Monday, October 31, 2016


some things are just better with littles.  The trifecta of holidays: halloween, thanksgiving and Christmas. Going to the zoo.  Reading Fancy Nancy books.  Baking cookies.  To name a few.
River and Scarlett
I sure love these little nieces and nephews and grands.  They are just darling and such good kiddos.
Noah and Reggie

Joneaux and Deo

Penny, Marshall and Tatum


Hannah got to deliver candy grams at school all day. That's a pretty good day!
Ethan also dressed up, he was a hydrogen atom. He was in a group with two other boys one of which was also a hydrogen atom and the other was an oxygen atom.
Grace did not get to dress up at school today. Last Friday they got to dress up and go to the graveyard gala right after school. When she got home she quickly got dressed into her giraffe costume and this evening after dinner we met her friend Mikayla and went trick-or-treating in their neighborhood.
Fun was had by all :)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Stake conference weekend

It was an amazing weekend. So uplifting and inspiring.
First for some not conference related news, Hannah and Grace babysat for the Packams and they had a very fun night.  Grace us really looking forward to turning 12 and being able to babysit.

We went to the adult session of conference last night and it was really, really great. It seems like whatever's going on in your life, whatever struggles or sadnesses you have you can always find peace, comfort and direction in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It's pretty fun to go and see people I have known all my life. Yesterday Henry Greenfield gave a talk. He did a super job, talked about his conversion.  He and dad were great friends long ago.  Man, he is old looking now.  I was watching him after he spoke, and once I realized who he was, and frankly I thought he might actually die sitting up on the stand.  I wanted to say hi to him but he looked really sick so I left without saying hi.  Before I got out the door though I changed my mind and went back to talk to him.  He had perked up and we had a nice little visit.
Today the Clarks spoke, which was also so fun.  Julie and I both raced up to the stand to say hi right after.  Seeing your parent's friends, that you have always known, is kind of like seeing your mom and dad. It's a fun surprise.

After last night's conference we went out for gelato with the Chronis'. It was delicious.  Like so good I should go back tomorrow :)

Today we came home and watched movies and hung out.  It's been raining on and off for the last three days, which is super awesome and needed.

Friday, October 28, 2016

good times and little annoyances

Makayla, Grace and Charlotte
Paige, Heather, Brinn, Hannah and Shelby

Tonight we had truck or treat and our chili cook off.  It was a pretty nice night.  The chili was good and the girls did some games for the primary kids before the trunk or treat which were cute and went smoothly.  The boys also had games and Ethan's group has some problems that were frustrating to him, namely the other boys played on their phones or threw candy at each other while he played the games with the kids. He was pretty mad after they left him to clean up alone.  I am glad he was the one who was doing what he should. Hopefully he will say something to them and next time the other boys will do better.
Audrey and I had ran up during the day to set up our games so everything was ready and easy breezy.

Today was an annoying day.  I was annoyed with the state of CA. It rained this morning so our soccer practice this evening was cancelled...and when the coach sent out the text the first response was "that's good it's too cold outside", for the record it was 69 degrees out.

Grace's school was on lock down because there was a stabbing outside of the campus and the police were called in.  I am glad they have a plan, and that the kids were all safe, but upset that this is the world we live in.

So I decided to get my subbing credential up to date.  You have to every year (which is reasonable). I haven't because I don't love to sub, I applied for a few teachers aide jobs but wasn't selected (overqualified??). Anyway every October I decide I need more holiday $, which then turns into vacation money and subbing is a good way to do that.  So I called up and they were happy to take my $110 annual credential fee and also I got to do the annual training.  There are about 15 courses you have to do on line, blood borne pathogen training, abuse training, sexual harassment training, concussion training, etc.  And this year a new one.  An hour long integrated pesticide management training because antibacterial wipes are considered a pesticide and all teachers use them so all teachers must be trained.  I have to admit this was both super boring and super annoying. After my hour long training I took the test and scored 100% in 2min and 9 sec. I'm pretty sure I could have done almost as well without it.  

Lastly a (very sweet, smart and awesome) friend of mine posted on facebook to vote yes on prop something to ban single use plastic bags in our state. That's on the ballot?!  Who knew? And for the record I love single use plastic bags.  I use them to pick up after Ziva when we go one walks, I pack Hannah's lunch in one because it holds more and the shape is great to stuff into a back pack, we line trash cans it our bathrooms in them and they hold wet swimsuits on the way home from the beach and trash in the car and any number of other useful things.   I don't like the litter but really of all the problems we have that's the one we want to start with?  I am not at all annoyed with her, friends don't have to agree about everything to be friends; just the initiative and admittedly maybe more than I would have been on another less frustrating day.

Also, for the record, our cell phone bill is too high.  It's air!! They are charging us for air!!!! a lot.  Charging~ sure a fair amount, of course, but come on :(

10 things I love about Ethan at 14

eye on the ball
  1. He plays soccer with all his heart.  He loves it.
  2. He is really witty.
  3. He is smart.
  4. He is gentle and considerate to me.
  5. He is a good friend.
  6. He is dedicated to his love of staying home and never wants to leave the house.
  7. He is cooperative about doing chores.
  8. He honors his priesthood and looks so handsome doing his duty.
  9. We have some "shows" we watch together and we always wait for each other to watch, I love that.
  10. He is tall, taller than me, and growing like a weed.  He likes to stand next to me and put his arm around my shoulders. 

school assignments

Ethan is a smart guy.  Really smart.  Everyone thinks his greatest strength is in science and math and indeed he excels there, learns easily, and likes it. What is not as well known is that he is also good and language arts and history.  In fact when he took the career assessment test that all freshmen take his number one match was historian...followed by several different science related careers.  He is really funny and has a good vocabulary, those two traits combine to make a good writer. This morning I found an English assignment open on the lap top, so I read it, and I laughed and decided to save it for posterity my future reading pleasure.

October 20th
            Matt was over at my house one day, we were nailing pictures onto the wall when my sister took the hammer and softly as landing butterfly landing on a flower tapped the table, tink, and whispered in a hushed tone. Ethan do you know what this is. Matt responded to Hannah “Uhhh a table”. “No” Hannah replied then stated cooly such an odd phrase that Matt must have thought she had early onset Alzheimer's. My sister finally revealed her cryptic message and said three words… “It's a gourd”. At first she could not be understood because she spoke so softly so she repeated “A gourd” Now poor Matt still did not understand but I finally realized Hannah was alluding to a moment on the past.
I began explaining to Matt “We went camping on the beach one day and while relaxing under the cool welcoming shade cast by the leafy palm trees we talked. Our conversation was a bumble bee buzzing from place to place. Eventually we began playing a game where one person would think of an object and the rest of the group would have to guess what it was. ‘Is it a fruit?’ ‘No’, ‘Is it edible’ ‘Yes’ We eventually found the object was a gourd. Grace then asked ‘What is a gourd’. We all sat pondering her question for a moment. We probably looked silly, sitting silently simply thinking of how to supply answer to my sister. Then someone said as certainly as you would say 2+2=4 ‘Something is a gourd if you can hit it with a hammer.’ ” Matt still stood in a stupor processing the insanity of what he just heard. It seems nobody can fathom my family’s joke. For now on only we will ever enjoy the humor behind the word gourd.

A scary story
We were staying at my sister’s house in Buffalo. She lived in a small place with one bedrooms and her husband. Everyone used the one room. It was quite tight and hard to have a private conversation yet Hannah and I managed to have one.
She came over to the blow up mattress I was on and leaned down to tell me something. She said, “Do you want to here a scary story”. My sister is a bit of a wimp so I was not prepared for the ferocious tale I was about to hear. She leaned in and said, “One very cold day I was walking home from school and saw a flower. It was the only flower in a barren field. It was so pretty and I was considering walking over too it when a bird came landed next to the flower and bit it just below the petals. The one pretty thing was taken from the field. This had an affect on me because I thought that the flower had represented my calm nature in such a violent world and I felt it was gone now. This gave me a violent feel and when I arrived at home I saw Grace so I punched her in the face.” At this point me being a 10-year-old boy, and my sisters story obviously a build up to basically say I came home and saw Grace so I punched her in the face, I laughed hysterically I was a choir at a church and I could not be silenced. What my sister said was gold to me. It was hilarious and made me laugh. Suddenly my Mom telling me to be quiet so that everyone could sleep cut my laughter short. I guess that by me not being done laughing then just stored the laughter to make that a funny memory whenever my sister and me secretly enjoy the memory of that night.

I was born in Texas, if you have never been than this might be news to you, but every boy in Texas is named Bub. Your family would just call you Bub for no apparent reason. My family called me Bub. That is not too difficult to reason. What is inconceivable is that my sister calls me Michael now because of that name Bub. She reasoned that Bub sounds like bubble. So for a few years she called me bubble. Than she moved from bubble to Buble as in Michael Buble. Than after years my sister called me Michael Buble and recently Michael. When people are over at our house sometimes I am called Michael. This is cause for great confusion as people are confused by what my sister is saying. They ask questions like “Is Michael your middle name?” or “Do you have a brother named Michael?” I must explain to them the whole process of how I am now called Michael. My sister Grace also has a nickname she is called Goose, Lue, Lucy, Graco, and sometimes smelborp. These all came about because of some reason or another my sister was called by one of these names and then they stuck. I call my sister Betty-Linda sometimes because we went on a youth trip with our church and we had to engrave some utensils needed for eating. My sister could not make it so I had to engrave hers too. To show my indignation I put Betty-Linda on her utensils. My mom is called Cita, and the family penguin because once when we were in the snow my mom was in a large coat making her look like a penguin and then she rocked back and forth to try and get warm. Someone noticed she looked like a penguin than to and now it has stuck.

            Percy was a good cat. I say was because he is dead. I was spending the night at my friends house while my parents were out of town when I received a call from my sister. She said on the phone while in a state of hysteria “Bubster the cat is dead.” At first I was taken aback. I thought she was joking. But my sister said “Yes he really is. I came home and I saw him drinking water but when I walked over to pet him I noticed that he wasn’t moving like at all. So I called Mom and sent her a picture and sure enough she said ‘Yep that is a dead cat’ so i covered him with a towel and had Maddi come over.” Oddly upon learning this news I wasn’t really all that sad. We only had him for 6 months, and he was like a walking sprinkler soiling the carpet, beds, couches, etc. making it so we had to use the spotbot to clean up his mess. It’s whirring and loud sucking sound along with the motor that said “Brrrrrrr”, was quite annoying. I didn’t see him that much anyway, and this wasn’t the first death I’ve been through so I just wasn’t really phased by his death. I thought for a second then asked “What do you want me to do.” I thinking about what I possibly could do when she said panicked “Come Bury him”. How do bury a cat in a yard covered in astroturf. “Again what do you want me to do!! I’m not home right now how am I supposed to bury the cat?”. “I don’t care just come home and bury the cat”. By now she was on speaker and my friend and his dad could hear what Hannah was saying. “I can drop you two off if you need” “Ummm thank you” I said and we went over to the house and sure enough when we got there there was a towel covering some lumps on the ground. He looked like a bag of potatoes spilled on the ground. I walked over to the towel and lifted it up slowly. I heard a small squeal then my sister said “No don't” I could smell him before I could see him the putrid bitter smell was absolutely rancid. When I could finally see him he didn’t look very different then when I saw him a few days ago. The only obvious sign at a quick glance was the stained wood around him the stain coming from him. He was stiff as a steel bar and hard as one too. We didn’t know what to do with him.
Eventually we decided to decorate a box stick him in it and bury it. As my sister worked to decorate the box with pictures of his favorite things, I was trying to stick him in the box. The issue was the box was not large enough to fit with his petrified arms. I was a baby trying to put a square box into a round hole. As I bent his arms to fit into the box you could hear him cracking. It was done. The cat was in the box. Percy was dead.

I different assignment: he had to write an obituary for someone (strange assignment but a sweet sentiment expressed)

            My mom is the best person in the world. That’s actually her contact in my phone and she is just so great and she will be missed. Believe it or not but my family has planned this moment before. We always figured that someone would stand up at the funeral say, “Hello Mom was short but her prayers were not.” We never imagined it would be such heartache to lose her. But really we should have known that my mom would be missed. She will be missed because he was loved and one of the most loving people ever.  She would always have fun ideas that could remind us of how much we meant to her. One Valentines day my mom thought it would be a great idea to write hearts of what we love about each other and put them in each other’s rooms then take them down during March.  My mom’s message to me stayed taped on my wall for months.  She was so nice and kind and approachable one time her car broke down in DC and she had to get It towed home, I guess she was just so recognizably kind or something but the tow truck driver basically just told my mom his life story to some random stranger.  But she wasn’t really random she was the best. I will miss my mom the best person in the world.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


working in the garage
Grace loves her science teacher Mr Bice.  She said he's the first teacher she has ever had that likes to hear her questions and doesn't get annoyed at her.
He is also the robotics coach.  They have practice twice a week after school but the kids can stay after school more days than that and work on their robot.  Grace stays almost every day.

Today she brought a drive shaft home that needed some work.
She is learning a lot.  

Yesterday she told us they had a problem with their "chastity" and had to build a new one.  We thought that was super cute.  She has a great vocabulary and rarely messes words up but I guess she's never had to use the word chassis before and just used one she is used to.

She has also tested for the Science Olympiad team.  It's for all the grades so she's not sure if she, a 6th grader, will get chosen.  I hope she does.

We had the elders over for dinner tonight, except Hannah who is babysitting Kelly.  Kelly had her wisdom teeth out and her parents had to work tonight.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


The high school had a teacher work day today.  Yay for no 5:15 am alarm. Hannah really wanted to go to the temple and Kelly wanted to come with so we still got up early and went.  It was very nice.  They did baptism's and confirmations then took an hour to dry their hair and put on their make-up...I had time to read and understand all of 2 Nephi while I waited for them.
Just kidding.  I still don't understand it but they had fun and we took some pictures on the beautiful grounds after.
railroad car restaurant
When we were done we were starving so we googled for some advice on where to eat.  Hannah found a place she wanted to try.  It's less than 5 miles from the temple...but in LA that doesn't mean it's close.  We decided to be adventurous and give it a try and it didn't disappoint.  The girls enjoyed looking out the window as we drove through Beverly Hills and Hollywood.  Also the food was really good and it had it's own parking lot where you could park for free, another treat in LA.

Pepsi product :(
When we got home the girls had rehearsal.  Grace had robotics after school.

Tonight I am going to serve at the homeless shelter.  Then tonight we will have a family dinner of chicken and dumplings.  Budget recipe number 4.  Hope it's tasty.

Alice and the Queen of Hearts
These two also love adventuring.  They went to a Halloween concert with Papa and Grandma and I enjoyed hearing about it this morning from Gram.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


I have been really pondering on what to do with myself.  The kids are growing up so fast.  I always thought I'd get a Masters in something but haven't yet. I have applied for a few jobs here and there and through the years...but never gotten many of them.  Subbing yes, St Mary's City (that was awesome), catering, but really nothing big.  I really have thought a lot about being a counselor over the years.  I like psychology and I like talking to people and people talk to me.  This morning I finally talked with a college counselor.  I would need to take 18 classes and have an internship, taking probably 18 months at the quickest and $40, ooo, to do it.  School counselors make about $70,000 to start in CA so I guess I'd make back what I spent in the first year...if I am smart enough to finish and pass the state exams. 
What to do?  
The other question is if not now when?  I am almost 50.  I would be 50 when I finished and I could work 15-17 years before Rob was ready to retire and go on missions so financially it probably isn't an awful idea. I'd have the same schedule as the kids pretty much which is important since Grace is only 11, almost 12. It is, however, California specific and we want to move out of California??

Visiting teaching is a wonderful program, that is really a lot of fun, yet so hard to do.  I am not sure why.  Time goes by so fast and sometimes it feels awkward, but anyway.  I have a new companion, Holly.  She moved here this summer from TX and she is 30 and has an 8 year old daughter and she is super friendly and cute. Today we visited two of our sisters and we have our 3rd scheduled for Thursday so go us!  
We visited Lori this morning.  She is amazing.  She has 11 kids, 7 of them were foster kids and ended up being adopted or given permanent guardianship.  She is a retired nurse and has her 30 year old quadriplegic son living with them and now her 12 year old grandson just came to live with them.  She has the biggest heart, if not the most exhausted one.  She's talkative and interesting and always fun to visit with.  She wants her grandson to make some friends so since they live in our neighborhood I volunteered Ethan to go to the park and play soccer with him. That should be good for both of them.
Next we had lunch with Tami and ran into some other sisters from the stake so had a big group lunch.  Tami and I have Sawyer and Hannah in common, but I really just like her besides that.  She's always happy and helping and just really fun.
Thursday we will visit Dianne, who I love.  She is fighting breast cancer right now and I hope we can cheer her day a little.  She's a teacher and a quilter and a mom and grandma and she's just neat.
With all these great sisters and visits you would think it would be a little easier to actually go each month.

Tonight was mutual. The boys met and did a service project. The girls went to the church and got ready for young women in excellence, and the ward trunk or treat on Friday.
Lots of good work that done today.

Monday, October 24, 2016


It looks so idyllic.
It was not.
Gathering is always a challenge and then getting people to put down their phones is a challenge.  Our lesson went well enough but the game was a challenge.  There was cheating, there was playing without intent to win, there was looking at the phone and playing a different game while waiting for his turn, there was loud music and complaining and weird noises.  I am not sure why this is a problem but it is.

This morning was overcast and it rained during the night.  That was awesome.

I have been trying to think of ways to be more frugal.  This week I spent some time doing research (looking at pinterest) for budget meal ideas.  I got the ingredients for four of them and so far I have made 3 and they have all been good.  (meaning more than 3 people liked the dish). Two I would make again so I would call that a success.

Crock pot cheesy pasta bake

  • 2 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 15 oz. marinara sauce
  • 15 oz. stewed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 10 oz. frozen spinach, cooked
  • 1 lb. penne/rigatoni/bow tie pasta, cooked al dente
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1½ cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  1. Over medium high heat, brown the beef until cooked. Drain any fat
  2. Remove beef and saute onions and garlic until onions are translucent
  3. Transfer onions and beef to a slow cooker and pour in marinara sauce, tomatoes, basil, oregano, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce, crumbled beef bouillon cubes and sugar
  4. Stir to mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste
  5. Cook for 6-8 hours on low
  6. Cook the pasta till al dente, according to package instructions. Drain well and add cooked pasta, Parmesan and Mozzarella to the meat sauce and stir to combine
  7. Cook on high for 30 minutes
  8. Mix in cooked or raw spinach leaves and stir well
  9. Dish and serve hot

Chili Corn Dogs

8 hot dogs
2 cans of pillsbury pizza dough
cheddar cheese
2 cans of chili ( you can make your own but I bought STAGG, which I think is the best canned one)
1/4 cup of butter

Wrap hot dog in slice of cheese and then in a roll of pizza dough.  Pour cans of chili in the bottom of your baking pan, put hot dog rolls on top.  Sprinkle garlic powder into butter and brush on top of rolls and then bake.

The third one I have no picture for but it was yesterday's curry chicken and rice.  I  wouldn't necessarily make the hot dogs again but the boys liked them and they were tasty.  The other two I will make again for sure.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

sabbath day

Fall, Fall, Fall. It's everywhere.  We had a yummy warm chicken curry for dinner.  Fall meals area always a little more cozy.  Which is yumm-o.

I love this chickita and her lovely fall walk.
Penny Jane in the beautiful fall leaves
We had a really good sacrament meeting today.  The Evans spoke and they both did a really good job.  Something Rachel said really caught my attention and is going to be a point of ponderization for me for quite a while I am sure.
She was talking about the use of the word holy.  We use it a lot.  Our temple has the words "holiness to the Lord" inscribed above the doors, we have the Holy Ghost, the Lord is know as the Holy One.  We think of "holy" as being sacred and certainly it is but the Hebrew word means:
become consecrated (2), become defiled (1), become holy (1), consecrate (43), consecrated (35), consecrates (7), consecration (2), declare holy.  
It gives a different connotation to our understanding.  A  house consecrated to God, where people who consecrate their lives to Him go to worship is full of meaning.  A member of the godhead who is consecrated to our aid, witness and guidance, WoW! A God who's efforts are consecrated to His children's welfare.  Again WoW.  We talk about keeping the Sabbath day holy.  Do we concecrate our day and the time and energy in it to serving and worshipping God?  I loved that idea and look forward to thinking about it in the days ahead.

Hannah and President Crawley
It was a long meeting day today.  First meeting was the Christmas party committee, of which I am chair.  We got a lot done and I'm excited for the big night.  Then ward council. Then the block of meetings.  Then a quick run home and eat and over to the stake center for stake choir practice (Dad), YW special number choir practice (Hannah) and Stake Standards Night (all). Hannah spoke and a YM in our stake.  She did an excellent job. Then there was the musical number by the girls, so beautiful.  Finally Pres. Crawley.  He was funny, and on point and did a good job too (although dad says Hannah did better:) )

We are blessed with some good stuff in our lives.
cats and pumpkins
And in conclusion Steve found a huge pumpkin and look at that cute boy and his little tiger kitten!! <3