Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A housekeeping note

In the past week or two, I have posted about activities that happened prior to our move: Enna's birthday, an aquarium visit, and Finn's birthday.  I back-posted them so that would be in the appropriate place chronologically.  However, this also means that they will not show up in any feed reader.  (At least, they don't show up in mine.)  So, if you are interested in viewing these particular posts, click on over to the ol' blog and scroll down.  Luckily, you don't have to scroll very far as I have not been super prolific.

Friday, May 6, 2016

A Mountain is Moving Part II: The Job

After a year of sort of looking at job openings and then another year of serious looking, three potential jobs (with the right locations and qualifications) suddenly appeared around Thanksgiving of last year.  The locations were Ohio, Utah, and Washington.  Mr. F applied to all three.......and then we didn't hear back about any of them for two months.  (Normal?  Who knows, but it wasn't exactly confidence inducing.)  At the end of January, Mr. F. was contacted by two of those jobs for phone interviews: Utah and Washington.  This was even more promising!  However, as Mr. F. repeatedly reminded me, we didn't want to get our hopes up since government personnel are required to post jobs and hold interviews for positions despite already having a person cherry-picked for the job.

Well, Mr. F. might have been able to play it cool and not obsessively think about possibilities, but I couldn't.  To play it safe, I should not hope.  Hoping would have me "flying on the wings of anticipation," but then I would plummet into the "depths of despair" if it didn't work out.  That was my inclination: to play safe.  However, another part of me told me I should hope.  That hoping for something so awesome, would show faith.  Faith that God would answer our prayers.  Faith that he had a plan for our family.  To play it safe, or to be daring?  Those were my options.

When considering a move, I tried to be open minded about where we would end up.  Ultimately, it didn't matter as long as it was best for our family.  I really did try to set my will aside.  But man, did I have a preference!  I grew up in Washington state, and I will always consider the Pacific Northwest to be my home.  It is the most beautiful and diverse place in the whole country.  I have kicked myself for leaving, not knowing how good I had it.  (Although ultimately, life progressed in its intended way.)  And when considering the two potential locations, I honestly did feel better about Washington vs. Utah.  My sister said I was biased, and that may have been the case, but I also think I could have been convinced if I had felt a different prompting.

So, I decided to be daring.  I opened my heart up to the possibility of something awesome: to be able to live in a place that I loved.  I poured all my hope into moving back to Washington.  I started envisioning a life there.  I investigated cities, houses, and public library systems.  I contacted my former college roommates--people who would all live less than a two hour drive from our new home.  I told them to pray, wish, send out positive vibes to whatever Being they believed in.   It was frightening, to hope so much for something, and to be open about it.

And it happened.  Mr. F. was offered and took the job in Washington state!  I was heading home!  I was dumbstruck.


Of course it wasn't smooth sailing, you know that right?  To be continued........

Friday, March 25, 2016

Finn turns six!

I knew about a month before Finn's birthday that it was not going to fall at an auspicious time.  Either we would have just moved, or be moving, or just about to move.  It turns out his birthday was Friday and the moving truck came Monday.  I held off packing up most of the kitchen until Saturday so that we would have the essential items to pull off his birthday requests: pancakes for breakfast, hamburger soup for dinner, and pumpkin pie for dessert.

A few days before his birthday, the kids and I met up with some other homeschooling moms at a local park.  There were a number of boys Finn's age playing that Finn knew from other activities.  They were engaged in some sort of imaginative game where one group were knights and the others were robots.  They ran around chasing each other, fake fighting, and trying to capture castles.  Finn desperately wanted to play, but felt inhibited because he didn't know the rules or what was involved.  (Surprise child!  There are no rules in this sort of play!)  He came to me a couple of times crying that there was no one to play with.  To be honest, I was stressed, exhausted, and experiencing a period of low-thyroid so I acted with less empathy than I should.  I said something to the effect of, "There are a number of kids here, just ask if you can play with them."  The second time I might of stated, "Ask them how to play the game."  And then I might have just thrown out of frustrated, "just go play and leave me alone," the third time he came to me upset.  Luckily, a number of the moms had boys of a similar nature and were not as exhausted as myself.  They made a point of asking their sons if Finn could play with them, and to explain how the game worked.  Things resolved themselves, and Finn had one of the best times at the park, ever!  He couldn't stop talking about the game and how fun it was.

Finn spent the next week creating shields (from the bottom of canning boxes), swords (paper and cardboard), and belts (paper) for our family so that we could recreate this game on his birthday.  He even took the time to write down the rules (to the best of his ability) on a piece of paper so that he could refer to it when the day came, and so we would know the rules.  The homemade swords were less than ideal (only being six inches in length or so and not durable at all), but Mr. F. spotted some foam swords at our local grocery store during our weekly trip.  On the day of his birthday, we made special stop there to pick up one for each of us on our way to the park.    

It was so fun to act crazy and run around at the park.  Many other kids wanted to join us in our fun.  At first, Finn was pretty adamant about it just being our family, but towards the end, he let another brother and sister join in the fun.  The day went quite perfectly, and most of it was due to Finn's involvement in the planning and preparation.  I am really enjoying having older children around--kids that can help rather than hinder, take an active part in family outings, express opinions and desires, and shoulder some responsibilities.

At six:

  • Finn wants to be useful.  He craves responsibility.  He dreams of being like the Box-Car children or the like--kids who know how to do grownup tasks.  I try to take advantage of that by asking his help around the house.  He is surprisingly competent, and that makes a lighter burden for me.  
  • His "mind is fixed upon being a builder."  His current dream is to build an underground candy factory that has tunnels connected to our house.  He thinks in big pictures, but is also concerned about the details. "Mom, how do I build if I am using brick?"  "How do I make the factory safe in case there is a fire?"  He wants to do this all tomorrow.  He doesn't understand that he can just be a kid for a while.
  • He is and has always been an highly intense person with highly intense feelings.  As another HSP, I, surprisingly, have a hard time managing these emotions of his.  I can appreciate them and I can sympathize, but as a mom, trying to do mom things, I can not cope with them very well.  
  • He is also very anxious about everything.  He started crying the other day when we were learning about rainforest deforestation.  "But mom, trees make air and if they cut down the trees, how will there be enough air for us to breathe."  I just want to hug him and protect him from everything scary and bad in the world.
  • He is an awesome big brother who plays well with his younger sister.  I love that he wants her around to play with.  I don't love when it gets too rough or when he can't seem to leave her alone.

I find that as my children get older, my feelings for them become more complex as do their own personalities.  Trying to distill them and my thoughts into bullet points has become a lot more challenging and difficult.

More photos can be found here.

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Mountain is Moving


A number of scriptures talk about the faith to move mountains (Ether 12:30, Mormon 8:24, 1 Corinthians 13:2, Matthew 17:20, etc.  The first two are found in the Book of Mormon, the others in the New Testament)  I have always taken these literally since they use language like "He said unto the mountain, remove! And it was removed," or "They could move mountains and cause the earth to shake."  Those seem pretty literal, right?  And I always thought, "man, that would take a lot of faith.  I probably will never have that sort of faith."  But like all things scriptural, there are literal meanings and there are figurative meanings.  So, I started thinking, "Have any figurative mountains been moved in my life?"  And the answer to that was yes!  

After I came home from my mission, I had plans.  My plans were to attend graduate school studying fish ecology, and then perhaps find some guy (any random one would do!) and marry him.  And for those who have been long-time readers, you know that I did that.  Go me!  However, that was not right after my mission.  It took three years, three separate application processes, and a cross-country move to achieve that goal.  Now, in retrospect, three years doesn't seem too long.......except when you really want something to happen.  Then, three years seems like an eternity.  I was working a bunch of random jobs (environmental activist, medical biller, administrative assistant, field technician, environmental consultant) and felt like my life was in a holding pattern.  After my mission, I moved down to California to live with my sister while she finished a post-doctorate, and then when she got a faculty position in New Jersey, I followed her there.  I had repeated, heated arguments with God about the inefficiency of the whole process. 

Three years later, I was finally accepted into a graduate program.  And do you know what?  It was perfect.  The project was a perfect fit for my interests.  My lab mates were the very best and so supportive.  My advisor was awesome, approachable, and not at all scary.  Both of my sisters were within a days drive from me, and we were able to be there for each other when we were all starting New Phases in our lives.  And if that weren't enough, I was able to meet Mr. F. despite being in a really remote location with No Prospects.  At that time, I was looking for a small rock to move: graduate school.  However, Heavenly Father was moving a mountain: graduate school, new friendships, perfect master's project, family support, and a husband to top it all off.  

My sister is a geology professor who studies, as it happens, mountain formations among other things.  She would be the first one to tell you that mountains take time to move and form.  Her units of  measurements are kilometers and thousands of years.  So, while Heavenly Father can do things a lot quicker when he needs to, it still takes time.  Three years now doesn't seem a long time when you are talking about moving a mountain. 


For at least two years (if not more), I have felt a strong need to move from our current location.  When I thought of my children growing up here......I felt ill.  So, so ill.  Also, I have not been happy here.  Mr. F. has a great job that he loves, but that is the only benefit.  The area is really transient;  people stay for only a few years before moving again.  Because of that, there is minimal infrastructure to support raising a family.  The medical professionals are incompetent.  And to top it off, I can't stand the summers with the heat and humidity.  Despite all that, I would have stayed here forever, because I dislike change more than I dislike anything else, it seems.  But when you hear the call to move, you just need to move.

So, Mr. F and I talked about moving.  We discussed about where we wanted to live (not farther South, not California, no dessert, Northwest would be ideal, Northeast would be o.k.)  I hounded Mr. F. to put his application on the search engine.   I nagged him about applying for jobs.  (It is very difficult to know that you are supposed to move but then have no control over the actual process.)  And the frustration!  Because  despite all of our efforts, nothing seemed to change.  But then.......after two years, it appears as though the mountain is moving.

To be continued....... 

Monday, February 22, 2016

National Aquarium Visit

Editorial note: I am writing this post a number of months past the fact and then post-dating it.

I had wanted for a long time to visit the National Aquarium in Baltimore with the kids.   The price of admission for our family, however, was crazy expensive.  Given their age and attention spans, I really couldn't justify the cost.  Thankfully, they have a homeschool program.   Twice a month they hold an hour-long class for the homeschool student on varying themes.  In addition to the class, the child and up to two chaperones receive a reduced admission ticket.  This cut the cost of admission for our family in half which made it much more affordable.

Even after finding out the homeschool details, I put off going.  I thought it would be a good late winter/early spring activity--something to do indoors while the weather was less than ideal for outside exploring.  However, with our sudden change of plans including a new job and a cross-country move, I placed the visit on high priority.  For a while there, it looked like my procrastination meant we would not be able to go at all.  Luckily, it all worked out.

Finn had a short class on the water cycle, and then we met up with Mr. F. and Enna to check out the dolphins who were practicing.  Later we took a gander through the aquarium.  The sharks were the most fascinating but also the most scary (made even more so by the dimly lit room and the sinister music playing in the background.)  I expected the kids to be more blown away by the whole experience than they were, but on the whole, it was a fun family outing.

We were able to find a place to eat that touted an extremely "allergy friendly" menu for lunch.  Unfortunately, the food was mediocre at best, and the gluten-free grilled cheese that Finn ordered had to be the saddest grilled cheese that I have ever encountered.  A more accurate description would be: droopy, room-temperature, sliced cheese placed on stale gluten-free cardboard-bread.  Poor guy deserved a lot better.  Honestly though, the kids just enjoyed being in a new city and experiencing new things which just goes to show how it pays to set the bar low.

More pictures can be found on my flickr photostream.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Enna Turns Three

I am writing this at the end of May, although I will post this on her birthday date.  We found out we were moving right before her birthday, and it has basically taken me this long to 1) process any pictures, and 2) find time to write this.  

Enna at three loves birthdays, and she loves stuffed animals.  Something that she loves even more than birthdays and stuffed animals?  Stuffed animal birthdays!  Every day or every other day, one of her animals (Tulip, Mercy Watson, Bunny, Owl the penguin, Elephant, etc.) is having a birthday.  Sometimes they share birthdays.  This makes them very ancient animals now, and I am surprised to find them still kickin' in their longevity.  She celebrates their birthdays by making cakes and salads out of her wooden play food and bowls.  Sometimes, she takes paper, rips it up, and adds it for flavor.  "Spices," she calls it.  If she is being a bit sneaky, she will add tea to the menu in the form of water and ruin her nice wooden kitchen with it.  (Not that this has happened recently or anything.)

She has taken to "reading" books to herself and to me.  "Reading" involves reciting surprisingly long, memorized passages of her favorite books.  A few that she knows quite well are "Tacky, the penguin" and "Martha Speaks."  She loves listening to audio books like her brother which helps with quiet time and long car rides.  I love to hear her laugh at something funny that she hears in the story.

She has also recently started writing.  Her writing looks like a bunch of E's and some I's.  Not really surprising as they make up a large portion of her (real) name.  I love it.  

I weaned her a couple of months before her birthday.  I was prepping her to be done at three, and then it just got to the point that I was done.  Nursing to bed was not calming her down at all, and I found it annoying.  I needed to explain a few times why we were done, and that was it.  The joy of extended nursing: you can explain to them why your are weaning, and they understand!  I have been enjoying the freedom of taking turns with Mr. F. putting her and Finn to bed.  Now, I just lay down with her and have snuggles until she falls asleep.  Since she is not much of a snuggler during the daytime, I really enjoy these moments at night.  I love when she asks me to "keep her safe" which means to put my arm around her.

She is very sensitive.  When she gets in trouble for being naughty, her feelings are hurt in the most excruciating way, and she needs lots of loves better.  Mr. F. says that I am just like her.....supposedly.  I guess we don't do well with "personal criticism," as Anne would say.

For her birthday, she requested pancakes for breakfast, and a birthday dinner of egg salad on toast with green beans.  For dessert, she waffled between chocolate cookies with strawberries (her own concoction) and pumpkin pie (which Finn had requested) and the pumpkin pie won out.  Immediately after her birthday, she started talking about what she would have for her next birthday, which she didn't understand was a really long time away.  

For gifts, she got a number of books because she loves to read, some more stuffed animals (the menagerie keeps growing!), a handmade robe since she complains about being cold in the morning (this ended up being way more expensive to make that I anticipated), and an apron to wear when she helps me cook (from Little Things to Sew).  She was less than excited about the homemade items on her actual birthday (I shouldn't be surprised, but I always am.)  But, they have been used since quite a bit.  Her aunt made her a purse which she loves to play with too.  That was on my list of things to sew for her birthday, but I ran out of time.  I am glad she still got one.

I feel like I could expound indefinitely on all her likes and her sweetness, but I will end by saying that I love being with her, even at the difficult age of three!

Friday, January 29, 2016

2015 in Review: New Recipes

A friend requested that I post the new recipes that I tried and liked in 2015.  And since I am just glad anyone takes the time to read these ramblings, I acquiesced.  My desire to try new things and start new projects is directly related to how I feel, so it isn't surprising that for a large portion of 2015, I just stuck to the tried and true and made do.  A couple of these recipes I discovered late in 2014, but then became frequent makes in 2015.  Also, it shouldn't surprise anyone that 2 of the 5 recipes are those for the crockpot.  It was that sort of year.

{Images taken from the sites linked below}

Chickpeas in Curried Coconut Broth:  My sister was trying to find recipes that would fit the various health restrictions of various guests and came across this.  It is dead easy and pretty tasty.  I don't think it even really needs to sit all day in the crockpot, but it is easy enough to just throw stuff together and let it do it's thing while you go on with life.  For curry powder, I use Penzey's tandoori seasoning which is by far my preferred "curry."  Also, I don't use the pickled jalapeƱos, although I imagine that might take it to another level.  

Chicken Alfredo with Spinach:  Another easy throw together meal.  I wasn't sure how my children would handle the wilted spinach, but they do just fine.  For the meat, I use half of a chicken that I have already cooked and frozen.  (I roast two chickens at a time and then freeze the meat in half-chicken portions.)

Pressure-Cooked Re-fried Beans:  We purchased a pressure cooker in 2015.  (Or was it 2014?)  Anyway, I love it.  It just adds a whole other dimension of flexibility.  Were you planning on doing a long braise or crockpot recipe but ran out of time?  No worries, just adapt the recipe to the pressure cooker, and it will be done in less than an hour.  Beans cook in minutes as well as spaghetti squash and potatoes.  I love it.  Anyway, you just throw stuff together, pressure cook it for a few minutes, puree it with a stick blender and you are good to go.  I usually use a portion for dinner that day (tostadas, etc.) and then freeze the rest in jars for a quick meal later.  This probably is not going to be helpful to anyone who doesn't have a pressure cooker.  Sorry.

Crockpot Chicken Tikka Masala:  I don't know if this is THE chicken tikka masala recipe that you have been looking for, but it is good and easy.  I end up doing 2 teaspoons garam masala and 1 teaspoon tandoori seasoning because I find garam masala to be a bit overwhelming.  I am so authentic.  

Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup:  It appears that 2015 was all about the easy/quick curries.  This is a Thai take.  I increased the meat, and added carrots, etc. to it.  I fed it to the sister missionaries for dinner, and they were like, "Uh, what is this?"  You may share that opinion, or you may think this is pretty tasty too.

And there you have it.  There were a few other new recipes tried, but none that I repeated.  Slim pickings this year, but perhaps you will be inspired by this meager list.  Please also let me know if you came across any worthwhile recipes in 2015.  I could use a jump start.  

For more recipes check out  2012, 2013, 2014


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