Sunday, December 7, 2014

He is the Gift

I am so grateful for this Christmas season. For the kindness it brings out in all of us. For the joy and happiness we feel. For the desire that we want to be with our families. Most importantly, for the ultimate gift of the Savior to all of us. All of these feelings of kindness, giving, joy, happiness, family, and love come from Him. Christ is what Christmas is all about. Merry Christmas everyone!

Watch will be the best 3 minutes that you spend online today!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Patriotic Fruit Pizza

Happy 4th of July! I am so grateful for this beautiful country, our freedom, and for those who protect both. Here is a fun recipe to celebrate...adapted from's not so skinny).

Patriotic Fruit Pizza
Cookie Crust:
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate chips
Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 cup butter softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries or raspberries
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a cookie sheet/jelly roll sheet with cooking spray. Cream sugars, butter, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add dry ingredients and fold in white chocolate chips. Spread dough onto pan and bake 10-12 minutes. Do not over bake. Mix frosting and spread over cookie crust when it is cool. Decorate with fruit. Store in fridge until ready to serve.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Invisible Mothers

Do you ever feel invisible or insignificant as a mom? I do. I came across this blog post and LOVED the analogy:

The Invisible Mother

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, ‘Can’t you see I’m on the phone?’
Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I’m invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?? 
Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, ‘What time is it?’ I’m a satellite guide to answer, ‘What number is the Disney Channel?’ I’m a car to order, ‘Right around 5:30, please.’
Some days I’m a crystal ball; ‘Where’s my other sock? Where’s my phone?, What’s for dinner?’
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history, music and literature -but now, they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going, she’s going, and she’s gone!
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when she turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you this.’ It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: ‘With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.’
In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: 1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of their names. 2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. 3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. 4) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything. 
A story of legend in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it And the workman replied, ‘Because God sees.’ 
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was Almost as if I heard God whispering to me, ‘I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.
No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, no Cub Scout meeting, no last minute errand is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.
I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree. 
When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, ‘My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.’ That would mean I’d built a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, he’d say, ‘You’re gonna love it there…’ 
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.
—Nicole Johnson


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summer Game Plan

It's Summer. I know for some of you incredible moms out there this is good news to you because it means that you get to spend more time with your kids with less schedule and structure. This is not good news to this mom. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy being with my kids and being able to go and do what we want when we want...but the enjoyment of being with them soon fades as they start complaining, fighting, and asking "what can I do, I'm bored?". They turn into little lifeless blobs who sit in front of the TV because "it is too hot" or "there is nothing to do".


I want to have an enjoyable summer of creating memories, soaking in some much needed sun, being active, seeing my kids work and play and learn together, and spending less time nagging.


Nothing fancy...but it's a plan with a little bit of structure to give us all something to look forward to and to give the kids some responsibility.

We made each day of the week into a theme:
Make it Monday - try a new recipe, make something for someone else, or make a craft

Family Rec Tuesday - Instead of signing our kids up and paying for Summer Rec, we decided to do our own. We came up with ideas like a family bike ride, soccer, football, Wii party, game night, Nerf war, a treasure hunt, and a camp fire.

Wet Wednesday - My kids are constantly asking if they can get wet...which creates a huge mess. Wednesdays are the days set aside for sprinklers, water fights, splash pad, or slip n' slide. One day a week I can handle.

Tidy at 10 Thursday - At 10:00 we gather to clean the house. I will assign small jobs and we will work together.

Field Trip Friday - go somewhere fun and inexpensive. Some of the ideas that we came up with are hikes, try a new park, community programs, and visit grandparents.

Outside Saturday - Yard work

We also gave the kids Daily responsibilities that they need to do BEFORE they can turn on the TV/computer. These include tidying their rooms, taking care of the dog, reading, weeding their garden box, being active, and talent time (piano, drawing, math games, coloring).

So there it is...our game plan for a GREAT summer! I am writing this on Tuesday's Triumph because instead of hearing the TV turn on as my kids were waking up, I heard them puttering around the house and yard as they did their daily responsibilities. It was music to my ears! Granted, I have only won round 2 of 80 days of summer. This game plan could back fire and it could be an epic loss and show up on "Monday's Madness"...but today it was a Triumph :)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Dear Tooth Fairy

Dear Tooth Fairy,
First of all, let me thank you for teaching Nathan a very good lesson this morning...that even the Tooth Fairy doesn't work on Sundays. Although he was a little disappointed, he was also very impressed that you keep the Sabbath Day holy.

Now I just wanted to write you a little letter to let you know of our concerns. Nathan started wondering if perhaps you have run out of money...are you bankrupt? He was also thinking that you are selfishly keeping the hard-earned money for yourself so that you can be a this the case? You see, these concerns are legit. Your inconsistency makes us wonder if something has happened to you. You used to be so reliable with our first child, even leaving her thoughtful notes and magic dust...but like the dust, that has since faded away.  Do you favor the oldest child? Are you going to show up at all when our youngest looses her first tooth? Remember the time that you put a dollar in your pocket so that you wouldn't forget...and you fell asleep on the job with the dollar still in your pocket? Are you suffering from narcolepsy or dementia?

Whatever your problem may be, I would love to help because I have a very determined 6 year old. He is also the middle child who, I am sad to admit, often gets overlooked. He has had a loose tooth for weeks. Finally, on Sunday he decided that he wanted it out so he persistently pulled and wiggled that pesky tooth with little results. So he went to the Master Tooth Puller - his Dad. I don't think that the tooth was ready to come, but this determined 6 year old wanted it out and told the Master Tooth Puller to get it out. The Master Tooth Puller never gives up on a challenge so he pulled and kept pulling, even when Nathan's eyes filled with tears he told him to keep pulling. His persistence paid off and the tooth came out....but here's the did not pay off...he did not find his long awaited dollar.

Now if this oversight was due to your religious beliefs, I thank you and support you. But your track record speaks for itself, so please don't overlook this boy tonight. Thanks!

A Mother of a Very Persistent and Determined 6 Year Old

Sunday, May 11, 2014

It Was Mom

Happy Mother's Day!
I am so incredibly grateful for all of the mothers who have influenced and nurtured me and to be able to be a mother...I am so grateful for this eternal career with these 5 little people!

Friday, May 2, 2014


I saw this idea somewhere and had to make it for my family. It's a fun Easter/Spring breakfast that is sure to get a smile.
Love No Bunny Butt You Pancakes
To make one bunny butt:
  • One large pancake
  • Two small pancakes
  • 2 banana slices
  • 6 chocolate chips
  • Dollop of whip cream
  • Sign saying "I love no Bunny Butt you!!"
Here's how to assemble the bunny butt:

 They are sure to be a hit :)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Because of Him

This is a beautiful short movie that I wanted to share. It is WELL worth the 2 1/2 minutes of your time!
I know that He lives and because of my Savior I can live more fully to be a better person, mother, wife, friend, neighbor. Because of Him I have greater hope, happiness, love, purpose, peace, patience, endurance, and joy. Because of Him I can be forgiven over and over again, overcome any obstacle, and live with those I love forever. Because of Him I have everything that I need and can become the person that I ever hope to be.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Playing the Piano and the Atonement

Ether 12:27 - And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
I love this talk by Brad Wilcox. Through a simple analogy he helps me understand the atonement and how to use that priceless gift each day to become better.

"Christ’s arrangement with us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child. Mom pays the piano teacher. Because Mom pays the debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for something. What is it? Practice! Does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher? No. Does the child’s practice repay Mom for paying the piano teacher? No. Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for Mom’s incredible gift. It is how he takes advantage of the amazing opportunity Mom is giving him to live his life at a higher level. Mom’s joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used—seeing her child improve. And so she continues to call for practice, practice, practice.
If the child sees Mom’s requirement of practice as being too overbearing (“Gosh, Mom, why do I need to practice? None of the other kids have to practice! I’m just going to be a professional baseball player anyway!”), perhaps it is because he doesn’t yet see with Mom’s eyes. He doesn’t see how much better his life could be if he would choose to live on a higher plane.
In the same way, because Jesus has paid justice, He can now turn to us and say: “Follow me” (Matthew 4:19); “Keep my commandments” (John 14:15). If we see His requirements as being way too much to ask, maybe it is because we do not yet see through Christ’s eyes. We have not yet comprehended what He is trying to make of us.
But don’t you realize how hard it is to practice? I’m just not very good at the piano. I hit a lot of wrong notes. It takes me forever to get it right.” Now wait. Isn’t that all part of the learning process? When a young pianist hits a wrong note, we don’t say he is not worthy to keep practicing. We don’t expect him to be flawless. We just expect him to keep trying. Perfection may be his ultimate goal, but for now we can be content with progress in the right direction. Why is this perspective so easy to see in the context of learning piano but so hard to see in the context of learning heaven?
There should never be just two options: perfection or giving up. When learning the piano, are the only options performing at Carnegie Hall or quitting? No. Growth and development take time. Learning takes time. When we understand grace, we understand that God is long-suffering, that change is a process, and that repentance is a pattern in our lives. When we understand grace, we understand that the blessings of Christ’s Atonement are continuous and His strength is perfect in our weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). When we understand grace, we can, as it says in the Doctrine and Covenants, “continue in patience until [we] are perfected” (D&C 67:13).
 Happy Easter! I am so grateful for Christ's atonement so that I can improve, repent, and have hope in becoming who I am meant to be.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Orange Strawberry Almond Salad

This is my new favorite salad and salad dressing. It is so great for a light Spring/Summer meal and is really good with grilled chicken. I am making this for a yummy side to our Easter dinner along with some Bunny Buns....YUM!

Orange Strawberry Almond Salad
  • 1 package spring mix salad
  • 1 head Romain lettuce chopped
  • 1 can mandarin oranges
  • 1 pint strawberries sliced
  • 1 cup sliced candied almonds
 To make candied almonds, put almonds and 2 Tbsp sugar in pan. Heat on high constantly stirring until sugar liquifies and almonds get toasty. Spread out on wax paper to cool.

  • 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice (2 oranges)
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 package dry Italian dressing mix
Combine and pour over salad just before serving.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Shepherd's Pie

This recipe is turning into a family favorite at our home. In a pinch you can simplify it and use instant potatoes and canned beef - I have used both and it turns out great!

Shepherd's Pie
  • Mashed potatoes (I use about 10 medium potatoes peeled and cubed. Once soft, I mash them with milk, 2 Tbsp of sour cream, salt and pepper....or use instant)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, shredded beef, or canned beef
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (or just pees and carrots) - cooked
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • shredded cheddar
 Make mashed potatoes. While the potatoes are boiling, brown ground beef. In a separate pan, make a gravy by melting the butter on medium heat, whisk in flour to make a paste and slowly whisk in beef broth and Worcestershire. Stir until smooth. Add veggies and beef to the gravy and stir. In a 9x13 pan, put meat and veggie mixture on bottom. Spoon potatoes over meat evenly. Sprinkle potatoes with paprika and cheese on the very top. Bake at 350 of 20 minutes then broil for about 3-5 minutes until cheese is nice and crispy.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Wearin' O' The Green

What are you wearing today? I bet you can't top what Travis picked out :

A green sweatshirt with green shorts
Accessorize with a tie and snow hat

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Crockpot Refried Beans

These are so much tastier than the canned refried beans and SUPER EASY! I love making these because it makes enough for two dinners for my family of 7. The day that I make them I will freeze 1/2 of it for another dinner. They are great to eat plain with some rice, or rolled up in a tortilla with cheese, or on tostadas, or added to this chicken taco soup to make it more creamy. It's a great recipe!

Crockpot Refried Beans
  • 3 cups of dry pinto beans (washed and rinsed)
  • 4 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 Tbsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion (don't chop it up, just throw it in)
  • 1/2 cup butter
Put beans into large crockpot and fill crockpot 3/4 full of water. Add bouillon, garlic salt, and onion. Cook on high for about 8 hours until beans are soft. Throw away the onion. Strain the beans, saving the juice in a separate bowl. Add butter to the beans and some of the reserved liquid. Use a hand blender to mash beans. Add liquid and blend to obtain desired consistency.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Cupid's Cafe

Happy Valentine's Day!
I love to celebrate with food and express my love through food...probably because I love food a little too much... Every Valentine's day, I try to make something festive for our Cupid's Cafe breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Here are some ideas:

Heart-shaped French Toast
I Love You With All My Heart Dinner...everything is shaped like hearts

Valentine notes in lunch box - "It's O-FISH-al, you are the best kid ever!", "You are the APPLE of my eye", "Hope your day is Marvelous & Magnificent"
Make one sandwich on wheat and one on white bread, use a cookie cutter to cut out heart of each sandwich, then put wheat heart in white bread and white heart in wheat bread

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Come-Back Kid

Oh, how I am glad that 2013 is behind me because it was sure a challenging one! I feel like it was the year of getting my feet planted firmly on the ground only to have them knocked out from under me. But I got back up each time.
The year started off with me trying to get my baby weight off. I started running again and worked my way up to 6 miles. On one of those routine runs, I felt an intense cramp in my right hip. I tried to walk it off and start running again but is was impossible. By the time I hobbled home I could hardly lift my leg. After weeks of being misdiagnosed and being in pain, I finally found out that I had a stress fracture in the femoral neck of my hip. The doctor told me that I could not put any weight on that leg until it healed. I laughed in his face. WHAT!!!???? How was I supposed to care for my family, especially my 1 year old in a split level home? The estimated 4-6 weeks of being on crutches turned into 9. It was one of the hardest and most frustrating things that I have gone through...but it strengthened me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I learned how to depend on others for the simplest things like carrying my baby down the stairs, grocery shopping, and cleaning. I was humbled by the love and support that I received. I learned to appreciate my body and independence. I learned to be patient as I was waiting for that dang bone to heal. I also learned that crutches are great for other giving my kids a little nudge, reaching those hard to get things on the top shelf, and even defending a soccer goal.

Well, after those LONG 9 weeks, I SLOWLY started to strengthen my leg and get back to my original goal of losing weight. I worked hard, lost most of my baby weight, and felt stronger than I have in years. During this time I was also going through extensive testing to see if I was healthy enough to donate a kidney to my dad who was in kidney failure. In December I got the news that I would be part of a 6 person kidney paired exchange. I worked even harder to be the healthiest that I could to have a better recovery and to donate the best kidney that I could to my recipient. On December 18th I had the opportunity to donate my kidney. It was major surgery and I required a lot of help during my 6 week recovery, but it was totally worth every moment of pain and discomfort because I was able to help my dad and my recipient to have a better quality of life. I guess that I needed a reminder of what the Lord wants me to learn...patience, how to accept help from others, appreciation of my body, and a greater love of the ultimate gift of life from our Savior.

So, I find myself again at the bottom of a long upward climb. But I am going to get up, brush myself off and start again. Just call me the "Come-Back-Kid".

Sunday, January 26, 2014

My Good Sararitans

 30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
 31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
 32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
 36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
 37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

This parable has a special meaning to me because I have been blessed with many Good Samaritans lately. What is a Good Samaritan? In my mind it is someone who recognizes a need to help someone else regardless of race, religion, and cultural boundaries. Is is someone who acts on that need and shows compassion. It is someone who gives of himself to meet that need. It is someone who enlists the help of others to provide care. It is someone who encourages others to "Go, and do thou likewise".

Who are my Good Samaritans? Stephanie is my family's Good Samaritan. She recognized the need of so many who are in kidney my dad. She did not know my dad, but she acted and decided to donate her kidney to someone in need...and that someone was my dad. She literally gave of herself to save someone else. My dad will now have a better quality of life because of her compassion and selfless service.

I also donated my kidney 5 weeks ago to help my dad. I was not a match for him so we participated in a paired exchange program in which my dad and I were involved in a 6 person chain of donors and recipients who could donate and receive from each other. Because of our Good Samaritan Donor - Stephanie - I was able to "Go, and do thou likewise" and donate my kidney to a woman in need.

What a blessing to be a part of such a life-changing chain of events. 6 strangers coming together to help those in need. A Good Samaritan is also someone who acts on the seemingly small and simple needs of others. During my recovery I have had many Good Samaritans help my family and I in small ways that have meant a lot to me. More than they will ever know. Countless words of encouragement, meals, caring for my children, fasting and prayer. I know that recognizing and acting on the small needs of others can bring about life-changing chains of events as well.

Let us all be Good Samaritans. Let us all follow the Samaritan's example and "Go, and do thou likewise". Let us all set aside any prejudice or pride and look for ways to help those around us. Let us all link ourselves together in love and compassion and become a chain reaction of doing good.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Rent Collector

Yes, I am still alive. Yes, I know that I have fallen off of the Blogosphere and haven't posted anything in 7 months. It's not that I haven't had anything to write about...because sheesh a lot has happened. It's just that I forgot the importance of the written word, the value of writing things down, and the impact that stories can have on others. Now, don't get me wrong. I am not saying that my words are important, valuable, and make an impact on all of you who still read this (thanks for hanging in there). What I am saying is that I realized that it is important to me. I like to share my stories, recipes, failures, and successes so that my family and I can look back on them and remember the good along with the bad. I stopped writing because I lost sight of my word's worth. Thanks to this FANTASTIC book, I remembered that my opinions, values, thoughts, and beliefs do matter and that I need to write them down.
So I'm baa-aaack. Not everyday, maybe not every week or even month. Just when I have something worth writing about. The Rent Collector by Camron Wright is worth writing about and definitely worth reading!
The Rent Collector is about a young mother who lives in the largest waste dump in Cambodia. It is not about where you live, but how you live. It is about finding hope and rising above your circumstances. It is about the value of literacy and the written word. Even in a dump where worthless things are thrown out, treasures are found and seemingly worthless people are befriended and treasured as well.
It helped me to see that amid my posts that I see as being worthless and garbage because of my imperfections and insecurities, there are treasures to learn and that I need to write them down and share. So in the next few posts I will try to catch up on the last 7 months.