Sunday, August 31, 2008

Carnival for Tiffany

Olivia's friend and classmate Tiffany has had pretty serious medical problems. Her family's friends and neighbors put together a fun carnival last week to raise money for medical expenses. I love that so many people rallied around them to help them out. Tiffany is such a sweet girl, and according to Olivia she is always happy. You can see from her smile that she is an angel.
Tiffany loves horses--they even had horseback rides at the carnival--but the line was WAY too long so we stuck with the water balloons and face painting. They even had a fire pit and stuff for s'mores! At the face painting booth Olivia chose to have a horse painted on her face.

I'm so grateful that Olivia and Tiffany are friends!

Sunday Thoughts by Batman

Coleman got his face painted as Batman at the fund-raising carnival we went to... and these last few Sundays he's said so many funny things, that I had to share...

He asked to sit on my lap, and in return I asked if I could sit on his lap... he said:
"That would make me get smashed!" (how true it is)

I told him to sit on the bench, and he shot back with:
"But you're soft, the bench is prickly."

He asked me if I believe in God, I asked, "Do you?" He said:
"Yes! He's a good guy!" in a very non-chalant, matter-of-fact voice. Amen.

Half an hour into Sacrament Meeting he leaned over to me and said, "When is Church going to be over? It's SOOOOOO long, I'm going to die!"

Today Coleman asked what "abs" are--we explained that they are stomach muscles and I told him that muscles are hard. We felt his abs and Liv's abs, and I told him that my abs had squishy on top of them. Coleman asked if he could feel my abs, so I said he could... he came over, poked his fingers in my belly and said, "Wow, that is really squishy!"

And finally, the ward Primary leaders said that he was in fine form when we had the Stake visitors for Ward Conference. The Primary counselor was talking about the Holy Ghost guiding us and Coleman kept shouting out, "But where is he going to take us, where are we going?"

That's my boy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Olivia's Piano Recital (August 2008)

Olivia had a fun and casual piano recital at her teacher's house last weekend. She has loved playing the piano this last year! This is her just before her recital (I love her genuine smile--we caught her laughing)...

...and with her great teacher Cindy. The video below is short--enjoy!

If one can of soda does this to my pantry shelf....

...what does it do to my insides when I drink it?

I know this is disgusting... but it's what I uncovered in my pantry this morning... a warped, moldy mess... all from one little can of Caffeine-Free Diet Coke that inexplicably drained itself and rotted. Obviously, I need to improve my housekeeping skills. Yuck.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Flashback Friday

With school starting this week AND the Summer Olympics going on, I've been all nostalgic for my younger days. We loved to watch the Olympics as a family (especially gymnastics.... we wanted to BE Nadia Comaneci (or her friend Teodora) and Mary Lou Retton.

Every year we took first day of school photos... so I went digging in my baby books and only came up with two of them... the others that show my knickers and velcro shoes have to be somewhere, right?

The first is my first day of kindergarten. We lived in Birmingham, MI and I started class at 12:30 pm--my teacher was Mrs. Fishtahler (great documenting, mom!). Here I am in some rockin' duds with my younger sisters Heather (left) and Megan. I've always loved new clothes, and new school clothes were my favorite thing to pick out. When I got older and made my own babysitting money I would make lists of all of my new clothes and accessories so I'd be sure to get every possible combination out of them. A little OCD maybe :) ? Even now, I think at the end of the summer I should get new school clothes when the kids do.
The picture below is from 1st grade... my oldest sister Lauren is on the left, our friend Heather, and me. Clothes always come back in style... I currently own a jacket JUST like the one I had on, just in lime green with grey stripes down the sleeves.
This picture below brought back so many great memories. As much as we loved to watch and try to do gymnastics, we also loved to dance. Our favorite Sunday afternoon activity was playing the record (vinyl, baby!) "Hooked On Classics" and wearing our leotards and improvised tutus to dance the day away. You've gotta love the diaper on Erin and the underwear coming out the bottom of our leotards. Those were some serious granny panties. I won't speak for my sisters, but I know that my passion for dancing has been replaced by awkwardness and uncoordination... but I LOVE that when we were young, we had no qualms about getting the groove on.
The dancing darlings: On the left is Lauren, then Megan (unfortunately hidden in the back, kneeling up in her wheelchair), Heather, Erin (in front), and me in the back. Weren't we lovely?

Olivia has successfully finished her first week of second grade! She wrote this about returning to school (and I love her spelling!):

**What Olympic athlete did/do you want to be?
**Do you buy new school clothes? I should get some more, right?
**Do you have first day of school photos? (If so, I want to see!)
**Did you ever see such lovely girls in leotards?
**Do you jam out at home?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First Day of Second Grade

It's hard to believe my baby girl is ready to start 2nd Grade! She had a great day yesterday though and already loves her teacher and class. She said "I still have a few butterflies..." but overall she thought it was a great day.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Timpanogos Cave

For our last summer hoorah we went on a hike with my mom, Lindsey, my brother-in-law Slade and all of our kids. My mom is an avid hiker and loves to include the kids... I'm ashamed to say that although I've lived in Utah for 20 years (and at the base of American Fork Canyon for over 7!) that I had never been to Timpanogos Cave. We'd been told it was a steep but do-able hike, so we thought we'd give it a go.
Lindsey and Jonah, my rock-star mom, Olivia, Evan, Coleman, Tayden, Brady, and Slade at the car before we started our ascent.
Almost half way up... we are still smiling. The kids were champs... hardly a complaint the whole way up.
Here's my mom with all the kids... I'm so glad we did this with her. We are really lucky that she's so active and loves to do things with her grandkids. Thanks mom!
We made it!!! We got to the top in about an hour, which was surprising. To be honest, with some of the switch-backs I was a little surprised I made it at all!

We had a great ranger (Ranger Royce) who was so cute with all of the kids that were a little nervous about being in the caves. Everything inside was so interesting... it kinda makes me want to take a geology class or something. The kids liked it too--although near the end I think they were feeling a bit claustrophobic and cold. By the time we ended, a couple of them had to go to the bathroom so we high-tailed it down the trail.

Overall, our hike was a great success! The kids consumed many, many packages of fruit snacks and granola bars and Clementine oranges, fruit leathers, and a soft-serve vanilla cone at the end (thanks to Grandma!). I think we might have to make the hike to Timanogos Cave a yearly tradition!

**Have you been to Timpanogos Cave?
**What are you doing for your last hurrah this summer?

Back To School Night

Last night was our Back To School Night... it's hard to believe that summer is almost over and school will start next week! Our school is under construction to add several desperately needed new classrooms and a renovated office and kitchen. In addition, there is road construction on every road to and around the school... should make for an interesting time getting our kiddoes TO school!

Last year I split a PTA responsibility with a friend and this year decided I was a big enough girl to do the job on my own--so I am the PTA Health Commissioner and will be in charge of Red Ribbon Week (drug awareness/safety) and lining up volunteers for vision and hearing screening. I have grand visions of doing a bunch of health/fitness/disease prevention awareness campaigns, but my hope for a bulletin board isn't looking so good... so we'll see what I can do! I also want our school to be a Gold Medal School... so I came armed with all sorts of sign up sheets with my display. We had a lower than hoped for turn out (maybe due to the construction???) so I only got a few to commit. Do you want to help?Olivia and Coleman were troopers. We met Olivia's new teacher (who seems incredible!) and then they got to hang out with me. They entertained themselves by forming a conga line with their buddies (whose mama's were also staffing PTA displays) and singing out "cha cha cha cha cha CHA!" in less than quiet voices.
We were all quite proud to catch Liam's jump in front of the camera, the kids thought that photo was hilarious.
Liv, J.D., Sarah, Megan, and Addie in their conga line.

**How can I find more PTA volunteers (I'm not above bribery)?
**Do you like to conga?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bear Lake 2008

Last week we came back from our annual Bear Lake trip with the Harper clan. Ryan's family (his grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc.) has been going there for 30 years! This was our best year yet! Olivia was a great flag girl on the boat---when the Coast Guard came by she held it up extra high for them.
Coleman had a great time on the jet ski with Uncle John who came with his family from Portland. They come each year and are so generous to bring their jet skis for us all to enjoy--but we are mostly glad that they come so we can enjoy the company of their family!
The kids could have stayed and played in the sand all day. Here they are with their cute cousins Sam and Alyza. Sam broke his arm just before the trip--but he was a trooper and wore a plastic bag over his cast and kept his arm in his sling so he could still play. They made a rockin' sand castle, complete with seashell (lakeshell?) decor.
We went for a swim in the middle of the lake and true to form, the water was very cold... but clear and blue and wonderful. We saw fish in it while we were jet-skiing and boating--it's a good thing we didn't see any while we were swimming, because I would have come undone! I don't like animals brushing by me--in or out of the water.
Bruce (Ryan's dad) tried as hard as he could to knock us off the tube... Kristen (married to Ry's brother Scott), Traci (Ryan's sister), and I held on for dear life. I think we knocked heads when we came down on this one... we probably should have let go and just gone into the water. I'm not sure my neck will ever be the same.
We planned a little treasure hunt for the kids around the condo complex... they thought it was great fun and they got all sorts of prizes. Here are the Harper grandkids on their way to one of the stops: Sam, Coleman, Olivia, Alyza, Lucy (WA), and Faith.
I love this picture that Kristen took of Olivia and Alyza. Olivia's such a nurturer and she had a great time being with all of the younger cousins.

While we were there we also enjoyed Rock Band (it's fun to play the guitar, drums, and sing but the songs aren't that great) and Sing Star (which has great songs and the music videos instead of animated rockers--hint, don't let anyone do "I Like Big Butts" with kids in the room, too many questions come out of that), raspberry shakes (they are yummy with lime), card games, Aggie Ice Cream, more good food, water balloon launching, the Raspberry Days Parade (lots of free candy, but most of the floats were trucks or trucks pulling boats--not a real float in the bunch) and we celebrated Bruce's 55th birthday. On the last night our kids got to go on a Jammie Walk with Grandma and Grandpa Harper who came from Connecticut. They gave each of the kids a cute book and then supplied glow sticks and flashlights for their walk in the dark. I am sure it will be one of the favorite traditions at Bear Lake. We love being at Bear Lake with our family!

A quip from Coleman the other night after our scripture study--we had just talked about wanting to follow Jesus, and he said, "We don't want to follow that other guy... what's his name again Mom?"

Sunday, August 10, 2008

3rd Annual Breastfeeding Cafe

Most of you know I'm a bit of a lactivist (advocate for breastfeeding) and I've been involved with the Utah Breastfeeding Coalition in various aspects over the past several years. This month, the UBC is sponsoring the 3rd Annual Breastfeeding Cafe at the Salt Lake City Main Public Library. This year, the event is hitting the road too and will make an appearance in Logan and Cedar City later in the month. The Breastfeeding Cafe is a community outreach program and it's purpose is to show that breastfeeding is normal, inspire thought and conversation about breastfeeding, and encourage relationships among breastfeeding advocates.

Yesterday as I was there, a family stopped by who had spent many years in Denmark. They took a picture in front of the Cafe, because they thought it was such a funny idea. In Denmark a Breastfeeding Cafe would not be at all necessary--but in the USA, where bottle-feeding is more accepted as the norm--the Cafe provides a great place for women to nurse their children and for people of all backgrounds to get information about breastfeeding. In Denmark a Breastfeeding Cafe would be as out of place as a Toothbrushing Cafe in our country (or some other promotional event for other practices that we take for granted here as being the norm).

Instead, in our country women are asked to leave restaurants and clothing stores for feeding their babies or are told to cover up so others don't have to see that--all while using scantily-clad women with mostly exposed breasts to sell beer or cars or plastic surgery is perfectly acceptable. Innovative entrepreneurs come up with all sorts of ways that women can hide themselves and their babies (like these very cute Hooter Hiders). If moms are more comfortable with a covering, all the more power to them, but we have this mindset that nursing a baby is something to be ashamed of and something that must be hidden. Some women even feel they should nurse their babies in a bathroom stall rather than out in the public eye (would you eat your lunch in a stall?). The Australian Breastfeeding Association a great commercial that address that issue...

To give a little background: ten years ago I was trained as a lactation educator, during my early years as a WIC dietitian. I did a lot of counseling and teaching and preaching about breastfeeding before I had any real personal experience with my first baby. I expected nothing less than a glorious, easy experience with breastfeeding when Olivia was born. I was devastated when things didn't work out that way.

I struggled and cried and investigated and still didn't figure out how I could make enough milk so that Olivia could grow. With both babies I pumped for weeks and tried every breastfeeding contraption and device, herbal supplement, prescription medication, and any other thing that could possibly increase my milk supply, including ordering a medication not approved for use in the US from Australia. Nothing worked. The thing that DID work is that I had great support from Ryan and my colleagues from WIC and from many friends and sisters, and I was able to breastfeed both Olivia and Coleman for over a year. Many did not understand why it was so important to me and why I still campaign for breastfeeding education and support, so I'll climb up on my soapbox for a minute and explain:

Breastfeeding isn't something extra-ordinary or special or superior in any way, it's just normal. It's the normal way human babies should be fed, it's the normal nutrition that human babies need, and it's a normal part of the nurturing process between mother and child. Anything other than breastfeeding is sub-par and deficient.

Now, a word about formula--from someone who used formula in conjunction with breastfeeding--I am grateful that it has been developed and improved over the years (there have been some serious formula scares--with deficient nutrients and food safety issues) because without it, my babies may not have thrived or survived. Despite the fact that formula has improved over the years, it still isn't the best alternative to mother's milk.
The World Health Organization places it 4th behind milk straight from the mother's breast, expressed mother's milk, and banked human milk (banked human milk is available to purchase, but at around $3 an ounce, it's not a very affordable alternative). However, in our culture, formula is so readily available and it is considered an acceptable and equal alternative to breastfeeding. Formula should be the exception, rather than the rule. Everyone argues for "choice" and for letting moms choose how they want to feed their babies. I agree, we should all be able to choose, but let it be an informed choice. lists 101 reasons to breastfeed (and includes scientific research to back it all up).

Moms should know that formula fed babies are at increased risk for:
• Ear infections
• Overweight
• Viral infections
• Allergies
• Asthma
• Diabetes
• Diarrhea
• Childhood Cancers
• Rheumatoid Arthritis
• ...and more

Not breastfeeding also places mothers at increased health risks:
• Breast Cancer
• Ovarian Cancer
• Endometriosis
• Osteoporosis
• Anemia
• Postpartum Depression

And... some other fast facts about breastfeeding:
• Breastfeeding is normal.
• Breastfeeding is convenient.
• Breastfeeding strengthens a baby's immune system.
• Breastfeeding is environmentally friendly (think about the factories and emissions to make the formula, cans, and bottles--then the waste of the cans, not to mention the plastic in the bottles that has been banned in Canada because they leech dangerous chemicals into the formula).
• Breastmilk is free (and if more chose to breastfeed, our tax burden would be lower because of decreased costs at WIC and Medicaid).
• Breastmilk protects the intestines.
• Breastfeeding is calming for mom and baby.
• Breastmilk provides complete infant nutrition.

Of course there are breastfed babies who are not healthy, and likewise formula fed babies who are healthy (just as wearing a seatbelt doesn't guarantee that you won't die in a car wreck, nor will skipping the seatbelt guarantee that you will die in a car wreck), but overall statistics show that formula fed babies are at higher risk for so many problems. Don't parents deserve to know this information when they are making their choice? There will still be those who choose to use formula (just as people choose to drive or ride without a seatbelt, knowing the health risks) but families deserve to have this information before they make their choice.

There are some women who for reasons beyond their control have unsuccessful attempts at breastfeeding, but I propose that most women, with proper education and support can breastfeed successfully. There are other women who choose to bottle-feed, and I just hope that they make that choice with all of the facts in hand. As moms we need to help and support each other, whatever our choice and circumstances are. Maybe after this lengthy rant, you can understand why breastfeeding is supported here.
If you want more info about the Breastfeeding Cafe, visit the Utah Breastfeeding Coalition's website ( We have some fun Mother's Circles and free classes and events throughout the month. Stop by sometime during the month of August!

Climbing down from my soapbox now....

In Defense of Martha

This beautiful painting by Walter Rane shows Mary listening intently to Jesus Christ (choosing the good part, as Jesus later told Martha) as Martha works in the background (see Luke 10:38-42). Today in Relief Society our teacher asked us for some insights on this story. Many comments included things like "making sure we choose the better part", "focusing on the important things in life," "not getting caught up in the busyness of life so that we improve our spirituality", etc. It seems that whenever we talk about Mary and Martha, Mary is the righteous one and Martha is accused of choosing a "less good part."

In defense of Martha (to whom I relate much more than I do to Mary), I'd like to propose that Martha was showing her love for the Savior and expressing her faith in Him by doing the things that she chose to do. She was likely preparing food and cleaning up and making sure that her guest was taken care of. Her work and efforts made it possible for Mary to sit in the company of the Savior and learn from him.

I loved what was said in General Conference last April about needing different kinds of people in the Church:

"The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole."--Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, Ensign, May 2008

I'm not bagging on Mary in any way, I know she was a great lady too. Nor am I dismissing in any way that which is "needful"--studying the gospel, learning from the Savior, and being spiritually filled--but can't we all give Martha a break and appreciate her for the service she rendered and the way she expressed her love for the Savior?

Hooray for Martha!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Eat Pray Love

I just finished this book while on my relaxing vacation to Bear Lake with Ryan's family. I had heard both good and bad about it, so I went into it with low expectations, but I ended up really enjoying it. There were a few things I could have done without (thus, I won't recommend it across the board) but overall it was an interesting record of "one woman's search for everything across Italy, India, and Indonesia". The author spent a year searching for balance between pleasure and devotion--her first four months in Italy focusing on pleasure (there's nothing more pleasurable than pastries, pizza, and pasta!), her next four months praying and meditating in an Ashram in India, and the last four months trying to find a proper balance in Bali, Indonesia.

She had some great insights, particularly in the Pray and Love sections.

I loved how she described the progression of her prayers:

"My prayers are becoming more deliberate and specific. It has occurred to me that it's not so much use to send prayers out to the universe that are lazy. Every morning before meditation, I kneel in the temple and talk for a few minutes to God. I found during the beginning of my stay here at the Ashram that I was often dull-witted during those divine conversations. Tired, confused and bored, my prayers sounded the same. I remember kneeling down one morning, touching my forehead to the floor and muttering to my creator, 'Oh, I dunno what I need...but you must have some just do something about it, would you?'

"Similar to the way I have oftentimes spoken to my hairdresser.

"And I'm sorry... but that's a little lame. You can imagine God regarding that prayer with an arched eyebrow, and sending back this message: 'Call me again when you decide to get serious about this.'

"Of course God already knows what I need. The question is--do I know? Casting yourself at God's feet in helpless desperation is all well and good--heaven knows I've done it myself plenty of times--but ultimately you're likely to get more out of the experience if you can take some action on your end...

"Prayer is a relationship; half the job is mine."

I need to do better with my own prayers--I thought she articulated very well what I have so often thought.

Another idea that hit home is that I often spend time worrying about things that I really can't control. I loved this thought:

"There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under my jurisdiction... I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I eat and read and study. I can choose how I'm going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life--whether I will see them as curses or opportunities (and on the occasions when I can't rise to the most optimistic viewpoint, because I'm feeling too damn sorry for myself, I can choose to keep trying to change my outlook). I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts."

And finally, I loved this idea on happiness that she recalled as she traveled down the streets of Bali on her bicycle:

"I keep remembering one of my Guru's teachings about happiness. She says that people universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you're fortunate enough. But that's not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don't, you will leak away your innate contentment. It's easy enough to pray when you're in distress but continuing to pray even when your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul to hold tight to its good attainments."

There are many other gems of humor and wisdom throughout the book--overall, a great read.

**Any thoughts?