Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday Gratitudes

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First of all, I am so grateful for modern technology! We set up a video phone on the computer and were able to talk to my parents in Africa for the first time yesterday. It was wonderful to see their faces. My kids were so excited and talking all at once that it was hard to communicate at times. The sound didn't work well and we ended up typing the conversations while watching the video feed. Yesterday afternoon we ended up taking the webcam back and buying a better one. Can't wait to talk to them today!

Today during Sacrament Meeting, the Young Men's president got up to share his testimony and mentioned that he had challenged his YM to get up and share their testimonies today. Ater ten minutes with no young men, but a lot of young women, kids, and adults sharing their testimonies, my Firstborn got up and shared his testimony. That takes a lot of courage! I was proud that he would meet the challenge and awed with his faith and what he believes. Apparently the bishop was impressed, too, because he called DS#1 this afternoon and asked him to speak in church in two weeks. DS#1 did not seem put out. He immediately got online to see the talk by President Hinkley that was to be the focus of his talk.

DS#2 has tested so high on the state testing that he has been moved up to the tougher programs in school and is practicing (and acing) 7th grade level spelling tests. He also had the opportunity this past week to go to a college football game with DH and spend some quality time with his dad. Hooray for vendors who love to give football tickets away and hooray for a great DH who immediately thought of his sports-loving DS#2. They had a great time.

I already mentioned the adversity that DS#3 has faced this past week. Last night he came into my room before bedtime and we talked about what happened that week. We said our prayers together, with him going first. In his sweet prayer, he asked Heavenly Father to bless him that he will be able to remember what he learned and to make everyone feel welcome and liked in school so they wouldn't have to go through what he did. DS#3 also asked for help with his handwriting. The Spirit was strong. DS's faith is so simple. I hope I have faith like that.

DD has really started to improve in her letter writing with big thanks due to her aide. DNDN has worked hard with her all week. Now DD wants to practice on every available surface. I am grateful that she remembers that the walls of our home are not an appropriate surface to practice on. Now if I could just get her to understand that important papers are not an appropriate surface, either. I am grateful that she is so motivated and loves to learn.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Hard Times in Elementary

DS#3 has been having a hard time in school. His teacher called to tell me he had been acting up, which didn't sound like him at all. After talking to him we discovered that two boys had been picking on him at recess. They had previously been his best friends but had since had a falling out. DS even gave them his tooth fairy money to try to win them back. (Kudos to their parents for making them give the money back.) We had a mtg this morning with his teacher to talk about things. DS and his two antagonists have been to see the school counselor to work through their conflict so hopefully that has been resolved.

DS also hates handwriting because he doesn't do it well. It just doesn't come easy to him which is normal for boys this age. DS's teacher is one of the great ones and came up with wonderful suggestions to help him in school and at home. Since we all believe in helping him work through adversity, rather than making it all better for him, the next week or so might be tough for him but he can handle it.

Before we left, Teacher had to share a funny DS-ism with us. This past week, DS was in line at lunch and was clearly excited. When Teacher asked him why he said "Because we are having my favorite pizza for lunch today!" Teacher said "So, you REALLY like pepperoni pizza?" "No", DS replied, "I really like SQUARE pizza!"

Yes, I think he will be just fine.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Your Monster Profile
Cruel Beheader
You Feast On: Grass
You Lurk Around In: The Empire State Building
You Especially Like to Torment: Dentists

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I want to win this contest. I could use a new look....

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Therapy For Me

One of my favorite times of the day is when DD comes home from kindergarten. I pick her up (rather than have her take the bus) so I can talk to her teacher and her special aide to find out what happened that day.

When we get home, DD tells me what she wants for lunch, usually noodle anything. I give her the special pink flowered plastic place mats that are our own special lunchtime mats. There are only two so we use them when it is just us. The pink flowers on them scream "No Boys Allowed". She is now tall enough to get the spoons out of the utensil drawer by herself. Today she grabbed six spoons and carefully counted them as she set the table. I reminded her that the boys would not be home until almost dinnertime. She asked "Daddy come lunch with me?" DH could not be here, either, so DD put four spoons back in the drawer.

By the time she is done setting the table, I have soup heated up in the microwave. I set the bowls down and pour the milk. Then we bow our heads and hold hands while DD says the prayer on the food. She is sure to include thank yous for milk and crackers and bowl and spoon. This time she remembered on her own to bless GamaPapa Africa (my parents who are missionaries in Africa) and also blessed her daddy.

After the prayer we eat soup while she tells me about her day. We talk about the letters she is learning to write (L, O, and A), the colors she used today in art, and what she did at recess. Today she listened well at story time and was praised by her teachers. That was a big accomplishment as she doesn't like to sit still for long. When lunch is finished, she clears her own bowl, spoon and cup. Then she grabs the new books she brought home from kindergarten and we head to my room.

My bed is as tall as she is, so it is funny to watch DD climb up. She still has those acrobatic moves as she climbs on the rail and then hikes one leg higher than her shoulder to help push herself up onto my bed. We snuggle together amid blankets and pillows and read books. DD is sure to point out the letters she knows (all the capital and some of the lower case). If there are repeating words, she reads those to me. Actually, I think she just remembers them and knows when I point at a word and look at her it is her turn to recite her part. That is okay, she is still learning.

With books finished, we cuddle quietly for a few minutes. DD usually falls asleep quickly. I don't want to leave. I love holding her and looking at her sweet features. But, laundry and kitchen need to be done so I eventually drag myself downstairs to be a grownup. But, sometimes, I stay in bed. DD is my love-magnet. She radiates love. Sometimes its more important to stay.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday Gratitudes

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Today it is cold and raining. I love the rain for sentimental reasons - it rained on my wedding day. I wasn't happy about it at the time, but, seeing the rain now brings back the good memories of that day. Not to mention, I especially love to see low clouds on the mountains. Rather hard to see that at my new home since the mountains are not close like they were in Utah.

    • Since it is cold and raining, I am particularly grateful for the good food on our table. Not because I am a great cook (I like to think so but I am sure my family can tell you there have been times that were otherwise), but because we have a kitchen to cook in, and the money and the stores to buy healthy food that we didn't grow. I love how food can be so comforting and evoke good memories. I love reading about food and cooking in novels and biographies and how things were different or the same in other times and cultures. I am currently reading "It's All Over But The Shouting" by Ricky Bragg, an autobiography of his life growing up in Alabama and Georgia. As poor as his family was, he still has amazing food memories of biscuits, red-eye gravy, fried chicken, pecan pie, all of the jams and preserves that his mother, grandmother, and aunts put up. These descriptions evoke memories of visiting my Grandmother in Georgia and the food that she has on her table. I have many of her recipes in her writing that I cherish more than all of my cookbook collection. I also have a small family cookbook put together by my Grandma in Utah. That book is more dog-eared and splashed on than any other cookbook I own because I use it more than any other cookbook I own. Real comfort food. The recipes from these two wonderful women, along with food I learned to cook standing next to my own mom, these are the dishes requested most by my family. And they are best cooked on a rainy day. Tonight, on a rainy day, we are having Beef Stroganoff. Its a recipe taught to me by my mom. She served it most often on Sundays with steamed broccoli, jello salad, and rolls. I do the entire menu the same way.
    • This week I am grateful for the scouting program (again, I know). I spent last week sewing on the numerous patches, troop #s. and merit badges on 3 separate uniforms. I have the sore and hole-y fingers to prove it. As much as I hate sewing, this was a chore that I was grateful to do because it gave tangible proof to me of the hard work my two oldest sons and DH put into scouting. The things they have learned and will learn are skills that will help them for the rest of their lives. I also kept thinking of my mom sewing patches and badges for 5 sons and of all the mothers who do this. Aren't we blessed to have this program!
    • I am grateful for my Dear Husband. He has been sick with bronchitis all week and still going to work. He has shown such concern for doing his job well. He comes home tired and still loads the dishwasher, helps with homework and reads to the kids before we tuck them in bed. The stress of work is left at the door at our house (if it does come in, which is rare, he takes it out on video games after the young ones are tucked in bed.) He never gets enough recognition (which he never asks for) but he deserves a great standing ovation and a huge armful of Sunday Gratitude.
    • My church choir sang for the first time today with me as the conductor. It is such a joy to work with these people. Some can read music and some can't. The abilities are all across the scale. The one thing they all share is a love of music and a willingness to put up with me. We sang a beautiful version of "I Need Thee Every Hour" that can be found on I am grateful for music that soothes the soul and lifts the heart and also for those who sing it with such a spirit of love.
    I am a Child of God
    and He has sent me here.
    Has given me an earthly home
    with parents kind and dear.
    Lead me, guide me, walk beside me.
    Help me find a way.
    Teach me all that I must do
    to live with him someday.

    Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    What's For Dinner Tonight
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    Smoked Ham Soup with White Beans

    If you have the time, soak the beans overnight instead of using the quick-soak method called for; this will result in creamier beans. This high-fiber soup is also great when made with dried cannellini beans. Serve with your favorite corn bread recipe.

    1 (16-ounce) package dried navy beans
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    2 cups chopped yellow onion
    4 garlic cloves, minced
    8 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
    4 cups water
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
    1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    2 smoked ham hocks (about 1 pound)
    2 bay leaves
    1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained

    Sort and wash beans; place in a large Dutch oven. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain.
    Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add onion; cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add drained beans, broth, and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 1/2 hours or until beans are tender. Discard bay leaves.

    Remove ham hocks with a slotted spoon, and cool slightly. Remove meat from bones; discard fat, gristle, and bones. Shred meat with 2 forks.
    Place 1 cup of bean mixture in a blender; process until smooth. Return pureed bean mixture to pan; stir until blended. Stir in meat.

    Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups)

    CALORIES 323 (23% from fat); FAT 8.4g (sat 2.6g,mono 4g,poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 22g; CHOLESTEROL 27mg; CALCIUM 137mg; SODIUM 558mg; FIBER 16.2g; IRON 5.6mg; CARBOHYDRATE 40.7g

    Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2005

    Sunday, September 16, 2007

    Sunday Gratitudes
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    • This weekend I attended Time Out For Women with my aunt. She still came, even though she was sick, because she didn't want me to be alone. The talks were great and being in room with 3000+ women who are all trying to do what is right was empowering. I am also grateful that my DH watched the kids even though he was sick so I could go to this thing. He knew I needed the break after being the single mom for a week while he was out of town.This week was also Back To School Night. I have to express gratitude for teachers who obviously work so hard to plan and teach my children. More and more, I really like this new school.
    • DH for working as hard as he does. This past week he was in Texas training with other managers. He was able to meet many of the bigwigs including the company president of North America. One of the big wigs told him that with so many managers retiring within the next 5-10 years that a lot of eyes were on him to see what he was doing, and they like what they see so far. Its always nice to get a pat on the back. It makes me wonder if this means another transfer is in our future. If it is, then the company will also have to buy our house as part of the package deal! (No, our house in Utah has not sold yet. Please keep praying for us.)
    • I love fall! The trees are starting to turn colors here, the air is getting crisper, and I absolutely love it. Time to pull out my favorite soup and stew recipes. I'm looking forward to seeing what this new area has to offer.
    • I'm grateful for good kids. DH couldn't come to church today (he really feels ill and will be taking work off tomorrow. I guess I'd better find a family dr. quick!) It was hard to do my job as ward chorister with the little kids on the stand with me. DD was really having a hard time staying reverent and would yell when she was mad about something. DS#2 took her out once before the sacrament until she calmed down. DS #1 sat by us after his job of passing the sacrament was done. He kept DD entertained and reverent for the second half of Sacrament Meeting. It made my job easier. Too bad that the entire ward had to witness DD's bad behavior with us sitting in the choir seats right between the piano and the organ.
    I will be adding more later today as I think of them.

    Wednesday, September 12, 2007

    More obscure thinking from DS#3

    DS#3 was watching me get out the cereal, milk and bowls this morning.

    "Mom, why can't dads pick their nose when kids can?" I glanced at him from inside the pantry, not sure of what he asked.

    "Sweetie, what did you say?

    "Why can't dads pick their nose when kids can?" There was no hint of amusement in my son's face. He was quite serious.

    I looked him in the eyes. "Kids are not supposed to pick their noses, just like Dads aren't supposed to pick their noses. It isn't polite for anyone to pick their nose." Where did this come from, I wondered.

    "Oh", he said as he headed for the table. "I thought it was because the dads' fingers were too big."

    Sunday, September 09, 2007

    Sunday Gratitudes
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    1. I am grateful that DD is still safe and sound after wandering once and being accused of wandering twice. While I am here I have to write how grateful I am for good neighbors who will drop everything and come help me search for her. I didn't know it at the time, but DNDN knocked on doors and had half the neighborhood out looking for DD. It seems that I have a lot of cookies to bake tomorrow as we are taking plates and thank you notes to those who helped.

    2. This past weekend was my 20th high school reunion. It was wonderful to see good friends I had lost track of there and to discover that we still were really great friends. I have to admit that I am also grateful that the cutest cheerleaders of 20 yrs ago now have Mommy Bodies just like me.

    3. Along with discovering old friends this weekend it was a bit shocking to hear of how many class mates were divorced (The record was 4 times - and she got a prize for it!) I am so grateful for my marriage of 16 yrs to Mr. Wonderful. He is my love and my best friend. He always makes me feel beautiful and loved.

    4. I always pray for non eventful travels when I go long distances. My 5 1/2 hour drive to there and back were non eventful. I am very grateful that we were able to avoid a crazy truck driver doing at least 85 mph in a 65 mph zone. (Why are the craziest drivers driving the biggest vehicles?)

    5. I am grateful for my in-loves. (In-laws seems such an obligated word as if I were stuck with them, while In-Loves is more of what I have - people I love dearly. DH's parents are wonderful. They truly love us and were so willing to help with the kids this weekend so DH and I could attend the reunion activities. My In-Loves have been pulling weeds and taking care of things at the house we are selling, trying to make it more pleasing to buyers. They are constantly thinking of ways to help us. We felt so welcome in their home this past weekend.

    6. This past week DH and I were out doing errands and saw a RED rainbow. The sun was setting, it was cloudy and sprinkling. The rays of the sun blocked out all colors but red. It was a full-arched red rainbow.

    7. My Darling Grandma has been put into a nursing facility for two weeks to monitor her meds and evaluate her condition so her family can make some decisions regarding her care. I thought Grandma would be angry when we visited her yesterday. She wasn't happy at the news she had to stay there for two weeks, but she seemed to be doing well. She pointed out a woman who buzzed us in the locked front door and told me how sweet that woman was to her. Grandma also pointed out a man with a ponytail to tell me what "a nice young man he is, and so polite, too!" I am so thankful to know that good people will be looking out for her during her two week stay.

    8. While I am thinking about Grandma, I have to give thanks that Grandma and my Mom taught me how to bottle, freeze, dry and preserve. I want to start canning in the next two weeks. The pears are starting to show in the farmers market. I am also planning on salsa, peaches and jams: raspberry, pineapple-peach, pear, and plum-vanilla. I am sure I will freeze some fruit, too. I want to get to the church cannery to do spaghetti sauce, stew and turkey chunks. I am looking forward to organizing my food storage this fall and then planning the garden out during the winter months, while DH and the boys build food storage shelves.

    9. Grandma also taught me how to make Swedish Pancakes. This is my kid's favorite breakfast and a tradition that will be carried on with their kids. My mind has been so full of Grandma this past week and how much she continues to affect my thinking and my life. As kids we always requested Swedish Pancakes when sleeping over at her house. There is also the Christmas Cruellers recipe that I still make for neighbors who are lucky enough to be home when I take them out of the oil, sprinkle with lemon or vanilla sugar and deliver them hot to their door (they aren't nearly as good cold so the neighbors who aren't home miss out.)

    10. My daughter had her twice-yearly visit to the PCMC Cardiology department. They did the usual chest x-rays and an EKG (the echocardiogram happens every other visit). We have a new surgeon with whom DD got along well. He was pleased with her x-ray and said that her heart had not enlarged more. He was also pleased with her weight gain and growth. Dr. gave DD a high five (she also insisted on a hug) and said "See you in six months". I REALLY like non eventful cardiology visits, too.

    Wednesday, September 05, 2007

    There She Goes. There She Goes Again.

    Today I drove to the school to pick up DD (I had errands to run) which meant that I approached the school from the front instead of the back as I usually do when I walk. At the classroom door I was directed to go inside the kindergarten room. Once there, I was informed that DD had been missing for two minutes. The special ed aides were running everywhere looking for her. I sent one outside to the back of the school were the playgrounds are located. There she found DD, backpack on, running home. DD wouldn't stop and had to be physically stopped. She pitched a fit until she heard me call her and then came along calmly. I made DD look each aide in the eyes and apologize for scaring them and breaking their hearts. DD acted very subdued and knew that what she had done was wrong. We came home. She quietly ate her lunch and then asked to be excused. She then made her way upstairs, changed into an old shirt of DS#1's and laid down quietly for 45 minutes.

    Fast forward to tonight. DH and the two oldest boys were at scouts. DS#3 and DD were tucked in bed and sleeping (or so I thought). I was watching a movie when I heard a door shut. I didn't think much of it until I thought to see if it was DH and the boys coming home. I opened the door to the garage and found the garage door open but no DH. I then ran upstairs to make sure DD was in bed. No little girl in her bed. I ran outside and started to panic as it was getting dark and I didn't see her anywhere. I had no idea of how long she would have been gone. I called next door neighbor who is DD's personal aide at kindergarten. She ran out with her two daughters to start looking with me. I ran inside to check under her bed, no DD. As I ran past my dark bedroom to go downstairs I noticed an extra blanket on my bed. There was DD sleeping in my bed, so little that it was hard to see her near the pillow shams. I went outside to call off the search. Dear-Next-Door-Neighbor was out of breath and said she could not handle this twice in one day. I apologized profusely (while shaking and near tears). DNDN and her daughters were so sweet about it and said they would help anytime.

    It turns out that DH came home, opened the garage door, realized he left his briefcase at Scouts, and left to go get it. The sound of the door shutting was them as they started to come in and instead left to get the missing briefcase. I laid down on my bed next to DD and thanked God that she was safe and prayed for understanding and knowledge about how to teach her not to wander.

    On a lighter note, check out this link to the Special Olympics scandal:

    That should make you smile.

    Sunday, September 02, 2007

    Sunday Gratitudes
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    1. I am grateful for my kid's Primary teachers, Young Men Leaders and Scout leaders for all the time and service they give in behalf of my kids. They make my job as parent much easier. DS#1 Scout leaders deserve special thanks for helping my son get back on track for his Eagle.
    2. My brothers and sisters for keeping me in the loop on family happenings and being so willing to give so much to keep our extended family going.
    3. My Cookies online. These women have been with me for over 4 years. We started swapping healthy recipes and became more than acquaintances. They are sending prayers and good thoughts in my behalf to help get the house sold and that DD might stay healthy. They have been such a wonderful support. Meeting them in person in Chicago two years ago was one of the best times of my life.
    4. Music. Once again, I receive inspiration through singing and leading church hymns. Today's msg was yet another reminder of how God's plan is so much better than my plan. I need to be reminded often as I am often a stubborn child.
    5. Trees. Yesterday I went boating with my family. After feeding the kids I laid down on the grass (there was a park by the shore) and looked up at the trees. I loved all the shades of green: silvery-green, yellow-green, uber-green.....I loved the sound of the wind in the leaves and also watching the birds and squirrels. It was a great 60-second vacation.......until the sprinklers turned on and soaked me.
    6. I am thankful that my parents chose to serve a mission. My mom is having a hard time right now because my grandma is not doing well. Mom worries about not being there. I know that my parents are where Heavenly Father wants them to be right now. We pray for Grandma and Grandpa is Africa every day (multiple times a day) that they will be safe and healthy and have more strength then they thought they did. DD calls them "GramaPapa Africa" now.
    7. A comfortable bed that felt especially good last night. I was tired!
    8. The kid's school teachers. My kids love school and look forward to it. DD doesn't want to leave when I pick her up. My oldest looks forward to Honors English, Chinese, gym, and Seminary. DS#2 really likes his teacher and his gym teacher. DS#3 likes his teacher and the computer teacher. Teachers like these have made moving so much easier for my kids.
    9. Fresh garden tomatoes and cucumbers (Thanks to my inlaws and my Darling Aunt and Uncle! I can hardly wait to get a garden started next year.) Fresh raspberries thanks to a neighbor. Mmmmmmmm, raspberries!
    10. Darling Husband (aka Mr.Wonderful) for understanding that I don't like water skiing and tubing. Yesterday I got on the tube with him behind the boat. He saved me three times from falling off and endured my screaming the entire time. I am dreading to see the pics our friends took with the zoom lens.