Friday, April 24, 2009

What does Daddy do?

Last night we had an Enrichment meeting, where we had three guest speakers who talked about their areas of expertise: past affairs (geneology and personal history), present affairs (financial management), and future affairs (wills, power of attorney, etc.). It turned out really great, and the Strawberry Brownie Torte was a hit. On our way home from the church, Bree said, "We're going home to Daddy." I had to correct her: "No, Daddy's at work." Bree: "Yeah, he take all his guns to work." Me: "What does Daddy do at work?" Bree: "He shoots bad guys." Me: "No, he catches bad guys and puts them in jail." Bree: "Yeah, he gives them a lesson."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Done and done

Today I was outside pulling weeds between the cracks in the sidewalk in front of our house. One of my many talents. I'm sure that all the people who drove by (our corner gets a respectable amount of traffic, and many of the cars hold people we know) wondered why I just didn't spray the little buggers with weed-killer. Well, for one, I'm trying to avoid the chemicals. Two, weed-killer costs money, and my labor is cheap. And three: there is a strange satisfaction to prying stubborn weeds out with an old screwdriver.

Later, after Chad had gone to work I decided I really wanted my new porch light up like, right then. Since Chad hadn't found it in him to install it this morning, I did it on my own. I am so proud of myself! This is my very first experience with electrical wiring. It took me 30 minutes, and that included finding shorter mounting screws that actually worked. And the light is totally functioning! Come to find out, once you read the instructions, and pay attention to how the old fixure is wired, it's not that hard. Yay for me.

Friday, April 17, 2009

There's always room for dessert

Just as a heads-up, this post is not an attempt to toot my own horn. On the contrary, I am letting you in on a dirty little secret (one that may cause serious repercussions if read by the wrong people). Because I am a mother of two (with one on the way), stay-at-home-mom, wife of a cop with a crazy work schedule, and Relief Society president, I often have people say to me, "You have enough on your plate." And I nod and agree wholeheartedly. Yes, I do have a lot on my plate. But I find that as crazy as things may be (or as crazy as I let people believe them to be), and as full as my plate is, there is always room for dessert. I don't care how stuffed I am, I'm always able to stomach a cookie or slice of pie. And I can always make time in my life for stuff that I enjoy.

I'm not going to lie; I'm a pretty selfish person. I don't let my kids/husband/church calling/housework rule my life. I enjoy a lot of time-consuming activities that other people are always saying they don't have time for. "I don't have time to watch movies." "I don't have time to read books." "I don't have time to have a garden/bake bread/write on my blog." When I hear people say that, it makes me wonder if I don't have my priorities straight, because I can easily find/make time to do all those things. Am I neglecting important things? Yeah, sometimes. Could I be a better Relief Society President? Yep. Could my house be cleaner? Oh, yeah. But, like my weakness for dessert, I have a serious need to enjoy some selfish pleasures. Thankfully I have a very supportive husband (Chad's catch phrase is "Who cares? Do whatever you want."), and my kids aren't huge fans of my housecleaning/calling fulfilling/general obsessing anyway, so I take it that at least they're on my side. Thank goodness for that.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter news

Even though Easter weekend this year brought crummy weather (Saturday was 40 degrees, windy, and rainy), we still managed to have fun. Our ward had an Easter egg hunt Saturday morning, and we faithfully attended, partly to support my friend Kenzie and her new calling as Activities Committee Chair, and partly because I wasn't going to do an egg hunt with the kids at our house. There were more than enough eggs to go around (the rainy weather deterred the less zealous ward members), all filled with Bree's favorite thing: candy.

Chad and I have never dyed eggs as a married couple. Seven dye-free years. I figured it was high time to introduce Bree to the activity. She got pretty excited about all the different colors, and the little plastic shrink-wrap sleeves that go around the eggs. So yes, we dyed eggs, but no, the Easter Bunny didn't hide them (not much time Sunday morning before 9:00am church).

Sunday morning is always a little crazy trying to get everyone ready for church on time, but the kids found their hidden baskets and ate a little candy before getting all dressed up. Sadly, we were so rushed that I didn't get a picture of us in our Easter clothes, but we looked awesome (especially Bree with her adorable curly hair). The kids favorite things ended up being these lollipops with springy bobble heads that whistle when you shake them (thank you Dollar Tree).

For our Easter dinner that night, I made Honey-glazed spiral ham (Bree loved watching me "paint" on the glaze), Fran's potato salad (which turned out pretty good for my first time, although our generic sweet pickles weren't sweet enough), and steamed carrots and asparagus. Dessert was my mom's famous Strawbery Satin pie, which I have become quite adept at making, and which I can easily polish off single-handedly.

Oh, and our Easter excitement was two-fold, since we discovered that I'm pregnant again! We feel so blessed and are very excited to have a new baby come December!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A beautiful two weeks

Among my favorite home improvement accomplishments are the climbing rose vines around my front gates. I planted them less than two years ago, and for the first time in my life I have kept a plant alive for an extended period of time. I've learned some gardening lessons along the way, and last year we had a crummy blooming season because of bacterial infection and some pest problems. But this year I knew what to look for to take better care of my roses. My little "White Lady" climber doesn't bloom much longer than 2 or 3 weeks, but the blossoms are prolific. For the past two weeks, I have so loved looking out my window to this sight. And when I drive up to the house, it makes me smile.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cookie Wednesday

Today's Cookie Day was a big hit. Amy, Sarah, and my new friend Kenzie came with their kids for some delicious food and friendship. For lunch I served Couscous Jumbalaya (I didn't add any extra spice so the kids could eat it), and for dessert, we made the AMAZING Strawberry Brownie Torte that my mother-in-law made for us while we were in Vegas (the one for Bree's birthday celebration). It is SOOO easy and blow-you-away impressive.

1 (19.5- or 22-ounce, family size) package fudge brownie mix
1 (14-ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk)
1/2 cup cold water
1 (4-serving size) package instant vanilla flavor pudding mix
1 (4-ounce) container frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed (1 3/4 cups)
1 quart fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled and halved (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Chocolate syrup (optional)
1) Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease two 9-inch round layer cake pans. Line with wax paper, extending up sides of pans; grease wax paper.
2) Prepare brownie mix as package directs for cake-like brownies; pour into prepared pans. Bake 20 minutes or until top springs back when touched. Cool.
3) In large bowl, mix EAGLE BRAND® and water; beat in pudding mix. Chill 5 minutes. Fold in whipped topping.
4) Place one brownie layer on serving plate. Top with half each of the pudding mixture and strawberries. Repeat layers. Drizzle with chocolate syrup (optional). Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.

Puppy Attachment

The puppies are almost one week old, and they've already doubled in size. Bree has labled the "white" one as her favorite, and always asks to hold it when we go out to feed the dogs and visit the puppies. Today I brought the puppies in to bathe them, and Bree thought that was so much fun. She helped dry them off and put them back in the box to carry them outside. I just hope when it comes time to give them away she'll be okay!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I love it

General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was held yesterday and today. I can honestly say that I love Conference. I love to watch and hear the president of our church, Thomas S. Monson, and to feel his love as he speaks to this worldwide church. I love that I can lounge on the bed as I watch Conference via a live feed over the Internet. I love that my kids can be their disruptive selves, and I'm not worried that they're distracting anyone else at church. I love to take notes, listen for themes, and put little stars next to my favorite talks. I love the feeling of renewed commitment that I feel after listening to the guidance of my church leaders.

I loved Elder Hales' talk on provident living, and I'm rethinking that new minivan that we don't really need. I loved Elder Pearson's words on faith, and the 6 "D's" that reduce your "net faith", and I know that I sometimes fall prey to the first two: doubt and discouragement. I loved Elder Holland's talk on feeling alone, and how the Savior completely and utterly understands how that feels. I love Elder Bednar; he always succeeds in touching my heart, and today he motivated me to go to the temple more often. And even though today's world may be fraught with trials, President Monson's heart-wrenching stories made me realize that my trials are infinitesimal, and "The future is as bright as [my] faith."

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Princess Party!

She's three! She's old enough to go potty all by herself, and remembers all the required steps most of the time. She's old enough to require us to pay for her when we go places. She can sing the ABCs, count to 15, and recognize most letters. She tends to test the limits with pushing her little brother around. She loves taking walks and going to the park. She has an amazing range of emotions and dramatic expressions. She has the cutest little singing voice. She has quite an impressive vocabulary, and some of her most frequent and cute phrases are: "It make me strong and healthy!" "Mason's crying; you need to give him a bottle." "Can I watch a movie?" "Where my purple blanket?" "Daddy's working in his police car. He gonna catch bad guys" (she used to say "he's gonna shoot bad guys," but we corrected her on that point). "You my favorite mommy." "Gramma's my friend. Gramma's soft and lovely."
To celebrate this "coming of age" I threw her a princess party. Most of the guests weren't able to come, but since Calan is her best friend, he and his family were all we needed. The kids had a blast. For the activity they decorated their own crowns (cut from foam visors). We ate pizza (the old standby). Then we sang happy birthday and Bree blew out the candles like a pro (it was her second birthday party this week!). The Belle cake turned out way cute, and delicious (thanks Joanna for lending me your Pampered Chef classic batter bowl). Happy birthday to our little princess!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Welcome to the family?

This morning when Chad went outside to feed the dogs, he was not quite prepared for what greeted him: the sight and sound of 5 newborn lab puppies. Before we left for vacation, Chad had noticed that Pepper was looking a little fat, and he suspected that she might be pregnant. I, of course, rejected this idea, simply because I couldn't be worrying about a pregnant dog and her impending puppy delivery. Well, here they are: 2 boys and 3 girls (one of which is yellow), all blind and whimpering and adorable. So, we now have 7 dogs. If you want one, please let me know. I would actually pay you to take one or all off our hands. I'm really wishing now that Chad had taken Pepper to that reduced-cost spay clinic...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What else did we do?

We did a lot of stuff in Vegas that I didn't post in detail. Here's the whole trip in summary:
  • Monday when we arrived in town we went to Bob and Syd's for a delicious lasagna dinner and the kids played
  • Tuesday morning Jaime came to pick me up for a girls' day out, including pedicures, bra shopping (for her soon-to-be new mommy self), lunch at Cafe Rio (yummm) and a movie (Duplicity, which I only give 3 stars)
  • Wednesday we went hiking at Red Rock with Rachel and Sydney and her kids
  • Thursday afternoon we went to the Shark Reef aquarium at the Mandalay Bay; after that we met up with Jaime and Rob for dinner at Metro Pizza, then went back to their place for some Office watching
  • Friday morning Fran took us to Mimi's for breakfast, and I had the delicious Pain Perdu (stuffed French toast with orange marmalade cream cheese filling); then we went to the Lied Children's Museum
  • Fran, Bree, and I did some shopping Friday afternoon, including a stop at the Disney store where we saw the Easter Bunny and Bree picked out her birthday present.
  • Friday night we went with Fran, Jim, and the Keyes family to Red Robin for my favorite burgers and shakes
  • After dinner, Chad and I went to a baptism for our friends the McCrackens' oldest son Danny; afterward we went to the Leas' home for our traditional fondue
  • Saturday while the guys went golfing, Fran, Syd, and I took all the kids to Town Square for food and fun (see additional post)
  • Sunday we had Bree's birthday/Easter dinner party and egg hunt; Rob and Jaime stayed late to play Canasta
  • Monday I went to Jaime's house to help her and her mom clean out her scrapbook room and get the baby's room ready (or closer to ready!)
  • Monday night we went bowling, then went home for a delicious dinner of homemade tacos (must-haves for taco night: fresh-cooked tortillas, homemade guacamole, fresh lime juice)
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