the truth as long as I live", "God knows I am innocent." Very sad. Moving on now...

I really liked visiting Salem when it wasn't so crowded, mostly because my favorite part of Salem is the Architecture. We first toured The Witch House, which dates back to at least 1675 and is a great example of 17th century architecture with its overhanging top story, narrow unpainted clapboards, and small diamond windows. I find this style very dark and dreary. The home belonged to Judge Jonathan Corwin, one of the judges responsible for trying the witch cases.

It has a typical enormous hearth from that time, where the women would have several cooking fires going at once, not unlike our using several stove top burners. With their long skirts moving amongst the fires, they were at high risk of catching themselves aflame. To prevent it, they often would dampen the bottoms of their dresses. Even so, infected burns were a common cause of death at that time. To keep the little ones out of the fire, they would tie them to themselves with strings. Thus the source of "tied to his mother's apron strings". Another reason to be glad we live when we do!

Enough of the depressing, and time for the pretty stuff! My favorite Architecture styles are Georgian and Federal. The McIntyre district of Salem, named after architect Samuel McIntyre, is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods to see these old houses, especially along Chestnut Street:

Federal Style
Georgian Style
Lovely fence.

Aren't they the most beautiful houses you've ever seen?

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Works for Me: Reading Time

Time again for Works For Me Wednesday!

I've seen many reading incentive ideas, but never one as simple to execute as the one I use. Bedtime at our house is 8 pm, but lights out is not until 9 pm, as long as you are quietly reading in bed. I think most kids would willingly read if it was the means for staying up an extra hour. My youngest usually falls asleep before 9, but she, with the others, manages to do a significant amount of reading each night. Like most proud moms, I think my children are bright, but I attribute the fact they all read well above grade level due to this one thing we do. The potential of losing bedtime reading time is also an excellant behavioral motivator. They are more likely to cooperatively get ready and go to bed, if doing otherwise means an earlier lights out.

Works For Me!

Be sure to check out Shannon's list of other Works for me Wednesday tips!

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Happy Independance Day!

Enjoy your BBQ's and fireworks! But, don't forget what a grand thing this day celebrates. I read an article this morning that really emphasized to me what it's all about today. You can read it here, if you'd like!

Cape Cod: Antique Shops

The Spy Glass

I love antiques. Route 6A, especially as it travels through Brewster, has many wonderful antique shops. One of them is The Spy Glass. It has many maritime related objects and is a special favorite of Grandpa Tony, who is an accomplished ship model builder. They had a fantastic tiny ship model there, "Brigate Bertha", built in 1589. That's almost 200 years before the declaration of Independance was signed! (Be sure to click on the subtitle to see the close up photos!):

Brigate Bertha

I also really liked this English leather firefighter bucket from 1898. I loved the handpainted design of the front. People just don't make stuff like this anymore, especially beautiful everyday things.

English leather firefighter bucket

Another Favorite Shop is a clock shop called the The Village Peddler in Dennis. I love when any of the clocks start to chime during a visit. Grandma Sally is an avid antique clock lover and has collected several, many of which have been skillfully cleaned and refurbished by this gentleman, the proprietor of the shop:

The Village Peddler

If he isn't too busy, he will often sit in one of the rockers and talk about clocks. They are obviously a passion for him. He also often has a few other interesting items. This is, in fact, where we bought this on a previous visit:

Western Electric 302 phone.

It is an antique phone from the late 1920's. It is the same kind you often see in those old black and white movies. My husband figured out how to get it working again and it now sits on the table in the family room. It makes a wonderful clicking sound as you dial, but my favorite sound is the ringer.

We didn't come home with any new finds this time, but the continuing hunt is half the fun!