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High School Musical Rebecca cheerleader drama

This week the junior high run of “High School Musical” ended, as did Rebecca’s role as a head cheerleader.

Who knew Rebecca could cheer so well?

She didn’t. But she tried out for the musical and was cast in that role.

And then she worked hard to learn from such capable teachers how to play her role, and she did it so well that people were asking her if she was going to try out for cheerleading at the high school!

But she doesn’t want to try out for cheerleading! She wants to dance and sing and play different roles in musicals, thanks to some amazing volunteers at our school. Teachers, administrators, parents and community members all pitch in together to make it happen. It’s totally volunteer! The directors don’t get paid! They put in HUNDREDS of hours, and it shows. (No pun intended!) They produce, with the hard work of the students and other volunteers, totally top-notch performances. And the students like Rebecca benefit so much.

Rebecca has grown a lot this year and last as she stuck her toe in the water of drama, then her foot, and then jumped in with both feet. Watching her perform, I can see the little girl who used to dance and sing all the time at home. I knew then that she had gifts to develop, and I cannot say enough thanks to the teachers who are helping her develop those gifts–along with the rest of the cast, which was, I think, ONE HUNDRED JUNIOR HIGH STUDENTS!

When was the last time you tried to tell 100 seventh to ninth graders what to do? And they listened?! It says a lot about the students as well as the directors. Hats off to all of you. You amaze us and make us so proud!

(This photo was serendipitous: I can in to see the end of their closing night, and to my delight, when the cast members came out into the audience as part of one of the closing scenes, she sat right across from me. So I got to click a photo! And my phone worked! Tendermercies!)



VanbulenceThis week, when I was at BYU, I passed by a van and realized that this is Sarah’s “getaway car” at work. It’s what the EMS staff use to attend to people on campus quickly. When I told Sarah I saw it, Eliza remarked, “It’s her vanbulence!” ☺

I am happy that Sarah is working so diligently at her job. She doesn’t get paid, but she treats her job as seriously as if she did. She supervises several days a week, from early in the morning until late at night. Longer than missionary hours! And she loves it! Emergency medical services is just that: a very valuable service. Hats off to you, Sarah!


Eliza’s Mexican Soup

Eliza's Mexican soup

My dad’s family came to visit last Sunday and joined us for lunch. We were delighted to get to spend an hour with them en route to their vacation destination. His wife is such a gracious and fun woman, and his children are bright and beautiful.

Dad asked Eliza what she had cooked recently. We explained that since we started doing dinner teams, she’s not had as many opportunities to create in the kitchen. He shared how they had recently eaten some of the best Mexican soup he’s had. He described what was in it.

Eliza made a mental note of the soup and decided to recreate it for us at dinner. It was a hit! Here’s the recipe for Eliza’s Mexican Soup (click on the link if you want to print it out):

Cook some long grain rice, making at least 1/2 cup cooked rice per serving. We cooked 2 cups for 8 servings, and it actually was barely enough.

Poach some chicken breasts. (You could simply boil them, too.) How many depends on how many people you will be serving and the size of the individual chicken breasts. Then shred the cooked chicken. Set aside.

Heat up some chicken broth. We heated up 2 quarts of chicken broth for 8 people, and that came out right.

Rinse and diced some green onions, maybe 1 green onion per serving.

Shred some Colby jack cheese or have some Cojita cheese ready to sprinkle on top.

Get out the salt and pepper.

Slice up some limes, one slice per serving.

Peel and slice avocados, 1/2 avocado per serving. (We used small avocados.) Slice the avocado in half, then slice the half into slices.

Because this soup is put together right before serving, it is best to have all the ingredients prepared and in front of you on the counter where you are assembling it in bowls.

Here’s the assembly:

Put a scoop of rice (1/2 cup) into a soup bowl.

Add a 1/2 an avocado, sliced.

Put shredded chicken on top.

Sprinkle on the green onions.

Put a lime slice on the side.

Sprinkle or grind salt and pepper on top.

Pour the hot broth over the top.

Sprinkle some cheese on top and serve immediately.



Rank advancements at our house

job chart time card clipboards

“Twelve years old is a rank advancement at our house!” Peter noted cheerfully this morning.

This made me laugh. I saw that he was looking at the little clipboards with job chart time cards on them on the counter.

He continued. “You get money instead of points. You get more play time.”

“More play time?” I questioned.

“Yeah. You said my bedtime would be changed to 10:15 pm when I turned 12!”

“Um, you mean 9:30?”

“You said 10 pm on Friday nights.”

I noticed that the 10:15 was instantly reversed to 10 pm. Hearty internal chuckle there.

Ever since our most recent stake conference when we were counseled to hold family councils, and we got going again holding family councils. We decided to revamp our family housework plan. And start doing dinner prep and clean up in teams!

We changed to doing the Saturday housework as teams, dividing the home up into floors, with one team per floor. Sarah is her own team, since her schedule is the hardest to work with. We chose team leaders, and I created a new chart and “key indicators” for them. We planned to hold one FHE a month to talk about what we’re learning and get any additional training on job doing that I feel is needed.

These changes have brought blessings. But more about that another day!

You know how much I love creating charts. No, seriously, it’s one of my passions in life. Just ask my family. They will wearily agree.

So a new housework plan meant a change in the individual, weekly job expectations, which in turn meant tweaking the time card that the older children turn in to earn their clothing money. (Our older children have to earn the money for their clothing once they turn 12: Pete’s aforementioned rank advancement.) Since I had been re-inventing the younger children’s job chart, I made it similar to the older children’s time card and put them all on clipboards.

Funny, I knew we had clipboards somewhere in the office. I spent an hour looking through piles of music program and family history drawers and boxes to see if I could find them. Bravo! I did! Prayer answered. (I didn’t want to go spend money on clipboards when I already owned some, somewhere!)

And so begins another go at teaching children to learn teamwork, responsibility and self-reliance in our household. I’m excited about the good things that I have seen them do already! The counsel we got in stake conference was inspired. ☺

Note: Why have job charts or time cards at all? We do it based on this truth: “When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates” (see Thomas S. Monson, in Conference Report, Oct. 1970, 107).



All skill

We were playing Rummikub tonight all together when Peter told me, “Do you know that the first two times I played Dad Rummikub I beat him?”

“That was lucky!” I commented.

Peter clarified: “No, it was all skill. Pure skill.”

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“My little boy’s all grown up!”

Nate's district Cerro de Pasco P1050709

Here are two photos of Elder Livi’s district! In this second photo, he is wearing a tie that Anna picked out for him. Looks like the tie came with a matching hankie! Missed that detail when I bought it :).

One of my favorite parts of Elder Livi’s recordings (after getting to hear his voice), is how he always starts out thanking us for things. He has certainly had an opportunity to feel and express gratitude. He received a package and expressed gratitude for what we sent.  He said the other day he was wishing he could listen to some classical music, and then a few days later the package arrived with “Mornings with Mozart” in it, and he was really excited about that. I’M so happy that now he has the long johns I sent, because of the cold. And the protein breakfast shakes!

I remember what a huge blessing it was when my brother sent me a CD by John Rutter called “Te Deum.” I must have listened to that CD a 1,000 times on my mission. I still love that CD. Music is such a wonderful blessing! I’m glad he has access to a CD player, and I’m grateful that he can sing, too. He said that everyone loves the hymn, “Nearer My God to Thee” in the area where he is serving.

Elder Livi shared how he is trying to help his companion learn to be a little more polite, such as not asking women their age or if they are pregnant. He noticed when his companion started going around the room and asking everyone their age, but paused before asking a woman her age, and then didn’t and moved onto another question. Nate felt relieved that he remembered, particularly as the woman did not look like she wanted to provide that information. “My little boy’s all grown up!” he said, in a Mushu voice.

He talked about finding a less-active family who used to be really active until the father had an affair. They visited with them and felt the Spirit as they sang and shared the gospel. They wanted to come back to church, and they have come now for two weeks. Elder Livi  hopes to help their family be reunited, applying repentance and forgiveness.

“Just great stuff all around.”

“I just want to say really quick that I’m just having a great day!”

He cooked pancakes for his companion this morning as transfers in coming up on Wednesday, and he doesn’t know if they will be transferred or not. Nothing like constant change!

We did ask him if he had any altitude sickness, and he said, ‘Nope, I was blessed.”

He ran out of time before I got all my questions answered, including what have they done for fun on Preparation Days. But we got these photos, which is SO AWESOME. I always love to see his smile!


First tulip magnolia bloom

black tulip magnolia bloom

Our new young tree bloomed yesterday for the first time. Rebecca says magnolias are her favorite tree. Now you can see why I planted it!

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Overwhelmed by whipping cream

angel food cakeWe seem to have had a proliferation of funny quotables this weekend. I caught a few of them on paper.

For example, we just sat down to a minimal dinner with a maximal helping of dessert: angel food cake with berries and freshly whipped cream (after some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies made by Anna). Eliza asked Anna if she would like a second helping of cake. “No!” insisted Anna. “I’m overwhelmed by whipping cream!”

Saturday afternoon, Lane and I were eating out at the local grocery store for our date. We hadn’t been able to go out to eat for our date the night before, because Lane was stuck in traffic, arriving half-way through Rebecca’s play, so we decided after our busy day of housework and Scouting that we’d grab some food at the grocery store before I headed to Eliza’s dance recital dress rehearsal. We bought some food from the deli/salad bar. I chose some kale/edamame/blueberry salad.

“I like it!’ I chirped.

“You can’t like it!” Lane protested. “Kale is scratchy! It is like eating a weed! It’s like a weed with thorns!”

“I do like it.” I confirmed. “There are blueberries.”

He refused to believe me, insisting with one last-ditch contestation, “[Kale] is like eating sandpaper, from the desert!”


Saturday, Peter and Lane were repairing some wooden window blinds, or rather, the strip of wood that goes across the front top of the blinds. Anna skipped into the room and saw Pete stapling Velcro to the back of the wood.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Making hippopotamuses,” Lane answered.

Anna giggled, and tried to get a different answer from Pete. “What are you doing?” she asked again.

“Making hippopotamuses,” he parroted.

And now we know why boys are such teases. They get it from their dads!


Repurposing costumes Eliza

Eliza has a dance recital coming up, which means she needs a costume.

I absolutely LOVE Eliza’s dance studio director! She is so practical! She is so realistic! She “gets it” that families don’t have money to dish out for costumes that they will not re-use frequently. So she asks us to pull together what we can. Which is just what we did, thanks to Julia generously sharing her old Halloween costume.

Halloween crew

Once upon a time Julia bought her costume for Halloween at Deseret Industries (a second-hand store). Now she doesn’t fit into it, so she suggested Eliza use it.

We had to cut off the floor-length skirt to re-hem it and rip out the zipper to take in the back a little, which I was doing up until the very last minute when Eliza’s carpool ride came to pick her up this week. Seriously, if I ever were to open up a sewing business, I might call it “The Mad Seamstress,” because I’m always sewing up until the last minute (or after the last minute) to finish dresses and costumes. It’s what I and my mother did on my dresses growing up…like that time my Jr. Prom date was waiting in the front room, and I was waiting in my bedroom, while my mother finished sewing up my gown. Ahem. So it’s totally tradition!

It is just AWESOME not to spend a dime on costumes, particularly when the rest of the year she has to wear an Irish dance dress that cost several hundred dollars (choke!) to buy–used!

And so I sew. So glad I can.


Fast meals: Chicken Fiesta

Chicken Fiesta(Seriously. I am SO not a food photographer. Here’s the lovely, blurry, snapshot of my meal because I simply am not in the business of it. It’s just to give you an idea. Hopefully looking at the photo will not have any adverse affects on your interest in trying this yummy dish!)

We learned how to make this great fast one-pot meal from friends back in Riverton years ago. My friend called it “Chicken Fiesta.” Here’s how you make it:

You dump the following into a crock pot:

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

2 cans corn, drained

1 can salsa

1 can diced tomatoes, drained

2 cans shredded chicken or chicken chunks (or boil/bake and cut up/shred your own chicken)

a small can sliced olives

1 teaspoon (about) minced garlic

some taco or Southwestern seasoning

a little salt

You can also add some fresh cilantro or dried onions or diced onions or whatever else strikes your fancy.

Stir it up and heat. It is ready very fast, but you can make it ahead of time and keep it on the “Then, when you’re ready to eat, pull out some shredded cheese in a bowl (such as cheddar or Colby Jack) and some sliced avocados or guacamole, if you’ve got some, and some heated tortillas. Spread the mixture onto the tortillas and eat.

Serve with something on the side, if you want, such as cucumber spears, sliced apples, or canned peaches.

Cordless Crepe Maker

I REALLY love the cordless, electric crêpe maker that Eliza got for Christmas. We use it all the time to cook tortillas. You don’t have to use oil. You just still a tortilla on the top of the crêpe maker, heat, flip, heat, and serve! It’s really fast, and all you have to do to clean up afterwards is to wipe off the top of the maker, wrap up the cord (there is actually a cord. Not sure why it’s called cordless), and put it away. It’s lightweight and small and GREAT!


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