Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday Sermons: The Infinite Power of Hope

Hope has the power to fill our lives with happiness. Hope sustains us through despair. Hope teaches that there is reason to rejoice even when all seems dark around us.
–Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Chili

Chili represents your three stages of matter: solid, liquid, and eventually gas. –Dan Conner, from the TV series Roseanne, "Don't Make Me Over," May 1992

Chili on Halloween is a tradition in our family. It started a really long time ago with my grandparents. We happened to be over showing our costumes to them while they were having a chili dinner with my mom's three sisters and we wanted some. They made what they had go around and the next year they made a bigger pot of chili. Word got around and the crowd on Halloween grew. Sometimes my cousins would come, sometimes my uncle from Las Vegas would drive up, and every year we'd have chili for dinner on Halloween. There would be trays and trays of breadsticks baking in the oven, two kinds of Jell-O {orange and green; we're big on Jell-O in Utah}, saltines, apple cider and milk. And doughnuts after. You can't forget the doughnuts after.

The tradition continued for many years {perhaps 15 or so}. My grandparents would make the chili the day before and then on Halloween they'd put the big pot of chili inside an even bigger pot filled with water so that it could simmer from late morning on through the afternoon without scorching. Family would come and go starting in late afternoon and into the evening for Halloween chili. As the years passed, the pot of chili got bigger as the grandkids started bringing their spouses and then their own kids. Several years we got to bring some leftover chili home in a quart jar to have later.

Since Grandma passed away Halloween Chili hasn't been as regular of a tradition. It was a couple of years before we even mentioned doing it. We've only done it a handful of times since 2003 and it just isn't the same without her. This year I decided to do my own Halloween chili for the four of us at Bug Cottage, complete with breadsticks and Jell-O {but only one kind} and apple cider. I think this is one tradition I'm going to keep going and perhaps when I'm 75, I'll have a houseful on Halloween for chili.

One Big Pot of Chili
2¼ lbs. ground beef
½ cup finely chopped green pepper {about ½ of a large pepper}
1 cup finely chopped onion {about 1 medium}
1 cup water
1 packet {1.48 oz} chili seasoning
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 cans {6 oz. each} tomato paste
2 cans {15 oz. each} chili-ready or Mexican stewed tomatoes
1 can {28 oz.} petite diced tomatoes in tomato juice
6 cans {15 oz. each} chili beans

• In a 10-quart stock pot brown ground beef with green pepper and onion. Drain off excess grease.
• Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk chili seasoning packet and chili powder into water; stir in tomato paste. Run the 2 cans of chili-ready tomatoes through the food processor, blender or food chopper so that there are no huge chunks of tomatoes left; add to seasonings in the mixing bowl.
• Add the tomatoes and seasonings from the mixing bowl plus the can of petite diced tomatoes {with their juices} and the chili beans {with their sauce} to the ground beef in the stock pot; stir to combine.
• Refrigerate chili overnight.
• Bring chili to a boil stirring often; reduce heat and simmer for 2 to 4 hours stirring occasionally, until it is as thick as you'd like.

Serves 16

Notes:
• I usually simmer the chili with the lid on. That way you can use a lower temperature setting and avoid scorching the chili to the bottom of the pot.
• I used Lawry's chili seasoning, but there were several other brands available. I probably picked it because it was the least expensive. Any brand will do, but you may have to adjust your spices a bit. This one was heavy on the cumin, so I added a good amount of chili powder to balance it out.
• Why make such a huge pot of chili? Because it freezes really well and then I don't have to do it again for while. We're going to have chili dogs, baked potatoes with chili on top and Navajo tacos in the next 10 days or so. I divided out portions for each into sandwich-size ziplock baggies, as well as filling a couple of quart-size ziplocks for a chili dinner again in a month or two.
• This is pretty mild chili. I don't like it hot, so if you like it spicy, season to taste with red pepper flakes, or different or more peppers.

Chicken Chili
1½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 cloves garlic
½ cup onion, finely chopped
3 cans {15 oz. each} Great Northern beans, drained, rinsed and divided
3 cans {14½ oz. each} chicken broth {or 6 cups water and 6 cubes chicken bouillon - not dairy-free}
2 tablespoons Southwest Seasoning
2 limes
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water

• Heat oven to 350˚. Place chicken in a 9 x 9 baking dish and sprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper. Place garlic cloves on top of chicken and cover with foil. Bake for 35 minutes — just until chicken is not longer pink in the middle. Refrigerate chicken and garlic until completely cool. Once chicken has cooled, shred.
• Juice limes to yield ¼ cup of juice.
• Drain and rinse 1 can of beans; transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Gently squeeze garlic from their papery skins into the beans in the bowl; mash with a potato masher. Drain and rinse remaining 2 cans of beans and set aside.
• Heat ¼ cup chicken broth in a 4-quart stock pot over medium heat. Add onion; cook 4 to 5 minutes, until onion is tender. Add chicken, mashed bean-garlic mixture, whole beans, remaining chicken broth, Southwest Seasoning and lime juice. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.
• Combine cornstarch and water, stirring until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture to chili and continue cooking 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
• If desired, serve with tortilla chips, sour cream, guacamole and shredded cheese.

Serves 8

Notes:
Southwest Seasoning provides the best flavor for this recipe. It is totally worth paying shipping charges to order a container of it. Trust me on this. You can, however, substitute on packet of Chicken Taco Seasoning {not dairy-free} or 1½ teaspoons cumin for the Southwest Seasoning.

You might also like:
Two-Bean Chicken Chili

Friday, October 29, 2010

Favourite Things Friday: Halloween

On Hallowe'en the thing you must do
Is pretend that nothing can frighten you
And if somethin' scares you and you want to run
Just let on like it's Hallowe'en fun.

–Unknown

Halloween is my favorite holiday. It marks the beginning of the holiday season and lots of nice things in store; mine and Mr. Bug's wedding anniversary, Thanksgiving and finally the Christmas season. But first we get to dress up and get a little crazy. I don't have much in the way of Halloween decor, but that's because I spend all my creative energy on the costumes. This year the Little Bugs wanted to dress up as Harry and Hermoine from the Harry Potter series. I was only too happy to oblige. I've had my Professor McGonagall costume ready and waiting since 2005. I checked out several costume spots, but wasn't super impressed with the quality or price of the Hogwarts robes, so I headed to JoAnn's during a 50% off sale. Patterns were on sale for 99₵, which was a big bonus. I put together two sets of school robes {hooray for two more October finishes!}, complete with Gryffindor crests on the chest and we were ready for a little magic.

True confession time — I've had a little bit of a procrastination relapse lately. I was doing fairly well until recently. The procrastination on the Halloween costumes, though, was the worst its been in a very long time. I ended up pulling an all-nighter to finish these costumes in time for the Little Bugs' class parties and Halloween parade at school on Wednesday of this week. It was pretty rough, but worth it (the all-nighter) to hear how excited the kids were on the morning of their parties. Before I went to bed {around 6:30 am} I put their lunches together and showered. When Mr. Bug's alarm went off at 7:30, I
appraised him of the costume and lunch status and asked if I could stay in bed. He was completely obliging. I could hear the kids when they got up. They were pretty excited when they found their costumes on the couch. Mr. Bug was pretty enthusiastic and cute about it too. It had snowed a bit overnight, so he said to the kids that it was like Christmas — snow on the ground and presents on the couch :lol:. They came in to show me how they looked before they went to school which was fun.

Oh, and when I say I had the costumes finished, I mean they were wearable, but not done. I still had the hems left but this fabric doesn't unravel so I left that until they got home from school. And I still need to fix one little goof-up on one of the sleeves in LadyBug's costume, but I'll do that before we go out trick-or-treating.

Here is a close up of the Gryffindor crest. I lifted the image from the internet {it's no secret that I'm a dirty sneak thief} and printed it onto fusible ink-jet fabric sheets, adding the perfect finishing touch. I haven't decided if I want to do a little satin stitch around the crests, or not, but I can always go back and do that later.

This portion of today's post brought to you by:


Continue reading for more of one of my Favourite Things. Let my spooky playlist to put you in the mood and let's talk a stroll with the Ghosts of Halloween Past. Click on any of the pictures for a closer look.

Halloween 1999: Little Pumpkin, Queen of Hearts, and the Mad Hatter. October 31st was Grasshopper's due date. I thought that would be a great day for a birthday, but I rented costumes from a local theater and planned on dressing up for work and then attending a party we were invited to, because, you know, first babies are always late. Because of the huge skirt, this costume did a great job of camouflaging my belly. As it turns out, that wasn't necessary because our Little Pumpkin showed up 12 days early. Mr. Bug and I still went to the party, but I was recovering from a c-section and we only stayed for about an hour.

Halloween 2000: Little Pumpkin.

Halloween 2001: Tigger.

Halloween 2004: Tinkerbell and Peter Pan. I'm not sure what happened to 2002 or 2003 :confused:, but here we are. I bought a zillion yards of Tinkerbell green satin and organdy {or is it organza? I can never remember} because I started out with a pattern that I was going to make over to work and then found a better one. I'm pretty sure I made three Tinkerbell costumes that year, one for LadyBug, one for Miss Butterfly and one for another cousin on Mr. Bug's side who doesn't have a clever Bug name. I wish I had pictures of all three girls together. Oh, and there's a really good reason that LadyBug is bald. We shaved her head. Really. We hoped that it would help her hair grow thicker and faster and it totally worked. In less than six months she had more hair than we shaved off. The only regret is that we didn't do it sooner.

Halloween 2005: Spiderman and Spidergirl. I didn't really have a pattern for these costumes — only an idea and some really great fabrics. I cobbled together a couple of patterns and filled in with my own design. Sorry for the picture quality. I didn't have my good digital camera and I must not have had the costumes finished when we went to have professional pictures taken for Grasshopper's birthday. I also made my Professor McGonagall costume this year and I decided that I was only going to make costumes every other year after that.

Halloween 2006: Leonardo the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and I can't remember what Grasshopper was. But I obviously implemented the every-other-year plan for making costumes. Grasshopper was done with trick-or-treating after we did our city's Safe Halloween downtown. He didn't want to go around the neighborhood after we got home and changed out of his costume before I could get pictures. On the other hand, LadyBug was a die-hard. We covered every single house we knew in the neighborhood and she still wanted to keep going.

Halloween 2007: King Peter of Narnia. I didn't make this costume; I was going to make him a Batman costume but I ran out of time {procrastination issues :rolleyes:} because I was working on LadyBug's costume . . .

. . . Supergirl. Again, I didn't really have a pattern. I cobbled together a couple of different patterns and filled in the rest with my own designs.

Halloween 2008: My sister loved the Supergirl costume from the year before, so the week after Halloween she ran and bought fabric on clearance for a whole family of Supers for 2008. Unfortunately, I had MAJOR procrastination issues and only got a Superman costume done for Cap'n Underpants. I still owe her three more Super costumes.

The Little Bugs really wanted to be Clone Troopers. They have names based on the color of the costumes, but I don't remember the details.

Halloween 2009: No photos :wall: and the Little Bugs did not want me to make costumes. Grasshopper was a Clone Trooper again and LadyBug was a police officer. And they were cute. Take my word for it.

I hope you enjoyed my little trip down Halloween Memory Lane.

Today's post brought to you by:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My 300th Post: A {Sponsored} Fabric Giveaway

Sewing mends the soul. –Unknown

Over the last 10 months, I've managed to ramble on about some subject or another 300 times, and you all have stuck around. So to reward your patience, I'm having a giveaway. My sweet friend, Wanda, has been cleaning out her stash and she sent me some of her cast-offs. She sent me some really great fabrics, but I can't possibly use it all, so I thought I'd share a bit with you.

Here's how it works:
• I've pulled together three themed fabric packs. You can enter to win each fabric pack once. Just leave a comment telling me which pack you'd like to win. If you want to enter for all three, leave a separate comment for each entry.
• For one additional entry, blog about my giveaway and then comment with a link to your post. Make sure to tell me which fabric pack you'd like to win in this comment. You can only use this entry for one fabric pack, so pick your favorite.
• Non-blogging and international entrants are welcome. If you do not have a Google account, use the name/url or anonymous commenting options. All entrants, please and make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you win.
• The giveaway will close at 10:00 pm {MDST} on November 5. The winner will be announced by noon on November 6.

Noah's Ark Pack
Includes:
All Creatures Great & Small by Kathy Schmitz Studio for Moda
• Noah's Ark Panel {approx 25" x 42"}
• Striped Border Coordinate Print {1 yard 16"}
• Aqua Cross-hatch Coordinate Print {15"}
• Bunny and Vine Coordinate Print {1⅞ yards}

Christmas Pack
Includes:
Signs of the Season Panel {back left} by Bonnie Sullivan & Maywood Studio Panel {approx 29" x 42"}
• May your days be Merry Signs of the Season Panel {back right} by Bonnie Sullivan & Maywood Studio Panel {approx 29" x 42"}
• Santa print by Alyssa Mooney for David Textiles {30"}
Frosty's Town by Kathy Schmitz Studio for Moda {24"}
• Twelve Days of Christmas Print by David Textiles {1 yard}
• Vintage Christmas Print {fat quarter}
Star of Wonder Panel by Nancy Halvorsen for Benartex {approx 24" x 42"}

Way Back Pack
Includes:
Childhood Memories by Peggy Jo Ackley for Robert Kaufman {1 yard 2"}
To the One I Love by Indygo Junction's "The Vintage Workshop" for Moda {28"}
Look and Learn {blue background} by American Jane Patterns, Sandy Klop for Moda {23"}
Look and Learn {white background} by American Jane Patterns, Sandy Klop for Moda {28"}
Look and Learn {blocks} by American Jane Patterns, Sandy Klop for Moda {14" wide x 38" long}
Building Blocks by American Jane Patterns, Sandy Klop for Moda {bits and pieces}
• Winter Scene {fat quarter}
Always Take the Scenic Route by Mary Englebright for Quilting Treasures by Cranston Village {½ yard}

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Sweet Tastes of Fall

Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.
–Carol Bishop Hipps

My first Thanksgiving with Mr. Bug's family was a shock. For dessert there was only pumpkin pie. No apple. No cherry. No lemon meringue. And I didn't like pumpkin pie. I didn't like pumpkin anything. But since we spend most of our Thanksgivings with his family {so we can do Christmas with mine} I learned to like pumpkin pie and eventually all manner of pumpkin goodies. With the weather turning all crisp and cool {we even had a little snow overnight}, it is time to dust off the pumpkin recipes.

12-Minute Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake
1 package spice cake mix
2 cups canned pumpkin
3 eggs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

• Grease a microwave-safe Bundt pan.
• In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer on medium speed to combine the cake mix, pumpkin and eggs until the batter is smooth, about 2 minutes.
• Place a small amount of the cake batter in the bottom of the prepared pan. Stir the chocolate chips into the remaining batter and spoon into the pan.
• Microwave on high for 12 minutes.
• Cool for 10 minutes. Invert onto a serving platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Serves 16

Notes:
• The name of this recipe might be 12-Minute Microwave Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake, but I may have changed it so that it would fit all on one line.
• I use a Pampered Chef Stoneware Fluted Pan for this recipe, but there are silicone and glass Bundt pans which are also microwave safe. Ask Google where you can get one. He knows everything.
• I have not tried this in the oven, but I imagine it could work. I would suggest heating the oven to 350˚, baking for for 35 minutes and then checking it. My best guess is that 35 minutes won't quite be enough, but better safe than sorry. I would add 5 minutes to the time and then check it again, up to about 50 minutes. If you try it in the oven, let me know how it works.
• If you spread a little batter in the bottom of the cake pan before mixing the chocolate chips into the batter it helps the cake come out of the pan better because the chips aren't all a gooey, melted mess making the cake stick to the bottom of the pan.
• I like this cake served cold and without ice cream, too, as pictured above. It goes nicely with ice cold apple cider. Mr. Bug likes his topped with hot fudge.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Extreme Makeover: Skirt Edition

I base most of my fashion sense on what doesn't itch. –Gilda Radner

Sunday was the Primary Program. And I made myself a new dress to wear for it. But I wasn't the only girl at our house who needed something new to wear. So after I finished up my dress {late Saturday night/early Sunday morning} I did a little makeover on a skirt I'd picked up for $3 at Wal-Mart for LadyBug. It was totally worth staying up until 3:00 am. Just look at our spunky girl.

LadyBug is a no-frills, no-nonsense kind of girl. I have a hard time finding clothes in general and Sunday clothes in particular that she likes. A while back, we had a few Sundays where she wore pants to church because she refused to wear a dress. We eventually found a little denim skirt {with shorts sewn underneath} in a box of hand-me-downs from her cousin, Miss Butterfly, that she liked to wear to church about 85% of the time. But she's outgrown it. So when I saw a similar skirt, I snapped it up. I knew it was too short, but I already had a plan.

I had some striped denim left-over from a jeans-making experiment back in 1986. Why I still had it, I'm not sure :confused:. But I knew it was around because I'd just gone through stacks of things tucked away in the backs of closets and set it aside in a new stack of things to donate. I was glad I hadn't done that yet. I cut a strip of navy blue broadcloth the width of the fabric and then a piece of denim to match the width of the broadcloth and to my desired length. A few seams, a hem and some gathers later and it was ready to attach at the waist of the skirt. And they'd left me a nice seam allowance to work with. I think it turned out pretty cute {iron malfunctions not withstanding}. It looks a little bit like she's got an apron over top of her skirt.


The skirt's waistband is a little big on LadyBug and the under skirt is a little long, but I'm totally OK with that. It'll prolong the life of the skirt and she can grow into it. Yay! Another October finish :biggrin:.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wanted: A New Iron

We are not to judge thrift solely by the test of saving or spending. If one spends what he should prudently save, that certainly is to be deplored. But if one saves what he should prudently spend, that is not necessarily to be commended. A wise balance between the two is the desired end. –Owen Young

Late Saturday night {so late in fact that it was actually very early Sunday morning} my iron quit working in the middle of a project. My new iron. The iron I bought on August 17, 2010. The iron that had a lovely green inset that matched my adorable double-sided ironing board cover. The iron I'd spent an inordinate amount of time picking out while the Little Bugs milled around me teasing each other waiting ever-so-patiently to go pick out new shirts for school. The iron that wasn't really in the budget. The iron that was a step down from my old, broken iron because I was economizing. The iron I picked out, in large part, because it was marked down to $17.97. The iron that rang up at regular price {$19.97}, but I didn't notice until I was looking over my receipt at home. The iron for which I never went back to get a refund for the difference in price {I so want my two dollars!}. The iron whose box, warranty card and receipt I unceremoniously threw out while cleaning the mess from under my sewing table. The iron that is now trash.

This iron was a compromise between what I really wanted and what I could afford; it was what I could live with. And now I'm back to square one and just a little bit peeved with Black & Decker. If a new iron wasn't in the budget two months ago, it is even less in the budget now {backstory: Mr. Bug's job was eliminated at the beginning of April. Since then he's started his own company, but it is slow going and the budget is really tight which is why I'm completely obsessing over my iron breaking. Again.}. I'm back to using a travel iron that after four days with it when my last iron broke I was ready to commit harry carry because it scorches everything, including the light side of my adorable reversible ironing board cover. I'm going to have to look into cooking with two-minute noodles so I can afford a new new iron. I hear you can really cut back on your food bill and they're not too bad if you prepare them correctly.

I have to wonder if my creative appliances are conspiring against me? First Grace and now two irons. Admittedly, the first iron had served a long and useful life. But this second iron? I think it was out to get me the minute it didn't ring up on sale. And I'm almost scared to get another iron :crazy: because what if I choose the wrong one again and I'm back in the same boat in two months? Who knew that choosing an iron would have the weight of choosing the True Grail from among the many False Grails.


You saw what happened to the guy who chose poorly :bug eyes:. I feel a little bit like that right now. So before I commit to cash {again}, I'm going to do a little research. I want to make an informed decision so that I can choose wisely. What iron do you have, how long have you had it, where did you get it, how much was it and and why do you love it?

Oh, and this time, I'm going to mail in the warranty card and save the box and receipt. Those crafty appliances are not going to get the best of me :paranoid:.

A New Dress for Me {Finally}

Just around the corner in every woman's mind - is a lovely dress, a wonderful suit, or entire costume which will make an enchanting new creature of her. –Wilhela Cushman

This summer my youngest sister got married. The wedding was on July 31st. On July 27th I decided that I was making dresses for my sister {not the one getting married or the one who was the matron of honor}, my sister-in-law and me. It was a brilliant plan, really, but I was up to my elbows making vests for the little boys, which left me . . . not enough time to finish all three dresses. I knew it would be a stretch, but that I could finish two of them in the time I had, so I had to prioritize. Of course, I couldn't make my dress and leave one of my sisters without, so I decided that I'd make theirs and then worry about mine later. And later has come :biggrin:.

Sunday was the Primary Program and I was kind of in charge. It was the perfect opportunity for a new dress. A dress that was all cut out and waiting to be finished. As is my usual modus operandi, I procrastinated to the very last minute, finishing it at about 1:15 Saturday night/Sunday morning. [Editor's Note: part of my procrastination tactic this time was to spend three hours on Saturday with the Little Bugs sorting, de-junking, cleaning out and completely organizing their toy area, which turned out to be a brilliant bit of avoidance as it eliminated one of the major things on my list of boring, but necessary chores — wohoo :clap:! The downside was that I stayed up way later that I really wanted to finishing up this dress.]

I have to pause here and note that although I got tons of compliments on my dress, I felt a little bit out of place when I looked around and saw everyone wearing their pretty fall-colored cardigans at church yesterday. You see, the temperatures have dropped and the leaves have changed and it is officially fall. It started raining late Saturday morning and pretty much hasn't let up. My shiny, springy, turquoise dress didn't really fit in with all the navy and burgundy and olive and pumpkin everyone else was wearing :lol: . I would have fit in much better here.

In garment construction, zippers are one of the most difficult things to conquer. I was one of those people who thought I'd be 30 and still calling my mom to come and put the zipper in for me. Lucky for me, my mom got tired of doing zippers for me so she showed me how way before I hit 20 :lol:. I have always wanted to do an invisible zipper. It seemed like such a magical and amazing thing to be able to pull off. The last few times I had to do zippers I picked up invisible zippers while I was getting my notions, but always chickened out right before going to the check-out and put them back and got the regular ones instead. But before I bought fabric and patterns for these dresses {clear back in July} I found a tutorial that made invisible zippers look do-able. I can't find the tutorial again, but as it turns out I didn't really need it because invisible zippers come with instructions {the very same instructions that the tutorial gave} and they are so easy! Way easier than regular zippers {ignore the gap at the top of the zipper — I made a change to the neckline after I'd put the zipper in :rolleyes: and wasn't about to unpick}. I was able to line up my seams at the back on all three dress a lot better than with regular zippers {don't look too closely — it is still a little off}. And now I am in l♥ve with invisible zippers. Hooray for learning something new and an October finish!

One last thing: a close up of my 4" bronze, [faux] reptile skin, super pointy-toed stillettos. I think they'd do The Shoeologist proud.

Rhythm of the Rain

Sleeping is no mean art: for its sake one must stay awake all day.
–Friedrich Nietzsche

Sleep and I are old nemeses {had to Google the plural of nemesis. What would I do without Google :lol:?}. Most nights I lay awake for hours, my body completely exhausted but my mind racing, unable to sleep. When my body finally finds rest {in the wee hours of the morning} it really just wants to stay at rest. Usually about the time I am really comfortable and sleeping well, I need to get up and help the Little Bugs get off to school. My body fights the transition though, and I spend the day craving sleep and fighting off the urge to lay down and have a nap. Ironically, it seems that on the days when I do give in and sneak a little shut-eye {which does not help the laying-awake-at-night-when-I'm-supposed-to-be-sleeping situation}, I am able to go to sleep quickly and get more restful sleep than I do at night. After fantasizing about different places I'd like to nap all day long, about 8:00 pm I perk right up and I'm ready to conquer the world. I have to force myself to quit for the day earlier than I want to in the hopes of getting more sleep at night. And then the laying awake in bed starts again.

Last night was one of my nights laying awake. I wasn't particularly distressed about it because this is my usual routine. It has been raining quite a bit lately, so it was soothing to listen to the rain beating on the roof while I tried to relax and not think about all the projects I would like to have been working on. About 2:15 {am :rolleyes:} the rain subsided and I started to drift off. And then the rain became a torrential downpour and the wind picked up. I was a little bit startled by it {not to mention awake. Again.} and Mr. Bug was woken up by it too. We were just discussing why it seemed to suddenly get lighter outside {the motion sensor light on the back of the neighbor's house was tripped by all the commotion outside} and whether we had a back-up alarm clock if the power went out {we did}, when Grasshopper climbed into bed with us because he'd been woken up by all the noise outside. I was just telling him that he could stay for about three minutes before he had to go back to his own bed when LadyBug was climbing in the bed too and asking, how long can I stay?

There was nothing for it but to cuddle up all warm and snuggly under the covers {good thing we got the king size bed} and listen to the rain beating down around us. Then the storm changed pitch and we worried about what we were hearing, so Mr. Bug went to investigate. It turned out it was just the wind. We went to tuck the Little Bugs back in bed but we were waylaid. Mr. Bug mused that he was going to have some hot chocolate and asked the Little Bugs if they needed anything before going back to sleep. We were all pretty wide awake, so we convened in the kitchen for an impromptu 'tea' party, complete with fancy accents, giggles and toast. Drinking with the pinkie-finger extended was not optional.

I did not find sleep until after 3:00 am. And so this morning I am once again defying my old nemesis, sleep.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sabbath Songs: I Know That My Savior Loves Me

For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. –Job 19:25

I'm in the Primary {LDS-speak for children's Sunday school} Presidency {LDS-speak for assigned voluntary service position for keeping the Primary running}. And I just love it. This year in Primary we've been learning about Jesus Christ. Our theme for the year is I Know My Savior Lives, so since January we've been learning songs and teaching lessons about Jesus.

Today is the Primary Program; the culmination of all of our learning with a presentation during Sacrament Meeting {LDS-speak for a congregational meeting} of short speaking parts from all the Primary children about what we've learned in he past 9½ months interspersed with the all songs we've learned. This is the second year that I've been in charge of coordinating/writing/arranging/handling the Primary Program. I hope it goes well.

The hard work is done. The principles have been taught. The songs have been learned. The presentation has been written up and printed into pretty booklets. The parts have been distributed and practiced. The kids have been coached to sit still in their choir seats, not to bounce up and down, or pick their noses, or put their mouths directly on the microphone when it is their turn to speak, and to sing loudly. All we can do now is hope that things go smoothly. My job today is to look pretty {OK, I totally made that up so I could have a reason/deadline to make myself a new dress :biggrin:, which I'll show you tomorrow}, raise and lower the pulpit depending on the height of the kids who will be speaking, keep the really little kids from jumping off the little steps we move to the pulpit so they can even reach it in its lowest position and make sure that everybody takes their turn at the microphone. It should be easy peasy. Like herding cats. I'm not worried at all.

I wish you could all be there {if you're in the neighborhood, church starts at 1:00}. Even if you're not religious, the Primary Program is something to see. Since I can't fly you all in, I want to share the theme song for this year. I have loved being able to sing this with the kids nearly every single week of this year. The song is called I Know That My Savior Loves Me and was written by Tami Jeppson Creamer and Derena Bell and distributed church-wide specifically for use this year in Primary. Each time I hear it, it touches my heart.



A long time ago in a beautiful place,
Children were gathered ‘round Jesus.
He blessed and taught as they felt of His love.
Each saw the tears on His face.
The love that He felt for His little ones
I know He feels for me.
I did not touch Him or sit on His knee,
Yet Jesus is real to me.

I know He lives! I will follow faithfully.
My heart I give to Him. I know that my Savior loves me.

Now I am here in a beautiful place,
Learning the teaching of Jesus.
Parents and teachers will help guide the way,
Lighting my path ev’ry day.
Wrapped in the arms of my Savior’s love,
I feel His gentle touch.
Living each day, I will follow His way,
Home to my Father above.

I know He lives! I will follow faithfully.
My heart I give to Him. I know that my Savior loves me.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Everything Grows Better

Everything grows better in sunshine and love. –Unknown

These are my paternal grandparents, Woodrow and Elaine. Cute, no?

When I posted about my other grandparents I had their birth and marriage dates, but I think I totally cheated and got most of that off my Grandma Betty's obituary. I'm not sure when these grandparents were married and I can only guess at the year my Grandma Elaine was born; December of 1930 — I think. She died in January of 1995, but the exact date escapes me. Grandpa Woody was born on November 15, 1927 and died on December 3, 2003 {I happen to have the program from his funeral right here}. I know I have all of this information down somewhere, I just can't find it.

This set of grandparents lived on the same {very large} block as our elementary school. From our house to theirs was a total of seven blocks — easily within walking distance. Coincidentally {or maybe it wasn't} Grandpa Woody's parents lived only two streets over and about ¾ of the way up the block from us. But that's not super important to my story. What is is that they were a big part of my life growing up. I inherited a few things from them. For instance, I got my love of pretty shoes from my Grandma Elaine. Sometimes I dream about her shoes. I also got my laugh and my hands from her. From my Grandpa Woody, I got my blue eyes and the ability to remember things in minute detail.

This cross stitch hung in their kitchen for the longest time; probably from 1984 or 1985 until my grandpa moved out of their house in about 2000.

It was a kit with pattern, floss and aida cloth that my mom bought who knows how many years before I found it in her things I asked if I could make it. It was my first experience with embroidery floss and counted cross stitch and it was so fun. I don't know how old I was when I did it, but I'm certain that I wasn't older than twelve. As I was working on it one day, my grandparents were over and saw it. My grandma liked what she saw and offered to pay me for it when I was finished. I think she gave me $10 for it.

I think it was a little bit inspired of my Grandma to buy it from me. It forged a connection between us. It increased the value of it and ensured that it would be something I would want to keep; I'll never get tired of it and want to get rid of it {things might have gone differently if she hadn't bought it from me}. I'd love to have it framed differently; matted and with a distressed white frame so that is more a piece of art. I had it priced out a few months ago {when I was having something else framed}, but even with my 50% off coupon, it was still well over $100, which just isn't in the budget at the moment. For now, it hangs in my kitchen, reminding me of times gone by.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Happy 11th Birthday Grasshopper: Where Did the Time Go?

It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn't. –Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

I swear it was only yesterday.

Before he was Grasshopper, he was our Little Pumpkin. You see, his due date was October 31 and I was really excited to have a Halloween baby. But he had other plans. My water broke at 2:45 am on October 19, 1999 {after I had stayed up until 11:30 the night before cleaning the oven because I was sure it wouldn't get done if I didn't do it right then}. October 29, 1999, 10 days old.

Just look at those chubby cheeks! He wanted me to hold him all. the. time. He was a horrible sleeper. He loved to jump — that's why we call him Grasshopper. I was worried about his eyes, so we took him to a really good children's optometrist and had him completely checked out. Fortunately, there wasn't a problem at all. He just needed to grow a bit so that his eyes weren't quite so far apart. April 2000, 6 months old.

Already walking and into a million things. I love the dimple on his sweet, chubby cheek. Aren't those the cutest orange corduroy overalls ever? Baby Gap. I visited them five times before I could bear to pay the $20 for them. But they were a must have for my Little Grasshopper-Pumpkin. October 2000, 1 year old.

Clever and mischievous, always on-the-go and a smile to melt your heart. It wasn't too long after this that he quit wanting me to hold him every waking minute of the day. I kind of missed it. October 2001, 2 years old.

Smart, independent and such a handsome boy. And just a little bit naughty. He didn't want to be in the stroller, refused to hold my hand and spent a lot of time between two and three years old running away from me. I made him a leash that hooked onto his belt loop because I couldn't keep up with him {I was preggers with the LadyBug}. As long as he stayed by me, he didn't have to wear it, but if he started to wander {or run} away, I would get it out. He outgrew the need for it pretty quickly. October 2002, 3 years old.

Adjusting well to being the big brother, good natured, and his own person. He never liked shoes much, and goes barefoot {just like his mom} whenever he can. October 2003, 4 years old.

Getting bigger and smarter every day. October 2004, 5 years old. Already.

Where did my little boy go? He's so grown-up; he'd started Kindergarten, was learning to read, making friends and playing for hours with building toys that were for older kids {he knew exactly how to put them together, but his little hands weren't strong enough to snap them in place so he was always brining them to me to put together}. He could also do math in his head — math that they hadn't taught him yet in school. He's too smart for his own good. October 2005, 6 years old.

First grade and silly school pictures. Doesn't anybody check to see if the kids' hair is combed? And speaking of hair, look how dark it has turned. He's not my blonde little boy anymore. September 2006, {almost} 7 years old.

Second grade and the school pictures just keep getting better. I love that big gap where his front teeth should be. He lost his teeth later than most of the other kids did. September 2007, {almost} 8 years old.

Why did I quit taking the Little Bugs {who aren't so little any more} for professional pictures :wall: ? He's so thin; the chubby cheeks have long since disappeared and I worry about him eating enough. Look at those dark circles under his eyes. He's a lot like me in so many ways, only I didn't get my dark circles until I was in my early twenties. September 2008, {almost} 9 years old.

10 already? This really seems like 10 minutes ago. This was kind of a rough day at school; he fell down the stairs just before pictures. You can see the goose egg on his forehead. When he was little we called him Mr. Bonk, because he always had three bruises on his forehead in varying shades of purple, green and yellow. Go back up and click on his one-year old picture for a closer look. He has a bruise in the middle of his forehead. September 2009, {almost} 10 years old.

The birthday boy has his day all planned out. He wanted hash browns from McDonald's for breakfast and he's requested that I bring him pizza from Two Jack's for lunch — but only half of a personal-size pizza, because that is all he can eat. He wants me to save the rest for later. We'll take some Starburst mini-packs for treats for the kids in his class and for dinner he wants to go eat steak at Sizzler. We've tried to convince him that Mr. Bug can cook a waaayyy better steak than Sizzler, or that if he really wants to go out at the very least we should go to Golden Corral {or about five other places nicer than that}, but he's the birthday boy and he's insisting that it be Sizzler. After dinner, he's got his last scout meeting as a Webelos {short for 'We Be Loyal Scouts,' just in case you've never had a boy in Scouts}. His birthday gift of choice is {as always} a LEGO set. Today is all about the Grasshopper, but he's an easy kid to please.

Happy birthday, little Grasshopper. Try not to grow up so fast, will you?