28 April 2007

I got new clothes!

Norstrom Rack is my new favorite store. I always hear of people who get amazing deals on clothes but that is never me. Usually I spend hours walking around these discount stores with nothing to show for it except a tired toddler and resolution never to go shopping again....until today!

I left the house about 10:15 with the intention of donating blood. I enjoy donating blood but due to many different issues I haven't been able to for a couple years. I heard that there was a Stake Blood Drive this morning and I finally qualify again so I headed out. About 10 minutes down the road I realized that they wouldn't take me. I've been sick for about a week and a half and if you have cold symptoms they don't want your blood.

I had planned on doing some shopping this afternoon while Rachel was sleeping, so instead of going home I headed to Norstrom Rack. Without a 2 year old following me around I felt free to take my time and look at anything I wanted. I went in fully expecting to come out empty handed. Especially after looking at the sunglasses rack and finding nothing that looked good for under 50 bucks. So I headed over to the shirts and found a cute striped shirt for $12.50. That sounded good so I grabbed my size off the shelf. What I really need right now are shorts or capris for summer. I have a couple pairs that I've grown out of and that are starting to look their age. So I headed over to the capri rack to see what they had. After a walk around a couple round things I had a few pairs in my hands to go try on. Next I decided to check out the shoes. Nothing looked good until I saw the rack of Reef sandals.

I love Reef shoes. I have been wearing their flip flops for over 10 years and have a really hard time buying anything but them. They are so dang comfortable! The problem is the prices have really gone up in the last few years so 6 months ago they were out of my price range. I had to break down and buy cheap $7 flip flops from Target. They have served me well, but my heart still ached for a pair of Reefs. So I picked out come cute ones that I've been wanting for a while but were too expensive for me before. At Norstrom Rack they are $12 bucks cheaper! They are last year's model, but I don't care. I'm a Reef wearer again!

After trying on my clothes I came out of the dressing room with one shirt, two pairs of capris and my Reefs all for only $56 bucks! One pair of capris was $7 and the other was $9! Hooray! Now I have summer clothes. I walked to my car with a spring in my step and a tune on my lips. I was so excited to have new clothes! It's surprising how happy a couple pairs of new pants and some sweet shoes can make me. I got new clothes!!

26 April 2007

The Perfect Enchilada

I love chicken enchiladas...green chicken enchiladas. Growing up I thought my mom made the best ones. Then when I got older I experimented with her recipe and--if I do say so myself--made it better. Then I learned how to substitute the chicken for black beans from a roommate. Yummy! And then a couple years ago I was given a recipe book from my sister-in-law with yet another chicken enchilada recipe. They are all delicious. I still make all of them. Then this month I got my Everyday Food magazine in the mail. On a side note, if you are looking for good recipes and good recipe ideas you should subscribe to this magazine. It's got great ideas and I've used tons already. (On a second side note, I'm not sure why I subscribe because it seems like most everything you find in the magazine is on-line...oh well)

In this month's issue was another recipe for green chicken enchiladas so of course I had to try it out. Here is my review:
  • For me it took a little long to prepare. I'm used to using canned chicken and just pulling it out of the cupboard. For this recipe I probably could have used canned chicken too, but would have missed out on the roasted garlic. So I had to cook the chicken for half an hour and shred it. Everything else was easy. The assembly was a piece of cake too.
  • It baked for about 45 minutes and I pulled it out when the sauce was bubbly and the cheese was starting to brown, and then it sat on the counter to cool for about 10 minutes. (I'm thinking it could have used another 5 or 10 minutes cooking.) When I tried to serve it, though it all fell apart. You couldn't tell where one tortilla ended and where another started. But that's okay, cuz it was dang good!
  • It was very creamy and saucy and with a bit of sour cream and red salsa on the side was a dis to die for!

So here's another good Chicken Enchilada recipe to add to my collection!

Wise Words

So the neighborhood church has put up a new quote:

"The best vitamin for a Christian is B1"

I seriously don't know where these people come up with this stuff!

Feel free to discuss...

24 April 2007

Rachel's Favorite Phrases

I thought I'd dedicate this next post to my 2 year old daughter, Rachel. She is talking up a storm lately and has some particular favorite phrases:

"Just one more time." while raising her one index finger at me.
"I did it Mommy! I did it!"
"I need _____ (enter whatever she shouldn't have)"
"Stop it!"
"What this song, Mommy?" She loves music and wants to know the name of every song.
"Where my blankies go?"
"I'm a do it!" (Translation: "I want to do it!")
"Yook Mommy!" (Translation: "Look, Mommy!")
"I yuv you" (My personal favorite)

There you go...wise words from the mouth of a 2 year old.

20 April 2007

Pressure to Conform

I had a conversation with my mom today. She started out by saying, "I know you kids struggle with me not being active in the church." (For the record, I don't struggle with it. I am not happy with the choices that she has made, but I don't judge or condemn her for them.) I knew this was going somewhere so I just let her continue to talk. She said how it was so hard for her to be married to my dad for 29 years. (Last year my parents were divorced) She felt like he was always telling her how to live her life according to the principles of the gospel. Not only my dad, but everyone in the church. She left because she was so tired of everyone telling her how she was supposed to live and what to do. She felt stifled and pressured. In the end she said she was telling me all this because she didn't want me to have to do anything I didn't want to do just because I was a member of the Church.

My mom is a convert of about 35 or so years. I grew up in the church. My parents taught me the gospel and how to live a righteous life. I told my mom that I do not feel the pressure that some people feel from the church culture to "conform." Honestly I can't remember ever feeling that way. Personally I don't even know what I'm supposed to "conform" to. I don't feel like there is anyone breathing down my neck and telling me I have to do something because I'm LDS. In fact it's just the opposite. I don't do anything I don't want to do. Now there are some things that are hard for me--like my current calling--but hard and challenging is not a reason to say no to something. There are some days I really don't want to teach that class, but it's not that I really don't want to, it's that I don't want to put forth the effort.

When I was in High School I had migraine headaches. I didn't know they were migraines at the time I just thought they were really bad headaches. Looking back I know they were migraines because I would come home from school and just want to sleep for at least three hours and hope they were gone when I woke up or not look at any light and lay as still as I could. There were many times when I had these headaches that my mom would drag me to Mutual activities. I can vividly remember laying down in the van on the way to the church building with my eyes closed because it was too painful to look at the oncoming cars and their lights. She made me go to Mutual every week. When I got there I would just find a nice quiet place to lay down until it was time to go home. It would have been better had I just stayed home on those days. Because of that experience, I don't do anything I don't want to do. I told my mom that today.

I also have a friend that I went to college with that feels similar to the way my mom feels. She is also a recent convert as well. So my questions for you are these: First are you a convert or a life long member? Do you feel pressure to conform to certain standards as a member of the church? Do you do things out of obligation because people tell you that is what is best for you? Or do you just live your life the way you want and that happens to coincide to the principles of the Gospel? Or something else??

The Office Season 2

Normally Rachel wakes up between 6:30 and 7am. However, Monday and Tuesday mornings Rachel didn't wake up until after 7:30. Spencer and I were loving it! Unfortunately on Wednesday she woke up at 6:30 bright and happy as always. You think she could have extended her long sleeping pattern one more day. Tuesday night Spencer and I stayed up until 12:30 watching Season 2 of The Office.

I was totally not prepared for what happened in the last episode. If you haven't seen Season 2, don't read any further. There will be spoilers. I knew that Jim eventually had to tell Pam that he loved her, but I was so not expecting it when it happened. I didn't even realize we were watching the last episode.

I get really into shows. I get emotionally involved in movies. If someone cries on a movie or a tv show, the waterworks just start coming. I just have no control over it. I better have the toilet paper ready. All season long I was rooting for Jim. There were moments I yelled at the tv because I wanted him to tell Pam the truth. Oh the heart-wrenching! The revelation of Jim's love for Pam at the end affected me so much...and then the kiss! Oh my! My favorite kisses to watch are the ones where the guy totally chatches the girl by surprise, grabs her waist and just pulls her toward him. My heart skips a beat just thinking about them! :) I know I'm lame.

So the last few days I've been totally occupied with what happens in Season 3. I am so tempted to buy the whole season on iTunes for $35 bucks. To me it's totally worth it to know how this season plays out. Unfortunately we don't have money for that this month so I guess I'll just have to hound my friends until I can find someone who has TiVo'd all this season's episodes.

19 April 2007

America Finally Did It

They voted off Sanjaya! I guess his last performance was just too much to handle. I know it was for me anyway...Thank you for doing the right thing, America!

15 April 2007

The Spoken Word

I love to listen to inspirational music on Sundays. When I was growing up we never listened to anything but classical music, hymns, or some broadway showtunes. We have since adopted that tradition for our family. One great way I've discovered of starting my Sunday off on the right tune is the Spoken Word by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

We just recently hooked up our cable but just have the basics so we don't have the BYU-TV channel--but we do have internet. Imagine my excitement about a year ago when I discovered that BYU-TV had an on-demand option on their website. You can watch any of their programming whenever you want it.

Each Sunday morning I get on their website to listen to and watch the Spoken Word. I love hearing the Tabernacle Choir and their beatiful voices sing praises to God throught beautiful music. And the little gems that Lloyd Newell tells always touch my heart. He speaks of kindness or generosity. He speaks of gospel principles that if we all put in practice in our daily lives would make the world a better place.

If you are looking for a good way to start your day--or if you have earlier church, sometime during the day--go to BYU-TV and watch the Spoken Word. It always helps me remember it's Sunday and puts me in the right frame of mind for the day.

09 April 2007

5 Things

I got tagged by Melissa to do 5 things I'm obsessed with. So here goes...

1. Checking email. I cannot go into our office with the computer on and not check my email. Even if I just checked it 2 minutes before. Also if I check it when I get on the computer and then close Outlook, I have to check it again before I get up to walk away.

2. Getting the mail every day. I must get it before I go to bed....and preferably much earlier than that.

3. Blogging and message boards. Hmmm, I'm sensing a pattern. I like getting messages...

4. Balancing. Let me explain this one: If my right hand does something I have to do it with my left hand. If I twiddle my fingers on one hand, it has to be balanced by doing it on the other hand too. Same with my toes: flex my toes a couple times on one foot....flex my toes a couple times on the other foot. I used to click my teeth but that just gave me pain, so now I have to do something else.

5. How I take a shower. I have to do things in the same order every day or I just may miss a step.

Okay, there you go. If you are reading this consider yourself tagged. Have fun!

08 April 2007

Rude Awakening

Picture this...it's 5:30 in the morning and you are peacefully dreaming on soft pillowy clouds. All of a sudden your serene dreamy state is interrupted by loud honking noises! Your eyes shoot awake for you to realize that it's the fire alarm that is going off. (I can't figure out how to spell the onomatopoeia of our fire alarm, but just try to imagine the electrically connected ones. They are LOUD!)

So I jump out of bed and Spencer is right there with me. We quickly look around and make sure it's not our apartment that is on fire. I went first to Rachel's room to make sure she wasn't freaking out but surprisingly she was still sound asleep. So I left her there so I could gather a couple things. I found my slippers and a sweatshirt and then went back in to get Rachel. She felt wet and was wearing not-so-warm jammies, so I quickly changed her diaper and jammies. Spencer grabbed a cellphone and our keys and we headed out the door--of course not forgetting Rachel's blankies.

We sat in the car for a while since our neighbors ironically were smoking on the sidewalk. While sitting there I was thinking about whether or not we would get back into our apartment. I didn't even think to grab any food. I didn't take any water...I did think about it, but my water bottle was empty and I didn't want to take the time to fill it up. We didn't have any diapers for Rachel. What if we had had to stay there for hours? Now I am on the Stake Self Reliance Committee so you would think that I would have been prepared for this, right? Well we do have 72 hour kits, we just didn't grab them. However I'm not sure they would have been of great use to us anyway because it's been a year since I've updated them. (I really need to get on that) Spencer bravely volunteered to go back into the house to get them if it turned out we needed to.

Luckily the Fire Department showed up, they turned the alarms off and by 6:00 am we were back in our warm apartment enjoying Easter morning. What if it had been our apartment that was on fire? We would have totally been unprepared. I'm going to go through all that tomorrow and update the things that need to be updated. Kinda makes you think....

On another note, because we were woken up so early, we gave Rachel her Easter basket, did our egg hunt in the living room and colored eggs all before 7 am! It was such a productive morning! Happy Easter everyone!

02 April 2007

My Famous Daughter

Last week my sister and brother-in-law were in town so decided to do something fun. There was a fund raiser at the local fire station and thought bringing the kids there would be exciting for them. Rachel and her cousin were climbing all over the fire trucks and having a good time. Then this guy with a fancy camera asks if he can take pictures of Rachel. Sure I said after I asked him where he was from. So he starts snapping all kinds of pictures and mentions she might get in the local paper if his editor picks her picture from 10 or so that he submits. Well on Friday we get an excited call from my dad saying she not only made it in the paper, but the Front Page! So what does this proud grandpa do? He scans the picture so we don't have to wait for him to bring us our copy. What a nice grandpa.

Behold the child star. She's only 2 and already front page stardom.

Our Trip to Mecca

We didn't exactly go all the way to Israel but instead to the Mecca of Mormons--Salt Lake City. It started as a whim a few months ago when I decided I wanted to try to go to General Conference this April. When I noticed in the Sunday bulletin that there was someone to contact to get tickets I quickly emailed. I had anticipated that there wouldn't be any tickets left for us so I didn't get my hopes up. But then one day a couple weeks ago as I was walking in to the Chapel, I heard my name called. Out came a hand with a folder for General Conference tickets. Whoa! I was so excited.

Then we had to plan our trip. Luckily last week was Spencer's spring break so we had more flexibility than normal. We thought about renting a car, but Enterprise doesn't let you take their cars outside of California, Arizona or Nevada. We almost paid $150 for a rental, but then Spencer's parents let us borrow their car.

I was totally stressed out all week before we left. I had a lot to do and Rachel wasn't sleeping very well. I was trying to get as much work done as I could before we left so I wouldn't have to worry about it on the trip.

Finally after all the preparations were complete, we packed up the car and headed out on Thursday morning. We left about 11:45 because Spencer had to work till 11:00. We were lucky enough not to hit any traffic at all heading up there. We stopped in Baker, CA for gas and food and found a restaurant that conjures up very happy memories from my childhood. Bob's Big Boy. They built on in Baker, CA of all places. Since it had been years since I'd seen one, we of course had to stop and eat and take a picture. I fondly remember standing on the Bob's Big Boy statue in the restaurant in Rancho Bernardo. For some reason that memory has stayed with me for years. Good times, good times.

Another thing we saw on our trip was a lot of snow. About 8pm we made it into Cedar City and since the sun was going down, I couldn't tell if what I saw was just a reflection of the sunset, or the snow. Well soon enough I could definitely tell. In some places the snow was at least a foot thick! I was so happy to see it, but bummed at the same time because it was at night. I have never seen that much freshly fallen snow. The ground was covered all the way to about Provo.

We kept on driving and pulled in to Spencer's brother's house about 12:30. Pretty dang good time if you ask me. 12 hours driving time from San Diego to north of Salt Lake City. After trying to calm Rachel down and get her to sleep we crawled in to bed.

The next day we lounged around the house in the morning then after lunch took Rachel and her cousin to Temple Square in Salt Lake. I had anticipated bringing Rachel to the Visitor's Center with the Cristus so she could see Jesus. I envisioned her calmly walking up the ramp soaking in the sights of the stars and the moon eager for what was around the corner. When she reached the top, I would see the excitement in her eyes as she saw Jesus with his hands outstretched and exclaim, "Jesus, Mama!" She would stare reverently at the statue and listen quietly as they played the little clip.

Well that's not what happened. Rachel loves to push the stroller, so she was adamant about pushing her stroller up the ramp. So far so good. We made it to the top and she ran for the benches ahead completely oblivious to who was standing behind her. Now Rachel is a loud kid. She loves to sing and talk and rarely has a quiet moment. When they started the short presentation and I tried to get Rachel to calm down but usually that only makes her louder. I finally got her to sit on a bench next to a young guy. Unfortunately he had his scriptures next to him. Lately Rachel has been fascinated with scriptures, but due to the fact that I don't want my pages ripped out, I don't let her play with mine. Well this nice guy let her hold his scriptures and she was elated! But shortly after the presentation ended, he had to leave. Only Rachel would not let go of the scriptures. Finally after much coercing, we finally got them out of her hands, only to have her topple off the benches backwards.

Normally she is a pretty tough girl, but for some reason this time she just let all the crying out. She did that open mouth-silent scream, followed by loud crying scream cry. I quickly scooped her up and carried her out of the room while others tried to enjoy the quiet reverence that was there.

I wasn't feeling the quiet reverence though. I discovered it's a lot different going to reverent places with a two year old in tow. Her three year old cousin was very well-behaved though. Here she is shushing Rachel.

After the Visitor's Center debacle we decided the girls needed to do some running around. We took them to the reflection pool so they had some space to run and play. Rachel spent most of her time doing circles around the pool, while her cousin stuck her fingers in the frigid water.

Giving Rachel space to run around in made me much calmer than when we were inside of the Visitor's Center. She needs her space. After the girls played for a while, we met one of my old college roommates at a little coffee shop for hot chocolate. Yum! Rachel was being naughty inside again, so we headed out to the front of the shop and let the girls run wild again. We tired them out pretty good after a while and decided to head home.

On Saturday Spencer and I went to the afternoon session of General Conference. I was a little bummed because they had the dedication of the Tabernacle during that session which meant that the Conference Center was the overflow. It was still great to be there and be able to focus on the talks instead of trying to keep Rachel quiet somewhere else. I came out of that session really feeling the Spirit.

Feeling the Spirit is something I've been lacking lately. I just have been having a down time in my life. However, a couple of the talks really touched me and reminded me of how the Spirit feels. I came out of there feeling regenerated and ready to take on whatever comes my way. It has been hard for me because I'm occupying 6 3 year olds for two hours and trying to occupy a 2 year old for the other hour to feel like I'm getting much out of going to church on Sunday. I haven't really felt spiritually fed like I do when I'm able to go to Relief Society on a regular basis. I just have to tell myself that this is where the Lord wants me to serve. After Saturday afternoon, I had a confirmation of that. I realized I need to focus my own efforts at increasing my spirituality. I need to pray more and more meaningful and I need to study my scriptures--not just read them. I realized no one is responsible for my spiritual well-being except myself. It was a good experience.

On Sunday we packed up early and drove about 45 minutes south to visit with my aunt and uncle. That was a quick, but fun visit. They fed us some yummy breakfast and for that we were extremely grateful.

I was hoping we would see some of the remnants of the Thursday snow storm on the way home so Rachel could at least get out and see it. She has never seen snow so I wanted her to experience it. About 3 hours into our drive we pulled over on the side of the road where there was a little patch of snow. We got out and Rachel took one step in it and said, "I scared the snow, Mama!" She had no idea what this cold stuff was and wanted nothing to do with it! It was kinda funny actually.

After about 5 minutes in the snow we packed up and got back in the car. The drive home was pretty dull except for the traffic we hit just past Baker. It went all the way through San Bernardino. At one point Spencer pulled off the road to take a frontage road because we were at a dead stop. Unfortunately the road ended before the traffic on the freeway did. On the radio it said there was a car fire nearby, but we didn't see any. We were lucky to get home about 10:30 last night--an hour and half later than we planned.

All in all it was an enjoyable trip. I got to satisfy a whim I didn't think I would get to. Rachel got to see snow for the first time and I got to experience Temple Square with a 2 year old. We probably won't be doing this again any time soon...