Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Neat, Nostalgic, Nutritious, Nonstop NOVEMBER

 This has been quite the fun-filled month! My cute "decoration tree" shows that it's Thanksgiving!! The ornaments are much cuter than anything I could have made. I pretty much adore them. Anyway, in addition to this month being Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday season, Russ and I had an extra fun month because we took not ONE, but TWO trips together.

I will tell you about the trips after this turkey picture because blogger is being difficult :)

For my Primary lesson this month, we were talking about the way we could serve our families, and I decided to make a service turkey! It turned out pretty cute.

Our first trip was to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Russ went for a Housing conference. I tagged along, and we had a really great time. Russ served 4 months of his mission in Coeur d'Alene, and we actually found his old apartment! Grandma and Grandpa live just 30 minutes away in Spokane, so it was really nice to spend a day visiting with them in their cute new apartment, and I got to meet Russ's really nice cousin, Adam, and his wife. They were both really friendly and kind to me. I loved hanging out with them. Basically, while Russ was in meetings, I got to hang out with family!

Russ, Adam and motorcycle.
I also got to visit Great Grandma and Grandpa Bates. Great Grandma is 96 years old, but still really sharp!
One of Russ's favorite places to meet investigators. (Just kidding...but he did get really excited that this place was still around.)
Russ's first apartment on his mission.
The most massive dessert Russ and I weren't able to finish.
Our room was really nice. We loved the steps leading down to the balcony, overlooking the lake (or mostly, the parking garage)
Looking at our dessert (in the picture before) and wondering how in the world we would eat it all.
The view from our balcony.

When we got home, I came home to report card deadlines and Russ came home to a couple of messes his residents caused. One involved police and, well, freshman aren't always the smartest....especially in  groups....or late at night.

A week after our first trip, we braved the BLIZZARD to drive up to the Holden's for Thanksgiving. The drive really was scary for a while. It wasn't snowing that much, but the wind was blowing so hard that we could hardly see the car in front of us. Then when we got out of the storm, the roads were big sheets of ice. We've decided we'll probably fly to Boise from now on. Once we got there, however, we had a great trip. It was really relaxing, the food was great and the company was better! Thank you, Holdens, for letting us invade your home for Thanksgiving! We loved our time up there!

 Russ got a black eye playing "church ball" while we were in Boise. Apparently there is someone else out there tall enough to elbow 6'4" Russ in the eye.
Russ, Steve and Andrew went to their ward's turkey bowl (sorry - I cropped Andrew out because he was blinking. Probably better to have no picture than a blinking one). We were pretty surprised at how long they played, considering it was about 10 degrees that morning.
Last year when we were in Boise, we went to their Festival of Trees, and we went again this year. It is really fun to see all the trees. This "Hungry Catterpillar" one was my favorite.

Britney and I made a pretty incredible turkey again. I think we've got the process down to a science now. I actually really like to cook Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls.....mmmm. Here are my annual turkey prepping pictures (I guess I didn't take one last year):
2006 - Acting Natural
2007 - Just Chillin with my Headless Friend

2008 - Meditation
2010 - My Beautiful Baby! (This turkey was too heavy to hold in some funny pose)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Showing Off

Here are a couple cool things I wanted to show off:

First, the INCREDIBLE (according to me) Halloween blocks I designed and made. I can't take all the credit because my friend, Michele, gave me the idea to do it and helped me find the paper and had most of the supplies I used. I especially love the glittery black paper for the letters!
Russ says it looks like "B Q O". What do you think?
Second, the firemen came to kindergarten to teach us about fire safety! It was the dad of a student in my class, but he brought the whole crew. We got to go inside of an ambulance and firetruck, they gave a great presentation, and even dressed me up in all the gear. I pretended to be embarrassed, but was secretly having a great time.
The kids thought this was pretty hilarious

Third, a cool thing our PTA did to kick off Red Ribbon Week was have each student in the school let go of a red balloon with a sticker on it saying, "I pledge to be Drug Free". They also had a hot air balloon launch from our school field. It was really a unique and breathtaking sight.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I Learned Something New!

While cooking dinner today, I learned this:

Noun1.garlic clovegarlic clove - one of the small bulblets that can be split off of the axis of a larger garlic bulb

This would have been good to know BEFORE chopping up the entire garlic bulb into my 2 cups of rice. :) Oh well - now I know!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cafe Rio At Home

I love Cafe Rio. I love it even more after making it at home. It was a LOT of work, and honestly probably not QUITE as satisfying as the real thing, but it was still totally worth it. I made the sweet pork burritos with pinto beans. I was stuffed after 1, but Russ had 2 - so they must have been okay. I certainly can't take credit for the recipe. I found it at this blog, but then made some of my own alterations. Here are pictures and recipes.

1 LARGE tortilla shell (we got raw ones and cooked them on the stove)
1 large scoop cilantro lime-rice
1 large scoop pinto beans
1 large scoop sweet pork
Shredded Mexican cheese
Green Enchilada Sauce (we used mild from a can)

We served it with a romaine lettuce salad, but we just used ranch dressing - you can find recipes for the cafe rio dressing, but it was even more work :) 

Russ was modeling the assembly :)
Sweet Pork
2 pounds pork
3 cans Coke or Dr. Pepper (NOT diet)
1/4 cup brown sugar
Dash garlic salt
1/4 cup water
1 can diced green chilis
3/4 can red enchilada sauce
1 cup brown sugar

Put pork in a heavy duty zip-lock bag to marinate. Add about a can and a half of Dr. Pepper and about 1/4 cup brown sugar. Marinate overnight in the fridge.

Drain marinade and put pork, 1/2 can of Dr Pepper, 1/4 cup water, and garlic salt in crock pot on high for 3-4 hours. Remove prok from crock pot and drain liquid. Shred pork with a fork.

In a blender, mix 1/2 can Dr Pepper, chilis, enchilada sauce, and 1 cup brown sugar.  Put shredded pork and blended sauce in crock pot and cook on low for 2 hours.

Lime Rice
1 cup uncooked long-grained white rice
1 tsp butter
1 gloves garlic, minced
1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 - 15oz can chicken broth
1 cup water
1 Tbl lime juice
3 Tbl fresh cilantro

I just threw the first 6 ingredients in the rice cooker. When it was cooked, I  squeezed the rest of the lime on top and added the cilantro.

Pinto Beans
2 cups dry pinto beans
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
4 cups water
1/4 cup salt
2 Tbl pepper
 Wash the beans and soak them for at least 4 hours. Drain and put into crock pot with the spices and water. Cook on high for 5 hours until beans are tender. Make sure the beans stay covered - I had to add more water while it was cooking. (One thing I didn't think about is that the beans EXPANDED in the crock pot. I did 4 cups of beans and my little crock pot was overflowing. Also, making the pinto beans is TONS of work, but they are really tasty!)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

One of these days, I'll stop posting so often, but not today because it's my mom's birthday and I want everyone to know how awesome she is. :)

I love you, Mom!
Happy Birthday! 
She's my "sainted mother who gave me life" - as she sometimes reminds me.

She read my siblings and I before bedtime, even when we were in High School :)

She made my breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day I lived at home.

She loves me.

She had to get the PERFECT picture, even if that meant we'd take 50...or 500

She so talented. She made my "Three White Dresses" - blessing, baptism, sealing
I NEVER doubted that she cared about me. She was so involved with our schooling and extracurricular activities.

She took us - mostly against our will - on trips she knew we'd appreciate later in life (and we do).

Every year for our birthdays and Easter, she sewed me a new dress (and apparently Christmas on this year) :)

She taught me to play the piano
She is extremely creative. She can make ANYTHING.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Two days down. I can hardly believe it. The day in kindergarten is SO SHORT. I feel very blessed to be half day though because even 3 hours is tiring, and I can't imagine doing it twice a day. I have 29 adorable kids. Kindergarten is great because I spent the first week of school doing one-on-one assessments so I met the kids, got a sense of where they are, AND met their parents. So when I went to pick them up yesterday for the first time, I was able to greet maybe 20 of them by name. I didn't even have any criers! The parents are GREAT, so helpful and giving. I also have a fantastic aid, so 29 really doesn't seem that overwhelming. I was worried about a couple, but I really feel that once they get the hang of school, they'll be awesome.

I also love Sego Lily. It's a bit of a drive, lots of gas (I miss my carpool from last year), but the staff is excellent - so friendly and helpful. Russ noted that I seem a lot more confident going into it this year, and I really credit the other teachers and principal at my school for that. I also feel empowered by being a "second year teacher" since I think a few parents were worried that I am so young.

Cutest quotes from the first two days:
Me: "How old are you?"
Student: "One whole hand!" (aka 5)

(While reading a book to the class) 
Student: I REALLY like you. 
Other students chiming in: Me too!

The hardest things I've found so far are:
  1. They get super hungry, tired, thirsty - even though school is a little less than 3 hours. 
  2. We've been working on raising our hand, so I'm sure to call on people when they do, except when they say something totally random, half the class yells out their own story (example... While talking about the letter M, a student raises his hand and says, "We are probably going camping on my brother's birthday" .... 20 kids at once shout out "I've been camping" or "My dad is taking me camping today!" or "I love going camping", etc) 
  3. With first grade, walking in a line took practice. In kindergarten, we are just working on the concept of what a line IS! It's so hilarious. They start in a line, but all just bunch up to be the first one through the door when we get somewhere. 

Now about my classroom. I added it up and think I spent at least 80 hours there (in the month after I got hired) getting ready. It was so dusty, dirty, overrun with clutter that I even convinced my mom to fly out and help me. I'm so glad she did or it wouldn't have gotten done. I also had help from Bonnie and Tyler and Russ. Just to give you a sense of the room - there was not a single horizontal surface that wasn't covered, we found posters and other books from the 1970's and we took 2 carloads to DI. So with that in mind, here are the pictures of the finished product:

FIRST DAY (Russ was playing with the camera) :)
The view from the door
These next few pictures just go around the room
Their tables and chairs are so little!
The classroom is seriously at least 2.5x BIGGER than my apartment!
Those black storage bins took me FOREVER to organize, but they look GREAT now
This is my reading corner that will one day have a little "Lion's Den" cave which Russ will build me :)
My favorite part of this picture are the 0-10 cards I made.
Calendar bulletin board and more organized shelves