Monday, January 26, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Gratitudes

I know, I know. I missed last week. It was crazy here with me getting ready for the first week of my new Semester at school. My classes will prove interesting enough for a few blog posts. But I saved up one big gratitude from a two week study:

I had a lightbulb moment. I've wondered for a while why The Love Magnet appears to be the most popular girl at her school. Everyone says "hi" to her. She stops to hug them all (a few get a kiss on the cheek. I really should get her to stop that - she needs to learn personal boundaries. But it's just so darn cute!)

TLM even has a reputation at the middle school. Secondborn reports that the kids who previously attended our elementary school still talk about her enough to the point where their friends come up to him and ask if he is TLM's brother. It's been funny to listen to the stories from Secondborn and his friends.

This past week showed me why kids keep talking about her and why kids want to be around her. The Love Magnet was playing Wii tennis with my sons and their friends. I was on the computer (doing homework) when I heard noise that indicated one of the visiting boys beat TLM at tennis. Right when the shouts died down, my daughter piped up "You WIN! You AWESOME!" I peek over the 2nd floor balcony to watch my daughter congratulate the winner with a hug and a big grin.I have never seen this happen before. Kids that age are usually sore losers. They don't like to lose. But my daughter was thrilled for her opponent. Her reaction connected the dots for me:

  • The Love Magnet makes everyone around her feel loved and accepted. She doesn't worry about looks, or capabilities, or popularity. She will spread her kind of love around to everyone who will receive it.
  • This past week when one of her classmates fell out of her chair, TLM, ran over to see if she was okay and would only sit down after she saw for herself that her friend wasn't hurt.
  • She cheered for those picked to participate in music class last week (and she was picked twice by fellow classmates.)
  • She says Hi or Good Morning to every single child and school staff on her way to class. No one gets overlooked.
  • And this week I watched her be as excited for her opponents win as she would for her own win.

So this week I am grateful for my pint-sized teacher and her lesson of Unconditional Love and Acceptance. I hope I've learned it well. One down, sweetie, possibly a whole school. Now you've got the world left to go.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Marmalade Chicken

Marmalade Chicken
Adapted from Eating Well Jan./Feb. ‘09
Makes 4 servings

My notes: Easy weeknight pantry meal. I subbed coarse ground mustard for regular Dijon, b/s chicken breasts for the tenders, and more than doubled the orange zest. The flavor is not overwhelming, surprisingly mild even with my changes. Big thumbs up even from my picky eater. This will go into regular rotation. I served this with brown rice (to soak up sauce) and steamed broccoli.

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 teaspoon coarse ground Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 pound chicken breasts sliced into strips
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 large shallots, minced
1 Tablespoon freshly grated orange zest

1. Whisk broth, vinegar, marmalade, mustard and cornstarch in a medium bowl.2. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 4 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. 3. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and shallots to the pan and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 30 seconds. Whisk the broth mixture and add it to the pan. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer; cook until the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened, 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Add the chicken; return to a simmer. Cook, turning once, until the chicken is heated through, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in orange zest.

Per serving: 213 calories; 8 g fat (1 g sat, 5 g mono); 68 mg cholesterol; 10 g carbohydrate; 27 g protein; 0 g fiber; 246 mg sodium; 55 mg potassium.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Even More 14 Days of Valentines Ideas

The following is from my fellow Cookie, Carol (Carol is the Cookie who knitted The Love Magnet a Red Riding Hood hat before TLM had her open-heart surgery). Carol copied a few of mine and had some great ideas of her own:

1 sweet baby boy - blowup of Levi
2 lunch for two at his favorite local dive
3 movie nights - we watch whatever he picks, no whining
4 love poems - various places around the house
5 heart-shaped red velvet cupcakes (his favorite dessert)
6 years together
7 x 70 that he's forgiven me (note; how much I appreciate his patience and good nature)
8 eternity - commitment to each other
9 ways he is the best dad ever
10 ways to say I love you (languages)
11 taper candles with printed menu
12 ways he is the best guy for me
13 love songs loaded on a special playlist on his iPod
14 Valentine's Day Dinner

For Valentine's Day dinner, I am ripping off an idea from a restaurant I went to in Toronto a long time ago. They were called Mezzetta - they had a mezza menu where you ordered small portions of a whole bunch of stuff. It was great fun. I don't have everything finalized for that yet, but there will be cheese fondue, asparagus BBB, artichoke/spinach dip with homemade bread, chicken rangoon, more stuff I haven't decided on, and for dessert, another favorite of his: meringue nests with vanilla ice cream and berry sauce. I am doing a silly thing with cards - we have an old deck of playing cards that is needing to be retired. I am throwing out everything but the hearts and one joker. Each day, he gets the corresponding number (or face) card with a hint (written in Sharpie) about where to look for his surprise that day. On the 14th, I'll use the joker.

I am going to rip off idea #7 for next year. thanks, Carol! You can find more of Carol (including cool knitting projects here.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

More 14 Days of Valentines Ideas

These come from my fellow Cookie Sally. She has some great ideas this year:

1. One apple – you are the apple of my eye
2. You are two sweet – two candy kisses
3. Picture perfect kids - Pictures of kids in heart frames
4. You are four me – give 4 love sayings on heart shaped post-its
5. I am not full of hot air – 5 heart shaped balloons
6. you are my sweetie pie - Pie sliced in six pieces –
7. You are stuck with me – 7 heart magnets
8. – Eggactly what I want - Eight items on breakfast plate – three eggs, two pieces toast, three pieces of sausage or bacon
9. Nine reasons I can’t say no to you – nine is no in german.
10 Say “I love you in 10 languages 11 You hold the ticket to my heart – 11 tickets with love sayings
12. You are my muffin man (inside joke) – give a dozen heart shaped blueberry muffins
13. Sugar and spice – sugar packet and 12 spice candies
14 Fourteen opera cream candies – with a personal saying -

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Great Big Thank You

(The Love Magnet received a package in the mail today.)

What is it, Mom?

It's a..................


But not just any scarf..........


Who sent this to me? Let me read it myself, Mom.

Thank you Auntie Cookies from TTOOL.

I love you very much.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Running Update

I haven't been running in six weeks. Yes, I am ashamed to admit it. My weight has creeped up from all the holiday noshing. I have started to have dreams of what I would be like if I let myself go worse than now. (Now I know that dreams aren't accurate, that I won't grow 18" chin hairs, have my triceps sag down past my elbows, or that my teeth will fall out. But you know how dreams are. It shook me up, as illogical as it seemed).

So last night I made a goal which I emailed to all my Relief Society sisters to help keep me focused. I committed to running M/W/F and most Saturdays at a specific time each day. I asked if anyone wanted to join me (no one did, yet).

This morning I dressed in running gear to take the kids to school. I know I looked ridiculous driving to school while wearing running gear, but The Love Magnet is slow. Getting her to move in the right direction and at a regular speed is like herding cats. It isn't going to happen.

I came home. Posted on Face Book that I was going for a run. Posted on my Kookies WW board that I was going for a run. Psyched myself up. Turned on my Garmin and got it linked up to those mysterious satellites in the heavens. Walked out the door.

oooh. ugh. puff....puffpuff......*gasp*....chug...chug...chug

It was hard. Really hard. I know I am going to have to bite the bullet and get over the fact that it will be hard for the next two weeks.

At least I am proud for getting out. 2 1/2 miles 11:30/mile

Here we go again.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Gratitudes

Today was the first day (for our family) of new Primary teachers. Normally, its a day that is very traumatic for The Love Magnet. She doesn't handle change well. We found out that her new Primary teacher is the mom of a girl whom TLM loves very much. They came over this week to bring my daughter a treat. Sister F included a picture of herself (a very cool pic - she is a photographer) so The Love Magnet would remember who to look for on Sunday. TLM carried that picture around the rest of the week. I kept finding it on the Love Sac, the couch, her bed.....and would put it on the fridge at her eye-level to find again. Today, The Love Magnet talked about her new teacher all the way to Primary. She entered the room and went straight to her new class. No tears. No trauma. I am so grateful that Sister F came to visit. I'm grateful that this year was much easier to transition. The Love Magnet saw her teacher from last year across the room and waved enthusiastically. Then my love turned to me and said "Mom, go to your class." I couldn't. TLM requires two teachers in her class and a 2nd teacher still needed to be called. TLM wasn't happy that I escorted her everywhere. Oh, well.

I'm grateful for the smell of Sunday dinner cooking when I walked through the door tonight. Baked chicken. "Mashed 'ta-toes an' gwavy", cornbread stuffing, veggies and dip, and the ubiquitous jello (it was even green with pineapple - a rarity at this house). I'm thankful that we have food on our table. We are blessed with Mr. Wonderful's job and his willingness to work hard for his family.

The weather has been warmer. Not warm, just not below freezing. I'm grateful to have the sun out again. My mood needed it.

I'm grateful that Secondborn scored so well on his tests this week. He was so excited to come home and give me a play-by-play of every single test. While I am at it, let me express how thankful I am that he wants to talk to me. It's so much better than receiving monosyllabic answers.

I'm grateful for the teachers that will be testing Thirdborn starting this week. I hope their expertise can give us some answers to help him in reading, spelling, and math. Its getting harder and harder to get him to try. He has just about convinced himself that he can't do it.

Today I received an email from Special Olympics that we have been chosen to help host the delegates from Kazakhstan! I am thankful and thrilled for the opportunity my family will have to learn about these people and their culture. We had such a good experience last year with the athletes from Lebanon.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Honey don't read this either....Valentine Stuff

Here it is: The 14 Days of Valentines 2009 list

1. Giant Valentine Card (bought at the after-Valentine sales last year)

2. Two Feet – Cheesy poem for a foot rub that night
3. Movie tix and Red Vines

4. 4 Cute Kids poster hung on garage door

5. Five phone calls (I’ll have 5 people call or send emails to wish him Happy 5th Day of Valentines. People he hasn’t talked to in ages.

6. I can’t tell you this one. He’ll love it.

7. I’m in Heaven (new feather pillow and a certificate to sleep in on Valentine’s Day morning (I’ll take the kids out to bfast so the house is quiet. Might try to keep them gone all morning.)

8. Eternity (picture of the SL Temple and memories of how I felt on our wedding day)

9. Family Night about Dads

10. Ten Things I Love About You (send emails, scatter labels, etc)

11. Two candle sticks to light for Valentine’s dinner. Include printed menu.

12. Twelve Love Notes/sonnets/poems/quotes (11 found, 1 original by me)

13. Thirteen languages to say I Love You (hot pink post-it notes on his truck, in his laptop, wallet, on his sun glasses, bathroom mirror, etc.)

14. Dinner and a movie

Now for the menu (which can be changed, but I doubt this will)

Appetizer: Smoked Salmon and cucumber rounds
Soup: Lobster bisque (Costco)
Main: Halibut Oscar , risotto, rosemary bread from Costco
Dessert: Crème Brulee with Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

The recipes for Halibut Oscar and Creme Brulee come from our fave restaurant in Utah, Market Street Grill. In fact, the halibut is his favorite dish. We always would share creme brulee or Raspberry Almond Torte afterwards (which I might make instead of creme brulee). I really miss that place.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Honey don't read this.....Valentine stuff

Last night I worked on the 12th day of Valentines: 12 Love Notes. I had to be sneaky because Mr. Wonderful was home and he thinks I spend too much time on the computer.

I'm rather proud of this. (No, not my reputation for spending too much time on the computer.) I thought the Love Notes research turned out great. Between my computer and my own personal library, I found some doozies. Some of them are:

Trust; perfect confidence, honor, and love
Come from the Perfected Being above—
These make the truest of sweethearts kind—
These, my Jewel, in you I find.
-David O. Mackay, Heart Petals, p.44

"And what is a kiss, specifically? A pledge properly sealed, a promise seasoned to taste, a vow stamped with the immediacy of a lip, a rosy circle drawn around the verb 'to love.' A kiss is a message too intimate for the ear, infinity captured in the bee's brief visit to a flower, secular communication with an aftertaste of heaven, the pulse rising from the heart to utter its name on a lover's lip: 'Forever.'"

- Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Act 3

In all our losses, all our gains,In all our pleasures, all our pains,The life of life is: Love remains.In every change from good to ill,--If love continues still,Let happen then what will.

- Theodore Tilton

"We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet..... I mean, what does any one life mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things..... all of it, all the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness'". –Shall We Dance

There are more. They will all be printed on white paper, rolled up, and tied with a red ribbon. They will be hidden in pockets, in his truck, in shoes. The last one (mine) will be waiting in my hands to greet him as he walks in the door that night.

I absolutely love getting ready for this!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The 14 Days Of Valentines

Its that time of year again! Time to show your Mr. Wonderful (or Mrs./Miss) that he absolutely warms your heart. Take the first 14 days of February and do something for him/her that will be completely unexpected, completely charming, and completely knocks his socks off! See the previous post under the 14 Days of Valentines under blog labels for ideas.

I had a few questions come up last year that require the following clarification.


1. This is not a vehicle for you to dump guilt on your Mr. Wonderful if he is not the romantic type. If you are a guilt-dumper, change your ways or your are not allowed to play.

2. This is not a contest. There is no competition to see who comes up with the best ideas. All ideas are free for the taking. In fact, I encourage the sharing and taking of ideas. Your only prize will be a deliriously happy Mr. Wonderful (or Mrs./ get the idea).

3. This is not a build up for gifts. Do not expect a gift. This is for you to completely shower your Love with pure love. Completely selfless. You do not automatically deserve jewelry for doing this.

Okay now that is all settled. Onto the sharing of ideas! (Oh, and before I forget: Mr. Wonderful, if you are reading this post - its time for you to log off. No peeking. Shoo.)

Truly he won't read this if I tell him not to read this. Isn't he amazing?

This year I will be changing a few things. Day 4 will still be "4 Beautiful Children" with pictures of the kids. But.....this year it will be a candid shot, completely silly, and blown up to poster size. If the weather permits, it will be hung on the garage door. I shall try to capture his reaction for you.

The 1st Day of Valentines will be One Giant Valentines Day Card that I picked up on sale last year after Valentines Day.

The 12th Day of Valentines falls on Family Night which means we shall dedicate it to Mr. Wonderful. This year I shall be more prepared and make sure the kids are prepared BEFORE the big day.

As for the rest, it will be decided in the next week. I like to give myself at least 2 weeks to gather everything.

Don't forget to make dinner on the 14th just for the two of you. Homemade, or pick up something yummy. I'll post my menu as soon as its decided.

Leave a comment. Let me know what your are planning. Spread the love.

There isn't enough selfless love in the world right now.


My ideas from last year:
Feb 1 - You Have My One Heart - heart shaped chocolates (Dove) in cute red/pink/white takeout box. Heart decoration over his mirror. Box and decoration for $1 each at Target.

Feb 2- For just the Two of Us - invitation in calligraphy on nice card stock to my homemade valentine dinner. Include menu and two candles, and bottle of sparkly.

Feb 3 - The Three necessities for our next date night - 2 movie tix and a box of Red Vines.

Feb 4 - Four Beautiful Children (and one cute wife)- head shots of the kids and me taped to the inside of his windshield. I might even write with lipstick on his windshield

Feb 5 - Five (x2) fingers - massage lotion from Bath & Bodyworks

Feb 6 - Six candy bars in a candy gram - things like Big Hunk, Twix, Sugar Daddy etc. No, I am NOT telling you what I am writing!

Feb 7 - Seven freshly made orange or cinnamon rolls. Hide the rest for later.

Feb 8 - I'll love you for Eternity (Eight on its side). This will be a home made Valentine card.

Feb 9 - Nine Items for Breakfast in Bed - 3 egg omelet with spinach, mushrooms and feta (that makes 6), sourdough toast (7), orange juice (8), broiled fresh pineapple (9)

Feb 10 - 10 - Ten Things I Love About You written on beautiful card stock and propped on his pillow to find when he gets home

Feb 11 - Eleven Reasons we are grateful for our dad and husband Family Home Evening. The kids will be involved with this one. I'll let them run with their imaginations and each come up with something.

Feb 12 - Twelve Hugs and Twelve Kisses. Hershey's Hugs and Kisses (12 each!) in another cute little takeout container. DH shares all chocolates with the kids. As long as it isn't dark chocolate, I have no problem abstaining.

Feb 13 - Thirteen Ways To Say I Love You on Post-It Notes. Start researching languages now. Make sure you write down what language it is. If your DH speaks a foreign language, be sure to include that one in the thirteen languages. Be silly and go for pig latin. Be creative with drawings of ASL signs. Write it Korean/Chinese/Japanese if you know the calligraphy.

Feb 14 - A letter expressing how much I love him and a note to remind him to meet me for dinner at a certain time.

Other Ideas from last year: hide red note card around the room with your fave romantic movie quotes, sonnets, Shakespeare, poetry, and sayings for him to find.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Sunday Gratitudes

This past week we were in Utah for the funeral of Mr. Wonderful's grandpa. Grandpa-Great was an amazing man. He built and flew his own airplane (he also built his own boat and his own home.) He ran incredibly successful businesses. He help his grandsons on their missions. Grandpa-Great had suffered many years with Parkinson's disease. At one point, he decided that he would rather have a clear head than be on all the medication, including pain med, that muddled his thinking. He quit all meds a few years ago. When it looked like he was ready to leave us, Mr. Wonderful drove down to be with him in his last hours. I'm grateful that he made it in time. Mr. Wonderful called to tell me that Grandpa-Great passed peacefully and was finally free from pain. When I told my children, Thirdborn said "Mom, I'll bet he is having THE BEST family reunion right now!" I'm sure Grandpa did. His wife died 28 years ago. He also had a daughter wwho died when she was 5 or 6. I would have loved to see that family reunion.

This year instead of making resolutions, I decided to make specific study goals. My study goals for school are set so I am making personal scripture study goals. This month I want to focus on Prayer. Along with scripture references in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine & Covenants, I have been pulling conference talks and Ensign articles: Prayer by Ezra Taft Benson (when he was an apostle), Improving Our Prayers by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, and Learning to Recognize Answers to Prayer by Elder Richard G. Scott. Every night that I study I record thoughts and inspiration in a new journal. I am grateful for this goal. I have faith that it will improve my scripture study and answers some questions that are really puzzling me. If you have any suggestions on articles or insights, I would greatly appreciate them. I've yet to decide the upcoming subjects in subsequent months.

I'm grateful for all the prayers said in behalf of my family today as we traveled home. We were safe. The roads were clear and the weather fine.

I'm grateful that school starts up again tomorrow - at least for the kids. The Love Magnet especially does better on a set schedule. she has been begging for the past two weeks to go back to school. I still have two weeks to get things together for my school, thank heavens.

I'm grateful for my house, my bed, my kitchen, my tub, my own computer with my own bookmarks in much as I love being with my family, its nice to come home.