Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Daytime Fun

We signed up Annabelle for swim lessons again, mostly to give her something to do during the day while the kids are gone at school. She does it with her good friend Elizabeth and then there is one other little boy in the class. She LOVES it! Every single day of the week she asks what day it is, and then wants us to count down the days until her next lesson. They're every Tuesday and Thursday. But they end this week which is going to be a very sad thing for her. And gosh, what a difference from her first nightmare lesson she had this summer! She has come a long way in short amount of time.

 A friend from the neighborhood and I switch babysitting each week so we can volunteer in our kids classes. It's perfect because we both have a first and third grader and they are in the same class. So one of us is in the kids' classroom each week, every Monday and Thursday: Monday for Char's class and Thursday for Elisabeth's class. I babysat both days last week while Julie went in. Here is a picture of our kids eating a snack together. They all get along really well.

 Most of my cooking and baking is done during the day and Annabelle and Jane are always thrilled to help. Here they are looking through my new cook book which I love! I've already tried several of the recipes and they've been amazing!
This week felt like Christmas because we got an order from Amazon with my cook book, a hanging closet shoe rack for Elisabeth, and  a new Carter's crib bumper(our other one was old and leaned over and was so short that Nora's limbs were getting stuck in the rail). This new bumper is soft and tall; exactly what I wanted. I need the softness because otherwise my babies always wake up crying multiple times in the night from hitting their head against the railing.

 We also got Nora a new high chair this week since the last one we had went to the dump. We had purchased our previous one for $5 from a garage sale and it honestly wasn't even worth that much! The plastic was all ripped and the cotton padding was coming out. We had to throw the plastic and padding away long before we got rid of the high chair. And it was a monster. So big! This time we got a high chair seat that straps onto a normal dining chair which I like much better. And it's great for a little baby and then converts to a booster for a toddler. I found it at Walmart for around $50 which isn't bad. Merry Christmas to us :)!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Carrot Cake and a Fall Cake

I don't know why this picture is sideways and I don't want to take the time to figure it out.  A few weeks ago Elisabeth's school had their annual Fall Festival. It's always a huge success but largely due to the amount of volunteers who help at the event or provide cakes and goodies to sell and to give to the cake walk. I always bring a cake or two or three. The week of this event was really, really busy at my house and I wasn't sure if I'd get a cake done but I did, though it wasn't really anything fancy. I just traced a picture of a leaf off of my computer and onto a piece of parchment paper. Then I cut out the parchment paper and gently pressed it into the frosted cake, all over the top and sides, and then I filled them in with the star tip 21 and some fall colored frosting.

 I cut off the tops of the 2, 9 inch cakes before I stacked them and the kids asked if we could frost and eat those at our house for later. Since I had frosting left I agreed to do that and decorated it with a bunch of scrolls using the same star tip 21.
 A friend of mine from church and book club had a birthday last week. We had been talking a couple of weeks before and she mentioned that she loved carrot cake. And not just any carrot cake but the kind with nuts, pineapple, raisins, coconut and shredded carrots. So I found a recipe online, made the cake from scratch (which I don't normally do when I'm decorating but sometimes I'm up for a challenge or just something new and different) and then frosted it with a cream cheese frosting for her birthday.
 There was enough cake batter and frosting left over from this particular recipe to make another 6 inch cake so I did that and gave it to another friend who loves carrot cake(we frosted and ate the top, once again. I don't mind doing that because it's not a lot, which I don't want,  but it's enough to make the family happy). It was awfully good but if there is anyone out there who thinks carrot cake is healthy, let me reassure you that it is most definitely not. Loads of refined sugar, white flour, plus the frosting has a whole stick of cream cheese, plus butter and powdered sugar. Though I might make this again for our family sometime and substitute wheat flour and a raw sugar...though there's really no way around the frosting...maybe for my birthday :).  Here's the recipe I used, for anyone interested.

Vanilla cream cheese frosting (frosts and enough to decorate a nine inch stacked cake and a 6 inch staked cake)

8 Tbs of butter (1 stick), room temperature
8 ounces of cream cheese (1/2 block), room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar (6 1/2 c when decorating)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tbs of meringue powder
Blend butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and meringue powder. Add powdered sugar a half cup at a time. Add milk a Tbsp at a time if frosting is too thick.

Carrot Cake

3 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice and enough milk added to it to make 3/4c; let stand 5min to sour)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
1 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8x12 inch pan or 2, 9 inch pans and a six inch pan. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, oil, sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour mixture and mix well. In a medium bowl, combine shredded carrots, coconut, walnuts, pineapple and raisins. Using a large wooden spoon or a very heavy whisk, add carrot mixture to batter and fold in well.
Pour into prepared 8x12 inch pan, and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 1 hour. If cooking 9 inch and 6 inch pans, check for doneness after 25 minutes. Check with toothpick.
Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. Can make a day ahead and refrigerate.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake and Our Garbage Disposal

Sometimes we'll refer to Jane as the "garbage disposal" because she'll usually eat what the kids leave behind on their plates. Last week we had strawberry shortcake after dinner and once Lis, Char and Annabelle were done eating, they brought their plates over to Jane, who kept asking for more, and allowed her to lick up their crumbs! Here is Jane with several plates in front of her, getting all that she possibly can. By the way, I posted the recipe for our whole wheat strawberry shortcake on my 'real foods mom' blog which you can find by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Another thumb sucker

 Well, it looks like she's settled on a specific finger now. Nora is a thumb sucker like her sister Elisabeth used to be. She pops that thing in her mouth multiple times a day. The good thing is that she can comfort herself and sleeps like a champ during the night. She'll go down around 730pm and I'll go in and get her up around 9 in the morning(I get so full of milk that I need her to nurse). I took the picture below just after I changed her diaper and clothes...she found her thumb and fell asleep while I was wrapping up the diaper to throw in the garbage.
 So I strapped her in while she took a short, 15 minute nap. :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Temperate and Diligent

My favorite scriptures change from time to time, depending on where I am in life. Right now my favorite scripture is Alma 7:23. It is a scripture that describes perfectly who I want to become. When I think of this particular scripture, it makes me want to be a better person and to try really hard to obtain these particular characteristics. And so I memorized it last week while waiting in the temple to do initiatory. This is what it says:

"And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive, and gentle. Easy to be entreated; full of patience and long suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye may stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive."

I love the words temperate and diligent. I want to be temperate and diligent at all times. I've never been a screamer or a hitter (I agree with Marjorie Hinckley, our former prophets wife, who said that all hitting does is teach that it's okay to hit) but I do raise my voice sometimes, and I do get frustrated and will snap or jump to a wrong conclusion on occasion, but I don't do it nearly as often as I used to. I've been able to improve over the years because I continuously go to the Lord for forgiveness help and He gives me lots of opportunity to practice and refine those skills :). Right now, what I'm really working on is being diligent with my temperance when it comes to our children. I'm learning to stop myself when those feelings of frustration rise, and instead, learning to react with more respect, love and kindness, which is basically giving a temperate response and doing what Jesus would do.

Just this morning after the kids took off on their bikes to school, I found Elisabeth's homework(she's in third grade) on the kitchen table. I had asked her last night before bed, and again this morning during breakfast to put her homework in her bag, so I was a little irritated. I had a couple of solutions pop into my mind instantly. The first was 'fine, she'll get in trouble at school and hopefully learn her lesson.' The other was, "or I could take it to school and say, 'See. That's what happens when you don't listen.' They weren't really bad thoughts and they may have taught her a lesson, but it also wasn't a very temperate or compassionate solution...and would I really be teaching her the most important lesson that could be learned from this situation? Since Annabelle had swimming lessons that morning, I decided to go with the second idea and I'd take the homework to Elisabeth while we were out. I asked the receptionist in the front office to send Elisabeth out to see me and while I was waiting in the foyer for Elisabeth to arrive, a warm and peaceful feeling washed over me(read: prompted by the Spirit) and I felt I needed to use this opportunity as a loving teaching moment. When I saw her walking down the hall I smiled big and held out her homework folder. She smiled back and stopped in front of me. "Hey Elisabeth. Here's your homework folder." She smiled in response and I could see from her eyes that she knew she hadn't done what I'd asked. I didn't need to say anything about that so instead I said,  "In the mornings we're a bit rushed trying to get out to school on time, so maybe in the future, as soon as you're done with your homework, you could stick it right back in your bag so we don't forget it again." She smiled and nodded and gave me a hug. "Love you" we said together and she walked back to class. As I walked back to my van, I felt happy. And I felt grateful to the Lord for being with me and sending me promptings through the Spirit to help me be a better mom in that moment. I love this family of mine and I need all the help He'll send me! (here are a few pictures from our backyard soccer game the other night. Now that soccer season has started up again and Lis is  playing, we do this fairly often)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hike to Cecret Lake

 Labor Day we went on a hike with our friends, Elisa and Mark and their family. We went up Little Cottonwood Canyon and hiked to Cecret Lake. It was about a mile hike round trip. I carried 4 month old Nora in a wrap, Scott had 2 year old Jane in a hiking back pack and then Annabelle(4), Charles(6), and Elisabeth(8) all hiked. Elisabeth and Charles were little speedsters! They kept going ahead of us and then would stop and wait.
Annabelle(left) and Annika. They are BFF :)

Charles playing in the creek

Elisabeth and Charles both wore there BYU shirts

We had a picnic at the lake

Me, Annabelle and Nora

Elisa and Mark

Scott, Me and the babies

Andrew, Elisabeth, Annika, Annabelle and Charles

Jane got out and walked near the lake

Friday, September 14, 2012

Yearning for the Living God

 Sometimes in life you'll meet someone or take a class or read a book, that will change your life.  I had one of those experiences recently with a book we read for book club. It's called "Yearning for the Living God" and it contains reflections from the life of an emeritus member of the quorum of the 70(a general authority in our church), F. Enzio Busche. The first part of the book talked about life growing up in Germany during the time Hitler was in power, and then some health struggles and his eventually turning to Christ and finding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints(Mormon). From there you get story after amazing story of his life and how he learned to follow the promptings of the spirit and trust in the Lord. Some of my favorite stories were the ones he told about his family life and experiences with his children. I put this book down many, many times so that I could retell an experience to Scott or take notes. When I wasn't reading the book, I continued to think about it.

If I could pull two main themes I picked up from this book they would be:

1. Pray more earnestly and fervently
2. Listen to and follow the spirit. When you are placed in a challenging situation, or a situation where your first inclination might be to snap or to be angry or to teach someone a lesson (angrily),  stop yourself and listen to the spirit and follow that. Take time to listen. Take time to record your experiences. And find humor to lighten the mood when appropriate.

I am so grateful for people like Enzio Busche who live exemplary lives and share their experiences with others so that we can learn from their experiences and better ourselves. I used to be good about recording spiritual experiences every day, but the past several months have been lacking, but after reading this book I am determined to pick it up again. And maybe every once in awhile, I'll share an experience here. 

Since beginning this book, I've found that family life, which was already really good, has gotten even better. Instead of snapping at a child who I felt deserved it (or who had long exhausted ALL of my patience), I stop myself in that moment, ask for help (as in a prayer) and then listen and follow the guidance of the spirit which I've found on several occasions to be opposite to what I would have naturally done. Instead of getting frustrated and snapping, I find myself talking things through with a child in a more loving, gentle and patient manner. I feel a lot more peaceful inside. And you know what I've found, for the most part the child reacts SO much better to this kind of intervention which totally makes sense because it's Christ's way of handling things and He knows best. I'm hoping that through practice, these things will become habitual. Practice makes permanent, right? Loved this book! I need to buy a copy for myself.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sleeping Downstairs

 Scott and I have temporarily moved downstairs to the queen bed Elisabeth had been sleeping in...she moved back to the top bunk in the bedroom with Annabelle and Jane.

 We moved down there because we weren't sleeping well since our swamp cooler died but because summer was almost over, we decided to just wait out the summer, save a little, and buy air conditioning next Spring. We've been down there the past month. It's in the eightys now and cool enough to come upstairs again, so I'm sure we'll move back up soon. And Elisabeth misses being able to read at night in bed before she falls asleep. I'm grateful we have that extra bed downstairs where it's cooler. Charles slept on the couch downstairs for awhile too, but he's back up in his bed again. Also, our wonderful neighbors offered us their window air conditioning unit which we put in our living room and has helped a ton! Before that, we were all sweating in the living room come 2pm which meant family scripture and prayer time had to be moved down to the basement. Thanks Brian and Maren!
And here are a few random pictures of the kids from the past couple of weeks:

 Elisabeth showing off her temporary temple recommend to get into the Brigham City temple dedication coming up in a couple of weeks. People ages 8 and older can attend this with a recommend.
 Jane eating her hard boiled egg:

Monday, September 10, 2012

Camping with the big kids

Over Labor Day weekend, Scott took the two oldest kids camping in American Fork Canyon with a buddy of his from work and a couple of his kids. Before their trip Friday, I ran down to REI (sporting goods store) and bought a bottle of Bear Spray, just in case :). Scott was a little surprised when I told him it was $50, but I reassured him that I thought his life and the lives of our children were worth a lot more than that :). I know I might seem a little crazy, but there really are bears around here, and there was an attack on a child in his tent in that very canyon a couple of years back so I'm not taking any chances. I also said more prayers than usual that night on their behalf.  I was relieved to see them Saturday and to hear that they didn't need to use the spray. It has an expiration date of about four years out so we'll have it in the future. Here are a few pictures from their trip and a few of me and the girls hanging out at home: we watched Pollyanna and had frozen yogurt. 
 The kids still love taking turns holding Nora. And they are very generous with their kisses. Nora is extremely loved. Though she doesn't always seem to appreciate that love, like in the picture below :).
 When Nora is awake, I carry her around like this, in my left arm, so I can still get things done with my right. I should pull out my Moby wrap and carry her around in that, but I don't.

 They got to go fishing during their camp out! Elisabeth even held a fish! Afterward she said she didn't think she'd like to go fishing again because she felt sad for the fish when it got caught and was bleeding. She's like her mom :).

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fundraiser Carnival

 Last week a group of people from our stake(local church group) put on a fundraiser carnival for our stake president who has struggled with cancer for awhile. We took the kids over, bought a bunch of tickets and let them enjoy themselves for a couple of hours. Scott and I had fun too: I got to ride a horse and Scott got to throw balls at the dunk tank!

The three oldest enjoyed playing on this inflatable climbing thing.
 Here is Jane eating some soft serve ice cream
 Scott throwing balls at the dunk tank

Charles, Annabelle and I rode horses. I rode with Annabelle because she didn't want to go by herself.

 Nora did what Nora does best: sleep. And she was completely unaffected by the loud music and noise from the crowd.
 The girls fishing and then choosing a prize: