Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Our Christmas Traditions

Me to Sam: Sometimes a mother's heart just bursts with joy when she sees her baby growing up to be such a wonderful young man. And do you know what that makes a mother want to do?
Sam: What.
Me: Squeeze her son and kiss him all over. So... can we schedule a time for me to squeeze you and kiss you all over?
Sam (thinking): Today is Sunday?
Me: Mmm hmm
Sam: How about 30,012? The year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thanksgiving week

Leia and her class reciting a poem for flag ceremony: (she's pretty invisible in the back, and that is not me singing).

The weather has finally turned cold and we've gotten a couple snowy days.  Our chickens decided to molt and loose all their feathers right when they need them.  I hope they grow back fast!  They've hardly been laying with the cold weather.  We've also had deer everywhere.  I see them along the road every night after dark. 

We were blessed to have many friends around us this Thanksgiving.  I'm trying to be anti-social, but it seems to be backfiring.  Pat and Sam got to play football with several people from the ward.  Our family got to eat and play games with the Haslers and the Tuckers, and the food was so delicious!  Plus they made this cranberry ice thing that is like a palette cleanser, that was so good and something I had never thought of before.  We brought pies, and mashed potatoes and spinach dip.  My only regrets about Thanksgiving is that I gained a thousand pounds.

Then the following day we got to have dinner with the Bucks.  They came over and we made chicken and gravy shepherds pie (to use up our leftover mashed potatoes) and tortellini soup, with leftover pies and rolls.  We also did lots of Michael Jackson dancing. Dallas was extra crazy.  He had been since piano on Tuesday.  His teacher Miss Diane yelled out the window, "I don't know what's wrong with him, but I'm not responsible!"  I think he's loving getting to play whatever songs he chooses now that he's finished all his piano books.  Sam and Evan are doing great too.  Evan's teacher said they'd have to stop his books until his hands grew bigger since it's not easy music!

We also had the missionaries over a couple days before Thanksgiving, and have visited with our neighbors a lot as there is a lot of discussion about improving our road.  Pat had some people over for games and I got to go to my friend Amy's house for a Favorite Things party.  You decide on something that you love and would love to share that is about $10 and, then you bring three of them to the party, and you end up going home with three gifts from other people's favorite things.  Well, my mind went right to the book, The Hiding Place, since I love to read it each Christmas season.  It was a fun party; fun to see what other people like.  I hope the people who got my book like it.

We had tithing settlement and I took in some plates of Indian food for the bishopric and clerks which they really appreciated.  I had meant to just make cookies, but near the center of town someone was giving out day-old Panera Bakery treats so I got bags of cookies, bagels, pastries, and loaves of bread for free and most of it was still perfect.  There was this white sugar cookie that was so soft and absolutely to die for, along with about 6 other varieties that were also good.  So, since I didn't have to make cookies, I made the Indian food, and they got a full meal instead of just a treat!  I love how that worked out.  The bishopric give so much of their time helping us all.

Sam was speaking on gratitude in Sacrament meeting at church this same day.  He did a great job, and didn't even seem nervous or freak out before hand, which surprised me.  My favorite part was after he had written his talk and showed it to us, I told him it needed a story.  I gave him lots of ideas from his own life, Christmas books, and experiences in the books of his ancestors that showed gratitude.  He chose to share some things from the early chapters of The Hiding Place (which I am reading out loud to them right now), which is one of my most favorite books.  I was really impressed that he didn't get annoyed at me as I gave him advice about how to remain calm, like I remember my mother giving me.  And he spoke so loud and clear (though a bit fast), that I think people actually understood him, which, if you know Sam, isn't his usual manner of speaking.  He knew what he needed to do without me telling him, and I was really happy for him.

Many new and wonderful people have been moving into our ward and a new couple spoke right after Sam.  I just feel so overwhelmed with gratitude at the blessings of the gospel in my life.  I can see the magnitude of how it affects everything...    it's hard to put into words...

I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to go to church each Sunday and worship the Lord with so many other people who also believe.  I love these people.  I am so inspired by them.  I love how much they help my family grow and the great examples they are to us.  I love their strengths that I can't even comprehend at times, and their weaknesses that make me feel that we're all okay.  I love their testimonies and their stories.  Their lives are ones of great faith and therefore great experiences.  Could I be happy without the gospel?  I don't know.  I know that I would probably be miserable trying to live the ways of the world, but others might be happy and just fine.  But living the gospel takes us from wherever we are and adds things that make us better, little by little.  That's why President Hinckley said bring all the good you have in your lives, and let us add to it!

As a side note, Sam's school class was having a Socratic discussion on whether or not it was racist to do missionary work.  I was like What????!?  I guess it could be seen as one group of people saying 'we're better than you, so learn our way, and follow us', but I told Sam, that shouldn't be true.  The gospel should only add to the good already in their culture.  It's like saying, "Wow!  You figured out Algebra?!  Awesome!  We've figured out Geometry and Calculus and we can teach you!  Then you'll be able to do so much more and understand so much more.  Wouldn't we want more knowledge?  We would feel it wasn't fair if someone made a new discovery and refused to share. 

I've also been thankful to be reading The Hiding Place at night to the older kids, and the important topics it introduces and the talks we have.  Then I get to enjoy hugging and singing to Charles and Leia and Charles saying, "I love you Mom", with so much feeling.  Is there any better time? These are the days I will look back on with so much joy for ever and ever. I've been practicing a song called Count on Me by Bruno Mars on my guitar, and Charles sings it with me.  He always acts like a baby (maybe because he is the baby), but he is so smart.  I recently took him to the zoo, and he hadn't remembered ever going before, so he kept asking me, "Mom, are the animals in a cage?"  He was really worried about that.  I assured him that they were.

He really enjoys making his own peanut butter sandwiches too, and reluctantly helps me clean during the day.  Yesterday he helped me sweep the bathroom floor as I cleaned the sinks, toilet, and shower.  We had to hastily leave the house though, since I somehow made a dangerous chemical mixture in the shower.  It was horribly strong and once I noticed it, we ran out of the bathroom, opened the windows (it was snowing) and then I covered my face and quickly rinsed it all down.  Then we left fast hoping it would dissipate while we were gone. 

Pat has now been at his place of employment for 10 years.  He's doing really well, and a couple weeks ago had what seemed to me as three straight days of partying.  Appreciation lunches, and a party for finishing up a project that took years.  It had something to do with satellites, but of course I'll never know!  He got to pick out a gift and gave the choice to me.  I couldn't find anything; the jewelry wasn't my colors, the kitchen gadgets subpar, so we got walkie talkies.  Yay.  They'll come in handy.

Leia has opened up the world of reading.  She is reading really well now and reads everything she sees.  Food packages, the songs at church, books at night.  She is so grown up.  She even showed me card tricks tonight that she learned from her brothers.  She still has her distinct high-pitched voice and you should hear her say Amelia Bedelia.  It's so funny! I'm still wondering if I should take her out of school.  It zaps all the fun out of life, as it is very rigorous, and she spends the majority of every day having to be there and be serious.  She's so young.

Dallas is turning 14 this week and we'll get to explore the fun world of getting him to and from church dances down in Albuquerque soon.

We were all arguing one night about which holiday is best and Pat swears it's Halloween, and I, knowing better, told the kids it was Christmas, and Sam said his favorite was Canada's Boxing Day.  These kids kill me with their sense of humor.

With so much going on, my math class, music, and volunteering in Leia's class, testing recipes for my cookbook, I haven't hardly been going to workout with my friends at all :(

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Songs for Guitar

I've been taking guitar lessons for a couple months since I found a teacher across from where my kids do piano with a time slot open while I'm waiting for them so it doesn't take up extra time.  Trying to remember to practice is hard, especially when Pat's always reminding me that I have to do math (the dreaded math!).  Anyway, my teacher asked for a list of songs I'd like to learn how to play, and this is what I came up with (obviously not electric guitar-Classical/Country and Spanish mostly):

Quizas, Quizas, Quizas- Trio Los Panchos
Oja en Blanco- Monchy & Alexandra
Ode to My Family- Cranberries
Vivir Sin Aire- Mana
Malaguena- various artists
Jolene- Dolly Parton
Travelin' Soldier- Dixie Chicks
Peaceful Easy Feeling- Eagles
Amarillo by Morning- George Straight
Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World- Israel K.
Annie's Song- John Denver
Dust in the Wind- Kansas
Mr. Bojangles- Nitty Gritty Dirt Band or Jerry Jeff Walker
Scarborough Fair and other songs by Simon and Garfunkel
I Love- Tom T. Hall
Whiskey Lullaby- Brad Paisley and Allison Kraus
Un Amor- Gypsy Kings
Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris- Speedway at Nazareth

Other songs like Molly Malone, Loch Lomand (traditional Scottish, Irish, and English songs)

Also traditional American Folk Music and other European folk music.

I was surprised by how much country was on there, but those old songs go well with acoustic guitars

I could add El Paso by Marty Robbins, The Gambler by Kenny Rogers, but right now I'm just thinking about Christmas!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Veteran's day, food, and more...

I realize I could organize this better, but it saves me time if I just talk about each picture in the order they pop up.  So this is a great non-lettuce salad I threw together with stuff I had at home: jicama, black beans, edamame, red onion, mango, and pomegranite seeds.  Then a bit of cilantro, lime, and maple syrup.  I needed this for our Super Saturday (the yearly event where the women of the church get together to make crafts, learn in classes, etc.)  But I was glad to happen upon this since I'm frantically putting together a new cookbook for myself and my sister (hoping to finish by Christmas).
Dallas heard his school wanted a special flag ceremony for Veteran's Day so he arranged it with a few other scouts.  They did a wonderful job and had a very solemn and commanding presence.  All the men lined up along the fence are our Veteran's, and the kids all shook hands with them after the ceremony was over. It was very emotional.  One of the speakers has only thumbs and a very burned/grafted face.  We cannot even understand...

Here's the view from the back of the crowd.

This girl of mine was practicing her piano and I took this picture to document her beautiful spiral curls.  She'll probably grow out of this like I did, but at 6 years old, her hair does this naturally if you let it dry on it's own.  It is so pretty!!! 
She has been having trouble making friends at school.  She says at recess she never has anyone to play with.  I think it's getting better now, but for a while she would say how much she wished Evan could play with her (and Evan wishes he could play with her too).  She said there was one girl who would let her color with her (but then Leia said, "She lets me watch her color").  Another time she said that some of her friends told her that she can't play with them anymore.  When I ask her why, it seems I gathered that they're offended because Leia gets up and runs off suddenly.  When I ask her why she runs off she says, "I just need air!  I need to run around and get air, 'cause air is really good for our bodies".  I guess her friends just want to play school all the time and Leia is bored.  I told her to be nice to her friends but that it's okay to go play other games with other people too and run around.  Then she said (about them telling her she can't play with them), "I got really sad, but then I remembered that 'Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me!'"  She said this like it was a great comfort to her. 

Three squash stir-fry (in water, not oil) with only Mrs. Dash.  Butternut squash, yellow, and zucchini!

I was doing my math one night, and realized Pat and I are getting older and need to be stretching daily.  (That's one thing I hate about being in school is you spend so much more time sitting!)  So I watched some videos, consulted some people, and came up with a morning routine for us.  We can do it quickly in 20 minutes, or on the weekend 45 minutes to go through them all.  It's important as you age to retain your balance and flexibility.  Pat even says now that his body is upset when he doesn't do it, so he can definitely feel a difference.  The only downside is I have to wake up just after 5am instead of 5:40 for family scriptures.
I know you can't read it, but this is what we came up with.

These girls were lined up outside their classroom next to their artwork.  Leia's is the one on top with the red shirt just like her! 

This is one of my scouts showing off his walking stick that we carved for one of our activities.  He also made a wooden "book" that opens up to a secret compartment inside.  I have great scouts (although I'm about to get some real wild ones I hear).

Best healthy dessert ever!  Slices of butternut squash layered with slices of green apple.  Alternate layers and then sprinkle brown sugar on top.  Bake and serve!  Sweet like candy!
The pine nuts are popping around here again!
I had heard that you can shred a yam (orange sweet potato) and saute it in a little water until mostly soft and then stir in some barbecue sauce and it would taste like a shredded pork sandwich.  So I tried it and it does!  At least it's pretty good.  I ate a shredded "pork" sandwich, and then the next day had some barbecue "pork" over mashed potatoes.  So yummy.  Too much sugar, but occasionally...
Leia's class doing a recitation.  She's in the back row with a shadow on her face.
Two kids ready for school!  I told Leia to just put her hand by her side and she got very serious.
Sam and Dallas play chess with their friends during lunch now, and seem to really have fun.  Sam and Evan are friends with brothers their same ages and went over to play one day and Sam came home and said he beat their dad.  I just laughed.  The things these kids do.  Sam's been able to start going to the temple for baptisms and for some years our ward's youth have been known as the singing youth.  A sister was bearing her testimony about how one of the kids started a certain song and how much it meant to her, and Sam whispered, "That was me!"  

Evan recited this poem with his class recently.  This is his "messy" handwriting.  It's way nicer than mine!
After sharing that I'd had a bad dream the other day, Evan opened up about one he had had.  He was in the back yard playing with Sam and they found a dead jaguar and carried it inside.  Then the house became surrounded by jaguars trying to get in, all wearing little red vests.  Well the picture that this conjured up in our minds was so dang funny that we were all trying not to laugh at his dream, but then Sam couldn't help himself and once he started we all fell apart.  Even Evan was laughing, but tears started to come out simultaneously and his laughter stopped, and my heart broke for him.  Even though it sounded funny to us, I could tell it really was a bad nightmare for him.  Poor guy.  Pat then told us all of a bad nightmare he'd had growing up of sitting on his mom's lap and seeing a lady in red who he knew was a bad lady.  Then the lady came right up to him and bit his fingers.  He has never forgotten that dream, or how terrified he was  (and of course by then, we were all laughing at how hilarious it was).

The boys love to go outside and take funny pictures of the chickens.
Pumpkin cookie time!

During school spirit week, one day they could come dressed as an historical figure.  Leia was Abigail Adams since we already had that dress.  It was fun doing her hair like old times.
What Charlie does at home alone.  He really misses his brothers and sister.  Leia is mostly his best friend, but lately he's been saying that Evan is his best buddy.  Only Evan can take off his bandaid, for example.  When Evan picks him up, he wraps his arms and legs around him and says, "My best buddy!"  One day he was sad though when Leia wouldn't play with him and said, "Mom!  Leia won't let herself play with me!"
Making more granola bars for the kids lunches.
After they're cut and cooled, I wrap each one in a quicksheet...
...then put into a freezer bag.  Each day they grab one and it helps keep their food cool.

Mashed potatoes with my "cheese" sauce and garlic lemon asparagus.
Man, we love Avatar around here.  We've been reading these fun books from the library.

Making bread.  I finally found a toasted grains drink like I had in Chile!  Pero is just like the Ecco or Coronado that we used to drink.  It's been getting cold her and since I don't want to drink sweet hot chocolate, I've been thankful for this warm drink from my memories!

We've been more social lately than normal.  I said to Pat, "Why do people keep being so friendly to us?!", in mock annoyance, and he said, "I know! Soon they'll learn."

The most difficult thing about us is that I strongly dislike board games and Pat loves them.  I'd rather get together and talk, sing, walk, play instruments, dance, watch a movie, etc.  But we have dear friends that like to sit all night playing a game, so I'm trying...  and it's soo painful.  The only games I like are some card games (I used to play a really fun one with the Lewis's), Mexican train domino-type games, the crazy Uno games we used to play as missionaries, pictionary, some games I've played with the Hasler's, etc.  I just didn't grow up in a gaming family.

I realized as I was doing math, where a simple concept would get added to again and again until it was far from simple, that that's why I don't like games!!!  They're like doing math!!!  It's so stressful trying to learn all the rules that keep building on each other and the strategizing that goes with it, and I don't know why people want to stress more on their days off, or why they think that's fun!  But then again, there are weirdos who like math...

Honestly, Heavenly Father let me see a glimpse recently of the beauty in the eternal laws of math, and it brought me to tears almost as sudden as that glimpse was seen.  I can at least appreciate it, even though it's not really my thing.  I did get 100% on my math mid-term, which is historic.  It's all thanks to my live in math tutor :)

Halloween and Soccer 2016

This year for Halloween, we had a great trunk-or-treat at the church with two wards and then they went "real" Trick-or-Treating in Albuquerque down a few streets.  They had fun, got way too much candy, and enjoyed the unusually warm weather this Halloween.  Evan was a rocker guy, and he even made this guitar case to hold his candy!  It is made out of cardboard, with a hidden box inside for collecting the candy, a handle, and the whole thing painted black.  Evan is so cool.
I took these three youngest ones to the pumpkin patch this year too.  Hay ride, picking pumpkins, big slides, animals, picnic, corn maze, and lots more!  I missed not having D and S, but they seem a bit old to be taken out of school for that now. 
Sam was a bum, Dallas re-used his old man costume (with a walker not shown), Leia was Abigail Adams again, Charles was both an astronaut and Batman, and Evan was a Rocker.  Dallas stayed in character (as a frail old man) at the ward trunk-or-treat really well.  He walked very slowly and bent over with that walker, and any time someone patted him on the back and said, Hi Dallas, he'd fall over into the bushes.  Once he fell splayed out in the street!  Then he'd require assistance to get up.  It was hilarious.  His friend Tessa happened to come as an old lady and the two of them were really great!
Late that night after we were home, four girls knocked on our door and when Dallas opened the door, there was another door!  He had to knock on it.  When it opened there were the girls.  These were girls D's age who went to the haunted house together, and then they proceeded to make jokes about him.  I think they were all dressed like old ladies, but I didn't see.  Anyways, you'd have to ask Dallas about this, but it seemed pretty funny.  He wrote them a silly poem as a thank you (I found this out after one of the moms told me about it!).

There was a Renaissance Fair at our school and Dallas competed in the Shakespeare recitation.  He did St. Crispin's speech, " of England asleep in their beds will think themselves accursed..."!  He got second place, but most people weren't there to see it.  So imagine our surprise a few days later when they called him up and awarded him 2nd place in front of the whole school with a prize of $20!  There was a big cheer and it was so fun!  He also won best costume with his Renaissance get-up, but I didn't get a picture of it, and he really didn't deserve it anyway.  His friend Ben had a more authentic, hand-sewn by his mother, costume and should have won if he had known about the contest :(

Another soccer year done.  I just love being out on the fields during these fall evenings, even if it is inconvenient.  We're so glad it's done, but everyone had fun while it lasted.  Each week it got dark earlier and earlier, so I showed that in the following pictures.  They always have so much fun they stay until they can't see hardly anything!

On the way to school one morning and we looked back at our house and saw a full rainbow over it!
I had to get the full rainbow in two shots since I was in a hurry.

Charles at a Leia game.  She liked playing soccer and had a really good time, but wasn't very effective and got hurt often.  Her last game she got kicked so hard she was bleeding and couldn't walk and Pat was reffing, and I was at a different game, so the other mom's took care of her.  My poor girl!

That was the only bad thing about soccer this year; we really needed another set of parents.  Most every Saturday, their games were at the same time but at three different fields.  Most times Evan just had Sam watching his games because Pat had to ref Leia's games in Tijeras, and I had to take Dallas to Albuquerque.  

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Pat's Birthday

For Pat's birthday we went to the church and played basketball.  The kids got him a ball since he's started playing at the church one night a week.  He has loved playing basketball since he was a kid and one of his biggest regrets is never ever trying out for a team.   He always takes the opportunity to play when he can now.

What is it with my kids and plaid shorts?!  They say those are the only shorts they have, so I guess that's my fault, but the other night Evan was at soccer practice with plaid shorts, a striped shirt and knee-high green socks.  It was loud and awful and he looked nothing like the other kids; and he didn't care one bit.

I took these pictures after I stopped playing.  A ghost pushed me over when I didn't even have the ball and no one was even near me.  It was hilarious.  And it hurt.

Pat and his cheesecake.  His face looks like it's on fire.  ha ha