Sunday, September 30, 2018

Donuts Are Joyful

Do you like donuts? When I was a kid I did not really like donuts because we had them almost every Saturday morning. I went through a phase where I liked glazed donuts. I also went through a phase when I liked chocolate frosted donuts filled with Bavarian Cream. Oh yeah, and cake donuts were good for awhile. I just got tired of them all.  When there would be donuts at a church activity I was disappointed because donuts were nothing special to me.

I think my dad's plan to get us out of bed on Saturday mornings to help out with family projects such as weeding, or cleaning the house, scrubbing the bathroom, or mowing the lawn, was brilliant! He would come into our bedroom singing the BYU cougar fight song, quote Rise & Shout the Cougars are out, quote and after he got us all to moan and groan then he would leave the room telling us that he would be back in 10 minutes with our Donuts. He usually took our order at that time as well. He would drive down the street to a grocery store that is no longer there called Allen's Food and Drug. Sure enough he would be back in 10 minutes and for some reason our stomachs were strong enough motivators to pull us out of our magnetic beds... usually (The beds were not actually magnetic in case you're wondering what that is).

Well as I got older, and my sister got a job at Krispy Kreme, Steve and I would often go there and receive a free dozen donuts. Krispy Kreme opened up my eyes to the world of warm donuts, a taste of heaven on earth. As a side note, somewhat off-topic, I revealed my first pregnancy to my sister while she was at work at Krispy Kreme. She was so thrilled that she screamed and jumped up and down right in front of all her customers!

Well, when I was staying at my sister's house this past weekend, she brought home some amazing donuts from Payson Bakery. The glazed donuts were still hot in the box. They were so light and airy and as you ate them, they would slide down your throat like oil. Probably because that's exactly what you're eating- orbs of oil. 

It brought me joy to see Tommy and Bridger eating their donuts. I only ate one bite because donuts are that bad for me, but that one bite somehow only left 1/4 of a donut in the box.

What Are You Looking At?

Do you know what this is? 

It's a donut in a bagel.
You're welcome.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Me In High School & Pants

Oh yes. That's me back in high school. My friend had this pic and sent it to me recently via Facebook. I remember those jeans. I had 2 pairs in slightly different colors of blue. My dad was patient as we went pants shopping together, and even though these were the expensive $40 Levi's from the outlets in Park City, he bought them for me. You see he had been everywhere with me and was so frustrated (yet patiently frustrated) that I didn't like how anything fit, and we had shopped everywhere. (This was before the days of shopping online.)  When we finally found something I liked, even though it was expensive, dad very willingly said he'd buy them anyway. In fact he was so thrilled that the pants search was finally over that he bought me 2! Thanks Dad!

By the way, those were my first pairs of brand new name brand jeans. Before then, my pants all came from either DI, Savers, or on sale from Kmart. I wore those Levi's pretty much everyday, alternating colors every few days. I was sad when I grew out of them... and so was my dad. 

P.S. You know what he told Steve before we got married? He warned him that I was pretty much easy going, except when it comes to shopping for pants! That was 4 or 5 years after this Levi's experience.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Joe's Family Comes For A Visit

We love it when we get family to visit us out here in the rural-desert of Ballard.  Joe had to work most days so we hung out close to home.  Lily's new trampoline she bought (Amara helped a little, too) was a fun activity for everyone.
One night, Missy taught us a new recipe for potato chip chicken.
The ingredients

Dredge chicken in Mayo, then crushed potato chips.

Sprinkle on spices and parmesan.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, I think.

Missy also joined me for my relief society activity that I helped plan.  It was a "speed friendshipping" activity.  I'm so glad she came because there were only a few of us there.
Sisters lined up on both sides of the table and had 3 minutes to talk to the person across from them, then we moved people on one side down to the next person.

We had little flowers with conversation prompts on them that people could use if they wanted to.

We had everyone bring a munchie to share.

I took the kids to the park one morning.  My mom joined us shortly thereafter and brought with her Chinese Jump Ropes.  Those were something my mom grew up with on the playground and we had a lot of fun trying to do those ourselves.

Not sure if we played by the official rules or just the official "gwamma" rules.

We also went to the Ute Bowling Alley. I don't remember everything that happened, but I do remember there were some tears and frustration, and I don't think we actually finished our game because we were only halfway done after an hour.  Guess that's what we get for cramming so many people on one lane.

Time always flies when you're having fun.  We miss having all these wonderful cousins so close, but we're so thankful we have opportunities like this to have them visit!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Raising An Amara-Goose

Steve judging me for trying to dress up Amara's plate
 When you hear me call her goose, it's a shortened form of Amara-goose which was a nickname that came about from her being such a silly-goose.  She's a lot of fun and silly.  She loves humor and her favorite show is Studio C, a comedy sketch show on BYU-TV.  She can repeat to you verbatim just about any sketch they've done.

She's silly at dinnertime in a different way, a not so funny way.  She frequently does not like what is made for dinner, and makes ugly faces at me when I tell her what I've made.  Well, a few months ago, I took a different approach to a dinner she hates, Hawaiian Haystacks.  I decided to make her a special plate that looked elegant to see if it would make her happier.  Sure enough, I brought her the done-up haystack and she smiled and was actually excited to eat it. Lily was amazed and asked me to make her one too.  She grabbed my phone and took plate pictures.

Lily's plate

Our Spontaneous Event Planner

If you look around our house right now you will spot handmade flyers on the piano and the living room wall advertising an upcoming dance performance for next Saturday.  If you look on the girl's bedroom door you will see another handmade paper that says C-Girls Dance Studio, another of Amara's creations.  There's always some new event or activity that she's busy creating.  Today I share with you a carnival she threw together one day.  She set up all her stations, then she went around the house, handing out a flyer to each of us, inviting us to come to her "carnivle."

Her very enticing flyer
 She created a fishing pond in our office by blocking it with one of our barstools draped with a blanket.  The fishing pole was a paintbrush with yarn tied to it. When we went fishing, we got a fish with a quarter taped to it!  Steve liked going fishing!

Another station was "Guess Which Cup."  She would hide a quarter under a cup and mix them all up and have you guess which cup it was under.  Steve was good at this game because he could find incongruences with the cups and win every time. 

Then there was the Knock Down Shooter game where you were given a ball and tried to knock down the pyramid of playdoh canisters stacked up at the end of the entry.

Fortune Telling was a fun one!  You got to go in the girls' room and sit on a pillow across from the fortune teller (Amara got all dressed up).  Then she would look into her crystal ball (a painted glass ball Steve got from his uncle in China) and tell your fortune. 

Our Cute Harvest Queen

She has always loved growing things and harvesting. When I need someone to spot cucumbers hiding in the leaves, she's who I call.  One of her favorite things we grow is the strawberries.  Unfortunately, the strawberry patch is severely neglected and there are very few survivors.  One day we'll build it up again into something beautiful and hopefully plentiful.  

Amara will go out and check the strawberries on the plant.  She knows to wait until the berry is red all over and then it's perfect to pick.  When she does pick the little berry, she'll bring it in the house, wash it up and cut it into small pieces so everyone can have a taste.  Isn't that so cute and sweet of her?

Her selfies with a beautiful strawberry.


She likes to be outside when she can.  She'll jump with her sister on the trampoline, do school work next to the cat, or ride a scooter when she needs something to do. 

She's also created her own fairy garden from things she's found, collected, or purchased.


She loves a good surprise and creating them for others.  The other day when I went to help a widow in our ward sort through her late husband's things, Amara ran out to the car and handed me a card she had made on the spur of the moment for that woman.  The card had a drawing of a teddy bear and a poem she created about thinking of happy things when she's feeling sad like pretty flowers and "precious shiny rings."  That card sure made me smile and when I gave it to the woman she loved it so much and made sure that she sent me home with a thank you card for Amara.  She placed the card standing up on her counter top where she could see it often.

Another lovely surprise she did was lunch.  She made Lily and I a surprise lunch one day that was so creative and visually amazing!

She covered our plates with bowls so she could reveal them at the same time.  She also sliced a banana in the shape of a "C" for Christensen.

Look at my darling plate! PB and Banana open-smiley-faced sandwich with crackers, Cheese shapes, and grapes.

She sure knows how to make me us feel special!

She loves her cat.  She bought Smokey a collar at the dollar tree. It only lasted one day.  We found it squeezed around Smokey's middle the next day.

She split the $95 vet bill to get Smokey's paw looked at and get him dewormed.  Both the girls love that cat!

It's an absolute pleasure and joy to raise an Amara-Goose!  Steve and I are so blessed!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Grandma Debby's Disney Surprise and Family Pictures

 It was at Sunday dinner at my dad's house where Debby decided to reveal her surprise vacation she had been planning for months.  She and my dad planned to rent a big van and take the grandkids that were 9 and older on a weeklong adventure to the beach, Disneyland, and finally end up at grandpa Blad's cabin in Antimony for a reunion where they'd join the rest of the families/grandkids.  Debby had texted these plans to me and as I was reading it, I excitedly told my girls about it and finished reading the text aloud to them which ended with, "please don't tell the grandkids, I'm going to surprise them."  Oops.  Totally spoiled it.   I told my kids to act surprised when the time came.

So, Debby gathered Lily, Jay, Emmy, JJ, and Malia into the bedroom where Amara was laying down feeling awfully sick and running a fever.  She handed out the gifts with the cards.
Grandma Debby handing out beach towels with a card.
 Debby knew my kids knew, and then we found out that all the grandkids had actually been told by their parents who had made the same mistake as I had when reading the text.  Everyone was elated, even if it wasn't a true surprise.
Amara reading her card on the bed as the other grandkids read theirs.
The beach towel gifts were a fun surprise for everyone, though.  Lily got Elaina of Avalor (I have no idea who that is, but my kids do), and Amara got Ariel the mermaid.
Everyone revealing their fun new beach towels! 
After dinner, it was off to take pictures in a field behind the Northridge Park.  It was so fortunate we had everyone there.  The following are the pictures that were snapped with my phone camera:
Take a look at all 24 of those cousins, and all under the age of 13.  I like how April is running to get out of the picture and Jacob is hiding behind the kids to try to get out of the camera's view.

Back (L-R): Jake, Kelli
Front (L-R): Brooklyn, Levi, and Parker

Back (L-R): Alexa, Micah, Mandy
Front (L-R): Rexton, Maxwell, Jaxon

Back L-R: Malia, Missy, Joe
Front: Jayden, Maizie, JJ

Back (L-R): Me (Lani) and Steve
Front (L-R): Amara, Lily
I wish we would've had the kids next to our sides for this picture so you can see our sizes more accurately.  I will take the time to note here that Lily is about 1 inch shorter than me, but we wear the same shoe size and we actually switched shoes for these photos because she didn't want to be taller than me in her wedge shoes and I in my flats. ;)  Also, Amara did a good job smiling even though she felt like barfing and was running a fever. I felt so bad for her.

Back (L-R): April, Bridger, Spencer
Front (L-R): Tommy (trying to run off), Devon

Tommy content to have broken free.

Here's a pic of all my siblings on my dad's side.  L-R: Trent, April, Hayley, Micah, Heather, Joseph, Ashley, Lani, Jake

Here's a pic with me and my siblings.  L-R: me, Micah, Joe, April, Jake

Now we added my mom.  Debby's a gracious person and was happy to let my mom get some pics with her kids.

Me, my mom, and April.  Not sure what made us laugh.

My mom's daughters/daughter-in-laws.  L-R: Mandy, April, Kelli, Me, Missy

My mom's sons/son-in-laws (L-R): Jake, Steve, Joe, Spencer, Micah.... and the fire hydrant?

Then Jake decided to spice up the pics.

The photos turned from keepsake into awkward.

Then mom was pulled into a pic with her boys

Remind me to quit having Joe be in the back.  Makes an interesting totem pole, though.

Can't leave a photoshoot without Jake trying to show off his calf muscles!  There's a keeper!
And here's a few from the photographer that I got off Debby's facebook:
My dad, Jim Lauret, and Debby.  

My Dad and Debby and their posterity