Monday, April 30, 2012

A Little Bit of Randomness for Your Day

1. This is the swingset and giant sandbox that we had installed in our backyard last summer. I don't think I ever mentioned it on my blog. It's been great to have, even if Sam likes our next-door neighbor's swingset more than ours. I guess he defies the good old saying "If you build it, they will come." And with this being Iowa too! Little stinker. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, see Field of Dreams!) 

 2. I tried to get some good pictures of my boys together when we were outside going on a walk a few weeks ago. (It was the same day that I took the picture above). I didn't get any very good ones, but this one makes me laugh. This is John and Sam in a nutshell! The teaser-bully and the victim.

And I like the picture below because of how their hands are placed, all on their own. I think it's very sweet. I'm so glad that they each have a brother and that John finally got a sibling! We're so thankful for them. If we were to not have any more children, it would be fine because we really do love our little family!

3. These are our dogs. They are brothers who we got from an animal shelter about a year-and-a-half ago after we moved here. They can't replace my beloved Christy, but they are good, fun dogs and I'm glad that we have them.


Boo Boo

4. I disagree with this statement:

I can remember clearly some good nights where I got plenty of sleep. They stood out and they were wonderful! I love nights when I get plenty of sleep and I wish they happened a lot more! Nights of plenty of sleep can make all the difference! (A party-animal I am not--obviously!)

5. This fence makes me think of popsicle sticks for some reason. It was at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts, one of the places we went to last summer. I think it's cool-looking! I love it there.

6. Yesterday my beautiful niece Hayley turned 20 years old. I still remember very clearly the day she was born. We lived in Layton, Utah and I was in 6th grade and I was so excited to have a pretty baby girl to play with and to be an aunt. When she was born, I called all my friends to share the news and I ran through the neighborhood telling people. I had so much fun with Hayley when she was growing up! And I still do. She is awesome!

Me, Hayley, and John in the stocks at Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire last summer. Good times! 
I hope we go back again this summer.
7. This was taken in August 2010, right after we moved to Iowa. I came across these pictures the other day. They make me miss the longer hair I used to have, but they give me hope that it will grow again to what it used to be! They also make me nostalgic for those days, even if they were less than two years ago.


Well, I guess that's enough randomness for today. See you next time!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Things I Don't Do

  • Gyms
  • Skiing 
  • Minivans (They're fine and very practical, but I'm just an SUV kind of gal.)
  • Rides that go around and around in circles fast (They make me sick!)
  • Shopping on Black Friday
  • Do-It-Yourself house renovation projects (I prefer to help the economy and simplify my life by hiring it out. Not to mention the fact that I'm just not good at do-it-yourself house renovation projects.)
  • Twitter
  • Sewing
  • Veal 
  • Saunas
  • Hairdryers, flatirons, or curling irons (they damage my wimpy hair)
  • Highlights and hair dye (see above)
  • Tofu
  • Hats (but I should since I'm a fair-skinned, fair-haired magnet for the sun's rays)
  • Caffeinated soda
  • Homeschooling
  • Jeans with bling
  • Trends (unless I really do like them)
  • Jeggings!

Now that I've alienated probably everyone who reads this with at least one of the above things, I will say that with the exception of veal, and maybe jeggings, all of the above things are fine! They're just not for me. What about you? What are some things that you don't do?

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Black Earth in Our Backyard

Once a year, fires are intentionally set in my neighborhood. It happens in front of our house and behind it, and it's quite the spectacle. But not to worry! They are perfectly legal controlled fires, and there's always a big fire truck there just in case the burn gets out of hand. I couldn't understand why this was done when we moved here, and I still kind of don't. Apparently burning prairie grass and field grass helps to keep it from growing out-of-control. I think it's sad to see nature burn like that. But at the same time, it's amazing to see how quickly nature rebounds. The earth remains black for just a couple of days, but a week later there's already new grass shooting up all over the place. A month later, you'd never know that a fire had taken place. Nature's ability to heal itself is pretty amazing.

But in the meantime, here are some pictures of the ugliness that the fire left in the field behind our backyard soon after it happened last month. How's that for an ugly view?!

There's a walking path behind the field, and as you can see below, the fire really is well-controlled, ending at the field's edge and leaving the path intact. I guess those guys know what they're doing. Thank goodness for that!

This is what it looks like back there now, about a month later. Look at all that green re-growth!

And by summer's end, it should be back to normal and looking a lot more like this.

In the end, the strength and beauty of nature prevail over the power of fire. Pretty neat!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Five Things for Friday

1. I was surprised and saddened to hear about Thomas Kinkade's death at the age of 54 last week. He's been my favorite artist for a long time. I think his pictures are absolutely beautiful and I found the Christian philosophies behind his work to be inspiring. He seemed devoted to his wife and daughters, and I'd always look for the "N" that he hid in his paintings for his wife's name. I had no idea that they had separated in the last few years, that he had been an alcoholic before and had relapsed again (he had been drinking heavily when he died), and that the criticism of his work hurt him deeply. I don't understand that criticism at all, by the way. Who cares if his art was mass-produced? It was beautiful and it spoke to my soul. Dang art critics! I'll take his work over some ugly modern painting any day. (Sorry if you like modern art!) I've had a Thomas Kinkade calendar almost every year for over a decade, we have one of his paintings hanging in our house, I own several books of his pictures, and I'm sad that he's not here anymore to create his beautiful art. 

These are a few of my long-time Kinkade favorites:

We have this one hanging up in our family room. It's called "Stairway to Paradise."

2. Now for some good news: we paid off our Toyota Highlander! Peter got it for me four summers ago as a (very big!) surprise for my birthday. I still love it, even more so now that we fully own it. Now we just have to pay off his Toyota Camry. As you can see, we like Toyotas.

If you want to see the post I wrote about my new Highlander in September 2008 along with pictures I took of it, click here.

3. I've been thinking for the past few months about jeans, specifically skinny jeans. I don't like trends too much, and I thought the skinny jean thing was a trend, but it seems that they're here to stay. I'm a long-time fan of bootcut jeans, but I was starting to feel unstylish when I wore them because it seemed like everyone had moved on to skinny jeans. So recently I went to Old Navy and got a few pairs of skinny jeans. And to my surprise, I really like them. They're tailored, not tight, and they're comfortable and flattering. I think they're cute and so I feel cute when I wear them. I'm not getting rid of my bootcuts though, because I still think they're classic.
I tried on a pair of jeggings too. Horrors! They were one of the worst things I've ever tried on and I took them off almost immediately. They were just awful. I will see them again in my nightmares.

4. Have you heard of Lauren Bush, niece of President George W. Bush and granddaughter of President George Bush? She's a model, and last fall she married one of fashion designer Ralph Lauren's sons. I didn't realize it when I first heard about it, but I saw her name somewhere this week and now I realize it: her married name is Lauren Lauren! For some reason that cracks me up. She goes by Lauren Bush-Lauren, which I think is smart. :-)

5. I'm done with my lipstick testing for Parents magazine, so now I can tell you which ones were my favorites. They were:
  • Clinique Almost Lipstick in Luscious Honey (I'm a long-time fan of Clinique--their products are so high-quality, and this lipstick was no exception.)
  • Buxom Big & Healthy Lip Cream in Mudslide (Despite the name of the shade, it's a very pretty neutral. And it left a really cool long-lasting minty feeling on my lips too.)
  •  Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter in Creamsicle (Super-moisturizing and pretty.)
And the worst one was a Wet 'n Wild lipstick in a shade called "Pinkerbell," which was way too bright and matte and chalky feeling. I looked like a clown when I wore it!
I'm looking forward to seeing what Parents sends next. It's fun testing this stuff out (even if I did get a lip rash from it!). And it's nice that I don't have to buy lipstick again for awhile!

We're headed to Kansas City, Missouri for the weekend to go to a temple open house. Do you have any fun plans? Whatever they are, have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Poetic Post for Spring

"Springtime is the land awakening.  The March winds are the morning yawn." 
                              ~Quoted by Lewis Grizzard in Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You

--and another good springtime quote, this one for April--

"April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go."  
                                                                                  ~Christopher Morley, John Mistletoe

"Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature."   
                                  ~Gerard De Nerval

"It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, but only retire from sight and afterwards return again."
                                                                                       ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, April 16, 2012

Morning Light

I love mornings and how they're the start of a fresh new day. I love how the morning sunshine streams in to where we eat breakfast each day (even if it does sometimes make Sam screech in protest until I lower one of the blinds so that it's not shining right in his face). And I love that I remembered to turn the flash off when I took these pictures of the kids at breakfast recently! That morning glow is just awesome! Can you tell that I'm a morning person? :-)


(For the sake of brevity I was going to include only one of the above three-in-a-row images of Sam, but I liked each of them enough that I decided to just include them all. It's neat the way the sunshine lights up his hair like that!)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Five Things for Friday

1. Rick Santorum's out and Mitt Romney is in! I know it's not official yet, but it's pretty much as close as you can get. This is very good news for a right-leaning, Independent Romney-supporter like me. And for those who say Romney is a flip-flopper who isn't conservative enough...guess what? Moderates get more done because they can work with both sides of the aisle much more effectively (hello to being a productive Republican governor of liberal, Democratic Massachusetts!). Give me a moderate any day! Especially a successful, smart, highly capable (and handsome) one like Romney. And to think that he was in my church stake in high school and I (metaphorically speaking) rubbed shoulders with him and Ann at youth activities! I seriously knew he was destined for great things back then when he ran for the Senate and was running Bain Capital but still took the time to come to things like Seminary graduation and stake youth conferences where he and Ann genuinely seemed to enjoy hanging out with a bunch of teenagers. I'm so proud of him! (Ha ha.)

Ann Romney is a wonderful person. And in light of the recent controversy over her supposedly "not working a day in her life," in solidarity with her and mothers everywhere who make the choice to stay home to care for their children, I'd like to say that all good mothers are working mothers regardless of their workplace, and that I really do think that it's the hardest, most rewarding job in the world.

One last political note:
I'd like to change the prediction I made a few weeks ago when I said that it would be a Romney-Santorum ticket running against Obama. I no longer think that Romney will choose Santorum as his running mate. I think it could be Rep. Paul Ryan or Senator Marco Rubio, or maybe even New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Or someone else entirely. In any case, I'm looking forward to the race for President!

2.  I miss Downton Abbey. I heard that a major character is going to die in Season 3. My guess is that it will be the Dowager Countess. I read somewhere that Maggie Smith wasn't sure she wanted to keep on doing the show, so I bet it will be her. Plus, she's the most logical choice since she's old. I sure would miss her though. Her character has some of the funniest lines, such as:

And I can't wait to see Mary and Mathew finally get married! It really IS going to happen, according to the show's producer.

3. I got an e-mail from Barnes & Noble yesterday saying that J.K. Rowling's new book is now available for pre-order:

The Casual Vacancy
For her first novel expressly for adults, "Harry Potter" creator J.K. Rowling introduces readers to the denizens of Pagford, an idyllic town in the English countryside that's bubbling with intrigues. Pre-order this guaranteed blockbuster today.

So I of course jumped on that bandwagon and ordered it. The funny thing is, I only read the first Harry Potter book. I saw all of the movies and I enjoyed them, but I just didn't get into the books. Peter liked the books, so we own the whole Harry Potter series, and I plan on giving them another try when John wants to start reading them. In any case, I think J.K. Rowling is very talented and I love her rags-to-riches success story and how it all came from her imagination and her writing ability.

(FYI, The Casual Vacancy comes out on September 27th at a cost of $35, but if you pre-order it from Barnes & Noble, it's $21.)

4. Each month I like to burn a new Yankee Candle jar so that our home can be infused with its sweet and unique scent. The candle I got for April is "Fluffy Towels." It has a pleasant cottony scent, but after awhile I think it starts to smell more like wet towels than fluffy towels. So if you come over to my house this month and it smells a little like wet laundry, that's why! 

5. I'm beginning to feel like Job. First I hurt my sternum, and then when it got better, I came down with a bad head cold. Now that the head cold is starting to go away, I've developed a weird splotchy rash on my lips that is totally drying them out. What the heck?! I wonder if its from one of the lipsticks I'm testing for Parents. Also, after weeks of mostly clear skin, my face is starting to break out. And my hair, which had recently been showing promising signs of growth and volume, has suddenly turned limp, flat, and lifeless again. I hope that my body is just going through a quick ugly phase and that things will get back to normal soon. Very, very soon. My pride can only take so much battering.

Happy Friday the 13th!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Moisture Beads

I'm not talking about the moisture beads that are found in some body washes, although those are nice. I'm talking about the moisture beads found in nature, the pure, clean, and pretty ones.

I like the beads of water on the tips of the grass here...

Nature in its simplicity is a thing of grandeur, don't you think?

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Sweet and the Sour

There have been a series of mishaps in my life over the last few days. Let me recount five of them for you.

1. Sam threw my iPad into his water table and now it doesn't work.

2. I woke up one morning last week with random pain in my sternum (breastbone), which got worse the next day and ached on and off for days. I don't know how it happened. So once again I had to take a break from my new-found exercise habit. 

3. Now that my sternum seems to be almost healed, I have a head-cold.

4. I'm suffering from hair despair. Sometimes I hate my thin hair and how it won't cooperate with my vision for it. :-(

5. No matter how hard I try I just can't seem to get and stay organized with my life the way that I want to. I know I have perfectionist standards when it comes to these things, but that just makes it all the more frustrating.

So it hasn't been the best week for me. However, there have been some good things that have happened, and to balance out the negative with the positive, in the spirit of gratitude and counting your blessings, I will now list five of those good things. (Exclamation marks mandatory-!)

1. I have an iPad "1" and if it can't be fixed I'll get to upgrade to a newer version of the iPad!

2. My mother is visiting from Massachusetts for a week!

3. We spent the day in beautiful Nauvoo, Illinois last Friday. That place is amazing! Especially if you're a member of the LDS Church who loves history like me. :-)

4. I read a good book last week--Jane by April Lindner. It was a modern-day retelling of my favorite book, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I really enjoyed it! And then on Saturday night I finally watched the movie version of Jane Eyre that came out last year. That was good too. Hooray for Jane Eyre!

5. Peter and I went out on an actual date Saturday evening and had dinner at one of the best restaurants in Iowa City. It had a really nice vibe like the restaurants we used to go to in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Hartford. And it had a perfectly delicious filet mignon too, I might add!

So the moral of the story is that I've found that for every negative in life there's at least one positive to counteract it, and often more. It doesn't change the fact that I'd like this cold to go away ASAP, and that I'd love for my hair to grow thicker and longer ASAP, and that I'd like my iPad to work again, and that I want my life to get organized just right and stay that way. But those things all pale in comparison to the many daily blessings in my life. It may sound a little trite, but it's true. And that makes all the difference in living a happy, optimistic life instead of a negative, pessimistic one. Choose to be positive! (Wow, who knew that this blog post would end up being a motivational pep talk? I didn't!)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Monday, April 2, 2012

Train Hair

One night a few weeks ago after the kids were in bed I heard my 2-year-old Sam fussing up in his room. I went in to check on him and he just stared at me in a somewhat alarmed, tentative fashion. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. Then he turned his head to the side and there it was. The wheels of one the little toy trains he brought to bed with him had somehow gotten tangled up in his hair!

I brought him downstairs and called for Peter to help me. I thought we were going to have to cut it out, but Peter was able to disentangle the train from Sam's long locks without Sam even crying. And even better, I snuck in a quick, very much needed haircut since he was being so calm and patient in spite of a train having just been stuck to his head. If that's what it takes for Sam to cooperate for a haircut, then, well, I don't know what to say to that.

Then he went back to bed and was soon sleeping peacefully. 

All is well that ends well! (Although if you look closely at the bottom left corner you will see that at his insistence the troublesome purple train is back in the crib with him. Will we ever learn?!)