Pumpkin carving time. We had some neighbors over for dinner last night and then had lots of gooey fun carving pumpkins. The girls were all insistent on doing it themselves from design to execution and they did a pretty good job. Dave cut the tops off and got them started, I roasted the seeds and helped out a little with the guts, but they did do most of it on their own. Thank goodness for safety carving knives. They were all beaming with pride when we lit them up.

Poor guy


I just had to post this picture from karaoke last night. The expression on the poor guy second from the right just cracks me up. The set list did seem to favor musicals, angry girl country ballads, and 80s pop favorites. I'd be frowning too if I were him.

Moment of the day

I love that first pot of chili each autumn. And I love even more that the weather is cool enough to enjoy it.

Moment of the day


I seem to have a lot of friends that love karaoke. More good times at the Highball. Tonight we enjoyed the "New Wave" room.

Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of WrathThe Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can't believe I've never read this book until now. Completely and staggeringly beautiful. The language was incredible, the story unforgettable. An amazingly important book. I really did love every minute of it.

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Oh my Satellite


Moment of the day


The newest book from one of my favorite authors came out today - 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. One more pebble in my I love Amazon jar as I heard the package thud on my doorstep this afternoon. I usually sweep through his books, but considering this one clocks in at 925 pages I might have to pace myself. And find a new position to read in. It's heavy enough to give me a stomache ache the way I usually lay down and prop it on my tummy.

Moment of the day


I took one more day off work to sleep off the rest of this flu. And sleep I did. Despite the fact that the neighborhood dogs decided to hold choir practice today, I took a solid four hour nap and woke up feeling human again. And hungry. For donuts. I lost more weight during this weekend flu than I did in 2 months of P90X so it seems appropriate. 

Moment of the day


Just survived the church chili cook-off/carnival/trunk or treat. This has been a day to behold. I am wicked sick (although slightly better than yesterday as I am able to stand upright). Plus I had a ton of preparations for tonight. Plus I survived shoe shopping with my girls which required significant negotiations. Plus I haven't been able to eat a real meal in two days now. Plus my girls each brought friends tonight, significantly altering the adult/child ratio. Plus Dave is in Dallas for a Cowboys game so I'm the only grown up. Obviously feeling whiny here. But I am now tucked away in bed and that brings a smile to my sad face. I can hear my girls sweetly sorting and swapping candy and that makes me happy. Always a few things to make me smile. Always...

I love this song


Happy Birthday to me


As a birthday present to myself, I invited some great friends to go to San Antonio with me for the weekend. It was a wonderful few days away from regular life. Lots of eating and talking and shopping and meandering and pampering and just general good times. And did I mention talking? I do have an affinity for words and I got in more than my fair share. Thanks friends for being such great listeners. And for making room in the trunk when I bought too much stuff.

5th Grade Choir

Tessa enjoyed 4th grade choir so much last year that there was absolutely no doubt about doing 5th grade choir this semester. The teacher does such a great job with the kids. They had their first concert on Thursday; it was a joy to watch.

Home is where the heart is

Moment of the day


This is breakfast. I'm starting to appreciate Texas style.

Moment of the day


Headed out for a girls weekend in San Antonio. My priority items for packing are always:

Electronics & cords - phone, camera, iPad
Just the right shoes

The rest will work itself out, right?

I am a Christian

There has been a flurry of conversation recently about Mormons and their inclusion or exclusion under the banner of Christianity. This is nothing new, but I thought I'd take the opportunity to include below a handful of links that I thought address the issue well and resonated with me personally.

I would like to add my testimony to thousands, even millions, of others - that yes, I am a Mormon and Jesus Christ is my personal Savior and upon that I hang the framework of each and every one of my days.

Who Says Mormons aren't Christians by Dean Obeidallah

Are Mormons Christians by Joseph Antley

And this one's just funny. Mormons can have a sense of humor too.

Daily Routines


I was browsing through my old blog posts and came across this post where I laid out my daily routine. It's been a few years so it seems like it might be time for an update. It really hasn't changed a huge amount.

I still wake up at 6:30, as do my girls. We try to read scriptures for a few minutes and then get our morning groove on. My girls are both fully capable of getting ready on their own including lunch prep. Whether or not that actually happens in a timely fashion is subject to the day. Tessa is prone to change outfits 2 or 3 times and waste time in other covert activities, Sylvie is prone to grumpiness and fits. But we get by pretty well.

I take the girls to school around 7:20 or 7:25 and then I'm on my own. I typically run three days a week and practice yoga 3 or 4 times. Lately however, I've been doing the P90X training program and that takes up a lot of time. I've cut back some on my other exercise, but it's also just eating into my day in general. It's a big time commitment but only for another 6 weeks or so. Occasionally I have to wake up at 5 to get my workout in - guess how much I love that. Then I work, work, work - hopefully getting it all done before I go get the girls at 2:30. I still volunteer some at the school, but not as much during the day. I always enjoy field trip driving and I do chess club after school. I also volunteered this year to chair the yearbook committee. My friend who did it last year often gives me smug smiles when I ask her questions about the time commitment. I'm not quite sure what I've gotten myself into. I am still going to the temple once a month with some of the women in my ward and I'm always amazed how quickly those trips come by each month.

Our after school has gotten more hectic than in years past. No big surprise there as my girls are getting older and have more interests. Mondays Tessa has volleyball and Sylvie has dance (although she tells me every week that she wants to quit so I'm not sure how long that one will last), Tuesdays Tessa has choir and Sylvie and I have chess club, Wednesdays Tessa has volleyball again and Sylvie has piano. (Tessa is on temporary hiatus from piano while she's doing volleyball, but I have not given up that war yet.) Thursday and Friday afternoons are at home. Thankfully.

Evenings start at 6:00 when Dave gets home and we eat dinner. After that just general hanging out. I don't particularly like to be productive in the evenings unless I'm forced so I rarely do work or chores. I have primary presidency once a week and end up doing visiting teaching in the evenings once or twice a month. I still have two book groups which is a love/hate thing with the constant "required" reading. I get together with friends once a month to hang out and do crafts. And hopefully once or twice more for various reasons. Otherwise I just veg with TV or a book.

Weekends are pretty unstructured. I love to sleep in but usually feel better when I get up Saturday and get active. We kind of play it by ear on Saturdays - sometimes busy, sometimes not. Sundays is always church in the morning and then general laziness in the afternoon. And then Monday comes and we do it all over again.

Moment of the day


After a glorious (glorious!) day of rain  it's a perfect 76 degrees out. The girls are playing baseball, football, and tearing up the street on bikes. 

Girly stuff


I was feeling like a rather grumpy mom last week so I decided to take my girls on dates over the weekend to get a little quality one on one time. Sylvie immediately knew that she wanted to go to Cannoli Joe's, our favorite Italian restaurant. It is a buffet but don't let that discolor your opinion of it, the food is amazing. Plus there's nothing quite like the decadence of picking 6 desserts and taking one (or two or three) bites from each. These things make me happy. It was a great night and Sylvie was sweet and social and talkative. Afterwards we went to Toys R Us to check out the bikes and ruminate on Christmas wish list items. It was a great night with my baby. The rest of the weekend with her has been another story, but I'll just focus on the good here. Let's just say it's a miracle that the neighbors haven't call the cops with all the yelling. And no, it wasn't me. At least not mostly. Sylvie has got an angry streak that is something to behold. And she's just plain loud which I take ownership of completely.

Tessa and I had a date scheduled for Saturday night but her day ran away with her and she got back too late from her friend's to make it happen. When she realized she had stood me up she cried for over a half an hour. I was sad we missed our date, but I was also glad to see how much it meant to her. I promised her we would reschedule soon. Not this upcoming weekend though because I have a weekend with girlfriends planned, an overdue birthday present to myself. Two nights in San Antonio and not much planned other than good meals, a little shopping, and some pampering. I am giddy at the prospect.

Today sounds like this

Moment of the day


On a date with my baby girl.



And yes,


I do realize my blog has been exceedingly wordy, self focused, and lacking in beautiful pictures of my gorgeous daughters as of late. I will do my best to remedy that sooner rather than later.

bad news, bad news

Oh, and by the way, my attempt and securing reservations to sleep at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon next October were spectacularly unsuccessful. I am more disappointed and angry about this than I can currently process. And it was certainly not for lack of trying. I worked as hard as I could to make it a go, but their reservation process is ten kinds of stupid and backwards. I would describe it all but it would involve expletives and more frustration for yours truly. I will regroup soon, figure out a plan B, and the Grand Canyon will still be a go for 2012 - just not in the fashion I had hoped. Life.

More Dreams

I wouldn't consider myself a "dreamer" in the way that some people get clarity or messages from their dreams. I have had a few meaningful dreams, but mostly it's just craziness and chaos in my head. As I described in an earlier post, they have been vivid and a little troubling as of late.

There was a time several years ago when I had a lot of dreams that would wake me laughing. Literally waking up from the sound of my own laughter. That is truly one of the weirdest sensations ever. I've also had a lot of conflict dreams with various people and I tend to stay mad at the other party for a few days regardless of how irrational that is.

A few nights ago I had another dream that I cannot get out of my head. Not exactly a nightmare, but deeply emotional and heartbreaking. I don't remember the exact situation, but I was the caretaker for a little girl not my own. I don't even remember if it was brief or a long term situation. The part of the dream that I can't shake was the moment someone told me that I had to give her up. I just sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I was absolutely shattered. It was just so immediate and real that I've been in a funk for days about it. Such crazy hard emotions...

When Sylvie is having trouble sleeping, I play an imagination game with her where we visualize and describe her "candy land" (her choice) to help her relax and drift off with sweet dreams. Seems I need my own visualization of a happy place to see me off to the land of nod.



A behavioral guide to Amber's moods:

Watching too much TV = feeling depressed or sick or maybe it's just fall and I'm a sucker for the new shows.
Eating too many treats = stressed or anxious or bored or maybe just hungry (like every day).
Cleaning = angry or just super on fire productive happy. Both are rare.
Gardening = feeling good and it hasn't been a year long drought that makes it impossible for me to look at my yard without wincing.
Laying on my bed = I can. Any mood applies.


Today I laughed out loud, cried a good cry, and was able to breathe deeply. All were equally good and very much needed.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely loved this book. I listed to the audio version narrated by the author and his cadence was immensely enjoyable. I was sad to learn after I finished it that there are some great illustrations in the print version so I'll need to get my hands on a copy to review for sure. I thought the author's voice through the main character was incredibly true. The honesty was a sparkling gem. It's hard to articulate what drew me to him, but the book is just stunning.

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Eye of the Red Tsar

Eye of the Red Tsar: A Novel of Suspense (Pekkala, #1)Eye of the Red Tsar: A Novel of Suspense by Sam Eastland

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I found this book very enjoyable. The author intertwined the past and present and the device kept me interested throughout. The author also used fairly short chapters which makes it easier for me to read and furthers my theory that my attention span is getting increasingly short the last few years. I thought the character, which the author took such time to build up as a great detective, was a bit of a let down in the end. But still very likable.

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