Thursday, December 22, 2011


He's not as innocent or sweet as he looks.

Yesterday I was enforcing the "no TV time" for a while, and what did my little monkey do?

He got into the baby-care kit and scattered the bulb syringe, KY jelly, and rectal thermometer I keep in there.  I couldn't find the thermometer.  Until this morning.  When I found the rectal thermometer with the top bitten off.  And yes, that would be "the" end of the thermometer.

He cleaned the TV screen with Vicks VapoRub.

He spilled a cup of water in the kitchen.

He spilled a cup of JUICE all over my entryway floor and carpet.
    On days like this, you can see why we watch more "Shaun the Sheep" than normal people should.

    It's either that or a straightjacket.

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Peanut Butter Fudge & Peppermint Spoons

    I made some Christmas treats yesterday with the girls.  I had to make some refreshments for the cantata, and I was trying out a new fudge recipe from Our Best Bites and really wanted to do a peanut butter variety.  So, I modified the recipe and halved it (just in case is turned out badly).  Lucky for me it was a success!  It is awesome, so of course I had to share.  The recipe uses a candy thermometer, so I bought one just for the occasion.  If you don't own one, they are worth the investment of $3.50 - trust me.  It took a lot of the guesswork out of making candy.

    Also, while we were waiting for the fudge to set we made some dark chocolate mint hot cocoa stirrers for gifting.  I bought the flavored candy melts at Hobby Lobby the other day, and we just melted them down, dipped the spoons in, and set them on parchment paper.  Then we sprinkled them with crushed candy canes and left them alone to set.   They looked so good after I wrapped them last night I was compelled to take a picture.  I'm inordinately proud of myself - they almost make me look crafty.

    And now... on to the fudge recipe!

    Anita's Peanut Butter Fudge

    8 oz. white almond bark (4 squares)
    1/4 c. butter
    2/3 c. crunchy peanut butter
    3/4 c. evaporated milk
    2 cups granulated sugar
    1 heaping cup of mini-marshmallows

    In a glass or metal mixing bowl, place almond bark, butter, and peanut butter.  I used the bowl from my stand mixer.

    In a large saucepan, combine milk, sugar, and marshmallows.  Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture reaches about 225 to 240 degrees.  Be careful near the end, because it will scald really easily.  Just make sure you are stirring constantly and you don't have the heat up too high.  If it browns a little, it's not a big deal, just lower the heat and make sure it doesn't burn.

    Once it has reached the proper temperature, pour the mix and sugar mixture into the bowl on top of the other ingredients.  Beat with a mixer or stand mixer until thoroughly combined.  The heat from the milk mixture will melt the ingredients in the bowl, so just make sure you've got everything melted before stopping.  It's probably a good idea to scrape the bowl at least once before you're done, too.

    The heat from the milk mixture will melt the ingredients in the bowl, so just make sure you've got everything melted before stopping.  It's probably a good idea to scrape the bowl at least once before you're done, too.  When it's ready it should look something like this.

    Pour into an 8x8 or 9x9 pan lined with foil.  For good measure, I sprayed my foil with non-stick cooking spray, too. 

    Let it set then cut into small 1-inch squares.  Store in the fridge.

    I think I've gained 5 pounds just thinking about this fudge, so be sure to give it away fast!

    Random Cuteness

    She got in trouble for this one...
     I had to explain to Kelsey that you just shouldn't go around putting aprons on dogs.  They don't really like it.  I'm not one of those people who dress up my pets for Halloween, either.  My dog already has clothes.
    It's called FUR.

    Later that same day I walked into the den where Kelsey and Connor had been quietly playing while I fixed dinner.  I guess they were having a doggie tea party or something. 

    I really got a kick out of the extra cups being used as hats for the little ones.

    And speaking of Connor, this is what Ben found the other night when checking on him before going to bed:
    For the record, that lion costume is way too small.  It was lying on his bed from earlier in the day when he'd wanted to put it on and I told him it was too small.  I guess when it was time for bed, he couldn't resist giving it just one more shot.

    My kids really are adorable.  How did I get to be such a lucky mommy?

    The Things We Do for Money

    I really want my kids to know the joy of gift-giving.  And when they pick out a present for their sibling and Ben and I pay for it, I feel like that robs them of some of the experience.  So for the past couple of years, Ben and I have told the girls that they need to buy or make their own Christmas presents to give people.  However, since my kids aren't really old enough to earn money outside the home, we have provided some opportunities for them to earn money AT home.

    Let's take Kelsey, for example.  She cleaned my big picture windows inside and out, and spent quite a while happily scrubbing the stove.  She really loved doing the cleaning knowing that she was earning money to buy presents for Christmas.  Some other things the girls did for me - babysitting (Olivia), folding and putting away their brothers' laundry (both), and extra work with the dishes and in the kitchen (Olivia).

    This really is the most wonderful time of the year!

    Nativity Display

    This year the LDS churches in the Oklahoma City area hosted another Nativity Display and Cantata performance called "Glory to the Newborn King".  The Nativity display had over 600 nativities displayed over three days at one of our buildings in Oklahoma City.  We also performed the Cantata three times at the Nativity display Dec. 9-11th and then once at the Edmond building last night.  And yes, I was in the Cantata choir again.  This is my 4th year and I LOVE IT.  I really don't want to give it up, though it really is a lot of hard work and involves giving up my Saturday mornings from mid-September on.  Totally worth it!

    Now you know why you haven't heard from me much lately.

    However, I did visit the Nativity display with my kiddos and neighbors the first Friday it was open.  I hope you love Nativities because I wanted to share a few of my favorites here... and of course there's a few of our kiddos actually dressed up in the kids' room like Mary, Joseph, and the angels.

    They had an international room, and this one was from (I think) Japan.

    See those stars?  They are actually lights shining through the fabric!

    One of the Lego nativities...

    I took this picture for my friend Becky who is a Snoopy lover, but I also love the one in the lower right-hand corner made of marshmallow people.  Amazing!

    Our family's nativity on display.  (Best wedding gift ever from the Broome family!)

    A table display - just to give you an idea of how many nativities we really saw.  There were tables ALL OVER the church.

    This one is carved out a single piece of wood - a slice from a tree.  And near it (though not in this picture) was a nativity made from hand-painted grains of rice.  As in, a single grain of rice painted to be Mary, one painted to be Joseph, the Baby Jesus, and more.  

    I just loved this one...

    Coconut shell nativity... maybe?  Not sure what else it could be - any guesses anyone?

    This picture wasn't taken at the Nativity Display, but it is several of my other small nativities that we donated.  The two in back are ornaments, and the one in front my brother Niel brought us from Peru when he came home from his 2-year mission there.

    And just so you can get an idea how small it is... that's a pencil.

    And last, but not least - the people pictures!!

    Saturday, December 17, 2011


    Boy do I have some blogging to do... but this is not the time.  I have to leave in 5 minutes or so for my last Cantata practice of 2011.  I'm looking forward to sleeping in late as I want next Saturday.  I'm going to bribe either Ben or Olivia to get up with Maddox so I can do it.  Probably Olivia.

    Last night we had a caroling party with some of Olivia and Kelsey's friends.  At our house.  On the same day I had a CPR class to teach.  (What was I thinking when I scheduled this thing?)  As it turned out, Ben also had to go back and work some overtime last night so I was flying solo for just about the whole thing. You'd think I was stressed and strung out by the time it was over last night, but no so.  I was in a great mood!  We decorated cookies, played Christmas charades, ate snacks, and went caroling and cookie-delivering to a few of my neighbors (it was 32 degrees outside). And I even learned a few things along the way, which I wanted to write down before I forgot.

    1. Sprinkles are evil.

    2. It's a good idea to make sure someone celebrates Christmas before knocking on their door.  We had one of our "planned" deliveries not home, so we tried a few other people down the street.  The next two we tried had great Christmas decorations, but weren't home.  The third family... had no decorations.  At all.  And kind of looked Middle-Eastern when they came to the door.  I think we went caroling to a non-Christian family last night.  They were nice about it, but didn't really want to participate in our festivities.  Oops.  We made sure the next house had a wreath on the door and people we could see through the window.

    3. Sprinkles are evil and they bounce.

    4. A nice, stiff frosting is not preferred when you want things to stick to it.  Like sprinkles.

    5. Sprinkles are evil and the only way to get them off your table is to sweep them into some large pan or bowl.  Do not delude yourself with the idea you can simple "wipe them up" with your sponge.

    6. If you put a bowl of m&m's on the table for any reason (like to decorate cookies), the kids will eat them instead.

    7. Sprinkles are evil, but at least they come up easily out of the carpet when you vacuum.  Frosting, on the other hand, does not.

    And... last but definitely not least...

    8. When you surprise people with the gift of caroling and cookies, it brightens up their Christmas season and yours.  We might just have to do this next year, too!

    Merry Christmas, y'all!

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Out of the Mouth of Tweens...

    Gwen and Richard came into town yesterday to attend the Cantata performance last night.  They were having dinner with us tonight, and Gwen and I were reminiscing about some things from our childhood.

    Gwen: "Do you remember that white chest of drawers we had when we were younger?"

    Anita: "Oh, you mean the one that you guys put a mattress on and used as a bed?"

    Gwen: "Yeah, only sometimes we'd take the mattress off and put soap and water all over it and skate around in it.  There was this nail sticking out of the wall, so you had to be careful.  If you were going too fast and hit it, it really hurt."

    Anita: "You know, sometimes you just have to look back at some of the things we did and wonder..."

    (Then Olivia butts in)

    Olivia: "Were we smart?"

    Actually, I was GOING to say " we survived."  Smarts ain't got nuthin' to do with it.

    Friday, December 2, 2011

    Welcome December!

    I have to just throw out a few random pictures from the last couple of days that also ended up on my phone's picture file.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

    I downloaded a new app to keep Connor occupied and quiet when needed.  He loves it, but apparently so do the girls.  Can you read what this one says?

    This one is Kelsey's masterpiece.

    Took the kids to the park after band this week.  Found out that Maddox has graduated to playing with sticks and eating dirt.

    Doesn't taste that good, does it?

    I took an impromptu trip to Dallas last night to see my younger sis, Gwen, in her debut performance as an actress.  (She did a great job, by the way!)  My fantastic, and always helpful, neighbor helped out with Maddox this morning till I got home around 9:30.  Olivia handled the older kids, but she sent Maddox next door in his jammies.  I went to get him and sat chatting with Terri for a few minutes.  Maddox found my purse, and I LOVED this picture of him.  I swear I didn't pose him for this one!

    And tonight the kids and I went to see if our favorite house had their Christmas lights up yet.  I guess that's a yes!

    Merry Christmas, everyone!

    November at a Glance

    Warning... this is a long one with lots of pics!

    I can't believe that it's been almost a month since I last blogged.  And honestly, I don't have the inclination to go back and give you a play-by-play.  But tonight I did upload the pictures from our SC trip onto my computer from my "new" (hand-me-down) iPhone 3G.  Fortunately for me, I had the phone because we left for SC without our camera.  Oops!

    So here's a quick run-down of our month:

    We finished up our fundraising efforts and achieved our goal for making a trip to South Carolina over Thanksgiving.  It was a wonderful experience with our kids that I have no desire to repeat any time soon - and that goes for both the fund raiser and the trip.  It was wonderful to spend time with family for the holiday, but traveling around any holiday carries it's share of risks and traffic jams.

    Since I'm not feeling very garrulous (that means "talkative" for any of you poor souls that never took Mrs. Thompson for high school English) tonight, I'll just run through the pictures from the phone.  They don't necessarily give a play-by-play account of our trip, but they do a pretty good job at covering the "ooh-grab-the-camera!" moments we had.

    The first night out we stayed in a small, inexpensive motel room.  It had full-size beds instead of queen.  The hotel itself was pretty nice, but we were glad we were only staying there about 5 hours.  'Nuff said.

    After leaving the hotel in Arkansas at 2:45 am, we hit Memphis just as the sun was coming up.  I love driving east.

    A little after lunch-time we finally made it to the City Park in Moody, AL where we took a break last time we made this trip.  It's an awesome park, and becoming one of our favorite layover spots.  

    The girls got a real kick out of these swings, even though they couldn't quite get the hang of how to use them...

    Kelsey got a lot of her energy out at the park.  Can you tell?

    Maddox mostly wandered around playing with the juice boxes.  He was just happy to be out of that blasted car seat.  By the way, have I mentioned that he doesn't travel well?  He looks sweet, but he didn't hesitate to let us know - loudly - when he'd had enough of driving.

    Connor played quietly by himself most of the time.  However, he did invite me to go riding with him.  See him patting the seat?  I had to convince him that I wouldn't fit in that seat.  No leg room, you see.

    He sure loved that car.

    And he still picked up some passengers before the ride was over.

    Once we finally made it to Georgia, the kids found some new things to play with at the Welcome Center: a thick blanket of leaves!

    Of course they had to make a huge pile out of them.

    And then jump in it.

    And try to eat them.

    And get them in their clothes.

    And search out the biggest leaves they could find.


    After rush hour traffic in Atlanta, we got to our friends' house for a"family sleepover" in Georgia.  We got one lone picture out of the stay, but it really cracked me up.  The girls had put colored hair spray in that was leftover from Halloween.  These two girls really know how to ham it up.  We love our visits with the Armstrong family!

    Heading out of Atlanta the next morning we got bogged down in MORE traffic.  This is how we all felt:

    Eventually we made it.  After 7 hours.  We were so glad to see Noni and Papa!  Ben just isn't happy unless he's hugged his mama at least once every 6 months or so.

    Once we actually got there, pictures were few and far between.  Here are few worth sharing:

    Connor eating a bowl of yummy... crushed ice?

    Maddox giving high fives to his new best buddy, Nathan.

    The girls and cousin Jared at the zoo.  I love his expression because it's obvious he really didn't want Kelsey hanging on his arm, but he was being a good sport.  He's such an awesome dude!

    Olivia getting attacked by the hungry lorakeets.  (Incidentally, the day after a holiday is a GREAT time to go - they haven't been fed for a day!)

    One even landed on Maddox's head.  He didn't freak out.  (Unlike someone else who shall remain nameless... but her initials are K. E.)

    More lorakeet mobbing.

    Jared with the lorakeets.  And check out the snoozing koala through the glass!

    Maddox and Uncle Mike.

    Another member of our groups wasn't excited about the enthusiasm shown by the birds... I took him and Kelsey out a little early.

    The goats were pretty friendly.

    They will eat anything.  Including baby fingers.

    And the baby giraffes were hungry, too.

    A couple of statue photos...

    Notice it is the boys with the crazy faces?

    A great visit with a great friend... (can you believe it's been 22 years, Becky??)

    And finally... after not enough time to see friends, yet too much time away from home... we hit the road again.  (I love leaving at 2am.)

    We stopped for our traditional breakfast at Waffle House.  For the first time, we no longer fit in a single booth there!  The girls have graduated to the counter.

    And for the first time on our trip, it rained.  And it was cold.  And it rained.

    Which meant lunch was in the McDo-I-Have-To-Eat-The-Food-Here playland.  Barf.  At least Maddox had a blast.

    Eventually, we made it home about dinner time on Tuesday.  We loved the trip and being reminded that we really do belong to people.

    But we sure are glad to be home.