Sunday, December 4, 2011

Advent Activities - December 4th

Tonight we watched the Christmas Devotional in the comfort of our own home, while drinking hot chocolate and eating freshly baked cookies.  It was a treat!

Happy Birthday to Luz!

Yesterday we celebrated Luz' 4th birthday.  I know, she is practically all grown up and saving China!  We had a pleasant morning.  Juan made breakfast burritos with eggs and stuff.  Then I left to do a couple of errands while she, Ezra, and Juan all played. 

We had her birthday party from 2-4.  It was a Dora theme.  All the local cousins came.  (I am thankful for the internet and people who post such fabulous and creative ideas for me to copy and/or modify!)  When they arrived they each got a Dora bag filled with necessities for the adventure and got right to work coloring a picture of Dora or one of her friends. (crayons were in the bag) Our next stop was the story blanket to read a Dora book.  Then we headed downstairs and had to blow bubbles to cross the train table that was in our way. (bubbles were in the bag)  Then there were some more obstacles in our way (the Dancing Forest) and we had to dance our way through. (instruments were in the bag)  Then we headed back upstairs to the blanket for a snack. (cup and plate were in the bag)  And learned an English/Spanish song.  And had cupcakes.  And opened presents.  It was a blast!

After the party we headed out to "The Birthday Place" for dinner.  Earlier in the week I had asked Luz what she wanted for her birthday dinner.  She replied very quickly, "I want to go to the birthday place, Mom."  Which birthday place?  Tucanos, of course.  We go there to celebrate Dad's birthday, and Mom's birthday, and now, Luz' birthday.  So cute!  She stood on my lap and shook the tambourine when they sang to her.  Oh, and she insisted that she needed to wear her new princess dress there.

My little Luz is growing up.  She has brought so much happiness into my life these past 4 years.  I seriously don't know what I would do without her.  I get her.  I mean even when I am frustrated with her, I [most of the time] understand what is going through her mind.  She is truly a mini me in so many ways.  I love, love, love her and can't wait for our next adventures together!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Advent Activities - December 2nd

Tonight I went with the Cub Scouts to the BYU Planetarium to see the "Star of Bethlehem" show.  It was pretty interesting.  Definitely not for my kids' ages yet.  We'll have to wait a few years to take them.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent Activities - December 1st

The Festival of Trees:
We have attended this event for several years now.  There is a special spirit when you enter an event where 100% of the proceeds from everything go to charity.  This year was even more special because my niece Victoria put together a tree to donate.  Hers received one of the highest bids for small trees.  We are so proud of her.  And it was fun to attend the event together.  The kids had a great time.  Unfortunately, Juan was not able to go with us this year.  He was at a presidency meeting the only evening we could attend.  The first picture is a giant bubble thing.  It was pretty cool!

Advent Activities

It takes me a while to get in the Christmas spirit.  I mean, like I start getting into it around December 20th every year.  I want to enjoy Christmas.  I think this is my year.  I have already been gearing up for some Christmas excitement for a few weeks now.  I was so excited that Juan put Christmas lights up on the house the day before Thanksgiving while I was out.  I came home to this:

Breathtakingly beautiful!  I put together a calendar of Christmas activities for our family, beginning December 1st.  I tried to include a variety of projects, service activities, musical events, etc.  We'll see how it goes.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving - Take 2

Then on Saturday we got together with Benjamin's and Carolyn's families for a real Thanksgiving.  Benjamin and Tami cooked a very yummy turkey, potatoes, gravy, and pumpkin pie.  Carolyn made ambrosia and stuffing and brought a chocolate pie.  I made yams and apples, corn, apple crisp, and bought rolls.  It was all yummy.

I love Thanksgiving!  It is still my favorite holiday.  I'm always glad for an extra opportunity to reflect on blessings and service.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving - Take 1

We had an awesome Thanksgiving!  On Thanksgiving day we made carne asada.  The Sunday before, I asked Juan what he wanted to have because he hates turkey.  He said carne asada.  I asked him what we were going to do if it snowed.  He said he would still cook it.  So, we planned for it and executed the plan.  It was fun!  It turned out to be a beautiful day, like we played outside while he was cooking.  It was only about 60, but the kids had coats on, don't worry. :)  So, we ate carne asada, rice, beans, roasted pumpkin (cubed, cooked in the oven with a little coconut oil and salt), green beans, apple cider.  More of a harvest celebration.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Luz' First Primary Program

Luz participated in her first Primary program today.  She said her part well.  She's known it for weeks now.  "Puedo saber que las escrituras son [la palabra] de Dios."  (I can know that the scriptures are [the word] of God.)  The words in brackets are ones she decided didn't belong and never included in her rehearsal of this part.  I'm not sure why.  I would say the entire phrase and she would repeat it exactly, purposely leaving out that part.  I decided after a few days that it still made sense without it and I didn't want to push it.  So she delivered her version of her part. :)  She sang all the songs.  She looked cute.  I was back in the corner playing the piano and couldn't see her face.  Ezra was mesmerized the entire program and actually sat and watched/listened.  I don't think Juan had to take him out at all.  That's a first!

In an effort to make the Primary program a big deal and because she only has 1 dress that fits her anyway, we got a new dress to wear today.  I picked out 4 that I liked.  We took them into the dressing room.  I had her pick her 2 favorites to try on.  Juan and I both told her we liked the brown and pink one better.  She said she really wanted the purple one.  I let her choose.  It's cute.  The sleeves are a little weird for my taste.  Our mission was to find a cute dress that went with brown shoes because her already-existing, still-fitting church shoes are brown.  Most winter dresses go better with black, but I thought this was just fine.  We had the same mission for Mr. Ezra who has brown shoes.  Apparently we like brown shoes around here and do not want to buy millions of shoes in a size that the kids only wear for a couple of months.  Luz has 2 pair of shoes and some flip-flops.  Ezra has 1 pair of shoes.  The end.  Anyway, Ezra has been wearing some blue cords and a red polo shirt for church for a couple of months now.  They are both too small and not warm enough.  I picked up this outfit at the store in size 18 months... (Luz' dress is size 5, by the way.  Apparently our children are giants.)  ...and showed Juan.  He looked at me like I was nuts, and then I explained the brown shoe plan.  He was on board with that.  Let's buy clothes around already existing shoes. :)  We're weird parents.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween 2011

Monday was Halloween.  We went over to Aunt Linda's for our "annual" Halloween party with Grandma M.  It was good to see her and visit with her.  We had planned to go over and visit more on Sunday, but we didn't want to take the illness with us, so we got a very short and sweet visit on Monday.  We had dinner and then Juan took the kids trick or treating while we visited.  I tried a new recipe!  I made beef stew inside a pumpkin and cooked it all in the oven.  It was yummy. 

Luz was a...purple butterfly (again)!  This was the 4th year she has worn the same costume.  Best investment ever.  It is the only costume she's ever known.  It is cute and warm and apparently grows along with the child.  I told her this year that it would be her last year as a butterfly.  She said, "Oh good Mom!  I want to be a princess next time." :) 

Ezra was a Tigger, minus the hood.  He is not a hood guy.  He went trick or treating in the stroller.  He is walking quite well, but he doesn't walk much in public yet.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me - Part 1

As you know from this post, and this post, and this post... we like to do multiple part birthdays in our family.  Today was Part 1 for me.  Conversation a few days ago:
Juan: So, what do you want to do for your birthday?
Me: Oh, didn't I tell you? We're getting family pictures taken.
Juan: Are you kidding me? :(
Me: Nope. But aren't you glad we didn't take them for YOUR birthday?
Juan: not convinced...
Me: It's MY birthday! :)

So, here are some of the cutest ones.  I was EXTREMELY happy with the studio and we got the CD with about 50-60 great pictures on it!  (I played around with the formatting, but I know it's still retarded.  I'll work on it again some time.)


Monday, August 22, 2011

2 Weeks of Whole Foods

After June and July, my body had had it!  I just couldn't eat like that anymore.  So, I decided to do a whole foods cleanse, 50% raw.  No chemicals, no processed foods, no refined foods, no meat, no dairy.  Lots of produce and whole grains and beans.  It was refreshing.  I got to spend a little more time in the kitchen than I had, which was actually fun.  Here are some of the things we've been eating:

My standard daily green smoothie:
1 c. water or unsweetened coconut juice
1 banana
1 apple, quartered and cored, with skin
1 carrot, ends cut off, with skin
1/2 lb. spinach
2 c. frozen mango
Shove it all in the Blend-tec except for the frozen fruit and blend on the whole juice setting once.  Then add frozen fruit and blend one more time.

We tried this beauty out and love it, any time of day.  I even made it into popcicles, which were also yummy.
Robyn's Hot Pink Breakfast smoothie:
1 1/2 c. unsweetened coconut liquid (comes in a can, buy it by the case at Good Earth)
1/4 c. raw cashews (Winco bulk)
1/4 c. dates (Costco)
1 carrot, ends cut off, with skin
1/4 of a raw beet, peeled (anywhere) - I actually use 1/2
12 frozen strawberries (I bought fresh at Costco, washed and froze myself)
2 tsp. vanilla
I blended twice because the cashews made it a little grainy after only once.

We ate my very own crockpot beans in more than one variety.  If you have never cooked your own, you are missing out!  Please give this a try:
About 1 1/2 pounds of dry pinto, red or black beans
1 T Real Salt
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and whole
Fill the rest of your crock pot up with water and cook 6-8 hours.  Pinto beans take less time, black beans will usually take the full 8 hours.  Serve as is with a slotted spoon, make burritos, blend them up into "refried" beans, etc.

We ate this Black Bean Soup.
Modifications: vegetable broth in lieu of beef broth.  Served with lime wedges, warmed corn tortillas (Rancho Market brand only has 3 ingredients), and of course, a salad.)

We ate these Southwest Stuffed Bell Peppers.
Modifications: no cheese, no chips, I used quinoa.  They were a bit spicy for me.  I won't be using the chipotle chili powder next time.

We ate this Southwest Quinoa Salad.
Modifications: I omitted the pepitas.  I did add steamed diced zucchini though.

We ate stir fry.  Which means that I sliced and diced as many veggies as I could think of, barely cooked them in my wok and served them over brown rice.  No sauce, no meat.  So many colors.

We ate amazing 20 ingredient salad.

We ate homemade pizza. [Family recipe that apparently hasn't made it only my Mom's food blog yet.  I will type it in here later.]
Modifications: fresh ground wheat flour, no cheese, sliced fresh tomatoes, bell peppers, green onions.  Yum.

We ate tostadas (Rancho Market's corn tortillas only have 3 ingredients).  Warm them in a skillet until they are a little bit crisp, not burned.  Spread some homemade "refried" beans, lettuce, tomatoes, and other fresh veggies.  Cook your brown rice in vegetable broth to give it some more flavor.

I currently have a bowl of fresh grapes, washed and in the fridge.  As well as a bowl of cut up watermelon.  And a bag of cut up carrots.  And celery.  All ready to eat.

I feel so good.

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Green Smoothie Guy!

May 23, 2011 (7 1/2 months old) - Ezra ate his first green smoothie (spinach, banana, apple, carrots, frozen mango).  I should mention that he had a very rough day and had not smiled all day.  I blended some smoothie up for the rest of us and decided to feed him some on a spoon.  This smile was the result.  We love green smoothies!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunbeam Adventures

While it is not so exciting to take a 12-18 month baby to church, things do improve!  Nursery is fun!  And then comes Sunbeams!!!  I have a feeling this will be a multiple part series for me during the coming year.  Today 3 things happened.

During Sharing time I was sitting on the back row.  Well, Miss Luz was sitting next to her friend Justin and put her arm slyly over the back of his chair.  The next thing I knew, he also had his arm up on her chair and then started playing with her hair.  Meanwhile I was just watching this thinking, "That is cute!" and "This is Primary, kids...and you are only 3!"  Finally I went up and told them both to fold their arms and listen. :)

Later I was talking with the Primary secretary.  She handed me a piece of paper and told me I had to read it.  It was a spotlight form they had given each of the teachers to help the children in their class fill out.  Luz had said the following:
Favorite food: pasta
Favorite animal: bunny (???)
When I grow up I want to be: I want to be like Jesus
Doesn't that just bring tears to your eyes?

After lunch Luz was playing downstairs.  Juan went down to find her standing on the table talking.  He asked what she was doing.  She said that she was giving a talk in church.  [This may have been prompted because Juan spoke in Sacrament Meeting today.]  So cute!  I guess we will be helping her give a talk in church this year.  Glad she's preparing for it. :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Recipe: Black Bean Soup (from

My Rating: THIS IS AMAZING!  As in, you HAVE to try it soon!  If you don't want to make it, call me and I will make it for you!!!
I was browsing, looking for healthy meals and found this on one of my favorite food sites Our Best Bites.  I used black beans I had cooked myself.  You don't really have to dice the veggies, just kind of chop them up very coarsely.  I omitted the salt and pepper.  Because I already had the 1/2 tsp. out, I used that for the cumin, oregano, and chili powder.  No sense in dirtying another dish.  We topped it with a dollop of sour cream and a little bit of grated cheddar cheese (totally NOT authentic).  It was super easy.  You can blend all of the soup in about 2 blender-fulls.  I really appreciated the tip of leaving the center of the lid off, but holding a paper towel there.  I was just looking for some variety, but when I took my first bite, I thought WOW WOW WOW!!!

* Note: the lime is not listed in the ingredient list, but you will not want to leave it out.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cutest smile ever!

This afternoon, Ezra was sitting on my lap and Juan was talking to me.  These were just some of Ezra's random expressions:

New Recipe: Spinach and Feta Pasta (from

My Rating: Awesome!  and so fast!
Remember that dinner rut I was talking about?  Well, I am really into trying new recipes now.  I happened upon this one and loved it!  Quick!  In fact, so quick that we ate dinner at 4:45 last night.  I was aiming for 5:00.  I doubled the pasta, as in added the whole 16 oz package.  I did that because I don't like half-opened packages in my cupboard.  It was fine, but made so much that I will probably just follow the recipe next time.  I added lots of extra spinach, like probably a total of about 8 large handfuls, and will probably add more next time.  In my opinion this wasn't even close to enough.  I used 2 regular-size cans of Italian style diced tomatoes, which I love.  I also added extra mushrooms and a total of about 6 oz of feta cheese.  I am in love with this recipe.  However, this afternoon I had some leftovers for lunch and it wasn't nearly as flavorful.  I'm going to try following the pasta to goodies ratio next time and see what happens.  I served this with a green salad and bread.  Here is the recipe!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ezra: 3 months going on 6

Mr. E is such a smiley boy.  He likes being tickled.  He desperately wants to sit by himself, but can't quite do it yet.  He wants nothing to do with laying down.  I think he feels like he is missing out on something.  He is strong.  He is happy most of the time...except when he's hungry.  He and Luz absolutely adore each other.  I should also mention that he is 16 pounds 3 ounces as of last week and graduated into size 3 diapers today.

Luz: First night in a big girl bed

We finally did it!  Juan and I got up the courage to move Luz out of a crib and onto a mattress (temporarily until she gets used to sleeping on it and then onto a real bed that's waiting for her in our basement).  She was very excited and helped rearrange the bedroom this afternoon.  Here she is all tucked in.  As I write this a couple of hours later, I must say that she did quite well.  She laid down shortly before 8:00.  She did her routine call for us to help her go to the bathroom about 15 minutes later.  Then she called for a drink of water.  And then she was quiet and at some point around 9 fell asleep.  Yeah!  When I tucked her in, I told her that when she wakes up in the morning she can call me to come help her get up.  She replied, "I big girl Mommy.  I can get up myself!"  Well, alright then.

Today is the day...

to start catching up on the blog!  Entries will be posted according to date of occurrence, not all on today's date, however.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Week 1: Done!

Goal: Read The Book of Mormon as a family every single night.  3 verses each because Luz is 3. :)
Start date: Sunday, January 2, 2011

It is going absolutely great so far!  It's such a great close to our day.  We read 3 verses each.  Then Luz gets to pick a couple of songs.  Then we kneel and pray as a family.

Book Review: Iacocca: An Autobiography by Lee Iacocca

My Rating: I really enjoyed reading this book (again) and would highly recommend it!
Appropriate for: Adults, Young adults
Lee Iacocca was President of both Ford and Chrysler companies.  Some of the book is about his life growing up and how he learned some important life lessons.  Other parts are about his work in the auto industry.  All in all, it's one of those books that makes you want to get off your butt and go to work.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Goodbye Torie

Our friend Torie passed away.  I will always remember how kind and thoughtful she was.  She suffered from a variety of illnesses and physical impairments, but whenever I talked to her she was always concerned about how I was doing.  She had a hard time getting around, but whenever we went to the grocery store together or to do any other errands, I always felt like she was the cheerful one who made my day better.  When Ezra was born, she made him a cute blanket...and another cute blanket for Luz also.

Juan introduced Torie to our family.  Right after Luz was born, he started working as a taxi driver.  Torie didn't drive (due to a seizure she once had) and frequently called for a taxi.  When she realized how close we live (2 blocks away), she started calling Juan directly and they became friends.  Soon he was not only driving her to the bank and the grocery store, but taking her to doctor appointments and other errands.  She had lots of doctor appointments.  During the year 2009 when I was working, Juan and Luz would often hang out with Torie while I was at work.  Luz adored her.  She adored Luz.  She became Luz' personal grandma up the street.  Every single time we drove or walked by Torie's house, Luz waved at Torie and Kory.  Luz often talked about Torie's owies and asked why she had so many.  We visited Torie at home, at the hospital, at the care center, and spent lots of time listening to her stories.  It always made me feel a bit sad to hear about how her life used to be and how active she was.  By the time we met her, she was already in constant pain.

This was the first time Luz attended a viewing and funeral.  Juan didn't want to take her, but I really felt like they were good friends and Luz needed to say goodbye.  We attended the viewing Wednesday night.  Luz seemed to take it all in and asked lots of questions.  The funeral was Thursday morning and it was nice to get to know her some more from the stories her sister and daughters told about her.  We will sure miss you Torie!

New Recipe: Nauvoo Potato Casserole/Funeral Potatoes (from Karene Dix)

My Rating:  Really great comfort food.  Takes longer to cook than my normal dishes though. :)
A dear friend of mine passed away and I signed up to help with food for the luncheon.  Sister Dix called and asked me if I would make funeral potatoes.  I said that I would, but because I have never made them before I would need a recipe.  She sent me this one.  I thought it was so yummy looking as I was making it in the morning that I decided to make another batch for dinner that night for us.  Obviously this is not healthy at all, but really great for some comfort food.  I served it with Mini Meatloaves, steamed broccoli, and a green salad.  I am not really into frozen potatoes, so I used the brand Simply Potatoes that are refrigerated.  The diced potatoes come with onion already.  I used 3 bags (the bags are smaller) for this recipe.  I also used one can cream of mushroom soup and one cream of chicken.  I used butter instead of margarine and actually did not mix any butter in with the cornflakes at the end.  I just sprinkled them on top.

Nauvoo Potato Casserole (or Funeral Potatoes)
2 bags frozen potatoes, diced or shredded, thawed
2 cans cream of chicken soup
¼ cup margarine, melted
1 pint sour cream
½ cup green or white onions, chopped
1 ½ cups grated cheese
3 cups cornflakes, crushed (topping)
Mix altogether in a large bowl, except the cornflakes. Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees covered with foil for 1 ¼ – 1 ½ hours.  Mix cornflakes with 2 Tbs. melted marg., sprinkle on top of baked casserole.
Note: If using 1 ½ lb. bags of potatoes, it will make one 9 x 13 dish. (more creamy)
If using 2 lb. bags of potatoes, it will make a 9 x 13 dish and an 8 x 8 dish. (Less creamy but good)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bye Tio! :(

Today Tio Samuel left for BYUI.  We are very sad that he won't be around to lull Ezra to sleep, make Swedish and German pancakes, play (purses/cars/blocks) with Luz, commiserate about car woes, and many other fun things we have done this fall.  Good luck this semester Tio!  We love you!  By the way, next time you see Ezra he'll be about 5 feet tall. :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam!

My baby went to Sunbeams for the first time today!  I can't believe it.  I am so proud of her.  Not that she had much choice in going, but she did have lots of choices in her behavior.  She did GREAT!  The leaders had all of the Sunbeams and their parents stay after in the chapel for a few minutes and then took the kids upstairs to sharing time.  I gave her a few minutes head-start and then I went up there to sit in Primary like I normally do.  At one point during sharing time, Sis. Elguera was showing different books and held up a cook book.  She asked the kids if they had one of those at home.  Luz turned around and asked me if we have one at home.  I nodded.  She was sitting next to her teacher and then touched his arm and said, "Yeah, my mom said I have one at home."  TOO CUTE!  Later, I was downstairs changing Ezra in the bathroom.  Her teacher brought her in to go and saw me.  I helped Luz go to the bathroom.  Well, on our way out she grabbed hands with the other 2 kids in her class (one on each side of her) and said, "Come on, friends.  Let's go to our class."  Such a cheerful, friendly Sunbeam!