Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Countdown to Turkey Day ...

Yesterday, Bucket read for the first time. ... Out of the Dick and Jane reader that I have. Good stuff.

Bruise is closer (sosososososoclose!!) to writing his name by himself. If he's motivated to do so.

I have most of the Thanksgiving fare that I'm responsible for in order
  • A pecan pie from scratch
  • An apple pie (filling is storebought)
  • Potatoes have been mashed
  • Turkey is brining/being brined/whatever in preparation for being roasted tomorrow.
  • Bread is chopped and lying out to get a little stale for the stuffing (homemade cornbread and storebought French bread)
  • Cheesecakes were made and have set/are still setting in the fridge.
  • Pumpkin bread has been baked.
I have ingredients for Spanish green beans. My mom brought up a broccoli-rice-cheese casserole (YUM!) (even though she had to head back right after I got back from volunteering). I need to bake the rolls that I've made the dough for.

I got most of my Christmas present from Mom today. She bought me a new hard drive (which will arrive Monday) and new RAM (which I already installed). So, hopefully, by next week, my computer will be up and running ... even if I have to start from scratch for the most part. But, hey ... at least Michael won't have to give up his laptop every day. That's a good thing, right? (Yes.)

I still need to do another load of dishes and fold laundry and put out towels for everyone ... But most everything is coming together. Even if I need to wake up crazily early tomorrow morning in order to start the food and get things ready about the time I want them to be. ^_^

Funny thing: Yesterday as Bucket and I were making pumpkin bread (while my mom, bless her heart, picked up last-minute supplies) and Bruise was whining. Bucket asked him, exasperated, "Is THAT how you talk to your MOTHER??" (Not that I would know at ALLLLLL where she'd ever hear THAT. *shifty eyes*)

Okay, I'm kinda done now. Phew. Wish me luck getting up insanely early tomorrow morning!! And wish me luck that I'll get a nap, too. *sigh*

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Do1NiceThing

Today I registered to be a potential bone marrow donor. (Honey, I hope that's okay. Sorry that I didn't ask you first. I'm headstrong like that. :P)

But I was reading last week in an old Readers' Digest magazine that my mom had passed onto us ... and there was an address for Do1NiceThing (www.doonenicething.com).

And, well ... to put it bluntly, I can feel guilt for having nice things. I mean, I really have a LOT to be thankful for. Things that I really do take for granted: a wonderful husband, great (usually) kids, a healthy family, I don't have to work outside the home, we have a house, we have two vehicles, we have running water and electricity, we have a working computer (just the one for right now, but STILL!) ... I mean, compared to, what, 90% of the world's population, even though I can't just go out and buy a new wardrobe at the drop of a hat (or a debit card), I'm sitting really pretty.

I have a family that is healthy. My kids don't have cancer. I have not outlived any of my children.

That's a huge blessing.

And ... well, like nearly any American woman who grew up during the 90s, I've read Lurlene McDaniel books. I KNOW that not every child is healthy. Heck, there are adults with cancer or other diseases ... And I'm healthy.

Even though sometimes I feel a bit guilty because, compared to lots and lots of other people, I have things ... easier.

And, because I really am grateful for the things that I DO have, I feel ... not OBLIGATED, per se ... but that I SHOULD and DO need to help out in what little ways that I can.

If we had more money, I'd definitely be doing some of those kiva.org loans. I'd give a larger fast offering. I'd donate to the Perpetual Education Fund. I'd love to buy some families a cow or something awesome from Heifer International. ...

But, since I do not have all those funds at my disposal, I do try to do some cool things. And, over at Do1NiceThing, they have a list of some that I really like. TheHungerSite allows you to click daily, and for each click, the sponsors donate money or food to those in need. (There are also the sister sites for breast cancer (donating mammograms), literacy (books), animal rescue (food for animals), child health (to cover costs for kids' healthcare), and rainforest (to help conserve that resource).) FreeRice will donate 10 grains of rice for each question (in the subjects of art, geography, languages, chemistry, and math ... you choose your subject) you get right. Xerox has jumped on the wagon of doing cool things with their site, LetsSayThanks, where you can select a postcard and message to send to U.S. Military personnel who are serving overseas.

I know that these are small things. Little things. And most of them only take a minute (though I have, at times, spent about an hour at FreeRice). But ... it makes me feel a little bit better. I like knowing that even though these things barely cost me any time or effort ... they will help someone to feel better or get well.

Speaking of, I need to donate blood the next time the blood drive's around. Yes, it does take more time (and planning ... now that I have my munchkins. I don't know that they'll be quite ready to sit with me as I lose about a pound. Though, come to think about it, when they CAN sit for that long, I should just bring them with me. ^_^) ... but it isn't hard (unless I almost pass out again. I hate it when I do that. *sigh*). And one pint of blood can help up to three people. I mean, that's pretty cool, right?

(Besides, I have some kinda funny donating-blood stories! If you really want me to relate them, just let me know, okay? I'm willing. Some are slightly more ... not quite embarrassing ... but they are kinda funny.)

I mean, it'd be pretty awesome if I WERE a superhero and could totally change the world so that everyone had clean water and enough money to ... I don't know ... keep a roof over his/her family's heads. And take a family vacation or something. And never have to worry about how to pay for their food or bills.

(Or heck, if I could just be all, "Okay, you evil-doers! You are going down! And all your resources are belong to us!" And then I could redistribute everything more fairly. But that's not how it works. Because, face it, I might use part of my portion to buy shoes and books before paying off the credit cards or something like that. ... Okay, I'm not quite giving myself the credit I deserve ... but people shouldn't be FORCED to do good things. They should do it because they WANT to. I'm just sayin'.)

Yeah ... that's most of what's going on around here. Some good things with a large serving of guilt on the side. Hey, that's how I roll. :P

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gratitude Challenge - Days 20 and 21

Assignment: As the challenge winds down, write a thank you note to yourself. Thank yourself for taking the time to stop and focus on all the little things for which you feel grateful.

Okay, self, you heard 'em. Thanks!
Now get back to work.

KIDDING!

I am glad that I've done this challenge. Especially this year. It's good that I kicked myself into gear and did this.

Day 21 Assignment: Reflect on the 21 days of the Gratitude Challenge and what this process has meant to you.

I think that it's been a read godsend that I did this project when I did. I don't really know how else I'd handle the truck and my computer breaking down during the same week without going stark raving INSANE.

I mean, I could focus on the fact that my children seem hell-bent on sending me to the mental ward (or perhaps Hell. Just sayin'.) ... But doing this challenge has helped me to look past most of the daily crap and see some of the really good stuff. (Gosh, I'm so eloquent! :P)

Today hasn't been my best of days ... I'm VERY irritated that the kiddos will not take a nap. And they haven't for a few days. ... And don't try and tell me that it's because they don't need it. Believe me, THEY DO. You should see how cranky they are when they don't take it. ... My home isn't a very serene place at present.

But there's always tomorrow. And, from doing this project, I'm better able to focus on the fact that the crap-stuff is temporary. And that it will pass and things will get better. And all I really have to do is to just get through the bad stuff. Like in Firefly (Wow, I really quote Firefly a LOT, don't I?), "You're stronger than this thing, honey ... This is a moment in time. Step out of it and let it happen."

And, yeah. ....

So, I've done it. I've made it through the Gratitude Challenge. Let's hope that it made me a better person and all that.

I'm tired, though. Really tired today. I'm gonna lay down and read now.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gratitude Challenge - Day 19

Assignment: Have confidence in all the choices you have made today and be grateful for being able to believe in yourself.

I'll have to work on this one. I don't always make the BEST choices. But I am very glad to have the option and opportunity to be able to choose.

And it's nice to think that my choices today will bring opportunities in the future.

I was reading my email and this was one of the quotes that I received today:

"For those who are discouraged by their circumstances and are therefore tempted to feel they cannot serve the Lord this day, I make you two promises. Hard as things seem today, they will be better in the next day if you choose to serve the Lord this day with your whole heart. Your circumstances may not be improved in all the ways which you desire. But you will have been given new strength to carry your burdens and new confidence that when your burdens become too heavy, the Lord, whom you have served, will carry what you cannot. He knows how. He prepared long ago. He suffered your infirmities and your sorrows when He was in the flesh so that He would know how to succor you."

--Henry B. Eyring, "This Day", Ensign, May 2007, 89–91


Isn't that neat? I LOVE Elder Eyring. He's completely awesome.

And, really with how the blessing that I asked Michael to give me last week ... this really is hitting home. Since I've CHOSEN to try my darndest to do what Heavenly Father would want me to do ... since we work hard to pay our tithing and be honest and all that good stuff ... when we can't make it on our own, we'll receive help. And, yes, I don't necessarily expect to open the door and find that someone's left a $50k check made out to yours truly (Though, really, wouldn't that be NICE? Nice, yes. Realistic? Maybe not so much.) ... BUT we'll be able to get through our trials. That's good to know. Reassuring and all that.

It kinda reminds me (in my Whedonistic- Firefly-addicted way) of one of the quotes from "The Message" -- "When you can't run anymore, you crawl. And when you can't do that, you find someone to carry you."
(Gosh, don't I love it when the Gospel and shows that I absolutely adore AGREE? It just makes me feel squishy inside. In a nice, geeky way.)

But, yeah, with this challenge, I can work harder at trusting myself to make good decisions. And I can work harder at actually MAKING those good decisions. Like making sure that I find a time and DO my personal prayers and scripture study. Or start having regular prayers before mealtimes and in the morning with the munchkins. And, like, making healthy snacks for the kiddos. All good things. All good opportunities which I should take advantage of. ^_^

So, I have two more days of the Gratitude Challenge. ... Let's hope that I stay this well-adjusted days 22+. :P

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gratitude Challenge - Day 18

Assignment: For the past three days, you have focused on appreciating what makes you unique. Write about all the things that make you so lovable. Take a moment to appreciate your personal style, talents, and charm.
  • I laugh easily. I find lots of humor in life.
  • I can cry easily, too. But I much more prefer to laugh.
  • I try to be honest ... but I also work not to hurt people's feelings.
  • I'm really good at shelving books. Fast. And accurately. This is one reason why my people at MY library love me so. (That and I have cute kids that I bring to visit them. ^_^)
  • I write with inflection ... just like how I talk. Sometimes that doesn't always work in my favor. (Darn those writing standards essays in high school!)
  • People find me creative. I don't neccessarily agee ... but I do have a rather singular view on life.
  • I can quote movies. LOTS of movies.
  • I can sing. I have decent pitch. I don't mind singing in public ... I prefer singing in a choir (especially now when I don't sing nearly as often as I used to).
  • People tell me that I give good talks. That's usually because I use LOTS of quotes. Because lots of other people have said things better that I would. ^_^ And I don't mind THEM getting the credit. They deserve it.
  • I'm very sentimental. I have acute attacks of nostalgia.
  • I eat my vegetables.
  • I have a nearly-insatiable sweet tooth.
  • If given the chance, I would easily stay in bed all day, reading.
  • I'm better at paying attention to books than to movies nowadays. Why is that?
  • I try and consider other people's feelings.
  • I like to dance. And to watch dancing.
  • I'm rather good at baking, if I do say so myself.
  • It appears that I have a good memory ... sometimes.
I'm pretty alright, if I do say so myself.

And, hey, you can always jump in and comment. :P

Gratitude Challenge - Day 17

Assignment: Write about something you feel grateful for in your life today.

Just one thing?? It's been a really good day! (And, yes, I'm writing this Wednesday. But, so what?? That's how I know what a good day it's been!)

  • My mom came up. AND she's staying until THURSDAY (usually, she's had to take off as soon as I've gotten back from volunteering. Bonus time with my mommy? AWESOME.)
  • Michael's company is allowing him to drive one of the company vehicles. This allows us to be a two-car family. I'm going to be able to take my kids to storytime! I'm going to be able to do my VISITING TEACHING, y'all!! This is GOOD NEWS!!
  • Mom and I went grocery shopping and Bruise and Bucket were well-behaved in the cart.
  • As we went shopping, we got a turkey for Thanksgiving ... 15 lbs = $3.37. YES, REALLY.
It's been an AWESOME day!!

I mean, really. A good day. Also, we had pizza. Yum! And REALLY GOOD apple cider! And we paid the cell phone bill. Good stuff.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gratitude Challenge - Day 16

Assignment: Stand in front of the mirror for five minutes and focus on at least five things that you love about yourself. Write them down in your journal.

  • I have nicely-shaped eyes. And they're a cool color. ... And bonus -- no unibrow! I lucked out there!
  • I have shapely ankles ... especially when I wear heels.
  • I have pretty nice skin ... especially after that round of Accutane when I was a Freshman in college. (Stupid inflammatory acne.) But I don't have lots of wrinkles or anything. And my dimples can be cute. ^_^
  • I have nice, long fingers. And the ones that still have long nails make me especially happy. I've gotten used to my stubby, little thumbs. I'll never be a concert pianist or anything (but mostly due to the fact that I hated practicing, so I never really did).
  • I have very straight teeth ... and, no, I never had braces. When I was little, I thought that EVERYONE got braces and glasses at some point. Like a rite of passage or something. I mean, it's like ALL my friends did. And I never did. I kinda felt left out for a while (I'd still like glasses. It'd be nice to look smart and all. ^_^ ... And, really, how weird is that -- Blind man begets daughter with strong eyesight? Okay, he wasn't ALL the way blind then, but still!) I've had dental hygienists ask me if I had braces when I was younger, so that's flattering (my bottom teeth are a little crooked, so don't get me wrong. It's not like my teeth are perfect or anything.)
So, yeah, there are five things that are awesome about me, physically. I am grateful for my body. it may not always be what I wish it were (oh to be bird-boned and dainty! Makes finding clothes a LOT easier! Especially cute vintage-y things!) ... but it's strong for its size and it works. I can incubate feti, nurse, carry heavy things (like Bruise and Bucket at the same time), type, do bits of yoga or dancing (when I'm motivated to do so ... which should be a lot more often, truly). I can see, smell, hear, taste, and touch. I can walk, run (a bit), leap, carry, and lift. I can type, thread a needle, make a bed, wash dishes. I can scrub a bathtub or toilet or floor. I mean, overall ... besides some idiosyncrasies in the packaging, per se, it's a great body to have!

(And by idiosyncrasies, I mean the fact that I'm ... zaftig. I have very healthy curves. I'm a little bit FLUFFY. I carry my food storage supply on me. I could be skinnier ... but, really. Put Paris Hilton and me out in the desert and see who survives longer. Hands down, it'd be me. ... Unless i cave and start sharing the inside-the-cactus water and grilled snakes and bunnies with her. Because I might do that. Just sayin'.)

Why my kids are cute ...

Since Mother Nature and I are not on speaking terms (the little harlot with her little gifts ... like INSOMNIA), the kids and I are watching DVDs in bed while I work at garnering the energy to make breakfast.

Bucket had checked out My Little Pony's Biggest Tea Party Live! (Exclamation point included), which is a recording of a stage show with people in costumes. The ponies look like giant marionettes, but without strings and with someone inside the front legs.

When she had picked out the DVD at the library a few days ago, I had remarked that the ponies looked scary. So, as I put it in the player this morning, she said, "Oh, we get to watch the scary show, Mom?"

And just when I thought that my kids didn't ever listen to me!

Also, yesterday, when the kids went down for a nap, I went to bed to read and sleep (since, as I mentioned, Mother Nature has blessed me with that monthly gift which includes a crapload of insomnia ... which is very annoying to my dear husband. Truly, I'd like to fall asleep earlier. *sigh*) and, when Bruise woke up before his sister, he watched the newer (live-action) The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe with Michael. And, when Michael asked him about the story, Bruise actually showed good recall of the story.

... Except when Michael asked why Aslan went to the stone table. Instead of saying that he was making a sacrifice or something, Bruise's answer was, "'Cause I SAY so."

Also, Bucket tells me that I'm a princess. Very sweet of her.

And, yesterday, when I was putting their clothes away, Bruise told me, "Mommy, you NICE."

(cue: Awwwwww!!)

It's stuff like this that makes up for some of the stuff I deal with. ^_^

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gratitude Challenge - Day 15

Assignment: Take the time to focus on yourself. Appreciate and give thanks for your unique personality, skills, and talents.

Well, this is a bit harder for me. I don't always think of myself as anything all that special. And it's not anyone's fault but my own. I think I'm all right, you know ... but I'm not as amazing as a lot of other people that I know.

Let's start with things that I get complimented on, I guess. And I'll try not to feel WEIRD for talking so much about myself.
  • Michael tells me that I'm one of the least judgmental people that he knows. True, I take most people at face value. So what if you're skinny or not, gorgeous or less-than? Doesn't matter all that much to me. You're still a person and everyone has something cool about him/herself. I know great people that are not Christians or heterosexuals or stuff. Don't really care so much about that. The Lord loves them all, so why shouldn't I?
  • Michael also tells me that I'm really good about not saying mean things to or about people. I mean that's good and all. I LIKE to be nice. And, hey, it's often EASY to say mean things. (Heck, I think plenty of things that aren't near as nice as they should be.) But it's better to be nice. There's enough cause for hurt and sadness around. I think we should all start just complimenting people to counteract it.
  • Dianne told me that I'm good at digiscrapping. Which made me feel quite pleased with myself, since she's a whiz at scrapping in real life. Digiscrapping is much better/easier for me since I can't get frustrated and throw it across the room. :P
  • People think that I'm funny. It's always nice.
  • Some people even think that I'm clever. That makes me happy.
  • I know a lot of elephant jokes.
  • I read aloud well. I use inflection and everything. Reading aloud is fun for me. (And, when I get words wrong, can be even more amusing than usual. ... Like the one time, in front of my theater group -- with one of my big high school crushes -- when I accidentally read that a character had ... well, it was SUPPOSED to be a "speech deficit" ... and I SAID "speech DEFECATE." Yeah ... I can laugh about it now.)
  • I can usually look back at my past mistakes and laugh ... it's taken me a while to get to that point.
  • I draw stick figures with attitude/personality. I have a collection of sketches that I did for when Michael and I were teaching Primary. The kids seemed to pay better attention when they had those visuals to deal with.
  • I can do crosswords ... I prefer the ones in Women's World magazines. They're kinda easy. Usually.
  • I learned to do Sudoku (Thanks, Nintendo DS and Brain Age and Brain Age II!)
  • I bake well ... and can experiment with a recipe.
  • I remember some of my friends' birthdays and phone numbers from high school (I used to be better ... but then I got a cell phone. :P) ... Don't ask me my locker numbers or combinations. I'm not so good with those.
  • I can be good at being snarky ... which is fun when I'm watching a movie with Michael ... I don't think it's all that fun for other people around me, though. Sorry!!
  • I enjoy talking to people. I like to learn about them.
  • I seem to be able to talk to lots of different people. Like different age groups. Maybe since, because I'm an only child, I tend to adopt people. I don't know.
  • I'm kinda flexible. I used to be more so.
  • I like to dance ... and used to perform a little. Swing dancing was the best (and Lindy Hop).
  • I don't mind being on stage. I loved being in theater. I don't get bad stage fright.
  • I seem to do well enough at public speaking. I am more nervous when I'm giving a talk than when I would perform in plays, though. Hey, when I'm talking in church, it's MY words that I'm saying. Not someone else's!
  • I do well when I play along as I watch Jeopardy! ... Sometimes people think I'm smart because I know trivia-stuff like that. I don't feel all that smart, since I know that I don't know TONS of stuff. But it's flattering that people think that I do know stuff.
    ... Did that even make sense?
  • I read quickly. Probably because I like to read and because I've had a LOT of experience reading.
Yeah, that's most of what I'm coming up with right now. I mean, if there's anything GLARING that I've forgotten, you can feel free to jump in there. :P No pressure, though. I don't want to get a big head about this or anything. :P

I mean, yeah, I'm not the MOST AMAZING PERSON ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET or anything. But I'm getting more comfortable in my own skin. And, you know, I'm not a bad person to be. I'm a decent friend, a decent computer-geek (I could be LOTS geekier), and a decent mom. I leave room for improvement ... which is fine. I don't have to be ABSOLUTELYPERFECTOHMYGOSH right yet. Just working towards being better and better. Baby steps. And I can handle that.

Gratitude Challenge - Day 14

Assignment: It's been two weeks wince you started The Gratitude Challenge. Write about how The Challenge has changed your perspective thus far.

I do think that accepting this challenge has helped me ... especially with all the ... hullabaloo that's gone on this month. ^_^

It has truly helped to be able to (to have a reason to) focus on the GOOD things, the NICE things, the HAPPY things in my life, rather than just seeing all the things that are going wrong.

Truly, this has been the calmest that I've EVER been about my computer not working. Really. The last couple times that I've lost information on or access to my computer, I've been pretty inconsolable for DAYS. This time, however, I was kinda surprised at how easily I was able to take this in stride.

The "check engine light" coming on in the van? Meh. It's still working (and, after taking it to Auto Zone -- great place, by the by -- it's nothing that'll cause the van not to work. It should turn off soon, since it's just from the gas attendant not tightening the gas cap enough after pumping the gas) and it'll continue to work.

I feel ... more ... mature/calm/capable. It's strange. I mean, I'm still ME. But I'm a better me. i'm less focused on myself and what all is WRONG right now. I mean, yeah, I really could use more money, a working computer, cars in better condition ... But those are not the be-all-end-all in life.

I'm realizing that some of the things that I've used as a distraction from life are really time-suckers. When my computer's up and running again, I think I'll be giving up most of my Facebook games. I also need to work LOTS harder at creating that habit of daily prayer and scripture study (and not scripture SKIMMING, which is what I usually find myself doing *sigh*).

But I'm glad that I accepted this challenge. And I'm glad that I waited to start it until the first of this month. It really was the right time. Even though I could have started it earlier, this is really the right time for me. ... I still have another week of this to do, but I highly recommend it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Gratitude Challenge - Day 13

Assignment: Pick three friends or family members you see regularly. View their actions and gestures through a positive lens, assuming their goodness and witnessing their best intentions.

This is a little hard, since - for the most part - I already DO try and see the good in people and give them the benefit of the doubt that they're not TRYING to be mean or whatever ... It's like that saying, that one that's to the point of "Never attribute to malice what could be caused by stupidity."

I only learned that one in the past couple years ... and it's helped a lot (except when I'm driving and it seems that a person is just TRYING to cause an accident. *sigh* Sometimes I really hate driving. Bring on the teleportation!!!)

First, I'll go with the family member that I've had the ... roughest relationship with. My dad. Don't get me wrong, I love my dad ... It's just ... different. I know that most kids know that they can count on their dads to give them lots of advice and guidance. Whereas, for me, I found a good deal of my early teenage years distancing myself from my dad. Because I felt really betrayed that he had divorced my mom ... that he was willing to turn his back on her and the Church ... and me. or, at least that's how it FELT.

My dad, Lord love him, can be such a people-pleaser that he'll TELL you what he thinks you want to hear. Sometimes, that can drive me a little crazy. I try to be honest ... and, if I think it's going to hurt someone, I'll change the subject or really pad what I think. But I try to tell nothing but the truth.

It killed me when he was with his first girlfriend after my mom. He hadn't even waited for the divorce to be finalized ... so that felt like even more a slap in the face.

I went through a period where I really didn't know if my dad really cared for me. It wasn't until I was in my car accident (and I called Dad to let him know that the truck might be totaled -- and he wasn't upset about that. In fact, I was a little shocked when he told me, "We can replace vehicles. We can't replace you.") that I really KNEW that he loved me. He's not the type to readily show his emotions. (Sure, he can gripe with the best of them. However, those other emotions ... you have to really know how to read him.)

I was recently looking over pictures of Bruise and Bucket as babies. And I went through the ones of when Dad and L and my Nana came up to meet them. And, as Dad's holding Bruise and Bucket in his arms, he really looks as if he has no idea what to do with them ... and such a bewildered look as he's trying to smile for the camera. It's really cute.

I know that my daddy loves me. I know that he's working to be a good grandpa. I also know that it's really hard for him. But I know that he's trying.

I think I've also figured out that he tries to please people so much so that he'll have someone to talk to. Like I've mentioned before, with his declining vision and his hearing loss, I think he's really lonely.

The other family that I can write about will be my children. Because, as much as I love them, I sometimes find myself getting a little annoyed with how NEEDY they are. But that's MY issue, not theirs. It's not their fault that I was born an only child and am still learning how to be less selfish with my time and privacy. ^_^ (I could write about Michael, but, really, he's just too easy to live with. I'm spoiled. I know.)

And, I know that someday sooner than I'm ready for, they are going to want to distance themselves from me. And then I'll be so, so sad and miss them so terribly.

Besides, truly, it's a little flattering that I have my little entourage that WANTS to hang with me, watch shows with me, tell me (not-quite-right) knock-knock jokes, and things like that.
Even if they're always begging me for food. And won't eat a bite of the dinners that I make them. Good thing they're so cute. ^_^

I could focus on how dramatic Bucket's tantrums can be or how much she whines ... or I can say that she's got a strong sense of self and remarkable amount of empathy for others.

I could gripe about how Bruise never eats dinner (unless it's Mac & Cheese) and how he uses that darling grin of his to try to get out of trouble ... or I can choose to think of it as his being very aware of whether he wants to eat THOSE calories ... and that he exercises a vast amount of charm.

I'm still working at being better. ... And I'll try to work at not getting irritated at other drivers who don't watch where they're going or who don't seem to possess the slightest amount of knowledge about basic road etiquette. Because, I'm sure that when they're not in their cars, they're most likely very lovely people. (I hope. :P)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gratitude Challenge - Day 12

Assignment: Today, make the effort to live life with a positive outlook. Restrain from criticizing the people around you. Dare to see the glass half full. Listen more than you speak. Give freely of yourself. Practice kindness at every opportunity.

I think that I actually managed this rather well. My computer died. I was grateful that the pictures of Bruise and Bucket are on the external hard drive. So, they're safe. PHEW.

I was grateful that on our walk to the library today that we (1) made it on time and (2) didn't get rained on and (3) that we made it at all (you never know when you're taking the kids on a walk that long without a stroller. They did really well. Not that it's ALL that far away ... but still!)

I was grateful that I got to check out books. That I got to watch the episodes of NCIS (Season One) that I wanted to see (HELLO!! Have you seen some of the guest stars?? Adam Baldwin!! TJ Thayne!!! ... and there are others, but those were the BIG ones that I got excited about. And it's really weird to see the guy who plays Jubal Early playing someone ... not Jubal Early.)

That the kids were interested enough in watching "Hello, Dolly".

That when I accidentally overheated my homemade chicken soup (with STAR-SHAPED NOODLES -- HOW CUTE IS THAT?!?), I remembered (since I couldn't look it up online easily -- the Palm TX isn't really made for web-browsing *sad*) that I could temper the ... CHIPOTLE-like flavor with lemon juice. There's still a ... smokey flavor to it. But Michael and J (my bro-in-law who came over to see if he could help fix the computer) both said it was good. (Even after i accused them of lying -- see how well I can take a compliment? Yeah, you only wish you were as smooth as I am. :P)

I was grateful that the kiddos like playing with me (and I worked at finding it as wonderous as it is ... instead of a little cloying, like I usually do).

I LOVED how Scott, the children's librarian joked around with Bruise. And how Bucket has bloomed into being an active participant in storytime and giving him a high five afterwards.

I feel a lot calmer ... it's good. ... "I am a lone reed." or "I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar." It's almost Zen-like ... it's kinda cool.

Now, it'll be good when I really start eating again. I haven't been doing a whole lot of that (at least not healthily) lately. Today was better. I finally ate lunch. And I was grateful for the leftover burger from Tuesday night's dinner and the last of that addictive salsa from the Tupperware party. ... Maybe I'm really going to have to buy a salsa maker. And then I'll have to also buy tomatoes and some peppers and fresh cilantro ... Seriously, it was SO good. I'm starting to drool just THINKING about it. *sigh* Good stuff.

Gratitude Challenge - Day 11

Assignment: Try to see the world through the eyes of a child. Think about the things you take for granted on a daily basis, and then express gratitude for everything down to the basic necessities that sustain your current life.

I know, I know ... I'm a little bit behind. But I did try to manage this one with some forethought.

Things I was grateful yesterday:
  • My family (snuggling and watching the old animated version of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe with Bruise and Bucket first thing in the morning).
  • The fact that we HAVE TLTWTW on DVD ... since that version is a BIG part of my childhood.
  • Having food to make for the missionaries for dinner.
  • Having most of the dishes done when the missionaries came over.
  • Getting dressed and doing my hair (and having had a shower) before fixing dinner :)
  • Being able to correspond with friends and family via the Internet
  • Being able to look up ANYTHING, information-wise, online.
  • Snuggling with Michael.
  • Being able to get any channels (so we can, say, watch SYTYCD)
  • Having a working vehicle (so Michael had a way to get to work, even if we didn't get to drive anywhere. *shrug*)
  • That, when I cut my thumb cutting some bread for the kiddos, it wasn't too deep and it didn't get blood all over the kitchen or anything.
  • That I'm BREATHING, that my blood flows in my veins, that I feel discomfort -- they all mean that I'm alive.
  • That I have hair.
  • That I have a Diana-cat to snorgle with.
  • That my children like to spend time with me.
  • That I have awesome, awesome, awesome friends (and that's a total understatement).
  • That I have a loving Heavenly Father who knows me better than I know myself ... and that He will not give me trials that I can't handle ... though, sometimes, I think that He may be overestimating my abilities. ... I'm just sayin'. (And if Mother Teresa says it, I can, too.)
  • That the world didn't end.
  • That what's left of my family (you know, my grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and all) are relatively healthy and ALIVE.
  • That we have people who sacrifice so, so, so much so we can enjoy the freedoms that we have. (Happy belated Veterans Day!)
It's a good time for me to be doing this Gratitude Challenge ... with all the crap going on.

Did I mention that this morning my computer pretty much died? Yup. I'm able to borrow Michael's laptop ... but somehow, I was actually able to take it in MUCH better stride than I've ever managed before. (Thank goodness, though, that the kids' baby pictures are on the EXTERNAL hard drive. *phew*) But, hey, if you want to pray that we'll be able to be a 2-computer household again SOON, I'd totally appreciate you!

And it looks like an unexpected blessing will help us handle the truck-situation ... More on that in the future. But, just saying, your prayers (and ours) are working. Thank you!!!!

Also a funny thing: Yesterday, Bruise and Bucket were having an epic light saber battle which ended with Bucket dramatically bestowing the coup de grace of cutting off her brother's legs. It was ... legendary.

Yup ... things are ... crap, but looking up. Doable, even. *phew*

We walked to the library today for storytime. I checked out books. Bruise threw a tantrum. We made it home ... it was misting a little when we were walking to the library. But we didn't get rained on. Nice blessing. Since my ONE rain jacket-type coat was in ... of course ... the car. Oops. ^_^ But, hey, I was appreciative.

And I found when I'll be serving jury duty. November 30 - Dec 11. That's my term. I won't find out until the evening of the Friday prior if I'm even scheduled for any of the days that first week. We'll see. (I wonder if Joseph's scheduled for that term. It'd be nice to have a friend on the jury. Or, at least, at the courthouse at the same time. ... I still think that Michael's flabberghasted that I have never been summoned to jury duty before this. ... Okay.)

And, since it's so late in the day, I'm ready to do day 12's assignment ... so I'll start that ... NOW.

(And, let's not talk about NaNoWriMo, since my first 11,000 are completely inaccessible. *sigh* As are most of my bookmarks. And most of my YW files for church. *sigh* I'd like those back. It'd be a perk for my righteous living, right?)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gratitude Challenge - Day 10 ... and other news

Yes, yes, I KNOW that I didn't blog yesterday. Bad me, I know. I just was BUSY

I woke up, cleaned out my PILES of magazines (well, PARTS of those piles), did dishes, cleaned the table, cleaned the laundry room (just in case anyone LOOKED in there and judged me based on that room alone), vacuumed, finished doing the dishes, took the kids to storytime and turned in books, checked out books for them, let them watch a show, made lemonade for my Tupperware party ...

Then Mom C and Aunt Ann came (since Aunt Ann's the consultant) with B, Ann's baby granddaughter. And ... yeah, that really was my party. My mom wasn't able to come up, since she was sick. Another friend had to cancel since her family's sick. The other maybes didn't come ... Oh well. It was nice to see Ann and Mom C ... and the kids had fun with B. The chicken that Ann cooked was tasty. And I'm still craving the salsa that we made with the chopper-thing. Yum. It was just a couple tomatoes and half a red onion with some dried cilantro and some salt. Yummmmmm.
And I got a GINORMOUS shopping tote as a free gift for hosting a party. Mom C and I each got a free citrus peeler. (The ones that I had growing up was an opaque yellow. This one's a translucent purple. VERY pretty. And, as host, I got another little free gift. I chose a scoop, since I remembered how dang HANDY my mom's was when I lived at home and was baking.

So ... yeah, if you want to put in an order, just contact me and I'll get you Ann's number. We're going to close on the 16th, I think.

My NaNoWriMo project isn't going well. I'm stymied.

Michael's truck broke down on his way home last night. So, we're down to just one car right now. We'll get it towed maybe Friday. I'm trying not to worry about this. I hate being without money. I hate not being able to fix things immediately.
Once he got home (after, thankfully, his brother [who, with his family, just happened to be here] went and picked him up and got the truck pushed into a parking lot and not just along the exit ramp), I excused myself to go to the bathroom to "freshen up" (translated to be: sob and pray and TRY to put myself back into some semblance of order before reappearing before anyone.)

After C, A, and their kids left, we got Bruise and Bucket ready for bed and I had Michael give me a blessing. And it was just what I needed to hear. Gosh, I really, really love having Michael -- and that he's worthy to hold the Priesthood.
But, in the blessing, I was told that I am loved and that Heavenly Father is aware of my/our needs. That I didn't need to worry over things that I can't control (and, truth be told, if given the chance, I could be quite a micromanager) and that things will work out.
I just have to have faith. More like, I just have to KEEP the faith.

Truly, the blessing really did help. It was just what I needed. Afterwards, I wiped my eyes and dripping nose ... and I felt ... calm. It's like how people describe how meditation feels -- where you aren't aware of all the tumult around and all you hear is the sound of the air rushing in and out of your lungs and the beating of your heart -- it's kind of like that.

It's not the BEST situation to be in ... but ... I'm adapting. Slowly, of course (hey, this IS me that we're talking about. I'm not all that great at dealing with change at the best of times), but I am adapting.

Worst case scenario, the truck's transmission is completely out (or something else HELLA-expensive) and we're down to just the one car until we (and by "we" I mean "Michael") get a substantial raise. I can walk the kids down to the closest local library for storytime. Mom will lend me her car (or we'll all drive together to my library) so I can keep volunteering ... or I'll just have to move my volunteering later in the day to when Michael's home, so I can take the van.
Visiting Teaching, though, is going to be rather sticky. I can walk to one gal's house ... but my companion doesn't have a car, so that rules out any weekday-daytime visits. If we just do later evening visits, it could work ... but not so much with the OTHER sister-we-visit-teach's schedule. *sigh*

I guess it's rather fine that I'm such a homebody overall. *sigh* Thank heaven for small blessings, right?

Which brings us to ...

Day 10 Assignment: Pick one of your five senses to focus on each day. Take note of how many gifts come to you via that single part of entry. Write about this experience.

Well, since I was so busy yesterday, I didn't even LOOK at the gratitude challenge calendar yesterday. But I'll try to recall ...

Touch
  • During the bedtime routine last night, Bruise sat on my lap while Michael read the Scripture story (this was about some of the miracles that Elisha did -- like the widow's oil replenishing so that her sons wouldn't be sold into slavery ... 2 Kings chapter 4). While tears rolled down my face, he peered up at me and traced the tear-lines very gently. It was very sweet of him.
  • My children seem to think the FUNNIEST THING is to give me kisseskisseskisses on my cheek and then blow a raspberry. Slobbery, yes. But I can't actually get at all upset about it. Could you?
  • Snuggling into my warm husband ... and how patient he is with me when I put my dry-ice-cold toes on him. Seriously, I don't deserve him. I'm aware. But I'm glad that he loves me regardless.
  • How soft my skin felt after I took five minutes to pamper myself (and get back at that harlot, Mother Nature) and did a little microdermabrasion (I really like the Olay home kit. For, what $25, it seems to work well. ^_^)
  • How good it feels to get a warm shower and put on clean clothes.
  • Michael's hands on my head as he gave me that blessing of comfort that I very sorely needed.
Since I didn't go INTO the day knowing that I needed to be aware of all these things, it's a much shorter list than it should be.

I'll post today's Gratitude challenge in a few hours. After I've thought about things for today. ^_^

I also want to give a shout-out to my awesome friends. Yesterday evening, I posted on Facebook that the truck broke down and that I didn't know what to do ... and immediately I had a few friends comment that I was in their prayers and that everything would be all right.
It brought (and still brings) tears to my eyes to be reminded that I am so loved and so blessed. At times, it seems like everything's stacked against us ... but if I can look past all the crap, life is really, really good.

I have some incredibly sweet friends, some hilarious friends (like my Ty-bro who made me choke with laughing) and all lovely, lovely people. And that helps so, so, so much.

Monday, November 09, 2009

You like me! You really like me!!

So, my friend Katie IMed me to let me know that one of her friends gave me an award!

Wow! I'm really flattered ... and bewildered (but in a good way!).

Her friend, presciousmama, recieved the Kreativ Blogger award...

(see? Here it is! Pretty, isn't it??)

... and I was one of the bloggers that she passed it along to. Wasn't that totally sweet of her?
(Answer: YES. I'm so tickled about this! ... Seriously, I just TILTED MY HEAD to try and wrap my brain around the idea!)

Here are the rules for this award:
Recipients-You are charged with completing certain guidelines once receiving this award.
  1. 1) Copy the pretty picture and post it on your blog. [Check!]
  2. 2)Thank the person that gave it to you and link to their blog. [In progress...]
  3. 3)Write 7 things about yourself we don't know. [This will be below the rules.]
  4. 4)Choose 7 other bloggers you would like to pass the award to. [Also down below...]
  5. 5)Link to those 7 other bloggers. [Ditto.]
  6. 6)Notify your 7 bloggers. [As soon as I post this! Hold your horses! :P]

But, like I mentioned above, I'm ... a little overwhelmed that preciousmama (CUTE name, by the by) elected me to have this award. I can't stop grinning like an idiot. Thank you. Thank you very much. What a sweet way to brighten my (already wonderful but now even nicer) day.

Okay ... now for the rest of the requirements ... Seven (hopefully new) things about me.
  1. I don't eat green olives. Mostly because I THINK that I ate one YEARS AGO (we're talking DECADES) and I remember not liking it. I also tried a purplish-colored one at the Camas Room (the only gourmet restaurant that I've been to). It wasn't very good.
  2. I don't remember learning to read very much. But I remember shocking my poor mom by picking up a romance novel off of the piano bench and starting to read it out loud to her. (Thinking back on it, she was probably just reacting mostly to the reading material. It was a bit different from "Bad Bear," I'll admit.
  3. I think that yeast (when it's active) smells AMAZING. Which is why it's GREAT when I bake my own bread or cinnamon rolls. Because it just smells SO GOOD.
  4. I like to bake cakes and things from scratch when I have enough time. It doesn't take that much more time, really ... and you get to totally customize the flavor. Though, sometimes, raw Betty Crocker (or Duncan Heinz) cake batter just tastes SO GOOD.
  5. I don't think that I do all that well at making frosting, though. Maybe I'm just too used to all the chemicals in there. *shrug*
  6. *returns from changing loads in the washer and dryer* Sometimes I like doing laundry. When there's a stain, it's like alchemy -- a little bit of Zout, some OxiClean, some color-safe bleach, scrub it all in with an old toothbrush, run through a load ... and VOILA! No stains! (Okay, it's like chemistry, really ... but without the possibility of ending up with any gold. And sometimes, really, I'd take the stained clothes and some gold nuggets.)
  7. sometimes I fart. And I really, really wish that I didn't. Because farts are kinda gross. ... Even though it's kinda hilarious when my kids do it.
And now to pass the award forward... I hereby elect these bloggers to receive the Kreativ Blogger award!
  1. My Bri - My little sister from another mister (No, not biologically, though her family is AWESOME, too). She scrapbooks, does photography, paints nails, and does hair like nobody's business. (Well, except for that fact that, really it IS her business ... the doing hair-stuff). And she's on the radio ... Yup, she's amazing.
  2. My Pie (LaDonna) - No, really. Pie is her real-life nickname. My funny, funny Theater-major friend from college ... and my words, y'all, you should have SEEN her personification of a cockroach costume (think teenage trailer park pregnancy posterchild. It was GENIUS!). ... If you go to her blog, go look at her family's Halloween costumes. Oh, my. Too funny!!
  3. Since there's no rule AGAINST double-dipping, I have to nominate my Katie. Seriously, she's awe-inspiring. She makes quilts, cooks feats, AND dresses with such style, I'm almost ashamed to show my face out of the bathroom. She's a freaking powerhouse. AND with double the amount of children that I have!! (However, she has the right to only post about her first nomination. Because, face it, she's got plenty on her plate. ^_^)
  4. My ARTIST friend (her works are in GALLERIES!), the ever-wonderous Cristall. Not only does she paint gorgeous pictures, but she's a good cook too! (Another reason I miss being her neighbor *sad face*) She also has great taste in music and is an excellent walking buddy. Just so you know. ^_^ You should seriously go to her blog and see what she's been painting recently. (I <3>
  5. My Cynthia. Just go look at her Jack-o-lanterns! She's just so fun! And if you haven't experienced the joy of passing notes with her, you're really missing out! And she makes some mean Belgian fries, too. ^_^ And she can give GREAT book recommendations, to boot! (Speaking of boots, she's got EXCELLENT taste in shoes, too!)
  6. Dianne, of course. She's killer with her Bosch mixer (try her cookies!! Yummmmm!) AND she makes cards and scrapbooks that are gorgeous! AND she takes great photos, too! (She took some GORGEOUS ones of our family ... so pretty! If you have a hankering for some pretty pictures and you live locally, I think that I could get you her number. ^_^)
  7. Sandra. She's another of my neighbor-friends from when we were living in our apartment. Sanda's out there achieving her dream of being a fashion designer. And, hey, you could go check out her blog and (if you want) buy something she's designed. She's a lovely, lovely person and I miss her and her cheery nature. But she's married and working, so that's much better, right? ^_^
Okay, now to post this bad boy and notify my peeps!

Gratitude Challenge - Day 9

Assignment: Enjoy the people around you. Take a moment to appreciate their unique abilities and personalities.

On a normal day, this would be limited to my immediate family. But, thanks to being VT, I have a larger list today.

  • Dianne is one of the first people who befriended me when the wards boundaries were rearranged. I always feel so blessed that she took me under her wing. She's wicked-creative and marvelously funny. I always feel better when I talk to her. She's even given me BOOKS!! I mean, if I hadn't absolutely adored her before, that would have cemented the deal. But since I already idolized her, it's just icing on the cake. ^_^ Dianne, today, invited us all over to make cards. And, gosh, she's collected FUN toys for scrapbooking. And she's supernice about sharing, too.
  • Becky is my other Visiting Teacher. I got to know her when she inherited my old YW Ward Camp Director calling ... and I was able to help mentor her through it. Again, I collect wonderfully talented people as my friends. Becky always makes me laugh -- it's just her personality. We really can't sit by each other at church (and, with our callings, we don't see each other in Sunday School or Relief Society), which is probably for everyone's benefit, since we'd probably whisper and snicker to each other the whole time. She's a writer, which impresses me.
  • Diane is another lady from church. She's involved in Scouting and VERY organized and creative, dramatically-wise. I'm actually a little intimidated by her ... though she's so nice and personable that it's hard to be wary of her at all. ^_^
  • I know it's bad, but I'm not totally sure of the names of the other two sisters who were at Dianne's today. One has a great singing voice and can play the ukelele!! The other had such an awesome costume at the ward Halloween party -- she was an ear of corn! She even had little yellow bags sewn to her shirt to be the corn kernels! Wildly impressive, no?? But they're both very nice gals.
  • Bucket, my little princess -- She's becoming quite the artist. She drew pictures yesterday, and you could recognize that she was drawing a flower. She's working had at writing her name and leaning to spell words. She's really mastered some sight words. She's driven to succeed. When she's not driving me crazy by showing her mastery of my personality flaws (which are abundant, unfortunately ^_^), she's such a loving, happy, sunbeam of a child.
  • Bruise, my boy-boy, has mastered cheerfulness and charisma. He loves to laugh and to be just a wee bit dramatic. He's all about imaginative play. And I've been amazed a time or two (or more) at his view on life. He loves to help cook, when I give him the chance. He leaps at chances for independence ... on his own terms. He's a snuggler and very sweet.
  • My dad (since he called) ... I've had an interesting relationship with my dad, I'll admit. I think my dad is more lonely than he likes to let on ... which leads him to be a social creature whenever the opportunity occurs. He enjoys listening to television shows and learning (if he's heard something that he didn't know about, he'll often ask me to tell him about it ... which is why I think he appreciates my 'net skillz almost as much as I do. :P). He enjoys being a grandfather ... and, I think, he wishes that he had more opportunity to be in that role.
  • My mom (who also called) is just 31 flavors of amazing. She's a nurturer, which fits very well with the career path she just retired from. She loves teaching and loves her family. She would have made an excellent First Lady, if she ever wanted to be in the spotlight (which she avoids as much as she can). She's a powerhouse.
  • Michael - He's just ... I know you might be sick of hearing it, but it's true ... perfect for me. He is patient with me when I'm all hormonal and my head is full of angry bees. He gets my sense of humor. He works hard to provide for us. He's protective of me ... and my friends (which is absolutely darling to me). He loves our children (and have I mentioned that he's got some DANG good DNA? 'Cause it's totally true). He respects the priesthood that he holds and is wonderfully organized and ... just amazing. He's a million to the nth (where n is greater-than-or-equal-to infinity) wonderful things wrapped up into my husband. Seriously, I lucked out when I got him. Majorly lucked out.
Yup, I have awesome people for friends. So, really, if you're reading this, by default, YOU are completely awesome, too. Even if I didn't mention you by name.
It doesn't change the fact that you're just too cool for school and full of jiggy-ness-essence.
Don't deny it.

Because I will refuse to believe you if you try.
And this IS my blog, so it's my perogative to declare that you're awesome.
As I have written it, so let it be. ^_^

Sunday, November 08, 2009

better now .. mostly

I am feeling more ... normal-ish now.

I'm grateful for church and for my friends there. They're all completely made of awesome.

Now to down some more Tylenol (I took a couple of the kids' generic tylenol while I was at church. It's what I had) and to cook lunch. Looks like a Mac-n-Cheese type of day.
(Fwiw, the GENERIC generic mac-n-cheese at Winco is just as tasty as the name brand. And it saves me, like, a WHOLE DOLLAR per box. ^_^ Go me!)

In which I am not very grateful ...

NaNoWriMo is kicking my trash. It could have something to do with the fact that I didn't START writing yesterday until nearly 10 PM. And I was TIRED.

And CRANKY.

And hating money. ... Really, the fact that I don't have lots of monies. Monies pouring out of my ears. A money tree in the back yard with armfuls of cold, hard cash ripe for my picking.

If I had money, I could do lots and lots of things. I could go to the gym. I could buy clothes that make me look good (and not like a slightly-fat version of myself squeezing into clothes that I've had for years). I could buy shoes. I just want two pairs of shoes right now. A new pair of sneakers and a pair of cute black flats that I can wear with just about anything.

I could take my family to Disneyland. I could get caught up with bills and food storage. I could buy a family in Ethiopia a COW or a GOAT so they have milk for themselves and milk to sell and fertilizer for their garden (or, heck, if they're feeling especially silly, they could have a cow-pat fight!). I could do about ten kiva.org loans and help ten people to start their own businesses. And once they've done that, they'd pay pack their loans and I could help MORE people.

I could have a savings account. I could be able to help out a friend or a family member. We could go traveling. We could buy land and a new manufactured home so that we can start work on our dream home sooner, rather than later ... if ever.

I think that I'm just approaching that time, iykwim...aityd. For some reason, it just hits me harder ... that we just aren't rich. We might never be well-off. And it just ... I don't know. I just don't like it. I WANT to be able to have the option to spoil Bruise and Bucket. I'd like to be able to not fret about what all we can AFFORD to give family for Christmas. I'd like to KNOW that our credit cards are paid off, that we don't owe anything on the car or student loans or anything like that. I'd like our debt to be just ONE thing -- the house.

Oh, hell. I have to finish getting ready and get the kids in the van and go to church.
I love church, don't get me wrong. But right now, I'd like nothing more than to do what I did a good deal of yesterday -- lie in bed (or a bath) and escape life for a little by reading, reading, reading. This way I'm not dwelling on how long it'll be until payday. How the economy sucks (because if those damn banks would have started lending money immediately, my husband's company would be working plenty and he'd be getting that yearly bonus that we use to pay off the credit cards and splurge on Christmas things and get us through the first bit of the year until our tax refund comes in ... )

I know that things could be a lot worse off. Michael could be unemployed. The house could be repossessed. I, or Michael or the kids, could be sick -- really sick.

I know that I have lots to be grateful for.

Just, right this instant, it's difficult to remember all of that.

Just bear with me. Pet my hair and tel me that it'll be okay. That Mother Nature is a little witch and that I'm not a terrible, terrible person for being a bit materialistic.

But, gosh, I really wish that I had some funds to get Michael a cool present. ... I suppose he'll just have to settle for carnal favors or something. Which, knowing him, he'll be fine with. But I LIKE to give gifts. I LIKE to search through stores and find something that is PERFECT and has MEANING for the person I'm giving the gift to. And I HATE when I don't get that option. *sigh*

Now to get the kids ready and loaded so we don't miss church. *sigh*

Gratitude Challenge - Day 8

Assignment: Send thank-you notes to five people who deserve a little recognition

I have no extra stamps right now. So I'll send emails. That still counts, right?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Gratitude Challenge - Day 7

Assignment: Take a picture of one thing, person, place, or specific moment that makes you feel grateful. Share it with your social network.



I'm grateful to have a family where being silly is encouraged, where creativity is appreciated.

I'm grateful that Michael and I have grandparents that are still living. And that these remaining grandparents put the "great" in great-grandparents.

I am glad that my children are blessed to have relationships with their grandparents and great-grandparents, to know that they are loved by so many people.

(I only knew one set of my great-grandparents. And, as I mentioned before, my great-grandma Milton died when I was pretty little. Great-grandpa Milton died when I was in sixth grade, so I have a few more memories of him. ... I'm glad that my children have the opportunity to meet and hang out with their greats.)
(I also have refused to think about moving too far away from our parents because I want Bruise and Bucket to be able to have the close relationships, like I relished having, with my grandparents. I'm so glad that they love to see their Grandma and Grandpa, Mutti and Poppi, and Grandpa Dan and Grandma L ... and that my folks will call up and ask when is the next time we're planning on coming down for a visit.)

I'm grateful that my Nana is still around to see her great-grandchildren. I'm glad that Bruise gets to spend time with one of his namesakes (Michael's grandfather). I'm glad that, with the exception of three (my Pop-pop and Grandma Darlene and Michael's Grandpa I), the kids have been able to meet the majority of their biological great-grandparents. I'm so glad that they've been blessed with this gift.

(By the by, I need to be better at taking Bruise and Bucket to see their in-state great-grandparents more often.)

Friday, November 06, 2009

Gratitude Challenge - Day 6

Assignment: Take a few minutes to call someone you haven't talked to in a while. Tell them how much you appreciate them.

Didn't get it done. I'll try again another day.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Gratitude Challenge - Day 5

Assignment: Take five minutes to write about how grateful you are for all the wonderful things that you currently have in your life. Don't long for what you don't possess -- instead, take stock of al the blessings you already enjoy.

Right now, with all the hype about the swine flu/H1N1 going around, I'm VERY grateful that my family is healthy. You can't just throw some cash at a virus and have it go away immediately ... So, yes, being healthy is a BIG thing.

I'm grateful that, in case anyone does get sick, that my family has health insurance. Yes, paying for the kids and me to be covered (since Michael's covered as part of his benefits), is expensive. It's as expensive as our car payment. But it's nice to know that, should anything happen, we don't have to worry about bankrupting ourselves to pay for a visit at the clinic.

I'm grateful for my hands -- that I have all ten fingers, that I can type (and that, thanks to the internet/blogging/emailing/chatting, I can actually type rather quickly.), that I can brush the hair out of my daughter's face (or, you know, actually do her hair -- thanks to videos on YouTube and blogs that other, cooler moms write), that I can tickle my son, shelve books at the best volunteering gig ever, mix ingredients to cook and bake for my family, to be able to clean my own house (although I should, in all reality, do it more often/more thoroughly) ...

I'm grateful for my body. It may not be perfect, but it works. I can carry my kids to bed, heft the folding tables at church, carry bags of library books, help pack and move my friends in and out. I never think of myself as all that strong. I used to be in better shape. However, as my friend Bonnie-Jean put it, "She's stronger than she looks." I see girls my height or taller that seem flabberghasted at what I can lift or carry. ... Truly, I think I sum it up well in that I'm not as strong as I am stubborn.

I'm grateful for my mom. I'm so glad that she comes up every week to watch the kids so I can go volunteer at my library. I'm humbled that she works so hard to support our family by helping teach Bruise and Bucket so that they'll be prepared for school.

I'm grateful for knowledge and learning. I'm glad that we have the internet and working computers in our home so that more knowledge is only a few clicks or keystrokes away. Learning helps me to feel like I'm still interesting, still growing. And, when I'm able to use that knowledge, I feel useful.

I'm grateful for my family. Before I met Michael, I almost wondered if I'd EVER find someone who would really love me ... and who'd love me for forever and be able to take me to the temple and would want to have kids and grow old together. And, somehow, miraculously, I got my Michael -- he makes me laugh, is a great father, husband and friend. He even puts up with the fact that I really have little-to-no interest in sports, poor guy. And he helps make some beautiful children.
I'm grateful for my Bruise-boy. Having him is a small balm for my soul. I'm glad that he's named after wonderful men in our family ... and that he's living up to those namesakes. I'm so glad that he loves me and shows it so openly and unbidden. I love that he finds life fun and humorous. He's such a sunny little boy.
I'm grateful for my PrincessBunnyBucket-girl. She gives me more than a passing glimpse of what I was like (personality-wise) as a child. I am glad that she is driven and is self-assured. I hope and pray that she doesn't lose her self-confidence (I seem to have misplaced most of mine somewhere in those awkward teenage years). I love how creative and energetic she is.

I'm grateful that my children are taking a nap. This nap enabled me to finish today's writing goal. I love that Bruise fell asleep against me as I read to them before putting them down for a nap. I'm glad that Bucket didn't fight this nap.

I'm grateful that we have two working vehicles.
I'm grateful that we pay our tithing and have been blessed by it (see the statement immediately above).

... This has been more than five minutes. And I feel like I haven't really even gotten started. I'm grateful for that. It lets me know that I have lots of things that I'm grateful for. That's a good feeling.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Gratitude Challenge - Day 4

Assignment: Write a short message of thanks for some of the "negative" things in your life

I can say that having sore muscles and physical discomforts -- It means that I'm alive.

I appreciate being miserable at times, so that I can be aware of how good joyfulness feels.

Being hungry makes being full feel that much more satisfying.

Being less-than-affluent has helped me to realize that money can't buy everything ... and that if a problem can be fixed with just money, it really isn't all that big of a problem in the first place.

(Am I even doing this correctly? And, if I'm not, does it really matter as long as I'm TRYING?)

I can say that having days of writing CRAP in NaNoWriMo definitely helps me to appreciate the days when the writing comes more easily ... the moments when I write dialog that flows and moves the plot along.

Coming from a family in which divorce is common makes me appreciate my marriage more than I might if my parents were still married (and making each other miserable, perhaps).

Having had an awkward period in my social life makes me appreciate my true friends ... and I can never appreciate them enough.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Gratitude Challenge - Day 3

Assignment: Write about something you feel grateful for in your life today.

Right now I'm VERY thankful that after my day yesterday (of writing big piles of crappity-crap-crap piles of poo in my NaNoWriMo project), I not only completed my writing goal for today ... but I feel that I did a MUCH better job. Phew! The third day's a charm! ... and leaves me 1/10 of the way to my goal.

I also am thankful that Bucket comes over to me and throws her arms wide and tells me, "Mom, I love you thi-i-i-i-i-i-i-is much!!" and that Bruise will come and climb into my lap and curl up and cuddle with me. ... I try and be especially thankful for these things because I know that the day will come when Bruise is too big to fit in my lap, let alone wants to cuddle with his MOTHER, ew! Or Bucket will be thinking that I'm trying to ruin her LIFE and how annoying and out-of-touch I am. And I'll only have the memories of the halcyon days when my children WANTED to be with me. *sigh*

Monday, November 02, 2009

Gratitude Challenge - Day 2

Today, my assignment is to create an alphabet of things that I am thankful for.

A - Being alive is always a good start to the day.
B - Baby animals because they're SO CUTE and snuggly.
C - Church makes me happy.
D - Laughing until I'm dizzy.
E - Having enough money to be able to go do something fun.
F - My family is AWESOME.
G - Good books. And lots of them.
H - Hot baths and hot chocolate or herbal tea with lots of honey.
I - Ice cream and the Internet.
J - Making strawberry-banana Jell-O. The smell takes me right back to when I was a little girl.
K - Kisses from Michael or my kiddos.
L - My friends who make me laugh.
M - My mom, because she's just really awesome.
N - New shoes, because they always make you run faster or stand taller.
O - Old jewelry, because those pieces always have history and sentimental value.
P - Having some privacy. I wouldn't make it as a celebrity.
Q - Good quality items that don't break.
R - Restful, quiet weekends with my family.
S - My silky hair. I like it most of the time. ^_^
T - Having a temple so close to us. I love the temple.
U - Used books -- because I can buy so many more! :P
V - My very-talented friends.
W - Waking up on a day that Michael doesn't have work or meetings.
X - X-cellent health -- "If you don't have your health, then you haven't got anything."
Y - Days when I don't lose it and yell at my kids. I hate it when I do. So I'm REALLY glad for the days when I DON'T.
Z - Going to the zoo with the kids. That's always fun.

And, yes, I know that some are repeats. But, you know what? I'm REALLY grateful for my awesome friends and family. So there.

And some are kinda stupid. I'm not feeling all that clever today. So what? ^_^

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Crazy Dream Chronicles, Part ... Whatever-teen!

The other night my dream was just ... odd.

I was at another church. It was kind of like the old church I attended as a little girl (before we were LDS) ... but mixed with my Jr. High cafeteria. But there was this huge revival and there were signs that wouldn't have existed in real life ... or at our old church (Small town and people there knew me and my grandfolks, so they'd never make those signs in the first place). There was one that had some simplistic sillouette of my face and said "Allanna's prayers are SAID but not HEARD" and another one about how Mormons aren't good people or something.

And, well, I got kinda ticked off about that. So I went up to the podium and started bearing my testimony and telling them that, NO, Jesus loves EVERYONE. And if He didn't, then the tenants of Christianity make NO SENSE and explaining about WHY Jesus was crucified and ressurected.
And, obviously, I offended enough people that about 80% of that really crowded room walked out.

And then I was walking with one of the boys from the crowd. And he liked what I had said. And I was, like, 16 again. And we were walking to a fair where I was supposed to be working because nobody liked me, but then I told them that I was blowing them off because I had a DATE ... and they were all SHOCKED because, dude, who'd EVER go on a date with ME!
BUT I SHOWED THEM!

And this guy and I were walking and talking ... and he's all, "I'm going to live a long time because I eat lots of salads everyday."
And I started bawling, "I eat hamburgers all the time! I'm gonna die!!!!"

Yeah, if there's some deep meaning in this, I really don't know what it is. Besides the fact that hamburgers aren't all that healthy for you. And that I should eat more salad. And that I obviously have some hidden cache of courage to expound doctrine to people who offend me.
And that, maybe, I wish I were 16 again.
And that, dude, I SO TOTALLY CAN get myself a man.
Just sayin'.
(Since I am married and all ... It shouldn't be a huge surprise to you or anything.)

What's keeing me busy ...

For the first time, I'm going to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month -- 50,000 words in 30 days). I've started ... and I'm nearly 2,000 words into it. ... And today was easy since it was just the retelling of a ghost story that the rest of my story is based on.

Still, wish me luck. LOTS of it.

The other thing that I'm going to be doing is a Gratitude Challenge. 21 days of learning to look for the good in life. ... And here goes:

Day 1
Why am I participating in this Gratitude Challenge? ... Where do I start? I know that I take a lot of my life for granted. I really am blessed with a lot ... but I don't always feel as happy with my life as I know that I should.
What do I want to get out of this? I want to be more mindful of the small blessings that I have, instead of being preoccupied with the fact that I could use more money. I need to be, per se, more like Linus van Pelt and less like Lucy in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.

(If you want to participate, go right ahead. You don't have to start on any certain date, which is really nice ... especially if you're like me and always space out on that. Which is why, most years, I'm bummed that I've missed "Talk Like a Pirate Day.")

Other news, a lot of my friends are mentioning about how today is Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead. And, since my friends are cool and THINK about stuff, they're expressing gratitude for their ancestors.
  • I want to express gratitude for my Grandma Darlene. She helped influence my love of books. And my love of cats. My mom tells me that I'm still a lot like her. One of my favorite memories of her love for me is when Whiskas (one of our cats) was giving birth. I didn't know who else to call, so I called her and she talked me through the process of getting Whiskas comfortable before my Nana came to pick me up to go to a birdhouse-building workshop. ... I also have a ring that Grandma Darlene bought for me to replace a cheapy-ring that I lost in her car. She didn't have to do that. But she did anyways.
    Often, I feel bad that I don't mourn her more. Her death has been the one that I've accepted the most easily, even though it was the most unexpected. Somehow I've always felt very calm about it. I know that she loves me ... and I am looking forward to catching up with her when my time comes.
  • I'm also thankful for Pop-pop (my dad's dad). He's one of my all-time favorite male relatives. He was very patient with me ... even though he'd refer to me as an "ornery little critter." (Which, in all honesty, is putting it mildly.) He was always calm and constant ... and his death was very hard for me to handle (and still is). The last time I saw him was in the hospital, before he was sent home for respite care. I pretty much just held his hand and sobbed as he slept from the chemo and painkillers.
    (Honestly, if anyone is looking for a reason not to smoke, I can tell you about small-cell lung cancer and how it has affected MY life by taking away my Pop-pop. Yes, I do consider it in that way. If he hadn't gotten addicted to cigarettes, he most likely wouldn't have ever contracted cancer. And I'd still have my Pop-pop. He'd have been able to see his first great-grandson -- who shares his first name-- and twin great-granddaughter. He'd be able to hold his second great-grandson [My cousin's son] ... but because of those damn cigarettes, he isn't here. And knowing this kills me a little every time I think of it.)
    I remember how, when Sarah (my cousin) and I would joke around when we were supposed to be finishing our meals, he'd lean in and tell us in this funny, strained voice, "EAT!" ... Or how he'd give all us grandkids turns at steering the riding lawn mower as he'd cut the grass in Mrs. Weatherbee's (their neighbor) field. I miss talking to him. Or the venison jerky he'd make. Or getting a ride from him after my friends and I floated down Canyon Creek that one time. Or when he and Nana would take me out for a sandwich or something as they drank their coffee and got the local gossip at Lynn's restaurant or at the deli at the grocery store. ...
There are millions of little things that I miss so much about my grandparents.
  • My Grammy (step-grandmother) was college-educated and would discuss literature with me. She also usually had really cool taste in presents (sometimes the presents that she and Grampy would send were more interesting than others).
  • My great-grandfather (Nana's dad) was a wonderful wood-worker. I now have one of the clocks that he made. I need to get a key to wind it. It's beautiful. There's also a tray that he made that is at my mom's. And a couple of boxes with inlaid lids. Sarah and I would dance to the tune in a music box he made (he made the box and affixed the music-player in it).
  • I have some very vague memories of my great-grandma (Nana's mom). She died when I was ... three? My most vivid memory was at a family dinner at her home. Somehow, I didn't have a napkin and got caught wiping my face on the tablecloth. Great-Grandma was the one who noticed. After finding out that I didn't have a napkin, she passed one down. She didn't make me feel silly or stupid or anything. I wish that I had gotten to know her better.
  • My great-aunt Jo. She was funny. Unfortunately, when she got cancer, she didn't let anyone know. She crocheted beautifully. Often while watching baseball. She once, accidentally, locked me in the cellar (where I was taking a shower). It was a good thing that I had my clothes with me, since I had to go out the back door (instead of through the pantry into the kitchen) and around to the front of the house to get back in. Good times. She collected paper fans.
Those are most of the people that I've known who have left me behind.
And Gingi-cat.
Lately, Bucket's taken to telling me, "I'm SAD. I'm SAD because Gingi-cat isn't in our house."
You and me both, sweetie-girl. Even though Ginger hasn't been in our house (or our plane of existence) for three months now. I still don't take it on the chin like I feel that I should.
I don't know if it helps that she appears in my dreams off and on.
Of course, Bruise sums it up well when he solemnly pronounces, "My cat is DEAD."

It almost makes me laugh because he's so ... adamant in his delivery of this fact. Funny boy.

But, yeah. That's really about it.

Halloween Report

I didn't get any pictures of myself as a sparkly vampire for the ward Halloween party. Sorry! Perhaps someone else managed that (and they might speak up). It wasn't anything really amazing.
Also - when I first put in my fangs, I LISP A LOT. I'm not exactly threatening when I sound like "Allanna with a speech impediment." Just sayin'.

Bucket was in A MOOD at the Halloween party. And then Bruise did NOT want to leave. *sigh* It was great to see everyone there and to see everyone's costumes.

We skipped most of the Halloween activities that we COULD have done. Friday was spent cleaning the house and relaxing. Bruise and Bucket got to go with the grandparents (Mom and Dad C) to sleep over at their cousins' house. Bruise was up until midnight ... and he was the first of the "big kids" to fall asleep. Bucket was the last, staying up until around 1 in the morning.

Michael and I thought about going out to see a movie (and, if we did, I was leaning toward Cirque du Freak. I love me some comedy ... and since Zombieland's rated R [Stupid losers, making movies that I WANT to watch SO BAD but can't/won't. Grr. And I'm looking at YOU, Repo: The Genetic Musical. Hello?? Giles? Singing? Sarah Brightman? Singing? *sigh* If ANYONE EVER gets an edited copy, CALL ME!!!!!!!]) it's the best option out there for me. But it'd have been almost 10 before the movie started, so we rented "Drag Me to Hell" (which was kinda lame. Until you realize that THAT's the point, so it's CAMPY instead) and "Spirit" (which we wanted to see because 1- it looked good and 2-It's got the visual style of "Sin City," which we didn't see since it was rated R. *SIGH*) ... and Spirit was GOOOOOOD. I NEEEEEEED it.
The visual style is GREAT. I love Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johanson as the villans (and their henchmen clones??? Hee!!!) ... and the fact that a character is named Sans Serif totally makes my day ... heck MOST of the names were great!!

Bruise and Bucket got back in the morning in time to go trick-or-treating downtown (first time we've done that! It was pretty cool!) and then to visit Great-Grandpa and Great-Grandma ... then home to shower the red hair spray out of Bucket's hair (she was touching her hair and then her face --- so her face was streaked with red ... or the fact that ANYTHING coming in contact with her head got all red) and then putting the kids down for a nap.

After the nap, we got Bucket dressed for trick-or-treating at the mall (Bruise opted to stay home with Grandma and Grandpa), which she loved. She got REALLY good at saying "Thank you" to all the people who gave out candy.

Then we went home where I costumed up Bruise and took him and Bucket (and Mom C) over to our neighbor's, since she is TOTALLY SWEET and loves it when we bring the kids over for Trick-or-treating ... or just chatting across the street as we see each other. ^_^

Then we had family over for a game night. The kids didn't get to bed until about 10 that night. But they did take a good nap today. *phew!*

I need to re-melt the plastic on my "scary teeth" as the kids have deemed my fangs... so that they fit better. But, hey, they seem to work pretty well. As long as I don't drool too much as I wear them. *sigh*

Counting ...

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