Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

We had a terrific Christmas this year! Each of us was incredibly spoiled and we feel especially blessed. My kids dubbed it the "Best Christmas Ever" which tells me I must learn a lesson about stressing and worrying too much before the day arrives. This year, Taylor had me especially discombobulated, since she had only asked for Roller Blades or an Open-hole Flute, which Santa was ready to deliver...but then about 5 days before Christmas, she tells me, with typical teenage melodramatic flair, that if she gets either of those things, it will "ruin her Christmas." Well, what was poor Santa to do?
Luckily, on Christmas morning, she showed no signs of pain and she said she didn't know how much she really wanted her flute until she got it. Shaylie loved all her gifts, especially the Cake Bakery and her Printies (stuffed animals that you print on your computer...kind of cool!). Scott almost didn't get his favorite gift--I didn't notice that he hadn't opened it until later in the day when he found an unwrapped gift on the chair and discovered it was for him. It was a Chelsea Road Kit...or in plain American...a Chelsea Away Jersey. He loves it and I'm glad, since it was quite an effort to get it for him. I went to Vegas and looked at about 4 different stores before finding the one that had it by accident. Crazy, huh? I was the most spoiled...my family really made me feel special this year. Scott got me a new laptop, or netbook, the entire 7 season series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and a Deluxe Snuggie..all of which I love.
We were lucky to have Grandma Jesienouski here for Christmas again this year. She always makes our holiday so fun. Unfortunately, she got sick on Christmas Day and spent most of the weekend feeling pretty poorly. Then I caught the bug too, so we were pretty low-key for most of her visit. Even so, we are glad that she was able to come spend the holiday with us. We did get to go the the Southwest Symphony Strings concert at the Tabernacle and we drove around to look at lights before we were housebound.
Now we are looking forward to the New Year. We are having our annual New Years Eve Games and Goodies night. This has been a tradition in our family since I was a kid. We always enjoy celebrating with friends and family. I am mulling over my New Years' Resolutions right now. I had such success with last year's that I am taking it very seriously again for 2010.
As for the year past, we are very thankful to have so many good friends, neighbors, and loved ones to be a part of our lives. Thanks for bringing so much fun and excitement to our otherwise ordinary days. We look forward to having another year to grow even closer and to share in each others extraordinary adventures. Our love to you and best wishes for a Happy New Year!
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More Friend and Family Fun!

Shaylie's friend Jade came for a short visit and to exchange gifts. We sure miss Jade around here! The girls were so cute with their gifts. It turned out that they each bought matching gifts for the other. So now they both have a pair of matching frog toe socks and beaded watches. With their braces and blonde hair, they are practically twins.

My niece, Anje, celebrated her 12th birthday last week! Taylor and Shaylie both went to her Spa Night birthday party. They jacuzzied, primped, and stayed up all night watching videos. Happy Birthday, Loobie!

On Sunday, we celebrated my "little" brother Chad's birthday with a Sunday brunch at my house. You can see his cute girlfriend, Lynn, in the background of the picture. Her daughter Kaiah was here too! We are glad they were able to come celebrate with us! I love having my home filled with family! Happy Birthday, Chad!
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Piano Recital

We always look forward to Taylor's winter piano recital, but this year we almost missed it! For some reason, I had it down on my calendar as starting at 6:30, when it really started at 6:00. We arrived promptly at 6:15, thinking we had time to spare, only to find that Taylor had missed her place on the program. Luckily, she was able to sneak in at the end and she did a great job performing O, Holy Night! (Grrr! This is a sore spot for me, though. I've been trying to play that song for two years and she picked it up in about two months. It's not right.)
We love Melanie, her piano teacher! She had the kids wear winter gear rather than formal outfits this year and during the finale we all sang Let It Snow! As usual, it was so fun to see all the kids hard work pay off!
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Shaylie's Choir Concerts

We loved hearing Shaylie sing with her school choir this year. They performed at 3 different venues during the two weeks before Christmas--the Dickens Festival, her school assembly, and Dixie Nutrition, where a camera crew was there to cover the event and we saw Shaylie later that night on the KCSG news. She loved singing We Three Kings and Sleigh Ride. She goes to school early two days a week to practice. I'm glad she's been having a great time!
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Taylor's Winter Concert

Taylor's musical talent is a joy to our family! We love listening to her play! The band was very good and we enjoyed seeing Taylor shine. The music included some holiday favorites so it was a good beginning to the Holiday season. Grandma Strong, Anissa, and Anje also came to support Taylor! Way to go!
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Saturday, December 12, 2009

"Tis the Season!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all my wonderful, beautiful and talented friends for helping me to celebrate the season! I had a great time at our party and I hope you all did too!  Of course, I was having too much fun to take any pictures so we'll just have to keep the memories in our hearts. :) I'm grateful to you all for your generosity and thoughtfulness. If you're feeling hungry later, come on back for round two...there was plenty of food left! Unless my family has eaten it all by then! At any rate, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and that you get all the happiness you deserve! Love to you all!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Family for Thanksgiving

We had a great family Thanksgiving this year! I was so pleased to be able to host Thanksgiving dinner at my home this year. All my brothers and sisters (with the exception of my youngest, Bryan and his wife, Dena) were able to make it. We definitely had a houseful, but there was plenty of food with all our favorites (Yay Kringla!), lots of games, laughing and children playing. It was a pleasure to have tiny ones in the house again. On Friday, my Dad and Pam even came down and joined us! It was great to get most of us together again. (I'll be posting family pics soon. I don't know how I missed pictures of my sister and Anje. I don't have a single one!)

In addition to the aforementioned fun, we made sure to fit in a couple of outings as well. We went to the Temple Lighting Ceremony. Well, we actually missed the ceremony, but we enjoyed the lights and the Nativity. We hit the Tuachan Saturday Market, where we enjoyed the beautiful surroundings and found some lovely crafts. And we managed to resist the temptation to go out shopping on Black Friday. I actually was tempted, and if I'd any money, I likely would have gone since this was the first year in many that I've been in a town with stores on that day. I wouldn't have gone at 5am, but I would have gone out and braved the masses.

All in all, it was a very memorable weekend. I hope we can make it a tradition. I love my family!
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Monday, November 23, 2009

A Christmas of Service and Love

Since Santa's feeling the downturn in the economy like everybody else, our family (and by our family, I mean me) has decided to limit the number of gifts we are getting this year. Instead, we are going to have "A Christmas of Service and Love" and focus more on the true meaning of the season.
Every day, during the month of December, we are going to try to have a fun, family service project or activity. Some of the things I'm thinking of are: to go to the Temple Visitors Center, to go caroling, to put together kits for the Humanitarian Center, and to visit the Tuacahn Nativity...but 25 days is a lot to fill...so I'd love to hear some great ideas from all my friends.
What are some of the fun family focused traditions that bring your family closer to each other and to the Lord? Will you please share them with us? I'm really hoping to make this Christmas season a memorable and fun one for my family!

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Moon Fun!

I had to show off my cute t-shirt that I wore to our New Moon group date tonight.

A few other girls wore shirts that said, "My heart belongs to (husband's name), but my neck belongs to Edward."  They were cute too!

I had a blast tonight! Half the fun is hanging out with all the girls and their hubbies. We also had some very young, cute girls sitting in front of us who were definitely on Team Jacob. Their sighs and oohs and aahs made the movie that much more fun.

It was a fun night out!

Monday, November 9, 2009

New World Order

Well, in my own little world anyway! I have been inspired by all the recent counsel that I have heard to try to establish a "house of order" in our home. I want to be able to teach my children correct principles, and let them govern themselves...I know it's a stretch, but we're going to try.
 So, tonight's family night was a working meeting where we established rules, consequences and rewards...along with a new plan for FHE agendas.  From now on, we will have a chore chart where the girls will be able to earn an allowance, and at FHE they will have to report on how well they did, what they could do better, and what they will work on the following week! We are going to have daily, weekly, and family chores to help us learn housekeeping skills and how to work better as a family. Hopefully the rules and motivators are something the girls will buy into since they helped us set it up.
I wanted to do a Tech-free week as well, but it was overwhelming enough to implement this new plan.  I think we'll get this going and then attempt a TF-week next week.  I was totally amazed at the number of times we were warned against the dangers of technology. I don't want that counsel to fall on deaf (ipod filled) ears...so I want to see if we can really do it.  Scott actually suggested that we do this about two weeks ago, and it was I who dragged my feet about it. It will be hard but I think we have to try.
So, wish us luck! This will definitely be a weakness turned to a strength...if it works. I have struggled with what to do for a while, so I'm glad for the good advice I was given this weekend and I'm anxious for a change.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sweet Assurance

The theme of Time Out for Women this year was Sweet Assurance: the certainty that comes when you know life's truths. I was so glad that I got another opportunity to attend this year. The focus of each of the talks and the music was to bear testimony of the truths that govern our lives and that have been taught to us by the Savior, through his life and example. Over 3,000 women attended!!

All of the presenters were inspiring! I loved Kenneth Cope's music and Hillary Weeks will always be one of my all-time favorites...she is so funny and talented.  But I think my favorite presentation this year was by Emily Freeman.  Her talk was so moving and the principles she was teaching really resonated with me. She talked about abundance and how sometimes the simplest acts can bring an abundance of blessings.  She told sweet stories that illustrated the true principles of service and love, and she really motivated me to find ways in my own life that I can try to find a greater abundance of God's love.

The funny ladies of the seminar were Mary Ellen Edmunds and Emily Watts. I totally related to Emily's advice on parenting. She reaffirmed my belief that being a parent is one of the hardest things I'll ever do, but that it is worth waiting for our little "fruits" to ripen.  Oh, and I should probably include Chieko Okazaki in this group too. She reminded us at the beginning of her remarks that she is almost 83 years old. What an amazing lady!

I'm planning to make this event an annual tradition. I love taking this time to reaffirm my faith, to hear people with more wit and wisdom than I have inspire me to action, and to share the experience with other women of faith. The plan, according to the show director, is to alternate the venues from Vegas to St. George each year. That will be great! If it's always that close to home, I'll be there!

Before the show ended, we were challenged to share one thing we know to be true today. My truth is this: I know we are meant to be happy; that happiness is all God wants for us and everything He asks us to do is designed to bring us joy. Sometimes it's hard to accept that it might be that easy and we find ways to make it more complicated than it has to be, but I know that if we do His will we will be blessed with more joy than we can handle. Knowing this brings me peace and assurance even in the worst of times!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Power of Music

Lately I have been listening to 91.3, a classical music station here in St. George. Often they play movie music, such as the Star Wars theme, which I usually enjoy.  Tonight I was driving to the pizza place to pick up dinner for my fam and I was listening to the radio. A commercial for the Five Browns had just finished and I was paying more attention to traffic than anything else, when suddenly I heard this terrifying sound. I didn't process it at first... I was thinking it was screeching brakes, or no...maybe a siren...I was certain it was something horrible and I started to panic, slowing down and looking for whatever was making the ominous noise.  Suddenly, I realized what I was hearing...the theme to JAWS!!  The strings sounding those opening chords (da-dum, da-dum) truly struck panic into my heart...before I even realized what it was.  I had to laugh out loud at myself.  It was scary, hilarious, and humiliating all at once.  I'm just glad I was in my car and not in the ocean...there would have been an accident, and I'm not talking about the traffic.  :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Love My Quirky Kid

I have to post something funny that Shaylie said to me the other day. She has the most unique sense of humor and I have always loved it. She cracks me up.

A couple days before Halloween, she said to me that she wouldn't like to run into a Vampire. I said, "Why? Because they vant to suck your blood?" And she said, "Yeah, and because they shoot rubber bands at you."

I can't help it. I laughed my head off...and I'm still laughing. Love you Shaylie-bug!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Some of my favorite moments from Halloween Week 2009. School carnival, fun parties, trick-or-treating, fun, fun, fun!!!
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Great Mom Blog

Visit my friend Annette's great blog for moms and enter her giveaway! She has the best ideas on everything!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

One Step Closer!

I took the GRE test today and I can't tell you how relieved I am to have it behind me! It was the hardest thing I have done in a long time. I don't mean the language section, although I had hoped to do a little better on that but the math was insane. I literally cried at the end of the math section! 

The very first question resembled a wall of Egyptian hieroglyphics. I did not recognize any of the concepts I studied and because it's a timed test, I only gave each question as much time as I thought I could before making my best guess. I felt like I guessed on almost every question. The whole time I kept thinking "I am in so much trouble!!" AND...when I had 30 seconds left in the test, I still had about 9 questions to answer so I read through and clicked on the handiest choices before the time ran out. I don't even think I got the click in on the last before the PROCEED button appeared. 

The lowest score you can get is about 200 and I fully expected to see a score in the upper 200s or lower 300s if I was lucky...so imagine my shock and awe when I got my score and it was a 570!!!  That was better than my practice exam, and granted, I only answered about 18 out of 28 right, but I'm counting it as my miracle for the day. There is no way I should have scored that high, but there it is! I must have made some pretty good guesses or I had angels whispering in my ears.  

I got a 620 on the Verbal section, so that makes a combined score of 1190.  I was hoping for a 1200 and it doesn't get much closer! I am very happy to be done, to have my scores, and to be able to send in my application on Monday! 

Friday, October 23, 2009


Taylor was taking a new profile picture for me and this was me at the end of the session! I thought it was a funny shot. Kind of how I feel today too! HI-larious!
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Test Day Tomorrow!!

I take the GRE test tomorrow at noon and I am literally falling apart. My hip is deforming, I'm having a polka-dot party (my HS friends might remember this particular euphemism); my brain is overflowing with numbers, letters, expressions,and random math facts; and one of my co-workers at FRIS is down with Swine Flu as of yesterday...I've been holding my breath and bathing in AB gel since I found out....(feel better, Trish!!!)....AND I've got a to-do list about a mile long!!!!  AAAaaaauuuughghghgh!!!

Okay. I feel a little better. I've done my daily affirmations and I'm feeling better about some things. For example...this test is just a test. It doesn't mean anything. I will get a good enough score so  I will not should all over myself...(sorry....I'm having a Stuart Smalley morning!)

Plus, Halloween is right around the corner...and I love Halloween. We have a fun party tonight...can't wait!!!  I'm looking forward to having something to take my mind off the test! Trunk-or-Treat is next week and I always love doing my Miss Fortune Teller show.  I love how much the kids enjoy it! It is very satisfying. And I told Taylor she could invite some of her friends for a party next week too....not to mention the actual having of Halloween. Lots to get ready for but it's always one of my favorite times of year.

In retrospect, I should probably have planned the test date a little better, but there I go again! Focus, Tonya. Think positive!. What's done is done! Tomorrow is a new day (also Test Day) but the day after that will be awesome! Wish me luck! I will need it!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall Family Fun

We had the best time up north this weekend! We loved the fall colors in the Canyon and visiting with grandparents for a short time.

Friday, we visited my Dad and Pam for a little while then headed over to the Scarecrow Festival at Thanksgiving Point. It was a huge carnival with bounce houses, slides, boutique, games & activities. The girls had a ton of fun. The highlight was the bungee trampoline for which we stood in line for over 2 hours. (I have video, but my computer is being stubborn!!) They had fun, but we weren't sure it was worth the wait in the end.  It was a perfect day for outdoor fun. Scott even got to see a train pass right by the Point, one of the longest trains I've seen.  I found a cute watch band at the boo-tique and the Kettle Korn was so yummy!!!

Saturday, we went into SLC to visit Grandma Rose and the Hogle Zoo.  Another beautiful day! The animals were so active and there were so many baby animals. We saw the baby elephant, baby giraffe, baby tigers (sort of), baby monkeys and baby crocodile.  So much fun! The Zoo has so many new habitats and a new carousel.  It's very nice! After the zoo, we went to one of my favorites--Crown Burger on Highland Dr.--I love the food there! So yummy....I had been craving a Gyro forever!

Later that night, we headed back up Provo Canyon to the Heber Valley Railroad "Haunted Canyon" Ride. It was a blast! We thought it might be colder, but it wasn't too bad. We rode in the open-air car and listened (as best as we could) to ghost stories over the speakers...there were scenes set up in the woods all along the tracks and we had spookies wandering the cars.  It was so much fun! Shaylie wasn't so sure. She doesn't like to be scared much but we had just the right amount of scary silliness. Plus it was on a train!!! What more could the Jesienouski family ask for? (Some pics on Facebook, but my computer won't let me upload to my blog for some reason!) Great fun!

Some other trip highlights: renting Redbox movies and chilling in the condo, the gorgeous fall colors--the canyon was breathtaking, we loved Bridal Veil Falls too--seeing "Chowdy with a Clance of Meatballs" in 3D with my Dad and Pam, spending time together!!!  So good to have some time to renew and refresh so we can face life again!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Groupie Moment

This weekend Taylor marched with the Pine View Middle School band in the Dixie State College Homecoming Parade.  We took her about a half hour early and set up our chairs to wait for the parade to begin. We got some pretty choice seats right next to the announcer's speaker. 
As the American Flag made it's way toward us, the voice on the PA announced that the Grand Marshall for the parade would be Elder Jeffery R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve, who was a graduate of DSC back in the day. And sure enough, he and his wife followed the flag in the back seat of a convertible car.  The crowd was pretty sparse and they were only about 10 yards away from us. I couldn't resist the urge to yell, "We love you Elder Holland!" to which his wife replied "We love you too!"  
I don't know if Apostles get that many groupies, but I definitely have a special place in my heart for Elder Holland. I had just posted his conference talk from last week on my Facebook page (which was amazing) and it was such a surprise to be in such close proximity and in relative privacy to this great man. I kept trying to relive the moment and think of other more clever things to say, but I decided that I said exactly what I felt in the moment and still do. 
Taylor did a great job in the parade too, but meeting Elder Holland (sort of) was definitely a highlight!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Life gets pretty busy and I haven't had much time to blog, but I wanted to post a quick update on a few things. Hopefully, things will slow down before long and I'll get back to a more routine schedule. 

Puppy: Cricket is doing great! She is almost housebroken. Much easier to train than BB was and so sweet. I'm glad we got her, even though some of my FB status posts may have led others to believe differently. :)  The two dogs are getting along well enough and I think BB might actually be starting to like her. 

Grad School: My application is just about complete and my GRE test is in just over two weeks!!!! I have been taking a short break from studying to indulge in a novel that I wanted to read, but I'm back at it and will be glad to have this behind me. 

Children: Taylor and Shaylie are keeping me busy as usual. Taylor's had soccer, volleyball, piano, and school activities. We had her SEOP (parent-teacher conference) today and she is doing very well. I can't believe we are talking about college and scholarships already, but the next 5 years are likely to fly by so best to be prepared.  Shaylie had a fun field trip to Staheli Farms today and invited her friend Kamryn to Activity Days. They made pumpkins and Kamryn says she'd love to go again. Shaylie still wants to take Karate, but I haven't found a place for her yet. 

Work: I'm still enjoying my job at FRIS! It is very varied and completely stress free. I am enjoying the kids and the ladies I work with...they are awesome.  It is also nice to work in a library where I have access to all kinds of wonderful reading material. So glad I made this change!

Diet: I was so excited to go shopping with my first paycheck of the year. I was in desperate need of clothing that fits me after my 75+ pound weight loss. I had never been shopping in Vegas before and was so thrilled to find some wonderful stores down there. Ashley Stewart is my new favorite store. I found some great jeans and the prices were fantastic. I also discovered the LV Outlet Mall--so many great places! We didn't even have time to look at everything I wanted to. I couldn't believe that it took me so long to head south to shop. I will definitely be going back! It is so fun to shop when clothes actually look good on you! 

My @#$! Back: Still killing me. I got a couple of Rx from my doc, but they ran out and they weren't really helping much anyway. I am going to have to Do Something soon but I'm not sure what. I found a clinic that advertised everything from chiropractic to decompression and quite a few treatments in between...so I might try them out. This can't go on forever. Other than my back, however, I am feeling better than I have in years. 

Well, that's plenty for now. I'm excited for Halloween and the holidays coming up! Fall Break will be here soon and Thanksgiving is at my house this year. Yikes. Fun times ahead...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Grad School or Bust!

I've made my decision!!!  I'm going to apply for the University of Utah's M.Ed in School Counseling program. I went to an orientation on Tuesday, spoke with some of the faculty and I am ready to let the craziness begin.  It will take 2 years of fairly intensive study in order to get credentialed and there is no guarantee of a job on the flip-side, but I think it will be a good fit with my previous work experience, my family, my aspirations, and my personality.  

The plan is this: I have to take the GRE and score fairly well since the program is pretty competitive, papers turned in by Dec. 15th, the Admissions board reviews apps in February, and they let us know if we're accepted into the program by mid-March. Classes begin Summer semester with a 2 week 8a-5p 6 credit Institute, then starting in Fall & continuing in Spring, I would take 3 classes--three nights a week, one night for each class. This repeats during the 2nd year, with classes for Practicum and Internships, both of which may be paid.  They are also looking at implementing Grad Assistantships and Fellowships. Both would be welcome to help pay for this adventure!!

To tell the truth, I'm pretty freaked out.  It's going to be a challenging and stressful, but hopefully worth it in the end. I have been studying for the GRE for a while now. The math is going to kill me.  There's so much I can't remember.  The good news is that even had I taken it 16 years ago when I first graduated with my BA, I found out that I would have been required, most likely, to take it again.  The other good news is that there is no minimum required score, I just have to have it...although the higher the score, the more advantageous it will be for other opportunities like fellowships or whatever, so I want to do well. I'll probably plan to take it Mid-October.  Yikes.

So, I feel better for having made the decision, but now begins the work and the waiting. I hope we can survive the craziness.  My sweetheart Scott is being very supportive and encouraging, as usual.  I'm excited for the possibilities. Wish me luck! And forgive me if I lose it somewhere along the way!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Beware My Mama Bear

Some of you may not know this about me, but I sometimes have a temper and, especially when it comes to my kids, I don't like to put up with people's crap (Sorry, Taylor! She doesn't like that word but it is very appropriate.)  Like today at Taylor's soccer game, for instance. We had to put up with a boat load of it from the Referee.

The first thing that annoyed me was how he came marching onto the field giving orders in a big loud voice and then he handed the LJ flag to a 5-year old boy telling him to watch for balls to go out and offsides. Seriously?  But that was just annoying. It wasn't until the girls were up 8-1 that he really started getting to me. He came up to our coaches and started yelling at them, "This is too much. Tell your girls to back off." Totally inappropriate.  Even if he wanted to spare the other team, he should have handled it differently.

And, excuse me, but what is the point of playing a soccer game if you don't try to score. Just call the game if that is the case. But, hey,  I was still pretty chill, after all, they told us the same thing all last year too. I was hoping this year the girls would actually get to play though, but....nothing Mama Bear worthy yet.

The final straw was after the game. Taylor came up to me crying saying how the Ref had yelled at her, saying something like, "Do you want to be referee? I've been putting up with your *** all day."  Now, I'm okay with a Referee calling a girl on disrespectful behavior. If Taylor was mouthing off, then take her to the coach, tell them that his decisions are final, yellow card her, or something. But don't talk trash to children. When I heard the story from Taylor, I took her over to the Ref. I wanted to hear his side of the story.  I was angry but I was also being a mature adult.  I told him what Taylor told me and asked him what happened. He kind of went off on me, saying that Taylor was telling him that he was calling plays wrong and that he had given her two warnings and it's within his rights to do that.

I agreed that he has the right to warn players, but there was no need to hurt feelings and make children cry. AYSO is supposed to be about learning sportsmanship and having fun.  He called her a liar and was super defensive. I told him I'd be filing a complaint with the league about the whole thing, and he said, "Go ahead. There's the lady right there."

She had been standing behind us the whole time, listening. I said, "You bet I will." And went to her while he marched off to his truck.  I asked her if she could see my point: He shouldn't have the right to abuse his authority over these girls by being disrespectful, especially if he wants to command any respect from them in return. It's supposed to be fun and build girls' confidence!  She told me she'd heard the whole conversation and she'd take it to the Head Official. I thanked her and started heading back to the field, when this Ref came marching back over saying how he'd make it easy for everyone, since "they don't pay me enough to deal with all this **** ****! I quit!" And he slammed his clipboard down and was still ranting when I was out of earshot.  What a great guy!

We had just finished packing up our gear and were headed back to the car when the lady I spoke with and another official, the Head Official I assumed, came up to us and apologized for the creepy refs behavior. I told them I didn't mean to make a big scene but I was upset with how he handled the whole thing.  They agreed that he behaved inappropriately. We've played with AYSO for 4 years now and have never had such an experience.  Usually the refs are great and they help the girls learn how to be better players, which is what they are meant to do.  I hope he really is gone for good! I will feel like I've done my parental duty for the day! Nobody messes with my kids! Grrr.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cricket Is Ours Forever...

...unless I lose her again!!!  We've decided to keep Cricket, which of course, I knew we would. We couldn't bring her home for even a minute and then give her back. She's much too sweet.

I'm going to have to keep a close eye on her though. She's tricky. I left her home while I went to work on Wednesday. She hasn't been happy in the bathroom, so I blocked off the kitchen and left the screen door open so she'd be able to get out the dog door. I checked all the gaps under the gates to make sure she couldn't get out anywhere and when all was Puppy-proofed, I headed out for the day.

I worried a bit, mostly envisioning her being used as a chew toy by Blackberry, but I was surprised. I came home and found no dead bodies, in fact, no puppy at all. I looked everywhere--under furniture, in closets, in the trampoline pit, under bushes. But she was nowhere to be found. I couldn't believe she'd disappeared.  I started going door-to-door to the neighbors hoping that someone had seen her wandering during the afternoon and took her in, but no one had seen her.

I knocked on the last door on the street and while I was talking to Jocelyn and Bro. Webb, here she came running around the corner of the Lund's house. You can't imagine how happy and relieved I was.  Especially that she was found before the girls came home from school, because if the truth be told, I was more worried about having to face their tears than anything else.

It turned out that the side gate was actually unlatched even though I had checked it and she somehow must have squeezed through.  Little Stinker.  I have no idea how long she was wandering around. We will make sure to check and double check from now on.  Or I'll just carry her around in my pocket from now on.  :)

I honestly can't believe how much I love this little pup. After Blackberry, I thought I was so over dogs, but she is so much more my speed. Sweet, snuggly, and small.  I love BB too, but it has been a lot of work to get there.  Cricket has been easy.  I'm glad we brought her home.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


I can't believe we got suckered into it again! Our friends the Terry's had two litters they were selling today and Taylor turned on the Persuasion Skills, promising everything in the book. I made a deal with Julie and we've got her on a trial run until Monday.

But she sure is cute! The girls are calling her Cricket or Kiki for short. She's an 8 week old purebred Shihtzu puppy and we love her already!

Blackberry is tolerating her and making sure we don't forget him by whining, barking and doing tricks. Hopefully, he'll get used to her soon.

She doesn't shed, so it looks like Scott will do okay with her too. In fact, she sneezed while he was holding her so maybe she's allergic to him! :)

Wish us luck! We're going to need it! Puppies and babies. The Lord sure makes our memories short otherwise why would we ever do any of it twice? :)
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Friday, September 11, 2009

I Remember 9/11

I sat Taylor down in front of the TV to do her hair for kindergarten. The TV was on NBC from news the night before and Matt Lauer was talking about a plane hitting the 1st tower and postulating about whether it was an accident or not. I called Scott thinking he'd have the scoop on the internet but he hadn't heard anything about it and hung up to do some searching. I watched as the 2nd tower was struck and remember thinking that I just needed to stay calm and get Taylor off to school so that I could give this insanity my full attention. She left and as it became clearer that the destruction was intentional, I remember crying.

I cried as I watched the smoke column skyward and people plummet out of windows. I cried as the buildings crumbled. I cried as the emergency workers ran toward the chaos and others fled. I cried as people searched frantically for loved ones and as the wall of missing people grew. It seemed like I cried for weeks as the acts of heroism and stories of survival were documented. It seemed like I would cry forever.

But like everyone else in the country, I was also filled with an amazing sense of patriotism and love for my fellow man. I was so proud to see people stepping up to find ways to serve and help make a difference. I was inspired by my own little girl who, after learning about what had happened, went door to door asking for coins to donate to the families of the fallen. She gathered about $5.00-a fortune to a 5 year old- and we sent it to New York. It seemed like all hearts were softened and the tragedy was yielding to something great.

It makes me cry even now, eight years later, to remember the lives lost and the horror of that day, but I hope that we can all remember the camaraderie we felt and the empowerment that filled us as we realized our potential to some degree. It's easy to lose sight of that when we get bogged down in the minutia of every day life, but it's that very craziness that should remind us how lucky we are. We are alive, we are free, we are blessed. That's what I try to remember.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Strongly Worded Letter

I just found out at work today that the Washington County School District has decided to allow students access to YouTube on school computers.  As a parent, and as a computer lab aide, I am not very happy about this.  I didn't realize this at first, but YouTube does not police their site very well and there are all kinds of inappropriate subject matter for kids to explore--all kinds of foul language, mature themes and porn to name just a few--especially if they are unsupervised for any length of time. And the way YouTube works, kids can be looking at completely innocent sites and in the sidebar these things pop-up as suggested or related content and once they've seen it, it can't be taken back.

I understand that there is also a lot of really great stuff on there and that teachers may want to show videos that correlate to lesson plans, but it is not worth risking children's innocence for the convenience of the few teachers who might use this technology.  I am planning to write an email to our district Tech Director and ask him to put YouTube back on the blocked content list.  YouTube is blocked in my home, and I certainly don't want it to be available in my kids' schools either.  If you would like to send an email too, let me know and I will send you the Tech Director's email address.

I'd also like to figure out what could be done about the LDS Church's YouTube channel.  It bothers me, and others I know, that the Church supports YouTube when they are so lax about keeping their site clean.  It seems to me that the Church certainly has the brainpower and the resources to post their videos through some alternative source that can be more carefully monitored.  I'm just saying.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Check Out My New HCG Blog!

I have been having so much fun telling everyone about HCG and my diet success that I have decided to launch a new blog: HCG Living--to answer questions, give advice, share recipes, and swap success stories!
Become a follower, or add me to your blog lists, to get updates about my HCG adventures! I have just posted Before & After pics...humiliating, yes, but worth it! I am proud of my success! This diet has truly given me my life back!
Thanks for checking it out! http://hcgliving.blogspot.com

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Mid-life Crisis

I'm finding it strange that those words even apply to me...but I guess at 39 there's no way I can deny that I'm practically MIDDLE-AGED now. So how can it be that I am still trying to decide what to do with my life? Up until now, I haven't exactly been slacking my life away--I've been raising a family, I've worked in several successful jobs, I've served successfully as PTA President and Primary President as well as countless other projects and daily activities--all things I've enjoyed and felt good about doing. But I am feeling more and more, lately, that there is an important, unknown path that I need to take.

I am not sure, but I have been thinking a lot about going back to school--either to become a teacher or a school counselor. Both of these would be a LOT of work and I don't even want to think about the cost (no Pell Grants for post-grad work)--but as I've started my new job at the Intermediate school, I walk down the halls and see the teachers with their classes and I am convinced that I would be happy doing the same thing...or maybe just that I could be doing MORE than what I am now...whatever that might be.

I don't really know why when you reach a certain point in life that you start worrying about fulfillment and unrealized potential, but I guess I'm not above the cliche. It seems to me that I have made so many plans and maybe I'm running out of time. I guess it makes you want to go out and do something crazy...just to know you can.

Anyway, I don't mean to be so maudlin! I'm basically just thinking out loud...wondering what to do...and trying to organize my thoughts. It's so hard to know what the best thing for me and my family might be. I can guarantee that I'll be praying for some insight and guidance with these possible life changing decisions. It's actually kind of exciting to think what might be around the corner...but I guess that's what makes a good midlife crisis, right?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Taylor's First Day at School

Getting organzied for the new year!

Giving sisterly advice on proper backpack packing techniques!

Looking amazing for the first day!

Little bit of a makeover for the second day! Ooops. Gotta love trampolines.
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Shaylie's First Day of School

Looking Great with a new do, new clothes, and gorgeous smile!

Bravely entering new territory!

Shaylie and Mrs. Winterton, 4th Grade Teacher

Hard at work already! Have a great year, Sweetheart!
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Family Celebrations!

We celebrated Shaylie's 9th birthday (again!) with our family!
Around the circle: Here is Aunt Anissa (back to us), Grandma Pam, Papa Strong, Shaylie, Grandma Rose, Grandma Dawn, Bella, Kaiah, Lynn and Chad.
Shaylie got so many neat presents!
Thanks to Grandma J for the cute clothes, to Chad & Bella for the Wii Game, to Taylor for the Bracelet kit, to Grandma Dawn for a DS game and Chocolate Frogs, to Mom and Dad for RC UFO, and to Papa & Grandma for her NEW website!
What a happy, fun day!
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We're in Business!

For those of you who don't know, my daughter Shaylie is a born businesswoman! She always has a plan to invent a new product, make something to sell, set up a shop, etc.

Well, for her birthday--she's 9 now--her grandparents (with the help of mom and dad) bought her a web store so she can sell whatever she dreams up online! She is so excited about this. We even made her business cards to hand out to her friends.

It's up and running and we hope you will all check it out! Right now she is selling some jewelry she has made and a few of her stuffed toys. Let us know how you like it!!!

Go to www.shayliebay.com to see her fun jewelery and check back often because she's working hard at making new things everyday!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Inner Peace for All

I am sitting blessedly alone as the girls have both gone off to the first day of school. Summer has been wonderful but I always look forward to this day. I think it is the quiet contemplation that prompted this funny memory. I'm thinking about all the various forms of organized insanity that are about to start and remembered a conversation that Shaylie and I had.

She asked me, "Mom, am I going to get to take Karate this year?" I said, "Why do you want to take Karate anyway?" or something like that. She thought a minute and said, "It would be fun to learn how to beat people up....and I'd like to learn inner peace."

Sounds good to me! Where do we sign up?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Favorite HCG Recipes...so far!

I am on round two of my HCG diet. This time around I have been experimenting with my food a bit more. I found two really yummy treats that I love! I will probably keep eating these even after my VLCD ends.

Ginger Chicken Lettuce Wraps

3.5 oz Chicken cut into cubes
3 large cabbage leaves
chopped cabbage to equal 3.5 oz
3 T. Balsamic Vinegar
1 T. Ginger
1/4 t. onion powder
1/4. t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
Garlic to taste

In a bowl combine cut chicken, vinegar, seasonings, cook on med-hi until done. At end of cook time, add in chopped cabbage and 3T water. Lower heat and continue cooking until cabbage is cooked. Place chicken mixture into cabbage leaves and roll into wraps. So YUMMY!!!

Strawberry Smoothies

6 large strawberries, sliced
16 oz. favorite Crystal Light beverage (I like cranberry apple.)
1 pkg. Truvia (Stevia)

Liquify all ingredients in blender until desired consistency. Enjoy!!!!

If I make any other discoveries...I will post them too!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Shaylie's Birthday Party

Our Cute Pupcakes!

In lieu of a proper cake.

Let the movie begin!

Thanks Friends!

Cute Kids!

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Back-to-School Beautification

Since this was likely the last time we would be at Grandma's salon before school starts (can you believe that?), we decided it was time for a beauty day. Shaylie got her hair permed...it turned out way cute, I think. And she had her DS to keep her from getting too antsy during the procedure...so it worked out great!
Then, both girls decided to get their ears pierced. For Taylor, this is about the 6th time she's done this. She was actually nervous. She always lets them grow back in, so we'll keep our fingers crossed that it sticks this time. Shaylie did very well for her first time! It did hurt but she was very brave! They have matching studs and are looking great for the new school year!
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Fun Pioneer Day!

We had a great time at our annual Holden Pioneer Day celebration! Scott even talked me into running a three-legged gunny sack race with him! I haven't done that since I was about Taylor's age! We loved the breakfast as usual and were too busy eating to snap any pictures. The highlight of the day was the Bottle Rocket competition. It is fast becoming a tradition for a Jesienouski to take home the Big Prize! Taylor won this year with a height of 412 feet...it was awesome!
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Warning

I got pulled over today!!! I have never been pulled over before and if it had been an actual ticket, I would be VERY upset, because I was not speeding like he said I was.
I was on 1450 South heading toward Summit, I saw him passing, and looked at my speedometer, like you do, and I was going about 45 and I had just passed a 40 mph sign (where the road widens in front of Stone Cliff) and he flipped around and turned his lights on. He came up to my window and said, "You were speeding." I said, "Yeah, I guess I was a little bit...45 in a 40." He said, "You must have slowed down then. I got you at 51 in a 35." Yeah, right. I said, "I wasn't going 51 and I've never even been pulled over before" but that was as cheeky as I got. He gave me a warning. Grrr. I guess I should be glad, but I really wasn't speeding.
It wasn't 30 seconds after he let me go that he had another car pulled over. I think he was just bored. The worst part was I had Taylor with me and she couldn't wait to tell Scott and Shaylie. So much for my perfect record. I guess one warning every 22 years isn't so bad.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Listen to the Still Small Voice!

I just have to share this wonderful experience that Taylor had yesterday. She told me it would be okay! I always feel that when we see the hand of the Lord in our lives it is important to acknowledge it, be grateful for it and share it with others!

So, if you read about camp already, you know what happened at the testimony meeting at camp. If you didn't, here is the abbreviated version...Taylor spoke for about 30 minutes about her family and friends, she didn't get a chance to finish since she was asked to wrap it up by one of the leaders to leave time for others, she felt REALLY bad about taking so much time and then not even bearing witness of her true feelings about the gospel and the Savior, she stayed up most of the night crying & beating herself up about it and had been moping whenever anyone mentioned it since we've come home. My prayer for her was that she could feel good about the things she said that night and only have good memories of camp in the years to come. Whenever I mentioned it, she would get all funky so I decided to not say anything about it, hoping that time would pass and she would move on and only remember the good stuff.

At any rate, my mom was visiting for the weekend and Taylor talked Grandma into taking her back to Holden, when she left on Sunday, until we would join them on Pioneer Day. She got packed & loaded up Sunday morning as we were all getting ready for church. Taylor kept saying to me, "I feel like I'm forgetting something." "What am I missing?" "Can you think of anything?" I told her we'd bring anything that she might forget and sent them on their way.

About half an hour before church started, I got a phone call. It was Taylor calling from my mom's cell phone. "We're coming back," she says, "I just have a feeling I need to go to church today." And so they came back, Mom dropped Taylor off and she went upstairs to get ready. My mom said she would wait at my sister's until we got back. I was just thrilled that Taylor was coming with us. Like most teenagers, she keeps her eyes open for any excuse not to come to church and being in the car on the way out of town was one of the best excuses ever. I wasn't about to question it. :)

We went to church and I didn't really think about why Taylor might have been meant to be at church until we went to the Young Women's class and Brother Massey got up to speak, a very unusual occurance since he doesn't regularly attend with us. He started to say how he'd been having very strong feelings about saying a few words to the Young Women. He talked to them about the camp testimony meeting and about how the things that Taylor said that night were completely appropriate and that she shouldn't feel bad about anything that happened that night. He spoke to the leaders and said that it was completely appropriate that time was a concern and that no one should feel badly for what happened. He talked about how all the girls bonded that night and that we all needed the words that were said.

I was watching Taylor as this speech took place and as soon as the testimony meeting was mentioned I could see all the feelings of shame and embarassment that she'd had since we'd come home return to her face. However, the more she listened to Brother Massey, I could see her sitting up taller, starting to smile. I saw those bad feelings lifted from her, and I was in awe!! As far as I knew, Brother Massey didn't even know that Taylor had been feeling so badly about it. But to see the change that came over her was so amazing. By the end, she was practically glowing.

Afterwards, I went up to Brother Massey and told him that Taylor had been on her way out of town and was called back to come to church. I was so proud of her for listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. She needed to hear his words, she needed to be there for that. It would have been so easy to keep going, to ignore her feelings, but she didn't.

I truly feel like this was an answer to our prayers. I feel so strongly that the Lord loves his children individually...He knows Taylor and felt her pain and knew exactly what she needed to feel better. How blessed we are as children of a loving Heavenly Father! I'm so grateful to Brother Massey, too, for listening to the promptings he felt to come and say what he did. I just know that Taylor will always look at this whole experience as a miracle in her life. When things like this happen, I just don't know how anyone can doubt the power of God in our lives. He lives, He loves us, He wants us to be happy!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Camp Day Three...The End & The Beginning

It was a little harder to get girls up on the last day because of the lateness of the activities the night before. As I returned from my morning ablutions, I went to each tent singing a wake up song "Good Morning To You!"....most of the girls stirred but Lauren H. was the sleepiest. We finally all gathered in her tent and Janna Adams sang "Up, up in the sky"which she told Lauren was always followed by cold water. Lauren was up pretty quick after that and with a smile. :) The girls all got a head start on getting bags and bedding packed up.
Breakfast was a yummy dutch oven hash but had to be pushed back a little bit for cook time. We went to the morning Flag Ceremony and then back to camp to eat. I think most of the girls really enjoyed this breakfast. Sister Miguel and Sister Dewey surprised us with a morning devotional.

After cleanup, which again went so quickly thanks to many helpful hands, we had our 4th year girls take charge of some fun activities. Lauren taught the girls a fun game called "Dippity, Dippity, Dip" and Aspen had a fun gift exchange game. She brought each girl and leader a bandana filled with fun prizes like sunglasses, nail polish, and other fun cute stuff and as she read a story with the girls name in it the gifts had to be passed around the circle, one space for each year of camp attended. So cute and fun! Yay Aspen for taking the time to prepare for this great activity! Finally, Tori taught all of us the Cup Clap game. She was a terrific teacher. It was a little complex and she was teaching a large group, but she broke it down and took it slow and eventually we all got the rhythm and had a great time! These girls were great examples of 4th year campers!!

Next up was Friendship Bracelets. We had cording, beads and an easy pattern to follow from Annette's younger years and the girls picked these up so quickly. The bracelets turned out super cute too. We had some fun lampwork beads that I ordered ahead of time--bugs, snakes, frogs, flowers, and pony beads. Many girls made more than one to give to friends, moms, sisters, etc. (I actually wanted to make one for my Shaylie, but then decided that they were so easy that I would let her make her own once we got home. She picked it up so quickly that she has decided that she wants to sell them at an upcoming yard sale...she's my entrepreneur...always looking for something to sell. I bought her some supplies and she's already made about 4 of them and sold one! You go, girl!!!) An exciting moment came during this activity when someone noticed that Ashlea had a bug in her hair and the more girls that noticed and made scared noises, the more Ashlea started to panic. I hurried over and saw that she had a big (quite big) beetle in with long antennae kind of tucked under her hair. I just grabbed it and threw it as far as I could. Poor Ashlea...the first rule in this situation is Do Not Freak Out The Girl With The Bug In Her Hair...but these are teenage girls we're talking about, not to mention a few leaders!! ;)

Because we had a later breakfast, we also pushed lunch back until after the closing flag ceremony. Brother Staheli was already heading up the effort to break camp! Boy did we love having Brother Staheli with us this week! He was so enthusiastic about everything, even doing the Toot-a-tot dance, and he got us packed up and ready to go in record time!

We were heading down the mountain by about 3:30. Kasey had asked if I could drop her off at her grandparents in Cedar City and I was happy to do that. All the girls piled in and we said goodbye to camp!

By the time I caught up to everyone else at the church in St. George, parents had already arrived to pick up girls. We had a few forget stuff and some things with unidentified owners, but I'm sure we'll get that all sorted out by the next activity we have at the church.

Well, I'm sure I've forgotten a lot of the details...but it was an amazing few days at camp! Better than I dreamed it would be! I'm sure this will be an experience that will stay in my heart and mind forever!


  • I want to express my deep, undying gratitude for all the help, support, great ideas, leadership, and laughter that I received from my official camp helpers: Annette Belnap and Janna Adams. Both of these ladies made my job so much easier and so much more fun! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • My thanks, again, to the YW leadership! What beautiful, amazing women you are!!! I am so glad my daughter has you in her life to help guide her and help her learn what kind of woman to be when she is grown.

  • Another heartfelt thanks to our Bishopric! You all helped make our Testimony night so special! Thank you for letting yourselves be guided by the Spirit and for touching us all with your wisdom and wonderfulness.

  • My apologies to Josie Robison!!! We didn't get to do your bedtime story on Thursday night and I was so looking forward to it! Please let's do it at some activity...maybe Camp Awards night! I am sorry we ran out of time and I forgot to remember it on Friday! Thanks for your willingness to help with it! Thanks to Sister Reid for her story, as well!!!

  • Extra special thanks to all the Stake leaders from our ward! Brother Neil Bennett, who spent a lot of time in our camp and really added something with his experience and great advice! Sister Cheryl Cozzens, who was so encouraging and supportive to me! And Sister Rosie Miguel, who is always so wonderful, and who delivered a wonderful devotional to us on Friday morning. I saw a plaque with the Mother Teresa poem you read to us at the mall this weekend and I was so tempted to buy it...I loved it so much!

  • Thanks to our YCLs, especially Katelynn Neumeier! We were very well looked after thanks to their planning and good efforts. We loved the morning devotionals and handouts.

  • To all the wonderful Young Women of the Washington Fields 5th Ward...you are incredible, amazing, talented, fun, beautiful, kind, generous, clever, creative, responsible, and all things superlative!!! Thanks for letting me be a part of your Camp experience! Know that you were in exactly the right place, for exactly the right time! Thanks for giving so much of yourselves to all of us! I love you all!!!!

And, I'm happy to say that the Camp Experience has not quite yet come to an end. We will have our awards night in a week from Tuesday at which time the girls will get a DVD with all our camp pictures and memories on it....provided I can get it done by then. Which I'm sure I will!

So though it's the end, I hope it will just be the beginning of great friendships, many more new memories, and great faith and testimonies for everyone who participated!!!