Saturday, February 28, 2009

Jack Henry is 1!...YAY!

Today was Jack's 1st birthday! He was only a few hours from being a leap year baby last year--but I just didn't want to wait! (Todd would have waited--but he quickly gave in when he saw my reaction)... We had labor induced because I went into the doctor and had high blood pressure and protien in my urine, and they were afraid of pre-eclampsia. What they didn't know was that 2 hours before my appointment, I was at the lake with Todd, trying out our new boat--kind of a crazy thing to do at 8 1/2 months preggo! A few hours after his birth, I was sitting there chatting with 2 of my sister in laws who had BOTH brought me a blizzard, (YUM) and looking at my beautiful new baby. I was feeling great, and so grateful that he was here and healthy. My sister in law Katie left, and then Chris and Cindy got up to leave when I had a terrible pain in my stomach. I remarked to Todd, "Maybe I need some Perkoset", and that was the last thing I remembered. I had this wonderful dream, and woke up to smelling salts, and my husband standing over me looking terrified, and 4 or 5 nurses trying to revive me after I had passed out. When they pulled back the sheets, they were covered in blood. When my doctor came back in, he told us we would need to go in for surgery to see where the bleeding was coming from. I remember looking at the baby as they wheeled me in for surgery, and just hoping that I would see him again. I woke up a few hours later to see someone else's blood dripping into me through my I.V., (ugh..) grateful to just be alive. I needed 2 units of blood to replace all of the blood I had lost in the surgery. It was truly the scariest experience we have been through as a couple. The next few months were spent trying to decide if our family was complete or not, with much prayer and fasting. In the end, we truly felt like we were lucky to have the 6 kids we have been blessed with, and lucky that I was alive to raise them. I have been so blessed to have this little guy in my life, and we are so grateful that the Lord kept me around to be his mom!

This last year has been such a whirlwind! I think the more kids that you have, the faster time seems to pass you by. I am amazed that this baby has made it through the craziness that is our life in this house! It's funny how when you have another baby, they just seem to blend in, and after a few weeks, you forget how you ever lived without this little one in your life. He has been such a blessing to our family, and such a blessing to me. I am so grateful every day for his sweet disposition, his wonderful personality, and the way his smile melts my heart. I can't remember what life was like before he came to us, and I strongly believe that we knew each other before he was born. It's true that the more children you have, the less time you have for that one-on-one time with each of them. I have felt so many times that he is somehow getting the shaft when it comes to my attention, but then I am reminded that he has many more people who love him then my first child did. He gets love and attention from his brother and sisters, who can't get enough of him, and also from his dad, who has been able to particularly enjoy this baby--more than the others because he's been working less at this point in our lives. I think this baby gets plenty of love for being a 6th child, and I am grateful for that!
10 things I LOVE about baby Jack Jack:
1. He is SO happy ALL the time! There is rarely a time that he isn't smiling--and we LOVE that cute smile!
2. He is full of personality and LIFE! It's hard to get this boy to slow down, even for a minute!
3. He still gets up in the night on a regular basis--this may sound strange to you, but I enjoy that one on one time with my baby when it's quiet, and it's just me and him. Especially because he is my last. That being said--I have been a ZOMBIE for the last year--it's time~
4. He LOVES his brother and sisters--he loves to follow them around and give them kisses and hugs.
5. His LAUGH is so stinkin' cute--and you can't help but laugh when he is laughing.
6. He LOVES having his diaper changed, and it makes him laugh so hard. I have never had a baby who loved to let me change them. Funny...but true!
7. He likes to ride in the car and he doesn't CRY on long trips--or short errands. After having Ashlie, who would cry the entire car ride--this is such a BLESSING!
8. He LOVES to be outside. He cries if someone leaves the house and he doesn't get to go. This will be so great when softball starts again!
9. He is SO low maintenance! Seriously, you can't imagine how LITTLE attention sometimes this boy requires. I am so grateful for that some days.
10. He is AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL to me in every way--and I'm so glad I get to be his mom!
Jack--we LOVE you buddy! Happy Birthday!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Favorite Recipes...

These are some of our family's favorite freezer recipes...enjoy!

Sweet & Sour Chicken (so yummy...)
4-5 chicken breasts (cooked and cubed)
1 onion, chopped
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. vinegar
2/3 c. white sugar
1 bell pepper, chopped
2-3 carrots, sliced
1/2 c. ketchup
1 T. cornstarch
1 can (15 oz.) pineapple chunks
Brown chicken and onions in soy sauce. Add vinegar, sugar, and juice from pineapple chunks. Add veggies. Stir in ketchup. Mix cornstarch w/ 1/4 c. water. Add to mixture and stir until thickened; add pineapple. Cool. Pour into freezer bag and freeze. Serve over rice.

Delicious Pot Roast (this gravy is to die for!)
2 or 3 lb. pot roast trimmed of fat
2 c. tomato juice
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. dry mustard
1 T. salt
1 t. ground pepper
Put pot roast in freezer bag. Mix remaining ingredients together, pour over roast. Freeze. Cook in crock pot for 8-10 hrs. until tender. Use cornstarch to thicken drippings for gravy.

Shredded beef for chimichangas or tacos (put this recipe in the crock pot first on cooking day)
2-3 lb. pot roast
1 jar salsa verde
1 can green chilies
1 can refried beans
Cook the meat, salsa verde, and green chilies on low for 8-10 hours or until tender. Shred with a fork. Put back into the crockpot, and add refried beans. Stir together. You can either make burritos ahead of time, and freeze in a casserole dish, or you can freeze meat in one bag, and the tortillas in another to assemble them later. This recipe works equally as well with a pork roast.

Sensational Sloppy Joes (you have to just trust me on the grape jelly...)
2-3 lbs. ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
1 can (10 oz.) tomato soup
1 1/4 c. ketchup
1 T. cider vinegar
1 T. prepared mustard
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
3 T. grape jelly
1/4 c. brown sugar
Cook ground beef and onions. Mix all of the other ingredients together and pour over gr. beef mixture. Cook and stir until combined. Cool. Freeze.

Citrus Chicken (great on the grill..)
6 blsl chicken breasts
2 T. lime juice
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. orange juice
2 T. balsamic vinegar
3 T. honey
1 t. dijon mustard
1 t. paprika
1 1/2 t. minced garlic
Put chicken into freezer bag. Mix other ingredients together and pour over chicken. Freeze. This is one of my favorite summer grilling recipes.

These are just a few of our favorites. I have a recipe book that I have made where I copy my favorites out of the books I like, so I can have them all in one place, and I have sheet protectors on them so that I don't get my favorite recipe books dirty while I am cooking. This has worked well for me. If your family has a favorite recipe--chances are, you can freeze it. The only thing you have to watch out for is pasta--gets soggy if it's frozen, so you have to undercook it, same thing with rice. Just experiment with your favorites, and you can usually come up with a way to make it work! Have fun trying!

Freezer Cooking: Tips for success...

Okay, so many people have asked me about my freezer cooking marathon that I did, that I thought I'd post a few tips, and some of my favorite recipes here so you could give it a try if you want to. The first thing I would say, is be realistic--don't try to do too much on your first try, or you will never do it again. Second, cooking with a friend is seriously more fun, and much faster. If you have a good friend, with families about the same size, it is so much easier to do half the shopping, and half the cooking, then take home half the meals. The first few times I did cooking sessions, I did them with my best friend. We cooked 40 meals, split the cost, and each took 20 home. It was so much fun, and each of us worked on making 2 of one recipe, so it went so much faster.
Next, you need to decide on how many meals to cook. A good first session (by yourself) would be 5 to 10 meals, making 2 of each--20 meals altogether. If you did this twice a month, you would always have a good supply of meals, and a good selection to rotate through. I usually go through my books and pick like a few chicken, a few beef, and a few pork recipes, so that I have a good mix of meals to choose from. You can suit these to your families tastes. You also want to be careful that you don't pick too many recipes that need to be cooked beforehand. My favorite recipes are ones where you throw the meat into the bag, pour a sauce over it, and freeze. They are quick and easy, and the meat tastes wonderful marinated all day when you defrost it.
I have several books that I like with great meals in them. The first one is called 30-Day Gourmet, by Nancy Slagle. You can order it from It is full of great recipes, tips, and worksheets you can use to figure out how much of everything you need. Once you have the book, it will give you a password for access to the website with literally thousands of great recipes. Another book is called Once a Month Cooking, by Mimi Wilson. Another great one is called Girlfriends on the Go, by Suzie Roberts. This one is actually a book for groups who are doing a cooking co-op, where you pick 5 or 6 women to join your cooking group, and each of you makes 10 of the same meal, then you go home with 10 different meals. I think this is an interesting idea--and would like to try it sometime, but have never been organized enough to pull it together. Maybe you'll be better than me!
Next, pick the day that you want to cook. It should be a day that you aren't super busy and you can devote the day to cooking. You want to do your shopping/preparation the day before you cook so you are working with fresh ingredients. I usually look through ads to find the meat that I need on sale, and go to a few different stores to buy that. I usually just buy the rest of the ingredients at Walmart, just because it's easier. When you get home from the store, put your ingredients away, then start preparation work. If you will just cook your chicken that needs cooked and diced, cook your ground beef, chop your vegetables, etc. it will really help to speed your cooking day up! Also, make sure you turn up your freezer all the way the night before so that the food will freeze faster.
Cooking day, I usually work on one recipe at a time, making 2 of each recipe. You can use freezer bags, gallon and quart size for most recipes, but for casseroles or lasagna you may need disposable tins. Just be aware of how many you need when you shop. I usually do one meat at a time, like start with chicken, then work on beef, etc. It helps me if I clean as I go, so that the kitchen doesn't become too messy. I have found that food storage size cans work well to put the freezer bag in, fold it down over the sides, then you can add your ingredients to it so they don't spill all over. If you do have to cook some of the recipes before freezing, just make sure that you wait for them to cool before pouring them into bags--they WILL melt. Trust me on that one. When you are putting things into the freezer, label them with the recipe and date, and freeze them flat one on top of the other so you can fit more in.
Next, I will post some of my favorite recipes. You can copy/paste these into a printable format on your computer, and give them a try. I will only post ones that we have tried, and EVERYONE likes! Even though freezer cooking sounds like a chore--I have found that it's really a relief on some days to have something I can just take out and cook. It actually saves you a lot of time and money in the long run. Have fun!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Crazy Politics...

I spend way too much time talking about, thinking about, ranting about politics on this blog! So, instead of subjecting everyone who reads this blog to my crazy politics, I decided to start a new blog, dedicated to my passion for politics, where I can rant and rave all I want! My goal is to be informative, provacative, and to expose politicians who I believe are corrupt, and aim to destroy the principles that we as Americans believe in. So this blog, is my journal, and my scrapbook for my family, my other blog will be purely political--my outlet to have my temper tantrums about politics on a daily basis! If you want to, check it out! The new blog:

If nothing else, it might give you a good laugh! :) I will also put the new link on my blog roll, so you don't have to save it! Enjoy...(although, beware if you are a liberal Democrat--it might be highly offensive...just a warning...)!

More Delusions of Grandeur...

Last weekend it all came to a head in the Allen household. It seemed like the straw finally broke the camel's back--(where the heck does that stupid saying come from anyway? I'll have to look on Wikipedia...but I digress...)and it came crashing down--hard! It all started when I told the girls to get ready to go to a softball clinic that they were having at Red Mountain High School, and Erin promptly informed me that she would rather die than have to go to that "stupid, boring, retarded clinic, where all they do is make you stand around and talk about stuff like how to pitch, throw, catch, etc..." (okay, so that isn't an exact quote-- but you get the point). Todd was in on this conversation, and says, I don't know why we pay for all of these things, when the kids don't even want to do them, and don't appreciate it anyway. We pay for piano lessons, dance lessons, softball/baseball, swim team, etc., etc., etc.. We do this, and all we get is grief. The kids complain, whine, and even cry when we try to get them from place to place, and try to make them practice. Not only that, but when they are doing it against their will--they sometimes don't even try. I went to a few of Emie's intramural volleyball games this season (which are stupid anyway--I don't know why Mesa Public Schools doesn't have it all together enough to have actual competitive sports in Junior high--it's ridiculous...but I digress again...) and saw her and most of her friends totally goofing off, and dinking around instead of trying to actually win a game. Being as competitive as I am, it drove me completely nuts! Erin is totally talented in sports, but feels like she knows everything--no one could possibly teach her anything--not even her coach. Abby, bless her heart, has been in piano lessons for over 3 years, and you ask her where middle C is on the piano, and she pauses for 10 seconds--and I lose it every time! IT'S RIGHT THERE--ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? I think sometimes that if I didn't require them to do anything, my children would be happy to spend their lives sitting on the couch, eating munchies, watching TV, and never leaving the house. But if I allow them to do that--I will never be rid of them! Don't get me wrong, I love my children, and I would do anything for them, but sometimes they drive me CRAZY!
That being said, what is it about being a Mormon mother that makes me feel like my kids must be multi-talented, sing in the choir, play the piano and violin, play many different sports, give amazing talks in church, (that are completely memorized), belong to different clubs at school, be proficient at cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, get all A's in school, etc. etc. etc., in order for me to say that I have been a good mother? That is above and beyond all of the expectations that I have for myself. I have to have my year's supply, (hidden inconspicuously in places throughout my home), keep my home sparkling clean, have well groomed, kind, loving, respectful children, do my church callings faithfully, exercise regularly, prepare nutritious meals for my family, teach my children the gospel, unteach them the things that are crap that they learn at school, do service for people, share the gospel with my friends and neighbors, do my visiting teaching, make treats so my husband can do his home teaching, hold regular scripture study, family home evenings, family prayers, teach my children to read, write, and do general math, not to mention driving the little ingrates (I say that most affectionately) to all of the lessons and teams that I signed them up for (against their will), fighting daily with them over piano practicing, chores, stopping constant fighting and bickering, etc. etc. etc., so that I can say that I have done my job as a mother. This doesn't even include all of the things that I need to do to say that I'm a good wife--that would be a whole other post...and I'm not willing to go into that at this moment!

So how do you all juggle it? I know you are out there--you know who you are, those perfect mothers that I look at and think, "why can't I have it all together like so and so does??". I know they tell women we shouldn't compare ourselves to each other, but how can you not? I also know there are women out there who just finally lose it, because we simply put to much pressure on ourselves and our children to be something that we can never be. Somewhere there has to be a balance between Super Mormon Mother, and Looney Bin Housewife, I just can't find it. So what's your solution? How do we have happy, motivated children without pushing them over the edge? How do I find a medium between total chaos, and an organized home? Do you have ideas for me--(that don't include Zoloft...)?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chicken Soup...

It's been a crazy few days at our house! Kids in this house are dropping like flies! The little head cold started last week with little Jack, and it's gone through 5 of my 6 kids in 5 days! Not to mention--ME! Ugh. Last night I had been up all night with Jack and Ashlie, and didn't feel too hot myself, so I slept in this morning. I was still sleeping at 9 a.m., when my good Bishop's wife called to see if I would be willing to go on a discussion with the missionaries. Anyone who has called me early in the morning knows that I always sound like crap anyway--but I must have sounded worse then I felt even because she could immediately tell that I wasn't feeling well. Erin was home and had answered the phone the same way. I let her know that our family was all sick, and she asked if there was anything she could do for us. I told her we would be okay, and thank you and she hung up. Later that morning, I left to go and get Josh from school, another one down--101 fever, and came back to my neighbor bringing us dinner--chicken soup and homemade bread from my Bishop's wife, that she had brought while I was gone. This is one of the busiest women that I know--and yet, she took the time, on short notice to think of me and my family. I want her to know that I really appreciated that chicken soup--and most of all I appreciated the love and care that went into it. I know how much she sacrifices for her husband to serve our ward like he does, and for her to not hesitate to serve me and my family meant the world to me. Thank you Kay!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Snow Campout...

Todd went on the snow campout with the Teachers from our ward this weekend. This is the yearly outing where the young men go out to the wilderness, and camp out in the snow to prove their manhood to the world. You have to know my husband to appreciate this--but he is seriously a polar bear. He is never cold. In fact, it could be 20 degrees outside, and my husband would have the air conditioning on in the car, and when I go to turn on the heat he will say, "really? I'm sweating!" That's his standard answer when I say, "I'm cold"--he says, "I'm sweating". It's actually become quite a joke because he says it almost as a reflex--like without thinking about it. He cracks me up. So the first time he went on this campout a few years ago, he took his little Walmart $20 sleeping bag, with a little quilt, a sweatshirt, and some windbreaker pants--you know, just in case it got cold. He planned on sleeping in the back of our Suburban, so how cold could it get? Then, night came--and my sweet polar bear curled up for a great night's sleep in just his underwear--because don't you know it's actually warmer to sleep in less clothing? I still don't get how you come to that conclusion... Anyway, this particular night, it got down into the teens, and my poor sweet husband had such a terrible night. He ended up getting up in the middle of the night and starting our car to turn on the heater he was so cold--which ended up waking up everyone in the camp because we had this muffler thing on our Suburban that was really loud. I think that's the first time I have heard of him actually turning ON the heater! He got home and I was cracking up at his story, but actually felt sorry for him looking at how haggard he looked, and the big bags under his eyes. So the next year, my husband wised up--he took his Cabela's gift cards he got for Christmas--and purchased his ticket to a warm, snuggly snow campout for many years to come--a new sub-zero sleeping bag, and a nice thick camping pad to lay on! It only takes once to learn that lesson!

In all actuality, I don't know if the snow campout in Arizona can actually prove your manhood or not--it barely gets to like 20 degrees--even when you go up to the snow. So the scouts in Arizona should actually have to take a trek up to Utah where it gets seriously cold in order to prove their manhood. I was reminded this weekend of a story my sister Wendy posted on her blog a month ago when her husband and son went on this very campout. I was laughing my head off so I'm posting it here so you guys can laugh too--This is one of the few times we are glad that we're women!

(The Man) Scout CampOut...
"Owen and Mitchell went to the Scout house at 5:00 on Friday night for some yummy dinner and fun games till 10:00 then it was time to be a man and campout in their tents... To me this would be fine in Arizona but Utah in January are you kidding me???? It was maybe 20 degrees outside and it had rained all day and then all night and the fog was so bad you couldn't even see... Owen came home on Saturday after eating a yummy breakfast and said he was frozen all night... I asked him about his sleeping bag and said he had put it under them and he had slept with two blankets over him... He woke up the first time and put on his extra pair of socks, then woke up to put on his jacket, then woke up to put on his gloves, and then he woke up all night long because he was freezing!!!!! Owen said that was the coldest he has ever been in his life... Mitchell on the other hand woke up in the morning and turned to Owen and said Dad my sleeping bag was so warm... -Owen told him to be quiet-Mitchell had a good night sleep and was ready for the day : ) Needless to say Owen took a nap and later felt better... So I call it the MAN scout campout because I am so glad to be the WOMAN-MOM and stay in my warm house and sleep in my warm bed... Sorry boys but sometimes I think you are CRAZY... All in all they had a really good time and they will have lots of fun memories... Owen is soooo looking forward to the winter campout where they campout in the snow.... I am sure Owen will sleep in his sleeping bag this time.... All I can say is HAVE FUN BOYS!!!!"

Friday, February 20, 2009

Freezer cooking...

So today I was literally slavin' away in the kitchen! I got up at 7 a.m. and started cooking meals for the freezer. I was able to get a bunch of meat on sale this week, and since I haven't cooked dinner in awhile--(meaning since last Feb. when Jack was born)--I thought I'd get on the ball and make a bunch of dinners to head off the softball/baseball season which is coming up way too fast! Sometimes I make myself laugh though because I get excited about starting a big project, and then halfway through it today I am thinking..."Why the heck did I think I could do this???" Seriously, it is one thing when you spend a day cooking with a 2 or 3 year old, and you just have to stop once in awhile to put on a new movie, or feed them a meal. It's not the same with a 1 yr. old, who was in trouble the whole day, not to mention he's not feeling well, so he just wanted to be held. So I was carting around a toddler on my hip all day while I was cooking, and I realize that I am 12 hours into this thing, and only about halfway through cooking.

I seriously have these delusions of grandeur sometimes! Why do I do that to myself? Not only did I set out to cook freezer meals, but I picked 20 recipes with the intention of cooking 2 of each meal. HELLO??? I am like a crazy nut job! Actually, I finished 28 of the meals, then Jack went to bed and I was able to do the last ones. Next time I think I will be more realistic and only do 20 at a time. I AM glad that I have some dinners though. I like cooking them all at once, then just having to take them out the night before and thaw them. It saves me from the age old 6:00 question, "What's for dinner???" (Most of you probably ask that question before 6:00--welcome to my life!) I hate that! I also hate going to make something, and then you're missing like 1 or 2 things, so I have to go to the store. People who find out that I do freezer meals are like--oh you're so organized. Yeah right--it's because I'm NOT organized that I try to do it this way. I hate planning out a menu, and trying to decide what to make every day for dinner. It's a few days of drudgery that pay off with several days when I don't have to decide what's for dinner at the last minute--or even worse show up at Taco Bell!

So yay me, and yay for a months worth of yummy dinners, and yay for whoever thought this whole freezer meal idea up--I'm lovin' it! (now that I'm through...). The only thing that sucks is that now I have to clean the kitchen--uuugh! That will have to wait until tomorrow...I've done enough work for the day! Check this out--and this is only the inside freezer--the one in my garage has 12 more! Hooray!

Ashlie's playgroup...

We have so many cute little girls in our ward, and we got some of us together to do a little playgroup on Fridays so they could all play during the week. Today it was at Trena's house, and she took some cute little pictures of the girls that she e-mailed me! I haven't taken pictures before at playgroup, so I thought I'd post them here! They are such a fun little group of girls--even though when they scream at the top of their lungs it gets a little loud sometimes! It's been fun for Ashlie to get to know her friends from church better! Thanks Trena!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Glenn Beck on Money...

I love Glenn Beck--he speaks my language--plain English, that even my pea-sized brain can handle. Listen to him explain just how unprecedented this economic crisis is--it will amaze you! And hopefully scare you a little too...

Random Tag...

So I got tagged by Ashley--here are the rules:
Random Tag
Post the rules on your blog.
List 6 random things about you.
Tag 6 people at the end of your post.
Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a message on their blog.
Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Here we go:

1. I am a talk radio junkie--I seriously rarely listen to music anymore because the talk radio is always on. My favorites: Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Mac and Gados in the afternoon. I should really listen to more music, maybe I'd be less of a freak about the state of our country right now!

2. I love to paint and decorate. One of the frustrations of having so many children and so little time is that I don't have much time to do either! I also love shopping for the perfect accessories for a room.

3. I talk WAY too much. I often find myself cutting people off during a conversation--and it drives my husband CRAZY when I do that. Watch him the next time we are talking, if I cut you off he will often kick me or do the googly eye thing at me to get me to quit talking. It embarasses him! I just get excited to talk to an adult person, and I can't help myself sometimes!

4. I played 3 sports in high school, volleyball, basketball, track, and played softball during the whole summer for church ball. I was pretty okay too--I was the runner-up in state in the 400M dash my senior year, only losing by 1/4 of a second. We were the state champs my senior year in volleyball, and in the 400M relay! I could also high jump 5'7"--2" taller than I am! Seems like a lifetime ago!

5. I never thought I would LOVE being a mom! I always pictured myself in a fabulous career, until I got a job in a day care center in college. After working there 3 years, I decided that a child is better off at home with mom--and that's where I stayed after I had Emie. There have been times we have struggled--but I have never regretted that decision!

6. I love to go on vacation! Growing up, we took little trips here and there to see relatives, but since I've been married, I have been able to travel to different parts of the country, and I LOVE to travel and see new places! We have a hard time planning our vacations because there are so many places we want to go and so little time to go there! I might be able to see all that I want before I die...maybe...

I'm not tagging anyone--but it would be fun to read your random answers! I love learning new things about people!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Check this out...

Our financial system is a mess--and no doubt it's all President Bush's fault, right? That's what the media will tell you, and what you will hear from President Obama for the next 4 years, but who's fault is it really? Listen to BOZO the clown, otherwise known as Barney Frank in this video poo poo the problem over 4 years ago. This is the chairman of the House committee in charge of housing in America--(also a man who ran a gay prostitution ring from his apartment in Washington, D.C., and still gets re-elected time and time again--he's a real winner!) uugh. It's amazing how few people actually know who's fault this crisis really is--and it lies right at the feet if the Democrats in congress (and yes, in the Senate--Mr. Obama) who were PUSHING for MORE loans to people who couldn't qualify, and receiving kickbacks from those companies who have pushed the economy over the edge. These are the people who are going to save the economy by spending trillions more dollars on WHAT? Do you even know what is in this new "stimulus bill"? Time to wake up America--Obama is going to "change" this country alright--into a country we don't even recognize anymore. Scary times...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Would you just carry me?

Todd and I have been trying for the last few months to make some important decisions in our family. As many of you know, Todd sold his business last summer, and we have been trying to decide what to do now. It's an interesting time to figure out a new career. The economy is slow and just any business won't fly right now. Sometimes it's frustrating, trying to figure out what the Lord wants from us. When we were thinking of selling, it was not a descision we took lightly. In fact, it was a really stressful time, mostly because we didn't agree on what we should do, and it took months before he convinced me that this was what he REALLY wanted to do. He was burned out--it's a 24/7 business after all, and not the funnest thing to do, spend each day with families who are having the worst day of their lives. He was yearning for a change, and I wasn't ready for it. I'm not so great at change. I guess I just like continuity in my life--it makes me feel safe. Todd is more adventurous, he bores of the same-old thing, and if he wasn't married to someone boring like me, I'm pretty sure he would have lived in several states by now--maybe even different countries!
Now, we're in this place, and I know we're here for a reason. We're at a crossroads, yet again, and trying to decide what to do with our lives, and it's stressful. Did you ever pray for answers, and all you get is--well--NOTHING? That is where I feel like we are at right now. We have been trying to work some things out, make some decisions, and I keep praying to know what is right for our family, and I get nothing either way. You know when your toddler has just learned to walk, and you are so happy that they can get around on their own, and then they go through that phase where they just want to be held--ALL the time? And you're like--just walk! You're heavy--I don't want to hold you all the time! I've been thinking that's how the Lord feels about me right now. I feel like saying, "Would you just carry me? I don't want to walk on my own." I know that part of the plan is that I have my free agency. I know that the Lord doesn't command us in all things, and that if it were imperative that I NOT do something, he would let me know, but at the same time I wonder if He is proud of me, if I am making the right decisions for my family, for their future. I hope that we are doing what He wants us to do.
Don't get me wrong--I feel so blessed right now. I look around at so many people who are suffering right now, this economy has affected so many families, and so many lives. People all around us are hurting, and I am so grateful to be in the position that we are in right now. I know that is such a blessing, and I know that Heavenly Father is mindful of us in all that we do. I don't want to sound like I am complaining at all, I just want to know that I am doing the Lord's will, that I am following His plan for me, that's all. Sometimes, I guess we just have to show God that we can walk on our own, and then, if we are faithful, He will carry us when He needs to.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Poor Baby...

Check out what my bro-in-law (the endodontist) sent yesterday while Todd was in his chair getting a root canal. I was cracking up! What a good lookin guy! Thanks Shaun--Todd feels much better, and he's not as grumpy! Hallelujah!


After 6 weeks, and several doctors and appointments, and $1,800 in bills so far, we are still trying to figure out the problem with Josh's hand. His arm has lots of scar tissue from his injury, and his hand still doesn't respond or work the way it should be working. He has full movement in his arm, but his fingers still don't work the way they are supposed to. The orthopedist didn't even notice the problem until 3 weeks into this thing, and told us that it was probably fine, and it just might take a few months to heal. Not being that patient, we asked Todd's brother Dr. Chris for a referral to a physical therapist, thinking that we could speed up the healing process. He referred us to the nicest guy--Moore physical therapy on Power and Baseline (who offered to do the therapy for free by the way--what a blessing). He worked with Josh on Wednesday, just trying to figure out what the problem could be, and hooked him up to a nerve stimulator machine. Josh didn't respond at all to the stimulator, which was strange since they hooked it up to Todd, and his hand moved immediately. He told me he would do some research for me, and to come back in today for another session. When I got there, he told me that he had done some research, and was pretty sure that he had narrowed it down to the exact problem--a nerve called the Posterior Interoseus Branch of the Radial Nerve. Long story short, he said that we probably shouldn't be using his hand at all, and gave me the name of a physical therapist who works with just hand injuries who could build a splint for Josh to keep the injury isolated until we could get to a neurologist who can do tests on the nerves to tell us whether this is something that can be fixed, or it is a permanent injury where the nerve was permanently damaged.
The next few weeks will probably bring some more answers as we see more doctors, and I should probably just be grateful that this little boy is alive, but in the back of my mind I just have this sinking feeling that this injury might just be permanent, and I can't help thinking of what that would mean for this active little boy with his whole life ahead of him. Don't get me wrong, I know compared to some problems other children face, this is such a minor one, but you always want your children to be perfect, to face no significant challenges in their lives, and this would be a challenge for him to say the least. He was trying to put his baseball glove on yesterday, and so frustrated that he couldn't spread his fingers out to keep the glove on his hand. It just made me so sad to think he might not be able to play again. Then there's the guilt that we left and went on this vacation for two weeks thinking that it would be healed when we got back, when maybe we should've taken him to the neurologist weeks ago. I guess I just have to have faith, and trust that everything happens for a reason, even when we don't understand. At this point we can only pray, and hope for the best.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Girls Night Out!

Okay, so I copied Todd's cousin Tyler's idea for a favorites night check out hers HERE--and we decided to have our first one right before Valentines Day, so if our husbands don't get us anything we get something anyway! Genius right? This time, I did my favorites, but we might tweak it a bit next time so that we all just bring a favorite thing and exchange it. When you are buying something for 9 other people, it adds up really fast! These were just a few of my favorite things--(under a few dollars!) they are kinda silly, but that's what made it fun! Instead of making my favorite dinner--we went to Fuddruckers, my favorite place for a good-ole American hamburger and fries, (I have been craving a good American meal since I got home from Israel)! They also have my favorite dessert--awesome homemade rice crispy treats! It was so much fun--THANKS GIRLS!
Loreal Endless Lipcoulor--Love this stuff, it stays on all day!
Omar's olivewood--from Bob and Sue!My favorite place in the mall--Try the Sinful Cinnamon, YUM!Tim Tam Slam--our favorite cookies from Israel. You bite off both ends then suck the milk up through them like a straw then eat it. YUM!These were my kids favorite candy bar that Bob and Sue sent home from Israel. It's milk chocolate with pop rocks inside!Love these for doing dishes--can't live without them!If it weren't for these razors, my legs would be a mess of red dots and razor burn! You only have to use water to shave, they are simple and quick. Expensive--but worth every penny, especially if your skin is sensitive like mine!Love this new Bath and Body aromatherapy line--hey, I'll give anything a shot that says it will relieve stress, and help me focus!
If you used to be a regular Coke addict, then you switched to Diet Coke because you had too many kids and got fatter--then you will LOVE Coke Zero. If you've always liked Diet Coke--you may think it's too sweeet. I LOVE it! Try it with the Cajun Trail Mix below--it's awesome!
My favorite trail mix from Walmart--this is the only one I like to eat everything together--the other ones I pick through. Sweet and spicy--YUM!My favorite toothpaste--love the cinnamon, and it leaves my mouth all clean and tingly!OF COURSE--THESE ARE MY ADDICTION!Instead of Crystal Light, this tastes like grape Koolaid--love it!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Today's interesting read comes via Townhall HERE and the original story HERE. It seems in 2006, a baby was born at an abortion clinic, before it could be aborted. What did the doctor do? He put it in a bag and threw it out into the trash can. Now the mother is suing the abortionist, and the authorities are pursuing charges against him for doing what she came in to have done in the first place...killing the baby. What is the difference? So if the baby takes a breath, then it is a human, but if it is killed in the womb it is just a growth or tumor? Does this make sense to you? I have met so many people who say, well, I am pro choice because it's not my business what another woman does with her body. I say baloney--I am pro life because I believe that a baby is a baby is a baby--in the womb or out, 2 weeks old or 8 months old--no matter what. Life is a gift from God, and abortion snuffs out a life--period. What kind of people, what kind of society allows this to happen? I don't think this issue is that difficult. What do you think?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Israel Day Twelve!

Today we got up and I told Todd—I need to get some shopping done! We have been here 2 weeks, and I haven’t even bought any souvenirs—except for some olive wood nativities that we found in Bethlehem for a reasonable price. So shopping was priority one for me! After driving for an hour looking for a parking spot, we went to see the guy that Bob and Sue like in the Old City named Shaban. He deals a lot with the Mormons, and they have come to like him there. If he doesn’t have what you want, he can get it for you. He dressed Todd and I up, and we just had to buy these awesome costumes! Don’t we look awesome? I bought my sister a chess set, some Oreo mugs for my Dad, t-shirts for the kids (my favorite ones say “Holy Rock CafĂ©” Jerusalem), and awesome genuine widow’s mites that he put into necklaces for me. He even showed me a reference book of old coins so that I would know that they were really the widow’s mites that it talks about in the scriptures. I love them! I also took some video while we were walking around the Old City—check out how many people there are, and I even got another lady with a laundry basket on her head-AWESOME!

We went over and were able to get a parking place by the City of David, where Hezekiah’s Tunnel is. This is a tunnel that was dug over 2,700 years ago to bring fresh water into Jerusalem from the Gihon Springs. There were a ton of people there, and a lot of commotion. We were asking what was going on—and it turns out that Benjamin Netanyahu, who is a candidate for Prime Minister of Israel, was coming here for a campaign visit. So there were like 50 paparazzi who swarmed around him when he got there and it was just crazy. Wouldn’t you know it—this was the only place I didn’t have my camera the whole time we were here because Hezekiah’s tunnel still has water running through it, and I knew we would be waist deep in water during this tour, so I left it in the car. So, I was 10 feet from Netanyahu—who very well could be the next Prime Minister, and don’t have a picture of him! It was funny because Bob had his video camera and got right in with the paparazzi and pushed his way up there to get his own video. He is so funny! If he posts his video I will link to it!

Hezekiah’s tunnel was so awesome! I didn’t think I would like it, because I was going to get wet, and I thought that a 2,700 year old tunnel would be gross and dirty—but it was absolutely amazing! Totally not what I thought! The account of the construction of Hezekiah's water tunnel under Jerusalem by King Hezekiah shortly before the city was besieged by Sennacherib in about 701 BC is described in 2 Kings 20:20 and 2 Chronicles 32:2-4, 30. Archaeologists discovered the tunnel in the 19th century. It is a third of a mile long, mostly less than three feet wide, and, in a few places, less than five feet in height. It winds under the City of David from the Gihon Spring, an important site in Old Testament Jerusalem, to the Pool of Siloam, an important New Testament period site.
We were able to walk through the entire tunnel, lit only by our flashlights, wading through thigh-high water—(too bad we aren’t taller)! This was one of the highlights of our trip! The water was cold—but clean, and the tunnel was amazing to walk through (as long as you aren’t clausterphobic)!
Here are the Biblical accounts describing the construction of the tunnel:
When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and that he intended to make war on Jerusalem, he consulted with his officials and military staff about blocking off the water from the springs outside the city, and they helped him. A large force of men assembled, and they blocked all the springs and the stream that flowed through the land. "Why should the kings of Assyria come and find plenty of water?" they said.2 Chronicles 32:2-4
It was Hezekiah who blocked the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and channeled the water down to the west side of the City of David. He succeeded in everything he undertook. 2 Chronicles 32:30
The builders of the tunnel who dug from both sides, and met in the middle, left their own account of the work carved into the rock wall near the tunnel outlet into the Pool of Siloam. The inscription (called the Siloam Inscription) was found in 1880 and is now in the Istanbul Museum. It reads:
"... the tunneling through. And this is the account of the tunneling through. While [the workmen raised] the pick each toward his fellow and while there [remained] to be tunneled [through, there was heard] the voice of a man calling to his fellow, for there was a split in the rock on the right hand and on [the left hand]. And on the day of the tunneling through the workmen stuck, each in the direction of his fellow, pick against pick. And the water started flowing from the source to the pool, twelve hundred cubits. And the height of the rock above the head of the workmen was a hundred cubits."

We stopped after we were done by the pool of Siloam and listened to another groups tour guide tell us the story about Jesus at the pool of Siloam healing the man who was blind, and also the story of Jesus telling the people that if any man thirsts, and desires living water, to come unto him, and live. It was very touching, and brought a new meaning to the story when you think about the fact that there was a terrible drought in the land, and when he told people that HE was the living water—they thought he was a little nuts. Sometimes I think that I go through spiritual droughts, and I need to drink of the living water that the Savior offers—I will try to remember the lesson we learned from that story. This was such a fun day—and what would top it off better than yet ANOTHER parking ticket on the car when we got back! Are you kidding me? I think it must be a conspiracy!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Israel Day Eleven!

Today, we got up early to try to get to some of the sites here in Jerusalem that we didn’t see last week. Yad Vashem was our first stop. This is the Holocaust museum, where they have gathered an amazing amount of memorabilia, and bits of history from the survivors and families of the Holocaust. The museum didn’t allow cameras to be brought in, so I tried to copy and paste some pictures from the internet. It was amazing to sit and listen to the stories, and the history of these people. It was actually very emotional for me. I kept trying to hold tears in, as I listened to stories, and saw pictures of the horrors that were committed by the Nazis during this war. Not only did they commit these atrocities, but they had the audacity to film them and photograph them, and it was amazing to me the look on the soldiers faces as they brutalized these people. They looked proud, and defiant, and sometimes just plain gleeful as they murdered and terrorized the Jewish people. It’s hard to understand how 6,000,000—six MILLION Jews—men, women and children, were killed, and so many governments, even religious groups could look the other way. I just don’t think people wanted to face what was happening. It was terrible. One of my favorite places was the Children’s Memorial where you walk into a dark room, with candles burning, and mirrors all around so that the number of candles seems endless. They have a recording with the names of the children who were killed, their ages, and where they were from. I counted the names during the time it took us to walk through the memorial, and in that 5 minutes or so, there were 13 names said. That is 13 out of the 1,500,000 children who were killed—can you imagine how long you would have to stay in that room to actually hear ALL of the names of those children who were killed? The magnitude of that number is amazing when you think of your children, and the heartache you would feel were you to lose even one child. These were PEOPLE! Each one had a mother, a father, a family who loved them. When you think of each person, individually, that is when you can begin to grasp the horror of what happened during the Holocaust, just because of the things that they believed in, just because of their religion. I think that as Mormons, we have a special connection, and a special understanding of this type of persecution. Many of us have ancestors that were persecuted, or even killed because of our religion. Our experience was miniscule when compared to that of the Jews, but we need to make sure that we are teaching our children about this history so that it is never repeated. All of us bear a responsibility to make sure that the world does not forget what happened, and so that we don’t look the other way when atrocities are committed against other people. This quote sums up the day:
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out-- because I was not a communist;Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out-- because I was not a socialist;Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out-- because I was not a unionist;Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-- because I was not a Jew;Then they came for me-- and there was no one left to speak out for me.We went over to a Jewish shopping area called the Shuke, where we walked around looking at all of the Jewish foods and shops. It was a really neat place, and we hit a great candy shop where we picked up some of our favorite candies, chocolate almonds. We also hit this great schwarma place, on Ben Yahuda street that was just packed with people. There was hardly room enough to eat there were so many people. It was for good reason—the food was awesome! Next, we headed over to the Old City to go to the Kotel Tunnel, which is an ancient tunnel dug out under the city. This tunnel takes you down to where the Western wall was 2,000 years ago, when Christ was here. You can actually see the wall that King Herod built, you can tell because of his building style. Each stone was beveled, and no mortar was used, they were set one stone exactly on top of the other. We also got to see a huge 600 ton stone in the middle of the wall, about 30-40 feet off the ground that they managed to get into place somehow. The tour guide said she didn’t think it was a miracle, there must be an explanation—but after seeing Caesarea, I think that much of what King Herod built is a miracle! I don’t know how he built such magnificent structures with the primitive tools that they had back then. It’s just amazing! We got to see the original wall, stand on the original street, and see some original Herodian structures, including this column, and stairway. Today, we truly walked where Jesus walked! Awesome!We also got to see a place where the wall is the closest to where the Holy of Holies was in the Herodian Temple, and also Solomon’s Temple. There are prayers in the wall here as well, and chairs set up so that Jews can come and pray here. There is constant archaeology going on at this site, and they are constantly finding out new things about this place. So much history here! We were watching the Jews who come to pray at the Western Wall, and I was able to bring my camera this time because it wasn't their sabbath, so I was able to get some amazing pictures and video of this. It is fascinating to me to see the way they pray and worship. They bring their Torah, and read at the wall, and rock back and forth, like they are in a trance or something. We were even able to get into the women’s area where they can watch the men pray. It is just really cool to see the different types of Jews, and their customs and the different ways that they worship at the wall. I will post the video, but here are some of the great pictures of people worshiping at the wall. I especially love the one of this soldier—I saw him as he came off the wall, and his eyes were all swollen from crying. It was really neat. BTW, don’t Bob and Todd look cute in their keepas? The men have to put one on before they are allowed to go down to the wall. Love it! To top off a wonderful day, we got back to our car, and wouldn’t you know it—a parking ticket! UUGH! It’s hard to find parking in this city!
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