A monkey in every pot

More things I'm thankful for . . . (in neither any particular order nor particularly parallel structure):

Sam starting a conversation today with "How much do you know about polarization?"

Seb sweats when he sleeps. His pillow is usually wet when he wakes up. I like it because he gets all rosy-cheeked and sleepy and warm-looking.

Ky covers his mouth when he coughs. I don't know why; I think the other boys taught him to. It's SO cute.

Beth's bread recipe. I made rolls with it yesterday. Yum!

The other night we were going to bed late and Sam said, "I want to cuddle with that baby!" So we woke Malachi up and put him in our bed and cuddled with him. (It was short-lived. He gets squirmy when he's awake.)

Pad Thai

Sebby loves his monkey SO MUCH and it makes me happy

Disposable fountain pens

Abe yelling out "I love you!" as he runs into kindergarten. I wonder how long that can last? :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Miracles and Disappointment

I was thinking today, that we best demonstrate faith by our actions after we have been disappointed---i.e., when we pray for something to happen, and it doesn't happen, it is then that we have the opportunity to truly be faithful. Because before that point, when we are first asking God for something, we are not (much) different than someone who is simply "seeking a sign" for the wrong reasons: in both instances, there is hope that something you want to happen, will happen. But when it doesn't happen, when that disappointment comes, the unfaithful person decides: "Fine, that proves it: there is no God/God doesn't care about me." Whereas the faithful person says: "I trust God, so there must be a reason for this disappointment. I don't understand---but I still trust Him to do what is best."

To me this seems significant, because when something I have hoped and prayed for doesn't happen, I often think, "Well, that's the end of that: I must not have had enough faith." But that is exactly the wrong way to look at it---when your miracle fails to come, that is when true faith must start. An "unanswered" prayer is not a sign to give up because your attempt at faith has failed! The time of disappointment is exactly when you must begin to exercise your faith, to show that you will trust God even through the disappointment. And then, after that, you may still get your miracle.

I know this because I've received my share of those miracles. And many of them have come after I was sure I'd messed it all up somehow with my own stupidity. But I've just kept bungling along, hoping and trusting that God would help me through, and time after time the (undeserved) miracles eventually come.

So that's what I'm thankful for today: a new conviction that with each disappointment, each "unanswered" prayer, comes a chance to show God that I love Him, I trust Him, and I'll follow Him no matter what. I just have to be strong enough to take that chance when it's offered.

Please don't share your talents

I've never really been one of those people that likes to just sit down and start playing on any piano I see. But, I also don't really mind hearing people plunk out "Heart and Soul" or whatever (I've spent too many hours practicing the same notes over and over; slow, fast, with and without pedal, again and again and again, to think that music should always be "performance-quality"). However: occasionally, when I was trying to do my homework in the Wilkinson Center at BYU, or when I was sitting in church waiting for Young Women's to start, I wished someone would put up a note like this:

(from here)

Loveliness (It could be yours!)

Oh, now, don't jump to conclusions. I didn't put these pictures under that title to imply that I was loveliness. Just hear me out.

Look, I have freckles! I never knew.
I read a blog, sometimes, which tells about events going on in Salt Lake and Utah County, and this blog occasionally hosts "giveaways." Recently, there was one for a haircut and color by some lady, which you could leave a comment to win.

So, I was reading the comments. There were like 300 of them. And all of them said this:
"Oh, pick me! I neeeeeeed this soooo bad!"
"I am in serious need of a cut, my hair is AWFUL"
"My hair is a disaster, I really need some help"
"I need a new look SO bad!"

Repeat 300 times.

Well, I'm not trying to criticize here, since my first thought upon reading the post was, "Oh man, I need this, my hair is horrible these days."


After skimming through 300 comments saying the same thing, I felt sort of weird. (I didn't even feel like leaving a comment anymore.) I just kept thinking, "Really? Do we really 'neeeeed this so bad'?" It made me kind of sad, to see that nearly every woman there, including me, a.) hated her hair and b.) thought a new cut-n-color was a necessity. It made me want to be a little less self-centered, frankly, and less worried about all these wants I have somehow made into "needs." I'm all for cute haircuts, of course. A cute haircut can make such a difference in how you feel from day to day, especially when you have had a few more kids and a few more brownies and a few less days of running and several hundred fewer hours of sleep than would, technically, be desirable for someone who wanted to have a cute body. But really. Don't you want to be the kind of person who is happy no matter what you look like? I do. I'm not there yet. But I want to be.

Here is a quote I love (from a talk by Elder Holland several years ago)(and perhaps a better authority on such matters than this person):

"A preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical . . . is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive, and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women, including young women, face in the modern world. And if adults are preoccupied with appearance—tucking and nipping and implanting and remodeling everything that can be remodeled—those pressures and anxieties will certainly seep through to children. At some point the problem becomes what the Book of Mormon called “vain imaginations.” And in secular society both vanity and imagination run wild. One would truly need a great and spacious makeup kit to compete with beauty as portrayed in media all around us. Yet at the end of the day there would still be those “in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers” as Lehi saw, because however much one tries in the world of glamour and fashion, it will never be glamorous enough.

"A woman not of our faith once wrote something to the effect that in her years of working with beautiful women she had seen several things they all had in common, and not one of them had anything to do with sizes and shapes. She said the loveliest women she had known had a glow of health, a warm personality, a love of learning, stability of character, and integrity. If we may add the sweet and gentle Spirit of the Lord carried by such a woman, then this describes the loveliness of women in any age or time, every element of which is emphasized in and attainable through the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ."


And since there were so many who didn't win the free haircut, if you really need one, you can come over and I will give you one. I have some very serviceable electric clippers. AND attachments #2, 6, and 3. Except #2 is broken. But I can easily just use my fingers to get approximately the right length. So I'm sure it will be fine.

The easiest brownies you will ever make

Okay, that's probably not true. You could make a brownie mix; that would be easier. And maybe you'd be happy with that. Who am I to judge? But it's just that I love these brownies so, so much, and I want you to enjoy them too. So I share this, perhaps my favorite recipe ever, not because I think I'm some brownie expert, and not because I want to condemn your brownie mix, but just because I love you. And I want you to eat these brownies. Tonight.

Here is how you make them. Just look how easy this is.

1. Mix the brownie ingredients in a bowl. First the first 4, then the second 4. You don't even need beaters. Just a spoon.

2. Mix the ingredients for whichever kind of swirl you want. I do use beaters for this. You'll have to soften the cream cheese, but that's the only remotely tricky part.

3. Now you have two bowls of batter. Spread about half of the chocolate batter in your greased cake pan.
4. Then spread the other batter on top, like this.

5. Then plop the rest of the chocolate batter on top, in little blobs, just however you can. (It doesn't have to look good, or even cover all of the middle layer.)

6. Then take a butter knife and make swirls. This is fun. Abe and Seb always want to help me. You just do long snakes, back and forth, first vertically and then horizontally.
7. Then you bake them for 45-55 minutes at 325. A toothpick should come out mostly clean, maybe just with a few crumbs (but not wet batter) on it.

And that's it! And they're my favorite. And you will like them.

Now, here is the recipe.

My favorite Brownies

1 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup baking cocoa (I use 1/4 c. cocoa, 1/4 c. carob, but don't mind me.)

Spread batter into greased 9 x 13 pan; for PLAIN brownies, bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  For SWIRL brownies, add one of the following extra batters, and change baking time and temperature as follows:

1. Peanut Butter Swirl
1 package (8 oz.) softened cream cheese
heaping ½ cup peanut butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
[Beat until smooth and creamy.]

2. Cream Cheese Swirl:
1 package (8 oz.) softened cream cheese
5 tablespoons softened margarine
heaping ½ cup sugar
heaping 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 T. milk
[Beat ingredients together until smooth. ]

Spread half of chocolate mixture (brownie recipe above) in greased 9x13 pan. Spread swirl mixture over, then top with rest of chocolate mixture. Gently run a knife through the layers to create a marbled look. Bake at 325 for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


This boy

Before I had kids I'd hear people describe the stage where "they are always asking questions." Sometimes this was further described as "annoying." Annoying?? How wonderful!, I thought. To see their little minds reaching for knowledge! To be an agent of enlightment, expanding their understanding! How could it be annoying to watch a child's growth in this way?

I maintained this position, for the most part, until Sebastian became verbal.

(I have become more compassionate towards many parental attitudes, since giving birth to this child.)

He is ALWAYS, ALWAYS asking me something. I don't mind the
questions like, "Why does it get cold in the winter?" or "How does the dishwasher work?" or "Where does Jesus sleep?"

But there are so many, many other questions. Half the time I don't understand them: "What is that white thing for?" "What white thing?" "[angrily] The whiiiite thing on the baaaack of the whiiiiite thing!!!!!" "The back of what white thing?" "I said, the whiiiiiite thing, MOMMMEE!"

Or they are just an excuse for an
argument. "Why is it called dinner, I don't WANT it to be called dinner! It's NOT called dinner, Mommy!"

Or they are endlessly repetitive. "What are you doing Mommy?" "I'm beating up the eggs." "Are you beating up the eggs?" "Yes." "Is that what you're doing, Mommy, beating up the eggs?" ---[repeat ad infinitum]

Or they are just plain ODD: "Why is there an eight-seven-eighty-forty-green-bean?" or
"Why is there a power?"

I sometimes have the hardest time staying patient. And I feel bad, because I know he gets just as frustrated as I do, poor guy. And he's still the cutest little monkey (Even as I'm writing these things down, they are starting to sound cute instead of annoying to me). I guess I just have to try to enjoy (and laugh at) this stage while it lasts.

Cupcakes and cake wrecks

Oh, this little beauty? Yes, it's a monkey. A monkey cake. A cute monkey cake that Sam and I made for a lovely party given by my friend Beth. The theme? Cake wrecks, as seen on this popular blog. We were supposed to bring a tribute to or re-creation of one of the cakes on the blog. Sam and I were both particularly taken with this cake:

which was supposed to be a "happy monkey like Curious George." Well, obviously. And we are also fond of this one:

which kind of speaks for itself. ("It a gril!")

So we spent an afternoon lovingly crafting our tribute:

We used one round cake and several cupcakes, and it turned out quite nicely, I must say. It even tasted good. And speaking of tasting good, Beth and her sister-in-law Megan really outdid themselves with the cupcakes at the party. They had a "cupcake bar" where you could frost cupcakes in various combinations (banana-caramel! chocolate-cherry! cream-cheese chocolate chip! etc.) and they were really good. I may have to become a cupcake fan, after all. And don't even get me started on Beth's soups! They were, truly, fantastic.

It a gril!

So many of us! So many of us!

By Iorek85 at English Wikipedia, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3704226

I feel like I've mentioned this poem before, but I get it in my head all the time---maybe because it scares me to death [as some of you know, this is exactly how I feel about mushrooms . . . and creeping vines . . . and really anything that grows too fast . . . for another horrible example, see here, if you dare] so I might as well include it here:
Mushrooms --by Sylvia Plath

Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot's in the door.
Wooooooh! Scary. We could analyze what it symbolizes. But let's not. Instead, let's imagine that the title is "Marilyns." (Perhaps the analogy is more apt than you might think? "Very quietly"? "Perfectly voiceless"? "We are meek"? . . . Getting nervous yet?) And then let's think about this:
LogoThere are
people with my name in the U.S.A.
How many have your name?

Are you alarmed? Well, okay, 19 isn't that many. (I'm not sure how accurate this is. I feel like there are like 3 others with my name just at the doctor's office---they always have to ask me for my birthday to tell who I am.) But interestingly, when I change it to my maiden name, the number jumps to 597!
Our kids are fairly unique (namewise---I already knew they were unique in other ways, trust me): there are 3 with Abe's name, 1 with Seb's, and "1 or fewer" with Malachi's (now that could give the kid an inferiority complex---"am I truly less than a person, Mommy?"). I guess they still have a ways to go before being able to take over the earth. Thank goodness.
How many of YOU are there? Is YOUR foot in the door?

Foilage, Baggage, Baggage

Some miscellaneous items:

This was the week before Halloween---we had a picnic at a park nearly every day that week, and now I'm so glad we did---since the lovely warm Fall days now seem to have come to an end :(

After providing me with such helpful advice, were you dying to see my new purse? Here it is. Isn't it cheery? I love it. (Got it at Shopko--thanks, Chelsea. And everyone else.)

I like this. Aren't they cute, snuggly puppy-bundles? And I don't even like dogs. [Except for Beth's Dad's dog Snickers. Who I only like because of her excellent training. "Did she do it?" You MUST read the story, here.]


I love watching the way Abe and Seb interact. Although they fight and yell at each other frequently, they really love playing together too. Abe loves to show Seb how to do things (like open his umbrella) and Seb loves to feel like he's a big boy by doing them. Sometimes it's good (Seb learning to brush his teeth) and sometimes not-so-good (Abe and Seb coming out of the bathroom saying, "We went at the same time! Standing up!"), but I always enjoy watching it.

Lately they've been playing Disneyland rides: not riding on them, but being the workers. They'll say into their hands (so it sounds like a microphone), "Welcome to the merry-go-round. We just have a few rules. Please stay sitting down and don't get off until we've come to a complete stop." Often, Abe will stop playing to tell Sebby, "No, you don't say that yet! First you have to say 'welcome to the ride'!" Abe keeps correcting him until Sebby can do it to Abe's satisfaction.

Yesterday I heard Abe end his merry-go-round speech with, "Now the ride will start. Here we go! Enjoy your spin!" Then a few minutes later, I heard Seb imitating him: "Here we go! Enjoy your skin and bones!"

I love those guys.
And this guy too:

California Trip

Well, we are back from our trip to California. This wasn't one of those times where I could say to myself, "Ah, but we were ready to go home." I wanted to stay longer!! Everyone did. Abey kept saying as we prepared to leave, "Mommy, I'm starting to feel really sad!" But, here we are, and we are resigning ourselves to the cold dark winter now. Maybe I'll make some cookies today to cheer us up?

[*No, we didn't buy the dang Mickey hats. We just took a picture of them. What do you think we are, made of money?]

Actually, this was a wildly successful trip in that it was SO cheap. To wit:
1. 3 tanks of gas. Total. The entire time. (Yes! I love having a hybrid!)--$100
2. Disneyland--free
3. Staying at Philip and Allison's house--free
4. Food--yogurt and granola, turkey and gouda, cream cheese brownies, etc. No more than normal grocery money--or provided by Philip and Allison--[thank you!]--so basically, free (and eaten in such exotic locales as this lovely parking garage).
5. Beach--$4 (for parking)
5. Tickets to "Wicked"--not free--but really fun

And also, did you see this picture? I mean, really. Did you see it? I think Ky must have eaten a whole bucketful of sand. I just didn't know how to prevent it. So eventually, I stopped trying. And there you have it; the key to a relaxing day on the beach with children: Negligance. (That's right. Perhaps I should write a parenting book instructing others on my methods? What do you think?)

Some kind of arm

(Scene: inside a car)

Boy 1: I'm going be a fireman when I grow up, and drive a fire truck.

Boy 2: I would just yike to be . . . some kind of arm.
Mother: Um . . .
Boy 2: Some kind of arm that goes "ding ding ding ding!"
[aha. one of those railroad crossing arms.]
Boy 1: But if you are an arm, all you'll do is, you'll just stop the cars from hitting the train. You won't get to eat things . . . or stay all night at Grandma's . . . or anything fun like that.
Boy 2: I know, BUT, I would still yike to be some kind of arm.

Who are these weirdos?


What Sam Thinks

1. Talking with Sam yesterday, I discovered something very odd. I was telling him that I had gotten hurt by something "right on the bottom of my fingernail." (By this I meant, Position B) But HE thought I meant Position A! Not understanding how position A could be described by any stretch of the imagination as "the bottom of the fingernail," I probed further. And learned that he labels the parts of the hand as follows:

D: The "tip" (but not the "top") of the finger

E: The bottom of the finger ("the top" of the finger, to him, is the entire other side; what I would call "the back")

A: The bottom of the fingernail

B: The top of the fingernail (however, he prefers the "top" and "bottom" designations to refer to depth; i.e. what normal people would call "under" the fingernail, Sam would call "the bottom"---see also E, above)

C: "If pressed," Sam says, "I suppose I'd call this the 'root' of the finger."

4. This is awesome

5. This is a good idea

Froggy costume

Do all you moms of girls keep up with the blog Grosgrain? You ought to. It's a lady who designs dresses for her little girl and then gives them away every couple weeks, and they are SO CUTE. She had a Marie Antoinette-style dress a few weeks ago that was the most amazing thing I've ever seen. Anyway, I love just looking at the darling ideas she has, and wishing I had someone who could wear them (or that I could myself!).

This week she had a little tree frog costume (finally something my boys could wear!) that is just incredible. You can check out her blog for more pictures. It makes me wish I could be a fashion designer (but who doesn't?).

Here's the link if you want to win the cute froggy. Tropical Tree Frog Costume GIVEAWAY!!!!
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