Wednesday, October 29, 2008

100th Post!

I feel like this should be a momentous occasion! I feel like I should be blogging about something insightful and beautiful! It's kind of like when you hear 'caller number 7' win $1000 in gas money, and you hope that he's really worthy of such a gift. You hope caller number 7 will value that $1000 as much as caller number 6 or 8 would have, had they received it. You hope caller number 7 is not some unappreciative soul that feels a sense of entitlement from the world and who has a bank account already holding millions of dollars. And you listen to his reaction to the gift and try to discern for yourself whether or not you think he deserves it. (You all do this, right?!)

Well, I suppose I kind of feel like that with this 100th post. I'd like this post to have some confidence and excitement about this, and I'd like to give it something that will make it feel deserving of such a title. But, since I just realized that I had 99 posts about 5 minutes ago, I don't have much! I suppose there is something sort of historical that has happened in my blogging world, though: I have changed my blog title. I'm not sure if that's taboo or not, but I've done it anyway. :)

My blog title used to be "All We Ever Need is Right Here!". This name was not just an arbitrary name chosen to deceive others into thinking our family life is perfectly content and full of sunshine. It was, instead, a sentence that came out as I was writing in my journal 3 years ago after I'd given birth to our stillborn son. Instead of an exclamation point at the end of the sentence in my journal, however, it was a period. A period of boldness and seriousness. (I changed it for my blog so it would appear a little more light-hearted.) It was during these dark moments of my life that I realized that everything I really need is within the walls of my own home. My husband was my rock - showing enough tears to be human, and enough strength to pull me along. He was my shoulder to cry on - and on - and on - and on. My daughter was my little sunspot - forcing me to get out of bed, to smile, and to laugh again. And my Heavenly Father (who played the most important role) was there to comfort me through his Spirit and reassure me that everything would eventually be all right. 'All we ever need is right here' became the sentence I latched on to...the one I think about when I'm disturbed by some outside problem...the one I always want to remember...

So, why did I change it? Because I've found something new to latch onto. I will take the previous sentence and tuck it gently into a comfortable, padded room called 'things that mean the most to me'. And I will pull a new sentence out...something that will hopefully develop a different side of my personality...

'Turning Tomorrow into Yesterday". This name is not just an arbitrary name chosen to sound philosophical and analytical. It is, instead, a thought that came from my little preschooler on our way to school. She asked, "Do you remember when yesterday was tomorrow?" My mind turned the statement upside-down and I thought to myself, "Yes...and soon tomorrow will be yesterday as well." I couldn't get these thoughts from my mind for 3 whole days as I turned the words around and around and around, analyzing it from every perspective imaginable. A family motto is forming around these ideas as I've realized how important it is to spend each day creating positive memories that will last into tomorrow. I feel like I waste so many hours of a day...whether I'm vacuuming mindlessly, reading to my kids with no emotion, watching a dumb TV show, or sifting through pictures on my computer without letting them touch and remind me of the experiences they came from. I think that, maybe, each experience can be an enriching one - one that will make memories and/or teach life lessons. President Monson quoted a grandmother who said of her young mothering life "I wish I had enjoyed the doing a little more, and the getting it done a little less." I guess this is what I want for my family as well. To enjoy doing things...and to always remember that we are, right now, turning tomorrow into yesterday.

And so, in my 100th post, I officially change my blog name from 'All We Ever Need is Right Here!' to 'Turning Tomorrow into Yesterday".

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sisters. Friends.

*I guess the settings were a little weird on my camera when this picture was we're a little red and shiny. :) But, it's the only one I have of just the two of us!*

It was funny, while my sister was here, to hear all of the comments that had something to do with the fact that we look alike. Funny because we don't really see it - yet it must be true. Even studying this picture above, I don't see it as clearly as everyone else seems to. Maybe it has more to do with our personalities and facial expressions than the hard-core visual evidence...I guess I don't really know what I look like when I'm talking and interacting with other people (I only sometimes practice conversations in the mirror.....), maybe I look a lot like Michelle. It's hard to fathom, though, because as we were growing up, I was AT LEAST a foot and a half taller than her (two feet? three feet?), ganglier (oh, the long arms!), very blond vs. deep brunette, and we were never taken for look-alikes (except when we were very young and my mom would dress us in matching clothes...). I've always loved the fact that we're only 16 months apart...and now that we're 25 and 26, those few months seem negligible. It makes me excited for when my brother comes home from his mission, and my 18-year old sister comes home from Thailand...I love the new relationships that are forming - changing from 'siblings' into 'friends.' Wow, I think I could write a whole post about this...but that's not what I came here to write about, plus, I feel like I'm rambling - so I'll get back to my sister's visit!

My kids were so in love with her because she played and played and played with them. After we got home from the beach, we only had a couple more days with her before she flew back to Utah. So, we spent them playing around the house, visiting the museum, going to church, and showing her the big toys at SouthPoint mall. It was sad to see her go, but we hope she'll come to her senses and move out here to North Carolina real soon. :)

Here are some of my favorite pictures of her while she was visiting. (I can't help think to myself, 'It sure would be nice if I looked just like her!' )

More favorites:

Come back soon, Michelle! We love you!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Caged Aquatic Life

On our way home from the beach, my beautiful sister, Michelle, treated us to the aquarium. It was really awesome - though I wished I had a better camera...I wasn't able to get any good pictures of the actual creatures. :)

You may notice in the bottom left hand corner of this picture there is a little blue sign. That sign says "Please do not sit or climb on the alligator." Whoops. I didn't actually see that until after I took the photo. I thought the kids looked pretty cute in it, anyway.

We got to pet sting-rays...slightly disgusting.

You know, ever since we returned home from our beach trip, I've been contemplating and analyzing my oceanic fears. And I've realized something - I don't think I'm really scared of ocean life (I'm actually quite fascinated by it)...I think I'm more fearful of the unseen ocean life. I loved snorkeling and swimming in the clear waters of Hawaii, where I could keep an eye on the open waters around me while snorkeling, and where I could easily see where I was stepping while swimming - but add a bout of cloudiness to the water and I'm a panic-attack waiting to happen.

One of my fondest memories is one where I literally swam with a wild sea-turtle for a few minutes in Hawaii. He was playing just outside the breaking waves, but the energy soaring through the swells was enough to carry us both in a rhythmic sort of dance. I didn't quite dare to touch it - it's beak looked a little intimidating - but it sure was fun to watch it glide so effortlessly in the water. Contrast that to one of my most terrifying memories: swimming in the vision-thick waters of Emerald Isle last year two days before the triathlon. I couldn't even see my hand clearly as it sliced through the water just more than a foot in front of my face. Each time I put my face back into the water I couldn't help but envision gaping jaws, with rows of razor-sharp teeth, invisible to my eye until it was mere inches from my face. By then, it would be too late. My breathing was extremely strained as I practiced in that ocean for those few minutes. I had to breathe every-other stroke, as opposed to every 3rd or 5th stroke I had practiced in the pool. I seriously had to coach myself with encouraging words as I felt a panic-attack coming on.

Anyway - long tangent to maybe explain why I liked the aquarium. :)

Merrill actually found one of these on the beach - we mocked him for thinking it was something cool when it was, for sure, just a piece of man-made plastic. Looks like he was right! This is a skate egg sack - the skate's 'wings' (like a sting-ray) are all rolled up inside, and as it breaks free from it's sack, it unrolls in the water, swims away, and the egg sack washes up on shore.

Carson's favorite animal was the baby octopus...and McKenzie's favorite animal was the jelly-fish.

Two Crabby Kids. :)


And, completely unrelated: I have this small problem with chocolate chip cookies. One of my best friends makes the most outstanding chocolate chip, you can imagine my excitement when she gave me the recipe. The only problem is, I can't seem to make them right. Every time they come out of the oven, they're flat as pancakes. I've heard it might be because I'm mixing them too much...but I'm fairly certain there was no extravagant mixing today. Does anyone have any ideas on how to make beautiful chocolate chip cookies?

Well, we made some chocolate chip 'pancakes' for you tonight, Daddy. Can't wait to share them with you!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Relax and Unwind

I think the beach is probably my favorite place to be. And, when surrounded by great friends, it's just unbeatable! We've made it a sort of bi-annual (sometimes tri-annual!) tradition to rent a beach house for a few days with some friends, and I always come back feeling happy, content, refreshed, and a little tired. :) This trip was especially fun for me because my sister, Michelle, was able to come with us. I'm pleased to announce that I didn't get a hint of sunburn (or, unfortunately, an ounce of color...) - turns out sunscreen really does work!

Well, without further ado, I'll present the picture-log of our fun vacation to the beach:

One potato, two potato, three potato, four......It didn't take long for the kids to stake their claim on the room with the television! Couch potatoes all lined up on the beds watching cartoon after cartoon after cartoon. I found it funny that it was sometimes hard to tear them away from it to go to the beach! Ahhhhh - vacations!

Once again, I didn't get a family picture at the beach...whoops! But here are some singles (and, by the way, thanks to a friend who recently blogged about how much she loves to take self portraits, I had no shame as I took my own. That happens when you're the only one in your family concerned with getting pictures).

We've learned from experience not to let the kids into the hot-tub unless we wanted to relax in warm, cloudy, yellow pee-water for the last half of our stay. So, the Becks brought a little inflatable pool that Merrill filled with warm, siphoned tub water from their bathroom. It turned out to be a fantastic idea! The kids thought it was great that they had their very own 'kids-hot-tub'.

What's a good beach trip without a little football in the water?! I think the top-left picture is Brian, Aaron and Paul...but I could be wrong about that one. The bottom picture was taken when the guys decided to go for a little late-night game of 500 in the ocean. Natalie was the only smart one to bring her I stole this picture from her blog...I hope you don't mind, Natalie! Judging from the picture, they were all pretty proud of themselves for braving the waves with only the light of the moon to guide them!

Now, if any of you know me rather well, or if you've been following my blog for a while, you've probably gathered a small bundle of evidence that would suggest that I love the beach. Whether you've read my Hawaii posts, (part one here, and part two here), my emerald isle posts (here, here, and here), or have just simply heard my love expressed through my mouth, it's not hard to figure out that I have a mild obsession with the beach. Given this obsession, it's rather quirky that I'm actually terrified of the ocean. Oh, don't get me wrong - I love to look at it...but getting inside it is quite a different story. I like to play in the waves...but I simply cannot get past the squeamishness I feel when I think of the creatures swimming all around me. Even as a child, I would feel uncomfortably anxious when I'd swim in Lake Powell and catch a whiff of that disgusting fish smell. That same anxiety is only magnified by thousands when I think about sea creatures - especially those that are able to inflict pain or (gulp) death on a human. And so, it took hours of persuasion and courage mustering for me to finally consent to walk out into the ocean with my sister. The water was warm, and it was kind of fun to scream as the waves hit into us...

It was fun, that is, until we both saw a FIN swimming TWO FEET AWAY FROM US! I am as serious as I've ever been in my life - Michelle and I both saw the fin at the same time, screamed and ran back onto the shore (thankfully we were only about thigh deep - so running was still a possibility). We could have TOUCHED it, it was that close. It is still to be debated whether it was a shark or a dolphin...but either way, I was terrified and made no further attempts that day to get into the ocean. Can you even imagine!?

At random times throughout the next two days, I'd finally be ready to try again when sting-rays made their presence known. A fisherman about 30 yards away from us caught one and let it go back into the ocean. THE SAME OCEAN I WAS JUST ABOUT TO GO INTO, might I add...Megan felt one swim between her legs while she was jumping in the water with Harrison...and Michelle stepped on one, slid across it's back, and felt one of it's 'wings' flap up onto her foot.

So, now I will show you these next two pictures...and I want you to praise me, encourage me, and be impressed by the triumphant amount of will I display here:

Was it worth it? Maybe. But then again, maybe not. Maybe just for the sole purpose of bragging on my blog. :)

I loved this picture of Carson and Brynnlee. The kids had so much fun - watching multiple movies a day, gorging on snacks, soaking each other with water, running from the the kid dream. :) Here are three more of my favorite 'kid' pictures...and, of course, another 19 pictures in the slide show...just in case you haven't seen enough already.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Unfortunate Snobbery

It's a sad regret I have: I didn't make it out to pick my own blackberries this year. For the past two years, we have picked our own blackberries and strawberries and made the most fantastic freezer jam out of the pounds and pounds of fresh fruit. Now, with a heavy heart, I announce that you are looking at the last of our freezer jam...the final jar of sweet goodness...the end of a special indulgence I took for granted.

I used to be a loyal Smuckers fan - there weren't many snacks that I would choose over Ritz crackers smothered in peanut butter and touched with a smudge of Smuckers strawberry jam. But, now, I must sadly admit that I have become a bit of a jam snob. Smuckers doesn't curb my cravings...and...truthfully...I have a hard time even swallowing it. It has become a cheap imitation of the real stuff.

So, my sincere question is: are there any other jam snobs out there? And, if so, what type of jam do you like? Are there any good store brands?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dutch Apple Bread

Sorry I've been so lazy in posting this recipe! A couple of you have asked for it, and all of you should try it because it is so, so, so good!

1 cup butter/margarine, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 cups peeled, chopped apples

*Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla
*Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl.
Pour 1/2 of the flour mixture into the creamed mixture and mix well. Then, pour 1/2 of the buttermilk into the creamed mixture and mix well. Pour the rest of the flour mixture in, mix; then the rest of the buttermilk, mix.
*Fold in apples
*Pour in greased pan

1 cup flour
5 T. brown sugar
5 T. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
8 T. butter/margarine

*Combine all dry ingredients; cut in butter until crumbly; sprinkle over dough in bread pan.
*Cook at 350 for 50-60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle comes up dry.

This makes 3 medium-sized loaves. I LOVE this recipe because I usually have everything I need on hand (as long as I have apples). Oh, for the buttermilk - if you don't have buttermilk sitting in your fridge, mix 2/3 cups regular milk with 2 tsp. vinegar before you start, and let it sit while you mix everything else together. By the time you need the buttermilk, your regular milk will be a little curdled - mix it up a little and there you go! Homemade buttermilk! :) I rarely use store-bought buttermilk anymore because this works just as well and then I don't have a bunch of leftover buttermilk going bad in my fridge! My grandma might be shamed...she loves to drink buttermilk straight out of the carton.