Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Vigilante Mom Ellie Nesler has died

Most of the time I don't post about things like this, but after reading this article I was so SAD about the way Ellie Nesler's life, and the life of her son William, had taken so many bad turns. Unfotunately it was from choices that she made. I rememer first hearing about her on the news after she shot and killed her child's molester in the courtroom. As the Fox News article says, "Some hailed her for exacting her own justice, while others condemned her for taking the law into her own hands."

When this incident happened in 1993 I was graduating from high school, and even at that age I knew that she had done no favors for her son and other children by depriving them of their mother while she had to serve time for this crime. That's not even including the time spent in jail for her drug charges almost ten years later.

Then there's this (also taken from the article): Meanwhile, her son got into legal troubles of his own and was convicted of first-degree murder in 2005 for stomping to death a man hired to clean the family's property in Sonora. The 23-year-old said he believed David Davis was letting people pick through the family's belongings.

William Nesler killed Davis less than an hour after he was released from a 30-day sentence for an earlier assault on him. He is serving a 25-year-to-life sentence.

Apparently, and unfortunately, William Nesler did not learn from his mother's mistakes. It's just so sad.

Cooking on a Budget

Allrecipes has a webpage called "Cooking on a Budget". This is their winter edition, which includes some slow-cooker recipes and a menu that includes these recipes:

Yum! Pasta is always an inexpensive choice for a meal, and we always try to pair it with a salad or green veggie like brocolli. Pears are a fall fruit, so they are a great price now. Even our super Wallyworld had some bosc beauties in the produce section. If one of your new year's resolutions is to stick to a budget(or in our case have enough to even worry about a budget :D) planning a menu is a great way to keep your food costs down. One of my favorite frugal moms is Jonni McCoy, author of Miserly Moms. She has some great ideas for keeping the grocery budget in check. Click here for some of her Frugal Recipes!

Monday, December 29, 2008

5 Minutes For Mom

My blog is now listed on the 5 Minutes for Mom website. Click above to read my interview.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy, Happy Birthday Baby!

It's official. As of yesterday afternoon, our baby girl is now 11 years old! Where has the time gone? Seems like yesterday that she was bouncing along on her bum on the floor because she refused to crawl. Wasn't it just a few months ago that I was laying on the floor beside her crib holding her hand through the bars and singing through the repertoire of songs until she fell asleep? Or announcing her independence by telling me "I DO IT!" every time I tried to help her with something?

Now her feet and hands are almost the same size as mine. Now we can have a discussion about her reading group book, and power point, and boys, and cooking. Now she is almost grown, and I want to tell her to slow down, but I know that she will just speed up.

Happy birthday, Sweetie, Dolly, Ditter. Love you.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to one and all!

This last month has been an emotional roller coaster. So much going on with family and friends, so much heartache and loss, that focusing on Christmas really kept my mind busy.

And can I tell you that there are so many giving and loving people around? We have seen it firsthand in our family and in my Aunt Kim's family this Christmas season. It truly is the season of giving.

As a belated gift to you, I want to share this cute and also true Christmas story. It is written by a cousin of mine. It's a little bit long, so grab a cup of cocoa, sit back and enjoy.

She Pondered Them In Her Heart
Margaret R. Eller

Papa always said the winter of 1923-24 was the worst he had ever seen. It started snowing in early October so by Christmas the drifts were eight feet high in places, couldn’t even see the fences. No Chinook winds had come down the mountain passes and through to the prairies. Every morning Papa would hurry outside and face the west hoping to feel the warming wind, but it continued 25 to 40 below every day and even colder during the night.

As Christmas approached plans were made to go to town to meet the train – Margie was coming home – the eldest of the six children. Everyone was so anxious and eager to hear her tales of adventure. Papa wondered just how much adventure there was in a Catholic Convent but Margie would entertain them for days and make them believe the Convent was the most exciting place in the world. Papa remembered how the kindly nuns were a little reluctant to take a Mormon as a pupil, and resident, but Mama had encouraged them by explaining that the little country school only went tot the eighth grade. She told them how very intelligent and gifted Margie was and deserved more education. Finally they accepted her but surely they often had regrets when she caused as much trouble and mischief as she did at home.

Margie was always the favorite topic of conversation when the ladies in the community met and often they expressed, “How can she be Ethel’s daughter?” In fact, at times, they even queried Aunt Liz, the midwife, “Are you sure you were there when she was delivered – she’s not adopted or one of Ethel’s charity cases?”

Aunt Liz always assured them that the red-haired, high spirited and mischievous child was indeed Ethel’s daughter. Ethel was a Saint! Everyone said so, old and young went to her with their problems, she was always at the bedside of the sick and dying, she consoled, counseled and many a family had food and clothes that she provided. She kept her house immaculate and her children and the three nephews, taken in when their mother died, were happy, obedient and considerate children. Well, all of them were obedient except Margie. It was difficult even for Mama to believe Margie was her daughter and though the girl often taxed her patience and provoked righteous anger, Mama understood this complex oldest child. She knew that in spite of the problems she presented that underneath the bold exterior was a talented and sensitive spirit.

On the 23rd Papa hitched Dobbin and Blue to the sleigh, Mama heated bricks in the oven and they were distributed in the hay on the bottom of the sleigh. Everyone but Mama and the baby were going to town, ten miles away; to meet the train, buy Christmas trees and groceries. All of the children had their yearly savings stored in the ends of their mittens and were anticipating Christmas present purchases at the Mercantile. There were so many quilts covering the children they could hardly be seen. Papa kept assuring Mama that there would be no problems but she was still shouting instructions as the sleigh pulled away, “Don’t forget to go to the Post Office, there should be mail-order parcels and packages from grandmother; be sure and be at the depot when the train comes in; get some good Japanese oranges and five pounds of dried apricots.”

Mama hurried back in the house and upstairs to the crying baby and watched from the south window until she could no longer see the sleigh and it’s precious cargo. Then she knelt in prayer and asked for Heavenly Father’s protection on her loved ones. This wild country was so unpredictable and storms came so fast. Often there was a tug of homesickness when she remembered the beautiful mountains and her valley home in Utah. This Canadian prairie, so extreme in its weather, had never been quite accepted and often she longed for her old home on the slopes of Mt. Ben Lomond. Her mother had once remarked during a visit to the homestead, “If you stand on a sardine can you can see for 100 miles.” But the prairies had been good to them financially, their home was big and comfortable, there was always plenty of good food to eat and even a Model T in the garage. Of course it couldn’t be used much in the winter but it was a joy in the summer.

Mama looked lovingly at the now sleeping Maggie and wondered again what Margie’s reactions would be to the new baby. When Olive was born four years ago Margie pleaded, “Please Mama, no more children. I’m so tired of washing diapers and cleaning house. I’ve peeled 30 tons of potatoes and wiped 10,000 dirty noses. I’ve pushed that dumb old baby carriage at least 5,000 miles and made 7,000 trips to the outhouse in the middle of the night with all the brothers, sisters and cousins.” The last thing Margie had said as she left on the train, her head sticking out of the parlor car window and loud enough for the whole town to hear was, “Remember, Mama, no more babies!”

Well, Mama decided, there was no use worrying about it and anyway, she was sure Margie would just have to look at this beautiful, new child and she would love her just as much as the rest of the family did.

Everyone knew Margie and to know her was to love her or detest her. She could make life delightful or miserable, she teased and tormented but she also had a talent for making people laugh and be happy. To Mrs. Goodman, the teacher in the little one-room school, Margie was a challenge but she recognized Margie’s talents and tried to channel them. Mrs. Goodman was stern, dedicated and demanding and all the children were terrified of her – all of them except Margie. Three mistakes in spelling meant the strap, conversations with your desk mate also meant the strap, or being late for class, raising your voice or saying ain’t. Many a blistered hand went home at 4 o’clock but no sympathy was extended by parents. Cows were milked and dishes washed in spite of tender palms. But as frightened as the children were of Mrs. Goodman they were more afraid of Margie.

Aggie Johnson certainly didn’t like her. She had never forgiven her for convincing her ten children that it was Christmas on the 20th of July and they had all walked five miles home during a heat wave to hang up their stockings and trim the tree.

However, there was also Granny George, alone and lonesome. Margie would go once a week to clean her little house and stay the night. She would read all evening to the little lady and sing “The Last Rose of Summer” at least five times.

Yes, Mama thought, this Christmas vacation should be interesting. She kept trying to think of ways to convince Margie that this new baby was a blessing. She accomplished a lot while the family was in town; the lace was sewn on four flannel nightgowns and buttons sewn on five new nightshirts. Fudge was made and popcorn balls, even a suet pudding. She brought the tree ornaments down from the attic and lit lamps in every room, dressed the baby in her prettiest dress and put her down for a nap in her cradle by the fireplace. Just as dusk fell she could hear the sleigh two miles away, the happy voices and laughter carried loud and clear in the cold evening air. She lit a lantern and hung it on the post, then waited on the porch as each boy and girl, laden with packages, rushed into the kitchen eager for warmth and food.

Margie, enthusiastic as always, hugged and kissed Mama and ran from room to room in the sheer delight of being home. She had pulled off her cap and her beautiful red hair fell to her shoulders in waves and curls. Her green eyes glowed with love as she took in the familiar sights of home. There was a feeling of expectation as all family members looked at one another, the time was here, and the well-kept secret had to be revealed. Finally Mama opened the parlor door, the signal that Margie was about to meet her baby sister. Margie ran to the piano and ran her fingers joyfully over the keys, then to the bookcase to check on her beloved books of poetry. Suddenly she sensed the air of anticipation and her eyes followed as the ten heads turned to the fireplace and the cradle beside it.

Anger replaced the happy atmosphere. Margie looked defiantly at Mama and then Papa, back to the cradle. Then she turned, ran through the kitchen and to her room upstairs. Everyone heard the key turn in the lock.

Mama had experienced many such tantrums and knew the best way to handle such a situation was to ignore it, so the rest of the family continued in preparation for the Christmas festivities, pulled taffy, strung cranberry and popcorn ropes for the tree. The children all went with Mama to the barn to pick one of the trees Papa had brought from town. Soon neighbors would be coming to get a tree too. Papa had put aside the tallest one for the school house. On Christmas Eve there was always a party there, the tree was decorated, a pot-luck supper, program and, of course Santa Claus. They were the happiest times ever, those Christmas Eves with family and friends.

Margie came down to breakfast in a happy and loving mood, hugging and kissing everyone, even the cousins, but not once did she look at the baby. Mama watched anxiously for any sign of interest but Maggie was completely ignored by her oldest sister, and so the others lavished more attention and love to compensate. The tree was trimmed and funny shaped packages appeared under it.

As the clock hands crept toward five and time to leave for the school, excitement reached a fever pitch. All the children were bathed, the girls’ hair was braided and finger nails inspected. Baby Maggie was safely bedded in the big apple box Mama had saved for taking her to church and other events. All the mothers in the district thought the apple box was such a good idea they followed suit and all babies arrived in identical beds.

Mrs. Goodman had built a big fire in the old pot-bellied stove so the building was warm and inviting. Even the cloakroom was cozy and comfortable for the four babies. One member of each family was assigned baby duty but if the babies were good the festivities could be watched from the doorway.

Margie was having fun, exchanging secrets with good friends and charming or antagonizing the adults. For ten years she had sung “The Christmas Lullaby” at every Christmas Eve program. Each year her voice was better and even the people who didn’t like her were eager to hear her sing. When her turn arrived everyone was surprised to hear her sing “O Holy Night” instead of the beloved lullaby. Though she was begged to sing it for and encore she refused.

Walter Smith was Margie’s greatest admirer, her cohort in crime and her most ardent defender. If there was any prank requiring more than her imagination he was always ready to assist. Everyone should have expected trouble when they volunteered for baby duty the last half hour of the party.

Bishop Jensen was giving his annual Christmas message and orating at great length. It gave Margie and Walter ample time to carry out their plan. In the cloakroom all babies were sleeping peacefully in their apple crates. Margie and Walter carefully removed the blankets from the babies and then proceeded to switch each infant. Richard Johnson went into Harold Adam’s box and covered with Harold’s quilts and Harold into Richard’s. Julia Judd was moved into Maggie’s makeshift bassinet and covered, then Maggie moved into Julia’s. Margie made Walter move Maggie; she still wouldn’t look at the new nuisance. They stood back and surveyed their work, hoping the babies would stay asleep, not fuss or cry, and then all families would go merrily home – with someone else’s baby.

Janie Judd came in first to pick up Julia. Margie loved Janie and she felt a little pang of guilt – but it passed quickly. Margie hastened to pull the quilt over the baby’s face and urged Janie to keep the baby well covered. As Elsie Adams came to claim Harold, Walter insisted on carrying the baby to the sleigh and quickly pulled the covers across his face. Aggie Johnson came next to pick up Richard, but with ten other children on her heels she didn’t pay much attention to the baby.

Mama and Papa herded their brood to the sleigh and all were safely and warmly tucked in. The baby up front with Mama slept peacefully. The family trooped into the house, hanging up coats, mittens and caps while Papa took care of the horses. Then Mama had everyone go into the parlor for the Bible reading of the first Christmas. It was late, almost 11 o’clock, but Mama would not let anyone go to bed until the story from St. Luke had been read and family prayers were said.

Margie was a little nervous, expecting the baby to cry any minute and the discovery of the switch, but little Julia was being very good. During the reading time Mama’s voice trembled as it always did when she read those beautiful words, especially the part “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” As the last amen of the prayer was said the baby started to whimper and all the children were sent quickly to bed.

It was only a few minutes until Papa was calling, “Margie! Come down here this minute.”

Mama was pacing the floor with a baby obviously not hers, big brown eyes and black straight hair. Mama didn’t often get angry, but it was very apparent when she did.

“Can you explain how I got home with Jane Judd’s baby?” she said through gritted teeth, “And I suppose Jane has Maggie!” There was no use denying that she was responsible, Mama had this uncanny talent of knowing when Margie was guilty.

Then three shorts and a long ring came on the telephone. Margie just knew it was Elsie Adams, she could hear her screaming clear across the kitchen, “Do you have my Harold? I’ve got that ugly Johnson kid!” Margie turned to escape but Papa blocked the doorway. He had his heavy leather gloves in his hand and he whacked her twice, right on the bottom. Mama was trying to calm Elsie and assuring her that Harold would soon be home.

As Mama was figuring out where each baby was and the best route for the return to rightful mothers, Papa was out in the barn harnessing Daisy to the cutter. Margie was told to dress and be prepared to return each baby and beg forgiveness. Margie couldn’t understand the frayed tempers; after all, a baby is a baby – why all the fuss?

Papa was quiet as they rode away from the house, baby Julia was still shrieking at the top of her lungs. It was five miles to the Judd farm and Julia was exhausted by the time they arrived there and just giving weak little wails and sobs. Janie was angry, but happy to see her baby and offered to keep Maggie until Papa and Margie were finished with the exchanges and could pick her up on the way home.

Another five miles to the Adams and all the way Margie wondered about the reception they would receive. It was worse than she had even imagined and as they were leaving she could still hear Elsie screaming, “Keep Richard warm and be sure Harold is well covered on the way back!” Richard cried for the three miles to Johnson’s and Aggie grabbed him out of Margie’s arms and shoved Harold at her. “You’re a born trouble-maker, Margie Hall, we’ll all be happy when you’re back at the Convent!” she ranted, but she looked adoring down on her baby boy and Margie wondered, “How can she love that funny looking kid?”

Papa knew how Margie dreaded facing Elsie Adams again so he offered to make this delivery. Margie was grateful that she didn’t have to hear another tirade but she watched thoughtfully as Papa handed Harold to his mother and she saw how eagerly Elsie reached for him.

As they left the Adams farm Papa lifted his head and smiled, “Daughter,” he said, ”I can smell a Chinook!” A mile or so down the road he laughed aloud and said, “Yessir, I smell a Chinook.” Margie joined in his laughter as she replied, “Papa, you’re the only man in Southern Alberta who can smell a Chinook, and the only man in the world who can smell one passing Poore’s pig farm!”

It was good to hear Papa laugh, Margie had been having pangs of remorse; not only about all the problems of cold, wet and hungry babies, but she realized Papa must be tired. Bu the time they had picked up Maggie at the Judd’s and were on the last lap it was almost five o’clock Christmas morning. The warm Chinook wind was blowing in and for the first time Margie was holding her baby sister.

Maggie was awake, hunger and unhappy. Margie started to sing “The Christmas Lullaby” and the baby’s sobs ceased. Margie’s arms tightened around the little bundle and tears welled in her eyes. This baby sister was special, she realized, and a great feeling of love overwhelmed her. Suddenly she knew why each mother had been so angry – each baby was very special to the mother.

The words Mama had read earlier came to Margie’s mind, about the birth of Jesus Christ and how Mary had pondered the wonder of it. Tears ran down Margie’s cheeks as she pondered the miracle of His birth and the great love He had brought to the world.

She sang a few more lines of the lovely lullaby and her tears continued to fall. Papa’s heart was full as he observed what was happening and though no words were spoken he realized his daughter was experiencing the Christmas spirit. It was almost as if the warm Chinook wind had blown the cold and indifferent attitude right out of her heart.

This isn’t to say there was a complete reformation but the rest of the holidays were more peaceful, there was still a lot of teasing but Margie was the first to read the scriptures each night and the last one off her knees after family prayer, as if she was adding a private word.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Thanksgiving that almost wasn't

Mama is home now. Thanks for all of your prayers! She is feeling much better, but still needs oxygen some of the time. We had a pretty crazy couple of weeks with her at the hospital in Kansas City; there was lots of driving back and forth, watching each other's children, and staying at the hospital with Mama. Emily ended up staying 5 days and I stayed up there for 3. Mom had her own personal nursing staff with us around.

With Mom not there deciding what we should do, we waited until the last minute to go ahead with our regular Thanksgiving dinner. Tara, Carmen and Natalia did the shopping for the last-minute stuff, but luckily Mom had been really organized (and I had thawed the turkey) so everyone pitched in and we threw together a dinner. It wasn't bad, but wasn't as good as when Mom does it, the stuffing especially! The turkey was good and moist, though.

Don't forget dessert! Apple and Cherry and Pumpkin, Oh My!

And the motley crew. Tara is missing since she's behind the camera!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday Planner

Look ahead, and plan ahead, for the Holiday season. Make a planner! Include these things in your usual planner, or grab one of your kids' old binders.


Calendar for November and December
Remember to write down Holiday parties for work, church, school, school Christmas concerts or Winter dances, baking parties, anything else you can think of!

Menus –
Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Holiday Party, New Year’s Party, even Birthday parties (Natalia's birthday is two days after Christmas)

Recipes – Baking, etc.

Party plans

Gift list – include kid’s wish lists.

Card list – check off as addressed and sent. Do a few at a time. You don’t have to send them all at once!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


My sister Tara wrote a bit about it on her blog, but my mama is down with pneumonia and is in the ICU in Kansas City. She hates hospitals and doctors, and is pretty freaked out about the whole thing.

Needless to say, we're pretty freaked out around here, too. Mama is the thread that holds this crazy bunch together, and we can't even call her on the phone! Mellisa came over tonight and said that this is longest she's ever gone without talking to mom (2 days). Tara and Will are coming home for Thanksgiving. We talked about maybe not making Thanksgiving dinner, to wait until mom comes home and then have the meal then, but Grandma and Dad both said, "Let's just have Thanksgiving twice!

Well, we're praying for our mama, and hope that you'll say one for her, too.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Some ideas for taking the stress out of the holidays

-Make a budget and stick to it. Do a little bit of shopping each trip.
-Have a set number of gifts that are given to each child.
-Choose names and set a price limit. Instead of buying gifts for all siblings and cousins, you’ll end up with a lot less!
-Let grandparents and other relatives know children’s gift lists, and what you think is appropriate. They’ll usually listen.
-Shop on-line and take advantage of free shipping or gift-wrapping.
-Take turns with friends watching each other’s children for Christmas shopping.
-Make sure you have tape, tags, and wrap.
-Wrap gifts as they are purchased or have a gift-wrapping party with friends. Have children help wrap gifts. They love to be involved!

Cooking or Baking:
-Throughout November and December cook double for dinner when you can and freeze the extra portions. When you have a busy day, dinner is ready to be heated up.
-Shop ahead of time for non-perishable food items for Christmas meals and baking.
-Host a cookie baking day or cookie exchange with friends.
-When you have a free block of time, mix up a batch of cookie dough and freeze it. Then bake when you have time.

Christmas cards:
-Schedule picture appointment.
-Instead of doing newsletter yourself, have each person write a paragraph or draw a picture.
-Purchase stamps and cards ahead of time and address a few each night, or have older kids help.

-Get rid of decorations you don’t use or love!
-Pack up knick-knacks from house into Christmas boxes while decorations are out.

-Wash china or holiday dishes ahead of time (or use paper and plastic)
-Do you need anything dry cleaned?
-Make sure to buy film for cameras, or clear out your card, and charge up video camera.

Thinking these things out ahead of time can save a lot of stress. Especially if you're a procrastinator like me.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How do you fight the “gimmes”, create traditions,

and trade seasonal stress for more joy?

By doing less, not more. By involving the whole family in decisions about what to do for Christmas. By deciding which traditions and preparations are a priority, and which are just continued because you’ve always done them.

This is from a class I taught at church a few years ago, and I’ve been going over the list again. My kids are old enough to help out with Holiday preparations and ideas, and we also held a family meeting with the grandparents, parents and my brothers and sisters to decide what we can do to streamline and simplify our Christmas. There were things that some of us did not want to copromise on or quit doing (Tara), but also things that we decided we did not need to do. We put it all to a vote, and voila; we have aplan. Here are some things to be thinking about right now.

1. Make a list of preparations for the holidays. They can include things such as:

Making gifts
Shopping for gifts
Wrapping gifts
Writing cards or newsletter and addressing
Helping at church
Holiday baking
Home decorations
Getting the tree
Decorating tree
Outside decorations
Hosting parties
Helping with school activities
Planning family gatherings
Making Christmas dinner
Making travel arrangements
Preparing for house guests
Volunteering your time

2. Spend some time remembering how you felt last Christmas as you were doing each of the tasks you listed. Put a star by the ones you actually enjoyed. Beside each one not starred, write down a few words that describe the reason for your dissatisfaction, such as:

Not enough time/money/family support
Didn’t enjoy this type of activity
Didn’t value this type of activity
My performance didn’t measure up to my expectations

3. Cross off responsibilities to do without, or check the ones to delegate.

This is a springboard for your holiday planning. Get your family involved! Have a family meeting. Don’t just delegate to them, spend time together as a family doing them.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Countdown to Christmas 2008

We have been working on Thanksgiving and Christmas plans around here, and boy, with the time change and cold weather it's even beginning to feel a lot like winter. Pretty soon I will be posting some more advent calendar ideas, as well as cheap and easy gift ideas, holiday recipes, crafts, and a bunch more! So check back here tomorrow. I'll give you a peek at a new advent calendar.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

God Bless America

After the election results last night, my little corner of the country was not celebrating. I wasn't doing a victory dance or high-fiving Andy. I sat and watched John McCain give a very touching, dignified and gracious concession speech, calling for the support of his victor. I sat and contemplated what Barack Obama's election to the highest office of our beautiful country means to me and to my family, my community, our state and the United States of America, and I'm worried.

Don't get me wrong, I have hope-

I have hope that everything will be OK, that the economy will turn around, gas prices will stay down, and that we can grow and prosper. I have hope that President-Elect Obama will do what is best for this country, and not bring us to a liberal, large government, "don't you worry, we'll take care of you now" mentality. I have faith that my Father in Heaven is watching out for me and for this choice country, for which our forefathers fought and brought to freedom so many years ago. I am grateful for a democracy in which everyone has a right to let his or her voice and choice be heard, and I hope the right choice was made.

I guess I will wait and see, just like the rest of the world. I will wait to see if Joe Biden's speculation that the rest of the world will test President Obama will be verified.

I will wait to see if he will reach across the party lines and try to work together with those he views as the enemy.

I will wait to see if he continues to include in the circle of his associates William Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, and others on the left fringe of politics. Maybe he will keep his distance from them. Maybe he has learned his lesson. Kind of like the straight-laced kid in school who likes to hang with the dangerous crowd. He got in trouble for it (although most people don't seem to care much who he surrounds himself by) and maybe he'll toe the line from now on.

But, like I said, I am hopeful. I'm hopeful that this will stay the land of the free and the home of the brave. And I hope that my doubts will be unfounded.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Did you Vote today?
If you haven't yet,
then what are you waiting for?
You can't complain about who is elected
if you didn't participate in the elections.

Monday, November 3, 2008

FHE Games

+ = FUN!

We've had so much success with our "Scripture Spoons" that Andy had the idea to play "Scripture Candy Land" tonight. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Reflections of Christ

Because of the time change we were actually early to church this morning. I commented to Andy that wouldn't it be nice if we had a time change every Sunday, and he said that eventually it would catch up to us. Oh, well.

I have choir practice Sunday mornings at 8:15, and this morning we practiced the song we will sing for Thanksgiving "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing", which is a beautiful song.

Tonight while checking my e-mail, I received one from Deseret Book about a new book, Reflections of Christ. Photographer Mark Mabry first shot the photos for the Reflections of Christ exhibit as a way to promote the Mesa Arizona Temple's Easter Pageant. Reflections of Christ is fast becoming internationally known to people of many Christian faiths and the exhibit is currently touring the United States and Canada.

If you click here, you will find a video of some of those photographs accompanied by that song, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing". Trust me, those few minutes will be worth it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Witch's Brew

When Brian, our now 8th grader, was a sweet little kindergartener, he had a great teacher named Mrs. Pearson. She was old school, over retirement age, played the piano in class, and all. I was fortunate enough, because my friend Karen babysat Natalia, to be able to work in the classroom once a week.

Mrs. Pearson did a lot of fun things with the kids, including a spooky Halloween party. During the party, she put on her witch's hat, turned down the lights, unpacked her black cauldron, and mixed up a batch of Witch's Brew. You should have seen the eyes on those kids! With the addition of each ingredient she cackled and stirred. It was great! She gave me the recipe, so I'm posting it here in case you need to whip up a batch. This makes enough for a classroom of kids, so cut down the juices and soda to make a smaller cauldron full.

Witch's Brew

2 bottles of Old Witch's bath water (apple juice)
1 bottle of Vampire Blood (Hi-C concentrate)
1 bottle of Red Sea Water (cranberry juice)
2 bottles Ghost Water (Ginger Ale)
2 bottles of lemon-lime soda
6 slimy worms (gummy worms)
5 hoppy toads (gummy frogs)
1 pet tarantula (plastic spider)
1 bag dried flies (chocolate covered raisins)
2 dried bat wings (fruit roll-up pieces)
Dry ice

Put ingredients one at a time (except for dry ice) into a large plastic cauldron (you can usually find them at Wally-world or party stores) and stir the brew. Wiggle the worms and toads as you add them, and really use some drama! Add dry ice last. The steam will pour out of the cauldron. You can wait until it's done to pour out glasses full.

Happy Haunting!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Family Home Evening Idea

We try to plan Family Home Evening in advance, but sometimes the most fun we have had has been when we've been the most spontaneous.

A couple of weeks ago we decided to play Scripture Spoons. We laid out 5 spoons, then played the regular Spoons card game, but left the Jokers in. Whenever a Joker was passed, someone would read a few verses from the scriptures. Then, when a player collected a hand with four-of-a-kind and grabbed spoons, whoever was left without a spoon read some more.

We played for quite a while, and will probably play every few weeks.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Blog World

So, this blogging world is something, isn't it? I was invited to a blogging event for next weekend in St. Louis at the Build-A-Bear workshop, everything free as long as I blog about it. Unfortunately, I'm not going, but isn't it neat to have the opportunity? I told them to feel free to invite me to anything anytime. Hee hee.

A lot of bloggers hold carnivals and giveaways, and 4 Reluctant Entertainers is having a giveaway on her blog for a cute Fall box full of seasonal stuff. You can enter by leaving a comment here.

Maybe someday I'll have a giveaway or contest, but I'm not sure I've got enough readers! And maybe you will all come out of the woodwork, then.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

OK, one more birthday boy post

On Joe's birthday, Andy went into the post office here to pick up the mail, and Vicki told him she had a package for him, but couldn't guarantee that the butterflies were still alive! Turns out the package that Nonni had sent from insectlore.com arrived on Friday, but thank goodness they were still catapillars! We watched as they formed chrysallids, then we moved them into their butterfly habitat. They all turned into painted lady butterflies. We enjoyed them for a day, then let them loose to pollinate the fields.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Birthday Bash on a Budget

We celebrated Joseph's 7th B-day last month, and he really wanted to invite a few of his friends over for a party. Andy gave him a new fishing pole as an early present, then Aunt Mellisa and Uncle Adam got him his own tackle box and gear, so we decided to have a fishing party! I made up some invitations using my circle punch and some cute paper, then printed out an invite to go inside. I also had some clear envelopes which make them so fun to send and receive!

Then, for the actual party day, I picked up Joe and his friends from school, and Dad, Grandpa, Great-Grandpa, Uncle Ben and Uncle Adam took them all out to the neighbors pond to fish. Unfortunately, the fish weren't really biting that day.

The treat bags had individual bags of goldfish, some balloons and blow toys, and candy in them. I punched holes and strung the "fishing pole" swirly straws with the dangling fish on them. The fish were just funny shaped wooden pieces, and Joe painted them, then we finished them off with the names of the party-goers with a Sharpie.

Joe also wanted a fish shaped cake, so I took the idea from the grocery stores and made cupcakes, arranged them into the shape of a fish, then frosted them all as one. I used 24 cupcakes and 1 tub of frosting tinted orange, but the frosting was barely enough. I then used gel icing to detail some scales and cinnamon red hots to make the eye. Not real artful, but he liked the finished product! It worked great on my huge, blue platter.

Dinner was Bobbers and Worms (spaghetti and meatballs) with Rods (breadsticks) and cucumber salad and Jell-O Jigglers.

We used brightly colored paper plates and napkins, and not including the dinner, I spent less than $20.00. Not bad.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I'm trying to be organized! So, here is my plan for this week.

Monday: Chicken, Macaroni Salad, Baked Beans (From a can) Corn on the Cob (Grandpa's garden!)

Tuesday: I have dinner at church for Enrichment, so the family can have leftovers.

Wednesday: Pasta, Breadsticks (Dough made in the bread machine) Veggies

Thursday: Herbed Polenta with Mozzarella, Salad

Friday: Chicken and rice and peas

Saturday: Soup and cornbread


Saturday, October 4, 2008

What? It's October already? No, really, you're kidding, aren't you.

Wow, where did September GO! Not to mention this whole year. Lots going on here in the middle of MO, not the least of which is my new baby neice. I'll post pictures soon. (forgot the camera. Oops!) Oh, wait, I'll steal one of Tara's pictures. Her name is Kady Scarlett, and I'm already her favorite Auntie.
I know you're dying to hear more from me (just kidding!) so I'll post some more soon!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

My family would eat these every day, and they were requested frequently in the house I grew up in, too! (Thanks, Mom!)

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked (microwave works great!)and diced
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 16oz carton sour cream
1 4 oz can diced green chilis
1 cup shredded colby cheese
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
(or 2 cup package of mixed cheese)
1 package flour or corn tortillas
Mix cream of chicken soup, chilis, and sour cream together and spread half of mixture into bottom of 9x13 pan. Put a handful of chicken and a small amount of cheese (save half of cheese to sprinkle on top!) onto a tortilla and roll in thirds, putting cut side down in pan on top of sauce. Continue until pan is filled, usually makes six or seven. Cover with remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. They're yummy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cucumbers Galore!

My grandpa loves to plant a LARGE garden. He tills, he sows, he weeds, he reaps. He's been harvesting TONS of cucumbers, which we love to eat. We've had cucumbers for lunch and dinner almost every day for the last couple of weeks. As I was contemplating lunch today, I thought to myself, "Self, I think a cucumber sandwich sounds like a good thing." Lucky for me, I agreed with myself!

Just as I finished putting together my sandwich, my sister Mellisa called me up and mentioned that she was rummaging around her cupboards looking for something to eat. I told her to rummage no more, I was bringing her over a cucumber sandwich! (I know she was thrilled to hear that, wouldn't you be?)

I assembled a second sandwich, then took both plates over to her house. She said, "This looks pretty good! When you said cucumber sandwich, I didn't think it sounded too good."

Well, I enjoyed mine. And she said she liked hers, but maybe she was just trying to make me feel good. Maybe I'll never know, since she doesn't read my blog. Hmm.

Here's how I made the sandwiches:

2 slices of a hearty bread, I used 100% whole wheat by Sara Lee

Thick slices of peeled cucumber

Thin slices of red onion

2 Tablespoons of Mayo mixed with a tsp. of dried dill and a tsp. of red wine vinegar

A couple of dashes of Sea Salt and Pepper

Put it all together and enjoy!

The farm dog

Hi, I'm Reagan, resident farm dog.

I'm named after President Ronald Reagan.

I like long drives on the back of the four-wheeler, any time of the day.

My interests are: eating, sleeping, barking all night, swimming in the sewage lagoon, and riding shotgun on the four-wheeler.

My dislikes include: coyotes, the dark, and coyotes in the dark.

Nice to meet you!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bonus Projects

Here are some bonus projects that use the scraps from the teacher appreciation gift post last week. Just add a sheet of cardstock, and you can create a card and tag to go to your paint bucket gift.

Cut a 6”x12” Piece of cardstock and fold in half.
Cut a 5” square of patterned paper.
Cut a 4 inch circle of patterned paper
Cut a small flower out of the flower paper.
Ink edges of all of the paper pieces and adhere circle to square, and then square to cardstock.
Adhere flower to the four inch circle.
Wrap a 8” piece of ribbon under polka dot circle, to the inside of the card, and back under circle on the other side.

Cut a 2 1/2 inch by 3 1/2 inch rectangle from cardstock. Trim upper corners to form tag. Cut a slightly smaller piece of patterned paper and glue to cardstock. Ink all edges.
Use a button to set off a flower, or a brad or small flower to attach to the tag. Punch hole with Cropodile or hole punch and string ribbon through.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Birthday Boy


I can't believe that you are turning 7 today. It seems like yesterday, those tense days after 9/11 when we were waiting for you to emerge into this uncertain world.

Grammie was at the Kansas City airport on 9/11, and was getting ready to board her flight to San Francisco to be there for your birth. When the first plane hit the Twin Towers, Dad and I were just waking up at the house in Santa Rosa. Aunt Emily called us, and we turned the TV on to see the terrible "accident". Of course, moments later we knew it wasn't an accident, and for the next few days before you were born, we spent a lot of time watching and wondering at the horror of what happened that day.

Grammie was able to get a flight on your birthday, and showed up at the hospital just 5 minutes after you were born.

You were such a sweet baby! Always cuddly, wanting to be held and snuggled. You've kept your loving sweetness, too! You are polite and kind to others, and love to learn new things. You say things every day that crack me up! I love everything about you, even your possible missing digestive enzyme that makes you smell like pickles or garlic for days after you eat them. Just something more about you to love.

Happy Birthday to my Boy!

We are blessed that you are a part of our family.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Kids-They surprise me sometimes!

Andy and I rarely go anywhere by ourselves, but we decided to take a short little trip into town the other night. After dinner, we gave the kids a few instructions then headed out.

It took a little longer than we thought it would, so when we pulled into the driveway and the clock read almost 9 o’clock, we thought maybe we shouldn’t read scriptures tonight since it was so late. As we walked into the kitchen, we could hear Natalia reading from the Book of Mormon. The four kids were sitting in the living room reading. Well, three of them were reading, and Mario was asleep on Brian’s lap.

In the short almost-two-hours that we were gone, they played softball, helped Mario practice riding a two-wheeler, and worked on Brian’s Duty to God award requirements. Natalia even supervised showers for the two little boys. I have to confess, for just a split second alien abduction did enter my mind. Or that maybe they had broken something. Then my heart swelled just a little when I realized that they can get along! And be responsible!

And the clincher?

They left us some cookies!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Teacher Appreciation Gift

I am really excited to be doing a guest post for the Steals and Deals blog! Mandy asked me to come up with a teacher appreciation gift. So I started thinking about the different teachers my kids have had through the years, and things that they enjoyed doing. Brian’s first grade teacher always asked for things for his classroom -Pencils, crayons, markers, age appropriate books, etc.

Our school has a book fair going on right now, and some of the teachers have a wish list of books they would like for their classroom. Do like a friend of mine does, and buy one or two of the books, then donate the to the class in honor of someone you love.
The project I have here uses some of my scrapbooking skills and supplies, but an be adapted to suit different tastes and budgets. Let your imagination run wild!

4 12x12 sheets of patterned paper or cardstock
Decorative ribbon
1 Large Paint Can (unused! You can buy one at Lowe's or the hardward store.)
Embellishments of your choice that coordinate with paper (flowers, buttons, tags, diecuts, use your imagination!)

Tools needed
Twelve inch Paper Trimmer
Brown or Black Ink Pad
Hole punch and setter
Circle cutter
1” circle punch

Step 1: Lid
Cut 5 inch circle from one sheet of paper.
Cut 4 and a half inch circle from another coordinating paper.
Punch 1 inch circle from another .
Ink edges of all circles.
Layer five inch and four inch circles and adhere to lid.
Top with small cardstock circle and button strung with a piece of the narrow ribbon.

Step 2: Can
Cut two 3 and a half inch wide strips from a patterned paper.
Measure one of the strips across the top edge of can and mark center of handle. Use the circle punch to cut out the circle.
Measure 2nd strip for back side of can and trim.
Ink top edge of both pieces and adhere to can.
Cut two 4 and a half inch strips from a patterned paper.
Ink top and bottom edges and adhere to the can using the bottom of can as a guide.
Cut two small strips of a third paper so it looks like ribbon {This is a little tricky!} and ink long sides. Glue over the seam of the other two papers.
Now embellish! Make it as simple or creative as you like.
Tie some small strips of ribbon along handle.

This is going to be a Rest & Relaxation gift. The card reads, ”Take a little time off from the 3 R s for a little bit of R & R”. I am including a up and saucer from an antique store (about $5) some tea, a candle, and some homemade cookies.

There are so many other things you can put in this little baby! If your teacher is a movie buff, pick up a couple of movie passes and some microwave popcorn and movie sized candy.

An avid reader would be able to make use of a gift card from the local book store, a reading light, bookmark and a chocolate bar.

Get to know your children's teachers. Volunteer in the classroom. If you can't do that, ask if they need help with anything. Your children spend a good chunk of time with them every day, show them how much you appreciate them.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Usborne Books Giveaway at Steals and Deals Blog!

I know I'm late posting this, but cut me a little slack. Please.

Steals and Deals is giving away $50 worth of Usborne Books. Enter!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

School, Glorious School

Ahh, the first day of school. So bittersweet. Good thing I love bittersweet - chocolate, that is.

The kids headed off to another year, another grade, new friends and old. Don't they look excited?

I'm not heading off to school. Mario made the journey to preschool without me today, and he didn't seem bothered by it one bit. We'll see what he has to say when I pick him up. He wasn't going to be able to go to preschool this year since they were filled with full-time students, but at the last minute we were able to share a spot with another boy. Now he'll go Wednesdays and Fridays.

And did I mention that Brian is in 8th grade? Next year is High School!!! I'm old. Yep. That's all there is to it. Next stop, nursing home.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Top 10 Reasons to keep a Journal

I have struggled my whole life to regularly keep a journal. I know I should, and I start journals, write every day or so for a few weeks, then promptly forget about them. Blogging has been a little bit like a journal, but I keep one that is more in depth with the day-to-day happenings.

My dad was always great at keeping a journal. (I'm not sure if he still keeps one. Do you, Dad?) I remember him sitting down and writing in his big hardbound journal after dinner. I also remember times when we would be talking about something that happened, then not recall just when it was, and Dad would say,"Hold on, I'll look it up in my journal." Wouldn't it be nice to be able to do that?

I ran across this "Top 10" list. Just picture me on with David Letterman reading this to you.

10. Journaling helps exercise writing skills and explore talents.

9. Journaling is a simple and easy task that provides an invaluable source of history to look back on.

8. Recording life experiences helps to know oneself better.

7. Recording personal trials and emotions can reduce stress and help in the healing process.

6. Keeping a record of daily events, facts, and feelings can enhance intuition and creativity.

5. Recording daily occurrences and personal feelings helps foster personal growth.

4. Looking back at personal experiences can help when analyzing situations and solving problems.

3. Daily journaling sets an example for children and other family members to follow.

2. A journal captures a life story for oneself and for posterity.

And the number one reason to keep a journal:

1. Keeping a journal helps you see how God has touched your life.

All right, now I'm going to go write in my journal.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Scrap Inspiration

If you are a scrapbooker, there are so many inspiring blogs and websites to visit! If I have scrapper's block, I love to look at sketches. Patti Hutchinson's sketch site is eye candy galore. (And less calories than chocolate.)

If you're looking for a how-to, Daily Inspirations from ScrapBookMate has some great projects and tutorials.

Makes me want to create something!

Twilight Trailer

Now that Breaking Dawn provided all of the closure needed, I'm counting down to the Twilight movie. Robert Pattinson's American accent is perfect!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Where did she go?

No, I haven't maimed myself in the chicken barns, or fallen in a deep, black hole. My children have not tied me up, and I haven't gotten so deep into this book that I haven't resurfaced.

My computer is sick. So I haven't been on it. And you know how I feel about my computer!


My very pregnant sister is here now. We've missed her.

It's been hideously, fiendishly, and down-right freakishly (that's for you, Tara) H-O-T here. I've been perspiring profusely. Or profusely perspiring. However you say it, I've been doing it.

I promise I'll be back soon. It's more than likely. Really.

So don't abandon me!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Whole Wheat Bread

We're carb-oholics around here, especially when it comes to bread consumption. That being said, I try to keep the carbs to the whole grain variety. I also love to make bread; it is so satisfying to get my hands in a big, warm lump of dough and squish and mush and beat it around. Come to think of it, they should do bread baking in anger management classes. But I digress...

Sometimes I use the bread machine to make bread, but it does something the the whole wheat bread that makes it tough, and sometimes downright hard as a rock. Almost doorstop-like.

I've looked around and tried many-a-recipe, and I've finally stumbled upon a keeper. It's not quite my Great-Aunt Flo's whole wheat bread, but it's durn close!
100% Whole Wheat Bread

1 1/3 cups warm water
2 T. applesauce or canola oil
3 T. sucanat or brown sugar (I used unprocessed cane sugar)
1 t. salt
3 2/3 cups whole wheat flour
3 T. vital wheat gluten flour*
1 T. active dry yeast

* Don't be scared by this, it's available in the grocery store, even at super Wal-Mart.

Using a mixer (I used my trusty Kitchenaid that Andy was shamed into buying me by TamTam Tomatohead) combine all ingredients and knead for 6 minutes.
Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
Knead 4 more minutes. Turn dough onto lightly oiled board and shape into 2 loaves. Place in pans to rise until doubled.
Bake at 350 degrees 40-50 minutes until golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Simple and Tasty. Yum!

Recipe from Natural Meals in Minutes by Rita Bingham
The kids and I ground the wheat in a Magic Mill wheat grinder. It smells so good!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pioneer Day #1

Pioneer Day commemorates the entry of Brigham Young, and the first group of Mormon Pioneers in to the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, where the Latter-day Saints settled after being forced from Nauvoo, Illinois and other locations in the eastern United States.

In addition to being an official holiday in Utah, Pioneer Day is considered a special occasion by many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On Pioneer Day, some Latter-day Saints reenact walking the Mormon Trail or entering the Salt Lake Valley by handcart.

When I was growing up in rural Wisconsin, I loved Pioneer Day. We would celebrate in different ways, but one of my sisters and my favorite Pioneer Day was the year Dad built an actual handcart (to be used in the handcart races, of course!) We played endlessly with that handcart. Mellisa made Emily and I tote her around all over the farm in it.

Sugardoodle has a ton of fun activities to do the whole week. I think the kids and I will plan some fun things to do on Pioneer Day. We’ll let you know what we decide!
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