Roy, Sheena, D, K, A, C and L

Roy, Sheena, D, K, A, C and L

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

The anniversary we keep celebrating

Now we may not have done something big and/or elaborate for our 10 year anniversary but we have celebrated it repeatedly.  Remember, we went to the Forgotten Carols the day after Thanksgiving.  Then the day after our anniversary we got a babysitter and went out (Christmas shopping but it was out nonetheless!)  Then this weekend we've had more celebratory time together.
We had planned on going to the temple while we were in St. George visiting Roy's parents.  (We're in St. George now....)  It is especially sentimental because this is where we were married.  It was decided we would do some family name sealings.  I also had the opportunity to stand as maternal proxy while my MIL was sealed to her parents.  I was honored she would ask me to do that for her.
Roy and I ended up spending a few hours in the temple doing sealings with my in-laws and some other relatives.  We knew this would probably be the case so we had arranged for my parents to take our kids with them back to Delta and we will follow tomorrow.  (My parents were down visiting my grandparents near St. George.)  This means that we not only didn't have to worry about them while we were in the temple but we also got an 24 hour reprieve without having to care for the kids.  Don't get me wrong, I love those kids like nobody's business but sometimes reprieves are nice.
After sealings, Roy and I spent time walking around the temple grounds and visitor's center.  It was so nice just to enjoy one another's company.  I love spending time with Roy.
Tonight was spent with family - super extended family like my FIL's brother and cousins.  It was ... . ... . .. not as bad as I'd feared.  We had some really good conversations and laughed with some great people.  It was a good lesson to keep an open mind.  Something I have to keep learning, unfortunately.
Tomorrow we're headed back to Delta and our kids.  I'm looking forward to a peaceful drive with Roy and plenty of time to talk, uninterrupted!  Such a precious and rare commodity these days!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

We decided to go to Utah for Christmas with our families this year.  We'd been planning on going after Christmas but decided instead spend Christmas eve and Christmas day with my family before going down to visit Roy's family.  Unfortunately, both Roy and I had responsibilities on Sunday that we felt we should be there for so we didn't leave until early early Monday morning.
Roy likes to sleep for half a night then get up super early and leave so the kids can still sleep much of the way but so he's not driving all night.  This has worked well for us in the past.  This time it was misery embodied for most of us.
To begin with, K (the ONE kid who doesn't get car sick) groaned that her stomach hurt before we were even loaded in the van.  Sure enough, a mere 20 blocks from home she started throwing up.  We should have taken this as a sign and turned back right then but we were way too optimistic to do that!  Besides, she hadn't eaten since dinner the night before so it wasn't too bad.
The trip just got worse from there.  We hit snow in about 5 hours in (it was still dark) and eventually decided to put on chains for a while.  Roy got sick.  I got sick.  The only people who didn't get sick were the two who usually get sick!  Six hours in Roy starts talking about turning back.  No way.  We are going to make it come snow or high water.  And eventually we did.  It took us about 2 hours longer than usual, which considering the roads and illnesses was pretty good time.
Thankfully Grandma and Grandpa Bishop were all set to do fun things with the kids.  Grandma decorated cookies with the kids while Roy and I took naps.  They played and everyone ate dinner.  We rounded out the night with our annual re-enactment of the Christmas story including the prophecies of Samuel the Lamanite (played by our little A), the stable scene and the wise men; a singing of everyone's favorite Christmas carols; and stories from Grandpa.  We sent the kids off to bed so Santa could get to work and get to bed.  It turned out to be a pretty good night.  I love the holiday time and I'm so glad we get to spend it with family.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Makin' my life easier on visit at a time

Today was the first day of winter break and we kicked it off with a trip to the dentist for all the kids.  Before you start to think me the Grinch, you should know that my kids LOVE the dentist.  So much so that they have been using their Christmas countdown calendars to also countdown to the day we go to the dentist.  In fact, on Sunday K excitedly announced, "Only 3 more days before we go to the dentist.  I'M SO EXCITED!!"
Weird.
We got there and K was called to go in first.  Of course some nervousness had set in so she wanted me to go with her.  All I did was walk through the door with her and she was transformed.  She hopped right up in her chair.  She was cheery and chatty with everyone.  All the hygienists were getting a huge kick out of her.  Our former Bishop is the Pediatric Orthodontist at this office.  He came over to say "Hi" and declared that next time they video a promotion they should plan it when K is there.  She is a natural spokeswoman - telling everyone how much she loves to come and how she's going to be a dentist when she grows up.
My little A was also pumped up by her sister's enthusiasm.  She got in the big dentist chair and laid back for the hygienist to clean her teeth when it was her turn.  I was super proud of her.  This was the first time she's ever sat in the chair and not on my lap.  No tears were shed.  It was awesome.
D was way down the row of chairs.  I went to check on him a few times but he's an old pro at the dentist.  He's maybe a little too comfortable as I had to remind him to not play with the tools.  He had a consultation with the Orthodontist as there are orthodontics in his future but not for another year at least.  Good times there!
So basically, my kids love their dentist.  I am so happy to have such a great office.  I love that there is not fighting or crying from any of them but actual excited anticipation.  Just one way my  life is made easier!

Update 1/7/2013
A and I were driving home from my Dr. appointment today when from out of nowhere A announces, "When I grow up I'm gonna be Docca Todd!"  He's our dentist.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Thinking Thoughts

This is a post about the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.  I wrote it because I needed to release the thoughts that have been bouncing around my head since Friday.  This tragedy threatens to overwhelm me at times.  I hope you'll be patient with me as I try to process the emotions I'm feeling.

On Friday I taught preschool, got K off the bus and was preparing lunch when I got an automated phone call from the school district.  "In light of recent events across the country, VPS is taking additional precautionary measures, including increased supervision and security, to ensure students and staff members are safe."  Hmm, okay?  There have been some violent acts locally that I figured they were referring to but I decided to log on to the internet to see if there was something up.  And of course there was.
One article was all it took for me to understand the scope of pain fanning across the nation from Connecticut.  A horrific act, unthinkable by all but the most base of minds.  One article changed my day, my weekend and is still lingering today as I kiss K goodbye at the bus stop and drop D off at the front door of his school.  A front door flanked by the principle and a police officer.  
I've thought many times since Friday afternoon, why is this so painful?  There have been other school shootings.  There have been bombings with higher death tolls, even among children.  There are unthinkable acts against humanity occurring every day in other parts of the world.  So what makes this event stand out?
For me the answer is two part.  First of all, this shooting took place in a public elementary school.  We've had school shootings before in this country.  Always they are terrible.  But this was a man who choose to go to a place where the most innocent among us congregate.  He chose the most innocent of those to destroy.  Kindergarten is a time of wonder and excitement as the world of letters, numbers and school in general begins to unfold before young and beautiful minds.  
Second, I am a mother.  I am a mother of the victims.  I have a kindergarten student.  I have an 8 year old.  I send them to school everyday where I trust their teachers to protect, love, teach and nurture their young minds.  So far I have not been disappointed.  Whenever my mind wanders to that hallowed ground in Connecticut, I can't help but see the classroom K goes to every day.  I can't help but think of the two dedicated teachers who work so hard to make school positive for my children.  
And so on Friday I wept.  I wept for the children who died.  I wept for the innocence that was taken from those who survived.  I wept for the teachers who died trying to save their students.  I wept for the teachers who did all they could to protect the students in their classrooms.  I wept for the broken heart of a mother.  I wept for all the Christmas gifts lovingly bought with visions of delighted squeals that will never be heard.  I wept for my children who are safe, my girls downstairs with their innocence in tact and my son blissfully participating in a classroom Christmas party.  I wept for the world in which such an event happens.  Mostly I just wept because there was nothing else to be done.
I wanted to hug my children close to be.  But of course a crying mother is not the security I wanted to give to my girls.  When I could hold myself together, I brought them to me.  We snuggled and giggled in my bed while we watched "Jake and the Neverland Pirates".  I didn't tell them.  Not yet.  We just loved.  And when D got home, he came too.  
But through all these emotions, I have faith.  Even though horrible things happen, evil exists and agency is abused, there is still love and hope.  Although I still feel a cloud of sorrow, I do not feel despair.  I chose to feel hope that comes from knowing with a sure knowledge that those children and all children are loved by God.  I seek comfort from the knowledge that angels attend all children who suffer.  I even take comfort and hope from the knowledge that God will not take away our agency even though it may cause him to suffer and weep as He sees the choices some make.
So for now, I love my children.  I pray for the families who lost those innocent bringers of joy.  I pray for the children who survive that they will be able to sleep peacefully and go to school again someday without fear or anxiety.  I chose to not read the news or stories about the victims because the sorrow of such assaulting violence and even amazing heroism is too much for me to internalize.  I pray for those across the country who do not feel hope - only despair.  And I look to my God for the comfort I need to carry on as a mother and keeper of innocent, beautiful souls.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Decade

Wow.  When you say a decade it makes it seem like I'm really old.  Roy and I have been married for 10 years today.  We got married on Friday the 13 in 2002.  What changes have happened in the last 10 years!  Of course there are the obvious changes:

  • Both of us now have college degrees and Roy has a post graduate degree
  • We have moved 7 times and live in a state with no family nearby
  • We bought a house and a car
  • We're 10 years older than we were
  • Oh, and:

But there some less obvious changes as well.  I was thinking back to our early college days of engagement and marriage.  We had what some may consider a quick courtship.... 6 months and 1 week to the wedding day.   While I wouldn't change how we did things, it did have some laughable consequences.  Looking back we both smile at how awkward we were when we'd see each other on campus.  Hello, we're married but unsure if we want to walk across campus to class together?!  Like I said, laughable and awkward.  It didn't help that Roy was 7 months fresh from his mission when we got married.  Even he will admit he was green!
The last  year especially has seen less obvious changes that are pretty obvious to us.  We've grown closer and shared more - really trying to lean on one another and be confidants.
So what did we do to celebrate this milestone anniversary?  Well, tonight we went to pack meeting and built graham cracker gingerbread houses.  Following which, we put the kids to bed and spent a rocking good time trying to teach Roy how to use Facebook.  He's been "on" Facebook for approaching 2 years now but still doesn't know how to log on.  It's a bit embarrassing....
In honesty, we purchased and attended the Forgotten Carols a few weeks ago as an anniversary gift to ourselves.  We also have a babysitter lined up for tomorrow night too so we can go out to dinner and/or Christmas shopping.  So while it isn't a beach in the tropics, I'm just glad I get to spend my 10 year anniversary happily married to my best friend.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Learning to take a hint

Roy makes me laugh for any number of reasons.  This is what made me laugh today.
A few days ago Roy forwarded me an ad with a movie in it he's seen several times and likes but we haven't bought yet.  I took it as a hint and bought the movie for Christmas.
So today I saw an ad with a talk on CD that's I've been wanting.  I thought I'd pass the favor along and sent him the ad via email.
"I would really like the talk on CD from Sheri Dew that's on sale here.  Just passing that along in case you wanted to know.  I seriously considered buying it at Time Out for Women."
Here's his response:
"Okay. Are you asking me to buy it?"
My reply:
"I'm telling you I would like it and if you wanted to get it for me for Christmas you could put it in my stocking.
You make me laugh and I love you."
Roy:
"Ah."

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Festival of Nativities

Every year a local church does a Festival of Nativities.  We love to go down and see all the nativities on display.  The kids love the hands on 'touching' rooms.  And almost every year I forget my camera.  These were all taken with Roy's cell phone.
 The dress up station was a big hit with the girls.  D donned an angel costume and a wise man costume before deciding he was done.  K went all out with a one woman nativity show that only ended because she had to go to the bathroom eventually.
A was more interested in some of the hands on nativities and puzzles but still managed a few costume changes herself.
They all had a really good time.  A kept pointing out all the babies in the nativities.  K really liked the cat nativities.  D did a scavenger hunt where he had to find a list of different nativities throughout the rooms.  It is a very well planned production every year.  I'm glad these are memories we can make with the kids.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Annual Christmas Tree Adventure

Saturday morning we went out hunting Christmas trees.  Every year, Roy is excited and energetic until about 1/3 of the way through cutting the tree down.
Every year, I'm excited and energetic until I remember who will have to string the lights....  Why don't Christmas trees grow pre-lit?  Every year the kids are excited and energetic until I want to rip my hair out (NO WE WILL NOT BE DECORATING THE TREE YET.)
You'd think with all that Christmas spirit nothing could go wrong.  If you've been reading here long enough you know that's not true.
Innocent Tree Knocker-Downer
We got the lovely home and did our darndest to level the trunk before bringing it in and setting it up.  All seemed to be well for a day or two until we adjusted the tree yet again in an attempt to make it stand up straight.  This was too much for it apparently because it began to lean and just kept leaning.  Luckily Roy and I were both home this time and in the room.  So no only did the tree not actually fall down but it also has not suffered a demoralizing hack job.
After much adjustments, threatenings (at the kids not each other) and discussion we have decided to leave the tree as it is -- which is lit, decorated, propped up with pennies and leaning slightly toward the wall.  We will certainly be in the market for a new tree stand after Christmas though because this one just doesn't want to hold our trees up.  The screws are digging into the trunk and still it leans....
It's not too noticeable.  Right?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Oy Vey

We've had a bit of a crazy week and a half.  On the 14th, Roy received a phone call from the Stake President's secretary.  (A stake president is a spiritual lay leader over a geographical region of the LDS church.)  The SP wanted to meet with Roy and I the following Sunday after church.  That's 4 days of "what does this mean?"  "He could just want to see how things are going with us....."  "Oh man, I know they're planning to reorganize the Bishopric (a group of 3 lay leaders over a smaller geographical area under the umbrella of a stake).  What if you're the new Bishop?"  "Please for the love of Mike let it be Sunday already!"
Sunday finally came and we were able to meet with President B.  He is such a great man and I truly enjoy being in his presence.  He explained that the Lord was asking Roy to serve as 1st Counselor in the new Bishopric that would be announced next Sunday.  Of course, we said yes.
Now started the week long wait until the new changes were announced.  The change in our Bishopric wasn't the only change the stake was making so there was actually going to be a special evening meeting held after church on Sunday, November 18.
As part of Roy's calling to the Bishopric, he needed to be ordained to the priesthood office of High Priest.  So Roy invited his dad up to ordain him.  Much to our pleased surprise, he came!  Grandpa Pyatt flew in Thursday morning (Nov 15).  Grandpa Pyatt hasn't flown in over 20 years so this was BIG deal for him.  He had to change planes at one point which was stressing him out.  However, for anyone who knows my FIL, he likes to talk and so made friends with his seatmates on the first plane who walked him to the gate for his second plane.
We had Grandpa with us for 4 days.  The kids thought this was just great although they missed having Grandma come too.  She recently had knee surgery and it was probably better she didn't try to come up.  Traveling on her knee would probably have not been a good idea.
So last Sunday, we had the special meeting where Roy was sustained by what turned out to be all the adults in the stake (who came to the meeting).  Then after the meeting we waited for the SP to come set the new Bishopric apart.  It was a very spiritual and wonderful meeting.  I have no doubt that Bishop Swanger, Roy and Brother Engstrom are the right men for our ward leadership and this time.
Today was our first Sunday with Roy on the stand.  The kids and I reviewed some ground rules before we went to church.  Such as, no going up on the stand, no tantrums, one wave per meeting and no standing on the bench to wave and shouting, "Hi Daddy!".  These are very important guidelines to make clear for each of them.  Things went smoothly for the most part.  The kids were great.  One of Roy's responsibilities is to raise and lower the lecturn and make sure it is operating properly.  This will take some practice!  But really, I'm so proud of him.  Is that okay to say?  I am.  I'm proud of his dedication and commitment to the Lord.  I know that Roy has the leadership and social talents to help people.  I have no doubt he will do much learning and growing through this experience but I know he's up for the challenge.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Forgotten Carols with a car adventure

A few weeks ago we got a Deseret Book catalog in the mail.  While looking through it I saw an advertisement for The Forgotten Carols.  It showed they would be in Portland.  I showed Roy and told him that someday I would really like to go see the play.  To my surprise he got online and ordered tickets that very night!  What a great husband!  We decided this would be our gift to each other to celebrate our 10th anniversary which is coming up in a couple of weeks.
Last night was the performance.  It was so amazing.  I have seen Michael McLean in concert a few times and really enjoyed him.  This was Roy's first opportunity.  The play was really great.  It is such a good story with beautiful music.  Everyone sounded great and acted well.  After the play, Michael McLean spent probably half an hour playing additional music and talking to the audience.  He has a great stage presence and way of making an audience feel like they are the best audience and really his friends.  I'm so glad we went.  Even better, Roy had a great experience and was glad we went!  I told him, I'm always glad when he has a positive experience doing something I enjoy because it makes it more likely we'll do it again in the future!

There was an element of anxiety mixed into the night though.  We drove down in the car, which has been having some...uh, issues... lately.  It doesn't like to idle.  Like, it would rather die than idle.  Which is bad enough but if it does die, it likely won't start again without a jump and even with a jump there's only about a 50/50 chance it will stay running.  Fun, huh?
Unbeknownst to us, the theater is in the heart of downtown, across of the public square where the huge Portland Christmas tree is set up every year.  Even better, it was the tree lighting ceremony the same time we were trying to find the theater.  You can imagine the crowds of pedestrians and almost stand still traffic.  In a car that shudders and chokes when idling.  Yeah, no pressure.
Luckily we found a parking garage a few blocks away and walked to the theater.  All was well until on the way home.  The car unexpectedly died in neutral.  No, no, neutral is supposed to be safe... except this time.  As luck would have it we died right next to a drop off area for a bar so I hopped in the driver's seat while Roy and a few guys who'd been standing on the curb pushed us off the road.
Miraculously the car started when I tried it and stayed on as long as I had one foot on the gas pedal.  This meant I had the pleasure of driving us home.   It was a great adventure of two foot driving while alternating between drive and neutral until we got on the freeway.  I can't tell you what a sigh of relief it was to get on the freeway and know there would be no more idling until we were almost home.
Famous last words....
There was an accident blocking 2 out of 3 lanes on the freeway.  After another intense round of two foot driving for 15 minutes of so we cleared the accident and made it the rest of the way home without incident.  Even the traffic lights seemed to be in our favor when we got back on surface roads.
So, anyone want to buy a 13 year old chevy car with nearly 170,000 miles?  It is a lovely shade of red-neck-white....

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Wrap Up

I thought I'd follow up on what I did/didn't do, what worked/didn't work.
Wednesday:
Turkey into the brine and chilling in the garage
Mashed potatoes made and smoothed into a crockpot
Sweet potatoes made except for topping and put into crockpot
Pumpkin Toffee Cheesecake made
Green Jello Salad made
Honey Butter made (a surprise recipe sent to me by my friend Jenn!)
By and large a busy and successful day!
Thursday:
Turkey seasoned and put in the oven
Mashed potatoes heating in a crock pot
Sweet potatoes heating in a crock pot with topping on
Toss together cabbage salad
Make rolls
Make apple pie
Forget the cranberry sauce (oops!)
Decided to forgo the green beans because we don't need them.
The missionaries came over around 3ish and we sat down to eat probably about 3:30.  Making stuff ahead of time really helped on Thanksgiving day.  It was nice to be able to spend some time outside with Roy and the kids and not feel stressed about getting things done in the kitchen.
The food was great.  The mashed potatoes will definitely be joining the ranks and staying at the feast.  They were GREAT!  The sweet potatoes were a little too sweet- maybe cut some of the sweet and condensed milk or sugar in them.  We don't need 2 pies unless we have family who will be sticking around for a day or two after.  Probably just make the apple pie next year.

After we ate, the Elders had a video about being thankful (check it out here).  It was fun to watch and then we went around and each named three things we are thankful for.  I was glad to have them lead this discussion.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thanksgiving Menu


I'm trying to plan our Thanksgiving menu/cooking schedule for this year.  And by our cooking schedule, I mean my cooking schedule because that's how it's going to roll this year.  We don't have any family coming (unless you want to make some fast plans!) and it is too short of a vacation/too far for us to visit family for the holiday so we are pretty much on our own.  It's really not so bad.  We've been doing it this way since we moved to the great wide north over 7 years ago (7 YEARS? WHAT?!).
So for my sanity and maybe your benefit - maybe not - I'm posting the plan for this year.  It is much the same as last year but hopefully by writing it down in a more permanent location than a spiral notebook it will last.
The Menu:
Turkey
Stuffing
Sweet Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes
Green Jello
Cabbage Salad
Cranberry Sauce
Green Beans
Crescent Rolls
Apple Pie
Layered Pumpkin Pie Toffee Cheesecake

The Turkey:
I use the turkey brineing method found on OurBestBites it is a bit laborious but totally worth it!  I did it this way last year and have done it a few times since.  Just look at this gorgeous bird.  It is so juicy and flavorful. We really like it.
 The Stuffing:
Don't judge.  It's good enough for us and
there's enough going on with this meal that
making my own stuffing is not a priority!
Sweet Potatoes:
I've never been a fan of sweet potatoes.  Last year I discovered it is actually the traditional way of preparing sweet potatoes - you know, the brown sugar and marshmallows - that I'm not a fan of.  I tried this recipe from OurBestBites last year.  It was a hit!  Definitely the way to make sweet potatoes for my family.
Mashed Potatoes:
I just found a new recipe, Make Ahead Mashed Potoatoes.  What?!  I think I might try these before Thanksgiving just to make sure we like them.  And then again, I might now.  But if it works, these are going on the permanent list.  How fabulous to not make mashed potatoes in the midst of everything else going on!
Green Jello:
This is Roy's favorite jello.  Probably because it is more sugar than jello.  I use a recipe adapted from an obscure cookbook from a small restaurant in Osseo, WI called The Norske Nook
Gladys's Cottage Cheese Salad
1 large can  crushed pineapple and its juice
2 small boxes lime Jello
4 cups mini marshmallows
dash of salt
2 cups cottage cheese
2 cups whipped cream
1 cup chopped nuts
1. Drain the pineapple juice into a 2 cup measuring cup reserving pineapple for later.  Add enough water to make it 2 cups liquid.  Nuke until boiling.  Use this boiling liquid to dissolve the lime Jello in a large bowl.
2. Add the marshmallows and salt.  Stir until the marshmallows are mostly dissolved and really small.
3. Refrigerate until the Jello starts to set but isn't totally gelled yet.  Add the cottage cheese, whipped cream, nuts and crushed pineapple.  Mix well and return to the refrigerator to finish setting.
 Cabbage Salad:
This is my favorite salad which is why we have it.  Roy thinks its okay and the kids don't like it much but I love it.  Since I'm the one doing the planning, shopping, preping and cooking, we have this salad!  It is adapted for many different sources.
1 bag coleslaw mix
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 bags beef Ramen Noodles
handful or two sunflower seeds
handful or two sliced or slivered almonds
Dressing:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup oil
1/3 cup vinegar
seasoning packets from Ramen noodles
1/2 - 1 tsp pepper
1. Crush the Ramen noodles.  Mix coleslaw mix, green onions, Ramen noodles, sunflower seeds and almonds in a large bowl.
2. Mix dressing ingredients well.  Pour dressing over salad and refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving. (I like the dressing to soak into the salad a bit before eating it.  If you don't, pour the dressing on right before serving.)
Cranberry Sauce:
Not a huge fan of cranberry sauce.  Honestly, we only having it because I have some in the freezer from last year.  I used this recipe from OurBestBites.  It's not bad as far as cranberry sauces go.
Green Beans:
Last year, I made these Bacon-Wrapped Green Bean Bundles.  My FIL really liked them but I felt the bacon was too chewy with no way to get it crispy.  This year I'm going for our favorite green beans.
Crescent Rolls:
This is my standard, go-to roll recipe.  I use it for rolls and cinnamon rolls.  We really like them and it is pretty hard to mess them up.  Just don't add too much flour.  It will seem like you need more flour but really, less is better here.  My dough usually sticks to the side of the bowl even while being "kneaded" in my Bosch mixer.  But that's part of the magic: they are always light a fluffy (even if you don't have much rising time) because there isn't too much flour.    
Apple Pie:
This recipe comes from my mom.  What really sells it is the crumb topping!
1 single pie crust (frozen this year;)
1 cup sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cornstarch (more or less depending on the juiciness of your apples)
6 cups apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp lemon juice
Crumb Topping
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
1. Mix sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cornstarch in small bowl.  Dump lemon juice over apple slices and toss to coat.  Combine apple slices with sugar mixture until apples are coated. Pour apple mixture into unbaked pie crust.  
2. Prepare crumb topping by mixing brown sugar and flour.  Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly and combined (don't beat it - you don't want it smooth).
3. Cover apples with crumb topping.  Bake at 400* F for 30-35 minutes.
*Hint* Place pie tin on baking sheet before putting it in the oven.  That way if any liquid bubbles out from the apples it won't burn on the bottom of your oven for the next 2-4 weeks.
Layered Pumpkin Pie Toffee Cheesecake:
It is starting to feel like this post should be sponsored by OurBestBites with the number of links I've linked you to!  Here's one more.  Again, so worth any effort to make this one.  And compared to making pumpkin pie, this isn't really much more labor intensive but 1,000 times better.  Of course, I don't really like pumpkin pie so.... there's that.
Anyway, there you have it.  Once a year I go all out and crazy making food.  It's great that I don't have to cook for the week following too!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A great day!

This morning was preschool at our house.  That's always fun.  No, really, that wasn't even sarcasm!  A is always so excited to have her friends come.  She loves to help me set stuff up.  She kept asking me for jobs to do to get ready.
After preschool, I was cleaning up the kitchen when K came to the front door.  If you recall, the bus can sometimes be a difficult place to retrieve children from.  However, the regular bus driver knows us and my neighbor was out with her son so the bus driver let K off the bus to come home even though I wasn't out there.  And why wasn't I out there you ask?  Because the bus was nearly 20 minutes early!  That's a good thing too!  I actually really like our regular bus driver, I just have to be patient when it is a sub.  Unfortunately, patience and I are not on close terms right now.
The girls and I had a delicious lunch of "macmaroni and cheese sauce" before we went to D's school for an election party.  They have been doing a unit about elections where the kids were in groups.  Each group had a presidential candidate and running mate as well as a speech writer and campaign manager.  They campaigned, gave speeches, had a primary election and finished with an election yesterday.  Then today the parents were invited in the afternoon to hear the chosen president give his acceptance speech and sing patriotic songs.
Swearing in the president on the student handbook
D and some girls from his class were in the front of the room leading the songs (sort of - the teacher was leading but the students were examples I guess).  It was particularly inspiring to sing God Bless the USA.  I was impressed with the small sampling of the next generation of leaders in that room.
After school I helped distribute cookie dough with the PTA.  I always feel like I'm doing my school duties when I help the PTA with something (even though I'm not actually a member at either school!).  The kids played hard and had a good time waiting for me.
Tonight we had a very pleasant evening at home.  Roy brought home donuts from work (Krispie Kreme!) that I ate too many of but my Dr. did tell me to start gaining weight.....  K went to play with her friend for a few minutes so D read stories to A.  The girl hadn't had a nap today so....
All's well that ends well, right?  When K got home she snuggled on the couch with Roy while I folded laundry.  We all talked about personal safety and taking care of each other.  It was a great bit of family time. Everyone was being kind to each other.  D and K were not competing to be "FIRST!" or "BEST!", we just talked while A snored away in the rocking chair.  It's days and nights like these that make it great to be the mom!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Does this shirt make me look piratical?

A says it makes me look like a pirate.


I don't see it.....

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

What a great day!  It was a really busy day.  Everyone had school -- including A.  She had preschool then we invited her preschool friends over for a little lunch and party.   We had a nice little lunch then had some fun crafty things planned.  However, the kids were having so much fun playing we let the kids play while we just had grown up talk upstairs.
Snow White, Ladybug Princess, Watermelon, and Scary Lion are preschool friends.  Almost a pirate and Transformer guy are older siblings who came along for the fun.  Those four girls are the sweetest group of 3 year old girls ever!  It is so fun to have them for preschool.

I forgot to tell you about the Trunk 'r Treat at K's school.  We TrT-ed our little hearts our then went in the gym for a dance.  Two of three kids felt the music was a little loud but they did eventually warm up to the idea and dance.  One crazy dinosaur thought it was great.  Here he is shaking his spikes to the Chicken Dance:
 He also went up front to demonstrate the Macarena for everyone.  He was awesome and I'm so proud of him for having the confidence to do that!

Of course last night was the main event!  It was fun taking the kids around the neighborhood and visiting our neighbors.  We finished off at Roy's secretary's house.  She is always so good to the kids on Halloween -- preparing special treat bags for them.  This year was no exception even though she just got back from a free trip to Hawaii.  WHAT?!  I know.  The kids Love LindaGill.  And they call her LindaGill all one word, never just Linda.  Funny.  
It was a good time but I tell you what, with all the extra activities leading up to Halloween it is starting to feel like a season rather than a holiday!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Boo Bash

My awesome friend, Heather, invited the kids and I to join her at the "Boo Bash".  It's where the kids can dress up and visit businesses along main street in a nearby town.  It sounded fun so we headed out to check it out.  It was cuh-razy.  I'm glad we went but it seems likely that we won't go again.  Heather was talking to one of the people giving away candy who said they plan for between 2,000-2,500 trick-or-treaters.  In a 2 hour window!  Still it was pretty fun to see all the costumes and the kids enjoyed spending time with their friends.
Dinosaur
"Scary Lion"
"Aargh! Me Hardy!"

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Harvest Party

It's that time again where wards think to have an activity revolving around chili and candy.  Good times.  I took the kids while Roy went to get candy for the Trunk'RTreat because that's the kind of advanced planning that we've come to expect around here.  Fortunately he got there in time to have some of Drew's 5 alarm chili with ghost peppers.  Hot stuff.  I played it safe and ate the chili brought.  The kids played it even safer.  K chowed down on tomatoes.  I have no idea what D ate and A ate whatever was placed in front of her.  It was a lot like eating at home!
After eating the youth took the kids into another room to decorate pumpkins (we took small pumpkins for them to color and put stickers on.  No knives with the young men and primary kids.  Not a good plan.) and have their faces painted.  The adults were supposed to check out the 72 hour kit ideas in the back of the gym and get ready for the TRT.  Mostly though we stood around talking until the kids started coming back in -- about 45 seconds after they left (I'm pretty sure that's accurate).
Since it was raining (Inconceivable!) Roy stood in the church hallway to hand out candy and I herded the cats kids around the rooms to get their free candy.  It was a chaotic scene with kids coming away with way more candy than they should.  All in all, a pretty standard ward harvest party.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Plumbing

Today I was a plumber.  See, last night I put cucumber peels in the garbage disposal.  This was apparently more than it could take.  It isn't the toughest kid on the block.  Last night I fell asleep lulling myself into a false sense of security, "I'm sure the dishwasher won't make the sink overflow.  Water can drain, it is just really slow but surely.... besides, even if it fills to the top it will just spill over into the other side of the sink that isn't plugged.  Yeah, that's right.  It'll be fine."  Yeah.  Not fine.  But not as bad as it could have been either.  Just had water over the counter and the rug was half soaked.  Easy-peasy.
So after A and I got back from our morning errands I started taking the pipes apart under the sink.  Not my first time doing this (apparently tough-guy can't handle potato peels or egg shells either).  Somehow this time I managed to break a pipe though.  I loaded A back up into the van and headed to the nearby plumbing store, took a number and tried to figure out what part I needed while waiting for my turn to be helped.  After we got the right pipe, A and I headed back home to complete the job that shouldn't be this much trouble.
Pipe's too long.  It seems they only carry this pipe in one size and figure people can trim them down to fit.  Really, that's reasonable but just one more hurdle in this simple job.  Well, I plugged in the jigsaw (harder than it sounds in my garage) and fortunately it cut right through no problem.  Finally, after nearly 90 minutes I achieved proper draining function!  Yes!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Primary Lessons Work

This is a copy of a letter that Roy sent to D's primary teacher this week:
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sister Hunter,
Below is an edited excerpt from my journal entry last Sunday.  I thought you might enjoy hearing how your lesson in primary last Sunday brought the Spirit into our home and helped another member of our ward make an important decision regarding paying his tithing.  Thank you for the testimony you have shared with D these past few years.  He feels it keenly.
The Pyatts

September 23, 2012 (Sunday)

D met me in the cultural hall this afternoon.  I was just finishing up speaking with some of the brethren after elders quorum.  D was very excited to show me his new treasure from primary class: a small jar filled with paper and two hearts.  As we left the church and drove home, he told me about the jar, how he had received it in class from Sister Hunter for a lesson on tithing.  When we arrived home, I asked him to share the meaning of the jar with Sheena.  We suggested he teach the lesson to us either tonight or tomorrow for family home evening. . . .

Brother Smith (name changed) came for dinner this evening as usual.  We stood in the back yard watching the kids play for a few minutes.  I asked how he was doing.  He responded that things at work were going poorly.  He was broke and struggling to survive financially.  He gets paid weekly, but said he has not paid tithing the last two weeks in order to buy groceries.  I asked if he had spoken with Bishop Neil regarding this.  He responded “no.”  I told him I would personally rather pay the Lord the money He requires and take my chances with earthly creditors rather than the other way around. 

We had a pleasant dinner.  The kids like playing games with Brother Smith, so I gave D the option of playing some family games this evening with Brother Smith or sharing his lesson with us.  To my surprise, D chose to give his lesson.  By that point, I think I had forgotten that the subject matter of D’s lesson was tithing—at least, it was not on my mind in light of my earlier conversation with Brother Smith.    

After singing an opening hymn from the Children’s Hymnbook and family prayer, D proceeded by having each of us pull a “blessing” paper out of the glass jar.  Each of the folded pieces of paper had some blessing that D had written which he said comes as a result of paying tithing.  D chose to expand on some of the blessings; others he had no comment for. 

We finished the blessings and I encouraged D to share his testimony, but he did not want to.  I was a little disappointed as I knew Brother Smith needed to hear this, but such is the teaching style of an eight year old on occasion.  A minute later though D remembered a story that Sister Hunter had told in primary and he wanted to share with us.  This is my recollection of an eight-year-old’s recollection of Sister Hunter’s story, so it may not be accurate, but the principle taught is still the same. 

Sister Hunter told the children that she was a widow many years ago and had a young child.  Sister Hunter needed milk but did not have enough money to buy milk and pay her tithing.  She went to the Bishop to discuss her situation, thinking that he might tell her it would be okay not to pay her tithing.  But the Bishop encouraged her to pay her tithing anyway. 

Sister Hunter chose to pay her tithing.  Later on, her neighbor stopped by her home, saying she had bought too much milk from the store and asked if Sister Hunter would like it.

I felt the Spirit of the Lord poured forth very powerfully into our home as D shared this story, given to him by a beloved primary teacher.  With great fondness, I reflected how perfectly this story and this lesson matched the very need of the man sitting on our couch.  I wondered how Brother Smith was receiving it. 

When D finished, I asked the children what decision the Lord would want them to make if they only had enough money to either pay their tithing or buy milk for a little one.  K responded that the Lord would want her to pay her tithing instead of to buy milk.  D agreed.  I affirmed K’s answer and shared my testimony of how the Lord watches over his faithful saints who pay their tithing.  I also shared the time from my mission in Chilton when I needed some things from the store, but did not have enough money to pay for them, how a member happened to be in the store the middle of that work day, and volunteered to buy our things.  That had never happened before on my mission, and never happened after, but did happen the one time I needed it.

After the lesson, Brother Smith sincerely stated the lesson on tithing was just what he needed to hear.  I had no doubt that the Lord taught Brother Smith this evening through the mouth of a child—doctrine that child had learned in primary.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Today

Today's Lunch:
A peanut butto and honey fandwich cut into tri-nagles followed by a blue hockasicle
Today's Concert:
Today's FHE:
Jumping on the trampoline and grilling hamburgers for dinner wrapped up with ice cream and a rousing hand of Uno.
Today's Disturbing Scene:
Fruit flies procreating on my nectarine.  Thanks for the loss of appetite guys.  At least they died happy.
Today's Field Trip:
A and I went to the "baby doctor" to check up on the baby.  All is well except the nurse put my weight in wrong so the doctor's record says I gained 9 pounds in 6 weeks.  Um, yeah, NO.  Did get flu shots for A and I.  (feeling bruised on my arm...)
Today's Naptime Movie:
*sigh* Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy....
Today = Good Day

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Following Up and Stuff

I feel as if I should follow up after the spew from last week.  I actually really like the regular bus driver, B.  She is reasonable and nice.  In fact, yesterday she was 10 minutes earlier than she has been all year so naturally I wasn't out there.  I heard the bus and ran outside not long after she got there.  She was very pleasant and kind and joked about how she had time to kill because she was so early.  K was off the bus as soon as B saw me come out the door.  I still think the bus rules and restrictions on Kindergartners gets carried away and haven't completely dismissed the thought of driving K myself.  However, I do appreciate the goodness and convenience of the bus and the nice regular bus driver.  And K does love to ride the bus - she really does not want me to drive her to school.
(tangent story: When D was in kindergarten, he had a friend who rode the same bus, got on/off at the same stop and was in the same class.  Two-thirds through the year, this friend skipped into 1st grade.  All of a sudden no one had to meet him at the bus or drop him off.  Nothing changed, he just was in 1st grade now but was still D's same age. Feels a bit silly to me....)
So anyway, still easy for me to be irritated but I really am trying to work on it.

Today was A's second week of preschool.  Last week was our first week.  It didn't seem too different because I was teaching so she didn't actually get to go to preschool.  She just kind of was at preschool.  Every morning she asks me if it is a preschool day because she loves it so much.  This morning those were literally the first words out of her mouth!
A: "Is today preschool?"
Me: "Yes baby, today is preschool"
A: "Today is a school day for everyone!"
We have a sweet little group of girls for preschool this year.  I was hoping to keep the group smaller and younger since A is only 3.  It worked!  I found three other moms of 3yo girls who all live in my neighborhood.  I was worried about A holding back and not participating, especially since the other 3 girls know each other well from a playgroup they had last year.  I think starting at our house helped that.  She was able to get back into the routine of preschool and meet her new friends in the comfort of her own home.  Today she was as excited as could be and sounds like she was involved and happy the entire time she was there.  I don't worry about A being happy.  She is almost always happy and peaceful.  But she is also reserved and content to hang back and watch.  Going to preschool for a few months at the end of last year with K helped out too.  She just really loves preschool!

In other news:
How awesome is that!  I've seen all the pictures Heather took at D's baptism now.  As soon as I can figure out how to download them from the site they're on, oh baby, watch out for deluge of pictures!  Also, I really want to blog about D's baptism.  It feels overwhelming though.  I want to do it justice but I don't think I can so I guess I will just blog what happened.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bus Rant

I have something of a bus rant to post here.  In reality, it has been over 6 hours since the "final straw" fell on the camel's back but I would still like to put this out there.
Let me begin by saying that I have had issues with the transportation department in our district since before D started kindergarten.  This was when I first discovered the hoops necessary for parents of kindergartners to jump through in order to retrieve their student from the bus.  D and I managed to make it through kindergarten with relatively few bumps but I suppose I will mention some of my hang ups from then to give a little background into what happened today.
See, in this district, in order for kindergartners to get off the bus their parent has to meet the bus.  If there is no parent, the child does not get off the bus.  While this seems like a good safety rule in general, when it comes to practice there are some snaggles.  For example, there were only a few times when I could not meet the bus.  On one instance, I knew before hand.  I had an appointment that could not be changed and had been made months in advance.  So, I jumped through the ridiculous hoops of having a signed letter faxed to the transportation department and another copy given to the bus driver stating that D could get off the bus with our next door neighbors.  I carefully worded this letter to apply to always but unfortunately, the transportation department only interpreted it as a one time deal.
On another occasion, I was planning on being back but was detained in traffic and knew I wouldn't be there.  I called my persuasive neighbor (who happens to be one of my emergency contacts) to get D off the bus.  It worked because it was late enough in the year the bus driver knew both of us and had seen us together on numerous occasions.  Apparently, emergency contact people can pick your child up at school but are not allowed to retrieve them from the bus stop even if there's an emergency where the parent couldn't be there.  If the bus driver hadn't allowed my friend to get D, he would have had to ride back to the school where they would have called this same friend to come pick him up.  What?
Anyway, water under the bridge.  Like I said, we made it through the year alright.  Now we are 8 days into K's kindergarten career and I'm already fed up with the bus.  To begin with, K is gone from home for about 4 hours every day.  4 HOURS!  Which would be fine if school was a little longer but considering kindergarten is only 2 hours 40 minutes, 4 hours seems a bit long to be gone.  Especially since we live ONE MILE away from the school.  ONE MILE!!  I am willing to cut some slack for running a bus route to pick up other kids but almost an hour and a half of a 5 year old's day is a really long time!
The bus keeps getting earlier and earlier in the morning (we missed it yesterday!) and later and later in the afternoon.  Then today, the bus finally pulled up (30 minutes after school got out) and stops at the corner.  I'm casually standing across the street on my corner waiting for the driver to open the door and release my sweet little K but nothing happens.  And nothing and nothing.  My mind is going all over "she peed her pants and doesn't want to get up" "she spilled her backpack and is taking forever to clean it up" etc. When the bus driver waves me over.  Concerned now I walk over as she finally opens the door and K appears in the walkway.
You know what the bus driver tells me?!  "You have to come to the door to get your child."  Are you freaking kidding me??  I'm 20 feet away in plain view but I have to come to the door?  As K is trying to rush off to give me a hug the bus driver calls after her, "Is this your mom?"
I was dumbfounded and said nothing but what I wanted to say was, "No.  I'm a psychopathic murder that she's never seen before but she can't wait hug me and tell me about her day."
Hope you can see/read my completely not bitter or sarcastic photo additions!
As it was I said nothing.  Because anything I would have said would not have been nice.  My problem, I think, is that I feel like it has little to do with child safety and EVERYTHING to do with control.  There could also be something in there about pregnant and emotional but I wouldn't swear to it.
Anyway, I'm really not looking for the voice of reason here.  Mostly just fed up with other people telling me what I have to do to get my OWN CHILD off the bus.  And I know there are solutions.  I am seriously considering picking her up from school (but she likes riding the bus) and I could *gasp* walk across the street to meet the bus (but I tend to be stubborn).  We'll give it a few more days.  Maybe the other bus driver will come back.  The only who only cared if I was visible somewhere outside my house.

(Also, this is pretty tame considering the rant I gave to my mom on the phone immediately after the event which didn't involve any swearing (outloud) but did involve several references (that were less than Christian) about what the transportation department could do with their rules....)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

D's Baptism


Today was a very special day for our family but most especially for D.  Today he chose to be baptized.  And I really do mean he chose. We have talked about this choice quite a bit to make sure he understood what he was choosing and if he meant it.  I'm very proud of him and his maturity.  He wants to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
We handed out invitations earlier this week.  He took a few around the neighborhood and he took a few to school for some friends and his teacher.  Saturday morning we went to the church early to make sure everything was ready and so he and daddy could get dressed in their baptism clothes.
Then we waited for his friends to come.  Both my parents and Roy's parents were there.  We were very excited to see a couple of kids from D's primary class, a couple of our neighbors, and one of his friends from school came to be with D for this special occasion.
D had asked my dad to give the talk about baptism.  It was a good talk.  Then Roy baptized D while all the kids went up front to watch.  It was sweet for K and A to watch D get baptized.  They have both been super excited for this!
After the baptism, D's friend from school was walking back to sit by her dad and she said, "That was cool!"
We listened to primary music and wrote notes to D while we waited for him to get changed into dry clothes. Then Grandma Pyatt gave talk about the Holy Ghost.  She also gave a good talk.  I forgot to ask her until a couple of days before the baptism so I was grateful she was still willing to do it!
Roy confirmed D and the Bishop, both grandpas and Brother Wallace stood in the circle.
After the baptism, we had cookies and visited with the people who came to celebrate with us.  It was a special time.
My friend, Heather, came to take family pictures for us to help immortalize the day.  They turned out amazing!  I'm so grateful for talented friends!

 I can't believe my little boy is 8 years old.  He is such a handsome and loving boy.  He is growing up so fast!  He is a great example and big brother for his sisters.  We are so lucky to have D as part of our family!

Friday, September 7, 2012

1st week of school fashions

Here is a girl who loves new clothes!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Big Day Today

Today has several things going for it.
#1: Today is D's birthday!  He is 8 today!!
 He is such a great kid!  I am so lucky to be his mom.  We had dinner at Roundtable Pizza before going to Walmart to pick out a new radio.  Finally back to our house for some cake and ice cream.


K picked out a book light for him and was really excited to help him unwrap it.
D saw these pictures at Deseret Book and asked for them.  Who can refuse that face?
#2:  Today was the first day of school!  Do you think they are excited?
K is at our neighborhood school so she will ride the bus.  I remember her waiting with me to get D on the bus.  That seems like not so long ago and yet a lifetime ago.  Funny how that works.
She hopped right up on the bus.  I barely managed to get a picture before she entirely disappeared.  She's on the top stair right by the bus driver.  My girl is so brave.  She loves adventure and a challenge.  She's going to love school!
Maybe my new favorite picture!
Roy took D to school on his way to work.  He's in the same classroom with the same teacher as last year because his class is a 1st/2nd grade split class.  His teacher is awesome.  He had a great day.  I sent him with a big box of Oreos to hand out for his birthday treat.  D got to go to the front of the class and invite 2 friends to join him while the class sang "Happy Birthday".  He rode home in the carpool.  

#3: Grandma and Grandpa Pyatt arrived today.  They will be here through the weekend because D is getting baptized on Saturday.  It was really special to have them here when D got home from school and for his birthday party.

Like I said, a big and totally AWESOME day!