Wednesday, November 30, 2011

PAH!

pic here

My friend Michelle issued a challenge to blog everyday in November, and I did it. I DID IT! It's a funny thing, but when I am forced to write every day it actually triggers some sort of thinking mechanism that makes it easier to come up with things to write about by the end of the month.

Here are the final 6 things I am thankful for - one for each day of this month.

25. Words! And the ability to speak and write them in some coherent fashion. The more words I've got in my arsenal, the easier it is to say what I'm trying to say.

26. The grocery store and the truckers who bring the stuff there and the people who sell it to the companies that ship it through the truckers who bring it to my grocery store. Then all I have to do is hop in my car and buy it. I bet the pioneers would have thought that was awesome. Or lazy.

27. Christmas spirit. It brings out the best in (most) people and makes good things happen.

28. My kids' friends. They are good kids who come from good families. I'm thankful for them - and I like them. Really.

29. Inspiration. From books, talks, friends, family, songs, church leaders, quotes, etc. It helps keep me going in the right direction. It brings me encouragement, peace and happiness.

30. American Sign Language. If you don't know it, you should. It is an amazingly expressive language that comes in handy more than you'd think. If you do know ASL, the title of this blog post was for you. Isn't the picture that goes with it perfect?

I am also thankful for people who read my blog. It's nice to know that people like what I have to say enough to come back for more. Thanks, friends!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I Like You. Really.

Some of my children have informed me at different times that their friends are either scared of me or think that I don't like them. I'm not sure why this is. I can't really think of many of my kids' friends that I don't like.

I'm going to be traveling as a chaperone with Thumbelina and the cross country team on a trip soon and I was thinking of what I could do so that the kids won't think I'm some meanie-pants parent. I thought maybe I could make myself a shirt that gets the message across for me.

First I came up with this:

but it seemed a bit creepy.

So I thought something like this might get the message across:

except that sometimes I am scary. And I don't want to be a liar. I mean, have you ever seen the way my nostrils flare when I laugh? Or my stalker-smile? Scary.

Well, how about this one?
Nah. More lies.

Well, this one would dispel any worries about my not liking them, right?

But that didn't seem subtle enough. And a bit too needy.

So I finally decided it would be more fun to just mess with them and wear something like this:

Maybe they're right. Maybe I am just scary.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Reunions


There is something about family that just becomes ingrained in you. Their faces, the memories, everything is somehow etched upon your heart and stored away in the attic of your mind in a way that time has no power over the bond that was forged.

Last week was a week of reunions.

My Aunt Bonnie was reunited with her husband after 20 long years apart from each other. Just the thought of that brings emotion to the surface for me. Words can not describe how I love those two.


The gathering for Aunt Bonnie's funeral service was a reunion as well. I am not sure how to explain the happiness that came in seeing each of my Blitsch cousins again. It didn't matter that it has been such a long, long time since we've had the chance to visit. As I met their kids, laughed, cried and shared memories I just reveled in the feeling of belonging. It was wonderful to be a part of something that I didn't realize I had missed for so long.

When it was time to go our separate ways I was filled with melancholy because I knew that the chances of seeing any of them again were small. I wanted to stay longer, learn more about what they think and do and who they are. I thought about taking pictures at the funeral service and the gathering for lunch afterward but somehow it felt like taking pictures would rob the moment. I don't know how to explain that - I know it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I preferred to work at capturing each person in my memory, I suppose.

I have thought of each of them every day since, with hope for another reunion in this lifetime.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Overheard

picture here

I was not sure what to write about today so I just started transcribing a conversation between two of my kids. Any guesses as to which two kids are having this conversation? First one to guess correctly wins.

I'm going to mix up the whole thing.
That's impossible. Like Rubik's Cubes, if you twist one of the corners it is impossible to do.
You would know that.
I do know that. Because I've done it before. And it screws people up and it's hilarious. Okay, now do it.
I AM doing it.
No you're not. Why is the 1 down there?
Holy cow! I am doing it.
The 1 goes on top.
So?
Now the 3 and the 4.
Goodness! I'm going to do it backwards in a different way.
That doesn't make sense.
Stop talking.
Put the 4 on the top!
No. Oh, my gosh!
Here, Nub (headless Barbie) will help you. Nuuuub. Nuuuub. Nub, nub. Whoa! Look at this. Nub is backwards. Nuuuuub! Dude, her waist turns way too easily.
STOP!
Nuuuub. Look. It's a nub-stand. Nub-stand! You can't even get the 4 up.
It's all in order. That's what you said.
Put the 12 up there.
It's in ORDER!
15 up. 12 over. 9 down. 11 over. 14 up. 9 over. I'm legitimately trying to get this right. 13, 12, okay, keep going...
Never mind. It will never work. It's like the Rubik's Cube. Mom, you should buy me a Rubik's Cube. 4 by 4. 5 by 5. (whispered) 5...by...5! It's only $25.32. Mom, do you love me $30?
Look, Nub can do the splits.
Are you writing what I'm saying? STOP WRITING WHAT I'M SAYING!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ignorance Is Bliss

I was able to attend the funeral service for my sweet Aunt Bonnie this week. My favorite part of the whole experience was getting to see my cousins (her kids) who I haven't been able to visit with in 20+ years. Funerals are really reunions, aren't they? My cousin Scott was as crazy as ever (just the way I love him) and at one point I confessed the following story from my childhood:

Scott and his wife used to have me come and babysit their daughter, Heather (now age 28! Man, am I OLD!) while they would go out for the night. They would always tell me to help myself to anything in the kitchen, so like any young babysitter, I would scout the goods and then decide what I was going to help myself to. On one occasion, the pickings were slim.

I started to pull things out of the freezer in hopes of discovering a stray popsicle or ice cream sandwich when I found a small white box. I was instantly interested in what this box could contain and opened it up to peer inside.

It was a cake! A small white cake with pretty silver candy balls and lacy-looking frosting. Why in the world would they be hiding this in the back of the freezer? And then it occurred to me - they weren't hiding it! They didn't want it.

I found a fork and took a small bite. It was wonderful. I had another few bites and then decided to box it back up and set it back where I had found it - just in case.

The next time I came to babysit I checked the freezer immediately. The box was still there! I took it out and ate a bit more this time then again set it back in the freezer behind the frozen vegetables and pot pies. They never said a word.

Over time, I ate that entire cake. Man, was it ever delicious.

It didn't occur to me until many years later, when I learned of the tradition of saving the top tier of your wedding cake and eating it on your first anniversary, that I realized what I had done.

I kept that secret all these years and finally was able to confess my deed to Scott. He threw his head back and laughed. And later, when we were saying our goodbyes, gave me a big hug, kissed me on the cheek and said, "I'm glad you liked that cake, Gerberta. I'm so glad you enjoyed that whole cake."

Me, too.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Knowledge Is The Key

photo from ehow.com

If you have read my posts over at Four Perspectives, this story may sound familiar. It is a post I wrote in November of 2009 but I thought it was worth reposting here.

Yesterday I had to run some errands at a local SuperStore. As I exited my car and tried to shove my keys into my purse I discovered that they would not fit. The keys were so bulky that I could not get them to fit inside my pockets, either. Dumb keys, I thought to myself as I threw them into the child-seat of my shopping cart.

Once my purchases were complete I made my exit. As I approached the corral for the shopping carts in the parking lot I noticed a man in tattered clothes sifting through a trash can there.

"You have a Merry Christmas!" he said to me, smiling. I grabbed my purchases from my cart, responded with, "You too!" and pushed my cart into the corral, hurrying towards my car.

I heard a voice from behind me.

"Miss! Wait! Miss!" the man called after me. I glanced over my shoulder and confirmed that it was the poorly dressed man who had just wished me a merry Christmas. To be honest, I was initially a bit frightened. Why was this man rushing towards me? Was he going to ask for money? Should I hurry to my car and get inside?

I stopped near my car, turning to face him. "Yes?" I asked, still somewhat nervous as to his intentions.

"You left your keys in the cart," he said as he handed them to me, still smiling.

I sighed. I was grateful and told him so.

"I used to have keys," he told me. "I remember how much I hated to lose them."

In that moment it seemed as if a million questions passed through my mind. What had happened to bring him to his current state? Did he lose his job? Did he have a home somewhere? A family? What sorts of locks did he open with the keys he no longer had now?

But before I could say another word, he was walking away. "You have a good day, now," he said with a sideways wave.

"Thanks again. Thanks so much," I called after him.

I looked at my keys. Keys to my car(s!) and my home; keys to closets and safes. So many keys. Keys that I complain about when really, each key represents a comfort or blessing in my life.

I had never been so thankful for a bulky set of keys.

And thankful to the man who reminded me that I take too much for granted.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ten More Things


Happy Thanksgiving! I hope your day is filled with good people, plentiful blessings and loads of pie topped with freshly whipped cream.

Here are ten more things that I am thankful for...

15. Socks! They add that little bit of crazy to any outfit and keep my toes warm and happy.

16. Andes Mints. I have just rediscovered these and I can't get enough of them!

17. Books. Love them!

18. The company Allen works for. It is seriously the best place in the world to work. They are family-oriented and treat their employees very, very well.

19. Hats. They make bad hair days much more bearable.

20. Great deals and amazing bargains! I totally get an adrenaline rush when I save money on something that was needed. (And even when I find something that is not needed.)

21. My healthy body. When I think of all of the intricacies involved in the creation of the human body my mind is blown.

22. Tender mercies. You realize that they happen all the time when you make the time to recognize them in your life.

23. The four seasons. I have my favorites (head nod to spring and autumn) but I love living in a place where the seasons change so I can experience all of the beauty that comes with each one.

24. Mail. I can't say enough how great it is to get handwritten cards in my mailbox! It's becoming a lost art.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup


I had never seen a butternut squash before a couple of weeks ago. So when a neighbor gave us a few of them my initial thought was what am I going to do with this? I decided to make good use of this gift by looking it up online. I could not believe all of the recipes I found using this squash! Butternut Squash Soup by far sounded the best, so I made some. I did quite a bit of tweaking of the recipe to fit what I thought sounded good and it turned out pretty amazing.

Everyone loved it, even Little O who won't eat a vegetable for anything.

Want to see how simple it is? I thought you'd never ask!

By the way, this makes an enormous pot of soup.

First of all you halve two good sized butternut squash and scoop out all of the seeds and gunk.
Set each of the four halves on baking sheets,
cover them with foil and bake them at 350 degrees for about an hour (until the squash is soft).
While the squash is cooking, make the broth mixture. Dice up an onion.
Melt the butter (this butter is so happy to be a part of such tasty soup!)
in a large pot, then add onion and sautee until the onion is tender.
Next you'll add the chicken broth. The kind I bought (at the Dollar Store!) came in a package marked as 'four one cup servings', so I just dumped in one whole container
then measured out the rest of what I needed from another container.
Measure out the marjoram, black pepper and cayenne pepper
and add them to the broth.
(It's a tiny amount of cayenne but it gives it a tiny bit of kick that someone like me, who doesn't like anything spicy, could appreciate. If you like spicy stuff you may want to add more.)
Bring it all to a boil then turn off the burner and cover the pot until the squash is done.
Scoop the squash out of its shell with a spoon.
Here's the total amount of squash-meat I scraped from the 4 halves:
For the next step, I dumped all of the broth into a pitcher so it would be easier to add to the squash in the blender.
Puree portions of the squash with some of the broth and some of the whipping cream (just eyeball it. It's all going to end up in the soup, anyway).
(Side note: It adds some texture to the soup if you don't blend up all of the onions. Just remove them from the broth with a slotted spoon and return them to the pot. We've tried it both ways and prefer a few chunks of onion throughout the soup.)
Return the pureed goodness to the pot and heat everything through. (Don't let it boil.)
Serve it up with some sour cream (optional) and crusty bread. (Also optional. But why wouldn't you?)

(It's easy to make the sour cream look fancy as in the picture at the top of this post. Just scoop some into a sandwich baggie
and snip a tiny corner off then squeeze it onto the soup in whatever cool pattern you like.)

This is the perfect fall/winter soup. Delish!


Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 large butternut squash
  • 6+ cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 pint whipping cream
1. Cut each squash in half and scoop out the seeds and gunk. Place all 4 halves on baking sheets and cover with foil, bake in a 350 degree oven for about an hour (or until squash is soft).

2. While squash is cooking, saute onions in butter in a large pot until tender. Add chicken broth, marjoram, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil then turn off the burner and cover the pot until the squash is done.

3. Puree squash, broth and whipping cream in a blender in batches until smooth. Return pureed goodness to the pot and heat everything through. (Do not let it boil.) If it seems too thick, add a little more chicken broth to the pureed mixture.

4. Top with sour cream if that sounds good to you, then serve it up with some crusty sourdough bread or homemade rolls.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Things I'm Worried I Forgot


Once Coolister left for college I started to worry that I might have forgotten to teach him certain things. In fact, things kept coming to mind at random times and I would think - Does Coolister know that? Did we teach him that? So I started to write them down in a notebook I keep in my purse.

Here is the list so far...

-If something sounds too good to be true, it almost always is.

-Always open doors for females, it doesn't matter what age they are.

-Say 'Thank you' often!

-Righty=tighty, lefty=loosey.

-Shepherd's Pie is super easy but a lot more healthy than Ramen. (Layer ground meat, spaghetti sauce, potatoes then cheese.)

-Be a friend to everyone, even the jerks.

-Always return or replace the things you borrow in better condition.

-Eat a fruit or vegetable with every meal.

-Respect your elders. Even when you know (think) you're right.

-You can not fully understand the power of a hand-written Thank You note.

-Sincere compliments go a long way, too.

-"Made from scratch" is ALWAYS better than "from the box". Better tasting and better for you.

-If you want to make sure you're buying healthy bread, make sure the number of grams of fiber is always higher than the number of grams of sugar.

-If you're ever feeling down, do something nice for someone else. It's amazing what serving others can do to lift your mood.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Double Trouble


I always wanted to have twins. I mean, think about it, TWO babies from ONE pregnancy? Doesn't sound so bad to me! Well, it never happened. But whatever. It turns out I just had to wait a while for my twins.


There are many people who can't tell Cowgirl and Princess apart and (even better!) they love pretending to be twins. When we went school shopping they chose a couple of shirts that matched for the days they wanted to dress alike.


Today happened to be one of those days.


These girls have a love/hate relationship so I am always in support of the things they want to do on the 'love' side of that relationship. I love my crazy twinners!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lost and Found


On a recent family trip to the local grocery store for some soft serve ice cream, our Little O was somehow left behind at the deli. I'm sure it had to do with the fact that I was picking up some groceries, some of the kids were using the restroom and others were wandering around whoknowswhere when it was decided that we should load up in the van. No one had been specifically assigned to Little O and I imagine that he was quite content watching the television at the service deli while enjoying his melty ice cream cone - until he noticed that he was alone.

As I stood in the checkout line I got a call on my cell phone from Coolister asking if Little O was with me. "No," I answered. "Is he lost?"

"He's not with us in the van. But maybe he's with ElemenoB."

I was just about to pay when I saw Allen come in to the store with a look of concern on his face. "Little O's not with you?" he asked, but then, seeing the answer was in the negative, he took off to look for him.

I hurriedly paid then rushed to the customer service desk to have them alert their employees of our lost little boy - blonde hair, in a dark green coat. I saw Coolister canvassing the south side of the store and panic started to set in. Where was my little boy? Had he wandered outside? Was he scared? Had someone taken him? Oh, my heart.

Before I had time to figure out where to begin searching, Allen appeared with Little O in his arms. A nice lady had found him holding his ice cream and crying and had brought him with her to the check out, after which she planned to bring him to the customer service desk and help him find his family.

I have never felt such relief.

We gathered the search party into the van and Little O would not leave my side. He was obviously frightened by the whole experience and would not stop saying my name. I tried to get him into his carseat but he kept crying, "I want to hold you, mom! I just want to hold you!" which is his way of saying that he wants me to hold him. I buckled him in and sat near him so he could hold my hand. Our sweet little guy finally fell asleep holding my hand and anytime I tried to remove it, he gripped it tighter, even as he slept. And I didn't mind. I was just so happy to have his little hand in mine.

As I have had time to reflect on our experience I have had many thoughts. But the one that stands out the most is that we all need to look out for each other. We are just a big family, really, sharing this temporary existence. When one of us becomes lost, in whatever way, we should form a search party and not give up until the lost is found. Once we are all reunited, sometimes we just need to hold the hand of the one who has been found until things are right with them again and they're ready to stand alone.

Little O has been a little clingy since that day, rarely leaving my side.

Actually, maybe it's not him. Maybe it's me.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Two Lists of Ten

photo here

Ten Things I Want To Do While I'm Still Living:

1. Visit New York City
2. Perform on stage again
3. Help someone in a life-changing way
4. Visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida
5. Own an outfit that I love, right down to the shoes
6. Drive a bathtub Porsche for a day
7. Visit Disney's California Adventure side
8. Be in a really cool flash mob
9. Plan an amazingly awesome party for someone
10. Write a book

Ten Movies That I Love:

1. Enchanted
2. Newsies
3. Remember the Titans
4. The Truman Show
5. Ever After
6. Radio
7. {Can't think of the title}
8. You've Got Mail
9. Tangled
10. While You Were Sleeping

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Soul Delighteth in the Song of the Heart


One Sunday a year at our church the congregation gets to meet all together and hear the kids age 3-11 talk and sing about what they have learned all year. It's called the Primary Sacrament Meeting Program and it's always a great meeting because, no matter what, the kids make it awesome. Occasionally there are a couple of special musical numbers as part of this program as well - and this year our family was asked to sing a song called "A Child's Prayer".

We only had a few weeks notice and, admittedly, we did not practice as often as we should have. This meant that, come Sunday morning, we were singing the song repeatedly until we seemed to finally get it down. Even the littlest kids could sing the beginning line, Heavenly Father, are you really there? by the time we left for church.

When it came time for us to sing everything went wonderfully - including Baby O falling asleep in Allen's arms as we sang. Once we got home from church, we couldn't seem to escape this song that the kids could barely even remember the words to that morning. Someone was almost constantly singing the words or humming the tune. It was kind of nice, actually.

The next day Allen asked Princess to say our family prayer before bed. She stood, bowed her head and closed her eyes, then instead of speaking the words she began to sing the tune that was stuck in her head: Heavenly Father... then she quickly stopped herself.

"Oops!" she laughed. "Sorry!"

It took all of us a few minutes to stop laughing and settle down long enough for her to start over on family prayer again.

I like to think that our Heavenly Father enjoyed that, too.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Being Thankful

quote from here

I have been reading all sorts of great quotes about gratitude and being thankful this month. They serve as good reminders of all that I have to be thankful for and how to best express that gratitude.

Here are a few of my favorites:

quote from here


quote from here



quote from here


This last quote is my favorite of them all. I want to be more like this. It is so true! When I'm around people who complain and dwell on the negative in their life it can be exhausting. I'm sure the same is true for those who have to listen to me gripe and complain about silly things. I want to be someone who is known as a person who 'brightens all around them'. Isn't that an awesome description?

Here are 14 things I am thankful for, in no particular order: (one for each day of the month so far)

1. My handsome, hard-working, handyman husband.
2. My crazy, fun, intelligent children.
3. Our friendly neighborhood and warm, cozy home.
3. My in-laws. All of them! (I seriously married into the most awesome family!)
4. Second-hand stores.
5. Cousin Raylene for making me feel like a rockstar any time I get a haircut.
6. Bakeries.
7. Music.
8. The family I was born into.
9. Friends that are like family. (You know who you are, right?)
10. Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
11. Deaf culture. (I LOVE this part of the definition I linked to:
Members of the Deaf community tend to view deafness as a difference in human experience rather than a disability.)
12. My washer and dryer.
13. My camera - and pictures of the people/things I love.
14. Laughter, especially when it's coming from one of my kids.