Thursday, March 31, 2011

Everything I Learned, I Learned in Kindergarten...and Then Re-learned as a Mom!

Medical Breakthroughs:  Okay, I have to admit I never did learn these profound truths in kindergarten, however, since they have been revealed during my Mom-hood,  I decided to post them in today's category.  In fact, with the exception of the gum revelation, I gained all of this "knowledge" just yesterday.  I guess it does pay to talk to your kids! 

My seven-year-old, Justin, was eager to share this most fascinating news which he learned about at school. 

Apparently, one of his friend's dads had something way back in his eye.  "They made him poke his eye out."   Then they put in a fake eye that is "just a little bit bigger than a real eye."  It seems the only difference between the fake eye and a real one is the fake eye is not wet because "they forgot to put the ink on it."

"Luckily, there's enough electricity left that he can see with the fake eye on that side." 

I also learned from Jentry, my four-year-old, that the only reason she is washing her hands is so that she doesn't get earthworms in her stomach. (A very good idea, in my opinion.)

My ten-year-old, Shaylie reported that her friend at school has to get an "MRD" on her knee because they can't figure out what's wrong with it.  (I don't know if they ever will with an MRD.)

The old belief that you shouldn't swallow your gum because it takes seven years to digest has been proven false by my one-year-old.  The evidence is in her diaper.  (That fluorescent green gum really stands out.)

Now that I have published these discoveries, I may not have time to write in this blog.  The AMA (American Medical Association) may have me writing for their journals.  I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tip of the Day: The Power of a Hug

As a mother of six, ages one to twelve, I have had my share of worries over whether I am raising my kids right.  Are they truly happy?  Do Richard and I spend enough individual time with each one?  What do I need to do to discipline them?  Do I expect too much of them?  How do we teach them to be more respectful to each other?  How do we instill in them the importance of family?

I could add pages and pages of questions to this list of doubts and concerns.  One reassuring constant thing is that I have a supportive husband who shares in the regrets and doubt with me.  Together, we have learned that we can come up with an answer to any question by discussions and prayer.  Knowing that a Heavenly Father loves our children as much a we do reassures us that the answers we receive from Him will only benefit our family and particularly the child we may be concerned about.

At times, Richard and I are at a loss as to what a child needs.  All we know is that something is out of balance; we're not working together, we seem to be clashing, etc.  Every time we get in this situation, we have found that if we make a greater effort to show unconditional love to that particular child, within a couple of days, the problem resolves itself.  Going to a small amount of effort to give more smiles, more encouragement, and more praise makes all the difference in the world.  And the cherry on top is that you can do all of this with a hug.

 It always amazes me the power of something so seemingly small as a hug can accomplish something so great: a happy, well-adjusted, peaceful family that works, plays, and enjoys being together.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Down on the Farm: Rattlesnake Crossing

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
I can't sssay we weren't warned.  When we moved here to Birdseye, the neighbors informed us of the rattlesnakes, especially on our ssside of the road.   I had been around a few before.  My Dad probably killed one a year when I was growing up. He would "rock" them to sssleep; a very effective, (and permanent,)method.

 This was our first year in our new place and Richard had already killed three or four of the little beasts.  I mentioned to him that I was a terrible shot with a rock, which is what he usually used.  He told me to use a shovel.  If  I were to kill a sssnake with either of those things, I would have to be within the sssnake's ssstriking distance in order to get my aim good enough, and even then, I think I would miss. 

That's when he showed up with my official sssnake-killing rake.  It was at least a foot longer than a normal rake.  It had a blade on one ssside and the teeth on the other.  This was the perfect tool for me.  I could be far enough away, in case the sssnake did ssstrike, and the blade was long enough, even when my aim was bad, I could surely hit sssome part of the animal.  Besides, like I would really have to use it! (Famous last wordsss!)

 Well, there I was, minding my own business, moving the sssprinkler around on our newly planted lawn.  I walked around the corner of the house when I saw it: a rattlesnake.  He was curled up, enjoying the cool mist under the sssprinkler.   This was not just sssome little earthworm.  This was a daddy sssnake!  I couldn't count the rattles, yet, but he had at least a two to three inch circumference of his body.  I also couldn't tell how long he was because he was in a heap.  But, he looked plenty big.

The kids were playing in the back yard and I didn't want them to ssstumble across this venomous creature.  I told them to ssstay put while I bravely went and got my long rake.

I'd ssseen this done plenty of times.  I should hit the sssnake right behind its head, thus removing the dangerous part.  As I walked quietly up to the sssleeping sssnake, it heard me and ssstarted to ssslowly ssslither towards the house. As it uncoiled, it turned out to be about three feet long.  I was afraid it would disappear and knew I must act now.  I  lifted my big ol' rake, and ssslammed it down.  Okay, ssso my aim was a little off, but I hit the sssnake, which I was pretty proud of.  Instead of fighting back, the sssnake took off.  It was going fast!  I again lifted my rake and hit.  This time, I hit where I was aiming.  Although it ssslowed the sssnake down, he was ssstill heading for cover.  It took two more hits before the sssnake even tried to ssstrike my rake.  By this time, I had basically ssstopped him, and then I finished the job.

I had had enough of sssnakes for one day and left the thing laying there for Richard to take care of when he got home from work.  We had been keeping a collection of the rattles and I knew I wasn't man enough to chop those off. 

I wanted to shout from the rooftops my grand accomplishment.  I couldn't believe that I had killed a sssnake all by myself!!  The kids weren't all that impressed.  Dad had killed plenty.  It was just part of being a parent.  As my adrenalin rush sssubsided, I ssstarted to feel lucky to be alive and went in the house to wind down. 

That sssummer, we killed twelve sssnakes around our house and barn.  I personally killed four of them. 
By the fourth one, I was a regular Crocodile Dundee, although I have to admit, I never have got to the point of cutting off the rattles.

I am woman, here me ROAR, or should I sssay HISS!?!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Above and Beyond: The Influence of a Teacher

Dan Rather once said of teachers, "The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth.' "

I'm sure if you think back to your most influential teachers, you will remember those who inspired; those who not only taught you the facts from a textbook, but those who taught you to think on your own; those who believed in you and led you to the next plateau.  Out of the 17 years I was in school, there is a handful of teachers that I truly remember.  Those teachers are the ones who taught me to use what they taught, who were more concerned that I could apply their lessons to life, instead of just passing the next test.

At the risk of forgetting some, I am going to publicly thank some of those teachers:  Mrs. Sagers, Central Elementary, Ms. Berry, Central Elementary, Ms. Klein, Central Elementary, Tooele; Mr. Sena, Central Elementary, Tooele; Mr. Call, math, Tooele High School; Ms. Parrot, chemistry, Tooele High School; Mr. Johnson, English, Tooele High School; Miss Mestas, newspaper, Tooele High School; Mr. Silcox, social studies, Tooele High School; Ms.Marni Asplund, English, BYU; Dr. Orme, Animal Science, BYU; Dr. Silcox, Animal Science, BYU; Mr. Brian Boden, Animal Judging, BYU; Dr. Roeder, Animal Anatomy and Physiology;  Dr. Gary Gowans, Veterinary Medicine, Tooele; Sister Irene Smith, Rush Valley; Mom and Dad, life, Rush Valley.

There are others, I'm sure, that have touched my life and shaped who I have become; those who have taught me the importance of learning without me even noticing.  Thank you so much for your contribution in my life.

Now that I'm a parent, those great teachers are as important, or more, to me as my own were.  I have watched in excitement and awe as my children, one by one, have learned not only to read, but to love reading. 

Miss Kim Mellor, an amazing kindergarten teacher from Spanish Oaks Elementary, has started that journey for each one of my children.  Thank you so much.  Your patience and time with each student does not go unnoticed.  I am eternally grateful for your teachings.  My kids can succeed in every subject because you taught them to read and gave them a good foundation to start with.

I also need to thank all of their teachers at Spanish Oaks Elementary for continuing to help my little ones grow:  Mrs. Broderick, Mrs. Ward, Mrs. Peterson, Mrs. Sanders, Mrs. Loftin, Mr. Crockett, Mrs. Pardew, Miss Wells, Miss Doll, Miss Hughes, Miss Davies, and Miss Olsen.  Thank you so much for making my child and their learning important to you, for going "above and beyond" to prepare my children to make their mark in life.

If you can read this, thank a teacher.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Crowning Moments! A Story of Survival and Attitude

It was December 28, a day Matt Lucia, (Richard's first cousin,) will never forget. A horrible helicopter crash and temperatures below freezing, nobody would have believed he could have survived the night, but he did.  Here is his true life story about attitude and survival.

Matt worked for the fish and game department in Idaho.  He and his team were doing a study on the concentration of mountain lions in a remote area four hours back up in the mountains near Boise, Idaho.  The team consisted of the helicopter pilot, the biologist co-pilot, and Matt.  The three of them had found a mountain lion trail that they were following, trying to track the animal.  Matt was sitting in the back seat of the helicopter taking notes and writing down data.

All was going well until the  helicopter abruptly stopped, as if it had hit a glass wall.  Although none of them saw it, a snag, a tall tree, a remnant left over from a fire from ten years before, was sticking above the tree line.  As the helicopter rounded the mountainside, the snag was in a blind spot.  The helicopter hit the tree on the co-pilot's side, killing him on impact.  All of a sudden, they were plummeting downward.  Matt saw the pilot look back at him and then reach down.  It was as if time slowed, and then the crash. 

As he fell, Matt doesn't remember hearing the aircraft's engine. He is convinced that the last act by the pilot of reaching down and turning off the engine helped save his life.

Initially, Matt felt no pain.  The impact of hitting the ground broke his seat belt and threw him against the top side of the helicopter.  The pilot had obviously died during the crash. 

As Matt tumbled out of the mangled shell, he realized he couldn't stand.  He could just reach a survival kit inside the craft and gathered the supplies he could.  He attempted to get back in the helicopter to spend the night but was unable to work his legs to accomplish this.  In his reach, he accessed an orange tarp that he spread as best he could over the snow and laid on. He had eight flares, a mirror for signaling, and a few other things.  His clothing was inadequate, at best, for the freezing temperatures.  Because he could hardly move, he couldn't go find shelter.  His only hope was to wait out the night and signal eventual rescuers to his whereabouts.  Because of the location of the crash site, he was concerned it would be quite some time before they found him.

By now, the pain had started, caused by unknown internal injuries.  Because of his lack of warm clothing, his whole body would go into spasms.  He remembers hearing his screams of pain echoing up the canyon.  At this point, he knew it would be easier to give up.  Because of his training, he knew his chances of survival were slim.  It was just too cold, he had no shelter, little clothing, and possible life-threatening internal damage.

This was the turning point in his story of survival.  He thought first of his mother.  He knew she would wonder if he had suffered before he died.  He thought of his friends and family and the happy experiences he had growing up.  He then remembered a story a mission companion had shared of a man in Russia. 

The man had got locked in a refrigerated box car.  He had access to pen and paper.  When they found him, his dying thoughts were alongside him.  "It's starting to get cold.  I know that there's a limited amount of air."  A few hours later, he wrote, "It's getting colder.  I can tell it's getting harder to breath."  The last thing he wrote was, "It's so cold.  I am having a hard time breathing."

When the man was found, rescuers noted that the boxcar was ventilated and the refrigeration was turned off.  The temperatures never got below 50 degrees and there was plenty of air.  They couldn't figure out what caused his death, except his own despairing attitude.  He gave up living.

This put the determination to survive back in Matt.  He knew he had to fight if he was going to live.

Even though he couldn't control much, he had his attitude and his Heavenly Father.  I'm sure he prayed as never before.  He knew he wasn't alone.  It was that knowledge that carried him through until, 18 hours later, he heard rescue helicopters searching for him.  Using his flares, he hoped to signal them.  Because of the position of the sun and the location of the crash site, rescuers were unable to see them.  Matt knew he'd have to do something different.  After much effort, he got the orange tarp he was on and, when he heard another helicopter coming, he began waving it with all his might. 

Thankfully, the helicopter circled and signaled Matt to let him know they saw him, the ultimate in "crowning moments".  The only place to land was quite a ways from where the crash had occurred.  But the rescue efforts began.

Matt ended up having frostbite on fingers and toes, broken ribs, he broke a few vertebrae, the muscles all along his pelvis, where the seat belt had been, were torn, (the reason he couldn't walk,) a punctured lung, among other injuries.

His complete recovery was long in coming.  Not only did he suffer physical trauma, but mental, as well.  His story is inspirational.and his strength and determination incredible.  We love you, Matt, and are thankful for the blessing we have in your story to live and your testimony that we're never alone.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Everything I Learned, I Learned in Kindergarten...and Then Re-learned as a Mom!

Gardening 101:  Two weeks ago, my four-year-old, Jentry, came home from primary with a plastic cup.  Inside the cup was beautiful soil.  Jentry informed the whole family that under all that dirt was a flower.

As we walked from the car to the house, she very carefully walked with one foot in front of the other so as not to disturb her "flower."

I was instructed to put the cup in the kitchen window and put a "teeny bit of water in it everyday for two years".  After "a long time," the flower would come out of the dirt.

Two days ago, to my excitement, the "flower" popped out.  I called Jentry in and she searched the small cup until she found the tiny seedling.  When she saw it, her eyes lit up. How exciting to witness the little miracles of spring.

This excitement took me back to every spring.  After all of the work of preparing the garden spot and painstakingly placing each seed, the careful watering and weeding, you receive your payoff.  That magical moment, after hopefully searching the dirt for any sign of life, you find it: that tiny uniform row of red leafs from your beets, or mini green starts from your radishes. 

Yes, I saw that look in Jentry's eyes!  She's hooked.  It always hits about this age, the understanding of reaping what you sow; an understanding that you learn now, and re-learn every spring.

Once again, the kids and I, (Jentry, too) will plant those tiny seeds, and once again, we'll be out there every day, watching with faith, for out first sign of garden life, the miracle of spring.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tip of the Day: More Mixes!

My Tip of the Day comes from Megan Swapp, a good friend, faithful reader, and mother of nine!  Her comments are always so encouraging and complimentary.  She is an amazing person.  Thank you Megan, for sending these my way.

Megan shares with us today a dry "cream of everything" soup mix and a basic cookie recipe.  I have learned that the easiest way to save money is cent by cent, . These recipes are eventually going to save me a lot of money.

 I am especially excited about this cream soup mix.  I can't count how many meals I fix that use cream of chicken, mushroom, or celery soup!

Cream Soup Mix:

2 cups dry milk powder
10 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup mashed potato flakes
1/4 cup chicken bouillon granules
2 Tbsp dried vegetable flakes
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp white pepper
Mix in a food processor or blender until vegetable flakes are finely chopped. Store in an airtight container for up to a year.

To make the equivalent of 1 can of soup, mix 6 Tbsp soup mix with 1 1/3 cups water together and microwave for 2-2 1/2 minutes.
(Fresh or canned mushrooms, canned chicken and fresh celery or celery salt can be added if desired)

Basic Cookie Recipe:

4 cups white flour
4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups dry milk powder
1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
Mix all ingredient together and store in a tightly covered container.

When you are ready to make cookies, just mix these items together for a basic sugar cookie dough.
2 cups of mix
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

I'm excited to use these and welcome my readers to share any other dry mixes you have.  Thanks!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Down on the Farm: The Making of a Little Lady

Brooklyn, our latest lady-in-training.

"Close your mouth when you chew."

"Say, 'Please'."

"Use your fork."

"Leave your hair alone."

"Put your dress down."

"Don't stuff your mouth so full."

"Remember to say, 'Thank You'."

The rules for growing up and becoming little ladies and gentleman are endless.  At times, I wonder if my constant effort at teaching will ever sink in. But, perserverance is the name of the game.  At small moments in time, the fruits of my labors manifest themselves and the "Hallelujah" chorus sings in my head.

Well, last week, I had to add a new admonition.  (This may not be for the weak of stomach.  Sorry if it offends. :)

Down on the farm,  when your hands are dirty, you're moving around bales of hay, and various other jobs that keep your hands busy, spitting is a common practice.  I, however, have never mastered that art.  And, I do mean art.  It is trickier than you would think.

If you have seen Mulan, there is a place in that movie where she is trying to prove that she is a guy, and she spits.  That is exactly how my attempts turn out.

Richard, my husband, is a pro.  It's quick and clean; an inspiration, even though, I have long since given up on the practice. 

Apparently, while he had Brooklyn, my 1-year-old, down at the barn with him, he spit.  He told me she started trying to do the same, just copying what she had seen.  She would stick out her tongue and blow, make her little mouth into an "o" and blow, lean over the ground and make a blowing sound; it was all pretty funny to watch, apparently.

Well, it wasn't as funny when, two days later, she leaned over our vent in the kitchen and, like a true farmer, spit, quick and clean.  Needless to say, it left me slightly speechless.  I did, however, have a number of thoughts run through my mind.  My first thought was, "Wow, what a talented little girl I have."  My second thought was, "How did she learn to do that?  I've been trying since I was ten!"  My third thought was, "Great!  Now I have to clean out that vent, again."  And my final thought was, "Thanks Richard, my little lady just hucked a lougie into our vent!"

Obviously, my work is cut out for me!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Above and Beyond: "Fight Like a Grandma"

Yesterday I had a Childs family reunion.  It was great to see so many family members that we haven't seen in ages.  Matt Lucia, a cousin, gave us a fireside talk on the helicopter crash wherein he was the only survivor.  He was an inspirational  speaker and it touched all of us.  It was definitely a topic to write about in my Crowning Moments! topic coming up on Friday, so tune in.

When we walked into the building yesterday, what stood out and grabbed us was a cute lady sitting in a separate chair away from the group, but surrounded by people. The pink  bracelets on everyone shouted out their message:"FIGHT LIKE A GRANDMA -  KRISTINE OSBORN".  Kristine was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery last week.  She is awaiting test results to tell her what her next step is.  The quiet strength exuding from her was incredible.

 Not only has she been diagnosed with cancer, she has been fighting lupus and multiple sclerosis for some time now.

If you have lupus, your immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues by mistake. This can damage your joints, skin, blood vessels and organs. There are many kinds of lupus. The most common type, systemic lupus erythematosus, affects many parts of the body.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a nervous system disease that affects your brain and spinal cord. It damages the myelin sheath, the material that surrounds and protects your nerve cells. This damage slows down or blocks messages between your brain and your body, leading to the symptoms of MS. They can include
  • Visual disturbances
  • Muscle weakness
  • Trouble with coordination and balance
  • Sensations such as numbness, prickling, or "pins and needles"
  • Thinking and memory problems
No one knows what causes MS. It may be an autoimmune disease, which happens when your body attacks itself. Multiple sclerosis affects women more than men. It often begins between the ages of 20 and 40. Usually, the disease is mild, but some people lose the ability to write, speak or walk. There is no cure for MS, but medicines may slow it down and help control symptoms. Physical and occupational therapy may also help.
NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

If attitude is everything, Kris has this beat!  As she goes "above and beyond" in her fight against these terrible diseases, she shows us all what true strength is.  Our prayers and thoughts are with her and her family.

We love you Kris and know that you can beat this!  "FIGHT LIKE A GRANDMA"!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Crowning Moments!

Shaylie, Sara, and Katelyn at their dance competition.  This fabulous team won 1st place in both their dances at last Saturday's competition in Richfield.  Way to go, girls!  Thanks Sara for making an incredible team.

As the sounds of Africa echo from the speakers, the crowd goes silent.  And then, the beat starts.  The dancers that I know so well are at it again, this time with costumes and smiles, stealing the show.  I watch, as if in a trance, at the movement, so well choreographed and executed. 

My little dancers, Shaylie and Katelyn, (Jentry doesn't compete, yet), walked out on stage so confident and I glowed with pride as they nailed not one, but two dances with their Dance Central team.  I love dance and to watch my own girls enjoy it so much is exciting. 

They have put a lot of work into learning their dances at the studio and at home.  A day doesn't go by that I'm not hearing the wild beat of the Waka Waka or the lyrical melody of Alice, (in Wonderland).  My girl's motivation to shine is impressive as they stretch out and practice moves that would keep me paying for a physical therapist for the rest of my life if I were to try them. 

I think it's so awesome when hard work is rewarded.  Dance Central really deserved their recognition.  My girl's excitement at hearing that they had won a first place in both their dances was a celebration for our whole family.  Way to go, girls! 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Everything I Learned, I Learned in Kindergarten...and Then Re-learned as a Mom!

Cooking 101:  When Weston was five, he wrote the following recipe:

Sugar (a little)
Pie in it - "homemade"
Lots of flour
Stir up.
Put in oven and bake 3 minutes at 6 degrees.
Frost them and sprinkle with sugar.
These are my favorite homemade cookies!

Shaylie, age four, wrote this:

Cherries and Strawberries
5 cups of cherries
5 cups of strawberries
1 handful of sugar plus 5 cups
5 glasses of milk
5 squares of butter
1 glass of milk
eggs and cookies
Fry until done at 5%.  Eat hot!

Does this remind you of yesterday's blog?  I guess writing recipes runs in the family.

One of my favorite snacks when I was little was invented while me and my brother and sister were playing restaurant.  We melted some butter in a bowl, added peanuts and pickles and stirred it up.  This was a big hit amongst the three of us for years to come.

This knack for making up our own recipes comes honestly.  My Dad, in a moment of what he called genius, (but all of us who suffered through dinner that day called insanity) made up a legendary concoction that the dogs wouldn't even touch and is still talked about today.  Mom was gone for the night which put Dad in charge of dinner.  I don't know if he was trying to clean out the refrigerator or what.  Two of the many ingredients that I do remember were cut-up hot dogs scrambled with eggs.  We all had to try some, but when Dad had a hard time choking it down, we all ended up getting a sandwich to eat instead. 

Just when we thought the nightmare was over, out came dessert.  Dad loved bananas and was convinced that anything with that particular fruit in it was delectable.  I remember bananas and marshmallows but can't remember the rest.  Sometimes, I think our mind protects us by forgetting!

Lucky for our family, Mom did most of the cooking.

As I've become the Mom and do most of the cooking in our family, I, like my Dad, enjoy experimenting.  I don't however put peanuts and pickles together anymore, and I don't go to the extremes like Dad.  I just like to tweak things a little to make them more kid-friendly, budget-friendly, or substitute for ingredients I may not have.  I am happy to report that most of these experiments are successful, (this analysis made by the fact that the kids and the dogs eat them.)

So to encourage my upcoming little cooks, I feel obligated to taste their new ideas.   Some of the more memorable (not necessarily good, but memorable,) concoctions include ham and jam sandwiches, together; pizza topped with cheese, no sauce, or anything else; cookie mixtures of chopped candy bar stirred into any kind of dough; any food covered in ketchup; and various drinks made with melted candies, powders of all kinds, and suckers.

New menu items that I refuse to try include earthworms, (according to Weston, they mainly taste like dirt),  and fire bugs, (just found that one in the diaper, not sure how it tasted). 

Watching my children, I see the natural evolution from playing kitchen on their pretend stove to using their Easy Bake oven; from serving me cold cereal for my Mother's Day breakfast-in-bed to serving banana nut pancakes with scrambled eggs.  What progress! 

These future Moms and Dads may be handing out earthworms today, but tomorrow, Filet Mignon and homemade pies.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tip of the Day: Make Your Own Mixes

When you're running a household, saving money is usually done a few cents here and a few cents there.  Over time, however, this really starts to add up. 

One way I have found to save money is to make my own mixes instead of buying them pre-made at the store.  I am sharing the recipes for the mixes that I use most often.  My family couldn't tell the difference when I changed over to these homemade mixes and they love all of them. 

Hot Chocolate Mix

3 T. cocoa
1 c. sugar
3 1/4 c. powdered milk

Mix all ingredients together and store in airtight container.  To make hot chocolate, put 1/3 c. mix in regular size mug, add hot water to top.  Stir well.

Baking Mix (compares to Bisquik)

26 1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. baking powder
3 T. salt
2 T. cream of tartar
1 T. baking soda
4 2/3 c. dry milk
7 c. shortening (3 lb. can)

Mix dry ingredients in large bowl.  Add one half of the shortening, mix well with electric mixer.  Add rest of shortening, mix well.  Store up to 6 months in sealed container in cool place.  (I usually half this mix.)

Homemade Ranch Dressing

2 c. mayonnaise
1 tsp. Accent
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. parsley flakes
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 c. buttermilk (may use slightly more or less to get right consistency.)

Onion Seasoning Mix

4 tsp. instant beef bouillon granules
8 tsp. dried, minced onion
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. bon appetit seasoning

Mix and store in cool, dry place.  Use within 6 months.  Equal to one package onion soup mix.


2 c. rolled oats
1 1/2 c. rolled wheat
1/2 c. wheat germ
1/2 c. flaked coconut
1 tsp. salt
5 T. brown sugar

1/4 c. hot water
1/4 c. oil
5 T. honey
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix 1st six ingredients.  Then, mix liquid ingredients and toss over grains.  On cookie sheet, bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes.  Chop up when it comes out or will clump.

My family eats this plain or I mix it with nuts and dried fruit for trail mix.  It also tastes good as a cereal with milk on it.

For the rolled wheat and the wheat germ, I just use my little wheat grinder and grind the wheat to varying degrees of fineness.

Bonus Time-Saving Tip:  In addition to the recipes listed above, I also mix only the dry ingredients of pancakes and some cookie recipes. I put the dry mix in a baggie, label it, list the needed ingredients to add later, and then baking instructions if applicable.   This saves me time when I decide to make these things because I only have to add the wet ingredients and I don't have to look up the recipe.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Down on the Farm: New Fences

Me, "outstanding" in our hayfield.  If you look to my right, you can barely see the fence along our driveway.

Richard, my husband, takes great pride in his fences.  When we moved here to Birdseye, we built our house first, and then the fences went in.  And, not just any fences.  Great effort was put into perfectly straight, tight fences, strong, geometrically designed H-braces, and precisely balanced gates.  Not a post is out of place.  These straight lines are Richard's pride and joy. 

The meticulous line of our fences around our hayfield had finally been completed after many hours of sweat and hard work, countless dollars in cedar posts, metal posts, net fence, and barb wire, and numerous scratches and puncture wounds.  As we'd drive up our driveway, along which ran the south side of the well-planned endeavor of perfection, Richard would hesitate, just admiring his flawless accomplishment.  This admiration lasted for about a week.  And then came the night when all that changed.

When we moved here, we were oblivious to the fact that the elk claimed this ground as their grazing land of choice.  We had 80 to 100 elk come every night for the fine dining found on the Daybell ranch.  (One of the first fences to go in surrounded our haystack so we would have feed left for our own animals!)  At nights, we could take our spotlight outside our back door and shine it in the sagebrush behind the house and see hundreds of glowing eyes.  It was so cool!

One night I was up a little later and could hear the cow elk snorting as they called to their calves.  It sounded as if they were right out on the front lawn!  I quietly opened the front door and standing three feet from me was a cow elk.  I was lucky enough to have an almost-full moon, and the night was glowing.  In all, there were at least five elk on the lawn, twenty or so just beyond the yard, and it sounded like an indefinite number of them out in the hayfield.  The sound was so awesome!  You could hear them breathing, and moving around.  We'd frequently found fresh manure right on our lawn, but had never witnessed the culprits.

I silently closed the door and ran and got Richard out of bed.  He had to see this!  We, again, quietly opened the door and there they all were.  It was so exciting and exhilarating to see them so close!  They were so big when you were standing right next to them!  It felt like we were in a Jurassic Park movie and everything was just moving around us. 

We turned on the porch light, just to get a reaction.  The closest elk warily moved just off the lawn and many animals looked up at us so we could see their glowing eyes, but other than that, they didn't seem scared.

I decided I would make a noise, just to see them move a little.  I sounded off a little yip.  All of the heads around us jerked up.  One elk started to move which alerted the others and before we knew it, thundering sounded out as the whole herd began running.  And then we heard it.  The high-pitched "PING" made from the elk running into Richard's great source of pride and joy, his beloved fence.  It was so loud and echoing in the cool night air.  In the dark, many of the wild animals must have just been running so fast, they missed seeing the fence.  We could barely make out the shadows of many animals sailing over the barrier, but the rest were bouncing off the wires, like some teenage alligator dance.  With each sound, I cringed, and I didn't even want to know what Richard was thinking.

After the rumble ended and the "PING"ing stopped, I hesitantly peeked over at Richard from the corner of my eye.  His face registered unbelief, his stance, defeat.

"Whoops," I quietly squeaked out.

His suggestion we go to bed was quickly accepted and we silently walked to the room.

The next day, after a few hours of re-tightening some sections of barb wire and straightening some of the net fence, the average eye could see only perfection again.  If you look closely, though, you can see where a thundering herd bounced off in a few places.

Needless to say, for my husband, the novelty of the elk in our hayfield quickly wore off.  For me, not so much.  In my dreams, I still see their warm breath in the cool air, hear the "mew" sound as they call to each other, and feel the rumble as hundreds of hooves trample the frosty ground.  I frequently turn on the outside light before I go to bed, hoping to get a glimpse of their glowing soft eyes in the darkness.  But they are gone.

Perhaps they sense the hostility that ruining another fence would bring; or perhaps it just isn't worth the pain they would inflict on themselves from running into such a well-engineered barrier.  Whatever, the reason, they have moved on to other hayfields and left ours to our own herds of domestic animals.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Above and Beyond: Greater Love...

This image, printed in New York magazine, shows the South Tower being hit by terrorists just minutes after the North Tower was attacked on September 11,  2001.

I was reminded yesterday of September 11, 2001.  I'm sure most of you can remember right where you were that day when terrorists hit the World Trade Center, changing New York's skyline forever.

As the Twin Towers were hit, firefighters from all over the city, and eventually all over the country, responded.  Many of these great people, whether on duty or not, chose to go "above and beyond" and came to help in the aid of their fellow man.  343 firefighters, who initially came to the call, sacrificed their life that day as they tried to rescue those in need. 

This indescribable act of service makes my heart swell as I realize their bravery and love for others came before thoughts of their own lives.

John 15:13 in the Bible tells us, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."  I know that love for others will be blessed by great rewards in the life to come. 

Firefighters worked 24/7 to help rescue those trapped after the Twin Towers collapsed following a terrorist attack in 2001.  This picture was originally published in New York magazine.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Crowning Moments!

I know I've already covered this topic, but last night, at Weston's last church basketball game of the season, can I just tell you the excitement in the air!  Let me start out by saying we played an undefeated team.  Our little warriors fought hard and came away victorious!!!  36-37: the final score. 

Our opponents were so desperate in the last 14 seconds of the game to keep the one point lead they had, that they were literally grabbing onto the backs of our players shirts to keep them from going anywhere with the ball.  But fighting hard, our young team pulled through.

I have to admit that the unexpected win was definitely a "crowning moment", but as a mother, the real "crowning moment" happened as the boys were heading out of the gym.

 Jake, one of Birdseye's most experienced and best players, came up to Weston, (the youngest and shortest of anyone on any team they've played,) and told him that without the points he scored, the Birdseye team would have lost.  This comment, accompanied by a high five, meant more to me than a thousand wins.

Jake isn't the only one that boosted Weston's ego.  Thanks goes out to Brian, for being a true coach!  Your view of the bigger picture is what has made this such a great experience for Weston, and my whole family.  Jake, Seth, Finn, and Landon, Britt, Dallin, Brad, Adam, Jason, and Elijah - thank you for helping Weston feel a part of the team.  Let's shoot for post season play next year!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Everything I Learned, I Learned in Kindergarten...and Then Re-learned as a Mom!

Medicine 225:  Remember the days of skinned up elbows and knees, bruised shins, stubbed toes, bumped heads, hang nails, and paper cuts?  If you're a Mom, you're probably thinking, "My child experienced all of those yesterday."

When I was little, I would limp, scoot, or run to my own Mom.  She would kiss the sore spot better, give me a smile with a wink to assure me all was well, and off I'd go, cured until the next mishap.

As I got older, the frequency of my bruises and blisters decreased, but when I did fall victim to one of the possible maladies of youth,  Mom's kiss got replaced by Neosporin and a bandaid.

When did I lose my faith in the Mother's kiss?  The once miraculous power found in a single kiss had regretably and unknowingly been layed to rest... until January 19, 1999: the day I brought my first little boy into the world.

Although my family makes our share of runs to the doctor's office, the emergency room, and the pharmacy, I've re-learned the power of a single kiss to heal any ailment.  What a feeling of power and happiness it brings when the screams stop, the crying subsides, the limp disappears, and the wound becomes forgotten.  With that little show of love, the world gets brighter. 

Yesterday, Brooklyn, my 1-year-old, was sitting on the counter in the bathroom, (where she always sits to "help" me put on my makeup), when she began dropping things like curling irons, brushes, hairspray, and mouthwash onto the floor.  With great precision, the 3/4 full mouthwash bottle landed on my toenail.  I let out a howl and gave Brooklyn "the look".  She reached towards my throbbing toe and started blowing kisses to it. 

Hmmm... it really did work!  My toe was instantly forgotten in the precious moment my baby reminded me of something I knew once upon a time and then re-learned as a Mom!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tip of the Day: Chore Charts

As I have previously mentioned, I don't really use chore charts consistently except for summer vacation.  I just feel like it adds one more job to the huge list of "to-do's" that I already have.  I do, however, frequently use reward charts for my little ones until they get in the habit of doing a specified job.  During school, I expect the older kids to know their required jobs, and then I just ask them for additional things.

One thing I have learned with every chore system I have used, just like any other repeated thing, it gets old.  I have had some chore charts work for a month and others work for a week.  Whatever system you use, have one waiting in the wings so that your kids don't get bored.  It will help keep them enthused and won't become more work for you.

The most frequently used chore chart, of course, is the list with space to attach a sticker, or just draw a check mark upon completion.  This is one of the systems that lasts only a week for my family.  Having said that, this system works great for very young children.  I draw a picture of the job they are expected to do, and they can't get enough of putting stickers next to it.

One of the the things that worked the best for me for the longest period of time consisted of a clown holding balloons.  Beforehand, the kids colored their own clown and I laminated them.  I then put jobs on a series of balloons and laminated them, taped on a piece of string, (so they looked like a helium balloon), and then put magnets on the back of everything.  We then stuck the clown on the refrigerator and each kid would have to complete personal daily jobs, a certain number of household jobs, and a couple of weekly jobs.  Every night, we would stick their new job balloons in the clown's extended hand and the next morning, the kids would do all of the jobs on their balloons.  Their goal was to have all of the balloons "float away".

Another system that worked well for quite a while was the "build-a-caterpillar" job system.  I cut out a bunch of circles of different colors and wrote jobs on them.  I then laminated those and attached magnets to the backs.  As the kids completed the job they picked out, they would attach that segment to the caterpillar head.  The kids loved to race and see who could build their caterpillar first.  They would sometimes even start trying to build the longest caterpillar by doing extra jobs.

Another very successful chore system was building ice cream cones.  Once again, I put jobs on "ice cream scoops", laminated them, and attached a magnet.  We would put up the cone, and then pick out "ice cream".  The kids would really get into trying to build the biggest ice cream cone.  I really liked this method because after a week of successful job completions, I would take the kids out for ice cream.  This was a great motivator.

(Bonus money-saving tip:  For the magnets I used on all of these chore systems, I would just cut up the free flat advertisement magnets you get on the front of your phone books, or from various businesses.  Small squares were strong enough to hold up many of the little things I used them for.  I would just use Elmer's glue to attach them to the item.)

There are thousands of chore charts and chore system ideas.  If you try one and it doesn't work, try another.  Be prepared to change your system often so your child stays excited over the prospect of completing chores.  Praise your children for their accomplishments.  This is the best way to "pay" them for a job well-done.  Even if a job isn't done how you think it should be done, if your child tried their best, praise them.  And then go show them a few things they could try next time.  Be patient.  A few minutes spent now will save a lot of time later.

If you have a successful chore system that has worked for you, please share your ideas here.  I love receiving feedback from my readers and know that it is helpful to others, as well.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Down on the Farm: The Chili Cook-off

It started out any old Saturday.  I was visiting with a neighbor when she mentioned she had to go and finish up her chili for the Birdseye Branch Chili Cook-off.  That was today?  I had totally forgotten about it.  I looked at the clock.  I had a half hour to get my then family of seven ready, cook my chili, and get to the cook-off.

I kicked it into high gear.  I yelled to Richard down at the barn that we had to leave in 25 minutes, got my chili simmering, changed my clothes, changed my little girl's clothes, layed out my little boy's clothes, directed my older kids to get on their good clothes, fixed 3 girls' hair, combed down 2 boys' hair, jumped in the car and was only 10 minutes late! 

By this time, the judges were very involved in tasting various chilis.  I quickly added my pot of chili to those already there, scooped some up in cups for the 4 judges, and then sat down to wait.  It was at this time I began listening to the other cooks in the room. 

"I've been slow-cooking my stew meat since yesterday!"

"I started my beans soaking yesterday, and my chili has been simmering since this morning."

"My chili had to simmer overnight!  That's part of our secret family recipe."

As I was listening to these comments, I slowly moved to the outside of the group, hoping to avoid a question about when I began my chili.  Who knew you had to start it the day before?  Mine took 10 minutes, and that included the simmer time!  Out of the eight or so cooks there, this morning was the latest any of them started their competing chilis.

I was embarrassed to have thrown mine together so fast and bring it to a cook-off where apparently, I was out of the "know" on how to cook "real" chili.

The judges were huddled as the ticking of the clock sounded loud in my ears.  I was trying to look very  involved in my two-year-old's conversation on eating paper so that I could avoid any questions or comments directed my way, especially about the particulars of my recipe.

The judges stood up and began with the fourth-place winner.  Applauds sounded as the cook walked quickly to the front to collect her award.  Third-place followed suit.  As each winner was given their trophy, they gave a quick synopsis of the "secret" to their concoction.  Both mentioned, as if taunting me with their remarks, how much time they had put into their own great recipe.

"And the second-place chili goes to Melanie..."

I sat for the briefest moment while these words sank in and then hurried up to get the runner-up prize.  Everyone was looking at me expectantly, waiting for the words of wisdom I would share to help them improve their kitchen skills to the point of my culinary cook-off expertise.  I stammered out, "Time... and corn!"  Nobody had to know that by "time", I meant "It didn't take much."

My fans applauded my brief answer as if that is exactly what they were expecting.  The judges went on to announce the first-place entry, (which just so happened to be the one that had been slow-roasting her stew meat since yesterday.)

I really didn't deserve the grand award that I received, but after all, there were no rules on how to make a competing  chili.  So maybe I did deserve that award.  After all, time-saving tips are worth their weight in gold.

And so, for three years now, I have kept my winning recipe a secret.  (I really just didn't want to be stoned when my fellow chili cook-off competitors found out I started my chili 20 minutes before I got to the event.)
I reveal that secret today. 

Mexi-Chili, (as it was called for the cook-off) or Taco Soup

1 lb. hamburger
1/4 to 1/2 envelope of taco seasoning
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can red beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can corn
Grated cheese, optional
Sour cream, optional
Tortilla chips, or Fritos

Crumble hamburger and brown; salt and pepper to taste; sprinkle taco seasoning over cooked hamburger.  Add cans of beans, tomatoes, and corn, using all juices.  (Various canned beans can be used.)  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Can garnish with cheese and sour cream.  Eat with chips.

Looking back, did I really deserve to win second-place for my fast-fix dish?  Probably not.  But in reality, when you have fifteen minutes before your husband is going to be home from work and want dinner, and you haven't yet thought of what that dinner will be, whose chili are you going to think of?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Above and Beyond: Real Champions

BYU's Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery hold up the Mountain West Championship trophy after Saturday's win against Wyoming.

For all of those Brigham Young University fans out there, aren't we "livin' the dream"?  With their 102 to 78 win over Wyoming on Saturday, the Cougars clinched the top seed for the Mountain West Conference tournament next week.

Today's "Above and Beyond" recognition doesn't go to this team for their performance in Saturday's game, specifically, although it was a great win  brought about by each player stepping up to reach their fullest potential.  This story goes so much deeper and really illustrates this team's heart. 

The Cougar's actions and attitude toward their teammate, Brandon Davies, has to be one of the best shows of forgiveness and love that I've ever seen publicly demonstrated by a sports team.  Saturday night, Davies was sitting on the end of the bench with his team.  Their comments concerning Davies' suspension showed only support and understanding for the mistake he made that challenged the whole team's spot in the MWC tournament. 

BYU's decision to risk the goal of a championship by sticking to their values and upholding the honor code maintains my respect for a school that should be living above worldly morals and, when tested, succeeded.  There are so many rationalizations and political slides that could have been claimed by this great school, but their honesty and ethics prevailed.  Way to go!

To the Cougar basketball team for your outstanding performance on and off the court, may I say you went "above and beyond" the expectations of your fans and non-supporters alike.  Thank you for showing the nation what real champions are.  It doesn't take a title, (although that would be GREAT!!) to show what you are made of.  

Friday, March 4, 2011

Crowning Moments!

It was time to put my foot down.  The kid's rooms had gotten a little out of control over our busy week, especially Jentry's, my four-year-old's, who shares a room with her baby sister. 

We had friends over that day and they had trashed her bed/toy room.  All of the stuffed animals were piled on her bed.  Every Littlest Pet Shop house was off of the shelf.  All of the Littlest Pet Shop animals were scattered everywhere.  The play-kitchen dishes were all dumped in the middle of the floor and had been spread from the doorway to the kitchen set across the room.  The clothes I had folded for the two little girls had been dumped in the doorway, (that by Brooklyn, who prides herself in helping me put all of the clothes away.)  Five different card games had been dumped out and the Skip-Bo pile was mixed with the Monopoly Deal stack.  I couldn't even make out a pile for the other three games.  The room was seriously trashed!

I was putting Brooklyn to sleep and told my troops to run and clean up their rooms before bedtime.  I was basically out of commission and was hoping no follow-through would be needed.

Jentry had a meltdown.  She just couldn't face her job alone.  After three times coming out to tell me she just couldn't do it, I asked my older kids to clean a couple things in Jentry's room, just to get her started.

After this, it was quiet for eight minutes, until Jentry burst into the front room, ecstatic.  She was trying to be quiet so she wouldn't wake up Brooklyn, who by this time had fallen asleep, but she could hardly control her excitement.  "Mom, I'm all done!"

I have to admit, I was a little surprised.  I asked, "You got the whole thing clean?"

"Yeah!  Are you so proud of me?"

Proud?  Yes!  It was Jentry's "crowning moment"!  She was so enthused about her accomplishment she couldn't even stand still.  Her little body was jumping up and down.  Her smile was contagious. 

I poured on the praise.  I told her what a good worker she was.  I told her how proud I was of her.  I told her I knew that she could do it.

The angels were singing the Hallelujah Chorus in my mind.  I was relieved that I would be able to walk to the crib without tripping on a toy; that Jentry could get in bed without me having to go to a whole bunch of effort tonight.

As the third "HALLELUJAH!" was echoing in my mind, it came to a screeching, abrupt end as Jentry announced, just as enthusiastic as ever, "You can pretty much walk in, now!"

Not wanting to knock her little crown of glory off, I told her I couldn't wait to see it.  I carried Brooklyn into the bedroom that I wasn't sure I wanted to see.  Sure enough, I could walk in!  And if I balanced very carefully, I could follow the small winding trail where the toys had been pushed to the side, all the way to the crib!

Jentry had followed me and was waiting for my reaction.  I have to admit I was secretly groaning, but her look of expectation was more than I could resist.  I layed Brooklyn down and picked my excited little girl up and gave her a big squeeze.  I told her how big she was getting and that she had done a great job.  I thought to myself, "I guess I don't have ANYTHING to do tomorrow."

Jentry skipped off, still excited about her accomplishment, and seemingly satisfied with my response.  I had to smile when I heard her tell her sisters, "I'm all finished with my room!  Do you want me to help you with yours?"

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Everything I Learned, I Learned in Kindergarten...and Then Re-learned as a Mom!

The Crab Nebula, a supernova remnant

Astronomy 105: Astronomy is the natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects (such as stars, planets, comets, nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies.)  This broad term has only recently, within the 20th century, been broken down into specific sub-terms such as stellar astronomy, galactic astronomy, extragalactic astronomy, cosmology, etc.

As I studied up on this topic, a very interesting parallel was found between astrometry, the measurement of the positions of celestial objects, and what I really did learn in kindergarten, or before.

According to Wikipedia,, this measurement of stellar parallax of nearby stars provides a fundamental baseline in the cosmic distance ladder that is used to measure the scale of the universe.

Well, all I can say, (or rather sing) is, "Twinkle, twinkle, little star.  How I wonder what you are. Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky.  Twinkle, twinkle, little star.  How I wonder what you are."  This little song, that my kids can sing by the time they're two, already announces the phenomenon of stars, (they twinkle,) alluding to the fact that they produce their own light.  We also already know where they are in relation to the Earth, (which astronomers have spent billions of dollars to find out):  up above the world so high.  Do we really need to know more?

I guess one of the biggest reasons for studying our galaxy and her stars is to learn more about our own great star, the Sun.  Johannes Kepler and Newton spent their life studying the motion of the planets with the Sun in the center.  Their life-long examination explained how the planets, and all celestial bodies in our galaxy, revolve around the sun, which provides them with light and warmth.

Once again, a mother and her lullaby come through.  "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.  You make me happy, when skies are gray.  You'll never know, dear, how much I love you.  Please don't take my sunshine away."  This song teaches about the light, (or happiness,) provided by the sun.  It also explains why children think the world revolves around them!

Let me just suggest to NASA, or whoever else is forking out billions to study the remnants of supernova and the black holes of remote intergalactic clusters, LOOK TO YOUR MOTHER.  You probably will find the answers to all of your cosmic mysteries in the sweet lullabies of your childhood.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tip of the Day: Saturday is a Special Day

Many of us are familiar with the primary song "Saturday."  In the song, it says, "Saturday is a special day...."  I try to make Saturday special for my kids.  I also try to give the house a makeover on Saturday.  Doing both of these things on one day is a challenge.  Cleaning is not in the definition of "special" to my kids.

We try to get the cleaning part done as fast and as fun as possible.  Then the rest of the day is open to playing games, making homemade English Muffins, (, or any other treat that sounds good. 

I've listed some of my kid's favorite cleaning "activities".  I hope some of them work for you.

Coin Find:  This entails me going into all of the rooms that are on the cleaning schedule for the day and hiding money under objects laying around, in the laundry that needs folded, or hidden somewhere that I know it will be found.  We usually, then, draw a job out of a hat and all of the kids run in that room and start cleaning.  They get  to keep whatever money they find.  The only drawback to this is teaching the younger kids that you can't just lift up a misplaced item to find money and then throw it back down.  You have to put away anything that you pick up.  It's amazing how fast the kids will work, even for pennies!

Popping Balloons:  This is a big hit with my kids.  I write a list of jobs that need done and then cut them out.  The paper with the job on it goes into a balloon that I proceed to blow up.  Then, I have the kids, one by one, pop a balloon to find which job we will perform next.  I usually include "Snack Break" once or twice in the list to give the kids a little break.

Hide-and-Seek:  This activity begins the same way as the previous one with me making a list and cutting the items out.  Then I hide the jobs in one certain room and the kids take turns finding the job we are to work on next.

Draw Out of a Hat:  I resort to this when we don't have a lot of time and I just need the jobs done.  I write a list, cut the job items out and throw them in a hat.  The kids take turns drawing out.  I sometimes include in the list things like, "Get a Treat", or "Take a Break".

Timed Events:  This is one of the quickest methods I've found.  I figure out how long the job should take and set the timer.  If the kids get the job done in that amount of time, they get one piece of candy each.  If they don't, we just have to move on to the next job.

Beat Mr. Baggy:  This kind of goes along with the timed event but adds an extra element.  I have a big beach bag that I drew a face on.  The kids have a certain amount of time to clean and then Mr. Baggy gets to "eat" whatever is left.  This works especially well in kid's bedrooms.  The kids then have to do an extra job to earn back whatever Mr. Baggy "ate".  I really like doing this at random times during the week when I see the kid's room needs cleaning up.

I Spy...:  When we are playing this game, I spy a certain color, shape, or size and everybody makes a mad dash to clean up everything they can find that fits my description.  I also may spy shoes, for instance, or particular items.

Magic Scraps:  This game is where I make note of a certain thing that is out of place, in my head, and everybody works as fast as they can to clean the room.  Whoever happened to pick up the "magic scrap" that I was thinking of, they get a treat.

Easter Egg Hunt:  This is a popular method just before and a few weeks after Easter, because all of the plastic eggs are out.  I make a job list, cut it up, and then put the jobs in the Easter eggs.  I then hide the eggs and the kids take turns finding them and doing the job inside.

Some Saturdays, I have only "fun" jobs. These are the deeper-cleaning jobs. The kids get to wash windows, (remember when that used to be fun?), mop the floor ice-skating style, or play in soapy bubbles while they wash dishes, walls, cupboards, etc.

It is easy to combine some of these games together to add variation. I also sometimes split the kids up in teams, or assign us all to our own individual jobs.  I sometimes help the kids with their jobs, or they vote to have me do one of the less desirable jobs while they're doing another.

If you have some fun cleaning ideas, be sure to share them in the comment section of this post.  Next week, I will list some of the chore charts I use  that seem to work during summers or vacation days for me.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Down on the Farm: Road Kill

Over the past few weeks, I have discussed numerous aspects of motherhood, but I have not yet touched on the highly acclaimed but never popular topic of morning sickness.

I experienced this not so glamorous side effect of pregnancy with all six of my children.  I would start to feel the nauseousness like clock work at eight weeks along and carry it through until about five months, when I would start to feel better.

When I was four months pregnant with our third child, Katelyn, Richard and I were in the process of building in Birdseye.  We were living in Mapleton but had started attending the branch on Sundays.  Nobody yet knew that I was pregnant.  Richard and I prided ourselves on how long we could hide it before the news came out. 

This particular Sunday started out like many of the others.  I began the day with some cream of wheat and toast, (it goes down smoothly and comes back up the same way - can I say that  in public?)  Richard and I were speaking in sacrament meeting and so of course, we wanted everything to run smoothly. 

We left early, wanting to get there in plenty of time.  As we were driving up the windy canyon, morning sickness bore its ugly head.  I informed Richard he would have to pull over immediately, which was a feat in this section of the canyon.  But like the true professional he was in this kind of situation, he zipped off the highway onto the narrow shoulder, and I quickly jumped out.

As I stepped away from the car, hoping the fresh air would be enough to get us back on the road, there it was.  An unfortunate deer had got hit by a car right in this particular spot, and not just recently by the look of things.  Needless to say, my hope for fresh air was dashed in a whiff and also needless to say, it took more than a little fresh air to help me get back on the road.

I have to admit, I don't look at road kill without thinking of this moment in my life and laughing, (now).  And if there's any advice I can share, it is this: when we women need you men to pull over immediately, you probably have enough time to inspect if something has already been pulled over, or should I say drug over, there first.

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