Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Hooray! The weather here has finally made it higher than 30 degrees and I couldn't be happier. I don't know which feeling is stronger: my excitement to go running and take the kids to the park/zoo/long walks/etc and banish the "cabin fever" they've been having, or relief that I no longer have to wear out my back shoveling the parking lot and sidewalks in front and back of our building (ah, the joys of property management...). Needless to say, I couldn't be happier! I now realize why people institute "spring cleaning" - I just have so much energy and excitement about spring!!! woohoo!!

So, without further ado, I bid you, WINTER, adieu with these final snowy pictures...stay tuned for some pictures of SPRING to come soon!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Well Put!..with a correction

I just read this and thought it was worth repeating. Perhaps you've already read it, but if not, it's worth a few moments of your time....

Paul Allen is the owner of the Seattle Seahawks, the team who played the Pittsburgh Steelers for the Super Bowl. He is also the owner of the Portland Trail Blazers NBA basketball team and is co-partner with Bill Gates in Microsoft. He wrote this editorial in the Santa Clarita, California newspaper, 2006.

The letter to the editor (quoted below) by one Paul Allen was indeed published on the opinion page of the Santa Clarita Valley (California) Signal on 24 November 2000. Within five months, someone had re-typed the letter (because the Signal didn't then publish letters to the editor on its web site) and started it circulating on the Internet via e-mail forwards (most of which erroneously stated that it had first been published on 25 April 2002). However, the Paul Allen who wrote this piece was not (as claimed in the example above) the Paul Allen who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates (and regularly ranks high on lists of the world's wealthiest people) — he was simply a local resident with the same name.

"I have heard and seen enough! I have lived in the West all my life. I have worked around them. They have worked for me and I for them. When I was young, I dated their daughters. When I got married they came to my wedding. Now that I have daughters of my own, some of their boys have dated my daughters. I would be privileged if one of them were to be my son-in-law. I'm talking about the Mormons.

They are some of the most honest, hardworking people I have ever known. They are spiritual, probably more than most other so-called religious people I have encountered. They study the Bible and teach from it as much as any Christian church ever has.

They serve their religion without pay in every conceivable capacity. Not one of their leaders, teachers, counselors, Bishops or music directors receive one dime for the hours of labor they put in. The Mormons have a non-paid ministry - a fact that is not generally known.

I have heard many times from the pulpits of others how evil and non-Christian they are and that they will not go to heaven. I decided recently to attend one of their services near my home to see for myself. What a surprise! What I heard and saw was just the opposite from what the religious ministers of the day were telling me. I found a very simple service with no fanfare. I found a people with a great sense of humor and a well-balanced spiritual side. There was no loud music. Just a simple service, with the members themselves giving the several short sermons.

They urge their youth to be morally clean and live a good life. They teach the gospel of Christ, as they understand it. The name of their church is "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints. Does that sound like a non-Christian church to you? I asked them many questions about what they teach and why. I got answers that in most cases were from the New Testament. Their ideas and doctrines did not seem too far fetched for my understanding. When I read their "Book of Mormon" I was also very surprised to find just the opposite from what I had been told I would find. Then I went to another church's pastor to ask him some of the same questions about doctrine. To my surprise, when he found out that I was in some way investigating the Mormons, he became hostile. He referred to them as a non-Christian cult. I received what sounded to me like evil propaganda against those people. He stated bluntly that they were not Christian and that they did not fit into the Christian mold. He also told me that they don't really believe the Bible. He gave me a pile of anti-Mormon literature. He began to rant that the Mormons were not telling me the truth about what they stand for. He didn't want to hear anything good about them.

At first I was surprised and then again, I wasn't. I began to wonder. I have never known of a cult that supports the Boy Scouts of America. According to the Boy Scouts, over a third of all the Boy Scout troops in the United States are Mormon. What cult do you know of that has a welfare system second to none in this country?

They have farms, canneries and cattle ranches to help take care of the unfortunate ones who might be down and out and in need of a little help. The Mormon Church has donated millions to welfare causes around the world without a word of credit. They have donated thousands to help rebuild Baptist churches that were burned a few years ago. They have donated tons of medical supplies to countries ravaged by earthquakes. You never see them on TV begging for money.

What cult do you know that instills in its members to obey the law, pay their taxes, serve in the military if asked and be a good Christian by living high moral standards? Did you know that hundreds of thousands of Mormon youth get up before high school starts in the morning to attend a religious training class?

They have basketball and softball leagues and supervised youth dances every month. They are recruited by the FBI, the State Department and every police department in the country, because they are trustworthy. They are taught not to drink nor take drugs. They are in the Secret Service - those who protect the President. They serve in high leadership positions from both parties in Congress and in the US Senate, and have been governors of several states other than Utah. They serve with distinction and honor.

If you have Mormons living near, you will probably find them to be your best friends and neighbors. They are Christians who try to live what they preach. They are not perfect and they are the first to admit this. I have known some of them who could not live their religion, just like many of us.

The rhetoric which is spread around against them is nothing more than evil propaganda founded in untruths. (Others) had successfully demonized them to the point that the general public has no idea what they actually believe and teach. If you really want to know the truth, go see for yourself. You also will be surprised. When I first moved here some 25 years ago there were five Mormon wards in Santa Clarita. Now there are 15. They must be doing something right."

To learn more about what us "Mormons" REALLY believe, click here.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

This Week

Has it really been a whole week since I posted? Wow? Shameful. I guess such is evidence that things have been even busier than normal this past week. I started a new job 2 weeks ago and, while I am very much enjoying it, am still adjusting to the schedule. This means that, in addition to managing apartments, I am now working 3 part-time jobs for a combined total of 50 hours a week. Yikes! I feel like a college student again. :) For the most part, it is working out and I know things will be winding down within a few months, but it has been slightly crazy lately. Fortunately I have a very supportive husband - partially because he is just naturally wonderful and supportive in everything I do, and partially because he recognizes that my crazy hours are footing the bill for his ever-increasing medical tuition. :) The great thing, though, is that my newest job allows me to bring my little sweethearts with me and spend some quality time with them while I'm working. It is wonderful and I am loving it. A bit busy at times, but so worth it to be able to be with them and still provide for the family.

Another new 'development' is that I've been trying to be more structured in the time I spend with the kids. We had toyed with the idea of putting "Angel" in preschool but decided against it because I really just want more time with her. Instead, I got a big book of ideas for preschool topics, lessons, activities, etc. and have been trying to implement them. It has been AWESOME!! "Grins'" attention span is all of about 30 seconds but "Angel" is happy to sit and listen to me as long as I can talk/read/etc. She is absolutely loving it!!

This past week we discussed the Human Body, Winter and Snow. It was so much fun! We traced our bodies in chalk on the sidewalk, talked about differences in our bodies ("Mommy has a BIG bum, I have a SMALL bum" made me feel great, let me tell you!), and did activities with our bodies such as noises, movements and shapes. It is just amazing what kids will come up with sometimes! We also spent a day on snow and winter, since I am HOPING that winter is drawing to a close and we are entering SPRING! I've just been reading the Eyre's "Values Parenting" book and have decided to start incorporating Values in our 'lessons' as well. And because I am already writing down my menu plan for the week, I figure I'll just add my planned activities too and just turn this post into my own little weekly planner. So, if you're bored, check back later for exciting posts. Or, if you have any great ideas, feel free to share! :) Have a great week!

Menu Plan:

Sunday - Soup (Artichoke/Asiago soup and Butternut Squash soup), crusty bread, green salad
Monday - spring rolls, rice, steamed broccoli
Tuesday - soft tacos (black beans, refried beans, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado), pear/blue cheese salad
Wednesday - clam chowder, wheat rolls, corn
Thursday - margarita pizza (from Costco), green salad, fruit salad
Friday - left overs
Saturday - chicken pot pie, steamed baby carrots

Lesson Plan:

Value of the Month: Respect
Monday - Hands & Fingers (sign language, play-doh, fingerprints)
Tuesday - Letter U (Mom's group preschool)
Wednesday - Hands & Fingers (finger painting, handprints, guessing tactile objects while blindfolded)
Thursday - Legs & Feet (3-legged race, dancing, picking up objects with toes)
Friday - Legs & Feet (painting with our feet, jumping, skipping, animal footprint game)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Menu Plan Sunday

Trying to get a jump on the week, so here goes:

Monday - Spinach and crab quiche, cherry tomatoes (bumped from 2 wks ago, still haven't made it yet!)
Tuesday - Spaghetti Pie, green beans
Wednesday - Brown Rice Chicken Bake, cabbage
Thursday - Black bean soup, steamed baby carrots
Friday - Mom's at work - Left overs
Saturday - Homemade Veggie Pizza

I'm also trying to start planning lunches in advance in an effort to make shopping easier and so I won't have to wonder every day "what should we have for lunch today?"
I'm trying to get a little more creative, because I think my kids are probably tired of quesadillas, soups and sandwiches for lunch.

Here's what we have this week:

Monday - cold cut sandwiches, bananas & carrots
Tuesday - mini pizzas (english muffin, tomato sauce, cheese & veggies), grapes
Wednesday - mini quiches, pears, cherry tomatoes
Thursday - left over spaghetti pie, apples, carrots
Friday - chicken salad and crackers, grapes & celery
Saturday - sandwiches, veggies

As you can see, I am definitely hurting for finger food ideas. Any thoughts or suggestions would be great!!!:)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

(This is our hands on our wedding day, 6 1/2 years ago! I remember that day as though it were yesterday!)

In my earlier (SINGLE) days, I thought Valentine's Day was for the birds! Since I met Jon, though, it has become my most favorite holiday. He takes it to the next level and showers me with love and thoughtful gifts for the two weeks leading up to V-day - he's come up with the "Fourteen Days of Valentines" or something like it. He is good to me all year long but it is always fun to see what he comes up with this time of year. This year has been spectacular and I'm sad to see it draw to a close, but it has been fun! I hope yours will be full of love and laughter with those you hold dear, whether you're married, single, or somewhere in between.

"Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love." —Hamilton Wright Mabie

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Real-Life "Fairy Tale Romance"

I just read the most lovely description of a 'fairy tale' romance and decided I have to write it down, so I can reflect on it often and hopefully pattern my own marriage and family after it:

"Ruth Wright Faust, the widow of President James E. Faust of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died Sunday morning at her home surrounded by her family of causes incident to age. She was 86. Her death comes exactly six months after her husband died.

"Surely his almost storybook romance is among the sweetest in the annals of the church," Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said at President Faust's funeral. "Ruth Faust adored James E. Faust—everything he did and said, every act or deed or gesture melted her. He felt the same way about her, and they were 'melted.'"

Ruth Wright Faust was born April 11, 1921, in the Millcreek area of Salt Lake City, the sixth of eight children of Elmer Wright and Elizabeth Hamilton Wright.

She met her husband-to-be while they were students at Granite High, but the two did not date until President Faust returned from his mission in Brazil and after he was called into military service in 1942.

The former classmates finally reunited when Sister Faust was working for her husband-to-be's uncle at the time in the fingerprint bureau at the state Capitol.

"Uncle Jim, I am sure, influenced his nephew, Jim, to pay him a visit at the office in order for him to become better acquainted with me and to see if he wanted to ask me for a date," she said. "I must have passed the test because I was invited to the Faust home for Sunday dinner for some of Father Faust's famous dutch oven chicken."

The meal must have worked. The pair later married in the Salt Lake Temple on April 21, 1943, while President Faust was on a brief military leave before a long journey in the Pacific.

The Fausts shared a deep love admired by both church leaders and their five children.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve once said, "Theirs is an absolute model of a beautiful marriage."

"My dad has always made it very clear how much he loves my mother and respects womanhood," daughter Lisa said in a 1995 church magazine article. "He has always treated her with a sweet tenderness."

Granddaughter Nicole recalled his reaction at Christmastime 1994, when the family gathered to watch President Faust open a portrait of his wife they had urged her to have taken as a gift for his office. As he unwrapped it "he pumped his fist in the air as he let out a Portuguese expression meaning 'wonderful!' Then family members became absolutely silent as he continued to look at the picture, and then he began to shake as tears rolled down his cheeks. He was so touched he couldn't speak."

It was his love for his wife, Ruth, and their family that held sway in his heart.

"With all my heart I want to thank Ruth Wright Faust for letting me share her life and giving me the hope that we can share eternity together," President Faust said in 1973 when he was called as an assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve. "She is more than a wife and a sweetheart because she has become part of my very being."

President Faust's most troubling concern during the last few weeks of his life was leaving his wife, Elder Holland said at his funeral. "As stillness finally settled over him the hardest thing for him was saying goodbye to Ruth."

"They were partners in life," President Thomas S. Monson said at President Faust's funeral. "They will be partners through all eternity."

Monday, February 11, 2008

Ode to the Colorectal Surgeon

Perhaps it is that fact that my 3-year-old has suddenly discovered "potty humor" - or the fact that working in the field of medicine has corrupted me - but whatever the reason, I found this HILARIOUS!!! Warning: if you are offended by 'potty humor' (literally) you may not want to click the following link. I personally laughed my head off and was not offended - take that for what it's worth.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

My Wonderful Husband

Can I just take a moment to express my deep and sincere love and appreciation for this incredible man? It may sound odd, but whenever I think of how blessed I am to have Jon in my life, I think of the song from the Sound of Music, "I Must Have Done Something Good" - it may sound cliche, but I honestly feel that I just do not deserve such an incredible person to be my partner in life and my companion throughout eternity. I think back to our courtship when I had "cold feet" so to speak, and was hesistant to marry him because my heart and mind were full of fears and doubts. How funny it now seems that I was so nervous about marrying such a wonderful man! I think it's because I hadn't yet had a chance to experience just how wonderful he was (and is). Now, seven short years later, I have grown to love him more deeply than I ever dreamed was possible. I admire his integrity. I respect his very keen sense of honesty. I appreciate his strong sense of devotion to God, to me, and to our family. I am so grateful for his ability to remain firm and unwavering - he truly has been "my rock" in so many ways. I so appreciate his patience and compassion. I love what a loving, fun and involved 'papi' he is; I could not have dreamed of a better father for my children! I admire his intelligence, his talent for developing SO many skills, and how he is able to juggle SO many things at once! This man truly amazes me. I just feel so fortunate and so blessed to know that he is the one upon which I can always depend, the one who will remain by my side through 'thick and thin', the one with which I will laugh and cry, the one with loving arms to hold me and a shoulder on which to cry, the one I will be able to walk hand in hand with throughout my days, the father of my children and my partner in parenting, my best friend, my love - the one with whom I will spend eternity. I love you, Jon!!!!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Menu Plan, Tuesday

A blogger friend of mine (visit her blog here) introduced me to the concept of "Menu Plan Monday" - where women (and men, I'm sure) plan their menus for the week as part of the 'quest to become organized' (a quest which seems to me to be neverending...). Anyway, I thought I'd give it a try, so here goes:

Monday - COSTCO chicken bakes and pizza (healthy, I know, but it is a rare splurge!!)
Tuesday - Red Lentil Soup, Crusty Bread, Steamed Broccoli, Blueberries
Wednesday - Baked Potatoes with cheese and broccoli, Sausage, Strawberries
Thursday - Spinach Crab Quiche, Cherry tomatoes, Grapes
Friday - Soup bar (brocolli cheese, zuppa toscana, sweet corn chowder)
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - extended Buchanan Family Birthday Potluck

Wish me luck!!! :)