Thursday, January 28, 2010

Love Hate

I Love Lego's
But I also Hate Lego's

I love the hours upon hours of imaginative play my kids get form these tiny toys.
If I pull out the Lego bin in the afternoon I will literally not see my boys until I call them for family jobs or dinner.

I love the things they create without directions, they just come up with these things all on their own.
I love the bonding all the boys get with each other while sharing a common passion.

I love the things Lego's have taught my children, like water tension.
Did you know that right after mom gets out of the shower and the mirror is all steamy that the Lego's will stick?
We learned all about water tension in my bathroom that day.
And it was the coolest thing ever because they figured it out all on their own, I did not have to show them that one.
I don't think I would have even thought to try that, but they did.

And that's what I love about Lego's.
They make my children think, but they really think they're playing.

This is what I hate about Lego's.
For some reason they cannot be contained.
They always end up all over the floor and the table and under everything.
When I put the Lego bin away I still find Lego's for a week after.
They like to hide.
Then some boy will find a half put together thing-a-ma-bob and the next thing you know all of them are swarming over it and fighting about who gets to play with the three stray pieces.
Then there is fighting and crying and sometimes hitting.
I really hate that.
I also hate stepping on them in the middle of the night on my way to the bathroom.
I really hate that.
But I really do love Lego's...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Truth

Sometimes I love Oprah so much I could kiss her.

Other times, well let's just say we don't always agree.
But today, let me tell you, she was spot on in my humble opinion.
I even took notes.

She had Michael Pollan on her show.
What? You don't know who he is?!?
He is the maker of a documentary called Food, Inc.
If you have not already seen it, you MUST!
This documentary should replace all the videos shown in any health and nutrition class in any school the United States over.
Bar none.
It will literally change the way you eat forever.
You may never eat fast food or anything prepackaged ever again.
So if you like your food the way it is, stop reading now.
Ignore the problem that is America's food supply a little longer until it continues to kill you ever so slowly and painfully.
I know I'm being a little harsh, but in all honesty, it's the plain truth.
We are killing ourselves.
And it's not a pretty death.
Michael points out that things like heart disease and diabetes and obesity and high blood pressure(the list goes on and on) did not become such an epidemic until about the turn of the last century.
150 years ago food was so much simpler.

Michael Pollan wrote a book (which I'm itching to read) called Food Rules
Oprah discussed some of his rules on the show.
#2 Don't eat anything your great grandmother would not recognize as food.
Think Little House on the Prairie times.
There were no cookie and chip sections in the town grocer filled with more preservatives and flavorings than actual food.
There was no neon colored and flavored yogurt in little tubes you can just squeeze into your mouth.
If they wanted yogurt they had to make it from scratch, they flavored it with fruit or not at all.
Don't get me wrong, grocery stores are a wonderful modern convenience, and there are some things worth buying.
For instance Dannon's plain yogurt is all natural.
No thickeners, no additives, just milk and live active cultures, period.
Just how your great grandmother would have made.
If we have yogurt that's what we buy, then I blend frozen berries with a squirt of honey and mix it in and you know what, it tastes way better that the neon variety.
#12 Avoid products containing ingredients that a 3rd grader cannot pronounce.
We have got to read labels, people.
Really, we don't even buy many labeled foods anymore.
I make 95% of what we eat from scratch.
I buy brown sugar and rice and oats and wheat and spelt and barley and buckwheat and millet and rye and beans in 50 pound bags.
I either soak or grind the real food and bake or boil it.
It's really not that hard to do. I set aside 3 hours a week to bake.
I make things like granola bars, cookies, muffins, bread, bagels, English muffins, and on and on.
Not all in one week of course.
Basically, if I see something in the store that looks good, I come home and find a recipe for it and I make it.
No preservatives, no fillers. Just plain old good food.
#23(I think) Eat only foods that will eventually rot
Michael said, "Food is alive and it should eventually die"
Here we are again with more preservatives than actual food.
#39 Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself

I don't know how I feel about this one.
I do agree that we need treats, and I do make them on a regular basis, but all the junk food I want?
I don't think this man knows how much junk food I can put away.
If there is junk in the house I eat it until it's gone.
I have the worst sweet tooth and I think I'd weigh a million pounds if I just ate all I wanted.
I have lots more to say about this, but this is already long and boring.
For now can I just say, watch the movie.
Download it, buy it, rent it, borrow it, but please, watch it!

Monday, January 25, 2010

How to Dice a Mango 101

There are not many things in life as nice as a bowl filled with bright orange juicy sweet mangoes.
They are just so pretty.
And tasty.
The problem is, they can be a little challenging to dice with that huge pit in the middle.
Here's a little trick I learned to avoid that problem all together.

First, you want to cut the mango almost in half.
You are going to cut down both sides of the long, flat pit.
Go ahead and off center your knife just a hair.
As you are cutting through the flesh you'll feel the knife braise the pit, just let your knife follow the pit all the way through the fruit.

You can see the ridge where my knife hit the pit so I had to move my knife over.
Next you will take the knife and cut the flesh to the skin (but not through the skin), making a checkerboard pattern.

This is the fun part. Invert the skin of the fruit so all the chunks stand up.
My kids thought that was hilarious.
If you want to eat the whole thing fresh right then and there just go to town biting the pieces from the skin.
I only do that when I'm not sharing.
Unfortunately, with 4 kids I am always sharing.

Next, slide your finger between the fruit and the peel. They just slide right off.
You could use a knife, but who has time for that nonsense?
Repeat with the fruit from the other side of the pit.

Now they are ready to share, or put in a fruit salad, or freeze for smoothies, or for muffins or make this yummy Mango Pineapple cake.
Mango Pineapple Cake

1 C sugar ( I use 1/2 C brown sugar and 1/2 C honey)
1 t vanilla
2 t baking soda
3 eggs, well beaten
1 t vanilla
1 8 oz can (or fresh) crushed pineapple with juice
1 1/2 C finely chopped mango (can substitute canned or fresh peaches if you don't have mango on hand)
1/2 C nuts (optional)
2 C flour (I use whole grain, freshly ground flour, usually spelt, but whole wheat works, too. My smallest can't eat wheat so I use spelt flour)


Mix eggs, vanilla and pineapple. Add mango and nuts. Mix in dry ingredients and mix well. Pour batter into greased 9x11 baking dish. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Easy Peasy!
And oh, so good.
Even without added fat from oil or butter it's incredibly moist!
Go ahead, buy a mango

Friday, January 22, 2010


Baby and Dubs were playing with this toy and this is what I saw when I came in the room after they had abandoned their game.
How did that happen?
I don't even know what to say about that...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blow Torches and Oxygen Tanks

Hello Mr Bird!
Happy Birthday!
Even if I am more than a week late.

We are all so glad you had a birthday so we could eat our annual serving of the world's fattening-est cake ever!
It's funny to me that you still insist on putting the correct number of candles on your cake, and that the only way to light them all is with a blow torch.
I am so glad you did not burn down our lovely home.
I wonder what you will do when you're 80 and no longer have the lung capacity to blow out all those flames.
I hope you will not burn down the retirement center.
I hope your oxygen tank will not explode with all your grandchildren and great grandchildren watching.
That would be tragic.

Here's a great big kiss form your loving family.
We are so glad you were born.
We love you for the wonderful husband and father that you are.
You amaze me everyday with your love and patience.
I am so lucky to have you!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My (not so) Lucky Day!

Look what showed up at my door this morning!
Imagine my surprise when Beano shoots down the stairs at lightening speed to tell me someone's at the door.
We had just started our school day and I was a little annoyed at the interruption.
Then I saw these gorgeous flowers and immediately everything was all better.
My mind raced as I wondered who they could be from.
The only answer was Mr Bird, of course.
But why, what is the occasion?
Birthday? Nope, not til August.
Anniversary (Oh crap, did I forget this time)? Nope, June.
Valentine's Day is still a month away.
Maybe they were because I have been sick this week and he just wanted to brighten my day.
Those are awfully nice flowers for a cold.
Maybe he felt sorry for me that I am brewing 3 cold sores at the moment.
No, they had not reached the surface until after he left for work.
Hmmmm, he has been known to do this sort of thing just because.
My mind raced the whole 5 seconds it took for me to walk them over to the counter and pull the card off the little stemmy thingy.
Then I got my answer.

Well, I am not Millie and Mr Bird is not Jake.
But our neighbors are Jack and Mollie.
Plus Jack and Mollie used to live in this house, then they built their dream mansion right next door.
Yup, the flowers were undoubtedly meant for them, not me.
We get their mail quite a bit actually.
We never get their bills or junk mail though.
At Christmas time we are teased with huge packages with mysterious contents form far away loved ones.
Their annual gourmet chocolate gift has come to our door every year since we moved in.
~And now this~
All I can say is I can't stand being teased one more second.
It's OK, it made it all better when I saw the look on Mollies face as I delivered her flowers.
Her whole face brightened and she explained that today is their 60th wedding anniversary.
Boy, I'm glad I did not just pretend I had not clue who Jake and Millie were and just kept them for myself.
Like I would even think about such a thing! Pishaw
Happy Anniversary Jack and Mollie!
Maybe by the time I get to my 60th anniversary my friends will be sending me flowers and gourmet chocolates...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Simply Stunning

"...all things denote there is a God;

yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it,

yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator."
~ Alma 30:44

A few summers ago, before I started blogging and before my trusty Cannon met it's tragic end, the kids and I visited a local Aviary.
Tracey Aviary in Salt Lake City to be exact.

These peacocks were just wondering around, cage free and fancy free. As you can see they are very used to people. We could hardly get them to budge.

Simply stunning. Look at the artwork on these amazing birds.
I could not help but share.

Isn't God awesome!
P.S. Click on the photos to see the amazing detail.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Peace at Last

Well, we did it!
We made our decision.
And finally, for the first time in a month, we are at peace.
I had the thought at the beginning of December that if we sell our house we would be able to pay off a rental house we own and live, for the first time in our lives, 100% debt free.
It is actually the first house we owned.
I really have fond memories of that house, of the neighbors, of the park right in our front yard.
Really there were many things that made going back there seem really great.
First and foremost we'd have the financial freedom to do many, many more things.
We would be able to travel to fun places like Hawaii and Paris and take cruises in the middle of the endless winters.
On paper it seemed like the perfect plan.
We could save lots of cash and buy our dream house with cash in just a few short years.
Then the rent received would be income, money in our pockets, instead of going to pay the mortgage.
We were really excited about all the prospect, until we weren't...

I still can not put my finger on why we weren't.
We just could not feel right about it.
We tried with all our might to make it the right decision.
We prayed, and prayed and prayed and we got our answer.
For once in our lives we did not get the answer we thought we would.
Then one day we thought, this must be what it feels like when the answer is no.
For whatever reason, it was just no.
We said, OK, it's a no, we get to stay here, in our home that we adore!
Then, we felt the peace we had hoped we'd find about the other choice.

We'll be in debt a few years yet, but we have new resolve to stay on budget and pay it off as fast as we can. We get to keep our apple trees that we planted with our bare hands and are just now becoming fruitful.
We get to keep our gorgeous willow tree and tree swing.
We get to stay on our quiet country road and enjoy the smell of our fresh cut hay in the spring.

Our garden is going to be awesome this spring and summer!
I can hardly wait for the snow to melt.
We composted the thing like crazy!
Our children can continue to wonder around our land bare bummed and carefree, picking dandelions to their hearts content.

Doodle can keep her horses and chickens.
I really am in love with watching her with those horses.
Just today she went to take some garbage out to the garbage can and I watched as she tip toed through the snow with her bare feet to go see her girls.
She stood on the bottom rail of the fence and nuzzled their warm noses close to hers.
I am so glad we can keep these moments.

Mr Bird gets to keep his awesome barn.
He calls it his LPBOL
LAN party barn of love.
The whole top floor is filled with computers and servers and wires and gear.
It's his thing, don't ask me.
We are so glad we get to stay.
Perhaps it's another tender mercy!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Mail Order Happiness

What's better than a succulent, gourmet caramel apple?
A FREE succulent gourmet caramel apple!
Thanks to one of my favorite bloggers, Be Different, Act Normal I found an offer for a free treat from Ivan Mog's!
There are several different flavors to choose from. I picked the pistachio turtle dark.
Just the sound of that is making me happier as I type.
Pistachios are nuts, so they're good, plus dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, plus an apple a day keeps the doctor away. So really, this is not that bad for you.
Plus it's gourmet!
That's fancy talk for I-didn't-have-to-make-it-and-I'll-be-eating-it-hiding-from-the-children-in-my-closet!
Hurry, sign up for yours now!
The only problem: they take 4-6 weeks to get here.
Ah well, I'll have a nice surprise in my mail box sometime in February!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The January Blues

January is an odd month, no pun intended.
The hoopla of the Holiday season suddenly ends.
We wake up from this dream land filled with candy houses and music and family and parties and rejoicing and presents and giving and sparkly lights and decorations hung from anything that will hold still.
In it's place we have January.
Everything is gray, the sky, the old snow, the trees, and my mood.
Gray is getting a little old.
It's cold here, 19 degrees today, with no chance of getting warmer, not for months.
When I turn on the radio my hearts sinks a little hearing the regularly scheduled programming rather than songs about our Saviors birth and sleigh riding and sugar plums.
When I drive at night I can not help but feel the loss of the wonder that is Christmas lights outlining the familiar homes and businesses in my neck of the woods.
As each set of lights go out the joy that was Christmas seems further and further away.
Even my own tree and holiday decor is packed up nice and tidy in red and gray storage bins, not to see the light of day for much, much too long.
My home feels drab and boring.
I miss my garlands and mistletoe.
January is supposed to be the month when we start a new, new goals and new dreams for a new year. We get back into the routine of our busy lives.
We are supposed to be eating more healthy foods (isn't that an unwritten resolutions for every one everywhere?).
Even the grocery stores know that. All I can see is Special K on the front of every grocery store ad (it's on sale AND healthy!)
Instead of Special K for two meals a day in order to lose those 6 holiday pounds I've put on, all I want are more treats.
I am feeling treat withdrawals in a bad way.
I just want to eat caramel corn until I'm sick.
I want more See's candy and at least another box or two of candy canes, all to myself.
January is an odd month, at least for me...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tender Mercies

Has anything ever happened to you that made you think, "Heavenly Father did that just for me"?
Not because you somehow deserve it, but merely because He knows how happy it would make you and more than anything He wants to see you happy.
Just because He loves you.
Well, let me tell you, I feel He has given me my share of tender mercies and then some.

The best of all?
Hands down, KATHY!
Who is Kathy, you ask?
She is my latest tender mercy from my Father in Heaven, just for me.
(OK, Kent, you can share her with me!)

Kathy and my dad dated and were married in 2003.
Kathy was a ray of sunshine, her laughter was contagious.
We all immediately fell in love with her.
She loved my children (I only had Doodle and Beano back then) and was so good to them.
She would invite me over during the day to make cookies and bottle grape juice and watch Jane Austen movies and just play.
She was the most amazing cook.
She invited us over for dinner many times just because she knew how much Mr Bird loves steak, so she'd through a few on the BBQ just for him, along with all the mouth watering fixings!
About a year later, their marriage ended in divorce.
I was heart broken.
I could not understand what had happened (it's probably better that I don't).
In fact, my relationship (or lack thereof) with my father has dwindled to almost nothing.
I'm not saying that happened because of their divorce, but, well I don't really know what happened there. Suffice it to say things are not the same.

But then the tender mercy came.
Mr Birds' dad was ready to start dating again. He remembered Kathy and about a year earlier we had mentioned he should contact her.
So he did what any gallant available bachelor would do.
He looked her up on my facebook friends list and sent her a message.
And she responded!
Soon they could not stop chatting and talking on the phone and traveling hundreds of miles to see each other. It became apparent that the only thing left to do was marry her.

And marry her he did!
We are all the happier for it.
His house feels like home again for the first time since Mr Birds' mom passed away.
She has brought with her the warmth of her spirit and laughter rings in the house again.
She is back to her tasty tricks.
The kids love her already.
She lets them get up on the counter and make cookies.
Really, is there anything better than making cookies with grandma?
Ask my children, they consider her grandma already.
I really am thrilled that Kent found someone to love and to make his life full again, but let's be honest.
We all know Kathy is back because Heavenly Father knew I needed her!
(don't worry Kent, I'll share!)