Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A borrowed Christmas story

Once upon a time there was a mischievous little cherub who came to dwell among the other seraphim and cherubim in Paradise. He was known as The Littlest Angel.

From the moment of his arrival, the heavenly peace was never quite the same and The Littlest Angel soon became both the joy and despair of the motherly host.

His crooked halo was permanently tarnished where he held on to it with one hot, little, chubby hand when he ran, and he was always running.

And being so small it seemed to take him twice as long as anyone else to get to nightly prayers. The Littlest Angel always arrived late, knocking every one's wings askew as he darted into his place.

His shrill, ear-splitting tantrums resounded at all hours through the golden streets. It startled the patriarch and disturbed his meditation.
All paradise could easily understand why The Littlest Angel would, sooner or later, have to be disciplined. And so he was directed to present his small self before the motherly host in hopes of restoring the peace.

With a heavy heart, he trudged his way to the place of judgement. Standing defiantly, The Littlest Angel tried to pretend that he wasn't at all impressed by such stern words and that he wasn't at all afraid. But his lower lip trembled, and a tear disgraced him by making a new furrow down his already tear-streaked face.

And, as usual, his flaws in behavior were quickly forgiven. For the irresistible appearance of The Littlest Angel always made the motherly host forget to move her wings and she would fall head over halo for him just as she had exactly 4 years, 5 months, 23 days, 11 hours, and 42 minutes ago.

Yes, from the moment of The Littlest angel's arrival, the heavenly peace was never quite the same. But the patriarch and the motherly host and the other seraphim and cherubim loved that mischievous little cherub just the way he was.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Decisions, decisions

The last few years I have been on the ball when it came to Christmas. Sure, all of this year's shopping has been complete since Thanksgiving but I have yet to wrap and place a single one of those gifts under the tree. Usually our Christmas cards have been ordered, addressed, and stamped weeks ahead of time just waiting for December 12th to roll around so I can drop them in the outgoing mailbox. At this moment there is not a single Christmas card to speak of. We never took a family picture for a card. I'm feeling too frumpy and lazy to attempt to doll myself up let alone make sure we're all matchy-matchy and presentable enough for a family photo shoot. But I still have time to wrap those gifts before the big day comes. And thanks to Costco's web albums and online ordering I'm confident that I can pull together a cute card (with just the kids) in a jiffy. But what I'm really struggling with is what to give friends and neighbors this year. I've had some ideas but nothing that's stuck. I'm blaming this all on the pregnancy, of course. The procrastination. The laziness. The frumpiness. The indecision. But if I wait too long I'm afraid a last minute idea will result in a lame and effortless gift that won't accurately portray how appreciative we are for those friends in our lives. We consider their friendship a gift. An honor. Something to cherish and nurture not only at Christmastime but throughout the entire year. Am I over thinking this? Should it be this hard? In some years past we've always given a bottle of Martinelli's with wishes for a Happy New Year. As I was going through last years pictures I was reminded, yet again, of how behind schedule I am this year.

Last year us and several other families were practicing healthy and clean eating habits as we were all determined to reach our fitness goals. Not wanting to interfere and add to the sugar laden delights that they'd already been tempted with, we decided to give them pineapples. Although it wasn't a homemade treat, it was something tailored to their specific needs and goals at the time.

For the rest of the friends and neighbors we had fun making candied popcorn balls. Making and eating these is a childhood memory for me and it was the first time I had ever made these during my married life or as a mother. So although it may have seemed like a simple treat to those who received it, it really wasn't something that was just thrown together in a hurry. It was made with love, enjoyment, and a ton of Christmas spirit!!

For the kids' teachers, the kids dipped pretzels in chocolate then sprinkled the wet chocolate with crushed candy canes. These were delivered in a cute bag with a bottle of.... can you guess?... Martinelli's! This might possibly have been the first time I let my kids take charge and do all of the work while I sat back and watched. No meddling. No taking over in my control-freakish way. And somehow, I think their teachers would appreciate that (if they had known).

So now back to the tough decision of what to do for 2009? My sweet husband has been trying to help me come up with some ideas but his ideas are just too.... male. (I don't really want to deliver a bunch of Pepperidge Farms salamis and Ritz although he thinks that's the perfect idea.) He did have one other idea. He actually meant it for some comic relief but it needs to be told. He said that we need to get down to the real reason we celebrate Christmas and that we should just buy a bunch of cake mix and make everyone small "Happy Birthday Jesus" cakes. I couldn't even type the sentence without cracking up!!!

Now that I've boosted my morale by reminiscing about the organized Tiffiny of 2008 and giggled myself into a bellyache I think I'm ready to think some more about this oddly difficult decision. This post has been good therapy. And a good distraction.

And for those of you who might end up getting a gift that seems not-so-thoughtful and very last-minute.... just know that I didn't mean for it to end up that way. And that I'll do my best to redeem myself in 2010. But until then... a virtual gift for you:

He's a magician...not a beautician!!!!

Whenever I'm pregnant and my husband attends my prenatal visits with me he magically becomes a self-appointed, honorary OB/GYN. Whenever my husband gets pulled over he magically becomes San Jose PD. Whenever we're in a crowded, quiet room my husband magically becomes the life of the party. Whenever we're in a comfortable setting with friends my husband magically becomes a comedian.

None of this bothers me. I'm used to it. I'm glad he's always been interested in my pregnancies and wants to know everything the Dr. is doing and why. I'm glad he's a fun, approachable guy who has the gift and ability to make those around him feel comfortable. And even though impersonating an officer is considered a felony it gets him out of a lot of tickets. (And I have to say that he's only done this twice--in a joking matter--and the cops just believed him and let him go--no questions asked--so he wasn't really impersonating an officer.)

But when my husband sees my boys' hair needing a trim and he gets a pair of scissors in his hands he magically becomes a barber. This bothers me. I've begged. I've pleaded. I've threatened. But when I do these things my husband magically becomes deaf. None of his hackjobs haircuts have ended well. There've been bowlcuts, steps, bells, and attempts at a buzz using trimmers from a pet grooming kit. I'ts enough to make me want to run out and buy a Flowbee!!

I'm convinced he was doing this chop trim with his eyes crossed.

I only see two conclusions to this predicament. #1-- I gather all of the scissors and trimmers and bury them in a deep hole in my backyard. OR #2-- I take my boys to get their hair cut on a more regular basis.

I guess you all know where I'll be this afternoon....

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This isn't goodbye.

You're leaving me. Slowly. Bit by bit. Day by day. You're good at goodbye's, it seems for your silent departure appears to come with such ease. Maybe our parting is just as sorrowful for you as it is for me but I'm much too afraid to ask. I guess I'll never know.

I worked very hard to get you. To keep you. But I guess deep down we both knew that we couldn't stay together forever. Something or someone would eventually get in the way. I think we always knew that our relationship would be touch and go. On again ,off again. You're fickle. You always have been and you always will be. The slightest move in the wrong direction and you're ready to flee. But I'm tenacious. And as soon as I felt the shift I would get to work and earn you back. I would do what I needed to do to keep you. But this time I know I've got to let you go. For now.

This is a good time for our break-up, I guess. I'm thinking about the upcoming holliday season. It will be nice not to have to give you a second thought as I'm enjoying my time with family, friends and the season's festivities. I won't be worried about how my actions could possibly hurt you. When I look back on last year I only remember the stress and guilt that you induced in me. Always questioning my actions and making me pay for it later. This year I am free of that. No limitations.

Of course, that's just me putting on a strong facade. I will miss you terribly. I don't like who I am without you. You make me feel good about myself. You keep me in line. You motivate me to be better. You give me confidence. With you in my life I enjoy getting ready to face each new day. Now that you're leaving I dread even getting dressed each new day.

There is another relationship here that is more important than ours, though. I have to remember that. There is someone else that needs my nurturing. My love. My attention. And I know this someone will not be the flight risk that you've always been. This new someone will be here to stay. Will love me forever. No matter my faults. No matter my weaknesses. That is something that I need right now. I think you understand all this even better than I do. Which is why you are leaving without a fuss. Which makes me love you even more.

But be warned. I do intend to earn you back. This is just a temporary thing. I kow that you can never stray too far from me. I will always know where to find you. And when I do you will have no hope of resisitng me. Go free. Enjoy the time away. Because once I get you back, you're never going anywhere again.

So goodbye for now, Waistline. I'll miss you. See you next year!

Monday, November 9, 2009


I'm trying to play a game of catch up here so this will be a cornucopia post about what we've been up to lately.

Labwork and pre-surgery bloodwork.......... $50

Anesthesia.......... $115

Removal of 2 tumors(probably malignant).......... $130

Fluids, hospitalization, and take home meds.......... $70

A happy, healthier dog (that doesn't have a tumor hanging from his chest that looks like a long, black, flat, disgusting dangly nipple).......... PRICELESS

Bodi has one more tumor on his elbow that the vet said we could remove but it would require removing his whole leg. The poor dog is already 84 years old (in dog years). We prefer that he enjoy his last days on 4 stable legs rather than turning him into a geriatric tripod.

Halloween was a cinch this year despite the 4 different days I had to dress up the kids for their various parties, parades, etc. One dirtbiker, a zombie dirtbiker, and a white ninja and we called it a holliday. Halloween morning began with an old, nosy neighbor stopping by to offer some input on how to raise my children. I know he's from the old school and I know it takes a village but.... he's not a part of my village. My ego is still trying to get over it's resentment toward him. He purchased some See's Candy for our school fundraiser and that should be enough to redeem him but I'm still trying to get over it. Luckily I had a running date with a friend so I had 10 miles to blow off some steam and vent. We accidentally ran 12 miles. Trunk or Treat was fun. For the first time that I can remember there was music, a cakewalk, and a parade! Fun. Ward Activity Chairperson.... if you're reading this.... which I know you are..... next year Halloween falls on a Sunday. Wouldn't it be fun to have a family dance after the Trunk or Treat? Please? Pretty please?

My little brother is now a Daddy. Oh... she is the most precious little thing. And I love how he looks at her when he holds her. Not that he got to hold her too much when I was there. I think I was quite the baby hog. I've always known Drake would be a good dad. Everytime I had a new baby he would just sit and hold them and snuggle them. And I don't think I ever changed a diaper when he was around. He's a real man.... doesn't mind if they're wet or poopy, he'll change 'em all.

Now my kids have some cousins on my side of the family. And I have to take a moment to give some props to my brother. He's a very hard worker and has a goal to keep mom home with baby which I know is a very tough thing in this economy. I've seen him grow in leaps and bounds the last 5 years or so. We're 7 years apart and I'm looking forward to experiencing our relationship evolve and grow now that he has a little one of his own.

We've recently announced to family & friends that we are expecting Baby #4. It took us a while to get to this point. There were highs and lows. Tears and prayers. Long talks and eternal silence. But our prayers have been answered in just such a way that we know that this is God's will for our family. It would have been so easy to move into the next stage of life, especially with our youngest child being 4 years old, and we almost did just that. But Heavenly Father has a plan for us and I'm grateful that our faith in Him and our desire to do what he would have us do is stronger than our logical fears and concerns. And I'm grateful for those around us who are instruments in His hands who help us see beyond what our own human eyes can see. Like Brandon has said..."Don't ever let anyone think we are not high adventure people. Having a baby in a recession? It doesn't get any more high adventure than that." But everything will be okay. It will all work out.

All is well.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


"Enter as strangers, leave as friends."

Saturday night 7 surfers entered my home. One of them was my husband. Three of them were friends I've already met. Three of them were strangers. The three strangers (plus one of the friends) spent the weekend with us.

These men make up about 1/4th of the guys that Brandon goes to Cabo with every May. That means that I was only privy to 1/4th of the laughter, 1/4th of the jokes, and 1/4th of the fun that goes on during their surf trip. I can only imagine what it's like with the whole group present. There's a brotherhood among surfers that is quite amazing to behold. I think it's something that only a surfer (or the wife of a surfer) can understand.

These guys were great guests. Perfect gentlemen. Helpful. Super sweet to my kids. Willing to let me hang as 'one of the guys'. They have nicknames for eachother and even dubbed me with a few nicknames of my own. "T" and "Tiffiny the Epiphany".

They helped fix our broken garage door, took out our garbage, helped my boys show respect for their sister, raided our closet so they could come to church with us, and just really left a great impression on me. They even let me feed them protein & spinach smoothies! I can't wait to meet their wives. (and to reconnect with the wives I already know.)

They would break out into spontaneous song and dance. They harmonized in song both at church and the dinner table. And they even chastised us for not having any Lionel Ritchie on the iPod.

My house was much quieter after they left. Which is sad because we love the chaos and we love having guests. You're welcome back anytime, guys!!!

Saturday night some surfers came to my home. Some entered as strangers. But they ALL left as friends.
Ryan aka "Refi", Rob aka "Rob Base", Lance aka "Lanny or Lancio", Brandon aka "Brando", Glenn aka "G or G-Dog"

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lost Primary Hymn

A childhood favorite. You can listen to it here

Autumn day, autumn day,

God gives richest gifts today.

Look on ev’ry side and see

Pleasant things for you and me.

Apples red and apples yellow,
Round and juicy, sweet and mellow

Load the trees till they bend over
And their branches brush the clover.

Child, be glad with all that lives,
But forget not God, who gives.

Gizdich Ranch field trip 2009 & Applesauce making @ the Asplund's (Conference weekend)

It's nice to be important.....

......but it's more important to be nice.

This is a mantra we've recently introduced to our 5th grader when her pre-teen ego gets a little bit bruised. Unfortunately, being nice doesn't always mean you'll come in first.

.........Or that you'll even come in 2nd (there was a 2 way tie for 1st).

But learning how to put yourself out there, take pride in your efforts, and deal with life's disappointments is priceless.

Friday, September 11, 2009

It's not just for keeping vampires away......

I am now just discovering what many of you probably already know.

A fresh bulb of garlic is the high heel of the kitchen.

You might not have ever thought about it quite this way but if you truly know me then the analogy to shoes isn't such a surprise.

As a new wife, the only form of garlic my kitchen knew was either in salt or powder form. I faked my way through recipes but the food always ended up tasteless and boring. Like a Croc. Bland. I'm not ripping on the resin-based footwear (I have a few pairs myself). But I grew out of that phase. The garlic powder and garlic salt are in the cupboard; on reserve for when a recipe actually calls for it. And the Crocs are at the back of the closet.

Ready-To-Use Minced Garlic was a new discovery for me. For years I've cooked with the monster jar from Costco. It's like a flip-flop. Comfortable. Easy. Convenient. I'm certainly not denouncing the use of this stuff. And I'll always own at least 5 different pairs of flip-flops but let's face it... do flip-flops make any of you feel very chic?

I've recently been trying out new recipes, many of which have called for fresh garlic. Since I've been trying to use fresher ingredients I decided to throw a few garlic bulbs in the grocery cart. I am so glad I did! Not only have the recipes tasted amazing.... I've felt more gourmet than ever before! Mature even. Just as a good high heel gives you a certain flair, fresh garlic makes you feel like you're cooking in style.

Here are two of my new favorite recipes {both using garlic and both very healthy}. Try 'em out. Wearing high heels while you cook is totally optional but if you're cooking with fresh garlic, I promise.... you won't need the heels.

P.S. My picky eaters loved both of these recipes.

Roasted Garlic & Sweet Potato Soup (EASY!)

6 large sweet potatoes

1 large onion, chopped

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 head roasted garlic {yay} ;)

6 cups chicken broth

1 or 2 cups water

Preheat oven to 350. Slice potatoes in half lengthwise. Rub cut surfaces with olive oil and place cut side down on a baking sheet. On the same baking sheet, place a whole bulb of garlic and drizzle with more olive oil. Bake uncovered in center of oven until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile heat olive oil in a saute pan. Add chopped onion and saute until clear and soft. Place in food processor. Remove potato pulp from the sweet potatoes and place in food processor. Squeeze roaste garlic into the food processor. Run the food processor until a smooth puree forms. (Add some of the water if needed.) Place puree into a large saucepan. Add broth and water until desired consistency. Cook on mdium until thoroughly heated.

Makes 10 cups

I reserved some of the roasted garlic, mixed it with butter, then spread on bread and grilled it.

Grilled Chicken & Carrots

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 tsp ground fennel seeds

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional if you don't like spicy)

16 small carrots, peeld (not baby carrots)

3 1/2 cups chicken broth


4 cloves fresh garlic, smashed

Cooking Spray

4 Tbsp plain yogurt

Mix spices in a bowl. Sprinkle over chicken and set aside. Place carrots in boiling water for about 4 minutes and remove. Dry on a paper towel. Set aside. Bring chicken broth to a low boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Smash garlic gloves using the side of a large knife (you want to release full flavors but keep cloves fairly intact). Add mushrooms and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer about 20 minutes. Discard garlic and set sauce aside. Coat grill with cooking spray and grill chicken 4 to 6 minutes per side until cooked through. Grill carrots about 5 minutes, rotating until charred. Return sauce to stove. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and whisk in yogurt. Serve.

I found the sauce to be very thin but also very yummy. We poured the sauce over the chicken and carrots but I think it would also taste good to chop up the chicken and carrots and serve as a soup.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Unplugged in the 8-3-1

Thursday was Back To School Night. I visited the kids' classes while they played on the playground. As I gathered my chickies (like a good Mother Hen does) I noticed a lot of noise in the air. Small planes and helicopters dotted the sky. A fire had broken out in some distant hills and water was being transported to douse the blaze.

As we were driving through town I noticed how dark everything seemed to be. Dusk was approaching and no streetlamps had yet come on. The insides of stores were dark and traffic lights were blinking, if they were even working at all.

We found out later that a helicopter hit some power lines causing outtages throughout many cities. Over 33,000 were left without power for several hours. I don't know how the other 32,995 people handled the situation but this family of 5 took advantange of our "unplugged" status.

While lighting the candles throughout the house we talked about how electricity has not always been right at our fingertips. We read books by candlelight and played with our flashlights. The kids loved it. The dog didn't. He was restless and acting very protective.

We decided to go outside, sit on the trampoline, and just look at the stars. We cuddled on blankets and enjoyed simple conversation. Some of our neighbors were playing basketball in the dark. Some were enjoying their outdoor firepits. And some were lighting off fireworks. (That's when the dog stopped being protective and tucked his tail between his legs and bolted inside... breaking the screen in the process. So much for being protective. Fireworks are his kryptonite)

We knew the kids were too amped up with this unordinary night to settle down and hit the sack so we decided to go somewhere. (Even though it was a school night.) We didn't have a plan, we just drove. It was very eerie outside. Everything was quiet and dark.

We drove back through town. Our headlights were the only thing slicing through the darkness. We were surprised to find that the city's "Movies Under the Stars" was still going on. It's a new thing this year where they show a family friendly show outdoors. Everyone brings their lawnchairs and blankets and watches the movie on a big blow-up screen. We hadn't attended a single one all summer so we parked the car then parked our family on the grass and enjoyed watching some of Hairspray. They were running it by generator and warned us that once the gas ran out then that was it, it would be time to go home. After about 20 minutes the streetlamps started humming and glowing to life. It was a bit disappointing really. It seemed as if the magic of the night was slowly lifting, evaporating away as the light disrupted the pure darkness. We ignored it for as long as we could. The restored light woke up the responsible parents in us and we decided to get our babies home and into their beds. A few of them didn't even make it that far. They fell asleep in the car during the short 10 minute ride home.

It might sound silly but there really was something magical about this night. It seemed that the lack of instant gratification via satellite television and internet access had brought us back to the basics. A feeling of hearth, home, and family replaced the everyday distractions. A sense of community was discovered as we groaned along with strangers as the electricy brought reality along with it. And it was a good mini-lesson for me about being prepared for the unexpected.

I'm sure that helicopter pilot felt pretty bad about knocking out entire grids of electricity but I would tell him (or her) not to worry about it too much. In fact, I would thank her (or him) for providing my family with an unforgettable evening.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

No offense, but.......

You know you're a Californian if.......

.... your 6 year old wants you to watch him play Mexican jumprope.

(You're also a Californian if you wouldn't be caught dead wearing socks under Teva sandals)

Photo taken from internet. These are NOT my headless, poorly dressed children!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Is there a pill for this?.....

This is a first for me. For the past 5 years I have looked forward to each and every first day of school. It's always been a relief to get back on a schedule -- a consistent bedtime, more homemade dinners, actual baths with shampoo & soap rather than counting on the cholorine of the pool to cleanse my dirty children. But this year I am experiencing some sadness over their return to school.

Maybe it's because my baby girl will be completing her last year of elementary school. Or maybe because I now have to go 6 1/2 hours straight without hearing Beau's giggles. And it's quite possible that I'm sharing some of Reef's separation anxiety from his two favoritest playmates... who are really two of my favoritest playmates, too.

But my kids were super stoked to head back to their institute of learning. Reef keeps asking about pre-school. When does it start? Why can't I go today? Why can't I just go to kindergarten now? This is his last school year home with me and I am very reluctant to send him to any pre-school at all!! He'll get sucked into the school system soon enough. Hot Wheels, Teck Decks, and skateboards will have to be traded in for days full of reading, writing, and playground bullies.

I'm jealous of my kids' teachers because they get to spend the entire day with my kids. I'm quite sad over this whole thing, actually. And although I'm not crying in a dark corner listening to depressing songs by The Cure, I'd be lying if I said that my inner child is not on the floor kicking, screaming, and chanting "Heck no, they can't go! Heck no, they can't go!"

And then the thought occurs to me. They don't have to go. You can keep them home! They can sleep in and snuggle with you all morning. You can continue going on daily outtings. You don't have to be on anyone's schedule but your own! It would be like an eternal summer. But you know what that's called?


And suddenly I'm not so blue anymore. As Mercedes' 5th grade teacher so wisely stated yesterday, "Honesty is the best policy..... insanity is a better defense." I do honestly miss my kids but I think I'm just suffering from a bout of temporary insanity. Sorry for dragging you along.

Is it 3:05, yet?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

DO's and DONT's

Some helpful DO's and DON'Ts of vactioning

1) DON'T expect a welcome full of ceremonious fanfare. You might have to descend a flight of stairs directly off of the plane straight into sweltering heat and heavy air. No gradual acclamation to the climate here, people. Those pseudo-smiling flight attendants rush you off that jet faster than you can say "BUH-BYE"

2) DON'T avoid daily visits to the gym just because you're on vacation....

........ especially when you're eatting delectable dishes such as this every night.

(Stone Bowl at Guacamaya's)

3)DO make sure the dusty, dirt road to your surf destination truly is deserted before blanket-shielding your friend on the side of the road while she goes to the bathroom.

Note the truck in the background. It came outta nowhere!!

4) DO bribe the locals. They are very particular about who visits their beaches and surfs their breaks. Payoffs accepted in the form of Chile Cheetos, Spicy Nacho Doritos, and littered cardboard boxes.

And beware of the super friendly ones. They always have a hidden agenda. They may seem harmless enough......
..... but they'll end up taking you for a ride.

5)DO utilize the pool as often as possible. Just be prepared to save a drunk old lady who comes to do water aerobics and ends up drowning. (Yes, this really happened. No, she didn't die.)

(This is the pool at Las Olas and is not the location of the drowning drama.)

6) DO vacation with goofy friends. DON'T pay attention to crazy looks from strangers. DO milk inside jokes for all they're worth.

7) DO body surf. DON'T worry about all the sand. All body parts need to be exfoliated at least once in your lifetime.
8) DO enjoy a week off of your Mommy & Daddy duties.

9) DON'T forget to blog about about your vacation.

10) DO repeat annually.