Saturday, January 31, 2015


What is it about planting and watching something grow?  They went into the ground in a hurry last Fall, before company came.  I almost forgot they were there.  I'm a bit anxious for the color they will bring.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Belated Resolution

Does it count as a New Year's resolution if you don't start thinking seriously about it until January 25th?  I don't know, but I do know this is the year of the guitar for me.  It started with the goal to teach myself to play before I was 30, then 35.... but there it sat, year after year gathering dust.  The missionaries have played it more than we have in the last year and a half.  

So, four days ago, I worked a jam session into my morning routine.  Sadie and I came home from the gym, she changed back into her Frozen pajamas, as usual, but before I could do my usual morning routine, she asked for music.  Instead of turning on iTunes, I glanced at the guitar and thought, "why not?".  I mastered the "C" and "G" chords years ago and my "D7" isn't too shabby. You'd be surprised how many songs you can play with those three.  But Sadie wanted "Child God" or I am a Child of God from the LDS Children's Songbook, so I dug it out.  
There it was, the dreaded "F" chord along with "D", "A7", and "G7".  I actually ripped the guitar chord chart out of the back of the book and slowly but surely we made it through one verse.  She loved it.  Needless to say I no longer fear the "F" as much as I did before.  With some help from You Tube and this last week of daily practice I feel confident enough with my chord progressions.  I'm still super slow, but at least all the notes are there.

(p.s. It's really hard to take a picture of yourself playing the guitar)

I'll leave you with some of my favorite words from Ralf Waldo Emerson,

"That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to achieve. Not that the nature of the thing itself is changed, but that our power to do is increased."

May you experience increased "power to do" with your resolutions this year, whatever they may be.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


We've been learning our body parts in Spanish lately.  Sadie's favorites are her "manos", or hands.  I already mentioned these mitts in a previous blog post, but yesterday I realized just how much use they've been getting.  She puts them on every time she goes out and sings a little song to herself about keeping her manos warm.  I knew they would be nice to have and let's face it, I was looking for something quick and easy to knit, but they really are so functional.  They hug tight around the wrist and have a super long cuff, plus they allow those little fingers and thumbs to do what they do best.  I used the "Clarence" pattern,  from Kellbourne Wollens.   It was a gift from a dear friend, and I have used so many of the patterns from it.   I knit them in the 12-24 mo size because I wanted them to be snug, but I'm super excited they come all the way up to size 6yr.

How are you keeping your manos warm this winter?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An A.R. Dilema

Any one else out there struggling with their schools Accelerated Reader program?  We were introduced to A.R. last year.  Our previous school didn't use it.  Basically, it tracks a child's reading progress by having them read a book and then test on it.  They are given a goal and rewarded for meeting that goal at the end of every nine weeks.  Explained that way it sounds simple and wonderful, but I keep running into issues.

For example, each child is assigned a level and each book is given a point value.  Maybe it's just my kids, but now, before looking at the title, or anything else, they go directly to "dot color" and "point value" to choose their reading material.

Also, a child is limited to testing in their level.  This also appears fine until you listen to Treasure Island, or Hatchet, or A Christmas Carol, or any number of "above grade level books" only to learn your child will not be allowed to test on them.

Alan almost didn't reach his A.R. goal last term.  I was a little desperate thinking he would miss out on a really fun field trip with his brother, so I tried to see if they would let him test outside his level on some of the books we'd been reading aloud.  It was suggested that I should focus more on Alan reading than on reading books "he didn't understand" aloud.  Hmm.  We solved the issue ourselves by literally forcing him to read and test on three books a day for the last few days of the term.  It was miserable.

Then, to top it off, there is ONE award given to the child that reads the most pages per class.  My little over achiever REALLY wants that award, so now, he asks me to limit our nightly reading time so he can "read on his own".  I'm so happy he loves reading, but shouldn't reading out loud count too?

So, while I'm up here on my soap box, let me just say that, "I WILL NOT STOP READING ABOVE GRADE LEVEL BOOKS ALOUD TO MY CHILDREN!!!"  They will meet Charlotte and Wilbur, and Sherlock Holmes, and Huckleberry Finn, and travel to Narnia and Neverland all with me as their guide for the first time.  So yes, Mrs. First Grade teacher, my child will tell you he's already read that book, and yes, Mrs. Reading coach, my son will tell you he based his Halloween costume off his hero, Sherlock Holmes, because we've read a few of his cases.  And you're right, they do deal with mature themes, and use language that is a bit old fashioned, which is why I'M READING IT TO HIM!!!

Ok, I'm done. I just needed to vent. Thank you for listening.  Happy reading!!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Personal Progress

We had a "Beehive's only" activity at my house this past Saturday.  ("Beehives" is the name given to the 12 and thirteen year old girls in the LDS church.  I have no idea why, although when they all get together and talk and giggle, and talk and giggle some more, their sound does resemble buzzing, so maybe that's it?)  We've had SIX join us in the last year, so we needed an activity that would introduce them to the Young Women Personal Progress program. 

Their assignment was to bring their favorite snack to share and their Personal Progress supplies.  We spent three hours learning, and sharing, and eating, and passing off a lot of their value experiences. I had them divide up into groups of two and visit different stations.  With the help of my fellow YW leaders and the trusty sister missionaries, we helped the girls check off eight experiences.  I think they felt accomplished.

Hmm, maybe we need an activity on healthy eating?!...

Two girls aren't featured, I was late grabbing the photo, but all seven of my Beehives attended and one friend, that will hopefully be coming more often.  Such sweetness and silliness.  Talent and beauty.  I can't wait to have them for two whole years!!

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Good fences make good neighbors....and keep the toddlers and dogs from wandering away.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A weekend in Montgomery, AL

They had the state capitol blocked off because the new governor was being sworn in the next day. 

Montgomery, Alabama.  If you had asked me even three years ago if I ever thought I would spend a weekend here, let alone Martin Luther King weekend, I wouldn't have believed you.  But, that's exactly what we did just three days ago.  Dean had a conference and the hotel boasted an indoor pool, so we decided to take advantage of it.  Except, there really wasn't an indoor pool, but the weather was spectacular and I was bound and determined to see everything you could possibly see in one afternoon, regardless of eye rolls and complaints from the back seat. 

Did you know Alabama was the fourth state to secede from the Union and home to the first "White House" of the confederacy? Alabama also lays claim to starting the Civil War because, as we learned, the telegraph ordering Confederate troops to fire on Fort Sumter was sent from the Winter Building, (pictured below).  I'm not sure how I feel about any of this.  I know historically it's important, but it seemed odd to me to pay to see inside the museum at the First White House of the Confederacy, so we didn't.  I'm sure the Daughters of the Confederacy is a lovely organization and they have done a great job keeping up the old place, but honestly it seemed a little weird to visit these sites all well within walking distance of the Civil Rights Memorial.  


We had to wait a while for our tour of the Martin Luther King Jr. sites, so I went to find the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald home.  My children were less than thrilled when we all piled back into the car, but there was time to kill and I didn't know if I'd ever get another chance.  On the way there we happened upon a familiar street.  We decided to document it.

The museum at the Fitzgerald home was closed, but there was a lovely quote by Zelda out front that described their time in Montgomery, 
"Every place has its hours.... So in Jefferson (Montgomery) there existed then, and I suppose now, a time and quality that appertains to nowhere else. It began about half pst six on an early summer night, with the flicker and sputter of the corner street lights going on, and it lasted until the great incandescent globes were black. Inside wtih moths and beetles and the children were called in to bed from the dusty streets.'

'Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, "Southern Girls", October 1929.'

On our way back to the city we happened upon the birthplace of Nat King Cole (not pictured), The Hank Williams museum, and the sight of Rosa Parks' arrest, now a beautiful library and museum.  Alas, it was also closed, but Alan and I pressed on with the photos while everyone else rolled their eyes and stayed in the car.

Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church and Parsonage were next on the list and definitely our favorites.  They don't allow photos inside either building, but it was enough just to be there.  You can see the State Capitol in the background of this photo.  It is literally one block away.  Two buildings so close together, but with such differing view points on everything during the Civil Rights era.  Dr. King organized the bus boycott in the office here and so much more.


The front porch of the parsonage, where a bomb went off during the bus boycotts.  No one was injured.  Dr. King wasn't even home, but his wife, a neighbor and their 10 week old baby girl were all inside when it happened.  
The boys had so many questions.  Ben concluded that 1. the bomb maker wasn't very good, or smart (the bomb didn't really explode, just caused a lot of smoke damage). And 2. God knew Dr. King still had a lot of good to do so he protected him and his family. 

Admiring the fountain at the Civil Rights Memorial Museum.  The water rolls off the edge of the fountain, just like in the quote below, and has all the events leading up to the passing of the Civil Rights Bill engraved on it's surface.  Inside we were able to add our names to the "Wall of Tolerance".  

 I think they took something away from our road trip.  We ended up not making it to Selma due to time constraints and the fact that Oprah Winfrey and her entourage were there for the weekend, thus making it impossible to take a "quick tour" of the town.  I really wanted to see the re-enactment march over the Edmund Pettis bridge, and someday I will.  For now, this was enough. Happy Martin Luther King Day!

Friday, January 16, 2015


I think  I can, I think I can, I think I can...

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Recent Finds

We returned from a fabulous winter break to a less than sunny Alabama.  Feeling homesick and all around "blah" I found myself in need of some serious retail therapy. Having set some new financial resolutions, however, I kept putting off a much needed shopping trip.

Dean had a day off last week and I mentioned my desire to visit a store in the mall that was having an additional 50% off clearance sale and "just look". There was some sighing, but he agreed to the outing.   I had found some great deals on jewelry there before and I figured I could make myself feel better and not wreck my new resolutions.

I did find some jewelry, a necklace and earrings that didn't even dent my pocket book, also, a pack of hand painted Christmas cards. (Yes, I realize Christmas is a whole year away, babe, but they were $1 per package and their vintagey cuteness speaks for itself.)  The real prize, however, was when I happened to pick up the large bell jar to admire the succulent growing there. (I thought it was real) Anyway, I also happened to notice there was a price tag on the bottom that said $1.88.  Thinking it was a mistake I casually asked the sales clerk.  Nope, anything with a red tag was fair game, AND 50% off. "Yes, 50% off $1.88",  she said.

Two bell jars, complete with dirt, moss, and succulents, an awesome, green, wheeled, metal stand thingy, two ceramic birds, and $7.84 later, I was a satisfied shopper, and at the mall, of all places.  Dean even congratulated me on my success, although I think he was more pleased with the price tag than the actual merchandise.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Day With Friends

I felt spoiled this trip because I got a knitting night AND a day with friends.  The photos speak for themselves.  It was a relaxed day (until some stitches were required near the end, but that's another story) with homemade cookies, soups, cocoa, and some much needed conversation with big people and little people.

All three of the women featured in these photos are much more skilled behind a lens than I am, but I liked these photos anyway because I think they captured the spur of the moment, laid back, kind of day it was.

An afternoon in the kitchen with moms I admire more than they know.  I had two bowls of soup and a second helping of cocoa.  So much goodness.  I'm glad I got to be a part of it.