The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family. ~Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Has it been so long already?

Shoot, I just wrote on the 12th & here it is December 30th!

Jaylyn turned 8 on the 21st. Busy day. She was so excited to be baptized! She opened gifts in the morning at 9am, we had church from 12:30-3:30, her baptism was at 5pm, Community Christmas concert that Jaylyn, Nicole, McKay and Keeley were involved in was at 7pm.... and then home for cake & ice cream. Whew! We survived and it was a wonderful day.

Christmas was wonderful mainly because our entire family was here at our house. I LOVE the craziness involved when we're all together. Noisy, cluttery, loving, WONDERFUL! Thanks for being here everybody! Wesley had a ball crinkling up the wrapping paper, I don't know if I got enough pictures of him opening gifts. He really just didn't get it.... first there's pretty, crackly paper, and then it disappears & there's a toy. lol He much preferred the paper.

Now, to finish off the old year, we're sharing a bout of the stomach flu. Anyone care to join? First was Wesley - then Darren - this morning Nicole - and now Jaylyn. Who's next? I'm opting out, we all know Mom's don't get time off for sick days.

Have a wonderful New Year's Eve celebration tomorrow night! May your reflections on 2008 find many happy moments to cherish.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Wow! Nicole is 6 already! Happy birthday sister! She is excited to have a few friends over after school for a party. This evening we'll have dinner with the family (Brett & Brianna and Darren here make it extra special!) and then do gifts and cake & ice cream.

When I asked Nicole what she wanted for dinner she said: "You know that kind where you put a whole bunch of stuff on the counter and then we get to choose? Like a... a... a... buffet? lol! On her buffet she wants chicken, salad, mashed potatoes, and a whole carrot. :D Ah.... to be 6. :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Thankful Heart

You know those days when your heart just swells as you remember all your blessings? I've been having one of those days. :) I am so thankful for:

My dear, patient, husband... if we had been married "for better or worse" he'd probably be wondering which part this was lately. lol He is kind and thoughtful, hard working, fun-loving. He is terrific!

My family. I am so blessed with an abundance of children! I so enjoy that my married children will share the fun of their early married years with us... brings back many memories. :) It is fun to have them visit often. I am thankful Darren gets to come home for a few days for Thanksgiving. We miss having his humor make us laugh. Keeley and McKay are old enough to be fun in conversation and games and are a pleasure to hang out with. The little girls, Jaylyn and Nicole are such fun to watch as they play using their imaginations. They are best friends most days and best enemies on occasion. They add so much life to our household! Wesley is a joy. I can hardly remember not having him here. He is a happy baby and very social.

I live in a wonderful, relaxed community, close to my parents and Dave's parents, and several siblings who live within 20 minutes. I am grateful for the continued association with them.

I have good health and the ability to care for myself and my family. It is a blessing to be able to do 20 loads of laundry, wash 14 batches of dishes, change an average of 35 diapers, bake 6-12 loaves of bread, prepare 21 meals and at least 7 snacks every single week! In exchange I get uncounted thank you's, at least 14 bedtime hugs and kisses, several "guess WHAT Mom!'s", and unlimited family fun. :)

Life is good. I am blessed. May I live in a manner worthy of all I have been given. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Getting Ready for the Holidays!

Well.... I checked, and it appears as of my blog, life ended when Brett got married. LOL! Time to start blogging again!

I am so excited for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year! (Well, not as much Thanksgiving, but I DO love dinner!) I've been Christmas shopping, mostly online for several months now and am getting close to done. Need to help the little girls figure out what they are getting for everyone, and be sure that Wesley has something for everyone. :)

I've been planning my Christmas Candy - maybe I'll get ambitious and post a few recipes on my Kitchen Kreations blog. Some of them are just so easy to make it's almost sinful NOT to make them. So far I'm for sure planning: fudge, caramels, cracker candy, toffee, marzipan, and dipped pretzel sticks. I MIGHT try divinity this year - it is intimidating to me and I've only done it a few times. Cookies are fun too... I'm making: Snowballs (like pecan sandies), double crunchers and frosted sugar cookies.

We talked as a family and decided we're decorating a gingerbread house this year as well... we had a ball last time we did it. I need to hunt down my recipe.

Well... Wesley is hollering for attention so I will end for today - and you will understand why I don't blog as much anymore. lol

Feel Wonderful!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A beautiful Wedding Day!

As you may know - Brett and Brianna were married yesterday the 27th. It was beautiful weather and I think pics turned out terrific!

Brett & Brianna right outside the temple.

Our whole family with all the new additions.

Welcome to the family Brianna! Brett - we're so pleased with your choices. Keep up the good work! :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Beautiful Day

I am finding much satisfaction in being a SAHM right now. Today I managed to stay home all day... baked 6 loaves of bread... made some chocolate cookies for after school snack... we had Family Home Evening and talked about listening to the promptings of the spirit to help us do right.

There are still clothes to fold, several loads of laundry to wash, floors that need vacuumed & swept, apples to sauce, corn from the garden to freeze. BUT today I DID cuddle the baby, do enough laundry, fix and clean up meals for 6-9 people (depending on the meal) and have time this evening to laugh and play with my family.

I have much to be thankful for.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Kindergarten Blues

Today was Nicole's first day of Kindergarten. She was SO excited she could hardly go to sleep last night! She and Jaylyn chose to wear matching outfits and did their hair the same... so cute. I'll post a picture once I get the computer fixed up for downloading again. She claims her favorite part of the day was recess. That's my girl! lol

It's a good thing we have Wesley now, otherwise this would be my first year at home alone in 18 years! I can't believe how quickly that time has gone by. Amazing.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Oh The Irony

Ah.... we are enjoying our new baby Wesley. He sleeps, eats, dirties diapers and has some wakeful time. He is happiest when being held whether he's asleep or awake. I love holding him BUT there are some things that are just easier and quicker to do with two hands.

The Irony? People all around are saying "Well, I'll bet it's so nice to have so many older children, you must have a lot of help with the baby" or "My, that should be so much easier with all the help of your children." HA! What people who say that don't realize, is that older kids have their own lives... they work, they socialize, they stop in at home often enough to sleep, eat, dirty clothes (this sounds somewhat familiar!) and dishes. Most of their wakeful (and helpful) time is spent away from home. lol

School starts here soon so my best help which is Jaylyn and Nicole, 7 & 5 years old, will be gone a good portion of the day. McKay has been excellent help when he's not helping Grandpa mow lawn & work in his yard or moving pipe with his friend.

Ah well... this baby stage will pass quickly and then instead of being up at night with feedings, I'll be up at night waiting for him to come home from dates and activities with friends. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly time passes. I will enjoy snuggling this baby even IF it is in the wee hours of the morning as all too fast this time will be gone.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Picnic to Remember

Yesterday we were invited to a picnic for the AFCA Adoptive Families for Cultural Awareness. We met so many wonderful people who have adopted african american children and have become multicultural families. It was great to chat with several Moms there who really understood what we're going through in reference to waiting for the probation period to finish and bonding and thoughts about birth parents. Also met a wonderful Mom who has 5 birth children and 4 more adopted children - she mentioned the word crazy a lot & that's my favorite description of ourselves going into this wonderful adventure. lol It IS crazy in some ways, but we've been a wonderful sort of crazy for years and we love it. :)

Wesley is doing great. He sleeps the best when he's being held. I'm torn between holding him and making up for lost time, and wanting him to get on a schedule of sleeping and napping that doesn't include me holding him. :) He is adorable. Nicole has been so loving to him - cooing to him and kissing his cheeks. Both little girls enjoy holding him and feeding him bottles.

One of these days I'm going to start an offshoot blog for my cooking adventures.... I've got to wait until I have a few minutes to cook AND type though. :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Well... Wesley and I are at odds on what time of day we like to play. I MUCH prefer playing during daylight hours and HE seems to be enjoying the wee hours of the morning... before there's any light at all. LOL I'm going to have to get back to having a nap in the afternoon when HE has a nap.... but it sure is a great time to get some housework done.

We're heading to town here in a few minutes to stock up on diapers and formula... I think he's on a growth spurt as he is starting to eat more AND more often.

I am SO enjoying not working right now. I have all day to figure out dinner and am enjoying being home with the older kids too. We can spend all day telling stories and playing with them. I hope we can swing it for me to stay home for quite a while. :)

Enjoy your day!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Finally we're home! All of the children have each had several turns holding the baby and he's already won them all over. :) Nicole hovers over him and lets me know any time he makes a peep. Even the older boys have been picking him up to hold... it's so cute to see them all get to know their new little brother.

Wesley's had many visitors already... Cassie, Aunt Beth and Grandma M were here soon after we arrived home. Aunt Peggy came to visit last night. Today Vicky, Megan and Jake came and Mom & Dad B came soon after. It is so much fun to share the excitement of a new baby with the whole family. Thanks everyone for helping us have a wonderful time welcoming our new baby.

Our garden grew while we were gone. Tomorrow we'll have new peas & potatoes from the garden for dinner. The chard was picked and given to Charlie Llama. I put Wesley in a sling and went out and picked currants with the little girls - we got enough juice for a batch of jelly and one small batch of currant syrup. We should have summer squash in a few days. Maybe tomorrow.

It sure is great to be home. :) I'll have to add a few pictures tomorrow of the kids & the baby - they sure love him.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Look Out - Here We Come!

We get to come home! Woohoo!

The Dallas agency called this afternoon to say we have verbal approval to take the baby home. This is another one of our little miracles. ICPC has to approve the adoption papers in both states before we can leave Texas. The agency told us it usually takes 5-10 business days for approval.... the papers had to be sent to Austin TX to be evaluated & approved, then to Idaho to be evaluated and approved. The original papers were only sent on Monday! I can't believe how fast that went! Heavenly Father heard our prayers! We really expected to hear approval on Monday or Tuesday of next week. This saves us several more hotel nights - and allows us to get back home to our family so much sooner than planned! Yahoo! Life is GOOD!

We were going to drive home - but cost ended up being a little cheaper - and much faster - to fly. So... we leave from Dallas at 7am and into SLC at 9am. We should be home around 1 or 2 pm. We're so excited for the kids to meet Wesley! He is going to love his new family. :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Another day in the life.....

What a great day! We had to run over to the adoption agency here to sign a few more papers and pick up a possession paper that has Wesley's official name on it. (before it just said Baby Boy McKinnon) The people at Adoption Access are wonderful.

We also stopped by a Super Target to pick up a map of Texas to use in driving home. We ended up with an atlas that is small enough to keep in the car. Wonderful! Also, I've been hunting for a diaper bag that wasn't too big or too small.... and wonder of wonders.... they had one on clearance for $17 that I love! Just what I had in mind! Yahoo! Also picked up MORE formula. I tried mixing with some Parents Choice formula that compares to the Similac he came with, but it makes him fussier right now. I hope we can switch him pretty soon.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at Ole Whiskers Catfish Buffet. I keep seeing little catfish shops everywhere & figured it must be something common here locally. You'd never find it at home. :) It was quite an experience to try a bunch of food I've never had before! I now have experienced: corn fritters, hush puppies, baked catfish, deep fried catfish, deep fried okra (which I loved!), and seafood gumbo. They also had a home made peach pie w/ ice cream for dessert. It was wonderful. (still drooling lol) I went through the buffet line & filled my plate and then went and asked the hostess to tell me what I was eating. She was sweet not to laugh, but so much of this food you'd never find in Idaho! I've only read about it in books. (what a dull life I lead lol) I think I'd double my size though if I ate these foods very often. Sure was good though!

Wesley is finally getting his long afternoon nap.... and so is Dave. I think Dave's snoring lulls Wes to sleep. lol We got Wesley's birth records today. All of the medical and hospital papers on he and his birth mom. Her name is blacked out on all the records... I have such a desire to know her though. I cried when I read the evaluation paper on her that mentioned under the nurses observations that she was bonding with the infant, had eye contact and cuddling. My heart breaks to know she loved him and was still able to choose to let him be adopted. I remember all those precious moments with my own babies in the hospital where I just fell in love with my new little one. May God bless you sweet Birth Mom.

I'm off to nap. These late nights are making me teary. lol I'm getting pretty homesick too... miss the kids & know that most of the yard & housework will wait for me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

We Have some Awesome kids!

I just talked to the kids at home... Keeley mentioned that she & Darren were getting the kitchen and dining room cleaned up. They've both been at work all day AND just got their wisdom teeth out last Friday. What terrific kids to still pitch in when they're tired and don't feel so great.

Love you guys!

Our new baby Wesley

We're having quite an adventure here in Dallas. Sunday we found an LDS church 10 minutes away so we took time to go to Sacrament Meeting. It was a wonderful experience feeling the spirit and sharing this with that ward. They were very welcoming. If we can't go home this coming weekend we'll go there again. We had naps & took a walk outside in the evening. It is so warm here and much more humid than at home.

Today we ventured out to find groceries. A nearby Kroger provided that. We also needed some items for Wesley and this afternoon we found a Target. (after quite a tour around) I still need a diaper bag but can't find what I want yet.

Wesley is a good, calm, baby. He fusses to be fed or changed and he loves to be held, but really a good baby.

Here's what he's like in real life. :)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

We have a NEW BABY!!!

As some of you know, we've been trying for nearly 2 years to adopt a baby. A few days ago our agency called & we were able to pick up our new baby boy today! Oh, he is so cute... he was born June 18th and is about 7 lbs right now. I'll try to post a picture...
And here he is with Dave & I and his foster parents.... they were such sweet and loving people...
We are staying the week (or more) here while paperwork is finished. We hope to be home in a week or so. Pray it goes quickly - we miss our family!

I'll keep you posted on our activities & what we choose for a name for our new little guy!


Monday, July 7, 2008

Frugality takes some thought

.... And some action. :) With the price of gas and groceries steadily on the rise, I THINK a lot more now about the cost of driving anywhere. I'm more careful to combine errands with trips to and from work to cut down on driving. Menu's are being reworked to cushion the higher cost of food. When I bake bread (which is still cheaper than buying it) I consider the cost of my flour A LOT more than I did a year ago.

Some other things I'm doing to be frugal: Hanging clothes on the line (I might dry 1 batch a week in the dryer), being sure to use leftovers, using less detergent in my dishwasher - 2 tsp. is enough to clean everything well, and using vinegar in my rinse-aid dispenser instead of Jet Dry. I also use fabric softener less often and much less detergent in my laundry batches. (it helps that I have a new front loader washer - you have to use less) We're also being careful about turning lights and fans off when not needed and unplugging equipment we don't need as often. Audra picked up several cute shirts for the little girls last week for $1.50 each... they each got one now & the others are saved for back to school.

I'm excited about my garden coming on... we had chard for dinner tonight. My chicks are growing quickly and we're looking forward to eggs here in a couple of months. I think about that all the time. :)

I'm going to continue thinking before I purchase or use items. It's good for me to stretch and grow this way. Right? LOL!

Saturday, July 5, 2008


What a great 4th of July Celebration! I had to work until 2:30, but made it home in time to get to Brett & Darren's Battle of the Bands performance. They sound pretty good considering the amount of time they've had to put a band back together. I'm impressed. We walked through some of the Freedom Celebration in Idaho Falls while we were there - interesting booths & some great people watching opportunities. :)

We came home and grilled burgers and made homemade root beer. (can't beat that!) Yum! Audra bought a ton of fireworks & we spent the rest of the evening lighting and enjoying those. Thanks family for a great time!

All in all a great day. Looking forward to the next party. lol

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Quick Adendum

I just shopped for our 4th of July barbecue... I will amend the previous post to read that the healthier lifestyle will remain in effect except for holidays. LOL!

I did purchase a bag of cracked wheat buns for burgers - and we are having watermelon, cantaloupe and baby carrots. Oh - and ketchup for the burgers contains antioxidants. Does that count? :o)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Healthy Lifestyle Changes on the way...

Okay, okay, okay.... All that stuff I've been hearing about healthier eating and getting exercise I've been trying to ignore. HOWEVER, I visited my new doctor for my yearly exam (that I've missed for 5 years) and he reminded me that "at my age" (can you believe he SAID that?) I need to start paying attention to that to avoid health issues later. (Hmmmmph.... at my age... and he appears to be about the same age... pretty darn young I'd say.... lol)

Soooo.... I'm back to either feeling guilty about my pilates workout OR actually DOING the workout, which eases my conscience, and figuring out how to add fiber, cut back sugars and refined grains, and bring more healthy food choices to the table.

Tonight we're having brown rice, swiss chard from the garden, grilled chicken and watermelon. That sounds pretty safe. I'm hankering to make some treats and I really shouldn't, but if I do I'll make Chocolate No-Bake Cookies... they're full of oatmeal - so essentially a health food. LOL!

Well... I'm off to search the internet for some healthy menu options that I can AFFORD to cook and that the whole family will eat. I'm not cooking 2 separate meals. lol I'll post some of my better ideas!

Monday, June 30, 2008

I guess I've been tagged?!

Here ya go Audra... everything you wanted to know about your Mom & then some. :)

1. What is his name? David Lee McKinnon
2. How long have you been married? 24 years and 2 days
3. How long did you date? Depends on your definition of a date.... if hanging out & feeding cows counts - 3 months until he proposed... and 3 more until we were married.
4. Who eats more? Sadly I do... but I drink less - AhHA!
5. Who said I love you first? I don't remember. I think it was Dave when he proposed. I say it more now though.
6. Who sings better? Me - and unfortunately that's not a particularly good thing either.
7. Who is taller? Dave - by about 9 inches unless I have on heels. (or unless HE has on heels I suppose)
8. Whose temper is worse? Mine sort of - mostly because I just am more vocal about my annoyances.
9. Who does the laundry? Me - of course. The rest of the family seems to think that clean clothing magically appears in piles for them to put away.
10. Who does the dishes? Me or the kids - using the dishwasher
11. Who sleeps on the right side of the bed? That totally depends on which direction you are - facing the bed or laying on it.... either way *I* sleep on the "right" side - because if Dave slept there, he'd be on the "wrong" one. ;)
12. Who does the cooking? Me most of the time. Dave is a good cook, but I have more time and make less mess. lol
13. Who is more stubborn? Dave... he's not really stubborn - he just won't change his mind because he thinks he's right.
14. Who proposed? Ah.... Dave did. Cooked me a Japanese dinner, filled some fortune cookies with notes like "I Love You" and "Will you Marry me?" along with a small ring in that one. It was on March 6th - we still celebrate our "Engagement Anniversary" every year.
15. Who is more likely to admit when they are wrong? I say I'm sorry more, but I don't necessarily mean that I'm wrong when I do it. Dave rarely admits he's wrong.
16. Whose parents do you see the most? Mine most of the time... they live closer.
17. Who pays the bills? Dave does - or he tells me which ones to pay. It works best that way - I'm not very organized like that.
18. Who wears the pants in the family? Dave does... and he has my permission to do so. LOL! We work together on most things and follow the counsel of the first presidency on how to divide the responsibilities. Dave is the Priesthood leader in our home though and I defer to him on all important decisions.
19. Why do you love your husband? What's not to love? He has always overlooked my faults. He is patient, kind, and loving to both me and our children. He is a hard worker and sacrifices a lot in providing for our family. He lets me win most of our disagreements. lol He respects me and treats me wonderfully. Most of all - he is my soul mate. There is no one I'd rather spend eternity with. I can't imagine life without him.

I'm back!

I've been quietly chastised about not blogging more. Really, I've been feeling guilt over it anyway and I'm ready to give it another go. :) Lots of stuff going on that I didn't want to write about and make myself sound like a whiner. (true though that may be LOL!)

Anyhow - a quick catch up - Since Mother's Day....

District and State Track... was awesome watching Keeley compete. She had a strep infection and then a reaction to the antibiotics so it could have been more fun for her... but she did great!

Darren & Brett are home & finally sleeping in their own room vs. the family room. That's a great thing!

Darren is figuring out where he wants his life to go next...

Brett's dating an awesome girl. We're looking forward to seeing where that goes.

McKay is working for Grandpa Bolander this summer. Mowing lawn, watering, gardening. He loves it.

Keeley is working 40 hours a week tracking and mapping weeds in our county. I think she likes it though today was horribly hot!

The little girls are busy playing. We're working on getting them to do jobs without being reminded.

I'm working too much away from home & not keeping up on housework. There's always clutter about that drives me crazy. Ah well.... soon enough there won't be people around to clutter it up and I'll whine about that too. lol

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mothers Day Musings

What a wonderful idea someone had to set aside a day once a year to honor our Mothers! Inspired indeed!

I've wanted to be a Mom ever since I was old enough to remember. When it was time to choose a career or direction to go for college, I just really wanted to be a Mom... and they don't really have majors in college for that. :o) Mommaology would have been my preferred field. lol!

I am thankful for the wonderful children I've been blessed with. They make life interesting to say the least. It has been so rewarding watching them grow and mature into awesome young men and women. They have helped me develop characteristics I could not have in any other setting. Compassion, patience, the ability to be spontaneous, organization. I have learned to rely on my Heavenly Father to guide me in handling situations that were unfamiliar or worrisome. I am a better person because of my family.

I have an awesome Mom. She is who I aspire to be like. She has been such an example of love and service, respect. She always seemed to so easily put her own needs second as she took care of her family. Very selfless. I love her!

Have a wonderful Mothers Day!!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Feeding the Freezer Update

Well.... it's been a few days (or so) and I'm not done feeding the freezer by any means. BUT, I have accomplished quite a bit.

I discovered I'd have a lot more room to store things in the freezer if I defrosted it. (blush) That took most of an afternoon but was a major accomplishment! You'd be amazed at the things I found in there that I'd forgotten about!

Done for the freezer: (and stored in it's newfound cleanliness)

unbaked biscuits
baked biscuits
biscuit & egg breakfast sandwiches
chocolate chip cookie dough
refried beans
homemade bread

This upcoming week I'll be preparing more to freeze! If I find a terrific recipe I'll share it here. :)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Feeding the Freezer

My Goodness how time flies when you're having fun! I didn't realize I haven't blogged since Brett got home! Darren comes home from college this weekend... which leads to my urge to "Feed the Freezer". lol This summer I will have 8 people at home... 3 of those fairly hungry boys ages 12-21. We also have Audra, her husband and daughter here on a regular basis to eat. I need to get organized.... it's going to be sink or swim in feeding this crowd the next 3 months! (and I really DO LOVE having them all here, it's just been a while since I've had everyone around)

Things I'd like in my freezer:

bread dough - loaves and rolls
pie crust
cookie dough (in logs rather than balls so snitching a few raw won't be so easy lol )
quick breads
quick breakfast foods (biscuit dough, frozen hashbrowns, etc.)

I don't buy pre-made items for this. I'm cooking from scratch. So far I have:

4 rolls of chocolate chip cookie dough
2 loaves of bread dough
1 loaf of lemon poppyseed bread
2 trays of shredded potatoes for hashbrowns

I'm going to double or triple the meals I make the next week or two and feed the extra to the freezer.

I still need to hunt down some good lunch snacks and dishes - I plan on packing lunches for the two older boys all summer. Last year ds18 ate 3 sandwiches and several side items every day. Hungry boy. If you have suggestions please let me know!

I'm off to bag my hashbrowns!


Thursday, March 20, 2008

He's Home!

Awww.... my boy is home. He seems taller, thicker, and more self-assured. I could just sit and watch him - it is SO wonderful to have him here again.

We've been listening to many stories about his experiences. His voice sounds a little homesick when he talks about the people, but I think he's starting to get used to being home.

I'll try adding a picture from the airport. All of the kids were there - the first time our whole family has been together for a little over 2 years.

Monday, March 17, 2008

24 Hour To Go!!!

Only 24 hours until Brett comes home from his mission! WooHoo! We are so excited to see him and hug him and hear his voice again! I know he is going to have some settling in to do as he adjusts to a new schedule and life.

Life the past few weeks has been a whirl of cleaning, painting and preparing. We've been talking and planning and anticipating. We can't wait!

I'll post a couple of pictures to show you all how great he looks. :)

Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Junk! Junk! Junk!

I am putting the house on a diet. We're losing clutter. Today I'm cleaning in the little girls' room and as of right now I'm up to 3 large bags of garbage, 2 large boxes of stuff to go to Deseret Industries, and a small box of clothes to go to Audra's. How do we accumulate so much junk?

It seems to work best when I don't let kids "help" as they try to save everything. I've been decluttering the past few months and this house if finally getting in better shape! Somehow I've thought if there was storage space somewhere, it was my obligation to fill it to the hilt with STUFF! No more!

I'd love to have a weight on all the junk we're getting rid of.... maybe I'll weigh it all before its gone. :) I'll let you know how we end out on this clutter diet! Stay tuned!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Missionary Update!

Most of you are already aware that our oldest son has been in El Salvador the past 2 years. We finally got his flight itinerary and he will be home at 9:45 p.m. on March 18th! Wahoo!!! We are so excited to see him and hear his voice again.

We have certainly seen blessings supporting him on his mission. Our money has stretched further, my tips have been exceptional, more closeness as a family, more meaningful prayers.... and the list goes on and on. We have looked forward to Monday emails with great anticipation. I may have to require him to continue emailing me a while longer so I can wean off of those. :o)

I'll keep you updated (whether you like it or not!) as the next 2 1/2 weeks fly by.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Breakfast in Bed

Ahhh.... This morning Dave and I were treated to Breakfast in Bed. At 8 a.m., Nicole (who is 5) came to our room with a "menu" (which was a bunch of squiggly lines and a few pictures) and told us to choose what we wanted for breakfast. The choices were french toast or bread. :) We chose french toast. lol! Not long after, the three younger kids, McKay (12) and Jaylyn (7) and Nicole came marching into our room with a cookie sheet with french toast, butter, syrup and 2 cups. Jaylyn was holding a carafe of orange juice. They were so proud of themselves! Nicole wanted to sit on the edge of the bed and watch us eat. (getting a few bites here and there) While we ate, they served Keeley (16) breakfast in bed, and then Nicole went back to bed so they could bring her breakfast. LOL! Jaylyn had breakfast in bed and then... McKay cooked his own breakfast and the girls served it to him in bed!

What great kids... they have good hearts. The kitchen wasn't as bad as I expected and the experience was well worth cleaning up the mess. Love comes in all forms... this morning it was French Toast.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

A Misrepresentation Perhaps?

I just noticed that I use WAY too many exclamation points when I write! See? LOL This might lead you to believe that I'm full of energy and highly excitable. This is not a true representation of my nature. However, I have yet to discover the appropriate punctuation to convey my lack of ambition some days, or to show calm, soothing, feelings. Perhaps several zzzzzz's would work? Maybe a few ~~~~~ calming waves added in here & there?

True, I do enjoy life for the most part. Little things thrill me. Food almost always deserves an exclamation point! (Don't you agree?) Well, maybe not something like brussel sprouts, but think of chocolate! Cheesecake! Lay's Potato Chips! See what I mean? I feel a thrill when I'm ready to check out at the grocery store and find a checker WITHOUT a line! Woohoo!

Perhaps I'll take an online writing course this next year to help correct my punctuation skills, until then, expect to see that exclamation point more here than anywhere else on the web! If it bothers you, go ahead and picture me sighing, forcing myself to smile, rolling my eyes and whining a bit. LOL

Have a wonderful week!!!


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Our Dear Prophet

President Hinkley's passing has brought a mixture of emotions. I am happy to know he is with his dear wife Marjorie again. I am sad that I will not hear his words at conference and see that twinkle in his eye. He has such a special place in my heart.

There was a talk in 2003 that I loved. I have it printed off and in a binder where I can reference it. It was called "To the Women of the Church". It spoke to my heart... I can't figure out how to link it, but you can go to www.lds.org and do a search for "To the Women of the Church". The talk comes up right now as #13.

He begins with a quote "Someone has said: 'Be kind to the women. They constitute half the population and are mothers to the other half.' " Another part that caught me because I wondered if I should work more and help financially more and I wondered if what I did at home really mattered (you know, some days it's just hard to measure your success at home!) ... he said "Count your blessings; name them one by one. You don’t need a great big mansion of a house with an all-consuming mortgage that goes on forever. You do need a comfortable and pleasant home where love abides. Someone has said that there is no more beautiful picture than that of a good woman cooking a meal for those she loves. Weigh carefully that which you do. You do not need some of the extravagances that working outside the home might bring. Weigh carefully the importance of your being in the home when your children come from school."

In President Hinkley's honor, our family has chosen to renew his challenge to read the Book of Mormon. Last time the challenge went about 5 months, we are setting that as our goal. We will need to read approximately 1 1/2 chapters each day to reach our goal.

I love our dear prophet. He was certainly inspired of God in the manner that he led his life and led our church. I will miss him. There will be a new President of the Church, and the work will go forward as God intends. All is well.

Home Made Granola

I've committed myself to feeding my family more healthful meals and snacks this year. I don't buy a lot of junk food, but I make cookies and brownies a LOT! Yum! lol Dave and I have decided since we're not getting any younger, we'd like to get as much mileage out of our bodies as possible... which means some life changes.

Our plan:
4-5 times per week. Dave plays basketball for an hour in the morning 3 times a week. I always used to count my waitressing as exercise, BUT I'm adding in 15-20 minutes on our new (free to us) elliptical... and doing pilates a few times a week.
Diet will have some changes. Mainly we're adding in more fiber, which increases the amounts of fruits and veggies we eat. Switching to more whole grain breads, pasta's and cereals. Which brings us to today's topic.... Home Made Granola. Yummy! I got part of this recipe from a friend years ago and the other part from a make a mix cookbook. I adjusted here & added there and the result is pretty much my own now. :) This granola is filling, tasty, and a healthy way to start your day. (or end it, or as a snack throughout lol)

Joy's Home Made Granola

10 C. quick oats (or you can use old fashioned rolled oats if you like to chew a lot more)
1 C. whole wheat flour
1 C. wheat germ
1 C. toasted sunflower seeds (shelled of course)
1 C. sliced almonds
Optional: coconut, chopped walnuts or other nuts, dried fruit such as raisins.

Mix these ingredients together in a BIG bowl. Then mix the following syrup:

3/4 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. olive oil (or any other preferred oil)
1/4 C. water
1/2 C. molasses
1/2 C. honey
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla

Bring to a boil and cook until sugar is dissolved. Pour over dry ingredients and stir until everything is coated evenly. Grease 2 large cookie sheets and divide granola between them. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool, store in an air tight container.

This is so easy it's crazy! If you are short certain ingredients, it still seems to work fine... the whole wheat flour and wheat bran can be left out entirely. They do add to the nutrition of this though. The nuts provide a good protein, are cholesterol free, and tasty. :) Molasses adds extra iron.

I'm working on adding more whole wheat flour to baked goods. We've enjoyed whole wheat tortilla's (made with my usual recipe substituting whole wheat for 1/2 the flour) and whole wheat noodles (1/2 the flour as whole wheat). So far the kids have enjoyed all the changes and I feel so accomplished for doing them.

Challenge yourself! Try something more healthful this week! You could always start with GRANOLA!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Airport Observations

I love watching people. We are the most interesting species, aren't we!

While at the airport this past week, I had ample opportunity to people watch. What a variety of people from all walks of life. Young and old, rich and poor, all dressed in their own fashions. I saw young mom's packing babies, one older woman carried along her little dog just as carefully as if it were her child. Crisp looking business men, people traveling to a vacation. Wow. What a wonderful variety!

The one thing that struck me the most though, and I'm sure it's in a large part because I'm from a small community, is how totally separate those travelers were. We walked down the concourse and many seating areas were full of people waiting.... and pretending they were the only ones there. Reading newspapers, working with laptops, reading a book, watching the football game being broadcast. Eyes met as little as possible, smiles were rare. If it were possible, there was an empty chair between travelers to protect their personal space. It was almost funny to watch people avoid each other. :o)

Well, not my ideal world, I much prefer quick smiles, friendly eyes, a kind word. I don't think I'd do well in a large city. I realize that in some places it's just not safe to invite a glance or interraction. Never-the-less, my airport experience was interesting to say the least.

Oh, and the best part, I found my favorite French Mints at the Rocky Mountain Candy shop. YUM!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hello from Arizona!

Ahhhhh...... I checked weather.com this morning to see how it was at home & it was -12! Brrrr! It was a balmy 45 degrees at 7am here in Phoenix and should get up to 70 later today. What a blessing this little vacation IS!

The resort we are at is beautiful. Brightly colored buildings, palm trees, FLOWERING plants (I forget that SOME places are not covered in snow in January!), beautiful, blue pools. We are on the 3rd floor overlooking a captivating courtyard. Yesterday I took the elevator to the roof (5th floor) and enjoyed sitting on the sundeck there reading my Anita Stansfield book. A few little birds flitted around but otherwise I was alone. It was heaven!

We've eaten some awesome meals while we've been here. I love eating out. It is one of my frugal downfalls. we don't do it really often, but I DO love it. lol I could go on a food vacation around the world just sampling each countries cuisine! Monday evening we went to the Stockyard Restaurant. It was established years ago by a rancher in the area. The decor was beautiful. Black leather booths, dark wood accents, low lighting. I had a filet minion. Melt in your mouth. Last night we had our dinner connected with the training conference Dave is attending. We are staying at a Hilton Resort, and this was typical Hilton food. Always very delicious and all about presentation. We started with a lettuce salad.... these crack me up. A large head of iceberg lettuce had been sliced in about 4 thick slices and one big slice on each plate. Shredded carrot, cabbage and a few garnishes placed on top. It just makes me laugh when I see those huge slices or wedges of lettuce... makes me think they ran out of time to prepare and left out tearing up the lettuce for salad! LOL! I know it's supposed to be classier... I guess I'm just a small town girl & it makes me giggle. The main meal was a steak and mashed potatoes. Dessert was some sort of marshmallowy, chocolate covered thing... with swirls of chocolate syrup across the plate.

Monday we went to a museum of Indian ruins dating back to 1000 ad. I loved touring the site where they had excavated and discovered pottery and tools from the Hohokam people. I wish we had more time to visit Sedona and the Indian ruins there. I read that there are some cliff dwellings you can view. I always wanted to be an archaeologist when I was young. I guess some of that is still in my blood. :) The closest I get now is digging through the pile of laundry finding an article of clothing someone has lost. lol

Today Dave has meetings until noon and then we have the rest of the day to go exploring. I think we're going to find a mall to wander through, do a little more site seeing. There is a trail head across the road from our resort, we might wander on that a bit.

We are missing the kids like crazy, but otherwise, I am really enjoying someone else doing all the work and pampering me here. Thanks to Audra and her husband for taking care of things there at home!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Little Vacation Goes a Long Way

Wahooo!!! Dh and I are leaving tomorrow for Phoenix. He has a business meeting and the company will pay for me to go along with him. It's so much fun to have a little alone time. kwim? I know there are all sorts of places we could go and see and so much to do, but I am looking forward to reading a good book uninterrupted. (Is that sad or what?) Also looking forward to someone else making my bed, cooking my meals, doing my dishes. This is a true vacation, unlike camping where I just take my daily chores to the forest where it's less convenient to do them. ;o)

Audra's been sweet to agree to come stay with the kids. I won't even worry about them while she's in charge.

We went shopping today for a few clothes and such. My post Christmas body weight doesn't look as good in those darn full length mirrors in the dressing room. Shoot. I did find a nice pair of jeans and a hip length shirt (that covers part of my Christmas weight lol ).

I'm off to finish packing. I'll post about our adventure when I return.... or possibly while I'm there since we may have internet available and can use dh's laptop. :)

Have a wonderful week.... I know I'll be enjoying weather a good 40 degree's warmer than here. How good can it get!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Pot Roast in the Oven

I can't wait until dinner's ready tonight. I have a pot roast in the oven and some winter squash baking right beside it. Potato's are waiting to be mashed & gravy made to go over them. Yummy. Almost a whole meal of comfort foods for me. :)

I crave this stuff! (along with chocolate & potato chips) Sometimes I wish I were born with the inclination to crave carrot sticks or apple slices. Why don't I crave whole wheat bread instead of steaming hot, just out of the oven, white bread slathered with butter and home made strawberry freezer jam? Ah well... where would the challenge be if I only craved healthy, low-fat food. LOL!

I'm off to make gravy... hopefully dh will be home shortly so we can eat.

Monday, January 7, 2008

A Good Cup of Hot Chocolate...

You know, I've never been big on hot chocolate... UNLESS it's homemade. Tonight for Family Home Evening treats we made a big, gallon sized pot of hot chocolate. It's so easy to make! I heat 3-4 quarts of water, add powdered milk - enough to make up that equivalent of milk. (and if you like it extra creamy, add another cup or so of powdered milk) Then, using a mixing bowl, I mix a couple of cups of sugar & 1/4 - 1/3 C. cocoa powder until blended & the cocoa lumps are mixed out. Pour about half of that mixture into the hot milk and taste to see if it's sweet & chocolaty enough... if not - add more until it tastes the way you like. :) I like to add 1/2 tsp. of vanilla as well.

Tonight, we added a scoop of vanilla ice cream to our steamy cups of hot chocolate. Sometimes we add candy canes, orange or raspberry extract, or marshmallows. Yum!''

I have about 2 quarts left over tonight... it goes in the fridge & in the morning I'll dilute it a little with some regular milk and it makes great chocolate milk. Doesn't last long here. lol

I also have a favorite Hot Chocolate Mix... I'll save that for another post.

Happy Sipping!


Saturday, January 5, 2008

Crazy Titles!

Okay... I admit... I was just frustrated setting up my profile because under "Work" it didn't list what I wanted to choose. :) Out of the 40 listed options, I figure my status of a Wife, Mother, and housekeeper, qualified me for at LEAST 20 titles. Here are my thoughts on those...

1. Accounting - I figure this is tracking the checkbook & bank balances. I work under my dh here.
2. Arts - Motherhood is an Art. Am I right or what?!
3. Banking - online or otherwise, depositing or withdrawing.
4. Chemicals - what I clean the toilets with.
5. Communications - Two year olds or teens, All Mom's become experts in communications.
6. Construction - Think 5th grader with a science project.
7. Consulting - counciling children with friends, homework, and siblings. Dave consults with me as well.
8. Education - from birth on, education is happening... potty training fits here. :)
9. Environment - monitoring environmental safety by removing obstacles from the floor, refereeing disagreements, keeping surfaces clean.
10. Fashion - purchasing clothing for younger kids, monitoring clothing for older kids, figuring out my own suitable fashions. (Mom! You CAN'T wear THAT!)
11. Human Resources - I have seven children. Enough said.
12. Internet - I have become quite proficient here as well. lol
13. Law Enforcement - in the home
14. Libraries - trips TO the library, reading books FROM the library.
15. Non-Profit - you should see our budget. LOL!
16. Religion - just can't separate that from daily life.
17. Science - exploding baking soda bombs, powder sugar fueled fire-breathing kids, orange peels lit over a flame, etc.
18. Sports or Recreation - Hours spent in the gym or at the track, camping and playing in the yard.
19. Student - I'm always learning.
20. Transportation - Tell me you don't figure Mom's need this title!

Am I right? So many titles for girl to choose from... It would only allow me to choose one title... Which would you have chosen? :)

I'll keep thinking - maybe I'll just pop on here & change my "Work" title several times a day... you'll know when you log on what I'm doing at the moment!

Life IS Good!

Life IS good, isn't it! Reality says there are ups and downs all along the path, but overall, Life is good!
Beginning each year I'm inclined to "count my blessings" more than any other time. This year some of those blessings are; a patient husband, Seven terrific kids PLUS a great son-in-law and the cutest little grandbaby you ever saw. I have a comfortable home to live in, a wonderful community to raise my children in, parents and family that live close by. I've been blessed with a sense of humor and a husband with a crazy sense of humor... some things in life are best laughed at.

God has been good to me. I know He loves me and knows who I am. He has been there to carry me during the tough times and there for the celebrations of the wonderful times.

Life is Good!