Teacher Appreciation Gift

If anyone’s looking for a last minute end of the school year gift for that special teacher your kids had this year, this one is so simple to whip up but it won’t look like you saved it for the last minute. Everyone wins.

I got this idea and printable from The Fickle Pickle.  Such a cute idea!





Doritos Chicken and Twice Baked Mashed Potatoes


We sure do love Doritos in this house, and we love baked “fried” chicken.  So any recipe combing those two is sure to be a big hit.

DORITOS chicken

5 chicken breasts cut into strips

2 cups Flour

2 Eggs

1 bag Doritos, crushed

Once the chicken is cut into strips, you dredge in flour, dunk in egg, cover in crushed Doritos, then place on baking sheet.  Bake at 400 for 35 minutes.


Twice Baked Mashed Potatoes

8 med size potatoes

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

2 cups grated cheese

4 green onions diced

1 jar Hormel bacon slices

Cut potatoes, boil, and mash them with the milk and butter.  Add rest of ingredients, saving some cheese for the top, and place in baking dish.  Bake at 400 for 30 min and devour.  So much easier and just as tasty as twice baked potatoes.

Spicy Bacon Chicken Alfredo


It’s been a while since I experimented with pasta. I’ve been quite lazy lately, just a meat, sauce and noodles kind of gal. But the other day I threw this together, and not only was in just as easy, but it was 100 times more delicious.

Spicy Bacon Chicken Alfredo

1 box fettuccine noodles

1 jar Ragu Alfredo sauce (or make your own)

1 jar bacon pieces

1 jalapeno diced

1 tsp red pepper flakes

2 chicken breasts, shredded

I boiled chicken for about 40 minutes until it was shred-ready.  Then I boiled the noodles in the leftover chicken broth.  I like to think it made a difference 🙂  I shredded the chicken while the noodles were boiling and added the bacon, jalapeno, red pepper flakes and sauce.  When the noodles were done and drained, I mixed it all together.  Seriously one of our new family favorites!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Birthday Party

I apologize for lack of pictures.  This always happens on party day.  I get so distracted trying to keep the pizza sauce out of my carpet and the ice cream sandwiches out of the bathroom, that my camera gets sorely neglected.

I did have fun throwing this party though.  It was just the right mixture of easy and detailed.  And it was a hit with the kids and adults.


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Here’s the details of the party:  I made ninja turtle balloons by wrapping streamers around a green balloon.  So simple and the boys thought it was so cool 🙂  Then I made a quick streamer wall and hung a ninja turtle banner.  I know, big on the décor this year, ha ha.

I made the ninja turtle cakes myself.  Will do a fondant tutorial later this week if anyone is interested.  Once again, super simple.  That’s my motto, after all.

I had some games planned, and even some face painting, but the kids were playing so well that all that got used were the coloring pages and wordsearches I printed out.

I made breadsticks and cut up apples slices, then bought some Costco pizzas and some green “ooze” punch.  Of course, didn’t get pictures of any of that.

I wish I could do a ninja turtle party every year because it required so little effort on my part.  If you want to throw a TMNT party, this is the way to go!



I think that I’m feeling all of the wrong things.  Improper things.  Things that shouldn’t be felt a mere two and a half weeks after a loved one dies.

Aside from my Grandma passing away a few years ago, I have never experienced a death in the family.  I never expected it to feel this way.  I can’t help but wonder if my feelings are normal, or if I’m just a bad person.

Because, right now, I’m feeling like an awful person.


I’m feeling angry and upset that I haven’t seen my Mom since she died.  Yes, I am fully aware of how completely irrational that sounds.  How could I see her?  She died.  In retrospect, however, I now realize that I have been unconsciously wishing and hoping for years for a special visit from my Mom after she died.  I always knew that she would die “young” and I just assumed that she would stop and make a quick visit to me before she got busy in the spirit world.  I didn’t fully realize how much I counted on this special visit happening until she died and such a visit never occurred.

It sounds so stupid, I know.

I have heard stories in the past of relatives visiting loved ones after they had died to say goodbye.  I honestly just assumed that my Mom would come to me.   I can’t help but think that maybe she didn’t love me as much as I thought she did.  If she did love me that much, than why can’t I see her?  Why can’t I even feel her near me?  Perhaps I’m not spiritual enough to be allowed to be in her presence.  I feel as if I’m thinking about her constantly, but I can’t help but wonder if she is enjoying herself so much that she doesn’t even care about me anymore.  I have been wanting to feel her presence so badly that I’m starting to imagine things.  She has become some sort of an imaginary friend.  It’s ridiculous.

A few days ago I was really frustrated with Bryce.  He was acting up and was simply ignoring me (I suppose two-week “vacations” do that to kids).  He kept coloring on our walls with crayon and I yelled at him.  And then I felt embarrassed because I realized (or imagined) that my Mom probably saw the whole messy scenario and was disappointed in my behavior.  Now that she is on the other side, I feel like she will see what kind of person I really am and realize that I’m not as good as she thought I was.

It’s funny, but I have an easy time imagining that my Mom is near me when I’m not on my best behavior.  I hope that I will one day feel her near when I do something that she would be proud of.

I’m terrified by the simple fact that I still have so many more years to live on this Earth (hopefully) and she won’t be here for any more of them.  I’m scared that her memory will somehow fade away.  That she eventually won’t feel as vivid to me as she does now.

I have been wearing some of her clothes.  They still smell like her and it’s comforting.  But I am eventually going to have to wash them.  Then what?  How will I keep her alive?

I made banana bread yesterday, my Mom’s recipe.  I thought about her the entire time.  I knew that when she was alive, she had measured the same amount of flour and smelled the same sweet scent in the air.  It made me feel a bit better.

I promised my Mom on the day that she died that I would write a book about her.  She was worried that her grand-kids wouldn’t know who she was.  To be honest, that thought scares and saddens me as well.  For this “book” that I’m writing (mainly for close friends and relatives), I’m including excerpts from her journal (the good stuff), church talks that she had written (that I was able to find), her favorite recipes, a collection of memories from friends and family members, her favorite scripture passages, song lyrics, her favorite quotes, a family tree (complete with a few pictures), letters that she wrote to family members, and a few other things.

I’m hoping that this “book” that I put together will help keep her alive.  From what I have been able to read from her journal so far, it has been really nice.  It feels like she’s talking to me.  This experience has strengthened my resolve more than anything to keep a journal.  I currently write in my journal nearly every day and I am so grateful for that habit.  I know that my journal will be a treasure to my posterity, as my Mom’s journal is to me.

The sad thing, however, is that she stopped writing in her journal in 1990.  I was eight years old.  This was also round the time that she first started getting sick.  I can’t help but wonder if there is a correlation.

Following 1990, she started scrap-booking.  Her house is full of beautiful scrapbooks.  That was her preferred form of journaling, I suppose.  I wish, however, that she would have written at least a few more lines in her journal.

I love my Mom so much.  I miss her.  It’s true what they say.  You don’t realize how much you love someone until they are gone and you aren’t able to talk to them any longer.  I suppose that I will eventually feel her spirit.  Maybe, perhaps, I already feel of her spirit but I’m simply not recognizing it.

It feels good to vent!

I apologize if I sound like a horrible person.  But feelings are feelings.  And these are mine.

Losing a Mother is Hard

  I have felt such an array of emotions over the course of one week.  It’s hard to believe that it has only been one week, as it feels as if thousands of years have come and gone.

Tara and I both knew that our Mother was going to die.  The doctors didn’t tell us this, we just knew.

We were in denial at first.

This can’t really be happening, right?  I’m probably just scared that she’s going to die.  She’ll pull through this bout of sickness successfully, just as she has been doing for years.  The spirit can’t possibly be telling me that she is going to die.  Especially when Dad and the doctors both seem hopeful.  That’s not possible, is it?

Yes.  I have learned that it is very possible for the spirit to tell us things that we don’t want to hear.  Things that we are not quite ready to accept.

Our Dad kept insisting that Mom was going to be fine.  He told us not to come.  Tara and I live in Lancaster, CA and our parents live in Logan, UT.  It’s a solid 12-hour drive away.

I knew that this was “it” for my Mom.  As horrible as it was to feel something like that, I couldn’t deny it.  Tara felt the same way.  We both knew that we needed to get to Utah as quickly as possible in an effort to see our sweet Mom one final time in this life.

We packed our babies (Tyler and Mason) into Tara’s car and we drove all through the night.  This proved to be somewhat difficult, as neither one of us had slept the night before (we were worrying too much to sleep).  We cried nearly the entire drive.  Why?

Because we both had a strong feeling that when we returned to Lancaster, we would not be able to call our Mom and tell her that we had arrived in safety.  We would, in fact, never be able to call her again.

Our hearts were broken.

I didn’t pack church clothes.  If I didn’t pack church clothes, then I wouldn’t need them.  Right?  I would just go see my Mom for a few days and then head back home in time to attend my own ward.  Admittedly, the word “funeral” skipped across my mind a few times as I was packing, but I refused to believe it.

As Tara and I walked into our Mother’s hospital room the morning that we arrived in Utah, our fears were confirmed.  Our sweet Mother was in terrible condition.  She was suffering so much, made evident by her facial expressions.

Tara and I immediately broke down.  We couldn’t control our tears.

We gave our Mother our permission for her to leave this life and end her suffering.  Did she need our permission?  Maybe.  Would she have passed away anyway?  Perhaps.  But when we gave her our permission, I feel as if it eased a heavy burden on her soul.  She was a fighter.  She would have suffered for days on end (in addition to what she had already suffered) if she didn’t feel like we would all be okay without her.

Will we be okay?  I suppose so.  Will I miss her?  Terribly.

A decision had to be made.

Would we rather have her here with us and continue to watch her suffer, or could we allow her to continue her work in the spirit world completely void of pain or discomfort?

This was a decision that our Dad had a difficult time making.  When he finally made the decision to let her go, her health declined very rapidly and she was gone within a few hours.

She did, in fact, need permission to go.

On our Mom’s final day, her ability to speak was taken from her.  She was intubated.  Strong medication made sure that her heart continued to pump.  A machine was causing her lungs to function.

However, she wasn’t in an induced coma.  She was able to communicate with us through writing.  Toward the end of the day, however, her alertness seemed to decline and she was visibly more exhausted.  Too exhausted to write legibly.

One of the gifts that our Mother gave us on her final day, however, was the fact that she was intubated.  As a result of her intubation, we have the majority of our communication of her final day recorded on paper.  It is a blessing that I will treasure forever.

Tara and I (and our two other siblings) spent the day praising our Mother.  We thanked her again and again for everything that she had done for us throughout our lives.  We told her how great she was.  We told her how lucky that we were to have her as a Mother.

We told her that she was the best Mother in the world.

At this compliment, she wrote something that I will never forget.


She wrote:  “I am the best mom.  Just like you guys.”

I can promise you that Tara and I were bawling our eyes out.  Our Mom had finally admitted that she was a good Mom.  After years of feeling guilty and feeling as if her illness had prevented her from being a successful mother, she was at peace and accepted the fact that she was a good mother.

Seeing our Mom feel good about herself on her final day was a precious gift.  The fact that she added “Just like you guys” was icing on the cake, but hardly necessary.

The last moment that I saw my Mom is a very special memory of mine.  I stood next to her hospital bed, held her hand, and carressed her forehead.  No words were spoken.  Our eyes were locked.  My Mom’s eyes were wide open, trying to communicate something with me.  I yearned to know exactly what she was “saying” with her eyes, but I can only speculate.  My mom was well aware of the fact that she was dying.  She knew that this may have been the last time that I would have the opportunity to look into her eyes in this life.

What were her eyes telling me?

I love you so much.  Never forget that.  You will be okay without me.  I will be in a better place and I won’t be suffering any longer.  Please take care of Dad.  Please help Alyssa.  Don’t forget me.  Make sure your children know who I am.  I love you.

And then she beckoned me to lean down.  I placed my cheek by her mouth and she was able to lift her head up ever so slightly in an effort to kiss me goodbye.  I didn’t feel her lips, as she was intubated, but that final kiss from my mother is something that I will never forget.

She then motioned me to exit the room with her hand.  I looked back one final time before leaving the room, and that was the last time that I saw my Mother’s beautiful eyes.  The next time that I saw her, her eyes had been closed forever.

My three siblings and I left the hospital after saying our goodbyes and headed to a hotel about 15 minutes away.  Part of me believed that I would just go to sleep (I was exhausted) and go back to the hospital in the morning to spend another day with my Mom.  The other part of me feared that she may not make it through the night.

I didn’t realize that the phone call from my Dad would come so quickly.

Dad called me and told us to return to the hospital because Mom had just died.  He was crying.

Even with all of the medication and machines, her heart simply wasn’t strong enough.  It failed.

I screamed “NO!” at the phone and threw it against the wall.

I told my siblings the news before immediately calling Jon.  When Jon answered the phone I lost control.  I yelled at him and told him that Mom had just died and that he didn’t get to say goodbye to her.  I hung up the phone and continued to scream and yell at the top of my lungs.  I don’t even remember what I was saying.  It just felt good to scream.  It was purely reflex.  It wasn’t until I looked in the corner of the room and saw my 2-year-old neice crying in fear that I realized that I had scared her.  I stopped screaming and started crying.  I called Jon back and told him to come right now.  I needed him.

The first time that I walked into my parents house after my Mom’s death was very difficult.  I found myself waiting for my Mom to walk down the stairs or to clean up the messy counter.  It never happened.  And it never will again.  I immediately went into my Mom’s bedroom and grabbed a pair of her soft pajamas, laid down on her bed in fetal position, and cried and cried as I clung to her pajamas.  Somehow, holding her pajamas helped.

I found myself praying and praying for a miraculous vision.  I wanted to see my Mom again.  I wanted to see her one final time and say a proper goodbye.

It never happened.

As I write this post, the funeral is finished and her body is buried in the earth.  I have visited her grave twice already.  I am trying to get as many visits as possible in.  She won’t be in California.

I feel incredibly empty.

I had just talked to my Mom on the phone for an hour and a half the Friday before she passed.  I told her how much I was looking forward to Christmas this year.  I wanted to spend Christmas with my Mom more than anything.  I missed her terribly last Christmas and felt incredibly homesick.

I had no idea that I would never be able to spend another Christmas with her again.

In that last phone conversation, I told my Mom that we were trying to get pregnant but that it would probably take a while, as usual.

I had no idea that when I actually do get pregnant, I won’t be able to call her and tell her the exciting news.

I am only thirty year old.  I feel much too young to be without a mother.  And my siblings are younger than I am.

Over the past few days, Tara and I have been helping my Dad clean out our Mom’s closet.  He couldn’t bear to do it himself, so we were given the assignment.  My Mom had the same taste in clothes as I do.  She preferred casual over fancy.  Although my Mom was shorter and smaller than I am, I actually found quite a few clothes that fit me.  In fact, I could probably discard all of my old clothes and completely replenish my wardrobe with my Mother’s clothing.

Since I feel horrible about sending her clothes to Goodwill, I’m talking most of them home with me.  I hope that Jon can forgive me. 🙂

I can’t help but feel bad.  I feel as if I’m benifiting from my Mother’s death by taking her clothes.  I don’t want to benefit from her death at all.  I would rather torture myself.

Anyway, I have rambled on long enough.  I am positive that more posts will be coming regarding my grieving process.

Now, stop reading and go and give your mother a big hug.  If you live far away from her, call her and tell her how much you love her.

Although I know that my Mom is at peace now, I would still do almost anything in the world to be able to give her a hug right now.


The Grief of Losing a Mother

For anyone who doesn’t already know, me and Andrea’s mother passed away on May 1st.  I don’t know if Andrea will get on here, but for me, I had to write a few things down about some strange things that have happened in Losing a Mother.


1.  “Losing” our mom.  I do feel like I lost her a little bit.  I am spending my days searching for her spirit to be near and wondering where she is.  I am comforted by the miraculous moments when I do know that she is by my side.

2.  I started out the whole process asking really stupid questions.  When my sister got the call, she came into the room and told me that my mom had passed away.  I said, Are you lying?  She said, no.  I said, Is dad lying?  She said, of course not!  Tara, no one is lying!  I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that nobody is lying to me.  That she really is gone.

3.  People will ask when it happened and I always say, oh, about 7:48.  And I know that answer is funny because you can tell that really, there is no “about” about it.  You know the exact second of the day when a loved one passes.

4.  My days pass in waves.  It happened at night, so we were all in shock mostly that first night.  Not much sleep, just thoughts being passed around the room and love sent to heaven as we all huddled into a hotel room.  Then the morning came, and I woke up with the startling realization that my mom had died the night before.  I couldn’t stop crying.  As the day went along, I cried, and then was comforted.  And all the talking and seeing people that had shared my love, got me through the day and I went to sleep.  Then this morning, I woke up crying again.  I wonder when the day will come that I won’t wake up, fresh with the grief that my mama is gone.

5.  I am walking around wondering if people are looking at me, knowing that my mom has passed away, and worried that there are people that don’t know.  How do I face this?

6.  One of the hardest realizations you have to come to is that she is in a better place, even if that place is without you.

7.  It’s not uncommon for my brain and heart to be at odds, but usually it’s my brain talking my heart out of irrational emotions.  For the past few days my heart is telling my brain that it is peaceful, and comforted, and whole.  My brain is trying to convince it that it is, in fact, lonely, and devastated, and broken.

8. The thing that gets me through this is the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation and that my Heavenly Father loved us so much that He sent is Only Begotten Son, here to live, suffer, and die for us.  For me.  He knows the pain I am feeling.  And because of the Atonement, my mom is with Jesus now, serving on the other side, waiting for the day when we will all be together again.  When Jesus will come again and we will all be restored to our bodies and my mom won’t have a broken back, or weak lungs, or a broken heart.  Where she will be able to dance, and run, and shoot some hoops.  That families are FOREVER.  That there is a PLAN and I just have to be a part of it.