Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Ho-llaween!

Halloween was FUN! Glad it's over...

I had exuberant plans for Halloween this year, but as life happens: life did happen. I’ve been so busy that I’ve felt like a crazy person for months. This silly festive holiday snuck up on me, and by the end of it all I had my brain in a jar…
"Astonishment?...or Denial"

I had to scale down, skimp, and settle for less than I had hoped; all for my own sanity…but, all in all it turned out fantastic! 
I think I had more fun than my kids…and I definitely ate more candy than they did.

I accidentally grew a super fantastic pumpkin patch…and I was so excited that I even squealed (more than once). And I do literally mean it was an accident. I had planted 2 little pumpkin plants in the spring. When we moved I had 4 good sized pumpkins that were starting to ripen. I picked them and set them on the back patio of my new house, to do a little sun bathing. Sadly, it was so scorching hot that my 4 little pumpkins baked and melted. I was devastated. And that’s about the point I realized I couldn’t handle Halloween this year.

Several weeks went by, and when we went to grab our lawn mower and winterize the yard at the old house we found 7 (SEVEN!) large pumpkins! So, so cool!

This time I opted to cut down on the sun bathing, and let them ripen in my kitchen. I have also learned my lesson, in years past, that carving pumpkins is not the most relaxing activity…especially with 4 little kids (and not to mention the smell, the slime, the difficulty, the danger, the rot, the fruit flies...and then you can't bake them for pie). 
We have so much more fun decorating them with paint, and this year we simplified to just stickers. 
The kids had so much more fun with the stickers because they can do it completely by themselves. They like to be independent (and I like to minimize the mess—works well for all).







My giant spider sat out in the snow and rain and sun all year, so it wasn’t in the best of conditions. I had completely written off that part of Halloween for this year, and was going to reconstruct it for next year. Well, I guess it is my own Frankenstein. It wouldn’t let me leave it all crippled and forgotten on the side of the house…surprisingly it only took a few minor touch-ups, and it was as good as (almost) new.


I gave myself major anxiety by trying to make the kids costumes, and Sunday (October 30) I was up most of the night finishing up. I stopped caring sometime after 1am…and called it “good enough”.

Tad: Ash Ketchum, Ati: Vampire Princess, Eli: Ninja, Moe: Skeleton

6 months ago I paid for my entry into the Halloween Half Marathon. But, with all the craziness I was so not ready to run 13 miles…and I hadn’t had time for a super awesome costume (that was the real reason I didn’t want to run—because I would’ve walked it if I looked super awesome). And so, in my minimizing expectations I opted to not dress up this year. I started the day with my $5 walmart purple t-shirt that says “Happy Halloween”….somehow, as the day went by, and I literally began to feel like my brain was in a jar….I realized that would be a great costume!

So…I quickly graduated medical school; became a brain surgeon, and I put my brain in a jar…
The rest of the day was super fun. I was done planning, stressing, and “getting ready”…and, with my brain in my jar, I no longer had to think about it either.

I took the kids trick-or-treating, and for some reason people thought I needed candy too. I didn’t bring my own bucket, so I did as any practical individual would do…I ate all my candy as I went along.

Good times!

I don't think that spider is gonna give me candy...

And then I slay the beast!

Well folks...until next year...Happy Ho-llaween!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Encourage tradition, savour the moments

These are the moments we can not relive; The moments of our lives. Every ounce is precious, and irreversible.

I’m a huge fan of Family Tradition. From growing up, I can recall a few traditions that I cherish and have carried with me into my own little family: Family dinner, Thanksgiving brunch on Saturday, Grandma’s pink salad, making chocolate chip cookies...

I’m always looking for new inspiration that I can integrate into the creation of my own children’s’ past. One thing about tradition, that I feel is important, is that it can not be forced. It has to feel natural, and flow smoothly, and carry with it rivers of warmth. It has to be something that can fuse inside our being, and become part of who we are, and who we love, and who we want to be.

Embracing our nature is a key element of finding infinite happiness. I’ve certainly got a lot to sort out in my own nature, but I feel like I’ve come to a really good place, where I can see clearly, and thoughtfully. And I feel like I can share some amazing things with my children.

Specifically, when referring to encouraging tradition, we’re working on one that I feel is gonna be a good one. Health and fitness are really important to me, and I’m trying to teach my children from a young age, and by example that it is one of the best ways to enjoy this life.

Last year I decided I wanted to start running races. There was one in particular that looked like it would be really fun for the whole family; The Lavender 5k, at the Young Living Family farm. Sadly, John was going to be out of town that weekend, so it wasn’t our complete family, but we did it anyway. It was a really good experience, and created warm memories for my babies. They were super excited when I mentioned it again this year. And John was even able to do it with us this time!

It was a really good thing. Aside from the beasties that come out to play when babies get woken up at 530am, it was a really nice day. It’s still a beginning, and we are far from being considered athletes, but the world is our playing ground, and we WILL make it the best.

This year I only signed up Tad, John, and I. The 3 little’s rode in strollers. I told them that they can earn their own race shirts once they prove they can run (walk) the entire thing. So, next year I will work with Ati a little bit and see if she can build enough stamina to not need a stroller…leaving us with only 1 double stroller…and so on. It was nice to keep pace with John, and not try to over-exert myself, as I tend to do sometimes. Tad, surprisingly, ran ahead! And instead of being left in the dust, he was the one kicking up dust (or mud, technically). I was really proud of him. It’s neat to see your babies learn and grow, and see the potential of them actually exceeding your own expectations and abilities.

Tad: #491, 48:49.9

John: #557, 1:00:39.6

Jen: #558, 1:00:49.2

(587 racers finished)

…we did stop a few times to take pictures, and I stopped just before the finish line to let the little’s walk across it on their own feet…they really enjoyed that.

Good times.

Here's my post about last years Lavender run, just in case you want to compare:
World's Greatest Mom of the Century...?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Giant Weed-Eaters

So, I’ve spent over 25 hours in my yard pulling weeds.

And, I suppose it’s possible that 25 hours in the sun isn’t the best way to treat my brain. I suppose it’s also possible that I was insane to begin with?

At any rate, whether you agree with me or not, I am CONVINCED that I am stinkin’ hilarious!
How could I spend 25 hours with a melted brain, 13 large black garbage bags full of weeds, and a pile of grape vine trimmings….and NOT make Giant Weed-Eating Spiders?
It would just be unnatural, and otherwise a waste of time.

And, now that my brain is no longer full of weeds, I can move on to other things in my life…how about packing? Gonna be moving pretty soon!

Monday, April 18, 2011


Our house is coming along...we at least have a basement now!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Life is good…and so if food!

Love the view from our new hole

I tend to be very sporadic, with little rhyme or reason to anything I do…

So, I suppose it’s time for an update.

Life is still life. It’s still good, and still busy, and still confusing…
Everyone’s doing good. Nothing really to complain about; other than insignificant woes that needn’t be mentioned.

How’s that for a vague summary?

Really, though, life is pretty good.
John recently got a new job (at the same company, just a different position) and we have decided to build a house. Very, very cool. It’s just a few miles from where we live now, but it’s right on the school boundary border, so the kids will have to switch schools. We’ve been preparing them for a while now, so they are actually really excited. And, it’s even official; I went this morning to register Eli for kindergarten.

Venturing into the hole, Tad, Eli, John, Moe

In the fall I will officially have 3 of my 4 little shadows in elementary school: grades 6, 2, and K. We’ll live just under a mile from the new school, so there will be no bus. I’m kind of sad because it’s a bit too far to walk, especially in the winter. I’ll end up driving them to and from, most days. But I expect when the weather is nice I will walk there and then walk them home; it’ll be good exercise for the whole family! Then we may work up to bikes, or having them walk home without me. I’m still a paranoid mamma duck, so I like to keep them under wing, but I can gradually ease into something like that.

I’m super excited. I was sort of bummed when I found out that Eli has to go to afternoon kindergarten because of where we live, but it’ll be ok. I’m thinking that because I will only have 1 little duck at home that I can manage teaching preschool to Moe. That’ll be fun for the two of us, and it will also save me the extra expense. Maybe we'll even work on potty-training! That would be another saved expense, and I would be officially done with diapers.

We’ve been expecting a move for a while, at least this last year, and I’ve spent a lot of time getting ready for it. I completely cleaned out and cancelled our storage unit, went through almost every single box in our house, cleaned out my food storage, and got rid of a ton of stuff. We had a huge garage sale in the fall, and between that and dumping the rest in either the trash or at DI we’ve probably cut our “belongings” in half. It feels so much lighter and relieving to be done with all that junk. Now, when it’s officially time to move, the whole process will be a breeze (or as much of a breeze as moving could be).

Moe and I, in the hole

They started digging the hole for our foundation last week. I’m really hoping the house will be finished by the end of June; and if all goes smoothly that is possible. But it’s more likely that it won’t be until the middle of July. We’re so ready to move, emotionally, that it will be hard to wait. But, with summer coming up we will have plenty to keep us busy. We will, of course, stop by our construction site daily, along with picking out different features and colors for the house. Then there are all the normal summer activities, like swimming, sand, and sun.

Along with getting ready for a new house I’ve been working on a new hobby: baking and cooking from scratch (and trying to do it for next to dirt cheap). A house is a huge investment, and is going to stretch our budget to a limit we haven’t had to deal with for a long time. It is a good stretch, but it’s still a difficult one to get used to. One of the few areas I have any control over in our budget is food. I’ve made it my personal mission to minimize our food spending to unrealistic expectations. We will have enough for our needs, but every extra bit I can save will be that much more we can put aside (for emergency, or to pay for our yard—which we won’t have until next year).

Looking out of the hole, Eli

With all of that I have spent a lot of time focusing on (or you could say obsessing over) learning some new basic cooking skills. It’s been kind of fun. And it’s been a good experience. It gives me something to focus on, to feel good about, to share with the family, and I feel like it’s healthier and tastier when you choose what goes into your food.

Anyway, these are the more interesting things that have been going on for our family. I've tried really hard to find ways to simplify our lives, so we can enjoy a peaceful home. De-junking was a huge relief, along with paying off debt. We’re all learning to save money and live within a tight budget. As far as spiritual simplicity we set a goal to learn all 13 articles of faith, as a family. Our family night activity each week is to sing the article of faith songs and learn a new one each week. We're looking forward to a party at Chuck-E-Cheese to celebrate accomplishing this goal (so far we're on #3, so it'll take care of planning family night for quite a while). And I've simplified (and frugalized) my hobbies by spending most of my time teaching myself to cook---it's entertaining, already a daily necessity, and saves money all at the same time!

Life is good…and so if food!

I started a new blog to keep track of my food adventures. I'll likely spend most of my internet time over there, instead of here...You should stop by and follow along, if you get a chance. I even give you permission to laugh at my insanity, inexperience, and unavoidable disasters.

Here’s the link:

Here's a few things I've posted on my food blog:

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Homemade Oreos

Homemade Purple Tortillas

....and More to come...until I get bored? Follow along, and keep me Motivated...

Scratch That. I'm Eating