Saturday, January 28, 2012

Gotta Share!

My cousin Chela shared a link to THIS ARTICLE, and I love it. I'm not even finished reading it, and I love it.

January Creation

January Creation:

I actually made these paperdolls when I was 14 or 15, and the coolest thing about them is that they're double sided. As 3D as paperdolls can get-- their backs are finished, and the clothes I made for them have two sides that connect with slits and tabs. It was all very satisfying to make them, and even though I knew I was "too old" for paperdolls, I loved the process. My little sister and I had fun playing with them, too-- we have fond memories of the stories we made up, laughing so hard we cried. There was one more paperdoll that seems to have vanished; my first attempt at a man...he was hideous, and we cracked up whenever we played with him. 

So for Christmas, I made copies of these dolls and laboriously recut them out, along with several outfits and way too many hairstyles (I went crazy and did every single hair color for every single style when I first made these dolls...but seriously, green hair? I'll pass this time). But I have only yet given them to one niece and my youngest sister-in-law...hope they like them! 
Here's an example of a clothed paperdoll with her wig of choice:

By the Way...

If you read this in Reader, you're missing out! I've changed the setup of my blog. Check it out!

And pretty soon, I'm going to have to make a new header doodle...Ender's no longer a baby, and he's not the only kid anymore! So I'll invite you Google Reader faithfuls to come see.

I love to read blogs on their actual blog pages. It makes it more individual, more blog-like. In Google Reader, I feel like I'm reading a mass email or something. It's just not as fun. Or as pretty. The look of a blog has a lot to do with the content, I feel. Maybe I put too much into it, but I really enjoy seeing the different styles across different blogs.

I think Reader is boring. :D

December Creation

December Creation (2011):

Michael and I were shopping at Burlington Coat Factory when we saw some really cool paintings.
I thought "I could do that..." and took pictures with my phone.
Those pictures sat in my phone for about 6 months before I finally did something about them. 
Maybe it's weird to paint pictures of ladies as a Christmas present for my husband, but we love these. And I'm excited, inspired, and a little proud that I actually could do that...

So I completely copied these. And I guess that's naughty...? How does that work? I will never sell them or pretend they're my idea. Plus, I'd totally flaunt the artist's name if I could have read her it's not totally my fault, right? I even did a Google Image Recognition Search, and all I got was models in blue cocktail dresses. (UPDATE: FOUND HER!) And one more thing: I know these are not expertly framed. I know that. I have to swallow my pride in showing the world that these are wrinkly pictures in poorly-fitted frames. The paper is an awkward size (18" x 13"), we can't afford custom frames, and I'm so new at watercoloring that the paper wrinklage was unavoidable.
I have read how to fix it, and I will...but for now, this project is finished.

One Saturday, when Michael would be at work all day, I realized it was probably my last chance to do this very secretly for Michael. Scarlett graciously took a 3-hour nap, and I worked in a mad rush. She awoke just as I finished cleaning up my mess.

I printed my shoddy phone pictures across four computer pages each. I taped those together and then taped each picture on our living room window. Then I taped a sketching paper over each one. I sketched like mad while the winter light dwindled.

When I finished sketching, I sat down to practice some watercolor techniques. Years ago, my Aunt Vicki taught me how to paint darling little flower wreaths and delicate flower vines climbing stone walls. This would be different, I knew. And I couldn't find my professional watercolor paintset, sadly. So I used a little set from Germany that originally belonged to my little sister.
After sketching and after painting, I hairsprayed the pictures. Yes, I did. I know it's kind of weird, but I learned that trick from someone who did it to their sketches to prevent smearing. I probably overdid it, but it actually really helped to "set" everything.

I cleaned up all evidence and hung the paintings to dry with magnet clips in the furnace closet (a terrible place!) and prayed that Michael wouldn't suddenly decide he needed to look in there.
The next day, while we were wrapping presents, I zipped between the furnace closet and my desk and pressed the paintings flat in my sketchbook. Then, I took advantage of a few tiny minutes when Michael went to buy tape or something, and I rolled the paintings under a wrapping paper tube. We packed that tube with our presents when we left for my parents' home, and Michael just thought I was being weird and bringing my own wrapping paper. So he thought nothing and said nothing.
I'm so tricky, right?

I learned so much from copying these pictures. I don't know exactly what, but I saw inside the artist's work in how she got this look. It was so exciting to mimic and feel enlightened. I felt like a student. I even feel like it opened a doorway into that method and style so that I can execute my own ideas of this sort.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


My middle name is Faith. 
I've always loved it. 
Even to the point of protecting it. 

Once, in 6th grade, some friends of mine were guessing middle names, and I gave them a hint that mine started with an "F." They had a hard time coming up with something, so I teased them that it was Fredericka. They were convinced, though! So when I busted up laughing and told them the truth, they weren't sure they could believe me. A nickname grew out of it all, and they started affectionately calling me Fred. I loved it. I loved being special enough to have a silly nickname, and I loved the idea that my middle name was

Having the middle name Faith has been interesting for helping me learn about myself. Sometimes I felt shy to admit to people that it was my middle name, because I knew the story my parents told about it; while pregnant, my mother felt that I had a lot of faith, or that I would help the family with my faith. It was important enough to her and my papa to stray from tradition and give a daughter a middle name (something my parents didn't otherwise bother with for girls). 
I never wanted anyone to think I was better than they just because I had my significant middle name. 
So I protected it (lovingly). I simply kept it private.

But for whatever reason, the door's open today. My talking tap is on. 
I do have faith. And even though I know it's tiny in many ways, it's also what helps me to live an optimistic life. My faith helps me to change my attitude and perspective. My faith helps me not to worry. My faith makes me happy. While making dinner tonight, I've been wondering what specific kind of faith it is that's behind everything else. I figured it out while comparing my relationship with my papa to my relationship with my Heavenly Father. 

I commented on one of my sister's posts written on my papa's birthday. Without thinking much on it, since it's simply the truth, I said that I grew up feeling like I was my papa's favorite daughter. Yet somehow, I knew that each of my sisters was also his favorite daughter. And I was utterly content with this knowledge. I was aware that it didn't make much sense literally, but I knew it was true. 
I've come to realize that I feel the same way about Heavenly Father. Every time I pray or receive a priesthood blessing--or simply notice something beautiful in nature that is surely there for my pleasure--I feel that Heavenly Father absolutely loves me. The most wonderful thing about that? He also absolutely loves you. 
Each one of us. So dearly, so wholly. 

Having faith that Heavenly Father loves you is...healing. It gives you the strength to understand yourself, the bravery to become better, and the comfort you need as you learn to forgive yourself. 

Just trying to believe it will help the sense of love bloom in your heart. He loves you. 

He loves you.

And the more you understand that, the more you will feel blessed and happy and full of love for everyone...including yourself.

Friday, January 20, 2012

November Creation

November Creation (2011):

Mickey Mouse
Christmas present for Becca
(daughter of Abby, who blogs here)

Becca absolutely loves Mickey Mouse, so I really wanted to try my hand at it. 
I had to improvise a lot, but it was very fun and rewarding!

October Creation

October Creation (2011):

Kitty Princess
Christmas present for Savanna 
(sister of Jaxon, see previous post)

This girly kitty came with a purse that can open and hold little things. 
She also came with instructions for how to make a shoebox castle. 
I wish I could have made the castle for Savvy too!!!

September Creation

Yes, I did still do it! I just didn't blog about it. :) So here it comes in a bundle! 

September Creation (2011):
Blizzard the Lizard
Christmas present for Jaxon 
(son of Rae, who took this picture and blogs here and here).

Blizzard is a superlizard. He has a cape and even superman undies (every superhero needs those). 
He came with a cityscape to fly over and a flaming blanket to rest on.
He was so fun to make!

A Lesson Long-Awaited

Growing up, we always had the option of using whole wheat; it was just part of our food storage. It took a little work with our old fashioned hand mill, but I never considered its value beyond that.
After getting married and starting a family, I began to feel like wheat flour was a luxury. I never bought it because it was expensive, and I was afraid it would go bad before I had used it all. I never bought the wheat berries because I never had something to grind the wheat with. I'm sure I had friends who could have helped, but the idea of wheat just loomed in front of me like some inaccessible wealthiness I'd have to keep waiting for.

I got my Blendtec blender just over a week ago, and I've used it every day without exception. The most exciting thing I've used it for? Grinding wheat. I bought an enormous bucket yesterday and easily spent an hour with my cookbooks, planning out new recipes to try with wheat.
So this morning? I made whole wheat pancakes. Ground the wheat right with the ingredients. Well worth the trouble it took to pry the lid off my wheat bucket (I'll just say it was excruciatingly hard and took the length of Michael's shower). My fingers still hurt.

I feel like such a good wife and mommy...I fed my family wheat! I have been making them green smoothies! I have been making dinner every night for two weeks (minus two nights we ate out, but that was planned). I still haven't used (or found) flax seed or agave nectar or metjool dates (erm, no thanks), but we eat quite well. And I feel so happy to be providing for my family in that way.

It was never as obvious before, but I've noticed: we are all happier. Ender doesn't have tantrums anymore, besides the occasional struggle when he's emotional because it's bedtime and he's SO ready (and SO doesn't want it). Scarlett hasn't seemed frustrated at all with our nursing, which could have been from teething except that I'm convinced her teething is worse than ever right now-- and our nursing is going as well as it ever has. I haven't had to worry about my milk supply even while I've been sick, tired in the extreme, or suffering through a monster period. To me, that's a huge deal. I'm pretty sure Michael has felt better, too. :) He's always wonderful.

So, another thing to admit? I feel like it has taken me the nearly 5 years we've been married to really figure out daily dinner.
Oh, I feel sheepish.
There are unmarried girls who seem to have the hang of it already, and some married women who are extremely dedicated in making meals when it's all for them and their husband-- no kids to feed yet! I went through spells where I managed to make it happen for a week, and then I fell off my menu plan and got stuck again with last-minute, late dinners made of...stuff.
And I always let myself feel bad for it. I wanted to hide the fact that I wasn't good at it. I insisted that I was a good cook---when I cooked. I never really mentioned it except in passing, as an off-the-hand, laughable thing. I was pretty embarrassed. Because it meant so much to me.
There are probably a number of things that came together for me to feel the change going on. And I want to share them, because they're applicable to anyone who has ever felt the way I did, I think.

  1. Your worth is not tied to your baking. Yes, I feel good when I make meals for my family--I feel REALLY good. But I should not beat myself up if I don't make meals for my family.
    I figured this out watching The Blind Side. It struck me both as funny and sweet that the wealthy mother never cooked homemade meals. The movie is wonderful for so many reasons, and it stuck with me for a long time. That little detail about the mom just swam around in my head until I finally got it. She was a good mother, even though she never made homemade meals. And I think that even our society (as in, along with the culture of the Church) shoves it into our heads that homemade means you care. Once I realized what is possibly very obvious for everyone else, that you can be an excellent mother without ever learning to cook, I felt less pressure.
  2. Dinner can be easy--I mean really, dinner doesn't have to be exciting. You don't have to have a lot of side dishes (or any, some nights). As long as it's food, call it dinner. The idea is developing the habit of mealtime. So even if it's one of those embarrassing assortments of whatever was hidden in the back of the fridge when you've needed to go grocery shopping for a long time, the meal is happening. Who cares what the meal is.
    I probably learned this more completely when we lived with Michael's family. When dinnertime came, people had to eat. So even if things had been chaotic that day, Michael's mom stopped wondering about dinner and just threw it together. Sometimes we had grilled cheese sandwiches, sometimes breakfast-for-dinner. It didn't matter. And before living with the family, I had always thought Michael's mom made Sunday Dinner every night.
    I do wish I had been more helpful. At the same time, I wasn't the same back then-- "dinner" was still daunting to me, and the idea of making dinner for a large family (not to mention my HUSBAND's family) made me feel really nervous. I
    tried to fight that, and even though I didn't come around all the way, I learned a lot.
  3. It helps to make a comprehensive plan that extends over a week or more, but even if you don't do that, think about dinner in the morning. Perhaps while you shower or make breakfast or do dishes. Try to at least have dinner decided before the middle of the day. Sometimes, if I feel like I won't be able to make up my mind, I decide on a back-up dinner (something boring but easy that I KNOW I can do), and then the stress of a deadline is gone so I can feel at ease while I wonder what I'd really like to make for dinner.
    I learned that recently while using a menu plan. I woke up thinking "today we'll be having soup!" I felt excited about it. Then, on days that I didn't really want to do whatever was on the menu, I knew early on in the day, so changing it wasn't a big deal. One more thing: if I wasn't excited about dinner but never thought of a different meal, I made what was on the menu anyway. THAT was helpful, too. 
That's all. Is that helpful even for you women who seem to have it all organized??? ;) (I know, what others see is rarely the whole picture).

Well, my kitchen smells like whole wheat flour. My tummy is full. Ender had TWO helpings of pancakes and was sad when I put the leftovers away. Michael had two servings. I'm just blown away! 
I even had an extra (read third) serving, which might not be so awesome. And now that Scarlett is dozing in my arms, I will clean up the dishes. With a smile-- I want to do it. (Oh! So maybe all those years I never minded dishes, I should have realized that the women who made meals every day probably dreaded dishes...)

This is a happy sight to me because it means we ate together.
We had a yummy meal!
Dishes are just a reminder that I fed my family.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I Did All That?

Superwoman isn't the one in the high heels looking awesome while she does her house chores.
That's just...I don't know, Incurably Cheerful Woman or something.
No...this is Superwoman:
"I did all that?"

Superwoman is the one who does it all without getting angry even though she's so tired it's painful to keep her eyes open. Plus, she's on her period and dealing with a cold that is making her voice all crazy.
Yet somehow (how?!), she managed to clean the entire house, wash the dishes, do the laundry, rearrange furniture, organize cupboards, and make a treat for some guests coming tonight.
Oh yeah, and clean up poopy Mr. Ender and nurse a teething baby. That counts for a lot.

I don't expect much sleep tonight, but tomorrow, after my visiting teachers come, after I feed everybody, after after after...

...maybe someday I'll get a nap...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Blast From the Past: Imaginary Friends

It seems most kids' stories of imaginary friends are sweet and nostalgic, like the video for this beautiful song suggests.
My story is very different. It is dark and morbid. 

I was always jealous of Rae's imaginary friend. Clausha. She looked something like this, Rae said: 
I know, she's so weird! But I thought she was the coolest thing. Rae told us that Clausha was an alien. Clausha told stories about her planet and always had so much fun with Rae. 
I wished Clausha were my imaginary friend. 

Since I couldn't have her (Rae was adament we couldn't share), I made up my own. 
Elaine, with her golden ringlets and flouncy pale green dress, was so perfect. 
I felt sure Elaine was better than Clausha. My imaginary friend was real, not an alien. 
Elaine hid in the hallway linen closet so I could have her all to myself. 
Whenever I was alone, I snuck away to the closet, opened the cupboards, and talked with her. 
But pretty soon all I did was stare at her. 
She had such perfect hair. 
She even had green eyes to match her green dress.
I wanted that dress. 
I wanted her hair, too. 
As punishment for having what I wanted, I left her alone in the linen closet for a very long time.
When I finally visited her, weeks later, I told her she could leave. 
And she did. 

And then what did I do? I arranged secret meetings with Clausha.

What does that say about me??? Hahaha! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

O, Christmas Letter, We Ever Forget Thee...

I love reading family Christmas letters! Oh, and individual-letters like what Lynnae did. I'm impressed! I've NEVER done a Christmas letter!
I imagine it will happen someday. Probably before I know it. Someone will say "Hey, I loved your Christmas letter!" And I go, OH! It finally happened!
Nahh....hahaha, that must be the crummy joke of the day. I'm foggy-brained today both from sleepiness and EXCITEMENT (wonderful Jenn is bringing my Blendtec blender today!!!! EEEEEE!!!!)


Back to the topic: our Christmas letter this year is not really something I care about. I mean, I'd rather say "Merry Christmas! Follow my blog or email me or whatever. Love, Q."

At the same time, I love the tradition of New Year's Resolutions (having it as part of my birthday probably helps a ton). It's just funny to me what things I resist.

I resist (for no particular reason):

  • free-style cooking/baking (I LOVE to measure everything out, it's
  • Christmas Letter writing (bah humbug)
  • starting an Etsy shop (it's a good idea...)
  • Weekly schedule program additions. As in, stuff I "should" do every week with my kids. I take Ender to the Bean Museum to see the live animals (we don't care about the story time part, it's all about the animals) pretty much every week, and we go to the library just about weekly, too. And I feel like a darn good mom for doing just that. Join a playground group? No. Enroll him in some kid activity thing? Ugh. It's probably safe to say I won't be a ...what are they called? Those moms who are more involved in their kids' schools than the kids are? 
  • Things with deadlines. 
That's it for now! :)


I love it when reading other blogs gets my wheels turning and my brain churns out ideas! Sometimes it's what I would call "sympathetic blogging," where I run a parallel of thoughts with what I read, and other times it's something my comment spurred.
Here's a little sympathetic blogging: Janae is enjoying picking names for a baby on the way, and it got me thinking about why I love my children's names!

Ender is Elias Anders. 
We decided on each of his names quite backwards. We knew we liked the nickname Ender long before we knew the gender of the baby.
Michael and I were on a road trip (I don't even remember where), and we were reading Ender's Game aloud to each other. We were constantly impressed by the boy's ability to stand up against so much pressure and so many expectations. He has to save the world! And no one is shy in telling him that. He's given seemingly unachievable tasks, but somehow he does even more remarkable things than expected. 
Michael and I can't help but expect so much from our oldest child. Our expectations come from our hope. We believe in him, we want him to grasp his full potential and live a full life, be the kind of person who is complete in his values, integrity, happiness and strength. Ender. Ender lasts through the challenges and emerges champion. Ender is a finisher of incredible feats. 
And I think Life is an incredible feat. And I think my son will not only survive but come through as a hero.

Eventually, we settled on Ender's middle name. Anders. It's a family name on both sides. Originally, we'd thought of using the name Andrew (which is the book-Ender's real name) so that his nickname would be legitimate. During my pregnancy, my sister Liz had her fourth child and named him Andrew. Aside from the copying of the name, I really just felt like my son was not Andrew.

Finally, two weeks before Ender was born, we fell in love with the name Elias.
Michael came to me with his Bible open to the Bible Dictionary and pointed at "Elias." Bold emphasis added, this is an excerpt of the entry:

Elias. There are several uses of this word in the scriptures. Elias in [some] instances can only be the ancient prophet Elijah whose ministry is recorded in 1 and 2 Kings. Elias is also a title for one who is a forerunner, for example, John the Baptist. These passages are sufficiently clarified to show that anciently two Eliases were spoken of, one as a preparer and the other a restorer. John was sent to prepare the way for Jesus, Jesus himself being the Restorer who brought back the gospel and the Melchizedek Priesthood to the Jews in his day. In this particular instance there is reflected also the comparative functions of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods. The title Elias has also been applied to many others for specific missions or restorative functions that they are to fulfill.
Thus the word Elias has many applications and has been placed upon many persons as a title pertaining to both preparatory and restorative functions. Only by divine revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith is this topic brought into focus for us who live in the last days.
Elias is one who can prepare people for the coming of the Lord. I think of this in many ways; Ender can be an example to his siblings (well, he has just one so far but I'm thinking ahead) and others--including Michael and me--for the coming of Jesus Christ not only literally but symbolically, in our hearts. Then, someday as a missionary, Ender can prepare others more actively. I guess I should say that the "symbolic" preparation is the same as the literal preparation. I probably just think of a mission as a more on-purpose approach.

That is my son. He is a leader, he has been a righteous example from the start, and he is incredible.

Scarlett Estelle...
It's funny to me that everyone seems to hunt for a nickname for this little dolly. Sometimes we sing her name like "Scarla-larla," and we do it often enough that I can't even remember if I did it first or Michael or Ender did.
At a family Christmas party, someone said that with a name like Scarlett and her full head of hair to match, I'd better watch out! That made me laugh. Because I probably had better watch out. I mean, she's a girl...she's MY girl. Yes, I'd better watch out even if her name is something like, um, Fancy Lolly (!). Hah! Okay, that was... we're moving on.

Scarlett Estelle actually means Red Star. Considering Michael's background with Russian and studies of Communism, that's pretty hilarious. But we dismiss the silliness when it comes to why we really love her name.

Scarlett is a color.
My favorite color. Red. Red, symbolically, is powerful.
Red is passion. The passion of love, love deep enough for the most humanly-impossible sacrifice: the Savior's Atonement. Red is like His blood, and His blood was shed in ultimate love.
The more I ponder this, the deeper all the many meanings become. Scarlett, to me, means absolute Love.

Estelle is French for "star." 
This holds a menagerie of meanings for me. Stars...stars on one hand mean to me the promise Heavenly Father has given us of countless blessings for living a Christ-like life. Stars are promises of happiness.
Stars are beautiful. They inspire in the hearts of all mankind the dreams to expand knowledge, reach higher, think bigger, and in all, become more God-like. Stars deepen our thoughts.
Stars are lights. They can be seen even better on the darkest of nights. They are used for guidance and navigation. They can be looked to for direction and comfort. They shine.

Scarlett Estelle is my Love Light. :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year! 2012

I've tried to simplify each year, and I think I'm getting better! :) It's hard sometimes. There are so many ways I could improve. This is more of a fun angle on resolutions for me.

Resolutions 2012:

  • Continue creating something every month! This time, I'll aim for art-y (like doodles, et cetera!) rather than something that just fulfills my artistic desires (like moving furniture...).

  • MORE baking and cooking. Period.

  • Learn more hair styles.

  • Practice more often, aiming to learn new harp songs. Try to find more harp students.

  • Do an anonymous service every month. For anyone, especially including Michael. For my kids only if it's a big deal, unusual compared to what I do for them all the time.

This was an anonymous note to Michael from highschool. I'm using it to emphasize ANONYMOUS.
  • Read more. Yeah, I'm serious! :) That could seem easy, but I know the truth...

  • Prepare to run a marathon. For me, this means really regular exercise at the beginning of the year, and then around springtime I'll start more focused training. I'm aiming for the October St. George marathon. If I don't make it for that, I will at least run my own private marathon before the year is over.

Oh, Oh, Oh, it's Magic! Or Just Murphy's Law.

Every time:

As soon as I sit for some computer time, the kids suddenly become either epic-ly bored or epic-ly needy. Of course, epic-ly bored is pretty much the same as epic-ly needy.


It's no mystery why I haven't blogged much, then, is it?