Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tutus and Tights

Nothing says Christmas like The Nutcracker Ballet
I remember as a child watching the video over and over again.
I was totally enthralled with the sparkly costumes, the beautiful music and the magic of the hansom prince who was once a mere child's toy.
Our Thanksgiving weekend was the best time I've had in a long time.
We ate way too much Turkey, laughed until I thought I'd puke, attended a wedding (My father-in-law got remarried. Congrats Kent and Kathy, we love you both), had Mr Bird home and slept in 4 glorious days in a row.
Why is it I can never get out of bed in the mornings when Mr Bird is home?
He's just too cute and warm and snugly.
The kids think so too. All 4 of them ended up in our bed by 7am every morning.
It was heaven on earth.
Then Friday we saw Ballet West perform The Nutcracker.
It is the perfect transition from Thanksgiving to the Christmas season.
I did not go Black Friday shopping (although I have years past) and I can't say I really missed it.
Going to see the Ballet was much more fun and got me into the Holiday spirit way more than WalMart at 3:30 am ever could.
I think we have a new tradition!
It was fabulous to see all the little girls all dressed in their best clothes, the little boys wriggling in their collared shirts and ties.
When the music started and the curtain opened I could hardly keep my eyes on the stage. I was too busy watching the sheer wonder in my children's eyes.
They were absolutely mezmorized.
It was truly magical.

The Snow Queen has always been my favorite part.

She did not disappoint. She was perfectly sparkly and as graceful and beautiful as any snow queen I've ever seen. When I was a kid I would watch the ballerinas with sheer wonder at their flowing dance and graceful figures and I wanted to be them, just for a moment.
This production brought me back to those childhood feelings.
I would love to be a ballerina.
I just can't figure out how they bend their legs like that.
This may be one dream of mine that will have to remain a dream.
I don't think I could do splits in mid air if my life depended on it.
Mr Bird and I had fun looking at the men in tights.
We concur that Mr Birds bum is just as tight and that his thighs are even buffer than theirs.
Yup, I got a stud, what can I say!
Happy Christmas everyone! It's a 25 day long party!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks

When I take a good look around me, I am truly humbled and grateful for the life I lead.
I am so grateful to have 4 beautiful, healthy, happy kids.
I think about how many children in the world are starving and cold, with nothing to drink but filthy water and I realize once again just how blessed we really are.
I am so blessed to have a wonderful husband that not only is glad I can be a stay at home mom, but supports me in that desire 100%.
I am so blessed to live in a country with so many freedoms, especially the freedom to school my children at home. I truly count this as one of my dearest blessings.
I love having my kids here with me, playing with each other and building deep and lasting bonds during these precious few years I've been given to be their mother.
I am so grateful for a sturdy and strong home to keep us warm with all the snow and wind and storms blowing all around us.
We don't live in a mansion. Sometimes it's hard to look at others' homes and not think, "I need this or I really wish our house had that."
But in the end, I really love our home and I know that most of the people in the world don't even have this much.
As I was driving through my town just the other day I passed a neighborhood with tiny, dilapidated homes that were visibly inhabited. I could not help but be grateful for the lovely home Mr Bird and I have made together.
When my parents-in-law went on a mission to South Africa a few years ago they showed us photos of these huge cities filled with millions of people. The houses in these cities were one or two room shacks whose walls were made from corrugated cardboard.
Ya, you heard me, cardboard. Millions of them.
Is that even comprehensible?
Do we even realize how many millions means?
It makes the times I pass my neighbors huge homes and sigh make me seem a little greedy and selfish.
You want to know another cure for not being truly content with what we have been blessed with?
Read The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Holy cow, they had almost nothing, yet they were so happy and considered themselves very blessed.
I am so glad to know that happiness does not come from the things we own, but from how much we treasure the people in our lives.
This season, more than ever I am so grateful for my Savior,
My Beautiful Savior.
I feel His love around me. I feel His peace, even if the world seems so uncertain and scary, I have been blessed to know that He is near, ever so near.
I feel His spirit whispering to me how I can be better.
He takes my hand and shows me how to be a better mother, a better wife, a better me.
And He does it with gentleness and love and mercy and not with harsh judgments or looks of scorn.
He make me what He wants me to be, and that person is infinitely better than I ever thought I could be all on my own.
I know all of these things seem to be the cookie cutter answers.
I'm thankful for my family, my home and my Savior.
Cookie cutter.
Everyone says these things.
But you know what? These things should be the answers.
These things should be the center of our lives. And so with a heart full of gratitude for my merciful and kind Father in Heaven I join with the millions of others this wonderful holiday season and thank Him for these things that I hold dearest to my heart;
My Family, My Home and My Savior!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. May it find you cozy and happy near the ones you love!

Monday, November 23, 2009


The view out my dinning room window this morning as the sun was peaking over the mountains was simply stunning.
There really is no other word to accurately describe it.
Except maybe breathtaking or gorgeous or phenomenal or beautiful.
Growing up in California it was a big deal to see snow. It snowed in my home town one time in the lifetime I was there. Even then, it melted as soon as it hit the ground.
My family took an annual trip up to the mountains, about an hour and a half drive, for the express purpose of playing in the snow. My mom would bring a huge crock pot full of warm chili and we'd bundle up like the Michelin Tire Man. Since one trip up to play in the snow per year did not warrant snow boots, we improvised.
We put on a pair of socks, followed by plastic produce sacks, followed by another pair or two of socks and then our shoes. We wore at least 2 pairs of pants, a few shirts and sweaters, hats, gloves, ear muffs, scarves and the heaviest coats we owned. By looking at us you'd think we were planning a week long camping trip to Siberia.
Still, when we found a good spot to stop and play we inevitably spent a few moments in sheer wonder at the beauty all around us.
This morning, I felt like that little kid again, even though I've lived in snowy Utah for nearly 10 years.
As I looked out, the sun was just peaking over the mountain behind our barn. The first rays of daylight spread light on the newly fallen snow and the sunbeams bounced off the tiny ice crystals, creating a glittery greeting card scene.
Beyond our barn and chicken house I could see the little hill off in the distance. The houses that line the ridge of the hill where wearing a blanket of white, with a few of them emitting soft billows of gray from their chimneys.
Behind the hill even further still I saw the majestic mountain standing bold and strong and high, it's peaks and valleys seemed dusted with a fresh layer of powdered sugar.
As my eyes followed the tips of the mountain upward, my breath was nearly taken away as I looked at the beautiful sky.
It was filled with puffy clouds, with bits of sky peaking through.
The clouds were painted every shade of color between a deep steal gray and sky blue to magnificent pinks and purple and silvery white.
It was magnificent and awe inspiring.
I wanted nothing more than to sit and stare out my window all morning long.
I am constantly amazed at the beauty all around me, if I only take the time to notice it.
I feel like so many times I get so busy with my to do list and taking care of everyone that I miss the important things, like watching the sun rise.
I sat and watched as the deep gray gave way to the morning light and the sky was a bright shiny blue and silver.
Then I got up and showered and made breakfast and cleaned rooms and dressed and brushed children and then I realized something.
Today is the best day I've had in a really long time, so far...
Thanks sunrise, for reminding me of the beauty all around me, especially the beauty of my home and family.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Have you ever roasted green chilies?
Oh, these little bad boys are down right tasty.
They fill the warm kitchen with a spicy aroma that almost brings tears to your eyes.
They freeze wonderfully, ready for any Mexican recipe at any moment.
Plus, they are one of the easiest things you can think of to make.
Ready for this?
First, move the top rack in the oven as close to the broiler as possible.
Place the chilies on a baking pan, once the broiler is preheated place the pan on the top rack.
Leave them there for just a few minutes, until the skin turns black and starts to blister.
Take them out and turn to blister the other side. Continue until all sides of the pepper are blistered.
Remove from the oven and place directly in a plastic sac and seal it.
This allows the chilies to steam.
The bag will puff up like a hot air balloon in just a few seconds from all that hot air.

Aren't they pretty? I love the deep green goodness!
You only have to leave the chilies in the bag for a minute.
Remove them from the bag and the skins will literally peal right off in your fingers.
It's really quite fun to do.
Next, you can place them right in the freezer in a freezer bag for later use or chop them up for your favorite South Western dish.
What did I do with mine, you ask?
I made a dish Mr Bird's mom used to make for their family called Green Chili.
It's not green, but it calls for green chilies.
The recipe calls for canned, but we found out these fresh little puppies have 500% more flavor.
When I made this I chopped up one green chili and put it in.
It did not look like enough, so I chopped another and threw it in the pot.
Big mistake!
I think we would have been good with half of one, these little guys have kick!
Our mouths were on fire, but it was so good.
I could not stop eating it, tears streaming down my face.
You want the recipe?
OK, since I love you, here you go.

Green Chili
1 lb ground beef or ground turkey or finely chopped chicken breast, browned
1 large potato diced really small
1/2 medium onion
1 clove garlic
1 small can tomato sauce (or 3-4 fresh Roma tomatoes all blended up with the onion/garlic mixture)
1 small can green chilies or 1/2-1 roasted, diced green chili
6 C water
1 1/2 t chili powder
1 t cumin
salt to taste

Warning: For those of you who don't know me very well, I have made this recipe my own. I don't do it exactly how my mother-in-law did it, but we still think it's a classic.
1. Place the onion, garlic and 2 cups of water in the blender. Blend until liquefied ( I hate chopping onion and garlic and my kids hate finding onion pieces in their food, this solves both problems. Plus it cuts out sauteing them too).
2. Pour the onion mixture in a pot and the add chopped potatoes. Boil until potatoes are tender.
3. While the potatoes are boiling brown your meat (we've made it without meat and I love it, Mr Bird loves it with meat).
4. When the potatoes are tender add remaining 4 cups of water and all other ingredients. Heat through.
5. Optional: You can thicken it with corn starch and water or cornmeal if it's too thin.
6. Serve over a warm tortilla topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado, green onions, olives, etc.
Happy Soup Season!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Real Princess

Did you know that The Princess and the Pea has a different title?
It's really called The Real Princess by Hans Christian Andersen.
What? You did not know that?
Well, I totally did. I've always know, every since I was born, I've known that.
Actually I just found out a few weeks ago.
Anyway, the point is this: I read this story to the kids and it seems to have so much more meaning to me as a mother than it ever did as a child.
Also it struck me how short it is.
Read it, it'll take about 2 minutes, no joke.
Anyway again, I found profound meaning in this ever so short, short story.There is this Prince and he combs the world over looking for a princess, but not just any princess, a really real princess.
"There were plenty of princesses, but whether they were real princesses he had great difficulty in discovering; there was always something which was not quite right about them. So at last he had come home again, and he was very sad because he wanted a real princess so badly. "
Then one night a storm comes and brings with it a soaking wet princess to the gates of the castle.
Somehow it is common knowledge that if you hide a pea under 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds and the girl wakes up all black and blue from all the lumps, she must be a real princess.
The prince marries the delicate skinned princess, because,
"Nobody but a real princess could have such a delicate skin."
Of course!
No wonder I bruise so easily!
Actually this story got a great discussion going between my kids and I.
I asked, "So, do you think you can really tell if someone is a real princess by putting a pea under all those mattresses?"
They answered no. I explained that they are just like the prince in the story.
Someday, when they are much, much, MUCH older they will be looking for their own prince or princess to marry.
I told them the world is full of princes and princesses. They are everywhere we look, but not all of them are really real princess and princesses.
I asked them how they would be able to tell the real princes and princesses from the not so real ones.
I was astonished at their answers.
They are kind
They are honest
They dress nicely
They chose the right
They have a beautiful smile
Such insight, such depth, from the mouths of babes!
Then I asked what would happen if they found a really real prince or princess and they had not been acting like one themselves.
They quickly realized that the real prince and princess would not want to marry them.
Then we talked about ways they can become real princes and princesses so they can be ready when they find the real thing.
We turned those answers into our family mission statement.
The kids came up with most of it themselves. Look at what they came up with.
We will strive to be real princes and princesses by being kind, choosing the right, smiling, speaking gently, loving everyone, praying, dressing nicely, being clean, reading good books, being honest, being obedient and sharing with others.
I am so proud of my kids!
I really do have the best kids on earth.
And I'm not the least bit bias.
We have started saying our family mission statement everyday at the beginning of our school day.
Maybe by the time they're 35 they'll be ready to find the real thing!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Other Side of Summer

Dear Fall,
I miss you. Why did you have to leave so suddenly? I miss your warm, but not too hot, sun shiny afternoons. I miss your bright leaves and my kids with rakes 4 times bigger than them. I miss your gentle breeze that is so perfect I feel like I might be in a dream. I miss your harvest of juicy apples and huge squashes and bright tomatoes and carrots and beans and raspberries and pears. I hoped you could have stayed longer. I hoped we could have had one real last horse ride in your perfectness. I miss your smells of crunchy leaves and spicy muffins. I miss the carpet of leaves on the lawn and the acorns in the grass at the park. Now those things are hiding under the cold forbidding snow. Why did you have to yield to the snow? Why could you not have pushed it off just a little longer? Why, why I ask you? I guess I'm just a California girl at heart. You can take the girl out of California, but you can't take California out of the girl. I miss the sweet years when you'd stay with me all the way to Christmas and beyond. Your breeze and gentle rays kept me warm for months and months. You never let me freeze and the snow chill my bones. How I ache for your sweet rays. Spring seems so far away now. Don't leave us so cold and bleak. I look forwar to the promise of your return. After we've had another long, hard winter Spring will come again, and with it the promise of warmth and sunshine. Summer will not be far from Spring. And before we know it all the long summer nights will have passed all too quickly, filled with camping and planting and hiking and playing and laughing. Then, there you will be, waiting for me just on the other side of summer. Then we will play in your gentle sun and pick your bright leaves once again. Then we'll pick apples and relish their sweet goodness. Then we'll play in the leaves and be happy once again. I know you're there, just waiting on the other side of Summer. Til then, I'll miss you terribly, the memory of your warmth always be in my heart.
Love, Me

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Holiday Cheer, Muppets Style

Thank you Muppets!
I have already found some of my lost Christmas cheer thanks to you and all your silly silliness.
The kids and I were driving home last night and I turned on the radio station that plays Christmas music starting the day after Halloween.
Guess what was on?
John Denver and The Muppets singing The 12 days of Christmas.
Somewhere around the 6th verse Dubs let out a little giggle.
Then Dubs and Beano both laughed a little louder.
By the ends of the song everyone in the car was belling laughing, even Baby Cakes.
It felt so good!
Thank you Muppets, I knew I loved you for a reason!

Monday, November 9, 2009


I heard Christmas Music on the radio today.
The holiday season is upon us.
It used to be that the first Christmas song on the radio was a celebration.
It brought happiness and peace to my soul and made the whole world feel right.
Now when I hear those same sweet tunes part of me aches.
December 19, 2007 my mother-in-law passed away, just 9 days after Baby Cakes was born.
Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday.
The whole holiday season was rough that year. She had been sick long before Thanksgiving.
We buried her the day after Christmas.
We heard songs like Oh Holy Night and What Child is This on the radio on the way to the cemetery.
We tried so hard to celebrate that year, but no one really felt much like celebrating.
All we could do was turn on the radio.
Those songs were playing during, hands down, the saddest, hardest days of my life.
Now whenever I hear them I hear the memory of that mourning.
Last year was no easier. The pain of just one ever so brief year gone by was still so strong.
As the holidays grew near the whole family just wanted to hibernate, how could we have a normal holiday season without her?
It did not seem real or possible.
Last year was so bitter sweet.
The songs were laced with sadness once again.
I long to hear the music the way I did before.
I want to hear the joy, but somehow it has gotten lost behind the sadness.
How do I get past this?
I want to love the Holidays again.
I want to hear the music and get excited about Christmas trees and eggnog and lights and snow and Santa cookies and mistletoe.
I want to hear the laughter again, my own laughter and I want to play with my kids and anticipate that wondrous day.
I want to feel the peace of the Savior on the anniversary of His birth.
I have had lots of realizations lately.
One of which is that Christ will not rescue us from our problems and fears and hurts.
But He will help us through them.
He will take our hands and hearts if we let Him and stay with us while we go through the hard times. He does not promise us a struggle free life, but He does promise His peace during those struggles.
This year I will celebrate. I will celebrate the love of a wondrous Savior.
I will celebrate the love and life of a mother who accepted me and loved me like one of her own.
I will celebrate tiny hands and sweet babies.
I will see the magic of Christmas through my children's eyes.
I will let Christ heal my heart and make this part of me whole again.
I will love those around me more fully.
I will carry on traditions and keep my dear sweet mother-in-law a part of our memories and celebrations.
I will celebrate and laugh and sing.
I will sing those songs and I will let the melodies and sweet messages penetrate my heart once again.
I will let the warmth of the season heal my soul.

Where Are You Christmas by Faith Hill

Where are you Christmas
Why can't I find you
Why have you gone away
Where is the laughter
You used to bring me
Why can't I hear music play

My world is changing
I'm rearranging
Does that mean Christmas changes too

Where are you Christmas
Do you remember
The one you used to know
I'm not the same one
See what the time's done
Is that why you have let me go

Christmas is here
Everywhere, oh
Christmas is here
If you care, oh

If there is love in your heart and your mind
You will feel like Christmas all the time

I feel you Christmas
I know I've found you
You never fade away
The joy of Christmas
Stays here inside us
Fills each and every heart with love

Where are you Christmas
Fill your heart with love

This year I will let Christmas fill my heart with love once again!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Do Something

Have you ever had a day when there is nothing really pressing on the agenda, yet you know you have a million things to get done at home?
Have you ever had a really hard time getting going those mornings?
Do you ever feel like all you want to do is sit with a good book and cute kids and read all day long?
Have you ever felt like there's just too much to do and you don't know where to start, so you just don't start at all?
You don't?
Oh, good, Me neither!
Most mornings I'm rearing to go, not enough hours in the day so I just get down to it.
But some days are like today. I just can't get my motor going.
It's just too cozy in the nice warm house with the wind howling outside.
It's all or nothing, right?

I am trying hard to fight that all or nothing mentality. Instead I'm going for all or something.
A few weekends ago I went to a mom's retreat with some really good friends.
We went to a lodge in Park City and had a fabulous dinner followed by inspiring presentations, followed by chatting with dear, dear friends until 2 am,
followed by trying to sleep on the top bunk of a very high bunk bed without freezing or falling off, followed by waking up by 7am, followed by showers and breakfast, followed by even more inspirational presentations.
Basically, it is a grown up version of a slumber party.
I loved every minute.
One of the poems that was shared in one of the presentations is still with me.
And trust me, I need it this morning.
I don't know who wrote it or the title, but I know I need it.

I am only one
But I am one
I can not do everything
But I can do something
What I can do,
I should do
And with the help of God,
I will do!

OK, heaven help me, here I go!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Just Horsin Around

We keep having these nice sunny October days.
We keep thinking everyday might be our last good horse riding day of the season, so we keep going on awesomely gorgeous rides.
This week we went out to Antelope Island.

My baby was just too precious on that mare so I just could not stop taking pictures of him.
I took pictures of the rest of us, too, but let's face it, we're just not as cute as the littlest Weaver.

I hope there are many, many more days like this before the snow comes.
Oh, my heart just can't take all this cuteness!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Science 101

Did you know that if you put a Skittle in a glass of water the 'S' will float off all in one piece?
Tonight we saw it with our own two eyes!
And it was fabulous!
About a month ago I saw an article in Family Fun magazine about a family that does fun experiments with their Halloween candy.
I have been patiently waiting all month long to try it myself.
Oh ya, and I let the kids watch, too.
Let's not kid ourselves here, we all know I home school my kids and do these fun things for myself.
Sure, they can come along for the ride, but I am the one who wants to do these crazy things.
I really wanted to know what would happen if we filled a tray with candy and put them in the oven.
I'm the one that wanted to watch two atomic war heads bubble over when we dissolved them in water and added baking Soda to the mixture.

I wanted to see the rainbow colors melt away and leave fantastic colors in cups and bowl and dishes.
This activity did not disappoint.
The magazine listed a website with many different activities to try with different candies.

Baby watched and ate chocolate covered raisins as Lemon heads and suckers were being smashed to smithereens and sprayed my newly cleaned kitchen floor with tiny shards of sticky candy goodness.

We were not surprised to see that the Atomic War Heads and the Sweet Tarts were the most acidic candies in the mix.

I loved watching the cool patterns and shapes the molten candy made on the cookie sheet.
We loved watching them harden into cool shapes.
It was really cool to see what oozes out of those sugary treats.
For example, Air Heads and StarBursts had pools of oil floating on top of the candy puddle. We touched it with our fingers (once it had cooled of course) and our fingers were totally oily, way worse than eating a basket of french fries.
That really surprised me.
But I think the most surprising thing was that the Twizzlers did not change its shape in any way.
What is that made of?!?!
It did get tiny little blisters on the bottom, but it would not melt, even in a 350 degree oven.
Weirdo Billy!

My favorite part was those sexy hands wielding a hammer.
Yup, that's my man.

This photo cracks me up. Who needs a television when you have a bucket full of candy and an oven? I love my cute fun loving family!