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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Handy Hanger Invention

There was an invention convention at the school and Lily took 3rd place in the 2nd grade! Yay for Lily!!!

Her "Handy Hanger" solves the problem she has of having people step on and mess up the clothes she lays out on the floor for the next day. She simply clips her clothes to her creative cardboard mannequin and hangs it from a hook on her wall.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Our Valentine's Day was a lot of fun.  Our family spent the day wearing ourselves out at school parties.  Then eating an early dinner at the local Chinese restaurant. 

Lily and Amara and Steve came home with loads of candy to accompany their valentines.  When I was a kid, you counted yourself lucky to get a few conversation hearts stuffed into an envelope with your valentine.  And those years that I actually gave out conversation hearts, I remember being very particular about which conversation heart went to which student in my class.  I would about die of embarrassment if one of the boys in my class got the heart that said "u r cute" or "call me."  In fact, sometimes it was best to just leave the conversation hearts out of the envelopes I gave to the boys.  But then again, I would feel guilty that they would feel bad that I left them out.  So everyone got something and I spent probably an hour, maybe two, perfecting the valentines.  This year, my girls didn't even write any names on the valentines they gave, except who it was from, as per teacher request.  And they got just as much candy as on Halloween.  My!  How times have changed.

I ran a photo-booth for Steve's class party.  Everyone had a blast and his party went off without a hitch.  Here's some of the photos via smilebox slideshow.

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Our Poets at Poetry Out Loud

As a mother, I'm allowed to require my kids to do things that they may not want to do but I know will be good for them.  The Poetry Out Loud contest at their school just happened to be one of those things.  I wanted them to expand their minds by memorizing some poetry and give them the chance to break out of their comfort zone and speak in front of judges and other people.

I checked a poetry book out from our local library.  It was the only one left.  I had the girls pick a poem to memorize for their recitation.  Lily memorized 2, but decided to recite the shorter one.  Amara memorized the short one that Lily recited and another one that she liked.

They both did a wonderful job speaking in the microphone in front of the judges.  I'm a very proud mom.

Here are their poems they recited:

The Ball Game is Over
by Jack Prelutsky

The ball game is over, and here is the score:
They got 97, we got 94.

Baseball is fun, but it gives me the blues, 
To score 94 and still manage to lose.

The other poem Lily memorized, but didn't recite was this:

Eyeballs for Sale
by: Jack Prelutsky

Eyeballs for sale, fresh eyeballs for sale
Nutritious, delicious, not moldy or stale.
Eyeballs from Manticores, ogres and elves,
Fierce dragon eyeballs that cook by themselves.

Eyeballs served cold, eyeballs served hot.
If you like eyeballs, then this is the spot.
Ladle a glassful, a bowlful, or pail,
Eyeballs, fresh eyeballs, fresh eyeballs for sale!

And Amara recited this one.  I think she liked it because it had an amusing picture next to it of a running rabbit with it's tail on fire.

It's Hot Hot Hot
by Jack Prelutsky

It's hot hot hot the rabbit said
And truly that's too bad
This morning I was happy 
but I'm starting to get mad

I've lost my sense of humor
and there's nothing I find funny.
This weather's changed my attitude,
I'm now a hot cross bunny!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

21 Plus Ten.

Last month I got one year older and wiser too.  I turned 21 plus ten.  I could not have asked for a better birthday than my birthday this year.  I was totally spoiled.  I woke up at 6:30, and started my morning like any other- except when I was about to get out of bed, I was told by my husband that I needed to stay in bed and he was going to get the girls ready and take them to school.  Huh?  How are you going to bring Amara home after Kindergarten?  He told me, "I have pull-outs when Amara gets done, so I can run her home then."  Okay.  Sounds good.

Then a few minutes later...
Breakfast in bed!!!  Steve made me Eggs in Toast, Yummy tropical green smoothie, half a grapefruit, and carrot and celery sticks.  He made the eggs perfectly, over easy.  Then instead of leaving me, my whole family gathered on the bed and kept me company for 10 minutes or so while I ate.  It was probably the best breakfast in bed that I've ever had.  Then they took away my tray, gave me kisses and headed off to school.  I decided to stay in bed a few more minutes and finish reading my scriptures.  Then I would go watch some TV and do dishes and fold some laundry while I had the house to myself.  Just as I was about to get out of bed, I heard the garage door open and my husband's voice call out, "Hello?  Honey, I'm home!"

Huh?  Steve's home?  Something must be wrong. 
"I got a substitute and took the day off." 
No way!  Best gift he could've ever given me.  I know how much he detests finding a substitute and creating a day's worth of lesson plans for the sub, so it really meant a lot to me that he had planned that surprise and sacrificed for me.  The kids were at school, and I had the man I most adore to spend the morning with.

We went out to lunch, my choice.  I chose to go the the local grocery store and have the sushi that I've wanted to buy forever but could never justify paying close to $10 for a single roll of sushi.  It was perfect.  We got Amara from school and checked Lily out, so we could all go to lunch together.  It was yummy and fun.  Then we went to the local library and I checked out some new cookbooks to read, and everyone else got some books too.  Then we went to the family history library, since I got to do whatever I wanted, and I love going there.  Steve just read and the girls drew pictures while I researched for a couple hours.  Then we went to China Star for dinner.  Out to eat twice in one day- I told you I was spoiled.

Later that night, my mom and Tom came over and brought over a birthday cake.  Since I'm not eating sugar-laden foods, I just had one bite, but it was an awesome bite of pumpkin cake roll. 

Tom gave me a gift card to the grocery store so I could buy more of the sushi I love.  Mom gave me a really pretty plate that was bright green with polka-dots and whimsical flowers.  The girls both gave me drawings they made.

Amara's note to me

Lily's note to me

I went to bed feeling so very loved.  I got so many birthday wishes from friends and family over facebook and the phone.  Super spoiled, I know.

Then to add whip cream and cherries to top it all off, my sister and sister-in-law made the long trek up the canyon with their children to visit me that weekend.  I loved getting to see my loved ones and spend time with them.  I didn't get many pictures apparently, but my sister sent me some pics of the sushi dinner feast we made together in celebration of me. 

I never use this word, but it seems to fit~ that was an "Epic" Birthday!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Another Fun F.H.E.

Last night's family home evening was fun.  We took out this month's Friend magazine and read a story called "Three Milkshakes for Malachi."  Then we acted it out and video taped it.  Enjoy.

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Below is the story we read from the Friend magazine. 

Three Milk Shakes for Malachi

Be anxiously engaged in a good cause (D&C 58:27).
“Malachi came home from the hospital today,” Mom said. “Would you like to go see him?”
“Is he feeling better?” Cole asked.
“He’s doing well, but he’s not ready to play yet,” Mom replied. “Remember when you got your tonsils out?”
Cole nodded. He remembered how sore his throat felt and how difficult it was to swallow and talk. “Could we bring him something to help him feel better?”
“Great idea, Cole. Why don’t we get him a milk shake?”
They drove into town and bought a strawberry shake. Cole couldn’t wait to give it to his friend.
On the way to Malachi’s house, the cold treat made Cole’s fingers ache. He was glad when they pulled into Malachi’s sloped driveway.
Cole swung the car door open and jumped out. He didn’t realize how steep the driveway was, and his feet flew out from underneath him. His hands shot out to catch his fall. Splat! The shake sailed through the air and exploded all over the concrete.
Mom found him lying in a tangled heap, his shirt dripping with strawberry ice cream.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened,” Cole stammered. He picked up the empty cup and tried to scoop up some of the melting ice cream.
“It’s OK. It was an accident.” She helped him stand. “We’ll try again.”
They drove back to the ice-cream shop and ordered another shake. The drink was still cold in his hands, but Cole felt good bringing Malachi the treat.
When they got to Malachi’s, Cole carefully stepped out of the car. He slowly walked towards the house, skirting around the puddle of spilled milk shake. He was almost to the door when—Thud. The toe of his shoe caught on a crack in the sidewalk. Cole lurched forward, and the shake slipped from his hands and tumbled to the ground.
Cole squeezed his eyes shut. He didn’t even want to see the second spilled shake.
“What happened?” Mom asked. “Are you all right?”
“I fell again,” Cole said. He felt his face get hot, and his hands curled into tight fists. “I’m so clumsy!” Tears stung his eyes, and his voice wavered. “I just want to go home.”
Mom knelt beside him. “Cole, never be discouraged from doing a good thing. What about Malachi?” Cole thought about his friend and how sore his throat must be. A milk shake would really cheer him up. “Want to try again?” Mom asked.
Cole nodded. They drove to the ice-cream shop, bought another shake, and returned to Malachi’s house.
Cole walked carefully up the driveway. He passed both milk shake puddles and breathed a sigh of relief when he reached Malachi’s door. Mom smiled as she knocked.
Malachi’s mom opened the door. “Cole! I’m glad you came. Malachi was just asking when he could see you.”
Cole followed Malachi’s mom to the couch where Malachi was resting. Malachi smiled but didn’t talk.
“How’re you feeling?” Cole asked.
Malachi just shrugged.
Cole held out the milk shake. “I brought this for you,” he said.
Malachi sipped the shake and swallowed slowly. “It’s really good,” he whispered. “Thanks.”
“No problem,” Cole said. His hands were cold, but his heart felt warm knowing he hadn’t given up.
A girl in my class broke her ankle. During recess, I helped her walk outside and sit on a bench since she couldn’t play. I decided to sit with her all during recess so she wouldn’t be alone. I felt happy after I helped her.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

New Years Day Food Competition

Bear with me as I attempt to catch up on blogging.  Let's go back to last month, shall we?

Our family was lucky enough to be in town this year for my dad's annual New Year's Day Food Competition!  Some years he's done an "Iron Chef" type of competion, but this year it was more like the show "Chopped" on the Food Network.  There were 3 teams.  Each team was given a box with the same 6 ingredients and we had to make 2 dishes in 1 hour utilizing all the ingredients in some fashion.  The ingredients were:
  1. blackberries
  2. chicken breasts
  3. ham
  4. penne pasta
  5. butternut squash
  6. avocado
Teams also had access to a pantry with various other food elements that they were free to use.

 Each of the teams were given a prep station.  The 3 stations were the main counter and 2 tables set up in the living and dining room areas with tarps under foot to protect the carpet.  My dad also made available his camp chef stove and the grill outside on the deck, since there was no way everyone would be able to fit around the one stove in his kitchen.
 And yes, there was plenty of snow outside. 

The competition began.  The kids watched cartoons and ran around inside while the cooking was happening.  Some spouses opted to watch their kids while the other spouse competed. 

I was cooking away when my little nephew came into the house from the deck looking scared and came up to me saying, "Um!  Spencer put the glass bowl on the fire and it broke!"  I just smiled and reassured him that it was okay.  It reminded me of the stories I was told of my mother when she was a newlywed and was trying to cook dinner for my dad one night using a glass bowl they got for their wedding.  She put it on the stove and began to cook when suddenly it exploded.  She was frightened, but assumed it must've been a cheap-piece-of-junk glass bowl, so she just got another of their glass bowls out and started over again on the stovetop.  Yup, that one exploded too.  She was running out of glass bowls, but she wasn't a quitter, so she continued starting over with a glass bowl on the stove until there were no bowls left.  After each explosion, my dad, a college student, who was trying to study in the other room would call out in concern, "Is everything okay?  Do you need help in there, hun?"   But my mom insisted that he keep studying and she was fine and would make dinner.  I love that she exploded all their wedding gift glass bowls in an act of service and love.

Back to the competition, Spencer came in a few minutes later and told us that my curious little nephew had gone outside where my dad and Spencer were busy cooking.  He found an empty purple glass bowl, filled it with snow and placed it on the open flame on the camp chef stove.  The bowl exploded.  No one was hurt and the scared little boy ran back into the house.  So, it wasn't Spencer who exploded the glass bowl afterall.  

The cooking continued and everyone finished on time.  The dishes were plated family style and all 6 dishes looked and tasted great!

Our team presented a penne pasta salad with fried ham bits, avocado slices, and roasted butternut squash, tossed together with cheese fantastico dressing, olives, and parmesan cheese.  I wondered if we may have had too many flavors going on in this dish, but it actually tasted great.  And the carrot curls were cute on top.  To my surprise this dish won the best plating award.

The other dish our team made was an italian-marinated chicken breast with a slightly spicy blackberry sauce.  The chicken was moist and perfectly cooked.  This dish ended up winning the best taste award by the tiniest margin.

Spencer made a delicious chicken dish with apple and berry gastrique on a bed of seasoned butternut squash cubes.  The chicken was full of flavor and I love that Spencer brought us something with a really technical name, something I assume he learned in his culinary program.  I definitely liked his gastrique and thought it to be the most unique and tastiest sauce.
 My dad pulled together his take on a penne carbonara with avocado in it.  I wasn't sure I would like avocado in a warm dish, but I was pleasantly surprised.  My dad used ham, and all the lovers of ham, including me, thought this version to be a winner. 

Micah's team rolled their chicken around a generous piece of ham, then breaded and baked it.  They made a bed of pureed the marsala squash and penne with herbs.  I have never had a marsala dish that I've liked, but this one changed my mind about marsala.  Micah taught me that if it's cooked right it takes on a sweet flavor and it can be awesome!  This dish won my vote for best flavor.
Ashley and Missy brought us this beautiful deconstructed salad with spinach, blackberries, avocado and ribbons of fresh parmesan dressed in a honey-lime vinegarette.  Served with garlic toasts.  Super yum~  and it got my vote for best plating.
 They also made extra toasts and chicken for everyone to enjoy.  I loved those toasts, by the way!

Everyone ate.
Everyone who tried everything got to be a judge this year and they voted for their favorites in 3 categories: flavor, plating, and originality. 
Getting ready to vote.
 Those who tallied the results found them to be completely varied and the winners each won by only a tiny margin.  It just goes to show how good everyone's food was.  Every dish was successful and we all got to taste the rewards.  Joe was half-attempting to cheat by having Amara and Malia use voting slips to "practice" writing certain numbers, the ones that happened to correspond to his team's dishes.  In his effort to push ahead, he was caught in the act by me, and his plan was foiled.  Sly guy.
Amara showing off her "number practice."

Malia showing off her "number practice."
It was a fun time with lotsa memories.  I love spending time with family.

There's Bill, Mandy's dad, being a great grandpa.

Rexton can judge next year.

This picture is blurry, but I was trying to get the 3 generations in the same photo.