Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I love to see the temple


Some of my fabulous young women and one of my amazing counselors at the temple a few weeks ago.
Love these people!

Monday, April 22, 2013

crazy month

Just had to share:
*It's the end of Chris's last semester of classes (he still has to teach them, but he doesn't have to take them at the same time anymore. Hooray!).
*We've had strange cold-then-hot-then-cold weather here in The Swamp.
*I had to return to the evil really nice eye surgery doctor and my 10 minute appointment ended up being 2 1/2 hours for reasons too long to explain here on this blog.
*Ashley told me she was freaked out to change in the girls bathroom before her wax museum presentation at school because the girls would be in their underwear all together. Yet she doesn't notice when her brothers wander around in their undies at home.
*Ethan needs to see an orthodontist about the possibility of needing a few teeth being pulled to make room for some teeth trying to grow in. He inherited an over-crowded mouth from his mom.
*The pool is still almost too cold to use, which is unusual this time of year. Though we've used it almost every day (except when it rains, like today).
*Ashley and I went to see several plays that some youth from church were in. School House Rock Live, and Beauty and the Beast. We sat on the front row at B&B, and Gaston sang to Ashley every time he was on the stage. Best seat in the house. Although I must say, it was slightly creepy that the school picked a chubby old man from the community theater to play beast instead of letting a boy in high school do it. I didn't care to see that guy kissing young belle on the stage.
*My hair has been thinning at an alarming rate this month, and I probably need to go see a Dr. about a possible thyroid problem, but I don't think I'm up for any more bad news. Either the Dr. will say I need to take drugs for the rest of my life, or else she'll tell me to live with it because I'm no spring chicken anymore. Either way, it's bad news.
*Ethan has been asking lots of questions about human reproduction...
*Boston was bombed.
*I was chastised by a loving friend at church.
*Stir in a few extra life stresses, and that's our month.

But...it isn't over yet. I don't think we'll see any reading at the dinner table tonight. Ashley woke up with a stomach ache this morning, but insisted on going to school even though I told her she could stay home. She hobbled around all morning, then left for the school bus. Since the school didn't call for me to pick her up, I assumed she felt better.

Then she hobbled into the house. She couldn't stand up straight, and she was shivering. Hopefully it's just a stomach bug and nothing more serious than that. It would be our luck this month if it ended up being an appendix problem or something. Cross your fingers and knock on wood...

Luckily, the month is almost over. And as the indigo girls say on one of my favorite CD's, "You have to laugh at yourself, because you'd cry your eyes out if you didn't." Truer words were never spoken :)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Some facts about Chris on his birthday

Chris used to have a thing for hats. He wore them all the time when he was a kid. Indiana Jones hats, news boys hats. They were kind of his thing. It's a shame he grew out of that, he'd look mysterious in a fedora or pork pie hat.
Not only is Chris so cute (look at those big brown eyes!), he's smart and funny and hard working. And even though he wielded a cub scout pocket knife at his parents when he was little, he eventually developed the most even temper of anyone I've ever met.
The most beautiful thing about Chris is his strong testimony, and how his faith and conviction keeps me strong every single day. Whenever my spirit starts to feel muddled, he knows exactly what I need to hear to remember why we're here and where we're going.
 He's a good parent. He takes time to hang out with the kids and have fun, but also to teach them how to make good choices.
See? he's teaching the kids good things all the time...

 Something you might not know about Chris? He had Vanilla Ice hair at his high school prom. You'll have to ask him if he danced like Vanilla, too.

 His heart is in the mountains. He loves the beach, but living here in The Swamp has been a sacrifice because his passion is wearing a backpack and going places most people don't go, high enough to see the world spread out beneath him.

Chris has a great ability to laugh at the world and not take things too seriously. Even on his mission (as you can see in this picture). Even when life gets hard. And when I complain about us getting old? He says, "Hey, you only get to be old once, lets enjoy it!"

Happy Birthday, Chris! Enjoy the experience of being another year older :)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

yes...a cookie made of beans

Ours is a house divided when it comes to this deliciously moist chocolate chip cookie. The boys and I love it, Ashley thinks it's okay, and Chris isn't a fan at all. But hey, I'm the mom and get to pick what we eat, so if we're going to eat a chocolate chip cookie, at least we can get something good out of it.

When I lived in Tokyo, there was a pastry dessert I enjoyed that was semi-sweet and had pureed beans in the middle. This has a similiar texture.

As many of you know, I have a food-crush on Chocolate Covered Katie. I want to adopt her and let her live here in The Swamp with us forever, so she can fix me her healthified versions of really good desserts. This is a slightly modified version of her delicious Deep Dish Cookie Pie.

2 cans white beans or garbanzos, drained and rinsed. (or be crazy and use one of each like I did)
1 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 tbsp oil (I always use olive oil)
2 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (a little extra vanilla always makes things taste better...)
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup chocolate chips (60% or darker chocolate chips preferable for a healthier cookie)

Heat the oven to 350* and oil a pan. I used a large flat-bottomed Corning Vision casserole dish, but really wished my Skookie skillets weren't packed away, because it would have been perfect for this.

Katie recommends using a food processor to puree everything except the chips together. I only have a ninja blender, so that's what I used. I blended, then scraped the sides and blended some more until it was completely smooth with no lumps at all (the first time I made this I didn't blend thoroughly and the bean texture detracted from the dessert).

Mix in the chocolate chips, and pour into pan. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes. Leave the cookie in the pan at least 10 minutes, then plop it upside down on a plate, slice up, and enjoy! There's really nothing too bad in this cookie, so feel free to eat it for lunch with a big glass of milk. The beans will fill you up!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

seeing the beauty of Every Day

I saw this video over on the site Seeing the Everyday, and had to share. I wish I had a-day-in-the-life-of videos like this for all of my kids when they were babies. Time flies so fast, and looking at the "mundane" life of this mom is beautiful, and I miss it a little bit, even though I'm glad it's over.

Now I have to remind myself to see the loveliness of the pre-teen world we're now living in. Because it's pretty wonderful most of the time. We have so much fun together. The terrible twos are gone. The kids know how to study and are good at school. They have meaningful conversations with us (even if sometimes we forget to find the meaningfulness in those conversations...). They still love to hang out with us. They still want to snuggle a little now and then.

Since our baby years are behind us, I need someone to make a video of my kids and I enjoying a typical day in these Wonder Years, and again when they reach the Hormone Years, so we'll remember the beauty of those everydays too.

It's good for us to stop and appreciate what we have while we still have it, and not look back longingly -- or with regret -- once it is over. Our Once upon a Time is now. Even though it's not always easy to enjoy the stages our kids are in, we might as well enjoy our family, and appreciate each other as our story unfolds together!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

over the swamp and through the jungle...

(don't ask me why I like to take pictures of bugs...I don't even like them!)

The other day we went on a "hike." Moving from the Rocky Mountains to this flat swampy non-mountainous area, it seemed funny to us when people said they went hiking on the nearby trails. But Chris woke up and said to the kids, "Who wants to go on a hike?" And, of course, it made me laugh that he -- the passionate backpacker -- used the "h" word here in The Swamp.

 The woods stop abruptly and turn into a prairie. This grassy strip goes goes on for quite a while, out to a wooden lookout point where we sat and chatted with a bird photographer for a while.
 I love that Josh still holds my hand and wants to be near me all the time. The other kids do, too, sometimes, but not as often. I just want him to stay this little...

You can't really see the murky green water behind them very well, but this is Ethan's I'm a hungry alligator coming out of the swamp to get you face.

If you want to see us being the weirdos we really are, feel free to watch this shaky video. Just be warned. There's singing. And dancing. And Chris rolling his eyes at us. So watch at your own peril.

Monday, April 15, 2013

activity night at the church

 Last weekend our youth group decided to go watch one of the boys perform in School House Rock Live at his high school. I took Ashley, since she's a huge fan. But...we still had to trek over to the church during the week for Ethan's scouting and Ashley's achievement day activities.
 This is what Josh did in the young women room while we waited an hour and a half for the other kids to finish what they were doing.

 The cute achievement day girls and their amazing, amazing leader. Did I mention that she's amazing? She is.

 This is what I did while Josh built a fort and the kids did their church and scout thing and I didn't have a young women group to lead. Whenever I play a real piano, I remember again how my keyboard is like playing a plastic recorder compared to a real flute. There's no comparison (unless you're our bishop's wife, then you can rock the plastic recorder so much that people actually ask you to play it in public).

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Safety for the Soul, and also My Dad is a Hand Model

I'm giving the lesson in our Young Women class today about why we need Another Testament of Jesus Christ. I'm going to show them this clip starting at about 6 minutes in because an Apostle of Christ can say it so much better than I can! (and I'd forgotten that you can see my dad's hands holding the scriptures at about this point in the talk, as well -- He's famous!)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Our daughter, the wax museum statue

Ashley's class did a wax museum project where they each were assigned a book about a historical figure, then they wrote a script, came up with a costume and prop, and pretended they were wax statues in a museum. Visitors pushed a button to make the statue come to life for a moment to tell us their life story.
 Ashley was Pocahontas. Doesn't she look historical?
She had to hold this pose until someone pushed her button.

At one point while Chris and I were wandering around pushing buttons and meeting historical celebrities like Walt Disney and Daniel Boone (even Barack Obama took an hour off to be there and pretend to be made of wax -- mighty generous of him!), the teacher yelled, "Freeze. Everyone go into melt down." And at the same time, the kids all sank down to the floor and the buzzing voices around the room went silent. It was pretty cool.

Here's a video of Ashley's research on Pocahontas. It's kind of hard to hear because of all the other voices in the background, but her parents couldn't be prouder of her wax museum statue accomplishments.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Nature Walk

On Sunday, between the two General Conference sessions, we decided to get some energy out and take a walk through the nearby woods. We're lucky to live near some amazing paths and ponds, with many lovely birds and bugs to look at.

 Too bad there weren't any of the giant red ants running around this ant hill. This is one of our greatest fears here in The Swamp. We've been bitten and scarred for life (literally...) by these bugs.


I hoped we'd find some of The Swamp's more creepy things, like the giant spiders or the vultures that are always lurking nearby, but the woods were surprisingly clean that day. We'll have to save that post for Halloween, maybe.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Josh's conference birthday party

As you can see, Ashley was the only one taking notes during General Conference. As with everything she does, she was pretty intense about it. Ethan did a lot of rolling around on the floor and grunting at us whenever we talked to him. Chris looked sleepy while he "watched it" on his laptop. Josh was mad it wasn't over. And I was wandering around taking pictures of everyone. Just keeping it real...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

spring fling birthday party

On Josh's birthday, we headed over to the village's annual Spring Fling. The kids look forward to it all year, and Josh was glad it fell on his birthday. They give out prizes and pizza, hot dogs and snow cones. Perfect event for a birthday party.
 An up close shot of Josh's caricature. It looks just like him...kind of. Not really. But it's still cool. The lady who drew it knew all about BYU and chatted with us about how many people in her family were members, and how she and her mom were the only ones left holding out. "But they're working hard on us," she said with a laugh. She added the "go cougars" without us even telling her the mascot.

Josh asked the balloon magician for a motorcycle. The guy did a pretty good job.He said if Josh didn't pop it, the motorcycle would become real during the night. I haven't seen a motorcycle yet, so Josh must have popped his balloon.

 We all agreed that Ethan's was the creepiest caricature. But still funny enough to hang on the wall for a while.
The village taught my kids how to gamble. They never won when they spun the wheel, so they didn't develop a good, lucky feeling. ;-) 
“Children need encouragement. If a kid gets an answer right, tell him it was a lucky guess. That way he develops a good, lucky feeling.” ~ Jack Handy's Deep Thoughts
Josh was much happier about the Spring Fling than he looks here. Such a funny guy.

I know you can hardly wait. Next post will be all of our amazingly interesting General Conference pictures, which of course also happened on Josh's birthday, and he wasn't too happy about it. Kind of like his face in this picture...