Sunday, January 18, 2009

Starting off the New Year with the Family!

Danny's Uncle Jack & Aunt Carolyn Allen arranged a super fun family party on January 2nd to ring in 2009. We all got together at the Church Institute at Golden West College in Huntington Beach. We had such a great time with super yummy food and great entertainment!

There was fuseball

a pool table

and air hockey.

Jack & Carolyn also hired the balloon diva to come and thrill us with her terrific creations. She was seriously the best balloonist I've ever seen. she even made Danny a Star Trek Enterprise (failed to get a pic), so cool! If you need a balloonist call me! The kids LOVED it!

Santa even made an encore appearance!

But the best part was the company. We don't get together often enough!

Kierstin & Ann Marie (dad's get the shotguns ready!)

Danny's cousin Michelle and her husband Chuck are a great example to us. They have 4 amazing sons who have grown into wonderful men (2 have already gone on missions and are now married) and 2 wonderful young men!

Unfortunately, I wasn't as good with getting all the pics I wanted to. (my N.Y. resolution is to take more pics) but I did get this pic of those chatting in the pic.
We don't get to see you often enough. We wish you all a very wonderful 2009. thanks Jack & Carolyn for arrangeing the whole thing. We had so much fun!

Christmas 2008

We had a very lovely Christmas this year. Most importantly, we have a nice home, food on the table and the spirit of the Lord. We have health and strength and safety and most importantly the gospel in our lives.

My family is growing so quickly before my eyes. I'm sobered by the fact that as of now, Kierstin only has 3 more Christmases home with us before she will be "visiting" for Christmas! Yikes! I'm trying to treasure all these precious moments and memories with my kids. They are so wonderful. They strive so hard to do what's right and are really making good life choices. They are truly thinking for themselves and developing their own testimonies of the gospel. There truly is no greater gift than that and I pray for it to be the same every year.

I have to note that we were so very blessed to be fortunate enough to enjoy some luxuries in our lives (I often have to remind my kids they are luxuries and not necessities). But I think it's interesting to document what they "got" since they often ask what I got or asked for when I was young.

Tyson received a basketball hoop just his size with several balls to go with it. We all have enjoyed making 2 points all day long.

Brian scored a scateboard from Santa (the sword is from Bryce)

Bryce got a remote control helicopter that really flies!

I know, this picture looks awful, but it's just an airsoft rifle that dad helped Santa choose. (mom got the expensive Volcom hat he's been wanting.

Kierstin got her very own digital camera. We'll see what she captures with it.

Danny and I bought ourselves a new video camera at Thanksgiving time for a gift to ourselves. Ours broke several years ago and we've realized we've missed out on a lot of precious time. In the meantime, I'm taking videos and fogetting to take still pics so I didn't get a pic of Mary and Ann who stayed with us christmas Eve and was here for Christmas morning. We are so glad they shared it with us. Uncle Daren, Aunt Nikole, Kelsey, Hayden & Hailey and my Aunt Jayna, her son Brian came to share Christmas dinner. Grandma Mary Kay was going to come too but had a sore back.

It was a lovely day. I love the holiday seasons! It's a good time to truly reflect upon the blessing of all the gifts that Heavenly Father has deemed fit to bestow upon my family. Danny and I do indeed, feel very wealthy!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Can A Mother Make A Difference

I must admit, this blog is more of a call to arms and gather support amongst friends. I found myself, as a mother, yet again frustrated in my attempts to raise my moral children in an immoral world....

Last night, Kierstin and I were able to have a mother-daughter date. I was excited cuz she actually asked for it and we both LOVE Barnes and Noble. Of course, we headed straight for the "teen" section for books. I am always put off by some of the selections they put in the "teen" section considering teens are also 12-15 which is really young for some of the subject material they put in there (don't get me started on that). So we browse the books and I am inwardly shaking my head at some of the selections....

Then I turn around and there on a table, right next to the teen section and leading to the children's section are the "Valentine" books. Need I say what "selections" were on that table? They didn't really have any pictures on the covers but the Titles spoke volumes, and even worse were the ones that didn't that you might be inticed to pick up and be shocked to find the content.

They had a whole entire store to put this table and they put it there? They could have put it on the whole other side of the entry walkway on the adult section. Why did they put it there? Coincidence? Come on, part of sales is advertising. They think everything through. Like at Blockbuster where everything is NOT in exact Alphabetical Order. They disburse the big releases through the store and put the lesser knowns amongst them so they have a chance. I think every mother would like to kill the guy that, we will reluctantly concede, had the brilliant idea of putting candy in the checkout lanes.

No, they think these things through. Like how tempting it will be for these hormonal kids to pick them up and maybe even secretly buy them. How many of us leave our teens off to browse through Barnes and Noble?

I'm not saying I don't trust my daughter, I do. I am constantly thanking Heavenly Father for what a good girl she is and how she really stands for something and makes good moral decisions. But how much can you take when filth is constantly thrown your way?

So do we accept it, and say "oh well, just don't do it?" No, I think it is our obligation to be active and do something in whatever way we can. In fact, in a conference talk by the Prophet Ezra Taft Benson, he said it is our moral obligation to stand up for truth and righteousness. We must not sit complacently by. I think that is what's happening in this world. People are sitting complacently by and not taking any sort of action when they feel something is morally or ethically wrong.

You don't have to be outspoken or a crusader to do something. It is so easy to do something these days from the security of your own home. You can send a letter, write an e-mail or, as in my case, I made a phone call.

I didn't want to embarass Kierstin or make a scene. So this morning I called Barnes and Noble and asked to speak with the manager.. I politely gave my point of view. She suggested "well, teens are always in the sensuality section." I suggested that yes, but maybe some teens that are too embarassed to be seen in that section might find it so much easier to casually pick up one of those books when it's in their section anyways." She said she wasn't the head manager but would pass it on to him.

Will it make a difference? Probably not with just my call, but I am rather confident it would if several concerned mothers called in. That's how sales work. That's why they are constantly doing surveys; to see what appeals to the people. I'm going to go in on Monday, to see for myself if it did in this case. I'll keep you posted....

On another note, I wouldn't recommend going to see Bedtime Stories either. Not only was it not very well developed script, but I, and especially Danny did NOT appreciate the scene where he is standing on the beach with the very voluptious girl in a very tiny bikini. I was so conscience about how very long the scene seemed to go on with my 3 sons, especially my 11 year old hormonal son sitting right there watching wide eyed.

I always knew men were wired differently than women but I'm finding how much so all the time. Like Danny was so disturbed by another beach scene they had. This time the main girl had on enough clothes but apparently the extras sure didn't. Funny, I didn't notice so much but Danny sure did. Hmmm, do I think my boys notice too? I'm looking up an e-mail site for Disney.

Am I asking you to call in with me in these 2 instances, only if you feel so enticed. However, the next time something really bothers you as being morally or ethically wrong. Instead of being shocked, and shrugging it off; ask yourself instead; "Is there something I can do about this?" I believe it would make a difference.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

"It's all in the Name"

I made my mother-in-law's whole wheat pancakes from scratch this morning. The best thing about them is that I don't like them with syrup. I like them either with strawberry jam or fresh strawberries mashed with a tiny bit of syrup or even straight with a little butter. So good for you, n0 butter or oil or anything! I even freshly grind the wheat. My kids will eat them, but of course they're not as good as the "regular" pancakes. I used to make them all the time but had got out of the habit. However, as a new year resolution our FAMILY is now going to be eating better.

As I was reading the recipe this morning I had to chuckle. I put it in our ward's latest cookbook. I labeled them "Yummy Whole Wheat Pancakes." Apparently, the name of a recipe can be very influential. I was thumbing through the cookbook with Bryce a while back. He is my little baker's assistant. If I even get out the BOSCH he is over in a flash ready to help.

In any case I came across that page with the recipe and Bryce says "mom, you should make these whole wheat pancakes instead of the ones you usually make."

I laughed so hard tears came out of my eyes. Of course he looks at me with a bewildered look on his face. I had to explain; "Bryce, these ARE the pancakes I usually make!"

Bryce: "But these say YUMMY!"

It's all a matter of opinion I guess.

YUMMY Whole Wheat pancakes
Divide 4 eggs with the yolk in a large mixing bowl and the whites in a medium bowl.
To the yolks add:
2 C buttermilk
1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T honey

Whip the whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into the yolk mixture. Bake on medium heat until cooked well through. I add blueberries or chocolate chips.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Christmas Eve

We had a lovely Christmas Eve. My sisters, Ann and Mary came to sleep over Christmas Eve so they could be with us in the morning. We had our family favorite dinner; green chicken enchilada casserole. It's easy and a festive green color. We had squash and corn and rice to go with it with sparkling cider of course. Very yummy! Here's the recipe. So easy, so delicious, the best kind AND most importantly, everyone eats it!

Green chicken enchilada casserole:

In a 9x9 baking dish layer:

cooked chicken
corn tortillas
some green enchilada sauce to cover
grated cheese (mozerella or cheddar)
corn tortillas
green enchilada sauce to cover
corn tortillas
rest of enchilada sauce
top with cheese and olives

so yummy, so easy! My fav kind of recipe, quick and easy for christmas eve when I can concentrate on the important part of Christmas Eve...

We took pics from the gospel art picture kit and had each child read a part of the nativity story ending with the signs in America. There was a very lovely spirit there! I'm so grateful my kids really have a desire to learn about the savior and his life. I pray that desire may continue! That truly is the best Christmas gift I can have is having them all there and sharing their lovely spirits!

Of course we end by talking about the reason we exchange gifts is to respresent the great gift the savior gave to us. The kids get to each open some special Christmas p.j.s to wait for santa in. this year, grandma Nancy did the honors decking everyone out in special robes too (Tyson declined to be photoed for this event. In fact, he was having a problem wanting to wear any p.j.s at all although he did enjoy opening them!) Then off to bed, nice and snug to wait for Santa to come!

Mommy's little elf helper!

This was the first time in 14 years I didn't not have my traditional Christmas Cookie exchange. I guess I haven't been in a real party mood since we've moved. However, the kids wondered when we were going to make the "Christmas Cookies" the chocolate ones with peppermint frosting and sprinkled mints on top, yum! We made plates for our neighbors and new friends.

I'm so blessed with 4 little helpers. This time, I was blessed with the help of the littlest one. I guess if you received any of our cookies, you're glad to see this pic after you've eaten. I think we had more ingredients out of the bowl than in at one point.

but the real point is TYSON had fun!

Everyone needs a taste tester!

Another singer in the house... Bryce's Christmas Concert!

Can you see the darling little boy in the santa hat on the end of the 2nd row from the front? No, well, you'll have to take my word for it that he's just the most darling, musically inclined 8 year old in a santa hat in the whole bunch of 3rd graders!

I would have loved for you to see him better, but my camera, which is has awesome clarity, and so forth, does not have a great zoom. I did get a video pic but I still have to figure out how to download them.

Take my word for it, it was a very festive atmosphere! With a great song about a spanish reindeer I wish I could remember the words to, darling! Good job Bryce!

A Visit With Santa

We're lucky that Santa usually makes a stop at our church Christmas party. So we get to have a visit with him without waiting in that awful line at the mall that usually destroys the moment by the long wait! It turns out he actually travels to the ward in Murrieta as well.

Bradley spared Santa's lap and visited with him instead. He said he wanted a new airsoft rifle this year....

Kierstin opted out of even personally visiting with Santa this year. I guess she's banking on the letter she wrote him (I hope he got it!)

Bryce told Santa he wanted a remote control helicopter or airplane....

Brian wanted a skateboard.....

Tyson, well, he's just getting the idea. This was as close to Santa as he was willing to get this year. I'm sure he'll make up for it next year with a list a mile long!!

Christmas tree to the max!!

When I was a little girl, we had an artificial tree to save money and because my mom, dad and sister are all allergic to a real tree. I was always so jealous when my friends would go with their families to choose a real tree. I loved the smell of it the look, everything. I guess we always want what everyone else wants when we're little.

Of course I vowed to always get a real tree when I had my own family someday! From the moment I got out on my own, we have always got a real tree. I still love the whole thrill of going out to find "the one." I love the feel in the air and the smell of the lots.

As the kids have got involved, they of course, have always wanted the biggest tree we could fit. In the past, it has always been a 6-7 footer as we have had 8 foot ceilings and with the stand and the star, it was always a tight fit.

Well, this year, our new home has 10 foot ceilings so we could actually get a 9 foot tree! although ,when we got to the lot, our kids were convinced we could fit a 16 foot tree in "that spot by the stairs." Danny and I laughed. I thought I was always bad at gaging measurement. When someone says, "oh, it's about a foot", I am clueless to how big or small that may be. However, I was fairly confident we did not have room for a 16 foot tree. Although, trying to talk them out of it was hysterical. We finally said "look, we'll take it home and you'll see, this one barely fits."
So we settled for a 9 footer this year. Wow, I was beginning to worry that I was gathering too many ornaments to fit on a tree anymore. that may have been true for our 7 footer but the 9 footer, it all fit nicely (although I did have to buy 3 extra strands of lights!)

In the end, Kierstin and Bradley had a nice little "oops," laugh at themselves when they realized just how tall 16 feel would have been and how inconvenient it would have been to crawl up the railing of the stairs to go around it! Tyson just kept looking at it like he was amazed we actually brought a tree in the house! It all turned out lovely in the end!

Tyson, loved it all! He even brought refreshments!

I think Kierstin thinks she's getting too old for our traditions!! (sad thing is she only has 3 more left!)

Voila, proof that our 9 foot tree was the perfect fit!!

Brad's Christmas Concert

Part of the perks of middle school is that you get to choose an elective. Bradley was going to choose Band but the guidance counsellor talked him into taking choir and boy is he glad he is. He enjoyed it so much that he tried out for the honors all boy ensemble and made it. There aren't many 6th graders in it, just a couple. He gets to have his own tux and got to go to Disneyland the Friday before school got out to perform and then enjoy the rest of the day.

Also, that week before, they had the Christmas concert. Man, does my boy look good in a tux or what?

It was fun to get to hear him sing and dress up.

Bradley can not only sing but comes fully loaded with the full set of dimples too! (Can't we go back to arranging marriages and skip the whole dating scene? He's not only cute but knows all the right things to say to a girl. We're in trouble!)

Boys working hard in school!

Danny and I always tell our kids that it's their "job" right now to do their very best in school. If they do their best and work hard in school it will help give them more choices in how they can be happy in supporting future families later on.

A's are nice, but the most important thing is that they do their best and I always tell them I will know when it has been their best.

Bryce and Brian showed what they were capable of this past quarter in school. Bryce won 2 awards these past 3 months, one in his first class with Ms. Castilla for Citizen of the month. This is for a child that shows exceptional character. He got to eat lunch (McDonalds) with the principal.

The 2nd award was from his current teacher, Mr. Ennis, for outstanding achievement in reading. (Bryce was transferred from his first class cuz they had over 20 kids in it). This is really an achievement for Bryce as he excels in math (he wants to be a mathmatician someday). He usually has a harder time in reading. Not that he doesn't get it, just he's not interested in it and so he tends to rush through his reading and writing, not caring as much. So I was expecting the award to be in math and tickled to find it was in reading!! Way to go Bryce!

Brian also received an award that day. His award assembly was 2 1/2 hours after Bryce's. I was all set to go and had a bad parent moment and completely lost track of time. When I looked at the clock it was 1:45 and the assembly was at 1:30!! I grabbed Tyson out of his nap and rushed to the school, but of course I was too late! I felt AWFULL!! I can't express enough how awful I felt.
Brian's award was for outstanding citizenship. Having caring, understanding, considerate, courteous qualities which he definately has as he was quick to forgive mom for being such a flake! I was so grateful to his understanding nature! I'm also so proud of how well he is doing at school too especially considering this is his first year AND a new school AND he had to get switched out of his first class 1 1/2 months through cuz there was more than 20 kids. He's been a real trooper. How can you not love his smile!!