Sunday, August 31, 2008

What not to eat!

Having received some very large zucchinis from a friends garden, I have been trying to figure out how best to cook them. I made 6 loaves of zucchini bread (yum) and all the leftover shredded zucchini I stirfryed in salt, pepper, garlic, butter and then added cream and Parmesan cheese and cooked spaghetti noodles and stirred it all together and it was dee-licious!
But alas, I still had half of a 18" long zucchini (split longways) and I know there are 101 things to do with zucchini, but I choose to take the easy way out and make a boat. You know where you basically make meatloaf and put it in the zucchini boat and bake them together.

Don't ever do this! I've tried a couple times and either the zucchini doesn't cook, or the meat, or in today's case BOTH, and we've now been home from church for 2 hours and are still without food! It's not really that good either. So, tired of waiting I tossed out the zucchini after scooping out the semi-cooked meatloaf, and started stirfrying it, wondering what I was doing... and Pat came in and said, "So we're having MEAT for dinner?" which made me laugh.

He's in the kitchen making fry bread now and I put taco seasoning in the meat and we are now awaiting dinner number two.
This was shared as a public service announcement. If you want to tell me that zucchini boats work for you and how to do it, spare me. I don't care!

The rain continues and demolition

It has rained tons today and still continues to rain every couple days or so. I feel great reasons to rejoice in this. I just love the rain! It makes me have that cozy Christmastime, book in front of the fireplace feeling that I love. Speaking of fireplaces... well I'll get to that.

My other reasons for loving the rain are that it is turning our part of New Mexico into a garden of Eden. It is so green and there are sunflowers up and down all the streets (they grow in the ditches since it's all mostly dirt roads). There are just sunflowers everywhere! It is so beautiful. So different from last year. Last year it hardly rained at all, and I was having a hard time adjusting to the brown/cactus look. But I actually am feeling like this is home, however much I'm terrified of the bugs.

Lastly I'm praising the rain because we've only had to water our trees a few times. For those of you who don' t know, when we moved in we planted almost 200 trees because I'm crazy. See they were the tiny dollar ones that the forestry gives out, and I figured 200 trees for 200 dollars was way better than only 4 bigger trees for 200 dollars. So our first year here we worked like dogs (it was awful) planting, fencing, mulching, and making irrigation lines to go to all but about 30 of the trees that we hand watered all summer long. I kept hearing about monsoon season and waited for relief, but it never came. So we spent hours each week watering, hauling long hoses all over our 2 1/2 acres. That first year, despite all our efforts, we lost about 50 trees. But some of the trees we planted are now almost as tall as me, so you win some, you lose some. The ones we lost were to groundhogs underground and bunnies on top, not watering enough, poor soil, etc, and accidents like Pat and his weed whacker, and people who couldn't see the tiny trees and ran them over backing up. It's okay though- I'll be happy if at least 50 make it to maturity, but we're trying for as many as possible, and with the rain this year, they are so happy! Thank you thank you for the rain!!! We have been so blessed!

About that fireplace... this is what we've been working on and man is it costly and difficult. Our fireplace was just cheap and didn't heat for anything, so in the wintertime we spend $100 per WEEK on propane and are always cold. So we are ripping it out and going to be putting in a wood burning stove that will hopefully heat our house so we don't have to use the heater/propane at all.

The only problem is, that no one who sells stoves will come help you figure out clearances to combustible/non-combustible materials, unless you buy their stove first or pay a private contractor who may not be familiar with the stove any more than we are. So even though we don't really know what we're doing, we are trying to do it as much on our own as possible. Even though we can find the information online in the brochure for our stove, it is a bit scary to tile and finish everything off (like we're supposed to) before the stove gets here. What if something we do was wrong? What about the pipe- can they use the same spot? Can we put some kind of river rock in cement looking thing over the drywall to make it look like a masonry chimney thing and therefore more non-combustible? Well anyway, we're having fun working together on this and the kids think it's really neat to see Dad with a sledge hammer smashing things up. I think we're going to have to keep ripping it out all the way up to the ceiling. I'll post a true before and after picture once it's all finished. We hope to finish by October, since there is a run on stoves and we have to wait at least that long until we get one!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kyle's wedding trip to California

I went to California for the weekend in the Bay area for a family get together/wedding of my cousin Kyle. I had a lot of fun hanging out with my cousins who I must say are really cool. Same goes for my Aunts and Uncles. It's great to belong somewhere, and even though we hardly see each other, we have the same sense of humor and have so much in common due to being related. Kyle's wedding went great except for the ice-cream man, and I was glad to be able to be there since it was the last of my Uncle John's kids to get married, and I had missed Kim's and Marcy's weddings. So I've now attended at least one wedding from all my Aunt's/Uncle's families except Aunt Karen's. So her kids are slackers. Actually I hear there's been a great deal of weddings going on in her family that I've not been invited to. Maybe I'll just blacklist them. But Uncle Al did buy me a bear claw. Hmmm.... I'll have to think more about that one.
Here are some pictures from the trip. I'm not putting any from the wedding up in case they don't approve. Our hotel was in Gilroy (yum...garlic) and we drove to Watsonville, Rio del Mar beach and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
When I got home, Evan hugged me so tight for about a half and hour. He just wouldn't let go. He just kept smiling and squeezing. It's so nice to be missed! I sure missed my boys! Pat did a great job with them while I was gone as I knew he would.

Steph got my hair cut and highlighted and Mom, Steph and I went shopping!

Getting avocados out of the tree. Unsuccessfully.

Mom and Steph so pretty!

Karisa and Stephanie.

The Tuineis.

Here they are again in Santa Cruz.

Here's me and Steph on my favorite fair ride.

Me (in white hat) and Steph. She doesn't think it's such a great idea to go in the ocean. I'll show her! I am like a fish!

Karisa: How 'bout it T? Do you want to go swim with me?
T: I am one with the water. Let's swim to Samoa.

Whew! I got over that wave!

As calm as a swimming pool. Come on Steph! It's a cake walk!

T: Save me!
Karisa: Wow that wave came out of nowhere. Too bad for T.

Karisa: I am in perfect control. I hear salt water is healthy for the stomach and brain and everywhere in between.

Karisa and T: We got the hang of it now. The ocean is salty and waves come up suddenly. We won't be taken unawares again!
Karisa: Hey T! I think I see something swimming over there!


Okay, actually the ocean was a lot of fun, and I'm so glad we got in. But I did see something swimming spitting up water, and there were two huge waves that got me good. The first one scared me to death and I knew my only hope was to run toward it and ride over it before it broke, but I didn't make it, and the huge wall of water broke right on me, and then as I tried to fight my way to the surface and put my clothes back on another one got me and pounded me back under. So with sufficient salt water in my body, I ran for my life to where Mom, Steph and Aunt Nancy were standing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sam's Birthday Party

What a 'should have been wonderful', horrible day this was, sort of. See, we had already rescheduled Sam's party several times to make sure all his friends could come. Now if any of you know Sam, he is the sweetest, and simultaneously grumpy/troublemaker kid I know. Sometimes I tell him how happy he should be to be alive and have two good parents who love him and food and toys and clothes and a warm place to sleep- but he's not buying it. It's like trying to reason with a chicken. It just keeps pecking and ignores you. Except Sam will shout "No!" His favorite words are Anybody, Anywhere, and Anything.

Me: "Sam, who do you want to play with?"
Sam in angry voice: "Anybody!" (Which means Nobody)
Me: "Sam, where do you want to go?"
Sam in angry voice: "Anywhere!" (Which means Nowhere.)
Me: "Sam, what do you want to do?"
Sam in angry voice: "Anything!" (Which means Nothing.)

Sometimes, it's just like he can't help but be mean and talk mean. I led the music in primary on Sunday, and watched him poke his friend repeatedly and wondered why he does stuff like this. His primary teacher at church says whenever there is a "disturbance" Sam is usually in the middle of it. So I really want him to have a friend, and learn to play nice and get along. I hope he is just in a phase (early teenager syndrome?) and will grow out of it. we rescheduled his party so Ashton, Tyler, Seth, Levi, and Rachel could all come and hopefully play nicely together. It turned out to be a good thing, because the night before we were going to have the party, Sam fell and hit his head, resulting in a baseball size bump on his forehead and me crying in a room by myself after I was sure he was okay, because I was so scared about it. This kid is going to break my heart. Luckily Pat was there too.

So Pat and I worked until midnight to get ready for today, cleaning house, baking, decorating, organizing games, and making a hundred or so water balloons. Then at 1:30am Evan woke up crying with a raging fever, and so we didn't sleep well, and I had work still to do in the morning before everyone got here and Evan wouldn't stop crying, because he was burning up and felt awful. Try frosting cupcakes with a baby in arms. He has been so hot, shaking, and hallucinating. He kept shouting that there was a big beetle on the wall and I freaked out and asked where, and he kept pointing, and I couldn't see it, and finally picked him up and he pointed 5 inches away from the wall and said, "Beetle right there!" and there was nothing there. We've never had a beetle in our house either, so I'm sure he was hallucinating. I told Dallas and Sam I needed extra help to get things cleaned up and ready, and Dallas did great like he always does and Sam picked up a shirt off the floor and said it made his back hurt. I was really angry at him and told him this was his party and he needed to help and it was like trying to reason with a chicken again. So to sum it all up we had a really grumpy morning. I wondered what to do. Call it off, with 1 hour notice? Disappoint lots of kids and all the work for nothing? Or have everyone come and expose them to whatever Evan has?

I spent so much time thinking and feeling frustrated that I realized most people were in route and it was too late to call it off, which was probably best because I would never reschedule it. Me and the boys said a prayer because we needed God's help with Evan. That may sound silly, but he really did help us. Evan who wouldn't let me put him down and wouldn't stop crying all morning, laid in my room and watched Winnie the Pooh and behaved fine until 10 minutes after everyone left when he got to crying again. So the kids all showed up and we played games and had lunch and cake and ice-cream and a lot of fun. I just wish we had been more relaxed and not had such a difficult grumpy morning. And I forgot to take pictures during the party!!! How could I!!! Pat is so disappointed. But I was a one woman show with no help and I just forgot!!! I'm sorry!!! Here are some we took after the party. I hope Evan gets well soon.

The transformer party is over...Tyler is just waiting for his mom still. Funny kid.

Pin the cube on Bumblebee. The poster says, "Bumblebee- we're trusting you to keep the All Spark safe from Megatron!" Check out my drawing skills.

This is Megatron leader of the Decepticons. For the party he was wired to the fence and he had a big black gun (vacuum hose) attached to his arm aimed at us. He heard the All Spark cube was at our house and came to get it, but all the Autobots killed him with water balloon bombs. The one girl at the party ran around saying, "I don't know what to do!" and half the water balloons bounced off Megatron and landed on the Autobots. It was pretty funny. Then Dallas tore him apart piece by piece. So we laid him out on the ground about how he used to look for this picture. He was 8 feet tall and looked really cool standing up (his wheels used to be on the sides) and Pat cut our car bumper in half for part of his legs which made it look more transformerish. I was proud of Pat's work!

As I was writing this entry, Dallas came to his Dad and said his tooth hurt while eating his apple and we have discovered that DALLAS HAS HIS FIRST LOOSE TOOTH!! This is a whole new world to me and MY BABY IS GROWING UP!!!! I followed him around crying, "My baby! My baby!"
Dallas just said, "Why are you saying that Mama?" I told him because he's growing up and he's going to get ugly. I said, "See, right now you're so cute, but once you start losing teeth you're going to start getting ugly."
Dallas said, "Yea, like Daddy!"
I am laughing so hard right now. Wait until I tell Pat what his son said!
Anyway Dallas is really happy to have a loose tooth, and Sam says (in his angry voice) that he wants a loose tooth "Right Now!"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Sam!

I meant to get this up on Tuesday, but happy birthday to Sam! He's actually having a party with some friends over next Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I felt really bad to have missed the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics. I finally found a way to view it online, and even though my screen was tiny and kept losing the connection, I was awestruck watching the amazing show. I couldn't keep from crying. The show was magnificent, but it went deeper than that. I can't explain it all in words, but it has something to do with their struggles throughout China's history, and that they are my brothers and sisters and I would love to learn from them, and I loved seeing each country come on the stage and am so proud of our world family, and wish we could truly be a family.
Jesus would say:
As I have loved you,
Love one another
This new commandment
Love one another
By this shall men know
Ye are my disciples
If ye have love
One to another

I was so happy to see Fiji and American Samoa and Chile. I was surprised to see so many tiny countries I'd never heard of and some big ones like Iran and Iraq. I was so proud to see the United States come out all in matching uniforms with white hats. And its just been fun to watch the swimming and gymnastics so far. One of our swimmers had such a big lead that as he finished his last lap, the announcer said, "I think my mom could jump in and win this race!"
Happy 2008 Olympics!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Wheat, wheat and more wheat

Karisa has been reading an interesting book "The Word of Wisdom A Modern Interpretation" by John A. Widtsoe and Leah D. Widtsoe. I laugh at the word Modern since it was published in 1950. She is always trying to find ways to be healthier, and for the most part I agree with her - as it applies to the children. I still eat my sugar cereals (before the kids get up or after they are in bed) and have my drawer at work that is full of junk food.

I skimmed the book the other day and one of the things that caught my eye was a chapter about the benefits of freshly ground flour over store bought flour. They also recommended for a breakfast cereal cooking whole wheat in a tiny bit of water over low heat until it was ready to eat (adding small amounts of water as needed to keep everything wet). I went ahead and tried that cereal this morning to Karisa's shock. I added a bit of honey, sliced a banana into it and ate it with milk, it was better than expected.

I also had the boys grind their own flour for the pancakes that I made them (we only have a hand grinder, nothing motorized). They had a blast. They insisted on grinding all the wheat we had put into the grinder and didn't just stop once we had gotten enough for our pancakes. Once I explained to Dallas the benefits of our grinding the flour over buying it he recommended that we never buy flour again, only wheat.

Evan spent the whole wheat grinding process mad because his brothers thought he was too slow and kept trying to help him.

There is something satisfying about having pancakes where you made the flour, and your chickens laid the if we could only get fresh milk.

Evan rinsing his dish after breakfast.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What's in your dishwasher?

Our dishwasher hasn't been working well (leaving soap/hardwater/food on the dishes). So I've been handwashing everything recently.
Pat checked it out and there was broken glass lodged in some parts. I recently found a marble which I'm sure I didn't load, and a battery that looked like it had been through at least 20 washes. I haven't looked it up to be sure, but I'd say that can't be good for your health. Battery fluid in the rinse cycle? I'm pretty sure I didn't load that one either.
I think Evan is the one making sure our batteries are clean. He's had a fascination with the dishwasher- wanting to unload it (hence broken dishes) and every time he walks by he starts it with the push of a button! Fun!

Quotes of the Day

We have one baby doll which is the only girly thing we own probably. Today Dallas was dropping it upside down on its head to make Evan laugh. I said, "Dallas please don't do that, it's not nice." He smiled as he looked at me and finally said, "Mom, it's just a pretend doll, not a real baby."
I had to smile and said, "I know, but it makes me sad."
He just grinned at me and found something else to play with. It was cute.

Sam came running to me and said (he has a tiny, high voice), "Mom, Evan's trying to cut me in half."
Not really worried, I said, "Oh, with what?"
Sam said, "Scissors."

I've been cleaning out all of our learning shelves and trying to research homeschool curriculums so I can be organized. I have an idea of how I'd like it to go, but it ain't easy with all that's out there. (Don't worry I won't teach my kids to say ain't!)

We are also trying to get the chores around here more organized since there's no hope for a maid. Yesterday and today I actually rinsed dishes after each meal, rather than piling it all in the sink to wait for night time. Then Pat did them at night. The kids are learning to take their dishes to the sink after each meal and to make their beds and straighten their room first thing. I'm sorry if some of this sounds second nature to you, I'm a slow learner. If you knew how much better we are now than when we first got married! It takes time to learn new ways and remember them daily. So we are trying!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Photo Dump

We lost the charger to our camera for a while so we couldn't take or post new pictures for the last week or so. Here are some pictures we would have posted along with a few we took today.

The after effects of some of the thunder storms that blow through here.

Dallas likes to do crazy/silly things on our swing set.

One way of trying to hide from the camera.

Not shy now!

Tub fights

This morning we put all the kids in the bath to have them shiny and smelling like something other than chickens. When the usual fight occurred, ("he's in my spot!" "he's not sharing!") Pat and I arrived simultaneously to sort out the issue.
Pat:"If you guys are going to fight you'll have to get out of the bath. Who wants out?"
Evan:"Sam does!"
Pat and I busted up because he said it so sweetly. He just wanted Sam out.

Evan and Sam fight a lot and Evan has acquired a low yell voice. It's almost like grunting. "Stop it Sam!" in a low grunt. He does it to sound mean and serious (and has a mean nasty face to go with it), perhaps to be taken more seriously. Evan continues to potty train and use more and more words. All day long we hear him, as he comes running to us, say, "Dallas/Sam did that to me!" looking for sympathy for whatever wrong has been inflicted on him. It's kinda cute, but I'll be glad when this stage is over. What a prima donne.

It rained heavily almost everyday for four weeks, but nothing this last week, so I think monsoon season is over. Although it looks like it might rain today. I've never seen it look so pretty and green here. It is gorgeous when all covered with snow, but it is actually green right now! Not quite California green, but close. Our trees are loving it. And August is the month of sunflowers. They are everywhere all over the town lining the roads.

I am making a dry creek bed in the back yard to channel water away from our foundation in the back corner. It should turn out really pretty. It will just take months of work and lots of rocks. But slowly over the years a nice yard appears- hopefully!

They sang Happy Birthday to Sam today in primary and he got a notebook with a picture of Jesus on it, and he looked so tall and handsome in his new (hand-me-down) blue pants. He walked into church today and shook hands with some of his old teachers and he just seemed so grown up (in a cute little boy way). Then he fought with his brother in the meeting and the cuteness wore off a bit.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Cute Sam

Last night Sam came into our room and said, "Dad, somebody is laughing in my room but there is nobody in there."
Dallas had come into our room, and Evan was laying in his spot on the top bunk, covered in blankets so Sam couldn't see him.
Pat told him Evan was in there reading a book (and laughing) and Sam said, "Oh!" in the cutest way. What a relief!
Then I said I needed a kiss, and he puckered up his cute little lips and waited. He is a real cutie. He is turning 4 this month. I can't believe it.

Yesterday we went to the county fair to see what some of our friends had entered. My friend Julie picked us up, because she was going with her kids already and there's no point spending all that gas twice to get to Santa Fe. Three different families we know had entered some chickens, a steer, artwork of all sorts, and I was interested in seeing the quilts- but just slightly. I think we may join 4-H and do things like getting animals ready to show. It was fun to watch, and all the animals we saw, were handled by kids until you got to the horses and bigger ones.Then we went swimming at a community pool, and came home.
I finally got to talk to my neighbor Toni for a long time after her vacation and hear how she's been.