Sunday, December 30, 2007


Just wanted to point out that I've updated the links in my "Useful Stuff" list. Between Eden and Adrew's super-excitement (and lots more questions) this year about Santa and some discussions I've had lately, I decided to do a search on for "Santa Claus". There were a lot of stories and some opinion sort of articles- I found it pretty interesting, so maybe you will too. About the same time, I got an e-mail (maybe some of you have too) again about how Target doesn't support veterans and troops and is owned by the French. Usually, I ignore these type of forwards, but I had heard it from a few people and even found out one of my neighbors won't shop at Target. I really like shopping at Target, but had a little bit of guilt floating in the back of my head about it. Anyway, I've become a fan of the SNOPES website, so that's where that link will take you. And lastly, I've finally put some of our picasa albums on the web, so if you really want to see even more pictures, click on that. I'll try to update it monthly, since that's how I organize our pictures in Picasa.

I'm sure some of you are having a good laugh right now about how much I use the internet, oh well. It's not like I'm Sandra Bullock in "The Net." I did do about half of my Christmas shopping in person at the stores this year.

Our Merry Little Christmas

We had Christmas at our house this year, and were lucky enough to have Robin Fred and Shaun stop by on their way to Denver. On Christmas Eve we did a little nativity play with the kids. It was a shortened version from the Joy School manual that worked pretty well. Eden wanted to do it again, but Shaun and Andrew weren't interested, so I read it again while Eden did her part (Mary of course). I didn't get any pictures of that, but I think/hope Robin did. On Christmas morning, the kids enjoyed their Santa gifts for a while then we ate a breakfast including sticky buns, company strata, and of course, pigs in a blanket. Then we took turns opening the gifts from under the tree. Andrew and Eden were a little too excited and helpful for Shaun's presents at times, but it was a fun day. The race track that Santa gave to Andrew was a pretty big hit with all the kids, and I think Scott and Fred enjoyed it too.

Shaun loved the plush bear from Grandma Finley. He ran around hugging it for a while, and in Denver it joined the club with his other favorites.

One of Eden's favorites was the "Barbie as the Island Princess" movie that we gave her. She was also pretty excited about the Rosella and Prince Antonio (characters from the movie) dolls that Santa gave her (her first Barbie dolls). We (or maybe just me) debated whether Eden was old enough and whether we wanted to do the "Barbie thing," but eventually decided to draw the line at the Bratz dolls (they're on the other side of the line of course).

The kids loved playing with and moving their gifts all over the house. Christmas evening we had a ham dinner. Here's everyone ready to eat (Andrew didn't want to change out of his Christmas Pajamas). I've never done a ham before, but I'm a fan of it now (the pre-cooked and seasoned variety anyway- just heat it for a couple hours and its all ready to go!). We hope you all had a fun and Merry Christmas too!
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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Songs and Santa Claus

This past weekend we had our ward Christmas Party. Eden sang "Shepherd's Carol" with the rest of the Primary and got to be one of the chime-ringers. If you look close, you can see her nose is all red. She's had a cold for about a week now, it hasn't slowed her down much, but she's gone through a whole forest of tissues, so her nose is pretty sore.

The kids were so excited to see Santa, Eden made sure she got close to the front of the crowd, so Andrew and I were separated from her, but we came back later to get a picture of the two of them with Santa. Eden has been asking tons of questions about Santa, so I finally explained to her that the Santa she was seeing tonight was one of the real Santa's special helpers since Santa is so busy this time of year that he can't come to all the Christmas parties and malls before Christmas. When she asked who Santa's special helper was at the party, I told her we don't know, but we call him Santa because that's his special job. Now she thinks that someday I will grow into Mrs. Claus and Scott will grow into Santa Claus. Maybe she's been watching "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" too much. When she asked about our lack of chimney, I told her it was magic. Eden decided that means that Santa makes a magic chimney at the houses that don't have chimneys. I hope I didn't give away too much too young, but I was running out of answers! Andrew only got close enough to tell Santa what he wanted and grab a candy-cane, he did think it was pretty terrific that he got a BIG candy cane.

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Christmas decorations

We got our tree about a week and a half ago. Growining up, I thought I'd never have an artificial tree and gave my parents a hard time when they got theirs. But, then we moved to Hawaii and a fresh tree just wasn't practical. And I grew rather fond of my pre-lit, perfectly symmetrical and easy to care for boxed tree. So, it was with some hesitation that I agreed to go with a fresh tree this year. We thought about going and cutting one down, but a big snow storm came through and we didn't want to wait or bother with getting the tag. So we all crowded into the pick-up and headed for "Mom & Dad's" tree lot, just up road from our house. It's run by an older gentleman who stays in a converted bus with tons of Christmas decorations. It was dark by the time we went, so we just had the lamps at the lot to see by, plus it was super cold. So we didn't take any pictures. We didn't walk around very much before we decided on a frasier fir. The kids and I went into the nice warm bus for a few minutes while Scott got the tree situated in the truck. It had some snow on it, so we shook it as best we could then put towels down to try to contain the drippings after we got it set-up. We thought about leaving it in the garage overnight, but figured since it was cold enough for there to be ice under the van, it probably wouldn't help a whole lot. The next day we decorated it and took our family Christmas picture in front of it. Of course it smells so good, I can't believe I almost didn't want it!
The other pictures are ones that Eden took (without me knowing) of some of our other Christmas decorations- some plush decoration/toys that I put downstairs for the kids, a close-up of the three wise men in one of my nativities, and close-up of the top of the table-top tree we sent to Scott in Iraq last year.
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Andrew is 3!

Andrew's birthday was on the 12th. We had dinosaur chicken nuggets and french fries (Andrew's favorite) with the missionaries, followed by ice cream cake, of course. Scott just happened to sign up to feed the missionaries that night, but Andrew thought it was special just for his birthday. Then, on Saturday, we had a little party for him with a few of his friends. More dinosaur chicken nuggets & french fries, this time followed with a store-bought dinosaur cake. They played pin-the-horn-on-the-triceratop and had fun with Andrew's toys and balloons. I can't believe he is three already!

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Andrew loved the singing Shrek birthday card Grandma & Grandpa Dixon sent. He kept opening and closing it so he could dance around to the music. We finally had to hold it for him so he could open his other presents.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Happy Birthday to Scott!

Scott turned the big 3-0 on the first of December, but since he was out of town (for the third year in a row!), we decided to celebrate on Sunday, December 9th. We didn't have 30 candles, so we used candles to make the number 30. There were chopped-up Oreos on top of his mint chocolate chip ice cream cake, so when he blew the candles out the crumbs went everywhere. He got them all in one try though! Happy Birthday Scott!
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More Snow! and Swim Lessons

This is what it look like outside our house on Saturday morning. The smaller tree in front is the one Eden really wanted us to have as our Christmas tree. She thought Daddy should go out and chop it down and put it in our living room. The space between that tree and the one behind it to the right is the road that runs in front of our house.

The kids really wanted to make a snowman, but the snow was too dry. I'm sure it would have been perfect for skiing. The one on the left is Eden's snow angel. The one on the right is Andrew's attempt. Scott laid him down in the snow, but he wouldn't move his arms and legs. He probably thought it was too cold!

Eden has been taking swim lessons for a while now. The pictures from her class time didn't turn out (she was too far away). But, I got this one just before he class started. She's learning to trust the instructors enought to jump too them and that its OK for her face to get wet. She really loves it even though she's pretty cautious.
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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thanksgiving Weekend

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For Thanksgiving, we drove over to Sioux Falls to see Robin, Fred and Shaun. It was a fantastic meal and I even did a little shopping with my sister on the infamous Black Friday. On Saturday, we went to Falls Park. It was pretty cold, especially when the wind picked up, but we had a great time. After climbing the tower to see the view and letting the kids run around the park a bit, we took them on the trolley (heated!) tour of Historic Downtown Sioux Falls. It was a really fun weekend, thanks Robin and Fred!

The first snowflakes have fallen!

Here is a picture from the day it snowed (a few days before Thanksgiving). I thought I had more, but this is all that was on my camera when I went to upload them today. This is the view from our front door. It doesn't look like much (it only stuck to the coldest places like cars and porches), but we were pretty excited. Eden wanted to build a snowman (we'll have to wait for more snow) and Andrew wanted to come inside after about 20 seconds. Poor guy, I think he's going to have the hardest time of all of us adjusting to this super-cold weather.
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Sunday, November 18, 2007


We had some pretty cold and windy weather earlier this week. Between the sometimes extreme weather and the shortage of daylight, we've been trying to figure out how to keep Eden and Andrew entertained, indoors. We got the game "Hullabaloo" from Target a couple days ago. Here they are playing with it, sorry the video is pretty long, and the lighting isn't that great, I'll try to do better next time. Anyone know how to cut a video shorter after you've taken it?

Hey, I noticed after I posted this that there's no sound. I'll have to use the other camera next time I do video. It really is more entertaining with the sounds that this game makes, and the sounds that the kids make too. There's a soundbox that has music and a voice telling them to move (twirl, bounce, fly, etc.) to a different color, shape or picture. Then after a while it stops and if you're on the lucky pad, you're the winner for that round, and the voice tells you to take a bow or do a funky-monkey dance (the kids favorite), or something like that. You can keep playing over and over (until Andrew loses interest and starts picking up the pads). So far, it's been a worthwhile purchase.

Tagged Post Script

Scott thinks people know a lot of that stuff so here's a couple more:

  • I alway got really excited as a kid for the new school supplies, especially a box of brand-new crayons. I always try to keep them nice as long as I can in their box (I especially love the 64-count with the sharpener built into the back). It was almost painful to watch Eden, and later Andrew too, destroy the first box, and eventually the crayons. I've learned now to just buy the basic colors and get rid of the cardboard box right away.
  • I was part of the Tech Drama class in high school, which built the sets and did all the lights, sounds and other "behind the scenes" stuff for the plays (most of you know you wouldn't catch me actually in the spotlight). Ironically I got into this class because I was forced through as series of very unfortunate events (more like nightmare- remember way back when you actually registered in person for your classes and had to walk all around the gym trying to get the classes/teachers you want? well, I was a freshman...) to take ADVANCED SPEECH the second semester of my freshman year. The teacher who taught Advanced Speech, also taught Tech Drama.

Those who have been tagged know who they are, but anyone who wants to can do this "tag." Can't wait to see what I learn about you guys! I also wanted to add that I posted a link (in my "useful stuff" list) to an LDS Living article I found through Saundra's blog. Thanks, Saundra!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I've been tagged... Mandi

The rules:

A. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning.

B. Each player lists 6 facts/habits about themselves.

C. At the end of the post, the player then tags 4 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

Here are 6 things about me you may or may not know:

  1. I have a slightly embarassing amount of scrapbooking and stamping supplies. I also have a few other unused and unfinished crafty supplies and projects. I truly enjoy scrapbooking and stamping, and any kind of craft, but the time I actually put in probably does not warrant the amount of stuff I've collected. I also love going to the craft store (ie. Hobby Lobby) just to look around. Of course this is harder when you have little kids in tow, but on my own, I could spend the whole day in there.

  2. I have some sort of belly-button phobia. I hate seeing the kids (or Scott, who does it just to bug me) playing with/sticking their fingers in their belly buttons. When I get to be towards the end of pregnancy, my inny never turns into an outy, but just keeps expanding. I worry that it may just pop open. Totally irrational, I know.

  3. Books are addicting for me, way worse than tv. My favorites are mysteries and historical fictions, but I'll read just about anything. I'm pretty disciplined in the beginning of most books, but the further I get in, the more I have to get to the end. My family and home often go neglected until I finish.

  4. I have had three trips to the emergency room, and they are all clutz related, the broken bones and stitches never came with bragging rights. First, in 6th grade, I slipped on wet grass (I wasn't even running, just walking) and broke my wrist. Then just a few months later, I tripped over my sister and broke my foot. The third trip happened last year right before Scott left for his deployment. I was tried to push a gate open the wrong way (I thought it could swing open either way) and ended up with a ambulance trip (not necessary, but the kind lady who helped me insisted on calling 911) and 10 stitches down the center of my forehead- just in time for the family pictures we wanted to get before he left. I'm not always a clutz, but when I am, I do it big time.

  5. I am right-handed, but dribble a basketball better with my left hand.

  6. I tried out for three different sports my freshman year of high school (volleyball, basketball, and badminton) and didn't make any of the teams. It was all for the best though because the next year I went out for the cross-country team (no cuts), which I still enjoy today. If I had listened to my mother, I could have started my running 'career' a year earlier, but I was too embarrassed to go out for x-c my freshman year after not making the volleyball team.
Well there it is, now I tag Kendahl M., Chelsea B., Robin G., and Danette M. Have fun!

Monday, November 12, 2007


We have not had much to post about lately. The most exciting thing that's happened in the last week or so has been our new carpet. The housing office agreed to replace most of the carpet in our house, so we no longer have "funny" smells coming from the floor. Not much to brag about, but we are thankful. Since it is that time of year, I've decided (like some others) to start a gratitude list, you'll see it on the left-hand side. (I thought I should put it there so it doesn't get buried by all the super-exciting posts that I'm hopeful will be made in the near future.)

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Here are the pictures from the kids' night of looting. Eden was a fairy-princess (she had glitter in her hair and on her face, but it didn't really turn up in the photos) and Andrew was Spiderman. They were only gone about an hour and were completely satisfied with the half-bucket each that they collected. One of the great things about living in military housing is that there are set hours for Trick-or-Treating, 6-8pm, and there are a few security forces patroling. Even though the kids were with Scott, its nice to know that its such a safe environment.
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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Jack-O-Lantern, finally!

Here's the long, not-so-exciting story about our jack-o-lantern: A few weeks ago, we bought 3 pumpkins and put them in front of our house. We were pretty excited to have cool enough weather that jack-o-lanterns would last more than a couple days. That weekend, the pumpkins were taken (we saw evidence of smashing nearby). So, we bought 2 more and decided to keep them in the garage until we were ready to carve them. Well, we originally planned to carve them for FHE last week, but the kids got sick instead, then Scott was out of town. Today we figured was our last chance, since tomorrow is the big day. So, I got the kitchen ready and went to get the pumpkins from the garage. One of them was black and mushy on the top! (Maybe we shouldn't have stored them in the dark garage? the one we used was fine and they were right next to each other.) I had already told Eden and Andrew we would carve and paint pumpkins, and since we only had one left and they can't help a whole lot with carving, we carved, then the kids painted the one pumpkin we had (a $3.88 WalMart special, which essentially cost us $22.76 after everything that happened). If you can't tell, it is supposed to be a ghost.

*disclaimer: I am really not that talented artistically, we used a stencil; and we even bought one of those carving kits last year. The tools really are easier to use than our knives and spoons.*
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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Recipe Exchange!!! and Stake Conference

Here's the recipe I shared for the latest recipe exchange e-chainmail I got. It's actually from the Garnica's (hope that's ok), but I've switched from cooking them on the stove to using the crockpot method recommended by Mom.

Homemade Refried Beans (not exactly quick, but super-duper easy!)

Put about 1 cup pinto beans (sorted and rinsed) in crock pot. Add water so that the level of the water is 2-3 times as high as the level of the beans. Cook on low 6-7 hours, depending on how soft you like refried beans. Heat enough oil in skillet (mine is 10 or 12 in.) to generously coat the bottom of the skillet. Use slotted spoon to remove beans from crock pot to skillet. Use ladle or spoon to add some of the liquid from the crockpot to the beans. Use masher to mash/stir beans to desired consistency, adding liquid from crockpot as needed. Don't worry about adding too much liquid it will boil off pretty quick. Add salt to taste.

I usually make bean and cheese quesadillas for dinner the first day, then save the leftovers for bean and cheese burritos at lunch, they taste great with green taco sauce! Believe it or not, these have not caused much of a gas problem for our family (I've heard its because they are cooked in plenty of water, for plenty of time).

On another note, the kids and I actually made it all the way through our Stake Conference today, without Scott (he's in Meridian, ID for baby Abigayle's blessing), and it ran 20 minutes over (good thing the kids don't know how to tell time yet!) I only had to take Andrew out once, plus a couple water breaks. But the kids were actually very reverent most of the time!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Photos by Eden

We really haven't done much lately. The kids struggled with some kind of stomach flu most of this past week. So, I was looking through some of our old pictures to find something to post. These are pictures that Eden took during our Utah visit. She was always wanting to take pictures which is why we bought her a camera for her birthday (I have yet to scan any of those in). The first one is at Temple Square and the second one is in front of the apartment building Scott and I lived in when Eden was born. They're a little crooked, but she actually does a good job of getting everyone in the picture.
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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What a Guy!

Scott is such a great guy! Over the past few days he has done some wonderful little things for me that I really appreciate. On Saturday, he fixed the problem between our computer and printer (they weren't talking to each other, a problem I had already tried a couple times to fix, but Scott was the one to figured it out). On Monday he took the kids out for a drive after FHE to give me a little quite time (Andrew has been throwing fits a lot lately- even in public!!!), and last night he took the kids out to Pizza Hut buffet (kids eat free on Tuesdays) while I enjoyed a 28th OSS spouses' get together with tons of beautiful, yummy food from the hostess Helena. And today the housing office came out with the black-light to inspect our pet odor problem (previous owners had some poorly trained pets); I should have called weeks ago, but kept putting it off. I am just especially thankful for him today and wanted everyone to know. I love you, Scott!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Grandma & Grandpa Olson's Visit

This past week we had Scott's parents visiting. The kids were so excited, and then sad when it was time for them to go home. While loading these, I realized I didn't get very many with us or the grandparents (oops), but here's a little bit of what we did with them.

We went to the airplane museum next to the base. There was a lot of neat things to see. Here, Scott and Andrew are sitting in the cockpit of an F-106 (that's a fighter-jet, and yes, I had to ask Scott what plane it was).

This picture is from the trip through Custer State Park. They didn't see any bison, but they did see the wild burrows, which are actually quite tame. This one stuck his nose in the window when given the opportunity.

These are pictures from a trip to a park near our house. Andrew's Spiderman costume had just arrived (yeah ebay!), and he just had to wear it. He will go down this slide, only if I am watching nearby (it is a little high). Eden was having fun being silly with Grandma.

We also took a picnic to Mt. Rushmore, and then drove by Crazy Horse. Eden and Andrew were so excited to see these mountain goats. Apparently, they are not native to the Black Hills, they got loose from a movie production in the area.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Zucchini Recipes

Elise had the great idea of posting a recipe on her blog when she got the recipe chain e-mail (its hard to follow through on those and I hardly ever get any recipes from them). I thought it was a great idea and said I would post these recipes yesterday, but I didn't. So here they are. For those who don't already know, a friend gave me a HUGE zucchini from her garden, so we've been trying some new recipes this week. Sorry I don't have any pictures or anything.

Mom's Zucchini Bread (a recipe from, I used suggestions made by a reviewer)
makes two loaves

3 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. applesauce
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
3 tsp. vanilla
3-4 c. zucchini

1) Grease & flour two 8"x4" loaf pans (I used the foil ones from the grocery store). Preheat oven to 325 F.

2) Beat eggs, oil, applesauce, vanilla, sugars. Add the dry ingredients, mix well (you're supposed to have already mixed the dry igredients together, but I never do that). Stir in zucchini.

3) Bake 50-60 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then remove and cool completely.

Zucchini Meat Loaf (from Amanda, who gave me the zucchini; all the suggestions at the end are hers. we all loved it, even the kids!)

2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups shredded zucchini (1 large or 2 small)
1/2 cup bread crumbs*
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef

TOPPING (its yummy!- make twice as much and mix half into the meatloaf)
1 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 tsp. yellow mustard

1. Heat oven to 350 F. In large bowl, mix all meat loaf ingredients until well blended**. Press mixture into ungreased 9 1/2 inch deep-dish glass pie plate***. Bake 35 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix all topping ingredients. (See comments by TOPPING ingredients)

3. Remove meat loaf from oven; pour off drippings. Spread topping over loaf. Return to oven; bake 10-15 minutes longer or until thoroughly cooked in center (meat thermometer reads 160 F). Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

* I have found a quick way to get bread crumbs if you don't have them on hand. Take one or two slices of bread and toast them in the toaster. Then place in the refrigerator for a few minutes to cool. Then place in blender to make crumbs.
** I use my kitchenaid mixer to mix my meatloaf. That way I don't have to get my hands all gooey or get raw hamburger under my fingernails. Eeewwww!
*** The Pillsbury cookbook recommends baking the meat loaf in a shallow pie plate because it takes less time than baking it in a loaf shape. Dinner can be on the table more quickly.

All the comments on the meatloaf are Amanda's. Also, she told me to double the topping and add some to the meat loaf before I cooked it, but I forgot. So I still made double and just put it all on top, it is really yummy topping! For the zucchini bread, you can look it up on Allrecipes. com. I just used the substitutions and stuff recommended by MommyFromSeattle, the "altered" recipe is the one I posted.

Making both of these recipes once only used up about half of the shredded zucchini I got from that monster. Amanda told me to shred it and freeze what I didn't need, which I did, before making the meat loaf. So, since I had to thaw it to make the meatloaf, and it was all in one big ziploc, I'll be making more zucchini bread (I hear you can freeze that too).
Note to self: freeze shredded zucchini in smaller, more manageable portions.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Eden is 5! and Hermit Crabs

We weren't going to do a big party for Eden, especially since we had just got back from our big road trip, and her birthday fell on a Sunday this year. But, her friend Aurora (who turned 4 just a few days before Eden turned 5) invited her to do a double birthday, with just our two families. It worked out great, Eden felt like she had a "party" and it didn't really take any work. She got an inexpensive 35mm camera for her birthday, and went through the first roll the same day!

The kids have been wanting a pet for quite a while, so after numerous trips thru the pet store, I relented and said they could have hermit crabs when we got back from our big trip. I had read through the information at the pet store and decided that they couldn't be any more work than the goldfish we had in Hawaii (whether this turns out to be true remains to be seen). So, now we are the proud owners of two very special crabs. The white one is Eden's and the darker one is Andrew's, but they don't have names yet.
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