Friday, June 26, 2009

seeing the opposite of "green" (what's that? red???)

(rare political vent on our family blog. if it bores you, feel free to skip. if the governing rule of this country concerns you, feel free to chime in about it here or write something on your own blog. get the word out, copy it and send it to your congressman, do whatever it takes, but make sure you keep the power with the people and not the management.)

Michael & I were fairly disheartened to see the most recent energy bill pass in Congress today. (You can read about it HERE or do a Google search for "energy bill" and I'm sure you'll find plenty of other news coverage). Of course the reps. from our Republican-dominated state voted against the bill (Michael did his civic duty today and called them to make sure they knew where he stood) but as I read some of the news coverage about the passing of this bill I couldn't help but shake my head in wonder at how out-of-touch most of the politicians in this country are. They are swayed by powerful contributors, they are swayed by powerful leaders (from other members of congress to the President himself), they are swayed by news reports, they are even swayed by whatever recent scientific trend has reared its ugly head. They get their cushy payrolls and their expanding expense accounts, living the high life (as long as they keep receipts that they can write off as "part of the job") but they don't know anything about who they work for. The people. You know, the citizens of this country. Politicians are voted for by people who expect them to REPRESENT them and their interests. If you live in a farm state, you expect your representatives to vote for bills and push ideas that support your farm or agriculture business. If you live in lower-income areas you expect your representatives to pass literacy initiatives and keep job production on the agenda.

The main issue behind this bill at first glance appears to be carbon emissions. And really, in the midst of the tanking economy, the failing joke of a "stimulus" package, the rapid job loss and the declining health care affordability, what average-joe American gives a hoot about carbon emissions??? But really, reading between the lines, that's not the point of this bill at all. The world in general has developed an ominously unhealthy opinion of the United States in the last decade. People blame it on George Bush, but whatever the reason I have found myself in recent years, when visiting other countries, almost cringing at the prospect of answering the question "Where are you from?" (although, sometimes for safety reasons, it's best just to say Canada. Thanks for being there for me, Canada.) What I do notice is that some of the points made in the news reports show how proud the supporters are that the US will now be a world leader on climate change. It looks like the Obama administration is using this energy bill as the new "face" of America for the world to see and ultimately respect once again. Will it work? It hardly seems likely. Probably for the more environment-conscience European countries, but for major exporters like, oh, I don't know, say CHINA? They couldn't possibly care less about the environment. They care about their bottom line. And for the bill to include language saying we won't import from countries (like China) if they aren't compliant to our energy bill??? What a joke. Check the labels on EVERYTHING in your house. If at least 70% of them don't say "Made in China" (or Vietnam or Bangladesh or some other Asian country with a government that only cares about its high rollers and not the real people) I'll eat my own head. I think if this administration is hoping for a makeover, they've only gambled on the jobs and the income of the average American against putting Obama and the US back in the limelight. And I'm afraid they've made a losing bet.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

fathers & stuff

I had fun with John during church today. A couple of times he put his head on my lap for a few minutes and actually listened to the speakers but he would only recognize phrases here and there, not the entire message. But it was fun to see his eyes light up when he recognized something and he had to repeat it. So there was my little parrot in my lap, excitedly squawking out words like "missionary!" and "temple!" and "Nephi!" At least it got him to pay attention for a few minutes.

I had a thought on my way home from church. I realized what a great tool prayer is to teach my kids about the nature of God. Even from the age of 2 or 3 there's no need to attempt vague, indefinable explanations about a supreme being and where He is or what He's like because they develop their own ideas and images as they talk to Him several times a day! Utilizing the principles we use in prayers I can teach my children about God, Jesus, our relationship to deity, the creation of the world, an endless supply of teaching points to reference based on the simple conversations we have every day with a Heavenly Father. Today I feel thankful for prayer.

Another thing I'm thankful for, that should go without saying, is fathers. My own father has been pivotal in my own development and I feel utterly incapable of expressing my gratitude for having been born to my goodly parents. That is a fact I have been aware of and grateful for since before high school and my appreciation for them has only grown in the intervening years.
And I would be completely remiss if I didn't express my love and appreciation for the father of my own children. I can't even begin to count how much he does. I can hardly list the number of chores he assumes on a regular basis in addition to the rigors of working to provide for our family. Most of what he does would stress me out beyond capacity but he does it without complaint and still makes it look easy. I fall in love him more every day when I see how much our kids adore him and how much they love spending time with him. You are the best thing in my life, sweetheart. Happy Father's Day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I can't remember if I've linked to this site before, but it is absolutely one of my very favorite things on the planet.

A couple of warnings:
1) Do NOT click on the link below if you are hungry. It's like grocery shopping right before a meal. Bad idea.
2) You have never even imagined how many websites there are devoted only to food. It might blow your mind a little bit.
3) Your calendar may become completely booked for the next 6 solid weeks if you have ever felt the slightest urge to make a recipe you've seen online.
4) The pictures only make it worse.

That being're welcome.


Monday, June 15, 2009

secret time

I have a few secrets I need to get off my chest.

There are couple of things...

...that I love more than anything else on the planet.

And I can't believe that someday I will look like this...

at my own kid's graduation.

Congrats Mac (and also Sean & Min)...hope the next 18 years go a little slower...

(Secret #2: it was nearly 8 pm today when i realized i'd been wearing socks from 2 different pairs all day. i like to ensure that i am always at the cutting edge of fashion. poor emily, she doesn't stand a chance.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

of interest

Interesting thing #1: this is one of the coolest photo groups I have ever seen. I am mesmerized with watching the slide show and would love to do something similar with some old photos of my grandparents around St. George.

Interesting #2: My little 3 year old boy (like just turned 3 a few months ago) can eat an entire Costco hot dog by himself. Have you seen those dogs? Those suckers are freaking enormous. I'm going to start saving now for when he's a teenager. Heaven help us.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

may in review

Nothing better than running through the sprinklers.
Am I really going to post pics of my little boy in his underpants? Too late.

Going to see Thomas in Heber with G&G.

Chillin with my peeps.

Feeding sheep & goats at Thanksgiving Point. I'm so proud of him for not freaking out about this. Trying to get him to do this on previous occasions has proved...upsetting.

Going on a "hay ride" with buddies. Although there was no hay. And really all we could see were the new developments of townhomes going up around the farm. But we were on a wagon being pulled by a horse, so that's cool, right?

And it was a long day for everyone.

Of course no end-of-spring would be complete without a summer 'do! Here John is sporting his own handiwork with the clippers when daddy left him unsupervised for a few seconds.

So we buzzed it all off and now he looks like my adorable little cueball.

Friday, June 05, 2009

life lessons i learned in college

Whenever John & I go to the grocery store alone (like we did today...sick baby was at home with daddy sleeping for 5 HOURS. seriously.) he insists that I "run really fast" with him in the cart and we both go "wheeee!!!" and inevitably at some point I will jump up holding onto the handlebar and coast with my feet in the air for a few seconds. And every time I do that I am reminded of a story...

Once there was a college girl who worked at OfficeMax. Her boyfriend got her the job because she wanted some spending money and that way they could spend more time together. (aahhh, ain't that sweet?) But this job was INCREDIBLY slow and equally as boring. To pass the time she and her co-workers would occasionally have races down the aisles using the shopping carts. These carts were incredibly sturdy (office supplies can get really heavy) and so, even using a completely empty cart, these fun-loving college students could run full tilt, jump up on the handlebar, and lock their arms, leaving their legs to dangle and using only upper body strength while they coasted to a victorious finish line.

But let's say that one day this silly college girl was out playing with some friends who were visiting from out of town. Let's say that after putting their names on a ridiculously long list at Pizza Factory they decided to stroll over to Food4Less grocery store while they waited. And let's say that this certain girl had picked up a few items and put them in her cart. Now you must sympathize that as she walked down an aisle, instinct sort of took over and without thinking twice she began hurtling toward the end at full speed. And then just imagine that she was in familiar territory, back at good old OfficeMax and the wind was flying through her hair and she wanted to feel the exhilaration of coasting and so impulsively she pushed herself up, feet off the ground, wheels spinning excitedly beneath her. Silly girl. She didn't realize that the carts at the two stores weren't weighted the same. And that would explain why her friends saw her running in one moment and slammed down onto the floor in the next. And then came that crux each person experiences when witnessing the agony of defeat, deciding whether to be worried or to laugh. And, as often goes with good friends, of course the laughing completely won over. Especially as they watched the nearby patrons running wildly in the opposite direction pretending not to have seen anything.

Poor, silly college girl. Her knees were never the same after that day (they had taken the brunt of the fall) and, to this day, she can never run down a store aisle with a grocery cart, her little boy telling her to "run fast! run fast!" without experiencing some minor trauma and ghost pain in her knees. But she learned 2 important lessons that day. 1) the carts at Macy's are COMPLETELY INFERIOR to the carts at OfficeMax. 2) when choosing friends, make sure they will laugh WITH you when you fall down in the grocery store so you don't feel like a complete arse.

Mom & dad, aren't you glad you sent me to college? See how much I learned???

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

slanted reporting

Upon seeing the giant purple bruise above John's right eye (it looks like he's wearing 80's eyeliner...I keep expecting him to turn around and be wearing apple red lipstick with it) one might ask the question: What happened to John's eye?

Mom's Answer: I was pulling the sheets off the bed and he was playing and stuck his head right next to my body at the exact moment I was yanking a tucked-in sheet out from under the mattress and my elbow went right into the side of his face.

John's Answer: Mommy punched me in the eye.

Like my parent's always said to our teachers growing up: We won't believe half of what they say about you if you won't believe half of what they say about us.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

baking with cake mixes

I've hardly begun on my scathing health care article, but since it's already 2 pages in Word that's probably a bit much for a forum like Blogger, so I'll have to find somewhere else I can send it. Like the state legislature. Or the president. So instead you get this...

On Memorial Day I made THIS cake from (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that site) and I wanted to share it with you. I adjusted a little, but this is basically how to make it. (By the way, FIRST time I've ever made a layered cake where you slice and put a filling in the middle and I was extremely proud, thank you very much...but it's actually super easy so you have to try it.)

1 package yellow cake mix
8 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
2 (8 ounce) cans mandarin oranges, drained
1 (3.5 ounce) package instant coconut cream pudding mix
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

OK, first thing: Drain both the fruits and reserve juices of both, mixing them together! You can use the juice to make the cake! Just make cake according to box directions (baking in two 8 or 9 inch pans) but use half water/half fruit juice. (I also may have used applesauce instead of oil, but I honestly can't remember. Either one will work.) While it's baking, whip up the frosting. As follows:

Whip cream cheese and add confectioners sugar. Stir in drained fruits and slowly add a little of the juice. Blend in pudding mix really well, keep adding juice as necessary. Will be fairly runny. Fold in whipped topping. You can still add more juice, or if it's too runny stick it in the fridge for a few minutes while you finish with the cake. The pudding mix should make it thicken up.

Once the cakes are cooled, slice them in half horizontally (kind of hard for me but even though I am challenged by my cutting/slicing/scissor/knife abilities I still did it--and so can you!) and then start layering the cakes: cake, frosting, cake, frosting, cake, frosting, cake--then spread frosting over all. Whoa, it's a lot of frosting. Oh, yeah, save a few mandarin oranges to place decoratively on top.

But I gotta' tell you even a week later of being stored in the fridge it's still super moist and I munch on it every night. John & Michael aren't real big fans but the girls of the house love it! If you try it, let me know what you think!

Monday, June 01, 2009

witching hour

I was all set to sit down and write out my scathing comments on the condition of the health care industry in this country when I got a delightful, serendipitous call from my friend Miow Lin and spent a good part of the evening chatting with her about the good things in our life and now I'm way too uplifted to get upset about politics right now (ugh, except the fact that health care & politics are even in the same sentence is getting under my skin right now)...phew! So I'm not going to think about it because I want to end the night on this euphoric high that I caught talking with a woman in love. Ooops! Did I just say that?!! Sorry, Miow Lin, I outed you. You didn't even have to say it, it's written all over your face and in your voice. I'm looking forward to finding out if this certain someone is the man of her dreams. I've written about Miow Lin before on this blog, so I'm sorry fellas, it looks like you lost your chance. Which is a shame because she's definitely one of the coolest people on this planet. Oh, well, you snooze, you loose...

Anyway, on a MUCH lighter (and extremely polar opposite) note, Michael & I found what is possibly our new favorite show on television.

I'm not even sure which channel it plays on (possibly TLC??) but it's called "Operation: REPO" and it's basically this family/business that does vehicle reposessions and they re-enact actual reposession confrontations. Hoo boy! People are VERY attached to their stuff! And they throw a fit/scream/shove/shoot/threaten and throw stuff when someone tries to take that stuff away!!! And in true trash-TV fashion, most of the dialog is indecipherable because the ratio of bleeping versus actual words definitely favors the former.
OK, here's a quick lesson for those paying debt on any personal property, it's really important so pay close attention: IF YOU HAVEN'T FULLY PAID FOR SOMETHING IT'S NOT FULLY YOURS. UNTIL YOU FINISH PAYING IT OFF IT BELONGS TO A BANK OR CREDIT UNION OR LENDER. IF YOU MISS ONE OF THOSE PAYMENTS THEY CAN (and probably WILL) TAKE IT BACK. And they might possibly send a 400 lb. Puerto Rican like the dude on this show and you do NOT want to mess with him. Normally I despise ridiculous reality-type shows and I feel uncomfortable watching people in embarrassing situations, but somehow this feels different to me. If you're dumb enough to treat something as your own property that is not paid for (which makes it NOT your property) you deserve to look like an ass on national television when it is repo'ed. Especially if you're going to climb on top of your car or scream at your husband and chase it down the road. It's gone lady. Just give it up. Oh, and PAY THE BLASTED BILLS.

That is all. Thank you.

Oh, and happy June.