Monday, January 24, 2011

For Thys. . . .

My son Isaac helped me come up with this story, and it has really captured my imagination. I wrote it for my nephew's 13th birthday and wanted to get it to him before he graduated high school, so I only got started really. I have a vision of where I want to take it, but for now am curious about initial impressions about the concept in general--especially to boys, ages 10-14 or so. That is probably my target audience. So, if you have one of those kickin' around--can you pass this by them and see what they think and let me know? I'd really appreciate it!

The Dark Diamond, Parts I-III

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

So Many Thoughts. . . So Little Time

I sat down today to make some small bean bags for my kids. A sprained ankle drove me to think of productive ways to stay off my feet. I find that I can either be productive or neat. If I try to do projects, our small apartment will spin into a toy-strewn chaotic mess in short order. Or, I can actively play/clean with my kids and the house will look great and my to-do list remains untouched. Today, I chose productive. One hour later, the house smelled of burnt wheat when Isaac tried to see if his bean bag would work as a heating pad. It didn't. I had nine adorably flawed bean bags, and a flurry of wheat on the floor hanging out with half my kids' toys. But the bean bags were really cute. I hope my kids like them more than the 15 toys I am giving to Goodwill because they didn't get them cleaned up in time.

I'm not really sure if anyone reads this blog. I have hearty ambitions to be read regularly, to write essays that cause nods of agreement in front of computer screens everywhere. But, I'm not sure if I'm on that road. A friend recently told me that she went to a workshop where the lady said it takes 2-3 years of regular blogging to develop a readership. I'm in. I think it will take me that long to figure out what the heck I want to write about. I definitely want a place to gather my stories, garner feedback, and stun some wandering publisher looking for the next great children's book. "Holy Cow!" they'll say. "What a friggin' goldmine!" (Because that is how wandering, philanthropic publishers talk.) But, what else?? Here are my ideas. If I do have anyone reading out there, would you please chime in with a vote on what you want most to nod your head to?

Option A: Personal revelations on how motherhood is a lengthy, but very personalized, tutoring session with God and how He works/thinks/loves and patiently lets us stumble along, determined to do it ourselves (like a certain 2 year old I know)

Option B: Thoughts about my weight loss journey and my quest this year to stop eating sugar and embrace life instead of chocolate. . . I am determined to believe this is possible.

Option B 1/2: Regular updates on my progress to losing 20 pounds by Memorial Day. Is that really interesting to anyone else?

Option C: Random revelations and nuggets of truth I learn from scripture study, prayer, and pondering.

Option D: All of the above.

Perhaps it will continue to be a random assortment--remember what Forrest Gump said about life and boxes of chocolate--but it might be nice to have a more set purpose to this writing project of a blog, and then diverge at will.

If you have a vote, please cast it. I'll be here for 2-3 years.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Psssstttt!!! Over Here! I can solve that problem. . .

. . . of "What's for Dinner????" It is called "Once a Month Cooking." I've had a few people ask me about this cooking method (that I swear by I might add.) It has helped me gobs in simplifying my cooking. I plan my entire month of meals, and cook most of my meals all in one day. Then, every night I know what we are having and most nights it is already made. I'm teaching a class on it tonight, so thought I'd pass on the handouts I prepared since others had asked me about it. Enjoy!!

Once a Month Cooking Outline

I also put the template I use for making my grocery list and below that is an example of the cooking plan I use on "Cooking Day." Let me know if you have any questions!
Grocery List

My Cooking Plan

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thinking Outside the Kitchen Cabinet

Plates to the left. Cups on the right. Stack the bowls above. There seems to be a secret code of uniformity in cabinet organization. But, when you have a family of five squeezed into a 2 bedroom apartment, sometimes you have to buck the code. Especially when homeschooling is involved. I have three cabinets in which to fit dishes, crafts, cookbooks, homeschooling books, Presidential flashcards, assorted workbooks, and a lengthy list of assorted ribbons, learning tools, and paper towel tubes I am sure are good for something brilliant.
Solution? Simplify. And move the dishes. I let the kids each pick "their" bowl, plate, and cup, and set them in the drying rack. Every other dish I stacked and stowed below in the cabinet that was formerly a catch-all for everything crafty. Now, those are the only dishes we use. We eat. We wash. We stack. We repeat. That leaves the most accessible cabinets available for things I really need, like a Rapunzel coloring book or science kit. At first it was really odd opening the cabinets and seeing a bowl of beads and some popsicle sticks, but it is proving to be a fantastic idea. Cleanup is easier because we do it immediately after we eat. I always have an empty dishwasher for any big items since everything else is getting washed right away. The kids wash their own dishes (and the surrounding counters sometimes) and my craft supplies are less jumbled. Awesomeness.
The takeaway? Life (and kitchen cabinets) can only be lived one way: Your Way. I want crayons in my kitchen cabinet? Perfect. My sister in law has ribs on Thanksgiving? Fabulous. I use scissors to cut my pancakes? Ingenious. We aren't here to figure out how to live our lives the way other people do. We are here to figure out how we will take this body, this mind, this house, and this life and create something absolutely uniquely completely us--and allow everyone else to do the same. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to use an IKEA bag clip to fix my daughter's hair. Is that a problem?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Why I Love Shakira. . .

**because her music makes my hips involuntarily swivel, shimmy, and shake in exciting ways
**because "Waka Waka. . This is Africa" blared throughout our little home brought Isaac out of his funky mood and drew him, kartwheeling, into the living room to join the dance party.
**because in the moments I listen to her and feel my body grooving with those feisty rhythms, I have zero idea what my body weighs or what size I am, and I could not care less
**because her voice is unique, her music happy, and the Africa song also reminds me of the World Cup, a very happy month for me that only comes once every four years
**because today she made my entire family dance.

Thank you, Shakira
(and by the way, I also adore/covet your hair)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I am halfway through the first week of a 13 week health challenge I cooked up over Christmas vacation. It is based in the Word of Wisdom. a revelation given to Joseph Smith outlining inspired principles of healthy living. For anyone not a Mormon, but acquainted with one--it is the reason we don't smoke or drink. For anyone that is a Mormon--it is about so much more than not smoking or drinking. It is a focus on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It is about finding hidden treasures of knowledge as we care for our bodies in wholesome ways. It is about temperance, prudence, and judgment. We learn in Doctrine and Covenants 88:15 that "the spirit and the body are the soul of man." That adds an important level to the injunction to come unto Christ, offering our "whole souls" unto him (Omni 26). That means we can't just read, pray, visit teach, and attend the Temple while we ignore our body and expect to truly offer ourselves to Christ. We are a package deal. Where I want my spirit to go, I must be willing to make my body follow. I can be disciplined and study the scriptures every day, but there will be an element of purity and happiness missing if my discipline ends there. And so this challenge was born. It is not a punitive, narrow, depriving sort of challenge. I am married to a therapist. . . so I am all about positive reinforcement. I get points for good stuff like fruits and veggies, and every week has a different challenge that will teach a different lesson. So far, I am learning a great deal. Several folks are joining in and one person has said, "So I knew I could be more healthy.. but WOW, lots of work and ways to improve." It is enlightening. Everyone also sets their own personal challenge, worth 15 points. Mine? No desserts or candy. I've tried no sugar before and the strictness destroyed me. I am hoping to get there this year, but I've adopted "gradual" as a new favorite word in this process. Sure, maybe I'm eating a little more cereal, but tonight I had shredded wheat and honey instead of a brownie sundae at dinner, so I for one am totally calling that a success. I am WOWed. Stay tuned for more. . . . I certainly will.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Has Anyone Else Noticed That. . .

Jim Craig looks way better with his hat on?

Just wondering.

This post is purely a result of my goal of frequent writing this year. It is 10:00pm and I just finished watching "The Return From Snowy River." Jim put on a little weight (that makes me feel better) but can still ride a horse like a champion (that does not). I for one pat myself heartily on the back for getting back on the horse again--literally. Here in Washington with the cowboy-bred Reynolds family, I bravely mounted, despite the fact that my last ride ended in shaky tears and apologies to my husband for not being the horseback riding wife he deserves. In just one day I got back on a horse and crawled into a snowcave without having a heart attack or visions of suffocating. I am a machine.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

And The Official Word For 2011 is. . . .

Rejoice more. . . and fear less.
Rejoice in my body.
Rejoice in my family.
Rejoice in prayer.
Rejoice in lessons to learn.
Rejoice in toddler hugs, preschool crafts, and 1st grader imaginations.
Rejoice in a hot husband.
Rejoice in offering all I have and then turning the rest over to the Lord.
Rejoice more. . . and worry less.
"Rejoice, O My Heart."
2 Nephi 4:30
When I read this I realized that, for me, 2010 was not full of rejoicing, and not because there wasn't fodder for it. It was because I was too busy wondering about the next stage that I wouldn't look around and relish this one. I was so busy freaking out about my body and my weight, that everything went the exact opposite way I wanted it to. But this year, I am going to rejoice. I am going to write. I am going to play. I am going to live and love and take whatever comes with a deep breath and a smile. Or at least I am going to try.