Joy is very infectious; therefore, be always full of joy.

~ Mother Teresa

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Daddy Daughter Date

ALA sponsored a Daddy-Daughter Night
The theme was "Rockin' Around the Clock"
50's Sock Hop
We invited the "couples" to come here for pizza and salad for dinner. 

The Nuttall's
Sierra, Cory and Sadie 
"Daddy! Smile BIG!" 
The Girls
Emmalee, Megan, Sierra & Sadie 
Emma borrowed this darling skirt from her friend Kaitlyn -
It's not a poodle skirt... it's a Beagle skirt!
Daddy & DaughterS
Oh wait! Sophie! You don't get to go!
AWE! They looked so cute! 
They had a blast at the dance! There was a live band, a soda fountain, games and more!
This little group had a rockin' good time! 
Thanks Daddy for a wonderful date!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Thanks to a wonderful friend, I learned a homemaking skill that is so yummy,
I will never buy store bought again!! 
I made a bunch for Christmas gifts this year :) 
Only two ingredients and some patience! 
1st you need a 5th of good Vodka.
This is the one I was told is the best for vanilla.
I always just remember the red and gold label since I can't say the name! LOL

Yes... it was a little strange to go to the liquor store, but I knew I was not looking to break any commandments with this bottle of proof... LOL... so I worked past my "taboo" discomfort and found what I needed! 
They are really nice there
and they put your bottle of hooch in a brown paper sack!
(surprised? LOL)
Keep the bag.
And you need 5-6 vanilla beans.
I found these at the Sunflower Market.
(UPDATE: I also bought a bag of about 12 from for about $15 - great quality!)

(you could keep the glass vanilla bean bottles to put your finished product in if you would like!)

First you dump out about 3 T. of the vodka
 (so the beans will fit in the jar).
Take each bean pod and slice them all down along one side to open it up to the beans.
Then drop the whole pod into the bottle of vodka.
Repeat with all your beans.
Put the cap back on...
and place the bottle back in the brown paper sack you got from the liquor store.
We wrote "Vanillika" on ours to make it look a little less "suspicious"!

Keep in a cool place...
we just kept it on countertop so we would see it and remember the next step:

 your bottle daily, if you can,
(see? I told you it would take patience)
Everyone in my little family would shake it when they saw it (and thought about it!)
Cooperation at its best! :D
After a month look how lovely!

You are half way there!
Next, dump the entire contents from your vodka bottle into a glass bowl.
(I used a Pyrex bowl as it had a pouring spout, but you could use a funnel if you needed to)

Take each bean pod and pull it open.
Scrape out the mushy beans inside them and put (aka: scrape) the goo back into the vodka bottle.
(this phase made my hands smell divine! :D)
Discard your empty vanilla bean pods.
Pour the lovely brown alcohol back into your 5th bottle over the top of the goo.
Replace the lid, shake well and put it back into the brown paper sack.

for DAILY for at least another MONTH.

I left mine for about 6 weeks, each cycle, just because we were so busy.

The longer it sits the better the flavor...

Now here is where you can make your own decision:
The recipe I was taught said to strain the liquid through cheese cloth or clean nylon stockings to remove the vanilla bean goo.
I usually don't.
I did strain it for the gifts I was giving, but for my own vanilla I just left the bean goo in there!
It makes really pretty vanilla icecream with little flecks of brown, and the flavor keeps getting stonger and stronger the longer you leave it in the vodka, so I use less and less vanilla each time I bake because you don't need as much :)

It's entirely up to you! 
And so there you have it!
Leave it in the bottle or put into small glass bottles.
Store in a cool, dry, mostly dark place.

(I wrapped my vodka bottle with a damp kitchen towel for about 15 minutes and the label peeled right off)

A whole fifth of vanilla!
Not watered down
or full of strange additives/flavorings!!

The total cost was:
Vodka $21.00
Beans x6 $6
$ 27.00

Now I don't know about you... but:
though it seems like a lot up front
this bottle could last up to 2-3 years
(if you don't use vanilla like I do! )

And for the peace of mind to know exactly what was in it,
plus the simple joy of knowing I made it myself was worth it!
It is DIVINE!!


(p.s. they do have the vodka in a smaller bottle - but not being liquor bottle lingo savvy I would think it would be called a 10th? (lol) - so you could just use less beans and that bottle was only $15 or so.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cameron's Bear

Cam received his Bear this month!!
He's a happy boy! 

Onto Weeblos cute boy!
Proud of you!!

College started only 2 weeks ago??

WOW! Can't believe school started 2 weeks ago! It has been a crazy busy fun time LOL
I did post to my FLYSistah's site one night last week... and thought I would copy & paste here and then add from there (Time Saver *wink*)

Jan 9th - Tonight was my first class... Math 0990. I have known all along that Math was going to be the hardest thing for me. I knew I struggled with remembering numbers! (Its one of the last major losses from my stroke!) I knew, even though I really need English for prerequisites to many other classes, Math had to come first. I had to conquer it!

I did well the first part of class. I took notes of all the school rules, the syllabus and whatnot. I even understood the vocabulary and remembered information I used to know... long long ago (heh heh)! I was excited! This might be not so bad! I am remembering concepts! And verbage! *happy*

Then my teacher started doing samples "on the board" from a projector thingy, and talking about number this and number that. I was scrambling to thought process the numbers he was saying and writing, and then copying them all down to my notes to make sense! I could feel the overwhelm start to take over... but I kept pushing. I KNEW I HAD to learn this or I would get behind! So I just kept fighting and pushing myself. I spoke to the teacher after class, giving him my Accessibility letter explaining my disabilities (and that was emotionally hard in and of itself) but I was still level and ok on the outside!

I got into my car to come home, and burst into tears. I sobbed all the way home. I came home to an empty house (the family was cleaning the church tonight) so I walked (ok... paced!) around the house flapping my hands. I felt completely crazy!!!!!!!!!!! I could not calm down! I finally decided to call my friend Amy (her hubby is the therapist) and talk to her. She helped me talk through some of it and I realized something! It is NOT that I cannot remember numbers! I CAN!! It's that when I am given numbers verbally or have to process them from a computer to a piece of paper... my mind cannot take that information and turn around and put it in the right order! It's similar to someone trying to speak Spanish to me too fast! I was once fluent in Spanish (all through elementary school)... but as an adult I have had to slowly process the words and translate them into English from the Spanish I used to understand immediately and fluently and it is stressful! (Perro, de verdad, mi espanol estas volviendo mas rapido despuez de mi "stroke" - hay momentos quando todos mis pensajes son en espanol!) ("However, in truth, my Spanish is suddenly returning very quickly after my stroke - there are moments when all of my inner thoughts run in Spanish!) ANYWHO... long story short tonight SUCKED!!

I just had my first "physical therapy" session since I graduated from physical therapy!!

My mind HURTS.

After my family got home, and we did a quick Family Home Evening, and put kids to bed... I dissolved into tears once again as I explained the evening to Jes. He cried too. He said he thinks that is why I am suppose to go to school. To continue my healing.

To continue my healing.


I am so mentally exhausted, like I haven't been in months, I wanna just keep crying until I can't cry anymore. (which kinda makes me thankful my emotions were taken from me whilst I did my other recovery stuff... good grief! I think my eyes would have been swollen shut and my nose would have never stopped running! Bwahahaha)

SO there you have it girls. My first class. I am not sure I would call it epic fail? But maybe just "holy crap that was hard". I look forward to tomorrow! (heh heh heh... um... yeah....)

It WAS hard. I cried after the next math class as well.

My other classes have gone well. I am keeping up, and though I am incredibly fatigued, it is expect-able fatigue and I am dealing with it well. This week, I only had Math once, but I didn't cry after class and it only took me 20 minutes or so to clear my mind and decompress. The ability to copy down numbers is coming faster and with more accuracy. And all the concepts have returned. It will be ok. It is just going to take work.
College homework is BIG. LOL. Lots of busy work. I feel like juggling both home and college is an intricate dance - with just a few breaks. It is going to stretch not only me.. but my little family as well. We are getting into the swing of it all though... :)

On a happy bragging note:

Today I finished all the homework for chapter 1 of my Math - 9 sections with 15-30 problems each - and the chapter test today... and I got 100%!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WAHOO!!!!!!

It may hurt like hell ('xuse my french) but it is coming back!!! :D
(With much thanks from my cute Jr. High kiddos who answer their Mommy's questions and helps her whenever she needs it *wink*)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wow! 3 posts in a row!

(Aunt Becky will be so proud!)
So... sleeping last night was torture. Aches, chills etc. This morning I took somemore Tylenol and fell back asleep (this time in my bed ;)) after the kids left for about an hour or so.
:) Better! :)
I have a wicked cold sore all of a sudden...
but I feel better.
I will look fantastic for the first day of school.
(heh heh)
Acutally - that is why I thought to blog!
I am old.
Ok... maybe not super old, but post stroke? Lemme just tell ya...I feel O.L.D.
This is a little bit craziness as I try to get my ducks in a row for a life experience I clearly should have pursued at age 18!

(Oh wait... I was a sluffer. A slacker. A 1.2 cumulative GPA? solely because I did not engage in my high school career... I had a super hot boyfriend after all! They would have laughed me off campus! *wink* Who had time for homework and attending classes? Drooling over Jes in metal shop was MUCH more fun. Hmmm... which: #1 - WHY exactly did the Shop teacher allow me to hang out you ask? I did his busy work for him... and really... I am sure he figured that if he let me stay... my hottie of a boyfriend would stay too.
BTW... Jes' GPA? 3.5+.
Girls... don't sell yourself short for a boy! Just sayin'!)
Distracted paragraph aside....

I waver from complete and utter excitement...
to complete and utter fear.

It's very similar emotionally to preparing to go to the Physical Therapist's office during stroke recovery and wondering how epic of a fail it will be... and how much it will hurt before it gets better.
It's similar.
OH! But to conquer it!

To succeed!

To smother the echo of a 1.2 GPA... and have proof that I can be brilliant and succeed if I put in the work.
This is SOO not going down on the epic fail list.

(remind me of this post when I am gasping for air wondering what the heck happened ok??)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lost my blogging touch?

I am not sure.
I just can't seem to get the juices flowing, the words to say what I want and the emotion behind them to shine through.
Maybe it's my perfectionism and the knowledge that I have about a dozen or so post that I have not written, so I would be out of order if I did... blah blah blah.
Starting tonight... here is my randomness... revisted. :)

Today I have felt like I haven't slept in years. Years.
I mean it!
I got up after 7 hours of sleep, and promptly fell asleep on the couch while the kids got ready for school. It was like tearing two cloths covered in molasses to open my eyes to tell them goodbye and say prayers with them! Oye!
I was out like a light after they left.
I fought the sleepiness for over an hour and a half... knowing a repair guy and Jes would both be here at 10 - and I had to have a smoothie ready for Jes when he got here to take back to work.
(Did I mention we are drinking green smoothies? We had full intentions of juicing, even bought a juicer in mid-October, but we returned it to have some Christmas money, so we are thankful for my Dad's splurge on a REALLY nice blender he never uses and is allowing us to play with. I am in love. But... I digress...)
Back to my story of today.
So, I pulled myself off the couch with 5 minutes to spare - just enough time to make 3 quick piles of the misc stuff on the livingroom floor and rush them to their appointed places of residence in our house, and comb my hair, wipe the mascara from under my eyes and put on a bra. *sigh*
After the repair guy left, Jes helped me make a smoothie for us and headed back to work. I had guilt. I FULLY intended to surprise him with an Uber tasty spinach, orange, strawberry, blueberry shake. Instead we used Swiss chard, and pear sauce, with oranges and apples. More fiber... less tasty. LOL
On being left alone again, with the promise that I would try to have all the Christmas packed away in the totes that litter the main living areas before Jes got home so that he could just take them to the shed, I promptly curled up in my recliner, with my new calendar for the year, our various spheres of influence on our daily schedules, my computer and a blanket.
I spent the entire day working on our calendar (which looks great... but still needs some stuff added so I can keep my head on straight LOL) and then rumaging the college's website trying to figure out my schedule, my map, my necessities, my books to buy and my game plan for getting ready for school in a few days.
And it took me...
All day.
I got up just to rotate laundry and drink water.
I feel wrung out like a old dishrag.
As my people's arrived home for the day, I elicited their help and believe it or not it took us a whopping 20 minutes to pack up Christmas, outside decor and lights included, and take it to the shed!! Something that would have taken ME alone ALL DAY!
Moral of the story?
When you don't feel good...
Curl up with a warm blanket and work on the not so hard stuff.
The hard stuff will get done... eventually!
Now... where is my blanket, my Tylenol (bummer I gots me some body aches this evening) and my sweetheart?
Let's go to bed!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Year In Review - 2011

  • Tons of physical therapy for Heather, as she recovered from a mild stroke, effecting her right side, suffered in Dec 2010. She gained back most all that was lost by early April. The day she could drive again was joyful, as was the day her cursive came back, and the day her emotions came back (Oct) as well. It was SUPER hard work, for our whole family (as everyone helped with her exercises & therapy) and it taught us our new motto... "I can't do it... Yet!"
  • Closed the doors on JWD Electric, as our mortgage company forced us into bankruptcy as we attempted to keep our home after they did their "bait and switch". We also turned in Jes' work truck.
  • Heather's Realtor's license was place on in-active status for a season, by divine intervention, just before her stroke. It was perfect so she could 100% focus on recovering. She is still a licensed real estate agent, and may, at some point, reactivate her Realtor status by paying the crazy amount of dues the Assoc of Realtor's require. We shall see... time will tell.
  • We turned in our camper trailer after the bankruptcy. It was hard - it was our family's escape and joy - but we are grateful for the debt relief from it.
  • Tons of job applications, more than can be numbered, and any and all side jobs he can muster for Jes. In April he gained a full time job in maintenance at a local manufacturing shop. He enjoys tearing their machines apart and figuring them out and fixing them. The pay is less than desirable, but we are thankful for a steady paycheck. He still must to do electrical work to make ends meet. He was released as Elder's Quorum President in February, as the toll of taking care of Heather and looking for a job became suffocating for him. The Stake President gave him a "new calling". He told him his calling was to find a job to care for his family, and help his wife heal. He had torn emotions about it... as he loved serving the men of this ward, but the relief from the stewardship was huge.
  • We spent the better part of the year uncertain if we were moving or not, and of how quickly we would have to do it - our martgage company was wicked. It was finally all said and done mid August. The bank won and took our family's home.
  • We were blessed to move into a smaller rambler rental here in the neighborhood (the kids didn't have to change wards or schools) and have found great joy in our new little place. We can easily maintain it (when I say we...I mean Heather. She is LOVING feeling like she can fully be the homemaker without putting her health at risk). And we are closer as a family. It has been a blessing in disguise! This little house is perfect!
  • Emmalee (14 yrs) began 8th grade. She loves choir. Misses art. Enjoys her friends. Active in Youngwomen's - loved girls camp at the new Heber Campground. Her room is decorated in Lime Green, brown, and she loves purple! Saved all her money for over 5 months, seeking any and all extra income makers she could (including babysitting and mowing grass) to earn enough to purchase an IPod Touch - 4th Generation - 32gb. She loves it! She has an amazing testimony & loves her Father in Heaven very much. Her spirit is incredibly sensitive to anything that interferes with her relationship with the Holy Ghost. She is an inspiration to all who know her. She has a very strong love language of "quality time." This year her Christmas Ornament was a purple swirly peace sign - her favorite colors, and her desire for life.
  • Cody (12 yrs) began Jr High - he is in 7th grade. William (his first given name) is what he chose to go by in school this year. He finds great joy continuing his Drama classes. He also is in honors math. He struggles a little in school - but only because he doesn't always turn in his work... LOL typical 12 year old boy! He is an honor student - when his work is turned in on time - "busy work" annoys him. He has found a great joy in Scouts, and was nominated to join the "Order of the Arrow". He completed his "trial" this fall... and continues to work towards completing all that lay before him. He can be found almost always with his nose in a great fantasy fiction book... or his DS playing his Pokemon games. He is the family alarm clock and gets us all up in the morning (except Jes of course... as he is up at 4:30-5am to make it to work so he can be home around 3:30pm and have time for side jobs.) Cody has grown a mustache - ok... really dark peach fuzz - and has grown 5+ inches this year. His voice is deeper than Jes'. Heather loves that he is officially taller than her! Cody was diagnosed with Scoliosis this year - double curves - one in his upper spine and one in his lower. It is not such as yet that he needs a back brace, but we are keeping an eye on his rapid growth. Cody's love language is "physical touch" and he loves to hug those he loves, and he gives Em and I kisses on our cheeks every night before bed. His Christmas ornament this year was a pair of glass flip flops in a pretty shade of blue - his favorite color - and because we tease him that he is no respecter of shoes - if he needs a pair to go outside, he will snag whomevers is closest, girl shoe or not!
  • Cameron (9 yrs) began 4th grade this year. He felt on top of the world to be able to have the same teacher he loved so much in 3rd grade. Mr. Anderson is one of the best teachers I have ever encountered. Cameron is in the top of his class. He began and enjoyed the first 3 Harry Potter books this year! We have only allowed him to watch the first two movies though - still too much for a boy his age. He would play video games all day if we let him, but once outside to play he has many friends and would stay outside all day too if we let him! Chicken Pox were an ailment he got to endure this year - he had a pox on his face that he struggled to leave alone and it is now a large pink mark (scar) which we pray will lessen with time. He also got an infection in his nail bed that destroyed his fingernail, and now as it grows out he has no nail! Cam loves to tease, joke and laugh. He loves tradition and spending quality time together, though his love language flits between "quality time", "physical touch" and "gifts". His Christmas ornament this year was a glass slice of pizza - the answer ALWAYS given when asked what to have for dinner... even if he had it for lunch! LOL
  • Caleb (age 6) began 1st grade this year! (All my babies gone all day! :O) He is a math whiz!! Loves it! School is a struggle for him though in other ways: he was completely on track  and had begun reading before Heather's stroke, but after, anything to do with letters was forgotten. His kindergarten teacher did not mention much to us (she knew what was going on at home) and so when he started 1st grade we were surprised at how little he knew! He is taking extra tutoring and the letters/words are starting to come... we have NO doubt he will catch back up. All at home was too emotionally trying for him... but he is bouncing back now as our lives calm down. The boy LOVES to be outside, all creeping things are his friends... even scary black spiders. (ewww) He is passionate about weather - loves to hear the 7-day forecast and ANY show or book about it. He cannot read, and yet he checked out an encyclopedia on weather from the library and studied it front to back, asking questions when he could not figure it out from the pictures. He eats anything... and rarely complains about food. Pickles, peppers and anything his Daddy is eating is a food of choice. Caleb broke his arm this summer - in two places - and spent the better part of the summer and first few weeks of school in one of 3 casts. He dodged surgery by the skin of his teeth. Caleb tears things apart to put them back together all the time. LOVES it! He is also known to make anything from anything... his latest creation consisted of 2 tissue boxes, 3 toilet paper rolls and old dryer sheets... which, with some tape and cutting became a train engine! He can also build anything out of Lego's! He is a mini Jes to a tee! His love language is "acts of service", as he *loves* doing things for others. He also makes wonderful notes for everyone... even if we aren't sure what they say without his decipher. This year for Christmas his ornament was a beautiful shiny glass train... he loves them and can't to ride Traxx someday soon!
  • Sophie, our Yorkie, is still the baby of the family. She has adjusted pretty well to our new home and loves having a fenced, grassy backyard all her own! She helped Emma and Heather, as they started Couch to 5k together this summer. They made it to week 9 together. Sophie still completely loves us all in this order: Jes 1st, Emma 2nd, everyone else last. LOL
  • We have 7 chickens. Love fresh eggs. Fun to watch. The neighbor kids stand on the utility boxes on the other side of the fence near their coop to watch them... we joke we are the neighborhood zoo!
  • Heather was in a car accident in Aug, a couple of weeks before she was to start school (a freshman at UVU! *gulp*) and though not hurt from the accident, she lost all the new brain pathways learned from her stroke and was thrown back to square one! It took almost 2 full weeks to have all the symptoms go away and be "back to normal" - and it was disappointing to be taken to the hospital via ambulance since the EMT's we not pleased that she could not move her right side, close her right eye, speak without a slur and smile with her whole mouth. She was allowed to go home a few hours later once they realized it was simply an "echo" from her former stroke. The 80 year old gentleman that hit her, ran a red light, and blessedly no one was really hurt. Our family car (Expedition) spent a month in the car shop and it completely restored - $7800 later. Thank heavens for insurance!! Emma and Heather stopped their 5k training post accident, and once we started the moving process, never got back to it. Looking forward to jumping back in in 2012.
  • Starting school was put on hold for Heather until Spring semester, so we will be learning how to re-vamp our family routines to accommodate and support in a week or so. After this last year... as a family... we can do anything!!
We anxiously look forward to a new year... less stress... more time together... more growth... and lots more joy!!