Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Our First Tree

This is the first year we've had an actual Christmas tree (at least one that wasn't made out of paper). Growing up I always enjoyed pretty trees, not the homemade looking ones.

Well.....ours is definitely one that looks homemade.  We had no ornaments and I didn't want to buy any because I knew they would get destroyed.  Solution -  we made some.  The girls had lots of fun....and it matters to them.

I'm rather proud of our tiny 4' tree with a star made of iron pony beads and hand crafted ornaments made mostly by a 3 year old with occasional help from the 5 year old sister.

In case you can't tell by looking, it has been tipped over several times, all but 1 cinnamon ornament have been eaten by TJ, and majority of the ornaments have been taken off and tossed around multiple times!!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Change of Attitude

Most everything in life that really matters to me is pretty darn good:

* our family is healthy
* we have good kids
* my husband works hard and loves me and the kids
* we have had some amazing adventures
* I love both of our families and we have their support
* the gospel is a major anchor in our lives
* we are able to live within our means

The list could go on....and on.....and on.  Life is so good in so many ways, but that being said sometimes life just kind of sucks!!

The one area of frustration- finances!! I'm tired of being poor.  We have had many adventures and we have made lots of sacrifices (studio apartments, living in the ghetto, walking up 5 flights of stairs to get to our apartment in a country where we can't communicate at all, using a laundromat, sharing a car, never eating out, not spending money on anything we want, no tv, no cable, cheap phones, an old car, 3 kids in the back seat of that old car....this list could go on and on too)......

...I feel like we've paid our dues and should now be able to live comfortably.  At least we should be living above the poverty line.  Isn't that what the sacrifices were for?

Basically, everything in life is good, but I'm so tired of living of off so little that I've been letting it get to me.  Eat at me....and it has begun affecting every aspect of our lives, in a bad way.

The other day I realize I needed an attitude change. I was listening to a podcast about finances.  The girl (whose blog/ideas I really like on really got to me.  I was irritated.  The guidelines she was giving for spending were way, way above what we can afford.  If most people spend the amounts she recommended on groceries, eating out, etc...they would save tons of money.  Not us....we were spending way, way, way less on everything.  Anyway....long story short I was getting angry...but something else dawned on me..... attitude stunk.  I was letting it eat at me.  So here's what I've decided.

No, it's not fun being poor.  But, that's what we are right now.  It's the circumstances we are in...and those circumstances will change.  James is looking for a better job.  There are possibilities for him to teach extra classes in the future.  There are things I am trying to do to earn a little more.  It's not my dream, but it's life.

The circumstances hopefully will change.  But, if they don't.....or if it takes a lot longer than I want.  It's okay.  I'm learning and growing in the process.

After all, the things I do have are pretty darn important and pretty darn good.

So, I've changed my attitude....and we're still poor.  But, it's amazing how life seems a little brighter.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Some Days just feel like crying.

Then your sister shares her apple and everything seems a little better.

Friday, December 5, 2014

First Snow

That was my reaction when I saw the weather forecast with snow in it.  And, still hoping the forecast would be wrong, that was my reaction when the snow actually started falling.

I don't know when I became such a scrooge.  Maybe it has something to do with being spoiled by the weather in LA. Maybe it's because our car doesn't want to start and has a really hard time going.  Maybe I can't stand getting out of a warm shower to freeze to death.  Or that we can't spend hours playing at the park.  Or biking.  Or there could be a lot of reasons.  But, I don't love the cold weather that comes with snow.

The girls have a different reaction than I.  It started snowing while we were at church.  They were ecstatic the entire drive home.  They stood mesmerized at the window watching it fall, begging to go play in it.  Once we got the snow clothes out they were thrilled to go play in it. All .025" of it. 

I grudgingly went out to snap a few shots of the first snow fall.  And you know what?  The excitement was a little contagious.  There really is something a little magical about watching it come down from the sky.  I decided I should be less of a scrooge. 

That being said....I'm still happy the weather forecast is sunny and in the 50's for the week!!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Thankful Turkey

In random's what we had on our eyeless Turkey this year!

family walks on nice sunny days
a nice house (by sofia)
a hard working Husband
school (by Hannah)
bikes and trails to ride on
Monsters Inc. (by Hannah)
opportunities to learn and grow
a husband/father to take care of us when we are sick
the gospel
a patient and understanding wife
Cassie (by Hannah and Sofia)
doing hard things
family w/ lots of quirks and having lots of fun together
family pictures
a heater
the car-it is still running, if fits all of us, and it has cheap insurance
tooth (a lost tooth)
opportunity to give talks and get them over with
a job with steady income
cheap rent
2 beautiful girls and one crazy son

Friday, November 28, 2014


This is what it looks like when you need to make mashed potatoes for 25+ people and you only have small pots.  

It takes all 3 pots you own and boiling 2 batches of potatoes to get them all cooked.  Luckily, we just bought the large one a few weeks ago......made the job much easier.

James is teaching international students and most of them have never experienced Thanksgiving - many of them didn't even know what the holiday was.  So, we invited a bunch over to experience it. Luckily the neighboring apartment was open and James' school director let us use it - there's no way we would have fit into our place.

I probably should have been a little nervous about feeding almost 30 people, considering it's been a long time since I've made a lot of the traditional food, we have a minimum of cooking utensils, and almost no serving stuff.  But, I wasn't too concerned.

They've never experienced this, chances are good they won't like lots of it even if it is made excellently, and they don't know any better, so why stress?

It did take quite a bit of thought getting the logistics worked out.  The joys of a small kitchen and very few pans.  :D 

The heating element broke in our oven.  Luckily we noticed it as we were putting the Turkey in.  It's a good thing we had a key for the neighboring apartment...the Turkey and rolls would never have baked in time.

Here we are with most of the students that came for dinner.  The students were from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Little Scary

James and the girls were having a little too much fun with the google eyes.  Creepy isn't it?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Several months ago the girls started talking about Halloween. (yeah...we must not have much to talk about!!!) Hannah really wanted to be a princess. There is nothing wrong with that, but for some reason I really wanted to avoid a commercialized costume that every other kid will have. Maybe it's because I'm too cheap to buy the store costumes and to lazy to make my own!!!!  Anyway, I didn't force the issue, just offered a few other ideas and both of the girls were hooked with poodle skirts. Something about twirling skirts sounded appealing to them.  So....they decided to be 50's girls.  Naturally Hannah chose yellow and Sofia chose purple.

They had lots of fun twirling in the skirts!!

I thought of doing the 50's theme for the entire family, but ended up not doing it.  TJ went as our little monster....with clean teeth!

We had fun carving pumpkins.  The girls really got into it this year. They each got their own pumpkin and really enjoyed seeing them lit up.

Monday, November 24, 2014

She's Flying

Sofia had a trike.  She didn't really like it and didn't seem to want to make it work.  That all changed the day Hannah got a bigger bike.  Sofia inherited Hannah's old bike.  She was pretty excited for the upgrade.  That day she miraculously learned how to pedal and is now officially a biker.  And pretty darn fast.  For the size of her legs, she really does fly down the bike path.

Of course the fairy wings make everything better.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Much Needed Visit

Last weekend we went to Oklahoma City to visit friends and go to the temple!!!  It was exactly what we needed.  It was fun to meet up with friends remember what it's like to have friends.  :D And it was soo unbelievably nice to go to the temple together.  

Here's the cute family we stayed with.  Our girls had fun playing with Julia and it was fun to meet Miriam.  Thanks for arranging it Lauren!!

Friday, November 14, 2014


In Turkey we pretty much lived off of a 72 hour kit.  At least it felt that way.  Moving here we had no food at all.  It's a rather large task to build a pantry from nothing.  And pretty pricey.  But it was kind of fun to stock up on things like wheat, a wheat grinder, oats, etc.... (this is how I know I'm officially old and boring).  Anyway, we now have a decent amount of pantry items on hand.  Time to learn to can....daunting.

I have had a pressure cooker for about 2 years and now I have officially used my pressure cooker and canned something for the first time. 

We made applesauce....and you don't actually need o use the pressure cooker for that, but since we only have small pots I used the pressure cooker as our pot.  Worked out pretty well.

Doesn't make sense to go to the work of making it for such a small batch, but I wanted to make sure we tested it out before making lots.

There's something rewarding about doing something on your own.  It's so satisfying each time you open the cupboard.

Sadly, there's no where nearby that can test the type of pressure cooker we have.  I've found some suggestions online for testing the pressure on your own, but haven't ventured into that world yet...I suppose that's next on the list.

Monday, November 10, 2014

My Own Etsy Shop

I haven't posted on here or done anything lately....except sew, sew, and sew some more.  Today I opened up my own etsy shop, Simpledayz. After hours and hours of work I have exactly 1 item to sell (well, actually 6 of the same item).

Here's the culprit:  a quiet book.

I know, I know....not the best photos.  But I'm tired and I don't care right now!!

For any of you that have ever made one or anything similar you know they are insanely monotonous and time consuming to make.  A few years ago I made one for our girls and when I finally finished it I loved it.  BUT I vowed I would never make another one again.

So, why would I make one now?

Because I've been thinking of ways I can contribute financially to our family.  I've been thinking about it for a while, but haven't come up with any realistic ideas....not with the 3 little ones around at least.  Until one day I was sitting in church and the idea of making and selling quiet books came to me.

I tried not to think about it.  I didn't want to make them.  I didn't like the idea of the time consuming project.  The risk of no one buying them.  The risk of failure. And did I mention how time consuming they are to make?

But the idea wouldn't go away.  So, I begin purchasing supplies, brainstorming pages, making patterns, and finally sewing....then sewing some more.  A few weeks later and lots of hours at the sewing table (aka dining table, play dough, and paint table) I have several finished.

So, today I created a shop and listed an item for sale.  The shop is simple - okay, it's beyond simple.  It's plain and needs work, but it's going to have to work for today.

I'm glad the sewing is done for now.  I'm glad I've ventured onto it.  It's nice to know I can accomplish something.  And...if none of them sell, I've got some great gifts!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Summer Snippets

I haven't taken a picture since we got unpacked here.  We've been here 6 weeks now, so I figured I should probably break out the camera and document life.

I actually got the camera out, but never quite got around to taking any pictures.  I did, however decide to post some random shots I got of the summer.

Having fun with cousins.

 Here Sofia is playing the 'sleeping' princess until Ellie wakes her up.

 I'm pretty sure that dress and fairy wings were worn about every day!

 We spent some time camping with cousins

 Who knew little helpers could make the painting project so much easier?!

Surviving the Ogden temple open house on my own.

Once we did get moved it was a week until we got our stuff.  The girls were pretty excited.  Actually, so was I.  Some of this stuff has been in storage for 7 years!!!

This box contains everything we own.  And you know what?  For not having a lot, we kind of have a lot.

The girls were pretty excited to play with 'new' toys.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Before I Forget

I have a ton of phone pictures from the past few months.  I had planned on uploading them each month to document life, but that never happened.  I figure if I don't do it now it won't ever happen.  I had formatting issues, so some are not right side up.  I gave up trying to fix it.  So here goes....

We spent lots of time on airplanes.  The girls did pretty good staying entertained.

I love Sofia's sense of style.  Totally awesome. It's a good thing she's the second child....I never would have let Hannah leave the house like this.....funny how perspective changes over time. :D

Kisses for the hard work making the snowman.

Attending our first Turkish birthday celebration.  It didn't start until about 8 pm and they ate cake before food.

Entertainment while visiting dad at work.

Probably the most ghetto park I've ever been to.

The best part about walking to the city was going on the overpass and looking out over the city.

Sofia getting lots of attention from random Turkish students.

Hannah enjoying the personal attention as well.

This is what happens when we are at the park.

They like kids and they LOVE babies.

A beautiful dirt road the gps took us on as a shortcut.

The usual arrangement on the airplane.

My favorite seating arrangement on the plane.

TJ jamming to the music while we are playing at a mall trying to kill time while James is presenting.

Who knew hour glasses could be so entertaining?!

Unfortunately they now know that the toys in the mall will move if you insert money.  Fortunately, they still have fun even with no money.

Visiting the Cache Valley Fair!

Waiting at the hospital for the tonsils to be taken out!