Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful Hearts

The pies, and cookies, and fudge, and cake are all ready to go to grandma's house. Our bags are packed. The car is cleaned out. The dishes are done. And all of a sudden I have a moment to think and am totally overcome with a feeling of humility and gratitude. I can't believe the Lord's hand in our lives this past year.

Just a year ago Jesse had surgery, shortly afterwards I would face two surgeries, Dallin two of his own, and Jaden one also. As the whirlwind of doctors and hospitals swept us away we were always watched over and kept safe. The roads were always clear (which is critical considering my lack of snow-driving skills!). The treatments and medications all went smoothly (yea!).

I have tried to show gratitude. I've tried to help others in need. And yet, I know that there is no way that I could ever repay the Lord for his great mercy and love. I pray that as this day of thanks is upon us we may all know and feel of his great love for us.

I love the words of Amulek, "And thus He shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name...and encircle them in the arms of safety." (Book of Mormon, Alma 34:15-16)

I have felt of His love and have had His arms wrapped around me. For this I give thanks and praise unto Him who redeemed us all, even our Savior, Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Centerpiece and Game

It is blizzardy outside and yes, it's a snow-day!! Even my man gets the day off- you know closed highways will do that to you. So while he and the kids are downstairs playing the Wii I get to share a fun activity we did yesterday.

Cute, huh? They are a multi-functional centerpiece. We used them for a little family night game about being thankful, and now they are decorating the house.

Here's what you'll need:
paper cups
sheets of different colored paper
glue sticks

1. Print the bodies on white paper and color them in. Print the feathers on different colors of paper.
(I tried to load my templates, but they just didn't work... try this link for another option)
therapyfunzone turkey pattern
2. Cut them all out.
3. Write things you are thankful for on each feather.
4. Glue feathers in a fan shape on each cup, then glue the body over the feathers.

For the Game
The game was simple since the children are little. We each wore a turkey on our heads so that we couldn't read our own words. Then we went round-robin saying what we were thankful for. When a person said one of the words on their turkey they got a point. It was a good reminder of all the things we have to be grateful for.

I love that my children can have fun with each other in such a simple way. It is what I have longed for all my life. I remember growing up with no TV and relatively few toys and my best friends in the world were my family. I enjoy watching similar relationships develop between my sweet children.

My thoughts and prayers are with all who need to be out on the roads today. Drive carefully and may the Lord watch over you!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Turkey Cookies...a great treat for kids (or adults)!

Picture from BC Website
There's something about sugar cookies that always brings me back to my childhood. I remember my mother baking them and my mouth watering unbearably for the whole 8 minutes they were in the oven!!

I posted our family sugar cookie recipe at Halloween, but since my mother-in-law wanted cookies at Thanksgiving I just couldn't resist posting this cute decorating idea. It works great because I still have a bag of candy corn left over from Halloween.

If you want other great holiday cooking tips check out the Betty Crocker link below.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! Hope you have family and friends to share this fun season with (if not, call me...I would love to spend it with you).

Betty Crocker Turkey Cookie Recipe

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Photo Blocks

This is a fun craft and great Christmas gift! We did it in the throws of Strep Throat because it was a no-brainer activity... my kids seem to love those because I don't freak out about the details!

You will need
Wood blocks (mine are just chunks of 4x4's, but 2x2 is great too)
Sand paper
Scrapbook paper
Modge Podge
Paint brush or sponge

1. Soften the wood grain and edges with a light pass over of sand paper
2. Cut pictures and scrapbook paper to fit the size of your blocks (2 paper & 4 pictures)
3. Paint Modge Podge on one side of the block
4. Paste a picture or paper
5. Repaint the Modge Podge over the picture
6. Allow to dry for an hour before finishing the other sides (I found I could do three sides, dry, do the other three sides)

Voila!!! Merry Christmas "someone"!

7. Rough up the edges with sand paper and dab paint of them if you want them to look antiqued.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To Capture Thankful (in pictures)

I just stumbled upon a post on a blog I was told was a wonderful-must-read blog by *Stephanie Nielson (thanks Finches for the tip). This woman's life story is inspiring and she is doing a Thanksgiving giveaway.


What am I thankful for today? (you may ask)... My camera! I am so grateful to be able to capture all the little and big moments in my world. And now Stephanie is giving away a Tamron lens. 

Will I win it? Will I win it? I am sending my positive thinking out into the universe....

There are so many things I am grateful for that I wish I could capture...

I am Thankful that my brother-in-law is safe in the UN compound in Haiti and so thankful that the Lord has kept him alive.

I am Thankful that my sister (his wife) who is about to have a baby any minute is holding together despite the stress and fear.

I am Thankful for the many midwives and others who have sacrificed so much to take better medical care to Haiti. Thanks Jen and Andaluz for all you are doing.

I am Thankful for my dear husband…
And our three sweet children…
A happy family…
I am Thankful for Life !!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thai Sticky Rice

My children love steamed rice. It is so sticky and fun to eat. I use black and white glutinous rice and they roll it into balls and call it “purple snowballs”. Yes! I know it is gross to play with your food… but it is also lots of fun!!

So here’s how to pick your rice:
If you don’t want to run out to the nearest *Asian market then choose a rice that is sticky (a short or medium grain). A good indication is if the rice breaks apart when cooked too long. The rice that has worked for me is glutinous or Jasmine rice, but I think Calrose might work.

Here are some pictures of the rice before and after steaming. (Follow the directions in the recipe below for prepping and steaming your rice)

Before Steaming- ready to be soaked

Wrapped and in the steam basket

After Steaming

 If your kids don’t dive into the rice right out of the steamer than try this fantastic dessert…

Thai Sticky Rice Dessert

1 1/2 cups glutinous white rice
1/2 cup glutinous black rice

1 can coconut milk
4 oz palm sugar
1/4 cup sugar
Dash of Salt

Mango pieces

Mix the rice together. Fill the bowl with water and let sit for 4-12 hours.

Drain the water off and wrap the rice in a cheesecloth. Place in a Thai basket and set over a steamer. Steam for 45 minutes or until the rice is completely cooked. Remove from steam basket and put rice in a large bowl.

Melt the milk and sugars in a small saucepan. Pour the sweetened milk over the cooked rice and let sit for 30 minutes. This allows it to soak up the liquid.

Serve with mango pieces on top.

*This online Asian market has more info on the basket and rice:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Church… or “Man-Catcher Brownies”

 So on Sunday I was sitting at church and all I could think about were the “Man-catcher Brownies”. They are by far the best brownies in the world (and I can say this because I have tried every brownie the whole world over, haha).

Normally, I would have gone home after church and straight to the kitchen…do not pass go…do not collect $200! But I was visiting at a friend’s house and it would have been terribly rude to do such a thing (and yes! I felt guilty dreaming about that much sugar at her very healthy home)!!

Now I am home with my Strep Throat victims and we have absolutely no desire for chocolate. So, for those of you craving a sweet chocolate treat…make these and think of me with every bite you take!

This is how happy they make us…
Somehow he makes these fudgey brownies look crumbly!
WARNING: These are thick, moist, and very chocolaty!

Man-catcher Brownies (this is from the Washington Post)

3 sticks butter
2 cups cocoa powder
6 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking oil spray.

Melt the butter and add the cocoa powder, stirring to combine. Let cool slightly.

Add eggs, sugars and vanilla. Fold in the flour and salt until just combined. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a crust forms on the surface and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Cool completely before cutting. I like to take them out like a big brick of fudge and cut them on a cutting board. Then return them to the pan.

Enjoy! We always do…

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

And They Were Not Ashamed...

And They Were Not Ashamed - a book review??

I’ve wanted to write a post about this book for quite some time, but since I don’t exactly like airing my dirty laundry out in public I postponed it.

I mean, really! What are you supposed to say when someone asks, “How's your marriage?”

We all just love to answer, “Well, actually it totally sucks. Thanks for asking.” (with a big smile, of course!).

So, this actually happened a while ago and my friend told me about a fantastic book that could help just about any marriage. I know what you’re thinking… sure a book that can keep us happily ever after. Sadly, so many marriage problems are related to intimacy… even when they really aren’t.

This book gives us insight into the human heart and mind (with some special focus on women). It contains exercises and information to help us improve our emotional, spiritual and physical intimacy.

You could look at this as three books in one: a marriage book, a sex book and a parenting book. When you think about it, every aspect of our family relationships is affected by intimacy.

As far as marriages go, we can all benefit from learning to identify and overcome our fears and misconceptions about sexual intimacy. Until I read this book I didn’t realize that I had my own set of misconceptions that were affecting our marriage (like, most men don't mind being awakened at 1 am by a naked woman! or that a hug after work is much better than a "hey honey" yelled from the kitchen sink). This book greatly enriched my relationship with my husband both physically and emotionally.

Recently, my seven year old daughter cried to me saying that I don’t snuggle her enough. I was so focused on intimacy in my marriage that I forgot about intimacy in my parenting. Our children need to learn from us that good healthy intimacy provides mental and physical fulfillment.

My husband actually read this book- which says a lot because he has finished maybe one book in his whole life!

FYI: it is on my Amazon widget to the side if you want to read more about it. Great way to spend $12 (or find it at the library).

important post-script - I just need to clarify to those questioning... Jesse and I have a fantastic relationship, but like all valuable relationships it takes effort, patience, understanding and great books to make it better!

Monday, November 8, 2010

We can do it!

So now that the dust has settled on my last post... and all the fires have been put out... I want to propose a toast "to all those who are trying so hard to make a better future for their children"!

I love homeschooling. Wait! Did I say "love"? Okay, so I guess I do "love" homeschooling... despite the many times I throw myself on my bed and scream into the pillow. Or bang my fists on the desk and ask myself, "what in the world am I doing?". I have even tried saying "serenity now" and wiggled my arms around my aura (like the episode of Sienfeld) but it just doesn't seem to work for this homeschooling mom. I (like so many others) have my moments of great discouragement in motherhood and in homeschooling.

This morning I watched my five year old make scramble eggs for the first time, his face wrinkled in doubt that the gooey mess could ever pass as scrambled eggs. He lifted the spoon to give it another stir and it all came together in a big clump of...well, scrambled eggs.

He started screaming, "It's turning into eggs! I did it! I made eggs!!!"

Then he gave me a huge hug and said, "Thank you mom for teaching me to make eggs. Now I can make two breakfast things." (The other one is cream of wheat).

There I had it... the reason I homeschool... because believe me it would be so quiet around here if they were at school!

I love to see the joy spread across their faces as they finally capture a difficult concept. The hugs. The happiness. The rainbow that comes after the storm. Yes. I can teach my children. Yes. We can do it!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Stop Bullying Now!!

I am addressing bullying because it is an ever present issue in our society and warrants our attention. Bullying happens in many different areas of our lives, so home schooling is not a sure fire protection from it. Parents, teachers and all of us involved with children need to better educate ourselves on this matter.

A young girl recently showed me a picture of a student at her school. The picture had been snapped on a cell phone and then texted to her and many others at the school. Sadly, all who laughed at and shared that photo were unknowingly involved in cyberbullying. This "mass bullying" has led to severe depression and even suicide in many of our nations schools.

What is bullying?

"Bullying among children is aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power".

Bullying takes on many forms such as: physical bullying, verbal bullying, nonverbal bullying or emotional bullying. Also, in our world of texting, cyberbullying which happens by phone or email, is an ever-growing form of bullying.

What are some signs of bullying?

There are many signs and often we just have to trust our instincts as parents in recognizing and dealing with our child either bullying or being bullied. Here is a list compiled from a few websites:
  • be frightened of walking to and from school
  • change their usual route
  • not want you to go on the school bus
  • have few or no friends
  • begin to bully other children, siblings
  • sad, moody, teary or depressed
  • be unwilling to go to school (or be 'school phobic')
  • feel ill in the morning
  • continual headaches, stomachaches or other ailments
  • begin doing poorly in their school work
  • come home regularly with clothes or books destroyed
  • come home starving
  • become withdrawn, start stammering, lack confidence
  • become distressed and anxious, stop eating
  • attempt or threaten suicide
  • cry themselves to sleep, have nightmares
  • have their possessions go missing
  • ask for money or start stealing
  • refuse to talk about what's wrong
  • have unexplained bruises, cuts, scratches
  • become aggressive and unreasonable
  • give improbable excuses for any of the above
  • suffers from low self-esteem

Talking to your child

If you suspect bullying you need to talk to your child. Ask questions such as:
  • Who do you play with? 
  • Who do you sit with at lunch or on the bus? 
  • Do you have a special friend? Is there anyone you don't really like? Why? 
  • Do they ever tease you or pick on you?

What to do if your child is being bullied

Help your child avoid interaction of any sort with the bully. Interaction with a bully only leads to more insecurity and fear. The following steps are provided by
  • Don't give the bully a chance. As much as you can, avoid the bully.
  • Stand tall and be brave. Sometimes just acting brave is enough to stop a bully.
  • Feel good about you. Nobody's perfect, but what can you do to look and feel your best?
  • Get a buddy (and be a buddy). Two is better than one if you're trying to avoid being bullied.
  • Ignore the bully. Pretend you don't hear them and walk away quickly to a place of safety. Bullies want a big reaction to their teasing and meanness.
  • Stand up for yourself. Pretend to feel really brave and confident. Tell the bully "No! Stop it!" in a loud voice. Then walk away, or run if you have to.
  • Don't bully back. Don't hit, kick, or push back to deal with someone bullying you or your friends. It's best to stay with others, stay safe, and get help from an adult.
  • Don't show your feelings. Try distracting yourself (counting backwards from 100, spelling the word 'turtle' backwards, etc.) to keep your mind occupied until you are out of the situation and somewhere safe where you can show your feelings.
  • Tell an adult. If you are being bullied, it's very important to tell an adult. Find someone you trust and go and tell them what is happening to you.

* Information found on various websites including: