Thursday, July 31, 2014

LP 14


I always love Lake Powell, but for some reason this year was better than ever. Maybe it was because for the first time in hmmm, ever, I wasn't pregnant or nursing a baby. LP is just wayyyy better when you don't have to worry about things like babies crawling off the houseboat, or swollen ankles and heartburn.

It was also special because I got to bring my little Abby Lou Who. We usually don't take kids until they are 8 (besides the nursing babes, obvi) but due to an unfortunate accident on the 4th of July, my sweet mother-in-law wasn't able to watch my 3 younger kids like we had planned (she is doing much better now, by the way, but it was really scary!!). My sister in law took over babysitting duties because she is the nicest person on the planet, so I was still able to go, but I decided to take the Abs with me even though she is a little shy of the usual deadline.
I'm so glad she was able to come. She has always been intimidated by water and I was worried she would be my little attachment the whole trip and also have a hard time with the heat. Instead, she loved it! We were lucky to park the houseboat in a spot where there was plenty of shallow water and a beachy area so she was free to float around as much as she wanted. It was great to see her overcome her fears and truly enjoy something that has always frightened her.
I never would have thought Abby would even consider putting her face in the water so I was shocked when Jason gave her a little snorkeling lesson, and she fell in love with it! She spent the rest of the trip pretty much under the water. It's a good thing for kids to have dads. They give kids a lot more credit than moms do sometimes.

Abby can be really reserved. I loved seeing my family members, especially the in laws, interact with her and make her feel comfortable and special. Her Uncle James was so nice to her and it was the cutest thing to watch her confidence grow as she became his little buddy.
It melts my heart to see my mom with Abby. My kids are blessed with incredible grandparents. Someday they will realize how lucky they are!

Another great part of the trip was seeing Luke in this hat. My mom bought it for my dad, who refused to wear it. I told Luke he wouldn't have to wear sunscreen on his face if he would wear the hat, and it was pretty much glued to his head for the rest of the trip.
He became quite the little fisherman in this kayak. It was adorable. Jason even helped him rig up an anchor so he could fish without floating away. 
However, he also loved to fish from shore and it was not uncommon to look out the window and see what appeared to be The Hat floating through the water, fishing on its own, as he traveled from bank to bank. 
He caught a lot of fish all by himself and couldn't have been prouder.
He and Dallin loved having their cousin Katelyn there for part of the time. She is a good sport and goes along with all the boys' crazy ideas. Including bow fishing.
I mean, bow fishing? Does it get any more redneck? Don't get me started.
Jason was in heaven with his own fishing boat this year. In previous years he has either had a piece of junk boat that kept dying or else he fished off the jet skis, which isn't easy. Each morning he was up before dawn, ready to track down the latest school of striped bass, or small mouth bass or catfish or walleye or whatever. He took everyone on multiple fishing trips and kept things exciting. 

The official fish count of the trip was 130.  That's a lotta fishies.

This was my first time hiking to the arch. I'm always amazed at the beauty of Lake Powell!

Jason took the girls on a special fishing trip. We had fun harassing him and making him regret his decision to take us.

Thanks, Dad, for the best LP trip ever. I don't think I can wait a whole year to go back. I'm going to propose Christmas at Lake Powell this year. Who's with me?

Friday, February 21, 2014

PB2 I love you

If I did Friday Favorites on this blog, which I don't, today would totally be about PB2. I've just been thinking about PB2 all day long. How much I love it, how I can't live without it, when I'm going to eat it next... If you have not had the pleasure of meeting my friend, powdered peanut butter, allow myself to introduce... myself. I mean you, to PB2.

Here she is, folks. The ultimate healthy substitution for peanut butter. I wouldn't say I am the biggest peanut butter fan in the world, maybe in the top hundred thousand out of 5 billion people in the world, so that's a pretty big fan, but not like the BIGGEST fan. I love peanut butter, just not in stuff like brownies and cookies. That is what chocolate is for. But I love myself a PB&J, or PB on toast or celery or on a knife straight out of the jar... But the fat, my friends, the fat. I just can't make myself eat straight up hardcore peanut butter most of the time.

Enter PB2. I know it sounds strange, but it is dehydrated peanuts. And you just add water. To the desired consistency. You can have it thick, you can have it runny, you can dip a banana straight in the jar if no one is around. The possibilities are endless, really. But first I think you need to have the facts.

A 2 tablespoon serving of regular peanut butter runs about 200 calories and has 16 grams of fat (according to my jar of Kirkland brand Natural Peanut Butter). That's... a lot. For 2 tablespoons of anything.

BUT, a 2 tablespoon serving of PB2 has only 45 calories and 1.5 grams of fat. And that is the straight powder, before it is rehydrated. How awesome is that? I know, SO awesome. You could eat what, like 7 cups of it before you approached the equivalent 2 tablespoons of the hard stuff.

One of my favorite things to do with PB2 is add a tablespoon to my green smoothie in the morning. Honestly, people, I don't know how you choke those things down without PB2. Just a tablespoon only contributes 27 1/2 calories (if we're being technical) and gives a smoothie such a great flavor. Not a peanut butter shake flavor or anything, it just kind of kills that spinach and kale business that is going on in a green smoothie. In my opinion the only other way to tone down a green smoothie is with tons of fruit and I don't want tons of fruit in it. I want to eat fruit all day long, I don't need ten extra servings in my smoothie. A half a banana, yes. Maybe a few chunks of frozen pineapple or mango, sure. But cups and cups of strawberries or blueberries or what have you, I'd rather enjoy noshing them around with my teeth in the mid afternoon noshing hour. PB2 just adds to a smoothie, trust me. When I used to drink protein shakes (which I don't anymore, and here's why), adding PB2 was the only way I could manage drinking those beasts. It's just such a fun and useful product. You have to trust me on this.

Now the heavens have opened up and there is also chocolate PB2 available. It's amazing, obvi, but I am still heavily attached to the original as well. Here's a little visual of the chocolate so you don't have to overtax your imagination.



So where do you get PB2? Well, you can go straight to the Bell Plantation web site. Or Amazon, like I usually do. I've seen it at a few Smith's here and there, and my sister swears she saw it recently at good old Wal Mart. She's the new face for Lime Ricki Swimsuits, so even if she's wrong, no one can be mad at her for long because she's just so dang cute. See:



That's my sister.

She's adorable. You can't be mad at her for something as dumb as peanut butter.

I swear, I am sounding more like an infomercial the more I get into this. I'm not getting paid by PB2 or Lime Ricky to say any of this! In fact, I can't remember the last time I was paid to do anything. I just love PB2 and I want you to know about it. So there you go. Now you know.

Now go get yourself a little jar of it and report back to me. And excuse my little Austin Powers reference in the first paragraph. I don't endorse him either. I swear!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Dumb Goals

Am I the only one who does this? Sets some random goal, like completing 100 Sudoku puzzles for no reason, and then drives myself crazy until I accomplish it? Please tell me other people do this. Of all the goals I should have and all the things I should be doing with my days...


It started last week at my in-laws' cabin (that almost burned down recently, see how pretty it is with all the new grass poking through?). We took the kids up there for fall break and I thought it would be super fun to play games (insert enthusiastic mom-voice here) as a family. We're not really game-playing people, and by that I mean, we never try. So I dug out a few brand new, dust-covered games and was determined to teach my kids to play something. It went great. 


We started with Monopoly. The boys LOVED it. We had several all-out battles and they couldn't get enough. I felt so successful. We got so wrapped up in Monopoly we didn't even take a crack at the other games I brought.



Then one afternoon while the kids were out fishing with Jason and I had the place to myself (insert choirs of angels here), I decided to try my skills at our never-opened game of Sudoku. You will notice it spread out on the floor to the right of the crazy six-year-old who is NOT jumping on the couch (sorry Grandpa). The game is organized with puzzles from 1 to 100 from super easy to super hard. I learned how to do Sudoku puzzles years ago but well, I was a little rusty. I am "super worried" that my brain is atrophying as I age. What could be a more perfect brain exercise than number logic puzzles? 

Except then I got addicted.

And I made it my goal to complete all 100 puzzles.

See the little spider hanging from his web, watching me play? I was so excited to have company!
He's the only one who understands me.
But it's so fun! I have it spread out on the dresser in my bedroom and it's perfect for a quick little diversion when I'm passing through. Or when I need to waste an hour or two and I should be doing something else.


Or when I have a mad baby on my hip who doesn't want to me to sit down and I'm tired of trying to do anything productive with only one arm. Liv-Town, seriously, how do you know when I'm sitting down or standing? I really wish babies weren't built with radar.


The other day I thought, "This is ridiculous. I'm only on puzzle 14. It's going to take me 14 years to get through all these. I'm just going to skip to #100 and be done." So I did. Puzzle 100 took me a while, but it wasn't THAT hard. I mean, I finished it... eventually. And I kind of loved it. I was too sad to give up my goal, so now I'm back on track, on puzzle 16 and I can't stop thinking about it. 


The thing about Sudoku is, after a while you get to the point where you can just look at a column and know, hey it needs a 7, without even counting through the numbers. Or glance at the whole thing and think, hey, almost every box has a 5, so it will be easy to find the last few fives. Kind of like when Solitaire was the only computer game and you got to the point where you could click through mindlessly for hours and know exactly what to do with out thinking. And you felt amazing when the cards started jumping around and you didn't even remember how you got there.

So maybe what I really need is just a mindless diversion. Hey, it's better than online shopping. This is free, convenient, and I feel like I'm getting smarter every time I play. It's like I'm doing math without actually doing math. Did I mention I hate math? So I can work with numbers and feel smart, while actually I'm just zoning and figuring out where things go.

Now I just wish I knew how to pronounce it (Su-do-KU?) (Su-DO-ku?) (Sud-OKU?) (Sudok-U? no, that sounds bad). Everything Asian confuses me. For example, how are Asians so fashionable? Every time I see them walking around the mall in moon-shoes and totally rocking it, I feel so inadequate. How do they do that? And make it cool?


I think it confuses him, too.

Other dumb goals I have are keeping my house perfectly clean (ha ha), giving away everything I own (then I just keep buying new stuff), and only going to Costco once a week (good luck with that one, lady). See how all my goals contradict each other? And make no sense? Why can't I set some meaningful goals and stick to them, like exercising daily or becoming a better person. I don't know. My new goal is to set some meaningful goals. I will think about it while I work on puzzle 17.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A birthday and a baptism

Last Saturday was a special day for our family. Sweet Abby turned 6 and Luke was baptized that same day. Luke was very serious about his decision to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I couldn't have been prouder of him. Abby agreed to do most of her birthday celebrating the day before so we didn't have to squeeze two big events into one day.
Abby loves her kindergarten class and had so much fun being in the spotlight. The kids got to ask her questions, which mainly consisted of, "What are you doing for your party?" and "Why wasn't I invited?" Being the resourceful mom that I am I told her she could do whatever she wanted. Then I suggested that she invite two friends and we could take them anywhere she wanted. Then I suggested the two friends, and that we could go swimming and to McDonald's. Her eyes lit up and she said, "Yeah!" so as long as she's happy, I don't feel too bad that she didn't get the friend party of her dreams again. That was last year. Sorry, 15 little girls in the neighborhood and 10 in her class. I just didn't feel up to it this year.

Abby's teacher this year is Mrs. Mason. Abby LOVES her. So much in fact, that the only complaint Mrs. Mason had at parent teacher conference last week was that often Abby will want to sit and talk to her during recess instead of going out to play on the playground. I guess that is a good thing? Also, I brought in little ice creams for the kids, which you can see Abby holding hers, and it was a bad idea. I always do this for the older kids and it works great, but the kindergartners were a little deficient in being able to get the lids off, and when they did, they flung them every which way. Then they ended up taking the ice cream with them because they ran out of time, and I'm sure the drippy remains ended up on the bus floors and the bus drivers all hate my guts for ruining their day that lonely Friday afternoon. So then don't be a bus driver. It's not my fault.

After school I took these three little cuties to the Legacy Center to swim for an hour. I thought they would branch out and swim all over the kiddie area, but they just wanted to splash around right in front of me. It was really cute. It may have been the humidity of the enclosed pool, but I just felt so happy and warm. Then we headed over to McDonald's and met Jason and the rest of the kids. I tell ya, why do we do fancy things for our kids? Give them a happy meal and 40 minutes in the dirtiest play area in town and they think they've died and gone to heaven. Hopefully everyone's immunity was boosted just a little bit that day.

Abby picked out this pink tiger striped cake at a grocery store and thought it was the greatest thing ever. She blew out the candles the second it was close enough to her face, so I don't think she made a wish, but I don't know if those things ever come true anyway. I'm still waiting for my million dollars to show up from the last 30 birthdays I've had. From my calculations, that should be about 30 million dollars. ANY DAY NOW...

Which brings us to Abby's actual birthday, Luke's baptism day. For such a sweet, happy kid, he sure hates to smile in pictures. And what the heck is up with my fuzzy camera lately? I can't seem to get a clear shot to save my life.

Oh whoa, wait a tick, he's smiling... a terrible smile! Just look natural, son. All dressed up in your white jumpsuit with your dad. I guess you're precious no matter what you do.

Here we are, the whole crew. All SEVEN of us! It's just so many people. I keep forgetting how many kids I have. There is a BATCH of them. And they are all nuts. How am I going to do this?

Luke with his "Burley grandparents". My sweet mom and dad made the trip to be there for Luke's special day. Of course I couldn't have managed without my mom's help, and my dad spent the afternoon installing new headlights on Jason's truck. What fun for him! Thanks, dad!

I have a sneaking suspicion that Jason's dad, Grandpa Doug, hates pictures just as much as Luke does. I love this picture because he just looks TICKED. He's actually a really nice guy, right Dougie? You handsome fella, you.

Luke and his great grandpa Stevens (Jason's mom's dad). We love Grandpa Stevens. He lives in Pleasant Grove and it is fun to have him nearby. My kids are so lucky to know their great grandparents! Mine were old as the hills.

Oh, for precious! I told you Doug is a character. He can be so mischievous.

Grandma Rita and Grandpa Doug, how cute can you be? If you are not familiar with my mother-in-law's amazing blog, www.pinkpolkadotcreations.com, you should take a gander. She is probably the most talented person I've ever met and she shares all her secrets on her blog. I should have taken a picture of the quilt she made Luke. Oh wait, here it is. Now you can make one too! Seriously, amazing. And here are the quilts she made for Livi: #1, #2, #3. Also, baby bib aprons, or shall we say, baprons? Oh, the creativity.

This is Luke's great grandma Evelyn (Jason's dad's mom). We love living near Grandma Evelyn and appreciate her efforts to be a part of our lives. She is so kind to these kids and all of us. I also love this picture because of Jason's brother Lance and his wife Tess in the background. Lance loves to hold Livi, but only until she cries. I think secretly, he just likes babies, even when they cry. Lance and Tess are so great. 

Here's a little better shot of the beautiful Tess. She makes everything fun. Jake is just bombing on through. Something about him just makes me want to squeeze him every chance I get. Also in attendance were Jason's sister Lacey and her kids, and my brother Ryan, his wife Christa and their kids. I didn't do a very good job of documenting all the guests! But I did appreciate their presence. We have such great family support and it means so much to me. It was a really special day and I can't believe my little Lukie is already eight years old! He was just a year old when we moved into this house and it seems like yesterday in many ways. But honestly, for all my sentimental talk of, "Oh, I"m so sad, how did my kids get so big!" I wouldn't go back. I wouldn't trade these days right now for anything. Each kid just seems so perfect at the age he or she is at. Not that my kids are perfect. We have a lot of time outs and way too much drama sometimes, but I really enjoy each of them right now. It amazes me that these individuals all came from the same place (me!), but then I remember, no, they really didn't. They came from my Heavenly Father and are all unique spirits with a unique mission on this earth. I am just grateful for the opportunity I get to be with them and I feel privileged and honored to be their mother. And hopefully I don't lead them too far astray in the process.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Meet Alivia

Well, hello friends, it's been a while. I would like to introduce you to the reason I have been a little behind on the old blog. My sweet daughter Alivia Anne was born June 3, 2013. She was born four weeks early because of complications with placenta previa and acreta, but everything went well and she is a healthy beautiful baby.


Alivia was 6 lbs. 12 oz. at birth. I don't think anyone bothered to measure her length. If they did, they didn't tell me about it. I had to deliver in the operating room, in a different hospital, with different doctors and all these big teams of specialists. They had to put me out, and when I came to, nobody cared... it was not the glamour-shot delivery I'm used to having. But apparently, the important thing is a healthy baby. So I am grateful for modern medicine and the fact that Alivia and I are both here to tell the story!


My little family was beyond excited to meet their new sister. I was so happy because the older boys immediately fell in love with her. When they found out I was having a girl they were not impressed but I was confident once she was actually here they would change their minds. And of course I was right.


How could you not love this little weasel?


Luke was especially taken with her. He was so in awe of how tiny and perfect she was. He was kind of a baby hog in the beginning. And he still loves her, but he is more willing to share now.


I had to stay in the hospital for five days. That is a long time when there are four kids at home who need their mama! Jason stayed in the hospital with me most nights and it was fun to have the time with just the three of us.


This is the reason everything was able to go so smoothly. My lovely mama stayed with us for two weeks! She took care of everything while I was in the hospital, and then stuck around to take care of all of us once I got home. This is after she had just spent several weeks taking care of my Aunt Wilma and had not been home in so long! I will always be grateful for her sacrifice and willingness to do whatever was needed. There is nothing like being taken care of by your own mother. I love her so much.


Livi was so tiny and sweet those first few weeks. I love that time with a newborn. There is nothing quite like it in all the world.


Ohhhhhh.... there are no words. 


It was kind of a lame summer for the kids with me recovering from a c-section and trying to adapt to life with five. We did a lot of fishing and we even went to temple square on the fourth of July. I feel bad that we didn't have our usual fun summer of swimming and camping and Yellowstone, but we did alright. 


Alivia was blessed on August 4. It was a very special day. I was really nervous to have #5 and it has been bittersweet because I know she is my last baby, and I'm trying to absorb every minute of it. In some ways I'm looking forward to kids getting older and more independent, but as my older kids grow I'm realizing that the joy of little kids is just the pure, unconditional love they give. It is always there, and even though it is time-consuming and sleep-depriving, there is nothing like a newborn. I adore this little girl and I can feel how special she is every time I look in her eyes and hold her close. It is humbling to be responsible for this little family of mine but I love them more than I ever thought it would be possible to love anything. 


Add in one amazing husband that loves us all just as much as we love him, and life just couldn't be any better.