Saturday, August 20, 2011

Back to School

I love back to school! I get so excited about all the school supplies and snacks. You can just feel the excitement. It seems like school starts earlier every year, but maybe the summers are just going by faster and faster.

Sara started preschool this fall at the Busy Bee Preschool. She loves her teacher, Mrs. Nicole. She goes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-11:30. It's perfect for us. She was a little nervous at first, but she is loving it. Here are a few pictures of her back to school:

The night before her first day, I gave her a pedicure and manicure.

She picked out her skirt and I found a shirt to match. She insisted on wearing a 'dress' for her first day, but she wasn't interested in posing for pictures because it was 'too bright outside'.

I can't believe Sara is in preschool. She will be 3 in October and is growing up so fast. I am so lucky to be her mom. We have so much fun together and she is just my 'treasure girl'. She tells me all the time I'm her friend and I love it. Lately she has been obsessed with watching Tangled, eating cherries, playing with her baby, talking like crazy, and asking a million questions. She's so smart and inquisitive. It's amazing what she is able to understand. I think preschool will be perfect for her and she will love it.

2011: A Summer to Remember

This summer was especially special because my parents came home from serving their 3 year mission in Chile. It was so great to see them. We stayed with them for almost a month at their home in Heber City, Utah. I loved that Sara had a chance to see her cousins and grandparents. I loved being able to send time with my family again. We had such a blast! Here are some picture of our visit:

Before my parents got home, Sara and I got to spend some time with one of my best friends in the whole world Cori, and her little girl, Merika.

My sister made all the grandkids shirts with their birth order number on the back and names on the front.
Sara is #5.
Order from left to right: Eve, Sara, Carly, Alison, Katie, Emmy (Will is with his Momma)

My favorite picture of the whole trip - Sara getting to see her Papa. She sure loves him!

Such a great reunion!

All the kids loved to climb on Papa. Sara, Katie, and Carly

The only boy grandchild - Will (Darin's youngest)

Sara loves the train park in Heber and the views are amazing!

The girls loved playing in the pool on the driveway and then drying out in the sun. Carly, Katie, and Sara

All the grandkids together on the front porch. Such a cute and silly bunch! L to R: Eve, Emmy, Katie, Will, Sara, Alison, Carly

Sara had cotton candy for the first time and she loved it!

We are excited for 'Nana and Papa' to come visit us this fall and again during the winter. And we're also looking forward to our trip together as a family to Disneyland in November. So many great times again and we can't wait! We love you and are so glad you're home, Nana and Papa. Thanks so much for your service. We are so blessed.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

I used the internet for good this week and posted a question on my Facebook page. I asked, “If you could use 1 word to describe what it means to be a father, what would you say?” I got many responses, some of which said: provider, dependable, strength, example, warrior, blessed, exhausting, protector, priesthood, noble, teacher, love, diligence, time, courage, generoso (this one came in Spanish from a friend in Spain, but I think it means generous), unconditional, expensive, sacrifice and lifesaver. My mom said, “forgiving” and my dad replied, “shepherd” followed by, “I’m not sure what your mom is talking about.”

I am blessed in my life to have the most wonderful father I could ever ask for. I know he is not perfect, but he has been everything I have ever needed him to be. He has all of those qualities that I just listed in addition to a listening ear, patience, and a sense of humor – all of which were essential in being a father to a daughter like me.

I want to focus my thoughts on the one word I feel the Spirit has guided my preparations for: Shepherd. What is a shepherd and how does a Father become the best shepherd his sheep could require?

In the scriptures, the Lord refers to himself as the good shepherd. In John 10:11, he says, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” In the Savior’s time and place, a shepherd who was the owner of the sheep not only loved them, but would risk his life for them. Which He did.

President Faust shares a lesson in which he learned what it means to be a shepherd:

As a small boy he forgot to put his pet lamb in the barn one night when a storm arose.

“I knew that I should help my pet, but I wanted to stay safe, warm, and dry in my bed. I didn’t get up as I should have done,” he recalled during a priesthood session of general conference. “The next morning I went out to find my lamb dead.”

“My heart was broken,” he said. He realized that he had not been a good shepherd. His father’s loving rebuke hurt him even more: “Son, couldn’t I trust you to take care of just one lamb?”

That day, the young James resolved that he would try his best to never neglect his stewardship should he have the opportunity again to be a shepherd. To the end of his ministry, President Faust remained devoted to the Lord’s admonition: “Feed my lambs”

As fathers, each of you has sheep to nourish, encourage, and serve. Each is called by the Lord. Each is accountable to the Lord for his or her stewardship as a shepherd.

In the Proclamation to the World, it reads ““… By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.

Elder L. Tom Perry says, “Fatherhood is leadership, the most important kind of leadership. It has always been so; it always will be so. Father, with the assistance and counsel and encouragement of your eternal companion, you preside in the home. It is not a matter of whether you are most worthy or best qualified, but it is a matter of [divine] appointment.”

Fatherhood is not a matter of station or wealth; it is a matter of desire, diligence, and determination to see one’s family exalted in the celestial kingdom. If that prize is lost, nothing else really matters”

“Take an active part in establishing family rules and discipline. As a leader in your home you plan and sacrifice to achieve the blessing of a unified and happy family. To do all of this requires that you live a family-centered life.”

As President Joseph F. Smith counseled: “Brethren, there is too little religious devotion, love, and fear of God, in the home; too much worldliness, selfishness, indifference, and lack of reverence in the family, or it never would exist so abundantly on the outside. Then, the home is what needs reforming. Try today, and tomorrow, to make a change in your home.”

“When you recognize the importance of teaching your children, you become humble. You cannot be one thing and effectively teach another. You must live and study and pray for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. You must purify and organize your life so that your example and leadership reflect the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“You must plan your day as guided by the Spirit of the Lord, earnestly seeking your own welfare and the welfare of your family before other cares blind you. As we have been taught by living prophets, ‘No other success in life can compensate for failure in the home’

Growing up, my father was always very busy with work or in his church callings. He spent many hours away from our home for various responsibilities, however... when he was home, he was truly at home. And the time that he spent with us individually or as a family was his focus and his priority. I remember a few times he would come home late at night from his church meetings, which were often hours away. He would sit at the foot of my bed and ask me about my life. He took a genuine interest in who I was and what I needed. He would hold family counsel and give us the opportunity to talk about concerns. Most of the time it was just that my brother was bugging me or my sister was borrowing my clothes, again. But when it really mattered, he was there.

I remember attending a baptism with him when I was about 9 years old. As we sang, “Families Can Be Together Forever” I was overcome with emotion and didn’t understand why. In the car on the way home, he testified to me that was the Spirit of the Holy Ghost teaching me that what I was singing is true.

I remember I was going through a particularly difficult time in 6th grade. He sensed there was something wrong and asked me to go get ice cream with him. We talked about how I was feeling and he gave me some much needed advice.

When I was in High School, I skipped school when my parents were out of town. He found out about it and asked me what happened. I lied about it, but I knew that he knew I was lying. I’ll never forget what he said. “Karen, you have always made really good decisions in your life and I know that if you keep making good choices, you will have more blessings than you can even comprehend. But as you begin to make poor choices, while in and of themselves, may not seem like a big deal... overtime, you will find yourself on a path you never intended to be.”

As a true shepherd, to a sometimes wayward sheep, he believed in the person I could become. He saw in myself what I didn’t see. He saw the Lord’s love for me even if I didn’t know it was there. He loved me unconditionally. He helped me to believe what he believed I was truly capable of. In spite of my stubbornness, or unwillingness to listen, he watched over me. And I know that as a father, it is because of his love that I have felt the love of my Savior like I never imagined. I cannot wait to see my parents return from their mission in less than 2 weeks. It has been a long 3 years and I am so grateful for their service.

President Ezra Taft Benson said, “Fathers, by divine decree, you are to preside over your family units. This is a sobering responsibility and the most important one you will ever assume, for it is an eternal responsibility. You place the family in its proper priority. It’s the part of your life that will endure beyond the grave.”

The Savior was the perfect Shepherd. In John 10:2-5

“But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

“To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

“And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

“And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers”

Do you know your sheep? Do they know your voice, or must they hearken unto the voices of strangers? Do they know you as true shepherds who loves them, who willingly and freely gives time and attention to their needs, and, in that marvelous process, instills the confidence and security so greatly needed? Are you then able to lead them to immortality and eternal life? Do you go before them, constantly reassuring and building confidence because they know your voice?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

California Dreamin'

We just got back from a really fun vacation to So Cal. It's our first vacation with just the 3 of us since Sara was born and we had such a blast! We stayed in a condo right on the beach in Capistrano, CA. It was beautiful! Here are a few pictures highlighting our trip:

There was this amazing helium balloon at the "Great Park" in Irvine, CA that goes 500ft in the air. It was a little bit scary, but Sara loved it. And the best part - it was free!

We spent an afternoon at a beach in Laguna. Cameron's grandparents, Don and Eleanor, came to visit from Hemet, CA for the afternoon.

We went to stay with our friends, Tim and Katie, the last day we were there. Sara had a blast with her little 'buddy', as she called him. Zac is such a cute boy and I'm glad they were friends. They loved to wrestle and dance in their diapers together.

Sara was a little nervous about the waves at first, but then she kept saying, "I go back in the waves Daddy!" She loved it.

Now hopefully we won't wait another 2 1/2 years until our next family vacation.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Such a Gift

A friend of mine drew this picture of Sara. It looks just like her, I love it!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Some recent pictures

Sara playing on the tractor at the zoo.

Sara planted a seed in nursery and she is so proud of how it's growing. Here is after about 5 days. She remembers to water it every day.

Here is her seed after 2 weeks. I have no idea what to do now that it is almost grown out of it's little cup, but she would be devastated to lose it.

Visiting an Elder from my parents mission and his family in Gilbert, AZ. (Scott Bigelow)

Sara's little boyfriend, Carter.

Let's EAT!

Sorry this is a few days late, but hopefully it will give you some good meal ideas for the next couple of weeks.

2/28 Chicken, rice, broccoli casserole
3/1 Spaghetti/Salad
3/2 Breakfast
3/3 Shepards Pie
3/4 Mac n' Cheese
3/5 out
3/6 Cranberry Chicken
3/7 Tacos
3/8 Hot Dogs and Tator Tots, Salad
3/9 BBQ Chicken Biscuits
3/10 left overs
3/11 Breaded chicken tenders w/ Tortellini Salad
3/12 out
3/13 Stir Fry w/ Rice

Here's to another great week! I'm uploading some new pics later, so check back!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

For Dinner this Week

This week for dinner:

2/14 BBQ Chicken
Baked Potatoes

2/15 Tortellini w/ Sausage
Steamed Carrots

2/16 Omelets
Hash browns

2/17 Shredded Chicken Tacos

2/18 Sloppy Joes

2/19 out

2/20 Taco Soup

Friday, February 11, 2011

To my sister:

Happy Birthday, Darin. Wish I could be there to celebrate with you, but I'm sure M and the girls & Will have something great planned. We could get a baby-sitter and go shopping to our hearts content with money from that money tree in your backyard.

For those of you that don't know my sister, let me just tell you a little bit about her. First of all, she's perfect. Not in like the never makes a mistake, although she may be that kind of perfect too, but she is just perfect. She has 3 adorable kiddos, never says bad things about anyone, makes everyone around her feel good about themselves, is such a great example, only watches reality TV while her kids are asleep, loves music, likes to go thrift store shopping, mowed her own lawn 9 months pregnant, has amazing skin, looks cute in anything, is so unselfish, not to mention soo soo pretty. And if that wasn't enough, she makes homemade bread and can sew. If I didn't love her so much, she would be the perfect person to really dislike. But you just can't, because she's so great!

So Happy Birthday to my little sister. I hope I can be like you when I grow up!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

the BAR

In less than 2 weeks from today, C will be done with the Arizona bar exam. I cannot wait for this day to come and go flying by. The bar and I have not been friends for a while now and I don't suppose we'll ever be friends. But I sure am ready for it to be out of my life.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Dinner Ideas

I haven't made my menu yet for this week because we still have a few things we didn't get to last week. But here are some suggestions if you're looking for ideas:

Chicken Stir Fry w/ Rice
Meatball Sandwiches
Loaded Baked Potatoes w/ Chili
Hawaiian Haystacks
Chicken Salad Sandwiches (with left over shredded chicken from haystacks)
Baked Ziti

Let me know if you are interested in any of the recipes. Hope you have a great week!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Great Start to 2011

Here are some pictures of Sara, she is getting so big and even more beautiful every day. We just love having her. We have so much fun doing some of her favorite things: going to the mall, the park, on walks, to the library, throwing pennies in the fountains, playing play-doh, making cookies and going on pretend trips. She is talking all the time and amazes me with the things she comes up with. My favorites are, "Hold you please, Mommy" and "I do it myself, I know how."

Sara loves strawberries. And we add a little powdered sugar!

Sara is going on a pretend trip with daddy to a football game.

This is Sara chewing gum - not the best timing for the picture.

She looks so beautiful in yellow.

And here she is just being Sara. I love those big beautiful blue eyes.

A Friend's Journey

This is a story about a dear friend of mine, Tara, and her journey to Sudan. Thanks for sharing your experience in such a real way, Tara!

e3 Film Festival - Tara

Monday, January 24, 2011

Go Dogs Go!

Dinner this Week

Monday 1/24: Chicken Noodle Soup w/ Rolls

Tuesday 1/25: Shredded Chicken Enchiladas

Wednesday 1/26: Breakfast for Dinner (pancakes, bacon, fruit)

Thursday 1/27: Chicken, Rice and Brocolli Casserole

Friday/Saturday: 4-Way (Pasta, Chili, Cheese, Pineapple)

Sunday 1/30: Baked Potato Soup w/ Rolls

Monday /31: Sloppy Joes and Salad

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What's For Dinner?

We have a pretty tight food budget (about $100 every 2 weeks including diapers) and I'm always looking for inexpensive meal ideas. I've put together a list of the meals we rotate. I make a menu about every 7-10 days and grocery shop based on my menu. I also shop using coupons and price-matching.

Wal-Mart will price match everything except buy one get one free offers. Some cashiers require you to have the ads in hand, but I never do and it always works. I use a web-site called mygrocerydeals that categorizes each item and gives you the best prices. I make my shopping list and write down where things are the cheapest. When I get to the register, I tell the cashier which items I want to price match and that's it!

Several people have asked for my weekly menu, so here it is:

Sunday: Roast (purchased a few weeks ago for $2.99/lb - price match)
Red Potatoes ($ .99/5lbs - price match)
Baby Carrots ($ .99/lb - price match)
*I put it all in the crock-pot with some sliced yellow onion, garlic salt, and salt and pepper in about 2 inches of water. Cook on Low for 6-8hrs or High for 4 or until meat is cooked through.

Monday: Tortellini (Frozen Cheese Tortellini about $2.99/bag and I use half the bag)
Sliced Sausage ($1.49 price match)
Frozen Peas
Sliced Red Pepper (price match this week for $ .20ea)
*Boil tortellini as instructed, saute sausage frozen peas and red pepper. Combine cooked tortellini to sausage mixture and toss in Italian dressing. Can be served cold or warm.

Tuesday: BBQ Chicken Mini Pizzas on Biscuits
*Put 6 or 7 frozen chicken breasts in crockpot. Cover with can of Coke or Dr. Pepper, 1/4 cup brown sugar, garlic salt and onion salt or diced onion. Cook on high for 4-5 hrs or until chicken is fully cooked. Drain fluid. Separate half the chicken to a Ziploc bag and refrigerate. Put other half back in crockpot. Add 1/4 cup brown sugar, BBQ sauce, and half can of Coke or Dr. Pepper (the other half is left to drink. YES!) Cook on low for 1 hr. Bake Pillsbury biscuits (I buy the store brand unless I have a coupon). Cut biscuits in half. Top with BBQ Chicken, cheddar cheese and purple or green onion.

Wednesday: Chicken Tacos (I buy Wal-Mart brand tortillas which are very inexpensive)
Refried or Pinto beans (Usually around $ .80/can)
Cilantro Lime Rice (Limes and Cilantro are price matched)
*Cook white rice as directed. Once cooked, add chopped white onion and cilantro and mix together. Heat left over shredded chicken from yesterday, but add a little taco seasoning and water first. Cut red/yellow pepper and chop lettuce for tacos. Heat refried or pinto beans and serve over rice.

Thursday: Hot Dogs (Hebrew National price matched around $2/6)
Steamed Veggies (Price match cauliflower and broccoli for $ .99)
*I like Hebrew National Hot Dogs the best, but they can be pricey. Bar S Beef Franks go on sale every now and then too. I usually buy a few when they are on sale and freeze them. Buns I buy from the bakery on the 'day old' shelf for a discount. I freeze them until the day I need them.

Friday/Saturday: Shepards Pie (My favorite thing!)
*Brown Meat w/ diced onion while boiling potatoes. (93% Lean Ground Beef price matched $1.99/lb and yellow potatoes price matched 3lbs for $ .99) Once meat is browned, add can of tomato soup. Once potatoes are soft - drain and mash. Add butter and milk to taste. Put ground beef mixture in casserole dish, top with mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese. Put in microwave for a few minutes to melt the cheese.

Sunday: Tortilla Soup w/ or w/o Meat
Black Beans (store brand is about $ .69/can)
Canned Corn (price match for $ .49/can)
Diced Tomatoes (store brand is about $ .99/can)
Chicken Stock ($ .49/can price match at Thanksgiving, so I bought a few)
*If you are using meat, cook as desired. In pot, put in all cans undrained. Add taco seasoning and 1 cup chicken stock. Heat until warm. Serve over tortilla chips w/cheese.

A few things I've learned along the way:
-Stocking up can be great, but if you're already on a tight monthly budget, it may not allow for it. So plan your menu according to what you already have or what is on sale.

-Salad is always a great thing to add to a meal, but buying all the ingredients and making it from scratch can get expensive. Costco sells ready to go salads in a bag including toppings and dressing for $3.49. This salad will last us at least 2 meals.

- Just about anything meat can be cooked and then frozen, so having cooked chicken breasts or left over shredded chicken can be a great way to save time.

- I am a big snacker, so I try to snack on inexpensive things like produce or crackers and cheese that have all been price matched.

- Some people can plan meals farther in advance, but when I have to run to the grocery store for milk or bread, I feel like I might as well get what I need for the week. I prefer to do my menu in 7-10 day increments.

-I am no expert, so any ideas or suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated!!