Thursday, December 31, 2009


One reason it rocks to have five boys: in the winter I have a built-in shovelling crew! And in the summer, I won't have to mow the lawn for many years. Sweet!

And here they are posing:

Monday, December 28, 2009


You know, it's really interesting how it often takes losing something that you totally take for granted (like sleep) to make you really appreciate it. We lost electricity the other night for about four hours. Good thing we had good flashlights and a kerosene lantern.

I was starting to worry about what we were going to do with the contents of our refrigerator and freezer, we were wondering if we would have work and school the next day, and we bundled everyone up for the night with jackets and extra blankets (because even though we do have a very well-insulated home, we do live in Idaho, after all. I think our low was supposed to be in the single digits somewhere: a bit chilly). All of these things are things I don't even think about (cold food, work and school as usual, warmth at night), but had to when we don't have electricity.

Our boys thought it was a great adventure, but I'm so grateful for electricity! I was massively relieved when the lights/furnace/refrigerator/freezer came back on about 11:30 that night. Wow, are we blessed! Can you imagine living every day without electricity? Doing everything early morning or evening to night by candlelight? Yikes!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Ok, having a two-year-old kind of gets you used to having cuteness around. From dancing (our toddler was dancing to his teenage brother's music yesterday with much exuberance: so hilarious and cute!), to word pronounciations (he says both juice and shoes 'dooce'). I am so grateful for those everyday cute things.

But sometimes he does something that is so completely unexpected and over-the-top cute that I can hardly believe it. Last night we had one of those.

We own two nativity sets. One is a set that I got a couple of years ago and is a nicer one (although that didn't stop me from accidentally knocking one of the wisemen down off the mantel last year and breaking him in half...sigh. Oh well, better me than one of the kids). The other one is one that my husband got for a Christmas when he was young. So I happened to comment on the fact that it would be really nice if our little kids had a nativity set that they could play with (thinking of this awesome one that my sister made for another sister this year for Christmas). So my generous husband mentioned that we should get our old one out and let the kids play with it until it breaks.

So last night we set the older Nativity set up on a small side table in our living room. Our two-year-old was so enthralled with this set that he wouldn't even come eat dinner--he just wanted to play with all the people. I went in to check on him and here's what he was doing: he was kissing all the characters together. Mary kissing Joseph (which he pronounces 'Jovis'), the shepherd kissing Mary (which our boys thought was hilarious), the sheep kissing the cow, etc. This morning, though, when he went to play with the set, he started the kissing again, but this time Baby Jesus was kissing everyone. What a sweetie. And what a good reminder, especially at this time of year: Jesus loves us all.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


What do you call it when something happens that is just so amazing in timing or happenstance that you can hardly believe it? Is it just an accident, a coincidence? The stars aligning just right? People thinking alike, being in the same mode? Or is it something more? Could it be perhaps God smiling on us and helping us with little things just to let us know He's aware of us? Little reminders of His love?

Wow--some of the things that happen are pretty amazing, though. I had one happen to me two weeks ago. My youngest sister is attending the university in our town and asked us to attend her orchestra concert. My parents, brother (who happened to be in town) and I planned to attend (my family's church Christmas party was the same night, so my husband and I had to split up because we would have had all-out mutiny on our hands if we had made our younger children miss the visit from a Certain Jolly Someone).

However, my parents and I ended up ordering our tickets separately earlier that week, so even though we drove down to the concert hall together, we were resigned to the fact that we wouldn't be sitting together during the concert.

So while my dad and brother went to park the car, my mom and I went to the ticket office to pick up my parents' tickets, since I already had mine. When she got them, here's what we saw:

Yes, seats 1,2,3 and 4 in Section J. Out of probably 400 seats in the concert hall, we 'happened' to get four all together. So what do you think? Chance? A mere coincidence? Or God's hand in our lives? I know what I believe, but either way, I said a prayer of thanks in my heart as we walked in and enjoyed sitting together.

If you are interested in reading more about tender mercies, follow this link and read up. It's an awesome talk!

Friday, December 11, 2009


The principle of opposition operates in the fact that you can't really appreciate something until you've experienced the opposite, so being grateful for an uninteruppted night's sleep is a big one for anyone who has ever had a baby. Those first few months are so hard. How you can give around-the-clock care for a completely dependent and uncommunicative (with words anyway) infant, a being who you love more than you can imagine, but who also is so incredibly demanding, is amazing to me. And I've done it five times! I think we definitely have help from angels to get us through those completely sleep-deprived months.

So even though my youngest is two and I usually get a good night's rest (other than the occasional five to ten minutes to help a child with a leg ache or bad dream), a couple weeks ago I was up several nights in a row with barfy kids (is there any more disgusting smell than vomit (not to mention how disgusting-sounding that word is)? I'm a nurse and have smelled a lot of gross smells, but I still think that one still might be the worst).

And just three nights ago I was up scrubbing my bathroom floor at 3:00 A.M. Fun times. I'm sure you can guess why: a child who begged for more drinks before bed, which we unwisely, although not without warnings, gave. In fact, this child laughed at my husband's warning that he would be up 48 times to go to the bathroom. No, he just saved up all 48 times and it ended up all over the floor.

Anyhoo, going without a decent night's sleep really makes me appreciate all those nights that I actually get to sleep all the way through. Most the time, actually. What a blessing! I just can't function without good sleep. Sleep is one of those essentials that you don't really appreciate until you don't have it for a while (like food, water, air... :0)

And just for the record: no, I do not let my preschooler sleep though the night on the couch, but it's a funny sleep picture. This child has a history of falling asleep in funny places or positions: standing up leaning against his bed, behind the door, on the couch, and my personal favorite: under the laundry basket, among many others.

Yay for sleep!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


My two-year old is absolutely enthralled with his belly button. I think this is a phase pretty much all children this age go through and it is so funny! I love when I'm folding laundry in my room and he comes in to find me, sees the mirror, and goes right over to admire his belly.

Here are my five and two-year-olds checking out their navels.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Ok, I'll admit it: I'm a bread snob. I really am not a snob about many things, but this is one topic that I find myself quite particular about. I'm not talking about those fancy-schmancy breads that you find in your local bakery, although many of those are very good. I'm talking about the Ultimate, Quintessential, Best Bread Ever. Yes, Homemade Bread. It's my mother's fault I'm this picky :0). Let me explain.

While I was growing up, my mother made homemade bread. I think it was mostly because there were 8 kids in my family and we went through tons of bread, so there was a major financial incentive, since homemade bread, besides being infinitely tastier and healthier, is also way less expensive. Of course, being the typical I-want-what-I-don't-have kind of child, I loved the store-bought white bread (uggh! So nasty to me now, but I loved it then) and didn't appreciate the gold mine I had.

It wasn't until I was married and on my own that I really appreciated Homemade Bread. I was forced to buy the store-bought whole wheat bread which didn't compare in any way, and only then (after the fact, of course) did I realize what a great bread heritage my mother had given us. And it wasn't until I actually started making bread myself that I really realized the effort that she went to each week for us (now I really appreciate it, since when I make bread every week and a half, I'm making 12 loaves (three batches). We go through A LOT of bread. My boys can easily finish off a whole loaf in one sitting if I let them).

So during my first few years of marriage, I made bread in my Kitchenaid, but it seemed like a lot of work to go to for two loaves that we were getting through in just a few days. It wasn't until my husband's parents gave us a Bosch mixer one Christmas and a wheat grinder the next Christmas that I really came into my own on the bread-making scene.

Now my children beg for white bread (poetic justice, isn't it?), and I put in a few cups of white flour in my mostly whole wheat bread just to keep them happy. But we all love the absolute culinary joy that is Newborn Bread. That is, Freshly Baked Bread. Hot out the oven. In all of it's steamy, moist, delicious goodness. Just check out that gorgeous specimen of breadliness in the picture.

So, where did that name come from? My second son came into the house after school one day when he was about seven or eight, inhaled deeply through his nose, exhaled and said with closed eyes and a gratified smile, "Mmmmm...Newborn Bread!" So that is what we call it.

So I guess this post is about gratitude for homemade bread itself and for my mother, who instilled in me a love for it.

Here's the recipe I use (my mother-in-laws recipe--it's a bit easier and just as tasty as the one I grew up on)

Note: this recipe makes 4 loaves, which is great if you have a big mixer like a Bosch, but you will need to half it for your smaller mixer.
In your mixing bowl, combine:
5 1/3 c. hot water
2 T. salt
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. honey

5 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. powdered milk
2 T. yeast (Saf-instant is THE BEST yeast ever, in my opinion)
3-4 T. gluten

In a separate container, mix dry ingredients and add slowly to wet ingredients while mixing in your mixer. When incorporated, add another approximately 9 c. flour, until the dough is still very moist but doesn't stick to your finger. You can add all whole wheat flour, or some white. I add 2 c. white to appease my children, and my mother-in-law does half white and half wheat and hers turns out a bit lighter, but even if you use all whole wheat, it still turns out really good.

If your mixer can handle it, mix the dough for about 10 minutes (this helps work the gluten in and cuts one rise time out). Transfer into a large bowl and rise for about 30 minutes (if you didn't mix in your mixer, you will need to do this twice). Punch down, and separate into four equal pieces.

Shape your loaves (I learned a great trick from my MIL: roll each piece out into a long oval, flip it over and roll it tightly, pinching the ends if you need to, then put it seam side down in the pan. Rolling seems to create a better shaped loaf, I think because it adds structure.)

Rise in pans until about 1-2 inches above rim of the pans, then bake in 350 degree oven for 35 minutes (you may have to play with the temp and time, depending on how your oven cooks and what kind of pans you use).

Let cool just long enough so it doesn't burn your hand to hold them to slice. Enjoy your newborn bread! I like mine with butter and honey.

What about you? What's your favorite kind of bread and how do you like it? (I promise not to mock or look down on you if you really like store-bought white bread!)

Monday, December 7, 2009


This cute little turkey was made by my five-year-old.

Well, I haven't written in about two weeks. It's pretty ironic that my delinquency comes during the holiday that is directly centered on the value that this blog is all about. Something about having twenty-some-odd people staying at my house, cooking like a mad woman, plus all the basic keep-the-house-going type stuff. Oh, and my five and two-year-olds have decided that they don't like me being on the computer for any length of time. Fun.

Back to business. Our Thanksgiving day was wonderful and I hope all of you had a good one as well. I have a fabulous family who I spent the day with (many of whom are wonderful cooks, which definitely comes in handy on this day!). And we started the day with a great tradition in our town: every year on Thanksgiving morning, there is a Thanksgiving concert given by the community choir and other local individual or small group musicians. It was so awesome! This year I was able to sing in the choir with my husband, 14-year-old son (his first choral experience), and sister. Aside from the amazing choral music, we had an organ piece, a mother/son violin/bass duet, an oboe solo, and a sextet singing "New Day." The music was so beautiful and uplifting, the director and accompanyist (a husband and wife team, and family friends) were amazing, and the spirit of the day was wonderful. It was a great way to start the day.

So after the concert I had grand intentions to sit down and write a grateful post on the day, but between company, making rolls and pies, visiting my parents and wrangling kids, it never happened. So I will just do it today! After all, this blog is about gratitude: this is a good exercise for any day!

Here's what you do: set the timer for three minutes and write as many grateful things as you can think of. How many things can you name? Here's mine.
Today I am thankful for:
my husband
each of my five boys
a computer that works
when the timer works (note: the first two times I tried this exercise, the timer
didn't work and I had to start again)
our free country
our servicemen who fight & sacrifice for our freedom
a working washer and dryer
healthy children
my relatively good health
my Church
my Savior
The Book of Mormon
knowledge of a God who loves me
the beauties of the earth
a garage
clear roads
a warm home
my two-year-old's cute mispronounciations
that I can read
that I can write
that my children love to read
fun tv shows (food network)
dancing with my husband
watching my children & husband wrestle
not having to wrestle with them every time
tickling (in moderation)
quoting movies
fun Nintendo time with my family
Rock Band

34 things. How many can you do? It would be interesting to count how many if I didn't have to type them, if I was just naming verbally--I bet I could get twice that many.

I just did it and had one son time and one son count and I got 74. Try it--it's fun!