the perfect turkey, the sad Christmas

Calvin put it wisely when he said, "i always keep my expectations low, that way i'm always satisfied". 

Christmas eve before going to sleep I lovingly looked at the tree, all peaceful and quiet and ready for the children. Then when they woke up, they tore into the room and the first thing they notice is Santa "forgot" to move the pickle ornament and put a dollar bill in it. 

Great. Failed again. Way to go Santa, you stink.

Luckily they were distracted by their presents and for the first time in our family we tried to stay home and relax but our kids wanted MORE presents from MORE family. Because you know, opening presents Christmas eve from Great Grandma and Christmas morning isn't enough. Insert self loathing and the irrational fear that I have ruined my children and turned them into materialistic monsters for the rest of their lives. Oh, and did I mention my parents are in Guatemala? Yeah, that wasn't so fun either.

Of course I was cranky the rest of the day which makes Ty cranky for the rest of the day and voila! Welcome to holidays as a parent!

But...BUT! I found the best turkey recipe and I can't wait to use it for Thanksgiving. I will never roast a turkey on Christmas day again, holy work batman. But I've made this recipe twice and I can't believe how flavorful and moist the turkey turns out for such a simple recipe. 

Have a happy new year and make this turkey:

The Perfect Roast Turkey Recipe
Prep time:  20 mins
Cook time:  3 hours 30 mins
Total time:  3 hours 50 mins

Serves: 16
1 15lb turkey
1 stick of butter
onion powder
3 cloves of garlic minced
2 onions chopped
3 carrots chopped
3 stalks of celery chopped
1 cup of water
Preheat the oven to 500 F.
Remove the gizzard and giblets from inside the turkey's cavity.
Thoroughly clean, rinse and dry the outside and cavity of the turkey.
Lather the turkey with at least ½ stick of butter and try to get under the skin of the turkey as well.
Generously sprinkle salt, pepper and onion powder over the lathered butter.
Rub the seasoning evenly over the outside of the turkey.
Place the rest of the butter inside the cavity of the turkey.
Add 1 chopped onion and 3 cloves of garlic minced.
Pour 1 cup of water into the bottom of the roasting pan and add the other chopped onion, 3 chopped carrots and 3 stalks of celery chopped.
Roast turkey at 500 F for about 20 minutes or until the turkey begins to brown.
Reduce heat to 350 F and continue to roast.
Baste the turkey every 30 minutes with the drippings and liquid in the bottom of the roasting pan.
The turkey is done once a thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the bird reads 155 to 165 F.
It should take about 3 hours and 30 minutes for the bird to cook, but make sure to use a thermometer.
Remove the turkey from the oven and let set for 20 minutes before carving.


a clear Christmas

this Christmas season has been as interesting journey. i've let go of a lot of traditions and responsibilities I felt i needed to do and instead focused on the few memories we want to create with the kids. speaking of that, i've got a gingerbread house to whip up. ack.

but what if your not having a pleasant holiday season? what if the Christmas time is a time of regrets, sadness, painful memories and family strife? death? divorce? sickness? what if the financial burden is crippling and the stress to keep the "kids" happy suffocates you? are you destined to be miserable every Christmas season? i can't tell you how many Christmas nights I have sobbed because of the guilt and regrets that I wasn't a good mom/family member/wife at Christmas. I didn't do enough, give enough, plan enough etc. etc. etc.  Do I have to feel this every year? We all know the famous song quotes:
the wonderful memories are there, but so are the pain filled ones. and it feels as though they grow stronger with each passing year and the older the children and i grow. what if you don't want to remember those all through your life? what if you want to stop pretending and really feel JOY, just like every windowpane and wrapping paper has written on it?

this is my thought today, that because of Christmas, the coming of the Savior of the world, I can start anew, you can start anew.

I can let go of the pain and regret, the stress and the burdens and embrace the Peace that my Heavenly Father freely gave me. i am not my past or my memories, and because of Jesus Christ I can start over and try again any day, week, year or Christmas time to feel His love and love others and myself more.

so for you, dear reader, that struggles at this time of year but plasters a smile on as you go through the motion, know that there is Peace and happiness and a way to make wonderful things happen in your heart this year, that you will remember all throughout your lives. know that you are not alone, and that there is a wonderful Gift for you today, just as the happy days of past.


Christmas guilt

Christmas guilt, I have it, and it seems to be getting worse every year. I can slowly feel it taking over my holiday spirit as each day clicks by.

Confession: I know that the stress and anxiety of TRYING TO DO TOO MUCH and not being prepared or having a plan for the holidays adds to this guilt condition. I used to follow flylady's holiday survival guide and it was amazing. Why I don't do it anymore is beyond me. I'm a big fan of being stressed I guess.

The stress and anxiety keeps me from making a list, being prepared and going shopping. I HATE shopping, someday I'll figure out how to make Ty do all the shopping like Stephanie does. haha.

When I focus on my favorite Christmas memories and their happiness I am content. I can focus on most of these traditions and pass them down onto my children. When I look on social media and see what/when other people do to decorate etc feelings of inadequacy wash over me and practically paralyze me. No joke. I slowly pulled out decorations yesterday and really analyzed them, are they in my house because I love them and they have meaning to me? Or because I feel like I "need" to have them out? Honestly, some are going to the thrift store. Less is more! My new motto.

A few of my Christmas favorites:

Christmas traditions I enjoyed growing up:
Picking the Christmas tree, this was a HUGE deal for me. It had to have the perfect shape and fullness in my mind to feel Christmasy enough. Do we have decorations long enough to cover that bare spot? no? then find another!

Decorating the house: I loved this part. Don't think I didn't go full blown with the tinsel icicles every year. My poor mom.

Gingerbread houses: my mom would make the real deal, real gingerbread, real icing (no super glue) houses for our teachers every year and Bishop. I have been piggybacking on her baking the last few years and sluffed but now she's gone in Guatemala! on their mission. time to strap on my big girl pants i guess.

Christmas music: I am a daughter of my father, I only love the NAT KING COLE, Perry Como, Johnny Mathis, Singers Unlimited, Bing Crosby and a few others. That is real Christmas in my ears.

Christmas carols: I have always loved them, the words, the music, the peaceful feeling. I'm a terrible singer, but I still love to belt them out whenever I have the chance.

Granny's sugar cookies: fluffy, thick, and with the best frosting, i have memories the most of decorating them with my brothers and sister and then having sugar toots the rest of the day/week/month. Remember that car trip mel?

Traveling to see cousins: this was the highlight from as long as i could remember. dad would always get a speeding ticket on our way (even on Christmas day once!) the shopping, movie watching, eating eating eating aunt lynne's marzipan and other wonderful memories i treasure in my heart.

*since writing this post i've found some great advice from friends (becca!) and online and my mother in law shared this quote with me that is just a perfect dose of Christmas wisdom:


gratitude list a plenty

in no particular order, here are the things i am grateful for that i EASILY OVERLOOK.

i am grateful for my fridge, it works. it keeps my food cold and from spoiling! it's awesome! same goes for you freezer. props.

i am grateful for my vacuum, it sucks! it sucks so good! i am always amazed at how much dirt 4 kids, a hard working husband and 2 acres with pets entails.

i am grateful for my dishwasher, a mouse chewed through the cord, so only two settings work, but hey! i get to deep clean dishes every night while i SLEEP. amazing.

i am grateful for my oven, it gets hot, really hot! and when i put food in it, it bakes it! yay!!!!! i am so lucky to have that.

i am grateful for my clothes. many moons ago i was very particular about how nice of clothes i purchased and what brands. and you know what? I couldn't be happier that i was picky and snobby. I have a collection of nice, quality pieces that are still timeless 8-10 years later, and will be for many more. considering i hardly even splurge on target/walmart clothes for me at all, i am grateful for this fact.

i am grateful for our ROKU, netflix and amazon prime. we no longer have live tv in our house and i love it! we can carefully pick and choose what is shown in our home and more importantly, what is not.  this is such a blessing for me as a mom.

i also love my free pandora stations and how happy music makes our home. speaking of music, i am grateful for our piano. it is old and beautiful and hearing my children play on it everyday warms my heart. 

i am grateful for our property. sure, we didn't realize how much work it takes to upkeep 2.5 acres, but it is beautiful. we are so happy with our mature trees and pasture and green grass! our pomegranate trees are amazing also, and i won't lie, i think we have the best pomegranates in town. hehe

i am grateful for my washer and dryer. they are AMAZING. they are one of the best purchases i have ever made. i kiss them on a daily basis.

I am grateful for our few Thanksgiving decorations. We have our "native american" (i can't say Indian) candle holders, and some pumpkins and some pilgrims and fall leaves. it isn't much, but it's enough that my kids can know what it is about and that we do celebrate a season of THANKS. yup, i think it's crazy that people put up Christmas decoration before Thanksgiving. There, I said it.  But I also have noticed they are mainly women who don't LOVE to bake and cook, so I can kind of understand that. And they are more than welcome to think I am crazy for not decorating.

i am grateful for Thanksgiving. It has always been a special holiday to me, probably because i love to bake and cook. I love having family together and I love baking pies with my daughters. And mostly because thanksgiving dinner is one of my favorite meals. Hoemmade cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, peas, turkey and stuffing in one bite! Oh momma. 


a trip to the mall

signs you are getting old:

-you think the music is too loud in the mall and in every.single.store. 

-you do a double take at almost every other person's fashion choices walking around the mall. It should be known that I was at the trendy mall with a saks fifth avenue and half the European tourists in Vegas. 

-Almost all the girls under 30 were wearing something like this, except all but a few didn't have the body to pull it off. Sounds harsh, but for real, crop tips are back? Gah. 

-you scoff at all the prices and fashion trends for sale.

-you are confused at the pointy fake nails every woman is wearing.

-you realize that said fashion mistakes and pointy witch nails are all a direct repercussion of people watching the Kardashians and beyonce.

-you sigh with delight when you go to bed at night in your old fashioned bed spread and look lovingly at your short, round natural nails. 


Veteran's day etc

veteran's day parade this year was as cute and quaint as always. The kids captured an entire bag worth of junk candy (blech) and the veteran float is getting more empty seats every year, but it's still one of my favorite parts about our little town. I only wish there were more equestrians in the parade, considering how many we have around to participate. Someday right? Kristen?? Ha

We didn't have school Monday or Tuesday and that is always my favorite. I love spending lazy days at home with my kids, lots of uno (thanks rachelle!)

In other news Abby lost her front tooth and couldn't look cuter!
And our pomegranate harvest was huge this year!! Baby Ruby stopped by and let us compare sizes with her cute head.
This is always, by far, my favorite time of the year. Chilly at night, warm in the day and getting ready for Thanksgiving brings many feelings of gratitude for all that we have and are able to do for others because of our blessings. 



the rest of the day at zion was just perfect, and i have to share all of the photos because, well, i have to.
i hate how the camera never can capture the enormity of a full moon over a mountain

just breathtaking all day long
this one is my favorite 

i can't wait to go again, and i especially can't wait until we can do a curvy and windy road trip through utah without giving all the kids dramamine! ha, luckily we have that to save the day. i would love to go for a romantic weekend alone with ty and not have to worry about anyone tossing their cookies on every turn. one can dream can't they?


ups and downs

i spent some time reading over some of my posts from the last few years, something that is fun to do, but scary at the same time. my one goal on here has to always be honest and candid. my life is not perfect, but it really is beautiful. most of my old posts make me want to gag, they are either overtly bragging or giving some kind of dumb advice! ha! i obviously wasn't in a good mood when i read them.  some ups and downs happen every hour, day, week, month and year.

some ups and downs lately:

the weather has finally turned to fall temperatures and i can feel like i can breathe. that is a definite UP! we went to Zion National Park for my birthday and it was chilly enough for light sweatshirts and jeans, heaven in my book right there.

i had to run a TON of errands around town the other day, and rodney was such a trooper. he loves riding in the car and looking out the window. unfortunately, he also gets car sick just like his 3 sisters and i pushed the stop and go for his tummy too much. i can not count how much puke i have cleaned up in 10 years.

i coached lucy's soccer team this year and i learned so much. 1. 9-11 year old girls are dramatic! ha! i didn't expect to have to deal with "feelings" and stuff as a coach already. 2. lucy learned how to be aggressive on the field! and she scored her first goal! 3. i had a great assistant coach, she helped run all of the practices smoothly and calmed me down when i couldn't figure out subs : )

halloween was just as wonderful as always. i do like that holiday. This year we had a ninja turtle, Aphrodite, cleopatra and Elsa.
i was a stinker and didn't help out with any class parties AT ALL. i just stayed home and cleaned and worked on some articles and braced myself for the next day. we had the 31st off of school for Nevada Day and spent it at a party up the hill at great grandma and grandpa's. rodney napped and then we visited our neighbors and trick or treated around the neighborhood. we always bump into other families in our ward and have a fun time catching up and watching the kids happily run from house to house. the weather was PERFECT!


on self acceptance and forgiveness (leg edition)

confession: i do not like my legs. correction: i did not like my legs.

the earliest i remember noticing they were different was in middle school. oh middle school, what a disastrous event you were in my life. the beautiful, tall girls (with busts of course) were getting all the attention. the girls that played volleyball with their super short booty shorts and the cheerleaders with their non existent skirts. i could never wear something like that. luckily, puberty hadn't hit yet so even though my legs were short, so was my torso, thus i sauntered around evenly proportioned.

after puberty, which happened at an age that is hilariously late, i had a long torso, a chest (finally!) and short legs. short, stumpy legs. ugh. but, i was in soccer again and track and so even though i wasn't kind to them or liked them, they were always there and got me to a lot of great places. you always feel like you fit in in soccer with big thighs.

then i majored in Ballet in college. yikes. if i had a nickel for every time someone guessed 8 times what my dance emphasis was only to tell them "ballet" and see their face change, well, i probably wouldn't be trying to make money by writing on a blog. laugh out loud.

after college, a wonderful friend named CHARLOTTE DUNNE! (how are you? we never talk anymore!) taught me how to run for fun, and thus my next 8 years of marriage running would be my main cardio. even in running and teaching zumba for 4 years, my legs still fell short of my delusional idea of perfection. At this point i blame BARBIE and the media.

the point of all this mumbo jumbo is this, this morning i slapped together a sandwich for ty's work lunch, stumbled back into my room and got dressed to work out. i sat down on the rowing machine to warm up (i know, so incredibly spoiled to get to use one) and looked down at my legs. what?
those are not my legs! they are strong! and beautiful! i suddenly was aware that i do not despise my legs anymore. and it's not because they look semi ok in this picture (my cottage cheese is on the underside don't worry)  it's because they are amazing! they have always been there and carried me throughout every crazy thing i wanted to do. cliff jumping, running half marathons, snowboarding, hiking, relay races, dancing for hours and hours and hours, carrying 4 babies around, running after toddlers, and for the last year and a half, squatting lots of weight on my back.

even though i can't wear jeans in the fall with boots over top (there is just no way i could walk without circulation, i've tried) and even though i will always look like an orange on a toothpick in high heels at church, and even though i have beautiful big dimpled thighs, i LOVE MY LEGS. I LOVE MY BODY. I am so incredibly grateful they forgive me for always wishing them to be different. i am so grateful I have this body for forever. what an amazing gift i have been given. it's such a freeing feeling, to actually want what you already have. i suggest trying it sometime.

i love this shirt from here, its so liberating to find out how strong you can be. my birthday is coming up for anyone who is behind on gifts: hint hint


weeds in my garden

as i walked out the trash the other day i looked up and enjoyed the beautiful view of our canopy of oleanders, cottonwoods and green grass we are blessed with (believe me, green grass around here is unique). as i walked down the broken sidewalk (that needs to be repaired) to the front door i looked over at my roses. OH! my poor neglected babies. this is what they looked like.

choked out by weeds, too much water and no one had pruned them this fall. i blame that on my mom not here, she always kept me on task with my roses. i did fertilize though mom! i promise! so i put on my adult mom pants and went to work on the task. i estimated it would take between 1-2 hours to de-weed, relay a liner and pour new mulch. and true to form, i underestimated the task by about 5 hours. go me.

i got to work on the first weeds. good gracious they are pernicious little devils. they were EVERYWHERE. they had grown right into the "weed barrier" liner and their roots were wrapped around my rose bushes and drip system. they were strong, like, my huge muscles had a hard time ripping them out strong. i finally evolved to a system of the spade in one hand hacking at the deepest root while i pulled with the other with all my might. i am 2/3rds of the way done at this moment.

this question ran through my head with each and every devilish weed root i hacked away at: how did it get this bad? i started to backtrack in my mind (not an easy task mind you) and i realized that i have seriously neglected this rose bed. when i would weed,it would be after it got really, really bad and even then i would just pull out the tops and didn't even worry about the roots. obviously the weeds themselves enjoyed this immensely as they grew an entire 6 ft substructure under my roses.

as usual, i automatically applied this as a life lesson because that's just what weird people like me do.

 in my personal life, how often have i just tried to address only the part of the problem that was showing? how often have i taken the time and effort to keep digging and get to the roots so i can be rid of it forever?  how often have i tried to lay down a "barrier" only to find that it yes, it did hide the problem but also encouraged unseen rampant growth?

for me, all of these questions are answered with an astounding, ALL THE TIME. my self deprecating thoughts, self-abuse with food, self defeating behaviors and family issues have all been addressed with a mere barrier or plucking of the green shoots coming out of the ground. it's almost scary to try and think about addressing the real problems underneath, but it's coming to the point where i just may have to. it's affecting my day to day life now and affecting my spouse and children so it's time to dig a little deeper. oh, i have a feeling it will be worth it but extremely painful in the meantime.

for now, i will keep pondering this issue and this weekend  i will be working on my rose bed and hope to put up a beautiful picture of my hard work. let's stress the word "hope".

i will keep weeding, and i will keep addressing my personal "issues" every darn day.


updaterific and spiritual message

guess what? ANOTHER FLOOD. Here is Ty and our friend Darren making lemonade out of lemons and having some fun after sandbagging all night and working all day to keep the water out of the Meeks' house:
I know, our poor little valley is just getting hit from every possible side.

but, it was phoebe's birthday
and ty's birthday
and a lot of wonderful in-between, like my pants finally buttoned after SIX MONTHS
But all that matters is that we are happily (most days) making our way through each and every day. 

i've pondered a lot lately about what is most important for my kids right now, and our home, and me, and ty and and...well. Lots of pondering.

I would say the most crucial thing i've figured is what really matters, and what really matters is really quite simple:

* reading scriptures every day (alone and as a family)
* prayer every day (alone and as a family)
* family home evening once a week (as a family we do a fun activity and teach one spiritual lesson)
*attending church every week
*attending the temple as a couple once a month

and that's it really. our lives can get so utterly complicated and full of just, STUFF. 

and that stuff can be awesome things that enrich our lives and we love doing, but in the end, they are still stuff. i think making sure these crucial things happen NO MATTER WHAT and then filling in the gaps with awesome stuff is the only way to help my kids know that God loves them, no matter what. NO matter their choices, (good and bad), their dress size, their family problems, school problems or test scores.


you never know

oh my goodness, this little short clip is for tired mothers everywhere. if you aren't a tired mother then you can skip the entire thing, and drive down to refill your meth prescription. hahaha, oh dear that was awful. seriously though, please watch and know you are amazing, especially the single mothers and military mothers.

moving on, getting ready for my church lesson this month has been daunting. i feel like every topic is especially tailored to humble me to an especially low state. but i do enjoy learning about the process of becoming a better person, each and every day. even if it is two steps forward and one step back (which is always the case for me)

i have a few friends (*fabulous friends i might add) that also teach the same exact lesson every month that i do. it has been wonderful to connect with each of them and share our feelings, experiences with each topic. one such friend shared this talk about self esteem and it is a game changer ladies and gents, GAME CHANGER.  block out 15 minutes of your time and read it instead of perusing Facebook.

have a lovely sabbath day. mwuah!



Gah, i've been neglectful to my sweet baby here. But I have a good excuse, I've been taking care of another sweet baby for awhile and all other projects are on the back burner. Thank goodness I can work out at home because that is the only thing keeping me sane right now!

Our poor friends' house was severely flooded this past week and we are watching baby R during the daytime to help out. Rodney is ok with it now, but I still can't leave him in the room alone with her. hehehe.

My parents are on their mission! 
I dropped them off at 5am at the airport and had a good little cry fest on my way home. Rodney has been the most confused and wanting to play with Grandma and have "popsiples" at her house (and of course play angry birds), but he is doing better. Yesterday he asked, "Momma, are you sad?", and I asked him "sad about what?" and  he said, "Sad that you're mommy isn't here anymore?". bah! Whoever thinks kids don't know what's going on has another thing coming to them.

Here are a few random pictures of life around here lately.
Phoebe started preschool!
She loves to draw and play with our cat at home, I think 4-5 is my favorite age
Daddy has been busy a lot with work and helping out wih the flood, it was nice to have family Movie night again. 
After working out I practice handstands and push ups. Two things I'm not very good at. It's fun to learn new things and see how you can get stronger with just practice.

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