Nov 30, 2011

A Little Giggle

Who you calling OLD?

About a year ago, when Sport was in 2nd grade, his class had a tradition called Dads and Doughnuts. The idea was that my sweetie would take the kids to school and then just stay there with Sport for about 45 minutes and read books and eat doughnuts. Since we have had other 2nd graders, this was not a new phenomenon. As the two of them walked hand-in-hand, Sport glanced around at the other kids and their dads. Then he looked up at his own dad and whispered, “What if they think you are my grandpa and not my dad?” My sweetie was devastated, of course. Over the past year I have heard this story at least a dozen times and although outwardly I’ve sympathized and said all the right things, inside I was giggling…a little…sorry, Sweetie.

You all know Scout had an amazing 6th birthday party last week! We had nearly her entire kindergarten class in attendance. One of the other note-worthy things that happened last week is that Teach and Drama Queen both finished their student teaching! Yay! (And Teach got a job today as a substitute teacher in our school district. Yay again!) Now both girls are home during the day so I can finally sneak an hour or so away from the little ones so I can help in Scout’s class. She has been hounding me to be the Mom-Helper for a couple of months now.

Today was finally the big day except that I didn’t tell her because I was worried that something might go wrong at the last minute and I would have to cancel. But it didn’t. I got to the school about 10 minutes early and checked in with the office. Then I went down to her classroom. I knew the kids were at recess because I saw them on the playground as I was crossing the parking lot. I wandered around the room for about 5 minutes, admiring their artwork and looking for Scout’s name on anything and everything. I was glad that it had finally worked out and I could spend this time with her. Besides, it would be fun to see all of her little friends again.

About that time, the kids came scrambling through the door, pulling off coats and other outdoor paraphernalia. Scout was one of the first ones. She ran to me and gave me a big hug. “Were you surprised?” I asked, hugging her back. “No,” she said. “I saw you in the parking lot.” Then one of her friends said, “I know you, you’re (Scout’s) mom!” Kids were smiling at me like they were all my best friends. Then one said, “Are you the Mom-Helper today?” I glanced over at Scout and her sweet face beamed with pride. “Yup!” I confirmed. Then one of the little boys frowned. “Oh,” he said. “I thought you were her grandma!” I'm not giggling any more...

Nov 29, 2011

The Big Van

You know back in October when the Dog Walker was interviewed by the Deseret News, they only asked if they could take two additional pictures. The first one they wanted was a picture of his sign advertising that he is a Dog Walker and the second was not a surprise…a picture of the back of our van.

I’ve actually seen random people stop their cars, pull over and visibly count the vinyl figures on the back of our 12-passenger van. It’s the same size as a 15-passenger except that we don’t have the extra seat in the back so we have some cargo space for trips and stuff. Unless we are toting the grandsons, we usually have enough seats.

We bought our first big van in 1996 when I was pregnant with Princess. We had finally outgrown the mini-van and I had promised my sweetie a Suburban. But after lengthy discussions, we decided that a Suburban would only give us 9 seats and with Princess we would be a family of 8. It just didn’t fit our long-term goals. So we started looking for the REAL van. We drove several older models, but most of them had been commuter vehicles and they were high in mileage and extremely dirty.
Not our van

Again we turned to prayer and the Lord did provide. Within a week my sweetie found a 12-passenger van, so we traded in our Caravan and I had to learn to drive the huge beast. Thank goodness I had some experience with my dad’s truck! (I still try to never get in a position that I have to back it up…)

We bought that first van used and then we drove it for 12 more years before our mechanic suggested that maybe it was time to look for a new one. This time it was much harder to find what we wanted. It took us nearly 6 months and a trip up north but eventually we were able to replace our old van for a reasonable price.

Then my sweetie started talking about putting the vinyl pictures on the back. I have an amazing friend who does vinyl so I gave her a call. She found these cute pics and made me 13 little figures (not counting the little ones by Bossy). I gave them to my sweetie for Christmas and he was so excited! He installed them himself and when he came back inside, I asked him how they looked. “I don’t know,” he admitted. “I thought we’d be able to see them better. I guess the tinting on the windows makes a difference…”

Totally confused, I followed him outside. He was not happy when I started laughing. “What’s wrong?” he demanded. I sobered up and squeezed his arm. “You’re supposed to put them on the OUTSIDE,” I explained. It took us a while to peel them off and my friend had the same response as me when I called to ask her to pretty please make me another set.

Then I got pregnant with Baby Doll. The pictures already covered both back windows and I wasn’t sure what we were going to do. I presented this dilemma to my friend and she assured me we could figure something out. Baby Doll had a rocky start coming a whole month early, so the vinyl pics on the window were not my biggest worry.

Christmas rolled around again and my sweet friend made me a new set. Stressed about them not fitting, she and her hubby had come by in the middle of the night to measure the window. They were totally surprised by Teach and her friend who were sitting quietly in a car on the driveway. But Teach kept the secret and I had no idea.

After Bossy and Gamer had WAY too much fun destroying the old ones with razor blades, we installed the new ones. OK, I installed the new ones on the OUTSIDE this time. I wasn’t taking any chances asking my sweetie to help. And as you can see, they fit just fine. She squeezed them in, just like we do!

Nov 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Means Family

Part of our Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving because it’s all about family for me. Remember I told you we do a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving dinner first? Prima Donna was our Peppermint Patty in her balloon turkey hat that the Drama Queen made for her. She did a lousy job with the scene so we had to send her back upstairs so she could have a do-over. The second time was much more convincing…

My sweetie made some AMAZING rolls and I’m saving the recipe for you for Friday’s Food for Thought. I really enjoyed watching him teach the Gym Rat how to make them. The Gym Rat is still trying to catch a wife and he figures becoming a good cook might help. I spent about six hours making pies on Wednesday night after Scout’s birthday party. But they were worth it! So yummy!

We had a little trauma. Scout got sick and slept through Thanksgiving dinner. It appeared that she had an infection. I tried to take her to the Instacare, but they were closed for the holiday. She was terribly afraid of the emergency room so I just gave her some antibiotics I had left over from last time (I know…wrong answer) and got her into the doctor when the holiday was over. She is feeling much better now.

I love the togetherness of the day. The kids played games and just hung out. Dog Walker couldn’t go to the gym so he bench-pressed Baby Doll.

I guess they were all full and content, because there were lots of moments like these.

And my sweet little Curly who is always full of gratitude said, “I’m grateful for my family.” AMEN!

Nov 27, 2011

Not Again!

Who knew she would be so destructive when she grew up!
Remember last week how excited I was about my new countertops? I’m still excited about my countertops, but I’ve got another story to tell you about Princess.

Last night I was shuffling paperwork and I didn’t want to leave it in the middle so I asked Princess to figure out something for dinner. My sweetie was working late, so that made it much easier. She decided that Ramen soup and cheese sandwiches would be yummy and she got right to work on it. I stayed in the office, tallying up the Tupperware fundraiser we just completed at the dance studio.(Hey, check out my new website! The Drama Queen just got it all set up for me...pretty cool, huh?!)

When food was on the table, we all gathered round so we could eat. Ramen isn’t my favorite, so I headed for the pan of rolls that were left from Thanksgiving dinner. When I passed the new cooktop, I glanced down and noticed this.

Apparently after stirring the soup, Princess had set the plastic spoon right in the center of the hot ceramic unit. When I picked it up, part of the spoon stuck to my new cooktop and the other sort of melted with long strings of white plastic as I held it up for all to see. I tossed the spoon in the trash and headed for the rolls, telling myself it was too hot to deal with and I would take care of it later.  Then I forgot about it.

When my sweetie got home several hours later, the plastic had hardened on the cooktop and was nearly impossible to get off. After about half an hour of scrubbing, it looks mostly better. I’m going to have to have a chat with Princess…she needs to ruin something different next time if we have any hope of remodeling. Hmmm…my bathrooms need painting…

Nov 26, 2011

Guest Blogger: Black Friday by Sweetie

WalMart's Checkout line

I detest standing in lines…it drives me nuts… makes me kranky…etc…  My dear wife loves a bargain. In the past that has caused some conflict on Black Friday. Luckily, my wife hates early mornings about as much as I hate standing in line, and she doesn’t like confrontations, bad manners or ugly behavior. So after she witnessed one of those ugly incidents of people fighting over an item, she has decided it’s not worth getting up early to see people be rude. So I was a bit surprised on Wednesday when she casually mentioned that she might want to go to Kohl’s Black Friday sale. I just smiled and said, “Whatever you want, Beautiful.” She’s been staying up quite late, and she would never want to get up, so why not pretend to be supportive? That’s when she hit me with “it starts at midnight so we don’t have to get up at 5…” Oh crap, shopping at midnight…she would love that! I guess I was going Black Friday shopping.

As I was looking through the ads, I spied something. I can’t tell you what because, well because ‘tis the season for secrets. Anyway it looked like a screaming deal on something I had been wishing I could find for the past few years. It was on a two-day sale, not a six-hour sale, but it was at WalMart. Having been to WalMart once on Black Friday, I knew better.   Armed with a name and description I headed to the web to find the prize on line. A quick search revealed they weren’t easy to find. There were some on Ebay for roughly 4 times what they were at WalMart. Oh the shining glimmer of hope; they were listed on… a quick stroke of the mouse (isn’t it funny how mice and Christmas associations have changed?) and most of my hope was gone. They were currently not available at and according to the web they were not stocked in Utah Walmart stores .  WalMart was opening at 10 PM and Kohl’s at midnight. We could quickly run up to WalMart, see if they had the one item, then drive out to Kohl’s. Three hours and I could probably be in bed shortly after 1:00 AM. It was a good plan.

As I approached WalMart, I turned to my wife and said, “I didn’t know the Sam’s Club was open.” She smiled and said, “They’re not.” So the entire WalMart and Sam’s Club parking lots were full. Frustrated people were poring out of the parking lots after vainly searching for a spot.   I should have run…given up…gone home and crawled into bed where I belonged… but just then my wife noticed there were people leaving the store with purchased items. We could follow them for a parking space and a cart! I quickly followed a basket into the Sam’s Club portion of the parking lot, but three other cars were also converging with the same idea. Then I thought I saw a space…nope just the cart return. But maybe...we were driving a little Suzuki Grand Vitara.  It was small and Sam’s Club cart returns are huge…I think I could fit. Sure enough…I had a spot!

On the way in we found a cart.  It was all going to work out ok. Two strangers warned us to turn back, but we kept on walking. Finally we worked our way around and to toys, but no sign of the prize. Desperately, I swallowed my pride and prepared to lose a man card or two and ask for help, but what I wanted were all gone. We should have just walked away then. But wait, my wife had borrowed my daughter’s sewing machine and they were a really good price. We figured the Garden Center would be faster, so we headed for that line. The line took almost two hours. I would leave about every 15 minutes to scavenge for abandoned merchandise and we did end up with a few more items.

As we pulled out of the cart return, I was glad I let my wife drive. I was too tired to think. Then I realized she wasn’t gong  home but to Kohl’s! It’s hard to believe, but Kohl’s was worse than WalMart.  The lines literally covered every major walkway in the store. We decided to stash our finds behind clothes on the clearance racks and come back later…  I thought that meant about 9:00 AM… but evidently the plan was to go back about 2:30 AM.

As we re-arrived at Kohl’s, the lines were now only covering half of the walkways…we had been lucky enough to find a cart… we retrieved our hidden merchandise and picked up a few more. With the lines still halfway down the hall, I succumbed to blackmail. You could get in a shorter line at customer service if you applied for a Kohl’s card… I would do anything to get out of there ASAP.  We had a few issues and by the time we strolled out of the store, there was no line…and it was 4 AM… the regular line for early morning vs. late night Black Friday were forming…thankfully, we were headed to bed.

Oh, one other thing. When we were home waiting for Kohl’s to clear out, I checked and was able to get my item at the sale price. I was only slightly annoyed with the hours we had wasted shopping, but then I remembered the thrill of the chase…Besides, I couldn’t park in a cart return on a normal day.

Nov 25, 2011

Food for Thought Guest Blogger: Bossy's 14-Layer Jello

Much like she hinted last Friday about me doing a guest blog about Taco, Mom has been telling me since mid-March she wanted to do a food for thought with 14-Layer Jell-o.  I had intentions of doing it for St. Patrick’s Day, I even bought the yogurt, but I just couldn’t find the time to do it. 

Jell-o and toast are two things I just can’t cook well.  I can cook a mean stir fry and Gamer loves my Cajun Chicken.  But I have never been able to fully "set" a Jell-o, so five years or so ago Mom asked me to make the 14-Layer Jell-o for Thanksgiving.  We all thought it would be a disaster!  I am pretty sure my Dad was laughing and Mom thought it was a great way to kill a very time and fridge space consuming Thanksgiving tradition. (The tradition came from Mom’s big sister.)

As it turns out, with this Jell-o the individual layers only have to set 1/8 inch at a time: perfect for those of us who always make Jell-o Soup.  It takes an entire shelf to make the 2 9x13 pans we need to feed our crew, so my fridge is relegated for Jell-o.

*Disclaimer* I only make this once a year, so the first couple of layers are usually rocky.  This time I tried to discover what caused the mistakes and I think I have it perfected.  That being said there was no way I was going to make a third pan just for perfect pictures.  I discovered the side of my fridge the clear pan was on wasn’t getting cold in the middle of the shelf so I had to balance it on the blue pan and in the groove of the shelf to the back wall.  Be prepared for the unexpected. And try to ignore the ugliness in the clear pan.

14-Layer Jell-o 

Seven to Eight flavors of Jell-o in different colors 2 boxes each.
(For 2 9x13 pans use large boxes of Jell-o or 1 9x13 use small boxes.  If you choose to use large boxes for one pan be prepared to split each box in half as you mix. )

2 quarts of vanilla yogurt.

First line up your Jell-o in the order you wish to prepare it.  Layers look better if they are ordered dark to light.  When I make it, it usually goes like this:
All the Jello I used

1-     Black cherry or Grape
2-     Raspberry or Cherry
3-     Strawberry Banana (my favorite smelling Jell-o)
4-     Orange
5-     Peach or Orange-Pineapple (If I can’t find these I skip this and add Strawberry Kiwi as the final layer.)
6-     Lemon
7-     Lime

Have a spare flavor just in case.  I always have a box of blue just in case. (We use sugar free Jell-o because I am diabetic.  Berry Blue does not come in sugar-free so I save this as an emergency flavor and for the top so it can be easily removed.)

*If you chose to use full sugared Jell-o you need a measuring cup that is at least 3 cups.*

Each flavor has two parts, a “normal” layer and a yogurt layer.  Always start with the “normal” layer.

For one 9x13 (with small boxes) use 1 cup boiling ¼ cup cold and ¼ c yogurt.
For two 9x13 (with large boxes) use 2 cup boiling ½ c cold and ½ c yogurt.

All whisked up!
Heat 2 cups of water to boiling.  We use a tea kettle and a Pyrex measuring cup.  In fact, this jello is the only reason I own my tea kettle.  This way I can keep heating the water without measuring first.

Whisk one large box of Jell-o into the 2 cups boiling water. (If you are making one pan with a large box, at this point you want to split your Jell-o into 2 parts.  Then add the cold water to one and add the yogurt to the other.)

Adding Yogurt
Add ½ c cold water and whisk well.  Allow to sit on the counter for 5 minutes.  (This is very important, and I discovered it to be my biggest problem in wrecking layers.  If you pour the boiling Jell-o onto the softest layer below it will break through and mix the layers.  Allowing the layer to cool on the counter also helps reduce the time it takes layers to set.  Because of this I usually start my next layer about halfway into the set time.)

This should make roughly 2 ½ cups of Jell-o.  Pour ½ of the Jell-o into your first pan.  Pour directly into the fridge pouring carefully and slowly.  This will become important on other layers.  Try to pour it only on the sloped side of the pan and not directly onto the layer below as that creates holes in the Jell-o. (My aunt likes to pour it onto a spoon. That works too.) Pour the remaining Jell-o into the second pan.

Allow layer to set.  The first layer will be the longest.  The pans are probably not chilled to the fridge yet and you can pour this layer boiling.  Plan on 30 minutes for this layer and 20 minutes for each subsequent layer.  (20 x 13 + 30 = 290 or nearly 5 hours so plan accordingly.  My husband and I stay up late and play a game together.)

Up to Layer 8!

Repeat until your pan it full.  Set to firm.  Since Thanksgiving always means a full fridge at my mother's house, we turn the fridge on full blast and try to get the jello mostly frozen.  Then it can sit in the car until we are ready to serve.  Cut into squares and serve on plates.  Some of us peel off individual layers to eat and some of us eat it by the spoonful.  Enjoy!

Drama Queen says : Mom left me in charge of getting this up while she and Dad went shopping, so I apologize in advance if the formatting is off.  I'll see if I can convince Teach to adding some pictures of the finished jello and us all eating it up!  Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Nov 24, 2011

A Bunch of Turkeys

Gym Rat

Another turkey...who is missing?

Dog Walker

Princess! Turkeys don't have lips!

Prima Donna
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and not just because I love to eat. Although I have to say that I can make an AMAZING pecan pie. About ten years ago, I decided I wanted to learn to make a pie. I don’t ever remember my mom making pies, and on rare occasion Grandma might throw one together, but homemade pies were not part of our tradition. I did a little research and a lot of experimenting, and I finally stumbled upon a recipe that we all really like from America’s Test Kitchens. Now I make pies every year (well, except the year that Scout was born). I just finished up the pies for this feast…six pumpkin, three pecan, and one cherry.

My family is all about traditions. We started a rather silly one about 5 years ago. I’ve told you before that we love the Reflections contest sponsored by the PTA. So one year when Teach was still in high school, she decided she wanted to create a Theater entry around a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. The Dog Walker has a tendency to memorize movies and the part of Peppermint Patty denouncing Charlie Brown in one of his favorite speeches.

So the entire family was in on the joke except the Dog Walker. We sent him upstairs to the shower and then we put out “dinner” consisting of popcorn, toast, chocolate pudding, pretzels, and jellybeans. You can imagine his reaction when he returned. With the camera running, the Dog Walker didn’t disappoint us although we were surprised to find out that he really was disappointed about dinner and until we assured him that the real dinner would be served shortly, he was pretty upset.

This has become a fun tradition for us! Now we choose someone each year to play the part of Peppermint Patty. This meal happens at noon and that keeps everyone satisfied until the actual dinner is served. We have added lunch meat just to make it a little filling, but the kids love the chocolate pudding in long-stemmed glasses and gorging themselves with jellybeans. These fun turkey pics were taken a couple of years ago. Bossy and Teach usually provide the kids with some fun activities while they are waiting for the food. See all these things I have to be grateful for? Even if they are a bunch of turkeys…

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Me holding my little Curly (before he was curly)

Bean Dip



Drama Queen

Nov 23, 2011

The Fabulous Scout...Happy Birthday!

Anyone want an apple?

Here you go!
I have a theory on kids…if you have enough, you start over. Scout is turning 6 today and you would not believe how much she is like Bossy! (Just for the record, Curly is like the Gym Rat, and so far Baby Doll acts a lot like the Drama Queen.) Maybe it’s only because I’m looking for a pattern, but I wonder if we actually had 18 kids if we would have two of each.

Anyway…I shared Scout’s Birth Story with you a few days ago and I told you about her animal birthday party with her friends yesterday. (I’m adding more pics so you can see how much fun we had.)

But now I want to tell you a little more about her. You already know she is quiet and shy in social situations (like on Sunday she refused to say the opening prayer or at Nursery Rhyme Day when she was the only kindergartner who stood up there and refused to speak).  But she was definitely NOT shy with her friends at the party.

When she was little, she had beautiful auburn hair, but it mostly fell out and now she is blonde with strawberry highlights. I don’t know why Teach always wants them to pull faces when they have their pictures taken, but Scout loves to be silly.

She loves swimming, camping, soccer and school. She is about to start her first season of Jr Jazz, so I will let you know if she loves basketball. She is always up for a new playground and she has never been afraid of heights. Maybe that’s because she loves to do tricks with her big brother (Gym Rat) and he makes her walk on the ceiling or do a flip in the air.

She loves to dance and sing. She is in her second year of Girl Scouts and she isn’t afraid to ring a doorbell to sell cookies if she has an older sister with her.

She always wants to be in charge and she is good at bossing around Curly and Baby Doll…and Taco and Burrito and even Princess when she can get away with it. She loves Taylor Swift and I swear she knows every word to every song!

She can do amazing things with crayons and she has won several coloring contests including the Visual Arts category of Reflections at her school. (She also won in 4 other categories, dance, theater, film production, and photography. She won an Honorable Mention in Music Composition for composing a song on the computer even though she doesn’t play any instruments.)

Scout is an awesome member of our family! She can be my biggest helper and I love having her home. As long as I don’t expect her to get out of bed before 11:00, we are good. She is a night owl and she prowls the house in the wee hours. She has never been bothered by the dark or by being alone.

I hope you love all these cute pics! It is so hard to choose. She likes having her picture taken and Teach is happy to oblige. Hope you have the happiest of birthdays, Scout. Love you tons! Mom

Old McDonald Had a Farm
Just stay this little...