Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Our Tree Runneth Over

We started our Gratitude Tree at the beginning of the month...

...and look how it's grown!

What a great thing to be able to really think about all things we're grateful for.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sweet Pork Burritos

This one's for Julianne.

If you've never tried Sweet Pork Burritos, you simply must!  I'd heard about them from friends, saw them advertised on TV at certain restaurants, but I'd never actually tried them, (or necessarily wanted to) until a few months ago.  I was looking for a crockpot recipe.  Something new.  Something different.  This seemed to fit the bill, so we tried it.


I cannot get over how incredibly yummy these are!  They rival virtually any food I've ever eaten, including prime rib and shrimp.  Those of you who know me know what a big deal that is.  So, here it is.  A little piece of heaven.

Sweet Pork Burritos
2-3 lb. Hunk O' Pork (Can be a roast, boneless ribs, loin, etc.  Whatever you have or whatever you can find for a good price.)
2 C. brown sugar
1 jar (14 oz. or so) of your favorite salsa (If you don't have a fave, might I suggest El Pinto brand? SO, SO good!  We use 1/2 Mild Salsa and 1/2 Medium Green Chile Sauce.)
1 can cola (Don't use diet, but caffeine free works fine.)
Throw all the ingredients in the crockpot on low for 7-9 hours.  About an hour or so before serving, take the meat out & shred it, then put it back into the pot to let it keep soaking up all that deliciousness.

Serve on a flour tortilla with Spanish rice, black beans (canned, drained), cheese (we like colby jack) & sour cream. Of course, you can add or omit whatever you & your family will eat.

For a quick and easy Spanish Rice recipe, use this:

Spanish Rice
1 1/2 C uncooked rice
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
3/4 can water (fill the empty tomato can 3/4)
1 t chicken bouillon
1/2 packet taco seasoning

Throw it all in a pot, bring to boil, then cover, drop heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.  Stir and serve!

So, tomorrow morning, throw this together and your taste buds will be dancing come dinnertime!
Let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Homemade Christmas

A few years ago, I got really disenchanted with Christmas. We'd bought the girls a bunch of things we thought they'd LOVE. And they did. For about 2 weeks. I was given a few things that didn't fit, and ended up returning my ENTIRE cache of gifts and never getting replacements for ANY of them. I was really troubled and discouraged by this and spent the next few months really questioning the entire Christmas season. Has gift-giving always been this way? Is this what I put so much time and effort into? Do I even remember the gifts I've been given over the years? If so, do I appreciate them and the thought that went into them? How do I make Christmas enjoyable AND memorable? I made a vow to never just go buy "stuff" again, and that has evolved into something truly deep and meaningful for me and for my family.

It began with a trip to the fabric store, where I bought some foam and some fabric. I spent my evenings that December busily sewing three little pillows for my three little girls. I found some beautiful paper and my favorite pen and proceeded to handwrite a letter to each of them. (Mike also writes them a letter.) I told them how much I loved them, what I'd seen them accomplish over the last year, gushed over how wonderful they were, and left them with my testimony of prayer and what it has meant to me in my life. They now use those little "prayer pillows" every night to kneel on as they are learning to communicate with their Heavenly Father.

The next year I chose to make little fabric covered journals and fun, feathery pencils for them. They were to be used only during the sacrament to help them think about the reason we partake of the bread and water. They could either write or draw a picture of something having to do with Christ. One week I asked them to write/draw something that Jesus made. Another week it was write/draw about why we love Jesus. Again, I wrote a letter to each of the girls, telling them how much I loved them, what I'd seen them accomplish over the last year, gushing over how wonderful they were, and leaving them with my testimony of the importance of keeping a journal and recording how we feel about the Savior.

There are a few things that I love about my new direction for Christmas.
1) I'm giving my children something they will use--and use often--so that it doesn't become just another present.
2) It may not matter to them now, but someday, they will cherish the letters they got from Mom & Dad every Christmas.
3) They will always have a record of their parents' testimony of specific principles of the gospel.

I have a renewed love for Christmas now and have decided to pass this on to my children. This year, we're having a "Homemade Christmas" where everything given will have to be made by the giver (with a little help from Mom & Dad, of course). The girls have already decided what they want to make and we've done some shopping for materials already. I think I get asked hourly by at least one of them if they can start on their project yet. I will be documenting the excitement as we go along. It should be an interesting ride! I hope this will make Christmas more memorable for all of us, and help us to focus on the reason we have Christmas in the first place.

The principle I'm focusing on this year will be the Sabbath Day. I plan on making that Sunday Box I mentioned a few months ago and have a really good start on items to go in it already. (Thank you for going out of business at 70% off Ben Franklin!) Since Dixon's a little too small to benefit from the Sunday Box just yet, and trying to keep with my Sabbath Day theme, I scratched my sewing itch and made these oh so adorable little man ties!

I gave the bigger ones away (as payment for Maggie's piano lessons...thanks, Eden! Your boys were so HANDSOME in them today!), but I'm totally excited to make a BUNCH more now that I have a pattern and it takes me only about 20 minutes to whip one up! And yes, I realize that this is supposed to be a Christmas present, but how could I resist??? Now I have an excuse to go buy some darling fabric and make some more!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Mathematics of Being Right

I love having discussions. I've always felt like I have wisdom to impart on anyone who would have the ears to hear me, and I love hearing how other opinions align with my own. When I come to conclusions about things, it's usually because I've thought things through carefully, leading me to the right answer.

I started thinking this morning, that life, and even individual cirumstances, can be compared to a math equation. (I know. Math has never been my strong suit. One could therefore argue that life isn't my strong suit either, but let's save that discussion for another day.) We (and by "we" I mean "I") tend to go through life comparing our answers to others' answers, after all, that's how a teacher knows whether or not a student understands a concept--by looking at the answer. If the answers aren't the same, then a mistake has been made somewhere along the way. The teacher then pinpoints the mistake and the correct conclusion can finally be formed. I've always had an inclination to play the role of teacher, and have thought of it as my place to inform or correct someone where possible, so they can have all the information they need to make the "correct" decision. (Though I think I've always maintained that people have a right to their opinion--even if their opinion is wrong. I would just view this as someone being mis-or under-informed. Hence, in need of my correction.)

While there is some validity to this analogy, I now realize that I was fundamentally off base. You see, not everyone is given the same equation in life. Suzy may have a square root thrown into her equation which will completely alter not only the way she works her equation, but also her results. She may get an answer that is completely opposite to mine. Dan may not only have a square root, but also some exponential inserted into his equation, making his answer different from either Suzy's or mine. Does that make anyone's answers wrong? Nope. It makes them all exactly right, according to their equations (and provided they worked the equation right, which is another discussion altogether).

It's so easy to make judgments on others' conclusions according to our own equation. In fact, this is almost always the case. You can see how this could be and IS a problem, especially for one like me who has a bad case of correctionitis.

Judgement comes as a natural result of needing to make decisions. Without being able to judge, we would have no ability to chose and therefore have no agency. Judgement is a good and necessary tool in this life, but as with everything else, Satan tries to use even good and necessary tools to his benefit. We are commanded to "Judge not, lest ye be judged." We are warned to refrain from making judgments about others, especially when we aren't privvy to all the details involved in someone else's life. At the same time we're commanded to "Judge ye therefore righteously." Some judgments must be made. The only way to judge righteously is to ask the Lord, and to rely on the Spirit to guide us in our attempts to come to correct conclusions. We are faced continually with decisions that require our good judgment. Only Christ knows what even the smallest of factors may be in each of our lives, guiding each of our decisions, so is it any wonder that "He inviteth all to come unto him"? How else can we possibly judge righteously?

SO, this judger has some work to do. Again. I'm still totally opinionated--don't see that changing much. But I hope that I can slow my judgment reactions by remembering that everyone's equation is different.

So, please, don't judge this judger.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

In Bloom, Literally

So, you're heard me gush about the new blog BLOOM before, but may I please gush a little more?
Head over there today and you'll see that they've posted an article written by
--you guessed it--ME!

Also, don't forget to check out my tutorial on enlarging your blog photos.

How to ENLARGE Photos on your Blog

I’ve had a couple of people ask how I make my photos so large on my blog, so I thought I’d attempt a tutorial on how to do it.

Start by adding a picture to your post. In the top right corner of your composition box, you’ll see two tabs. “Edit HTML” and “Compose.” You should already be on “Compose” Click on the “Edit HTML” button, and you’ll see something that looks like this:

This is the code for the picture you just uploaded. I highlighted the things you want to pay attention to. First, in red, the width & height of your photo. I just double the numbers. So, in this example, I change 300 to 600, and 400 to 800 (or whatever your dimensions happen to be). Second, in blue, I make sure that wherever I see “s(a number)-h” that it is at 1600, and “s(a number)” that it is at 800. For example, in this photo, we see “s1600-h” which I leave at 1600. We also see “s400” so I change that to “s800.”

After you’ve made the changes, click back over to your “Compose” button and you should have a photo that fills your column.

Good luck, and let me know how it works for you!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

All Because a Good, Honest and Loving Boy Was Born

Many, many, many, many years ago, in the border town of El Paso, a little boy was born to good, honest and loving parents who would teach him how to be good, honest and loving. He would grow up with the bright Texas sunshine bleaching his blonde hair an even brighter shade of white as he spent his summer days trying his hardest to become a fish at the local pool. He loved the smell of his oiled leather mitt and donned it as often as he could as baseball became his life. Even the burn in his legs and in his lungs from running the stadium stairs day after day couldn't keep him away from The Diamond. Soon it was time to leave his good, honest and loving parents for higher learning and of course, more baseball. Little did he know that his travels would take him far beyond the boundaries of his baseball league, as The War came and he was called up by the Navy to serve his Country. While stationed as a Recruiter, he met a good, honest and loving girl whom he asked to be his wife. And so it began. This good, honest and loving man and his good, honest and loving wife journeyed together to different parts of this great Country, adding five precious little children to their family along the way. They raised them to be good, honest and loving people, and after beginning journeys of their own, are raising their children (all twenty of them) to be good, honest and loving people. All because a good, honest and loving boy was born this day, many, many, many, many years ago.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Yesterday evening while I was cleaning up the kitchen, Mike let out a holler from the bathroom.

"OH, NO!"

As it turned out, he'd broken the toilet seat. I went to inspect, thinking that the plastic bracket that attached the lid probably broke away, from the girls always climbing on it. Instead, this is what I found:

"Were you standing on it?" I asked.
"Um, no. Sitting." came the reply.

After laughing till I cried, all I could think was--

Thank goodness!





And of course, Mike's answer to quick fixes is almost always, duct tape.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Watching our Gratitude Grow

So often, one of our most important holidays is overlooked as decorations, commercials and billboards for Christmas go up earlier and earlier--before Halloween, even! I want my children to look forward to Thanksgiving as much as they do any other sugar-induced celebration, if not more. Thanksgiving seems to be the least commercially tainted of all the holidays--maybe that's why I like it so much. As I was thinking about what I could do to make this holiday stand out (in a good way), I perused a few different sites on the web, and wouldn't you know, Tara had blogged just this morning about her Gratitude Tree. Tara got the idea from a friend, who got the idea from another friend...I just love how good ideas go 'round and 'round! I was so excited to find something other than paper chains to record tidbits of gratitude on that I immediately took down all the Halloween decor and set out to making my tree. Here's what 6 brown paper bags and a little painter's tape got me:I found a bunch of fall-colored scrapbook paper that I no longer use thanks to my blog. (Yay for technology!) So I cut out a bunch of leaves from them and left them in the box at the base of the tree along with tape and a pen. The hope is that the girls (and Mike and I) will be inspired throughout the month to stop and think about what they are grateful for, and make our Gratitude Tree grow. I'm so excited for Family Home Evening tonight! I love the idea of being immersed in gratitude. Hopefully that same feeling will carry on into the next holiday, as Christmas certainly tends to turn us toward what "I" will be getting. I'll post about this again after Thanksgiving so we can check our gratitude growth.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween! Halloween! Lots of Fun on Halloween!

If any of you remember last year's Halloween post, you'll know how much I was looking forward to trunk-or-treat again. THANKFULLY, there was only a slight resemblance to the mayhem of Halloween '08. Kids were fairly well behaved and although I was trying to do the work of three people (Mike had to work a viewing), I managed to get my kids around to all the trunks, hand out candy, and take care of a cold fussy baby, all on my own! Ok, so I had a little help with walking the kids around to the trunks, but I really felt like I was Lynda Carter, hiding my secret Wonder Woman identity. A couple of turns in the parking lot and my costume would've been revealed! What a great trick--I'll have to keep that in mind for next year...

Hannah Montana, Rachael Ray, Miss Smarty Pants
& Tutu-wearing Gangsta Bunny (I really have no idea where she got this pose from...)

My girls and their Super Heroes! Batman, Spider-Man & Superman!
Not quite sure how the Bride & Puppy fit in.
Bridget as "Bunny"
Katie as "Rachael Ray"

Brooke as "Miss Smarty Pants"
Maggie as "Hannah Montana"

Zach as "Batman"
Wes as "Spider-Man"

Ben as "Superman"

Meredith--Trying to relive the happiest day of her life in MY wedding dress. I think Tyler was a little embarrassed by the photo shoot going on in his front yard...
If that's not creepy, I don't know what is. Happy Halloween!