Thursday, March 27, 2008

Blogging Hiatus

I am signing off for a little while. I hope to start posting again in about a week. In the meantime, check out Desperate For a Good Read. There are so many great book recommendations I don't know where to start! And don't forget - anyone is welcome to join. The more contributors - the more recommendations - the better reading for all of us!

Happy Spring!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Fun

*warning - long post*
Yesterday was an exhausting but very fun day.
First a quick but funny story...
Wes was working Sunday morning so I was on my own for choir practice, getting the house ready for Easter dinner with the family, making a yummy new bread recipe, and getting the kids fed and ready for church. I think a small headache started during this time...anyway, Wes showed up about five minutes before we were leaving early for church to rehearse again with the choir. Sacrament meeting was going smoothly and then it was time for the choir to sing. I passed my baby off to the next row and headed for the stand. The first song was lovely - the choir did great. While I was leading the second song, all of a sudden I notice that Cate has come up to the stand and is sitting next to Addie in the choir seats. I try to ignore it and focus on the music. Next thing I know she is walking across the stand to sit in the seats right in front of me. She sits there for about 3 seconds before she decides to stand next to me while I am leading. I was trying to hold it together but I didn't know what to do! She started to put her hand up my skirt and I was afraid she was going to lift up my skirt in front of the whole choir! At that point I tried to shoo her away with my hand while I was still trying to maintain composure and keep the choir in focus. I was relieved when she finally walked off the stand only to be shocked when she came back up the other side. Why doesn't somebody grab her?! She came back to stand by me (I stand up on a stool in front of the podium so the choir can see me) although this time she turned around and started to talk in the microphone. The Bishop finally grabbed her and held her on his lap. The song ended and I looked over at a tearful Cate. Ugh. I hope most the the congregation was able to ignore her but the whole episode ruined any chance I had of feeling the spirit of the song. And it was a beautiful song, an arrangement of How Infinite God's Wisdom - and the choir did a wonderful job - despite it all. I was disappointed because it didn't go exactly like I wanted it to. I was caught somewhere between laughing, crying and strangling Cate. I sat down and realized my headache had doubled (also due to the fact that I myself had forgotten to eat lunch). Of course, everyone was so nice about it. One woman said jokingly, "don't kill Cate. It went fine." Only in this culture would people be so understanding! Wes was taking calls all through the meetings and I was hanging on by a thread but we finally made it through church.
The family came an hour later and we had a lovely Easter dinner and a fun Easter egg hunt in the yard.

Lastly, we were so excited to finally give the kids their Easter present. We've been hiding them in the basement for 3 days!
Flopsy and Mopsy

These are our new pet Netherland dwarf bunnies. We decided to get dwarf bunnies an purpose. Bear with me for another quick story. When I was a little girl (probably about 9 or 10 years old), my best friend and I decided we wanted some baby bunnies for Easter. My parents wouldn't budge - the answer was "no." My friends dad was a little more...persuadable and he agreed to drive us out to the house that advertised they were giving away lop-eared bunnies. We each picked out a little bunny and spent the next couple of weeks adoring our new pets. We played outside with them on the lawn and fed them and cleaned their cage - no big deal. Until they started to grow. They got bigger and bigger and pretty soon, we couldn't pick them up anymore. They just scratched us and wiggled and we started to not want anything to do with them. And as it turned out - they were not lop-eared afterall. Their ears stood straight up! Well, after discussing this with my parents, we all thought that we could claim false advertising and perhaps the owners would be willing to negotiate to take bunnies back. My parents were good sports and drove out to the house and my dad with all of his entrapeneurial skills went to the front door. No on answered. We really didn't want to drive out again - it was about 30 minutes away. Well, my friend and I knew where the hutch was. We stuffed the bunnies inside, left a note that said "sorry, we wanted lop-eared bunnies," and drove away as fast as we could. We felt really bad but we hoped they would be forgiving. Besides, they had tons of bunnies - what's two more?You can see why I wanted to get bunnies for my kids that were going to stay small and manageable. We'll see how it goes!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Eggs

One of my family's traditions when I was growing up was decorating eggs. And this wasn't the typical hard-boiled, dip it in the dye type of decorating. We would blow the eggs out and make fun and sometimes elaborate creations. Although a few have broken through the years, my mom still has most of the eggs we decorated. Unfortunately, I don't think she will be bringing the collection out this year so I won't be able to post any pictures but someday I will. There are some really creative and artistic eggs along with some very clever ones.

I love this tradition and I wanted to continue it with my kids. Wes and I actually decorated eggs the first two years we were married - the first Easter we made a bride and groom and the next year we made a nurse and a scientist. But we haven't really done it consistently since then. This year was the year. Time has been a little limited lately but we finally got a chance tonight to let the creative juices flow. I wish my kids could see my mom's collection just so they could really get the vision but they surprised me and did a great job anyway. Here are the results (Wes was working so he was unable to make an egg this year although his would have been fabulous I'm sure).

Addie made the earth and a decorated egg inspired by the children's story Rechenka's Eggs

Isaac's eggs were a little more abstract but the themes were birds and nature

Cate had a great time painting her eggs using lots of color

I also decorated an egg similar to one of "Rechenka's" and made a killer whale.

I can't wait to see what the kids come up with next year!!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Cake Decorator/Photographer

Melissa taught the activity day girls how to decorate cakes yesterday. Addie was so thrilled with her cake - she told me that I needed to put it on my blog. She did a great job, don't you think? Thanks Melissa!

And I just found these pictures that Addie took of Sarah Jane the other day. Kinda cute!
This is the classic look of SJ - warily eyeing people out from under her eyelashes...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rubik's Cube Madness

Two nights ago my husband got it in is head that he was going to solve the Rubik's cube puzzle. Well, not "solve" it exactly. He found a tutorial on youtube that walked him through it step by step - or should I say algorithm by algorithm. I am not exaggerating when I say he spent close to 3 hours working on it. I was reading in bed while he was next to me working on it. When I turned out my lamp to go to sleep, I heard him a few minutes later in our closet working on it! But he finally did it! It must be crazy complicated to figure this thing out without the tutorial because Wes is a smart guy and it took him this long to do it with instructions! We found a youtube video of a 3 year old chinese girl who could solve the puzzle in 114 minutes. Those little fingers were flying!

The finished product:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Music, Culture and Good Friends

It's been a busy weekend but one that we have anticipated for quite a while. The busyness actually started Thursday evening when I was able to take my two oldest to the Young Artist's Concert with the Utah Valley Symphony. I was thrilled that my kids were able to hear these incredibly talented young people ages 11-17 so adept at their instruments. Being a little biased towards the piano pieces, I was especially impressed with the 15 year old girl who played Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and the two young men who played Rachmaninoff concertos. Truly, "impressed" is an understatement.

The next day I was privileged to hear my mom give a presentation on the book, Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose. I read this book several years ago and loved it. My mom's presentation was informative, interesting, and thought-provoking. It was excellent. If you haven't read this book, I would highly recommend it.

Friday evening, Wes and I were treated with his dad's 3rd row tickets to see the Utah Opera at the Capitol Theater. We saw Cinderella by Rossini and it was delightful. I haven't been to an opera for a long time but I loved it. My first experience with opera at the Capitol Theater was when I was a child - my parents took me to see Madame Butterfly. They related the story to me in the car on the way about the tragic love story between an American Lieutenant and a beautiful Japanese Geisha. I hate to admit I was a little disappointed when the lovely Madame Butterfly was portrayed by a very large, very overpowering, middle-aged African-American woman (no offense intended - I was just a little girl expecting a young asian beauty). I really loved the music, though. Anyway, thanks to Dave and Connie for a marvelous experience.

Saturday morning, our dear friends the Reynolds and their two daughters arrived from Chicago for their annual ski trip. As so many know, friendships made while living thousands of miles from home during the struggles of schooling are friends for life. The Reynolds are such friends. We always enjoy their company and this trip was no exception. The kids played around the house and yard and then we all went to the North American Museum of Ancient Life. We got a couple of babysitters for the evening and joined the Binghams, also dear med school friends for a dinner at The Melting Pot . This was truly a dining experience! It's all about fondue and we went all out with the cheese, meat, and chocolate. Oh my this was delicious! If I ever go again (which I hope will be soon!) I could do with simply the cheese and chocolate. Not to mention how much I loved being with great friends! I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. And sadly, not one picture to show off the good times.
Today we said goodbye to the Reynolds as they head off for the slopes. I can't wait until next year! Thanks for everything guys!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Florence's Peanut Butter Cookies

For some odd reason, Wednesday afternoon I decided to make my grandmother's recipe for peanut butter cookies. She passed away about 10 years ago but I think about her a lot and I try to talk about her often with my kids. None of my children remember her. Addie was 3 months when Grandma died but even in that short time, there was a special connection between them. We lived in Grandma's basement and after Addie was born, my grandma used to ask my aunt, who was living with her at the time, for her hearing aids "so I can hear the baby cry." In some of my Grandma's last moments, I would lay Addie (who is named after Florence's grandmother Adeline) next to her in the bed. Even in an unconscious state, she seemed to recognize that the baby was there with her.
It has always been my desire that my children would get to know their Great Grandmother through my memories and shared experiences. So I thought by making these cookies, I could give them a "taste" of what my Grandma was. Making the cookies was a very nostalgic experience - of my Grandma and of my childhood. Her recipe is a basic, no-frill recipe

1/2 C shortening
1/2 C peanut butter
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C sugar
1 egg
3/4 t baking soda dissolved in a scant 1/3 cup hot water
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 C flour

Cream shortening, peanut butter, and sugars. Beat in egg. Then add water and baking soda with dry ingredients. Roll the dough into balls and bake at 350-375 until done.
I mixed the dough and set out to roll the balls. Then it came to me - she didn't just roll them into balls - she pressed them flat with the tines of a fork! How could I forget? So I did that (realizing later that she actually pressed them twice in a criss cross pattern).

My kids were expected home from school at any minute and I felt like a mom of times past, waiting for my children, baking cookies to be warm for their snack when they arrived home. They were delighted to walk in the door to the smell of freshly baked homemade cookies. I told them that these were my Grandma Florence's peanut butter cookies! Addie brought me back to reality and joked, "wow- these must be really old!" We all laughed and then I explained how coming home to a snack of milk and cookies used to be pretty typical for most kids - like in the "olden days". Their eyes got wide and they asked me if I could do this all the time. Yeah right!

They really liked the cookies, though. They did turn out really good - soft and simple. Eating them just felt like home and made me miss my Grandma.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Getting Closer...

Didn't the hubby do a great job on the tile?

The shower goes in next - today or tomorrow.

It will be nice to have our bathroom back again. You can see the progress we've made from previous posts here and here and here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Birthday for the Papa!

Yesterday we celebrated my dad's birthday. My mom hosted the event and prepared a sit-down dinner of the most delectable pot roast (my dad's favorite)!

After all of that deliciousness we were treated to a made-from-scratch-triple-layer-chocolate-cake with seven minute icing(made with love by my mom) and homemade vanilla ice cream (made with love by my brother Kip). You can probably guess how much my family likes really, really good food (or is it just me?).

For the birthday activity, I prepared a little quiz "How Well Do You Know Papa?" I included bits of trivia like birthdate, middle name, favorite candy, favorite TV show, name of former mission companion that has a hook arm, etc. We all had a few good laughs and learned some interesting things too - like that he was 12 when he learned to drive, sailed on the Queen Mary to get to England where he served his mission, and that he played the triangle with the Utah Valley Symphony for one performance. Who got the most right? Wes only missed 2- go figure!

Papa's presents included the usual - black licorice and orange marshmallow circus peanuts

It was just warm enough for a quick walk to Uncle Bud's park. It felt so good to get outside and enjoy the evening.

Here's to the greatest dad in the world!!!