July 25, 2008

Pioneers and Ice Cream

I was called to be an Activity Day Leader for the 8-9 year old girls in our Primary. (I'm glad to still be doing something involved with the Primary.) Yesterday was my first activity. Since it was Pioneer Day, I invited the girls to come dressed in any pioneer attire they had. They looked great, but I couldn't take a picture of them because Jay had taken the camera to work for some reason.

I also asked them to bring a pioneer story from their family history to share, if they had one. Most of them did. It was fun to hear all the stories. The story I shared was about my great (I can't remember how many "greats") grandfather, Thomas Karren. (If you are interested, you can read his story at the end.)*

After the stories, we made homemade ice cream in a bag. If you haven't done this with your kids before, you should... it's pretty easy and fun. I have a couple of tips to add;

1) After adding the ingredients to the small bag, shake and squish it a minute to dissolve the sugar and combine the ingredients. (I used part Half&Half, and part heavy whipping cream.)

2) The best way to mix it is by rolling the bag around on the counter, almost like kneading bread dough; don't bang it or be rough with it or the bag will break... bad news. Make sure it's a "freezer" bag.

3) Wear gloves or use a dish towel so your hands won't freeze.

4) Wipe the salt water off the small bag of ice cream before opening it so that you don't get salt in your ice cream. (You can also rinse it under cold water, but be careful or you will melt your ice cream.) The easiest way to get it out of the bag is to cut a hole in one corner and squeeze it out into a bowl.

5) The recipe says it only takes 5 minutes for it to harden, but we found it was still pretty soft at that point. If you want it to be more of the texture of "real" ice cream, you will need to go longer. Just feel it periodically.

*Thomas Karren was a baker by trade. He and his wife joined the church in England and felt strongly that they should join the saints in Nauvoo. His pregnant wife, Ann, was very resistant, but he told her that this was what the Lord wanted them to do. Of course, he didn't want to go without his wife, but he was prepared to do so.

On the day the ship was to set sail, he awoke to find his wife packed and ready to go. In the meantime, she had given birth to their baby. They went to the dock, but were told the ship wasn't ready to leave, and that they should come back the next day.

They went back every day for the next several weeks. It was the middle of February, and the baby got sick and died. The following day the ship was ready to sail. The distraught couple had to leave their baby to be buried by relatives who weren't happy about any of this.

They made it to Nauvoo where they settled and Thomas worked as a baker again. (He recorded that he made the bread and crackers, and his wife made the cakes and pies.) They had several more children and were quite happy. But then the saints were forced to leave Nauvoo.

They traveled to Winter Quarters where they stayed for a time. Thomas was recruited into the Mormon Battalion. Since her skills were needed there, Ann decided to stay in Winter Quarters to wait for his return. During the march with the Battalion, Thomas because extremely sick, and was finally left for dead on the trail.

A group that was traveling to California found him and nursed him back to health. He caught up with the battalion in New Mexico, and eventually was with one of the first groups to reach the Salt Lake valley. He then returned to Winter Quarters to collect his family, and made the trek yet again!

I am grateful for my pioneer heritage. Their faith and devotion is wonderful example to me.

July 23, 2008

An Interesting Read

I have been reading quite a bit of non-fiction lately, which is a big change for me. Here is another one I really enjoyed.I picked up this book at the library quite by accident. It must have been fate, since it practically jumped into my hands and I rarely read books that haven't been recommended to me. I had no intention of reading a book of this sort, but for some reason I looked at it in my hand and thought, "What the heck."

I like his writing style, and I loved the variety of topics of he covers. I predict you will be in turn surprised, amused, annoyed, chagrined, concerned, and comforted.

July 21, 2008

How Lovely to Be a Woman

It turns out that feminists hate this book, but I loved it. (No surprise there since I'm not a feminist.) I think she is right-on-the-money. Thank you for being bold about it. I learned a lot about myself. I need to read it at least once a year.

(If you don't get the reference in the title of my post, then you need to watch this hilarious video clip from the film version of the musical "Bye Bye Birdie.")

With a little help from Ikea

I have never liked the light fixtures on our front porch, and in the entry way of our house. Yes, I picked them out, but I had to do it really quick and I didn't know what I was doing, and when you are building a house you have a million things to choose and you are trying to save a money anywhere you can, and besides it was over 10 years ago and they are outdated now.

So, time for a change.

On Saturday we went to Ikea and found this little guy for our entry way for a mere $35. (I'm still trying to save money.) I love it, and it gives my entry way such a boost. Funny how something so simple can make me so happy. Every time I walk by it I look up and smile.

Watch out porch light... you're next.

P.S. I love having a handy husband. Jay installed that thing in nothing-flat. He has many other talents as well. And no, I do not loan him out.

July 20, 2008

Eye Candy

I have no idea who these people are (I don't watch the Food Network) but a friend of mine posted a link to a blog with photos of this cute wedding, and I couldn't resist sharing it with you. Enjoy!

July 17, 2008

Reading Rescue

Ever since he learned to read, Collin has been an avid reader. He will read anything he can get his hands on... even the Wall Street Journal (the only newspaper we get in our home)... and he will talk to me about the articles. "Mom, I read in the WSJ that....."

He began reading the Friend magazine so quickly that he was turning to the Ensign (at 6 years old). I finally subscribed to the New Era for him (he's 9). He blows through that... and then reads the Ensign.

As much as he loves to read fiction, he loves non-fiction. I think he has read every non-fiction book in the school library, or least all the ones on science and World War II (his favorite topics). Although he seems to be branching out; when we went the library last week, he chose a book called "Arizona Historical Land."

I have always had a hard time pulling Collin away from a book when he is supposed to be doing something else. He gets so caught up in books that he completely loses track of time.

Then there is Mary (6). She is a good reader... or I should say "she reads well." She reads dutifully every day for exactly the required amount of time. And that is it. She doesn't get excited to read, and she doesn't ever want to read for fun. Is there something wrong with her?

I have been thinking that she just hasn't found anything she loves to read. At her age, Collin had read every "Magic Tree House" book and loved them (especially the historical parts). He would read a book in one sitting. Mary reads one chapter and puts it away. "Mary, don't you like it?" "Sure I do." "Is it exciting?" "Yes." "Don't you want to find out what happens?" "Tomorrow. I want to go play."

I found some adaptations of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books that she started on (I thought the originals were probably too daunting for a 6 year old). Same story. There have been other books here and there, but nothing has stuck. Her 1st grade teacher read "The Box Car Children" to the class, so I tried to get her to read more of those, but she said she wasn't interested. Huh?

I took the kids to Barnes & Noble yesterday to get forms for their summer reading program (free books anyone?), and told them I would buy each of them a book (which had to be approved by me). This was a rare treat, since we usually just check them out from the library. But I wanted Mary to have a reason to get excited about reading.

Collin got "Johnny Tremain." (One of my favorite books at his age!) Jack picked a little book on how to draw Pokemon characters, which I finally agreed to since he can't read yet. (We have way too many picture books anyway, and he has already moved on to chapter books... I'm reading "James and Giant Peach" to him currently.) And Mary? Well, I spent at least 30 minutes with her trying to find something she wanted. I made suggestion after suggestion and she kept saying she wasn't interested. Nothing I said would convince her these were books she would enjoy. She did like the Ramona Quimby books, so I suggested other books by Beverly Clearly, but she still said no.

I finally gave up, so Mary didn't get a book. She was all upset, but so was I!!!

So, I need your help. Please give me your book recommendations for 7 year old girls... something that will develop Mary's love of reading. (Please no adaptations of TV shows!)

July 15, 2008

I can see clearly now....

During the last half of the school year, Mary would frequently complain that she couldn't see the chalkboard at school and insisted that she needed glasses. I was worried that it was peer-related, since I knew that several of the girls in her class wore glasses. Nevertheless, her teacher put her in the front row.

I mentioned all this to the pediatrician when I took her in for a well-visit a couple of weeks ago. She did a quick vision exam, and said her vision was about 20/70. So I finally took Mary to an eye doctor.
She got glasses this week. She is so excited! She doesn't need them all the time, but she has been wearing them anyway for the novelty of it. Now, wherever we go, she is constantly saying things like, "Look at that! Wow, that sign says...." I feel kind of guilty for doubting her.

I can remember getting my first pair of glasses. I had just graduated from high school. I got them just for driving and wearing in class. But the first day that I got them, I drove to Target to get something, and I marveled as a walked around the store... I could see everything and read all the signs!!!! What a feeling.

And now I marvel that I can see clearly without glasses or contacts. Hooray for Lasik!!!!!

July 09, 2008

John Adams

Jay and I just finished watching parts 1 and 2 of the fantastic HBO mini-series "John Adams." I highly recommend it! It was extremely well-cast; the acting is excellent, especially Paul Giamatti. I admit I was initially surprised to see he had been cast in the title role, but I was impressed; he has proven himself to be quite a versatile actor. (And they did a fantastic job of making David Morse look startlingly like George Washington!)

I hadn't realized that the mini-series was based on the bestselling book (Jay's favorite) by David McCullough (Jay's favorite author), which I have been meaning to read. But now I'm going to for sure.


I just finished reading this wonderful classic to Jack. I read it to Collin and Mary when they were four as well. They all loved it as much as I do. What a lovely and touching story of friendship, loyalty, love, and sacrifice. I cry just as hard every time I read it. I hope this wasn't the last time. I suppose I can read it to my grandchildren.

Recently, Jack came in the house to tell me that there was a spider web on his bike. I was distracted, and merely replied with something like, "Well, just brush if off. It won't hurt you." After a pause, Jack went on to say, "Mom, spiders don't like humans... only pigs."

July 08, 2008

4th of July Weekend

We had a fun weekend up north, away from the heat. We drove up Wednesday evening to my parents' cabin in Pinetop. Then we spent the day on Thursday hanging out with Jay's family at his parents' place in Vernon (about 30 minutes away).

Grandma's latest acquisition
The cousins all played baseball on the front lawn
And of course they loved riding Grandpa's "four-wheelers"

We spent Friday (July 4th) in St. Johns (another nearby town) where we have every year since I can remember. My mom's sister lives there, and it's fun to visit with family and enjoy the small-town activities, like the BBQ and foot races at the park.
Jack took 3rd place.
Here is Jack showing off his prize quarter (1st place wins a dollar coin, 2nd place a 50-cent piece, and everyone gets a box of Cracker Jacks).
Mary took 2nd place last year, but didn't place this year. Same with Collin (for some reason I didn't get a photo).

I think Jay probably won't race again after he took a spill this year and may have cracked a rib! (Darn those sneaky pot holes in the grass!)

Mary had to climb her favorite tree... like she does every year.

On Saturday, we had a reunion with my dad's side of the family in Snowflake (yet another nearby small town). I have many happy memorizes of summer fun in Snowflake. We met at the park where all the cousins enjoyed playing together, and we did lots of eating, playing, visiting, etc. Jack with his buddies Sam and Juliette

Jack and Sam with their precious water balloons

My cousin took all the little kids for rides in the pony cart. What a treat!

Jack was too afraid to ride one of the big horses, but he finally got brave enough to ride the pony... with plenty of assistance from my awesome cousins. (The one in front in single... any takers?)

Here is Collin riding. Mary rode too, but apparently I didn't get a photo (though I did get some video). Hey, I even rode a horse for the first time in at least 15 years! Thank goodness there are no photos of THAT! (I think there is some video though... uh oh.)
Sunday we went to church in Pinetop and enjoyed more visiting and nice cool weather! My favorite thing to do when we go to the cabin is hang out and talk on the porch swing. Ahhh.

We decided to drive home Monday morning instead of fighting the Sunday afternoon traffic. Back to the heat. Bleh.

July 02, 2008

We're off!

We are headed to the cabin for the long weekend. Happy Independence Day!

July 01, 2008


I subscribe to too many magazines, namely this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one, as well as the Ensign, New Era, and The Friend. I used to receive "Blueprint" as well (another Martha Stewart mag), but the publication went in the tank after less than a year. They still maintain the blog associated with it.

I subscribed only to The Ensign until after I was married. When I became a homeowner, I finally started taking "Better Homes and Gardens" at my sister's suggestion. I finally added "The Friend" once I became a mother (even though my first child couldn't even read yet), mostly because I was called to serve in Primary and needed it as a resource. And that was it for many years. I recently added "The New Era" because Collin was reading through "The Friend" too quickly, and it seemed like he needed something a little deeper.

So, now I have all 3 church magazines and it will stay that way. But somehow I added all those others! I had decided to quit "BHG" because it has gone seriously downhill over the years (it seems to be mostly ads these days) but they begged and begged me to stay, offering me 2 years for the price of one, plus a free gift subscription. I couldn't resist.

Several years ago I subscribed briefly to Martha Stewart Living, but cancelled after a year since everything was way too, you know, Martha-Stewart-ish. But they kept begging me to come back, and finally made me an offer recently that I couldn't refuse. Then they offered me a deal on "Everyday Food" (another Martha mag) which I know my sister-in-law likes, and well, yes, I took it. Ditto with "Blueprint." Uh oh.

I the meantime, I had already signed up for "Real Simple" to replace BHG. I enjoy it, and plan to keep it. But then my sister-in-law turned me on to "Domino" which is very fun, and I got a really good deal so once again I couldn't resist. Then the same publisher offered me "Lucky" which was much different than all the others which are mostly "domestic" in nature. But I thought I would try it out since it might help me figure out what to wear. (Could YOU resist a 12-month subscription for $10?)

This all happened within a matter of months. Yikes! What had I gotten myself into? I had justified the first few as practically a necessity since I was trying to get my house organized (when I decided we didn't need a bigger house, just use our space more efficiently), and they offered many good ideas which have been very helpful. I figured I would give them all a try and only keep the best ones after the first year was over.

The year came to an end and I really liked all of them and couldn't decide which to keep. Soooo, I renewed them all. Oops. Now I'm regretting it. But I still can't decide what to do. I still have several months to go on my second year, and I am reluctant to let any of them go. But I really do have too many to read.

So, I need some advice here. I am definitely dropping BHG, no matter what they offer me, and definitely keeping "Real Simple." (It fits my life the best.) But I'm undecided on the rest. I have a love/hate relationship with Martha, so maybe I should drop hers. That would be 2 more down. Domino and Lucky are tough. They are both really fun, but probably don't really fit me, but I would like to keep one of them, since I need some "style" in my life.

What should I do?

More of an obsession

I just finished reading this book. You probably already know that I am sort of obsessed with Jane Austen, and "Pride and Prejudice" in particular (I hardly lack for company, you know), so you won't be surprised to learn that I found it quite entertaining. It was not as revelatory as I had hoped, and much of the dialogue (which really couldn't be helped) was quoted directly from the original book. But the author stayed true to the story, for which I was grateful.