Brainwash them while young...

Go ASU! I don't think these guys have a choice!?! They love what their dad loves. Although, Grant likes the Red Sox. I bought him a calendar last year (smaller than the Yankees one I bought, of course). Jeff was a little upset. "We don't have to encourage it!"


"Old Faithful"... Fountain Hills style

We enjoyed the nice weather at Fountain Hills Park and pretended like we were at Yellowstone. 

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I hope you all had a nice Christmas. Ours was great. I love Christmas. We seem to just hang out in jammies all day and just enjoy being together. A personal chef and maid for the day (or week) would make it just about perfect. We enjoyed a lot of our fun traditions and had a great time. Here are a couple of highlights. If you want to see more, I'd love to have you over and show a slide show of the over 300 pictures I took this weekend :)

"Screaming Bansheep!!!!!!!!" Tyler is still very excited. Even today at dinner when we were asking for "highs", his is "Santa brought me Screaming Bansheep!" Way to go Santa!

The annual "sleep in the same room, and line up in age order when mom and dad say it's time to come out ritual".  I love it!  Christmas Eve our kids said, we wait until seven and then wake you up right? Way to go... I could have gone for earlier, but seven is good. Luckily we "scored" a blowhorn at the white elephant gift exchange and we were able to hear them loud and clear... :)

The Nativity! Very fun and a little crazy. Fun to be with our Lish cousins for the first time ever on Christmas Eve.


Happy 13th Birthday Haley!


Four and 1/2 (we tried the half birthday thing)


Six (the 2nd picture is from her Olympics party, it was a fun party, but she threw up about 10 minutes after everyone left, poor thing!)


Eight (Birthday Breakfast)
I can't believe my baby is 13! I have sure enjoyed being her mom. I am so proud of her. It's funny how we shift from knowing everything to knowing nothing. Now that my kids know everything I will just have to learn from them! :) I am a little suprised to be the mom of a teenager. ( I don't feel that old ) I guess we'll just hold on and enjoy the ride! I love you Haley! Posted by Picasa


I'll just send a letter, thank you.

I had forgotten about this part of my childhood until my mom reminded me recently. I was terrified of Santa until I was at least 7. I liked what he brought, but the actual guy in person, not my favorite. I remember being scared thinking he was coming into our house in the middle of the night. Easter Bunny the same thing, that really freaked me out. A big bunny coming into our house? I always slept better after midnight (when I thought they came). Posted by Picasa


Tyler's Pillow 3.0

Posted by Picasa A dear friend gave me this pillow and a matching blanket at my baby shower for Tyler. He has loved it! The pillow is essential for going to bed and taking naps (what are those?!?... we haven't had any of those for a while now...) The first pillow lasted a couple of years and it was all but threads. My friend noticed it (because Tyler took it everywhere with him) and gave me the scraps, so I made a new one. The last few weeks the pillow was looking pretty bad again, so here is "Tyler's pillow version 3.0" This is it though buddy, enjoy it while it lasts...


If you don't believe, you don't receive!

Posted by Picasa
Jeff's work party this year was at the Phoenix Zoo "Zoolights" Santa was there and we enjoyed seeing him. Tyler especially was very excited and spent a lot of time talking to him. He has told anyone that will listen that he wants a "Screaming Banshee" (from the Cars movie). He is very excited that "Santa is going to put it under his bed on Christmas Eve"
Grant was very sweet. He told Santa to bring him whatever he wanted to. "I have never really told him anything before and he's always brought me good stuff, so I'll just let him decide" He also told me how glad he was that we got to see the "real Santa" because "those other Santas, the ones that help him are nice, but the real Santa is so nice. I've never even known anybody that nice!"
I had to "break the news" to Dallin earlier this month. I told the kids we wouldn't be getting a lot for Christmas because of the move and everything. So Dallin looks at me and says, "well, from you I just want a little present, but from Santa 'if he's real' I want a really big present!" Dallin is also the one that told me 2 years ago, he wasn't going to ask Santa for a Playstation 2. He wanted us to give him one, "I've asked Santa for that for the past 2 years and he hasn't' given it to me, I want YOU to give it to me!"
Haley is my good helper and fills in all the gaps about the history of Santa for the other kids.
I love the magic of Santa Claus. I believe!


and Peaches makes 7

When we told the kids we were moving, Haley and Dallin took it pretty hard. We felt AWFUL! I felt like, "what are we doing to our kids?!?!?! " I think they both could sense our desperation and went in for the kill... We told them separately and at different times. But, Haley's response to us (after tears, and "what about this...") was "I want a dog!" and Dallin's was "I want a macaw!" I think they knew after all these years of saying no to pets, if they were ever going to get us to say yes, this was the time.

So fast forward 3 months. You have one very happy Dallin. He has loved birds for a long time and now has his own parakeet, Peaches. (A macaw was a little out of our price range... :)

Haley is excited too, because she finally got the green light. We are going to start preparing to get a dog... yikes. I almost feel like we're having a baby. Any suggestions or tips on dog ownership.? (Other than "don't do it", which has been my position for several years)


Tastes like chicken...

My local grocery store was having a great sale on chicken. I did something I haven't done for a while, but I'm always glad when I do. I bought lots and lots of chicken and then spent the day freezing it different ways so it will be super easy for me (lazy cook) to make dinner with the next few months.

Here are some of the ideas/recipes:

Almost half of it I made into "Chicken Mix". This can be used in soups (chicken tortilla, chicken noodle, etc.) enchiladas, quesadillas, pretty much anything that calls for cooked shredded chicken. This tastes so good, and really isn't that hard considering all the meals you can get out of one batch.

The rest of the chicken I divided into meal size portions and put in Zip-lock bags with different marinades: Italian dressing (for making Chris's yummy Monterrey chicken), Ceasar (for Becky Higgin's garlic chicken farfalle), Lemon chicken marinade, the soy sauce, oil and Sprite marinade, and some Cranberry chicken. All of these will spend time marinating in my fridge, and then I will move them into the freezer. When I want to cook them I just defrost and grill or whatever. Somehow saving that step of having to marinade them makes me more likely to cook. I also do not like handling raw meat (I think I've had to take too many food handler's classes that have scared me into thinking I'm going to die of Salmonella poisoning). I would much rather handle a whole bunch on one day and then clean it all up at once.

I also did some Meat Burro Mix for when we are sick of chicken. This works great in burritos, enchiladas, etc.

Anyway, this really helps me at meal time. It's a nice addition to your "three month supply" too. Here are some of the recipes if you're interested:

Chicken Mix Make-A-Mix
11 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 quarts water
3 tablespoons parsley
4 handfuls baby carrots chopped (I use the food processor)
4 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons basil
Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Cover and cook over high heat until water boils. Simmer until meat is tender, about 1 hour. Remove from heat. Strain broth and remove chicken. Cool and shred. Put chicken into zip lock freezer bags, pour 1 cup chicken broth over each bag and freeze. Use in any recipe that calls for cooked cut up chicken. Delicious in soups. Use within 3-6 months.

Chicken Marinade Sherrie Albrecht
1 ½ cups soy sauce
1 ½ cups oil
Garlic salt
3 cups Sprite
3 pounds chicken
Marinate 24 hours. Yummy!

Lemon BBQ Chicken Gail Griffin
2-3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup oil
¾ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons thyme
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Place chicken ziplock bag. Pour mixed marinade over all. Cover and marinate in fridge overnight. Cook slowly over low heat on grill.

Meat Burro Mix Jenn Kartchner
1 5 pound beef roast
1 5 pound pork roast
2 large chopped onions
2 small cans diced green chilies
Beef and chicken bullion cubes
Cook roasts in crock-pot(s). Cool, save drippings, Cut off fat, shred. Add rest of ingredients and cook on stove top until onion is tender. Thicken sauce with flour and water. Salt and pepper to taste. Makes a 5 quart roaster pan full. Freezes very well. Use in tacos, burritos, chili, anything.

A couple of things I've learned the hard way:
1. Label and date everything (everything looks the same when it is frozen)
2. Double bag the liquid marinades and don't overfill


"What time is it my guys be home?"

This is Tyler's perch each afternoon waiting for "his guys" to get home on the school bus. He and I have a good time hanging out during the day, but he's always ready for the "real fun" to begin.


Wish you were here!

One of my favorite traditions for the past 10 years has been to either go to, or host an ornament exchange. I am feeling a bit out of sorts this year that I don't have one to look forward to. It doesn't feel like the Christmas season begins until after the ornament exchange. One of my favorite feelings at Christmas time is looking around the room and being surrounded by women that I love and respect. This year is a little different and I am wanting to let myself just be sad. But instead, what I am going to try to do is look at all those ornaments and memories that are on my tree and think of each one of you that gave them to me. Thank you for your friendship and know that I am thinking of you!