Pet Poll

Nick and I keep discussing getting a pet. So far we know cats are out. Besides the fact that Nick hates cats, he and Emma are both allergic to them. We'd love to get a dog, but neither of us are ready for one at this point. We've talked about fish, but we wonder if the kids would get bored of them too quickly. Our latest thought has been a guinea pig. Ever since Ashlyn saw a rather shaggy one at the local pet store and insisted that it was a lion, I've wanted to get one. I owned a hedgehog before we had kids, so I do know a bit of what it would take to care for a guinea pig, but neither of us have ever had one. What's your opinion?


7 Shots!

We had well-check visits yesterday. Emma was not looking forward to it, but I told her she didn't need any shots this time. She went just fine after that. Once we got to the office though, I was told she needed 5 shots! The poor kid. I felt so bad that I'd promised her she wouldn't need any and then they stuck her 5 times. I told her we would get balloons afterward and that made everything better. She was especially excited for pretty bandaids. Ashlyn also had to get 2 shots. I didn't know who I felt worse for - Emma who knew what she was getting into and was dreading it or unsuspecting Ashlyn. They're troopers though. It's amazing what stickers and the promise of a balloon will do.

The pediatrician also told me that Ashlyn's eardrums are both extremely swollen. She's never fussed about them or acted up about going to bed at night. She had a low fever for a day over a week ago, but other than her recent outburst of horrible temper tantrums, she's been her normal, little self. We started her on an antibiotic and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that her extreme tantrums will settle down once it kicks in.

Both girls are growing well. Ashlyn is a healthy 26+" tall 33 lbs and Emma is 40" tall 41.5 lbs. It's amazing to me to see how big they are. I'm so grateful for healthy, busy kids. They keep me on my toes, but in the long run, I wouldn't have it any other way.


Cinnamon Streusel Orange Muffins

These muffins have become a family favorite. Everyone loves these. I like to substitute plain yogurt for the buttermilk and add just a touch more juice. It gives them a nice moist but hearty texture. They're a bit of work, but worth it. I use my medium cookie scoop to put the first and second rounds of batter in the muffin pan (my stoneware pan works great). Makes 12.

2 c flour
3/4 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c vegetable oil
1/2 c orange juice
1/2 c buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

3 T brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 T softened butter

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin, or line with paper liners.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together 2 c flour, 3/4 c white sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, orange juice, buttermilk, vanilla, and eggs. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix until just blended. Some lumps are okay.

3. Fill the prepared muffin cups halfway with the batter. Combine the brown sugar, and 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon; sprinkle about 1/2 tsp of the mixture onto each half-full muffin cup. Spoon batter over the cinnamon mixture so that the muffin cups are 2/3 full. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 1/4 c flour, 1/4 c white sugar, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and the butter to make a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle this generously over the tops of the muffin batter.

4. Bake for 20-22 minutes in the preheated over, until a toothpick inserted into the crown of the muffin comes out clean. Cool in the pan, over a wire rack.

Simple Spinach Lasagna

I've been wanting to try a spinach lasagna for a while, and this recipe is delicious.

1 T olive oil
1 10-0z package frozen chopped spinach
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 32-0z jar spaghetti sauce
2 c ricotta
8 oz mozzarella, shredded
1/4 c parmesan, grated
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 eggs
8 oz lasagna noodles, cooked

1. Preheat oven to 350 F

2. In a large pot over medium heat saute spinach, onion, oregano, basil, and garlic in the olive oil. Pout in spaghetti sauce; simmer 20 min. In a large bowl mix ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, parsley, salt, pepper, and eggs.

3. Place a small amount of sauce in bottom of a lasagna pan. Place a layer of noodles on sauce. Spread half of the cheese mixture on the noodles then cover with some sauce. Place another layer of noodles and cover with remaining cheese and half of remaining sauce. Layer with the final noodles and cover with remaining sauce. Top with mozzarella cheese.

4. Cover with foil and bake in preheated over for 55 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.


Happy Birthday Ashlyn!

Ashlyn's officially 2! In so many ways it doesn't seem like it could possibly have been two years since Ashlyn was born, but so much has happened since then I guess it must be true. Yesterday we went to the Pocatello zoo, got tacos at Taco Bell (one of Ashlyn's favorite places), ate dinner at the park, and finished the trip with ice cream cones from Arctic Circle. While Ashlyn's two-year-oldness kept trying to come out, we had a lot of fun spending a warm, sunny afternoon together. We'll be having a birthday party for her this weekend. Here is a video of the girls sharing ice cream and singing Happy Birthday. They're both getting big fast. I've also added some pictures of Ashlyn over the last two years.

8 weeks old and smiling like a pro!
5-6 months old in the mountains outside Pocatello.
1 year old and loves frozen peas.
~18 months old. What a silly grin.


Personal Progress

I have the fortunate opportunity to serve in the Young Women's Organization, and I've finally started doing the personal progress goals again. It's been over ten years since I was in YW myself, and these goals are a perfect refresher. It's making me miss seminary and religion courses, but it's helping me improve my gospel study, something I desperately needed. For most of the goals, I need to write my reaction to the goal in the journal. As this is my current journal, and likely the one that I'll keep up with, I've decided to write my experiences here. Nick helped me with the two goals I'm going to discuss here on our way home from Wyoming a couple of weeks ago. I loved his insight and especially that he was willing to share with me his view of the topics.

Faith #2 - This goal is based on mother's teaching faith to their children. When I think of all the things I want my girls to know, this is probably the most important aspect they need in their lives. Without faith, where are we? That said, it's rather daunting to think of how I can teach such faith to them. As Nick and I discussed this, we talked about how children learn through example. I need to give my girls a chance to see me demonstrate my faith. Honestly, there's plenty of room for improvement. I want them to know that I love my Savior and Father in Heaven. I want them to see my love for the scriptures and for our modern prophets and apostles. Mostly though, I want them to know I have faith in Christ by seeing my actions especially in regards to the way I treat them. They are such important people and I see such greatness in them. I need to show my love for my Savior through the ways I treat and interact with them. Hopefully by doing so, they will know of my faith.

Faith #5 - The Atonement. I am so grateful for the Atonement. What I experience when I allow the power of the Atonement to bless my life is such a perfect sense of love. I am so far from perfect. I have no hope of attaining exaltation by my own strength or knowledge. I need my Savior more than I can explain. I guess that all I can say is that I am so grateful for the Savior. I know that the power of the Atonement is real. It has played a powerful role in my life and continues to do so. The love my Savior has for me is incomprehensible, and I suppose I only come close to understanding it when I recognize the incredible love I have for Nick, Emma, and Ashlyn. Their pain is truly my pain and their joy is my joy, and I know that is how it is Christ. I try and will continue to try to live my life in such a way that I can always demonstrate my gratitude.

Wicked Cool Day

Last Thursday was one of those days worth remembering. (It's just taken me this long to post it.) For starters, Nick was able to stay home. I love having him around. He was going nonstop like always, but just having him around was so nice. Then my friend Laurie called. We use to get together all the time in Laramie, and I have missed having her around. I loved talking with her. It's so fun to catch up with friends. Then my sister in Alabama called. It's always fun to talk with her. Then, I got yet another phone call. My friend Tiffany called to let me know she got tickets to Wicked and had one for me! I'm so excited. I get to go to Wicked in Salt Lake City on May 1. I've been rather giddy about it since. To top it all off, my mom called right after. Nick was teasing me about how long I was on the phone, but I loved it. I got to talk with so many of my favorite people, and I get to go to Wicked!

That evening, Nick arranged for a babysitter and took me to Lava Hot Springs. I had never been to the actual hot springs, and they are certainly hot. It was so nice, and I enjoyed the aftereffects for the next couple of days. We hadn't been able to do anything Monday because of my class, so that was my birthday outing. Thanks Nick.


Happy Easter

We had a great Easter this year. The Easter Bunny left the girls a short treasure hunt to their baskets, and they loved the few items in their baskets. The Easter Bunny also left each of the girls their own picture of the temple. I've been wanting to get them one for ages. I'm glad that bunny is so brilliant. Here is one of the first pictures of both of the girls together smiling and looking at the camera. Hurray! I loved their dresses this year. It's fun to dress up little girls. (If you look closely you can see that we're in the process of redoing the walls. See the green paint that was lurking under our trim. Yikes!)

We took Emma to the park on Friday to finally ride her bike outside. She loved it and was an instant pro. Go Emma!


Books and More Books!

It's been a good weekend (mostly). I was able to go to Salt Lake via Mt. View Wyoming to go to a play called Phantom. It was a different twist on The Phantom of the Opera. While the characters were the same, the music and story were entirely different. It was alright, but I prefer the Broadway version. Once we made it back to Wyoming, it snowed and snowed. Nick and I and the girls got stuck on the interstate ~five miles from Nick's parents' house. But we're home, and Nick surprised me by wanting to invite people over for my birthday tomorrow. He doesn't really like playing host, but he knows I love having people over, so we had a house full for pie and ice cream. I loved it and he was great about it. Thank you everyone for coming. It made me feel special and loved.

Now to the books. According to a post on my friend's site, the BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

The ones I have read are in orange

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini (listed to part of it on tape, but the material was too disturbing for me)
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding (again I read half, but couldn't finish - it made me sick)
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
2 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime-Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery (I own it)
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I have read 30 of them and half of 2 more. There are several more that I would like to read. Apparently I really need to read Jane Austen. Where do you fall?