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    This is Halloween (HALLOWEEN, halloween)

    Friday, October 1st, 2010

    Halloween is big in our house. BIG. Z has declared it her favorite holiday ever since she was old enough to declare such things, and last year she had a record 5 costumes. Planning starts for the next year on Nov. 1, and it gets talked about all. year. long.

    Seeing as it’s October 1st, it’s about time to start celebrating. Last year I picked up this adorable count-down to Halloween …thing, calendar I guess, (it’s not an advent calendar, because it’s not advent.), and filled it with candy.

    This year I wanted to step back from the candy every day idea, and instead filled it with slips of paper containing Halloween missions. They include everything from “Go to a pumpkin patch” to “read a Halloween book”, and even “Find out what’s inside a pumpkin”. I’ve also included things that will need to be done for Z’s annual Halloween party (which will be Z and A’s party this year), like making and sending invitations, and buying things for the party.

    Hopefully this will allow us to spread out the celebration, avoid a bit of the candy, and not binge on our rather massive stack of Halloween books and movies right at the beginning of the month. And since I know (it will be a surprise for the girls) that two of the days have papers that say “Get a new Halloween book” and “Get a new Halloween movie”, hopefully that will keep me from buying new things all month long.

    It’s also inspired me to try to make a “holiday” countdown calendar that can be changed up and decorated for each holiday so that we could do the same thing for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day, birthdays, Easter, you name it. Having a separate calendar for each holiday is a bit much, but with just one, you’d only have to store it and the decorations that went with.  Has anyone done anything like this?

    And before I go, let’s zoom in on this darling pumpkin, shall we?

    I LOVE it. Doesn’t it look like it’s been painted? *blissful sigh*

    Just embrace it.

    Monday, September 13th, 2010

    Always live up to your standards – by lowering them, if necessary.  ~Mignon McLaughlin

    Before you read this post, take a little wander over here, and check out these posts on NieNie’s blog, just so you have the context.

    So. I love NieNie’s idea of having a beginning of school feast, having a family theme for the year, having gorgeous decorations, celebrating the new beginning in a meaningful way.  Now that you’ve checked out what she’s done, (you did go look, didn’t you?) may I share our festivities?

    To begin, Z picked out our dinner menu- a dish that she invented and named “Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Dinosaur Chicken”; a title which, while descriptive, perhaps does not completely convey that the dinosaur chicken was grilled INSIDE the sandwich with the cheese.  They were, in her own words upon tasting them: “completely horrible!”  Luckily, our feast was rounded out by green beans and gorgeously delicious grapes that we picked up at the local produce stand, so it wasn’t all bad.

    We had lovely little cupcakes for desert, complete with overly sweet powdered sugar frosting and strawberries on top.

    B gave the girls their school blessings after dinner, and that was that.

    And you know what? It was great. It wasn’t fancy, it wasn’t impressive, but we had fun. The girls loved making (and eating) the cupcakes, the DinoChickenCheeseSandwiches will be laughed about for a long while to come, and the girls felt celebrated and ready to start a new year of school.

    And I’m not beating myself up that it wasn’t something else.

    Who’s looking back at you?

    Monday, February 15th, 2010

    Yesterday I posted the following status on Facebook:

    “Ever catch a glimpse in the mirror and not recognize yourself? That totally just happened to me.”

    My hair is in the process of growing, and I think it’s hit its teenage years, because it is completely doing its own thing. Luckily I liked what it was doing yesterday, it just caught me by surprise.

    But this is incidental to my point. My uncle, in response, wrote:

    ‘Wait until your sister, mother, aunt, or grandmother looks back at you. I’ll post a picture of your great grandmother  — perhaps she is looking back.”

    I hear people worry that they’re starting to look like their mothers;  I’ve always looked like my mom, and I love it.  I love the parts of me that remind me of her when I look in the mirror.  When I was little I looked exactly the same as one of my cousins, and in turn one of my girls looks just like her cousin did at her age.  Farther than that, I don’t know where my face comes from. I haven’t looked into older family pictures enough to know who resembles whom among my assorted grandmothers, great aunts and 2nd cousins.

    But I love that image of women from my family’s past looking back at me, as the one who currently carries the trace of their eyes, or smile, or nose; keeping an eye on what I’m doing.

    Or maybe it’s not a physical trait that we share, but a talent or skill. I think of the Mary Ann  for whom I’m named, who snuck a cutting of her beloved yellow roses in her purse back in the 1800s, and kept it alive all the way across the Altlantic  and through a treacherous trek over the US to finally plant them in her new home in Hyde Park, UT.  I like to think she smiles as she sees our balcony garden, (or me doing something sneaky). :)

    So, on this President’s Day, as we celebrate important people from our country’s history, let’s celebrate those from our own individual histories as well. Who do you look like? Who do you act like? Who’s looking back at you? And how do you preserve the memories of them, to share with those in your family who are younger?


    Friday, January 22nd, 2010

    Valentine’s Day is coming.

    I got to thinking about love today.  The love I have for my Mama, my Joey, my Hilary, and my (as yet unconceived) children is all so different.  I’m looking for creative ideas to express those different loves to my loves this Valentine’s Day.  Any thoughts?

    It’s raining, it’s pouring

    Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

    Is it raining where you are? We’re in the midst of a torrential downpour here. It was seriously scary to drive today, which meant we were inside for most of the day.  Luckily we have wonderful friends who braved the crazy roads and came to relieve us of the ensuing boredom of being stuck inside all day. After they left and the girls were down for a nap, I got thinking about rainy days when I was a child.

    I’ve always loved the rain. I love the different sounds it makes, love watching it from the warm side of a window.  I remember recesses full of “Heads Up 7-up” and board games in the cafeteria at lunch time. I remember grilled cheese sandwiches and soup for dinner while the raindrops pinged off of the tin roof of the deck.  I love being outside in the rain, feeling it on my face, seeing it bead up on my raincoat. I love the splash of a good puddle.  I remember going out hiking almost every rainy Saturday of my childhood (I’m sure it wasn’t EVERY one, but I remember it that way), spying animals running free under the assumption that all the humans were far away.  I remember the invigorating weight of being soaked to the skin, and the joy of changing into warm clothes. Those are some of my very favorite memories.

    So I got to thinking- what traditions will I set up around rainy days for my girls? It’s supposed to rain all week, so I’m planning a flexible schedule of making cupcakes, painting, eating grilled cheese sandwiches, maybe watching a special movie,  and, of course,  getting out  in the middle of the downpour.  Those puddles won’t splash themselves, you know.

    Do you have traditions around rainy days? Any wonderful memories? Do share!

    My Christmas Was Lovely…

    Sunday, December 27th, 2009

    The Girls

    There was much eating of food and spending time with family.  I was reminded of what is really important–not the gifts, but the reaffirmed bonds.  I’m grateful for that.

    How was your Christmas?

    Abundance, or clutter? Buying, or giving?

    Monday, November 30th, 2009

    Today while Z is off to the car show with her Daddy (what can I say, the girl loves cars),  I will be scooting around town with A, finishing up the Christmas shopping. Luckily A is still small enough that even if she remembers seeing me buy a gigantic stuffed Nemo,  she won’t be able to say anything coherent about it Christmas morning. (You know, other than “feesh! feesh!”)

    (Disclaimer: I usually don’t have all the shopping done this early. But this year I  felt driven to get all of the shopping done before Thanksgiving, a goal which I obviously didn’t meet. I’m not sure if we’re going to get hit by the flu, or what, but I’ve really felt like I need to get it all done and finished. )

    My husband and I come strongly from the school of “more is more” at Christmas.  We agreed before Z’s first Christmas that when Santa came, he left a BUNCH of toys, (even though you only get to ask him for one).  There’s just something symbolic in a loving, kind man, who gives you plentiful gifts, simply because he loves you and because you tried hard to be good.

    In preparation for  the new things the girls are receiving, I cleared out a bunch of toys that they no longer play with, and in the process, realized that a lot of the toys that were hardly ever played with were those I bought at Christmas time LAST year, in an attempt to either balance out what the two girls were getting, or to just fatten out the pile. What I really ended up doing was just fattening up their room.

    So this year I’m focusing. They’re each getting their “big” toy (and a couple others), and the rest will be things I think they’ll actually use, not just filler.  I’m going for puzzles and games over cheapie plastic toys.   Books instead of junk.  Clothes instead of a repeat of something they already have.

    I read somewhere that at Christmas each kid should get something to play with, something to wear, and something to read. I really like that.

    Besides the girls, we have a decent sized extended family that everyone buys for, and of course, I usually over buy there too. (Remember that whole “gifts love language”? That was me.)  So I went really simple on presents this year, trying to focus on one thing that each person would really like.  And for the most part, I think I succeeded.

    And the result of all this? I feel like the things I’m giving will really be gifts, not just stuff. Hopefully they will have meaning to the recipient, but even if they don’t, they have meaning to me.  They really will be an expression of my love and understanding of the person I’m giving them to, not just an expression of my largesse.  And with all the presents purchased at the beginning of December, hopefully I can focus on some other elements of the season, like giving to those who could really benefit from it.

    How is your gifting going?  Do you have any great go-to gifts the rest of us could benefit from? What do YOU want for Christmas?

    It’s time for Christmas songs!

    Sunday, November 29th, 2009

    Well, Thanksgiving is over, which means the Christmas tree is up, and the Christmas music is back on the play list.

    I grew up in a Christmas music loving family – my mom finally had to institute a rule that the music couldn’t come out until July 1. Yes, you read that right.  She didn’t, however, ever give a date that we had to STOP the music, so we ended up dragging that out until at least the end of January.  I have a few Christmas songs that I listen to year round, but for the most part I keep them for the Christmas season, as a special treat.

    So today I went through and created two play lists ; one of Santa type Christmas songs (a whole 76 of them) , the other of more spiritual songs (keeping the lead at 86).  And as I made the lists, I couldn’t help but listen to some. So here, for you, are some of my favorite Christmas songs, some are admittedly cheesy, but I love them, and I bet you secretly do too.

    Christina Aguilera singing Oh Holy Night

    and with a completely different take on the song, Tracy Chapman singing O Holy Night

    Sting singing Gabriel’s Message

    Christmas by Blues Traveler

    Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) sung by U2 (Seriously, this song starts and I start grinning.)

    And now the cheese: Do They Know It’s Christmas? That link is to the concert version, which I’d never seen until today. But I link to it because 1) David Bowie starts off the song, and hello, David Bowie. 2) Everyone in it is just so freakin’ adorable. I think I just renewed about 15 old crushes. But here’s the original if you want to watch that instead.

    There are plenty more, but I’ll stop for now.

    I’m always looking for more great songs, so please, share with us your favorite songs, your favorite versions.  Link to them if you like, or just list them.

    Thank you

    Thursday, November 26th, 2009

    Today, before the bounty of turkey and pie, before the hubbub of family and friends, we hope you’ll take a moment (a second? Take what you can get!) to consider your abundance, your blessings, the moments of grace that fill your life.

    Thank you for visiting us day after day, for commenting and supporting us as we explore the ins and outs of these lives we’re living.  It wouldn’t be the same without you.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


    Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

    Some thoughts for your holiday from tonight’s Vespers Office:

    We plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the land, But it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand; He sends the snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain, The breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain.

    He only is the Maker of all things near and far; He paints the wayside flower, He lights the evening star; The winds and waves obey Him, by Him the birds are fed;  Much more to us, His children, He gives our daily bread.

    We thank You, then, O Father, for all things bright and good, The seed-time and the harvest, our life, our health, our food; Accept the gifts we offer for all Your love imparts,  And what You most desire, our humble, thankful hearts.

    (a shameless plug, but my own blog has more thoughts on Thanksgiving…)