Tuesday, December 30, 2008

By Jove, I think he's got it!

I want you to take a look at something I've found, passed on to me by a friend with a sincere interest in children and education. I think that it's safe to say that this is something that most people who follow my blog are interested in. 

This man, Sir Ken Robinson, is profound. He's intelligent. He's amusing. But he's more than that. He's an individual with the uncanny recognition of creativity in our youth, or the dissipation thereof rather, and why it might be dwindling right before our eyes. 

I hear so many people say "I have no talents." And each time I hear it, whether it is spoken in a conversation I am engaged in, or just overhearing someone in the supermarket, I think the same thing, "Bull." 
This guy is on the same page.

Watch this 20 minute video and tell me what you think. 

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Just another day...

Today I...

got out of bed
stubbed my toe on the bathroom wall
after saying "OW!" out loud, realized I had a sore throat
spent 15 minutes deciding what to wear
stared at my shoe rack for 10 additional minutes
brushed my teeth
put on my makeup
changed my clothes
asked husband if I should wear hair down or up - he said down
I put my hair up
changed my shoes
switched out my purses to match my outfit
made up the bed with husband
picked up dirty clothes and hangers
picked up trash from Christmas on my bedroom floor
realized I'd been up for 45 minutes and had not made it out of my bedroom yet
went downstairs to eat breakfast
stared in the fridge for 5 minutes
decided to skip breakfast
marked off my to-do list "eat breakfast"
started a load of laundry
marked off my to-do list "start laundry"
picked up clutter all over downstairs
marked off my to-do list "pick up clutter"
straightened askew living room furniture
wondered why I had to straighten askew living room furniture
eyeballed the dogs
let them out to potty
watched dogs potty
started washing dishes
remembered I have 4 children
called children downstairs to wash dishes
joyfully marked off to-do list "wash dishes" 
broke up a cat fight between big black cat and calico cat
put big black cat outside
let little black cat inside
held and pet little black cat
realized it rained last night
sighed heavily
dried little black cat off
changed clothes
switched out purses again to match new outfit
decided to go to movies with kids and husband
husband said hurry
kids go same speed as always but say they ARE hurrying
husband asked children to find all 4-legged creatures and put them outside
found 3 of the 5 creatures
remembered 1 was already outside
found 5th creature - pried her off satin vanity stool
mission accomplished
we gathered at the front door
husband gets phone call
I say don't answer
he answered
we waited 20 minutes
kids scatter and are lost
saw grass from outside in the foyer
it annoyed me
got broom and swept entire downstairs
marked off my to-do list "sweep downstairs"
husband hangs up phone
located children with tracking device (i.e. snacks)
opened front door
karate chopped and ninja kicked animals away from door
piled in the car
fussed about seating arrangement
husband lost
drove to Sherman
went to eat at Olive Garden
ate something I have not eaten in years
remembered why I had forbidden myself to eat it in the first place
vowed never to eat it again
blamed lack of control on "that time of the month"
felt justified
went to see Marley & Me
laughed some more
cried some more
guy next to me told me he had kleenex for sale 2 for $1
I laughed
secretly scowled at man next to me
tried not to cry again
left the movies
husband went to work
made weekly menu
made Wal-Mart list
organized cookbook shelf
found food magazine I had not looked through yet
read food magazine
changed weekly menu
made new Wal-Mart list
fed children dinner
told children to watch TV
sat on couch to relax
heard strange and very loud noises upstairs
asked 4 children what was going on
got 4 different answers
asked politely if they would stop
heard 3 "yes ma'am's" and a "yes sir"
sat on couch and tried to relax again
made to-do list for tomorrow
heard running upstairs
asked children if they were running from Sasquatch
got no reply
asked children if Sasquatch ate them
heard "who's Sassy Squash?"
told children to be quiet or I was Sassy Squash and would eat them
decided trying to relax was useless
laid out food for tomorrow to thaw
remembered I am out of milk, eggs, potatoes, basically anything worthy of cooking a meal with
decided to lay out my clothes for tomorrow to try and save time in the morning
laughed at myself
put clothes back in closet
wondered why I do that
contemplated it being a disease and wondered if it had a name or a pill
realized it wouldn't matter because I'd be in denial that I even had a disease in the first place
decided to go to bed
sent children to bed first
1 hour passed before all 4 children were located and secured
changed into pj's
began reading new book husband got me for Christmas
heard scratching and big black cat meowing outside
got out of warm bed
let big black cat in
dog rushed out
watched dog go potty
let dog in
dog wanted treat
tried to find treats
gave dog last mini blueberry muffin instead
wondered where that was this morning for breakfast
got back in now cold bed
picked up book again
big black cat jumped on bed 
big black cat laid in front of book - blocked view
big black cat drooled on book
I put book down
turned out lights
little black cat jumped on bed, annoyed big black cat
made cats get off bed
listened to cats play-fight for 30 minutes
contemplated how wonderful my life is
thanked my Heavenly Father

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On The Twelfth Day of Christmas My Parents Gave to Me...

...the coolest quilt ever!!

I wanted to give my kids something this Christmas that they'd always remember; that wasn't just a toy or something they'd grow out of and forget but something that encompassed the best of them and their dad and I and their memories from so far in their life...something that when I'm gone, they'd fight over.

I gathered some of their old clothes and made quilt squares, their personal school pictures, pictures of our pets and our most recent family picture and photocopied them onto fabric then sewed them into more quilt squares. I also took them to Hobby Lobby and let them pick out some Christmas fabric not giving a hint as to what it was for. I took all of this and made a simple rag quilt. It's the first quilt I've ever done! And I couldn't have done it without the help of my so very patient mom. (Thanks to me, she's a professional seam-ripper!)

For someone who is a tad OCD and a tid-bit of a perfectionist, this quilt drives me insane. The colors clash and it is the farthest thing from being "beautiful". But for someone who is so extremely sentimental and addicted to making my kids happy, it is absolutely perfect! It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
To the best children a mother could ever hope for. I love you!!!!

On The Eleventh Day of Christmas My Parents gave to Me...

...homemade pillowcases!

They're nothing fancy. I mean, they'll use them for sleepovers and special occasions and that's probably it. Again, the perfectionist in me is cringing but if the kids love them, that's all that matters.

Monday, December 22, 2008

On the Tenth Day of Christmas My Parents Gave to Me...

...brand new pajamas!

There's no pictures for these yet because they can't wear them until Christmas Eve. But I promise pictures will be posted soon!!

In the meantime, here are some photos from tonight's caroling rendezvous for your enjoyment!

This was before we left...while we could still feel our fingers and toes.
Just getting started.

First wind chill.

Mike had a good idea but I think his outfit was picked apart but the other frozen bodies on board.

And Brady's hat rocked!

The missionaries....blublublublub....blublubblu.....blublu.

We rocked the neighborhood, we did!

Ok, Matt was being a pansy.

Not sure what was going on here.

Me and Jesse found new uses for our hand warmers. They actually kept your entire face warm when you held them here.
Miss Photogenic and myself.

Look, it's Jack Frost himself!

On the Ninth Day of Christmas My Parents Gave to Me...

...a gourmet breakfast!

This meal was complete with chocolate chip hazelnut pancakes, 2 strips of bacon, fresh fruit with vanilla yogurt cream, and toast with butter and jam. It was waaayyy too much and there were tons of leftovers but it was sooo good!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On the Eighth Day of Christmas My Parents Gave to Me... ice skating!

I was the first of the 2 parental "role models" for our children to try going around the little rink full of teenagers and 5 year olds who could spin pretty little figure 8 circles around me. This was me and the little ones just before we ventured out on the ice. The older ones were already out on the ice working on their triple axles.

Just checking to make sure that wall is secure. Don't need any little kids knocking it down or anything. "Hey Julia, wait for me!"

And round and round we go! I was just beginning to get comfortable in the skates.

Now, it was time for the old man, I mean my husband, to try it.

I love this shot. The blind leading the blind.

Another great shot. Garrett said he wanted dad to teach him to ice skate. At this moment, Garrett had just spun a 360 plus some while still holding on to dad's hand who I think was holding on to Garrett's hand for his own support while confident teenagers whizzed by. Little man was holding on to daddy's leg for any form of steadiness he could find. How this didn't turn out totally disastrous, I don't know.

I was so proud of Daphne and Abby, neither of which had ever been ice-skating and they picked it up so fast! Like pros!

Here's Abby just being Abby. "I'm free! Free like the wind!"

Look at little Julia go! She was so proud of herself for doing this!! She even fell twice and still kept going.

And Garrett had such a good time skating with the wall!

This was the only shot that got all the kids (and wall-hugging mom) in one frame.

Aahhh...This was fun but it's so nice to have our comfy shoes back on!

On the Seventh Day of Christmas My Parents Gave to Me...

...disposable cameras!
I don't know about your kids, but my kids love to take pictures. So, I thought what a great give them their own non-breakable, non-expensive, non-make-mom-and-dad-really-mad-if-you-lose-or-break-it camera to take pictures with. There was only 27 pictures on each camera...that should last about a week.

Or an hour.

Friday, December 19, 2008

On The Sixth Day of Christmas My Parents gave to Me... night with popcorn!

What could be better for 4 young children than getting to stay up late?
Getting to stay up late on a school night watching Miracle On 34th Street whilst eating popcorn and stuffing themselves full of Christmas shaped marshmallows!!!

Tell me I don't love my kids!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On the Fifth Day of Christmas My Parents Gave to Me...

....pluuuumm pu-uu-dding!

I found this recipe and decided since we sing about sugar plums during Christmas I'd try to make Sugar Plum Pudding. Brilliant!!
Did you know that most Sugar Plum Pudding recipes don't even call for plums? How does THAT work?
Anyway, the recipe I used did call for something called beef suet.
Hmmm...yeah, I had to look it up. According to Webster's Dictionary it's the hard fatty tissue around the loins and kidneys of cows and sheep. It looks like this:

Yummy! *staving off the gag reflex*
Seriously, I want to know who ever looked at this stuff and thought, "I bet this righ' c'here would be downright good-eatins' in some Plum Puddin'."

Well, I needed 2 full cups of the stuff! Shredded, because we can't digest it correctly if it's not shredded. I figured I'd been so good this far into the holidays about saying no to 2nds or 3rds on dessert that, heck!, let's just kill ourselves with an overdose of lard pudding!
Yes, brilliant idea. I keep telling myself that.
Well, immediately upon reading about "beef suet" I did what any good cook would do...I started looking for substitutes.
Every place I looked said I could use real butter instead but "it's just not the same" or "you'll be sorry you didn't go with the suet".
So, I made a phone call to our local slaughterhouse...

Me: "Yes, do have something called beef su-wet?"
Lady: "Huh?"
Me: *giggling nervously because I'm already feeling like an idiot.* "Um, I have a recipe that calls for beef su-wet. Do you guys carry anything like that?"
Looong pause. I felt like hanging up to save myself the embarrassment. Of course she didn't have su-wet. This is Durant, America!
Lady: "Oh! Su-it! Sure 'nough, we got su-it! How much you need?"
Me: I was so giddy with excitement I sounded almost shrill. "2 cups, shredded!"
Lady: "Ok. Well, we don't shred it but you can come by and pick it up anytime today, hon."
Me: "Thank you!"
I should have known - of course they have su-it! This is Durant, America!

When I went to pick it up the lady came out to greet me and gingerly asked if I was certain my recipe called for beef suet. (This did not give me hope.) I assured her I read it correctly and asked her how much I owed.
She handed me 3 pounds of the stuff and told me it was on the house.
Whatever hope I had of this 5th day of Christmas NOT being completely ruined was now utterly squashed. I had just been handed the leftovers, the what-the-slaughterhouse-dogs-don't-even-want leftovers, the I-have-no-idea-what-to-with-this-stuff- other-than-use-it-in-a-nasty-prank-on-my-worst-enemy leftovers.

(On a side note, had I known how very laborious and time-consuming actually trying to shred that stuff was going to be, I would've begged on my hands and knees, maybe even cried, for that lady to shred it for me or to at least have saved me the trouble and heartache and shot me right then and there! 1 1/2 hours of trying to shred hard, fatty tissue is not my idea of Christmas cheer.)

I drove home and skimmed over the directions for the recipe. They were not long instructions but they hid major details in seemingly innocent casual words like "boil", "mold", "foil", "steam", and "hours". I decided I needed to start immediately for it to be done by dinner time.
That was at noon.
It is now 5:30 pm.
I can't see the pudding under the layers of foil that are so carefully tied around it.
I have no idea whether it's actually making anything worthy of eating or perhaps planning to destroy the country by turning into the next generation Blob.
And the make shift rack I made turning a small plate upside down in the bottom of my "kettle" (i.e.: big red stockpot), shattered 2 hours ago.
At times it smells really good.
Other times I get a whiff of something burning.

So I can stop biting my nails to the quick, this might be a good time to share the recipe for any of those who dare try this at home.

Sugar Plum Pudding
4 slices of bread
1 cup of milk
1 cup of flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. mace
2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped dates
2 slightly beaten eggs
6 oz. (2 cups) beef suet
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla

Tear bread slices into pieces. Soak torn bread in milk; use a fork to break up well. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and the rest of the spices in a separate bowl; add raisins and dates. Mix well. To the bread/milk mixture, add the eggs, beef suet, brown sugar, orange juice, and vanilla. Stir bread-suet mixture into the flour mixture. Pour into a greased 2qt. mold; cover with aluminum foil and tie securely with string. Place on a rack in a deep kettle; pour in 1 inch of boiling water and put the lid on the kettle. Steam 3 1/2 hours, adding more water when needed. Cool about 10 minutes before taking pudding out of mold. Serve warm with Fluffy Hard Sauce (recipe to follow). Serves 12.

Fluffy Hard Sauce
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
1 stiffly beaten egg white

Cream together butter and vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar. Cream together until fluffy. Fold in egg white.

Here's a picture of the "mold" (i.e.: my 2 qt. glass Pampered Chef bowl) steaming in the big red "kettle".

Here is a slice of the finished product.
Drum roll, please...

TA-DA! It worked!! It came out perfect and I came out of it all alive!
(I didn't realize it's not like a creamy pudding at all, but more like a cake).
Despite the fact that I spent my entire day wrestling with a fabulously fatty and finicky pudding, it was all worth it in the end. It was amazing! The entire family and even our missionaries enjoyed it! I hope you do, too...
...because I'm NEVER making it again!

On the Fourth Day of Christmas My Parents Gave to Me...

...a night on the town!

I brought my camera  for this one, however, no memory card. Go figure! So, no pics this time but here's what we did...

We took the kids to Books-a-Million and let them pick out a book they wanted because they love to read. However, Daphne's book is having to be tossed because the book has cuss words in it! Can you believe that!? It was in the Junior's section and it looked perfectly reasonable for a 10 year old. But she started reading it out loud and was like, "Whoa, this is a wordy-durd and I can't say that." Thank goodness she understands and is so willing to do the right thing and get rid of it!

Then, we took them to Chick-Fil-A, their all-time favorite place to eat (mine, too) and let them eat ice cream and play till their hearts' content. 
Just 8 more days left!! 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On the Third Day of Christmas My Parents Gave to Me... ornament craft!

I found this cute craft at Hobby Lobby and couldn't pass it up. You take some of these...

...and put on one of these...

...then one of these...

...and this is what you get!

We had so much fun doing these for FHE that we stayed up till almost 1 a.m. making them!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

On the Second Day of Christmas My Parents Gave to Me... cocoa mugs!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

On the First Day of Christmas My Parents Gave to Me...

...a photo op with Santa at the Mall!

After standing in the never ending line of screaming kids and even louder parents which looked like this...

...we made it to see the Jolly Old Elf himself!!
When asked what they wanted for Christmas this is what my children had to say:

Daphne: "I'm good with whatever." (I was surprised to find myself a little misty-eyed watching her stand there talking to him this year, what with her discovery and all.)

Abby: "I'm good with a new little puppy." (As if the 2 dogs and 3 cats we have at home aren't enough.)

Julia: "Can I please have some real make-up and a fake baby doll and a fake puppy? Thank you." (FAKE. She is such a good girl!)

Garrett: "I want some clean Spider Man shoes." (At this point, I'm certain I saw Santa look at me in my $100 jeans and American Eagle top in my suede boots and crinkle his nose. My stocking may very well be full of coal this year.)

I do have to mention that while we were standing in line, there was one of those big blue donation things where you put a coin into the slot and it spins around and around and around in this funnel before falling into the very middle, like this one...

Julia and Garrett were mesmerized watching the coin turn in circles getting faster and faster until it dropped into the middle. Garrett asked me where the money went. I said it went in the middle of the big bucket. Then, he wanted to know who gets the money. I told him it would be donated to some people who really needed it.
He paused for a moment and said, "But, mom YOU need it."
With that said, any donations may be sent directly to my home. Make checks payable to Carissa Mason: Foundation For the Financially Frivolous.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

All I Want For Christmas is...

Tell me that is not the funniest thing you've ever seen!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

This is the stuff that life is made of...

Nothing but a gold digger...

My son got his first "nose bleed" today...

"SEE!?" he says to me shoving a little blood-stained index finger in my face, and he was in a freakish panic before the hysteria of laughter escaped me and I grabbed the camera.
We washed his hands and I gave him a reassuring pat on the back and sent him on his way.

I guess he realized it wasn't life-threatening after all, but that maybe he shouldn't dig for gold so diligently next time.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

I love this time of year! Thanksgiving feasts and Christmas magic!!
Here's a couple shots of our Turkey Day Delight...
A turkey has never looked so least not one that I have ever made. (Poor thing last year looked like an anorexic Angelina Jolie on diet pills after a tummy tuck. Apparently that's what happens when you leave it in the oven at 325* for oh, 3 or 4, ok 7 hours.)
This is my living room as of yesterday. After fishing through 2 attic storage spaces (where I found Halloween stuff I could have put to good use 2 months ago), the garage (where I found that smell, finally) and numerous closets (where I found Waldo, in case any of you are still looking) I finally got it all in place and created my own little winter wonderland in whites, creams and silver...

Close-up of my fabulous Christmas tree...
Yes, that is a disco ball as my tree topper!
Look at these darling little ice skates, (1/2 off at Target last year!)...
...and my cute little clip-on birds...
...and all the packages!!
Maybe one of those is for me?

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