Sunday, November 28, 2010

16 Weeks plus Thanksgiving Dinner


Here is that standard side-shot of the pregnancy-in-process. I was very full after having just eaten Thanksgiving and its fixings, therefore it was a very good opportunity for the obligatory photo. Before you comment on whether or not you think I'm skinny for 16 weeks, please see the rules.

We had a superb time with the Swensons of Las Vegas for the Thanksgiving weekend, and all 6 children ages 5 and under got along famously. The little 2 year olds were especially cute admiring Ben, who is only 2 months old; the 4 and 5 year olds mastered the art of imaginative play famously. The adults were fully occupied by keeping all the little ones fed and clean (and making sure all the bleeds had band-aids), followed by keeping the kitchen clean, and discovered that engineering ginger bread houses is best left to engineers. There is hardly the need to leave the house much when there are more little kids than adults.

Liz showed me how possible it is to be a mom of twice as many kids as arms and to keep a house organized all without losing your mind, and I think it all comes down to that iPod touch...

We are especially grateful for good friends; For the option to simply sit around and swap stories; to laugh at ourselves and analyze family dynamics, figuring out why everyone needs therapy and how we will mess up our own kids and ensure them a spot in therapy, too; For good friends who have to like you even though they know all the dirt there is to know about you. And now our kids have no choice but to like each other by nature of being 4th generation friends. Isn't that great?


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Criteria

It's kind of like a quiz. To see what baby names you can come up with that fit my criteria.

1. Traditional but not too popular. And not made up. And it has to be spelled normally, like you could find it on a license plate keychain.

2. Our first two have biblical names that are two syllables. That works, but is not a requirement. Obviously we are not doing the same first initial for everyone; that's not my style.

3. It has to work with our last name and our other kids names. I've had perfect strangers advise me not to name any of our children Richard. I think I'm smart enough to know that. And I'm even going to make sure their initials don't spell something weird.

4. It has to be gender specific. That rules out Taylor and Jordan (and many others).

5. And I have to like it. So even though the name Jared fits the criteria, it makes me think of the Subway guy.

Everyone has a right to name their kid whatever they want, so of course I don't intend to offend anyone. These are my personal preferences for my kids.

Can you think of baby names that fit these criteria? Hopefully you will think of some that I haven't thought of yet. And vote on the sidebar on what you think it will be, a boy or a girl. We will probably find out the baby's gender some time after Christmas.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Pregnancy Rules

Three simple rules. That's all.

1. Prego is an Italian word meaning "I pray" and is used in response to "thank you." It is also a popular and very tasty brand of pasta sause. Please don't use this word to describe me.

2. Please don't tell me "You're so small!" It seems about the same as saying "You're huge!" Likewise, "You do not look __(number between 12 and 40)__ weeks!" seems just as pointless. Why do people feel the need to comment on the size of your middle, small or big? I'm putting in my time and feel as pregnant as I am supposed to.

On the other hand, if you feel that you absolutely must comment on how a pregnant woman looks, "You look terrific!" is always nice to hear, whether or not it is true.

3. Horror Stories. Yeah, I know my fair share of pregnancy, delivery, and misscarriage horror stories. There is a time and a place for swapping stories of this type, but please not in front of me while I'm pregnant.

I feel like pukeing constantly and I have never felt more tired in my life. Soon I will be comiserating about sciatic nerve pain, eventually about kicks to the kidneys and my hips being sore from sleeping, and having to pee every 20 minutes. And the reflux. There are more things that I have blissfully forgotten that will soon come back to memory with fondness. I'm not complaining, I'm just telling you so that you don't have to ask me how I'm feeling unless you really want to know.

If you are itching for a way to help me out, I'd be happy to lend you my first two children so that I can take a nap, provided that they are returned with Cafe Rio take out (hold the cilantro) and that Samuel comes back potty trained. There is also a mop in my closet that could use a pass on my kitchen floor, because I'm really not in the mood for mopping right now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The oven and the baker

My Halloween costume this year was the way I announced my pregnancy to our ward. Some people didn't get it. They'll figure it out eventually.

Here we are:

365 days to decide

Ever since (before) last Halloween, Leah has been periodically announcing what she wants to be for the next Halloween. Here is a not quite comprehensive list of the past year.

Jessie (again)
A dog
Ariel
Tinkerbell
A fairy
Snow White
The Incredibles family
Mickey Mouse
Dad
Cinderella
A pumpkin
...and lots more I didn't write down.

On October 1, I asked for a final answer so I could make her a costume. I asked her every day after that to make sure she still wanted to be that thing. And here we are: My little pink Unicorn!

Coming soon... Samuel the (nice) bat, and Jenny's oven.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

F0sdick Industries
Provo, UT

October 17, 2010--Fosdick Industries, dormant since 2008, announce that developments for Product C are currently underway. At this early stage of product development, it is unknown whether the newest product will be packaged in pink or blue. Jenny Fosdick, CFO and Architect of Product C is hoping to diversify the portfolio with an unprecedented tow-top this time around, and possibly pink packaging.

Products A and B have expressed opinions about the name for the newest development; among the contenders are “Tree” and “Charlie Brown.” The board, which meets in Provo, UT, is currently accepting additional nominations.

Fosdick Industries introduced their first prototype in 2005(pink), followed closely by the second in 2008(blue). Product A has shown progress in literacy and counting. Product B has yet to master waste management procedures. Critics are hoping that with such a lapse in product deliveries, perhaps the newest model will sport more advanced features than previous models.

At only 10 weeks into the project, the Architect has been displeased by data input rejection, however development associates assure that this is normal and good and will not hinder product development. Current development needs include lots of substance input in the form of carbohydrates and chocolate, as well as lots of rest.

Research and development teams anticipate that 1 prototype will be completed in May of 2011.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Happenings



Chris is studying for a major certification exam, so we haven't seen much of him lately. Poor guy--he is so stressed. Come Saturday evening, he will only have to worry about finishing his last semester of grad school instead (haha).

Leah is loving preschool and having fun with her little friends. She is so creative and imaginative, and always a problem solver.




Samuel is almost a big boy (except he insists on wearing diapers). He is such a sweet little guy, knows all his letters, loves to be read to, and has been really cuddly (love it!).




I'm busy with work and the kids. We have been going to story time at the library every week, and it has been a lot of fun for the kids. I am enjoying working with the Young Women of our ward. Its amazing how quickly fall snuck up on us! I am loving the cooler weather, but I haven't started on Halloween costumes! I better get on that... That's about it for us! I feel like I'm forgetting something...

Monday, October 04, 2010

If you're tired and you know it




7:00PM
This is what happens when Samuel doesn't take an afternoon nap. He managed to fall asleep despite the current conversation about icing gingersnaps with chocolate so that we could eat them for dessert.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jumbo Zucchini

Jumbo zucchini, a plethora of peppers, one lonely stalk of broccoli, and a single gnarled carrot.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bread

Some facts:

  • Within 72 hours of milling wheat, 90% of its nutritional value has dissipated.

  • All-purpose white flour has to have vitamins replaced which were removed in the milling process. Only the endosperm remains in white flour, while essential nutrients, oils, and fiber is found in the bran and germ.

  • Any "whole wheat flour" you purchase at the store is missing lots of the nutritional value of freshly-milled-today whole wheat flour.

  • When you buy something that is marketed as "whole wheat bread" chances are you are eating enriched white flour, and that it has carmel color added to make it darker colored (to trick you!) and of course, it has high fructose corn syrup in it. If you want true (store bought) whole wheat bread, the first ingredient should be "Stone ground whole wheat flour."

(source: http://www.healthbanquet.com/fresh-milled-flour.html)

Ok, so since I've recently decided to be uber picky about the bread I buy and eat and feed my family, I've discovered that there is no bread on the market (that I can afford) that meets my expectations. Hence, I have decided to make my own bread. Secondly, since I have decided that there is no wheat flour on the market that meets my expectations, I have also decided to mill my own wheat berries.

I have a great recipe (thanks to Aunt Sue for lending me Pantry Secrets, which you can make in just 1 hour!) and today I bought a grain mill (ok, the hand crank kind, but it's what I could afford for now...) I just baked my first loaves of fresh-milled whole wheat bread and they are beautiful and delicious. This bread is better tasting, has way more nutritional value and is therefore better for our bodies (I am a huge advocate of fiber!!!), and is infinetly cheaper than store bought bread.

(Ok, I confess that the milling was kind of a workout. It took me 20 minutes to grind enough flour for these two loaves, so I will definately be investing in a NutriMill in the near future, but for now Chris will do the milling for me, but not even a day in advance, mind you).

Ingredients: Freshly milled whole wheat flour, Sugar, Salt, Yeast, Soy Lecithin, Water. That's it!

I am hooked, and I feel so liberated!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

A Rant on Luxuries and Necessities

Well. We crunched the numbers and realized that we were spending too much money. Thus, we decided that since Samuel has allergies, is still wearing diapers, and eats more than his older sister, and thus costs more to maintain, he would be the one to go.

Just kidding.

Actually, we decided to have a budget and stick to it. We figured that was a more permanent solution to our predicament than getting rid of one of the kids.

Here's what we did. You have to budget for things that only happen once or twice a year, so if you are going to have to register your cars for $350 once a year, then you have to put away 1/12th of that ($30)every month, same with clothing, car maintenance, etc. So then we totaled up our monthly expenses for our tithing, mortgage, household expenses, insurance, utilities, car maintenance, entertainment, personal spending, clothing, etc, and whatever was left would be our grocery budget. Oh, yeah, and that's while paying down those credit cards and trying to put a little away in savings while we're at it!

Well folks, magic number is $290/month. Does it sound that hard to feed a family of four on $290/month? It doesn't sound that bad. But looking over our expenses for 2010 thus far, we had been spending and average of $600/month on groceries. So, does it sound so hard to cut your food budget in half? Yes! That is a major change of lifestyle for us. I guess we just like to eat.


But what are necessities? Is dishwasher soap a necessity for people of my generation? Or do we have the patience to wash dishes by hand if need be? Do you have the determination to make powdered milk and homemade bread? What do you break your budget for that you absolutely cannot live without?

I'll answer that. Dish soap, homemade bread, powdered milk I can handle. But I've already learned that diapers must be in the budget because I cannot live without those (I mean, I can't live with Samuel without those, and we've already decided to keep him.) And WiFi. I don't think I can live without that. What about you?

So here we are. Buying potatoes because they are dirt cheap, foregoing the $2.50 box of fruit snacks because that's a lot for processed sugar(!), finding ways to put zucchini in everything because they keep appearing in my backyard garden (okay, I know I planted them there, but there are just so many...), and the list goes on. I find myself keeping track of how much money I have left while I'm grocery shopping, and I'm asking myself, do I want to spent $4 on a can of french fried onions, or do I want to buy toilet paper?

To live on $290 a month, we absolutely had to make a dinner menu. I got the basic breakfast foods and lunchy type things, but planning out our dinners and getting only those ingredients made a huge difference on how much I spent at the grocery store. Plus, I am more organized each night at dinner time because I know what I'm making, and we have lots of leftovers (hence, I also planned a leftovers night!) My latest victory is that I finally mustered up the guts to price match at Walmart and probably saved $15 on 2-week's menu. Way to go me!

So, that's what's been on my mind lately. End of rant.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Daredevil Kids

video

This is us swimming in Washington after 14 hours in the car. Samuel goes under water with his mouth and eyes open and comes out smiling every time. That kid has no fear, which worries me.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A New Skill

How do you teach a four-year old how to jump rope? I'm not sure. I just had her watch me jump rope and she practiced and figured it out in a day!

Here are my little show-offs for your viewing enjoyment:


video

Explanation: Samuel is wearing underpants during our 3-day attempt at potty training.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lots of driving, a hierarchy of needs, and a farewell

We ventured out to Seattle, WA last week to bid bon voyage to Chris's mom Pearly who is moving to Turkey for a two year job assignment.

After 14 hours in the car, driving straight though the night with our Honda Civic packed to the max with people and stuff, here is what we did first:

-visit with Mom and eat lunch
-go swim suit shopping,
-then take naps.

I hadn't realized that we would be in a hotel with a pool, so of course didn't have my suit. (I needed a new one anyway, I just didn't expect to be swim-suit shopping tired and cranky and in 24 hours of grunge and body odor, with two tired and cranky children.) For the record, Samuel is a little swimming-pool daredevil and is not afraid to go under. And he always comes up smiling. He would jump right in to the deep end if I didn't stop him.

Anyway, it was nice to sleep and swim in the pool, but the best part was spending time with Lola and getting in some quality Lola-grandkids time! She spoiled us with buffets and toys and gadgets that she is leaving behind in the states. We also celebrated Chris's 31st birthday. You will notice in these pictures that my kids are always tired; we really ran them to the ground in order to get the most out of every day!
Additionally, we brought her van back to Utah with us for our family to use while she is away! That meant driving two cars home, which is 36 hours I don't care to remember (except there are 5 pounds stuck to my gut that won't let me forget). We had to stop at a mall and buy books on CD to keep us each awake in our separate cars.

We are glad we were able to visit Lola one more time before she ships out. We will miss being near her, and I know she is making a lot of sacrifices to leave the states, her home, her friends and family, her job, but it is such the right place for her right now. We will miss you, but we are so happy for you, Mom!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Fruits Vegetables of my Labors, and my 300th post

Happy 300th post!

I've been working on a garden since March. I am kind of lazy though, and mostly garden in my pajamas when it is convenient (aka not 100 degrees outside), and rarely pull weeds. As a result, my strawberries are really sad, and my cabbage was eaten by slugs and has now rotten. On the up side, my corn will be plentiful soon, my carrots are growing, and my two surviving tomato plants look promising. And I have lots that I am already picking! I have pulled one onion, 1 beautiful head of lettuce (which I am going to serve for dinner tonight), perfect green onions, lots of plump zucchini, and hoards of jalapenos. What am I going to do with jalapenos?

One thing is for sure: when my work lab needs 60 pounds of zucchini this fall, I will be providing most of it from my back yard!!!



Coming soon: details of our latest adventures, trips, and birthdays!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

High Fructose Corn Syrup Inventory

When I took a nutrition class at BYU about 6 years ago, I learned that most "wheat bread" is really not made with wheat flour; it's enriched white flour, with carmel coloring added to make it look darker. It didn't really have a whole lot of nutritional value. At that point in time, I resolved to only purchase bread which listed as the first ingredient "whole wheat flour." I have done this very successfully. I have been a careful consumer, and although we have paid more per loaf of bread, the result is more than just peace of mind. True whole wheat bread has better fiber and protein content. We are a very fiber-conscious household, and if we can get more than 4 grams of fiber per slice/serving of bread, bagel, tortilla, or pasta we feel like we've found the nutrition jackpot--this usually means anything that is designated as "whole wheat" or "whole grain."

Well, it's time to find a new loaf of bread again.

I have recently resolved to eliminate High Fructose Corn Syrup from my diet. It is an unneccessary sweetener in so many of our regular groceries, it almost makes me sick. If we consumers change the way we shop, the food industry will hear us. That is how we can make a change.

Take for example rbST. If you look on your milk carton, I guarantee you that it says "Made from cows not treated with the artificial growth hormone rBST." Ask my brother, and he'll tell you that artificial growth hormones as a principle are not bad, but the point is that consumers changed the industry overnight. When a large body of consumers changes the way it shops, the industry changes in response.

So with that said, I am changing the way I shop, and we are changing the way we eat. I've been the primary grocery-shopper for my household for 7 1/2 years (and for the last year and a half, I have also been a paid grocery shopper by trade), and I have come to rely on some favorite brands. Here is a list of all of our favorite, regular foods in my house that I now intend to replace with their non-HFCS sweetened couterparts. Well it is all about to change. And this is going to be painful.
  • Sara Lee Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread
  • Yoplait Yogurt
  • Smucker's Strawberry Jam
  • Sweet Baby Ray's Barbeque Sauce
  • Kraft Barbeque Sauce (all varieties)
  • Heinz Worchestershire Sauce
  • Hunt's Ketchup
  • Wishbone Italian Salad Dressing
  • Slim-Fast
  • Mountain Dew (and all other sodas)
  • Keebler Fudge-Stripe Cookies
  • Mr. Yoshida's Original Gourmet Sauce
  • Keebler Club Crackers
  • Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies
  • Hershey's Chocolate Syrup
  • Applesauce, most brads (unless it says "All Natural")
  • Frosted Flakes Cereal
This list only represents the things I currently have in my house and intend to replace as soon as present stores are depleted. Few of our suspected-guilty favorites made the HFCS-free cut, including Cheerios, Peanut Butter, Bulls Eye Barbeque Sauce, Life Cereal, Quaker High-Fiber Oatmeal, Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce, Hunt's Tomato Sauce, Campbell's canned soups, etc.

While it might be hard to enjoy foods sweetened naturally instead of with HFCS, it is all a matter of conditioning. If you are conditioned to the taste of super-sweet applesauce, naturally sweetened applesauce will be hard to adjust to (hard to "swallow" if you will). That's why we're switching. I don't want to be accustomed to unnaturally sweetened products anymore. I want my children to appreciate the tast of applesauce for what it is: apples.

Once we've conquered HFCS, our next battle might be switching to free-range chicken, or grass-fed cows, but I can't wrap my brain around them all at once.

Here are some resources (from both sides of the debate) to educate yourself before you jump down my throat. I don't like debating, I just know what irks me, and HFCS irks me.

The movie that started it all: Food, Inc.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/03/25/corn.syrup.sugar/index.html
http://www.labelwatch.com/addinfo.php?aid=456;
http://www.sweetsurprise.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-fructose_corn_syrup
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-fructose-corn-syrup/AN01588
A list of HFCS-free foods: http://www.stophfcs.com/list.html
http://www.ehow.com/list_5851584_list-high-fructose-corn-syrup.html

I welcome your input on your favorite HFCS-free brands.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

I earned my title today, thank you very much

For a self-proclaimed "supermom," I don't have that many days that demonstrate my supermom-ness. Except for maybe today.

Today I....
  • Gave the kids baths
  • Cleaned up vomit several times (which is why they got baths)
  • Camped in a tent in the back yard with the kids
  • Swept and mopped the kitchen and hallway
  • Scrubbed and bleached all the garbage cans in the house
  • Cleaned the kitchen counters and ran the dishwasher twice
  • Washed and put away more than four loads of laundry.
  • Organized our bedroom closet, picking out the things to go to DI (and those blue capris that I thought were goners actually fit me instead!)
  • Rounded up all the winter gloves and hats and scarves and put them in their own bin. (Okay, I know it's July....)
  • Got out the sewing machine and did all the mending that has been on my to-mend list forever, including make Leah a pair of cut-offs (and with a double needle, ooh, la, la!)
  • Made cookies (with two preschoolers helping, mind you)
  • Cleaned up after the cookies
  • Had a steak and potato dinner ready when my husband came home at 6:00

Okay, so I guess if I delivered the cookies to my visiting teachees with a hand made card, I would get a few more points. I did pull one weed tyring to find the garden hose, but theres a lot more I didn't pull. And Samuel is still not potty trained....

Wait, I'm trying to make my case for Supermom.

Well, the night is young, maybe I'll still manage to get to the gym!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Vacation Part 5: Everything Else

Here are some of the other fun things we did on our trip to Illinois. Our other adventures included canoeing with Grandma and Grandpa, visiting the DuPage Children's Museum with the cousins, going to the Naperville Municipal Band concert in the park (every Thursday night!) and Jessica and Leah playing together famously at every turn.











Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Vacation Part 4: Project!!

What happens when you put two ambitious women in the same house for 2 weeks, one with a stylistic vision and the other with a credit card, and nothing to do but watch and entertain a bunch of little kids?


Redecorate the bathroom and hall!


The project consisted of stripping the wallpaper, scrubbing the paste off, spackling, sanding the spackle, masking the woodwork, painting the walls (3 colors) and the ceiling, selecting and installing a mirror, light fixtures, switchplates, drawer pulls, and lastly cleanup.


Total Cost: $250
Time: 4 days
Trips to the hardware store: 5


Mom trusted my vision of what would be a good look for the bathroom, took the leap of faith on some new, vibrant colors, and on painting the oak bathroom cabinet, and it turned out great!





BEFORE
(circa 1995)

Hall...


















Bathroom....


























AFTER

Hall...




















Bathroom...