Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Help

I read the best book, and I have to share! My ward's book group just finished reading and discussing The Help by Kathryn Stockett. In a word, this book is phenomenal. It is so well written, has such wonderful well-rounded characters, and grabs your instantly. I stayed up until 2:00 am twice when reading this book because I could not put it down. It's about three women who live in Mississippi in the 1960s: two black maids, and a young white aspiring female writer. It may just be my new favorite book... I'm still processing it. Also, I'm having difficulty giving up my long running absolute favorite book Cry, the Beloved Country. But if I'm being honest, The Help was such an amazing read that, in my book, it has at least earned it's place side by side with Alan Paton's classic.

My sister called me today to discuss the novel, as she had just completed it. I was worried I had over hyped it for her and that she would be disappointed, but she loved it as well. She also said, "It might be my new favorite book." Funny how alike we are in our stubbornness to give up our longtime favorites.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday was lovely. The boys wore their matching Easter outfits (which I was able to get for $1.00 a piece on clearance!) to church. Brody spent his second Sunday in nursery along with Palmer. He did better this week, and only came crying to us once. The Easter bunny came after church and the boys each received a game, a movie and a chocolate covered marshmallow egg from the Young Women fundraiser.

We had a dinner with the Nichols side of the family at the Riding home. Pappy and Grandma Betty gave the boys a basket full of candy and a stuffed bunny/duck. London did an impressive egg hunt for the kids. She had so much loot in her backyard that all the adults had to help to bring it all in. The boys got a bunch of toys (coloring books, a Singamajig, Bandaids, a punching balloon, play dough, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, etc.) and a gallon sized bag of candy each!

I tried to explain the atonement and resurrection to Palmer, but I don't think he is able to grasp it yet, even in its simplest terms. I appreciate Easter, not only for the fun and candy, but more so for the opportunity we have to remember our Savior - that He died for us, that He was resurrected and that He lives!

"The greatest man in history, named Jesus, had no servants, yet they called Him master. Had no degrees, yet they called Him teacher. Had no medicines, yet they called Him healer. He had no army, yet kings feared Him. He won no military battles, yet He conquered the world. He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him. He was buried in a tomb, yet He lives today!" - Author Unknown

Swinging Good Times

A slide + a fort + a picnic table + a sand box + 2 swings + a glider + a trampoline = heaven for our boys!

Meet the newest addition to our backyard - the Hess family swing set. It took Greg, my father and our next door neighbor five hours on Saturday to set up this monster, but it was worth it! The boys have been outside having a swinging good time every moment they get. We all love it! Anyone want to schedule a play date at our house?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Potty Training Success

We started potty training Palmer about a week and a half ago. This was our second attempt to do so.

I tried to follow the Toilet Training in Less Than A Day system last time. It sort of worked. He did well the first day, but the next morning he pooped for the first time on the potty, was totally traumatized, and refused to sit on a potty again. He is also a pretty smart cookie, and had already learned to manipulate the system. The program instructs to reward your child with candy often for being clean and dry. Palmer quickly realized as long as he stayed clean and dry long enough, he would be able to get his candy regardless of if he went in the potty at all.

So, we gave him time, and six months later, used a much more relaxed approach. As before, I didn't make a big deal about accidents and got really excited when he did have success. However this time, we just gave him verbal praise for staying clean and dry, and reinforced him peeing on the potty with candy or a special drink. In order to get him over his fear, I knew the reinforcement for going poop on the potty would have to be upped. We let him pick a small toy (bubbles, coloring book, bouncy ball, stickers, etc.) from a bag of "poop prizes." It worked like a charm. Honestly, this time potty training was a piece of cake! I should have listened to all my friends who said to wait to train a boy until he is three. Obviously, last time he wasn't ready and this time he was. After four days of training, he was a pro. He is now wearing his big boy underwear both day and night, everywhere we go, without accidents. Way to go Palmer!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tea Party

My sister was up to it again, and planned a lovely tea party last week which I had to opportunity to attend. London served sassafras tea, croissant sandwiches with relishes, pasta salad and some beautifully decorated cupcakes. The tables was decorated with fresh flowers, white china, and handcafted placecards made from forget me not seeds.

Everyone was told to wear a spring hat, and that prizes would be awarded for the most beautiful and the most creative. I made mine based on a tutorial I found here, and won most creative. London's new neighbor in the stunning white hat with feathers won most beautiful.

I absolutely adore my sister and her fabulous parties! She so reminds me of my mom in that aspect. What a lovely afternoon those party planning talents of hers can create!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Marjorie Pay Hinckley

  • "We women have a lot to learn about simplifying our lives. We have to decide what is important and then move along at a pace that is comfortable for us. We have to develop the maturity to stop trying to prove something. We have to learn to be content with what we are."

  • "I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden. I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived."

  • "Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

  • "The trick is to enjoy life. Don't wish away your days, waiting for better ones ahead."

  • "The grand and the simple. They are equally wonderful."

  • "The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache."

  • "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, 'Wow what a ride!'"

  • I just love this woman! Everyone of these profound quotes makes my heart happy and brings a smile to my face. Is she not the best?

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Fortune Aligns

    A couple nights ago Greg and I spent about 20 minutes searching for the Bluray player remote, to no avail. We suspect the culprit of the lost remote to be Brody, who has a fascination for all things electronic and often relocates them. We gave up and sat down to watch some television. Greg grabbed a couple fortune cookies (we currently have a plethora of fortune cookies thanks to a work prank wherein his coworkers filled his desk drawers with all the remaining condiments from a company catered Chinese meal) for a snack and received the following fortune:

    Nice to know that fortune is smiling upon us, and that we will once again see our remote. However, I really hope it does not take a month to find it!

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    18 Months Old

    Brody is now 18 months old. Our baby is getting so big, in fact, he's not even a baby anymore. He finally started walking at 16 months. However, he still at times prefers to walk on his knees. He had a huge growth spurt and has lost all his cute baby chubs. He is now long and lean, just like his big brother. Brody is such a funny little boy. He is a big ham, and loves to be silly and cheese it up. He also has the sweetest little heart ever. He loves to show love and be loved. He is all about snuggles, hugs, kisses and cuddles. He can be very clingy, especially with me. Here are the stats on Brody at 18 months of age.

    Height: 33 3/4 inches - 87%, Weight: 23 lb. 4 oz. - 17%, Head Circumference: 42%

    He has learned: to walk, to climb, to dance, to say many words (mama, dada, ball, milk [muh], banana [nana], bye, hi, hello, thank you, thanks, cheese, Elmo [Lala - derived from the theme song], uh oh, go, whoa, bubble, marble, good, outside [side] and dog), to use utensils when eating - even better than his brother, to point to most of his body parts, to communicate what he needs (most of the time), high fives, kisses, to throw away garbage, and wipe down tables.

    He likes: playing with his brother, milk, cereal, baths, being naked, going to the park, bubbles, cuddling, being swaddled in blankets, his teddy bear or anything soft and fuzzy, electronics (especially remotes, phones, keyboards and wires) books, music, being held, Elmo and Veggie Tales.

    He dislikes: mom leaving the room, traveling longer than fifteen minutes, and having to sit still.

    Things he does that makes us laugh: love bites given to Mom and Dad and any stuffed animal or fluffy thing, dances to music, holds telephones to the back of his head, gives a mischievous smile when he knows he is doing something he shouldn't, pats his hair when crying, big cheesy grins and hearty laughs.

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    Conference Weekend

    The older I get, the more I appreciate and love General Conference. Ironically, the older I get, the more difficult I find my circumstances to actually be able to watch and pay attention to conference.

    We outright missed all of Saturday's conference. Greg had worked a whopping 23 1/2 hour work shift the day before and was very much still recovering. Greg was on call Saturday and had to wake early to work from home. He very sweetly said I could sleep in since he had to be up anyway. During the time Greg was working, Palmer was extremely busy making a huge mess! When Greg was finally able to crash into bed, and I awoke to take over with the children I found: permanent marker all over our refrigerator, and most items inside our refrigerator, an inch of water covering half our kitchen floor, a bowl of Fruity Cheerios and milk dumped on the carpet in our office as well as glitter dumped on the carpet and throughout the drawers of my scrapbooking supplies. It took a very long time to clean everything up. (F.Y.I. - gasoline and a magic eraser is about the only thing that will take permanent marker of a refrigerator.) Greg was still on call and exhausted Saturday evening, so was unable to make it to the priesthood session.

    Sunday morning conference I was a bit more prepared. The boys painted, to their utter delight and Greg and I did our best to catch what we could. When President Monson spoke I told Palmer, "That is President Monson. He is the prophet and he speaks for Heavenly Father." Palmer excitedly replied, "I know Heavenly Father too!" His comment warmed my heart. Seems like we must be doing something right in our often desperate parenting.

    Sunday afternoon the boys went down for their naps, so we were able to really soak in the messages. And how lovely those messages were! They seemed as they were prepared just for us. For sure, our prophet and apostles are called of God. And what a mindful Heavenly Father we have. He knows our struggles, our trials and our needs, and finds ways to send us comfort and answers to those hardships during the 1/5 of General Conference that we are able to pay attention to, a tender mercy indeed. I do look forward to reading the talks that I missed, but take joy in the small portion that I was able to hear.

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Perfect Day

    I awoke this morning naturally, without an alarm, feeling refreshed from a full night of sleep. Greg received a call from his boss saying he could take a paid day off since he's been working so hard and so much. The boys slept in until 9:00 am, so Greg and I had a relaxing breakfast in bed. Palmer and Brody awoke in a cheerful mood. They quickly got dressed for the day without any promptings or help. Greg offered to do some cleaning and the boys played quietly and didn't make any additional mess as I took a long hot shower. Greg and I went to the gym, dropping off the boys in the daycare. My coworkers were thrilled with the opportunity to spend more time with my well-behaved children. Greg and I got in an invigorating five mile run. For the first time, I ran faster than my husband. We then went shopping with some extra money we have lying around. I bought several new items of clothing, Greg bought a laptop and we bought the boys a trampoline and a couple of bikes. We picnicked at the park; the weather was lovely, sunny and warm with a nice breeze. The boys went down for a three hour nap willingly. A pair of masseuses came to the house and gave each of us an hour long massage. Then I spent an hour scrapbooking while Greg took on a few home improvement projects that took less time than predicted and came in under budget. The babysitter showed up and Greg and I went out for a night on the town. We dined at an expensive restaurant with many of our friends and then took romantic carriage ride, just the two of us, holding hands. We came home to giggling boys who greeted us with hugs and kisses. The boys got in their pajamas in a timely manner. Together, we all read a bedtime story and had family prayer. The boys made sure to listen quietly and remained reverent throughout the entire prayer. We all said we loved each other and after more hugs and kisses, Palmer and Brody put themselves to bed. Greg and I ended the evening by playing a few rounds of Boogle, and watched a chick flick while sharing a Brownie Obsession from TGI Fridays. We were able to retire to bed early.

    Alright, so this isn't honestly how my day went... at all. However, there are 365 days in a year. The average person lives 28,178 of those days. One of those days has to eventually go somewhat like this.

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    Rough and Tumble Boys

    I grew up in a household of girls. I know how to deal with fighting over bathroom time, passive-aggressiveness and girl drama. I knew I'd be out of my element raising boys, what I didn't realize is how quickly the wildness and roughhousing would set in. Palmer (who not even three years old) and Brody (who is not even 1 1/2 years old) have been already begun tackling, pinning, and wrestling with each other regularly. They have become some very rough and tumble little boys. It's usually Palmer who instigates the rough play, but there has been many times when I have gone to intervene and it is Brody who I find happily lying atop a screaming Palmer with a proud smile lighting up his face. A few weeks ago I happened upon a darling picture perfect moment where Greg was holding Palmer and Palmer was holding Brody. They were all cuddling and giggling and making my heart melt. I quickly tracked down the camera to take a picture of my three favorite guys being oh so adorable. After several snaps of the lens; these were the best I could get.

    Even in a moment of joy and snuggles Palmer and Brody could not hold back those rough and tumble boy tendencies.