Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chapter 2: A Cold Front Moves In

Here is the second chapter of our bedtime story. Still working on "illustrations." I read it tonight to Sabrina and Annie. They are waiting to see what happens to Fannie tomorrow. I am not sure how many nights it will take to finish this story but I have to finish it for them before I do a different kind of post so bare with me ...
The Cave of Colors
Chapter 2
A Cold Front Moves In

The noise got louder and louder. Gradually the sky got darker and darker. It almost seemed that the sky was alive and moving. Fannie realized the noise was coming from the sky and the dark front moving toward her. As this strange darkness came closer, Fanny realized it was not a strange weather pattern but a mass of flying animals.

The animals came closer. Bats. There were millions of bats overhead. They came closer still. They started to descend as they came closer. The bats were close enough for Fannie to see each bat eye and wing. Fannie could not move. Fear had paralyzed her standing in the meadow with the four flowers in her hand.

Suddenly the bats stopped their approach and hovered in place, wings flapping furiously like hummingbirds. From the masses, four of the largest bats came forward within a foot of Fannie’s face. There they hovered, examining her. After an eternal moment, the largest of the four began to speak.

“I am Vladin. I am the Queen’s chief guard. Why have you broken these younglings from their mother vine?” the bat asked Fannie. Fannie was perplexed. “Youngling? Mother vine? What have I broken?” she asked.

“You hold the younglings in your hand small woman,” Vladin replied. “You have broken them from their mother vine and they will now surely die.”

Fannie looked down at the flowers in her hand and realized she may have made a mistake in picking them. “I … I am so sorry,” she stammered. “I just thought they were so beautiful and I just wanted to take them home to show my mother. I didn’t mean to …”

“It doesn’t matter what you meant to do,” Vladin interrupted. “You have broken the law of the Queen Illuminia Mathia. You must report to the queen immediately to be sentenced.”

“But.. but.. I didn’t know. And I don’t even know where she is. I want to go home. Please can I just go home?” Fannie pleaded.

“You are in our custody now,” Vladin informed her. With a distinct flap of his wing, a swarm of bats surrounded Fannie and lifted her into the air. Helpless, Fannie trembled clutching the four flowers in her hand as she was swept away to see the Queen.
To be continued…

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bedtime Story

Here is the first installment of a bedtime story. I read this to Sabrina tonight as her bedtime story. She is anxious to hear Chapter 2 tomorrow. So am I... (sorry no photo with this. perhaps I can get Sabrina to draw an "illustration" to go with it tomorrow)

The Cave of Colors
Chapter One

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Fannie. She had curly dark brown hair and bright ice blue eyes. Fannie was petite and willowy like a child-sized fairy might be. Only Fannie didn’t have wings and she wasn’t magic.

Fannie had one love in life. Fannie loved colors. She loved the primary colors, red, yellow and blue. She loved the other colors of the rainbow, orange, green and purple. She loved other colors in her box of crayons, black, brown, gray, pink, white. More than anything, Fannie loved exotic vibrant unique colors like the magical colors of her mother’s eyes, a golden green with flecks of caramel.

Each day Fannie took a walk in the woods near her house in search of a new color, a new shade she hadn’t seen before. One morning she started on her walk and came across a cave she had never seen before. She decided to explore the cave as far as she could see.

As soon as she entered the cave it fully illuminated. She turned around and there behind her where the woods had been was nothing but the dark emptiness of a cave. She turned to what had been the cave. In front of her now was a world of color and beauty as she had never before beheld.

There were no reds, yellows or blues; no greens, oranges, or purples. No, here there were colors she had never seen before, not even in her wildest dreams. Here there were colors without names. They had no names because no one had seen them before. No one had dreamt them before. They were undiscovered colors.

She saw before her a meadow filled with flowers and grasses. She was drawn into the fantastic colors of the flowers and she started picking them one by one. Each flower she picked took her further from the opening of the cave. As she picked each flower, she gave a name to the color of the flower. She named one Freshuia and another Peritwinkle. She named one Magmentum and another Turquette.

Just then as she held the four flowers in her hand she heard a large rumbling in the distance and the ground started to shake. She turned around and saw the opening to the cave closing rapidly. She tried to run back through the opening but she was too late. She was trapped in the cave of colors with four flowers in her hand and something noisy coming her way.

To be continued…

Monday, April 28, 2008

Down By One

Tonight we are a family of five. We have gone to a missionary hosted Family Home Evening lesson with neighbors and friends from the ward. We have played outside with neighbors. We are now tucked in and ready for bed. But something is missing. The crazy bright energy that is Ann Marie is noticeably absent from our family tonight.

Ann Marie is living large at a sleepover at Nana's house. They have had a tea party, made a book for each sister, had hot cocoa with lots of whip cream, and a bath with crayons to use in the tub. Now she is going to bed in the bedroom her mama used to sleep in when she was a little girl. Her voice oozed with excitement as she gushed to Sabrina about all her adventures tonight on the phone.

So tonight I want to tell everyone about my incredible little Ann Marie. She is an avid, self taught reader and is almost finished with the Magic Tree House series of chapter books. She is a perfectionist and loves to be in charge. She loves her sisters. She thinks of others and is always wanting to get presents for her family and friends.

She has a special love for her sister Camille. You can see in this photo how her hand is so gently holding Camille and her mouth is pursed ever so slightly in the "love her so much I have to grit" fashion that is common to her.

Annie makes me laugh. She loves "relaxing" baths and sliding down the stairs banister. She is a bit of a dare devil, jumping off anything she can climb. However, once in a while she just gets freaked out by something and she can't be convinced she is safe.

One example of this was our last trip to the beach. My sister-in-law Elizabeth is an amazing photographer and was able to snap these shots of Annie that day. These shots are miraculous considering how terrified Ann was of the waves and how she screamed and cried every time one came in regardless of her distance from the water. There was no telling her that the wave wouldn't come up and get her. She was terrified for her sisters playing near the water. Eventually we had to leave to calm her down.

Annie is my night owl pal. She is her most pleasant self when she should be asleep but can't sleep and is allowed occasionally to keep me company when everyone else is asleep. We read books together and tell stories. She is ready to help or please in anyway she can. Anything to stay with me in her wakeful night hours. I empathize with her genetically acquired insomnia. I miss my Ann Marie tonight and appreciate her in our family. She brings lots of "LIFE" to our little crew. So, tonight I hope you enjoy these photos of my little Ann.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Apostle Among Us

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum and the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presided at the Black Mountain Stake conference this weekend. The apostle was present to create a new stake, which pulled wards from both Black Mountain and Lake Mead stakes, and to call two new stake presidencies.

During the more intimate Saturday night adult session of conference, Elder Cook shared his experience of being called to the Quorum of the Twelve. He pointed out how in this interviews to select a new stake president, both the husband and wife were interviewed before a call was issued. This seems to be standard procedure in the church.

Elder Cook then read from the Doctrine and Covenants Section 118 verse 6, "Let my servant John Taylor, and also my servant John E. Page, and also my servant Wilford Woodruff, and also my servant Willard Richards, be appointed to fill the places of those who have fallen, and be officially notified of their appointment. "

This scripture refers to the Elders Wilford, Page and Richards being called to fill vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve. Elder Cook went on to tell the audience how he was called on the phone and asked to meet with President Hinckley. He said he met alone with President Hinckley and his interview was as the scripture said "a notification" of his new "appointment" by the Lord and a query as to whether he was willing to accept this appointment.

This was a unique perspective and in insight into the calling of a new apostle. It isn't the decision of the other Apostles as to who will be the next Apostle. It didn't even sound like a "calling" but more of a "choice" of the Lord. Many are called but few are chosen. The Lord truly does choose his Apostles on the Earth today.

It was a marvelous experience to attend this conference and hear the voice and wisdom of a prophet and apostle of the Lord. I loved his talks and the talks of our temple president. Hope you enjoyed reading one of the interesting things he shared with us.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Whistle While You Work

Many of the "Greatest Generation" look at the children of today and are amazed at how lazy they are and how little they are made to work. It is true that modern conveniences have taken many of our parents chores off our "to do" lists. My grandmother had to sew all the petticoats and dresses for her 4 girls. I only have to get online and order clothes for my 4 girls.

Still there are some chores that seem to never end even if they are easier to do now than 50 years ago. Laundry, for example. Laundry is really never done. Dishes are another continual task. And of course there is always a bathroom to clean or a floor to sweep or a mess to wipe up.

With cleaning on my mind today, I thought I would share some of my favorite tips on cleaning with kids.

Many Hands Make Light Work

This morning Jon and I woke early with the baby at 6 a.m. He drove to the church to help set up chairs for stake conference. Men were meeting there at 6 a.m. to set up 900 chairs. When he got there at 6:30 half the parking lot was filled and they had been done for 15 minutes.

Cleaning is Always Better with a Friend

As soon as Jon got home he and I started the massive chore of picking up and deep cleaning our whole house. I have to say cleaning is one of my least favorite things to do alone. However, if I am working with my husband or my family or even if I just have a friend over to keep me company while I work, I actually enjoy it. It gives me a good teamwork kind of feeling when my husband and I clean together. I also feel this way when I clean with my children and I think they feel it too. It is difficult to get them started cleaning but once we start going I think they enjoy it as much as I do. I can tell it definitely makes them feel self confident and happy to see their job well done. They also work best when they work in teams.

Our neighbor friends came to play with the kids around 9 this morning and I let them in as long as they helped or at least didn't distract. The girls were excited to have friends over and together they cleaned 2 bedrooms, the loft, a playroom and a bathroom.

A Spoon Full of Sugar

One of the first things I like to do when we have family cleaning time is to turn on some good cleaning music. I try to pick something the kids will like so they will be energetic and happy while we work. I love Laurie Berkner's songs for this. My kids also like to clean to the Disney greatest hits.

Cleaning Games

"I'm the fastest in the West" -- This is a game I like to play with Ann Marie. She has a competitive spirit. I start singing "I'm the fastest in the West and I do it all the best! I am just the fastest in the West." I sing this over and over while I start cleaning up quickly. She then jumps in saying "No you're not!" and she sings the same tune and starts to pick up also.

The Trash Game -- I got this one from Sabrina's first grade teacher. I tell the kids I am thinking of something on the floor and I am going to give them 2 minutes to clean up the floor. Whoever picks up the thing I am thinking of in the 2 minutes gets a special prize. READY SET GO! I do this for a set area of space that I think they can get clean in 2 minutes. I give a small piece of candy to the "winner" and we move to the next space. I try to make sure everyone wins at least once.

TV Breaks-- Sometimes if we are all watching TV together and the family room is a mess, I tell the kids that on the commercial everyone has to pick up 10 things. It usually gets the room clean after one or two breaks.

Hungry Monster -- The kids love to play this clean up game. It works well with blocks, Legos, or any other toy you can put into a container. You use the lid of the container and pretend the container is a "HUNGRY MONSTER" that eats only block (or whatever belongs in that container). Then you open and close the lid to look like a mouth and talk like a monster and say, "I'm a hungry monster! FEED ME!" The kids love it when you throw a burp in there occasionally and when you try to eat their hand a little when they are feeding the hungry monster.

Races -- Sometimes we have races to see who can pick up 20 things the fastest or who can get their room clean fastest, me or all of them working together.

Basketball -- when picking up dirty clothes or putting stuffed animals in an open bin we can play a bit of basketball.

After 5 hours of cleaning this morning, our house is finally clean and we all get to play! I am always looking for ways to motivate my kids to clean so please share your favorite cleaning games and tips for kids!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Here's the Scoop!

Thousands of mothers all across America have a new favorite obsession: blogging. The age of information has broadened the typical homemaker's horizon for close friendships and networking. Now a stay-at-home mother can connect on a daily basis with friends, family, and perfect strangers through writing their own blogs and commenting on others.
With this emergence of the blogging community, some have been reluctant to lay out their private lives into cyberspace for anyone to explore. One such mother is Stephanie from the Las Vegas area. "If I ever ran for public office, would I really want all that information out there?," she has been known to say. Yet she too has succumbed to the lure of the cyber neighborhood and has begun construction of her own home there.
"The benefits finally outweighed the drawbacks," she admitted in a recent interview. "I hope that blogging will give me a more creative and permanent outlet for my love of writing."
Stephanie's blog will focus on bringing a daily scoop to readers. As an ice cream lover, she hopes her posts will have as much variety as Baskin-Robbins. With post plans ranging from creative writings to hard news stories, Stephanie hopes her "Daily Scoops" will entertain, inform, and amuse.
Stephanie is the lucky wife of Jonathan, a hedge fund manager (perhaps there is a post in her future to answer the all too common question "what is that?") A former journalist turned criminal defense attorney, Stephanie has spent the last six years as a full time mother to her now four daughters, Sabrina (6), Ann Marie (5), Lauren (2), and Camille (1).
Her blog can be found at
Comments are welcome.