Friday, December 31, 2010

Season of Service

It is the evening of December 31, which would brings our Operation December just about to a close. What a lovely experience it was to focus more on giving and serving during this special time of year. I set out with the goal to perform an act of service, whether big or small, monetary or not, at least once a day this past month. I originally thought a daily charitable deed would be a bit difficult to fulfill. How glad I was to discover that once I made giving my focus, it came easily and naturally. With prayer and with an open mind and heart, opportunities of service seemed to just about fall into our laps! It has been a wonderfully uplifting Christmas, both in the blessing we received and in the opportunities our Heavenly Father provided for us to make others' blessings come about.

With many positive experiences of giving from this past month, we are not only prepared to make this focus a holiday tradition from now on, but to also start a new year with a dedication to give more of ourselves more often.

A Very Merry Christmas

Our very merry Christmas composed of:

Christmas Eve dinner (Ham, cheesy potato casserole, beans and rolls), opening presents and a round of white elephant gift exchange at Grandma Nancy's.

Then on to the Riding home for hors d'oeuvres (Chinese wontons, spinach artichoke dip with tortilla chips, bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers in raspberry chipotle sauce, monkey bread, mozzarella sticks with marinara, BBQ little smokies and assorted cheeses and olives) and opening gifts.

Christmas morning was just us. The boys opened their stockings first. Then we each took turns opening the rest of the gifts. We took our time, playing with and admiring each present after unwrapping, including our popcorn tin which Brody thoroughly enjoyed.

Our favorite gifts this year: Brody - teddy bear from The Ridings, Palmer - Alvin and the Chipmunks movie from Santa, Lera - sewing machine from Greg and Greg - Blu-ray home theater system from Lera.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Homemade for the Holidays

The holidays wouldn't be complete without a few homemade touches.

The first is my go-to way of packaging any yummy treat. I simply put the treat in a Ziploc bag, fold a piece of cardstock, decorated it and staple it onto the top of the bag. It is super fast and always looks cute. In this case, I bagged up homemade caramels and chocolates. These bags of goodies went to my sister-in-laws and their families.

I made up these cute snowman kits for some ward friends. Each kit included: a scarf, carrot, two pieces of coal, buttons, a hat and some fake snow for decoration.

We also passed out many Santa's Cookies plates that I had designed for our Relief Society's Super Saturday. Each cookie plate had a dozen delicious fudge chocolate cookies (recipe from my friend Jenn). These cookies are scrumptious! I made the cookie plates for the families Greg and I visit/home teach. Greg's companion took home one of the plates with the plan to deliver it later that night to one of their families. He later confessed, after sneaking one cookie, he couldn't stop himself, and ended up eating them all! His wife had to bake more cookies to replace them. Hehe.

My sisters and I make a small homemade gift each year to exchange between each other in honor of our mother. We call them angel gifts, since Mom always gifted us with angel figurines each Christmas.

This year London made a couple of seasoning rubs: Spicy Sweet BBQ and Citrus Herb.

While dejunking our attic I came across a home video my parents made of Ohio (places and people we knew and loved) just before we had moved to Utah. I had the VHS converted to a DVD and gave my sisters each a copy.

Sariah handcrafted a couple of super cute totes. This winter-esk scene is mine. London's was done in more fall colors.

Recipes - Peanut Butter Brownie Bites, Cookie Dough Truffles and London's Caramels

I made a couple big candy treat trays for Greg and my work last week and thought I'd share the recipes. Two of the treats I made were actually demonstrated at our ward's Super Saturday last month: Peanut Butter Brownie Bites (I substituted white chocolate for the chocolate coating on these) and Cookie Dough Truffles. I also spent an afternoon with my sister London making caramels. This was my first time making these melt-in-your-mouth delicious candies. I now know why my sister doesn't make them too often. They take hours and hours... but I must admit, the moment that chewy goodness hits my mouth, it's all worth it. I have yet to try a caramel that is as scrumptious as London's.

London's Caramels

2 sticks butter
4 cups sugar
2cups light corn syrup
2 cans evaporated milk

Over medium heat, melt butter. Add sugar and corn syrup and bring to a boil. Very slowly add milk, keeping mixture at a boil. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches soft ball stage, 235 degrees (takes 1-2 hours). Immediately pour into a well creased pan. Allow caramels to cool completely. Cut into squares and wrap in wax paper.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Big Blonde Moment

Admittedly, I am a ditsy blonde. I'm not stupid. I think of myself as fairly intelligent, but honestly, I do tend to embrace the stereotypical blonde from time to time.

One particular instance occurred recently, Thanksgiving morning. I was out early (just having attended Lyndee's Zumba class, which was fabulous fun) and stopped to gas my van and pick up a paper for Black Friday shopping. I purchased my paper and prepaid for exactly $8.00 of gasoline (just enough to make it through our shopping excursion, saving as much of my cash as possible for the shopping itself). I then called my sister while walking to the van to see if she wanted me to get her a paper; they were going fast. She told me to pick up an extra one since she was sure one of our bargain hunting buddies would want it. I went back in the store and did so. I then got in my vehicle and drove out of the gas station's parking lot while still talking on the phone. As I was entering the main street I glanced at my gas gage to see it still on empty. Whoops, I forgot to gas up. I glanced in my rear view mirror to see that every pump was empty except the one I had prepaid on, where a man was already pumping gas into his vehicle. I exclaimed to London that someone was using my gas and I had to go.

I drove up to the gas pump just across from the man and got out. I noticed him looking at the gas tank with a very perplexed look on his face. The following awkward conversation proceeded.

Me: "Did the gas stop when it reached $8.00?"
Him in a confused voice: "Yeah."
Me: "That's because I prepaid at that pump and then drove off, like an idiot."
Him: "Oh."
(We stare at each other for a minute or so, very awkwardly. Me, waiting for him to offer to repay me, because it was my gasoline, but not asking because it was my fault that I didn't get it. I rationalized to myself that it was only $8.00, but at the same time, I purposefully only put in that much because I wanted to save my money.)
Me: "Well, I guess... (another long pause)... Happy Thanksgiving."
Him: "I can pay you for it." He then proceeded to give me a ten dollar bill and I thanked him and gave him back two ones.

I recounted the story to my family at Thanksgiving dinner. They then told our shopping companions the next day. Everyone found my flounder quite amusing and for several days after, the "Happy Thanksgiving" quip was used by all whenever they caught themselves doing anything slightly stupid.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More Palmerisms

He kissed a garbage can at church for no reason at all.

Calls Eskimo kisses nose kisses. He requests them often. And one night he asked for a head kiss and then proceeded to softly head butt Greg.

While pointing at snowballs in the snow he remarks, "The snow pooped Mom!"

Yelled to me, "Brody's hurt!" When I went to see what was wrong I found Brody with his arm pulled out of his now limp sleeve. Palmer proudly said, "I did it."

Makes "snow angels" on the carpet inside our home.

Stuck a green bowl upside-down on top of his cup at dinner and announced, "Veggie Tales!" (as in the cucumber from Veggie Tales)

Was whimpering off and on through the night. Greg went to check on him and calmed him down. A few minutes later I hear him whimpering for me. As I am slowly dragging my tired body out of bed, I hear him scream out in bloody murder. I race into his room and urgently ask him what happened. He responds by grabbing at his nose and through loud and adamant cries exclaims, "Boogies!" (as in boogers).

Calls his green beans "beanstalks." They are always the first food eaten off his plate.

Noticed the cracks on the road and said, "Mom, the road is broken," and "Palmer broke it."

Took him to The Mayan for the first time this week. Throughout the meal he ran towards the water to "go swimming." When leaving he commented about it saying, "We ate in the trees and friends jumped in the water from upstairs."

When writing a note to Santa Clause, he told me he wanted a snowman and a new friend for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Walk with Santa

We attended our local fitness center's A Walk with Santa. Santa rode in on a fire engine and then they lit up the trees surrounding the building. After the lighting, Santa lead everyone on a walk around the track. Along the path the kids saw cute blowup Christmas characters, while a high school choir walked behind us caroling. Then the kids each took a turn sitting on Santa's lap. This was the first time sitting with Santa for both our boys and they both did wonderfully and provided me with these picture perfect cutie-patootie photos.

While in line, we asked Palmer what he was going to tell Santa that he wanted for Christmas. He responded, "Presents." When actually prompted by Santa, he said, "A surprise." Honestly, Santa really can't go wrong this year. As long as there is something wrapped under the tree, Palmer's Christmas wish is taken care of.

We thought for sure Brody would eat Santa's beard. He really likes anything furry and fluffy, and he shows his love for such plush items by giving them a firm chomp. But he was very well behaved and sat there smiling like a little angel.

After a visit with Santa, Palmer colored a penguin pin, and went on a candy cane hunt. They also had face painting and hot chocolate and cookies. It was a pretty cute event and it was all free of charge. I'm sure it'll become a Hess tradition from now on.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Festival of Trees 2010

Originally, we had planned to attend a few Christmas events during the first part of December: The Festival of Trees, Breakfast with Santa and The Forgotten Carols. After we did our budget we realized we had enough money to only do one event. Although I have been dying to go to The Forgotten Carols for years, I just couldn't give up our family tradition of attending The Festival of Trees, so attend it we did.

Every year we each choose a themed tree of interest (i.e. scrapbooking, Harry Potter, The Simpsons, music, baking cookies, etc.) to be on the hunt for. Then once your tree is found, we take a picture of you in front of it. Unfortunately, this year we got a little sidetracked and only took pictures of particularly unique trees and trees that were our children's favorites.

Unique Trees:

Palmer's favorite tree: Mickey Mouse theme

Brody's favorite tree: Cookie Monster theme

We enjoyed some mouthwatering scones with honey butter and washed them down with some chocolate milk. We sat by the sweetest pair of old men while we ate. They were so charming and kind. They truly had the spirit of Christmas.

We ended the evening in the children's activity area. We purchased a wand for each of the boys and Palmer took a turn in the bubble machine. He was so excited to get inside a bubble. He was actually shaking in anticipation. When it was his turn he just about ran into the pool of bubble solution before the attendants could help him up onto the stool.

We had a wonderful time. The boys were really well behaved, but after a couple hours of gazing at the trees they were done.

We only got a glance at the gingerbread houses and didn't even see the small trees, wreaths, other decorations or the store. But honestly, Greg and I were done too. As we were leaving, Greg and I couldn't help but chuckle about the previous trips to the Festival of Trees with my mother. She loved the festival even more than I do, and would make sure to see every single display. Many years she would continue to roll herself around in her wheelchair for about an hour after the rest of us sat pooped out on a chair in the corner. Oh how I love that woman and the zest she had for life! Hopefully one day we will be able to donate a tree in her memory.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Operation December

Once I saw the title of this particular blog template "Giving is Living," I knew it must be our blog's design for the month of December. Last month I had a specific focus and did my best to put all my extra time and effort into it (as much as a possibly could since Brody was sick just about all month). It was great to have a worthy purpose to concentrate on for the month and I am excited to do so again in December.

Greg and I have been talking, for the last couple months, about how this Christmas we want to really focus on serving. We have been so blessed in the past years with help, service, thoughtfulness, kindness and gifts of plenty, often in the case of very generous secret santas. This was especially true last year when we were really struggling financially. Oh how thankful we are for the kindness of others and oh how we yearn to pass that kindness on. With Greg's recent improvement in employment, we are now getting back on our feet and are thrilled to not only be able to provide for ourselves but for some others as well.

So with that in mind, I want to dedicate the month of December 2010 to service. Our family hopes and prays and plans to give of our time, our efforts, our money and ourselves for the good of others. We are striving to more embrace a lifestyle that is best emulated by, the reason for this season that is upon us, our Savior Jesus Christ.

Let Operation Give commence!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Recipe - Oatmeal Nut Whole Wheat Pancakes

We love these pancakes. They are more nutritious than regular pancakes and very, very filling. This recipe was a wedding gift (along with a griddle) to Greg and I from our dear friends Rex and Debbie Bailey. I made these for dinner one evening this month during a particularly nasty blizzard since they were a quick fix and we weren't certain how long we would have our electricity.

Oatmeal Nut Whole Wheat Pancakes

1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 c. milk
1/4 c. melted butter
1 T. honey
2 eggs
1 c. old fashioned rolled oats
1 c. finely chopped walnuts

In a medium bowl stir together whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt. Add milk, eggs, butter and honey and beat until smooth. Stir in oats and nuts. Cook on a hot griddle until golden brown. Serve with butter and syrup.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving and Black Friday

We had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday. This year was our turn to spend the dinner with my side of the family. London set a gorgeous table with cute pumpkin crafted turkeys for each person and we all cooked and brought part of the meal. I made pies (caramel pecan, pumpkin, chocolate cream and apple) with homemade whipped cream and Greg made the mashed potatoes. Everything was delicious! After dinner we went to visit Greg's dad, Kelly, who was in town for the holiday.

After a few hours of sleep I awoke at 2:15 AM to accompany my sisters and a couple friends to Kohls, where we began our morning shopping spree. From there we went to Walmart, then RC Willey (where I stood outside in the cold for two hours, and where my sister and our friend Susan stood outside for four hours!), then to Kmart and then our group finished up at Maceys. I went home around noon and had a half hour nap, and some lunch and then went out again with Greg and the kids to Old Navy and Roberts. I was really feeling the results of standing out in the cold at RC Willey by this point, so we picked up a pizza on the way home and then proceeded to crash on the couch until the boys and I went to bed early. The deals were definitely worth the discomfort though. I was able to purchase most of the items I went for, am just about done shopping for everyone and saved almost as much as I spent. And there's always the fun of being out and about with my fellow crazy bargain hunters. It was definitely a successful Thanksgiving holiday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hope from Time Out for Women

I had the opportunity to attend Salt Lake City's Time Out for Women last weekend, November 19 and 20. It was absolutely wonderful, even better than last year. My sister Sariah came with me and likewise loved every moment of it. This year's theme was infinite hope, and it surely was an event full of hope. I gained so much that hope, inspiration and wisdom, and left with a desire to be better person and to bring hope to others as well. I took pages of notes that I will treasure in days to come, but for the sake of space in this post I'm going to post one powerful thought from each presenter.

Friday night:

Virginia Hinckely Pearce: Virginia was lovely, so down to earth and real. The comment she said that most stood out to me is, "Comparison is the fast track to misery."

Dallyn Vail Bayles: There were a few times my jaw actually dropped when listening to his unbelievable voice. He spoke of how much courage it takes to take a step into the darkness, but if we do, Heavenly Father will bless us. He then sang, "You Know Better than I."

Hiedi Swinton: President Monson puts people first. His life is made up of helping individuals. I also loved his comment to Heidi when asking her to write his biography, "I know you're on a mission, but you're not that busy are you?"

Saturday day:

Linda Eyre and Shawni Eyre Pothier: These women are a mother and daughter team who discussed secrets of motherhood. Two ideas they mentioned that I want to implement into my family are to have a family mission statement and to have a designated place in the house where to children sit where they, not you, can work out an argument.

Brad Wilcox: He spoke about the principle of grace, and how we are saved after all we can do. He pointed out that the emphasis in this statement is in the word "we." And that "we" represents ourselves and Jesus Christ. There is no set ratio in what we do and what He does; it is about the sum of that relationship.

Mariama Kallon: This woman was amazing! She is a convert to the church from Siera Leone. The horrors she has endured are unfathomable to me. And despite all that, she was absolutely charming and has a strong testimony, tremendous faith and a great sense of humor. She referred to the scriptures as her therapist.

Hillary Weeks: I just love Hillary Weeks. She spoke about making a commitment to not gossip, something I have attempted to do often. She said once she stopped participating in gossip, she began to love other more and herself more.

Amanda Dickson: I must say I think Amanda Dickson is the most energetic and optimistic person I have ever heard from. You could not help but have a huge, goofy smile of your face when listening to her. From her talk I took the idea to get your hopes up, and even if the worst thing happens, who knows, you might like the worst thing.

Emily Freeman: She said, "Hope is what sustains our soul in circumstances that would otherwise destroy us." And later added that, "Christ gives us that hope."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Elves and Women at Santa's Workshop

Our ward's Super Saturday Santa's Workshop has come and gone. It was a hit, if I do say so myself. I was a bit anxious going into the event. We had General Conference and Stake Conference during our advertising and craft sign-ups, so a lot of women didn't get their orders in on time. I extended the deadline a bit and called everyone who had signed up and not paid and in two days, doubled our orders. After we had all the flyers up with the date, the church announced that World Wide Training would be held at the same time. Then two days before the event we found out our building was booked for a funeral, and we had to schedule another building and notify all the women of the change. I had two classes set up, and one teacher ended up having surgery and had her daughter-in-law fill in on short notice, and our other teacher had something come up and would barely be able to make it to teach her class on time. Then when I went to set up the morning of, there was a full out basketball game going on in the cultural hall. I just stood there watching the men play for about a minute thinking, "Seriously!?" Then the type A personality planner in me took over and I kindly but firmly told them they needed to leave. Regardless of all these last minute stresses and changes, thankfully everything did come together.

I opened the activity with this poem I wrote about elves and women.

Welcome to Santa’s Workshop
We think you’ll feel at home
Here amongst the elves
In common company you do roam

For women and elves are similar
Just bear with me and see
How much in common us two do have
I believe you will agree

Elves operate from dusk till dawn
Indeed they are master workmen
Women also have a great work to do
To which we attend over and over again

Santa’s little helpers are very familiar
With putting in a great deal of time
And as with women, often the efforts
Will not earn them one single dime

When the reindeer need tending
The elves are there in a swoop
Likewise us women with our young
wash, feed and clean up poop

The elves are always cheerful and glad
Their happy caroling is surely an art
Women too seek to be kind and friendly
And carry a song in their heart

Elves like to make a statement
With big hats, shiny bells and rouge
Women have even adapted their style
With our fashionably chic pointy toed shoes

Yet in all seriousness, elves and women
Are most importantly alike in our living
A charitable life, founded in service of others
For our greatest gift is in our giving

So today - please visit and enjoy
Feast, craft, learn and be sure to create
Today’s activity is to help prepare for
a holiday, you elves, are sure to make great!

We had a pretty good show of people. I even had several friends come to support me who were not in the ward, so very sweet of them. We had crafts for the sisters to do: a muffin tin countdown, a Santa's cookie plate, a set of four felt ornaments and a humanitarian project (tying baby quilts). Our two mini classes (holiday cooking taught by Mary Underhill and creative gift wrapping taught by my sister London) were great! We served breakfast and lunch, and had a very full nursery. All in all it was a good time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bath Buddies

Now that Brody is stable enough to be without his constraining bathseat and now that Palmer has a buddy to play with, these two are all about bathtime. Whenever the boys hear the water start, they both get huge smiles, start to giggle and rush to the edge of the bathtub. There they wait eagerly leaning over the bathtub rim, reaching their hands in trying to get a touch of the warm water.

Two and a Half Years Old

Palmer is SO a two year old, curious, energetic, stubborn, emotional. Often we joke with him saying, "You act like your two!" This picture was taken while jumping on his bed, because it was the only time in the past week (I've been trying that long to do a photo shoot with him) that I could get him to stay in one spot. He is growing like a weed and learning at an incredible rate. He is always on the move, and with that likes to climb, run, jump, and dance. He enjoys helping me with cooking and cleaning, and likes to help Dad fix things around the house and play keyboard, drum and video games. Everything else he wants to do by himself and in his own way. He has a signature way that exits our van, and a wants his blankets laid in a certain order at night. He is just starting to show interest in potty training. Most of the time he is a wonderful brother. He is a social little guy and makes friends wherever he goes. We love the little boy he is becoming. This is what is up with Palmer at two and a half years old.

Stats: 39 1/2 inches tall (99%), 31 pounds (64%) and his head circumference is in the 26%

He has learned: all shapes, to count to 20, the ABC song (as well as Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and several other simple children's songs), a few colors (he struggles with colors for some reason), to scale our kitchen cabinets and get whatever food item he wants, to speak longer sentences, and so many other things I can't even keep track.

He likes:
Mickey Mouse, Curious George, juice, string cheese, fruit snacks, CANDY, fruit and vegetables (hooray!), farm animals, blankets, playing children's games on the Internet with Mom/Dad, play places, parks, his cousin Davis, playing at the fitness center daycare, reading books, saving coins in his piggy bank, walks, family home evening, Chic-fil-A and Walmart.

He dislikes:
peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, milk, being strapped in a cart at the store, getting his socks and shoes on, getting his diaper changed, being alone, being at home all day, and going to sleep.

Things he does that makes us laugh: funny things he says everyday (examples here and here), gets so hyper that he literally bounces off walls, gives kisses to everyone and everything, how excited (huge smile, eyes light up, and lets out a gasp) he gets over small things, his cute dance moves, and his contagious giggles and laughs.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Operation November

In our home, November has officially become Operation Clean House.

I had trouble deciding if I wanted to do NaBloPoMo this year. It was a very positive experience for me last year. It gave me the chance to practice my writing skills that seem to have been left behind in my college years, and also to add more depth to our family blog, not just a recap of outings and holidays. I try not to only focus on these particular events, but sometime in the rush of life, I don't get around to blogging about much else. Although I'm glad I did it last year, it did take an incredible amout of time and I've been feeling quite crazed as it is.

I've been telling Greg that I am going to cut back on my hours at work for a couple months now. However, when the schedules came around to fill in, I never followed through and found myself signing up for my regular hours as well as some extras that needed to be filled. I didn't want to let my boss down and the extra money is always nice when payday comes along. I did this with November as well, and was kicking myself as I later looked at our busy calendar. Just before the November work schedule came out, my boss called me and said she was having trouble giving me my preferred shifts and was worried about shorting me hours. I quickly assured her that I was happy with less hours.

So there is was, the gift of time. I now felt I had no excuse not to participate in NaBloPoMo and devote hours and hours during the month of November to our family blog. As you can see this simply did not happen. It is now November 8th and this is only my third post.

Here is the reason. A couple days before the start of November, as I was thinking up fun craft projects to make and offer as giveaways during NaBloPoMo I noticed that Brody was rubbing a hairball/dustball between his fingers. I let out an exclamation of disgust and quickly snatched it and put it rightfully in the garbage. Just a minute later I noticed him with another dustball in his hand, only this time it was heading straight into his open mouth. I yelped again and quickly ceased the unwanted, unclean ball of filth. I then looked around my house, the baseboards, the blinds, the walls and windows and realized it desperately needed some extra attention.

I usually keep a tidy house. Dishes are done, toys and clothes are put away. But it seems that I don't get to the deep cleaning nitty gritty details often enough, and it is beginning to show. I decided for the safety of my always-eating-of-the-floor crawling baby, as well as my housekeeping pride, it was time to clean house. So sadly, as you stop by our blog this month you may not be met with a new post. However, if you stop by the house this month, I can assure that you will be met with the smell of Pine-Sol.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trick Or Treaters

Palmer and Brody were loving Halloween this year, especially the trick or treating and it's related candy haul. They were able to dress up a few times during the season: a friend's party, the fitness center's Safety Fair, our ward's trunk or treat and actual door to door trick or treating on Saturday night.

Palmer was a turtle this year. The costume was loaned to us by a friend. We had wanted to get him a Mickey Mouse costume this year, but they were in short supply and very pricey. When I brought the turtle costume home to try out, he was overjoyed with it! He immediate had to try it on and could not stop giggling as he pranced around the house that evening. When we found a decent priced Mickey Mouse costume a week later, he was not nearly as excited when he tried it on. So we decided to use the turtle for this year. He was so happy to wear it each and every time he put it on.

Brody was a puppy this year. Aunt Sariah gave Brody a gift card to Toys R Us for his birthday. It was there that Greg picked out the puppy costume. Brody instantly loved it! When he saw it he reached for it and let out a squeal. It then quickly went into his mouth. After he had slobbered on it and chewed off some of the fur, we knew we had to buy it. I loved this costume on him. He crawls around, pants and begs just like a puppy; it was a perfect fit! He enjoyed wearing it as well, and liked pulling on the ears and picking at the fur. I liked being able to grab his tail to hold onto him when he was crawling away.

My favorite part of Halloween this year was the trick or treating. For some reason, nothing beats going door to door. We were only out for about 20 minute this year, but the boys received a lot of candy, a.k.a. bribery to finish dinner and go on the potty.


The Thursday before Halloween we went to Wheeler Farm with my best friend Jenn and her girls Sammy and Maddie. Palmer sings "Old McDonald Had a Farm" at least ten times a day, loves animals, being outside and playing with friends, so such an outing was absolute heaven for him. Brody also loves animals and being outside, so he was likewise very happy. And I, myself, was overyjoyed to be able to hang out with Jenn. It was definitely a great time for all! We pet the goats and horses, fed the ducks, desperately tried to get our little ones to eat lunch, watched the kids play, went on a "spooky" wagon ride, and enjoyed some good girl talk.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Girly Goodness

I was able to join in on girly get togethers this week. Yay! Thursday night I spent the evening with my two favorite girly girls, my sisters. Sariah and I arranged to take out our older sister London for a night of pampering. Life has been pretty rough for her lately, dealing with the stresses of a job loss, financial problems and her husband's bi-polar depression; she was definitely in need of a good girl's night. We gave her a few choices of things to do and she picked a winning combination: pedicures and hot chocolate at Hatch's Chocolate Shop. It was Sariah's and my first time trying Hatch's hot chocolate. It was unbelievably delicious! The three of us now refer to it as liquid love.

Saturday afternoon, London and I attended a sisters and daughters Halloween party at our friend RaeLyn's home. It was great fun, right up our alley with a potluck and make and take crafts. I had worked a Halloween breakfast earlier that morning. All the servers had to opportunity to have their faces painted by a professional. I asked the face painter to paint me up to match my butterfly wings that I planned to wear at the party. She did an awesome job. Thanks to her artistic touch, I won best costume. London won best food item with her pumpkin shaped cheeseball.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tuesday's Television Takeover

I regularly watch three television shows each week. My very favorite show is The Office. It is also Greg's favorite and we enjoy watching it together. It is only a half hour long, and if we don't catch it on Thursday night, it is no big deal to just watch it on the Internet some night after the kids go to bed.

The other two shows I watch are The Biggest Loser and Parenthood. I've been a fan of The Biggest Loser for a few years now. Unfortunately this show is two hours long, and takes so much time to watch and keep up with. (Not to mention that trying to watch television while the boys are still awake can be like fighting a losing battle.) And then to make my Tuesday nights tune in even longer, I got hooked on Parenthood, as it was on during the time I nursed Brody to sleep for the night. Which brings the grand total to three whole hours of television on Tuesday. Greg is not really into either program, so watching them after the kids go to bed (during the time we spend together as a couple) isn't an option.

My solution? Tuesday is now my laundry night. Greg is currently studying to get his CNA, and never seems to find enough time to hit the books. So Tuesday is now his study night. Some Tuesdays are more productive than others based on the kids' behavior, but all in all it's been a good solution. Now if I can only find a way to justify some of my other guilty pleasures... like chocolate.

What television shows do you make an effort to tune into?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Full Ownership of My Body is Bittersweet

For the first time in over three years, I am not nursing and/or pregnant. It is a very strange feeling to me. I have been looking forward to this day for a long time, and now that it is here... I don't really know what to do with myself.

Yes, it is very nice to once again have full ownership of my body. This past Sunday was the first Fast Sunday in over three years that I have been able to fast. When I was first pregnant with Palmer and happily chomping on saltine crackers at church, I remember a ward member telling me I would miss fasting. At the time, I thought, that would never be the case. I believed being able to eat whenever you need/want to was a pretty great perk to being with child. Yet sure enough, I did miss it. More so, I missed the ability to choose to fast. I missed practicing my devotion to my Heavenly Father in such a concrete way. I do know that my reason for not fasting was worthy; in such a case I was instead showing devotion to my child. However, this past Sunday's fast I appreciated more than any other fast I have completed up to this point in my life. It is also nice to know that I can leave Brody for a night, if needed, and he will be just fine. He can be provided with all that he needs, even without me. As the date to wean neared, I had expected to be happy in welcoming these good changes.

What I did not expect, was for weaning to be bittersweet. I find myself missing that precious time with Brody. I miss cuddling with him. I miss winding down from the day by nursing him to sleep. I miss knowing that I am giving him something precious of myself. These were feelings that I had not even considered and was not in anyway expecting to feel. Especially since Brody is my second child, and I have weaned before. I think this time was really different for me because this time, it was my choice to stop breastfeeding. I was forced to wean Palmer early (doctor's orders) a few months into my pregnancy with Brody. I remember being frustrated that I had to stop breastfeeding earlier than I wanted, but I also remember feeling relief, because I was so utterly run down and worn out nursing while pregnant. This time around, I chose to stop. It was my choice to move on from the intimate relationship Brody and I had through breastfeeding.

So here I am. Just me. Full ownership of my body. The time I've looked forward to for three years is now here. Now that I am no longer physically devoting myself in every way I know possible to my children, and no longer experiencing crazy hormones as a result, I can finally once again, feel like myself. Ironically, now that I have finally achieved this sought after state, I find that during those three years of not feeling like myself, I redefined myself. I became the mom who gave everything, who was everything for her children. And even though it was exhausting, stressful, often frustrating and at sometimes burdensome, it honestly was wonderful. At this time in my life, that woman who gives all of herself is who I am. This woman who can hand her child a sippy cup of milk and be on her way, is a stranger to me.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Family and One Year Photo Shoot

Brody had his one year photos taken this month. Once again, I was able to get his photos done once a month for his first year of life. And once again, I'm so glad I'm done. I am always happy I've done it by the end of the year though. They grow up and change so quickly. Thankfully, this time I'll have a bit of a longer break before doing it again with our next baby. We also decided to save ourselves a trip and get our family pictures done for Christmas at the same time. JC Penney had a special with their greeting cards which made it cheaper to just order through them than to make my own this year. So for the first time since I can remember, I will not be sending out homemade Christmas cards. I suppose I'll just have to compensate by making cute gift tags for the presents we exchange. I am really pleased with the results of this photo shoot. The boys had a difficult time staying still, but the photographers were wonderful working with them.

(the boys are hams just like their dad!)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Recipe - Orange Sesame Pork Chops with Whole Wheat Teriaki Noodles

This is a recipe that originally came from Rachael Ray. I have tweaked it a bit to make it cheaper and tastier. Greg is a big fan of pork chops; I am not so much a fan. However, I have found a couple meals to make with pork chops that I like, and this is one of those. This is one of the best tasting Chinese meals that I make, and as a bonus it uses healthy whole wheat noodles.

Orange Sesame Pork Chops with Whole Wheat Teriaki Noodles

1 pound whole wheat or whole grain spaghetti
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 boneless pork loin chops,
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons orange marmalade
6 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 bag frozen stir fry vegetables

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta and cook the pasta to al dente. While the pasta cooks, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. On a plate mix together flour, salt and pepper. Roll the chops in the flour mixture. Place chops in skillet, cooking the first side about 6 minutes, then flip and cook 4-5 minutes on the second side. Remove the chops to a plate and reserve; cover with foil. Add 3 tablespoons orange marmalade, a couple tablespoons teriyaki sauce and 1/4 cup of water to the pan; bring the sauce to a bubble and combine for 1 minute, then stir in sesame oil remove from heat. While the chops cook, heat a second skillet with 3 tablespoons oil over medium high heat. Stir fry the vegetables until cooked. Drain the pasta and toss with the stir fry vegetable and remaining teriyaki sauce, about 1/4 cup. Top the pork chops with the orange-sesame glaze. Serve the teriyaki noodles alongside.

Visiting Geepa

During the first weekend of October we took a trip to Ely, Nevada to visit Greg's dad, Kelly, or Geepa (Grandpa) according to Palmer. The actual driving was pretty rough. It only takes a couple hours on the road to remind me why we do not take road trips with our kids often. Plus, Brody had contracted some sort of stomach bug, which made for a lot of pulling over and a lot of blowouts! Poor kid, poor car seat, poor van seat (that's right, it was to bad that it dripped down through the slats in the carseat onto the actual bench seat of the van).

Once we arrived, we had a great time! We played pool, hot tubbed, played Wii, visited with Kelly's friends, and ate and ate and ate. Greg and Kelly went out four wheeling Saturday afternoon. They went to the tip of the nearby mountain. I did not get a chance to four wheel do to a badly timed migraine (boo). But I am glad Greg got in some good quality time with his Dad.

Palmer had a hard time not touching all of Grandpa Kelly's nice stuff, and Brody continued to fill diaper after diaper which lead to a very sore bum, but all in all the boys had a great time as well. They must have played pretty hard because they both took a turn napping on the drive home (thank goodness!). Until next time Grandpa Kelly.