True Joy

Evan and Leah Wampler are friends of ours in Kingsport, TN.
They had little baby Liam a while back.
He weighed just a pound and has been confined to the NICU
for many long weeks
as he grows strong enough to meet the outside world.
Our prayers have been mighty on behalf of Liam
and we have been so pleased that
by the grace of God he has grown and developed.
The wonderful world of facebook 
has kept us updated every step of the way.

Leah posted this picture the other day.
It had the caption
Evan feeding Liam with a bottle for the first time.

It struck me profoundly.
What a beautiful beautiful moment.
How many times have I fed my four children
and never gave it a moment’s notice?
This photo so perfectly depicts 
one of the way God works in our mortal journey.
It’s a hard lesson to swallow
yet so necessary:
God lets us suffer
so that we can truly enjoy the non-suffering.
If we didn’t know the pain,
we couldn’t enjoy the joy.
I am so grateful for all the hard times I have endured
because those hard times
make my normal and even somewhat insignificant life
seem like such a miracle every day.
Thank you God
for my trials
and for Liam.

Toddler survival

Last Sunday, we found out last minute that it was one of Caroline’s nursery teacher’s birthday. 
(Is that too many possessives in one sentence?)
Anyway, you know how we feel about Sabbath worship, so we couldn’t go to the store to get her a gift.
While having my Sunday nap, I woke up to an idea for a gift. I scrounged around the house to find appropriate pieces and made a homemade batch of cookies to include.
I thought the gift turned out cute even though it was completely made from stuff we found around the house.
And let’s face it, we all could use some tricks up our sleeves to survive the toddler years.

Holly Wreath Cookies

Thanks to Donna for doing a virtual cookie swap. How much fun is that?
Anyone can join including you, so go check it out.

I am honored to be her first feature
with a long-standing family tradition cookie called
Holly Wreath Cookies.

Oh the memories of buttered up hands and brothers grabbing all the red hots first.
I don’t know how my mom put up with all of us.

Before I give you the recipe, let me direct you to Donna’s funniest recent blog post about what not to ask black people. Donna is black just in case you were wondering what makes her the expert.

Here is the recipe for those of you who like your cookies made from dirty little fingers.

Holly Wreath Cookies

1 Cube Real Butter
1 Bag Large Marshmallows
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
6 cups corn flakes
Lots of green food coloring
Red Hots if desired

First make sure you grease a few large pieces of wax paper prior to preparing cookies. We use Pam to spray the wax paper but mom always used butter or margarine.

In a large stock pot melt the butter. Add marshmallows, vanilla and almond extracts and stir until all marshmallows are melted. Be careful to not burn the mixture. Remove from heat and add green food coloring to bring mixture to a forest green color. It takes quite a bit but it definately looks better than avacado green when you use just a little.

When mixture is a good shade of green add the corn flakes. Fold the flakes into the mixture to avoid crushing the flakes. When flakes are sufficiently green scoop out approxiamtely 1 1/2 cups of flakes onto wax paper. Have kids rub their hands with butter and form the flakes into wreath shapes. Add red hots and let cool.

Another Holiday Give Away

Remember my friend Lori who won the half-tee and I asked her to give me something free.

Well, she is trying her hardest to oblige.
You’re welcome everyone for putting the giveaway idea in her head.

This post is my 1 in 4 chance at winning one of her adorable and quite famous pillows.
I don’t usually do this much work so that tells you how much I want one for FREEE!

Go here for your chance to win.


I guess I better get these Halloween photos up
before Thanksgiving gets here.

Our girls got some killer deals
at K-mart on their costumes.
Sometimes it pays to be late.
50% off plus another 20% off coupon.
Then I got another discount on Abigail’s
because we had to sew a strap on.
I told the girls that we would only spend $5 on each of them.
They gladly subsidized with their own money
so they didn’t have to make their own costumes.
I think we spent a total combined of $30.

I can’t say that I was disappointed
since making our own costumes
would require my help.

I was going to dress Caroline up
as Shirley Temple
but she barely cooperated
for wings,
so what would have been the point?

Have I told you how much of a handful this kid is?
I wonder where she gets it from?
We dumped Caroline back at home with dad
after knocking on the condos
close to home.
Here are the girls out about in the neighborhood
with our two friends Natassja and India.
It seems we should live somewhere more exotic
than Utah
when we have friends with names like that.

I just loved this shot with the pumpkin.
Notice that we use pillowcases
for carrying Halloween candy.
It’s what my mom used to make us do
when we were kids
and the tradition has stuck.
Best costume of the evening.
Obama and his Secret Service agents.
These boys are awesome.
My girls enjoyed following them around the neighborhood
on our perfect weathered evening.

I enjoyed taunting Obama at every door
that us Utahns only give our candy to Republicans
who work for their own stuff.
I’m silly like that.
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Guest Post – Jenny – School Lunches

Hi everyone, I am Jenny Lynn from simply family and designing for home. Alice and I go way back to a time when we were goofy teens. In fact I spent many summer nights trying to Tee Pee her house, only to have her mom catch me in the act. Which meant I had to clean it up. Of course I was not alone in this act, it usually involved a Young Woman’s leader driving and a sleep over. We grew up in the same ward. It has been so fun to be in touch with her again.

The last four years I have been working in an elementary school. Part of my job besides being an aide includes working in the lunchroom as a guard. Really I spend my time doing mommy type things, like cleaning up spills, giving reminders about table manners, cleaning up their own mess when done and so much more. After spending so much time in the lunchroom I started to notice a few things, that maybe other moms would love to know. This year on my family blog I have started sharing my Lunchroom tips once a week. Alice has given me a chance to share with you a few of those tips.

1. Please put both the child’s name and the teacher’s name somewhere on the lunch box. When a lunch box is found, if it has the teachers name on it, it makes it easier to either place it in the right lunch bucket or get it to the right classroom.

2. Fruit, what to do to make them eat their fruit. Well, a little container of fruit dip goes a long way. Also make sure those apples are cut up. Little ones, first graders especially still have a hard time eating the skins of apples due to loose teeth. Recently I have seen some children with cut up peaches, which in turn other children are begging for just a small piece of. Bananas don’t get eaten as well as you would think. They seem to be the perfect fruit for a home lunch. Well, they don’t always look that appealing after sitting in a lunch box all morning. kind of warm, and bruised from being bonked around as the child swings that lunch box around. I think you get the picture. Bananas and apples are the most thrown out fruit I see each day.

3. Do they eat everything you pack? No! Even if they tell you that they do most likely they empty what they could not finish right into the trash. They are not always eating everything that gets packed. Decided with your child a head of time what they should do with the food they don’t feel like eating at lunch time. Most children don’t want to upset their mothers because of the expectation of having to eat everything. There are days when a snack is brought into the classroom and eaten before lunch time. Leaving them too full to eat everything you have lovingly packed. Keep this in mind on party days, those thanksgiving meals, or other special days, etc.

4. Look at the lunch menu to see what is being served ahead of time. Then plan what days your child will be eating at school or bringing a lunch. We do this at our house. My 6th grader has loved packing her own home lunch this year.

5. Which brings me to this, please involve your child in planning their home lunches. There are so many wonderful ideas out there on how to pack the perfect home lunch. This is a perfect time to build up those communication skills with your children. Although it seems like a small thing, talking about what they like is important. I have even been doing this more with my children, of whom I have 5

6. Trading does take place at lunch,. Hot trade items include Capri suns, goodies (of course), Gogurts and chips. There are times that my children have planned a day a head of time what they are going to be trading. I have let them do it.

7. Cutest thing I see is the love notes that are written in a merriment of different ways. Many times I will have a child show me his/hers mothers love. There are times I read it to them. It really does mean something to your child. It doesn’t need to be everyday. But once in a while it is a nice surprise for them.

I do have many other things I plan on sharing in the weeks to come on my own blog about the lunchroom. I am so grateful to Alice for giving me the chance to post here.

Lyrics with Lessons

I recently really enjoyed this post by Cameron Smithson. Cameron used a great song to prove his point that if you want to be loved, you need to give love. You can love without being loved, but it sure does work better when it goes both ways.

Cameron was a Mormon missionary in Knoxville when we lived there and he came from my parts of California, so of course we fed him often. I’ve loved getting to know Elder Smithson as a person instead of just a missionary through his facebook and blog.

If you happen to cross paths with a Mormon missionary, I encourage you to ask them about their love for the Savior Jesus Christ. It may surprise you how close 19 year old kids can be to the Master himself.

In the LDS culture, we often play the do you know game. Well guess what I recently discovered about Cameron? His uncle is the wave at the bus guy I told you about a while back. Cameron’s aunt and mom left me some sweet comments after making the connection on facebook. Thanks guys.

When I told LG about Cameron’s kin all he said was, “Why is it no surprise that Smithson is related?” That was said in the highest complimentary way, of course. What cool people!!! It’s the California connection.

Anyhow, Cameron got me thinking about, how, I, like him, love songs with good lessons.

Lately this has been one of my fav’s.

I would like to dedicate this song to my husband
who is learning the other important life lesson about love.
You don’t have to earn love.
You don’t even have to be perfect to be loved.
In fact I think love is
almost received to a greater depth
when people are at their worst
because that’s when they need it the most.

LG, you are perfect to me.
Even at your worst.

Another one of my favorite lyrics is:

All you need is love.

I was really bummed yesterday
when President Monson
alluded to the fact
that it isn’t true
when talking about the
60’s hippy movement.

We love music around here.
Remember how I used Sarah McLaughlin’s lyrics
to make these adorable framed photographs in my dining room?

What are your favorite lyrics with lessons?

20 years later

Remember last week’s post about High School.
Well, I just wanted to fill you in on the after high school.
I know you just can’t wait.

This is Adam.
Remember he was my first date.
Yeah, I am pretty much the luckiest girl alive.
Adam is still one of the coolest guys.
And his wife and kids are gorgeous.
He’s aged well,
and still seems to have great taste.

This is Dawn.
She is one of my most favorite
funny people
on the planet.

Me, Jen, and Brandi.
They were my gal pals in the Del Mar Photo booth photos.
And many of the others.

Funny story about Brandi.
In first grade, after school, I walked with her to her house a few doors down from our school.
When I got back to school, all the school buses were gone.
I walked home 2 miles. 
Yeah, I was just five years old.
Nobody even noticed that it had taken me two hours longer than usual to get home.
I was happy to not get in trouble,
but also kind of sad that nobody loved me.
There are definitely pros and cons to living in a large family.

Here is our group from Junior Prom.
Sorry, I failed to provide the before photo.
You’ll just have to trust me
when I tell you that we still look just as good.

I didn’t include a photo of Mike in the aforementioned post.
I may have to give him a post of his own someday,
after all, he was my first kiss.
Guess where it happened?
In the hall, at the Mormon church across from the High School.
He saw me and came out from freshman basketball practice
to get a drink from the water fountain.
I walked home in a daze.

Don’t worry LG,
he was just preparing me for you.
You know your lips are the only ones I want.
Nica had way too much to drink.
When she cuddled up to my man, I told her where to go.
Not only because it was totally inappropriate,
but because she scared the bijeezers out of him.
Why is that so funny to me?
I wish I would have gotten a photo of LG’s face.

Eric Stitt lived two doors up.
I would have never guessed in a million years
that he would turn into this amazing comedic actor.
All he seemed to care about back in the day
was his skateboard.
Laryssa was a great friend.
She was my campaign manager
and helped me win that election for Sophomore class president.
I guess I am indebted to her forever
for feeding my need for attention.
Thank you Laryssa for befriending my anti-social hubby.
I guess you have always been good with the men that I love.
(She used to date my brother)

Last but very well not least.
Fred. I included this blurry photo
because I couldn’t leave Fred out.
He was my best entertainment.
I can’t even imagine what the party
would have been like if Todd had joined us from Hawaii.
We would have definitely needed to find a photo booth
and lured some unsuspecting people in for a smell
of the reunited Team Flatulence.
And just like in high school,
I would have ran the other direction

while laughing hysterically.

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High School

I loved high school.
I really did.

Attending my 20 year reunion
was so much fun.

Almost as fun as digging out the old photos.

Feel free to ignore this post.
There are lots of pictures from the 80’s.
It’s for the family history
after I’m dead and gone.

Softball team.
This wasn’t the coach that checked me out in the locker-room
which creeped me out and made me quit.
My team probably just thought I was a flake
when I quit showing up to practices without explanation.
They now have the explanation
I felt unable to verbalize in 1991.
No, I’m not a homophobe.
Just a fan of appropriate
student-coach relationships.

Chamber singers.
It was an awesome place to be.
That’s me and Jen up front.
We sang together at graduation.

This was my best attempt at the
Julia Roberts look-alike contest.
Dang, I was smokin’ hot.
It broke my prom date’s heart
when I wouldn’t sleep with him.
Has enough time gone by to admit that publicly?
Sorry Ben,
but my husband thanks you
from the bottom of his heart.

The ladies on graduation night
right before we stuffed in a limo
and drove around town all night.

Me, Shelly, and Anna
on New Year’s Eve.

ASB retreat.
We had so much fun.
Have no idea why Kelly and I were trying to seduce a tree.

Me and Travis Parker.
Travis Matthew Parker.
He was quite possibly the person who knew me best.
We could talk about anything and everything
and we always had intellectually stimulating conversations
while simultaneously having a really great time.
I crushed on him forever.
We then dated.
I got freaked out.
I never told him it was because I didn’t want to
disappoint yet one more boyfriend by not having sex.
You now know the truth Travis.
Somehow, I think I should have just been honest with him.
Here we are on choir tour.
I was bloated and we were messing around.
Pretty amazing that I could blow enough air into my belly to look 8 months pregnant.
Poor LeGrand.
I’ve never looked this good for him when I was 8 months preggers.

Jen, me and Kristen on the infamous wave.
It’s amazing to me how people figure out how to screw
teenagers out of all their lunch money.
I wonder how much I forked over collectively 
for the 10 different poses I have in the box out in the garage?
This one means the most because
Kristen is my only high school friend who I wish with all my heart was still alive.
My sister and I with our Christmas pajama dance dates.
Greg later married Jen up above.

Homecoming 1991.
My first date.
It was the day after my 16th birthday.
Anna’s brother Adam took me.
And I still apologize to this day for
ridiculing him with my awful taste in semi-formals.
The ladies I am with in the photo
got into a tragic car accident later in the evening.
We prayed over Stephanie for a long time.
The day she finally came back to school
was pretty much a miracle.
I can’t remember another time in high school
that I was that happy.

The Del Mar Fair.
Check out Todd and Fred
at the bottom.
They were Team Flatulence,
so you can imagine what is going on in the photo.
This is me with Melanie and Angela.
They were my only friends in junior high
and always my best of friends,
even if sometimes we only hung out at church.

On our way out to the dance club.
Yeah, my parents thought I was bowling.
To be honest, I would have rather been bowling.
I hate dancing.
Even that one dance with Chuck Alberton
was completely and totally not worth it.
Thanks to Mike Rice for bribing him into it.
20 years later, as he walked in the reunion,
Jen and I turned to each other simultaneously, 
and replayed the moment
for the 200th time.
Hi I’m Alice.
I know.
He was our freshman class president.
I was sophomore class president.
I crushed on him for three years.
I even requested Notre Dame memorabilia
because it was his favorite school
and when given that one moment
to make an impression
that was all I could come up with.
What a dork I was.
And my friends were the best to remind me.

Me and Shelly with her mom and dad.
Rest in peace Chuck Duff.
I want you to know that I am so happy that I am now married to an attorney
because I was always so jealous of Shelly
when she could threaten her way out of any situation
with my dad is going to sue.
In Napa Valley
on choir tour.
What cute boys.
I have no recollection of the guy left of Todd.
I already told you about Travis.
Next to me is Stephen Blake.
He moved to Carlsbad in 7th grade
from Boston.
I would hound him relentlessly
to say the word “car.”
So sexy.
And look at his hair.
All the girls were always jealous.
Facebook has informed me that
Steve is in a popular band.
How fitting.
I wonder if he still has the same hair?
The girls outside the choir tour bus.
Those pearls almost make us look innocent.
How naughty of us pulling down our sleeves like that.

Spaghetti dinner, jr year I believe.
We sang a 50’s medley
and worked out butts off to build our own arrangements.

Homecoming was always the BEST.
We would rent out a warehouse for a week
where everyone would stay all night
building the floats.
Or at least some of us would actually do the work.
These are all working girls
except that girl in the front left.
I have no idea who she is.
Some surfer girl that Shelly sucked into the picture.

The same p.j. dance the next year.
That’s me and Matt Jewell.
We were scandalous.
I was a senior,
he was a freshman.
I saw him singing and dancing with his 8th grade show choir
when I was a junior and knew instantly
that I would make him my boyfriend the next year.
 He was officially my longest relationship
until my husband.
6 months I think.
Man, he broke my heart.
The only boy to ever break up with me.
After him I got smart
and did the breaking up first.
On this very night,
everyone else had to wait on us
because Matt was so late
because he had to play in an away
freshman basketball game.
So funny.

This is Jeff Graf, Chelsea and I.
Chelsea was one of those insanely popular girls,
and I was delightfully surprised when we had ASB together
at how normal and down to earth she really was.
We had some great talks.
I believe she and her blogging bestie shunned me at the reunion though
so I will refrain from linking to their very popular blog.
I may just have been sensitive that night,
but there is nothing like being out of high school
and not needing to be loved.
Pretty sure she doesn’t read my blog
so it’s all good.
I show you this picture
because you just had to see
that I had the coolest  hair of the 80’s.

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Potter Gold

Have I ever told you about the time
that I told LG that I thought Potter
would be a really cool first name for a boy?
I like surnames for boys.

LG looked at me
and said,

“Yeah, seriously.”

“Alice. Think harder.”

Me: “What?”


“Yeah Potter.
Isn’t it cute?”

“Hmm. Potter.”
(giving me more time to think)
“Potter Gold.”
(said with his best British accent)

“Oh no!
Well, maybe someone else can use it.”

One, it just can’t go with Gold.
Two, everyone knows
we will never get a boy.

Here are some more photos of our
farewell to Potter.

Me and my main man.
Before the party.

Me as Bellatrix.
I love how this photo turned out.
Don’t mine the cleavage please.
Don’t mess with me.

This is Launi.
It was her party that we attended
for our final Potter premiere.

LG at the party.

I so wanted to use the real word on his shirt.
Maybe if we were still in TN.
I decided to censor
Mrs. Weasley’s
B word.
Making me a better mother.

Here is Mad Eye Moody
as a boy.

Harry Potter comes to the 21st
century as a middle aged boxer.

All the prizes.

The sorting hat.

Hagrid and Mrs. Trelawney.
I never knew they were married.
Doesn’t LG look so excited
about our big date night.
Thanks for being a good sport honey.
I wish LG could have figured out a way to
smuggle home Dobby.

Yummy couldron cakes
from Sweet Tooth Fairy.

Here is Lyndi Lou.
Launi is her mom.
I’m her visiting teacher.
I love this man.
I think that
Gryffindor’s beanie works for him.

Not quite the same.
But close enough.

Caroline sports Tom Riddle’s diary
for the matinee the next day.

Abigail pretending she is about
to get on the Hogwart’s Express.

Bella is as close as we are going to get
to having a real Potter Gold.
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