Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dancing Up Wishes-The Kaidan Special

A blurry photo of Kaidan peeking around to see me snapping this photo.

Yesterday was a great day at the Utah Feis.  My dancers walked away with medals and trophies galore and  I will post photo's and placements for my kids soon, but I wanted to show everyone a very special girl, first.  She has captured my heart and I adore this child, like she is my own.  

I've blogged, Twittered, and Facebooked about Kaidan and her fight with Leukemia several times.  You can read my blogs by clicking on the "Kaidan" label in the right-hand column.  

Kaidan was introduced to the dancers, adjudicators and everyone present.  Jill did a remarkable job and I appreciate her taking over.  Just telling Jill what things she might want to say made me choke up.  I'm tearing up just writing this.  This little girl has a piece of my heart and I know our school is rallying around her as she fights her leukemia.  We are fighting with her. 

Below is our loved and appreciated *TCRG, Jill Crawford, honoring Kaidan. 

If the video is hard to understand, basically Jill tells everyone what a strong fighter Kaidan is and how she loves to Irish Dance. She presents her with the quilt (that was handmade by a very talented dance mom.  Jill didn't say that, but I know the mom and I wish I had her talent!) and tells Kaidan that the quilt was made to help her through her treatments.  She then explains that 100% of the proceeds from "Dances Up Wishes-The Kaidan Special" will be given to Kaidan's family for her medical expenses.   

Kaidan received a huge applause and, at that moment, my amazing love for the Irish Dance community grew ten-fold.  We may be strong competitors, and us mom's may be a little feisty when it comes to our own dancers, but we sure rally around each other when one of our own is suffering.  

Kaiden, her dad, and big sis watching the dancers compete in her very own special. (Notice the beautiful quilt in her lap?  Thanks Anonymous Irish Dance Mom with a big heart!)

I doubt there was a dry eye in the house.  We are so thankful that Kaidan was well enough to attend the feis and be present to see these dancers honor her.  I found out yesterday through Kaidan's CarePage that she had a fever the night before the feis and was released from Primary Children's Hospital at 3:00 AM.  Her family then made it to the feis and Kaidan was taken back to the hospital Sunday morning with a 102.8 fever.  

Please keep Kaidan in your prayers!  An update from her mom this afternoon :

second verse, same as the first...

Posted 11 hours ago
About 3:00 in the morning I headed up to PCMC with Kaidan. She had another fever, 102.8. We got home around 8:30. Her counts are still great, even a little better than yesterday. I'll update more soon...

Kaidan, you are in our prayers sweetie!

TCRG: The Irish Dancing Teachers Examination administered by the governing body of Irish dancing worldwide,An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha. When a person is said to be a "TCRG" or has their "TCRG", it would mean they have passed their Irish Dancing Teacher's examination and are recognized by An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha as having been awarded that distinction. 

Monday, June 22, 2009

Utah State Championships and Feis

I am here and yet, I'm not.  My mind is currently filled with all that is Irish Dance and none of that cleaning, cooking, organizing stuff.  You know, in case you were wondering. 

This weekend is Crawford School of Irish Dance's once a year competition that our school puts on and let me tell's a lot of work.  Dancers come from all over the Western US (usually, though some come from other parts too if they are in the area) to compete and it's amazing to watch.  If anyone is in Utah this weekend, and you love cultural experiences, try to make it over to our Feis

Along with lots of dance classes for the kids the past few weeks, our last dance class with Jim from An Daire, and Team classes, I've also been busy working at my part-time job and being a mom.  The most important of all, you know.  

So, you'll excuse me if I step away from Semi-Organized Mom for another few least until the feis is over.  That's a reasonable request, isn't it?  I promise to return on Sunday with photographs and possibly video!  Hey now...I wouldn't post video of my kids actually dancing in the feis... that would be against the rules.  I will, however, post some video of the kids doing other things and maybe even dancing a reel or jig...just for you.  On Saturday, I will be Twittering my Feis happenings and dancers results throughout the day, so watch my sidebar for updates.

Until then, here are two past feisanna photo's to keep you satisfied.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sundance Sunday

We had a great Sunday and it didn't involve organizing, cleaning or cooking.  All fun things, except this was much more exciting. 

Provo Canyon is beautiful this time of year.  I love all the different shades of green, the smells and the sounds.  Rushing water is my favorite (unless I need to "go") and this year there has been an abundance of strong, rushing water.  The rivers are very high and the current is strong. With strict instructions from me, Rob was able to contain his over-protectiveness and let the kids have a good time.  We didn't get to spend more than ten mintues at Bridal Veil Falls because it started pouring.  I didn't realize that Nana could run so fast.  Go Nana!!  

So, we headed up to Sundance where, you guessed it, it started raining.  After ten minutes it started to let up and then we just had to deal with a few sprinkles here and there.  All in all, it was a beautiful day!

We spent the afternoon exploring Sundance with my (L-R) Aunt Margie, Nana, and my mom. Aunt Margie is visiting from Kansas City and we are so happy to have her here.  They are headed down to St. George this week for some fun in the sun.  I hope it is much warmer and dryer than it has been up here.  

Brenden - 15

Braden - 15

I just love these steps at Sundance. 

This beach cruiser is exactly the kind of bike I want.  The seat is big, which should make things a bit more comfy when riding and I love the beach look. Someday I will get one of these.  How fun would it be to ride around and get exercise on something this fun!  

Caleb was "fishing" with just a stick.  Luckily there weren't any fish (that we could see) as I'm sure they would have been quickly speared for sport.

I love this  part of the falls.

The following photographs are my attempts to catch the sheer beauty of this flower....

Uggh...the background is in focus, but the flower isn't.

Yet again, semi-focused foilage.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Garlic Chicken & Asparagus w/ mini Farfalle pasta

Two recipes in one day?  Ahh...the luck of the Irish isn't too far away me laddies!

This is a really yummy dish that I whipped up without a recipe.  GASP!  I am the one that cringes when a scoop of flour isn't leveled off properly.  So, to be completely honest, I did google "garlic butter noodles" just because I didn't want to put 5 lbs of butter in my dish when it should only be a few tablespoons. Guidelines people, guidelines.  I didn't follow the recipe, just took into account the serving amount and ingredient amounts so I could adjust mine as needed.

I don't really have measurements because I just added stuff here and there, but I'll try to recreate it for you.  I apologize for the colors in the photograph.  You see, my camera...  Well, it's just that, I took this photography class and....

.....oh nevermind. 

My kids loved it and Rob said it was something he would want me to make again.  My standard question, on new recipes or things I make up, is "Did you like it?  Huh? Huh? Is this something you would want me to make again?"  

Garlic Chicken & Asparagus w/ mini farfalle pasta.

Serves: 7
2 adults, 3 teenage boys, a hungry 1o yr old girl and an "I only like the chicken." 7 yr old boy.  

5 boneless-skinless chicken breasts
olive oil (I used total about 2.5 cups)
garlic powder
16 garlic cloves
butter (optional)
Barilla mini farfalle pasta (I love the mini's!!!)
Italian seasoning

1. In a large skillet, brown the chicken with a few tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat.  Sprinkle garlic powder on the chicken and again on the other side once the first side is done. I leave the lid askew to let the steam escape slowly.  I don't want the chicken to boil, but I do want it moist.  I'm getting better with cooking chicken.  It's really a science on keeping it moist and flavorful.

Tip: For a lower fat option (with great flavor) you can use chicken broth instead of olive oil to cook the chicken.  

2. While chicken is cooking, start the pasta following directions on the package.

3. When chicken is done set aside on plate (or clean cutting board) to rest.  Letting chicken rest allows the juices to marinate for a bit before you cut into it.

4. Pour about a cup of olive oil in the same skillet as the chicken was.  Do not clean it out.  That's yummy flavor in there.  Keep heat on medium-low.  Add garlic to olive oil.  Add butter if you wish.  I think I added about 5 Tbsp.  Add in Italian seasoning...just a few shakes will do. Stir well making sure the temperature does not raise so much that the garlic burns.  Add in chopped fresh asparagus.  Cover skillet to help steam the asparagus.  When asparagus turns bright green it's done.  You do not want to let it steam too much or it will get soggy.  

5. Drain pasta (it only takes 7 minutes to cook) and return to it's same pan.  

6. Cut chicken into strips and add to pasta pan.

7. Pour sauce mixture over pasta & chicken.  Toss until well coated.  You don't want so much oil that it's over-bearing.  Just enough to coat the ingredients.  The flavor is in the garlic, so if you love garlic... use more, if you like garlic... use less.  

Serve w/ french bread and a salad, or you our case, Banana-Banana Bread.  

Enjoy!  My family sure did.

Banana-Banana Bread

Yesterday evening, Rob came home from a long day at work and took the kids to the pool so I could finish baking banana bread.  I really needed to use the bananas or Rob would surely throw them out.  He's done it before and hasn't learned his lesson.  

I found banana's a week or so ago for $.39 cents a pound, which of course meant I needed to buy several pounds.  Within that week, I had purchased another several pounds hoping I would have enough left over to make banana bread.  I did.  

Brenden asked if he could help, so I thought this would be a great way for us to hang out.  I showed him the recipe and he went to work.

First we peeled 23 bananas and mushed them up.  My Banana-Banana Bread recipe calls for seven bananas, so I figured it would be about 3 heaping cups.  Brenden is a pro at handling my Kitchen Aid.  He's very careful with it and makes sure he's doing everything "just right".

When Casey asked if he could help crack the eggs,  Brenden replied, "Not today.  I just learned how to break them perfectly."  Huge emphasis on "perfectly".  Oh and this 15.6 year old young man even shared the beater with the brother he wouldn't let help crack the eggs.  

Can I get an "Awwwww!"?

Each batch made 2 loaves and we made three batches.  We were able to get four large loaves and 6 larger mini loaves.  

Banana-Banana Bread


1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
7 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs, slightly beaten
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda

You can add in mini-chocolate chips, coconut, raisins, nuts or even dried fruit if you wish.


Makes two loaves.

1. Cream the butter and sugar. Blend in the bananas, vanilla and eggs.

2. Whisk together the dry ingredients.

3. Add to the banana mixture and mix until just combined. Pour into two greased 9x5 inch loaf pans.

4. Bake at 350F. Check on the bread after 35 minutes (it may take up to 60 minutes). Banana bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the banana bread in the pan for 10 minutes then cool completely on a wire rack. 

If you like more banana flavor then this is the recipe for you!  Let me know if you try it.  

Monday, June 8, 2009

Just call me "Oscar"

I've been feeling a little off lately, though I'm not sure why.    

I haven't had any desire to take photographs and I adore photography.  I picked up an HTML book from the library and haven't even cracked it open, but I've longed to learn how to develop my own web pages.  I've tried to read a book about clutter and my mind wanders, yet I breathe organization.  What's up?

I guess I'm just selfish, tired and grouchy.  When things do not go the way I hope they will, it makes me feel like I've failed.  Like I didn't do, or couldn't do, enough to get it right.  Why do I do this to myself? I also seem to get down about the silliest of things.

Example #1

I got books from the library and watched a tremendous amount of Youtube videos on how to make a sourdough starter so that I, too, could make sourdough pitas or pancakes.  My endeavor failed and while I learned that "Hooch" is also known as "Moonshine", I cannot, for the life of me, make my own sourdough starter. Wait...I can make it and it does form bubbles and hooch and it smells sour, but it does not rise bread.  Of course not.  Why should it?  It's sort of like the fish I once owned.  I could feed it and talk to it, even give it a clever name, but it would die much too early because fish and sourdough just do not like me.  Do wild yeast spores actually care if I make anything out of them?  I'm sure they are happy that I've provided a wonderful place for them to feast and play huge tricks on me.  Meanies!

What should do?  Try again.  Keep at it.  I'll get it eventually.  I'm a great cook and I can bake with the best of them, so don't give up.  "Hey grumpy lady! Why don't you just walk in your kitchen and sniff...I'm sure those very ripe banana's could be made into 4-5 loaves of yummy banana bread.  Mmmmm! Plus, if you don't hurry and use them your husband will toss them out and then you'll be really mad.  I'm just sayin'."  

What do I want to do? Cry. Give up. Silly huh?  "Oh, Woe is me.  I'm a failure.  I can't learn via youtube videos or reading a thousand different versions of how to's.  I need someone to show me how and then I can do it perfectly."  

Example #2

I took a photography class to learn more about my camera.  The one I thought was a good one. We paid a lot of money for it and I loved it.  It took much better photos than my previous camera and the video was amazing.  I wanted to learn how to get in close without making my subject blurry (among other finer details).  I had failed photography in my sophomore year of High School, but even though I didn't want to take the time to learn about how to develop my own film (isn't that what one hour photo's were for?), it didn't mean I hated taking pictures.  I wanted to show that I could learn photography, that I did have a passion for education.  So I gave myself a Birthday present. After a couple weeks in the class, I realized that my camera wasn't really what this class was for.  Sure, it had some manual settings (which I did learn how to use), but my teacher took the time to go over my camera with me and I left the class wondering if I should even go back.  He didn't knock my camera, he just told me that my camera would not be able to capture the type of photographs I wanted.  No matter, I stayed in the class and learned as much as I could.  Asking my classmates if I could handle their camera's allowed me to get a feel for what I wanted.  A Nikon D90 or a Canon Rebel...something like that.  It also left me feeling very envious of these people.  I mean, some of them had $2000 cameras and $200 camera bags,  yet they didn't even know what an "F-Stop" was.  I know more than I want to about my camera at this point.  Ignorance is bliss.  Part of me wishes I never took that class to begin with.  HA!  Furthering my education, by taking a community class, has left me pining for a DSLR.  Heck, I'd even settle for a used one with a decent lens.  

What should I learn from this?  That I'm selfish and a complainer.  That I should look at what I do have and be thankful for those things.  Healthy children, a kind and loving husband, a wonderful mother who I adore and am grateful for, having more time with my Nana,  friends, my faith....there are so many things I am grateful for.  Don't get me wrong though, I still want a camera.  Of course.

(Yawn) I am ready to take my grouchy self to bed.  Maybe a good night's sleep will get me out of this funk.  Oh and praying for sweet Stellan (and his mama) & April Rose (and her mama) will help, too.  

On a happy note: I get to send off the produce bags today (6.9.09).  I love making someone's day!!!  

Thanks for listening to me whine.  I've always wondered where my daughter gets her high quality whine from.  (Ahem)  

Friday, June 5, 2009

Without further delay......

I've employed my boys (all five of them) to help with this give-away.  We even have a special surprise, so don't stop the video until the end.   

I'm not sure why Braden sounds like he is drunk, he's 15....enough said.


If you are the winner, CONGRATS!!!  Please get ahold of me so I can get your mailing information.  :)

Hard Habit to Break

You have to click the play button above in order to set the stage for my post. Go ahead, don't be afraid to be transported back to your youth.

First things first. Did you want to marry Peter Cetera, too? His voice made me weak in the knees and if I didn't dedicate every Chicago ballad to one of my boyfriends, I'm sure Richard Marx took up the slack.

Back then we all had big hair and looked really funny. See?

Most of my KCMO peeps will remember me looking like this.
-Me at 15-

I absolutely loved my tail. So much, in fact, that I've kept it in a memory box since the day I cut it off on July 23, 1992. This day also happens to be one of the happiest days of my life, when I married this guy.

No matter what anyone thinks of nail biting, it's a nervous habit. Don't believe for a second that the nail biter likes what they are doing.

As long as I can remember, I've always been embarassed by how my nails looked and up until a few weeks ago, I still bit them. In fact, within the two weeks before my tooth was to be extracted and braces put on, I bit them worse than I ever had. They bled, stung and ached. No matter how short my nail was, my teeth would always find a tiny sliver to gnaw on. Should any nail begin to grow, I would immediately bite it down. What I couldn't get with my teeth, I would chop off with cuticle snips. When there wasn't any nail to bite, I would start cutting my toenails.

I don't remember when I started the habit, I just know I've tried everything to stop. I closed my hands during every picture (when I remembered) just so my ugly fingers wouldn't be photographed. In fact, you can see my hand placed just so over Rob's shoulder in our wedding invitation photo above. That's not where the photographer placed my hands. I moved them up and over his shoulder. Sneaky, I know.

I even put on acrylic nails just to bite them off, too. My first set of acrylic nails (about 15 years ago) lasted me a whopping three hours. Yeah, that was a total waste of money. Three years ago, I went on this big acrylic nail kick and paid lots of money to have pretty nails. I was embarassed when I had to show details to my clients with my nubby fingernails. I had to point out things to my clients and I always wondered if they were grossed out. I was. Still, not even secretly loathing my nasty habit helped kick it.

A few weeks ago, right before my dental stuff started, my mother, my husband, and I were invited to attend a dinner for the Utah Association for the Deaf (UAD). I was wearing this beautiful dress, my hair was georgous and I knew my husband was going to look amazingly handsome. All I could focus on were my fingers, so I went to a nail school and had acrylic nails put on again. I found the least expensive place in case I bit them off, again. The nail technician had to put a base layer on because I had bit them so short. It's a good thing he did because they didn't even try to pop off, like the other ones.

My attitude changed immediately. I felt beautiful and did my best to keep them out of my mouth. It was hard, but I managed. A week later I got tooth extracted and braces put on. I haven't been able to bite my nails due to the braces, it's just too difficult. Plus, I worry that I will break a bracket if I even try.

I've pulled off my growing out acrylic nails and am going to start taking care of them. I'm excited to see my real nails grow and hopefully they'll be strong enough to at least sit just above my finger tip. I hope biting them hasn't destroyed my nail beds and I'll be left with nubby fingers for the rest of my life. I have sixteen + months to rid myself of this nervous habit, grow beautiful nails and accomplish something I thought I'd never be able to do.

Here they all their after acrylic nails glory. Well, except for the lonely thumb nail that's taking forever to loosen.

Oh well, it's good to scratch with. Take a look at my left pinky nail. Whoo-hoo! That's the longest I've ever let them grow before biting them off. Where the white starts is where I would bite them down to. Some of the acrylic nails pulled off what grew (so they are shorter) and of course there are several layers of nail that were removed with them.

Nail biting is definately a Hard Habit to Break! Now scroll back up and hit play know you want to.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Produce Bag Give-Away Update

I really do love giving away things, its just finding the time to sew my produce bag holder-invention type thingie has been quite a problem.  I can't send you the bags without the produce bag holder-invention type thingie, ya know.  It wouldn't be right.  

I've worked every day this week and still will be working tomorrow.  Friday will be my day off,  but that will (hopefully) consist of laundry, laundry, cleaning, library and laundry.  I appreciate everyone's patience and excitement.  You really should be excited.  In fact, I'm so excited I am going to start sewing the bag as soon as I finish this post.

I will close the contest at midnight MST tomorrow (6/4/09).  I will then write everyones name on a piece of paper and let one of my beautiful children pick a lucky winner.  Watch for the announcement because it's going to be a big surprise!!!