Monday, September 29, 2008

I went to the zoo. . .

and I saw

An aardvark,

Blue's Clues,

a cat,


an earwig eating sunbeams,

a ferret,



an inchworm,

a Jackalope,


lion licking a lollipop,

and. . . . .

{Hummer's turn, for the last letter we were going to do because it was getting late}

I went to the zoo, and I saw an aardvark,

a cat,

a zebra,

a person,

some flowers,

{"Say something that starts with M!"},

Ms. Dickens,



and Mommy!"


So glad to know my son thinks I should be in a zoo. :)

. . . . excerpt from our Family Home Evening. . . .

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Prophet's Counsel for Raising Boys

I have SO been counting down the days to our Relief Society Broadcast tomorrow night! Yippee! It's especially exciting because Pres. Monson will be addressing the women of the Church for the first time since becoming our new prophet.

I wanted to share these words from the meeting in 2003, when our beloved Pres. Hinckley addressed his remarks "To the Women of the Church". He focused on each different life situation of the women in the audience--single sisters, older women, empty nesters, young mothers. I love that he gave specific counsel to mothers who are raising sons. (Um, that would be me. :))

 {Nurture your sons with love and counsel. Teach them the importance of personal cleanliness, of neatness in their dress. Sloppy ways lead to sloppy lives. Instill in them a sense of discipline. Keep them worthy of service to the Church as missionaries. Give them things to do so that they may learn to work. Teach them to be frugal. Labor and frugality lead to prosperity. Teach them that nothing really good happens after 11 o'clock at night. And do not spoil them. If they go on missions, they may be compelled to live in circumstances that you would not wish for them. Do not worry about them. Give them encouragement.}

I love what he said to young mothers, too! To hear these words of love and support brought me such strength! I always come home from these meetings wanting to squeeze my children and play with them and kiss my husband and all the same time. :)



{How blessed you are, my dear young mothers. You have children who will be yours forever. I hope that you have been sealed in the house of the Lord and that your family will be an everlasting family in the kingdom of our Father.

{May you be given strength to carry your heavy load, to meet every obligation, to walk side by side with a good and faithful and caring man, and together with him rear and nurture and bring up your children in righteousness and truth. Nothing else you will ever own, no worldly thing you will ever acquire will be worth so much as the love of your children. God bless you, my dear, dear young mothers.}

I am so grateful to live in a day when the Lord has sent prophets to the earth! Tomorrow night I hope to hear words of comfort and strength sent straight to my heart from my Father.

Thank you!


Thank you so much for your feedback! I loved your visit. :) Ya'll are awesome.

I have a renewed zest for attacking this thing again!

(If anyone else wants to chime in, go right ahead. It will take me awhile, but once it's done, I'll probably won't want to touch it for a LONG time. :) So now's your chance!)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What do YOU think?

I am frustrated.

I thought that it would be very cool to have a 3-column blog. So I spent literally hours making it that way.

Then everything seemed squished. I couldn't get stuff to fit right. I'm very claustrophic, and it was painful for me to look at my posts. It was just so darn hard to read the thing! So I've changed it back to something simple. (VERY simple.)

Before I fancy it up again I want to know what you think. Did you like the 3-column version of Mama's Boys? Is it nice to have the sidebar stuff all near the top, instead of needing to scroll down through weeks of blog posts to see it all? Does that part even matter, or is my post content more important?

I absolutely LOVE all your comments. They make this seem more like a conversation. I do enjoy talking to myself (scary, I know), but I tend to start becoming a hermit in my little cave, and you all help me retain some semblance of normalcy. :) My hope for this blog is to provide a peaceful, comfortable, fun place for you to "visit me" and my family, and for us to talk about life, and the things that make us happy.


So come on in! Move those books off the couch so you can sit down, have some chocolate milk, and give me your HONEST opinion. . . . .



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wordless Wednesday









Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fall Into Reading 2008

image I wandered into this somewhere in blog-land, and thought it sounded so fun! You choose the books you want to read between now and December 20th, and write up a post. As you finish the books, post reviews on your blog, and add them to her list for other readers to come and enjoy! :) If you're interested, it's hosted here at Callapidder Days.

I'm only going to name 3 books for the challenge, to give me better odds of following up on it. :) (Although most likely I'll read way more than three!)image


Anna Karenina - I made sure to ask my brother Didier to recommend a translation, since he took a Russian Lit class at BYU before his mission, and since he's the one who encouraged me to read this book!

He says the one he read was translated by Aylmer and Louise Maude. Got it from the library, and I'm ready to go. . . .(Good thing, too, because it'll probably take me the whole three months!)




Authentic Happiness - This one was recommended (and given!) to me by Dr. Wallace Goddard, who happens to be in our stake*. (Maybe you've read his articles in Meridian Magazine.) He has been teaching the most wonderful firesides bi-monthly, with a focus of strengthening marriage and parent relationships. At each one he has stacks of lovely, new books. He lets us take one and keep it on the condition that we READ it by the next fireside. Awesome!




Old Testament (KJV) - I am embarrassed to admit that I have never read the entire Bible. Most of the New Testament, yes, but my Old  Testament knowledge in particular, has been sadly lacking. I started reading it cover-to-cover in 2002, imageand now I'm at the end of Isaiah. Yay! One of my new year's goals for '08 was to finally finish the OT, so this will be my final push!





*mormon language :) = a group of local congregations--like a diocese in the Catholic church 

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Planting of the Lord


I was reading this morning in Isaiah 61, and was struck by these beautiful verses:


1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.


I love Isaiah's words about what the Messiah will do--the reasons for His coming! Almost two whole verses about His role to those who mourn!

Perhaps it will be some time before I see the "beauty for ashes" and the "oil of joy". That sounds like a Millennial promise.

But as I read the Spirit bore witness to me that I have already seen the fulfillment of some of these promises. The "spirit of heaviness" that so often weighs me down is lifted to a "garment of praise." I glorify Him for the comfort He has provided and I know He will continue to provide! Does that make me a "tree of righteousness" planted by the Lord?

Maybe just a little baby sapling for now. :)

May I grow to a tall, lovely green tree, to shade others, and to glorify my Planter!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Autumn flowers for Benjamin

DSCF3137 edit


I've had a baby born in each season of the year. Exacto was summer. Fluffy was late spring. Hummer was my winter baby.

And Benjamin was my autumn baby. I fell in love with autumn after moving to Arkansas. Part of the joy of Benjamin's pending arrival last year was anticipating the enjoyment of recuperating and nursing him with the beautiful fall colors outside.

A few days ago Hummer and I raided Hobby Lobby and came up with this arrangement together. :) He picked out the enormous sunflower, which I absolutely love. Sunflowers are so cheerful, and have beautiful symbolism as well. The day we went to place the flowers the weather was breathtakingly lovely.

Hummer spent most of the time chasing the Canada geese that hang out there. Which was fine with me. I revelled in the chance to quietly arrange the flowers and to feel close to Benjamin. There is such peace in the place where he is buried. I'm so grateful to be able to visit often! BTW, Hummer came back in time to help pin down the moss. :)

So what do you think? Is the sunflower big enough to be over the top? What do you think of when you see a single sunflower?



Answers to your questions!


Mandy was curious to know how many hours our family has spent in our "tornado" closet since we moved to AR. "It seems like there's very frequent storm weather in your area--I guess we're both in regular "storm watch" areas of the country now ;) Does tornado weather happen seasonally, and if so, does it coincide with hurricane season?"


Well, we do have tornado sirens here, that go off every Wednesday at noon for testing. In fact when Becky was here, and she and Fluffy heard them go off, and she asked him, "Do you know what that sound means?"

Fluffy responded nonchalantly, "Yep! It's Wednesday." :)

So anyway, they go off on other days, too. It seems to happen when there has been warm weather, about to be hit by cold weather, or vice versa. I've heard that there's KIND of a tornado season, from about March through November, peaking in April, but I've also heard of January tornadoes. A couple of years ago we had some just after Thanksgiving. It was very odd.

Hurricanes tend to spawn tornadoes, yes. But we don't have to worry about hurricanes like you south Floridians. They tend to have died down a bit by the time they make it up here. (Whew!)



Okay, okay. I have to admit I was baiting Becky in my post about the horses.

Here's the story.

We were driving from Provo to Snowflake for the first time after my parents moved there in 1997. DC and I were newlyweds and I was expecting Exacto, having recently found out he was NOT a girl. (One of the great shocks of my life).

We had never really driven on the reservations before, and it was a bit of a culture shock, especially for Becky, apparently. (See, Becky, I told you you should have told this story yourself! ha)

If any of you have been fortunate (or not) enough to drive across the Rez, you know that it is beautiful. It is also tedious.


We passed many, many cows. Then we happened to pass a single, white horse. Becky exclaimed enthusiastically, "Look! A horse!" Yes, the big excitement was seeing a horse. After all, it had been only cows and bush after scrubby bush for many hours. She has never lived it down. Bless her heart.

Incidentally, things only got worse from there. Our car battery went out just before Chinle, and we ended up having about 7 hours'  leisure time to just sit and appreciate the scenery!

*A Good, Cleansing Friend*image

Mom asked about my cleaning product of poignant fame. Yes, Bar Keeper's Friend is a gem. You know that great non-stick spray (Pam) we use for everything  nowadays? You know how it leaves that hideous brown speckled stuff cemented onto your dishes? Well, BKF gets it off! It also takes off rust and cooked on stains, without scratching. I first discovered it in a catalog of Amish stuff (it's been around for a while).

They do sell it at Wal-mart, though! Yippee!

You'll love this stuff. Try it sometime.


Becky asked about which books Cranford  is based on, so she can read them. I want to read them, too, so I was glad for the impetus to look it up! Here we are. . . .

Cranford, My Lady Ludlow, and Mr Harrison's Confessions



*background*DSCF3354 edit

Mom noticed my new background. Thanks, Mom! :)

Let me just say that when I first put it up and proudly showed my sons, they started giggling hysterically. "It's your PAJAMAS!"

Yes, it's true. The pajama bottoms I wear almost every night just happen to have a pattern I drool over (good thing it's dark most of the time I wear them, eh?) :). So I took a picture, tweaked it a little in Photoshop, and now you get to feast your eyes on my nightwear!

Ho, dear.



Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Your next movie stop: {Cranford}

Those of you who know me well know I am very, very hard to please when it comes to movies. I like movies that are clean. But they have to be well-written. They have to be uplifting. They have to have real human feeling, sensitively expressed, ergo they have to be artistic. I love movies that transport me to another time and place. And if they have beautiful cinematography and a great soundtrack, that's a plus. Add some humor into that, and you've got a rare movie.

Well, here's one of those rare mixtures. . . .


Welcome to Cranford, circa 1840…a rural English town where etiquette rules, undergirded by a healthy amount of gossip. Modernity is making a move in town as construction of a railway comes harrowingly close. Cranford’s eclectic residents, among them Matty Jenkyns (Dame Judi Dench) her sister Deborah (Dame Eileen Atkins), and Miss Pole (Imelda Staunton), stay immersed in the sweet pleasures and sometimes heartbreaking realities of simple village life. But when a handsome, young doctor arrives with cutting-edge new techniques, it rapidly becomes clear that as the world changes, so Cranford will change with it. Boasting an all-star cast, and based on the works of Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford breathes life into one town during one extraordinary year.
(Courtesy of the PBS/Masterpiece website)

Cranford is absolutely delightful! My sister-in-love pointed me to this movie just after it was on PBS's Masterpiece Theater series, and I am so glad she did! I was riveted for the entire 5 hours.


It has the best costumes and the best acting you'll ever see.



It has gore (maybe you'll want to fast-forward the 19th-century medical surgery scenes--I thought they were very interesting).



It has spirituality.




It has social commentary in a historical context.



It has romance, some of the tenderest you will ever see. (Also passion, if you're more into that). :)



It has suspense, and sparkling humor.



Finally, it has great depth.

Dame Judi Dench is so stunningly real. She brings a powerful sensitivity to this role. I found myself crying for Miss Mattie as she passes through great adversity, and inspired by her quiet determination to keep living in a loving way.


Cranford filled me the way movies seldom do. It left me a better person. It also left me wanting to watch it again, right away! But someone else had it on hold at the library, so they had to pry it from my clenched hands! :(

If you've ever seen "North and South" (one of my all-time favorite movies) or "Wives and Daughters", and wished they were even longer, you need to see Cranford. Or if you really like Judi Dench. Go reserve it on your library website right now.

Didja do it? Great! Goozhob. You're in for a treat!

Monday, September 15, 2008

[squeaky voice] "Look, Becky! HORSES!"


Last Thursday Hummer and I went to a playgroup at my friend Dana's house. She has horses and cows and chickens and a fish and two dogs and a cat. Hummer was in heaven!

These dogs are named Lucky and Booger.


What? Becky saw horses?

Oh, there they are!


(sorry, Becky, just had to tease you there). :)



Hmmm. I think Hummer preferred the black ones. That's Dana holding him. (If only I were that slender!) :)

Thanks for hosting us, Dana! We had a great time!


This morning we woke up to temperatures in the 50's and breezy dryness. It feels like autumn! Now, knowing Arkansas, this will likely just be to whet our appetite before the real autumn arrives. Probably next week we'll be back to sauna-weather. But today, it feels so refreshing and cool! Totally energizing. I woke up and went running for the first time in a couple of months.


Yes, that was the actual color of the sky! No Photoshop involved! :)


Came back and decided that it was a good time to clean my range. (That right there shows you how good I was feeling!) I got out the Bar Keeper's Friend and finished the two on the right, and then it hit.

It was autumn the last time I scrubbed my range like this. I used Bar Keeper's Friend for the job then, too, for the first time. I was carrying Benjamin and talking to Janice as she washed the dishes. She was teasing me about something. It all came back so vividly and powerfully. Bittersweet feelings.

The sweet is starting to balance out the bitter a little more, but it still hurts to have such poignant memories. Oh, how I wish I could go back and feel Benjamin inside me again. How I wish I were cleaning up his messes instead of tending his grave!

I remember telling Janice that day, "It's a good thing I'm getting this done before he comes, because I know it'll be a long time before I ever get to it again!" Worrying about getting things in order because taking care of a baby makes it hard to get anything done. If I knew then what I know now, I would have noticed and remarked every little kick or nudge from inside. I would have talked to him more. I would have tried even harder to remember every detail of every day of pregnancy. I would not have worried a single bit about the state of my house with the pending arrival of a new baby. (Remind me of this when I AM pregnant again! :)




If you're reading this, and you have a cute little rugrat crawling around--maybe you're even wishing you had time to clean your range--give that little one a big squeeze today and feel extra grateful to feel him/her in your arms!

I'm off to play with Hummer. I thank Thee, Heavenly Father, for Hummer!

~ Mama


P.S.  The other half of the stove can wait till the boys are asleep. :)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ike takes its toll

We had tornadoes on the ground in our county yesterday and spent some exciting minutes in our "tornado closet" under the stairs. Thank goodness DC was actually home this time!

We went to bed to the sound of high winds and hard rain. It sounded like the siding was going to be torn off our house!

A sunny, breezy day greeted us the next morning. Things looked just beautiful outside! Weird, huh? Especially when we see some of the stuff that's happened in Houston. But there has been damage here, too, evidently.

It's hard to say for sure, but just from people we know, it sounds like there are lots of power outages here. Church has been cancelled because there's no power at the building. Bishop said it probably won't be back on till the end of the week. DC has been on the phone all morning, checking on people and letting them know about church.

We are grateful to have passed through this one unscathed! Our hearts go out to our southern neighbors who have not been so fortunate this time. Mom, is there any word from Aunt MaryAnn?

Better get back to preparing for "church at home". . . . :)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Our new Gustav-proof landscaping!

Arkansas is a breathtakingly beautiful state. We love living here.




There are downsides, though.




(To see what past storms have accomplished in our yard, visit my posts about the April 3 tornadoes here and here.)

Fast forward four months.

When we came back from our visit out west last month, I woke up the next morning and looked out my bedroom window to see this:


Yes, the city had finally come to fix what should have been fixed before developers were ever allowed to build here. Yay! (?)

They're planning to install a new culvert under the road that will go under our front lawn and out the side where we already have a drainage ditch. They have put up a temporary chain link fence because they say it won't be done for several months. (Joy.) Hey, don't get me wrong, though. I am GLAD they are fixing the problem! We got about SIX INCHES of rain in two days last week from Gustav, and had no flooding in our yard. Yippee!

Meanwhile, here's what our front yard currently looks like, as seen from the street:


(This picture was taken just after a rainstorm on 8/20/08)

We'll see how it handles Ike this weekend. . . .

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fluffy's Bravery


Yesterday I was out visiting teaching, and received a call on my cell phone from the school nurse. I just knew it was about Fluffy--he had been coughing a lot that morning and I had debated whether or not he should go to school. It was about Fluffy, but evidently he had fallen during PE and gotten cut near his eye! My VT companion is a nurse and has 7 children (therefore much experience with cuts and bruises), and it was a blessing to have her be able to advise me. In her experience the "glue" doesn't heal as cleanly as stitches, but she bemoaned the fact that often doctors prefer to glue nowadays for the smaller cuts. So when the doctor gave me the choice of glue or two stitches, I chose the stitches.

Fluffy was so amazing! He didn't cry at all except when they were injecting the anesthetic. I held his hand and we played our special hand-squeezing game. When the doctor started the actual stitching, he said, "That feels cool!" The doctor laughed and said, "Well, that's good!" :)

In our family, we have a tradition that whenever a needle is involved, ice cream will be involved. So when we came home, Fluffy got a big bowl of ice cream as a trophy for his bravery! 


  DSCF3229 (2) DSCF3233 

P.S. The night before we had seen an severe emotional crisis when trying to get Fluffy to take cough medicine before going to bed. So I asked him yesterday which was worse, the stitches or taking cough medicine. Any guesses what he said?

P.P.S. This morning I took him late to school after letting him sleep in. (I know I baby my boys.) He really wanted me to walk all the way to class with him, but I told him I couldn't because Hummer was waiting in the car. I was amazed when he calmly said, "okay", and gave me a hug, then walked to class! My Fluffy is growing up! sniff sniff.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Chocolate Pianos and Silly Nicknames

First of all, the chocolate piano.

Hopefully I don't get too technical for ya'll with this. You can always skip over this paragraph if I'm getting too much in the nitty-gritty. (I can never think of that phrase now without hearing it in Nacho Libre's voice! ha!) So, anyways. In my piano teaching, I use a method I learned from my beloved and revered teacher at BYU, Irene Peery-Fox. She adapted it from the Very Young Pianist Series, by Bastien. Basically, it's a way to introduce beginner students to all the keys, as well as developing good technique, before they ever learn scales. It's called "Group Keys", and the students learn to play 3 different exercises using only the basic 5 fingers, in all 12 keys. Once they can play them all, I give them the "Group Keys Test" to see if they are ready for scales.  Fluffy spent nearly a month getting ready for this. He had to be able to tell me the number of black or white keys in the tonic chord of all the keys, and play one of the exercises for each group. He passed the test, and I made him a chocolate piano! (I did this for Exacto, too, when he passed his group keys test.)

I made it with a candy mold I found online. I specifically wanted a grand piano, so it took a little research to find. But it only cost a few dollars, the way I remember. Then I just melted chocolate chips with a little peanut butter, filled up the mold, and stuck in the fridge!

  20041123-8 Clyn with his chocolate piano 20041123-4 Chocolate piano Clyn earnedDSCF3006


Okay, the origin of the blog nicknames. I don't know much about blog safety or any real risks that come from using our actual names, but since our boys have pretty unique names, I decided better safe than sorry. Also, it was to alleviate my conscience about not going private. :)

Benjamin doesn't need a nickname. We never have to worry about his safety. And that, indeed, is a wonderful comfort.


                                   DC = Darling Cutie. That one is self-evident. :)


2005 0825 Science class 3Exacto. I gave my eldest son this name for the blog because he is exact almost to a fault. If it's 9:03am, and he asks what time it is, you'd better say 9:03, and not 9 o'clock, or you WILL get corrected. He has always been this way. I remember his throwing one of his first tantrums at the tender age of 10 months. We were having a picnic, and the corners of the tablecloth kept getting blown up slightly by the wind. This was extremely frustrating for our young Exacto. He knew that in an ideal world the corners should stay down, and he screamed every time they went up! This need for exactness serves him very well at school, however wearing it can be to his very NON-exact mother. :)

 2005 0825 Science class 



P5170034--2001 05 17 Closeup of Russell James BakerFluffy! Our second son had adorable soft hair when he was first born. He was born 15 days past his due date, and so it was already quite long--long enough to stick up in the back from his very first day on this earth. :) The most typical comment we had from people who saw him was about this fluffy hair. To this day, his hair still has issues with defying gravity, but as long as we keep it short and slick it down good, he is able to avoid the "Buckwheat" look. :)

 20020418 Russell and Gpa Baker


2005 0428 Sweet HyrumHummer! earned his nickname at a very young age as well. Before he could even talk, we noticed that whenever he was given bread, he would retain a piece stuck to the roof of his mouth and suck on it, humming cheerfully. This kid still sings more than he talks. He can hum hundreds of tunes, I think. He even hums the melodies to concertos and sonatas his daddy is working on. He has a ginormous range, too--he can go above the notes of the piano! He hummed through most of Benjamin's funeral, using the melodies from the songs we sang: "I am a Child of God" and "I Know That My Redeemer Lives". Several commented how moved they were by that. Sometimes I wonder if he will grow up to be a lyric tenor.


                                           (artist: Aunt Becky)