Thursday, December 24, 2009

How did this month get away from me so fast?? I promised myself this year, I was NOT going to do anything that stressed me out or I didn't want to I just had lovely takeout for dinner, I only made 2 baked items, didn't send or get presents for many people and I am fine with that.

If I sent out a Christmas card (which I did not), it may look something like this:

Okay so maybe I cheated a little and that was the one I made for my clients (altered a bit). It's the thought that counts. Yes, I think so.

This Christmas I am learning to appreciate, recognize and respect all the beauty and love that surrounds me in so many ways, that same love Jesus has for all of us.
Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Here is what we did this past week at our house....little decorating, snow shoveling (yes, we got snow!)hair cutting, gingerbread house making and always-EATING!

Hannah's favorite christmas item, the snow globe

Sigh of relief *tree is done*

My collection of snowmen have found a home

garland paper tree

the shelves all christmas bling-ed out

Look how happy he is shoveling the driveway!

Look who got her hair cut last week, REALLY short (she loves it!)

Taylor piping some frosting on that gingerbread house

Hannah happily working on her house (they turned out interesting)

can't decorate unless you have lots of frosting and candy!

Four words to tease your tasters: cranberry upside down cake
it was beautiful even if my photograph doesn't capture it.

I have been wanting to try this recipe for awhile but needed an oven proof skillet to do so.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

seattle puzzle

It is officially December 1st and I am starting to feel the winter of the season. Hannah and I sat down the last three days and put together this puzzle, it was really hard. Really. I have never been a jig saw puzzler, just haven't had the attention, focus or patience but I got this one out that my sister gave me a couple years ago and was determined to finish it-after all on Thanksgiving weekend, what else is there to do? I was determined to show the kids to not give up. Hannah hung in there with me, and Taylor had no interest. I have been trying since that kid was a toddler to interest him in puzzles, but I think I get it now, he doesn't like them. Now I'm ready for another one-maybe 1,000 pieces. It is a perfect winter activity, along with reading and crafting...I think I feel those knitting needles calling me.

Maybe this is why I love fall and winter, the coziness of all being nestled inside together, warm and safe. Taylor, Hannah and I had a great time last week making origami "fortune tellers"...remember back in grade school, the little four pocketed pieces of paper that you wrote messages inside and colors on the outside,and put your fingers into? Taylor's "fortunes" were hilarious: from winning a trillion dollars to being eaten by a shark they were very creative. He was the smart one and showed Hannah and I how to make them. Hannah wasn't so interested in the fortunes as the colors and how it looked on the outside.
This weekend is our annual gingerbread house project-this year it's a village. I love buying those kits and not having to attempt to actually making the gingerbread.

Happy December!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I bet after my last rant on traditions you were wondering what my thanksgiving was going to look like?
Well, here is a sneak peek: me cooking by myself with two kids while Mike had a fever, body aches and was overall miserable. Making food all day, setting a table, clearing table and then doing dishes three times. The kids really were such a help, they cut, cleared, cleaned and I couldn't have done it without them. They even picked out all the serving dishes, my little domestic duo. But still, so much work for 3.5 people. It tasted wonderful. Why do I wait so long to eat turkey all year? In the future when someone is sick we are ordering take out. I will.
I got to enjoy some shopping the day after. Got to Target at 8am and made out with half the deals I wanted to so I was pretty happy.

nothing like a little turkey a la candlelight

the kids veggie tray

the kids making the veggie tray..are their knives huge enough?

the table..pre-food

who needs a centerpiece when you can use tree brances?

this was where Mike was all weekend, feverishly wrapped up in blankets needing water and ibuprophen every 4 hours, poor guy...he did sit shivering at the table eating

the happy girl and her dog

Monday, November 23, 2009

established practice, ritual; celebratory observation

Do you ever do something over and over again and wonder "Why am I doing this"?
Traditions are kind of like that. Some you just do because you've done them and others you do because you've always done them AND like them. Most of the time you have NO IDEA where the tradition started in the first place, yet year after year, there are the same expectations.

Why do we have to have certain days and celebrations to feel things or do things for others?

I am thankful every day for so many things I couldn't begin to list but why do I need a day to eat a turkey to do that?

Why do I need a day to "feel patriotic" and watch fireworks?
Why do I need a day to "really love" my husband?
Why do I need a day to wear green and celebrate somebody else's traditions & history?
Why do I need a day to dress my children up so they can get candy from strangers?

And most importantly, why do I need a day to give gifts to others? Or decorate a tree and stick ornaments on it...or make my kids believe something that really doesn't? That is so far beyond what the actual day is about anyway. I think you all know the day I'm talking about.

I have started looking at the meaning of traditions, what they mean to me, and where they originated. The thought of being a robot and doing things because they've always been done that way, that day or like that is very unappealing to me.

Here are some traditions I do like:
Saturday morning breakfast with the family
Sunday church
Family movie night
Making a gingerbread house with the kids every December
going to the water park every summer
Enjoying dinner around the table together
date nights
Celebrating Easter and what it means
Sending a card to someone I care about

Those don't sound much like traditions that we know but they are the kind I like.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I watched an interesting movie yesterday called Food, Inc. and highly recommend it to anyone living in the United States that frequents grocery stores on a regular basis. So unless you live in a remote area where you grow everything...take the time to watch this movie.

The movie reveals some of the issues and policies our government is using to "regulate" farmers, the food industry and EVERYTHING we put in our mouths and it has made me think. Since moving to Idaho five years ago, I have really enjoyed getting to go to farmers markets and get fresh produce. Even the local grocery story carries local fruits and veggies. I like supporting the farms=no food. I have considered many times getting a half or quarter beef from a local farmer, not only because of the quality and knowing what the cow had eaten, but because of the savings in price.

I couldn't believe the information in this movie regarding how farmers are controlled and manipulated by the government, and the unethical practices of growing, feeding and distributing beef, chicken and pork. Yuck.
I think because I was raised in my teenage years on a sort-of ranch where we grew our meat or got it from a neighbor who grew their meat, I was horrified by the way the animals were treated. Not respectfully and not humanly. We always took care of our animals: feeding them right (grassfed), making sure they were healthy. Now I know this has been going on for years and I have chosen to take a blind eye and buy my steak and enjoy it, but something hit a nerve with this movie.

So here is the bottom line of the movie: consumers (you and me) are producing this frenzy of demand, and based on that demand, food companies are reaching outrageous solutions to keep up with it. The fast food industry is the #1 purchaser of many meats and other things like potatoes. We are creating a monster because we like to eat our junk food. We consume more fat and sugar than ANY OTHER COUNTRY. Disgusting.

Because we only like to buy chicken breasts, they are now growing chickens that are fatter and heavier than they were 20 years ago, have no life, and the poor chickens cannot even walk from the weight.
We are dying and getting infected with e. coli (not around 20 years ago) from not only meats, but produce as well because nobody is paying attention or making laws to make sure it doesn't happen. Disgusting.

But what can we do?? I try and get my groceries as cheap as I can so I can feed my family on a budget. How do we find a solution to this? One thing I have been trying to do lately after finding blogs and websites on the subject, is to use whole foods. I didn't even know what a whole food was. It is a food that is not "processed"..thinks food in their natural form like fresh fruits, veggies, beans, grains, grass fed beef, free range chicken, etc.

I am by no means different from all those other consumers that like to buy only chicken breasts and my tons of products with genetically engineered corn (did you know corn is in everything?)

So do I buy free-range chicken and grass fed beef for a higher price but eat it less often, and limit the amount of processed foods we eat like cereal, crackers, chips, granola bars?
There are so many great websites out there that show you how to do it, make your own granola bars, cereal, use beans and whole grains to eat meat less. Can I afford it?

I will have to think about this one. But I do know one thing, I do not want to raise children that eat fast food all the time, don't know where food comes from or how to prepare and plan meals that include whole foods.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

And boy did we work hard today! Rendi and I decided to cram some cooking in today to fill up our freezers with dinners. If you haven't ever "freezer cooked", it is worth your time. I have done it on my own and am VERY happy to have some casseroles, muffins, cookies, etc in my freezer to pull when I just don't have time to cook. It's much easier to do it with someone!

Here is a list of our frantic cooking endeavors. We started around 10am and ended up at 5pm, with a lunch break in there to feed the kids. They were great and Kartsen was a good boy and took some lllllllloooooooooonnnnnnnnnnggggggg naps in there!

-1 9x 13 pan of lasagna (we ate this for dinner all of us)
-70 meatballs (!)
-6 (8x8) pans of lasagna roll-ups (like lasagna)
40 chicken canneloni's
-20 burritos
-4 (8x8) pans of chicken tetrazzini
-8 c. cooked chicken (good to have on hand to add to soups, casseroles, tacos)
-14 + half pints of that yummy apple butter

We figure that gives us about 10 meals each, or 20 meals altogether plus the cooked chicken. Not to bad for a little cooking.

So we decided that it is fall and what would fall be without some fresh apple butter? My Grandma has a recipe she has used for years and growing as kids, we enjoyed that apple butter every fall with a fresh scoop on some hot sourdough pancakes. We loved it and try to keep up that tradition. However, Rendi and I are both a little disappointed that both our spouses AND our children just don't feel that excitement over apple butter and sour doughs. *Sigh.*

apple butter to start with...what is that weird lump in the corner you ask? Just the 'spice pouch', it holds all the flavor for the apple butter

apple butter all done cooking after 24 hours-look how thick and dark colored it is

in jars-this might last us through the winter depending on how much we give away

On to other fall news, I know you are asleep with all of my apple butter talk. Here is other fun we had with fruits and veggies-PUMPKIN CARVING! The kids picked this for family time night and after a intermission by Hannah (picking a design AND wanting to do it all when you are six is just not possible, she gets so frustrated with herself if she has to ask for help so we stopped and finished her pumpkin when she was happy in the morning), we were done.

Taylor was done in record time!

Do you see the capri's on that child's legs? It's OCTOBER!

mine is the one with the 'C'

Mike is the best carver in the family

Just a note of my little Hannah. She LOVES to help in the kitchen and wants to do something by herself (independent fervor mentioned above with pumpkins), so she figured out on her own, that she can make a fruit salad without help. We have had lots of fruit salad and she is so excited to share it, we took it church lunch on Sunday. She really wants to do things by herself and was pretty pleased to discover this was something she could do on her own. I really need to incorporate her more when I cook-there is plenty she can do. I just need to NOT be in such a hurry!

here she is adding her signature to our Saturday morning plates last week-after all fruit salad goes with everything, especially pancakes!

oh, how I love this little girl, head strong and all...I can't wait to see where she takes all this passion for life

Monday, October 26, 2009

Let's see,
what HAVE we been up to??

Besides cramming a 50 hour week into 4 days (my brain is now dead after a 68 page magazine & 16 ads), I did a little pumpkin baking. "They" say there will be a canned pumpkin shortage this fall so I'm cooking and freezing pie pumpkins, which is really easy to do. I even wrote an article in the magazine about it and used my own pics. I made a pumpkin cobbler yesterday. Yum.

I got my hair cut. After being in that in-between stage with grown out bangs for 2 months, I decided to chop it off..I couldn't believe how much hair was on the floor. I love the cut, but more exciting..i have FINALLY found someone I trust my hair with. Thanks to Heather for referral.

It must be getting cold-these sillies are looking for a warm place! Ginger didn't really like her place on the bottom for long.

We said goodbye to my brother Rob, and his girlfriend Trina and their new baby Kiera. They surprised us with a visit from Alaska 3 weeks ago. It was fun getting to know this little red head.
Kiera skyping uncle sean

So that about rounds up our last 2 weeks. We carved pumpkins on Saturday and the kids raked leaves yesterday. Fall has definitely arrived.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I need some other opinions on this matter so I thought I'd write a post about it.
I have been very fortunate in my children's public education foundation to have great teachers, involved PTA's and overall a good experience. They are both smart and are above their grade level in most areas and I attribute that to teachers that are doing their job well.
I love both their teachers this year, they are young and very enthusiastic and have lots of attention for their students.

Lately though, Hannah has been bringing home mountains of homework. She is in the first grade....does anybody out there remember homework at 6 years old?
I have always thought it important to be involved in what they are learning and practice it at home, especially reading. But I am wondering if it is a bit excessive when she has to spend an hour every night and then do her reading.

This week, here is a list of her week's worth of homework due on Friday:

  • 12 pages front and back of a math packet given last week (so they had longer to do it)
  • A list of 300 sight words to practice daily
  • 4 sheets of short stories to read out loud
  • A spelling worksheet front and back to practice writing the words and sentances to prepare her for her test every Friday
  • A "Book Buddy" packet of two books for her to read, plus 4 double sided worksheets on phonics

Does that seem like a lot? I know all teachers are different and Taylor never got that much homework in first grade. He is in the 4th grade and brings home one worksheet that reviews math, spelling words and reading-takes him 25 minutes. I think the book buddy and spelling should be enough, but what is happening is all that math is taking away from reading. First grade is a crucial point for reading, I believe. Not just to learn how to do it but to actually develop an interest and liking for it.

So I wonder if I am just being a little critical. Hannah is really frustrated and it's hard to keep her attention, especially the math sheets they are working on. They confuse me-they are learning story problems and breaking it down with counters, but it is worded really strange. Mike and her worked on ONE PROBLEM for 10 minutes (that's an eternity for a first grader).

Do I suck it up and expect more out of Hannah, or do I write the teacher an e-mail and voice my concerns over homework?

To be honest, i don't want to spend an hour a night to do homework. I would rather engage in other activities with my kids than doing homework for that long, when she isn't getting it.

So come on people, I know you are out there reading-leave me a comment!!

one from the archives of Hannah in pre-school

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mike and I did this 10 years ago.

Who would have thought I could get all our family and a few friends to drive down a dirt road for 2 hours in the middle of the wilderness to take part in our little celebration? Mom worked really hard and made it all come together (we were going to get eloped in Vegas), and I didn't have to lift a finger. By the way, can you tell I'm almost 6 months pregnant in these photos?? The bouquet hid it really well.
See all those candles everywhere? I made them. Yep, definitely had lots more time on my hands back then.

It has been a busy 10 years, some rough spots but lots of laughs. I am happy to say I really did marry my best friend, and that means for better and for worse.....especially when you've been married 4 months and then have a baby! That's a real tester!

We're both a little fatter and less sassier than we were 10 years ago!
Okay I take that back-I am LOTS more sassy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


We left last Wednesday to attend Mitch (Mike's brother) and Cora's wedding on Saturday. The kids were SOOO excited to see their cousins and grandma and grandpa, so we left after Mike got home from work on Wednesday. The drive is long and not too scenic, and we are so thankful for a portable DVD player and iPods.

We had fun at the rehearsal and dinner-thanks Laura for watching the kids!

The wedding was in Virginia city-an old, historic mining town that had it's "boom" back in the 1860's. They mined lots of gold and silver. The wedding venue was Piper's Opera House, a building that had burnt down twice and re-built. The stage has hosted Mark Twain and President Grant to name a few.

The inside was very pretty, didn't get many good shots because it was so dark! Thanks Sheila for giving me copies of your photos-my camera didn't do well in the dark! I wished they would have turned on some lights after the ceremony! Randy played beautifully on the piano before the bride entered.

The bride and groom looked so happy...who doesn't like weddings? It was decorated beautifully, we had BBQ to eat and while pictures were being taken, the guests were sent out on a scavenger hunt around the town (what a great idea!).

Cora tricked Mitch when he was going to get the garter off her leg blindfolded, and had her brother sit down instead-Mitch was a little surprised at the hairy legs!

Taylor had stayed up the night before at Aunt Laura's until 3 am so slept for part of the reception.

Mike was a dancing maniac, there was great music and we all had a great time. What's a wedding without the macharena and the robot? Good job Jacob!

Don't all the kids look so cute? Everyone looked great all dressed up! Mike looked awesome in his tux.
We enjoyed getting to see all of Mike's family and spend some time with them.

We took a family day on Monday and explored Virginia City and Reno and went to the lookout spot-about 7,000 feet elevation.

The drive back was even longer and I think we got sick of each other but passed some time playing numerous rounds of 20 questions, and the color car game....but still..

Now it is back to the real world! I feel as lost as I look in this picture!