Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snow Pictures Coming Tomorrow

In the meantime, can I just say how glad I am that none of our snow-play resulted in a headline like this???

Friday, January 29, 2010

Praying for a Snow Day

All week we have heard that snow is coming. had the audacity to declare this morning that we have a 100% chance of precipitation. 100%?!? That's awesome!

Since everything that would have taken place tomorrow has been preemptively canceled, here are my plans for our snow day:

Sleep in.
Have a yummy breakfast.
Play in the snow.
Ride the sled down the street.
Drink hot chocolate.
Play a game.
Drink more hot chocolate.
More sledding.
Build a snowman.
More hot chocolate.
Take a nap.
More sewing.
More games.
Maybe a movie.

Sigh...I hope that tomorrow lasts 48 hours!

Homeschooling at it's Best

Just it case you have ever wondered how it is that homeschoolers keep themselves entertained all day, we have a few photos for you from today...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

No Phone Calls Allowed

If you're wondering why there is a picture of a plate of cookies on my blog, wonder no more. I'm going to tell you why.

It's because sometimes you really need to be able to look at a nice picture of something that did, after all, turn out ok.

Instead of looking at the following picture, which my youngest child has suggested that we "print two copies of and hang in the kitchen." (His exact words, I promise you.)

Let me tell you about yesterday afternoon, which started so promisingly and ended up such a mess.

I started the afternoon making chicken pot pie for dinners. One for us, one for a friend, and one for the missionaries. I peeled and chopped and boiled and mixed, keeping an eye on the clock at the same time because I was on a tight time schedule. Things were humming right along and I was just as happy as could be.

I even decided I had time to make cookies for everyone, so I pulled out the chocolate chips (and some white chocolate chips too, just to be daring!) and some butter and sugar and started mixing.

From time to time I would set down the cookie making tools and do something else for the chicken pot pies. Everything was under control.

And then it happened. Right as I started mixing the cocoa and the flour into the cookie dough, the phone started ringing. It rang and rang and rang. Every call someone I both wanted and needed to talk to. So I did what any woman would do. I mixed and talked and mixed and talked. But somewhere along the way I lost track of exactly how much mixing had occurred during all that talking. I had no idea how much flour I'd already put in and how much still needed to be added. I guessed — and guessed wrong.

I also realized as I glanced at the clock that the combination cookie making and phone talking had put me quite a bit behind schedule. I no longer had time to deliver the dinner to my friend, and I certainly didn't have time to figure out how to repair the cookie dough. In a frenzy of re-planning I put the dough in the fridge to fix later, asked Russ if he'd drop off the dinners, and left for my photography class.

Last night as we climbed into bed exhausted, Russ made a comment about the dinners. In that moment I realized that in my frantic attempt to get everything done and still leave for class on time, I had switched the dinners. Russ had taken the small pan of chicken pot pie (meant for the 2 missionaries) to my friend, and the really large pan of chicken pot pie (meant for my friend's kids who really like my chicken pot pie!) to the missionaries.

I felt so dumb.

Perhaps Jared is right, and we should hang the sign in the kitchen...this is just the last in a long line of recent telephone + cooking disasters. Pancakes with no salt...muffins with no spices...and even worse, muffins with no baking powder! It is clear to me that my brain at 43 cannot hold on to as many things at once as it used to.

I'm so glad that today is a new day. I can laugh about all of the mixups and hope that my friend enjoys chicken pot pie for lunch. I can hope that the missionaries enjoy their left-overs. And I can fix the cookie dough and finish making the cookies.

Just don't call me on the phone while I'm doing it!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Self-Portrait, Take 2

On Sunday afternoon I came home from church, did a quick analysis of the week in front of me, and realized that there was a significant chance that between that moment and my photography class Wednesday evening there would not be a better moment to take a new self-portrait.

A "good" moment to take a self-portrait would include make-up, hair fixed, and not wearing pajamas. Sunday during church is typically a good moment. Other days...not so good...

I grabbed the camera and tripod and took it up to the sewing/playroom with me, having decided that I still wanted my self-portrait to tell that I love to sew.

On the way up I debated with myself about the timing. It was already dark. Pictures are better with natural light. I was wearing makeup and my hair looked decent. There was every chance that once I put on pajamas Sunday night I would not be out of pajamas until Wednesday afternoon. (What can I say? I like my pajamas! And I have lots of cute pairs!!) I decided that it was better to seize the well-coiffed moment rather than to hope another moment occurred during daylight in the next few days.

My first attempt taught me several things.

  1. That black sweater might be comfy and warm at church, but wasn't going to work for this picture. (Maybe in natural light, but we're not going there...)
  2. My sewing area needed some serious pruning to be used as a backdrop...far too messy and thus distracting.

I went and changed into something that might work a little better (in retrospect, I would have found something without stripes that are less than flattering, but oh well...) and tried again.

Not bad, except for the clock growing out from behind my head, the messiness on the sewing table, and the distraction of the edge of the sewing table.

I also eventually decided that I couldn't get comfortably behind the machine while it was on the table (the table is far to awkward to move if I don't really really have to) and that the display screen on the front of the machine was also a visual distraction. So I turned the machine around and sat it on the ironing board instead.

Oh, did I mention that the camera on the tripod was on the other side of the room, and so every time I wanted to take another shot I had to go across the room, refocus the camera, and then run back to position before the shot went off 10 seconds later? I'm sure you're thinking I'm such a whiner for even mentioning that it was a pain that my camera was 15 feet away.

But really, people...

By the time I had run back and forth across the room 85 times in search of a picture that was the perfect combination of unobtrusive background, revealing prop, and halfway decent expression on my face but no glare on my glasses, I was

and then

and then

and finally

In the end I had 85 new self portraits and no clear favorite, but more than a few worthy of instant deletion.

I don't think these pictures are better than the one I took last week — the lighting was better in that one at the very least. But the background is definitely better in these. I'm still not sure what I'll turn in when it's my turn!

PS--yes, I know I should have closed the left-hand blind differently! But only in retrospect...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Book Review: My Sister's Keeper

I've wanted to read this book for a long time, and finally got around to it last week. It's not often a book has such significant personal relevance as this one does for me.

The book, for those (few) of you who have never heard of it, is about a family who's young daughter develops a very rare and deadly form of leukemia. In an attempt to help the sick daughter the parents use embryo screening to conceive another baby who will "match." Initially the plan is that just the baby's cord blood will be used to help the sister, but eventually the younger sister donates blood and bone marrow too. The story starts when she is 13 years old and meets with a lawyer, telling him that she wants to sue her parents for medical emancipation so that she won't have to donate a kidney to her sister.

The author does a good job of making you feel outraged in behalf of the younger sister who's been subjected to painful medical procedures to help her sister all of her life. Then she turns the tables and shows how conflicted the parents are; no parent wants their child to experience any pain, least of all pain that was optional. On the other hand, anyone who is a parent knows that you would do almost anything to give one of your children the chance to live.

As I started reading I felt hostility towards the parents for "using" their younger daughter. But as I kept reading and really thought about it, I realized that I would do the same thing in that situation. If there was something that one of my other children could do/give that would improve Cindy Lynn's health, I would definitely consider it. And if there was something that would save her life? How could I not try? (Want a lung, dear?)

I thought that Picoult also did a good job of showing that medical emergencies have a momentum of their own. When a crisis comes, there simply isn't time to sit around and debate the ethics or long term implications of different options. When the crisis comes, you do what is necessary to keep your child alive.

The other thing about the book that touched me deeply was the storyline of the older brother. Basically ignored from the time of his sister's diagnosis with leukemia, he embarks on a self-destructive path of drinking, drugs, smoking, and arson in a desperate and heart-breaking plea for someone to notice him.

I have often wondered about this in our family. Five of our children have had to deal with having a sibling with a life-shortening time-consuming genetic illness. Three of our children have had to deal with the birth of triplets. I know we have tried to be aware of the needs of all of our kids when we've been so preoccupied with the medical issues of one/some of our kids--but it is so hard. It simply isn't possible to be physically present in more than one place at a time, and in times of real stress sometimes it isn't possible to be mentally present even when you're physically present.

Definitely a book that made me grateful that my trials are no worse than they are...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Church Thoughts

(I know that it is probably not kosher to blog in sacrament meeting; these thoughts, however, were running through my brain so loudly that I could not hear a thing the speakers were saying. I finally figured that if I wrote them down I might get some peace, and sure enough...once I'd written it all down my brain relaxed and started listening.)

Typically when I share my testimony I am careful to distinguish between the gospel of Jesus Christ and it's saving truths, and the organization that is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It may seem a small distinction to some, but to me it makes a huge difference. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings me peace and offers me hope. The church is a wonderful organization, but is made of up of flawed human beings trying their best to help each other. Sometimes the church brings peace and hope too — but other times it brings fatigue or frustration, and in these moments it is helpful to me to remember that distinction.

For the last few years I have had the opportunity each January to prepare a retrospective slideshow for the 12-18 year old kids in our stake. When I make slideshows I try to place each picture in a relevant place in the music, and to make sure that each pictures is also synchronized with the rhythm of the music. It is a laborious process, and as a result each year I spend hours looking at these pictures from the previous year's activities. This year has been somewhat different, and I am not sure why.

This year as I have looked through endless (ok, only about a thousand) photographs of young men and young women involved in various activities, I have been aware in a new way of the sacrifices made by countless leaders who organize, teach, and make possible these activities. I felt a renewed gratitude for the people who have served our family in this way, who have loved and served and taught my teenagers and my younger children.

These feelings increased as I spent hours looking at pictures from last summer's pioneer trek.

The first feelings that I had as I looked at these pictures of young men and women in pioneer clothing pulling handcarts was deep gratitude for those pioneers in whose footsteps they were following. Whatever trials I experience in my life, I will probably never have to try to pack everything needed for my family in a small cart and then pull it halfway across the United States. I will be forever indebted to those early pioneers who's love of the gospel of Jesus Christ was strong enough to motivate them to give up almost all of their earthly possessions and to start walking. Their faith both humbles and motivates me.

As I worked with the pictures I also became aware of how many adults had made great sacrifices — of both time and personal comfort — to make this experience possible for my son. I know that in addition to the time needed for the trek itself, countless hours of preparation went into the planning and organization of this trek, hours that most people never know about.

I am constantly amazed at the beauty of the body of Christ; each person using unique and personal talents and gifts to contribute to the well-being of the whole. Sometimes I am so preoccupied by my own small part that I forget to appreciate the many other contributions that bless my family in vital and personal ways.

Thank you all....

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Geographic Puzzler

The other day I read an article on unemployment, talking about an end of year report issued by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. One of the points the article made was that North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the US, at only 4.4%.

I'm sure there's a punch line there, somewhere...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Highs & Lows of Motherhood

Two stories; both from earlier this week.

A certain one of my younger children has developed the distressing (to me) habit of arguing with almost every single thing I say to her. If I tell her to do something she wants to do, she raises no objection. Any other request is met with an emotional argument from her.

Last week, after I realized that she was never responding obediently to anything I asked, she & I had a talk. She promised less arguing and more obedience. Instead the problem has escalated.

Fortunately for me, I've lived through this once before with my wonderful oldest daughter. When it happened with her (much younger) I was alarmed and baffled. What had happened? Why was my previously precious child arguing with almost every word out of my mouth? What, if anything, should I do about it?

This time it was much easier to come up with a plan. I informed the child that because she has lost the ability to be instantly obedient, we are going to retrain her. For the next week, she is not allowed to argue with anything I say to her. Any response other than obedience will result in her having a time out in the corner.

Ready, set, go.

She was devastated the first time it happened. Silently crying in the corner the whole five minutes. This is a child who is tender and loving, and since she got over biting everyone in sight, rarely needs to be disciplined. When it was over, I held her and hugged her and reminded her that we're helping her brain learn to be obedient to me, which is what Heavenly Father wants.

It sure made my heart sad...


Later that same day I picked Josh up from school, knowing that he and I were going to have a stressful conversation.

Our family "deal" for EFY (a 1 week youth retreat for the teenagers) is that we pay for the first year, and after that we will pay 50%. I'm a firm believer that anything you pay for you care more about, and I'm also not made out of money. Last year and this year we will have 2 kids attending EFY and that adds up fast. So anyway, Josh has known for at least a year that we would expect him to earn/save $200 for his contribution to this year's EFY.

We are pretty flexible about it--we're not demanding a certain amount of money by a certain time, or anything like that. I have been concerned over the last few months that he has not been willing to save any money, nor has he been interested at all in working to earn any money.

Russ and I had a conversation about it, trying to figure out what to do. On the one hand, we really really want our kids to have the EFY experience. It's such a huge dose of fun and spirituality packed into one week, and we have seen it impact our other kids' testimonies in really meaningful ways. On the other hand, we want him to learn some financial responsibility. But we were both quite sure that if it came down to it, Josh would choose to skip EFY rather than have to work to earn the money.

It was at this point that inspiration (and it must have been that) struck. I had commented to Russ that the two things Josh is desperate for are his cell phone and his nice clothes. It occurred to me that we could use the money that would have been budgeted in the summer to buy school clothes to pay his share of EFY, and turn the responsibility for buying school clothes over to him. We know he won't go naked; he has plenty of clothes to cover his body already. We also know that he will be far more motivated to work to buy clothes than to go to EFY. I picked him up from school, ready to present this plan.

He was, as expected, not happy with the plan. He got angry, accusing me of not caring if he has nothing to wear, etc. I had known he would be angry and so I tried to stay calm. Eventually he got quiet and I talked on the phone for a while.

The phone call had to do with my friend Katie's ongoing illness. After I got off, I asked him — just out of curiousity — how he would feel if I was as sick as Katie has been. He said that he wouldn't like it very much. I said, "really, you would be upset even though you don't like me very much?"

And then he responded,
"I don't like the things you do, Mom.
That doesn't mean I don't like you."
Words to warm a mother's heart...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My New Class, and What I Learned Today

Last week I started a photography class at Durham Tech with my friend Lindsay. I am so excited to learn more about my digital camera, though I'm sure by the end I will be coveting the digital SLR's in the class!

Last week I snapped this picture as people were trying out different things with their cameras.

I love the juxtaposition of aged hands holding a new-tech camera. There are quite a few retired people in our class, and I love that. I hope that when I'm retired I'm still embracing the adventure of learning new things!

Tonight we started outside. (Brrrr! I must have missed that memo, and wore no jacket!) We learned about changing different settings on our cameras. I took some pretty cool pictures of the moon, thanks to my very long zoom. (It really is made of green cheese!)

Our photography assignment from last week was to take a self-portrait that told something about ourselves. We only analyzed the first 4-5 pictures tonight, and now I know that I will be shooting a new self-portrait before next week's class. Here's the one I did for tonight.

As you can see, my picture tells that I sew and that I am married. But I learned tonight (from what was said about other pictures) that it's not a good thing for your prop to be brighter than your subject, because it draws the attention away from the subject. I guess I will have to figure out how to tone down that bright white sewing machine!

Orthodontist Update

Now that I've teased you all with the picture taken after my ortho appt yesterday, I'll tell you the rest of the story.

In November I noticed that one of my teeth on the top (incisor, I think) seemed to be rotating. I watched it for a week or so, and became even more sure. I called the ortho office, but they couldn't fit me in to look at it for 2 weeks. By the time I got there it was very obvious that something was happening. It turned out that my permanent retainer had broken in one spot, and my night time retainer wasn't tight enough to keep the movement from happening. The ortho sent my retainer out to the retainer guy to tighten it up and change it so that it might move the tooth back into place; this took another week.

I've worn the modified retainer since thanksgiving with mixed results. The tooth stopped rotating, but was now moving up into the gum. I went in for the checkup yesterday not a happy camper. I waited a long time for straight teeth. I loved having straight teeth. I wanted my straight teeth back!

The orthodontist told me that we could try putting a spring on the retainer to see if it would push the tooth back, or we could put brackets back on the top teeth. I think he was surprised when I told him I would rather have some braces again for a few months than not have my teeth straight. Then it was my turn to be surprised when he whipped out some brackets and started gluing them to my teeth!

So I have 6 brackets on the six front teeth, all designed to force the wandering tooth back to where we want it, not where it was before and wants to return to. He said they'll probably be on for 3-4 months. I told him as long as I don't have to be the mother of the bride with braces again, we're ok.

My biggest sadness in all of this is that I was really enjoying being able to bite into those wonderful chocolate Lindor balls...I still have a few left from Christmas, and now I will have to cut them again!

The biggest irony is that 11:30 yesterday morning I sent out the email version of our Christmas letter. My big news for the year? That I'd gotten my braces off!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Not What I Expected

From my orthodontist's appointment today...

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Telephone Voice

The other day someone called the house and Rachel answered the phone. When she handed the phone to me, the caller commented on how sweet Rachel's voice was when she answered.

Rachel must have heard me talking about it, because today when she heard the phone ringing she announced,

Time for my cute and cuddly voice!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Green Smoothies

Last spring my cousin mentioned that she was making a green smoothie every morning. I was intrigued, and finally I did a little research.
I read somewhere that a quart of green smoothie has 15 servings of fruits and vegetables in it. I also read that smoothies are great because the blender breaks down the cell walls and makes the vitamins in the fruits/veggies more available. I decided it was worth trying and before long I was hooked.

Then I got Jason & the little kids addicted too.

Now we start every morning with a green smoothie, except for Fridays when we have to leave the house pretty early.

I've had a couple of people ask how we make them, so here are my directions. And oh--if you need a blender, the best reviews on Amazon were for a $20 blender from Walmart that does a fantastic job on frozen smoothies!

These directions will make about 6 cups of smoothie--which is enough for me, Jason, and the littles kids.

1. Put 1 c. juice and 1 c. hot water in blender. I usually use frozen OJ concentrate straight from the freezer. If I make up the juice someone drinks it right up and it doesn't last long enough to make it into a smoothie! Tthe hot water helps with the frozen fruit later.

2. Add in spinach. I put in 2 big handfuls; until it's up to the 5 c. line. I use the box of organic spinach from Costco.

3. Lately I've been adding a handful of carrots too. I know that carrot juice is supposed to be very good for you, so I figure I'll add a little to our smoothie this way. I think I'm going to switch to using organic big carrots though.

4. Then I blend it all up. Yum, yum! (This is the green part.)

5. After that is really smooth and gross looking, I start adding fruit. I always add a banana first. My kids go through bananas fast, but if they ever start to get dark looking I freeze them and add them frozen. Otherwise I add one that is fresh. Sometimes add 1/2 of an apple, I find it cuts the taste of the spinach really well. I'm careful with that, though, since adding both the carrots and the apple changes the texture. And I don't like the taste to be overwhelmingly apple.

I get several different kinds of frozen fruit from Costco--which definitely has the best price for frozen fruit.

I usually add 8 or so big strawberries.

Every now & then I buy a pineapple (at Costco, where else??) and cut it up and then freeze it. Then I throw in a few chunks to the smoothie.

The all important blueberries turn the smoothie from it's disgusting color (green-brown after you start adding fruit) to a nice purple. I usually add 1/2 cup of blueberries or 1 cup of mixed berries.

The kids liked the smoothies a LOT better after I started adding the blueberries!

I add peaches & other fruit from a bag of mixed fruit--about the same amount as the strawberries. Sometimes I have to add a bit of hot water as I go, to keep it from getting so thick that the blender can't blend it.

At the end I taste it. Sometimes it's just great. Sometimes I can tell I need to add a little more fruit. Sometimes I plop in another spoonful of OJ concentrate. Sometimes I add a little sugar after I've poured my smoothie out of the blender. The kids don't enjoy it as much if it's a little tart.

The end is a yummy smoothie that I feel great about starting my day with!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Phone Book Phrustration

Today the phone company left us an unhappy little gift. A plastic bag beside our mailbox containing not one, but four new phone books. Two big, two little.

I'm sure they killed a tree to make these phone books that I don't want.

Does anyone use phone books anymore? I almost never do. Every now and then maybe, but mostly I use Google. (Have I mentioned before that I am the Queen of Google? Because I am.)

So what does one do with all of these extra phone books? Is there a way to make them stop coming? Or to make them only bring one? Only on alternate years? Surely there's a "do-not-phone-book" list I can call to get on???

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Age Old Question

(not my photo)

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it,
does it still make a sound?

In the beginning, the only people who read my blog were Russ and Cindy Lynn. And I was good with that.

In the intervening months I've grown accustomed to having a few wonderful readers; friends who's comments I enjoy and look forward to.

That is why I find myself partially paralyzed by the recent discovery that my blog isn't updating on blog roll sidebars anymore. It's a tricky relationship, blogger and reader. I tell myself that I'm blogging for me, and me alone. And yet I want you here too, adding your voice to my thoughts and experiences, laughing along with me, and enjoying my messes.

The problem is that I'm already behind in the memories that I'm trying to record. I've tried everything I can to force a fix but the problem is obviously a blogger problem. So I think my answer to the age old question is going to have to be

If a post publishes, and no one knows it, it is still worth writing...

Update: Must have been karma. As soon as I decided that I would have to keep on blogging, regardless of who knew I was doing it, my blog started updating again!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Touched by Joy

Before I had children I had an unspoken, subconscious, and totally unrealistic expectation of what I thought life would be like.

Basically, I thought life would be like a shampoo commercial.

Not an R-rated shampoo commercial, like you'd see today. A shampoo commercial like you'd see in the 70's or 80's — where the blonde mother and child, dressed in white, run in slow motion through fields of wheat. (Sorry--can't find any pictures so you'll have to imagine it.)

That was what I thought life was going to be like.

I was mistaken.

Instead of a shampoo commercial, I had a sick baby. Instead of a shampoo commercial, I found out that I was always exhausted. Instead of a shampoo commercial I was cranky and so were they and then on top of everything there were triplets.

And nothing was ever in slow motion, except perhaps the cleaning up of vomit.

Every now and then, though, there was a moment.

A moment that seemed like it was almost removed from time, a moment that was extraordinarily beautiful and felt tinged with gold. I started calling them my shampoo commercial moments.

For many years it puzzled me. What was this moment, and what did it mean?

Finally I decided that it was some kind of stamp of approval by the Spirit — a bit of affirmation.

The other day a lovely friend of mine blogged about joy. She quoted Sister Barbara Thompson, a counselor in the General Relief Society presidency in our church. Sister Thompson said,

Feeling joy is a manifestation
of the presence of the Spirit.

So that's what it was. The shampoo commercial moments were moments where the spirit showed me the joy that was my life.

Even if we weren't wearing white....

Or running in slow motion.....

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ticket to Ride & Ride & Ride

Tonight we were happy to be able to party with Ken & Alisyn, who were gone for far too long. There were several highlights of the evening; Russ tried a new mexican recipe, we had a new dessert, and of course we played games.

On tonight's game menu: comparing the different versions of Ticket to Ride. We got the US version for Christmas, we gave Mahon the German version, and Ken & Alisyn got the European version.

(please notice that we coordinated our sweaters without realizing it. Alisyn's looks darker, but was almost the same color as Cindy Lynn's & mine were. )

We've now played the US version quite a few times and the German version obsessively for the last 2 weeks. Tonight we played the German version and then the European version for the first time.

I think the German version is much more difficult than the other versions. I can't decide which of the others I think is easier. The US map is bigger and less cluttered, and the game is simpler. But having the train station in the European version makes the game so much less stressful--getting blocked is no longer a problem. I can tell already that if Cindy Lynn & Mahon don't end up moving back here we'll have to buy our own copy of the German game!

For dessert I made a new recipe that Katie fed us last night. It was unbelievably rich and yummy, and I had to make it right away. It's called Apple Dumplings, and is from the pioneer woman's blog. Which apparently is very interesting, though I have yet to check it out.

The dumplings are served with whipped cream, but I didn't think to take a picture while we were eating them, and I'm not going to put whipped cream on the leftovers! So you'll just have to imagine that part. It calls for Mountain Dew, but next time I'm going to try Sprite. So that Josh doesn't have any reason to be drinking half of a bottle of Mountain Dew...

Here's the recipe, and if you want step by step pictures, you can see them here.
  • 2 whole Granny Smith Apples
  • 2 cans (8 Oz. Cans) Crescent Rolls
  • 2 sticks Butter
  • 1-½ cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • Cinnamon, To Taste
  • 1 can (12 Oz.) Mountain Dew Soda
Preparation Instructions

Peel and core apples. Cut each apple into 8 slices each. Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll. Place in a 9 x 13 buttered pan.

Melt butter, then add sugar and barely stir. Add vanilla, stir, and pour entire mixture over apples. Pour Mountain Dew around the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve with ice cream, and spoon some of the sweet sauces from the pan over the top.

WARNING: Prepare this dish at your own risk. It is beyond imaginable.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Girl Talk

I really like being female. I like being a mommy, and I like not having to scratch and slap people on the butt, and I like girl talk.

Tonight Cindy Lynn and I spent the evening with two of our lovely friends. When Cindy Lynn's husband heard that we were there for 4 hours, he asked what we did. And when Cindy Lynn told him that we talked the whole time, he said,
Well obviously Mahon doesn't understand about girl talk.

We can talk about anything. We can talk about everything. We can talk about books we've read, movies we've seen, and places we've been. Parenting tips, ways we're sure we're messing up our children, ways our parents messed us up. We can talk about what's making us happy, what's making us sad, and what we're not really sure about.

And it is all wonderful and soul-feeding. Thanks, girls!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

More Pyrex Trouble

This is what happened the other night while I was trying to make hot chocolate. (Endless partying requires lots and lots of hot chocolate.)

(Didn't I just break a pyrex casserole dish?)

What a mess. It took me and Cindy Lynn and my sister in law Jenny to clean it all up. It was all over my sweater, sweats, and slippers. (yes, my house is cold.)

Happily, I have another pyrex bowl. I actually cook a lot of things in my pyrex bowls in the microwave--anything that has a white sauce base I cook in the microwave instead of on the stove.

I'm a little worried, though, that the next time I try to cook something it will explode on me again. Hopefully the problem was just that the syrup & the bowl were too hot and the milk I added was too cold. I should be more careful...

P.S. Perhaps I am not meant to make hot chocolate. Or at least not in the microwave. Because I just found out that this is what happens when you make the syrup in a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup...


P.P.S. At least now the whole microwave is clean!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ava-Tastic --Updated

Yesterday we, like one billion (plus) dollar's worth of people worldwide over the last few weeks, plunked down our hard earned money and went to see Avatar.

What an adventure that was. After 3 hours we emerged from the theater exhausted, triumphant, and looking like geeks in our 3D glasses. (Oh, and Russ's hand was numb from being squeezed too hard!)

The little kids were so disappointed that they couldn't go too, so we have promised them a trip to the theater soon. (Which is a really big deal in our home.)

In the meantime, they can have fun with Josh's 3D glasses....


I'm adding my own thoughts about the movie since a couple of people have asked:

I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Overall, I think that it's one of those movies that you just should see in the theater (and in 3D) because it's such an experience. It will never be the same on a home tv.

So here's what I thought of the movie itself:

  • Very exciting--never boring, even though it's long.
  • Very likable good guys and a very terrible villian.
  • Interesting technology--fun to watch.
  • BEAUTIFUL PLANET--by far the best part was looking at this planet that they "created." It was stunning.
  • Interesting indigenous population. Sort of human, sort of feline, blue, and 10' tall.

  • A fair amount of swearing. In my opinion not gratuitous, but definitely noticeable.
  • A little queasiness if you look at the edges of the screen at the wrong time.
  • Quasi-nudity. Cindy Lynn & I talked about this after. The Na-Vi' are blue & striped and are not "dressed" in the normal sense of the word, although they don't seem totally naked either. More like they're all wearing very tight fitting blue unitards with loin cloths and lots of well placed jewelry. You see a fair amount of blue butts and some breasts. I know this probably seems trivial to some people, but I worry because I know my teenage boys are at an age where they could be really affected by exposure to overly sexual images. I think this was ok, but it was pretty close to the line of not ok, if that makes sense!

I had wondered about taking the triplets and someone told me that they thought it was far to intense. Jared probably would have enjoyed it, but it would definitely have stressed out Rachel & Jenna.

Sew Insane

Last year I didn't finish my Christmas sewing (dresses for my girls and another for my favorite 3 year old) until the middle of January. I was determined to start earlier this year and be finished at a reasonable time.

I did start earlier. I finished in time for my girls to wear their dresses on the Sunday before Christmas, but only because I sewed the entire day before. I didn't finish the rest of my Christmas sewing until the 23rd. Next year I hope to do better than that.

On the other hand, last year I sewed 3 dresses.

This year I made:

1) A jumper that turned out to be for cute Kate. Mindy had given me an adult sized jumper years & years ago to use for the fabric. The fabric was so beautiful, but I couldn't bring myself to make something for one of my girls and there wasn't enough fabric for both. I decided this year that I really wanted to sew that fabric, and this is the result. I thought it was darling.

2) A jumper for my niece Lilly, who normally does not cry when she wears clothes I make for her.

3) A jumper for Marley, because she's so cute and I wanted to surprise Katie. (I think Eric was more surprised--he thought it was a hand-me-down from my girls, not one made just for Marley.)

4 & 5) Jumpers for my girls. This fabric is what's called a border print--with some kind of pattern running along both sides of the fabric. Last time I sewed with a border print I wasn't too happy with the results. So this year I was resolved to make something more pleasing to my eye for my girls. I started in a bit of a panic, thinking that I hadn't bought enough fabric. (Note to self: measure fabric again before panicking.) I had a yard of two of a coordinating fabric.

I cut off a couple of lines of the coordinating fabric and added it to the bottom of the girls' jumpers to make them 2" longer.

Then I decided that I also didn't have enough fabric for the bodices, and so I cut out the row of smaller penguins to insert in the bodice. The thing that I'm the most proud of is the candy cane lines. On the coordinating fabric the candy cane line comes right below the penguins, but then there is something else above them. I decided that I really wanted a candy cane line above them too, to set the penguins off from the regular fabric of the bodice. So I cut out another candy cane line and sewed it into the bodice. I think it looks terrific.

the finished product!

As you can see, Marley thought she was hot stuff with her matching jumper.

Last year I had ordered some fabric samples from fabric heaven. (For those of you who aren't fabricaholics like myself, fabric heaven called Mary Jo's. It's in Gastonia, and it's seriously the size of Walmart and full of fabric.) It makes me hyperventilate to even walk into the place, it's that awesome.) Anyway, by the time the samples came I'd already found and purchased the fabric I used last year. But one of the samples was really interesting because it was crinkled. So when Sherron went back to visit her family she brought me back some of this crinkled taffeta. Enough for my girls and to share. With that fabric I made:

6) A Christmas dress for my favorite 3 year old. I used black velvet in the bodice, and it was interesting to sew with. It wasn't bad as long as I basted everything first. I was pleased with the way it turned out.

7) A Christmas dress for my favorite 12 year old. (Older sister of the 3 year old.) This one was interesting, since I haven't sewn for a long time for a 12 year old. (About 9 years, I guess!) She definitely wanted a "big girl" dress, so we ended up looking online together at dresses and she told me what she liked. I ironed the fabric so that it was mostly flat, and cut the skirt on the diagonal so that it would flare instead of being gathered & full. She also wanted long sleeves instead of short. (Can't blame her there.)

8 & 9) Dresses for my girls. (I know, I know. They already had the jumpers! But they're getting older, and they're not going to let me choose everything for much longer. So I have to do it while I can.) Instead of using the black velvet for their dresses I used navy velveteen. (Though it looks more black in the pictures for some reason.) I wasn't nearly as happy with the way their dresses turned out. The velveteen definitely is not lush like the velvet, though it is easier to sew with. I don't think I like the blue as well as the black either. (Next year I will probably use the little bit of the fabric that is left and make someone a dress with a green bodice--I'm just curious to see how that will work.) I also think the long sleeves are not nearly as cute as short are, but they are so much more practical for our cold chapel.

One night while we were playing games I made necklaces and bracelets for the girls to go with these dresses. Isn't having girls fun?!?

I also made pajama pants for all three of the little kids, but those are pretty easy so they really don't count (much) in my list of Christmas sewing. I thought the jumper/dress total was pretty impressive, though. Or pretty insane!