Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Early December Highlights and Parties

 I'm at my mom's house again for the long weekend.  Okay, it's not really the weekend yet, but since my brother and his family are in town, we're hanging out with them as much as we can.  I remembered to upload some photos before we left so here's an update of what we did earlier this month:

Kid's Gymnastics Show:
Little Miss:


Watching the show:


They were a little nervous at first, but they had a great time.

Decorating "gingerbread" houses:
(I can't take credit for these pictures, my friend, Lara, took them and sent them to me.)

I intended to make gingerbread this year, but when I got looking at recipes and noticed that cutting out cardboard shapes was involved, I gave up hope and went with our old stand-by: graham crackers.  Notice the healthy decorations.  We got together with 3 other families and they're a little weird, in that they don't like to give their kids stuff that is bad for them.  Go figure.  I thought the healthy stuff made some really neat houses!


I didn't get any pictures at the pool, but I had to write about it just because I don't want to forget Baby Ray's reaction.
We went swimming with some friends.  The older kids jumped right in and started playing tag.  Little Miss and Bazinks played in the kiddie pool (I couldn't find Little Miss' floaties).  Ray, however, cried when his feet touched the water.  I put him in all the way to his shoulders, thinking he would soon get used to the water and enjoy it - like my other babies had.  I sat in the corner of the pool and waited for him to get comfortable.  He put his head on my shoulder and moved his little hands and feet in circles or he'd pinch me with them.  I waited.  Sometimes people would walk by and splash us a little - Ray would cry for a second, sigh, and continue resting his head on my shoulder.  I kept thinking, "Any second now, he'll lift his head and play."
After and hour and a half of sitting in the same spot (he got nervous when I moved), I gave up hope that he would ever like the water.  I thought he was so adorable because most babies would have been screaming at being as miserable as he seemed, but not Ray.  He patiently waited it our and was so relieved when we finally got out of the water.  He did attempt to splash a little right before it was time to go.  Maybe another hour would have done the trick!  He's the sweetest baby.

I like to schedule all of our dentist appointments at the same time so that I don't have to make separate trips.  The kids were so good and brave that I had to take pictures.

Spice watched Baby Ray while I got my teeth cleaned and then she was nice enough to keep Little Miss company while I watched Bazinks get his teeth cleaned.  Bud was playing X-box in the waiting room until his turn :-).

Christmas Parties:

Okay, so it's not a very good picture, but it's the only one I remembered to take at the Christmas party for Rock's mom's side of the family.  The kids are snug in their new, comfy blankets from their Grandma!  They had a family talent show which, at first, my kids refused to participate in (mostly Spice refused, but that got everyone else refusing) so we didn't come prepared with anything.  It was great fun watching everyone sport thier talents, even the adults.  Seeing everyone being courageous and silly about it, inspired my kids to give it a shot.
We weren't sure what to present so I told them to sing the books to the Old Testament that they memorized last year.  Well, asking them to sing was definetly pushing it, but they agreed to recite them.  They didn't quite have them memorized without the little tune, but they gave it a shot, and were very happy with themselves for having the courage to get up in front of everyone.

Here are the kids opening presents at the party with Rock's dad's side of the family:
(Again, not very great pictures, but it's hard to remember to get out the camera when your trying to juggle a baby at the same time!)

I love these guys!  They invite us over for dinner once a month (which isn't easy since we now have a family of seven!)  They are so sweet and loving to the kids.  I think my kids might be a little jealous when their aunt Brandy has kids of her own because she spoils them so much.  Their cousins, Skyler and Jayden,  are a bit older than them, but they still take the time to play with them and my kids look up to them.
We always have a good time over there.  When we were unwrapping presents, Rock said to them, "You guys have Karen all figured out!"  He was right - all fun, educational presents!

We went to temples square to see the lights, and, you'll never believe it, but I, again, forgot to take my camera!  It was awful with so many great possible photo opportunities all around me!  It was cold, but beautiful.  Favorite moments:
-We were coming out of the Joseph Smith memorial building and when my nephew, "Adgie" (from Florida), felt the cold wind he yelled, "Help!  Help!" and his mom bundled him up more.
-Ray's look as he noticed the lights for the first time.
-Sitting down in the Assembly Hall for a Disney toons sing-along and hearing Bud exclaim, "I don't really know these songs because we hardly watch any movies!"  Hooray!
A sister missionary at the Family History Center took our picture with her camera and sent it to me.  The "imigrant" look that the background was trying to accomplish was a little off-set by the bricks on the side and our heay winter attire, but at least we got a picture!

Maybe I'll remember to do a better job taking pictures for New Years.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Great Books List

We got back, last night, from our Christmas weekend at my mom's house.  I wanted to write about it, but I think uploading the pictures and everything might take me a while.  Since I have piles of things to unpack this morning and Christmas presents to find a place for, I'll save that post for later.  Instead, I'll tell you about my "Great Books" study plan.

I'm reading the "Great Books of the Western World" with a group of friends.  We're doing the 10 year study plan, but since we meet twice a month to discuss a reading, we should get through it in 7-8 years.  I look forward to being somewhat educated by then!  I've only read a few of the books, but I already understand many things much more clearly than before I started the study plan.  They're very enlightening books, but they are quite challenging.  Click here for my quick explanation of the "Great Books".  Click here for a much more detailed explanation by someone else.

I really like the way this study plan breaks up the readings.  For example, normally I like to finish the entire book once I start on it, but after reading Book 1 of Aristotle's Ethics, I was glad I didn't have to read Book 2 of Ethics until the next year.  It was really, really good, but it took a lot of mental effort!

Along with reading these books, I want to write short summaries about what I got out of them.  I've written a few.  I'll link them from here when I do.  I tend to quickly forget what I got from a book, or where I read a certain quote that I liked.  I think I'll get much more out of this study plan if I take the time to write a little after I read.

Right now, I'm on #12 of the first year.
(Excuse the formatting - sometimes when I copy and paste, I get spaces where I don't want them and then I don't know enough HTML to be able to fix it.)

Ten Years of Reading in the
Great Books of the Western World

FIRST YEAR (889 pages, or 81 pages per month)
1.     PLATO:  Apology, Crito
2.     ARISTOPHANES:  Clouds, Lysistrata
3.     PLATO:  Republic [Book I-II]
4.     ARISTOTLE:  Ethics [Book I]
5.     ARISTOTLE:  Politics [Book I]
6.     PLUTARCH:  The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans [Lycurgus, Numa Pompilius, Lycurgus and Numa Compared, Alexander, Caesar] - (Spartans and Distractions)
7.     NEW TESTAMENT:  [The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, The Acts of the Apostles]
10.  RABELAIS:  Gargantua and Pantagruel [Book I-II] (none of us could get through it so we discussed Mere Christianity instead).
11. MONTAIGNE: Essays [Of Custom, and That We Should Not Easily Change a Law Received; Of Pedantry; Of the Education of Children; That It Is Folly to Measure Truth and Error by Our Own Capacity; Of Cannibals; That the Relish of Good and Evil Depends in a Great Measure upon the Opinion We Have of Them; Upon Some Verses of Virgil]
12.  SHAKESPEARE:  Hamlet
13.  LOCKE:  Concerning Civil Government [Second Essay]
14.  ROUSSEAU:  The Social Contract [Book I-II]
15.  GIBBON:  The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [Ch. 15-16]
17.  SMITH:  The Wealth of Nations [Introduction—Book I, Ch. 9]
18.  MARX—ENGELS:  Manifesto of the Communist Party

SECOND YEAR (1063 pages, or 97 pages per month)
1.     HOMER:  The Iliad
2.     AESCHYLUS:  Agamemnon, Choephoroe, Eumenides
3.     SOPHOCLES:  Oedipus the King, Antigone
4.     HERODOTUS:  The History [Book I-II]
5.     PLATO:  Meno
6.     ARISTOTLE:  Poetics
7.     ARISTOTLE:  Ethics [Book II; Book III, Ch. 5-12; Book VI, Ch. 8-13
8.     NICOMACHUS:  Introduction to Arithmetic
9.     LUCRETIUS:  On the Nature of Things [Book I-IV]
10.  MARCUS AURELIUS:  Meditations
11.  HOBBES:  Leviathan [Part I]
12.  MILTON: Areopagitica
13.  PASCAL:  Pensées [Numbers 72, 82-83, 100, 218, 131, 139, 142-143, 171, 194-195, 219, 229, 233-234, 242, 273, 277, 282, 289, 298, 303, 320, 323, 325, 330-331, 374, 385, 392, 395-397, 409, 412-413, 416, 418, 425, 430, 434-435, 463, 491, 525-531, 538, 543, 547, 553, 556, 564, 571, 586, 598, 607-610, 613, 619-620, 631, 640, 644, 673, 675, 684, 692-693, 737, 760, 768, 792-793]
Vol. 33, pp. 181-184, 186-189, 191-192, 195-200, 203, 205-210, 212-218, 222-225, 227, 229-232, 237-251, 255, 259, 264, 275, 277-287, 290-291, 296-302, 318, 321-322, 326-327 (less than 83 pages)
14.  PASCAL:  Treatise on the Arithmetical Triangle
15.  SWIFT:  Gulliver’s Travels
16.  ROUSSEAU:  A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality
17.  KANT:  Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals
18.  MILL:  On Liberty

THIRD YEAR (1344 pages, or 122 pages per month)
1.     AESCHYLUS:  Prometheus Bound
2.     HERODOTUS:  The History [Book VII-IX]
3.     THUCYDIDES:  The History of the Peloponnesian War [Book I-II, V]
4.     PLATO:  Statesman
5.     ARISTOTLE:  On Interpretation [Ch. 1-10]
6.     ARISTOTLE:  Politics [Book III-V]
7.     EUCLID:  Elements [Book I]
8.     TACITUS:  The Annals
9.     ST. THOMAS AQUINAS:  Summa Theologica [Part I-II, QQ 90-97]
10.  CHAUCER:  Troilus and Cressida
11.  SHAKESPEARE:  Macbeth
12.  MILTON:  Paradise Lost
13.  LOCKE:  An Essay Concerning Human Understanding [Book III, Ch. 1-3, 9-11]
14.  KANT:  Science of Right
15.  MILL:  Representative Government [Ch. 1-6]
16.  LAVOISIER:  Elements of Chemistry [Part I]
17.  DOSTOEVSKY:  The Brothers Karamazov [Part I-II])
18.  FREUD:  The Origin and Development of Psychoanalysis

FOURTH YEAR (1448 pages, or 132 per month)
1.     EURIPIDES:  Medea, Hippolytus, Trojan Women, The Bacchantes
2.     PLATO:  Republic [Book VI-VII]
3.     PLATO:  Theaetetus
4.     ARISTOTLE:  Physics [Book IV, Ch. 1-5, 10-14]
5.     ARISTOTLE:  Metaphysics [Book I, Ch. 1-2; Book IV; Book VI, Ch. 1; Book XI, Ch. 1-4]
6.     ST. AUGUSTINE:  Confessions [Book IX-XIII]
7.     ST. THOMAS AQUINAS:  Summa Theologica [Part I, QQ 16-17, 84-88]
8.     MONTAIGNE:  Apology for Raymond de Sebonde
9.     GALILEO:  Two New Sciences [Third Day, through Scholium of Theorem II]
10.  BACON:  Novum Organum [Preface, Book I]
11.  DESCARTES:  Discourse on the Method
12.  NEWTON:  Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy [Prefaces, Definitions, Axioms, General Scholium]
13.  LOCKE:  An Essay Concerning Human Understanding [Book II]
14.  HUME:  An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
15.  KANT:  Critique of Pure Reason [Prefaces, Introduction, Transcendental Aesthetic]
16.  MELVILLE:  Moby Dick
17.  DOSTOEVSKY:  The Brothers Karamazov [Part III-IV]
18.  JAMES:  Principles of Psychology [Ch. XV, XX]

FIFTH YEAR (1566 pages, or 143 per month)
1.     PLATO:  Phaedo
2.     ARISTOTLE:  Categories
3.     ARISTOTLE:  On the Soul [Book II, Ch. 1-3; Book III]
4.     HIPPOCRATES:  The Oath; On Ancient Medicine; On Airs, Waters, and Places; The Book of Prognostics; Of the Epidemics; The Law; On the Sacred Disease
5.     GALEN:  On the Natural Faculties
6.     VIRGIL:  The Aeneid
7.     PTOLEMY:  The Almagest [Book I, Ch. 1-8]
COPERNICUS:  Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres [Introduction—Book I-Ch. 11]
KEPLER:  Epitome of Copernican Astronomy [Book IV, Part II, Ch. 1-2]
8.     PLOTINUS:  Sixth Ennead
9.     ST. THOMAS AQUINAS:  Summa Theologica [Part I, QQ 75-76, 78-79]
10.  DANTE:  The Divine Comedy [Hell]
11.  HARVEY:  The Motion of the Heart and Blood
12.  CERVANTES:  Don Quixote [Part I]
13.  SPINOZA:  Ethics [Part II]
14.  BERKELEY:  The Principles of Human Knowledge
15.  KANT:  Critique of Pure Reason [Transcendental Analytic]
16.  DARWIN:  The Origin of Species [Introduction—Ch. 6, Ch. 15]
17.  TOLSTOY:  War and Peace [Book I-VIII]
18.  JAMES:  Principles of Psychology [Ch. XXVIII]

SIXTH YEAR (1671 pages, or 152 pages per month)
1.     OLD TESTAMENT [Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy]
2.     HOMER:  The Odyssey
3.     PLATO:  Laws [Book X]
4.     ARISTOTLE:  Metaphysics [Book XII]
5.     TACITUS:  The Histories
6.     PLOTINUS:  Fifth Ennead
7.     ST. AUGUSTINE:  The City of God [Book XV-XVIII]
8.     ST. THOMAS AQUINAS:  Summa Theologica [Part I, QQ 1-13]
9.     DANTE:  The Divine Comedy [Purgatory]
10.  SHAKESPEARE:  Comedy of Errors, The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, Twelfth Night
11.  SPINOZA:  Ethics [Part I]
12.  MILTON:  Samson Agonistes
13.  PASCAL:  The Provincial Letters
14.  LOCKE:  An Essay Concerning Human Understanding [Book IV]
15.  GIBBON:  The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [Ch. 1-5, General Observations on the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West]
16.  KANT:  Critique of Pure Reason [Transcendental Dialectic]
17.  HEGEL:  Philosophy of History [Introduction]
18.  TOLSTOY:  War and Peace [Book IX-XV, Epilogues]

SEVENTH YEAR (1200 pages, or 109 pages per month)
1.     OLD TESTAMENT [Job, Isaiah, Amos]
2.     PLATO:  Symposium
3.     PLATO:  Philebus
4.     ARISTOTLE:  Ethics [Book VIII-X]
5.     ARCHIMEDES:  Measurement of a Circle, The Equilibrium of Planes [Book I], The Sand-Recokoner, On Floating Bodies [Book I]
6.     EPICTETUS:  Discourses
7.     PLOTINUS:  First Ennead
8.     ST. THOMAS AQUINAS:  Summa Theologica [Part I-II, QQ 1-5]
9.     DANTE:  The Divine Comedy [Paradise]
10.  RABELAIS:  Gargantual and Pantagruel [Book III-IV]
11.  SHAKESPEARE:  Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus
12.  GALILEO:  Two New Sciences [First Day]
13.  SPINOZA:  Ethics [Part IV-V]
14.  NEWTON:  Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy [Book III, Rules], Optics [Book I, Part I; Book III, Queries]
15.  HUYGENS:  Treatise on Light
16.  KANT:  Critique of Practical Reason
17.  KANT:  Critique of Judgement [Critique of Aesthetic Judegment]
18.  MILL:  Utilitarianism

EIGHTH YEAR (1352 pages, or 123 pages per month)
1.     ARISTOPHANES:  Thesmophoriazusae, Ecclesiazusae, Plutus
2.     PLATO:  Gorgias
3.     ARISTOTLE:  Ethics [Book V]
4.     ARISTOTLE:  Rhetoric [Book I, Ch. 1—Book II, Ch. 1; Book II, Ch. 20—Book III, Ch. 1; Book III, Ch. 13-19]
5.     ST. AUGUSTINE:  On Christian Doctrine
6.     HOBBES:  Leviathan [Part II]
7.     SHAKESPEARE:  Othello, King Lear
8.     BACON:  Advancement of Learning [Book I, Ch. 1—Book II, Ch. 11]
9.     DESCARTES:  Meditations on the First Philosophy
10.  SPINOZA:  Ethics [Part III]
11.  LOCKE:  A Letter Concerning Toleration
12.  STERNE:  Tristam Shandy
13.  ROUSSEAU:  A Discourse on Political Economy
14.  ADAM SMITH:  The Wealth of Nations [Book II]
15.  BOSWELL:  The Life of Samuel Johnson
16.  MARX:  Capital [Prefaces, Part I-II]
17.  GOETHE:  Faust [Part I]
18.  JAMES:  Principles of Psychology [Ch. VIII-X]

NINTH YEAR (Est. 1392 pages, or 127 pages per month)
1.     PLATO:  The Sophist
2.     THUCYDIDES:  The History of the Peloponnesian War [Book VII-VIII]
3.     ARISTOTLE:  Politics [Book VII-VIII]
4.     APOLLONIUS:  On Conic Sections [Book I, Prop. 1-15; Book III, Prop. 42-55]
5.     NEW TESTAMENT [The Gospel According to St. John, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians]
6.     ST. AUGUSTINE:  The City of God [Book V, XIX]
7.     ST. THOMAS AQUINAS:  Summa Theologica [Part II-II, QQ 1-7]
8.     GILBERT:  On the Loadstone
9.     DESCARTES:  Rules for the Direction of the Mind
10.  DESCARTES:  Geometry
11.  PASCAL:  The Great Experiment Concerning the Equilibrium of Fluids, On Geometrical Demonstration
12.  FIELDING:  Tom Jones
13.  MONTESQUIEU:  The Spirit of Laws [Book I-V, VIII, XI-XII]
14.  FOURIER:  Analytical Theory of Heat [Preliminary Discourse, Ch. 1-2]
15.  FARADAY:  Experimental Researches in Electricity [Series I-II], A Speculation Touching Electric Conduction and the Nature of Matter
16.  HEGEL:  Philosophy of Right [Part III]
17.  MARX:  Capital [Part III-IV]
18.  FREUD:  Civilization and Its Discontents

TENTH YEAR (1667 pages, or 152 pages per month)
1.     SOPHOCLES:  Ajax, Electra
2.     PLATO:  Timaeus
3.     ARISTOTLE:  On the Parts of Animals [Book I, Ch. 1—Book II, Ch. 1], On the Generation of Animals [Book I, Ch. 1, 17-18, 20-23]
4.     LUCRETIUS:  On the Nature of Things [Book V-VI]
5.     VIRGIL:  The Eclogues, The Georgics
6.     ST. THOMAS AQUINAS:  Summa Theologica [Part I, QQ 65-74]
7.     ST. THOMAS AQUINAS:  Summa Theologica [Part I, QQ 90-102]
8.     CHAUCER:  Canterbury Tales [Prologue, Knight's Tale, Miller's Prologue and Tale, Reeve's Prologue and Tale, Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale, Friar's Prologue and Tale, Summoner's Prologue and Tale, Pardoner's Prologue and Tale]
9.     SHAKESPEARE:  The Tragedy of King Richard II, The First Part of King Henry IV, The Second Part of King Henry IV, The Life of King Henry V
10.  HARVEY:  On the Generation of Animals [Introduction—Exercise 62]
11.  CERVANTES:  Don Quixote [Part II]
12.  KANT:  Critique of Judgement [Critique of Teleological Judgement]
13.  BOSWELL:  The Life of Samuel Johnson
14.  GOETHE:  Faust [Part II]
15.  DARWIN:  The Descent of Man [Part I; Part III, Ch. 21]
16.  MARX:  Capital [Part VII-VIII]
17.  JAMES:  Principles of Psychology [Ch. I, V-VII]
18.  FREUD:  A General Introduction to Psycho-analysis

Friday, December 25, 2009

2009 Christmas Card

Here is our Christmas card this year (minus the graphics - and real names because of my safety paranoia about the world wide web!):

 Merry Christmas to Our Friends and Family!

Please write and keep us updated! 

Here is what we’ve been up to: 

Rock has been busy managing a physical rehabilitation center. He has also decided to learn how to play the guitar. He's been practicing and improving quickly. He has also been busy reading classics in his spare time. He is a wonderful dad and the kids enjoy playing "Cougar" with him (a game in which he roars at them, they run, and he chases them around the house). They also like to play sports and board games with their dad.

 I've been busy homeschooling the kids.  We have a lot of fun learning together.  I also read as much as I can when I can find the time.  I have also taken up blogging.   Come to find out, I rather enjoy writing.  I have also been busy trying to find ways to help us eat a little more healthy.

Spice  loves to create.  She seems to always be busy making something - a picture, a poem, clothes or a hairstyle for a doll, jewelry, or anything she can think of.  She is also a great big sister to everyone and enjoys helping me with baby Ray.

Bud's new name is Harry Potter.  He read all of the books and walks around with a painted scar on his forehead.  When he was finished with the seventh book, I thought he would read something else and he'd start to get over his Harry Potter phase.  He read a couple of other books, but then decided he would start the Harry Potter series again.  He's currently on the third book the second time around.  When Bud finds something he likes, he pursues it with a passion!

Little Miss  has been drawing a lot these days.  She like to play with "shades" using a pencil and loves to play with colors to see how they work together.  She takes one of her stuffed animals wherever she goes and she is very kind to all of them.  She often reads book to Bazinks - those two love to play together.  They can play with little figurines for hours.

Bazinks loves attention, so he's always coming up with different tricks and things to show everyone.  He often says, "Look what I did all by myself!"  He's been trying to write his letters and he draws the cutest people.  His favorite game is "Hi Friends" in which he takes little objects, they become friends with each other, and they go on different adventures.

Ray is a sweet, happy baby.  You only need to look at him to get a smile.  He is a chatterbox and likes to play around making all sorts of sounds.  He learned to roll over this week, so he's been having fun with that.  When he wants something he twists his little hands and feet in circles.  He even does this when he eats, which is nice because then he doesn't grab the spoon and make a big mess everywhere.  He brings a lot of happiness to our home - none of us can help but smile when we look at him

Our blog:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Thoughts

I remember driving down a busy Baltimore street a couple of years ago.  I was stopped at a light and the kids were in the back playing.  We were listening to a local radio station.  Being "Mormon" I was in the minority when it came to religions.  It was December, so Christmas music was on the radio.  This song came on:
What child is this, who, laid to rest
On Mary's lap, is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

Why lies he in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear for sinners here,
The silent Word is pleasing.

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come peasant king to own Him,
The King of kings, salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Raise, raise the song on high,
The Virgin sings her lullaby:
Joy, joy, for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!
I looked around at the people around me - each with their individual beliefs, thoughts and worries.  Some were maybe listening to the same station I was.  Some may have not thought of Jesus for a long time - but we were all the same - in that He was thinking of us.  I was filled with love for all those strangers as I pondered on the words to that beautiful song.

That is what I love about Christmas.  The unity that comes as we are all reminded - through the music, the manger scenes, the focus on family - of that scene many years ago - when He, who had created the world and all of us in it, came down to be sacrificed.  Born in a stable, He was unnoticed by many, but not by God.  The heavens watched this pivotal moment and angels sung for joy.  We watched that little baby, born to be suffer for us - for our weaknesses, rebelliousness and worldliness.  How we must have loved Him!  How easily we forget!  How easily we get distracted!

I am thankful for the extra reminders that come during the Christmas season of that which matters most.  I love that beautiful baby born so long ago.  I love Him who watches over me, even now, and has gone through so much for me.  I know I could never be worthy of His sacrifice, but I hope I can show Him my gratitude.  I hope I can see those around me as His children.  I hope I can help them as He would want me to.  I hope I can remember Him more.

Here's a little video for pausing and reflecting:

Beautiful article I read earlier this week about Christmas (I highly recommend it!): Maybe Christmas Doesn't Come from a Store

Sunday, December 20, 2009


This post is part of my thoughts on how to teach the kids to work.

The other night, as I was tucking Spice into bed, she said, "Mom, I'm not a very good girl because I keep messing up.  I keep saying sorry for being grumpy and then I do it again the next day.  I just can't do it!"

I told her that she was making progress even if she didn't realize it and that as long as she was trying that she was being a good person.

The very next day I opened up the New Era to read a little excerpt from General Conference during morning devotional.  I came across these words:
"Sometimes in our daily efforts to become more Christlike, we find ourselves repeatedly struggling with the same difficulties.  As if we were climbing a tree-covered mountain, at times we don't see our progress until we get closer to the top and look back from the high ridges.  Don't be discouraged.  If you are striving and working to repent, you are in the process of repenting." -Neil L. Anderson
These words had an impact on Spice.  They had an impact on me as well.

I think all of us have days where we feel like our goals are too high, and our best just isn't good enough for what we'd like to accomplish.  I think of the schedule I set up for myself.  The schedule isn't the goal, but it is a means to many of the goals that I have for myself and my family.  Yet, I don't think I have ever had a day where I have stuck to it 100%  I haven't exercised cosistently in months (maybe I'll get back to it when baby starts sleeping through the night again!)  and usually we end up skipping something or shortening it because of lack of time.

I haven't been discouraged though.  I like having that plain, measurable guide to help me strive towards my goals.  I don't think Yoda's adage, "There is no try, only do" applies here.  I don't think "consistency" is always doing everything I set out to accomplish, but it's consistently trying and not giving up.   I think that is why I liked Machiavelli's quote so much:
A wise man ought always to follow the paths beaten by great men, and to imitate those who have been supreme, so that if his ability does not equal theirs, at least it will savour of it.  Let him act like the clever archers who, designing to hit the mark which yet appears too far distant, and knowing the limits which the strength of their bow attains, take aim much higher than the mark, not to reach by their strength or arrow to so great a height, but to be able with the aid of so high an aim to hit the mark they wish to reach.
I think my efforts "savour" of my ideal and I like it.  Slowly, we are moving forward and every once in a while I get a glimpse out from the "tree-covered mountain" and I see that we are making progress despite my many faults, failures and inconsistencies.

It is so fun to enjoy the little things in life, to treasure the priceless moments, and at the same time, know that I am moving forward as I consistently try to improve and reach for my goals.

Like my good friend, Diana, likes to say "Life is not in the destination.  It's in the journey."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cold - Weather Menu

I finally got around to making a dinner menu for the Winter. I thought I'd share it. The difference between this one and our Summer menu is that this one has more soups and in the summer we eat more fruity-type meals. If a recipe is on the internet, I'll link it (most of them are from  Feel free to ask me for any recipes that are not linked, if you are interested. Maybe I'll paste the rest on an upcoming blog.  We have started eating mostly Vegan, but I still use cheese and eggs on a few dishes. I just can't live without cheese on occasion!

These are just dinner meals.  For breakfast we eat a green smoothie with some sort of grain (oatmeal, pancakes, toast, etc.) and for lunch we eat Veggies or salad with left over dinner (if there is some), eggs, or cheesy toast. Sometimes I'll make a wrap from the left over dinner or some veggies we gave in the fridge.   Maybe I'll jot down my favorite green smoothies in an upcoming post as well.

What I do is make a list of 30 meals (6 meals for 5 weeks - on Sundays we usually visit family, eat leftovers or eat something quick, like spaghetti).  When we're through with the 30 meals, we start over.  I tried to keep it down to 24 meals, but there were just too many meals I liked.  Then I make a grocery list for each week. The grocery list only includes items I don't normally have on hand or those that we go through really quick and we need to replenish on a regular basis.

If I need to prepare something ahead of meal time - I wrote it in little writing next to that meal so that I don't forget. For example, I don't usually use canned beans so I need to remember to soak or sprout the beans and then cook them before a meal.  Sometimes I'll use the leftovers of something for another meal, so that is also in the little print.

Here is our list. Following it, is our grocery list.

Week 1
M:Pasta Primavera 1
T:Northern Bean Soup 2 Northern
W:Orange Salad   3 Northern
F:Veggie Curry  5  Northern, Rice 
S:Hawaiian Haystacks 6  Rice, Beans
Week 2
T:Spinach Minestrome 8 Garbanzo
W:Cowboy Caviar  9 Black
Th:Mexi-Bean Salad 10 Rice Caviar
F: BBQ Veggie Joes  11 
S:Chinese Fried Rice  12
Week 3
T:Enfrijoladas 14 Pinto
W:Lara’s Pear Salad  15
Th:Butternut Soup 16 rice, garbanzo
F:Savory Sandwiches 17  Garbanzo
S:Honey-mustard Salad 18 Garbanzo
Week 4
M: Enchiladas  19 Filling
T: Chili  20 Kidney
F: Stuffed Green Peppers 23  Chili
S:Black Bean Burgers 24 Soup 

Week 5
T: Vegan Split Pea Soup 26
Th: Taco Salad 28 Navy
F:  Artichoke Wraps 29 Navy
S: Tex-Mex Burgers 30 Navy

I print my grocery list on the front and back of one piece of paper and keep it in my planner so that I have it with me whenever I'm out and about and go to the grocery store.  Here is the grocery list:
(The numbers in parenthesis correspond to the meal I need them for.  This helps me if I want to leave out a meal one week or if I need to mess with it in some way.)
"-" means I can't usually buy it at Sam's club, so I need to get it somewhere else.
"*" means I can make it, so I only buy it if I'm extra busy or lazy that week

Week 1
Carrots (1) (2) (4) (5) (6)
Celery (4) (6)
Broccoli (1) (5)
-4 Yellow Squash (1) (5)
Mushrooms (1) (3)
Potatoes (2) (4) (5)
-Cilantro (2)
-Red Leaf or Romaine (3)
-Noodles (1)
Tomato (3)
-Red Onion (3)
-2 Oranges or Mandarin (3)
Cauliflower (5)
-Pearled Barley (4)
-Northern Beans (3)
-Sliced Almonds (3)
Canned Pineapple (6)
Frozen Corn (2)
*Italian Dressing Mix 
Eggs, Milk, OJ, Bananas
Spinach, Salad, Lettuce (3)
Bag of Veg (5), Fruit, Frozen Fruit
Canned Tomatoes (4) (5)
-Coconut Milk (5) (6)
-Curry (5)
-Coriander (5)
Week 2
Celery (8) (11) (12)
Carrots (8) (11) (12)
Tomatoes (9)
Cilantro (9)
Lime (9)
Avocadoes (11)
Corn tortillas (9)
-Artichokes (7)
-Noodles (7) (8)
Garbanzo Beans (8)
Lentils (11)
*Buns (11)
Eggs (12), 
Spinach (8), 
Salad, Lettuce
Bag of Veg, 
Fruit, Frozen Fruit
Diced Tomatoes (7) (8)
Ketchup (11)

Week 3
Broccoli (13)
Carrots (15)
Celery (17)
-Green Onion (17)
-Butternut Squash (16)
Tomatoes (17) (18)
Cucumbers (18)
Tart Apples (16)
Pears (15)
-Noodles (13)
Cheese (14)
Corn Tortillas (14)
Walnuts (15)
Salsa or Pico (14)
-Coconut Milk (16)
-Dill Relish (17)
*Bread (17)
Eggs, Milk, OJ, Bananas
Spinach, Salad (18), Lettuce (15)
Bag of Veg, Fruit, Frozen Fruit
Canned Tomatoes (13)
Pine-nuts (13)
-Garbanzo Beans (16)
-Curry (16)
-Lemon Juice (17)
-Mayo (17)

Week 4
6 Green Peppers (20) (22) (23)
Carrots (20) (22)
Celery (22)
-Red Onion (22)
Avocadoes (19) (21) (24)
Fruit (21)
Walnuts or Pecans (21)
Tortillas (19)
*Buns (24)
Cheese (23)
Eggs (24), Milk, OJ, Bananas (21)
Spinach (21), Salad, Lettuce
Bag of Veg, Fruit, Frozen Fruit
Canned Tomatoes (20) (22)

Week 5
Broccoli (25)
Carrots (25) (26) (27)
Celery (26) (27)
Potatoes (26) (27)
Red Potatoes (27)
-Avocadoes (30)
-Green Onions (30)
Angel Hair Pasta (25)
-Dried Split Peas (26)
-Barley (26)
*Buns (27) (30)
*Taco Seasoning (28)
*Wraps (29)
-Artichokes (29)
-Falafels (29)
*Italian Dressing (29)
-Green Chilies (30)
Ketchup (27)
Salsa (28)
Tortillas (28)
Corn (28)
-Bread Crumbs (30)
-Cornmeal (30)
-Navy Beans (30)

Eggs, Milk, OJ, Bananas, 
Spinach (29), Salad, Lettuce
Bag of Veg, Fruit, Frozen Fruit