November 30, 2011

The Gratitude Game

We played the Gratitude game for Family Home Evening Monday night. Here are the rules:
1. Sit in a circle.
2. Take turns saying one thing you're thankful for.
3. You can not repeat anything anyone else has said.
4. If you cannot say something within 5 seconds then you're out.
5. The last one out is the winner.

We didn't have a winner. Or rather we were all winners. After 10 minutes we stopped the game because no one had gone out and we still had plenty of things on our thankful lists. Elliott really surprised me. His family and faith were the first handful of things he mentioned. Not that I'm surprised that he loves me or Jesus. It's just that he didn't once mention the Wii. Or computer. Or toys for that matter. His heart wasn't focused on anything material. I just love that. Jett was the same. Jocelyn repeated that she was thankful for Jett on about 5 different turns. We let her keep playing even with the repeats. She is only three. :o) It's too bad Graeden fell asleep early. I would have liked to have heard what he said.

November 29, 2011

Graeden's Baptism

Graeden chose to be baptized last Saturday. I'm so happy for him and that he wants to follow Jesus. We had a beautiful service with family and friends in attendance. Graeden asked Cousin Roger to give the talk about baptism. I'm happy that the bonds we are nurturing with Roger and his family during our yearly camping trip have yielded spiritual fruits. Uncles Brett and JC and cousins Anjah and Amele sang the song "Baptism". Brett accompanied it with the guitar. I just love that song with the guitar. It sounded similar to this one. Cousin Breanna and Nana alternated playing the piano and leading the music.

I spoke about the Holy Ghost and about a few times that I've felt his influence in my life. I chose examples that I thought Graeden could relate to.

1. How I know that it's time to share my testimony on fast and testimony day in church. (My arm hair sticks up and my heart beats fast.)
2. I felt like I needed to correct the mistake of the scout office cashier. When I got to the car and looked at my receipt, I found that she mistakenly charged Graeden's $22.50 shirt as a $1.50 badge.
3. The distinct impression I felt as I read a newspaper ad seeking host families that we were that family for Jovana.

Every time we follow spiritual promptings, we receive blessings. Being blessed with courage and the words to speak when standing in front of others confirms the truth of what we say in our own hearts and minds. Choosing honesty when no one else would know any different builds integrity and trust. Inviting Jovana to live in our home even though we had a LOT going on yielded blessings I probably won't comprehend until the next life.

Mostly, I hope I shared some memorable stories with Graeden. I want him to know that the Spirit frequently guides me in my life. And I feel his presence in a variety of ways and in many settings. Not only that, but I hope Graeden will learn to follow promptings of the spirit as well.

I also did an object lesson about the Holy Ghost that uses refraction to teach how he guides us. If you haven't seen this and need to do a lesson on the Holy Ghost, check it out. Graeden asked me if it was magic after I did it. Nope. But sometimes that's the best way we have to explain how the Holy Ghost works. It's been 3 days since the baptism and Elliott mentioned to me tonight as I was making dinner that when he's baptized, he would like me to do the same talk. He liked it that much! What a sweet boy. It's times like these when I see fruits of my labors that I know something is sinking in and my boys are going to turn out alright.

After Graeden received the gift of the Holy Ghost and we opened our eyes, we found Jocelyn in the middle of the prayer circle. She was so cute. And just doing what we all would have liked to have done, too.

November 24, 2011

Cream Pies: You Must Whip It

Tina in Slovenia believes having a 20 pound turkey is like "Science Fiction". I've never thought of it like that. It seems so normal to me. I thought that's how all turkeys are. But maybe it's just in America. We have a tendency to take something of a perfectly normal proportion and then super-size it.

Like our family for example. Every year there seem to be more of us. Here are some of the Johns' cousins. I didn't realize that Jocelyn wasn't in this photo until just now when I was preparing this blog post. She was busy, I guess. It takes a lot of effort to eat all the candy in the house and terrorize the other kids. Ha ha. Large families are fun.

Last night I made a couple pies with my cousins. Chocolate peanut butter and blueberry cream. They were fantastic. In fact, I think I'll get a slice now while I finish working on this post. A few of you have asked for my recipe. It's not mine. But I'll share it anyway. Thank you Cousin Cathy for your excellent tutelage. I appreciate it lots.

Cream Pie Recipe
1. Pour 2 cups of heavy cream into a mixing bowl. 

2. When it's stiff with great ridges, 
add 10 ounces of cream cheese.
Now you must whip it.
Into shape.
Shape it up.

3. Add one cup of powdered sugar.
It's not too late.
To whip it.
Whip it good.

4. Pour filling into a pre-baked pie shell.

5. Spread a quarter cup of your favorite jam on top.
But don't whip it.

For the chocolate peanut butter variation, insert a cup of peanut butter after step three. 
Be sure to whip it. 
Whip it up.
Whip it smooth.

Continue with step four. Replace step five with chocolate. Microwave a half cup of chocolate chips with a tablespoon of heavy cream for maybe 15 or 20 seconds. Stir until smooth. Make it a nice and smooth and spread it on top. And remember. Do not whip it. You're done whipping.

I love finding photos of events I didn't witness. I had no idea Tymon was facilitating the whipped cream funny business.

Breanna (next to Graeden above) captured a very cute Kira moment. I love the composition and framing of the shot.

In other news, what I'm most thankful for this Thanksgiving day (besides my fantastic family, faith and freedom) is MY MISSING WALLET! Jett found it this morning. And just as I had suspected, it was in Jocelyn's room. Under her bed. Hmmmmm. That's interesting. She told me she didn't know where it was. I even offered her some candy if she found it. I hadn't looked in her room due to her negative response. Good thing Jett did while we were preparing this morning for guests to come.

November 22, 2011


Have I ever mentioned that the best part of bowling with kids is that the lanes have bumpers? Yeah, no gutter balls for me. In fact, I got a strike after my ball hit the bumper, ricocheted off and nailed that first pin. Love it!

Moving Along

 I should probably post a little about the last holiday before the next one begins...
I nursed Kira and roasted pumpkin seeds while my family carved pumpkins.
I did help Jocelyn with hers, though. 
And by help, I mean I did it for her.
She took a healthy bite out of the top of it. 
Bless her.
Tymon did his hardest carving to date. 
 I loved it.

We decorated our house.
Went trick or treating.
Bapa dressed up as Broom Hilda to pass out candy.
Graeden shot him with his new gun.
I'm pretty sure Spider-man doesn't carry a gun, though.

Kira is getting stronger and moving a lot more. 
It's been a few weeks since she started rolling over. 
She got pretty worked up over it.
But she does fine now.
Unless we ignore her for more than three seconds.
Occasionally, I've seen her get her bum in the air.
Wondering when she'll get her legs underneath to start rocking.
I just love this little girl.

Life keeps moving along at a steady pace.
Whether I'm ready for it or not.
Mostly, I'm not.

I just ordered a replacement driver's license.
I lost mine.
I think it's somewhere around my house. 
Or car.
It's hiding with my debit card.
And credit card.
And a pile o' cash.

On Friday Jocelyn had a melt down in the fabric store.
I wouldn't buy her a kit to make her own sock monkey.
Kicking and screaming we made our way to the check out counter.
While paying she grabbed a pack of M&Ms and ripped it open.
Candy scattered EVERYWHERE.
I couldn't pay fast enough.
I bolted out the door
With Jocelyn under one arm 
And Kira in her car seat in the other.

That was the last time I saw my wallet.
I noticed it was missing on Saturday.
I searched everywhere.
Prayed to find it.
Searched some more.
Went back to the store and checked out the parking lot.

No one has used my cards, though. 
So it makes me think it's somewhere in my house.
I haven't searched everywhere.
I could clean Jocelyn's room.
That's a chore that needs doing.
And usually yields great finds.

November 14, 2011

Tasty Flop

Last night, I produced this artisan flop.
At least the color was nice.

It tasted fine.
And we all had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.

Tonight I await my next loaves...
It's called bird seed bread.
8 grain but no nuts. 
I ran out of yeast in the middle of the recipe.
I had to run to the store to get more.
I'm just not confident in the dough.
Just how good is a recipe with half the yeast added in an hour later?

Here they are.
Fresh from the oven.
I'll have to save my review for the morning. 
I really want to master this bread making business.
There's just so much to learn.

November 8, 2011

Artisan Bread

It's decision time. Will I continue to make a mockery of the staple food of life? Or shall I master the art of baking bread? Last week, I did Bread-Making, part one with a group of church ladies. I loved it. I've made it a few times this week and not in my bread maker, either. I know you've gotten some good laughs with Bunny Bread and his friends. But this class is helping fill in some gaps of understanding and moving me to the next level. I bought the book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and love it. I'm already learning some of the scientific stuff around bread making. It's what I've been needing for a long time. 

Tonight was Bread Making, part two. We learned about sour doughs and this time our teacher was fairly technical in his descriptions and instructions. We got to sample a few different kinds of bread and I'm in heaven. I think if I made bread even remotely similar to what I experienced tonight that my kids would think store bought anything tasted like garbage. Look at these baguettes. We made some tonight that looked almost just like them. I'm leaning toward putting in the effort to learn the bread making skill. For both me and my kids.  

November 5, 2011


My situation is awkward and I don't know how to un-awkwardize it. That's not even a word. But it's about how comfortable I feel about what's going on. After three years of living in our home, we've decided to bite the bullet and get window coverings. Until we moved in, I didn't realize how many options were available nor how much they would all cost. Doing one or two windows is inexpensive enough. But we have 27. When we first moved in, I had the Costco Home lady come and do measurements...and found out I couldn't stomach the price of the project at hand. I've got a much stronger stomach now. Ha ha. We're ready to do it.

We've decided to do shutters. My neighbor got some a month or so ago and she showed me what they did. Since we have the same house model, I was able to see in real life what they'd look like in our house. They're fantastic!.I called a couple of places to get estimates on prices and she also told me the company she worked with was less expensive than Costco. So combined that's like checking out 4 places. I called her company and the guy came out to measure and give me a quote. We decided to do the project and verbally agreed on the price, but then I got to thinking. Customers don't know this, but merchants do, credit card companies make anywhere between 1.5% to 3% of each credit transaction a business accepts. I don't like to pay that. So I decided to ask if I could get a lower price if I paid by check instead of credit card. The business gets the same amount of money but we've cut Visa right out of the deal.

The salesman that came out said no, he wouldn't do that. He was concerned that the total of the project would be less and his commission would decrease. Well, that's not exactly what he said, but close enough. The reasoning didn't sit well with me and struck me as really selfish. But since it took me three years to commit to doing window coverings I didn't want to back out now.

I ended up taking my price quote to yet another company to see how they compared. They were about the same but wanted my business. I mean 27 windows is a huge order. So they worked their number magic and beat the original quote by $1500. Sweet. And company #1 is now grumbling. They'll match #2's price, but "don't know how #2 could possibly give such a low bid". I've got a good idea. They both use the same manufacturer for the shutters but #2 doesn't have to pay a sales commission. I love cutting out the middle man. 

Yet, here I am feeling some sort of an obligation to go with company #1 since they've actually been to my house but I like the personalities of company #2 better. Working with #1 could be awkward. Especially with the salesman whose commission is now way lower with the matching of the reduced price. Why'd he have to say something dumb that made me rethink the entire deal? And why is it so hard for me to tell one of the companies "no"? It doesn't have to be. It's just awkward. 
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