Sunday, December 20, 2009

October 2009: Still playing catch up- Lazy day at the Lake

Yes, I am still playing catch up of October in December. I love that in October we can still be playing in the water. My friend Melissa and her daughter Aftyn, Tate's little buddy, invited us for a lazy day at Canyon Lake. It was so nice to sit on the shore and let Tate run around in the sand and the calm lake's little wading section. His favorite part was chasing the ducks. I was able to grab a little video of this. It has Tate chasing the fleeing ducks and yelling, "Come back here duckies." Tate and Aftyn grossed out some older kids by dipping their lollipops in the lake and then sucking on them. So sanitary, but they survived:-) I love this shot of them trying to pick up this huge rock. Tate is all about doing everything by himself now, "I do it Mommy" or "I got it Mommy."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

December 2009: Its Official: I'm old!

Ok so maybe I've thought this in the past, but this time...Its official, I'm old!...and I hate my maternity clothes.

Prologue: The year was 2002 and I was working in an office pregnant with Owen my first little baby. The fashion of the day for maternity clothes- tent-like and flowing. Of course since then I have had 3 more pregnancies and have tried to update my maternity wardrobe on a limited budget. Thankfully maternity clothes have come a long way, but are still pretty pricey. Past pregnancies I've actually loved maternity clothes knowing that elastic waistbands were comfortable and perfectly acceptable. This time I'm really struggling.
I have my maternity clothes separated in my closet in 4 sections:
1. Only to be worn around the house
2. Only if I have to
3. Gonna have to make it work and
4. Love these. Lets say my "Love these" section is very slim, I have been wearing the same few shirts and new jeans my mom graciously bought me this pregnancy.

So yesterday I went to my closet and sat there looking at my "wardrobe". Unfortunately I had worn the only warm shirts in my "Love these" section 2 days in a row and needed to chose something from the "Gonna have to make it work" section. Well I tried. I added a fun black vest with silver buttons from Forever 21 (oh how we wish) and a long silver and black necklace with some grey pants to a wrap-around long, semi-puffy sleeved red dress shirt that ties in the back. I was going to be hitting a few of my neighbors' doors to invite them to an activity with the local Mom's group I have joined.

Door #1.
The girl across the street is very sweet, probably in her early early 20s and has just had her first baby. She has decided to be a stay at home mom and is transitioning from working to being at home full-time. I thought she might enjoy trying out a mom's group. Well I gave her my invitation I made, told her about the group, and the activity. I told her that I had joined this group and was glad that I did and thought she might want to try it out. She then proceeds to ask me, "Is this a group with lots of moms in their 40s?" I have to say I was really taken aback. I paused for longer than was probably customary, and stumbled some words out about how there were moms ranging in ages. I left feeling very old indeed, half wanting to laugh and the other half wanting to cry, and definitely wanting to rip my maternity shirt into shreads.
So that's it, its official, I'm old. I must look it. I never thought it would arrive, but I guess it has.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December 2009: The Miracle of the Broken Tooth

"The Miracle of the Broken Tooth", a very unlikely title for a Christmas story, but one for me nonetheless. The past hour alone has allowed me to contemplate and discover this miracle and has brought me once again to write.

Anyone who has known me for a long, or short for that matter, time knows that I seem to constantly have problems with my teeth. I feel comfortable in claiming that I have the worst teeth ever. Ok, so maybe not like those in a 3rd world country, but amongst us tooth-brushing, flossing, "flourided" water drinking, regular dentist attending Americans, I am a solid contestant.

So over the past couple of weeks I have been in real pain once again with one of my teeth. It always seems to be worse when I am pregnant as the baby seems to suck all the calcium out of my teeth, but I have been a real diligent milk drinker this time despite the potential for that to cause kidney stones- a story for another time that no one wants to hear. This pain increased severely until I could not chew or even tap my tooth without sharp, shooting pain. So a call to my buddies at Dr. Curley's dental office got me a same day appointment. To save some of the long details it seemed as if the problem with my tooth was beyond their expertise so off to an endodontist, a root specialist I found out, I had to go. No surprise to my husband or I. We could probably put a nice down payment on a house with the amount of money we have spent in my mouth.

After a consultation with the endodontist there were a few possibilites with my far back molar: my old old dentist could have left instruments in my tooth during the root canal, he could have not drilled far enough into my root or he could have drilled a hole in the bottom of it, or it could be none of these. Exciting isn't it?! What was not so exciting was the potential $1500 it might cost. I prayed and prayed for a miracle in the days proceeding my appointment. Tears and tears later I was there with Dr. Roe. She didn't even get as far as drilling into my tooth before I heard "oh, that is unusual". Not something you want to hear, but I told her that "usunusal" was my middle name. I always managed to fall into those unusual circumstances that lucky 1-2% of the population seem to fall into. She proceeded to tell me that my tooth had broken off below my gumline with my crown. She said that this never happens and apparently it was so rare and intriguing that she asked if she could show my tooth around the office.

Next came the whisking of me off to an oral surgeon because apparently my tooth needed to be removed right away. Are you kidding me? I laughed one of those laughs that is a mixture of disbelief and a cynicism derived from certain likelihood and delirium. I was then very anxious as I realized that normally this procedure requires being "put under". The oral surgeon explained that due to my pregnancy only local anesthesia could be used and I would only be able to take tylenol for the pain. He was very sensitive to my situation as his wife was pregnant as well.

As I sat in the OR I began reading a book I had brought, "Raising Up a Family to the Lord" and had decided to listen to Christmas music on my I-Pod. Despite my anxiety for the safety of my baby and the anticipated pain I would feel, I felt a peace. As he began to poke me with needles to try and numb me, I felt more shooting pain. It was at that time that a song that is very special to me came up on my playlist, "Once in Royal David City". Owen used to sweetly sing along to the children's choir in this song when he was two. It tells of Jesus Christ as a baby and his mission on this earth. As the surgery continued with horrible pain and pressure in my jaw and horrific sounds of a saw and the crunching and cracking of my jawbone and tooth, I asked my Savior to be with me, over and over. Although the pain did not decrease, I felt his Spirit and love and a presence close to me helping me get through it. I suddenly felt a gratitude for the small, tender mercies of that day: kind and fast-moving ladies in both offices, a caring endodontist, a sensitive, sweet oral surgeon, generous family and friends who cared for my children, and the Christmas song that played.

Perhaps the miracle I had prayed for did come in the most unlikely way. The tooth extraction although extremely painful only came to be $30 versus a retreatment of my tooth and a crown possibly totally $1500. Yes my tooth is now gone and the after pain has also been very difficult. I will need a bone graft and possibly a dental implant after the baby is born, but those are not immediate and can hopefully be planned for. What has come now is not a burdening dental bill but a lightening of my heart. A recognition of my Father in Heaven's love for me. And although he can't take away all of my pain and trials He is with me to love me, to give me peace, and to send others to help take care of my and my family. So there you have it, this year's Christmas tale "The Miracle of the Broken Tooth":-).

Monday, November 23, 2009

September 2009: Still catching up - Disneyland

Ok, so I think our family loves Disneyland a little too much, but that's alright, we live here so we should enjoy it. I am trying to catch up with the past few months and in looking at the photos I have left to post, a large majority of them are of our many trips to Disneyland. Mike and I think we are ready for a little break from it and I thought maybe the boys would too. I have been continually proven wrong on that point when I have listened to their conversations to each other and their friends turn to Disneyland over and over again... what rides they rode, how many times, recounting the turns and sights. It makes me smile.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

September 2009: Temple Day with the Boys

My boys ask me all the time if they could go down and visit the San Diego Temple. Mike and I attend often with the generous help of others who watch the boys. The boys were thrilled when Mom decided that we would all go down to the temple together.

Mike is in charge of the young men ages 12-18 for our local church congregation, what our church refers to as a Young Men's President. Several times a year the young men and young women who have met worthiness requirements, such as keeping their bodies morally clean, have the opportunity to enter the temple to perform what our church refers to as "baptisms for the dead". This term may sound illogical or strange but it is anything but that. This term comes from a scripture in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15:29. Since we believe in the eternal nature of our spirits and that all men should be given an opportunity to accept or reject the gospel of Jesus Christ, this ordinance is performed in our temples as was in New Testament times. Baptism by immersion is performed by a living person, in this case one of the youth, acting on behalf of one who is dead. From my own experience, it is a wonderful feeling to be able to provide this gift of baptism to someone who can no longer receive it on their own. To me it is a real testament of God's love for all his children.

Mike was one of the leaders taking the youth down to the temple and so I decided that the boys and I would wait outside on the grounds until he was finished. We dressed in our church clothes, brought scripture stories to read and snacks to eat on a blanket.
I love this photo. The overexposure gives a feeling of heaven:-)
We walked around the temple grounds and talked about the importance of the temple for our family. The boys have already learned so much and at a young age associate having a good feeling with being close to the temple. A man offered to take a photo of us 4 and he didn't quite fit us all in the window:-)
Of course after an hour and half of trying their best to be reverent, Mom was pushing her luck. It was a wonderful experience and I hope we will do it more often. After Mike was finished we were able to have our family photo taken together.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

October 2009: Poll Prediction Proven - Its a Girl!!!

Well we are still in shock, but Its A Girl!!! Good job on the poll guys:-) We had quite the crew in the ultrasound room this morning-myself, Mike, Owen, Eyan, my Mom and my Grandma (Tate stayed with a friend). The little baby (still hard for me to say "she") was laying in a difficult position to see throughout the majority of the ultrasound. The technician kept saying that she didn't know if she was going to be able to let us know today. Thankfully she didn't give up. She pushed the ultrasound wand around into my belly and was successful in helping the baby to move. She then was able to proclaim our little baby a girl. Automatically a stream of tears came trickling down my face. Everyone was so excited, particularly Owen:-). He has wanted a baby sister so bad. It has been so much fun to see and hear the excitement from others as we have shared the news this morning! We are very happy and maybe it will sink in within the next few months. Now I have to get planning the nursery; I'm thinking lavender, black, and white, maybe a little aqua but we'll see...

Monday, October 26, 2009

September 2009: Down, Set, Hike!

Owen is loving football! It is so much fun to watch these little 5-7 year old boys at practice and especially in a game. All these boys have known and seen of football is tackle. It makes sense to them that you tackle the one with the football, and of course anyone else on the field. What's this flag thing? They don't understand why you would pull someone's flag instead of tackle them. Or in Owen's case, put them in a head lock or yank them to the ground by their jersey. Thankfully they are beginning to learn. Owen loves to block or his form of blocking, see above:-) He also loves to be quarterback and run the ball of course.

The Johnson competitiveness hasn't fully come alive in him yet, but we have definitely seen some glimpses. Mike has laughed outloud a couple times at Owen's form of justice during a game in response to his getting his flag pulled, tackled, etc.. Mike says its exactly what he would have done; to me its not so funny. The coaches are SO patient, its commendable. We have really had a good experience with this program. Go Thundercats!

Owen has been able to have a few visitors come to his games: Grandma, Grandpa, and GG. He loves when people come to watch:-) He has a game at the end of the season at a high school field under the lights. Should be fun!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

September 2009: Recipe 4: Strange but Tasty Crock Pot Chicken

I do have to say that I loved the name so I had to try it. I was also drawn to the fact that it is made in a crock pot AND you can put the chicken in frozen!!! No remembering to get the chicken out the night before, fabulous! And the recipe is...

Strange but Tasty Crock Pot Chicken
as submitted by Jennifer Anderson

4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts (frozen is ok) :-)!!!
1.5 cups any salsa (I chose one of my faves Santa Barbara brand Mango & Peach salsa)
3T brown sugar
1T dijon mustard

Directions per Jennifer:
Put the chicken in the crockpot, mix the salsa/br sugar/mustard and pour over the chicken. Cook on low 6-7 hours or until chicken is done. Serve over rice.

Wow, that's it! I've got to remember to use the crockpot more. Dishes like this make me think maybe I could cook a couple times a week at least:-). Is this really considered cooking though?

The chicken was so tender and the name says it all, "strange but tasty". We love Basmati rice in our family. Of course rice in our house has to have Mike's stamp of approval. Unfortunately our rice cooker is on the fritz so I sort of tried to do it in the microwave and didn't realize that having a oversized lid on the dish was not a great idea. All the ooey-gooey steamy residue from the rice dripped off the sides of the lid and all over the microwave. Oh well, the rice still turned out tasting pretty good. I shredded the chicken to make it easier for the kids to eat.

August 2009: Recipe 3: Homemade Mac & Cheese with Chicken Casserole

Ok, sooooo sorry I am VERY behind in my fabulous "Girl's Got No Skills Contest" but I hope that I have done an okay job explaining my circumstances. I am determined to do better. Who cares if I feel like I have the flu everyday, right?! I am waiting for a "You go girl" to sound out from the page. Oh well its just me here in this room so no affirmations yet. So I made Recipe #3 way back in August, but I took good notes so here we go:

Homemade Mac & Cheese with Chicken Casserole
as submitted by Melanie LaSelle

1 lb box of macaroni. We use shells
2 cans of cream of chicken (reduced fat) soup (I used 99% Fat Free)
2 cups of milk (I used Fat Free)
1 can from Costco of chicken (or leftover chicken in the same ounces, chunked up)
1 16 oz pkg of shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I used aged Wisconsin sharp cheddar - yumm!!)

Directions per Melanie:
This looks not so good when making, but cooked is delicious.
Mix all together and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
As a side, we make either petite brussel sprouts or broccoli.
Everyone always loves it.

So I've never made anything with the word "casserole" in it. I do have to say that what I've heard from people about casseroles is true, they are pretty easy. Throw it all together and bake and voila!, dinner:-) Of course it wasn't exactly that easy but it felt easy and that counts in my book. I think if I would make it again, I wouldn't have looked at the fat content of the shredded cheese, yikes! Of course I'm not eating the entire pot so I guess its ok.

A friend of mine came over just as the Mac & Cheese was coming out of the oven and she was sold just from the smell and then doubly sold when she tasted it. She got the recipe and made it for her fam the next day.

Of course just as I was done plating the kids' portions, my camera died. I had to complete my photo series with a janky* photo taken on my phone. Sorry!

*janky- a fun word I picked up from my lil sis and her friends meaning according to the Urban Dictionay "(adjective) inferior quality; held in low social regard; old and delapidated; refers almost exclusively to inanimate material objects, not to people"; not to be confused with "jinkies" used by my beloved Velma from Scooby-Doo:-).

I served sliced plums (hmm, I wonder where I got those plums:-) ) and broccoli which my kids loved. I love the little kids divider plates and my kids love to eat off them. The meal was definitely a croud pleaser. Eyan told me that it was his favortie tied with "mutmeal", what our family affectionately calls oatmeal as named by Tate:-) That says a lot because my kids would eat "mutmeal" for every meal of the day if we would let them. (And all too often that resembles reality:-) )

Sunday, October 04, 2009

September 2009: Announcement!!!

So it is definitely time for me to do a little bit of catching up. Hopefully this will explain my significant absense from blogging as well as an explanation for all of you who so generously participated in my "Girls Got No Skills" contest. For those of you who read my Spotlight and Spoiler, I promised that I would give the complete story, and I finally will.
To quote a bit from my Spotlight:
"The past 6 months has been a difficult time for our family. In summary, beginning in April my husband was no longer able to swallow food. For months he went to drs without answers as I watched him shrink and almost starve to death. Before this all began we had decided that it was time to try for another baby. I ended up miscarrying. On the same day Mike finally got his diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, we found out we were pregnant again. As you can imagine finding out that the person you love the most has a crippling disease that could take away all of his functions is beyond heart-wrenching. I was actual grateful that I had discovered I was pregnant that same day despite the wonder if this baby would know the amazing man and father as I know him. Knowing I had a child developing inside of me forced me to gain control of my convulsive crying.
Since then my extremely optimistic husband, my supportive family, encouraging friends, and my loving God have helped me to work through fear and despair. The realization of having this disease has only brought out the best in my husband, he is truly the most inspiring person I have ever known. This helps me to want to be that for him. I am not sure what our future holds but I know God’s hand is in it and I pray it brings out my true character as I move forward as a wife, mother, and friend."

Yes, I am pregnant, and what a blessing it is!!! Because of just recently having a miscarriage and because of pain I experienced early on in this pregnancy that I feared to be a tubal pregnancy, I have been very cautious about telling anyone. I am now 17 weeks!!! Of course I'm due in March, its THE month to be born in:-) It has been a relief to be able to go to my Dr.'s appointments and hear the baby's heartbeat and see its little Johnson body doing near back flips on the "Dr.'s TV" as Owen calls it. I have also been able to feel the baby move within the last few weeks and what an amazing sensation it is.

To add to my reassurance that everything is going great with the pregnancy- this is what my Dr. tells me:-) - I am having horrible morning sickness. I never experienced this with my past 3 pregnancies. I rarely felt sick and I had never thrown up (of course I had other fun & exciting problems which some of you are aware) but no morning sickness. Of course I'm not sure why they call it "morning" sickness because it can be an all day thing. I have been soooo sensitive to smells & tastes, its really annoying to someone who loves food. Gratefully generous family and friends have been bringing us meals and meals. Also Mike is discovering what he can eat, which is mainly vegetarian dishes, and has been cooking a little bit more.

Because this pregnancy is so different from my previous 3, Mike is convinced that I am having a girl. I am not convinced but have suddenly this week become anxious to know. My ultrasound is scheduled for Oct. 29th so I've got 3 more weeks of waiting. I love my boys and another one would be so much fun. Adding a girl to the mix would bring some needed femininity and of course some fun clothes shopping:-) I do have to say that my greatest reason for wanting a girl would be to have someone by my side in tending to Mike's needs if it comes to that. I know the boys would be there, but its different with girls I think.

So there you go, I'm going to put a poll up to see who votes for a boy and who dares to vote for a girl? (You know that its only a 20% chance that after having two children of the same gender in a row that you will have one of the opposite.) Your results of my poll will be in on the 28th!

September 2009: Picture Day

So the last day of the Spotlight that I had to offer up info on was Thursday, Picture Day. (On Friday they tell you nice things about yourself.) It was so fun to go through my photos of my life. Gratefully many moons ago I had conquered putting most of my "growing up" photos into chronological order. I had a good many laughs looking at them, including some "why did mom let me leave the house in that ensemble?"s. I ended up only posting a few because it was taking forever to scan them into my Mom's computer. Since most of these ladies have known me less than 6 months, I wanted to show the transformation of my hair throughout my life but I couldn't find the one with my horrendous home permed hair (maybe I chucked them) and I didn't have time to scan a few others. Oh, well, I think they got the jist. I also wanted to find one of my rad high school gangsta car, but the only ones I could find were either one at night in which you can't even see the car, although you can make me out holding my steering wheel or one of me in curlers-not sure why.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun for me to post these on the blog:

Little me:-) Love the woven shoes and awesome ruffly slit in my overalls.

Living in Alaska. Luke with his awesome side part is next to me, accompanied by our neighbor friends: Mark, Denise (my bff) and her brother Brad kneeling.

My good friend Rachel and I at EFY (Especially for Youth, a week long church youth camp) in Missouri my Jr. year.

One of Mike and I's engagement photos taken in Aspen Grove where we met. I love his curly hair:-)

My favorite wedding photo. What a picture perfect day it was!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September 2009: Question Day

So its Wednesday, Question Day. If you have been following this week, you will know that I have been asked to be the "Spotlight" for a local Mom's Group I have joined. Despite being having its difficulties, I have enjoyed remembering some of the fun & crazy things that have happened in my life:-) Today is your chance to participate in this Spotlight. The mom's in the group will be asking me questions based on my Spotlight and 30 Random Facts. If you would like to ask me questions too, I'll be happy to answer. You may never get the chance again:-). Some of them have already asked me some, so I'll post those in the comments.

Tomorrow is picture day, that should be revealing:-)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

September 2009: Random Facts Day

Ok, so Day 2 of this spotlight. Tuesday is Random Facts Day. I had to come up with 30 random things about myself. It was a tough thing to do. It was actually kind of fun to remember all the "random" stuff that has happened in my life when forced to do it. I have never filled out one of those emails that I get forwarded that ask you all kinds of questions (I apologize because I'm sure some of you have sent them to me) because then I'll have to make a decision about whether I'm a cake or ice cream person. Why should I have to choose? This random thing is much better, no pressure to fit my answers into any sort of category. I'm sure some of these may be familiar to you:-) So here they are in random order:

  1. Had to have knee surgery after a skiing date went awry.
  2. I’m California royalty.
  3. Knocked out my front teeth when I was eight. A comedic novel could be written about my teeth problems.
  4. Love to travel-been to Paris 2x, French Riviera, London, Barcelona, Italy & Mexico City
  5. Been in 2 car accidents- one involving a dirt jump & the other a concrete wall
  6. My husband read Harry Potter 1-4 to me and did all the different voices and accents
  7. While giving a talk at church in front of the entire congregation, a haggard looking man who had walked in from off the street began approaching me on the stand proclaiming to be Jesus. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t him.
  8. Hate to cook, but luckily married a man who does, he even goes grocery shopping
  9. Love to play games and create new ones for all sorts of occasions
  10. Want to learn to sail before I die
  11. Never colored my hair, the day is sadly approaching I’m sure
  12. Save everything, can’t bear to throw things away
  13. Extremely accident prone –once got my shoe stuck under the door while saying goodnight to my date. People often say, “It could only happen to you.”
  14. Favorite tastes: balsamic vinegar, mushrooms, pesto, avocado, my mom’s strawberry shortcake, a good bread, banana & nutella crepe
  15. Can’t live without music
  16. Dated an Italian foreign exchange student one summer
  17. My cure-alls: sound of the ocean waves, ice cream, Peachy-‘o’s, Skittles, delphiniums
  18. Created wallpaper in my dorm room from all the Skittles I ate; came home w/ five cavities
  19. Love being surrounded by color
  20. Sewed all my boy’s nursery & bedroom bedding because I couldn’t find any I liked; LA’s Fashion District is super fun
  21. Always manage to pick out the most expensive item when shopping, it is now a game with my husband at the store (thanks Mom, I inherited that from you)
  22. Love to dance, my parents hired a DJ for my 30th b-day party
  23. In high school I drove a Honda Civic bought in Compton with ground effects, fixed muffler, heavily tinted windows, and a removable steering wheel. Loved it!
  24. My first job was at In N Out - still carry the huge safety pin as my key chain, was once almost confiscated at the airport but I was pregnant & cried so they let me keep it.
  25. Always wanted to play the guitar. Hubbie skipped lunches for months to buy me one, now all I need is lessons.
  26. Absolutely love to take photos. Have a nice camera but don’t know how to use it.
  27. First met my future in-laws with my face completely painted blue & white.
  28. Fall is my favorite season (in locations where 4 seasons actually exist), love the sound of the breeze through the different colored aspen leaves.
  29. Wish had more excuses to do new things or at least things I used to do:-)
  30. A mix-tape of my life, Side A:
    September- Earth Wind & Fire
    Together Forever- Rick Astley
    To Be With You – Mr. Big
    Estoy Aqui - Shakira
    Groove Is In the Heart – Dee-lite
    Canon in D – Pachelbel
    Come What May – Nicole Kidman & Ewan McGregor
    When You Say Nothing at All- Ronan Keating
    Sweetest Thing – U2
    Only You –Yaz
    Come Back Down - Lifehouse
    Stolen – Dashboard Confessional
If any of you would like to participate in this spotlight week that I have been subjected to, than tomorrow is your chance:-) Wednesday is Question Day where you can ask me...well, questions. :-) Please be nice.

Monday, September 28, 2009

September 2009: Spotlight and Spoiler

I joined a local mom's group back in February. It has been a great way to meet people & have others come up with fun things for my kids and I to do together:-). They have a "member spotlight" feature where the moms take turns sharing about themselves all week. Craziness, huh?!, to have to talk about yourself for a full week. Well I've really enjoyed learning about these other women and it has now come to my turn. Writing a bio about yourself is a tough thing, what do you include when you only have so much space? You don't want to bore people & I hope that is not what I have done. So much is left out, but oh well, its done. I decided I might as well share it on my blog.

Spoiler warning: Since I am so far behind on my posts, things are revealed in this bio that I have not shared yet, so if you want the full story you may want to wait until...well I'm not sure when I'll get around to updating, hopefully soon.
Here's one version of my life so far:

My story begins on March XX, 19XX in a little town called Orange, CA. I was born a ninth generation Californian to the greatest parents, Russell & Teresa. I am the oldest of 5 kids: 3 girls & 2 boys. I loved growing up with lots of siblings. My parents raised us all in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons:-). My Dad was in the oil business so we moved lots while I was growing up. I went to 5 different elementary schools. K- lived in Yorba Linda where I remember learning to ride my red bike in the cul-de-sac. 1st – moved to Denver, CO where my mom gave me a home perm that left me unrecognizable even from my teacher & where I accidentally got on the junior high bus instead of the elementary school bus-what bus driver can’t recognize a 1st grader from a 7th grader-I was so traumatized. 2nd-4th – moved to Anchorage, AK where we played badminton on our front lawn til 10 pm in the summer sun and climbed our Mt. McKinley, the large mound of snow left in our cul-de-sac by the snow plows, in the winter. I can truthfully tell my children that I walked uphill in the dark with flashlights in the snow & ice to school:-). 5th- moved to Dallas, TX where I was so embarrassed by a little boy who liked me and would buy me teddy bears and necklaces. I don’t know what he saw in me, it was a really bad fashion year for me, 1989:-). 6th – moved back to Cali, to little old Wildomar, where my mom told us we would only live for 1 year (my parents finally moved from that house in 2006). Jr. High was awkward but also full of fun- drill team & science club trips to Catalina.

Except for my freshman year, I loved high school at Elsinore High, go tigers! I got up at 5:30 every morning to attend early morning seminary (scripture study) before school. I was involved in so many things which I loved and hated at the same time. I think this is the time in life I realized my true talent for sleeping. I could fall asleep anywhere and get a great sleep. One time my mom found me asleep sitting in my desk chair with my head on my bed & the rest of my body suspended in air. I filled my time to the max-volleyball, track, AP classes, student government, CSF, Spanish, Yearbook, church youth group and leadership, and then boys on the side:-). My real driving force behind the madness was to be able to get into the school of my dreams, Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. It is extremely competitive to get in and I studied so hard to be able to do well in class and on the ACT. All of my effort paid off and in the fall of 1996 I headed up to beautiful Provo, UT a college town about 40 minutes south of Salt Lake City. I was initially very intimidated by the amazingly talented people that I met, all of them having to be great at what they do to get into the school. I was just me in a sea of 30,000 phenomenal people. I soon overcame my insecurities and began to embrace & learn from others instead of being intimidated. I forged life-long friendships with people who shared & understood the same core beliefs I did and who knew how to have fun- the straight-laced way:-).

I learned how to study in high school, but I learned how to play in college. Yes, classes were challenging, but I had already developed good study habits so I didn’t feel too overwhelmed. I entered BYU as a Spanish major. I had always been interested in studying the language of my mother’s family. My grandmother is full Mexican but her father, my Abuelito, believed that they were American, so they should speak English. He did not teach his children Spanish which I find so intriguing, what a different era they lived in. I found a new love my first semester in college, Humanities. I could not believe that I had a class where my homework would be to attend concerts, go to museums, watch foreign films, and create art. I ended up double majoring in Humanities and Spanish teaching. Learning to play was lots of fun. Attending a large university has some definite benefits: lots of fun & new activities and lots of nice, smart, cute boys. I did my share of dating in high school but college was a whole new experience. I went out multiple times during some weeks and was able to really see some of the characteristics I wanted and definitely did not want in a partner.

After my Freshman year I came home to work 2 jobs to save up to attend study abroad in Spain. At the end of the summer I went up to school early to be a counselor to the incoming Freshman. It was during “training” that I met Mike- Pre-Law, dry, witty sense of humor, confident, horrible fashion sense, but very impressive & romantic. We both had bad first impressions of each other, but that soon melted away to what I can only explain as a fairy tale courtship. I was definitely whisked away. We were engaged in October and married in January 1998 in the majestic San Diego Temple for time & all eternity:-). I continued to attend school a little distracted but graduated with my teaching degree in 2000. Although I did not make it to Spain, Mike promised me that he would take me to Europe, which he did in 2001. I was in heaven amongst the architecture, sculpture, and paintings.

In looking back on our 11 years of marriage, it is amazing all that we have gone through together. We live our life faith-based and believe that what has transpired is God’s will for us. In our darkest hours, this has been tested but hopefully I have passed those tests. Mike has had various jobs some of which have ended in extreme financial difficulty. We have relied on the generosity of good friends and family to make it through. My family is incredible and I am so happy that most of us live so close. We are quite the crew together, seeming to fall back into our pre-adult selves. Despite several medical complications, we have enjoyed the blessing of 3 darling, active boys: Owen 7, Eyan 4, and Tate 2 and are happily anticipating the arrival of baby number 4 in March. We are a tad hesitant since each time we have a child, we end up moving. When O was 3 months we moved to So Cal; when E was 6 months we moved to UT; when T was 2 weeks we moved back to So Cal. Most days I feel blessed to be able to stay home with my boys :-). We have a busy crew; lots of wrestling, dirt digging, bike riding, lego building, lightsaber dueling, and tons of eating. For the most part the boys play well together and would all sleep in the same room if we’d let them.

I have also had opportunities to explore some of my interests and talents. I have had my own floral business, began training as a yoga instructor, and had, until this past Feb, my own company as well as one with my sister selling handmade children’s and women’s products online and to boutiques. I have too many interests for rooms and boxes in the house. I love projects but am not great at finishing them unless they are done in one sitting because I am always overly ambitious as to the undertaking.

The past 6 months has been a difficult time for our family. In summary, beginning in April my husband was no longer able to swallow food. For months he went to drs without answers as I watched him shrink and almost starve to death. Before this all began we had decided that it was time to try for another baby. I ended up miscarrying. On the same day Mike finally got his diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, we found out we were pregnant again. As you can imagine finding out that the person you love the most has a crippling disease that could take away all of his functions is beyond heart-wrenching. I was actual grateful that I had discovered I was pregnant that same day despite the wonder if this baby would know the amazing man and father as I know him. Knowing I had a child developing inside of me forced me to gain control of my convulsive crying. Since then my extremely optimistic husband, my supportive family, encouraging friends, and my loving God have helped me to work through fear and despair. The realization of having this disease has only brought out the best in my husband, he is truly the most inspiring person I have ever known. This helps me to want to be that for him. I am not sure what our future holds but I know God’s hand is in it and I pray it brings out my true character as I move forward as a wife, mother, and friend.

Hope you're not asleep, thanks for letting me share:-)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

September 2009: Hair Cut Day

Ok, so I know I have A LOT of catching up to do on my blog posts, but I just had to interject into my chronological flow to get some tips from all your pro moms. So today is Saturday, I'm thinking a walk with the kids, some catching up on some abandoned chores, updating my seriously behind blog, returning long overdue emails, and giving the boys needed haircuts. Well little did I realize that today would simply become "Hair Cut Day".

Yes my boys will be grateful later in life, and I'm sure their wives and children will be too, that they have great, thick hair that grows rather quickly, but for Mom a.f.t.b.k.a. Stylist Extraordinaire (a.f.t.b.k.a. = also forced to be known as), not so much. Yes its marvelous for our family photos to have kids with great hair:-) but not when you are the one having to practically straight jacket your kids to get them to let you wash their hair, then have them sit on an unsturdy makeshift barber chair comprised of a folding chair and toy bin, wrap a way-too-big plastic covering around their neck, and ask them to sit tall and hold their head still for an amazing amount of time while water drips into their eyes as you comb their hair forward and then the itchiness starts on their nose and neck from all the cut hairs. I might as well have been using a hacksaw, I've got to get a good pair of scissors.

Well that was my Saturday, and all that not just for one boy, but for all 3. It took me 4 hours to wash and cut their hair today. Just for Owen, it was 2 hours. [Ok so truthfully he has the most hair and he wanted to go from surfer long to the tousled faux-hawk look:-) He has so much hair that the clippers wouldn't even work on him.] This time I even opted to forgo the convenience of cleanup on my kitchen floor to letting them sit in front of the TV in hopes of this speeding up the process. Overall I think the boys hair turned out pretty good, but Sharky's Cuts for Kids is looking pretty tempting next time. Mom can't compete with sitting in a mini-Hummer while getting your hair cut.

Please tell me you guys have some great solutions for "Hair Cut Day". I'd like to make room for other things on that day. Even solutions on how to help your kids overcome the fear of clippers.

Just have to add that no blood was drawn in the process today, so that is a plus!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

August 2009: Eyan Starts Preschool!!!

Eyan is soo excited about starting preschool. He did not attend last year and is more than ready to go this year. Through my Aunt Michelle I found this amazing preschool called "Lil Ranchers". It is a developmental preschool that studies concepts such as the alphabet and numbers through "doing". They have music, yoga, horsemanship (Eyan's favorite), Spanish, sign language, organic gardening, cooking in addition to all the other preschool type learning. He is really loving it. Here he is on the first day of school in his favorite t-shirt. He goes to school with his cousin Bronson and his buddy, Charlie. His teacher Miss Val is someone that you can just feel their enthusiasm for kids and teaching the moment you talk to her. I was so concerned about finding the right preschool for Eyan that we could afford. I am grateful everything came together.

The first week they did a Pre-K assessment test. He passed everything with flying colors - Miss Val said he's already ready for Kindergarten academically, another sharp kid I've got, except that he didn't know his birthday and he answered some questions a little differently than expected:-)
Q: Where does meat come from? A: Boxes
Q: Where does milk come from? A: Bottles

He has also been a great little missionary at preschool. During music time his teacher asked the children to share with her some songs that they knew. Little Eyan and his bud Charlie stood up and sang all the words to "Called to Serve", a church hymn he learned in Primary, in front of his entire class. Miss Val was so impressed that she asked for the music to the hymn and will be attending the special Sacrament Meeting Program in which all the Primary children perform all their songs they have learned throughout the year. Charlie's dad also spoke in church recently and shared their experience. He had asked Eyan and Charlie come up in front of the entire congregation to sing it again. Eventhough they have practiced during the week at the church, I wasn't sure Eyan was going to do it. Even I would have been nervous. Mike walked him up to the front and as soon as the music began and Charlie began to sing, Eyan chimed in singing all the words. Everyone was teary eyed listening to them. It was a wonderful moment to watch as a mother:-) He really is musically-inclined. We had people coming up and telling us that Eyan was on perfect pitch. We've got to get him in some music lessons or something. Any suggestions?
For now preschool will do the trick!

August 2009: Recipe 2: Dinner Sausage Sensation

First of all, love the name, "Dinner Sausage Sensation". Anything with the word sensation in it must be good!

Dinner Sausage Sensation
as submitted by Courtney Blackwell

Turkey sausage or kielbasa (I used Lite Polska Kielbasa)
Favorite vegetables (I used red potatoes, red peppers, and green onion)
Garlic, minced
Olive oil
Pasta (I used whole grain penne)
Parmesan cheese
Marjoram (Didn't have any)
Added green onion too
Directions per Courtney:
Slice and heat turkey sausage or kielbasa (you can do this in the microwave or the skillet). Saute your favorite vegetables (I use frozen, and just stick them in the skillet while I'm heating up the sausage) with minced garlic and olive oil and dashes of parmesan cheese, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper to taste.

Sounds easy enough, right?! Well it truly would have been a breeze had I used the frozen veggies, but me wanting to use what I had instead, added some extra work. Always taking the long cut that's me:-) (Its in my genes, muchisimas gracias Abuelito:-) ) But with extra work, came extra taste. I loved the combination of the vegetables I chose. Since I'm inexperienced I cooked the potatoes too long but it ended up acting as a type of sauce:-)
My long cut turned out to be a good idea
I loved that the sausage was already cooked and all I had to do was slice it and heat it up. I forgot how much I love kielbasa. That was the boys' favorite part too!
Owen is such a great eater, he loves most vegetables. We're still working on Eyan and Tate:-)
My actual favorite was eating the leftovers the next day and adding my favorite BBQ sauce to it, oh it is soooo good. The name says it all, "Bone Suckin' Sauce". We like the thicker style. It was so yummy mixed in with those veggies, definitely a Sausage Sensation!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

September 2009: Making of it an Opportunity

It has been awhile since I have posted. I have so much catching up to do, but I have been very sick, on which I will expound on at a later time.

Something I reread this morning has brought me to write. This is unique for me to want to record my thoughts in this way, please forgive me. This journey over the past many months has definitely had a variety of twists and turns, with some ups, believe it or not, and some downs. I am not sure how I feel today but I am definitely in thought. I have been reading this book entitled "All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience" by Neal A. Maxwell. For those not of my faith I would like briefly explain the significance of this author and this title to me. Elder Neal A. Maxwell was a man who I believe to have been called as an apostle of Jesus Christ until is death in 2004 from leukemia. He was a man who stirred my soul with the way he had mastered the English language to describe things with such vibrant clarity. This title he chose comes from a scripture in the Doctrine & Covenants Section 122, Verse 7. The Doctrine & Covenants is a volume of scripture which includes modern day revelations given by God to the church through the Prophet Joseph Smith and other latter-day Presidents of the church. This particular verse was given to the Prophet Joseph Smith when he was wrongfully imprisioned in Liberty Jail. He had suffered a great many things in his short life and would endure more after being released from prison. God revealed to Joseph that if all these terrible and trying things shall happen, "know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."

I found it very interesting that Elder Maxwell had written this book prior to having cancer. Perhaps God was preparing him for what would come. This book is full of amazing thoughts and scriptures on life and how to navigate through "all these things" that come to each of us. I have gained so much comfort and enlightenment from reading it. Today I reread a few paragraphs on page 38 that really stood out to me in regards to Mike. He says, "There are some things allotted to us in life that have been divinely fashioned according to our ability and our capacity. When we see individuals coping with what seems to be a tragedy and making of it an opportunity, then we begin to partake of the deep wisdom in the Savior's response concerning the blind man." This blind man is the one spoken of in John 9:2-3. "A disciple of the Savior said, 'Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?' 'Neither, ' said the Savior, reassuringly, 'but that the works of God should be manifest in him.' "

As I think of my courageous and faithful husband I think of these words. Mike has truly created an opportunity out of what seems to be a tragedy. I would love for the words of this scripture "that the works of God should be manifest in him" to demonstrate in Mike's life a parallel to the life of this blind man who was healed of his blindness. Although he has not been healed completely, we have already seen miracles of healing such as him being able to eat again. But for me what has outshone the rest has been the way the works of God have been manifested in him in a different way. His faithfulness, his testimony that God's hand is over all, his optimism, his discipline, his courage, his humor, his love, ...all of these things are manifestations of how the works of God can heal our hearts, can lift our eyes, can grant us true direction and purpose. I am grateful that I have seen these works of God in Mike which gives me strength as we continue on our journey.

Monday, August 31, 2009

August 2009: The Smell of Success Smells Good, Really Good

Ok, so I started writing this post, well it seems like a lifetime ago, so bear with me on recalling the details:-)

I have really enjoyed the smells that have been coming out of our kitchen lately, the smell of success. Of course success doesn't constitute perfection, but that's okay. So to continue my "Millions of Peaches, Peaches for Me" post, lets move on to...

Success #2
Fruit Slices for Freezing

We have been enjoying making smoothies for breakfast so I thought freezing some peaches and plum slices would be a fun idea. Having found that great article on that I shared in my first posting about my Millions of Peaches, removing the skins for freezing was quick and easy. I had heard that this was the hardest part about doing anything with peaches, so I was grateful for the shortcut.
This article on "How to Freeze Fruit" also tells you what type of storage is best for each type of fruit. For both peaches and plums I choose "sugar pack". Here is the instructions I followed per TipNut:

Sugar Pack: Dry sugar is added. Sprinkle sugar over the fruit, mix gently then allow fruit to stand for approximately 15 minutes (this draws out the juice and dissolves the sugar). It’s also fine to freeze immediately after sugar is added to fruit. Generally, 1/2 to 2/3 cups of sugar per quart of fruit is sufficient. Fruit pieces can also be frozen on trays first before packaging (sprinkle with sugar before freezing). (Thought the fruit trays were a great idea.)

I think it worked pretty well, they sure look pretty. I didn't use as much sugar as they suggested, but I did sprinkle some lemon juice onto the peaches as they suggested to prevent discoloration. I found these freezer containers at Wal-Mart on my initial canning supply search. Can't wait for the smoothies.

Successes #3 and #4
Mango-Peach Smoothie
found on

1 peach sliced
1 mango peeled and sliced
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk (we used almond milk or fat-free milk)
1/2 cup orange juice
4 ice cubes

Yummy! The boys had this breakfast two days in a row.
The next day we ran out of mango and orange juice, but we had blueberries so I created:

Blueberry Peach Smoothie

1 peach sliced
About 1/2 cup blueberries (would have added more but that was all we had)
1 small container blueberry yogurt
1/2 cup fat-free milk
4 ice cubes

This was my favorite. I like my smoothies a little thicker and this was yummy!
Would love some of your favorite smoothie recipes!

Success #5
Plum and Peach Jam

Thanks to my friend Daneen who knows everything there is to know about canning, jam, food storage, etc. and thanks to the directions on the Sure-Jell package I learned how to make jam. Daneen let me come over to her house to make peach jam with her. It is definitely a production. I brought my camera but there was no way I could have taken photos with pureed peach on my hands or watching the jam that had to boil for exactly 1 min or ruin! You can look at some of the recipes on the Sure-Jell link to get an idea of the extensive process. I'm sure for some of you, its a breeze. I was amazed as to how much sugar goes into making jam. Wow! If I would have known, I would have bought all "Low Sugar" packages. They look so beautiful in their jars. They are tasting yummy on the sandwiches too. I think I might need a little push next year to do it again, we'll see.

Peach Jam or Sploosh to the Wendy Fergie Fam

Plum Jam I made all on my own:-)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

August 2009: Millions of Peaches... Peaches for Me

The year was 1996 and I was a Senior in high school. I remember listening to this song at my friend Jarom's house in Temecula, jumping on the trampoline. It all seems so carefree now. "Millions of peaches, peaches for me. Millons of peaches, peaches for free." Such deep lyrics and very catchy. I have been living this song this week. Having these plums and peaches in the house has thrust me into a world I have never known. This week alone I've been baking, slicing, freezing, jamming, puree-ing, yes all technical terms. I don't know how people do this all the time.

So what to do with my peaches...

Thank you all for your encouragement. I initially had all sorts of things I wanted to try. The first was to can some peaches. Some of my friends gave me a basic list of things to buy and told me to try Wal-Mart. I went there thinking, "this should be easy, it will just take me a second and I'll be on my way". Naive. That's pretty much sums me up, and I'm ok with that. I stood there in front of the "canning" section at Wal-Mart just staring. I tried to call a friend desperately on the phone with no luck. The 2 types of jars I was supposed to get were out of stock and I didn't know which other types were just as good. There was all brands and kinds of the "pectin" (thats what its called, right?) and I didn't know how many boxes to buy. Well I bought a random sampling and left feeling dumb already. Lets just say that canning didn't happen and I have a counter full of things to return and I just LOVE returning things at Wal-Mart.

Lets go with my successes instead:-)

Success #1
I wanted to make peach cobbler and I found a recipe by Paula Dean (I said her name in my mind with a southern accent because you can't read or say her name any other way). I knew it had to be good and it was!!!

Disclaimer: Taking photos at night, is not my strength. Sorry these don't look as good as the Plumble but I promise its yummy!

Peach Cobbler
I promise its yummier than it looks
4 cups peeled, sliced peaches
[I learned a great way to take the skin off the peaches lickity-split from this article "How to Freeze Fruit" on "Bring water to a boil then submerge the fruit in the water for about 45 seconds. Remove fruit and plunge into a sink full of ice cold water. Skins will come right off! Its true.]

A beautiful boiled peach

Happy peaches with the skins removed

2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup water
8 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/2 cups milk
Ground cinnamon, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the peaches, 1 cup sugar, and water in a saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Put the butter in a 3-quart baking dish and place in oven to melt.

Mix remaining 1 cup sugar, flour, and milk slowly to prevent clumping. Pour mixture over melted butter. Do not stir. Spoon fruit on top, gently pouring in syrup. Sprinkle top with ground cinnamon, if using.
Pre-baked, Doesn't this look appetizing
Batter will rise to top during baking. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.
To serve, scoop onto a plate and serve with your choice of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Okay so I guess I was getting a little cocky because I thought, hey I doubled the last recipe and it turned out, so I'll just double this one too. Probably not the best idea. It said to use a 3 qt dish and Mike's Le Creuset dutch oven is 5 1/2 qts so I figured I'd be fine. I ended up having to keep the oven light on and watch the thing bake because the "Batter will rise to the top during baking" part of the directions was definitely true. It kept rising and rising and rising. I was sweating and it wasn't just because I was leaning next to a hot oven. Thankfully it just missed the overflowing point. It did however not quite bake completely. My family didn't seem to mind too much with ice cream oozing all over the hot cobbler, but I ended up having to put it back in the oven. Oh well, I'm still counting it as a success:-)

Once again, it tasted better than it looks, Maybe no pictures would have been better:-)
Well I'm not even close to being done with posting about all the things I did with peaches this week, but my time limit is up that I gave myself. So you'll just have to be in suspense...


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