Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mom's Self-Report

Thanks to the many of you who have been praying for & inquiring after my mom. She posted an update on her own newly-minted blog a couple of days ago.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Start at the Bottom

I am a pretty awful housekeeper. I look on in awe of those who seemingly without effort have beautifully-kept homes with tidy children and look irrepressibly cute, if not gorgeous, themselves. I can only manage one out of three on most days, although somehow I do better for holidays or visitors (but even then the cute/gorgeous item is a lost cause).

But I'm going to post my rules for myself, because I need a place to go to help me keep on track.

1. Start at the bottom. I can get the rest of a room tidy more quickly if the floor is clear (& ideally swept, mopped, or vacuumed). It's very feng shui, I know, but I really do need to be able to walk without any sort of obstacles. And two minutes with the vacuum really makes a huge difference on how I feel when I walk into a room.

2. Clean things before they get dirty. I mopped the floor last night before it got black & so the mopping when fairly quickly. And looking down, I realized that the fridge door needed a wipe down even more than I thought it did & I had time to do it & all the other cabinet doors, too.

3. A mountain of dishes really will become a molehill if I clear the sink first. When I was growing up, there was a proper way to put the dishes in the sink to soak/get washed. But the sink had to be empty first. When I was finished, I was supposed to scrub the sink out with Comet. Due to many moves & several houses without double-side sinks, I've lost that habit. But when I talk myself into getting the sink clean first, the dishes only take half the time to wash.

4. More dishes: wash the weird/seldom-used items first. I usually leave these for last, but then they languish on my counters for days, even weeks, while I spend lots of time washing the items that get used at every meal.

5. Yet more dishes: wash the big things (pots & pans) next.

6. Laundry doesn't back log as badly if I wash the items that dry the fastest first. And then put the items that dry the fastest on the radiators & the items that dry more slowly on the drying rack or line.

7. Laundry also doesn't seem as overwhelming if I put the dirty clothes in the basement by the washer. When I pull a clean load out, I don't have to run upstair to get the next load -- it's already there.

8. (This is a new realization as of today.) Newspapers are great for cleaning windows, shining mirrors, & making steel appliances (like our oven) sparkle. Use the throw-around newspaper on the day it arrives. Five minutes in the living room (lounge), another five in the kitchen. Windows, mirrors, & stove shiny. I can do this. . .and maybe get the kids to help. (Lesley, do you remember how Cami would beg to wash windows because she could use a spray bottle & be on the ladder?)

So, there's my rules for myself. Nothing earth shattering. I just needed to write it down to make it more real to myself. If you've read all this, you are either really bored or else a true friend.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Parental Units

Yesterday Rose looked at Jason and said, "Da da da da." The classic I-feed-you-you-know-his-name-first scenario, I thought. I don't get upset about it, because I expect it.

Later, she was just burbling away and she kept saying, "Da da da" so I thought maybe her identification of Jason was just a fluke. But, perhaps not. I left the room and she came crawling after, crying, "Ma ma ma ma."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Politics

As I posted last week, I'm now a member of the Primary Presidency and so I was in charge of a Sharing Time lesson for the children age eight to eleven. About half of the children didn't know me at all, so I thought it was appropriate to steal a teaching technique from Jason: let every class member ask me one question.

Most of the questions were about life in America or what I thought of England. But I received a compliment from a mother in attendance with the question she asked. She wanted to know what I'd done to give Cami the confidence to walk into Primary and participate fully when we first arrived in England. Most of that confidence is innate, although my encouragement from babyhood to explore new environments probably helped.

But the thing that surprised me the most was when a nine year old asked what I thought of Barak Obama being elected president. And the thing that made Jason laugh this evening was that another child immediately asked, "Is he still the president?"

Friday, January 23, 2009

The World's Leading Expert

Our eldest daughter is trilingual. She speaks English (or, more accurately, Yorkshire). She speaks American (we often have to ask her to translate for us). And she speaks Camish. Linguists have yet to identify it, as it's only recognized by a small population and they all live in our house. But, as Cami explained to me tonight, "I know how to speak Camish because I know all the words."

Smell the Soundtrack

I was listening (via YouTube -- my personal anytime radio) to "Cheek to Cheek" while working in the kitchen. Cami wandered through and asked who was singing. I told her Jane Monheit. She then asked, "Is she one of the singers for Panera Bread?"

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

By Any Other Name

Nicknames are an important part of identification in our family. Cami is Cams, Cami-Girl, Camster, and Hippo. (Yes, she'll be in therapy someday.)

Graham is Bud-Bud, Buddy, Graham-Boy, Mr. Graham, Graham-a-lam-a-ding-dong, and Grambo.

We intended for Rose to known as Rosie, but that hasn't ever happened. Instead she's just been Baby Rose, until this past week, anyway. Graham has taken our intentions and put them into practice. He calls her Rosie-Rose.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Current Events

Our bishop from church came by yesterday morning to extend the calling of First Counselor in the Primary Presidency to me. That means that I'll be helping with the children's auxiliary (& Cami & Graham no longer get a two-hour break from me). After I'd accepted, Bishop Riozzi said, "You'd probably like to know who the president is."

Cami made us laugh when she said, "The President is Barak Obama."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, Blog

On a whim, I just looked at the iCaved post I wrote -- exactly one year ago today. Huh. Maybe that's why Graham's been singing "Happy Birthday."

Making an Entrance

I walked into a house today that has been under renovation for more than two years. And it brought back memories of a house I frequented as a child. In both residences, you cross the threshold into a tiny and crowded entry space.

I came home & told Jason how I had a title for a post. Because I was reminded that your first impressions when you enter a house influences your opinion of the house, its occupants, and yourself. When Jason and I lived in Florida, we'd only just moved into a new (and newly painted) apartment when some friends stopped by with flowers. Molly walked in the door & said, "I didn't know you were a color person. I am, too." Another friend walked in, absorbed the quiet of the cool green walls & said, "I feel so peaceful here. I don't want to leave."

I'm not writing this to congratulate myself on having an apartment that looked & felt good five years ago. And heaven knows my housekeeping skills weren't great & haven't improved with the additional years and munchkins. I'm writing it to remind myself that how I perceive others is strongly influenced by how they live; and that others' impressions of me can change by how they feel when I open the front door of my home.

I must always make sure to make an entrance.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Better than Expected

Thanks to everyone for the support regarding my mom. She called me this afternoon, heavily drugged and, therefore, pain--free. I read her the posting I put up yesterday & she said to thank everyone and, "I can feel the prayers."

Except for really intense pain when she moves, she's doing a lot better than expected. Healing & physical therapy will take time, but she's optimistic and says I should stay in England. Mom told me that her spinal cord seems fine & so if nothing impedes her recovery, she should be able to drive in 6 to 8 weeks. The vertebrae that was believed to be shattered is fractured in several spots, but not pulverized. When she called, she wasn't wearing a back-brace.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know. Thanks so much all of your concern & your prayers. Heavenly Father is listening.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Prayers for my Mom

Nothing is definite yet, but I may be heading back to the States. I learned about two hours ago that my mom is in the hospital. She fell through the floor/ceiling of an attic onto a concrete garage floor. Her tailbone is broken (although this is considered relatively minor) and at least one of her vertebrae is shattered. But, in typical Mom fashion, she fought to stay awake so she could remember being in a helicopter.

If you happen to pray, please remember my mom. And my sisters.

Thank you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Life is But a Dream

Our kids love to play "Row Your Boat" when they are infants. You have the baby sit on your lap, facing you, & holding your hands. Then you rock them gently forward and back while singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat."

Jason had Rose just sitting on his lap last night when she grabbed his hands and started rocking back and forth. He looked at me with wonder, "She's playing 'Row Your Boat!'" Then it was my turn to feel amazed, because she vocalized something that was clearly meant to be the opening of the song.

Just Because

I wanted to get some photos of Cami up, so that grandmothers & other interested parties could see her. Unfortunately, I need Jason's help to get the exact photos ready to post. So, here's one for the mean time. This photo was taken Christmas Eve while we were getting ready for Christmas Eve fondue. I found her playing with her hair in a mirror & had to get a shot.

Baby Face

Well, it was a nice sweater.
Chocolate -- yum!
Beautiful, bright baby.
Don't I look pretty?
Sweet sisters.

My wonderful mother- and sister-in-law bought me a new camera for Christmas. Thank you! I've been taking photos for the past month, but haven't downloaded them until today. So, here's a few photos of little Rose, showing off how big she is now (she started crawling on Christmas Day) and how my standards have lapsed (Cami wasn't even allowed to taste sugar until she turned 1.)

School Days are for Celebrating

Did you know that children in England are entitled to 15 hours of preschool education each week? Did you know that they become eligible when they are 2 1/2? Did you know it's taken me six months to get Graham ready? But doesn't he look handsome in uniform?

He's been the happiest little boy today. He didn't want to leave school, but we had a good walk home. He kept telling me, "Today was my first day of school! And it was Cami's second day of school."

When we got home, he didn't head straight for the computer. We played "doughnut shop" (a game of his own imagining) where he makes doughnuts for me, Rose, & himself. He took a bath. We read books. And he got his wish. After telling me for three days, "It's my birthday" and "I want a birthday cake," I made him lemon cake & Jason made the chocolate frosting. And to complete the celebration, he got to blow out three candles.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Breaking the Silence

It's been almost a month since I last posted. Holiday craziness got me out of the mode. But Cami & Graham both provided blog-worthy moments today.

As we were preparing to leave for church, I warned Cami that it was very windy (we've had gale-force winds the last two days), so she might want wrap up tightly. She asked how I knew, so I told her to look out the front window at the bushes. She peeked out & exclaimed, "Mom, the wind is hard enough to blow my make-up off!"

While Cami showed off her feminine (and imaginative) side, Graham demonstrated his sense of irony. I had to remove him from the church service because he took delight in repeatedly yelling, "QUIET!"