Sunday, December 30, 2007

Nursery Necessities

Take a tour with me around the nursery! One year ago today we moved into this home. Leah's blue room was never put together and fully furnished and organized until...yesterday!

I'm so glad for the nesting bug this week, and for the ambition that comes with knowing that I will have a baby within the next 8 days! There are certain things that definately had to happen; acquiring and putting together a second crib was certainly one of those abosolutes. I found our second one on Craigslist with the mattress for only $100 and in addition to being very attractive, it is also in very good condition.

I brought it home and Chris and I set to work to put it together in an alloted hour before we went to a friends' house for dinner. This one was a little more complicated than our other crib. It had metal rods, springs, lots of screws...we had no idea how to put it together! We printed off the pictures from the sale ad hoping to get some clues about which goes where and what is up or down. Not much help. Dejectedly, we abandoned the project to go to dinner.

We had dinner with Chris' coworker Sharon and her husband Tracey, who have a two month old baby. After dinner, Chris and the rest of the gang settled in for a four hour UFC fight night and I was left to myself and my two-year old. What was I possibly going to do to entertain myself for so long and keep my child happy while she's up way past her bedtime?

Then I noticed it. In the baby's room were the parts to their baby's new crib they'd gotten at a garage sale, a bag of hardware, and assembly instructions. And did I mention it was almost the exact same crib that I'd bought for Samuel that very afternoon? Knowing that I would expose my true self as the strange dinner-guest who likes to put things together, I asked for a screwdriver and hesitantly offered to put together their crib for them. "No, I'm serious. Will you let me put this together for you?" She gave me the okay and I set to work. Would you have passed up such a golden opportunity?

In a matter of an hour, I had successfully assembled their crib and committed the instructions to memory. Once at home at 11:00 that night, I successfully repeated the procedure on our crib in a mere ten minutes. Wahoo!

We now have side-by side cribs-Samuel's all set up with matching Pooh layette-and the room is fully furnished with a functional and stocked dresser/changing table, my glider, and a bookshelf. It really looks like a nursery finally! I think I'm ready for a baby to come!

Meanwhile, I feel like the baby is going to fall out any minute, and my skin is on too tight. My insides are crushed by the baby and my reflux is unbearable(chocolate making the symptoms worse, of course). I'm glad we're in the home stretch!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Weekend Update









So we've recovered from our candy hangovers enough to blog again. Christmas was a blast! We were blessed with a generous bounty from our loving friends and family. Leah was privileged to receive all manner of movies, books, toys, and treats, wanting to spend time with each one before putting it down to open another. The biggest hits are her Little People garage with accompanying "toy man," several new cars, the fish-themed crib mobile her little brother got, and of course, the empty boxes. Chris is excited to have some new books on investing, the party game Cranium, some new socks and a belt, a power drill (which is a dream for this DIY mom, too!) and of course the Cinnamon Toast Crunch that Santa brought, not to mention a first-generation XBox to satisfy his gaming fix while the 360 is new and expensive. I got some books, new kitchen things including a fantastic bread maker (Hooray!), a couch cover since I can't stand the thought of spit-up saturating our nice new couch, fuzzy new slippers, and much, much more. We are so blessed. Thank you to all our Santas for your generous and thoughtful gifts!

On the baby front, this one is riding low! You may or may not be able to tell from the picture, but this baby has dropped and my shape is much rounder than it was a week ago (and trust me, my innards can tell!) People always have to comment on the size of a pregnant woman's belly (why is that exactly?) and this week the comment of note was "Wow, you're really pregnant!" Yes, thank you for the needed acknowledgement that I have indeed done my time.

Thursday the doctor offered to get me started on the labor train in time to have a tax-break baby and I declined. Am I insane? I just needed to finish things like the laundry, putting together a nursery, putting away Christmas, I still have to clean the oven...it just didn't seem like the right time. But, he's got me scheduled for an induction on the 7th and I'm hoping for the same offer (of stripping the membranes) when I go in again on the 3rd. I like the idea of going into labor on my own, but I don't necessarily want to be pregnant for an entire two weeks or longer. I'm so grateful for a sympathetic doctor!

In honor of having paid my pregnancy dues and in preparation for the dues of labor, I treated myself to some Pre-Baby Pampering yesterday. Thanks to my accommodating husband, I slept in and had breakfast in bed. Then my friend Michal and I had lunch together and got pedicures and pigged out at Cold Stone. Now my toes are ready for baby to come! I needed the warm fuzzy feeling...

At the prospect of possibly having a baby next weekend, it was time to get serious about nesting. I revisited the furniture options for the kids' room and tightened all the screws on Leah's dresser to make it once again usable as a dresser and changing table, I succumbed and bought a second crib on Craigslist, and finally found a decent bookshelf. What a difference it makes to be organized. It's starting to look like a nursery finally! Next on the docket is to clean all the light fixtures, scrub down and vacuum my couch so I can put my couch cover on, stock up on diapers and wipes for two, vacuum and dust the entire house, make a budget for 2008, teach Chris how to blog post so he can put up baby pictures, and the list goes on. I don't exactly get as much done in one day as I ever expect...some things I'm sure will not get done at all! For example, today instead of cleaning I did errands, blogged, and made a pie.

In the mean time, this is my 100th post, we have dinner plans with friends, Chris is enjoying a long weekend sans work or homework, we are glad to have a little more time to prepare for baby and some predictability in when he will arrive, and we are thrilled that Leah continues to be such a good girl.

That's a wrap...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Candies, Confections, and Crafts

It's the holidays, and you just can't have Christmas Eve without egg nog, sappy music, family games, and of course a plethera of treats to munch on. So I've set to work in the kitchen over the past week. I've made fudge (which never did set past a gloop stage...any tips?), 3 batches of mini banana bread loaves, toffee (the first thing to get completely devoured), and seven dozen snowball cookies (aka Russian Tea Cakes, aka Mexican Wedding cookies, etc). I've used several pounds of butter, chocolate, and walnuts, and almost an entire 5 lb bag of sugar, plus I've cleaned the kitchen at least half a dozen times (so why does it still look like a blizzard of confectioner sugar?) and had a resultant stomach ache every night since.

I had planned to make all these tasty delights in time for our party on Saturday, but you know, falling down the stairs forced me to slow down a little and take a break. The party was a great success--we had a good turnout of about a dozen people, which was just the right amount. And nobody seemed to mind that my fudge was more gloppy than anything else and that I didn't serve more homemade cookies, a veggie platter, pesto cheese tarts, or chips and dip. Everybody brought something tasty to share and I didn't have to stress out. For the record, we were planning on visiting the dentist soon anyway and both of us have Weight Watchers on our radar for next year.

So not only did I feel the need to deliver plates of goodies to our neighbors and friends, but I had to stamp too. I made these cute little cocoa pouches with snowman tags and a candy cane. There's just something addicting about this kind of activity that makes it really hard for me to stop making them...

And lastly, here's our tree. We are hoping to find our remote control tomorrow buried underneath presents, because we can't think of anywhere else it could possibly be!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Baby Story: Part I

A few weeks ago, my brother sent me a great article discussing why pregnant women don't fall over. It's really fun to read, and talks about the evolution of the human spine compensating for the forward-heaviness of women during pregnancy, and is worth a read. Here's what I want to know: How does a forward-heavy pregnant woman carrying a 25lb toddler on her front topple over backwards?

This is what I did Friday, 10am. Down the stairs.

I'm a little shaken up, but not nearly as much as the two-year old who is completely unharmed and is merely responding to my loud shout as I went down...and down and down. I would probably have responded with much more hysteria if I hadn't had to calm her down first. I do get a nasty rugburn and am kind of sore, but other than that I can walk around and don't feel like anything is broken. Still, I feel I need to check with my doctor, who tells me to go to the hospital just to make sure everything is okay.

11am, at the hospital. They hook me up to a fetal monitor and the baby's heartbeat sounds great. That's a relief. But they won't let me eat lunch because they're waiting for the results of a blood test that would indicate if the placenta has abrupted from the uterus...which would be a serious problem. I have to have an empty stomach in case they do an emergency C-section. Woah! I was planning on doing laundry and making cookies and cleaning the kitchen today, not having a baby! They tell me they will keep me there for four hours while we wait for the test results.

1:00pm, A neighbor takes Leah for us, and my good husband stays by my side offering to get me anything I need. All I really want is lunch, and that's out of the question. So we wait.

5:00pm, The doctor checks in to say the test results are normal. I'm having contractions every 3-5 minutes, but they aren't painful. The doc didn't stop the contractions since I'm just about full-term anyway, and stopping the contractions could mask other problems if there were any. There's no risk that the baby is going to fall out...But the contractions could be a symptom of the trauma of falling down the stairs, so the doctor wants me to stay in the hospital overnight just to make sure there isn't any internal bleeding. I am glad that my doctor errs on the side of caution, since sending me home too early and having a problem 1/2 hour later is way worse than an uneventful 24 hour hospital stay. I ask Chris to bring me something to do, and he jokes that he'll bring back a basket of laundry...I'm glad someone has a sense of humor!

6:30pm, Chris brings me Subway and it is soooooo good. Then he leaves me for the night and I settle in to a night of boredom. I watch a movie and talk on the phone and when I go to bed, they give me a sleep aid. Alhtough I wake up a few times, I think I sleep fairly well and have enough pillows to call myself comfortable.

Rx: Rest and Relaxation
On one hand, I don't exactly have the luxury of a change of clothes, a toothbrush, unlimited mobility, and my trusty laptop, but I guess the beauty of the situtation is that I don't have to make or clean up dinner, I don't have to listen to the whines of a 2 year old, and I can sleep until I wake up, not until my two-year old wakes up. In that respect, I get to relax.

Saturday 8:00am, I wake up and eat breakfast, they steal some more blood.

10:30am, The blood test is normal, Chris and Leah come back to pick me up (after peeking at the babies in the nursery, of course), and they let me go home!

1:00 pm I'm at home. I'm showered and cleanly dressed, have finally brushed my teeth and we're hosting a Christmas party in 6 hours. I get a call from the doctor who says I might have to go back to the hospital for another Rhogam shot...he'll get back to me. (Isn't it great to be Rh Neg?)

I'm feeling pretty good and I'm still pregnant. So what do I do next? Go back to the hospital for another blood test? Lay on the couch and moan and make people bring me stuff? Make cookies? Clean the house?

Whatever I do, I'm not falling down the stiars.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Lights out

My husband thought yesterday was very "bloggable" and took pictures for me, so here goes.

The day was wet and cold. Around 6:00 it started hailing! There was thunder and lightening too, which was really weird. Then by 6:30 it was snowing and slushy and slippery...and then the power went out! It was kind of cool to be instantly plunged into total darkness...not to mention the silence since the basal hums of our home were also absent. It's amazing how much light one candle appears to give off when there is no other light source. The entire street was quiet and dark, with soft snow falling peacefully. The only thing missing was Christmas music. Leah was really fascinated by fire and candles. Aside from a tree, my Christmas decorations consist of a garland and two tall white candles on my mantle...I had no intention of ever lighting the candles, but they sure came in handy last night!
Over the course of the next three hours, we carried candles around the house with us and set up a game and played by candle flicker. Fortunately, Chris has no class or homework until January, otherwise it would have been stressful to be without power, but it was actually a lot of fun! When the power came back on at 9:45, we turned the lights back off and kept playing!
Unfortunately, I never cleaned up the dinner dishes or put away clothes and shoes in the dark, and it's no fun to look at now this morning. I guess I have my work cut out for me today!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Projects new and old

Okay, so the cabinet is UP! What a relief! It only took my neighbor half an hour, and he said he likes doing that kind of thing and that if I made him cookies, it wouldn't really count as service. Hmm...still considering that one. Here's the before and after:


Among the myriads of other things I've done this week (or should have done), I took the "what have I got to loose" attitude and submitted 5 stamped projects to the monthly Stampin' Up! contest for demonstrators. I submitted 3 cards, a decorated cocoa holder/pouch, and an embellished book. Here's the covered book I submitted that actually took me almost an hour to create (as my first attempt took me an entire day of General Conference, an hour was a significant improvement...good thing I had an idea of what I was doing this time!) Who knows, I could get 3 free stamp sets if I win, and now I have a better chance of winning than if I hadn't entered at all. Here it is:

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What's in your Fridge?

Once upon a time, I bought Fat Free Ranch Dressing. Apparently, this is an abomination because it just doesn't taste good. I learned my lesson that it doesn't get eaten at my house, and have since adopted the practice of buying Light Ranch Dressing. It tastes much better and still has a lower fat content than regular Ranch Dressing (which is also very good).

Last night we had a green salad with our pork chops. I went to get some ranch out of the fridge for my salad, but all we had was that same 24 oz bottle of Fat Free that is still only 3/4 finished. I couldn't bring myself to eat it, knowing it would taste funny compared to my expectation of how Light or full-fat ranch tastes. I settled for some other creamy dressing and vowed to buy salad dressing the next time I'm at the grocery store.

About to put the inferior salad dressing back in the fridge, I curiously checked the expiration date on the bottle. 12OCT05. What? That bottle of ranch expired over two years ago? That was before our child was born! What's even more appalling, since October of 2005, we have moved twice. This means I have moved that particular condiment from refrigerator to refrigerator two times, and we still have no intention of ever finishing it. I threw it away. How liberating.

Do you know what's lurking in your fridge?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What it's like to be 8 months pregnant

I woke up at quarter past early because I was absolutely baking, threw off the sheets and removed a layer of sweats only to hear the furnace kick on moments later. I laid in bed for several minutes debating the prospect of getting up to turn the furnace down or staying put where I was somewhat comfortable. After a quarter hour I finally made my mid-night pilgrimage to the bathroom, got a glass of cold water, and turned the furnace down while I was up waddling around. Then I laid back down to go back to sleep.

Ugh...back pain. Although I was no longer hot, I still couldn't get comfortable. I'm supposed to sleep on my side and to facilitate this, I have a half dozen pillows to call my own, including a body pillow to prop up my belly. But sleeping on your side gets old and your hips start to hurt. Plus, your center of gravity is so out of whack that your back screams in protest day and night at having to sustain the weight of a nearly full-grown fetus. I thought I could try propping up all my millions of pillows to make a reclining kind of bed set-up and sleep elevated on my back. No luck. I still laid there awake. Exhausted, yes, but unable to get comfortable enough to actually fall asleep. (This coming from a girl who once fell asleep in gym class.)

Then the reflux kicked in. I downed a couple tums and another glass of water (sentancing myself to another bathroom pilgrimage in two hours).

Then the fetus woke up and proceeded his thrice-daily flexibility routine. No way of positioning my 400 pillows or curling or elongating my torso prevents painful jabs in the ribs, bladder, lungs, or other internal organs.

My two year old whimpered every half hour from her crib (did I turn the furnace down too low?)...My brain started to wake up and make lists of things to do the next day, and part of me wondered if I should just get up and set to work since I was already awake...Did I mention that I had the songs from the Winnie the Pooh movie stuck in my head the whole time? Then I began to recognize the all too familiar pangs of hunger...

By now its quarter to the crack of dawn and I have spent two hours tossing and turning for one reason or another. Soon it will be time to get up regardless of how much sleep I've gotten, and then I'll get to do it again the following night. Charming!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Loving and hating IKEA

Before the Beehive State was blessed with an IKEA of its own, I only got to go when I was in Illinois visiting my parents, and of course I couldn't get anything big because it wouldn't fit in an overhead compartment of a 747 (of course, a limited budget contributed to that problem also). Now that we have an IKEA close by, I've had the chance to get some trendy things I've needed for my home, and to covet everything else!

I really like their household accessories. I got bamboo placemats for, like, $1 each. I got a folding wooden plant stand for $6. You can get ceramic rice bowls for 55 cents each, a small dustpan and brush for $1, a teflon wok for $8, a gigantic roll of butcher paper for $6, a set of matching kids cups, plates, and plasticware for under $10, trendy measuring cups and spoons for about $3 a set, and the list goes on. As for the big stuff, I recently got an attractive solid oak stand/shelf that we use for shoes and gloves by the front door for a modest $50, and a rolling utility cart for the bathroom for $13. I really like browsing through the catalog and strolling through the store and seeing all the coordinating room decor, dreaming of an unlimited budget and full shopping cart bag. I think the prices are good, at least on the items I'm interested in. I love IKEA!

On the other hand, some of their products and some of their ways make me wonder... First of all, I would never buy furniture there unless it was solid wood. In high school I had an IKEA dresser that was mostly particleboard and although trendy and attractive, it turned out to be a piece of junk. Then, whenever I do buy furniture items or other accessories that require assembly, I am thoroughly insulted by the poorly depicted pictorial assembly instructions. Can't they use words? (Then of course I'd be complaining about the poor translation into 14 different languages, right?) How am I supposed to tell which way is up based on the picture? And if all else fails, you're supposed to resort to the last instruction: it is an image of a stick man on the phone with the IKEA store...yeah, I'm sure that would be a great trick in an ideal world!

Last spring I picked up a set of three stainless steel saucepans for $10. What a great deal, right? Within just a few uses, I noticed that the handle on one of the lids had cracked, allowing it to accumulate moisture which them morphed into mold between the lid and handle; then the handle on the actual pot fell off. Oh, and there's the really cool idea of mixing and matching your comforter cover with the polyester filling inside. (Covers come from around $20 and the polyester fill starts at $6 depending on the thickness). In theory, you can change your bedding "as often as you change your clothes" and can put in the heavy winter polyester fill or the light spring one. My only question is how do you get it to stay inside? I frequently wake up only to have the polyester inside taking over my bed and the cover itself a forgotten memory on the floor. At a subsequent visit to the showroom, I examined the show model of this bedding accessory--I was surprised to find that the show model had snaps to keep the opening shut. What a concept! Why doesn't mine have snaps? (I know I could easily add them myself, or a tie, or could just sew it up, but it's the principle here!) So after trying and testing many of those trendy but affordable accessories I'd had my radar on for years, it turns out that some are just a total waste of money. I can't stand IKEA!

I recently bought a cabinet unit from IKEA. For less than $60 I picked out a white cabinet the same size as my existing cabinets (although my cabinets are oak and it won't match anyway). It has a cabinet with a door on the top and an open microwave shelf on the bottom and is meant to be mounted to the wall above the counter where there should have been a cabinet in the first place. Very functional, right? I was impressed that I could piece together this semi-custom item for a decent price. I love IKEA!

I went to pick up my order. The man gave me several flat boxes, a bag of hardware, and a 6-foot long metal mounting bracket. He saw my perplexity at the size of the metal piece. "All the mounting brackets come that length, and you cut it to the right size," he informed me. "How am I supposed to cut it?" "Oh, any metal saw will work." What? A metal saw? Why would I have a metal saw? What have I gotten myself into? I threatened to return the ridiculously over sized stick of metal on the spot and go home without it, but would have had to wait another 20 minutes for them to call my number again...

So I brought it all home and set to work being resourceful with a screwdriver, a hammer, and pictogram instructions. It was almost looking like a cabinet when I discovered the door to the top half was the wrong size. They charged me for the right one, but simply picked the wrong one. No big deal, I guess. Mistakes happen...I'll just go exchange it. Now the cabinet is put together in all it's beauty sitting in my living room (and as a horizontal surface out of a two-year-old's reach has become storage for all manner of clutter-ous things). Our home teacher did us a favor and sawed the microwave shelf to the right depth and bolted it to the bottom shelf of the cabinet, then drilled a monstrous hole through both layers where we can thread the cord for the microwave. (Marketed as a microwave cabinet, shouldn't that have already been done for me?) Hmmm...this is turning out to be a bigger project than I thought. I have an appointment for my neighbor to come by at 8:00 tonight and finally mount it for me. I would have attempted it myself but he said something about finding the studs and how to drill it properly, and I just chickened out. I can put things together myself if all I need is a screwdriver, but actually maiming my wall? I'm not super confident in my ability to do it correctly...it would likely be crooked or fall on someones head.

What began in September as a realistic and affordable solution to kitchen storage needs has turned into a perpetually unfinished project that demeans my own confidence in myself to solve problems. I hate IKEA!

Monday, December 10, 2007

35 Weeks and counting

At this point in time, I'm counting down, not up. As of today, I have exactly 5 weeks until my due date. I've been feeling...well, like I'm ready to not be pregnant anymore. Baby Samuel is very active day and night, keeping me uncomfortably awake. He often has the hiccups. Meanwhile, I have sore hips, really bad acid reflux, a sweet tooth, and a bad attitude. Here is a picture of me today so you can see this basketball-shaped thing out in front of me (sorry, it's a self-portrait). Compare it to the 22 week picture. I feel like a mutant.

I had a 34 week ultrasound last Monday. Here's what I learned: The baby is growing and healthy. It's still a boy. He has hair. According to head size, I was 36 weeks pregnant. (Great. My kid has a big head.) The baby's head is down, with the spine on my left side and appendages on my right, which explains why I keep getting socked in the ribs and kidneys over there.

Time to start getting excited right? I wish I were more excited...I just know how sleep deprived I will be and can't remember that it didn't last forever. Plus, this time I haven't done hardly anything to prepare. Last time I did a lot of reading, prewashed, folded and refolded a dresser full of cute little pink outfits, gazed longingly at an empty crib and carseat... This time I haven't even thought about actually bringing home a baby. What do I do with my two year old when I'm at the hospital? Where will I put him when I get home? What is he going to wear? Pink? Maybe after the Holidays it will really sink in and I'll start nesting. At least, let's hope!


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Google Searches

Since I started tracking my stats in August (using StatCounter), I've noticed some pretty strange internet searches that have landed the viewer on my blog. Here are some of the searches that have led here. Some of them make sense, others not so much:

  • My husband is a miser
  • Pictures of baby in utero
  • I forgot to put in the eggs
  • Twilight preview writing
  • the minutiae elaine seinfeld stinking apartment
  • baby laughing commercial
  • 29 weeks pregnant my baby trembles
  • free toothbrushes for dentists
  • lds women
  • his sympathy weight
  • celine deon salt lake city
  • Is banana bread supposed to be refrigerated
  • Supermom funny checklist
  • Captain belly flop strikes again T-shirt

Yeah, that's what I thought: pretty strange.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving...again!

Yesterday we had Thanksgiving again. Let's just say I needed the practice and we wanted leftovers. I successfully made a turkey! Last year, we sat down to eat with dinner guests and the turkey was still frozen. Then, attempting to slice it into smaller pieces to cook faster, we sliced through the aluminum baking pan and got turkey juice all over the stove. Lets just say it was somewhat of a disaster...

But this year, the turkey was fully cooked on time (it had 8 hours!) and was super juicy and delicious! Here's what we had for dinner: Turkey (I got a 20 lb turkey for $1.5o with all my turkey vouchers!), honey ham, mashed potatoes, gravy made with the turkey drippings, stuffing, corn, cranberry sauce, Rhodes rolls with lots of butter, and green olives, followed by a dessert buffet including pumpkin pie, pecan pie, mango cheesecake, chocolate truffles, and sparkling cider. Nobody had room for egg-nog. It was de-lic-ious.

In the process of creating this meal and serving 6 adults, one two year old, and a nearly full-grown fetus, we exhausted our supplies of china, serving bowls and spoons, silverware, glasses, casserole dishes, pie dishes, counter space, aluminum foil, tupperware, oven mitts, clean dishtowels, and of course, our appetites. We did, however enjoy good company, stuffing ourselves silly again and again, opening early my first Christmas present of the year (more tupperware), packing the freezer with leftovers, and the inevitable I-ate-too-much stomach ache all night long. We dropped the pepper shaker in the gravy, ate dessert with plastic forks, ran the dishwasher three times, and didn't get to bed until 11:00. We also celebrated Leah's birthday and David's birthday. What a terrific day!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Yes, I take advice from chocolate

I found out I was pregnant with Leah on a Friday. The following Sunday, I snagged a chocolate out of the Bishop's candy jar. This is what the wrapper said:

Celebrate the child within you.
I thought that was really cool. I laminated the candy wrapper and put it in a scrapbook.

So, it's been a busy week. On days when I actually have a car to drive (meaning I drove my husband to work at quarter to 8--before I prefer to grace the world with my crusty presence and morning breath), I have to make the most of my errand-running time, of course working around lunch and nap time. Monday was a doctor's appointment and grocery shopping and car cleaning. Tuesday was filled with Relief Society duties. Yesterday I stayed home and went through paperwork and made piles of things to put away. Cleaning up a mess in and of itself creates an entirely new mess. Well, when I say I did paperwork, I mean I spent several hours preparing documentation for a dozen FLEX account transactions throughout the year. Yes, it was a good thing I kept the receipt for that Pepto-Bismol. Today, I swapped babysitting with my neighbor, and in my hour and a half, I made copies of all the paperwork from yesterday and did some birthday and Christmas shopping. Then, even though my child was now in tow, I went visiting teaching, made a Relief Society drop-in visit, and spent $135 at Sam's Club (and in only 45 minutes!) while my child was sound asleep in the shopping cart. How I wished it could have been me asleep in the shopping cart. I think everyone I passed (and they all ogled that there was a kid sound asleep in the cart) saw the sleepiness in my eyes and the half-speed shuffle in my step.

While at Sam's I gravitated toward the free food samples. One of them was Dove chocolates...irresistible. The lady gave me one of each kind, regular chocolate, dark chocolate, and extra dark. This is what the wrappers said:

You're allowed to do nothing.

Flirting is mandatory.

Celebrate the freedom to indulge.

I was grateful for the validation to indulge, since that was my third chocolate in 90 seconds, and it was the extra dark one. As for the second one, I will remember that when Chris gets home from class.

But do nothing? What a relief! I'm so burned out that I'd love to do nothing! Here's what I could be doing right now: make pies for Sunday dinner, research how to successfully cook a turkey, scrub the kitchen floor, disinfect the kitchen counters, remedy that the kitchen curtains are encrusted with cheerios and toddler face-prints, attack the piles I made yesterday, wrap birthday and Christmas presents, attend the sewing class at church, put Christmas lights in the windows, put up that infernal kitchen cabinet that still adorns my living room, and essentially play SuperMom until I run myself into the ground.

But I'm doing nothing. And I'm allowed to do nothing. In 45 minutes Leah will be in bed and I will put up my feet and commence nothing. I will possibly watch Tuesday's House, flip channels randomly while sipping hot cocoa, read a book, blog, or something equally underproductive, because I have permission! Sorry, but SuperMom is not in tonight!

That's exactly what I thought!

I just got the December issue of the Ensign, and I have to say, the very first article by President Hinckley hit me right in the center. It's called "These, Our Little Ones." I thought it was very powerful and inspiring. Let me share a few tidbits.

E. T. Sullivan once wrote these interesting words: “When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, he goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn’t stir up his earthquakes or send forth his thunderbolts. Instead, he has a helpless baby born, perhaps in a simple home and of some obscure mother. And then God puts the idea into the mother’s heart, and she puts it into the baby’s mind. And then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and the thunderbolts. The greatest forces in the world are babies.”

...

Do you want a spirit of love to grow in the world? Then begin within the walls of your own home. Behold your little ones, and see within them the wonders of God, from whose presence they have recently come.

...

The story is told that in ancient Rome a group of women were, with vanity, showing their jewels one to another. Among them was Cornelia, the mother of two boys. One of the women said to her, “And where are your jewels?” To which Cornelia responded, pointing to her sons, “These are my jewels.” Under her tutelage and walking after the virtues of her life, they grew to become Gaius and Tiberius Gracchus—the Gracchi, as they were called—two of the most persuasive and effective reformers in Roman history. For as long as they are remembered and spoken of, the mother who reared them after the manner of her own life will be remembered and spoken of with praise also.

...

Behold your little ones. Pray with them. Pray for them and bless them. The world into which they are moving is a complex and difficult world. They will run into heavy seas of adversity. They will need all the strength and all the faith you can give them while they are yet near you. And they will also need a greater strength which comes of a higher power. They must do more than go along with what they find. They must lift the world, and the only levers they will have are the example of their own lives and the powers of persuasion that will come of their testimonies and their knowledge of the things of God. They will need the help of the Lord. While they are young, pray with them that they may come to know that source of strength which shall then always be available in every hour of need.

...

Said Isaiah of old, “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isaiah 54:13). To which I add, “Great also shall be the peace and the gladness of their fathers and mothers.”

What a great honor and blessing that we have one (and 3/4) children. I only hope and pray and strive to be the worthy mother President Hinckley described that will instill in the hearts of my children the spirit and desire to do good.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

This week at our house...

1. We got home on Saturday and until I could go grocery shopping on Monday, all we had to eat that was fresh was chocolate milk. Chris even tried putting it on his breakfast cereal. Gross.

2. We got home on Saturday and until I could clean out the car on Monday, it ranked an 8 on the nasty stench-o-meter. Now it's about a 5. How I wish I had no sense of smell.

3. We got home on Saturday and since then, Chris has loaded and unloaded the dishwasher at least three times!

4. I'm 33 weeks pregnant. I can no longer reach my toes without twisting and contorting strangely, and comfortable sleep is a distant memory thanks to an awkward belly, rambunctious fetus, and acid reflux.

5. My child ate better, slept better, and entertained herself better at Grandma's house than at our house. Why do you suppose that is? Did I just ignore her better because there were more rooms to abandon her in? Is Grandma just more patient with her than I am?

6. Yesterday I made dinner for Chris so he could eat and run. Then, left to myself for several hours, I actually made dinner for Leah and me (and I don't mean Macaroni & Cheese or PBJ) and we both ate heartily until we were satisfied.

7. I'd like to put up our Christmas decorations this week, but Chris wants to do our tree together (good grief!) which means I have to wait until Friday to have a Christmas tree. By the time that comes, I will already have put up a garland, wrapped presents, and put the lights in the windows.

8. I'm surrounded by half-finished projects new and old, including the Christmas decorations (see number 7), a dried-paint-coated craft table that adorns my living room, a finished but unhung kitchen cabinet, the stenchified car-cleaning project, a box full of stuff from a drawer that was reassigned but which sits on my kitchen table, the house cleaning project which continues to become more daunting, my Relief Society responsibilities, and the list goes on. I even took a shower today but didn't actually do my hair or makeup meaning that I'm also half-finished. Good thing I'm not going anywhere today!

9. This Sunday is Leah's second birthday. This Sunday I teach a lesson in Relief Society. This Sunday we are having guests and having our own Thanksgiving dinner. Hey, I gotta learn the art of the turkey and thanksgiving-day kitchen mayhem some day!

10. I'm tired.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Our Thanksgiving Mad-Lib

Before we left on our trip, I tried to find Mad-Libs at the store so we could do them in the car, but had no luck. I was beginning to think they were a thing of the past until I serendipitously found them at Barnes & Noble--we had a blast doing them on the way home. I was so inspired to create our own Mad-Lib describing our vacation.

You do it first and then you can read my real, but much less silly version of the events.

Last name
Name of town
Number
Adjective
Noun
Food
Food
Verb
Musical instrument
Adjective
Animal plural
Noun
Noun
Number
Adjective
Food
Adjective
Number

We just went on vacation to visit Grandma and Grandpa (last name) in (name of town). We drove for (number) hours and although we were (adjective), we couldn't resist going swimming in their Endless (noun) right away. They treated us to Chicago style (food) and (food). We had lots of fun swimming, playing games, doing a puzzle, shopping, and (verb)-ing. I sang in the choir on Sunday and Dad treated us to (musical instrument) serenades. Carl scored us free tickets to the circus, where we saw (adjective) clowns and dancing horses, zebras and elephants. My favorite acts were the acrobats, and the (animal plural) that did backflips. One of the elephants painted a (noun) and Leah won it in the drawing! Then two people shot out of a human (noun) at (number) miles per hour. What a treat! On Thursday we had a (adjective) Thanksgiving dinner with lots of turkey, ham, trimmings, and tasty (food). Alas, nothing can last forever, so we packed up our (adjective) car and drove for (number) more days until we got back home to routine and responsibility.


Here's how it really went:


We just went on vacation to visit Grandma and Grandpa in Illinois. We drove for 22 hours and although we were exhausted, we couldn't resist going swimming in their Endless Pool right away. They treated us to Chicago style pizza and Portillo's hotdogs. We had lots of fun swimming, playing games, doing a puzzle, shopping, and visiting. I sang in the choir on Sunday and Dad treated us to organ and piano serenades. Carl scored us free tickets to the circus, where we saw silly clowns and dancing horses, zebras and elephants. My favorite acts were the acrobats, and the poodles that did backflips. One of the elephants painted a picture and Leah won it in the drawing! Then two people shot out of a human cannon at 65 miles per hour. What a treat! On Thursday we had a hugeThanksgiving dinner with lots of turkey, ham, trimmings, and tasty pies. Alas, nothing can last forever, so we packed up our tiny car and drove for two more days until we got back home to routine and responsibility.

Here are some photo highlights:


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This Year's Worst Toys

Ever since I had a child, I've had this non-profit group on my radar--Every year, they single out the worst toys that are on the market, meaning toys that pose a potential threat of bodily harm or even fatality. Remember lawn darts? Yeah, same idea. What's sad is that 9 out of 10 toys on this year's top ten list haven't even been recalled! How do these things get on the market anyway? Somewhere, someone had to have a serious lapse of judgement...

I admit, I didn't go through the toy bin and get rid of everything made in China, I'm not boycotting mass-produced plastic toys, nor am I switching to all wooden--a child seriously has to ingest an awful lot of paint to get sick. Don't get me wrong, I don't approve of lead paint on children's toys and I think the practice should be stopped, but I'm not in a rampage. But AquaDots? That I have a serious problem with...

Check out this years list for yourself.

Been There

I think we've visited this subject before...






Sunday, November 11, 2007

Is anybody out there?

Hello? Can you hear me now?

I like blogging. It's a fun way for me to put into words the quirky or mundane things that go on in our lives, and I don't mind sharing them with you. I even provide pretty pictures to go with them and I've added fancy lists and widgets to the panel for your reading enjoyment. This blog is for you.

Right now my blog gets between 10 and 20 hits a day, half of which are from unique users, the other half are returning for a second helping. I get closer to 30 hits on days when I put up new posts. And for the most part, I know who you are. I know where your ISP is located and what your IP address is and can track the referring link and how long you stuck around. So I know you're there...why do you insist on being invisible?

There are you lurkers out there who check my blog on a daily basis, but then leave without ever leaving a comment or signing my guestbook. You know who you are.

But I want to hear from you! I thrive only on your validation that my life is worth reading about and that it wasn't just a waste of your time to stop by for 90 seconds. I beg you to please comment on my posts...give me that validation that I so crave. Remember that I'm kind of insecure? Even if you only want to comment "Hi my name is Cindy Lou Who and I don't know you but I read your blog every day and I think you're funny" or "I love Cafe Rio, too!" is all I need in order to feel that my well-planned posts are not in vain and wasting away in a cyberspace void. Is there a certain kind of post you want me to write that will get you to comment? Do you want funny? Do you want pictures? Do you want analytical? Give me some feedback here...

I'm just aiming for even three comments per post...is that too much to ask for?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Real Deal

Cafe Rio. If you've lived in, near, or have visited Utah in the last, well, five years, I'm pretty sure you've heard good things about Cafe Rio. It's yummy!

Well, as poor students and then as new parents, we don't get to go here very often. But they serve this tasty chicken salad we just can't live without, no matter how poor. Start with a fluffy, fresh tortilla encrusted with melted cheese. Then layer lettuce, cheese, tortilla strips, your favorite veggies, and shredded seasoned chicken on top of a bed of rice and black beans, top with creamy cilantro lime dressing, pico, and guac and you have heaven on an aluminum platter.

In between our merely bi-annual visits to this local mecca, we created our own imitation salad and eat it at home on a weekly basis. Our substandard salad consists of a layer of Zatarrain's Red Beans and Rice, shredded taco-seasoned chicken, and a close second to Cafe Rio's house dressing, Seven Seas Green Goddess dressing. Add to that a pre-packaged tortilla, shredded cheese, and a bed of lettuce. It's not quite as elaborate or delicious, but it does a pretty good job of satisfying our need to experience a taste of the royalty that is Cafe Rio.

Well today we took Chris's secretary, Tiffany, to lunch so he could show his appreciation for all she does. We took her to Cafe Rio. It was time see how close our knock-off is to the real deal and identify what adjustments we need to make to get closer to perfection. Well, of course my salad was delicious, but I realized that our salad at home is nothing like the real thing...not even close. In fact, it doesn't taste anything like the real thing. I guess this is a good thing because our homemade salad is tasty and affordable and since it is such a different flavor we can still eat it at home without being disappointed that it's close but not close enough to the real thing.

The moral of the story is that we failed miserably to recreate this salad, but at the same time, we can still enjoy our homemade salad for two more years until we are again due for a visit to Cafe Rio!

Some food for thought: Here's a random blog with some copy-cat Cafe Rio recipes; here's a thorough restaurant review.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Letters from Anonymous

I've received two anonymous notes in the past week--one was from a neighbor about the placement of our bicycle and the other was directed to me as a member of the Relief Society presidency.

We've had our bicycle locked to one of the metal beams supporting our shared, covered carport. It is on the side next to another renter. Was it in the way? Was it an eyesore? Without giving the reason, we received a note on our bicycle saying "The homeowners would like me moved soon." I'd like to ask anonymous "Where do the homeowners suggest I store this bicycle?" We don't have a locking garage, we don't have a shed in the back yard, there isn't a community bike rack, and we don't exactly have a mud room. Is this request based on the season and the fact that the bicycle probably won't be ridden much until next spring? Is it based on the fact that it hasn't been ridden much in the past two months as evidenced by two flat tires? Am I allowed to resume parking my bike there next year? Or am I requested to remove it indefinitely? Was it decided in last month's HOA meeting that someone would put an anonymous note on the Fosdick's dirty bike? Or was this an individual with a strong opinion about bicycle storage? Am I going to be asked to move our garden hose next and then trim my bushes until our postage-stamp sized front yard resembles the entrance to Stepford? These are questions I'm interested in asking anonymous, and I'm willing to try to accommodate anonymous if I just knew who they were!

(Let me interject here that in my defense, the aluminum siding on the carport is dented and discolored and broken, generations of tenants have stored and abandonded bikes, basketball hoops and kid toys and scooters in the parking lot--there's a mini Jeep that has progressively turned from 1 piece, to two, and then the wheels came off and now it's in four--this is an ugly parking lot and moving our fairly decent bike did little to improve that. I don't see a note on all those trashed and abandoned objects!)

I'll spare you the details of the other letter, but am confused by the need to remain anonymous in both cases. Each person wanted something to happen, and I'm generally a fairly accommodating person when it comes to reasonable requests (Actually, the second person wanted me to bend over backwards and peel her grapes). But what if I don't have enough information? How am I supposed to know who to be seen by when I do my good deeds to society? Am I supposed to tremble in fear and paranoia because of not knowing who these people are? I better be on my best behavior in case its the next person I run into! What is the benefit of anonymity (I almost wrote animosity--coincidence?)? On the other hand, do they secretly want me to know who they are? Are they anticipating for me to analyze handwriting and compare it to outgoing mail? Or have the notes tested for fingerprints, envelopes for saliva, and the ink and paper chemically analyzed for where they were forged?

To be honest, neither letter really angered me, but I'm just baffled that people think they need to be anonymous when it comes to asking for something. Am I so intimidating that people are afraid to confront me? Do I have some mysterious reputation for biting off heads?

Next, lets consider the rules of anonymous note-writing. For example, "I love your haircut" is a nice note to get--I'd still want to know who it came from, but it wouldn't make me shifty-eyed. I think I'd leave an anonymous note to someone parked illegally if it presented a potential danger. I think if my neighbor played their music too loud, I would knock and politely ask them to turn it down. But leaving an angry anonymous note? I'm not sure there are many cases in which I would do that. What is the etiqutte? In what situations is it better to say something anonymously than to put your name on it? When would you leave an anonymous note?

I Voted!


Did you?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Terrible Twos--An Urgent Plea for Help

So I know Leah isn't quite two years old yet, but she has discovered how to be terrible. I've pulled out my hair all morning listening to her whining and keep wondering if I should choose my battles better. I need resources. I need to read 10 books and pick the parts I like of each to try. I've made a list of the topics I want my parent-help book to address: hitting, tantrums, whining, communicating effectively, picking battles, discipline, time-outs, weaning from a binky, the list goes on. And of course, I want to do it all in a loving way.

In the past 20 minutes, Leah, who had been happily playing with crayons and what's left of her coloring book, traded her canvas for the wall. Of course my rope ended hours ago, so I jumped up and scolded in my mean-mommy voice, removed the fistful of crayons from her clenched and fearful fingers and placed them on top of the refrigerator (she can't reach them but she can see them), ignoring the freely flowing tears and exaggerated pouty lip. Then I swiftly readied a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and handed it to her and walked with her to the wall where we scrubbed together. Chris, who was home for lunch, responded, "Oh, that's what you're supposed to do! I think I'm a softy..." He must not be immune to the pouty lip. Does this mean I'm great and terrible and hard? I asked him what he would have done if I hadn't been around and he replied, "I don't know, but now I do!"

This particular example is not exactly descriptive of her being terrible, just creative, but all things leading up to and following this ordeal have been, and now I'm the one that feels terrible. I did a google search for resources on dealing with the terrible twos, and although I did get a plethera of hits about two year olds (and some on how we should give two-year olds a break), I also found these dynamic duos:

I just thought these were funny. And I really needed funny today.

Anyway, if you have any resources you'd like to recommend for a mom who wants to nurture and help teach her two, who can't stand whining, and doesn't want to give in, please help!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Delicious Words

In "You've Got Mail" there's a really cute line where Kathleen Kelly describes why she likes reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. "I get lost in the language, words like 'Thither. Mischance. Felicity...'"

I'm in the process of reading the unabridged The Count of Monte Cristo and am finding it simply fantastic and indulging. It is so beatifully written and has such a descriptive vocabulary. I'm currently on page 263, which is only 17% through its over 1400 pages, but so far I've made a list of words that have made me smile as I came accross them--it's the concept of being able to use one perfectly appropriate word instead of using a complicating and less-descriptive combination of 2 or more words. Whats even more is that the author (Alexandre Dumas) uses these words, which are not obscure or obfuscating, in abstract ways and in exciting conjugations and contexts that provide an even richer meaning to the passage. I don't feel like I need to have a dictionary next to me while I read, and yet I find the writing so beautiful and rich. This is what it's like to read fantastic literature, and this is why it's a classic!

augury: an event that is experienced as indicating important things to come

physiognomy: the face or countenance, esp. when considered as an index to the character

sepulchral: suited to or suggestive of a grave or burial

munificence: liberality in bestowing gifts; extremely liberal and generous of spirit

misanthropy: hatred, dislike, or distrust of humankind

celerity: Swiftness of action or motion; speed

imeptuosity: rash impulsiveness

I'm sure I'll come across more fantastic words like these. I just wish I could keep reading all day!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Super Mummy

Alright, so three more days bought me enough time to create what my Halloween costume was supposed to be all along:

I was a mummy. Get it? A pregnant mummy? (insert groan or courtesy laugh here). Somebody actually asked me if I stuffed my shirt to look more pregnant than I really am. No, I didn't. That's me at 29 weeks. My mummy wrappings look fairly tight, but in reality, I wrapped the pants and the shirt separately and quite loosely so that I could get in and out, and was tugging my pants up all day, incredibly overheated, and constantly unravelling.

Project stats: $15 of sheets at DI (and I didn't need half of them), $5 for makeup and nail polish, 50 safety pins, a pair of sweats that were falling apart anyway, baby powder in my hair. It sounds fairly simple but took several hours to assemble.

Today I made a few observations about Halloween:


1. A lot of preparation and expense goes into a costume which no one wants to wear for longer than it takes to get a good picture. I think I'd rather be comfortable with whatever I've spent so much time creating.

2. A lot of money is spent on candy--We contributed $10 worth of candy and came home with $10 worth of different kinds of candy and probably some tooth decay and fatter thighs. What a silly reason to have a holiday!

3. I'm a sucker for candy. I just love it. All of it. This is why I usually just don't buy any. Also, the Reese's peanut butter cups are the first to disappear.

4. The funnest costumes are the ones that are original or themed. The winner of our ward's costume contest tonight was a family that all dressed up as characters from Peter Pan. The mom and the dad were Wendy and Captain Hook, the 4 year old girl was Tinkerbell and the 2 year old boy was Peter Pan.

5. Next year I'm planning ahead. Next year I'm going to be pretty and not intentionally as ugly as possible. Next year we're going to coordinate--all four of us!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Trying to understand

I'm trying to understand my toddler who doesn't seem to understand negative consequences. Please impart your wisdom in my behalf and tell me what I'm missing!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Costumed

Leah made her debut Saturday night as a cute little fairy bug thing. The costume turned out to be quite a masterpiece. I'm quite proud of my work aside from the dismay I feel at having used lining fabric and not actual satin, meaning it is practically as delicate as tissue paper and will likely snag or tear with just the wrong move or any contact with the Velcro closure at the back. By the time she wears it twice this Halloween it will probably have gotten destroyed. Figures.

Saturday was super busy with grocery shopping and costuming, and of course Chris and I were piecing together our own costumes with items from DI at the very last minute possible. The fairy wings were particularly frustrating because I didn't have the right kind of wire to make them stand up properly. They are quite droopy. (It took me three hours of attempting in vain to make them work before I decided to just accept droopy fairy wings.) The shoes are this past summer's too-small sandals covered with ribbon and a white pom-pom. The pattern called for a hood like the one on last year's monkey costume, but I ran out of time and just covered a headband with pipe cleaners and free-handed some stars I attached with a glue-gun. It seems to have worked just fine!

Total Cost: $20-30
Total Project Time: 10 hours on jumpsuit, 5 hours on accessories
Emergency trips to the craft store: 1
Number of lifeline calls: 0
Total satisfaction: 85%

Back to the costuming of the adoring parents: Chris decided he wanted to be an Emo Punk-Rocker Vampire. Don't ask me what that means because I never really could figure out what he was envisioning. He was outfitted with a tight black t-shirt, a spiked skull bracelet and skull necklace, a fake tattoo we stenciled on his bicep with a Sharpie, a ninja sword, black fingernails and eyeliner (yes, he wore eyeliner), and vampire fangs we didn't have time to put in last night. (We'll try the fangs again on Wednesday.) Here's a picture of the outrageous get-up:















Then there was my costume. I returned from errands at 4:00 only to have to finish constructing fairy wings and antennae, paint Chris's fingernails, and create a mummy costume for myself with sheets from DI that Chris willingly tore into strips. The party was at 6:00. Of course, as luck would have it, 2 hours was not enough time to do all this and make a mummy out of me, especially since this mummy has to be able to go to the bathroom every 20 minutes. At 5:30 when I could tell the mummy was not going to come together in 20 minutes time, I resorted to the bag stashed away in the back of my closet with an "S" t-shirt, tights, and a red cape. You guessed it, I was supergirl yet again for the sixth Halloween. (May I also remind that the supergirl costume was designed for a non-pregnant me and tights on a pregnant belly is very uncomfortable) Here's super-pregnant-girl:




















The party was a lot of fun and was a delicious break from the crazy Saturday we experienced. I have until Wednesday to try again with the mummy. I guess settling for a mediocre repeat costume yesterday is the price I pay for having spent so much time making sure everyone else had a fantastic costume. I should be more self-interested next time.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Evidence

Am I really SuperMom? Here is some evidence for and against my case. I'll let you be the judge.

Evidence for: I'm playing peek-a-boo with my toddler--a game that never seems to get old.
Evidence against: I'm playing peek-a-boo over the screen of the laptop as I attempt to ignore my child to write a blog post.

For: I attempt daring maneuvers such as "lidding" a sippy cup with one hand while looking another direction.
Against: I left the dishwasher and kitchen cabinets open while attempting such a ridiculous maneuver.
Against: I underestimated the splatter potential of a sippy cup full of grape juice.

For: My child repeats really cute phrases that we say.
Against: I said the wrong word when I lost control of the sippy cup.

For: I once cleaned an entire apartment using mainly Pine-sol and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers.
Against: That was 11 months ago.

For: I intuitively put my child to bed wearing fleece pj's for the first time this season mere hours before our furnace stopped working.
Against: I went to the outlet mall anyway to buy fleece pj's.

For: I'm making my child a Halloween costume for the second year in a row.
Against: I don't have time to make my child a Halloween costume and have been grumbling about the commitment the entire time.
Against: I don't have a Holloween costume for myself!

For: Given detailed instructions, I can assemble cabinets and furniture by myself.
Against: Things I assemble by myself usually tend to fall apart by themselves.

Let the judging begin....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

An explanation for baldness

At the zoo the other day, we encountered a very good explanation for baldness among monkeys, I mean Golden Lion Tamarins (who knows the difference anyway?) This is what the sign says:

Our male Golden Lion Tamarin's baldness is a sign that he is a good father. His hair loss is from transporting babies and being groomed by his family. The veterinary staff has performed a full exam on him and he is in good health. Most of his hair will grow back when he is no longer carrying around babies, but he will always be a little bald due to the grooming by the rest of the group.
We just thought this was great! Good father = baldness. I'd also like to set the record straight by clarifying that although Chris is bald, he is in excellent health. So should we anticipate that Chris's hair will grow back when all our babies are grown? I doubt it. If he had hair at all, I'm sure by then it would have turned grey from dealing with teenagers.

The Lap of Luxury

This week and last, Chris was lucky enough to have two conferences to attend for work. The first was in Layton on Thursday and Friday, and the second in Park City the following Tuesday and Wednesday. Since his office would be reimbursing us for the costs of travel and lodging and since the room costs the same amount with one person in it as with three, I took the liberty of joining him for both conferences, and we made a mini-vacation out of it, staying in northern Utah for the weekend also. We've had a lot of fun staying in nice, cushy hotels and visiting with friends. Of course, I've had to find exciting ways to entertain myself and Leah while Chris is conferencing and once hotel checkout occurs and I have hours to kill before Chris is done. But that's another story.

Our first hotel was the Hilton Garden Inn in Layton. We were pleased to find a mini-fridge and microwave, two of the softest queen beds I've ever laid my head on, wireless internet, and lots of open space in our room, not to mention the indoor pool and incredibly tempting hot-tub down the hall. Much to my dismay, the"continental breakfast" was $10--if I'd known, I would have gotten groceries the night before--but then again, we didn't have any silverware, either. It was a very nice experience, and I didn't mind living there for two days.

Now our hotel is the Sundial Lodge at the Canyons Resort in Park City. We decided to come to Park City a night early so that Leah and I wouldn't be in limbo all day Tuesday waiting for 5pm check-in, only to check out again 18 hours later. We'll have to pay for the extra night, but we decided it was a do-able cost for an entire week of vacationing in comfort. (Plus, if I had been homeless all day, I would have gone to the outlet mall and would have likely spent far more than the cost of an extra night in the hotel!) Here breakfast is $15 and wireless internet is $5 a night, but oh, is it luxurious! We again have a microwave and mini-fridge (now stocked with groceries, of course), and even dishes and silverware. But the real luxury is that we have a washer and dryer that we share with only one other room, a balcony, a double-headed shower, a jetted tub, and even heated bathroom tiles. If it were ski season, we could hop on a lift from the parking lot. What we got gypped on with the cost of slow wireless internet, we've made up for by consuming an insane amount of hot water!

But the true luxury was spending the weekend with friends John and Connie Lewis and their effervescent caboose, Mary-Celeste, who proves that it pays off to sing in the shower and that there is never a dull moment in a house with a seventeen year old girl. There we were delighted by fine dining, spacious facilities, abounding entertainment, pleasant company, and engaging conversation. We are truly grateful for their excellent hospitality at such a fantastic rate!

Alas, tomorrow afternoon we head home, where once again we will have to cook for ourselves (does EasyMac count?), clean up after ourselves, and return to the routine of productive days. Chris will once again have to do homework and attend class, I will have to answer the phone when it rings, and we can finish all those projects that were started once upon a time. Perhaps being away for a week helps us to better appreciate the prosaics of being at home.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What was I thinking?

I've been pretty busy lately. I've been trying to get my house in order, take care of myself, take care of my Leah, take care of my Chris, do my calling, revive my business, the list goes on. I was showing someone the cute pattern I used to make Leah's monkey costume last Halloween, and I remarked, "This little fairy is cute, I should just make it for her," instead of putting together a makeshift costume with items from the dollar store.

Well, thinking that is no problem. But actually buying fabric out of guilt that my child didn't have a custom-made Halloween costume was a problem. It's not that I don't know how to sew. I think I'm a fairly competent seamstress. The problem is that I don't have time to make it! The next problem is that this costume is made with satin and organza, both of which are very delicate and difficult to work with, not to mention extremely unforgiving when it comes to making mistakes. And when I said I'm a fairly competent seamstress, what I meant was that I take two steps forward and one step backward the entire time, but its because I know how to fix mistakes and I want to do it right. I should just throw in some seersucker to make it more interesting, right?

Anyway, so I've been super busy trying to get things done and also to prepare for a mini vacation we started yesterday, which means that I had three days before our vacation to start, and will have one week afterward to finish, working mainly during mid-afternoon naptime and after Leah has gone to bed. I knew if I didn't start before we left, I wouldn't have time to do it all afterward. I've gotten the main body put together, with the next step being gathering the cap sleeves...the organza sleeves. Did I mention that I hate sewing with organza? So far, about every hour when I look at the fraying satin or ahead at the pattern and dread easing organza sleeves, and then attaching sequin trim to home-made fairy wings, I think to myself, "What was I possibly thinking when I impulsively decided to start this project? What have I gotten myself into?"

The whole point is that I know I'll do it (even if it takes all night the night before we go to a costume party), and by nature, I know that I have to do it right or I will never be satisfied with my work. The trick is to just take it one step at a time and not get overwhelmed with what lies ahead. What was I thinking?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Chris, the Jump King

Here's Chris pretending to be Spider-Man. He said it was just awesome, but was constantly worried about seeing his navajo taco again.
video

Saturday, October 13, 2007

There's always a first for everything...

My mother despises everything about shopping: fighting mall traffic, walking around on tired feet searching, wasting an entire afternoon, and then ultimately handing over the Visa card. I like shopping, something I must not have inherited from her. I like browsing. I like trying things on (granted I'm not shopping with a two-year old). I like being impulsive. I like that I usually only go shopping when I know what I'm looking for and know how much I can afford to spend on it.

With that said, it is usually a frustrating experience for me to find pants that fit me right, particularly jeans. I'm tall (and prefer not to be high-water) and don't like super tight stretchy denim that shrinks around the leg or doesn't keep me covered at the waist. I know, picky, picky me. I've usually had good luck finding jeans at Old Navy. But then I had Leah and never found the right size of anything for the year and a half that my maternity clothes were stashed away in storage. Usually, I don't have a problem shopping for anything else.

(Side note: I just discovered buying kid's clothes at Shopko--they have really cute coordinating tops and bottoms at good prices and they always ring up sale!)

I had a very strange experience this past week. I went shopping (sans toddler, mind you) with a definite vision: shoes for myself and Leah and comfortable non-work maternity pants (since last time I was pregnant I was working and had to look nice every day). I determinedly walked into the mall and straight into Payless. I found Leah's shoes right away. I spent a total of 10 minutes and $40 in Motherhood Maternity and came out with a pair of jeans and a pair of black yoga pants, both of which I needed only try on once before knowing they were the perfect fit. It was so nice to try on pants that were actually comfortable! (The jeans even have pockets!--a rarity for maternity pants, don't ask me why...) Never before have I purchased the first pair of jeans I tried on--this was just too easy!

So now I'm back at Payless to find comfortable shoes that match my new pants. Never before that moment had I stood and stared at a wall of shoes and felt completely at a loss. I didn't know exactly what I wanted, but I knew exactly what I didn't want. I didn't want any of the shoes I was looking at. Sure, there were some pretty nice shoes. Stuff that's really in style nowadays just isn't my style (does that mean my style is out of date?). I don't want the kind with a flower on the toe, I don't want heels, I don't want those goofy-looking Airwalk clog shoes people wear interchangeably with and without socks, and I don't want tennis shoes with someone's signature on the side, either. I just want comfortable shoes I can wear with black pants or jeans on days when I don't want to wear flip-flops or Doc Martens. I have no idea what I want. Is it allowed to wear white tennis shoes with black pants? I don't even know! Anyway, I came out empty handed (empty footed? I mean, I was wearing the shoes I came in with...). What a disappointment! This has never happened to me before! Is this why my mom hates shopping?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Scratching Scrabble

One of the exciting wedding presents we got (nearly 5 years ago, too) is the game Scrabble. Throughout three years of pre-parenthood, we played a lot of board games, including Monopoly (we even invented Extreme Monopoly), Settlers, endless rounds of Uno, etc. But for some reason, we could never get into Scrabble.

Every time we'd sit down to play, we'd take 5-minute turns trying to make words from our seven tiles, sounding out ways to pronounce invented words and making up their definitions, only to ultimately place on the board three and four letter words. Of course, this made it even harder to keep playing with so many limited options for placement of new words. We'd usually play for about 9 or 10 turns, (totalling 15-20 minutes) and then decide to put the game away and do something else.

Well, we dusted off the old scrabble box this past week to give it another try, thinking that maybe with a couple more years' experience under our belts, we would now be seven-letter champions. Um....Not quite. We're still just as awful at Scrabble, if not worse. We had a movie playing in the background to dispel the boredom we knew would occur during endless turn-waiting. Then commenced the three and four letter vocabulary (with occasional five-letter words). Jut. Gait. Widow. One of us was actually trying to extend words long enough to actually reach the bonus squares, but for the most part, our words scored in the mere single-digits.

We had the laptop handy to look up definitions for letter combinations we would try to pass as words. "Look up gweab. Is that a word?" "If I can make up a definition for floisty, can I put that one down?" We started swapping letters with each other. "You have a D? I'll give you a U?" Then we each revealed our trays and attempted to combine our 14 cumulative letters to make words that fit into the minimal spaces available on the board. Then the inevitable question "You wanna just do something else?" We lasted maybe 45 minutes max.

It was a real, concerted effort to play Scrabble, and once again it failed.

I think Scrabble is just not for us.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

In defense of Sister Beck

As a blogger, and one who reads other blogs, I've come across a lot of strong resentment (here and here) toward Sister Beck's General Conference address in the Sunday morning session. Listen to the talk here. Many found it discouraging, guilt-inducing, and some found it downright offensive. They criticize her choice of words and discredit her address based on her being the freshman Relief Society President. I'm writing in defense of Sister Beck--I think she was grossly misunderstood by those critics. I'm always one who strives to sustain the leaders of the church, and I've taken a concerned and heartfelt approach to listen and ponder her address to the women of the world from her perspective as the General Relief Society President.

Sister Beck spoke about the need to be women--mothers--who know, meaning women who know to keep the commandments of God and walk uprightly before him. She identified that the challenges children will wrestle against in this world are "principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness in high places." Mothers who know who they are, who God is, and have made covenants with him are armed with the knowledge, power, and influence to bring up a righteous generation of children.

Mothers who know (1)honor sacred covenants, (2)are nurturers, (meaning they cultivate, care for, and make grow) by creating a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in their homes, (3)are leaders in equal partnership with their husbands, (4)are selective in their activities and involvement to conserve limited strength to spend more time with their children, (5) are always teachers, and (6) permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally.

Sister Beck encouraged the practices of teaching the gospel in the home to point children toward righteous eternal goals such as temple marriage, and working together with children in homemaking tasks to teach and model emulable qualities. She didn't say to sweep and groom and wash and keep a perfect house. She didn't say we had to be perfect at housekeeping, but that growth happens best in a house of order (See Elder Oak's talk about good, better and best!) She didn't say our homes have to be as clean as the temple, but that we can pattern our homes after the Lord's house by applying the principles of organization, patience, love, and work.

Ultimately her message was not to discourage, but to encourage mothers in their role as the most powerful and influential in the lives of their children, and that by nature of knowing who we are and what our role is, LDS women would be the best in the world at homemaking (meaning nurturing children). "LDS women should excel in upholding, nourishing, and protecting families. Let us come to be known as mothers who knew." Prophets have taught on the role and value of motherhood, and have called upon us to teach our children in the ways of truth. This is nothing new. What is the problem?

I'm not offended by her address at all--in fact I'm relieved to hear this said. And I think her wording was careful and inspired. It is so true that the challenges facing our children are greater and uglier than ever before, and women need to know the expectation the Lord has for them. It is not a guilt-trip because your house isn't clean enough or you don't spend enough time and energy with your children. The encouragement to know the gospel and create a conducive home for gospel-teaching is equivalent to anyone else's address encouraging us to be better at bearing one anothers burdens or attending the temple or paying tithing or having more faith.

What is wrong with the counsel to be selective in our activities and involvment so that we have more energy to spend time nurturing children? It compels (not guilt-induces) me to spend less time on self-interested, energy-sapping things (perhaps I spend too much time on the computer...) and more time nurturing my daughter (not to indicate that that isn't energy-sapping in and of itself...) What is wrong with the counsel not to succumb to social pressure and worldly models of parenting (which I conclude means modeling behaviors not consistent with gospel teaching)? What is wrong with the counsel to permit less of those things that do not bear good fruit eternally?

I find it ultimately encouraging that "LDS women who love the Lord and bear testimony of Him and are strong and immovable will prepare a righteous generation of sons and daughters." This doesn't bother me because I think I'm one of those women who knows. Motherhood is powerful and influential--shouldn't that empower us as those who already understand the value of children and motherhood? She may not have directly said it in her talk, but we are already armed with the tools to bring up children in righteousness; we are already on the right track; we are already doing a good job because we are mothers who know!