Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fun times

It's been a busy week or so since I last blogged. Let's play catchup! Here is Cynjyn's cover to her book in a bag. She did Matilda. Here we are as Matilda's family and Matilda could control objects with her mind, so we put some of those objects around us and gave it a 3-d effect by accordianing the sides. You can't tell very well from the picture, but it turned out cute and looked 3-d. Tanner's final dressup day. These are the t-shirts they all wore that they had tye dyed. There are missing Preston and Rachel from the picture.
On Friday, we drained our pool. It has been 7 years now that we've had it. It was starting to get a lot of algae from hard water build up. So we drained it. Taz and Cynjyn had so much fun with it. We came home from errands and Taz had brought all of his toys out and made little scenes in the quickly emptying pool.

Garry dutifully spent the rest of the day cleaning off the hard water build up. Alexa came over and they played and played in the empty pool.

Sunday, it was all clean and we started filling it back up.

Last night, we had a camp kick-off dinner at mutual. It is ward camp this year and we are going to the beach in Malibu. Our theme is seeking for treasure. So Linda wanted to do a pirate crazy mix-up dinner that I have done many times. So I was in charge. We set up 5 tables and were expecting 40 girls and parents. I found some cute cheap decorations at the party store. All Pirates of the Caribean stuff was only $.99 so I got 5 of these ships for the tables. I got some treasure chests, coins, compasses and eye patches.
The menu consisted of 3 courses, 4 items each course. They choose their food from this menu. This was the dinner: Spaghetti, ceasar salad, garlic bread, cookies, Hershey nuggets, a fruit skewer, veggies and dip, fork, knife, spoon, drink, homemade ice cream. If they picked lucky, they might get a fork when they got their spaghetti, but then again, they might not. Let's just say it IS possible to eat spaghetti with your fingers!!
We dressed up as pirates ( or wenches) for the occasion
Toni, Megan, Karen, me, Linda, Barbara, MaryAnne. It was a really fun night and I had so much help from the other women with making the food and serving. We had just about the right amount of food and everyone got full.
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Thursday, April 7, 2011

The spirit lives on!

It is Nevada reading week for Cynjyn. She has to do her book in a bag tomorrow. So she decided to do Matilda. Here we are reinacting a scene for her book cover. She's buried in books and reading, her brother is playing a video game and her mom and dad are engrossed in the TV while eating TV dinners.
Here is crazy sock day. Tanner had T-Birds vs. Pink Ladies 50's day. The whole theme is battle of the sexes which is why there is a famous couple for everyday of dress up.
Krissy, what do you think of his Fonzie impression?

Cute huh?! Today is wear a sports jersey day for Cynjyn. She used her dad's Max Hall jersy and turned it into a cute little dress with some leggings.
I'm taking a photograpy class, so I've been using my new learned skills to take some of these pictures, that is why there is so many. I'm enjoying my class and learning a lot about my new camera.
One more final day of spirit week...stay tuned.
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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spirit week

Tanner and Cynjyn are in the swing of Spirit week at their schools. Cynjyn is celebrating Nevada Reading Week. One day they had to wear all red to represent the books they've "red". This time, Tanner planned a little ahead and last Saturday after conference, they got together and tye dyed shirts for this Friday's blue and pink day. The whole week is basically battle of the sexes week.
Monday was Barbie and Ken "career" day. Tanner and Rachel decided to be secret agents. Since the school won't let them bring "weapons" to school, Tanner painted his fingers to look like a gun. Goon, Tanner Goon!
Cynjyn had a wear your favorite hat day to school. We've got a lot of use out of our Mad Hatter hat!
Tuesday was Bonnie and Clyde "black and white" day. We found this hat at Good will and bought him some white shoes.
Last night, Taz and I went to a bon fire for mutual out in Boulder City. It was a huge fire and the kids made smores.
Today is Woody and Jesse "Western Day". We went to two different Goodwills looking for cowboy boots, but no luck. So Tanner improvised.
We have a few more days left, I bet you can't wait!!
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Monday, April 4, 2011

Are blogs reality?

This article was going around Facebook a month or so ago. I read it then and it piqued my interest. I must admit that I look at some others blogs and think, wow, their life seems ideal and perfect...does anything bad ever happen? I heard on the news the other day that they are beginning to diagnose a new "depression" among teens. It is called Facebook depression. There are kids that obsess over not having as many "friends" as someone else on FB and not having as cool of a status update and reading others comments how their lives seem happy and perfect all the time. I don't know if it's true, but I can see how some kids could become depressed and disillusioned with their own "real" lives. I do think we tend to blog more about the good and happy times on our blogs, and I really admire those who can equally blog about sadness, loneliness, heartache, trials, good times and bad. It makes my life seem more real. I have a hard time putting my own feelings onto my blog. I think I need to do more of that. Anyway, I just thought I'd share this article. I agree totally with the last paragraph of the article where she talks about family life being wonderful and to celebrate the little things! So, here is what she has to say about "mormon mommy blogs". It is quite long, but interesting.
Why I can't stop reading Mormon housewife blogs I'm a young, feminist atheist who can't bake a cupcake. Why am I addicted to the shiny, happy lives of these women?
At first glance, Naomi and Stacie and Stephanie and Liz appear to be members of the species known as the "Hipster Mommy Blogger," though perhaps a bit more cheerful and wholesome than most. They have bangs like and closets full of cool vintage dresses. Their houses look like catalogs. Their kids look like Baby Gap models. Their husbands look like young graphic designers, all cute lumberjack shirts and square-framed glasses. They spend their days doing fun craft projects (vintage-y owl throw pillow! Recycled button earrings! Hand-stamped linen napkins!). They spend their weekends throwing big, whimsical dinner parties for their friends, all of whom have equally adorable kids and husbands.

But as you page through their blog archives, you notice certain "tells." They're super-young (like, four-kids-at-29 young). They mention relatives in Utah. They drink a suspicious amount of hot chocolate. Finally, you see it: a subtly placed widget with a picture of a temple, or a hyperlink on the word "faith" or "belief." You click the link and up pops the official website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Yep, Naomi and Stacie and Stephanie and Liz are Mormons. They're members of a large, close-knit network of Mormon lifestyle -- young stay-at-home-moms who blog about home and hearth, Latter-day Saint-style. From RockstarDiaries (Naomi) to Underaged and Engaged (Stacie) to NieNie Dialogues (Stephanie) to Say Yes to Hoboken (Liz), Mormon lifestyle bloggers occupy their very own corner of the blogosphere.

Their lives are nothing like mine -- I'm your standard-issue late-20-something childless atheist feminist -- yet I'm completely obsessed with their blogs. On an average day, I'll skim through a half-dozen Mormon blogs, looking at Polaroids of dogs in raincoats or kids in bow ties, reading gratitude lists, admiring sewing projects.

I'm not alone, either. Two of my closest friends -- both chronically overworked PhD. candidates -- procrastinate for hours poring over Nat the Fat Rat or C. Jane Enjoy It. A recent discussion of Mormonism on the blog Jezebel unleashed a waterfall of confessions in the comments section from other young non-religious women similarly riveted by the shiny, happy domestic lives of their Latter-day Saint sisters.

"They have lovely homes, picture-perfect kids, loving, super-attentive husbands, and things seem very normal and calm," writes a commenter named BrookeD, who admits to reading five Mormon blogs daily.
"I thought I was the only one!!" responds another commenter. "THANK YOU," adds a third. "I'm another closet non-Mormon reader of Mormon mommy blogs."
So why, exactly, are these blogs so fascinating to women like us -- secular, childless women who may have never so much as baked a cupcake, let alone reupholstered our own ottomans with thrifted fabric and vintage grosgrain ribbon? It's not as though we're sniffing around the dark side of the faith, à la "Big Love." And it's not about religion. As someone married to a former Saint (my husband left the church as a teenager), I certainly have no illusions about what life as a Mormon would be like, and I'm sure it's not for me, which makes my obsession with these blogs all the more startling.
Well, to use a word that makes me cringe, these blogs are weirdly "uplifting." To read Mormon lifestyle blogs is to peer into a strange and fascinating world where the most fraught issues of modern living -- marriage and child rearing -- appear completely unproblematic. This seems practically subversive to someone like me, weaned on an endless media parade of fretful stories about "work-life balance" and soaring divorce rates and the perils of marrying too young/too old/too whatever. And don't even get me started on the Mommy Blogs, which make parenthood seem like a vale of judgment and anxiety, full of words like "guilt" and "chaos" and "BPA-Free" and "episiotomy". Read enough of these, and you'll be ready to remove your own ovaries with a butter knife.
"It seems that a lot of popular culture wants to portray marriage and motherhood as demeaning, restrictive or simple, but in the church, motherhood is a very important job, and it's treated with a lot of respect," says Natalie Holbrook, the New York-based author of the popular blog Nat the Fat Rat. "Most of my readers are nonLDS women in their late 20s and early 30s, college educated, many earning secondary degrees on the postgraduate level, and a comment I often get is, 'You are making me want kids, and I've never wanted kids!'"
Indeed, Mormon bloggers like Holbrook make marriage and motherhood seem, well, fun. Easy. Joyful. These women seem relaxed and untouched by cynicism. They throw elaborate astronaut-themed birthday parties for their kids and go on Sunday family drives to see the fall leaves change and get mani/pedis with their friends. They often have close, large extended families; moms and sisters are always dropping in to watch the kids or help out with cake decorating. Their lives seem adorable and old-fashioned and comforting.
"I've gotten e-mails from readers thanking me for putting a positive spin on marriage and family," Holbrook says. "It's important to acknowledge the hard parts -- and I think we all do -- but why not focus more on the lovely and the beautiful? That positive attitude is a very common theme throughout all aspects of the Mormon faith."
This focus on the positive is especially alluring when your own life seems anything but easy. As my friend G. says, of her fascination with Mormon lifestyle blogs, "I'm just jealous. I want to arrange flowers all day too!" She doesn't, really. She's just tired from long days spent in the lab, from a decade of living in a tiny apartment because she's too poor from student loans to buy a house, from constant negotiations about breadwinning status with her artist husband. It's not that she or I want to quit our jobs to bake brownies or sew kiddie Halloween costumes. It's just that for G., Mormon blogs are an escapist fantasy, a way to imagine a sweeter, simpler life.
There's been a lot of talk in recent years about "the New Domesticity" -- an increasing interest in old-fashioned, traditionally female tasks like sewing, crafts and jam making. Some pundits see this as a sign that young women yearn to return to some kind of 1950s Ozzie and Harriet existence, that feminism has "failed," that women are realizing they can't have it all, after all. That view is utterly nonsense, in my opinion, but I do think women of my generation are looking to the past in an effort to create fulfilling, happy domestic lives, since the modern world doesn't offer much of a road map. Our parents -- divorced, stressed-out baby boomers -- are hardly paragons of domestic bliss. Nor are the Gen X "Mommy War" soldiers, busy winging snowballs of judgment at each other from across the Internet. (Formula is poison! Baby wearing is child abuse!)
If those are the options, I'll take a pass, thanks. Enter the Mormon bloggers, with their picture-perfect catalog lives. It is possible to be happy, they seem to whisper. We love our homes. We love our husbands.
Of course, the larger question is, are these women's lives really as sweet and simple as they appear? Blogs have always been a way to mediate and prettify your own life; you'd be a fool to compare your real self to someone else's carefully arranged surface self. And Mormons are particularly famous for their "put on a happy face" attitude. The church teaches that the Gospel is the only authentic path to true happiness. So if you're a faithful follower, you better be happy, right?
The phenomenon of the happier-than-thou Mormon housewife blogger is so well-recognized it's even spawned a parody blog, Seriously So Blessed, whose fictional author brays things like "We have non-stop fun all the time and are LOVING married life!" and "Speaking of fall, I kind of sometimes want to start a non-profit to help moms who go all of fall without blogging pics of their kids in pumpkin patches, because it seriously breaks my heart!"
So why are Mormon women such prolific bloggers? "It probably has something to do with the fact that Mormons are the world's biggest journal-keepers," says my husband, offering a partial explanation. Church elders have long encouraged members to keep regular journals for the dual purposes of historical record-keeping and promoting spiritual insight, and as a result Mormons are champion journalers and scrapbookers. In the 2000s, church elders began officially promoting new media technologies like blogs as a way of spreading the gospel, and the Mormon blogging community soon became so large it earned itself a nickname: the Bloggernacle.
For many LDS women, blogging about the domestic arts is a natural fit. As ex-Mormon designer Emily Henderson explains on her blog, The Brass Petal, growing up in large families engenders an attitude of make-do thriftiness -- homemade bread, recycled soda can Christmas ornaments, Salvation Army fashion. With the rise of culture across secular America, all of a sudden those skills have become trendy, even bankable.
"Blogging is something they/we can do that feels productive, can potentially make money for our families and can be done from the home at any time," Henderson writes. For young Mormon women, who face immense cultural pressure to stay home with children rather than pursue a career, blogging about their adventures in homemaking becomes a sort of creative outlet, a way of contributing to the larger world beyond the home.
The bloggers I read may be as happy with their lot as they seem. Or not. While some Mormon women prosper under the cultural norms for wife- and motherdom, others chafe. Utah is, after all, the state with the highest rate of prescription antidepressant use, a statistic the president of the Utah Psychiatric Association attributes to the pressure among Mormon women to be ideal wives and mothers. The creator of Seriously So Blessed, an anonymous Mormon woman, addresses this pressure in an online archive of Mormon women interviews called the Mormon Women Project: "In any highly homogeneous culture we all feel pressure to be and look and think and act a certain way," she says. "You start to think you need to be absolutely perfect in every area."
Clearly, life for the Mormon wife is not all crafts and cupcakes. Even if it were, I seriously doubt that crafts and cupcakes are all that much fun when you do them all day, every day.
But the basic messages expressed in these blogs -- family is wonderful, life is meant to be enjoyed, celebrate the small things -- are still lovely. And if they help women like me envision a life in which marriage and motherhood could potentially be something other than a miserable, soul-destroying trap, I say, "Right on." I won't be inviting the missionaries inside for hot cocoa now or ever, but I don't plan on stopping my blog habit any time soon. by: Emily Matchar

So I will continue to blog, but try to put in more reality of life. Mostly though, I truly feel that I have a blessed life and a wonderful family that I want to celebrate and remember in a good uplifting way. Motherhood is a wonderful thing and marriages can be loving and unified. If my blog shows a glimpse of that, I am greatful and blessed. LIFE is good.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Wrapping up TheEvent

I finished scrapbooking the last of TheEvent pictures, at least the ones of just Rachel and Tanner. So now I won't bother you again with more layouts!

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Spring Cleaning

I have been wanting to reorganize my pantry for 2 months now. I finally felt I had the time to devote to it this morning. I was determined to finish it in 2 hours. I started at 9:15 and finished by 10:45!! Before:

I really needed to do it as I had just gone to Smith's the day before and bought 9 cases of food at their semi-annual case sale. Miraculously, Garry found room for all of those cases. Now there's even more room...I'm going to Smith's!!
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