Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Happy 5th Birthday!

We love Evan so much.  We hardly ever call him Eegee anymore.  He still has his special way of talking.

"I'ma going outside."  (He adds an "a" or the "uh" sound after words.)

He has a tiny smile that looks like he's in on some secret that you don't know.  But when you can make him laugh out loud his smile is brilliant!

He calls his oatmeal Opy-meal.   He and Sam look increasingly like twins.

And if you ask him a question like, "Did you like your birthday cake?"
He'll say, "Uh-huh!"  With a major accent on the last part like a really high note.  He has a tiny tiny voice!

He is still shy in a lot of ways, but very loving.  We all did some skits at scouts (Ya pucha, Worms, Pick-pocket, Seven), and he doesn't feel comfortable to do that yet, but he wants to and I'm sure he will someday.

He likes to be tucked in every night and if no one does it he'll come out and say, "Can somebody tuck me?"

He is learning to read just because he wants to and doing wonderful!  He starts Kindergarten this year!

Because we have Netflicks he has found Dora and watched a few of those shows and really likes it so he asked for a Dora cake.   We were lucky to have Stephanie visiting and since it was in the middle of their birthdays we decided to go ahead and celebrate them both!  (Stephanie secretly wanted a Dora cake.  Oh and she is also five.)
The lego thing was what I asked Pat to make to be like the castle that they get to after they cross the bridge and go over the mountain, but it just doesn't seem to fit I think.

Girl Camp Desserts

What I had the MOST trouble with is a dessert for the first night for 160 people.   I didn't want to do something simple like brownies because I had done that before.  I really wanted to make giant chocolate chip cookies like Levain's in New York City, but you cannot transport those easily for that many people without padding them, and individually wrapping them so they don't crumble.  I went through cupcakes, bars, puddings, cobblers and crisps, an assortment of cakes, and so many other things!  I finally emailed my Aunt Nancy since everyone loves her ice-cream dessert and I was resolved to make it.  So I decided to test a 9x13 pan of ice-cream pie dessert calculating in my head how much ice-cream I'd need and how to get them up there without it all melting, etc, etc.

Then I tried to cut it, and I nearly died just trying to get one piece out.  I don't have very strong hands and I knew I was not going to be possible to cut and serve this to 160 people.   Back to the drawing board.

Then one day I was at Costco looking at their already made desserts and wondering about what to do when I saw these mini croissants.   I asked the bakery guy what to do with these to make them a dessert.   He said to mix whip cream (you could probably buy it, but I whipped it with a bit of vanilla and sugar), with Jello Pudding Cream Cheese flavor (make it up).  You just fold the pudding and whip cream together.   Then you split the croissant almost all the way in half, brush with honey, and put a big spoonful of the whip cream mixture into it.    Now place filled croissants on a cookie sheet and cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 
Costco mini croissants
On the side prepare some berries: chopped strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, and toss gently with a bit of honey also if you desire.  (The honey has to be warmed slightly so it runs over it all.  Then refrigerate the berries until ready.)

To serve have small disposable plates ready.  Place one filled croissant on the plate and a scoop of berries next to it.  Voila!

I even had some homemade hot fudge that I drizzled a bit over them.  I had made it when I was thinking of doing the ice-cream desserts, so it worked out great!   It's such a simple idea for a dessert I don't know why I never thought of it, but I bless that nice man at the Costco bakery.  He told me everyone would love it and he was right!  I'm not even a croissant fan, but these were sooo good!  By the way, if you're not a cheesecake fan have no fear.  The cheesecake flavor barely comes through (since it's a mix and there's no actual cheese in it), but it gives it a depth, whereas if you had just used vanilla pudding it would have tasted too blah sweet.

And here's what happens when the girls find the leftover whip cream filling.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Girls Camp!

Girls Camp was great, and I worked myself hard.  I could not have done it without my two assistants Cumorah and Susan.  Cumorah had mad skills on the griddle, and Susan never left my side and never stopped doing dishes.   They both supported me in everything since they were called to assist me after I had planned the menu and all.  The only thing I needed was more help the morning of.   My assistants had to ride up with other people since I didn't have any space.  You should have seen how crazy it was at Costco first thing in the morning (they let me come in a couple hours early).  I had already bought everything that was non-perishable and had it in the truck, and now I had to get all the fruit, meat, milk, butter, cheese, OJ, sour cream, bread type stuff.  I was literally running through the store.  20 gallons of milk!!!   I filled up one cart and two flats.   Luckily someone loaned me their truck, but a large empty van would have been better, because some hot dog buns blew away on the trip and it was really hard to fit all the food even in that truck!  That was the only part I hated was being alone for all of that (Pat came to help, but some more men would have been great since we had to watch the kids too and there was a lot of lifting), and then driving to the camp by myself sucked since I always get lost and I did!   This camp was definitely out in the middle of nowhere!  I got lost on the way home too and added an hour to my trip!  The only other thing was that the estimated numbers they gave me were at times twice as high as the amount of people that actually showed up most of the time.  Some girls wanted to sleep rather than eat so they didn't come to breakfast, or, the scout ranch staff that we were supposed to feed didn't show or whatever.   I really could have cut down on the budget if we had known these things would happen, but nobody could know that.   Everyone loved the food though, and wanted the recipes and were really, really thankful, and I got the award for Best Camp Food Ever!   Then I came home and slept, and slept, and now I'm behind, behind!   Why do I do this to myself?  I think camp is fun and it is always a spiritual experience.  President Shepherd gave a wonderful talk that I just can't say enough about, and the night we broke up into wards for testimonies was a wonderful experience too.  Camp is just special, and I get to know people I never would have in the Stake and to be able to associate with them is a blessing to my life.  I always come away a better person.   And I was so happy on Thursday when my family got to come up to camp!  They needed priesthood to accompany the girls on a hike and since they were desperate, Pat volunteered.  He and the boys went and LN and I went to my tent and took a nap!  The boys liked seeing where I was sleeping and they got to eat with us twice before heading back home.

I was so busy at camp that I didn't snap a single picture!  So I got these from others.  The below picture is of almost all the girls. I'm in there somewhere.

This is the group of leaders at camp (I'm in the back).  All of them awesome.  Good times.

Each group of girls was given a bag of random items that they had to incorporate into their skit.  This was the best skit!  I laughed so hard I cried! 

Gorham Scout Ranch in Chimayo NM
I found this picture online because this is where I hung out most of the time!  In the dining hall.   Of course the scouts weren't there.  Just wanted to give you an idea of it.  It was a very large kitchen and dining hall- this picture doesn't even show a quarter of it!  Here's my menu if you're interested.


My sister came to visit!  My sister came to visit!  We had Vietnamese food, went swimming, sang every camp song we knew, had a little birthday party and she helped with my lesson for church on Sunday and it was just a relaxed, fun, comfortable visit!  I was totally exhausted after just getting back from Girls Camp so I barely cooked at all, or we made simple food and we all loved it!  And let me just say it was waaaaaaaay more fun than last time when I had a new baby and because of all the storms we were confined to the house with snow and mud up to our elbows and everything pretty much sucked.   I had been wanting to go see some ruins 1 hour from our home that I just learned about.  There were three sites with ruins (ABO, QUARAI, and GRAN QUIVIRA) and they were all near the town of Mountainair, a little town where we had a surprisingly good lunch!  I was glad we finally got to go here, and that we got to take Steph too!   I'll post more on our trip later when she sends me the pictures.  (p.s. Why can't I dress as cute as her?  And Uncle T.... we miss you.... !!! )

S and E hiding in one of the many rooms.  This place was perfect for hide n' seek.

LN is a real busy girl now

Can you tell this was a lot of homes clumped together?

A view from the top of those homes so you can see into the rooms

S and D down in a deep room

There were several of these circular pits with a chimney that lets out where S and D are standing.  They had some guesses as to what they were for, but they don't know for sure. 

I love this picture

Love this girl

Evan and his cute smiles

Can you find the snake?
My sister is deathly afraid of snakes like I am of spiders.  So she was off somewhere looking at the ruins when the rest of us walked into this big area and came upon the snake.  (hint: It's climbing up a wall)
I started calling to Steph to alert her and make sure that she wouldn't come in here.  When I did find her, she freaked because she had ALREADY been in here before all of us and did not like knowing that she had been close to a snake.  She was curious and we walked back toward this big room since she couldn't believe it.  Suddenly I looked down and it was right in front of me hiding on the steps behind where you see Sam in this picture.  Bam!  She was gone! 

They were doing some work in here- that's why you see a cable.

What it would have looked like

The boys got their badges at each place.  The worked hard for them!

Thanks Steph for taking a picture of the whole family!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day

Sam and Evan had to sing in the evening since they wouldn't go up during church.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hand-made Boots

I found out recently that Brother J at church makes hand-made boots.  It reminded me of the time in Chile when I needed a pair of good boots both for walking all day and to keep out the rain, and a shoemaker made them for me.  It was a neat experience, so I asked Brother J if the kids and I could come over and learn about what he does.  He graciously allowed us to come into his work room and showed us how he makes boots.  I know for a fact his boots sell for more than $400 dollars.  They are very finely made and all hand sewn, not a single nail.  He even let the boys sew on the leather, glue some leather together and watch him work.  What an art!  Plus I thought all leather was made from cow hides, but he had ostrich, elephant and kangaroo leather that we got to see and feel.  The ostrich leather had holes all over it from where the feathers were and was dotted where the knees were, the kangaroo is supposed to be some of the strongest leather you can find, and the elephant leather looked wrinkled everywhere just like an elephant.  Fascinating!  Thank you Brother J for your time today!

Anything you can do, I can do better

No, Mom, you can't feed me.  I can do it myself.  If you attempt to help me, even by turning my spoon right side up I will scream like my leg's being cut off.  And when I'm done, I fully intend to lick the bowl clean by placing it upside down on my head.   I'm thankful for this bib, but I'm making sure that you will be bathing me (I like baths) and dressing me all over again.  Today I think I'll try pooping in the bathtub to see what that's like.  Eewww!!  I hate that!!!!  This is gross!  Maybe this wasn't such a good idea!  It's on my toys!  Screaming- Get me out of here!  Don't forget to wash and bleach that tub!  And all my toys!  And the toilet and floor since carrying handfuls of wet poop from the tub to the toilet doesn't quite work.  Now hurry and get me dressed.  We are late mom... I'm waiting.  Thank you.  Now I will go through your bag and take out anything I want to play with while you handle the 'code brown' in the bathtub.  Then you really should clean up breakfast, or that 'tiny' bit of cream of wheat that I spilled on the table, chair and floor will turn into cement.  Gosh mom!  It's only 8am and you look pretty awful!  Yes I did dump the prunes all over the carpet...  It was fun!  Yes I know you and Dad just cleaned the carpets yourselves.  They just needed a little something.  You should try it Mom.  Mom?

And this just in...
Moments earlier a certain baby was seen throwing herself all over in a convulsive manner, clawing at her parents and screaming.   I won't mention who that baby was, but let me just say, you better not leave that certain baby off the tire swing.  All better!

A couple days ago I got to take dinner to a friend in the homeschool group.  She is close to my age and just had her ninth baby.   I don't know how she and her husband do it, but there is a wonderful spirit in her home and she does a fantastic job with her children.  By the way she had twins twice in a row!  My head is spinning.  Just like my friend growing up who was one of 11 children in her family, and she and her siblings were all wonderful!  Some parents just do a wonderful job.  I know they rely on God and that's what makes them so wonderful; they don't try to do it alone.    Today I salute my friend.  She is an inspiration!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Arizona Fire

The smoke so thick the sun looks red
Just after dinner tonight, the sky filled with smoke and we are nearly choking it's so thick!  It's the smoke from the Arizona fire blowing here, but it seems so thick that at any minute we should evacuate ourselves.   And we are more east than Albuquerque!

Now the sky is a dark brown color because of all the smoke.   If you go outside it smells like you are standing in a campfire.

Girls camp was great last week.  I'll update once I get pictures from friends since I was so busy I didn't get any.  The smoke interrupted girls camp too.   We just can't believe this fire is as far away as Arizona!