Thursday, August 28, 2014

First Day of Kindergarten

So excited, first kid to class!

A picture of his favorite food for his "All About Me" book.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Cheap DIY Scrimmage Vests for Soccer

I coach my daughter's rec soccer team.  We have a super short season and I'm a volunteer, but I find myself constantly wishing I had scrimmage vests at soccer practice.  Every time we scrimmage the girls get really confused about who is on what team and I have a hard time coaching because I can't tell either.

We only have a handful of practices and scrimmage time is pretty short, so if I'm gonna have scrimmage vests they need to be practically free, not $5-6 dollars each!!!

I usually have 13-14 girls on a team and the most I've ever had at a practice is 13, so I figure 6 scrimmage vests should cover it.  I bought 3 mesh laundry bags at Dollar Tree.  Cut them in half and cut arm and neck holes.  I sewed anywhere that that came unraveled from cutting and voila, 6 scrimmage vests.  3 even have fancy drawstring hems.  This takes almost no time at all.  Love it.

You do have to sew a seam on the second vest, sorry about the sewing:(

neck 9 inches (perhaps a smaller neck for younger kids than 5th/6th grade)
arms 8 inches

no hemming, just fast and easy, lets go play!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Why I love New Mexico (besides the fact that they have the coolest state flag)

To my oldest daughter,

First, it is easy to research a state and not be too impressed even when you should be: 

  When you research a state or country or culture or car or anything you need to find out not just facts, but the right facts, the most important facts, the things about a place that really matter to the average person.  Anyway, I think that is why I’ve taken such an interest in the New Mexico report.  I loved living in New Mexico and I want you to not only know about New Mexico, but to be proud of it as it is definitely a stand-out, unique state.  There is no other state that is like it.  I want you to be able to talk about it in a way that makes the younger kids want to pick New Mexico for their state when they are in fifth grade or wish they were born there.  So what is it about New Mexico that matters to almost everyone?  Well food is a big one.  New Mexican food is different than anywhere else in the world, it centers around chili, especially roasted green chili.  You can get green chili on anything there, it is an option on every menu in every restaurant, for breakfast lunch and dinner.  If you get invited to dinner or a potluck, half the dishes have green chili.  I didn’t think I liked green chili when I lived there, but I did absolutely love the smell of green chili roasting outside the grocery stores in the fall.  Everyone loves that smell in New Mexico.  When someone says New Mexico, I salivate, no kidding.  When we drive through New Mexico, visions of green chili food items dance through my head.  Yes, I thought I didn’t like green chili, but I was wrong, somewhere along the line I developed a taste for it and I would eat it in a house with a mouse or on a train in the rain, or here or there, or anywhere!  Actually in new mexico you always get a choice between green chili and red chili and if you can’t decide you just order “Christmas” (red and green) I usually order red if there is a choice, but I love both and that’s why you have to eat it three meals a day.  I asked the missionaries if they got green chili at the members houses and they said “yes, almost every night!”  I know at ward potlucks 50% of the fare usually had chili in it.

Okay the next thing I think of is that New Mexico is an artisan state.  There are states with artists in them, certainly New York and California, but its nothing like New Mexico.  There is this unique New Mexican art and it is everywhere.  If you’re looking for something to do, you are going to end up in an art gallery before too long because they are everywhere and that is what they do in New Mexico.  If you go to the state fair, there are not so many rabbits and chickens.  No, rather it is huge art displays from local artists on all different levels of skill that go on and on, painting, jewelry, weaving, metal work, ceramic…and the entertainment is all this amazing dance from the pueblos with beautiful ornate costumes.  The atmosphere is so different from the State fairs I’m used to for Utah, Oklahoma, and Idaho.  I think the state nickname “Land of Enchantment” fits perfectly because the art there has an enchanting type of quality.  It has its own genre for sure.  When I moved I thought the nickname referred to the landscape, but now I know that it is definitely the state culture that is enchanting.  It has that mystical native American quality.  I love it.  Another enchanting thing is the luminarios at Christmas.  It is a southwest thing, it is painstaking to lay out each little candle in its brown paper bag one after another until you’ve surrounded a whole building and light them, but the end effect is so beautiful and …enchanting.  In recent years electric luminarias have become popular and I’ve seen them around here, but electric luminarias aren’t enchanting, neither are milk jug luminarias.  They are cool, but the old fashion luminarias are way better.  Old Town Albuquerque does a huge luminaria festival every Christmas.  Google it sometime for pictures, it is fantastic.  I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just my own opinion that New Mexico was the most artistic state in the country so I googled “states with most artists” and the first hit was an article by an online journal, The Atlantic Cities, titled “the most artistic cities in America.  Guess what city ranked #1?  Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Yep, any true art lover ought to plan a trip to New Mexico some day.

Another thing people ought to always remember about New Mexico are the balloons.  Albuquerque is the hot air balloon capitol of the world because of a unique weather pattern that often allows balloonists to start a balloon trip flying one direction and then use air currents at a different altitude to go back the direction they came from.  Lot’s of places have balloon festivals, but every day was a balloon festival in Albuquerque and it just never got old.  I loved watching them dot the sky every single day of the year and it always seemed magical when one landed in your backyard (I usually don’t like strangers in my backyard, but if they are in a balloon all is forgiven.)  Mid October is the major balloon festival, it is crazy busy in Albuquerque that time of year.

Few outsiders realize Albuquerque, New Mexico is a high altitude city.  It has a beautiful mountain range running parallel to the city just like the Wasatch front in Utah, because it is farther south however, the weather is more mild than Utah.  People always assume New Mexico is hot because it is a desert state, but not completely so. Much of the state is mountainous and very high altitude including the two big cities Albuquerque and Santa Fe.  Albuquerque is hot but not too hot in the summer and cold but not too cold in the winter and the snow doesn’t stick!

Don’t forget New Mexico is the home of the National Boy Scout Ranch, Philmont.  The ultimate destination for scouters in the U.S.  I personally spent one of the happiest weeks of my life there.  It was amazing!  The backcountry was beautiful and can I say it again, enchanting!

I always forget the UFO folklore for New Mexico, because I never made it to Roswell, but that is HUGE!!!  Who isn’t just a little bit interested in UFO stories?  What adult has never watched at least one episode of X-files?  Its like the Loch Ness monster.  If you want to hear great myths and legends…or is it truth?  New Mexico is the state.  Proud location of Area 51!  If UFO’s don’t excite you there is always the Trinity nuclear test site, the location of the world’s first nuclear detonation.  The explosion produced the power of about 20 kilotons of TNT!  I wouldn’t say New Mexico is proud of its nuclear weapon development history although they did name their Triple-A baseball “The Isotopes” after an episode of The Simpson’s poked fun at the infamy of being the home of nuclear weapons.  New Mexica doesn't have any profession sports teams, so the Isotopes is the big professional team there.  Let me say again nuclear weapons is not a pride thing, but Los Alamos Lab of National Security Science is a huge employer and has a big mysterious presence to contribute to the state just like the UFO’s.

One final thing that will never make headlines, but that I can’t be happy enough about was that New Mexico was one of the most progressive states for midwives.  They have a terrible health system and doctors don’t want to practice there, so to meet demands, there are many certified nurse midwives instead and they are given more freedom to practice as they see fit.  Some of the most pre-eminent Nurse Midwife educators in the country are from New Mexico.  When I was first pregnant, I wanted to have a gentle natural birth in a hospital and when I started researching I noticed that California and New Mexico were about the only states where certified nurse midwives had general acceptance.  Much has changed in the last 13 years, but I was so grateful back then to find out that I was living in the right place for a natural birth.  I’ve heard all kinds of horror stories about people trying to have a natural birth in hospitals, but in Albuquerque they subsidized doula services so everyone could have one for almost nothing.  They WANT you to have a gentle natural birth if at all possible and they help you!  Also, they taught natural childbirth in the hospital birthing classes practically for free, which is UNHEARD of.  My prenatal care was exceptional, I’ve never heard of anything like it anywhere else.  When I moved back to Utah I remember the headline on the front page of the paper the day I got there was about how Utah had the highest C-section rate in the country, Ugh!  I found one office with midwives 30 minutes away, but they were under the direction of a doctor who knew nothing about midwifery and restricted their ability to promote safe natural birth with crazy rules and regulations.  Anyway, New Mexican midwives paved the way for certified nurse midwives nation-wide to gain acceptance.  I don’t know about other states, but the certified nurse midwives in Utah that no one had heard of seven years ago are soooooo busy now they simply can’t keep up with demand, their waiting rooms are over-flowing and they can't graduate new ones fast enough.  The public perception of midwives is rapidly changing.  Thanks to New Mexico (and small pockets of midwives in California).

Finally, for your report you had to choose a famous New Mexican and it was a bit hard to find one that had actually been born in the state.  You were afraid you'd have to dress up as an Alien or Smoky the Bear.  I kept trying to help by googling lists of famous persons born in New Mexico and it seemed like Demi Moore and John Denver were it, but you hadn't heard of either of them and neither of them seemed very New Mexican.  Then I started looking at lists of famous artists and came across Maria Martinez.  I knew since you love art and you've been spending a lot of time with modeling clay you would love learning about her.  She totally exemplified the entire spirit of the state because she changed the world with her art and she was a Native New Mexican born on a pueblo.  Maria's ceramic work changed the way ceramics were percieved world-wide.

"Learning to make pots as a child from her aunt, Tia Nicolasa, and beginning with clay dishes she made for her playhouse, Maria was known as a potter among her peers.  In 1908, Dr. Edgar Hewett,  New Mexico archaeologist and director of the Laboratory of Anthropology in Santa Fe, had excavated some 17th century black pottery shards  and, seeking to revive this type of pottery, Hewett was led to Maria. Through trial and error, Maria rediscovered the art of making black pottery. She found that smothering a cool fire with dried cow manure trapped the smoke, and that by using a special type of paint on top of a burnished surface, in combination with trapping the smoke and the low temperature of the fire resulted in turning a red-clay-pot black."  Brilliant discovery.

Maria and her husband created a significant demand for pottery as fine art where there hadn’t been one before.  She taught the technique to many of her grandchildren and people in her pueblo and gave them a skill that ultimately gave them more work, income, and prestige.  Yes people had bought ceramic dishes before, but her pottery was so eye-catching and glamorous that people wanted to put it on display and decorate with it.  She was invited to the White house four times, she received honorary doctorates from the University of Colorado and the University of New Mexico which are prestigious awards given by universities to persons who have made invaluable contributions to their area of expertise and society at large, she was also awarded a medal by the French Government for her contributions to the world of art, she was given her own display in a Smithsonian museum, and given the privelege of laying the cornerstone at the New York Rockefeller center. 

New Mexico is so unique and worth exploring.  Especially for anyone who loves chili, fine art, scouting, or is enchanted by hot air balloons, aliens, and nuclear weapons.  Thanks for giving me a chance to revisit my New Mexico Years!  Have fun at your State Fair on Friday.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Soccer Cheers

Soccer season is upon us, so here is a little fun for soccer moms everywhere.  First grade girls team and a fifth/sixth grade girls team.

Easy Cheer
Go (start soft and get louder) Larks!

Cupcakes Cheer
Cupcakes, candy, yum, yum, yum!
We love soccer, run, run, run!
Go Larks!

Cookie Cheer
Fluffy Cookies, squishy crackers
We all really love soccer!

Silly sound Cheer
l-d-r-l-d-r-l-d-r-l-d-r-l-d-r-l-d-r-, huh! (sound made by sticking tongue in and out)

our favorite:
Dogs Cheer
Who let the Larks out?
Tweet  TweetTweetTweet. Tweet TweetTweetTweet!

Older girls, less is more:

Lets go Burn

Burn it up

Gooooo Burn

Hot, hot, hot! tsssss!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Crock Pot Pollo Verde (tomatillo recipe)

I thought I lost this recipe last year and about had a heart attack since it is so sentimental to me.  I googled and googled and couldn't find anything even close to it.  It was such a relief to finally find it several months later.  It is perhaps my favorite souvenir from the six years we lived in Albuquerque.  I was introduced to Polle Verde at a potluck and feared that it was some terribly spicy green chile dish.  Not so, it is not spicy, just very savory and yummy.  It was a completely new flavor to me and I was instantly in love.  I make it several times a year and it makes the house smell soooo good.  Confession, my kids have never even tried this dish and for once me and my husband don't even care, we are always very happy to have their share and make them something else.  Is that bad?  I modified this recipe a bit to make it easier and yummier, so if you want to plant tomatillos in your garden this year, here is a delicious and easy recipe to use them all up with!

Pollo Verde          4 servings
~inspired by Micky Porter

1 lb chicken thighs, more or less (I prefer skinless)
1 medium onion, chopped or several Tbs dehydrated onion flakes
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon slat
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons salsa
1-2 Tbs natural peanut butter
10 tomatillos cut in fourths (if they are very small tomatillos you may want to use more)
4 servings mashed potatoes.

Add all ingredients to crockpot cook 2 3/4 hours on Hi or 5 1/2 hours on Low.  Stir the sauce and break up chicken a bit with a fork before serving.  Serve over mashed potatoes.  Corn makes a good vegetable with this meal as well.  Crockpot times might vary, but these are the times that work for me.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Graham Cracker House, Train, Castle, and Boat Patterns

I learned to do gingerbread houses this way from the kindergarten teachers.  I asked how two teachers could supervise so many houses at once with such small children.  They said the trick was to pre-cut the houses and "hot sugar" (see directions below) them together in advance, assembly line fashion, with two adults, no kids in sight!  The hot sugar has no dry time and is very stable, so it goes FAST.  Then at the party, each student gets their own bag of royal icing, a pre-made house, and a bowl of candy.  The original pattern is the first one listed here, it is the easiest to mass produce and a great size and shape.  Here is a post with lots of pictures of how they turn out.mother daughter "gingerbread" house party.

Now, about the other patterns, we used Keebler brand graham crackers which are scored this direction, some brands are scored a different direction, but it shouldn't matter at all.  I cut them very, very carefully with a steak knife (serrated).  If a piece breaks and you are short on crackers, you can glue it back together with burnt sugar (or perhaps royal icing.)  My castle door broke about six times, but it was fine in the end and can be covered with candy if it bothers you.  You can click on the photos to see full size photos.  Also remember when gluing/hot sugaring pieces together to put the right side of the graham crackers facing out, it looks better than having the back of the graham cracker showing.  

 This is the castle

Fishing boat

Train, note how candy inbetween the curved engine graham pieces fills out the train engine shape.

This was the "Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe"

Directions for houses: 

To assemble houses, use hot sugar.  Melt about 1 cup of white sugar in a frying pan on medium heat stirring constantly.  Then adjust heat to medium low.

Hot sugaring is dangerous, like hot glue, its very, very, very easy to get burned!

The points on the sloped cracker can be cut using scissors if you start cutting at the point, they aren't perfect, but it is fast.  A stake knife cuts the points really well too, but is slower.
Its nice to have two people when hot sugaring the houses together.  Then you can come up with a good system for assembling.  
(We dipped both ends of both side walls at the same time.  Then, we set them on the front wall while the second person attached the back wall.  Once the four side walls were connected, we dipped the top of the house in the sugar and then added the roof pieces.  

Royal Icing ( you can have several people each bring a batch of icing instead of making it all yourself)
3 egg whites
1 pkg powdered sugar (4 cups)
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy in small bowl.  Slowly beat in confectioners' sugar until frosting stands in firm peaks and is stiff enough to hold a sharp line when cut through with knife. Keep bowl covered with damp paper towel while working to keep frosting from drying out.  Store leftover frosting in tightly covered container or ziploc in refrigerator up to three days.  
freezer bags work best for icing, regular bags tend to tear.

Plan about 3-4 houses per batch of icing.

Foil covered cardboard squares we used 7x11 my daughter's school asked them to bring 12x12 squares, whatever you like.  Cut cardboard with an exacto knife or ask each family to bring their own boards.

Suggested Candy:
mini m&m's
red hots
santas and snowmen candies
gum drops
tiny tarts
hat tamales
Mike and Ikes
chocolate chips
cold cereal
anything that makes good repeating patterns

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The White Stocking

Most of you have heard about a white stocking christmas tradition in one form or the other.   I recieved a story about it one year and liked the idea, but the poem was badly written and confusing (my friend didn't write it, so no offense intended there, it was a great thought.)  I sat down and thought it should go another way, in a few minutes I had written this poem.  I think it was inspired to help my family with a goal-setting tradition.  It has been ten years since I wrote this and we have nine years of wonderful gifts all still stuffed in the original white stocking (we took one crazy year off, because no one is perfect!)

The White Stocking
by Regina Slaugh

There were packages wrapped for the young and the old
Each stocking was filled and the Christmas story told.
Every child would be happy, no grown-ups were slighted,
Each soul was remembered and we were delighted.

But when the first rays of Christmas were dawning
The littlest child discovered the stocking.
Oh we were surprised, now where had in come from?
And where had it been when the others were hung?

While we were remembered with presents aplenty,
The little white stocking was hanging there empty.
In all of our efforts to love and remember,
Who had we missed for a gift this December?

Remember on Christmas we honor the birth
Of our Savior divine and his life on this earth?
Well this stocking so white with simple gold trim,
Started each of us thinking of giving to Him.

So then all at once we began to explain,
That surely this stocking had a meaning quite plain
We should include in our holiday giving
A gift to the Savior, the King of all Living.

Now each Christmas Eve we all gather together
And write down our gifts to Him on some paper
Next into the stocking our papers will go
Goals to help faith and obedience grow.

We try to remember the gift that we’ve given
And make it a part of our everyday living.
Then our gift to the Savior will last all year through,
Until next Christmas Eve, when we write something new.

“In conclusion, the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!”

Neal A. Maxwell, “Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father,” Ensign, Nov. 1995
P.S. we have learned about making age appropriate "gifts" the adults usually choose a year long goal and the kids choose a goal that lasts as many weeks as they are old...