Monday, December 29, 2008

Merry Christmas...

to all our friends and family!!!! {and our lurker friends} As you can see by the presents behind my little guys, living in Costa Rica did not affect their present intake. :) Santa found us just as we had hoped.
Our Christmas season was filled with decorations, hot weather, Christmas music, walking to the beach, decorating sugar cookies and much of the same we would have experienced in the states.

It has been difficult to enjoy our necessary cups of Hot Chocolate and warm sugar cookies with the weather as warm as it's been, but the kids didn't seem to mind.

Most of our presents were brought in from the states. If we were to purchase presents here we'd either pay double the price as in the states for brand name or purchase a toy from overseas that just wouldn't survive the day. {Very cheaply made but expensive} So we shopped on the Internet and had everything shipped to my mother-in-law. She, like the angel she is, brought it all in with her; four boxes worth of presents and supplies.

So I'm warning all of you ahead of time, we would love to have you come and stay with us, however you will probably get a request or two for a few bags of brown sugar, baking soda or the like. Just fair warning. :)

Aiden got this red bike from Santa, however later we learned he had actually asked Santa for a yellow bike.

I hope Aiden will be able to deal with the rojo.

I love Christmas morning hair. :)

Landon wanted me to be a cowboy mommy. Both the little ones wanted a cowboy hat but Santa only brought one. That wasn't the best decision on Santa's part.

Friday, December 19, 2008

You are Going to Love me For This One...

this recipes is AMAZING and incredibly easy.
It just can't be this easy and that good...but those of you that trust me and make this one will sing my praises forever.

Actually you should be singing "mi amiga" Mehgan's praises, it's her recipe.

But I am the messenger. That should count for something.

So {drum roll please} here goes:

I will call them Mehgan's Magic Miracles, what do you think?

3/4 cup Butter
1 Cup of Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup approximately of chocolate chips
Saltine Crackers.

Place tinfoil on a cookie sheet, lay the crackers down evenly with the salt facing down. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a sauce pot, add sugar stir briskly until it boils. Continue stirring rapidly as the mixture congeals and gets thicker, approx 5 minutes. You want it to stay a golden colour. Pour over the crackers, then sprinkle chocolate chips on top and place in the oven until the mix starts to boil through the crackers. Let them cool.

That's it.

They are delish. Sorry I don't have a picture. In the end they will look like a thin piece of chocolate covered English toffee.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Last Call for Christmas Cards...

If you'd like to send us a Christmas card we would REALLY love to get it!!!

Wes's mother is coming down for Christmas. If you send it out to her today or tomorrow she'll bring it down to us.

Oh, and THANK YOU for taking the extra effort to get it to us. :)

The Banagas Family
c/o Colleen Foote
32801 Silver Charm Court
Menifee, Ca 92584

So for gifts this year we have decided the kids are getting 3.

One from Santa, we talked to him to confirm this would be o.k.

One store bought and brought in from the states. (Toys here don't last more than an hour or two)

And one handmade.

I have actually had a great time hand making the 3 gifts that are done.

Yes I know Christmas is in less than a week and I have 2 left. (AUGH!!!) :)

So I made a tutu for PAIGE with all the frills. It's is adorable, I hope it can survive what she will put it through. I'm sure it will end up on our dog at least a few times.

Aiden and Landon are receiving super cute Superman capes. What boy doesn't deserve one of these. We've always tied towels, sheet or pillowcases to create them...that is until now. Now they will have professional supercapes.

I think I will keep this tradition. (the hand making of presents...I don't know if the 3 present idea will fly.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A little Catch-up...

We ran out of here is a week's worth of photos.

What is sweeter than 2 little boys, fresh out of the bath wrapped up in a white towel (or sheet because laundry wasn't done)?


My friend Costa Rica has helped catapult my children's imagination to higher levels. I'm so thankful. Here my little guys have found pet snakes to play with. {Daddy's belts}
Paige made this caterpillar out of a broken ornament and tape. {I think she was involved in the crime, breaking the ornament}
But isn't Henry the caterpillar beautiful? He gave her at least an hour of entertainment.

This is the designer wrench my sweetheart created for me when he changed out our shower head. He thought the juice was off in the bathroom, but alas it wasn't. :)

It was quite scary...the electricity in the entire "casa" went off for a few seconds and with the scream that came from my honey's mouth at the same time left us all quite concerned. Turns out the sparks that were flying were the reason for his yell.


I had to throw this one in for good measure. Paige has given me a hard time with taking medicine lately, so I've had to be a little creative. I pull the capsule apart and then plan my creative attack. I thought this was funny...I spread the capsules on the frosting of a homemade cookie and the medicine looked like white sprinkles.

Smart, huh?

Nope...she caught me! Wouldn't even swallow it.

Back to the drawing board.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cute (freaky) Snowmen..

I saw this over at . Candy corn for noses and candy eyes for...eyes. Put them on small white powdered doughnut and you are the domestic queen!

Wouldn't this be adorable for Christmas morning?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cookie Exchange and Saving Money...

Kelly from had this idea to share:

How to host the perfect Cookie Exchange Party
1. The husbands and kids went to one house, with snacks to share and beverages.
2. The wives went to a house directly across the street, with beverage and six dozen cookies, in half-dozen packages (so each woman arrived with 12 small bags containing six cookies each.)
3. We put our cookies on the table and opened one package as a sampler. This left 11 bags of half-dozen cookies to be exchanged.
4. We enjoyed conversation, drinks and snacks and when the hostess rang the bell, we each chose three baggies from the table. About 10 minutes and lots of laughter later, she rang the bell again. We each chose three more baggies. And so it went until most the cookies were gone.

There were probably 15-20 women at the gathering and we stayed for about three hours. But the system would work no matter how many women attended. Thanks to my very smart neighbors for creating such a perfect and fun way to host a cookie exchange!

So here is the money saving idea:

Check this out...tons of promotion codes for shopping online or in the store. Very cool! Don't ever shop online without a code! Please.

14 days left!!

Did you know... has a Mormon book club?

Me neither.

Want to check it out?

Go here. I just joined. I'll start with January's book.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Old Navy Deals...

I wish I could really present you with a gift card...but finances won't allow it this year. Maybe next year. However I have something almost as good.

This promo code 20FREESHIP . There it is. Isn't it beautiful? Enter that number/word in the promo box at check out and get 20% off your order plus free shipping if your order reaches over $100.

You can do what I did and only go through their clearance items (make sure you do a search under clearance for the size you are looking for or you'll be frustrated with how many items aren't your child's size).

My breakdown:

Initial cost of the items plus shipping $278

But since all my items were clearance it was only $147 and change with shipping.

Then after entering my magic promo code it plummeted to $120.32

Can we all say, "SWEET!"

This is ONLY good Tuesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday and online only. (shipping is only $7.00 so if you don't want to get to $100 it's not that big of a deal.)

Merry Christmas!

It's Getting Hot in Here...

So our weather is opposite of all of you who live north of Mexico. Us southerners are headed out of "rainy season" and into "dry season". Now that I'm ready to stop making the cinnamon rolls, soups and hot chocolate {although it was a stretch to try and feel that it was cool enough to make those} you are ready for them.

So in honor of Christmas {and winter for you} I'm going to throw a great sugar cookie recipe at you. And free of charge, a few tricks I've learned.

When rolling out your sugar dough, use powdered sugar instead of flour to prepare the rolling pin and counter so the dough doesn't adhere. Don't worry, it won't make them too sugary. I promise.

It will however make sure that you don't get floury dry tasteless cookies. Trust me on this one.

If you are using shortening instead of butter, put plastic wrap into your measuring cup before you add the shortening. Then when you have packed it in, you just pull up on the plastic wrap and pop the shortening out.

This ensures you get all of it out and you don't have a greasy measuring cup to clean afterward.


Did you know you can purchase something called "butter flavoring". It's lovely. Add a little to this recipe {or your homemade rolls} and watch out! You'll have your sweety asking for these cookies even more than he asks for....ahem....water.

Your welcome...oh and don't double this recipe like I did. It already makes 60 servings.
This is courtesy of

The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies
Submitted by: Jill Saunders
Rated: 4 out of 5 by 2071 members Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 8 Minutes Ready In: 3 Hours
Yields: 60 servings

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Seven Month Mark

Just a picture of what a typical street looks like here. Costa Rica does have it's U.S. type streets but not very many of them.

So we have reached the seven month mark...I'm going to take a moment to pat myself on the back here.

I've come up with an analogy for my relationship with Costa Rica. Do you want to hear it?

I figured. {Just humor me} Here goes.

When I first met my friend "Costa Rica" she was beautifully dressed, calming and full of adventure. I wanted to be like her. She seemed perfect.

Then I got close enough to see many brown spots, crows feet and a few occasions when she decided to behave with less than stellar character. {Our floods, struggling with the language and the difficulty of raising a large family here} I had to ask myself if I still wanted Costa Rica as a friend? Did I?

No, I was angry and disappointed.

I quickly learned that I couldn't avoid her. She was everywhere; the store, in town and even in my home. I then decided to stick it out and see what I can learn from her. Boy have I sat at the feet of this instructor. And now, finally, from this view, she is again beautiful to me.

I don't expect her to be something she's not. Her crows feet and quirkiness are what make her more attractive. I'm not trying to make her {Costa Rica} into what I think she should be and then be disappointed when she doesn't conform. I'm starting to love her for who she is...and our relationship is blossoming.

Friday, December 5, 2008

We've Been Busy...

I haven't posted much...partly because of our Internet situation and partly because we haven't been here.

When my sweetheart and his sister have appointments out of town we usually all head out and enjoy a short weekend trip. Lately we've been adventuring through Costa Rica.

I wanted to post a few shots of Punta Leona, I'm not sure I'm spelling that correctly {but most of you won't know that}. Wes sister from LA came to hang with us for Thanksgiving. Did I mention my honey, our two oldest and his visiting sister had lofty plans to escape Costa Rica and head into Panama? Did I also tell you that they {accidentally} went an hour into the country without having their documents stamped? Did you know that you can't cross into Panama with a rental car?

We've learned so much this last week.

When someone {with HUGE guns} finally stopped them in Panama..he just keep repeating their version of "Oh my ___! Oh my ____!"

Finally out of the kindness of his heart {or fear of having to complete a lot of paperwork} he gave them back their passports and said..."Head for the border and don't stop! I never saw you!"

So here we are, spent the money to get the kids their required time out of the country, and no stamp on the passport to prove it.

Soooooo back to what I started to are some pictures of our time at Punta Leona.

My guys castle building {although Troy clearified he was building a fort}.
The younger ones in line for sand packing.
Paige started a sand fight...and won. {Until Wes threw her into to ocean.} Yuck! I hate having sand everywhere.
The beaches are so beautiful here, these are Wes' little sisters. Rusti is due in 5 weeks...doesn't she look great! She gained about 3 pounds a month. Doesn't it make you SICK! :)
More sand sculptures.

My sweetie, his sister Brie and our little Dallin enjoying family time on Thanksgiving day.
Our Thanksgiving day hosts had a boat which kept the kid's entertained most of the day. See Paige playing "little mermaid" at the front? It brought back memories of the Williamson's boat that was stored between our homes when I was a kid. Such great imaginative memories.

What about this view? They were getting ready for a beach wedding. Too bad the rain came 20 minutes after this shot.

Have a happy {no sand} day! I'm off at 12:30 {10:30am your time southern Ca) for my girls getaway. I can't wait.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I've Been Asked to Explain our mail system...

how the mail works here.

I remember when we lived in the states and I would question Rusti about sending her a birthday card or such...she would try to explain it to me...but we mail receivers just can't seem to comprehend the no mail concept.

So here it is:

Basically, Costa Rica does NOT have a government run mail delivery service. The equivalent of our United States Postal Service. Many roads don't even have a street name much less a house address. Our home is home # 43 in our housing tract, however we don't have a street name. No one has mailboxes...oops that is not true. I did find a cute housing tract here that has mailboxes however they are better spider homes then mail deliverers. Of course I have a picture of the mailboxes...somewhere.

So we can get a package shipped here, but it comes through Miami and then we pay a small fortune to pick it up here at the local DVD rental store. Oh, and we have to keep checking in with them to see if it has arrived. They won't call and tell us.

So mail here gets delivered through private companies like UPS, but the mail takes forever...and is costly.

The missionaries here get their mail through the church's pouch system. I'm not sure exactly how that works.

I have to throw in a picture. I took this in San Jose (the Costa Rican capital) last week on one of our adventures.

This flower is absolutely huge! I made Wes stop the car and let me out to take this shot. I dedicate it to my BFF MaryAnn.

Anyone Interested in Studying Abroad?

I found this on one of the Costa Rica "news" blogs I follow. I don't know if anyone is interested but I thought I'd put it out there. :)

Scholarship opportunity for study in Costa Rica

There is a highly regarded study abroad program which offers intensive Spanish immersion in one of the most biologically diverse countries on the planet. Take a good look at Costa Rica ¡Pura Vida! for the summer experience of a lifetime. Partial Scholarships covering two-thirds of all costs are available. Priority application deadline for these $3,466 grants is fast approaching:

Scholarship application deadline is Dec. 5; Priority application deadline is Feb. 6, 2009.

Costa Rica ¡Pura Vida! combines intensive language instruction, individual homestays and field trips to three areas of the country. Students will experience unspoiled national parks, a marine biology sanctuary open only to scientists, a village of 12 families in the midst of the Cloud Forest, and birds, animals and tropical flora beyond compare.

Who is eligible? High school students aged 15-17 with two years of basic Spanish and course in biology by June 2009.

Program dates:

June 26-July 22, 2009 and July 10-Aug. 5, 2009

Interamerican University Studies Institute is a non-profit educational exchange organization linking the Americas since 1986. More information at or 800-345-4874.

Posted in Stories |

Sunday, November 30, 2008

If Anyone Was Wondering...

YES we would love to get your Christmas card. My kids are a little concerned that Christmas just won't be the same this year. They are right, it won't. However if you would like to still send us a Christmas card that would be AWESOME.

Really, really awesome.

But remember, Costa Rica does not have a mail system. So if you would send your Christmas greetings to my mother in law (see below address) she'll bring them with her when she comes. She's coming on the 20th of December.

Oh, I'm so excited!!! I'm not going to tell my munchkins, I'll just keep it a surprise.

Merry Christmas everyone!

The Banagas Family
c/o Colleen Foote
32801 Silver Charm Court
Menifee, Ca 92584

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We LOVE Jo...

Actually, that's Mrs. Sanservero to my kids!

Jo, ah-hem, Mrs. Sanservero, sent us a package!!!! It was just beautiful and the first package we've had mailed to us. Well not to us, but the local video rental store finally got it and we paid them the charge to have it sent into a country that doesn't handle mail.} After weeks and weeks of anticipation we got it in our HOT little hands.

What was in it you might ask?

The Friend. {lots of them!!!}

Magazines for children put out by our church once a month with great stories about choosing the right and helping others. And the best benefit for my little ones, it is appropriate for them to read during church. Church that is completely spoken in a foreign language to them. {I can hear the hallelujah coming from their little lips right now as I past them out during Sacrament meeting last week.}

Or was that from my lips as I looked down our family aisle and saw my sweet reverent angels reading so fervently?

That might have been me.

Anyway, Jo, thanks so much from us...all of us!!! That was a great treat that will continue to give for the entire year. My kids are very thankful! You are so considerate to think of us in this way!!! {Can I put any more exclamation points to show how appreciative we are?!!!!} :)

Catching Up with Pics!

This is what happens when you leave your "just turned 12" year old son home with 4 crazy kids while you get out of the house with your sweetie for that much needed alone time.

They will get a lesson in how to repair a broken window the following day. At $200 a lesson, not bad for a night out!

Landon {the youngest} threw a shoe at Aiden {the next in line} and Aiden ducked! We've now taught Aiden not to duck and take it like a man. :)

This is Troy and Dallin at the amusement park with some Costa Rican spending cash, a little under $20.00. I failed to mention earlier that not only is the park inexpensive but so is the food! You can get a HUGE drink for about $1.75. Not too shabby! Most entertainment here is inexpensive. Movies are $4.00 for adults. NICE! {Especially when you are carting around a familia of 7.
Speaking of cart {did you get that lead in to the next pic? hee, hee} Here my kids are on a traditional Costa Rican cart.

I'm thinking of getting one for us. What do you think? I believe they don't try and charge the 80% vehicle tax on these.

Gotta love this! I don't know if you can see all of my "boys" but it starts with Wes in the far left, Troy, Dallin, and Aiden. They all slept over at Rusti's and this is the shot she got in the morning.

Have a great day everyone!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Some More Pics...

of our little get away. We all had so much fun!!!! This shot was taken right as we got there. The weather was just beautiful and believe it or not, not too HOT. Can I kiss the feet of the "woman" who thought to make a stroller into a car! Please, I love ya!!!
Paige having a blast on one of the kiddie rides. She is my little dare devil, who would have guessed, huh? She went on absolutely everything she could, and as you can imagine, the height restrictions here are lower. You would faint at some of the rides they deem safe for little ones.
My only girl, what a sweetie {when I'm not trying to force math on her}. "Love ya, Paigee pooh!"
Landon thought a ride was too loud. Quite ingenious to use what he already had on hand, his ears.

Dallin, again playing the survivor man and trying to catch dinner.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In The Mood for Chocolate Pudding...

here's a little tip.

Of course you are using the Jello brand that you cook.  I know none of my friends would stoop to the instant pudding.  


So when you are adding the milk, use half canned condensed milk and half regular milk.  Oh, you'll never go back.  It's so much thicker and creamier and if you put it in the fridge to get cold, it won't separate and get watery like it does with 100% regular milk.

Just a little tip from little ol' domestic me.  :)


Monday, November 17, 2008

We Had a GREAT time...

this weekend. Rusti has a rental house in San Jose {about a 2.5 hour drive} from here. We packed up our stuff, rented a car, and left. Did I mention we rented a car? I'm not sure I did.


Yippe!!! It was the most exciting part of the trip for me. No, I'm just kidding.

Actually I'm not!

We haven't bought a car here {yet} because with the 80% tax, I really didn't feel like paying almost double for a vehicle. I did decide to keep our rental car for another day after we came home. Heck, it's only $35 a day, and I couldn't believe the freedom that $35 bought.

I even went to the hardware store and bought PVC pipe and connecters to make a mini closet for my boys. Remember, closets are a rare commodity here. How much fun is that?!?!?! Whew, relax Shawna.

Baby CASH should be here in about 8 weeks. We are so EXCITED!!!!

This is Landon riding the kiddie train, although he took the faster roller coaster quite well too. {Better than Aiden} One of our stops was to San Jose's amusemnt park, better than Disneyland in my view. Not as elaborate but I didn't have the constant nagging feeling of being ripped off. Only $10 to get in with unlimited rides. Very nice.
Before we dropped off my sweetheart we stopped and fed the ducks. I forget how nice {and CHEAP} it is to do this.

The main reason for going to San Jose was to drop Wes off at the airport for a Miami business trip. So in the 48 hours he has been gone, we've had the internet disappear forever, a large earthquake, my house flood and 2 pipes burst. Oh the adventure!

Friday, November 14, 2008

We are off...

on a little {much needed} trip. We are getting out of dodge, as they say.

I thought I'd post 1 more of my "organizing" ideas.

Since doing our laundry is such a difficult task for us right now, I get so {irritated} concerned when I wash towels that don't look or smell dirty. Sometimes they even make it into the laundry pile still folded. I'm sure none of you women out there know what I'm talking about.

So I painted each of my kid's names on a towel. It's been great, I now know who left their damp towel mushed up on the bathroom floor. Hee.. Hee! {said with a crackling witch voice}

And the kids get this towel for the week! Yep, you might find that unhealthy, but I've found if you hang it up to air dry, the towel is actually still nice, even by Friday. It might be the heat here that drys everything so fast. Either way, this is it, all they get.

Already my laundry pile is down about 2 loads, and hey, I'll take that!!!!

If I lived in the states I would call my friend Linda Burgess who has a embroidery company out of her home {I'm not sure if that is true yet, but the business women in me has tried to push her into it} and have her embroider my kid's names on their towels. When Dallin was baptized, I had her embroider his name and baptism date along with a "choose the right" logo on it. It turned out awesome.

So there you go. I hope your Friday is going well and wish you all a moment of bliss today.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Court is in session...

please come to ORDER!

We {I} am finally getting my hind end in gear. It's almost like I'm nesting {though, NO, I'm not pregnant.} That rumor already went flying around my home base, Riverside, a few months back. I might
be getting those desires while watching Rusti rearrange her house.

We have been in desperate need of change here and since my most desired form of change {moving} looks like it might be farther off than I'd hope {yesterday}, something else has to budge. So I have created forms. Yep, you saw my dinner plan form a few weeks ago, now I have a cleaning schedule, house of order plan {rules}, home school schedule, monthly planner, and my most prized, a Family Home Evening planner with an odd and even month so that we all rotate evenly. Tahdah!!!!!

O.K. now I'll get down off my chair and put my arms down, but hey, "isn't this GREAT kids?!?!"

Oh the groans that can come out of their mouths. Amazing.

In fact tied for first place with my FHE planner, would be my House of Order Form. It's just a nicer way to say, "Our Family Rules".

Instead of saying "We will not lie", I stated, We will tell the truth." All of our rules are what we WILL do not what we WILL NOT do. I like to concentrate on the positive.

I had just finished typing out our 11 rules and pushed print when Paige grabbed the list out of our printer before it was done and left it smeared and wrinkled. I raised my voice {ever so slightly, ahemm} and realized the list was incomplete. I then added "We will speak softly to one another" and had to giggle.

Since then I have added 2 more rules:

We will treat animals with respect &
We will not put our bodily fluids or gasses in other's spaces. (I had to do a NOT in this one)

So when my sweet, adoring little ones disobey one of these rules they get to write them 25 times, (give or take their age and the situation) Let's just say Troy has that second one down pat today!

The other one they've written a lot of is "We will complete our responsibilities without being reminded". Thank heavens for our "Family House of Order Plan", now all I say is give me 25 of number 7, you haven't done your dishes yet. :)

It is so much better than, "Did you do your dishes?" "Where's Dallin?", "Why aren't your dished done?" "I've now added another day." "Anybody know where Dallin is???"

Dallin has added so many days of dishes that instead of having them for a week, it's been over 5 weeks! See my problem with the previous system?


So here's to implementing new systems.

I forgot to mention that I made all these charts on 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper, put them into a 3 ring binder, bent it backwards so it stands like a presentation on our kitchen table and we can easily flip through each plastic protected chart. Oh, life is good.

Happy days are here again....
If you want a copy of any or all of these, just email me and I'll shoot it over.

Enjoy your day!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's Family Night...

Tonight is our "service" family home evening.

{For those of you who don't know, every Monday night we make sure not to plan anything so we can be together as a family, hence the title, Family Night or Family Home Evening.} If you want a great place to get more family night ideas you can go HERE or my FAVORITE place LDS Living Magazine. I love LDS Living Magazine because they not only have great lessons, but they have a scripture, thought, object lesson, story and directions for dessert. Does it get easier than that?

So tonight we're having our "service" family night. We are making these DELISH homemade doughnuts and then delivering them to some of the families here.

I believe I have posted this before but I'm going to give you my FAMOUS {in my own mind} doughnut recipe.

First for the dough you can either buy a pre-made biscuit dough, use your favorite bread dough recipe or use mine.

Shawna's Homemade Bread Dough

in your bread machine pan add the following:
1 cup of warm water
2 teaspoons of yeast
3 tablespoons of sugar

Stir a few times and let sit for 10 minutes.

Now add
3 cups of flour
1/4 cup of oil
1 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Now push the dough setting on your breadmaker and in 1.5 hours, it's done.

How's that for easy?

Now flour the counter slightly and roll the dough out to about an inch think. Dip your large cup into flour and cut out the doughnut shape. Now find a smaller size to cut out the doughnut hole. (I used a lid from a container in my bathroom {which I washed thoroughly!}

Lay them out on a cookie sheet and let them rise for 15 minute in a slightly warm oven. (only if you use bread dough)

Heat oil in a small pot on your stove, about 4 inches high. My burner goes from 1-6 and I cook between 4-5) Carefully place your doughnut in the hot oil and rotate from front to back until dark golden. Then place on your cookie rack {that is on top of your cookie sheet}

Now, what makes these doughnuts so YUMMY is the topping. I got this from Pioneer Women Cooks, it's her recipes for her homemade brownie topping.

Melt 1 3/4 sticks butter in a saucepan.
Add 4 tablespoons cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat.
6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 lb minus 3/4 cup powdered sugar
{here I add a little less powdered sugar than it calls for, you want the topping to easily adhear to the doughnut without being too watery that it doesn't stick}

Stir together then dip doughnuts into topping. Put sprinkles or chopped nuts on top if you'd like and ENJOY!!

Happy Family Night!!!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I have Been Humbled...

Last night I grabbed one of the "free" tico newspapers around here, flipped through the pages and was stunned by a photograph.

It was a picture of a little girl about the age of my little girl, sick and miserable in a petite dirt floored hut. What got me was her younger brother, maybe 5, holding a cloth to her head taking care of her. I don't know where their mother was. The desperation in his face was not a trait a 5 year old should even know how to portray.

I was emotionally humbled and glad that I couldn't read the words depicting more of their situation. The 1,000 {words} the photograph released was all I could bear.

It categorized my previous {whinny} post, irrelevant!

My friend Costa Rica has painfully schooled me again. I do have it all. Our living conditions are bearable and even if we complete our entire stay here, I will be FINE.

Last night during prayers, I scratched off my once important desire for a bigger place, and replaced it with a simple plea for these 2 children battling the world.

I wonder what God thinks when he hears our prayers sometimes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I'm Trying to Be Patient...

but sometimes it's so hard! We have been living in a "very appreciated" but tiny place for the last 3 months. {actually 94 days, 17 hours and 32 no, 38 seconds} But who's counting?

In fact I told my sweetheart not to tell me the actual square feet we were living in, I knew it would make it more tough. My theory is similar for the birthing process, "No I don't want to "see" are you crazy? Then I'll really be in pain!!!"

So for these 90 days I've managed the niceties that are attached to living here. I won't go in to them or you have no option but to either consider me not tough enough or shutter in utter sympathy to my plight. Let's leave it as life has been interesting. So interesting that the internal timer inside me went off and I announced to the love of my life that our time here {in this house} is done!!!

Now when I'm ready to move along, I'm ready. I get things done! Now. That's just how I work. Costa Rica however has a different plan. She continues to teach me qualities like PATIENCE.

This is the house we almost rented. That is until they found out we have 5 children. What a let down!! Not that I have 5 kids, I've known that for awhile. :) But to have DENIED stamped on our parental foreheads, yeah, that was tough. I've been dreaming of the dishwasher, large fridge, nice bathrooms, space, cupboards, closets {yes a closet!!!} space, bathroom cabinets, washer and dryer, ohhh, somebody stop me!!!!

Well, that was last month. Now we have been set back on yet another moving opportunity. We were so close too. I've learned not to get my hopes up until I have moved in the first blue bin of clothes.

So this is my mission now, to quickly learn whatever it is I need to learn from this house, then get mine, my kid's and my honey's rear ends out of here as quickly as possible!!!

For me it's a gringo house or BUST!!! {literally}

Monday, November 3, 2008

Last Sunday...

was a memorable day for our family. Our oldest received the priesthood. {Love the "corny" pose he did for me!}
Boy 12 years have flown by {even though at times, the minutes seemed to take hours}. I have been so impressed with this child of mine. He has many leadership qualities already built in to who he is. It has been difficult yet exciting to watch him become more independent from Wes and I.

Here is a shot of Wes, Troy and Dallin. {Hey Dallin, what's going on with your shirt buddy? }

We grabbed a quick photo of all of us after church.

Here is really how the photo went.
I had to post this. We all have these, right? Paige is having a little temper tantrum, Wes is saying something to the effect of, "you better smile right now missy!" {yeah, that always works!} and Landon is planning his escape. But we are a FAMILY and this is the best we can do sometimes.

I need to apologize here for my lack of substantial posts lately. I can blame it on the Internet being out for a week, my new (part time job) or the funk I've been in. I haven't decided yet. I'll let you know.

Last Sunday we also had our primary program. For those of you who don't know it's when the young kids age 3-11 speak and sing during our main meeting and let the congregation know what they've been learning all year.
{Here is our little CREW, aren't they just the cutest?}
I mentioned earlier that I was the music leader. Let's talk about that a little. Me, the one who just learned {sorta} how to lead music by opening the back of the hymnal and trying to follow the tutorial. Me, the one who doesn't really know ANY Spanish. Me, the one who just came in to the primary presidency and hasn't been around as the kids have been learning the songs.

Well I had two other options, 1 to play the piano {peter peter pumpkin eater is all I know} or 2, to help the children read their parts, in Spanish.

So that is how I became the music leader. Everything went off without a hitch, pretty much.

Paige decided to act like she had stage fright when it was her turn to speak and boy did she ham it up! She batted her eyes nervously, looked around like she was scared, moved the microphone away from her and got tears to well up in her eyes. It was a show stopper folks. She was amazing. It surely was an award winning performance. She stayed up there enjoying her time in the spotlight for about 3 {very long} minutes, before I had to go up and relieve the situation. {So much fun for me}

Here is a pic I took facing the back of our {vomit comet} bus. We still had a few more patrons to fit in, usually we have standing room only by the time we pull up to our beautiful chapel.

I do love you BUS, even though I tease you often. I promise to be a better friend from now on.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Welcome Missionaries!!!!

On Troy's birthday {2 weeks ago} we had our missionaries and the missionaries that serve in the Quepos area {about an hour south of us} over for a special "P" day. Their entire district was getting together the month before for a temple and movie experience. Because of a situation beyond their control, they were the only four missionaries who missed out. Bummer.

So, their mission president agreed to let them spend their P-day with us, definitely not as great as a reward, but they were smart to take what they could get!

They played football in the rain & mud with my older two boys while waiting for my honey to arrive.
Did I mention we have the BEST missionaries?

They had permission to watch Disney's "Remember the Titans", which is one of our top 5 favorite movies and we happened to bring it with us here. {Of course when it came time to show it, we had to rent it because somehow we misplaced it!} I need to mention that Remember the Titans is the "motivational" movie for our Costa Rican missionaries here. They use the {awesome} quotes to motivate each other, and that is why they got permission to watch it.
It was so funny, when they first arrived, one elder said, "Sweet!!! We are in a gringo home!" That really hit me funny. To hear someone so excited to be in our {tiny} home and see it as an awesome experience for them. WHAT!?!?!

O.K. lesson learned, it's all about perspective. I needed to change my perspective. So I squinted and struggled...

but my perspective is still the same. I'm glad I have a roof over my head, but I strongly dislike this house. :)

When I asked Elder Howell what food he wanted, he stated, "anything from the states". So that is what I served! We had "homemade" corn dogs, pizza, nachos, Cinnamon rolls, french fries and chocolate malts. They ate, and ate and ate. Anytime I put something down, it was gone!!! I kept thinking that soon they wouldn't be able to fit anymore food in.

I was wrong, whatever I put down, they ate!

I don't know how they did it but somehow they managed to play ping pong on our kitchen table when the movie was over.

So to the mother's of these 4 wonderful young men I say, "Thank you for being brave {and wise} enough to let them serve the Lord here in this land. {not that at their age you could stop them} We love having them in our home! They are a shining example that not only is missionary work hard, but it's fun too. Very important for my boys to see. I have the most respect for you and will do my best to keep an eye on your {babies} sons.