Friday, June 2, 2017

Dancing to Different Beats: The Hepworth Girls' First Dance Recital

The girls' Christmas gift from Mimi and Grandpa (my parents) this year, were dance lessons at our community rec center. These were their first, and they LOVED the experience. (Seriously - what a wonderful gift for grandparents to gift to their grandchildren!) They loved their teacher Mrs. Caitlyn, getting out of the house, and making some new friends while they learned more about how to move their bodies.

Here are a couple snapshots from their first day in class:
Joce in her class.

 Atley in hers.

They each had a professional photo taken in their recital garb later in the semester:
(I snapped this one of her whole class through the window. It's not professional, obviously - hahahahahaha!)
 Here is Atley's photo:
 And her with her whole class:
Last night was their recital - the culmination of several months of weekly classes. They got to show off what they had learned in front of a large audience, on stage, with exciting lighting.

As it turns out, Jocelyn decided to go the non-conformist route, gain a follower and create a bit of confusion in a couple others. (She's the little lady on the far right.) She felt the music her own way I suppose. After her performance, Squire said it reminded him of a quote he'd read by Mark Twain that said, "All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure." So we'll call it a success, I guess?! Haha! Still cringing, shaking my head, but mostly laughing about it. Here she is dancing to "I'm in Love with a Monster" by 5th Harmony.


Atley is the second in from the right in her class' performance to Michael Jackson's, "Beat It."


Post performance photo with their teacher, Mrs. Caitlyn. <3
The girls were excited to have hair like CJ's for the evening, (CJ is their cousin with naturally super curly hair.) Cheesy smiles for the win.
One of my own earliest memories was when my dad gave me a bouquet of flowers after my very first dance recital as a little girl. I felt so special and surprised at the gift. These girls were definitely pleased at their rosy surprises as well. :)
We finished off our special evening with a visit to Jungle Retreat for a $1 ice cream scoop each - a sweet ending to a happy family night, celebrating these lovely girls and the culmination of their first tutored exploration in dance.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

New April Fool's Day Tradition: "Tricky Dinner"

One night, several months ago,the kids and I were visiting Squire at the hospital while he worked a late shift. We hung out together on a hospital bed in a resident room as Squire came and went. That night we watched an episode of the Kid's Baking Championship. The challenge for the kids on the show was to make a savory cupcake, as well as a dessert that looked like the main course. Dessert that looked like dinner and dinner that looked like dessert. We decided that that sounded like a lot of fun to try at home and that that tradition would fit in nicely on April Fool's Day.

Today was the first, but it won't be the last of these "tricky dinners" for our family! We made hamburger sliders with french fries and ketchup. (Hamburger cookies, apple fries and plum cardamom jam. I dyed the coconut green with kale, and made the frosting yellow with a couple sprinkles of Tumeric. My attempt at naturally dying frosting red didn't work out so well, so I just went with a dallop of "mayo" on each burger, and opted for jam for the french fry dip instead.)

Black forest cupcakes with vanilla bean ice cream, sprinkles and a maraschino cherry on top. (Meatloaf muffins and garlic mashed potatoes with cumin seed sprinkles and a cherry tomato on top.)

 The American-style dinner line-up. 

The crew, ready to eat. 

Lincoln looked at the food and said, "Wait, mom! What are we supposed to eat first?!" Ha! We let them figure that out tonight.

Do you have any April Fool's Day traditions that you love? Tell me about them in the comments section!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What's been missing. . .

Something has been missing on this blog for quite a long stretch. I haven't posted here since November 1st! Since this post was written, so much has happened in the Hepworth home!  I think it's about time I filled you in on what you've been missing.

My first vehicle, our little Jeep Liberty - Weasly - finally died. He is currently sitting in our garage waiting to be sold for parts when we get the time and gumption. After several difficult months, we returned to our status as a 2-car family with the purchase of a great used Suburban, fondly named by his previous owner, "Bruce." (Like the shark on Finding Nemo.)

We did Thanksgiving with Squire's family and Christmas at home, Christmas dinner with a couple friends. Jocelyn turned 2, Atley turned 4, Lincoln turned 6, and I just celebrated/am celebrating my 7 1/4 birthday (29 years old!) We have had family visit, we've visited family, a new nephew was born (on Atley's birthday!) and we attended his baby blessing. We took a trip to Disneyland Valentine's week with my family, and by some miracle Squire was even able to come for a few days of the trip.

Squire has done another away rotation, and another rotation of nights, and OB. He is now able to earn a little extra money moonlighting. This change has made it so second year of residency isn't much better than the first as far as him being around, but our financial burden has been lifted slightly and that has been a welcome change.

We've been doing the home school thing with consistency, and Lincoln and Atley are really starting to read. I've delved into some heavy research on vaccines (always gotta be researching something controversial, right? ;)) I've also chopped off a whole lot of my hair and felt self-conscious about it, but think I like it now.

We thought Spring time was starting to melt away the tundra but then another Russian style storm blew in. Our 4 years in Tucson have made me weak to the cold and I have mostly been walking around in my big heavy canvas coat and living the hermit life to avoid facing the cold any more than I have to. I am anxious for Spring and green to get here in a way I don't know I have ever been so anxious for them to come. I'm grateful that our chickens have decided to start laying eggs again like Spring is already, here, at least. They have toughened up to the cold and regularly trek across the snow to dig for worms and bugs under the composting leaf pile at the top of our hill. And I'm sure there is even more I have forgotten to tell you. . .

Oh, yes, at least one more thing.

Something has been missing in this Hepworth home of our ours. Squire was aware it was missing for quite some time before the kids or I were aware, but once we felt it. A hunt began.
It wasn't behind the blanket on the rocking chair, or in the pantry,
 It wasn't in the coat closet . . .
 Or with the crumbs under the cabinet . . .
 It wasn't in the toy basket . . .
 Or under the couch . . .
 And, it wasn't in the hutch! Where could it be?!
 We know!
 Right here.
That's the something that's been missing. The someone who has been missing from the Hepworth home and blog.

Baby Hepworth is 16 weeks, and expected to arrive, sometime near August 14th, 2017. Looks like adding one more sweet member to our family will be the most significant contribution to the final year of my 20's! :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Halloween: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Interested to know the history behind Halloween? This link gives a short video and intriguing article on the subject. Whatever it has been in the past, it is certainly something different now – and honestly, the more I learn about what fuels it now, the more I am torn about celebrating any part of it at all - even though Halloween has been a happily celebrated holiday around our home for many years (included the years of our own youth.) Let’s start with the virtues of Halloween, before I get into the vices, shall we?


Would you like to see pictures of my adorable family this Halloween? 

Hepworth Halloween 2016! Me: Peacock, Squire: Redneck, Atley: Princess, Jocelyn: Flamingo Jockey, Lincoln: Venus Fly Trap
He originally wanted to be an apple tree, but changed his mind when he saw a kid dressed up as a venus fly trap online.
This girl has been asking for princess dresses for months now. I'm happy to have been able to create a totally custom, unique dress for all her princess endeavors - and trademarked character free!
Jocelyn - the Flamingo Jockey. Just because! :)
I spent a considerable amount of time and effort to concoct these whimsical costumes. This was a true labor of love and I lost a few nights of sleep over them, but they were worth it – and my kids’ joyful expressions upon seeing them completed? Totally adequate payment. I don’t have many opportunities to really push my sewing abilities, but Halloween provides this opportunity for me every year and I like to take it on as a challenge. The costumes then go to the costume box and get to be treasured for years to come. 

It’s just plain good heart-warming fun seeing your facebook newsfeed and street filled with the faces of people in costume: newborn babies dressed up as old ladies or adorable creatures of one kind or another, little kids living it up dressed a favorite character or villain for the evening. The whit, effort, and execution of so many costumes provides surprise and enjoyment to my creative heart. Some of the ultra creepy stuff I could do without, but on the whole I view the costume element of this holiday a plus.

Along the same lines? Pumpkin carving/painting/decorating is part of the magic I love. (Except for that one Halloween I sliced the top of my hand between my thumb and pointer finger open and had to get 14 stitches . . . yeah, that wasn’t so cool.) But, the pumpkins. What an incredible creative outlet to behold! And a family-oriented activity at that.
Left: Bubbler Crab (Lincoln's pumpkin), Middle: Hillary Clinton (Squire's pumpkin), and Right: Atley's pumpkin with the requisite hearts, mean eyes, and pokey teeth.
In a society that turns a blind eye to the next door neighbors, Halloween does give a forum for connection with neighbors you may not normally see or reach out to. It can foster a kind of togetherness in a community.

This is probably a personal culture experience, here, but in my experience Trick-or-treating is more of a dad thing to do with the kids. I remember going out as a young girl in our neighborhood in Palmdale with my siblings, cousins, dad and my uncle Eddie. The moms would always stay home while we went out. And now as a mom myself, when I hosted Halloween Eve parties with my friends in Tucson, we tended to send the kids off with the dads, too. Perhaps it’s an important way for them to connect?

Trick-or-treating gets kids moving! I’m sure the walking doesn’t compensate for the hoards of candy they consume, but I’m just sayin’! There are some positives, here!


American culture has problems. I’m not sure which, but Halloween is either a reflection or fuel for many of them: debt, excess, waste, gluttony, consumerism, entitlement. . .

Now, while the costume element to Halloween is the best part of the holiday for me, I understand that not everyone has the resources or desire to sew or create a costume from scratch, and this pressure to come up with something can be seen mostly as just a drain on financial and other resources. And how many of these end up in the landfill eventually? Not to mention (I don’t know for certain – I just have a hunch) that most store-bought costumes (and the majority of clothing in general) are sewn by people in much more dire straights than most Americans would even like to discover.

Trick-or-treating in the traditional sense, I’m afraid, is the one most quickly fading away. Selective parties or “trunk-or-treat” get-togethers are on the rise - to the relief of many. These, however, limit the interaction amongst the neighborhood generally to people who already know each other. And many kids have their parents drive them to the wealthier neighborhoods in town, in order to get more bang for their buck (full-sized candy bars at every door, etc.) These actions mean less-walking, and less neighborhood interaction than trick-or-treating used to mean.

Then there’s the act of knocking on doors, late at night to ask for candy from strangers. It just reeks of entitlement to me and makes me uncomfortable, even as a one night kind of behavior.

Don’t get me started on all the waste!! The mountains of plastic trash from the candy, the drain on our bodies’ health, the time spent collecting candy, the tantrums, tears, and vomiting that inevitably come with all the candy consumption, the costumes in the landfill, and on and on. It is excessively wasteful in so many respects. 

Haunted houses and scary films are a large part of the holiday, especially for the Teen/Young Adult crowd. I used to enjoy the feeling of being afraid for the thrill it would bring, but now I avoid them and tend to stick only to movies I'd feel comfortable with my kids watching. From a personal spiritual perspective, I believe participating in things that bring fear attracts evil spirits. Um, no thanks. In addition -  a friend of mine mentioned on facebook a problem with haunted houses I hadn't considered until this year - they use images of mentally ill to incite fear. Sad, and problematic on many levels.

While you can definitely sense death as a theme, the focus is more on the fear of death than connection with those who have passed on as the holiday has historically meant. (Watch this video if you haven't already!) What do we have left of the original intent? Essentially NONE of the interesting elements of the original holiday and its connections with those who have passed on, and all the consumerism. Our version is pretty shallow if you asked me. All cheap thrills and mischief with no nod to ancestors or religious beliefs of any kind.   


The Problem with the Candy:


Just a few days before Halloween this year, I learned some disturbing information about much of the chocolate industry and have decided to never eat chocolate from these companies ever again. (Check out “The Dark Side of Chocolate” and “Slavery: A Global Investigation” for a more personal look at what is going on.) Knowing that child slaves harvested the cocoa beans used to make my cheap indulgence doesn’t make it appetizing to me, somehow. . .


And let’s say we cut out all the non-Fair-trade chocolate consumption. What’s left, generally speaking, is pumped up with artificial dyes. A reality needing more research, but not coming up with happy results, either.


And then there’s the ethical issue of some candy’s flavoring having been developed using HEK-293 (human embryonic kidney cell line.) This chart has a list of products using some such aborted fetal products in their development.) It must be noted that Kraft and Cadbury Adams have ended their contract with Senomyx (see updated list in link above), but I cannot in good conscience consume any of these products, knowing they were originally developed using these technologies:

• Black Jack chewing gum
• Bubbaloo bubble gum
• Bubblicious bubble gum
• Chiclets
• Clorets
• Dentyne
• Freshen Up Gum
• Sour Cherry Gum (Limited)
• Sour Apple Gum (Limited)
• Stride
• Trident

• Sour Cherry Blasters
• Fruit Mania
• Bassett's Liquorice All sorts
• Maynards Wine Gum
• Swedish Fish
• Swedish Berries
• Juicy Squirts
• Original Gummies
• Fuzzy Peach
• Sour Chillers
• Sour Patch Kids
• Mini Fruit Gums
• Certs breath mints
• Halls Cough Drops

You can find more on that at this link.


And then there’s just - all the sugar! Sugar, not fat is the real culprit of heart disease, it seems. (That said, I don't think one night of splurging will be the end of us!)


This year, we talked about the problems with the Cocoa Bean industry with our kids. We showed them pictures of the children harvesting the beans and told them of their conditions. We all unanimously decided that we didn’t want to support the companies doing this business. (If you’re curious to know what we handed out this year to trick-or-treaters, now you know!)

While not trick-or-treating or indulging in sweets at all would definitely be one solution, we chose a more moderate direction this year. Squire took the kids trick-or-treating in order to connect with the neighbors. I made a large batch of my “witch finger” pretzels to pass out to the neighbors for good will. At the end of the night, all the chocolate was “cashed” in and we went to the store and let them each pick out a Fair Trade chocolate bar as substitute (or in Lincoln’s case – some sea salt sea weed instead. Haha! That kid.)

We are still trying to decide what to do with the chocolate candy. So far, we are leaning towards sharing it with homeless people needing a pick-me-up (which would match one of the original traditions more closely) or mailing it to Troops. I like the idea of making an effort at this time each year, to donate to micro-loan programs in Africa to help with the root of this problem – poverty. Maybe even fund-raising with YumEarth lollipops to raise awareness and money for such programs? As you can see, solutions are still very much in the works.


There is an element to engaging in the cultural celebrations of my country and childhood, I don’t want to give up entirely. But maybe there are better ways to do it? I think holiday's original theme theme of death and connection with ancestors could actually be a great opportunity for doing family history research and sharing old family stories throughout the month? For LDS, perhaps an extra visit to a local temple - a place where we believe we connect our ancestors to ourselves through sacred ordinances - is in order. Not everyone is religious, but everyone has to face death in some form or another. Some reflection on that in some capacity within each of our own religious/non-religious paradigms seems in order. Or maybe a time to visit an old folk’s home and talk with the residents about the wisdom they have collected over the course of their lives?

While trick-or-treating declines, it’s never too late to invite the neighbors over for a home-baked treat, open-house style on All Hallows Eve.

Halloween traditions in our future have yet to be decided, but we're considering a variety of changes in light of this new information.

I want to hear what you think! Did you already know about these problems I have shared about the candy industry? How do you feel about Halloween? Favorite traditions? Things you’d like to abandon about the holiday? Tell me in the comments section!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Kissing My Life: Happy, Messy Moments

I found this sign in a home decor shop in Pocatello. I loved the saying and so I took a quick, crappy picture of it. It says, "Kiss your life. Accept it just as it is. Today. Now. So that those moments of happiness you're waiting for don't pass you by."

This post is devoted to snapshots of some such moments I've experienced at home with our three rugrats over the past 6 months. I hope you enjoy seeing a bit of our messy, crazy, happy little life in these photos. When everyone is grown, these are the sorts of things I hope they remember from their childhood. Life is good.

June 4, 2016

Today we were heading in the house from the car and Jocelyn was refusing to come in with me. "But it's hot in the car!" I told her. She blows on her hands and says matter of factly with a know-it-all bouncy head nod, "Off!" (She's blowing herself off to keep cool.) Then she blew on me to make sure I was staying cool.

On a related note, if you give her a tissue, she'll put it on her face and blow raspberries with her mouth to mimic the sound of nose blowing.
Saying "Cheese!" for the picture.
Jocelyn brushing daddy's hair after a long day at work.
Joce hiding in her favorite spot - our closet.
July 9, 2016

Lincoln:"Mom, you're the best mom I ever had!"
 and also this gem:
Lincoln: "Mom, did you know that Gorilla glue is the strongest glue in the whole world? But, there is something even stronger than Gorilla glue."
"Oh, yeah - what's that, Lincoln?"
"Heavenly Father's Love. It is the most powerful thing in the world! Even more powerful than Gorilla glue!"
The Chicken Whisperer holding Betty.

Proud to have completed a really hard puzzle (with only a little help from Daddy.)

August 11, 2016
Atley and I get dressed in our jammies tonight and she's looking at us through my closet door mirrors. She says,
"Mom, you're cute, but I'm cuter. You're still a little cute, but I'm cuter, huh?"
"Yes, honey, you're definitely cuter than me."
Lovely girl.

Lovely girl, with my makeup smeared all over her neck and face. . .

August 19, 2016
Lincoln: "Mom, I wanna tell you a joke."
Me: "Please, tell me your joke!"
Lincoln: "An elephant with an ant head!" *Laughs hysterically* "I joked you!"

Self Portrait, by Lincoln
That non-flouridated toothpaste has its drawbacks . . .
September 1, 2016
Lincoln and Jocelyn walk into the living room covered in mud. Lincoln excitedly says, "Mom, does it look like your kids had fun?!" Me: "Mmmhmm. . . "


The ottoman is the perfect place for pom pom storage.

September 5, 2016
Lincoln to Atley: "If a chicken pecks you, be like a boy, don't cry!"
Atley thinks about it for a second and responds: "If I get pecked, I'll cry!"

Lincoln was climbing up on this beam to be by the chickens as they roosted. (Squire was winterizing the coop panels, and it was getting late!)

All dressed up with no-where to go. For Atley, dressing up is a way of life.

September 9, 2016
Lincoln: “Mom, Don’t you wish you could read a manual that would teach you how to get your kids to listen to you? That would be so awesome, huh?!”
Me (about 15 minutes later): "Hey Linc, So, if you were going to write a manual that would help kids listen to their parents, what would you say? What would help YOU be able to listen to your mom and dad better?"
Lincoln: "I don't know! You could write it. You know better than me."

Home school Grocery store for a math lesson
Lentil Box pants, all the rage.

Workin' on their swing dance moves.
I bought some goggles for the kids. Naturally, they all wanted to wear them home.
Rockin' the headbands. Lincoln there in spirit with his mirror drawing.
Found this cool riding toy at Farm House Furniture. Life's a game.
Harvesting rainwater.
Sporting homemade felt masks. One of them is excited to be photographed.
On a mission, most likely to succeed.
Miss Independent dressed herself and is painting a place mat.

Boyhood happiness, right here.
Sleeping in a box? Why not?
Snuggly morning face.

A rare shot of Jocelyn's hair NOT looking like a tornado ran over the backside of it.

Building a fort with a tarp and rope in the backyard.
Helping me make soil blocks for starting seedlings.
Jocelyn's go-to move when music comes on. This one was to Mindy Gledhill's "Pocketful of Poetry."
Favorite breakfast spot, right out there with the chickens.

Undercover photographer.
Self portrait #3,472 By: Atley
Lincoln and Atley love to ask Squire for an "under dog" on the swings every day he is home. Lincoln also regularly asks about Squire's schedule in the following manner, "Dad, did the doctors say you can stay home today?!"

Stirring cement for daddy.
Life for the next year and half.
Block castle with revolving doors.

Oh, my! Haha!
Putting on smiles, after a successful battle with some troubling car trouble.


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