Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's Finally Here!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

The cards didn't get out and the snow we had is melting, but the baking is done, the presents are wrapped, our family is all together and healthy and, most importantly, this particular holiday can be celebrated anytime and anywhere if we keep in mind the real reason for it. How grateful I am for the star, the shepherds, the angels, and wise men and most especially the Baby that brought them all together so long ago. Hope you have a most wonderful Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Vinegar, a Link, and Merry Christmas!

This one's for me, but I thought I'd share a little. I follow a blog called "The Simple Dollar" and really enjoy it for the most part. It's a financial/frugality blog written by a guy named Trent and in general I agree with the stuff he writes. Sometimes I beg to differ, but, hey, different opinions are the spice of life. A couple of days ago Trent posted an article about 15 things you can do with vinegar. I've recently been introduced to all the great things vinegar can do and I wanted to put his list somewhere I can always find it (because heaven knows the last thing I need is another paper to keep track of!) So, here's his list and a link to his blog so you can check it out for yourself if you're interested. Merry Christmas! (At the rate things are going- only 4 hours of school time left and counting and a "to-do" list still too long- this is all you're likely to get from us. Enjoy!)

15 Uses for Incredibly Inexpensive White Vinegar
Posted: 16 Dec 2009 12:00 PM PST

One of the best bargains in your local grocery store is plain old white vinegar. You can get a 32 ounce jug of it (half a gallon) for about $1.50 and it has a multitude of uses beyond the edible ones (like pickles and salad dressings). Here are fifteen uses for white vinegar, most of which I use myself.

Toilet cleaner: Got a toilet bowl that’s difficult to clean? Before you go to bed, dump a cup of vinegar in the bowl, then close the lid. I usually spread the vinegar around the bowl a bit with a brush to coat the sides. In the morning, the whole bowl will be really easy to brush. I can’t remember the last time I bought actual toilet bowl cleaner.

Refrigerator cleaner :I take a gallon of warm water in a bowl, add about two cups of vinegar, bust out a rag, and use that solution to clean the inside of the refrigerator. It does a great job of cleaning things up without much effort at all. If something’s really bad, I’ll put a tablespoon or so of pure vinegar right on it, let it sit for a bit, then give it a scrub.

Sunburn: Is your skin a bit sunburnt? Just rub some vinegar on the affected area and it’ll feel much better really quickly. If it’s bad, you can reapply the vinegar a few times.

Kitchen drain odors: If your kitchen drain has an odd smell, pour a cup of white vinegar down the drain, then don’t run any water for at least an hour. When you do run water, run quite a bit of it to flush out the drain. This usually takes care of any odors – if any still linger, repeat this a time or two.

Fabric softener: Instead of using fabric softener, use about half a cup of white vinegar. It has largely the same effect without coating your clothes in chemicals and costs a lot less.

Rusty tools: Just soak anything that’s rusty in vinegar overnight, then clean it thoroughly with a brush. The rust will wipe away nearly as well as it does with any expensive rust remover I’ve ever tried.

Vinyl flooring: If you have a vinyl floor that needs cleaned, mop using equal amounts of water and vinegar. This works really well for getting up stains, especially if you go over it twice. Don’t do this with wood or wood laminate, however, because vinegar can react with the wood.

Window cleaning: Forget Windex. Just put some vinegar in a spray bottle and get to work on any glass surfaces. It works really well and doesn’t seem to streak much at all.

Eyeglass cleaner: If you use eyeglass cleaner, just take an empty container and fill it with vinegar. It cuts through grease on your lenses really well, leaving them looking great!

Microwave cleaning: Put a cup of vinegar in the microwave, then run the microwave on high for three minutes. Let it sit undisturbed for half an hour, then remove the cup. The gunk in your microwave will be very easy to wipe down.

Carpet odors: Did your dog do something funky on the carpet (or your toddler, for that matter – yes, I have used this tip to clean up some early potty training accidents)? Pour half a cup of vinegar on the spot that smells and just let it dry. This will kill off the odor and it’ll also make it easier to clean any stains.

Garbage disposal odors: If your garbage disposal smells a bit odd, vinegar alone usually won’t do the trick because it doesn’t get into all of the cracks and crevasses in there. Instead, fill up an ice cube tray with vinegar and put it in the freezer until you have vinegar ice cubes. Toss those cubes into the disposal and run the disposal for five seconds or so (with water). Then let it sit for an hour or two, then run it again. This always works for us.

Air freshener: Got that spray bottle of vinegar from the window cleaning? Spritz it in the air a few times to kill general odors. It smells vaguely vinegary for the first minute, then it just smells clean.

Nasty air: Got a room that really reeks of smoke or paint fumes? Put a bowl of vinegar in there and just let it sit. If the room’s really bad, put out two or three bowls. The odor in the room will drastically improve in a few hours.

Whitening clothes :Put a cup of white vinegar in a load of whites along with a quarter of a cup of baking soda. This will whiten your whites as effectively as bleach without the harshness.

These uses just scratch the surface. Whenever there’s a cleaning mission in my home, I usually tackle it with vinegar and baking soda as the first line of defense.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thoughts on a Monday Evening

This is another one of those times I feel like writing, but don't really have anything to say. So, I'm going to ramble and see where it takes me.

1) It snowed today. Alot. Well, ok, Southern UT could get up to like 40 inches, so our 6 or 8 isn't really all that much in comparison. Try driving down our hill when it hasn't been plowed and has several inches of snow and your friend's house is at the bottom with the garage watching you head right at it and then it feels a little more impressive. I like that the school district doesn't cancel school for snow,just football. The kids seem much more excited to come home and head out to play in it than they do if they've had free time all day.

2) Greg finished his last paper for the semester and turned it in this afternoon! Woo Hoo! Christmas break has arrived, at least for one aspect of our lives. The kids are very jealous, though some seem to be struggling with the concept that he still has to go to work even though he's on a break. It doesn't help that he works at one school while attending another, so whose Christmas break are we talking about, anyway?!

3) I really enjoyed Elder Uchtdorf's talk at the First Presidency Christmas Devotional last night. I'm going to spend a little more time this Christmas season making sure I can still see the reason for the season and not just the season.

4) My mental calendar just reminded me that today is the day Pearl Harbor was bombed and entered the US into WWII. My grandparents were married in July of 1941 and then left almost immediately for Honolulu. They were there during the attack, so I always think of them. Grandpa was a weather forecaster for the entire South Pacific, so he didn't have to ship out, but they spent the rest of the war in Hawaii and Grandma has some intense stories to tell about being married 6 months and then not knowing if her husband was alive after the bombing, driving around with headlights blacked out except for quarter-sized navy blue circles in the middle, giving birth in a hospital by flashlight, having to seal off every window in the house in the middle of the night so no light could escape before warming a bottle, and torpedo watches every morning and evening on the ship sailing back to the mainland to visit her parents. They sure make me grateful for the sacrifices made by those who serve in the military and their families and for the life I live today.

5) I love white lights on Christmas trees. They look like little stars to me.

6) I bought Pillsbury brownie mixes last week for $.48 a piece. I thought it was a smoking deal until I made them tonight for FHE and they gave me heart burn. Guess I should make them a lot this month because they aren't tempting me at all. That might help the waistline.

7) The Christmas bins are still sitting in my living room. They're beginning to bug me because it's been 10 days since we started decorating and they are now becoming tables that everyone is putting stuff on. What are the odds that I'm ever going to finish getting the rest of the decorations out? I'm thinking that I'll enjoy this season a whole lot more if I stick with the tree, the stockings, and the one nativity that's already out on the piano and get the bins back downstairs.

8) Our mail carrier is also the Bishop in the ward next to ours. He told me today that one of the kids in their Primary saw him all bundled up (which means he's wearing a coat, hat and boots with his shorts. Must be related somehow to our boys!) and said he looked like a ninja snowman. Kids have the best imaginations!

Ok, I just had to go back and correct the spelling for almost every word in the last sentence. I think that means my brain has passed some limit, especially since they weren't really complicated words! Have a great night and enjoy your tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mother/Daughter Time, round 2 and Happy Thanksgiving

Thanks to the school district for giving Erica and I some more fun mother/daughter time. The entire school district has Wednesday off for Thanksgiving, but for some reason, the highschool only has a half day on Tuesday as well. It worked out well for us, though. See, Erica turned 16 recently and her permit was expiring soon and she finished her driving course at school so we made good use of her time today and went to get her a drivers license. Woo hoo!

One Happy, Licensed, Young Lady

(When did we we get over training wheels?)

(Side note- It's kind of weird for me still. I'm not too excited to have her take the car out the first time alone. I think it's the control freak in me and a little paranoia sets in when I think what COULD happen, though probably WON'T happen. I've already explained to her I'll probably be a little weird about it and to just be patient and humor me when I don't want her to go farther than the church! She just smiled and said ok and then very wisely didn't ask to drive today. A nut case mom can only handle so much excitement in her life in one day! I got over driving in the car with her, I'm sure I'll figure out not driving in the car with her. Surely I was an older 16-year-old- not that she's a problem child, I just remember changing diapers and helping her learn to ride a bike. There was much more time between those things and driving for me, at least from my perspective!)


There was a miracle involved with this experience. School got out at 11:40 and I was 5 minutes late picking her up at school. It's a 15 minute drive, or so, over the the Driver's License Division from school. We were done and driving away at 12:24 on the van clock (which is set 3 minutes fast, so it was really 12:21). In case you don't want to do the math, that's 36 minutes from pick-up at school to finished at the DLD. Never, in my wildest dreams would I have thought a person could get a new driver's license in such a short time. Granted, she did both the written and driving portions of the test as part of the driver's ed class at school (finally found a good reason for that school fee!) so all we had to do was turn in paper work, pay for it, and take her picture. Still, I think that's pretty amazing. Here I was, hoping that the 3 hours I had before Steven and Ryan got out of school would be enough and we were done in 36 minutes. We ran a couple of errands on the way home and celebrated with Sam's Club deluxe pizza at the end. (I know, you're jealous!) Pretty fun day thanks, again, to the school district and their days off.

Tomorrow everyone (except Greg) is home. The kids are planning an all day Star Wars marathon and I'm starting the baking for Thanksgiving. If everyone shows up for the movies that has said they're coming, I may have to bake a bunch of extra goodies! We'll see!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!
What are you grateful for this year?


Friday, November 20, 2009

Football or New Moon...Decisions, Decisions

For those of you not following the UT 4A High School Football playoffs (and that would include us), Erica's high school made it to the championship game. It happens to be today. For some odd reason, they play these games in the middle of the day on a school day. Maybe it's just because we're a 4A and not a 5A school and the 5A might play tonight. And, since they play at the U of U and there's a chance the U of U might want their team to play on the field tomorrow and not ours. Either way, the school district has this little policy that if the school can pre-sell 1000 tickets to the game, they'll cancel school for the day so all the students can go. Erica pointed out that there are very few high school students who wouldn't pay a couple of bucks to get a day off, whether they actually go to the game or not. She assures me that she did not do that, though. So, it's been an anxious week as they've waited to hear on the school status for today. The great news arrived during lunch yesterday. 1000 tickets had been sold! No school at the high school today! Erica called to tell me right then and woke me up from a nap, so I was less than excited or supportive in this wonderful turn of events.

I suddenly found myself with some quantity mother/daughter time and I changed up my plans so it could be quality time as well. She chose to sleep a bit this morning, which was fine. I walked the boys to school like normal and then planned to take Erica shopping to get the items I meant to get for her birthday (Happy Birthday!) but circumstances prevented my actually getting to the store. She had other plans and met me at the door when I got home excitedly announcing that there was a showing of "New Moon" at 10:00 this morning. We could see it and still have time for me to get back to help out with Book Club in Steven's class. Why not?! She's been pushing for this movie to be the "reward" movie for all those in the family with no cavities- which would be everyone but me. I know for a fact that Greg doesn't want to see it and no matter how much Erica tries to convince herself and them otherwise, I'm pretty sure her brothers don't want to see it either.

We picked up friend, Katie, on the way and had quite a bit of fun. The movie's better than the first- at least at following the storyline. We had to split up because we weren't three hours early for seats. I got to sit behind Erica and Katie, right next to 2 pre-teens who were skipping school and at the movies with one of their mothers. Judging by all the twittering and nervous giggles, they weren't the only ones who should have been in school and were not. Pre-teen girls should not be allowed to watch this movie. They also should not be allowed to be interested in boys. There are way too many new hormones trying to figure out where they belong and too many parts in the movie that get them all out of whack. Pre-teen boys would probably be ok, though they'd wonder why a good action flick has to be interrupted so often with all the lovey stuff. Either way, I've now seen it, Greg hasn't, the boys are off the hook, and Erica, Katie, and I had a fun morning. Thanks, football team, for making it to the championships and giving Erica the day off.

Oh, BTW, we won 35-6. We learned that from the teen-age boys in our house who went to school today and saw snatches of the game on TV there. Maybe the school district should hold school and just show the game instead of holding class. Just a thought. Of course, I wouldn't go to school to watch with Erica, so maybe this way's better in the end- quality, quantity mother/daughter/friend time. Though, showing the game and holding school would not result in my being anywhere near twittering pre-teen girls on a Friday morning. Ah, decisions, decisions!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nice Surprise

I found out today that there are at least two radio stations here who are playing Christmas music all day everyday already. Bit early? Maybe. Sure did make me wish it would snow today, though! I'll have to pace my listening so I'm not burned out by December!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Metamorphosis

I was released as YW President yesterday. It was a bittersweet day, tempered somewhat by the fact that I get to be the new YW Camp Director, so I still get to hang out with the girls. The up side was that I suddenly found sections of free time that I didn't previously have on my calendar. So, I had grand plans for today.

Today's schedule included the following:
8:00-9:00 walk the boys to school and take the long way home for exercise
9:00-11:00- read my scriptures and check/answer email, shower
11:00-2:00- make apple and pear sauce out of the remaining fruit in the garage so the van can be parked in there before it snows.
2:00-2:50- clean-up kitchen and run a vacuum through the living room.
3:00-4:30- start dinner (Dinner in a pumpkin which takes a bit more time than normal) and help kiddos with homework.
4:30-5:00- pick up Erica from orchestra rehearsal
5:00-6:00- finish dinner to eat when Greg gets home.

It's amazing how little things can change the entire direction of a day.

1) Was reminded by Erica at 7:00 that I needed to stop at the store and pick a book for her. She needed it last week. Decided to delay the applesauce a bit so I could run to the store after my shower.

2) Left home at 8:00 with my keys to walk the boys to school. Realized part way up the street that Ryan forgot his back pack which helped me to realize that the house key Erica had borrowed yesterday was no longer on my key ring and we couldn't get back in the house.

3) Walked home the short way so I could use the car keys to drive to Greg's work and get his house key so I could get back into the house, get Ryans back pack, take it to him, and then get back home to get back on track for my day. (FYI- my neighbors do have a copy of our house keys just for times like this, but they couldn't find it. I appreciated their efforts, though.)

4) Spent a touch longer on the scriptures and email than planned, but it was for a good cause (see previous post). Still pretty close to target to get the book and get it to Erica, but Applesauce may have to be moved to later in the week.

5) Showered and got out the door to the store. The 30 minute trip became a 2 hour trip when the first store didn't have the book and had to run to the next store. And store #2 I realized I'd left my planner at store #1. Store #2 did not have the book, either. Returned to store #1 and searched high and low for the book. Spoke to the cart guy outside as he was picking up my cart, the service desk, the cashier, the service desk again, then found the planner in the cart corral, still in the front of the cart. Applesauce is out, so is pretty much any house cleaning.

6) Got to home a message on the phone from Hollywood Video. They had a call from the library where we had accidentally turned in our Hollywood Video DVD last week. It needed to be returned to Hollywood today or we'd be charged an extra late fee. Switching dinner to something else (who knows what) so that I can help woth a little homework, then leave to get Erica early and have time to stop at the library than Hollywood on my way to school.

7) Thank heavens for cell phones so I could talk to children and my aunt and make more use of the drive time.

8) Home from school. Still no idea on dinner. More homework. I can do algebra, but not in my head. Algebra student has head-ache and is somewhat grouchy. 8-year-old suddenly obsessed with earning money and is constantly asking for extra jobs to do. 12-year-old (scored major points with his mom) helps with algebra and takes over making dinner (scrambled eggs and toast) so mom can have a few minutes by herself (which is a nice thought but not a reality).

So, now I've made unplanned trips to Greg's work, the elementary school, 1 store, the library, and the video store and not made applesauce, or dinner or done anything to clean the house except throw away a couple of papers. I'm ready for bed. First, though, I will go eat my eggs and toast, talk with my sweetheart, and have family home evening. I think those were in the plan for today at some point.

Thoughts on a Monday

A friend emailed this morning. She was concerned about the world, politics, and changes she sees occuring in America. She also asked me what I knew about the 7th seal spoken of in Revelations. I have read about it, but don't know a whole lot, so I opened to Revelations and read again. It does sound pretty scary, especially since there aren't too many specific dates listed so you know whether or not now is the time to begin worrying or to get yourself and family prepared. It was a thought provoking hour trying to come up with an answer for her. There are a couple of things I do know, though.

1) D&C 77 is a "question and answer" session with the Lord about some of the things in Revelations. That would be a good place to start if you have questions about it.

2) Matthew 24 and the Joseph Smith Translation are also about the signs of the last days. They, too would help.

3) We know that before the Lord comes again our nation and the constitution are going to hang by a thread. In my mind that means it's going to appear that the inevitable conclusion is that they are going to fall and that means that there's a very good chance that politically, socially, and economically things will be pretty bad. Like most things, there's a chance it will be a gradual decline over decades, with maybe a few spikes, that most people don't notice. Just look at the difference in TV over the last 50 years and that gives you a pretty good idea which way things have been heading for a long time already. Satan generally can't take a people from righteous living and drop a bombshell that will cause the constitution to hang by a thread over night. He can get us to a point over time where the bombshell will be effective, though, and we need to be careful about that. He's working just as hard to make his side win as we are.

4) In those days the ONLY safety and security is going to be found in the gospel. The scriptures say that the saints will be gathered together in Zion and that the wicked will fear and tremble at the sight of it.

5) The Lord promises all over the place in the scriptures that the righteous will be protected. Mosiah 2:41 talks about the happy state of those who keep the commandments. I think that means not only day to day, but also when times get tough, and even afer we die. Another great scripture with respect to both keeping the commandments to be happy every day and to receive protection in the trials of the last days is D&C 64.

See, we aren't just working to keep things at a status quo. We're working to prepare for the day when the Savior will come again and life on earth will be better than we could ever dream it could be. Yes, there are going to be some pretty dreadful things that happen between now and then. Yes, our government and the people in our country are going to have some very difficult times. Yes, it's hard to know it's going to come and wonder if "this is it". That's why it's so important for us to be aware of what's going on, do our part to see that good men and women are elected to serve in government, and that we make our voices heard on the issues. Satan and those following him are certainly going to do so.

The most important thing we can do, though, is take care of ourselves. I don't just mean food and money, though that is part of it and will be important. I mean that the time will come when we all will have to decide where we stand with respect to God and His commandments and the Church. The world is going to go to heck in a hand basket, but we don't have to. The Lord has promised protection and guidance here and exaltation in the world to come if we choose to be humble, obedient and follow Him. No, it's not easy, but it will so be worth it in the end. We also don't have to worry or face it alone. We're all here to help each other through and the Savior will be there to guide, direct, and comfort us as well.

Have you ever really thought about what it means when we say that the Savior stands at the head of the Church and guides and directs what goes on here on earth? It literally means that He is in charge- not some human trying to guess the next step. There isn't one thing that is going to happen that He isn't aware of and that He can't stop if He chooses to. Most of these trials will be to create a people worthy of the Savior and to separate the "wheat" and the "tares". The Lord is going to let us choose where we end up when all is said and done. It's not a popularity contest or random judgement. He's a loving God and will let us go where we will feel and be most comfortable- and that in large measure is chosen in earth life. Do we want to humble ourselves pay the price now to live righteously and have an eternity of happiness, or pay the price later and live with an eternity of regret and sorrow?

President Kimball once said that there is no sorrow in death, only in sin. I think the idea behind that applies to these last days, too. There is no need to worry or fear if we are right with our Father in Heaven. If we're in good standing, it won't matter if the government collapses, nations fight against nation, or disease ravages the earth. We will be ok. We will be safe- at least (and most imprtantly) in the spiritual sense. The physical is temporary by design, anyway. That being said, it's somewhat easy to write all this when we aren't actually living through most of it and I hope that someday my faith is strong enough to carry me through everything that will come. For now, though, I'm just trying to work on the basics and be a little stronger today than I was yesterday. I can say, without a doubt, that Christ is standing at the head, He is directing the affairs of the Chruch and the world in the last days. If we choose to plant ourselves squarely on His side, then let the rest rage around us. We will be where there is safety.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Best Thing About Today

I was up at 4:15 this morning. That was not the best thing about today. Being at the temple first thing with my children was pretty good, though. I'd say it ties for first. Coming home and getting everyone else out the door by 7:30 was also nice. Not as good as a nap at 7:40, though, made even better by the numbers "10:12" on the clock when the phone woke me up. And thus we have the other half of the tie! I should get so much sleep all the time.

Second place was the Fall Festival at church tonight. How could one not have a great time with guys like these?

Yes, Greg's dressed as a tourist.
No, he does not dress like that all the time.
Spencer is his bodyguard.
(As if the outfit wouldn't keep harm at a very safe distance!)

What a day! Must be time for bed. Again. A body can only take so much excitement.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tomatoes


2 bags in the fridge this morning= 11 quarts in bottles this afternoon.

5 bags to go.

Good thing I love tomatoes.
I might feel like eating them again sometime after Christmas.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Right

I should be doing dishes, but I don't feel like it. I want to write something, but haven't figured how to put what I want to say into words. Rock and a hard place. Tough one.

For those that don't know, we've had a pretty amazing weekend. The kids had Fall Break beginning last Wednesday. It happened to coincide with the first available time at the Mesa Temple for my one-year-ago baptized brother-in-law to take my sister and their sweet family to the Mesa temple to be sealed for eternity. Greg, his dad (Tom), and I were able to spend part of an afternoon in the Mesa temple with three of our children doing baptisms and confirmations. Another brother was able to schedule his 8-year-old daughter's baptism for the same weekend. All of my siblings, most of their spouses, both of my parents, my father-in-law, and my grandmother were able to be together for a few days. I love my family, all of it, both sides, and I love every minute we get to spend together.

The kids picked up perfectly timed cases of gatroenteritis on the drive home. Even this turned out to have several silver linings. Since all 5 were all sick at the same time they kind of watched out for each other. Sunday morning found them all on the floor in the living room with blankets and bowls, keeping each other company. That sight continued while Greg, Tom, and I went to church that afternoon. We were met there by Greg's brother (Mike) and his wife (Terri) and later my Aunt Nancy. They were all in our ward to be present while Greg was sustained as our bishop that day. All 5 of our kids missed it. I tried calling home on the cell phone so they could at least listen on the speaker phone at home, but the mike on my cell phone wasn't strong enough. The sweetest part came when Tom and I got home after church, though. The kids had really wanted to be there and were bummed when they couldn't hear anything. Since they couldn't hear what was happening and when, they picked a random spot during their meeting and all raised their hands to sustain their dad on their own. I don't know why that meant so much to me. I guess I just felt like that was the end of any issues we'd have with dad being bishop and gone alot. I hope I'm right.

I slept more and better than I had in weeks that night. Probably had nothing at all to do with getting no sleep the night before with kids sick all night. I know it had lots to do with a feeling of peace and that everything was right. Travel was done, we'd had some great family time, and the stress of keeping hushed about the bishop news was over. Everyone keeps asking me how life is going now. All I can say is great so far. Regular life hasn't been affected at all (knock on wood at the end of day three!). The kids are all back on their feet and back to school. I'm coming to grips with the fact that my remaining time in YW is rapidly growing very short. Even the dishes and backlog on the rest of the housework haven't been able to disrupt this feeling that everything is just "right" with the world. I don't know how long this will last, but I'm loving it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oh, What Can You Do In 15 Minutes?

I've just been going over the errands I ran this morning in the 15 minutes I have until I need to head out to another and was amazed at what actually got done this morning- yes I guess I do occasionally have days like that. I had kind of imagined that these things would take all day, but really they all took about 15 minutes, maybe 30, each, not counting drive time. Wanna see what you can do in 15 minutes?

1) Normally, take a child to the orthodontist. Today they were dealing with a fussy bracket that didn't want to stay on, so it took a bit longer. No complaints from said child who was missing school, BTW and I found out the orthodontist went to Westwood High School in Mesa. Small world.

2) Pick up YW Medallions at the Distribution Center. (Definitely less than 15 minutes.)

3) Stop at the library for some books on CD. This one was probably closer to 30 minutes because I didn't know exactly what I wanted.

4) Stop at the music store for bass rosin and valve oil (for a trumpet). Again, definitely less than 15 minutes.

5) Have a screw removed from your tire, repair the hole, then rotate and inflate all tires to proper pressure. (I suppose I should say read the newspaper and Ensign while someone else does all those things to your tires!)

6) Drive past Taco Bell twice, while hungry, and not stop to by your favorite soft tacos and mexican pizza. (Less than 15 minutes, for sure, but had those moments where it definitely seemed longer!)

7) Heat up a quick, non-Taco Bell lunch. (It was good anyway.)

8) Catch up on blog reading.

9) Write my own blog post.

10) Make a bed. Definitely less than 15 minutes, and boy would I like to use the spare minutes to climb in said bed and nap. Oh well. I can avoid Taco Bell, I can avoid a nap.

How about you? What can you do in 15 minutes today? Bet it's a lot more than you think. Good Luck!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Final Harvest


A week ago our thermometer read 100 degrees in the afternoon. It's somewhat high because the outdoor sensor gets some reflected heat in the afternoon. The actual temp was probably in the low 90's. The next day we had rain and highs in the 50's. I don't think it's been out of the 60's since then. Steven said today that winter is kind of slowly sneaking up on us. I told him I thought it jumped out of nowhere and grabbed us by the throat!

The cooler day time highs make for lower lows. Most of what was left in the garden doesn't do well below freezing so last week we picked just about everything. The zucchini had pretty much produced its last already. The tomatoes had come up so late that the plants were loaded with tons of green tomatoes. I was promised that the green ones would ripen, so we picked the bigger ones and have had them sitting on the floor in the dining room where they are slowly turning red.

Tonight were are supposed to be down in the high 20's, so we decided to gather what remained. As I'd picked the last round of tomatoes in the dark I missed a few, so Steven and I picked another 1/2 bag or so tonight . We figured we ended up with 135 pounds, give or take, from 35 or so plants. Not bad for not giving the plants a whole growing season. The picture above shows most of them. There's a bag in the fridge that has already turned red and a bag of green that wouldn't fit on the table. Can't wait to try my hand at canning them if I can convince Erica to leave us a few. The two zucchini are the two we decided to leave and let grow as long as we could. The boys thought it would be cool to see if they would explode, but it was not to be. They've been growing a month or so. Next time we'll have to leave them out all season and see what happens. I have no idea how many zucchini we ended up with, but the freezer is full, the kids are tired of eating it , and the neighbors don't like to see me coming anymore! The 2-liter bottle is there just for size reference. We've not figured how to grow soda, though I'm sure the kids would love it. 5 pumpkins grew, but I accidentally sliced into the skin of one when I tried taking off the vine a couple of weeks ago, so it's already been cooked and eaten or frozen.

That's about it. There are onions still outside, but they're pretty small still. I've been told that they winter-over pretty well so I thought we'd leave them and see what happens. The strawberries are still producing on occasion, too, but I think that's about done as well. All in all, it's been a good experiment and the backard was put to much better use this summer than the weed factory we had last year!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Of Life and Parenting

I remember as a young girl planning to have the perfect family. I was going to be done making mistakes by the time I was grown up. (Go ahead and insert a big hearty laugh right here!) When Erica was a baby I decided I'd just live perfectly today and then get up and live perfectly again tomorrow. I wouldn't worry about the future because all those perfect todays would create a perfect past and set a habit for future ones. (Another laugh.) Because I would be living perfectly, of course my family would as well. (And another.) My children would always do what was right and have clean bedrooms without my asking. (And another.) Now, this isn't a confession of any major sins, but somewhere along the line I missed a day or two (or 10,000) of those perfect days. Despite my best intentions I keep making mistakes and so does the rest of my family. I'm not including a clean bedroom count for today on purpose because it would not be a very large number by any measure!

Having a child who has as many months left in high school as I have fingers and toes has led me along some interesting thought paths lately. I've been thinking for the last little while about helping children grow and be independent- and not just financially. My mom told me once that one of their goals as parents was to have their children be completely responsible for themselves by the time the reached the age of 16. That way they could have two years of making decisions and living with the consequences of those decisions while they lived at home and had a huge safety net around them. I've always thought that was a good idea. My oldest is almost 16 and I find myself wondering how we're doing. There are lots of questions. Can she wash clothes, buy and prepare food, handle a bad day, find a job, maintain grades, safely drive the car, make good choices, be responsible, choose to be happy? I'm realizing that no one is going to show up and hand me a "parenting diploma" when each child reaches the point of independence so I know we're done. We have to hope we've done enough when it's time for them to spread their wings and fly.

The darn thing is that each child is different. Erica is great in certain areas while each of the boys have their own strengths as well, but none of them is the same. Each one also has their own, individual, weaknesses- alot of them handed them by their parents! That means that where we step in to support one child will not be needed for another. I think "one-size-fits-all" parenting is easier! This different personality thing leads to too many questions. Where does one draw the line? When does helping out your family members and doing something nice cross the line to enabling? How do we make it "fair" for everyone? How do you know you've taught lessons well enough that your children will be able to live healthy, productive lives on their own? I don't pretend to even come close to having any, much less all the answers, but there are some things I'm slowly beginning to understand.

1) I wasn't perfect starting out on my own, so why should I expect my children to be? It's ok to make mistakes, hurt feelings, and bounce a check in the process of growing up as long as we learn from the experiences, change, and don't make them habits. Sometimes one returned check will do more to prevent any others than all the discussions and teaching by a parent. As a perfectionist, though, it's hard to allow mistakes to happen when there's something I can do to prevent it. Too bad my children's lives are theirs and not mine! Experience is one great teacher.

2) Heavenly Father loves me, warts and all. The least I can do is pass that along to my earthly children. I want them to understand and forgive me when I make mistakes, I can do the same. We love each other, no matter what.

3) The Atonement. Do we REALLY understand the amazing blessing it is? Do we REALLY understand what it means to have a mistake- large or small- removed, gone, cleaned up, paid for; that each of us can be clean and have a fresh start from wherever we happen to be? There is work involved, to be sure, but it's possible. The absolutely amazing part is that Heavenly Father wants it for us and has done everything He can to make it happen. He doesn't turn His back at mistake #1 say, "Forget it." and move on. He comes back everytime that we let Him. The other part of that is that He promises to make up any shortcomings we have as long as we're trying the best we know how. My best effort will be different than any of my children because we're different people, but the shortcoming will still be made up. Amazing.

4) There is nothing more valuable than knowing and doing for ourselves. I heard on the radio yesterday that studies show that paying children for grades or rewarding them with cash or treats for finishing schoolwork does absolutely nothing to help them scholastically. I think life is the same. If I choose to help out a neighbor because I will get a reward, I have very little chance of doing so a second time unless a reward is offered again. If, however, I help a neighbor because I love them and like the good feeling it brings, then my chances of repeating that behavior goes up dramatically. The same holds true for any choice we make. If we choose to do what's right because we want it and not because we're bribed or forced into it, we repeat it and become better people along the way. The key is it takes time and experience, neither of which is in huge abundance at the age of 18. Hopefully there has been enough before then to keep us trying afterward.

5) Keeping your eye on the end goal does wonders for motivation. Reaching that goal does wonders for confidence. Watching your kids do both feels fabulous. The only way it really happens, though, is to step back and encourage them from the sidelines. They have to decide for themselves what path to take and then move along it. I can advise, direct, and bounce ideas, but as they grow my job shifts to cheering, supporting, and encouraging.

So, two months to 16 and 20 months to "adulthood". Where are we? Pretty good in some ways, some work to do in others. Erica has done pretty well, despite the lack of experience on the part of her parents! How come I don't have all the right answers at this point that I seem to remember my parents having?! Guess we all keep trying our best and trusting our shortcomings will be made up in the end.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Never Mind (too good to be true)

Erica came home from school to tell me that Parent/Teacher conferences for the high school are this afternoon. She just found out herself. That's the second major thing they've neglected to send notice home about. I'll have to check the school calendar online better, I suppose. Guess the rest of the shopping will have to wait.

Ahhhh!

Did you know there is only one thing on my calendar to do this afternoon, and technically, since it's not until 6:00, it's not even in the afternoon? I also have another thing at 7:00 and a couple of regular things that have to be done but don't make the calendar (like "fix dinner"). I think I'll finish my grocery shopping in one day this week! Wow, I can almost kick back and put up my feet. Weird. Sure is nice after a Tuesday like yesterday.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Great Day

The kitchen floor was mopped today. That's the biggest miracle in you-don't-want-to-know-how-long, so it doesn't really fall in the "Everyday Miracle" category. However, I'll take any miracle that might occur, and it really looks nice. I'd take a picture, but the batteries died this morning at soccer- can't have everything! Even Spencer noticed the floor and was a bit perturbed when his sock was wet. He looked up at me and with shock in his voice said, " You MOPPED the floor?" Guess it's been too long. We are eating dinner at the ward picnic, so the floor might get to be clean for several hours in a row. It won't know what to do with itself.

Oh, BYU won again this afternoon, 54-3 over Tulane. Yea! Go Cougs!

Happy Saturday night!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

This Afternoon

I've found that, lately, I've only had the time and memory space for 1 sentence "updates" on Facebook. Even a paragraph on a blog has been beyond my reach. Not much has changed today, other than I have 11 minutes and I feel like trying to link three sentences into a paragraph. Done. 10:30 to go. Cool.

So, this afternoon I get to go to SEP's (I think that's short for Student, Educator, Parent- basically a Parent/Teacher conference) for Steven and Ryan. I'm running out of kids at the elementary school and only have to juggle 2 schedules this year. Strange.

Afterwards I get to stop at church for a blood drive. Last May I donated and asked them to submit a tube of blood for a platelet count so I can get back into donating platelets again. They took the tube and filled out the paper, but I finally spoke with the coordinator this week and she never got any of it. So, we'll try again today for the platelet count and she went ahead and set up an appointment since I've donated in other states before. It seems weird to me that the different regions of the Red Cross can't communicate with each other to just transfer the info, but they can't. The coordinator assures me they are working on it. That's what the coordinator in NH told me, too, and it's been two years. Sounds like a computer novice, like myself, is doing the working.

Tonight we have 2 soccer games- Steven and Spencer/Joseph. Can I just say that I am SO grateful that soccer is only 5 weeks. We're about half-way through and I'm exhausted- and I'm not even doing the playing. I'm not sure who plans for soccer and school to start the same week, but they must not have kids. The big plus for me is that once soccer is done, I'll actually feel like we get a little break, which is unusual for our family in October.

About a month ago I gave myself a massive paper cut under the nail of my pointer finger. 12 hours later it woke me up aching terible. I got up to find this large chunk of very red skin sitting on the side of my nail that was able to sense if someone was even thinking about walking within 10 feet of my finger. No idea what happened. There were two points to this little story. 1) The chunk of skin has almost, almost gone, but is still pretty tender if it is hit. It looks like somehow a section of nail bed was lifted on top of the nail in my sleep that first night. I don't recommend it. Extremely painful. 2) I just realized that the weird typing style (1st finger pointing up in the air and 3rd and 4th finger doing all the work) I've had to use since then has become semi-permanent. It's hard to even consciously use that 1st finger to type. Just one more thing to make me unique, I suppose. I'll work on reteaching it to type.

Ok. Time's up. Off to SEP's. Have a fabulous day!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Reaping What Was Sown

See these peaches? This morning they were still hanging on a tree, ripening in the sun. I've never picked peaches off the tree and then canned them. It's pretty cool. Thanks goes out to my neighbors that didn't want their fruit. There are more to do, but they're not quite ready yet. Maybe by Labor Day.

In other food news, fall must be somewhere near by as there are foods ready to harvest, eat, and store.

The season's first batch of peach pit syrup. It's made from peach pits some of my friends were canning last week. Hopefully there is a lot more to be had as I work on our peaches.

Here's some of the corn we ate for dinner. Lest I imply that all the corn cobs looked this good- the reason they got to be eaten for dinner was that they looked like real corn.

And here's most of the corn we froze. I didn't realize when I took this picture that I'd forgotten a batch that was still blanching on the stove. So, we ended up with 5 quart bags in all. It got to be cut up because these particular corn cobs were rather deformed looking and usually only partially filled with kernels. The earwigs got to quite a few of the strands of corn silk before everything could be fertilized. Darn bugs. At least I had the satisfaction of cutting down the corn stalks and creating lots of homeless bugs. Hope they move out of state.

One of our "watermelon" zucchini, but not the biggest we've had. I either forget to go out and check on it, or don't get the chance for a couple of days and then we end up with zucchini clubs.


Yep, that's all from one zucchini. It made 12 cups of puree that is now in the freezer waiting to be added to spaghetti sauce.

September is starting out crazy busy like August was, but there is something oddly satisfying about filling our shelves with jars of food. It's keeping me sane. Who'd have thought?!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Observations

I sometimes notice the strangest things. Like, have you ever noticed that the hours between 8:30 and 2:30 go by much more quickly from, oh, say mid August to the end of May? Then again, maybe it's just a phenomenon that occurs in our city or house. I always have this list of things to do and never quite seem to cross everything off. Weird.

Also, I think someone is coming in and stealing my hours from 3:00-5:30. I keep looking up at the clock and they are just gone. Another great mystery. If you happen to see my hours laying around would you call me or wrap them up and mail them back? I could really use them. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Couple of Give-Aways, if you're interested

My sister-in-law introduced me to the website $5 Dinners today. It's an interesting challenge to think about making dinner for 4 for less than $5 a day. They are running a couple of great give-aways this week in honor of their 1st "Blogiversary". This week you can still sign up to win a Sam's Club membership with $50 gas card and a $250 gift card to the grocery store of your choice. Just doing my part to get the word out (and enter to win!). Have a great day and good luck!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

You're Invited!! (Or at least you should have been.)

It's August. At our house that means lots of things are going on. This year the list looks something like this so far: the end of youth conference, Shan's birthday, a little Nelson reunion, Greg's birthday, Steven's birthday, friends visiting for BYU Education Week, the start of school, the start of soccer, the start of school again, the start of soccer for a second time, and our anniversary. I always hope that September brings a little bit of calm, but I'm giving up on that this year. So, bring on the rest of the birthdays and holidays and I'm looking forward to a fabulous nap in January. I've included a few pictures, if I have them, so you can feel a part of our month and all the celebrations, even if I forgot to send an invitation in time.

Shan in Maple Canyon on her birthday and at the end of Youth Conference (It's a "two-fer-one" shot. Facebook has the rest of the Youth Conference pics or email and I'll send you an invitation. The other birthday pics are of me blowing out candles with wet hair. They will not be posted here or on Facebook. Not even if you send me an email.)

Most of the Nelsons in town for our little reunion.
We're on the observation deck at the Church Office Building in Salt Lake trying to not be blown off. Majorly windy day. Others joined us later in the week, but I don't have any pictures.

Happy Birthday to all the Nelsons who have a birthday in August!
(Shan, Terri, Julia, Greg, Steven, Mike, and David)

Happy Birthday, Greg!
(He's holding the wooden knives that Steven carved for him.)

Happy Birthday, Steven!
He's holding the wooden knife Greg carved for him. It was a carving week. He also wanted this picture left just the way it was because, and I quote, "We look AWESOME with red eyes."

It was also an electric week capped with the complete dismantling of an old boom box when Steven got a new one for his birthday (which was still in the box at this point!). And I quote, "This is even better than video games!" So, I guess they really are happier without real presents. It may not be boxes like when they were 1, but old radios seem to make great presents. That should save on money spent at Christmas. (hint! hint!)

I forgot to take any pictures of our the two sweet ladies who stayed with us during Education Week, but they would go right here in our time line if they existed. I would like to make it to Ed. Week at some ppint. Unfortunately, it falls on the first week of school and I kind of feel like a mom ought to be around that first week. Maybe I'm crazy, but Ed. Week will still be there even when I don't have to think about the magical First Day of School.

That brings us to the first First Day of School:

Joseph- 7th grade

Steven- 5th grade

Ryan- 3rd grade (Yes, I TRIED to tell him those shorts didn't really match and couldn't he PLEASE make a better First Day impression and change into jean shorts, but he was quite adamant that black goes with blue and this is what he wanted to wear on his first day. Oh well. Moms worry about that kind of thing too much, I guess.)

The first First Day of school was also the first soccer game for Ryan this season.
(Don't you just LOVE his shorts? He does.)

A small diversion. Greg was working on a video project for the Library this week. This is the Science section at the library on the first First Day of School for us. Notice that it is empty. They have not started school, yet, and for some reason the people at Education Week don't stop down there much. I kept trying to get my friends to go down there for a nap because it's quite and there are soft couches to lay on, but I don't think even they stopped in. Oh well, their loss!

We had two first days of school because the middle school and high school use the first First Day of School as an orientation for the incoming 7th and 9th graders respectively. So, Joseph, Steven, and Ryan went on the first First Day. Erica and Spencer went on the second First Day.

Erica- 11th grade
(Yes, she catches the bus at "Sun-rise O'clock"- at least for now. Later in the fall and winter she catches it pre-dawn.)

Spencer- 8th grade

If we had a kindergartner we would have a third First Day, but that's not until next week and thankfully it won't impact our lives. Whew! Our little friend, Lizzie, is very anxiously counting down the days, though.

The second First Day also happened to fall on our 17th anniversary. It did not even dawn on me to take any pictures. Greg took the following:

because the second First Day and our anniversary also happened to be Steven's first soccer game day. It was also soccer practice for Spencer and Joseph as well as the open house at the middle school. Greg went with Steven while I took Spencer and Joseph. So, in order to have a little celebration, Greg took the day off and we went to the temple and out to lunch at the Sky Room Restaurant at BYU. (There are many, many Ed. Week people that visit the Sky Room. Maybe that's why they're not in the library.)

Well, that's it for now. Greg, Spencer, and Joseph had a scout camp out last night (no pictures, aren't you glad!) and we had a Stake picnic tonight.

As my friend, Lisa, named her- Erica Shortcake

Our friend, Dallas.
And everyone thinks we are boring people. Just look how wild and crazy we can be.

I thought it was nice of the Stake to fix dinner for me to celebrate our second-day-after-our-anniversary. Do you celebrate that day? We usually don't either.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Of Currents and Stiffness (and current stiffness!)

I woke up today non-stiff and ache free for the first time in almost 2 weeks. I didn't even realize it until I was almost completed with an activity guaranteed to not allow that to happen twice in a row, at least this week. We had a little mini- Nelson family reunion last week here. For some reason, all the sitting and trying to sleep in the car while driving all over the state for various activities was not pleasant for my body. (I'm sure it had nothing to do with doing things like sliding on a slip and slide at Youth Conference two days before!) Tonight I got to go tubing with the Mia Maids (14-15 year old girls), Beehives (12-13 year old girls) and Teachers (14-15 year-old boys). The girls classes are combined right now, we weren't excluding the Deacons (12-13 year old boys).

The aching comes because I had naively assumed the activity would be like my most recent tubing adventures- the lazy rivers at various water parks. I was 16 the last time I actually tubed on a REAL river and it's not as lazy as the others. There were a lot more motions- like paddling and kicking- and slippery rocks in the real river than the lazy rivers I've encountered. I'm not saying it wasn't fun, I'm just saying that I'm stiffening as I speak. When, exactly, is it that all the exercise and push-ups correspond into non-stiffness during other activities? Isn't that supposed to be a benefit of regular exercise?!

Being the pre-novice that I was (am) to real river tubing, I was excited and a bit nervous. I was also suddenly very much more aware of the strength of a river current and the very noticeable lack of marked exits. The water was also F-R-E-E-Z-I-N-G. I was told today it's about 52 degrees. All I know was it didn't take long for feet to be numb. I kept a little prayer running through my mind that went something like, "Please just keep me on this tube all the way to the end."

It wasn't to be. I did a pretty good job managing the "rough" (Hey, you don't get any water like this at Sunsplash, ok!) water. I was in a spot I thought was pretty mild when my tube suddenly flipped me into the water. It wasn't very deep- less than 18 inches- but the current was so fast and the rocks so slick that I couldn't get my feet under me. I was immensely grateful for the required life jacket I had on. I'm not sure I would have kept my head above water, otherwise. The whole experience was not long enough to be life threatening, but it was more than a little scary for those few seconds. I just held onto the tube and tried to get on it while scraping along the rocks for a bit.

My prayer changed. Now it was something like, "I can't stand up. This is hurting my shins. I don't want to do this anymore." Finally I remembered, "Help me." Then, I realized the rocks could do some pretty hefty damage if I stayed on them long enough. I still couldn't catch my footing and I just said, "Heavenly Father, I need to stand up now." And I did. And I eventually got back on the tube and made it to the end of the ride. And I really enjoyed it.

So, tomorrow I'll ache. And probably the day after and the day after before it fades away. But, I'll also know that when things were completely out of my hands and I had no where else to turn that the help I needed arrived when I needed it most. And hopefully that knowledge never fades away.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mohawk Walk

Trublu's question is what was the best team building activity. That's a tough question in a way. I think that, by nature, team building activities build on each other. So, it kind of makes sense that I think our best one was the last one. We'd had two days of doing things together and it all came together in the last one, called the Mohawk Walk.


The object of this one was to get everyone on your team completely along the rope without falling off. The rope itself was only about 6 inches off the ground, but was long enough to be a real challenge. You can almost see the whole thing in the picture. The beginning was along the left-hand side and the end was just past the boy in blue in the back of the picture. It took us awhile to figure out that you can't just scoot along on your own, or even just work in pairs. It took the entire team to get everyone across. We helped get team members out to each point to serve as anchors and then they helped everyone around. It took us a good 30 minutes for a team of 11.

As I said, though, this was the last in a line of several games we either spent time playing together or were specifically designed to increase our trust in each other. Our ward was even divided into two groups for most of the ropes course on the second day. And, while we did some of the same activities, we didn't do all of the same activities. I think the lessons learned and talked about carried over to the group as a whole, though.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Youth Conference

I'd thought about posting a detailed account of youth conference, but decided it was too much work. (Can you say L-A-Z-Y?!) Then, I was asked about some of the things we did, so here it is. Thanks to trublu for getting my brain in gear and my fingers moving.

Our youth conference was just for our ward, so I think things ran a bit differently than it would for a stake. Our speakers were all from our ward- the YM President (knowing who you are)., YM 1st Counselor (building positive self esteem), the Bishop (the Atonement and repentance), and myself (modesty). Myself and the YM President were the first evening. The 1st Counselor and Bishop were the second evening.

As for activities- the first day we had the Snow Follies (lots of water and team building games- crab soccer, duck, duck, goose with dripping sponges, concentration, tug-of-war, etc.) and a huge water fight. After dinner we had speakers from 6-7:30, played Ultimate Frisbee for an hour and then let the kids have free time on campus until 10:00. Usually for free time the kids went over to the Activity center and either swam or played __________ (basket ball, volley ball, raquet ball, wally ball, etc.) or gathered in one of the apartments and played Uno, Phase 10, or Risk.

The second day- we did the ropes course (some ropes in the trees, but mostly team and trust building activities) from 9-12. After lunch we cleaned fire trucks for an hour, and had free time until dinner. After dinner we had two more speakers, then went to the dance held for all the youth groups there from 8:00-11:00.

Saturday morning we drove part way home and stopped in Maple Canyon for our testimony meeting. We hiked for about 15 minutes and met in a little box canyon with a water fall. It sounded very cool when we sang "Oh How Lovely was the Morning" and everyone's voices echoed off the walls. Afterward, those who wanted to stay, went rock climbing for a couple of hours and then went home.

The kids were great about all the activities. Some were not so excited about the Ultimate Frisbee, but everyone participated pretty willingly in most everything. They were great about participating in the talks in the evenings and watching out for and having fun with each other. Other than being completely exhausted from very little sleep, I could have gone another day or two. I really couldn't have asked for a better weekend with them.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you'd like more/different details.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Never Say No

We always talk about the fact that Heavenly Father in in charge and gives us the things we need. Sometimes they are things we think are fun and sometimes things we dread. The big kicker is to really believe that whatever comes our way is for our growth and happiness- despite our initial thoughts or feelings.

It's been almost a year since I was called to be the YW President. Wow, has time flown. The last big "first" was this past weekend. Our ward held a youth conference at Snow College in Ephraim, UT. It was so much fun! We played water games, participated on a ropes course, played Ultimate Frisbee, cleaned fire trucks for the city, listened to some great talks, hiked in a cobblestone canyon, and had very little sleep. A perfect mix with some pretty amazing people.


I think back to a year ago and how nervous I was to work with a bunch of girls I didn't know. Some experiences have been painful, but most have been incredible. How grateful I am that I didn't rob myself of these great experiences memories by thinking I was smarter than my Father. He really does know what He's doing.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Taking a Break from a Normal Day

I was just thinking that I didn't have anything really to post about today when I heard fire trucks coming down the street. I opened the blinds to find a little diversion.








No word, yet, on how it started. The fire investigator thinks it's probably a cigarette tossed out a car window. That's the third fire this month within a block or two of our house. A little bit (or better yet, a LOT) of rain would not be a bad thing right about now. Let's hear it for such quick acting fire fighters!

Now, back to our boring, regularly scheduled day of cleaning which was already in progress.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I should probably write...

As the title of this blog is "Everyday Miracles", the idea was to record everyday, or at least close to it. Who knew July 8 was so long ago!

So, what's miraculous about today, or even any of the last 15?

1) The pumpkins have lived and we actually have a pumpkin growing. For some reason, there are currently LOTS of male flowers on the plants, so one is all we have, but it appears there may be a couple more female flowers opening soon.

2) Two days ago I got all the laundry washed, folded, and into the right bedroom. Yesterday was the same, only because I never put any laundry into the laundry room. As a result, the baskets in the laundry room were put away and empty for more than 24 hours.

3) We had a Young Women presidency meeting that only lasted 45 minutes.

4) I found out that even though school is going to be starting a day later than originally announced, all of the extra days off have been canceled- I assume for budgetary reasons. Now we only have days off around actual holidays. I'm happy, Erica is not.

5) Steven and Ryan have somehow kept themselves nicely entertained even though Spencer and Joseph are at scout camp.

6) The heat has reminded me that the person who invented air conditioning deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.

7) Sparkling blueberry frozen yogurt is really yummy. Another wonderful invention.

8) Saw a perfect clear double rainbow right outside the front door.

9) Made tofu spinach dip and people (most of whom were not related to me) actually liked it. Erica was the only real exception, though I'm not sure Greg ever had the chance to try it.

10) Watched Greg run the games for the little kids at the Library picnic and was reminded why he's such a great dad.

11) Joseph told me he likes baby carrots. (About fell down at that announcement.)

12) Ryan said he's beginning to like green beans. (Good thing I was already sitting down at the table. FYI- I don't know what the current "# of times to try before they like it" guide doctors are telling moms these days, but for us it was 8 years, 1 month, and about 2 weeks of having green beans a couple of times a week.)

13) USM didn't raise their tuition for Greg's MLIS program for the fall.

14) After a year of living here, Greg and I fixed the sprinkling system. Now, not only do all the heads spray like they should, not one of them needed to be replaced. They just had dirt, rocks, lint, and grass inside the filters or needed the spray levels adjusted.

15) I hiked up to the "Y" twice in 3 days and had fun doing so.

16) Saw the chewed piece of gum that some passerby thought would be funny to stick on the black car door handle in the hot sun before I put my thumb in it when opening the door after shopping and had a piece of paper handy to remove it.

So, what little miracles have happened for you today?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Repellent

Trublu asked about the homemade repellent. My sister, Meri, gave the recipe to me over the phone. I've made it twice- once with the recipe and once without because I can't find where I wrote it down. It's probably a good idea to have it written down somewhere, though, so I can find it so next time I want it. So, here it is off the top of my head. Mer, if I got it wrong, leave a comment and let everyone know!

Insect Repellent (for plants, unless "salsa" is your fragrance of choice and you like a little tingle in your day!)

1 small onion
1 jalapeno pepper
2 cloves of garlic (I think, last time I made it I put in 4)
1 tsp. Murphy's Oil Soap
1 tsp. vegetable oil

Pulse the onion, jalapeno, and garlic in the blender. You don't want to liquify it, just make it into a pulp. Pour the pulp into a quart jar and fill with hot water. Let steep at least 2 hours. Mix the liquid from the pulp and water in a 3:1 ratio (water:pulp liquid). (I bought a spray bottle at Wal-Mart that has the amounts marked on the side.) Add the oil soap and oil. Shake and mist your plants several times a week.

Lessons from my massive one week of experience:

1) The first time I made it, I kept the pulp, adding fresh water every day, for a week. The potency lessened over the week, so I up-ed the concentration to 2:1 towards the end.

2) I did not keep it in the fridge, no real good reason why.

3) I spray every morning, except Sunday.

4) One spray bottle will do my entire garden- heavy misting on the zucchini and pumpkins, medium on the tomatoes, light on the corn, whatever's left on the strawberries and raspberry plant.

5) I do the tops and bottoms of each leaf of the zucchini and pumpkin, just the tops pf everything else.

5) At a 3:1 ratio, I can get at least 2, and pretty close to 3 spray bottles of mixture. At a 2:1 I get 2.

6) Doesn't seem to bother snails (drat!) outright but insects will take off if you mist them. Though, maybe they just don't like getting wet.

7) It's a great child repellent, at least at our house. The kids do NOT like the smell and complain and move away whenever I open the jar. (If that helps you have a quiet moment on any given boring summer afternoon!)

As I said before, I don't know if it really works or not, but I don't see the miniscule red bugs on the zucchini and pumpkin plants any more and they are growing new leaves that are pretty much chew-free. The corn hasn't had a bug problem at all and neither have the tomatoes that I know of, but I spray everything at least a little when I'm outside. Hope this helps!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

So Far, So Good!

We've finally had some really hot, sunny weather and the garden loves it. (Just to be rude and rub it in for my loved ones to the south, we finally have had the A/C on this last week!) A couple of months really makes a difference. The plants are up and mostly doing fine. The watermelon and lettuce never did make it past the planting stage. The cantaloupe came up, but that's as far as they went. The peppers have been pretty slow going, but it looks like they'll at least have leaves by the end of the summer. We'll see about actual pepper production. We had a few berries from the strawberry plants and now they're beginning to send out runners. Yea! Let's hear it for the ground cover! The tallest corn plants are almost up to my waist, which, once again, is a corn record for us. We've got a fabulous crop of weeds going on amongst the tomatoes, which will need support soon, and the snails have had a grand time with the pumpkins and zucchini. Sunday we had our first zucchini blossom and today there were 7. Hopefully we get zucchini soon. The pumpkins are beginning to produce vines, but no blossoms as yet. To be honest, right now I'm thrilled they seem to be overcoming the snails.

A neighbor originally told me the zucchini and pumpkins were being eaten by squash bugs which, according to her, are immune to all insecticides. All you can do is throw away the leaves that you find them on. That pretty much wiped out one plant. Thankfully my sister suggested a little homemade insect repellent. We've used it for a week or so now and it seems to help, but I'm not sure. As I said, we have a bumper crop of snails right now and I KNOW they were eating the plants. (Spencer picked a bucketful for me one day and threw them across the street. They are SO gross!) So, I don't know which pests were doing the most damage. If it wasn't insects, the plants at least seem to really like the spray. They're nice and green at the moment. The snail bait we put out last week seems to be cutting down on those pests and hopefully a little round-up will help me get back in control of the weed population. I've also found several black widow spiders, but we're out of spray and I don't really feel like going after them with my hands. They don't seem to be too interested in the plants, but I'm not sure they'd feel the same way about my fingers. One more thing to add to the list for tomorrow.

So, for my enjoyment and remembrance, here are a few pictures from this morning.








Thursday, July 2, 2009

Forgetting

Happy July! I had some time to myself at Sam's Club today and was thinking about aging and forgetting. Sometimes forgetting is good- like when you forget long enough about "that one time your son broke the faucet handle in the back yard three days before you were supposed to close on the sale of said house and spewed so much water you were sure the basement would flood and there goes the sale of your house" that now it's funny to remember. Sometimes forgetting is not so good- like when it involves leaving your lesson for YW home on the counter and you don't remember about it until you stand up to give the lesson- but I'm over that one now, too.

I haven't stopped forgetting, though. I do it frequently. And, from what I hear, I'll get to do more of it in my future. (Maybe I won't remember that I forgot. That would be nice!) For right now, I'm just staying in practice. Today is a great example.

A couple of weeks ago we invited two guys from a program called "Slow the Flow" to come to our house. As part of their water conservation eforts, they'll check out your sprinkling system to see how well it's functioning and give you steps you can take to more efficiently water your lawn. I was told that I needed to be watering my lawn 30 minutes a day every 4 days in June. That 30 minutes needed to be broken down into 3- 10 minute segments every hour or so to allow the water to soak deep into the grass. That encourages deep root growth and the roots of our grass were too shallow. (Probably because I was only watering 10 minutes 3 days a week. It's enough to make anyone shallow!) We also have a few sprinkler heads that need to be cleaned or replaced, but we haven't had time to do that just yet.

Back to today, I was outside checking on the garden when I noticed that one section of our side yard was drying out nicely. It gets full hot sun most of the day and since the sprinkler head there happens to be broken, it was getting 0 mintes of water every day. In an effort to save the grass, I turned on the hose with a little sprinkler head for 15 minutes on one half of the dry section and then moved it to the other half. Then I had to run inside for a minute.

I shut the door and that part of my brain turned off. I switched laundry, I read my scriptures, I grabbed my shopping list, I went to the post office, I got gas, and I went shopping (the really big- "Wow, you have no food in your house!"- kind of shopping) at Sam's, unloaded the car, talked with my Aunt Nancy and brother, Keith, and was working on putting the groceries away when I decided I was hot. It's a cooler, overcast day today, so all the windows were still open and the A/C was off. It's still only 80-ish, but humid as thuderstorms are supposed to be developing this afternoon. I turned on the A/C to dry out the air inside a little and began closing my windows. That's when I saw the sprinkler still sprinkling merrily away- 3 hours later! So much for slowing our flow!

Our side yard happens to be on a nice hill. So, one good thing about this whole esperience is that not only was the second half of the dry spot now very well watered, the over spray and drainage had also nicely watered the first half. Wish I could somehow average out all those 30 minute segments for the next couple of weeks.

Turns out that forgetting the sprinkler was also good for one other thing. As I was headed back in the house I noticed the box of frozen Eggo waffles still sitting on the ground behind the van. Where I had asked the kids to leave it as they were helping me unload. So I could put them in the freezer outside and not inside. I forgot. They were mostly still frozen as it had only been 15 minutes instead of 3 hours.

There are some definite reasons I am a list and routine kind of person. I need to go find both because I forgot where I put them.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Having a Day

53 Day until school starts.

I'm not counting.

Just stating a fact.

Have a nice day.