Monday, February 28, 2011


3 of our favorite cousins (ok, so all of the cousins are favorites, but hey who’s counting) came over for a sleepover!  They had a blast playing a million different made up games!

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Including “cousin camp”!


Now that’s my kind of camping.  Indoors.  Temperature controlled.  No bugs.  No noisy neighbors.  Awesome!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Felt Scripture Bags

Dallin has been begging me for a case to put his Book of Mormon in.  I have been putting off buying him something because we plan on buying him a complete set of scriptures and a case for his 8th birthday in just a few months.  So after hearing continued begging from him, I decided to see if I could just make him one.


I thought they turned out pretty cute for an investment of 20 minutes, scrap felt, and hot glue.


I think Layton’s was my favorite though – he INSISTED that ALL of it HAD to be GREEN!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mandy’s School Valentine’s Day Party

School parties are always lots of fun!  And this one was no exception.  They decorated cookies, ate lots of fun pink and heart shaped foods, and of course handed out their valentines. 


Good times!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011



79 degrees.

Shorts and short sleeves.

Perfect weather for playing in the creek.


Monday, February 21, 2011

My Kids are SOOOOO Excited!



So what, you ask, has Layton laughing like this?  Why Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2 of course.  I couldn’t find the same trailer that we watched on TV, but this trailer is pretty cute too.


 Dallin talks about it all the time and he is can’t wait to see it.  He is even reading the book.  We all loved the first one, so I have to admit I am pretty excited about it too!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Valentine’s Day Morning

I love my little Valentines and I love surprising them with a little present each Valentine’s Day.IMG_5541IMG_5546

They are always so cute and excited about getting presents.  Even if it is something as simple as new drawing paper,


modeling clay that makes erasers,


and of course Lightening McQueen and Mr. The King. 


And of course we had to start the day out with pink heart shaped pancakes.


They were a hit too!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Style All Her Own

My Mandy girl certainly has her own sense of style.  One day last week she came walking out into the living room dressed like this and announced that she was ready to go to school.  And I totally let her!

So if you ever see my children walking around dressed rather interestingly, just realize that I believe in allowing them to let their own sense of self shine through.  And it has absolutely nothing with me being a lazy mom and not wanting to fight with them to make them change their clothes. (note the sarcasm here)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Technical Difficulties!

I am experiencing a little bit of technical difficulties today!  Last night out main desktop computer stopped working on us.  Boy was I glad that I had run a backup on my external hard drive that morning.  So I didn't actually have nervous break down.  Turns out though, the fix is simple and not too costly and we shouldn't loose any of our data!  Thank goodness!!!!  And thank goodness for nice honest repair men!

Monday, February 14, 2011

What a Beautiful Valentine’s Day!

It feels like love outside today!  It is warm and gorgeous and the perfect day to put all of our Valentine’s Day preparations into action.

We spent this weekend putting together special Valentines for Dallin and Mandy classes:


Layton even helped out a little too.  Except he made all of his Valentine’s for himself ONLY.


Mandy had a blast decorating her sweet little box to put all her sweets in.


And of course, it isn’t truly Valentine’s Day without sugar cookies (at least not at our house :)).  We made a ton of them for both Mandy’s class and Dallin’s class.


P.S.  These are the best sugar cookies EVER!  The secret:  REAL butter and self-rising flour.  They always turn out perfect and unlike many other sugar cookies they actually TASTE great! 

Sugar Cookies
2/3 cup salted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 TBSP milk
2 cups self rising flour
Cream butter and sugar.  Stir in egg, vanilla, and milk.  Fold in self rising flour.  Do not over mix or the cookies will be cakey.  Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.  Generously flour a working surface and roll out the dough.  Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.  Bake at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges begin to look slightly browned.  Allow to cool and decorate!  My favorite icing for decorating cookies is 1/2 cup butter, 1 box powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and then add water by the tablespoon until the icing is the desired consistency.  Super easy!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Baseball tryouts

The infamous baseball season that has me all nervous about our schedule got started this week with tryouts on Tuesday night.  This is Dallin’s very first experience with baseball other than a little backyard play with family.  They showed off their skills that night by grounding a ball,
throwing to first,
and demonstrating their essentially non-hitting swing.
This is going to be a most interesting baseball season!

Thanks everyone for all of the help yesterday.   Mandy and Nancy – I am super excited to try out the dry erase board idea.  I even went and ordered myself one from Amazon.  Now I just have to decide where to put it.  By the computer, where I spend a ton of time working, or in a more central location like the refrigerator in the kitchen??  We’ll see!

Oh and if anyone needs a fantastic meal planning system – talk to Stacy.  Holy cow!  It is an Excel spreadsheet created by her husband - it even creates a shopping list for you when you pick out what you plan to cook for the week!  Awesome!  Stacy, I think I am almost more excited though about trying out all the recipes you have listed than anything else!  I may be coming to you for a few instructions :)

Kim, I am loving the idea of having a notebook handy all the time to write down ideas and things that need to get done.  I have heard before that writing down things like that can actually help clear your mind and keep you more focused, I’ve just never tried it before.   Now that I know someone else does it, I think I will give it a try! 

Cassie thanks for the tip about Fly Lady.  I took a look at her website and she definitely has some great cleaning routines that I want to try out.  Although – she is a little bit of a Nazi about the kitchen sink, isn’t she?  Dry it out with a towel after every use?  Don’t allow your family to put dirty dishes in it?  That’s a little scary for me, but I am loving the idea of 15 minutes each day to declutter.  That seems very doable.
Any other tips that you all have are very very welcome!


Casey, seriously if you started up a support group to help each other stay organized, I would so join it in a heart beat!!!!!

Jenn,  I am so going to use your timer idea!  I am right there with you about getting the kids involved in cleaning up!  And I actually have a pretty strict policy about not doing housework after the kids go to bed, or at least keeping it to a bare minimum.  After the kids go to bed is when I get to spend time with Nathan.  Although, we are pretty boring I must say.  Our together time usually involves a little bit of TV watching together and then climbing into bed side by side with our books.  I absolutely love our running commentary throughout our TV/book time about what we watch/read.  I love laughing and talking about random things with him!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It’s about time…

TIME!  Who has time for all the things that you are supposed to do everyday?

I know I feel like I don’t.  But then again I feel like I should.  Life has gotten increasingly crazy over the last few months and now with the advent of baseball season, I’m starting to feel a little overwhelmed.

So I need some help.  Some suggestions.  Some ideas. 

How do you do it?  How do you keep life in check?  How do you keep yourself organized?  What is the secret?

I’ve tried doing a daily schedule for myself.  And while it does help for a while – after a few weeks I find myself not sticking to it very well.  Do you have a daily schedule?  Do you stick to it?  Or do you just have a daily to do list?  What system works best for keeping yourself on track each day?  How do you keep yourself motivated to stick with it?

Do you utilize a cleaning schedule?  Does it help?  Does it work? 

Ah and then there is meal planning – yuck!   I hate trying to come up with what to cook.  I’ve tried keeping a calendar of meals and just rotating them, but I tend to get bored with it.  How do you plan out your meals?  By the week?  By the month?  Do you do your grocery shopping daily, weekly, bi-monthly?

Which shopping brings us to a budget – this is something that we are sincerely trying to crack down.  We’ve done pretty good so far this year – but do you have any tips for sticking to it?  Do you check your financials daily, weekly, monthly? Do you have a computer program that you use to keep track of things?  If so, which one?  How much do you budget for doing fun things?

Do you put aside time each day to do things that YOU enjoy?  I obviously love to blog, so I almost always put aside time for that.  But what about other things?  Like scrapbooking?  I am now like 18 months behind on my scrapbooks for my kids.  I am starting think that I will never catch up!  And what about reading or other things that you enjoy?

And what about things you don’t enjoy – like for me – exercise.  I find that an extra hard item to squeeze into the day.

I guess it all comes down to two questions.  How do you prioritize your time?  And how do you make yourself stick to a plan of action?  I think I must have been given an extra small portion of will power at birth.  Do you have any tips to get past that?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Girl’s Night

Our good friend Kelly came into town last weekend to help out a friend who had just had surgery.  In between helping her friend, she was able to find a couple of free hours so a few of us girls got together to giggle and chat and just have fun.


I have to say that I’m starting to get spoiled with this whole girls night thing. 


A group of us have gotten together like 3 times in the last month.  It has been fabulous!


I had almost forgotten how much fun life outside of children can be :)


Thanks everyone for a great time, delicious cupcakes, a few good belly laughs, and for just being great friends!  I can’t wait for our next night out.  Let’s make it soon!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

International Chocolate Day – Chocolate Truffle Cookies

This past Sunday, my sweet friend Becky W. reminded me that it was International Chocolate Day.   And if you know me, then you know that there is no way that I would ever pass up celebrating such an important day.  So I went searching on my favorite recipe website – – to find the perfect chocolaty treat to celebrate with.  And I definitely found a winner!
Chocolate Truffle Cookies
A thin veneer of crispness on the outside and soft creaminess on the inside. Delicious.  But these are only for true chocolate lovers because they have enough chocolate in them to kill some people :)
To make them you will need:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate (60% cocoa or higher)
1 cup mini chocolate chips
6 Tbsp butter
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup mini chocolate chips
In a microwave safe bowl, melt bittersweet chocolate, 1 cup chocolate chips, and 6 Tbsp of butter.  I like to melt mine for 30 seconds, stir, melt again for 30 seconds, stir, and so on until all of the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.  In a separate bowl whip the 3 eggs and the sugar until well blended.  Add vanilla and melted chocolate.   Blend well.  In a small bowl mix together flower, cocoa, salt, and baking powder.  Add to the egg/chocolate mixture.  Do not over mix.  Just blend until it is all smooth.  Then fold in the other cup of mini-chocolate chips.
Place in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.  Preheat oven to 350.  Form dough into 1 inch balls and place on parchment paper covered cookie sheet.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  Do not over cook.  You want them to be soft in the middle.
And then enjoy!  They are so yummy!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Pajama Day at School!


Those look like some very sleepy little preschoolers. 


Or not…they’re waking up!


And now they are ready to party!


They even let Layton dance and party with them!


Mandy sure loves her preschool class.  They are always having fun!


Friday, February 4, 2011

It only makes me love you better…


Mandy has two little friends.  We’ll call them Jane and Jill to protect the innocent :).  Yesterday Mandy said to me, “Mommy, Jane told me that Jill picks her nose.”  Mandy then had a little light bulb moment in her eyes and said, “But that’s ok, because I pick my nose too.”

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Stake Conference–Saturday Evening

I thought I would share a few of my notes and thoughts from Stake Conference starting with the Saturday Evening adult session.

The evening began with a Bishop from one of the wards in the stake sharing the “small and simple” things that his ward was doing to build each other up.  It served as a nice reminder of the Savior’s plea “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”  (D&C 64:33)  Every little advancement that we make, no matter how small, in doing the Lord’s work serves a great purpose.

The next speaker was Sister McRae.  I thoroughly enjoyed her talk.  She shared some simple goals that we could set as a family.  The goals she suggested were to:

1.  Pray morning and night together.

2.  Read the scriptures together daily and have a weekly family home evening.

3.  Smile more.

Not one of those goals are new or are earth shattering in any way, but sometimes we need to be reminded of the most basic of things.  I know I needed the reminder. 

President Barry, the mission President, share a few scriptures about missionary work (I know, so surprising :)).  But then he went on to share some of his experiences of raising his children and doing those small simple things, like reading the scriptures daily.  Are you starting to see a pattern here with these talks?  It certainly felt that way to me.  Or perhaps it was just I was hearing what I needed to hear and these small and simple things were the message that I took from the talks.  Others may have received a different message entirely.  President Barry shared that when his home was full of children, they had a set schedule of scripture study every single morning at 6:30 a.m.  He left attendance to this early morning study session up to his children individually.  But when they would miss, he would go to them and express his love, tell them how much he had missed them that morning at scripture study, and then ask what he could do to help them get up and be there with the family the next morning.  His sweet example drove home to me that I need to find ways of persuading (not forcing) my children to do what is right.  To love them into choosing the better part.

Elder Ingram share a series of scriptures to remind us of the importance of opening our mouths to prepare the way of the Lord.  I think the point that stood out most for me during this talk was that the joy of the gospel is so great that not only is sharing it with others an obligation/duty it is also a pleasure.  To find kindred spirits who thirst after the same sweet water of the living wellspring of our Savior Jesus Christ.

And last we heard from Elder Oaks.   Oh my goodness he is a character!  He told us that as it was Saturday night he felt that he could make his talk much more light hearted.  And so he shared with us a number of different little things that he has collected over the years that bring him a little chuckle, but that also teach a little along the way. 

One of my favorite things he shared is a birthday card that he received from one of his acquaintances.  Shortly before receiving the card he had spoken at general conference (I think) and had been receiving some negative feedback on  what he had said.  His friend had defended him to those who chose to talk badly of him and labeled them the “Moaners and the Groaners”.  She shared with him that throughout her lifetime she had come to realize that you can find the Moaners and the Groaners everywhere in the church.  It seems that each ward must have a specific calling given to certain people to make them Moan and Groan over everything.  Unfortunately it seems that for most Moaners and Groaners it is a calling that they are called to for life.  Each time she meets one of these Moaners and Groaners she simply realizes that they are fulfilling their calling and thanks them for their service.    I don’t remember all of the things that she said, but her satirical narrative while quite hilarious helped me to realize that I definitely wanted to make sure that I try very hard not to ever fall into the category of a “Moaner and a Groaner”.    The other thing that I loved about this is that Elder Oaks was totally ok with her mocking sense of humor and enjoyed it thoroughly.  He was so cute about it.

Elder Oaks then went on to share a few things that someone had shared with him about how husbands should speak to their wives.  He said that there were 5 things that a husband should routinely say to his wife in order to have a happy marriage:

1. I love you.

2.  I am sorry.

3.  Yes, dear.

4.  You look good in that.

5.  We can’t afford it.

And then he added one more that a Sister had shared with him after hearing those five, “Let’s eat out.”

Of course these all made everyone laugh, but only because there is a bit of truth in conscientiously finding ways to show your spouse that you love and support them and that you want to work together to have a happy peaceful home.

On a trip to South America in the mid 80’s, Elder and Sister Oak were sitting in an airport and Elder Oaks got a hankering for some lifesavors.   Not able to speak a word of Spanish, but knowing the power and universal language of the almighty American dollar, he approached a kiosk and bought a roll.  In return, he received a 1,000,000 pesos bill as his change.  Upon sitting down beside his wife, he announced to her that now they were rich – they were millionaires!  He returned to the US and spoke with a missionary who had served in that area some 10 to 12 years prior and asked him what the value of that 1,000,000 pesos was.  The returned missionary said that bill would have been enough for a large number of people to live off of for a whole year – something around $125,000.  Elder Oaks then went and checked with the church’s finance department and was told that the current value of that bill (in 1986) was 7 cent.  So in only a short space of time the value of money in that country had plummeted so much as to make it almost worthless.  Elder Oaks then shared the scriptures 2 Nephi 4:34 and 2 Nephi 28:31 – “Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men”

The ways of world are not our ways.  We cannot chose to put our trust for our future happiness on the precepts of men.  Money and power and worldly things are just not important and are not a true source of joy.  They can easily fail you.  Our trust should be put in our Father in Heaven, in our Eternal families, in goodness, in kindness, in service to those around us. 

Elder Oaks then reminded us that it is not Heavenly Father’s design that we should be rescued from every trouble, but rather that we should learn to handle them ourselves.

To end the night, he again reminded us that laughter is good.  The Lord gave us a sense of humor – ENJOY IT!  He shared a letter that he had gotten from a 10 year old girl while on a trip to England.  She told him, “You are handsome, kind and nice.”  But then she also said that President Hinckley, President Monson, and all down the line of all of the apostle are “handsome, kind and nice” too.  He laughing said that she had now “diluted” the compliment :).  The cutest part though is that he showed around a little drawing that she had made at the bottom of the letter of him and his wife.  The picture was labeled “I know you are an Apostle because you are clean and your head is shiny.”  His smile and laugh at that was just too cute.

He closed by sharing his testimony that the heart of the Gospel is the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Repentance is real.  The resurrection is an accomplished reality.  We are children of God.  We are led by His prophet.

His testimony is my testimony. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Baby Got Back

Or not.  But still, it is a very cute tiny little dinosaur covered butt.


The cutest part is that he ASKED me to take a picture of his butt.  He thought it was HILARIOUS!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A simple way to volunteer

The Church is now offering a super simple way to volunteer your time.  All you have to do is a little proof reading!  Or you can choose to do things like photo/video tagging, video spot checks, or splicing videos into smaller clips.  And of course there is always the opportunity to do family history indexing!   You can go here:

The Vineyard Logo

and set up your account.  If you already have an account, you can just use your same user name and password.  If you choose to do the proofreading you'll just do some comparisons of original scanned documents and specific paragraphs of computer generated text to look to make sure that the computer generation put all of the correct punctuation, accent marks, spacing, etc. in the right places.  Most of the tasks are in other languages, but you don't have to be able to read the other language, you just have to be able to look and compare one paragraph to another.  Each task takes about 1 to 2 minutes to complete, so you don't even have to spend a lot of time doing it unless you want to!

The Family Search indexing is surprising quick and fun too.  I indexed about 50 names from a 1930's Minnesota census page in about 20 minutes.  It was actually very interesting to see how many of the people were first generation immigrants and from what countries they had immigrated from. 

Or try out some of the other tasks.  I haven't tried them all yet, but I'm looking forward to it!