Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas once again

Another year has come and gone. It's crazy to see time fly by so quickly. This year we had the oldest two help Santa Claus. They still wanted surprises, so we tried to be careful! Someone else stuffed their stockings and they didn't watch me set up all the stuff from Santa. Sara helped carry everything into the TV room and said, "Mom, there's something PINK in my stocking." The next morning she found a deck of cards in there and didn't mind that the box was pink.

Santa brought a ping pong table. We're pretty excited about his; however, we still have to make room for it. I'm sure it will provide a ton of fun for us this year! Last minute Matt and I decided to buy an electric drum set! It was a gift for the whole family and everyone is quite excited about it. The kids have been very diligent in working on their music talents so we want to encourage it!

Christmas day is a true vacation day for me! I don't cook! So we planned for finger foods to keep us through the day. Matt made cinnamon rolls the night before and baked them first thing Christmas morning. I baked a ham and set it out to munch on through the day, as well as a couple trays of shrimp. Besides that there were yummy oranges and plenty of goodies! One of our favorite holiday treats is "Root Nog!" It's a combination of root beer and egg nog. Half and half is a pretty common mix, but I prefer mine one third egg nog and two thirds root beer. SO good...and SO fattning!

Day after Christmas we packed up and came to Idaho to spend time with the family here. It was fun having us all get together for our yearly Christmas party. We did our usual white elephant gift exchange game. This year we included the little boys and they did SO good to not get upset when something was stolen from them. I made sure to bring fun things that would be fun for any age. It worked! The laser car was the first gift frozen once Elijah stole it! I got the comic books, Calvin and Hobbes, that I brought! Jake and Trista took home the gifts they brought, which cracks me up! Josh got the star wars light saber, Matt stole the air hogs flying toy, Sara got a large amount of chocolate, and Zack got a cool top that is used to battle! Now we need to go get another top so there's someone to battle.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the Spirit of Christ through this Christmas season. I sang with the ward choir for our ward Christmas program and for the stake choirside. I also led the primary in a couple Christmas songs for the Christmas program. I taught the sr. primary girls to sing the descant for "Christmas Bells" and the rest of the primary sang the regular melody line. It sounded amazing! And we got tons of compliments. We also sang all three verses of "Away in a Manger."

2010 is only hours away. We look forward to a bright and beautiful future together as a family. What a beautiful family we have!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Longer Lasting Flowers!

Over the years, Matt and I have enjoyed many bouquets of flowers, but many of them were short lived. I don't remember exactly when, but we discovered that clear soda with sugar in it does an amazing job at keeping flowers alive for an extended period of time.

I LOVE getting roses, but they never lasted very long and I always felt bad that they would be dead in a week or less. Not with soda! Don't worry about adding any extra water, just trim the bottom of the stems and place them in the vase full of soda. Within about twenty minutes you will see that many of the flowers are opening up! I had one bouquet of roses that lasted so long the sugar crystalized on the rose petals, making them sparkle. It was awesome!

Right now I have a wild flower type bouquet with carnations, daisies, snap dragons, lilies, a big purple flower and little white flowers. There were only a couple lilies that were slightly opened. The soda has encouraged them all to open up, and the bouquet looks gorgeous and it's been on my counter top for more than a week! At this point, when we buy flowers, we also buy a bottle of soda, even if I'm giving them away. It makes me feel better knowing that the flowers I give are going to last a good long time!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pumpkin Jam!

Do you like pumpkin pie? Then you'll love pumpkin jam! It's very easy to make, though time consuming. I bet you can still find a pumpkin somewhere that hasn't been thrown out or carved yet so you can try this! Measurements are not perfect, so just go with the flow! Any size pumpkin will do, but I used a medium pumpkin.

1. Pierce the pumpkin in a spot or two and put it on a pan. Bake your pumpkin at 350 degrees for a couple hours until it's soft.

2. Cut the pumpkin open to let it cool off. Once it's cooled off enough, cut it into small sections, scrape off the seeds, strings, and skin.

3. Put the pumpkin in a large pot and use a potato masher to smash it. (My pot is about a six quart.)

4. With a full pot, I add 5-6 cups sugar and a tablespoon of pumpkin pie seasoning. Squish thoroughly while simmering. No thickener is necessary, the simmering pumpkin is plenty thick.

5. Optional: I like my pumpkin jam smooth rather than chunky, so I put it through the blender and then bottle it in sanitized jars.

6. I've never tried to do freezer jam with pumpkin, but I don't see why it wouldn't work. I prefer to hot water bath my pumpkin jam. Once the jam is bottled, hot water bath them for thirty minutes. Remove the jars from the water and let them sit to cool off. Do not move them until after the lids have popped! What a rewarding sound!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I quit having kids so I could sleep through the night!

I love my sleep. It is truly precious too me. I probably love to sleep too much. Since we bounced back an hour, I've gotten tired at my usual time, which is an hour earlier, so I'm trying to actually go to bed at a better time! I go through my bedtime routine, which some nights feels like forever, then hit the hay. My melatonin knocks me out so I don't just lay there with tons of things running through my mind!

My sweet Nanna is quite the guard dog. On a side note, she announced the arrival of my new cricut machine via the UPS truck. I'm sure that driver had no interest in waiting around when he heard her barking like crazy! So...last night we're all sleeping peacefully when Nanna hears to cats mating in the front yard. First of all, in case you haven't ever heard cats mating, they sound like a baby crying loudly. Secondly, right now Matt & I's bedroom is in the basement so that is where Nanna has been sleeping...until she heard the cats. She went ballistic. I got up to see what the problem was, went upstairs and opened the front door, which of course scared away the cats. I sent Nanna back to bed and I collapsed onto my pillow.

Not five minutes later, Nanna starts barking again for no apparent reason. I get up to tell her to shush and of course she does. But she wasn't done. She started barking like crazy again, of course after I had climbed back in bed, so I hunted down a water bottle to spray her. That shut her right up. By this time, Josh was awake and had climbed in bed with me to snuggle. As I'm trying to go back to sleep, she comes in, puts her head on my foot which is under the covers, and does her low growl, "Aaaaaarrrrrrr." This means, "I've got to go to the bathroom and I can't hold it any longer...."

You've got to be kidding me. But no, of course she's not. So I get dressed, put on my shoes and coat and head out the door with Nanna, also noticing that it's 3:30 am. We're in the process of putting in a fence. In the meantime, I have to keep her on a leash or she runs off. She does both duties (good thing I brought her out) and back to bed we go. At this point I'm thinking we can settle in to finish our night.

How does the saying go? "Hope springs eternal." Nanna started barking again a couple minutes after I was nestled back in my bed. Seriously, Nanna? I'm done with this. I get up yet again, bring her into my bedroom and shut the door. This means she can no longer hear what is going on in the rest of the house! She settled right down and went to sleep. Then I felt a cat jump onto the bed, which is so not allowed. I start kicking around in hopes the cat will take the hint and jump off the bed. No such luck. So I sit up, grab the cat by the nape of her neck and toss her over the other side of the land on Nanna. LOL! So then cat and dog are quite startled, but settled down quickly. Finally, all is quiet. Hallelujah! Is this a regular thing? Gratefully, no. None the less, I feel like I've been up and down all night with a fussy toddler.

When my alarm went off at 6am, I decided there was no way I was actually getting up to start my day and immediately went back to sleep! As good as this may seem, I startled and jumped out of bed at 7:19 am thinking all the kids were still asleep and would miss their bus. UGH. Luckily my big kids do pretty good to get themselves out of bed and ready for school. We had family prayer and sent them off to school. Luckily the little boys don't leave for another hour so I had to time to get them bathed and dressed for school.

Another harry start to a day, so I feel like I'm running behind. But really, the only thing I'm behind on is my scripture reading and getting a load of laundry switched. Easily fixed. This night of craziness is just a reminder that there's never a dull moment in the Barnson household!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween~

My kids have been asking about Halloween since the middle of summer. Luckily they're not major planners, so they weren't worried about costumes just yet. The great pumpkin day finally arrived! It's been such a busy time around here so we've hardly prepared the fun stuff for the season. Decorations came out of the garage a week ago, and then it snowed. My thought was, "Gee, I've decorated for the wrong holiday!"

My mother in law, who has lived with us for the past two years, decided to move out last month; however, today was her big moving day. She pulled up in a big truck and told the boys she was a truck driver for Halloween. They thought that was pretty cool. But it also made for a hectic day. By the time we got her stuff moved out, my house was a disaster zone. Thank goodness I had already cancelled the teenager party, or I would have gone nuts. The house remains a big mess, but we had a good time with the little boys trick or treating.

Elijah was a Ninja. He even had a cool knife with fake blood in it! Joshua was a vampire bat (one of the last of our Costco warm costumes that still fit). We took Nanna with us and she was quite confused by the whole charade. She was ready to go for a good long walk, but we kept stopping and there were lots of crazy looking kids and weird noises. She's such a good dog! The fun part was that two people said they had treats for the dogs! Nanna thought that was pretty awesome.

Our favorite house was on a road with mansions. The decorations were awesome! As we approached this particular door, there was a disco type light that was spinning in circles, showing lots of Halloween colors. The trick or treaters had to step into the lights to knock on the door. It was funny watching my boys hesitate. After they knocked, a head that was inside a ball lit up and said, "Who dares knock on my door? Do you want candy or something?" The boys were quite startled. Then the voice said, "What is your costume?" Elijah responded, "A Ninja." The glowing head repeated, "A Ninja?" They were shocked. "Well, you've got to say, 'I love candy' and I'll give you some." A lady opened the door and gave them full sized candy bars! She showed them her microphone, and then got a huge milk bone for Nanna! The other decorations were superb as well.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A new addition to the Barnson family?

With some help from the technical staff (my sweet husband), I am back on the blog and will hopefully be recommitted to recording some of life's greatest events, or at least a few of my current thoughts.

It's been a rough year, mostly natural consequences of my own choices. Ever think you are immune to certain things in life? I discovered that I thought I was immune, but I'm not. Leaving you all clueless to my personal drama, first weekend in August I decided to get a dog. This was a shock to everybody, including me, but sometimes the Lord provides an opportunity by letting it fall into your lap.

In my opinion, a dog is a high maintenance member of the family, much like a toddler. So my requirements for ever getting a dog were basically unrealistic: full grown, professionally trained by someone else, not hyper, doesn't chew on whatever is on the floor, family oriented and protective, guard dog for our property, gentle with my children, submissive enough knowing that I am the Alpha. Yes, basically impossible. I found Nanna by accident in the middle of the night, only hours after she was listed on classifieds. She's practically perfect in every way. I fell in love with her instantly because of her beautiful white coat of fur! Her advertisement listed nearly all of my requirements so I researched her breed (Akbash) and somehow convinced Matt to come with me to meet her.

Nanna is HUGE! She's four feet long from the tip of her nose to her butt. Her tail would add about another foot and a half! This was quite unexpected, but at the same time, she was everything I ever wanted if we were to ever get a dog. So...we got her. The children were all shocked. So was my mother in law, LOL! Only two months before, I had told Zack, "You can have a dog...when you move out of my house and have a place of your own!" The children fell in love with her instantly.

Nanna is the perfect name for this dog, given to her by her previous owners. She is very much a caretaker and concerned about everyone in her "pack." There's only two things we don't like about Nanna: she sheds beyond comprehension, and her farts stagnate and leave you in need of fresh air. None the less, Nanna is a great addition to our family. It took about a month for the cats to adjust to her. She's very gentle with them so they don't mind her being around. The funny part of this is that our BIG cats suddenly seem so very small in comparison to our gargantuan white beauty!

Nanna is a great blessing to me. It has been very therapeutic to have her as a companion dog for me to spend time with, which has helped me deal with previously mentioned personal issues. The Lord works in mysterious ways and I am grateful He sent Nanna to our home.