Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday Schedule

12:30AM Finally get to bed after dinner groups, kids baths, final lesson prep, etc
5:30AM Alarm goes off
6:30AM PJ and I leave for the Church
7:00AM Ward Council
9:00AM Church begins
12:00PM Church ends
12:30PM Kids and I go home & have lunch. DH goes out visiting members.
3:30PM DH gets home & has lunch.
6:00PM BYC - Bishopric Youth Committee
7:00PM Sunday Evening Discussion with the youth.
8:40PM I get home. Nobody's had dinner.
8:45PM We eat dinner.
9:20PM Finish dinner, get kids ready for bed.
10:00PM Kids actually in bed, asleep.
10:30PM PJ gets to sleep.
11:00PM Personal Scripture Study
11:59PM In bed (hopefully)

Sunday is a day of rest? Hmmm, I think DH & I spent a total of 3 hours together all day today! I was thinking again today about how people outside our faith might wonder why we do it. I mean, my calling right now is almost like having a full-time job. Without pay. But if we think about it, we don't receive worldly rewards for the things we do in the Church - money, new cars, a vacation - but what we DO receive is so much better! We are blessed as we do the work of the gospel. Some of the blessings are seen physically, some are felt emotionally, others manifest themselves in simple things (like PJ sleeping ALL night last night!), and still others we may not be able to recognize but they're there. The things we do for our families and in our callings are truly the most important things we can do on this earth. They help us become the people who can go back and be in the presence of a loving God. It's just a matter of keeping it all in perspective, especially on a long day like this!

On another note, as I attended the Sunday Evening Discussion tonight and observed the YW, the love I feel for them was so tangible to me! I felt the spirit testify to me of the caliber of these girls and the great things they will accomplish and that I have been entrusted with this stewardship at this time for a reason! Although I've seen the girls in passing, I've only started to get to know them in the last week and I am amazed at how much I already love them!

Anyway, I now have two counselors and a secretary and our first presidency meeting is this week. None of these women have really served in YW before so it will be kind of fun to help them understand the program and work on doing our best to serve the needs of our girls!

Coming Up: I'll post about last night's dinner groups and the Bubbs' first scripture/prayer given in Primary!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Free Recipe Friday - Baconwiches & Hot Apple Syrup

Thought I'd post a breakfast food (although we usually have the big breakfast foods for dinner... so it's kind of a dinner recipe anyway). This is a yummy take on French Toast. I think my mom got it from a 70s cookbook or something.

Baconwiches & Hot Apple Syrup
8 slices bacon
2 slightly beaten eggs
¾ cup milk
¼ teaspoon salt
8 slices bread
Hot Apple Syrup

In skillet cook bacon till crisp. Drain bacon; reserve drippings. Combine eggs, milk, and salt. Dip bread in mixture; fry in drippings till brown. Crumble bacon over toast, top with Hot Apple Syrup.

Hot Apple Syrup
In small skillet melt ½ cup apple jelly and 2 tablespoons butter with 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon; stir till smooth.

--I usually add some vanilla and cinnamon to the egg mixture. And I just mix the hot apple syrup in a glass measuring cup and melt it in the microwave. It is yum yum yummy!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Trip to Austin

So this is what we did on our trip to Austin...
  1. Stayed in a Hotel. Yes, I know that's kind of expected, but it was one of the kids' favorite parts. We've traveled enough (thanks to DH's plane/hotel points) and they LOVE staying in a hotel!
  2. DH worked. A lot. One of the reasons we went was because DH had to work there and that meant 90% of our stay was on his company. But it also meant he had to work a lot in the hotel room. Around 3 kids. That part was a little hard. (rare picture of him NOT working)
  3. We had good food, bad food, and too-expensive food. Just a heads-up: do not eat at Furr's. We thought it would be like Golden Corral (which DH loves). Not so much - we had to go eat fast food after! And Panera (pictured below) is okay, but not filling for how expensive it is! But one night we got Burger King with $.99 kids meals and my favorite was Olive Garden lunch. YUM!
  4. We went to Zilker Park. This is just the playground part. It's this huge massive park by the river and if it hadn't been a little rainy and 500% humidity, we would probably have taken a train ride, boat ride, gone swimming in their warm springs pool...
  5. We went to the Botanical Gardens. Pretty cool stuff, especially for a bunch of flowers...
  6. In the Oriental portion of the garden, we saw bamboo and huge Kai fish...
  7. and an awesome little waterfall...
  8. And I even got in a picture. Forgive how I look... 500% humidity, people.
  9. I took all 3 kids to the Austin Zoo by myself. And notice, we only have a double-stroller... But it was pretty fun. It's a small zoo and they are an animal sanctuary, so they take mostly animals rescued or that nobody wants. These lions actually were someone's "guard" animals at a ranch!
  10. With all these cool animals at the Zoo, my kids liked the pigs and the deer. I was a little bummed that they weren't more thrilled with the cougar, and the monkeys, but they just loved the pigs! And you could feed the deer, so I can see why that's cool.
  11. I of course, liked the Cougar, since football season starts on Aug 30. Go Cougars!
  12. We took the kids to the Children's Museum for a $1. Seriously. Every Wednesday night is "Community Night" and they actually just ask for $1 donation, so I guess it could have been free. The kids LOVED it and I loved that we weren't paying the outrageous $30 regular admission.


  13. We "went" to the Texas State Capitol. Okay, so we drove by it. The kids were bushed, DH was bushed, and PJ needed to eat, so we figured our first trip to Austin, we could just pass by it. I'm sure we'll go to Austin again, maybe when the kids actually will go to historical sites, museums, and the capitol!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - 1st Swim of the Season





(Actually happened on May 9 - slow to post...)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Calling Survey & Update


Thanks to CoolWhip, I am posting a fun survey about Church callings. Feel free to post yours if you'd like!


1) What was your favorite calling? It really is a toss-up - I have loved being an RS instructor, nursery leader, ward missionary/Gospel Principles teacher, and all my callings in YW.

2) what was your least favorite calling? Probably Cub Scouts. I loved the little guys, but I had such a hard time getting anywhere with them. Plus, they loved DH much more than me (it seemed like good cop/bad cop - and he let them ride his sk8board!)

3) What was the calling you struggled with the most? Again, a toss-up. I'm sure it could easily be this one (YW Pres), but have struggled with other callings as well. I think it's healthy to struggle to magnify your calling, no matter what. Then you grow.

4) What was your first calling? Well, as a youth, it was Beehive President. As a semi-adult, it was nursery leader (in Germany). As a college student, Welcoming Committee Chair. As a married adult, ward bulletin. How's that for an answer? :)

5) What calling are you serving in now? How long? YW Pres. 1.5 weeks. :)

6) What was the calling you had for the longest? How Long? Hmm... I seem to last approx a year in most of my callings.

7) What calling did you serve in the shortest? How Long? Ward missionary/Gospel Principles teacher - 2 months. (This is the one I was just released from)

8) What was a calling your spouse had that you liked the best? Why? Well, we've done several callings together, which has been fun (ward bulletin, CTR8 teachers, Cub Scout den leaders, ward missionary/gospel principles). But for his growth? Being in the Elder's Quorum presidency.

9) What was the calling your spouse had that was hardest for you? When we were both in different singles wards, he was in charge of Ward Prayer (affectionately referred to as ward stare, since often it was a flirting thing). There were many girls to distract him from me, so I was a teensy bit jealous.

10) What is the calling that you would like? Your dream calling? I would love to try Primary pianist. Or maybe *gulp* Gospel Doctrine teacher. It would be good for me. But I love YW & RS too.

11) What are the other callings you've had that you didn't mention yet? Newsletter committee (singles ward), Ward Music Chair, YW instructor (in Germany), YW Camp Director/Personal Progress, Laurel adviser, YW 2nd counselor, VT supervisor, VT coordinator, Enrichment Board/media specialist.


And on that note, here's a calling update. We aren't in Utah anymore, folks. I set out this evening with good intentions of meeting ALL the YW, dropping off a cute little treat for them and chatting a bit. Thanks to DH for watching all three kids, even PJ who doesn't take a bottle.

  • Time this would have taken in my UT neighborhood? all delivered, 1 hour tops
  • Girls I got to deliver/visit here? 4
  • How long it took me to visit 4 girls? 2 hours
  • Amount of time, just in driving? 1 hour, 20 minutes. One of the girls I went to is a 20+ drive there and a 20+ drive home. And that's not even the furthest one!
  • Girls left to visit? 18

I am realizing getting to see each girl is going to require a serious chunk of time. More than one day for sure. And it gives a whole new meaning to visit NIGHT! :) But I loved visiting with the girls I did see. They were sweet and welcoming and chatty :) I think this will work out.

Up ahead: Pictures from our Austin trip, 1st swim of the season, and more!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Humbly Overwhelmed - New Calling

So for those of you not of my faith, I wanted to preface this - but I wasn't exactly sure how to explain it. Then I remembered that my sis did a great job when she posted about her calling... so I am stealing the words from her:

"A calling is like a 'job' at church. All teachers and leaders in our local congregations are non-paid volunteers. We are asked to perform a certain job by the leader of our congregation. We have the option to accept or decline. If we accept, we are then presented to the entire congregation for a sustaining vote. No position is sought after or campaigned for, but most choose to accept, no matter how difficult the 'job' might be."

So a week ago I met with the Bishop of our ward (leader of our congregation) and he asked if I would accept a calling as the Young Women President of our ward. The Young Women (YW) organization is part of the youth group our Church has in place. It is basically for girls ages 12 to 18 to help them come unto Christ. I have worked with the YW before and loved it! They are energetic, fun-loving, stalwart girls who want to do what's right. So I am SO EXCITED to be involved with working with them again!

After I accepted the call, part of the process as a president is to prayerfully find others to serve in the presidency (all presidencies in our Church have a president, two counselors, and a secretary). Since I've only been in this ward for a few months, I know very few women and I was nervous about this part of the job. YW is a rewarding, yet time-consuming calling - and I wanted to be sure that those in the presidency would be willing to put forth the time and be right for the job. I will tell you, I spent a lot of time looking over lists of the members of our ward and a lot of time pondering, and a lot of time on my knees in prayer. We were actually in Austin for the week (I'll post on that later) because DH was there with his job. It was nice to focus on my family and on pondering this because I wasn't at home with the normal pulls on my time.

Well, to make a long story a little shorter, I struggled to find the right people. I was very worried that I wouldn't pick the right ones or that people would be upset at the names I chose. I did my fair share of stressing. But as I continued to pray and to listen, I was able to put together the names I felt needed to be in the YW Presidency at this time. I was able to feel at peace and to give those names to the Bishop for him to get a confirmation that they were right. It was such a blessing and I know I was guided by a higher power and that the spirit was with me!

Today I was sustained, along with my 1st counselor. I am still waiting on the rest of the presidency, and we might have to make some changes on that, but we are officially "on the job"! I am so grateful to an amazing YW President just released, because she is helpful and gracious and just a fabulous person. She has already given me a lot to go on. It will be a hard transition for many of the young women because they love her so much, but I hope they will be open in getting to know the new leaders as well. Today one of the girls in her prayer thanked Heavenly Father for me as well as for the previous president, which I thought was so sweet!

I'm sure I will be posting more about this in the future, but I do want to say that it has been a humbling experience already. I KNOW this comes from Heavenly Father, that somehow He knows I can do this, but I also know that it will only be through complete reliance on Him. I am so impressed with the strength of the young women. They are truly tested, and they do so well! I hope that I can help them know of their worth, of my love for them, and of their eternal potential! Those of you who know me, know that there's a good chance I'll mess this up. :) So I promise I will be relying on what He wants!


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Hey Hey Hey... Goodbye...

The Jazz lost. End of series. End of playoff run. End of happy DH - just kidding, he'll be better tomorrow. We had some bad calls. Really. And we were sloppy. But I am still bummed. Let's all take a moment of silence...

Friday, May 09, 2008

Free Recipe Friday - Orange Chicken

We LOVE Panda Express, especially the Orange Chicken. I found a copycat recipe on recipezaar.com and have adapted it. It is a staple for us now and DH says he likes it better than Panda! (Plus it's cheaper.)

Ingredients
Breading
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
oil (for frying)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup flour
Cook with Chicken
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot red chili pepper, optional
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1/4 cup water
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
Orange Sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 - 1/2 cup orange juice without pulp (we use Simply Orange - yum!)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon orange zest

(all measurements are approximate...I just play with it until it tastes good!)
  1. Mix the egg, salt, pepper, and about a tablespoon of oil in a bowl
  2. Add chicken pieces to the bowl and mix until coated.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix cornstarch and flour. Then add to chicken pieces, stirring until all pieces are coated.
  4. Heat oil for frying in wok or skillet.
  5. Add chicken pieces and stir-fry (you can do small batches at a time and they cook more evenly, but I'm too impatient and I put them all in)
  6. After chicken is mostly done, add garlic, ground ginger, crushed hot red chili pepper, and onion. (You can take the chicken out, clean the wok, then heat more oil and cook it that way. I've done it both ways and don't taste a difference. Plus, I'm lazy)
  7. While mixture is simmering, mix together the orange sauce ingredients. I don't always use orange zest and it still tastes good. If you give it a taste, it should taste soy saucy with a mild orange flavor. This is because when you cook the sauce, some of the soy sauce cooks out and leaves the orange flavor more pungent.
  8. Add orange sauce to chicken and bring mixture to a boil, stirring often.
  9. Mix together water and cornstarch until cornstarch is dissolved. Add this to the pot and simmer until sauce has thickened. (Don't let it simmer too long or the chicken will get a little too soft)
  10. Enjoy!
I am salivating writing this and we just had it last night! :) I usually serve it with white rice and stir-fry veggies. Sometimes I just cut the chicken into pieces and stir-fry it without the breading - easier and more healthy. But it tastes more like Panda Express if you bread it. I thought about taking a picture last night to post, but DH started eating before I got the chance! :)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Better Mom or Worse Mom?

I'm trying to decide if I'm becoming a better mom or a worse mom.


Child #1: Once I figured out the whole family bed I-can-feed-her-and-still-sleep thing, she slept with us every night. During the day, unless we were in the car or somebody else was holding her, I held her while she slept. At night, she turned in when we turned in and shared our bed. By the time seven months rolled around, I was ready and DH was ready to have our bed back. She cried it out, and has been sleeping almost perfectly by herself since.


Child #2: Decided I didn't want to sleep all the time with him. Attempted getting him to sleep in his bassinet, but almost always brought him to bed with me right when I went to bed. He spent a lot of time sleeping in the swing and in his carseat. He also took a bottle and I gave him one. A lot. Let him cry it out around six months. Overall, still sleeps great (naps a bit of a challenge...)


Child #3: During the big move, found out she loved sleeping in the car seat with it covered, with the bathroom vent fan running. Used mostly that method (+ coming to bed with us halfway through the night) until we moved into our house. Now she sleeps 90% of the time in her bassinet. When she wakes up in the night, I usually bring her to bed with us. Just turned five months and is sleeping longer on her own much earlier than the other kids.

So... does it make me a better mom to PJ because she is sleeping in her bassinet?  Or am I becoming a worse mom because I don't hold her all the time and just snuggle her?  Was I a better mom to the Simster because I got him to take a bottle?  Or a worse mom because I stopped nursing him around 7 months?  Was I the best with the Bubbs because I held her a ton or worst with her because she didn't sleep on her own for a long time?  Is it partially the personality of the kids that affects how they sleep (nature) or just my mothering (nurture)?  Just a conundrum I was thinking about.  I actually feel pretty good about all three of my kids and their sleeping (except when they're supposed to be taking a nap and they're doing this instead), but I do feel that conflicted-ness of giving all your kids the same amount of attention, love, boundaries, etc.

In other news, PJ laughed (a little one) for the first time yesterday!  And last night before I went to bed, I heard a light switch turn on, the pitter-patter of little feet, another light come on, and then, after a little bit, the sound of a flush.  Then the sink water running, the light turns off, pitter-patter, the other light off, and the creak of the bed.  I was such a proud mama!  The Bubbs is getting so old - she's going to the potty in the night without any assistance from me!  I can't believe it.  Before I know it, she'll be driving.  And probably hitting a parked car.  :)  It's so fun to watch my kids grow!

Anyway, this is now long.  And it's late.  So on that note, good night folks. :)  Hope you're having a good one!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Uphill Battle & Book Review

So I'm reading again. Which is a good thing and a bad thing. I LOVE reading, but I try hard not to read much, because once I start a book, I can't put it down. Unless it's utterly boring. Like The Orangutan's Guide to Plumbing or something. Which actually could be quite interesting. But I digress, as usual. So now that I've been reading - several books at once actually - I am fighting an uphill battle with everything else. I usually feel like I'm fighting an uphill battle anyway... somehow one of my kids always needs something, and I still have house responsibilities, some work responsibilities, church responsibilities, etc. And one of my kids seems to always be awake! (PJ's awake as we speak..er..as I type) Then I spend the day reading and POOF! Even more of an uphill battle. Any suggestions on keeping that balance?


So, one of the books in question is The Da Vinci Code. I decided to see what all the fuss was about. I know that there has been a lot of controversy about the book & the movie based on the book. Well, once I started reading, I really couldn't put it down. It was extremely intriguing with plenty of twists and turns. And I wasn't as turned off by the basis of it as much as I thought I would be. It's an adult book for sure (a few mature themes), but I liked the characters and the constant riddles and codes. To me, no matter what the factual basis, it was obviously a fictional story. It gave me some things to think about, but mostly, just a fun read. I'm sorta surprised so many people seemed to view it so... well, realistically. In fact, I was almost a bit let down by the ending. I was looking for something a little more spectacular. I won't give it away for anyone who hasn't read it, but I'm curious... Have you read this? What did you think?

And now I'm off to read another chapter of Persuasion. And to remember it's 11pm and I'm getting up early to mow the lawn. Wish me luck on the whole going to bed thing. :)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Free Recipe Friday - Taco Salad

Thanks to an idea from CoolWhip, I am going to try and post a recipe each Friday. And for my first installment, I am posting my Taco Salad recipe. Since it's almost summer time when salads are a must, I thought I would post one of my favorites. I often get asked to bring this to potlucks and it usually ends up gone because it's yummy. Mostly because of the chips. Salad + chips = delish!

1 pound lean ground beef
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1 head iceberg lettuce - rinsed, dried, and shredded
1 orange or red bell pepper, chopped
3 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese blend
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 small can sliced olives, drained
1 small avacado
4 ounces crushed tortilla chips (Nacho Cheese or Spicy Nacho Doritos)
1/4 cup Catalina dressing (I sometimes make my own using ketchup, vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, etc... but lately I just use the bottled stuff "lite")
1 can chili beans, undrained


Basically, cook the meat and add the seasoning according to package instructions. Wait for the meat to cool. Mix the other ingredients, adding the dressing and chili beans last. Serve. If you want to make ahead and refrigerate, mix together the meat, beans, and dressing in one container and the other ingredients (except cheese and chips) in another. Then when you're ready to serve, mix all together and add cheese and chips. I sometimes mix everything together but the lettuce and chips. Then I put lettuce, the salad mix, and then chips on top. This means that if you refrigerate the leftovers, you won't have soggy lettuce or soggy chips! Enjoy!