Saturday, August 30, 2008

Give Me Strength While Visiting Family

In a few hours we'll be heading to my in-law's cabin for the weekend. I'm nervous but determined to stay away from too many carbs and refined foods.

Here is my game plan:

Pray. (Did that this morning. Will do it again when temptation surfaces.)

Prepare. I'm taking cooked chicken breasts cut into chunks, hard-boiled eggs, garden-grown cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and watermelon. Salad is on the menu. I can take some string-cheese and apples too.

Stay busy. I can't mindlessly munch if I'm on a walk, or taking notes on the Low-Carb book for Dummies. I can play horseshoes and ping-pong with the kids or whoever else will play.

Eat when I'm hungry. Nothing is worse than getting too hungry and then snarfing down on whatever is available -- usually chips and treats. I'll eat sensibly whenever the urge strikes and avoid gluttonous eating.

Remember why I'm doing this. My health matters. Not just for the moment, but for the future too. I want to serve the Lord now, but also when I'm older. There's no time like the present to begin on the path to better health. (Weighing less will be great for my knees. I can't wait to go on a mission with my hubby. That's a big motivation for me to get healthy and stay healthy.)

Ask for help. I'm going to let others know that eating lots of carbs is like ingesting poison for my body. (My doctor's words.) No one would want me to take poison, right?

Does John McCain Read This Blog?

I swear that John McCain got his idea to choose Sarah Palin as his running mate from this blog. Do you remember when I had the poll on the possible names for a website for moms? One was Mom4President. If John McCain gets elected (which I hope he does), and then dies in office (which I hope he doesn't), then Sarah Palin would be President of the United States.

When I first heard who McCain selected to run with him as Vice President, I was disappointed it wasn't Mitt Romney. But after reading about Gov. Palin, I couldn’t stop smiling. And I’ve only become more enthusiastic and supportive of McCain’s decision since then.

The only means Obama has to question the selection of Gov. Palin is to question her readiness to fill the presidential shoes should McCain die in office. Okay. If McCain does die in office, he’ll have already appointed the best minds available as advisors and aides. Palin would then draw on their considerable experience, but more importantly, make decisions based on what is best for Americans, not what is best for the government.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to see a mother of five children on the ticket for Vice President! She’s not a career politician. She didn’t major in political science or law. Her husband is a regular guy who works drilling oil and drives snowmobiles. (Finding out that Eric was a snowmobiler was a major point in his favor when we were in the same student ward.) This is definitely not politics as usual. Talk about CHANGE!

I’m hopeful that the McCain/Palin ticket means our other elected officials will be on notice. Government doesn’t serve government. Government should serve the people. I believe that is what Sarah Palin’s selection is all about.

What’s not to love about a politician who got their start in the PTA?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Visit my new blog . . .

I don't have enough to do. So I decided to write another blog in addition to this one. See what you think.

At my visit to Dr. Danee Young yesterday she said I need to eat differently. Apparently Weight Watchers isn't cutting it for me. I need to eat a low-carb type diet. So I've started a low-carb blog. Its official web address is:

I'm writing it in the hopes of teaching myself how to live a new lifestyle. Wish me luck. And pray for me. I'll need it.

Learning to live low carb

Momma called the doctor,
And the doctor said
No more eatin' starches and bread.

Actually, I did go to the the doctor yesterday, and although her word choice was a bit different, the message was the same. My days of eating limitless carbohydrates are over.

She spoke in a clipped, professional way, but what she basically said was that my particular pairing of genetics makes it easy for me to store food as fat -- especially when I eat carbs. She diagnosed my pervasive water retention problem not as a by-product of faulty hormones, but as a result of unbalanced carbohydrate intake. In other words, I got dumped on in the gene pool, and if I want to experience better health, I will need to eat drastically differently than I've been eating. Ugh!

I spent over a two years attending Weight Watchers every week. In the first seven months I lost over 30 pounds. But shortly after that I hit a plateau and slowly began gaining back weight. After more than a year stuck at the same weight, I stopped going to meetings in March of this year. In light of what I learned at the doctor's office yesterday, it seems that when I track my eating using the Flex plan from W.W. I still eat too many carbs. Dang it!

I'll admit to feeling a bit daunted after yesterday's appointment. Learning a new way of eating is hard! And if I've learned anything about weightloss, it's that there is no such thing as a diet. You can't restrict your eating for a set amout of time and then go back to the way things used to be and expect to maintain weight loss. If I want my weight loss to last, then the eating changes I make have to become a way of life that I can live for many healthier years to come.

Hard as it is, that's what I intend to do. I'm starting out my reading Low-Carb Dieting for Dummies that I checked out from the library. So far so good. I'll keep you posted on my successes, insights and mis-steps.

Cashew later.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Belly Acre Farming Updates . . .

These are my family's favorite cookies. The recipe makes a huge batch. Yesterday I made some and scooped up a couple dozen cookie balls to freeze for fresh after-school snacks. You can make some for your kids. Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mix together until smooth:
1 c. granulated sugar
2 c. brown sugar, packed
2 c. canola oil (it's heart healthy :))
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs

Add and mix well:
2 c. flour
2 tsp. soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Add and mix well:
2 c. flour
12 oz. (1 package) of chocolate chips (semi-sweet is best)

Add an additional 1 1/2 to 2 c. flour by hand (or in a heavy-duty mixer).

Spray baking sheets with non-stick spray and bake cookies at 350 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes. (Safety Man doesn't like it when we eath the dough. But I like it better than the cookies.)

When we have enough corn in the freezer, the kids can sell the rest. This is Beans and her friend. They each made $15.50 selling corn, peppers and cumumbers.

One day's picking of cucumbers. Note the pencil for perspective. This morning I pulled up two of the four cucumber hills. (Big grin.)

This is a Western Kingbird sitting on the barbed wire fence along our road.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Advice for boys who play the piano in seminary class

I was just finishing up brushing my teeth when my husband told me something about himself that caused me to spew the water I was rinsing my mouth with all over the counter. He had been giving Bug advice on playing the piano in seminary class and shared his glory days of seminary piano playing.

“When they needed someone to play the piano, I’d raise my hand and say, ‘I’ll play. But I’m not really good at that song. I can only play the right hand.’ Then a girl would come sit with me on the piano bench to play the left hand.”

Hubby seemed pleased at being able to pass on a little fatherly advice to our son.

Sharing Time Idea -- Clean Socks and Repentance

White Socks
(Show the kids a new pair of white socks.) Let’s pretend that each of you is wearing a new pair of white socks.

Now, let’s say you ran across the newly mowed lawn in those socks, and then stepped in some oil on the driveway. Next you jumped in a big muddy puddle.

What would your new socks look like?

Would your parents let you wear those dirty socks into the house?

Just like our earthly parents, Heavenly Father doesn’t dirt into His kingdom. But we all make mistakes. When you get mad and yell at your little brother for getting into your room and breaking your favorite toy, your spiritual socks are dirty. If you tell a lie, that’s more dirt on your soul.

There are three ways to have our souls be like a clean pair of socks:
1) Children under the age of accountability (what age is that?)
2) Just barely being baptized.
3) Repenting and partaking of the sacrament if you’ve already been baptized.

Through the atonement, Jesus made it possible for us to repent and be clean – just like a new pair of socks. Because it’s easy to make mistakes, and because we all make them, today we’re going to practice the repentance process.

Repenting is like doing laundry. There are steps we take to get our socks clean, and there are steps we take to become spiritually clean again.

With laundry, we see that we got our socks dirty, we take them off, maybe treat them with stain remover, and then put them in the laundry basket. Next we sort the laundry, and then load it into the washing machine. We add soap and start the wash. After they’re washed we put them in the dryer. If we did everything right, they come out nice and clean.

What if you take off your dirty socks and hide them under the couch? Would they get clean doing that? Will they get clean if you put them back in your sock drawer? What if you put your socks in the laundry basket and they got in the washing machine, but your mom forgot to add the soap. How clean would your socks get?

Steps to repentance--write on the chalkboard
(modified for young children)

These are the steps for repentance:
1. Recognize that you did something wrong
2. Say you are sorry/ask forgiveness from those you wronged
3. Try to make things right
4. Ask forgiveness from Heavenly Father (in prayer – every night or more often)
5. Take the sacrament (every Sunday)


Today is: (have a child from class show the day – start with Thursday)

Draw a child’s name to select a dirty sock. (I used old white socks that no longer are exactly white.)

Read the example pinned to it.

Ask: What did this child do wrong?
What should they do?
What can they do to make things right?
What might they say in their prayer that night?
Today is ______________ is there anything else they can do today?
(Really try not to do that again.)
If it’s SUNDAY, talk about what it means to TAKE THE SACRAMENT.

Place the sock in the basket. On Sunday don’t read a bad example. Dump the dingy socks into the other box and talk about taking the sacrament. Pull out clean socks to represent clean souls. Repeat until all the dirty socks have gone through the repentance process.

End with testimony

Preparation Items

Dingy socks with paper inside giving an example of a child doing something wrong
Basket to accumulate dirty socks
Box marked, “Jesus’ atonement makes me clean when I take the Sacrament” containing new white socks

Examples attached to dirty socks:

Kelly lived in a neighborhood with a lot of other children. They enjoyed playing with one another. One day they were all out in the culdesac playing. They saw Sister Albert out on her porch. Kelly went up to her and said, “I want a cookie!” All the other kids came over and demanded cookies too. Sister Albert gave them all cookies, but her face didn’t have its usual smile. None of the kids said thank you. They just took their cookie and ran off to play.

Kelly came home from school to discover that her younger brother got into her room and smeared her lip gloss all over her desk. She was so angry that when she saw him brother she yelled, “You SKUNK! Don’t you ever come in my room again. You ruined my desk and used all my lip gloss. Sometimes I wish you weren’t my brother!” He cried, but Kelly just stomped away.

Kelly was downstairs in her room playing with her Littlest Petshop animals. Her mom called down, “Kelly, I need you to come empty the dishwasher.” Kelly didn’t want to empty the dishwasher. She hollered back upstairs, “I can’t Mom, I’m doing my homework.”

Kelly went with her mom to the grocery store. She saw a pack of gum that she really wanted, but she didn’t bring her money with her. She really wanted the gum, so she looked around to make sure no one was watching and then put a pack into her pocket. She didn’t tell her mom or pay for it when they checked out.

Kelly was playing football with the boys in her class on the field in back of the school. None of the boys would throw her the ball. The bell rang to come in from recess and she’d never gotten to catch the football. She went up to a boy on her team and said, “You never threw me the ball.” Then she spit in his face.

Kelly’s older sister made a batch of cookies to take to Young Women’s. She told everyone in the family not to eat any of the cookies. But they looked really delicious and Kelly ate two when no one was looking.

Kelly has jobs to do at home before she can play on the computer or play with friends. One of her jobs is to clean her room. Instead of really cleaning it, Kelly shoves everything (dirty clothes, school papers, pencils, used tissues) under her bed. When her mom asks if her room is clean, she said, “Yup.” And went off to play.

Kelly’s friend Trina just got back from a cruise to Jamaica. Kelly is jealous. When Trina tells Kelly some of the fun things that they did on their family cruise, Kelly tells her that their family is going to take a 2 week Disney cruise to the Caribbean in a month. But that’s not the truth.

While eating lunch in the cafeteria at school, Kelly tried an experiment. She put a piece of pear from her lunch tray on her spoon. She wondered how a stiff spoon could bend back and flip something. She tried it with her spoon. Wow! Her spoon really shot that piece of pear clear across the lunch room. It landed on a girl’s tray. She wasn’t happy about that and told the lunch aide that Kelly had thrown a pear at her. When the lunch aide came to talk to Kelly and asked if she’d thrown a piece of pear across the lunchroom, Kelly said no, she hadn’t.

Kelly had a friend Trisha. Trisha told her that their neighbors were gone on vacation and their basement sliding door didn’t lock. Their mom kept candybars in their garage freezer. Trisha was going to go get some of the candybars from their garage freezer and eat them. She asked Kelly to come too. Kelly and Trisha both ate their neighbor’s candybars while they were gone on vacation.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Boy and a Girl in a Tippy Canoe . . .

This morning Eric took me on a date. In a canoe.

We purchased the canoe a couple weeks ago from a neighbor across the street. Just walked over there and carried it home between us. This was its maiden voyage under new ownership.

This is me during a moment of pure bliss. That’s my favorite vehicle with a canoe on top. And I’m wearing Chacos. And no makeup. Guess that makes me a Granola Girl. Where’s a tree to hug?

These are some scenes taken from the canoe.

Swallow nests.

Smiling Hubby.

Next on my wish list is a canoe trailer. That way I can round up friends with canoes, and we can load them up and all travel in the same vehicle to our destination. With a picnic to eat on the water. Want to come along?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What can faith do for mothers?

A deadbolt at the top of the door.

Leaving a planning meeting for the young women’s organization that I’m now a part of, I saw the well-planned means to prevent young children from escaping outside without the knowledge of their parents. But our hostess doesn’t have children yet, a fact I remembered just before opening my mouth to comment on the clever home design. My words might have pricked a heart already tender and still recovering from two failed attempts to adopt a precious newborn.

Precious. A word I’ve been thinking about a lot in light of my friend’s situation. As my own children head back to school, I’m using her clever deadbolt as a touchstone to help me ponder the sweetness of children, my own included.

I am a sap. I freely admit it. Sometimes I’m tough-nosed and stern, grumpy even. Other days I’m goofy, talkative and playful. But ever since my youngest headed off to a full day of school, I get sentimental and mushy at the start of each new school year. The truth is, I miss my kids when they’re gone to school.

Last night as I was saying my bedtime prayer, I thought of my friend’s deadbolt and asked the Lord to comfort and strengthen her, to grant the mother-desires of her heart. I also prayed that He would help me feel gratitude instead of loneliness this year. As I got up off my knees, I felt hope and peace. I could envision myself going about my daily activities in contentment.

This morning I walked my youngest daughter to school and met her new teacher. As I left the elementary school, eager, smiling children surged all around me. The building buzzed with their energy and excitement. Again I thought of my friend and her longing to mother a child.

Faith can move mountains. What can faith do for mothers? In The Book of Mormon, Ether 12:19 states, “And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong … [they] saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith.”

I cannot know the number of friends and family who are exercising faith along with my friend and her husband. I can, however, add my own faith and prayers. And share the tender mercies of a loving Heavenly Father who gave me eyes of faith to see a young mother with a child in her arms reaching up to deadbolt her door to keep a rambunctious son from escaping.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Olympic Thoughts and Questions

Our family has enjoyed gathering around the television in the evenings and watching the Olympic games in Beijing. We have family discussions about the amazing abilities of the athletes and contemplate the practice that has gotten them there.

I've especially watched the mothers of the athletes with keen interest. I don't completely understand the bond between Michael Phelps and his mother. She seems to be everything to him. I find their closeness both admirable and suffocating. I listen to how much she's sacrificed to help Michael fulfill his swimming dreams and ambitions. Could I ever do the same to help my children fulfill their dreams?

What are my childrens' dreams? How do I help them reach for their dreams and also
raise them to be well-rounded and balanced individuals? How do I avoid being the overly pushy parent?

Recently Hubby and I set up college savings plans for our three children. When Hubby was telling our nine-year-old daughter about the new account set up for her she said, "I don't want to go to college."

That's news to me. But what if that's how she feels towards the end of high school? How hard do I push to encourage her to pursue an advanced degree? What if I want more for her than she wants for herself?

Where do parents fit in their children's dreams?

Olympic Family Fun

Four years ago we held our first Family Olympics. This year I planned to hold a similar event. But as all the cousins were getting older, I decided to host a Olympic kick-off party as well.

On Friday, 08.08.08 we invited all the cousins (14 including my own kids) over to play, eat Chinese food (in honor of the host country) and watch the opening ceremonies. Then, all but the youngest (a two-year-old) slept over in our make-shift Olympic Village -- lots of sleeping bags strewn out on the basement family room floor. The next morning I prepared sausage links, orange juice and French toast and served them with an awful imitation French accent.

By 9:30 A.M. we all gathered at the park for the official Family Olympic fun. Each family dressed in the same color shirts, had chosen a mascot and created a family flag. (My own little family were the hornets.) While the men and oldest two boys were completing a golf scramble, the rest of us made and threw paper airplanes, competed in a cushion pushover contest(contestants used scrap cushions to try to push their opponent outside of a small hoola hoop), and tried to see who could hoola hoop for the longest. I lost.

Once the guys showed up we had a combined family game of kickball. Yeeha! Everyone really seemed to have a great time. Afterwards the men took their turns in the cushion pushover contest and then we had lunch -- a six foot hoagie ordered from WalMart's deli. (Thanks, Shal!)

We wrapped up the day's festivities with a medal ceremony. Each kid was crowned with a laurel wreath (made from dogwood branches by Lou and Kenz) and given their own Family Olympic medal (a juice can lid hot-glued to a curling ribbon loop). Go Olympians!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Samick Piano For Sale

We're selling our piano. You can see our ad on by clicking here. If you're in the market for a piano, this is a good one. I love its tone -- bright and clear.

My kids have all learned to play on this piano. (Which inspired a column entitled, "Death by piano lessons.") I'll be a sad to see it go.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What I Saw This Morning

A three minute walk down the lane, and this is what I can enjoy.
Barn swallows on the electrical wire.
A dew-splashed flower from Lou's collection.
Anne raspberries (yellow variety) that are sweeter than the sun. (That handful went straight to my mouth!)
Our leghorn hens are laying golden-yolked eggs.
Belly Acre Farm bug controll on the loose.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Getting Used to Golf

It's official. Bug made the high school golf team! Guess I'll be getting used to his intense focus on golf.

There were 20 freshmen who tried out for the team. Only six made it, so Bug is very excited about his success. The team consists of 20 players -- 5 seniors, 2 juniors, 7 sophomores, and the 6 freshman. The coach is taking the eight players with the lowest scores to an upcoming golf tournament tomorrow. Next week the lowest six will go to a few tournaments.

Bug isn't sure if he'll see play during his freshman year. It all depends on how low he can get his golf score. And believe me, he's motivated. If he maintains the level of practice and concentration that he's had this past year, I predict that Bug could play in college -- maybe even go pro.

Hey, it's a mother's job to dream big.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Odds and Ends -- Mostly Ends

Yes. That is my rear end. We were out picking beans and Beans, my youngest daughter, kept slapping bean leaves on my bum. I knew she was leaving leaves, I just didn't know they'd make a smiley face when she was done.

Being the good sport that I am, I posed for this photo by, well . . . picking beans. (Watch out Weight Watchers, here I come!)

In other news, I've been trying to find a zippier way to say "endure to the end." Ever since I was a teen that phrase has brought on a fit of deep sighs and rolling of the eyes. Somehow it just conjures up drudgery for me. But I'm trying to change that. I thought it would be fun to find an anagram for "endure to the end" -- use the same letters but rearrange them to form another meaningful, less chore-ish phrase.

When this month's edition of Family Fun Magazine came, it had the web address where you can get anagrams. (Remember, it's summer. My brain is on vacation.)

Here are the serious phrase options for endure to the end:

Ended, thou enter.
Needed -- one truth.
Heed Noted Tuner.

Here are the non-serious phrases for endure to the end:

Needed -- hen tutor
Endure the toned (a challenge for us non-toned.)
tended teen hour
tended hen route
tethered nude (definitely NOT what's part of enduring to the end!)

Just for fun, I entered my name. I got, "A-ha! Sincere hints." And, "Heartaches in sin." Yikes!

Hubby's name yielded, "Ninja chore hens." Bug is a "research ninja." Loula Belle's name predicted, "Manana, sad hen." Beans's results predicted a future profession: I heal antennas. Try it for yourself. Don't get addicted!

Camping at Tony Grove

I got up early and took this photo at 6:30 AM. The next morning around the same time I saw 3 moose!
This was taken on our hike to White Pine Lake. Our dog, the one in the hot pink harness, helped pull me up the trail. Also, our camera spent the rest of the time on this log until a kind hiker returned it to us on our way back down. (My bad!)
This is Bug and Cousin Kenz with the dogs on top of Mt. Naomi. I should have skipped the White Pine hike so I could do the Naomi one. My body just can't do two days of hiking in a row. (And I'm still stiff five days later. I must be getting old.)
The canoes were our favorite part of the trip. This was taken just after Hubby and Bug won the Father/Son canoe race. Way to go, guys!