Friday, September 30, 2011

BYU Football is Bad For My Heart

If I end up with heart problems, I'm blaming BYU.  I don't know why the football team insists on waiting until the very end of the game to squeak out a win, but I'm sure glad they pulled through tonight. 


I was more than a bit worried when Utah State, on the very first play of the game, ran 80 yards for a touchdown.  And I was more than a little thrilled when BYU, with 11 seconds left, caught it in the end zone and walked away with the victory.  I felt bad for Utah State as the cameras showed the look of defeat and disbelief on their faces.  But only for a minute.  Then I just felt relief that we managed to pull off a much needed win.

Go Cougars!!  If it's not too much to ask, could you please go a little easier on my heart?

10/1: This just in -- a photo from my brother who was at the game with Jeff and the boys.  Looks like a great time to me!

To read Savannah's thoughts on the game, check out her blog.

Rice 'n' Black Bean Bake

Here's a quick and easy recipe for a hearty snack or lunch, perfect for General Conference weekend.  I needed something in a pinch for one of Jeff's holiday work parties last year.  I rediscovered this recipe in the nick of time, quickly threw it together, and had people asking for the recipe.  The recipe comes from Quick Cooking Magazine (Jan/Feb 2000).  I've included my own minor modifications in italics.  If you try it, let me know what you think!

Rice 'n' Black Bean Bake
{Ready in 30 minutes or less}
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained  (I use 2 cans)
1 can (10 oz.) diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 jar (8 oz.) picante sauce (I use 1 c. salsa)
2 cups cooked rice (I use 3 cups)
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
Corn or tortilla chips

In a bowl, combine the first four ingredients.  Stir in the rice, sour cream, and 1 cup of cheese.  Transfer to a greased 9x13 baking dish.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  Bake, uncovered, at 350ยบ for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted.  Serve with corn or tortilla chips.  (It's also good wrapped up in a tortilla.)


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Big Weekend Plans

Jeff, Sam and Spencer took off this afternoon for an adventure.  For Spencer's birthday last month, he was sent on a treasure hunt that ended with plane tickets to Utah, as well as tickets to the BYU/Utah State game and the Priesthood Session of General Conference with Jeff and Sam. 

Jeff has mentioned several times over the years that he would like to take each of the boys to Priesthood Session like his dad did for him when he was young.  With Spencer turning 12 this year, he decided to take Sam and Spencer.  He'll do the same with Sterling and Soren in a few years.  It worked out well that BYU has a home game this weekend.  They were pretty excited as they headed to the airport this afternoon.

Do you like the homemade tickets (left) that I made for the treasure hunt?  Spencer was actually quite nervous for the trip at first, especially flying.  He's warmed up to the idea over the past several weeks and I'm excited for him and the others. This has been one of our more difficult school years so far and Spencer really needed the break.  I hope it's a great weekend for them.  This is a splurge for us, but I have a feeling it'll be worth it!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sunday Sugar Cookies

The chill in the air made yesterday feel like the perfect day for our once-a-year sugar cookies.  The combination of this frosting with candy corn is oh so good!  A fun Sunday afternoon activity.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Did you see the General Relief Society Meeting broadcast on Saturday evening?  I loved President Uchtdorf's talk.  So, so good!  I'm listening to it for the third time right now.  It's a little longish, but if you can spare a few minutes, you won't regret it. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Praying Mantis

We've been seeing quite a few of these curious looking creatures around.
I'm always amazed (amused?) by the variety in nature.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Funny

A young man was walking through a supermarket to pick up a few things when he noticed an old lady following him around. Thinking nothing of it, he ignored her and continued on. Finally he went to the checkout line, but she got in front of him.

"Pardon me," she said, "I'm sorry if my staring at you has made you feel uncomfortable. It's just that you look just like my son, who just died recently."

"I'm very sorry," replied the young man, "is there anything I can do for you?"

"Yes," she said, "As I'm leaving, can you say 'Good bye, Mother'? It would make me feel so much better."

"Sure," answered the young man.

As the old woman was leaving, he called out, "Goodbye, Mother!" As he stepped up to the checkout counter, he saw that his total was $127.50. "How can that be?" He asked, "I only purchased a few things!"

"Your mother said that you would pay for her," said the clerk.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Real Time Pricing

It's been two or three years now since we switched.  Our electric company made us aware of an option to pay actual prices for electricity used instead of the set rate we were paying.  This meant our rate would change every hour of the day, but most of the time we would end up paying less than everyone else.  It required a one year commitment (because they had to come and change the meter on our home) and a $3/month charge to participate.  We decided to give it a try. 

We can find out what the rates will be for the next day after 4:30pm.  The only times we pay more per KWH than everyone else is when it's really hot or really cold - basically when overall usage is high.  The peak times change from summer to winter so we modify our usage (when we run the dishwasher or do laundry, for example) to take advantage of off-peak hours. 

Overall, we are using more electricity now than we used to, but we are paying less money.  One reason for the increase in our usage is that during the summer, and just since we started on this plan, we run our air conditioner all night.  The rates are very low in the middle of the night and so we're not paying much at all.  I love sleeping in a cold room and then we shut it down in the morning and keep it off during the peak hours of the day.  Our house stays cool most of the day and we are able to turn it on again in the evening when the rates go down.  This time of year is just the icing on the cake when rates are low all day long.

Of course I'm looking forward to the day we can generate our own electricity, but until then we love Real Time Pricing (also called PowerSmart Pricing) and wouldn't go back.  See below for today's rates. (I believe the set rate for those not on this plan is between .06 and .07/KWH.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Talented Photographer

We had a talent show at church on Friday night.  I was in charge and I was so impressed by the amount of participation and support we had.  It was a great evening with 19 traditional song-and-dance kind of talents, about 10 displays of arts and crafts and other handiwork, and oodles of desserts which consisted of family favorite and prize-winning recipes.

The missionaries had transfers the week before and our newest Elder, Elder Adam, asked if he could participate in the talent show.  It turns out he is a gifted photographer.  We set up my laptop with a slideshow from his flickr account as a display.  One of my favorite photos is shown below (with permission).  It was taken during his vacation to Iceland.  If you get a chance, check out some of his other photos and prepare to be impressed!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tackling - Do Not Try This at Home

The BYU vs. Utah game is making some people pretty grumpy around here. It's very late in my little corner of the world so I'm going to skip the 4th quarter and leave you with something to smile about.   Go Cougars! You're still my team. :) 

A Lego Gift

Soren has a birthday party today.  The party has a Lego theme because the birthday boy loves legos.  Sure, I could do the easy (and expensive) thing and go buy Collin a lego set.  But what if he already has the one we choose?  Would he like one of the new Hero Factory figures?  Does he like the themed sets or the bucket of bricks?

Our usual birthday gift is a personalized sign.  It's what I do.  I enjoy giving things that people couldn't buy for themselves.  I called Collin's mom and asked for his bedroom color (blue) and I initially planned to make him a basic sign that said "Collin's Room."  But then I had an idea.  After an hour or two of meticulously altering a vectorized image then cutting the vinyl, choosing just the right blue for the board and painting, here's what I came up with:
If the reactions from my own resident lego fans are any indication of how it will be received by the birthday boy, I think we have a winner.  I hope he likes it.  :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sugar Free

I ate a piece of Savannah’s birthday cake last night.  Oh, it was so good!  Brownies with a cream cheesy mixture layered with chocolate pudding and cool whip on top.  Yum!  Eating birthday cake on a birthday may not seem like anything out of the ordinary, but the day before was the first time I’d eaten sugary treats in a month.   When the kids went back to school, I went off of sugar.  I love candy and cookies and dessert.  It’s hard for me to stop eating them once I start.  I’d tried going off sugar once before and made it less than 24 hours before I gave in.  I had a few reasons for my self-imposed sugar fast, the biggest being my desire to see if I had the willpower to follow through.  Turns out, I do. 

Here’s what I did:  I went off of obvious sugar - cookies, candy, cake, sugary cereal, hot chocolate, etc.  I didn’t go off of all sugar (I ate peanut butter), but I generally avoided things where sugar was listed as one of the first few ingredients.  To ease my cravings, I ate nuts, apples, and lots of watermelon. 

Here’s what I learned:
  • I have more willpower than I thought.
  • I can make a batch of cookies and not eat any of them or even sample the dough.
  • I can open a bag of m&m’s and divide them up for the kids’ lunches and not even eat one.
  • I can eat watermelon while the rest of the family is eating ice cream and be happy about it.
  • Avoiding sugar did not give me more energy or make me lose weight.
  • It was easier than I expected, though week three was the hardest.
  • I learned that I can avoid sugar, but that I don’t really want to.   I got tired of being the party pooper, always turning down dessert and never being able to taste or enjoy the things I love.  The kids would try to share their chocolate or other goodies and I always had to refuse. 
My epiphany:
I planned on keeping this up until my birthday in about three weeks, but then one day I had a realization.  I have enough willpower to give something up and follow through so why not pick something that will make a bigger impact on me and my family?   The sugar fast felt more like a chore by this point and I’d already decided I wasn’t going to continue once I reached my goal.  So I switched goals.  I’m doing well so far on my new “fast.”  I’ll elaborate more at another time, but I can already see that it’s making a difference!

*Click on the photo above which links to the recipe for Brownie Delight.  I've made a few minor changes to the recipe over the years (i.e., we usually put sprinkles or grated chocolate on top and skip the nuts.  I also use less milk when I make the pudding so it's not so thin,) but this is our preferred birthday "cake."  Always a hit!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

14 Years Ago

Dear Savannah,
     Fourteen years ago today, terrified, I walked into a hospital in Columbus, Ohio to give birth.  I'd gotten it into my head several months before that I was going to die during childbirth.  That is a long story for another day, but I was scared. I had my final meltdown the night before with instructions to your dad that if anything happened and there was a choice to save me or the baby, please save me.  Sam needed a mom.
     It was easy to make that decision then because I didn't know you.  I didn't know you would be a perfect baby girl, let alone grow up to be a beautiful and accomplished young woman.  I didn't know what a good friend you would be or how crazy and silly you would sometimes act.  I didn't know your little fingers would become so skilled at the piano or that your voice would sound like an angel.   I didn't know the friends that would pass through our door because they were drawn to your goodness or the boys you would talk about nonstop.  I didn't know that you would never be happy with age 13 and look forward for an entire year to your 14th birthday.  I didn't know that you'd come into my room at night and sit on the end of my bed and talk and laugh and refuse to leave even when your dad and I threatened to make-out if you didn't.  I didn't know that you'd be so grossed out when your dad and I hugged or kissed or otherwise acted like we like each other.  I didn't know that you'd work so hard to meet your goals or that you'd make such an impression on so many people.  I didn't know what a difference you would make in my life.
     I am so glad I didn't have to miss any of that.  I'm happy that I know you and that you are mine.  I can't imagine how different our lives would be without you.  I hope I never have to find out what that would be like.
     Happy Birthday, Savannah.  I hope 14 is your best year so far!

Love, Mom

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Let Me Serve You

Sterling is running for Student Council this week.  As a fourth grader, it's pretty low key.  He told me he needed a poster and a speech.  He wrote the entire speech himself and we worked together on the poster.  I'll post the text of the speech later if Sterling will let me, but here's the poster.  I like how it turned out.  Sterling is happy with it and that's the important thing!

9/15:  Here is Sterling's speech.  He will give it to his class tomorrow.  Good luck, Sterling!! 
Hey, everyone. As you can see, I want to be in Student Council. But, Student Council doesn’t mean “I am King.” It means “I stand out and serve others.” If I represent the class, I need to be responsible. I go out of my way to serve others. I am very kind, responsible, and just a good friend. There are lots of ways I can serve others: if someone drops their books, I could go over, put my books down, and help. If someone drops their colored pencils or crayons (which happens), I could—and would—help pick them up. And if someone’s just having an off day, I would go and comfort them. I think I would be good for Student Council because I serve others and am responsible. I hope you will go out of your way to serve others and vote for me. Thank you. 

9/20:  Sterling won the election.  He is one happy kid!  Way to go, Sterling!! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sun Streams

I know, the picture is grainy, but all I had was my iPod.  If you can forgive that, maybe you can get some idea of our view as we drove to the church on Sunday evening.  The sun rays were streaming through the clouds and the whole display was amazing!  Just humor me and picture this ten times more spectacular than what you see.  I'm sorry you missed the real thing!  ;)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

HR (Handsome Rob)

I'm sure there must be quite a collection of thoughtful blog posts today about 9/11 and the impact it has had on individuals, our country and the world over the past decade.  I can still remember where I was and what I was doing when that first tower fell.  But I had another thought that fateful day.  I thought of my brother, Rob.  No, Rob wasn't anywhere near New York on 9/11/2001.  In fact, he had recently graduated from high school and was celebrating his 18th birthday.  A pretty ominous entry into adulthood, wouldn't you say?  

And so, on this 10th anniversary of 9/11, along with the memories and tributes that have been paid, I wanted to wish a Happy Birthday to Rob (a.k.a., HR or Handsome Rob).  I will admit I am cheating just a little.  I originally wrote this blog post for a blog that I abandoned a couple of years ago, but why reinvent the wheel? I think you'll enjoy getting to know my "little" brother.  He's a pretty great guy... 

Rob is significantly younger than I.  In fact, Rob turned 5 right after I started my first year of college.  I recently came across this note that he sent me at school:

note from Rob
“Hi Missy How ya doin I miss ya Love Robby”
Awww.  Isn’t that so cute?  He must have forgiven me for the haircut I gave him only weeks before school started.  Mom was in the hospital having baby Jeffrey so I thought I’d help her out by cutting Rob’s hair.  I’d never given a haircut before, but how hard could it be with clippers?  Did you know that you are supposed to attach an extension on the clippers before you begin?  Did you know that your subject will be bald if you don’t?  Um, yeah.  Rob was bald.  But hey, that much longer before he needed another haircut, right?  Sadly, I have no photos of that event.  Fortunately, he’s had great hair ever since. As if great hair wasn’t enough, Rob is very stylish as is demonstrated in this never-before-seen photo:

Is that classy or what?  Even from a young age he has demonstrated an impeccable fashion sense.  Today you’re more likely to see him in a cardigan sweater or a frightening clever t-shirt.

Another great quality is that he loves loved cats.  We had a cat which was the runt of the litter and rather ugly and so we named him Yoda.  Rob loved Yoda!  And from the photo, it looks like feelings were mutual.  This is how they slept pretty much every night:

I’m wondering if Rob’s love for cats ended when Yoda ran away one year on his birthday.
Oh, and Rob is very talented/clever.  That can be aptly demonstrated by this amazing hat he created.  Again, his sense of style leaves me speechless.
Rob is the self-proclaimed “favorite uncle” to my kids.
uncle rob rob-and-sadie-1
It’s obvious they love him!
Rob is also an ultimate frisbee pro, killer bunnies champion, and amazing family historian.  It’s no wonder we put up with him love him as much as we do!

who me?

Happy Birthday, Rob. We love you and hope this is your best year so far!!

Friday, September 9, 2011


My dad was supposed to arrive at our house tonight.  He's been on his Midwestern trade show tour and we were planning on having him here for a quick weekend stay.  But when he found out about the Grandparents' Breakfast with Soren's class, he adjusted his schedule to arrive a day early.  That means he was there when Soren shared a poem and Grandpa was able to share some memories of his own.  They enjoyed juice and muffins together and Soren felt pretty important.   I stole Sadie out of her class so she could spend some extra time with Grandpa as well.  It was a great morning.  Grandpa rearranged his schedule to be here last year when Sterling's class hosted a Grandparents' Breakfast as well.  I'd say we're pretty lucky considering Grandpa lives over 1,700 miles away.  Thanks, dad, for taking extra time out of your busy travel schedule for us.  We love spending time with you!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dancing in Circles

This has long been a favorite song of mine.  Good lyrics, great message!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sadie and her Carrots

I know my blog posts have been somewhat sporadic lately.  The last weeks of summer break and the start of school took priority over documenting everything that makes me smile.  I think I'm back.  At least I have good intentions.  ;) 

I had to laugh yesterday when Sadie suddenly decided that she had to go out and pick every one of her carrots immediately.  She was worried about a gopher or a groundhog or something stealing them...?  I know, I'm confused, too.  So out she ran and came back in with this beautiful bouquet:

Then she stood on her little step at the kitchen sink and proceeded to wash and trim every last carrot.  She is one determined little girl and a hard worker.  And I know this has nothing to do with carrots, but I love her cute little chin.  :)  Can't imagine life without my little Sadie-bug!