Sunday, December 28, 2008

Traditions . . .

Traditions. TRADITIONS! (are you singing with me yet?)

This year was the first time in 6 years that I've been with my parents on Christmas Eve. Since I've been married, we've just done our own thing, and then gone over Christmas Day to spend time with the family. But now that we're a couple of thousand miles away, when we come for Christmas, we spend the whole thing together.

Now, you have to understand, my family has a TON of Christmas traditions. As in like every thing is a tradition. From the special Christmas plates, to the story Mom always tells (that she can't ever really remember so she kind of just makes up, but still cries in all the same places), to the special Christmas Eve treat, it's like every moment is full of memories.

One of my favorite parts is when we turn off all the lights except for the tree. We snuggle up together on the couches, clutching our hot chocolate and toast, and sing Christmas carols. We all get to pick one at a time, and take turns until we can't think of any more. As I listened to the three part harmony we blended together, I realized there was no where else on earth I'd rather be.

So here's to family. Here' s to peace. Here's to the love that filled our place Wednesday night. I hope your night was as memorable as mine. (and since my sister is about the only one that reads this, I guess it was!)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My favorite cookies

This year, we are traveling a couple thousand miles for Christmas. I love still having a private just my nuclear family Christmas, so we are celebrating early, and then again with the extended. Today was our Christmas eve, which we did complete with cookies for Santa. I thought I'd post my FAVORITE sugar cookie recipe, along with the only home made frosting I actually enjoy.

The cookies are more labor intensive than other recipes, but they taste like those awesome bakery ones. I love it!

Alton Brown's Sugar cookies
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough

Directions

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill. Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack. Serve as is or ice as desired. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.


Wilton Buttercream Icing

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 tsp Vanilla (they say Wilton Clear Vanilla Extract)

4 cups sifted confectioner's sugar

2 tablespoons milk

Yield: 3 cups

Cream butter and shortening with electric mixer. Add vanilla. gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep icing covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. Refrigerate leftover icing in airtight container up to 2 weeks; rewhip before using.



Friday, December 5, 2008

I'm an idiot . . .part 2

I probably haven't mentioned it before, but I love to read. As in "I could live without chocolate and oxygen easier than without good books" love to read. I always have a book or three that I'm reading. It's been difficult since moving to Texas to find good books. Too often just as I get into one, smut fills the pages and I have to stop. It's very frustrating.

I found a free e book today (check out http://www.marcialynnmcclure.com/kissingcousins.cfm, sign up for the free newsletter to download.) It's a romance, and a very cheesy romance at that, but it is clean. (ok, so there is a TON of WAY TOO MUCH KISSING, but it never steps over the line from kissing to anything else, and there is no language or anything in it either. It was a fun worthwhile read today for me). It's been rather cold out, and with the homey Christmas tree lights glowing, it was perfect weather for curling up with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate.

Recently I've been re-reading the Anne of Green Gables series. It's been a breath of fresh air. While I love a good Sci-fi, or fantasy, or mystery, there is something so refreshing to go back into time to when life was so simple. So easy, so carefree. I long to really mend clothes, churn my own butter, and memorize poems as a pastime.

So, to set the scene. It's a glorious crisp, bright day outside. The sun is shining merrily through the almost bare tree tops. The Christmas tree is lit up, casting a rosy glow around the room. Christmas carols are playing faintly in the apartment upstairs, adding just enough musical background to make it a truly homey sight. In my hands I hold Anne of the Island, and am down to the last 10 pages - where Anne finally realizes how much she loves Gilbert as he lays almost dying, and they have their beautiful talk and proposal and finally kiss. All is well in my little world as I read . . . .

Um, no. That would be the part where I'm and idiot. You see, I have a 4 year old and a toddler. While sometimes they play well together, often they don't, especially if they see mommy going for a book. They were playing so nicely together that I thought I could just finish up. Instead it took me 45 minutes to read those last 10 pages. In the mean time, I broke up 3 fights, made dinner, changed diapers, cleaned up spills, did 2 time outs, and got extremely frustrated that I couldn't just enjoy my book! But then again, what was I thinking, trying to read the most romantic, sweetest part of the whole book while my kiddos were awake. Really, you'd think I'd have learned by now to just wait until bedtimes.

I eventually finished the story, but it was NOT the same as when I read it as a 12 year old. It could have been close if I could have really gotten into it, but no one could having that many interruptions! Sigh. I'll just have to try again with the next book . . .

Give a ways #3

Today's offering from Momformation is a really fun set of board games. Go check it out (actually, don't because then I'll have a better chance of winning!)

http://blogs.parentcenter.babycenter.com/momformation/2008/12/05/toy-basket-giveaway-from-mattel%E2%80%A6its-family-time/#comment-218780

Will all the idiots please come forward . . .

(#@#%*$&*@*&DBC*&@#@G**@) - this would be the sound of me running to be first in line.

I am an idiot. Seriously. Look at the posting time for this. I should have gone to bed two hours ago, and yet here I am. Obviously not sleeping. Why? Because I AM AN IDIOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think I'm waiting for my hubby to come home. But that's just plain stupid, because he left for a trip today, and won't be home for another 36 hours. Obviously staying awake for 72 hours would not be conducive to mental well being, and yet, I still am not going to bed. I've tried, twice now, and just keep finding other things to do instead.

He's not coming home tonight, no matter how long I stay up for it. And yet, even though I know that, there is part of me that is waiting for it. I thought I was over it (when your hubby is a pilot, you have a lot of these nights to yourself!). Usually it's not this bad anymore. But usually he calls to wish me goodnight and to say prayers together. Which actually he did, but at 5:00. You see, tonight he's in Mexico, and we're too cheap to extend his cell phone coverage to out of country, so he can't call until the morning when he flys back to the US. But since it wasn't at the normal time, my stupid idiotic self is staying awake. I've been quite productive - folded two batches of laundry, done the dishes, almost finished crocheting another baby blanket, caught up on Fox News, . . . . yah. productive. And still, I find myself blogging, after midnight. Just go to bed already!

Nope, it didn't work. Maybe my internet will crash again and then I'll really go.



Crickets again as I sit here like an IDIOT. Ok, this time I'm really going to do it.

Goodnight!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Give a ways #2

I don't know if I need to do a separate entry for each day or not, but today's Momformation toy basket is for little boys, and there is some cool stuff there!

http://blogs.parentcenter.babycenter.com/momformation/2008/12/04/toy-basket-giveaway-from-mattel%E2%80%A6for-the-boys/#comment-218227

Please, someone tell me how to make my links cool!

Give a ways

Lindsay Weiss over at Momformation (babycenter!) is doing some give aways this week. The first one is for a basket of little girl toys. Go check it out - and I get another entry by telling you about it!

http://blogs.parentcenter.babycenter.com/momformation/2008/12/03/toy-basket-giveaway-from-mattel%E2%80%A6this-ones-for-the-girly-girls/#comment-218333

Man I wish I could do cool links!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Why I'm a dork

So one of my favorite shows ever is called Psych. I adore this show. I think part of it is because I get so many of the references (they are both obsessed with the 80's). But there is just something about watching two grown men totally rock out when ever they do something cool. They just freely release their inner geek, and don't care who can see. So here's me doing the same (except no one can really see!)


Things I geek out over (ok, did you get the reference? Yes, it's incredibles. This is a line I completely did not understand, until I did something that could only be described as "geeking out over it" and now I get it).


Where I live, the roads instead of having printed dashes for lanes, most have these rather large reflective buttons (they look kind of like the "easy" button, but white) There will be like four close together, then a gap, then four more - just like the paint, but way bumpier. One of my goals, every time I drive somewhere, is to change lanes. just. right. so I slide between the bumps instead of going over them. My record: 3 in a row. And every time I succeed I totally wig out just like Shawn. I suppose you could call this an upgrade: I grew up in a fairly rural area. If no one else was on the road on a sunny day, I would follow the shadows the phone lines made on the road - swaying back and forth. I so thought this was cool, but of course, never did it if anyone could see. I mean, really, you look so drunk when you swerve like that!


Just this morning I saw another number on the scale I have't seen in more than 5 years. I was literally jumping up and down in the bathroom with excitement. I was dancing, and just geeking out - when I turned, and looked at myself in the mirror. Wow, that's a wake up call for you. Try it: do something stupid you've done before in front of a large mirror. Wow, we really are all dorks, aren't we!

I was recently invited to be in a test kitchen for a book, and yes, I totally geeked out over it (really, this was the first time I've ever geeked out over anything!) I wanted to tell the whole world, but had to wait until I had permission. - which was like a month ago, which was also when I first started writing this post and then forgot about it!

I sometimes pretend I'm British. Just for my family, but still . . .

I'm sure there are a million more (Leah, want to suggest any?), but that's all I can think of off the top of my head. So just know, I really am a dork. But I can pretend I'm cool, so I guess it all works out!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Weighty matters part 2

Just thought I'd give you guys a heads up on the weight battle: as of this morning, I'm down 14 pounds! There's just one problem: I don't feel it.

I was totally feeling it 3 weeks ago. All of my clothes felt looser. I was fitting in some things I haven't worn for years. I thought I was looking good. But now. . .I feel like I always have. The number on the scale, instead of sounding astounding, looks too big again. It seems so unbelievable that I really was so big, so the numbers up there now are my new big.

I know what a big part of this problem is: I've been sick for the last 3 weeks. I haven't been exercising much, since any aerobic makes me cough up a lung, and the other stuff just doesn't feel like real exercising. I'm one of those people that feels like if I'm not sweating and panting, I'm not really working (I know it's not true, and my body's stiff the next day, so I know it does work, but still). I'm at my high school weight (I think. I'm waiting until I go to my mom's and use her super accurate scale to be for sure). Loosing one pound will put me in another 10's digit, one I haven't seen since a few months after my wedding. I just need to get my brain in gear, and start feeling great about my success!

My Mommy face

Do you remember that commercial from way back when? It started with a wife sitting at the breakfast table. The husband comes in.
"How could you?" She asks in horror. "Did you think I wouldn't find out?"
The husband looks worried and starts apologizing for EVERYTHING
"I'm sorry I lost my job, but I promise I'll look for another one soon"
"But Honey, a cubic zirconia looks just like a real diamond"
"Is this about the time I spent in prison?"
The wife just looks on . . ."You used the last of the milk"

I don't know why, but I remembered this commercial in the shower this morning (have you ever noticed some of your best thinking happens in the shower? At least for me anyway.) I need a Mommy Look like that. The wife doesn't need to say anything, and all sorts of confessions come pouring out of the guy's mouth. Ok, I'm glad my hubby doesn't need to confess anything that bad, but I love the idea of just looking. . . . My voice has been WAY TOO LOUD around here lately. The hormones have been a rampaging (thank heavens a certain aunt finally showed up so life can get back to normal!), kids have been couped up with sickness, and everyone has been on edge. I need to cultivate more looking and less yelling. That whole gentle persuasion thing has been waaaaaay beyond me.

Ok, I feel better now that I've confessed. Today is my day to be a better person!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bleck!

When I went shopping a few days ago, I remembered all the baking I'll be doing in the next few weeks. Fortunately, chocolate chips were on sale so I picked up a few bags. It wasn't until I got home that I realized one of the bags was "sugar free". Yuck! I thought. Who wants sugar free chocolate (unless you're diabetic, or something, in which case I'm glad they make these for you!) I just opened the bag today, and I was right. They are nasty! They do have some artificial sweeteners in there, but to me it tastes a lot like bittersweet chocolate. I know the more bitter the chocolate, the better it is for you, but I was raised on 100% milk chocolate, and to me, anything more bitter than that just isn't worth the calories!

Friday, November 21, 2008

My killer deal of the day


Can I just share: apples are one of my favorites. I grew up with a mini orchard of red delicious apples. If you've never had a freshly picked red delicious apple, you are missing something. They are nothing like the waxy mushy apples you get in the store. Alas, now I live a couple thousand miles away from that goodness, so I've needed something different. I've discovered that I have two favorite kinds: Fuji's and Gala's. Fuji's I believe to be superior, but also much more expensive. As a result, we eat almost exclusively, gala apples.

So almost a month ago, Albertson's had gala apples for only 88 cents. Now that's a killer deal. I waited a few days (ok, I waited until the paycheck came) and went to get my apples. I walked in to the produce department. Right as you walked in, there was this large display. It was covered in happy Halloweeny paper, surrounded by nasty prepackaged fake caramel stuff, you know, the whole schebang. Only there was a small problem: not a single apple was visible. I looked around, hoping there was another display, but they were sold out. I asked the produce guy, who told me I could get a rain check, since they had more in the warehouse, and should be getting another shipment any day. I've never gotten a rain check before, but at the rate my family eats apples, this one was worth it.

The rain check was good for 30 days. A few days ago I found it (again) when I was cleaning out my purse. I realized I only had a week left, and thought I'd better go buy some before I spent that $10 on something else! This morning I bundled up the kids (it was a glorious 42 degrees this morning!), put them in the stroller, and walked over.

The apples were beautiful. An overflowing selection greeted me. I let the kids help me pick some out. Soon we had two of those flimsy bags stuffed full. At 9.68 lbs, it was a bit short of the 10 I was planning on, but I didn't want to spend more than that $10 bill I had.

We go to check out. The cashier looks at the rain check like she's never seen such a thing. I even hear her mutter "do we do these?" She tries a couple of different options, even charging me 88 cents for the whole lot. Finally she calls a manager over. The manager is also a bit lost. Apparently they don't get many rain checks for produce. Since they only have 1 register open, the line keeps getting longer and longer behind me. Finally, I honestly think she just estimated in her head what it should cost. She rang one bag up for $3.00, and the other bag for $3.50, and I left. I knew they had tried everything, so I wasn't going to fight them over undercharging me so much. When I got home, I added it up: it works out to be $.67 a pound. Man, I really wish I would have gotten 15 lbs!

Picture: my crisper drawer full of apples. Isn't it a beautiful sight! And in case you were wondering, I am feeling a bit better. Still have a nasty cough, runny nose, etc, but I'm not ready to die anymore!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mini Muffin tin Advent Calendar

Last weekend I helped with our ward's Super Saturday, this was one of the projects I was in charge of. Since I had such a hard time finding instructions for it, I thought I'd share how I made this one.
Supplies:
* Various Chistmasy scrapbook paper. (I used three different colors, and I got them from Hobby Lobby if you want the same paper. The red and green are both 12 x 12, the polka dot is 8 1/2 x 11)
* Black card stock (either 8 1/2 x 11 or 12x12 will work)
* Magnet tape (the kind that is sticky on one side. You want one that is moderately strong; we used one that was rated a 3 on a scale of 1-10)
* mini muffin tin (you can use one you already have, since you will still be able to use this throughout the year for cooking. If not, Walmart right now has them for $4.50)
*Numbers. I just typed them up and changed to cool different fonts. This part actually took the longest when I was designing mine, because I had to actually decide what each square was going to look like.
* embellishments: I used some tags (about $2 for like a 100 at walmart), some jute, some black and white ribbons I had laying around, some little buttons I also had laying around, and a package of seriously cute holiday buttons from Hobby Lobby for about $2. - you won't use the whole package.)
* 1 yard ribbon to hang the whole thing up if you want to.

Also: a paper cutter (mine's a cheap one from Hobby Lobby for $7), glue stick, and either Elmer's or glue dots (which are easier to use, but more expensive), and some good old patience.

If you buy everything, you will actually have enough stuff to make up about 3 of these, which would be a very cute early Christmas present.

First step: decide if you want to hang this up or not. If you don't, that's by far easier. Some in our group decided to glue super strong magnets to the back and hang this on the fridge. I decided to drill holes in mine. I used a bit that looked like this:

Don't ask me what kind of bit this is. It's a flattish 1/2 inch bit that fits in either a drill or a drill press. We used a drill. Here's how to do it if you're by yourself and don't have any clamps. Find a block of wood to go under the muffin tin. It needs to be thin enough to fit next to the cup part of the tin without lifting the edges. Ok, actually we couldn't find the right size, but I did use a scrap 2x4 for the drilling into part, and I also had a 1/2 inch slab that I balanced the rest of the tin on, like this:


Decide how far apart you want your holes, and mark with an x. Then set up the tin on the floor next to the wall. You're going to stand on the tin, and push it into the wall to help stabilize it. The just put the point in the middle of the x, start the drill and push hard. Just a note, if you end up drilling like 10 of these, the bit will get rather dull. It still works, but it also heats up the metal enough to leave burn marks in the wood. You do want to drill from the front, since it will leave a little jagged part.

Next, cut the black card stock into 2 1/4 inch squares. Cut the colored papers into 1 7/8 inch squares. Glue everything together with the glue stick. Embellish to your heart's content. The holiday buttons you can snip the posts off the back with a pair of fingernail clippers. When you're done, cut little squares from the magnet tape and stick one square on each corner of the black square. Fill the cups with treats/scripture quotes/etc, and cover with the squares. Thread the ribbon through the holes and tie a cute knot or bow at the top. And that's it. I'd also post the number sheet, but I did use some digital scrapbook numbers, and I'm not allowed to share those.

If you want to use the muffin tin throughout the year as a muffin tin, just put the numbers somewhere safe, and untie the ribbon.

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My name:

Ok, so someone asked on a previous post if my name really was Laree. Having no way to contact her (Hi Janelle in case you ever look at this again!), I started on a really long comment. Half way through, I realized this was getting marathon in length, and decided to just to a post on it (even though I still feel lousy. I know, you're all rubbing your fingers together for the world's tiniest violin)
Janelle,

Yes, Laree really is my name. People always spell it LaRee, but my Dad was anti two capital letters According to a facebook app, that scans the latest census records, there's about 1500 Laree's in the nation. I've met about 5 myself . . . The first Laree I ever met was about 98 and in a nursing home. I think she was about 4 foot 3, and was in the tiniest little wheel chair. I don't think she understood me when I told her that was my name too, but she did ask if she could sing me a song. In a very broken monotone voice she began "Jesus wants me for a Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn Beam!" It was very cute.

Since then, I've met several people with Laree/LaRee as a middle name. There is a little 18month old in my ward (that's a congregation in my religion) with the same name. It makes me very happy to talk to her.

Most people have ever never heard of my name, or they had a great aunt Laree. Apparently it was pseudo popular around 1900. I've always really like it. It's unique (and in a family of 8 kids with 7 girls, unique was always something I was looking for.) People either instantly remember it because it's unique, or they can NEVER remember it because it's unique.

In case you were wondering, actually all 8 kids have L names. Yup, we were one of those crazy families. Something I was determined to not do to my kids. I remember when we were young, and we'd play computer games. Back then memory was scarce for computers, so most high scores you could only list your initials. None of the girls had middle names, so the whole list was "LN" it bugged. But really, I'm over it now.

Ok, now I get to go lay down and die again. Really, I'm done today

Um, can we say obsessed?

Ok, so even though I'm super sick, I'm also super sick of the blah background on my blog. So I thought I'd change it up with "cutest blog on the block" I really love their selections.

But really people. On their homepage, you can now make your background Twilight themed, so Edward Cullen's face is plastered all over.

Now, I enjoyed the books (but also had some major problems with them . . .) but I'm really not into plastering someone else's face over my blog. That just seems so, dumb. But I'm sure they've had a lot of takers, 'cause some people are . . . Ok, I'll just take my foot out of my mouth and stop there

Sick, Sick, Sick

I am sick. Seriously. I'm so sick I'm ready to just lay down on my bed and never rise again. Death sounds so much more appealing right now that life. To just escape to somewhere where I'll never hack up a lung again, never have a nose so full of . . . yah, so full that you can't breathe, yet it is still just running and running and running.

So sick.

Not to mention that my head is pounding, my abs are sore, my throat is sore, all from that constant hacking that doesn't even feel like it's productive at all, since .5 seconds later you're hacking again.

Ugh.

Ok, maybe I'm a baby. Ok, so I know I'm being a baby. But seriously. I don't ever remember having a cold that made me feel quite this miserable. "Cold" just doesn't seem and adequate word for it. "Death warmed over" would be closer. All I want to do is curl up on the couch with a warm blanket, an endless mug of hot chocolate, and 48 hours worth of chick flicks. Instead I'm just being a slacker mom, with my kids eating cereal for two meals a day (hey, they requested it), and we're watching 48 hours worth of kid flicks, while I contemplate dieing instead of being a human. So don't expect anything profound from me for a bit. My brain has left the building.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What we're watching: Expelled

Hubby and I watched Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed last night. It was a fascinating, disturbing experience. The basis of the film is that in science of all places, politics is squashing questions. Seriously. The idea that science won't allow certain questions to be asked. . . .Isn't that the idea OF science? To question everything in order to better understand?

Here's a fact: evolution is a theory. It is presented as fact and law, but there MANY many holes in it. For example, it only starts after the first cell is already present. It cannot explain how the first cell got there.

But anyone that wants to put something else forward will be blacklisted. Literally. The documentary Chronicles several examples of this. The alternative to Darwinism is "Intelligent Design". Many have called this movement "trumped up creationism". While it has a few themes similar to creationism, it is actually very different. The basis of intelligent design, is not to prove that there is 1 certain God, or even that there is a God at all. It is simply that life is too complex to be completely explained by evolution or natural selection. It is the idea that there is proof (they say) that there is a "design" behind life, and that it is an "intelligent design" that started it. Think of it like a "god" but not necessarily a "God".

I felt the film was brilliant. Many of the ideas put forth I had never considered, but rang true. On of the frustrating things about evolution, is it in turns leads to atheism. To remove any purpose of life, also removes any personal responsibility for actions ("eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die and that is the end of it"). It removes good and evil because it turns everything into just instinct.

The most telling example of this was the link to Darwinism and the Natzis.

I recommend this to everyone. If the science community is refusing to let people ask questions, who can we trust?

Stomp: an awesome experiance

Yesterday my sister and a few friends came up for a short visit. The plan was for all of them to attend a performance of Stomp. Much to my joy, one of the girls canceled last minute. Since they now had an extra ticket, and I had a willing husband to watch the kids, I got to go to.

It was like a dream come true.

Seriously. I've wanted to go see Stomp since I was in High School. They are flippin' awesome! Apparently they've done the same show for like 15 years, and after this year they are retiring the show and will start something else.

For those in the audience that are not familiar with Stomp, basically they are a percussion band (and by definition, percussion instruments are ones that you hit), that use real life items for their songs. For example: the show started with an amazing number where the whole group was pushing brooms. Seriously. They push their brooms in alternating rhythms, adding in the occasional bang from the broom handle, or stomp of the foot. The next number was done with boxes of matches. There was one with folding metal chairs, with lighters, with flexible pipes. You name it, they can make a song out of it. And as they are doing all this baning around, they are also dancing, climbing, jumping, all over the stage. For almost 2 hours they did this, with out stopping.

I expected the show to be musically awesome. I expected it to be visually astounding. I did not expect the humor. The whole audience was laughing.

My sister and I spent the entire time with huge grins plastered to our face. I also spent a considerable portion just shaking my head in amazement. The incredible talent displayed by these people was astounding. The rhythms they produced literally banging on pots and pans - I just can't come up with enough words. So I'll sum up the whole experience with one word.

Wow.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Oh, a mom's day

Ok, not that I really agree with this movie TODAY ('cause today my kids were perfect angels, and life is awesome!), I have SO had days that I've needed this. Watch, laugh, enjoy. It rather rocks.


The Mom Song- LIVE from Northland Video on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I guess my city is cool . . .

Ok, so I think the name of this site is quite telling. If you look at the url, you'll notice it's Euless not Useless. Because, honestly, that's kind of the way I feel about my city. I haven't lived here that long, but there really isn't anything here. Most of the city is just houses and 18 million apartments (I have no idea if that's an exaggeration, but it feels like at least that many). To do anything, you have to go to another city, but that's not saying much since Euless is like 1.2 miles square anyway. But I guess I'm going to have to change my tune.

According to this article in Business week ( http://images.businessweek.com/ss/08/11/1110_best_places_for_kids/index.htm?campaign_id=yahoo) , Euless is the best city to raise a family in the entire state of Texas. That's a large order to fill people. I mean, this isn't Rhode Island here people, we're talking about in all 293 counties, I happen to live in the best city.

Wow, maybe I should start being happy about those 18 million apartments. 'cause I won't be buying a house around here soon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Today . . .

Ok, so this is me slapping myself for not posting more! I'm never going to make that "cool blogger" status if I never blog! I've been letting life happen instead - oh well!
I had great plans for a touching post for today, but of course, it never happened. So here's my little bit:

There are not adequate words to describe my gratitude to those who have served in the military for me. I have never had to, and I appreciate that very much. I know that all we have is due in part to the hard work of our men and women that serve their time. I have family in the military, have had friends serve and die, and I respect their time and service. There is no other country on the earth that gives us the freedoms we have. We are so blessed that those freedoms are willingly protected by a volunteer force that is willing to die for them - even for those who don't support the military or the freedoms they enjoy. So thank you. Thank you for all you do for me and my family.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A first for me

I watched the last presidential debate last night. I must say, while it was better than the previous two, I still did way too much muttering under my breath at the screen. Why can't politicians just answer questions? Even when they say they'll straight talk, they dance and use smoke screens instead. And really, must we badmouth the current president any more? Yes, he's made some bad choices, but he's also tackled topics that generations of politicians refused to touch. He was the best man for the job at the time. His time is almost up. Why don't we leave him alone?

When President Bush's approval rating started dropping rapidly earlier this summer, I gave serious thought to writing him a letter thanking him for all the good he has done. I didn't do it. I've thought about it several times since then, but haven't done it. Last night pushed me over the edge, and I wrote that letter. I just wanted to thank him for doing what was right over what was popular. (I'm not naive. I know he'll never see it, but I still feel better having made the effort.)

Have you ever written a politician? My Hubby does this at least once a month (he even called twice over the recent bailout bill), but I'd never done it. Would you care too? You can find the contact info for the White House here:http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/ Try it. It felt pretty good.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Halloween fun

When my daughter was 2, her older cousin handed -me-down (is that a verb?) a set of pumpkin sweats. My girl wore them for about 18 months, and then we passed it down to my son. He just outgrew the set, and both of them have been asking for pumpkin shirts for over a month now.

A few weeks ago, we got the October issue of Family Fun, where on the cover, they made pumpkin shirts! I finally got around to buying fabric dye this morning and here's the result:

Girly-Lou-Who showing hers off:

Then Buddy wanted in on the action:

(Shh . . .don't tell anyone. It wasn't until after I got them dyed that I realized I had grabbed a girl's shirt for my Buddy. But he'll never know the difference, right?)

Very fun to do. Here's a link for the instructions:

http://jas.familyfun.go.com/crafts?page=CraftDisplay&craftid=12054

Tips:

I wanted to just do just one large pumpkin face in the middle, but foolishly let them pick -they picked the much more labor intensive little faces. So don't let them pick, just tell them what you're doing!

I got shirts the shirts that have the silk screened tags, and the dye didn't work very well on that part, so they have white streaks on the back where the tag is. Just FYI!

Weighty matters

So I've been overweight most of my life. It started when I was in about 4th grade, and I was convinced I was fat. (Yes, it started with some very external stimuli, but I'm not in the mood to point fingers, thank you very much) Let's get this straight - I was not fat. But I wasn't the scrawny kid I had been just the summer before. I started developing curves (we're early bloomers in my family). I had a shape, and I was led to believe that I shouldn't. So I started dieting. Yes, as a 10 year old, I started a diet. NO, this is NOT a smart idea!

Anyway, by the time I graduated from High School, I had dieted my way to 172 lbs. I tried to loose it, really I did. Ok, let's be honest, I THOUGHT I was trying to loose it. But I wasn't really trying.

2 years later, I joined Weight Watchers. It was great. I lost 25 lbs in just over a year. I look back at those pictures and realize just how great I looked, but I thought that I was still very large. And then I plateaued. Big time. For 6 months I gained and lost the exact same 5 lbs. Money got tight, and I stopped going. I moved out of home, and gained 15 back.

I was 160 when I got married. I gained 12 lbs, got pregnant, gained WAY too much, got pregnant again, moved across the country, and gained WAY too much again.

So here I was, fat, and hating it. But too full of excuses to do anything. I thought I was doing something about it, but the scale wasn't really moving (just like high school, I only thought I was doing something.) Last year I managed to loos 10 lbs, and felt much better. But it wasn't moving further.

Then 3 weeks ago, I had a breakthrough. It was a combination of several things: I had a sister loose a LOT of weight, who looked amazing. Then ANOTHER sister started loosing it too. I read a book that could have paralleled me, and she lost 40 lbs. And then I went to Church.

(some preface here: I KNOW that there is a God. I know he has a plan for us that started before this earth began, and goes on after this earth will end. We existed before this life as spirits with Him, and progressed as far as we could as spirits until we were given the chance to come here and get bodies. ok, you can totally disagree with me. It's my faith and I'm making no excuses here for it!)

At church, I made a comment. It was one of those times that you start speaking and realized as you are talking that what you are saying is really true. I basically said that little parenthetical paragraph up there, and then added that part of the point of this life is to gain control over these bodies we have been given. And until we gain control of all our impulses, appetites, desires, etc. We can't really progress to where we want to be.
It was a big light bulb moment. I had been full of excuses and reasons for why I looked like I did "My parents made me clean my plate as a kids so I don't know when to stop" "I can't afford Weight Watchers, but when I can THEN I'll loose it" or "I'm such a stress eater" but they are just excuses. Even reasons for why I got this way, but I am the reason I've stayed this way.

So, I'm stopping. I am actually doing something about it. The next day, after that Sunday, I actually ran. I thought it was 1/2 mile until I finished running (it was only 3 minutes, and I'm not that fast) I clocked it later, and it was .3 miles. But it was a start. I figured out how far 1/2 a mile was, and have been running that far when my hubby is home in the mornings, plus 1 1/2 mile walk after. On the mornings he's gone, I have a 3mile walking tape I do.

And this morning I actually ran a full mile. I haven't done that since 9th grade P.E.
It's working. In the 23 days since I started, I've lost 6.5 lbs. It's not huge, but I'm in a different tens place, a digit I haven't seen for over 4 years. If I keep this rate (I lost 4 lbs the first week, and have lost 1 a week since then), by Christmas, I'll be back at my HS weight. If I slow down then, and do .5 lbs a week, by the time my 10 year HS reunion rolls around next summer I'll be back at that skinny 145.

And even if I don't make that, I still feel better than I have for years.
So that's my story. I don't know if it will help anyone. Hunger is ok (I'm learning). Running isn't as bad as I've always thought it was. And no one is keeping anyone from change except for yourself. So I say, and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My name

So I've always loved my name. Laree. It's different. It's unique. People have either never heard of it, or they had a great Aunt with the same name (apparently it was pseudo popular around 1910). People either instantly remember it because they've never heard it, or they can NEVER remember it because they've never heard of it. In fact, you are probably saying it wrong in your head (if you want to know, it's La Ree to say it right)

My problem with my name - I've always wanted a cool nickname.

Ok, maybe not a "cool" one, but just a good one. Something easy, something simple. Like my friend Emily, who would go by Em, or Katie becomes Kate. But try to shorten my name - La. Oh yah. That's great (not!). Or even Ree (um, no.) And did you ever do the name game song? Try it with mine. Laree Ba dee, Fe Fi Fo Fee, Me My Mo Mee. It's like it's missing a syllable or two.

Oh the trauma of life.
I know, I should be worried about real problems - death, taxes, and all that jazz. Don't worry, I am. But right now the whole name thing is bugging me. I can come up with silly nicknames for my kids (my girl will now be known as girly-Lou-who, my boy has to be Buddy, my hubby gets to be . . .Hubby), but I try to come up with something fun and anonymous for myself and get crickets. Try a few options, more crickets. Nothing. Creativity has fled the building (did you hear the one about creativity being like Elvis - often talked about, dreamed about, occasionally sited, but never in reality?)

So, instead of being all cool like that, you just get me. Laree. Fe fi fo fee. Let's see if you can remember that one.

New beginings

So for a while now, I have wanted somewhere to write. I want to write fun things, things that aren't always personal, things that strangers would get a kick out of reading. I dream of being cool enough to be a "finslippy", "MommySnark" or the creme-de-la-creme, a "Momformation" mommy.

Yah, I'm not that cool yet. (and I obviously don't know french!)

On MommySnark, she talked about how BlogHer is now accepting more blogs. Perfect! I can go start a new blog, be all cool and anonymous, and save the personal sappy stuff for the family blog. So I check it out. Dang. The blogs have to be 90 old. So I guess that won't work. OR will it? After all, my account is that old, would that work? I don't know. I think I'll try. The worst that could happen is they deny my request, right? Crush all my hopes and dreams of being cool.

Anyway, even if I'm not allowed to be cool like that, I think I need this. I need a place to write my pretend coolness down. Honestly, I read the cool bloggers, and start narrating my day just like I was one of them. I think of silly nicknames to label my kids so they stay private. Weird ideas float to the surface of post I could do - I've even had dreams about different things to say. No, I'm not obsessed. At least that's my claim and I'm sticking to it!


So here we go. Here's my craziness. All in one spot. At least something in my life can be.

PS. after posting this I realized I totally should have linked to those blogs. I know, a way bad "Duh" moment, but here we go: http://www.finslippy.com/ http://www.mommysnark.blogspot.com/
and
http://blogs.parentcenter.babycenter.com/momformation/ where I like to read Besty Shaw, Patricia Burns, and pretty much everyone else too!. If I was really cool, I would have a clue how to make their names uptop links, but I have no idea how to link a word to a site, I just know how to copy/paste. Maybe someday, when I get to be cool, and other people actually start reading this, someone will comment and tell me how. Until then, I'll just keep faking it.
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