Pinewood Derby

The moment finally came! Duncan’s been waiting for this for a while, working on his car, painting, drying, painting, drying, repeat, repeat.

And then – it was done! (He’s immensely proud of his creation.)

I was a little worried about the drag that the construction towers would make but smiled and left it alone – the important thing about Pinewood Derby that a lot of people seem to miss out on is that it’s for THE BOYS. Not me. Not the Dads. THE BOYS. If he wants Emmett sticky-tacked to his car with towers behind him, that’s what he gets!

Go Color Guard! He was pretty pumped that he got to be (in? apart of? the?) a member of the (?) Color Guard during this den meeting. Of course, no matter how many times I tried to get a decent photo, this was the face I got. #sigh At least he’s cute, right?

While both the Tween and the Kindergartner abandoned us to watch the races, this little miss stuck around. “Lap? Pick up me? Take picture me, mom!” Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. She’s just a little photogenic. (Her hair was so cute that morning. Then she ripped out her bow. I fixed it before we left but left out the bow hoping to get her to leave it alone. Didn’t work. While trying to fix it AGAIN at the Derby, the rubberband broke. Really?! I pulled an emergency one [huge for her] out of my purse and she was left in a top knot all night. Stinker.)

Can you tell she likes to get ALL UP IN YOUR FACE? Apparently, this also applies to my camera lens. You get a nice clear shot of her nose… booger-ed and crusty… because my poor camera couldn’t take that much cute, that close to it, and figure out how to focus all at the same time.

When we got there, Duncan added graphite to his wheels and was weighed in. They suggested he take off the… uhm… wrecking balls? No idea what they were! So he agreed and ended up hot gluing some various metals on top of the car to make up for the weight loss. He was still happy with it, so I was happy with it.

Rachael followed most of the kids right up to the sidelines. She’s sitting with her friend, Michael, here. His older brother was in the race as well. I’m friends with their mom too – it’s always nice to have friends that have kids around the same ages! Although, my friend is lucky – that’s her youngest! I’ve still got a few years ahead of me before my youngest is in Kindergarten!

As much fun as it is to watch the boys race their own cars, I think they all enjoyed watching ALL the cars race. Making an event of creating a custom car and then racing it on a cool tall track with a lever that releases them together while a crowd of people stands by oohing, ahhing, and cheering them on? Seriously, I think Cub Scouts might exist JUST for this.

The Slam Dunk

Getting ready for another go. Check out the green car in Lane 1, and the CHEESE in Lane 2. Everyone loved the cheese, every time he finished first, you’d hear “CHEESE!”

Cameron trying to satiate the PICKUPMEMOM Monster. Side note: This poor guy was home from work today – he actually called in sick. Something he never does usually. But every time he gets sick, he ends up with pneumonia. His chest was already not feeling quite right so he called and went in for an impromptu appointment. Came home with a certified your-life-sucks paper that read: Sinusitis + Asthmatic bronchitis with acute exacerbation. (Except they wrote it in all caps, screamed it at you off the paper. I took the volume down for you guys.) Gotta love tehsick. He’s now recovering with Super Sudafed – the real kind, that apparently you can craft fancy things with – and good ol’ prednisone. And his inhaler of course. On the bright side, the girls… who gave it to him in the first place, (sorry Daddy!) are quickly healing. Chuck has a runny nose still, and all three give off the occasional cough, but it’s definitely letting up.

BROWNIE POINTS ALERT: During his “sick day”, Cameron kept Chuck with him so I could go to my Quilting Society class alone, and even picked up Rachael from school so I could stay the full 3 hours! #dreamboat Does this make me a bad person?

It was a fun night, albeit a little on the long side, and all the poor younger siblings in the crowd were starting to lose it. Or maybe that was just mine? Moaning and sitting, yet getting excited each time a trio took off on the track. Duncan got a “best construction” award for his car (with Lego Movie construction legos – all the awards were punny). All in all, it was a fun night and everyone (sans Mommy) enjoyed a HUGE ice cream sandwich at the end.

Disclaimer: Excuse the fuzziness on that sweet face, I took this last photo with my phone’s camera (read: HORRID LITTLE BOX THING THAT TAKES ILLEGIBLE PHOTOS AND VIDEO) so I could send it out via text, and it’s not the best. Yet it’s the only one where he has something on his face resembling a smile – go figure!

Prep Day

I think most of you know that I’m the 2nd Counselor in the Young Women‘s Presidency at my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Well, because I also LOVE to bake cupcakes, I tend to get called upon when it’s time to serve goodies. (Oh darn!) We are hosting the stake dance at our meetinghouse this weekend, and I’ve been asked to make 150 cupcakes for part of the refreshments!

I made some adjustments to my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe and have hopefully (fingers crossed!) got the kinks worked out making the batter in tripled amounts. Can you imagine 13 dozen cupcakes, one batch at a time… neither can my mixer! So today is my tester day. Sometimes recipes won’t work properly when they’re halved, doubled, and so forth. But so far, so good!

I’ll be prepping for my baking day by measuring out my dry ingredients, measuring out some of my wet ingredients – that way making the batter itself won’t take as long as it usually does. It’ll just be a matter of mixing things together, not measuring, scooping, and so forth.

I’m also going to make my frosting ahead of time and see how that works out. Since my recipes are vegan, I have to be careful with over mixing. I make sure to use a dairy-free butter substitute in my buttercream that does NOT have water listed as the first ingredient. While I’ve found that substitutes like accidentally-vegan Blue Bonnet Light (where water is the first ingredient) will work for baking, it cannot keep from separating in something like buttercream. I personally use Earth Balance, which has an oil-blend as the first ingredient and it whips up just like real butter would in a buttercream recipe.

Here’s my go-to recipe for buttercream:


Vegan Vanilla Buttercream Frosting


Ingredients:

1/2 cup Earth Balance “butter”

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

4 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

about 1 teaspoon (or more to reach desired consistency) coconut almond milk, or other non-dairy milk


Directions: Whip together the Earth Balance and shortening. Add confectioner’s sugar (confectioners’ sugar?) and mix together. Add vanilla and salt, and slowly add coconut almond milk, a teaspoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. It won’t take much, don’t over pour! Frost cupcakes (or anything that tastes good with frosting, right?!) and enjoy!

Like peas in a pod

By far, the messiest room in my house right now. And of course, the messiest child sits among it. This chaos definitely needs some order. Hopefully, injured knee willing, I’m going to make a dent in it today.

It’s the little things that bug me… like the ancient rubbermaid-style (maybe?) baskets that just never sit quite right on top of each other. I requested these well-used baskets from my Grandma’s stash – I figured most were wanting the fabric, not the yellowing crates they sat in. They’re great on their own, I have a couple that work wonderfully in my great shelved closet in the sewing room. (Cam did a great job, then we both did an even better job of overfilling it, ha! See it semi-empty and clean here.) But they’re not stacked! I think their age is just really showing in the inability to sit straight and stack as they should. Perhaps it’s the load of fabric… they look much cleaner and less weighed-down here. Might be time for Hubbs to try and intervene with some ideas of his own… I wonder if we have enough spare lumber lying around to throw together a little shelf to help “stack” them without really stacking.

I’m always pushing the kids to finish their chores so they can “play” – amazing how many different things one word can mean. The word “play” around here has endless meaning! Hopefully just not all electronic, right? Olivia’s been doing a great job and has been finishing in the mornings so that she has the rest of her day, the ideal  way to do it. Duncan does the same UNLESS his rooms gets messed. He has a very difficult time getting from a mess to clean again. Once he’s there, maintaining is pretty easy for him.

Sometimes I try to do this by literal example, though it’s not easy. As a parent things get shoved and left to me, and keeping on top of that is much more difficult then “gather your dirty laundry and start a load” or “make your bed and check your floor”. Especially, as you can see, when it comes to the sewing room//office! It literally has become the junk drawer of our home. Very frustrating.

I’ve also been trying to throw in random chores and requests for them to respectfully respond to and then fulfill so that I’m not the only one pushing through all the other miscellaneous work. I try to remember to praise. Sadly, it’s easy to overlook when negatives are looming around the corner. I’m doing my best, trying my hardest. So far we seem to be winning the entitlement battle.

In other news, we have an upcoming family date this weekend that I’m looking forward to. Cameron found a Groupon for bowling and then pizza (another Groupon, of course – have you met my husband?) to top off the outing. I think it’ll be really good for us, it’s been a while since we’ve gone out and had a good time, ALL of us, together. It might also be a great opportunity to push out those often overlooked praises that everyone is in need of working on. Through the screaming fights over monkeys, and lies about laundry being finished so snack can be inhaled, eesh… we need to focus on some positives! A good start to the new year? Definitely.

Besides, I think we’re all just dying to see Cameron’s best two-handed granny bowling techniques again. Right?!

2014 is almost over!

Christmas 2014 is over!

Can you believe it? We’re sitting in the last days of December 2014. That was fast. It seems like just yesterday I was trying to get used to writing “14” at the end of my dates on various things.

This morning, I was pre-filling out some food/mood/sleep/etc. tracking forms. My new doctor suggested I track what I eat, when I exercise, and so forth so that she can look at my nutrition and health as a whole versus gathering what she can from me relating my history orally. My next appointment is on the 9th of January – yes, 2015. So as I’m filling out these forms, just the date on the top, I got to January and it was very surreal writing 1/1/15. Crazy! Before you know it, we’ll be gearing up to write 2016. Sick.

2014, certainly the tail end of it, has left me feeling beat. Chuck gives a good visual example.

Along with that as this week has started slowly, I’ve developed a renewed dedication to my health. Just wanting to feel good! Not going to stress over weight, just going to focus on getting my exercise in as I should, and eating healthy. I don’t want to leave 2015 as exhausted as I’m leaving 2014. I’m done wanting to be a certain size or a certain weight. I should be happy with my body and know that it’s acting as it should be, and lately – with both my attitude and my body – that hasn’t been the case. So I’m trying to fix that!

Thomas S. Monson, a general authority of my church (I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lds.org) put out a message on his page [we’ve become such a Facebook world!] that I really liked about the new year:

“At the advent of a new year, I challenge Latter-day Saints everywhere to undertake a personal, diligent, significant quest for what I call the abundant life—a life filled with an abundance of success, goodness, and blessings. Just as we learned the ABCs in school, I offer my own ABCs to help us all gain the abundant life.

A in my ABCs refers to attitude.

B is for believe—in yourself, in those around you, and in eternal principles.

C is for courage. Courage becomes a worthwhile and meaningful virtue when it is regarded not so much as a willingness to die manfully but as a determination to live decently.”

Definitely food for thought. It’s penciled in, right with the rest of goals for 2015. (Or right next to the empty space where my goals should be!) There’s a lot I want to accomplish but I tend to procrastinate writing it all down. We’ve got a lot of recovery work to do this year in our family, and unfortunately I think it’s in our nature to think that a year is an endless amount of time. That is one thing I’d like to accomplish this year – more attention to time! To simply pay attention to the pass of time, pay attention to the questions like when did I last get out my camera? When did I last tell my husband I appreciate him? When was the last time the bathtub was cleaned? Okay, maybe not so much on that last one. I think we all avoid that question…

Lots of thoughts, lots of goals, but all in all I think I’m sticking with my resolution of avoiding resolutions. I’ll make changes, gain good habits, and celebrate victories. But I definitely don’t need a “new year” to do it.

During which I avoid fetching the iron.

Should be working on some Christmas gifts. Instead? I’m organizing my Documents and Downloads folders. A bit obsessive compulsive, yes, but oh so satisfying. Apparently at some point I had messaged this moment to a friend and randomly I also copied it into a word file and saved it. Not sure why I did at the time, but I’m glad I did. Weird thinking that Charlotte is already so big and Rachael isn’t even at home anymore!

“lissieinthesky: so while trying to take photos for this online course thing, Charlie decides I need a hug.

lissieinthesky: I mean, perfect 1-year-old hugging height – kneeling by the sewing table with my camera body resting on the tabletop and taking photos of TMNT shot glasses in a row.

I’m trying not to move at all so I can get essentially the same exact shot but then show the differences with my f-stop

So she crawls up, grabs on to stand up and plants her face (with two steady streams of snot) ALL OVER MY SIDE.

So much for this shirt.

I yelp out noooooo Chuck!

and Rach goes “it’s okay mama, she just likes you the best” LOL

lissieinthesky: I guess there’s that. :-P”

Miss the little goobers being… little!

do-over!

When I went out to recess as a kid it was all about Wall Ball. And Four Square. We were cool, man. Shh – just let me reminisce.

Any teacher out for recess would probably have heard the term, “DO-OVER!” screamed at the top of every other child’s lungs about every 2 rounds of a game. It was kinda the instant restart of our 1990s generation. That and finally losing the 80s bangs.

Today, I felt myself come back to that familiar spot, yet in a much more mature and adult manner. You know, because I’m all growed up– grown up now. Yep.

Anyway, all day I’ve been working on preparing a lesson for church. For those that don’t know, my calling has recently been switched from Primary Chorister [working with kiddos ages 3-11 in music] to Young Women’s 2nd Counselor [working with young women ages 12-17]. As I was preparing I began to get discouraged, not feeling like I was able to really get the message out like I wanted. Those that know me know I enjoy speaking and teaching – this shouldn’t be difficult, right?

I took a step back and looked through some other articles, feeling like I needed a break and wanted to explore some other articles but still stay in the same spirit, if that makes sense. Well, HA – in doing so, I opened myself up a bit and realized that maybe all this preparation was wonderful for a lesson taught at another time, but not for this Sunday. So, following the prompting I was feeling – I needed to start over completely and follow another topic entirely, one that apparently needed to be heard – and heard this Sunday. Funny how the Spirit reminds us that we’re instruments in His hands.

If you’re interested, here are the two articles that I’ll be teaching from:

Mothers and Daughters

Watch and Learn

A Stick

The usual stigma has been  around for… well, forever. Depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies and suicide itself – these things are not topics people enjoy lightly discussing. Obviously with Robin William’s recent death it’s suddenly been the rage to fully discuss and bring to light these troubles that people face everyday.

I suffer from depression and anxiety. As do many people! More so, I think, then we realize. I’m using Effexor and Vitamin D to help me curb those issues, and for me it’s been very successful so far. I’m hoping this will continue once the time changes and we’re thrown back into the rainy and dark Oregon we all know and love. At least for its rain, and not so much for its dark!

Anyway, with all of this fresh at the surface, I stumbled upon something today that I was glad I found. I wasn’t looking for it, but once I found it – it was a really refreshing and supportive statement. It’s quite possibly one of the best supporting statements I’ve read online recently, something that lifts up, and doesn’t tear down. One that I think I, and maybe others, were looking for without knowing we needed it.

I was in the Amazon Kindle forums (for ideas on how to derail 2-year-olds that have discovered every PBS show on mommy’s Kindle is free when you have 1-Click purchases and mommy’s credit card!) and found this. After some digging, I also found it here and here. From what I can tell, the original creator/poster is a Tumblr user named, Boggle.

Without further adieu:

A CRY FOR HELP
I don’t like the phrase “A cry for help.” I just don’t like how it sounds. When somebody says to me, “I’m thinking about suicide, I have a plan; I just need a reason not to do it,” the last thing I see is helplessness.

I think: Your depression has been beating you up for years. It’s called you ugly, and stupid, and pathetic, and a failure, for so long that you’ve forgotten that it’s wrong. You don’t see good in yourself, and you don’t have any hope.

But still, here you are; you’ve come over to me, banged on my door, and said, “HEY! Staying alive is REALLY HARD right now! Just give me something to fight with! I don’t care if it’s a stick! Give me a stick and I can stay alive!”

How is that helpless? I think that’s incredible. You’re like a marine: Trapped for years behind enemy lines, your gun has been taken away, you’re out of ammo, you’re malnourished, and you’ve probably caught some kind of jungle virus that’s making you hallucinate giant spiders.

And you’re still just going “Give me a stick! I’m not dying out here!”

“A cry for help” Makes it sound like I’m supposed to take pity on you. But you don’t need my pity. This isn’t pathetic. This is the will to survive. This is how humans lived long enough to become the dominant species.

With NO hope, running on NOTHING, you’re ready to cut through a hundred miles of hostile jungle with nothing but a stick, if that’s what it takes to get to safety.

All I’m doing is handing out sticks.

You’re the one staying alive.

busy busy!

We’re finally getting back to a more normal way-of-household around here. We had a blast with the cousins here (photos to come) but after a week of all play and minimal chores + laundry… well, life has a way of catching up! We still miss our family but I’m glad we’re getting  caught up on all of the laundry and upkeep around here!

A new update that has recently come in to play is my NEW calling! I honestly thought that I would be tied down in my calling for at LEAST another 3 years. I’ve been the Primary Chorister at my church (we are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) for 1-2 years? I think? And I’ve been enjoying it! Starting out was terrifying, but I quickly eased into it. I really began to have fun with  my primary kids and enjoyed helping them prepare for their Program and teaching them new songs, playing games, you name it – we did it!

Well, apparently the big man upstairs decided to throw a wrench in the works to see what I would do. Never get too confident, I guess, right?

Our Bishop’s secretary called to set up a meeting with Cameron and me and it sounded fairly urgent. We kept having to put off the meeting and finally, the Bishop called and asked if he could drop by because he wanted to talk to us before church on Sunday. I just assumed the whole time that if they were extending a call to the both of us, it would be a non-Sunday calling and something fairly low-key. I knew they were probably releasing Cameron (he worked with the youth, boys 12-13) because of problems with work and not being able to make it to activities. Imagine my surprise when I found out the urgency was for me! He released us both from our current callings and called me to be the 2nd Counselor in the Young Women’s Presidency!

After the first shock, and the shock of all my “co-primary-workers” when it was announced that Sunday, I started in Young Women’s! My first Sunday was yesterday and our YW President taught the lesson. Honestly? I was THRILLED! After serving for years in the primary as a Teacher and then a Chorister/Music Leader – I was in a calling where I got to both teach (I’m technically over the 12-13 year old girls) and listen, it was such a nice change! My second hour was free, so I attended Sunday School! Shocker! And then third hour I got to be a part of another lesson! I sure miss my little primary kiddos’ smiles and voices but I’m definitely enjoying being a part of the YW’s organization.

I’m off to update the calendar, continue the fight against laundry, and schedule out some upcoming visits for my nerdlings. Busy busy, as usual. More tomorrow!