Sunday, December 30, 2012

Their space

When we lived in our rental house one of the things I loved to do was look at blogs and websites to see how people decorated their houses. I really looked forward to was decorating my boys' rooms. I imagined their rooms looking sort of like this:
or maybe like this:

but what I got were rooms with mismatched furniture and decorations that I hadn't quite planned on. It seemed that as soon as the fresh coat of paint was dry, my boys would start drawing and finding things to hang on their walls. I would cringe as they took their pictures and taped them to their walls, or put up stickers that I knew one day would be hard to remove. At first I hated it. With all of their stuff on the walls I knew I was never going to have a cute "blog-worthy" boy room, but then I finally accepted that it wasn't MY room. It was their room and they should be able to decorate it how ever they wanted. The other day I was on a cleaning spree so I cleaned their rooms and rearranged the furniture a little. When they saw what I had done they added some more of their personal touches and I was fine with that. After all, it's their space. I want them to feel like they can do with it what they want. I want them to be creative and feel free to put things on the walls that they chose and to enjoy being in their rooms. It's hard to let go of my image of the perfect room and give them the freedom to do what they want, but I figure after they move out I can decorate any way I want.
Trevor's wall
Colin and Logan's drawings and stickers

Thursday, December 27, 2012

10 days

In 10 days my baby will be 5. He was supposed to be born at the end of January but he decided to come 20 days early. He was anxious to join our family. I remember a day when Trevor and Colin were around 4 and 2 years old and I was getting lunch ready. When I called them into the kitchen to come to the table the two of them came running. I saw them sitting there and then I looked back towards the hall because I knew someone was missing. Isn't that funny? There was such a strong impression that I actually looked and expected another kid to come running to the table. That was my Logan. He was ready and I was  not so he had to nudge me. He was my best baby. The easiest baby. He was sweet and good, he was always happy. I took my time and really enjoyed him. I held him a lot and he let me. 5 means big kid. It means going to school soon and being away from home more. But then it also means I get to go and help in his class and see him learning new things and making friends. Logan has such a strong personality. When he was little I thought he was going to be really shy but he's a lot more outgoing now and he has a stubborn streak in him. He's totally a mama's boy but he loves his time with Dave. He loves to ride his bike but he does not want his training wheels off. He loves to read books, play with Legos, play computer games and watch TV and movies. He's funny and smart, he likes when we do preschool at home and he loves going to "school" at the library for story time or to my friend Jamie's classroom. He still sleeps with his baby blanket and almost every night he gets out of bed to sleep on the floor. He loves his brothers but he hates being the youngest and  always asks why he couldn't have been born first.
New born Logan with his big brothers
Logan on his 1st birthday
2 years old - this is how he used to smile

3 year old - loves his Mama!

4 years old - almost 5

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Four gifts

Today at church many of the comments and lessons were about how to focus more on Christ this time of year and less on the other aspects of Christmas. One of the things Dave and I have always tried to do is not get the boys too many gifts at Christmas because we never wanted them to get to the point where they expected lots of stuff. But sometimes we would look under the tree and think it looked too sparse so we'd go out and get a few more gifts. But they weren't always thoughtful gifts. They weren't always things that were appreciated. Tonight, while I was looking at some of my favorite blogs, I came across this post on Emily's blog.  It was just what I needed to read. She wanted to do something so her kids were more grateful for the things they got. Dave and I often say the same thing about our boys. Because, really, they have never gone without; they have never known what it really feels like to want for something. So I read Emily's post to Dave and how she was going to change how she did Christmas for her kids. Everyone gets 4 gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. We loved it. We went through the gifts we had already purchased for the boys and made a list, then checked it twice and decided on the 4 gifts to give them. There might be less under the tree this year, but hopefully the gifts will be more thoughtful and not just stuff. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

When I was single and living on my own I made all of my decorations for my Christmas tree. I made gingerbread ornaments and a popcorn and cranberry string to hang on the tree. I thought it looked so cute and when I came home and saw my homemade tree I thought I was just the most crafty, clever girl ever. After Dave and I got married we kept the gingerbread ornaments for 2 more years, but slowly started to get more. One of our traditions is that every year the boys get a new ornament for the tree. We did that when I was little and I always loved picking a new one or being surprised if my Mom got them for us. This year we took the boys shopping and let them choose their own....what an ordeal! But it was still fun and they do love the ones they picked and are constantly taking them off the tree and repositioning them. A few more traditions we have is setting up the tree and decorations the day after Thanksgiving. The first Monday in December we go to the Ethel M. Chocolate factory and go look at the Christmas lights in their garden and then get donuts for a treat. We always have a big Christmas Eve celebration for my dad's side of the family...that tradition has been on going for years and years. We also have a family Christmas party at my mom's house where we have dinner and exchange gifts. Tonight we are going to start a new tradition. I told the boys since it's December 1st we are going to make hot chocolate and cookies (maybe popcorn too) and watch Polar Express. I love all of the fun that comes with Christmas, the traditions, spending time with family, writing letters to Santa, remembering Christ and hoping for a better new year. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. 
My mom made this for me one year. Love how cute and simple it is. 

This is our manger and the "straw". When we do something kind for someone or serve someone we add soft straw for the manger.  The goal is to fill the manger by Christmas so baby Jesus has a soft, warm place to lay. As you can see we have not been very nice the past week.

Stockings my mom made, the Jingle blocks my mom made and the paper chain are scriptures. We will take a scripture off each night and read it and it will count down to Christmas.

We don't have a lot of decorations but the ones we do have make the house feel like Christmas. I love that every year the tree has a few more decorations.

My new decoration for the year - the wooden tree my sister made for me. I love simple things.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Book Review - Son by Lois Lowry

They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn't exist. That she had becomes a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him., but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice. 

I read The Giver (published in 1993) in my college Young Adult Lit class. I read it in one day, on a Saturday, because I could not put it down. I loved that book. It was one of those books that stays with you long after you read the last page. A book where you think about the characters and wonder what happened to them. It wasn't until a few years ago that I discovered Lois Lowry had written two more books in The Giver series. I read on her website that she had so many people wanting to know what happened to the characters that she decided to write more books, Gathering Blue (2000) and Messenger (2004)They are all books that can stand alone, but when read together the stories and characters are woven together in such an amazing way. Son, the final book of the series, came out this year, 19 years after the first book. I find it interesting how much time passed between the writing of these books. I wish more writers would take more time when writing a series. I think writers rush and publishers push and in between something gets lost in the storytelling. Son takes the reader back to the same community as in the first book and back to the original character, but in a new way. Claire is introduced in the last book and it is through her story that the characters from all four books are reunited. This was one of the best series of books I have ever read, better than Hunger Games, Maze Runner and, yes, even Twilight (especially Twilight). For me, these are on my list of books that I could read over and over again. Hopefully, someone (Mom!) will get the hint and get me the set for Christmas. Click here if you want to purchase Son 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gluten free recipes

Lately we've been finding out that people in my family have Celiac Disease (click to find out what Celiac disease is). I know I need to get my kids tested and get myself tested, but it's a little scary and daunting to think there may be a chance that we have to go gluten free when it comes to food. My kids love bread and all things gluten. So do I. But I have been looking on blogs and websites just to see what's out there and there's a lot of good, gluten free recipes. My friend told me about a yummy gluten free chocolate peanut butter cookie and the other day I made some homemade granola that Dave has been loving as a snack for work mixed in with vanilla yogurt. Here are the recipes:
Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter (I used half smooth and half crunchy)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat oven to 350 and and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (for easy clean up). Mix ingredients by hand with a spoon until combined. Roll dough into balls and dust with a pinch of sugar before baking (I forgot to do that). Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies may seem too soft, but you don't want the bottoms to burn. Let cool on the cookie sheet a few minutes before removing.

For Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies add to the above recipe 1/2 cup cocoa powder and 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Mix, roll and bake the same.

Cranberry Almond Granola
3 cups oats (not quick cooking)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/3 - 1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/3 - 1/2 cup dried cranberries (this would be good with dried blueberries, or a combo of both)

Heat oven to 350. Mix everything except cinnamon and cranberries in a bowl. Spread onto greased baking sheet or line sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring halfway. Remove from oven and stir. Let cool 2-3 minutes, add cranberries and stir to combine. Store in air tight container for 2-3 weeks. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


When I was a kid I used to brag about how many grandmas I had and that I had great-grandmas too. Not just one, but three. Not too many other kids I knew had great grandmas and that made me feel special. I especially loved that as I had kids they were able to brag that they not only had great-grandmas but great-great grandmas too. A few years ago my mom had family in town over Thanksgiving weekend. We had a dinner at her house and Trevor came up to me and said, "Mom, I just counted that I have 5 grandmas here!" I told him how lucky he was to have that many grandmas in one room at one time. This past weekend my great-grandma passed away. She was 102 years old, just a few months away from turning 103. A while ago my mom got a book for her that had questions in it so she could write down her memories and history. It's been fun reading about my great-grandma and getting to know more about what she was like when she was younger. She lived a long life and saw a lot of changes, but she was a sweet lady and the kids loved her. When I told the boys she passed away they were all a little sad. Trevor cried and said, "I wish I had one last chance to see her and say good-bye." Then Colin said, "Well, we'll see her again when she is resurrected." And Logan, "She's in Heaven with her family." I'm so grateful for the things my boys know from church and things we have taught them at home. So grateful that they know when someone dies they go to Heaven and that they are met by all of their loved ones who have passed on before and that we will get the opportunity to see our family again. It makes these sad times a little easier, knowing that they haven't really left us, they are waiting and watching from the other side. 

Trevor with his great and great-great grandmas
Colin and Great-great Grandma Helen

Logan and Great-great-Grandma

Monday, November 12, 2012

Christmas Book Giveaway!

Because it's Monday and the kids are home from school, because there are only 43 days left until Christmas and because this week my very first published story comes out I am doing a Christmas Book Giveaway!

Can Santa learn a lesson from the Savior?

Can a foreign exchange student help you see Christmas a little more clearly?

Do things really look better from a distance?

And just how many holiday ornaments does one woman need?

Get into the Christmas Spirit by entering to win a FREE copy of Checkin' It Twice. 

To enter leave a comment on my facebook post or blog telling me what is at the top of YOUR Christmas list this year.  
I will choose a winner at random on Thursday November 15.

You can also buy a copy of Checkin' It Twice by clicking HERE.  It would make a great gift for family or friends. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

A little bit of fun

Elementary school is really kicking my butt. I never thought it would be this hard to get my kids through the first 6 years of school. I thought they would sail through and get straight A's on their report cards, that homework would be a breeze, that they would get up every day and be excited to get ready and go to school. I thought my boys would be like I was in elementary school. But they're not. Kindergarten was great for both #1 and #2. They both did well and they were smart and caught on to concepts quickly. But then first grade came and it was a struggle for both of them. Reading is hard, writing is even harder. I rack my brain trying to come up with fun things to do at home to learn spelling words (I never have and I never will like spelling tests) or I will spend hours online trying to find games or ideas to help with reading and writing. We fight and yell and argue over homework every day. The kids get burnt out and so do I. But I keep doing it. I keep getting on them about working hard. I keep printing out writing prompts, sight words, spelling lists and work to do at home so they can get extra practice. I pray for their little minds to open up and absorb what they need so they can "get it", so the light bulb will go off and they will not struggle so much. I hide in my room and cry when it's report card time and I see on Facebook all of my friends posting about their kids getting straight A's when my kid had to work really hard for a C. They are smart boys, I know they are. They are just struggling right now and it's making life at home not so fun. So this weekend we are going to have a little fun. We're going to take a break. I cleaned the house today so no one has to do chores tomorrow and we're going to go to the movies and out to eat and we're going to play games and have a day where no one has to think about or worry about reading or writing or grades. Because right now, our little family needs a day off. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Saturday, November 3, 2012


A couple of weeks ago my parents took the boys and me to Disneyland. They really wanted the boys to see Cars Land and since we didn't get a summer vacation they wanted to do something special and fun for the boys. It was a fabulous trip and we had an amazing time. Logan had absolutely the most fun during this trip. At 4 he was the perfect age. Everything was just so fun for him, he was in awe of the rides and characters and all of the Halloween decorations. He thought everything was "real" and it was just fun seeing the look on his face. He loved all of the rides from the big ones (Thunder Railroad) to the little ones (Winnie the Pooh). The boys all had their moments (what kid does not have at least one meltdown while at the Happiest Place on Earth?) but all in all it was a memorable trip and something I look forward to doing again.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bathroom cabinet make - over

Boys bathroom with freshly painted white cabinets
and new hardware!
My sister called me this week to tell me she was going to re-paint her kids' bathroom and paint the cabinets as well. She also painted her front door black and it came out amazing. It made me want to do something cute to my house. So I ran to Home Depot, got a small paint roller and some hardware and painted the boys' bathroom cabinets. I've been wanting to do it for a while, since I painted the downstairs bathrooms cabinets, and it came out great. I love how it looks. Now that the boys have a cute bathroom and bedrooms I want to do my own bed and bath. It's next on my list....

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Gettin' in the Christmas Spirit

Last year I decided to enter a writing contest. It was the first time I ever put my writing out there for others to read and critique (well except for my college creative writing class). The contest was for Christmas short stories and the winning stories were going to be published in a collection. It was really fun thinking of an idea and writing and editing, and editing some more and letting other people read it and comment. It was fun reading the other stories and seeing how many different, fun ideas people came up with. I won one of the contest categories and now my story will be published, along with all of the other winners, in a collection that will be available to purchase on November 15. I'm so excited to see my first story in print. After this experience with this writing contest I've been trying to make writing more of a priority and take it more seriously. I recently sold a story to the Friend magazine, a magazine our church publishes for children. That story will be published in the June 2013 issue. I have also started a writers' group with a friend and we are gearing up for NaNoWriMo in November (National Novel Writing Month). By the end of November I hope to have my first draft of my first novel written. So, even though it's still a warm 85 degrees here in Vegas and it doesn't even feel like fall, start gearing up for Christmas by checking out Checkin' It Twice, available November 15 through Amazon. There's nothing better than reading a good holiday story to help you get into the Christmas Spirit.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ninja Cooking School

A couple of weeks ago I decided that the boys needed to help out more in the kitchen. I rearranged the chore chart and added "help Mom cook" as one of the chores for the week. Logan was my first helper and when I told him he got to be the chef helper he said, "I'm not a chef helper, I'm a ninja." So that is hoe Ninja Cooking School came to be. I started with something simple: fruit salad. I showed Logan how to use the knife to cut up oranges, bananas and grapes for fruit salad. He did a really good job. When it was time for dinner. he was super excited to tell everyone he made the salad all by himself and then he proceeded to eat a lot of it. He had never liked oranges before but since he cut them up he wanted to try them. Trevor helped last week and did a great job learning how to make Baked Ziti, using a knife to cut up strawberries, making mashed potatoes and chicken in a biscuit. He told me cooking was actually kind of fun. Colin gets to help this week and I picked his favorite for the menu: spaghetti and meatballs. It's a lot of fun having them in the kitchen to help cook and then after dinner they all stay and help clean up and do the dishes. I think someday my future daughter-in-laws are going to thank me.
Dave and the boys making dessert. Love my boys in the kitchen cooking!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Halloween Yarn Wreath

I was at Michael's Craft Store last weekend with my three boys trying to get stuff to make 2 new wreaths for my doors for Halloween. I knew what I wanted and was just going to go in, get my stuff, and get out, but the boys wanted to see EVERYTHING. We were there for at least 40 minutes looking at all of the fun Halloween stuff. It is my boys' favorite holiday and the beginning of all of the holiday fun. I love getting decorations out and finding something new to decorate with, and I just love having wreaths on my doors. I have been making lots of these yarn wreaths since I made my first one last year. They are so easy and look cute and there is so much you can do with them. I am not a crafty person so for me simple is better. When I was in the store getting yarn this woman asked if I knew how to crochet. I told her my yarn was for a wreath and then explained how to make it: get any wreath you want, any size, shape, whatever. Get the yarn you want, and then start wrapping. So easy. This lady was so impressed. She said she was going to try and learn to crochet but now she was going to make door wreaths instead. She was so excited. I was happy to spread some crafty cheer to someone. So this is how my Halloween wreath turned out. I love it. Colin said it looks nice and he likes the colors. Logan said it's not scary enough and it needs spiders and webs. He said moms will like it but not kids. After I put my wreaths up they put up all of the ghosts, skulls, tombstones and the other scary decorations. All we need are some pumpkins and we're good.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Now I'm a believer

I have a ton of rosemary in my front yard. People always tell me that I can cook with it, but I never believed them. I mean, the rosemary in my yard has got to be different from the stuff they use on cooking shows, right? But I would always hear from ladies how they go out in their yard and get a little and use it in their dinner. Sounded weird to me. But tonight, on a whim and because I was feeling all homemakey and domestic I went in my front yard and grabbed some rosemary. I was making homemade focaccia bread to go with my spaghetti for dinner. I wanted to flavor my bread so I got some garlic cloves and the rosemary and put it in my little food processor and chopped it all up. Once it was chopped I smelled it. It was a-maz-ing. One of the best smells ever. Colin said it smelled weird but he was wrong. I put half of the mixture into my bread dough and the other half I sauteed with a little olive oil and onions and then dumped in my can of Hunt's Spaghetti sauce and some cooked ground beef. I let the sauce simmer for about an hour while I got the bread ready and then baked it. And dinner tonight was delicious. The sauce tasted homemade and the rosemary added something. Trevor said he loved the sauce. I mean LOVED. It was so good. The focaccia was really good. It tasted like flavored pizza crust and next time I will put in more rosemary and garlic. The flavor was good but too subtle. I love cooking, I love trying new recipes and I love it the most when my kids lick their plates clean. (If you want the focaccia recipe you can find it here on PW's blog. Just make the dough and then put in the flavors you want. It would make a really good pizza dough too.)

Friday, September 28, 2012


 I decided to keep Logan home for one more year before he starts school. He really wanted to go to preschool so I told him we were going to do home school this year. It has been working out great. Two days a week we do the calendar, talk about the weather, sing songs. I have a theme each week so we read books and do art projects, we learn letters and numbers, colors and shapes. It's been fun spending special time with Logan and watching as he learns new things and gets excited about school. Even though home school has been fun, I wanted Logan to get to go to a real classroom. My friend Jamie teaches preschool for CCSD so we visited her today. Logan had a great time exploring her classroom and playing with everything. Jamie even gave me some toys, games and materials to use with Logan when we do preschool at home. I'm glad when he goes to school next year it's only going to be for half a day. I don't think I'm ready to be home alone quite yet.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Travel Plans

I envy people who travel. I dream about taking my kids to fun, historical places. I long to visit places I've seen in movies or read about in books. I am not a big traveler, but I have been to some fun places. I've been to Washington, D.C., Boston (twice), San Francisco, Alabama and Arkansas. Dave and I went on a cruise for our Honeymoon and we visited Nice, France for a week years ago. We've loved our trips to San Diego and sitting on the beach in Laguna.We've gone hiking with the kids in Zion, seen Shakespearean plays in Cedar. But, one of the places I have always wanted to go, the place on the top of my "Travel Bucket List" is Prince Edward Island. Anyone who knows me knows I love Anne Shirley. She is probably my all time favorite literary heroine and it's partly because of her that I love to write and why I wanted to become an English teacher.
Last night an idea popped into my head. I thought that I needed to plan a trip to PEI. I needed to plan it far enough in advance so I can save and plan and prepare, but not too far that it never happens. I asked two of my friends if they wanted to go with me. The two girls who I know love Anne as much as I do (maybe even more). They both said yes. Of course they said yes. We're going to go 4 years from now. It's written in black permanent ink on my future 2016 calendar: Vacation to PEI with Michelle and Erin. I can't wait. It's going to be the best trip ever.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner (it would even make a tasty snack)

After Logan and I finished his preschool lesson for the day (we learned about the sun and stars) he told me he wanted a soft taco for lunch. As I was making his quesadilla I decided I wanted something like that for lunch too, but different. I used the last flour tortilla on his lunch but I had some corn ones in the pantry. I started thinking about a breakfast burrito, but then my memory took me back to a Pioneer Woman recipe. It took me back to this: Pioneer Woman's Huevo in the Hole (click here for the recipe). So I started making it and in the middle of cracking the egg Dave came home for lunch. He told me it looked weird. I told him it was a PW recipe and her recipes have never failed me. I seasoned my egg with salt and pepper and when it was all cooked I added shredded cheese along with the salsa and sour cream. Dave still said it looked weird. So I gave him a bite and he said it was delicious. I told you. PW recipes are always good. Always. So I ate mine and then made one for him. I used the little tortilla circles to make mini quesadillas and ate them before Dave could see what I was doing. I'm sneaky that way. This would be a yummy breakfast, it made a great lunch and would even be good for dinner on those nights you don't know what else to cook. And if your kids don't like eggs that are all oozy in the middle (mine sure don't) they can eat the mini quesadillas. Try it, you'll like it.