Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Extravaganza

We spent Thanksgiving with my side of the family this year. We had dinner at my sister London's house. She set a beautiful table. Each of us brought a couple items; I was in charge of mashed potatoes, and pies (I made pumpkin and caramel pecan with homemade whipping cream to top them off). Everything was super yummy and from scratch. Palmer tried his first bites of pureed turkey. It was not a hit. He did however enjoy his pureed sweet potatoes and green beans.

Friday morning my sisters and I woke at 3:30 am to hit the sales. It is a tradition that we go together every year. We love the thrill of the sales, the crowds and the all around madness. This year was by far my most successful. We made great time and were done by noon, with a breakfast break at Village Inn in the mix. I got everything I set out to get, including a killer deal on a big screen LCD TV (thanks to my pushy sister who insisted to all the customers that the line started behind us... and yes, we were those three crazy woman dancing and screaming in line at Sears, at 5:00 am, when the cashier informed us we were getting the last TV in stock). Greg and I are forgoing gifts this year and instead buying a nice big television to play with as a family. We had planned to wait until Christmas to get it out, but by the time I got home from shopping Greg had already set it all up; he was too excited. I must admit I didn't mind too much, and it has been thoroughly enjoyed since. We gave Palmer his gift early too, so it might be a bit of a let down Christmas morning this year. We'll just have to savor those stocking gifts, I guess.

One downer about the holiday was that I had the stomach flu. I made it through the dinner and the shopping, but only because I was pretty determined not to miss out on the fun. I am finally feeling better. However, I don't know how long it'll be before I can look at Thanksgiving food again and not get queasy. It was worth it though... nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Behind the Times

Yesterday I realized it had been over a week since I had bathed Palmer. Yikes! It doesn't matter how many to do lists I make, how early I awake or how late I stay up, I never seem to be be able to keep up with everything. Here are some other things I never seem to find the time for:
  1. Laundry. I never get to laundry until I am left with absolutely nothing to wear, and even then it only gets washed. Each weekend I end up with about five loads in the laundry room that I need to fold.
  2. Vacuuming and Dusting. Our home is basically picked up and straightened, but we never seem to get around to the deep cleaning. Just don't look too closely at the baseboards.
  3. The Yard. Our yard has been a nightmare since the day we bought the house. I am so overwhelmed by it; I don't even know where to begin! The front lawn in choppy and the back yard is an absolute jungle. Based on the exterior of our home, we are the white trash family in our neighborhood.
  4. Dejunking. Since we purchased the house from my Dad, we inherited a whole lot of my parents' odds and ends. The attic, the garage and the backroom are full of my parents' unwanted belongings.
  5. Exercising. I have a newfound passion for working out now that I have a free gym membership from my job and with that an hour of free daycare a day. I love having the break to do something for myself, and I plan to go everyday I am not working (I don't think Palmer could handle another hour in the day care on the days I do work), yet, sadly, I only seem to make it about once a week.
  6. The Mail. We are notorious for not getting our mail. I'm sure the mailman mutters profanities under his breath each time he opens our stuffed to the brim mailbox.
  7. Visiting Teaching. Once again it is the end of the month and I have not done my visiting teaching. I guess a phone call will have to do it this time.
  8. Shopping. For those of you who knew me in my single life years, this one is a shocker! I love shopping, but between naps and feedings it is just too hard to make it to the store for anything other than the bare essentials. Thankfully, Greg is taking the day after Thanksgiving off from work so that he can watch Palmer while I go shopping; I am so excited!
  9. Writing and Reading. I'm glad I am participating in the book group, otherwise I would never finish a novel. Even so, I start the book for the group the day after it is decided upon and finish the day of the discussion. The time before last, I didn't even finish it. What a shameful admission from an English major! As for writing, I am trying to find the time to redevelop my previous passion. I even started writing a book, a lifetime goal of mine, but am not getting very far because by the time I really get into the flow of it, Palmer awakes from his nap.
  10. And apparently, bathing my son. At least I bathe myself, right? I'm pretty sure if it had been me lacking a dip in the tub, I, as well as many others, would have realized it before a week's time.
After listing all these things I am behind on, I think maybe I should not have spent the last hour reading blogs and posting. Oh well. I guess I can add blogging to the list of things I keep up on. I'll have to make one of those lists soon; might as well look on the positive side, right?

Bangs

I've been feeling a bit blah lately, so I changed things up by getting a new haircut: bangs and layers. My sister, Sariah, cut it and I am really liking it. She always does such a great job. It adds a little body to my post pregnancy thining hair. Now if I can just get a dye job, a brow wax, some new clothes, a decent nursing bra, and perhaps a Louis Vuitton purse, and some Jimmy Choo shoes, I will be good to go!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Good Luck Charm

We don't need a rabbit's foot or a lucky penny in our home. Even better, our family has been gifted with a nice bald head to rub, and as a bonus this bald head isn't on a grumpy malodorous old man, but on a cheerful, sweet smelling, and oh so soft baby. Even Palmer enjoys his hairless do and is often rubbing it, patting it, caressing it and grabbing at it. He does this when he's happy, sad, angry, nursing, tired, and playing. In fact, a couple months ago he gave himself a bit of a rash from scratching at the back of his head so much.

I was bald until I was two, and we think Palmer might follow suit. Lately though, we have, to our dismay, noticed a little more hair growth atop his head. It is thin and extremely light in color, so it's not too obvious, but it's still sad to see him move on from the hairless state by which he is so well known. Oh well, I guess all things must eventually come to an end. His baldness is super cute now, but I suppose if it continued in such a manner, with his light complexion, he might end up looking like Powder. I suppose we will just have to enjoy it while it lasts and sap up all the good luck possible from our bald headed babe whom we love so very much.

Busy Busy

We have been busy with lots of plans and lots of fun in the Hess home.

Friday night we went out with some friends in the ward, the Crowfords and the Hursts to celebrate Gary Hursts' birthday. We went to a restaurant in Bountiful called Mandarin. It honestly was the best Chinese food I have ever had! The company was great to; we had a blast. I made Brownie Goody Bars for Gary. They are his favorite and we, of course, enjoyed snacking on the few that didn't fit on the plate we gave him.

Saturday during the day we saw Twilight. An old coworker and her son offered to watch Palmer. We had them over for lunch before we left for the movie as a thank you. We had Papa Murphy's pizza and what Greg calls a pregnancy salad (this time it included spinach leaves, cottage cheese, bacon, craisens, pecans and raspberry vinigrette). It's called pregnancy salad in our home because I always craved green salads with fruit when I was pregnant. At least once a week Greg came home to a big macked out salad for dinner which contained one or all of the following: mandarin oranges, craisens, strawberries, and/or raspberries.

Saturday evening we visited our friends the Jennes in Orem to see their new baby girl, Madelyn. She is adorable! So sweet and so tiny. She's pretty mellow and likes to sleep. I think she looks like her momma. I held the baby and chatted with Jenn while Greg and Jake played the Wii (as always).

Sunday we went to church. Palmer only fussed for a very short time, which was great because we were able to enjoy the lessons. We had a wonderful lesson based on President Uchtdorf's talk "The Infinite Power of Hope". I remembered being inspired by the talk during conference. Upon revisiting it, I was once again uplifted. During the closing prayer all the sisters in our Relief Society held hands. It was a nice moment; I truly love all my friends in our ward. They are wonderful women, and I am so very blessed to have them in my life.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mormons (and Vampires) Stay Together Forever

So I, along with every other LDS woman, am a fan of the Twilight series. Greg and I saw the a matinee of the movie yesterday. I had been warned by a few people that the movie was low budget and the special effects were a bit cheesy, so I went with low expectations since I really wanted to enjoy it. Even with being prepared, I was a little disappointed. I think the majority of the characters, as well as the actual relationship between Edward and Bella, was not well developed. I did think the actors did a good job with a script that was lacking. Greg also thought it was only okay. I think I just might have to go back and read the first book again to rekindle my love of Edward and the whole clan.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Read It, Saw It, Loved It

Our book group read The Secret Life of Bees this month. I've been wanting to read it for a long time and I'm glad I finally had a reason to do so. I have to say, I just loved it! It is a touching story that is beautifully written. I also enjoyed being able to discuss the characterization, themes and symbolism in the novel with some good friends. Annabel, the host this month, made honey cake, which I loved because it was yummy and because it went along with the theme! Here are a few of my favorite lines from the book.

"She reminded me that the world is really one big bee yard, and the same rules worked fine in both places: Don't be afraid, as no life-loving bee wants to sting you. Still, don't be an idiot; wear long sleeves and long pants. Don't swat. Don't even thing about swatting. If you feel angry, whistle. Anger agitates, while whistling melts a bee's temper. Act like you know what you are doing, even if you don't. Above all, send the bees love. Every little thing wants to be loved."

"She liked to tell everyone that women made the best beekeepers, 'cause they have a special ability built into them to love creatures that sting."

"You have to find a mother inside yourself. We all do. Even if we alreay have a mother, we still have to find this part of ourselves inside."

My friend, Tennisa, and I went to see the movie after our book group. It too was lovely. It stuck to the book pretty closely, and the actresses did a wonderful job portraying the characters. However, I am glad I read the novel first though, because I was able to fully appreciate parts of the movie that I otherwise would not have identified.

If you are looking for a good read, I definitely suggest The Secret Life of Bees. If you are looking for other suggestions or reviews, feel free to check out my profile on http://www.goodreads.com/. I would love to have more book buddies to swap suggestions with.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's in a Name

Yesterday I was playing Boggle online (yes, I am that cool) and I entered the word "vern". Of course, the game replied that "vern" was not in the dictionary. I sat there for a couple seconds until I realized why this nonsense word seemed to be an actual word to me; it's because I hear it about once a week from my little sister, who lovingly refers to me as Mr. Vern. This ridiculous name came from a mislabeled piece of mail I receive about five or six years ago, and to my dismay has become a permanent pet name for me. I also am referred to as Short Stack and Short Cake (which I am 5'6", hardly considered to be a short person), Mistress Butterbuns (a silly catcall I misheard in a movie and repeated aloud in infamy), Beera, and because of my middle name Lee, I also get L.L./L.L. Cool Jay, and Leraleehee. I used to be able to go by Dollar Five, since my first name means dollar in Italy and my last name was Nichols, but now with my married name and a whole lot of unfortunate things I have said and miscellaneous pieces of mail, my nicknames are no longer so clever and much more outlandish.

Greg goes by numerous variations of his name. There is Greggy Wedgie (another winner from my sister Sariah), Gregarious (always proclaimed in a deep curling voice by a bishopric member in our ward), Greggooey (because he accidently wrote this instead of Gregory when filling out an Ensign subscription; the cashier commented on the strange name before we realized the mistake) Gregonomus, and Gregzor.

Finally, we come to Palmer. He doesn't yet have a set nickname, but we do call him just about everything under the sun. It always starts with the phrase "little" and often, but not always, ends with some sort of dessert or seasonal item. We call him Little Pumpkin, Little Sweetie Pie, Little Pudding, Little Pudding Pie, Little Turkey Squirt, Little Kumquat, Little Polliwog, Little Lima Bean, Little Cookie, Little Bug, Little Cupcake, Little Baby Cakes, and so on and so forth. I suppose the right one will stick when we find it.

What are your/your children's nicknames and how did they come about?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Recipe - No Looking While It's Cooking Chicken

We had the Hess side of the family over for dinner today, as well as Sariah and Shea. I made no looking while it's cooking chicken, peas and carrots, and lemon bars. Greg's mom brought rolls and Sariah brought soda pop. The recipe was given to me by my friend Jenn, who always has tasty, yet easy recipes. This one is just perfect for Sunday dinner because it bakes for three hours, just the right amount of time to cook while at church.

No Looking While it’s Cooking Chicken

4 tbsp. butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
2 c. uncooked rice
1 soup can milk
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 envelope dry onion soup mix

Grease 9 x 13 pan with butter. Sprinkle raw rice on top. Combine soup over rice and pour milk over soup. Place chicken on top. Sprinkle dry onion soup mix over chicken. Cover pan with tin foil. Bake at 275 degrees for 3 hours. Do not lift foil during cooking time.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

To Every Thing There is a Season

Today we had our last stamp club at my house. I am sad to see it leave. It was great fun having friends over each month and enjoying their company, some fun scrapbooking supplies and techniques, and yummy treats. I guess now I will have to start a new season of regular cropping parties at my house to keep the fun going. Thanks to Sariah for all the work she did as our consultant. We also had our final card swap. I made two versions of my card since I ran out of supplies. I'm still not sure which one I like better. I have had these stamps for years, and this is the first time I have used them. I think they turned out pretty cute; I love pastel colors, and I the scripture printed on the card is one of my favorites.




products used - stamps: Hero Arts, ink: Close to my Heart, ribbon: Ofray, popdots: 3L


products used - stamps: Hero Arts, ink: Close to my Heart, fibers: Making Memories, other: staples

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Celebrating Mom's Birthday

Yesterday was my mom's birthday. We decided her birthday, rather than the anniversary of her passing (March 31, 2007), is the best time to remember her and commemorate her life. This is the second year now that my sisters and I have gone out to eat at her favorite restaurant, The Cracker Barrel, in order to celebrate her and all the goodness she brought to our lives. The waitress reminded us a lot of Mother. She was extremely friendly and offered far too much personal information. Afterwards we went to Mom's grave to wish her a happy birthday. It was a short visit because it was very cold and we had two little babes in tow.

I miss her so much. For some reason, I don't know if is it the season change, the upcoming holidays, or the fact that I am not so overwhelmed with being pregnant and having a new baby, but lately I've really had a difficult time not having her around. I've truly noticed an absence in my life. I think I will need to make another trip to her grave again soon, one where I am alone and can let all my emotions out.

Happy birthday to you Mom. You were one of a kind! You are deeply loved and deeply missed. I look forward to the day when I can once again see you and hug you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Baby Album for Alyssa

A couple months ago we were blessed with a new niece, Alyssa. When her sister Amaya was born, my sister, London, and I scrapbooked a baby album for her. My sister-in-law loved it and quickly filled it up with pictures and journaling. She asked me if I could also make one for Alyssa. I was honored to do so. London helped me out again and did the sleeping page and the mommy and me page (We always lend a hand in each other's projects). It took me about four months, but I finally finished it this week. Sorry the pictures aren't very good. I need a better camera. If you want to see the pages in more detail, you can click on them and it will bring up an enlarged picture. Since there are so many pages, I won't be documenting all the products I used, but feel free to ask if you would like to know about a particular embellishment.














Sunday, November 9, 2008

Weekend Review & Recipe - Spaghetti Carbonara

We actually didn't have any set plans for this weekend so it was pretty laid back.

Friday, for the first time since I had Palmer, I was able to go to the gym and get a good workout. One of the perks of my new job is a free membership to the fitness center, and as a member I receive one hour free a day of childcare. Exercising felt great! I actually wasn't as out of shape as I thought I would be (I guess those mommy muscles are pretty well developed), but I must say that my stomach is so incredibly weak since the c-section. It about killed me to do 50 crunches. It was so nice to have a short break from the demands of motherhood and do something for myself. I just might become an exercise fanatic!

Friday night we went out to dinner at Greg's favorite restaurant (I really like it too) Texas Roadhouse. The food was really good; you can't get anything better than their warm rolls with honey cinnamon butter. But it ended up not being much fun, because Palmer screamed the whole time. We took turns walking him around the crowded restaurant and outside, but the moment we went back to the table to eat, he cried loud and hard. The same thing happened the last time we went to the Olive Garden. I think he is acting up so much because he sees us eating and wants to eat too. Unfortunately he can't eat what we are having and it's not to easy to spoon feed a baby food at a bustling restaurant. I'm thinking, from now on, if we want to have a pleasant and relaxing time going out to eat we will have to get a babysitter.

That evening we watched a good movie, Lars and the Real Girl. It's about a lonely man who purchases a doll to act as his companion. He truly believes the doll is real and his friends and family go along with the delusion in order to help him work through his emotional baggage. I would have never given it a chance if my friend hadn't recommended it to me, but I am glad we did. It was funny, poignant and very touching. So if your up for a good artistic film, give it a try.

And finally Sunday we had my side of the family over for dinner. We get together with them every other Sunday for a potluck dinner. The person in charge of the main course hosts. I made spaghetti carbonara. My sister Sariah is pictured enjoying the dish. I had to substitute turkey bacon because my sister is allergic to pork, and had to made a glutton free version of the meal because my brother-in-law and my nephew are allergic to wheat. We also have allergies to or intolerances of garlic, nuts, citrus, milk, and eggs in the mix. It's always a challenge to figure out something that everyone can eat. The spaghetti carbonara recipe was a wedding shower gift. It is very, very easy to prepare and is a yummy dish. Enjoy!

Spaghetti Carbonara

6 slices on bacon cut into 1 inch pieces
12 oz. spaghetti
1 beaten egg
1 cup half and half
2 tbs. Butter
½ c. grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
¼ c. fresh parsley, chopped

Cook bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Cook spaghetti for 8-10 minutes until tender but still firm. Meanwhile, for sauce, combine egg, half and half, and butter in a small sauce pan. Cook and stir over medium heat until egg mixture just coats a metal spoon (about 6 minutes). Immediately pour sauce over spaghetti; toss gentle to coat. Add bacon, cheese and parsley; toss to mix. Season with pepper.

Friday, November 7, 2008

High School Tag

1. Did you date someone from your school? Yes, for the majority of my high school experience.
2. What kind of car did you drive? My mom's Oldsmobile Achieva.
3. Did you pass your driver's license test first try? Yes, although now that I look back on it, I was a pretty scary driver.
4. Where you a party animal? I liked to party, but in a good Mormon girl kind of way.
5. Were you considered a flirt? No, I had a serious boyfriend.
6. Were you in band, orchestra or choir? Choir.
7. Were you a nerd? I don't think so, others might disagree.
8. Were you on any varsity teams? Definitely no, I am not coordinated at all.
9. Did you ever get suspended/expelled? No, but I did, on occasion, sluff during my senior year (with my mother's knowledge even... she trusted me not to take advantage.) We were caught several times by my best friend's parents. Every time she told them I had started my period to get out of trouble, thanks fot that Jen!
10. Can you still sing the fight song? No, but I know my junior high song because I later worked there as a teacher, does that count?
11. Who were your favorite teachers? Mrs. Lofgren, Mrs. Packer, Ms. Heart, all English teachers. 12. Where did you sit for lunch? In the middle of the commons area on the stairs.
13. What is your school's full name? Hunter High School.
14. What is your schools mascot and colors? Wolverine, blue and silver.
15. Did you go to homecoming and with who? Yeah, with my high school boyfriend Nick.
16. If you could go back and do it again, would you? I liked high school a lot, but I'm really happy with where I am in life right now.
17. What do you remember most about graduation? Sneaking into Jenny's grandparent's hot tub in the middle of the night. Later we found out her grandpa almost shot us with his gun because he thought we were burglars.
18. Where did you go senior skip day? I don't remember. Probably out to breakfast, and maybe shopping?
19. Were you in any clubs? Yes, I lived and slept for Literary Magazine, also Physics Club (no idea why!), Key Club, French Club (once again, not sure why, I took Spanish), and Concert Choir. 20. Have you gained some weight since then? Sadly, yes.
21. Who was your prom date? Once again, my boyfriend at the time.
22. Are you planning on going to your 10 year reunion? Maybe.
23. Did you have a job in high school? I worked at Blockbuster and for a very short period of time, Discover Card.

I'm going to tag my fellow alumni bloggers: Jenn, Lyndee, Lissa, Adrienne, Rie, Sarah, Tanya, Kristina, Haley, Nick, Jay, Valerie, Mindy, and Missy... and anyone else who wants to take a walk down memory lane.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Check-up, New Job and Elections

Yesterday was an eventful day for us. Palmer had his six month check up. He is still a very tall and skinny boy. He measured 29 inches (99th percentile) and weighed 16 lbs. 2 oz. (26th percentile). The doctor said he might take a bit longer to learn to sit up and walk just because he is so long and it takes more precision to balance his body. He took his shots like a champ. He let out two big cries and then cuddled up to me and sucked his thumb. He has one more flu shot in a month and then won't need anymore until he is a year old. I am relieved; I hate having to watch him get shots.

I also started my new job at the fitness center day care yesterday. I think it will work out just great. It was a bit rough last night because Palmer had his shots earlier, and was fussy and very clingy (I had to hold him the entire time; my arms felt like jello by the end of my shift). I didn't plan that too well. But it was definitely easier than watching children in my home. Most of the kids are only in there for an hour and there are a lot of fun things to occupy their attention. My sister-in-law also works there and it is nice to spend time with her and my cute nieces. I think the environment will be good for Palmer too, because he will be exposed to other children and hopefully learn to play nicely with them. That way when we have our next child it won't be a huge adjustment for Palmer.

We were home in time to watch the end of the presidential election. I'm a bit worried that both houses as well as the president are democratic. I think our country is far too liberal as it is, but I guess that's why as members of the church we live in the world, and not of it. Even though I voted for McCain, I do think it's pretty amazing that we have a black president. What a way to absolutely shatter the boundaries of race.

I am so grateful for the health and wellness of our family. The Lord truly looks after us and provides for us.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I Did Not See this Coming

I have always been a big water drinker. I've never really liked pop, and nothing seems to quench my thirst but water. My family calls me a camel because I drink about three glasses of water with dinner. Greg is not a fan of water with meals. He prefers just about anything else, juice, soda pop, Gatorade, etc. When we first married, Greg was on a juice kick. With every meal he drank juice, and so I adapted to the same set-up. About 20 pounds later I realized even though the juice tasted good, I shouldn't be drinking it with each and every meal, and I went back to my previous habit of drinking water.

Well, the children I watched at daycare would not drink water, and after realizing I could not afford to provide them with gallons and gallons of juice all day long, I started buying and making Kool-Aid. They were happy with that, as was my wallet. Greg started drinking the leftover Kool-Aid with his meals, and one night I tried it and realized I actually liked it too. Crazily enough, I am now, at 26 years of age, addicted to Kool-Aid! I realized this was not okay the other night when we had friends over for dinner. I had made a considerably yummy, very adult, meal and Greg offered them Kool-Aid as their accompanying beverage. They tried to hide it, but I'm pretty sure I saw them give us a strange look. So, for the sake of maintaining our cool, okay not cool, but maybe normal, status and so that I do not gain back the baby weight, I have decided to wean myself off the juice... I mean Kool-Aid.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Hess Fam Simpsonized

This is what we would look like if we appeared on the Simpsons.

Six Months

Wow, six months have come and gone for our no-longer-so-little Palmer. I can't believe how quickly the time goes. We were planning on buying Palmer a jumper toy for Christmas but realized he'll almost be too big for it by then, so we broke down last weekend and purchased him the Fisher Price Rainforest Jumperoo. He absolutely loves it! He will jump until he is so exhausted that he starts to whimper and then continue to jump while whining. Silly boy. So here is what is going on with Palmer at half a year old.

He has learned: to eat purified versions of just about everything under the sun: prunes, apples, pears, peaches, peas, green beans, squash and sweet potatoes, and as of last night at Leatherby's the banana from our banana split, to also suck his right thumb, and to sleep a couple more (now up to 9-10) hours at night

He likes: jumping in his jumperoo, eating baby food, going on walks, flirting with everyone he meets, playing with toys, being outside in the wind and putting his fingers (and Mom's and Dad's fingers) in his mouth

He dislikes: napping anywhere but in his crib, going to the doctor (he now associates the doctor's table with getting shots), being confined to the carseat and as always pacifiers

Things he does that makes us laugh: funny faces, wakes up laughing and cooing in the morning, lots of wiggling, big smiles and giggles