Friday, December 31, 2010

Resolution Time!

Up to this point in my life, I haven't done New Years' Resolutions. (Well, I sortof did one last year, but it wasn't really a resolution... more on that tomorrow.) I've always thought that if one has a desire to change something, one should begin when one feels the need, not when New Years happens to hit. I've always felt that 1) if you don't feel it, then it isn't going to happen, and 2) if you have to wait for a specific day to start, then you either lose momentum before you begin or you weren't really feeling it in the first place.

This year, I'm seeing a lot of really good resolutions. One of my favorites actually comes from Maria, who blogged about her success with resolutions last year. How cool is that? And then, of course, there are the 5000 people on Pioneer Woman's blog who are trying to win a Nikon camera by listing their top resolutions for the upcoming year...

So, I think I should be inspired. The trouble is, I'm not entirely sure what I should be inpired to do, or what specific steps I should take to improve myself with that inspiration.

And so I ask you- do you do New Years' Resolutions? What are you aiming for in 2011? How do you plan to turn your goals into realities?

See ya in the new year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

No TV

Have I mentioned this before? Hubby and I don't have television. We do this for several reasons.

1. I get addicted to it and don't get anything done.
2. Most of what's on tv isn't very interesting to either of us.
3. It's expensive.
4. We like reading and playing games and cooking and working on our house and are more likely to do these things if the tv isn't there as a constant temptation.

Let me tell you, it's great! I think the only thing Hubby misses is football games. I don't miss anything. Occasionally we'll find shows to watch on the internet, and we watch movies that we get from the library or redbox, but tv is not a part of our lives.

Do you have tv? What do you like/not like about your tv status? Have you ever tried going a day or a week or longer without tv? Did you love it?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gaming

Our family is not much into gaming. Oh, we play board games and card games and such, but we don't really do the gaming that requires a tv. Hubby has never lived anywhere that had a gaming system. I enjoy some gaming, but it's never really been my favorite thing to do.

For Christmas, my brothers pooled together and got us an Xbox Kinect. Have you seen them? It's like a Wii, but there is no controller. You are the controller. It has cameras and can detect exactly where you are and what your movements are. It's pretty crazy. The technology is fascinating. Hubby immediately tried to figure out exactly what the hardware was, why it worked, and why they needed 3 cameras. I forbade him from taking it apart. It's fun, though, figuring out how it works and how to move your body so that you give it the right commands. It's also fun to watch somebody who's playing waving randomly at the tv screen.

We also have 3 games. The first is the adventure game that came with the system. There are several different sport-like games that require you to jump, lean, hit, kick, and step. It's pretty fun. The games are easy to figure out, but still challenging to master.

The second is called Kinectimals. It's adorable. You adopt a big cat cub (mine's a leopard) and go around exploring their island. Your cat runs all over the place while you play various games that unlock different places. It's also easy to figure out, but most of the games are "throw the pig to knock down the statues." You end up feeling like you're six years old. At the same time, it is super easy to figure out, which is a big point it its favor. It's possible that the games get more difficult when you progress. If not, well, it's still adorable and it will be great when Schprid gets a little older.

The last is a dance game. I don't remember what it's called, but it's what DDR wanted to be. Because there is no controller, no step pad, your movements are much closer to actual dancing. There are arm sweeps, and steps, and hip movements, and punches. You have to get both the movements and the timing correct. It's really pretty cool. Unfortunately, I was never very good at DDR, or even Guitar Hero, which is the same basic concept but doesn't make you all sweaty. This is far more sophisticated than that. I think I will enjoy it, at some point. Right now, I can't move very well or for very long. The big belly impedes the whole dancing thing. Also, instead of giving you an avatar that mimics your movements on the screen, the game actually photoshops you out of your background and places your picture in the screen's background. So, as I played this game for the first few steps of an embarrassing dance, I was watching myself, big bellied, flabby-armed, and newbie awkward, right next to the gorgeous, skinny, and very talented cartoon head dancer. Like I said, I think I'll enjoy it eventually- after Wooble comes and my body starts to return to its normal dimensions.

Overall, it's really fun. At the same time, it's a completely different experience than other gaming systems I've played. For one thing, because it is more active, it's harder to play for extended periods of time. You can't just sit and veg and try to defeat the bad guys... the bad guys are lethargy and laziness. At this point, we can only play for an hour or so before the bad guys defeat us. :) I think, too, that it will be a lot of fun once they get some adventure-type games like Zelda where you have to pull out your sword and swipe at zombies, or figure out various puzzles. In the meantime, I'll wait until I can move again, and then enjoy the dancing one quite a bit and maybe invest in the Zumba game... fun times. :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Babies and Big Girls

Schprid had a good Christmas. Santa brought her her very own baby. We made the mistake of giving that to her as one of her first presents. She wasn't interested in very much else the rest of the day. She carries baby around, feeds her, rocks her, hugs her... it's the cutest thing I've ever seen. It's amazing to me how much her mommy instincts have come out.

We got her a new room, with a brand new big-girl bed. (We've reclaimed the Princess Room! It's no longer bright pink and purple. It's white with butterflies. It's very cute, very feminine, very light and airy and cozy.) We had moved the majority of her toys in there the day before, but she didn't get to see it with the bedspread, and curtains, and wall decorations until Christmas day.

She had mixed reactions about the new room. She loved it when we were all awake and playing with toys. She can climb up on the bed by herself, which is all sorts of fun! Bedtimes were hard, though. It was fairly traumatic, getting a new room and a big girl bed all in one fell swoop. We put her down for a nap, and she cried and cried and cried and didn't sleep very much. That night, she had a hard time falling asleep, and then she fell out of bed. The next day, she cried a little bit when we put her down for a nap, but by bedtime she was pretty much okay with it. Yesterday, she had the whole big bed thing figured out. No crying for either nap or bedtime, and she stayed put when we left the room. It was great. She fell out of bed once last night, and cried, and when Hubby went in to rescue her, she gave him a hug, then very determinedly grabbed bear, and bunny, and baby, and went back to bed to sleep through the night without further problems.

I was nervous about the transition, but let me tell you- I'm loving it. I love that she can get out of bed when she wakes up and keep herself occupied with her toys in a baby-safe room while I shower, or cook, or whatever other Mommy things I need to do. (You know, blogging, finishing my chapter... whatever.) It was a rocky start, but I think the new room will end up being just perfect for all of us.

And, in a couple of weeks, we can start putting together Wooble's room. That'll be fun.

I'll try to post pictures of the new bedroom soon... right after I find my camera.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Keeping the Spirit Alive- Christmas Traditions

The Schedule:

7 AM: Opening Stockings (This cannot be done before 7 AM!)
7:30: Showers, getting dressed, getting ready for the day (Please wear something nice- we are celbrating our Savior's birthday, after all.)
9 AM: Breakfast (Usually it's pull-apart bread, eggs benedict, oranges, egg nog, and milk.)
10 AM: Clean up the breakfast dishes (The kitchen should be quite clean when we're done.)
10:30: Open presents (Youngest person starts, and their job is to hand out three presents that don't go to them. When those three are opened, the next youngest person goes, and so on up the line until all the presents have been distributed. This allows everyone to see what everyone else got. It also gives everyone the chance to feel the joy of giving twice-once for the presents they bought, and once again for the presents they're handing out. Also, soft Christmas music should be playing in the background.)
11:30: Clean up wrapping and boxes, insert batteries into new toys, read instruction manuals, assemble toys, and in general enjoy everybody's presents.
2:30: Begin cooking
4 PM: Sit down to the big meal (This year we had lamb curry, grilled zuccini, and Martinelli's. Martinelli's is always requisite for Christmas dinner. Dinner should be served on china if possible.)
5 PM: Roll away from the table (At this point, try to do dishes. At the very least, put the food away so it can be enjoyed for the next several days as well.)
7 PM: Wake up from the food-induced coma and start playing games. (Try to play new ones that were received for Christmas. If no new games were received, then go for old favorites. Games can last for as long as desired. At some point, dessert should be served to augment games.)
Evening: Collapse on the couch, listen to music or general ambiance, and stare at the Christmas tree, enjoying the bounty of life, the birth of Christ, the gathering of family, and the peace in your heart.

And at some point, watch these videos, because they're awesome:
Silent Monks
Digital Christmas

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Santa Theory

Hubby has a theory. You see, he believes that Santa really does exist. However, given that it really isn't feasible for the jolly elf to visit all 6 million people on the planet in one night, even with a magic sleigh, he's gotten smart over the years.

He outsources.

He has very cleverly cultivated both belief and skepticism about his existence. He makes the parents feel responsible for doing his job. That way, the families that believe in him do his job for him, leaving him to concentrate on the families that need him more. The job still gets done, and he still has to work very hard throughout the year, but he leaves the parents to do a lot of the grunt work.

I like it. I feel like I'm part of something special, being Santa's helper.

Do you perpetuate/plan to perpetuate the Santa story with your kids?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

It snowed last night. It snowed all day yesterday, too. The two days before that, it rained. It's been beautiful.

Currently, there is a foot of snow adorning our yard. Schprid and I will be staying inside today, thank you. I'm a little worried about my horse, though. There's enough shelter out there that he could stick some of his body under a roof, but I'm not sure that it would be enough protection, or even that he would go there. Most horses don't appreciate human-made shelter very much. I wouldn't be worried about him, either, if it were just snow. But the rain for the first two days soaked him through to the skin, and then it turned colder and started snowing. I don't know what to do for him right now except give him a little extra feed- extra calories to help keep him warm. Maybe I'll squeeze him in the garage for a couple of hours and try to get him dried off, at least. And hopefully next year we'll have some sort of a shelter built for him, poor guy.

But the snow sure is pretty, isn't it?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Snot Monsters

*cough*
*hack*
*wheeze*
*sniffle*
*sneeze*

These were the sounds emanating from our house this weekend. Yes, my friends, we were all transformed from the happy, jolly family of norm into leaking, snorting monsters. It started with Hubby, and progressed to the rest of the house. First Schprid and I got sick, then the living room (it started spewing out blankets, tissues, and even clothes), then the kitchen (it started growing a terrifiying fungus called dishes, which has grown and spread at a prodigious rate). It's even spread a little bit to the bedrooms, which have sprouted a few tissues of their own. It was terrifying.

We confined ourselves to the house, constrained ourselves with the blankets, and did our best to drug each other into submission. Perhaps, we reasoned, since it started with us, the house would get better if we did.

It almost worked. We're mostly better now. We feel better, at least, even if we are still leaking and hacking a little bit. At any rate, Christmas waits for no monster, and we have things to do, so, better or not, we're better.

The house, on the other hand, still needs some serious medicine. Hubby gave it a good dose yesterday, but it'll be a team effort to get it back to the state it was in.

Do you suppose NyQuil helps to cure dishes?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Good Books: Temeraire

A couple years ago, I got hubby fascinated with fantasy. He still reads other things, but after reading a few of the fantasy books I recommended, he has branched out and is now recommending fantasy books for me.

Currently, we are reading the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. It's about dragons.

It's an interesting twist on most dragon series, though. It's set in our world, during the Napoleanic era. In fact, the dragons themselves are fighting in the wars both with and against Napolean.

So far, we're both really enjoying them. It's fantasy, a little bit of history, and the writing is a rather uniqe style. It's definitely engaging to read, but there are phrases and choices of wording that definitely sound like they come from the era in which the story is set. It gives the whole series a sense of reality that is requisite in a fantasy story.

Also, while there is a little bit of swearing (think British aristocratic soldiers) and obviously some fighting, there isn't much gore, which is easy to incorporate into fantasy. There also isn't much in the way of sexual innuendos. What is there is presented with the childlike innocence and curiosity of a young dragon and obscured by the narrative of the somewhat prudish gentleman who is both the dragon's handler and the main character of the story.

Well done, Naomi Novik!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wise Words

One day, as I was soaking in the bathtub and pondering the complexities of the universe, I stumbled upon two old sayings that, in my mind, contradict each other. The first is this:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.

It seems simple enough: if you have not been physically harmed, then you haven't really been hurt at all. Shrug it off and go on with your life. It's a fairly effective way to get kids from retaliating against others who have been mean to them. The second, however, goes like this:

The pen is mightier than the sword.

Many a politician, businessman, public figure and child have felt the truth of this statement. Personally, I tend to subscribe more to the second statement than the first. I believe that words can harm a person deeply. At the same time, words can often be easier to heal from than a physical wound.

So now I'm curious. What do you think?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nothing for Granted

With the Parelli program, you typically use a halter, lead rope, and carrot stick. The carrot stick is a 4-foot-long fiberglass orange stick with a six-foot-long string at the end of it. It is what we use to cue the horse, and also to enforce our cues.

The horse's first introduction to the carrot stick should be friendly game, where the stick is rubbed all over him, swung around him, and used in such a way that he learns to trust you with a stick in your hands.

I've done this step. While he's haltered, Cruise stands for it very nicely. A couple weeks ago, I went to catch him with the stick in my hands. I usually leave the stick somewhere else and just go to catch him with the halter. When I approached him with the stick, he took off.

Hmm. How interesting!

So, we've been playing the catching game/friendly game with the carrot stick lately. Apparently he doesn't trust me with it, yet. We'll get there, I think. It's a little disheartening, though, when I think of how far we have yet to go before a real friendship can blossom.

But yesterday I made him think! Success!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Conversation

I would like to state upfront that I absolutely love my children- both of them. I am so grateful to have them in my life, and even to be their mother. That being said...

I've mentioned that I dislike pregnancy, right? Hence, I try to hide the fact for as long as possible. Here I am, 5 1/2 months along, and there are many people who are just finding out that I'm pregnant. I've been having this conversation a lot lately:

Friend: Did I hear you're expecting?
Me: Yep.
Friend: Congratulations!
Me: Thanks.

It's nice. It's polite. I really appreciate the sentiment.

That being said...

Here's the conversation that happens in my head: (Warning- this may get a little crude.)

Friend: Did I hear you're expecting? Oh, dear, here comes the conversation again. Smile!

Me: Yep. I.e.: guess what I've been doing!

Friend: Congratulations! (At this point, the voice in my head gets very excited and sarcastically happy.) Congratulations? Oh- congratulations on the feeling sick every day for two months straight. Or- congratulations on the big belly and clothes that don't fit. Or- congratulations that in a few months, you'll be experiencing one of the most painful experiences known to man followed by at least 3 months of not getting to sleep through the night and having a little bundle of joy attached to an appendage for a year or so. Thanks... thanks for the congratulations. I don't understand it, but I'm grateful.

Me: Thanks. Congratulate me when the kid makes it to his tenth birthday.



P.S. I think I failed at making this post funny. It sounded so good in my head... stupid voices.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Her Own Thing

Yesterday, my baby girl went to nursery for the first time. We got through the first hour of Church okay, with no more than the usual amount of climbing around, squealing, banging hymnbooks and other squirrellery. Then, instead of dragging her along to the boring adult class, we marched her down the hall and delivered her into the hands of the nursery ladies.

They were thrilled to see her. Schprid attracts attention wherever she goes, and they had both seen her at other functions. They immediately picked her up, made off with her, and introduced her to some lovely new toys. We, her lonely parents, were left standing at the doorway, wondering what to do with ourselves. Finally, we left, without so much as a goodbye.

She was brought back to us 45 minutes later. Stinky diaper. Nursery ladies put up with a lot, but that's where they draw the line. I went and changed her, then marched her right back down the hall to the nursery. When we got there, she voluntarily let go of my hand, walked through the door, and made her way over to one of the other little girls who was playing in the room. Never even turned around. I was left, alone, standing in the doorway, all by myself...

And then I marched myself back to my meeting. You know what? It was awesome. It was weird, being able to pay attention to the lesson. But I got to pay attention to the lesson!!! I gained new insights! I learned stuff! I didn't have to constantly pay attention to the little person who could not be contained and so sedately wandered around in front of the classroom. It was joyful.

After church, I went to go pick her up. The nursery ladies said she did great, and made sure she had her picture that she had colored to take home. It was good. My little girl is growing up. She has her own little thing to go to now, all by herself. *sniff, sniff*

*jumps for joy*

*sniff*

*smile*

I think I'm conflicted...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Coccoon or Pregnant Sleeping

These days, sleeping has become quite the affair. I've reached the point where, even though it's still difficult to see that I'm pregnant, everything has become that much more difficult. When lying in bed, I can feel the weight of my stomach. It pulls forward on my back when I lay on my side; it presses down on my spine when I lay on my back. Since I'm not supposed to lay on my back, I try to lay on my side. Unfortunately, this further squishes my already compressed lungs and I find it hard to breath.

So, when I go to bed at night, I build myself a little cocoon. Or rather, since I can't really move very well by that point in the day, Hubby usually builds it for me. There's a body pillow that lies against my back. It pushes me forward ever so slightly and keeps me from rolling onto my back throughout most of the night. There's a pillow that goes between my knees. I don't know why this helps, but my back and hips feel better throughout the day when I use it. Usually, it's the body pillow bent to an angle and shoved between my knees. In front, I hold a dog. It's a stuffed puppy that is just the right size for hugging. This keeps my ribcage open enough that I can actually breath while lying on my side. One of his little legs gets stuffed under my belly to help support it throughout the night.

When I'm all tucked in, covers over me, pillows surrounding me, and Hubby has turned off the light and wriggled into the remaining space in the bed, our cat jumps up and snuggles, purring at the top of her lungs, right on the body pillow. Occasionally we have some disagreement over where exactly she should sleep, and I have to firmly insist that she not sleep on top of me, but eventually we all get settled down.

It's a cozy scene, really- Me, Hubby, Wooble, body pillow, puppy, and cat. Maybe tonight I'll invite Schprid to come sleep with us, and see how well we can make room for her. Heck, if that works, maybe I'll invite the horse, too.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

More Schooling

This is the real issue, the one that I wanted to post yesterday, but the back story got a little long. Sorry about that.

Schprid is 17 months old. It's probably a little early to start worrying about the school issue just yet. I mean, it would be good if she could start her schooling years with the ability to say Mommy. We'll want to get her out of diapers first, too.

Regardless, the method of schooling I want for my kids has been on my mind a lot over the past few years. Here's what I've come up with so far:

Public School: This is the way to go for a "normal" childhood. There will be all sorts of socialization, and learning to work under deadlines and with various types of personalities, both in peers and in teachers. Extracurricular activities will be easily accessible. Homework is pretty much a given, which means that my children will spend 6+ hours in school only to come home and have more schooling that I will need to help them with.

Private School: There are still many opportunities for socialization, for working under deadlines, and for extracurricular activities. This option costs more than the public schooling option. Homework may or may not be given, depending on the school and the method of teaching used. Travel time to and from school may be significantly increased. The amount of time spent in school each day is still 6+ hours.

Homeschool: Socialization, working with different types of teachers, and working under a schedule will take significantly more effort on my part. School time can fairly easily be shortened to 4 hours per day. I will have complete control over what my kids are taught and the amount of one-on-one attention they receive. I will know that my children are being taught at the pace that works best for them. Field trips can be an integral part of schooling. My house may never ever be clean.

I was homeschooled for half a year, before we moved to Hollister. Because I was used to the public school system, I didn't feel like I learned very much because I didn't spend a lot of time doing schoolwork. At the same time, that is when I was introduced to the Saxon Math program, which I completely love, and I also discovered one of my all-time favorite books, My Side of the Mountain.

I love the idea of homeschooling. I think there is so much to be said for the family togetherness that results, for the chance that kids have to learn things besides the basics in school, and for the opportunity to integrate various interests into the curriculum. I love the idea that kids have time to have a life besides school. And, admittedly, I like the idea that sometimes school can be done in one's pajamas.

I'm nervous, however, about the administrative side of homeschooling. I'm not a morning person. I would have a hard time getting everybody up and started on the day by 9 AM. For goodness' sake, it's 8:30 right now, and I'm still in my bathrobe. Usually at this time in the morning, I'm still asleep. I'm afraid of administering tests. I'm afraid that a child of mine is going to get stuck on some concept and I'm going to get stuck right there with them, because I want them to understand it and so keep grinding it into their heads and they're going to give up on it and then we're going to collapse in a mindless puddle of non-progression.

At the same time, I don't trust big schools. Apparently there are some private schools with really good teaching philosophies, but they still have to waste a lot of my child's time because there are so many kids in each classroom. Plus, it feels like I'm just throwing my kids out of the house to be raised by somebody else for 6 hours of every day. While the break would be nice, is it worth it?

Public schools make me extremely nervous, and I was pre-"no child left behind." I've heard that things have gone downhill since then. I hate the idea of homework. I also don't think that being in a public school is a good indicator of whether or not a child will learn how to work well with others. I didn't learn how to make friends until I had been in college for a couple years, and I almost always felt awkward and unsure of myself.

Where do you weigh in on the school issue? What type of schooling did you have? What type of schooling do you plan to use/did you use for your kids? Why?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Schooling

Once upon a time, I went to school. And, let's face it, I'm still there. Oh, I've taken a few breaks here and there, but between the not knowing what I wanted to do in life, and the hating the school system, and working through school while I took classes very slowly, I'm still there. I've worked for 10 years (so far) to get one of the easiest degrees known to man.

Truthfully, I'm not as bitter about this as I sound. I like to learn slowly. I like to soak up the material that I'm learning. I hate the deadlines. That's why, right now, I'm taking Human Anatomy as an independent study class and have a year to finish it. Well, there's that, and the fact that I don't have to go look at human cadavers in the independent study version. Blech!

Anyway, here's the thing. You ready? I hope so, because here it comes:

When I was nine, I was blessed to move to Hollister. In and of itself, it's not that cool a place. What made it cool was the 600 acre ranch I grew up on, and the school I went to there. It was a two-room schoolhouse. There were 40 kids from kindergarten through 8th grade. My grandmother was the principle. She also taught grades k-4. I was under her tutelage for half a year before I moved into The Upper Grades. It was a nerve-wracking transition. All the older, cool kids were there, and I didn't know the teacher. Scary.

As it turned out, the teacher was amazing. She was one of the best teachers I've ever had. Because of the structure and setup of the school, each student received one-on-one attention from her in any topic and any assignment. She didn't do the work for us, but she taught us how to think our way through it. Also, we learned to type. When we were able to pass off the keyboard, we were able to do our classwork on the computer. Yes, that means there was a computer per student in the upper grade classroom.

The day-to-day basic structure was fairly routine, including math, spelling, phonix, history, science, P.E., and language, but occasionally there were also amazing projects. I remember once we divided up into teams and strategized our way through the civil war. (The North still won. Slavery was still abolished. All is well with the world, no worries.) Once or twice a year, we would do individual research projects, but here's the kicker: they were done completely on the computer, on a program called hypercard. We created links to go from one page to another. We created animations. We used graphics. The information and the grammar all had to be correct, but we could choose any topic we wanted and decorate them any way we wanted. How cool was that?

Also, there was no assigned homework. Ever. We were required to finish our school assignments. If we didn't get the work done in class, then we had homework. When we did get the work done in class, we had a free afternoon. I rarely had homework. My brothers almost never did. My poor little sister had homework every day of her life. Such were our choices. Our choices. We had power over our little lives.

In that two-room schoolhouse, I enjoyed learning, I enjoyed the structure, and I even came to enjoy school.

Then came high school, and the worst four years of my life. I won't enumerate all the evils, except to say that I struggled with the overcrowded atmosphere and classes, the apparent lack of teacher concern over both the individual student and (in some cases) the subject material, the inevitable homework, and the fact that most of my peers had far more interest in getting out of real work than they did in actually learning anything. To be fair, there were a few teachers to truly cared, and their classes were both fun and enlightening, which made them seem easy.

Sadly, the same themes seemed to me to carry over into college life. I had a little more freedom in the classes I chose to take and how I spent each day, but, having known what a good education felt like, what it felt like to really learn and stretch and have a constant resource to whom I could always turn for help, I have been sorely disappointed in the way the rest of the school system seems to run.

I know that each person experiences school differently; what were your experiences? Did you find school to be generally a positive or negative experience? Why? What one thing would you change about the way you were schooled?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Feel

This Christmas will be our third together since getting married, but to me it feels like our first. The last two we spent with our families, which was tons of fun. This Christmas we're spending at home. Better yet, we have a home where we can spend Christmas.

Last weekend we decorated. We got ourselves a real tree, some lights, a few ornaments, and a gorgeous angel. We pulled out the other three boxes of Christmas decorations that we've been hauling around from apartment to apartment. We rearranged our furniture. We have plans to put up lights outside. Last night for Family Home Evening, we pulled out the brand new Nativity set that was my parents' birthday present to me and we taught Schprid about the baby Jesus.

The whole house is permeated with the scent of pine and the sense of peace and excitement. All of a sudden, this house in which we've been living and working and improving and infusing our own personalities feels like home. This is the place where the good things in life happen. This is the place where we come to rest from the business and busy-ness of the outside world. This is where we learn, where we grow, where we enjoy our lives and we enjoy each other. This is our home, and at last I have come to rest.

Monday, December 6, 2010

All Things Birthday

Aren't birthdays fun? I just love them.

Just a quick report... a few months ago, my Dad came into town for my Grandma's birthday party. That was fun in and of itself, but he also brought me an early birthday present, which I convinced him to let me open early. It was a gorgeous Nativity set. We get to put that up tonight and teach Schprid about Jesus. Yay!

On Friday, the in-laws came to town. They brought some of Ryan's old things, including a very cool toy box/bench that I intend to turn into a costume box. Then they took us up to Salt Lake where they treated us to Benihana and a carriage ride. Benihana was cool... it's a Japanese steak house where you sit at the grill and watch the chef prepare your meal right before your eyes. He made a volcano out of onions and vinegar. Schprid was fascinated. The food was good, too. I've decided that I need a salt grinder. The carriage ride was awesome. Every time I've been to Salt Lake City near Christmastime, I've watched the carriages being pulled by the gorgeous draft horses and I have drooled. This year, thanks to the glorious generosity of Hubby's parents, I was able to go on one. And yes, it was everything I've ever dreamed. Our horse was a beautiful Percheron named Sisco. He was a little psycho and never wanted to stop, but our driver just stuck the horse's nose on the tail end of another carriage, and he did just fine. It was fun getting to see some of the scenery of Salt Lake City at a slow pace, with a knowledgeable guide, without the stress of trying to negotiate through the traffic. And there's something about carriage rides that is just cool. I'm excited to get our cart set up for driving with one horse. That will be a good day.

Sunday, my actual birthday, was a very good day. As always, Hubby spoiled me atrociously. He gave me my presents that morning before the day's activities began. He got me a 25 foot rope so I can better play with my pony. Schprid got me a measuring spoon set (for some reason I didn't have a tablespoon!) and a teflon-safe wisk. What a good little shopper! After Church, Hubby made me pasta with grilled chicken and zuccini, which was absolutely amazing, and then he did dishes while I read a book. He made me a white cake which he then let me frost and sprinkle, which was fun, and he taught me his family's tradition of non-birthday people getting to make wishes, too.

We ended the day with a massage that was glorious and put me to sleep for about 11 hours. Ah, this is the life. Good times. Good times indeed.

Thanks to all who called or facebooked or texted or even snail-mailed. Birthday wishes are always wonderful!

And, for those of you who have been dying to know the answer to the pop quiz question below, it is this:

A horse is thinking if he is licking his lips and chewing. A soft eye is pretty much always a part of it, as are relaxed muscles, but licking and chewing are sure signs.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

It's cold. Okay, so right now it's like 40 degrees, which isn't that cold, but the overall general trend right now is that it's cold.

For those of you who work with horses, you know that it's not terribly fun to work with horses when it's cold. Either it's so cold that everything freezes the moment you walk out the door, or it's just warm enough that everything starts to melt and then it's also cold and muddy. Eeewwww!

Fortunately, I have the perfect excuse to not go out and play extensively with my horse this winter: I'm pregnant! Woohoo! What? I don't have to go ride my horse? What if it's a warmish day and I want to? Too bad! It's not a good idea for me to ride right now! I don't have to feel guilty because I don't want to go outside and freeze!

Okay, here's the thing, though. I do want to keep playing with my horse throughout the winter. I need to, both for his sanity and for mine.

So, the other day as I was filling up his water bucket, I went out with my halter, lead rope, and carrot stick, and we played. I never even caught him, and the session only lasted the 15 minutes or so that it took to fill the trough, but in those few minutes, I got him thinking. I love it when he does that. It makes me feel like I'm making progress with him. Plus, he's cute when he thinks.

So there's my goal: At least once a week (at this point, though I'd like to make it more often) I'll go out for just a few minutes and do something that makes Cruise think. If I can get him to think, I will have been a success for that session. The hope is that by doing this throughout the winter, he and I will have much more trust for each other in the Spring when (after Wooble is born) I can do more playing with him. Here's hoping!

Okay, pop quiz time:

How do you know when a horse is thinking? 12 points if you get the answer right!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Big Winnah!

Thanks to *ahem* ...all who participated in this round of Finish This. Much fun was had by all contestants, I'm sure. ;)

The lead-in was this:
I had seen its like before, though rarely, and never quite like this. It was black...

Congrats to Lynn, who wins 75 cool points with this entry:

but not quite black, more of a dark brown, so dark that you had to really study it to see that it was black. It was vinyl, but looked so close to leather that it was hard to believe it was really vinyl. It defied decor, as nothing matched this hand-me-down loveseat, but my husband loved it so we kept it.

And my continuation is this:

It was black, and fuzzy, with a line of bright green spots running down its length. It crawled ever-so-slowly down the length of the leaf, consuming bits out of the middle, leaving the foliage riddled with holes. It was a fascinating specimen, and I reached for my camera. With these pictures, with this caterpillar, I could finally write an article that would mean something in the world of science. As I held up my camera to take the pictures that would make my name known, the caterpillar raised its little head, as if to pose. At that moment, a small bird swooped down, plucked up the rare creature, and downed it in one gulp. I almost shouted. With that one bite, two months of searching through mosquito infested, humid, putrid jungle had been wasted. In abject despair, I snapped a picture of the offending bird and started my journey back down the slender tree in which I was perched. Someday, perhaps, when I'd gotten over my tears, this would make a good story. Someday.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

One More Little Detail

Hey! I forgot to mention in yesterday's post that the winner of this contest receives 75 cool points! That's right, friends, that is 75 points, redeemable for absolutely nothing, for you to gloat about to your friends and feel good about for the rest of your life.

Also, my birthday is in four days, just in case you were wondering. :):):)

Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to me...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Finish This!

The last time we played this game was so much fun that I decided to do another one! Anybody who reads, writes, or breathes is welcome to play, and the more the merrier!

The Rules:

For today's game, each entry must be at least 3 sentences long. It can have any content (please keep it clean!) and it can definitely be longer than 3 sentences. The game will run until Thursday at noon, at which time a winner will be chosen. If you want to play but don't want your comment shown, feel free to email me at missjedi@gmail.com. If you want to play but don't want anybody to read your entry, feel free to copy my lead-in to a word document and type away. But we want to read your entries. Just so you know.

Today's lead-in:

I had seen it's like before, though rarely, and never quite like this. It was black...

Have fun!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Welcome!

Today, I would like to offer a great big warm welcome to everybody.

Welcome to the Christmas Season! With the lights, the goodies, the Christmas trees, the happy music, the warm smiles, and the nativity scenes set up everywhere, this truly is one of the happiest times of the entire year. Welcome to Joy!

Welcome to the Snow! For the first time in my life, I can look outside my window at my yard that is covered in beautiful snow. The pasture has horse tracks that crisscross from one fence to another, and Cruise is a beautiful, fuzzy, black contrast to the scene. I see the tracks that I made through the yard last night when I went to feed him. I see the shoveled driveway that tells me of the care, and concern, and loving devotion my husband showed last night even after a crazy weekend of traveling. I see all that, and feel the warmth that envelopes me from the house with its pretty new furnace and comfortable furnishings, and I am grateful for it all. Welcome to all that Winter means!

Last and best of all...

Welcome to My Birthday Season! That's right, friends. My birthday is on Sunday. And as much as I absolutely love Christmas, as much as the Holiday Season brings true joy to my heart, very little brings the immediate excitement and the big smile to my face like my Birthday! So if, for this week, I mention every single day that my birthday is coming up, just know that every time I do, I am singing a little song to myself. I skip and frolic. I thoroughly enjoy the anticipation of coming up to the day that is all about celebrating ME. :) Welcome to the Best Time of the Year!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!!! It's shaping up to be a wonderful one. Already, Hubby is home with me for 5 whole days. It didn't snow terribly much last night, which means getting out of the city to go to Idaho today will be a piece of cake. Yesterday, after he got home from work, we ate homemade pizza, Hubby did the dishes, we played with Schprid, then put her to bed and played The Farming Game. Then we watched a movie. We stayed up way too late and had way too much fun. Yeah, it'll be a glorious weekend.

I won't be able to post, probably, until Monday. Sorry about that. I'll try, but I make no guarantees. In the meantime, because I believe in being grateful, I'd like to give you two categories in which to post comments.

The first:
Right now, as you're sitting here at your computer reading this blog, what are you grateful for? Don't think! Just type!

I'm grateful for beach-sized bath towels, for blinds that cover big windows, for my cat who is patiently waiting for breakfast, and for indoor plumbing that allows me to take care of morning hygiene without having to brave the 15 degree weather outside. I'm also grateful to all of you for reading my blog!

The second:
As you think about your life, with all of its ups, downs, and sideways-es, what are the big things that have made an impact in your life? What are you most grateful for overall?

I'm grateful for God, and for the knowledge that He is guiding my life to places I would never think to go on my own. I'm grateful that God guided me to my wonderful husband, who is a far better partner and friend than I could have imagined or believed possible. I'm grateful that said husband loves me and wants me and that I can make him happy. I'm grateful for Schprid and Wooble and for the love that constantly grows and flows from me to them and back again. I am grateful for wonderful extended family on both sides who love and support us in everything we do. And, for this year especially, I am profoundly grateful for our house, our animals, and the comfortable life which we live.

I'm excited to read your comments. I love the exercise of being grateful, and hearing what you are grateful for always gives me new appreciation for what I have.

Write happy!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wise Words

One day, as I was soaking in the bathtub and pondering the complexities of the universe, I stumbled upon two old sayings that, in my mind, contradict each other. The first is this:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.

It seems simple enough: if you have not been physically harmed, then you haven't really been hurt at all. Shrug it off and go on with your life. It's a fairly effective way to get kids from retaliating against others who have been mean to them. The second, however, goes like this:

The pen is mightier than the sword.

Many a politician, businessman, public figure and child have felt the truth of this statement. Personally, I tend to subscribe more to the second statement than the first. I believe that words can harm a person deeply. At the same time, words can often be easier to heal from than a physical wound.

So now I'm curious. What do you think?

Slightly Unsightly

That's a cool phrase. You should say it. Slightly unslightly. Now try to say it ten times fast. Just kidding.

So, we have a lot of manure. That happens, when you have a horse. Over the summer, we would often go out, gather it up, and place it in a nice heaping mound in a designated area of the pasture. We fully intend to use it to start a garden. It may not actually happen next summer, what with all the other things we'll having going on, but at the very least we can set up our garden area, which we already have planned out. It'll be good. Stinky, but otherwise good.

In the meantime, we've had several holes that we've used the manure to fill in. Many of them have been in the pasture, so it didn't matter anyway. We'd pull out cement pilings, then fill the hole with manure. We pulled out a chicken coop, and underneat it the ground had been scratched and pecked away and created a dangerous slope toward the garage. No worries, we filled it with manure! It was a great system. We figured that it'll turn to dirt soon anyway, and this way the ground will be nice and fertile for the springtime.

Our driveway is very long. We could probably line four cars up end-to-end from the garage to the street. There is a driveway-sized piece of dirt running alongside the driveway. It used to have gravel on it, but the gravel has gotten churned into the dirt underneat until the dirt itself is hard, and gross, and holds water spectacularly well. Last spring, when we were moving in, we utilized the dirt area a lot. Our tires left ruts, which then hardened in the summer sun and, because of the gravel, kept the shape of the ruts. There were two holes that formed and we had so many other things we were thinking about that we just never bothered to worry about it, until last Saturday.

We figured that with the snow coming on, it would be a good idea to flatten out those holes before they're just big ice pits. So what did we do? Why, we filled them with manure, of course!

It really is a good idea, when all is said and done. I just didn't think about the fact that the manure is very much darker than the rest of the dirt in the area, or about the fact that you notice the smell more when it's not out in the pasture where it belongs. Nor did I consider that as the manure is turning to dirt in our driveway, it would be subject to the weather. It rained shortly after we filled in those holes, and the water that seeped out of them was a dark, mucky color. Eww. I mentioned to Hubby that it's slightly unsightly. He responded with the fact that the rest of our yard is also slightly unsightly, which, oddly, made me feel better.

Next year, we have big plans for the yard. It'll be good. In the meantime, I get a close-up view of how manure actually turns into dirt. Yay.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Halloween Pictures- Finally!

So I don't have a lot of pictures, but the ones I do have are kinda fun. I figured I should probably get Halloween's pictures up before we head out for Thanksgiving. So, here we go. Enjoy!

This one, obviously, is Hubby and Schprid. Note the roll in her hand. We had just eaten dinner at the ward activity, and she was entranced by all the weird people wandering around. She was too interested to be able to eat much. However in this picture, they were standing right by the food table, and she's very interested in the possibilities. Little does she know what awaits her outside- Trick or Treating!

Here they are, about to head out. Note that she still has a very firm hold on her roll. (She's an M&M, in case it's hard to make out in the pictures!)


And here is Hubby, looking about as sexy as I've ever seen him. I mean, he always looks good, but there's something about the casual stance, the loose tie, the scruff, the hat, the slight smile... Mmm.


















And here I am... oh, wait. No, I'm not. We forgot to get pictures of me. That's okay, really. When all is said and done, a pregnant pirate just isn't that cool. We'll get better pictures next year.
Add Video

Friday, November 19, 2010

Nail Polish

The Problem: After spending five mintes oh-so-carefully applying nail polish and ten minutes letting it dry and an hour of doing everything carefully so it doesn't smudge, nail polish chips after four hours, rendering that part of your day and time and care and energy and effort absolutely pointless.

The Other Problem: One likes to look pretty. Seeing nicely done nails engaging in any task automatically makes that task seem cooler. (I hooked up a hose to a faucet the other day. All around me was mud and muck and grossness, but my nails looked really cool as I screwed on that hose.) However, chipped nails completely negate that effect, to the point of making tasks look worse, because you can't even keep your nails looking nice.

The Other Other Problem: Manicures are expensive. Whether or not you get fake nails, it's at least $15 every two weeks to have somebody you can barely understand do your nails for you. But those manicures last forever.

Ever wonder why that is?

I did. It frustrated me to no end. So, one day, I went to the repository of all knowledge (thank you, Google!) and looked it up. I learned some tricks, and I will now share them with you.

I know. I'm that kind. ;)

First, nail polish remover is an important first step. It removes the body oils from your nails and makes it so the polish has a clean surface to stick to. (I'd always seen manicurists do this, but figured they were just paranoid that I had some remnant of nail polish left over on my nails. Who knew there was a purpose to it?)

Second, use a base coat. Not a base/top coat, because they have different purposes, but the base coat is like primer. It gets your nails ready to take the color. Use a thin coat.

Third, do your color when the base coat is still slightly tacky. This gives the color a little more incentive to stick to your nails. Do thin coats (I often do two) rather than one thick coat.

Fourth, cover with a top coat. This is not clear nail polish; this is a clearly labeled "Top Coat." Let all the layers dry thoroughly before doing major construction or taking a shower. At this point, it's the normal nail polish routine... the blowing, the not smudging, the reading a magazine for half an hour or so until they really are dry.

Each manicure lasts about a week before you start to notice serious chips. This is a week of hand-washing dishes (we don't have a dishwasher, so I wash a lot of dishes by hand!) and taking care of a horse and a cat and doing laundry and chasing after a 1-year-old with all her messes. It's still not quite as good as professional, but it's a loooooong way better than pre-trick manicures!

Now, the Base Coat and Top Coat I found at a grocery store for $6/bottle. It's a little expensive, I'll grant you. At the same time, it's waaaaaaaay cheaper than getting professional manicures! I got the Revlon brand. They work great. And I get many good manicures for $12 instead of one for $15. Great deal. Still a somewhat frivolous expense, but worth it, in my mind.

Happy Painting!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

No Deal

We're going to Grammy and Grampa O's house for Thanksgiving this year. It should be a lot of fun. Thanksgivings usually are.

Just a note about Grammy, Hubby's wonderful mother, my Mother-In-Law...

She's crazy.

She's delightful, and bubbly, and happy, and a morning person, and crazy. Everyone in the family knows this.

She asked us what we wanted for Thanksgiving dinner. Because I am who I am, I replied, "A purple cow." Across the room, Hubby was shaking his head. "Don't say that," he muttered. "She'll get it for you!"

Grammy laughed at me. "Okay," she said. "Anything else?"

"Umm... I think I also want a pink sparkly sheep." Grandpa O, in the background, could be heard, "Grammy! Don't get it for her!"

We're fully expecting to receive both a purple cow and a pink sparkly sheep sometime in the near future. They may or may not be living creatures that have been dyed.

A few days later, she called me.

"I have a great idea!" she exclaimed.

An idea? Should I be worried?

"Do you know the game Deal or No Deal?" she asked.

"Uhh... I think I've played it once upon a time at a camping trip..." I vaguely remember that winning money is involved.

"Okay, well, we have the DVD version of it! It's fun! We're going to play it at Thanksgiving!"

Okaaaaay....

"Girls against guys! And then, if the girls win, or even if the guys win because we're going to take their money anyway..."

I've got a bad feeling about this.

"And then we're going to go shopping on Black Friday!"

Eww.

"At 5:30 in the morning!!!" (I swear I could see every single exclamation mark.)

Aack!

"Isn't that a good idea?!?"

What's a good euphemism for "No friggin' way!"? "I'm pretty sure I have to wash my hair that morning, Grammy. I'm so sorry I'm going to miss all the fun."

Seriously, people get trampled to death going shopping on Black Friday. That's not worth it to me at 5:30 in the morning. I'll do my shopping online, thank you very much. In my pajamas. At 11:00, after I wake up. Yeah, that sounds like a good plan.

But thanks again for the invite.

Disneyland Pictures


So, a couple months ago, we went to Disneyland. Remember this post? Yeah, here are the pictures from that! Yay! (A note to the other members of the family who were there: I'm sorry I didn't post pictures of you. I love you dearly. The pictures I had were either not flattering, or I was afraid you would not appreciate having your face in such close detail plastered on the internet.) (A note to everyone else: There were other family members there. We had a great time. I'm sorry you won't get to see the fun pictures of my brother's bald head, or my Mom holding Schprid and both of them with huge smiles on their faces. Both pictures are classic.)

Anyway, on with the tour!



This is just after we got there. Hubby, Schprid and I entered the park about half an hour before the rest of the party, due to transportation issues. We walked up and down Main Street and had a grand time watching all the fun vehicles they have. We also had enough time that I was able to take more pictures than I did of the whole rest of the park. I like this one because they have a freaking huge horse pulling a trolley car. How cool is that?!? I knew I liked Disneyland.

Schprid was intrigued by the fire truck.

Here we are, waiting to go on our first ride! Have you been on the submarine ride since they renovated it? They still have a bunch of the old stuff, but they've taken out the mermaids (thank goodness!) and added a bunch of things from Finding Nemo. It's really cute now. Schprid loved it and went "lap-hopping" from family member to family member throughout the ride. Here she is getting a pre-ride snack. Understandable, really. At 10:00 in the morning, after having walked into Disneyland, I'd be a bit peckish, too. Come to think of it, I think we all had a snack at that point... but she's the only one who can get away with eating in a picture.
Her first ride on a Merry-Go-Round! Ponies! Woohoo!
Smile, child, smile. You're on camera.

Yeah, like that. Isn't she adorable?
Okay, so I'm biased. But still, she's pretty dang adorable.
She was also getting very tired at this point. She was still too wired to sleep, but it was naptime for sure.
I'm pretty proud of this picture. You can't tell, but they're actually moving right here. It was their first time flying around, and none of my other pictures of the Dumbo ride turned out nearly this good. Of course, Schprid is completely hashed at this point. After the merry-go-round, we'd taken her on Peter Pan, and Mr. Toad's wild ride, and I think a couple of others. She was either shocked and amazed by them all, or just didn't have the strength to keep her mouth closed. So... much... fun! Mustn't... sleep...

We took a break shortly after this and she got an hour long nap in one of the walkways in Adventureland. And I got an iced lemonade... Ah, that was a good day.


The next night, we went to Medieval Times. Again, Schprid was hashed. I swear she barely slept all weekend long. She was a great sport, though. Here she is waving the flag that Grandpa splurged for. Shortly after this picture was taken, she threw it over the front of our table, and that was the end of the flag. Thanks, Grandpa!

Medieval Times was fun, as always. There were horse tricks,

and great battles, and a king and princess, and gallant knights, and BBQ potatoes. Awesome.

So, we went to Disneyland for three days, and because you pretty much have to sell your soul to get a hotel room in Anaheim, we went camping. That was eventful in and of itself, what with sprinklers going off in the middle of the night and such. But one afternoon, I woke up from a nap and looked outside to find this scene. In case you can't tell, that's Hubby, my brother, and Grandpa all sitting in camp chairs reading a book. I thought it was funny; it's good to know that Hubby fits right in with the rest of the family.

And of course Schprid is there looking adorable, if somewhat unadorned.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Results...

First off, I would like to thank everyone for voting. It's fun to see what you all think! And now... drumroll please... the results!

Apparently my babies don't like ultrasounds. Schprid's took 45 minutes; Wooble clocked in at a solid hour.

...keep the drum rolling...

There were difficulties. This little child of mine stretched out very nicely for a good view of the spine, but that was where cooperation stopped. We got a good picture of one hand, but the other was very firmly hidden. Same story with the toes. And the top of the head, although there's only one of those. And the legs were, in the words of one of the technicians, "glued shut". Yup. This kid didn't give up anything easily.

...faltering drumroll...

And so, as a Mommy, I have to wonder if this stubbornness will be indicative of the child's personality later on. I'm already pretty certain the kid has a mind of its own and is not afraid to voice its opinion, which is part of the reason I'm pregnant now instead of in another, oh... five or six years. Am I afraid of this one? You better believe it.

...still drumrolling?...

Anyway, we got a call from the doctor's office yesterday after the appointment, and they said everything looked good. No cleft palate, size looks good, ect. We're on track to have a baby around the end of March.

...rat-a-tat-tat...

What was that? You want the verdict? Well, I don't blame you.

...Oh, here we go! Strike up those drums again!...

But I had to wait until my appointment was almost over before they were able to figure it out, so I figure it's only fair to make you sweat a little bit, too.

... tat? ...

:)

I know. I'm so nice.

:)

If I knew how to work my scanner better, I'd scan in the telling picture and see if you can figure it out from there. I sure can't! I tell you, those technicians are well-versed in what they do.

... silence ...

I'll tell you another thing. This little baby must have some pretty strong vibes, because most of you guessed right. We're having a little boy!

...Ba-da-BOOM!...

I'm scared and glad at the same time. On the one hand, I have to acquire a whole new wardrobe, get a new set of blankets, buy a blue diaper bag, do scouts, put up with leaping off the roof (which Hubby assures me will happen)... on the other hand, it'll be good to have some more testosterone to balance out all the estrogen in this house. (Even the cat's a girl. The horse is a boy, mostly, but he has to stay outside...)

The next challenge: figuring out a name that starts with R. We're still struggling with this one. We had an R name picked out for a girl. Dumb boys. ;)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Last Day

Well, my friends, today is the last day to vote. In one hour, I get to go find out if Wooble is a he-Wooble or a she-Wooble. Woohoo!

Tell you friends! Come and vote!

Results will be posted tomorrow!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

And the Winner Is...

The clouds seemed to come together in odd formations, filling the mind with thoughts of...

Ronnie! She gave us this gem:

...wild horses, invigorated by the crisp fall air, racing across the barren mountaintop.

Congrats, Ronnie! You are the proud new owner of 50 points! Treasure them well, my friend, treasure them well.

Honorable mention goes to Cameron, who piped up with this entry:

...clouds.

It made me laugh. And Hubby liked it best.

My entry is this:

...tomorrows, of yesterdays, of half-formed dreams, of joys and dangers yet unimagined.

Thanks to all who participated! I had fun seeing your entries, and we'll probably do this again sometime soon!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Finish This!

Okay creative people! Let's play a game. I'm going to write a sentence, and I want you to finish it. You can either post your entry in a comment or send it to me in an email at missjedi@gmail.com. All entries are welcome, as long as it's clean. Length does not matter. Content does not matter. Tomorrow, I'll post the winner (aka my favorite), along with my finished product. The winner gets 50 points.**

Today's sentence is:

The clouds seemed to come together in odd formations, filling the mind with thoughts of...


Good luck!!!

**Please note that points are not redeemable for anything at any time, and are used for the sole purpose of fun, frivolity, and perhaps boosting one's self-esteem.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Picture Time!!!

So, remember how I want to start adding pictures to my blog? Well, here we go! I finally uploaded a bunch of pictures from my camera, so now I can start making my posts more interesting to look at. For right now, because I'm still working on getting creative juices flowing, I'm just dumping a bunch of them on here. I'm sure eventually I'll start adding captions and such and eventually it'll be fantastic. In the meantime, anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you can learn how to do it well, right?

These are pictures from when we went camping this summer. It was one of the best camping trips I've ever had. We didn't do anything special, except try out our dutch oven for the first time. We didn't go on a hike or even a walk. We got there late, set up our tent, cooked dinner, put Cara in bed and looked at the stars. The next day, we slept in, took down our stuff, found a lake, decided it was way to crowded to try to do anything, learned about how to find and reserve better campsites for next time we want to go, and went home. But it was just us. We were relaxed. It was a calm, fun, simple evening... in my opinion, the very best kind.




Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Heat!

Once upon a time, Hubby and I bought a house. Generally, it was a good house, but it needed a few repairs. We worked on those all summer long, and got all sorts of good things accomplished.

Then, the cold weather hit. Technically, we had a furnace. Technically, it would warm up the house. Unfortunately, we didn't dare turn it on because in the basement, where the furnace was, the previous tenants had kept little chicks -that's right, baby chickens- down there with a bunch of other trash, and all sorts of nastiness had gotten pumped into the vents. Plus, we didn't know the condition of the furnace, and figured it would be wise to get it tuned up before turning it on for the winter.

So, we found some coupons for a $49 tune-up with Any Hour (fantastic company, btw!) and settled in to wait a week to be warm. We tried to stay warm by bundling up, baking, taking long showers, and huddling next to the space heater. It worked... sortof.

Monday was the blessed day of the tune-up. Unfortunately, the technician had an emergency and couldn't come when he said he would. They tried to reschedule me for a different day. I put my foot down. I explained the chicken dust/crap/nastiness situation and insisted they come that day. He finally showed up at 5:30.

After a few minutes down in the basement, he called us down and explained the situation. As expected, it was dire.

The furnace, if it had been well taken-care-of, would have lasted about 15 years. It was 17 years old and had not been given the TLC it so craved. Poor furnace. Poor, poor, disgusting furnace. Oh, and by the way, there were several things that were illegal about how it had been installed.

Long story short, if we had tried to get it repaired, it probably would have cost us several hundred dollars, plus the $300-400 it would have cost on top of that to get the ducts cleaned out. Or, we could buy a whole new furnace that would work for 15-20 years, get the ducts cleaned out for free, have a 10 year warranty, and only spend $4000. (Yucky price, but hey, there's financing! And rebates! And tax credits! So really, we are only going to end up spending about half the final cost when all is said and done... not too bad, really.)

Yesterday was the big day. The guy showed up at 8:30, worked until noon, came back after lunch, brought two other guys with him, ended up charging us an extra $900, stayed until 7:00, and now we have a blessedly warm house. Seriously. I was too hot last night, and right now I have bare feet. It's glorious.

Oh, and don't worry about the extra $900... we sortof opted for that. There were a couple of things he couldn't see until he moved the old furnace out, and they needed to be moved in order to put the coil in that will allow us to put in A/C later. They would have needed to be moved later, anyway, and this way we'll save $500 later on. So, that was $300. Also, it turns out the old furnace was attached to several other electrical circuits throughout the house, and leaving it like that could very easily lead to shorts that would damage our pretty new furnace. So, the electrician came and one hour and $600 later, we have a new switch in our electrical panel that leads only to the furnace.

And really, I'm able to say all this with peace in my heart and a great big smile on my face, because I'm warm. I'm warm, and Schprid is warm, and Wooble will be warm, and Hubby will be warm (not that he's ever got a problem with being cold) and we'll all live warmly ever after until 20 years down the road, or we move away from this house. And life is good.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Personal Brand, Part 2

So, on a lighter note, I've made this decision:

When I'm rich and trying to get famous, I want the people in charge of Breast Cancer Awareness to market me.

Think about it! It started as baby pink ribbons. Then, everything pink was telling us to help with BCA. Now, you almost can't go grocery shopping without picking up something pink, whether or not you care about Breast Cancer.

I think the world needs to be aware of me that way.

Cheers!

***I would like to mention that I am neither promoting nor complaining about Breast Cancer Awareness... just appreciating their campaign. Way to go, guys!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Personal Brand

A few nights ago, Hubby and I were talking about random things before going to bed. I mentioned, as I sat here at the computer, that I would like to be a better blogger. He asked me why, I told him that I think blogs are cool. I think it's a neat way to practice different styles of writing. It's a good way to connect with people. It's more personal, and at the same time more private, than social networks. Blah, blah, blah. I don't know that I really have a good reason, I just like them.

After a few minutes of silence, Hubby brought up the idea of the Personal Brand.

"What's that?" I asked.

He explained that for much of Earth's history, people have lived under family crests, house symbols, national flags, and company logos. Nowadays, however, with blogs and websites and social networks, each person can have their own "brand."

I thought it was an interesting idea. In some ways, it puts the pressure on to create a cool logo, catchy theme, compelling mission statement. On the other hand, even with a personal brand, there are so many out there that it would still be easy to sink into complete anonymity, to get lost in the swirl and color and fun that is the blogging world.

I have more to write on this topic tomorrow, but for today:

If you were to design a symbol that represents you, what would it be and why?

I'm honestly not sure what mine would be, and I've thought about it a lot. I would probably have some kind of a horse representation, possibly a quill, and wild flowers.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mmmmm!!

Schprid gets excited when we talk about getting food. Often, when trying something she's unfamiliar with, she will take a bite and then either spit it out or say a very enthusiastic, "Mmmm!" and dig in for more.

Yesterday, just after her Daddy came home, we were all sitting in at the computer and talking. Finally, he mentioned dinner and I agreed it would be a good idea. He turned to Schprid and asked her if she wanted food. She got as excited as a little one-year-old body can convey, almost jumping for joy, really. Then she turned and headed for the kitchen. That reaction had both us old people laughing. It's wonderful how excited a child can get!

But the story doesn't end there. Schprid, not wanting to arrive in the kitchen alone, kept her head turned to watch us and make sure we were really coming to get her food. She kept walking but, alas! she had miscalculated when heading for the door of the bedroom. She headed instead straight for the nightstand. I told her to watch out, but she didn't understand. She ran straight into it, rebounded, fell backwards onto her hiney, and didn't cry, which made us old people laugh even harder.

The story ends happily. Daddy picked her up, we all had a great time laughing down the hallway, and eventually we made it to the kitchen where Schprid had the best yogurt of all time.

Personal Policy

I like baths. They're soothing. They're warm. They're personal and private... except that I'm currently blasting about them on the internet. Still, it's an hour that I can spend being warm and soothed by myself.

Since getting pregnant, I've decided that baths are an absolute must in my life. I take my time. I usually sit and read for an hour, just soaking in mildly hot water and scented Epsom salts. Then I use pretty soaps, shave everything, pumice the rough spots, and for a couple of hours afterwards, even in my ever-expanding body, I feel pretty. It's a nice feeling. And so, I've decided that I need at least one of these a week.

So far, it's going well. My husband has even taken to asking me if I've had my bath yet. I love that he wants me happy.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wednesdays

It's the big day. It's the day when I open up my iGooogle page, check my email, look at the healthy eating tip for the day, admire the beautiful picture of nature and the one, right next to it, of the adorable puppy. I check the weather and any pertinent news stories. And then, down at the bottom right, I find that my baby looks like this:


This is a big improvement, really, over some of the other pictures I've gotten. Wooble really is growing in there... I'm not just eating too much cereal. Yay!

And, I'm down another week. I'm officially in week 19, now. Next week I'll be halfway through and get to find out what gender Wooble is.

Now that I've incorporated a picture into my blog (I'll get better at this, I think!) Now I'm going to branch out and try something really crazy... a poll!

Searching... searching... searching...

Huh. Does anyone know how to put a poll in an actual post? Do I need to just do that on the sidebar? For now I'll do it on the sidebar, but I'd appreciate any help with putting it in the post itself! Thanks!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Feelin' the Love

It's normal, I think, for children to say some variation on "Mommy" or "Daddy" as the first of their words, right? It indicates what is most important in their little lives. It shows, in some measure, appreciation of all that we do for them, if only because they are able to ask for us directly.

My daughter's first word was "pup," spoken at Grammy's house when we were playing with the dogs. Cute. Fitting. I'm really okay with that.

She got tired of that word in a big hurry and didn't say anything for a couple months after that. Then, she started saying "bye-bye." I got excited. Words were forthcoming! Soon she would be saying "Mommy!" So cute... I drooled in anticipation.

At this point, her verbal repertoire has expanded to this:

"Bye-bye"
"Hi!"
"Uh-oh"
"Ki'i"
"Cheese"

Endearing.

What, I ask you, has cheese done for her? Well, okay, so it fills her little belly and tastes yummy going down, but really? Cheese? Never has any block of cheese changed her little diapers or made her feel better when she falls down. And if one did, I would either be completely weirded out or completely thrilled and hire the cheese to babysit for me.

Hurray for Mommy adventures!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Schprid and Trunk-or-Treating

At first, she was traumatized. People were milling around the parking lot, in strange outfits, and she had to walk away from Mommy. (I stayed at the car to give out candy.) Daddy took her by the hand and led her to the first car. When she got there, Daddy instructed her on the protocol.

"You say trick-or-treat," he told her, "And hold up your bucket..." he helped her to hold her bucket out. And then... she got something in the bucket! All of a sudden, this was a fun game. They made their way to the next car, where she held out her bucket without prompting. She got something else in her bucket! What fun! She didn't even know what she was getting at that point, it was just fun to collect things!

They went to several cars, getting new things at each one. Then came the tricky one. She held out her bucket at the car, but instead of putting something in it, the person there just put a large cauldron down so she could reach in and grab her own prize. She couldn't see all the way down to the candy, but that's okay. She had this gig figured out. She reached down in, fished around, and pulled out... something! Woohoo! At that point, she hadn't quite figured out that she then needed to put it in her bucket, but Daddy was able to help with that.

When they were done, her little bucket was half-full of candy. She came back to sit at the car with Mommy and enjoy the fruits of her labors. Twizzlers! Oh, boy, this trick-or-treating stuff is cool, guys. Can we do this every night?

"Of course, little one, just as soon as we get Disneyland set up in your bedroom, we'll go trick-or-treating every night."

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Manly Men

They fix cars. They build houses. They heft big boxes. They open stubborn jars. They wield axes and wear hammers on their belts. They climb huge mountains in a single bound. They look good in flannel and sweat.

My particular version, this summer, has torn off a swamp cooler, fixed our roof, torn down a very large chicken coop, torn out cement, installed window wells, made broken lights work again, installed a counter-top, reclaimed our lawn from the jungle it had become, painted a garage, painted a living room and kitchen, hauled many bales of hay, moved large furniture, and, just today, finished fixing the pipes that provide water to the pasture.

Yeah, they're good to have around. I'm especially fond of mine. I just need to get him a flannel shirt...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Christmas Weather

Snow, snowmen, sledding, gloves, beanies, marshmallow coats... Ah, the joys of the white Christmas.

Yeah... I'm still getting used to that idea. For me, Christmas weather hit about a week ago. It was rainy, and wet, and cloudy, and still hovering around 60 degrees during the day, 40 at night. I got out the Christmas music (which I've been playing ever since) and my fuzzy socks and prepared to settle in for a wonderful winter.

Then it snowed. And it really got too cold for comfort. Grr.

See, I'm a California girl. I've had Christmases where I can go for a walk in jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt. It's warm enough that my family goes out and plays tennis in the afternoon, and cool enough that a fire in the fireplace is delightful.

Really, I think I'm just ready for Christmas anyway. Enough with this whole Halloween business. Besides, the closer we are to Christmas, the closer we are to my birthday... which is really my favorite holiday.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

For Luck Only

Horseshoes are an international symbol of all things horsey. They're great decorations, which is funny to me, given their intended location.

That aside, I've decided to do a quick blurb on the purposes of horseshoes, and why, as a general rule, I don't believe in them.

Horseshoes are intended to protect a horse's feet. Back in the day when horses were generally kept in stalls and then were taken out to ride or pull carriages over rough cobblestones, it made sense to protect your horse's feet this way. Horses are not meant to walk on man-made streets; it's wears down their feet and then you get a lame horse. It would be like intentionally driving a car over a patch of tacks. The effect was not quite as immediate, but would still leave you without a horse sooner rather than later.

Along with this, horseshoes can also be corrective. I've seen shoes that cover the entire surface of the horse's foot, with pads and gels and lifts and all sorts of expensive contraptions that help a horse's joints, heel, frog, etc., stay in the right place and allow the horse to keep moving.

However, what they don't tell you is that a horse's foot is made to flex. Every time a horse steps down, the hoof spreads out just a little bit from the weight of his body. This flexing actually helps the blood to circulate through the horse's feet and legs. Shoeing inhibits that flexing motion and actually reduces the sensation that the horse has in his foot. Sometimes (so I've heard, though I've never been able to witness this) when a horse has shoes removed, he'll prance around a bit because he's feeling a pins-and-needles sensation in his feet as the blood is able to circulate freely once again.

Also, because shoes artificially elevate the horse's feet off the ground, the frog (the sensitive part in the middle of the foot) retracts somewhat and gets soft, so that eventually it is painful for the horse to walk around on some types of ground without shoes.

In general, I believe in doing things as naturally as possible. Mustangs don't wear shoes, and their feet generally do just fine. The long edges get chipped off as they walk and run over rocks; they end up with perfectly shaped feet just by doing what they do. Most domestic horses don't have the advantage of miles of territory over which to roam, so they need to be trimmed periodically. Fortunately, there are barefoot trimmers who specialize in trimming without shoeing. And when they're done, your horse looks nice and purdy again. It's like a horsey manicure, really. I'm a little jealous.

Okay, enough with the nerdy stuff. On to the really important question:

Horseshoes are a symbol of luck, but how does one care for said luck? I've heard that the horseshoe needs to be faced points-up, thus creating a well and keeping the luck safely inside. I've also heard that the horseshoe needs to be faced points-down, creating a waterfall of luck underneath it and pouring the luck on the house in which it resides. How do you like your horseshoes?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Forget the Worm

The early bird gets the furnace repair people out to their house before November 8th!

In the meantime, we're freezing.

The End.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Good Blog Is...

So, after seeing a couple of blogs that I personally enjoy and that seem to be enjoyed by all sorts of people who don't actually know the blogger, I've recognized some similarities that I think I should start to incorporate into my own blog. Here they are, and we'll see if they really work!

A Good Blog Is...

1. Cared For. If one takes the time to blog on a daily or almost daily basis, people are much more likely to come back looking for more.

2. Somewhat Anonymous. Whimsical names of family and friends should be used on a regular basis, rather than their actual names, as this helps preserve the privacy of one's loved ones.

3. Grammatically Correct. Smart people like smart stuff. Everyone will enjoy the blog more if the blogs are written with correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and organization.

4. Visually stimulating. Blogs with pictures are far more interesting to read. It's that simple. We're really all children at heart, I guess!

5. Interactive. Posting questions, polls, contests, puzzles, and links that encourage readers to get engaged is far more likely to draw them back for more.

6. Themed. Readers like to know what they're getting into. Yes, blogs are about life and personal experiences, but it's difficult when you don't know if you're going to get religion, humor, whimsy, a story, or personal improvement.

With these in mind, and with the idea that I'd like to become a better blogger, I have a few things to work on! One thing at a time, I think. At least I'm posting almost daily now!

What do you like to see in a blog? (And there's my interactive question! Boo-yah!)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Less Weird

That was my euphemism last time around. "Ryan," I would say after examining my ever-growing body, or after being kicked in the bladder, "Pregnancy is so weird!"

After it was over, I was able to admit the truth. Pregnancy is awful. I couldn't admit it at the time, of course. Pregnancy is, after all, the miracle of childbirth, and who doesn't want to be a part of that, right? Right?

It's a tricky question, I know.

But let's face it. Getting "fat" is the least of your worries. There's the nausea, the moodiness, the fat feet, the fat fingers, the increased familiarity with the bathroom, the super long shirts and pants that won't stay up... and then there's the fact that your insides all get pushed up into your ribcage to make room for the precious little one. And, because you're carrying a lot more weight and it's all in your front, your back gets pulled foward and out of place and you posture gets all screwed up. I could go on... and on... and on... but I won't. :)

This time around, it still sucks. But the cool thing is, I knew it was going to, and something about calling it the way I see it makes it more easy to deal with. I'm able to deal with the back pains and potty breaks a little better, and this time, I'm able to see how the shifts my body is making really are little miracles. So, I can't walk very well... my hips are spreading apart in preparation for the big day! So, my stomach is squished and I can't eat a full meal at a time... I can feel exactly where the baby is! It's weird to me that I'm getting excited about these little things. But it's less weird than last time around.

And, as a side note, having the cutest little Schprid in the world makes the time seem to go faster. I can't focus on myself nearly as much when I've got a one-year-old who needs cheerios and water and a diaper change and hugs when she falls and stories read to her.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Homey

Today was gorgeous. It rained, and rained, and rained. My Mom would have called it a "Day for the Ducks." I think it was a day for me.

We had pipes that needed to be fixed. Ryan went out early to dig the holes and replace sections of leaky pipe while I worked on breakfast and a put a chicken in the crockpot. At 9 am, I was feeling very productive. I set the table with bacon, eggs, english muffins, and sliced kiwi. I got Schprid up and dressed, then called Ryan in to eat. Outside was cold, and fresh, and alive. Inside was warm and cozy and smelled of good food. It felt good to work early in the morning.

The day continued on like that... I taught a riding lesson, and a good friend of mine came to spend the afternoon with us, and the day was filled with rain and laughter and conversation and noodles and vegetables and the smell of roasting chicken with garlic. And later, there were cinnamon rolls.

Days like these, when everything lines up and works out the way it should, are what give life depth and meaning. Life is always worth living. Love is always worth the effort. Family is always worth the work. It is days like today that show me why.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Christmas Story

My Mother-in-law called me a few days ago. In case you were wondering, she wants a story for Christmas. I was wondering. It plagued me. Kept me up nights. But, thank goodness, now I know. Now I can stop wondering about what she wants and try instead to figure out what on earth I'm going to write about.

She wants a story with a happy ending.

She gets scared of the Abominable Snow Monster on the old claymation Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. You know, the one who ends up just having a toothache and really is very nice at the end?

I love my Mother-in-law. I also think the world needs more people like her. She's happy and bubbly and sweet and generous and still somehow manages to get everything in the world done.

You know, the amazing type.

I think I'll write about a bubble. What's happier than a bubble? This should work.

Once upon a time, there was a Bubble. He didn't begin as a Bubble. He began as water and soap and knew nothing of the world except the inside of the small container in which he lived. Then, one day, the container was opened. A small child with stubby little fingers drew him out of the container with a stick and joyously blew into the Bubble the breath of life. As the Bubble swelled and formed, he knew real life for the first time. Colors, shapes, sounds surrounded him. He discovered the sky, and the breezes that frolicked from tree to tree. He rode them, higher, and higher, and he spun, danced, and floated through the clean air. Every moment was pure bliss. He began to understand the sounds that came to him on the wind. Laughter. As he spun, he realized that there were many children, dancing on the ground as he danced in the air. Joy filled the little Bubble, and he would have laughed with them if he could. The children followed him, left and right, faster and slower, reaching out to him with the happiness that only a child can display. They played, the children and the Bubble, reaching toward each other, but never quite touching. Always the breezes carried the Bubble just out of their reach, and the children would squeal in delight. Then, finally, the wind slowed, the Bubble slowly sank, and the children reached out to him, wanting to carry him. Closer, and closer, and POP!

That was the end of the Bubble.

After that the Bubble is a sticky mass of soap on hands that get clapped together, ground into dirt, washed down the sink, and thence takes its long journey out to the sea.

I think that happy endings really are a matter of timing, don't you?

Any ideas about what story I should write for my Mother-in-law? Ten points if I choose your idea!