Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Favorite Family Recipes

Works for Me Wednesday
Storing and Organizing Recipes

Several years ago (in fact the month after our Yellowstone vacation) we were able to spend several weeks visiting my parents. On one of those hot summer afternoons (and maybe it took a few days), I went through her box of newspaper recipe clippings and organized them all into a binder - taping them onto copy paper and slipping them into page protectors into a binder. It worked so well that I went home and did the same for my pile. Fortunately my pile wasn't as large as hers! Now, though, my binder is way too fat, so I'm slowly working my way through and purging. That's one great way to store your favorite recipes.
Another way, and one I started at the beginning of this year, is to put them on the computer. I have a separate blog - Favorite Family Recipes - and as we make something I try to remember to take a picture and post the recipe. That way the distant college students can still have a taste of home if they want.

Some of our recent favorites: Steven's brownies, easy cherry cheesecake, manicotti, volcanoes, peach pudding, Spanish omelette, Joe's special, dinner rolls and fresh salsa

Monday, September 28, 2009

Do we have enough?

Memorable Monday Moments
Learning how to Budget
or Jeff's Jeans vs. Steven's Shoes

One of our memorable family nights took place when we followed a suggestion found in the Family Home Evening Resource Manual on how to teach your children about money management. It suggested getting a bunch of $1 bills and then having the kids help you "pay" all the bills. Supposedly they get the idea that it takes money, and lots of it, to keep a family running smoothly.

We adapted it to fit our needs. We divided the kids into two groups and gave each of them an envelope. Inside the envelopes were cards with various dollar amounts on them. One said how much income they received that month, and the others had all the various expenses - mortgage, taxes, tithing, savings, insurance, food, clothing, entertainment, school supplies, laundry, etc. One group had enough income so they could pay all the bills and still have money left over, the other group didn't. It was interesting to watch them try to decide what "bills" not to pay, and they definitely got the idea that when our needs/wants exceed our income, we have to make some tough choices.

After that, on a regular basis we would involve them in the family budget by having them help us rank our wants. This was particularly useful in the "clothing" category. When they saw that $50 couldn't buy everything everyone wanted, but it would buy a pair of shoes for the brother who had outgrown theirs and a pair of jeans for the brother who had holes in his, those who didn't need anything were willing to wait for their turn.

And it also helped them see why as parents we chose camping vacations over trips to Disneyland. Any vacation is better than no vacation at all!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Yellowstone National Park

Friday Flashback
National Park Series #9If not Old Faithful, then another one of the famous Yellowstone geysers.Yellowstone Falls.Having fun hiking and exploring! The boys didn't particularly like the smell of sulphur!!There's a sleeping boy in that tent. Bisons are stubborn and huge. And notice the snow on the ground. We thought it was supposed to be hot in the summer. Lots of fun memories.

1992 - Weston (9), Jeff (2), Brad (4), David (7)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Whiners and Complainers

Memorable Monday Moments
Maddie, the old man, and Sariah

Technically, this was a seminary lesson, but it would make a great family home lesson as well. I'm sure we had at least one on this topic in the last 25 years! And it might even be more effective at home, because, after all, don't we complain the most to our family members?
The scripture block was 1 Nephi 5 - where Sariah is upset that her sons are taking longer to return to camp than she thought they should have. However, I started the lesson by sharing the first half of a story in the current Friend - "Maddies' Grumpy Afternoon" (click on the title to go to the link). We read another story told by Elder Wirthlin at a BYU Devotional about a complaining husband who switched chores for the day with his non-complaining wife. Go here to read it. And then we read Sariah's story (stopping in the middle of each of these to discuss what might happen next), before finishing Maddie's story.

How do you stop yourself from being a complainer? Elder Wirthlin's advice was to express gratitude. President Hinckley's advice (found in the July 2006 New Era) was to serve someone else. Lehi helped Sariah by bearing testimony to her and helping her see that God was really in charge. It's all about changing our attitude. Remember the sign on President Hinckley's shoe repair shop: "I complained because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet."

To complain means to express dissatisfaction, pain, uneasiness, censure, resentment or grief; to find fault, grumble or whine. None of that is pleasant! The opposite is to rejoice. After discussing the stories, we each looked up scripture on rejoicing in the Topical Guide and shared them. The challenge is to think of that scripture (a lot of which dealt with expressing gratitude to God) whenever we feel like complaining about something. Hopefully that will help.

(It was interesting to hear the comments after I gave that assignment: "There are too many," "That's too hard," "I'm tired," "Why do I have to do that?" Do you think maybe this was a needed topic?)

Being positive, looking for the good, expressing gratitude and serving others can help us change from being grumpy to being happy!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Grand Teton National Park

Friday Flashback
National Park Series #8 We finished all the national parks in Utah, and made our way to the adjoining state - Wyoming - which meant that in 1991 we visited the Grand Tetons. In spite of a botched motel reservation (note to kids: don't make a reservation for August 1st with a credit card that expires July 31st), we did get a room that night and were at the campground bright and early the next day to choose a campsite.
Wayne did a good job of training them early!
At age 6, David's already the expert at cooking foil dinners!
It was a unique experience to meet up with Grandma and Grandpa on our camping trip.
Of course we did a lot of hiking! Soda pop is a great reward for finishing!!
The highlight of the trip was renting a boat and paddling around in Jackson Lake.

Although we greatly enjoyed our camping and hiking in the desert vacations, I personally enjoyed the mountain version better. However, no matter where you are, we live in a beautiful world!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Princess!

What's the first thing you do on your birthday when you're a teenager in the 21st century? You update your status on Facebook! And then you ask your mom why on earth she's taking pictures of that.
The answer is because she had the camera in her hand to take a picture of the birthday breakfast cake. (No candles to blow out because we've learned by experience that hot cake melts wax.)When the choice to open presents is either 5:45 AM or 9:15 PM, who wouldn't pick the morning option!
Happy 15th Birthday Michelle!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Birthday Parties

Works for Me Wednesday
"Let them do it" Birthday Parties
I like birthday parties. But I like them even better when someone else comes up with the ideas. Our family tradition is to have the birthday person plan their own party, and it works well for us! Last year Michelle went with a Hawaiian theme and lots of friends. This year's party was on a much smaller scale, but was still a lot of fun. They played games, made their own bagel pizzas and feasted on the cream puff tower - and TALKED. Simple is good.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Zion National Park

Friday Flashback
National Park Series #7
In 1990, we picked another hot week to go camping! Consequently we went through a lot of drinks, and the kids favorite activity was wading in the creek, but we also had a fun time hiking and exploring Zion National Park. The highlight of the trip (at least for Wayne - I stayed in camp with the two youngest) was hiking Angel's Landing.

If you google it, I'm sure you can find more spectacular pictures of Angel's Landing. However, Wayne loved the hike. Weston and David didn't remember much about it, so they made sure to hike it again when they were in college. A few years ago, Wayne and I hiked Huayna Picchu, (the mountain in back of Machu Picchu), and at the top we chatted with someone who said that was the second most fantastic hike he'd ever been on. Wayne replied, "The first was Angel's Landing in Zion, wasn't it?" The guy was amazed that Wayne guessed correctly. So, if you get a chance, give this awesome trail a try!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Monthly Budget Meetings

Works for Me WednesdayMonthly Budget Meetings

Last night I was asked to teach a short "math" class in Relief Society on budgeting. And I realized that, in spite of the pain it sometimes causes, monthly budget meetings work for me and Wayne. We'd always had some type of budget, but didn't necessarily follow it faithfully. That all changed on April 1, 1996 when we made the commitment to quit dipping into savings and actually live on less than we earned. I don't know that we're totally successful at it, but we're trying. Once a month we sit down together and go over the previous month's expenses and budget for the current month. We work together to distinguish between wants and needs, and then prioritize them. In addition we do our best to anticipate and prepare for future expenses - like vacations, school clothes, college tuition, Christmas, auto repairs, home improvement, insurance, retirement, you-name-it!
The process of budgeting is really quite simple.
1) Figure out what your income is.
2) Figure out what your expenses are.
3) If they don't match, figure out ways to get them to match.
4) Keep repeating the cycle.
Of course, putting it into practice isn't quite so simple, but it's in the doing that we find success. I found some terrifice resources at to help. Check out the section on Family Finances - where you can find an online course that teaches how to budget and also several online financial calculators, along with links to several other great sites.
President Heber J. Grant once said: “If there is any one thing that will bring peace and contentment into the human heart, and into the family, it is to live within our means. And if there is any one thing that is grinding and discouraging and disheartening, it is to have debts and obligations that one cannot meet” (Gospel Standards, Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1941, p. 111).

Striving to live within our means works for us.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day Weekends

Memorable Monday Moments
National Park Series # 6A

Part of the tradition of our yearly national park camping trips is to hike ALL of the trails. I'm not going to take the time to add up how many miles of trails there are in Capitol Reef, but it's more than can be hiked in one week. So, whenever we had a free weekend, we would continue to drive south and do some more. These pictures were taken in 1991 on Labor Day weekend.

"The Castle" Throwing rocks while waiting for the parents to be ready to start the hike.
Upper Muley Twist - showing the Waterpocket Fold
Finding a neat spot to take a rest

It's a good thing we had fun on those Saturday hikes, because on the way back to camp our car all of a sudden - and for no obvious reason - stopped. To make a long story short, the washboard dirt road had caused a safety bearing to pop loose and jam the carburetor cutting off the fuel supply. Fortunately, a ranch hand on his way home stopped to help and we were able to call AAA to come tow us the 40 miles to Hanksville - the nearest town. We spent the night in a dirty motel room (frogs jumped out when we opened the door) with no clean clothes and only a couple of diapers for the baby. (Fortunately, our food was all in the car so we didn't have to worry about that.) We spent several hours the next day in a dirty mechanics shop while they fixed the problem. Then we had to drive back down that same bumpy road to retrieve our tent and clothes. We were in no mood to stay in southern Utah any longer, so we drove home that night and spent Labor Day trying to recover from our "restful" mini vacation. (Oh, and on this trip I forgot the stove! That made fixing meals challenging - but since the menu was cold cereal, chicken noodle soup, and pork and beans from a can we survived.)

Fortunately, this year wasn't as exciting. To celebrate the "end of summer" we did some work around the house and then had a picnic, took a short "hike" (remember I can't call walking a bike trail hiking) and played tennis. Dad and Michelle were the winners!

We hope you all had a memorable Labor Day weekend!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Capitol Reef National Park

Flashback Friday
National Park Series #6Capitol Reef - 1989 - Wow, that brings back a lot of memories! We graduated from two little tents to one big tent. And, as you can see, our helpers were getting bigger as well.After getting the tent set up, we took a short hike to view the town of Fruita, where the campground was located. Notice it's an oasis in the middle of red rock.The next day we started driving all the park roads (the red lines), and stopping at the overlooks. This was Goosenecks.And of course we had to do some hiking. (I would guess that all of us did about 25 miles during the week, while Weston joined Wayne on an additional 15 or so. Then Wayne had his own 10+ mile hike, but we'll get to that in a minute.) This was on the Hickman Bridge trail, and it's the site of the famous "lost shoe" story (which will have to be told some other time).The boys loved all the "caves" that we stumbled across on the different trails. This one was in Grand Wash.This is River Ford. You had to drive through it to reach Cathedral Valley. That was a pretty nerve-wracking experience, at least for me. The boys thought it was pretty cool.But this is what you got to see on the other side.And this is what the southern end of the park looked like. The end of this day included a long, long drive down a bumpy dirt road (hours longer than we expected) and a closed gas station when we were out in the middle of nowhere when we needed it. Prayers work, and we were able to find a 24-hour gas station 30 miles further down the deserted road to save us from running out of gas.On our final day there, Wayne decided he wanted to hike one of the gorges (from Sheet's Canyon on the Notom-Bullfrog road to Pleasant Creek on the main park road). We dropped him off bright and early, spent the day relaxing in camp, and then drove down to pick him up. While we were waiting, the boys had a great time playing in the warm creek. However, when he was a couple of hours past the expected arrival time, it began to be less fun. We took the hour drive back to camp to see if he had showed up. When he hadn't, I contacted the ranger. We drove back to Pleasant Creek with the ranger, who was positive Wayne would be waiting for us. He wasn't. So we spent the night waiting in the car. It was a gorgeous, starry night with a full moon.
It turns out the trail wasn't marked properly! There was a fork in the creek bed that didn't show up on the map, and so he went the wrong way. Eventually he realized the mistake (after all, he does know how to read a topographical map), but by then it was too late. Consequently, Wayne insists he was never lost. He was stuck. That's because he was climbing down gullies like thisand this.Once you were at the bottom, it was impossible to go back up. So he ended up spending the night on top of a rock like this one. (The day before we left I learned that I was pregnant. It was a long night wondering if baby #4 would ever know his dad, yet the comforting peace of the Spirit assured me that he would.)The next morning he somehow figured out a way to get back to the Notom-Bullfrog road and started hiking back the long way. A rancher spotted him, gave him some water, and notified the rangers who were then able to go pick him up and give him a ride back to camp. Fortunately it didn't take long to recover from the scratches and bruises and dehydration. It was a long ordeal, but it makes a great story!

I think Brad (at 15 months) had the most fun!