Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pretty Dang Easy Halloween Costumes

. . . and fairly cheap too.

Neal has worn the same costume for the past three years. He was supposed to be an astronaut but it was really just an orange jumpsuit with a little flag on it. He could have been a "trustee". Anyway, the costume no longer fits him and we told him that he had to be something else this year. His hair was getting very long so I suggested that we make his hair crazy and he could be a mad scientist. He actually agreed. So we put off the desperately needed haircut (it will be getting cut off on Monday). I borrowed a lab coat from a neighbor/friend. We put gel in his hair and some make-up on his face.

And clearly he added the "mad" to the mad scientist all on his own. It's really not that far of a stretch.

Amberly wanted to be Tinkerbell but I didn't want to pay the price for the Disney costume. I made her a green tutu. I'd never made one before but it was so easy and actually kind of fun. We bought the wings and some sparkly face paint at Target and she was happy. She wore it all over her leotard and pink leggings. When we go trick-r-treating this evening she'll probably have to wear it over her coat.

She has gorgeous eyes. Love her. She's worn her costume all day and has been "flying" all over the house spreading her own type of pixie dust.

Thomas wanted to be a skeleton. It was a perfect costume for him because he loves bones. For a few years now he has spent so much time looking at his "bone book". I hunted high and low (well, at two Walmarts, a Target, and an Old Navy) for a skeleton costume for him. They all had skeleton costumes but they were either for babies or for adults (I could go on and on about what I think about adult costumes, but I won't. At least not now). I finally found a T-shirt at Old Navy with a rib cage. I bought the black pants and a black turtle neck from Old Navy as well. When I got home and showed it to him, he was a little upset because it didn't have a pelvis. I promised to make him a pelvis. I cut out the basic shape of a pelvis and leg bones (ask him the real names--he knows) and stitched them on the pants by hand. Add a little face paint and voila! The most adorable skeleton I have ever seen (even if he does have a cold).

Thomas has some serious attitude made even more serious by his cold. We skipped all the other Halloween parties because we were sick but we promised the kids they could still go trick-r-treating. We figured that we'd be outside and not spreading the germs too bad. But he did spread his attitude. He informed several nice and patient people that he hated suckers and purple candy. He gave them back. He didn't last long before we sent him home to bed with Gramps.

Lilly's costume was the easiest. She recycled Amberly's dance costume. Sigh. I am smiling about this one. Obviously, she's supposed to be Minnie Mouse--who is her favorite right now. (It's time for us to make a visit to Disneyland.) She's silly and she LOVED trick-r-treating tonight and she really LOVED the candy.

Molly was going to be a clown and wear the clown costume that Amberly wore when she was a baby. That was the plan until Thursday night when I suddenly changed my mind. We often call Molly our "cherry on top of the sundae" because she is so sweet and because she is probably, most-likely, almost definitely our last child. So, after a quick trip to Walmart to buy more tulle and ribbon and quickly making another tutu (I'm in love with them now), Molly became the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae. No one could really figure out what she was, so it probably wasn't that great of a costume, but we liked it.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Winner is . . .

The winner of the book What the Bayou Saw is . . .

Lisa said...

I'd love a new book to read.

Congratulations, Lisa. Just send me an email with your information so that I can send your new book. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"What the Bayou Saw" -- Book Review and Give-away

Over the past six months I've received three books to read and review. The first book had potential but also included several things that I found offensive and so I'm sure most of you would too. The second book was frequently compared to Twilight and if you know me at all, you know that I didn't care too much for Twilight. This other book was definitely in the same genre as Twilight and I ended up appreciating Twilight so much more (that's saying A LOT)--but that's a post for another time.

So, by the time What the Bayou Saw arrived in my mailbox, I really wanted to like it. Thankfully, it didn't disappoint me.

Patti Lacy, the author of What the Bayou Saw is fairly new to the writing of fiction. She published her first book, An Irishwoman's Tale, last year. While I occasionally found myself tripping over extra words in her second book, Lacy is an expert story teller and as the plot gains momentum the writing improves and finally begins to disappear within the tale.

In What the Bayou Saw, Lacy weaves a story about Sally, a middle-aged college instructor living with her family in Normal, Illinois. Sally is your typical woman, concerned with her weight and worried about her relationships with her family members, but is in no way a static, flat character. She is deep and real and reminded me of many women that have touched my own life.

While Sally seems in control of her life and "normal", she is actually hiding dark secrets from her childhood spent in Louisiana during the 1960s. However, an act of violence against one of Sally's students, causes her to face the truth of her past; repair a damaged friendship and find healing in her own life.

Ultimately, Patti Lacy tells a contemporary story that handles hot topics such as racism, sexual abuse, middle age, marriage, Christianity, repentance and redemption with an honesty and integrity that is rare in literature today.

I enjoyed it and think you will too so I want to share it with all of you. I planned to give away the copy that the publishers had originally sent me but, well, I liked it. I am a bit of a "book hoarder" (as Utah Dad calls me) and besides that, the book experienced some minor water damage from an overzealous two-year old and her sippy cup. So, I contacted the publishers and they were so sweet to send me another copy so that I can give one away to one of you.

To win a free copy of What the Bayou Saw leave a comment on this post and for an extra chance do one or more of the following:

1. Become a follower of Utah Mom's Life Blog.
2. Add the Utah Mom's Life Blog Button to your blog.
3. Write a post about this give-away on your own blog or Facebook or just tell a friend if you're old fashioned and still communicate with people face-to-face (then come back and leave another comment so I know).

Good luck. The winner of What the Bayou Saw will be announced on Friday, October 30th.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hogle Zoo - Out and About in Utah

Last Friday we joined Utah Dad's parents at Hogle Zoo. They buy a grandparent's pass each year and we enjoy going with them to the zoo quite frequently. It's a great deal. We haven't been since Hogle Zoo has welcomed its newest members. There are all kinds of new babies at the zoo.

A crowd had gathered around the elephant encounter in anticipation of viewing the new baby elephant. My older kids and their grandparents worked their way to the front. We waited for about five minutes before little Zuri and her mother came out. I never would have guessed that watching a baby elephant could be so much fun. Zuri ran around, rolled in the hay, splashed in the water and even slipped and fell right on her backside. The kids were delighted. From her vantage point on my shoulders, Lilly could see all the action and she laughed and laughed.

The baby giraffe was much more reserved than the little elephant. He stood near his parents, quietly looking around. We couldn't see that he has been named, so we called him "Melman" and my kids serenaded him with the song from "Madagascar 2". Fascinating creatures, giraffes.

There are baby tigers at the zoo too but I couldn't get a picture of them. Of course, I had to include another picture of my little Molly in her usual place in the Snugli with Utah Dad. She's so cute.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Park City - Out and About in Utah

The kids were out of school on Thursday and Friday last week so my husband (now known as Utah Dad) took some vacation from work too. My sister and her husband rented a condo in Park City, Utah for the week and they invited us to join them for a day. We drove up to Park City on Thursday morning and spent the afternoon with them exploring beautiful Main Street.

The weather was perfect--jacket weather for some and short-sleeve weather for others. We walked up and down Main Street exploring shops and art galleries. It was, by the way, a decidedly adult adventure. The kids enjoyed some of the galleries but mostly they whined about being bored and they begged to go on the Alpine Slide (I was being too cheap for that expensive thrill). I suppose being told not to touch things a hundred times could grate on the nerves of even the most patient little person. We did bribe them with yummy fudge and they really were pretty good about keeping their hands to themselves.

We found some cool places to take pictures of my sister's family and my willing children. We had intended to our family pictures as well but it had been a chaotic morning getting ready and I wasn't in the mood to pick out coordinating outfits or do fancy hair dos. Some day we will actually get a family picture taken.

After our walk, we returned to the condo where we made steak fajitas for dinner. My brother and his family joined us later. We made plans to build our own family lodge (dreams), learned how to play the European version of Ticket to Ride, watched Glenn Beck (man, he gets excited) and didn't get very much sleep even though the bed and pillows were really rather comfortable.

Park City, Utah really is a neat place to visit. Utah Dad and I are trying to figure out how we can escape there again sans children.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pom Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice

As the healthy benefits of  pomegranates become more well known to our health-conscious society we've started to see the trendy fruit pop up in everything from cereal to soda. While it will take more than the addition of pomegranate to convince me that soda is good for me, POM Wonderful is the real deal. The pomegranate juice that comes packaged in these adorable little bottles is 100% pomegranate juice from happy "Wonderful" pomegranates grown in California.

The lovely people from Pom Wonderful sent me a box containing eight bottles of their pure Pom Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice last week. I have to admit my immediate infatuation with the bottles. They are too cute and I have a weakness for cuteness. I would have drank the first one right then if I had been able to get it open without the assistance of my strong husband.

While I waited for him to be able to help me, I read the enclosed information. The brochure listed some of the clinical research on the healthy benefits of Pom Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice. I read words such as "cardiovascular health", "prostate health", and "erectile function" and decided to make my husband drink it. I would sacrifice for his health.

I did drink one bottle and he drank the other seven--one bottle of Pom Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice each day for a week. Honestly, he didn't immediately love the tartness (I often tease him about his wimpy taste buds) but the taste grew on him and he didn't mind it by the end of the week. I personally enjoyed the taste and would compare it to 100% cranberry juice.

While I believe that it would take more regular and longer consumption to really be able to detect medical changes in his cardiovascular and prostate health, he did claim to have more energy last week and his digestive health seemed improved (we don't really want to discuss that--let's just say any improvement is good). It's also loaded with antioxidants.

Enjoy the healthy benefits of pomegranates the pure way. In Utah, Pom Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice can be purchased at Smith's, Harmon's, Albertsons and Wild Oats.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Carry On!

After he coached Neal's final soccer game of the season (we only had eight players and should have forfeited but the other team wanted to play. The score was 0 to 0. Our best game of the season.) my husband and I rushed to attend the funeral of one of the dearest, wisest people I have ever had the privilege of knowing.

I first met Alice Ruth not long after I met and married my husband. She lived in the same canyon as my in-laws. It was her canyon. And you could not spend any time in the canyon without meeting her. She taught Relief Society then and I loved hearing her lessons. I honestly don't remember most Relief Society lessons. I find it hard to sit still that long (I suppose that's why I'm in the nursery). But I remember her lessons. I can't forget them.

She taught me how to pray unceasingly--to pray for my husband and children while I served them by making their dinner and matching their socks. She taught me to have faith in miracles and the power of the Priesthood. She taught me to enjoy and love my children--to forget about the dirty dishes occasionally and pull my little ones onto my lap for a hug and a story. She taught me to take a moment for myself--a little nap--so that I would be ready to serve my children when they needed me. She taught me to proclaim the gospel. She taught me to study my scriptures more diligently.

When my oldest children were very little, my mother-in-law and I would take the kids over to Alice Ruth's house to visit occasionally. She and Neal worked on a jigsaw puzzle while she told us stories of her adventures as the wife of a mission president in Brazil (twice). She told wonderful stories and she always bore her testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You could not doubt that she knew that Jesus Christ was her Savior. She knew it.

Her funeral, yesterday, was amazing. The talks given by her children and friends so perfectly described who she was and what she stood for. But the hymns, more than anything else, seemed a final message from Alice Ruth to those of us left in mortality. The opening hymn was "There is Sunshine in my Soul Today". Her grandchildren (she had many lovely grandchildren) sang "True to the Faith" and the congregation sang "Carry On" for the closing hymn.

Alice Ruth will be missed. Is missed. But she has taught those of us who had a chance to listen to her speak the things that really matter. And now it is up to us to have sunshine in our souls, remain true to the faith, and quite simply, carry on!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Winner of the "Jump Into Reading" Book

Congratulations! The winner of a copy of the recently published Jump Into Reading is

Tara L.

Tara, send me an email with your mailing address so that you can get your new book. I hope you enjoy it. And thanks for reading Utah Mom's Life Blog.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cornbelly's at Thanksgiving Point - Out and About in Utah

We decided to spend our afternoon at Cornbelly's at Thanksgiving Point yesterday. We took advantage of some coupons (keep your eyes open for them--the kids usually get some from school) to get in for less. So, we met Mamau and Gramps (my husband's parents) as soon as the kids got out of school. The parking lots were empty. The gate was closed. We were an hour early (just so you know--Cornbelly's opens at 4:00 p.m.).

We had some time to wait so we decided to check out the Art Institute. We knew nothing about the Art Institute but we parked near it and saw a sign announcing that they were doing blowing glass inside. Ever since I visited a glass store in Portsmouth, NH and read a Dick Francis novel about a glass blower (I can't remember which one, they're all rather fun though) I've been fascinated by glass blowing. It is an amazing art. Curiousity got the better of me and we wandered inside.

We spent most of the next hour watching two artisans create fantastic pieces of blown-glass art work. The kids were amazed and so was I. Did you know that you can go to the Art Institute and actually create your own piece of blown-glass art work for $20. I am so there!

We also wandered through the gallery and enjoyed looking at the beautiful folk art of Eric Dowdle. My Amberly was in her heaven. She is an artist, after all. We enjoyed looking at the art outside too.

This was our first experience at Cornbelly's and the kids were immediately drawn in every different direction. We gathered them up like little chicks so that we could avoid spending our afternoon looking for lost children. And then the fun began. Seriously, fun. The kids had giant smiles on their faces the entire time with the brief exception of when we wondered if we would ever find our way out of the giant "Larry H. Miller" corn maze. Oh, and Thomas was scared to tears in the belly of the monster. He wasn't the only one. We heard a lot of crying while we were in there.

There are so many fun things to do at Cornbelly's. Some of us blasted pumpkins and corn. Neal got a direct hit on this old car. We rode on the rides. Played on the slides. Jumped. Ran. Climbed. There were pig races to watch. And all the food smelled delicious (we did our best to avoid the concessions). There was even a Pumpkin Princess, who was sweet and gracious to my little princesses. We had a fabulous time and stayed much longer than we had planned.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Good Bye to Soccer Season

Amberly decided that she wanted to play soccer this year. She enjoyed watching Neal play last year and she thought it looked like fun. We signed her up and she lucked out to be on a team with our favorite coach. She played on a team with many other kids from our neighborhood.

Each Tuesday evening at practice, Amberly was excited to go. She kicked the ball around a little, skipped around the field and joked with her friends. Most of the time she appeared to be on another planet from the other soccer players. I'm very sure she wasn't on the same planet as her coach.

That's my Amberly with the pink soccer socks and the pink skirt (fashion is important even during soccer).

During the games she ran with the other kids and sometimes she even seemed to know where the ball was. She always had a positive attitude. Just before every game she'd tell the coach with honest enthusiasm that she'd score a goal for him.

I actually got one picture of Amberly kicking the ball. If the ball happened to come to her, by some miracle, she did do her best to kick it or at least try to kick it. Her dad offered to pay her a dollar if she kicked the ball ten times in one game. He saved his money.

Amberly's final game of the season was on Thursday night. It was cold--as in 44 degrees cold. She wore layers. Stylish, don't you think.

Amberly's coach really wanted her to get a chance to score a goal, so during the final quarter of the game, he sent her to stand by the goal and wait for the ball to come. If it got close to her she was supposed to kick the ball right in the goal. She obeyed her coach and hurried to her position. In fact, she never left it. Even when the goalie from the other team gave her a shove and she fell flat on her back. She just got back up and stood there some more. I wish I had gotten a picture of that shove. I did get some pictures of some of the other goalie/Amberly interaction.

She did a great job of distracting the goalie, that is for sure.

Can you see her in the back ground of this picture? Does it look like she has any idea where the ball is? Do you think that if the ball had gotten any where near her she would have known it? She is very focused on the goal and that darn goalie.

When the game was finally over and the soccer players hurried over to get their treats and their medals, Amberly was still standing by the other team's goal box. She may have been frozen solid. I called her name for a few minutes before she realized that the game had ended and she joined her team on the sidelines.

Amberly's major contribution to her soccer team this season was the beautiful poster she colored for her coach. She made sure to include each one of her teammates in the picture. What can I say? The girl is an artist. A soccer player, not so much--at least not until next year. Because after the game, I asked her if she wanted to play again next year. I was expecting her to say "no" like she did when I asked if she still wanted to take dance classes (she loved the tutu). She surprised me. She got a big smile and said, "yes! I love soccer."