Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just to say howdy....

Yikes! I can't let a whole week go by without posting something, even if I don't have pictures.
We had a really fun weekend--and I remembered why its so important for women-folk to have women-friends. Christian spent a few hours helping a friend from church install a basement floor, and in the meantime, I put a very crabby Aaron down for a nap and took the remaining kids to the neighbor's for a birthday party. (Am I bad? I was right next door...) Anyway, there were lots of kids and mine loved having buddies to play with, and I enjoyed a few hours of real conversation.
Then, one by one, all my kids had potty accidents and the fun ended. I hate potty training, and you'd think I'd be done with the older ones, at least. But no.
That evening, I watched the RS Broadcast with some sisters from the ward at my friend Jessica's home. Again, so good to talk with other ladies. And of course, the broadcast was very good (although, I was really tired and I have to admit to dozing off for 20 min or so...bad Robyn).
What I found really interesting was the difference between the types of girly-groups I had on Saturday. At the party, the adults were mostly drinking alcohol (a 7-yr-old's party!) and the conversation was, well, rougher. Good people, of course, but they seemed to enjoy their adult privileges (like swearing--why is that cool?). Then, with the group of RS women, we had a very different type of fun--eating ice cream and laughing. Those women are way too funny! And entirely clean. I also got to have a long talk with my little sister Sunday night. Dana was 5 or 6 when I left home (Hannah's age), and as far as actually being a big sister, I mostly remember braiding her hair and babysitting. Its so nice to get to know her as an almost adult (she's 15) and have some good big-sister time.
There are so many ways to women to bond, but the important thing is that we have someone to talk to. Probably the hardest part of Christian's travels is the loneliness. I guess I'm just remembering how good it feels to have good friends available when you need them.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mexican Saints...

To cap off my Mexico trip report, I'm sharing a few pics of San Luis Potosi, and San Miguel de Allende.

I only stayed in San Luis Potosi one night - I arrived late and left early, so I've only got pictures of the hotel. However, the Westin in SLP is pretty impressive. It's a hacienda style hotel (central courtyard, etc.) and appeared as if it could have been pretty old:

Here's a shot of my room - the wood shows a little too dark to tell, but it was all beautifully handcarved (no onlays - solid carving)

There's nothing quite like climbing through a lacy curtain outlined window to take a shower...

I got in late so it's a little dark, but here's a look at the hallway outside my room...

If you look closely at the vaulted cavern ceilings of the restaurant, you can see they're all brick...

The door to the hotel fitness room..

On Mexican Independence day, I went to San Miguel de Allende (Miguel de Allende played a role in the Mexican revolution). The downtown area is very well preserved and had a similar feel to older European towns. There was a late afternoon re-enactment of the march on the capitol - someone said the local priest played the part of the priest, they also had San Miguel and 30 - 40 random horsemen dressed up in period costumes:

I took a picture of these balloons because I thought Rachel and Nathan would like it...

After this celebration, I wandered around the downtown area - taking a few pictures as I went:

San Miguel himself...

This cathedral was just as fancy as most I saw in Europe, but with much better lighting...

And a picture of the best looking seafood dish I tried...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Best Brownie Ever!

After talking about it for months, I finally made them--fabulous, high-protein brownies! (aka nutella-peanut butter brownies).
Here's the photo--And here's the recipe-- (From Food Network, via Sarah Kelley)
These have great flavor and great texture--chewy, soft and fudgy.
Puh-leese let them cool before eating--they really do taste better!

1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder (non-alkalized)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Dash salt
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup hazelnut-chocolate spread

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish (or line it with parchment paper).

Melt the butter over low heat; when melted remove from heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, and mix well.

Mix the peanut butter and chocolate spread in a small microwave-proof bowl, and heat in the microwave until it reaches a runny consistency. (This is a great time to sample a taste) Stir the mixture into the batter; then pour it into the baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting and serving.

Best Birthday Ever!

Happy Birthday, Aaron! (ummm, sorry about being 9 days late...) You're such a cutie--rather than give you any presents for your special day, I'm going to get pictures taken! (I bet you're glad I'm doing this now, cuz I don't think it'd go over well for you're 10th b-day)
Here's a cute video of Aaron enjoying his birthday candles.

Aren't we just the best parents ever?!
Here another shot of the happy day.By the way, in the background of the video you can see the basket full of papers I still haven't put away after my mini-kitchen office makeover...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Independence Day!

So, as you all know by now, I ditched Robyn and the kids and am on a 10 day vacation in Mexico. What you may not know, is that today is independence day in Mexico. The celebrations for independence day are typically held the night before - so Monday night I went to Guanajuato for the big party. In case you aren't up on your Mexican history, Guanajuato is the city where the revolution started.
A woman in Queretaro (where I've been staying) sent a dispatch to the priest in Guanajuato, and he led a march on the capital. The big party consisted of live music, a 15 min. movie played on the cathedral where the priest started the march, the crowd shouting "Viva Mexico!" while being led by Mexico's second in command, and fireworks. The pictures below don't do justice to the size of the crowd - there were at least 50,000 people there.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Their Idea of fun

I'm painting the kitchen, and the kids love climbing the ladder. What kind of crazy Mom leaves a ladder out for the kids to play on?
Even Aaron is getting in on the action

Hannah decided it would be tons of fun to rake the leaves in the backyard (to jump in the pile), and as a result, they raked the front and back yards. Way to go!

Before and After

The eyesore: the first counter seen as we come in through the garage, and as you can see, I collect all kinds of things here. Feeling ambitious (before I knew Christian was leaving), this is what I turned it into...

I finally hung up the calendar and bulletin board; I use the green box to collect (and correctly organize) incoming papers; the counter (theoretically) stays clean; the drawers below are for Hannah and Rachel's school papers and art; the cabinet above isn't tidy, but its organized to hold crayons and coloring books, medicine, recipes, the kids' piggy banks, spare pens and pencils, and coupons and receipts. If you'll notice, I even painted the wall color (eventually the whole kitchen will be this color, but I'm working slowly. Very slowly.)

And here's the pile of stuff, taken off the counter, awaiting a new home. A not quite perfect transformation, but isn't that the way it goes?

Friday, September 12, 2008

One of those days

I survived Friday.
Let me tell you why that's a big deal. This morning, during misty rain, I carted all four kids to the bus-stop to send Hannah to school, then took the remaining three to Aaron's doctor's appointment. After the boys' short afternoon nap, we scrambled to Walmart to get groceries (anything to avoid taking all four kids some other time) during a downpour--and we all got soaked. While in Walmart, I got the call that Christian would be gone for another 5 days--and then realized on the way home that due to traffic and rain, I would be late meeting Hannah's bus after school. I frantically tried to reach my neighbors and settled for the 11-year old neighbor girl, who said she'd meet Hannah and take care of her. Thankfully, some other Moms helped out, too. I then raced to the gas station (and the lines) because the van was seriously empty and I heard tales of $6 gas. I sat in line for 25 minutes, then scrambled home to finally unload the groceries and meet Rachel's bus. Then--I realized that I forgot to buy wipes and I was completely out, so I took all four kids to Target. I had a Mom stop me in the aisles to call me brave; I said, "no, just crazy." We got home around 7:00, after spending way too much money--I always spend more when I shop with kids-- and put together a quick dinner and put the kids to bed. And then put them to bed again. And again. I really need to teach them to stay put.
Amid everything crazy that happened Friday, something really nice happened, too. As Rachel got on her bus in the afternoon, her bus driver told me that I'd been a good missionary. She told me that she had spoken with Rachel's teacher about what a good girl Rachel is and her teacher said that the family seemed very nice, too (silly teacher). Then she said, "I think they're Mormon; you know, LDS." Our church is down the street from the school and I had mentioned months ago that our church had interpreting for Rachel. Anyway, the funny part is that the bus driver is actually in our ward (I didn't recognize her--I spend all my time with kids and youth!)! Anyway, good moment.
Tonight I'm curling up with a movie I know Christian doesn't want to see and some brownies. Good night!

"Very Important" person

So I guess this is what it means to be "very important"; Christian came home from work early on Tuesday, saying that he needed to make an emergency trip to Mexico (a crisis at work). He'd probably be back on Thursday or Friday. He called the next morning--he'd be back Saturday. That evening--Thursday, due to the hurricane. This morning--Sunday. This afternoon--next Wednesday!!!! He better get extra time off for this, and so should I!

Updated 9.13--now its Thursday!

Anti-climatic birthday

Today is Aaron's birthday, but don't tell him--Christian is out of town, so we aren't doing anything until he gets back. I took Aaron in for his check-up and we ended up with two prescriptions; one for eczema, one for the ear infection he is developing (for once, a convenient doctor's appt!). Otherwise, he's happy, healthy, a little on the small side, but doing well. He even tolerated his shots fairly well. So here's my questions--I want to get some real pictures taken, and he needs a haircut. Should I get the pictures before the haircut (his hair is beautiful, but really long) or after (I don't really trust my skill at haircutting)?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

apples and oranges

However, following the Wednesday night speech, voters are fairly evenly divided as to whether Palin or Obama has the better experience to be President. Forty-four percent (44%) of voters say Palin has the better experience while 48% say Obama has the edge. Among unaffiliated voters, 45% say Obama has better experience while 42% say Palin. (Rasmussen Reports)

Comparing the VP candidate to the presidential candidate? Too funny

Plus, did you hear this?

Barack Obama contends that he is more experienced in executive matters than Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin because he has managed his presidential campaign for the past 18 months.

“Well, my understanding is that Governor Palin’s town of Wasilla has, I think, 50 employees. We’ve got 2,500 in this campaign. I think their budget is maybe $12 million a year. You know, we have a budget of about three times that just for the month. So I think that our ability to manage large systems and to execute I think has been made clear over the last couple of years,” Obama said.

John McCain’s spokesman called the suggestion “laughable.”

“For Barack Obama to argue that he’s experienced enough to be president because he’s running for president is desperate circular logic and its laughable. It is a testament to Barack Obama’s inexperience and failing qualifications that he would stoop to passing off his candidacy as comparable to Governor Sarah Palin’s executive experience managing a budget of over $10 billion and more than 24,000 employees,” said spokesman Tucker Bounds. (Fox News)

and then there's this.

Not like I'm too opinionated or anything...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Thank goodness for great schools

I hear a lot about the homeschool/public school debate, especially on the blogosphere. I just have to weigh in--I love my kids schools. It isn't even a question for me--my kids have amazing teachers, who can help the kids in ways that I just can't. I know we're probably in the minority (and I wasn't pleased with North Carolina schools), so I'm counting my blessings.
When I say that, remember that Rachel has special needs and Hannah hates the learning process--she won't attempt things she doesn't know she can do. School provides her with

I love this video of Rachel. Sorry its a little crooked. She's signing that she loves school and is excited for the bus. Then she says she has two busses; one to take her to school, one to come home.
Then it was Nathan's turn. Watch closely and you can see how serious Rachel is about her bus and going to school.

I hope all your kids have a great school year!

I want a tongue like a giraffe's

Really, who wouldn't?

Church stuff

We've had a few really fun Young Women activities lately that I thought I'd share:
We babysat! The Elder's Quorum wanted to have an adult-only BBQ, so we offered to take care of the kids! There was a fair amount of drama involved in the planning, but in the end I think it all went well. Our youth were very good about stepping in, running activities and keeping the kids busy. And they liked the pizza. The adults liked some peace and quiet.Making sparkly wandsDuck, duck, goosebubble cupsRed Rover (That's Rachel holding Tia's hand--in the blue shirt)

Human battleship!
The youth lay down on the gym floor like boats in the game Battleship and one person threw a ball over the net hoping to hit a "boat."