Thursday, July 31, 2008

Service (With a Smile): Thursday


I went to Good Earth today to buy some freshly ground peanut butter (try it - it is fun to work the machine and it tastes awesome!). The machine wasn't working, which was a bummer. However, I can always find something I need there, so I proceeded to the checkout line where a man was talking with the checker about his purchase...

Man: "I thought it would be free with the coupons, so I didn't bring any cash. Do you want me to use my debit card for the remaining amount? It will probably cost you more to process the payment than I owe on the groceries."

Then, a thought bubble appeared above my head: Service (with a smile) week! Offer to pay it for him! So, I offered, and he graciously accepted my shiny quarter. Hoo-Rah! I was able to do something nice for a stranger. That felt good.

And now, I am going to do something nice for you. I make some amazing granola (toot! toot! toot!) and you get to have my recipe. It's OK, you don't have to thank me. If you really decide to reward yourself by making this delicious (and nutritious!) stuff, most ingredients can be found at any health food store (like Good Earth if you live near me). Enjoy!

The BEST Granola

First mix the following ingredients in a large bowl:

7 cups oats
6 cups 6-grain flakes (looks like oats)
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
2 cups coconut flakes
2 cups sliced or slivered almonds
2 ½ cups (1 pound) brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt

Then combine the following ingredients in a separate bowl:

2/3 cup water
½ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons almond or maple flavoring
1 cup honey

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well. Bake at 250 degrees for an hour and a half (90 minutes), stirring every 15-20 minutes. Cool thoroughly, then add:

2 cups banana chips, broken
3 cups raisins
2 cups chopped dates in oat flour (this is the way they are sold here, you could use any kind of dates as long as you chop them up)

Makes 7 or 8 lbs. of cereal.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Service (With a Smile): Wednesday

Today's service was simple: carry along a bag of animal crackers to Cub Scout pack meeting.

There is almost always a fair number of kids under the age of 3 at these meetings with their families. I get to hang out with the kids in this age group at church every Sunday, so we're pretty good friends. I actually always bring a treat to share with my little pals at Pack Meetings. (It helps them remember who their favorite teacher is.) And so, today I shared some animal crackers with some of my favorite smallish people and enjoyed some grateful smiles in return.

Allen and I also brought grocery bags with us on a walk and beautified the neighborhood as we went. It was surprising how quickly our bags were filled - we would empty them in trash cans along the way then fill them again... and again... and again... you get the picture. (Not a real picture - you didn't really want to see a bunch of discarded water bottles and gum wrappers and plastic cups, did you? I didn't think so.)

Until tomorrow...

Service (With a Smile): Tuesday

I know, you're thinking I wasn't going to follow through on my promise to report to you daily this week. Well, it's not my fault, it's my computer's. So without any further ado, here is Tuesday's post:

First of all I would like to say that I am never going to do this again. Blogging about the service I perform is difficult because I prefer to do it without tooting my own horn (so to speak. I can't actually play a horn and don't own one). BUT a promise is a promise, hasty or not, so here's Tuesday's report...

I had a plan, and it did not come together. I ended up taking elemenoB to her eye appointment and then at D.I. to drop off our donation from yesterday. Of course, we went inside to hunt for treasures (and school clothes). And then we went to the grocery store and the bank. I was looking for someone I could perform some act of kindness for the whole day, but no opportunities arose. As I began to make dinner I felt panicky. It was almost 7:00 p.m. and no service! I started to justify reporting things like "I drove elemenoB to the eye doctor" and "I let the kids have an Otterpop after dinner" but I am not a cheater. In the middle of a sewing project my brain had an AHA! moment. I did do service! First of all, I found these 2 things at D.I. that I would love to display in my home, but they don't "fit". I bought them anyway and plan to give them to a friend who I think will enjoy them:
(Someone sewed this thing by hand, people! I saved it from it's wrongful imprisonment at D.I.)

And the sewing project I was working on...hello! It was for someone else. The teenagers at our church are going on a reenactment of a Pioneer Trek and are dressing the part. All of the young ladies are wearing bonnets as part of their pioneer garb. One young lady does not like girly things, but is going to dress the part of a pioneer chick because she is a good sport. And she does not sew, she plays sports and does not have time (nor desire) to make a bonnet. I happily volunteered to make her one, mostly because I am dying to see her actually wear it. Instead of the typical flowery bonnet, I gathered the supplies for a less froo-froo bonnet last night:
and set to work. Here is the final result:
And there you have it! (TOOT! TOOT! TOOT!) Let's see what opportunities I encounter today...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Service (With a Smile): Monday

I realized something today. It's not so easy to do service for others when you don't leave the house. Sure, mothers are serving their families all the time, but I figured that would be sort of like cheating with what I was trying to achieve this week. So, maybe I'll get out tomorrow and find a way to serve someone, but for today it all happened within the walls of my home.

I am a merit badge counselor for the scouting program in our neighborhood - specifically for the Citizenship in the Community merit badge. I guess I could count that in and of itself as a service, but I won't. Part of the badge is to perform some significant community service (go figure!) so I helped the boys today to prepare a flier that we will deliver around our neighborhood tomorrow:
We will collect the food on Thursday morning. But I'm only counting the fliers/posting/collecting for today's service.

But wait, there's more!

I tried to think of what else I could do from home. I came up with some great ideas, but the one I decided to follow through on was a family D.I. drive. We came up with quite a bit of stuff:
I told the kids that I wanted them to go through their clothes, toys, books, and other things with the idea that someone in need could use what they had, not just to get rid of things they didn't want. And away we went. Some items ended up in the trash but we found some great, quality items to donate as well.

So, there's my report for Monday! I have a plan for tomorrow. We'll see if it comes to fruition.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Week of Service (With a Smile!)


I often try to do nice things for others and I love the happy feeling it brings me. After reading a talk on the subject of doing good I have an even greater desire to do so. Someone I look up to once told me that "a goal not written down is only a wish", so I'm writing it here and promising to update daily this week.

My goal for this week is:
I'm going to do something nice for someone else every day and I'll tell you about it here. Not in a bragging sort of way, but more of a "Look what YOU could do, too! And think of what a difference you can make" sort of thing.

Plus there will be no excuses to skip a day if I know someone is checking up on me.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

How Can I Say No To This?

OK, yes, I do remember that Thumbelina sucked her thumb until she was almost 8. But look at him! It is so adorable.

I know that it is easier to take away a pacifier than a thumb, but... did you see how sweet he looks? And so content, too.

I love this sweet boy.

And his thumbsucking addiction.

It's not like he's going to go off to college still sucking his thumb, right?



Right?

What Are YOU Worth?

In the past 3 days I have done 14 loads of laundry, a tiresome task to say the least.

But HOO-BOY, look at the tips I've collected from the washer & dryer!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Homesick

I was homesick again today. Homesick for a part of my life that I rarely experience anymore. It started at church, during a fireside, as we sang the hymn "The Spirit of God" . Every time I hear that song, it takes me back to my first sacrament meeting in the Deaf ward in California.

I have mentioned before that I am a CODA. This means I was lucky enough to attend church with a whole group of Deaf people - and it was a completely unique experience that I love to reminisce about. The first Sunday that we went was, in a word: awesome.

We walked into a small congregation of people, hands flying in varied conversations, before the meeting began. Our family took a seat in a row near the back of the room and waited for the 2 missionaries to arrive. We were greeted by no less than 20 different people, and then the service started. There were the usual formalities: a welcome, some announcements - and then the meeting began with a song - The Spirit of God. When the music director stood at the front of the congregation, hands ready, I remember a feeling of excitement and anticipation. As she led the group through the song, all hands in the room moving in unison to an unheard melody, I was mesmerized by the beauty of it all. And as the chorus came to the words, "...hosannah, hosannah...."a loud CLAP sounded throughout the room as every pair of hands signed the words.

I am homesick for the CLAP during that song. I still hear it in my head every time the song is sung - and it makes me smile. It makes me want to sign the chorus so much that I sometimes have to sit on my hands to control myself.

During the prayer that opened the meeting, I peeked around the room. Not an eye was closed. They all looked forward to the pulpit. To this day I have a hard time closing my eyes during a prayer. It seems to have so much more meaning when I can see the person who is saying (or signing) the words. (Give it a try sometime - no one will know.) I'm homesick for those all-eyes-open prayers.

I'm homesick for ASL conversations, for the brutal honesty that many Deaf people I know are ingrained with. (Sometimes. Because sometimes I don't want the honesty - the polite untruths are usually more comfortable.)

Anyway...I don't want to make this a novel.

Just wanted to say - I'm sort of homesick.

Doesn't everyone get homesick for something at different times in their life?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Recharging Their Batteries

When my day is especially chaotic and it appears as though nothing valuable is being accomplished, I take a deep breath and wait.

When darkness comes to rescue me and the jumble of bedtime rituals are complete, I know the time I most look forward to is near...

And then they are asleep.

In the quiet stillness of the night I walk into each bedroom and glance at their sweet, sleeping faces laying there on their pillows, so innocent and peaceful.

And then I smile because I know that they are just recharging their batteries and tomorrow will be another crazy & chaotic (but always also some degree of wonderful) day.

"There are few things as seemingly untouched by the real world as a child asleep."
-John Irving

Friday, July 11, 2008

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

We're through.

I have finally been able to see you for what you really are and I've come to this conclusion: We're not good for each other.

The only reason I've kept you around for so long was for sentimental reasons. We've had some great times together, and you've been there for me through some of my worst times, too.

But enough is enough.

Don't try to change my mind - I'm moving on to bigger and better donuts, and you can't stop me.

I'm only going to say this once and then it's over... you make my teeth feel like they are wearing a sweater. I'm sorry, but it's true.

So long, waxy friend.

Thanks for the memories.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I'm Going to Miss You!

It was with a heavy heart that I accompanied my 2 oldest girls to the buses this morning. The ones that take them off to Young Women's camp for 5 days.

Without me.

It's Thumbelina's first year of camp. I'm sure ElemenoB will take great care of her, but...

Who will make sure they sing camp songs? I mean, if you don't get crazy with camp songs, it's not the same experience. And is anyone besides myself brave enough to teach the girls "Midnight Train"? Will they still sing the banana song? Will they do the motions during flag ceremonies if I'm not there to break the "cool" barrier?

Who will take them on nice, long hikes? Not the wimpy ones where they walk around the lake and call it a day. I'm talking a hike to Lone Pine. Around the outer rim of the mountains surrounding MIA Shalom! Is someone going to do that if I'm not there?

Who's going to start the water fights in the canoes? The kind where you lure another canoe, preferably full of YW leaders, over to yours by talking really quietly so they have to get closer to hear you and then WHAMMO! you soak them to the core with one smooth motion of an oar in the water and paddle away as quick as you can. It's not as good without the water fights.

Is someone going to stay up all hours of the night with them, playing silly games and chatting and laughing and having a rip-roaring good time getting to know them?

I'm just saying...

I'm sure going to miss camp this year.

(and my girls)

A Blessing

Sunday was Baby O's blessing day. I know, the collar is a bit much, but don't you think it's adorable? I mean, seriously, everything on this kid is adorable.

In the blessing, his dad referred to him by his middle name. He does not recall doing so, but there were a whole congregation full of witnesses. I wonder: should I be calling him Baby R?

And one final thought: Each of our children have been given a baby blessing when they are about 2 months old. However, our family receives a baby (blessing!) every time one joins our family.

We love our sweet Baby O! (or R?)

Cool Down With a FREE Slurpee!

I know, you want the dirt on me and my summer. But I can't help but share these great free deals! After you go get your free meal at Chick-Fil-A this Friday, swing by 7-11 for a free Slurpee, too!

(Cow costume optional at 7-11)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Git Free Chikin!


I figured I'd give you a week's notice on this freebie. You know, to get your cow costume together and everything. What, you don't have a cow costume? Well, get crackin'!

July 11th is Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A. What does this mean? If you dress up like a cow, you get free food.

I swear, I'm not making this up. See for yourself!

If you're dressed like a cow from head to toe, you get a free combo meal.

If you're dressed like a partial cow, you get a free entree.

If you stop by my house and show me your costume, you get your picture taken to be used as blackmail whenever I deem necessary.

Reunited - And It Feels So Good!

I finally become well-acquainted with my skates.

Allen and I headed for the River Trail yesterday. He ran, I skated.

I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive at first. What if I could no longer balance myself like I used to? What if I fell and hit my head? What if the magic was no longer there?

My fears were unfounded.

I can't believe I waited so long to own rollerskates again!

It was like flying.

The words of a song I used to enjoy repeated in my mind... "Believe it or not, I'm walking on air! I never thought I could feel so free-eee-eeeeee!"

I can't wait to get out there again.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Welcome to My Life (In Pictures)

Want to know what I do all day? Yesterday I decided to document it in pictures. Lots of pictures. So, hang on tight 'cause here we go!

It's summer! That means I can sleep in until the first kid wakes up. Lately that is Curly. Her hair looks all crazy, like a lion's mane, when she wakes up.

Baby O wakes me up pretty early, too, but once he's fed he'll either go back to sleep or chill out in the baby swing for a bit.
Hubba was next. He just gets out his trains and entertains himself after I get him a glass of milk. He must have one (or two) first thing every morning. But hey, milk - it does a body good. (does that make anyone else want to say, "Pass it on"?)
Thumbelina is usually the last to awake and arise. Sometimes I go in and steamroller her just to hear her say, "Mom, STOP IT!"
As I began to prepare breakfast our bird Buddy decided to take a little flight around the kitchen and land on the rug. He's a funny little bird.
Then we assemble the masses for breakfast. Today I made oatmeal with diced apples and cinnamon in it. Allen told the kids it was like eating Apple Pie for breakfast, which I took as a good thing.
Princess was the last to wake up on this particular day.
And then, after breakfast, the inevitable: dirty dishes. This is a perpetual problem in our kitchen but I can usually ask (make) some of the kids take care of it.
At this point, Baby O needed a little TLC which Coolister was happy to provide. Coolister is, by far, Baby O's favorite sibling. It's really sweet to see my 15-year-old boy playing with his 2-month-old brother and loving it.
I must check my calendar daily. If it's on the calendar I will remember it. If it's not, I won't. Nothing today, but 2 appointments tomorrow. I try to make a mental note of that.
I try to read my little thought on my calendar corkboard daily as a reminder of what one daily priority should be:
Then it's time for the job jar! Every kid age 5 and up pulls out 2 jobs. 4 of them are fun, like "Play on the computer for 20 minutes" or "Have a snack", so sometimes they want to pull out more than 2 if there's still a chance they'll pull a fun one.
Cowgirl got "Vacuum Upstairs".
Coolister got "Wash Dishes".
Curly decides to watch a "Signing Time" movie while everyone else is doing their jobs.
I tell her, "Not until you are dressed and your hair is brushed!"
Movie in, and I start on the laundry. Well, I think about it. But then, Baby O is feeling hunger pains again.
This is repeated throughout the day, and followed by this:
I change his diaper and go to throw it in the garage when I see the accumulated pile of stuff that needs to go to Deseret Industries, better known as "D.I." So I load all that in the back of the car.
While outside, I notice that our trash was not picked up yesterday. So I went inside and called the sanitation department. An hour later the trash truck came by. Next, I notice this: what a messy workspace our computer desk has become. I mentally add it to the "To Do" list for the day.
Oh, yes, laundry. Times 3. Better get on it.
While downstairs starting the washer I peek into Coolister's room and see this:
DISASTER AREA!! I tell him to take care of that and I go shower. When I return...
Much better.
So, while the kids are watching a movie, I'll sneak into the kitchen for a snack. Here's what I should be eating:
But somewhere, where is it? Oh, yes, there they are...
And then it's time to make lunch.
And eat lunch.
ElemenoB reminds me that she has an English essay to turn in and it's due today. (It's summer! Why do kids have homework in the summer?) So, I check the laundry and then off we go to take care of that and run a few errands while Baby O is asleep again. She's asking me if she should put it in an envelope.
Here she comes, and she's still got the essay in hand...
The school was open, but no one was in the front office. I told her she could go back in and say, "HELLO!? ANYBODY HERE?!" but she's not very forward and said "Can't we just mail it? As long as it is postmarked today it is considered on time." So, off to the post office.
Then we get a few groceries at Sam's. ElemenoB is pretending she doesn't love having her picture taken.
Last stop, the library.
When we get home everyone is hungry again, so we eat some of the bananas I just purchased.
Coolister reminds me he has a birthday party today and needs a gift. We are making him a T-shirt, I declare, knowing we have all we need at home to do so. We go online for ideas and decide on this one. It's pretty funny! In fact, I remember writing answers like that on occasion in hopes of getting extra points for creativity. (FYI - it never worked.)
I iron it on, and voila! - instant birthday present. (Click on the picture to get a closer look)
I almost made myself a shirt that said, "I Make Milk - What's Your Superpower?" (another idea we saw online) but decided I would never wear it, despite the humor. Anyway, I realize that Tuesdays are usually the night our teenagers have youth activities at the church, but Coolister says the boys' activity was canceled due to the Fourth of July being this weekend. (I'm not sure what that has to do with anything, but that's OK.) So I ask ElemenoB if she still has an activity. She informs me that they are making "Camp Bucket Seats" and, oh yeah, she needs to bring some fabric. How much fabric? She doesn't know. I tell her and Thumbelina to go search my "stash" and find something. Luckily, they find a variety of fabrics they like.
Then it's time to eat dinner. On the menu for today is pizza, so I get the dough started, check the laundry, check my email, then put the pizzas together.
Dinner time. We make a plate for Dad who is putting in long hours at work...
Then chow down.
Curly takes her customary dinner-time nap, which we don't like so much. It's a power-nap, which means she wakes up in an hour or two, ready to be up all hours of the night. But, once she's out, she's out.
I fold the last of the laundry for today,
Straighten the mess on the computer desk,
And check my email. And check the blogs I read. And read the news. Then I start uploading all the pictures I've taken today for this post. Allen comes home from work while I am doing this and bathes the little kids. Then it is time for some scripture reading...
And off to bed with everyone. Putting some dirty clothes in the laundry basket in my closet, I see my poor, neglected skates which have only seen action in my driveway since arriving last week. And I remember that they were on my mental "To Do" list for today.
See how they have given up hope, laying there all sad and hopeless? Don't look so forlorn, my new friends. Your time will come.

Goodnight.