Monday, October 5, 2009

Snow Day!


Daddy gives everyone a ride on the snow shovel.

All day long Payton and Alyssa begged to go out and play in the snow. I waited until after lunch, then after quiet time. By then it was pretty warm, but I made them clean their rooms first. (Yes, I am a mean mom!) Daddy pulled up from working just in time for the fun to start!

Even friends, Bella and Ivy, got to come play. (Bella & Alyssa above.)

Then began "5 Phases of Snowman Destruction."

1. Knock off, er, I mean, completely destroy the head. (The most exhilarating phase.)
2. Climb it.
3. When all else fails, have sister help you climb it.
4. Rise up as conqueror!
5. Take a daredevil leap back onto solid ground.

Friends went home. Daddy hanged the shovels. Mommy started dinner. Kid's changed into dry clothes. Alyssa said, "Mommy, that was a lot of fun to have Bella over to play in the snow with us."

I smiled inside. Sometimes life is so simple and sweet.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Autumn Traditions

I never really cared for fall. It always meant the end of summer and the start of a long cold winter.

Last year I fell in love with autumn for the very first time. Now it seems more like a mild extension of summer. (Where winters are almost 9 months, every nice day counts.)

This year, I want everyone else in my family to enjoy autumn too, so, because I'm the mom, I decided to start some traditions to welcome it. Mostly, it would be things we do anyway, but, I wanted a specific time to start it, so "Conference Weekend" it is. I love "Conference Weekend" because I get to be home with my family and it's a fun time to prepare special meals for them.

"Saturday Conference" has always been a "clean-your-house-while-listening-to-conference" day for me --- so what better time to pull out our box of Halloween stuff and put up the decorations?

Each year, starting a couple years ago, my kids and I started making a ghost wreath to hang on our front door. (We pass out those ghosts to trick-or-treaters.) Perfect quiet conference activity!

For food.... pumpkin pie for dessert, that definitely tastes like autumn. But for dinner, I wanted something I could make a bunch of and freeze 1/2 until Halloween eve. I really wanted stew. But nothing popped into my head. Something special. Bread bowls? I couldn't find any so I tried making some. They weren't worth the work. And stew, apparently, does not freeze well --- I tried to find information on the internet and that's what I found out. So, I have another year to think of something else. (I spent so much time on the bread bowls that I never did get around to baking a pie.)

Sunday it snowed. And it snowed! Is autumn over already?!?!

That brings up another tradition we celebrate here, one I gleaned from a coworker about 11 years ago... He and his friends would meet at a certain gas station during the day of the first snowfall and sip hot cocoa.

But, here, I make it, and we sip it around the kitchen table. Mmmmmmm... it was really good!

I also (just last week) learned about "Conference Bingo" from another friend of mine. I could see my family do that! So, I sat down Friday evening and made up 4 Bingo cards. I was actually quite pleased with the nice results from my minimal effort. (If your interested I can send you a .pdf of the cards. It's all pictures so it's fun for everyone.) Sunday afternoon, we did play it, even Eli. We used Peanut M&Ms (my favorite) as markers. Not a good idea. They rolled all over the place. Next year, we'll use candy corn. (I think I'll eat fewer of those too.)

So, autumn, really, I do like you! Please, come back and visit! At least for a couple more weeks!!! I just bought some garlic to plant, and I just know I won't do it in the snow.

The Hunger Games

Just finished. I read it for book group. Need a good book? Read it! It's really good. I can't wait to get started on the sequel, Catching Fire. Stephanie, thanks so much for making me take time to read. I so enjoy it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

When Life Gives You a Lemon...

It started with a visit to the library. The kids got free books. Alyssa choose an "Amedia Bedelia" story. I loved these books when I was a little girl and told Alyssa about that when Payton, her and I sat down to read it the next day.

Then, Eli decided to have them ask "Mom" to make a lemon meringue pie. (Eli doesn't even care for that type of pie. Not my favorite either, one small piece is good enough for me.) But, maybe the kids will like it? At least they'd know what type of pie Amelia Bedelia made, right? So, the search for a fairly simple recipe on the internet began. I found a video the kids and I watched HERE. Then the cooking started.

And, once again I failed to take a picture of my beautiful masterpiece. (However, this one truely is prettier). I think between the 4 of us we got about 1/2 way through it.

Although a lot of work, I at least feel like I taught them all about baking a lemon meringue pie in a fun way. Happy cooking!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

7 Dancing Princesses

Left to right: Abby, Evelyn, Lizzy, Bella, Alyssa.
(Not in photo: Joselyn and Shelby)

Last spring I told my playgroup friends about my adventures of having Alyssa in ballet. When registration time came up this year, I mentioned it again. I was wholly surprised at their interest. Yes, I feel so lucky, honored really, to be a part of this group of moms. (I do wish all our little princesses could be part of this!)

Alyssa's there on the black line, right in the middle, standing tall and confident, on her very first day of class. I am so happy to see her feeling so secure. I relax and prop my camera up on my knee.

Listening to instructions. (Alyssa, Abby, Evelyn --- so tall and beautiful.)

So sweet. I am just so happy to see her feeling so comfortable! (I'm also really excited about carpooling.)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Millions of Peaches

I just had to try it. I've never canned peaches myself before. I vaguely remember removing peach skins once when my mom canned them. (I think it may have been the last time she canned them.) The cost for the box of peaches cost more than the already prepared canned ones at the store. I paid for the seals and lids and whatever the cost of running the burners and water was. And my time. The whole process took forever.

I even had a little helper of my own! (Mmmmmm... those peaches were juicy!)

And I did a box of pears too.

I thought I wouldn't ever do this again --- until we tasted them. YUMMY! I like canned fruit from the store fine, but these were oh, so good! Maybe I'll can these again... just not next year.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Actually, preschool started yesterday... (I missed the 1st day of school picture.)

This year they go 3 days a week for 3 hours a day. I get to be a teacher's aid in their "Turtle" class, thanks to my friend Brittany who let me in on this opportunity. I am so excited. I had planned for them to continue in the same preschool they went to last year, but the staff lost their funding and their building. I just couldn't make up my mind on what I wanted to do, but, mostly, What would be best for my children? It felt a little scary being in charge of that when I didn't have a clue.

One preschool a lot of my friends were taking, or had taken, their child(ren) to was taught by a member of our church, so, it sounded good to me. But, I missed registration deadline because of my plans to keep the twins where they were already going. I intended to check out a few other preschools, but their cost made me unmotivated. After all, I could keep them home for free, but, thinking back on the fire incident (see earlier post) I felt encouraged to do something. Mostly, though, I felt strongly that giving them this experience with other children was the least I could do to prepare them for all-day kindergarten next year. (How I am dreading next fall. --- Perhaps, it is really me that needs this transition period!)

I know, I know, I have been reminded multiple times, by multiple caring individuals, that, I will have so much more time to do all the many "wonderful things" I wish I had an extra hour or two for now. But, I still find myself dreading all that time away from my little ones. I'm simply not ready to give my babies up to the school system after waiting 5 YEARS to get them. (Not to mention the last 2 of the 3 years Eli and I were dating. I was so ready to marry that boy and start a family with him. Frustrating as it can be, life --- just like my husband, mind you --- doesn't go by my plans. But, what Life took from me, Life blessed me with; and, it is so much more than what I dreamed up for myself.) After all, I do get to be a MOMMY! How I love to hear "Mommy" come from my own children's sweet voice. And, I LOVE having my children constantly with me, even when it does get crazy.

"When I was a little girl" (my daughter loves stories that start this way) my mom once told me that when I wake up to listen to the birds, they are singing "Good Morning." After that, I found myself lying in bed many mornings listening to the birds sing and I often smiled at the memory. Later, my mornings turned to silence. I sooooo longed to hear children's laughter in the home Eli and I made together. But, it didn't come. Not for what felt like many, many years. So, when I wake to laughter now, I can't help but lay and listen a little longer with a huge smile of overwhelming gratitude for my God who blessed me with that beautiful sound. I am living my dream!

Hmmmmmm, that was a huge tanget to go off on... perhaps I'll move it to a more appropriate place at a later date. I'll keep it here for now. Anyway, I guess I wish kindergarten would go back to 1/2 day. I wish more mom's cherished their little children and thought their time with them was too short. I wish I could learn from them. I wish I could be a better mom for my children. They so deserve the best. But they are mine to care for and love. My responsibility. So I must keep trying to do my very best. I can only pray that one day they will be able to see past all the crazy mom things I did and do and know that I was really, really trying to be a good mom and really wanted them to have the best because I really, really love them.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Happy 10th Anniversary!

It could have been a trip to Hawaii...

But we chose to be practical. We moved our free living room set down into the basement and searched high and low for a nice looking, low maintenance, cat friendly, child friendly set that we both liked to place in our newly remodeled living room. The dozen roses make a beautiful addition.

And here's 10 for 10:

Year 1 (1999): We marry in the Mount Timpanogus Temple for time and all eternity. I move in with Eli while he goes to school. He celebrates our 1 month anniversary, and surprised me with, a pink carnation and a homemade dinner. He drops out of school. I work part-time through a temp. service and play house the rest of the time. I start my own business doing freelance graphic design. I try to be a "perfect" wife. He has a different idea of "perfect." It is tough to adjust to living with someone. What counts is, we make it though our first year!!!

Year 2 (2000): We buy our first home, a fixer upper. I wonder what in the world we have done. I then learn that it's even harder to remodel together. We learn that we don't like anything the same. We learn to communitcate, compromise and sometimes just let the other have it their way. In the end, we both love our home and each other even more. We bring home 2 dogs and a cat. I start building ads for the newspaper. I start infertility treatments. I bring home adoption paperwork. I feel crazy. But, our love for each other has grown.

Year 3 (2001): My job at the newspaper ends when they have to downsize. Because I am the new kid, I get the boot. I feel sad but within the week have a new job with an advertising agency that stretches my skills and gives me more creative freedom. I loved it. My old job is offered back. I decline. Eli continues to work for Cascade Auto Glass. The World Trade Centers collapse and I experience a new fear. I cling tighter to Eli. We continue to try to get pregnant. We finally turn in our adoption paperwork. Almost every night feels like "date night." Our dogs have 6 puppies. We kept the girl.

Year 4 (2002): My boss, who works out of her home, decides it's time for her to move away. I travel with Eli for a little while and then find another job working for a car ad paper. At first I go to work from home, but eventually move into his office. I HATE this job! Eli also starts traveling a LOT more for business, for months sometimes. We are trying to get pregnant so I tag along whenever possible. I finally lose my job because of it, but, I am relieved and happy.

Year 5 (2003): I can clean a home, but, I learn how to maintain it during the in between cleanings. I learn how to organize my time. Our home is beautiful. Eli and I have more quality time together than ever before. I begin babysitting my brand new niece. I begin doing freelance for a press and take in a few other small jobs. Eli and I think we might always live in that same city. I consider becoming a nurse. I start taking early morning classes at the college. I feel happier than ever... but begin to give up the idea of adopting or conceiving. Crying spells come at the oddest moments. Eli is always so gentle. Eli starts classes again.

Year 6 (2004): Eli's parents invite us to move in with them so Eli could attend school full-time. We move almost everything into storage, putting all our baby things we had slowly accumulated into the very back because we were giving up for now. We pay off our car and rent our home. We move into a single bedroom. I start attending school full-time as well and Eli and I eat lunch on campus together. Eli takes a work-study job. I begin working part-time for the American Classifieds and well as continuing to free-lance. We are taken by surprise when we learned a birth mother had chosen us. I quit my classes. She changes her mind. We are heart-broken. I keep as busy as I can so I can't think about it. Still, I cry a lot. I start school again the next symester. I take a test to see if I can get into the nursing program. We try another round of fertility shots. We celebrate our fifth "silver" year together with a trip to the mall. Eli buys me a silverware serving set. I put it in storage. LDS family service calls us again. I do my best to stay focused in school.

Year 7 (2005): She's expecting twins and she choose Eli and me to raise them. As much as I try to keep myself in check, the excitement continues to leak until I can't contain it any longer. I drop my classes one by one. I have to earn as much money as possible before the babies come as well as get things ready for them. Finally, the day comes. I quit my job to become a full-time mommy. In the meantime I am accepted into the nursing program. I choose not to reply yet. Eli will graduate in a few weeks and already has a couple companies interested in him. We have some money in savings, but just enough for the adoption. We have some coming in from our rental and some from Eli's work study, otherwise we are the poorest we've ever been. They send us home without the babies. We are now the saddest and poorest we have ever been. Emotionally spent, we put our last bit of hope in the Lord's hands. We do what we can, He does the rest. The next day we came home as parents. As beautiful and amazing as this time is, it takes Eli's and my commitment to each other to a whole new level. We step up to it. We fall even deeper in love. Eli graduates. Eli starts a new full-time, good paying job with benefits. I grow restless and want a place of our own. We move across the field into one of Eli's parent's rentals. I start working very part-time from home for a community paper geared towards young children and their families.

Year 8 (2006): This is a year of wonder, but it is also a blur. I enjoy this time being a mommy and wife to my little family. Eli announces that we will be relocating. I am so excited to be onto something new, but am soon overtaken by a wave of guilt as I realize we will be moving our babies far away from the grandparents they love so much. We buy a minivan. We find a small little apartment and turn it into our home. I start a crazy, healthy way of eating and loose 17 lbs. I feel better than ever before, even high school! My children eat all kinds of veggies and fruit --- like it is candy! This might well be one of the happiest pockets in our life. But, we are lonely and restless and want a home of our own. We want room for a bigger family.

Year 9 (2007): We sell our rental and buy another fixer upper. Our children love the space in this house. I love the potential the house and its yard have. I love the hardwood floor under the old yucky carpet. If we got "stuck" here, I feel like that would be ok. We start working on our home and our healthy eating habits go out the window. Eli is called to be the Elder's Quorum President. I start a playgroup. We make friends. That makes a world of difference to me. Life is good. We apply to adopt again.

Year 10 (2008): We refinish our hardwood floors. A friend helps put up a banister. Eli and I finish it together. It is so much fun I find myself having a natural high. We paint walls. We tile a bathroom floor and tub surround. Eli helps me build a raised garden. The twins are introduced to preschool for a couple months. I receive the Sunbeam teacher calling for 4 little girls, the "princesses." I love it. Eli continues to get raises. We love being a family. We complete our adoption paperwork. Eli and I continue to enjoy "our time" after the kids go to bed.

(Present): I get to teach my children in Sunbeams until I receive a new calling as the 2nd counselor in the primary. I become a teacher's aid in Payton and Alyssa's preschool as well as continue doing the layup for the community publication. Our children turn 4. I think this must be the most precious age of a child. Eli gets another raise. We begin remodeling the basement. I stop remodeling because a mom can only do so much. We spend time watching Heros and Lost together. I am living the future I use to dream of and I want to get it right. Because of Eli, I have it all.

Thank you Eli for these incredible 10 years of adventure and love! You are the best --- my kind of "perfect." Thank you for sticking with me! I'll love you forever.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Deadline Day

When I heard, "Payton burned up Daddy's hay!" my heart stopped -- I did not run to grab my camera (I got that after spraying the hay down for an hour). Instead, I ran out the backdoor as fast as I could to make sure Payton wasn't in it. (He was hiding.)

I was cutting right into my newspaper deadline, trying to get it off to press before noon. Alyssa and Payton, to my relief, were outside playing. I had gone out to check on them and they were telling me how cozy warm in was inside the bales of hay. There were 4 bales, 2 were on the bottom about 1 1/2 feet apart and the other 2 laid across the top over the space, leaving just enough space for my 2 little kids. They wanted to have a fire to play like they were camping (I think they were remembering the Pioneer Trek we went on earlier this summer). I told them it would be fine to have a PRETEND fire. That wasn't good enough for Payton. Apparently, he knows where the matches are kept. He sneaked inside, climbed up on the kitchen counter and helped himself to a small box of matches from the very back corner of the cabinet, and went back outside. Meanwhile, I was hurriedly sending files via the internet as I received a couple phone calls. Alyssa came in and patiently waited for me to hang up before informing me that "Payton burned up Daddy's hay." Who knew Payton could even light a match!?!? I have thanked my Heavenly Father again and again that our children were not inside the hay when that match was lit.

Eli and I talked about fire dangers the rest of the day and also continuously expressed our gratitude that no one was hurt. My lesson: Get a babysitter on deadline day.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

County Fair

We made it back from summer vacation just in time for the County Fair.

We spent most of our time in the petting zoo. There were lots of goats. We bought feed for them, but, if you weren't paying attention they'd grab the cup right out of your hand and dump the whole cup full into their mouth.

Payton's climbs up everything these days. I am constantly telling him "come on down from there" or "that's not a jungle gym," which is kind of funny because I don't think he even knows what a jungle gym is. Do they have those on playgrounds anymore?

Brushing the cow seems to be much more fun than last year. Alyssa gave Payton all the instructions so that he would know what to do.

Inside, they had a giant kaleidoscope display. It was fun for maybe a minute. I was very disappointed that they didn't have more in there for kids to do. Last year they has several different play areas and both days we went they enjoyed playing in them. Oh well.

We did make it in time to milk the cow. I got pictures of both Payton and Alyssa but I couldn't get my camera to focus on Payton. I am having a few issues with my new camera. It does have some nice features, but it really lacks in the "point-and-shoot" department.

And finally, we ended with the best part of the whole event. The rides!

This year we stayed 1/2 a day and that was plenty of time. Last year we spent 2 evenings here. It seems like there was much more for little kids to do last year. But, still, we had fun and we'll do it again next year (on opening day the rides are only $1).

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer Vacation

continued with Grandpa taking Payton, Alyssa and me to dinner at Costa Vida. I got a shredded pork salad. I may never try anything else there. It was delicious! And my tummy was full! A silly side note about me: I decided once (when I was skinny and fit, probably while still in high school) to never pass up an ice cream invitation. Ummmmm, maybe not the coolest decisions I've made... After dinner, we stopped at Cold Stone.

Did I mention, I LOVE Cold Stone! Especially their signature Cheesecake Fantasy scooped into a waffle bowl. To die for! Over time it has become mandatory for me to maintain some sort of portion control on these invites. Usually, when the family goes to Cold Stone (mo$tly becau$e of money) we share one big bowl. But Eli wasn't there this time, so I got a LOT of extra ice cream. (Hmmmm, he blames me for eating most of it!)

The next morning we took a trip to the airport to pick up Grandma. We sat on the front row of Terminal B. Payton and Alyssa were so excited that soon we had an audience behind us. They squealed with delight as Grandma exited the plain. They were all hugs and kissed as soon as Grandma came through the door.

This trip Payton and Alyssa figured out how to get this swing going. I enjoyed not being asked to push them on the swing for once (although, it will be too soon that they don't ever ask again).

Still a favorite.

That evening Great Grandma Kutch bought tickets for the play "Annie Get Your Gun". We sat on the front row. The kids seemed to enjoy it as much as we did. "Annie" was awesome! The evening weather was perfect.

Grandpa's newest cat, Mylo. He's social. But, watch out kids, he's a mean one.

All week long we played and enjoyed a nice visit. Friday morning, Grandma packed up so she could take her turn as a temple worker. She would bring "Daddy" home with here. But "Daddy" had a different idea, he wanted us to go up too and we would go to the zoo while Grandma was at the temple. So, we packed up too and after awhile we stopped at another airport. Oh, the excitement of it, again... especially when they saw "Daddy!" Unfortunately, the Zoo was closed. And other then that, it was not an eventful evening. The next morning we prepared to go to the Zoo but we ended up being locked out of the Excursion. I was not very happy about spending the last days of our vacation waiting around in a motel room. Oh well.

Eli left a message for his mom. Luckily she got it. She asked a man leaving for the day if he could drop her key off at the motel for us. This kind man did. Wow. I was humbled. We took a quick trip to the Zoo afterall.

Flamingos are not my favorite, but their coloring always makes me stop and gawk extra long. They're like the roses in the jungle.

Gorilla's, on the other hand, are one of my top favorites to visit, although, this time they were pretty mello (except for the one eating potty. Disgusting!). Two years ago we stopped in front of the gorillas and watched one of them swing around. My kids, being so little couldn't see through the larger spectators, so, I squeezed them through some gaps until they were right in front of the wall of glass. Suddenly the gorilla proceeded to run into a large circle heading straight at Payton. Payton's arms flew straight up as he let out a loud scream of fright. A big laugh came out of my own mouth as I swooped him up into my arms to let him know he was safe. I'm laughing again writing about it.

This snake doesn't look so bad behind a glass wall.

Whoa! Check out this HUGE turtle. Payton is way into turtles.

A walk in the park.

Must be interesting!

We didn't want to leave without seeing the tiger!

The highlight. A visit to the giraffes completes the zoo visit for me. These animals just amaze me. Their size. Their spots. Their grace. Their beauty. Even that they're plant eaters. Payton got to feed them ($3 for a couple small twigs! Seriously!) Alyssa hid.

That evening, when we got back to Grandma and Grandpa's, we went four-wheelin' through their field.

Hugs and kisses! Grandma sure does love her grand kids.

Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for your love and special memories.

It was a long ride home...