Sunday, February 24, 2013

Peanut Butter and Diaper Ponderings

So today I was craving peanut butter. I am allergic to peanuts....kind of. Well I have something called Exercise -Induced Anaphylaxis. It's this rare allergic disorder where I have sudden allergic reactions after eating trigger foods (some of mine are peanuts, pistachios, ibuprofen, sprouts, jicama, garbanzo beans, soy...etc.etc. ) during or after I exercise. I end up with huge hives covering my body---it's terrible looking and feeling! However, if I eat some of those same trigger foods (like peanuts and pistachios--I can live without the rest) without exercising, I don't have any reaction at all. It's weird. So since I exercise for a living, I eat peanut butter on my weekends....and I look sooo foward to it! Almond butter is good (thank-goodness I am not allergic to almonds at all!), but it's just not the same.

Is there anything better then peanut butter and chocolate? Ok, peanut butter and jelly are close but peanut butter and chocolate are a marriage of amazing flavors! You get the salty, the sweet, the melty-ness, the fattiness....mmmm! So, after church I decided to make the rest of my aerated chocolate kisses (that David had mistakenly gotten when I asked him to pick up some chocolate kisses) into the centers of some delicious peanut butter cookies! By the way, what is with this aerated chocolate? I think it's a conspiracy (a brilliant, but maddening one) that Hershey has cooked up to save money.  Hershey's is making these aerated kisses, that basically have lots of little air pockets inside---to make it very 'melty chocolate eating experience' but I think it's to cut cost on the manufacturing of chocolate (if you can cut out even 5% of chocolate product from each kiss, it's gotta add up right?) but still charge the same price...and even tout a lower calorie content per kiss! Big fat conspiracy! Ok, well not a conspiracy cause they aren't trying to hide the air pockets--it does say to expect air pockets on the package. I guess it is a win-win for those who like chocolate that melts quickly and if Hershey cuts costs AND we don't consume as many calories---it is pretty brilliant I guess...(she admitted begrudgingly).

Ok so cookies: We had some leftover green sugar crystals from Christmas so we made some four leaf clover peanut butter cookies! Silly I know as it's not even March, but this is my version of a rain dance, or rather a spring dance (bring on Spring already!). Plus I just finished a read called 'Violets of March' it's bubble gum reading (mindless entertainment---not the best literature, but necessary in these long winter months!), kind of a romantic mystery so March, green, spring, clovers, St. Patricks day, cookies....that is my line of thought.  We didn't have enough kisses or green sugar for all the dough, so we did multi-colored sprinkles and jam too. To make four leaf clovers, I just rolled little balls of dough, stuck four together and pressed them into the green sugar sprinkles---we baked them for 8 of their 10 minutes, then pressed the kisses in the center and baked them for 2 more min (now there is some melty chocolate for ya!) and voila!

Preston and Eli had the temptation-filled task of unwrapping the kisses. They were hilarious, as they began to speak in high pitched voiced for the kisses, creating a whole story line about the kiss creatures attending school and snubbing one of the kisses who lost its pointed top. Does everyone talk for inanimate objects or is this just running in my family line? They get the creating weird voices thing from me, and I got it from my mom. I actually normally just talk for my babies....I don't usually talk for inanimate objects. When the boys were babies I would speak for them, the way my mom would speak for her babies and pets way back when. We make funny comments and sing silly songs. So we skip the whole baby talk thing...I don't talk to my babies with baby talk (I talk to them like I talk to any kid) but I talk for them in a silly voice....I can't help it! So, these days I  talk for Dallin, I make this obnoxious high pitched voice (sometimes with a bad british accent) and say sarcastic things as if from Dallin's point of view--the boys find this hilarious and often say, "Mom can you do Dallin's voice? Dallin! What do you think of my hair style?" I usually oblige with some dry witty comment and I admit, I am often as amused as the boys.

So as the boys created a world for their little chocolate kiss creatures, Dallin sat in his bumbo seat, eyeing the ingredients around him with a look of interest and reaching out to knock bottles and boxes (and a carton of eggs!) over or onto the floor when I put them within his reach. He made occasional sarcastic comments about his brothers and how the peanut butter resembled something he had seen in a diaper recently (as you can imagine potty humor goes over well with the boys right now---and I admit I indulge them here and there...but it's not me, it's Dallin!). We had a great time!

Dallin George...with an Alfalfa hairstyle courtesy of Preston

Speaking of diapers, today when I was changing a dirty diaper at church in the mother's lounge, I began to sing "Poopy man, poopy man!" to the chorus of "Choose the Right". I realized how sacrilegious that probably sounded and realized a lot of my silly songs I sing to Dallin are to the tunes of hymns. I like to sing the tune of 'Carry On' with "Dallin George, Dallin George, Dallin George!" in it's place. I have also found myself singing "I am a stinky man...." to the tune of I am a child of God. Apparently my musical inspiration mostly comes when Dallin is on the diaper changing table. Wow,  I am realizing there are a lot of quirks I picked up from my mother, and where did she get them? Maybe 100 years ago I had an aunt or great-great-grandmother making up silly irreverent songs too right?  I can just imagine a maternal ancestor with fat baby in in a sunbonnet singing (set to the tune of 'America the Beautiful'.... or 'Oh Christmas Tree' come to think of it) "Oh babyface, oh babyface you mussed your pantaloons.....!"

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Little School on the Farm


Field Trip To Fire Museum
Homeschooling has been such a breeze and every moment has been wonderful! The richness of each lesson I lovingly spend time organizing and executing, along with the enriching field trips that we do weekly have brought my children so much joy and love of learning. Both children on on the verge of genius now and I can credit it all to my devoted, scholarly and nurturing lessons that fill most of every day......

Just kidding! I just wanted to get all the unrealistic ideas of what I might say out of the way.

So we have been plugging away in a not too organized fashion with our schooling. I had to laugh at myself a little cause the other day a good friend of mine who is also homeschooling told me how they are doing a unit on the human body, It sounds like she is doing some really cool projects and lessons around the theme. It sounds so fantastic---but so unlikely to happen at our house. I know how neat something like that would be but I swear I am a little ADD. I teach my kids the way I tend to think....very scattered and on whatever seems to pique my or their interest at the moment. (ie: Mom, how deep is the Nile? I don't know lets look it up! It's 33 lets look up the biggest spider in the world!). We have had the 'wow--lets write it on the calendar!' days where we hit every subject we can....language arts, social studies, science, art, math and a cooking class for good measure--but they are few and far between. Then there are other days where a trip to the grocery store, cleaning the house and dropping by the library makes up our school day. There are also the totally lazy days (please tell me everyone has these!) where I halfheartedly listen to the kids read to me while I feed Dallin---we stumble through some verbal math (hey kids who can tell me what 14 take away 3 is?)and then I put on a movie and the baby for a nap so I can get something done....and sometimes that something is a nap. I'm being brutally honest here! In between all those extremes we have some average days with computer, pencil/paper assignments and lots of reading. We are for sure not going to win Homeschool Family on the year.

Good news though! The boys had to do some testing last week and in the reading/letter stuff (yes, that is the technical term) both boys scored above average. Math they both did very well also, so away we go with our ADD schooling. It must not be terrible, right?

Oh back to those sugar cookies (see? ADD!): I had a little dough left on Monday and so the boys each picked out a cookie cutter and I let them frost their baked creation with the little remnants of frosting leftover from the big frosting craze earlier. Their creations ended up a purply gray mottled tone as the boys were mostly interested in trying to pack on as much frosting as possible. Then I had the boys write a 'story' to go with their cookie before they could eat them and here is what we ended up with. Here is what Preston's says...with corrected spelling: "This is Grandpa Rat (he thought it was very funny to name his fish 'Rat'---gotta love first grade humor!). Grandpa Rat and Grandma Gingy want to get married. At the wedding they fight. Then they stop. Then they laugh. The end."

And don't forget Eli's He is much more to the point...I think he may have swallowed about 60 times during the writing of this little story as he anticipated the sugary treat to crunch into at the end of the assignment: "This is Grandma Gingy. She wants to be eaten. The end."

I feel like maybe the marriage must not have worked out so well after all....

 Anyway, so more to the point we have our good days, our bad days ("Mom I  HATE writing (or math, or reading etc.etc.) this is the WORST day EVER!!!!" and the classic "Why do I have to do this, you are so mean!"). I won't even say that every day is interesting. It's not...some days end and I have no real clear idea what we did or if there was anything significant the kids would be able to take from the day, but you know what? Life is good. We are healthy, the boys are creative (lets play Puss and Boots and use our new pocket knives to carve a P into the couch! And yes, that really poor ugly couch!)), learning and growing and in the end, I have noticed the boys have become even closer friends these last few months. We still have the knock-down-drag-outs, but I also get to witness the moments of "Eli, do you want me to read you this book?" Or "Here Preston, I'll help you finish your math so we can start recess!" There are the moments where I think, "Man, I am so good!" and other moments when I think, "I hope DHS doesn't catch wind of this!"

And...even on the days when I don't really remember any huge 'ah-hah!' groundbreaking moments, I do feel pretty confident in thinking that at some point, amid the whining, bribing and threatening of our school day, that we likely had a few laughs and sweet moments. I just hope those moments of joy are the ones that paint the boys memory of this year of homeschooling.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pour Some Sugar.....

I love sugar cookies! They are a lot of work to make, but I don't think any other kind of cookie can come close when it comes to the joy the SIGHT of these automatically make in a person.

When I was a kid we made sugar cookies a few times around holidays. It wasn't too often, becuase now as a mother I understand that not only is it a time consuming project but a huge mess too. Really, to do the whole roll, cut and frost project you should set apart the better part of a day. Well I love making these sugary confections and love to eat them almost as much as I enjoy giving them away. Because of the lack of self control around them I limit them to only certain holidays.....Valentine's Day, Easter and Halloween (I know---there is too much sugar on Halloween---but the cookie cutters are awesome!). Well Valentine's day is this next Thursday and since the week days are so hectic I decided to make them this weekend.

Ok, and to be honest I had my tax appointment and I really love my accountant, Stuart. 'Specially knowing he works hard with me (and so sternly!) to make sure I find every thing I can to make the least painful tax experience for my little business possible. Last year I made him some of these cookies and he called raving about how they were the best sugar cookies he had ever had and asked if he could buy some from me for his entire office for Valentines Day. :) I had him subtract the cost of the cookies from my final bill and it saved me $30 so a girl can scheme a little right?

So there I was making the cookies, planning out how many I would need to give to all my visiting teaching families as well as David's home teaching families and then a few friends who really love cookies and don't mind the occasional butter/sugar binge. With Valentine's Day coming up I obviously had to cut out some hearts, but Eli had gotten some 'Ninja Bread Man' cookie cutters for Christmas so we had to try those out too( and if you ask me fighting guys are as symbolic of Valentines Day as hearts) and Preston found a beehive cookie cutter that made him think of Grandpa (the beekeepper) so we had to make some of those too. The cookies came out perfect and I was humming away ("Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting...." was the Ninjamen's fault. Too bad that was the only part I know of the song) knowing this was going to be a home run kind of a cookie day. I whipped up some butter frosting (real butter, whole milk, powder sugar and almond extract make the best sugar cookie frosting EVER). I sadly was running out of time so I determined to make only three colors of frosting rather than the 5 or 6 we usually like to turn out. After mixing up the frosting into pretty colors I found to my dismay that I was out of zip lock bags. I like piping the icing onto the cookies. Its faster, easier cleanup and looks better (I think) then frosting them with a knife or spatula.  Luckily I, being my innovative father's daughter found some breastmilk storage bags in the bag of the drawer. They were not as ideal as the ziplock bags as they had this annoying 'no-spill' feature that mean the plastic was folded into a shelf at the bottom, so it was hard to cut my hole for piping, but it worked.

Breastmilk storage turned frosting piping bags.(*note that there was never actually any breast-milk stored in the bags.)

There they are! See the Ninja guy at the top?

 And just in time! I had enough time to let the frosting set while I ran to get dressed for our tax appointment (the house was a wreck, but it's Satuday so who cares?) and I came back to find Preston helping clean up....or helping himself, maybe both? Sneaky, sneaky boy.

Meantime, Eli (who had been outside with David) came bursting in with David following (why are they still outside at this point? We should be cleaned up and in the car) but before I can scold anyone Eli's is saying "Mom, Mom!" and David is saying "Olivia, you have to see this!" And in came Eli proudly, yet gently holding onto a little baby bunny. He was solid black with the softest fur. We all had to take a turn holding him naturally and we cooed over his cute little self. Eli looked so happy and proud:

  Somehow we managed to clean up and get the kids dressed and ready out the door for our tax appointment...and Stuart loved the cookies. However, we decided Dallin wasn't allowed at the next tax appointment, he might be a handsome tax break but he was no fun in the actual appointment.

So today (Sunday) I decided to finish frosting the cookies to take to the rest of the families. For our wedding (10 years ago--wow, really?) one of Carol's neighbors gave me some 'Mormon' cookie cutters. They are so funny! I have a temple, a covered wagon, a beehive and an Angel Moroni. There is a family in our ward who would especially appreciate those cookies. So I cut out a bunch of them. I held up the one of the Angel Moroni and asked the boys, "Can you tell what this is?" They both studied it and then Eli, with a  flash of inspiration said "It's a man blowing a horn and riding one of those one wheeled bikes!" What a mental image-- it made me laugh and he was right, it did look like that!So I wrote 'Moroni' on the cookies so there was no mistaking it for the families'

 Finally the the huge sugar project concluded. I delivered cookies all around and we finished off the mellow Sunday evening with the Swiss Family Robinson movie (tree houses, three brothers, tigers, and pirates...what's not to love?) and lounging about in our casual Sunday attire....Dallin likes to be really cas'.

Now I am off to start a cookie fast (I swear, I have eaten at least a dozen cookies by myself today!) and say a special prayer of gratitude that not only did I finally dispatch of (almost) all of the cookies to other loving homes, but that my job involves working-out hard every day this next week!

"Everybody was kung fu fighting......"

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Lucia's Wedding Pics....4 Years After

First married kiss...

Lucia getting ready with her Bridesmaids
I was talking to Lucia today and we were talking about this and that when somehow we got on the subject of her wedding and I found myself feeling guilty about the wedding pictures I had taken for her (almost four years ago!) which I had never gotten to her. She laughed about my apology and said she didn't really mind cause she didn't love how she looked physically then. It made me sad as I thought of all the pretty pictures I had of her from that day. It also reminded me of  the post I made earlier about the critical way so many of us naturally view our physical bodies---when in fact they are such wonderful miraculous gifts! Anyway, I wanted to share some of the best pictures I got the day of Lucia and Chris' wedding. I think most anyone will agree that the subjects as well as the setting/content make for some beautiful photos. By the way, I am afraid I got a bit carried away in picasa playing with these pictures, but it's just so fun! :)

Juano walking Lucia down the aisle...

Ana getting bowled into by her nephews
Sharing  a kiss

Lucia and Chris laughing

Loved this sweet picture of Lucia and Chris--aren't they a  lovely couple?

And now a few pictures of my beautiful sister. Her wedding (and signature colors) are red, black and white so I played with those colors a lot to accent the pictures.
By a wall of roses

This picture was so pretty of Lucy, Chris's eyes were closed, so I just kept it of Lu. I have always admired her profile. I played with the one I took a moment after where you can see a bit more of her face and cropped it in close and here is how that one turned out....isn't it pretty?

Lovely Lu

Mr. and Mrs. Larsen at last (did I mention Lucia's designed and made her own wedding dress?)

Just at the close of the reception my boys ran to me to take me out onto the church porch to see a rainbow in the distance. I thought it was a very sweet symbol of the life-long promises made that day.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Boy's World

" Did you know that elephants eat other elephant's poop?" Preston said casually licking peanut butter off his sandwich. I raised my eyebrows at him as a warning but taking it as interest he continued, "Yeah, they eat it cause it has nutrients that they need....I think like fiber and stuff so they have to cause it's good for them." I opened my mouth but before words could come out Eli chimed in with "I am sure glad I don't have to eat my own poop!" "Ok, guys not while we eat lunch!" I finally got out. Preston and Eli looked as me puzzled and when they saw the disgusted look on my face as I spooned a glob of smashed beans into Dallin's mouth they burst out laughing. It is interesting--being surrounded by boys, it's never boring although chaos, messiness and throwing punches is a daily part of the agenda.

Tonight is the superbowl and I sat briefly next to my husband on the sofa while his eyes were glued to the football game, Dallin was grunting to be fed more (where does all the food go? He is bottomless!) and the older boys wrestled in the corner pretending to be superheros. I looked around and said to no one in particular...."Superheros, sports and hunting--this is my life! I grinned at David and said ironically, "How did this happen?"

I mean I was never a super girly girl. The makeup and love of clothes didn't come until I was a teenager. I had never been a babydoll toting girl who liked to play about weddings and babies. I was the girl that wanted to prove I could play with the boys and spent more time playing sports with the neighborhood boys then with the barbie-loving girls. I wore pinks and purples but it didn't stop me from getting into lots of boyish trouble with my brothers--building precarious tree swings, skinny dipping in canals and playing army, cops and robbers and all other kinds of stereotypical boys games.

It's funny because so many people who know me look at me with my curly hair, makeup and high stilleto boots with three boys and a husband in tow and will say "Oh you need a girl!" and part of me would really love to have a daughter. But as I think about it now, I am really good with being a mom of boys. I don't mind the loud yells of laughter as they tease and wrestle--I find it cheering and even comforting. Thank-goodness I don't have to comb my boys hair (they like their hair cut really short!)  cause I get distracted easily with other things until I am literally walking out the door. I also don't have to worry too much about what they are wearing when we go out (as long as there aren't big holes and there are not huge obvious stains on their shirts). And though they are more sensitive then people generally credit boys for, they forgive quickly and rarely hold a grudge longer than five minutes. They are so easy to please too--a chance to watch a Transformers cartoon with a cup of cocoa and they are full of loving energy stating jovially, yet sweetly  "Mom, you are such a  nice mom!"  Maybe girls would be as easy--I don't know they are not in my deck of cards as of now and maybe never as a mother. For now though I look at myself and who I am and think how much I wouldn't trade a thing about my boy-filled family.

Who else gets to have such interesting lunch conversations about how elephants get enough fiber?