Friday, December 21, 2012

Breakfast Cake

 Breakfast Cake
I got this recipe from a church cookbook over 16 years ago. It's from Johanna Markworth (she and I went to Snow College way back when and I just wanted to give her credit for the recipe :)

This is one of our family favorites for our "Big Breakfast Saturdays" and especially for Christmas morning. With Christmas just around the corner, I thought this would be a good one to share:

1 beaten egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. melted shortening
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt 

Mix the first four ingredients together, then add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour into a greased 9x9 inch pan and top with:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1/4 cup chopped nuts (these are optional. Almonds are lovely, by the way.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. You can also double this batch and put it in a 9x13inch pan.

It takes about 15 minutes to put together. I'm going to try and make it on Christmas Eve and bake it the next morning. I'll let you know how it turns out...


Merry Christmas!



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I'll Repent...

Hey bloggers, these are the words I promised my dear friends this morning "I'll repent!!" I haven't been reading or writing any blogs lately. Not one. I honestly don't know where the time goes.

It's interesting to me how much I've noticed the balance of things in life lately. Lots of trials, but LOTS of blessings.

My heart is ACHING for those families in Connecticut affected by or involved in that terrible shooting... I simply cannot imagine. It has been a rough week sending my kids to school. A few more hugs and kisses here and there, extra "I love you's" -- I feel ashamed to think what it took to remind me how precious each of my children are to me. I hold them just a little longer than I used to and I find myself trying to reassure them, almost pleading with them, "Do you know how much I love you? I hope you do!"

Things I love:

1. My husband -- he is so loving and supportive of me in all my quirky glory. People say building a home can destroy your marriage -- I feel like it has brought us closer in many ways, although we do like much of the same things so picking out colors and things to go in and on the house has been really fun!

2. My friends -- ditto to the above, I only wish I could see them more. You wonderful women keep me afloat when all the other things in life seem to get me down sometimes.

3. My kids -- they're pretty darn patient with me and they're all in these really fun phases right now: 14, 12, 8, and 4. I'm not saying they're fun 100% of the time -- I'm just saying they CAN be. They love me and I love to see all the ways they show me.

4. My Mom -- she is just plain AWESOME in every way. Again, I wish I could see her MORE.

5. All of my family -- we went to visit my family and Zeke's family during Thanksgiving and it was truly one of THE best trips ever. I love them all and I'm grateful to have them in my life.

5. The Gospel of Jesus Christ -- my greatest source of peace and direction. I really appreciate our new ward. It truly is where we're supposed to be.

6. My cats -- seriously, they are so much a part of our family. They are great company and so fun! People have told me they prefer dogs because cats aren't affectionate or happy to see you. I wonder if these people have actually had a cat in their home? I'm amazed at how loving they are and how they just seem to know when one of us is sad or sick. I'm grateful our kids can have these beautiful animals in our home. I know they are a great source of comfort to them and they teach them to be more gentle and kind. By the way, have you ever played with a cat and a laser pointer? Seriously, you should.

7. This crazy roller coaster ride called "building a house". Did I tell you our apartment is 1000 square feet? Did I tell you we've been living here for almost 6 months? Yeah. It's a bit crazy, but every time I go out to our new house and see the progress I tell myself "I can do this -- not much longer -- it's going to be worth it." This has been a miracle for our family and I feel so blessed. Am I crazy to admit I've been drawing little shapes of all of our furniture to scale on the floor plans already? :)

Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Crockpot Bean Soup

You know those little recipe books you get at the grocery check out?
I got a great one a few years back called "Taste of Home's: 44 Meals Under $10".
 It's got some surprisingly good and easy recipes in it. 
This is one of our favorites:

Crockpot Bean Soup
3 cups chopped parsnips (optional)
2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup chopped onion
1-1/2 cups dried great northern beans
5 cups water
1-1/2 pounds smoked ham hocks or ham shanks
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. hot pepper sauce (I like Tabasco)


1. In a 5-qt. slow cooker, place the parsnips, carrots, and onion. Top with beans. Add water, ham, garlic, salt, pepper, and hot pepper sauce. Cover and cook on high for 6-7 hours or until beans are tender.

2. Remove meat and bones when cool enough to handle. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces and return to the slow cooker.

3. If you would like it a bit thicker: in a small bowl, mix 1 Tbsp. cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water. Stir into soup; heat through.

Makes 6-8 servings.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

"I'm pretty sure this happened over night." Part One: GABE

So, we've been living in this little apartment since June. We're feeling rather cramped. Especially at night when all six of us are here. I swear my kids are ALL legs. Man, there's just no room to move! We were so naive to think our house would be done by the end of November... anyway, it's an adventure, right?

At night when everyone is restless and I don't know what ... we clear out a space in the middle of the living room and turn on some dance music. My dear friend, Sharon, made me the BEST CDs! At least I think so... my kids are asking for Oingo Boingo and Big Audio Dynamite.  I'm feeling rather proud of myself as a parent right now! It's fun to dance around with them and play; the kids need to move and wiggle. I think I do too.

We've had some impromptu dance lessons as well. Last Friday, Zeke was sick. I mean really sick. The doctor said he was getting pneumonia -- yeah, so he laid on the couch while we danced. (He's feeling much better now, by the way.) A slow song came on. I think it was "Never Tear Us Apart" from INXS (oh, the memories!)

Do you ever just REALLY want to slow dance??? Well, I do, and my sweetie was laid up on the couch. I grabbed Gabe. The girls kept giggling and staring as I tried to teach him how to slow dance. I cannot fully explain to you how totally BIZARRE it was to look UP into the eyes of my 14 year old son. (I'm nearly 5'7" already!)

Anyway, I tried to show him how I think it's cool/more romantic/proper/whatever when a guy puts one hand on your waist and "holds your other hand up like this". Are you picturing it? It reminds me of Dirty Dancing, "...spaghetti arms! would you give me some tension, please?" (No, I won't show my kids that movie, but man, I loved it when I was younger.)

So it was one of those moments I will always remember, cheesy I know, but Gabe wasn't too bugged. In fact, he seemed pretty eager to figure out this slow dance thing. Little did I know, it was perfect timing. The very next night, Gabe was at a friend's house and called me to ask if he could go to a Stake Dance with said friend's cousin's Dad. I said sure??? (Gabe has NEVER wanted to go to a Stake Dance before now.) This was around 9pm.

11pm. The door opens. In walks Gabe and his friend, Zach. They were laughing and stumbling about in the way only 14 year old boys can, simultaneously creating a wake of noise and candy wrappers as they crossed the room.

"So how was the dance?" I asked. Immediately, they launched into a VERY animated explanation of learning how to do the Electric Slide and the Macarena. Then, without any reservations whatsoever, they SHOWED us how to do the line dance to "Cotton Eye Joe". Remember, we're in a 1400 sq. ft. apartment with 3 other kids! I laughed SO hard I thought I would burst. It was priceless.

And... then (here it comes) we asked them if they got to slow dance with any girls. They both grinned and said sheepishly, "Yeah, we did." (I could swear there were little heart bubbles swirling and popping around their heads.)

Gabe got real excited and said, "MOM! Oh wow, by the way, thanks for showing me how to hold their hand up and put one hand on their waist! The girls said that was really cool! "

To all of the girls from some random Stake Dance in Sky View... "You're welcome." Oh, if ever I could be a fly on a wall...

I tried to choke down the lump in my throat. You know, maybe this Mom thing has its perks too. He was so excited! I thought, "Oh, my baby boy is slow dancing with girls!!"

Now as I type this, reality sets in and the lump I remember is replaced by a sick butterfly-type feeling in the pit of my stomach, "My baby boy is slow dancing with girls???????"

Oh dang.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ramble On

For the record, I love Led Zeppelin. Not in the way you might think. I remember dragging main with my friend and her boyfriend (Yes, I was the lame 3rd wheel!) and we listened to "Stairway to Heaven" over and over and over and over.... no, I'm thinking about Black Dog, Kashmir, Misty Mountain Hop, Immigrant Song, and Ramble On (just popped into my head when I was trying to come up with a title for this post).

I'm kinda bummed at my lack of blogging lately. From this moment henceforth, I intend to be exceedingly serious about blogging. Well, for a moment at least. There's so much going on. TOO MUCH.  My blog has been left to fend for itself.

We've all been sick the last few days. Fever. Ache. Sore Throat. Cough. What's that commercial about NyQuil? the something something so-you-can-rest medicine. Well, anyway, I can't take NyQuil, I pretty much do the opposite of rest. I have ultra-vivid/bizarre dreams all night long, but I'm halfway between awake and asleep, so yeah. Not sure where I was going with that...

Today, I think we're somewhat on the mend thankfully. I took some of my kids to school and I was able to go visit with some friends this morning. We had a good visit about yesterday's election and some really yummy muffins. Friends and family make me so happy. :) Some of my best friends are really more like family and some of my family are my best friends. For the record, thanks for caring about me. Life is good. Crazy, but good.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot. I've been reading a lot.

Two books in particular have me thinking:

1. "Pretending to be Normal" by Liane Holliday Willey
2. "The Book of Mormon Girl" by Joanna Brooks

These books have NOTHING in common other than the fact they were both written by women.
I'm very choosy about the books I read. I don't have a lot of "free" time and I really feel like "you are what you read...." (Sorry, my head's still a bit fuzzy and I just cannot seem to stop quoting movies.... wait, I do it all the time.)

I'm glad I read both of them. For very different reasons. Both of these books are memoirs -- I could relate so well with the author in book #1, but not very much at all with the author in book #2. However, we are all women. I respect them and their courage to tell their story; to share their honest opinions and most personal experiences. Somehow, it makes me want to be a better person and reach out to others more; to love everyone regardless of our differences.

It's funny how books come into my life at the right time.

There's a lot more I want to say, but alas, I randomly started writing this post at a most dangerous time: 4pm on a Wednesday. I should be making dinner and helping with homework.

Okay.... you've been spared for now.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Radio Free Logan

It's been awhile since I've posted anything.

Life is busy. Always. You know, with four kids, statistically speaking, it just is. It will be. And that's that. And it's crazy, but I love them so much. I'm doing it and most days, I'm still smiling.

Lately, I've been smiling more. Why? I want to share with all of you one of THE best things I have ever done. 

What? THE best thing ever? YES.

It may sound a bit dramatic, but it's 100% true. I wonder why I waited so long. 

Such a simple thing can have the most profound results.

Alma 37:6

6 Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

As a mother of four, I spend a lot of time in the car each day driving from school to school and errands in between. I get a bit impatient with other drivers and I get tired of watching the clock and going back and forth throughout the day and loading kids in and out.

A few weeks ago, I started listening to scriptures in my car. Specifically, The Book of Mormon. I'm sure this is no "WOW" thing for you, but have you tried it?

I tell the kids, "Mom needs her 'scripture power' for the day" and well, it has been absolutely AWESOME!

I feel more calm, more in tune with the Spirit, more settled, more confident and less frazzled at the end of the day. 

It's nice to have the scriptures read to me as I'm driving around and waiting at stop lights. It's so much easier for me to focus on the sound of the scriptures than it is for me to read the words at my house with so much constant noise and bussle going on. Life changing!

  • 2 Nephi 32:3

    3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the wordsof Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
  • 2 Nephi 31:20

    20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

    Here's one of my favorite primary songs, "Scripture Power"
    http://broadcast.lds.org/churchmusic/Primary/PR_ScripturePower_eng.mp3
    http://www.lds.org/cm/pdf/ScripturePower_eng.pdf

    Sorry, I couldn't get those links to uh, link, but you can copy and paste it in to a new page. Go listen to the mp3 and the words of this awesome song!


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ganache!

Lots of random thoughts this week....

All of us came down with some sort of cold/flu thing on Sunday. Well, Zeke and Zoe got it earlier than that. The point is, I haven't been feeling very well. Achy, run-down, feverish... just really yucky.

Anyway, not sure if I told you in another post, but our family is basically addicted to watching "Cake Boss" on Netflix. Beck and Kaia pretend they're on the show. They make cakes out of pillows and blankets and yell things like, "Now I'm gonna dirty ice this with some buttercream!" and "Now we covered the cake in red fonDAHNT (you have to hear Buddy say it)."

They're actually really creative. Beck made a "cake" from our leather ottoman, two fleece blankets, hot wheels cars, and his iron man Halloween mask. "That's how we make cake LOGAN style, baby! GANACHE!!!"

Yes, we're hooked. And like any reality series, I'm just as hooked on all the lives of the people on the show. Yesterday, Gabe and Kaia stayed home from school. We all felt horrible. We sat on the couch all day watching Netflix while Beck ran around making "cakes" from anything he could find and every few minutes asking us, "Who wants to eat some cake, baby?"

Needless to say, we watched quite a bit of "Cake Boss". We watched the episode from Season 4? where Buddy's wife, Lisa, gives birth the their 4th child, Carlo Salvatore Valastro. For reasons I don't even fully understand, I cried like a baby the entire time. Not sure what Gabe thought of that... there is just something absolutely miraculous and beautiful about the birth of a baby. Buddy says it's just as amazing the fourth time around. I agree whole-heartedly. It was a beautiful, although a bit ultra-personal, moment for the Valastro family. I felt like an intruder in a way, but I felt so happy for them. I've watched the show so much lately, I feel like I know them.

Speaking of watching the show so much, my kids have been BEGGING me to make cake. They've been pleading with me to make fonDANT. So, on Monday, we gave it a try.... now please, this was my first attempt. I wasn't feeling well and this was after dinner...

Okay, we'll call it a caterpillar, I guess. I wanted to do a cake, but well, since we moved, I can't find the box with my cake pans, so we did cupcakes. I found some red hots and slivered almonds in the cupboard... yeah, I didn't really have a plan. This caterpillar doesn't look like much, but it was a LOT or work, dirty iced, and covered in a layer of pink fonDANT. Why do I feel so cool saying that?

All of the kids helped me (well, Gabe, helped EAT it). It was fun and now I'm really excited to try more things. Zeke's 40th birthday is coming up in a few weeks and I have a really cool cake in my head... oh, if only Carlo's Bakery was ready to ship cakes to Utah!!! I'll have do it Logan style, baby!


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Too Many Hats

How do I do this? Every year or so, I realize I have WAY too much going on in my life. How did it sneak up on me? When and why did I sign up for all of this? How can I possibly "wear" this many "hats"? Definitely not all at once. Wow, I think I need a bigger hat rack...

wife to Zeke
mother to Gabe
mother to Zoe
mother to Kaia
mother to Beck 
(all four "mother" hats are very different and separate)
daughter
friend
aunt
sister
niece
chauffeur
chef
maid
laundress
seamstress
shopper
picture taker
referee
home decorator
event planner
meal planner
errand runner
bill payer
budget maker
book club member x 2
pampered chef consultant
art volunteer at school
literacy volunteer at school
Room Mom for Kaia's class
busy "church calling person"
cat owner x 3
aquarium owner
book reader
movie watcher
blogger
"facebooker"
"not even close to professional, but wanna be" organizer
"wanna be" crafter/DIYer
"wanna be" author
"wanna be" college graduate
weirdo (all encompassing emotionally, physically, and mentally... I'm out there.)
oh, and Beck says, "UNO player"

I'm sure there's more...

I wonder what all of these hats would actually look like?? 
That's fun to think about... I may have to expound on that later.

Life is good. It really is, just BUSY. Can one be too busy? YES. What to give up? I'm not sure.

Some "hats" I love TOO much to even consider giving up... others "hats" I have to wear and I'm proud of it... other "hats" I want to wear more often, but keep them hanging on the rack just in case I get a chance to wear them later.

What are your favorite "hats"? How do you balance your time in "wearing" them? What would you say NO to? How do you say NO?

Well, I can't say NO to another round of UNO...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Elijah's Cup

FYI: In Judaism, Elijah's cup, is the fifth ceremonial cup of wine poured during the family Seder dinner on Passover (PesaŠł•). It is left untouched in honour of Elijah, who, according to tradition, will arrive one day as an unknown guest to herald the advent of the Messiah. During the Seder dinner, biblical verses are read while the door is briefly opened to welcome Elijah, who, it is further said, will resolve all controversial questions connected with the Law. In this way the Seder dinner not only commemorates the historical redemption from Egyptian bondage of the Jewish people but also calls to mind their future redemption when Elijah and the Messiah shall appear. (info from www.britannica.com)

I am currently reading a book of the same, fitting name, "Elijah's Cup". Normally, I wouldn't blog about a book until I'm finished reading it, but this one is too good to wait. I'm a little over halfway finished and I feel like this book has changed the way I think and given me priceless knowledge and insight into two very misunderstood and at times "invisible" disorders: High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome.
Elijah's Cup: A Family's Journey into the Community and Culture of High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome

I found this book completely by "coincidence". One of my favorite quotes from Jeffrey R. Holland says, "A coincidence is just a small miracle in which God choose to remain anonymous." Finding this book was honestly no coincidence and in fact, has been an answer to years and years of prayers and questions.  At church a few weeks ago, our teacher was talking about the prophet Elijah and mentioned she has an animated bible DVD of the story of Elijah that her kids really enjoy. Thinking I might like to get this DVD for my kids, I went home and decided to google "Elijah". In addition to the DVD (which ended up being really great by the way)... I found THIS book!

I'm not exatlty sure where I want to go with this blog post...

Let me first say that I feel completely inadequate and somewhat unworthy to speak of something that I really don't know much about compared to some people. Please forgive my ignorance.

To me, the book is absolutely fascinating and at times, heart-wrenching. In her own words, the author tells her journey of raising a child with Autism.  I'm amazed at her emotional strength, courage, and honesty. I've been inspired by her "fight" to help her son, Elijah, have all she can get in order for him to have the best life possible and at the same time try to keep herself sane and functioning in a world that just does not understand what they are going through.

I thought of several friends and family members I know who are dealing with some sort of  Autism Spectrum Disorder, like Asperger's Syndrome. This book helps shed light on what it's like to be Autistic and care for someone who is. Valerie's son, Elijah, is autistic and she has a good friend who is diagnosed later in life with Asperger's Syndrome (AS). 

I'll let you know more after I finish reading it, but I think everyone who reads this book will be better informed and feel a greater sense of compassion for what people affected by Autism are going through. You never know who might be affected by some type of Autism. So many people go throughout their entire lives never being formally diagnosed. Autism Spectrum Disorders can be very difficult to diagnose -- sometimes only certain situations and stimuli can trigger symptoms. Many people also have a combination of disorders -- making it hard to distinguish which disorder is  causing what symptoms. For example, many people with Asperger's Syndrome also have Sensory Processing Disorder.

My desire is to understand more about these disorders so I can help my family. I have believed for a very long time that members of my own family might have Asperger's Syndrome and probably other disorders layered on top of it. Much to my dismay, there has been no formal diagnosis. Maybe I haven't fought for that as hard as I should. However, that opens up a new "can of worms" for me, so to speak. Sometimes I think it might be better not to have a formal diagnosis, a "label", if you will, specifically in the case of Asperger's Syndrome. 

Many people live very successful and fairly normal lives with Asperger's Syndrome; Temple Grandin being one of them, but the lifelong social repercussions are hard to quantify and are more valuable to me than worldly success. I don't want the "label" to be an excuse for the behaviors and issues nor do I want it to be a hindrance or stigma. Temple Grandin struggled for a long time without help or support. Behavioral therapy is the best help for people with AS and other disorders. In order to get professional help (as far as I know), you need a diagnosis. 

Herein lies my quandary.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering

Today is a good day even though I'm tired. My lovely black she-cat, Nora, somehow evaded the bedtime "putting out in the garage routine" and I woke to the sound of her meowing in my face FOUR times last night! Every time I would get up to let her out, she'd run away somewhere in the house and I was too tired to look for her. Blah.

Wow, I just thought of that definition of insanity quote again from Albert Einstein. It's incredible to me how much that quote applies in my life. If I would think about it and change how I'm doing something I know my life would be very different. (As in, I could have gotten more sleep last night!)

In case you've never heard this fabulous quote, here it is:

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."

It is SO profound to me. Amazingly simple, but miraculously effective. 

Last night, for example, I could have taken the time to find Nora once and put her out... done. Instead, I half-heartedly chased her from the bedroom, looked in the kitchen a bit and mumbled all the way back to my bed, only to do it all over again three more times during the night. Oh dear. Don't you feel like a different person when you're tired? I do.

Anyway, last night our family went to the Brigham City Temple open house. The temple is GORGEOUS. If you haven't been, there's a peach blossom motif throughout. Brigham City is famous for its peaches. Peach blossoms on the doorknobs, light fixtures, molding, and stained glass. Beautiful.

It was fun to see a few friends there (Heidi and Brandy)! We were hoping to meet another friend there -- thanks for the invite, Matt and Steph! But we had the opportunity to go with some other friends of ours and we had a really great time -- thanks, Karthik and Amrita!:)

My older two children weren't too thrilled about going and my younger two couldn't wait to get there -- not a good combination. Anyway, I'm glad we went. It was lovely. We went, right? I loved seeing all of the people there -- lots of children, old people, young people, black people, white people, and everything in between. But, I didn't even get any pictures :( Sheesh!

Afterwards, we went out for Chinese food with Karthik and Amrita. Do you love reading about the Chinese Zodiac? I do. Turns out, Amrita and I are both rabbits AND born in March. I thought that was cool. She's fun and very easy to be with and sarcastic and loves cookies -- my kind of girl! Karthik and Zeke work together. That is how we met. My kids think they are both very cool. That is a big thing!

I love people. I love getting to know people better. I love laughing. I love second chances. I love understanding and relating to people. I love being happy and looking for the good in life. 

Today is September 11th... I just keep thinking about it. I feel rather pensive today. Kind of somber and reflective. 

One of my friends, Brickell, said on Facebook this morning, "Isn't it amazing how you can remember exactly where you were, what you were doing and who you were with 11 years ago today. So sad:("

Another friend, Dave, said: "Eleven years ago today, we all built memories that we

 would rather not have, but will never forget."


It's hard for me to grasp that it has really been eleven years since that terrible day. I remember it so vividly. We had just moved back to Logan from Colorado a few weeks earlier. Gabe was starting preschool and Zoe was a baby. Zeke and I were getting Gabe ready for school and for some reason we had the news on. I remember watching the breaking news of some "random" accident. A plane had crashed into the North tower of the World Trade Center. It was an awful tragic "accident". As we sat there and watched the live news feed from the television reporter, a second plane suddenly came into view and instantly crashed into the south tower....

At that moment, our world changed forever. At that moment, I cried out to Zeke, just as we both came to the same horrifying conclusion, "This was NO accident!" I remember being SO afraid. Wanting to call my family, run and hide and never come out of my house again. I remember clinging tightly to Zoe and grabbing Gabe and just holding them. Wondering what kind of world I had brought my children into. Will there be a future for them? Crying and crying and not wanting Zeke to leave my sight. I remember thinking for awhile that day, "This is it. This could be the end of the world." Seriously. It was the end of the world as we knew it. 

As the events of that day unfolded, the attack on the Pentagon and the brave passengers of the ill-fated Flight 93, I was truly in shock. So many haunting images and unbelievable stories. I remember needing to go the post office for some reason and there was a huge line there. Everyone was pale-looking, huddled in small groups, talking quietly about the awful events of the day. Everyone knew. Everyone was affected. I remember getting a notice with my receipt. Something about the US postal service is unable to guarantee delivery at this time because of the terrorist attacks earlier that morning. I still have that paper somewhere. That paper spelled it out clearly to me. 

It really happened. It wasn't some horrible nightmare. It was REAL. All of those poor innocent people that died and those that gave their lives trying to help others were REAL. They had families and friends, futures, hopes, and dreams. I just cannot seem to wrap my head around it still. 

Somehow, being at the temple last night gave me peace as I thought of the anniversary today. Eternal lives. Eternal families. This life is but a small moment compared to eternity. 

I remember shortly after 9/11 someone speaking about the fallen firefighters, police officers, and others and referencing John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

I hope that all of us can remember that day and try to be a better person. More loving, more forgiving, more patient, more friendly, more compassionate, more willing to help others, and more thoughtful. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

29 Secrets to Happiness

29 Secrets to Happiness:
  1. Live beneath your means and within your seams.
  2. Return everything you borrow.
  3. Donate blood.
  4. Give all the clothes that you haven't worn in the last three years to charity.
  5. Stop blaming other people.
  6. Every day do something nice and try not to get caught.
  7. Admit when you make a mistake.
  8. Listen more and talk less.
  9. Every day take a 30 minute walk in your neighborhood.
  10. Skip a meal a week and donate the money you saved.
  11. Strive for excellence, not perfection.
  12. Be on time.
  13. Don't make excuses.
  14. Get organized.
  15. Be kind to people.
  16. Be even kinder to unkind people.
  17. Let someone cut ahead of you in line.
  18. Take time to be alone.
  19. Read a favorite book.
  20. Cultivate good manners.
  21. Be humble.
  22. Understand and accept that life isn't always fair.
  23. Know when to say something.
  24. Know when to keep your mouth shut.
  25. Don't criticize anyone for 24 hours.
  26. Learn from the past, plan for the future, and live in the present.
  27. Don't sweat the small stuff.
  28. Try to smile at everyone you pass by.
  29. Make this year the best yet!
*Thanks to the 12th Ward Relief Society (women's group in our church) for giving me this great list.

Wow. There are SO many things on this list I need to work on. Some are hard for me to admit that I need to work on, but they are blaring off the page from all of the rest! The "physical" things are so much easier for me to actually DO; give clothes to charity, take a walk, let someone cut in line. It's SO much harder to quantify the "mental" things and go about DOING them; stop blaming people, don't make excuses, be humble, accept that life isn't fair. 

You can tell someone, "Yeah, I gave a bunch of clothes to charity today", but how do you explain, "Well, today I finally accepted that fact that life isn't fair and boy, I feel great!" It doesn't work that way... or does it? I think the mental things are more like tracking your progress... doing a little better each day. The mental things are the ones I need to work on.

I'm going to pick two each week to work on. When I get to the end I'll start over. I'll try my best and hopefully over time I can develop some better habits. I want to be a better person. I feel like Satan is really working on me lately. I have to constantly keep a prayer in my heart to do what is right and to have the Spirit with me.

Another quote I really like from Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Don't judge me because I sin differently than you." I find myself thinking things like, "Well, at least I don't do THAT or I would never do THIS!" And you know, I'm justifying my poor behavior by weighing it against the behavior of others that I consider "worse". Yeah, I'm a real piece of work. A work in progress. :)

I just wanted to share this list with all of you and I hope it will help you be happier. No secrets here!

Here's a picture of Beck from our camping trip this weekend:
This was BEFORE he got into all the dirt -- he had SO much fun! 
I've never seen a kid play in the dirt like he did.

P.S. My stomach is churning and my hands are sweating.... right at this moment, our buyers are supposedly at the title company signing the papers to FINALLY close on our house!! Oh, I hardly dare get my hopes up... it might really happen! :) Maybe I can finally sleep at night.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Just one of those days...

I had this really inspiring blog post in my head a couple days ago... but not today. Today I just feel so off. Sad. Tired. Bummed. Tired. Misunderstood. Tired. Angry. Tired. Regretful. Tired. Resentful. Tired. I just can't stop crying today. It's just one of those days, I guess. Do you ever have days like that?

I did have a great bit of morning with my dear friends. It's been way too long since we got together. If only I wasn't interrupted every 5 minutes by my DUMB cell phone! I feel like I'm running a small company as of late, trying to sell a house and build another one. Wow, as soon as we close, at least half the phone calls will end, right? I cannot begin to express how tired I am of all the phone calls!!!

I feel so put upon by some people. (Don't worry, it's not you. I KNOW these few people I'm referring to don't read my blog.) I'm not even sure what I mean by that. I just feel like I should have it more together than I do. Three of my kids are back in school and one of them has preschool a few days a week. Do you know how short 2-1/2 hours really are? I spent most of that in the car today, because I'm just so whacked out busy and our life is so chaotic, I kinda forgot that middle school has late start on Wednesdays and I just found out this morning that high school also has late start (when my son arrived over an HOUR early!!) At least no one was late, right? However, the teenage grumblings of what could have been an extra 30 minutes of sleeping in are even more annoying! And NOW I have two! OY!!!  

Dear Mom, I am so sorry for being such a horrible, grumpy, emotional, ungrateful, and disobedient teenager. Please, PLEASE, Take your curse back!!!!!!! Please. Really, you are awesome. I don't think I will survive. (I can hear you laughing even 4 hours away. Stop. It's making me laugh and I don't want to laugh, not yet, I'm not sure if it's funny yet!)

I just feel so lame. So lost. So behind. So uninformed. So inefficient. So incapable. Yet everything and everyone in our house depends on ME. Our entire house runs only because of me. And it doesn't run very well, mind you! 

Last night I just felt so awful. Sick awful. By 5pm, I was so completely exhausted that I literally couldn't move. It didn't go over too well. Everyone was floundering at my feet. Mom's sick??? What do we do? This happens occasionally. I just overdo it. I didn't save enough "spoons" to get through the day. 

I just feel broken today. I'm so glad I have a blog just for this reason. I can type away until my heart's content and no one even has to listen (or read) and I don't have to schedule it around my life (sort of) or feel embarrassed about what I say or worry if I'm imposing on someone else's time. I feel like everything is my fault and there's nothing I can do about it. Bleh. 

Do you ever feel like that whole "Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus" thing is really true?  Sometimes I feel like my husband and I are SO different that we aren't even from the same universe! I love him dearly, I do. It's just hard. We just don't speak the same language sometimes or something?! Honey, I love you. Thanks for sitting by me and for the popsicles last night. :) Honestly, I am a wreck. Did I tell you I'm tired?

My little Beck is home from preschool and he's been so patient. Thank you, Netflix!

On a good note, Beck and Kaia were taking pictures with my phone yesterday and in one of them I saw the book that Gabe has been looking for. It was in the picture! How cool is that? We've looked everywhere for it. I hope it's still there.

Also..... drum roll please........ our buyers texted me this morning.... it looks like we might actually for real be closing on FRIDAY! I don't dare believe it yet or let myself get excited, but just in case, I'm thinking about blasting "Friday, I'm in love" from the CURE on Friday, because of course, that is THE day you play that song for whatever good events may be happening that day. I'm tired. I cannot imagine this being real. I'm going to check my text messages to make sure.


Post Script

Just wanted to let you know how the end of my day was... I got in the car and started my usual round of school pick-ups. When I picked up Gabe, he asked if I could drop him off at home before I picked up Zoe. It's on the way, so I did. When I got home, I walked into the kitchen and Gabe said, "Mama, I got you some ice cream!!!" I said, "What??" He replied, "I just thought you might like some, I know you haven't been feeling well..."
Poor kid. He truly had NO idea what kind of day (or days) I've had. I haven't even really told you half of all that's been going on. Well, I just crumpled to the floor in tears. I don't think he knew what to do. I was so happy. I hugged him and thanked him and hugged him again. Gabe was SO sweet. I cannot convey to you how significant this small act of kindness is. Right NOW. From HIM. To ME. I will never forget it. There's hope. Never give up.

THEN!!! If that wasn't cool enough -- my dear hubby read my blog post and came home early from work with a bouquet of roses! He also fixed dinner and cleaned the kitchen. It was SO thoughtful of him. I really appreciate all that he does for me, especially when I'm not feeling well. Poor guy, didn't know what he was getting into when he married me! :)

Today is a new day....

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Quest for Erszebet

I like unique names. I like learning the meaning of names. We were very thoughtful about the names of our children and their meanings. We wanted to give them a name that could inspire them to be something great. A name they could be proud of.

Earlier this year I was at the temple and I came across a super cool name, Erszebet. Apparently, it is the Hungarian form of Elizabeth. I am SO in love with it! I came home and told Zeke if we have another baby and it's a girl, I'm going to name her Erszebet. It's so beautiful and unique. Elizabeth means "God's oath" or "God's abundance". Unfortunately, Zeke didn't hear anything past "if we have another baby".

No, we're done on that front as far as I know, but I just knew I needed to name someone or something Erszebet. I even told my good friend, Jessica, who was expecting at the time, that she should name her daughter Erszebet... well, she didn't. (It's okay, Jess! I have another idea.)

So then, I thought: a CAT. Of course!! We need to get another cat and I'll name her Erszebet. Only problem? Zeke stopped me at the "another cat" part and he's right. We already have three!

Then, it came to me. My sweet Mommy got a new car years ago. Her first brand new car ever. She was SO excited! So excited, in fact, she decided to name her new "baby". The name she chose? MOONLIGHT. Is my Mom cool, or what? :)

So, I remember teaching a Young Women lesson a few years ago about Homemaking and I found this quote: 

“One striking observation we made while in Holland is that the homes in that tiny land have choice personalities. The window sills in those red brick homes with the red tiled roofs are always filled with rows of flower pots—usually containing geraniums. The windows are large—with never a blind or a screen to cover them. These glistening windows add to the sparkle of the home’s personality. Many of the homes are named. Above the door you might see names such as: Sunny Corner, Sunbeam, Sun Cottage, Peace Haven, Tranquility, or Peaceful Nook. … Warmth and sunshine and pleasantness, together with peace and tranquility and contentment! These are the things which make a house a home” (Daryl V. Hoole, The Art of Homemaking [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1967], pp. 117–18).

I was SO fascinated by this concept of naming your home. It just spoke to me. I thought and thought about what I would name our home and what color the sign would be and how it would be so cool and change our life forever.... ??? Yeah, I have a BIG imagination. Still no name for our old house up to the day we moved in June.

Now you can see where all of this "chain thinking" and loquaciousness might be going, right? Anyway, when we decided in April to build a home, I thought, "I'm going to be just like the people in Holland (I mean most of my ancestors are Scandinavian, that's kind of the same thing, right? Sorry to all the Dutch and Scandinavian people if I've offended you!). I'm going to name my house." 
The name will be (big surprise here...)

ERSZEBET

If anything, this opportunity is an absolute miracle and has shown us "God's abundance" and for that, we are truly blessed!

I even considered doing an entire blog "The Quest for Erszebet", but no, I can barely keep up on one blog. I also don't want to count my chickens before they hatch, so to speak. If I post about the house, just look for Erszebet in the title.

Here is a sketch from the builder that looks a bit like what Erszebet will look like. (Kind of like an ultrasound before the baby?!?!?!?) Yeah, I'm a freak. Anyway, we've done quite a few changes to it and I'm thinking (today, at least) it's going to be grey with red brick and a black door and black shutters and a big robin egg blue sign that reads, "Erszebet" right above the door:


cute, isn't she?

It has been a bumpy road, though, waiting for the sale of our old home to go through. I came across a really great quote yesterday in the June 2012 Ensign from Elder Neal A. Maxwell, 


"The issue for us is trusting God enough to trust also His timing. If we can truly believe He has our welfare at heart, may we not let His plans unfold as He thinks best?"

The lady that wrote the article, Carolynn Spencer, then said, "My desire to alter the Lord's timing had been the cause of my anguish."

Wow. Okay. I do trust God. I think I do. I hope I do. I need to sit back and watch it unfold.

I need to be patient... 

Friday, August 24, 2012

FOUR

Four Children
Four Different Schools
Four Back to School Nights
Four years old -- Beck wants to be older SO bad!!
Four + Two = the number of hours until I need to go pick up the kids from school
Four - One = the number of cats in our house :)
Four x Four = Sixteen = the number of years Zeke and I have been married (he just reminded me!:)
Four months since I have blogged!
Four months to the day until Christmas Eve!
Four months until our house is finished (that is, once they start...)
Four + Four = the number of weeks we have been waiting for the loan to close on our house (not including the four weeks standard wait after the offer was signed).
Four = the number of days left until we close (I hope!)

Four books I'm trying to read right now:
  • "Hunger Games" (finally, I know! Thanks, Tawnya)
  • "Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy"
  • "To the Rescue" Thomas S. Monson Biography
  • "Throne of Fire" -- number two in the Kane Chronicles series from Rick Riordan
Four things on my grocery list:
  • Black fingernail polish (Zoe and Kaia's request)
  • Dreyer's Coconut Bars (a family favorite)
  • Coriander (I need it for my pulled pork recipe)
  • Honeycomb cereal (Gabe's request)
Four things I miss about my old house:
  • Lora
  • My yard
  • Four bedrooms
  • Neighborhood kids
Four things I should be doing instead of blogging:
  • Laundry
  • Dishes
  • Trim Beck's nails
  • Clean litter boxes
Four minutes = how much longer I can spend on the computer until Beck has a meltdown...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

How I spent my summer "vacation"

Swimming
lots of swimming
Sweating
I feel like I've been melting all summer
Crying
this summer has been hard
Correcting
all I need is a whistle and a black and white striped shirt!
Comforting
leaving our home of 9 years has been hard on the kids and cats (and me) - Zeke is a rock!
Changing
Cleaning
TOO MUCH cleaning and I'm sure it's not enough. 
Thanks, Lora!
Packing
Un-packing
Praying
Pleading
Pricing
Pondering
Planning
Phone-calling
Emailing
Meeting new people
More phone-calling
More emailing
Buying LOTS of popsicles
Watching "Cake Boss"
(and sorry to say, lots of Dinosaur Train and Pound Puppies -- "Fuhget aboud it!")
Buying cake 
(notice I didn't say baking)
Watching "The Adventures of Merlin"
if only I could look like Morgana and not BE like Morgana!
Having LOTS of picnics
Hiking
Spelunking
Going to the fair
Thinking
Wishing 
Hoping 
Dreaming
Stressing
Obsessing
Waiting
Waiting
Waiting
Waiting
Just surviving
 and LAUNDRY
oh, the laundry -- especially towels!
Oh, I did NOT do any yard work! Bonus :)
A summer to remember, but glad to be through it really.
What did I miss the most?
the things I need the most:
Good friends
Good books

How did you spend YOUR summer vacation?
(Man, I hope I get an A on this!)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Blogging is cheaper than therapy...

It's been almost 4 months since I've posted on my blog. I'll backtrack later (maybe).

All I know is that it has been 4 months of CRAZY.

In a nutshell, we are (hopefully) building a home. Yes, I can hardly believe it. More details about that later.

Somewhere around the first of May, I felt like I didn't need to blog anymore, like it was just one extra thing to take away what little free time I don't have. I actually unpublished my blog for awhile... just didn't want to mess with it during the move and I was having issues with the idea that anyone could read it. Well, obviously I'm past that now.

Suddenly, I regret not keeping a blog during all of this insanity. To go back and remember and laugh and look how far we've come...

I've come to a realization. Blogging helps keep me sane. Blogging helps me vent and purge all of those crazy thoughts and fears I have at 3am. Blogging helps my husband get more sleep at night. Blogging helps me be nicer to my children. Really. It sounds like a contradiction, but I need to MAKE time to blog. I need to create and think and have somewhere to put my thoughts -- and I'm NOT talking about "to-do" lists! It's good for me. :) There. Done.

Today, by the way, is the first day of school for my 3rd grader and HIGH SCHOOL Freshman..... What the??

My 6th grader starts tomorrow and my preschooler starts Monday.

I'll post pictures later...

Things I've learned in the last 4 months:

  • We are selling our house --- just because you have an offer on your house doesn't mean it is actually sold.
  • When you move from a neighborhood and more specifically from a ward (group in Church) -- you find out FAST who your real friends are.
  • All of our belongings fit quite comfortably in a 1000 square foot apartment. Huh. And we're moving because.... well, because we feel like we are supposed to, because we want a more functional floorplan, because (hopefully) we sold our house.
  • It's better to laugh than to cry; crying gives me a headache. (I think Marjorie Hinckley said this, but I know it is so true.)
  • Peppermint Oil works great for a headache. Rub it on your forehead, temples, and the back of your neck.
  • In general, I like things to be quiet -- unless people are laughing.
  • People can change. (I hope that includes me.)
  • Zoe, my 11 year old daughter, is one of my best friends.
  • Cats are the "gateway conversation" with a teenager. ALWAYS. Cats are comforting. Cats are quiet for the most part, much quieter than children or dogs. Cats are funny. Cats make me smile. Cats make everyone in our house smile. Smiling is a good thing. However, I don't like cats sleeping on my face!
  • I like structure. More than I realized.
  • I have a shopping habit. I like to buy stuff. I even like to buy groceries... sick, I know.
  • I like hiking and swimming and sitting under the trees at Merlin Olsen Park.
  • Being a parent to a 14 yr old boy, 11 yr old girl, 8 yr old girl, and 4 yr old boy is HARD. I have to interact with each one in a completely different way and usually all at the same time. I still haven't figured out how to do this effectively.
  • I also like playing Mario Kart on the Wii. I come in last place every time, but hey, it's fun.
  • Zeke and I are getting older... good older, but just older. It's so weird... I remember having a major crush on him when I was in 8th grade and he was in 10th...
  • Zeke is SO patient with me. WOW! Honey, I'm hoping by resuming my blog you can have some peace.
I could go on and on...but last of all I've learned that I need to blog! In the last 4 months I've had several people ask about my blog and it's meant so much to me. Thanks! I've missed you.

Monday, April 30, 2012

What wagon?

Hey friends, How are you? The weather has been LOVELY here (Wow, I wrote this part EARLY last week) and it just makes me happy.

You know when someone is trying to stop a bad habit, like eating, or smoking, or um... shopping and when they have a bad day (or four) they say well, I've "fallen off the wagon" or do they say they're "back on the wagon"? I can never remember...

Anyway, just wanted to confess that I've been shopping just a *bit*. Yes, of course I know all about my "NO SHOPPING CHALLENGE". Let's just say I'm doing better than I used to. Does that count? I'm planning to, I think it is, "get back on the wagon" TODAY. I just feel like I need to confess...

I'll list my stuff later... I've been busy with Pampered Chef and it has been SO fun. I really like running a business and choosing my own hours and seeing people excited about the products and well, a little extra money is always nice, right? I think I'm giddy from a bit of spare change in my pocket...

Okay.... I'm finishing this post in two days...

I'm back. Today, I woke up with a bit of a cold/allergies... I'm trying to clean my house, but it just feels so much nicer to sit down.

Okay, here I am confessing.... I'm going to add all of these "confessions" to my list as well.

On Gabe's birthday (has it been THAT long since I blogged? about shopping? probably.) I just HAD to find a green scarf to go with the skirt I was wearing that day before we went out to dinner. And now, I'm having serious buyer's remorse about it. It just wasn't what I was looking for, but it was only $4. I can move on.

Remember how I said I was going to give myself permission to buy a new white shirt? Well, I did. So that's "okay". It was on sale for $15 and I really like it. I liked it so much, I bought another one just like it, only turquoise..... oops. Another $15. I'll spare you the pictures, because, well, there was this gray sweater thingy I found on clearance that just goes so well with BOTH of them. It was only $12. I "NEEDED" a few things to update my wardrobe, okay?

And then, last week, I went to the thrift store looking for a bike for Zoe. She's all legs right now and her old one is just bruising her knees every time she pedals.  So, I found a great bike for $30 (I'm not confessing this nor counting it as part of my "NO SHOPPING" -- this is okay shopping, but I'm just telling you why I was at the thrift store in the first place.) So my first mistake was "just looking" at the shoes...

And this is what I came home with: ($4 each!) You should have seen the purse I put back... the clerk thought I was nuts... I'm mumbling to myself, "okay, you can't get everything... put the purse back, good girl... ohhhh." I have enjoyed the shoes SO much... is it sad or wrong just how much a new pair of shoes can make you so happy? No, I don't think it is either.

Okay, and then my dear friend, Tawnya, gave me THE most adorable skirts... she is so good to me. And well, one of them is this lovely tangerine color and I just happened to be in Seagull Book looking at scriptures for Kaia's upcoming baptism and I found this scarf:  Let me just say it was only $5, people!! They have LOTS of different colors.... you should go get one (or two).
 It's kind of a swirly Creamsicle color with embroidered flowers...
Okay, maybe it doesn't really go with this shirt, but I was trying to hurry with the picture. By the way, the other day, I asked Zeke, "Do you honestly think I dress frumpy? I just don't know sometimes." Being the good and wise husband he is, he said, "No, not frumpy, maybe wacky, but I like it." Wacky is good.
I love the fringe at the bottom (see my skirt!!)

 And then, last month, I ordered a really cute custom sign from my good friend, Sharon. I love the saying. I'm going to chalk this one up into the "self-help/therapy" category. It's hanging in my living room and I truly love reading it every time I walk by.

and well, I just HAD to get this cute little bird to go with it...

I think I spent $20 for both. Her shop is called "Paisley Cinnamon" on Etsy -- you will LOVE it!


Okay, so if my math is right.... I think that's $83... what the!!!!!!!!! YIKES. That looks really bad all totaled up like that. Mind you, this has been over the last two months. You know, I kinda hope Zeke doesn't read this post... when I fall off the wagon, I really fall and hit the ground HARD (with my head, I think). But after the shoe spree, I promised myself I would get back on the wagon and stay there. Oh man,  other than the green scarf, I enjoyed every $79 I spent. Okay, carry on.

P.S. I just wanted to share a WONDERFUL blog post written by my dear friend, Lora. I think this is an important one to read. There are so many couples out there struggling with infertility. Past and present and beyond. Lora is truly amazing... go check out her blog, you will love it!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

THE most important job...

I remember LONG ago saying I was going to post this poem as soon as I found it...
I've been praying to find it because I always feel better when I read it OFTEN and I wanted to share it with my fellow MOMMIES:

The most important job in the world
 doesn't offer an hourly wage
 or days off
 or paid vacations.
But it does offer real feelings,
shining faces,
bedtime stories,
small victories,
priceless memories,
and many wonderful moments of joy...
Always remember,
there's no more important job in this world
than the one you do every day with all your heart.

On Facebook the other day, my friend Bree, said this: "I find so much strength, yet so much insanity through my kids. (Ironic how that goes) I love them each for different reasons, & each gives me a gift that no other can give."

Being a Mother is without question,
 THE hardest and THE most rewarding thing you will ever do. 









In spite of all the chaos, tears, empty bank account, and messy house...
it's completely worth it, 
because it can also be SO MUCH FUN!

This is one of my all-time favorite songs that never fails to lift my spirits, especially on this rainy day.


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