Wednesday, December 28, 2011

We were talking about it...

My friend, Barbara, was over this afternoon and while we were quite busy with nonsense and then with some painting we started talking about how God puts people where they need to be and prepare them for the plan and the blessing He has in store for each of His children. Periodically, we get ideas in our minds that our past or our lack of faith is the reason we have not acquired the blessing we believe are instore. Or maybe we have the picture for our lives drawn in the ink of our teenage wisdom. All of those reasons cause hearthache, loneliness, or other varieties of self-imposed emotional hurt. But the good news is we came up with the truth.

God doesn't punish us for the past, just as He doesn't withhold blessings. It's a process that every person goes through to learn that God has an individual plan, unique to each of His children. When we believe we are going without, for whatever reason, we just forgot that God's timeline is not like our own. Just as His ways are not our ways. See... Barbara and I came up with what we already knew. Just because we have mistakes mixed in with the years we wait for the life we imagined, doesn't mean there wasn't a reason for the wait.

Whatever weaknesses I have/had and the service/righteousness I tried to render during the years I wondered wasn't the reason I was 27 when Jake and I got married. I had experiences and opportunities that became apart of who I am and in the meantime I needed to wait for the right time to meet the right person so we could be together.

Barbara described it like this.... As we go through experiences and face trials and difficulties sometimes of our own making, we are gathering small colorful threads that start to create pieces. You can't quite make out what you are seeing, and then all the sudden your picture and God's picture start to align, then you see the threads have created a beautiful rug. All the pieces, that seemed like random pieces at the time, were never random at all. They bring you to the right place.... The temple, the scriptures, to prayer, to others through service, and maybe even to your family.

"Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersover thou goest." Joshua 1:9

Saturday, December 24, 2011

"The best way to spread Christmas cheer.... singing loud for all to hear."  (Elf, the sponsor of Christmas 2011)

We're singing.  You better believe it.  Last night the kids and I went with Brother Fowers to the Stoddard's Hoopernacle.  A man came in with a white beard and a Santa hat so I told Noah how nice I thought it was for Santa to stop by the Hoopernacle so close to Christmas.  Noah replied with his usual, "ho ho ho."  Then thirty seconds later, Noah looked back at "Santa" and said, "He's not the real Santa!  That's not the real Santa!"  Which prompted Abbi on her lines...."He's a liar!  He sits on a throne of lies!"

Good times.

A couple weeks before this Elf/Santa incident, the kids and I were at the mall with Jeremy.  I was so excited that Santa was right there with no lines.  I said, "It's Santa!  I know him!  I know him!"  And Abbi ran her line, "He's not the real Santa!"  She repeated that several times but five seconds later I lost her.  There she was on Santa's lap all by herself.  We figure she was just covering her bases in case it was the real Santa.  She requested a pencil and a Christmas eraser.  Noah wouldn't sit on Santa's lap.  He made me do it.  So there was Noah on my lap, and me on Santa's lap, playing telephone with Noah's Christmas list.  I felt like Noah was a mob boss whispering his demands, "I want a basketball hoop."  I repeated that to Santa.  Then another whisper, "And a football."  So I told Santa a football.  Then Noah ran away.  That was an awkward second for me on Santa's lap.

Santa finished our shopping in October.  He had a hard time getting any type of ideas from the kids.  After some internet research, Santa wrote the list himself and headed to the store.  Since then, the kids have not come up with really any original ideas other than the pencil.  And at first Noah would only answer with "a treat" or "two treats" if you would ask what he wanted Santa to bring.  Santa took the kids to the store and piqued their interest by showing them a few items he wants them to look forward too.  Fortunately that worked, and now I am (I mean Santa) is really excited to watch the kids be excited on Christmas morning.  The other day I figured I should have just given the kids both a dozen balloons.  They love chasing those things around.

Anyway...I wanted to post a picture of our celebrations so far.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Do you see what I see?

Toby kind of reminds of that scary movie, The Gremlins.  I'm pretty sure a gremlin hides in their Christmas tree.  He likes to get in about once a day.  Then Toby chases the ornaments round on the ground after he knocks them out of the tree.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

homemade alfredo

Don't get scared away by the recipe I am about to share.  If you're scared, I would still highly recommend the recipe....just use it as a side.  It's too delicious and way too easy not to make.
  1. use any noodle you like.  we had these weirdo-shaped noodles or spaghetti noodles.  i chose the weirdo ones.
  2. cook them like the package know...the good old aldente.  save 1/2 cup of the boiled water after draining the cooked noodles.
  3. in a bowl, mix together 2 (that's right...2) cubes (yes, cubes) of butter with 1/2 pound of grated Parmesan cheese.
  4. put the drained pasta back into the warm pot and add the cheese mixture.  
  5. start with 1/4 cup of the boiled water and add more if you want.
  6. the recipe I heard about includes a 1/2 tsp of salt but I wanted to make sure our dinner had flavor so I added at least 1/2 tsp of garlic salt on top of a little more regular salt and pepper.
This may have been the best "cheese" dish I have ever made.  We get a little gun shy around cheese at our house but this was wonderful.  The kids ate it with chicken nuggets and fruit.  Yum.

We like stuff....

Is it even possible to take too many pictures of a cat?

Crock Pot Orange Chicken

Browning the chicken on the stove

Mixing the juices together....mmmm....Smells better after it's cooked for some reason.

Finished orange chicken after a couple hours in the crock pot.
1/2 TB salt
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
3 TB ketchup
4 oz orange juice concentrate (thawed) -you could add a couple ounces more if you like it sweeter
4 TB brown sugar - you could maybe do a little less then this
  1. Cut the chicken into bite-size chunks and cover them in flour.
  2. Brown the chicken on the stove with olive oil.  It doesn't have to be all the way cooked through because it's going into the crock pot for a while, too.
  3. Mix the marinade in a bowl.
  4. Pour the marinade and the chicken into a crock pot and stir them together.
  5. Cook in the crock pot on low for about 3 hours.  The recipe I've altered said 2-3 hours on high but that was a little too much. 
I thought I'd share this recipe I found but with my alterations.  We didn't like it as sweet as the recipe I've used so we reduced the orange juice and the sugar.  We ate the chicken over jasmine rice and enjoyed it.  I could see my family enjoying with asparagus or something equally green or veggie, too.  I like spicy orange chicken so I'm going to try that next time.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

inquiring minds want to know...

Word on the street is that there are people wondering what's going on here with all the animals..... let me enlighten you.




I guess everything and everyone learns new things.  Some of those things are worth celebrating.  For example, the dogs sit on command, the cat poops himself in the box, Noah speaks in sentences now....  But sometimes when a new trick is learned, instead of celebrating you feel like you've lost a part of your life that you'll never get back.  Do you laugh?  Do you cry?  The dogs can get anything through the top of their boxes and can shred it in no time at all.  We got through a roll of paper towels a week just for them.  Also, they eat the rawhide sticks (that promise hours of enjoyment for your pet and are made out of pure pork liver) in as little as 20 seconds.  The cat can/does stand on my arm like he's a little bird because I want to enjoy a nice treat while sitting on the couch.  Noah learned how to make fart noises with his arm, during sacrament meeting.  He also learned that when he wakes up in the morning he can get out of his bed and come right out of his room.  We used to depend on his patience to wait in bed until whatever hour we chose to wake up.

All of these creatures came into our home out of a love of creatures.  This may be a new found love for me.....kind of.  I've always loved the thought of pets and such but I was never capable of letting them stay very long.  I think all this boils down to the fact that 2011 was a banner year for me.  I learned to commit.  I don't just commit.  I crazy commit.  Some days, I may qualify to be committed. 

p.s.  Abbi is an additional creature in our home but she's well-trained on many levels.  She makes us laugh but it's hardly ever at inappropriate times.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Thankfuls

I'm thankful that although Jake maybe was taken back by my surprise text on January 1st, he responded.
I'm thankful that Jake didn't abandon me in the mountains on our reconciliation drive.
I'm thankful for his forgiveness, second chance, and love.

I'm thankful that Jake didn't wait until March to propose.

I'm thankful that I have had the temple for 3 years to go to for peace and refreshment

I'm thankful for all the support I had during our engagement.
I'm thankful for the Spirit that helped me make the right choices even if I was a little scared.

I'm thankful for the day I got to marry my best friend, Jake, and become a mom for Abbi and Noah.

I'm thankful for lots of support and modern medicine.

I'm thankful for the things I got to do with the kids and see what a miracle it is for those little minds to grow and learn so quickly.

I'm thankful for the support and patience of my family and friends.
I'm thankful for the re-instituted FMC.

I'm thankful for the Labor Day picnic that was perfect timing for our last family party with Grandpa Stone.
I'm thankful for the knowledge and testimony that Grandpa is very happily reunited with Grandma.

I am thankful for conference and the advice, "It's better to look up."
I'm thankful for Pinterest, a.k.a. Pininterest.

I'm thankful for a homey feeling home and people in it.

I really can't list everything I'm thankful for in one post.  I hope, that if by chance anyone was a repeat visitor to my blog, they would realize I am very thankful all year for all the good people I have in my life.  As this momentous year begins to wrap up, I am relieved, yet anxious, to move on.  I've accomplished more, and learned more, in the last 12 months than in the last 10 years.  I'm excited to take what I've learned forward and appreciate the experiences I have had as memories. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sewing Hoops Wall

sewing hoops + fabric scraps = new kitchen wall

I'm not sure if this is still in progress or if it's done.  I have a really long wall in my kitchen/living room so I'm trying to break it up.  Jake said he would never decorate like this but he doesn't hate it.  I felt bad for a nano-second that he wouldn't want it on the wall but then I remembered how much I liked it.

It's just nice to meet another human who shares my affinity for owl culture.

I made this little guy today.  I love him.  This project could have gotten slightly better or a lot worse so I'm pretty pleased with the results.  I loved owls before it was cool to love owls.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

baseball practice

Baseball Gear: one oven mitt, one frying pan, one bouncy ball, and a big coat if available.  Lots of baseball happening in our house.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Advent Stories: Halloween vs. Christmas

I gathered holiday stories from the Deseret Industries and borrowed a few more from my mom.  I wrapped them all up in just one sheet of tissue paper.  The kids will be able to pick a story to read each night during the month about the upcoming holiday.  October is still lacking but I'm thinking of writing a few of my own stories that will have their names or things they are familiar with to make it fun for them.  I'm still deciding about November because I don't think I'll be able to find enough stories for each night that I can afford.  We'll have to mix it up a little bit.  And in December, we have more than enough books for Christmas.  Because we haven't read most of them we might choose not to keep them all for next year, and I'll just have to replace a few each year until we have a collection of stories we love.  I tried to keep the count pretty even between Santa type stories vs. stories about Jesus.  I'm excited to see if this tradition sticks with us.  Either way, it'll sure be fun this time around!

What a weekend!

I enjoyed the weekend so very much!  I may not have prioritized the things I could have done but I still feel like I was pretty productive!  On Thursday, I put on clothes before 9 a.m. and shopped all day.  Santa is done!  I'm so excited to be able to enjoy each holiday for the rest of the year without worrying and rushing around, fighting the crowds.  I did some research and went out with a list.  That's the first time I really knew what gifts I was really going out for.  I hope the kids will be have fun with them (minus the socks and underwear).

Here is a sneak peek of our family pictures we had done on Friday.  Thanks KW!  I'm excited to see them the rest of them because we sure have some cute kids!

Saturday, I enjoyed listening to conference.  I especially enjoyed hearing Elder Carl B. Cook speak and reminding us to look up.  I've been a little down recently, looking for a way to be more positive and faithful and the "look up" reminder was just what I needed.  My very helpful mother watched the kids all day.  Abbi and Noah wore their new Halloween shirts to celebrate that October finally came!  I used to do that to, every year, but I'll need to invest in a Halloween shirt for me I guess.  We appreciate her so much.  Abbi loved spending the day there and Noah sang, hammered, and got hooked on football.

While the boys went off to Priesthood session, the girls/children/Cody had a Pinterest night.  It was so fun!  The Zupas was delicious, the crafts were fun to try, and the company was the best!
Tiffani made cute frames and this wreath!

Amber made this awesome felt flower wreath!  We thought it would take her forever but she showed us.

I made a spooky frame and Abbi drew a picture of Jake as a pirate and me as a witch.
Sunday = a great sleep in day.  Jake made us a delicious breakfast and we enjoyed listening to conference.  Abbi and I decorated the house for Halloween.  Unfortunately, when she went to bed tonight she said she was scared of jack 'o lanterns.  I hope I haven't scarred the poor girl.  After we decorated, I made myself another Pinterest craft for myself, hoping a visual reminder will help me be more realistic during my pity parties.
plain canvas, small wood letters, elmer's glue
spray painted in a light brown ... this isn't where it will hang forever

  GOOD ENOUGH is this great post by Wendy, reminding me about what a good mom my Grandma Betty was.  This mildly hidden RENAME IT is the advice my friend Amanda's mom, Lynda.  I sat in her kitchen, practically begging her to tell me how to lower the expectations I have for myself.  Everything Lynda does is done well and I wanted to know how she learned to deal with it when things don't turn out how she plans.  She told me that she just "renames it."  Excellent advice.

We celebrated my dad's #63 birthday today.  In lieu of gifts, he asked for his children to write him a letter.  I made mine a formal evaluation giving him a 4.67 out of 5.  He could have scored higher if he was more timely around lunch time and turned on his hearing devices during conversations.  I love my dad so much.  He and my mom really have pulled/pushed/helped/led/encouraged/supported me through the last year.
And because this post needs more length, I want to throw honorable mentions out to my husband and puppies.  I love them all for different reasons.  Except the puppies....I kind of love them the same and for the same reasons.
camouflage with the blanket I gave them