what has happened to me?

We are now in our second two-week dinner menu. I would say that my husband is VERY happy. Why? Because I am not only “cooking” more, but also adding sides to our meals. I grew up with sides on the table. We always had a salad on the table and fruit or vegetables or rolls. I, however, am a one dish woman!

With a growing family, however, I see the great need to help stretch our main dishes by adding easy sides to the mix. And, honestly, it is yummier. And I have cultivated great little chefs in the kitchen to help me. So, I am RESOLVED!

This week’s menu:

Cheesy Chili-Mac
w/garlic bread and corn

Turkey Jo’s
w/ sweet potato fries and fruit salad

Baked Potato Bar

w/potatos, green salad, and dinner rolls

Chicken Kebobs
w/ rice and peaches and pears

w/ rice-a-roni, applesauce, and green beans

w/ chips and salsa and corn

………and so and so forth. See, nothing spectacular. Just yummy staples that everyone loves. But I’m sticking to it. And that is the very best part. Well, I’m off to boil pasta for our Chili Mac.

new thanksgiving tradition

New Thanksgiving tradition…hiking at Zion! So much fun. And prefect hiking weather. And no weight gained due to leftovers. But I did miss the leftovers. :)

We hiked Angel’s Landing. Correction, we hiked to Scout Lookout. Adam took Danny and Nikki all the way up the chains to Angel’s Landing. Pure awesomeness.

Favorite memories:
1. Singing Christmas songs on the way there (with children who actually know the words now).
2. Snuggling in one hotel room and watching The Music Man till midnight as we fell asleep one by one.
3. Watching the kids run up the very steep trail, as I wish with all my might for the boundless energy they possess.
4. Seeing so many other families out hiking. I don’t know why this makes me so happy, but it does.
5. Gorging ourselves at Red Robin on our way back home Saturday night. The kids each got their own meal and drink! A rare treat in our family when we go out. :)
6. Watching Adam skip rocks with the kids at the river….watching Adam with the children, period!

grandparents the great


Meet great-grandparents Penning!

The whole Penning tribe made a very special day trip to Point Defiance Park in Tacoma to spend some time with them. I am so glad we got pictures. Let’s face it grams and grandps…you’re no spring chickens anymore. :)


We also celebrated Danny’s birthday…the Nerf bow-n-arrow is something Danny’s has been asking for for 18 months. he LOVES it.

We all had a great time. Hopefully, the kids will remember the experience for a long time to come.

JULY 2010

four little pumpkins

72797282If you live in Vegas, or anywhere similar temperature wise, then you know not to carve your pumpkins until the week of Halloween. We broke the cardinal rule this year since Grandma and Grandpa Penning were here for the baptism. It was worth having to “deep-freeze” the pumpkins so that grandpa could help carve. We also dipped carameled apples and made Squished Witches with Grandma McCracken.


The next Saturday, we had the McCracken clan over to paint pumpkins and decorate Halloween cookies. Yeah, the kids have been celebrating for two weeks now. :) The ninos had a blast with their cousins.



Check out more pictures here and here. The amount of candy that was piled on top of the sugar cookies is totally kid ridiculous. Don’t you think? And yet, they ate the whole cookie. :)

calico tanks on ice


Adam and Grandpa Penning took the kids out on a hike over Christmas Weekend. The ninos had a total blast. It was icy and cold and glorious. The round trip mileage was about three miles….and they all made. This was their first trip with packs on. In fact, it was their first “real” hike. We took them on a little one-miler when we first came home, but it had no elevation gain.


Calico tanks is one of our favorite little hikes out at Red Rock. We don’t have much to choose from around here. And it is one of the prettiest. The video below shows the kids “skating” on the ice, but the funniest part is Ezzy biffing it hard without trying. Our little klutzo.


relay for baby george

My dear friend of 22 years, Jessica, is participating with her husband and family in Relay for Life in Portland, OR this weekend. Dan and Jes lost baby George to brain cancer just a few short months after his birth. The Davenports have been champions in the fight ever since. I have seen them grow in strength and talent as they continue to perservere and spread Georgie’s story across the West. Baby George is a great reminder of goodness to us all. His story reminds me that one life can touch many…and that every life is valuable. Our time here on this earth is a gift.

I am proud to be George’s Auntie. And I am extra proud of what my dear friends continue to accomplish in the name of their son. Next year, I hope to take my children to Portland to walk with their Aunt Jes and Uncle Dan in Relay for Life. This weekend is for you Georgie, and for all of those who are here still fighting the good fight!

thatcher, az


Meet our friends, Heather and Kavika. Adam and I drove to Thatcher this past weekend to hang out with them. Thatcher is two hours past Globe and about three and a half hours past Phoenix. Heather and Kavika are super cool and super fun. We went to a Chinese buffet for lunch, saw a movie–Journey to the Center of the Earth, and played scrabble. We had a great time. We want to thank their grandma, LaVana, for letting us come. Her hospitality was truly appreciated. While we were in Thatcher LaVana arranged a tour for us of Spencer W. Kimball’s childhood home. It was a fantastic opportunity for Adam and I. We spent a good two hours going through each room and talking with the homeowners. They had some wonderful stories about the house and President Kimball. We felt blessed to have the opportunity. Below are a few of our favorite pictures.


sooooooo busy and happy birthday

I have been so busy the past couple weeks. I traveled to Washington to help my mom and sister. My mom drove back with us for a week of Spring Break. I made FOUR scrap photo albums (okay, Adam helped with this). And in the midst of all of this I’ve worked 4-8 hours online every day–trying to wrangle some more adoption money. And I’ve continued training for the 1/2 marathon, which is only 10 days away at this point.

It’s the busiest I’ve been since June, and I’m glad for it. It makes the adoption waiting fly by. Adam and I are off to Las Vegas this weekend for an adoption shower that his mom and sister are throwing for us. My mom and Jaimee/Brian are also coming. More travel–yippee. I haven’t even washed our clothes from the Washington trip yet. Guess what I’ll be doing tomorrow?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Jaime Lynne Lea this week!!! The McCrackens love ya, girl.

Four States and Fry Bread—four corners

Here is our most touristy stop of the trip. We can at least check it off our list. Plus, Adam has always wanted a picture like I got of him. That makes the $3/person entry fee worth it I suppose. He also ate some fry bread with honey. My stomach was unfortunately uncooperative…no yummy fry bread for me, and boy do I love fry bread.