Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ryan's Official Birthday Post

We began the birthday festivities with the Caress family over for dinner. The menu was chosen by Ryan: quesadillas and guacamole for appetizers, then steak, iceberg wedges with all the trimmings, baked yams with all the fixings, rolls, watermelon and Dr. Pepper. For the birthday cake: See's candies and mini Baskin Robbins cones, he does not like cake. We took the traditional birthday questionnaire and here were the results:

All About Ryan

  • What is Ryan’s favorite Disney movie? The Jungle Book
  • What is Ryan’s favorite dessert? Creme Brulee and brownies
  • What is the one thing Ryan is MOST looking forward to in the coming year? graduating with his MBA
  • Who is Ryan’s favorite Book of Mormon character? Abinadi
  • Goatee: with or without? with won the vote
  • What is Ryan’s biggest pet peeve? when people are late (others guessed: hypocrisy, dogs, dishonesty, re-doing projects, diet soda, camping, going without food, hair on his back, his snap hook.)
  • What does Ryan want for his daughters by the time they each turn 25? (3 things) a mission, a college degree, and marriage in the temple
  • Superbowl or Masters: which would it be if he HAD to choose one of them to watch? Masters (golf tournament)
  • What is Ryan’s favorite thing about having all girls? they take care of him
  • Name three of Ryan’s best characteristics. Lisa: his sense of responsibility, he is honorable, he never uses "unrighteous dominion" to bully or get his way. Maya: he is my dad, funny, protects me. Chris: athletic, related to me. Kym: go getter, focused. Diane: salesmanship, tenacity, loyalty. Meagan: persistence, his golf game, his love of food. Matt: aggressive, humor, compassion, he's always there. Madison: funny, food lover, athletic. McKayla: funny, protective, nice. Monterey: he likes to go to the pool, he goes to work, he loves me. Tom: high energy, can really eat, his long drive.
The next event was the trip to Laguna Beach which received it's own post. Here is the link, in case you missed it.

Now on to the actual Birthday. It started with a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday sung by the five people who love him most in this world. We served him breakfast in bed with his favorite omelet, toast, strawberries and OJ. He went to work, then left early to go shopping and get a pedicure. For dinner we went out with friends to Ruth Chris Steakhouse. We enjoyed all of it and for an extra birthday treat, it was "taken care of" for us.

Ryan has one more birthday present left that he will go to next week, which will get it's own post. But rest assured, Ryan was and will be well taken care of.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ryan's Getaway

This is not Ryan's official birthday post. This is just a portion of his birthday this year.

Ryan, with his marvelous Marriott discounts, has been seeking a good price for the Laguna Beach Ritz Carlton for a while. He finally found it and reserved for his birthday. Just the two of us. Ryan's mother generously took care of the children for the two nights and three days. So with the house cleaned and the laundry done, it was time to hit the road.

We arrived at 3:30 and checked into our room. It was gorgeous. We were on the ground floor with a balcony with the ocean view. The way the facility is set up puts the main floor at the third floor and the hotel goes down the cliff from there. So the lower the floor, the closer you are to the ocean. Love opening up the french doors and having the ocean right there, sitting in the comfy chairs, watching and listening to the waves with little bunnies hopping by. You know ... the good life.

For dinner that night, we went to Mastro's Ocean Club. Ryan had been wanting to try it for a while. It was pretty good. Great ambiance, good food, but nothing that knocked my socks off. I mean it was good, but lately we have been eating at some pretty good, very good places. So know we either have to eat out in a hoity-toity place more rarely or we are going to not appreciate it as much. Ryan just rolls his eyes that we have this problem, but I think every other week is the max I can handle. Sorry sweetheart.

The next morning we were up at 6:30 and went to the Newport Beach Temple. I love it. In spite of the pink exterior - which I did not notice until someone pointed it out and now I can't stop seeing pink - the interior is done with rich woods which I love.

We spent the rest of the afternoon basking in the sunshine, the beach, the pool, napping. This relaxation thing is nice. It's great really. My brain turned to jello. I felt like sleeping the whole time. Relaxing exhausts me. But what a great place to go.

For dinner that night, we went to a little local Italian place with our old friends (they are not old, but we had been friends for our whole marriages) Dave and Kirsti. They introduced us to Luciana's. It was awesome.
We had:
Fagiolini Verdi Chile battered green beans, lightly fried, served with a roasted red chili aioli
Caprese Fresh buffalo mozzarella with slices of roma tomatoes topped with basil, oregano and extra virgin olive oil
Insalata di Spinaci Baby spinach and radicchio with sliced apples, goat cheese and gorgonzola, tossed with balsamic vinaigrette and topped with caramelized pecans
Rigatoni Salciccia Large tubes of pasta with sausage, grilled chicken and mushrooms in a light tomato cream sauce
Cannelloni Rolled pasta sheets filled with roasted minced chicken, ricotta cheese and herbs in a tomato sauce topped with pesto
Crème Brulee Creamy vanilla custard and chunks of chocolate topped with caramelized sugar

The next morning, after sleeping in, Ryan suggested we get room service. Anyone who knows Ryan, knows that Ryan never lets us get room service because he believes it is a scam. So this was a very big deal. I had to document that for posterity.

Another dip in the pool, a poolside lunch, and we were back to reality.

Happy Birthday, part 1.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I LOVE Kinder

Short post, but one I did not want to forget. Maya is saying the funniest things with vocabulary that kind of throws me off every once in a while. Here was a brief snippet from a conversation we had after school on Thursday:

Maya: Mom, you know Sami?
Me: Yes.
Maya: Her name is also Samantha, but we can call her Sam or Sami.
Me: Which does she prefer?
Maya: She like Sami, but today I called her Sam. You know what mom?
Me: What?
Maya: Sam likes ham and Sam and ham rhyme. That is such a coincidence.
Me: You're right, that is quite the coincidence.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

March Miscelanii

We started the month with the joyous arrival of a new cousin: Gwenyth. Miraculously born on her due date, even. We love adding new cousins and this is our first girl Caress cousin. Sweetie Pie Baby Gwen.

Madison and McKayla and McKayla's friend, Elly went paint balling. Apparently, there is great joy in getting messy, so much so that being hit over and over again with little pellets of paint is actually fun. We love Elly and we always have many giggles together. Even a little side trip to Jack-in-the-Box was totally fun.

Here is our St. Patrick's Day breakfast. Madison made breakfast: green eggs, shamrock shaped toast and Lucky Charms. Notice she even used green dishes? Madison is a pro.

We also had corned beef and cabbage and Irish soda bread with mint brownies (that was just for the green.) I had put the corned beef in the crock pot in the wee hours of the morning. By lunch time, the girls wanted to eat some. No problem, we have plenty. I put cabbage in and made some soda bread and they chowed down. Apparently the crock pot is a great place to cook it, because before we knew it, it was gone. G-O-N-E, gone. I felt really bad because Ryan loves corned beef sandwiches and he saw me cooking it so he would be anticipating it all day long. And come home to nothing. Not good. Ryan's moods are largely dictated by what is in his tummy. I had six hours to fix the problem. Plenty of time to cook a new corned beef.

Off to the store. La-la-la-la-la ... doing my shopping ... la-la-la-la-la. How peculiar. No corned beef. Lisa: "Do you have anymore corned beef?" Butcher: "Nope, we are all sold out." You gotta be kiddin' me.

Next store: repeat.

One last store: repeat.

(It turned out Costco had them, but I only found that out two days later.) Apparently, here in the desert, corned beef is really popular AND by that time I only had two hours until dinner time. Okay, so now I have to figure out how to break Ryan's heart. He took it like a man. He was actually happy that at least the girls like it so the chances of me cooking it again went much higher.

Chinese was quite yummy and there were no crowds.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lisalogy: Another Facebook activity that allows you to peer into my soul.

* * * * * * * * * * * FOODOLOGY* * * * * * * * * * *****

What is your salad dressing of choice?
Ranch. But only freshly made. The stuff in bottles makes me ill.

What is your favorite sit-down restaurant?
The French Laundry (which makes my answer to the next one really quite ironic.)

What food could you eat everyday for two weeks and not get sick of?
Peanut butter and jelly. I know, my refined palate is mind-boggling. But during pregnancy it was my best friend and I really did eat it and nothing else for lengths of time and yet, in spite of that, I still love it.

What are your pizza toppings of choice?
lots and lots of veggies

Chocolate or Vanilla?

* * * * * * * * * * * TECHNOLOGY * * * * * * * * * * *****

How many televisions are in your house?
Two that are hooked up through cable and one for just videos for the kids.

Do you have a laptop?
No and I have very bitter feelings about this so let's stop dwelling on it right now!

How about a desktop?
yes, two

How many cell phones do you own?
one (Ryan has one as well)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * BIOLOGY* * * * * * * * * * * * *****

Are you right - handed or left- handed?

Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
Teeth, cysts, my uterus, four babies (2 by c-section, the other 2 came out the normal way)

What is the last heavy item you lifted?
A huge bag of library books

Have you ever been knocked unconscious?
In sixth grade, during a particularly intense dodge ball game.

* * * * * * * * * * * * BULLCRAPOLOGY* * * * * * * * * *****

If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
It depends.

If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
My mom wanted to name me Zandra. I wanted that for a couple years. I really do not care about changing my name 'cause naming your children kind of lets you have the fun.

Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1000?
Yes. I would eat or drink anything for $1,000. As long as it didn't violate my religious principles or has been sitting out for more than two hours when it should have been refrigerated. I am greedy, but not stupid.

* * * * * * * * * * * * DUMBOLOGY* * * * * * * * * * * * * *****

How many pairs of flip flops do you own?
Right this second? Six. But, I am a little short. I need to go to Old Navy and stock up for the year. It is all I wear. McKayla and Madison are starting to steal mine.

Last time you had a run-in with the cops?
Ryan got a ticket about over a year ago. I have not even been pulled over since I was pregnant with McKayla over 13 years ago.

Last person you talked to?
Monterey. I told her, if she wants an otter pop, she has to ask one of her sisters.

Last person you hugged?
Willadean McRae. Our pianist at church. She is really good and I hope she does not feel under-appreciated. I just had to thank her today. (I actually had hugged all my girls since then. Monterey was hugged less than a minute ago.)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * FAVORITOLOGY* * * * * * * * * * * *****

Sorry, I love them all for different reasons. My four daughter were each born in a different season. If I had known, I could have named them Winter, Spring, Autumn and Summer.

Christmas. I know ... nothing original here, but it is just so joyous for so many reasons.

Day of the week?
Saturday. Even when we are busy, I love having everyone home.

It changes. I used to love the summer months. Now that I live in a desert/oven it is hard to love. December is good, but it can get too busy. October and April. There you go. The best travel months. Halloween and Easter. My church's General Conference. Decent weather.

* * * * * * * * * * * CURRENTOLOGY* * * * * * * * * * * * *****

Missing anyone?
I have been missing my dad today (he passed away over five years ago.)

Anxious. With so many things to do, why I am doing this?

What are you listening to?
60 Minutes and Monterey slurping on an Otter Pop.

60 Minutes

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * RANDOMOLOGY* * * * * * * * * * * *****

First place you went this morning?
To turn on the computer. Same every morning.

What's the last movie you saw?
High School Musical 3 in theaters. The Dolly Sisters (old) on DVR (I always scour TCM and AMC for good oldies to show the girls.)

Do you smile?

Do you always answer your phone?
NO. I only answer if it is my area code or someone I recognize.

You get a text message at 4 a.m. Who is it?
My niece's (when they lived in CT.) They had no sense of time zones.

If you could change your eye color what would it be?
Glow-in-the-dark green. Actually I would not change them, but it would be fun to get some funky contacts.

What flavor do you add to your drink at Sonic?
Cherry Limeade. I love it at Hot-Dog-on-a-Stick too.

Do you own a digital camera?
Yes and it is waterproof so I can take underwater pictures with it. I love it.

Have you ever had a pet fish?
Yes. Did any of them live beyond a week? No. I'm not proud, just warning you all to not give me a fish. It is always manslaughter. I have no ill will toward them fish folk.

Favorite Christmas song(s)?
The Partridge Family Christmas Album. All of it. Thank you Susan for introducing me to the most kick-butt Christmas songs ever!

What's on your wish list for your birthday?
I always want the same thing every year: a weekend trip with Ryan and the girls where we go to a baseball game and hang out on the beach. I love experiences with tradition and good memories. I would rather hang out with those five people than anybody else. Luckily, Ryan sets it up every year since he started working for Marriott.

Can you do push ups?
If you'll except really lame looking ones.

Can you do a chin up?

Does the future make you excited?
When I think about my children, yes. When I think about society, no. But ready or not, here we come.

Do you have any saved texts?
I am too retarded at texting to intentionally saved or trash any of them.

Ever been in a car wreck?
Yes, two that were like scrapers and one that was a little more. No one was ever hurt and no insurance was ever involved so I have a nice clean record.

Do you have an accent?
No, although some people teased me about saying worsh instead of wash when I was young. Nobody has mentioned it for years so I think I finally overcame it. Or maybe people are just being nice.

What is the last song to make you cry?
This isn't really a fair question because almost every song makes me cry (church types or mushy-gushy.) But the last song where I had to clean up mascara was on Friday hearing "I Loved Her First" It is totally for the father-daughter dance at the wedding and I always think about Ryan "giving away" his four daughters. Needless to say, it is pretty pathetic to see.

Plans tonight?
Amazing Race and about three hours on the computer to get ready for the M-F tornado.

Have you ever felt like you hit rock bottom?
Yes, but those were when I ended up feeling the love of God the most in my life so it ended up being a positive thing. Besides if you never hit bottom, you wouldn't know how good the good stuff was.

Have you ever been given roses?
yes I love roses that last a long time and I love every color, especially new ones I have never see before. For the last two Mother's Days at church Ryan was in charge of buying roses for all the moms. Translation: I bought them, trimmed the thorns, kept them hydrated, transported them to the church and Ryan helped carry them in. Anyway I digress. My point is, picking out the colors and seeing all those flowers was worth all the band-aids after wards. I don't think I have the talent as a florist, but I definitely love hanging out with flowers.

Current hate right now?
My little one's crazy school schedule. Half-day Pre-K and Kinder is a killer.

Met someone who changed your life?
Anyone I consider a friend has had an impact on me. I consider all my friends mentors. A few have changed my life in major ways. Every has a story and I love listening to what makes people tick. I find people's opinions and life stories fascinating. It is amazing how you can think you know someone based on appearance and a five-minute conversation. But later you realize they are truly amazing when you stop and hear their stories.

How did you bring in the New Year?
With McKayla (13) and Madison (11) playing board games and watching the New Year's shows and eating Chinese food (our yearly tradition.)

Would you go back in time if you were given the chance?
That is tough. Do I have regrets? Oh yeah. But I think I have learned something from them so I would be a different person. You just gotta move on and not spend much time with daydreaming about a perfect life.

Have you ever dated someone longer than a year?
No, not even my husband. I figured out that "he's not that into you" thing early on and I never liked wasting time. I have been married to my husband for over 15 years so it wasn't commitment issues.

Do you have any tattoos/ piercings?
One in each ear. I used to have a second one in my right ear but it has closed over the years.

Does anyone love you?
Oh yeah. But only the coolest, smartest, most wonderful people in the world. If you do not love me, I think you are a stupid loser. not really. (yes, really.)

Would you be a pirate?
In a heartbeat. That is why I was born in an era without pirates ... to keep me from that lifestyle. I think I would have been a good one except I would have been more like a Robin Hood and given away my plunder to the down-trodden.

What songs do you sing in the shower?
I sing when the little ones are in the tub next to me at the same time. Usually "You are My Sunshine" or something that has to do with rain 'cause I like to take the hand-held nozzle and rinse them off from their bubbles.

Ever had someone sing to you?
My kids, the entertainment at Macarios, random guys in college (I went to BYU where that was fairly common.)

Do you like to cuddle?

Have you held hands with anyone today?
my daughters Monterey (4) and Maya (5)

Who was the last person you took a picture of?
McKayla, her friend Elly, Madison, and Monterey at Panera on Saturday morning.

What kind of music did you listen to in elementary school?
I loved Elton John. I think that was the first music I ever purchased on my own.

Are most of the friends in your life new or old?

Do you like pulpy orange juice?
Yes. I grew up with about 12 orange trees in our yard and we would have squeezing marathons when it was time to strip the oranges off. We burned out three Kitchen Aid motors ... probably due to those marathons and we never strained. So I don't feel like it taste like fresh squeezed OJ without the pulp.

Have you ever ridden an elephant?
Yes, as a matter of fact. In Thailand. I'll have to scan the picture so everyone will believe me. It was at their world famous crocodile farm. I did a lot of once in a lifetime things that day.

Do you like to play Scrabble?
Yes. I have the computer game and I usually play when I am talking to my mom on the phone. I have to multitask everything.

When is the last time you ate peanut butter and jelly?
Thursday for lunch. I wish I could get away with serving it for dinner. I love it!!

What were you doing 12 AM last night?
Watching Saturday Night Live

Friday, March 13, 2009


I have been spending a lot of time recently thinking about trials. I don't know of anyone who hasn't had them. Maybe it is because we see it all day long on the news for the past five months plus: unemployment numbers, people losing their homes, financial ruin. Or maybe I see it in the lives of people I know, whether it be problems which are health related, economic, or losing homes.

Last night I went to a welfare training meeting. Nothing new, just the same basic good principles. I started pondering on the difference between those who overcome their trials and those who simply don't. Case by case there are major consistencies in all the situations. Some of these lessons I have seen my whole life repeated over and over. In my current calling, I know a little bit more intimately the struggles, and without revealing anything personal, I have come to a few conclusions as I see more clearly than ever the difference between those who overcome and those that are over burdened with trials.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins has deep meaning. Many people see it as looking forward to the last days, but like many parables it can have many layers of meaning. If we are spiritually prepared, when ANY trial comes we are ready to cope. We don't know when a health issue will suddenly come upon us or a loved one. We cannot predict the financial troubles that might come. We know we cannot predict earthquakes. Any of these trials can come at any time, regardless of our personal righteousness or wickedness or laziness or when we are "on a break" from church or when we receive a huge responsibility. Do we have the oil in our lamp when it comes? Because we cannot predict the trial, we better be ready at all times. Keep that oil ready for anything, any time, for any reason. When life is good, bad or ugly. Keep the oil ready.

Those who have plenty of oil know that they can overcome anything thrown at them. Some trials are quickly overcome, some take months and others years. Some people have a lifetime of trials. It is possible to replenish your oil as you are using it up.

So how do we keep the oil in our lamps? We make every effort to follow the commandments and our Priesthood leaders' guidance. What does that mean? Hear is my list, based upon my own observations.

1. Be active in church.

2. Prayer & Scripture Study. Most people already know this because it is the standard answer to everything in the church. But why is it standard? Because it is true and it works. This morning, during scripture study I read this from the Doctrine and Covenants, section 58, verse 2-4.

2 For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that akeepeth my commandments, whether in life or in bdeath; and he that is cfaithful in dtribulation, the ereward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.

3 Ye cannot behold with your natural aeyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the bglory which shall follow after much tribulation.

4 For after much atribulation come the bblessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be ccrowned with much dglory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.

That was exactly what I had been pondering about in my morning prayer. It happens time and time again. You can pray all day, but if you want the answers you have to make the effort to allow Him to communicate back.

3. Pay your tithing. This does not make sense on paper, but boy does it work. It is an absolute act of faith and the more impoverished you are, the more of a sacrifice it is, the more you can be blessed.

But there is a little more. For example you cannot take your last $50 and pay your tithing and then spend the rest on a want instead of a need and expect that the Lord will take care of your needs. You need to focus on sustaining life, not lifestyle (that was from the welfare training and I thought it was quite profound). After you have given up all the lifestyle expenses (the gym membership, the cable, etc.) and you focus on sustaining life (the rent, the food, electricity, water, gas, etc.) and pay your tithing, then the Lord can bless you. We will not be blessed until we have shown the appropriate sacrifice.

We also cannot put in our order and tell the Lord how to send the blessings. We cannot say: "Okay, I paid my tithing and now I want to inherit a million dollars." "Now that my tithing is paid, I should have a job in the next 48 hours." Or "I want the bill collector to drop dead." We will be blessed, but we have to have gratitude so we can recognize the blessings as they come.

4. Keep the commandments. This should seem pretty straight forward.

So the result of doing numbers one through four entitles you to have the Spirit with you and allows you access to blessings and guidance and peace.

Finally I would like to post the member's responsibility portion of the welfare program. You can read all about any of these subjects on this link.

Members’ Responsibilities
Priesthood and Relief Society leaders should help members understand their responsibilities for themselves, their families, and others.
Provide for Self and Family
Church members are responsible for their own spiritual and temporal well-being. Blessed with the gift of agency, they have the privilege of setting their own course, solving their own problems, and striving to become self-reliant. Members do this under the inspiration of the Lord and with the labor of their own hands.
Elements of Self-Reliance
Self-reliance is the ability, commitment, and effort to provide the necessities of life for self and family. As members become self-reliant, they are also better able to serve and care for others. When Church members are doing all they can to provide for themselves but still cannot meet their basic needs, they should first turn to their families for help. When this is not sufficient, the Church stands ready to assist.
Some of the areas in which members should become self-reliant are outlined below.
Education. Education can enrich, ennoble, and provide understanding that leads to a happier life. Members should study the scriptures and other good books; improve their ability to read, write, and do basic mathematics; and obtain skills needed for suitable employment.
Health. The Lord has commanded members to take care of their minds and bodies. They should obey the Word of Wisdom, eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, and get adequate sleep. They should shun substances or practices that abuse their bodies or minds and that could lead to addiction. They should practice good sanitation and hygiene and obtain adequate medical and dental care. They should also strive to cultivate good relationships with family members and others.
Employment. Work is the foundation upon which self-reliance and temporal well-being rest. Members should prepare for and carefully select a suitable occupation or self-employment that will provide for their own and their families’ needs. They should become skilled at their jobs, be diligent and trustworthy, and give honest work for the pay and benefits they receive.
Home Storage. To help care for themselves and their families, members should:
– Build a three-month supply of food that is part of their normal diet.
– Store drinking water in case the water supply becomes polluted or disrupted.
– Gradually build a longer-term supply of food that will sustain life.
Finances. To become financially self-reliant, members should:
– Pay tithes and offerings.
– Avoid unnecessary debt.
– Use a budget and live within a plan.
– Gradually build a financial reserve by regularly saving a little.
– Teach family members principles of financial management.
Spiritual Strength. Spirituality is essential to a person’s temporal and eternal well-being. Church members should exercise faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, obey God’s commandments, pray daily, study the scriptures and teachings of the latter-day prophets, attend Church meetings, and serve in Church callings and assignments.
Care for Others During His mortal ministry, the Savior walked among the poor, the sick, and the distressed, ministering to their needs and blessing them with healing and hope. He taught His disciples to do the same. Reaching out to those in distress is a central characteristic of the disciples of Jesus Christ

In our day the Lord has again commanded His people to care for the poor and needy. He said, “Behold, I say unto you, that ye must visit the poor and the needy and administer to their relief” (D&C 44:6). Church members are encouraged to give personal compassionate service to those in need. They should be “anxiously engaged in a good cause,” serving without being asked or assigned (see D&C 58:26–27). The Lord has described His way for caring for the poor and needy. He instructed the Saints to “impart of your substance unto the poor, . . . and [it] shall be laid before the bishop . . . [and] shall be kept in my storehouse, to administer to the poor and the needy” (D&C 42:31, 34).

The Lord further explained that these offerings should include members’ talents. These talents are “to be cast into the Lord’s storehouse, . . . every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God” (D&C 82:18–19).

The Lord’s storehouse is not limited to a building used to distribute food to the poor. It includes the faithful offerings of time, talents, compassion, materials, and financial means of faithful members given to the bishop to care for the poor and needy. The Lord’s storehouse, then, exists in each ward. The bishop is the agent of the Lord’s storehouse.