Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bedtime Carol

Tonight I was reading a sweet Christmas story to Rylie and Jocelyn before bedtime. It was about a little orphan boy who heard a cricket making music of christmas carols and led the boy to be blessed with new boots, a new coat, food and finally a loving family. While I was reading I had to stop and explain what an orphan was for Jocee. Then she interrupted me and said, "Daddy, if you and mommy died, then I would just go outside and find a dandilion and blow a wish on it. Then you and mommy would be here!" As tender and touching as the story was, that one really got me!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


The condo had a very nice pool area.  Not only was there the huge pool and two hot tubs, but also a wadding pool perfect for the little kids.  All we heard every night was 
"can we go swimming, can we co swimming".  

Our first sighting of wildlife!  Little did we know we would see this same heard twice a day as we entered and left the park.  They seemed to stay put in one certain little valley by a stream.  Seeing how it was our first sighting though, everyone was particularly excited.  Tanner jumped out right away to start snapping shots with his brand new camera.  

That would be me running up a steep hill from Fire River... not so "fiery" though.  It was beautiful however, and in the summer, I'm sure it would be a lovely little swimming hole.  We were there in mid/late October though.... not so much swimming weather.  I was a little bummed because I was imagining a nice dip in a steamy hot oasis.

We all told Dan it was HOT, but would he believe us??? Of course not.  I'll say this though.. that was the last hot spring he tried to touch... hee hee.

Lot's of walking in cold weather.  It was fun to see Yellowstone this way though.  
The contrast of hot and cold, steam and snow was amazing.


At the Bear & Wolf Discovery Center we were able to see wolves and bears!  Shocking I know.  It was nice for the kids to be able to actually see some though, seeing how to catch a glimpse in the park you have to drive to the northeastern boarder (about 3 hours away) at dawn (about 5 or 6 am).  I know Jaxon and Tanner would be fine with this... but not the rest of us.  Tanner and Rylie also got to hid food in the bear enclosure.  As part of their enrichment they have food hidden around that they get to find.  In the summer months there can be as many as 30 kids doing this.  One of the perks of off season is that Tanner and Ry were the only ones doing it that day.  Jaxon and Jocelyn would have loved to join in the fun, but there was an age restriction of 5 and up.  Something about electric fences and little kids.. blah blah blah... lol

One day we caught the wolfs during an enrichment.  They were given a bucket of trout in their little stream.  It was neat to watch them catch the fish.  One was particularly good at catching them, but not good at keeping them.  Once she would catch one, someone else would steal it.

Here's the kids getting the wildlife talk before they entered the bear habitat.

More SNOW!

2nd animal sighting... this time closer, but still elk.

You wouldn't know it to see these beautiful pictures of West Thumb, but it was a full on blizzard when we started down the path.  I didn't think it was worth the walk.  Luckily a few minutes in it blew past and cleared up.  This was probably my favorite area.  I remember going there as a kid and arriving just in time to see the rangers hauling off a baby moose.... 
fall off the bone tender you might say.

3rd animal sighting:  Mr. Whiley coyote waiting for handouts obviously.  This guy just camped out at the paint pots area in the parking lot.  It was a little alarming to get out of the van and unload Jocelyn then look over and not 10 feet away is this guy staring at me.  *yikes* 

Finally some BISON!

lots... and lots.... of bison.  RIGHT in the middle of the road!

Ben and Jocelyn... so cute.

more to come... dinner calls ;)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Safety for the Soul

It's 10:15 on a Sunday.  Ben, Tanner and Jocelyn are at church.  I can see the church clearly from my front office window as I sit and type now.  The sun is glistening off of all the cars parked in a row.  Frost still clings to every shadow.  

Rylie and Lenore are asleep upstairs.  The house is quiet.  It's an odd thing to be in a quiet house, at 10:00 in the morning.  It's a nice change to be able to hear myself think.  I'm taking the opportunity to actual do that at the moment.  

Last week in primary we taught the boys about the martyrdom of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum.  Two men who died for what they believed was true.  I was reminded of a talk in this last Octobers Sunday morning session.  Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke with more conviction than I think I've heard in quite some time.

I quoted him in the lesson, this is what I read:

As one of a thousand elements of my own testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon, I submit this as yet one more evidence of its truthfulness. In this their greatest—and last—hour of need, I ask you: would these men blaspheme before God by continuing to fix their lives, their honor, and their own search for eternal salvation on a book (and by implication a church and a ministry) they had fictitiously created out of whole cloth?

Just pause for a moment here.  I like to believe the best in people.  Benefit of the doubt is something quickly disposed of these days.  Our first inclinations are of cynicism and doubt.  But pause here to realize the seriousness of our doubt.  These two men were on their death bed.  They knew it.  They were being held in jail by men who were in team with the mob of over a hundred people surrounding the jail.  The implication that they would die testifying of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon is profound.  Such love, such goodness and such a foundation of knowledge could not have come from such fictitious beginnings.

Never mind that their wives are about to be widows and their children fatherless. Never mind that their little band of followers will yet be “houseless, friendless and homeless” and that their children will leave footprints of blood across frozen rivers and an untamed prairie floor.  Never mind that legions will die and other legions live declaring in the four quarters of this earth that they know the Book of Mormon and the Church which espouses it to be true. Disregard all of that, and tell me whether in this hour of death these two men would enter the presence of their Eternal Judge quoting from and finding solace in a book which, if not the very word of God, would brand them as impostors and charlatans until the end of time? Theywould not do that! They were willing to die rather than deny the divine origin and the eternal truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

For 179 years this book has been examined and attacked, denied and deconstructed, targeted and torn apart like perhaps no other book in modern religious history—perhaps like no other book in any religious history. And still it stands. Failed theories about its origins have been born and parroted and have died—from Ethan Smith to Solomon Spaulding to deranged paranoid to cunning genius. None of these frankly pathetic answers for this book has ever withstood examination because there is no other answer than the one Joseph gave as its young unlearned translator. In this I stand with my own great-grandfather, who said simply enough, “No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so.”

I don't know that I've ever heard a better quote speaking of the Book of Mormon.  No wicked man could... and no good man would... unless it were commanded of God.  Amen.  

I was reminded of this talk from Elder Holland as I sat and read this morning.  The article I flipped to was from the Ensign June 2007 issue.  The Quest for Spiritual Knowledge by Elder Robert Wood.  I sat reading of a story when he was 16 years old and finding his own testimony of the Book of Mormon.  It wasn't his humble prayer to know if the book were true that touched me.  He had an experience that you hear a lot about in the LDS church.  

He read one day and the stories touched him in a new way.  He answered Moroni's challenge which is:

"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true;  and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost" (Moroni 10:4) 

He prayed and received a witness of the Holy Ghost more clearly and powerfully than any other knowledge that he had ever received.  It wasn't this that stood out to me however. 

At school the following Monday, he spoke to a friend, not a member of the Church.  He said that he had a list of 50 anachronisms in the book of Mormon that demonstrated the book was a nineteenth-century invention.  An anachronism refers to something that is chronologically out of place, a bit like saying Julius Caesar drove his SUV into Rome.  He told his friend that it was too late, for he had received a witness of the truth of the Book of Mormon.  But he took his list and he kept it.  

Over the years as more research was done by various academics, one item after another dropped off the list.

A few years ago when I was speaking to a group at Cornell University, I mentioned my list and noted that, after these many years, only one item remained.  After my presentation a distinguished professor said to me, "You can remove your last item, for out studies indicate that it is not an anachronism."

Here is where I was touched my Elder Wood's words.  Read the following carefully:

What would my life have been like had I withheld my conviction of the Book of Mormon until I resolved all the questions my friend had given me?

I have often said that when it comes to the most fundamental truths, I have no doubts... although I have some questions.  There are some things for which we must have a certitude that transcends our incomplete understanding and immediate questions.

Why is it important to know with certainty?  Why is it desirable to have strength in and understanding of the Book of Mormon?  John 8:32 says that we "shall know the truth, and the truth shall make (us) free".

Free of what?  Free of ignorance, sin, and the pangs of death.  Not once have I ever in this church someone told to believe what is said.  It is only said, pray to know if it is true.  The lord blesses us through the Holy Ghost to have first hand confirmation of all truth.

What would my life be like?  I think that this is a profound question.  I'm grateful to be able to establish a framework of understanding in my life.  It's this understanding that not only provides an unshakeable intellectual and spiritual foundation, but transforms my life for good.

Elder Holland finishes his quote that I mentioned earlier by saying:

I testify that one cannot come to full faith in this latter-day work—and thereby find the fullest measure of peace and comfort in these, our times—until he or she embraces the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom it testifies. If anyone is foolish enough or misled enough to reject 531 pages of a heretofore unknown text teeming with literary and Semitic complexity without honestly attempting to account for the origin of those pages—especially without accounting for their powerful witness of Jesus Christ and the profound spiritual impact that witness has had on what is now tens of millions of readers—if that is the case, then such a person, elect or otherwise, has been deceived; and if he or she leaves this Church, it must be done by crawling over or under or around the Book of Mormon to make that exit. In that sense the book is what Christ Himself was said to be: “a stone of stumbling, . . . a rock of offense,” a barrier in the path of one who wishes not to believe in this work. Witnesses, even witnesses who were for a time hostile to Joseph, testified to their death that they had seen an angel and had handled the plates. “They have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man,” they declared. “Wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.”

The only way to know is to study, learn and ask.  The only way to deny the truth is thereby the same.  

Elder woods finishes his article stating:

Sanctified by the things we know, we attain the certitude that banishes doubt and fear.  We may confront the challenges of life with "a perfect brightness of hope" (2 Nephi 31:20).  And we shall know that nothing "shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39).

It's been a good Sunday morning.  I feel my saviors love and am blessed in my life.  I testify of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.  I testify that Joseph Smith truly was a man of God directed to translate these ancient plates so that we in this day could learn from them together with the Bible, both the word of God.  I have a testimony that God loves us, that he is present today and everyday in our lives if we allow it.  I know that if we do choose to ask the questions, and listen for the answers.... peace and happiness is what will be found.

Friday, October 30, 2009

What would you do to save a buck?

Would you load up your baby in 38 degree weather and head to Old Navy at 8:00 in the morning when they don't open till 10:00????

Well I WOULD!!

Today they had a sale to beat allllll sales!  Whitney and Jolyne came with me (so nice to have some company to help me scowl at all the line cutters).  The first 50 in the door got a special little bag.  Anything you could fit "in" that bag was 50% off.  Thankfully they accepted our "loose" interpretation of "in"... we thought, if you can pull the handles together it's alllll good.  Still, can you believe I got it alllll into that puny little bag??  I ended up saving 257.59 and spending 153.50... that's 411.09 worth of items for the bargin price of 153.50!!!!  

Might I add that I got 63 items.... which breaks it down to 2.43 per item!!!

I love a good sale *grin*

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tanner Bruce Marchant

Favorite Song:  Life is Like a Jump Rope - by Blue October
Favorite Color: Green
Favorite Toy:  Bakugon
Hobby:  Collecting things: cataloguing, sorting, classifying anything

Tanner Loves animals.  He still wants to be a field biologist when he grows up.  When he's not tormenting his sisters he loves to torment the cats.  The boy is still horrible at making decisions... but he's learning this about himself and is inclined presently to practice the fine art of delegation.  This year he got a camera for his birthday and is determined to take a photo of every animal he sees... so he can remember them all.  He's enjoying the math club and gifted programs that he's involved in at school.  They are working on making a hovercraft among other things.  Tanner is very loving, full of energy, bright, caring and compassionate.  We've had a very FULL year of memories.  Thanks for the laughs Tanner!  We love you!!  

halloween 2008:  Alien Abductee

Easter egg decorating

Tanner at his first spelling bee! 

Up at the microphone

We spent a LOT of time in the sprinklers this year

Going for second!

Llamas in Logan... wait, their alpacas!

A summer full of bowling in Filer

Shoshone Ice Caves during our June "staycation"

Snakes at the Live History Days in Jerome

Sometimes he gets frustrated 

But in the end he's such a good big brother to all his sisters

One of the resident "Pretty" Mantises (as Jocelyn calls them)

Tanner's New Camera

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Yogurt 101

This is an absolute MUST try.  

Ever since I saw someone making home-made yogurt on her blog... I've been intrigued.  

Mainly it was the idea of producing a gallon worth of yogurt from a small little container of starter.  I have to admit though, there's something about the pictures that just make it appear delicious. 

So... when Whitney tipped me off to this recipe from 365 crockpot cooking, I had to try it.  Easy doesn't even describe it.  If you can pour a glass of milk, leave it on the counter and forget about it overnight... you can make yogurt! 

That's right... you've probably been making it for years right?  
Well, there's just a few more steps, but really it's very simple. If you like your yogurt thick like in my picture, you'll have to strain it through cheese cloth as well.  Amazon sells something called a cheese maker for yogurt that I want to purchase.  It basically does the straining for you in a container... I think it would be a bit less messy than the cheese cloth.

We've enjoyed putting on big scoops of failed jams and mashed fruit syrups from this season's canning.  Also a bunch of granola adds a great bite to it.

Anyways... ENJOY, the result is YUUUUUUMMMMMMMo-lishious!  


--8 cups (half-gallon) of whole milk--pasteurized and homogenized is fine, but do NOT use ultra-pasteurized. (Debbie recommends starting with whole milk until you get the hang of yogurt-making)

--1/2 cup store-bought natural, live/active culture plain yogurt (you need to have a starter. Once you have made your own, you can use that as a starter)

--frozen/fresh fruit for flavoring

--thick bath towel

The Directions.

This takes a while. Make your yogurt on a weekend day when you are home to monitor.

I used a 4 quart crockpot. This is so exciting. My fingers are shaking!

Plug in your crockpot and turn to low. Add an entire half gallon of milk. Cover and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours.
Unplug your crockpot. Leave the cover on, and let it sit for 3 hours.

When 3 hours have passed, scoop out 2 cups of the warmish milk and put it in a bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup of store-bought live/active culture yogurt. Then dump the bowl contents back into the crockpot. Stir to combine.

Put the lid back on your crockpot. Keep it unplugged, and wrap a heavy bath towel all the way around the crock for insulation.

Go to bed, or let it sit for 8 hours.

In the morning, the yogurt will have thickened---it's not as thick as store-bought yogurt, but has the consistency of low-fat plain yogurt.

Blend in batches with your favorite fruit. I did mango, strawberry, and blueberry. When you blend in the fruit, bubbles will form and might bother you. They aren't a big deal, and will settle eventually.

Chill in a plastic container(s) in the refrigerator. Your fresh yogurt will last 7-10 days. Save 1/2 cup as a starter to make a new batch.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Birth Announcement

I sent this out last night.  I LOVE photoshop.  I also LOVE email, and digital stuff.  Sure it's no in your hand announcement... but it's created and sent.  More than I can say for Jocelyn's birth announcement.  FYI on that... I'll probably make it this week and post it here... she'll never know her mom procrastinated that one for 3 1/2 years... oops!

How to make Pepper Spray.

We have a bounteous garden this year.  I'm getting SUCH satisfaction from harvesting and canning anything I can.  One of the wonderful items that has far exceeded our expectations is the three little jalapeno plants that almost died in the last frost.  Instead of dying though... they thrived.  This would be such an amazing thing if I could actually eat any.  Turns out (when nursing) hot flavors travel through your milk where they reek havoc on poor babies tummies... not to mention the funny flavor going down.  You should have seen Lenore gaging and spitting. Well, since I'm not touching the things, Ben's been left to his own accord to consume the lot.

So on Saturday the kids decide to have a potato bar, complete with all the fixings.  Ben thinks at this point "hey, I'm gunna fry me up some peppers".  He cuts out the seeds (because he discovered for the first time recently that these are the HOTest part lol...) and thinking he's avoided all evil, he plops his jalapenos into the very hot oil waiting in the pan.  Ever heard of dry roasting??  Ever heard of pepper spray?? well let's just say, one avoids the other.  Before long that pepper had aerosolized all over the house and we had a lovely dinner on the lawn.

It was really quite funny.  Ben started hacking in the kitchen... then Tanner comes down and starts coughing.... then Rylie....  when Jocelyn joined in I must admit I was getting irritated.  I thought they were all just copying him (as they sometimes do) and I was worried they would wake the baby who was sleeping near bye.  Well when I got up (from a near bye room that wasn't effected yet) to go give them all a piece of my mind, it hit me too.  It's hard to even describe... but I know all my less than law abiding friends out there know exactly what I'm talking about.  It's a blast of nasty strait to the throat that makes you cough somthin' fierce.

So... there you have it.  How to make pepper spray.... bottling the stuff for your late night inner city walks.... ???  you've got me.  That will be another post for another day.  I'm pretty sure you can't use a hot bath... maybe the sturdy pressure canner?  lol

Oh, I almost forgot.  A funny side note.  Ben put this small bowl outside on the grass while we were eating... you know so the house could air out and all.  Well, in the middle of dinner he tells the kiddos.. "be sure you put on some veggies".  No one notices as Jocelyn grabs the bowl off the grass and dumps a big spoonful on top of her potato.  Soon we hear shrieks of hot, hot, toooooo spicy!!!  Luckily we had a tub of yogurt on hand that did the trick.  Of course, this just made Rylie and Tanner want to try a bite, after all if Jocelyn could do it so could they.  Secretly I know they just wanted some yogurt though.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Blessing Day

I can hardly believe it's been a week already.  On Sept. 6th our little Lenore Eileen Marchant was blessed.  Ben's dad and step-mom Laurie as well as his Mom were able to make it.  We also had his two sister's Maggie and Helen and his brother Geoff with us.  We were so glad to have all the family in town to see Lenore.  Sunday we had a big lunch... how happy was I to use up a few of those cucumbers that have been running us out of house and home.  It's finally feeling like we're getting settled into our little spot on earth.  I think I must just be turning into a homebody... but it's just so reassuring to know we won't be moving "again" anytime soon.  I'll actually be able to watch the fruit trees grow... 

Here's a few highlights of the day.  I actually made her dress (no, I'm not usually a sewer...) and I knitted her booties.  Those booties are my new favorite pattern and if anyone ever needs a pair let me know, and I'd be happy to oblige... (yes, I'm an avid knitter)

Friday, September 11, 2009