Monday, January 31, 2011

Hunkering Down


This picture was taken a few years ago, but this is pretty much what everything looks like outside right now.  There are little icicles hanging off of everything -- trees, power lines, fences -- and the streets and sidewalks are covered with ice as well.  This is phase one of the major storm that has been forecast.  We have already received the phone call informing us that school is canceled tomorrow.  Next we're in for sleet, then snow, then more ice.  It takes a lot to shut down the University.  We've only seen that happen once in the 10 years we've lived here, but this storm just might do it.  We'll see!

Eating Brains


Each semester Jeff teaches a unit on the brain.  Above you can see the brain he took to class today.  This allows him to point out various parts as he describes their functions to the class.  At some point in his lecture, he takes a small piece of brain on the tip of his knife and says, "Mmmmm.  It looks good enough to eat."  And then he pops it in his mouth.

There are always one or two students who gasp before he assures them that it is made of jell-o. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What My 9-Year Old Does During Sacrament Meeting

"You have done well, my very short padawan."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Soren Has a Dream

Soren, age 7, brought this home from school yesterday:


Is that the cutest?  It melted my heart.  His class made them for Martin Luther King, Jr. day.  Here is the picture on the back:


What a great kid!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Funny

A guy was walking beside a pond when a frog jumped out and told him that she was really a beautiful princess and if he were to kiss her, she would make him very happy! He picked up the frog and put it into his pocket.
 
A few minutes later, the frog poked her head out and said, "Didn't you hear me?! I'm a beautiful princess.  All you have to do is kiss me!"

The guy took the frog out and said, "Look, I understand what you are saying, but right now I just don't have time for a girlfriend... But a talking frog?  That's really cool!"

Thursday, January 27, 2011

On Fevers and Basketball

Soren climbed in my bed during the night saying that he just wanted to snuggle.  I soon realized that he was running a fever.  When I asked him how he was feeling, he bravely replied, "Kind of medium."  I gave him some "orange medicine" (children's ibuprofen), the only meds my kids will take willingly, and snuggled him in for more sleep.  It looks like I'll have my little side-kick at home today.

Photo from byucougars.com

Meanwhile, the rest of us have a different kind of fever.  Jeff and Sam stayed up late to listen to the BYU (19-1) vs. SDSU (20-0) basketball game.  Turns out all the hype leading up to the game was justified.  Jimmer had 43 points as BYU beat the previously undefeated Aztecs 71-58.  Fredette Fever is pretty contagious right now and we've definitely caught it!

Photo from ksl.com

These are my favorite quotes from the ESPN Sports Center videos we watched early this morning: 

"We're going to throw-up on our screen right now..."  (This was referring to the twitter feed they were posting on the screen, but it made me laugh.)

"Let's slobber over Jimmer Fredette..."
We love our Cougars!
 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Our 2.5 Seconds of Fame

In 2005, Jeff, Sam, Savannah and I were cast as extras in Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration.  We took the family and stayed in Nauvoo for a few days so we could participate.  It was long and hot and humid and monotonous -- filming the same scenes over and over and over and over...take one...take five...take twenty-seven... But I think we'd all do it again if we had the chance.  Just being involved was a privilege. 

We'd known about it for 6-8 weeks before filming.  We weren't supposed to cut our hair and Jeff couldn't shave.  Jeff participated in filming for 2 days and Sam, Savannah and I had one day.

This is Jeff on the set with the actor who played Brigham Young.  Jeff had quite the shaggy beard until, in make-up the first day, they shaved off the front so he was left with lamb chop side-burns.  Nice... 
Here are Sam and Savannah after coming out of make-up, which consisted of dark brown powder to make us look dirty.  Sam's hair is so blonde that they made him wear a wig so it would show up.
{I am not posting pictures of me on purpose.  This is my happy blog and, well, let's just keep it that way.  At seven months pregnant, with no make-up, frighteningly ugly hair and an old-woman bonnet, Jeff said he's glad I was not a pioneer when he married me.  I rest my case.}

If you get a chance to watch the film, and you don't blink, you may be able to spot one or two of us if you know where to look. After our three days of filming, we ended up with 12 seconds of screen time.  But even if it had all ended up on the cutting room floor, it was an awesome experience! 
The arrow points to Jeff during the Standard of Truth - (4 seconds)
The arrow points to Sam and Savannah, running in the street  - (4 seconds)
The two blurry figures in the background could be Savannah and me...? (2 secs.)
Sam is the little boy sitting on the porch in the background - (2 seconds)
The group Jeff filmed with, like a big family.  Jeff is on the far left.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Just Dancing

We recently purchased Just Dance 2 for the wii.  I had to share this short video where Savannah and Sterling are trying it out.  Soren, dancing right along in the background, is too cute!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Recipe: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have my friend, Dana, to thank for this recipe.  These cookies are so moist and chewy.  One batch makes about 5 dozen which should last for a while.  (Good luck with that...)  I bake the whole batch, fill a plate to munch on, and then freeze the rest and pull them out for my kids' school lunches.  Yum!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1  1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2  1/2 cups flour
2 cups milk chocolate chips (semi-sweet works, too)

Cream together butter, peanut butter, sugars and eggs.  Add dry ingredients and mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Bake at 375º for 9-12 minutes.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Home Is Where The Cookies Are

We bake a lot of cookies around here.  Jeff was joking that I should have a blog called "10,000 Cookies That Make Me Happy."  :)  My kitchen has a cookie theme with this on the wall:


And this on the door:


We love our cookies!  {Tune in tomorrow for our favorite chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookie recipe!}

Saturday, January 22, 2011

6:32 a.m.

Last night may have been the coldest night so far this month, maybe even this winter; single digits at best and negative numbers with the windchill.  Jeff and Sam were at a Scout camp, sleeping in tents with a bunch of other Scouts.  That does not sound fun to me.  At all.  Sam had so many clothes on when they left yesterday that he looked like a marshmallow. 

I was feeling sorry for them as I climbed in my soft, warm bed late last night.  And then I couldn't sleep.  I woke up a dozen times because Miss Sadie-bug likes to sleep with me when daddy is away and she snores like a chainsaw.  Seriously.  I tried rolling her over or propping her up with another pillow to get her to stop.  No luck.  Finally, somewhere around three a.m., I slept. 

6:10 a.m. - Soren appears by my bed.  "Mom, I just want to snuggle for a bit."  I happily pull him in and look forward to more sleep.  But Soren wants to talk.  "I wonder if...", "Did you know...", Today I want to...."  After about 5 minutes he decides he wants to get his Saturday chores done so he can play.  He heads to the kitchen and I can hear him finding something for breakfast.  Thankfully, I drift off again.

6:32 a.m. -
Soren (cheerfully):  Mom, how long are you going to stay in bed?
Me (rather groggy):  What do you need, honey? 
Soren:  Well, I made you something.
Me:  What is it?
Soren:  It's a surprise.
Me (reluctantly):  I guess I'd better get up and see it.
Soren:  Nope.  You have to stay in bed.  I'll be right back.


Soren:  I made it all by myself.  One is for you and one is for Sadie.  Sorry about the goopy butter on one piece.

Sadie and I shared the piece without the goopy butter.  I've been up ever since.  ;)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Funny: Pick-up lines gone wrong

Man: Haven't I seen you someplace before?
Woman: Yes, that's why I don't go there anymore.

Man: Is this seat empty?
Woman: Yes, and this one will be if you sit down.

Man: Your place or mine?
Woman: Both. You go to yours, and I'll go to mine.

Man: So, what do you do for a living?
Woman: I'm a female impersonator.

Man: Hey baby, what's your sign?
Woman: Do not enter.

Man: I would go to the end of the world for you.
Woman: But would you stay there?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Just Like Dad


I always smile when I come across this picture.  It was taken five years ago after the boys raided Jeff's closet and came out, giggling like crazy, all dressed up in daddy's clothes.  Jeff's got some big shoes (or pants, shirts, and ties) for them to fill, but I'm so glad my boys want to be just like their dad!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mr. Fix-It

I got the best one.  I can't tell you how many times I've realized that over the past 15+ years.  I remember, a year or two out of High School, sitting at my friend's bridal shower and hearing her say, "I feel sorry for the rest of you because I got the best one!"  Well, I can definitely say the same about Jeff.

There are so many reasons why I think Jeff is the best.  But the point of this post is that Jeff can fix just about anything.  He saved us hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars during college when he would grab his Haynes manual and his tools and fix whatever was wrong with the car.

Shortly after moving into our house, when we found water leaking down the walls of our main-floor bathroom from the upstairs bathtub, Jeff said he knew nothing about plumbing and called a plumber.  The plumber couldn't make it for a day or two so Jeff decided to brave the crawl space and take a look.  After about ten minutes, he'd saved us at least $100 and we happily canceled the plumber.  

Then there was the memorable moment when, at 7-months pregnant, I stepped on Sam's violin with a sickening crunch!  Jeff fixed that, too.  As Sam's teacher said, we'll never be able to sell it, but Sam and Sterling both played it until they grew into the next size and Soren plays it now.  I'm just glad we didn't have to buy a new one.

When my parents were here for Christmas, they got locked out of their luggage.  Jeff was able to open it and he figured out the combination (which they never knew) so they'll never get locked out again.  My mom brought her laptop she'd been having trouble with.  Even the "computer guys" who had looked at it were stumped.  I have to admit I was nervous when Jeff started taking it apart.  But before long he'd fixed one problem, put it back together, and then later took it apart again to fix another.

Handy and handsome.  Wahoo!
Our wii broke right before Christmas break.  Jeff thought the reset button was jammed and he just needed to open it up and pop it back out.  You need a special screwdriver to open the wii and due to various issues, we had to wait weeks for that to arrive.  [Note:  Do not break the wii right before Christmas and then let Santa bring new wii games.  Torture!!]  Once the screwdriver finally came, Jeff quickly realized the reset button was not the problem.  So he did a little research on the internet and then proceeded to take the entire thing apart.  Not finding anything that was obviously the problem, he started putting it back together again.  When he put one part back in, it snapped into place rather than sitting loose like he found it.  Wondering if that fixed it, he got it all back together and... It worked!!  The kids hailed Daddy as the hero and are evermore convinced that Daddy really can fix anything.  I could go on and on.

This quote, attributed to Pablo Picasso, is Jeff in a nutshell:  "I am always doing that which I cannot do in order to learn how to do it."

I'm telling you, this Jeff...he's a keeper! 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Book Review: 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny

Laugh-out-loud funny, super short chapters (easy to pick up when you have just a minute or two), and all too true.

Maybe it struck a chord with me because I have a third grader, but really, I think most people would enjoy this book.  I frequently found myself reading little parts out loud to my husband or kids, usually after something made me laugh and they wanted to know what was so funny.  The chapter called Words You Cannot Say In Class had us all laughing through tears!  And there were touching moments that choked me up.  I can't wait to read Mr. Done's next book, Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind.  His perspective is refreshing!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Spontaneous Outbursts of Joy

I know that Flash Mob's are nothing new.  You've probably heard of them and maybe you've even seen one or both of the videos I've posted below.  But I had to put these on my blog because I find myself grinning from ear to ear every time I watch them.  What a great concept:  Choreographing a large group of people to break out in dance for the sole purpose of making other people smile.  I love it!

This one is my favorite:



And this one is fun as well.  I mean, who doesn't love Ohio State?  (Watch for President Gordon Gee's cameo appearance at the end):



You're smiling, aren't you? ;)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sadie's Beach

This is Sadie's beach -- located in a nice sunny location on the hard living room floor.  The other day she decided she wanted to "go to the beach" and before long she had it all set up.  She thought of everything, right down to the heater; after all, the beach is supposed to be warm.  She even had her sunglasses on, but eventually she made me close the curtains because it was just too bright!  It was pretty funny to see her lying there with the heater blowing and listen to her say, "Oh, this is so nice and warm at the beach." 

Later, she decided that everyone should be able to enjoy her beach.  She made each member of the family a "Bech Tikit" (beach ticket) and invited them to come to her beach.  We love our little bug.  She definitely keeps things interesting around here! 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Funny

Q:  What do you have when you have four apples in one hand and four oranges in the other?

A:  Really big hands.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Q:  Why do giraffes have such long necks?

A:  Because their heads are so far away from their bodies.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Q:  What do Alexander the Great and Kermit the Frog have in common?

A:  Their middle name.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Day #4

Yesterday was a snow day.  Today is a snow day.  We had two snow days before Christmas break.  There are only five snow days built into the school calendar.  Anything over 5 is free.  Bring it on!

I guess I should say that the roads today are really not that bad.  In fact, the roads in town were probably fine this morning.  But since our schools cover several rural areas, the buses often have a hard time on those uncleared back roads.  The wind gusts, which means icy roads and drifting snow, don't help. The administration has to make sure that the buses can get everyone to school safe and so sometimes school is canceled, like today, because of those outlying areas.  Whatever the reason, my kids are thrilled.  You'd think it was Christmas!

{This photo was taken yesterday morning, looking out a front window upstairs.  You can see that the road is pretty bad -- and we live on a main road.  The side roads would have been much worse.  Today our road is clear, but as of last night some side streets were pretty slick!  We're happy to be warm and safe inside!}

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I Could Just Tell

We received the latest edition of Reader's Digest in the mail this week.  I was flipping through it today and started to read an article near the back, "The Bottom Line on Happiness," by Clayton M. Christensen.  By the end of the fourth paragraph I'm thinking, "This guy has got to be Mormon!"  So I did a quick internet search and, sure enough, he belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  On his website, I found a link to a document called, "Why I Belong and Why I Believe," in which he discusses his commitment to the church.  I recommend it to everyone, Mormon or not.  It's excellent and gave me much to think about. 

I later finished the article in the Reader's Digest which is excellent, too, by the way.  In it, Mr. Christensen shared a story about his days on the Oxford Basketball team and an important decision he had to make.  President Monson shared the same story during our most recent General Conference, so I would have known Mr. Christensen was Mormon if I'd finished the article before searching the internet.  I'm glad I didn't.

The thing I keep thinking about is that I could tell he was Mormon and I've never even met him!  I hope people can tell that about me, too.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Meet Rose

This is Rose.  Isn't she beautiful?  She's an orphan in a small village in Kenya.  A friend of mine from Scotland, Yvonne, runs a charity with her Mom to help this village.  They have built schools and an orphanage.  Rose lives in the orphanage and we have the privilege of sponsoring her education.  It's pennies, really, compared to what things would cost here, but these kids are so grateful for the opportunity to attend school.

Yvonne and Maureen have done, and continue to do, amazing things for this village and are now reaching out to other parts of Africa.You can check out their website:  www.educatethekids.com.  The charity is not recognized in the US -- so no tax benefits if that's what you're looking for -- but if you just want to contribute to an honest group who is doing a world of good, look no further.  They don't take "administrative fees" so every penny of your contribution will go to help educate, clothe, or feed these kids.  A worthy cause?  We think so!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

We Believe

The theme for the youth at church this year is the 13th Article of Faith.  Here is a board I made for the opening exercises at their mid-week activities.  It's a great theme and a great way to live!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday Funny

This guy sees a sign in front of a house: "Talking Dog for Sale." He rings the bell and the owner tells him the dog is in the back yard. The guy goes into the back yard and sees a mutt sitting there.

"You talk?" he asks.

"Yep," the mutt replies.

"So, what's your story?"

The mutt looks up and says, "Well, I discovered this gift pretty young and I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA about my gift, and in no time they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of their most valuable spies eight years running.  The jetting around really tired me out.  I knew I wasn't getting any younger and I wanted to settle down. So I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security work, mostly wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings there and was awarded a batch of medals. Had a wife, a mess of puppies, and now I'm just retired."

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.

"Ten dollars."

"Ten dollars?  This dog is amazing!  Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?"

The owner replies, "He's a liar.  He didn't do any of that stuff."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Published

Check it out!  Jeff was invited to be a co-editor for this book over two years ago.  He also wrote one of the chapters.  He brought home the published hardcover book yesterday.  Pretty fun to see his name on the cover.  :)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Who Needs Snow?

video

Who needs snow?  Apparently not Soren!  We had plenty of snow on Christmas day, but then the weather turned unseasonably warm and the snow quickly melted.  Jeff managed to get the kids outside for some fresh air and Soren decided sledding would be fun.  I guess that's one way to get your exercise!  What a funny kid. 
(Excuse the unrelated background noise...)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Daddy's Castle, part 2


I took this (terribly grainy) picture on our way home from the boys' violin lesson tonight.  I love seeing "Daddy's Castle" all lit up at Christmas time.  This photo doesn't do it justice; after all, it was taken on my iPod in a moving vehicle.  But the lights will be off soon and I want to remember. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

I'm going to miss this

I love it when my kids learn how to read.  Sadie has definitely caught the reading bug!  You can just tell from this picture of her reading to Jeff this morning how happy she is.  After she read to Jeff, she sat in that chair and listened to book after book; once she exhausted Jeff, it was my turn.  She must have sat there for an hour, never tiring of the stories she loves.  She won't always be like this, and she's my baby so I won't be teaching anyone else how to read.  I'm going to miss this!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Recipe: Peppermint Balls

So maybe this recipe would have been more appropriate a month ago, but it's a perfect way to use up all those leftover peppermint candy canes.  And if you feel like making them when no candy canes are to be found, just use starlight mint hard candies.  So yummy!  Thanks to my friend, Diane, for sharing this recipe with me all those years ago.  We love them and make them every year.

Peppermint Balls

1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
1 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. peppermint candies, crushed

Cream ingredients together, stirring in crushed candy last.  Form into balls and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350º.  Do not over bake (they should be just barely browning around the edges).  Glaze with a powdered sugar and water mixture and top with some crushed candies.  (I sometimes add a little peppermint extract to the glaze, just for fun.)  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

An Attitude of Gratitude

This is a great reminder at the start of a new year.