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


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


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


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*



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


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...