Monday, September 27, 2010

Toddler Struggle

I love the baby stage. I love everything about it, the cuddles, the coos, the predictable schedule, the knowledge that you can provide all they need. It is a perfect fit for me.

The toddler stage... not the best fit for me. The mess, the attitude, the whining, the defiance, the unpredictable mood swings, the wildly released energy - just about drive me to the loony bin. I'm not saying that having a baby is all daisies and sunshine. Parenthood is hard, at any stage. A baby's cry can definitely grate on one's nerves. However, I feel that it is nothing compared to a toddler's screaming tantrum.

Palmer was just about the best baby I've known. He was always happy and always smiling. I know that he is still a good kid, and that his current behavior now is normal and it is conducive to the stage he is in. After all, he is two, and twos are known to be terrible. Yet, I can't help my own struggle with the toddler years. I feel that I am frustrated with him far more than I should be. Greg and I both find ourselves yelling at him, and we aren't yellers. When I was watching children at home, the mother of one of those children told me that her daughter said I never yelled at them, unlike their own mother. I remember at the time feeling really good about that. I remember feeling proud of myself that I could discipline with such kindness and control. Well, apparently I only have these superior parenting skills with other people's children, because lately I catch myself raising my voice far too often. He tests me over and over again. Most of the time I handle it well and set firm boundaries. Fairly often I lose patience and it shows. And every once in a while I just stare at him utterly bewildered, having no idea what to do.

Please don't get me wrong. I love my curious and energetic two year old more than words can describe. We have a lot of fun, and I love how quickly he is learning and growing. He cracks me up with his silly little mannerisms. I just wish I knew how to better deal with all too frequent rough patches that come along with these toddler years. Any advice out there? Please send it on my way.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Super Saturday Santa's Workshop

I received a new calling last month. I am now the Relief Society Activities chairperson. I've been on the board for a year and a half, so I sort of know what I am getting myself into. We are having a Super Saturday entitled Santa's Workshop on November 13 from 10 am - 1 pm. I designed these two fun crafts for the event.

Christmas Countdown Muffin Tin - price $8.50,

a fun magnetic advent that holds a little treat to commemorate each day until Christmas

Santa's Cookie Plate - price $2.00, not only is this inexpensive

(and with a few cookies on top makes a great neighbor gift),

but it only takes about a minute to put together

My oh-so-talented neighbor, Kristina, made up some darling felt ornaments that we are also offering. We'll have a humanitarian project there for the sisters to work on. There will be two mini-classes: holiday cooking and a creative gift wrapping class (taught by my fabulous sister London!). Brunch and nursery will be provided. Anyone is invited!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Lion King

Saturday Greg and I had the opportunity to see the broadway production of The Lion King at The Capital Theater. Greg had purchased the tickets back in June for my birthday, so I've been anxiously waiting for months to see it. It turned out to be far worth the wait; it was amazing! We had great seats, half-way back on the floor. The timing was lovely as well, our first time out together since his returned from his eight day business trip. I have had the chance to see a couple other broadway plays (The Phantom of the Opera and Beauty in the Beast), so I knew this one would likewise be spectaular. The acting, singing, and choreography were marvelous, but the costumes and design far supassed anything I could imagine. It was by far the most visually astounding creation I've seen!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Recipe - Chocolate Coconut No Bake Cookies

Last year, when I was called to be a Relief Society teacher I decided I wanted to bring a homemade treat for the sisters with each lesson I taught. The motive was a bit selfish; I felt that it took some of the pressure off of me. Even if I bombed the lesson, I knew the sisters would appreciate me teaching since I brought something good to eat. It took one lesson for Greg, who teaches Elders Quorum, to remark that he wished he too had goodies for his lessons. So, I agreed to make treats for his lessons as well. I only teach Relief Society every other month, meaning just six times a year, and half of those have been scheduled on a fast Sunday. Greg teaches every month, and always on the third Sunday. So, the Elders have received far more of my treats than the sisters. These yummy cookies are what I made for Elders Quorum this Sunday (as a bonus they were a nice quick fix since I didn't remember to make Greg's treat until 10:00 last night).

Chocolate Coconut No Bake Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup coconut

In large sauce pan melt butter. Stir in milk. Stir in sugar, cocoa and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter, chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir until melted. Stir in oats and coconut, Drop by teasoons onto wax paper. Let stand about an hour, until set.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Getting through the Moments

The kids and I made it through our week without Greg. In fact, he is on his way home from his business trip right now. Hooray! I am as giddy as a school girl. In five years we have never been apart this long. And honestly, it was rough, on the both of us, as well as the boys. We truly do enjoy spending every moment possible together, and a week without Greg left out far too many of those moments, such as:

Sad moments: Palmer asking for his dad daily, and when told he was at work replied, "Dada work a lot!" or "I work too." - Going to sleep all by my lonesome - Eating dinner by myself since by the time I get myself served, the boys are just about finished eating.

Silly moments: A lot of peek-a-boo and tickles

Fun moments: Getting a babysitter and going with my sister to the scrapbook expo. - Eating lunch at Chic-fil-A - Playing at the park. - Making strawberry peach jam with my sister and our friend Tammy.

Scary moments: Losing Palmer after work on Wednesday night. As we were clocking out, he and my co-worker's daughter ran out the backroom's back door and then apparently out the automatic front doors. After a crew of us checked everywhere for them, my co-worker finally found them outside, in the pitch dark, playing in the park on the other side of the parking lot. Scariest ten minutes of my life!

Exhausting moments: Doing two kids' bedtime routine. - During the first few days of Greg's absence the boys were so insecure and clingy that they would not eat or play unless they were doing so on my lap. - Carrying Brody, the diaper bag, two plates of food and holding Palmer's hand while heading to the Ward Picnic and many other outings that required just as much hauling.

Sweet moments: Letting Palmer stay up late so that we could cuddle on the couch together. - Palmer talking to Greg on the phone and telling him he loves him. - Getting to talk to my hubby before going to bed.

Saving moments: Nancy offering to watch the boys during my Relief Society Planning meeting. - Dropping the kids off at the gym child care so that I could workout and have a little time to myself. - London offering to watch Palmer so that I could take a morning nap with Brody.

Pathetic moments: Pushing my exhausted self to the gym in order to run the slowest mile I ever have. - Tearing up in the produce section of Walmart, the second store I had dragged two very cranky and tired kids to, because they were also out of strawberries.

Milestone moment: Brody crawled for the first time!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Recipe - Strawberry Peach Jam

I have not cooked much with Greg gone this week. I'm sort of in survival mode, and don't see too much point in making big homecooked meals when my boys are just as happy with macaroni and cheese. The small amount of food preparation that I have done has mostly been for fun and for my benefit. This strawberry peach jam was definitely fun, and definitely to my benefit because it is absolutely scrumptious! My sister London got a great deal on a lot of peaches, and I was more than happy to help use them up. She and our friend Tammy came to my home yesterday and we spent the afternoon jamming away.

Strawberry Peach Jam

4-1/4 cups prepared fruit (about 1 qt. fully ripe strawberries and 1-1/2 lb. fully ripe peaches)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 box Sure Jell Fruit Pectin
1/2 tsp. Butter or margarine
6 cups Sugar, measured into separate bowl

Bring boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain jars well before filling.

Stem and crush strawberries thoroughly, one layer at a time. Measure exactly 2-1/4 cups prepared strawberries into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot. Peel, pit and mash peaches. Measure exactly 2 cups prepared peaches into strawberries in saucepot. Stir in lemon juice.

Stir pectin into prepared fruit in saucepot. Bring mixture to full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Eleven Months Old

Brody has had four new teeth pop through this past month, which brings his total tooth count to 10. He's been a bit clingy with the teething, and a bit more solemn than his usually smiley self. He wants to move around so very much, but still hasn't figured out how to crawl. Every day we think he is going to finally do it; he's so close. Although he is totally recovered, his accident put him a bit behind in regards to his physical development. However, I don't mind that for the time being he just sits - keeps him my little baby for just a bit longer. This is what Brody is doing at eleven months of age.

He has learned: to scoot and pivot on his bottom and to say his version of bye-bye - "dye-dye"

He likes: sippy cups, keys, cell phones/remotes/computer cords/any type of electronic, goldfish crackers, grapes, ice cream, baths, tickles, peek-a-boo, playing with Palmer, kisses and cuddles

He dislikes: being left alone and waiting to eat

Things he does that makes us laugh: funny faces, fake chuckling, open and close his lips like a fish, real hearty laughs and big cheesy smiles

Friday, September 10, 2010

Happy for Him, Sad for Me

Greg continues to do well and impress at his new job. A couple times now, some big stuff has come down on Greg from the big wigs at corporate, and his boss as well as his boss' boss are quick to stick up for him. This doesn't surprise me much; Greg is just an all-around great, friendly guy. However, it's always nice to be appreciated. He works hard and he loves his work. He hardly notices the 60+ hours a week he's been putting in.

Greg's boss chose Greg to accompany him on a week long business trip to Las Vegas and San Jose. He'll be doing some maintenance work on the company's servers and some extra training. He was thrilled with the opportunity. I have been not so thrilled, but have tried to be supportive. He left this morning, and I am missing him already. I don't know when the kids will realize he is gone, but I know once they do, they will likewise be very sad.

I'm a little nervous about taking care of the boys on my own for an entire week (sadly some of my help: my dad, step-mom and sister will be out of town in Ohio at the same time). Funny, I know, since I watch them all day long, every day. Yet, there is something to be said about knowing that once Greg gets home, even if it is a 8:00 pm, I can tell him to take over as I take a shower, fix dinner or just plain veg out for a half hour without having to change a diaper, fill a sippy cup, comfort a fussy baby or play with playdough. I told Greg the other night that the fact that I am stressed about him leaving is a testament of just what a good, and involved, father he really is. So wish me luck. I do have a few plans up my sleeve, and a couple babysitters arranged to help us pass the time.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Eleven Month Photo Shoot

This photo shoot was a bit rough. We had a new photographer. She took a few good shots with him just sitting and then tried moving Brody in unnatural positions for additional poses. Kiddie Kandids did this when I have used them in the past, while JC Penney's photographers never have before. My kids take much better pictures when they can be themselves. Brody would have nothing to do with the fake posing, and cried for the remainder of the session. Oh well, at least we were able to get a couple good shots. And since I wasn't tempted to buy extra poses, the session turned out to be my cheapest one yet. I spent a total of $1.25 for the two sheets I bought to document his eleventh month. Can't complain about that.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Gardens at Thanksgiving Point

Ahhhh... Fresh air. Soft, green grass. Rolling hills. Rushing waterfall. Flowing fountains. Still ponds. Colorful, fragrent blosoms. Blue sky. Light breeze. Happy little boys in a stroller. My hubby by my side. Absolute perfection!

This was just what I, correction, what we as a family, needed. The boys have been tired and cranky. Greg and I have been tired and cranky. On Tuesday especially, all that grouchiness seemed to be in full swing: neither Palmer nor Brody had napped, Brody had a cold, and Greg and I were feeling overworked and underappreciated and were snapping at each other and the children. How very, very glad I am that we decided to go forward, and visit the gardens as planned. All the stresses of life seemed to drift away as we strolled along talking, smiling and looking on in wonderment at all the loveliness our world has to offer.