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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Greatest Snow On Earth

Utah has some of the best snow on earth and I was fortunate to grow up in Utah where I learned to ski as a young kiddie. My dad taught me how to snow plow with a rope tied around my waist and starting in the 3rd grade every Thursday we got out of school early and were bussed up to Sundance for ski school. In high school I had season passes to Park City and Snowbird skied at least 10 times a season for a few years. During college I turned in my skis for a snowboard and did that for several years until I got married when it all came to screeching halt. Skiing was expensive and Chris, who grew up in Dallas, didn't particularly love it and so skiing for the most part got booted off any kind priority list. Years passed, babies came and we moved to California. All of which took skiing right out of the picture. Skiing was for the most part a thing of the past until I decided last year that I would teach my kids to ski just like my dad did all those years ago. It was rough the first couple of times, but I was determined to get in a couple of days of skiing this year while in Utah for Christmas. We went twice as a family and Thomas and I went for a third time along with some of my siblings and their kids. I loved it and Thomas loved it, Chris and Kate not so much. But I was so happy to be up on the slopes even if I had some resistance from a couple of the members of my family. On our first day skiing I mentioned to Chris that we needed to replenish some of our stuff so we didn't have to rent skis or borrow any equipment like goggles and masks. He didn't think it was necessary because vacationing in Utah every winter wasn't exactly on his 'want to do' list. I was a little sadden by this and realized I was probably unrealistic to think we would ski every winter. But then a few days later Chris got me these as a gift.

Ummmm...I'm hoping this means there will be a lot more skiing in my future after all.

Izzy, Me, Todd, Scott, Taylor, Emma, McKay, Austin, Jessica and Chandler (Solitude, December 21st)
Me and Thomas at Park City. It was 0 degrees and so to ensure a good day with little complaning it was crucial that no skin was exposed. Thomas was a fast learner and and was easily keeping up with me by the third run. We had a great time.

It was so cold that day but we still stopped for an ice cold cherry diet coke with a splash of lime from Sonic. Yummm.
Tiff preferred to keep her gear on while she drank her ice cold soda. Good thing there are holes in the face mask.
Me and my sis Tiffany.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Simple Offering

I apologize for the length of this blog but the details are well deserved.

It all started with the willingness to make a few batches of carmels for the sisters in my ward. After all I did make a perfect batch last year, which might I add, was the first time I ventured to the land of candy making and so I was happy to share with others my new cooking ability. The ingredients were dropped off at my house on Tuesday and at approximately 3pm the cooking began. I had to make 3 batches but I had only two big pots and two candy thermometer so the third batch would have to wait it's turn. I will speed up the story a bit here and say that due to my trying to do too much at one time (every woman/mother can relate) and some confusion with the misprinted thermometer (Look closely at the numbers... 150, 175, 200, 225, 220.... am I crazy or are the numbers not in order.)

I awoke the next morning to 3 cookie sheets full of sucker hard candy. The other girls from the Presidency were coming over at nine and there were no chewy carmels to wrap. So I called my President and told her I was going to remake them. (Really what else was I going to say.) Four hours worth of effort wasted! Needless to say I was frustrated. The day's to do list was already full and certainly didn't contain 3 more hours of cooking.

After a quick run to the grocery store I was back to square one. I did find an extra candy thermometer and a big pot and began remaking 3 batches of carmels. In the mean time my pres called and asked if she could run some errands for me. I was a little embarrassed because I don't like to ask for help (another one of my problems). I asked her to pick up my Christmas card photos from Ritz Camera and some worms for the pet lizard. (He hadn't eaten in about 5 days, so that particular errand was urgent.)
I was busy concentrating on the number 244 (the firm ball temperature), when my pres dropped off my items. I left the stove for just a minute to put the worms in the refrigerator and to my disbelief there were no worms in the container! I then immediately checked the pictures to find more disappointment. Ritz had copied too many of the WRONG picture. AHHHHHHH. A few not so nice word slipped under my breath and I quickly returned to the carmels which were now at the critical boiling point. I gave the first batch one last stir and pour it out onto the cookie sheet. The chewy carmel goo spilled out onto the cookie sheet along with the brown specks I picked up from the bottom. I said a few more naughty words under my breath I was on to the next two batches which turned out perfect. Or so I thought.
OK this is where my "can't just let it go" syndrome comes in because I actually ran to the store to remake the batch that had a few 'little too brown' specks in it. While at the store I ran through all the ingredients in my head and realized that I had not added the vanilla to any of the last three batches I had made that morning! (The vanilla goes in at the end just before you pour it out onto the cookie sheet.) Once again the not so nice words spilled from my mouth only loader this time and I called my sister in tears who convinced my to wait and taste the carmels before thinking all was lost. Maybe it was an optional ingredient.
Before I returned home I ran into Ritz to see if they could fix my problem in a timely manor. They could and they did. Only this time when I viewed the pictures they all had a white line running through the middle of them. "What the crap!" I shouted. I dragged my now very hungry two year old and my whining 5 year old back into Ritz only to be told they could fix the problem but it wouldn't be until later that day. The Christmas cards were defiantly not going out that day. I hurried home put my ingredients into the refrigerator and grabbed Jack a slice of bread for lunch when I noticed an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk on the counter. That meant only one thing; one of my batches was not only missing the vanilla but also the can of sweetened condensed milk! The worst of it was I didn't know exactly which one it was but I knew it was not the batch with the specks.
I literately ran to Kate's program with a frazzled brain and puffy red eyes. (By the way when I pulled up to the school I had forgotten Jack's shoes, his nose was running and he happened to find a green marker in the car and used his hands and face as the canvas.) I sat down pulled out my camera took a few pictures of my adorable Kate when the battery died on my camera. She noticed I wasn't taking photos and quickly held up her hand and gave me the 'take my picture' signal with her hand. And so the good my mom that I am I held up my camera and pretended to be taking pictures.
We hurried home (forgot to bring home the gift she made me at school) and began making the 7th batch of carmels. That's right, the 7th batch! I figured out the batch that was missing the the sweetened condensed milk because it was harder than the others so that batch was ruined and I was relieved when I discovered the missing vanilla didn't make a significant difference in the delicious taste of the carmel and that the batch with the few darker brown specks didn't look so bad after all and would hardly be noticed. And finally by the 7th go around I had made a perfect batch of carmels.

HALLELUJAH! There was still several hours wrapping, bagging and tagging but after 15 hours spread out over three days, yes you heard me 15 hours, the carmels were finally out of my my house.

By the way Ritz got me the right photos the next day, I eventually finished my Christmas cards and my President kindly dropped off a new container of worms for our lizard.

We don't get a lot of rain in Carlsbad but during those three days it not only rained, it poured.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"Say Cheese"

I tell myself every year that my Christmas cards will be done and ready to be mailed out by November 1 and every year that deadline of November 1 slips deep into December until I'm in a mad rush to pull it all together in time for the cards to make it out before Christmas. One stress surrounding the cards has always been about getting a picture you find worthy enough to justify the postage. I'm really not asking much. After all a camera can take a good shot in less than a second. But coordinating that less than a second with 2 adults and 3 rambunctious kids seems nearly impossible. Our photo sessions usually go something like this. "Thomas stop touching your sister", "Kate just look into the camera", "Jack put your hands down", "Thomas please just smile, "Kate sit up", "Chris, just a few more shots I promise", "Jack look at the camera", "Thomas, don't make me ask you again", "Jack Pleasssssssssssssse just look at the camera!" It's enough to make my head spin and if I'm lucky one or two viable pictures will emerge from the hundreds.

Here are a few that didn't make the cut for the Christmas card but perfectly demonstrate the struggle.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Grey's Craze

I have never been one to watch a lot of TV. I rarely get into a show that I look forward to watching week after week. My tivo list consists of Nova, Frontline, Oprah and America's Next Top Model. I know it's quite the line up. I really don't think I've been missing out on much. But a couple of weeks ago my curiosity about the craze that surrounds the hugely popular show Grey's Anatomy got to me so I had Chris put seasons 1 as our next Netflix pick. Needless to say I NOW KNOW WHY there's a craze. I've looked forward to watching an episode or two every night this week! I'm a little late jumping on the bandwagon but so far I like the ride.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Can't Get Into It

I can't quite get into the whole Christmas thing this year. I don't know, maybe it has something to do with fact that it's 70 degrees outside which means it could be any time of the year here. The thought alone of pulling out all my bins of decorations was exhausting. Half of them never made it out. I don't even want to go shopping. Now that's something unheard of. This is the time of year I actually have the excuse to shop. I should be stressed with all that's left to do but I'm not and instead I'm stressed about not being stressed! Maybe I should return to drinking my long lost friend, Diet Coke. That should charge me up a bit. Or maybe I should just remind myself that all the extras don't really matter, things will get done as they always do, and who really cares if you bought the gift the night before Christmas, at least you got it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Up To No Good

Yesterday while I was busy at my sewing machine creating wonderful little gifts for Christmas, Jack was in my bathroom doing a little creating of his own.

I told him although he was demonstrating great creativity by painting what looks to be a beard all over his face, lip stick is used just by mommies and is applied only to the lips. He looked at me and gave me one of these...

"Oh ya, what are you going to do about it mom?"-Jack
I hurried him to the bathroom while the mess was contained to his face and instructed him to start washing!
He got a bit frustrated when he couldn't put his whole face in the water.

"Ahhhh. It's not coming off."-Jack
Aaaaa that would be because you smeared Max Factor's PERMANENT lip stick all over your face. Serves ya right kiddo.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Blessed Abundantly

I am blessed abundantly not because I have more than I want but because I have so much more than I need!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Here's The Proof-11/23/08

Five Year Olds Can Set The Table For Dinner

For this Monday's "Here's the Proof" Kate, my 5 year old, demonstrated how she can set the table all by herself. She proved to me and more importantly to herself that she can climb cabinets, lift heavy plates, fill the glasses with just the right amount of water and ice, distribute the utensils evenly around the table, and add beautiful finishing touches. The best part was I never had to ask. I praised her abundantly with the hope she will willing continue her newly found accomplishment.

Cry of Hallelujah!

OK so before we sent our hard drive to a recovery site we thought we'd try the Geek Squad to see if they could recovery our data. They were cheaper and for a small fee could do an evulation on the hard drive. So we took it in to Best Buy. They we not only able to boot up our hard drive but they down loading everything on to a new external hard drive all for about $200 dollars. We felt great relief when we realized all was well with our precious data! None of it was lost or even corrupted. The nice man at Best Buy told us that he didn't think anything was wrong with our hard drive. What? Nothing wrong, how could that be, Fry's told us that our hard drive had serious problems and referred us to a very expensive data recovery company! When we got home Chris reinstalled the hard drive and wha-la... it works like new.
(What probably happened- On my way out of Frys the hard drive connection came loose due to the turbulent shopping cart ride to the car. The Bumpy slate tile outside the entrance doors may look good but it gives your shopping cart and everything in it quite a jostle.)

Lessons learned-
1. Don't go to Frys to get your computer fixed.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ohhhh Nooooo

I will spare all details but my hard drive took an unfortunate turn Wednesday night. Looks like we will have to pay anywhere from $600.00 to $1,900 to then (hopefully) get a full recovery. It is probable my data will only be partially recovered or worse yet has experienced total death! And yes I hate to say it. It's oh so painful I can barely get the words out....I regrettably have not backed up anything for a few years. Gasp...gasp...breath... breath! Believe me, I gave it my all when it came to pleading my "give my one more chance" case during my prayers last night so I guess I have no choice but to wait and hope for the best. Think positive...think positive...think positive

Monday, November 17, 2008

Here's The Proof

Have you ever been asked what you did a week ago, yesterday or even today and you couldn't recall? Well a few days ago I got a call from a friend who asked me what I had done over the weekend. My mind totally blanked. (Nothing new actually.) I knew I was exhausted but to not remember the cause of my exhaustion was frightening. No worries I did eventually remember several seconds later, but it made me think about all the stuff I do not just for me but also for others around me and some days I feel I have nothing to prove for it except my exhaustion. So that why I'm dedicating Monday's as my official "Here's The Proof" day.
So for today's "Here's The Proof" I prove that I actually do some deep cleaning occasionally.

BEFORE (Notice the crumbs in the corner!)


Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Perfect Birthday Cake

At first glance this cake may seem far from the perfect cake. It's bumpy and saggy and there are gaps in the sides. It's not even centered on the cake stand. It's missing at least 2 layers and there's no frosting (at least put on the cake), no decoration, no style, no glitz or glam of any kind, not even a single candle. So why is it the perfect cake? Because it was made out of love by a friend who cared enough to not let her friend go without a cake on her birthday.
I love it because my friend really does make perfect cakes but yesterday she had a full plate, not the right equipment and in the end fell short on time. But for me I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. This cake is perfect because it's REALITY. And if I let looks alone stop me from trying this amazingly delicious cake I would have missed out on what's truly the best part...the inside.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Birthday Photo

Recently while organizing some photos on the computer I sadly realized that in the last 11 years there is 1 photo taken of me on my birthday. That was back in 2001. It kinda made me sad to think of all those years of happy celebration gone completely undocumented. So when I woke up this morning I was determined to have at least one (preferable good) photo taken of me on my birthday.

And so with no one else around except Kate and Jack I was given no choice but to make my 5 year old daughter my photographer. After some brief and not very good instruction the photo shoot began...

Let's just say it started out a little rocky. She had a few problems focusing.

But eventually as she got better at focusing I got worse. She said something like I was trying too hard.

So we went outside to loosen up. And in the end....

I think she got a pretty good shot.
(taken November 12th 2008, by Kate Foulger)

Birthday Lunch with a few of my friends. (Jill, Rachael, Me, April M and April H.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Jack's New Nap Getup

I'm done. Jack's crappy naps are over. Did you hear that Jack? OVER! Every time Jack decided to make poopy cakes or throw poop pebbles from his bed to all the corners of his room (I still occasionally find one) I thought it would be the last time. Oh no. Now instead of giggling about it he just holds his hands out in defeat and awaits the punishment. I've tried everything from time outs and stern chats about how gross it is to play in your poop to washing him off with cold water. I have found poop on his hands probably 15 times! He also had a play date with his poop while being watched by a babysitter and just recently his grandma Elle was the lucky one who had to clean up the stinky mess. I was mortified. So yesterday I finally drove to Walmart in search of the cheapest one piece zip up pajamas I could find. Ha Ha Jack try to get to your poop now. Today when Jack went down for his nap I keep asking myself...what in the H. E. double tooth picks took me so long.

"Oh the shame and humiliation. I can't believe my mom has posted a picture with me in these ugly pjs. By the way, as far as the poop thing goes I want to defend myself and say, I was just being creative with the cool brown stuff that magically appeared in my diaper shortly after my mom put me down for a nap. It was fun to see how far I could throw my little brown pebbles. I have an awesome shot. I also enjoyed painting my crib slats with the mush. I could make one diaper load go a long way. You just wait and see; I will turn out to be my parents smartest and most creative child." -Jack

see "Jack's Crappy Nap" Post

Trip To Thailand

It has been over a week since I've been home and I'm finally posting some photos from my trip to Thailand. The trip was amazing! I not only traveled to a land I've never been before, but I experienced a new culture, had serene moments to reflect and think, enjoyed hours of massage and spa treatments, laughed, shed a few tears, and gained 10 beautiful new friends. 3 from southern cali, 1 from northern cali, 1 from Canada, 1 from France and 2 Aussies. It was wonderful sharing this experience with all of them. I'm so glad I listen to all of you who we told me not to feel guilty and "just go". I also just have to say thank you to my husband. I had to convince him that I wanted to go on a trip for 9 days, costing x amount of money to be with girls I didn't know and travel to a land half way around the world, and "oh by the way that trip is in 2 weeks." He was reluctant but in the end gave me his loving support. With that said, here are a few of my favorite photos or moments. To see more go to my flickr link.

You could find these little Buddhas in and around temples. I learned that gold is an item valued for its purity as a religious offering and for its power to placate spirits and request favours. Postage-stamp-size booklets of gold leaves were on sale along with incense, flowers and candles at temples and shrines for use as daily offerings. I read that one way for Thai Buddhists to show their respect for a person or concept is to make merit by affixing small squares of gold leaf onto images of Buddha or other sacred objects. I'm not sure they stick so well but the effect looks really cool.

Wat Pho, is the home of the Reclining Buddha, and is the oldest and largest Buddhist temple in Bangkok. It's also home to more Buddha images than any other place in Bangkok. You can't tell from the picture, but this Buddha is enormous.
The "TUK-TUK" (ตุ๊กตุ๊ก) is a small car with three wheels. Tuk-tuk's are a real a tourist attraction/trap. Before sitting inside, one should negotiate the price and make sure you are not part of scam. (happy to say we only lost 60 cents and one hour of shopping time) Also be warned that in Bangkok, it is not always a good idea to sit in a tuk-tuk for too long due to the heat and the exhaust pipe of the other cars emitting their fumes during traffic jams. The pollution was so bad it was like closing your mouth around the exhaust pipe of a snowmobile minus the snow,
but well worth the fun ride. Next time I will bring my medical mask.
When walking around the streets in hot Bangkok city, you will get really thirsty. You could stop for a drink of a fresh young coconut or for some freshly squeezed local mandarin orange drink. This orange drink was so delicious and fresh and only cost about 80 cents a bottle.
Who knew a chipmunk would make a good pet. In America these bushy tail critters run wild in forests and city parks, but in Thailand they must be as common as cats because there were a lot of vendors selling these furry little friends in the market. Little outfits are also available for additional cost.
I'm not sure what's scarier, the fact that in Thailand you can buy chipmunks and other probably endangered species like the owl or that the mullet is the current craze among the teenagers. Watch out America.
You can get your fix anywhere in the world just be prepared to pay a premium.

I now know why this the land of the monsoon. When it rains it's comes down in buckets. Luckily for us it rained mostly at night or in the morning. This was the first of what would be the total of 10 hours of massage/spa treatments. That's averages out to be just over an hour everyday. Ahhhhhh. Cheers to cheap and plentiful massages. This particular treatment was a foot and neck massage. It cost about $6.oo.

New friends and yummy curry = perfect evening!
Emily gave us all a journal and a box with all kinds of art making goodies inside.

This was my completed box. I think I will load it up with treasures from the trip.

A few of us had our palms read at Wat Pho. And although I won't make guide my life based on what he told me there were definitely several, "how could he possible have known that" moments. We were greeted with cold refreshing towels scented with lemon grass in the hotels, spas and restaurants. Can I just say ahhhhhhhh.

The view from my room.
We stayed at the Tubkaak Resort and Spa while in Krabi. This place was amazing. The grounds were lush and beautiful and the staff was so kind and attentive. There are only total of 42 rooms so this place is quiet and peaceful. No kiddies here. It's a dream honeymoon spot... needless to say we were their only 'non-couple' guests.

I love this picture not only because I have my cleavage back but because this scenario is far from my everyday life. Come on, how often do you get the chance to relax in your bathing suit by a beautiful pool, enjoy 'naked weather', sip on your favorite diet soda and immerse yourself in art and journaling?
This is something else I wish I spent more time doing. I never enjoyed Yoga so much...I'm guessing it had something to do with the amazing setting.

Riding an elephant was a thrill and I enjoyed being that close to an elephant. I'm glad I did it, but I couldn't help but feel bad that Loewy will spend the rest of his life giving rides all day every day. I really hope he feels some joy in that. I guess it's better than being mistreated and lugging around logs all day. (I'm sounding like an animal activist.) Thanks Loewy for the ride!
Here's a few of us on our last day moments before April, Dona and I had to rush to the airport.

April, Maren, Clare, Me, Michelle

This trip made me feel a little more ......

I will be back......someday.