Saturday, March 21, 2015

Shh..... It's A Secret.

There is a game I play with the kids. I tell them I have a secret. Then, leaning close to their ear so only they can hear, I whisper, "I love you. Shh... don't tell!" They smile and laugh. Sometimes they  roll their eyes and threaten to tell the other kids. Often one of them will call out, "Hey! Mom loves me!"  I deny it, then lean in and whisper my secret all over again. The game never ends.

Tonight I tucked the kids in bed. Abram was first. Kneeling beside him I told him his secret, "I love you. Shh... Don't tell." Smiling, he whispered back, "I won't."

Noah informed me that I'd told him this secret before. He's the one who likes to tell everyone my secret the most. Tonight he kept it. 

Joseph simply laid his head on my shoulder and sucked his middle and ring fingers as I whispered into his ear. After a moment he lifted his head and with his fingers still in his mouth looked at me for a long moment. Slowly his lips curled into a smile. He didn't say anything, but I think he understood. 

Leaving the boys, I went to Naomi's room and laid down beside her, snuggling close. Quietly, I whispered for the fourth time, "I have a secret. I love you. Shh...Don't tell." For a moment, she was silent. Then, reaching her hand up and placing it on my cheek she said, "I have a secret." "Waiting for those three familiar words I was surprised to hear her say, "You are the best mom I could ever have in the whole world. Shh.. Don't tell anyone." It was a tender moment. One I will always cherish, and her secret is one will always keep close to my heart. 

Nights like tonight, are some of my favorites. It's a game we play, but the truth is, we really do have a secret. One we all share. "I have a secret to tell you. I love you. Shh... Don't tell," is a message, coded beneath smiles and giggles, threats to expose, denials and nonchalance. Strip the fun away and it's my soul reminding  theirs, "This is Important. I will always love you. Even when I yell and get frustrated. Even when the days get hard, and you don't feel happy. Even when I have to punish you for making bad choices. I still love you. Don't ever forget." 

Don't forget. Don't tell. Shh...It's a secret. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Train Travels

You may not know this, but little boys love trains. All of them. Abram is no exception. Last year we went to the amusement park Silver Dollar City. They have a train ride. Abram loved it. So, when Grandma Abby and Pops asked what would be fun to do during our visit, the Virginia-Truckee railroad was top of the list. We chose a relatively short 4 mile round trip ride just outside the old mining town Virginia City. 

Noah isn't as little as he used to be. He wasn't too excited about the car trip to the train, but once we were there, he was a good sport. I even squeezed out a smile or two. 

 The train conductor warned us that spiders might drop down into the train while in the tunnel. Sure enough, he was right. Abram was thrilled to find an eight legged friend sitting next to him.

Of course, I found the spider terrifying. 

Nani surprised everyone with her arrival. The day before she hopped in her car and drove the 8 hours all by herself to spend the weekend with us. She was very happy to sit back and enjoy the views. 

And sneak some snuggles in too. 

Naomi loved the train ride. She was thrilled to tag along on a boys adventure. She even brushed her hair and smiled for every picture. 

It was a good day. Next summer, Naomi says she wants to ride the train again. In fact, she wants to ride the train all day long. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Applesauce is NOT for the Faint of Heart

I DID IT. For the first time, I chopped, cooked, sauced, and canned enough apples into applesauce to meet the applesauce needs of our family for an entire year. And I did it all by myself. I'd watched my mom do it my entire life, but until two days ago I never appreciated exactly how much love and energy was required to accomplish this. If you are a fellow applesauce enthusiast and are interested in making your own too, here is my recipe.


1- A WILLING, ABLE AND SLIGHTLY APPLE OBSESSED INDIVIDUAL WILLING TO UNDERTAKE THE PROJECT. In our home, this person would be me. Here I am with my favorite cowgirl and hopefully (crossing my fingers) future applesauce apprentice.

2- MORAL SUPPORT. When  your kids have done nothing but watch movies all day, your hands hurt, your feet hurt, your back hurts, it looks like bomb filled with apples, dirty dishes, and leftovers has exploded in your kitchen, you are starving because you've hardly had a minute to stop and eat, it's getting late, AND there is no end in sight, you will need moral support. Here are my cheerleaders. It helps to have an extremely knowledgeable and encouraging mom to talk on the phone with too.

3- APPLES. We took a trip to an apple farm in Northwest Arkansas- about 90 min from our home. Purchasing the right apple variety is very important. Different apples are better for saucing. Depending on where you live, different apple varieties are available. We mostly bought Winesap apples, but we purchased a few Johnathon apples too. Macintosh, Gravenstien and Johnagold apples are good for saucing as well.

4- SINK. Kind of a no-brainer, but you'll want to clean your apples before you sauce them. You'll also need a sharp knife, large pots for boiling apples and some large bowls to allow your applesauce to cool in before you put it into jars. 

5- JARS, LIDS, RINGS. Speaking of jars, here are some of mine after I've filled them with applesauce.

6- SUPER DELUXE APPLESAUCE MAKING MACHINE. Actually, it's a Victorio Food Strainer. You can use it to puree, juice, and sauce just about anything. Mine was a gift, but I know you can order them online for about 60 or 70 dollars. The cooked apples (with cores and seeds) go into the funnel on the top. While you turn the handle, gently push the apples down with the red stick. The sauce will come out the front and the seeds, and skins will go out the side.

7- CANER. For applesauce you can use either a water bath or pressure caner. I have two Mirro pressure caners that I picked up at garage sales. I'm fortunate they are the same brand and model. It made canning the applesauce go much faster and easier than if I only had one, or two that operated differently. To can applesauce in a pressure caner, you'll need to use 5lbs of pressure for ten minutes. For every 1,000 ft above sea level increase the pressure by 5 lbs.

8- SUGAR. The amount of sugar you use is entirely up to you. I recommend making your first batch of sauce, calculate how much sugar you need to bring sauce to desired sweetness, and then use that as your recipe for the rest of your sauce. I used about 1/3 c of sugar per 3 quarts of sauce.

9- TOWELS, HOT PADS, SPOONS, SPATULAS, BOWELS. If these need any explanation, I'm not sure you should be making applesauce...


1. Quarter washed apples and fill stockpot. Do not remove skins or core.
2. Add 1-2 cups of water to the apples and cook on high until they are very soft and mushy.
3. Run the apples through the strainer. Different apples will create different textures of sauce. Some will produce a think sauce, while others will be more runny. Increase or decrease the amount of water added to apples to create your desired sauce thickness.
4. Place applesauce in a large bowl to cool.
5. Add sugar and then place into clean jars .
6. Clean the mouth of the jars before processing.
7. Boil jar lids and place on jars with rings.
8. Process jars in caner.
9. Allow jars to cool and check to make sure each jar seals correctly. If a jar is not sealed correctly,  it will have to be reprocessed.
10. ENJOY!! Canned correctly, your applesauce will stay good for a very, very long time.

In total I canned 92 quarts of applesauce. I started at eight in the morning and finished around 3:15 the following morning. It took me a little longer than it should have because Noah was home with the stomach flu and Abram was constantly needing or getting into something. I also was taking pictures so I could document the whole process.

 After 19.5 hours, 4 1/2 bushels of apples, and dirtying every dish towel I own,

Not only do I love my strainer because it makes super delicious applesauce, but it is also incredibly efficient. These two pans are all the waste from the 4 1/2 bushel of apples. These are all of the skins, seeds, bad apples that had to be thrown away and bad spots that had to be cut out of the apples. Pretty Amazing! According to folks selling me my apples, I could get 12-16 quarts of sauce per bushel. Per their estimations, my goal at the start of the day was to get 70 quarts of applesauce. But, because of my super deluxe applesauce machine, I got 22 quarts more than I predicted! As the day wore on I kept having to wash more jars and when I was processing jars in the wee hours of the morning I was very relieved to find out I had just enough lids to finish the job.

This is my very happy husband after tasting the applesauce.

Applesauce production held almost no interest for Noah and Abram. We'll forgive Noah this year because he was sick, and Abram because he is still young. However, they did think our trip to the apple/pumpkin farm was very fun and interesting. They especially liked pulling and pushing the red wagons.

We were going for really cute, possibly Christmas card photo material, but after a few shots we settled with  goofy and distracted.

Of course, my little project fits right in with our month of preparedness. While applesauce is not included in the recommended foods for survival, I can only imagine how grateful we would be to have it if we ever had to live off of our food storage alone. Good luck on your own Applesauce adventures. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

October Is Petersen Prepardness Month!

This past Sunday President Williams, our branch president, counseled us on provident living. This is some of the information he shared and my thoughts while listening.

- PRESIDENT WILLIAMS: It has been his experience (this being his third stint as branch President he has lots of it!) that those who pay tithing are rarely in need of assistance.
           MY THOUGHTS: Thank goodness I paid our tithing today!

- PRESIDENT WILLIAMS: Of those who pay a generous fast offering, the need of assistance is almost non-existent. He said, "Not that it has never happened, sometimes even those who are very faithful have their feet swept out from under them, but it is extremely rare that someone who pays an honest tithe and generous fast offering will need church assistance."
           MY THOUGHTS: Tyler and I need to sit down and reevaluate how much we are paying into fast offerings.

- PRESIDENT WILLIAMS: Debt can be a powerful tool or it can enslave you. In the state of Oklahoma it is legal for lending agencies to extend loans at a rate of 400%.
           MY THOUGHTS: 400 PERCENT!! If you borrowed 100 dollars you would be required to pay 400 dollars back. Paying back our student loan is difficult enough and our interest rate is at 6.7%.

- PRESIDENT WILLIAMS: It is impossible to judge which is more important, our spiritual or temporal preparedness.
          MY THOUGHTS: Our soul is made of both our body and spirit. If we are to have a properly prepared soul then we cannot neglect one or the other. One gentleman shared this thought, "A man cannot focus on a lesson being given if his stomach is gnawing on his backbone." At the same time, if we neglect our spiritual well being then we jeopardize our ability to weather the storms of life with the faith, hope, and perspective that the gospel brings. When we are spiritually week we are also more susceptible to the temporal pitfalls of life.

Overall, it was a very good and thought provoking lesson. I left with a renewed determination to examine our family's temporal and spiritual preparedness and I have decided that the Petersen family is making this October our preparedness month. Whether or not we make this a yearly practice is yet to be seen. There are five Mondays in October and I have outlined a topic regarding preparedness to discuss at FHE and then focus on throughout the week. The outline is as follows:

Week of Oct 1 - 72 Hour Kits
Week of Oct 8 - Financial Planning
Week of Oct 15 - Soul Preparedness
Week of Oct 22- Food Storage (Bulk Foods)
Week of Oct 29 - Food Storage (Extras)

We have begun to revamp our 72 hour kits. Pictures, information and ideas are soon to follow!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

I'm Back!!

It has been awhile. But, I am here. I am alive and I have some stories to tell. It's been a year of adventure, heartache, frustration, disappointment, learning, growth, happiness, and excitement. I imagine that when my hair is white, deep wrinkles line my every feature, and the spring has left my step, I will look back upon this past year's experiences with deep gratitude in my heart for all that took place. However, at the time, this certainly was not the case!! Thankfully, we have a loving and merciful Heavenly Father with far
greater vision and knowledge of our needs and desires than exists within ourselves. It is humbling to realize how involved God is in the details of our lives. I am so grateful he brought us to Pocola, Oklahoma; home to two stop lights and a greater population of deer than people!

Subway Trumps All

Our trip to DC was pretty amazing. We visited monuments, took a step back in time at Mount Vernon, got to see the home of air force one, where the president goes golfing and get searched by the entrance guards at Andrew's. We learned about our family history, visited Gettysburg (which inspired the year's Halloween Costumes) and paid our respects at Arlington National Cemetery. But for the kids, nothing, absolutely NOTHING could compare to our the Subway.

Here is Naomi. She liked to hang onto the pole like the big people. She was so proud of herself.

If she wasn't holding onto the pole, she was looking out the window. Being above ground wasn't nearly as exciting as when we went underground though.

Noah did not like walking around the big city. He did not like riding in the wagon. He did not enjoy the monuments. He did like the Air and Space museum, but still not as much as the subway! I have to admit, I think we all enjoyed the cool air in the tunnels after spending the day in the sweltering heat.

This is my dad and my Uncle David. Uncle David was our tour guide extraordinaire. Without him we would've been lost in the maze of blue, yellow, and green subway lines. He also knows all kinds of cool facts and stories about history. When he retires from the air force, I think he ought to consider making professional tour guiding his new career!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Our Adventures Back East: Washingtion D.C

We spent the first week of our trip in Washington DC. We stayed with Uncle David on Andrews Air Force base. During our week we:

Spent some quality time snuggling with Grandma. Mom was very happy get her hands on Abram.

We played in the pool. We had BEAUTIFUL weather.

This is Uncle Isaac. Those muscles are real. Much to my dismay, I couldn't beat him in a wrestling match. I fought hard, but he took me down. Beat by my youngest brother...It was humiliating.

When we got tired of splashing, we migrated to the playground. You can't tell in this picture, but the kids were sitting on a rocket ship shaped toy that rocks back and forth. Noah is making his blast off- rocket ship noises in this picture.

Uncle David also took us on a VIP tour of the base. We got to see the President's golf course, where Air Force One is housed, some very cool fighter jets, and a hands on visit to their helicopter fleet. The pilots took time to explain how all the knobs and buttons work, and any other questions we had. This was not Noah's first time in a helicopter, but he still thought it was pretty awesome.

As did Uncle Eli.

And Pops too.

We also spent time touring DC. We started with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unnamed Soldier. We then walked across the Potomac toward the Mall.

Along the way, we took a few pictures with the Washington Monument. This is my mom and dad. 


This is me and Abram. Obviously, Abram's hat is on backwards.

We also took some pictures at the Lincoln Memorial. My picture with Honest Abe must have been taken with my parent's camera. So here's another picture of Pops.

Our perfect weather for the pool translated into one HOT walk across the mall. To cool down, we paid a visit to the WWII Memorial.

We all enjoyed the cool water. Especially Abram. Despite the heat, he was a very happy camper.

Noah, was not as thrilled to be sightseeing in the heat- Even with all the cold water he could drink while being pulled along in an awesome blue wagon.

We also spent some time in the Smithsonian at the Air and Space Museum. The kids loved it (the air conditioning was nice too). In fact, they loved it so much we went back the next day for another visit.


We also took a trip down to Mount Vernon. That is the home of George and Martha Washington. We toured their house (which has an incredible view of the river), the surrounding buildings, their graves, the museum and we even got to listen to a lady who was dressed up as Martha tell stories about George.

Last, but not least, we got to see Uncle Eli play his tuba in the Independence Day Parade. He spent the fourth of July marching behind Curious George in the HOT, hot sun. Apparently some kids from other marching bands were passing out from the heat- but thankfully Eli and his High School Band were able to survive without any causalities. We showed up early enough to get a good seat along the side of the road. Much cheering and clapping, and photo taking ensued when Eli walked by. Once he passed us by, we promptly packed our wagon, bid farewell to our curbside neighbors, and went back to base where we spent the rest of our Fourth of July...swimming.