Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
She is dealing with a bit of the cold. But we'll try to make it awesome, thrilling and as fun as possible. She is our determined, fierce, humorous, cuddly little princess. She is our sassafras, who knows her mind and has never been afraid to demonstrate her own opinions. She's also a momma's girl.
Last night, after we'd read books and prayed - she begged one more book at 10pm.
DD: Can you read me one more book? (places it in my lap)
QS: Sweetie, I'll read it tomorrow, right now it's late, and if you don't go to sleep your birthday won't come.
DD: Oh, my birthday. How about just one page?
She has the most unique way of winding down, taking a break, or just needing some attention. She sucks her left thumb, grabs her bibi (blankie) in the middle of the bibi with her right hand and twists the bibi around and around. The entire time her arm is stuck up high towards the ceiling. It is hilarious.
I need to go make some snickerdoodles for her.
Friday, September 25, 2009
You know that curse every mother puts on her kids when they are young? The one where "one day you'll have a child JUST like you?"
Well, apparently it really works.
I was at a volunteer meeting for Avant Garde Gal's kindergarten class. I had both of my girls with me, as did a few other parents with kids. All the kids were quietly coloring and I was relieved... until towards the end of the meeting my daughter and her little sister Dauntless Daughter started having words with this boy from her class. I'm going to call him Charlie (from Charlie and Lola).
DD: Don't be mean to my sister.
AGG: Yeah, I don't like you anymore.
Charlie: Then I don't like you.
AGG: But I like you. You don't like me.
Charlie: Yes I do.
AGG: No, you said you don't think I like you, but I do. So I don't like you.
Charlie: *stunned silence*
I was utterly confused.
QS: Mrs. FANTASTIC teacher, is this normal?
Teacher: No, but apparently AGG has a huge crush on Charlie.
QS: She does?
Teacher: yeah, I'm surprised you didn't know, she talks about him all the time in class.
QS: She's mentioned him a few times, but I had no idea it was a full-blown crush.
Teacher: It was so funny the other day, the other teacher and I nearly died when AGG went up to the other teacher, started rubbing her arm and said sweetly, "Charlie is so handsome."
QS: Oh great, she's not even a teenager yet.
I suppose I only have myself to blame. If you go through my elementary journals... it's just lists of boys... who I thought was cute. I still remember my second grade crush...he looked like Peter Brady with dumbo ears... his name was Dusty.
Then when I went to pick up my little Dauntless Daughter from preschool, her teacher told me that DD had a great day.
Teacher: DD had a wonderful day today.
QS: She did? That's awesome.
Teacher: She's taken a page out of her big sister's book.
QS: Really? What?
Teacher: She has a Prince.
QS: A what?
Teacher: She and Trevor (not his real name) pretended to be each other's Prince and Princess. They played together all day, sat next to each other, it was really cute.
QS: She's not even three yet, oh my!
So... I guess my husband has his hands full. I can't even find a way to blame this one on him. And I'm usually pretty good about finding a way to blame it on him.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
I'm busy making this day especially special for her... because she has looked forward to it all year. She is a bundle of joy, creativity, sensitivity, intelligence... she is our little prolific pixie.
I have much, much more to say and show... but for now... I'm going to go hang out with this amazing eldest daughter of mine who has helped me grow, and expanded my ability to love unconditionally.
HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY My Beautiful Daughter
Monday, September 21, 2009
This past Fri/Sat I had the pleasure of going to Time Out for Women.
My friend Suzie organized a small group... I've found she is one of a handful of women I am lucky to be living around... that the more I spend time with them, the more I love them. I love women who inspire me, who I admire, and who are genuine. I am very, very blessed.
We celebrated my friend, Kim's birthday on Saturday, who is of that select handful of women that I admire.
I have so much to think about...and so much more to write down. But these past few weeks I've been limiting my Internet time so I can get to the business of living...and learning to be more organized with both kids in school, a large amount of volunteering - and finding a balance with my YW calling...and my more important calling as mother and wife.
So for now... a few thoughts that when spoken at the TOFW conference made my soul expand and jump for joy at the truth that resonated inside my heart.
"Obedience is NOT perfection." (Sheri Dew or Wendy Watson Nelson)
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (quoted by Sheri Dew): “Sometimes we act as though we’re going to stay here on this earth, when we aren’t, we can’t and we won’t.”
“When we focus on the world we don’t see the adversary or the Savior. When we FOCUS on the Savior we love and see Him, and we’re able to see the effects of the adversary and safeguard against him.” - Sheri Dew
Kris Belcher - in response to people telling her "Heavenly Father doesn't give us anything we can't handle" when she had a second bout of cancer that removed the sight of her second eye. Belcher said, "Of course we're given things we can't handle, why else would we have a Savior?"
Kim Nelson - "Be kind to yourself... treat yourself as you would your daughter, or someone else's daughter. Because you are a daughter of God."
"Never Even Once." - Wendy Watson Nelson
Never Even Once will I... take a sip of alcohol, smoke, drink caffeine, wear skimpy clothing, compare myself to others, etc....
Never Even Once will I forget... to get on my knees and pray, turn to the Savior to heal me, remember that He loves me as I am, to hug my children, adore my husband, be gentle to myself, etc...
Thursday, September 10, 2009
I'd hit the gym for two hours, get them out of the gym play center, head into the locker room where our suits, sunscreen and lunch was stored...get changed, lathered up with spf and head on out to the pool for two hours of lunch and swimming.
Towards the end of this blissful summer routine ... we headed into the lockerroom to get ready to go to the pool as usual. The girls and I headed towards the corner where I kept all our stuff... and ran smack dab into...the back side of a larger woman who was proabably 60-75 years old sitting on a the bench with only a bra on. Luckily for us, it was the back of her.
Her derriere was spilling onto the bench. I immediately had these thoughts. Please, don't let the girls say anything. Of course they're going to say something. Holy H---, how am I going to handle this?
AGG: (as loud as can be possible) Mommy! WHY IS HER BUM SO BIG?
QS: (to the lady with bum) I am so sorry!
AGG: MOMMY IT IS SO BIG and FLOPPY! WHY IS IT SO BIG AND FLOPPY? (giggle)
DD: YEAH, IT'S A BIG BUM BUM (giggle)
QS: I am so sorry... I ...
Lady with BUM: No, no no... it's fine. It's actually refreshing.
QS:(mortified, but relieved) Thank you.
... I will remember to use that exact phrase when I'm sitting there one day with my bum spilling over. Refreshing... yes, yes it was.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
At back-to-school night we (Phantom, my hubby, and I) saw this collage of gingerbread men.
P (whispers while the teachers are talking to us): Look (points).
P: The gingerbread men.
P: Guess which one is AGG's.
QS: Oh my gosh - that one?
P: I guarantee you it's that one.
After the presentation we went over and sure enough, right on the leg was our creative daughter's name. She is an original.
We talked to her teacher about it and she laughed. She said a few of the girls had asked if they could put bows on their heads - but the teachers asked them where bowties go. Despite that, AGG still put it on it's head. I love it.
Also...I need to get a picture of this - they have a board with the kids' pictures, a hand print and then a picture the kids drew. Our daughter, has her dressed up as a princess, getting married in the temple. AGG is constantly drawing, imagining, acting... her energy level is stunning.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Having moved a lot as a kid... I don't really feel like I have a hometown. Perhaps that's why as a parent now, I hope to stay put for a bit so my kids can lay down roots. However, if my hubby ever gets a job overseas...we're outta here.
So... the closest to a hometown for me is either Oahu's North Shore or Kapalua, on Maui. For heaven sakes, my daughters' names are Hawaiian... I belong there - or so I tell my husband.
North Shore, Oahu
We like to stay in the condos in Kuilima. Traveling with kids, even on our own we prefer to have a kitchen, washer/dryer and the simple amenities of home, and space. Hotel rooms just feel cramped and not quite as homey. We always find great rates on www.vrbo.com
One of our favorite eats is Macky's Shrimp Truck. They used to hang out near Turtle Bay resort... but they've since moved locations. You can't leave Oahu without trying one of Macky's perfect shrimp lunches. The shrimp, the kahuku corn...and the fresh papayas, pineapples, mangos and lychee they sell. Oh my gosh I need to go "home" right now! We always end up going multiple times...They are wicked, good. They always seem to win the annual Shrimp Truck cooking contests. My mouth is salivating just thinking about it.
The other favorite, must stop, each time we're hitting the North Shore is Haleiwa Joe's. I am a sucker for all things seafood, and pulled pork. You can find such perfect pulled pork and fresh fish here. You'll also need to take a stroll through Haleiwa - it's a cute, surfer town - you can rent jet skis and other water equipment. You'll find you're all of a sudden in the midst of gorgeous sea turtles.
Kuilima is situated right near the Turtle Bay resort. So you have access to their great restaurants and the easy access beach. In fact we've really enjoyed Lei Lei's Bar and Grill off the golf course. It serves great food in a casual atmosphere, and the kids like it too. We've also eaten at their grill right off the beach - you can't beat food in Hawaii. Everything just tastes better, sharper, fresher... it could be the healing powers of the ocean air.
If you're in the North Shore you have to go to the Polynesian Cultural Center. We've been each time we've been to Oahu... because you simply can't find a better show anywhere in the islands. The PCC is also a great place to take kids. They've created villages for each of the islands, showcasing culture, crafts, customs, dance, unique to each group. I love doing any souvenir shopping there, because everything you spend at the PCC goes back to the students who work there, towards education.
Right next door to the PCC is the Laie Hawaii Temple where my husband proposed to me. We took our girls with us a couple years ago to show them the exact spot where my hunny sang me a song...and got on one knee, to my utter shock and joy.
Hanauma Bay is a fun manmade area to snorkel. The fish swarm right at the beach access around your ankles. There's also toilet bowl there as well. And you know that one of my all-time favorite shows LOST is filmed there. If you've seen 50 First Dates you'll find that Sea Life Park was the little place Adam Sandler's character worked. It's also where you can have a dolphin experience. We did do that, and it was fantastic. We love dolphins.
We've also found that Roy's on Oahu is better than the other locations on the mainland and elsewhere in the islands.
Our travels center around beach time and food. When we think vacation, we think relaxing ...and indulging. We've been enough times that we just don't buy souvenirs anymore.
We discovered Kapalua when we honeymooned here. We love this area because it's a bit more secluded than the rest of the island, but close enough to Lahaina. We like to stay in the Pineapple Hills area. You can find great deals again, on www.vrbo.com
The Plantation Course in Kapalua is of the PGA tour. Also on site are Sansei - a MUST for great seafood, Japanese food. Their butterfish in sweet miso sauce... well, I ended up ordering more than one - is melt in your mouth goodness. Everything there is perfection.
Just a few doors down from Sansei is the Honolua Store on the property. It's a general store that also sells the famous mixed plate. If you're looking to try, and you must, the mixed plate - this is the place to do it. Their menu changes daily, and the portions are large, and tasty. The mixed plate comes from the multi-ethnic diversity of Hawaii's people.
If you're looking for something upscale and gussied up, the Lahaina Grill is perfect. You don't expect a place of this caliber to cater to children - but they do. This is why I love the islands. You can treat yourself to a place like this - and they are totally chillin' with the children. Of course the food - mouth-watering.
I should mention that we loved taking our girls to the Maui Ocean Center. It's a small aquarium compared to the Monterey Bay Aquarium - but it is so worth it to take a gander through the center. I can't remember the name of the grill there - but there's a great grill-like restaurant right near the Ocean Center - eat there. The view is lovely, and the mahi mahi is so fresh. There's also a cute ice cream shop too - it has some delicious flavors, and treats to take home.
...had to go before I gave birth in Sept. we're a family of four...one of us is just surrounded by amniotic fluid.
... I'm hoping one day - I'll be calling Hawaii my hometown...and all those folks who think I'm native... will be right.
~Write a paragraph about a job you would do for free. Prompt: "If money were no object, I'd like to be a ______, and work in_______."
So if money were no object...I would love to travel the world with my family on an educational journey of history, art, culture, food... and write about it.
Now, who wants to pay me for it?
Monday, September 7, 2009
~Search through the drawer in your heart. Are there memories that shaped your self image? Write about a time when your feelings were hurt. Why do you think you still remember the incident? How does that help you understand yourself better?
I thought this assignment would be easy. I mean I've written a lot about the trials, lessons, hurts I've experienced from schoolmates, and such... I kept thinking, that if I wrote about those same things, that I'd be cheating. I'd be plagiarizing myself.
Then it hit me.
I knew what I should write.
But how? It still hurts.
I'd been preparing a YW lesson and was combing through my old journals.
I've often wondered why I've stayed strong to my faith, even at a young age, even when things at home were terrifying.
When I started reading through my own words I realized that I survived because at a young age I discovered that though unconditional love and acceptance weren't part of my family life, that God always loved me... even though.
God loved me even though I accidentally broke a ceiling light playing with my brothers. God loved me even though my brothers, thinking it was funny, purposely broke one. God loved me even though I was punished for my mistake, and then again because I was somehow responsible for the actions of my younger siblings. I was in elementary school. I knew God felt I was more important than a ceiling light.
Being betrayed at a young age made me realize that there wasn't anyone I could depend on. If the people closest to you can destroy your self-image and hurt you emotionally and physically, then who can you depend on? This affected my dating life. Even though I was dating someone, I still didn't trust I was good enough. I couldn't figure out why they would want to date me. I though it was a joke. My mind was sick. Thank heavens I met my husband. He made me feel accepted, just as I was, even though. Also, I think I was blessed with faith to stick through all that craziness.
I had the kind of faith that when people who are supposed to love unconditionally, and provide that safe haven, tell you how selfish, ungrateful, unworthy, evil... and then physically take out their anger on you... the faith that God loved me even though I didn't feel lovable right then.
It is because of that faith that I am where I am today. It would have been easier to become self-destructive and lead a life much more unhealthy than I live today, but I didn't. I didn't because of that faith. Faith stronger than familial relationships. Faith more hopeful than depressing situations. I've realized that with Faith I am stronger.
I have faith that God will help me through this. That He will help me heal. It's taken me 31 years to face the realities of my youth. So the scars are still raw. It's hard admitting an imperfect childhood, when all you ever wanted was a perfect Norman Rockwell like one, and when you're surrounded by what you think are perfect, lovable, giant Mormon family reunions.
Because of my childhood I am adamant not to do those things that I knew hurt me. I still remember how it all felt and I am grateful that I don't have a desire to do those things that made me despair at times.
I know I am not perfect. I'm pretty messed up. But I'm willing to reveal my weaknesses to allow the Lord to strengthen me. I have faith that if I turn my issues over to Him, he will make me something glorious. Isn't that why we're here?
My little Dauntless Daughter has been clamoring for a year now to go to school. She is attending the same preschool her sister did. Last year when we had to drop her big sis at school, it was like pulling teeth to get DD back in the car to go home. She would throw a loud, angry, crying fit, and try to make it impossible for me to buckle that 5-part harness for her car seat. Then, the enjoyable 7-10 min ride home, with her screaming bloody murder the entire way.
Yeah, I think she was a little ticked I didn't leave her at school with her sister.
So this year, before school we let her pick out a lunchbox and a back pack. Both of which are Kai-Lan. She picked out her first day of school outfit and could not wait.
In fact, there's about a 40 min lag-time between when we drop off her big sis at Kindergarten and her start of preschool. During that time she kept forcefully stating, "I want to go to preschool RIGHT now!"
When we got there her excitement seemed to come down a few notches. Phantom left work to see her off on her first day. When her Daddy showed up he noticed her mood.
P: DD are you excited or nervous?
DD: Um, I'm a little bit nervous.
When she realized it was actually happening, I think the reality of being away from us hit her. She did cling a bit... she was nervously adorable.
I'll admit... I was sad to let her go.
At the end of the day with Avant Garde Gal in tow, we went to pick up DD. We were there a little early, just the tail end of their snack time. DD saw us peeking through the window in the door and immediately her face broke into a HUGE grin. She ran over to open the door for us. It was magical to see her own her space and excited to show us how proud she was.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
You are a daughter of your Heavenly Father, who loves you.
He knows what you can become through Faith in Him.
Accept who you are.
You are unique. You are beautiful in God's eyes. You are His creation.
How do we forget all that?
How do we rationalize that away?
How do we justify our disbelief?
How do we lose our faith in Him?
How do we lose who we really are?
"You can’t live your life worrying that the world is staring at you. When you let people’s opinions make you self-conscious you give away your power. … The key to feeling [confident] is to always listen to your inner self—[the real you.]” And in the kingdom of God, the real you is “more precious than rubies.”
"Every young woman is a child of destiny and every adult woman a powerful force for good. I mention adult women because, sisters, you are our greatest examples and resource for these young women. And if you are obsessing over being a size 2, you won’t be very surprised when your daughter or the Mia Maid in your class does the same and makes herself physically ill trying to accomplish it. We should all be as fit as we can be—that’s good Word of Wisdom doctrine. That means eating right and exercising and helping our bodies function at their optimum strength. We could probably all do better in that regard. But I speak here of optimum health; there is no universal optimum size."
"Frankly, the world has been brutal with you in this regard. You are bombarded in movies, television, fashion magazines, and advertisements with the message that looks are everything! The pitch is, “If your looks are good enough, your life will be glamorous and you will be happy and popular.” That kind of pressure is immense in the teenage years, to say nothing of later womanhood. In too many cases too much is being done to the human body to meet just such a fictional (to say nothing of superficial) standard. As one Hollywood actress is reported to have said recently: “We’ve become obsessed with beauty and the fountain of youth. … I’m really saddened by the way women mutilate [themselves] in search of that. I see women [including young women] … pulling this up and tucking that back. It’s like a slippery slope. [You can’t get off of it.] … It’s really insane … what society is doing to women.”
"In terms of preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical, this 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." (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign Nov 2005)
The most beautiful women I know are natural. They are unique. They are imperfect. Sometimes when women are so obsessed with what's on the outside they forget to work on the inside... and that is not beautiful. No amount of covering will make it so.
Ultimately this outward desire for beauty isn't about one person. We each affect others for good or ill. Young ladies watch us. They learn what is "normal" from us. They learn whether or not they can accept who they are...through us. We don't have a choice in the matter - they watch - what sacrifices are we willing to make so that they can have a better story to tell?
One of my favorite children's books is a Cuban folktale - retold by Carmen Agra Deedy. In the story, Martina, the Beautiful Cockroach meets a few different suitors. Each suitor asks Martina the same question, "Martina Josefina Catalina Cucaracha, beautiful muchacha, won't you be wife?" The last suitor... a little mouse named Perez is her soul mate. I love their dialog:
"Hola, hello." His voice was like warm honey. "My name is Perez."
"Hola," she whispered shyly, "I'm Martina--"
"--the beautiful cockroach," he finished for her.
"You think I'm beautiful?"
The little mouse turned pink under his fur. "Well, my eyes are rather weak, but I have excellent EARS. I know you are strong and good, Martina Josefina Catalina Cucaracha." Then he squinted sweetly, "Who cares if you are beautiful?"
"Who cares if you are beautiful?" - if you have what is most important? We should maybe, obsess a little more about what is going on inside us, seek to cure it, improve it, or maintain it...rather than lust after a skewed view of "beauty".
Together we can let that divine nature... radiate through all our sisters.
(the blog homework tonight is private... this post was inspired by the positive nature of it...because when we focus on the negative we undergo frivolous operations.)
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Growing up I longed to step into the pages where Watch was the lovable companion to Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny. To join them in their carefree life in an old boxcar. I remember the joy to find that the "cruel" Grandfather they had imagined was really a kind man who would take care of my friends.
I remember wanting to run around on the prairies with Laura. I'd join her as the rotten Nellie always tried to put the Ingalls' down. I always wanted in a confrontation just to rough up Nellie a bit.
I felt Anne's heartache trying to fit in (CARROTS!!!), finding a bosom friend, and falling in love with the dreamy Gilbert. I discovered my own ideals of love young. I couldn't read fast enough of the Bronte sisters, Jane Eyre, Rebecca and my trusted friend Ms. Jane Austen. There was something so beautiful about a time when there were rules of decorum during courting. That there could be a man such as Mr. Darcy. That a book could let me pretend I was Miss. Elizabeth Bennet. For those of you Austen addicts - you must read Austenland. MUST. Shannon Hale is magnificent. I have no idea how she wrote an entire book about me, without my knowledge.
Oh Aslan... I can't remember how many times I've read the Chronicles of Narnia. I feel like I'm the fifth escapee through the wardrobe with Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. I read something recently that said we should read the Chronicles of Narnia at least three times in our lifetime; in our youth, in our middle ages, and finally, in the twilight of our life. Each phase we go though brings new meaning, new insight and life experience. I have loved sharing these books I adore with my own daughters.
I love beautiful imagery, rich meaning and old-world mystery. Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt is a recent find that I have been rereading quite often. It's a young adult novel, and while I am no young adult... except in my mind, it is a revelation. The language is rich and inviting, the story is moving and profound. It's one I will continue to reread and can't wait for my girls to discover.
For those of you who know me... you know I'm all about the food. While I've never been interested in visiting the land of my forefathers, it took Nicole Mones' The Last Chinese Chef to get me excited about traveling to China one day. The story is a mature love story. The food described within these pages is nothing short of miraculous. As an American-born Chinese gal (ABC) I had grown up with many customs that I just never realized as customs...and to discover that there's a whole world of people like me, is startling and comforting. I love books like this - that teach me, sustain me and bring me peace.
There is nothing quite like losing yourself in the throes of an author's words, in new worlds, and among familiar friends. Reading good books is something that can change you, bring you joy, and it is a gift to share that love of stories, with those you love most.
I hope my daughters grow up with fond memories of the books we read together, and the ones they will devour late at night, under the covers, by flashlight.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Scarlett sighed as her nose picked up the scent of fresh croissants, and artisan breads. Her mouth began to salivate as she noticed the smartly dressed waiter walk over to her table with her order of a croissant, and smooth, dark, hot chocolate.
She bit into the perfectly light, flaky croissant and made sure to capture every buttery crumb with her tongue. She closed her eyes as she savored the textures, flavors and simple pleasure of truly tasting good food.
She reached for her steaming cup of hot chocolate and took in a deep breath, allowing the rich aroma to wash over her. She blew a little air out of her mouth and then opened her lips to sip the rich, smooth texture of the dark chocolate. Her eyes closed again as she thought of nothing but pure joy.
After her luxurious snack, Scarlett left the outdoor café and sauntered to the town square to decide on a whim, where to visit next.
Instantly her nose led her to a small eatery with fresh basil, rosemary and sage wafting out of it's windows. When she walked in she noticed the fresh cheese, tomatoes and seafood stew the other patrons were devouring. She quickly found a seat and waited for service.
As Scarlett sat there waiting, she said a little prayer of gratitude. She felt so blessed to travel the world in search of the finest, most heart-warming, and flavorful meals. Save the souvenirs and the shopping for the other tourists, all she wanted to do was eat slowly, with great pleasure.