Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Tree Hunting 2011

This year we almost didn't go Christmas tree hunting. Our house feels smaller and smaller and we hesitated about getting anything else to take up space. But I'm really glad we decided to go. We went with Leif's parents as usual and his dad led the way as usual.

Well, this year we ended up weaving into the hills of the Kaibab mountain and it took a while to find a spot that didn't have too much burn out from forest fires. This lengthy drive could have been miserable. But we were very blessed and the kids stayed happy and content. Leif and I did something that we don't do enough. We sang together for the children. We sang all of the Christmas carols that we could think of. It was extra special when Jakob joined in with the songs he knew. Otherwise the kids just sat back and took in the moment and the Spirit that was with us. One of those truly special moments as a family.

Eventually we found a spot with some trees that might work. That was after the boys and I got to ride in the back of the truck while Leif followed in our car. We had gotten all of the snow gear on and I didn't want to stuff everyone back in their car seats just for a little ride up the road. Jakob and I sang Jingle Bells on this little trip and I was able to explain to him the story that the song told. He thought it was neat that we were "dashing through the snow" just like the song says. Caleb loved pointing out the tall trees and at one point he was helping me count them. JJ sat in the cab of the truck with Grandma and Grandpa.

Upon our arrival to our hunting spot we piled out of our vehicles and started walking through the beautiful forest. There was snow on the ground and a bright blue sky. We hiked through the snow covered hills and before we knew it we had found the trees we were looking for. The hike out there wasn't a big deal. Grandma helped Caleb. Leif carried JJ, and the rest of us walked. Well, the hike back wasn't as easy. I didn't bring the carry pack on the hike (I left it in the car.) We had hiked further then we realized. But you do what you have to do when you're in this kind of situation. Grandma took Caleb again (who now insisted on being carried.) I tied my scarf into a makeshift sling and carried JJ. Leif carried one tree and Mark carried the other. Jakob carried himself and he may have been the loudest grumbler out of the bunch;) We hiked up a hill and made it back to our cars though and we all lived to tell about it.

The final adventure of the afternoon came as we were driving out of the canyon, right at the last bend. The snow had piled up on this particular hill and though both vehicles had both picked up speed to get through the snow the truck started to get stuck and we had to stop. Fortunately the truck got out. Our little car didn't. I really didn't want to get stuck. But it was actually kind of fun trying to work together and I was blessed with more strength then I thought I had. And the children stayed quiet and understanding. The funniest moment was when Mark climbed in our little Ford Focus with the little boys and backed it way up. He then came back around the bend at top speed racing with the boys hoping to break through the deep snow. He didn't quite make it through the snow but we all got a great laugh out of the attempt. Just as we were trying to put traction down on the road (bark, limbs, etc) a large 4X4 truck came up the road and promptly pulled us right out without a second thought. A true blessing!

We wound ourselves down the mountain toward home to the sound of the little boys first and ongoing   expressions of discomfort and hunger. I didn't mind them at the moment because I knew we were on our way home. I was just grateful they waited this long to breakdown.

We arrived home with two really nice trees, a few sunburned faces, and several great stories. We all went in the house and dished us up yet another plate of Thanksgiving leftovers. Great memories with a great family. We are Truly Blessed!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tom the Turkey Stole the Show This Year! - Pit Roasting a 36 Pound Turkey!

I have mentioned in previous posts that we raised a turkey especially for Thanksgiving this year. Well, he grew up and we prepped him for our Thanksgiving feast. WOW! Was he Big!!

He wouldn't fit in our oven. So we dug a deep pit outside and lined it with bricks. In the meantime, I pulled the turkey out of the fridge (it took up a full shelf) and I put him in my MIL's bathtub, filled it with water, and poured in about 12+ cups of salt. There was actually the top inch of the turkey that didn't get covered in water. So I poured a bag of ice over it to keep it cold. After a few hours in the tub I seasoned and stuffed the turkey with spices, fruits, veggies, chicken broth and ginger ale. Then we wrapped the turkey in about four layers of tin foil. We then wrapped it in chicken wire.

Going back to the pit: In order to heat the bricks up we started a fire the night before Thanksgiving and kept it burning through the night. Leif and his mom took shifts to keep the wood on the fire. At around 7:00A Leif and I went down to put the turkey in the pit. We moved the coals to the side, lowered the turkey into the pit breast down, threw a wet sheet over it, covered that with coals (next time I would use burlap because the sheet held a lot of water and put some of the coals out that could have been useful for the top of the turkey), and then we buried the turkey with the dirt that we had dug out to make the pit. He cooked in there for 6 hours.

While he was cooking we cooked and baked all of the other yummy fixins' for the dinner. I ended up making three really yummy pies. I made a German chocolate, a pumpkin, and a pumpkin cream cheese. I used one of the pumpkins we grew in our garden for the pies. They go a long way. And, MMM! Yummy! I made an amazing sweet potato casserole thanks to a recipe my sister sent me. There was so much good food. More food then we could fit on our plates. We've eaten leftovers for lunch and dinner the whole weekend. It's been Awesome!

So going back to the turkey. We pulled him out of the ground an hour before dinner was scheduled. We put in the thermometer on the back (top) and it wasn't cooked all the way (Bummer!) However, we turned him over and the breast that had been directly on the bricks was finished. So we cut that off and served it for dinner and then put the rest in the oven to finish cooking. It turned out great and we have enough meat to feed us through the winter (for real!)

We had a really nice time visiting with family throughout the afternoon and evening. We've enjoyed sharing meals and adventures together throughout the weekend as well. We went Christmas tree hunting. But that's a story for a different post.

We experienced a fun homestead style Thanksgiving this year and it was a lot of fun! The best part was sharing the fun with the family for sure!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Great Laugh to Start Your Day!


After I retired, my wife insisted that I accompany her on
 her trips to Target.

Unfortunately, like most men, I found shopping boring and
preferred to get in and get out. Equally unfortunate, my wife is
like most women - she loves to browse.

Yesterday my dear wife received the following letter from
the local Target:

Dear Mrs. Clifton:

Over the past six months, your husband has caused quite a
 commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior, and have been
 forced to ban both of you from the store. Our complaints against
 your husband, Mr. Clifton, are listed below and are documented by
 our video surveillance cameras:

1. June 15: He took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put
 them in other people's carts when they weren't looking.

2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in housewares to go off at
 5-minute intervals.

3. July 7: He made a trail from a jar of brown gravy on the
 floor leading to both the ladies' and men's restrooms.

4. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an
 official voice, "Code 3 in Housewares. Get on it right away." This caused
 the employee to leave her assigned station and receive a reprimand from
 her  supervisor, that in turn resulted with a union grievance, causing
 management to lose time and costing the company money.
5. August 4: Went to the service desk and tried to put a bag of
 M&Ms on layaway.

 6. August 14: Moved a "CAUTION - WET FLOOR" sign to a
 carpeted area.

7. August 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and
 told the children shoppers he'd invite them in if they would bring
 pillows and blankets from the bedding department, to which twenty
 children obliged.

8. August 23: When a clerk asked if they could help him
 he began crying and screamed, "Why can't you people just leave me
 alone?" EMTs were called.

9.. September 4: Looked right into the security camera
 and used it as a mirror while he picked his nose.

10. September 10: While handling guns in the hunting
 department, he asked the clerk where the antidepressants were.

11. October 3: Darted around the store suspiciously while
 loudly humming the "Mission Impossible" theme.

12.. October 6: In the auto department, he practiced his
 "Madonna look" by using different sizes of funnels.

13. October 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browsed
 through, yelled "PICK ME! PICK ME!"

14. October 21: When an announcement came over the loud
 speaker, he assumed a fetal position and screamed "OH NO! IT'S THOSE

And last, but not least:

15. October 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited
 awhile, then yelled very loudly, "Hey! There's no toilet paper in here."
 One of the clerks passed out.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Traditions! Traditions! Traditions!

It's been a little while since I caught you all up on life.  My sweet little JJ is walking around the house calling for his brothers. He's the only one home this morning and I think he's a little lonely. Personally, I'm loving the moment with just him and me. We just finished playing chase and going through his books. Now I need to try to wrap my head around the upcoming weeks and the traditions that will be followed.

I'm completely finished with school except for one last exam on December 3rd. Ahhh, that will be nice to get out of the way and off of my to do list! I love taking classes. But not when I'm as busy as I am with my little family. Anyway...

We have Thanksgiving in a couple of days. We are in the process of digging the pit to roast him in. A 36-37 pound turkey does NOT fit in an oven. Wish us luck on this adventure. I also need to get to the grocery store during this time with one child.

We have a Christmas Tree hunt just after Thanksgiving to look forward to.

We have a table to decorate for the annual orchestra festival dinner. Still thinking about this one...

We have dear friend who will be delivering a baby soon and we get to watch their kids. This will be a fun couple of days for the kids.

We have my annual Country Women's Christmas Candy Making Party just around the corner. I always look forward to this.

And then there's the gifts to give, the scriptures to read by candle light, and the carols to sing. Yes, this is a busy and precious time of year.

Let the journey begin!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Precious Children

I just stepped down the ladder from Jakob's loft and I was filled with the power of a mother's love for my precious children tonight. Leif was out on an EMT run so I put the boys into their beds on my own. Jakob was crying up in his room because he was mad about a consequence he was given after sending a fist and a nasty glare to his dad as he climbed his ladder for bedtime. Leif requested his new jet as a reminder that his behavior was not acceptable. Leif also reminded him of the fact that we are his captains and that behavior would receive some heavy penalties in a game or during a combat mission.

After putting Caleb to bed I climbed the ladder.  I don't go up very often so Jakob knew I was there for a visit. He welcomed me with a tearful smile. I proceeded to do what most mother's do during a talk with their boys in their bedrooms. I started straitening toys and books. Gathering up dirty clothes, and making a mental note of the status of the loft and what still needed to be done. I checked all of the safety precautions to make sure all was well. All at the same time as I visited with my son.

We can have the most interesting conversations. We talked about what he liked about having his own room. What made him scared (the dark), and whether he sleeps on his mattress or not. We talked about how he's used up a whole role of Scotch tape to make a wide array of gadgets and gizmoes to play with, and how difficult it was to place them just right on the tape. And then we wound back to the reason he won't be able to play with his jet when he wakes up early in the morning. He assured me (without my asking) that he knew that if he shook his fist at a commanding officer he would be sent to military court and might get kicked out of the military. Well, I assured him that one of our least favorite jobs as a parent was dishing out consequences. He then came back with  the sweet response of "Ya, I think we've read that in the scriptures somewhere haven't we?" I told him we very well may have and that Father in Heaven is very sad when He has to send us consequences to remind us to be our best selves.

Some how we got on the train of conversation about leadership and he thought it would be nice to become the commander so he could enforce the rules. I explained to him that even the commanders had people that they answer to. We talked about the leaders and their leaders all the way to the president. He paused and asked who the president answers to. I told him that because we live in America the president answers to the people of America and if we wanted to bad enough, we could vote him out. That lead us to the subject of voting. The amazing kid asked what my vote was for this president. I explained what it was and how the majority wins. He then said that he would want to add his vote. He was disappointed to learn that he can't vote yet. I told him that when it gets closer to this next election we would teach him about the men and women who were running for president and he could let us know who he would vote for if he could. He appreciated that. :) And then the kicker... As I was climbing down the ladder he asks, "so what do I need to do to be voted in as President of the United States?" ...pause... Uhh? Recover: You need to go to school and learn as much as you can and when you're old enough and have the experience you need you can run for president and ask people to vote for you. "Oh, okay, that sounds like a good plan."   Seriously! The kid never ceases to amaze me!

Upon climbing down to the main floor of the house I could hear Caleb calling me from his bedroom. I walked into his room and he says "Mama, I need you! I need to give you a hug and a kiss and my feets are cold!" Ahhh, the beauties of motherhood!

Truly Beautiful!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Foto Friday: October

Halloween 2011


We had a fun easy going Halloween this year. The boys made things easy by choosing really easy costumes. At first they wanted to be Knights again (same as last year.) Then they found a couple of really neat guns that they wanted. So to go with their guns they chose Halloween tee-shirts and crazy hair color and went as "crazy haired pirating soldiers." Well, something like that anyway.:) I had picked out a Lion costume for JJ. But then I decided to put it back because it cost too much to use only once. I made him a cute clown costume instead. I took a pair of PJ's and sewed random shapes all over it. Easy enough:)

So Halloween finally came and we spent the day letting the boys watch Halloween movies. Then we carved pumpkins and got costumes on. We then headed to the Trunk-or-Treat. We all enjoyed yummy chili and I took the kids around the parking lot while Leif stole the show with Oscar the Grouch as his puppet friend helping him hand out the candy. It was adorable to watch all of  the kids have so much fun when they got to our car. I SOO should have recorded it! Duh! Anyway, I loved to hear Caleb's little "Fricker Freat!" And "Shank You!" Ohhh so sweet!

We had a great Halloween, Hope you did too!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Just One Of Those Great Days!

Today was Sunday. We usually need to be up and to church by 9:00A. Today we stayed home due to some terrible sounding coughs. We had breakfast together and then met in front of the computer for a round of Mormon Messages. Wow! The spirit was strong and we loved all that we watched. Jakob especially loved the clips about the Mormon Mustang (a WWII Jet.)

From there we spent the afternoon listening to Papa practice playing the guitar. While I put together a rabbit stew Leif read out loud to all of us from the Book of Mormon Storybook. We then had a healthy and tasty lunch and it was off to nap time.  While I was trying to fall asleep all cozy in my winter blankets I felt pure peace. I Love just being home on a cloudy cold day inside our cozy home with no agenda for the outside world. We all slept really well without any interruptions (such a blessing!)

I read the story of Sarah Hale to the boys about how she petitioned the country leaders for years to make Thanksgiving a holiday and her journey of doing good. We then read The Little Red Hen. By then everyone was hungry and the stew was ready to eat. Yummy!

Jakob had the idea to invite grandma over to play Yatzee. I love that he is old enough to play some of our family's favorite games. Grandma came up and spent the evening with us. We turned on Pandora's Enya Radio Station and the peace we felt as we all played and laughed together was priceless. Papa made soap while we played the game, ate nachos, and a bit of candy. Then grandma let the boys pull out the kid's charades game. We had a lot of fun watching grandma and the boys act out their cards. In the midst of that it began to snow so of course we all had to go stand on the porch and enjoy the moment. The boys pulled a flashlight out to shine at the snow. The flashlight has a low grade laser on it. We had a good laigh teasing the kittens with the laser.

We closed the night with a treat of Corn Chex mixed in chocolate and peanut butter, MMM! Papa read us some scriptures and I read enough of Hansel and Gretel to get Jakob anxious to finish the story tomorrow. From there it was prayer, teeth, diapers, and bed (in one order or another:)

A great day filled with a lot of love!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

While the Cold Winds Blow

Kind of a fun title...;) I thought of it because the cold winds outside are whistling through the cracks in our window air conditioner that needs to be covered. I don't block the cracks because I like the sounds. Ahhh, well it's quiet at the moment. Always a time to be valued. I;m tired at the moment. I thought about taking a nap. But my bed is covered in laundry to fold. Don't want to fold it. So here I am.

We did some home improvements again. Suuprise, Suuuprise, Suuprise! We're always working on one thing or another. Poor Leif, he said last night that he felt like he had been running an obstacle course all day long. He had been and I was the mean bossy instigator. I woke up and decided that I was sick and tired of walking into our house and being able to see the whole house from one end to the other. Especially since the back half always looks chaotic and cluttered (office, TV, and Home school area.) So we reorganized JJ's room, shifted furniture around the whole house, hung a curtain, had to put all the pulled out clutter away, and viola! A new look. Always a fun thing.

In the middle of all of that Leif took Turkey and butchered him for Thanksgiving. Can we say 37 pounds of Thanksgiving Turkey! WOWSWERS! It was something I have never seen before. HUGE!!

While Leif was away taking care of Turkey, I managed to flood the bathroom again with the washing machine water (the hose fell out of the sink.) I was also able to get the dishes done, and sew a hole up in a pair of Jakob's pants. Not bad for one day.

Today I'm hoping to get the laundry finished, some studying in, photo's uploaded and blogged. Wish me luck! So far I've fed, clothed, and diapered a couple of times.  We had devotional, art project, set up the November calendar and art display board, and made cookies to count by twos.

Jakob just came in and asked me where the leaf rake was so he could do a service project for grandma. Score! The Service Unit hit its mark! Praise Be! 

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Trading Places

I know I should write about Halloween. But that will be another post. Tonight I will tell you about my great day. I have A LOT of school work to tackle in the next couple of weeks. Leif delighted me by sharing a great idea to help me find the time to study. He offered to take care of everything at home if I would go to the Spa and man the desk during the times he doesn't have appointments. Brilliant!

Today I was able to write a paper and read a chapter without any interruptions from children. I was also able to run errands and eat a salad all by myself! And to top it off, I was able to schedule 2.5 hours of appointments for Leif tomorrow. Awesome!

It was so nice to have a full day all to myself. I walked away with a few goals made and a plan of action for success. Thanks to my Stress Management class. That class is killer when it comes to studying, but the material is invaluable!

I need to trade places with Leif a lot more often! Thanks Love!
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