Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall questions and answers

Some questionnaire I read on a blog, and I thought it had some fun ideas, since I’m not quite sure what else to blog about right now!

1. I have been looking for some simple but interesting Halloween crafts/decorations, what is your favourite one to do with your children? please include a link if you have one.
I haven’t been too great about doing crafts lately, since it seems like we have so little time left over after life is finished.  But I plan on remedying that!  I do love Family Fun for their craft ideas.  They actually turn out like the pictures, and kids can really do them, unlike so many other “kid” crafts.  Here are some we plan on doing to get ready for Thanksgiving:

(but for fall, not for Canada)



2. What is your favorite way to spend a rainy day with your children?
Without my kids, it’s easy—in bed with a book.  Or in a hot bath with a book.  Or curled on the couch with a book.  With kids—cuddling and watching a movie.  I’m also trying to embrace the seasons, so I think we’d also be sipping hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows.  But not on the couch.  That’s a recipe for disaster.

3. What is your favourite fall food? 
Hot soups.  I LOVE a good tomato soup (I suggest this recipe for anyone looking for one!) with fresh crusty bread.  The best tomato soup I’ve ever had was in a little cafe by Windsor Castle.  It was SOOOO delicious. 

Side note: Isn’t it funny how sometimes a place can be defined completely by the food you ate there?  At Windsor, it was the tomato soup.  In Boston, I ate the most amazing pastrami sandwich in the world.  It still makes my mouth water thinking about it.  Savannah had the best fudge I’ve tasted.  At Staten Island, I ate the WORST steak sandwich I’ve ever had in my life.  Apparently food means a lot to me.

And I love pumpkin everything.  These Pumpkin Apple Struesel muffins are amazing!

4. What is your current favourite read aloud book?
We finished Matilda not too long ago.  Reading Roald Dahl out loud is a blast.  Some of the words are just so much more hilarious when you hear them spoken.

5. What is your favourite novel? 
That’s like asking me to choose a favorite child.  Not a fair question.  But I’ll throw out a series for you: I love the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.  I’ve read them twice (all 12 volumes!) and I could read them again.  My advice: if you get bogged down in the middle books (particularly 8 and 9) just read the synopsis online and go to 10.  Don’t give up!  Book 13 is being released this week for the very few of you that care (Ashley!).  I may have to preorder it.  I’m lame like that.

6. What book from your childhood do you remember the most, and why?
Anne of Green Gables.  I have no idea how many times I’ve read that book.  I want to be Anne and live at the turn of the century and wear puffed sleeves and write on a slate and bake cakes for company and wander forever in the woods and memorize The Lady of Shalott.  I usually go on to finish the series (at least through Anne’s House of Dreams) because every girl loves a good love story.

7. What type of music do you enjoy the most?  Please include examples!
I love musicals, especially when I can belt them out.  Wicked is one of my favorites.  It’s just so singable.  Little secret: I’m also a huge ABBA fan.  Betcha didn’t know that!

8. What subject do you find most challenging (to teach or to learn)?
I never had a problem with math until calculus.  There I met my Waterloo.

9. What is your favorite hot drink?  Bonus points for including the recipe!
As mentioned above, hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows.  I love nearly all the Stephen’s varieties, but the Mexican hot chocolate is my favorite. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Trunk or Treat

Our ward puts on a great trunk or treat every year, and, boy, is that event well attended.  For those of you that don’t know, our Primary has over 200 children in it.  So Trunk or Treat = millions of kiddos.  Afterwards they have a “family dance,” and I don’t know if the kids like the easy candy (you walk about 100 yards and make a huge haul) or the dance more.

Last year I sewed costumes for every member of our family.  And they were adorable.  And when people ask if I am sewing costumes this year, I laugh in their face.  Not on your life!  I still haven’t recovered.  I think every two years—at a minimum—is all I can handle at this point.

So while we weren’t all matchy-matchy, we did all dress up.  We had a kitty:


A Jedi knight:






And a nerd:




I’m not sure how I feel about Aaron choosing my backpack as part of the nerd ensemble.  It’s a great backpack.  But it is huge.


The nerd face

I dressed up as an Indian woman, but I forgot to have anyone take a picture of me.  Just know that I was cute.

Dancing fun was had by all.  Katie in particular LOVES to dance.  Believe me, she gets groovy.  There’s a definite reason we enrolled her in ballet this year.


Dancing with a mouth full of Rice Krispy treat.  Always safe.




Then the Jedis found each other and decided to practice their light saber skills.  I fear that young Paul has much work to do.  I think he will be needing his own light saber to continue his training.  The costume was borrowed from our Star Wars-fanatic friend, and he definitely does not want to return it.




Katie with her friend Makenna.  Makenna was Pinkalicious, and she looked adorable.  And is it scary how well my five-year-old can pull off the heavy eyeliner?  That girl has some killer peepers.


The whole gang

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Raspberry Picking

I can’t tell you enough how much I love having raspberry bushes in our backyard.  They’re not huge.  They’re not many in number.  But they produce generously.  During the late summer and early fall we can pick some nearly every day.  We love fresh raspberry muffins and raspberry-peach pie.  But raspberries are at there best right off the bush.  I sent Averi and Paul outside this morning to get out of my hair to get some fresh air.  It had been a while since I harvested raspberries, and the bushes must have been too appealing, because Averi decided she was going to eat harvest them for me.  And since she looked adorable in her rain jacket and striped tights, I had to grab the camera.





Do you love her Frankenstein tattoo bracelet?  That thing has been on there forever!  I promise I do give her baths.




When Paul realized I wasn’t getting after them for eating all of Mom’s raspberries (yes, they’re MINE, and I choose to share them at my pleasure), he started shoveling them in so fast he nearly choked.




Notice the juice running down his chin.  You have to eat a lot of raspberries to get that to happen.

In the spring I planted some wildflower seeds in an empty corner of the yard, and we had a few blooms throughout the season, but nothing too impressive.  Then the cosmos burst into bloom in September and provided a refreshing splash of color in the garden, since all the other flowers were going to bed for the winter.  Definitely planting those again!






Averi’s version of stopping and smelling the cosmos.





I love Paul’s expression in the last three pictures.  They are so him.

And this is why I plant a garden.

Friday, October 15, 2010



Sunday, October 10, 2010

Things You Should Know About Brian

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday.  I was unable to talk to him on the phone because he was at the BYU football game.  Fortunately, the Cougars won (finally), so I should have a happy father.  So I will try and call him this evening, but for now I’m going to publish something I wrote about him about a year ago, which I think should be shared with those who know and love him.  My dad is a VP for American Express, and he loves his job and his company.  In fact, we’re all very loyal to American Express (it’s not every company that will put you through private school in England) and we make sure that it’s the first card we use.  After three years in India, he joined a team based in Phoenix.  They asked him to introduce himself, and my dad turned to me.  He asked me to write an article about him, since his family knew him best.  Here’s what I wrote:

Things You Should Know About Brian, From Those Who Know Him Best

Brian is an adrenaline junkie.  You'll find him scuba diving in Bermuda, bungee jumping in New Zealand, and skiing black diamonds in Utah.  He hasn't been sky diving yet, but we wouldn't be surprised to find him strapped to a parachute and an instructor.

Lifelong learning is a fundamental part of Brian's character.  He majored in chemistry, but that was simply because he had more credits in that field than in the many others he studied (including pre-med).  He is an avid reader and can easily devour several books on a business trip.  All of his children have picked up on that trait; any of us can be found with her nose in a book.

The term “jack of all trades” must have been coined by someone who met my father.  He can install a garage door, integrate over a circle, roast a pork shoulder, wire a plug, negotiate a contract and build a rocking horse, all without breaking a sweat. 

Brian is an amazing cook.  He can make just about anything (including the most divine cream of mushroom soup), but he is in his element when he's smoking a slab of meat.  As one of his favorite sayings goes, he didn't claw his way to the top of the food chain to eat vegetables. 

Thinking small is a foreign concept to Brian.  Nothing this guy does is on a small scale.  Every summer he hosts an annual neighborhood barbeque.  This may not be unusual in and of itself, but the invitation is to anyone who can smell the food, and he is taken seriously.  His barbeque averages between three and four hundred people in attendance.

In general, Brian is a “big picture” type of guy.  He loves providing the vision, but dislikes being burdened with details.  The one exception he will make is vacation planning.  Brian has a sincere love for travel, and plans every aspect of a vacation from start to finish.  While he's not above taking his daughters to Disneyland, he truly enjoys wandering off the beaten path.  His favorite part of traveling is getting to know the people.  He always plans on cooking a few meals each trip because he feels that one of the best ways to truly know a culture is by visiting the local grocery store.

Although you might not guess it, Brian has three grandchildren, with one more on the way (updated—he now has four grandkids, with one (not mine!) on the way).  They all adore their Grandpa Barnes.  He has no problem getting down on the floor to play with them, but he is at his best cuddling babies.  When everyone else has failed, Grandpa can rock to sleep even the fussiest infant.

Relationships are the most important thing to Brian.  His family is and always has been his first priority.  He is also excellent at developing lasting friendships.  He has taught all of his children that the things you accomplish in life aren't nearly as important as the people you love and who love you in return.

Nothing frustrates Brian more than boredom.  He is a guy who is always in search of the next adventure.  Since he chose to join your group, know that he saw the potential for greatness.  You can be assured that he won't settle for achieving anything less than extraordinary. 


He’s a pretty great guy, huh? 


With his youngest, Kiera, on her baptism day


Taking us for a limo ride in NYC


The man who never dances dancing with his daughter at Breanne’s wedding


Christmas is his all-time favorite.  He arranges for Santa to come every year, and he will be in big trouble the day he stops.


Why grandpas have such big shoulders


Eating seafood in Scotland with Ashley


Both of Paul’s grandpas


Snowmobiling in Yellowstone


Graduation from BYU with the people who made it all possible


Dad’s nickname was Baloo, so this is a fitting shot


Don’t ask if he was really happy.  He’s come around (right?)


Petting kangaroos in Australia.  He particularly enjoyed golfing with them.  (Seriously, the golf courses would be filled with them in the morning.  They were like grazing deer.)


Swapping hats with a gladiator in Rome


Papa Bear and his moustache


Yes, that adorable baby is me.  I think I wore him out.

Happy birthday, Dad!  We can’t wait to have more adventures with you.  Orlando, here we come!

We love you!