Saturday, August 2, 2014

Just some random thoughts and TWO major announcements!

Hello out there, I haven't been blogging much lately. I was just enjoying my friend's blog, Thoughts and then some, and thought I would pop over to mine and see if I felt any little blogging urges of my own.

We're just sitting here all cuddled up watching "Fantastic Four" -- kind of a random movie... but we all like superhero stuff and it's really hard to find a movie that 4 kids ranging in age from 6 to 16 all enjoy. I like Mr. Fantastic, he reminds me of  my sweetie, Zeke.

Can I just tell you how grateful I am for my friends? We were able to attend the baptism of my friend's son this morning and it was such a great day. I was just sitting there all warm and fuzzy inside, just enjoying being with everyone and realizing how special these fabulous women are to me. I hope I'm not too needy, but I feel like they are my adopted sisters in a way... I'll try not to suffocate you guys too much, but man, I love you! They know the real me, you know, I'm FINE (Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional) and for some reason, they put up with me and even seem to like me and laugh at my dumb jokes.

Well, I don't know if anyone out there enjoys my blog, but I do. It is SO fun to go back and see what we were doing last summer or two Christmases ago... I guess a journal can do that too, but it's just fun to see the pictures with it and to read all the funny stuff my kids say that usually gets forgotten by the time I do a journal entry. So many things I'd forgotten -- I was reminded today how important it is to me to take time to blog.

Well, as for the TWO MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENTS! Yes, I guess I like to be dramatic and no, it's nothing new if you're my friend on Facebook, but I haven't put them on my blog yet.

Wow, I'm not sure which one to share first -- both are quite extraordinary!

okay, #1 -- WE GOT A DOG!!!!!!! :) I've wanted a dog since Gabe was 5 and well, the planets aligned and now, our family has grown by one.
Meet Odin:
He is THE sweetest little dog. We are absolutely smitten with him. We adopted him from the local shelter. He's about 2 years old and a the shelter says he's a Jack Russell? terrier?/chihuahua? mix (anyway, a little mutt. :)
Even the cats don't mind... too much.

and #2 -- it's been 15 YEARS, but I'm going back to school in just 23 days. (I'm just a *little* excited.) I'm going to get a Bachelor's Degree in Biology. You know my Miss Frizzle dream??? Well, I'm going to make it come true. I went to the store today to get school supplies for my kids and I realized I needed some for myself! I was so giddy I might have squealed just a bit. :)

Anyway.... until later. 

PS Little random dinner ideas -- we've been making grilled cheese sandwiches, but with mozzarella cheese, a bit of pizza sauce, and pepperoni -- like a Pizza sandwich. It's really good! Also, Beck suggested one day we should spread salsa on our grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and guess what? They were YUMMY.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mrs. Hendricksen's Soup

Mrs. Hendricksen's Soup

My second grade teacher was Mrs. Hendricksen. She had thick glasses and bright lipstick and always let us play on her bookshelves with our stuffed animals and dolls during recess. Lots of kids thought she was mean for some reason, but I loved her. She also taught us how to make this soup. She had each child bring a different ingredient and she brought a little portable cooktop and a big soup pot. We made soup right in class and we got to eat it just because! She sent the recipe home with us and my Mom made it often. I thought it was so cool she made MY teacher's soup. Now, it's a favorite in my family. I always make it when I take dinner to someone because: it's easy to make, I usually have all of the ingredients on hand, and it makes great leftovers. 

6-8 cups beef broth (depends on how thick you want it)
6-8 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups carrots, sliced
1 onion, diced
1 - 1 1/2 cups corn (fresh, frozen, or canned)
1 - 1 1/2 cups green beans (fresh, frozen, or canned)
1 can condensed tomato soup (DO NOT add water)
1 cup chopped red cabbage (optional)
1 cup chopped parsnips (optional)
1-2 lbs. seasoned (I use Lawry's seasoned salt and garlic) ground meat (beef, turkey, pork, elk, etc.), browned and drained 
salt and pepper to taste

Brown and drain meat. Set aside (keep on low heat). Bring broth to boil, add potatoes, onion, carrots, parsnips, and cabbage. Cook until vegetables are tender. Add meat, tomato soup, corn, and green beans to vegetable/broth mixture. Heat through. 

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Cream of Broccoli Soup
This is my Mom's recipe, it's really easy to make and so yummy. It freezes well too.

4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs. fresh broccoli (4 cups frozen)
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. dry mustard
2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Salt, pepper, garlic, dill, thyme, or chives to taste (whatever you like)

In a 8 qt. stock pot, bring broth to boil and add broccoli and onions, cook until tender. In a sauce pan, melt butter, whisk in flour and mustard. Slowly add milk, cooking and whisking until thickened. Add mixture to broccoli broth. Add cheese; heat until melted. 

Serve with garlic bread, rolls, or even grilled cheese sandwiches -- we love to dunk them in the soup!

A few hints:
I always use the Pampered Chef Mini-whipper to whip or whisk the cream mixture -- it's the best for preventing lumps. There's probably similar ones from other brands, but I haven't checked. Also, After I cook the broccoli and onions, I mash them with a potato masher before adding the cream mixture.

If you want more of a vegetable-cheese soup, you can add cubed potatoes and sliced carrots along with the broccoli and onions, cook until tender. 

I'll try to add a picture later...

We are having really random cold weather for June -- soup sounds good right about now.

Monday, April 28, 2014

This blondie has a lot of back story...

I don't know why, but I just keep thinking about blogging the last few weeks. Maybe it's because school is almost over or maybe because I just finished up coaching an Odyssey of the Mind Team (science/art/drama club thingy) that I've been working with since November.

I don't know if I have more free time necessarily, but at least my mind feels a tiny bit less cluttered, although FULL.

I always have so much I want to say. Too much to put on Facebook and not always the right platform to do so.

I posted a status a few weeks ago about my feelings concerning Mormon Olympians who also happen to be mothers of small children. I think we had a fairly good "discussion", but I'm still trying to remember the advice "not to ask a question I don't really want to hear the answer to". There was a lot of anger and misunderstanding brewing underneath the surface of some of the comments. Combine that with my "somewhat vague" explanation of what was really on my mind and it made for a bit of a mess as far as I was concerned. Anyway, I got to the point where I didn't want to hear any more, so I deleted my post. Ha! I love having control like that. It just wasn't going where I wanted it to go and I was tired of trying to explain to everyone what I really meant.

It's taken me 3 weeks to figure out why I'm was so bugged with the idea of a young mother spending all that time training for an Olympic sport. It's been a good time for me to really think about myself and analyze why I feel so strongly. It was a good opportunity for self-reflection and re-evaluating my life. That being said -- everyone has a different life: background, abilities, experiences, children, husband, vocation, desires, etc, etc, etc.

So, here's an important realization I came to while chatting with a dear friend about it: no one can really understand where I'm coming from and why I think and feel the way I do  -- so, it just goes to show me I can't ever truly understand why these Olympic athletes choose to do what they do. No matter how anyone tries to explain it to me, no matter how amazing they are, no matter how many people love them. That means nothing to me -- you can definitely love someone and not agree with or support what they do. So, that's not the point I was trying to make.

I'm not even sure what point I was trying to make... I think I just wanted to express my feelings "out loud" and see if anyone understood or felt the same as I do. Again, I realize now, that no one can feel the same as another person. There are simply too many factors that make up their opinions.

My life experiences have made me feel a certain way: basically, I think women should do all they can to be there for their children - even at the expense of sacrificing (or at least putting on hold) some of their own dreams and aspirations. Why? Well, after watching my sister suffer through 4 years of cancer and then actually succumb to it, leaving behind 6 children (the youngest was barely 5), it REALLY scared me.

Then, to struggle through years of my own on-going health issues and wake-up calls it makes me realize life is SO SHORT. You never know when your life will be over. I always feel like I need more time. I feel like Heavenly Father is constantly and specifically reminding ME what my mission here on earth truly is -- always pulling me back on course and helping me focus on what truly matters. In a small way, I guess I'm grateful, but ever fearful of the unknown difference between my time frame and God's.

For me, I can't bear to think of really focusing on anything else right now other than spending time with my children and being there when they need me. I don't want any regrets when it comes to my children. I'm selfish too. I want to be there for every milestone and every special occasion. I want to prepare them for the future and hug them and tell them I love them and make sure I've given them all I can.

I remember when Gabe was a baby and I was going to school. Zeke was working full-time and also going to school, so Gabe went to my neighbor's for a few hours every other day while I was in class. It nearly killed me the day I came to pick him up and she said he started crawling for the first time.... I missed it. I know, I know, you may think I'm a bit dramatic and over the top maybe, but I just had to be there.

I tried to balance kids and school for awhile. It wasn't too bad -- I was only taking a couple classes at a time. Then, way back in 2002 when Gabe and Zoe were little, I took them to a different neighbor (who, by the way, came HIGHLY recommended by several women in our church group). To this day, it is still hard for me to talk about what happened. Let's just say this woman must have put on a really good front, but she was truly a wolf in sheep's clothing. A very disturbed woman who shouldn't have anything to do with children -- she desperately needed some help.

I came to pick them up early one day as my chemistry lab finished sooner than the regular time and THANK GOODNESS I did! I pulled up in the driveway and could hear yelling even from outside. The lady's door was open and I could hear her SCREAMING at the top of her lungs through the screen door. My kids were IN there with her!

Without knocking, I marched right in and found Gabe and another child crying and cowering in a corner while she continued to SCREAM at them, shaking her fist at them, and just basically freaking out. Let me remind you, Gabe was only 3. What could a 3 year old possibly do to warrant that type of behavior? What could any child really do to justify something like that? I can't even remember what I said to her, I only remember the look of horror and embarrassment on her face. She didn't even try to apologize or explain.

Then, I looked out the sliding glass doors to find Zoe outside banging on them and crying to get in. Her cheeks were red and blotchy with tears and snot all over her as well as the glass door, indicating she had been locked out alone for who knows how long (possibly two hours?) ... she was only one year old. Those images still haunt me to this day.

I took my kids home and held them and cried for hours. I reported her to the police, but I honestly don't know what happened to her. All I know is, I never went back. Definitely not to her or any other type of child care for that matter. I know there are great child care providers out there, but I've had a hard time trusting anyone with my children ever since.

My heart hurts for those women who have no choice. I'm so grateful I found out sooner than later, but for me, I've never been able to justify leaving them in someone else's care to pursue something unnecessary. It's just not worth it.

Wow, this is what I love about blogging. It's so therapeutic for me. When I sat down awhile ago, I had no idea what I was actually going to blog about, other than I felt like I needed to write and get some feelings out. I always have a lot to say. I'll save more for another time.

If anything, I hope this post helps you understand me a little more. I really don't mean to come across so serious and extreme and condemning in my opinions. I truly think what Noelle Pikus Pace has done is inspiring and positive. However, knowing what I know and going through what I have, I try to explain to myself or justify someone else's behavior and sometimes it just doesn't make sense to me. I can't unknow these things or undo my experiences. They are part of me.

Although drastically different, I know my life is just as positive and inspiring as an Olympic athlete. Mothers come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, backgrounds, lifestyles, abilities, and vocations AND they can all be a positive and loving influence on their children no matter how different they are.

“Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle” ~ J.M. Barrie? (there are so many sources giving different credit for this quote, I'm not sure who really said it first, but it's a good one)

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