Monday, October 31, 2011

If You Think Being a Ninja's Hard Work, Try Being a Mom

Happy Halloween! 

On Saturday we went to a Halloween party. They had a place for us to take pictures in our Halloween costumes. This year we are a Ninja family! Here we are using our ninja skills and posing for the picture: 

Giggle giggle. Get it? Because we're ninjas you can't see us. Actually, Ash and I went trick-or-treating at some local businesses. We went into a chocolate store (that was NOT giving away chocolate to trick-or-treaters but plain old tootsie rolls. So sad) and the girl behind the counter said "You! Ninja! I can see you! You're not being very ninja-y!"

Oh, but I suppose you really do want to see our costumes. Well, ok:

The downside of being the shutterbug in the family is you have tons of pictures of other people's costumes, but none of your own. Just take my word for it that my costume was cool. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

You Actually Go Outside in These Things? Well, What Would You Prefer? Yellow Spandex?

Have I mentioned how much I love Halloween? I LOVE Halloween. My favorite part is the costumes. I love homemade costumes the best, and I love themed costumes even more. This year so far, I've mostly loved toddler costumes, as it was a big part of my life this year. I've also noticed that here in Sunland, people dress up their dogs for Halloween. A dog in a costume is always adorable: no matter how store-bought or homemade. 

This year i made our Halloween costumes. Here we are: 
A family of ghosts!

Bawahaha. Ok, ok, these are actually homemade Halloween decorations I made for our house. They look pretty scary at dusk!

What? You didn't actually think I would unveil our costumes before Halloween, did you?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

This is War, Peacock. Casualties are Inevitable. You Can Not Make an Omelet Without Breaking Eggs, Every Cook Will Tell You That. But Look What Happened to the Cook!

I do love CLUE. It's my favorite board game: it always has been. I love it so much I have four variations of the CLUE game. I read all the books when I was a twelve or thirteen and I haven't just seen the movie, I have it memorized.

I also love How To Host A Murder parties, and have been dismayed for several years that there was not a CLUE version of How To Host A Murder. So this year, I decided to write my own. This was do mostly to the fact that Rissy and I have been wanting to do another Saboteur game, but we are not in the same state, which makes things difficult. So, instead, we decided to write a How To Host a CLUE together.

At first, we tried to make it so it had the same element as How To Host A Murder; namely, enough real life, real time facts that through logical thinking and the process of elimination, you could reason the identity of the murderer, but also have it be like the board game clue; namely the murder weapon, location and murderer would change each game.

This brought be a whole new respect for the board game CLUE. It is such a perfect game. it's so simple, yet very complex. It's efficient, yet fun. It's... unrepeatable. After puzzling over it for a month, we gave up. We'll keep working on it, but I'm not sure there IS a way to merge the two.

So, we settled on a set murderer, weapon and location and went about writing the game.

I played it with a wonderful group of friends last night. The party was awesome. Not only did the game turn out rather well, but the players were just wonderful. I wish i could have given out awards: best dressed, best hair piece  best reaction, best thinking-on-your-feet, best line, best answer, best cover-up. But then I would have to think actually did those things best, and I wouldn't know.

There were some great lines. I had a hard time falling asleep last night, re-playing all of it in my mind. Everyone just did Such. A good. Job.  I had a wonderful time, I hope everyone else did too.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Presidents of the Church Lesson 30: Preparing for an Eternal Home

Remember how I was complaining about needing a forum to help me with my Sunday School Lesson Plans? I still haven't found such a forum, but I did discover more reasons why I need one:

I came across lesson thirty in which it gives a great idea:

 Have the necessary items ready to use in the activity, including the wordstrips. You may wish to give the wordstrips to class members, and, as you name a particular “ingredient,” have the class member holding that wordstrip bring it to the table and place it in the mixing bowl.  Put on the apron and hat, if you have one, and act out the following recipe using the large bowl, mixer, spoon or spatula, and ingredients (wordstrips). As you mix, say the following: 
 These are the ingredients for a heavenly home. First, at the very beginning, invite the Holy Ghost to your home to stay. Crush Temptations and Sin and set them aside outside the bowl. Blend in one Temple Marriage, one Mother (who loves Dad), one Dad (who loves Mother). Gradually add Children. Quickly stir in Living the Gospel: Scripture Study, Prayer, and Meeting Attendance. Sprinkle liberally with Courtesy and Communication. Garnish with the Word of Wisdom: Exercise, Proper Diet, and Rest. Pour Love over everything. Serve with Unselfishness. 

When you have finished with the ingredients, uncover the cookies or other food that you prepared before class. Let each class member take one. Tell them that just as the good taste of the cookies (or candy, etc.) can last, the success in a marriage can last forever if the ingredients are all included. 

 What a delightful idea. But it's kind of sad to put wordstrips into a bowl. How about I put the wordstrips on actual ingredient containers and put real food into the bowl?! We could actually make cookies! What a wonderful lesson to keep the attention of teenagers!

So I searched the internet for an actual cookie recipe that goes along with this lesson. I needed a cookie recipe with the same amount of ingredients, two eggs, and that didn't take much time to bake.

I could not find a recipe. I cannot be the first person ever to change this lesson into an actual cookie-making session. I cannot possibly be the first person to make not-pretend cookies. I found a few blogs referring to family home evening activities where the above lesson was used but none of them actually made the cookies out of the recipe. They just read the recipe and then brought out cookies. Again I cannot be the first person to want to connect the two.

And yet I found myself making up my own cookie recipe to fit the above description and even tweaking the above description to fit my recipe. SO: For all you twelve and thirteen year old Sunday School Teachers who find this blog post because you want to make actual cookies: YOU ARE WELCOME.

I printed out the recipe card for each student. The recipe said this:

Recipe for a Happy Home
 “It’s possible to make home a bit of heaven. Indeed, I picture heaven as a continuation of the ideal home.” David O. McKay 

First, at the very beginning, invite the Holy Ghost to your home to stay 
Mix in Scripture Study, Prayer and Meeting Attendance 
Create a temple marriage by blending together one Mother (who loves Dad) and one Dad (who loves Mother). 
Beat together the Temple marriage and unselfishness. 
Add Word of Wisdom. 
Crush Temptations and Sin, and add. 
Stir Temple Marriage mix in with dry mix.
Gradually add Children 
Sprinkle with Courtesy and Communication 
Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets and bake in Love 

And on the back I had this:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour = Holy Ghost
1 teaspoon baking soda = Scripture Study
¼ teaspoon baking powder = Meeting Attendance
1 teaspoon salt= Prayer 
1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter, softened = Unselfishness
3/4 cup granulated [white] sugar = Mom (who loves Dad) 
3/4 cup packed brown sugar = Dad (who loves Mom) 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract = Word of Wisdom 
1 teaspoon nutmeg = Courtesy 
1 teaspoon cinnamon = Communication 
2 eggs = Temptations and Sin 
2 cups Chocolate chips= Children 
1 small mixing bowl = Temple Marriage
Bake at 375-degree for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown = Love

 I did have class in the kitchen and we did actually make the cookies. Beforehand I had re-labeled the ingredients to look like this:

 At the beginning, I had each student pick out an ingredient (or two or three). I read the recipe out loud and every time we used an ingredient the student read the label out loud and then added it in. To make the labels I used what was in the manual but sometimes I thought the manual was dumb. Other times the manual didn't have anything so I made it up. Had I had more time (read: Had I not had to make everything else up on my own) I would have had a scripture or David O. McKay quote on each label. As you can see with some labels I just got lazy (Meeting Attendance is labeled: It's important)

If I had my forum where I tell other teachers how my lesson went I would say something like this: WARNING: You know how you are not supposed to use the church ovens to bake anything? I thought that was just because they didn't want you to burn the church down so I baked the cookies in the oven anyway. As it turns out you're not supposed to bake anything because the wonderful cookie smell goes through THE ENTIRE CHURCH and your whole ward will come in asking for cookies and asking if you actually baked in the ovens even though there is a sign right above them telling you not to.

But this activity really did hold the kid's attention. And they did listen and have a great discussion. And the cookies were delicious.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Trying To Make Breastfeeding Normal

A girl in my ward had her baby shower today. She kept telling me she'd send me a list of things she still "needed" for the baby, but she never did. The day of the shower I still had no gift, so I was left to my own devising. 

I devised this: 
It's a Breastfeeding Basket. I saw the idea on Lactating Girl's blog. It's a great gift for baby showers to help the mom-to-be prepare for breastfeeding. in my basket I included a water bottle (to stay hydrated) lots of protein bars (for easy snacks) Mother Love nipple cream, Mother's Milk Tea, Fenugreek pills, and these things called Booby Tubes I found that help with engorgement and mastitis. I also included a flyer for a free babywearing class in the area, and a breastfeeding support group. I wanted to include LLL's paper on breastfeeding after a C-section, but I don't own a printer. So, instead I emailed her that information and stuck in a little index card with her local LLL group's info.

I don't really think she liked it: She's not really big on breastfeeding (she is, after all  electing to have a C-section. It's already been scheduled and she's already hording the baby formula samples the hospital and her OBGYN office gives out). Usually I spend around ten or fifteen dollars on gifts, while this collection cost me almost fifty dollars.

It would be more normal for me to give her a set of baby bottles or pacifiers. But that's why I wanted to give this gift so badly. I want supporting moms to breastfeed be a normal thing in our society, instead of setting up all the booby-traps.  I would have LOVED a gift like this and I felt good giving it. And maybe it will help her to choose to breastfeed, or at least help normalize it in her mind.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

One Thing is True of All Governments - Their Most Reliable Records are Tax Records

I got our first Property Tax bill yesterday. Property taxes are weird. The government sets a fixed percentage for most taxes, then sees what revenue flows in, but for property taxes the city government sets the exact revenue it wants to collect, and then works out what percentage to charge each existing property to get that revenue. It's weird.

Also weird are the odd fees added on to my bill. The actual amount I'm paying in property taxes is about a thousand dollars less than the total bill. That's because I have so many added fees: Unified School fee, Community College fee, both of which I understand, but are useless to me. Then all the charges for water: Metro water fee, not to be confused with the metro water standby fee, and different from the water availability fee. All these are separate from the sewer service fee. And keep in mind I pay the water company twenty dollars a month on top of my actual water bill, for things like "water cleaning" and "pipe maintenance cost."

But then we get to the fees I can't figure out: Mosquito surveillance fee? Vector disease control fee? Rabid Raccoon Zombies prevention fee? Ok, I made that last one up. But the other two are actually on my bill. Do I really pay some guy to sit around watching mosquitoes? Is that a good job? Does he make enough to own a house? Does he pay a Mosquito surveillance fee with his property taxes?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Transformation Central! Reformation Central! Transmogrification Central!

Remember how out house is twenty-five years old? The garage door is just as old. It's been estimated that the springs were replaced about fifteen years ago, and the bottom board of the garage door was replaced when we moved in because it had became a favorite meal of termites, but other that than, our garage door was wooden, manual, creaky, and according to some, likely to collapse at any time.

Today marks the momentous occasion of our new garage door! It was installed a few hours ago. It looks awesome. It makes our house look less... abandoned. Really, it makes the outside of our house look so much better. Now all we need is a lawn! And a new exterior, but those are minor details.

Jasmine has been living in the garage for a few months now, and last month Drek was awesome enough to clean and organize the entire garage, so Jasmine had a very comfortable home. Now it has the much-desired accessibility feature: we can open and close the garage door with the touch of a button. I could not be more thrilled.

Don't you just love when you've been saving and looking forward to something for months, and then it happens and it's even better than you expected? Hooray!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

You Know How it is When You Get Those Manly Urges and You Just Gotta Kill Somethin'... Fix Things, Cook Outdoors...

Last Sunday in Relief Society we had the Elder's Quorum secretary come in to make an announcement:
"Yes, so...the Elder's Quorum is having a camp-out this week, Friday night to Saturday morning. We leave at four so if your husbands come rushing home at three thirty yelling for a sleeping bag and claiming they have a ward thing, it's legit. You might want so set out their sleeping bag for them. Maybe even remind them."

A woman raised her hand and asked if they would be taking the kids. The Secretary cringed and said something along the lines of "Elders only. There are absolutely no  children allowed. We'll be shooting guns and driving around cars and have fires." He hinted at things exploding.

So Drek left yesterday for the camp-out. I stayed home with Ash and fixed my clothesline and re arranged the furniture. I got to babysit my little niece for a few hours. She is only four months younger than Ash and they are good friends. I packed them in the bike trailer and went for a ride. One of them would laugh because the bike trailer is a fun ride and then the other one would laugh because the first one was laughing, and then the first one would laugh because the second one was laughing. It was a wonderful and very giggly bike ride.

After putting the babies to bed I stayed up way too late watching stand-up comedian routines. It's wasn't things exploding, but I still had fun.

Drek came back this morning with all his digits intact. He said they picked up a car and turned it to face a different direction. He also said part of his sock turned to powder. Hmmm...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It's Been Momentarily Misplaced...

I found my keys; they were in my apron. They must have been there since the last yard sale. I also found ten dollars and a bunch of coins. Hooray! 

Today I went to the zoo. I took a backpack filled with snacks and water. We saw a few animals: 

I took my phone out to check the time. I rearranged a few things and we headed off again. While Ash was occupied at the playground, I searched for my phone once again. I could not find it. I searched through every pocket, dumped out all contents and repacked it, but there was no sign of my phone. I sighed, thinking it had to be by the gorillas. I was too lazy to walk back there, so we just came home.

During lunch I heard my phone ring. It was coming from my backpack. I quickly dumped everything out to find it. As it turns out my phone had buried itself in my bag of chips.

Mmmmm, cell chips.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

And I Just Can't Wait Until Next Halloween Cause I've Got Some New Ideas That Will Really Make Them Scream

Oh, how I love October! I love Halloween, I love Halloween parties, music, movies, books, decorations, food, costumes and especially traditions! One of my (many) favorite Halloween traditions is painting pumpkins together as a family! We did it early this year because I'm SO excited for Halloween! Drek brought home pumpkins a few days ago and I went out and got some new paint supplies yesterday. Last night we listened to A Nightmare Before Christmas and sat around the table painting our pumpkins!

Here is Drek's: 


 And Ash's:

Sunday, October 02, 2011

They Pitched their Tents Round About the Temple, Every Man Having his Tent With the Door Thereof Towards the Temple

We just finished a wonderful General Conference weekend! True to the form of King Benjamin, we set up our tent facing the prophet. 

It was set up inside out living room, and by facing the prophet I mean facing the computer, but it worked out quite nicely: 

I had a grand idea to live off of nothing but our 72-hour kits during the 48 hours of General Conference, but after the first two meals I discovered something starteling: MRE's are gross. Which is good to know. I now have a shopping list of what we need in our kits (things like forks) and what we need to replace (MRE's with edible food). Not that the MRE's aren't fantastic food storage, I just think if we are ever in need of our 72-hour kits, we'll want comfort food, not survival food.

I thought Conference was especially amazing this year, and the announcement of a second temple in Provo is particularly exciting! I can't wait for the talks to be uploaded to so I can listen to them again!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Take it From an Old Spectator. Life's Not a Spectator Sport. If Watchin' is All You're Gonna Do, Then You're Gonna Watch Your Life Go By Without Ya

Last night Drek took me to to live performance of Stephen Schwartz songs (isn't he the best?!). We've been on several live-theater dates before, but this one was definitively the most...odd.

Their performances were about what we expected; not professional, but fun and the variety of singers made it better. The songs were a little surprising: They sung almost every single song from Wicked (including As Long As Your Mine. I'm not going to lie, I love listening to that song, but watching it performed is...awkward. I had a hard time watching that scene when we went to go see the professionals perform Wicked. I had an ever harder time watching this performance. Why would you chose THAT song?) and had a huge chuck left over for Children of Eden. One song from Pippin, One song from Pocahontas, one song from Prince of Egypt, one song from Godspell, one song from Rags and one song from Hunchback of Notre Dame (Stephen Schwartz did Hunchback?!). So why did Schwartz do so many religious-themed musicals? Anyone know the history there?

But that wasn't the odd part. The odd part was the audience. It was clearly comprised of friends and family of the performers. There was a surprising number of cheers when certain people were on stage and even a few catcalls. When one girl finished a solo someone in the audience started selling her autograph.

During intermission, the theater sold plastic cups of wine and raffle tickets for an enormous bottle of vodka. The winner of the raffle and he broke open the bottle during the second half of the performance. Since most of the audience had those plastic cups left over, it was easy to share. Needless to say the audience during second half was a bit more rowdy than the first. I didn't realize an audience could be that vocal.

I think the audience cheered up the performers a bit: they were a lot more energetic during the second half than in the first. But really, I thought they did a good job in both. I highly enjoyed the night and liked all the performances.

Walking back to our car we saw a raccoon scamper across the street. Yeah, a raccoon. A real one. That was possibly my favorite performance.