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2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 290 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Keeping up with the Littles!

We have six little ones at our house. Their ages are 12, 10, 8, 4, 2, and 4 months. It is crazy to think how the older ones are not so little any more, but I digress.

One of my goals that I have always had as a mother was that I could be healthy (read: not fat) enough so that I could play with my Littles. Actually I have been fairly successful at playing with them, even when I am not at my goal weight. (I have recommitted to that.)

I have found that playing with my Littles helps me to keep the goal to be able to play with my Littles. Like the chicken and the egg.

So while I am not as strong as I used to be (I love lifting weights!), I am getting back into shape by playing with them at the park! In the early morning, before it gets too hot, they bike and I walk to a park in the neighborhood. I do not have a fancy runny stroller, just an old double stroller. Pushing it gives me quite a workout. It is heavy and it pulls to the left, so my arms are constantly working simply to keep it straight! Once I get momentum going, I don’t like to be stopped, so the Littles all know not to stop in front of me – they might get run over! The best part of the stroller? The passengers…


They love playing on the playground. They go across it like it is an obstacle course. They challenged me to do it. Wow! That was hard. I felt awkward, but I did it. Good thing no one was there to witness it. The kids cheered me on, then told me I was slow. 😉


I taught them how to play Freeze Tag. It is lots of fun, but I seem to always get frozen, because I cannot outrun any of them! They know I am an easy target. I guess I need to work on running…


This was the first time I had ran since before Baby! I was tired and sore. But it was fun!


What game should I teach them next?


Finally – Fitness

I just realized that I have not had any “Fitness” entries… probably because I am NOT fit! I have boxes of cute skinny clothes that I would like to fit into!

Baby was born almost 5 months ago and I am still hanging on to EVERY extra pound I gained during pregnancy. Before I got pregnant with her, I was seven pounds away from my goal weight. SO CLOSE!!! And even though this is beyond embarrassing, I am just going to put the number out there. I need to loose 30 pounds! Yikes! I even took “before” pictures and cried as I looked at them. I had to hurry and download them on a secret file on my computer and then delete them from the camera because I just could not run the risk of someone seeing them. I considered putting one here, but then I convinced myself it will be better to wait until I have an “after” photo to compare it to… Yeah, that’s it.

Weight has always been a struggle for me. I am not naturally athletic like my sisters. Growing up, I was the “fat” girl in our family (2 boys – 5 girls). I was often asked to put on a pair of my sister’s jeans to stretch them out for her. I shared some clothes with my sisters just older and just younger, but they were always tight on me. I was painfully aware that they were skinnier and cuter than me. For breakfast I usually had a granola bar on the way to school. At lunch, I would eat ONE roll – no butter. Then at dinner I would eat whatever dinner Mom cooked – I really didn’t have a choice. I never knew how to eat to be healthy. I just figured if I ate less, I would loose weight. It didn’t work though. I was heavy all through high school. The funny thing is, that weight I was in high school is now my goal weight!

So when I started having babies, I knew things had to change. With babies 1, 2, and 3, I was working full time as a school teacher. I didn’t have time to sit around and snack – so that helped. I also started reading. Any book that was written by a scientist or health expert or scholar was fair game. I stayed away from fad diets, and tried to eat well and get exercise. It worked. I was pretty happy that even though I was never quite to my goal weight, I was still able to loose weight and get back into my pre-pregnancy clothes. I had energy to keep up with my Littles and my hubby.


My hubby’s business was doing well, so I stopped teaching and became a stay-at-home mom. I love being at home with my Littles all day. They make me laugh and teach me many life lessons. But the big problem is, the kitchen. That is where we are – doing school work, cooking, playing at the kitchen table – and that is also where the snacks are! I have a HUGE weakness for chocolate, ice cream, candy bars made with chocolate, and dipping chocolate into peanut butter. We have a cupboard in the kitchen that we call “The Candy Cupboard” because that is all that is in it! So, with the last three babies it was hard to get fit again. It was hard to not snack, eat healthy foods, and get in that 30 minutes of exercise.

Exercise. I have a love/hate relationship with that word. I LOVE to exercise. I love lifting weights. I love feeling sore the next day. I love rowing on a row machine until I can’t row any more. I HATE not being able to exercise. There always seems to be something. I sleep through the alarm. I turn off the alarm because I was up all night with Baby. I come downstairs at 5:30 to exercise and one of my Littles comes down a minute later. If I don’t get my workout in first thing in the morning, it usually doesn’t happen. Once I had a gym membership so that I would workout after the kids were in bed. That was amazing, but I live too far from a gym now.

Basically, I know what to do. I just need to get the willpower and get it done. I am reading a new book called The Daniel Plan. I am only 40 pages into it, but I definitely recommend it. I like how the authors incorporate God in the healthy body plan. He is the one who created and gave me this body.  With extra help from Him, I can do this. So here is my plan… Someone please hold me to it!

  • Exercise 5-6 times a week. At least 30 minutes. If I don’t get a morning workout in, go for a walk with the Littles.
  • Fruits and veggies at every meal.
  • Stay away from candy, junk food, soda, and ice cream.
  • No late night snacking. (You know, after the Littles go to bed.)
  • Keep reading fitness books to stay motivated.

So mark today. It is the beginning of the last time I will have to loose baby weight! I am ready to drop those extra pounds and BE HEALTHY!!! Besides, I have boxes of cute clothes calling my name!

General Conference – NEW Tradition

Every first weekend in April and October, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds a world-wide General Conference. When I was a child, we went to the church to watch it via satellite. As much as I NOW love every talk and the spiritual feast that is the weekend of learning from the Prophest and Apostles of the Lord, as a child it can be difficult to sit through and understand it all. If you are not familiar with Conference, there are two 2 hour sessions on Saturday and also on Sunday. Eight Hours!!! (For the boys and men there is an additional meeting Saturday night.)

Now a days, you can watch the conference live, on-line. So, we watch Conference from home. We work hard to keep the Littles interested and paying attention. The girls like to draw the ties that the speakers are wearing. But I struggled to find a way to tie a family tradition into Conference weekend. Then, like most traditions, it just happened.

Our oldest daughter LOVES panqueques! My hubby is from Argentina, and panqueques are the Argentine version of crepes. So, on Sunday morning, she asked if I could make them. The recipe I use calls for the batter to sit in the fridge for an hour, so I was finishing making them just as the morning session was about to begin.


Everyone came in and helped get the panqueques together, then we watched Conference.


Someone said, “Hey, we should do this EVERY Conference!” We all agreed and that is that.


Next Conference, if you want to watch and eat panqueques with us, come on by!


Our Favorite Easter Tradition

My older sister is amazing and she has an amazing daughter. Five years ago we invited her over to dye Easter eggs with us. She spent the night and we had so much fun, we wanted to do it again the next year. And so a tradition began. Each year, we know that Easter weekend is our special time with our favorite Arizona cousin!

Here are my two oldest and cousin in 2010!


This year was no different. She came over Friday after school. The kids played. We ate pizza. Once the little boys were in bed, the older kids watched “Free Birds” (Funny, right? Watching a Thanksgiving movie on Easter!) They served themselves bowls of ice cream.

In the morning I made Easter egg waffles. (Nothing Pinterest worthy. I just had three bowls of batter colored yellow, pink, and green and then layered them in the waffle iron.) The kids sure loved them!


Then after the kitchen was cleaned, and the kids were dressed, we started coloring eggs!


I boiled FIVE DOZEN eggs! Luckily only three cracked while boiling. The kids loved to see the color tablets fizz and dissolve in the vinegar.

I like to slow the process down, so I give everyone ONE egg. That way they can take their time and really make it look good. Then I give them each another egg. We had fewer dropped eggs and only one bowl of dye get knocked over. Success!









Another Easter filled with fun memories for cousins!



P.S. After spending a full day with their favorite Arizona cousin, the kids get sad when she leaves. This year when she left, Enzo was taking his nap. When he woke up, he wandered around the house and in the backyard calling out for his cousin. When I told him that she left, he just sat there. Then Arianna started to cry. She talked about how she wished she could buy a street full of great houses and invite all of her aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents to move in. I LOVE the idea! We had better start saving. But until then, we KNOW we will have her NEXT Easter!

Neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt

I LOVE EASTER!!!! It is such a fun holiday without all the stress of Christmas. Think of all the wonderful things about Easter time:

-chocolate candy

-Spring weather

-Easter egg hunting

-chocolate bunnies

-green grass

-The Easter Pageant

-focusing in the importance of the Savior

-time with family

-and more chocolate!

Seriously, what could be better?

We enjoyed a neighborhood Easter egg hunt this morning. It was so much fun! The sky was overcast, so it wasn’t sunny and hot, and the chocolate candy in the eggs did not melt. There were so many families enjoying the park together. There were so many eggs to be hid, that the good hiding places were taken so the rest of the eggs had to be strewn across the lawn.


The way they organized the hunt, the littlest children went first and then waited until releasing the next age group. It was smart, because it slowed it down and no one was trampled!

Here are some pictures of our Littles and the eggs they found today…





After the hunt, there were other activities organized! There was a cake walk, jump ropes and other outdoor toys to play with, a parachute, even stilts! The kids really had a fantastic time!


Here are a few pictures of the Littles opening their eggs…


He is so excited!!!!


She is so disappointed when the egg was empty!


The best part was on the walk home, we saw the “Easter Bunny” running through the desert bushes in the neighborhood. It is hard to see in this picture. Can you see him???? He was so fast!


Now we know where he lives…


Happy Easter!! I hope you and your family have a wonderful Easter weekend!

Brothers Gotta Hug!


There is something so heart-meltingly irresistible about one of my boys being sweet to the baby… Girls are naturally more nurturing. I see that in our two older girls. However, I think boys have a soft spot too. I also think that sometimes in the process of “toughening up” our boys into men, we loose that gentle side that loves babies and is not ashamed to show it.

So what do I do? Easy! When I need to go to the bathroom, or answer a phone call, or help another child with something, I ask the boys just as often as I ask the girls to hold or play with the baby. Our oldest son knows how to change diapers (even if he complains the entire time). I am training all of our children to be parents one day – not just the girls to be mothers!


He really brought down his books and just started reading them to her. It was one of those special moments I had to capture on film because they are both too young to remember it.


Our girls know the names of Thomas the Tank Engine and all of his train friends!

“Brothers Gotta Hug!” It is a line from a movie. Do you know which one? It is a comedy. It really does make me laugh, but I have always loved the phrase. Brothers and sisters DO need to hug. They need to hug each other. They need hugs from their parents. There is nothing as sad as someone who feels alone in a house full of people. Humans need to touch – lovingly. So whoever you are, go hug whoever is in your house! Brothers gotta hug!




Faith vs Religion

I haven’t written about Faith yet. In my initial blog planning, I thought I would write about it once a week. Somehow, I haven’t been able to get a daily entry like I had hoped… life happens. So I thought today would be a great day to talk about faith. And the difference between faith and religion…

Religion is the organization of people and their beliefs. The church you attend. The group of believers with whom you identify. The morals that guide our daily decisions. I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some times we are referred to as “Mormons” because we read The Book of Mormon along with The Bible. My parents raised me a member of the LDS church and am grateful for such a strong, religious upbringing. I know it is the restored church – just as Jesus organized during His earthly ministry.

Faith is something that is often talked about when you talk about religion. You have faith that God lives. You have faith that Jesus is the Savior. You have faith that through repentance we can be forgiven. You have faith that we will be resurrected. All topics of discussion in most Christian Sunday School classes.

But to me faith is even more than this. It is a POWER that takes those beliefs and turns them into answers to prayers. It is that step from “I hope my child gets better” to “I KNOW my child will get better.” The power that allows you to take a new job, buy a new house, get pregnant again, reach out to a lost soul – all with the brain telling you that you should not.

One of my favorite talks on faith is by an Elder in the church, Richard G. Scott. If you have a few minutes, you should study his words. And see how faith is power that helps us become a better son or daughter of God.

Sometimes it is that hard – that first step of faith – and our religion helps us make that step. It teaches us to go ahead and believe and try and do the things the Lord asks us to do. Then the more we believe, the more we use faith to follow the Lord, the easier it is to see His hand in our lives.

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Last night half of my Littles were sleeping somewhere else. The two oldest girls were at Abuela’s house. My oldest son was sleeping under the stars at a Scout campout. It was unusual to only have three! Strangely enough, the noise level was about the same…

This morning, I went to the kitchen to get breakfast for the two little boys and noticed in the back of the fridge two cartons of strawberries! Perfect for making pies!!! This is my go-to recipe for pies. It comes from Lion House Classics cookbook. I really haven’t made too many other recipes from this book, but as the title suggests, it has many classic recipes. It would be a great gift for a new bride!

Fresh Strawberry Pie

3 c water

1 c sugar

1 package (3 ounces) strawberry gelatin

3 TBSP cornstarch

3 c fresh strawberries, washed and hulled

1 baked pie shell

In a large sauce pan, bring water and sugar to a boil. In a small bowl, mix gelatin and cornstarch. Gradually add to boiling mixture. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Stir constantly! The mixture will turn clear and slightly thicken. Let stand at room temperature until just warm, about 15 minutes. While mixture is cooling, wash, hull, and slice strawberries. Place in large mixing bowl. Pour gelatin mixture over the berries and fold. Mound into baked pie shell. Chill for at least an hour before serving. Top with whipped cream.

My adjustments…

I always use 4 cups of strawberries. I like having more berries in each bite. Plus, if I use the regular size pie shell (not the 2 extra serving one) I can get two pies. I also mix in 1/2 c dark chocolate chips. If the mixture is too hot, they will melt too much. If it is just warm, they will melt a little, but won’t change the color of the gelatin. My hubby is a “chocolate only” kind of dessert guy, with the exception of this pie!



Anyway, the recipe is quite simple, however I don’t let the two little boys use knives or do the cooking at the gas stove top, so all they were able to do was lick the spoon!


Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Happy Friday!!! To celebrate making it to the end of the week (and to use the 4 overripe bananas in my fruit bowl) we made Double Chocolate Banana Bread!!!

I bought the recipe book Chocolate Never Faileth by Annette Lyons a few years ago, and I am SO glad I did! Don’t get me wrong, I love Pinterest and the ability to search for and see which recipes my friends are preparing, BUT this book has so many yummy chocolate recipes and I don’t have to put my computer on the counter. 😉

My helpers… always ready to assist in the kitchen!



I never pre-mash the bananas. The mixer can do it!



The mixer just about shook his arm off!


Here are my two main bakers and the recipe book.

P.S. Thanks Nat and Pat for the BEST loaf pans in the world!!!

Truth be told, I let the Littles eat it for breakfast. It is better than cereal or donuts!

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

1/2 c sour cream

2 tsp baking soda

1 1/3 c sugar

1 stick butter

2 eggs

3-4 ripe bananas

1 tsp vanills

2 1/2 c flour

1/3 c cocoa

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 c chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350*. Grease the bottom of 2 loaf pans. In a small bowl, combine sour cream and baking soda (it will puff up). In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter. Add eggs, bananas, and vanilla. Mix well. Add sour cream and soda mixture. Add flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Add chocolate chips and mix on low until incorporated. Split the batter between the two loaf pans. Bake for 55-60 minutes. Test with a tooth pick. Remove loaves from pans right away and cool on racks.

Enjoy. You might want to let a few bananas get too ripe!

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