September 30, 2010

I cancelled Halloween

Remember how I took away Neflix and various other movies?  Well, I also put the TV in the closet so it's been unavailable for use during the month of September.  (More on that later)  Needless to say, my popularity plummeted even further.  Since I was already in negative poll numbers my husband and I decided to take it one step further.  Halloween is officially cancelled.

To be honest, I've never really liked Halloween.  There are a number of reasons for this.

1.  I've never liked the scary, gross, bloody costumes.

2.  I DO like the candy, but in a non-healthy way.  As in a "I eat too much of it and it's really bad for me" way.

3.  I also get seriously annoyed with the greedy, "give me" attitudes of trick-or-treaters.  Typically we do a Trunk-or-Treat in our church parking lot, but that means that each kid comes around 3 or 4 times, never once saying thank you or acknowledging me in any way, shape or form (okay, there are a FEW who do, but they are the exception).  I should probably be a grown-up in this situation and understand they are kids all crazy and under the influence of sugar and artificial coloring....but it still bothers me.

4.  We buy the GOOD candy, the delicious candy, the kind you'd buy for yourself to eat at home.  And my kids bring home GARBAGE.  (I was going to say another word....I didn't)  They seriously come home with the cheapest, grossest, most  yucky tasting and looking candy ever.  I grieve for the loss of my luscious Twix bars and gooey Milky Ways.  I also buy A LOT of candy because I feel personally responsible to make sure there is enough candy.  How's that for twisted?

5.  I'm trying to reduce the amount of sugar and artificial coloring my kids (and myself) eat.  Halloween does not help this.  It provides either several days of gorging or several month's worth of "one piece a day".  We don't need it.  My kids get all whacked and some of them even steal/lie about it.  It changes their behavior and attitudes.  Is candy SERIOUSLY worth crying about?  Or screaming, thrashing around and spitting on me about?  And I'm not just talking the 4-year-old.

6.  It's expensive.  I've kept track over the last few years and Halloween costs between $100 and $150.  FOR ONE NIGHT.  That is beyond ridiculous.  Aside from buying the "good" candy, we have costumes to pay for.  I make most of them, but material costs money.  And time.  Even getting costumes at thrift shops costs money.  Multiply that by 4 boys and it adds up.  I try to use clothes from their dress-up bucket, but most of the time they want something completely different than they've ever had.

7.  I don't even want to talk about the time I spend making costumes only to be told it's ugly, they don't like it, they changed their mind, etc.  It's not easy making four costumes (many late nights and pricked fingers)......

8.  This year I have 2 kids in braces.  Most of the stuff they'll get they won't be able to eat.

So, we're not going to the Trunk-or-Treat.  We're not going trick-or-treating.  We're not getting costumes.  I DID make a compromise though, since I've had some feedback from my husband that I'm being "too weird".  We are going to have a family party.  Each kid will get to choose what they want for dinner - so it will be a buffet of random favorites (right now we have pizza, chips & salsa and orange chicken on the menu).  They will get a small amount of candy, to be eaten at the Party.  And we're having a Family Wii Tournament.  It will be the first time they've seen the Wii in 2 months.

I expected all sorts of push-back, but they're actually quite excited about it.  Maybe it will become a family tradition.  Maybe being weird is okay....

September 29, 2010


I hate to wash dishes.  Even more though, I hate to wash muffin pans.  I love to eat muffins.  I just hate to wash the pans.  I could use paper liners, but it seriously bothers me that so much of the muffin sticks to the paper, thus wasting a large portion of the muffin.

It's a lose-lose situation making muffins at home - either I have to scrub out each cramped little hole (several times because it never comes clean the first time) or I cry as I throw away half the muffin stuck to the paper.

Enter Mookies.  Many, many months ago I decided to try making muffins on a cookie sheet.  It worked.  My kids loved it.  Mostly because they thought I'd gone crazy and was feeding them cookies for breakfast. Clean up was a snap.  So much so that I gave away all my muffin pans!

I've used a multitude of recipes and almost all of them work beautifully.  If the batter looks really runny, I'll add a bit more flour.

We tried many names for this new creation.  Cuffins.  Cookins.  Muffie.  MuCookie.  Mookies stuck.

September 28, 2010

Sad news

My son would like me to let you know that our bird passed away on Friday.  It has been an extremely difficult time, but we've had some good conversations.

We only had her for two weeks and she had to go to the vet twice during that time.  The last time she was there for 4 days.  We brought her home Thursday night, and we found her dead Friday morning.  It has been harder than it needs to be because the pet store was exceptionally rude and made very unkind accusations.  It's made the grieving process difficult, especially for me.

We loved that little bird and she had the sweetest personality.  My 4-year-old is positive that Heavenly Father and Jesus are taking care of her and we'll get her back after the resurrection.  He is very concerned, however, that Heavenly Father will be sad without her, even though He has millions of birds, so "we're going to share".

The son who owned Brittney was watching some of our church leaders talk when he started crying.  He said that he understood then how Jesus had suffered for all our pain, that He even knew how it felt to have your pet die and "that Jesus knows how much I miss Brittney and how much it hurts."  I'm so glad he has the Atonement to help him through the sadness.

We've decided not to get another bird for right now.  We need some time.

September 20, 2010

My favorite smoothie

I've been drinking smoothies for a while now.  I love them.  My favorite one right now is made like this:

1 banana
1/4 to 1/3 chunk of beet
1 carrot (with the peel)
1 small carton Greek Gods honey yogurt
1 or 2 leaves kale
a handful or two spinach
3 or 4 leaves Romaine lettuce
about 1/3 c. frozen blueberries
about 1/3 c. frozen strawberries
about 1/3 c. frozen raspberries
about 1/3 c. frozen cherries
a small carton coconut water
1 large handful raw cashews
about 2 tbsp. flax seeds (I throw them in unground and the blender takes care of them)
about 2 tbsp. hemp nuts
a few ounces whole leaf aloe vera juice

Oh my delicious!  I'm feeling better and losing weight.  My husband doesn't like this recipe because he says it tastes "too beety".  I honestly don't taste the beet; I think the whole thing tastes yummy.  This makes about 2 quarts - I drink one for breakfast and one for lunch.

I will often switch out the "greens" depending on what I can find at the store that week.  I like collards, chard, kale, spinach, and romaine lettuce for my greens.  Cabbage is a bad idea - it doesn't blend well and ends up tasting chalky.

For my kids I usually make something sweeter.  They haven't fully embraced the smoothie revolution.

1 banana
1 pear
1 apple
about 1 cup frozen berries (a mixture of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and cherries)
a small carton yogurt (usually a "red" flavor like strawberry or blueberry or cherry)
fruit juice
a small handful greens

We've made a deal that they'll allow me to add in smaller amounts of greens little by little.  So each day we add another leaf or two of spinach.

I use 100% fruit juice and Stonyfield yogurt which has no artificial colors.  I also keep the peels on the fruit.

September 12, 2010

The Newest Member of the Family

Last Sunday we had a birthday.  My first-born son turned 10.  I now have two ten-year-olds.  And that is making ME feel old.

For his birthday he received quite a bit of money.  We told him he couldn't buy any new Wii games unless they were "active" games.  We also said no to lots of little toys.  He decided to save up for the new Hogwarts Lego Castle.  But then.....

....he remembered that he really, really wanted a chicken for a pet, but the military housing office won't allow 'undomesticated' animals (don't even get me started). 

The next best thing was a bird.  So we headed to the pet store and looked at parakeets and cockatiels.  We came home with this lovely little girl.  
Her name is Brittney.  She's a baby cockatiel.  She's really nice and is learning to "step up" and be held.  At times she is fiesty, but she's quickly becoming a boy's best friend.
He wants to thank all the grandparents who gave him the money.  He's very happy with his new bird.  And I'm happy that I'm not the only girl in the house!!!!

September 6, 2010

Does anyone know the cost.....

....of living more pioneer-like?

For instance, how much does it cost a year to raise enough chickens to provide eggs and meat for your family?

How much does it cost to plant, harvest and preserve enough food for your family through the winter?

How about a milk cow?  Beef cow?

My husband and I have been discussing what it would cost to "homestead" or live more simply.  Where can we find more information on the start-up costs and the yearly maintenance costs?

I know you can do things like make and use your own candles, laundry soap, shampoo, etc.  Make all your food from scratch, sew, quilt, raise bees.  But how much does it cost yearly to keep those things going?

And how much room does a family of 6 really need in a house?  We have 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, the biggest military house we've had yet!  Do we really need that much room though?  I think we could go smaller IF we lived on a bit of land so we could get outside.

Can anyone point me in the right direction?  How do I find this information out?

September 2, 2010


I cancelled our Netflix.
I cancelled BrainPop.
I cancelled A+ Educational Video (an online rental for educational videos).

I am not a popular mom right now.
Apparently there is nothing fun to do in our house.
I didn't know it before, but now I do....everything is boring, boring, boring.
I've been voted the Worst Parent in the World Who Wants Her Kids to be Mad and Bored.
If we were on an island, I'd be voted off.

My house is really clean though.
Whenever they complain they earn the privilege of doing a chore.
Because I care.
And I don't want them to be bored.

They are reading a lot more now.
And we're playing a ton of games together.

Who knows what will happen next?
The DVDs are crying and trying to hide it a corner.
They know they're about to go.
The Wii is scared of me.
It should be.

September 1, 2010

What is beauty?

I read a wonderful talk by Douglas Callister entitled Your Refined Heavenly Home.  It touched my heart and made me truly desire for a more refined, beautiful home and an atmosphere that is more heaven-like.

There is one part, however, that I'm troubling over.  I've discussed it with my husband, but still cannot find a decision I'm happy with.

"We must not “let ourselves go” and become so casual—even sloppy—in our appearance that we distance ourselves from the beauty heaven has given us. Every man has the right to be married to a woman who makes herself as beautiful as she can be and who looks in the mirror to tidy herself up before he comes home. Every woman has a right to be married to a man who keeps himself clean, physically as well as morally, and takes pride in his appearance."

So, I'm guilty of "letting myself go".  I have long hair that I wear in a ponytail or bun every day.  I wear jeans and t-shirt and am more than a few pounds overweight.  But I've decided I want to change.  For myself.  

Every day I'm trying to do something to make myself more "beautiful" physically.  The other day I plucked my eyebrows.  Because I'm so loving, I won't include a picture of what they looked like before.  I'm also trying to wash my face and use good products to help my skin look more attractive.  And exercise is going to be my new best friend.

I'm trying.  I want to be a refined woman.  I want to feel like the daughter of God I know I am.

As I was discussing this with my husband, I asked for his definition of womanly beauty.  I wanted to know if it was "beautiful" to have a nice haircut, to wear neat and comely clothes, have lovely skin and be in shape.  Or did make-up need to be involved?  I'm not against make-up.  I actually have a lot of it (my sister-in-law is a Mary Kay consultant and I personally keep her in business).  But I don't have a lot of time and energy to use it right now.

Since my time is limited I wanted to know if using the 15 to 20 minutes it takes each day to put on make-up would be better used in exercising so that I am healthy and have a lovely girlish figure.  He replied that I should be able to do it all - exercise, fix my hair and wear make-up and that without the make-up it wouldn't be considered "beautiful".

I'll be honest and say that I ended up raising my voice at this point.  A part of me chafes that for a woman to be beautiful she must wear make-up.  A man is considered handsome without it.  Part of me is unhappy that I can't be considered "naturally cute" or whatever.  It's sort of like I'm not good enough unless I have it.  I should probably let you know that my husband is a wonderful man, and regularly tells me he loves me and that I'm beautiful.  In fact his nickname for me is "Pretty".  But it still bothered me.

Can women be "beautiful" without make-up?  Can a well-dressed, physically fit, smiling woman be considered beautiful?  Has our society so indoctrinated us with artificial beauty that we can no longer appreciate natural beauty?  Or is all the make-up actually a part of refinement and loveliness?