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Sunday, January 28, 2018

One Year Older and Wiser Too! Happy Birthday to Me!

Rose from my mom, Gerber daisies from my Stephen (he also gave me a mango dark chocolate bar- yum)
 Well, I've enjoyed 36 years on this lovely planet.  I'm pleased to report my health has been good, and I'm so blessed with a wonderful family!  I felt so very loved on my birthday! 

My kids and husband made me breakfast in bed!  I had toast, bacon, an over easy egg, a yogurt parfait, and water.  Then, when I got out of bed to start Zumba with the girls, I was surprised by all the decorations around the living room including crepe paper strung from one end to the other with other dangling strands spaced along it and a shiny gift bow at the end of each of them.  But the biggest surprise was the homemade confetti Amara lovingly made and threw right in front of me as I came out!

Lily is behind the camera.  Picture is blurry, but Amara is bringing back my breakfast tray and she and Lily were getting set up to surprise me with confetti.
 Then, as if I hadn't already had enough surprises (which, by the way, there's never enough surprises), my mom comes waltzing in the door announcing she had taken the day off work and wanted to take me out to lunch out on the Wasatch Front.  So, since that's a couple hours drive away, we had to leave right away so we could eat and then be back before dinnertime.  I considered it.  It was a long drive, but I honestly had no other plans other than doing school with the girls, so we just cancelled that and hopped in the car!  I decided to eat in Provo at Sam Hawk Korean Restaurant. 
 During the drive out there, we contacted Micah and April to see if they could meet us for lunch, and we were so pleased that they both were able to come.  April even brought me a box of my favorite chocolates, Merci.

Amara is getting to be quite the artist.  She drew this frog on the napkin at the restaurant. 
 I've been craving Korean food for some time.  My sister-in-law, Missy, keeps inspiring my taste buds with her Facebook posts of the Korean goodness she gets to eat far more often than I do.
Side dishes: kimchi, spicy cucumber salad, sesame bean sprouts, sweet beans, braised potatoes. rice
 The restaurant is known online for it's good food, but also it's slow service at times.  I figured a weekday lunch would be good timing and hopefully they wouldn't be too slow because I knew my brother had to get back to work.  Neither of my kids seemed to be huge supporters of my choice to have Korean food for lunch, but I think I made both of them believers after having tried it.  Amara particularly liked the noodles.  Lily liked the pork bulgogi served with leaves of lettuce to wrap it.


Pork bulgogi

Spicy Fusion Chicken Kalbi with rolls of chewy rice cake, just a little spicy.  Perfect.

Beef Bulgogi
 We didn't have to wait too long before the side dishes came out (one of my favorite things about Korean food).  The dishes seemed to come out one at a time.  They would bring out one dish, then it seemed they would go cook the next one and bring it out, then they would go back and cook the next one and bring it out.  It almost seemed like a 5 course dinner the way they did things.  April ordered soup for her and Tommy and it ended up being the last thing that came out.
Tommy eating soup.  I love watching him eat.  And I love that he LOVES soup.
 We were all very pleased with our food and the company was priceless.  When we finished, we went to the Asian market so we (I) could stock up on Kimchi!  And of course, we ended up stocking up on a bit more than Kimchi.  I found Vietnamese Lemongrass Salad dressing (SO GOOD!), Pho bouillon cubes, wombok, lau lau, and kimchi dumplings (WHAT?  That's a thing!).  Amara bought her favorite little cookies called "Hello Panda."

Another little birthday blessing was the chance to hold my little nephew that always gives me smiles.  He's soooo precious!

And, I think I'll note here that this winter has been remarkably dry and warm.  It made it easy for us to travel and make this impromptu trip.
Amara snapped our picture right outside the Asian market.
Then our 2 hours were up and we had to get back home, after all, we had sushi from the store awaiting us for dinner.  When I got home, there was a bouquet of gerber daisies waiting for me with a delicious chocolate bar with mango bits.  Another surprise!  And this one from my dear, loving husband.  I felt so bad leaving him having to work while I went out on the town for a day of fun, but he didn't see it that way.  He was just happy for me and glad that I got to have fun on my birthday.  He's really the best!

I was looking forward to my birthday dinner the night before, but it actually was a bit dried out and hard being a day old on my birthday (sushi is really best fresh).  It still tasted good, but after such a flavorful and filling lunch, dinner didn't need to be amazing.  We were all still so full that we really only ate a little of the sushi.  I ended up giving the rest to my neighbors.

Earlier, I had found a recipe in a cookbook I got from the library (Six Sisters' Stuff Desserts) for No bake Nutella Cheesecake.  It had a chocolate cookie crust, a thick nutella-cream cheese filling and a rich ganache layer on top.  It was delicious.  It was also so very hard to eat because I was still full from lunch.  I only had a couple bites, but it was all I needed.  It was perfect.

The next day as I went on visits with the Relief Society presidency I got to take home my birthday gift, a sweet little rice bag I can use as a heat pack or an ice pack.  These are what the Relief Society president has made to give out to everyone for their birthdays.  I'm a huge fan, they're so cute and perfect.  She also gave me a a little angel figurine made by Willow Tree.  I have a small collection of those and I do love them.  It was such a sweet and thoughtful gift.

So, all in all this birthday was full of wonderful surprises and I thank all my family and friends for making it so special! 

Monday, January 22, 2018

RS Activity: Stop the Bleed

I'm the new 1st counselor in the Relief Society presidency of the Ballard North Ward serving with Marne Tucker (president), Melinda Hicken (2nd counselor), and Leslie Thorne (Secretary).  With this new calling comes new responsibilities, one of which is the weekday Relief Society meetings.  FUN! 

The first few activities were already planned, including January's activity- Stop the Bleed.  We had Bro. Ken Womack (RN, Paramedic) come and teach us about how to control bleeding in emergency situations and when and how to use a tourniquet. 

I used smilebox to create this flyer.
We provided a children's class and invited spouses/ friends to attend.  The children's class was in the primary room and my two sweet daughters agreed to be babysitters.  We set up a TV with Charlotte's Web playing, had a few games available (twister, candyland, twister hopscotch), and a coloring table.  I sent around a sign-up sheet in the Young Women's class on Sunday for more babysitters, but no one signed up.  However, I was told by Sis. Phelps that her 2 daughters would be there to help.  Sure enough, when 7:00pm rolled around, those two girls joined my 2 girls to babysit, and I'm glad they were there.  We had 6 kids ages 1, 3, 3, 6, 10, & 10.  According to Lily, one child was an escape artist who thought it was a game to leave the room.  One of the 10 year olds and his brother, a 6 year old, kept leaving the room, too, but not as a game, just to wander the halls.  So, these sweet babysitters had their hands full.  The one-year-old thought it was hilarious to watch the kids run around the classroom (playing tag) and she would laugh really hard every time a child passed her.

While all that action was happening in the Primary room, we were busy having a very informative evening in the gym where we set up a classroom.  We had 31 people in attendance, which is a really great turn out for us.  As people came, they could grab a plate of munchies (we did a munchies potluck), and find a seat. 

At each seat, we had a bottle of water, writing utensil, a short pop quiz they could fill out while they waited to begin.

Bro. Womack had set up a TV hooked up to his laptop with a Power Point presentation.  He also had a table at the front with some examples of tourniquets, trauma kit, and props for demonstration.

After his training, we had a table set up at the back of the gym for people to put together their own simple trauma kit that they could keep at home or in their car or emergency kits.  It included a dishtowel, scissors, gloves, 2 disposable tourniquets, and 2 packs of gauze all packed into a gallon-sized ziptop bag.

It was a fun and successful evening.  I'm looking forward to more classes like this!

I made sure our babysitters knew we really appreciated their help and gave them a little treat as a thank you.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


This is my week for leading scriptures and family home evening.  On Sunday I chose to read a story about kindness from the January 2018 Ensign called "Letting Go of Contention."  It spoke of serving those who have done you wrong and we discussed how contention affects our access to God's spirit in our lives and the importance of doing all we can to welcome the holy ghost in our lives.  Sometimes that means doing hard things like forgiving those that don't deserve it and serving those we don't like, and letting go of contentious feelings. 

For FHE, I continued with the kindness theme and focused on Mosiah 4:30, the admonition to watch our thoughts, words, deeds, and keep the commandments.  I focused on the impact that unkind thoughts, words, and actions actually has.  We watched Vernie DeMille's (Steve's cousin's wife) 10 minute Youtube video about the "Rice Experiment" and how cooked rice responded to kind words and unkind words over a 2 week period.  

The findings were astonishing and the lesson was clear that our negative words can and do more damage than we realize.  We decided to make rice and do our own rice experiment for a couple weeks.  As per Steve's idea, we'll be putting our findings together in a video.  With the leftover rice we cooked for the experiment, we made a maple rice pudding for dessert and it was super yummy!  Everyone loved it, except mom who wouldn't even try it because she hates rice pudding so much.  
Maple Rice Pudding 
1 1/2 c cooked rice
1 1/2 c. milk
1 egg beaten
1/3 c real maple syrup
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
  1. Combine rice and milk in saucepan and stir over med-hi heat until thick and creamy (15 minutes or so).  
  2. Beat together egg and syrup well and slowly add to the thickened rice-milk mixture while stirring vigorously so it tempers the egg.  Cook another 3 minutes on med heat while stirring.  
  3. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.

For tonight's scriptures, continuing with my kindness theme, I read a story from the New Era about a girl who was able to console her sister who was sad about not being asked to dance by anyone at her 9th grade dance.

With the recent passing of our prophet, Thomas S. Monson, I felt the strongest message I learned from him was to just be kind to everyone, ourselves included.  I loved our prophet and I'm glad I could watch his funeral broadcast on the internet. 

Today, President Russell M. Nelson became our new president of the church.  I look forward to his service.  There's been so much change in the church for me lately since I was released a month ago as secretary of the relief society and then put in as the first counselor over weekday relief society meetings.  Then, they changed the curriculum for relief society and the mode in which we teach implemented this month.  Also implemented this month, they changed the visiting teaching program to having sisters rely fully on the spirit to guide their watch care and ministry.  And now we have a new prophet.  I'm honestly incredibly excited for all these changes and a little overwhelmed trying to implement everything and feeling like I'm not doing it right yet.  I know that's my conscience letting me know I need to let God in more, counsel with Him more, listen for Him more if I am to really take this responsibility I've been handed where He wants it to go.  So I'm gonna try my best. I love my Savior and my Heavenly Father and I'm grateful for the many blessings they've bestowed upon me and my family.  This is a beautiful time to be alive with much amazing good going on including the preparations for the coming of Jesus, something we are privileged to take part in.  

Lily's FHE - God's Army

Remember God's Army?  It came out when I was a teenager and I realized the other day when I saw a clip from the movie that my kids hadn't ever seen it.  So, we got a free trial for the streaming of Living Scriptures movies and watched it for Lily's family night.  It brought back memories to Steve, me, and my mom of when we first saw it, the controversies associated with it, and the way it brought Steve back to the memories of his own mission life.  We had a nice discussion after the movie as we adults walked down memory lane and the kids listened to our stories. Steve told about how he had a companion that went home early from his mission.  Our kids love hearing their dad's stories.  He also reminisced how he and his companion set up an appointment with some girls only to give their info to the sister missionaries and have them go see them, just like what happened in the movie.

It was good to see it again, but now I'm a little nervous about having to cancel with Living Scriptures.  Steve said they are known for making cancellation a royal pain.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Minute to Win It Family Home Evening

Amara was in charge of family home evening this week, but since we were traveling home on Monday (New Years Day), she didn't have a chance to take her turn.  She was grumbling at the dinner table about how she always gets skipped, which is not the case, but it has happened occasionally.  I let her know that she was more than welcome to do her family night tomorrow (Tuesday), which is what I believe she really wanted to hear without having to ask.  A smile spread across her face and she let us know that she has a great idea for the activity- minute to win it games!  Amara's FHE planning often, if not always, begins with an idea for the activity, and I must say, I always enjoy it.  I reminded her that she needs to remember to plan to teach us something as well, which she assured me she would.

So, after grandma got home from work and ate, we began family night.  Amara had pulled the piano bench into the center of the room, there was a plate with Reeses Pieces on it and another empty plate sitting 5 feet away on a tall Christmas tin.  She handed us each a straw, and one by one we took turns.  She would turn over the minute sand timer and the goal was to transfer 5 candies from the plate to the other plate across the room using only the straw to create enough suction to move the candy.  Steve went first and he exceeded the goal and we laughed at him because he snorted his way through.  Little did we know that he did awesome compared to what all the rest of us were about to do.  I was second to last and I barely got 2 on the plate.  It was way harder than I had anticipated.  I was laughing because of how shocked I was at the difficulty.  P.S. I got last place.

The other game Amara prepared was she gave us a popsicle stick and we had to bite on one end and then stack 7 dice on the other end.  It was also challenging because you had to make it all the way through the full minute for the stacked dice to count.  If you dropped it,  you could start over.  Steve did really well, again, but at the last second, the dice all came crashing down.  He thought we should've changed the rules.

After the games Amara admitted she couldn't think of any lesson related to the games and that the point of this family night was to have fun! "So... I guess we could just read some scriptures." she said.

Steve piped in, "I know how we can relate it!"  Steve said that in life sometimes we're dealt a difficult task, but it is important to keep going, and try again when you fail.  Ultimately, we've got to endure to the end if we're going to "win."  I told about how when I began the candy transfer game and discovered the difficulty of it for myself, I had to learn to just keep going because I kept failing.

Jesus gives us endless chances to get up keep going when we fail, as long as we're willing to keep trying.  I also think it's important to try and not get too discouraged when things don't go our way or we don't perform our best, we need to just pick up our candy and keep trying.  Also, comparing our best to someone else's best is a welcome mat for disappointment.  We need to try OUR best and the Lord will make up the rest! 

Bet you didn't know how spiritually enlightening minute-to-win-it games could be!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Christmas Highlights 2017 (back-dated)


As per our children's request, we skipped some of the Christmas festivities with our extended families to enjoy Christmas in our own beds and at our own home this year.  We did miss out on some things, but there really is nothing like a quiet Christmas morning with your own little family, something we haven't really done very much of.  It was absolutely wonderful. 

Christmas Eve was on a Sunday, and church services consisted of just sacrament meeting.  One awesome thing was we had our Christmas Eve dinner provided for us by Jason Phelps.  At our last ward auction, my mom bought a smoked turkey from him, and he figured this would be a good day to deliver on that.  It sure did not disappoint!  There was flavor all throughout it!  I think he may have actually injected it or brined it.  Anyway, we threw together a few sides to accompany that giant turkey he made.  We had so many leftovers, we decided to freeze half the turkey for later.

Amara and I planned what sounded like a fun Christmas Eve.  After dinner, we played some board games as a family at the table while enjoying a hot cocoa bar. 

The girls then opened their pajama gift and got showered up so they could be all ready for bed.  This year they got matching hogwarts pajamas.

 Then we piled in the car barefooted and with blankets and headed out to look at Christmas lights.  We ended up driving to a Christmas house that you can walk through their yard and enjoy their setups.  Since the kids were barefoot, my mom gave Lily her boots, she took my slip on shoes, and since Steve was still recovering from his appendectomy, my mom gave Amara a piggyback ride.  I stayed in the car because I had already seen all those lights a few days previous when Amara and I went there for a fundraiser for a family that had lost their baby girl to an accidental shooting.  It was so tragic and I'm glad Amara and I got to go and give a little money to help them at this time.

When we got home it was time for scriptures and prayers, and then the kids and grandma went to bed while Steve and I snuggled on the couch and watched an old movie with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire called, Holiday Inn.  It was a cute movie, and we showed it to the girls the next day.

Santa came and brought some fun things including a cat bed for Smokey!

It was a pleasure to witness the joy of giving as Amara had Lily open the gift she had carefully selected and purchased online for her.  Both of them were absolutely beaming and they gave eachother the sweetest hug afterward.

Amara also made Steve a Christmas tree out of tape and money!

Steve and I surprised the girls by purchasing something VERY amazing in the game, Star Stables.  They both love that game and look forward to playing it almost everyday.  We got them 5000 star coins and a silver mist fox that runs beside their horse.  Before they could only get 100 star coins per week and you need those coins in order to buy tack and other horses, so we basically gave them a pony for Christmas, albeit virtual.  They really did end up purchasing a pony!

Our Christmas at home was magical and I'm so glad we stayed and did that.  We did have time in the following days to go spend time with family, which was also very nice. 

Something fun we got for Steve's mom was a lap blanket customized with a picture Steve took of one of her cherished peace roses she grows in the front yard and little poems he wrote.

We also gave my dad and my brother a cookbook of Lauret Christmas Food (not pictured).  Steve took the photos from last year's Christmas dinner and I compiled the recipes into smilebox .jpgs and created the photo book using Google photos.

We've been abundantly blessed to be able to carry on such fun and memorable traditions.  I loved the glitter and giving of the season, and I loved the peace and joy of remembering our Savior and all He has done for us.  Christmas is still in my heart today (Jan. 19, 2018) and my tree is still up and I haven't felt like taking it down quite yet.  I'm still enjoying it and the glow of the lights. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Jesus Forgives Sins

Merry Christmas!  It is only 3 days until we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, and in an effort to remember Him this season, our family has been trying to #LIGHTtheWORLD, just as Jesus would have done if he were on this earth.

Today I share my favorite teaching of Jesus.  Jesus forgives sins.  This is a truth that if humankind embraced, there could be so much more hope and healing in this world.  Sin is a real thing and it has real consequences, and there is not one person on this earth who is without sin.  I like the quote by David A. Bednar that says, "Guilt is to the soul as pain is to the body."  Because we all make wrong choices, we all have carried the burdens of guilt, heartache, loneliness, regret, and shame.  Untrue are the misconceptions that time will forgive sins.  Suppressing our feelings doesn't heal our wounded soul.  Only Jesus has the power to do that, and he is ready and willing to take our sins and all the burdens that come with them as soon as we are willing repent, ask and change.  What a beautiful teaching and life-altering truth.

I have felt the joy that comes from the forgiveness of sins.  I hope you too will find time this holiday season to remember Jesus and his teachings and implement them into your life.  I know that doing so will bring you joy as it has for me!

I love you all!  Merry Christmas!