Monday, October 11, 2010

Jump Creek Canyon

In late August, our family took a nice Sunday drive out to Jump Creek Canyon. We wanted to take our boys on a little hike, and this quarter mile in water fall seemed to be the perfect one. The trail wanders through the canyon, often under a canopy of trees. It crosses the creek in a place or two. It was narrow and steep at times, but the boys managed through most of it with out being carried. At the end was a beautiful little pond with a water fall.

There were plenty of Northern Bluet damselflies about.
The trail head signs warned of poison ivy, and being an Alaskan girl, I have never encountered it in the wild. I'm glad to report that we managed to avoid all things green that looked from far away like they might have had three leaves.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Change: Give Up Soda

I originally started this blog to document changes I was making in my life to be healthier. I'm still making changes, lots of them, every day. And not just to be physically healthier, but I'm working on changes to be spiritually and emotionally healthier too. Most days, I have to start over.

But today I want to annouce that I have been soda free for one whole month!

My main motivation behind giving up soda is part of a larger change to cut back on all refined sugar, but this is all about "many small changes" and not one big one.

Though this is a change I've been trying to make for years, the following really helped this time:

Living With PCOS and Treating it Naturally

The Word of Wisdom

Can mormons drink caffeinated sodas?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Canning Peaches

Here in Southwest Idaho, peaches just peaked. Or so I've been lead to believe. I don't really know much about these things, except that when fall starts knocking on summer's back door, people around here start canning peaches. I grew up in Alaska, we canned smoked salmon and blueberry jam and spruce tip jelly -- I know about the timing of those kind of things, but not peaches.

Putting up peaches is something that I've been wanting to do for years. So this year, when the evenings started to turn chilly (our days are still hovering in the high 80's), I got the feeling it was time. The local peaches started appearing at the grocery store, and I wondered where to get my pile of peaches for cheap. My facebook and voice-mail pleas for help or an invite to a canning party went unanswered. I decided to take the task on myself -- or with the help of my hubby.

A chance encounter led me to believe that peaches could be had at a particular orchard for $8 a box, rather than $10 at another orchard. So at least the mister had a little more direction than, "Go out to where the fruit is and find me some peaches!" When he showed up with a $10 box of peaches, I wondered if he found the right farm. I was just grateful that he brought home peaches and that he took our boys out of the house all by himself. He's making big progress on his stay at home dad days.

A bunch of reading here and here, a borrowed canning pot, and I was set!

As I was dipping my peaches in boiling water then peeling them and slicing them, and my simple syrup solution was already boiling, and I was about to have a panic attack in my own kitchen over my inadequacy as a canner, I stopped.
"This is supposed to be fun," I told myself.
"You are learning something new," I told myself.
"You don't have to be perfect the first time," I told myself.
"This is why women have friends," I told myself.

Then, I invited my husband to help me peel peaches.

My results? I have 7 quarts of peach slices, 7 quarts of peach halves, and 4 8 oz. jars of peach jam.

I'm pretty sure the jam is really a sticky mess, but I'm waiting until my store bought strawberry jam is gone to pull the new jam out of the pantry. I'm also imagining how good the jam would taste on warm home-made bread. So, if the home-made bread happens before the strawberry jam is gone, I'm sure the peach jam will make it's debut.

Looking at pictures of other people's peaches, I'm pretty sure I didn't fill my jars full enough, but lesson learned. Next year, I'll really pack them in there. Now that i think of it, it is probably why my yield was above the average yield per pound of peaches.

Up next? I think I'll put up some applesauce and apple butter.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Slippers on Sunday

I fought with him over his pants. I fought with him over his shirt. "We don't wear dirty t-shirts to church," I told him as I wrestled him into an unpressed, it was white once, long-sleeved button down shirt. When I asked him to bring me his shoes and he showed up with slippers, I quietly put them on his feet. I couldn't fight with him anymore.

On a trip to the bathroom during Sacrament Meeting, a kind sister asked how I was doing. "My boys are wearing slippers today," I replied.

"At least they're wearing clothes," she replied, "You get points for that."

Pre-nursery, I often wondered why I bothered attending church, as I spent about three hours every Sunday in the foyer. I once lamented this fact to my aunt, and wondered "Why do I even bother?"

"Chris blessed and Kyle passed the sacrament this Sunday, and that makes all the time I spent with crying or restless kids in the hallway worth it."

We don't always make it to church on Sunday at our best. Tears are sometimes involved, and clothes are often wrinkley. Faces might have jam smears and feet might be in slippers. But we go. We try to teach reverence and respect. We love and learn.

Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, and to teach them to ... observe the commandments of God... Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bedtime Bribery

My dear sweet sister in law, who is the mother of my 11 month old nephew, asked me recently, "What does bed time look like at your house?"

"Well," I said, "at around 7:30 we get pajamas on, we brush our teeth, we read two stories and say a bed time prayer. I kiss Monkey good night, but Moose always refuses. Then I put them in bed and tuck them in. Then I say goodnight and turn the light off, and crack the door. Then Moose comes out and I nicely tell him to go back to bed. Then I get up, and put him back in bed. And then Monkey comes into the living room, and I tell him to go back to bed, and he dances in the hallway, and then I put him in bed. And then I hear the door close. Ten minutes later Monkey is crying. I go into their room, and the light is on, and the sheets are off of the beds and Monkey is stuck in the window or Moose wont let him in the closet or took his toy, or the other way around, depending on the night. So I put them back in bed, and say good night. The processes repeats itself, and I'm screaming 'GO BACK TO BED!' And then, around 10 pm, they finally wear themselves out and they fall asleep." At this point I think I was about in tears, and my poor sister in law didn't know what to say.

I believe in bedtime routines. I believe that having consistent and predictable activities in the evening help calm and relax children -- just not my children. We've had the same routine since they were 9 months old. We added brushing teeth in there at about a year, but otherwise it has been, PJs, Teeth, Books, Pray and Bed. But bed time always seems to be a struggle for me. I recently added a nightly bath with lavender soap last month, to no avail.

And here's the thing that really drives me crazy. I struggle with bed time most nights all by myself. My husband works an evening shift, and typically arrives home just as the boys are falling asleep. The other night, as I was finishing up story time, my husband shows up -- he got off early. He prayed with us, he tucked the boys in. He put Moose back in bed ONCE, and the boys were off to sleep before 8:30.

So, I've decided to bribe them. My mother-in-law calls it rewarding, but I still think it is bribery. I made a bed time game. Each boy gets three stars, after prayer they get to put their stars on the bed time board. If they get out of bed, I get to take a star. If they have stars left in the morning, they get a sticker. If I have all the stars in the morning, I get a sticker. If they get 10 stickers, they get to go out with just mommy or daddy for ice cream. I think if I get 10 stickers, I should get a day at the spa.

Bed Time Board
Supplies: Wooden Craft Stars and moons, magnets, 12x12 frame, 12x12 metal sheet, 12x12 piece of scrapbook paper, paint, E600

Paint stars and moons with yellow paint. Add initials or other accents.

Once paint is dry, attach magnets to the stars using E600 or a hot glue gun.

Put scrapbook paper and metal sheet into frame.

Glue moons to frame.

Hang frame on wall and wait for your two year old to say, "Why dat on wall? Take it down. I no like it!" and then start crying when you don't remove it.

Warning: Don't hang it up until the glue is dry or gravity will cause your moons to slide down and get E600 all over everything.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Heart Faces ~ Week 37 ~ Vroom, Vroom

Monkey loved playing with the new truck Nana & Papa bought for him - even in the rain. Like always, I had to take several pictures before I got one with him looking up. I swear I have hundreds of photos of the top of his head. You can see from his blank stare that he's not entirely thrilled to have his attention drawn away from the truck that rumbled.


September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Since learning about talk like a pirate day years and years ago, I've always wanted to have a Talk Like A Pirate Day Party, but if you know me, you know I'm not exactly a party hosting kinda person. (I like to plan parties, but please, don't come to my house, it won't be clean enough or good enough or fun enough for you, but that wouldn't matter because you wouldn't want to come anyways.)

So, instead, I'm sharing these links with you.
Visit AlphaMom for some pirate crafts and really cute skirts.
Take a look at Swiss Family Robinson Birthday Party for some awesome invite and game ideas.
I always thought these cupcakes at Our Best Bites would be great for a pirate party. Monkeys and Pirates go together, right?

Have fun me harties or I'll make ye walk the plank!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Being a Working Mom

A blog I read, Chocolate on My Cranium, is celebrating the 10th anniversary of "The Family: A Proclamation to the World". As part of that celebration, she has asked us to write about our families, using the proclamation as a guide.

The proclamation states: "By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners."

This is the part that means the most to me and is the part I struggle with every day. You see, I've been blessed with a wonderful career. I have got a great job, that pays handsomely, and has pretty good benefits. I've also been blessed with a wonderful husband -- it just happens that he has little education and less earning power than myself.

The deepest desire of my heart is to stay at home and raise my children. I want my primary responsibility to be nurturing my children. And I know it pains my husband to not be able to provide for our family and make all my dreams come true.

I struggle a lot because I know the Lord wants me to stay at home and raise my children. I often don't feel like I have enough faith because I can't just up and quit my job and depend on the Lord to take care of us. But I also know that the Lord expects us to be self reliant.

President Gordon B. Hinkley cautioned women, at several times, using several different words to be very careful about working outside the home. He said, "I hope that if you are employed full-time you are doing it to ensure that basic needs are met and not simply to indulge a taste for an elaborate home, fancy cars, and other luxuries."

My husband and I have spent a lot of time and energy this year refocusing our priorities. We've set financial goals. We've paid off all of our non-mortgage debt and started saving an emergency fund. We've analyzed our budget and decided to try and live more simply. We are trying to curtail our spending, and trying to learn to live on less money. We can't currently survive on my husbands salary, but we are trying to learn how. We are setting aside the extra money we have now while I am working so that we can ensure our financial security should the opportunity for me to stay home arise.

And in the mean time, I try to be the best mother that I can be. That means that I've given up some of my ideals about the perfect house and the perfect meal plan. I'm learning to accept that dirty dishes in the sink are okay, and breakfast cereal for dinner every now and again is fine. It means that I have more time for hugs and kisses after work and time for one more story before tucking my boys into bed.

I have to work really hard to not be to tired and too stressed to be loving at the end of the day. Everyone is tired and hungry when we get home, and we are all at our worst. It's been even harder since my husband has been working afternoon and evenings. It's just me and the boys and there is a lot of yelling and crying on every one's part.

I'm making an effort to yell less and love more. When Moose is yelling at Monkey, and Monkey is crying and hitting Moose, I try to remember that yelling isn't going to help anything. Our children deserve to be taught with love and respect.

These are some of the things I do to nurture my children when I am at home with them:

  1. Snuggle a little bit every morning, no matter how late we slept.

  2. Pray everyday for guidance in the things I need to teach them.
  3. .
  4. Pray with them every night.

  5. Pray for patience and a tempered spirit.

I pray a lot. Motherhood has helped me to realize how much help I need. I can't do it on my own. I need my husbands strength and support, and more importantly, I'm learning to rely on my Heavenly Father. Through motherhood, I'm becoming closer to my Heavenly Father. I know that will make me a better wife and mother and person.

Are you a working mom? What are some of the things you struggle with? How do you deal with your struggles?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Heart Faces ~ Week 35 ~ Photojournalism

This is my first entry into I Heart Faces. I'm really excited, because I've always wanted to enter, but never did. Moose is here flying a kite early this spring. Monkey didn't end up having a turn, as the kite was pretty much toast after this.

To see more entries, head over to I Heart Faces.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fabric Scripture Cover

Shortly after we got married, my husband and I were reading scriptures together. I was using the brown leather, triple combination and bible set that I had gotten as a baptismal gift from my aunts and grandparents. And while I cherish the set, I eyed my husbands quad, and lamented that I had always wanted a quad with my name engraved on the cover.

For my birthday, my dear husband surprised me with an indexed, green leather quad, with my new married name on the cover. I love it and am so grateful for his thoughtfullness, however, I really wanted the quad that closes with the snap. Of course, only being married 4 months, I didn't tell him that.

I wanted to be able to put my scriptures into my church bag and not worry about the pages getting bent when I shoved the manual in the bag too. And I dislike very much the zipper case I got in highschool to carry and protect my scriptures. But, my beatuiful new quad ended up residing in my ugly zipper case.

I came across a tutorial for fabric book covers at Sew, Mama, Sew!. I immediately thought of my scriptures and thought of modifying the pattern to include a 'wrap around' and snap. I decided to try to just make a cover first and see how it went. I put the boys to bed, and got started. It went really well, but all of my plans for the wrap around wouldn't have worked like I thought it would, so I'm glad I went the way I did.

I was able to make the cover with a single fat quarter. I originally planned on using a matching fabric for the inside part, but decided not too. I still plan on making one with a snap, and will let you know how I did it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Celebrate Family

September 23rd marks the 15th Anniversary of "The Family: A Proclamation to the World". In honor of the occasion, September is a month of celebration over at Chocolate on my Cranium and We Talk of Christ.

Look for upcoming posts that celebrate my family.

Photo Credit: Jamie Jacobsen Photography From a wonderful session almost 2 years ago -- We really need updated family photos.

Friday, August 20, 2010


My family and I just returned from a wonderful trip to a remote location in Southeast Alaska. We enjoyed a great time in nature with my family. It was great to spend time with my parents and siblings, and for the boys to spend time with their cousins. The boys enjoyed four-wheeler rides, so I had to encourage them on walks by seeing what we could find.

We came across this beautiful specimen of Amanita muscaria var. formosa. They are highly toxic, and this was an unusual variety -- I had spotted several of the red colored mushrooms on the trail, but this was the only yellow one I saw.
We also found some Green Elf Cups. I had never seen them before, apparently, the fruit bodies are infrequently seen. The turquoise color of the fruit and the stained wood was fantastic.
I found a wonderful resource for identifying fungus at Rogers Mushrooms.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Peony Patience

Five years ago, the summer before my husband and I got married, I purchased a peony. I've always loved the large double blooms and their sweet scent. I was so excited. I planted it in a spot where the large flowers would peak their heads up, and be visible in my living room window. I knew peonies were a little fickle, and I didn't expect it to bloom that year, or maybe even the next, but I hoped.

The following spring, I was giddy with excitement when I saw the first tenders push up from the ground. I watched them grow. More leaves pushed up, and then a flower bud. It was little, like a pea, but it grew bigger. I couldn't stand the wait, and thought for sure my little bud would turn into a beautiful flower. Then, my marble sized bud turned black and died. I think, at the time, a little part of me died with it. It provided great greenery through out the summer, but no flowers.

The next spring, again, I was very excited again, as the tenders pushed their way into the warm spring sunshine. Even more green leaves appeared. My peony's root ball was growing for sure. This year, several small pea size flower buds appeared. I walked through the neighborhood, and saw other peoples' peonies blooming. I admit, I was jealous. This time I was certain, one of my buds would turn into a flower. And just as sure as I was that one would bloom, they all turned black and died.

I began to compare my peony to all those that I would see. Why won't my peony bloom? I would ask. Why can't my peony be pretty like those ones? I began to doubt my peony. Maybe I planted it to deep? Maybe it isn't getting enough sunshine. Maybe I wasn't nurturing it appropriately. That fall, I moved my peony to another part of the garden. I added bone meal to the whole, and hoped it would like it's new home.

Last spring, as the tenders emerged I started to get excited again. I worried though that it wouldn't like its move, and it wouldn't bloom. Buds began to appear. And the buds grew. First to the size of marble, and then a golf ball. And then it happened. A beautiful, delicate flower appeared. And then too quickly, the blooms faded. I enjoyed it's beauty while it lasted.

As I sit and look at my flower filled bush, I about think about patience. I think about how things never happen in my time. I can't compare myself or my life to others. The Lord has a plan for me, and if I'm patient, if I wait with faith, I know the Lord will bless me in ways I can't imagine. I must put myself in the right spot and nourish my spirit appropriately and I will be blessed. I'm thankful everyday for the blessing I receive. I have to remember the Lord knows my desires. If they are righteous and part of the Lords plans, if I am patient, things will happen in His time.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Momma Ducks

We've been blessed with an abundance of momma ducks around our house this year.  It is especially exciting because the boys just finished a unit at daycare where they talked all about baby animals and their mommies and daddies.

Monkey and Moose spent several minutes watching a mating pair of mallards drink from our fountain in the front yard and scrounge for grubs in the garden soil.  "Mommy Daddy Ducks" they exclaimed with excitement.

A few weeks ago my dear husband happened upon a hen nesting in our compost bin.  I tried to take a picture, but scared her.  I was able to take a peek inside her nest and saw about 12 beautiful green eggs.  Having my compost bin as a nesting site has made spring clean up a little bit of a hassle, but it has been fun to sneak a peak at the momma every couple of days.  We haven't introduced her to the boys, I figure nesting is stressful enough without double trouble.    I've been really excited to see her ducklings swimming in the irrigation ditch.  I've learned that the eggs are incubated for about 30 days, so I think we might only have a week or so until they hatch.Fortunately for us, a neighbor boy knocked on our door last week to let us know that a hen mallard and her 14 ducklings were in our front yard.  He said that they had hatched the previous morning in another neighbor's yard. Momma and most of the ducklings were sunning themselves near our weigela. Six of the little ducklings were stuck in our unfinished fountain.  The water was four or five inches down from the top of the catch basin, and the baby ducks couldn't get out.  Sweet hubby brought the hose around, and quietly filled the basin, allowing the duckies to escape.  Momma and her brood stayed in the yard for several hours.Moose and Monkey enjoyed watching them.  They really wanted to touch and hold the ducklings.  We told the boys, "Stay back, you don't want to scare the ducks."  They both growled.  We had to drag them kicking and screaming back into the house.  "More ducks! More ducks!" they insisted.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Good Men

One recent Saturday afternoon, my sweet Moose asked about his great-grandmother.  He and Monkey had spent the previous night at a sleep over with his grandparents, and I'm sure that prompted the question.  "Gramma-Great" he said.  I asked him if he wanted to know about his great grandparents, and was surprised when he said, "Yes."

I started with my husband's side of the family, I told him that his "Grandma-Great" lives on the other side of town with "Grandpa-Great" and that they are his grandma's mommy and daddy.  I told him about great-grandpa who lives in Utah, and his great-grandma who lives with Heavenly Father, and that those are his grandpa's mommy and daddy.  "More" he told me. I was surprised at his attention and interest as I talked about his great-grandparents.

I continued on with my side of the family and told him about "GG", who lives in a nursing home in Washington.  I told him about when we visited her, and how excited she was to meet him, even though she didn't know who I was.  I told him about his great-grandpa who lived with Heavenly Father, that I never got to meet, because he died when my daddy, his papa, was just a boy.  I told him about his nana's mommy and daddy -- I talked about granny, who lives in Alaska.  We talked about my papa, his great-grandpa, who lives with Heavenly Father now.  I talked about how lucky I was to have such a good grandma and grandpa, and how wonderful they are and how much they loved me.  I told him how lucky he is to have such wonderful grandparents too, and how much they love him.

I shared with him my belief that his great-grandparents who aren't with us now, were with him and Monkey just before they came to live with us.   Finally, with a little sadness, I told him, "My papa was a good man."  He looked at me, and patted his chest and said, "Moose good man." 

In three sweet words, he summed up all my hopes and dreams.  As the mother of boys, I hope and pray that I can raise good men.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Learning to write again

As I've tried and tried to blog, I've become very frustrated. I have several posts that are in process, yet to be published. Why aren't they published? Because I can no longer write.
I used to write. I think that I used to write well. I used to dream of being an author. Writing children's books or short stories. I used to believe that I had a novel some where in me.

I would write for hours. I had notebooks filled with poetry -- mostly adolescent angst. I loved to journal, though I was never very consistent with it.

Now, I have a hard time putting words into sentences. I can't seem to put my thoughts down on paper. I have a couple of ideas why I can no longer write.

First, I'm out of practice. I've spent the last 10 years writing code. It's simple. It's logical. It flows. It's like a writing a recipe. This part has to come before that part. There is no transition necessary. It's all nicely put together with curly braces and semi-colons. There is no question about whether or not I need a comma. If it's not syntactically correct, it doesn't compile. It's easy, and it's not all that creative.

Second, I stopped reading. And I love to read. I love to read almost anything. I would read until the wee hours of the morning. I would read and read and I wouldn't stop, not until the last page was turned. I didn't get any sleep. So, I made myself stop reading. A couple of years ago, I started reading again. (Goodnight room. Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon...) And while Goodnight Moon is an excellent book -- one of my personal favorites -- it isn't exactly stimulating for me.

I want to be a better writer. I want to encourage my boys to love reading. So, I've decided to read more. I'm going to dedicate some time to myself during the day to read and write. I'll use my blog as a test ground for my writing.

Bear with me. Hopefully, it will get better.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Teeth are not for biting

I have two wonderful two year old boys.  Each has their own strengths.  We've recently discovered that one of Monkey's strength lies in his jaws.  For the last week, he has bitten Moose at least once a night after being put to bed, as well as biting another little guy in nursery on Sunday.  I worry if that behavior continues, my Relief Society attendance will return to pre-nursery levels.  One bite on Moose's arm drew blood and the bruise still remains.

"No bite" and being sepearted from play during the day hasn't seemed to help, exept when he's caught during the lunge.  I wasn't sure what to do when the biting occurred with the door closed and the lights out.  Until my wonderful sister, who has three boys of her own, recommended the book Teeth Are Not for Biting by Elizabeth Verdick.   After I got off the phone with her, I immediately got online and reserved a copy at my local library.  The next night, after Monkey bit Moose yet again, I told him sternly, "Teeth are not for biting, teeth are for eating apples and crackers."  This, he seemed to understand. 

I picked up the book at the library this afternoon and the boys love it.  I think I've read it 8 times this evening.  The words, "Teeth are not for biting. Ouch! Biting hurts." seem to resonate with both boys.  Monkey looks with concern at an illustration of a crying girl who was bitten.  Though, Moose yells "No!" and smacks the image of the boy who did the biting. (I think we'll have to work on hitting next.)  The illustrations by Marieka Heinlen are bright and cute.

Hopefully, it will help in our home. We also picked up Tails Are Not for Pulling by the same author.  I think our family dog will appreciate it.