Thursday, November 10, 2011

Once, When I Was a Teacher

If you have read the Five Things About Me section then you know I grew up in Canada. That means I learned to spell and pronounce things the "Canadian way."

Well, I came to the good ole USA in college where I met and married the man of my dreams. As sometimes happens, I graduated before he did, so I was his sugar momma for two years! (But, it wasn't all that sweet - we lived off of a teacher's salary! He, he!)

Anyway, the point of this story is that I lead my poor first graders astray . . . 

It was a Monday morning and we began our spelling list for the week. At our school it's introduced as a test to get the students thinking about the spelling. Well, one of the sight words (meaning it's not spelled the way it sounds, it does not follow the rules!) was the word "been." Okay. Pretty simple.

Well, when I introduced this work and even put it in a sentence, "have you ever BEEN to the movies?" there was nothing but confusion on my poor student's faces. No pencils were hurriedly scribbling this new word. No one moved. I was beginning to wonder what was happening when one brave little six-year-old raised his hand and boldly stated, "I don't know that word!"

It's true, too. He did not know that word. No one in the room did because I grew up pronouncing it the same way you pronounce the word BEAN!!! So I had said, "BEAN. Have you ever BEAN to the movies?" No! What does that even mean???

Well, we took that word off the list and tried it again the next week. I spoke with my director and sure enough, you crazy Americans pronounce it BIN. (Don't be offended. I too am a crazy American who pronounces it the SAME way now!) Have you ever BIN to the movies? Ahh, much better!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I Heart Books

When I visited my family this summer I had my very own room with a big bed all to myself (hubby didn't make it on this trip).

Beside the bed was a little table with a reading lamp and three books
my Mum lovingly placed there for me.

The first was a cute little story about a young girl whose a budding scientist and works to solve a mystery.

The second book touched my heart deeply.

It taught me things I didn't know.

Caused me to love people I'd never met.

Reminded me of the infinite goodness in others;

our (meaning humankind's) innate desire to help others.


Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin


Okay, maybe it won't be that drastic, but it's a true story that will definitely touch your heart and fill your soul with peace and hope and a desire to do more!

In the spirit of not ruining stories, that is all I am going to say.
If you really need more info before you read, just google it. But either way, READ THE BOOK!!!

Note: I never did read the third book. Looks like I'll need to take a trip again soon!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Customs . . . and I Don't Mean Traditions

You may have noticed my accent, but just in case you didn't, I'm not from around here. I was born and raised in Canada. My parents and siblings still live there so I like to visit as often as possible. A recent trip to visit my family in Canada resulted in a visit with a few Canadian Customs Officers. Three to be exact.

Usually when you arrive at the Toronto Airport, you fill out your card, hand it to the agent, answer some questions, then you're waved away to collect your bags

I was traveling alone with my two young children so I was stressed about having to collect and carry all the luggage before meeting my Dad.

As we get of the plane I am feeling very thankful to have the worst part of the journey over, the three hour flight, so I feel calm as I approach the customs officer. She takes our papers and barely looks at me. Then she asks if I have authority to travel with these children. I respond in the affirmative, and she says, "Prove it!"

I reply indignantly, "I'm their mother!"

So, apparently there a policy - not a law - that you need written permission to travel with your children if the other parent isn't present. Maybe everyone knows this but me, but no one told me I needed to have a letter!

The officer explains as much but instead of sending us to baggage claim, we are sent to another officer.

This man stamps the girls' passports and asks me if my husband knows we are traveling and if he could call him and ask as much. I respond, "yes," and am waiting to give him the number, but he doesn't ask. I'm sure it's all part of the process and that he is well trained to read people and just knew I was telling the truth . . . .

After speaking to him we are sent to collect our luggage. Great, one step closer to making it through the travel experience with two kids! All that is separating us from my Dad is a wall with automatic sliding doors. Almost there!

We approach the end of the line to said wall and an officer looks at our customs card. He sends us in a direction away from the wall.

AH, thwarted again!

Now we're in an a true office. There are more custom's officers and some travelers have the contents of their bags strewn all over counters. Great!?!

Thankfully, this officer is more laid back, asks a couple of questions, and sends us on our way. When I ask if I might need a similar letter to get back into the U.S., he responds, "Worse comes to worse, you just stay here and become Canadian!" :)

So, if you plan to travel internationally with your children and your spouse is not tagging along, get a letter of authorization.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Holy Swagamole!

I just won 59 Swagbucks using the toolbar to search online! No joke.

Happy day.
Sorry, it's a big deal to me so I had to share my success with you!

If you haven't heard of Swagbucks before it's a way to earn while you search online. I use my swagbucks to get gift cards.

Interested? Check it out:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Just Keep Smiling

Lately I have been thinking about trials.

A lot.

Too much, probably.

I started thinking how the past couple of years we have had one ongoing trial with a few others sprinkled on top.

I wondered when it would end.

Then I wondered IF it would end.

I thought of Job.

I realized that it was quite possible that our trials would not end. That we would forever be faced with heart-wrenching and stressful events. One after another, after another, after another . . .

Then I thought, so what?

What would that change?

Okay, life would be hard, but should I let my circumstances dictate who I am?

If I did that, I would be a sad and lonely person. (Okay, some days I am . . . )

But, if I rise to the challenge with courage and faith I am a better and stronger person for having made it through that trial.

It's okay to be happy in our trials. To happily endure. To grieve for loss or struggles and to then move forward with faith.

There's always something to be happy about.

Like these pictures! :)

Faith, not fear!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Kids crack me up!

Whether it's my own kids or someone else's, I just love the things they say and do.

We were at the library for toddler time last week.
A mother was there with her two children for the first time.

The oldest seemed to be about 4. He was not happy to be there.

While waiting for it to start, I heard such things as, "Can we go home?" "I don't want to be here," and a resounding, "No it's won't," when his mother told him it would be fun.

Now, don't picture in your mind a bratty little boy. He didn't seem bratty at all, just perhaps unsure of a new place. (The only reason I heard him was because we were sitting right beside them.) His mother was also very sweet and kind in her reassurances.

Anyway, after a few more complaints the program was over and everyone was dismissed. I couldn't help but laugh as the little boy walked out saying,


Here's a friendly reminder to read to your children everyday! ;)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Once Upon a Time . . .

There were three potties . . .

While taking my little sunbeams for a potty break on Sunday,

one little boy kept peeking into empty stalls.

I asked him to please pick one.

I finally heard him say, "Too soft."

It's important to find a potty that is just right!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Veggies on the Side

Remember this fun meal?

Well, here's the recipe for the veggies on the side.

Nana Jan's Vegetable Medley Casserole


1 -2 bags frozen California mix vegetables
1/3 - 1 C sour cream (more = creamier)
1 can cream of chicken soup
3/4 C shredded cheese *

Place veggies in 9x13 pan and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes to soften the vegetables.
Mix sour cream, soup, and 1/2 C of shredded cheese in a medium bowl.
Add to slightly softened veggies.
Sprinkle 1/4 C shredded cheese on top.
Return to oven for 30-50 minutes depending on how soft you want the vegetables.
Optional topping: French fried onions.

*The original recipe calls for swiss cheese, but any cheese will do!

In the picture above, I actually just added some cream of chicken soup to the veggies and sprinkled a little cheese on top. It was less creamy, but still tasty.

Super easy.

Super adaptable.

Super yummy!

Monday, April 11, 2011

DIY Pasteurized Honey - Or Not . . .

I love honey.

I've heard if you eat local honey you may have fewer problems during allergy season. I haven't tested this line of thought myself, but there's probably some truth to it. And it doesn't hurt to try!

I recently found a local lady who sells honey at a great price. It's yummy and the drive is kind of fun too. We pass goats and other farm animals on the way there.

The only thing is, the honey is not pasteurized. Does that matter? Well, the thought of getting botulism is pretty scary. It's pretty rare, but still a concern when you have children.

So, I decided to buy the honey and pasteurize it myself - after googling it of course!

I put the honey in a pot on the stove, stuck the candy thermometer in, and waited for the temperature to rise to 140. It did. And it kept rising. I tried to get it to remain at 140, but I was also feeding the girls breakfast, doing laundry and dishes (separately) and really just not qualified to be in charge of pasteurizing this honey.

So, it may have gotten a little too much heat.

And may have boiled over and made a mess all over the stove at one point.

It also may or may not have been on the stove a little too long.

(I picked the WRONG time of day to do it, really!)

All of these things resulted in honey with what I think is a slight burnt taste. My husband actually likes it. He says it tastes just the same as it did before - it's a wild clover honey and a little stronger flavor than most honey you get in the store.

But, if Mr. Picky-Pants - don't tell him I called him that! ;) - likes it, I guess it's okay and I might even attempt to pasteurize it again. With more research and fewer distractions next time!

What do you think? Do you have any experience with unpasteurized honey?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Game Over?

I use coupons when I shop. I am not a huge couponer, but I try to save money where I can.

Recently, I learned that Kroger will no longer be doubling and tripling coupons.

As a non-avid couponer, I am disappointed.

I wonder what all the avid-couponers are thinking?

Is it game over for Kroger?

One friend says she will by boycotting them as of April 15th (?), the day Kroger officially switches over.

I currently shop at both Kroger and HEB and know which things I prefer to buy from each store. There are some things I don't like from HEB, like their hand soap. It's so thick it clogs up the dispensers. Kroger's flows nicely. But how loyal am I? Will hand soap keep me coming back?

I also really like Kroger's reward points towards gas. Sounds like that incentive will get better with the opportunity to save more than just $0.10 per gallon. With gas prices going up, will it be worth it to continue shopping at Kroger for the savings in gas alone?

How will this affect you? Not at all. A little. Devastatingly.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Conference Weekend

I hope you enjoyed your weekend.

If you belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints, you probably watched General Conference all weekend.

Isn't it so nice we can watch it at home now? I remember being really small and trying to sit nicely on those church pews for two hours so my parents would take us out to dinner on Saturdays.

Good memories!

Anyway, if you were able to listen to conference you probably feel a greater desire to do good. I love listening to our Prophet and the other leaders of our church. What a wonderful way to make sure we're on the right track in our lives.

I think most of us walk away from conference with a stronger testimony and goals to become better. One goal I made this conference is to be a better visiting teacher! I am excited to get ideas from this site, and do more for those I visit.

Friday, March 18, 2011

My War With Pies

My husband LOVES pies. In his world, every holiday, birthday, or celebration of any sort is not complete without a pie. For our wedding a pie the top tier of our cake.

Me? Well, I am not so concerned with pies. They're okay. Mostly yummy, but where's the chocolate for goodness sake!?!

The saddest thing about pies in our home is that I CANNOT BAKE THEM!

I have tried and failed sooo many times. The crust is what gets me. The one he likes is not really flaky. It actually reminds me of shortbread.

Then by the crust is finished I'm so stressed about the whole thing that I mess up the filling (even when it's canned because I put the wrong amount in!). Ha, ha!

I give you Exhibit A: Mike's birthday pie

The bottom crust was not rolled out. I pressed it in the pan by hand.

Part of the top crust cracked when I place it on top. I was not about to take it off with all the filling all over it. So, I repaired it the best I could and moved on.

Why did the filling ooze out? Probably another issue with my crust making skills.

Then, to top it all off, I got the wrong filling and it wasn't what my husband was hoping for. He didn't say as much, but I know my pies are always a faint reminder of the pies he had growing up. Like a tease! A cruel and disappointing tease! Ha!

So, there you have it. That is my war on pies. Or are the pies warring on ME?

I think I just need to practice more! Anyone want to eat my practice pies???

Friday, March 11, 2011

Work-Out Buddy

When looking to add some exercise to my life I took my friend, Emily's, advice and pulled out an old workout video.

(Is it just me or do all work-out videos cross between being for the elderly or being a naughty video? Sometimes I feel like she's talking to a seventy-year-old Grandma, and other times it seems a little risque!)

The first time I popped in the DVD my three-year-old asked to participate. I was happy to let her join.

The first couple of weeks she just watched.

Now she is doing the warm-up and cool-down with me. The other parts are, "kind of tricky. I don't know this part, Mama."

So fun to have a work-out buddy!

Look at those moves!

We exercise in our pj's!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What's in a Tooth?

A canal with nerves and blood vessels.

I know this because my just-barely-sixteen-MONTH-old fell, shattered her tooth, and exposed the pulp (canal with nerve and blood vessels).

So, it's just a tooth but it was sooooooo sad. My sweet little 16 month old was doing her daily laps around the living room, dining room, and kitchen when she suddenly fell. She didn't trip over anything, like a toy or her feet. One minute she was up, and the next she was down.

When I picked her up she had little white pieces of tooth on her lip. Of course I didn't know that's what it was at first, until I brushed it away and felt it's 'chalkiness'.

"Oh my goodness! That was her tooth."

There was no blood and she only cried for a short time. I was pacing and making phone calls trying to decide if this was an emergency - almost half her tooth was gone - or something to be taken care of at home. How do you mend a broken tooth?

Suddenly I am brought out of my panic when I hear a huge crash in the kitchen. Before running to my daughter's side I had been mixing bread dough in my mixer. It causes my mixer to shake a little so I usually stand by it to keep it from knocking things off the counter.

Well, it fell and pulled some drying dishes off the counter with it. THANKFULLY, my oldest was far enough away that it didn't hurt her. And, thankfully again, she was standing right by the door and could easily exit the room.

I ran around to see if she was okay. She told me her tummy hurt. I yanked up her shirt and was relieved to see no poking glass or cuts. She was just scared, not hurt!

We made it to the dentist and he referred us to a specialist. We saw her the next day and she pulled the tooth. My poor little baby will have no tooth until she's at least 7 years old. We can have a false tooth put in when she has more teeth in her mouth, but for now she's our little toothless girl.

So, it's just a tooth. It's not a leg or an eye or a finger. Just a tooth. BUT, it was still so sad and tragic to deal with as a parent. I was beside myself. Outwardly I think I handled things pretty well - not fantastic, but well. But inside I was really panicky. I kept wondering why I am so weak when it comes to these situations. Then I realized I still did everything I needed to. I wondered if everyone felt panicky on the inside while handling similar situations?

It's been one week today since it happened, and my husband and I still look at each other and sigh for the premature loss of a baby tooth.

Friday, February 18, 2011

It's a serious problem!

What does this post have to do with water lilies? NOTHING! I just think it's a soothing picture!

Well, I have to admit something.

Even though I said it was time to cut the cord, I have followed three - possibly four - more blogs this week. Oh, I tried to stop. I was so good, I unsubscribed to like five blogs (or two?) and that was going to be it. No more! The end!

So, first I found a couple blogs about food. I mean, I have to cook everyday so why not get some new and exciting recipes for free! Pretty fun.

Then I found Sewing in No Man's Land. When you see this new blog I'm following, well I think you'll understand my obsession. It's a woman and her family who live in Timor Leste - where? (I think she said it's an island off the coast of Australia - yep, wikipedia agrees.)

Anyway, she's a fantastic lady. She has children, is a super fantastic seamstress, cooks, and takes awesome pictures! If you read this recent post you may tear up! Why would you cry about cooking, sewing, and picture taking? Well, take a look and you'll see!

So, you see, I HAD to add these few blogs to my google reader!

Had to.

Had to.

Had to.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Day

My little sunbeams got a pie pop from me for Valentine's Day.

I found them here and couldn't resist. Look how cute they are. (Mine pale in comparison to Sara's!)

I also left a fun surprise for my husband to find in the morning. He ate them (jalepano chips) for breakfast on his way to work. Breakfast of champions!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Daddy Got a Time-Out

My husband was doing something and some water was spilled, something fell, and a little chaos erupted. He got upset and my eldest could tell.

She informed her daddy that he needed a time-out. She told him where to sit and left him for a moment. Then, when she decided he was finished, she reminded him he had to "be nice."

I think it was so great that my husband listened and took his time-out. It is important for our kids to know that everyone makes mistakes AND that we are willing to go through the process of correcting and repenting for those mistakes just as we expect them to do.

They need to see our human side. They need to see us mess up and see us handle it well. One time when I was a little fired up and talked sternly to my husband, my eldest told me to "talk nice to Daddy." That was a humbling experience. She was right. Even if I am upset by something, I am the only person who can control my response. But when I choose unwisely I can apologize and try again. Some mistakes are too harsh for little ones, but if we allow them to see our process of working out small issues, we are giving them the tools they need to succeed. We are helping them make better choices and handle situations better when we give them a good model to follow.

And, that's the end of this edition of Rachel's Soapbox! But I really think it's true . . .

"No, Ruprecht. . . . We apologize."

A virtual high five to the person who can name that movie!

Here's a hint:

Friday, February 4, 2011

Time to Cut the Cord

I follow WAY too many blogs. Mostly crafty blogs. I just can't do all the crafts I drool over every day.

So, it's time to unsubscribe.

It's time to cut the cord.

It's time to start reading my friend's blogs more. Start commenting.

I know my day of crafting will come and in the meantime, I need to keep it real. Yes, I just said, "keep it real." Weird.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


This summer, while visiting family, I tried my hand at cupcake decorating. I made some simple, yet cute, cupcakes for my sister.

Mmmmm . . . they were so yummy. Except the bears. I used gumpaste - not so tasty!

Just this past weekend I made some more cupcakes for a friend's baby shower. It was so humid I thought the icing was going to melt right off the cupcakes. I'll have to keep that in mind next time. Plus, I don't think I used the right icing tip? I don't know. I have a lot to learn - but it was FUN!

I used fondant for these flowers! Yummy!

I used lots of tips from these two sites:

Skip To My Lou - buttercream frosting

Make It and Love It: Make-a-Cake Series - fondant

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Fancy" Meatloaf

Have something to say about online earning? Say it here.

UPDATE: You can find the recipe for the side veggies here.

I am not the best cook out there. I will never claim to be. But I have found some yummy recipes and do make some pretty good food!

While looking for a recipe for homemade cannolis (still haven't made them) I found Susan at Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy. Her food always looks so yummy!

A little while ago she made Meatloaf Cupcakes. I decided to try it. Mine is not as fancy as Susan's but it was still yummy and Caralyn was excited to eat it. (I did warn her it wouldn't taste like a cupcake!)

Anyway, I made a version of Susan's recipe (with the ingredients I had on hand) then dolloped regular mashed potatoes on top! You have to see Susan's! They're gorgeous! See them here.

(Please note the fancy dishes we use at our house!)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Online Earnings

I have heard of a few different ways to earn points, cash back, whatever, while searching and shopping online. I participate in one, Swagbucks (see button on right) and use it to get gift cards.

There's also ones where you shop at your normal places online but through certain websites and you get cash back - real checks in the mail apparently. (I think swagbucks does this but you get points/swagbucks instead of cash).

So, I'm curious.

What programs do you use?

How do you earn while online?

What things do you earn online?

What do you use your points/cash towards?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I hate spiders. Actually, I really dislike most bugs.

Here's my most recent encounter:

Saturday night.

Husband is camping.

Girls are sleeping.

I am about to go to bed.

Then I see IT!

On the ceiling.

I stare at IT for about 5 seconds as the reality sinks in.

I feel it (the reality) weighing heavily on my chest.

I feel it deep within my bones.

I have to kill it.

It's like a somber resignation.

The job has to be done

and I have to do it.


Me alone.

I quietly take care of things.

And somberly go to bed, praying for no more spiders that night.

I REALLY. don't. like. spiders!


This feeling reminded me of Nephi when he goes back to Jerusalem to get the brass plates and finds Laban passed out in the street. I wonder if what I felt was just a teeny, tiny glimpse of what Nephi felt as he realized he had to kill Laban in order to get the scriptures for his family. It is better that one man die than a whole nation dwindle in unbelief. (It is better that one spider die than a mother lose a whole night's sleep!)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Relationship Ends With Pasta Blunder

I was reheating spaghetti noodles for dinner tonight. Whenever I reheat noodles, I think of a relationship from the past . . .

I once dated this guy, we'll call him, John. He was nice, an RM (returned missionary), cute, and he took me out on wonderful dates.

We dated for about three months.

Then, I made John dinner.

Spaghetti with meat sauce.

John was late so we had to reheat the pasta.

He told me that when you microwave pasta you should put a little water in with it, you know, to prevent the noodles from becoming dry or sticky.

Well, I let John go first - wait, isn't it supposed to be ladies first? - and in all of our talking I forgot to add the water.

We broke up the next week. (Or was it that weekend?)

Are the two things related? Did John dislike that I ate sticky noodles? Did he think I didn't believe him or didn't listen? Either way, we just couldn't make things work after that.

In the end it doesn't matter. I now use water to reheat my pasta


am married to a wonderfully fantastic man (who is not named John!)!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Me: What should we have for lunch?

Daughter #1: Pasta!

Me: We had that last night. How about tuna?

D#1: No! That's wuuude! [rude] Not tuna! That's from our bum-bum!

Me: ? . . . Oh! No, toot. That's from our bum. Tuna is a fish that we eat.

D#1: Ooooh! I like tuna.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


You may have noticed some changes to my blog. I am attempting to add some life to my blog. Perhaps to my life in general too!

Life has been weighing down on me lately. You know, how life is apt to do. Stressful things happen and we keep going and living life . . . Sometimes it can be a bit much, though! This weekend was full of bad news (nothing terrible) and a sad heart (just mine). I have faith that things will get better and that I'll get over feeling this way. BUT I also know it's okay to be sad sometimes.

Thanks! I feel better.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year

Well, it's that time again. The time when we decide to better ourselves and set those goals so we can be the person we really want to be.

This year I want to exercise more. My brother-in-law is studying to be a doctor and said there's a notable difference in the health of the elderly when they have exercised consistently. So, I figure it's about time I jump on the band wagon for good health. The thing is, I don't like to exercise. I can make a million excuses for not exercising. And, I love to stay home and do things that don't require you to stand - like sewing, watching movies, making crafts . . . .

Anyway, it's time to take a stand against the laziness that lies within me and work to be a healthier me. I want to be here for my children and grandchildren!

(So, ask me if I've started, or plan to start today, or even this week, or if I even have a plan - NOPE!)

What goal's have you set this year and how do you plan to keep them?