Monday, August 31, 2009

August UFO's

What was I able to cross off the infamous list in August?

Well, this is how Jeff left his things when he went on his mission. But it was time to prepare for vacation, so I didn't worry about his boxes of "things to store" and "things to get rid of."However, now there's room for Brad's stuff when he gets home in a few weeks! And even for a college student to come home at Christmas. Steven was a great help, because this project included cleaning out his closet, and I needed his input on what to keep and what to get rid of. We also went through all the kids' bathrooms' drawers and cupboards, did the "deep cleaning" list (instead of just the weekly shine) and even washed the shower curtain. Now I don't have to worry about that for quite a while!
And we were able to cross a couple of "fun" things off the to-do list as well. This is Steven behind the wheel of the truck with the stick-shift. Jeff taught him the basics before he left, but this month we actually practiced, and now he's ready to drive solo. (This is actually the "after" braces picture, not a driving picture, but I guess getting the braces off was on the to-do list as well!)
Finally, we made brownies using the last of the Nutella in the cupboard. I guess our family members aren't really fond of that delicacy because it's been in there for quite a while. But the brownies were good and now the jar is gone. Here's the recipe I used - substituting Nutella for the caramel.So, that's what we did in August. Now it's time to decide what to do in September.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Glacier National Park

Flashback Friday
National Park Series #5

Once again, this vacation wasn't an "official" national park vacation. It was really a mini family reunion that just happened to be near Glacier National Park. So, one day we drove over and spent a little bit of time at the visitor's center and took a short hike. The boys favorite part was watching the groundhogs play with each other.

This was also the year (1988) where both Wayne and I forgot our anniversary. Let's just say it was a touch stressful preparing for this vacation, and neither one of us was paying attention to the calendar once we actually left home. We were too busy having fun - eating at McDonald's, playing at the lake, teaching Weston and David how to swim, and enjoying a happy baby - all with the added fun of Grandma and Grandpa and Aunt Julie. It really was a great vacation.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

WFMW - Breakfast Menu Plan

Works for Me Wednesday
Breakfast Ideas
Last year when I wrote about school lunches, David left the following comment: "I think it was the 12,000 hot breakfasts that will have the longest positive impact. I contribute good breakfasts to any success I had in school or athletics," and that got me to thinking about the importance of breakfast on school mornings. So, here are some of the things that have "worked for us" over the years.

To be honest, I would have preferred fixing cold cereal for breakfast every morning - quick and easy and the kids love it. However, it was too expensive for our budget, so we alternated between pancakes, oatmeal, and scrambled eggs. (Our family tradition is to have cold cereal on Saturday, but that story deserves its own post.)Several years ago I devised a breakfast schedule as part of our summer planning, and that worked so well we've kept it ever since. Here's the basic outline:

Saturday - cold cereal
Sunday - eggs
Monday - pancakes/waffles
Tuesday - hot cereal/muffins
Wednesday - cold cereal
Thursday - eggs
Friday - French toast/Dutch babies

(Yes, we added a second day of cold cereal, but that works for us now.)

It's a very flexible plan. For instance, there are so many ways to cook eggs - scrambled, fried, omelets, soft-boiled, poached. One variation I called "reject eggs" and it was my standard breakfast for quite a while. I'd fix easy-over eggs for the kids and serve them with toast. After they used the toast to eat all the yolk, they'd leave the whites. Then I'd take their leftovers, sprinkle on a bit of cheese, reheat it and eat it myself. (What can I say? I was raised with the "think of all the starving kids in Africa" mentality, and germs don't particularly bother me. Besides, all the calories are in the yolk anyway, so that helps my diet.)

Another version we used a lot for "I'm running late" days. Cook the egg, but break the yolk just before flipping. Top with cheese and bacon bits and serve as a sandwich between two slices of toast. This is particularly delicious using a bagel and ham slices.Michelle doesn't like anything with syrup (waffles/french toast/Dutch babies/pancakes) and since those aren't particularly healthy, I'm not going to insist that she eat them. So on "pancake" day, she usually has a smoothie or a piece of fruit. Since our school district serves free breakfast to all students, I don't have to worry too much about breakfast now; they can always get something from the cafeteria. But breakfast is still a very important part of the day and I love the chance to experiment with new ideas, fall back on old ones, and send my family off into the world knowing they're prepared with a satisfied tummy.

If you're looking for specific recipe ideas, go to our "Family Favorites" and click on the breakfast category. It's filled with what works for us. And if you're looking for even more ideas, be sure to scroll through the list at We are THAT Family!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another New Beginning

Memorable Monday Moments
The first day of school

5:39 AM before leaving for seminary

As mentioned last year, one of our family traditions is to have father's blessings** before school starts. This year our family night was short and sweet because there were only two to give, but it was still a wonderful experience. And it was so nice of the school district to cooperate and start on a Tuesday this year so that the timing was perfect.

Steven and Michelle need to ride the bus home today so that it will be "legal" whenever it's necessary later in the school year, which meant I was able to get pictures at school when I dropped them off. At 7 AM the sun hasn't risen yet! The "sophomore/junior" parking lot is a bit of a hike from the building, but that's okay. The privilege of being able to drive yourself is worth a little walk. We're looking forward to another wonderful year.
** From the Family Guidebook: "Father’s blessings are given to provide direction and comfort as guided by the Spirit. . . . These blessings can be a great strength to a family. A family may record a father’s blessing for family records, but it is not preserved in Church records. Parents should encourage children to seek father’s blessings in times of need."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Canyonlands National Park

Flashback Friday
National Park Series #4
This year I forgot the matches. However, we remembered before we arrived at the park and were able to pick some up when we stopped for gas. If you ever have to choose between the Grand Canyon and Canyonlands, opt for Canyonlands. We thought it was much more spectacular, and it was definitely less crowded. While we were there, Wayne was able to go on about 55 miles worth of trails, and the rest of us joined him on 10 of those miles. You can see that the boys had a lot of fun with rocks, both large and small!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

27 Years Ago

We were married in Oakland. It's just not possible that it's been that long, but that's what the calendar says. Happy Anniversary, Wayne - I love you! Here's our cake. I still think it's gorgeous. Just the other day we were talking about it at Sunday dinner. I can't remember quite how the subject came up, but I think it had something to do with the wishing well. I didn't want the typical "plastic bride and groom" on the top, and I've always loved hand-blown glass, so when my mom and I discovered this wishing well, I knew it would be the perfect cake topper. Unfortunately, it got broken a couple of years after the wedding when I was babysitting a little boy who threw something at the bookshelf. Although I've told him it's really not necessary, Wayne's been looking for years to replace it, and maybe someday we'll have success. In the meantime, we still have the glass pillars which were combination vases/candlesticks.

Last fall I did a series on "how we met" - here's the link to that last post which has links to all the other ones. I'm adding it here so it will be easy for me to find in the future.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Family Motto

Memorable Monday Moments
Family Motto

This weekend Wayne was assigned to give a talk on reverence and respect. That reminded him of one of our "memorable family nights." As he remembers it, the suggested family night lesson was to come up with a family motto. The kids were young (I'm thinking the oldest was about 8) so we wanted something short and easy to remember, and after much discussion we decided on "Show Respect". At that time we just posted it on a paper on the fridge, but several years later we made a wall hanging that was a bit more permanent.

It's interesting, but I remember coming up with "show respect" a bit differently. I thought the idea for that early family night lesson was to come up with some family rules. The same parameters were in place - the rules needed to be short, simple, and easy to understand. We also wanted them to be positive affirmations instead of a list of don'ts, and we didn't want to have a giant list of rules. Sounds like a tall order! We talked about how we needed to obey Mom and Dad, we needed to be kind to brothers, we needed to keep our rooms clean and help with chores, etc. And we figured that that one phrase - Show Respect - covered all those things. Then later, one of the kids had a kindergarten assignment to make a family coat of arms which included a family motto. At that family night we decided our one family rule equaled our family motto.

It really doesn't matter whose version is correct. The important thing is we have a family motto and it really works!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bryce Canyon National Park

Flashback Friday
National Park Series #3
This year I remembered the camera! We enjoyed a relaxing vacation, with a lot of hikes. Some we did as a family (taking them at Weston's 1 mile per hour pace) and some Wayne did alone - particularly the 23 mile Under the Rim Trail. We celebrated Wayne's birthday with Ho-Ho's and candles (or something similar) and just enjoyed each other's company.
It's easy when you have such cute kids!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Arches National Park

Friday Flashback
The National Park Series - #2
This was the year we really started our tradition. Did you guess that we decided to go in alphabetical order, starting with the national parks in our home state? So, the very first one was Arches.
We went 4th of July weekend of 1985, and it was HOT - 111°, but I guess that just makes it memorable. It also seems like every trip we take I have to forget something. This trip it was the syrup for the pancakes and the camera. So, no pictures from the family album, but I did find some to share. And if you want more, here's the official site: Arches NPS.
The typical schedule is to set up camp, explore the visitors' center, drive all the roads in the park, and then start hiking trails. So, that's what we did.
We started at the Devil's Garden trailheadand all hiked to Landscape Arch. (Well, the adults hiked and the kids got carried.)While Weston and I rested at the arch, Wayne carried David further along the trail to Dark Angel. It wouldn't have been bad at all if it wasn't so hot, but he came back exhausted, so that was it for that day. Fortunately our campground had a swimming pool and we were able to cool down a bit and soothe our sunburns. The next day Wayne hiked to the famous Delicate Arch, and then we all did a few overlooks and super short trails. Our visit to Arches was a short vacation, but overall it was a nice one.
And just to give you an idea of how old the boys were, here are pictures taken soon after we got home again. David practicing his standing skills (7 months old).Weston listening to Aunt Julie's Walkman (2 years old).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

July UFO's

I'm a little behind schedule at actually reporting, but I did make some progress on the endless to-do list in July. Once again, I was able to take advantage of having some helpers home for the summer!
We worked together to clean out the kitchen cupboards and drawers. Several of them were done in January, but this time ALL of them were done. Thanks for the help kids!

In addition, they helped with some outside projects - more weeding, repairing a screen panel, and de-vining a tree. While traveling I was able to complete a baby afghan. To me that doesn't really count, because it's such an enjoyable activity, but it WAS on the list.I've had "use AMC coupons" on the list for probably over a year - so long that I can't even remember how we got them. Finally, the time came to cross that off, and we rewarded ourselves for working hard by going to the movie theater. I wonder if I can find as many fun things to cross off this month!

WFMW - School Lunches

Works for Me Wednesday
School Lunches
Because it's the beginning of a new month, this week's Works for Me Wednesday is a themed one - Back to School tips and ideas. As a mother, I've completed 60 years of the school experience, and am down to 5 years left. This week I thought about some of the things that have worked, and some that haven't, and decided to focus on the "school lunch" part of the school year. (Hmm, that's what I did last year - I guess it's a big deal here!) Maybe another time I'll share ideas on routines or homework.
It didn't take very long to realize that sometimes kids don't want to eat what's put in their lunch. We solved that problem a couple of ways. One, they knew that if they didn't eat what Mom gave them, they'd have to fix their own lunch. Who wants to do something when someone else will do it for them?? Two, if they did fix their own lunch, they still had to follow the family guidelines - it couldn't be filled with fruit snacks, Twinkies, and soda pop. Lunches are all about choices, and I learned that it's best if the child feels like he's making the choice himself. One option they did have was to buy lunch 2 or 3 times a month. That way they didn't have to feel ostracized from their friends who bought lunch every day, and they could look at the menu and pick what day they wanted.

Once they graduated from lunch boxes to paper sacks, the kids didn't particularly like remembering to bring Tupperware home. That presented a problem for taking things that didn't work in baggies. However, one year I discovered these disposable 2-ounce containers at Costco. As I recall, they came in a box of 1,000 (or maybe it was even 5,000), but I got them anyway, and the box lasted for several years. (I was actually very disappointed when we ran out and I discovered that Costco no longer carried them!) They're perfect for salsa to go with tortilla chips or ranch dressing to go with carrot sticks.Here are some of the lunch items that have worked:

Sandwiches: my kids don't like "smushed" bread so we usually make sandwiches out of whole grain bread, dinner rolls or bagels

Quesadillas: before school, melt cheese on a tortilla in the microwave, add a slice of ham if desired, roll up and stick in a baggie for lunch

Wraps: same thing, but don't melt the cheese, add lettuce and tomatoes, drizzle with dressing and roll up - wrap in plastic wrap - particularly yummy with avocado!

Breadless: wrap ham around a cheese stick, jerky, cups of tuna or chicken salad, hard-boiled eggs, cooked chicken chunks, etc.

Fruits: cut up apples and sprinkle with lemon juice (which I keep in a recycled soy sauce container) to prevent browning, make a small slice in the banana to make it easier to peel at lunch, slice oranges into "rounds" not wedges (they're easier to eat),
yogurt: freeze the containers, in the morning wrap in a paper towel before putting in a baggie, it keeps the condensation from making everything else soggy "treats": at times I would buy a month's supply of these (pudding cups, fruit roll-ups, snack cakes, etc.) and divide them evenly among the children - they could choose how fast to add them to their lunches, but when their bag was empty, they had to wait until I restocked it the next month.
At this site, I found a picture of a creative lunch that would have been eaten. Note the fruit and chicken chunks and the mini bagels. The smoothie drink would have been really appreciated, because I've never bought them for lunches!As we were shopping yesterday, and realizing that school starts in just a couple of weeks, Michelle mentioned that she thinks sushi would make a great lunch item. So, that's something new we'll try this year!