Saturday, September 24, 2011

Off With the Old . . .

Yesterday we went to our "new house" to play with the kids who have been living there--and who would be leaving today (friends from Ben's elementary school).

Their mom took a picture of the six children together on the back deck (a little sneak preview of Jason's favorite part of the house!) and sent it to me this morning in an email titled "Passing the Torch."

So cute.

It got me thinking a bit, though, about what we are leaving behind:

The backyard where Ben started his study of bugs,

and the front garden where we planted our rose bushes (remember the Camry?!).

The place where we brought our last two babies home,

and all three of them learned to walk.

The driveway where they learned to ride their bikes,

the place where Ben has had all of his themed parties,

and the porch where we always posed for pictures.

It's going to be hard to leave so many memories behind . . .

only six more days.

Good thing we get to take all of our stuff with us ;)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Will I EVER Eat a Tomato?


One of my favorite children's series of books and DVDs is Charlie and Lola. I think Lola is hilarious and I love the way the brother and sister get along so well. Recently, though, we had a Charlie and Lola book from the library called "I Will Not Ever NEVER Eat a Tomato," and I think it might be one of those eerie situations where the book is starting to come true in my life.

Let me explain.

A few months ago (actually back in MARCH, I found, when I went through my pictures), Jason and I decided to plant some tomatoes with our kids. The idea was actually mine, inspired by a crop of tiny plants I'd seen my mom and dad starting at their house.

We gathered seeds, soil, and pots, and planned a Family Home Evening lesson around the New Testament scripture "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." I taught my children that if we plant tomatoes, we get tomatoes, just as if we "plant" kindness we get good things or if we "plant" anger, unkindness, etc., we get bad things back. We even had them memorize the verse.


Sounds good, right?

Well, our plants grew nicely during the next little while. We watered them, kept them close to our sunniest window, gave them Miracle Grow, etc. They looked great, and we were pretty proud of the leaves that were popping out and the stems that were starting to thicken.

Pretty soon we had some warmer, sunnier weather, and we decided it was time to put our tomato plants outside.

Then is started to pour with rain. Our plants got pelted with water to the point where not one of them was standing.

Not wanting to give up, we propped them up with sticks and covered them with a tarp. Still, I felt that our chances of actually getting any tomatoes were slim.

I started to worry about that FHE lesson, too. We planted tomatoes, but we were not going to get any. What conclusions would my children form? (Fortunately in this case, though, I don't think my kids retained much of that lesson . . . although they can still quote the scripture.)

Then the sun came out, the plants started to grow, and flower, and show signs of tomatoes. They were tiny and green, but one day I counted 10 tomatoes!

Every day as I watered the plants I was amazed to see more tomatoes had developed. Instead of counting 10, I could see at least 10 on most plants. We were going to have tomatoes after all!

But summer is over now, and still, all we have are green tomatoes. My mom suggested picking any that are even the slightest bit red and letting them ripen in a paper bag, and we are trying that. But it is so sad to know that most of those amazing little tomatoes are never going to have a chance to grow and ripen.

And, like Lola, I might never get to eat a tomato . . . at least not one of our own.


(Well, okay, probably that ONE!)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Littlest Fan Club


I've mentioned before that my kids love to watch The Muppet Show. We have DVD sets of the first three seasons, and--more often than not--when Benjamin, Janae, or even little Alaina gets to choose a show, they will put on an episode of this 1970s classic.

As a result, my children are more familiar than most with a lot of the "old-time" entertainers, such as Julie Andrews, Harry Belafonte, or--their most recent favorite--Elton John.


If you haven't seen the episode where Elton John appears on The Muppet Show, you have really been missing out. It is even more entertaining than his appearance on Bob the Builder, I have to say (although we got a lot of mileage out of that one, too). Definitely worth a look-up on youtube.


Elton performs several of his early well-known classics, including "Yellow Brick Road," "Benny and the Jets," "Crocodile Rock," and--in a duet with Miss Piggy--his irresistibly catchy "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (while sporting a pretty dazzling pink sequined jumpsuit, no less).

You can actually say to any one of my three children--and at any given moment--"Don't go breaking my heart . . ." and they will sing back, "I couldn't if I tried" without missing a beat. They are good. And once we start singing it we literally cannot stop. Not even if we try.


Anyway, a few days ago Janae was watching the Elton John episode when she turned to me and asked, "Mommy, is Elton John still alive? Or is he already in heaven?" I assured my four-year-old daughter that yes, he was still alive . . . and added (only under my breath, though) that it might be quite some time before he ends up in heaven (that is--most definitely--not for me to judge, of course).

Janae then said, "I want to tell him that my name is Janae, and I saw him on The Muppet Show." So, we might be writing some fan mail in the next little while.


We have also been listening to the Lion King soundtrack in the car for the past few months . . .


Janae has seriously got to be one of Elton John's biggest--and youngest--fans. Well, she and Alaina.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Not Just the Leaves Are Changing Around Here. . .

It is hard to believe how much has changed for our family in the past couple of weeks.

The days of sleeping late and swimming lessons in the afternoon are gone.


Janae's time at home with Mommy and Alaina has been supplemented by a few hours a week at preschool and ballet.



(Relations with Alaina seem to be improving, however).


Benjamin is now in Grade 2 . . .


his class meets in a portable, changes for gym, and apparently spends most of the lunch hour playing with something called BeyBlades--we finally broke down and bought a set today, seeing as how Ben was the "only one in his class" who didn't have one yet. (Rest assured, they are not really "blades" but "high-performance spinning tops.")


And soon we will be moving across town . . . into a house.


Janae is sad to be leaving her BFF behind,


but other than that--and all the packing, cleaning, painting, and carrying heavy boxes and furniture--we are looking forward to the change.

Change can be good, right?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cake, Candles, Cousins, and COWS

For the past few MONTHS Alaina has been talking about her birthday, or--more specifically--her COW birthday.

It started in the car one day. Ben's birthday had just past, and I was on a bit of a roll--thinking about what we might do for Alaina. I asked my youngest daughter, "What kind of a birthday cake would Alaina like?"

Alaina said, "A two birthday." I acknowledged that yes, she would be turning two, but then thought I'd ask one more time, "What would you like to have on your cake? Maybe Elmo?"

Alaina then said, "A cow birthday." And after that, she started looking forward to her special cow-themed day--which we celebrated yesterday.

Well, the cow turned out more like a dog . . . or maybe pig. But Alaina did recognize it, thanks to all the talk about cows leading up to the party :)


We had a few of Alaina's favorite people over to celebrate with the "farm animal" cake and some perfect gifts (she has been having such a great time playing with all of them!).


Afterwards, Alaina rested up for the afternoon's events (she still looks like a baby in this one, doesn't she?).


We went to see some real cows and horses at a local dairy farm.


The kids played on the playground,


and Alaina drove a tractor.


It was a great day to be two!

Alaina's actual birthday is today (the first day of school, unfortunately), so after lunch I put two candles in a piece of leftover birthday cake and we sang to Alaina again . . . and again . . . and again, letting her blow out the candles a few more times.

So much fun :)


And we are so happy we have our Laina!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Year’s Resolution Complete . . . Check!

This year I made a New Year’s resolution to read at least 12 novels during 2011. I am happy to report that as I read the shocking conclusion to The House at Riverton yesterday, I completed my goal.


Now, I know what you are thinking: “What kind of a New Year’s Resolution is
THAT??!!” Doesn’t a New Year’s resolution have to be impossible to achieve . . . and shouldn't it be about weight loss?

Obviously, though, I thought it was a worthy goal.

I love to read fiction (and spent eight years getting my master’s degree in English literature, after all!), but found I wasn’t reading very much because there were always so many other things (not to mention people) that needed my attention.

I didn’t want to miss out on this very enjoyable part of life, though. It sounds selfish, but remember all those arguments about happier mothers leading to happier children, etc., etc.

Anyway, these are the 12 (and a brief assessment of each):

1-5. Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Books 1-5 (good)
6. The Help (excellent; loved the movie, too)


7. The Book Thief (amazing)
8. The Sugar Queen (okay)
9. The Girl Who Chased the Moon (okay)
10. The Distant Hours (amazing)
11. The Forgotten Garden (amazing)
12. The House at Riverton (amazing)


(Kate Morton, author of numbers 10-12 is my new modern favorite, by the way—in case that wasn’t obvious!)

So, now that I’ve completed this goal, you are probably thinking I should devote the last four months of the year to housework. Maybe I should. . . but no.


I have a book on hold at the library, and I will pick it up before the doors close today. Then after that, a long list of holds yet to come in.

Have I mentioned that I love the library? And reading? And checking off New Year’s resolutions? (And bragging about my accomplishments?) :)