30 September 2010

Best Friends

We all have a BFF! It (yes it) may be an it, for years I had a ragged cabbage patch doll that even went to BYU with me. She was my BFF for a LONG while holding my tears, my secrets, my fears, and my joys. I think she ended up in tufts of cotton after so much information. Since that time I traded in my Cabbage Patch doll for mission companions. Now my BFF is strangely enough...a...GUY. Yep, Justin that is you. He puts up with my tears, secrets, fears, and joys. I hope he does not end up as a tuft of cotton like my dolly.

Then there is the other realm of bosom friends, those who touch your life so deeply that you can never return to life before that person. I have a select few of these ladies in my life. Miekka is one, now I get to keep her FOR-Ev-VER, since my brother married her. She knows exactly how to defuse my glitches and set me on the right track. Miekka is my constant. Then comes Sarah, my bubbly, effervescent rock of life. Holy Smokes that girl is my rock. Catherine, well, she is like my giggle buddy. I always laugh at her sense of humor and ability to lift me higher. Most recently little ole Alison decided to run into my life. I think she is still running (I am not sure where?!). Hummm, she seems to fill in all the other spaces needed to live a full and happy life. So I guess she is my space maker. All of these gals are intelligent, bright, crafty (guess I need crafty friends), loving, and especially full of testimony.

I cannot tell you how excited I feel to watch Ella and Amelia create a friendship that can start elevating these girls to better people. It seems those early friendships often fizzle down to nothing as the years pass. As a mother I hope to help these girls maintain a strong bond. I am delighted to have a great friend in Ella's mother and an equally amazing friend for my daughter. Life cannot get much better than snuggling with your bestie on the couch watch a "phew-vie," picking your nose while sucking a thumb, and nibbling on Fork the Girl Reindeer.

***PS this post does not include the wonderful friendships within family bonds...just so ya don't feel left out. Miekka was included because I knew her WAY before James ever did. I am the lucky one since I knew her longer than my family.

29 September 2010

C is for Cat, Cloud, Circles and Candy Corn

This week I had the pleasure of teaching five bright minds about the letter C. Monday we learned about Cat, Clouds, and Circles. It was a challenge to teach the kids that C has two sounds, hard and soft. The concept was not clicking so we just stuck with the hard sound. Preschool starts off with circle time. We sang "look who came to school today," talked about the weather, days of the week, the months, and learned the Pledge of Allegiance. I read two books to transition into our letter activity. Monday we read "The Little Cloud" and "Splat the Cat" then today we read "Splat the Cat" and "Curious George Goes to a Costume Party." The kids LOVED "Splat the Cat!"

Monday we pretended to be clouds, changing shapes like a bunny, cat, helicopter, frog, etc. I used a sponge and cold water to demonstrate how clouds fill with cold water until the water falls out of the clouds as rain. Each child got to squeeze cold water out of the sponge. Then we laid on our tummies and pounded our fists and feet to sound like rain. We made a cloud man out of paper and cotton balls. The kids also made a cat craft out of a paper plate, paint, googly eyes, pom-poms, and pipe cleaners. Lily was sooooo excited when treat time came! Amelia and I made kitty cupcakes before preschool for snack. The best was serving milk in bowls so the kids chould drink like a cat. It was a super great hit.

Today we focused on candy corn. I had the kids try to cut out their own shapes during the craft time. Phew, that was hard trying to help five kids cut at the same time and corral Phillip at the same time. Phillip decided not to take a later morning nap today. Lily wanted to make a pirate candy corn man. That kid cracks me up. After paper crafts I let the kids practice making the letter "C" shape in pudding. This is a great activity for little kids, it helps them deal with responsibility, free form shapes, and muscle control. Plus, it is tasty! All the kids brought big shirts for smocks this time. Phillip thought the pudding activity was amazing. He earned the messiest reward. Zane made perfect "C" shapes when prompted. We had candy corn shaped cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, and colby jack cut into triangles) on crackers and course, some candy corn. I am glad the candy corn is now out of my home. It was a huge temptation.

In other news, we purchased a hi/lo camp chef double burner. After realizing that canning at home with our pressure cooker was not possible we made an investment, during an amazing sale! We got the burners on sale for 60% off. Yesterday I canned 4 quarts of spaghetti sauce. The stove set up outside worked like a charm. We are enjoying the warm temperatures this week. I hope the weather will last long enough to get enough tomatoes to make a couple quarts of salsa. Justin came home on Monday with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, just for the heck of it! I LOVED the flowers and especially the effort! Justin finally got a rifle he's eyed for a long while. Saturday he went out to play with his new toy for a couple hours. Sunday in the middle of church Phillip threw up all over himself. We went home early since he smelled so bad. He ran a fever Sunday through Tuesday, it could be related to his immunization shots 2 weeks ago or teething. Poor kid is not sleeping well.

25 September 2010

Hazel's Pumpkin Patch

Yesterday we attended a new employee function out at Hazel's Pumpkin Patch near Lodgepole. The road out there was a small country road, pretty dusty! Amelia was super excited to find out what a pumpkin patch was all about. Brother Campos spear-headed the event. We were met with a smile and handshake, fun treat bag and a wagon to boot. First, we tried the corn maze. A Charlie Brown scene was hidden somewhere in the maze. If you found the scene you could pick out a rock from Charlie's bucket and trade it in for a treat at the main house. Pulling the wagon loaded with kids and camera equipment really taxed my vigor. Phew, it was hard! Phillip was enthralled with the ride swishing his tongue from side to side. Poor kid has a huge spit rash from licking his chops so much. Justin scouted ahead finally locating the center. We went out to the pumpkin patch to collect two pumpkins for the kids. The kids were goobers because they would not cooperate for pumpkin posing photos. Stinkers.

Cabela's arranged a dinner of hot chili, hot dogs, chips, and drinks. Amelia discovered a small playhouse just her right size to play in. Phillip entered the costume party losing by a small margin. Amelia got a heart painted on her cheek. She sat so still I about laughed. She would not talk afterwards in fear of messing up the heart. That lasted a couple minutes before she melted into tired crying. Amelia was asleep before we got to the highway.

I made an impromptu trip to Sterling on Friday. I had some yarn to exchange at Fiber Space. I finished shopping for the kid's winter clothing and shoes. All I need now is a coat and snow pants for Phillip. Amelia always talks to the Walmart checkers. Her conversation this week went like this:

Amelia: My mom likes the color green
Checker: That's nice
Amelia: My mom loves doughnuts more than my Dad
Checker: Laughing hysterically, "REALLY?"
Me: sinking into the floor

So not true, I may love doughnuts more than Justin....does, but not more that I love Justin. She heard that one wrong, lost in translation.

Today I made four quarts of spaghetti sauce out of my garden tomatoes, herbs, carrots, and peppers. Yum! I may have one more batch coming in the next week or so. Grandma Lance gave me our family recipe for Texas Sheet Cake. She said the recipe came from her mother. I thought it was Aunt Laura's recipe. So good! I did not have the buttermilk so the cake did not set right after using milk. Don't look too closely at the ingredients or else you might feel guilty.

Texas Sheet Cake
3 T cocoa, 1 cup water, 1 1/2 cups oil, 1 stick of butter
combine and bring to a boil then add the hot mixture to:

2 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
combine then add:

2 eggs, 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp vanilla
bake at 350 for 20 minutes (I increased baking time to 30 minutes)

ice when the cake is hot with:
3 T cocoa, 1 stick of butter, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/3 cup milk
bring to a boil then add

2 1/2 cups of powered sugar (I added 1 tbs of corn syrup and reduced the sugar by a quarter cup)

23 September 2010

Happy First Day of Autumn


Autumn started today! We celebrated the event with an outing to the park, ice cream cones, and watching the Harvest Moon rise over the Nebraskan farms. Fall clothing creation is in full swing. My sewing room is a booby-trapped, lovely mess. I love having that room messy because it means my creative hands are flying and having a great time. The kids enjoy playing in my sewing room because I set up a "house" for Amelia to play with her kitchen, dollies, and such. Phillip enjoys pulling everything out of drawers and drooling on my leg. I am inspired this week by using old outfits for new ones. I removed an old applique on Amelia's second Halloween outfit and made it less girly for Phillip. I refashioned a cute skirt and shirt outfit for Amelia from an uber cute skirt from Salvation Army that I will never fit into (bummer). The waist band was intact, so I ripped out the zipper, snipped out the middle portion to shorten the skirt, and sewed up the sides, the reattached the skirt to the waist. Not really easy, peasy but rather a challenge that nearly stumped me. Thankfully, there was enough fabric with roses on it to salvage for an appliqued shirt. Add some bling for cuteness, then done! Next I refashioned a pink shirt from our local consignment store with a ratty old star on it. I made use of reverse applique with appliqued ears over the body for a sweet elephant. Amelia is in love! Amelia's Halloween outfit from last year received an extra inch of ribbon on the skirt, cut off the onesie bottom and added a ruffle to the shirt. It is a bit much, but I am proud of it! Alison ordered two hats for Ella last week. Since I was on a crochet kick I made Amelia a green one in compliment to the one for Ella. Amelia's has a fun brim and Ella's a beanie. My favorite are the pants for Phillip. A couple months ago I bought a length of knit at a garage sale for a Phillip outfit. He totally rocked the stripes today! This evening I made a coordinating applique of a squirrel for the pants. Justin often calls Phillip an angry squirrel when he goes about chattering out this and that. I did not have enough knit fabric to allow for matching the stripes from front to back, sort of bothers me! Just look how cute his diaper bum is crawling away from the camera.

The rest of our week was pretty tame. Went visiting teaching Monday right after dropping Amelia off at joy school. Alison picked her up to play with Ella for the afternoon. Finally mailed some stuff (sorry ladies, I am horrible at mailing stuff). Amelia talked my ear off about how much she enjoyed learning about the letter B at Zane's home. Tuesday we played with Ella almost all day. I got the new Tinkerbell movie after lunch, course they BOTH wanted to watch it. Wednesday, Deb and I taught the Wolf and Bear dens. At this time we don't have anyone called so the parents and I are helping out. The boys completed the Bobcat Trail in one hour. Seven boys can be rowdy but cookies can reign them in when needed.

I feel tired now. Must go read the Red Pyramid...totally rockin' read by the way.

19 September 2010

Cranky Pants and Skirts

Justin is loving the cool weather. The days are warm and the nights are cool, sure saves money on our utility bills when we don't have to run the cooler at night. Amelia and Phillip had a hard week. Amelia had the flu so was really tired and cranky. Her nights were not so pleasant with crying and such. Monday morning, around 3 am, she came and slept with us. I got up to get her some water and she proceeded to throw up all over my side of the bed. We both squeezed into her twin bed and tried to sleep. She cries so loud at night that Phillip wakes up if I don't respond post haste. Master Phillip must be working on more teeth besides the two top teeth he pushed out last weekend. Plus on Tuesday he received the latest round of immunizations. We all had the crankies camped out in our livingroom for the week. I think we kicked half the crankies out today. Amelia *finally* slept the entire night yesterday! Blessed angels, hallelujah. I planned on going to Cheyenne with Deb on Monday but Mia was not doing so well. I was bummed.

I am phasing out Phillip's morning nap now. Sniff, cry, pout. He is not so sure about taking one long nap. He skipped all naps a couple times last week. He will get the new schedule soon. I am excited to have mornings again to run errands, go to the park, play dates, etc. Yesterday and today he napped from 1 until 5! Good boy! With his new top teeth poking through Phillip is constantly swishing his tongue back and forth. One of the collages shows his tongue in two places, I missed the mid-wag photo. Justin and Phillip have this funny ritual of pointing at each other whenever Justin first sees Phillip. It is their "thing." Totally reminds me of my brother John. Uncle Shawn says: "A" holding a thumbs up, John: "B" holding up two fingers. Phillip is learning how to stack things, like wipee boxes, toys, books, to give him a leg up onto the coffee table and other furniture. Not looking forward to having another climber.

Thursday the RS had a fun activity shooting guns. We got to shoot a 9 mm, a 22 rifle, a 20 gauge shotgun, a 12 gauge shotgun, a pistol, and other fun weapons. Matt set up his clay thrower so we could try out shooting skeet. I actually shot 7 out of 9 with the smaller 20 gauge gun. I may need my own gun. Do they come in green with a paisley print?

Amelia learned about the letter "A" this week at Alison's home. Monday they learned about apples and Wednesday the kids learned about ants. Alison made cute apple rice crispy treat apples and ants on a pretzel stick for snacks. Amelia is really proud of her art work. She loves school! She made a cute ant out of an egg carton with Alison. Check out Alison's blog for some photos.

Alison watched Amelia and Phillip this week so Justin and I could have a real date. We went to Dude's for steak and then saw Nanny McPhee 2. Heaven! On the way out of Alison's Justin performed a circus trick, tripping down her concrete stairs and crashing half on the sidewalk and grass. He had Amelia in his arms at the time. He crushed the wipee box with his arm pit, scraped his elbow up, strained unknown muscles, and gave Amelia a hand print bruise on her leg. Alison said it was like watching someone fall in slow motion. Everyone is ok!

We attended a televised Stake Conference from SLC yesterday evening and this morning. It was extremely hard to hear over the kids. I am sad that so many of their words were missed. This too shall pass. I made a pear crisp with a shipment of pears Laurie Mason brought back from Tremonton. I made one last year and craved fresh pear crisp all year. Holy Hannah, it was delish. We ate a 1/4 bushel of fresh peaches and will eat a 1/4 bushel of pears this week. Those peaches were so juicy and sweet. Makes me want to throw all of Walmart's produce under a big semi. Our tomatoes are still cranking out red juicy fruit. I eat a tomato or two for every meal. Was I born Italian?

This week I made a couple new outfits for the kiddos. I finished another skirt/shirt set for Amelia but need some crystals to finish the shirt. The ruffle skirt was annoying to make except the result makes me want to sew another seven more. Phillip totally rocks his tie and suspender onesie and cuffed jeans. I tried to knit a hat this week but never made it past the first row. A friend reminded me the basics of knit and purl stitches. It is nigh impossible to find a spare moment to practice in peace. Soon!

Lately, my confidence in my photography skills waned. I really want to get better. I really want to be professional. Some recent experiences took the fun out of my hobby. It is a hobby, guys, if I really had a professional business you'd being paying me A LOT more money than I charge. Some of the fun came back this evening taking photos of my kids. Amelia posing like a natural and Phillip trying to ignore my third big black eye that Mom yells at him from behind. Those sillies make me smile.

12 September 2010

Newly Created


I am remiss about posting my recent creations. I am clearly on a crocheting kick, trying out harder patterns and embellishments. Most of the crochet items were made during our drive to and from Utah. It took me a while to put finishing touches on the hats. I really love the crochet sweater for Amelia. The brown ribbon will not stay. I wanted some color but the effect is not what I imagined. The sweater still needs a snap or two near the arm pits to make the crochet hang straight. About 3/4's of the way through the pattern I realized that I made up my own stitch, not the pattern stitch. LOL.

I was not in love with the coral shirt Amelia wore the other day with her new skirt...so I embellished another shirt, long-sleeved. Much better. Throw in some clips and a cute #1 shirt for Phillip to complete my recent portfolio. More sewing projects are in the works!!!

We had a slow day yesterday. Justin went out hunting early in the morning. He shot four doves! The kids and I stayed in PJs and lounged around for good measure. Around 2 we all went to the church to help set up for a Primary activity. We planned a water-themed activity for the kids. Fun times. Amelia and Ella joined in the activity, even though they are in nursery. Amelia said her favorite part was eating doughnuts from the tree that gives life. Interpretation: Becky dangled doughnuts from string for the kids to eat without using their hands; the tree was the tree of life, the doughnuts, fruit.

Amelia ran a high fever last night and today. I stayed home with her and Phillip. This evening she started yelling about slidey poop. Her only symptoms are a fever and diarrhea (slidey poop). Phillip finally busted out his top two teeth this morning. Justin and I listened to the grating sounds of him grinding his new teeth against his bottom teeth. Phillip LOVES the new sound he can create. The other day I changed his diaper and rolled over to grab the wipes, he says to me, "no, no ma-ma." Usually I am the one who says "No, No Phillip," when he tries to roll away. Yesterday he also started to nod his head yes. I love asking him if he's done eating, and get a hearty affirmative nod. His newer nickname is "squirrel." Pretty apt for the strange noises he makes. This morning he started pushing a stool around the kitchen and walking with it. Walking is coming soon!

10 September 2010

Mmmm, Carrots

These six quarts of carrots are pure gold. I actually picked them Tuesday evening. Wednesday evening I decided to do something about them, the easiest course seemed to can them in my new pressure cooker. Soon the carrots were peeled, cubed, and sitting in quart jars. That was the easy part. Canning them the hard part. Jeremee came over to help demystify my canner, I was afraid of blowing myself up. First, I could not locate the owner's manual. Justin found it online, awesome! We cannot use our pressure cooker on the glass range. Next step, putting the pressure cooker on the BBQ grill side range. It was too windy to generate enough constant heat that Jeremee suggested we put the jars in the fridge and try again the next day. B-u-mmer. I went over to help Alison for a minute yesterday and I saw her gas range glowing brightly from the corner of my eye. Bingo! She let me pressure cook the jars. It was seriously a 2.5 day task. Not so sure I want to try that again. Well, then Laurie emailed the RS ladies about Utah peaches and pears she is picking up this weekend. Hooray! More torture!!! Yum! I can't wait to make some winter stew with garden carrots. I still have about four rows of carrots to harvest. Any takers?

Side note: Phillip is teething. Poor kid is sooooo uncomfortable. He hardly napped yesterday even after getting up at 6 am. I did notice his front teeth trying to break through. Hopefully he will have those teeth through soon. My arms are getting buff from Phillip-holding.

Side note 2: We went on a walk yesterday evening. Amelia ran the whole way. Man, that girl is MY personal trainer. I put her squeaky shoes on. According to her, she HAD to run from the squeaking mouse. Fun times.

09 September 2010

Joy School

Amelia usually sleeps in until about 9 am (strange, right?). Yesterday she was awake by 7 am ready to start school. She really, really wanted to have a lunch in her square lunch box inside her pack-pack. I scrambled to finish a coordinating shirt for her newest cute skirt. Not so sure I am loving the shirt color, it worked for a temporary fix. The kids and I made a hasty trip to the library to borrow "The Kissing Hand" and "Chika-Chicka Boom-Boom" for our lesson. Before the kids arrived I got out my camera to take photos of the kids. Amelia begged me to get some: "super cute photos of Amelia in my adorable skirt with Fork, the Girl Reindeer and my pack-pack." Course I can't resist someone begging me for photos. Look at that smile!

At 10 am Zane arrived soon followed by Ella, Bryn, and Lily. We missed Will this week, hopefully he starts next week. Our first lesson focused on each child's name. We sang a couple songs, read books, and had an art activity. The lesson went by way too fast! We had 45 minutes left to play and eat snacks in the side yard. Amelia was super bummed we did not eat lunch at school. We called up Daddy and met at the park for a picnic lunch. Amelia, Phillip, and I stayed a play a little and feed the ducks. What a memorable day. I am so glad we have amazing Moms who are willing to participate in joy school.

I tried another new recipe for squash and zucchini. It was ok, not delicious enough to entice Justin. The recipe was for zucchini pancakes with eggs, flour, parsley, and cheese. Next year I may only plant one squash. I harvested an entire row of carrots on Tuesday. That adventure coming soon.

08 September 2010

Third Wreck the Cake Session

Deb's twins turned one on Monday. She hosted a fun party for the twins and Phillip. We met up for a BBQ dinner. I brought my famous potato salad. The kiddos were so funny. I fed Cydahlee and Phillip baked beans and potato salad for dinner. Ro was occupied with Deb's plate. Amelia practically disappeared while playing with Deb's older girls. Rocky grilled up some dogs, burgers, and brats out on their new patio. Deb spent a lot of time making three cute little cakes for the babies. We set the babies down on a plastic sheet and let them go at their cakes. Ro poked his a couple times and tasted the frosting then went off to explore, crawling through his cake, Cydah poked hers a little longer then crawled off over her and Ro's cakes, and Phillip, well he sampled all the cakes enjoying the lack of competition. I think he won the dirty contest hands down. We popped the babies into the tub for a wash down. After diapering and clothing the babies opened a small gift. It was so fun. The babies are so fun to watch. Deb popped in a new Elmo movie and little Ro plopped down in mesmerized awe. I loved it. We enjoyed a lovely evening with old and new friends. Thanks Deb for all your work!

Just a crazy sidenote: Phillip had colorful poop the next morning: red, purple, and green with baked beans mixed in. It was like pooping red velvet cake! Gross! Ewwwww