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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Will it ever end?

I have a love/hate relationship with the show, LOST. Now I'd consider myself to be a competent human being, but with each passing episode, I feel more confused and in the dark. Just when one mystery is unveiled, a whole new can of worms is opened! And is it just me or are there too many plots within the main plot? I understand a good story isn't a good story without some suspense, but come on!!! A little closure would be nice!

The writers must sense the confusion they've created because it seems so far this season they've spent just as much time catching us up on previous seasons' events as they have unfolding current issues. And sure, the melody of the show has always been jumping from the past to the present, but now they've started revealing bits and pieces of the future, only providing more unanswered questions.


I wish this show would just end already (well, first answer all my many questions, and then end). It's gone on long enough! And yet I'm hooked! If it wasn't so addicting (and if Jack wasn't so hot), I would gladly find new ways to occupy my Thursday evenings! But I simply can't stop watching.

For those of you who also suffer from LOST syndrome, take this
quiz to find out what nickname Sawyer would give you, and let's gear up for another crazy and confusing episode tonight!
signautre

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Teach Your Children Well

Does this look familiar to anyone? Does it take you back to your childhood days, perhaps? Both Neil and I learned from this book (and the others from this series) when we were young, and we'd like to pass that tradition of learning down to our own kiddos. Yesterday I went to Chapter and Verse and bought this, along with the New Testament Stories. Chloe loves being read to, and we figure since she'll be going into Sunbeams next year (which I'm in denial about), it's time we start teaching her Scripture stories. Couldn't find the Book of Mormon Stories, but these will suffice for now.

Last night we learned about the war in heaven and tonight we'll read about when God created the earth. Despite how sweet Chloe looks in the picture below, she had quite the meltdown when Neil finished chapter 1 and closed the book. Hopefully this behavior doesn't become part of our nightly routine.

A bit off the subject, but does anyone remember Arch books? It seems we had hundreds growing up, but I'm not sure what happened to them. Mom? These books (and the ones mentioned above) contributed to the knowledge and appreciation I now hold for the priceless stories and lessons of the Bible, and I hope to eventually collect them all for Chloe.

signautre

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Brad!

Happy Birthday to my very favorite "little" brother, Brad!

Hope your day was filled with happiness, laughter and love!
You certainly deserve all of those things and more!


Happy 23rd!!!

signautre

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A bite of heaven

Some of our best friends, Brett and Leslie, are moving to Indiana at the end of this week, and last night we attended a going away party in their honor. I was asked to bring a dessert, and since my plans of making Tuxedo Brownie Cups for Neil on Valentine's Day fell through, I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to rekindle our marriage. I suceeded.

I've made these several times, but for some reason the first batch of brownies didn't cooperate (genius me forgot to follow the high altitude directions), and because this put me an hour and a half off schedule, my afternoon plans of lunch and a movie with Stefani got thrown off. She ended up helping me make these, and though it got a little crazy, we had a lot of fun and I appreciated her company and help.

After finishing these lovely little bites of heaven, we sat down and watched, It Happened One Night, a 1934 screwball comedy, starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. It is rare that I meet someone of my generation who holds the same appreciation and love for old movies, so this was especially refreshing for me. If there's anyone else out there who loves the good old black and whites, make yourself known! We'll start a club!

Okay, okay. So onto the important thing here. I've teased you with pictures. The least I can do is share the recipe! I want you to know this is a huge sacrifice for me, but one I'm willing to make just for you!

Tuxedo Brownie Cups
By Pampered Chef

Ingredients:
1 (21 oz.) package fudge brownie mix (plus ingredients to make cake like brownies)
6oz. white chocolate chips
2 T. milk
1 (8oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 (8oz.) container cool whip
sliced strawberries

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 325. Prepare brownie mix according to directions. Follow high altitude directions if applicable. Spray mini muffin pan with non-stick spray; fill each cup 2/3 full. Bake approximately 15 minutes (or until the edges are set). Remove and immediately press tops of brownies (I use
Pampered Chef's mini tart shaper, but any other tool that can make indentations will do). The recipe says to allow cups to cool in pan for 15 minutes, then gently remove, but I have better luck removing them almost immediately - you decide what works best for you.

Melt white chocolate with milk on stove; cool slightly. Transfer mixture to bowl; add powdered sugar and cream cheese; mix with electric hand mixer until sooth; fold in cool whip. Fill cups with white chocolate mixture - you can use a cake decorator kit or just spoon in doll ups, which is much easier! Slice strawberries and place one slice in each brownie cup.

As a finishing touch, sprinkle powdered sugar or cocoa over the cups. Makes about 55.


Well, they were a hit. Chloe especially loved them, though you wouldn't know it by the unenthusiastic expression!


Thanks again for your help, Stefani. And to Brett, Leslie, Evan, Sydney, and Baby Megan, happy trails! Chloe will especially miss her pal, Syd.

signautre

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Chloeisms

Chloe is constantly astonishing and amusing me with new things, but I've found I quickly forget the details unless I jot them down right then and there! Over the past several weeks I've filled an entire sheet of paper with miscellaneous milestones, stories, updates etc., and have finally decided it's time to convert the scribbles into an official update.

So here you go, Grandma Jill and Grandma Susie, since you're probably the only two who won't fall asleep reading this!
Chloe is:
Talking talking talking!
Her vocabulary continues to explode and each day she's making us laugh a little harder. She enunciates her words so clearly, and has started speaking in complete sentences. Here are just a few things that she commonly says:

  • "That's spicy!"

  • "Hey! Don't do that!"

  • "Be right back!"

  • "It's cold! Buuuuhhhhhh!"

  • "Don't kiss me, Mommy!" or "A kiss?" and "A hug?" (depends on what kind of mood she's in when I tuck her in at night)

  • "I slam a door!" (she generally shouts this during a meltdown just before slamming a door.. once she realizes she's being ignored she'll open the door, announce it a second time and repeat the action)

  • "A temple!" (she says this every time she sees a church, castle/palace on tv or any building that, to her, resembles a temple)

  • "Here ya go!"

  • "I can't do it" or "I can't reach it"

  • "I have some?" (her way of asking for something)

  • "I hold you" (in other words, "Pick me up!")

  • "Much, Daddy!" (when you ask how much she loves daddy, instead of saying "this much!" and holding her arms out, she says, "much, daddy!" and throws her arms up in the air)

  • "Yucky Charms" (Lucky Charms)

  • "Hi baby!" "Okay, baby?" (I call her "baby", which I'm convinced is the reason for this one - one night in particular when I was throwing up in the bathroom, Chloe came in, patted me on the back and said, "Okay, baby?")

  • "Sorry 'bout that"

  • "I sorry" (she says after standing in the corner and before giving me a hug - she's actually very good about saying it without being asked)

  • "Both hands!" (we recently enforced a rule that when Chloe drinks from a cup she's to use both hands... she must assume this rule applies to everyone because the minute to spots someone "breaking" this rule, she's the first to offer a friendly reminder)

  • "It's broken" (she says this if something doesn't seem to be working right)

  • "I like it" (this usually refers to food)

  • "I need help"

  • "It's hiding" (she says this when Neil or I ask where she's put something and she can't remember)

  • "What's that called?" or "What's this?" (when she's wondering what something is called and you tell her, she then responds, "Oh, a ___!" and then repeats it)

  • "Don't spank me!" (she clearly says this when she knows she's in trouble)
Acquiring quite the attitude!
A couple weeks ago while I was sitting at the computer, Chloe came to me asking for some macaroni and cheese. I explained I'd make her some in just a minute and shifted my attention back to the computer to finish up whatever I was doing. Not a minute later, Chloe marched back into the room and yelled,

"Come on, Mommy!"


-short pause-

"Let's go!"


-short pause-

"Right now, Mommy!"


Attempting to contain my laughter (and failing miserably), Chloe then proceeded to count in a rather threatening voice: "1...2...3...4...5..."

When she got to 6 she walked over to me and slapped my hand. Needless to say, she got her mac'n'cheese!!

Nurturing!
She loves her baby dolls, but will literally pretend any object within her reach is a baby. The garlic mincer, a box of jell-o, daddy's shoe - you name it! The other day she wrapped her sippy cup in a kitchen towel and brought it to me, explaining that the sippy was "wrapped in a blanket" and ready to "go night, night". She "feeds", "burps", and even talks to her dolls (or whatever object happens to be the "doll" that day). She has even been found lulling her "baby" to "sleep" - this consists of rocking back and forth (with the baby in her arms) while whispering a soft "ssssshhh" sound. It's so clear she's simply mimicking the correspondence Neil and I have had with her. She will make a great big sister one of these days.
(pictured to the left is Chloe holding her lamb stuffed animal wrapped up in one of her shirts)


Smart!
Chloe can recite the entire alphabet, rattle off 1-10 in a matter of seconds, and sometimes count clear to 15. Her favorite song is 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' and her version of it goes something like this:

"Tinkle tinkle,
Up above da world so high,
A like a diamond in the sky" (repeated three to four times)

She knows quite a bit of "Wheels on the Bus", "Itsy-Bitsy Spider", "Ring Around the Rosie", "I Am a Child of God", and "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam"

She also recognizes her letters and will point to and name them when I whip out the flash cards or write them on the chalk board! Santa brought her a laptop for Christmas, which offers all sorts of fun and interactive learning games. One in particular asks you to identify the letter on the screen and hit the keyboard button that reflects that letter. Chloe hits the right button 90% of the time. It is incredible to me how quickly she absorbs information. This girl loves to learn and share what she's learned.

Little Miss Independent!
"I do it!" is probably Chloe's most common phrase! She is doing incredibly well with potty training and has not only initiated the process herself, but encouraged it more than I have! She is SO READY to be out of diapers 100%, it is obvious. Nearly a month ago Neil and I dropped her off with an old co-worker (whom she hardly knew). When we arrived to pick her up only an hour and a half later, our friend told us Chloe had not only informed her she needed to go potty, but actually went both pee and poop in the toilet. Wow! Talk about a proud mommy moment! She hardly even knew this woman and had only been in her house one other time, but still had the courage to announce she needed to go. Chloe has also awakened me in the middle of the night to take her to the bathroom!

She also continues to do amazingly well in her twin bed. There are the occasional nights where she gets up frequently for no reason, yet has a million excuses as to why she isn't quite ready for bed (needs to go potty, is thirsty, needs medicine, the list goes on...), but overall we're very relieved that the transition from crib to bed has been a mostly smooth one!

Her top eye teeth are both coming in, and other than that, we're just waiting on the four back molars before she'll have a full mouth of teeth!

She loves Baby Einstein, Elmo, Nemo, Cinderella and Monster's Inc. We kind of rotate between these movies/shows, though Monster's Inc. has especially been the favorite lately. She laughs and laughs as she watches it, which makes me laugh. She is becoming more and more of a person every day, and it is a blessing for me to witness every miracle, big and small.
signautre

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Valentine's Day, Cafe Rio style...

This year for Valentine's Day I attempted a Cafe Rio feast for my husband, as we are both fanatics. He spent the week in San Diego on business, and after a very long day of meetings, flights and car rides, he made it home to my arms, safe and sound (at 9:12pm to be exact). I was thrilled to see him for the whole hour and a half of Valentine's day we spent together; and he was thrilled to be home, especially when he discovered the food that was waiting for him.

I found these on the internet, and every one claimed to be actual Cafe Rio recipes. I'm quite certain they aren't (except the salad dressing, which tasted about the same), nevertheless they have still become Andersen favorites (especially the pork) and I thought it'd be wrong of me not to share...

Sweet Pork
Ingredients:
3-5lb. pork loin or pork roast (bone-in roasts are cheaper and more tender)
1 1/2 cans Coca Cola
1 c. sugar
7oz. can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
1 t. dry ground mustard (heaping)
1 t. ground cumin (heaping)
1 t. minced garlic
1/2 c. brown sugar (recipe didn't call for this - I included it for extra sweetness)
Instructions:
Place can of chilies in a bowl and cover with coke. Once the chilies are no longer coated with adobo sauce, remove them and throw away. If you prefer HOT, leave a few chilies in. I removed all but one chili and it was the perfect combination of sweet and spicy. Combine all ingredients (except pork) in a blender and mix. Place pork in crock pot and pour sauce over the top. Cook on high 4-6 hours or low 7-9 hours. Carefully turn roast over halfway through cooking. Remove pork and shred, then throw it back in and mix with juice. It may be liquidy, in which case you'll want to use a slaughtered spoon when serving.

Cilantro-Lime Rice
Ingredients:
1 c. long grain rice
2 c. water
2 chicken bouillons
1 t. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. lime zest
2 T. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 t. sugar
3 T. fresh cilantro, chopped
Instructions:
In a saucepan combine rice, water, bouillons, butter, garlic, and lime zest. Bring to boil, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until rice is tender and water is absorbed. Remove from heat. In a small bowl combine lime juice, sugar and cilantro. Pour over rice.

Black Beans
Ingredients:
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/3 c. tomato juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. ground cumin
2 T. olive oil
1 1/2 t. salt
2 T. fresh cilantro, chopped
Instructions:
In a non-stick skillet cook garlic, cumin and olive oil over medium heat just until you can smell it. Add beans, tomator juice and salt. Continually stir until heated through. Just before serving, stir in cilantro.

Creamy Cilantro Dressing
Ingredients:
1 envelope buttermilk ranch dressing
1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. milk
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 tomatillos (look like green tomatoes surrounded by husks)
1/2 serrano pepper with seeds removed
Instructions:
Combine all ingredients in blender and mix until smooth. Refrigerate 1 hour to thicken.


And voilĂ ! A romantically yummy dinner for two!








I found the tortillas at Costco - $5.99 for a package of 44! That's cheaper than the 12-packs you can buy at the grocery store (and at least a hundred times better - just another reason I love Costco)! Once you try these you'll never go back. They are uncooked, which means when you throw them in the pan for the entire minute and a half they take to warm up, they come out smelling and tasting like hot fresh restaurant-style tortillas!


This food was to die for! We've had it for dinner the last two nights and will probably eat it again tonight. Needless to say, Neil was pleased. Hope everyone else had a Happy Valentine's Day!
signautre

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

My Rainbows

Last week marked a significant event in my life. It was an event I would never want to endure again, but one which offered great lessons of understanding, hope and gratitude. Even before I had a chance to feel afraid or hopeless, God was there. He offered me the comfort I needed. He gave me the strength I didn't have. And most importantly, He helped me to recognize the rainbows that still existed, even among the darkest clouds. I am grateful for the rainbows in my life and I'd like to share some of them with you (in no particular order).

Gordon B. Hinckley, beloved father, grandfather, husband, friend and leader of our church. He left this earth ten days ago at the age of ninety seven, to reunite with his Marjorie in Heaven. What a sweet little man he was! What a twinkle in his eye he had! And what an example of unconditional love, strength, hard work, compassion, courage, persistence, and faith he set for the rest of us. His legacy will live on forever, and I am grateful to have been alive during his days of leadership and counsel.

Ballet, an art of movement I have passionately loved and appreciated all the days of my life. My mom recorded a PBS Ballet Production for me when I was four or five and I vividly remember taking it to kindergarten on Show and Tell day. I'm sure Mrs. Lion found this to be an odd choice, but didn't hesitate to pop the tape in for the whole class to see! When my hard work paid off and I earned my first pair of pointe shoes (at age thirteen) I was on top of the world. Ballet was my outlet for many years, offering relief and filling voids during difficult times. To this day I regret letting this talent go, however my passion for it will never die, and in the next life I'll be dancing my heart out!
My Mom. This woman is an angel in a human's body; the epitome of love; the most genuine, kind, affectionate, compassionate, cheerful, spiritual, selfless, non-judgmental woman I've ever known. And she's my mother! From the most devastating moments in my life to the most joyful, she has been there. When it seems there is no reason to smile, she finds one. She has set an incredible example of Christ-like love and service, of what it is to be a wife and mother, and of what it is to be a friend. With each passing day I am still learning something new from this incredible woman I call "Mama". She is one of my best friends.

Sushi. It seems you either love it or you hate it. Quite honestly I don't know how someone could put the words hate and sushi in the same sentence, but who am I to judge? After all, I hate peanut butter and dark chocolate! I always look forward to sushi dates with my brother (and sometimes my dad too), even though they're few and far between.


Speaking of brother! David, my one and only sibling is another rainbow in my life. Though we see each other so seldom, it's always like old times. He makes me laugh hysterically. He is talented beyond words. And even in the midst of a crazy jazz musician lifestyle, he still manages to call his little sis every so often just because. We are eight years apart, which I believe has only made us closer. We talk about anything and everything. He is respectful, disciplined, sentimental, thoughtful and dang funny! I love this man and am so lucky to call him my big brother.

Elizabeth Bennet, lovely heroine from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. My dad and I read this novel together when I was thirteen, and to this day I haven't read a more enjoyable or meaningful work of art. Endearing, assertive, confident, spirited, strong-minded, and witty are just a few adjectives to describe this amazing heroine! What touches me the most about Lizzy is her ability to follow her heart, despite the judgments and pressures of society. She is a shining example of perseverance, and her character has offered me great encouragement over the years.

My Dad, a man of warmth and wisdom. He has always made me feel like a little queen, his one and only "babe". He always encouraged me to strive for my two greatest desires in life: to be a wife and mother, and has continued to encourage and support me through my years of living those dreams. He has this way of shedding light on a situation that at one time seemed hopeless. He has the ability to put my thoughts into words when I just can't seem to express them myself. And his hugs are like nothing else, often holding greater power than any words of wisdom could. His vast knowledge of literature, film, music and religion has drawn hundreds to him. He is generous, loving and wonderful.

Newborn babies. Any of you who know me know how much I love babies (and have always loved babies), especially teensy tiny babies. I was nicknamed "Ward Auntie" a few years back after constantly being spotted with someone else's baby in church. Even as a child I was fascinated with these sweet little creatures, and always looked forward to having one of my own someday. Their silky soft skin, scrawny little legs, perfect baby scent, and cute little sounds just melt my heart. The first few weeks of Chloe's life I hardly put her down. I just wanted to cherish every possible moment before she outgrew that stage. We all know it happens fast!

My husband. Where do I begin with this amazing fella? I have learned so much in the six years I've known Neil. He has been a great example of logical thinking, of not bringing the occasional frustrations of work home, of radiating that smile even when he isn't feeling up to it. He is confident, optimistic, cheerful and easy to get along with. He doesn't care what others think, nor does he compare himself to others or make decisions based on the opinions of others. He is hard-working and will go until the job gets done. He is practical, which every relationship needs! He can read me like a book and often knows what's best for me when I can't figure it out myself. He is a good provider and a worthy Priesthood holder. His romantic acts are meaningful, and I never have to wonder if I'm loved. He keeps Chloe giggling and teaches her random yet useful things, using brilliant techniques I would have never thought of. On top of everything else, my husband is a looker! I love knowing he's mine for eternity. Thank you Chevys for introducing us!

Motherhood, a role I've strived for since I can remember. Such an amazing gift from God. You cannot compare the bond between a mother and child to anything! Motherhood offers so many rainbows in itself! It is the most difficult job (at least for me), but also the most fulfilling and joyful, and something I wouldn't trade for the universe.

Family and Friends, near and far! It is such a blessing to be able to count on my loved ones to offer support and relief in times of need. Every day I count my blessings for you, my family and friends!
Music.
“Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul.”
- Anonymous
I could not live without music. It has been a constant aid in my life.



My daughter. Chloe has been my biggest rainbow this last week. Because of her I can call myself a mother. She brings indescribable joy to my soul, and has since the day I found out she was coming! Her personality continues to blossom, and despite the snotty attitude she's starting to develop (gotta love those terrible twos), her thoughtful side continues to shine through as well. She can sense when something is not right, when someone is feeling sad or needs a hug. And if she feels it is necessary, she'll walk right over to you and while patting your back say, "You okay?" When no one else can bring a smile to my face, this girl can! She is the light in my life, my rainbow.

My Savior is my constant rainbow, and I've especially felt His presence these last several days. He has caused me to run into certain people I now know I was meant to talk with, prompted others to reach out to me in various ways, placed books and articles I needed to read right into my hands, and in other ways kept me uplifted and hopeful. I am grateful for His example, for the promises and blessings He provided us with, and ultimately for the opportunity I have to pray to and learn of Him each and every day.

We all have rainbows in our lives! Some days the clouds may seem heavier and the rainbows more distant, but they are always there. And they will get you through anything if you let them.

signautre

Friday, February 1, 2008

Friday Funnies

I know it's been a while since I posted, but I have good reasons. I do have something in the making, but this will have to tide you over until I finish that.

My mom showed Chloe this video during our last Utah trip in November and the girl's been hooked on it ever since. I can't even go near the computer now without hearing the dreaded words, "Kitties cats! I see kitties cats!" It's almost become the pre-requisite for using the computer! And because it's been so overplayed, I hardly find it funny anymore. It is funny, just not the two hundred and sixteenth time!

So Chloe, my dear, this week's addition of Friday Funnies, also known as Cat Antics is just for you!

{Be sure to pause the music on my blog before hitting 'play'}



signautre