hamster dance

In honor of Uno's two-week birthday, I am re-posting the "Hamster Dance" video for your viewing pleasure! Happy birthday, little Uno!


uno sees the light

When I checked on the hamsters this morning, the first thing I noticed was that little Uno [rather than stumbling haphazardly through the pineshavings like usual] was walking straight and steady and with a purpose. As I got a closer look, I found that Uno now has eyes! Uno looks so much more like a hamster now with those beady little black eyes. Before s/he resembled some sort of alien creature [much like human newborns, I suppose].

The kids were so excited at this new development and we celebrated by holding both of the hamsters since we're now safely past the whole stress-eating issue. Little Uno's two-week birthday is tomorrow, and [according to my research] that seems to be the safe time to start handling them. Of course I couldn't resist getting a picture of the little one. Just look at that face!


love at first scent

I think I'm in love. With Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel.

Now, I know this is old news. Mademoiselle has been out for a few years now. But I'll be the first to admit that I'm behind the times. I noticed the new ad campaign [with Kiera Knightley] on the internet and had checked out the website. So, when I came across a magazine sample, I decided to try it. I rubbed every bit that I could off of that paper and onto my skin. And I really loved it! Even Owen, who barely notices what I look like, let alone if I smell good or not, told me that I smelled good. Hey, if he noticed, it has to be good!

So, I get to thinking. I know without even looking at the price list that I won't be rushing off to buy a bottle anytime soon. Christmas is always an option, yet so far away. Suddenly I remember the times when my friends and I were in high school and went to all the fragrance counters, collecting as many sample vials of perfume that we could. Hmm. I wonder. Do they still give out those little samples? I decide to find out.

After my visiting teaching appointment in the morning [yes, I am the eleventh hour visiting teacher], I stop by the local department store and head straight for the Chanel counter. After spritzing myself with Coco Mademoiselle [OK, dousing is really a much more accurate word], I score my sample of Mademoiselle! With a sample of Allure as well, just for good measure.

So now I have some. Maybe if I strategically place the Chanel ad just so on the bathroom counter, Owen will get the hint. Or maybe I can just keep going back for more samples! That could be fun it and of itself. There's just something about scent for me. When I am wearing something that really smells good, it's an automatic pick-me up. It even seems to keep me centered throughout the day when things get crazy. Maybe I'm just crazy!

sunrise, sunset

I was organizing our digital photos on Picasa today when I came across some photographs taken back when Collin was born. This particular photo was taken the day after Collin was born, a little over three years ago. I am simply amazed at how much our kids have grown since Collin joined our family.

For instance, look at Bailey. Bailey was 9 years old in this picture. And now look at him! Amazing what three years will do. He's on the cusp of adolescence [much to my dismay]. Libby was 6 years old and less than a month away from starting first grade in this picture. And now she's this totally capable 4th grader. And little bitty Julia-3 years old here. How much she has grown, especially in just the last six months or so. Little Collin went from 0 to 3 in what feels like no time at all.

Many years ago someone told me [it may have been my mom] that once the kids start school, the years just fly by. At the time I didn't fully appreciate what that meant, perhaps because Bailey wasn't in school yet. But now I feel as if the years have really been getting away from me. How can it have been this long since Collin was born and yet it feels like hardly any time has passed? Maybe being so busy with the daily needs of a family has rather dulled my sense of time. It has really made me take pause and try to better live in the moment with my family, since the moments are so fleeting. [This must be what getting old feels like!]

Enough philosophizing. Aren't they cute!

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tender herb

"My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distill as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass." Deuteronomy 32:2

Went outside this morning to see what I could see, and I immediately noticed all the amazing dew on the French lavender plant in the stone garden. I just love how the camera picked up all the individual beads of dew so clearly and how luminescent they look!

mini & baby

Mini, the hamster cannibal-ahem, I mean mother

As I've had some requests for hamster baby updates recently, here's the latest: we are down to one baby, and I have every reason to believe that this one is a keeper. Uno, as I affectionately refer to this little survivor, was apparently the only hamster to escape his/her mother's wrath. [let's just say that Mini has had her fill of protein in the last week and leave it at that] And she looks so innocent, too!

Actually, I have felt rather badly for little Mini. She was pretty young to be a hamster mom. When I compare sizes of the mother and baby [you'll get a chance to see them together in the video], the baby is just so big. I don't know how she ever could have taken care of seven at once. Uno is plump and sturdy. Still blind as a bat, though. The eyes are supposed to open within the next week, so that should be fun.

Here's a short video I took of mom and baby!


i do it!

Meet Collin. Collin is three years old. Collin is potty trained and a big boy. Collin likes to do things all by himself. "I do it!" is a constant refrain at our house.

One morning Collin wants to put his clothes on all by himself. "I do it!" Of course Mom allows Collin to do it, if only to avoid the inevitable tidal wave of shrieks and cries of sheer frustration as a result of being denied to dress himself. Mom knows that she will eventually have to help Collin turn his shirt around [and possibly his pants, too], preferably before going anywhere in public.

This morning Mom could not resist getting pictures of Collin after he had dressed himself. At first glance, everything seems to be fine [see above photo]. So what's the big deal?

Upon closer inspection, Mom immediately realizes that wearing a collared shirt backwards is far more humorous than wearing a plain old T-shirt the wrong way! Mom realizes that she must give Collin due credit for trying. After all, doesn't the cute picture belong on the FRONT of your shirt? Why do the shirt-people have to make these things so complicated!!

And yes, Mom definitely needs to hit the mall, as high waters [even for three-year-olds] are never in style. If Collin were a girl, Mom could have the luxury of declaring them capri pants. Mom is just waiting for the fashion powers-that-be to declare capris in style for boys as well.


sunday cookin'

Homemade chicken noodle soup, with homemade gluten-free noodles. Oh my yum. Words simply cannot express my delight! And the best part? My wonderful husband created this amazing soup for us, and it was entirely his own idea. [I was just going to make boring spaghetti for dinner.] He's so great like that. We already had the cooked chicken in the freezer, left over from the Elders Quorum BBQ we hosted over the summer. So that just needed defrosting. And Owen made the gluten-free noodles with our handy-dandy Atlas pasta roller that we just love for stuff like this. The kids just gobbled it up. A perfect autumn dinner.

And for dessert he also made gluten-free chocolate chip cookies from a new recipe I had found on a website today before I went upstairs for my after-church-post-nursery-duty-all-by-myself Sunday nap [you can tell what I did today]. He actually made those after church, before starting the soup. I just love it when he cooks!


morning storm

[Nature, like man, sometimes weeps from gladness--Benjamin Disraeli]
Early this morning [around 3 or 4 am] we had a thunderstorm with a fair bit of rain. Although we awoke to clouds and grey skies, at around 8 am the clouds parted and this amazing golden sun broke through and warmed up the damp and dewy morning. I couldn't resist grabbing my camera and heading out the front door to capture some shots of the dahlias in the yard dripping with the autumn rain. [I posted my favorite one above.] We had another thunderstorm tonight just as we were getting the kids ready for bed. Even Collin was getting excited about all the thunder and lightning that was rumbling and flashing about. It must be in the genes, for I have loved thunderstorms ever since I was about 6 or 7 years old. I have vivid memories of watching the entire backyard light up, just as clear as day, during the many thunderstorms when we lived in Redding, CA. And I love how you can smell the rain, even before it falls. I even open some windows while it's raining so I can enjoy its soothing sounds. There's just something about rain and thunder and lightning that just makes me want to snuggle up with a blanket and get cozy with a book, or sit and watch the storm through the windows.


blue ribbon

For the last thirteen years, the K-6 teachers at the kids' new school plan art projects and crafts for the students to create and submit for display during the county fair every September. Earlier this month I volunteered to help the teachers for Libby and Julia's classes prepare the class projects for transport to the fair by placing name tags onto each project, placing smaller projects or crafts onto one display, and bundling the whole lot into a butcher paper envelope with teacher/school information on the front so that all the projects could be delivered to the fair in time for them to be placed on display. As a new parent at the school, this was my initiation into the inner workings of "fair project preparation." And I seriously underestimated the magnitude of the venture!

Libby's class made two projects and Julia's class did eight. As the only parent volunteer for both teachers, it took me a good five hours straight [I didn't even stop for lunch] to get everything ready in time for them to be loaded at 3:15 into the SUV that was headed for the fair. I can still remember how exhausted I was when I was done! But I'm so glad the kids had the opportunity to have something entered in the fair, especially since we didn't have any farm animals or such to enter like some other students did. [For some reason I don't think they would have considered our spastic Chinese Shar-Pei, two grubby cats, or four dwarf hamsters fair-worthy!]

And the final results? Libby's class earned blue ribbons for their "Corn Harvest" projects, which were really nicely done by the students! Congratulations all around! Libby said they also earned blue ribbons for their flag projects, although she hasn't brought it home yet. I haven't heard anything yet for Julia's class. Fortunately I have a whole year to recuperate until the next fair...


animal farm

Meet Wesley [L] and Laverne [R]

The girls hanging out with the rabbits in Dad's workshop

In case you're in doubt as to whether or not I've officially lost all my [remaining] marbles and gotten more pets for the kids, please rest assured that we are only babysitting Wesley and Laverne!

Animal surprise #1. Here's the deal: Friday night Owen and I decided to get Japanese takeout from our favorite place. Once we'd settled down with our spicy shrimp rolls, miso soup, and teriyaki salmon, we put in a movie that Owen had rented. Now, when Owen rents movies, chances are that I'm only interested in about, oh, say one out of every five that he brings home. He'll watch just about anything within our rating parameters, but I'm a bit picky about movies. I guess I'd just rather read than spend time watching something I'm not that into. Tonight's Blockbuster pick was "Deja Vu" with Denzel. From what I'd remembered from previews and from looking at the DVD case, it looked like another exploding-cars/shoot-em-up type movie. So not my thing. I had already decided [to myself] that after I had finished dinner, I would just bring my book in and read on the couch by Owen as he watched the movie. A good compromise. But the movie took a different turn than I expected and I found that I was actually enjoying it.

So, we're watching Denzel in action when at 9:30 the phone rings. Someone in the ward was calling to see if we could take in a couple of box-trained house rabbits that night. A family in our ward had to move out of their apartment because they found black mold in the wall. Owen says that we can do it, and after he gets off the phone, we look at each other. Box trained house rabbits? Do we know what we're doing? Owen then explains to me that they also have a "playpen" that can be set up, and we decide to set the rabbits up in the laundry room in the playpen. The husband can't meet Owen to turn over the rabbits until he gets off work, so at 11:30 pm Owen goes over there to pick up the rabbits. We set them up in the laundry room, but when we realize that this setup basically renders the laundry room useless, we decide to move them out into Owen's shop for a week or two. So far that seems to be working out well. As you can imagine, our kids were thrilled to wake up Saturday morning to find two rabbits in the house! They're helping to feed and water them, pet them, and brush their fur. It's all very exciting.

Animal surprise #2. That same Saturday morning, after we had moved Wesley and Laverne out to the shop, Julia was in the laundry room where we keep her hamster cage. I was on the phone when she rushed up to me and exclaimed that there was a worm in Mini's cage. Still on the phone, I go in to investigate. Sure enough, there is something pink and squiggly in Mini's cage. But it's not a worm. I quickly hurry Julia from the room and close the door, explaining that we'll worry about it in a minute. Because I was having a "duh" moment. For weeks we had watched Mini get rounder and plumper. I just thought she was hitting the hamster food really hard and was growing. Alas, no. Mini was preggers!

I immediately put Oreo into his own little cage away from the mother and babies and got on the internet to find out all about hamster babies. I continued to check on Mini [while keeping everyone else out] because in my reading I learned that stressed hamster mothers often eat their young. You should have seen the look on the girls' faces when I told them that! [Let that be a lesson to my kids-if you stress me out too much, I might salt and pepper you and have you for lunch!] I had counted seven babies by that afternoon, but I noticed later that evening that I wasn't seeing as many. By Sunday morning she was down to two babies, and they seem to be thriving. I think that seven may have just been to much for her to cope with as a young, first-time mother. I can't really blame her. At least we never saw her actually, uh, getting rid of them. I don't think I could have handled that. And I pretty much kept the kids away because I didn't think they'd like to see it, either.

See that little pink blob, about the size of an uncracked peanut? Hamster baby!

So, according to my research and if all continues to go well, in about 5 weeks we will have two little hamsters needing good homes. Free hamsters, anyone?



Earlier this week I was at the bank. As I was signing my name, the young teller [who appeared to be at least partially Middle Eastern] asked me how I pronounce my name. When I told him, he looked interested and asked me, "Like the song?" I was thinking he was referring [as many people have in the past] to a song by some little boys singing about Aisha on the playground, so I said, "Yeah, yeah, I know that old song you're talking about." When he said that the song he was thinking about was fairly recent, I was curious and asked him to tell me more. He said it was a song by a group called Outlandish [they're a sort of eclectic, world-type band from Denmark, although the members are part Middle Eastern] and that it was called "Aicha" and pronounced the same way my name is [I guess the two are interchangeable].

He wrote it all down for me, told me that there were also versions of the song in French and Arabic, and then almost hesitantly asked me if I was part Arabic. That was kind of funny to me, since if you've ever seen me you know there is no way I could be Arabic-way too pale and not nearly exotic enough! I told him that although I wasn't Arabic, I was familiar with the Arabic origins of my name. In case you've never heard the story, before I was born my dad was reading a novel in Spanish [a language that has many Moorish influences] where the main character's name was Aisha. In the novel her name was originally spelled "Aixa." Thank heavens they didn't go for that spelling or I really would be in trouble. Aisha was also the name of Mohammed's youngest wife.

So, my interest was piqued. I googled it and actually came up with a video of the song on YouTube. The song is really mellow and sweet and I rather like it. Evidently this version is a remake of an older song by the same name [after seeing/hearing the original as well, I definitely like this one better] but it's sung in French. The video definitely has a Middle Eastern/World vibe to it. Click here to watch the video!


free day

Bailey spies on Bijou from behind

I figured that the week wouldn't be complete without another hamster shot, so here it is in all its glory. The kids have the day off from school today because of the County Fair. They actually get in free to the fair today, but after you spend $15 apiece for the ride bracelets, plus my adult admission and spare change for eats, it's not so free anymore. So, we've just been laying low today. I scheduled annual physicals [with shots-ouch] for Bailey and Libby this morning, but after that we were home free. See what happens when we have too much time!

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little philmont

Over the weekend Owen and I attended Little Philmont. Huh? My first response, too. Actually, when Owen told me a couple of months ago that we were going to Little Philmont, my first reaction was, "Who's Philmont, and how little is he?" Anyway, Little Philmont is LDS Scout Training. As Owen is YM President/Assistant Scoutmaster and I am Scout Committee Chair [it sounds so official], we were invited to attend. It was held at Camp Chawanakee on Shaver Lake, and is actually the same camp that our Boy Scouts attend in the summer. Grammie agreed to watch the little people for us and we camped overnight on Friday and had training classes for most of Saturday. We also had some really great devotionals and talks. Kind of reminded me of Girl's Camp, but without all the singing and crying.

Both of us learned a lot about scouting that weekend, but we also learned some things about each other as well. Owen learned that I hate it when we're leaving to go somewhere and he rushes off ahead to leave me trailing behind him. You know, like a puppy or a caddy or something. And I learned something about Owen on the drive up and back. You know the guy on the road that turns on his blinker to switch lanes and after he switches then forgets all about the blinker for miles and then you end up driving behind him, wondering if he really means to have his blinker on and being all courteous and ready for him to move again until [in frustration] you finally realize he's just completely oblivious and you get away from him as quickly as possible? Owen is that guy. I suppose it's not entirely his fault, since he banged up his driver's side door frame many years ago, causing airflow to rush through the very top of the window frame and making a lot of noise. But I just thought it was hilarious. Of course Owen didn't!



How do you get from THIS

to THIS?

Go to Face of the Future and find out! I found out about this website and had some fun playing around with it. You upload your own pictures and then choose a style to have them transformed in. The one above of Bailey was transformed in El Greco style. Pretty funny, right! I did pictures of all the kids and uploaded them to Flickr; you can click on my Flickr link to see all the pictures.
One problem I found when using the website: for some reason it wouldn't upload some of my pictures. I would try over and over to upload the same one, but it just wouldn't. But then I would try a different picture and it would upload with no problem. I'm not sure what the deal is, but just so you know. There are also some other options to play around with, like face averaging and face morphing. Just in case you had nothing else to do all day!



Since Collin and I had been on the go all morning long, [and had a long afternoon still ahead of us] we treated ourselves to lunch @ Panda Express. Now, I just have to tell you that Collin has a thing for pandas. Big time. Ever since I gave him a small stuffed panda a few months ago, it's been all about the panda. So, you can imagine his delight when we stepped into a restaurant full of them! He literally couldn't stop pointing at and talking about all the various pandas situated on the walls, on the cup, and on the employees' shirts. He even carried on a conversation with the panda sign located on the window just above where we were sitting. He was so excited he could hardly even down his favorite Chinese dish of all time, broccoli beef, aka [by Collin] as "trees and chicken." I had to keep telling him that panda had made his lunch especially for him and that he needed to eat it! Funny little fella.


i dream of . . . barack obama?

Have you ever just been going through your normal business when all of a sudden you suddenly remember part of a crazy dream you had the night before? There's a quick flash, almost a memory, but not quite. A fleeting picture in your mind, the feeling you had in the moment. And then it's gone.
Just a few minutes ago I remembered a crazy dream I had last night. I was talking to a friend from high school that I hadn't seen in a long time [in real life]. She invited me to come over to her house for dinner, so suddenly, as is wont in dreams, we are travelling in her car and arrive in front of her house. It looks just like any normal house should. But as we walk up the steps and open the front door, she tells me that she is dating Barack Obama and that he is there, right now, and is making dinner for us. What? In my dream I remember that she was always very political and a Democrat, so after my initial shock I'm not terribly surprised. But as we go inside, I am panicking. What in the world are we going to talk about? What could I possibly say to Barack Obama? I meet and shake hands with him [I'm pretty sure he was wearing an apron] and then the dream starts to get fuzzy. The most I can conjure up at this point is something about levitating stemware and golden candles, and the rest is a blank. Crazy. I should really watch what I eat before bedtime. . .


I hadn't checked my blog for a couple of days, so when Owen went upstairs early tonight and was actually **GASP** not on the computer, I logged on and found that I'm IT! That's right, I've been tagged. It actually sounds like fun, since I haven't done one for awhile. Sadly, I fear that my answers will be just as boring as usual, but here goes.

4 jobs I've had:

1. summer camp counselor
2. For exactly 2 days I worked as a night janitor at BYU
3. One of Megan's replies reminded me of this one: when my dad taught Driver's Training [you know, way back in the Dark Ages of high school] he used to bring me along to ride in the back seat so that he wouldn't be alone with the student. Looking back now, I cannot believe my mom ever let me get in the car with an unlicensed high school student. If you know my mom, you would totally understand my amazement!
4. movie theater

4 movies I could watch over and over:

There is really only one: "Pride and Prejudice" [1995, BBC] with Colin Firth. All 5 hours of it. Think Mr. Darcy diving into a Pemberley pond. Yum.

4 places I've lived:

1. Spanish Fork, UT [and that's "Fark" if you're a native] Have actually lived there twice. If I ever move back I give you permission to shoot me.
2. Camarillo, CA
3. Visalia, CA
4. Ashland, OR

4 favorite TV/reality shows:

2. Gilmore Girls
3. Felicity
4. Grey's Anatomy [what can I say-it's my guilty pleasure]

4 favorite foods:

1. BBQ chicken, rice, beans, & salsa from Pepe's Pollos [added bonus: no cooking or clean-up]
2. Tillamook Mudslide ice cream
3. 3 Musketeer bars [I really dig the mini ones]
4. lemon poppyseed bread [gluten-free, of course]

4 websites I visit daily:

1. email
2. blogspot
3. amazon [books]
4. tulare county library website [to check books ready for pick-up on my queue]

4 hobbies I enjoy:

1. reading
2. piano
3. designing & making handmade cards
4. any crafty-type things

4 friends I tag:

Oh, boy. Now you've got me. The cursor blinks mockingly at me as I think. I know basically one person who blogs, and since she already tagged me, I'm not going for a tag-back. It's just not cool, you know? So here it is: if you're reading this and have your own blog, consider yourself tagged. And the best part is, I won't ever know if you did it or not, since I don't know about your blog. See? It's getting easier already.