Saturday, October 10, 2015

Busy Saturday!

Two Things I am Grateful For:

1) Friends that pull you aside to get the scoop about your daughter's future plans who cannot wait to help with those plans and is ready to clear their calendar just for it.  Wow! 
Simply amazing!  My heart is full and I am very grateful. 
 Thank you. 

2) My husband.  I'm going to be flat out honest here.  Life hasn't been easy these past few months.  It's down right hard.  BUT, that man is simply amazing and I love him for that.  Today I was reminded just exactly why I picked him.  

From the Camera:

My nephew and his bride Meagan were sealed today in the 
Gilbert Arizona Temple.
Kevin wasn't sure he was up to getting all "fancied up" 
after his fall this past week.  But we got to be there
to see the new bride and groom.
So, glad we were there to see the two of them.
She is a very cute girl and we know Bronson is an 
awesome young man...... are we excited for
both of them.
Congratulations!

From the Craft Room and Other Things:

How CUTE are these little ghosts?  AND, so simple to make.
Love that, with the ghosts mixed in with the other fall leaves.  
Give it a try.  
From the Heart and Spirit:


From the Kitchen:

Pecan Cheesecake Squares
For the shortbread layer
  1. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  3. 1/2 cup butter, softened
  4. 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
For the cheesecake layer
  1. 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 1/2 cup milk
  4. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the pecan pie layer
  1. 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  2. 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  3. 1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
  4. 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  6. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 1 1/2 cups pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. For the shortbread layer: In a medium bowl, combine flour and 3/4 cup brown sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in 1/2 cup pecans. Press mixture evenly into bottom of a greased 9x13" baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes; remove from oven, and cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
  3. For the cheesecake layer: Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer outfitted with a paddle attachment, and beat at medium speed until smooth. Beat in sugar. Add milk and 2 teaspoons vanilla, and beat until combined. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the cooled shortbread layer. Bake for 15 minutes; remove from oven and cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
  4. For the pecan pie layer: In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar, corn syrup, and melted butter. Gently stir in the eggs, salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir in 1 1/2 cups pecans. Pour pecan mixture over cooled cheesecake layer. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until center is set and pecan pie layer is a rich brown color.
From the Schmidt's:

Well, my brother made it through the preliminary round and will meet the producers of the show, Master Chef, this weekend!  We are so excited and hope he gets the opportunity to live out his dream.  He loves to cook and is really good at it.  Go Shaun!!
Now we know who to ask to cater any upcoming events we have.
Hint!  Hint!

While we were waiting with family at the temple a friend came in and immediately pulled me away to a place that we could talk alone.  She wanted to hear all about Danielle's plans to get married.  She said her daughter had mentioned that she saw pictures of the dress and wanted to hear all about it.  I had to tell her nothing is "official" yet, but it's coming and we are trying to get ready as best we can, on our tiny budget.  BUT, I know if there is anyone that can help us on our tiny budget, it's this friend, and she is incredible!  I've seen her work.  She is amazing!
We talked about how busy she had been with helping with my nephew's (the groom) and her niece's (the bride) wedding today as she helped her sister.  Then we talked about their upcoming wedding of their daughter next week.  As it turns out, that wedding/reception will be at a place Danielle and I were just checking out on the Internet last night together.  So, you can bet we are going to go and check this place out next week.  (I can't wait!)
This friend offered up any and everything she had to help us with whatever we needed for Danielle's big day.  Can I just tell you how amazing this is??!!!  This woman does a wedding reception at least twice a month and that's just for her own family, and I have been to two and they are simply beautiful.  I can't wait to have her help us.  Sure, I'm crafty and can do lots of things, but it's nice to have another person's crafty eye helping you along the way too. Oh, the best part...I almost forgot!  This friend has this old Victorian couch she brought to the temple for the wedding photos.  The couple have the cutest pictures sitting on the couch on the lawn at the temple.  Then they used that couch at the reception too.  I was amazed!!  Well, as we were leaving the Gilbert Temple this friend came up to me to say she has a new couch now and it's Danielle's colors and to give her a call.  She offered to let us use the new couch.  Her exact words were, "I have a couch that would work great for Danielle's theme, it's new and it's better than the while we used for her daughter."  I was amazed again!  You know, from the moment I met this women I felt like she and I would connect.  It was like we knew each other a long time ago or something.  That, of course, was not true.  We only met a few years back when I attended her daughter's reception with Danielle and then when I worked with her again for a big Relief Society event.  So, I know we have only been friends for a short time.  I think we may have known each other in the pre-existence or something.  If you know what I mean?  After we were done discussing future wedding plans for both her daughter and mine, we talked a little bit about the way things are going for Kevin and I.  She wanted to know how I was holding up.  She said there was a time when they (meaning her husband and her) went through a similar situation.  She then began asking questions.  She wanted to know how we were able to make it since Kevin wasn't working and how I was keeping my composure and not losing it.  I flat out told her, it's because of our awesome Bishop and ward.  That, in a nutshell, has made all the difference because I know I would absolutely lose it if my ward family wasn't there to watch out for me.  (I hope you know, there are so many things they are doing to help out.  Some things, I don't even know if I should talk about.)  What I wanted to tell my friend was that I know that there are those people or angels, if you will, that have never left my side that literally and figuratively hold me up and keep me going throughout every single day, and that is how I am able to function and get through all of this without totally losing it, and that is the only way and I cannot take credit for that.  It's not because I am strong.  It is only because my Heavenly Father knows I need those administering angels to help me day in and day out so he sends them, and I am eternally grateful for that.  She and I talked a little more and I wish we could have more time to share and talk, but that will have to come at another time.  As I type this I am reminded of the title of a book I bought several years ago at the LDS church bookstore called, Eye to Eye and Heart to Heart.  It was a book written by a woman who was the General President of the Relief Society at that time.  Her name was Elaine L. Jack.  Every time I have the chance to talk to this friend of mine like we did today I am reminded of the title of that book.  I think it's because this friend gets me.  We connect in a way that is beyond words....Eye to Eye and Heart to Heart.  I am so grateful for good friends like this that help me through so much in such a short little visit.  I don't know if this friend understands just how much I appreciate that and I will have to tell her tomorrow at church if I see her.  She is in another ward in our stake so we don't have the same meeting times.  I hope I see her.  

While we were at the temple today everyone asked where our kids were.  It was hard not being there with all of them, at least the ones that aren't serving missions right now.  I explained that Danielle just got a new promotion at work and was in training so she couldn't take time off during training.  Kyle was in Phoenix at another weightlifting competition, and Lexi has been home sick for the past three days from school.  Lexi had a bad migraine headache the first two days she missed school, then Thursday night she got a bad case of diarrhea.  Last night we talked about her possibly going with us today, but she wasn't feeling up to it when we actually started to wash the church clothes and set things out for the day.  I told her that we may need to take her into Urgent Care if this doesn't get better.  Today she has been up a little so that's an improvement.  Now she is taking a nap.  If she isn't a little more better after her nap, she is going in for sure.  She won't like that at all.  She hates going to the doctor.  

We keep waiting to hear from Kyle today.  I text him when we got home, but he hasn't replied.  He doesn't lift until later today, but he went down to help his coach organize and set things up before.  He will also help to set up the weights on the bar and remove weight for each lift, as each competitor takes their turn to compete.  He was suppose to go down to the Phoenix Convention Center yesterday to help his coach set things up, but something happened, and he didn't need to go after all.  I don't mind that Kyle is off doing this kind of thing.  Sure, there are a million other things he could be doing, but let me give you an idea of the things Kyle does every single day.  As you know Kevin suffered a spinal cord injury a couple months ago, due to complications during an elective surgery to re-position a nerve stimulator in his back and now Dad (Kevin) is a paraplegic.  A new paraplegic who is coming to grips with the recent life changing condition he has, as well as learning to care for himself and all that that entails.  As well as learning to maintain a routine and keep up with his strength training that builds muscle so Kevin can actually pick himself up using only his arms.  This has been a major thing.  You may ask, what does that have to do with Kyle?  Well, Kyle is the one that helps get his Dad up in the mornings.  Kyle is the one here when Dad needs to get into the shower to make sure he doesn't fall.  Kyle is the one here to help Dad with his daily exercises.  Kyle is the one here to drive Dad to his therapy and countless other doctor's appointments and tests.  Because Kyle is willing to help and do these things, I am able to stay at work.  If Kyle wasn't able to help out with these things, I would have to take unpaid time off work, because I wouldn't get paid if I were out caring for my husband on FMLA.  Then on top of all of this, Kyle is attending school, training at the gym 4 times a week, and trying to get hired by one of the law enforcement agencies in the area and that takes time.  Time to test, time for your background information to be checked and cleared, and time to train once you are hired.  Kyle is not one to boast about the things he does.  He just quietly does his thing and let's other people believe what they want to about him (I think he gets this from me..that thing about not putting himself out there and shouting it from the rooftops.  He is the type that you have to get to know before he will open up to you.  I am the same way.  So, everyone thinks Kyle just doesn't care.  Some people think the same thing about me too, and that simply isn't true.), which can be difficult because it would appear to someone on the outside looking in, that he doesn't do anything.  Kyle does a lot and has been known to be at his Dad's beck and call, even in the middle of the night.  That is what Kyle is doing with himself right now.  Serving and helping his parents through a very difficult time right now and I couldn't be more proud of him for all that he does.  So, if he wants to spend the weekend competing at a weightlifting competition, I say go for it.  Knock yourself out.  Have fun, and work hard.  I love that kid!  he inspires me to be a better mother.  To be a better person.  He is the type of person that leads by example, quietly, without expecting any praise or compensation in return, and that is exactly what I know we have taught him to do, and what his Heavenly Father is happy with.  Sure, Kyle feels like his life isn't going the way he would want it to go right now, and I feel for him.  I know he wants to find a young lady that loves him and is worthy to attend the temple.  He wants that more than you could possibly know, but the last couple of girls he dated broke up with him.  This last one was really rough.  Kyle thought the world of her and honestly, the sun would rise and set to Morgan in Kyle's world.  He talked about her all the time and he enjoyed his time with her.  BUT, it I guess it wasn't right for her.  So, now Kyle is a little gun shy when it comes to dating and relationships now.  I'm sure he is afraid to put himself out there again.  He will come around.  He went out with a nice girl last week.  In fact, I think the world of this girl....but, I can't say that.  You know how it is for parents.  You have to remain cool and calm and not show any signs of cheering for one girl or another until your son or daughter has made the decision to move on to the next step.  It can be very difficult for me sometimes, and Kevin too.  We want to shout out, "Go for it, son!  She is incredible!!!  What are you waiting for?  You couldn't ask for a better young lady.  She comes from an awesome family, she is pretty, she is kind, she is temple worthy and ready,....Go, Go, Go!!!"  If you do that, it just spooks your children and they go another direction.  It's just not fair.  LOL!  Darn it!  {smile, smile}  So, I wait.  Can I tell you, the waiting is so not fun!  I never thought I would be one of those parents.  You know the ones.  The ones sitting on the sidelines, so to speak, quietly cheering on your son or daughter.  It's like a big giant Easter Egg hunt and everyone is out looking for the Golden Egg.  (I can't believe I just said that!!!)  It's true!!  

I have to stop.  Let's back away Sondra and collect ourselves.  
On to something new...

Have I mentioned that my place of employment offers a 4 week paid sabbatical to every single employee every 5 years?  Well, they do, and I am coming up on my 10 year anniversary next month.  About 5 months I was able to actually schedule my sabbatical, so I tentatively submitted my request and it was approved for the time I wanted.  I can even attach two weeks of vacation time to my sabbatical if I want to, meaning potentially I could have 6 weeks off with pay!!  How cool is that??!!!  Well, it looks like I am going to have to move my sabbatical up a couple of weeks if we are going to have a wedding next spring, which will include a trip to Montana (if we can afford it...big if!) for an open house for the bride and groom too.  I have a lot to do.  I have a lot to prepare and will need all six weeks to do it.  I mentioned my tiny budget earlier....well, we are a DIY kind of family and that means we DIY the wedding too.  I am hoping our household income level changes to accommodate what we will need for this upcoming (not announced yet.  Oops!  I let the cat out of the bag.) wedding we are planning.  Believe me, we will be enlisting the help of everyone we possibly can to help because we will need it.  They say it takes a village to raise a child, and it does...it also takes a village to pull of a well decorated, well planned Mormon reception too.  And besides...what "villager" wouldn't want to celebrate all their hard work and help offered to raise these children?  It's their time to celebrate along side the parents too.  

I know, I am rambling.  Sorry about that.
I should go. Lexi wants me to make my chicken and rice casserole tonight for dinner and so I am cheating by baking the chicken in the over first instead of cooking the chicken on the stove and then cutting it up into pieces.  Baking makes this process of cooking and cutting into small pieces so much easier for me.  So, I will go.

Take care my friends and we will talk again soon.

From the Missionary:

Nothing new from the Missionary yet.  
We know he is having a good time and loving
every minute of his mission.  
I love hearing about it too.
That is exactly what we wanted for our son.
Sure, we miss Curtis, but we are not sad that he is away on his mission right now.  We are extremely proud and love that our son is doing exactly what his Heavenly Father would want him to do right now.  Who are we to stand in the way of what our Lord and Savior want and expect from our son at this time?
We feel it is an honor and a privilege, not only for Curtis, 
but for us to have a son worthy to serve the Lord on
a mission.  What a blessing it is to have a missionary 
in our family.  We love him and want him to serve with all his heart, might, mind, and strength.  We do not want this young man to come home with any regrets.  This is such an awesome time in a young man's life....enjoy!!!  
And write home every week to tell us all about it.
(That's what Curtis has done, and we appreciate that.)

{{This is one proud Momma!!}}

Quote of the Day:

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