Friday, November 30, 2007

Jump On It

Wes took the kids to a place called Jump On It a while back. It has over 10,000 square feet of indoor trampolines and jump houses. I am sure you can imagine how much fun they had! The question is - who had more fun? Wes or the kids?

"Make a shape!"

Don't miss the jumper in the background!

See how her eyes are framed perfectly by the net?

Check this out!

Chicken Taco Soup

Another recipe find that I would like to share. It's fairly simple because you can buy a roasted chicken and then just shred it to use in the soup.

Chicken Taco Soup (chicken chili)
2 T olive oil
1 med onion - chopped
1-2 cans chicken broth (depends on what kind of consistency you want)
2 cans Great Northern beans (drained)
1 can diced green chiles
1 roasted chicken - torn into bite size pieces
salt and pepper if desired
The amount of these next three spices depends on how spicy you want it. My soup still had a little kick to it - but not too spicy for my kids. Just season according to taste.
cumin - I used a little over 1 t
chili powder - I used a little oer 1 t
cayenne pepper - I just sprinkled a little over the top
sour cream
shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
Fritos corn chips
chopped green onion would look pretty too

Saute onions in oil until soft. Pour in broth, beans, chiles and chicken. Season according to taste. Bring to boil - turn down heat and simmer about 10 minutes. Top with sour cream, cheese, chips, green onions and anything else that sounds good.

My kids don't usually go for soup but they seemed to like this. Wes and I really liked it!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

SJ Doing the Wave

Here is Sarah Jane doing her new trick - waving on command. I have to give credit to Grandma Clark for teaching her this. We all love having Sarah around!

Marshmallow Shooter

I haven't posted for a few days because Wes and I have been busy making these marshmallow shooters for a local boutique.

I first posted about these great toys on Design Mom about a year ago. Isaac received one for his birthday from Grandma Jan and it was such a hit Wes made several more so we could have a "tin can shoot" at his cowboy themed family birthday party. This time we painted them to make them look a little nicer.

My mom will also be selling some of her lovely botanical art (framed and unframed) and decorative baskets.

My sister (the seamstress of the family) will be selling cozy PJ bottoms and possibly some girl's dancing dresses. Come and see!

The boutique will be held November 30th and December 1st from 10 am to 6 pm. The address is 445 N. 900 E. (Mary Pulley Dr.) in American Fork (near the Timpanogos Temple).

Friday, November 23, 2007


The Art of Dining

Entertaining is an art form for my mother. She has a special talent for menu planning, tablescapes, crowd control, planning meaningful activities, and ,of course, preparing the most delectable food. She has an eye for detail and plans her events meticulously. She is a traditionalist but can be creatively innovative at the same time. For those who have been lucky enough to attend a party or program at her home - you know exactly what I am describing. This year's Thanksgiving dinner was no exception.

First the table - her finest china, silver, and crystal. Elegant and inviting. She creates her centerpieces and sets the table days in advance. The soup spoons and many of the serving utinsels are heirlooms and belonged to grandmothers and great-grandmothers (remember grandma's spoon collection?). This is one of the many ways my mother tries to make us feel connected with our relatives of the past. My mother is passionate about this.

Can you believe that this is the kid's table?

And this is the toddler's table. My daughter was thrilled with her tiny soup dish and jewel-topped spoon. Not to mention the goblets - even for the littlest ones.

And at each place setting, was a scroll tied with an orange ribbon. This contained a Thanksgiving thought that was read aloud before the meal.

The dinner started off with a small bowl of butternut squash soup - topped with two different flavored butters (cinnamon and curry), bacon, and slivered almonds. Then came the salad course. Like I said, my mom is a traditionalist - jello is her specialty. But nicely fancied up.

Wes was the distinguished turkey carver this year.

The rest of the meal was the usual Thanksgiving faire - squash casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, green beans, and rolls. But all wonderfully delicious.

Desserts included pumpkin pie, chocolate silk pie, lemon meringue pie, brownies, and homemade butter mints.

Let's not forget how many Thanksgiving dinners have been prepared in this 1967 double oven (that's 40 years old!). It's one of my mom's closest friends.

Unfortunately my mom has the habit of hustling and bustling about in the kitchen and didn't taste one bite of the main course. There's nothing we can do about it. It's always been that way and I guess it's the price to be paid to enjoy one of her dinners. I can't forget to mention my mom's right-hand man. My dad is behind her every step of the way and none of it would take place without his hard work and support. My parents make a great team!

One other activity to be remembered. My brother Kip organized a small food drive where each member of the family brought a can of food that they have purchased with their own money - even the kids. The cans are taken to the local food bank. The kids love telling about the can of food they bought.

Disappointingly, I got so caught up in the food and conversation that I didn't get any pictures of what I am the most thankful for - my family! I love you all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Turkeys, Turkeys Everywhere!

This is our "Turkey Wall" - displaying the kid's many Thanksgiving art projects:

These charming turkey creations remind me of four little people that I am very thankful for!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Few Good Finds

I am pretty average when it comes to the timing of my Christmas shopping. I am not really good about getting it done very early, but I don't usually wait until the last minute either. But once Thanksgiving is over (in two days!), I start to feel the pressure. In regards to Christmas shopping, is anyone else feeling overwhelmed by all of the toys and games available for kids these days? Because we are usually low-tech, low-cost - I find that my options are quite limited. However, there are are several toys/games that we have given or received that I think are worth recommending. Most of you probably know about these already, but for those who don't - you might find a couple of Christmas ideas. These things are relatively small, simple and cheap. But I have had enough kids to recognize a "keeper" when I see one.

1. Blink - this is a card game that is very simple, but fast-paced. It states that it is recommended for ages 7-15 but my 4 year old enjoys it too (it's all about recognizing shapes, colors, and numbers). Around $6.00

2. Twenty Questions - this has been around for a while. You think of something - the little electronic orb tries to guess it by asking a series of questions. Fits in the palm of your hand. Great for the car. Around $10.00

3. Robot claw (or as we call it, "the grabber") - these are so cheap (around $5.00) that you should buy at least two. My kids love them. They are also great for the woman who is 9 months pregnant and sick of crawling around on her hands and knees to pick up scattered toys on the floor. Although I guess that is what older siblings are for!

4. Yada Yada Yada Electronic Voice Changer - we have only given this as a gift, but my kids played with it constantly until it hit the bottom of the gift bag. You can record short phrases and then warp it to sound lower or higher (the kids recorded themselves saying "Happy Birthday John!" to play when the receiver opened their gift). I bought mine at Walmart but I couldn't find it on their website. The only place I found it was on ebay! You can check your local Walmart - otherwise it's probably not worth it. Under $10.00.

5. A Globe - these can be surprisingly expensive! I found mine at Target for around $15.00 but most of the time they are much more than that. This is such a simple gift, not the most exciting - but shouldn't every household have a globe?

6. Klutz Potholder Kit - my daughter, who is not really into crafts, really enjoyed this and actually finished the projects she started! Anything "Klutz" brand is great quality. This is around $12.00. Check to see what stores sell this brand in your area. I'm not positive but I think I may have seen it at Target.

Well, there's a few ideas. If I think of some more, I will post again. I also want to ask my kids what their favorites are. Now...the problem is, I'm the one that needs ideas!!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

"My Wish and Thankful Book"

My daughter had to write this for school. I thought it was sweet:

"My Wish and Thankful Book"

I wish I had all the stuffed animals in the world but I am glad I have some.

I wish I could have a swimming pool but I'm glad I have a hot tub.

I wish I had a pet but I'm glad I have my little baby sister.

I wish I could live in a castle but I am glad I have a house.

I wish I was a mom but I'm glad I have one.

Friday, November 16, 2007

He's a Star!

Click on the link to see Dr. Wes on the news. Very cool! (video clips can be found in the upper right hand corner - the one to watch is "Baby Your Baby: Baby's First 6 Months")

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Yardwork in Progress

Speaking of our yard...I realized that we haven't really taken any pictures of our yard and the slow progress that we are making in taming it. Our yard is very...natural. Some people look at our back yard and see weeds! Well, we see potential! Not that I don't love our yard just the way it is. It's perfect for the kids! It is sort of a jungle just waiting for an adventure.

Our backyard forest has provided hours of entertainment (and shade may I add) for the kids and their energy. But believe me, Wes has big plans. Even in the short time we've lived here he has managed to complete several projects that has improved the space significantly.
The first thing this novice landscaper had to purchase was a lawnmower. As you are starting to learn, this man loves DI (it's almost an obsession - he can't drive by one without going in). He found a lawnmower there for $10.00. And this wasn't just any lawnmower. This lawnmower had a Briggs & Stratton engine. I had no idea what that meant but our neighbors with perfectly manicured lawns were very impressed. He sharpened the blade by hand (????), cleaned it up, and the mower has been top notch ever since.

The second project was cutting down about a dozen dead or dying trees. He bought a chain saw at a pawn shop, sharpened the blade himself (not an easy task for anyone who knows), and took to the trees. On one occasion I spotted him outside where he harnessed himself to a very tall substantial tree using his rock climbing gear, weilding the chain saw to cut off the trunk above him. As I watched him in a mix of terror, shock, and admiration - I realized that he was definitely in his element. He should have been a pioneer. Anyway, the trees came down, some were chopped into fire wood (another task that brought him pure enjoyment), some were hauled off to the dump, and some were used to build this (reliving the old boy scout days):
The large one that he harnessed himself to? He carved it (with the chain saw) into this bench:

Other projects included using the many scattered small boulders in our yard to build a couple of rock walls:

Some railroad ties were salvaged and used to build our sandbox (yet to be filled with sand):
And our garden plot planned for next spring:

We can't forget about the awesome swing!

You will start to notice a trend here. The only things that we have been able to do so far have required little or no cash. We don't have money to invest in our yard right now but there has still been plenty of work to keep us busy. There are plans for the future and I will continue to post about the progress that is made. Spring will hopefully bring sand in the sandbox, planting some vegetables, and possibly a trampoline. Hopes are high!