As much as I've enjoyed Xanga, I've decided to move the family blog to Blogger, where I jointly participate in and author several other blogs. Out of ease and for security purposes, our new blog is located at:
If you'd like to continue to read our family blog and receive updates, please comment below and include your email address. The new blog will be set to private by next week and you'll need permission to access it.
I'm always behind on pictures. It's mainly due to the fact that I am a photographer and I put clients pictures first in line on the editing desk but also because... I just am. I need to catch up! I'm TRYING to catch up and TRYING to organize them all so that I can get some printed and blog the new ones in a timely fashion... maybe.
I just took a few pictures of my sister's kids, two nieces and one of my nephews when they were here for a visit last week and I'm not too far from being done with those. But as I was going through them, I noticed Abby's pictures that were taken 2 weeks ago so I thought I'd post a couple. So, here's my sweet and sassy 6 1/2 year old...
Coming soon... The Rowe kids and Micah's 8 year old pictures.
Life keeps getting in the way of blogging. In the past many months, we've had major milestones such as losing teeth, potty training, big boy beds and baptisms! It's been nothing less than the usual circus with cars that need repair and of course, never-ending home updates. And it won't be slowing down any time soon! I'm going to try to start blogging regularly again and I thought this would be the perfect kick-off.
Introducing North baby #5, to make HER debut sometime in the beginning of January...
Yep, that's right! ALL FOUR of my kids sat on Santa's lap this year! I give them the opportunity every year but they usually decline quite quickly. This year, they actually went willingly!
Two years ago was the first time I got a picture of all four of them together with Santa. Of course, they weren't all on his lap but they were all at minimum, in the general vicinity of Santa. South Towne Mall in Sandy, UT has a pretty cool looking Santa so I just had to take them there to give it a shot. Caleb was 6 months old, Logan was 2, Abby was 4 and Micah was 5 1/2. Caleb was screaming, Logan was looking up at Santa with a terrified look on his face (just before crying), Abby was sitting on the couch next to Santa and was leaning as far over the arm of the couch as she could giving Santa a pretty dirty look and Micah was standing on the side opposite of Abby with a frozen, "If I don't move, maybe he won't see me" look on her face. And that's as good as it gets when it comes to my kids sitting on Santa's lap. I brought it up again this year and as usual, they all said, "No!" to which Micah added, "I'll just write him a letter like I always do."
Then last week at our church Christmas party, Santa just showed up out of the blue! We have a dear man in our ward who grows his beard out every year, specifically for the Santa gigs. Gregg had told the kids that we have "a Santa Claus" in our church but they thought he meant one of Santa's helpers, like they believe the mall Santa's to be. Little did they know that it would be the real deal!
When it was their turn, I fully expected all four of them to change their minds and scoot out of there, but they each went casually and quietly over to Santa. Caleb and Logan didn't cry when Santa put them on his lap and Micah and Abby were as relaxed as I've ever seen them!
As we were leaving, I discovered why they were all so agreeable and happy to meet Santa as Abby said to me, "I didn't know Santa was a Mormon!"
... is taking place as I type this. My dear, sweet great Aunt Lois passed away tonight. She was 90 years old. Her husband and the love of her life, Ray, went home to his Heavenly Father in September of 1993. After 15 years without him, I can only imagine the joy she is feeling in her love's arms right now.
Lois grew up in Adams, Tennessee. She sang in a trio with her brother, Buck and her sister (my Grandmother) Ann. They were playing on the radio when Pearl Harbor was bombed.
Lois, Buck and Ann Ford
Her love, Ray, was a soldier stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky when she met him. The USO frequently had entertainment and dances at the Armory in Clarksville, TN. A couple of Aunt Lois' friends talked her into going to one of the dances which is where she met Ray, her "Yankee soldier" from Massachusetts. They married in August of 1944 and Ray was deployed to war overseas just 10 days later.
Lois began working in the Y-12 plant at Site X (Oak Ridge, TN) for The Manhattan Project not long after Ray left. She was one of hundreds of women who worked at the Y-12 plant which produced the uranium for the bomb, "Little Boy" and the plutonium for the bomb, "Fat Man" which would be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (respectively) and ultimately end World War II. The women worked at stations where they sat at "calutrons" (pic below) where they separated the isotopes of the uranium, making it suitable for the atom bomb. The workers were not to speak of anything that occurred inside the plant. They only knew that what they were doing would "end the war". It was only after the bombs were dropped that they became aware of the power they had been producing.
Aunt Lois was released from her work in Oak Ridge and went home to Clarksville in early October of 1945. Uncle Ray was released from the Army in late October and returned home on Halloween. They honeymooned in Gatlinburg and finally began their life together. Ray and Lois Wheeler had 6 children. Their three boys work and live with their families on the Wheeler farm in Adams, TN today. They served two full time (voluntary) missions together for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Lois was one of the most selfless people I have ever known. I have dozens of childhood memories involving visits to the Wheeler farm in Adams, TN. She and my Uncle Ray were both warm and comfortable people. Always welcoming, always smiling. They were happiest when they were serving others. Lois was a petite woman, tiny even. But in spirit she was strong and she had a work ethic like no other. There wasn't much on the farm that she couldn't tackle. There was always work to be done and she had a way of making it look fun. I marveled at her ability, strength, spirit and attitude every time I was there. She was unassuming yet magnetic. If you spent any amount of time with her, you left positively imprinted somehow. And yet because of her selflessness, she was often taken for granted. I only hope she left knowing how much she was loved and appreciated by those who were blessed to know her. How much she affected so many lives of so many people in this world... for the good.
Aunt Lois left Wheeler farm tonight to return to her Heavenly Father and her eternal love, Ray. She will be missed by those of us that remain here, but oh what a joyous reunion it must be tonight in heaven.
Jennie Lois Ford Wheeler 17 May, 1918 - 29 November, 2008
If there is a such thing as a HEALTHY cake, this is it!
Abby requested chocolate birthday cake with "strawberries and cream" on top for her birthday. Yep! She's quite the dessert connoisseur! Since we've eliminated refined sugars for various health reasons in our home, I was on a mission to find a way to make a REALLY good cake that was sweet, even though it contained no refined sugars and moist, even though it needed to be gluten free. And chocolate! No skimping on the chocolate! This is what I came up with.
For the sweetness, I used both apple juice concentrate and agave nectar. Agave nectar can be found in nearly any health food store, though I buy mine online for less. It's sweeter than sugar so it requires less but it's lower on the glycemic index so it's even safe for diabetics.
Now, I'm normally not one to brag about my creations but this is one that deserves some accolades. Every mouth was full and every sweet tooth satisfied. You know it's good when Jim (my Mom's husband) eats every last crumb without a single sarcastic word and Gregg goes searching for any remaining crumbs for breakfast the next morning. This one's a keeper.
Gluten Free/Sugar Free Chocolate Layer Cake
¾ cup apple juice concentrate, thawed ¾ cup agave nectar ½ cup butter, melted 3 large eggs, room temp 1 tablespoon vanilla 1 cup plain yogurt
1 ¼ cup brown rice flour ½ cup blanched almond flour ½ cup millet flour 1 teaspoon xanthan gum ¾ cup unsweetened dutch cocoa 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder ¾ teaspoons salt (if using salted butter, eliminate this)
Mix liquids and dry ingredients separately and then together. Pour batter into two 8” round greased pans and bake at 350 degrees, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Whipped cream topping
2 cups of heavy cream Mix until it starts to stiffen and add one tsp. vanilla (or other extract) and ¼ cup agave nectar.
The shadow is Abby's head. "Come on Mom! Quit taking pictures and cut it already!"
I just realized that with all that has been going on since October 5th, I hadn't posted Logan's 4 year old picture yet!
Logan and Abby's birthdays are quite close together. Logan's on October 5th and Abby's on November 5th. It throws me for a loop every year. First, Logan's birthday, then Halloween. And before I can stop spinning from Halloween, it's Abby's birthday! And if that weren't crazy enough, my birthday is the week after Thanksgiving and then Christmas is right around the corner! Our wallets take a beating every year from October through the end of December.
Logan is growing up too fast, right along with the rest of my kiddos. He's enjoying preschool and seems to be learning at a much faster pace this year than ever before. He is a sponge and more than the girls ever did, will record and repeat a lot of what he hears. Most of the time that's a good thing, or at least highly entertaining. Needless to say, I am MUCH more closely screening his movie and TV intake these days. The boy in him wants to be able to watch the big kid movies like Transformers, The Spiderwick Chronicles and Star Wars because they are action packed and exciting! He really liked the Spiderwick movie but after repeating some of the sass talk (ie: "That's stupid!") that one of the main characters says, we'll be sticking to the more benign kid movies for a while yet.
Logan comes up with something new to dissect and discuss nearly every day. It's great fun to just sit back and enjoy the show but he often needs someone to bounce his thoughts off of too and that someone is usually Mom due to her convenient proximity. He is non-stop talk... talk... talk! I can hardly remember the days when I thought he might not ever talk. Couple his love of talking with his very vivid imagination and you get hours of entertainment. Whether it's comedy, drama, fiction or science, he could keep an entire television network busy with what floats around in that little brain of his.
One of his favorite things to talk about lately are signs. Everywhere we go there are signs, which make for countless hours of discussion. What do the signs say? What do they mean? Why do we need signs? What color and shape are certain signs and more importantly, WHY? He can also come up with half of a dozen things that a certain sign might mean. For example a pedestrian crossing sign can mean, "People need to stay on the sidewalk.", "Only Dads and kids can walk here.", "Always hold hands when you cross the street.", or "Run fast so the cars don't get you. Ahhhh!". One sign can mean multiple things and the signs with the little black stick people are the most versatile and fun.
Logan also has a very big heart. He is thoughtful, considerate and sensitive. Even at 4 years old, he's still a true snuggler. He has a soft spot for his little brother (though he can be annoying at times too) and most especially his Mom. He is Daddy's little sidekick and relishes one-on-one time with his Dad, especially if it involves tools as he's proud to be called "Daddy's helper". He is Mommy's biggest helper these days too, always setting the table and clearing it and asking me if he can help with anything else. He is almost never in a bad mood and when he is, it's short lived as he can be easily won over with a hug, a little lap time with Mom or Dad, or a shower. His usual happy-go-lucky grin often accompanies at least one eye in a partial squint, a thumbs-up (with his index finger) or his latest and cutest; the wink.
So without further adieu, my 4 year old, smart, scientific, sensitive, super hero little man.
Needless to say, the lemmings pushed Obama into the oval office last night. I couldn't be more disappointed with America right now. It is obvious that we were never and never will be working towards the same goal but such a drastic change as Obama will bring should scare every American. Apparently the lemmings are deaf and blind.
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.
This is a perfect example of just how unique and individual my kids are. On Halloween, they each had very specific preferences for costumes.
Caleb wanted to be a pirate! I'm not sure how his obsession with pirates began but it's funny. For the last several months, he has pretended to be a pirate during their make believe games. "Yargh! I a PIET!" It's improved from "Yargh! I a POGGY!" His costume was acquired through a trade I made with a friend for one of our old costumes. He loved it! And what a budget saver!
Logan wanted to be Bumblebee the Autobot Transformer. He hasn't even seen the movie but he did overhear Uncle Mitch talking about the movie when he was here for a visit. That automatically makes Transformers COOL so he asked for a Transformer for his birthday and thus the obsession began. His costume consisted of a yellow T-shirt with electrician's tape down the front for stripes, black sweat pants, sunglasses and cardboard boxes painted yellow that Gregg cut and shaped for his arms, legs and helmet to give the robot effect. He loved it and it looked MUCH more like a Transformer than the $30 polyester jumpsuit version out there. We had the cardboard, paint, sunglasses and tape. We bought the T-shirt and black pants and paid $7. Pretty impressive,huh?
Abby wanted to be a witch. She's asked to be a witch several years in a row but then changed her mind the last two. This year she stuck to it and she was so darn cute! She wore a Halloween outfit that she picked out from WalMart's clearance rack. Then we added the broom and the hat for a total of $12. Another budget costume!
In true wannabe pre-teen form, Micah went as Hannah Montana this year. She had the dress, tights, and boots already. We bought a blonde wig and a play microphone and the entire get-up cost $8. Although, if I had known that the wig would itch her so much that she'd leave it off most of the night, I could have saved $6. It worked out though. With the wig off, she told people she was Miley Cyrus.
This "game" of sorts is being passed around between all of my Flickr (photography) friends and it's my turn! Each picture represents an answer to the questions below. Here's my Mosaic...
1. What is your first name? (Melanie)
2. What is your favorite food? (Italian)
3. What high school did you attend? (Springville)
4. What is your favorite color? (Green)
5. Who is your celebrity crush? (Heath Ledger...sniff, sniff.)
6. Favorite drink? (Water)
7. Dream vacation? (Italy)
8. Favorite dessert? (Fudge)
9. What do you want to be when you grow up? (Mother)
10. What do you love most in life? (Family)
11. One word to describe you? (Simple)
12. Your Flickr name? (North Zoo)
Now it's your turn! If you decide to do it, leave a comment below and a link to your blog.
Here is how to do it: Type your answer to each of the above questions into Flickr’s
search. Use only the images that appear on the first page, choose your
favorite and copy and paste each of the URL’s into the Mosaic Maker (3 columns, 4 rows). Have fun!