FHE Dessert

Here is a new Family Home Evening dessert we tried that was so delicious. We love bananas at our house, so it was an instant hit. I used fat free cream cheese and skim milk in the pudding mix to make it a lower fat recipe, but  the chocolate chips could be omitted as well. It is a combination of a couple of recipes that I have tried before, and I think this version got 8 Starbuck thumbs up!

Banana Parfaits blog

1 box Nilla Wafers cookies
1 small box banana pudding mix (3.4oz size)
1 8oz carton of whipped topping
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup sugar
4 oz fat free cream cheese
2 bananas sliced
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Cooking Instructions:
Prepare pudding according to package directions; fold in whipped topping. Combine butter, sugar, and cream cheese in another mixing bowl; beat at medium speed until smooth. Fold into the pudding mixture. Crush vanilla wafers in a ziploc bag. Use small(9oz) cups and layer crumbs, pudding mixture, cut up bananas, crumbs, pudding mixture,  and whipped topping. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top and garnish with a sliced banana. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


I Love Sundays

Sundays at our home have become one of my favorite days of the week. I love to go to church together, sit in our regular pew, listen to the speakers, attend class and feel so rejuvenated from the Spirit, have the kids come running into Relief Society afterwards excitedly showing me their pictures they drew or a slip of paper showing that they get to do the talk or scripture or prayer next week. Everyone leaves happier than when we came, and we all feel blessed from the spiritual influences we get there.

As if getting to have a spiritual overhaul for the week wasn’t good enough, I love the little Sabbath day traditions that we have that have made our Sundays even more memorable.

  • We have made a point each fast Sunday when we get home from church to have our own little testimony meeting and let each family member who didn’t bear their testimony in church bear it at home. We always start with the youngest, so Abby goes to stand up by the TV cabinet, bears her testimony, than announces, “Erika, your turn.” After each person she continues to be the self appointed conductee and announce who will go next. Her testimonies are simple and often include a brief synopsis of what she did that day-“I went to my class, we blow bubbles, we had snacks..” The best part is when she throws in small growing bits of truth that she has learned that week-usually something about Joseph Smith or saying her prayers or being nice to someone. She reverently folds her arms throughout the whole thing, and loves that she gets to be first. As we continue through the rest of the kids, it warms my heart as a parent to see the things that have touched them that day or throughout the week. I love that they get to opportunity to share special, spiritual experiences in our home, and feel comfortable and safe doing it.
  • Fast Sunday Father’s interviews. When Brianna was about 3 we started doing interviews with her. We would help her write in her journal, and we would plan out what we were going to do with her for our Daddy/Daughter and Mommy and me dates for the month.  Now, Aaron gets the privilege to spend time with all five (soon to be six when Scott is a little older) children, helping them set goals, talk about things they want to, and give his loving Fatherly advise. It is a time that I know they treasure.
  • Writing and reading journals. The kids LOVE to listen to us read from our journals. I wasn’t as dedicated in keeping a journal, so many times it’s from Aaron's journal. We all bust up laughing at the funny things that happened as a kid, and beg him to read more. We try to help them see, this is why they should write in their journal, so they can get to read all the funny things they did when they were little to their own kids someday. Brianna and Austin usually write in their journals during nap time, and we help the other girls write in theirs. It’s fun to see what Brooke and Erika choose to write about now that they are able to write in theirs a bit more on their own.
  • Taking a nap. This is probably my favorite tradition. It seems like my body runs on a seven day cycle, and by the seventh day, I am wiped out. I love a nice leisurely nap. We used to (before Aaron got called as the clerk and has to stay a little later at church) all climb in our bed after lunch to read the Friend magazine. Everyone inevitable would fight for the best spot and then we would all cuddle in close while Aaron read some stories to us. After a few stories, the big kids get kicked out, Abby gets sent to her room for her nap, and the girls get to snuggle in our bed for naptime. The only downside to this is that they usually are so wired they don’t go to bed good that night, but traditions are hard to break and I love my Sunday nap so we just grin and bear it.
  • Going around the table during dinner and telling what we learned in our classes. It was fun when I was in the Primary Presidency to hear the kids take on what sharing time was about. It’s funny to see what they would pick up as the most important part. They share stories, tell us who was new or visiting in their class, and other funny things that happened. Erika’s for this week was, “My teacher, not the Searle’s, but my teacher that doesn’t know my name, well she said…”
  • Going on a walk. We love to go for Sunday walks. Aaron and I have done this since we were married. We used to walk up around the Provo temple, back along the mountain, and then south of  Wymount until we got home. Every week without fail. It was great to have an hour of time to just talk. Now with the kids it’s the same thing. There is something almost magical about going on a walk and talking. The kids open up and tell us fun random things as well as listen intently as we try to teach them something. We usually go on one after naptime or after dinner. During the summer we bring popsicles to suck on or icies to drink. I think the neighborhood is used to our little parade we put on each week-eight Starbucks spread out along the block, happily skipping along or being pushed in a stroller. The kids peak in each mailbox newspaper compartment for bird nests, Austin almost always finds a stick to carry, and everyone fights to push Scott in the stroller.
  • Making forts and playing the most creative things are one tradition that the kids have. Since we have a no TV rule for Sundays, the kids know that they have to come up with something to do, so it is amazing to me the things they come up with. Everyone loves to play whatever it is they think up. Most often it involves some fort building..either under the bunk beds, over the bunk beds, on the bunk beds, in the bunk beds..there is definitely a theme here. They spend an hour getting it just right, take books to read and paper to write on in there, and make plans of how to convince us to let them sleep that way that night. We usually give in, who doesn’t love to sleep in a fort. We have also colored things for FHE lessons, made scavenger hunts for them to go on, played the hot and cold game by hiding something in the house somewhere for them to find, put on plays, and countless other activities  involving everyone. This last weeks involved putting Scott in the girls doll stroller and pushing him around, Brianna and Austin writing love notes to Aaron and I, and a big string fort. The kids took string and wrapped it in the dining room and whole front room about four feet from the ground. They looped it around cabinet knobs, window latches, and anything else they could find that was sturdy. It looked like a big spider web. They then draped sheets over the strings to make everyone a little tent. It was great fun, until Aaron and I had to army crawl to get back to our room. The thing I love most about this tradition is how well everyone gets along. There is almost always no fighting and their creativity just seems to run over. It’s great to watch. I love to see them strengthening those siblings relationships.

                   Scott in doll stroller 2 blog   Scott in doll stroller 1 blog    Scott in doll stroller 3 blog

  • Playing a game and having treats. This one we don’t do every Sunday, but on some. The kids usually choose Jots and Tittles to play. It’s a trivial pursuit type game from when I grew up that has all sorts of gospel related questions on it. They don’t  even make it anymore, and I was glad to track one down on Ebay a couple of years ago. They love to play it! Some of the questions are really hard. It’s kind of humbling to see how much I don’t know. The having treats part usually involves Aaron and the kids making cinnamon rolls or cookies for us.
  • For a while we were doing a little game that had to do with Sacrament Meeting. I would get a huge bag of treats like tootsie rolls or Starburst from the store at the beginning of the month, then each Sunday night we would ask the kids questions about sacrament meeting. It could be anything from who conducted the meeting, to what color what the bishop’s tie, what page number and title was the opening song, sing the first verse of a hymn we sang, who blessed the sacrament, to very specific ones about the talks the speakers gave. They would get a treat for each correct answer. I don’t know if it was great to reward them with treats for listening, but it sure worked. I was amazed at what started out as listening for treats, almost always ended with everyone picking up something spiritual to strengthen their testimonies. After the first week, Brianna and Austin would take notes during church, and many times quiz us with questions too. It was a lot of fun. I may have to reinstitute that one.

I almost always wake up Monday mornings to a house that looks like a tornado hit it, but I can happily step over half built forts and open journals knowing that my children have spent their Sabbath making memories and building their testimonies. I love Sundays!


Roll of Toilet Paper + Tape + Willing sister =……


Brooke mummy blog

I love that when the kids called Aaron in to see this, the first thing out of his mouth was, “Hold still, mom’s going to want a picture of this!”

Sure enough, I do.

I don’t even ask anymore. I just chalk it up to another one of Austin’s silly ideas. The funniest part was  when Aaron looked at them with a straight face (okay semi straight face it really was so funny) and  told them that the roll of toilet paper they just used was the one for their bathroom, so they better roll it back up for use. Watch out for the Scotch tape..Ouch!


Our Giving Tree

Two Thanksgiving's ago, we put up a tire swing in the back of our property. It was a challenge to put it up, as the tree was very tall, and there were not a lot of ways to actually reach the overhanging branch to tie the rope. After days of trying and a uncle skilled in climbing trees, the tire swing found it's home. We enjoyed hours that weekend swinging on it. There really it no funner thing as a child than soaring high in the air with the wind blowing on your face as you glide back and forth. Some of my favorite pictures I have are of our  kids swinging on that swing. Faces with nothing but smiles of pure joy on them.
The neighborhood kids soon discovered the newest toy at the Starbuck household, and before we knew it there were daily requests for Aaron to push kids on the tire swing. It was fun for everyone. When we cleared out our backyard last summer, fenced in the yard, and grassed our meadow, it provided a clear path back to our  favorite tree. It was behind the fence, but I could now see it from the house and keep an eye on all my daring swingers. It became used even more frequently, and the kids were getting the hang of pushing each other high on it.
A couple weeks ago we had a bad rain storm. The kind where the thunder shakes the house, and lighting lights up the sky. As we tucked the kids into bed, and climbed into bed ourselves, we were lulled to sleep by huge claps of thunder. Morning came and the rain had stopped, and thoughts of the night before were all but forgotten. The next day we were inside after school and it  started pouring rain again. As I looked out back, I noticed something behind the fence. I couldn't place what in the world it was.
My curiosity was too much.  I grabbed the umbrella and ran into the backyard to check it out. As I approached our tire swing tree, I almost died of shock. Our huge tree had been struck by lightening and had fallen over the creek, taking many trees with it. This tree is huge. It takes Aaron and one of the kids holding hands to be able to circle their arms around it. I am not good with distances, but suffice it to say it way very, very tall. One  of the tallest trees in our yard.
As we saw the aftermath, we soon realized how tragic it would have been if the tree had fallen the other direction-towards the fence and house. It would have surely caused a domino effect, and taken down many more trees into our yard. Our daily prayers of safety do not go unheard-of that I am sure.
As for the tire swing? Well, unfortunately another chapter in our life of living in this home is closed. We have the fun memories, and now plans of building a bigger and better one someday at another house.
Good-bye tire swing tree.
You have been the giving tree for our kids

                                 ...and we have been happy!

 Erika drawing of tire swing

Erika’s picture of our tire swing

tree side view blog

tree blog      lightening tree blog     tree base blog

 other tree broke blog     tree over creek blog      tire swing blog


Random Act of Brookiness

Grandma Starbuck sent a fun package full of video tapes and coloring books. We were in the kitchen while the kids were enjoying them in the playroom, and in walks Brooke with stickers from her coloring book all over her face mummy style.  You never cease to amaze us with your quirky little sense of humor.

Brooke with stickers on face blog


Twinner Girls

The term “twinner” at our house means getting to be the same as someone else-their twin. When I went to South Dakota in July, we got Tayleigh an early birthday present and bought her a dress to match the other girls when she came to visit. The girls had been talking it up all week, and couldn’t wait until Sunday to all match. They looked so cute in their matching dresses.

Girls in their dresses blog_edited-1

Mike and Desirea

We are so glad that you came to visit. It has been so much fun getting to see family. Thank you for driving so far to see us. We love you!!! Some of the fun memories from the week:

  • Going out for ice cream
  • Playing old school Nintendo games on the wii
  • Impressing my kids that I DO know how to play a video game-Super Mario Bros rocks!
  • Blowing big bubbles
  • Playing at Flat Rock Park
  • Going out to eat-just us adults
  • Talking at Barnes and Noble
  • Not getting our Starbucks discount there!
  • Eating yummy chocolate
  • Making cookie pizza with the girls
  • Playing at Callaway at the beach
  • Staying up late talking
  • Playing Mario Party 8
  • Taking apart IPODS
  • Watching Tayleigh sleep with her beauty mask on
  • Having to do laundry at the laundry mat because our washer broke-not fun per say, but fun to get to talk and hang out with Desirea


Mike family pic blog_edited-1


Mike and Desirea blog_edited-1


Callaway Gardens

A trip to Georgia wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Callaway Gardens, so we packed up the cars and took Mike, Desirea, and Tayleigh to one of our favorite spots.  We love to have a place so nearby to play at the beach, take bike rides, go on hikes, see butterflies, and enjoy nature. We enjoyed one of the last weekends that the beach was open for the season. It was great, just like I remember last year being at this time-not too busy, beautiful weather, and refreshing water. This was Scott’s first time at a “beach” with sand. He loves the pool, so I figured this would only be a step up. He was so fun to watch as he explored the sand. We would sit on the edge of the water and he would grab a handful and then watch it slowly dissolve back into the water. I was so surprised he didn’t even try once to eat it, he just scooped it up again and again.

Scott in water at callaway blog

Aaron and Scott in water blog

As soon as we let the other kids loose in the water, they were off in their own little worlds. As usual they were so busy playing that nobody wanted to give me the time of day to get their picture taken. I was able to sneak a few out of them. This picture of Abby cracks me up. It’s a cute picture, but look at her hand under the water. It looks huge!!! She has fingers like elastigirl or something. So funny!

                      Erika floating on her back blog        Abby swimming callaway blog          Brooke in water blog

        While everyone else was busy splashing around Brooke was content playing by herself building her own sand castle. 

               Brooke building castle 1 blog         Brooke building castle 2 blog         Brooke building castle 3 blog

Brooke building castle  blog

After swimming for awhile we convinced Mike to let us bury him in the sand. We buried him and he got an additional “fin” as well. You can’t see it, but the kids wrote, “Mike the merman” in the sand.

Burying Mike in the sand blog

Mike the mermaid blog    The sun when in his eyes when we took the picture, so he looks a little more like a pirate instead of a mermaid.

Breaking out of sand 1 blog

“Hey, who’s makin’ fun of me merman fin?”

Breaking out of sand 2 blog

“I’ll get you for that”

Breaking out of sand 3 blog


Breaking out of sand 4 blog

After that everyone wanted their chance to be buried in the sand. Brianna with her big muscles, and Abby as a little shrimp.

            brianna muscle man blog           Abby shrimp blog

Brooke, Erika, and Tayleigh’s was so cute. They turned out to be a three headed octopus.girls octopus blog

   Girls by fountain at callaway blog


            Aaron holding scott 2 blog                Aaron holding Scott callaway blog             Scott smiling at callaway blog

Before going to Callaway we had got online and tried to figure out how to make our bubble making experience bigger and better than we had the day earlier. Their was a U-tube video clip of people making huge bubbles-ones that were bigger than our van big! We watched it over and over again trying to figure out how we could make a contraption to make bubbles that huge. After many ideas we came up with something we thought would work. We found a backup big bubble maker at Toysrus and of course had the trusty bubble sword. We were able to make a few big ones after a while with the one we bought. The one we made didn’t work quite as well as we had imagined. We may have to tweak it before our next visit to Callaway.


            Aaron blowing bubbles at callaway blog     Brianna hurdle bubbles blog

The girls would run back and forth from the water fountain filling up water bottles and coming to dump them in our bucket to keep it full. Then they would put there hands and arms in the bucket and get all soaped up. They would hold their hands up and let the wind blow and it would blow bubbles from their hands. Abby had so much soap on her, we scrubbed her for five minutes under the water, and she was still soapy. You could come up and rub her leg a little bit and bubbles would float off into the air.

Erika blowing bubbles with hands blog

As the sun started to peak back out from the clouds, Austin was having fun with Tayleigh’s bubble sword. He would run back and forth on the bank while Erika chased behind him trying to pop the bubbles. It was a perfect picture to sum up our fun day. Ah..summer fun! I always hate to see the summer end. Long days, playing at the beach, fun picnics, staying up late, catching fireflies, cold icies on a hot day, …and now beautiful bubbles at sunset to add to our list of summer favorites.

Austin and Erika sunset bubble without blowouts blog_edited-1


Uncle Mike visits

If the excitement of having school start wasn’t enough having your uncle come sure was. My brother Mike and his girlfriend Desirea and her daughter Tayleigh came to visit us from Utah for 5 days. Our girls were so excited to have another playmate around, and after the first day they all decided Tayleigh should just stay here and live with us. We all had a great time, and are so glad that they drove so far to come see us. Thanks for coming guys!!!

Tayleigh brought her super cool bubble sword, which was the hit of the whole week. The kids were amazed at the huge bubbles that it made. They took turns blowing bubbles and trying to chase each other down to pop them.

Bubble blog       Bubble wond blog       Bubble 2 blog


Mike blowing bubble blog

After a while we discovered that it took just the right amount of skill, concentration, and most of all… luck. We tried so hard to make the perfect bubbles, and then the girls would show us up by just grabbing it and running. We couldn’t believe the long bubbles they were able to make.

                    Abby blowing bubbles blog           Abby bubble head blog

Abby took the wand and started turning in a circle enclosing herself in a little bubble donut.

Abby bubble circle blog

Concentration is key!

tayleigh tongue bubble blog

tayleigh running bubble blog

               Abby with the bubble jar that is almost as big as she is. She was getting a little bit bored of waiting her turn to use the sword, and when we looked over she has the big container of bubbles on her lap having her own bubble fun.

          Abby blowing wond 2 blog      Abby blowing wond blog      Abby blowing wond 3 blog

Erika running bubble 1 blog Erika running bubble 3 blog Erika running with bubble blogErika running bubble 4 bog