Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Happily Ever After

I heard once that the secret to writing a good story is putting your main character in a situation they would least want to be.  When my children have complained about a villain of a story, I've even told them there wouldn't be much of a story without the villain.  And yet, how often do you feel sad at the end of a book because you don't want it to end.  Wouldn't it be nice to spend more time in the "happily ever after" part of the book?

The older I get and the more hard times I see, the more I think I might like that boring book with no villains and no trails.  I'm curious to see how long I could stay interested in a book with one joyous event after another.  Maybe that story would make me sad because it would be so far from my reality.  

For now I'll settle for the escape to another time, another place and another set of challenges is just what I need to appreciate my own challenges.  I posted our latest book club adventure over at Arizona Mama.

Monday, May 30, 2011

School's Out 4Ever Blogfest: The Song that Rocked My World

My kiddos will tell you I must have really been into music in the 80's because I can name that tune with the best of them.  Even with all those songs from that memorable decade, there is one that stands out like no other.  The song - Let's Go Crazy by Prince (before he was known as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince and now known as Prince again.)  

I wouldn't say that my friends and I liked that particular song more than a dozen more songs at the time, but that song had a lot of energy.  It was the perfect tempo to make a really good flag routine.  Yes, I was in the high school marching band and I played the flag.  You might call it the color guard.  It was so cool spinning that long handle around fast enough to hear it whizzing threw the air.  And then we learned a how to throw that spinning flag high over our heads, in sync with the rest of the team. 

One long Saturday with nothing better to do, (I had a lot of those), my fellow flag teammate and I decided to make our own flag routine to that upbeat song.  We worked and practiced all day, and it was pretty awesome if I do say so myself.  After several hours, we decided that we needed a big finale to match Prince's guitar solo at the end. Of course one of our new throws would be the perfect thing.  Even though it was a fairly new skill, I could usually make the throw.  The worse thing that happened if I missed was my pole clattered on the ground and I was pretty used to that sound.  

This time my miss left more of an impression - on my forehead.  Somehow I missed and the pole slammed me in the head, ringing my bell and leaving me seeing stars.  Practice was over for the day and that was one routine I never tried again.

Head over to Tell Great Stories to read more teenage defining moments or add your own.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Family Home Evening: Faith

One of my children started his Family Home Evening lesson with the question, "What is Faith?"

His sisters piped up with,"Faith is a seed, if planted it will grow." And,"Faith is a feeling within my heart, when I do right I know."

The girls knew that quoting a Primary song wasn't exactly the answer my son was going for, but it was a fun way to start a discussion on what faith is, how it helps us, and why we need it.  I love that my children have fun learning together.   

We played Don't Eat Pete. I just love games that involve eating M&M's!

Our treat was my favorite homemade chocolate cake with homemade chocolate frosting.  My favorite part of this cake was that one of my girls made it for me.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saturday Sentament: Hero

What is a hero without a love for mankind. ~ Doris Lessing

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Favorites: May 27

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!  One of the kiddos has a birthday party to go to, and of coarse there are other things we want to do, but not too much that we have to do.  It's a nice change!  Here are today's other favorites.
  • Sarah's Quilt - I am loving this series.  It is so easy to slip into her life!
  • A clean desk - I wonder how long I can keep it clean?  Maybe I can make progress on the rest of the house.
  • My garden - It's still growing.  I'm looking forward to eating from my garden, but I am getting so much satisfaction from watching it grow in the meantime.
  • Awards - I'm pleased with how well my children are doing in school and for the various awards they have received for their hard work.
There's some cool things going on some of my favorite blogs too.
What are your favorites this Memorial Day Weekend?  I guess for those of you outside the U.S., it's just an ordinary weekend. 

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    Clean Desk

    Last week started off with an urge to purge and clean.  At the end of the week, a broken monitor necessitated moving my ginormous, heavy desk.  Since I can't move said desk, I unloaded the drawers and cleaned most everything off the top of it.  

    Yesterday, I finally got everything back on my desk.  Well not everything.  I decided some of the things that lived on my desk weren't used often enough and were relegated to the closet shelves.  There were other things living there, that had homes elsewhere that I finally put away properly.  I even took care of a few things that were there because they needed my attention.  Finally there were several things that needed my attention weeks ago, but no longer required my services and were tossed in the circular file. OK, my garbage can is more rectangular, but you get the idea. 

    I know my desk isn't picture perfect; I still have a few piles of projects to complete.  But I am so looking forward to scrapbooking today with all that free desktop space!  Now that is my simple pleasure.

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    May's Project List

    In February, I found a great 28 Day Challenge.  The idea was to complete a project a day.  I couldn't keep up, so I modified it.  I have a monthly project list.  There are two columns; one for short projects that take less than an hour, and one for longer projects - some that will take months. There are a few recurring projects that vary on when they need to be done.  Maybe those are my cheats, because they are going to get done regardless.  Nonetheless my project list helps me manage my projects that I'm currently working on, and not forget about those I'd like to work on. Today, I thought I'd share my progress Ten on Tuesday style.
    1. Blog Schedule - this starts as an outline that I fill in with more specific ideas throughout the month.  I'd like to have a post or two done a head of time, but that's only happened a few times.
    2. Craft supply order - it takes an hour just to look at the cool clearance stuff!
    3. Cub Scout advancement report
    4. Cub Scout newsletter
    5. CPR Class for one of my kiddos - I delegated this one to my hubby
    6. Cub Scout Committee meeting - I'm starting to notice a trend here
    7. Trip to the Scout Shop - I delegated that one to my hubby too.  Those still count right?
    8. Read MEE Speaks
    9. Teddy Bear Sweet Shop party
    10. Nerf Top Shot party
    I'll have more about the parties soon.  What projects have you finished this month?

    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    Family Home Evening: Adam and Eve

    One of my younger children taught our lesson about Adam and Eve.  He started with the scripture Genesis 1:26 - 28, then asked what creations are we grateful for?  He shared some facts about Adam and Eve.
    • After Adam and Eve received physical bodies, they lived in a beautiful place called the Garden of Eden.
    • Adam and Eve were married for eternity by Heavenly Father.
    • Fruits and flowers grew easily in the Garden of Eden, and all the animals were tame.
    • Adam and Eve did not know the difference between good and bad.
    • Adam and Eve could not have children.
    • Adam and Eve could eat fruit from every tree except one.
    • Adam and Eve ate the fruit from that tree.
    • Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden of Eden
    • The whole world changed; Adam and Eve had to work hard to get food, weeds began to grow and animals became wild.
    • Adam and Eve then began to have children.
    We talked about their lives after they left the Garden of Eden and how it was all a necessary part of the Plan of Salvation.  I'm grateful for the time my children put into their part of Family Home Evening. Not only is it nice to not have all the responsibility myself; it is also reassuring that they are learning and striving.

    Our activity was a modified version of Phase 10.  The kiddo in charge chose the order of the phases we played.  I still lost.

    The agony of defeat was lessened by the Frozen Lemon Pie we enjoyed for our treat!

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    Saturday Sentament: Words of Appreciation

    You have it easily in your power to increase the sum total of this world's happiness now. How? By giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who is lonely or discouraged. Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime. ~ Dale Carnegie

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Friday Favorites: May 20

    This week's favorites reflect my recent cleaning urge.  Now before you start thinking I'm all cool, or that I'm late with the spring cleaning, or that I'm pregnant and nesting - cleaning is just my most recent distraction from doing all those other things I should be doing.  That's right, this week cleaning is my escape.  I have the saddest escapes!  It reminds me of when the twins were a couple of months old I was so excited to go to the dentist to get a break.  
    • A working computer monitor - my monitor died yesterday morning.  It is challenging to utilize the rest of the computer with one.  Go figure!
    • A clean desk - My desk is huge, and heavy.  I had to take almost every thing off it and take the drawers out just to be able to pull it away from the wall to change out the monitor. While I was at it, I dusted, disinfected and a little organizing.  It looks really good except for the piles of stuff that was on my desk that are still on the floor.
    • A clean closet shelf - before the monitor fun, I cleaned, purged and organized.  I got rid of some clothes that aren't working for me anymore.
    • New sheets! No explanation needed.
    • Think Fast has me dreaming of some creative time as an escape from all the other things I'm supposed to be doing with these cute flags and card.
    • With summer right around the corner, I'm thinking about trying my hand at 24/7 MOMS snow cone syrup.  Now I just need a snow cone machine!
    • Your Homebased Mom has a super yummy recipe for roasted chicken.
    What's on your list of favorite this fine Friday?

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Brain Teaser Answers

    With no further ado, here's the answers to yesterday's brain teasers.
    • 26 L in the A - 26 letters in the alphabet
    • 88 P K - 88 piano keys
    • 18 H on a G C - 18 holes on a golf coarse
    • 90 D in a R A - 90 degrees in a right angle
    • 4 Q in a G - 4 quarts in a gallon
    • 24 H in a D - 24 hours in a day
    • 5 D in a Z C - 5 digits in a zip code
    • 11 P on a F T - 11 players on a football team
    • 29 D in F in a L Y - 29 days in February in a leap year
    Which ones stumped you?  Or did you figure them all out?

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Brain Teasers

    A while back I went on a junior high school field trip.  The teacher on our bus was very smart and gave the kids a couple of pages of brain teasers to keep the kids occupied on the hour long bus ride.  I love games and brain teasers and I hadn't seen these kind before.  Here's a few that I remember.

    7 D in a W = 7 days in a week
    • 26 L in the A
    • 88 P K
    • 18 H on a G C
    • 90 D in a R A
    • 4 Q in a G
    • 24 H in a D
    • 5 D in a Z C
    • 11 P on a F T
    • 29 D in F in a L Y
    So how did you do?  Share your results in a comment.  I'll tell you the answers in a few days.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    May Craziness

    Recently a friend said "May is as busy as December with all the end of the school year activities."  Combining the May craziness with It's a Crafty Life's Ten on Tuesday, here's my list of what exactly makes this May so crazy.
    1. Mother's Day
    2. Eight family birthdays
    3. Science fair projects
    4. Choir concert
    5. Rube Goldberg project
    6. Planning Girls Camp
    7. Vacation planning
    8. Baby Shower planning 
    9. Way too much planning
    10. Reading Celebrations
    How's your May going?  What's making it crazy for you?

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Photography Club

    My efforts to keep our family photography club have been a little hit and miss with everyone so busy.  We did spend some time recently learning about how the lens works.  We looked at a couple of examples from Ansel Adams where he replaced the lens with different diameters of pinholes.  Then he used a convex lens with the same subject, an old barn.  We saw examples of how light travels through flat, concave and convex lenses.  

    While this is all very interesting, and I believe helpful; how the camera works can be a little dry.  Maybe that is part of why we've been having such a hard time making time for photography club.  I've been going through my old college photography text boo, but I'd like to get more hands on.  Any suggestions?  Maybe the text with photography challenges?

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    Friday Favorites: May 13

    Things are ramped up around here preparing for the end of the school year.  We have concerts, projects and parties in addition for all the planning for our summer activities.  In amongst all the activity, I have a few favorites to bring me a little peace.
    • Sarah's Quilt - I just started this book a few days ago, and I'm enjoying it as much as the first book in the series.
    • Spending time with my kiddos.
    • I loved Your Homebased Mom's post about her impending empty nest.
    • Finishing up these last two birthday invitations.  I posted them yesterday, but blogger ate that post. Hopefully it comes back!
    • Teenage Tangled Birthday Party is posted over at Arizona Mama. It's the party that goes with this invitation.
    Share your Friday Favorite!

    Thursday, May 12, 2011

    Sweet Shop and Nerf Top Shot Invitations

    I thought I was keeping a good pace with life and then the last couple of days slammed me with deadlines and busyness - you would have thought I'd have seen them coming.  So today's Simple Pleasure is crossing things off the to do list. 

    I'm nearing the end of our birthday season and finished the last two invitations.  Now that my kiddos are older, they like to help make their invitations.  It's so much more fun that way, and they enjoy them more because they helped design and create them.  First up is the Teddy Bear Sweet Shop.    

    Next is our Nerf Top Shot Invitation. Nerf guns make having our own Top Shot competition much more manageable.
    Speaking of parties, I posted our Teenage Tangled Birthday Party on Arizona Mama that went with the invitations I showed you a few weeks ago.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Cub Scout Campfire Program

    April's Cub Scout character connection was faith.  We took the boys and their families outside for a campfire program.  We sang camp songs, enjoyed a great skit by the Bears, then settled down and retired a flag. Most of the kids and many of the adults hadn't been a part of a ceremony to retire a flag.  It's something every Cub Scout should experience.  I never really thought about how closely related patriotism is to faith.

    I definitely want to incorporate a camp fire program into a Pack Meeting every year!  I was nervous about the children roasting marshmallows, especially the younger siblings.  So we made Oven S mores ahead of time and served them at the end of the meeting.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    Meetings, Meetings, Meetings!

    Between Cub Scouts and planning Young Women Camp, I've had my fair share of meetings the last few months.  Even though some weeks there are only a couple of meeting free nights, for the most part the meetings aren't a horrible four letter word.  Some meetings I run, some I just show up, and others are somewhere in between.  Here's my Ten on Tuesday list of ways to have enjoyable meetings, It's a Crafty Life style.
    1. Serve refreshments - I know many of us are trying to watch our weight, but a plate of homemade cookies show how much I appreciate everyone's attendance and support.
    2. Be friendly - A little chit chat helps people feel comfortable and builds a personal connection.
    3. Stay focused - While a little chit chat is good, no one wants to spend an extra hour at a meeting listening to me go on about my favorite hobby (unless your meeting is about your favorite hobby).
    4. Be enthusiastic - To me this goes along with being friendly.
    5. See the purpose - I'm giving up time with my family for something important.
    6. Delegate - Not only does this lighten my load, it helps others enjoy the meeting more because they are involved.
    7. Be compassionate - I avoid asking any one to do any thing I'm not willing to do.  I also try to be aware of the situation and not add more than they can manage.
    8. Listen - Listening is tied into so many other steps.  I can't build a connection or understand your situation if I don't listen.
    9. Be teachable - Usually the purpose of a meeting is to work together, not just to receive assignments.  I'm more willing to work when I feel my opinions and experience are appreciated.
    10. Say thank you - Everyone wants to be appreciated.  I try to show my appreciation repeatedly.
    Now I'm not saying I'm into going to a meeting just for the fun of going to a meeting, but I might as well make the best of it.  What makes a meeting good for you?

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    High School Required Reading

    Romeo & Juliet A Tale of Two Cities?  What books did were high school mandatory reading?  I'm surprised at how different those list are from my high school experience to what my children are reading.  There's even a wide discretion from people my own age. 

    Here's my list (to the best this old brain can remember):
    I don't think my kiddos have read any of the books I did in high school.  They read things like:
    What was your high school required reading?

    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    Family Home Evening: Mother's Day

    We're modifying Family Home Evening this week and celebrating time with our family.  Wait, didn't we just do that recently?  That's right Easter was only two weeks ago.  The big difference is this week, my hubby and kiddos are doing the cooking and cleaning!

    To make sure today isn't all about being lazy and getting pampered, I'd like to share my appreciation to my mom.  She taught me to be independent, thrifty and hard working - although I'm sure she wondered if she was doing a very good job with the hard working lessons when I repeatedly forgot to do my chores.  I really hated bringing in firewood.

    Most of all, my mom played games with me.  She took me with her when she hung out with her friends and I enjoyed being with her as much as with friends my own age.  She was and still is my favorite person to hang with at the mall.

    In addition to my mom, I'm grateful for my step-mom and my mother in law.  They both taught me with a different perspective and helped shape me into a better person.  They have both fed me, served me and loved me.  

    I'd love all of you to share something awesome about your mom.  If you don't do here, record it somewhere!

    Saturday, May 7, 2011

    Saturday Sentament: Mothers

    Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall.  A mother's secret hope out lives them all.  
    ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Friday Favorites: May 6

    Happy May!  I hope you all have something special planned for your mothers.  We're having a big family dinner.  I'm going to take my mom shopping the next week for some one on one time. 

    Here's this week's favorites:
    • Author Elizabeth Mueller created this award for those of us who completed the A to Z Challenge.  She asked us to share our experience.  I did that a couple of days ago as part of my April Numbered post, so I won't be repetitive.  I will say that I'm looking forward to next year and I'm interested in trying another challenge at some point.  
    • Mee Speaks - I love author Mary Ellen Edmunds style. 
    • My garden is still blooming.  The lettuces are doing especially well.  The afternoon heat is starting to get to the other plants.  
    • Pebbles Inc has some great paper crafts projects.  My weekly scrapbooking time got bumped to today.  Maybe the inspiration will get me going.
    • Small Fry & Co. spotlights a cool western project.  I love the background material for the crackle finish!
    • Seth Adam Smith shares a beautiful painting.
    What's tickling your fancy this fine Friday?

    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    Cinco de Mayo

    One of my simple pleasures is celebrating with my kiddos.  Whether it's like today, or even celebrating 30 minutes to play Just Dance 2.

    We kicked off our Cinco de Mayo celebration a couple of days early by making these cool tissue paper flowers.  They were a little more challenging than the directions made it look, mostly separating the layers without ripping the paper.  I wish I would have seen this tutorial first.  Our second attempt was a little easier, but we still had to be gentle fluffing them.

    While you are in the Cinco de Mayo mood, check out my post on the subject on Arizona Mama.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Unexpected Lessons

    When I saw Chocolate on My Cranium's topic for this week's Wordfull Wednesday, something I learned from motherhood that I didn't expect, I drew a blank.  I still didn't have anything come to mind until I saw The One Minute Writer's prompt, write about something you put a lot of time into practicing. 

    The word "expect" from the Wordfull Wednesday topic threw me for a bit.  I expect motherhood to be challenging, I was having trouble pinpointing a specific lesson.  My first thought to The One Minute Writer's prompt, was motherhood.  I've put a lot of time into practicing being a good mother.  Through that practice, I've learned patience, dedication and finding joy in the journey.  I've learned no one can do my job as a mother to my children the way I do it.  

    I'd have to say the most profound lesson I've learned from motherhood is to trust my instincts.  So many of the mistakes I've made as a mother (and as a person) have been when I believed someone else's opinions were as valid as my maternal instincts. 

    My oldest child called me last week with some concerns about her pregnancy because the doctor said this and this person said that.  My advice was to sit down and relax for a half hour and listen to what she felt.  The greatest gift I could give her is the confidence to listen to her instincts.  When my children were little, I heard dozens of stories where mom knew something was wrong with her child before the doctors could get the tests to prove it.

    We have an incredible responsibility in raising children, and Heavenly Father has given us a powerful tool to help us do the job as He would have it done.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    Constructive Criticism

    It's funny that how even when I know someone is trying to be constructive, criticism still feels like criticism.  Sometime it is hard to remember that feedback is a gift, especially if when I didn't ask for the feedback.  A while back I received some unexpected feedback and my ego felt the blow, even though it was more of a warning delivered in a fairly kind manner.  

    Part of what makes feedback a gift, is being prepared to receive the gift.  I've taken the warning into consideration, and I also try to be more aware of times I might be inclined to give unexpected feedback.  As I write this post, a few situations come to mind that could have been taken as dumping my constructive criticism on someone.  I'm guessing that's how they felt by the defensiveness they projected.

    In the Book of Mormon, there's an account of Captain Moroni writing a letter to the governor, condemning him for not sending the necessary men or supplies to the battlefield. Paharon, the governor, had been driven out of the city and was trying to gather the troops and prepare the counter attack.  Even though he was innocent of Captain Moroni's accusations, he responded with patience and kindness.  He even appreciated Moroni's dedication to his country's freedom. Whether you are Mormon or not, this is such a great example of how to handle unexpected feedback and constructive criticism. 

    Now I am armed (again) with the lessons of receiving constructive criticism and the reminder to be very careful in giving it.  How do you handle constructive criticism or approach giving it when necessary?

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    April Numbered

    April has come and gone.  The month seems very full; not just with activities but with learning and growth. 

    .6 - Number of pounds I gained.  Today I'm down .8 from yesterday.  So I'm disappointed to not be losing weight, but I'm maintaining, which is better than the 10 pounds I gained in the same time frame last year.

    3 - Books read!  Matilda, Even the Stars Look Lonely and the Camilla Spencer biography.

    4 - Piano practices.  I can't even blame Spring Break for this month's performance!  I guess I spent too much time reading.

    5 - Scrapbook layouts completed. 

    7 - Articles written for Arizona Mama and the Homemaking Cottage.

    15 - Challenge projects completed.  

    26 - A to Z Challenge posts completed.  I enjoyed the challenge, even though some days were challenging.  My goal is post daily, but some days I don't have the time and other days I don't have anything to say, or the motivation to write off my list of ideas.  Some days, the challenge helped inspire posts.  The only down side was that some of the topics I came up with for certain letters weren't super high quality content; but I guess that's not any worse than skipping a day.  I also enjoyed checking out the other blogs participating, although I didn't make it to them all.  I feel a kinship with a few and added them to my RSS feed.

    1022 - Page views!  Thanks for visiting.

    Share what was memorable about your April.

    Sunday, May 1, 2011

    Family Home Evening: Mother's Day Prep

    Our lesson was a review of our Love One Another chart from Easter Week.  I love to see all the acts of service that happen in our house!

    For our activity, we made Mother's Day cards and gifts. 

    The treat was homemade ice cream.  It was a simple recipe from a friend that turned out so good!  Thanks Jill!


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