Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Twins Watching How to Train a Dragon...

...on vacation, in a snow-covered condo...


P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

I Cannot Tell a Lie... or Can I?

I pride myself on being an honest person. It wasn't always so, but when I was 26 years old, I made the commitment that I wouldn't lie... EVER.

This is not easy. For instance, once a good friend was wearing a hideously ugly blue flowered dress. The pattern was unstylish, it was unflattering, and I did not like it one little bit. As I was thinking these thoughts, to my horror, she asked me if I liked her new dress. In a desperate effort to not lie, but to not offend as well, I honed in on the one redeeming thing about it....the buttons. I said, "Yes, I was just noticing the buttons. I really, really like those buttons." She seemed satisfied, and I was able to keep my integrity.

I'm not always that quick or strong in keeping my resolve to not lie, however....

Sometimes when I travel, I eat things that don't agree with my digestive system. This sometimes causes putrid gases to be produced in my bowels, which eventually are forced out into the air, whether I may be in a private or public setting. It's called farting.

On Sunday, while I was visiting a church in Utah, I ended up walking the halls with Baby Hippo in order to try to get him to take a short nap. As I was walking, I spotted a woman with a precious little girl baby who wore a gold knitted beret, gold and white glittered stockings, and a white fur vest. She was gorgeous. I decided to stop and introduce myself and strike up a conversation with the woman about her baby. We were the only people within a 20-foot radius, and began having a pleasant conversation about children, fertility, and pregnancy.

During this conversation, I began to feel one of these gas emmisions coming on. I knew there would be no way to stop it, but because I've had practice, I knew the gas could be emitted without sound, so that our conversation would not be interrupted. As I had hoped, this gas release was silent, but, unfortunately, it was deadly as well. As the scent wafted up into my nostrils, I was horrifed to realize that it would soon meet hers as well, and she would know that since her and I were the only ones in the hallway, that it had come from me.

To my relief, however, I then realized that I could have an out by the fact that we were each holding a baby, who could have just as well emitted gas or something worse. I was off the hook.

Just as this thought manifested itself, the woman was obviously assaulted by the stench. She wrinkled her nose, and said, looking at the precious baby girl in the gold beret, "Ooooo, I think you are a stinky girl!" She then put her nose to the back of the baby's diaper, and looking puzzled, said, "No, it's not you!"

Not wanting to lie, but not wanting to admit to my bowel troubles, I looked at my Baby Hippo and asked, in a sing-song voice, "Are you a stinky little boy? Huh? Are you? Are you?" I bounced him up and down a little, but didn't want to continue my web of deceit by actually putting MY nose to HIS bottom to pretent I was seeking an answer. But alas, there was no need to do so, for the woman with the precious baby girl felt inclined to put her own nose to MY baby's diaper to determine if he was the creator of the stench. She came away, again puzzled, making me aware that it was not him either.

I realized at that moment that although I'm a practiced silent releaser, there is absolutely nothing I can do about the contents once released, and I should have walked away when it became apparent that my bowels would manifest their difficulties. I would then have been able to avoid weaving a web of deceit out of which I would not be able to entangle myself.

I'll try to do better next time.

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Homemaker Monday: Vacationing

I'm still on vacation, so rather than posting a homemaking tip, I'm going to excuse myself and just post some skiing pics of the kids. Happy Holidays and thanks so much for your links and visits!

The 21-year-old girl...


21-year-old girl's boyfriend, who claims this is his best side....


I won't tell you if I agree.

The 15-year-old girl...


The 14-year-old boy...


The 10-year-old boy...


The 8-year-old girl...


The 4-year-old boy...


Twin A...


Twin B, on left, suffering from frigidity...


Baby Hippo, who looks somewhat absurd in this photo...


Almost all of us, including my sister with the PhD., who made this ski trip possible...


Twin B, watching his older siblings slide down a hill on inner tubes of an evening...


Now it's YOUR turn! Just link up anything homemaking and share your know-how. Thanks again!

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dad Takes Out Stitches

Stitches in...


Stitches out...


P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

I Heart Winter Vacations

Hot chocolate...


...and card games...


P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Homemaker Monday: Randomness

This post is in progress...

Okay, I'm on vacation, and I'm totally going to cheat today. What I wrote really doesn't have much to do with homemaking, just 5 random things that happened to me over the last 48 hours....

1. An 85-year-old man came up to me from behind as I was sitting in my chair at a church Christmas party, put his hands on my shoulders, and said, "Hello, Sister Beautiful." On a side note, this man once tenderly and gently, but stealthily and unexpectedly kissed me on my lips. I thought this was about to happen again, so I carefully looked up at him and hugged him, hoping to diffuse the situation, then he simply asked me how I was. I said, "Much better, now that you're here." He smiled largely, and said, "Why, thank you!", and walked away still smiling. I'm glad I could brighten the evening of one of the elderly in our ward.

2. As John and I, with 5 of our kids, were making the long drive from our home to the border, we were stopped at a routine soldier check point. The soldier and John made nice to each other, then the soldier asked where we were going and how many of us were in the van. John told him we were going to El Paso, and that there were 5 of our 10 children with us. The soldier's eyes got large, then a smile spread across his face. "Como conejos, no?" he remarked, laughing. This means "like rabbits, right?" I always love it when strange random men remark on the frequency of my sexual encounters. I guess that's what I get for having ten kids.

3. Because of an unexpectedly long wait at the border crossing, I missed my plane to Utah, but as I was trying to remedy my situation, I met an elderly lady and her much more elderly mother, and had a poignant conversation with them about having children, infertility, adoption and their grand- and great-grandbabies. When I called John to tell him I had missed my plane, he said there was a reason.

4. We found out what the reason was. Earlier in the day, Twin B began exhibiting mild symptoms of asthma accompanying a recent viral infection. Because I ended up traveling by car with John and the 7 kids, instead of flying with Baby Hippo, I was able to keep a constant vigil on Twin B, and was able to determine as time went by, that he was getting progressively worse. By the time we arrived to our destination for the night, Albuquerque, he was wheezing loudly and sucking in air with such effort, that he was nearly trembling. Before even driving to our hotel, we went to the after-hours pediatric clinic nearby, where he was given a double treatment with a nebulizer by a very worried doctor.

After stabilizing him, she said that she would be remiss to advise we go on, and said that she wanted reevaluate him the next day. After we gave him 3 more treatments in the hotel room, he vastly improved and during our subsequent visit with the pediatrician, we were given a pass to continue our trip. Such a "tender mercy" that I missed my plane.

5. I became accutely aware of the fact that there are no traffic lights in our town. As we traveled through mid-sized cities at night, the twins would point and yell, "Reh YiiiiIIIIght! Yeyow Yiiiiiiiiight! Deen YiiiiiiIIIIIIght!" every time we passed a traffic light, which was infinity times.

We're still traveling. I'll fill you in on how things are going later. Thanks for listening!

Here's Linky!

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Homemaker Monday: A Mother in Lithuania

Welcome to the 112th weekly edition of...

Thank you for joining us! If you're new to this carnival and would like to enter your post, please check HERE for the rules and regs.

YOURS: This week's "YOURS" goes to Judy at "What I Live For"! She posts instruction on how to make a popsicle stick puzzle for your youngsters. This was THE coolest idea EVER! She plans on using her puzzles to entertain her kids at church, and I know my six littlest ones could have a great time with these at church as well, as I'm playing the organ. Just look how awesome....


Thanks, for this excellent idea, Judy! Can't wait to go out and get some modge podge! For instructions, go HERE. Thanks again, Judy, and feel free to grab the "I Was Featured" button on my left sidebar. :)

MINE: Most of us who blog have some kind of visitor meter that tells us how many people visit our blog, where they come from and how they got there. One thing I love to do is look at what people typed in their search engines to get to my blog. I once posted the top ten list of how I get googled, the number one reason being how to make manna bread. That list is HERE if you'd like to see it.

As I was going through the search terms yesterday, I came across one I hadn't seen before. Someone had googled "what to do with 18 month old twins". What struck me about this search was its vagueness. This mother (or father?) didn't search "what to do about biting 18-month-old twins" or "how to get my 18-month-old twins to sleep through the night" or "games to play with 18-month-old twins". She simply asked "what to do with 18-month-old twins", like she was lost. And yes, I can understand that. My curiosty got the best of me and I decided to go to the search results. That's HERE if you want to see.

As I began scrolling through the results, I read comments like the following....

"...And now we're just about at the 18-month mark and we are just DROWNING. I feel like it was easier when they were newborns. They still play together, but they fight together too. If we don't have two of any given toy, I'd rather not have one at all. I am just so exhausted. They can make mischief together so quickly (four little hands pulling everything out of a drawer, faster than my two hands can put it all back in). There is so much jealousy all the time. I feel I cannot possibly meet their needs. They want to nurse all the time, all the time, all the time.

They are still not sleeping through the night (they wake 3-4 times each)--although they are nightweaned now--and I think the sleep deprivation is really starting to get to me. I don't have the patience I want to have." 


"OMG....I don't even know where to begin! My 18 month old twins have recently started fighting, hair-pulling, screaming at the VERY top of their lungs (for attention of course), hitting, pushing, throwing food on the floor, climbing & jumping on the furniture.......and these are just to name a few of the problems! Not to mention the constant tantrums, whining and crying every time they don't get their way. I NEVER experienced any of this with my now 5 year old and I'm not a real strict mom, but I do expect my children to be well-behaved and know right from wrong. I feel as though I am always being double-teamed and everything is a funny little game to them.......I am seriously losing my mind!!!!!!!!!!"


"I am extremely frustrated. Both of my 18-month-old twins can climb out of their cribs now and destroy the room instead of going down for a nap or bedtime. I have tried the Gestapo technique of standing by the door and putting them back in their cribs with the monotone voice, "Get back in your bed." I've sat in the rocker in their room and repeatedly put them back in their beds. I have yelled and spanked, and nothing seems to work.

Recently, we took everything out of their room that could cause a safety issue, and bolted the dresser to the wall, since they like to climb. I put a gate at the door but don't close it, and we let them do whatever they want until they become exhausted and fall asleep. Every 10-15 minutes, I go in the room and put them back in bed. Last night, we put them down at nine, and they didn't fall asleep until 10. Right now as I am writing this, one little guy is exhausted and crying, and the other is climbing into his crib."

And that is just the beginning of the problems exhausted mothers all around the world have taken the time to type out and seek answers to.

As I read these, I got somewhat teary-eyed, and am so even now. As I wrote in this post recently, the twins are almost three years old now, and have gotten so much easier, but I can well remember when they were 18-months-old, one of the most difficult of all childhood ages, that and between 3 months and the crawling stage, which I'm currently enduring.

I thought of these mothers, and remembered being in their shoes and wishing time would just hurry up and skip us through this stage. I remember wondering when I would ever just be able to clean a room and have it stay that way for one hour, when I would ever get to eat a meal without being interrupted, or when I would ever sleep through the night. (I don't think that has happened in 5 years.)

The mother who typed in "what to do with 18-month-old twins" lives in Lithuania. She read my section on raising twins for 933 minutes. Somehow knowing that someone across the globe from me is suffering what I once did makes me feel connected to mothers all over the world.

I think of the first-time mother of a newborn , shell-shocked, sleep-deprived, confused, having no idea what she's gotten herself into.

I think of the mother with many small children, and no older ones to help, like I have, who has to take them all to the grocery store every single time she needs to go out, even if it's just for a gallon of milk.

I think of the mother whose son is struggling with being bullied at school, or whose daughter is made fun of because grades are important to her.

I think of the mothers who have special-needs children, who suffer days and nights like I can't even begin to imagine.

I think of mothers whose children, as teenagers, have gone astray from the teachings of their parents, and who practice habits that could even endanger their lives.

I think of mothers who have lost children, both before being born and after, and the anguish they feel during the holiday season.

And I think of mothers of 18-month-old twins, who are dealing with biting, and screaming and climbing out of cribs and who wonder when it will ever end.

Can I just say to all of you mothers who are struggling (and I think I speak more to myself than anyone else), "this, too, shall pass." As The Lord reminds us in a verse in one of our scriptures, "...peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment, and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high;" Payday will come. I promise you. I have cashed in myself as we receive letters of appreciation from our son as he serves his mission, expressing gratitude for the sacrifices that were made for him, and as we read his letters and hear how he is changing the lives of those around him. I've cashed in when the 21-year-old girl shares her healthy vegan recipes with me, tells me how she practices the piano, and as I listen to her describe the "gnome" hats she's knitting for our boys.

And Payday came this morning, when Twin A climbed out of his crib, came into my room, got up onto my lap as I sat in my recliner, blogging this, and rubbed his soft little hand on my cheek as he looked into my eyes. It came again later, when the 8-year-old girl brought me Baby Hippo when he woke up, and his eyes literally lit when he saw me. The most recent moment came when the 4-year-old boy said, "Mom, do I look happy?" then showed me the cutest smile that has ever spread across anyone's face. Perhaps I should look for the Payday moments more often.

To all of you mothers out there, Merry Christmas. :)

Thanks for listening.

Oh, and P.S. We just found out this morning that the twins can light matches now.

OURS: Okay, let's see what homemaking tips you have to share with us today. We had 61 links last week, the biggest party ever, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate your support. Thank you so much and have a great Homemaker Monday!

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Homemade Brownie Mix Without Shortening.... and Chocolate Truffles!


So on Homemaker Monday this week, I featured Jerri from Simply Sweet Home for her chocolate truffle recipe. As I was expecting company the next day, I thought I would give these a go. Her recipe calls for brownie mix, however, and because I shun hydrogenated oils as often as I can, I don't usually have baking mixes in the house. I could have gone down to the little Mexican store that sells American products, but I knew that that mix would be no different, so I googled a recipe for homemade brownie mix and found one that looked delicious HERE. Again, however, the writer clearly states that you MUST use shortening, and not butter, to make this mix. And I'll tell you why she said this. If you leave this mix out on the shelf, using butter in it will cause it to go rancid within a week or two. Using shortening gives it a forever shelf-life, but that same ingredient that makes it stay fresh for months or even years, also stays in our blood streams and is very difficult for our bodies to process.

So, I went against her recipe and used butter, realizing that I would simply need to store the mix in the freezer, rather than on the shelf. I also used one less egg to make the brownies than her recipe calls for, then added some water, because I like my brownies super fudgey. Even though I mixed things up a bit, I've got to say thank you Katherine for this great recipe. These brownies turned out delicious, some of the best I've ever made, and I will definitely be sending some of this mix off to the 18-year-old boy on his mission!

Homemade Brownie Mix

<p>A freezer mix using butter instead of shortening&#8230;.</p>

See Homemade Brownie Mix on Key Ingredient.

4 cups all-purpose flour
7 cups granulated sugar
3 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
4 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons salt
2 cups butter


1. Whisk together the dry ingredients.

2. Cut in the butter.

3. Place about 4 cups of the mix in 4 Ziploc bags and store in the freezer.

To make the brownies, mix …

-one package of mix
-3 eggs
-1/4 cups of water
-2 teaspoons of vanilla
-1 cup chocolate chips

Bake in a greased pan at 350 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes.

(Optional: Sprinkle with brown sugar before baking for a crispy, sweet top crust!)

Okay, now for the chocolate truffles...


I made them, and they were even more divine than I imagined they would be. I felt so bad, though, because as I was dipping the brownie balls in the chocolate sauce, six of the 15-year-old girl's friends came upstairs from the theater and began to stand around and watch. I had only made enough for the company I mentioned earlier, though, a class of 6 girls from the 8-year-old girls church class who came over to learn about our Christmas traditions. When the 15-year-old girl asked if they all could have some, I had to tell them no, that I had only made enough for the class that would be arriving in a hour. They were all crest-fallen, and simply stood around the cookie sheet as I was dipping, staring at the truffles, looking sad. This story has no happy ending. That's is. They went away with empty stomachs, except for the penne pasta the 15-year-old girl had made them before the movie started. It is my goal, however, to make another batch and send it to school with the 15-year-old girl to make amends.

Anyways, these were delicious, divine and delectable, and if you haven't already been to Jerri's blog, you can take a look at the recipe HERE.

Thanks for listening!

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Developmental Stage I've Been Longing For.... (Or Not?)

As most of you know, I've dreamed of having twins since the time I first conceived over 21 years ago. With every pregnancy I was always disappointed when the ultrasound results came back with only a solo embryo in my uterus. So, you can imagine my elation 3 years ago, when, as my Mexican doctor was rubbing the ultrasound wand (that's what I'm calling it) over the slippery gel on my belly, he paused and said, "Creo que hay dos," which, being translated, means, "I think there are two." Fifteen agonizing minutes later, he finally pointed to the screen to show me two tiny black and white hearts beating simultaneously.

Having twins has been everything I thought it would be, and more. The first year was grueling though, and I often had to remind myself that "this, too, shall pass". As most of you know, the baby phase isn't my favorite, and having two babies at the same time was physically the most difficult thing I've ever done. I remember fantasizing about how easy my life was going to be once they turned three, which is one of my favorite ages.

I can't believe how fast the time has gone. The twins will celebrate their third birthday in a little over two months. They can talk (if you can call twin-talk talking), so the screaming and back-biting (literally) have decreased somewhat. They can turn on the TV and push play, so even if I'm nursing Baby Hippo, they can entertain themselves for a while without assistance. And if I bribe them with gummy Vitamin C, they will even run to their cribs on their own and hop in.

Yes, my life is easier, and I never thought I'd say this, but there are some things I miss about the twins not being babies anymore. Just today, I gave away one of their high chairs. Having two high chairs lined up together for more than two years...


(Just so you know, I did NOT balance that cake with burning flames between their two high chairs. I just snapped the shot, which is actually no better than having balanced it myself. At least THEY seemed to realize the precariousness of their situation.)

...always gave me such a good, twinny feeling inside. Seeing just one, which Baby Hippo now uses, makes me a little nostalgic.

And if the twins growing up wasn't enough, Baby Hippo will soon be rolling over (don't ask me why he hasn't yet) and when that happens, he will leave our bed and inherit the 4-year-old boy's crib which has been converted to a toddler bed, soon to have the side rail reattached. Which leaves another question unanswered. Where do we put the 4-year-old boy? Do we start scouring the internet for futon bunk beds and buy one to put in the 10-year-old boy's bedroom for them to share? Or do I give him the 10-year-old boy's bedroom altogether, let the 10-year-old boy have the 14-year-old boy's room, and move the 14-year-old boy to the now moved-out 18-year-old boy's room?

Sometimes I think it's easy when kids start to grow up, but sometimes it just adds more confusion to my life.

Even so, I still love it that the twins can now push play.

Thanks for listening!

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chance to win a prize worth $10,000 almost over!

BlogHer's "Take it to the House" NFL contest is almost over! You could win a trip to Hawaii or a prize worth $10,000! Come HERE to see how to enter. Thank you!

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Homemaker Monday

Welcome to the 111th weekly edition of...

Thank you for joining us! If you're new to this carnival and would like to enter your post, please check HERE for the rules and regs.

YOURS: This week's "YOURS" goes to "Simply Sweet Home"! When I saw the thumbnail of Jerri's chocolate truffles, I knew I would be looking no further! These delicacies are made with brownie mix, almond bark and other delectables, and they are absolutely lovely. Just take a look...


For Jerri's recipes, click HERE. You can bet I'll be making these at Christmas time!

MINE: Applebee's Copycat Blondies!


We love to bake on Sunday. I don't know why. Maybe it's because it's a lazy day, a day in which we avoid the usual media, abstain from regular housework, and just spend time together as a family. Usually we make something rich and chocolate-y, but because John abhors chocolate (Can you imagine such a thing?), sometimes we try to find something that is equally delicious sans chocolate.

As I racked my brain yesterday to come up with something, I remembered that Applebees has a rich dessert called a Blondie. It has the texture of a brownie, but without the chocolate. It is topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and steaming caramel sauce. So we found a blondie recipe at allrecipes.com, the 15-year-old girl whipped up a batch, I made the ice cream in our super-easy ice cream maker, and the 10-year-old boy made the caramel sauce. We didn't like the sauce (it was a vegan recipe because we were out of cream), but I'm sure you can find a recipe that would be to your liking. Enjoy!

The Best Blondies

<p>A brownie-like recipe great served with ice cream and caramel syrup!</p>

See The Best Blondies on Key Ingredient.

* 3 cups cake flour
* 1 tablespoon baking powder
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 pound unsalted butter
* 3 cups packed light brown sugar
* 3 large eggs
* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position; heat to 325 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with vegetable cooking spray. Fit a12-by-18-inch piece of heavy-duty foil into the pan so you can use the foil overhang as a handle to pull baked blondies from the pan; coat foil with cooking spray.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Then, heat butter and brown sugar in a large pan until bubbling hot. Whisk eggs and vanilla in a large bowl. Slowly whisk hot sugar mixture, then dry ingredients, into eggs. Stir in optional add-ins (if using chocolate, let batter cool slightly first).

3. Scrape batter into prepared pan, then bake until blondies are just set, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for five minutes. Pull blondies from the pan using foil handles and set on a wire rack. Cool completely before cutting into 24 pieces.

OURS: Okay, let's see what great Homemaking tips you have for us today. Thanks so much for your link and visits and have a great Homemaker Monday!

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Conversation with My Sister in the Bathroom.....

...she being in the shower, me fixing my hair in front of the mirror...

Robyn: [mumbling something]

Me: What did you say?

Robyn: Nothing, I'm talking to myself.

Me: Well why are you talking to yourself? I'm right here! Why don't you talk to me?

Robyn: Well do you know about Quantum Physics?

Me: No.

Robyn: Okay then, that's why I'm talking to myself!

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Merits of a Multi-Course Meal

We all know that we're supposed to eat like a trillion servings of leafy greens a day, right? Well, honestly, sometimes I go a whole day without feeding my kids some form of fresh greens. I know, it's horrible, right?

Well, I finally figured out how to get them to eat a salad at meal time without a huge fight. I've decided that from now on, I will serve our meals in courses, just like they do at restaurants. The first course will be the salad. The children must dish themselves up a bowl of leafy greens before they can eat anything else or even serve themselves anything else. And the salad doesn't have to be anything fancy. I usually just tear up some red and/or green leaf lettuce, sprinkle some croutons on top...


...then set it on the counter along with some ranch dressing and parmesan cheese. Look how well the youngsters are consuming their greens...


After they finish their bowl of salad, then they can proceed with the main dish, which, for today's menu, was baked macaroni and cheese....


The third course, dessert, is always something to look forward to, but this meal was made in a rush, so no sweet endings for today. Hopefully tomorrow, though!

So tell me. Have you tried this? If so, how does it work for you? I would really like to know. Thanks for listening!

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)