Thursday, September 29, 2011

Homestead Farms

I love Autumn for so many reasons, but one of them is definitely the apple/pumpkin farms in our area where you can pick your own apples and choose your own pumpkins.  Today we visited Homestead Farms in Maryland with Nash's preschool class. It was a wonderful day!





Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Union Jack Jeans

Nash is obsessed with all things British.  His fetish is so extreme that if we do not buy our gas at BP, he has a total meltdown.  So, when I saw these absolutely adorable Union Jack Jeans at Gap, I almost bought them, but I guess I was inspired not to.
Less, than 2 weeks later I find THIS amazing tutorial on how to make your very own.  Now Nash is one jolly little chap!


 


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Not Braggin' BUT-Best Apple Pie Recipe EVER!

Nash has been learning about apples in preschool and they even baked an apple pie in his last class.  Of course this prompted the question from both of the boys, "Mom, why don't you ever make pie?  You know really make pie, not buy it from the grocery store."  I tried to explain to them that I didn't need to make my own pies when Marie Calendar already did such a good job making pies for me, but they noticed our heaping fruit bowl of apples and so I relented. We decided to make an apple pie together, something I have actually never done. I don't mean to toot my own horn but I'm gonna toot. I am pretty sure that I perfected apple pie baking with just one attempt. First, I rounded up the simplest recipes I could find from the Internet, cookbooks, and grandma. Then came up with my own compilation.  Here is the recipe. Enjoy, it wasn't scary at all!

Crust:
1 Cup of Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 Cup Butter
1/4 Cup of Ice Water
Sift flour and salt together.  Rub small pieces of the cold butter into the flour mixture until pea sized balls form.  Add water a few tablespoons at a time.  Using a generously floured countertop and rolling pin roll into thin round pattie and place in your lightly sprayed pie pan.

Filling:
5 1/2 Cups of Apples cored, chopped, but not peeled
1 TBLS. Lemon Juice
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
3 TBLS. Flour
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
Combine ingredients and place on top of crust in pie pan.

Topping:
3/4 Cup Flour
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup Butter/Margarine at room temperature
With fork mix ingredients into crumbs and sprinkle over pie filling.
Bake at 375 for 50 minutes. Cool and top with whipped cream or ice cream.
Atley LOVED the pie and ate three slices before bed and one for breakfast.  He had the best soccer game of his life the next morning scoring 4 goals. Again don't want to pat my own back but I'm gonna pat-this pie might have magical powers.
Breaking News:  Nash didn't like it!  Surprise, Surprise, he doesn't like anything that doesn't come from McDonald's or Chick-fil-A.
Harley was sleeping during our baking time but she enjoyed a slice the next morning for breakfast. Once again, I don't mean to sing my own praises, but I'm gonna sing-the pie made her even cuter.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Water!

It has been raining here for a month with no end in sight.  It is discouragingly wet and moldy everywhere we look.  Plus it is bringing outdoor creatures inside.  We have a spider, ant, and cricket infestation that is about to kill me. The exterminator finally came today and hopefully he remedied the problem, but if it keeps raining I am doubtful. Check out this picture. Those little black spots are sugar ants next to our fireplace.
Although they are harmless any bug in a large quantity is nasty!
The soccer fields are muddy when they are open at all, keeping the boys on an emotional roller coaster of soccer dreams. School has even been cancelled because of flooding. I am honestly ready to build an ark.
Our attempts to close the pool for the winter have been fruitless since it is in constant need of draining from the inches and inches of rain falling.  Several of these attempts have resulted in Harley falling face first into the water.  Never fear, she holds her breath, keeps her eyes open, and it is really cute watching her swim underwater before she gets rescued. Although, the last fall into pool water hovering at a chilly 60 degrees, was less than a pleasant experience.  We made it up to her by letting her pass her time doing one of her very favorite things, back floating in the hot tub. Of course, it was raining and she had to keep her eyes closed during most of her relaxation time.

Monday, September 12, 2011

ZUMBA!!


I am the worst dancer in the history of the world. I make Bill Cosby look like Fred Astaire. As a little girl my parents put me in dance classes like most good parents do for their little girls. I was consistently the worst dancer on the stage. I can vividly remember wearing a yellow monstrosity covered in sequins and dancing to Michael Jackson's Beat It!  I looked into the crowd and saw terror in the eyes of the spectators. Although confused at the time I have come to understand why they were afraid. Sometimes my flailing spastic gyrations actually caused physical harm to the other dancers.  I was always two or ten beats behind the music. It was sad and must have been absolutely humiliating for my family. They tried their best to be positive but looking back they certainly didn't encourage a dance career.

When our Relief Society decided to learn how to ZUMBA for one of our activities back in May, I was prepared for further embarrassment and possibly injury.  BUT, it was so much fun.  I even managed to convince myself that the other ladies weren't laughing at my lack of coordination because they were too busy focusing on the instructor.  Just in case you don't know what ZUMBA is here is an explanation straight out of WIKEPEDIA.  Zumba is a Latin-inspired dance fitness program created by dancer and choreographer Alberto "Beto" Perez in Colombia during the 1990s. Zumba involves dance and aerobic elements. Zumba's choreography incorporates hip-hop, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts, and some Bollywood and belly dance moves. Squats and lunges are also included.
The class moves incredibly fast with little instruction. Essentially, a Latin blooded teacher with tons of rythym dances and you try to follow.  Our Zumba instructor kindly agreed to teach us for free every Saturday thoughout the summer. It was incredible. I hate working out but I actually had so much fun doing this exercise.  In a one hour Zumba class you can burn more than 1200 calories.  I will take that over running 6 miles any day. Alas, summer is over and with it went my free Zumba.  Then I found Zumba for the Wii. I was skeptical at first, but I ordered it anyway. It arrived Saturday and it was worth every penny.  If you want a great and fun workout in the privacy of your own home, you have to buy this game. It is AMAZING.  Since I got it I actually think I am turning LATINA. Watch out Shakira, these hips don't lie!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years Later

25 Most Powerful Photos
This morning I was watching Atley play with his New York City building blocks. As he played I watched him take one of his toy airplanes and fly it into one of the Twin Towers. My first reaction was to get really angry, but then I saw the pained expression on his face and the tears in his innocent eyes. First, I thought I should really keep this kid from watching the news, but more importantly I realized how the events of that day impacted all Americans even those yet to be born. Something was taken from each of us.
I was teaching geography to 9th graders in Heber City, Utah on September 11th. I was watching the Today Show as I prepared for my homeroom kids to arrive. I looked up from my lesson plans when I heard breaking news of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center. The news was still on when my students entered the classroom. They had only been in their seats for a few minutes, eyes anxiously glued to the TV, watching coverage of what we thought was a horrific plane crash. But then the second plane hit the second tower. Even at 15 years old, they knew that this was something much bigger than just a plane crash. A chubby boy named Jeff stood up and said, "Holy shit! I think we are under attack!" Jeff is now a teacher himself mostly working overseas and teaching kids English. The principal came over the intercom requesting that all students remain in homeroom. These 33 kids were with me most of the day as we watched the events unfold. I did my best to answer their questions and keep my composure, but it was tough. A girl named Robin had a father working in NYC that morning. They were unable to reach him on his cell phone and her mother eventually checked her out of school so that they could be together while waiting for news. My students decided to pray for her dad. He was fine. But, nothing would ever be the same. Those kids are now 25. I am in contact with a few of them and I know that several joined the military to fight for their country because of the events they watched with me that day.
My own children have been to Ground Zero. They have been to the Pentagon. There is a tangible mix of overwhelming emotions when you visit these places. A palpable reverence.  Even as young children, my usually rambunctious boys were somber. As a family we will never forget what happened that day, the terror, the pain, the disbelief, and most importantly the bravery of the first responders and the heroes on that plane in a Pennsylvania field. The way that America came together in such a remarkable way was unprecedented.  When my classroom of students and I heard that a third plane had hit the pentagon, I thought we were finished. I felt certain this would destroy us. I underestimated the American Spirit and I am so thankful that I did! 
God Bless America!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Busy Weekend

Grandpa and Grandma Butler came to visit Labor Day weekend and as usual we kept them busy or maybe they kept us busy, I am not sure which!  They flew in Friday evening and after a bite to eat in Alexandria we headed to the National Mall. First, stop the breathtaking Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
This monument is brand new, just opening at the end of August.  It is a must see for everyone visiting the area. Along our trek we discovered the FDR Memorial which might be the most underrated of all of D.C.'s landmarks.  The memorial is set in chronological order, beginning with FDR's first term in office in 1933, the height of the great depression, and moves through WWII and his last day's in office in 1945.  There are waterfalls and amazing statuary, plus lots of information about one of the most difficult times in American history. Visiting at night was also a fun experience. I am excited to see what I missed when I visit again in the daylight.


Saturday we went to Annapolis to visit the Naval Academy and the quaintness that is downtown Annapolis Maryland.  We only had one minor incident when Scott set off the alarms at the Alumni House and we were detained by MP's.  Scott's name is officially on record with the U.S. Navy. So much for Atley's appointment to the academy. The Naval Academy is very picturesque. Established in 1845 it is full of grand old buildings plus the Navy boys clad in those white uniforms bringing back happy memories of Tom Cruise in Top Gun were pretty picturesque too. 

Downtown Annapolis is a bustling waterfront town.  Watching the sailboats and the luxurious yachts is always lots of fun.

Of course we had to hurry back for the BYU game, where we squeaked out a victory. Sunday was all about church and perhaps the boys last dip in the pool this season. Monday we went to the Newseum.  This museum has only been open for a couple of years and unlike the Smithsonian Museums it comes with a price tag.  After visiting, I think it is well worth the admission.  It is full of history.  Afterall, news becomes our history. There are theatres, including a fun 4D film that the kids thought was a riot.  Part of the Berlin Wall is within the museum and the Death Towers from which soldiers were authorized to shoot and kill any trying to climb the walls.

There is an observatory at the top with great views of the city.

There are also lots of obscure objects and images.  You can stand next to life size versions of famous criminals like Al Capone or people like J. Edgar Hoover and see how you measure up.  The collection of Pulitzer Prize winning photographs will have you in tears after only a few glances.  By the way, this is the only museum I have ever been in with tissue boxes strategically placed throughout the exhibits. You can visit the rustic cabin/shack where the unibomber hid out in the woods.  You can even see the reason we have to take off  our shoes every time we fly on an airplane- the shoe bombers actual shoes.

This is the  ladder the kidnapper of the Lindburgh baby used to snatch the infant from his home and the electric chair they used to fry the jerk.
  There are touching memoirs of Hurricane Katrina and with the 10th anniversary of 9/11 looming the artifacts and first-hand accounts of that horrific day were truly heart-wrenching.  In the pictures below you can see one of the antennae that was on top of the first tower.  You can touch pieces of the pentagon rubble.  On display are parts of the engines of the American Airlines flight that hit the second tower.  There are walls and walls of newspaper headlines from the day after the attack, even the passports of the terrorists that were later recovered in the debris. 


As annoying as the media often is, I realized how truly blessed we are to enjoy freedom of speech and freedom of the press. I also realized how few countries enjoy this same privilege. Below is a picture I took of a world map present at the Newseum. Countries in green have free press, yellow are partly free, and red countries have no freedom of the press. In other words, in all but the green countries the government is controlling what its citizens can learn and write about the world around them.
Perhaps the best part of the day was when Atley and Nash were able to create their own news broadcasts.  Atley chose to report on Hurricane Katrina.  He read the teleprompter and I think he made an adorable weather man, kind of a super-skinny white version of Al Roker.  Nash, who can't read, wanted to do a sports broadcast about his favorite team the Washington Redskins, too bad they only had a Washington Wizards Green Screen. He totally winged his broadcast and we thought it was hilarious. Check out our budding journalists in the video links below! Make sure you turn off the blog music by hitting the pause button at the bottom of the blog so you can get the full effect of these compelling broadcasts.

video
video

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back to School Wreath & Nash


I saw a picture of a ruler wreath on this SITE and thought it was absolutely adorable. I tried to wing it when I made my own, but I probably should have followed her instructions, instead of just doing what I thought she did.  Anyway, I like it and if you want instructions visit the link above. 
In other news, Nash started preschool today and was very excited to be with his friends. Hopefully, his mischievous nature will not get him into too much trouble this year.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The 2nd Grader

Atley's First Day of 2nd Grade!
He was so proud of his Levi jacket.  He told me it made him feel like a 17 year old!
The boys waiting for the bus!
Harley blows Atley kisses goodbye!