Friday, August 28, 2009

Photo Package Give-Away

It's almost fall and time to get an updated family portrait to send with the annual Christmas cards. Cindi Braby Photography has new special pricing:

$20 for a family session
$30 for a CD with 10-15 processed images of your choice

I'm also offering a free family sitting and CD (a $50 value) as a give-away this week (if you live in the Wasatch Front or are willing to travel to the Wasatch Front). The rules for this give-away are the same as the others.

1. Leave a comment on this post.
2. Become a follower of Utah Moms Life Blog.

The winner (picked through my very random method) will be announced on Friday, September 4th.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

An Abundance

I love this time of the year when the veggies in the garden are ripe and delicious and I can get food for dinner right out of my back yard. Right now we have a lot of zucchini and peppers. I've been trying to work them into our regular meals. I've been pretty creative.

  • Last Friday, I added sauteed peppers, onions and zucchini to our chili.
  • Saturday, we cranked up the air conditioning and our friends came over to hide from the heat. Using some peppers and onions the husbands whipped up some awesome Ginger Beef.
  • On Sunday, my dear husband sauteed chicken, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, and artichoke hearts in Zesty Italian dressing. Normally we serve this over pasta but we were in a hurry and ate it without the noodles.
  • Monday for dinner, I added sauteed (it's a theme) zucchini, peppers, onions and mushrooms to the spaghetti sauce.
  • Wednesday night I made omelets with sauteed zucchini, peppers, onions and jalapenos.
  • And tonight, hiding under the cheese on the individual-sized homemade pizza--you guessed it--sauteed zucchini, peppers and onions.

We'll just keep eating it until they're gone or until the kids go on strike. I should probably just make a zucchini cake at this point.

Oh, and if you have ripe tomatoes already (mine are still green), here's a great recipe for easy fresh restaurant-style salsa (courtesy of my dear dear soon-to-be-a-famous-chef niece):

In a blender mix tomatoes (I use a can of tomatoes), some jalapeno (depending on the heat you want), an onion, some garlic, some cilantro, and maybe some cayenne pepper if you want it hotter. Turn on the blender and chop it all up. Enjoy.

For some reason, I have been unable to create a really hot salsa this summer. I added an entire jalapeno pepper and an Anaheim pepper this weekend and it was still mild. Those darn, wimpy peppers.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Giveaway! Today only. Tuesday, August 25th

HI! I am being featured on today only. I am giving away a $25.00 gift certificate to my online store :) Go and enter to win. They have a new giveaway every day and the winner is announced the next day! FUN! Thanks :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Talkative Three Year Old

Thomas is closing in on his fourth birthday and this kid has plenty of things to say. Sometimes we have to try so hard not to laugh especially when he's being so serious. Here are a few of our favorites from the last week.

At dinner the other night: "My life is so hard and it just keeps getting harder."

After lightening struck right over head and we ran to the car, he screamed: "Death and dismemberment! Death and dismemberment!"

To me: "Mommy, can I see your farkles?"

When we asked him who had broken the toy he answered, "Lilly did it." His Dad asked, "What would Jesus say?" Thomas replied, "He would say someone else did it."

After church I asked him how Primary was, he said, "In Primary, I have two choices. I can sit and sing or I can sit and be quiet." "What did you choose?" I asked. He said, "I just sat. In my class we have no choices."

Friday, August 14, 2009

"Not Even Once"

Elder Russell M. Nelson, apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife Sister Wendy Watson Nelson were invited to address The World Congress of Families on Wednesday, August 13, 2009 in Amsterdam. Sister Nelson's talk called "Not Even Once" was especially moving and offers great advice for improving our families, neighborhoods, country and world. Elder Nelson's talk also puts forth a strong stance in support of families in the every nation and country. Sister Sheri Dew spoke at the conference as well.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lucky Duck

And the winner of the $20 Gift Certificate to the Emporium is . . . (drum roll please)


Congratulations! Send me an email with your information so that I can send your prize.

And just in case anyone is interested in just how the winner is selected, I'll tell you. It's a very random method that annoys my husband in the middle of the night when he's ready to go to bed. But I insist because I love rules.

First, I cut little pieces of paper precisely the same size. Next I write the names of the people who left comments on the Give-Away post and who are followers of my blog on each individual little piece of paper. Then, I fold each little paper in fourths. I throw all of the papers on the floor and invite a member of my family to pick one from the floor. (Neal chose the winner of the Thanksgiving Point Give-Away. My dear, irritated hubby chose the winner of the Emporium Gift Certificate.) And there you have it.

Thanks for playing. I've had a great time giving stuff away. I feel a little like Rosie (back when she was sort of normal and had her own show and I watched television), Oprah or Ellen (I hear she gives cool stuff away now). Hopefully I'll get to do it again soon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Joseph is at the Scera

My husband and I got to attend Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Scera Theater in Orem, Utah last night. We had a great time. It was very entertaining and brought back fond memories of the high school production my senior year. (I was in the chorus. I can sing but I CANNOT dance. It's comical.) And while in my heart nothing will compare with it, (except perhaps Donnie Osmond) the play last night was really good.

We enjoyed our date night without children but we felt a little bad. The older ones would have really liked the play. It runs at the Scera until Saturday, August 15th. If you're looking for something fun to do this weekend, grab your family, a big blanket, some KFC and be entertained by the talented cast of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Another Give-Away

I didn't get all the way to 50 followers, but I still love you, so I'm having another give-away today.

I'm giving away a $20 gift certificate to the
Emporium at Thanksgiving Point.

The Emporium is full of beautiful home decor items. It's a feast for the eyes.

The same rules apply for this give-away.

1. Leave a comment on this post.
2. Become a follower for a 2nd chance. (If you're already a follower, you're already eligible.)

The winner will be announced next Friday, August 14th. This is fun. I might just get used to it.

Thanksgiving Point Give-Away Winner

The winner of the Thanksgiving Point Give-Away is:

Congratulations! Send me an email with your address and I'll send your prize package right away. I hope you have a great time at Thanksgiving Point.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I just subscribed to the "Savvy Shopper" deal at the Provo Daily Herald. For years now, I've been hearing about how much money my friends save by using coupons and the store ads when they go grocery shopping.

Last week I sent my husband to the grocery store with our list. He came home and told me about the man in the check-out line before him. His grocery cart was loaded with food and he only paid ten dollars. My husband felt like a dork paying nearly $100 for a lot less food.

So, we're going to try it. I'm sure most of you already know the ins and outs of saving money on groceries. If you have a great tip, please share it here. I could use the help. Thanks.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Banned from Nursery

To be considerate of the other twenty children in Nursery A and the ten Sunbeams in the B class, I'm staying home from church with my little ones today. They have runny noses and coughs and we decided not to recirculate the germs.

We hate being sick. I don't know anyone who especially enjoys it. I also don't like missing church. And there are times when I'm tempted to just pack up the little sick ones, wipe their noses really well and send them into Nursery/Primary. But, for years I've heard my mother-in-law complain in her not-so-soft church voice: "Just listen to that cough. They should be at home in bed and not spreading the germs." So true. If you're sick, why do you go to church? Do you think we will admire your dedication to come even with your head full of snot?

Now, my mother-in-law is the type that if she or a loved one gets sick, she'll try to track down the germs and if she could, she would sue for damages. We all know that it's nearly impossible to contain cold germs, the Swine flu, or the especially dreaded stomach bug. We can stay home. We can spray down the world with Lysol; wash our hands every few minutes and down copious amounts of Vitamin C but occasionally we will still get sick and even spread the misery.

During the summer of 2004, my husband and our two oldest children were living with my in-laws. On a Tuesday, Amberly, who was just one year old, threw up a few times. She didn't act very sick and was completely better and eating by Wednesday.

On Friday, I packed up Neal and Amberly and we drove to my parents' house in Vernal to attend a baby shower for a sister-in-law. My entire family was there. I put the kids to bed and stayed up late playing games and visiting with my siblings and their spouses. I finally headed to bed about one o'clock in the morning. I wasn't in bed for very long when I started to feel awful. I spent the rest of the night sprawled on the hallway floor outside the bathroom door or draped over the toilet.

I was just feeling better (although exhausted and weak) when the sun started coming up and Neal (three years old at the time) woke up crying. I wish he had been able to make it to the toilet. Neal and I quarantined ourselves to the back bedroom where we spent the day alternating between sleep and cleaning up messes. My mom watched Amberly and the others went to the baby shower.

Meanwhile, my in-law's home was full with the regular summer visitors. My husband's sister and her family were visiting from Texas. His brother was also visiting. The stomach bug was wreaking it's terror on them as well. Picture a house full of whining, sick adults--it's ugly. My husband and his sister were the only ones spared. They went out to dinner together and made grisly jokes about later vomiting their delicious meal.

My niece had gone with her fiance to meet his family that weekend. They were just arriving at the cabin when she started feeling sick. She made quite the impression on her "new" family.

Saturday evening, after the baby shower, my siblings headed back to their homes along the Wasatch Front. Still feeling weak, I decided that the kids and I better wait another day before driving home. I didn't want to clean up vomit in the car. By Sunday we were fine and ready to go home. We were barely out the door, when my mom got sick.

My brother and his wife and their little son and daughter were also sick by Sunday night. Her mother came to help take care of them and . . . well, you know the rest.

We never knew the full damage of that special stomach bug and although we tried, we weren't able to determine just where Amberly had picked up the germs (no one would admit anything). But I felt horrible and responsible and just really grateful that my family still speaks to me.

And so, today we are staying home. We are missing four baby blessings. My husband and Neal will have to report back on the meetings. This afternoon, we'll watch Legacy or The Testaments and read an extra chapter from The Book of Mormon while relaxing in our jammies and feeling confident that the sick kids in nursery didn't get it from us.

Don't forget to enter to win the Thanksgiving Point Give-away. Click here for details.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Adventures at Thanksgiving Point - Out and About in Utah

As soon as I figured out what to do with Lilly on our day at Thanksgiving Point, I suddenly had a new concern during those insomniac hours in the middle of the night: there would be other bloggers there. I'd read their very cool, much more professional blogs. I'm really just an amateur. I was about to be exposed for what I really am: a mom without a clue. My kids wear clothes from JCPenney (my father-in-law was an executive of the JCPenney company, thank you) not J.Crew. They're lucky if they have clean faces and they almost always need a haircut. I never get pedicures and occasionally I get a chance to shave my legs. What's more, I can barely walk in high heels (just ask my friend at church who saw me literally tottering down the hall and nearly fall right over). If I do happen to wear something "cool" it's because either my niece or my younger sister gave it to me. And I still have at least 20 pounds of "baby fat" to get rid of before I can fit into the majority of my not-so-cool clothes. Besides all that, I find other women extremely intimidating.

I shouldn't have been so freaked out, because the other mommy bloggers were cool in a nice way. They were surely more pulled-together than I was, but they were also friendly and "normal". I met and visited with several very cool women and I was very impressed (and still a little intimidated, I admit).

We started our day at Thanksgiving Point by riding on the Trolley Car to the Gardens. The ride on the Trolley Car was three-years-old Thomas's favorite part of the day. He's "into" rides. We gathered with the other bloggers to learn a little about the history of the Gardens. I had to smile when the guide asked if anyone had any questions and Amberly's hand shot right up. She asked if the gardens had purple pansies (our family's favorite flower). The answer was simple: not right now. It's too hot for the spring flower.

A guided tour of the gardens was offered and I really wanted to go, but my children insisted that we explore on our own. Fine. The Gardens offered the use of umbrellas to keep us out of the sun and Amberly insisted on carrying one (she started out carrying one--I ended up carrying one).

The Gardens were beautiful. The first thing we saw was this marvelous hill. And there's really only one possible thing that you can do if you see a hill this marvelous--run! We went the opposite direction from the tour and spent quite some time viewing the beautiful, though man-made waterfalls. My eight-year-old son Neal, who knows all kinds of interesting facts, told us that the waterfalls were the tallest man-made waterfalls in the world. I haven't actually verified that this is true, but my past experience with Neal's "facts" are that he's usually right. Whether or not they are the tallest, the waterfalls really were very inspiring.

We wandered through the Gardens and I discovered many great locations for photography shoots. My subjects were not terribly willing to pose but perhaps some day we'll return just for pictures. I did manage to get them to hold still for one shot. It was a really hot day and we don't really enjoy the heat (we keep our house very cool all year round). I actually thought that I might melt. So, when we do come back to the Gardens, we will be sure to pick a cooler day.

At noon, we met for a catered picnic lunch. I had the turkey sandwich with avocado, the fresh fruit and pasta salad. The kids enjoyed the fruit, salad, chips and cookies. It was all delicious. We had one minor melt down by Thomas when his peanut butter cookie broke, but other than that we enjoyed a lovely picnic in the shade while we visited with new friends. We took our time eating and didn't get to spend much time in the Children's Discovery Garden. It looked like a lot of fun and we will definitely have to return there.

Much to Thomas's delight, we rode on the Trolley Car again from the Gardens to Farm Country. During the ride, after explaining our next adventures, the guide asked if anyone had any questions, Amberly's hand shot up again. This time, she wanted to know if we could ride the ponies. Yes, we could. So, we rushed out, first thing, to ride the ponies. Amberly LOVES horses. When we spend time at my parents' farm, she spends her time with the horses. Amberly and Neal enjoy riding but Thomas has typically been terrified whenever we put him on a horse. These ponies were smaller and apparently less scary. Thomas enjoyed his ride and described it to his father later as, "I rode on the merry-go-round with real horses".

We also visited with other animals and rode on the wagon driven by a friendly farmer with a great sense of humor. The heat was getting to all of us by then and we were glad when it was time to move on to an indoor, air conditioned venue. We'll have to visit Farm Country again on a cooler day. And we'll bring Lilly next time because I know she would love seeing the farm animals--everything from pigs to llamas.

Our next venue was the Museum of Ancient Life. My parents live in Vernal, Utah and we frequently go to the Utah Field House of Natural History in Vernal. We always have a good time there, but the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point is bigger and more thorough with a lot of hand-on activities for the kids. Again, we were offered a guided tour given by the palaeontologist himself, but my kids again begged to go it on our own. So we did.
There was one area that was completely dark except for the pin pricks of light (like stars). I couldn't see anything once I was inside. My kids went in before me and when we got out, only Neal and Amberly were out. Thomas was still somewhere inside. Neal went back in and fortunately came out with Thomas, who was completely fascinated and spent much of the time asking to go back to the "dark place".

My kids and apparently all the kids especially enjoyed playing in the water/erosion exhibit where they could really get dirty (the kids without the special aprons would be mine) and learn how water erodes the dirt over time. They also enjoyed the area where they could use tools to carefully brush away sand from the buried dinosaur bones.

Neal weighs approximately the same as a small dinosaur. He insisted that I join him on the scale and unfortunately, together (with the other kids) we weigh about as much as a parasaurolophus.

Molly spent the entire day in her little stroller sucking on her fingers. Sometimes she was awake. Sometimes she was asleep. But the fingers were always in her mouth.

Unfortunately, the battery on my camera died about this time. Our day at Thanksgiving Point was far from over. After our tour of the Museum of Ancient Life, the kids were able to make a plaster mold and use drill to carve around a fossil in the Junior Paleo Lab. They looked very cute with their safety goggles.

Next, the group walked across the plaza to the Emporium. Amberly's comment when she saw all the beautiful fabrics, home decor, trinkets, and jewelry made me smile. With a big smile and her eyes open wide she said, "Well, this is interesting." We walked carefully through the store with constant reminders from me to look with their eyes and not with their fingers. We had a quick "rest" stop and then we went to the kitchens in the back of the Emporium for our special cooking class.

Neal and Amberly got their own cute aprons and they got to learn how to decorate cookies and brownies. We do a lot of cooking at our house, but this kitchen is cool and much bigger than ours with lots of counter space for the kids to work their "cooking" skills. Sampling their creations was definitely my favorite part of that experience.

My dear hubby met us as the cooking class was finishing. From there we said good byes to our darling children as they went to have pizza (not pepperoni but still good, according to Neal) and do crafts (Amberly was in her heaven). Hubby and I joined the other couples at the Harvest Restaurant for a very delicious meal. It was so nice to spend some time without the kids (Molly stayed with us and was pretty good) and eat incredible food (my husband wants to write the review of Harvest and I'll let him).

We were definitely ready for bed by the end of the day but we had such a good time and made some great memories. Thanksgiving Point isn't exactly an inexpensive experience so we were grateful for the opportunity to go for free. Because we live relatively close to Thanksgiving Point and we have a rather large family we are considering the more economical choice of a family membership next year. Perhaps we'll have to ask Santa Clause for one this Christmas.

Don't miss your chance to win tickets for a family of four to attend the venues at Thanksgiving Point. Click here to enter.