Saturday, October 31, 2009


I volunteered to help out at Isaac's Christmas party at school. It was fun to see all the cuties dressed up. I made these eyeballs for the kids. You can find the recipe here.

I made Isaac a fruit bat costume. I accidentally called him batman and he was quick to correct me. He also asked that I make him a label to avoid further confusion. I am pretty sure this was all inspired by Stellaluna.

Okay. From the front he was cute enough. But Brody-as-a-giraffe was impossibly cute from the back.

Tristan was also a giraffe. But Brody kept calling him a cow.

At our ward's trunk-or-treat. Gigi was so excited to finally able to don her Tinkerbell costume.

Kung Fu Panda (Gigi's latest obsession) and some kind of fire-breathing dragon (for such a sweet and gentle kid, Isaac's interests tend toward the macabre). Brody was asleep during pumpkin carving and I was in the bathtub. We never knew what we'd missed.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Road Trip -- Part 1

We recently completed a road trip to Houston, Texas, to celebrate Dirk's sister's wedding. It was lots of fun, and went amazingly smoothly, considering the number of small people involved. Our first night, we stayed with friends in Phoenix. It was so nice to see the Bennett's! The kids all reconnected right away.

Brody and Claire had fun on the water table.

Isaac and Charlie really enjoyed playing Charlie's video games. Clever Charlie convinced Isaac that the lemmings would only work when Charlie was playing, so Isaac did a lot of watching. He asked me if we could get a lemmings game that would obey him, too.

Gwendolyn and Jack

Brody found the idea of tricycles in the house novel and wonderful.

Thanks, Bennetts!

Millionaire Women Next Door: The Many Journeys of Successful American Businesswomen Millionaire Women Next Door: The Many Journeys of Successful American Businesswomen by Thomas J. Stanley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was very interesting and inspiring. Someone had recommended The Millionaire Next Door to me, but my library didn't have it in, so I got this one. I think his title including the word "millionaire" gives the impression that perhaps he is going to preach about chasing wealth and getting rich, which is not at all the case. He profiles the conservative and hardworking behaviors and lifestyles of people who are actually financially independent and contrasts that with what symbols society usually interprets as denoting wealth. He is heavy on the statistics, which tends to make my eyes glaze over a bit, but it definitely lends validity to the conclusions he draws. I am inspired this week to finish up my budget for the year and make some savings and investing goals, so I would say it was a very successful read.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities (Bantam Classic) A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow. There is something magical about a book that takes about 100 pages to even get interested in (and made me a little cranky in the trying), then suddenly becomes a neglect-your-kids-and-stay-up-too-late-reading kind of book. I actually woke up this morning and was so sad that I was finished.

I don't even know how it happened. One day I'm complaining about it, the next I am irritated with my husband for interrupting my reading to ask where I'm keeping the diapers these days. So confident is Dickens that he will capture you eventually, but completely, he doesn't work too hard at the initial hook. AND, I knew the ending about 80 pages before it happened, could see it all clearly, and I still couldn't tear myself away; would in fact read paragraphs twice because they were so good.

I thought his portrayal of the opposite sides of the French Revolution was spot-on, and brilliant. He illustrated perfectly the fact that, when people are so viscously oppressed, their reaction to it, when it finally boils over, will be just as evil.

I know that people say that Dickens is sentimental, but maybe a novel isn't supposed to be so realistic. It is fiction, after all. Maybe it is just as high art if it is beautiful and extravagant as it is if it is beautiful and minimalist or cynical or whatever serious literary people love. This is good stuff. I give it 4-and-a-half stars. No, five. Yes, definitely five, and I am off to read the Scarlet Pimpernel. Amen.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Conversation I just had with Isaac

Him: Can I play the Wii?
Me: Not today.
Him: What can I do?
Me: I dunno. Use your imagination.
Him: I can't! It's not working today!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

List: The Crazy Way My Mom Talks

My mom was raised in the South, but she moved away when she went off to college and never lived there again. She claims that she never had an accent, but the entire family (who still lives there) speaks with such a thick southern accent that I had trouble understanding them when I was little. I think she just lost the accent years ago. Still, however, she has some kooky pronunciations for things that really crack me up. I am recording them here for posterity.

"redio" for radio

"necked" for naked

"pacifically" for specifically

"awrynte" for alright

"futher" for further or farther

"toe-let" or "commode" for toilet

I am not making fun . . . these little things endear her to me, and she wouldn't be her without them.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My List

I was having a little bit of a breakdown the other day and happened to be on the phone with a friend on whom I unloaded my stress and anxiety about living with my mother forever, being poor (not in spirit, but the bad kind of poor), raising kids who worry about money the same way I always did, being stuck in the waiting place, and on and on. I am grateful that she comforted me through a few things, and bashful that my brave face cracks so easily.

Anyway, she suggested that I pray about what Heavenly Father might have me do as I wait for our situation to become more permanent. What a concept. Pray? For something specific that I need? Instead of freaking out and wishing we had sent me to law school instead of Dirk? Kidding, there, I promise.

So, here it is, and I am adding to it all the time, since my prayers have not been what they should lately and I am trying to humble myself:

My List of Things To Do While I Wait for My Life to Get Going Again
(If reading this makes you relieved that you are not in my situation, please keep that to yourself. I'm fragile just now.)

Learn Spanish (inspired by my time in the Mother's Lounge on Sunday during the Spanish sacrament meeting and understanding more than I would have thought I would)

Figure out how to start my own property management company and make a plan and a timeline to do so.

Make some efforts at missionary contacts.

Work on Family History (My mom gave us all assignments for the next family reunion).

Learn how to edit my own photos so that I don't have to always ask Dirk to do it.

Work on my menus-by-season for the year.

Read a book about the French Revolution.


Draw up some plans for our kitchen remodel for our townhouse in Ellicott City.

Organize my mom's food storage.

Okay, that's it for now. I am also going to go ahead and sign my girl up for dance class because she wants to so much and because the city has really cheap classes and because she needs something of her own outside of the house and because Dirk's security clearance may take another six weeks to process anyway.

He has been offered a job in D.C. that he wants, but is pending his security clearance renewal and meantime he is working on getting an idea of his own off the ground. It's all very exciting and I need and want to suck it up and be patient and all that good stuff (I just replaced another word with "good stuff" -- am really working this evening on my attitude).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Really Gross

I was sleeping in on Saturday and Brody fell and split his chin. Ouch! My mom convinced Dirk he didn't need stitches. And while I am happy to not be spending the day in the ER, I really think he should have gone. We'll see how it heals up.