Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cascade Springs and Alpine Loop - Out and About in Utah

I wanted to go for a drive up Alpine Loop and to Cascade Springs all weekend. For one reason or another (soccer games, lunch with grandparents and home teaching) we didn't make it. I knew the leaves were changing and I did not want to miss it so Neal and I concocted a scheme while I dropped off the other car pool kids.

As soon as we got home, Neal ran upstairs to finish his homework while I got shoes on the other kids and convinced my dear husband that we just had to go for a drive (it wasn't hard). Forty five minutes later (a record for us) we were on our way.
The colors are breathtaking (right now! don't wait too long to go). I loved hearing the "oohs" and "aahs" of my children from the back seat of the minivan.

The canyon road and overlooks were crowded with "mature" seniors in sporty convertibles and Lincoln town cars. As we got closer to our destination of Cascade Springs, I explained to the kids that there were mostly older people and that they needed to behave nicely and not run around the trails and board walks (I had horrible visions of them pushing nice old ladies with walkers into the springs). I continued to tell them that we wanted to hear the people say things like, "oh, what a lovely little family" or "what adorable children" and not things like, "I'm so grateful my children are all grown and have moved far, far away."

We got the very best parking space in the crowded lot, right next to the restrooms and the trail head. While my husband and I used the restroom and then took a few minutes strapping Molly into the Snugli, I was pleasantly surprised that the other kids waited patiently and didn't run on ahead.

It was only a few minutes after we started down the trail together that we passed an older couple returning to their car. With a smile, the sweet white-haired lady commented, "what a sweet family." I returned her smile and nodded my "thanks". Neal hurried to my side, beaming. "You were right, Mom," he said. He continued to be absolutely obedient the rest of the afternoon.

There really were a lot of senior citizens there--cute couples holding hands. When Amberly headed up a different trail with stairs where the stroller could not go, I called her to come back with us. She ignored me and continued up the stairs. An older gentleman had been sitting along the trail with his wife. He commented, "just leave her. She'll come back." Later as the kids all headed off the trail, I scolded, "don't get near the water." Another older gentleman, passing, whispered with a smile, "what's wrong with getting near the water? They'll just get wet."

I was grateful for their sweet words that reminded me to let my kids be kids and I was grateful that my kids were sweet kids.

I packed my camera along (of course) even though I hadn't planned on taking portraits. The kids' hair was messy and their clothes were dirty, but I got some good shots of the kids who would hold still. You can see more photos from our adventures at Cascade Springs at Cindi Braby Photography Blog. And look, some actual proof that I accompanied my family on this adventure. My son Neal, a budding photographer, took this picture of Lilly and me (without a shower and make-up and with my silly sun glasses).

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I'm not a big fan of change. I get comfortable with something one way, like my son's shoes or the arrangement of the furniture or the way I cook pork chops, and I stick with it.

So, this weekend I decided to part my hair on the other side (mostly to try to cover the thinning spots because my hair has fallen out like crazy since Molly was born). This is HUGE. I think I like it.

I'm in the mood for change.

P.S. Not the type of "change" that Obama was singing about last year. I could definitely do without that type of change.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Unlucky Number

My husband and I celebrated our thirteenth wedding anniversary on Sunday. I use the word "celebrated" quite loosely. In fact, he and a few of our children were sick so we cancelled our babysitter and spent Saturday night at home cleaning up after a stomach bug. I'm generally not superstitious and the number "13" hasn't meant much more to me than the number "12" but after this week (so far) I'm starting to wonder if the entire year is going to be like this.

My husband was starting to feel better on Monday and since he really needed/wanted to get out of the house and I needed to grocery shopping, we decided, rather foolishly, to take the entire family on a grocery-shopping-outing. As soon as I got home from driving the car pool after school, we loaded up the kids in the minivan and I grabbed my carefully organized shopping list and coupons, clipped and matched with the sales at the local grocery store.

We live in the boonies and so I try not to go to the grocery store very often. We were nearly to the store when the little tire warning light flashed and simultaneously we heard/felt the tell-tale signs of a flat tire. My husband pulled into the parking lot of a nearby store (just happened to be an auto parts store) and we set about changing the tire.

My husband works from home and he wears pajama pants about 90% of the time. If he has to go somewhere (other than church) or mow the lawn he puts on jeans. For some reason, he was wearing slacks. Isn't that ironic. The men in my husband's family are not known for their ability to 1. stay calm under pressure  2. work with anything mechanical. (I once watched five of his brothers and nephews stand around and watch another non-related guy put a bed together by himself.) and 3. stay calm while attempting to working with something mechanical.

That being said, I was really really proud of my dear husband. He didn't swear as he knelt on the pavement in his slacks removing the very flat tire while the wind blew and the baby screamed. He didn't throw anything or stomp on anything. I was really really proud that we managed to find the illusive spare tire--let's just say the engineers at Chrysler got very very creative. We got the spare tire on and drove the short distance to the Tire Center at Walmart.

While the helpful, cheerful guys at Walmart got busy fixing our tire, we browsed around Walmart. We should have just done my grocery shopping there and saved time and our sanity, but I had a very carefully planned list that maximized the coupons and the sales at Smith's. The car was finally finished (we had to tell the Walmart tire guys where to put the spare--they'd never seen such a strange place to store a spare) and we continued on to the grocery store two hours after we left home. We should have just turned around and gone home, but we had already driven that far and we do live in the boonies.

Even though I had explained to my dear husband and dear children that we were only getting the items on my carefully planned shopping list, my oldest son never left my right hip. He whined and begged and pleaded for every single thing in the store. He totally threw me off my shopping savvy game and reminded me why I usually go grocery shopping at night after he's already in bed. He so annoyed me that I actually refrained from getting some of the things on my list because he was begging for them. Then, in the check-out line he actually had the audacity to argue with me and the cashier when it turned out that one of the boxes of cereal was too big to be considered in the "buy 4 get . . ." sale. I remembered to give the cashier my coupons but I wasn't aware enough to make sure I was actually getting all the discounts and sales. When I got to the car and checked my receipt I was irritated to see that I should have saved at least another five dollars.

We finally got home and my oldest son spent an hour on the bench in the laundry room. The rest of us had a rushed dinner instead of the good meal we were planning followed by an abbreviated Family Home Evening and the kids went to bed. Finally. My husband and I settled down to watch our Netflix movie together. We got about a third of the way through (far enough to be interested) when the movie started skipping and then wouldn't continue. I took it out to clean it and discovered a crack on the edge of the DVD. And we really missed the tortilla chips we had planned to eat with the homemade salsa we had planned to make but didn't get to because I didn't buy the chips because my son was bugging me.

Tuesday morning we woke up to frost on the lawn and ice in the kids' water table. I picked all the red tomatoes and the peppers on Monday afternoon but I had held off on picking all the green tomatoes. They were ruined. Wasted.

Since it was chilly, I decided to dress Molly in the fall outfit that I bought her several months ago. It just barely fit. Surprised and confused, I checked the tags and discovered that I had purchased the outfit in the three month old size. What had I been thinking? She was three months old when I bought it but surely I would have realized that by the time it got cool enough to wear the outfit, she would already be six months old! We did take some cute pictures of her wearing it but she won't be able to fit her chubby little self in it for long. (You can see more at Cindi Braby Photography Blog.)

And then a salesperson knocked on my door this afternoon. I don't know what possessed me to let her in. She was selling meat. Maybe I was hungry. Whatever reason, I bought the meat. I talked her down over 50% from the "original price" but as soon as I signed the check and she left the house, I felt sick to my stomach. (My husband is giving me a hard time, nicely.) Now, I am just annoyed with myself. Irritated.

Well, at least I do have an adorably cute baby and next time my husband and I need to celebrate and the kids get sick, we'll already have steaks in the freezer. Oh, and I wouldn't want to spend this thirteenth year with anyone but my dear husband. I love you, babe.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Winner


you're the winner of the family four-pack to the Museum of Ancient Life. Send me an email and I'll mail the tickets to you right away. Congratulations and I hope you enjoy the museum.

Monday, September 14, 2009

National Exploratorium Exhibition at Thanksgiving Point (and a Give-away!)

Last week, The Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point opened it's first National Exploratorium Exhibition "Motors, Magnets and the Mind". It includes individual exhibits that feature hands-on activities. This traveling exhibition will be at Thanksgiving Point until September 2010 and is part of the regular admission to the museum ($10, adults; $8 children).

It's an exciting time at Thanksgiving Point. They now have an exclusive, five-year agreement with the Exploratorium Network to provide great, hands-on, learning exhibitions. They will be at the Museum of Ancient Life for the next two years until the completion of the Museum of Natural Curiousity.

Also, "Design Squad", a national PBS Kids show will be filming an episode at Thanksgiving Point's Museum of Ancient Life on Saturday, September 26th at 11:30 a.m. The public is invited to come and watch the live taping of the show and meet the cast. It's free. And if you want to stay and see the new "Motors, Magnets and the Mind" exhibit, PBS is offering their club members a two-for-one entrance with your membership card.

And finally, I have a family four-pack for free admission to the Museum of Ancient Life and therefore to the "Motors, Magnets and Mind" exhibit to give-away to one lucky reader of Utah Mom's Life Blog.

The rules are simple (as always):
1. You get one entry for leaving a comment on this post.
2. You get one entry for being a follower of this blog.
3. You can get a third chance to win by spreading the word. Post a link to Utah Mom's Life on your blog or Facebook and let everyone know about this give-away. Come back and tell me about it an additional comment on this post.

Good luck. The winner will be randomly chosen and announced on Friday, September 18th!

Friday, September 11, 2009


I love opening my mailbox and finding a package inside--especially because it's usually the book I've recently ordered. On Wednesday, I received a package, rushed inside to open it and was delighted to find a copy of a new magazine just for parents. It's not a typical parenting magazine that includes articles about potty training and quizzes to find out if your toddler is gifted. It's a delightful little collection of stories to read to your children each night before bed or any other time.

Most nights when I put my kids to bed I'm exhausted too and when they ask me to tell them a story, I'd really rather just lay beside them and sing. They like singing but they really want to hear a story. There are times when I'm feeling creative and can make up a great exciting tale right there on the spot, but those times are increasingly more rare. This little magazine (I love it's small, portable, easy-to-hold size) is a solution. Each month I'll get 30 new stories to read to my kids written by other parents. There's even a place for my children to rate the stories. At the end of the month, I can go to the Knowonder website and pick our favorites who will then be eligible for a prize.This little volume also includes art by children and additional activities for parents and children.

If I am feeling particularly creative and come up with a great story, I can submit it to Knowonder for a chance to be published in a future edition. This is a great opportunity for aspiring authors to get their work published and get feedback from young little readers.

The best part (could it actually get better?) is that this little magazine is free. Yes, FREE (oh, I love that word). You can pick up a copy at many local (it's local to Utah--I love this inovative, family-friendly place) libraries and stores or view the on-line version right on your computer. Or if you are like me and just like having it delivered directly to your mailbox you can also subscribe for a small fee.

Don't miss this new magazine. Parents and kids will love it. I think I'll have to get a second copy to stash in the car or my purse for those "waiting" moments when we all need a little entertainment.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

Four years ago today I was in labor with my third child. Fortunately, the labor only lasted two short hours before I gave birth to the most darling, cuddly little baby boy. He has brought so much joy and amusement to our family. Nearly everyone who meets him falls under the spell of his "sapphire blue eyes".

Today we are celebrating his birthday in our very casual way. He and I and a few of the other members of our family have a cold (yes, it seems that someone is always sick) so we uninvited the guests who would have joined us for dinner and cake. His sister has been wrapping various items from around the house in blankets and presenting them to a very pleased little boy. He always responds with a surprised and excited sense of glee as he unwraps his copy of The Polar Express--"Oh, a book about a train!" or some of his Hot Wheels--"I like cars! Thanks!"

When my husband gets home from the store with more powdered sugar, I will make the frosting for his cake. Hopefully, it will end up the way he wants. THE CAKE is the only thing that he wants and the primary symbol of growing another year older. He marks his age progression by his cakes. Last week when I was so frustrated by our potty training failures, I threatened him that he would not get his birthday cake unless he started going potty ON THE POTTY! Yes, I may have been yelling a little bit. It was mean, I admit it. But it worked (knock on wood). So far, he hasn't had an accident since. Are you starting to understand the importance of the birthday cake?

For weeks before his birthday, he pulls out the "cake book" that his aunt kindly gave us for Christmas several years ago. I always think that I have hidden it well enough and he always manages to find it. He looks through it several times a day carefully studying each one (while I make underhanded and subliminal suggestions about the cakes that look the easiest to recreate). He ignores me. Maybe he would like that dinosaur cake or the UFO cake or maybe the turtle cake. Last year he finally decided on the frog cake.

I do not decorate cakes. I admit that right now. I am the type to bake a cake in a pan and frost it and then eat it quickly. Sometimes I make cupcakes. Normal ones. Nothing fancy. Not a bit like the ones Kara makes. Or better yet, I buy the cake from Costco--like on Saturday when my family got together to celebrate the birthdays of my son and two of my nephews.

So, last Thursday when he had decided that he wanted the "tiger cake", I seriously considered inviting a sweet young woman from my neighborhood who is talented and artistic to come over and recreate the tiger. I went to bed last night thinking: "I've got to go to the store and get Oreos, red licorice strings, chocolate sprinkles, orange food coloring and pretzels and I need to call Kathryn." Then, this morning after we sang a quick Happy birthday song, he announced that he has changed his mind. He no longer wants a tiger cake. He wants an Earth cake (I really hope this is not a result of all the "Green Brainwashing" and maybe just because he likes to watch Planet Earth). And I think I can handle that. We'll see when my husband returns with the powdered sugar. Wish me luck.

And maybe someone can help me with this one: yesterday he was singing a little song and he sang "my family is insane." I asked him where he learned that song and he said it was from the singers that wear the blue dresses and the black suits. We figured out that he meant the Mormon Tabernacle Choir but we still haven't determined which song he is singing. Any ideas?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Photogenic Winner

The winner of the Photography Package Give-Away is . . .

Heidi BC
Send me an email and we'll schedule a time to take your family pictures. I look forward to working with you.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Introducing Lisa and her Turkey Burgers

I am so excited to introduce one of my very favorite people. Lisa was just a little girl when I married her uncle. We were buddies even then and we always enjoyed her visits to Utah. She was fun, easy-going and had a great sense of humor. We spent hours playing MarioKart; building snowmen; looking for moose and dyeing Easter eggs. Now she's an adult and a student at BYU. Lisa has grown up to be all the things she was as a child as well as considerate, gracious, ambitious and a talented chef.

A few years ago Lisa suffered some severe health problems. She endured much and worked hard to overcome her illness. Part of the cure involves a specific diet. She now carefully follows the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. In her words: "Basically I can't have any carbohydrates other than those found in fruits, honey, vegetables, and nuts. So this means no starch of any kind, and I also can't have lactose or sugar (other than natural sugar found in fruit and honey)." Although this was very limiting, Lisa relied on her background (she spent hours watching the FoodNetwork as a kid) and love of cooking to create tasty and nutritious meals.

Lisa has amazed us all with her delicious and healthy creations. We love having her over to cook for us. I recently invited Lisa to share some of her amazing recipes with the readers of Utah Moms Life. She agreed and today I am excited to offer her first recipe:

Turkey Burgers

Turkey Burgers
1.5 lb (1 package) lean ground turkey
Monterey Jack cheese
¼ cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
1.5 tsp cumin
1.5 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder

1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir together until just blended. Make sure not to over stir or the burgers won’t be as tender.
2. Form the patties into small rounds and flatten until about ½ inch thick. Making them this thin will allow you to cook them quickly and keep in the moisture of the lean turkey.
3. Heat a nonstick pan on the stove at medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the pan is hot, add the patties making sure not to overcrowd the pan. You may need to do it in patches. Cook about 4-6 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and cooked through.
4. Top the patties with sliced Monterey Jack cheese.
5. Serve with guacamole, and sautéed red onions (I slice up the remaining ¾ of the red onion used in the turkey burgers and sauté them with some olive oil, salt, and pepper.) Enjoy!

Because Lisa faithfully follows her diet, she serves the scrumptious burgers on a bed of lettuce. I'll probably serve them on toasted buns. I wonder if I could hide some zucchini in there. :) Enjoy this recipe and watch for more of Lisa's delicious and nutritious creations.