Monday, May 31, 2010

PB Cookie Recipe!!

I've had a few requests for this recipe, so HERE IT IS!!!

NOTE: The key to fabulous cookies is how you mix them, and how you bake them. Just in case you wanted to know.

Soft, Chewy, Peanut Butter Cookies

2 1/3 C. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 C. packed brown sugar
1 1/4 C. white sugar
1 C. butter
3 eggs
1 2/3 C. creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees (yeah, you read that right - 300).
2. Cream butter, brown and white sugars. Whip it on high for a couple minutes - you want this super creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well in between.
3. Add peanut butter, and mix well.
4. Add salt, baking soda, baking powder, and extracts.
5. Add flour, mix well.
6. Roll into balls, and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet (another awesome baking secret!!).
7. Bake at 300 degrees for 17 minutes.
8. When you pull them out, and while still very hot, push your favorite chocolate into the center (I used Dove).
9. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack (another baking secret!! The cookies actually continue to bake on the sheet, out of the oven, for those few minutes).

Let me know how they turn out!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lost in Curiosity

James is a curious little fella. may be time to rearrange the office and find a space for his crib that's NOT next to the brightly colored paper.

This is what he was doing instead of taking his nap this morning:

NOTE: He is now starting to take his pants off. Doesn't he look so proud of himself??

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'm Thinking...I'm Thinking...

After a quick trip to the restroom, I come into the kitchen to find my first-born doing this:

She was actually posed with her chin resting in her hand. Alas, I couldn't get the camera quick enough to capture her deep in thought. I'm sure she was thinking of very important issues such as what to do about the decline of the educational system in Arizona, how she's going to pay for college, what to have for lunch, and how she can chase the bird that's hopping across the lawn.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

NOT What I Intended To Wash

Everyone knows what a schedule person I am. I thrive on schedules. This way, my life is a little predictable with the mundane things such as grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning the house, etc.

Mondays and Tuesdays are my laundry days. I have it broken down into 2 days because this way, I feel like I can get it all done in a realistic time-frame.

The first thing I wash on Monday morning is all of the kids' clothes, blankets, etc. As I dump the clothes from the dirty-clothes-basket into the washing machine, I have to be very careful. I have to watch what goes in there because there could be toys, shoes, sippy cups, what have you. Random stuff is always stashed in the dirty-clothes-basket. Today was no exception.

I'm being very careful as I dump half of the basket into the washing machine (because it takes 2 loads to get it all done). Confident that nothing foreign is in the washing machine, I close the lid and let it do its thing. When it's all done, I move the clothes to the dryer. As I'm moving the clothes, I see little pieces of white all through the clothes. "Did a Kleenex escape into the laundry again?" I ask myself. We've all done it!

After the clothes are dried, I empty the clothes into the basket. And I found the white-flecks-of-lint culprit........and it wasn't Kleenex.

Yes, ladies and gentleman, I washed a NightTime Underwear, a.k.a. Pull-up. But this wasn't any ordinary Pull-up. It was a USED Pull-up. Sariah had taken it off that morning, and stashed it in her dirty clothes instead of throwing it away.

And the "Mother Of The Year" award goes to me!!! Why?!?! Because I didn't re-wash the clothes. Shameful, I know. I figured whatever pee was in the diaper was now gone, and washed away with all the other dirt, spit-up, and poop-stained yuckiness. Afterall, wasn't washing a used Pull-up like washing a pee-soaked blanket?

(Rest assured, I didn't use the Pull-up a second time. Just in case you were wondering.)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Legal Graffiti

Favorite toy of the season: Sidewalk chalk!

Thanks to Grandma Wilkes, Sariah had a fresh bucket of it and went to town. She, Parker, and Emerson first had to break it all in half:

NOTE: Yes, those are cans of compressed air in the background. They were having a blast spraying each other with it!

Next, color just about everything. From the screen door, to the cement slab, to the inside of the block wall!

Last, wait until it rains and start over! Or, in Tucson's case, spray the walls off with the hose for a clean slate!

Friday, May 21, 2010

One Step at a Time

James is figuring out how to climb things! YIKES! He knows that if he lifts his legs, and pushes, he can climb. It's really interesting watching these young babies figure out what their bodies can do. And, oh the pride when they figure it out! It's like they've conquered the world!

James' latest favorite is this rocking seat. He climbs up in it, stands in it, rocks it, sits back down, turns around, and has all kinds of fun in it. Sweet, silly boy!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dancing Queens

2 years ago, getting up at 7:00 am with Sariah was a piece of cake. I'd bounce out of bed most days, we'd fix breakfast, and get on with our morning.

Not so much anymore. It's difficult for me to wake up and be productive in the morning. In fact, Jared gets Sariah her breakfast and turns on PBS so I can sleep until 7:30 or so. Even then, it's still very difficult for me to open my eyes, go get James, and be alert for family prayer and scriptures.

It's been so hard that it actually has Jared a little concerned. Then it started to concern me somewhat because I was thinking back to the days when I could get up easily. It actually worried me so much that I went and had my thyroid levels checked just to be sure that it wasn't that! Having only half of a thyroid hasn't caught up with me yet, but you never know when it will. My levels were perfectly normal, even with half a thyroid!

But then the thought hit me - 4 days out of the week, I have 3 kids under the age of 3. They're on opposite nap schedules, so someone is always awake. I guess my point is I just have no down time like I used to, when it was only Sariah and I. Then we have mornings like this, where everyone is dancing, playing, awake, and having a BLAST! No wonder getting up in the mornings isn't quite as easy as it used to be!

NOTE: This is a weekly event. When I wash all the sheets on Thursdays, the girls jump their hearts out!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Lessons from building a tower

Last week while we were driving to the Gila Valley Temple open house, Jared, Sariah, and I rode with my parents. We got to talking about life, and how life gives us learning moments. In fact, life gives us many ordinary moments that we can learn something from. How many moments pass us by that we don't apply to gospel principles, or use to teach our children the gospel from? It's kind of like the scriptures - if you don't liken them unto you, what do you have to learn from?

I really thought about that, and made a promise to myself then and there that I would use more of life's moments to teach my children about the gospel.

This morning, Sariah was building a tower out of blocks. There are 11 blocks in all. She was trying to build the tower on the soft, plush carpet, and the blocks kept toppling over. So, she brought over a hard, flat, plastic surface to build her tower on.

Building a tower is easier when you have the right foundation. Living your life is easier when you have the right foundation.

She would get about 6 or 7 blocks high, and then they would shift and the blocks would topple over.

Sometimes, even with the right foundation, your blocks are going to fall if they shift. Sometimes, we have our foundation set, but life shifts our blocks and they fall anyway.

But Sariah, bound and determined not to give up, would pick up the blocks, set them straight, and keep going. No matter how many times our "blocks" fall, we can always pick them back up, set them straight, and keep going.

After quite a while, she finally had all of her blocks in one tall tower!

Then, willingly, she knocked over her own tower! We, too, knock over our own towers and know exactly what we're doing. We make choices to keep our towers strong, or willingly knock them over.

We actually took a minute to talk about creating our own foundation, and keeping our towers strong by reading our scriptures, saying our prayers, going to church, and helping other people. I only hope that I can be smart and use more of these moments to teach my children the gospel, and apply them to my own life as well. I learned a lot from watching her make that tower!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I love to feel the temple...

I love to feel the temple
I'm going there someday
To hop on all the stair wells
To listen and to play!

For the temple is a pretty place
Where we can feel the spirit
As a child of God, I know this truth
Jesus really lives in it.

This was the song that Sariah and I made up as we talked about the Gila Valley temple open house. As a family, we really enjoyed going to the temple open house. It is an amazing thing...being able to walk through the house of the Lord before it's dedicated. It is beautiful beyond words.

NOTE: The reason there's no pictures of James is because we actually left him at home with a babysitter. My sister also left her youngest at home, so James and Emerson got to play together. I feel guilty about leaving him at home, but he would have been cranky and miserable due to missing a nap and not getting to bed on time. The next open house we go to (because there's 2 more in Arizona!!) we will absolutely take him. No judgments, please. :)

Before we went in the temple, we were ushered into the church building adjacent to it. There, we waited for an escort and we were shown a video. In the video, Elder Holland made this statement:

"I can't imagine what heaven would be like without my wife and my children."

This really hit me because it's something we all feel, but don't know how to put words to. I'm grateful for temples, and know that we can be together as a family, if we work hard to keep our promises and covenants. I can't wait to go back once it's dedicated!

By the way - the celestial room in this temple is the most glorious I had ever seen.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Poop Cake

Parents normally use sticker charts to help a child change a behavior. But...when the behavior is changed, what happens to the sticker chart? For example, I know someone who has used a sticker chart to help her children sleep through the night. Once they were sleeping through the night, they started to expect the sticker, dollar, or other reward. In turn, it created a different habit that had to be broken.

Thus, I have never been a fan of sticker charts. Now, I'll use one if Sariah has medicine and we're using it to keep track of if she's gotten her medicine for the day. Or something similar that has an obvious end to it.

Back to the present. Sariah has been potty-trained for several months. She'll pee in the potty whenever she needs to go! She's never needed me to ask her, and I can count the accidents that she's had on one hand. She's been truly amazing in this regard.

Pooping, however, was a different story. When she had to poop, she would go into her room, get on her night-time underwear (pull-ups), do her business, and then I'd change her. Pooping scared her. But you know what? I'd had enough!

We started talking to her about when she turns 3, we were putting the night-time underwear away and she would be going poop in the potty. Then I thought about it - this was still almost 3 months away. Not going to do it, and neither was Sariah. She's smart - and I'd been letting her call the shots.

Thus, enter the poop cake. For 2 days, I told her that I would make her a poop cake. And when I did, she was going to be a TRUE big girl and go poop on the potty! I wasn't going to reward her with the cake, because then she would expect a reward every time she went poop. We'd kick off her poop adventure with a cake. On Monday, this was the cake that was presented to her:

NOTE: Although the name is poop cake, no poop was involved in making this cake. Just wanted to clear that up.

The deal was once she got a slice of poop cake, she was to go on the potty! Well, she refused to poop on the potty for 2 days. She begged for her night-time underwear, but I knew what would happen if she got to do that even once. It would all be for nothing!

Today, breakthrough. We talked about how the potty can be scary at first, but then it's not scary anymore. Something clicked, and she pooped! She exclaimed, "I saved the day all by myself!" I praised her for 3 hours about her success. We'll see what tomorrow brings, but now she knows she can do it!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Who Needs Toys? Seriously.

Why do we spend so much money on toys for babies?

Look at all these bath toys that James has at his disposal!

Funny thing is...all he wants is his blue cup, a washrag, and the drain. And he's a happy boy!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Octopus Love

Sariah loved this octopus when she was just crawling.

It has been passed on to James. But James...see, when he loves something, he opens his mouth WIDE and EATS IT. Maybe that's his way of giving kisses?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Couldn't Love Her More

Sariah is almost 3 years old. I remember what I was doing this time, 3 years ago. I was finishing up my school year and preparing my fall classes for a long-term substitute while I was on maternity leave. I was 7 months pregnant, and felt every bit of it. My ankles were elephant feet - and I'm not joking. I waddled due to severe sciatic pain. Yet, Jared and I had waited 2 long years for this face.

Today, Sariah is independent, strong, beautiful, smart, and as stubborn as ever. She knows what she wants, isn't going to let anyone get in her way of it, and is definitely not about to be left behind.

Couldn't love her more.