Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Do You See What I See?

What sneaky kids do to find their Christmas gifts early...

Unwrap gifts early and re-wrap.

Cut tape off package, unwrap, re-wrap, and reapply new piece on top.

Search attic with friend.  
Watch friend fall through ceiling.  
Witness friends legs hanging through the ceiling into the laundry room. 
Pretend nothing happened.  
Tell yourself nobody will look up.
Play coy when confronted by angry parents.

Look for empty shopping bags.

Shake and measure wrapped gifts.

This is why I try to find the best hiding spots for our children's Christmas gifts.

Not because this sneaky child is Max, but because it was me.

I do fear that the apple might not fall far from the tree.

This year it seems Max is much more aware and curious.

He's asking questions.

He's offering to carry in shopping bags.

He's putting my things away for me.

The other day he told me to take my time while showering.


And so it has begun.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

When Life Gives You Oranges...Make Pomanders.

One of the ongoing debates Leon and I have is about our citrus trees.

They are located in the front yard.

Leon says, "Fruit trees DO NOT belong in the front yard."

Followed by, "I'm cutting them down."

And because of such strong opinions, Leon's brother cut down a perfectly good apricot tree.  It gave the biggest and sweetest apricots you could ever imagine.  And then it was gone.  And so was our supply of canned apricots.  And jam.  And cobblers.  And free all-you-can-eat apricot schmorgasborg.

Okay, back to the battle on the home front...

I love our trees.  They give lemons twice a year and softball sized oranges, juicy and sweet...and practically seedless. 

As some neighbors borrow a cup of sugar or pinch of salt, ours grab a lemon.  The trees make me feel like I am doing my part for the neighborhood.

I don't take the threats seriously, but just in case I make sure every orange and lemon is used.  
Otherwise waste might just give Leon the excuse he is looking for to crank up the chainsaw.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Would you open your door to a guy looking like this?

I normally wouldn't, but I'm married to this one so, I guess I should!

Today, Leon came home in the middle of the day without his key.  

He knocked and I answered (no peep hole to sneak a peek through).

I was a little startled by his burglar like attire. 

 All black.  

The beanie.  

The dirt all over his clothes.
 (are burglars dirty?)
Anyway, he looks a little suspicious wouldn't you say?    

I still let him in, but only as far as the entry.

Lucky for me, he wasn't up to anything more than sharing his taco salad for lunch.

Oh and he give me some unexpected shopping money.

I couldn't resist with asking, "What'd ya rob a bank or somethin'?"

All he replied was, "Or somethin'."

And then after a quick kiss goodbye, he was gone.

But seriously, looks are deceiving.  Be careful out there! 

Happy holiday shopping!  

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ghost of Hairstyles Past.

The bob,

the slob,
The Dorothy Hamill.

I've teased.
and permed, 

and gone au naturale.
I've cut it myself, 
and gone REALLY short.
Had adorable bangs,

and a mushroom of sorts.

But of all my styles this one can't be beat...
It's the mullet.
Screaming 80's and 
Totally sweet!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Magic of Giving.

Waiting in long lines is never an annoyance to me, even during the holidays. You see, I always come prepared for such occasions by chatting with those around me.  This social chatter was once considered a disturbance and I often (very often) wound up in trouble because of it.  But now I see it as a gift.  I love the chance to get a glimpse into the lives of others, even if it's for a magical second.  

What I truly know is that everybody has a story!

This holiday season, HP has some magic of their own and has chosen Moosh in Indy to give away a technology package worth $6,000.  One of the rules (keeping in line with the spirit of a true giveaway) is to share the winnings!  

Because of the gigantism of this gift, I have been stewing over who I would choose to hold my hand to the winners circle.  Here's what I've come up with... 

If chosen, I will throw a dart at a map of towns within a 20 mile radius (as shown above) and then using a phone book flowing with names of town residents, randomly open it, point to a name and WHAMMO!  I will contact this unsuspecting person to tell them this amazing news (as it will truly be amazing and shocking)!  

And really is being chosen randomly really random after all?  It isn't by chance that things happen to any of us... 

Imagine what their story could be.

Imagine the element of surprise.

Imagine the magic!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Mother of The Year.

And the award goes to...
Oh, you thought I was going to say my name didn't you?
Either you are too kind
You think I think that much of myself.
Maybe you thought of your name...
as you should!
Well the award seriously should go to...

My Mom!
Here is why:
I have an oozing amount of gratitude for the woman who mothers me because she does it so wonderfully!  
*I can always ask her for help and she is never annoyed or inconvenienced.  Like the time I was catering a party and got strep (perfect timing, huh?).  As quick as lightening, she was on her way!  She cleaned my kitchen from the party planning aftermath and tended to Max while tucking me in and feeding my husband.  Oh, and after she helped get things back in order, she drove four hours on her planned visit to family! 
*I never have to worry about not being good enough...she makes me feel awesome at everything I do.  I never feel inadequate around her, in fact she has a way of making me feel like I can do anything and be great at it!  She is equally enthusiastic about a good idea I think I might have...I love that.  So encouraging!
*A few weeks ago, she took my boys on her errands so Leon and I could have some time shopping together...all the while introducing Sam to Costco smoothies and buying Max some much needed syrup at WinCo.  A trip to the Costco FoodCourt will never be the same I discovered recently (major tantrum), but that's okay.  Sam thinks how awesome you are (and I'm not) every time he sees the oversized purple drink in line and Max thinks of you every morning he drowns his pancakes with "the good stuff".  You are the best!  
*The thing about my mom that I will always appreciate is how she loves my husband.  He is just as important to her as I am.  I even think she loves him she should, after all he did marry me for eternity right?  That deserves lots of love from my parents.
My mom is the best.  She came from the best and teaches me to be my best.  Thank you Mom for teaching me the tricks of the trade, called motherhood.
Now don't be expecting a comment, she doesn't do those sorts of things (and I don't take it personal).  Her reading this is good enough for me!


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Gift Worth Giving...and Receiving.

What kind of holiday gift giver are you?

Are you the homemade gift giver?
A baked with love gift giver?
A personal store bought gift giver?
Last minute-that'll do-throw it in the basket-procrastinating-giver?

According to Martha Stewart (a quiz on her website), I am a...


These gingerbread snowflake cookies are my favorite treat to give during the holidays!
It all started a few years ago with the perfect cookie cutter...
Then I found the perfect cookie dough recipe...
With the perfect amount of decorating...

I can say perfect several times without sounding braggadocios because it is not my recipe.
It belongs to Martha.
(But I do have a tip...this freezes perfectly!  In fact, I usually spend one day making a variety of cookie dough, wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them to bake another day!)

So, without further ado... 
Gingerbread Snowflake Cookies

Makes 16 cookies
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon finely ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 large eggs
1 cup unsulfured molasses
Royal Icing
Fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling


Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl. Set aside.
Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Divide dough into thirds; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick. Cut into snowflakes with a 7- inch snowflake-shape cookie cutter. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
Bake cookies until crisp but not dark, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.
Put icing in a pastry bag fitted with a small plain round tip (such as Ateco #7). Pipe designs on snowflakes; immediately sprinkle with sanding sugar. Let stand 5 minutes; tap off excess sugar. Let icing set completely at room temperature, about 1 hour. Store cookies between layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.

Monday, December 1, 2008

When Leon Left Me.

Not really, but yeah he did...

When Leon and I were dating, we lived 45 miles away from each other.
This made for a lot of driving...a lot!
One night (early morning) I was driving myself home, south bound 99 when I decided to stop for some gas, powdered donuts and a smallish carton of milk. Oh, the good ol' days.
A few miles down the highway, my car sputtered and clunked its way to the inside 
of the median...then gave up and died!
Lucky for me as I looked across the flowery hedge toward north bound traffic, I found a Cal Trans worker sitting in his truck. Even luckier for me, he happened to be reading of all things his Book of Mormon (ironic, I know). Seeing as this was waaay before cell phones, he was my angel (until my "real" hero could come and rescue me).

I made the call to Leon, hopped back in the car and waited.
I waited.
And waited.
For about 30 minutes.
Then I saw him.
Pass. Me.

Yes, it was no mistaken identity. Leon passed me by and left me alone on Hwy 99. By this time, my angel was long gone and so I sat. Alone. For quite awhile, I waited and stewed over the confusion of the situation. I continued waiting, until a California Highway Patrol car turned on its lights behind me and asked me if I needed assistance.
Ummmmmmm, yeah!!!!

I was first concerned about Leon, WHERE WAS HE?!??!!
So, I called his house and spoke to Jim (a second dad to Leon).
He graciously agreed to come and get me.
Jim did not seem the slightest bit worried (he knew Leon was capable of some foolish things and probably wanted to go back to bed). Instead of worrying or searching, he drove me back to their house saying,  "He's somewhere. He'll get home or call."
All night, I waited. Daylight came, I was still waiting.
No Leon.

Then, around 8:30 am here he comes with the truck roaring into the driveway.

Even though I've heard it a million times...mostly because I keep asking why? how? I love hearing his side of the story:

Here's the condensed version...

Passed the Buick.
Took the next stop.
Got truck stuck in mud.
Truck began to sink in the mud.
Heard "Just get to HER"
Ignored it.
Walked trailer to trailer for help getting out of the mud.
Offering money. Lots of money.
Truck is still sinking.
Hitchhiked in a Trans Am.
Trans Am dropped off in Pixley.
More money.
Called my house early in the morning.
Didn't mention being 10 minutes away.
Hitchhiked back to the truck.
Paid lots of money to lots of people to get truck out of mud.
Drove home to me.

He left me on 99 and I still married him.  But the moral of this story is (this is what Leon says) just listen to that voice that says "Just go to her" and worry about everything else later.  
Lesson learned and I agree...that's why I married him!  

Friday, November 28, 2008

Speaking of Leftovers...

As we all know, not everything is as appetizing the second time around. The number one on the list for me has always been mashed potatoes. They just taste yucko. This is a shame because they take some patience with the peeling and cutting and water boiling and spilling over, ugh. Well here is the solution...wait, those of you who have mounds of uneaten potatoes wasting away in the fridge, don't hate me that I didn't share this a week ago....remember, Christmas dinner! Roast with mashed potatoes and gravy. There is still time. Here you go...and to those of you who already know this, you probably have other tips just as tasty, so be sure to pass them on to the rest of us suffering without your wisdom!

The secret ingredient is...


(could you feel the "Iron Chef" like intensity of my reveal?!!)

A block of cream cheese cut up and mashed into some warm russets or reds whatever your preference, is simply creamy yumminess! Oh, and if you make them ahead of time, keep them warm in your crock pot. My friends, what will you do with all of this time you just saved? A little Christmas shopping? Yeah, me too!

Giving Thanks.

Another fabulous Thanksgiving...

Thankful to have been born into an amazing family.
Thankful to have met my husband so early in life.
Thankful to be the mother of two amazing miracles.
Thankful to my friends who love me.
Thankful to a loving God who continues to bless me.

Lastly, thankful to my mom who effortlessly made the most delicious feast
and sent me home with all the leftovers!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Happy Weekend.

Two birthday boys. Two birthday cakes.
Leon's favorite dinner: Chipotle Chicken Tostadas....Yum!
Do I need to mention how much Sam loved his cake? Look at his face! I'm not sure what made him laugh harder, being face to face with a monkey cake or being able to shove his hand inside and mush it up! It was delightful to watch and a quite exhausting after party...he was up late on a full blown sugar high!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Sam

Samuel Peter Reyes

You remind us that God hears our prayers.
Your name honors a man we hold dear to our hearts.
Your sense of adventure is encouraging.
Your determination is endless.
Your happiness is contagious.
Today has been a day of reflecting on what a gift you are and what an amazing year it has been!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

No Laughing Matter.

Two years ago...
Leon and I were at home watching a movie together.
I was on the couch.
He was on the floor.

When the movie was over, 
and we started to stretch,
Leon got stuck.

His back went out while on all fours.
I asked him what to do.
Then I laughed.
(this is a nervous habit of mine)

Angrily he said, "Just leave me alone!"
So I did.
I turned off all the lights and said "Good Night!" 
Then I skipped off to bed.

A few minutes later, I returned.
Leon was not amused and so I gave up my attempt to heal with humor.
Eventually he got up, recovered and forgave me.

Lately, I have been experiencing serious pain in my legs.
It has been debilitating and excruciating.
He has taken on all of my responsibilities and more.
He even cooked his own birthday dinner.

I can never express enough gratitude for his
willingness to work hard no matter what the task.
In this case, he is caretaker to our boys and me all while 
making enough money for our comfort and survival.

I love him more than ever.
For the future...
I can't promise I am capable of controlling my giggles,
but I am capable of serving with sincerity.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

How we do it.

Carving Pumpkins...
Get them curious.

Start them young.

Or even younger.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Fright.

14 Kiddos, 6 families, several buckets of candy,
eating RIBS in the Living Room...
sounds scary, but it was a lot of fun!

The Mad Scientist and his specimens...
fingers, eyeballs, brains, bloodworms and tongue!

Sam easily distracted the kids with his cuteness and invaded their stash!

On The Menu...
  • Bloody Ribs
  • Spiders Nest Bean Dip
  • Garbage Dip
  • Scary Shrimp Bites
  • Freaky Fruit
  • Dark and Devilish Brownies
  • Screaming Sugar Cookies
  • Mummy Dogs

Plenty of Laughs!

Halloween 2008

The Mad Scientist, Frankenstein, His Bride and Igor

More of our frightful festivities to come...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Little Sweeties.

Fall is very slowly making its presence known here.
Even with 89 degree days, the leaves are starting to turn golden and the days are shorter.
To celebrate, the Reyes family kids (6 and older, that is) came over
for some caramel apple dipping and decorating!

My favorite way to celebrate fall and what better way than with my lovely nieces. Oh, and Max, the entertainer/dancer/dj/singer...he's a crack up and keeps us all laughing!

Xiomara's Masterpiece.

Making "The Ultimate" Apple...
pecans, mini m&m's, marshmallows and mini chocolate chips!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Yesterday I was having a conversation with a friend over the phone, when she abruptly stopped the conversation by shouting, "HOLD ON!!!"

I then listened intently as I heard her shouting and breathing heavily while running...let me just say I could feel her fury from my end.

She quickly came back and said that someone hopped out of their truck and stole her political sign from her front yard. It was a Yes on Prop 8 sign. Her experience left me so disappointed not that there are those that disagree, but that there are some that refuse to "agree to disagree". What happened to that philosophy? She's not the only one...

A neighbor had to remove their Obama signs from their yard, because they continue to be stolen.

A friend had their home vandalized along with their signs.

Signs continue to be stolen from many yards supporting different and important causes.

How sad, it literally brings me to tears. Leon reassuringly agrees that I am a sensitive soul and reminded me of his youth...

Perot vs. Bush (the first one). One night Leon and friends stole dozens of "Perot" signs and put them up on every square foot of the front lawn of a person who they knew STRONGLY opposed Perot. The vision of Perot overkill growing in this neighbors flower beds was hilarious to the boys. I'm sure the boys gave the thievery part of the prank no second thought because it was purely for laughs and was "just a sign".

But to some it's not just a sign. To anyone who takes a stand, and declares it on their property, it's not just a sign. So in honor of my great upbringing and the diversity of views I heard at the dinner table...take a stand, agree to disagree and vote!

Monday, October 13, 2008

No Apologies.

I was talking to a friend about what a busy week it had been for me. It's seems like in my life, it's all or nothing and this week was a lot to deal with! The worst part was that for a couple of days, dirty breakfast and snack dishes accumulated and piled up in the sink. In response to this confession she said, "I admire that you can do that." I really wasn't expecting that kind of response and it caused me to think a bit. Looking back on the week, what we did make time to do instead of dishes was so much more important.

We cuddled, we ate, we played, we read, we talked, we did homework, we gave service, we prayed, we worked together.

There was a lot of, "What can I do to help?" Leon even offered to make dinner 2 nights (Japanese rice bowls and drive through) and it was thoughtfully delicious! Max helped me make signs for 20+ school carnival booths! Sam even helped by taking a long morning nap!

I love that as I shared what is usually not bragworthy...she didn't judge me, but helped me to recall how I spent my time best!

Oh, and check out the fun we had at the school carnival too!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Updating The Resume.

We are happy to add "Cafeteria Worker" to Max's list of job experience, as today he was assigned to handing out the milk.

Max: "Regular or Chocolate?"
Kid #1: "The usual."
Max: "What kind do you want?"
Kid #1: "The usual."
Max: "This one (regular) or This one (chocolate)?"
Kid #1: "Ummm...white."
Max: "Geez."

Max: "Regular or Chocolate?"
Kid #2: "Chocolate and hurry up!"

Max: "Regular or Chocolate?"
Kid #3: "Chocolate, please."
Max: "Here you go."
Kid #3: "Thank you."
Max (Shocked): "Your Welcome!"

Apparently, being the milk helper is HARD WORK! Not only do you have to deal with kids being indecisive, rude, demanding and confused by the obvious, but you have to be patient with them at the same time! Huh! That must be really challenging, ya think?!??! But sometimes, you get a kid that is actually polite and grateful for your hard work...and it's quite shocking!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Any Ideas?

So, as you can see Sam has some teeth. As you can also see, they are not exactly placed ideally or symmetrically for that matter...and I have some serious issues with symmetry, but that's for another discussion.

With Halloween approaching we have come up with a few costume ideas that fit Sam's smile...


Hockey Player.


Any other ideas?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Birthday Weekend.

football game

general conference snacks


pesto ravioli

football cake