Monday, October 31, 2011

It Wouldn't Be Halloween . . .

With our move at the beginning of the month, we didn't really do October 31 justice this year.

Since Halloween is Ben's favorite time of the year, I have felt a little guilty about this.

I was late getting up our decorations (but did finally find that box of all our best Halloween stuff that I thought we'd accidentally donated) and didn't give as much thought as usual to our costumes. I didn't even get out the cookie cutters to make pumpkin- or mummy-shaped cookies.

Still, it wouldn't be Halloween without carrying on with at least some of our traditions.

It wouldn't be Halloween without a visit to the pumpkin patch


(we went a few times,


although we missed the hayride this year),


carving pumpkins (which we did on Saturday!),



spooky decorations (our lights have a dimmer, which made them look really creepy with the cobwebs),


the library's spooky storytime (Ben and Jason won the mummy-making contest!),


Ben's Halloween party with his grandparents and cousins


(with Amanda and Rebecca helping to put the ghosts on top of the ghost pie),


and costume pictures on the front porch.


(As you can see, we had the Princess and the Frog!)

Of course it wouldn't be Halloween without trick-or-treating, either, which is on the agenda for tonight.

I guess I haven't completely neglected my responsibility to help the kids have a happy Halloween . . . and once their buckets are full of candy, they probably won't remember anything they might have missed :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

High Heels on a Hard Floor: Not Recommended

When Christmas gifts are carefully selected, they can become long-term favorites and may even pass down through the family from child to child over the years.

For example, a couple of years ago, Janae found a set of high-heeled princess dress-up shoes under the tree.


Alaina at the time, looked like this:


She wasn't interested in shoes, princesses, or even presents. (She was pretty stunned by the tree, though.)

Anyway, Janae played with the shoes all the time, matching them up with her princess dresses and then keeping them together in a special organizing case.

Our house was 95 percent carpet.

Fast forward to present times.

As you know, we moved. You may not realize, though, that our carpet square footage has decreased significantly. You would certainly realize this, however, if the girls were playing dress-up.

Alaina, particularly, has discovered the high-heeled shoes.

She wears them all the time, during all of her various princess errands, including walking the cat,


walking the dog (or . . . donkey?),


and refusing to put on pajamas.


Have you ever noticed how noisy high heels are on hard floors?

Maybe Santa will have to bring us some area rugs. They may also prove to be of lasting value. . . .

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Expiration Date?


When I graduated from BYU with my master’s degree, it was--without a doubt--my proudest accomplishment. I had read lots of thick books and written lots of lengthy papers for courses that spanned the spectrum of British literature.

Some of my favorite courses were on Shakespeare. I had amazing teachers who brought the plays to life and helped me to discover their characters, insights, and poetic language.


Later, when I taught intro to lit classes, I helped convert my own students to Shakespeare—or at least got them to admit that his plays weren’t that bad. I always taught Othello, which was one of my favorites.

I also took any opportunity that came to see Shakespeare’s plays live, attending Shakespearean festivals and lectures, and absorbing as much information as I could.

Or so you would think.

It turns out that this knowledge did not sink in as deeply as I might have imagined—or that it has somehow faded away and become lost over the past 10 years or so.

I came to this realization a few weeks ago, when one of my brothers-in-law thought it might be fun to read some random passages from Shakespeare’s plays and have me identify them.

I thought it sounded like the game I’d been waiting to play all my life and couldn’t wait to dazzle the spectators (luckily just Tina, Mom, and Jason, as you will soon see) with my extensive literary knowledge.

As the first passage was read, however, my excitement started to fade. It didn’t sound at all familiar (although I had to admit, it did sound like Shakespeare).

The second passage—a little longer—drew a similar blank.

The third passage—which contained actual character names—didn’t ring a bell.


The fourth passage was another one I didn’t know.

By the fifth passage things were getting a little awkward.

Finally, my brother-in-law started reading one of the most famous passages from one of Shakespeare’s major plays—where one of the most well-known characters was speaking.

Tentatively I guessed, “Othello?”


We all breathed a sigh of relief and quickly abandoned the game.

My brother-in-law then recommended that I go home and burn my master’s degree, which I should probably do.

It is such a lovely piece of paper, though . . . I just don’t think that I could.

Which inspired my idea: maybe master’s degrees, like bread or milk, should come with expiration dates—or, more appropriately “best if used before” dates, stamped somewhere on the back.

I think even teaching first-year English courses would count as use. (Taking children to story time, however, would not.)


This could serve as a warning to the degree’s bearer, as well as an indication to future employers and members of one's extended family, that if the degree hasn’t been used for a while it might very well have expired.

Then again, maybe it is like riding a bicycle . . . and if I just start reading Shakespeare a bit more often, some of my former knowledge will return.

Definitely something to think about as I am folding laundry, changing diapers, and washing dishes, wouldn’t you say?


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

. . . On With the New

Well, three days after moving day, I can actually say that we have almost finished unpacking all our boxes (and we did have quite a few!), and that I think we will be happy in our new home.

From the outside it looks like this:


Inside it looks like this:


But it is really all about this:

The deck,

and the backyard.

With plenty of room for this,


and this,


and especially this.


Yes, I am still too tired from moving and unpacking (not to mention comforting displaced children throughout the night) to construct actual sentences :)

I'm sure there will be many more stories to come. . . .