Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hallie's Cookbook

This photo was taken by Lex Logan Photography
When Hallie was just a month or two into kindergarten, she boldly declared that she wanted to be an illustrator when she grew up, and then she proceeded to spend all of her spare time writing stories and drawing the pictures for them.  In the fall sometime she decided that she had to have a cookbook to go in her "kitchen" so she sat down and wrote a cookbook.  It has 12 recipes in it, and they are actually astonishingly close - I think in some cases you really could follow it to make the food it describes.  I think my favorite thing about the cookbook though, is that she wrote it early enough in kindergarten that her spelling was still pretty kooky - and yet she stuck with it, writing, spelling, doing her best through 12 whole recipes.

Pumpkin Pie (Pupkin Pie)
Lasagna (pzoyn)
Cookies (cookes)
Fruit Salad (froot salldid)
Pasta Salad (psn sld)
Pizza (pesa)
Pasta Plain (postu plan)
Bread (bed)
Chicken Soup (chik soop)
Chocolate Peanuts (coklit penns)
Chocolate Cupcakes (coklit kupkaks)
Chocolate Cake (coklik cak)

I am really, really proud of this little girl!

This photo was taken by Everyday Adventures Photography

Pumpkin Pie

Hallie's Recipe for:
pupkin pie

flour (flawr)
sugar (shoogr)
spread in the pan and the pumpkin in the ovin for 44 minutes. (spred in the pan and the pupkin in the uvin foor 44 minis)


Hallie's recipe for:

Sauce (sos)
Pasta (postu)
in the oven for 66 minutes (in the nvirn foo 66 minis)


Hallie's recipe for

Water (wodr)
Flour (flowr)
Sugar (soogr)

in the oven for 3 minutes (in the uvin for 3 minis)

Fruit Salad

Hallie's recipe for:
Froot Salldid

Banana (bnana)
Grapes (graps)
Apples (apls)
Yogurt (yogrt)
Oranges (oornjins)*

*This one is my favorite attempt at spelling.

Pasta Salad

Hallie's recipe for
psu sld

Ranch (rach)
Broccoli (branck)
Pasta (postu)


Hallie's recipe for

Flour (fawr)
Water (wodr)
Knead. (nede)
Rest. (rest)
Spread toppings (spred topings)
In the oven for 29 minutes (in the uvin foor 29 minis)

Pasta Plain

(This is Hallie and Hanna's favorite thing to eat)

Hallie's recipe for
postu plan

water (wodr)
let it boil for 23 minutes then put the pasta in and 2 more minutes (let ti boel for 23 minis them poot the postu in and 2 mnis)


Hallie's recipe for:

water (wodr)
yeast (yest)
flour (flaur)
salt (solt)
sugar (shgr)
let it rise and put it in the oven (led it ris hap poot it in uvin)

Chicken Soup

Hallie's recipe for:
chik soop

Can of chicken broth (cun is cicin broth)
onion (uyin)
big pot and on the stove for 10 minutes (big pot and on teh sov for 10 minis)

Chocolate Peanuts

Hallie's recipe for:
Coklit Penns

milk with chocolate (mik w cau)

Pour the chocolate on the peanuts and let it sit. (por the coklit on the penwus and let it sit)

Chocolate Cupcakes

Hallie's recipe for:
Coklit kupkaks

Water (wadr)
mix (mikx)

Sit and in the oven for 20 minutes (sit and in the uvin for 20 minis)

Chocolate Cake

Hallie's recipe for

Coklik Cak

Eggs (egs)
Milk (milk)
Butter (budr)
The chocolate mix (the choktlt mix)

In the oven for 10 minutes. (In the uvin for 10 minis)

Monday, July 21, 2014

What They Say About Us

On Father's and Mother's Day the children wrote down what they think about us on a little questionnaire (someone wrote the answers down for them, really).  Some of the answers really had us laughing:

Here is Hanna's perspective on Devin:

My dad is 18 years old. (He's 34)
His favorite food is "brown stuff". 
My dad is so strong that he could lift a "big pot". 
When my dad wants to relax he likes to "lay on the couch". (Fyi: in 8 years of marriage, Devin has lain on the couch maybe... twice?) 
My dad is the best at "planting flowers". 
I love my dad because he "gives me kisses at night".

Here is Hallie's perspective on Devin:

My dad is 34 years old. (she nailed it!) 
His favorite food is "oats" (right again!)
My dad is so strong he could lift a "box of suitcases".
When my dad wants to relax he likes to "sleep".  (Again, I don't think they have ever seen him sleeping).
My dad is the best at "making oats". 
I love my dad because "he gives me hugs and kisses and reads to me at bedtime."

Apparently we should never underestimate the power of a dad tucking his girls in at night.

Here is Hanna's perspective on Amy:

My mom's name is "Mom. Um, Amy". 
My mom is "15" years old. (woohoo!)
My mom spends most of her day "working, washing dishes". (I hope you all believe her) 
If my mom were a superhero, her name would be "..." (I'm sure she gave the person recording answers a long blank stare) 
The best thing my mom cooks is "waffles". (I don't know that I have ever made them waffles. Pancakes, yes. Waffles, that's Devin's department) 
My favorite thing to do with my mom is "clean up toys" (Then why is it so hard sometimes to get them to do it?!) 
My mom is the best at "getting dressed". (See, I DO have a talent).
I love my mom because "I gave her 110 pictures".  (They do draw me pictures all day long.)

Here is Hallie's perspective on Amy:

 My mom's name is "Amy". 
My mom is "30" years old.  (She's off to a great start). 
My mom spends most of her day "feeding Hazel". (bingo) 
If my mom was a superhero, her name would be "Idon'tknow". 
The best thing my mom cooks is "lasagna". (I do make a killer lasagna) 
My favorite thing to do with my mom is "build a house with her". 
My mom is the best at "doing my hair" (This one almost made me cry - her hair is still a little bit of a sensitive subject with me. It's only been six months, you know? It still hurts.  The good news is that it is almost long enough to do a braid again.) 
I love my mom because "she's nice".

Thanks girls, we love you too!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hay Ride with my Actual Sister

We were in Northern Michigan for a variety of reasons: family reunion, wedding, camping trip, and most of all because: Northern Michigan itself is reason enough.

We heard about hay rides being offered, so we gathered up the children, my four, my sister's three, and my brother's two, and off we went.  We climbed up the little ladder and settled ourselves and the children on the hay bales, trying to find the optimum adult to child ration to ensure that no one would slip between the wooden planks and fall off the tractor.  Because naturally that kind of incident would not have been in the spirit of the outing.

I noticed, in the way you do when you notice things, that the driver of the tractor was a young, good looking person, in that age where they are sort of lost between man and boy.  He was probably about halfway through college, working in the summers to pay his next semesters' tuition.  I was also quick to observe that the person helping us get onto the trailer bed, the one who read us the safety instructions, and then the one who sat on the hay bale in the back was a very young, pretty blonde who was in that similar stage in life, hovering between girl and woman.

My sister and I situated ourselves next to each other, our children all nestled here and there about.  The tractor engine started up and off we went, the hum of the motor a gentle purring in our ears.  We bumped along first the road, then the trail in silence as we gazed out at the trees and sky and breathed in the deliciousness of the fresh Lake Michigan air.  My thoughts began to wander, and I sighed, because life was so lovely at that moment.  I leaned over to my sister, wanting to share in it with her.

"You know, sometimes when I am in situations like this, in moments like this, I just can't help but start to think, and I wonder if,"  here I paused, suddenly unsure of how to continue, how to say what I wanted to say.

She picked up where I left off, "I know what you mean, like it wasn't that long ago that we were little and sitting in hay rides like this, and where has the time gone? And how can we help our children appreciate it more while they are still young?"

I nodded my head slowly, very slowly.  "Yes, yes, that too.  But I was actually thinking more along the lines of wouldn't it be so romantic if the driver and the girl back there were both secretly in love with each other, but neither one knew about the other and they sit on this tractor ride after ride, day after day, wondering, hoping, dreaming, never knowing that the other feels the same way?"  I sighed again.

And then we both started laughing our heads off.

"But really, yours was good too." I said to her when the laughter had quieted.

In a nutshell, I think that showcases pretty well the difference between my sister and I.

Friday, July 18, 2014

My Twin Sister

A few days ago I posted about Hazel's "twin" sister, and today I thought I'd show you long lost photos of my little known about twin sister.  I miss that girl sometimes, you know? We had good times together, really good times.

Admit it: You miss her too.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Happy Birthday Mom

Happy Birthday Mom!

Tonight after I put the girls in bed I found myself in kind of a funk.

Honestly, I was in kind of a funk all day.

You know, one of those days where you feel an itch on your shoulder in that spot you can't quite catch except you feel the itch not physically, but emotionally?

You are angry, and sad, and unhappy but you know you have no reason to be any of those things, and it makes you feel worse?

And you know that part of it is because you keep forgetting everything that is important - appointments to make, appointments to keep, things to get in the mail, insurance papers to figure out,  - I didn't ever feed my kids lunch today.  When they got hungry I told them to go eat some birthday cake, and then Hallie said, "But mom, we have to have lunch first!"

So I said, "Well, today is backwards day. We'll eat lunch in a minute after you eat your birthday cake."

But then I never made them lunch.  When I called them in from the backyard for dinner, Hallie said, "Oh! Is it lunchtime now?"

And then the night just spiraled downward from there, and the bad feelings started making me have somewhat of a stomachache (don't tell me it was too much birthday cake and not enough lunch, ok?)

I cleaned up the house, did the dishes, reorganized some things, all the while trying not to feel so angry at my kids for the messes they make in the house and the resultant chaos in my brain - and I stumbled upon some old pictures.  The first one on top was a picture of you and dad, on the day you dropped me off at Purdue.



All the bad feelings inside disappeared as I looked through the lens of time at your two smiling faces.  I thought back through all the years that had led up to me growing and going to college, all the good times and the bad times and the million times that were just somewhere in between.

I thought about all the years since that day when you dropped me off at college, all the million moments since then that have been good and bad and somewhere in between.  Finally, the things I've been telling myself all night about how I've really got it good began to penetrate the fog of grouchy that has been swirling like a thundercloud over me all day.

I have four beautiful baby girls sleeping quietly in their beds upstairs.  Although, actually, one or two of them may or may not be on the floor, because that's their new thing now.  Not sure why, but they prefer to sleep on the floor.  I'm sure it's just a phase.

They seem so busy and little and in my face right now, and sometimes I am desperate for space to breathe and think and not have tiny little pieces of cut up paper all over my house from their "projects".  But you know, nearly every single one of those projects says, "Mom.  I love you." and is signed by whichever artist made it.  Heather's, of course, are just full of scribbles, and when you ask her what it says, she usually tells you "t   h   spells yay!"  That works too.

Anyway, Happy Birthday Mom.  I love you.  I miss you. Thanks for taking such good care of me.
 In Mexico.  Not sure why we took a picture with this man.

This is at Senior awards night for soccer.
I'm not really sure why we all have such weird looks on our faces.  
What are we looking at?

Almost Twins

I was looking through my pictures last night and came across this old family picture.  Sometimes people ask who I think Hazel looks like, and I don't know if I think she looks much like me or Devin, yet, but I'll tell you that she is the spitting image of Hanna at her age.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Faith and Doubts and Authenticity

I went for a run this evening, in the rain, which is sort of the most magical experience you can have, almost, probably.  You know what I mean.

And I felt good, my body and me, we were on the same page for the first time in - I don't even know how to calculate how long.  I keep thinking that I won't know what to do with myself next summer, because for the past 8 solid years every single summer I have either been pregnant or had a newborn, and next summer it's just going to be me.  (I mean, you know, who knows?) Sure, I'll have four little monkeys running around and through, but my body will be mine.

There I am, running, and thinking about what a great thing this body of mine really is, how good it feels to move and a song by Imagine Dragons came up, the one called "It's Time".  A couple lines caught my attention.  "I'm just the same as I was, now don't you understand, that I'm never changing who I am."

The thing is, a person's ability to change is sort of like the mantra of my life.  I have made many changes throughout my life as I have tried hard to overcome the crippling shyness of my childhood and the social awkwardness of my teens.  I have to acknowledge that people can, and do, change.

The trick is, though, that I have always thought that I was in complete control of how and when I changed.  I arrogantly believed that I chose how and where I changed who I am.  But as I was running, and listening to that song, I saw two sides of this coin.

On the one hand, there are some changes that we can choose to make, there are some that we do not choose - they are dictated by our circumstances and experiences.   I always proclaimed that I would be the same parent to all my children, but I see now that it is flat out impossible. I simply cannot, no matter how much I would like to, be the same parent to Hazel that I was to Hallie.  I have three other kids now pulling on me in every direction that I did not have when Hallie was a baby. And sure, sure I could absolutely ignore the other three and give all my focus and attention to Hazel in the same way that Hallie had, but if you were to go back six years and insert three kids, then the me that I was then would NOT have ignored those other children, so even ignoring them is a change from the person I was then.  Do you see what I'm saying here?  It's simply not possible for me to be the same person to Hazel that I was to Hallie.

That said, what I really felt most strongly inside as I was running is that I am still me.  That the soul inside my body, the voice in my head that thinks my thoughts, and the heart beating inside me that loves the people I love, that is still the same.  Perhaps I am dressing that soul differently these days, on superficial levels like the fact that for the first time in 30 years I am eating olives, and I like them.  Not only do I eat them, I willingly put them in my food.  There are changes on deeper levels as well, the levels that are harder to explore and explain, but are felt down in the core of a person.  It seems to me that my personality, the way I laugh, the stories I choose to tell, the clothes I choose to wear, the music I listen to, the manner in which I choose to worship - those are the varied adornments I use to cover my soul, to showcase it to the world.  No matter how I dress it though, that soul that lives inside me is me.  It is me, mine, myself.  I own it, and I own the choices it makes.

I guess the key to owning ourselves as we change is to remember that even if we change the covering with which we present ourselves, we carry inside the self we are trying to leave behind.  We change, but we do not change.

I like to have pretty fingernails and sometimes even put on makeup.  Not only that, but I wear clothes that fit me and are made for women, instead of borrowing the clothes from my older brother;s closet. As I am doing those things and thinking about being "pretty", I actually do sometimes nod my head to the mirror, in acknowledgment to the 14 year old girl who is dying inside because "pretty" was anathema to her.  I am me, and she is the me I was, and we are all here together.

Over the past year or so I have started reading some blogs that are written by people who are discontented with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  They talk often about authenticity, and living with integrity, and being true to who they really are.  I read these blogs mostly in hopes of gaining a better understanding for the family and friends I have that have left the church.  My heart aches for them as I read about the pain they feel, the sorrow and disappointment in what in many cases they still feel is their faith, their gospel, even though they no longer worship in the same formal way.  I thought about myself, and the changes I have made throughout my life in who I am, and the authenticity with which I live my life.  That olives or no olives, I am still me, myself, mine.  And these people who write these blogs, and my own friends and family members that I am trying to understand - they are merely trying to find that same ownership over themselves.

As I ran through the rain, I thought, Do I love these people less because they have left their faith, my faith?  No, of course not. 

Then I thought, Do I love them more? And yes, I think I do.

Not in all cases, but some of the individuals I know that have left the church have opened themselves up to explain why they have done so.  In doing so, they have allowed others, myself, to see their pain and anguish.  When someone opens their soul up so fully, and you see what they feel so clearly, how can you not love them more? 

Do I wish that they had found a way to stay in the church and be happy? Of course I do, or I would not believe in that faith myself. 

Am I going to distance myself from them, because they have left? Of course not.

I have many friends of other faiths, and people who have no proclaimed faith.  If I can be friends with them who never came close to touching the Mormon church, of course I can be friends with people who have left the church.  I hope to be there for the laughs and the good times in the future.  I hope I can provide a comforting shoulder in the sad times, and I hope that if it is possible, when it is time for them to leave this life, many, many, many years from now, that I will be there to give them one last hug and to say goodbye.

I hope that I will be able to go to the funeral, and visit the grave.  I hope that I will be able to leave flowers and comfort their other loved ones.  I don't know where those people will go after they pass away, but I'm not worried about it.  I will leave it to God to take care of that part, and I will just focus on being a friend in this life.

Because my friends if there is one thing I know about your true, authentic soul, it is that it is beautiful.  My friends inside the church and out, lifelong members and those who have walked away, you are good and kind and loving and strong and that is what is important to me in this life.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Anti-Joke Chicken

I just discovered the anti-joke chicken, thanks to my sister.  Some are weird, some are lame, but some are spot on hilarious.  Of course I wanted to make one. Here's mine.

If you know who Eli McCann is, you'll understand what I'm trying to say here.

Friday, July 4, 2014

George Washington

I found an essay I wrote when I was eleven for my Social Studies class.  In it, I wrote what I thought George Washington might have said in his inaugural speech.  Now I don't mean to brag about my eleven year old self or anything, but I can totally see why I got an A+ on the assignment.

"Dear Fellow Americans,
I feel proud to have the honor to be your first President.  I pray that God will give me wisdom to lead this new nation even as if I were Solomon of old.  May my conduct always show the great love I have in my heart for our growing country. 

With the Articles of Confederation, a new freedom was born.  We learned that to keep this freedom the states must work together.  Let us unite in praising Heaven for guiding the hands and minds of the honorable men who framed the constitution.  I know that the Supreme Ruler of all nations stood at the loom to insure that the fabric of the constitution would bear his design.  We, the citizens of these 11 states and territories, are the threads in the tapestry of our beloved country. 

Through the sacrifice of many people we have formed a more perfect union.  As we fought for independence, I saw many selfless acts of courage.  We must remember those who fought for liberty.  Governor Morris is appreciated for drafting the words of the Constitution.  Those inspired words will live through time and separate us as a nation wrought by the hand of God, to be sovereign as we remember Him. 

I would also like to thank James Madison for keeping a record of the proceedings of the debates, and suggesting amendments that protect our personal rights.  With these rights, we and our children can enjoy the blessings of liberty. 

As your President, I will do everything in my power and ask for necessary guidance from God, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.  May God make us wise and honest men with desires for our country's future prosperity and peace.  Amen."

Happy Independence Day!