Saturday, December 31, 2011

hoppin' December

Here's a few more events from this past month...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Nathan and Jared sang this song, "Baby in a Manger" by Sally Deford in church today.  They did a great job!  Everyone thought they sounded like angels.  I was really proud of them for singing in front of everyone.  (We've been having some technical issues with the camera, so hopefully the picture and sound match up.  We had to do each verse separately because of the 100 mb limitation for video.)  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

'twas the night before Christmas...

...and all through the house, every creature was stirring, even the mouse rats.  The stockings aren't hung yet by the chimney full of cobwebs, and hoping that cousin Nicholas is having fun in Spain!  (Okay, so my brain is a bit fried at this point, but there's always some kind of drama going on.  It's not the peaceful day/evening I'd hoped for.  I actually think the rats in our garage are gone, but we had to deal with those recently.  We worked on cleaning mold off a couple of walls today - didn't think I'd be doing that today.  Yuck!  Because of that, the boys are all in Weston's room tonight.  The stockings really aren't out yet, nor are the presents wrapped.  We're working on that.  And cousin Nicholas really is in Spain for Christmas.  Have fun you guys!)  
So the boys got to open one present tonight - some clothes and pajamas.  Here they are in them, sitting on these boxes that are perfect for taking pictures in front of the tree!  We'll take the presents out of the boxes tonight, but we wanted to make sure they didn't get opened before Christmas.  The boys are ready!  I think I'll sleep good tomorrow night.  This is a lot of work.  It's worth it though.  Just look at these boys!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Buzz "wightyear" party

We celebrated Owen's 3rd birthday last week.  He requested a Buzz "wightyear" party (although the previous requests were Curious George and then Winnie the Pooh).  Owen's l's come out as w's, so it's so cute to hear him talk about his buzz "wightyear" party.  He couldn't stop talking about it, and really couldn't understand the concept of waiting until his birthday.  When we'd look at cakes or something on-line, he'd say, "Go make my cake."  I tried to explain that he had to wait, but that didn't register.  The morning of his birthday, we had bacon, eggs, and pancakes, followed by opening his presents from family.  Later, he had his friend party with 4 little friends.  We got him a stomp rocket, which I had planned on the kids playing with, but it was a little too muddy and they kept losing the rockets in the tree or over the fence.  I didn't have a chance to come up with any other games, but they had fun just playing with toys. I got some little finger lights that the kids loved playing with.  We also had dinner for the kids - pigs in a blanket, cantaloupe, chips, and lime green Hawaiian punch.  And of course we had cake!  My mom sent a little Buzz toy that was perfect for the cake topper.  I wasn't sure how I was going to put together an acceptable Buzz cake, but I snatched his toy and it all came together.  One of Owen's favorite presents was a toy laser gun that I got from Michael's for $3 - it lights up and makes sounds.  Annoying toy, but well worth seeing his amusement over it. 

(I have a couple more cute pictures, but I can't find the camera's computer cord.  They'll have to wait.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2-0h-11 Christmas tree!

ever had one?


Jared was recognized for his artwork.  Most of the kindergartener's pictures were similar, but the sentences were different.  So Jared's was selected on what he said for "I am special because..."  He is very proud that he can ride his bike to school.  I'd add to it that he also knows his own lock combination.  There's many reasons why Jared is special though!  It was interesting to see what he came up with for why he's special.  Jared may turn out to be our artsy kid.  He seems to enjoy doing artwork, and he is very meticulous and likes to take his time and do it well.  

rockin' runners

Nathan and Jared had a fundraiser jog-a-thon at school, and they both did really awesome.   They had to run as many mini laps as they could in 30 minutes.  I'm not sure what the distance was, but Nathan did 50 laps (filled the card) and Jared did 35 laps.  Nathan got 1st place out of all the 2nd graders (about 70?) and Jared got 3rd out of the kindergarteners (about 65?). I didn't imagine how proud I would feel at their determination and endurance.  They both just kept running.  Many puttered out after about 10 minutes, but Nathan and Jared kept going.  After the first 10 minutes, they let the kids get water.  Jared took a new cup after just about every lap, took a sip, and then chucked it over his shoulder.  I was getting a kick out of that.  He was just having fun out there.  Nathan never even stopped for water.  He and his friend took off at the beginning, slowed a little, and then kept a pretty steady pace.  When they had the award ceremony later, I noticed that none of the girls in the school ran more laps than Nathan and only about 5 or 6 boys ran more laps (about 51-53 laps).  One of the 5th (?) graders ran 61 laps.  They did a great job - my rockin' runners!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

We didn't go anywhere for Thanksgiving this year.  It was just us - which means I did all the cooking while the boys played.  I sent them out so they wouldn't get in the way.  Alex took them to their favorite hiking place and then played at the beach until the food was done.  

The food turned out okay.  I'm blaming the less-than-stellar results on our ancient Wedgewood Futura gas oven.  The turkey was overdone on one side - I should have turned it midway through cooking.  The green bean casserole also overcooked.  The sweet potatoes were too soft and the pie filling bubbled out through the sides.  It still tasted pretty good.  The rolls and real mashed potatoes were great, as well as the fried chicken.  I think next time I won't do turkey at all!  We all liked the fried chicken drumsticks so much, and they were MUCH EASIER than the turkey.  The boys wouldn't eat the sweet potato apple casserole, but I liked it (even though it was more like sweet potato applesauce).  Jared and Owen loved the jello.  I would have preferred cranberry sauce, but I knew they wouldn't eat that so jello seemed like a good alternative.  So, there it is.  A full day's work for a 20 minute meal.

Nothing fancy.  You can see that we had a very casual feast, complete with Spiderman in attendance.  :)

 The day after Thanksgiving, we took the boys to a local park, which was packed.  We forgot that our city is the place people want to come for Thanksgiving.  I didn't take any pictures at the park, but we enjoyed playing tag amidst the crowd.  We also stopped to see the turtles and ducks nearby.  In the evening, we did a mini hike at the beach to watch the sunset.  Beautiful place!  Sure missed seeing family though.

We loved seeing Weston carry around the seaweed.  Some kids carry blankets or toys around for security...  Weston carries seaweed.  :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

November activity days

I'm still in charge of activities for the 8-11 year old girls.  Besides not being able to relate to them very well, I'm enjoying the calling.  This month, we made the "Give Thanks" frames using the $1 wooden frames from Michael's.  We covered them with decorative paper and modpodge.  I found the "thanks" sparkly letters on clearance at Michael's and printed out the "give" on the computer.  I brought some buttons and other little embellishments, thinking they might like to put 2-3 of them on the frame.  I'm pretty simplistic I guess.  I forget that they like to put things all over.  They also got pretty crazy with the distressing ink for the edges.  Oh well. They also got gratitude journals which they were supposed to write in daily for November.

Our 2nd activity:  We talked about the 13th article of faith -
"We believe in being honest, true, chastebenevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuouslovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."

We focused on the "seek after these things" and did a scavenger hunt for some of the good things we seek after.  They were given a clue and had to look by an item that went with that, such as seeking after good music (piano), seeking good friends (phone), seeking good books (bookshelf), seeking to keep our bodies healthy (fruit), etc.  They had fun with it.  When they found all their clues, they put it together to reveal where the treasure was, which was a gold treasure box with beads in it.  They used the beads to make simple bracelets on memory wire.  The wire was so easy to work with.  We just bent one end of it with pliers, strung the beads on, and bent the other side.  So easy.  Not fancy, but simple.

We did a 3rd activity this month.  We made advent calendar wreaths using clothespins.  I pre-painted 25 clothespins for each wreath.  We used a fake pine garland and cut off pieces (with wire cutters) to hot glue on each clothespin.  Prior to that, we wrapped some little red and gold glitter balls around the pine piece (the balls were already on a wire and part of a decorative stem).  We arranged the clothespins around a circular piece of covered cardboard (I used a cereal box and glued some scrapbook paper on).  Then we stuck 1-25 under each of the clothespins - each day has a little service or activity to do to countdown the days until Christmas.  Another pretty simple, but cute activity.  

Weston is usually with Owen!

The answer to the previous post is usually "with Owen."  Weston and Owen are partners in crime, best buddies, and sometimes worst enemies.  I think someone coined that "best frienemies" or something like that.  It's fun to see their relationship grow.

Where's Waldo?

 Where's Waldo Weston?

He likes to get in and on anything and everything.  I don't have a picture of him on the top bunk, but if we leave the ladder on, he loves to climb up there.  He also likes to get on the table.  In one of the pictures, you can see that he has only one shoe on (red plaid shirt picture).  We call him "peg leg" sometimes because we can hear him clomping around with one shoe.  Usually the question is, "Where is your other shoe?"  He doesn't have any words yet, but we're not concerned about that.  We're actually enjoying his silence for now, since his brothers talk non-stop. He does point and grunt "uhn" when he wants something.  He will bring us Nutrigrain bars or boxes of pasta or whatever he can get in the cupboard when he's hungry.  He really is a funny kid!  He makes us laugh.  I had to include the picture of him sleeping with his pants down!

What else did we do on Halloween?

The boys didn't have school on Halloween, so we went to the zoo.  I sometimes think the boys would get bored seeing the same animals again, but they always seem to be fascinated by something.  They particularly enjoyed watching the otters.

I should mention that we went to the zoo after our annual trip to the doctor's office.  We got to see all the nurses and doctors dressed up again.  We were there last year on Halloween as well.  I'm not sure nurses in costumes helps at all (aren't they already scared of them?)   :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

13.1 and lessons learned

I finished.  I wasn't planning on doing the race until earlier this week when I decided I'd give it a try.  I had been increasing my mileage and doing 6-7 mile runs.  The most I did in training was about 9 miles.  I thought I could push out the last part of the race.  I was pretty nervous at the beginning of the race, not knowing if I'd have a good day or if my knee would allow me to finish.  I've had problems with my right knee and have gradually tried to increase my mileage.  It's been working.  I just shouldn't have attempted a race I hadn't properly trained for.  I did pretty well for the first 8-9 miles, but during the 9th mile, I knew my knee was about to start hurting.  By the 10th mile, my knee checked out.  Normally in my training, that's the point where I stop and walk and I'm done running.  My pride just wouldn't allow me to do that in the race.  I only had 3 miles left and I didn't want to quit.  I ran-walked the last part of the race.  I ran until the pain was unbearable, walked for a little bit and tried to run again.  It was a pretty slow 3 miles.  I couldn't bring myself to walk in front of the crowds at the finish, so I jogged about the last half mile, which was very painful.  My knee almost completely gave out right at the end, but I did cross the finish.  It was fun to see Alex and the boys there (Nathan was at a soccer game).  I'm grateful that Alex has allowed me to take the time to go running.

You'd think I feel a sense of accomplishment for having finished, but I walked away feeling unfulfilled.  That wasn't the feeling I was going for, but I guess my goal was just to finish and I did that.  I was mostly disappointed that I couldn't finish out strong.  I'm used to kicking it in at the end of a race and being totally exhausted.  I still had energy left.  Just makes me want to try again so I can do better.

Anyway, I did realize that not quite ready IS not quite ready.  I shouldn't have tried something I wasn't properly trained for.  But, I also know that a half marathon is a very do-able race.  When you think about running 13 miles, it seems really overwhelming.  But if you just gradually do a little bit more, you can keep increasing your mileage easily.  When I first started jogging again a few months after Weston was born, I could barely run around the block.  I felt awful.  But it gets better as you keep at it.  Don't immediately give up when you first start.  It's no fun trying to start running, but you'll love the way you feel after you get into a rhythm.

In case you're wondering what I've been doing and how I've had time, here you go.  My training has consisted of jogging for 5 days a week, just an easy pace.  I never run on Sunday, and usually don't run on Wednesday either.  So I have 2 days off.  I have been getting up at about 6:00am and doing 3-4 miles before Alex leaves for work on Tuesday, Thursday, and Fridays (usually about 30-40 minutes of jogging).  I push Weston and Owen in the jogging stroller on Monday morning.  I did some longer runs (5-6 miles) with them, since I had more time and had to go more slowly.  They have been good sports.  I do my longer runs on Saturday, but didn't ever run more than about 1.5 hours.  That's only 3.5 to at most 4 hours per week devoted to jogging - not that much time, considering it's easy to spend much more time on the computer... think about how much time you're on-line (or maybe watching TV or whatever).

The good thing about these endurance runs is you don't have to worry about going fast, at least not until you get serious and start trying to run for time.  Just find a nice easy pace and go.

If you don't have other issues, like knee problems, you're golden.  Go for it.  Just don't try to do too much too soon, like I did.  


Monday, November 7, 2011

raspberries and virtual birthday parties

I got to watch my nephew Dallin's birthday party on-line last night.  It was his 1st birthday and also a special gender reveal party for my sister Alison's 2nd baby.  They had the ultrasound technician put the gender in an envelope, and then they gave that to a friend who made filled cupcakes for Alison and Micah with either raspberries or blueberries.  Dallin got to dig into the cupcake to reveal whether he was getting a sister or brother.  There were raspberries in the middle - another girl!  We're all very excited because there is only one girl out of 10 amongst my siblings.  Hailey will finally have a girl cousin.  So fun!

The downside of these on-line birthday parties is not being able to eat any of the cupcakes!  Owen was pretty disappointed he couldn't have a cupcake.  "I want one Mama!"  Good thing we still have plenty of halloween sweets around, right?  Well, maybe not so much.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


...FOUR boys in the tub!  

Mostly, Nathan and Jared get in the shower together and Weston and Owen take a bath together.  Occasionally, they all want to get in the tub together.  I had to take a picture while I still have the opportunity. I bet Nathan won't want to take a bath with his brothers much longer.

caught being good

Nathan has a cool reward system in his class at school.  He can earn "money" based on good work and good behavior to be used at the teacher's "store" once a month.  They can buy some really neat things, such as Legos.  I have been really impressed with him.  He buys one thing for himself and then buys things for his brothers.  He knows Owen really likes Buzz Lightyear right now, so he bought that for him.  He also got Jared a wooden toy that he can put together and paint - perfect for Jared because he seems to enjoy doing art and things like that.  I love that he's thinking about his brothers.

On a side note, Nathan's teacher really has things figured out with this reward system.  It's great motivation for Nathan, since he's reward-driven, so he does extra work to earn more money.  But it also can work against you for poor behavior or choices.  I guess one kid in his class brought a toy to school, which is not allowed.  His teacher took the boy's toy and put it in her store.  The other kids in her class can buy it if they want to!  And they can also have money taken away from them.  It's a pretty fair system and encourages good choices.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

scripture power

The primary children (ages 3-11) had their program in sacrament meeting this past Sunday.  The primary theme for the year is "I know the scriptures are true."  Nathan, Jared, and another boy named Justin started off the program singing a song called "Scripture Power".  They did so well, and I'm proud of them for being brave enough to sing in front of everyone.  They also did really well on their speaking parts.  I had the opportunity to play the piano for the program since my new calling is the primary pianist (in addition to activity days leader).  It has to be one of the best callings out there!  I love hearing the kids sing, and I also get to hear the talks and prayers given by the kids and the sharing time lessons.  It's so fun to be around the children.

Yes, it is hard to stand still though.  :)  Jared provides good support for Nathan.

Monday, October 31, 2011

October fun

Nathan and Jared had a costume parade at school, including music from some of the high school band.  The spiderweb was our trunk-or-treat creation.  We thought Owen looked pretty cute in the wig - it wasn't really part of his costume.

The boys had a good time at their school carnival.  I made this spider cake for the cake walk, Nathan was one of the few to hit the floating baseball into one of the holes in the baseball game, and Jared surprised us by wanting to participate in the pie eating contest.  They were supposed to find a piece of bubblegum in the coolwhip without using their hands and then blow a bubble.  He didn't win, but we had fun watching him.

We took a little outing to the local pumpkin patch.  Nathan and Jared enjoyed the corn maze and they all had fun playing in the hay and picking out pumpkins.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


 What an exhausting, exhilarating, expensive, and emotion-filled experience!  A couple of weeks ago, we took the boys out of school for 2 days to go to Disneyland.  We have wanted to take them and knew it would be a necessary adventure since we live in CA, but we were hoping to avoid some of the crowds.  We hate crowds.  I'm not sure what it's like when school's out, but it was pretty crowded.  Talking to some of the people in line, some of the schools in Utah and Arizona (at least) were on fall break.  Maybe we caught a lot of fall breakers, or school skippers like us, or maybe Disneyland is just always pretty busy.  Understandable, because it's a kid's dream and there is so much to see and do.  You can't see everything in 2 days.  We probably experienced about 1/4 of each of the Disneyland Resort Park and Adventure Park next door.  We didn't go on any of the big roller coasters or Tower of Terror (Alex and I didn't want to stand in line for just one of us to do those when we were there for the boys to have fun).  It really is a magical place for kids and pretty fun for adults too, if you don't get too exhausted by dealing with kids (which we did).  It was challenging with 4, especially since Weston had to be in the stroller most of the time and Nathan was the only one tall enough to do all the rides.  Jared was still too short for some of them, which is sad because he's the brave one and wanted to go on them.  Nathan was more tentative, although he did go on the Indiana Jones ride with me.  His head was down most of that ride.  There was no way he was going on any of the big roller coasters.  Both of them did the raft ride at the Adventure Park and Splash Mountain and their very first roller coaster "Goofy's Flight School".  

We had to take turns taking Nathan and Jared on rides.  We took advantage of the fast passes, but it was still hard for Owen and Weston to wait for us to get done. Weston was quite a trooper, having to spend most of the time in the stroller.  When he did go on rides, it was hard to hold him for the 10-15 minutes or whatever the wait was, because you have to park the stroller and then stand in line.  Imagine trying to keep a toddler who has just been sitting in his stroller for 2-3 hours confined to the line.  He went on some rides like the caterpillar in "A Bug's Land," the Ferris wheel, Winnie the Pooh, and the carousel.  He seemed to like getting wet in the water play areas in "A Bug's Land" and wandering around "Innoventions" looking at the lighted blue floor.  It's tough to be too small at Disneyland.  Most of the rides were still too scary for Owen.  Even the mild story rides usually had a scary character in it, like Ursula in the Little Mermaid.  He got to the point where we would be walking, and he'd see something that looked scary.  He'd stop right there, frozen in place, and scream, "I don't want to go on that!"  Owen's favorite was probably Winnie the Pooh, but he also seemed to like the Dumbo ride, which I thought might be too scary for him.  He liked most of the things in  "A Bug's Land," although he wouldn't play in the water area.  Actually, I think Owen's most favorite thing of all was popcorn!  (We were just glad that he's still under 3, so we didn't have to buy a ticket for him.)

Speaking of "A Bug's Land," there is a show about bugs in that area that we tried to see.  Since that whole area is geared towards the younger kids, I thought it would be a fun show.  I tried to take Nathan, Jared, and Owen to see it.  When we got inside, they warned us it might be scary for the little ones.  I didn't know just how scary it would be.  It was a 3-D show, complete with effects such as air blowing on you.  You really feel like you're in the show.  The very 1st scene was a giant poisonous spider that shoots out venom at its prey, and "it never misses".  As soon as we got "sprayed with the venom," Owen AND Jared were both screaming in my lap.  I scooped them up and got out of there.  I have to admit, it was really scary.  I'm not sure if I would have enjoyed sitting through the show with spiders and bugs coming after me.  If you're ever at the Adventure Park with kids younger than about 8, DO NOT take them to see this show!

The 3-D show that we did enjoy was Star Tours, a motion simulator ride on a spaceship, where you feel like you're in a Star Wars scene - very cool.  The technology for these rides is amazing.  We also saw a theater performance of Aladdin - also really good.  Owen even enjoyed that one and wasn't too scared of Jafar.  I loved the World of Color show at night, with water, lights, and music.  Unfortunately, even though we got advance "tickets" for an area and sat there for about 45 minutes before the show started, we still couldn't see it very well.  I took a couple of videos of the ending (while holding Weston), mainly just so Alex and Jared could see it.  Jared seemed to have to go to the bathroom at the most inconvenient times - one of those times was the finale to the show. 

We stayed until about 10:00pm both nights, to try to get our money's worth.  That's a really long day for kiddos whose bedtime is normally 7:30.  We stayed one night at a cheap motel called Zaby's Motor Lodge, which turned out to be very convenient for us.  It was only about a 1/2 mile from the park, so we could walk to Disneyland AND it was only about $60.  They let us check in early on the 1st day and park our van there all day both days (even after check-out).  I thought it decently clean too - we'd stay there again, IF we go again.  I'm sure we'll go again eventually, but it was really exhausting - I compared the experience to childbirth.  You swear you'll never do it again, but then a little while later, you're right back there.  And look at us... 4 kids later.  I guess if we stopped having kids, our Disneyland experience wouldn't be so hard either, right?  Oh well.  Did I mention that it was 95 degrees on the first day?  Hot and crowded.  Just what you associate with amusement parks.  But now Alex and the boys can say they have been to Disneyland (it was my 2nd time, although the last time I was there was maybe 28 years ago.  When did we go Mom?) 

Anyway, enjoy the Splash Mountain pictures, especially the one of Nathan and me.  Love it.     

Can you read the captions under the character names?
Donald - "impatient, irascible and hard to understand"
Goofy - "sincere, good-natured and lovably bumbling
Pluto - "faithful hound and best friend"

Besides Nathan not being a "hound", those describe their personalities pretty well.


Monday, October 24, 2011


Nathan and Jared's school have a thing on Wednesdays called BOW WOW, bike or walk Wednesdays.  We walk most days, so it's not an unusual thing for us, but it seems like the kick off day for BOW WOW is always raining.  I think we walked in the rain last year too.  The kick off day is when they get prizes and things, so we HAD to walk.  We couldn't miss out on toys and stickers... 
Nathan and Jared both walked under an umbrella, and Owen held the umbrella over him and Weston.  Guess who got wet?  Me.  

Oh well.  It's a good tradition and good exercise.  Owen sure loved holding that umbrella! 

Monday, October 17, 2011

On Saturdays... can find us at the soccer fields, sometime between 8:00am and 3:00pm.  We decided to do the "expensive" soccer this year.  It's not cheap to do AYSO, but the season is long (from the end of August to the end of November), they get a real jersey, and standard pictures are included in the price.  

Jared is in U-6 and his team is the Green Dragons.  He seems to enjoy playing and does well when he's paying attention.  Sometimes he's in his own little world or more interested in goofing off with his teammates.  His coach handles them really well and asks each of them to tell something they learned after every practice and game.  

Nathan is in U-8 (which is just 7 year olds since they had so many teams - there is also U-7 this year) and his team is the Blue Jets.  Nathan has really improved this year and is always really focused and aggressive.  He likes to play defense and also likes to play goalie.  He hasn't had much practice as goalie, but he's good with his hands and can punt it well.  He needs more experience knowing when to come out and get the ball and when to stay back in the goal.  It's really fun to watch him play.  His coach is pretty competitive, but seems to also handle these boys well.  

They have one practice a week, and they couldn't be more convenient.  They practice at the same time at the same place, and we can walk there.  We're enjoying it!

Here are a few videos - not very good quality, but just a little peek at what it's like to watch them play.  Enjoy the pack ball soccer... go U6!  :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

storage quota

I got a message saying I had reached my photo upload quota (or something like that) with Picasa Web Albums.  (But then I was able to make the previous post with a photo, so I'm not sure what's going on).  When I tried to edit the pictures of the boys on the side, the quota message comes up.

Is there any way around that or do you just have to pay for extra storage?  I thought about just starting a new blog, but I don't think that will help.  I'm not sure how Picasa and blogger are connected, but it seems like it's not the blog's problem.  I don't want to start deleting photos either, because I think they'll be removed from my blog as well.  So someone tell me what I need to do... :)  

or there will be no more pictures.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

why not?

Why not read books in the entryway?  Guess I should leave our newly acquired library books in a better location.  They pulled them out right where they found them.  I love that they love to read.


No, but I get that question all the time with Owen and Weston in the stroller or in a shopping cart.  Can you tell who's who in the picture above?

Here is a little bit more perspective...

Did you get it right?

Owen fell asleep in the stroller, but the funny thing is when I told Weston to smile, Owen smiled in his sleep (look at the 2nd picture).  You have to wonder what's going on in those cute little heads (which do look very similar from the top...)

September birthdays

Birthdays just aren't that exciting anymore.  But they still happen once a year, so we have to at least try to make them better than the average day.  That mostly involves extra food - just what we need for our slowing metabolism...  :)  For Alex's birthday, I made Mexican stuffed green peppers for dinner (his favorite).  For dessert, Alex wanted my new recipe - chocolate chip Twix cheesecake bars (I added M&M's as well).  We went to the beach after dinner.  What could be better than playing around in the dirt?

On my birthday, my only request was to go to I-Hop for breakfast so I could get the stuffed french toast.  We headed out the door at 6:50am so we could still get the boys to school in time (what, you think I was going to sleep in on my b-day?  No, I actually still got up around 6:00 and went for a jog before breakfast).  Later, I watched Winnie the Pooh with Owen while Weston was napping.  I was going to watch Nanny Diaries at the same time, but the computer wouldn't work and I didn't have the heart to pull Owen's movie out of the DVD player.  (By the way, Nanny Diaries was a pretty good movie.  Alex even liked it, so you know it has to be pretty decent.)  I didn't actually watch much of Owen's movie.  Instead, I resorted to checking facebook birthday wishes, which was nice to know that others had paid attention to the reminder and made the effort to comment.  ;)  Really, it was nice to read all the comments.  For dinner, we had sweet & sour chicken and egg rolls.  And I made my own dessert this year (no box cake this time*).  I tried out a new recipe - raspberry cream cheese pie.  It was pretty tasty!

* So, there's a little story behind the box cake.  I really don't mind them, but it's not my favorite.  I actually like pie better or cake with fruit on it.   Anyway, a funny little miscommunication between Alex and me happened sometime early on in our marriage.  For the first 3 or 4 years on my birthday, Alex made me a strawberry cake out of the box (the cake is pink and strawberry flavored).  Not wanting to seem ungrateful for his efforts, I didn't say anything.  But after the first few years of him making the strawberry box cake, I finally asked him why he kept making that.  He thought it was my favorite.  I'm not sure where he got that idea, but I probably did say that I liked strawberry cake, meaning that I like cake WITH REAL STRAWBERRIES on top.  We had a good laugh when we discovered that little miscommunication.  I don't think I've had a strawberry box cake since then.  

Monday, October 3, 2011


We discovered this one day as we were getting ready for soccer... it scared me at first glance.  It was just sitting there on the soccer ball, but I wasn't expecting it to be there.  I was so glad it was a lizard and not a snake, although I still couldn't bring myself to pick it up.  All of us were hesitant to touch him, although Jared was the most brave.  The boys liked watching it and trying to play with him - I just tried to make sure they didn't hurt him.  For some reason, the boys like to poke things.

We have no shortage of critters around here - I don't mind the lizards.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

new used car

We couldn't pass up this deal!  Less than $2, straight out-of-pocket.  No monthly payments.  Fuel efficient. Sure, it has pretty high mileage, a little wear & tear, not your bright shiny new car.  But the price was right, and I think we can get some more mileage out of this little car.  The only drawback is the lack of passenger seating...  Now they just need a license to drive.  Watch out!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

activity day fun

I'm still in charge of activity days two Wednesday afternoons a month.  Here are a few of our recent activities.

Right before school started, we did a back-to-school pizza & priorities party.  We made homemade pizza, which got dubbed as "Miss Annie's pizza" when we were in Oklahoma.  I don't remember where the recipe came from originally, but we really like it.  (I have modified it slightly.)  We also talked about priorities and tried to make daily schedules.  That didn't work as well as I thought, since the girls didn't even have a set time to get up or bedtime - at least they didn't know what time that was.  Also, the girls weren't in any after-school activities, so they didn't have much to schedule.  But that led nicely into making choices about what to do with their free time.  I made a little bookmark for them with a picture of a sliced pizza.  It said, "Think of your day like a pizza.  A pizza wouldn't be right without bread and sauce and cheese, just as there are some things that are essential for your day.  You have to eat, sleep, work, and go to school.  You divide your pizza into slices just as your time gets divided.  The toppings on a pizza, like pepperoni or olives, are extras.  They make the pizza taste yummy.  Just as you choose your toppings, you have time in your day to choose extra things to do.  Choose wisely to make the best day!  And don't forget to make prayer and scriptures a part of your day.  They're so important that if left out, it's like forgetting to put the pizza in the oven!"

Homemade Pizza

Dough: 3 ¾ tsp yeast * (about 1 ½ pkgs. yeast, if using the pkgs), 1 ½ cup water, 3 TBSP oil, 1 ½ tsp.
sugar, 1 ½ tsp. salt, 3 ¾ cups flour

Sauce: 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. garlic powder, 1/8 tsp. pepper, 1/4 cup finely chopped onions, 1 cup tomato
sauce (8 oz) – this makes a thin layer of sauce, so you may want to prepare extra if you like more sauce.
Divide sauce in half.

Topping: 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 3 cups mozzarella cheese, 2 tsp. oregano (divide topping in half),
other desired toppings (like pepperoni, olives, etc.)

Heat oven to 425. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in remaining dough ingredients. Beat vigorously
until blended. Allow dough to rest about 5 minutes.  Lightly grease 2 pizza pans (can also be sprinkled with corn meal).

Divide dough in half. On a pastry mat or clean surface, knead dough just until smooth. Add flour as
needed if it’s sticky. Make sure you have plenty of flour on the surface underneath the dough. Roll out
thin and gently transfer (pull up with fingers) flattened dough to 2 baking sheets. Continue to pat and
spread dough to the edges of the pan (10-12 inch pan) with floured fingers. Pre-bake crust about 10
minutes.  While the crust is baking, mix sauce ingredients.

Spread sauce on and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and oregano. Add desired toppings and mozzarella. Bake 15 minutes.

* I use Fleischmann's Instant Dry Yeast from Sam's Club- you can buy 2 lbs of it for about $4.50.  They seem to last well in the fridge after the package has been opened.  I haven't checked out Costco's yet since I still have a bunch from Sam's, but I imagine it might be a good deal as well.

Another activity we did was hair accessories.  There are tons of websites out there for making these.  I chose one that looked really simple from this site.  They didn't turn out as cute as I would have liked.  I forgot that 10-11 year old girls like lots of sparkly things.  They didn't want to put just one gem in the center of the flower - they wanted them all over.  The loopy flower turned out to be too hard for them (I thought they were really easy).  I couldn't find the site I used, but here's a similar tutorial here.  And again, it wasn't my idea to put a little rose in the center of those, but the girls made them how they wanted to.  In conjunction with the hair clips, we had flower birthday cupcakes for one of the girls.  If they didn't enjoy making the hair clips, I KNOW they loved the cupcakes!

Our most recent activity was making family trees.  The girls sponge painted the leaves and sky.  Then we glued on the tree and pasted the apples on the branches.  The names (up to their great grandparents) were written on the apples.  I might have to send the one I did to Mom and Dad.  The five apples on the bottom are my siblings and me.   We also briefly shared something about one of our ancestors.  The girls liked the picture of my great grandmother's wedding dress.  Lulu's dress is over 100 years old.  This was also my grammy Evelyn's wedding dress.  (My sister Ashley is holding the dress.)


lost carrots

Owen helped himself to carrots and dressing one day.  He came running in to me, exclaiming in a bit of a panic, "Mama, I can't find my carrots!"  I had no idea what he was talking about... until he directed me to the bowl full of salad dressing.  After we funneled it back in the container, we found the missing carrots!

Now, we give the LIGHT ranch dressing to our guests... ha ha!  ;)

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Cinderella story

Some friends of ours hosted a summer dessert competition, which was held one evening a month.  It was really fun (although totally NOT for anyone on a diet) - a picnic in the park followed by dessert competition.  This is a dessert lover's dream - tasting several different kinds of desserts.  The first 3 competitions had a particular theme - cookies/bars/brownies, cakes/tortes, and pies/cheesecakes.  The desserts were assigned a number and then we all voted on our favorite.  The top 3 desserts in each round were qualified for the final competition.  I entered in all of the competitions and didn't make it in the top three UNTIL the 3rd round, when I was one of the ONLY two desserts that were made.  That doesn't count, right?  I wasn't voted in, but they were insistent that I was indeed in the final round.  Oh great.  I'm not a great baker.  I don't even like to cook.  And I surely didn't have a WOW recipe sitting in my recipe box.  Nathan even commented, "Now you're going to have to think of something good, Mama."  Thanks Nathan.  (I really was thinking in my mind that I could come in as the "Cinderella" of the competition and win it.)    

I thought I'd get out of it, since I didn't think we'd make it back in time.  But since it looked like we might make it, I decided to go ahead and make something ahead of time.  I didn't have a special family recipe sitting around that I hadn't used already (mom's cherry pie), so I went on-line in search of an "award-winning" recipe.  What I ended up choosing was not because it sounded gourmet, but because it sounded really easy to make.  The recipe called for a package of refrigerated cookie dough and a cheesecake filling.  You layer half of the cookie dough on the bottom, topped by cheesecake layer, topped with the other half of the dough.  I did tweak the recipe.  I used my mom's chocolate chip cookie recipe and decided to also put crumbled Twix bars on the top.  This is really unhealthy.  If you're trying to lose weight, DO NOT make this.  One square is like eating 2-4 chocolate chip cookies, a slice of cheesecake, and a Twix bar at the same time.

Anyway, I made it at 6:30am the day of, and didn't think it turned out.  Having never made it before, I wasn't sure what the crust was supposed to look like - it seemed too soft.  I stuck it in the fridge anyway.  We got back into town at 6:15pm.  The dessert competition started at 6:00.  I almost said "forget it" but then I thought about that whole pan of dessert sitting in the fridge AND the fact that I got up early to make it.  We went home and tasted it - if it was yucky, I wasn't going to go.  But surprisingly, it was really yummy.  We still had to eat dinner, so we picked up pizza on the way.  By the time we got to the park, it was 6:50.  I had no intention of being in the competition - I only wanted to share my dessert so we wouldn't be forced to eat all of it ourselves.  But upon arrival, they immediately said, "We have a late arrival!  Don't tally up the votes yet!"  It really was kind-of embarrassing.  But with technically 10 minutes of voting left, my dessert got a number.  

And then... I won.  

(Okay, so there were only 6 desserts to choose from I think, but I guess I still had the most votes.)  
I got to stand in front of everyone with a silly (yet very fun and creative) hat while everyone applauded and I opened my prize.  And people asked about my recipe.  Well... I found it on-line.  Just a lucky pick and lucky that it turned out.  And smart enough to add Twix bars on top!  :)  Who doesn't love those?  

When I got home, I was reminded of how not-so-great I am at baking when I picked up the rock solid strawberry shortcake crust from the previous night's baking...  oh well.  

My prince charming requested the chocolate chip Twix cheesecake bars for his birthday instead of his all-time favorite M&M cookies - sweet victory.               

I'll share the recipe when I get around to FINDING it and adding my revisions.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Auntie Ali & Micah and cousin Dal

At the end of August, my sister and her family came for a quick visit.  The main reason for their trip was a friend's wedding at the LA Temple.  We went with them and watched Dallin while they were in the temple, and they also watched our boys for us so we could do some temple work.  Pretty nice exchange.  We had to take a picture of them in this amazing tree, since Micah proposed to Alison in a tree.  And look at them now... all that makes 3 AND they have one on the way!    

It also happened to be Alison's birthday again (she was here on her birthday last year too).  I attempted to make strawberry shortcake - the second crust turned out okay.  It was surprisingly similar to her cake with strawberries on it last year.  I must be making what I love - I hope she likes it as much as I do.

Anyway, it was fun to see them and hear their exciting news!  They make really cute babies.

Best Buddies

It seems a little strange to be posting knowing my #1 fan won't be reading and commenting on my blog right now... my Mom is in China with my Dad who is recovering from an appendectomy.  Anyway, I guess she'll have some fun things to catch up on when they get back.  Here's 2 of her favorite grandsons.

While Nathan and Jared are at school, Owen is the "man of the house."  He loves being the boss, having free reign over the Legos, and bossing Weston around.  Well, he doesn't really have to boss him around.  Weston just follows Owen wherever he goes.  It was so cute to peek in on them in Owen's fort.  I caught a pretty ornery grin from Owen too.  It's fun to see them play with each other - they're becoming good buddies!