Monday, February 28, 2011

While Mom's Away, the Monkeys Will Play

One of my kiddos checked out I Can Make That from the library and has been on a crafting tear since.  First she made a couple of fun Monkey Racers while I was on a date. (I tried to post a picture, but it kept going sideways.)  Next she made the cool Mouse Trap game we played for our Family Home Evening Activity, and finally an quill and ink holder.

It's fun to see her put these things together using what we have around the house!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Family Home Evening: Recognizing Accomplishments

We had a rather unique Family Home Evening Lesson this week.  We started off looking at family photos of the last year and recognizing our individual accomplishments and those we made as a family.  We talked, and reminisced, and laughed.  We were given a journal challenge to record those accomplishments in our journals.

Our activity was a little unique also; it was a game one of my kiddos made earlier in the week, called Mouse Trap.  We enjoyed Muddy Buddies for a treat.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saturday Sentament: Decisions

Decisions determine destiny. ~ Thomas S. Monson

Friday, February 25, 2011

Favorite Feeds Friday: February 25

It's the last Favorite Feeds Friday of February!  That was a lot of "f"s.  I think that means that spring is on it's way.  We're supposed to get a few days in the 80's next week.  For those of you in places where it's still snowing, don't get too jealous because we'll be in the 120's a few weeks later.  Speaking of temperature, here's what's hot in blogland.  (I know you like that transition.)
  • I don't Twitter, but Small Fry & Co. has a cute bird card.
  • The One-Minute writer has a fun prompt for her Friday Fiction.
  • If you are more into quotes than writing fiction, share your favorite quote with Travelin Oma.
  • Joy the Baker shares a Lemon Cornmeal Breakfast Cake that I have to try on my next free morning.  You'll also want to read her hilarious story about her experience with a bee.
  • If you are looking for a good book, Booking Mama review's When We Were Strangers.  I added it to my list.
  • Seth Adam Smith shares a beautiful song by Nicole Sheahan.
  • Finally, check out our family's Hoot Book Club on Arizona Mama.
Don't be selfish, share your hot finds!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sad Day at the Park

We found this great park by the library several years ago.  The best thing about the park, besides being by the library, was the old school merry go round.  The kind I used to play on when I was a kid, back before the powers that be decided they were too dangerous - even though I never knew anyone who was seriously hurt on one. My kids had even more fun because there are more people to push it and make it go really fast. 

When we went to the library, the weather was so nice we figured we'd play at the park for a little bit.  We found a big sandy area where the merry go round used to be.  I guess the powers that be caught up to my kiddos.  For some reason it would be bad to have today's kids run around a little more than usual.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Defined by Christ

This morning I finished reading a great book; Defined by Christ by Toni Sorenson.  Three people recommended this book to me, so I figured it might be a worthwhile read because I'm quick like that.  I was not disappointed.  The author struggles with life like everyone I know and shares what helps her to keep going.  

The one thing that hit me yesterday was how much fear I have in my life.  I actually started noticing it a little bit earlier in the week when a friend invited me to join her at a local writing conference.  I told her I wasn't ready to take that step; yesterday I realized it's nothing but fear keeping me home.  As silly as it sounds, I'm afraid of rejection  and even more afraid of success. 

Realization is the first step, now to figure out how to get from where I am to where I want to be!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Family Home Evening: the Creation

For our lesson we read most of Moses 2, learning about the creation.  We picked out and drew a picture to represent what the Lord did each day. We discussed that a "day" doesn't necessarily mean 24 hours in this case, it is six periods. I believe that when we understand all the Lord knows, we will see how the laws of science fit into the gospel.  

For our activity we played one of our favorite games, What If.

Our treat was a big hit, Browned Butter Cookies.  The cookies were delicious on their own, but with the frosting - beyond words!  And I had an excuse to try my cookie press again, with success this time.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday Sentament: Discouragement

One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn't pay to get discouraged.  Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself. ~ Lucille Ball

Friday, February 18, 2011

Favorite Feeds Friday: February 18

Welcome to today's edition of Favorite Feeds Friday!  
  • Travelin' Oma shares an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction moment.  I have a one of those too, but I'll share a clumsy moment.  During my senior year in high school, a friend and I were meeting a college friend at Dillard's in Beverly Hills.  Trying to look grown up, I wore a dress and heels - to go shopping.  I attempted to walk down the steps and somehow fell flat like a plank of wood. Fortunately I put my hands out before my face hit the ground and my knees down to break my fall.  Because of that youth factor, I popped back up and kept walking.  My friend's hysterical laughter made it a little harder to act nonchalant. I was wearing some amazing tights; while my knees were skinned and bleeding, the tights were unscathed!
  • In addition to sharing an embarrassing moment with Travelin' Oma, the One-Minute Writer has a fun prompt for her Friday Fiction.
  • If writing is not your thing, maybe you are more into a good party.  We are approaching the heart of our birthday season and I can picture one of my kiddos choosing Simply Creative Insanity's Bring on Summer Ice Cream Social. 
  • Since everyone eats, check out Dinner Time Ideas' Stromboli recipe.
What finds have you found today?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cleaning the Kitchen for Company

In our house we use a chore wheel and the kiddos are in charge of a different chore each week.  Last week the kiddo in charge of the kitchen still had homework and I had a meeting that evening.  Since we were going to be sitting around the kitchen table, I started rinsing the dishes and loading the dishwasher.  Next I washed the table, and the counters.  The stove top was pretty grimy, so I soaked the burner grills while I washed out under them.  While I was there I noticed the hood had a quarter of an inch of dust stuck to it.  As I was finishing up the rest of the counters, I noticed the fingerprints and smudges on the cabinet doors and I had to stop myself because I had a few other things to get ready for my meeting.

I thought about how amazing it is that some of the kiddos can clean kitchen in half the time, or some can take even longer, both getting half the work done that I did.  In their defense, it is hard to reach the top of the hood.  Part of the difference is my definition of a clean kitchen isn't the same as theirs.  The other part is there was company coming!  I have a habit of looking at my house with a very critical eye when guests are arriving.  I could find enough jobs to keep me scrubbing from sun up to sundown.  I've even been known to paint a wall to prepare for a bridal shower.  On the up side, it's a great way to make sure my house doesn't get out of control.

What makes you feel a little OCD?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Great Expectations

Unfortunately, this post isn't about a Charles Dickens book.  I would love to read that one again. This is a wishing post, where I share the Valentines activities I wished I did before time ran out. 
  • I had been wanting to leave notes or perform acts of service for my children the week leading up to Valentine's Day.  I loved the Mother Huddle's idea of attaching them to chocolates.
  • There were so many cute Valentine crafts, I was hoping to do at least one.
  • A Valentine-y game would have been great, but I couldn't find one that hit the spot and I had everything I needed to play.
Before I knew it, the day of love came and went along with my aspirations.  I guess there's always next year.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine Traditions

 I like to do fun things as a family on Valentine's Day. I thought it would be fun to share our day using It's a Crafty Life's inspiration of Ten on Tuesday.  The first five on the list are traditions, we usually have a Valentine-y dinner, but not always pizza.  The next three items on the list were fun extras.  I am hoping to leave the last item off of next year's list!

  1. Table full of Valentines.  Everyone finds their Valentines at their spot at the dining room table
  2. Sealed with a Kiss Muffins (Strawberry Muffins with a Hershey's Kiss inside)
  3. Chocolate
  4. Family time
  5. Love
  6. Heart shaped pizza
  7. Delivering Valentine's to the neighbors
  8. Box of candy from our neighbor
  9. Red Cake with fluffy frosting
  10. Sweets until someone pukes!
How did you celebrate Valentine's Day?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sweet Bribes

Knowing there are a lot of meetings when you are a Scout leader, I openly bribe my Cub Scout leaders to come to our monthly planning meeting.  I keep my eye open for something unusual and tempting to inspire them to come and make them regret it if they cannot.  

My sweet bribe inspiration came from the Picky Palate with her Double White Chocolate and Pretzel Peanut Butter Cookies.  These were so good!  I had to beat my family off with a stick to make sure they made it to the meeting.  The leaders were taking another cookie for the road, so I think they liked them.  My family was exited to eat the left overs.  

The only downside is I ate the last one today.  Luckily for me there are plenty of other delicious treats to distract me!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Family Home Evening: Stipling Warriors

The Stripling Warriors is one of my favorite scripture stories, mostly because of the kudos given to moms for teaching their children.  This lesson had a sting to it, since the kiddo teaching the lesson pointed out that they thought the Stripling Warriors moms were better moms than I am.  Another case of the truth hurts, I laughed it off by agreeing because my children often aren't as obedient as the Stripling Warriors.  We discussed how they followed their mother's words with exactness and that is why they were blessed.  We also noted that be blessed doesn't mean we won't face trails.  All of the Stripling Warriors were blessed because of their great faith, but they were all injured.

For our activity we made Valentines for our neighbors, and we enjoyed Red Cake for a treat.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday Sentament: Love

There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart. ~ Michael Nolan
If you are going to be in Arizona on Valentine's Day, I posted a great family or couple's date location.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Favorite Feeds Friday: February 11

Happy Valentine's Eve Eve Eve!  We're finishing up our Valentine preparations tomorrow and Monday I'll be making my mother-in-law's famous Red Cake.  Are you celebrating this weekend or holding out until Monday?
  • Celebrations at Home has a fun paper flower how to that would dress up any Valentine gift or use it as a stand alone decoration.
  • Or hop over to the Givers Log for the perfect Souffle if your planning on making a super fancy dessert.
  • For something a little simpler, Your Cup of Cake's Apple Cinnamon Muffins might fit the bill.  
  • Gourmet Mom on the Go shares a recipe for Raspberry Chocolate Magic Shell.  I love the idea of making it from scratch!
As you can see, Valentines Day is mostly about the food.  What's your favorite part of the holiday of love?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

28 Day Challenge

Whenever I try to lighten my schedule something interesting happens, my brain goes into overdrive with ideas for some really good projects.  Maybe this is interesting along the lines of how whenever you mop, someone is compelled to spill something sticky within the next 18 minutes.  Except some of these ideas are really great, so I made a note of these great projects for when the time is right.  This works better than just adding them to my to-do list because I don't feel like they are hanging over me every day and I can add any details that come to mind.

24/7 Moms had a 28 Day Challenge that tied in nicely with my list of projects.  I like having to categories; small projects that take less than an hour, and big projects that take more than an hour.  The big projects range from shopping trips to projects that will take months to complete.  While I usually complete one project each day, there was some internal pressure to complete a project a day - or else.  Or else what I'm not sure, but knowing me I would beat myself up over another self-imposed, but possibly unnecessary, goal.

To relieve that pressure, I'm tweaking the challenge.  First, I changed the name of my list to "Project List".  I know it's an original name.  I add projects as I think of them, sort of an idea storage vault.  I look over the list every few days and highlight the ones I complete.  Instead of challenging myself to complete a certain number of projects a month, I can celebrate what I do get done.  I can also look to my list when I'm looking for a little direction in my day.  See I did choose the right word for 2011!

How do you organize your projects?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I try not to vent on my blog very often because of that whole focusing on the good thing.  But I hit my breaking point with the great snack debate that goes on in my home morning and afternoon.  Even though I try to keep a variety of snacks on hand, it seems like all the kids all choose to like the same snack at the same time.  This means that said snack is usually devoured within 24 hours, all the kids blaming each other for eating more than their share or trying to impose laws to make it last 36 hours instead.  I do have a child that is more inclined than the rest to get an extra portion; which makes the whole fairness situation more delicate because everyone is forever on that kiddos case, even when it isn't deserved.

I'm thinking the solution is to stop buying the "favorite" snacks and they can settle.  I guess if I was a good mom, the snacks would be limited to fruits and vegetables.  I even considered eliminating snacks, but I worry about them getting enough to eat. 

If you don't have this problem, can I come hang out at your house during lunch making time?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Worthy Read?

I was interested in reading Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love before I knew they were making a movie; before I knew Julia Roberts, would be the star.  I wanted to read it because it had an interesting sounding title and the little I knew about the book's premise sounded intriguing.  What's not to like about the idea of traveling to Italy and a couple of other countries for a year?  Yes, I was mostly interested in reading about traveling around Italy eating. 

But I was still leery of it being too grown up for me; there's a reason I read young adult books.  I looked for a review on Rated Reads, but there wasn't one there at the time.  Last month when I saw a copy at the library, I decided to give it a try.  It took me a few chapters to realize it was an autobiography.  40 pages or so into the book, she dropped the F bomb.  I considered putting the book down then, but I was already into the story and it was a tool to show the extreme emotion of the situation.  

It reminded me of Travelin' Oma's discussion about Mark Twain's colorful language.  How do I feel about swearing as a reader?  Maybe it's hypocritical, but Twain's words discussed had a purpose; they emphasized his point.  Some of Ms. Gilbert's language was also making her point, but more often it was just swearing.  

I was interested an another best seller because so many people said it was so good, even though I didn't know anything about what the book is about.  That one was on Rated Reads, informing me there were about 7 instances of the F word.  Armed with that information I chose not to read it.  Having read Eat, Pray, Love; I wouldn't read it again nor will I be reading the follow up book Committed.  I won't be gushing about the book to my friends; if someone asks, I'll share what I liked along with what I didn't.  

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Family Home Evening: Pioneers and Prophets

Our lesson was a couple of pioneer stories.  We read about Brigham Young's prophecies for the Salt Lake Valley.  It is always inspiring to hear a prophecy and see it's fulfillment.  What a great reminder of the power of following the prophet.  The next story went right along with following the prophet's counsel and paying tithing even when times are hard.  

Our activity was a quiz about prophets from the January Ensign. Our treat, Snowman Sundaes, was inspired by Poca Cosas.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Saturday Sentament: Endurance

Heather Carson shared this quote a couple of weeks ago.

There is no shortage of mountains to climb.  And as painful and difficult as some of these tests of endurance, sheer will, and faith are they are often the catalyst to our greater understanding. - Sheri Dew

Friday, February 4, 2011

Favorite Feeds Friday: February 4

Welcome to February!  It's been down right cold, even here in Arizona.  I don't mean the "It's under 65 degrees" cold.  It was 22 degrees outside when I dropped my kiddos off at school.  At least we've done a little celebrating this week, first with Groundhog's Day cupcakes on Wednesday, and yesterday we had fortune cookies for Chinese New Year.  I also had some silly Chinese-style wishes on the table we made last year.  The one at my spot said "May your scarf be warm and your apple always be polished".  It sounds good to me; did I mention it's been cold here?  I'm enjoying anything warm at this point.  Enough about my week; here's today installment of Favorite Feeds Friday!
  • I love Travelin' Oma's ghost hunting tips for expanding an ancestor beyond a name, date and place.
  • Check out these cute flowers at Small Fry & Co.
  • Your Homebased Mom shares a recipe for yummy Olive Garden style bread sticks.
  • The buns take a long time to make, so I can see why Chef Tess doesn't make these very often, but they sound delicious with her Taco Burgers.
  • Cookies are always a fun indoor activity, and they help warm up the house!  Try these Cabin Fever Cookies from Megan's Munchies.
  • You could also try Make It Do's vegetable dip.
  • I dream of throwing a fancy party.  Celebrations at Home shares a how-to for making a cool back drop for the food.
Share what caught your attention this cold February morning!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Groundhog Day

I've always loved Groundhog Day, but not for the same reason most people do.  My grandma shared her birthday with this fun holiday.  So besides thinking of the cute little guys poking his head out and looking for a shadow, today I remember the time spent with my sweet grandma.  

She was the descendant of Sicilian immigrants, born and raised in Brooklyn.  If the rumors are true, she faced challenges in her childhood I can't even imagine.  The lasting effect continued to haunt her during her mothering years, affecting her husband and children.  But that was before my time.

I'm grateful I knew her in her grandma years.  I have fond memories of spending a week at a time with her and Grandpa.  We would eat cream of wheat for breakfast; Grandpa's was dark brown from adding so much brown sugar.  I'd help feed their arthritic dog, Cindy.  She seemed even older than my grandparents.

Occasionally I spend a little time in the garden with Grandpa, but mostly I was Grandma's girl.  She rarely got tired of me being attached at the hip.  She would show me her treasures around the house.  Her long dresser wasn't cluttered, but it captivated me; a brush, comb and mirror set; figurines representing her daughters, and a fascinating birdcage music box.  There was also a picture of my aunt who passed away before I was born; she would tell me how much I looked like her.  I definitely feel an unusually strong connection with her considering I never met her.  

We cleaned together and cooked, but mostly we sat on the couch together, me scooted as close as possible.  We would sing hymns together, or she would tell me stories.  I remember her softness and her undivided attention, and I miss her very much.  I miss her homemade spaghetti sauce and watching bowling on TV with her and Grandpa.  They had a long hall where I would set up the bowling pin bank and roll the little plastic bowling ball and compete with the guys on TV.  It's much easier to get a strike when you only have one pin to knock down.

I wish my children could meet her and understand why I love her so much.  Instead this Groundhog day, I'll share her memory.  And tomorrow we'll celebrate the Chinese New Year. I hope I can build fond memories with my children as my grandma did with me.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

January Numbered

We survived January even though there weren't any big parties or celebrations; a month devoted to getting back to normal.  It's hard to get back to normal, aka stark, when December is so full of decorations and celebrations.  Although my kiddos refused to take down the paper snowflakes.  I think they look kind of funny with the Valentines decorations, but that's just me.  So here's a run down of what we did do instead of celebrating.

.4 - The number of pounds I lost.  It's not much,but it's sure better than gaining weight.  Much more impressive is the 1 1/4 inches I lost from off my hips.  I hope I never find it!
2 - Books read.  100 Ways to Improve Your Writing and Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident. 
3 - Childhood memories recorded, never to be lost!
6 - Scrapbook layouts finished.  It's a slow start so I'll need to pick it up this month
8 - PAF (Personal Ancestral File) names verified for accuracy and completeness
9 - Articles written for Homemaking Cottage and Arizona Mama
10 - Piano practices.  Right now I'm going back through the begging books to refresh my memory.  When you get to be my age, it's easy to forget stuff if you don't keep working with it!
15 - Pinewood Derby cars racing at our Pack Meeting.
29 - Blog Posts
960 - Page Views; another new record, thanks to all of you!

What did you do to survive January?


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