Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Things I Know

*It's nice to have a little work-sanctioned break from work to chat with a friend.*

*When Culver's sends you a promotional email it's hard to think about sticking to your diet.*

*Seeing someone's online signature that says, "Being overweight is hard. Losing weight is hard. Choose your hard." makes you glad to have stuck with the diet and have lost 10 pounds so far.*

*It's awesome to hear my daughters play little songs on the piano.*

*It's even awesome to hear them screech out a few notes on their violin/violas.*

*Finding warm eggs in the nest makes the "chicken clean up duty" all worthwile.

*Warm days and cool nights are perfect weather.*

*I'm glad my friend Leigh uses this posting format now and then so I can copy her.*

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Homework & piano practice

You will very, very seldom hear me complain about being a mother. I'm so happy to be one that I don't think it's right to complain. HOWEVER, can I just say a few words about homework and piano practice? Time-consuming! I spend most of the time from the end of work at 4:30 until nearly bedtime simultaneously making dinner, listening to the daily chatter from the girls, and cajoling them to do their homework. We eat dinner in the middle somewhere, then back to homework and piano practice. Some of the girls need very direct and firm supervision to get these things done and it's hard to keep on them and do everything else.

Okay, so there.

Now the good part: we have two little piano players in our house! In fact, they are going to each play a piece in the Primary Talent Show this Thursday. Each piece will be performed in sixty seconds or less. Maybe a little bit more next year, but I'm pleased as Punch they are able to perform this year.

And about that homework? I see my daughters reading more each day, learning two-digit multiplication, and learning parts of sentences. Cool. And to think doing homework reinforced it all!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

One of my favorite apostles told us how much Heavenly Father loves us

This is from the women's general Relief Society meeting on Saturday

Menu Plan Sunday

Monday: Skillet Chicken Nachos

Tuesday: Asian-style Shredded Pork Wraps

Wednesday: Quiche that we didn't get to last week because we dined at the leftover buffet instead

Thursday: Chicken enchiladas I made and put in the freezer two weeks ago

Breakfast: Crunchy Granola Wedges


Thursday, September 22, 2011

A drive up the mountain

A couple of Saturdays ago dh and I joined the Mercedes Benz Club of our city and drove 30 miles up a nearby mountain. It was 97(36) degrees here in the valley and 67(20) up there. Delightful!

On the way up we stopped at a lookout and took pictures. This is overlooking our city.Aren't we cute?

At the top we stopped at a German-themed restaurant and had lunch. I had a veggie sandwich with German potato salad and red cabbage. Unfortunately we sat at a table with a man from the club who wouldn't stop talking! Dh and I love to talk and talk to each other, but we barely got a word in edgewise, let alone a chance to talk to each other. Oh well! We'll know which table to avoid next time!

Since dh's car is a convertible, we had the top down. I had a ponytail holder and a headband and kept my hair under control. I had sunscreened my face, but forgot about my upper chest. What a sunburn! First one this year.

It was great to get out with dh and enjoy the beautiful weather and each other's company.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Getting ready for his mission

As you know, Kevin is getting ready to leave on his mission. He is going to Brazil in October or November or December. It's a bit fuzzy there because his visa hasn't been granted yet, so he doesn't know exactly where he'll get his language training. Unlike some groups that send missionaries to foreign countries, the LDS Church only sends missionaries legally and to countries that have invited missionaries. If permission is withdrawn for any reason, the missionaries are too. Everything is done very much on the up and up. If the visa comes quickly, he'll go to Brazil for his language training. If his mission start date comes and there is no visa, he'll go to Utah to start his language training.

We have quite a number of Portuguese speakers on our family, both native and as a second or third language, so I can imagine there could be lots secret Portuguese speaking going on at family reunions. Gotta have one of those one of these years.

I went to the post office to get my supply of stamps for sending mail to Brazil. 98 cents to all foreign countries except Canada and Mexico, which are 80 cents. I asked to buy some aerograms but either they are not made any longer or that post office didn't have any. I remember going through a lot of those when all my friends were on missions.

Kevin seems pleased to be headed off on this wonderful adventure. Love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are his first reasons for going, but the adventure part is good too. ;-)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Menu Plan Sunday

Monday: Tortilla soup from the freezer, biscuits

Doesn't this look good? Molten Chocolate Espresso Lava Cakes (with Postum powder, not coffee)

Tuesday: Chicken Tikka Masala Edited to add: I can't say we liked this one much. Too cinnamon-y and garam masala-y for everyone but the kid who likes cinnamon in everything. She had seconds.

Wednesday: Quiche from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest Now that it's cooler the chickens are laying more eggs so it's time to get back to Wednesday egg dinners.

Thursday: Chicken Tortilla Casserole I have a similiar chicken enchilada casserole but I haven't made it in several years. This one looks a little lighter and that's how we're eating these days.

Friday: Pizza

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Girls' Activity Day

Every two weeks I am responsible to put on a 75 minute activity program for the Church girls ages 8-11. I'm supposed to have an assistant but I don't. Every time I feel stressed out as I try to decide what to do for the girls. I have a booklet that has goals the girls are to accomplish before their 12th birthday. I get good ideas from the book, but I've cherry picked my favorites already, as I've had this position for a year and a half.

Today was Activity Day and when I woke up this morning I still didn't know what I was going to do for the girls' lesson/activity and no idea what the snack was going to be.

I got online and came across a site dedicated to Activity Day. Reading through it gave me the idea that we should be working on one of the Articles of Faith each time, as the girls need to memorize all thirteen before they turn twelve. I can do that.

We worked on the second Article of Faith and I read them an illustrated story about Adam and Eve and talked about why LDS babies are not baptized and why some other churches believe they should be. I reminded them they should always be respectful of others' beliefs when explaining why we believe the way we do.

The blog gave me an idea to teach about properly setting a table. I got out samples of all our standard and nonstandard table utensils and showed them to the girls as I put them in place and they drew pictures of the proper table setting. That kept their hands busy while I talked and demonstrated.

When I went to the store today to pick up some milk I still didn't know what our snack was going to be. When I saw the beautiful strawberries on sale, I decided to serve strawberry shortcake. As soon as I got home I mixed up a cake and got it into the oven. Thank goodness for Betty Crocker.A tub of whipped topping and Grandma to clean, slice, and sugar the strawberries and we were set. It was a hit with all but one of the eight girls.

Once again another successful Activity Day has passed. My own girls were really sorry when everyone left and wanted "the party" to have lasted longer. Success!

Monday, September 12, 2011

It didn't turn out like I thought it would . . . .

. . . it turned out better!

The day before our cleaning lady was supposed to come in June, I ran into her at swimming lessons and she told me a fishy story about not being able to clean our house because her car wasn't working and she was using her father's. She said she was thinking about taking the summer off of housecleaning and I said that was okay because I had already told her I might take the summer off too because it was too hard to keep my girls out of her way or to keep them out of the house for the 4 hours she took to clean.

Fast forward to the first day of school. I saw her as she dropped her ds off for Kindergarten and said hello. I asked if she was going to clean for me again because my house was missing her. She was sort of non-commital so I didn't push it.

A couple of weeks later I wrote her an email asking if she was going to come back because if not I needed to find another cleaning lady. She wrote back a long story about her father's having macular degeneration, he was going to have an operation, she'd be busy taking care of him, and she didn't see herself returning to cleaning houses any time soon. I wrote back that I'd find another cleaning lady and good luck in the future.

One week later . . . I saw a big, fresh-looking sign in the neighborhood advertising cleaning services. I pulled out my cell phone to check the number and, you guessed it, it was her number! I saw several other signs as I drove here and there in the neighborhood.

So, what is the deal?
1. She doesn't like to clean for us for whatever reason.
2. She wanted more money but was afraid to ask.
3. She's a big liar.

Well, #3 for sure, but who knows about the other reasons.

A week later we were talking to some friends from Church and one of them said he and his elderly wife had a great cleaning lady who had been with them for a couple of years. Now, this man is functionally blind and his wife has very limited range of motion, so we wondered if they really knew if the cleaning was good or not, but we had him pass our contact information on.

The gal came out and gave us a price for her and her daughter to clean our house together. It was about 50% higher than we'd been paying, but we decided to try her out anyway and see if she was worth the extra 50%.

Way. As in "way worth the extra 50%." She pulled out the sofas to vacuum, she cleaned the baseboards, she wiped the vent covers. She was meticulous. She and her daughter spent a total of about 9 hours cleaning and didn't stop to run out for a coffee or pick up a child from school the way our first one did.

So, I think we have found ourselves a new cleaning lady. Our house appreciates it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Menu Plan Sunday

Does this menu look familiar? It should! Last week was kind of a crazy week and we ended up eating leftovers and even ~gasp!~ frozen pizza on the night my mom and I had dinner with our church ladies. So here it is again for a new week:

Monday: Easy Chicken and Rice
Tuesday: John Bizetti (pasta, beef, tomato, onion and pepper, and cheese bake)
Wednesday: Potato and Egg Burritos Make and freeze extras.
Thursday: Chicken enchiladas
Friday: Pizza

Friday, September 9, 2011

Such a busy week!

The week started out with a holiday--Labor Day and a BBQ and swim with friends. But any mother knows a "holiday" with the kids home isn't a holiday for the parents, satisfying though it may be.

I had lots of work this week which is always nice when the paycheck comes. My second job involves being paid to think. I smile when that comes into my mind because I remember when I was little my brother L announced to the family that when he grew up he wanted to get paid to think. The job involves my listening to sound files of foreign people speaking their best English while I determine where their performance falls on a scale of 0-3 or 0-5. Lots of thinking, believe me. However, the week was kind of off-kilter due to the holiday and an apparently huge testing volume. All week there were pleas from the company for anyone with any extra time to work to please sign themselves up. I added one shift that way, but my family time is sacred, so I resisted their efforts to get me to sign up for Saturday or Sunday.

All week the girls were working on Student Council campaigns for E and C. E ran for vice-president and C ran for treasurer. In the end neither won, but they had a good week making campaign T-shirts, pin-on campaign buttons, posters, and writing their campaign speeches. Dh was their main supporter in doing those things and he really put a lot of kindly effort into it. He's a great dad.

The girls also started orchestra at school. Fourth and fifth graders can learn to play the violin, viola, or cello. E chose the violin and C the viola. Perfect. We went to the music store on Saturday and rented the instruments and bought lesson books. We think it's a great benefit of the PTA which pays for the orchestra teacher. Oh, the orchestra teacher happens to be the mother of the girls' piano teacher and she's the former Relief Society president in our ward.

I have a little vacation this weekend because Monday is a Korean holiday, Chuseok, which is Korean Thanksgiving. That means no work for me at that job from Sunday afternoon until I start again Tuesday afternoon. Kind of the opposite of the other job--I hate when the paycheck comes without those two days on it, but I sure do enjoy the little break and time with the kids.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Easy Chicken and Rice
Tuesday: John Bizetti (pasta, beef, tomato, onion and pepper, and cheese bake)
Wednesday: Potato and Egg Burritos Make and freeze extras.
Thursday: Chicken enchiladas
Friday: Grade school election day--dinner out to celebrate the end of the campaign