My 3 Monsters: 2009

Recent Posts


My Favorite Project. EVER!

Every so often I get the urge to redecorate my home.  Often these urges concur with the removal of seasonal decorations.  There is almost nothing like the potential of a fresh, empty canvas of a living room.  So today I set out to create a piece of art for over my fireplace.  Armed with some inspiration, a basic knowledge of internet investigation and a lotta' luck, I happened upon the Flickr photostream of Leo Reynolds.  He has posted thousands of photos of typography and signage (and other interesting things) and he is kind enough to let us, the general public, use them with a very few restrictions.  I spent hours going through everything finding just the right letters and numbers in just the right colors, downloading them in just the size I wanted (1024 x 1024 pixels), and stitching them together in Gimp.  Here's the great part -- you can order a 20 x 30 inch poster print online for between $10 and $20.  Mine was $9 plus tax at Costco, ready in 3 hours.  I can't wait to get a frame and put it up.  Thank you, Mr. Reynolds.  Thank you very much.

(Technically, this is a collage, but it does not negate the promise I made yesterday.  Because I said so.)

EDITED TO ADD:  I ended up Mod-Podging this poster to a 24x36 and framing it in a substantial black frame.  {You can see it HERE.} I LOVE IT!!.  Everyone who comes in my house comments on it.  It's definitely a conversation piece. I'm sharing this at the Weekend Wrap Up --  Enjoy, my crafty friends!
Join  us Saturdays at for the weekend wrap up party!


Doin' Something Right

You know your cooking skills have taken a sudden turn for the better when, twice in one week, your youngest, most finicky eater turns to you at dinner and says, "Mmmmm.  Mom, you've got to give me this recipe."

His response to my startled, albeit amused expression says it all.  "What?!  I want to make it for my boo when I'm a dad."

Parents of blond-haired, docile, slightly unsophisticated daughters, the line for a piece of this kid starts right here.


Christmas Was All a Blur!

OK, OK.  This will be the last collage for a while, I promise.  We've just taken so many pictures this week, I didn't know how else to show them.  On Christmas Eve we made sure to hang our "magic" Santa key on the door knob.  That's how he gets into our home, you see.  While we are lucky enough to have a chimney here in Arizona where chimneys are really unnecessary, ours is blocked by a big red couch so that we can put up our Christmas tree.  This has always worried our children.  How will Santa get in?!  The key seems to be doing the trick.  We also baked our Linzer Schnitten, wrote letters to Santa, and carefully laid out our stockings.  Try as I might, I just never get good Christmas morning pictures.  The kids are always in constant motion, as the blurry photos attest.  They're good, good memories anyway.  I can't tell you how many times over the past two days I have heard my kids say, "This is The.  Best.  Christmas.  EVER!!!!!"  I don't know what made the difference this year.  Don't tell the kids, but they actually got fewer gifts than in years past.  Cheesy as it may sound, I think the greatest gift we gave our kids this year was the gift of time and undivided attention.  And that made all the difference.  We hope you all enjoyed a blissful holiday, too.


On the Road Again

The sun has set on Day 3 and we had a blast at the Arizona Science Center. But first we had a quick "brunch" at Cinnabon because D had to use the free coupon that came in the Mall Cop dvd he opened Sunday.  (You didn't hear this from me, but the Caramel Pecanbon is pretty tasty.)  We rode the Light Rail again, which the kids are old pros at by now.  At the Science Center Sis and Ri rode the Sky Bike which is a bicycle that balances on a tightrope stretched across an open space between second floor balconies.  *Scary!*  D was too short so he got to climb the rock wall instead.  They all laid on a bed of nails and "battled" each other to see who could move a ball with their mind the best.  And I, for three days running, avoided being in front of the camera.  Sweet!  Aside from a panicked moment when D got stuck in the elevator all by himself, we have had a few of the best days I can ever remember spending as a family.  Unity and kindness and blessed peace. 

With this adventured-filled week behind us, tomorrow we bake.  And stare longingly at the beautiful packages that have found their way under our tree.  Preferably in our pajamas for as long as possible.  And not before 8:30 in the morning.  Please children.  Please.


Pinch me! I Must Be Dreaming.

Two days of family fun with no I Hate You's or Shut Up's?!  This must be one of the finest ideas I have ever conceived.  The Natural History Museum was lovely today.  Not too crowded, fun as ever.  It was rainy and cold so a late lunch at Thai Rama on the way home was just the thing we needed.  Sweet Sticky Rice and Coconut Ice Cream never gets old.  Only two more days . . .

Observe & Report

Day 1 of Operation:Occupy Children 'til Christmas was a huge success!  So fun, in fact, that we're going out again today.  To the Dinosaur Museum it is (unless we can swing by the library and get a Science Center pass -- fingers crossed!).  And, yeah, I just noticed that I spelled museUm wrong in that photo collage.  Blast!


Pass the Culture, Please.

Brent has taken this entire week off from work.  *It makes me giddy just typing those words.*  We spent all last week deep cleaning the house, finishing our shopping, and doing every possible "job" we could think of so that we could take the next five days and completely devote them to making family memories.  On the list of possibilities:  dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant, ice skating (thanks to Grandma & Grandpa Great's Christmas money!) and attending fun museums.  Our local library has these wonderful things called "Culture Passes" available for check out which allow four people to attend various museums around the valley for free. It's pretty competitive to get the good ones -- namely the zoo, the science center, and the dinosaur museum.  I was able to get one for the Children's Museum today. My kids are off-the-wall excited about riding the Light Rail  train downtown to the museum.  I'm sticking a batch of my Sweet & Spicy Chili in the crock pot before we head out so we can come home to a delicious, warm dinner.  Here's hoping it's as idyllic as I'm imagining it to be . . .

(And that we can get a pass to one of the really good museums Tuesday or Wednesday.  Wish us luck!)


Late for Church -- the HORROR!

Now, understand as I say this that we usually leave our house by 11:10 for the 11:30 meeting.  And it takes us all of five minutes to drive there.  (Shut up.  Promptness is just our "thing".)  So, you'll understandably take it with a grain of salt when I tell you that we didn't leave our house this lovely morning until 11:22 which put an inordinate amount of stress on my co-parental unit.  But I couldn't help it!  B left for his ward council meeting this morning and the kids and I settled in on the couch laughing and talking, fashioning a fancy up-do in Sis's hair and reading Christmas books from our annually-enlarging collection.  I had one eye on the clock.  9:45.  10:15.  Then 10:30.  Only Sis, who was excited about putting on her new Christmas frock, had bathed and readied for the day.  I knew we were going to be in trouble, but I couldn't bring myself to break up the "moment".  We made it to the meeting on time (by everyone's standards but ours) and even got to sit in the pews in the chapel, not the overflow.  Who cares that I was wearing a day-old hairdo, Riley had a bit of bed head, and D ended up with brown shoes, navy socks, black (too-short) pants, a burgundy and navy striped  polo and no belt?  What will matter in the long run is the "moment" we shared together.  (Please remind me that's true because I'm horrified anew at the thought of what we must have looked like today.)


Hershey's, You've Done it Again!

Oh, what rapture fills my bosom when I break into a bag of these babies this time of year.  Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses:

White Chocolate. Mint. Crunchy Sprinkles. Delish!

The only thing better than eating them straight, which is pretty delightful, is to melt a bag of them and pour them over a bag of microwave popcorn.  Pop Secret Homestyle, if you're wondering.  Stir that concoction up gently and spread out on wax paper until the candy hardens up again.  It elevates two simple, yet beloved, snacks to the level of the divine. We make batches upon batches of this stuff to share with teachers and friends for the holidays.  And, for the record, I never met anybody who didn't give it rave reviews.  Enjoy!


Is That Really Snow I See?!

OK, not in real life anyway.  I don't really miss the snow all winter long.  Not really.  Except for in these last few days before Christmas.  Don't get me wrong, I'm more than grateful to not have to worry about slippery streets when I'm running errands like a mad woman throughout December.  And I'm just thrilled to death that a hoodie is all my littlies need when they scamper to the bus stop in the morning.  That I don't have to keep track of boots and gloves and scarves and hats is a real blessing.  But I have to say, I like the idea of a snowy day every once in a while.  So I added some snow to my blog.  Fun, huh?  Can you even really see it?  (Curse this light background I made!)  You can "Let it Snow" too by visiting this site.  Merry Christmas!


I've Sprung a Leak . . . IN MY EYE!

Do you ever have those moments of complete and utter humiliation?  Those moments when you know what you're doing is wrong on so many levels but you are powerless to stop it?  Those moments when your child's endocrinologist asks you if you have any questions and you melt into a pool of tears right there in the exam room?  For no apparent reason?  No?  Just me?  Alright then. 

I was a mess yesterday.  And here's the thing of it -- I don't know why.  I can't explain the involuntary waterworks at the doctor's office.  Or why I seem to have sprung a leak in my tear ducts right now as I type this post.  Sure, Riley's a1C (a quarterly blood test  that shows an average of how well his blood sugar is being controlled) was up to 10.1, the highest it's ever been.  Which is bad.  Really bad. But the doctor was kind.  I think in that moment, when the doctor asked me if I had any questions, it hit me for the first time that this isn't going to go away and I'm a mom, not a diabetes care nurse for heaven's sake.  I didn't ask for this and I don't want to be responsible for my child's future health in this way and yes, for the love of all that is good and holy, I have questions.  I just don't know the right ones to ask . . . or if I can even verbalize all the question marks that constantly float in my head.  And yeah, it has, in fact, taken three and a half years for that all to sink in. 

Our doctor is so fantastic.  He just calmly told me that he has every expectation that Ri will grow up as healthily and normally as my other children.  He also counseled me that worry is a useless emotion.  It doesn't solve any problems or make anything better for any of us, and that instead of worrying I should try to be pro-active.  Worry is passive, but action is power.  It's good advice for so many areas of my life right now.  And it makes me think that maybe I'm not the first mom who has lost it in his office like that.


Holy Christmas Spirit, Batman!

I've been feeling uncharacteristically "jolly" all weekend.  Not that I'm ordinarily a Grinch this time of year, I just don't ooze holiday merriment like some folks.  (I'm picturing that scene from The Santa Clause 2 where what's-her-name from SNL sings a stirring rendition of "Man, It Feels Like Christmas" on her blind date with that one guy.  If you've seen it you know what I'm talking about.)  Maybe it has something to do with the cool temperatures and the rain lately.  That's a real treat around these parts.  Perhaps it was due to spending the better part of my Saturday getting lights up on our house for the first time in three years.  OK, let's be honest . . . We spent the longer part of my Saturday doing that.  The better part of my Saturday was when we wandered around the Mesa Mormon Temple grounds sipping cups of Coconut Tres Leches Hot Chocolate (Thanks, Kristen!) while oohing and aahing over the lights and the choral music.  Truly lovely.

It may be due to the fact that, after 13 years, my dear husband and I have finally hammered out the "Official B & Amy G Christmas Tradition Treaty of 2009".  See, we both come from fantastic families with rich histories of seasonal celebrations.  Neither of us really wanted to relinquish the opportunity to share our fond childhood memories with our progeny.  Not that we fought about it.  Ever.  We have just kind of walked on eggshells this time of year, neither of us wanting to offend by taking control,  really doing nothing consistently enough for our children to get those butterflies of anticipation in their stomach about doing this or that just like the year before.  Henceforth there will be complete unity in the revelry at our home.  I gave up my crackers and cheese dinner on Christmas Eve to make room for a Gregson family roast, potatoes and yorkshire pudding feast, but I refuse to serve juice mixed with Sprite.  We'll have Shirley Temples instead.  I'm keeping my home-made cinnamon rolls for breakfast and moving the crackers and cheese/ finger foods to Christmas day.  I will have juice on hand, and I promise to turn a blind eye to whatever happens with the left-over ginger ale from the Shirley Temples.  We will make Linzer Schnitten and Swedish Creme Wafers (oh, how I love those cookies even though I don't make them quite right . . . yet.) but I refuse to even try to dip chocolates like Brent's mom.  I'll make my cinnamon rolls in the shape of a wreath, but I refuse to make them for everyone we know just like my mom did.  Brent will make his ice cream cake for Christmas Eve, but I HAVE to have my Christmas pie the next day.  That was a deal breaker for me. We even made up a few of our own on the fly, like filling our advent calendar with fun family activities and a few surprises ($5 bills and the opportunity to open a gift early) instead of candy.  That one is going over quite well so far.

It could be any of those things.  Probably it's the fact that in four short days the kids will be out of school, B done with work for a week and I can enter full-on "vacay at home" mode.  *sigh*


Get it?????  Brown paper packages tied up with string . . . a few of my favorite things????  I know, I'm teetering on the brink of the deep end over here.  I just thought I'd try to get a better picture of my gift wrap this year for posterity's sake.  Not that I succeeded.  I thought I'd also share a little freebie I've come across.  I'm giving tons of gift cards this year because, really, if we're being honest, precious few people (myself included) are really good gift-givers who intuitively know exactly how to thrill every person on their Christmas list. And because, if we're still being honest, a gift card is cheap to ship.   But it has saddened me to not have a fantastic way to wrap those tiny little babies . . . UNTIL NOW!  See that cute little box on the left up there?  I used this pattern and made a bunch of those fun boxes all by my big-girl self.  It's kind of like a big matchbox -- the little center compartment slides out of the sleeve to reveal the big (little) gift.  They were the perfect size for my vintage labels.  Notice how I put the stickers on top of the string to deter my little peekers (ahem, Brent) and the stickers under the string for the folks I thought I could trust.  Oh, the holidays are good times!


We Aim to Please

Cynthia, you asked for photos of a few of my home-made ornaments, so it's photos you'll get.  'Tis the season, right?  I'm assuming you also wanted some how-to's, though they're all pretty easy.

For the Baby Sock Snowman you'll need baby socks (preferably clean ones, but you decide), rubber bands (I use the little tiny clear elastics for little girls hair), rice, ribbon (to create a hanger) and scraps of fabric (for the scarf and patches).  Carefully fill the bottom portion of the sock with rice and wrap an elastic around several times to secure.  Add a little more rice to sock to create a little bit smaller section and secure with an elastic.  Add even more rice to create an even smaller section and secure that with an elastic, too.  Fold the top of the sock down to form the hat. At this point I like to use a few dabs of hot glue between each section and around the hat to keep everything in place.  Cut a piece of ribbon 3 or 4 inches long, put ends together to form a loop and secure both ends down inside the top of the hat with some hot glue.  Doctor him up however you like with your fabric scraps. I also use a Sharpie to make the eyes, nose and buttons and finish them off with rosy cheeks made using a Q-tip dipped in the powdered blush from my make-up bag.

For the Cinnamon Gingerbread Men you'll need 1 cup of applesauce and 1 cup of ground cinnamon.  That's it.  Just mix those two ingredients and they will form a nice dough that you can roll out and cut with a cookie cutter.  Place your cut images on cookie sheets to dry. (Don't forget to poke holes at the top of each one for the hanger -- I've done that before and it stinks.  Big time!)  At this point you can either set them aside for several days  to air dry or you can bake them at 200* for an hour or so.  It just depends on how soon you need them.  I've had the best results from air-drying, but I do live in the desert.  (Psst . . . it's really dry here.) These ornaments will smell fantastic for years.  I hang them with grosgrain ribbon and store them in a zip-loc freezer bag.

For the felt Snowflakes you will need white felt, scissors, and a whole lotta' patience.  I cut several different designs out of paper first and traced them onto the felt because I'm just too OCD to be OK with not knowing how they were going to look finished.  I hang them from my tree with clothespins because that's the style I do.  You could use fishing line or white ribbon if you wanted.

That last picture is just a peek at how I wrapped my presents this year.  Brown kraft paper, jute twine, and vintage Christmas-themed advertising labels.  Very retro and simple.  Just my speed.  (Yes, every year I wrap my presents with a theme.  I did mention my OCD in the previous paragraph, didn't I?)

Merry Christmas one and all! 



Thanks all for commenting on my last post.  I tweaked a few things and it seems as though I have solved many of the issues folks were experiencing.  This week has gotten a little bit crazy around here, as weeks in December tend to do.  Friday night was our big Christmas party at church, for which Brent was primarily responsible.  He and his committee did a fantastic job with their Polar Express theme.  The food was to-die-for delicious (smoked pork loin that was so juicy and tender it was like meat-candy -- crazy good),  the turn-out was overwhelming (to say the least), and good times were had by all.  While technically not an activities committee member, I jumped in to add a little feminine touch -- finessing the set-up and decor just a smidge.  It was a fantastic evening.  But I was busy.  And tired.  So I didn't blog.

Yesterday we spent the whole day setting up our Christmas tree and decorating at home.  It's always a fun little stroll down memory lane as we open each set of ornaments . . . the star that I bought for our first married Christmas, the angels I made out of scraps of muslin when we were in college and too poor to buy decorations,  the snowmen made out of my kids old baby socks which signified we were done doing "the baby thing" around here, the 100 felt snowflakes (20 different designs) I cut by hand that one year I was just crazy enough to think it might be fun, the cinnamon gingerbread men I made over in our little rental house on Folley Street that STILL smell delicious . . .  And don't even get me (or my kids) started on their personal ornaments.  We could reminisce all day about those.  In fact we did.  And it was lovely. So I didn't blog.

Tonight I'm wrapping gifts (if I can find any cotton-pickin' scotch tape in this stinkin' house) and after that I plan to relax.  And enjoy the season.  And blog.


Humor Me

I know, I know.  This may sound crazy, or crazy desperate, but I've heard from several people that they are not able to make comments on my blog.  That makes Miss Amy very sad to hear since, among it's many purposes, this blog here is supposed to help me stay in touch with my friends.  I'm wondering if in my tinkering I have done something, or if it's a Blogger issue, or if it's a friends issue.  No offense, friends.  Sooooooo, humor me here.  Today, if you can, please leave a comment.  If I know you, if I don't.  If you intended to come or happened here on accident.  If all you want to say is that I stink . . . whatever.  Just say something - anything.  If you can. If you don't comment I'll assume that you can't (or that you no longer want to be my friend -sniff, sniff - or maybe both) . . . and I have ways of knowing (generally) who has come by.  Not a thinly veiled threat, just a statement of fact. Love ya!

(Understanding, of course, that to make a comment you click on the little words below here -- yeah, right there under my name -- where it says 0 (or however many) friends said:  .  Got it?  Again, no offense.  Just to be clear . . . OK.  Thanks.)

. . . sigh . . .

This is what it's all about, right? Nothing tugs at my heart strings quite like walking out of my bedroom and happening upon this lovely scene.  Everyone I love very most in the whole world snuggled in close proximity, united in a common interest, laughing and enjoying one another's company.  It's like Norman Rockwell for a new millennium -- the family gathered around the iPod Touch.  This is one of those moments you live for as a mother. (Which is why I tip-toed back in the room and grabbed my camera instead of risking upsetting the delicate balance of tempers in the corner of that couch by joining in.)



Beloved toy,
Patient friend.
Remembered fondly by D always.

"There's not room in this house for the both of us." -- Cassie



I am so excited about this Gimpshop thing, I can't even find the words to say!!  I messed around yesterday for a bit and designed this blog background and header for the blog I do for the Young Women's organization at our church.  All by my own self!!  I'm still pretty amateur-hour, but it is fantastic good fun.  Check out Shabby Princess (dot) com to download a bunch of beyond-cute digi-scrap kits . . . FOR FREE!  Love it!

P.S.  To my sisters:  Remember when we did Black Friday in Vegas two years ago and stayed up all night eating Wheat Thins in Leslie's freezing cold apartment?  That was awesome.  I think about it every time I get up in the middle of the night to do Black Friday now.  I went to Kohl's this morning then met up with my friend, Tammy, who had sat in front of Target all night long to reserve her spot at the head of the line. We were in and out of each store in 15 minutes flat, got everything on my list (and most of Tammy's) and came home to bed. We were like shopping ninjas -- in and out before anyone knew we were there. Sweet!


Today I'm Giving Thanks. And Baking Pies.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. Enjoy your special day and know that I'm grateful for all of you.


So Generous

Ahhhh. it's the spirit of the season or something.  I'm going to share a couple more freebies with you.  I know, I know.  I am too kind.  I'm a giver.

Free Computer Program Here.

   I have always wanted to learn to use Photoshop.  I took one brief class at BYU early on in my design education, but I only did what I absolutely had to so that I could pass the class.  (OK, to get an A.  Whatever.)  I was going to be an interior designer, right?  I didn't foresee this phase of my life, with it's digital scrapbooking and blogging.  OK, to be fair to my naive little self those things hadn't been invented yet. (Also, it might have been Illustrator that we learned . . . how old is Photoshop, anyway?)   I digress. I've always wanted to learn Photoshop, but I'm too cheap to actually buy Photoshop.  So I've suffered with a lame-o blog header all this time.  (Woe is me.) Until recently when I found Gimpshop.  It's remarkably similar to Photoshop, or so I've read. And the price is right! I played around for a while using a tutorial written for Photoshop users and I figured it out.  How do you like my new header?  Did that on Gimpshop.  I don't know.  Maybe I'm the only person in the world who doesn't already have Photoshop.  Maybe not.  I thought I'd share.  Because, remember, I'm a giver like that . . .

Free Advice here.

  (OK, don't click on that.  It's not a link.  The free advice is right HERE.)  Go see The Blind Side, the new Sandra Bullock movie.  It should be required watching for any person who complains.  Ever.  We saw it last night with our "compound" of friends and, as trite as this may sound, I am a changed person today.  It will forever alter your internal gratitude meter. And your idea of what it means to be a Christian.  I laughed, I cried (like a big ole' dork) and I'm recommending it to EVERYONE I know.  Everyone.  Go tonight -- you don't work tomorrow, right?  I'll watch your kids. 

Now go.  Get on with the pie baking and such.  No more dallying around on this old blog.  (But thanks for stopping in!)


So Grateful

Last night for Family Night Sis, inspired by her fabulous primary teacher, Sister Schick (thanks, Tammy!), had us all make wreaths displaying what we're thankful for this year.  It's always fun to get a little peek into the minds and hearts of your children.  Among the things listed were:  Cassie, zoos, iPods, books, clothes, the Phoenix Suns, video games, our home, awesome Grandparents and "creatures".  Not sure about that last one.  I was happy to see on every single wreath leaves for family, friends and our faith in our Savior Jesus Christ.  Because those are things we have been blessed with in abundance.

Because Papa and Grandma can't come for Thanksgiving like they had planned, the kids wanted to make a wreath for them, too.  They are thankful for Papa and Grandma because . . .
  • Papa makes good root beer.
  • You raised dad to be a good dad.
  • You are awesome grandparents.
  • You always make us laugh.
  • We like that you are kind to us.
  • You support us.
  • You let us come to your house.
  • You're from Canada.
  • You're good examples.
Love to all our family and friends!  We are thinking of you -- this week and all others.


Sometimes . . .

You learn things you wish you could un-know.  Things happen to your friends or family that are so unspeakable you're at a loss for what to do or how to help.  You wish you could wave a magic wand and make everything right in the world again.  But you can't.  So you take to your bed with its big, warm down comforter and close your eyes for a while because from that vantage point you can almost kind-of pretend that things aren't so rough on the outside.  That the truth is what you thought you knew before today.  That the people you love are happy and care-free.  And that we're all safe from the corruption and evil in the world.  Even though we're not.  And at some point you know you'll have no choice but to put your big-girl pants back on and face facts and realize that even though you have so seemingly little to offer by way of help, you must try to offer something.  And be grateful for what you have because you just can't take anything for granted.

Yeah.  That's today. 


Living Life Without a Safety Net

In a recent bout of fiscal responsibility, Brent and I created a plan to eliminate our debt.  We closed all but one of our credit accounts and cut up the cards, because sad experience has taught us that self-control in this arena is not something we possess.  And we're serious this time.  Four years from now we're going to be lovin' life.  Right now?  Eh . . . .

See, when you are used to having that credit "safety net" you don't have to worry about things like, oh . . . the cable company automatically deducting over $500 from your checking account for the DVR that you DID IN FACT return to them.  When things like that happen you just shrug and whip out your plastic to tide you over until things get straightened out, with the intention of paying that money back as soon as possible.  But you never do.  Well, we never did.

BUT, when you give up that safety net and require more of yourself, you have to learn a whole new way of coping.   And we're doing it.  But it's not super fun.  That stupid DVR wasn't really worth $500, but that's beside the point.  We'll make it through until it gets worked out without using the credit card this time.  And I'll learn . . . eventually . . . to look at my bank account more than once a month and stay on top of things like this.  We're just so very grateful for friends and family who support us emotionally in achieving our financial goals.


Sooooooo Sleeeeeeepy . . . .

Last night I attended my first midnight movie premier with my friends and a few of their daughters. (I guess I'm really not as fun a mom as I thought, as I didn't even consider taking Sis with me on an all-nighter on a school night.)  Of course we saw New Moon, the second installment in the Twilight series.  It was delightful -- the waiting in line, the anticipation, the girlie conversations, the whoops of teenage bliss when a certain someone in the movie removed his shirt (and every time thereafter when he appeared bare chested -- which was often).  As is usually the case, the movie didn't really do the book justice, but it was fine.  Fun, even.  I'm glad I went.  I'm even more glad that fifteen minutes from now I'll have the house to myself so I can go back to bed.   


Mini- Cuppies: How - To

My sister-in-law Kristen asked for recipes for all those cuppies I made yesterday.  Since I stayed up late with sugar-induced insomnia and I'm tired and trying to avoid walking the dog (I'll get around to it . . .), I thought I would grant her request.  It's a little embarrassing,  however, to admit that there are not really any recipes, per se.  I had to laugh out loud last night when a newer lady I don't know very well asked me if I was a caterer.  HA!  Betty Crocker is a busy baker's best friend.  We go waaaaay back, she and I.  So, while these are nothing fancy,  I will share how I customized each one to my liking.

Red Velvet Cuppies with Whipped Cream Frosting and Raspberries.

  The secret here is in my "home-made" whipped cream frosting.  It's so light and kind of marshmallowy.  I just whipped together a can of whipped white frosting (the kind that says "whipped" or "fluffy" on the can) with half a container of Cool Whip.  Pipe it on top of the cake with a large star tip and plunk a raspberry right down on top.  Yummy.  People will think you spent hours on them!

Butterfly Cuppies.

  Use any flavor of cake your litlle heart desires.  You're going to need Wilton candy melts for these in two colors.  I used the dark cocoa and then orange and blue for the insides.  I found a cute little butterfly image online printed it out for my pattern.  Cover your pattern sheet with wax paper.  Melt about half a bag of cocoa candy melts and half a bag of the colored ones in separate bowls.  The trick is to get the right consistency -- not too runny, not too stiff. It takes some experimenting.  I went through about a dozen wonky looking wings (which my kids cheerfully disposed of) before I got the hang of it. Carefully spoon melted chocolate into zip-loc freezer bags and cut a small opening in one corner.  Pipe the dark chocolate around the edges of your design first.  Keep the two wings separate -- don't pipe around the whole pattern continuously.  You want to have two individual wings for each cupcake.  Fill in your outline with the colored candy.  Only do 6 or 8 at a time so you can go back with a toothpick and swirl the colors together before the chocolate hardens.  Also, sprinkle a few white non-pariels on the wet chocolate.  Allow chocolate to set.  Frost your cupcakes however you like and then place two chocolate chips on top of each.   These are going to support your wings.  (If I were to do this again and use white frosting on the cupcake, I would also use white chocolate chips so as to make them less noticeable.)  Rest each wing on a chocolate chip, digging the center into the frosting a little bit to hold it.  Then pipe a line of frosting down the center to create a body.  These were a huge hit with the girls last night!!

Sunflower Cuppies.

  The trick to this one is to stiffen up your store-bought frosting a bit.  As-is, it'll be too soft to pipe a design so you need to add about a cup of powdered sugar to one can of frosting.  I know.  It makes my teeth hurt just to think about it.  Also add yellow food coloring.  Pipe a small dab of frosting in the center of each cupcake a place half of a mini-oreo (preferably the half that the filling doesn't stick to when you split it apart) on top.  Using a leaf tip, pipe a layer of petals around the oreo then go back and do a second layer on top of that, filling in any gaps between petals. 

Pistachio Cuppies with Pistachio Cream Frosting.

  Oh, how I wish I could tell you about some gourmet recipe I followed to make these.  There IS a delicious sounding, fancy recipe here.  But I was in a real hurry and I needed something green so I just made something up on the fly.  I bought  a box of Pistachio instant pudding and mixed half of it in with the golden cake batter.  Just add that, nothing else extra, and bake as directed.  For the frosting, mix the other half of the pudding with half a container of cool whip.  (I also added a little green food coloring to brighten it up.)  That's it. So easy and so delicious.  The pudding in the cake makes it really moist.

Peanut Butter and Honey Cuppies.

  Since the church added Virtue as a value and made the associated color gold, I struggled with this one.  How do you make a GOLD cupcake?!  Edible gold glitter costs a fortune and kind of freaks me out -- eating real gold?  Weird.  So I made peanut butter frosting (my kids' favorite) and drizzled honey over the top of it.  Who doesn't love a peanut butter and honey sandwich?!  And the honey was pretty, and shiny and gold-ish, though it doesn't show in the picture..  I used to make peanut butter frosting from scratch and I'll share that recipe later if you are really gluttons for punishment.  Now I just add about a cup of peanut butter to a can of cream cheese frosting.  Tastes every bit as decadent as the home-made version. 

The others were less inventive.  I frosted spice cake cuppies in cream cheese frosting and rolled them in shaved coconut -- pretty, but plain by comparison -- and piped simple purple flowers and greeen leaves onto red velvet cuppies with chocolate frosting -- a cool color combo which the teen girls really appreciated.  These were so fun to make and they only require very basic cake decorating equipment (and skill).  I didn't even use real bags for piping my frosting.  Just cut off the corner of a gallon size freezer bag and stick the coupler down in there.  So easy.  I'd love to know what you think if you try any of these!


Plum Cuppied Out!

Young Women in Excellence is tonight and it's mini-cupcakes as far as the eye can see around here.  Two and a half or three dozen each of eight different flavors -- each representing one of the Young Women value colors.  In my humble opinion, they are too pretty to eat.  Try telling that to my chillens who have been eating the cast-offs all day. (Hence only two and a half dozen of some flavors . . . and, to be honest, I can't wait to sink my teeth into one of those pistachio cuppies with pistachio cream frosting myself!)  I'm so in love with the way the programs turned out and I just wish you could see the self portraits the girls made that are decorating the room tonight.  It's going to be a lovely evening honoring a bunch of lovely young ladies.  I am so blessed to be working with them.



Christmas is 39 short days away!  39!  I'm ecstatic about that.  Just, please, don't be surprised if I start blogging about CRAZY things that no normal human being would or should be spending her time doing.  Christmas kind of brings that out in me.  Like the year I wrapped all our presents in white paper with icy blue ribbon.  They were truly lovely.  But not lovely enough in my Christmas-crazed opinion.  NO.  I took each and every one of the packages I had wrapped, sprayed them with adhesive and rolled them in crystal glitter.  So they looked like snow, right?  It was a beautiful sight, all those sparkly, white packages under our tree.  A vision that was utterly lost on the fam, who really only cared about what was inside anyway. Since then, I've been making a concerted effort to slow down and simplify.  To minimize the work and maximize the spirit of the season, without giving up the part of those crazy things that really makes me happy.  It's a delicate balance, but I'm finding it.  No, there won't be any glittered packages under my tree this year (unless you want to give it a try and send me something as a thank-you).  I'm opting for brown paper packages tied up with string and vintage Christmas-themed crate labels.  I bought the crate labels way back in March and I've been chomping at the bit to finally use them . . . because some things will never change.     


Oh, How I Love a Good Meal!

I attended a Relief Society mini-class at church this week taught by one of the best cooks I know, Kris Ortega.  (Her daughter, Alina, does my hair.  The talent in that gene pool is ridiculous.)  She makes fabulously delicious Mexican food and it is all I have been able to think about since Thursday night.  There were no written recipes -- OK, one for Sopapillas which I'll share when and if I get up the energy to try them myself -- just a demonstration and sampling.  She has been cooking these dishes for years and shared with us ways to cut time without sacrificing the flavor.  Those are the best "recipes" anyway, the ones you just know and perfect over time.  The secret seems to be in the deep frying.  Go figure.  I didn't know until pretty recently that you can't just use corn tortillas straight out of the package.  They need to be flash-fried or else they crack and break into a giant mess.  Who knew?!  It doesn't say anything about that on the package and I've been making crumbly, yucky enchiladas for years as a result!  Help a gringo out, why don'tcha.

Anyway . . . I made tostadas after church today and we, as a family, inhaled them.  It was to-die-for-delicious.  I'm going to have to make Kris's flautas soon because, even after this calorie fest today, I just can't stop thinking about them.  IF they are really as easy as she made them look, AND I am capable of reproducing their deliciosity here in my home, I'll share the recipe.  Look forward to it!


Another Thing Eleven Year Olds Can't Do Around Here

Go to the movies with friends and no adult supervision.  Am I being too over-protective?  And where did this fiercely independent little girl come from, anyway?  I offered to accompany these bright young ladies.  Even to buy their drinks and sit by myself across the theater from them, with a solid promise to be discrete and cool.  I would be nothing more than a humble lady-in-waiting.  Or another mom could do it if I am the problem in this equation. Is that unreasonable?!  I'm a fun mom, right . . .  I'm getting a little bit of a complex about this lately. 

Turns out I'm not the only one having these motherly, protective instincts.  Friend's mom came along, too.  She sat one row behind, D and I sat a few seats down since the theater was packed.  And it was fine!  The girls had fun in spite of their stodgy, old-fashioned moms and peace once again reigns at home.  Ahhhhhhh . . .


Temple Rag Quilts

Remember the temple quilt I made earlier this year for one of our Young Women at church who was receiving her Recognition Award for completing Personal Progress? 

I'm making another one this weekend to present to another girl at our Young Women in Excellence program next week.  I don't sew very often , but I do enjoy it.  I designed this and have had several people request copies of the pattern.  Now, some nine months later, I have finally drawn something up. 

It shows how to lay it out, how many squares you'll need of each color, and has some very basic directions that assume you already know how to make a rag quilt.  (I'm not a good teacher.  Sorry.)  There is a great tutorial here if you need better instructions.  Good luck!  Let me know if you try it.

Some fun news:

Since I posted this idea, it has been added to the Sugar Doodle website. Right now it's up on the front page, but you can also find it under the Youth tab -- click on Young Women in the drop down box -- scroll down to Personal Progress Ideas, click on that and then scroll down to Other. It's fun to share new ideas . . . Heaven knows I've taken my share off of that site.  :-D


Have You Ever Had One of Those Days . . .

. . . where you go to bed at 10:00 with a migraine, wake up at 2:00 and CAN"T FOR THE LIFE OF YOU GO BACK TO SLEEP?!  Yeah, me neither.  Until today.  It was horrible!  I felt like a prisoner to my bed.  Couldn't turn on the light and read for fear of waking up Brent.  Couldn't go in the living room to watch TV for fear of waking up the dog (or worse, the children).  I just laid there, trying not to toss and turn too much, thinking of a thousand different things I could be doing instead, scribbling a list in the dark of changes I wanted to make to this little bog (Do you like the recipe links in the sidebar?) and wishing I would just fall back asleep.  Willing my eyelids to droop.  Anything!!  Finally at 4:30 I knew the gym was opening so I got up, dressed and tip-toed out the door.  It was odd.  Like peering into a whole world I never knew existed.  The gym is flippin' packed at 4:45 in the morning!  They have spin classes and everything.  Who knew?!  I worked out for a little over an hour and was home before anyone really knew I was gone.  The strangest part is that I still can't fall asleep.  Not a single nod all morning.  Really, I nap, even on my best days.  I truly feel like I've stepped into an alternate reality today.  Watch, I'll crash just as the kids come home and need help with homework and want annoying things like hot meals and my undivided attention.  Darn it all!


An Odd Compliment

From my sweet baby girl, upon learning that mom and dad had denied her request to register for a Facebook account: "UGH!!! You guys never let me do ANYTHING my other friends get to do!!!"

Yep. She's basically right (though hyperbolizing a bit) and I'm dang proud of it. No eleven year old has any business networking socially online. None. Love ya, Sis. Someday you'll understand and you'll be grateful.


While the Cat's Away the Mice Will Play

How about this fun "activity" that my family began practicing while I was traveling to Colorado earlier this year?! Are we the Parents of the Year or what? Tomorrow is Veterans Day and the kids don't have school. In our house a day off of school means it's "sleepover" time. We all drag our mattresses into the living room and watch movies and stay up late. It makes for good times. I began this tradition when our kids were younger and it has stuck since there are precious few people with whom we will really allow our babies to sleep over. The mattress ride down the stairs? All Brent.

(Sorry the video is sideways. I'm irritated that I can't figure out how to fix it. )

Positive Affirmations

Who doesn't love to hear something nice about themselves once in a while? I totally ripped this idea off from our Young Women lesson two Sundays ago . . . sue me. Each member of our little brood has a notebook. When we sit down at Family Home Evening every Monday, we pull out the notebooks, systematically pass them around, and everyone writes three nice things about each family member in their corresponding notebook. When the notebooks have come full circle, everyone reads their compliments and can choose which, if any, they want to share aloud. It has been fun hearing what our kiddos write to one another. I haven't had occasion yet, but I was also thinking that when the children have squabbles I would make the offenders sit and write three nice things in each others' books. Or when one of my children comes home crying that ". . . nobody likes me . . ." I can drag out their notebook and help them remember the truth. It's been fun.


Breakfast "To Die For"

In a previous post I mentioned the delicious breakfast I made Halloween morning. It was so good that it will be making several more appearances center stage at our morning repast. When the air starts to chill (a frigid 65 degrees in the morning now) I just can't get enough of the pumpkin. Hope you enjoy it, too!

Pumpkin Pancakes

1 C. flour (I use fresh ground whole wheat)
1C. milk
1 egg
1/4 C. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 C. canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or add cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger individually)

Mix well and cook on a griddle. (I usually triple this recipe for our family with just a few left-overs. You can also mix up a batch of instant pancake mix and add the pumpkin, brown sugar and spices. It would taste just as good, I'm sure.)

Cinnamon Vanilla Syrup

1 stick butter
1 C. sugar
1/2 C. buttermilk (I used regular milk)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cinnamon stick

This recipe is an adaptation of a recipe that is served at Girl's Camp every summer. It's also remarkably similar to my sister-in-law Kristin's delicious syrup, but not exactly. Heat all ingredients in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for five to ten minutes. Remove cinnamon stick before serving. Serve warm over pumpkin (or regular!) pancakes.

PS... I've been asleep for most of the day and I AM feeling better. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll be back at full speed. I can't afford to lose one more day.


Waving the White Flag

I surrender!!! I've been feeling like I've been trying to get sick all week. Sinus pressure (the right side of my face hurts like Hades), body aches, exhaustion . . . but I've been fighting, thinking that I could will myself into health. I mean, I don't have a fever . . .

I came home yesterday from a day at Youth Conference with the exuberant teens from church feeling like I had been run over by a bus. Still I didn't give in. Had a nap. Went to a birthday shindig last night. Got up this morning and prayed to just make it through church, which I did with a smile. Tonight I'm throwing in the towel. I'm done waiting for it to get worse because it's already pretty dang bad. I don't know what it is, but it wins. I'm going to bed and not getting out until I feel like myself again. Or until Tuesday when I have an oh-so-convenient quarterly check up scheduled with my doctor.

Typical Sunday Morning


Relapse is a Part of the Recovery Process, Right?

Yeah, so. Lets be honest, we've all done things you're not proud of. Coke has come back to town and I'm letting it crash on my emotional couch for a little while. Sure, I KNOW Coke's no good for me. I grasp that intellectually . . . . It's just that we were more-than-friends for so long. Old habits are hard to break. I've watched enough Dr. Phil and Celebrity Rehab to know that this little relapse of mine was to be expected. I went five weeks Coke-less and then six, and that's when I got cocky. We were at Disneyland and in a moment of reckless abandon Brent and I shared a 32-ouncer. It was every bit as calming on my theme park-frazzled nerves as I remembered it to be. When we got home, it was my birthday and I justified a binge as a little birthday gift to myself. And that was the beginning of the end.

I am sipping a cold one now and I'm not gonna' lie, it's heavenly. But it's my last. My very last sweet, refreshing jaunt over to the dark side. Tomorrow morning I'm off to the gym first thing with a bottle of water in tow. I'm always a little better at resisting this particular brand of temptation with a 700-calorie deficit working for me. It's going to be an uphill battle for the next few weeks, folks.

Just For Kicks . . .

My little middle's kickball team just won the intramural "Gecko Bowl" at school. This supah-dupah action shot was featured in the school newsletter sent home last month. Sweet, huh? I'm pretty proud of my MVP.


All Hallow's Eve

Good times were had by all this Halloween. I had the most fun I've had in years decking out my trunk for the annual Trunk-or-Treat at church Friday evening.
My utter lack of photography skill makes it difficult to appreciate how fun it really was. The chandelier was my very favorite part. It was the perfect finishing touch, in my humble opinion. I won a box of instant hot cocoa for my troubles. Nice.
I also enjoyed how the white painted pumpkins turned out. Sis carved the one next to them that says boo. Clever, huh?
She was the cutest little Dorothy you've ever seen. Her complete bliss in that costume made all the sewing and fitting and re-sewing worthwhile.
The boys were a little bit less demanding this year. We found this cool black cloaks at a thrift shop and that's all they wanted to wear. No skeleton face make-up. Nothing. D did carry a light saber -- he was Darth Sidious. Not up to my usual costume designing standards, but whatever. They had fun and that's all that matters.
We had a lovely meal of Monster Sandwiches and Goblin Juice to kick off Saturday evening's festivities.
Looks delicious, no?
OK, for the record, I CAN cook real, truly delicious food when I want to. For our Halloween breakfast I made Pumpkin Pancakes with Homemade Cinnamon Vanilla Syrup. Breakfast "to die for" . . . such a perfect way to start off a spooky day!

Now we're up to our eyeballs in candy, the little monsters are bouncing off the walls, and Cass has found her newest love in life -- Caramel Apple Candy Corn. They happen to be my favorite, too, and I may or may not be her supplier. So, sue me. She deserves some fun, too.


A Series of Unfortunate Events

Somedays you just have to be able to laugh. Most days actually. I mentioned in an earlier post how I had over-committed my week. My time was scheduled down to the minute Wednesday if I was going to fit everything in. I had to drop Sis to school early (her choice), run home and flatiron my hair, then run to Young Women's Presidency Meeting by 8:30. Bringing the puppy with us on the school drop off seemed not a big deal. Until she vomited in the van on the way home. Hadn't planned on that. Then, as I was cleaning up the vomit, trying to NOT get it on my freshly ironed blouse, she went #2 on my bedroom floor. Hadn't budgeted time for THAT either.

I just had to chuckle, it reminded me so much of when my three young'uns were all 3 and under. Brent worked the noon to nine shift at work back then. I was trying to feed the three- and one-year old pancakes for dinner (we did that a lot in those days) while nursing the baby. One kid threw up at the table so I decided to scrap dinner and put them all in a bath together. As the tub was filling up, one of my motley little crew went #2 in the tub. So I got them all out, lined them up on a towel to wait while I cleaned and refilled the tub. It wasn't two minutes before another one had gone #2 there on the towel. No sooner had I refilled the tub, put the two bigger kids in, and left the baby screaming on the floor to clean up the new mess, than a kid threw up in the tub. At this point all 4 of us were in tears. I turned on the shower to hose them all down so I could re-diaper them as quickly as possible. Brent came home from work that night to find us all sleeping in a heap on the couch with a barf bowl within my reach and a bathroom-full of "carnage" that I just didn't have the energy to clean up.

That story is funny. Now. Anyway, I got to my meeting on time Wednesday and the rest of my day went according to schedule. So, add dog vomit to the ever growing list of vile smells in my van and add riding in the van to the ever growing list of things I will not do with my dog. And if a little birdie told you I stayed in my pajamas with no make-up on all day yesterday, please cut me some slack. I'm not really as lazy as I look sometimes.


Almost Forgotten Funnies

Overheard: this little exchange between my fine, upstanding sons--

D: I can't wait until I grow up so I can go to jail.
R: What?! You want to go to jail and live with dirty old men and criminals?
D: Yep. Yep, I do.

Me and D on the Autopia ride at Disneyland:

Me: You're doing such a great job driving! (ahem, for the record, he was all over the road)
D: I know. That's why people call me Mr. Awesome. (yeah. no. they don't)

Riley, recapping his day at school: (I had purchased miniature bananas at the grocery store for the kids' lunches. They were super excited about that.)

R: At lunch I took out my little banana and showed it to my friend Mark. Then he said, "That's the littlest banana I've ever seen!"
B: (giggling like a school boy -- dirty mind)
R: What?!
Me: (in my usual capacity of innuendo translator) You took out your "little banana" and showed it to your friend . . . wink, wink, nudge, nudge
All: (uproarious laughter and mildly inappropriate humor for the remainder of dinner)

If you were to peep through our windows on any given day, there's no telling what you'd witness! Every day is a new adventure.


Measure Twice, Buy Once

Why do I think I know everything?

Why don't I double check the facts before I do things?

Why do I do that to myself?

Why do I drive all the way out to Gilbert to exchange a pattern (and pay an extra $9 because the pattern is no longer on sale) without measuring my daughter FIRST so that I would know that the pattern I already had was the right size?


My kids know better -- they question EVERY SINGLE THING I DO.

Whatever. Sis has a beautiful costume, I had a lovely drive in the car, I'm still on schedule for the week, and now I WILL NEVER FORGET that pattern sizing is different than off-the-rack sizing.


Too Busy to Blog? Oh My!

Excuses, excuses. I know. But you should SEE my calendar right now. I coordinated volunteers, sold tickets and chaperoned Sis's first middle school dance last weekend. It was fantastic fun. I just think kids that age are so entertaining. I also got a fabulous haircut, did my Visiting Teaching and deep-cleaned my kids' rooms last week. Yikes! This week I'm sewing a Dorothy dress for Halloween, making salt-dough bats for one kid's class, helping carve pumpkins in both boys classes and baking cookies and french bread for the Teacher Appreciation dinner at the middle school. We have parent-teacher conferences, a birthday party and a book report due. I have Stake Leadership Training Meeting, Young Women's Presidency Meeting and a lunch date with my Visiting Teachers. I've committed to making chili and cornbread for the Chili Cook-Off at Trunk-or-Treat Friday night and I'm determined to win the trunk decorating contest -- hello . . . Haunted Mansion in my trunk . . . complete with chandelier and creepy apothecary? Oh, yeah.

I'm thrilled to death to be busy. I really am. I wouldn't change one thing about my life right now. My one lament is that my poor little blog here is suffering from my neglect. Maybe November will calm down a little . . . after I update the pod calendar at Sis's school, sew a quilt and make hundreds of cake balls for the Young Women in Excellence program . . .


My Debt Has Been Repaid

My idea of a perfect first anniversary:

Complete with "fancy" theme rooms, a whirlpool tub, and complimentary cheesecake.
Sounds good , no?

Maybe not to everyone . . .

My husband's idea of a perfect first anniversary:

You may guess who won this battle. It was the first of many times my husband has let me have my way even though he knew I was wrong. So very wrong.
Ahhh . . . the French Canopy Suite WAS lovely. And oh-so boring! I mean really, how many times can you, ahem, anyway . . . before it just gets old. (And "that" is really the only point of going to that particular hotel on your anniversary.) Too pour salt on the hubby's wounds, as we were watching Grumpy Old Men on the laser disc player (yeah, I'm laughing, too) we could hear said concert going on three short blocks away. We walked over there and sat and listened in the stadium parking lot. It was romantic. And ridiculous.

So yesterday I finally repaid my debt to that wonderful man:

I've owed him a U2 concert for the past twelve and a half years and now we're finally even. He went with friends Chris and Katie and had a fantastic time. I'm glad. He's put up with a lot from me over the years.

(Love you, baby!)


Seems Like Yesterday . . .

She just doesn't stop growing! Or moving. (She's not a poser, that one.)


She was a tiny, unimposing, cuddly little sweet pea with floppy ears who didn't like to take walks. She cried all night and "did her business" wherever she pleased.


Her ears stand straight up, she has discovered barking as a way of getting attention, she eats a banana every day and sleeps through the night. She and I run more than walk for 45 minutes every morning and, at least when it's just me and her home in the daytime, is pleasantly house-trained.

The past couple of months have been quite a learning experience and an adventure. Man, do we love that doggie.


Happy Birthday to ME!!!

Yeah, OK, so yesterday was my 36th birthday. Whatever. Here's the good stuff . . . my friend Jamie (the other mom in "Team Wellson" who took Disneyland by storm last week) invited all three of my children over for a sleepover last night. ALL THREE. Her birthday gift to me was "The Trifecta" I have long dreamed of. It was nice . . . for me. Cassie was sad. Whatever.

Someday I'll be woman enough to return the favor.


Best Vacay Evah!

This week was Fall Break here in Arizona so we decided to take our kids and get the heck out of the heat. We followed Disneyland's siren song with our friends, the Wells, and had the greatest time! We arrived in O.C. on Tuesday afternoon and promptly headed out to Newport Beach. Even in the light drizzle our children HAD to see the ocean.

And gather souvenirs of all kinds.
We didn't think they'd want to do anything but wade in, what with the whipping wind and light rain. We were wrong. They ended up soaking wet and sandy, head to toe. I sure wish I had made them change into swimsuits before we went. I ended up doing a load of laundry after dinner so the kids would have dry jackets to take to Disneyland the next morning.

We woke up Wednesday morning to rain. At first we were a bit worried, but soon decided "Team Well-son" would not be thwarted by a little rain! It turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. The temperature was FANTASTIC and the crowds were sparse. It was, truly, the best day I've ever spent at Disneyland. We stayed from open to close and rode almost everything that was open. It was good, good fun.

Other highlights of the trip: Dinner at Bob's Big Boy with Kelly and Josh, my sister and her husband. Mmmmmm . . . Chili Spaghetti . . . ; and D falling asleep while eating a gordita after a long, exciting day at D-land.

The kids go back to school Tuesday. We're gonna' need the rest of the weekend to recover from all the fun.


Look Away, Taylor and Amanda! Look Away!

I have a new niece and she is absolutely the cutest baby ever! Well, maybe the cutest baby in the past 8 years or so since I got out of the business . . . ahem. Anyway. I couldn't resist getting out the old freezer paper again and doing "my thang" for her. Actually, I made these for her several weeks ago, but I'm determined to mail them off today. But first I think I'll change the ribbon bow on the necklace one to black and white. Thoughts? Congrats Tay and Amanda (because I'm sure you didn't heed my warning and ruined your surprise)! We are so happy for you.


Follow Up

I've delayed sharing the outcome of my little experiment the other day because I've been trying to process the data and analyze results. If you recall, I trashed the living room in an effort to teach my children NOT to trash their bathroom. Perhaps a breach of logic, but I was grasping at straws. Several things happened for which I was not prepared.


my children DID notice the mess. A couple of times they asked, "Mom, why are your clothes out here on the floor?" as they removed them so as to keep their precious puppy from doing damage. Huh. Unexpected.


Sis (that little stinker) read my blog. She knew what I was doing the whole time and acted out accordingly. She is the only one who raised a fuss about having to clean up a "fake mess". The boys, in their special, inefficient way, just plugged along with rather less weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth than I had planned on. Weird.


while we were eating our delicious cake after the fact, I asked my kids if they thought it was unfair that they had to clean up my mess. My boys both said, "No. It was fair because you clean up our stuff all the time. And you're the best mom in the whole world." AWWWWWW . . . . I have good kids. Really good kids.

But their bathroom is still a mess, so, you know. . . it is what it is.


Welcome to MY World . . .

This is my youngest's school planner, in which he receives a grade for his daily behavior. Yeah, you read it right. Yesterday he, apparently, stapled a cricket. I have no words . . .



This weekend was the semiannual General Conference for our church. It was fabulously inspiring. It's nice every six months to get a big old kick-in-the-pants reminder that I can do better and be kinder and serve more. One of the things that sets the Mormon church apart from fellow Christian faiths is that we believe in continuing revelation. We believe that our prophet, Thomas S. Monson, leads our church under the direct guidance of our Heavenly Father and his son, Jesus Christ. It is a wonderful and exciting thing for us to hear him speak. He is always very kind and encouraging, but I always come away with an idea of what more I can do -- the desire to be a little better. I need that every once in a while.

Also this weekend, we had a movie night at church. It's fun to get together with our ward family (our local congregation) and visit. Brent has been called as our ward activities committee chairperson, so he was running the show kind-of. I've resigned myself to the fact that his calling will be an experiment in what we can spill in our van. You may recall the pinto beans and ham hocks of July . . . . Friday night I spilled a 5 gallon cooler of water in the back of the van which, oh happy day, re-released the pinto bean smell that had been precariously held at bay. Yeah . . .

Now, today, I'm working on a real-life kick-in-the-pants lesson of my own to wake my kids up. Remember the photos I posted of their bathroom a few weeks ago? How could you forget, right? Well, their bathroom continues to look like that. Actually, within 24 hour of each cleaning it falls into similar disarray. I'm done!!! I'm going to leave crap all over the living room today -- dirty dishes, used kleenexes (if I can bring myself to do that), clothes, etc. Then I'm going to go get a fabulous-looking dessert for Family Night tonight. We'll go about business as usual this evening (the kids will not even notice the mess) UNTIL it's time for dessert. Then I will tell them that they have to clean up MY mess in the living room before they can have treats. Because, hello, that's my life! I can't do stuff I want to do because I have to clean up their crap. Is that too mean? Will they get it? I'll let you know.


Aw, Dave! Say It Aint So!

Sex scandals in the world of politics are so common now days they are practically expected. Likewise, I'm rarely surprised by anything that happens in the entertainment industry. But David Letterman?! At the center of a sex scandal with "Smitty"?! How can that be true. Not you too, Dave. Not you. I've been a huge fan of his for years. I've lost countless hours of sleep while watching his late-night antics. I have fond memories of going home from college for the summer and watching Dave every night with my dad. I even wore the Mujibar and Sirijule t-shirt he brought home from his trip to New York. Dave was goofy and fatherly and hysterically curmudgeonly. He seemed like a genuinely good guy. I'm just so disappointed.

Should we give him a little credit for going public with it himself on his show last night (after being blackmailed)? No. Not this girl. How a man with a wife and child can sleep with his staffers is beyond the realm of my understanding. I guess I'm just old fashioned that way.


Nothing Much To Say . . .

I like to blog every day. I really try. It's how I vent. But this week for some reason, I got nothin'. I'll start posts and delete them just as quickly because, really, there's nothing there. It's the natural ebb and flow of creativity, I guess. Here are some of the things I thought about saying:
  • I won $100 last night.
  • The Dish Network man was at my house for two and a half hours today setting up our service.
  • I took Riley to the dentist to get two cavities filled and, as it turns out, he only needed one. And he took it without novacaine.
  • Sydney went to her first sleep-away camp-type experience Monday and Tuesday for school. It was so QUIET in our house. And Cass was sad.
  • I made taquitos from scratch. Jose Ole, eat your heart out.
  • The new Bounce Bar is the most fabulous invention for laundry ever. You MUST go get one and put it in your dryer immediately.
  • I volunteered to chair the Middle School PTSO Dance committee. What was I thinking?! Now I have to coordinate ticket sales and chaperones for the upcoming dance. Ugh.
  • Fall Break can't come soon enough.
See! I got nothin'. Whatever. I've been busy as a bee, I just don't have anything interesting to say about it. Let's face it, sooner or later one of my children is going to really mess something up and then we'll all laugh again. Tomorrow is a new day . . .


Hotter'n Hades

I love living in Arizona. When we moved here from Orange County 8 years ago, I didn't expect that. It's charms were not overwhelmingly or immediately evident to me. But now you'd be hard pressed to get me to leave. We've acclimated to the heat. Really. I'm just used to being sweaty now. The thing I will NEVER get used to, however, is the LENGTH of the summer. The fact that consistent triple digit temps last from May to November. I'm dying here!! I hope every year that we'll be down to the 80's by my birthday -- two and a half weeks from now. It's really all I want.


Bless You, Amish People

My youngest brother once said, "If I weren't Mormon, I almost definitely would . . . not . . . be Amish. But they make some pretty good food." True, bro. True. I'm sure many of you have tried Amish Friendship Bread. The starter makes it's way around my group of acquaintances every couple of years. It's delicious. My sister gave me a starter this summer which I promptly left atop the toaster oven and killed. Boo. My sister also introduced us to Amish Baked Oatmeal. It's a lovely dish that tastes much like half-baked oatmeal cookies. We smother it in sliced fresh peaches and warm milk and it's positively heavenly. You should try it.

Amish Baked Oatmeal

3 C. oatmeal
1 C. sugar
1 C. milk
1/2 C. melted butter
2 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
warm milk
fresh fruit (optional)
brown sugar (optional)

Combine first 8 ingredients and mix well. Spread evenly in a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350* for 25-30 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Immediately spoon into bowls and add warm milk. Top with fresh fruit and/or brown sugar if desired. (Oh, you will desire!)

You may think you don't like oatmeal, but think again. You don't know nothin' until you've tasted this.


The Best 65 Dollars I Ever Spent . . .

Remember this? I absolutely LOVE hearing it's sweet strains wafting through our home every morning and afternoon when Sis is practicing. I don't know a heck of a lot about music (more the dancing type, myself) but I think she is a natural. She's received perfect marks on her playing tests so far. Sure, it's only "Hot Cross Buns" or "Good King Wenceslas", but it is truly lovely. I can only hope our future ventures into music training will go as smoothly.

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