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Last Friday, Anna wanted homemade rootbeer, Peter wanted homemade doughnuts, and I wanted sloppy joes without ketchup in them.

We made all three, and Anna ended up going to a play and not getting to be home for the rootbeer. Peter headed out to a friends’ home, but came back with friends to eat the doughnuts. Eliza, Lane and I enjoyed all three!

I made the sloppy joes with maybe 2 pounds ground beef, 1 small can of tomato paste, maybe 2 -2 1/2 cups of garden tomatoes that had been roasted in the oven in garlic olive oil and salt and frozen, some Worchestershire sauce (3 tablespoons?), and salt and pepper to taste. Oh! And we added a little lactose-free milk at the end to cut the acidity. (It’s a little trick Liza learned from my dad…or the Italian cookbook he gave her…or both.)

(To roast the tomatoes, Eliza rinsed and peeled some of them, cut them in half, put on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper or aluminum foil, drizzled them garlic olive oil and sprinkled salt over the top. She baked them at 350 ℉ for about an hour, then put them in jumbo cupcake pan cups which had Ziploc bags in them, then froze them in early-usable portions. I used two of those cups.)

I really liked the rich, savory tomato flavor. My friend said they were the best sloppy joes she’d ever had. We ate them on slider buns. Kind of a fun Friday night change of pace!

For the homemade rootbeer, I think we added 3 tablespoons of rootbeer flavoring and less than a cup of sugar to 1 gallon of water. We stirred those up so the sugar could dissolve and then added about 2 pounds of dry ice. (See video on Instagram).

The doughnut recipe came from Taste of Home, and they are about the yummiest homemade doughnut I’ve ever eaten in. my. life.

And just for fun, here’s a little Shakespeare for you (courtesy poetryfoundation.org):

Song of the Witches: “Double, double toil and trouble”

(from Macbeth)
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.
Notes:
Macbeth: IV.i 10-19; 35-38
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Today I began to fulfill one of my dreams, the Raising Amazing Children Friendship Library Project. This project involves sharing books we have loved found inspiring that we want to share with others.

I feel so happy! I feel the same kind of satisfaction I feel when I plant bulbs in the fall and know that some beautiful flowers will bloom in the spring.

I shared 3 books today: a children’s book (Over and Over), a young adult book (Just Mercy), and a mother’s book (The Birth Partner).

Just Mercy

Just Mercy is a powerful book that my family and I listened to as we drove to and from California on fall break. My friend Heidi had recommended it, and I told Sarah about it, who got it on Audible. She told Rebecca about it, who purchased the book and began reading it. They both then told me about it, so I started listening to it on Audible. Then I shared it with the family.

This is not a pleasant story that Mr. Stevenson has to tell, but it is a story that needs to be told and heard. Bryan Stevenson is a lawyer and founded of the Equal Justice Initiative and an advocate for people who have been unjustly incarcerated or sentenced and put on death row. I was astonished to hear some of his stories. They are heartbreaking! It is like learning about slavery for the first time. We could hardly believe that the stories he was recounting were happening in our lifetime.

Our family listened to the unabridged version of Just Mercy, but I decided to share the young adult version because in this version, the difficult stories are described in not such a graphic way as the original story yet still convey what happened.

An historically important book

In my mind, this is a very important book. We need to know the injustices that are happening in our country. I just voted this week, and I will say that I was much more interested in reading about the judges’ evaluations before I voted for them. I want to know what is happening in my city, in my state, in our country to provide justice and mercy as our forefathers intended. We need to ensure that those accused of crimes are presumed innocent and must be proven guilty before they are sentenced for a crime!

We also need to be aware of what is going on in our prison system. And I better understand now why the Savior said to visit those who are in prison. I would like to do that in a few more years when my children are grown and I am more at liberty to become involved in service and causes that I care about.

After listening to this book, I have noticed SO many more scriptural references in my Book of Mormon reading to equality and justice and taking care of the poor and needy–more than I ever have in the numerous times that I’ve read the Book of Mormon through. i know more than ever that the Lord wants us to learn to not judge, to be more compassionate, to help liberate the captive and to bless the lives of those in need.

I was able to attend, with four of our children, Mr. Stevenson’s forum lecture at BYU right after we finished listening to his book. I highly recommend watching it if and when it becomes available or reading the review.

If you receive this book from a friend as part of the RACFLP, we’d love to hear what you think! Please comment below. If you’d like, please tell us in which state or country you live. If the comment form below doesn’t work, you are welcome to email me: liz (at) raisingamazingchildren.com. Thank you!

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Once upon a time I gave birth to Sarah. I had wanted a natural childbirth, but only attended one Lamaze class with Lane. We were young, busy college students and didn’t go back.

One class wasn’t enough preparation to deliver naturally. My water broke, and Sarah was posterior, causing discomfort with the back labor during contractions. After some time, I asked the nurse if I could have something to help with the pain that wasn’t an epidural. She said I could try “Nubain,” a narcotic that caused me to be so sleepy that I could hardly stay awake. I hated it.

Feeling drugged

I was able to deliver Sarah after nearly 8 hours of active labor (including more than 2 hours of pushing). I decided that the way I felt during this birth experience due to the medication was not one I wanted to repeat. I set out to learn more.

I went to the library and checked out whatever I could find on childbirth. I learned about something called a “doula,” or childbirth coach. Then I learned that Lane’s cousin, who was studying to become a midwife, was a doula. We contacted her, and she generously offered to be our doula for free!

Finding a doula

My second childbirth experience was so much more empowering! I had read quite a bit and was more mentally prepared. When Nathan came 9 days late, and my water broke again, I was ready to have Marianne guide me through the experience. She did a phenomenal job helping me with guided visualization and other techniques, and Baby Nate was born about 4 hours later. I left the hospital just 12 hours later, feeling so much better and so much happier!

When I was pregnant with Julia, I hired a doula who helped me through all but one of the rest of my pregnancies and childbirths. (She was out of town for Anna’s birth, but had a wonderful back-up doula that we loved as well.) I also attended natural childbirth classes. Over time, I was able to have 5 natural childbirths. The other two births (my fourth and sixth births) were an emergency C-section and another back labor, that I decided I did NOT want to do without some relief. I had epidurals for both.

Training to become a doula

When I was pregnant with Rebecca, I decided to train to become a doula. That was also a wonderful experience. During that training, I discovered this book, The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin, which I have lent to multiple expectant mothers over the years. It is a wonderful resource to help a woman learn what she can to do have a better birth experience, including how, with the help of another person (husband, doula, friend, etc.) alleviate some of the pain of childbirth and deal with the stress involved in this beautiful yet intense experience.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I am not against epidurals! I just believe that if you don’t need medication, why take the risk and spend hundreds of dollars for something you don’t need?

Learn more; become empowered

Knowledge really is power. I encourage all new (or not new) expectant mothers to learn more about pregnancy and childbirth and actively plan how they can have a positive birth experience. I believe that sharing this book as part of our Friendship Library Project can help more mothers do just that.

If you receive this book from a friend as part of the RACFLP, we’d love to hear what you think! Please comment below. If you’d like, please tell us in which state or country you live. If the comment form below doesn’t work, you are welcome to email me: liz (at) raisingamazingchildren.com. Thank you!

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Over and Over by Charlotte Zolotow

When Lane was a child, his mother read this book to him. I think when we got married and had Sarah, Lane’s mother gave us a copy. It has been read and enjoyed so much that it was falling apart. I was delighted to find a library bound edition to replace it in our home library and got one to share as our flagship book in the Raising Amazing Children Friendship Library Project!

“Once there was a little girl who didn’t understand about time. She was so little that she didn’t know about Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. She certainly didn’t know about January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December. She was so little she didn’t even know summer, winter, autumn, spring.

“What she did know about was all mixed together. She remembered a crocus once, but she didn’t know when. She remembered a snowman and a pumpkin, and a Christmas tree, and a birthday cake, a Thanksgiving dinner and valentines. But they were all mixed up in her mind.”

Told in the simple but beautiful way that Charlotte Zolotow has of telling a child a story, the little girl travels through the celebration of each season and holiday with her family.

We loved reading this story as parents and children because it helped us all remember the sweet feelings that celebrating together brings, and let us look forward to the next celebration that would come.

Note: When the little girl is at the beach, she only has a swim bottom on, as is common in some countries. She is bent over, so that only her back shows. But I wanted to point this out in case it would be a concern to you as a parent to read it. I don’t recall any child saying anything, but if s/he did, I probably would have said, “In some countries, little girls only wear swim bottoms. But in our family, we wear whole piece swimsuits.”

If you receive this book from a friend as part of the RACFLP, we’d love to hear what you think! Please comment below. If you’d like, please tell us in which state or country you live. If the comment form doesn’t work, you are welcome to email me: liz (at) raisingamazingchildren.com. Thank you!

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Do you have to smile when you feel sad?

I substitite taught in a first grade classroom this week. One child asked me why I was smiling. I responded to her question with “Because I’m happy!” She asked me if we have to smile when we are sad, and I told her no.

I love working with children. I love their honesty, I love their energy, I love their happy spirits. But sometimes children aren’t happy, and they don’t know how to deal with their emotions.

Comforting a sad child

I love being able to comfort a child, to help them calm down, to let them know that sometimes we feel sad, and that is OK. I can redirect their attention to feeling sad to something else, and sometimes that simple redirection changes everything for them, and suddenly they forget they were sad and are happy again! (That photo of Rebecca and Julia on ponies at Thanksgiving Point: I don’t remember why Rebecca was so sad, but that little photo kind of breaks my heart!)

I don’t think that as adults we are always all that different from children. I think that distraction is a great blessing, and redirecting our thoughts when we are sad can go a long way to helping us feel happy again.

Hard days for adults

Some days are just hard days, though, and I struggle at times to pull out of the feelings of sadness that seem to accompany a hormonal change or illness or cold, wintry weather. On Sunday a friend asked me if I ever am not smiling. I am, really, the kind of a person who loves to smile. (You can see from that baby photo that it’s who I am!) But yes, there are many days when I feel like crying all day long. It is hard to smile on those days. I wish it weren’t that way, but it just is!

Recently my mother asked me to help her teach a Relief Society lesson in her ward on depression and anxiety. I shared with the women in her class some of the things I have learned from dealing with depression over the years. Depression for me has been something that I have learned to cope with: it isn’t a constant companion, but seems to resurface, like an old cough, from time to time.

Learning to swim: swim tools

I shared with the women how I’ve been learning to lap swim, and that I have different tools that help me develop different abilities as I swim: a pull buoy, a kickboard, hand paddles, and swim fins.

The pull buoy goes between my legs and helps my body to float while I pull through the water with my arms. The purpose, as I understand it, is to help strengthen my arms.

The kickboard, in contrast, helps me focus on my kick, and strengthens my legs when I use it.

The paddles “increase efficiency, create a more consistent feel for the water, help build better swim mechanics, and improve overall strength and technique” (ACTIVE.com).

I love using swim fins (flippers) because as a beginner swimmer, they give me more power and help me keep swimming when I am tired! They propel me forward more quickly, and they help me learn better body position as I swim (learn more here).

13+ tools to deal with feelings of depression

Swim tools are like a few of the practices that I’ve learned that help me avoid or cope with feelings of depression or anxiety. These help me “keep my head above water” both on happy and sad days.

  1. Prayer
  2. Studying the Book of Mormon
  3. Vigorous exercise
  4. Going to bed early and getting up early
  5. Eating whole foods and avoiding sugar (especially at night)
  6. Drinking plenty of water
  7. Talking with a loved one who listens well when I am worried or depressed
  8. Practicing gratitude
  9. Getting sunshine
  10. Working hard and then taking time to do fun things, too
  11. Serving or showing love to someone else
  12. Going to the temple
  13. Reading my patriarchal blessing
  14. Looking back at photos of our family over the years and remembering blessings
  15. Asking for and receiving priesthood blessings
  16. Getting OUT: going on a date with Lane, visiting with a friend, or even just going shopping!

Medication is not something I use currently, but I don’t have anything against it. I am just grateful to be able to manage my emotional and mental health with those tools. If I couldn’t pull out of depression using these skills, I would go to a doctor to get additional medical help.

Those tools are simple, practical, everyday healthy living skills, but they are what help me the most. When I pour out my heart in prayer, for example, I see that God answers my prayers–typically in that same day, in some small or big way. Answers usually come when I exercise my faith and take a step forward toward doing something good to show love for another person or to accomplish something productive. The scriptures help me gain insights or just give me strength to keep moving forward. Exercise is my biggest help. Lately, if I miss exercising for 3 days, it’s like practically a guarantee that I will begin to struggle. Being too sedentary also really creates a challenge, as does dwelling on my concerns too long.

Meditation

One tool I haven’t learned well yet is mediation/deep breathing. I have a goal to learn to meditate and am hoping it will help me get back to sleep on those nights that I wake and struggle to fall back asleep quickly.

Gifts

All these tools are gifts, and I am grateful to know about them so that I can feel like smiling as much as possible. These skills help me turn a frown to a smile, and a sad heart to a happy one. I hope that they will help me turn a weakness into a strength. I don’t have to smile all the time, but I sure feel grateful when I feel like smiling instead of feeling like crying!

(To see other posts I’ve written about dealing with negative emotions, go here.)

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Everyday strong, together

I liked this video and these thoughts that I received from one of our schools today, from United Way of Utah County, that if we can meet the needs of our children, they will thrive. Needs include not only physical, but emotional needs as well.

They suggest asking this one questions everyday:

What can I do to help my child feel safe, connected, and confident today?

Here is the Everyday Strong Resilience booklet that United Way produced that you can download with more information on how to nurture your children to help them feel safe, connected and confident. What a great resource!

And here are some of my thoughts on the topic:

I think that creating a home where the Holy Ghost can dwell helps answer those great questions. If the Holy Ghost is in our home, then there is peace. There is love. People feel loved, calm, safe–all things that help us feel safe, connected, and confident.

The Holy Ghost can be in our home when we are trying to live the gospel of Jesus Christ:

  • Praying together (as a family, parents and child, or siblings, husband and wife)
  • Singing together
  • Eating together
  • Working together
  • Playing together
  • Studying the scriptures together
  • Resolving problems together
  • Serving together
  • Learning together
  • Repenting together
  • Worshipping together
  • Exercising together

I notice that TOGETHER is the key word in all of those activities!

Last night was Family Night, and so we did a little service activity. I noticed that everyone was happier when we came home than when we left. It’s that simple! It didn’t take any preparation except a few texts. We gathered what we had, went and shared and visited, and came home.

I had many individually connecting times this past week that strengthened my relationships with my children and husband and helped us all feel safer, more connected and more confident: going to lunch with Peter; driving up to Salt Lake with Anna to visit Sarah and attend the temple together; swimming and running with Lane; talking together in the car after church with Eliza; going to a musical with Rebecca; going on a date with Lane; listening to and enjoying a song that Peter wrote that he shared with me after school; watching a musical with Peter, Eliza and Lane; crying over the phone to Lane as I encountered a challenge; making homemade rootbeer, sloppy joes, and doughnuts with Eliza; emailing back and forth with Julia from her mission; reading a paper of Nate’s for school; texting back and forth with Sarah about Bryan Stevenson’s book, Just Mercy; chatting with Rebecca on the phone about the future; praying over the phone as a family with Lane when he was out of town.

All of these daily occurrences bring us opportunities to connect, to help each other feel loved and safe. Of course we can do better, but I think the main idea is that when we watch out for each other and interact with love and respect, these kinds of daily occurrences help our children feel safe, connected, and confident. It doesn’t take any special training. We just have to keep trying to be like the Savior in the way we listen, are calm, positive, praising, wait patiently, help gently, assume the best, etc. It’s the Christlike attributes and actions that make all the difference in the world!

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Our family finished memorizing “The Living Christ” document over fall break. Some of us are still getting the words in our heads, and so until December 25, we will be reviewing each paragraph–one paragraph per day–as well as reciting the entire document in 2 week cycles. Here’s the little plan I made to stick on the side of the fridge to help us remember which paragraph we’re reviewing that day. (We now do our morning scripture study during breakfast in the kitchen.)

It is interesting watching children learn the scriptures. Some want to memorize, others don’t really, and so depending on their desire, they try or don’t try to memorize it. That’s OK with me. I’m not trying to force them to do it. I believe that there will be days in the future when the Holy Ghost will bring words and phrases to their remembrance to strengthen them and give them the opportunity to follow the Savior’s example in a many different situation. And so it’s like feeding them good food: I know it will bless them, even if they aren’t super interested. It’s just like any aspect of scripture study: we do it together because we know it’s an inspired habit that will always bless our lives.

In googling the document this morning to make this little chart, I came across one family’s website, Discover the Scriptures, that has some fabulous resources for helping someone memorize this document! Wow! Here is the link to their hard, generous work: http://www.bookofmormondiscovery.com/livingchrist.html. (Or click on the image above of the study materials to go there.) The download they have created is FREE!

I know personally that working every day with my family (and earlier in the year, individually) to memorize this document has been so rewarding. I love reciting together this beautiful description of the life of our Savior, the only perfect person to ever live on earth. His life is eternally inspirational. He is the Only Source of truth, life, light, and love, and it is by Him that we can return to live with our Heavenly Parents after this life. I feel so grateful!

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Fall, family history, and a little pear butter

I love that where I live, you can pass a fruit stand on almost any errand this time of year. So if I’m dropping off a child at a lesson, I can grab some fresh watermelon, peaches, tomatoes, cantaloupe, green beans, corn, or pears (depending on what’s in season) for dinner.

Pear jam or butter?

When the pears show up, it means it’s time to make a batch of pear butter, or as Anna prefers, pear jam! Anna wonders why in the world it would be called butter when it is really just jam….

I’d never tasted pear butter/jam until a number of years ago when our friend gave us some for Christmas. We were sold! With her recipe in hand, we have tried to keep a supply in the freezer for anytime we want a little taste of fall: pear, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, all cooked up into a sweet little taste of heaven.

Today I got to make some with the help of my daughter in law, Hunter. She is so nice and made it so much more fun to make! My mom and aunt stopped by as well. I had been doing some family history today and asked them about their grandmother, Lillian. They told us that she was always well-groomed, not coming out for the day until her hair and make-up was done. She was a very good cook and “meticulous housekeeper.” She was an excellent mother and loved to share family history with her grandchildren. She would tell them they needed to wash their face with soap everynight.

Fudge, divinity, caramel…and healthy fruit drinks

They remember going to spend the night at her home, sleeping on a tall mattress in a 4-poster bed, and learning to make candy at her home, as she was a very good cook. She made delicious fudge, divinity, and caramel, as well as healthy fruit drinks. (I’d love to find those heirloom recipes to get a taste of the past!) She took them on walks before bed as they lived close to the Logan temple. The bedroom they would stay in was “all feminine and lace and doilies and things like that.” She invited them to stay for a week, and they looked forward to it!

I love days like today: making fun memories and hearing about fun memories! That’s what fall is for, don’t you think?

Just a side note

I paid $8.50 for a half box of small pears that were seconds. With that many pears (maybe around 40 small pears), we made enough pear butter to last for a year, with some to share. That’s less than the cost of 2 jars of our favorite jam, “Bonne Maman” brand! (This didn’t include the cost of sugar or pectin, water or electricity, but I already had the sugar–sunk cost–and the bottles. All I had to buy were the pears and the pectin, and a melon baller which we bought to replace our old rusted one.)

Recipe for Pear Butter

Other fall recipes

Other canning recipes

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25 year anniversary trip

Lane and I had a fabulous time on our anniversary trip. It was just what I dreamed of: variety, activity, and beautiful scenery. Paired with simply being with my favorite person/eternal companion, I was in heaven!

We did have a few “hiccups” on our trip, like our lodging not working out that Lane had planned a week’s worth of activities around, and so we switched locations for the rest of our trip. And it turned out to be fabulous! We loved where we went! Victoria B.C. is a simply beautiful location. Heavenly Father answered our prayers for help when we weren’t sure what to do to turn the disappointment into a better memory.

The Boeing Factory in Everett Falls, WA, was one of our first stops on our trip. (Photo credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_Everett_Factory) We were amazed at the size of the building (larger than the Disneyland campus!) and the scope of the enterprise. It is astonishing to think that 6 million parts go into making one airplane. I’m grateful I don’t have to do inventory there. (You have to purchase tickets in advance to go there. Just a heads up…)

Our first night we stayed at Snoqualmie Falls. The waterfalls were gorgeous! We got up early the next morning to watch the sun rise over the falls. We learned that you can hike down to the base of the falls, which we did. The “forest” through which we hiked was so green and lush with such towering trees–I felt like I was walking through a Jurassic Park movie set!

We traveled via car and ferry to Friday Harbor, in the San Juan Islands (Washington state), and loved the views there as well. I love getting to see all these different places the Lord has made!

I have never gone whale watching before: we were grateful to get to see some orcas swimming together! The naturalists aboard our boat took some great photos that they shared with us later.

We enjoyed watching sea planes land and take off from Victoria, B.C.

We had beautiful weather for most of our stay in Victoria, but we were grateful for the rain because they had had so much dryness and fires because of that, that they really needed the rain. Lane got sick with a bad cold the last 4 days of our trip, but it didn’t stop us from enjoying our time together.

We took the ferry from Victoria to Vancouver, B.C., and drove through Langley, B.C. back to Snoqualmie Falls. It was a scenic circle that I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to see some great parts of the Pacific Northwest.

Here are activities we loved: hiking, jogging, reading (I read 1.5 books alone!), walking, shopping, eating, whale watching, biking, taking a sea plane tour, swimming laps, reading a book aloud together, watching a movie and “When Calls the Heart” episodes together, studying scriptures together, discussing goals and future dreams, and going to the Royal Museum in Victoria. We enjoyed the exhibit on Egypt.

We had really wanted but weren’t able to go kayaking and to see the Boutchart Gardens. That’s how trips go: gotta stay flexible!

While we did spend a number of hours in the car, and while Lane was sick, and when we waited for our meals, we read aloud Silent NIght, the autobiography of Sue Thomas. Lane and I love to watch the TV series “Sue Thomas, F.B.Eye” on PureFlix. We learned that the story of her life is far different from the show. Talk about a hard life! Wow! She went completely deaf (nerve deafness) when she was two, and from then on, she underwent incredible challenges, including pain, fear, sorrow, loneliness, struggle, bullying, abuse, financial challenges, academic failure, religious turmoil, obesity and family trauma. She also grew incredibly and saw personal talent development, academic success, friendship, kindness, forgiveness, healing, weight loss, physical fitness, work success, religious discovery, answered prayers, and personal fulfillment.

This book was humbling to read and enlarged my compassion towards her and those who have struggled with pain and difficulty, including those who are dealing with physical, emotional, same-sex attraction, and other personal struggles. It covers lots of serious topics. I would NOT recommend it for young people, although there are some excerpts that would be wonderful to share. Her honesty, faith, determination, and perserverance is truly admirable!

We ate some fabulous meals while on our trip. Here are restaurants we would recommend. Eating out is so expensive! We really splurged for this special trip on some of our meals!

Salish Lodge and Spa (Snoqualmie Falls): The breakfast was amazing! We loved: the hot chocolate with chocolate shavings on top; the “honey from heaven” that is a tradition since 1906, where they pour honey from their own hives on the freshly made biscuits; the waffles with local peaches in season. Our servers were the kindest ever!

Tucker House Bed and Breakfast Inn (Friday Harbor): These guys could write the book on hospitality! We showed up at their place feeling a little “rumpled” after our first experience with the VRBO housing that didn’t work out, and they were so gracious and warm and welcoming! We felt like honored guests! They brought us freshly baked cookies and asked if we had any food allergies and planned a healthy breakfast for us taking special dietary needs into account. It was ALL homemade (including the granola and yogurt) with love and culinary talent. Delicous! Amazing! We were SO impressed!

Mont Royal Bagels (Victoria, B.C.): This is a bagel place that I discovered on my mission in Montreal. We went there on our 15th anniversary and found the bagel place in Montreal and went back again for the temple rededication. We LOVED these bagels and were so excited that they had one on the other side of the continent! Of course we had to come here almost every morning for breakfast. Whole wheat bagels with cinnamon sugar? Um, yes, please!

Rebar Restaurant (Victoria, B.C.): This was a stellar find on our first night in B.C., and we went back again another night for an encore. Their freshly pressed juice was SO GOOD! (We loved the apple, cucumber?, lime, orange? combination. Oh my! I’ve forgotten.) We also had yummy rockfish tacos and monk’s curry. Everything is fresh and homemade with so many healthy choices. Dessert was also worth getting…

Red Fish Blue Fish (Victoria, B.C.): This is a “seaside eatery” which serves up terrific fish and chips and “tacones,” which are tacos in a tortilla wrapped into a cone. I had a great deep-fried yam tacone that had cabbage slaw in it. So yummy!! Lane, who ate a LOT of fish and chips when he lived in England, thought his fare was the best he’s ever had! You do wait a long time in line, but lucky for us, it was a fabulously sunshiny day!

Pagliacci’s (Victoria, B.C.): This fun Italian restaurant is so tiny and cram-packed wall to wall with tables and customers. There is a line out the door and black and white autographed photos on the walls. We enjoyed our spaghetti and meatball and stuffed tortellini, but we also really enjoyed visiting with the young married couple sitting next to us. Of course, we were happy to share our wisdom from being married 25 years! LOL (They were gracious enough to listen to it!)

And here are 2 little tips: If you’re trying to heat up leftovers in a hotel room, try Lane’s method: boil water in an electric coffee pot and stick your leftovers in a mug, placing it carefully in the pot with the boiling water. Comes out piping hot! This was a nice way for us to eat in for Sunday lunch! With a mini fridge in our hotel room, we could save some salad and entrees from too-large serving sizes for another day.

Tip no.2: Bringing along some servings of Grape Nuts cereal in a Ziploc baggie from home made eating breakfast in a hotel quick after we made a little grocery run for yogurt, Lactose-free milk, and bananas. We just got bowls and spoons from room service and washed them out for the next use.

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First day of school

We’ve been in school for three weeks now, but I wanted to write a post about how we celebrate the first day of school.

Clothes shopping

When we go school shopping, we give the children a limited budget (a dollar amount) for one outfit. They can spend all their budget amount on one item or several, but they have to stick within their allotment. They typically wear their new outfit on the first day of school.

Clothing storage

We don’t go out and buy a whole wardrobe because it isn’t practical or cost-effective. The weather is still hot, so the clothes they wore in summer are what they will be wearing for another several weeks, at least. Their birthdays are coming, which is a good time to buy more clothing, if needed. And then Christmas comes, which is another time to get more cold weather clothing. So we ease into things. And we always have used hand-me-downs from our clothing storage. So, with the exception of the oldest children, everyone had clothing to dip into when they grew into the next size!

School supplies storage

I do stock up on school supplies when they are at such good prices. After being in school for so many years with a big family, it’s nice to have supplies  in our “dry storage” room so that we don’t always have to run to Wal-Mart for a poster board at 9 pm when a child remembers they have a report due the next day! I try to buy poster board, glue sticks, science fair boards and other supplies that we tend to go through in bulk when they are on sale. (That doesn’t mean that we still don’t run out! “The best laid plans of mice and men….”)

The best night ever

We have back-to-school father’s blessings. This religious tradition is one of the sweetest of the entire year, and our children love it. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the fathers (who are worthy) have the priesthood authority to give blessings to their children when they are sick or in need of comfort or at special times in their lives, such as starting a new school year. This follows the example the Savior set when he was on earth, and the power and authority of the priesthood that each father holds can be traced directly and literally back to Jesus Christ.

These blessings are when the child receiving the blessing sits in a comfortable chair and Lane places his hands upon the head of that child, speaking the inspired words that come to his mind. (It isn’t appropriate to film blessings or share them publically, so I’m doing my best to describe this special event.) Unless you have experienced this for yourself, it is hard to describe how wonderful it is. It takes a whole evening for the whole family to receive their own blessing, since we stop after each blessing and jot down notes from what we remember. I type up these notes for each child to refer to during the year for comfort and guidance. We do this typically on a Sunday night in the few weeks before school begins.

(Sarah on her first day of kindergarten, July 1999. She was so excited about her Queen Amidala backpack, but maybe not as thrilled about the uniform.)

First day photos

On the first day of school, right after breakfast and scriptures/family prayer, we take a photo of each child. The children are anxious to leave, since they took longer getting ready than typical, so they are rushing to get to school on time! Gotta love that first day zeal!

First night dinner

I love our dinner that first night because everyone gets to tell about their teachers, their classes, and how bored or excited they were, how happy they were to get to have lunch with a certain friend, etc. And I have loved having a quiet day to myself again after the busy summer days!

Back in the [routine] again

I love school starting again, because it always helps to have a routine again. At the same time, I really miss the freedom of no schedules and fun summer activities and family vacation. It just gives us something to look forward to again!

 

 

 

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