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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*

    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!


    Friday, January 1st, 2010

    A new year! Hooray!

    I love the opportunity a new year affords me to look back, look forward, assess where I am and where I’d like to be.  Last year, right about this time, I came up with a list of themes to focus on for the year.  They were:


    I set a number of my uberlist goals around them, and tried to check in throughout the year.  I succeeded in some areas better than others; in one or two I think I actually ended up farther back than I ever started.  But it was definitely a worthwhile endeavor.

    This year, I’m just picking one word, one concept.  (I was going to pick two, with the second being “simplify”, but that seemed somewhat ironic.)

    My word for the year is connect.

    There’s just so much there. I want to connect with my family,  my body,  my friends, nature. I want to connect with a sense of peace. I want to connect the steps between wanting (ie. an organized house), and doing. I want to help others connect with new friends, new ideas. I want to connect my own thoughts in new ways.  I want to connect with the Divine.

    What are your goals for the new year? Did you come up with an uberlist? If so, please link to it! I love seeing what other people come up with! (If you want to see mine, go here.)

    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?


    Monday, December 7th, 2009

    I love new starts. I love the beginning of a new week, a new month, and the opportunity it provides to plan and create a contained set of things to get done in an established time frame.  I appreciate the repeated chance to reflect back and evaluate what worked and what didn’t; what could be changed for next time.

    So I especially love the start of a new year.

    I’m not a big one for resolutions. They’re too vague for me, it’s too easy to get discouraged. (How do you measure “Be healthier”?)

    But a to do list?  That I can do.

    To- do lists for a week, by their nature, have to be short, concise, and specific, to be in any way effective.

    To-do lists for a year? Expansive, ambitious, long.

    Enter the Uberlist.

    I’m not sure who first came up with the idea of the Uberlist; I came across it on the blog of a friend of a friend.  The idea is to come up with a to do list for the coming year, with as many items on it as the number of the year. (For the friend of a friend it started in 1998 with 98 items, and continued on, so this year had 109 items, and 2010 will have 110.)  Some of the items will be menial ( #65. Organize desk), some much bigger (#21. Go to Disneyland).  Some are things you’d do anyway, (#82 Go to dentist), others should stretch you (#34 Memorize 10 hymns).

    I’ve done an Uberlist for the last 3 years, and I love it. So far this year I’ve finished 48 of my 109 goals, which is pretty good. There’s a good chance I’ll  finish another couple before the year is out (#12 Reread a childhood favorite is a strong contender).

    I split my list into sections to make it easier to go through, and to make it easier to balance out. (It gets hard to come up with new items once you hit about 50.)  The sections I used last year were:

    Books  (ie. #11 Read something by an author I’ve always meant to try. )

    Local attractions (#19 Go to the zoo )

    Trips (#22 Visit family in Utah)

    Spirituality  (#26 Read the New Testament)

    Personal Development (#38 Make a new friend)

    Leisure (#48 Go to a musical)

    Home  (#63 Get shelving for closets)

    Writing (#78 Edit novel)

    Health  (# Floss)

    Homemaking Skills (#100 Make a master grocery shopping list)

    Entrepreneur endeavors (# 107 Come up with name for Etsy store)

    This year I’ll probably add Creativity and Education as new sections.

    But a list isn’t any good unless you use it, especially one this long, so I come up with the list during December, and then at the beginning of each month I take a look at it. I pick things off of the list I can tackle that month, and then break it into weeks.  Some things are easier to get taken care of than others, some leap to the top of the list (#70 Put away Christmas decorations), others take planning and work (#92 Make a quilt), some stay on the list for years (#55 Make curtains for Z’s room).

    And some just become unimportant and never get done.  Interests or time or circumstance change, and things listed at the beginning of the year aren’t always relevant six months later. And that’s just fine.

    The point, for me, is to catch a vision of the year to come, from the basics to the dreams. Having it written down gives me a reference point on the days that seem overly cluttered, or unusually empty. When I feel like I’m missing the mark, I can reassess.

    I keep my list on the computer, and when I finish an item I bold it. It’s visually lovely that way.

    So I’d like to invite you to join me, if you’re so inclined.  Do it by yourself, or with your family (I might try that this year). Make your list as safe or ambitious as you prefer.   If you’d like, share one or two of your list items with us. It’s always inspiring to see what other people have planned for their life.  And if you’re curious, post a number from 1-110 and I’ll tell you what that item on my Uberlist is.

    Happy planning!

    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?


    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…)

    Traditional decorations

    Monday, November 16th, 2009

    As I was growing up, our Christmas tree was always an eclectic conglomeration of ornaments that my parents had collected across the years and countries they visited. Each ornament had a story; where it was purchased, why, or for whom.  There was the ornament I snagged off of the Christmas tree at the bank as a little tyke (the bank people said I could keep it), the corn husk angels to remind us our our great grandmother, the ornaments that we made as children,  the birds.

    There were two birds that sat in the Christmas tree, just regular looking birds, nothing fancy, but to this day they are my favorite ornaments. I’m not really sure why.  But I remember being so excited each year if I got to be the one to put them in the tree- always up toward the top.

    Last year I saw a bird ornament in a store, and decided that our Christmas tree needed a bird. Doesn’t it make sense that birds would have been present at Christ’s birth, raising their voices along with the angels? So I bought the bird, and then another, and another. And this year it continued.


    Some are shiny and ornate, others are kind of homely and sweet:


    (Seriously, I die over that owl. )

    I have about 16 now, and I have no intention of stopping.  My goal this year is a tree with silver ornaments,  full of visiting birds.

    And four of those silver ornaments will look like this:


    I found these little boxes years ago, before I had kids. I snatched them up instantly, in preparation for another tradition.  Growing up we had 5 little shoe ornaments that we hung on the tree. On Christmas morning we would each find the quarter that Santa’s elf left for us in the shoe ornaments. I loved that as a kid, and when I saw these little boxes, I knew they’d be perfect. Instead of a quarter, the girls get a little treat, last year it was a little toy necklace.

    A new tradition that we’ve started is that each year the girls get an ornament that reflects their interests of the year. The ornament is delivered by “Peter Pan”, our shelf elf.  This year Z is getting a Lightning McQueen ornament, A is getting a fish. (What can I say, the girl loves fish.)

    Do you have decorations that are traditions for you? Ornaments with special meaning? Do share!