Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin Family Night

Tyler of course had to fool around and try to scare Grace by being the Headless Horseman.
Grace made a kitty-cat face.
Ty went for a semi-colon smiley face.
Here is the finished product. Ryan was doing a complicated "owl" template, but got sick of it and gave up. I think they went outside and smashed his pumpkin later...why is it in boys DNA to feel the need to blow up, smash, and destroy stuff?
Then Grace couldn't rest until she tried the headless horseman thing. She was thrilled with this picture. Silly.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

cReeAtiv SpElinG

I guess I spoke too soon about Grace's spelling ability. Here is a grocery list she gave me yesterday:
Groshree List
1. ciril
2. treet fore Grace
3. craons
4. Mak up
5. Nale Polish
Here is a note she gave Ryan on Sunday:
"Ryan wut shood we do towmaroe? How abaut we play printses manopaley?"

It cracks me up that she's able to read well above her grade level, but still reverts to phonetic spelling when she writes. I love her so much. Here is the other hysterical thing; the bonus spelling words for her class this week are: Mesopotamia, ancient, ruins, and haunted house. I'm not kidding. She's six. Hee.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Food is Love

I've been considering creating a family cookbook for Christmas this year. Today I broke into my cookbook cupboard to begin the task of going through everything. Oh my. See the Lion House Cookbook? The back of the book is crammed with loose recipes. From everywhere. This is my system. Sad, huh?
Here is one of the loose recipes. In 1996 I asked my mom for "that stripedy jello salad Grandma Cutler used to make at Christmas." She mailed me a copy of it. I cannot bear to throw it away, even though I NEVER make this salad.
And guess what else I found in my cupboard? My mom's recipe box. I took it when we cleaned out the house after she died.
Here is the famous mint cookie recipe. Handwritten by Grandma Tussey herself! I make these cookies only at Christmas, but sometimes friends request "Tussey cookies" as they've come to be known for other special occasions.
My mom went through a period where she clipped recipes from the newspaper.
Here is "Red Flame Seasoning" known to those of you from Bountiful who love the Red Flame Restaurant. Mom used to have this on the stove at all times cause she put it in everything.
I clearly remember TYPING these recipes for her on these cards when I was 14. Yes, kids, on a genuine IBM roller-ball typewriter! The jazzy and cutting edge technology then was; if you made a mistake you could back-up and a special white ribbon would white out the goof! Wow.
Then I saw this card. A punch recipe written by my mother after she shattered all the bones in her left arm and had to write with her non-dominant right hand. I remember that we made this punch the last Christmas she was alive. I almost cannot bear to look at it. I wound up spending ten minutes sitting on my kitchen floor in breathless, stunned, weepy grief. Why doesn't it get easier?

So, ladies, what do I do? Some of these recipes are clearly family heirlooms! Part of the beauty is the form and appearance of the cards. Should I make photo-copies? Just type up the recipes? I'm sitting here wondering if Trixie has taught her kids to make her "Ulster Fry." I'm wondering what foods my kids associate with me? What recipes bring back those magical moments where they felt loved and safe and happy? Have I written them down? How should I organize them for posterity?

And now I'm worrying about Grace. The past couple of years I've been violently and wholeheartedly shunning sugar and flour. She's not going to have those warm, yummy memories that are usually wrapped up in gooey-carbness. She'll have no memories of the mom I used to be; warm chocolate chip cookies or sweet rolls ready when the kids walked through the door after school. Bready-sausage casseroles on Christmas morning...homemade bread...chocolate cake...I just don't do it anymore.
As I'm going through these recipes, I'm not seeing much that I would actually make now. What I should be doing is creating a file of the changes I've made to everything to make it healthier.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fall Break

Jillian came home for fall break. We went to Gardner Village on Friday to see the witches. It was fun, but SOOOO crowded!I'm shorter than both boys now. I knew it would happen eventually. Aren't they fine?

My Gracie is very used to posing for pictures. Can you tell?
My Jillian. It has been so great to have her home!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Miracle of Joy

It snowed last night. Grace was thrilled as only a 6 yr old can be about white moisture. As we were getting out of the car at church at 9:00 this morning, she had her little face raised, tongue out to catch the little white flakes. Her face was filled with bliss. She turned to me and said, " I know another reason why the day I was born was a miracle of joy!"
"Why?" I asked, most of my attention on getting my briefcase and posters out of the van.
"Because it snowed that day!"
Oh. Ok. I did stop for a second and look at her beautiful little face. Cheeks rosy with the cold, damp eyelashes framing those twinkling chocolate brown eyes, curly little ringlets spiraling around her head. She is constantly reminding me of the simple joys in life. I'm glad that she knows how loved she is, and that she is a "miracle of joy."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Our Week in Music

Tyler and Ryan both had concerts this week. I'm trying to edit Ry's down, so hopefully I'll post it later.
But here is Tyler playing the guitar for the final song of the concert. He was in two choirs as well...it makes my heart and soul sing to watch my kids perform.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I got to thinking, because I was so bugged by the illiterate 9th graders at Reality Town, about spelling.
I have a file in which I keep (not every) but most little notes and cards that I've received from my kids over the years. I could never have predicted the text message culture 15+ years ago when I started saving these beautiful little hand-written notes. I love and cherish each one and each misspelled word! One of my favorites came in 1997 from Ryan (he was 3 1/2.) I was the Primary President at the time, and was on the phone when he slipped me a little 3x3 piece of paper that said "kiss me" on it. The s's are perfectly backward. I adore it. It reminded me at the time that I needed to do a better job of paying more attention to my kids instead of my calling.
Now my little Grace is writing notes...I just found one from Valentine's Day that says "Your the best mom in the hol wrld!" and "I love you bigr then the wrld!" I have notes with "saree" and "mostlee" and "I wont a snak!"
Yesterday we were doing her spelling words and "ghost" was one of them. She spelled it "goste." I've been drilling into her the silent "e" at the end of words makes the vowel say it name! So, yeah, this is how you SHOULD spell ghost, right?
Anyway. Now she's in 1st Grade, and already I can see the fruits of education blossoming in her writing ability. On her journal page yesterday, she wrote "I had a cookie for lunch." Each word spelled correctly. It's crazy that this makes me a little bit sad?
I can say I'm looking forward to the time when she has a phone like her siblings, and will be texting "I'll c u tomro...luv u!" But of course, I won't be able to save that in my file : )

Saturday, October 4, 2008


I worked the "Grocery" booth at Reality Town down to the Junior High yesterday. This is the 4th time I've done it. It is some "real" serious fun. Here is the basic idea:
Take 300 9th graders, give them a fictitious job, salary, family based on their grade performance in 7th and 8th grade. Put them all in a room and send them forth to purchase homes, insurance, groceries, clothes, day care and cars with their checkbooks. Oh my! I am an avid people watcher, and believe you me, this is a side show worthy of Ringling Brothers. 9th graders alone are a hormonal carnival ride, but put them all in a small, stuffy room and add the peer pressure of "what job do you have...how many kids...does your wife work and contribute to your income?" and let me tell you, it gets interesting.
Three things stood out.
First, can I tell you how many kids made out the check to "grocery's"? Ummm...go back to English class for awhile. We're raising a generation of kids who think "ur", "thks" and "rofl" are actual words. Not surprisingly, most of the kids who couldn't spell "groceries" also had very low income jobs; I had to send quite a few of them over to the financial counseling and supplemental income booths. Two years ago, when I worked it for Tyler, there were kids making deals in the "park", and administration had to get involved. Let's just say that the word "john" was bandied about. I guess if you're strapped for cash....
Then there were the 4.0 kids who got to choose the highest paying jobs...they had $100,000 and more a year to spend, and did just fine. Ryan was one of these of course. For these kids, Reality Town is F!U!N!
Second, I had kids who had gone to the Donation Booth and paid their tithing. First. By the time they got to me, they didn't have enough money for groceries. Yep. And I watched while they struggled with making the decision of erasing their tithing donation, or going over to get a second job or join the military for extra income. It was painful. When I told Jill about it, she practically choked on her lungs she was laughing so hard. "That's R.E.A.L.I.T.Y. for ya mom! Ha ha ha ha..." I pretty quickly clued in, and decided that if they were struggling, I would look at their check log, and if I saw a tithing donation I offered them a price break on groceries, or waived the mandatory "eating out" fee. But sometimes even this wasn't enough and they wound up at financial counseling anyway.
Third, I have GOT to stop judging people by their appearance. There were the usual suspects: the kids with stuff written in pen all over their arms, girls with so much black eyeliner on you can't even tell what color their eyes are, boys with "girl" jeans on so tight you worry they won't be able to father children someday. It was one of these boys, (who also had hair so long he practically dislocated his neck constantly swishing it out of his eyes) who I overheard telling his friend to get over to the donation booth...."Jesus is my best friend! You have to pay your tithing first!"
A few minutes later, I had to send him over to financial counseling because he didn't have enough money to buy groceries.
Reality Bites.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pumpkin Fluff

I'm obviously craving Autumny stuff. I made this last night...yum!

1 15 oz can pumpkin
1 c milk
1 small pkg. Sugar Free Butterscotch pudding (you can use vanilla, but butterscotch is better!)
1 or 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Mix all together. Put in fridge for 1/2 hr. Garnish with whipped cream, and wafer thin ginger snaps.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fall Decorating

Listen! the wind is rising,

and the air is wild with leaves,

We have had our summer evenings,

now for October eves!

-Humbert Wolfe