Sunday, May 31, 2009


I put the kids to bed about 15 minutes ago, and Mason was crying for a little while. Then all of a sudden he quieted down, and I heard Bree's soft voice singing,"Rock-a-bye baby on the tree tot, when the wind blows, it will rock ya."

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Lilies and Chicken

Another update on my quest to become the best homemaker I can be. Today my first lily opened! This may not seem huge to some people, but it is really exciting for me. I bought these lily bulbs almost 3 years ago at Costco. I planted them without knowing how to really care for them. They came up in the spring, but didn't bloom. The following year, less of them came up, and again, no blooms. Well, this winter, after consulting my newly-purchased Western Garden Book, I realized that in areas with really hot summers, lilies won't tolerate full sun. So, I transplanted the dormant bulbs, which had managed to multiply, into planters that I placed on the east side of my house, right next to the front door. They only get sun until 11 or 12, and then are in shade all afternoon. Well, as you can see, I have my first beautiful lily after 3 years of waiting! And there are many more buds ready to open soon. Flowers make me happy.

The other important development is that I can officially pressure can food all by myself! My mom and I bottled chicken a while ago, but I used it all up. Then a couple weeks ago, a sister in our ward hosted a canning activity where she taught us to bottle meat. I had participated in pressure canning, but had never done it on my own. Well, when Fry's had chicken on sale for $1.77/lb, I bought a bunch, and decided to go for it. I successfully bottled 10 pint jars of chicken (about 2 breasts in each). Getting the hang of keeping the heat and pressure regulated is the hardest part. Other than that, all you do is put raw chicken breasts and a tsp of salt into warm jars, put on lids, and cook for 75 minutes (90 minutes for quart jars). Super easy. And I love thinking of all the money I can save, especially the way we used to go through those store-bought cans of chicken! I use it all the time for enchiladas, chicken salad, Hawaiian haystacks--anything you need shredded chicken for. I remember being a kid, and looking at all the jars my mom had canned. Most of the stuff looked pretty gross--especially the meat. But I can tell you, now that I've done it myself, there is great satisfaction in looking at those beautiful jars!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Grandpa Kelly's Ranch

Last weekend the kids and I drove to Tucson to see Tina and Dan who were visiting some family. We had such a fun time playing, swimming, and eating Eegee's real fruit slushes. It was so awesome to see Tina, who has been one of my best friends since I was like 12. After our visit, I drove out to my parents' house to stay the weekend (Chad was working long 10-hour shifts in honor of Memorial Day). We always visit with my Grandma and Grandpa Kelly while we're there, and we got to see my cousin Kellianne and her family who were visiting the ranch too. Monday afternoon we took the kids as promised to feed the catfish at the pond. They had a total blast. Bree kept saying, "They're so cute!" and Mason had fun throwing fish food and rocks (and a shotgun shell he found on the ground). And a visit to the ranch wouldn't be complete without gathering eggs from the chickens. Mason would yell in response to every rooster crow, and Bree was so excited to bring the eggs she gathered home with us. It was another great relaxing weekend away from it all.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Meatball Wednesday

I'd never made meatballs in my life before I discovered this recipe. I love meatballs, but who wants to go through all that extra work of shaping them, and browning them, then adding them to the sauce? With this Melt-In-Your-Mouth Meatballs recipe, I just plop scoops of the meat mixture into a large pan of spaghetti sauce (whatever jar I have on hand) using my medium cookie scoop. Then they cook while they simmer, adding flavor to the sauce, and becoming super-tender. I actually used lean ground turkey for last night's meatballs, and totally left out the oregano (my tummy was telling me no for some reason), and they came out awesome! This recipe is a huge hit with my whole family. It also makes for delicious meatball sandwiches.

Loving the rain

It has been drizzling off and on all day, and I'm in heaven! Rain is an unexpected but welcome visitor in Globe this time of year, and it's cooled us down a bit too. My garden is getting watered for free. I've been curled up on the couch reading. Now I'm on Rhapsody putting Christmas music on my mp3 player. Don't worry; things will be back to normal tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The way we camp

The warm weather has been calling us outdoors, and we'd been looking forward to testing out our new Coleman stove. Pioneer Pass is only a half-hour drive from our house, is a little cooler at 5900 feet, and has some great campsites among the Ponderosa pines. There's no running water or flushing toilets, but that doesn't phase us at all. We are "full equipment" campers, which means that a minor one-night camp out finds us filling our truck bed and cabin to the brim. We not only take our large family tent, but an air mattress, foam pads, sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, and a play pen. We've got the hammock, the camping chairs (adult and child-sized), the ice chest, water cooler, stove, pots and pans, plates, bowls and utensils (disposable and reusable). For convenience, we take a shovel and rake (to prepare the campsite), an axe and firewood, and a hammer for tent stakes. There are the beloved roasting sticks (we registered for one of these babies when we got married), the flashlights and lanterns, the porta-toilet, and the canister of antibacterial wet wipes that we go easily go through in a 24-hour period. And of course, there's the FOOD. It's quite amazing how much food a family of 4 can eat when there's nothing else to do but sit around, enjoying nature and a few Cheetos or Laffy Taffys. The food definitely helps keep the kids happy. And the large duffel full of several sets of clothing for all climates and PJs tops of the inventory list. I'm not sure how it all fit. We've actually got the prep down to an art. Chad is a great planner, so it's not a huge deal to pack for a camping trip. Plus, he loves it. And he gets a big kick out of stuff like raking our campsite free of pine needles.

We lounged in the hammock, read books while the kids took a short afternoon nap, hiked up a steep hill for no reason, and ate. We roasted hot dogs and topped them with chili for dinner, followed by S'mores (what else?), and I popped corn on the stove (all stores were out of Jiffy Pop) for a late-night snack. I dreaded bed-time after last year's camping fiasco. Thankfully, Bree was so excited to wear her "camping PJs" (this is what I have to call her remaining winter sleeper so she won't wear it to bed when it's 80 degrees out) and sleep in a sleeping bag, that she went to sleep without a problem. It was Mason who had trouble falling asleep, and then waking in the middle of the night. Chad finally brought him to bed on the air mattress with us, and he slept the rest of the night. I have become a terrible sleeper when I don't have the ambient noise of a humidifier or fan. So I woke at every whimper the kids made, at every pine cone falling, and when there was an animal rummaging for food on our picnic table (the next morning produced left-out Milk Duds with tiny teeth marks). And of course there were the 4 trips to the toilet, which is so much fun at night.

The morning dawned too early, but the thought of our delicious breakfast of O'Brien potatoes and scrambled eggs motivated me to get up (oh, and the buzzing of bees and flies trapped under the tent fly was getting annoying--by the way, why does bug spray not deter flies?). We lazed away the morning, and finally broke camp when the kids were showing signs of extreme fatigue. We came home happy, tired, and smelling of camp smoke. The kids loved their time outside. They never seemed to tire of running around, climbing on rocks (Mason is absolutely insane, and got the double-bloody nose to prove it!), and watching the campfire (Chad tied Mason to his camp chair while we were preparing dinner to keep him safe--you can see it in the picture). I know I can get used to camping with kids, but it certainly took a lot out of me--I took a three-hour nap after getting home! The fun is definitely worth the work, and we're talking about camping at Pinal Peak next!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A semi-typical Sunday

This morning Bree woke me up half and hour before my alarm clock. She was crying and sitting in her chair in the living room, and when I asked her what was wrong, she said, "I need my ice cream back!" Maybe she had been dreaming. I helped her to the bathroom and then back to bed. Then I tried sleeping more, but couldn't, so I ate my bedside peanut butter sandwich (it really helps me to eat something before I get out of bed), and got ready for my 7:30 ward council meeting. It was a sunny and cool morning, and I was wide awake at the beginning of the meeting, but by the end I was seriously ready to go back to bed. I'm sure that with me being pregnant they're bound to release me soon...I would really love to stay home Sunday mornings!

When I got home at 8:35, instead of finding the kids eating breakfast and everyone getting dressed, I found everyone still asleep! I guess I had forgotten to wake Chad up. Well, even with the late start we were only 5 minutes late to church. Mason was so squealy and squirmy during Sacrament that Chad had to hold him in the foyer the entire time (he's breaking some more molars). Bree was actually really good, and between the Fruit Loops and non-church related books I brought, she was entertained. Both the kids love nursery, and couldn't care less if we're there or not, but we take turns staying in there because Mason isn't technically old enough yet.

After church we had a healthful lunch of fish sticks and taquitos (and steamed veggies to ease my conscience). Then we all went down for naps. Mmmm nap time. I don't know how long Chad slept, but I slept a good two hours, and so did the kids. I just finished making Pecan Tassies to take over to Joanna's house tonight (she often invites the kids and me for dinner on Sundays). They smell delicious. I don't know how many will be left by the time we get there.

I actually really like Sundays (the worst part is keeping the kids happy during Sacrament meeting); I would like them more if Chad didn't have to work. But they're usually pretty relaxing just like today has been.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

9 Weeks

Tuesday I had my 2nd OB check-up, and since our regular babysitter (my mom) was busy, the whole family accompanied me to the office of Valley Women for Women in Gilbert. It was actually neat for Bree to see the ultrasound, even though a baby at 9 weeks is hardly anything to look at (I'm not even bothering to post a picture). Everything checked out fine, and the heartbeat was strong. I opted to leave the kids sqealing in the waiting room during my exam (we're a close family, but not that close). So far I've met one nurse practitioner and one doctor, and have been really impressed by both. They're very personal and thorough. This will be my third OB group since moving to Arizona--one for each pregnancy. I confess I'm really picky, and I'm hoping this one's a winner.

So at 9 weeks I'm often nauseated, and tired enough for a nap or two each day. I'm not motivated to do much of anything. But today I forced myself to go through my clothes and do some seasonal switching. Some people may have closets big enough to keep all seasons and sizes in there at one time, but I don't. And, even if I did, I'm not sure I'd want to, because when I'm not a size 8, it's really depressing to look at all those clothes that don't fit. And there's nothing worse than running late, trying to get dressed, and putting on stuff that you didn't realize doesn't fit anymore. So, since I've been eating constantly for the past 4 weeks to keep the nausea at bay, I've put on at least 5 pounds, and my tummy has pooched out. Away with the skinny clothes and out with the loose, stretchy, and maternity (oh, the good old days of first pregnancies, where you can wear normal clothes until 4 or 5 months!). One great thing about this method is that right now my closet is pretty bare, which means that I'll be needing to go shopping to fill the void. I have a tub full of winter maternity clothes, which won't be of any use to me until November, so I have some work to do.

All in all, we're really excited to be pregnant again. It's pretty low-key since it's our third, and we've got both a boy and girl already (counting blessings here!). Now we just have to worry about shuffling the kids around to fit us all into our 1200-square-foot 3 bedroom home (at least we have 2 full baths), and whether or not that third car seat will fit in the back seat of our truck...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Jack's Come-Back

My favorite milkshake, hands-down, is Jack in the Box's Oreo Cookie Ice Cream Shake, made with chocolate ice cream. Unfortunately (or fortunately for my waist-line) the Jack in the Box in Globe has long been known for it's terrible, slow service and runny shakes. Runny! A 30-minute wait for a runny shake! So, needless to say, I haven't been there for over a year, and I only get a delicious shake when I make the hour and a half trip to "town." Well, this evening I was running late to my friend Kenzie's baby shower (I remembered at the last minute that I hadn't finished sewing her nursing shawl), so I hadn't had dinner. When I dropped the kids off at Joanna's, she gave me a coupon for a Mini Sirloin Burger meal--something I would have never tried, especially considering my terrible opinion of our local Jack. But what do you know--it only took me 3 minutes to get my food in the drive-thru! And it was sooo delicious. Hot, fresh, and yummy. If you haven't tried a sirloin burger, mini or otherwise, you must. Forget the 941 calories (or 748 for 3 minis...and that's not including fries or drink). It's so worth it! And I haven't tried one yet myself, but Chad says the shakes are thick and awesome again (He sneaks them while at work. Some cops have donuts...). So yes, Jack's back.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Puppies up for grabs!

Here they are Robin: the two Males. May the best puppy win!

Homegrown carrots!

I can't believe I actually grew carrots! Bree was so excited to pick some, and wanted to keep playing with them. We haven't tasted them yet, but they look good enough to eat, right?
Random cuteness: when Bree and I were doing letter flashcards today, we came to the A for Alligator, all of a sudden she quickly rattled off: "I don't like alligators or snakes or spiders. I love elephants and giraffes and zebras and ice cream!"

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Phoenix Zoo

We went to the Phoenix Zoo last Tuesday, which is about an hour and a half from our house. It was a beautiful day: hot, but not unbearable. It is an awesome zoo--small enough to see everything in about 3 hours, which is perfect if you've got little kids. Bree especially loved the petting zoo, the water-play area, and the carousel. Mason was actually really good, and even took a little nap in the stroller. My only complaint is that zoo food leaves much to be desired. But we planned ahead and ate at Pei Wei beforehand (try the honey seared chicken!) and Red Robin after for burgers and thick chocolate shakes. A quick trip for a blood draw at the OB office for me, and we called it a day (I had to re-check my HcG level, which was really low a few weeks ago, but is up to normal now, indicating a healthy pregnancy!). If we were closer, I would love to get a season pass at the zoo. There are always fun events going on there too. But for now, we're making it to the zoo about once a year, which I think is pretty good.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Wilkinson weekend

Last weekend we went out to my parents' house to spend some time there while Adam and Heather were visiting. We had a blast as usual talking and laughing. Heather was introduced to the game of Clue, which is unfortunate for her, since we are a family of meticulous note-taking Clue players. But hopefully she had fun anyway. And we played the traditional game of Battle of the Sexes with all of us (Chad got to spend Monday with us), and the girls barely won this time. We are all quite competitive! Adam and Heather are awesome with their niece and nephew, and the kids loved playing with them. There was, of course, plenty of great food to be had, including homemade Krispy Kremes. The weather was gorgeous, and the kids played on the make-shift water slide out back (a hose on the slide with a kiddie pool at the bottom). Grandpa took Bree for a ride on the tractor, and took her to visit the animals at the great-grandparents' house. She told her story excitedly: "The chickens pop the eggs out. I put the eggs in the bucket. But the horse might kick me, so I stay back. The horse is very soft." I'm so grateful that it's only an hour and a half from us, so we are able to visit often. If only Adam and Heather were closer (and all of Chad's family too!). But, we happily take what we can get!
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