Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Pet!

We are still apartment dwellers, so of course our first pet is pretty simple... We liked this fish bowl because it is more space efficient: it hangs on the wall above our dining room table (is it gross to try to eat while staring at a fish scuttling around above your head?) The name of our pretty rainbow betta: Yu Yu. Yeah, creative (it is the Chinese word for "fish.") Lo Lo calls him "mu mu" which is his sound for a fish, done by moving his lips in a fishy type of bubble blowing way.
Lo and I stare at the fish a hundred times a day, and he always begs to feed it by signing "food" then saying "mu mu" followed by frantic pointing at the fish food/fish/table that he wants to stand on.

The evening we brought home our fish, Lo Lo had a friend over and was SO ECSTATIC to show his friend the new addition to our home. Pretty cute. I have always been a big believer in pets and the joy they can add to a family.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Water water everywhere

Sorry for lack of posting/no comment posting/minimal emailing lately. Joint effort of me and that Lo recently resulted in a bottle of water tipping onto our new laptop. So now I get to type on a remote keyboard/use a remote mouse. Awesome. I think about a week ago we had a warm day and that Lo went outside in his shorts. Lovely pasty Ohio winter legs seeing sun for the first time in months. And yes I know his socks look trendy. Lucky kid gets a mother who knows more about...well, anything else pretty much...compared to fashion. Anyway, that Lo really enjoyed watching the melting snow water run down the street drains.
And yes, the snow is probably now gone for reals. There are a few "parking lot mountains" remaining where the snow plows piled it up, but I'm hopeful the sunshine will do its job. This morning we went on a walk and it was still cold enough to make our mittened hands freeze, but that was just wind chill.

I feel like I talk about the weather a lot lately on this blog. Sorry if it is getting boring. There are better pics/videos to come, but they need to get uploaded and sorted. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Crazy Weather

It has not escaped my notice that the first day of Spring officially already happened a few days ago. However, today is frigid with whiteness on the earth, yesterday we had freezing rain and hail, and the photo above was taken less than 2 weeks ago. I'd say March in Northern Ohio is more Winter than Spring.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Maple Sugaring

When I was in elementary school, I remember loving the books Miracle on Maple Hill and whichever Laura Ingalls Wilder edition that tells about the kids making maple candy by pouring fresh syrup into shapes on a pan of snow. It has been on my bucket list (pun just realized) ever since then to experience the thrill of maple sugaring for myself. And now our family is blessed to live in the ONLY region on earth to have the particular tree variety and weather that allows maple sugaring to happen. About a week ago we visited our local farmpark to see how the process works.
First, pound a hollow nail into the trunk of a maple tree (or a stand of maple trees, as the case may be as in the photo above). Then, drape a bucket over the nail. When the weather gets to that days have melting snow, but nights drop back below freezing again, then the sap will run.

It comes out of the tree as a clear, thin liquid. It looks just like water.

This liquid then gets boiled down to a thicker syrup. Pictured above is a "backyard" type of boiling process, but we also saw a larger, more industrial vat as well.

We got to ride the tracter-pulled wagon which that Lo loved. He smiled and waved to it as it pulled up.

It also happened to be a big quilt show that weekend, and this was our favorite one.

Don't the horses look just like that quilt? This horse-drawn wagon is the alternative to the tractor-pulled cart we were in. Lo seems to enjoy the tractors more than the horses. Which I do not understand myself, but whatever.

This was our last visit to the farmpark before our membership expired. Sad. But we will probably still go a few times in the upcoming year as a couple other families we know have memberships with guest passes. Let the mooching begin!

The horses in this video were pulling a load of freshly gathered sap.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Sorry no cute green pictures to post, though I did make that Lo wear his army pants when we went on a walk today so he fit into the neighborhood of green-attired children out playing in the lovely springy sunshine.

We have tried to incorporate a little Irish into our lives this month, so I bought our favorite imported Irish butter (from grass-fed cows no less--and so expensive we've only had it one other time since we got married), and throughout the past couple weeks at various occasions we ate green jello, soda bread, and more potatos than usual...including a tasty Irish Cottage Pie baked today. Hooray for holidays.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Drive-by Shopping

One of our local supermarkets has this car cart. Needless to say, Lo Lo enjoys driving his way through the isles. But MAN is that thing hard to steer. It is HUGE! Twice as long as a normal shopping cart. lol.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Of quaking countries and hearts

After hearing of the Japan quake yesterday, and also due to my recent reading of the Afghan history-based novel A Thousand Splendid Suns, I found myself mourning the state of the earth. Then I did my daily reading of a General Conference talk. As I recently finished all the talks in the October 2010 General Conference, Jerry suggested I read the talks from conference a year ago. The one I read after feeling my heart go out to all the suffering in the world is President Boyd K. Packer's talk entitled "The Power of the Priesthood." This paragraph in it seemed to jump out at me:

We live in a day of “wars [and] rumors of wars, and earthquakes in divers places.” As prophesied, “the whole earth [is] in commotion” and “Satan is abroad in the land.” He seeks to destroy all that is good and righteous. He is Lucifer, who was cast out of the presence of God. Against all of that, we have very positive feelings about what lies ahead.

Positive feelings! Against all the suffering on earth? I felt instant warming of my heart that I did not have to feel down about the Japan quake, or Afghan tragedies, or any other aspect of life's challenges. God is fully aware of the suffering on earth, and yet He doesn't go around with his head hanging. Heavenly Father is joyful because He knows the end result is tears will be wiped from all faces.

I think it is also interesting that recently General Authorities visited the Pacific saints and those in Japan and Korea. To me, the timing of their visits and messages are evidence of their prophetic calling. I remember while I was serving as a full time missionary in Canada, Hurricane Katrina devastated parts of the United States. One man we tracted into said, "If you have prophets on the earth today, why didn't they warn the people about Hurricane Katrina?" Of course, the testimony I gave seemed not to have swayed that man to believe our message, since he was in a contentious mood...but I have since then thought a lot about how much preparation the prophets do give us, the entire world, for help to overcome any challenges that arise if we will only listen and apply their teachings.

We are now less than one month away from another worldwide General Conference, in which living prophets and apostles will speak the words God wants all people to hear. I hope everyone will begin now to prepare their ears and hearts for that conference and make it a priority to listen. I promise as you do, the turmoil of the world will have no power to take peace from your heart.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Friends and Germs

I am feeling myself musing yet again on that parenting issue of how to deal with childhood illnesses. That Lo has a cough. I chose to keep him home from swim/gym yesterday. But am sort of thinking to go to playgroup tomorrow...and realizing now why some parents become casual about letting their sick children go out and about--because more often than not, children seem to have some sort of sickness and I am going crazy trying to decide what socializing to expose him to or not. We cannot stay quarantined for 100% of the times in question. I am starting to regard illness by degrees. Is he low-level sick? Extremely ill? etc. And his friends who are potential share-ers of disease: are they low level or highly contagious? And do I care if that Lo catches what they've got? aaaaah! I feel consternation yet again. This thing called parenting leaves me frequently humbled by how often I have to say "hmmm...I'm not sure what I think." I did a hypnobabies fear release session while falling asleep last night (Jerry actually loves that track and listens to it almost every night). I tried to release fears related to doing "the right thing" for parenting. I think it helped. Though obviously I still have insomnia, as evidenced by the fact that I am blogging this post in the middle of the night. But anyway I'm feeling more peaceful now. Because really that Lo is basically healthy, and we live in a part of the world with good access to medical care, and life has challenges like sickness and pain...but we can gain from experiences both good and bad. So I'll just try to go back to sleep now.
p.s. That photo above is a recent playdate Lo had with some neighbor boys. They have this little tent which Lo Lo loved so much, he kept going into their bedroom to sit in the tent all by himself. (the rest of us were playing in the living room). So we brought the tent out to the living room after that and Lo squished in it with the other two boys. All three of them stuffed their cheeks with snacks, huddled together in this tiniest tent, and it was a darling moment.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

love life and "learing"

I guess I'm about due for another blog post, but sorry I don't have any photos readily available since we are in the process of switching computers.  (the old one started having major crashing/monitor dying problems). 

Anyway, here's a quick write about some fun I had today.  A little bit like a journal entry perhaps, but hope that's ok.  Just sharing a joyful time.  Lots of laughters.  I am so blessed to be part of this most huge, important women's organization called Relief Society.  We primarily exist to serve others, but have a lot of learning and fun times along the way.  There was a retreat last night for Relief Society, and I had intended to just stay the evening and then sleep at my own house the rest of the night since Lo still nurses at night.  But then I didn't go to the first part of the retreat at all. Friday had been one of those ultra-busy days that seemed never to end, and as the evening wore down and it grew near the time for me to leave to the retreat, I found myself telling Jerry, "I don't need to go tonight...I'll just make a showing in the morning."  And the climate in our home suddenly felt so relieved and fun.  I'm glad I stayed home for the evening. 

Then, this morning I almost didn't even go to the retreat still.  I felt awkward making such a late showing.  But of course I was glad I kicked myself out the door; when I got there, my lack of makeup and undone hair totally fit in, and suddenly I found myself truly loving life.  I learned to make a candy lei (something I've always wanted to learn how to make ever since I saw other kids wearing them at my high school graduation).  And I probably won't explain it well, but here's one of the things we giggled about:

The hostess had strung a banner across her mantle that was supposed to say "love life and learning," only she accidentally left out an "n" so it said "learing." We were making eyes at one of the babies there, and the baby was acting shy, so someone said,"Well, who can blame her for being shy--we are leering at her, afterall."  And we all cracked up.  I'm sure it is one of those stories where ya had to be there to get the laugh out of it, but I still smile remembering. 

This has been a rambling one, probably more the sort of post that would have gone into my personal journal except that I happened to be on the computer.  Thanks for reading anyway.  Just wanted to say I am loving life right now and hoping you all take a minute to find something to smile about on this lovely Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Goal Update

I really like this new idea for me to do a public checkup on a regular (monthly) basis for my 2011 New Year's resolutions. I think it is helping me stay motivated whereas in years past my goals got forgotten more easily.

1. Daily Routine: not doing as much structure now as we did the first month or two. I think the different activities just started to get boring to me. Maybe we need some new ideas to try? We did start a gym/swim class per the suggestion by readers (thanks so much) and it is definitely a weekly highlight. I'm thinking of introducing an art time for each day, since we haven't yet tried playdough or a few other "crafty" things I think that Lo could handle.

2. Indexing: after that initial struggle in January, I was all set to ditch this goal in favor of other genealogical pursuits (such as scanning all the hard copy ancestral photos my mom has sitting around in shoe boxes and file cabinets). But then just a few days ago at church, our stake president requested we each make a goal to index half an hour per week. *sigh* So that's my new goal. Guess I'll have to figure out this indexing thang afterall.

3. Reading the New Testament: I am still enjoying it, though starting to think of using a study guide. Now that I'm through with Matthew and a good portion of Mark, it is starting to sound redundant. So study guide might help me keep a lively interest.

4. Daily Book of Mormon study: too often over the past month my only BoM study was the regular daily study with Jerry. I need a way to incorporate the BoM more into my personal study, rather than just random topic studies. Hmmm...

5. Spiritual Journal: going great. Missed just one day out of all of February.

6. Journal Weekly: yep. Did a few extra entries too.

7. Attend Temple quarterly: we tried to go in February, but Lo's ear infection kept us up all night the day before the stake bus trip we'd signed up for. We have scheduled a temple trip down into March--cross our fingers and pray it happens this time!

8. No refined sugar at home: ugh. I have such issues with this one. Sugar is just connected to the fun times too much. I made valentine cookies to hand out to some of our visiting/home teachees and church classes and neighbors, and of course I ended up eating my fair share of the cookie dough in the process. BUT I am doing better now having made this goal than I used to be a few months ago, so any progress is something to celebrate.

9. Daily talk from most recent GC: I still love this one, but missed a few days in February. I have noticed it makes me less likely to read the current issue of the Ensign, so maybe I'll try making Sundays be Ensign day, and the rest of the week be GC talk days.

10. Adding a goal to do strength exercises twice per week. At our latest wellness check, my numbers were good but the doctor said I could probably stand to increase my muscle tone. =) But Lo Lo SO enjoyed squishing my tummy fat. Now what will he do to entertain himself when my abs get hard?