Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How did that happen?!

It's already the last day of March? Wow. Well, time flies when you're busy. And, boy, have we been busy. Here's a few of our March happenings that I failed to blog about but that have been keeping us hopping:

The Great Butterfly Send-Off
Our 4 caterpillars made the transformation to chrysalids and to butterflies. So it was time for the big send-off into the real world. We made butterfly cupcakes and had the neighbors over to celebrate their day of freedom.
J's 33 and Better than Ever!
J turned 33 in March and, wouldn't you know it, the only picture I got of the party was not of the oldest boy in the house (J), but the youngest in his party garb.

With 4 practices under our belt, we're knee-deep in another season of T-ball. Mister and Sweetie are on the same team this year since I failed to sign Mister up for coach-pitch. Oh, well, it's fun to have them play together. We also have 2 neighbors and 2 kids from our old church who are on our team.
Project Basketball Hoop
J took the kids to buy a hoop last Saturday, but putting it together turned out to be a HUGE day-and-a-half job. Of course, it didn't help that I was off running errands and he had the "help" of all of our kids and a bunch of the neighborhood kids. (And, as we discovered, with the box, who really needs a hoop?!)
Back to School for Me!
The last 2 Tuesday mornings found me at a photography class taught by a local photographer who had been recommended by others. It was a good class for helping me get comfortable with my camera and with shooting in manual mode. Here are a few of my homework pics:

T-ball practice
Photo shoot in Easter clothes after church on Sunday (when H was Tired--probably not the best timing)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

That's exactly how I feel

1. Spring, 2. A baby's head tucked into my neck, 3. Ice cold water in my glass

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Another stellar night at the P house, oh, and a cookie update

Two out of the three children are up crying themselves to sleep as I type. Little H because I taught piano today, he missed his afternoon nap, and he is beyond exhaustion and has already woken up once and it's only 8:17pm. Sweetie because she was trying to make Mister smell her bum and so she lost book privileges. (I don't even pretend to understand that child.)

I was supposed to go running with a friend for only the second time because I had to cancel the last 4 times, once because of my conference and the other times because J had church stuff. But my friend is sick, so instead I am eating cookies. I'm on #5 and am not making any promises about when I'll stop. After all, it's only 8:19pm.

That reminds me that I should update the Great Cookie Quest with the latest and greatest, which is definitely this recipe from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth. Rave reviews here. J says he thinks we have a winner and we all know what a picky eater J is, so that's saying something.

The Best One-Bowl Chocolate Chunk-Pecan Cookies (Makes 18 large cookies)
2 c pecan halves [I left these out since I didn't have any on hand]
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 c firmly packed dark brown sugar [I only had light brown sugar]
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 1/4 c bleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 c semisweet chocolate chunks
Preheat the oven to 350. Place the pecans on a large baking sheet and toast in the oven until they are warm and fragrant, 6 to 9 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
Place the butter in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave uncovered on high for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and stir until completely melted. Using a large wooden spoon, stir both sugars into the melted butter. When combined, add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Stir until smooth. Stir the flour, baking soda, and baking powder into the batter just until incorporated and a soft dough forms. Carefully fold in the chocolate chunks and cooled toasted pecans.
Use a 2-ounce self-releasing ice-cream scoop or a 1/4-cup measuring cup to measure out the cookie dough. Place the cookie dough balls on a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, 45 to 60 minutes. Toward the end of the chilling time, return the oven to 350.
Place the chilled dough balls on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. (I find 9 cookies per sheet to be about right to allow for a little spreading and for the cookies to bake evenly.)
Bake until the cookies are crisp and golden around the edges but still a little soft in the centers without being gooey, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let cool slightly. Using a large metal spatula, transfer the cookies from the baking sheets to the wire racks and let cool to room temperature.
Stored in self-sealing plastic bags, these cookies will keep for 2 days at room temperature. They can also be frozen for up to 2 weeks. You can prepare the cookie dough balls and, after they are chilled, store the unbaked cookies in the freezer for up to 1 month. The cookies can be baked straight from the freezer but will take a few minutes longer.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Home again, home again, jiggity jog

Well, H and I made it back from Kentucky yesterday afternoon, which felt like yesterday night, due to the 3-hour time difference and also the fact that 4 hours real-time on a full plane with an 8-month old is the equivalent in felt-time to 8 hours. I do not want to play finger puppets, peek-a-boo, "this is the way the lady rides," or read That's Not My Dinosaur again for a loooong time. Let's just say it's good to be home! Here's a summary of the trip . . .

The lows of the trip:
  • The plane rides with curioso H, who did not sleep a wink the entire 4 hours of the flight out and only took a short nap on the flight back. And that nap only occurred after a nice little dose of Benadryl and almost an hour of crying as I stood in the aisle and jiggled him. (At least I got a quad workout, as the man behind me so generously noted.)
  • The UMass dinner, which is usually a high of the trip. This year, the food was lousy, we waited 2 1/2 hours for that lousy food--until 10:30pm, H was with me (and did I mention it was 10:30pm?!), H choked on a piece of pita bread and threw up all over himself and me, and I was awkwardly seated next to someone who had called me a "Mormon freak" in the past. Lovely times.
Other than those 2 lows, it was such a nice conference and such a nice trip!
  • My session was really well attended!
  • One of the attendees was Beth Daniell, whose well-known work in literacy studies and literacy and spiritual practice has meant a lot to me in my own studies. She introduced herself to me afterwards and thanked me for my work.
  • I attended some really interesting sessions, which I'll summarize this week in another post, if you're interested at all in what I do at conferences :)
  • I got to see all of my old Umass friends, who I genuinely care about; BYU friends, two of whom are old students of mine; and my fellow mother/ph.d. friend
  • I got to stay with my cousin and her great family. They were so hospitable and it was so fun to talk with them and get to know them better. And they took me to a great restaurantto make up for my lousy dinner the night before.
  • I made the flight home! (This was doubtful for a while, thanks to eating at the great restaurant and closed freeways.)
(Image from )

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Ostrich Festival

While J was gone this weekend, I put on my brave, adventurous mom hat and decided to take the kids to the Ostrich Festival. After we first arrived, I did some serious questioning of my sanity and made some under-my-breath snide comments at the 15-minute wait to park in a large, allergy-inducing, non-stroller friendly field; the $5 charge to park in said field; the ensuing 30-minute wait to buy entrance tickets (not ride tickets, just entrance tickets--they couldn't actually have them in the same place, now, could they?); the lack of maps/directions (just where were the actual ostrich races?); and the inflated price of food ($4 for a little ice cream cone).

But after we handed over plenty of our money, finally got into the event, and figured out the basic layout, we had such a good time. The kids savored their $4 ice cream cones, loved the caterpillar roller coaster and the big dinosaur bounce house. Mister chose to spend his last tickets on the fun house while Sweetie rode the swings and "made a new friend" with the girl sitting next to her.

We watched the cowboy/horse show with tricks. We watched the medieval knights joust and sword-fight. Sweetie was so concerned that the men were really going to get hurt: "Mom, are the swords real?" "Mom, are the swords sharp?" "Mom, just how sharp are the swords?" "Mom, are the swords made of metal?" You get the picture. Mister was slightly disappointed that our black knight did not win, despite our cheering. We also visited the petting zoo (then waited in line 10 minutes to wash our hands). And, before heading home, we finally watched the famed ostrich races, which were pretty hilarious. The ostrich races consisted of people actually riding the ostriches, people riding in little chariots behind the ostriches, and people trying to race the ostriches themselves. All I can say is, Who knew? Who knew? So the day ended up being fun--fun to actually go, but even more fun to watch my kids having fun.

Although I managed to bring water bottles, sunscreen, snacks, baby food/bib/spoon, baby bottles, change of baby clothes/diapers, I did not manage to bring the camera, so I got a few pics from my camera phone and some from the event Web site.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010


When you are the youngest, there is always someone on top of you or underneath you. Poor little H just cannot get away from them.

The highs and lows

Every night at dinner I ask the kids about the days highs and lows--their favorite things and their least favorite things. Sometimes I get an answer, sometimes I don't. Here's what everyone reported tonight:

High: Meeting Duncan, Grady, and Ava at the Dino Dig and park by the library for lunch, digging, and hide-and-go-seek.
Low: Not getting to play one more game of hide-and-go-seek.

High: Playing outside after school.
Low: Not getting to go to the park with Duncan, Grady, and Ava. Not getting to go get ice cream like Tyler did (the boy next door). (Poor Mister, forced to eat leftover turkey for dinner and to actually attend school. Where's the humanity?)

Highs: (1) Having the pediatric neurosurgeon declare the H's skull is healing nicely at today's first follow-up to his bad head day. (2) Playing hide-and-go-seek with Sweetie. (3) Having a warm-fuzzy flashback to when it was just me and Mister when I drove by the construction vehicle dealer today. I noticed the front loaders and bulldozers, a habit I picked up when Mister was a little guy and would call out "Tractor! Tractor!" whenever we passed. Made me think of him with a smile.
Low: J gone to the MountainWest basketball tournament.

Monday, March 8, 2010

It's Monday, 3:35pm

and I have just recovered from yesterday.

It started with my opening the fridge before church, just to have all of the half-used containers of baby food fall out and splatter all over the floor, rug, and cabinet--peaches, peas, squash. I rolled the rug up, stuck it in the laundry room and thought, "I'll tackle the rest later."

Because it was a rainy, cool day (56 was the high), I had cooked our last frozen turkey for a nice, big Sunday dinner. H was screaming on the floor, so I used warm broth instead of my usual milk to make the roux for the gravy, and when I shook up the flour and broth, BAM! explosion. All over the kitchen--cabinets, floor, remaining rugs. Everywhere. I rolled the rugs up and took a swipe at the main traffic area on the floor and thought, "I'll tackle the rest later."

Just then, J called to say he wouldn't be home at the planned 5pm for dinner. It would be after 6pm or whenever they finally finished the tithing/fast offerings. Turkey dinners do not wait and neither do hungry kids (and hungry moms), so I gave the turkey carving a good try, fed everyone, cleared the table so we could play games for family game night. After family game night and kids in bed, I looked at the dishes stacked up high--turkey dishes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, peas, dishes from making chocolate chip cookies for game night. And I said, "I'll tackle that later."

Today was later, and later is finally over. Just in time to make dinner again for tonight.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

March means . . .

Leaves back on the trees
Daffodils at Trader Joe's
Green eggs and ham for Dr. Suess's birthday
Our chrysalids will be turning into butterflies
Summer clothes and trips to the zoo

And for those of us in composition and rhetoric, March means 4Cs: the Conference on College Composition and Communication. H and I will be attending in Louisville, Kentucky in 2 weeks. Here's hoping that March also means me getting into gear and writing my conference presentation since I'll be giving it in 2 weeks. Yikes!

Poem of the Month: February

I seem to be a poem of the month slacker lately, so here's a make-up for February. Since February is the month of love, how about one of the most famous poems about love? Shakespeare's sonnet 116. Despite the fact that this poem is so frequently analyzed and cited, I still like it. I love the simplicity of the language--most of the words are monosyllabic, actually--and the simplicity of the structure--straightforward English/Shakespearean sonnet with only 3 run-on lines. In the midst of this simplicity, I love the depth of meaning. To me, the poem is about the endurance of spiritual love. I guess I slightly disagree with the persona in the poem who says "love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds" because, over the almost 10 years that I have been married, J and I's love looks and feels different than it did when we were married. For better and for worse, in some cases. But it endures. And it will continue to endure, despite "tempests" and Time's "bending sickle" that changes our physical appearances. This poem is the perfect poem for February, with love as its "ever-fixed mark."

Sonnet 116: Let Me Not To the Marriage of True Minds
by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.