Everyone got new jammies... they say "Wii" all over them AND have a pocket on the side (to hold your Wii controller of course!)

James' favorite present! Lucky kid!!!

Joshua's favorite gift!!! He's one happy kid!

It may be small, but this is definitely Jonathan's favorite gift! I love it too! Mom's getting some use out of it as well!

Jilly's gift to mom and dad was sleeping in until 9 am! What a gift! This was her favorite present from Santa... she loves to say cheese!

I got Earl a pair of PJ bottoms for Christmas too! He thinks they are silly but very comfy! I had to get them for him... he's so much fun to watch playing Guitar Hero!

There aren't any pictures of me this Christmas. I was in one picture in the background. How is it that the one who keeps the blog never has a picture of herself? Oh well... maybe next year!


Turkey Tortilla Casserole

I don't make a lot of casseroles... they take time, and I don't have a lot of it lately. But this is by far one of my husband's favorite and I'm making it for dinner tonight! When we first got married, my husband did a lot of the "my mom used to make..." and that's tough competition when he's talking about my mother-in-law's cooking. She's a great cook - one who can make something great out of just about nothing - and I'm not like her! I'm no master in the kitchen, but over the past 13 years I have made this recipe a few times each year when we have our wonderful leftover turkey. I think I've almost mastered it, as long as I use a lot more fried tortillas than the recipe calls for (Earl doesn't like it too saucy!). Here is the recipe... try it out! Warning!!! Don't make this is you are watching your weight or cholesterol. It's dangerous!

Turkey Tortilla Casserole
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
16 oz. sour cream
1 small can diced green chilies
1 c. milk
1 tbsp. minced dried onions
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
3 c. (or so) chopped leftover turkey (dark and light - chop it up and put in in a zip bag in the freezer after Thanksgiving. You can make the casserole whenever you want!)
15-20 corn tortillas (cut in triangles, fried in oil - don't use store bought chips!)
Jack cheese
Mozzarella cheese
sliced black olives

Soak minced onions and garlic salt in milk. Mix soups, sour cream and chilies. Add milk mixture to soup mixture. Layer in 13x9 greased pan: chips, 1/2 meat, 1/2 soup mixture, cheeses. Repeat layers ending with cheeses. Sprinkle with sliced olives. Cook at 350 until hot and bubbly. Use more thicker chip layer if you don't want a really saucy casserole.


The Best Christmas Ever...

We had fun at a few Christmas parties last weekend... here are some pics...

Jimmy got a stuffed hippo and gift card from Taco Bell from Santa at the Lillard's Christmas party. He got to see Santa again at our ward Christmas party that night. He said "This is the best Christmas ever!" I love how Christmas is so exciting for him.. 3 is a fun age!

Never too old, right?! Not if it means you get a Cold Stone gift card!

Erika the Elf, Santa and Jillian
(Joshua WOULD NOT sit on Santa's lap... said he wasn't the real Santa anyway!)

Daddy and his girl (she's not a "daddy's girl" yet, but it will happen soon!)

Then Erika "crazy-go-cart-driving-woman" took all 3 boys on a ride. Wow! Don't give that girl a license for a while. She's a manic behind the wheel! Of course, she gets a lot of practice, but it's hard to watch as a parent. Later I found out Jonathan didn't wear his seatbelt! I about died! He got the lecture... from a number of people!

Jimmy's helmet is so big!

We had a blast, the kids were so wiped out by the end of the night (and so were mom and dad!!!)
We love Christmas parties!


Tis' the Season to Remember Our Savior

I was just made the new Enrichment Leader in our ward and we had our Christmas Social tonight. We called it a "Cozy Christmas" and it turned out really nice. Everyone brought a favorite munchie or appetizer and we had a short lesson about the symbols of Christmas (thanks Shannon for helping us remember the symbols of Christ all around us during this season!). Then a few of us had some craft items available to make very simple ornaments to give to sisters that we visit teach or anyone else. I had a poem matted on some card stock with a simple flat head nail with a red ribbon attached. This was the poem:

A Nail at Christmas

It's Christmas time at our house
and we are putting up the tree.
I wish I could find one simple way
to remember Christ's gift to me.

Some little sign or symbol
to show friends stopping by.
The little baby was born one day,
But He really came to die.

Some symbol of His nail pierced hands,
the blood He shed for you & me...
What if I hung a simple nail
upon my Christmas tree?

A crimson bow tied 'round the nail
as His blood flowed down so free
to save each person from their sin
and redeem us for all eternity.

I know it was His love for us
that held Him to that tree,
but when I see this simple nail
I know He died for me

I love this poem and the simple ornament you can add to your Christmas tree as a reminder of our Savior and his sacrifice for us. Use it in your family home evenings or give it to someone to spread the Christmas Spirit.

With my new calling comes the challenge of organizing our "classes" or activities for the coming year for our Relief Society Enrichment Program. Give me some feedback! All of you "lurkers" who are scoping out my blog and never leave comments, here is your chance! Let me know what your ward has done, is doing, what you would like to see happen in your Enrichment Activities. I could use some ideas and help! Thanks!


Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving celebrations in our home are pretty low key the last few years. Earl took off early with some friends and ran the 10k for Run to Feed the Hungry in Sacramento. He came in just under one hour - Go Earl! You rock! I was making turkey and other traditional side dishes at home (in an oven that had a burned out connection on the sensor - it wasn't sensing the correct temperature inside all the time!) We borrowed an electric roaster oven from a friend (thanks Sorensen family!) and thankfully had a good, finished turkey. I was worried about the turkey turning out in our undependable oven, but I didn't mind cooking the side dishes in it. We had a wonderful late afternoon lunch and then had a few friends over to share pies for dessert that evening. We all sat around, stuffed our faces again with more unhealthy treats, and thumbed through the after Thanksgiving Sale ads.

We made a list of items to shop for at the stores and took off about 4:45 on Friday morning to get some great deals. We hit Sam's Club and Target and said "Enough is enough" and went to breakfast with some friends that were out shopping as well. It was so much fun! This is the second year that we have done this and I'm sure we will do it again next year. We get so much Christmas shopping done this way!

The boys went with Earl on Saturday morning to find a Christmas tree for our home. They had a really good time tromping around the woods and found a really big, beautiful tree for us to decorate. We've got half of the lights on it so far and hope to finish the decorating for family night tonight! The boys get soooooo excited when we get out the Christmas decorations and it's hard to keep things under control. My diningroom looks like a tornado hit it right now :)

I'm making door hangings with the extra boughs from our Christmas tree and have about 5 door hangings that I am going to decorate and let the boys sell for extra Christmas money. How much would you pay for one? Would you pay $15, $20 or more? Let me know...


Quirks? Who me?

Here are the rules: "MY UNSPECTACULAR QUIRKS"
1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Mention the rules on your blog
3. Tell 6 unspectacular quirks about you
4. Tag 6 bloggers by linking to them
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger's blogs letting them know they've been tagged

Jenny tagged me... thanks a lot!

#1 I can't handle it when the toilet paper is not on the dispenser the CORRECT way! This means that the paper needs to roll over the top of the roll and out towards you, not roll down the wall or cabinet it is attached to. Sounds pretty OCD, doesn't it... but I don't care. If I come to your house and the toilet paper doesn't roll the CORRECT way, I'll probably change it for you. I don't care if you take offense to my correction or not! Go to a hotel, people, and look at the way the paper rolls!!! Take note and fix yours before the paper police get you!

#2 Water... water please... water! I can't survive without my cup of water! I just have to have one close by. I take one everywhere with me... in the car ALWAYS! And if I leave it at home, I feel like I am dehydrated and dying of thirst. It's probably more mental than physical, because I do keep track of how much water I have each day (for the most part!), but it's my thing. Have to have my water!

#3 I love my planner. I was introduced to my passion of planners by my friend Lorie, and it is never far from reach. It's my obsession... if I don't make my notes in it, then I will lose the note I wrote on and the thought is gone forever. But not with my trusty planner. Each year about Sept or Oct I go to Barnes and Noble and buy the latest color. This year is bright green, next year's is a pearl-like light blue. I write anything I need to write down in it... schedules, events, appointments, etc., and sometimes even big "firsts" like when the baby crawls for the first time, or talks or anything fun. I've used it as a journal throughout the year so when Christmas comes, I have a record of what we did during the year (heaven knows I don't remember ANYTHING anymore). So many reasons to have a planner!

#4 I cry WAY TO EASY! Not PMS stuff or if someone teases me, no no no, it's not that. It's the little sentimental things like... taking the kids to Disneyland the first time (and the second time... I get teary on Main Street!), first day of preschool, Kindergarten, etc... listening to a song's lyrics that touch my heart (I'm a bawling baby when I listen to Hilary Weeks "Day of Praise" alone in my car!). The silliest things set me off constantly! I feel like an idiot admitting to some of the things that make my eyes leak (yes, Maree, we have the same defective genes!). It's part of who I am and I'm working on learning to accept and embrace.

#5 I am a control FREAK! It manifests itself in many different ways... the way the dishes are loaded into the dishwasher, the way the bed is made (I'll just re-do everything... I can't let some things just "be"), the way my kids are dressed ... I'll send them back upstairs if they don't match well enough (I'm getting better at letting that go lately), the laundry in general - what is washed on what cycle, temp setting, how it's folded/put away (my boys get so tired of me nagging them about their messy drawers!). So I admit it... It's not something I'm proud of, but I'm hoping that in the not too distant future I can learn to embrace the "Love and Logic" parenting techniques and remember that if it doesn't personally affect me, then it's not worth waisting my energy on, right?!

#6 I used to eat ice cream every night. It was (and still is!) another one of my obsessions. I live for a good bowl of homemade ice cream. I make the best vanilla and chocolate homemade ice cream. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE Baskin Robbins Peanut Butter and Chocolate ice cream. I will stop anything for Leatherby's Toasted Almond ice cream with their homemade caramel topping, whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry. I really don't need any toppings though... just the creamy, sweet, silky feeling of ice cream running down my throat is all. But, unfortunately, I've stopped my every night habit over the past year or two. I'm down to maybe once or twice a week. I'm hoping to lose a few more inches and this is a very bad habit! Thanks again to Lorie Martin to introducing me to yet another one of my "quirks". She's responsible for my homemade ice cream recipes - hence the picture above shows part of the recipe (bad bad bad!!!). You know I love you still!

I choose to have another quirk... my love of Diet Pepsi! I'll drink Diet Coke, but prefer Diet Pepsi!

OK, now I know that many of you have already done this, but here goes...
I tag the following:

I can't wait to check out your blogs!


Yes on Prop 8!!!

I was reading my dad's blog tonight and he attached a link location that I am going to attach to my blog as well. It is a demonstration of Yes on Prop 8 supporters in Poway (east of San Diego) where my sister Maree lives. It gave me the chills and had me shedding more than a few tears. I am so grateful to know that there are so many people who were willing to spend the day standing on the street and bringing attention to the vote tomorrow.


I also want to acknowledge the wonderful man in my life... my wonderful husband Earl (of course!).. who spent his Saturday in the pouring rain with about 20 other members of the Marysville Ward rallying for support for Prop 8! You rock Earl! It was raining and windy and cold and they were so awesome to stay their ground. Thanks to all of you for your service! Let's pray that the Yes on 8 vote will be a landslide!

I love that cheesy smile!


Another Tooth Bites the Dust

Joshua had a horrible time giving in to the visit of the tooth fairy recently. He just wouldn't let us pull his tooth out. Finally Earl noticed that he wasn't brushing his teeth very well at all, so he tackled him, brushed his teeth really well, and brushed that tooth right out of his mouth. Josh was so mad, but got over it as soon as he found his dollar from the tooth fairy. Well, Earl also brushed his other bottom tooth loose, so the whole drama started over again with Joshua not letting us pull his tooth out. By the time Sunday came, his tooth was literally hanging on by a thread! It was just flapping around like crazy in his mouth and making me sick! I couldn't even watch him talk. Well, I told him he couldn't eat lunch until I pulled it out, so he decided he wasn't hungry. Then I told him he could have chocolate ice cream and oreo cookies for lunch if he would let me pull it out. He didn't believe me. I took him downstairs, scooped the ice cream, put the cookies in and said, "do you believe me now?" Well, he STILL DIDN'T BELIEVE ME! So I did what any good mother would do... I tackled him, sat on him, held his arms and Earl pulled it out. This was the result... and absolutely no bleeding. What a wimp! And after all of that, he lost the tooth! I mean, he physically lost the precious tooth that he didn't want to part with. He had to write a letter to the tooth fairy. Good thing she pitied his evil, mean parents and still left him a treat. I didn't know that there could be so much drama surrounding a loose tooth.

It's pretty easy to use a straw now with so many holes in his mouth!

Don't laugh... it's not funny!

Halloween Fun!

We've been having too much fun the past week with all of the Halloween parties! The boys are all at the age where trick or treating is the one thing that they all look forward to almost as much as Christmas morning. Of course, I had just had enough of children by this afternoon that I stayed home and handed out candy while Earl took the boys trick or treating. That was fine because Jill and I played and talked to all of the kids (and too many adults and teenagers!) who came to the door. Everyone was a sucker for Jillian's tiara... she is so good about leaving it on her head. I call her pretty girl and she just smiles and laughs. She has been practicing her wave and "hi" (sounds like haaaaaaa) to everyone who waved at her. She also said dadadadadada tonight... Earl didn't believe me, but she did! Here are some of the hightlights of our night:

Buzz Lightyear.... to Infinity and Beyond... or just around the block for a little candy!

Somebody got caught with her hand in the candy bowl!

Jillian practicing her new word.... haaaaaa (interpreted "hi")

Ok kids, dump your candy so mom and dad can steal a few pieces... err, check it!


Bishop's Pumpkin Patch

Every year I love to take the kids to Bishop's Pumpkin Patch in Wheatland. We have so much fun there! There are so many things for the kids to do... the list is too long. And the best part is if you go on a week day, it's free to park which makes it even better! We didn't have a lot of time this year to explore and play, so we hit our favorite spots and sites, took some pictures, and ate corn dogs for dinner! Here are some of the highlights...

This was the best picture I could get this year... the more kids, the harder it is to get everyone to look at the camera!

I thought this was a great picture of Jonathan with Jillian ... there is a huge patch of gigantic pumpkins that is so fun to explore and take pictures in.

We went with our friends this year... Hannah and Eliza Carr and thier mom Jenny. It was fun to have another adult there to keep me company and help with the kids. Thanks Jenny!

Jimmy is my little animal lover. He loved brushing the goats in the petting zoo area and feeding them. The other boys just ran from them... they like to see them, just don't like to touch them. I don't think they would do well on a farm!

More fun things to play on....

Another photo opp... how many crazy faces can you make?!

Such a cute baby! She loved her first trip to the pumpkin patch!

And we always take a ride on the train! It's the best!


How late is too late to send out birth announcements?

I'm pretty embarrassed that it took me 3 months to send out Jillian's birth announcements. I ordered them in July and had the addresses all filled out and everything... just let them sit there on the counter. Call me lazy... I am! My rationalization is that I bought address labels to make return labels on the computer and just didn't do it. I kept saying I was going to do it, and now it's October and so I just mailed them. It would be even more embarrassing if I sent them with our Christmas card. Yikes! That's coming soon! But here are a few more recent pics I took of Jillian today. I thought they were cute, and I made her bow, so I was really proud of them.


Fun at the Fountains

We had a fun family night at a new shopping center in Roseville last Friday. Went to Costco (because no trip to Roseville is complete without stopping there), had dinner at Panda Express at the mall (kids' choice), and went to explore all of the new sights at the Fountains. Earl and I had a fun time just watching the kids. It's always so much fun to see them enjoying the world around them. We could have stayed there all night. They had a blast!

The Fountains is a really nice shopping center with (you guessed it) several different fountains spread out around the shops. The highlight of the whole experience is the fountain that shoots water with different lights and misters to popular songs. It's so fun to watch the boys and even Jillian enjoy the show.
Jonathan and Mommy with the cool misters (Joshua called it the Lava) behind us!

Joshua and James in Awwwhhh!

Too cute... had to add this one! Jillian enjoying the show.

The really fun part came after the water show when we let the boys change into their swimsuits and play in the cool water feature outside the shops. They loved to let the water shoot up their bums.... boys! And Jimmy loved to just run around the whole thing and try really hard to not get hit. It was a really warm night and perfect for a fun night in the water. They had a blast!

We spent a ton of time just enjoying the warm evening and letting the boys play in the water and then at an adjacent playground. What a cool idea to put such fun things in the middle of a shopping center. I'm totally hooked. Now, if I could just go into the stores instead of just looking through the windows, I would be thrilled! Who has time to shop with 3 boys and a baby?! Better question is who wants to shop with 3 boys and a baby? It's just not easy!



James bit the dust again! How do you get your toddler to wear a helmet and keep it on? Let me know... I'm up for suggestions.


New Slide Show...

I added a slide show of the first part of 2008 (through June). It was really fun to upload and play with the program! If you have a few minutes... take a look. I'm going to do another slide show of the rest of 2008 later. It's posted at the bottom of the page.


Earl is obsessed!

Check out Earl's latest creation at the bottom of this page. He made it, I didn't!


The Tooth Fairy Is Coming...

Jonathan had a very exciting and semi-traumatic day. He got very scared when he was in church, eating a piece of candy, and heard his tooth crack. It was hurting really bad! He came to me crying and I figured out that his molar was loose. I don't think he realized that your all of your baby teeth, even molars, fall out eventually. He couldn't stop wiggling it all day and wouldn't eat very much at all because "it might fall out". I told him it was going to fall out anyway, so go ahead and eat and get on with life. He said he was afraid he would eat something and it would fall out and he would swallow it. His dad said "That happens sometimes". Thanks Earl! Anyway, about 2 minutes after he said that he just stuck his finger under the tooth and sure enough it came right out! Way to go Jonathan! You did it all by yourself! Now, how much money should the tooth fairy give you for a molar with a silver cap on it? We'll find out...