Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Orange Julius Baby

Sometime in my tween years I received a cookbook for Christmas. It was called 'Kids in the Kitchen' and if my mom was anything like me, she bought it for me in the hopes that I would be inspired to cook. I don't remember what was in the simplified cookbook except for 1 recipe. It is a recipe for Orange Julius type slushies. I still have it memorized.

1/2 can frozen OJ
1 C milk
1/2 C water
1/4 C sugar
1 t vanilla
Lots of ice

You need a beefy blender. Mix it all up, pour into cups, best slurped with a straw.

It's a yummy treat and when I made it for my kids tonight they all seemed to enjoy it. :). I am not sure if they believed me that it was a recipe I learned when but a youth.

It has inspired me to find a good kid cookbook! Here's hoping one of the kids will decide to start cooking every night!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Seth's Cell Project

Seth created a model of a cell. It took many nights out in the shop to make. It all turned out to be worth it as he got 100% on the project! His science teacher wrote tons of crazy good comments on the grading sheet. I think he is officially outed as a good science student!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Want or Need?

Jebb has been learning the difference between a 'want' and a 'need.' His homework was to cut out or take a picture of each. This is what he settled on.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day 2011

For some crazy reason, or school district decided to give us today, Valentine's Day, off of school. Next Monday would be more logical, as it is Presidents Day, but I guess that is how we roll in D-go! ;)

John has been dying to take Gabe and Seth snowmobiling one more time this winter. I think John has really missed winter sports as he has been unable to ski due to his knee surgery at Thanksgiving. So they loaded up and I sent the camera! :)
And while I enjoy an action shot as much as any mom, this next one is my favorite:
That is Gabe helping Seth dig out his machine that is stuck in the deep snow.

They all reported having a fantastic time and the weather was ideal! Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New Bishopric

Today our ward got a new Bishop. Bishop Garey (our previous one) is moving to NM and we will miss him and his family. He handed out candy in his office at the end of each church day, so my kids are super bummed he is going. I will not miss the candy, but I will miss our good Bishop who wiped his tears with his tie and just happens to be John's 2nd cousin.

Our new Bishop is Brother Phillips and he has an enormous heart. He was put into the Bishopric 7 or 8 years ago (with Bishop Johnson) and it had been cool to see him grow into this leadership position. In our church we do not have any paid ministers, so all of the leaders and teachers are simply members of the congregation. Because no one is a professional church-runner, there is often a learning curve involved when new people get called to new jobs. The Bishop is the leader of our entire congregation and because we all knew Bishop Garey was moving, there was some fun speculation about who the new Bishop would be. It is always interesting that once the name is announced, it seems like it was the obvious and right choice. So was the case with Bishop Phillips. He is a tough customer and sports a full beard, but he is the type of guy that would do anything to help out someone else.

John was called to be his 1st councilor in the Bishopric and I am really happy for him. He loves Bishop Phillips. In the weeks prior to today, I think all the men in our ward had the chance to wonder what they might do if they were called to be the Bishop. I know that many wives, including myself, wondered what they would do if that call came to their husbands. I realized that I have a pretty lousy attitude about my husband serving. I thought about how busy our lives are and how much I want all of John's extra time. Of course, everyone feels like their own life is very busy and I don't know anyone that gets a big (time consuming) calling and thinks, 'This is going to fill up all of that free time I have been killing.' Taking time to do our callings, no matter what they are, is not always easy. But as I have learned over my life, it is always some of the best time you can spend. We are all blessed with so much and serving our fellow ward members is a good way to show the Lord our gratitude. I can say that with conviction because my husband and I haven't been asked yet to sacrifice that much. ;)

Bottom line is, I am grateful for opportunities to serve in the church. By having callings we are able to learn and to grow and to serve. I love the church organization and all the ways it blesses my family. I am so grateful for the willing members of my ward that give their time and energy to serve! I am excited for our new Bishop and our new Bishopric. It is cool to know that the Lord will bless them wherever they (as just men) might fall short. If you think about all of the diverse wards and people in the church it really is miraculous that we function so well with a bunch of amateurs! :) I love it!

Friday, February 11, 2011

I'm Feelin' Crafty!

I am serving in the Young Women's organization in my church. At the start of each year we have New Beginnings which is kind of like a kick off for the year to come. I get to plan this activity and I wanted to share one of the things I am working on. This year, the theme for all youth of the church is the 13th Article of Faith. The end of the article states, "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." I decided to build our night around this statement and we are doing a treasure hunt theme for our invitations and decorations.

I wanted each girl to have something to take away from the night that would help them to remember to seek after all that good stuff when they are out living their lives. My sister posted THIS adorable necklace and I jumped at the chance to copy it. She sent me the file for printing out the cute words to put in the necklace, but I couldn't get it to work on my computer. I also wanted to focus more on the seek than the believe for this night. So, I put on my thinking cap and I am just going to say that I am pretty proud of myself!! :)

I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a bunch of stuff, luckily I hit the 50% off sale (I am of course chalking it up to destiny). I have a little bit of experience making jewelry as my previously mentioned sister has helped me make a few things. But I am certainly no pro. I felt a little nervous and hoped I remembered everything as I checked out with my supplies

I began with the cord for the necklace. They had a lot of premade cords you could buy, but they were $1-3 dollars each. Budget busting when you are making 20. I thought of going with leather cord, but found this stuff rubbery stuff at a fantastic price-- $1 for 5 yards (50% off) or $0.10 each!!
The premade necklaces were all 17.5", so just to be safe, I cut my stuff into 18" lengths.
I decided before I went too far that I had better come up with a prototype and see if liked it made up. Well, I liked it! So I go to work on reproducing it 19 more times. I'll tell you how I did it.

Before we start though, I'll suggest that as with any job, good tools are important. I have (l to r) 2 pairs of pliers, a crimper (which I didn't use this time), circular-needle-nose-looking-tool, and wire cutters. I like the 'mini' sized tools and find them easy to grip and manipulate.
I started my project by putting a 'cord crimp' at the end of each cord. I got these nifty pieces that you simply crimp on and it gives you a loop. They are $0.07 for a pair.

I then got my charms and bail plates ready. First the charms. There was a flyer at Hobby Lobby which showed how to make any bead into a 'dangle' type bead, or charm-like. I found these darling 'head pins' that had a little rhinestone on the end. You simply stick the pin through the pearl:
Then you grab the pin with this tool. They look kind of like needle nose pliers, but they are rounded so you can form a loop. You grip it tightly with one hand like this:

Then using needle nose pliers in your other hand, you grab the wire and wrap it around the tool to make the loop, then circle the base of the loop with the wire, creating this:
Snip off the excess wire with wire cutters and be sure the sharp end is tucked in well, leaving this doo-dad. The fancy pin was expensive, so they end up being about $0.62 each.

From here I moved on to the bail plates. These are small, flat metal shapes that you can stamp with words. They come in lots of shapes and sizes. I went with silver cirlcles which were only $0.31 each once you take off the 50%.
Then it was stamping the letters on. It's best to do this on a really hard surface. I use our granite counters (a metal block is recommended, but I don't have one of those in my kitchen). I started with the "E"'s:
I did them first so I could center them. I then moved on to the "S."
Then of course the "K" makes SEEK.
To make the letters show up, you have to color the letters thoroughly with a Sharpie. Then once it is really dry, wipe it off with rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball.
At this point I felt like I was getting close to being done! So of course everyone needed my help right NOW! :) What's up with that anyway? OK, back to the necklace.

This is the point where you string the plate and the charm onto the cord. Easy. OK, pretty easy. You do need to add a 'Jump Ring' to each charm. I used the larger jump ring for the charm so that you can then just string it right on.
Then just slide on the plate. Check.
All that is left now is to put on the clasp. I chose ones that were kinda fancy so they were 5 for $3.50....until you take off that 50%, and now they were only $0.35 each! They are the "O" and the "T" type A.K.A. 'toggle' type. There are some fun magnet clasps, but these were a good price and they had cute little hearts. :)
You attach the toggles with jump rings as well-I used the small ones pictured above. I have to say that attaching those little jump rings would be easier with those magnifying glasses that dentists wear. I'll have to look into those next project.
So when it was all said and done, each necklace was about $1.15 and this is how it turned out:

I put them in these cute little gauzy bags which bumps the cost up to $1.35.
I will put these in a little clear gift bag along with some Hershey's Treasures (chocolate candy shaped like a tiny treasure chest). That brings it up to around $1.50. NOT BAD....If I do say so myself...which I DO!!!

I hope the girls like them enough to wear them once in a while! I think it is a fun way to remind them to SEEK after the good things in life! New Beginnings is this Wednesday, I hope it goes well.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Skill Set

I was elected the new Secretary of the Republican party in our county. I think it sounds kinda cool, but I ran unopposed. ;) As did all of the newly elected Executive Board which has a Chairperson, First Vice, Second Vice, Secretary and Treasurer. I am not really sure what we are supposed to do which is why I was glad we had our first meeting today.

The other folks on the board are all retired and all have experience in the business world. The Chairperson actually asked me if I would run and be on the board, but it was because I am heavily involved with the local Tea Party groups and I think they wanted to have a tie to them (I think we make Republicans a little nervous). They all know I am a stay-at-home mom and I quickly realized that they were skeptical about my competence.

My first tip off was when the Chairperson brought me a spiral notebook she had purchased for me. She explained that it had sections and I could take notes of our board meetings in one section, and other stuff in other sections. I smiled and set aside the notebook I had brought so I could use the one she had given me. We talked about our duties and different events that we might have coming up.

As I sat in the meeting I began to feel very grateful for my church service and for the skill set I have obtained by working in different auxillary presidencies. I have learned how to run a meeting, follow an agenda, plan with a purpose, focus on what is relevant, and problem solve (not to mention how to get things done without a staff or tons of money).

I finished up the meeting before going to watch Gabe and Seth's basketball game (way to beat Pagosa guys!!!). I saw my dear church friend Lanae and of course I had to tell her about it. I related how in our meeting our chairperson was talking about a luncheon she had gone to where they had cute little favors at each plate and how impressive it was. I told Lanae that the woman had obviously never been to a Relief Society function before! :) It would blow that lame luncheon out of the water...especially if Lanae was in charge of it! :)

It just made me grateful for all of the things that I have learned over my life by having to teach, speak, plan, lead, and follow in our church (not to mention the churchy stuff)! It's fun to be a stay-at-home mom with that skill set!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hope Arising in Arizona

This past weekend I had a most fabulous weekend! It was great for lots of reasons, good weather, good friends, but the best part started for me many years ago. I had the opportunity tag along on a trip to Ethiopia with my SIL Jessica. She was going with her friend Rochelle, whom I had never met, and Rochelle's son Collin (also a stranger to me). I pretty much invited myself along, and they graciously agreed. But because I was late joining the travel roster, I had to take a completely separate flight which got me to AFRICA (I put it in caps because, well, I had never been to AFRICA, and shoot, it's AFRICA!!!) the day before them (they had a 12 hour lay over in London). When I asked Rochelle over the phone (because, remember, I hadn't met her) who I ought to look for when I got to the airport in Addis Ababa, she told me to look for Woudneh Mulugeta and his wife Bethlehem. When I asked her to describe them to me, she paused and said, "Well, they're black" (When she told me this I wanted desperately to ask her to be more specific, but I just listened). "And," she continued, "they are the most wonderful people you will ever meet."

Luckily, when I stepped off that 36 hour plane ride, they had been given a description of me, and I saw two beautiful smiling Ethiopian faces asking me if I was the girl from Colorado. They took me home and let me sleep in their children's bed. And Rochelle was absolutely correct, they are nothing short of wonderful!

From there, Woudneh took us all over Addis and to his home village of Dehra, about 110 kilometers away. We met school childrens, orpphans, Mormons, beggars, and angels on earth. It was a physically and emotionally grueling 10 days.

From that first trip, Rochelle (here in the US) and Woudneh & Betty (over in Ethiopia) have been working little by little to organize a charity to benefit Dhera and the children there. There is a scripture in the Book of Mormon that says:

Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. (Alma 37:6)

I have seen for myself this very weekend that this is true. I remember when we were there I thought how great it would be to help, but it seemed quite overwhelming, and just a few people seemed quite small when compared to the problems in Ethiopia. But little by little, Rochelle's Chraity, Hope Arising, is working to bring great things to pass. Woudneh and Betty have worked tirelessly to bring a pipeline of fresh water to the village while striving to educate and care for the children there.

Before Christmas, I went to Elise's 5th grade class and shared pictures and stories about Ethiopia. The students there decided they wanted to help the children I had met and I suggested they try the Blessing Box. They made a box in their classroom and when students remembered, they would bring in change each day. (Sidenote: If I suggested it again, I would encourage each student to make a blessing box to take home, then return at the end of the month. It's hard to remember between school and school.) When they were done, I returned. This was a week ago, on Monday. The kids had studied all about Ethiopia and they showed me what they had learned.

They studied about the food, culture, money, clothing, geography, etc, and created a display outside their room. It was pretty cool! I collected the money and took pictures of the class to show to Woudneh.

I learned that Woudneh had come to the United States and was actually going to be in Arizona on Friday! I thought it must be fate, so I made plans to attend a fundraiser he would be at. I decided to bring Elise with me on the trip even though it was a lot of driving. We got to stay with the awesome Breinholt family. Elise LOVES their daughter McKenna and I took the two of them to dinner but first we stopped in at the Mesa Temple Visitor Center for a quick walk around. After that, we met up with Lisa's sister Kristi (whom I haven't seen since high school-fun!) for dinner. It was a great way to kick off the weekend.

Saturday we got to go to Rochelle's home to meet with Woudneh. When I saw him I cried. He is one of the most amazing men I have ever met. The adversity that he has overcome in his life is beyond belief. I thought of many of the stories he told me about his younger years. He lived as a slave for his grandfather (it's a cultural thing) and wore the same set of clothing for 3 years. While a teen, he volunteered for the army thinking it might be the ticket to an education. He fought in a war between Ethiopia and Eritrea where he suffered beyond imagination. To return home from the war (1000 kilometers) he had only enough money to buy 1 pack of gum. He took the pack and split it into pieces to sell to other soldiers. Then he took that money and bought another pack, then another, and another. Over and over until he earned enough money to buy food and passage home. His mother hadn't known if he was dead or alive for all the years he was in the war. She told me that she would pray each night for God to keep Woudneh safe. She slept on the floor of her room each night, hoping that by giving up her own comfort, God would in turn bless her son with a small measure of comfort. She told me she so happy when her son walked into their home one day after the war, alive.

I could go on and on. I asked him many questions about himself while we were in Ethiopia, otherwise I don't think he'd have told me most of his experiences. After the war he took a business class where the instructor asked everyone to write down their life goals. Woudneh told me that he wrote down not only business goals, but goals for his life, his family, and those he wanted to help. One of the things he wanted to do was help children. So now, in Dhera, he is. He has come full circle, overcoming opposition, learning, growing, succeeding, then helping children just like him.

We met him at Rochelle's and presented the two of them with a check. I had taken the money from Elise's class and added to it (that is a good lesson of fundraising--corporate sponsors). We presented it to them and they told us it would be used to help children in Dhera. Hope Arising will be there again in April and will take pictures of the supplies our money will buy.
There was a big fundraising event Saturday night as well. It was actually a birthday party for a girl I don't know who has gone to Ethiopia many times since our first trip there. I figured she wouldn't mind if we crashed as long as we donated to get in! :) Lisa was a great sport and went along with me. She ran into several people she knew which was kinda fun. There was Ethiopian food and music, but the highlight for me was seeing Rochelle and Woudneh once again. Jessica was also there as she had flown in from Denver for the party. Standing with Woudneh, we both were crying as we talked about our memories of Ethiopia and our love for our experiences there. It was very emotional for me. I thought about the people there and how hard life was. I saw how what had started with a step into the dark, a little leap of faith, a few girls catching a plane to AFRICA...seemingly small. And now it has grown. Children are being helped. Water is being piped. Doctors have come to treat the truly needy.

And it continues to grow. Amazing. Humbling. Awe inspiring.

Fun sidenote: I ran into an old mission friend. Dave (I call him Richardson) actually knew Jen. Jen? It was her birthday that the even was built around. She was trying to raise 40K on her 40th birthday for Hope Arising and the children of Dhera.
The weekend continued on beautifully with Elise and I attending the Breinholt's ward before coming home. It was such a sweet, sweet weekend. I feel truly blessed to know all of the wonderful people that I do. And it is all because of the Gospel. It is a huge fringe benefit to get to mingle with amazing people when you choose to put yourself on a path to follow Christ.

Elise and I loaded up the big truck to head for home. Garin was super cool and helped me tie all of my stuff down correctly (thank you!) About this time, Elise and McKenna disappeared. I guess Elise wasn't ready to leave yet either (did I mention how good the weather was?) Thanks again to everyone that made our weekend so great-thanks to the Breinholts for keeping us comfy! :) And thank you to all of those that try to help others through small and simple things, because I know that it matters!