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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Chore Callings in the Christensen Kingdom

Actual picture of the excitement and anticipation of the "big surprise" mom and dad were about to reveal.


We implemented a truly life-changing chore system.  It took a bunch of creativity, but luckily in this household, that is not on short supply.  I bet you're wondering how all this came about.  Well, it went something like this.

So, Steve and I talked about how we were doing a swell job of ignoring the growing issue in our home of chore meltdowns.  It shouldn't have to be this hard!  I've seen kids on TV who wake up before dawn cracks and they are stoking the fire and milking the cow with not a word of complaint.  After a couple hours of chores under their belts, they mosey in for breakfast with smiles on their faces and energy in their souls ready to begin their mile-long walk to school. Why wasn't that happening in my home?

Is it because we don't have cows to milk or a fire to stoke or a mile-long walk to school?  I think so.  So, it was time to come up with some cows to milk and fires to stoke.  A cow on our property would be impractical, especially a milk cow since we only go through about a gallon of milk per week, so I looked around and lo and behold, there was a floor to be swept, dishes to be done, books laying on the ground, shoes in the middle of the entry, and various half-finished projects strewn on every flat surface we owned.  "I think I found our cow." I thought to myself as the momentum began to build in my mind.  We would have a system of chores and we would commit to it as an entire family and it was going to be epic!

I got to work creating what I deemed a fair share of the chores.  I divided them into areas of the home and I created a sheet so we could remember what chores were ours.  Steve goes to work every week day, that's his chore.  On the weekend he is in charge of helping one of his children with their Saturday responsibilities, this way he gets some bonding time doing hard work with his kids, and he also can help train them on what a good job looks like.  
After I got everything organized and typed up, Steve and I talked it over and came up with a way to present it to everyone.  We called a family meeting on Saturday morning, which piqued everyone's curiosity, and we made sure to keep things secret so we could reveal it as a big surprise.  We brought out our book-safe and in it contained 4 small rolled-up scrolls of paper.  This was very official and everyone could tell we meant business!  Amara could hardly contain herself.  She couldn't wait to see what was on those scrolls!  Lily looked less than impressed, I think that's because she saw me printing our old chore prize sheet earlier that morning, so she had a clue-in on what this might be.

So, we let Amara go first.  She took a scroll and read, "You are hereby called to serve in the washroom region of the Christensen Kingdom..." She couldn't finish.  Steve and I began cheering loudly with much excitement for her.  She paused and realized this "surprise," was somewhat disappointing. Her smile turned from genuine to fake in about .3 seconds.   She went on to read, "You are assigned to labor in this region for this month.  Your responsibilies will include..." and it went on describing her chore mission.  She had to try hard to keep the tears from breaking from her eyes, but she accepted her call with the best attitude she could muster.  We then took the book of scrolls around to Lily, grandma, and me (Steve actually read mine because I was video recording this), and we each one by one read our calls aloud and cheered for one another.  

When all the calls were issued, we answered questions and laid out our expectations.  We then announced the opening of the Christensen Kingdom Store.  It is open on the 15th and last day of each month.  As daily chores are done, gold tallies are earned and may be spent on any number of goods at our store.  The kids helped come up with the store prizes themselves several months ago (when we tried a different chore system that was based online.  That worked for a whole week). We have our gold tally tracker and store prize sheets hung up on our wall in the kitchen.

We started that day, so everyone got to work on their Saturday chores and did a phenomenal job cleaning!  I am happy to report that this system has been in effect for over a month now and it has been amazing.  My kids know their responsibilities for the day, and they do them because if they put it off, it's more work for them and no gold. 

The first store opening was a hit.  Amara purchased a "candy certificate" for next time we were at the store, and a snow cone at the Soda Shack.  These are more special than before because we also have implemented a no sweets policy in our home unless it's a holiday.  Treats served at birthday parties or mutual are fine to eat a serving when you're there, but treats in our home are reserved for special occasions now.  We have even packed away the sugary sweets into a tote so they wouldn't be tempting. 

Lily decided to save her gold tallies so she could accumulate enough for some new cute boots.

Another win is the fact that our house is definitely cleaner and my load has been lifted.  I'm also really proud of my kids for doing housework.  It's building their character whether they realize it or not.  It warms my heart to walk into my bathroom and smell the lingering scent of clorox wipes and see Steve's pajama pants neatly folded on his hamper.  I melt when I grab a pan from the dishrack and it shines my smile back at me or I open the microwave and it's clean.  But what really makes me happy is seeing my family willing to work together to make our home a happier one. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Lani's 37th Birthday

Cinnamon toast, scrambled eggs with ketchup smiley face, and a mandrin orange
 Guys!  I was spoiled on my birthday.  My sweet Amara made me breakfast in "bed," but since I was already up and doing my scripture study in the office, she brought it to me there.
Amara and I with the yummy breakfast

Lily and I
 The girls decorated the living room for me!  Amara also surprised me with a shower of confetti as I walked out to start doing Zumba.
 Then my mom and girls joined me for Zumba-ing!
 My mom took me out to lunch.  I tried to eat light because I knew we were going out to eat for dinner.  Well even with my "light" eating I was still full when dinner came around.  So, instead of going somewhere nicer in Vernal, I opted to stay close and eat at China Star.

I ate maybe 2 bites and was so done.  I took the rest home for lunch the next day.

I saved a corner of my stomach for a bite of Amara's cake she had been working on all afternoon.  We assembled it together when we got home.  It was a triple layer red velvet cake with chocolate chips in it, and the middle layer was basically a cheesecake (cream cheese, whip cream, vanilla pudding), and the whole thing was covered in fudge frosting.

 She decorated it so cute just for me!

See the yummy layers?  Also, see the tired Steve in the background?
 We ended the night with big slices of cake and a couple games of Kingdomino, a fun game we got for Christmas from Micah and Mandy's family.
The relief society presidency also took me to lunch for my birthday on a different day. We went to a new place called "High Country Pizza."  I had a calzone and enjoyed the company of my fellow sisters I serve with.  The food was good, too.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

April's Weekend Visit

I'm using an annoying app to type this on my phone. 

It's going to post all these pictures in random order, so oh well.

I just wanted to remember forever that my sister came to visit us last week when Devon had a Friday off from school. They arrived around 5:30 pm on Thursday. We ate April's favorite, Hawaiian haystacks, for dinner.

April slept on the couch and had her boys share a room together.  When we woke up the next morning, they joined us for some Zumba!

We broke in my brand new Christmas gift, the Bosch mixer, to make April's famous chocolate chip cookies!

We decided to take them to the Win-on Buffet in Vernal for lunch, which was awesome! Amara didn't want to go out to eat, so she stayed home and babysat Bridger.  That's right. My baby is babysitting. Excuse me while I check into the geriatric ward...

The buffet was good stuff! Devon was excited to see jello there. He had 3 plates of food, each with a serving of jello.  He also likes the chocolate pudding and beef  and broccoli. Tommy was a good eater too, eating an entire plate of sushi, then dessert. When I asked him what I should go get for Lily, he said, "hot dog, soup, and a marshmellow." The sushi was really good, by the way.

We took them to Gale's bookstore before we headed back home.

Later in the afternoon we hit up the bread store up the street. April's favorite! It sells bread for only 50 cents a loaf!

Dinner we decided to order from Domino's Pizza. (What! A brand new restaurant in Roosevelt!) We made an outing of it by piling everyone in April's truck and going through the drive through, which was so cool they even had that because it was cold, foggy, and snowy outside. 

The pizza was good, but the highlight of the evening was when Steve made an appearance wielding his Christmas gift, an Air Cannon. He got the kids running and ducking around the room, challenging him to try and hit them.  My favorite was watching Tommy's straight hair puff up when he'd get hot with the air in the face. Bridger was sitting in his high chair and was an easy target. He thought it was pretty fun and funny to get hit with air!

All in all, it was a really enjoyable time, albeit too short. They ended up leaving at 7am in the cold and fog the next morning.  We love you guys! Come back soon!

Baby Shower Filipino Style

Okay I'm not sure if this is truly a Filipino style baby shower, because I have never been to a baby shower in the Philippines, but seeing as this shower was attended by 89 percent Filipinos, I'm gonna make that judgement call.

My friend Cris Emmett is pregnant and we are all very happy for her. She has been trying for 9 years to have a baby, and she and her husband are now blessed to be pregnant with a baby boy.  She invited me and my mom to her baby shower. My mom couldn't make it, so I went alone. It was fun to see a lot of the Filipinos that I usually see at Erlinda and Leandro's house. They were all talking Filipino to each other and I couldn't understand a word. They also each brought a dish of food and all their kids. Some brought their husbands as well. I did not know it was a family affair or that we should bring food, but I didn't feel too awkward about that. I would have if I had been told, but seeing as I had no idea I won't hold myself accountable. The only uncomfortable part was feeling left out of the conversations all around me. When people would remember that I was around they would start speaking English but it quickly reverted back into Filipino. It was ok though, I still enjoyed the food and company because I knew I was among friends.

When it was time to eat, there was quite the spread! There was salad, pizza, homemade rolls, Filipino spaghetti, fried Chicken, roast pork, pork adobo with potatoes, lumpia, flan, cassava, and sugar cookies. They were probably about 15 adults and 10 kids. We ate and ate and ate. It was fun for me to watch the little children get spaghetti all over their faces and dig into their pizza and spill their sodas, and scream bloody murder when the cute little house dog would come near them.  It made me wish my family had come. I did get a chance to sneak off to speak with other English speakers and enjoy some conversation with them.

Then we played games. They gave us a baby rattle with some ribbon tied around it for us to wear as a necklace. We were given the instructions to take another person's necklace if they said the word baby. The person with the most necklaces at the end got a grand prize. I did not win, one of the kids did and I think they had five or six necklaces. However, I didn't lose either. I kept my necklace the whole time, so I got to choose a treat from the candy jar. I got peanut butter cookies.

The other game we played was a passing game using straws in our mouths and a pacifier that had a ring on it. I did not win that game either. Apparently we were all making funny faces trying to concentrate on getting the pacifier on our straw. 

We opened gifts when the games were done.Then we had cake, as if I wasn't already stuffed silly! I made sure to take a selfie with my friend Cris before I left. Her husband did not let me leave without a giant plate of food that he dished up for my husband. It was a wonderful time.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

A Quick Christmas Visit from My Dad and Debby

Dad, Deb, and Lily and Amara with all their gifts
It was the day after Christmas.  Dad and Debby were on their way to a wedding for Debby's niece in Colorado, and would be passing by my neck of the woods.  Well, you can imagine that I didn't want that opportunity to pass by without seeing them!  They came bearing gifts galore for our girls.  Debby said, "I may have gotten a few more for your girls this year than usual."  It's just they don't get to see us as often, so the gifts pile up.

I wish I had a photo of all the gifts they opened.  It was so fun having a second Christmas morning with the girls getting a whole new wardrobe with the cute finds Debby is known for. 
Just trying out a new "portrait" setting on my phone camera
 They couldn't stay long, but we were able to visit a minute as they ate breakfast with us.  We served them "stacked eggs." It was a food network recipe I read about last year sometime, where you take scrambled eggs, stack them on a slice of toast, pour homemade cheese sauce over the top, then stack on your choice of toppings.  Our toppings included saute'ed peppers and onions, sour cream, grated cheese, salsa, sliced green onions.  We also had some fruits they could grab too.

Before they left, the girls put on one of the outfits they got and modeled them for grandma and grandpa.  Lily just loved this grey shirt she got. She's grown out of so many of her clothes this past year.  She has definitely hit a growth spurt.
Lily's favorite shirt
We're so thankful for the gifts and for the wonderful gift of time we got to share with my dad and Deb!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve

Both my girls shared with me their fun ideas for Christmas Eve.  They came up with them individually on their own and what was funny was that their plans were almost identical!  Their lists both looked like a good plan to me, so we planned on it, but we didn't stick to the plan completely. 

We did end up watching a Christmas movie, A Christmas Carol, and having game night, hot cocoa, open pjs, and looking at Christmas lights.  I love looking at the Christmas lights, it's something my family always did on Christmas Eve when I was growing up.  We often drove all the way to Osmond Lane in Provo because everyone put up lights, but as the years went on, more and more cars had the same idea so it got crowded, and Osmond Lane started putting up less and less.  I don't think it's the same anymore.  With my own little family, we now pile in our van and have 2 places we like to go, the "Christmas House" on North Crescent Road (also known as the Halloween House), and "the street by the Golf Course," which is a long cul-de-sac that displays the Christmas story from the Bible on little signs in front of each house.  We each take turns reading the signs, and it's so nice to read the real Christmas story on Christmas Eve.

Here's some PJ pictures of my cute kids!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Garden Goodness From This Year

Selfie with prize-sized carrot and golden beet! 
 This post is a compilation of pictures that represent what our garden was like this past year.  We planted in late May, let things grow, then harvested.
A huge parsnip root with lots of legs I pulled off when washing it

Roasted red and purple potatoes, roma tomatoes, and golden-zebra and green zucchini

Amara's selfie with her parsnip soup and rolls

Parsnip soup and rolls
We canned the following:
Tomato Juice
Grandma Edna's Dill pickles
Pints of Tomatoes
Pickled Beets
Dilly Beans
Mrs. Wages Salsa
Quarts of Whole Tomatoes

We froze the following:
Sliced Yellow Zebra Zucchini
Cubes of Tomato Paste
Blanched Aspabroc
Blanched Chard
Sliced Boiled Beets
Cinnamon Zucchini Muffin batter (ready to bake in individual cups)
Mini Zucchini bread loaves (some whole wheat, some white flour)
Sliced Zucchini mix
Pole beans
Sliced Peppers and onions (I bought the onions at the store)
When I felt done preserving for the season, I laid out all the jars and frozen veggies for their own picture.
 I borrowed a steam juicer and tried it for the tomato juice.  It sure makes a very clear liquid.  I'm glad I only borrowed it and didn't purchase one because after having tried it, I prefer the other method outlined in the Ball Blue Book.  It's more efficient and even though the juice is cloudy-red, I kinda like that.
Amara helping drain the juice from the steamer into the pot.

Clear tomato juice

I made it redder by blending up the tomatoes and straining the remaining juice.

Tomato juice coming to temperature

One of our 20 pound watermelons!

More melons!  We love gifting them to neighbors and friends.

After our big end of harvest picking- We worked for an hour picking and picking.

We grew our cabbage under the cover of screens, but when we were gone, the wind blew and there were gaps in the screens where bugs got in and feasted.  Do you see the cabbage worm on the screen?  The cabbage bed was a failure this year.  I think we got 1 cabbage out of the 20 or so we planted.

Steve inspecting a little cabbage head for bugs

Me pulling off and disposing of the large outer leaves of infested cabbage.

Lamenting the failed cabbages.  Actually, more like trying to get the motivation to clean that bed out.  We had flat dutch and golden acre cabbage, Tronchuda and purple oblong cabbage, purple brussel sprouts, and aspabroc (the only thing we really got to harvest)

Another view of the cabbage bed.  It was covered in netting, but also shade ag-fabric that keeps the soil cool in the summer since these crops like that.  The plants loved it I think because they grew well. The aphids and cabbage moths were also loving it because I think they were protected from predators and they flourished as well. 

A box of tomatoes we filled

Steve standing by the pole beans and cucumbers we tried growing up the trellis.  The pole beans were volunteer plants from last year.

This fish friend likes to party with the chard and parsnips.

This is what it looks like when parsnips go to seed.  Those were also volunteers from last year.

Our lovely pepper bed.  Growing sweet bell peppers of all colors, Yolo peppers, cherry, and corbaci, and hot jalapenos.

Amara picking peppers

Me donning the sun-stay-away look.  You'll notice me wearing a kitchen towel around my neck with a black sensor on it.  That was part of a study Amara and I were in.  The sensor measures our UVray exposure.  I was trying to protect my skin from the harmful sun.

She's finding all kinds of pretty peppers.


Daddy trying some peppers

He liked the look of the purple bells.

The hideous cabbage

Here you can see a little head of purple cabbage which we did pick, but after discarding the outer leaves, it was only about the size of a softball.

Can you find the peppers?

Parsnips and chard grew at the end of the pepper bed.

Tomatoes up close

Steve and I gathering in the tomatoes

Yes, they are difficult to get sometimes.  This is why the ideal size for a row/bed is 3 feet wide, so you can reach the middle when it's time to harvest.  P.S. someone needs to invent some gardening pants that are sturdy like jeans in the backside and knees, yet breathable and bendable and stay up when you're constantly bending over.

Our potatoes plants were starting to die off.  It would've been the perfect time to harvest them, but we didn't because we were exhausted with the other harvesting.  Plus potatoes can wait as long as the ground doesn't freeze.  Unfortunately our ground did freeze before we harvested very many, but we got about half of them that were still good.

A wider look at the garden with the melons we harvested.

2 types of melons- Dixie Queen and Sugar Baby

This is the actual melon bed.  We have 8 hills of melons or squash.  We planted some marigolds as they were supposed to deter squash bugs.  I don't think they deterred enough.  We sill had to spray the pests frequently with dishsoap solution and I even used a more persistent pesticide this year since we were away from the garden for weeks at a time.

Steve finding ready tomatoes

Me finding ready tomatoes.  The round ones are Rutgers.  The oblong are Romas.

Some of Amara's pickings of mini tomatoes and cucumbers

Mom joined us in our gardening efforts.

Look at the happy beans!  Too bad my family isn't really big into green beans.  I like them though.

  I'm picking a few beets.  That bed between my mom and I is planted with beets on one end and carrots on the other.  We would've planted more carrots, but we ran out of seeds, so we only had a little patch.  Usually I have several pounds of carrots that take up a large portion of our fridge and last until February or March, but not this year.  We ran out in November.  The beets and the carrots were big and beautiful.  Amara did a great job spacing the seeds out during planting so they had room to grow.
I made golden raisins for the first time, thanks to my friend Marne who gave us a large sack of homegrown grapes!

Amara holding her prize-sized strawberry

I read on An Oregon Cottage blog about preserving zucchini as muffin batter in your freezer.  It works wonderfully!  I wish I had done more!
Zucchini muffin batter

Veggies all from our garden, including the purple chive blossoms in the ranch

A simple type of open faced grilled cheese with broccoli (aspabroc from our garden)

Cabbage and carrot slaw and watermelon also from the garden!

 One of our harvests from this summer after the tomatoes started to get red.  I could go out once a week and bring in a full, heavy basket of veggies.


Look how huge that purple radish got!
 Apparently our apple tree gave us apples this year.  These were little, but ready in July!

 There were so many hornets all over the apples and that tree that I didn't really dare get too close.  Most of the apples were eaten by them.
And those are the photos we took throughout the summer/fall of our beautiful garden.  We were blessed and were able to gift garden freshness to friends and neighbors, which we love.