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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Studying stinks....

Yesterday I picked Katie up from volleyball and she was in a bad mood.  First of all her phone kept crapping out on her, so she was having a hard time getting in touch with her friend to schedule a study time that night.  This girl's mom was only letting the girls meet at the park ... and at 5:40 it was 108 degrees.  No thank you ma'am!!  I told Katie "listen, she can come to our house, or you can go to her house."  Well, this mom "apparently" said no to either one of those choices -- so I said no to the fact that Katie could go to the park to study when it's over 100 degrees.

So, .... that meant I was Katie's study partner last night.  We had to study Central America and South America countries and their capitals.  I took Spanish in high school.  My Spanish teacher had a cool jingle/song to work w/ all these capitals and countries.  For the life of me, I could only remember "Costa Rico, San Jose" .... not much help!  Tried to remember the acronyms as well for these countries, and again, a big flop there as well.

Finally working with flashcards that Katie made, we were able to work for an hour -- "What is the capital of Peru?"  "Lima!"  On and on and on we went.  She kept getting mixed up on Puerto Rico & Costa Rica.  Nicaragua and Mangua.  Before I knew it, I was finding ways to help her remember the capitals:  NicaraGUA and ManGUA both have the same last three letters.  She finally remembered.  I had to resort to using .. uh... some letters that COULD mean a bad word.  B.S.  for Bolivia and its capital.  Sad... I know, but she remembered it! 

However, our enemy was Costa Rico (San Jose) and Puerto Rico (San Juan).  Agh... those two countries and their capitals.  Over and over again she was getting it mixed up.  Even me singing the song I learned in Spanish 20 years ago didn't help (didn't help that I only knew one sentence either....)  Finally, I said "COJO!"  COsta Rico's capital is San JOse (CoJo) -- and Puerto Rico's capital was San Juan.  So, once she was able to get Costa Rica's capital -- we were OK w/ the other.  Whew!

Then it was coming up w/ an acronym for memorizing where the countries were on the map.  GROAN!!  Finally resorting to the internet for help.  We came up with (for the Central America)  Go Eat Hot dogs Near the Coast of Panama.   The South America part was a little harder ... but we found one!  "Very Cold Elephants Put Pretty Brown Underwear Around Children".  Sounds ridiculous, I know .... and we had to change some of the letters around (it was very cold elephants put pretty underwear around children's bottoms" -- but Katie wanted the B (for Bolivia, I think) in the order it was going around the map.

She went off to school today happy as a clam because she could remember these little tricks and tips!  Oddly enough, I kind of had fun helping her study!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Coconut Lime Banana Zucchini Bread


Last week I saw a recipe that I HAD to try out!  Thanks to Facebook ... I was able to ask a friend of a friend (thanks Jen & Cynthia!) for a recipe they were talking about -- and was able to try it out today!

It is literally a flavor explosion in your mouth!  If you like lime, coconut (I probably lost about half of you right there....), banana and zucchini, then this recipe is for YOU!!

Just go to my recipe blog here ... and read it and try it out!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Swimming and summertime fun

My girls made a few new friends this summer -- both girls are sisters, and we love them to death!  I'm so happy that my girls have good friends that have good values and are just as sweet as can be.
Here are a few pictures taken of them at our ward's pool party that was last week!  (sorry... don't know how to make it so they're not so blue!!)



Thursday, August 25, 2011

The winner is.......

Gah, I can't believe I completely spaced drawing for the winner of the Totino's giveaway!

Here it is!!

#21!  Meghan!!

Meghan said...
I'd like to organize a carnival for the kids & families as a fund raiser.

Congratulations Meghan!  I will be in touch with you!!  If Meghan doesn't respond within 48 hours, I will draw another name!  Thanks for entering!

San Antonio's Market Square


My parents came to visit us for a week!  It was so stinking hot outside -- so we limited how much we were outside.  One day we drove downtown San Antonio to the Market Square.  It's a very cool place in which the atmosphere is recreated to resemble a Mexican Market.  I was nearly out of my Mexican vanilla anyways, so it was time to make a trip to Mexico!  (while still being in the USA).

You can find all this "Nacho Libre" wrestling masks being sold here....

Lots of color everywhere!  On the weekends, there are bands playing outside, and lots more vendors from Mexico are here.

Inside of this big warehouse, you can find individual shops full of tortilla warmers, marble chess games, silly children's games, pottery, martini glasses, sombreros, blankets, Mexican vanilla (my favorite of all!), and many more!


There can be so many odd things on display here.....


In a way, once you've seen one store, you've seen them all.  Signs posted are "you break!  You buy!" (I'm still traumatized from the experience of going to Mexico when I was in grade school and somehow .... SOMEHOW I broke this elephant -- they chased us around the market.  I thought for sure they were going to throw a 9 year old in jail.).  Why they put all the breakables RIGHT at the edge, I'll never know.

Another sign is "NO PICTURES!!  $1 for pictures!" and there's a weird creepy paper mache person in which you can pay to have your picture taken with... Ooookkkaaayyy. 

Another sign is "No pictures with hats!"  I guess trying on those sombreros is a popular idea.  Why buy one when you can snap a picture w/ one on your head and call it a day?  That way, you don't have to bring the sombrero home!!! 

Here's a picture of my dad & the girls -- this is picture #30, I believe.  My mom took FOREVER to take some pictures (I kept saying "aren't you done yet Mom????  Mom?  Now Mom??"), so most of my pictures involve them looking at my mom, or one of the three are blinking. 

And here's one of my momma....


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

This little piggy ...

This little piggy went to the market
This little piggy stayed home
This little piggy had roast beef
This little piggy had none...
and THIS little piggy got shot by Katie... and died.

OK, that was probably a gruesome way to ruin a perfectly cute nursery rhyme involving children's toes ....  but last weekend Katie & her dad went hunting for a hog.  Hogs are BAD here in Texas.  They are all over the place!  While at our property last weekend, they did go hunting, and Katie managed to shoot one!  Although, her scope was off a big (it was adjusted for her to see far away, and the hog was right in front of her, so all she saw was a big blur of a pig), she did still managed to shoot it behind the ribs, but it didn't kill it right away.  Mike had to shoot the final shot otherwise it would've ran off and died.


This is 170 pounds of pure pig...
She said it was pretty gross while her dad & his friend were skinning it, etc.  Mike said it looked like she would've passed out.  ::giggling::


She said she's ready for a deer now.  :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sock Bun curls with Maddie!

A few months ago I saw a tutorial on sock bun curls .... it looked easy, and I'm all for not using heat to get curls for your hair!  So, I tried it out on Maddie's hair on Saturday night, and the end result is very cute! 

It was actually even cute with the sock bun IN her hair!  It WAS hard getting her hair wrapped around the sock == but after I placed a few bobby pins in her hair to hold it, it wasn't too bad.

The next morning, before church, she wanted me to take some pictures of her beautiful hair.  :)  It turned into a modeling session with a bee bzzing around us!

and here she is looking down at the bee that is about to land on her....


the back view of her hair... lots of body & waves!

and finally a full length view so you can see her cute outfit!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Happy First Day of School!!

I now have an 8th grader and a 4th grader!

How did this happen?

Both my girls were SO excited to go back to school.  I will have to say I was very sad that school started.  Since I stopped working in June, I've cherished my time with my girls this summer.  Working for the past two summers (and then 3 years before we moved here) has really made me sad that I wasn't home with them.  Cherish your time with your kids if you stay home!! 

While they were so excited about going back to school -- I was just a little sad b/c I must be such a bore that they were excited to go back to school!  Who wants to go to school? 

As I said goodbye to them, I repeated what I've said to them every single time they leave the house since they started school: 

Do your best!
Make good choices!
and always remember I love you!

For awhile, I used to say "Remember who you are" -- and Katie would always joke around "I'm a lion ... rooaarr!"  (y'know.. from Lion King?). 

Here is our traditional "1st day of school" pictures!!

Katie's in her last year of wearing uniforms to school.  Let me say that I.LOVE.UNIFORMS!!  Will be sad next year when she starts wearing regular clothes! :(


Miss Maddie has been dying to get a miniskirt for months now.  We finally found some at JcPenney's that actually was at a modest length!  Plus, it was on clearance.  SCORE!  She wore it 4x last week...  I think this is her favorite piece of clothing?  No?


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cheesecloth! How to dye cheesecloth

I'm getting ready to do a newborn baby shoot in a few weeks, and I want to be ready!  I've been researching all the cute newborn shoots of photographers.  Everyone has the same idea:  beanbags, up close, capture those tiny fingers & toes, use fluffy blankets, scarfs, egg baskets, baskets of all shapes & sizes.... and the list goes on and on and on. 

I've been dying to try out the cheesecloth look for newborns.  Since I don't have a picture of my own yet to share, I can't share other people's images. 

I searched high and low for tutorials for cheesecloth -- but couldn't find anything.  Just some stuff on forums, so if there is anyone else out there like me who is searching for things about cheesecloth... here you go!  This is what I learned!

I bought several packages of cheesecloth at Bed Bath & Beyond for $3.99.  I had a $5 coupon off if I spent $15, so I bought 4 packages.  I knew I wanted to dye at least two packages.  One in hot pink, and another in denim blue.  (you can also use four 20% off BB&B coupons for each package if you don't have a $5 off coupon!)

So, this morning I set out to dye with the hot pink.  I've never dyed before, so this is ALL new to me!  I only had one piece of cheesecloth to dye, which is approximately 36" x 36".  I washed all four cheesecloths in the washer on my delicate cycle on cold water.  This is where I made my first mistake.  If you can, wash them individually.  Or, put each piece in a lingerie/nylon bag.  Three of my cheesecloths were intertwined with each other!!!  What a headache!

Like I said ... A HEADACHE!!!

After I got them all separated (had to cut some of them on the edges b/c I couldn't unravel them), I added 2 cups of boiling hot water to a sand bucket along with the dye, 1 cup of salt, and 1 tbsp of laundry detergent.  Stir.  Make SURE you are wearing gloves!!  I wore the disposable gloves...  Then, I did mistake #2.  I added my wet cheesecloth (you want to make sure it's wet first before you add it).  Now, this wasn't the mistake... I just didn't read my directions further on down the box (thought the entire box was written in a different language) -- but I was supposed to add a gallon of hot water for each pound of fabric.  Oops.  By the time I caught my mistake, my cheesecloth had been sitting in the dye for 20 minutes or so.  So I added more hot water, and let it sit for about 5 - 10 more minutes. 

After I let it sit a little longer, I took it out and ran warm water through it until it the dye came out, and gradually added cold water. 

Next, the directions instructed me to wash the fabric with mild detergent. Wash it in the washing machine? Wash it by hand? I had no clue. I'm one of those people who need step by step directions telling me EXACTLY where to go and what to do. I did remember seeing some ebay listings of people selling dyed cheesecloths telling people to wash by hand and line dry. So, I decided to wash by hand in my kitchen sink.  Added some warm water, some dish detergent and washed it by hand for about 5 minutes. Then rinse with warm water -- then with cold.


Wring it out ... and I was amazed at the color! LOVE IT!  I am letting it air dry -- but I already love the hot pink color, and can't wait to use it on the baby girls I'm shooting this year!


Hope this helps SOMEBODY! :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

She's having a .... baby!

No, not me!  My only girl cousin ... Miss Kasey is having a baby!
Yep, she was the one who had that beautiful wedding in May --

She posted an odd Facebook status back in June -- and said she was going home for lunch to take a nap.  I immediately texted her and said "OK girl... you're pregnant!"  We went back and forth via text messages for an hour.  She was kind of in denial about it, telling me that per the internet, this wasn't one of the bigger symptoms that she should have.  I told her that before I knew I was pregnant w/ Katie ... I was sleeping ALL the time.  Came home from work, and before I knew it, Mike was carrying me off to bed because I fell asleep in the oddest places.  Must run in the family!

Anyways, sure enough, a baby is coming!  I took these two pictures when we went home to Kansas City in July ... but had to wait until they came out with the news. 

Love this picture of Kasey & Katie ....  Kasey would come over to my house when Katie was literally days old and just sit in front of the TV and hold Katie ALL DAY LONG!  She's going to be a wonderful mama!  She got some practice when she was 12 years old! (that's how old she was when Katie was born).


So come March 10th (or around that date) ... my grandma will be welcoming her fifth great grandchild, my aunt her first grandchild ... and my first ... uh? Second cousin? Great cousin?

Congratulations Kasey & Nate!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Totino's Giveaway!

If you're not aware of the Box Tops for Education system for schools -- then you are living under a rock!  Most schools participate in the Box Top program, where us parents will cut out those little squares found on boxes of foods we buy (cereal, breakfast foods, etc) -- and turn them into the school.  In turn, the school gets $$ for those box tops!

Totino's is giving away ONE MILLION Bonus Box Tops (equivalent to $100,000!) to school!  Four participating BTFE (Box Top for Education) schools this year will win 250,000 Bonus Box Tops to help fund a fun project for their school!

For this back to school season, Totino's will feature on select varieties -- DOUBLE box tops -- of their Pizza Rolls and Party Pizzas. 

To enter your school, or for more information, please go to the Box Top for Education Sweepstakes website.

To bring awareness to this awesome sweepstakes, Totina's, through MyBlogSpark, is giving away an awesome package!!  You will get a drawstring backpack, a BrainQuest Smart game, three coupons for free Pizza Rolls, Pizza Stuffers, or Party Pizza!, AND a Micro Rubik Cube keychain!!  (any guesses at to which item my girls are fighting over?)

To enter, do the following (up to FIVE entries!):

1)  Leave me a comment telling me what fun project would you most like to do for your child's school?

2)  Go to Facebook and "like" Totino's (leave me a comment that you liked it... here on my blog!)

3)  Become a follower to my blog! (if you've been a follower ... you still get an entry!)

4)  Get my blog posts via email, RSS feed, etc ..... and let me know which one you picked!

5)  Send this blog post to Facebook (click that little F in the bottom corner...) and place this as your status!

Giveaway will end on August 22nd .. the day I am free ... er, the day my girls go back to school!  :)

The winner will have 48 hours to get back to me after I reach them (don't forget to leave me an email address!!) -- if they don't get in touch with me, I will draw another name.  Name will be drawn using the Random Generator!

"Disclosure: The information and prize pack has been provided by Totino´s through MyBlogSpark."

Monday, August 8, 2011

The finale of our trip!

Well, all good things must come to an end.

We loved our trip to Missouri.  We stayed for two weeks.  We ate at our favorite restaurants (Lucia's!  El Maguey!).  Didn't get to eat BBQ this time -- but I was watching the calories, so that's probably for the better.   By the way, Kansas City does boast the best BBQ ever!  But, by the last night in Missouri, Maddie was crying for Daddy.  We had been gone long enough.

Here are a few final pictures of our final days:

I completely forgot my camera at this time, so this picture is from my phone.  Does NOT do it justice at all!  But this amazing taco comes from Lucia's, located on 24 highway.  You HAVE to try this place out.  Lucia (the owner) has been an amazing friend to our family for years.  Marcie & I headed over, and I was hoping she'd be there (and she was!) -- we were able to catch up a little before lunch rush started.  My favorite?  Chicken tacos.  But her guacamole is also hands down the best also. 

Since we do not have a piano (yet!), Maddie has been playing on the piano nonstop.  Here Grandma Nelson is helping Maddie by playing another part.



On our final night, Papa Nelson & Grandma Nelson took everyone out to eat at a restaurant (it's in the basement) on the Square (which, amazingly I've never been there -- but it was SO delicious!!).  Afterwards, we headed to the Cinema across the street and watched Captain America.  (hubba hubba!)


Truly, a wonderful ending to a fabulous vacation in which we were able to spend quality time with all our loved ones!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What is Independence like?

Many of my San Antonio friends have always asked me "What is Independence like?"  Independence is where Joseph Smith laid down cornerstones to build a temple one day.  We also refer to it as the center place of Zion.  Members of the church settled in Independence, known at the time as the Gateway to the West because it was the start of the Santa Fe Trail.  By 1833, many members were chased out of Independence by mobs.  You can read more about the history of the Saints in Missouri here... very fascinating read!


Anyways, I went out to dinner with my oldest best friend Jennifer one night.  We decided to walk around Independence Square after dinner.  Here are some pictures of Independence -- right in the hotspot of where everything happened almost 200 years ago.

This is looking at our cinema.  It's actually restored, and much cheaper to go here than to the regular movie theater!  So grateful for people who restored a lot of the buildings on the Square -- it really is a beautiful area!

This is looking down the the other side of the street from the cinema.  My in laws own a store on this side of the street (next to the Square Pizza shop).

This is the courthouse (well, the 2nd courthouse) -- the first courthouse, sadly is falling down in ruins a block away from this site.  There is a 3rd courthouse a few blocks away that is more modern and where all the action is held!


This was an eyesore before this restuarant was built!  The Square has several very nice places to eat, and Cafe Verona is one of them.  Jen and I ate here for dinner.  Yummm!

Another fact is that Harry Truman hails from Independence!  In fact, his home is only a few blocks away from the Square.  This statue is in front of the Courthouse.

This is a sign from the ice cream parlor where Harry Truman worked his first job. 

People who are of the LDS faith will recognize the name Sidney Gilbert and Newel Whitney -- they had a store while they lived in Independence, and this is the original site of the store.  Now it is a very fancy kitchen store with specialties inside.  The owner of this building is a member of the Community of Christ church, and restored much of the Square -- trying to keep the spots that existed back in the 1800's in the same original location.


A block away off the Square lies all the beautiful Victorian homes that were built in the 1800's.  We used to live a few blocks away from the Square -- and I truly do miss living in this area!  It was such a place of beauty to be surrounded by beautiful homes with a beautiful Square rich in history beyond it.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pioneer Day & other fun things

Pioneer Day falls on July 24th -- so usually in our church (outside of Utah), we all celebrate on Saturday.  This year, since we were with my in laws, we had a breakfast...  to our surprise, a wagon came to give us all rides!  This wagon (and a few others) give rides around Independence Square, and share the rich history of Independence -- known as the Gateway to the West.  You can see in the background of the wagon, the Community of Christ temple (formerly called RLDS).  Reminds me of an ice cream cone...


Katie and Taylor ....


Taylor's momma Alicia (my SIL), and Layla


Marcie (my other SIL), Katie and Presley


On our last day with Marcie and her girls, we took a trip to Lake Jacomo.  There is an awesome little settlement called Missouri Town.  Lots of old homes that are laid out just like one would find it back in the 1800's.  (all the homes were moved there from around Kansas City).  Outside of Missouri town are buffalos and elk that you can feed and watch.

This particular elk had the biggest set of antlers I have ever seen.  I could understand him having a headache all the time if elk were able to speak!


Now, this picture I can't get over.  Maddie refuses to feed the goats, hold a dog (that isn't sedated), hold a hamster -- but she'll feed elk?  Yep -- proof she fed the elk.


This was just too cute -- a momma elk and a baby elk. 


We left KC when Katie just finished 4th grade.  These two gals below were her best friends in 3rd and 4th grade.  So glad they were all able to get together and spend an afternoon together!
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