Run, Stephanie, run!

The other night, I had neglected to do my cardio until late at night. It wasn't until about 10:00 pm that I laced up the running shoes and set out for the mailbox. I have to run a minimum of 20 minutes to get the requirement fulfilled on my program. Because it was not a school night, Kate decided to come with me and Jimmy. A run to the mailbox is a quarter mile. So, from the front door to the mailbox and then back to the front door is 1/2 mile. Usually, I will do about 6 laps.

This night, I had set out to run at least 6 laps. But the moon wasn't out and I could barely see my hand in front of my face. Yet, I was determined to get that point! Half way through our laps, Kate and Jimmy started walking while I kept up a runner's pace. Even though I knew they were on the road to the mailbox, I could not see my family. But, when I was out near the road and they were near the barn I heard a terrified scream from my daughter... followed closely by the sound of a pack of coyotes. Now, if you have never heard coyotes howling in the night- you're lucky. If you hear them in the pitch black, getting closer by the second- it tends to be a little scary to say the least. I knew they wouldn't hurt me, but I my mommy instinct was strong. I ran so fast back towards the house, all the while the howling getting closer. I knew they were close because the neighbor's dog was chasing them.

By the time I got back to my family, the coyotes were in the brush. When we reached to door together they were being chased off by the dog. It was a close one, folks.

I still cannot believe my family waited outside for me to get back to them! You know the 'fight or flight' instinct? I am flight all the way. I am a runner. I learned that valuable lesson at girls' camp when I was scared so bad and actually pushed a girl in front of me as a sacrifice and ran the other way. Stellar, I know. But at least I am honest. So, to see my sweet little girl waiting for me and  shaking in fright as the predators grew closer was so touching... but I still beat everyone back into the house.


Best Sunday of the year!

Today we had our Primary Program.
As always it was adorable.
The best is the little hiccups throughout the program- you know, the mispronounced words or the heavy breathing into the microphone...
I personally love watching the missteps more than a perfect program. I think maybe because that's how Heavenly Father sees us.

He's the dad sitting in the congregation, knowing that those little kids have worked so hard to get it right. He knows the preparation that this program took. Not just the two or three weeks, but the lifetime of practice: learning the songs, the principles, the endless hours teachers and parents have prepared lessons...
And how does the father see his children?
How do we see these children?

I see them through eyes of love. I see them trying their hardest to do what is right. I see those children facing their fears and standing up to talk to a room full of people bigger than them. I see all they want to say- even though the part they've read is small. The mistakes are endearing because those little children are striving to do their best.

My question again-
How does the Father see His children?


Help Wanted

Kate has always had issues when it comes to motor skills. She may be able to read circles around her peers, but when it comes to physical prowess- poor kid can't run in a straight line. At the end of every school year, I have always been approached by the teacher requesting me to work on her fine motor skills over the Summer. In all cases, I have wanted to shout, "I do!!! You think that I don't spend most of my time with her trying to improve?!"

It took me four and a half years to teach Kate to tie her shoes. And let's not talk about the countless hours it required to finally get that girl to ride a bike... even now, these things are difficult for her to accomplish.

It's only when I got Kate into riding lessons that I really thought about this being more than just a small issue. Watching Kate on the horse and her progress has made me re-evaluate what my daughter needs to be successful in this life. Although her academic grades are wonderful, physical things have always been difficult. We are still working on showering and personal hygiene independently.

So, we are meeting with Kate's teacher, principal and doctor this week to figure this out. I know something is up. I can feel it. I also know there is a solution. I'm just pleading for your prayers in this difficult and new territory. We are fortunate to be blessed with such a wonderful daughter. I have total faith in her ability to cope with whatever comes from this season of searching. It's actually me who needs your prayers...


Like taking candy from a baby

At the day care I work, there is a tough little guy that is just a little hard to handle. To be honest with you, I seemed to have overcome the hurdle of  having the desire to lock him in the backyard everyday... Gosh that sounds bad, but the backyard is a pleasant place. Me and this little dude, we're cool now.

I took the kids to the park today and had a blast as I do every time we visit the park. The aforementioned child came in tow, of course. While we were playing hide and go seek, little guy came out from behind the bush with a stick. As always I said, "Sticks belong on the ground." and as always, little guy ignored my direction the first time I stated the rule. Now, mind you- every single time we go to the park, I have the exact same conversation with the exact same kid. Things aren't going to change, dude! Don't play with the sticks!

Unless, of course Miss Stephanie sees that the stick little guy is holding just happens to be the ultimate in a perfect Hermione Granger wand to complete Kate's Halloween costume. Now, this child is a smart boy. If he finds out I want to stick, I will never get it. I envision a scene in which I am lunging for the stick in slow motion while he dramatically breaks it in half and sticks out his tongue. When I snap back to reality, the boy is stabbing the bush with the wand, I mean stick.

So in an effort to diffuse my enthusiasm, I calmly ask the little guy to put the stick on the ground. I swear, he knows I want it. But maybe he's slipped a little because he happily places the stick down and runs off. I swooped in a snatched that stick faster than you can say, "Lumos". With a near giddy expression I tilt my head to glance at what the boy is holding now.

Oh gosh, another stick... *Gasp* THE stick. The stick that is way better than the one I am already triumphing over in my hand. He DID know what he was doing the whole time! That kid knew he could outsmart me with a bait and switch. My eyes narrowed ever so slightly when I calmly say, "Sticks belong on the ground, sweetie."

How in the world am I going to navigate this situation?
I cannot wrestle a toddler for a wand. That just sounds crazy...
So, I watch carefully as little guy is running aimlessly (or so he wants me think) around the park. I offer to trade the stick I have now with the new object of my desire to no avail. In fact- he is now drumming the park sign with the perfectly knobby, dark, smooth stick!!!

If I ask him to put the stick down again, I know from past behavior that this boy has escalated to the 'stomp on the stick as soon as it hits the ground' stage. I must be stealth. I must use my head. While Hermoine's wand is being abused against the sign, "If you hit the sign again, I will take away the stick" I warn. That boy turns and looks at me with reckless abandon and starts sprinting around with my intended!

Well folks, I was wearing my running shoes- so run I must. And so begins the game of cat and mouse with me just waiting for the boy to hit some object with the stick so I can coax it out of his little hands. After much running, he finally stops at a tree and starts drumming away. I win!
With my firm voice (not trying to sound ecstatic, no doubt) I say, "Please hand me the stick." And with just a little hesitation, the little guy hands over the ultimate in perfection. Yes! I did it. I wasn't expecting anyone to see me tuck the wand into my waistband and under my shirt. But the lady walking through the park was looking at me with same expression you are probably wearing while reading this ridiculous story.

I will say this- Kate's costume will be fabulous.



Wanna hear what I ate on my free day?

7 pieces of bacon cheddar bread- eaten spaced out, not in one sitting, mind you.
a chocolate chip cookie following the Bouchon Bakery cookbook
A slice of Filippi's cheese pizza

The End

Back on program tomorrow!


3 4 U & ME

I know I have been doing all kinds of different weight loss programs. And they have all been successful. But changing things up a bit have always been helpful.

I just completed my newest program: 3 4 U & ME

My friend and I decided to write a program specific to our needs.
We did the challenge together and had success!
There was a point system as in previous programs but the rewards were different.
This is how it broke down:

If I got more points for the week, she did a service for me and vice versa.
If we tied, we got to do something fun together (bowling, golfing, hike etc.)
At the end of three week, we weighed in and winner gets to choose a restaurant to have an end of program dinner.

I have absolutely loved this set up!
If anyone would like to do this with a friend in their town, just let me know- I can send you the charts. Also, there is a way to set up the system so you can do it with more than two people. Unlike the previous times I've done a program, this one has to be with someone you can meet with on a weekly basis. I loved it.


good movies abound!

It is rare that we see two movies that are back to back good. But, when that happens, my faith in humanity is restored. I have to admit that I am pretty tired of another remake of the same story. How many Superman/Spiderman/Romeo & Juliet can you have? What about the sequels/prequels/trilogies?!
I like a good movie and of course, when there is a book trilogy, a movie trilogy is necessary. However, I really feel like Hollywood is getting lazy in the fresh idea department.

Until this week...

We saw two stellar movies. The first was:
LOVED it!!! At first, I was a little wary because of the terrible dye job on the main character. And I could barely hear the movie because there were a ton of little kids in the theater. But the subtitles made it unnecessary to really hear much anyway. The movie is originally in Spanish. I have never been afraid of subtitles for a couple of reasons: my favorite movie is best in its subtitled glory and I am used to subtitles because of my addiction to Korean dramas.
This particular film actually had a little of the same feeling of "Life is Beautiful" the aforementioned subtitled film that I prefer in the original Italian. The story is different but has such similar elements: tragedy, humor and love. I highly recommend this movie for this reason alone- Jimmy cried.

Second great movie experience:
Loved it so much that I may have seen it twice... in two days.
It did help that the screening was at y favorite little downtown theater. You know, the one with couches and a velvet curtain and small town feel. This movie is entirely silly and utterly fabulous. The first time watching, it was with Jimmy. Although he laughed plenty, I knew experiencing this movie with girls would be a whole different experience.
So, the following day I went with Ashley and Diana.
And we laughed and laughed and shared a pint of Ben and Jerry's.
THAT is why I went with chicks.


Not just another Monday...

Jimmy and I had a tough day.
He ended up taking the day off because we knew that emotions would be running high.
The little girl we had wanted to adopt (but it wasn't right for her or our family) went to her forever home yesterday. I know she is in the right place. I know that this is part of her plan specifically written just for her in heaven- but it was still difficult for us to accept.

So rather than try and treat today as just another Monday, we took the day to hike and go to the movies and spend time together ignoring the outside world.
It was good day charged with sorrow and joy and understanding.

I have a firm faith that everything will work out. We will be okay. And sweet, darling, spunky Little Miss will be just fine. More than fine. We will find our feet and move on in this journey hand picked for us.


Happy (Real) Anniversary, Jimmy!

Yesterday, we celebrated with a day full of fun.
Today we celebrated with a nap.
Nothing compares to a Sunday nap.

I did actually attend a mission farewell for a young woman that I taught in seminary, was one of my YCLs at girls' camp and worked for me as a server for many a catering event.  She did an amazing job! What I really appreciated so much about her talk was this: Catherine had planned a whole talk but was prompted by the spirit to give a talk that was entirely different talk. Already, she knows what missionary work is all about: acting on promptings of the spirit. Because her talk was that way, of course I cried through the whole thing. And upon going up to congratulate her after the fact, I ugly cried on her...

I am so proud of the young woman that Catherine has grown into. Her preparation for serving the Lord showed today. It makes me so happy to see all these young women that I have prayed over and invested in at one point or another become such amazing people. They have learned valuable lessons and I have gotten to watch it unfold. I love to see that fire ignite.


Celebrating our 12th Anniversary!

We had a fabulous time today celebrating our anniversary today. Kate spent the day with Nana so we could pack the day with some fun events. Although, most of those events did not some to pass because of the freak rainstorm that happened for the majority of the day...
We didn't really get deterred, however. Instead of going on a 12 mile hike, as planned- we ate a Squeeze Inn. Trade burning 1,400 calories to eating them in one sitting. A fair trade, no?
I gave Jimmy a kind of joke gift that has been hiding in the closet for months. Jimmy and I have a little production we perform quite often in the car. That production is a duet in which we sing the main song from the movie Dirty Dancing. We have performed this much to the embarrassment of our daughter and pretty much anyone else who has had the misfortune to be our audience. Yet, we still do it. And so, what is more apropos than the Dirty Dancing board game? So here is a picture of Jimmy smiling for the camera looking absolutely thrilled to be receiving such a gift.
 And here is Jimmy's real reaction when he thought I had put the camera away:


Because Jimmy appreciated the gift so much, he turned around and bought me new running shoes for my gift. Another fair trade...

We enjoyed the movie Instructions not included and then followed with dinner at Ad hoc! I have been wanting to go to Ad hoc for years... I am such a stalker like freak about anything Thomas Keller. In fact, I am friends with the team that designed all of TK's cookbooks and restaurant packaging and such. They just recently gave me a copy of TK's publication Finesse. I squealed above an octave I did not know was possible.

All in all it was a fabulous day. We did do a ton of fun things. But I have to admit that I would have fun regardless what we did- I just love hanging out with Jimmy. I didn't care what I did as long as it was with him. I suppose that's why it's been 12 years...


Frivolous to others...

Important to me.*
I have been an avid fan of those double walled tumblers with hard straw. Like this beauty:
Can I tell you a story about my love affairs with these things?! It all started with a free gift from a client. I did a catering job and they gave me tumbler with Christmas candy stuffed inside. I got hooked. I can drink double water out of these cups. It seriously helps with my H2O consumption. But then, that cup broke after months of worthy service. I was pretty upset. Not for long, though. A friend had heard my predicament and gave me a similar cup from her insurance company to replace my loss... the feature that lead me on my downward spiral? It was 20 oz.!!! The other was only 16 oz. And so my addiction was cemented. When I broke that cup the DAY AFTER I RECEIVED IT, I was pretty bummed. But, alas, I did not break it beyond productivity. Yes, the lid was so sharp on the broken edge that I cut myself once or twice- but I was drinking 20 oz. of water at a time, people!!!

When the 20 ouncer broke, I was already anticipating my next fix. Every supermarket frequented would result in my trolling for another cup. It was on a fateful day in the Fall of that year that I finally found another cup to feed my addiction in the strangest of places- Home Goods. Now I have yet another reason to love that place. Well folks, I could not get a handle on my excitement- and neither could the kids at the daycare. While at work the following day, one of the kids dropped my water cup on the ground and it didn't break! BUT the straw snapped in half. Good news, I did not throw away my last cup because of my attachment. So, I used the old straw with the new cup. Ahhhh... sweet relief .And so, the Home Goods cup and I had a steady run. Until, My sister-in-law Ashley graced me with the gift of a 22 oz. water cup from Jamba Juice. TWENTY TWO OUNCES. And so the need for a double walled tumbler had met it's ultimate match. This cup in all its massive water holding ability had one flaw- no straw. What kind of place sells a cup with out a straw?! Jamba Juice.
If you'll remember, I still have the trusty straw from the insurance cup (you know, the one before Home Goods?). What proved to be a problem is that the straw from the insurance agency was for a 20 oz. cup. My new cup was- say it with me- TWENTY TWO OUNCES! and the old straw was too short. Gah!

But, I looked like an idiot and used it anyway... it was actually pretty humorous. The Home Good cup got dropped over time and I had to discard it. So, let's do a quick recap: 16 oz. cup-shattered, 20 oz. insurance cup- broken lid, 20 oz. Home Goods- snapped straw and eventually broken, 22 oz. Jamba Juice cup- still going strong!!! Until last week. Last week will go down as a day of infamy in the House of Graham. Jimmy knocked my cup off the counter. The cup and straw were not intact. The look on poor Jimmy's face... Let me give you an idea of how he felt- you, dear readers have now read multiple paragraphs about doubled walled tumblers. Jimmy has LIVED it. His face was horrified.

The very day, I went to Jamba Juice- they no longer sell those cups!
Then Jimmy went on Amazon and found a cup- then they cancelled the shipment!
We went to Target- none in the same shape!

Then, on a fateful girls' getaway, my dear friend Kristina came out of Starbucks with a 24 oz. double walled tumbler. I cannot even wrap my brain around this, people! Twen-ty FOUR ounces?! TWENTY four ounces. TWENTY FOUR FREAKING OUNCES!!!!

And now, I am happy. I am complete. And Starbucks will no longer sell those cups next month. Would it be weird if I bought some for my food storage?

*It's pretty sad that I remember all of these cups, isn't it? I think I need help.


My little entrepreneur

As most everyone knows, Kate has been baking and selling bread. It has become our lives. If that sounds like complaining, please understand that it is not. It was complaining a few weeks ago. It was complaining before we did this:
Jimmy and I had a business meeting with our daughter. We introduced to her this records keeping binder. Included in this binder is a schedule for deliveries and a mock check registry. Her responsibility each day is to 'reconcile her bank statement', organize the order schedule and pretty much be the CEO to Kate's Bread Co. This handy binder has been a lifesaver to the mother of the CEO. I have to say, this experience is invaluable in it's scope of teaching possibilities.
  • Kate is working for the $- work ethic, check!
  • Kate is learning to bake bread- cooking (and cleaning- the flour gets everywhere!) skills, check!
  • Kate is waking up at 5:00 am every morning- practicing seminary hours, check!
  • Kate is balancing her income- money management skills, check!
  • Kate and I are doing this together- mother daughter time, check!
  • Kate now pays more money to tithing than she's ever possessed- experiencing the sacrifice and testimony of tithing, check!
There are a multitude of reasons that I am fully behind this girl in her quest to raise money. She is doing something she loves in order to provide for something she is  passionate about. I am so proud of that little girl.
When people comment after a delivery, "Stephanie, that bread you made was so delicious!" I get to tell them that I didn't make it. I do help , the kid's not flying blind- but she does all the actual work. I direct, but Kate executes.
Thanks to all who have supported my daughter in her endeavor. I love that the community has really encouraged this girl to strive for success the right way.
So many of Kate's classmates are involved in playing a virtual game in which the goal is to get more fame. The game is played in which the player purchases more clothes, wears more makeup and goes to more parties in this computer world. Then the girls use real (parents') money to purchase VIP passes to virtual parties and get more points. It's actually quite ridiculous. But more than half of the class' girl population is on this site! How grateful I am for all the lovely people who have stood behind me and Jimmy in trying to raise our daughter with valuable life skills.

We have planned bread flavors for the rest of the year. I know it looks like I planned these alone, but I did not. Kate and I hashed out each month together. In fact, the flavor I am looking most forward to (lavender bread) was Kate's idea. I beefed it up with the grey sea salt and thyme. Here's a sneak peek, folks:

January- 3 seed (sunflower, poppy, sesame) with maple brown sugar butter
February- Caramelized onion and smoked gouda with smoked sweet paprika butter
March- Cinnamon raisin swirl with sweet cream cheese spread
April- Sundried tomato, mozzarella and parmesan with basil butter
May- Lavender and thyme with vanilla honey butter and grey sea salt
June- JalapeƱo and sharp cheddar with cilantro lime butter
July- Apricot and almond with undetermined butter (thinking sea slated caramel butter?)
August- Dill and Havarti with lemon garlic butter
September- Cranberry walnut with orange honey butter
October- Bacon and cheddar with chive butter
November- Apple and pecan with warm cinnamon spice butter
Decemeber- Rosemary and asiago with garlic and herb butter


Alma 29

I have been thoroughly enjoying reading my way through the Book of Mormon. I do it differently every time. This time around, I have a journal where I write impressions about the chapter I've read. It's quite refreshing. Sometimes I write down verses word for word, but mostly just write down feelings and what I've learned. Today's chapter was a joy to read. Alma 29 is all about Alma's desire to share the gospel- he loves God and the Savior so much that his soul aches to share what he knows. Keep in mind, this was the Alma that was quite rebellious and changed his tune once being struck as if dead. He experienced pain and torment brought on by realization of his sins. Alma experienced the atonement first hand. Alma was literally saved. I love how strong Alma's desire is to share the gospel in chapter 29. He loves it the way I love it. I LOVE it.  I feel akin to his joy. The joy is so full- why shouldn't I want to share?!

On June 23, there was a missionary meeting broadcast from Salt Lake. During and after that meeting, I felt like a blanket of desire covered me. I have an unquenchable desire to teach the gospel to those floundering. When that meeting took place, it was almost like a switch went off in my soul. Almost like a trigger was pulled that had been itching to get some action since the dawn of my existence. The feelings I have for missionary work have finally fulfilled many things found in my patriarchal blessing... and I am stoked! Fortunately for me, my family got the same fire under their bums and we've been able to work as a team. I will say that the work is gradual, but consistent. I know I am far from perfect, but I finally feel like I am in a place spiritually to share the gospel. I know next to nothing about the doctrine because the doctrine is so vast. But I know enough about whisperings of the spirit and the peace that comes from striving to follow God's commandments. Now it's time to work!

Sooo, uh- any of you readers out there wanna know more?



We have been enforcing the "no screen time until Kate goes to bed" rule. We don't check email, facebook, instagram, pinterest, twitter etc. at all. And the tv stays off. What happens when we have no screen time is amazing- Kate and I spend lots of fun playing games and doing homework and dancing and reading... and Jimmy usually falls asleep on the couch. Even if Jimmy has just woken up for the day, he could take three naps and still sleep all night! That boy just loves his sleep. Well, tonight, Ashley came over to hang out. While we were all talking, Jimmy fell asleep mid sentence!We knew it was time for action!

And so, Kate, Ashley and I continued talking all the while gradually turning off the lights in the house. When every light was off, we snuck into various spots and hid. I was patiently crouched in the bathroom just waiting to jump out at the poor man. I waited. And waited. And waited. It seems that Jimmy was content to be snoozing away on the comfy couch. Meanwhile Kate is being quite possibly the loudest ninja of them all. It's a wonder Jimmy didn't wake up from her 'silence'. So, our next plan of attack was to throw cotton balls until Jimmy woke up. Ashley and I really only got one or two good shots in when Kate came stumbling out of her room like a bull in a china shop. The dead could not sleep through her stealth. Jimmy popped awake in the pitch dark and mumbles, "Whaaat?! What's going on?.... Mom?!....... Mom?"
Of course Ashley and I giggle uncontrollably while Kate rushes to her father's aid. Jimmy is okay, but Ashley and I have some ammunition just itching to get out for the next attack.


I still got it!

Kate and I went to deliver a loaf of bread at a dental office today. When I got home, I had this message from the lady we delivered it to:

I have to tell you what happened today...
When you left the office the man sitting there with his wife said, "She's sure cute."
I said,"yes she is and she is a really good kid too. Doesn't give her parents any trouble."
To which he replied," oh yeah, the kid was cute but I meant the lady." His wife smacked his arm.

I think it's because I was wearing these:

*a new purchase from this weekend


Jake is really good at Ticket to Ride

We had our friend Jake over for dinner tonight. Mostly because we really wanted to play Ticket to Ride with him. This game is fabulous.
Kate got it for her birthday and she is smitten by this game. Kind of the way I was when I first got Settlers of Catan. Which means we play a lot. A lot.
Jimmy is pretty done. But not us! We added Jake into the mix to make it more interesting. Let me tell you, it was more interesting alright! Little Miss Kate was buzzing around the table talking and singing and laughing... to the point that it was distracting. I think that was her strategy. Fortunately for the rest of us, it did it's job distracting only Kate.
After a night full of fun, I am tired and grateful that we have been blessed with such amazing friends.

p.s.- Utah family, we will be bringing this game to your neck of the woods when we come for Christmas! You will love it! 


More Ice Cream

It seems like the vice all the gals shared was ice cream. And so, even though we ate super healthy for most of the trip and exercised more than normal, we still found room in our bellies for ice cream every night. Not just any ice cream, though. If we are to go off the diet, we are to only eat at iconic ice cream places!
We started the ice cream binging with the Rutherford Grill ice cream oreo sandwich
Then, onto Ghirardelli Square salted caramel sundae
Next, Penny Ice Creamery sundae AND kiddie cone
and Finally, FENTON'S!
Where I got a HUGE sundae... because that's all they ever make.
Yeah, we did go a tad bit overboard. Poor Kristina got totally sick. My theory is this: she is the smallest of all of us, it was only a matter of time before we all were taken over by an ice cream overdose- she just had less room to put it. I think had we gone to one more place, I might have gotten sick too. This story has a happy ending, though! I ended up with the perfect little black dress, two pairs of awesome shoes, a huge dose of new jewelry to my collection and a few treats for my family. However, I have a feeling that this trip will be known as the trip in which we ate lots and lots and lots of ice cream.


Off Schedule

Our second day of relaxing was just that- relaxing. we didn't end up eating breakfast until 1:00 pm. But, we did exercise for 30 minutes before that and ninety minutes afterwards! Rachel is a personal trainer and kicked our butts... which is what I asked for. But, really, I should have just asked for a good work out. Because it turns out when you ask Rachel to train you and 'kick our butts', turns out she totally does. I am soooo sore.

When "breakfast" was done around two in the afternoon and exercise was completed after that, the girls and I popped down to the beach at 5:00pm.

After hanging at the beach for some time, we got in some serious shopping and a visit to here:

As always, it was wonderful! And as always, I chased a sundae with a kiddie cone.
After the time out and about, we got back to the beach house at 10:30 and decided to have dinner. I know it was late, but we didn't eat breakfast until 1:00 pm! It was really nice to laze around today and just go with the flow. A nice thing to do when we all run such hectic lives at home.


Eating our way through

A good way to start out a girls' getaway would be to eat at Rutherford Grill... especially since I missed out last week.
That's the ribeye I got!!!
And that's the dessert I shared with Rachel... yum!
But let's continue, shall we?!
As if Rutherford Grill wasn't enough to set my taste buds off,
we had to get to Fifth Floor to set them a blaze!
This place is amazing!!!
Here are some pictures to give you an idea of what we were in for!

It was PHENOMENAL!!! So worth the price... except for the part where Carla had duck tongue.
It looked just like it sounds. Like a duck.tongue.
To make sure we weren't entirely deprived,
the girls and I went over to Ghirardelli Square to eat our weight in hot fudge.

I would like to report that we felt like this:


What it means to be organized

If one is organized, they would make sure to read all the information on the RS handout before bringing the wrong food assignment to a potluck.

If one is organized, they would bring just enough visual aids that pertain to their class and not a pile of stuff that didn't pertain to the class.

If one is organized, they would make sure and have the power point down pat before showing it to a group of educated women.

If one is organized, that power point presentation would not have a lick of clip art pictures... and all the 'before and after' photos would be their own.

If one is organized, they would not go off about two bottles of salad dressing that were misplaced a year ago. (by their husband, of course)

If one is organized, they would have a more witty, moving and entertaining class.

I feel like my class went the way seminary did... like I was driving away from the church and could see the mushroom cloud in the rear view mirror where my lesson had been. Maybe it was a bad idea to start the class out with the way the seminary had the chairs- entirely unorganized. It was an object lesson that went terribly wrong! Well, even though I felt the class went sour, I got a craft bin cleaned out while I was there. That was a good object lesson, I suppose...


Kate, the next (insert famous horseback rider name here)!

I couldn't think of a one...

Kate had her first riding lesson today! She did fairly well. A little bit nervous, but pretty well overall.

Little girl hopped on Frank, the docile pony. So docile, that he repeatedly fell asleep during the lesson. This actually turned out well as Kate was just learning how to steer a horse around the arena.

We didn't get too many pictures because I looked like a weirdo following Kate around the equestrian center. I really tried to rein in (hahaha- like that pun?!) my inner 'toddlers and tiaras' side. We can't wait to go next week!


Never Fails...

Every time we get a little bit of moolah to sock away in savings, something to do with the car needs attention. EVERY TIME.

On Friday, I dropped Kate off at school and went to fill up on gas. When I stepped out of the car, I noticed the tire was dangerously low on air. When it was checked at the air pump, the psi read very low. It being almost time to go to work, I thought I would just try to stop by at the tire place to see if it was a slow leak. We are fortunate in that the local tire place will repair a slow leak free of charge. When the tire store checked my tires, they reported that there was no slow leak- yay! But, I needed four new tires- boo!

So, I left my car at the tire shop and walked the two miles to work. Luckily, I got there on time and got in some good exercise, seeing as I walked the two miles in about 22 minutes. Pretty good, huh?

When I called Jimmy to update him on the events of the morning, he just groaned and stated that he had also paid registration that day. Meaning... that pretty chunk of change went to cars. Again.


Baby salad

Part of my success in weight loss had been due to eating  at least three cups of  raw veggies a day. Which can be hard sometimes... But I have found a method that helps me for the week. I call it 'baby salad' because the veggies are chopped so tiny. I get a huge container (16 cups) and fill it with chopped: carrots, celery, onions, bell pepper, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, and sometimes mushrooms. Once the veggies are tossed together, I scoop out three cups and put light dressing salt and pepper on top and enjoy! I have also spread a whole wheat tortilla with hummus and filled it with the mix. 


Trail Ride in Point Reyes

For Kate's birthday party, I gave her the option of having a bunch of friends over for a traditional party or inviting one friend on a trail ride. Of course the horse crazy girl chose the trail ride and I could not have been more excited!
Kate chose a friend from school- it was a difficult decision, but she was happy with her choice.
Ummm... guys, after today's experience- I have to buy a horse.

Our family left bright and early to head to the coast for our ride. Fortunately, it was cool there when Napa was 100 degrees. Yikes! The stable was so efficient, they had us on our horses within 5 minutes of our arrival. There really was no time for anyone to be nervous because there was no standing around. I got to ride Paulie. He was a stubborn guy, but he got used to me. In fact, we got to trot most of the way and it was fabulous! The first time our guide had the horses trot, I was not prepared for how fast they would go. In fact, I was so surprised, that I could not get control of my body due to fits of hysterical laughter. I was flopping around on poor Paulie and literally getting spanked! Fortunately, I got the hand of trotting and became comfortable with the stand-up, sit-down motion that is required for a smooth ride. I was laughing and smiling the whole time!

Kate, on the other hand, was terrified when the horses would trot. I felt bad for her. But I am so glad she got a taste of what it would be like on a horse. She is starting lesson on Tuesday, after all!
When we got into the car right after our ride, I swear- someone put another kid in Kate's place. Because rather than being timid or nervous like she was on the trail, that girl raved about how great it was!

Kate's friend had a blast. She giggled like I did when the horses went fast. In fact, she had a wonderful time until the lead horse tried to kick her horse. Then both girls freaked out. I only think it was funny because my horse was finally starting to listen to me.

Jimmy hung out in the back on Delilah. They were cool. Jimmy was able to take tons of pictures. Most of which I refuse to share on this here blog because my butt looks like it's oozing out over the side of the saddle. Now that I have written that sentence, I wonder if the mental picture is worse... Even so, you are not seeing the pictures...

On the way home, we stopped for pizza and then frozen yogurt. That yogurt shop was a bust. Only because one of the kids (who is not my child) filled their yogurt cup to the top and put so many toppings on that the concoction cost a whopping $8. Jimmy grumbled under his breath, "She's only going to eat five bites..." my husband, the psychic. I cannot tell you the physical pain I felt watching that girl throw $7.95 worth of yogurt in the trash.

Disregarding the yogurt incident, I consider this day wonderful and all other adjectives that might explain perfection.


Well, at least it wasn't our money

Jimmy and I had a work lunch to go to today. There were reservations made at this place!:
Which had me feeling:
And then the boss said the wait was too long:
So we went here instead:
Looking at their menu I felt:
Then, while eating:
But it's okay... we got to try a new restaurant, right?
Unfortunately, I am still craving:


Being Late

I hate being late. So very much.
Before we had the boys, I was never late.
While we had the boys, I was always on time.
Now that it's just Kate again- I cannot pull it together.
I am not the fifteen minutes early I've always been.
I am trying to figure out how this phenomenon has occurred, but I cannot, for the life of me pinpoint a root of the problem.
Hoping that a solution will rear it's head in the future... sooner rather than later would be nice :) 


Super Mom

On Labor day weekend, my mom came to visit and we had a very full few days.
Of course, the time together started with catering a wedding. And then my mom watching Kate while Jimmy and I responded to the receiving center. Then shopping, eating out and playing tourist around town.

But can I tell you something? The best part of the weekend was when I came home exhausted from our experience at the receiving center and had seen that my mom did all our laundry, cleaned the kitchen, vacuumed, made my hastily left bed and washed every single dish used for the wedding. When I say every single dish, that refers to a closet FULL of dishes. Serving platters, 150 plates, silverware, cooking utensils. I was so overwhelmed by the service. I am so glad my mom has taught me about service. She has always been a beacon of service- she works so hard! I think she's the reason why I have been so involved in ward and stake activities where I get to dig in and work hard. Thanks mom for everything you do. Thanks for washing my clothes and folding my underpants the way I like them...


I officially have a preteen!

Happy 10th Birthday Kate!!!

Little Miss Kate is not so little anymore. But that doesn't prevent her from trying to sit on our laps still... We call her our great dane that thinks she's a puppy. It's hard for me to believe that I've only known this person for ten year. We laugh a lot. And we dance in the kitchen all the time. And she still tells me everything. I am loving her age and hoping that the catty-ness fairy that swoops over most girls her age will pass this one by. To this point, we have been mercilessly saved from that! I am in awe of Kate's testimony and strength and desire to do good. She strives for perfect obedience in all things and I marvel at her growth because of her close proximity to her Savior. I have to say, if we are only to have one kid, we hit the jack pot.
This one loves:
*books (reading and writing them)
*all the touristy things in Napa & surrounding area
*Harry Potter
*going barefoot
*climbing trees
*singing (entirely off tune. And loudly, I might add. All day, everyday.)
*pinterest potatoes

We have a had a great run so far. Here's to hoping for another fantastic ten years!


Throw me a bone!

After a long week and very loooong weekend, I finally got the chance to take a Sunday nap in between washing the wedding dishes.
In the middle of our nap, Kate comes bursting in saying, "some one's on the phone for you!"
Jimmy sleepily responded, "Who  is it?"
"It's someone who wants to sell you an iPhone" she responded
In a sleepy stupor Jimmy said, "Leave us alone- I don't want one."

So, Kate proceeded to end the phone call. Then we heard her murmur 'Aldea' somewhere in her 9 year-old babbling about what just happened. That's when Jimmy and I both shot out of bed. You see, 'Aldea' is the name of the organization responsible for the receiving center. Which in turn means that we had an activation. Someone was trying to contact us to go down and hang out at the safe house with children just placed in foster care. When on call, we have a half an hour to respond to an activation and it takes nearly that amount of time to get down to the location. As you can tell, having our daughter hang up on the social worker saying, and I quote, "we don't need an iPhone right now, bye!" had put us in a pickle. But Jimmy quickly resolved the situation by calling back immediately. I had already made the decision that I would be the one to go down and hang out since Jimmy had done the last call (only two days prior!). As he was talking to find out info, I was busily packing a bag. I ran out the door with what I needed and flew down to the center as to fulfill our half hour response time responsibility.

A few hours into my shift, it was necessary for me to call Jimmy and have him do the shift with me because of recent occurrences and new knowledge of the kids' background. The twenty five minutes for Jimmy to get there were very long for me...

We were warned among other things that one of the children wakes up at 5:00am. After finally going to bed at 1:30 am, we were sure that the previous statement would not be true for the child. Ha! This is my story, right?! Of course the kid wakes up at 5. Of course the kids tells knock-knock jokes at the crack of dawn. Of course the child is rifling through the cupboards trying to find something to eat while.it.is.still.dark.outside. Because, it would not be my life if things ran smoothly, you know.

I did have a good morning once the street lamps turned off, though. I organized. I organized a lot. The books, toys, fridge, freezer, kitchen cabinets, the FURNITURE. I was bored. When all my Martha Stewarting was out of the way, I was able to pop out and hang with my mom and Kate. Because it was now Labor Day. Jimmy was with the children who turned into zombies when the TV was on, so Jimmy was good. I didn't feel too guilty...

In the end, the social worker ended up finding placements for the children and Jimmy could come home and take a nap. Let's hope that nap doesn't lead to another phone call...


After the night I had last night

I cannot believe I wore heels to church today. And used those heels to propel me up to the pulpit to bear my testimony... because I get up there so often, people might assume that I like to go up there. Not true. I actually pray every fast Sunday to not have a prompting to get up and share. I feel like because I get up so often, people get sick of hearing me. And gosh, I hate crying in front a room full of people. But, each time I prompted to get up, I don't want to see what happens if I refuse to heed it. I want Heavenly Father to know that I am always willing to do what He asks of me. I want Him to trust me with what He's given me. I want Him to be pleased with my small offering I have to give. If heeding a prompting to get up and bear my testimony thanks Him in some way for the times I've been healed- whether body, mind or spirit- blessed, comforted, loved, protected, helped, humored and all else He has ever done for me; then I'll do it.