Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bake it a Great New Year!

Again this morning, as I have many times during the holidays, I am going through my recipes. And as I have, it has brought back so many wonderful and yummy memories.
First of all, great food. Who doesn't love that? Some amazing recipes that I treasure and do make yearly. Some from my mom, her banana bread. My grandpa, his Mexican food. My friends, cookies, holiday mix, pies, cheesecakes, breads, chicken dishes, etc.
But even more than the recipes, I remember the learning of those recipes. When Liz taught me to make her grandma's rolls. When Beth taught me how to make and can strawberry jam. When Phyllis taught me how to make awesome pie crusts. Some of these were in warm kitchens full of love and laughter at the holidays. Others in warm kitchens after hours of picking strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, or cleaning apples and trying to get it all canned.
This is one of the things that makes the holidays special for me.
I love celebrating the birth of the Savior. I wouldn't want to imagine my life without knowledge of Him. I love the giving, and seeing the joy on my kids and others faces when they get something they really like. I love hearing my kids as they thank each other and exult over something thoughtfully and perfectly chosen for them. I love hearing them talk about the birth of the Savior and being tender with the baby Jesus from the manger. I love sitting down to a good meal and thinking of the time that went into preparing something that I know my family will love.
As we close out yet another year and prepare to dive head on into a new one, I just want to say thanks. Thanks to all of you who have meant so much to me over the years. I know that the Lord has blessed me abundantly with amazing friends and family, no matter where I have been. Thanks for those who have taught me how to make, and bake, and can.  And thanks for giving me warm memories to dig through and hold on to and remake year after year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Scars and Vistas

Recently, several friends have gone through some really tough things. The death of loved ones, marriage issues, hard diagnoses, etc. It has sent me to my knees many times in their behalf as I ache for them.
I was thinking about this a lot as I was driving home from a funeral and had some time to myself.
I was driving across northeastern Arizona, which in the past 20 years or so has had its share of wildfires. Fires that have burned thousands of acres of land and forever changed the landscape.  As I looked at these areas which had burned more than 10 years ago, I noticed small pine trees dotting the space as well as grasses and fallen logs. I also noticed hundreds of aspens. I thought of something I recently learned. While in Colorado, we had marveled at these beautiful areas where the aspens leaves' had changed to yellow and it looked like rivers of gold were running down the mountainsides.

A forest service worker then told us that when we saw large areas with the aspens it was generally due to a forest fire. After fires swept through, the aspens would quickly grow and spread (they spread from massive root systems). Then, in time, the pine trees would get large enough to squeeze out the aspens and it would eventually get back to normal. I remember when these fires burned causing intense change to the Arizona landscape and thinking "those areas will never be the same". They aren't. But, the growth of the aspens and the beauty they provide is inspiring and encouraging. The forest has been changed significantly and it is becoming new in a beautiful way. As the sun set, the view was incredible, scars and all.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sound Effects

Wanna have some fun with your kids and maybe even make your day a little nuttier? Try sound effects!
This all started because my boys happen to all be sound effect masters. I think it is either inherited from their dad or it might be that whole Y chromosome thing, whatever it is they make sound effects for nearly everything. Sometimes it drives me crazy, like when they ask me to play with them and then they tell me to make the car sound a certain way. Well I try and I think it sounds the same, but clearly to them, it does not and after many tries I give up. It's kind of like me trying to speak another language. I am sure it sounds the same as the person I am repeating, but I have learned to recognize the look of utter confusion.
The other day I was listening to my 2 year old as he "flew" in and out of the room several times with an enormous number of explosion type sounds occurring in just minutes and thought, "How different would my day (and theirs) be if I applied sound effects to the regular mundane things I do, such as driving to school, doing dishes and laundry and such.
So I tried it out. On the way to school it sounded like we were in a race car, with several pretty good crashes. The dishes sounded quite disgusting in very non-typeable (have fun with that spell check) ways. And laundry was louder than usual; as were doors, books and other things.  I found myself having more fun driving and it was really fun to look at the expressions on my boys' faces as they experienced Mom's version of their day.
Then today as we were driving to school, Derek asked me to "make the sounds" as I drove and that was pretty much priceless!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The IT in Me

I happen to be an IT person. Which stands for "impaired technologically". I use a computer- while contemplating different endings to its already outdated life. Depending on the day and on what it won't do, I have daydreamed some pretty wild endings for the life of my computer. It may make me sound violent or perhaps crazy, but it is just a thing, so I'm okay with that.
It used to be that as soon as you drove a new car off the lot it was already outdated, but technology is upping the ante, it is already outdated when the "i" is dotted.
I also think there is something to be said for watches. You remember those don't you? Those single function (ok, until they made them look dumb by putting the calculator on them) gadgets that make your wrist look trendy. I personally prefer the look of a watch on my wrist to the bump of  a phone on my rear.
But really, that is not the worst of it. Here's my dirty little secret---I don't have an iPhone, or a droid. My sweet hubby does, only because he has to for work. Not me. Nope. I have-- wait for it--- a slider phone. Yep, you might remember those bad boys of yesteryear. I even somewhat know how to work the thing.
The problem with technology, at least for me is multifaceted. First of all, I don't understand it! Just tonight I was trying to access my blog, only to learn that my 'cache is full of cookies' that need to be removed. Believe me, there are no cookies here!! If there were, my kids would know.
Technology drives me crazy. I don't like it when something inanimate doesn't do what I want it to, I cannot even try reasoning with it. Which makes it way worse than a stubborn two year old who can be bought off with a sucker.
 I cannot keep up with all the changes mostly because I don't have access to Fort Knox, but also because I don't have the patience. I don't have the time or energy to find a faster browser, or try to understand why it didn't load when I followed all the steps. And frankly, it makes me nuts that computers can get viruses! Seriously?! Every time I download something new I cringe as I wait to find out if it was full of junk and messes up things even worse.
Plus, they are always coming up with new smaller gadgets that just seem like an easy way to throw another $100+ in the washing machine by accident.
My kids also seem to think technology is just another way to prove how much more they know than me. Who needs that pressure?
Just last week, I got a little lost and called my sister for directions. Yep, I actually talked to a human being and laughed a little about where I was. That quick convo would not have happened if I had an iPhone.
 I don't like how the human factor of needing each other is being relegated to a device that is worn in the back pocket of my jeans. I was reading last week how the millennial generation is having trouble dating and getting married because all they do is text and hang out. I'm not surprised. When we never have to ask another person for the time, or for directions we lose out on a little something. When we don't have to have conversations that we actually think about because we can simply pull up a photo or a video clip and then show it to the person we are sitting next to, we miss out on something vital. The human connection is important. Telling stories, relating experiences, sharing laughter  not contrived by a device is what makes and keeps us human. I am not good at telling stories or jokes, my hubby is, and I have learned a lot by watching and listening to those who are masters at it. I am good with a quick quip and usually think somewhat fast on my feet and I love the immediate reaction of making a friend laugh or my kids roll their eyes.
So for now, you may get a call from me when I am lost. You may have to listen to my real life stories of life. And I may be your only friend who still rocks a slider phone. But when the power goes out, come on over and we will have real cookies, tell real stories, talk, laugh, and play a board game or two.
Personally, I hope the power goes out soon!