Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy Chinese New Year!

With my youngest two children in the Chinese immersion program, there is no way that we would miss celebrating the Chinese New Year.  To celebrate, Owen wore red with loads of his classmates, and Annie wore this darling pink outfit that Ryan bought her a few years ago in Chinatown in San Francisco.  I was lucky enough to help out in Owen's classroom during his party, and Owen even got to reenact karate kid and break a board with his bare hand.  He was very pleased with himself.  My older two went on a campout tonight (in the snow!!!!)  Many are cold, but few are frozen. I  hope they are warm tonight, and that they remember to say their goodnight prayers.  Spoken like a real mom!

Happy Chinese New Year! We love egg rolls and sweet and sour pork and sesame balls!

Owen went shopping with me for the campout this evening. I LOVE spending lots of money on campouts, because our family LOVES to camp!!!

This is such a great group of boys, they will have a wonderful time. A million points to the leaders (and their spouses) for volunteering their time to help out my scouts.

Owen actually swam by himself today, like a champion.  It was awesome.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

It's Great to Be 38!!!

Ryan Edward Smith turned 38 today.Today featured:  Donuts for breakfast, awesome presents including a monkey pinata (picked out by Owen) a modern art bird-feeder (sent to him from his Mom) and a mirrored disco ball from Annie, he visited a hardware store, he had lunch from the taco vendor at the Sears parking lot in SLC (a family favorite) and for dinner I made him California sushi rolls, with the sushi mats he bought me for Christmas.  I love this man, and have celebrated the last 16 birthdays with him. Here's to another 59 more birthdays so that we can celebrate out 75th anniversary together (it's not really on his priority list, but it should be.) Happy Birthday my Ryan!

Picking out donuts for Dad this morning. Ryan loves donuts!

Look at the how thrilled he is with his new disco ball!

Happy birthday snow shoveling with Calvin.

Lookin spiffy at the hardware store.

FOr dinner we chucked loads of butter onto a griddle and fried up loads of tasty foods: zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, chicken, shrimp.  We had rice and soy sauce.

California roll: sushi rice, cucumber, carrot, japanese fired egg, and avocado. Tasty.

Icing the carrot cake.  The cake was great. The cream cheese frosting was to die for.

Monkey pinata. Too late to smash him in tonight.  

He's putting together a wood catapult kit that his mother gave him.

I put all 37 candles snuggled up against each other.  It was such a huge flame, it was wonderful!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow Tires Whatever

Instead of having snow tires, I don't.  Instead of parking my car in my garage, it isn't.  When I dropped by a friend's house, it was slightly raining.  When I left her place this evening, it was snowing. Her steep driveway (totally similar to mine) was just too much for my van (yes, it finally left the repair shop this afternoon!) to handle.  There are many things that I love about Utah. The snow is not one of them. Setting aside the fact that I simply prefer warm over cold, it's just so much cheaper to live in a warm climate... say Tucson, AZ for example.  A bathing suit costs ten bucks, and you can wear it all season.  Snow clothes cost way more, and the good gloves alone cost ten bucks (and get lost within the week almost every time.) Add in snow boots, warm jackets, hats, scarves, bibs, etc... and that's just more money than I want to spend on winter.  Maybe heating a home and cooling a home are sixes, but I don't remember ever being "heated in" like being "snowed in." Now to snow tires.  They're like expensive. Not like gloves but like half a grand expensive. Meow, Meow too much money meow (I do the budget and I don't want to budge.) Ryan is an actual grown-up, and tells me to just go buy snow tires. He's right.  He often is.

Snow tires look like this, but there are four of them and they are all attached to a car.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Parent Teacher Conference

I am sure that many parents out there look forward to Parent teacher conference with great anticipation. It's a chance for you to hear how well your child is doing, how high their reading average is, how neat their penmanship is, how well behaved they are in class, how tidy they keep their desk, etc... I  head into this obligatory interview with the understanding that #1 I love my children #2 They are not perfect #3 Any and all of their struggles at school are a direct reflection of my parenting.  All together, I don't really look forward to these meetings.  I have good kids.  I love them.  We're working on it.  And yet, As much as I dont' really enjoy these meetings, I at least plan on them being at that... meetings.  Today, due to some teacher errors, inadvertent discrepancies in scheduled meetings (line jumping), and all around bad luck, I ended up visiting 3 of 5 teachers today in 11 minutes.  As in I got 3.66 minutes with 3 teachers (in what should have been 40 minutes total).  Basically enough time to fake a smile, sit down, and... hear the teachers launch into what needs improving. They tried to tell some good stuff, but when time is of the essence, you take care of what needs help, not what is working just fine. Not cool.  I'm whining, I know.  My poor kids didn't really have their chance to shine, and I was just trying to remain calm, given that I signed up for a specific time slot, arrived on time... and waited to be seen.  It was like a dr's visit, only with several lined up back to back. Thumbs down.

I got the solid 20 minutes with Owen's teacher.  It was great!  He's doing well, and was able to hear about both his accomplishments and what needs improving.  He's reading me a story in chinese in this picture.

Annie and I are singing in a special choir for a church activity next week.  It was so fun to practice with her, and I love to hear her sing.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Take Two!

Not every day is a bundle of creativity.  Tonight for dinner? Mexican food again.  Not leftovers, but just the same theme.  Entertainment/ Family Home Evening? Games in the basement again.  Wii Dance, and some monster game similar to Battleship, but once you correctly guess the coordinates to the monster, you have to spin the spinner to get a power that might kill that particular breed of monster.  Weird and fun, courtesy of Simon.

"The Monster Hunters' Game"
With a title like that, you know it is going to be fun.  It was like Halloween in January.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Whits and Wagers

After attending church, some meetings, Home Teaching, and a lovely Mexican meal, my family gathered around our family room.  After a brief, but intense, discussion on keeping the house clean, replacing the toilet roll, using our laundry baskets, putting away toys, the official location for the remote control, and the um-teenth reminder to keep food in the kitchen, we launched into a friendly game of Whits and Wagers.  A question is read.  Each player/team writes the number that they believe the answer to be.  All answers are placed on the table.  You get two makers (they look like a wooden man) to place on the card/cards that you think has the right answer.  Winning answers and tokens get points. Losing answers and markers get to feel bad that they weren't correct. It's a simple, interesting game, and  I love that we were all there, spending time together.  Family time rocks. So does church. So do Sundays.

It's kind of a somber shot of us... but we are all having a grand time as we lose to Calvin, who excels in  whits and makes intelligent wagers. Not related, but those plaid couches (one that seats 4, the other seats 3) were purchased at the DI for a mere $40, and are insanely comfortable.  It might be the best bargain purchase we have ever made. I love that they're plaid. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Cinnamon Rolls

Heaven on earth is butter, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, yeast, salt, oranges, buttermilk, cream cheese, vanilla, and love combined in the right order, baked at 400 degrees for 13 1/2 minutes, and topped with chipper frosting.  I love baking!

Duct Tape

Annie Joy has discovered the joy of duct tape.  And I totally get the appeal. It comes in so many colors and there are a variety for things that can be made with it: purses, wallets... shoes, yes Annie made sandals last week, and today she attempted a formal dress.  The sleeves didn't work out quite as planned, but I thought her first duct tape dress turned out very well.  Not related, Ryan Edward Smith is back from his SF trip, so the world feels right again.

It's harder to make a dress out of tape than one might assume.  I really liked the white flower she made by the right sleeve.

That balloon is so insanely big!

*** This post is for Friday, January 24th*** Happy birthday, Dad!!!

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Simon had a Dr.'s appointment this morning, so we caught a lovely brunch together at some place on Main (in Bountiful, UT) with "Annie" in the title.  The food was good and my time with Si-Guy was so wonderful!  I would love to do this every day, taking turns with each of my little ones.  Simon was delightful company, cheerful, and very hungry!

Gotta love sprinkles, whipped cream, chocolate syrup... good stuff!
Simon looks soo handsome!

This was the half order of biscuits and gravy!!! It was massive!  The sausage links were like three in one.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


We are a two car family.  My car ( a 2010 Honda Odyssey) is currently at a body shop getting repair work done.  I was in an accident about 10 days before Christmas (which was about a week after Ryan changed our insurance, and doubled our deductible.) I was cited. Not cool.  Soo, Ryan is in San Francisco with some.....blah blah blah... does it really matter where he is or what he is doing? Not really, not tonight. 10 points to wives who don't mind that their husbands travel.  Maybe someday I will wear your jersey. Clearly, this is not that night... So while my "I'm a Mom!" minivan is in the shop, and Ryan is out of town, I am driving our other car, a.k.a. thee "I'm a real adult with a job" car. It's got black leather interior, it only seats 5, it has a kickin stereo, has seat warmers, and when you hit the gas the car takes off like a bullet.  I used to feel bad for Ryan about his daily commute.  What a joke. (FYI - for all you car people out there: I don't have any idea what make and model his car is. I get that those details would really be the icing on the cake.  But tonight's cake is icing free.)

This is Ryan's car parked outside of his office... or something very similar.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My Day

Dropped minivan off for body work. Ate cereal with the kids and read from the Book of Mormon. Chores. Workout. Read Edenbrook (love it!) Grocery shopping. Loads of Costco samples.  Dinner at a friends' (home-made tortillas!) Reading about Eve in the Bible. Missing "temple Tuesday" with Jade.  Scouts. Book time.  Family Prayers.  The end.  Back to Edenbrook!

Simon posting the American flag. Well done.

SImon got his Bear tonight.  I got a bear pin. Lucky mom, fabulous leaders!

What a good big brother.  Owen picked out a book at the library that he can't read yet (The Curse of the Bizarre Beetle!), so Preston read him to sleep. 

Monday, January 20, 2014


Today began the way that most American's begin this special day: by listening to the song titled "Shed A Little Light" by James Taylor (if you haven't heard it ever or not for a while, go to and listen to it for free.) It starts with the words: Oh let us turn or thoughts today to Martin Luther King, and recognize that there are ties between us, all men and women, living on the earth. Ties of hope and love of sister and brotherhood..." It's a great song about love, peace and our shared experiences as humans, our need for love and each other.  Thank Heaven for the Civil Rights movement!  I also want to give a shout out on this special day to all those who aren't government employees, who didn't get today off, but would have liked to celebrate with those of us who were free today... Mom I love you!  Happy MLK Day.

Annie made play dough, because she is crafty and prolific!

Last night Calvin was awarded his Tenderfoot.  I love my Mom Boy Scout pins!
10 points to dedicated Scout leaders! Thank you for helping my boys!

I cut Preston's hair today.  I think I did a pretty great job.  And I also made Preston!

Who knew there was actually a kangaroo lurking about at the Kangaroo Zoo Bounce house?!

Owen at the pool today.  I am so glad that he is turning into a fish!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Funday

Ryan got some quality time today with our littles while I was attending some church meetings.  Like any rad Dad, he busted out some color paper and they decided to make some origami cranes.  Owen is a little young for origami, so he decided to put some underwear in hie head, tie loads of ribbons around his waist, and put some socks on his hands.  "What are you up to?"Ryan asked.  "I'm super karate champion cuz I've got all these belts."  Origami whatever.  Who knew we had a karate champion in our midst.  10 points to Ryan for taking this picture for me.

That really is a lot of ribbons.

I totally LOVE the turquoise crane! 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Second Hand Success (aka Miracle)

Its cold and snowy outside.  We don't ski.  I don't like to be cold, and my kids like to swim, so today we decided to head down to the rec center for a dip in the pool.  Preston and RYan were building sets for a musical the Peas will be in a month, so it was just me and the bottom 4 kids.  Our only problem was that Simon, Annie, and Owen couldn't find their swimsuits... and it's January so most stores don't have their swimsuits out yet.  DI (our local awesome thrift shop) seemed to be our only chance.  Calvin, randomly, wanted some flippers, and I had been searching high and low for a coat rack, to hang my aprons on in the kitchen.  I said a prayer, knowing that none of these requests were life and death, but also knowing that parents like to treat their kids every once in awhile, I figured I could petition Heavenly Father and see what happens.  We found swimsuits for the bottom three... like the only swimsuits on the racks that just happened to fit each of them.  The Calvin comes along with flippers... that totally fit, nice quality speedo flippers (normally around $30, but purchased today for $2!) At this point we were all pretty excited to have located most of our stuff.  Annie heads over to the home furnishing bit and then returns to tell me they have my coat rack.  It was a Saturday Second Hand Success!  We will all forever remember this day.  I love DI.  How grateful I am for such a happy, affirmative answer to my prayers!

Calvin with his flippers!

Me with that ugly gold coat rack!

Annie showing off my fab new turquoise coat rack!

Not found at the DI, but Ryan still got these basketball shoes for half the price at thrift store. 
It must run in the family... cheapness, that is.

Hot Date

I got an exciting text today* from my husband.  It's the kind of text every woman wants to read.  "Be ready by 5:30pm.  We're going on a date."  Boom, baby.  I showered, made pretty, threw some frozen delectables towards Preston and made him promise to ensure that the bottom two would actually eat something, and we were off.  As far as dates go, it was standard fare.  Dinner and a movie. But the dinner was wonderful: Indian cuisine (Yeah Chicken Korma!) and the movie was just as great: I highly recommend The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  I really do.  And Indian food.  I recommend that as well.  And also hot dates with your husband. And singing in the shower.

See, we really did eat Indian food.

I just love it when Ryan flares his nostrils.

He just couldn't resist (and he thought Calvin would get a kick out of it, since they made a shield for his birthday 3 weeks ago.)
* This post reflects the events of Friday, January 17th, 2014.*

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Fresh Mozzarella

There are many foods that warm my heart, but tonight a real winner warmed my belly.  Like many of you foodie's out there, I go through periods of fixating on a certain ingredient.  Fresh mozzarella is the object of my obsession.  Here's the deal.  It just tastes sooo good.  It's all creamy and mild.  It's best friends with avocado's.  It's married to fresh tomatoes.  It likes to hang out with basil and olive oil and balsamic vinegar (the good vinegar that can be had at specialty stores: I'm sorry to report I did a vinegar taste test recently and... snap, you get what you pay for.  Not all balsamic vinegars are created equal.)  This evening my family dined on a home-made pizza topped with sauce of my own make, ham, and fresh mozzarella. It was delectable.  Go ahead.  Grab some the next time you're getting messages (that's what they call groceries in Scotland.)

Doesn't that look inviting?!?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Today Jade Louise Herriot left on a plane, destination Edinburgh, Scotland.  She cried her buckets yesterday. I followed her example today. The house feels very different without our Scottish lassie around.  I am confidant that she will be warmly welcomed back in Auld Reekie.  Now 18, a world of possibilities are open to Miss Jade.  Can't wait to see what you decide to do, where you decide to go, what you decide to be! It's been 3 months full of adventure!




and gone.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Eating Up the Last Day

Today was Jade's last full day in Utah... for now.  I don't have any pictures of it, because she was out and about all day with pals: Today was her last day at seminary and her seminary pal, Emily, brought in a Costco cake.  She went shopping with the Cleggs (who are the family of the Sister missionary that taught Jade the gospel in Edinburgh), She hung out with Preston tonight, and then chatted with Emily again.  She cried a little (and so did I), and she smiled, laughed and packed a lot.  Everyone just got to bed (and it's past midnight.) I had my neighborhood monthly cooking croup over this evening as well.  The theme ingredient was hazelnuts, and it was wonderful.  It was a good day, kind of sad, but tasty.

I made this hazelnut salad with hazelnut crusted chicken, and a hazelnut asian dressing.  It won the gold and the presentation award!  Boom, Baby!

Pear and GOat Cheese Pizza.  It was wonderful, and it won the Silver trophy.

I can't remember what these little beauties were called, but they were a crazy rich dessert. Mighty tasty and they took the Bronze. It was a great night with lovely friends.