Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Made Pickles!

Not the kind one might use a canner for.


No heat involved.

These are RAW pickles.


We eat a lot of pickles in this house and now I know how to make pickles that are actually GOOD for you.

I've been thinking about making these for awhile.

But, I had know idea how long they kept or how to even do it.


Then Bountiful Baskets offered cucumbers... AND fresh dill!

I bought the the cucumbers (I didn't realize how many 50 lbs was!) and 2 bunches of dill.

A couple days passed as they sat in a crate in the middle of my kitchen.

Something had to be done with those cucumbers.

Finally, I got online to find a recipe for the same old way I've done it and seen it done, with a canner.

And stumbled upon this blog with a recipe for "Sour Pickles."

"Healthy"... "probiotics"... "retains vitamins" (because there is no cooking)... and no vinegar


These are good for a whole year, but, I would have to store them in my refrigerator.

Christmas is coming... I do need gifts. This could cover four of them right off the bat. (Less in fridge, not that we couldn't eat all those pickles in a year.)

A run down of the ingredients shows I have ALL that stuff! (Yeah! for saving the coriander seeds from my garden and Yeah! again for saving the dill seeds from my garden).

So, I got busy.

And by the time it came to pick up my kids from school, I had 3 crocks full of cucumbers and seasonings.

By evening, the crocks began to bubble.

The next day there was a faint pickling smell along with the bubbles.

I was so excited.

Then my husband said pretty much this:

fermenting = alcohol making


Not my intention. There seem to be a lot of Mormons out there for probiotics and fermenting stuff. (I've been thinking about making fermented ketchup... someday.)

So, I haven't dug through information on this subject well enough.

If you have opinions/facts on this I would appreciate it...

Surely, I'm not going to get drunk on pickle juice.

I just want to make sure that eating this will not be breaking the Word of Wisdom.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Celebrating Fall

So far we have

harvested our garden,

baked chocolate chip cookies with peanut butter M&Ms instead of chocolate chips (yummy!)

learned how to knit again

tried eating chili in a jar

picked 3 huge bags of apples off our neighbors tree and made 3 pie fillings, raw applesauce, and took apples for school treats twice

put a soccer ball in a Jack-O-Lantern costume

made more Halloween decorations

finished another soccer season

made Jack-O-Lanterns out of pizza

tried out costumes

and made caramel apples

Whew! And we still need to go trick-or-treating!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


If you're reading this, you've been tagged!
Rules to follow:
  •   you must post the rules
  •   answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post
  •   create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged
  •   let them know you tagged them
  •   No tag-backs
1.  What do you wish people understood about you?
Even though I may come across as being very opinionated and stubborn, I think I am fairly open minded and love discussing different viewpoints on many different subjects. Unfortunately, I tend to make people feel bad when I share my opinion and I hate making anyone feel bad, so, I'd rather listen to the conversation than make it controversial.
2.  If you could go back in time and have a do-over for your life (all or just part), would you?
I would redo high school with the confidence I have now.
3.  Which superhero is the most crush-worthy?  Why? Or am I the only one who swoons just a bit over guys wearing capes?
4.  What’s the square footage of your dream house? (Let’s assume you can afford it, plus hire a housekeeper, gardener, etc. if necessary).  I really want to ask about your favorite architectural style, but that’s probably too nerdy.
If I had the money to hire a housekeeper, gardener, etc then a house about 4000 square feet should be plenty big, I wouldn't want to loose my kids in anything bigger.

As for architectural style, I don't know. I can love many different styles. I think I'd prefer a one-story with vaulted ceilings and big glass views out to my big beautiful garden (that I hope to one day grow) and a stream, or, better yet, while I'm dreaming, let's make that a view of a waterfall.

It would be a quality built home with features and style that would last over time. It would have a few fireplaces. I especially like the two-sided fireplaces so that two rooms can enjoy the same fire. There would be 3 large bedrooms with large closets. One for all the boys and one for all the girls (because some day I will have more children).

The 3rd large bedroom would be my master suite with 2 large walk-in closets, a fireplace between the bathroom and bedroom and a small sitting area. One well-lighted vanity area should be enough and it will be surrounded with walnut or mahogany woodwork (maybe cabinets --- I just don't want too much room for clutter to accumulate). A walk-in shower with no door or curtain. Water that comes out warm when turned on and a heat lamp above (because I enjoy a hot shower). Build in alcoves for my favorite shampoo and conditioner. A skylight would be nice in the bathroom too, as well as a deep jacuzzi tub next to the fireplace.

1 or 2 smaller rooms for guests.

All the floors would be dark hardwood and porcelain tile heated from beneath with radiant heat. Most rooms would be covered with beautiful thick rugs.

We would have a small office space which would also be the library. The walls would be high with tall windows, maybe stained glass if it's not too fancy, between the bookcases to let sunlight in. It would also include a fireplace and a door to the outside. 

We'd have a movie room for Eli and the guests and a playroom for the kids.

My kitchen would have a full-size pantry in which my freezer would fit, a seamless stovetop, part of a lower wall would be painted with chalkboard paint for the kids. Quartz countertop that continues down the sides (waterfall style) to the floor, because I hear quartz is the easiest of all to maintain. One large deep sink, again, seemless. A big island that the kids can fit around for baking with me and doing homework at. A fridge that has the 2 doors on top and the large freezer drawer you can pull out the bottom. Off to the side would be the breakfast nook/dinning area surrounded on 3 sides by big beautiful windows, maybe some being French doors (if that's the style that works).

Easy to keep clean would be my biggest priority. 
5.  Approximately how many pairs of shoes do you own?
About a dozen.
6.  What’s the one name you really wish you could have used for a child, but never had the chance.
Sarah and Joshua. However, I really wanted to name my son Ezekiel.
7.  Which Disney Princess do you most identify with?  Why, or do you eschew all things Disney? Do you ever use the word “eschew?”
Maybe The Little Mermaid, because I use to pretend I was a mermaid before the movie ever came out. And, no, I don't use the word eschew. Maybe I should try it out.
8.  If forced to get a tattoo (or another one, if you are already thus decorated,) what would it be and where?
I eschew tattoos. I once dated a boy that got one and I cried for him. And, no, I did not marry him. If forced to get a tattoo I don't believe I would get to choose where it went or what is was.
9.  ROAD TRIP! Okay, what popped into your head as a destination? Can I go with you? I love road trips.
Ohio. When I was a child, my family took a road trip to my grandparents every other summer and we stay just over a week. We'd stop along the way at different sites. My dad would honk his horn whenever we went through a tunnel or crossed through a time zone or over a state line. We would eat cold cereal or sandwiches on cement picnic tables at rest stops along the way.
We would always stop and get pictures at the Mississippi river, go to Geauga Lake (amusement park) with my cousins and Sea World which was just across the Geauga Lake from the park. (I guess both parks are gone now.) My grandma was a missionary for the church at some of the church history sites. This is where my testimony of Joseph Smith began.

The summer nights were warm and my cousins had dogs, lucky them! We caught lighting bugs and put 'em in jars. These are the coolest insect ever! My brothers, sisters and I would sleep in one big room wall papered from top to bottom with pink roses and on the dresser, Nana had a bowl and pitcher. (That's where I hid my candy wrappers.) At night, Nana would set up her blue oscillating fan in front of an open window to help cool it down and you could hear crickets chirping all night long.

And, yes, if I ever make it out that way again, I'd love to have you along!!!
10.  Do you buy your own birthday/Christmas presents?
Yes and yes, but it took me a while to appreciate doing it.
11.  Buy a tent and go camping, or stay in a nice hotel at night and hike a nearby national park during the day?  This is a totally selfish question because Mr. Man and I are trying to figure that out.
My choice would be a tent. I love cooking by at a campfire and eating s'mores. I love the fresh cool air and the night sounds. But, if the bears are out, a nice hotel sounds divine.

OK now for my 11 questions (that I stole from here because these are great!)

Out of 50 questions posted, these are 11 I chose:
  1. If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
  2. You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire.  They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend.  The criticism is distasteful and unjustified.  What do you do?
  3. What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
  4. What one thing have you not done that you really want to do?  What’s holding you back?
  5. Do you push the elevator button more than once?  Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?
  6. Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?
  7. Has your greatest fear ever come true?
  8. Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset?  Does it really matter now?
  9. If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?
  10. When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?
  11. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Halloween Is Coming! Oh, What FUN!

School paper was on the floor. I was going to throw it away, but, then I turned one over. This is what I saw. And, I smiled.
by Alyssa
The wart, the chin hair and her legs up like she is sitting in a chair (instead of flying a broom) was just too cute. So, I snapped a picture.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

How Can You Know That It's All the Way True?

Alyssa invited her sweet little school friend to church today.  She was so excited and I have to admit, I am quite proud of her. After dinner she told us about the churches some of her other friends go to. She wondered if maybe our church "might not be all the way true." I reminded her about Joseph Smith and that he wondered the same thing. He really wanted to know which church was all the way true.

"Do you remember that he prayed about it?" I asked.

She nodded and I asked, "Who came to him to answer that question?"

I reminded her that he was visited by both Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ.

"Do you remember that they told Joseph Smith that none of the churches were true and that is why our church" (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) "was restored back to the earth through him."

"But how can you know that it's all the way true?"

"You can pray for yourself to know that the church is true. You need to know for yourself."

She tries again. "But what if it's not all the way true?"

"Well, Jesus told Joseph Smith what needed to be in His true church. You don't think Jesus made up stuff that's not true for Joseph Smith to teach, do you?" (I know, that was a lame statement, I was getting frustrated trying to say what I knew.) "Jesus chose Joseph Smith because he knew he would teach others what he told him too, what was true. Jesus told Joseph everything that makes up His church; it was restored how Jesus wanted it to be."

I feel like I answered the question ok but that I didn't really connect with her --- that she doesn't fully understand. I want her to get it, to give her my testimony. She is only 7. She has time for her understanding to grow. But, then again, she will be 8 is less than a year. She will then have the opportunity to be baptized. I want it to be solely her choice, yet, it seems such a big choice for a child so small. I know I can influence her decision, but I want to be careful to not push her too fast.

Daddy is downstairs showing her and Payton a clip about the restoration right now. Maybe that will answer her question better. Still, I want her to know that I know, that I have felt the Spirit confirm the story of the restoration in my heart and mind. I want her to have that same burning testimony. But when I was 8 years old I simply believed what I was taught.

I am grateful for the few opportunities I had, when I was very young, to visit my grandma who lived in Ohio (and at one point was a missionary for some of the church historical sites around there). I heard this story over and over until finally one time it became personal and I began to look forward to hearing this story because of the special feeling of reverence and love that comes with it. It wasn't until junior high or maybe high school that I truly developed my own testimony of the restoration of the gospel for myself. It started out small and, over time, it has grown strong.

I remember wondering if it was "all the way true." Today I wonder when and what it was that made me stop wondering. I now know for myself that this church is the true church, complete with the fullness of the gospel. I pray she will know for herself someday too.

Since this is the year to prepare my children for baptism, I wonder what you have done or would do to prepare your child(ren) for their big day.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Back to the Basics of Parenting

I couldn't stop thinking about my dream, that there was more too it and I found myself thinking about it on and off for a few days until one day I understood.

I am always trying to find new insights and ideas into parenting, but I don't usually turn to the scriptures for advice. I realize now that I need to make use of the principles already taught by Jesus himself and stop looking for better, more modern, prettier ideas.

I meantto do all I can to be a good parent, but, now I am reminded to turn back to His instructions and pay more attention to His spirit as I has promised I would so long ago.

Now that I get it, I think I will be remembering this dream for a long time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Analogy of the Screws

I asked my son to do something. His quick response is the expected, "No!" At first I ignored his response. Then I wondered if I should ignore it. It's not really ok for him to tell me "no," is it? I could tell him again, as I have so many time before, that it's not ok for him to tell me no, but that would be fruitless and would be accompanied with a, "You hate me!" Another comment becoming all to common. But, I love him. And I am just so tired of fighting with him. What can I do... and I really wondered about it... and a scene comes into my head about two boards and some screws.

And, then, I wake up.

And I think about my dream until the alarm goes off.

I get up.

I go upstairs to wake up my son.

I kiss his his forehead. I kneel beside the bed and slide him down onto my lap for him morning prayer. (I do this with him almost every morning.)

He folds his arms. Bows his head, props it against the side of the bed. And I wait.

He goes back to sleep. (Ugh! Fighting already...)

I slide him off my lap onto the floor next to me saying my legs can't sit like that any longer and I kneel up higher.

He prays.

While on my knees we make his bed (whew, no fight).

I sit down on his bed and asked the dreaded question. "Do you want to start with your clothes or your toys?" meaning, tidy your room quickly. (I actually don't see any toys this morning.)

Whine... whine... whine... but, he begins picking up his clothes.

And I wonder about my dream. Should I share it with him? I sit down on the floor again and motion for him to come sit with me. He snuggles right up in my arms. And this is what I remember telling him:

"I had a dream last night about us. You told me, 'No!' but I really wanted you to know how much I love you and I wondered how I could make sure you knew. 

"And then in my dream I saw two boards that needed to be screwed together. It came with screws, but, I already had some screws.

"Mine were golden and I chose to use mine instead; but, after screwing the boards together I saw the top of my screws wouldn't fit inside the board right because the tops were square instead of round. I realized then that I should have used what had been given to me."

He thinks about it for a minute. Then gets up and I'm off to wake up his sister.

Later that morning, I ask him to start his piano practice.

"Ok, Mom!" he answers happily. (Now that was completely unexpected!) I could tell he felt loved though.

But, what does the dream mean? Anything?

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Time to Love

We got an email from my father-in-law to this link to an amazing prodigy artist & poet, Akiane.

I have been looking at her art gallery.

She's AMAZING! Her talent is truly a gift from our Heavenly Father. She's doesn't attend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, but her artwork and poetry says she understands gospels truths at a very intimate level. She says some of her paintings were reveled to her by God --- I have to agree with her.

She makes me want to be a better person, and live life with deeper purpose.

Here's a small tidbit --- a story she wrote to accompany one piece of her artwork.


Once upon a time, in an island there lived six feelings and emotions: Happiness, Knowledge, Love, Sadness, Richness and Vanity. One day they discovered that the island began sinking! So all of them built boats and canoes and left, one by one. Except for Love. Love wanted to delay abandoning her beloved island as long as possible.

When the island had almost sunk, Love decided to ask for help.
Richness was passing by Love in a boat. Love asked, "Richness, can you take me with you?"

Richness answered, "Sorry, Love, I can't. There is a lot of gold and silver in my boat, so there is no place here for you. With both of us in here we will sink for sure."

Love next asked Vanity who was also sailing by, but Vanity offered the same answer.
"I can't help you, Love. You are all wet and might damage my boat," Vanity answered.

Sadness was close by, so Love asked, "Sadness, take me along with you."
"Oh . . . Love, I am so sad that I need to be by myself!", sadness said in a gloomy voice.

Happiness passed by Love, too, but she was so preoccupied with her happiness that she did not even hear when Love called her.

Suddenly, there was a voice, "Come, Love, I will take you."

It was an elder with a tattered head scarf. An overjoyed Love jumped into the boat. When they arrived at a dry land, the elder went her own way. 
Love looked around and saw the Knowledge who was the first to have landed there a while ago.

"Who Helped me?" Love asked.
"It was Time," Knowledge answered.
"Time? Why time?" Love was surprised. 

"Because only Time is capable of understanding how valuable Love is." The Knowledge smiled.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Eating Healthy... Words to Ponder

Once again I am delving into another health quest.

I thought I had a doctor that was going to help me. At least he seemed to be trying...

Then, he had a stroke.

I called to get my prescription filled agian. That's how I found out.

A different doctor was suggested. He wanted to monitor me again while I was on the medication. Why can't he just look at my doctor's notes? He said it was because he hadn't seen me before. Okay... I called my insurance to make sure this procedure would be covered again so soon. Yes. Good. So, I'll just start up with this new doctor. But... they want me to pay 1/2 the infertility fee up front to continue the procedure. No, I would not pay the fee, this was not about being treated for infertility!!! Fortunately, this doctor agrees to go ahead as before and orders the first of two meds for me. I pick it up. I take those as directed. 10 days later I call in to get the second half of the prescription and to set up the appointment with the doctor. Then his nurse, who I'm on the phone with, tells me that after the appointment I will need to stop at the front desk and pay half the infertility fee. I remind her that we are not treating infertility and that the whole reason I had started visiting them was to see if I could take metformin. (This doctor is not even the fertility specialist --- the specialist is the one who had the stroke!) I politely (just-in-case I have to call back) said I would call back later to make the appointment  --- I was FURIOUS! What a stupid trick! Do I appear so STUPID that it seems professional to dangle a prescription in front of me like bait so they can have my money. So, what did I do? I cried. I cried in self pity and defeat. And, later that day, when I wasn't feeling so bad, I called my husband and gave him the story, I said, "I am so sad" which made me cry again.

He wanted to make it all better. He told me to find a doctor in SLC and make an appointment and we would go there on Saturday. I agreed and cried some more.

So, I searched the internet. There's one place in SLC and one in Pleasant Grove that specializes in infertility. I left a message with the one in PG simply because it felt more close to home. And I continued to search forums of people who had advice on which doctors to see out there.

However, I kept wanting a more holistic approach. Something more than just drugs to make things happen. I totally believe in a healthy diet, but I've been trying for YEARS to eat healthier. And, although I have made some good changes in my families diet --- it is NOT ENOUGH! And, it gets so frustrating that sometimes I completely give up. I wish I didn't. I wish I were stronger, more devoted, had more support and on and on...

I got sidetracked and started looking into finding a nutritionist. If doctors want "$20,000" for IVF then shouldn't I be doing more for my body to prepare for a pregnancy? $20,000! And again, having a baby seemed unatainable. And the fact that there have been a lot of miscarriages on my side of the family always haunts me. If I do get pregnant, $20,000 later, that doesn't mean I'll keep it. Would it be a $20,000 heartbreak?

My sister hooked me up with her nutritionist.

I am so excited!!! (Just don't expect that same enthusiasm from my family.)

The nutritionist sent me a list of herbs and a 3-day detox to get started.

My sister picked up a bunch of "Dr. Christopher's" herbs for me yesterday.

I've been wondering how I am going to eat better... how I'm going to get more greens into my body and feel satisfied. How extreme do I need to get until it becomes enough?

As I thought about nourishing my body this morning,  I googled "Mormons and raw" which lead me to And the Lion Shall Lie Down with the Lamb: An LDS Member's View of Vegetarianism by Kevin D. Pomeroy and have since been pondering quite in depth about two specific ideas Pomeroy included in two of several essays:

The prophet Isaiah paints us a wonderful picture concerning the return of the Savior and his millennial reign. It will be a glorious time to live on the earth. The Lord says: “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered.” (Isaiah 65:17) The tenth Article of Faith teaches us that “...the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.” It will be like the Garden of Eden. In Eden Adam and Eve only partook of the fruit of the trees and the herbs of the field.
During the millennium we will be able to truly reap what we sow. Isaiah prophesies that “they shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and my elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.” (Isaiah 65:22.) The Doctrine & Covenants support this by saying: “In that day an infant shall not die until he is old; and his life shall be as the age of a tree;” (D&C 101:30). Brigham Young comments on that day by saying: “When men live to the age of a tree, their food will be fruit.”
Even nature and the animals will be affected by this change. Isaiah presents this vision: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain… (Isaiah 11:6-9). This is a pretty straightforward revelation. In God’s ideal world, a world that we currently don’t exist in, the Lord intends that the lion eat straw like an ox. He also wishes that creatures are not to be destroyed. In fact Isaiah goes as far to suggest the reason why this destruction ceases is not because of a physical change, but because of knowledge, a correct knowledge of the ways of the Lord. Isaiah reaffirms the same thoughts toward the end of his ministry as contained in : “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.” (Isaiah chapter 65:25) … So understanding the state that we will be living during the millennium is of critical importance to the Lord.
Hyrum Smith, brother to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Assistant President of  the Church taught, “God...knows what course to pursue to restore mankind to...pristine excellency and primitive vigour, and health; and He has appointed the Word of Wisdom as one of the engines to bring about this thing, to remove the beastly appetites, the murderous disposition and the vitiated taste of man, to restore his body and vigour, promote peace between him and the brute creation, and as one of the little wheels in God’s design, to help to regulate the great machinery, which shall eventually revolutionize the earth, and bring about the restoration of all things.” (Times and Seasons 3:799-801)
Let the people be holy, and the earth under their feet will be holy. Let the people be holy, and filled with the Spirit of God, and every animal and creeping thing will be filled with peace; the soil of the earth will bring forth in its strength, and the fruits thereof will be meat for man. The more purity that exists, the less is the strife; the more kind we are to our animals, the more will peace increase, and the savage nature of the brute creation vanish away… Let the whole people… be possessed of that spirit and here is the Millennium, and so will it spread over all the world. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Brigham Young, p. 333)

Wow! So, this says that if all humans cared for animals as Adam did (because we are filled with the Spirit of God), it would take away the animals' "savage nature," even a bear's! We can take away animals' fierceness simply by being kind to them. (Isn't that so strange though --- because we're taught that human kindness will kill a wild animal! We hear of the one person being nice to one animal, that's all it takes is one person, to get an animal to trust humans, and then bang! the hunter's got 'em.) But take out the hunters, the abuse, add in God's kindness, and, we, humans and animals, could live together in peace, just as Isaiah prophesied would happen in the millenium. And this will happen because, we, as a people, will make it happen. And, so here I sit, pondering on this now instead of nutritional greens... Yet, I feel enlightened --- and am again considering vegetarianism. I'm not promising anything… it turns out I'm addicted to meat... although, it certainly doesn't seem bad and definitely seems the way of the future!

As a side note, my Blentec just arrived! So, I'm off to find something green to blend!!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ice Show 2012

Painting her surfboard for her part in the ice show.
Alyssa, a Hawaiian surfer, and, Payton, a ninga fighter.
Payton and Alyssa are both in the city's figure skating club --- and they LOVE it! (even though Daddy does NOT! Well, for Alyssa, it's ok, but, "Payton should be in hockey and Alyssa should try it..." I don't whole heartily agree. As long as I am the one driving them around, I feel that I get to choose what works best for us, at least until the kids have their own opinions on it.)

This year's ice show was "Disney Around the World" and the kids skated to Disney songs. Alyssa's little group skated to "Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride" from the movie Lilo and Stitch. Payton was one of five ningas and his group skated to "I'll Make a Man out of You" from the movie Mulan.

Her latest pose for the camera.

I tried to do something a little extra special in Alyssa's hair. She LOVED it. Then, I got out my makeup, her favorite, and started on her eyes. She looked in the mirror and burst into tears. I assured her the other girls would have their eyes painted too. She wouldn't believe me. With a little coaxing, and hoping to help make things better again, I put a bit of lipstick and blush on her. Still, she did NOT want "CAT EYES!" But we had to leave and I didn't want to smear black all over her eyes trying to take it off. So, finally, we compromised; if the other girls' eyes were not painted up, we would go into the bathroom and take it off.

Lookin' ninga tough.

Once inside the ice arena, we found the "guys" locker room and sent Payton in to hang his jacket and change into his skates. I went to the "gals" locker room with Alyssa and we got her situated. Fortunately, the eye makeup issue had disappeared. Payton stayed in his locker room. I finally decided it was time to hunt him down. There he was, sitting in the locker room with the other ningas, watching one of them play his DS. I had him come out while another little ninga told me to "Stay out!" in his best ninga impersonation. Payton showed me that his lip was about to crack and bleed. I didn't have chapstick on me (bad mom moment). So, I called Eli. He hadn't left the house yet, so he got some chapstick. Whew! At least I got something right tonight (good mom moment!) Then he was off, pretend fighting with another ninga!

Warming up.

More warming up. Payton is still all about speed on the ice.

Hanging out with the ningas --- should be warming up!  : )

Here they are!

On the way to the show, I remembered I didn't get gifts for Payton and Alyssa. I figured we'd go out for ice cream afterwards.

But, it was freezing and the kids were grumpy. Payton continued to ask why he didn't get a present. I wanted a family photo like we got last year, however, with Alyssa's feisty attitude, we didn't even try.

We were hungry. The kids choose Chinese, but they were closed so we went next door to Applebees. The kids wanted to go across town to get Mexican. We didn't. The interstate was closed so it was a busy night at Applebees; yet, we were quickly seated. With all the congestion in my lungs (4 weeks now) and sitting in a cold arena for the past 4 hours, hot chocolate sounded really good. I ordered that with a bowl of soup. The hot chocolate was good. The soup was not. The hot chocolate comes with free refils! Nice surprise. The hair on top of the whipped cream was not a nice surprise.

Back home, with warm, full tummies, we tucked our grumpies into bed and slept.

The next morning Alyssa confessed, "You were right Mommy, the other girls had their eyes painted too." And "That was the BEST DAY EVER!" "If I have little girls, I'm going to paint 'cat eyes' on them." It turns out that she may even want to do a solo next year....

I may not have experienced a natural high like I did after last year's show, but, I think Alyssa was still on one.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Stay at Home Mom

The stay at home mom is the envy of many. Especially me. I want to sit home with my feet propped up and take it easy during the day.

The thing is, I am a stay at home mom. I do sit around the house A LOT some days. Especially when I'm working on building a newspaper or surfing the net --- although, I call it my personal education. I love to find nutrious rich foods to feed my family. The problem is --- the recipes are all new, all the time. I try it on the family and then it gets forgotten about. And, many nights, it doesn't matter how good my intensions to make a healthy, raw dinner, we simply run out of time and a couple cans of soup goes in the pot or a stir-fry from the freezer. I know, I know, I could prep my own and freeze them myself, and sometimes I do. But, then again, it's taking the time to do it.

But, then again, I have plenty of time...

This morning I got up late, 6:40 a.m., and  pulled up the covers right up under the pillows. Pulled on yesterdays jeans and a fresh shirt. Dragged the hamper to the laundry room. Opened the washer and surprise, Eli had washed his work jumpers. Those have to be hanged to dry and this morning I don't have time. So much for getting the wash started. I pass Eli as he is heading out the door for work. I snap at him for leaving clothes in the wash and immediately wish I hadn't. Now he's grumbling and emptying the washer.

I need to get the kids started. Thankfully, Eli already has. I wish again I hadn't mentioned the wash.

Alyssa just sat down at the piano to practice. I head to the kitchen and start a green smoothie, and the piano practice stops. The kitchen is a mess from yesterday, but, fortunately, the blender got rinsed out from yesterday's use. I pull out the rest of the chopped pineapple from Monday and a tub of spinach, throw in some frozen fruit and blend it. I call the kids in for a blessing. Payton has me give a run down the ingredients before he will try it.

On to lunch. Dump last night's leftover green salad into two plastic containers. Wash, peel and slice some fresh kiwi. Payton asks for raisins too. I get some but I hate digging those out of the box because they always get up under my fingernails and make my fingers sticky. I wash my hands and pack forks and napkins. The kids take their lunches to their backpacks.

I spray and scrunch my now 4 day old hair do. Better, but not nice. I don't have time to do Alyssa's hair either! I hope she brushed it, she prefers to do her own hair these days anyway. She didn't. Instead, I ask if her reading books are in her backpack. (I knew those were and I hoped me asking would make her feel good about it.) She smiles a yes and I give her a high five.

Payton is getting dressed so I run downstairs to add a new correction (that was emailed late last night) to the Figure Skating Program that has to be printed today. I am nervous about sending this off because I don't feel like anybody took a serious look at it and last year's program had a bunch of errors. Payton's Parent Teacher Conference reminder is sitting next to the computer. I enter it into the computer's calendar and realize it is the same day as we scheduled the primary party for. At least we are scheduled later that evening. I wonder how it's going to work out for the other kids.

7:31, time to warm up the car. I stick my bare feet into my boots by the door and race over the icy lawn to stick the keys in the ignition. No frost today, but windy.

Back inside I brush my teeth. The kids already have their coats on and backpacks ready! Good surprise and I tell them so.

We're off to a happy start this morning. In the car the clock now reads 7:49. It couldn't have possibly taken me 20 minutes to bush my teeth!!! We're suppose to be at the chiropractors RIGHT NOW! We're suppose to come early! So much for early! We hit every red light and get there right at 8:00, then wait another 15 minutes. Payton gets his knees re-taped and I get my neck cracked. No time for therapy. We race off to school and get there just as the 1st bell rings (at least we're not late again!) We give kisses and I love you's and the kids are off to their classes. I wave good bye and watch until they disappear inside the doors. (That's still gets to me a little.)

I head back home because I forgot to put my electronic file in my purse, use the bathroom (my belt goes an extra notch tighter!) and race back to the chiropractors for my massage. Sure, it's nice and it's helping my recover from whiplash, and I'll be glad I took some time out to get that done later. She tells me I need to ice between my shoulder blades. When, I wonder, am I going to do that! (I suppose, being a stay-at-home mom I have the luxury of doing that while I watch soaps this afternoon... as if!)

I schedule our next chiropractor appointment and massage then drive to the dollar store for glass stones for our upcoming Primary party and a couple things for my kids upcoming birthday party. The store still has a big empty space where I think all the colored streamers are suppose to go --- still, only white, black and baby shower streamers. Those won't make a very good rainbow.

Then, a quick stop by UPS. She takes the flash drive from me. I tell her the name of the file and she heads to the back. I think she says she's going to make a copy. She returns and says, "Ok, got it!" and I try to give her a bit of instructions about how page 1 needs to be printed on the back side of the covers that they got yesterday. She's confirms that they have all the instructions. I say that I'm not sure the lady who left the instructions understands how I built the document. She responds with, "You need it Friday." I nod and she is off to the next customer. It makes me really nervous leaving it at that, but I do. I should call later, but I already feel so annoying to them that I don't want to.

Home again. Back to the kitchen. And it's still a mess! I empty the dishwasher while I think about what needs to be done first. Maybe I'll get dinner going. But, the counters will need washed, so I start a sink of soapy water, but something sticky and yucky was dumped in there with old lunch containers. I move the containers into the other sink, run the water a bit to loosen the junk in the sink while I start pulling food out to make myself another green smoothie for lunch, wipe out the sink and start filling it. Pull some food out of the fridge that now needs to be put in the compost. While at the compost, I notice the dog bowl needs water. Fill the bowl. Fill the sink. I should have started the laundry when I got home... I gather up the old dishtowels and wash clothes and remember there was a big smudge across the bathroom mirror. Grab the Windex and wipe the mirror with a dishtowel. Decide to wipe down the counter too. Probably should put up a clean hand towel too... and wipe down the toilet. The floor has band-aid wrappers all over it and I make a mental note to remind Alyssa to clean it up again. And, yes, I could very easily do it, but, then how would she learn that she needs to clean up after herself? I gather the used towels and washclothes from there too and put the Windex back away on my way downstairs. I'm not sure where Eli's jumpers have gone too, but those need to hang dry...  Laundry started, I head back up to the kitchen. From the back of a chair, I remove Alyssa's sweater (the one I put in her hand yesterday to put away), and Payton's painting apron from the floor. I toss those onto their beds and return to clean the table, chairs, counters and everything else I see that I can wipe up quickly, including the fridge handles, which reminds me that I wanted to get dinner started.

Raw tacos. Pull ground turkey from the freezer. (Ok, not totally raw tacos. You can replace the meat with chopped walnuts, but that makes my kids constipated and my husband breaks out from nuts, so I only chop a small bowl of walnuts and the ground turkey goes in a pan.) I go to get spinach for the green smoothie but remember the beets I bought and decide to use beet tops instead. I grab a tomato for my green smoothie. It could look better, but it's not bad yet. I cut off the top and put the rest in the blender for the green smoothie. I grab the last tomato for dinner's salsa and YUCK! this one's molding!

Ok, we'll do spaghetti squash spaghetti tonight instead.

What goes good with beet tops? And now I'm at the computer (yes, sitting on my butt), loosing all my momentum to get things done. Instead of soaps, it the net... Do a quick look through google, not what I'm looking for. Decided to just go for it. Add the beet tops to the tomato and water. Add 1/2 a cucumber and some lime. Mix well. Add avocado. Not the ideal mix, but at least I won't need a nap after I drink it. Tasted it. Not good, but, not bad. Edible.

Wash spaghetti squash and poke holes with knife. Set oven to auto pilot so it will be ready after ice skating tonight. Decide to make bread maker French bread. Out of wheat flour. Pull out flour mill. Out of wheat. Go downstairs to pantry to get some.

Oh, but I remember it's time to move the darks to the dryer. Put lights in. Remembered the white towels in the bathroom downstairs. Go there and see splatters on the mirror and toilet seat. I'm not sure I want to know where these came from. Back to the laundry room for Windex. Shine mirrors, spray toilet, decide to let it sit a minute. In the meantime I should really make another attempt to get the blue crayon out of Payton's two brand new white church shirts --- after all, today's a slow day --- I've got plenty of time. I scrub and scrub but it doesn't budge. The stain remover needs to sit for 5 minutes, and, oh ya, the toilet needs wiped down. Another bathroom half-way done. I wipe up a few handprints with the cleaner from a towel on way back to the laundry room. Wipe the washer top, under lid, down the front. Toss towels and shirts into wash. Wash my hands because anything I use to scrub clothes always makes my fingers crack.

Back to the kitchen. Drink smoothie. Remember I need wheat. Grab a container and head back to the pantry. Find toilet paper wrappers all over the floor. Pull out wrappers. Pull out last of toilet paper to take upstairs. Pull out wheat bucket. Try to open. Try, try, try. 15 minutes later it's finally open. Fill container. Leave lid off so I can fill container again before putting the lid back on.

Mill wheat while finding a French bread recipe. Measure ingredients. Set timer on breadmaker so it will be done when we get home from ice skating. Clean kitchen mill.


It's amazing anything gets done while I'm sitting on my butt. Lucky, lazy, stay at home me.

My husbands wants me to get a "real job." (FYI --- working from home is not a real job.)

And, yes, the ice skating program got printed wrong. I am so embarrassed to say I did it.

Some days I envy those who have a real job. But, then, I think of my kids and I know I am blessed to be home. Mostly I keep my mouth shut and keep what I do at home to myself. I wish I was more efficient at what I do and do more, but, I do what I can do and I just have to call that good enough, it makes it easier to put a smile on my face and be happy for our family even if what I do is not all they want.

And, yes, some days I do just want to sit on my butt!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Chocolate Festival --- Kid's Day!

She was 2, yet, she clearly wanted the "brown" candy in my hand. Later, it was a single-sized chocolate treat in a dessert window. She was barely talking when I discovered her love of chocolate.

Alyssa mixes Aunt Shasta's Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes. She wants to enter these into the Chocolate Festival this year. Mmmmmmm.... can't wait!

First, we get out 6 small bowls for 6 batches. We measure the dry ingredients for all 6 batches. We work together through the first batch, she does a lot of watching. I do a lot of watching through the second batch. She's almost on her own to mix batches 3-6. (The mixer has a top with a small opening for ingredients. She can fit her hand in there, but we've mixed enough together in the past that I'm not worried, besides, I am still in the kitchen near her.)

I dump each mixed batch into a gallon-size ziplock bag with a corner cut off so I can pipe the batter into baking cups. (I figure that since I am the one who has to clean the pans and the oven --- and, she'll not be getting points for that anyway, it's ok if I fill the baking cups myself. In fact, I do all the actual putting in and taking out of the oven, too. I'm sure if they are making entries available for 6 year olds, they are expecting the kids to get help from a grown-up, right?)

Baking is so much fun!
I can't decide if Alyssa's favorite part is cracking the eggs or sampling the chocolate chips. (She has assured me it was the sampling.)

I taste-test the first cupcake. I chew on something kind of hard. I pull out a tiny piece of eggshell. Oh, man... What do you do? I remind her to be extra careful not to let any of the eggshells get in and say, "Mmmmmmm... those cupcakes are YUMMMEEEEEE!"
Late at night, she places the daisies she picked from Wal-Mart onto the cupcake stand I found (after Valentine's for $3).

I help with the hot gluing. She also ties pink ribbon into little bows and finds some sequence to glue on. I bring in a big box from the garage and cut out a circle for the stand to sit on. I wrap it with aluminum foil. The roses I received on Valentine's were wrapped with red netting and I saved it for just in case... Alyssa uses it to cover the circle, then plays in the cut out box. (It had a circle doorway!)

She gets ready for bed. I figured out how we are going to display the samples and begin cutting up more of the box. Alyssa returns and is mad at me. I have cut up her hut! She goes to bed. I cover the cut cardboard pieces with aluminum foil. I put all the cupcakes in ziplock bags so they will stay fresh for the judges. I tape her hut back together the best I can until it stands on its own again. Then I put it in her room and cover the top with a little blanket. I shower and finally go to bed myself.

Payton sits by wishing, waiting, hoping... (drooling?)
I get up extra early on Saturday morning and hot glue a tiny drop on the bottom of each little cupcake and stick it to the wrapped cardboard (so it will be easier for those to travel).

Alyssa gets up just as I finish gluing and we pipe Raspberry Frosting (another yummy recipe from my sister) on top of 201 mini-cupcakes.

(We are suppose to bring at least 100 - 200 samples, the more you bring the better your chances of getting "The People's Choice Award." I am hoping to up her odds at a prize.)

After all that icing practice, it is time to top the big cupcakes that go into the cupcake stand. We baked 18 of the big ones so Alyssa can choose her favorite 13 to put in the stand. But, now, she and I have had enough of the whole cupcake making business. She exclaims that she does not want to go anymore. She needs a break. I send her to take a shower.

(I get a phone call from the store that wanted to buy a figure skating fundraising ad from me yesterday. He asks me to come by and pick up their ad and check this morning. So, I get a break, too!)

Alyssa and I come back in a better mood and finish up. (And, yes, she ices her clean pants --- that should have been expected!)

I pack everything up into the back of the car. Eli drives us so I can hold the big cupcakes that I too eagerly placed into the stand already.

After setting up and coming back home again, Alyssa changes into her new "Chocolate Festival" T-shirt and a clean pair of pants. Her eyes are wild with excitement. An hour later we return to experience the event for ourselves.

The best part of the whole Chocolate Festival is the Candy Land game. 2 tickets only cost $1.
"Hi, Mom!"
Go to Blue.
"Look what I got from the Gingerbread House! It's two sticky hands!"

Alyssa coming out of the gingerbread house.

 They had mini-cupcakes to decorate,

and heart-shaped sugar cookies to decorate.

The kids sampled from the other displays, too. (I just nibbled on what they handed me.) There was a chocolate fondue fountain and a chocolate milk fountain for every one to enjoy. (My hands were too full to take pictures.)

Needless to say, we had WAY, WAY, WAY TOO MUCH SUGAR!

On the way out I remembered I hadn't taken a picture of Alyssa in front of her display yet. Most of the samples were already gone. She still has a smile on her face even though I wouldn't let them get their faces painted because there were a dozen or so kids already in line and it was time to leave. And, I was definitely sick.

We got home and I went to bed. My head hurt so bad. I asked Eli to go back to get her things later. He didn't want to saying we didn't need any of it. An hour later I still didn't think I could make it back myself and convinced him it was necessary for him to go because she might have a prize she needed to collect. So, he got Alyssa and went. I fell asleep.

She won 1st Place!

(And Eli cleaned the kitchen!)   : )