Sunday, January 27, 2019

"Dad, there's a possum in the chicken coop!" That's all it took. We threw on our shoes and coats as we ran to the barn. My dad turned on the barn light and went over to the tool wall. Carefully he examined his options to kill the poor thing. A shovel perhaps? Too unwieldy. A pitchfork? Messy. Ah, a sledgehammer. We then watched in awe, as our dad entered the chicken coop with his weapon of choice.
To our surprise and horror, we did not see one beady-eyed creature the size of a bulldog, but three. As we watched through the chicken wire from the goat milking stand, Dad hefted the sledgehammer onto his shoulder. Slam! Missed a possum. Wabam! He got one. The chickens sqaucked from their roosting positions in their front row seats, just five feet above the action.
Deftly, dad would hoist the sledgehammer again and again. Gradually, you could see the fatigue settling in. As he once again lifted the heavy tool, it became apparent this technique was not as effortless as we had originally suspected.
Down it came again, upon a villainous headhunter and lo, the sledgehammer broke into halves. We watched in awe as our hero panted. Two large possums stared at him and one lay unmoving at his feet. The four glittering black eyes reflected only calculation and greed as they glanced from Dad and his broken weapon to the roosting chickens above.
One of us grabbed a shovel from the wall, opened the door a crack, and slipped it through to Dad. Then rejoining the others on the milking stand, waited to see what a shovel could do to those fiends. Opening the tiny chicken door to the outside air, Dad then did his best to coax the possums outside. Eventually they left and he shoveled the fallen enemy into a garbage sack. The next morning we found another of the possums in a trap placed strategically in the nearby garden.
I will never forget the awesome sight of my father, lifting and swinging that sledgehammer.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Birthday Birthday-

It was my birthday this month and I found out some Birthday freebies for you and when you can redeem your items. You're welcome.

Birthday JSYK Freebies-

7-eleven- 1 free slushy, full birthday month
Red Robin - 1 free burger and endless fries, full birthday month
Nothing Bundt Cakes- 1 free buntlet, full birthday month
Starbucks- 1 free item, only day of birth
Baskin Robbins- 1 kiddie cone, full birthday month

I am giving a presentation today about using your time wisely and finding time for your dreams. If you'd like to look over this outline to get ideas on how to save time, please do.

Finding talents and reaching our potential (Look UP)

I. How to make more time in your day

A. Think of and record action items (Wants and Needs)
1. Grocery shopping- 1 PM
2. Laundry- 11 AM
3. Bath time- 6:30 PM
4. Visit zoo- 12 PM
5. Call insurance- 10:30 AM
6. 30 minutes piano- 10:40 AM
7. Research Amazon publishing- 11:20 AM
8. Weekly Email- 11:40 AM
9. Scripture study- 7 AM
10. 30 minute Run- 7:30 PM
11. Write in journal- 10 PM
12. Bruce Haircut- 6 PM
13. Ministering appointment- 10:40

B. Assign Times to those items (Star multitask items)

C. Stick to your schedule (Look at it), but be flexible (Timers/Alarms)

D. Plan for tomorrow's schedule & Check off completed items

E. Acknowledge additional things you accomplished
1. Made bread
2. Made sausage kale soup
3. Made dinner for tomorrow
4. Got Gas

II. Understanding YOUR time perception and how to manipulate it. The 2 ways our brain stores memory:

A. Many different activities- Memory Records as separate activities
1. Christmas vacation (Reading all break vs. Raquetball/ Spa Night/ Nativity
2. Weekend Time (Movies vs. Outings/Hikes)

B. Similar types of activities- Recorded in summary form
1. Same old every day
2. Unplanned schedule
If we get a lot done, we also feel like we had a longer day and more time to do those things

III. Making time for your Dreams

A. Name your Dream
B. Research and Budget
C. Make a Plan
D. Give yourself a deadline/ Find and tell someone who will keep you accountable
E. After accomplishing dreams, record new dreams

IV. After we understand the perception and malleability of time, we can utilize it to satisfy our needs and desires in a timely manner.

V. Testimony of Planning and its importance

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Do it Yourself Stocking Stuffer ideas-

Ha, well my sister, brother/wife, mom/dad, and other brother are all coming over for Christmas. We'll have three babies and eight adults. So I figured we'd do a very Adult Christmas. Adult minus kinky. Charles and I talked about how we didn't need giant bags of candy for everyone since we're all grownups. So here's a little list you might find helpful for ideas during this holiday season.

1. Cookies in a jar- Since grownups have more patience than kids and appreciate cookies more than candy, I think perhaps this would work well. They're not huge, but are big enough to stuff up some stockings. Also, you don't have to eat these cookies immediately like a bunch of stocking treats will tempt you to do.

2. Bath bombs and Salts- Everybody likes to smell good. If you buy bath bombs at the store, they will cost you $3-$5 each- not a great value, since you drop them into water and they disintegrate into nothing. However, if you buy the ingredients you get literally more Bang for your buck. My kids are a little scared of them, but also fascinated by them. So there's always that. They are small and can be used at your convenience. Also, it's nice to experience a bit of luxury every once in a while.

3. Gift cards- Honestly, this one isn't as fun as some of the other stocking ideas. I mean, it is a little bit of a cop out, just like cash, but like money it's fun to get. Nobody will be getting $50 gift cards over at my house, but a couple of fun discretionary $10 cards will be warming some blood

4. Hide a book- There are a lot of books out there. Most people have shelves full of books around the house. That makes this gift a useful and fun addition to any house.

5. Ear jewelry- Who do you know that actually owns ear cuffs or elf ear coverings? According to the internet it's the new, hip thing. Since I'm clearly a cool mom, you know I'm all about that.

6. Movies- Dvds, blu rays, amazon videos, movie tickets, hulu/netflix subscriptions, redbox coupons. I love movies, so this is always a win for me. Plus, there are random $5 deals you can find. Can't beat that.

7. Music- Honestly, I listen to pandora on our Alexa app usually, but I know some people really enjoy listening to tunes on their phones. I also listen to books on tape from the library while I exercise, so this isn't something I'm super interested in. But SOME people will just love little tunes coupons and CDs.

8. Picture books- What more personal way to say I love you, than "Hey, I looked through all these pictures, organized them into a book, and now whenever you go through it, you'll think of me." You can also ask around in the family for kind things to say about that person and put those things in the book.

9. Necessities- Bandaids, Hair ties, razors, hairspray, lotion, socks, journals

10. Food and Random stuff- jewelry, perfume, stickers, books, games, pudding cups, chocolate truffles, oranges, rice krispy treats, cereal, juice boxes, nick knacks, paddy wacks

I guess my last two on the list were cop outs, since everybody already has traditional stuff they put in stockings. I was just ultra proud of my other ideas. Do you have any awesome stocking stuffer ideas to add? Mostly I'm just a total cheapo who likes to make stuff for people instead of buying it.

A few of my favorite things

In case you're in the market, I've come to appreciate certain tools we have at home. Things you use every day are important. If they don't work great, they make you hate. When they work awesome, they make your life blossom.

Mop- I've always wished I had a mop that was less disgusting to use. Something that didn't take much space; a mop that didn't get my hands dirty. This mop has made all my mopping dreams come true. You fill the bucket, use the foot pedal to squeeze the mop, and when you're done, you empty the bucket. I love mopping now and cannot think of an easier way to do it.

Vacuum- I like being able to see the dirt that my vacuum picks up. It's not a heavy vacuum, but it does pick up most of the dirt around. It's simple to take apart and you don't have to buy bags for it. Very nice. If you've ever wished you'd brought your vacuum to clean someone else's house, you might have a good vacuum.

Waffle Maker- Charles loves making waffles. Our babies love waffles. Really, is it possible to hate a soft and delicious waffle? Yesterday we had a church Christmas party. Pancakes were the dish of choice, but Charles couldn't help himself. He volunteered to make cloud waffles and thank goodness he did, because they were ultimate and popular. No waffles remained at the end. This waffle maker makes two at a time. We've had it five years and we love it.

Knives- I never realized how wonderful it was to have a decent knife, until I cut vegetables at a food shelter for Thanksgiving a couple of years ago. Wow, what a difference. I certainly wished I had my own knives on that day. That wasn't the first time I've wished for my own knives and it certainly wasn't the last time.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Sister Bake-off

It has begun. The time for eating pumpkin cookies is upon us once again. Usually, I just google pumpkin cookies and make the one with the highest ratings. However, this year two of my sisters have insisted they have the perfect pumpkin cookie recipe to rival all others. Since they both insisted theirs was the best, I decided to do a bake-off and decide which recipe truly was the best.

Honestly with food, everyone has preferences. I myself like soft cookies, but other people like crunchy cookies. In the pumpkin cookie world, soft and chocolate-filled trumps. I, like my sisters, am a chocolate miser. However, with these cookies, it is an essential ingredient, so I allowed myself to splurge.

 The dough, recipe and cookies on the left are Bonnie's. The dough, recipe, and cookies on the right are Sarah's.

While I was making the cookies, I noticed they mainly have the same ingredients. Bonnie's cookie dough had more moisture. Since I put the dough in the fridge before baking, that kept the cookies from melting too much in the oven. I cooked them together at 350 for 15 minutes and they turned out equally soft, with almost identical texture and taste. Sarah's cookies had a little more spice in them because instead of 2 tsp of cinnamon, she told me to put in 1 tsp cinnamon and then 1/4 tsp of cloves, allspice, ginger and nutmeg. 

As the judge of these cookies, I declare them almost exactly the same, with Sarah's a tiny bit more spicy.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Happy Birthday Son! And Daughter!

Technically, my babies do not actually turn one until July 6th, however, since we are moving to Tucson, AZ on Friday, we figured a little early celebration wouldn't hurt us one little bit. These aren't going to be in any kind of order, but I figure my descriptions out of order will be just as good.
 This is a picture on our porch of Cordy bear. She is 11 months old and we love her to pieces. My sister gave us these adorbs hair clips. They are easy to put in and Bruce just loves pulling them right out again. Probably because they are so beautiful.
 Bruce is such a sweetheart. If I put him on the front porch step, he will sit and kick his little legs. He waves from the step and waits for me. It melts my heart every time.

 Our friend Holly is so fun. She visits us. We eat treats and watch movies together. We also do crafts.

 The Ruiz's are some of our favorite people. They are such a caring bunch and thoughtful to boot. They were also kind enough to host the babies' one year celebration and our going away party. I was in charge of decorating and realized finally why party planning committees usually exist. Well played streamers and balloons. Well played.
 The Applins are super fun as well. We love to see them and play with them, but since we don't leave the house as often anymore, we didn't get to hang out with them as much as we would have liked. Charles worked with Brad though, and really enjoyed his time at Tapestry Solutions, learning valuable skills like nerf battles and other such top secret shenanigans.
 Flor and Heidi are more friends we didn't hang out with as much as we would have liked. However, luckily we did see them at girl's nights at Kiwi's house. They would also complement me on my cooking and make me feel really good about myself. Everyone needs friends like that.
 Our favorite pharmacist, just hanging out with Mark and remembering good times.
 Isabelle is such a fun and inclusive person. I am so glad we have such good friends here in San Luis Obispo.

Our friends the Krafts also came to celebrate with us. We love their sweet faces too and are so lucky to know such rock stars.

Really, I did want to invite everyone I know here in SLO to the party, but didn't want to overrun the Ruiz's house. It was a fun, laid-back celebration and we got to visit for a while. Mostly though, we just made sure the kids didn't get into anything they shouldn't and ate cake. Well, some of us ate cake.
 Cordy didn't eat her cake, she just crumpled it into nothingness with her hands. If you've seen the 5 Instagram videos, you'd see it took them a while to understand what was expected of them. Bruce actually never really got into it. He carefully picked off cereal pieces and ate a tiny bit of frosting. He actually preferred the watermelon we gave him to snack on. Secretly, it pleased me very much to see how they resisted the idea of making a mess. I guess that shows what a food control freak I am with these babies. We live in a carpeted enclosed space though, so I do it to keep our apartment sanitary.

 The beginning shot, before Cordelia played smash and Bruce delicately enjoyed his snack.

 Our friend Kim, who lovingly did our laundry for ages and taught us all sorts of great lessons about marriage and families. What a great teacher and friend!
 Our Costco cake specially ordered. I wrote "Can you do a spaceship please?" That's all the direction they got and I was insanely pleased with the result. Thanks Costco! It looked (and tasted) great!
 Our friends the Longs! We love them and their pizza nights. We also love their friendship and massages. Karol is also an Usborne book consultant. If you're looking for books, she's your lady.
 These are the moon cakes I made for the babies. I used this recipe for the cake and made cream cheese with yogurt frosting. I also added about 1/4 cup of powdered sugar to make it semi-palatable. Apparently they weren't as good as they look. I did substitute baby food for the dates and coconut oil for the coconut. Honestly, I tried Bruce's again today and threw it away. I am comfortable with the idea that I didn't load my babies up with sugar on their birthday though.

Cordelia mutilating hers with a couple nibbles in between and Bruce taking a piece of cereal here and there for munching was fine by me. I don't know if we caught it very well on camera, but Bruce did tentatively try and put his whole mouth on the cake. He reconsidered this methodology, and ended up taking very careful assessments of that cake.
 Here are my three sweet babies before bedtime. Look at those sweet smiles.
And finally, this is a picture of Cordelia with her bangs in her face. This is what I see every morning first thing- a big smile and hair in her eyes. Bruce is also usually in the background, semi-patiently grabbing our toes and telling us to wake up.

This was taken today. Charles spider-cocooned himself and the babies didn't even notice he was on the ground. Maybe I'll try this one day when I want to suffocate myself during a Sunday nap.

Nearer my God to thee- A talk given by me in church 6/24/18

How have my life experiences brought me closer to Jesus Christ?

Modification of a Ground Based Atomic Oxygen Simulation Apparatus to Accommodate Three Dimensional Specimens. Charles' talk- if he'd been assigned.

When hard things happen in my life, I get mad. I think, "Why in the heck are these bad things happening to me? Am I being punished for past sins. Did I skip milking our goat Yaruba too often or was it my bad attitude as a teenager?" After thinking such things for a time and stewing over my bad luck, I eventually part the weeds of doubt and look over a pond of love and inspiration.

I am often in difficult straits, and after my initial anger, finally realize how much our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ actually love me. This love is manifested to me in three ways 1. By dispelling my fears 2. By guiding me through acute pain and sadness 3. By manifold demonstrations of love

I. God's love for me manifested by-1. Dispelling my fears

A. Topical Guide- Fear can have two meanings: (1) to fear God is to feel reverence and awe for him and to obey his commandments; (2) to fear man, mortal dangers, pain, and evil is to be afraid of such things and to dread them.

B. "Fear rarely has the power to change our hearts, and it will never transform us into people who love what is right and who want to obey Heavenly Father.

People who are fearful may say and do the right things, but they do not feel the right things. They often feel helpless and resentful, even angry. Over time these feelings lead to mistrust, defiance, even rebellion…

(God) wants us to reach out and take firm hold of the iron rod, confront our fears, and bravely step forward and upward along the strait and narrow path. He wants this for us because He loves us and because this is the way to happiness." Dieter F. Uchtdorf; Perfect Love Casteth out Fear; April 2017

C. Germany age 25
1. Danielle- What now?
a.  Reasons not to: 18 months is a long time, talk to strangers, no flirting with boys, a lot of money
b. Pray about mission- resounding assurance answer was yes
2. Train to Florence Italy- fears magnified
a. Saw Drew in the train station, testimony of His care

D. Testimony- I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know our fears and the direct line to   dispelling those fears

II.  God's love for me manifested by- 2. Tender Guidance through personal times of acute pain and sadness

A. Revelation 21:4- And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

B. "There are few of us, if any, who don’t walk the refiner’s fire of adversity and despair, sometimes known to others but for many quietly hidden and privately endured. Most of the heartache, pain, and suffering we would not choose today. But we did choose.

We chose when we could see the complete plan. We chose when we had a clear vision of the Savior’s rescue of us. And if our faith and understanding were as clear today as it was when we first made that choice, I believe we would choose again.

Therefore, perhaps the challenge is to have the kind of faith during the hard times that we exercised when we first chose." Richard C. Edgley; For thy Good; April 2002

C. Most painful times of my life: Single life. Childlessness- Why? Foster Care. IVF 5x. Weeping.

D. Testimony- I know we experience specific, difficult things so we can learn specific, difficult lessons

III. God's love for me manifested by- 3. Manifold Demonstrations of love

A. 1 John 4:19- We love him, because he first loved us

B. " One of the strongest connections we have with our premortal life is how much our Father and Jesus loved us and how much we loved Them. Even though a veil was drawn over our memory, whenever we sense true love, it awakens a longing that cannot be denied.

Responding to true love is part of our very being. We innately desire to reconnect here with the love we felt there. Only as we feel God’s love and fill our hearts with His love can we be truly happy.

God’s love fills the immensity of space; therefore, there is no shortage of love in the universe, only in our willingness to do what is needed to feel it. To do this, Jesus explained we must “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, … soul, … strength, and … mind; and thy neighbor as thyself” (Luke 10:27)." John H. Groberg; The Power of God's Love; October 2004

C.  Specific acts of love shown to me: Meals brought, sorting piles of baby clothes, babysitting, midnight visits, work offered, laundry, visits from friends, giant stacks of movies loaned, baby holding, baby gifts, hugs, sweet words of encouragement, help with moving, money for expensive IVF treatments, and loads of other manifestations of love

Excerpt from Charles' acknowledgements- " (I would like to acknowledge) Merilee, for supporting me since my community college years, for blessing our home with two children, and for being what has made everything worth it."

D. Testimony- We receive so much love from everywhere, it is sometimes overlooked, but I know the Lord loves each and every one of us. Through these manifestations of God's love in my life, I see how my experiences bring me closer to Him and his son Jesus Christ.