Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lyla's Alphabet Book

When my older children were preschool age, we made alphabet books out of composition notebooks. We'd sit around on rainy days with a stack of magazines and cut out pictures of basketballs and bikes to glue onto the "B" page, while pictures of snakes and shoes found their way onto the "S" page.

I decided to get a little more creative with Lyla's book.

We folded a stack of paper bags in half and used a whole punch and ribbon to create a binding.
I found the colorful letter stickers in the back of Michael's in the clearance section. Three dollars?!

Move over store-bought lift-the-flap books. Lyla's book is filled with so many things to open, lift, pull, and stuff.

Nice fingernails, Lyla.

She enjoys the cutting and pasting.

Stickers are fun, too.

"L" is for lace.

"P" is for pearls.

There are plenty of hiding spaces for new pictures.

"S" is for snake.

Anyone want to donate some old preschool-friendly magazines?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

What Goes Unpublished

I'm well aware that by publishing this blog, I've already begun creating each of my children's digital footprint. While I'm open about my own weaknesses, I avoid sharing those of my children because how exactly their digital footprint shapes up, I want to leave up to them.

Some of the stories I leave unpublished are so ridiculously funny! Unfortunately, "funny" sometimes equates with "embarrassing" in the sensitive world of teens and tweens and no amount of begging or bribing will change their minds. Believe me, I've tried.

Other things I leave off of this blog are not ridiculously funny. They are heart-wrenchingly serious. My children have some unique challenges that are too personal to discuss in such a public way. Ninety-nine percent of the time I deal with these challenges REALLY well. This past week, though, found me wading through that other 1% with a heavy heart.

So this afternoon, as I sat listening to the final session of LDS general conference, I truly welcomed the thoughts that I felt came directly from my all-knowing, loving Heavenly Father.

As the words of the speaker faded out into the background, I became keenly aware of the bounteous blessings our family enjoys. We are not hungry. Our table is filled with a generous yield of wholesome food harvested from our own garden. We live in a beautiful home with enough space to raise our five energetic children. We have excellent medical care and our children have the medication they need. Of course, I've always been grateful for all these blessings and acknowledged my Heavenly Father's hand in providing them, but at that moment, I felt an enlightened awareness of  just how good we have it.

But that moment wasn't really about gratitude. My Heavenly Father wanted me to understand something more.

While I've always prayed that my children's challenges would ultimately lead them closer to their Savior, I've never thought about the ramifications of our family not having those specific challenges.

The unique needs of my children bring me to my knees. They bring me to the temple. They bring our family together in fasting and prayer.

Who knows but, without these things, we might become so caught up in our blessings that, like the Nephites in the Book of Mormon, we would forget God and lose our way. If these very hard things that we endure are exactly what we need to keep us crying unto our Heavenly Father, then BRING IT ON.

My faith is firmly rooted in Jesus Christ and in the way He has prepared for us to return to live with Him again as eternal families. This doctrine means EVERYTHING to me and there is no sacrifice too great in order to live it. I know as we turn to our Savior, making Him the center of our lives, the very things that bring us to our knees can work for our eternal good.

Evergreen State Fair

This is Tyjah riding the swings with his sister, Halle, at the Evergreen State Fair.

He made it up into the air with two broken arms before a terribly nervous fair employee pointed to the sign beside us- no broken limbs allowed.

So after that he sat out.

The entire time.

Found Around the House this Week

I regularly come across interesting finds in my house. I thought I would share just a few from this week-

A chicken coming down the stairs at the same time as a pumpkin going up the stairs.

 A random half-eaten carrot from the garden.

And this contraption. Who needs Fisher-Price?

Stay tuned for future editions of Found Around the House this Week. 

Vegetarian Pumpkin and Bean Soup

Anyone following me on Pinterest might guess what we've been pulling out of the garden lately- lots of beets, pumpkins, and lots more beets. And with the recent discovery of a hidden pocket of last year's cooked pumpkin in my freezer, my search for pumpkin recipes has taken on a new level of intensity.

Of course, there are lots of pumpkin recipes out there, but think about it- how many of them don't list sugar as one of the main ingredients? Enough sugar already! 

So after exploring a few pumpkin pins for ideas, I crossed my fingers and hesitatingly tried out my own version of pumpkin black bean chili. 

Oh. My. Goodness! Not only was it yummy, but it was filling! And meatless! And nutritionally dense! And SUPER quick to throw together!

2 TBSP olive oil
2 medium onions, diced (I actually used 1 large red onion and 1 small yellow onion- whatever)
3 cups puréed pumpkin
4 cups water
2 cans stewed tomatoes (chopped and returned to their juices)
2 cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans
, rinsed and drained
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 TBSP of chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1.5 tsp. chopped garlic

1. Heat oil in LARGE pot, then add diced onions. Cook until nearly translucent. Add chopped garlic and cook long enough for garlic to sizzle, but not darken.

2. Add everything else and heat for another 20 minutes.

That's it!