Sunday, April 29, 2007

Counting My Blessings

1. I'm married to Mr. Wonderful. He is my best friend (whodathunk that anyone could take my twin sis' place as BF#1?) He works hard so I can be a SAHM, puts up with my dry sense of humor (which he often has to explain to others), and compliments my right-brained thinking with his left-brained thinking. He makes me feel loved, beautiful, and safe on a daily basis. He encourages me in my dreams. He can fix anything (woo-hoo!) He also happens to be tall, dark, and handsome. ;)

2. Four beautiful kids. Each one unique and determined to teach me something new every day. All healthy (at least for today). They are not perfect but they can be kind, thoughtful, and loving. They make me laugh on a daily basis. DS#2 has recently been teaching DD how to identify Jazz basketball players. She now calls them by name and loves to watch bball with the boys. DS#1 has been playing around with music software and writing his own music. His stuff sounds pretty good. DS#3 comes home from kindergarten with all sorts of facts to share with me. They are involving me in their lives and I love it.

3. DH's job which is taking us on a new adventure.

4. My Twin Sis, to whom my long distance phone calls were once referred to as "cheap therapy" by DH. (He no longer has to worry that "cheap therapy" will once again be part of our budget. Twin sis and I both have Verizon and our calls are free.) She may have been relegated to BF#2 (just as I have since her DH is her BF#1) but she is and always will be my BGF. Through all of my mini- crisis while DH has held one hand, Twin Sis has held the other. She can still finish my sentences for me. I know she will always love me no matter what.

5. My family, which includes DH's brothers and their wives. Their faith in God strengthens me. I love having Family Nights with them and hearing their prayers and testimonies. I love attending their kids baptisms and ordinations and witnessing their faith and strength. I love singing hymns with them and hearing four-part harmony.

6. Music. All kinds of good uplifting music. Religious, classical, jazz, musicals, some contemporary. If the lyrics are clean and something I can play on the CD at home or on the radio with my kids in the car then it can qualify as good music. Lately I have been listening to a radio station that plays Christian as well as non religious contemporary that falls in my category. It has been fun to sing along to. It has been even more fun to hear my 4 yr old DD pick up the lyrics and sing along. It has been a riot to look in the rear view mirror and see her play air guitar along with some of the more upbeat tunes. If she hears a gospel choir singing backup she puts up her hands and "raises the roof".

7. My parents serving a mission in The Democratic Republic of the Congo. Their emails and pictures have taught my kids more about life outside of the United States than anything they have learned at school. Seeing the good they do has motivated my family to find good things to do in our area. We miss them very much (DD keeps asking to see them) but we love having them where they are. My parents recently told me that they expected to have 6 hours a day work time on this mission and so far they have had 12-hour work days. Their new motto is "Let's go do some good".

8. My in-loves doing Family History work at home. They have spent hours on the Internet and at the Family History Library, not only working on their own family history, but helping anyone with their own family history. They are incredible at reading handwritten records from the 1600 that I can't interpret at all. The stories they come up with are amazing (the story of the meaning of their family crest is a riot). On top of this they also work two days a week in the Jordan River Temple and spend hours with their church callings.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Goodbye Gamenight Group

Tonight was game night at our house. We have know these people for 11 years and have been meeting for game night for the past 8 years. Once a month our group rotates which house we go to. The hosts provide a main dish while everyone else brings potluck sides or dessert. There is always good food and good conversation (and its usually LOUD!!)

Tonight's game involved "would you rather" questions or challenges. My team won the game by completing the challenge of belly dancing for 60 seconds. We did not look cool but we did win the game.

I am going to miss these people. We'll try to coordinate our visits back around game night weekend so we can catch up with each other. They have an open invitation to visit us at our new house. I hope they come.

Our main dish tonight. Thanks to my darling twin sis for the recipe.

Christie's Awesome Barbecue Ribs


2 T oil
1 med onion minced
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
28 oz can whole tomatoes with juice
3/4 C white vinegar
1/4 Cup packed dark brown sugar
2 T. molasses
1 T sweet paprika
1 T chili powder
2 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 Cup orange juice

Heat oil add onion and cook until golden. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce hit to low and simmer uncovered stirring occasionally until thick for 2-2 1/2 hours. Puree the sauce. Transfer sauce to a bowl and use immediately

Pork baby back ribs
1/4 cup table salt
1/2 Cup sugar
2 racks baby back ribs or loin back ribs (4 lbs total)

Take salt and sugar and dissolve in 4 qts cold water in large stockpot. Submerge ribs and refrigerate for one hour until fully seasoned. Remove ribs from brine and pat dry with paper towels.

Take the sauce. Roasting pan line with foil. Put ribs in pan drench with sauce. Bake in oven at 300 for more than 3 hours, continually basting every 15-30 minutes. Try to turn them if you can. They're done when they start falling off the bone

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I really miss my mom.

Mom and Daddy are currently in Africa serving as missionaries for the next 18 months (See my link for Barlows In The DRC). They have been gone 3 weeks so far. We are so excited for their willingness to serve and love hearing about their adventures. but email and video cam just don't cut it for some of the separation pangs I've got.

I used to talk to my mom twice a week. The phone calls were spontaneous and most of the time were for no reason other than to see what was going on.

I'm in the middle of packing for our move. During my last move my mom would show up with boxes and help me pack for an hour or two. Sometimes she would just show up and help where ever I needed it most. Now that I am doing it with no help I appreciate her so much more.

I used to call her after DD's doctor appts. to talk with her about the diagnosis. Mom has an RN degree and was great at translating doctorese into something easier for me to understand. She also was great and helping me come up with questions I would never have thought of for the next visit.

Mom was a good source of information when it came to raising teenagers. She survived seven of them (three of them at one time!) and many times had to convince me that I could survive just one.

My daughter keeps looking for her GamaPapa (Grandma and Grandpa) when we go to their house. She doesn't understand that they will be gone for awhile, let alone that there is a place called Africa. I'm having a hard time trying to explain and re-explain that to her.

Then there are the times when a girl just needs her mom. For no reason.

I know that these feelings are normal and its part of the sacrifice of having your parents go on a mission . There truly is no other place I would rather them to be. I guess I just need to get tough with myself. Its part of growing up.

Maybe someday I will grow up.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cinco De Mayo is coming up! We love playing music, dressing up the table and having a fun family dinner.

Prepare your menus in advance. This is one of our favorites. We love to serve it with strawberry and watermelon agua frescas, rice and pinto beans, fresh salsa cruda with fresh made tortilla chips, lots of chopped cilantro, and whatever sweet Mexican dessert sounds good to us.

Chile Verde

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 (1-pound) pork tenderloins, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour object
4 cups chopped onion
2 pounds small tomatillos, husks and stems removed and quartered
1 pound Anaheim or poblano chiles (about 4 medium), cut into 1-inch pieces
6 garlic cloves, chopped
3 cups water
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Heat canola oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the pork evenly with salt and pepper. Place flour in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add pork to bag; seal. Shake to coat. Add pork to pan, and sauté 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove pork from the pan.

Add onion, tomatillos, chiles, and garlic to pan; sauté 8 minutes or until tender. Add pork, water, and remaining ingredients to pan; bring to a simmer. Cook 2 hours or until pork is tender, stirring occasionally. Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 1 1/3 cups)

NUTRITION PER SERVING: CALORIES 267(26% from fat); FAT 7g (sat 1.6g,mono 3g,poly 1.5g); PROTEIN 26.4g; CHOLESTEROL 74mg; CALCIUM 45mg; SODIUM 511mg; FIBER 3.7g; IRON 2.7mg; CARBOHYDRATE 18.9g

Chef: Traci Des Jardins

Cooking Light, MAY 2005

Monday, April 23, 2007

Home and Faith

We found a house we like in Idaho. It is perfect in every way for our needs. And the way it fell into our laps is a bit of a miracle.

DH and I had toured a different house with the same floor plan in this neighborhood. We loved the rooms, the kitchen, the layout, the neighborhood. The elementary school is within easy walking distance. There is is a neighborhood pool and more than one neighborhood park. We didn't like the paint colors but that can be changed with some effort. But buying the house would mean no money for other things like sports, vacations, and fun times. We decided to pass.

We had narrowed down the choices to two and took the kids to Idaho to make our decision and put down an offer. Our Realtors greeted us with some news: there was another house on the market we just had to see. It was in the neighborhood and the floor plan we liked. It was also the model home which meant it had every single upgrade the builder could fit into it. Most important of all, for the next 24 hours the price had been lowered $65,000 for a quick sale. It was within our price range.

We toured the house. Actually we tore through the house. The kids ran around already picking rooms and planning out their lives. They begged us to buy the house. Everything is finished including landscaping and fencing. The only honey-do for DH would be food storage shelves in the garage along side what organization he needs to put up for his tools. We put an offer down, not expecting for it to be accepted. We were a little anxious about it since the offer would not be contingent on us selling our house first.

We were almost home when we got the news that our offer was accepted. This whole experience feels right but we are struggling with our faith because we still need to sell this house. Our realtor calls it thinking positive thoughts. We call it faith and hope and pray this turns out well. Please pray for us that our house will sell quickly at a fair price.

Oh, and if you are ever in our new neighborhood, our house includes a guest bedroom.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Has This Happened To You?

Yesterday, while driving home from Boise, Idaho, we stopped at Mountain Home to get some lunch. While DH waited in line to order food, I left to use the restroom.

When I came back into the line with DH and my family, DD asked loudly "Mommy, did you go potty?" The crowd around us started to chuckle and I quietly answer her that I did. DD spoke up again for all to hear "Good girl! Let me see!" I was holding her in my arms and she climbed over my shoulder and tried to reach the back of my pants. The crowd switched from chuckling to full-out laughter.

I wrestled DD back into my arms. May people approached us in line to tell me how cute DD was or to ask DD what her name was and how old was she? DD answered all of the questions and told everyone to "Have a good day!"

There were also people who told me they had a son/daughter/cousin/grandchild/ or neighbor who has Down syndrome and wanted to share stories and feelings about them. I have discovered that DD will open a lot of doors and show a group of strangers that many of them have something in common.

Now if I could just get DD to understand what is socially acceptable for conversation starters.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Signs My Firstborn Is Growing Up

1. He is officially 1 inch shorter than me as of this week. He constantly walks around on his toes to see what it will be like to be taller than me. I think he is counting down the seconds until it is so.

2. He quit going by the his middle name (the name we have always called him) and started to be called by his first name. We didn't know he had done this until we went to parent teacher conference and the teachers kept calling him by his first name. But the girls calling out to him as we passed them in the halls cinched it. I know why he changed - he likes the sound of that name when the girls say it.

3. He has had his first girlfriend, his first kiss, and his first dumping. He was sad for a day and then got over it quick. The girl didn't have the nerve to dump him in person so she had her friend tell his friend to tell him. May I just say that you couldn't pay me enough money to go through my own teen years again? Oh, about the fact that I found out about this girlfriend from his best friend's mom...DS#1 has promised to tell me these things himself. In more than monosyllabic sentences. Or else. And about that kiss......

4. I have found out that he actually looks forward to dating. In our house that doesn't start until age 16. (Since he has already had his first kiss that official dating age will be moved to 21. So says I.)

5. He is definitely concerned with looks and grooming. I can't get DS#2 and #3 to understand that you can't leave the house without combing your hair and brushing your teeth and making sure your clothes are clean. DS#1 remembers all that and has started spraying on smell-good stuff that he buys with his own money. He is also fanatic about his braces and doing what it takes to get them off as soon as possible.

6. DS#1 is looking forward to driving. H has now taken his parents seriously when we tell him that there will be no license to drive until he has his Eagle. Wow, look!, a new interest in Scouting! Whatever it takes.

7. He is starting to get that mature look, the one where you can finally see the adult in him.

8. His conversations show that he is more aware of the world around him. He comes home from school and wants to talk about the news and current events.

Am I old enough to have a son like this? I don't feel that old.....
For Sale: Home

Our house is officially on the market this morning. I have to clean up the breakfast dishes and then run through the house picking up random things that somehow found themselves on the floor in the middle of the night. My kids claim that they didn't put them there.

I spend yesterday afternoon with a paintbrush in my hand meticulously going over all of DD's Picasso Moments. It took two coats of paint in one instance but it looks much better. I also painted over the footprints (yes, footprints ) on the walls. Again, my kids claim that they didn't put them there.

While I scrubbed the kitchen floor on my hands and knees, DH rallied the troops with bedroom and bathroom cleaning. Yet another box went out to the garage, destined for DI. While checking under the beds he found odds and ends of food and wrappers from various treats. Of course, my kids claim that they didn't put them there.

We must be a real life Family Circle. Just like the comic family, Not Me (an invisible entity) lives at our house. Not Me leaves toys on the floor, footprints on the walls, and candy wrappers under the beds. I wonder if Not Me is also responsible for spilled cereal in the pantry, socks stuffed between couch cushions (because Not Me doesn't like to fold them), and sports equipment dumped in the middle of the driveway?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Citrus Grill's Butternut Squash Fettuccine
(Serves 2)

One of my favorite dishes from one of my favorite restaurants. I like using fresh sage when possible as well as adding other veggies (asparagus, zucchini. etc). I will also substitute fat-free half-n-half for the cream on occassion.

1 Cup Sliced Portabella Mushroom
1 Cup Butternut Squash (Diced ½" and Blanched)
3/4 Cup Diced Tomato
1 tsp Chopped Garlic
1 tsp Sage
½ Cup White Wine or Veggie Stock
½ Cup Cream
2 Cups of Cooked Fettuccine
3 TB Parmesan Cheese
1 TB Olive Oil
Pinch of Salt and Pepper

In a sauté pan cook mushrooms until golden brown in olive oil on medium high heat. Add garlic and salt and pepper and continue to cook for 30 seconds. Combine in tomatoes, squash and continue to cook for an additional 30 seconds.Add white wine and cream. Cook until sauce thickens.Thoroughly stir in sage, pasta and 2 tablespoons of cheese.Garnish with remaining Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Seeing Green

Today DH went on an adventure. After calling the local sod company to find out what their prices were (and letting them know that we would be picking it up in order for them to know which price to quote him), DH went to the sod be told that they had run out of sod. Why did they not tell him that when he called? Because they didn't know he wanted it today.

DH then called me to ask for the address to the next closest sod farm. To be safe, he had me call them to find out prices. All I could get was a recording that they couldn't come to the phone right now and that they started cutting sod on April 1st. DH decided to just go out there........and found no sod farm. Nothing but residential addresses. They apparently had their own sod and were not selling any.

DH finally went to Home Depot to pick up a pallet of sod. not the best quality but by then we were just wanting to get the job done. With help from the kids (DS#1 and DD were playing on the dirt pile) we did the entire job in a little over an hour.

Now it is a bit of a shock whenever I look out the window and see green where there wasn't green before. It makes the house look so much better. Who knew that green grass could make me smile?

Next week: trees, bushes, and flowers all to make our house look good to potential buyers. Please keep us in your prayers. We are specifically asking Heavenly Father to bless us that our house will sell quick and at a fair price.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Many thanks to my CLC friend Kim in Chicago for this fabulous recipe! I love this for entertaining (I found out that you can hold this in the oven on warm if your guests are an hour late). This also works great cooking while you are at your church meetings. Freezes well. My kids love it if I chop the onions and the red peppers small enough so they can't identify them.

Reprinted from the Chicago Tribune
Kim's note: I always serve this with couscous. Warming, substantive and lively in flavor, this stew also can be made with with an equal weight of well-trimmed lamb stew meat instead of the pork.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 2 1/2 hours
Yield: 4 servings

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon each: ground cloves, dried leaf thyme
2 pounds boneless pork sirloin, trimmed of all visible fat, cut into 1 1/4-inch cubes, patted dry
3 tablespoons light olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 large red onions, 1 pound total, coarsely chopped
2 medium red peppers, 12 ounces total, roasted, cut into 1/2-inch squares (Kim's note: A lot of times I just buy a jar of roasted red peppers and dice them up)
1 cup orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
Rind of 1/2 orange, removed with grater

1. Put rack in center of oven. Heat oven to 300 degrees.

2. Put flour, salt, pepper, clove and thyme in large plastic bag. Add meat in two batches to coat.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over high heat. When hot, add half the meat. Brown on all sides. Set aside in 2-quart casserole. Add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. When hot, brown remaining meat. Add to casserole.

4. Heat remaining oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onions. Stir up any browned bits on bottom of skillet. Cook until onions are soft, about 4 minutes. Add to casserole with red peppers, orange juice, sugar, vinegar and bay leaf. Mix well.

5. Bake, covered, for 1 1/2 hours. Stir well, pressing meat down into pan juices. Bake, uncovered, until meat is tender, about 1 hour more. Add grated rind. Adjust seasoning. Can be made as long as three days ahead or frozen. To reheat, bring to room temperature. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven until hot, about 30 minutes. Or cook on high power in microwave oven in covered microwave-safe casserole until hot, about 5 minutes, stirring midway.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mr. Dream Date (in training)

We have date nights with our kids. Its a chance to spend some one-on-one time with them. This week is was DS#3's turn. He wanted to go see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Not my first choice for a flick but my opinion wasn't important.

DS#3, who is 6, opened doors for me, paid for the tickets (all right, I did fork over the cash for that) and asked if I wanted any popcorn (no, I didn't but he did buy some for himself). He picked the seats and sat down. Actually, I sat, he bounced up and down in his seat from the excitement of seeing a ninja movie. We talked about school, ninja moves, friends, ninja moves, our upcoming move, ninja moves....... until the trailers started to roll. At that point he hugged me every few minutes and told me how much he loved dates.

During the movie, DS#3 made sure to share his popcorn and sour candy (I think he loved watching me pull a face every time he fed me the candy). He tried hard to be quiet. We did have to discuss proper movie etiquette at one point in the middle of the show. He was then tempted to tell the family behind us the rules of proper movie etiquette as it was obvious that they had never learned them. I pointed out to him that their mom would have to teach them just as I was teaching him.

After the movie he opened the theater door and later the car door for me. We drove home in time for me to make dinner. The talk at the table wasn't just about the movie. DS #3's older brothers quizzed him on how he treated me on the date. They know the drill because they have learned it, too.

These dates were set up to teach my sons how to treat a girl. In these modern times chivalry is not dead. Romance is in. They will know the difference between true compliments and flattery. They will know how to dress for the occasion (the slob look is not in). They will know how to cook a romantic dinner. They will know that bringing flowers for no reason is a very good thing.

Of course, my sons have a great example. My Darling Husband already does all those things.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Family Nights

We've been using part of our Family Nights (every Monday) to teach our children using the book "Teaching Your Children Values" by Richard and Linda Eyre. We focus on one value a month.

Last month the value was Honesty. We talked about the definition of honesty with our younger children ("I ate the cookie and then I said I didn't do it. Is that honest?) and went through scenarios with our older children (You cheated on a test, but it did get you an A. What are the consequences? - You won't study well for the next test and you won't learn anything.) There was even a certificate for Honesty Under Pressure which circulated among the kids during the month. We also learned the Primary song "I Believe In Being Honest" . You can find the song at:,17929,4958-1-2,00.html

This month the value is Courage. I think the Eyre's had the perfect explanation for this. Talmage is the Eyre's son:

Eight Year old Talmage: "Yeah - it takes real courage to be a chicken."
Dad: "What do you mean by that?"
Talmage: Well, I mean if the kids are trying to get you to do something that you don't think is right - or it's really, really dangerous, and they're saying you're chicken, then it takes real courage to be a chicken and say "yeah, I'm a chicken."

I have been surprised at how well my children have participated in this. When I am focusing on the younger two, the older two help out with input and cheering during the games. When I focus on the older two the younger cheer them on with a "Good Job!" and "You're awesome!" The kids even love learning the song I pick to go with the theme. The song is performed for their dad at the last Family night of the month. The song I picked for this month is Dare To Do Right:,17929,4958-1-2,00.html#nullLink

It has been wonderful to listen to my kids as they sing. I firmly believe that singing helps to anchor a lesson and have heard DS#3 singing on his own as he plays or cleans his room.

Here is to raising healthy, happy, responsible kids. I need all the help I can get.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Feeling a little Irish?

A conversation today with my 6 yr old DS#3 while riding in the car:

DS: "Mom, I think I'm feeling a little Irish."

Me: "What? Why do you think that?"

DS: "I feeling a little Irish because I am turning into a Lepercan."

Me: "Lepercan? Do you mean a Leprechaun?"

DS: " Yeah I think I am turning into a Lepercan. I kinda feel like the whole universe is turning into Lepercans."

Me: "The whole entire universe?"

DS: "You know, like Leperdogs, Lepercats, Leperducks........Lepercans."

Me: "You're going to have to explain this to me. You lost me."

DS: "I was watching this show on TV and the boy was turning into a Lepercan and his Mom was already a Lepercan but his Dad wasn't a Lepercan because he isn't Irish. When the boy turned into a Lepercan he felt funny. That's because he's Irish..........."

The next time you're feeling a little Irish check your ears for pointy tops and your clothes for a green tinge. Oh, and look out for Leperducks.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Seeing Red

The Stager has come and gone. She remarked that I had a good eye for arranging furniture. Really? Wow, who knew? However, when it comes to accessorizing, I am incompetent. Rather, I should say, I am nonexistent. I do not buy accessories other than a few pieces of artwork to hang on the wall. There is good reason for that.....

As per the Stager's instructions, I went shopping. Four stores and seven years later (it just seemed like seven years because I do not like to shop) I was the proud owner of 4 red throw pillows, 3 bunches of daisies with red vases, 2 topiaries, (and a partriiidge in a pear treeeeeee). I set things up and the living room does look nicer. At least it did until the boys came home.

Popular belief states that bulls are drawn to the color red. Well, my boys are drawn to red, too. As soon as they came home they noted the changes to our living room. They were drawn to the red pillows............and could not resist the urge to have an impromptu pillow fight. I barely saved the topiaries from being knocked over.

I tried to calmly explain to the boys why we had new accessories and how they were supposed to make our home inviting to prospective buyers. I finally had to end with threatening that anything red was outlawed from their persons and they would be severely punished if caught with any red paraphernalia.

Lucky for me our neighbors just bought a basketball stand. Hopefully the novelty of my new accessories will pale in comparison to a daily ball game.