Thursday, December 9, 2010

HOV Bliss

I have found more perks to being a mom.

Yesterday I had to run a lot of errands and Sander has come into a phase where he hates being in the back of the car by himself. You can imagine the stress of a happy, smiling baby in the store transforming into the Demon of Chaos and Screaming every time I put him in the back of the car to go on our next errand.

After I went to the doctor's, Michaels, Costco and Walmart I was mentally at my wits end. My patience meter was quickly running out in direct proportion to the monstrous headache pushing in.

I know, you are wondering how this blog started out with the perks of motherhood and then started spinning horribly into a parallel dimension. Well, the perks came on the drive home.

As I was driving home at 6:30 p.m. in rush hour traffic on the highway, I wistfully looked over into the nice, clear HOV lane where all the cars were wooshing by and wished I could be wooshing too.

Then, the thought occurred to me! Sander technically counts as another entity! I can use the HOV lane now!

Needless to say I zipped on over and as I blissfully got up to speed I left behind the last six hours of screaming baby with all those single-passenger cars stuck in the traffic.

See ya suckas!

Like I said, HOV Bliss.

Sunday Romp

This past Sunday was a B-E-A-utiful day in Utah! The cold, grimy weather broke for one day of shiny, chilly goodness.

After I got home from church, Sander went down for a nap, Casey and I had lunch and we decided to take advantage of the weather and go on a walk. What started as a nice, leisurely walk through the neighborhood somehow turned into a romp in the hilly easement behind our house.

It was extremely exhilarating to be outside in the sunshine after being cooped up inside by the cold, wet weather for so long. My inner child came out to play and, in a most unlady-like fashion, jumped over hills, ran though weeds and balanced on rocks while laughing and talking with my best friend (that's Casey btw.) We played until we found the baby monitor's range limit and then headed back home. (The monitor actually got pretty far! It was quite impressive!)

I was wearing a orange and pink sweater, a black skirt and; to complete the ensemble; a pair of beat-up, dusty tennis shoes- the epitomized picture of a tom boy. People looking down from their balconies at us probably thought they were watching and listening to a couple of kids play around in the easement between houses instead of two responsible adults taking a break from the cares of life to enjoy the sunshine.

The experience was actually quite liberating. It has been too long since I have thrown off my adult facade and let my inner child run free.

As we sat panting on our front steps, leaning against each other for support and listening to our baby's quiet breathing as he slumbered blissfully in his swing, I realized that life is good. In that moment, life was perfect. AND, in honor of the experience, I have coined my own phrase, or rather, I suppose it is one of my philosophies for life:

"Responsibility is what makes life run smoothly, Spontaneity is what keeps life fun."

You need a little bit of each in life and as long as you keep things in balance, life will be good. :0)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Live Christmas Nativity

This past Friday December 3, Casey, Sander and I went to the Live Nativity in Alpine!

It was a lot of fun too! You drive to a church and park your car and they have little buses or trailers that take you over to the nativity. Once you get off the bus a shepherd greets you and tells you the beginning of Christ's story. He tells you why Mary and Joseph needed to return to Bethlehem and encourages you to think about the three visitors Christ received the night of his birth. The visitors brought gifts with them; what gifts do we bring to the Savior this Christmas season?

As you follow the string of lights up the path (the very muddy path! It's a good thing we bought an outdoor stroller because Sander was totally off-roading!) you see centurions on horses and shepherd men and women.


Then you are led into a barn where there are various animals and people dressed in the style of the period, performing tasks such as working leather, baking bread, measuring rice, working wood etc.

There were camels!

And carpenters!


And swans!

and sheep!

And to top it all off, a live nativity with a brand new baby! Carolers stood in a balcony above singing Christmas songs. The whole atmosphere was very uplifting and really helped me feel the spirit of the season.

After you walk through there is yummy hot chocolate to warm your hands and tummy with. When Casey and I finished walking through we were talking about what a fun, family outing the experience had been when we came upon a HUGE line to ride the trailers back to the church!

We thought- no way are we going to stand out here in the cold for 20 minutes waiting for a bus! We're walking!

It only took about 7 minutes for us to get back to our car and it was a fun little adventure. The exercise kept us nice and warm but there was definitely some more off-roading!

Sander and Casey successfully returned to the car!

But it got my new boots all muddy! :(

Overall a really fun Christmas activity, but I'll have to reserve total judgment until I get my boots clean!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Ideal- What's Wrong with It?

I have been thinking long and hard about "the ideal." In fact, I was so deep in thought in the shower that I almost washed my face twice! Or maybe I had already washed it twice and I stopped myself on the third go around......

Anyway. I have been thinking about Ideals, more specifically, the Ideal of a family unit. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released The Family: A Proclamation to the World in September 1995. In that document they talk about the ideal family unit with a mother and a father who each have unique and divine qualities and responsibilities.

Some people have a problem with ideals because they feel that ideals are essentially unattainable and therefore depressing because people always feel like they are failing or falling short. Many people in the world today are spouting theories or amoral relativity. In other words, there are no ideals, there is no right way. It is all about what ever works for you and what you think is best.

The latter part of that statement I agree with- conditionally. But, it needs some tweaking.

Ideals are great things. Ideals are things that are meant to be striven for- not necessarily obtained. Remember the saying: "Shoot for the moon. Then, if you fall short, you will at least hit the stars." If we, as a society, do not have an ideal and strive to maintain it, then the natural entropic forces of life will degrade the ideal further. It is only but putting in the work, striving for the ideal, fighting against entropic forces, that we can resist the natural degradation of society.

I understand that there are many different types of people and families and, ultimately, you have to do what works for you. Each person has to evaluate their circumstances and do the best that they can, but that doesn't mean that they cannot hold the ideal as a distant goal.

I know some people who don't want to have children, and that's fine. That is their choice. But, personally, the people that I know that don't want to have kids, don't want kids because they had home lives that were screwed up in some way and they don't want to inflict, what they view as a normal childhood, on children of their own. And maybe that is noble. But, just because we are born into circumstances doesn't mean that we are not allowed to change them or rise above them.

Maybe, ideally, if these people grew up in homes with a mother and father who were patient, loving and kind, then they would understand the joy that can come from being part of a family unit and they would want to have kids. But, life often finds us short of our ideal preferences.

Maybe, if our society didn't define our contributions to our families by our gross income, women would find more joy in being mothers and staying home to raise their kids. It is SO naive to believe that the most and best thing a woman and a man can contribute to their families is money. We have so much more to give- why does society limit us in this way?!?

I went through this struggle. I left college early because I got married and my husband got a job in Texas. I freaked out. What are people going to think of me if I have kids and don't finish college? What am I going to say when people ask me what I do and I have no professional career accomplishments to share with them? Am I always going to have to bear that hidden scorn that people are always one second two slow to hide from my discerning eye?

Well, guess what? I know who I am, and I know what is important. Yes, I was married at 19. Yes, I have a son. No, I haven't finished my degree. Yes, I will graduate by April 2011 because I believe a quality education is important. I defy society to tell me that because I will be a stay-at-home mother that I am wasting my life and my talents in a position that is little better than a slave or a maid. (Which I also disagree with. Being a Mom requires sacrifice and selflessness but the rewards are great. I find that when I struggle most as a mother, it is because I am being selfish in some way or another. Selfisness- an indulgence I gave up when I decided to raise a child- for the most part. (-:)

Society- you don't get it. There are seasons of life. When I was single, I could try to have a career and change the world. When my children are grown I can try to have a career and change the world- if I want. Right now, I have a son. And I plan to have more children, and at this season in my life I am going to be a Mom. A Super Duper Mom.

"The Hand that Rocks the Cradle is the Hand that Rules the World." Mothers raise the next generation. If all the women are out, working, and leaving their children to be raised by other people- then they are giving up their chance to influence the next generation. Some mothers choose to work, and some mothers have to work and that is fine. You have to do what You have to do.

But that doesn't mean that there cannot be an ideal and that we cannot strive for it to the best as our circumstances will allow us to.

Let's hold onto our ideals. Let's strive for our ideals and in so doing, make the world a better place.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sweepstakes Sabotage

So, Food Network is doing a Spice Up Your Season Pie Sweepstakes. Don't bother going to the site! The Sweepstakes is already over.

I found out about the Sweepstakes almost two months ago but I have waited to blog about it until now so that I would not sabotage my chances of winning!

The prize is $4,500 and TEN Food Network Cookbooks.

Forget the cash! I want the recipes!

I don't expect to win because I have terrible luck when it comes to sweepstakes, raffles, or anything of the sort. (Just ask my husband if you don't believe me. He doesn't even come near me after his bike races before they do the raffle because my bad luck rubs off on him and he doesn't win anything!) BUT! I did diligently enter my information into the contest almost everyday from the time that I got the e-mail notification until the Sweepstakes ended on November 29.

Now, get this- after an entrant inputs their personal information and submits it into the sweepstakes a new page pops up saying, "Thank You for Entering the Spice Up Your Season Pie Sweepstakes!" Then it has a Facebook, Twitter and MySpace Like/Share button off to the side and it prompts you to: "Tell Your Friends About The Sweepstakes!"

Wait........ WHAT?

My chances of winning the sweepstakes are considerable diminished every time someone submits an entry and you want me to sabotage myself by telling my friends to enter your Sweepstakes?! What Food Network!? Are YOU Crazy?!?

Thus ends my evil plan to delay my blogging about this Food Network Madness so as to give my already slim chances (due to my terrible luck) of winning the Sweepstakes and ALL TEN COOKBOOKS a small boost.

MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Judges pick the winners December 20th. I'll let you know what I get for my consolation prize for not getting picked.


.........................what do you mean losers don't get a consolation prize?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nursing Oddities

Sander has all of a sudden decided that he does not like to begin nursing from my right side.

If I attempt to start him on the right side, he will scream and wail until I put him on the left side. Only after he has nursed for awhile on the left will he allow me to transfer him to the right.

Except in the middle of the night. Then it doesn't matter which side I start him on.

What the frack?

I'll let you know if I figure out why Sander is so prejudiced.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I Did it on the Kitchen Floor

That's right. I did it on the kitchen floor. And when I say, "I did it on the kitchen floor" I mean I had an emotional breakdown. On the kitchen floor.

It's been a long week to say the least. Sander is going through another phase. After the Demon Child went on hiatus I had about three days worth of Angel Child before going straight to Insomniac Child. Thus, I have had very little sleep the past week while Sander gets me up every 2 - 3 hours and refuses to nap during the day.

He has no problem going to sleep, he just doesn't stay that way and the bags he is getting under his eyes have more layers than an obese person has chins.

But, I digress.

A couple of weeks ago I signed up to donate a 10 lb. bag of potatoes and a can of olives for some families in the neighborhood who are having financial hardships and are unable to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Or even dinner maybe. Sunday the sign-up sheet came around in church again and I looked at the date and time the dinner kits were being put together and then went home, and wrote it down on my calender like a good, responsible adult.

Monday night I got a call from my friend Heather reminding me that I signed up to bring some food which would need to be at the church at 7:00 p.m. so the kits could be put together and delivered. I smirked to myself, glancing at my calendar and said, "No worries. I've got it under control." ::Pat on my back:: I had bought the potatoes and olives on my weekly trip to the store, I had the time written down on my calendar so I wouldn't forget- what a good, responsible adult! ::Gold star on my chest::

Time warp to today.

Sander slept through the night and only woke me up once.... Sander is letting me exercise at my class without crying the whole time... Sander is going down for a nap so I can shower... THIS IS WONDERFUL!

Enter reality.

I'm making dough for rolls, I'm peeling, chopping, and baking sweet potatoes for the Zaugg-Evenson family Thanksgiving tomorrow, Sander is crying and ridiculously tired but won't stay asleep in his Rock N' Play. I'm running back and forth trying to melt butter and brown sugar and mash sweet potatoes while trying to comfort Sander long enough to take a nap... nope... maybe if I let him cry it out a little bit he will go back to sleep..... nope....ok.....:::rock rock Sander, shh shh Sander, it's ok- Sander sleeps so I put him down:::: oh no! I forgot about the brown sugar and butter on the stove! Whew, it's not burned. :::: Sander cries::: ugh! :: Turn off the heat on the stove, pour brown sugar over sweet potatoes, try to mash second batch of sweet potatoes with a large metal grill spatula, that was a stupid idea, throw that in the sink. Sander is crying. Throw sweet potatoes into the Vita-Mix because that can blend anything! Except apparently sweet potatoes. Crap, they probably need to cook more because they aren't soft enough. I'm done! I can't take it anymore! It will have to wait until tomorrow! ::Go pick up Sander and hold him for four hours so he can sleep because he is SO exhausted and I can feel a little less guilty about the bags under his eyes::::

Enter Casey who has had a rough day at work.

"You are going to have to wait to vent to me because right now I can't take it. I haven't eaten in nine hours, I need to feed him and put him to bed now that he has had his bath and is in his jammies."

Enter leftover Chinese food!

Yum Yum! Halfway through dinner and talking about our days I jump out of my seat because I realize that it is 9:36! The food was supposed to be a the church by 7! I grab my phone and try to call Heather to see if they are still at the church putting kits together or if I can deliver the potatoes after the fact or what.

Enter child on the phone.

I call Heather three times, every time a child picks up the phone and whispers unintelligibly into the phone. All I can hear is a bunch of background noise and what sounds like "Bye-Bye." UGH! Done with that.

I call my friend Tara hoping that she knows what is going on or who I can call to find out what is going on because she is in the Relief Society Presidency. Luckily, she answers the phone and I tell her that I have totally spaced the food drop and ask her if she knows if they are still at the church putting kits together.

She says, "Actually, we put the kits together last night but..."

"What????!! Isn't it Tuesday?" I look frantically at my neatly organized calendar hanging on the wall.

Tara: "No. It's actually Wednesday."

My husband is looking at me from over by the sink with a HUGE smile on his face and I completely collapse on the floor and sprawl out on my back to finish my idiotic conversation with Tara, who couldn't have been nicer.

She told me that everything worked out really well because a lot of people brought some extra things so I shouldn't worry about it. I'm a new mom, it happens.

I thanked her for being so nice and hung up the phone. Casey and I laughed about it really hard for a few minutes until I covered my face with my hands and realized that I am completely falling apart. WHERE DID MY BRAIN GO? I used to be so organized! So on top of things! Now my sweet potatoes won't mash and my attempts at being charitable have been ruined because my brain is GONE! Or malfunctioning. One of the two.

Casey pulled me up off the floor (literally, because my body decided it needed all of its energy to cry and so ceased functioning) and held me while I sobbed against his shoulder. He rubbed my back and told me how sweet I was, that I was wonderful and just had a lot on my mind, that he loves me more than anything, it's ok things aren't perfect, etc.

Finally I calmed enough to smile and Casey took me for cuddles in our amazingly soft and comfortable bed while he talked it all out. He's been working insanely long hours and we definitely needed the time to catch up and reconnect.

In my defense, I did remember. Just one day, two hours and thirty-six minutes late.

Thank the Lord for a husband who can comfort me when I've lost my mind and help me put the crumbled pieces of my organized, responsible, adult life back into some semblance of a working order with a few adjustments to compensate for worry, sleeplessness and all the other wonderful incidentals that come with becoming a parent.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I'm a Chicken- so sue me.

Yes, I admit it. I'm a chicken.

Last night I totally crumbled and let Sander sleep on my chest. (That's not why I'm a chicken though.) The pediatrician tells me that I need to get in the habit of putting my baby down when he is drowsy so he can learn to put himself to sleep or else life will just get harder as he gets older.

The thing is, he doesn't really have a hard time putting himself to sleep- he has a hard time staying that way. During the day I can only get him to nap for maybe an hour at a time before he wakes himself up thus ensuing a vicious cycle of fussy, sleepy baby that gets harder and harder to actually put back to sleep because he is so tired from his interrupted naps.

So I crumbled. When he fell asleep on my chest I decided I would just enjoy the moment.

Plus, he smells so delicious and his head is so soft! I love being able to cuddle him and bend my head to kiss him at a moment's whim because he is so close!

Unfortunately, once a child is sleeping on you, any movement will wake the child up. So, once I ran out of things to do on my computer I decided to watch something on hulu to entertain me while Sander finished his nap. Unfortunately, nothing really caught my eye until I saw Angel with that stud muffin David Boreanaz.


I've never really watched the series but I figured, why not, since I had nothing better to do since I was holding Sander. So I started streaming a random episode from Netflix (no commercials!) which turned out to be about a poltergeist. It's not until after I finish watching it that I realize that I am totally alone, in this really big house, during the night, with a killer poltergeist on the rampage forefront in my mind.

I have an extremely over-active imagination which is why I stay away from anything even remotely scary. (Earnest Scared Stupid scared the crap out of me for weeks when I was younger and I kept imagining that bus drivers head popping out at me from behind doors and inside chests of drawers.) But I really didn't think Angel would affect me- well, it did.

I called Casey like 4 times before I realized he wasn't going to answer his phone so I holed myself up nice and good in the upstairs TV room, with ALL the lights on, watching a happy-go-lucky movie from my childhood to distract me, Harriet The Spy. Casey finally called me and told me that he was going to be WAY late, like he has been every night this week because work has been insane, and I should probably just try not to think about it and get to bed.

Uh-uoh. No way. I can't walk down the hallway without feeling the constant urge to look behind me and there is NO WAY I am bending over the sink to wash my face just to look up in the mirror and see some scary dead woman standing behind me.

Eventually I was tired enough to go downstairs and get ready for bed- plus the incessant need to pump got the better of me. (There is NOTHING worse than having more milk than you can get rid of.)

I thought I was tired enough to get over my scare, but I still lay in bed reading with all the lights on until my husband came home at 11:45. Thank goodness! Finally I was able to sleep although I was plagued by nightmares half of the night....

No more Angel for me. I'm staying AWAY from scary stuff from now on!

Am I a wuss or what?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Demon Child on Hiatus

Ever since Sander got his first shots at his two month check up on Nov. 5 he has been like a demon child.

His naps have been in half hour intervals so he has ALWAYS been fussy and tired. This past week, if he has not been sleeping, eating or bathing, he has been crying. I have gotten maybe ten minutes of pleasantness each day where I can get those rewarding smiles and goos that make all of the other fussiness OK and, let me tell you, it has NOT been balancing out!

Usually the binkie is the only thing that always soothes him so it has been getting an extra workout this week. In desperation, I went to facebook to seek some answers. I posted, "Why in the past week is my baby suddenly inconsolable around 6 or 7 pm?" The general response seemed to be that he is learning to fight sleep so he is probably just really tired and having a hard time getting to bed.

Taking that advice in mind, I rolled up my sleeves and put Sander to be early that night. Right around six o'clock. It wasn't too bad, he was asleep and I felt pretty proud of myself! My baby was asleep before he could get too fussy and I would be able to get some me-time. Then, right at 6:30 pm I heard this terrible shriek coming from the nursery. It was like he was waking up to purposefully scream at me, just to spite me.

I tried to give him his binkie, but he just cried around it. I tried to rock him, walk around, put him on his tummy, but nothing worked for an extended period of time. Finally I got him to take his binkie and he sat with me until 8:30, sucking on it and looking mad at the world, but totally awake. Finally he went down.

This week I have also been trying to break him of the habit of falling asleep in my arms. The doctor at our two month check up said I need to put him down while he is drowsy so that he can learn to put himself to sleep because that will make our lives a lot easier in the long run. Well, Sander does that wonderfully when it is nighttime and everything is dark, but not so well in the daytime which could also be a contributing factor to the appearance of our demon child.

Finally, Saturday, a ray of sunshine broke through the clouds. Or rather, a ray of my old sweet Sander baby broke through the demon baby facade. Saturday was a clean house day and Sander slept most of the morning while Casey got in his bike ride and I did other chores around the house. Casey got home from his bike ride and I was able to finish cleaning the kitchen before Sander woke up. Then I thought, "oh no. He's awake. That means he'll need to be held and have his binkie in his mouth until he goes back down in a couple of hours and I won't get anything done!" So I went and picked Sander up and he cuddled up to me, put his head on my chest and tucked his little hands underneath his body and quietly looked around at the world while I walked around.

It was amazing! My sweet baby boy was back! Then, it got better! I put him down on his playmat in the nursery, which he used to hate, and he entertained himself while Casey and I cleaned our bedroom, the bathroom and the living room. Did I say it was amazing, because it was! I couldn't BELIEVE how good he was being. It continued all day and into the week. I had forgotten that he could ever be content while he was awake and not sucking on his binkie! Plus, he started going to sleep on his own after we laid him in the nursery, wrapped him up in a blanket, gave him his binkie and a kiss on the head and closed the door.

Looking back, it was a hard week. And the thing that made the difference for me was honestly scripture study. Studying my scriptures made the difference between being exhausted and frustrated at the end of the day and being exhausted but still patient at the end of the day.

Now Sander has come back better than ever. He is full of smiles and happiness and it seems like he as grown developmentally. I feel more like he is interacting with me and less like I am interacting with him and trying to draw a response. He seems much more engaged in our playtime and is doing new and exciting things every day!

Hallelujah! The demon child has gone and sweet Sander Jay has returned! Well, maybe the demon child isn't completely gone- I'm sure there will be relapses. But at least he is on hiatus. For now.


P'wnd!

That's right- Casey got Punk'd!

We recently signed up for Dish Network and when my friend came by to install it, he showed me how I can set up the Dish so that the TV in our family room and the old TV in our basement in front of our exercise equipment have dual capabilities- meaning that each TV can view a different channel at once. Or, I can set it the Dish so that both TV's share the screen so only one channel can be watched on both TV's.

Well, I couldn't miss a golden opportunity like that to mess with Casey! So, this Saturday while he was upstairs watching football with Sander and I was running on the treadmill I got the perfect opportunity.

I turned the TV on and saw that football was on and I realized that I had changed the mode from the Dual settings a little while ago so we were sharing a screen. I quickly flipped to the Guide and found a show that I knew Casey would NEVER watch and would hate having on his screen- 16 and Pregnant. To make it even better, right at the moment I changed the channel, a pregnant girl had her shirt up and she was inserting a new belly ring into her 8-month pregnant belly button. Casey of course, immediately flipped it back to football. And I, of course, immediately flipped it back to 16 and Pregnant.

After a few times of switching back and forth there was a long lull where 16 and Pregnant stayed on so I knew I was going to get it. Sure enough, a second later Casey clomped down the basement steps and said, "Are you jackin' with me??!"

I almost fell off the treadmill I was laughing so hard. I told him about the dual monitors and then he made me come upstairs and fix it so he could watch football while I finished working out.

It was awesome. :0)

Solving Marital Problems

Your voices have been heard! I've taken the common marital problems you have presented me with and provided easy and realistic solutions for you. Take a look:

Can't decide whether the toilet paper goes over the top or under? Easy-own a house with enough bathrooms that he can have his roll the way he likes it in his and you can have your roll the way you like yours. Or, do away with toilet paper all together and hook up a butt squirter where your TP roll used to be. That way you get a refreshing spray with every dump.

Can't decide how to squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube? Easy- stop brushing your teeth with toothpaste. Use baking soda and some hydrogen peroxide or better yet, don't brush your teeth at all. Just swish with sprite every night. Works just as well.

Can't decide how to load the dishwasher or whether the silverware should go up or down? - Easy. Use paper plates and bowls and eat with your hands. Paper comes from trees which means that paper plates are biodegradable and therefore earth friendly--much better than those earth-killer plastic plates you probably have in your cabinet. Plus, think of all that water you'll save by not running the dishwasher.

Can't decide how to fold your towels? Easy- don't use towels. Drip dry from your shower everyday. Sure, it might take a little longer but at least you will have less laundry.

Fighting over the remote control? Easy- have a fight to the death using only sharpened sticks. Winner gets complete control of the remote.

Can't decide whether to line up your shoes in the closet or next to the bed? Easy-mix them up and shove them all under the bed. That way it's like a game to find a matching pair every morning. Plus, you'll have more closet space for your ant farm.

You want to see other people but your spouse isn't OK with it? Easy- set up a secret lair in your basement closet where you can tap into the security cameras at the mall. That way you can see all the people you want. Fat people, skinny people, posers, skaters, teeny-boppers, Asians - you name it.

If you can think of any other marital problems that you just can't seem to solve, please, post here. I'm sure I'll have the perfect solution.




Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Otherworldly Experiences

I just finished reading The Message by Lance Richardson and Return from Tomorrow by George G. Ritchie with Elizabeth Sherrill.

The first book is about a man who was in a coma while completely on life support and the second is about a soldier who died for nine minutes. Each of them share the experiences they had while suspended from their earthly bodies and while each book is very different, there are a lot of commonalities between them. From the things I believe about the afterlife I believe that both are equally plausible and can work in harmony with each other.

Tuesday was my neighborhood book club (it was my first time going and I really had a good time! I love the ladies in my ward!) and we discussed these two books. One commonality that I love is the theme of love and compassion from our Savior. I have heard a few after-death experiences from people and they all seem to remember an overwhelming feeling of love and acceptance from the Savior who showed no judgment for their past mistakes. It was the guilty party that, when they reviewed their life and how their decisions impacted others, judged themselves. Both books also stressed the necessity for us to treat others with that same compassion by joyfully loving and serving our fellow man without restraint.

Another thing I really liked in The Message, is that he talked about how he was met by family members on the other side of the veil and he learned that, often when we are inspired to do something, or are protected from something, it is a family member on the other side who is there whispering to us or protecting us. In Return from Tomorrow he also describes people in a type of hell who are linked to this earth because of addictions, attitudes or behaviors. He describes another level above those consumed spirits that is filled with other people, reaching down and trying to minister to the spirits bound by their behaviors but the spirits don't notice the people ministering to them because they are so intent on back-biting or trying to get a smoke or another glass of alcohol. It occurred to me that, if I combine the perspective from both books, maybe the ministering people are also family members of those addicted spirits.

While we were speaking about family members ministering to us while we are on this earth I had an interesting thought about the car accident Casey and I were in as we moved here from Texas.

We were barely 15 minutes from our apartment, our car loaded down with the remainder of our earthly possessions when we were broadsided by another car going 30-40 mph. The car hit us right in the center of our wheels, crushing my seat and me along with it. The accident should have been a really bad one as Casey and I were told by the guy who towed our car. The tow guy didn't think that whoever had been in that passenger side would be walking around anytime soon and was amazed to find out that I was the passenger. I escaped with three staples to close up a cut in my head, a bruise on my right calf and a sore body for days. Casey wasn't hurt in the slightest.

It truly was miraculous and I have often thought that there was a guardian angel watching over Casey and I that day. I think saying a prayer asking for safety before we left on our trip and keeping our temple covenants also helped to protect us. While we were discussing these books in book club the idea came to me that maybe it wasn't just a faceless guardian angel. Maybe it was my Grandpa Utah who died less than six months before that. Maybe my Grandfather was taken from this earth life at just the right moment so that he could fulfill other work on the other side, and maybe a part of that work was making sure that Casey, me and the 14 week old baby in my tummy were safe from harm.

It is comforting to believe that our guardian angels have familiar faces and spirits that we are already acquainted with in some way.

There were a lot of other interesting points and impressions I gleaned from these two books but I won't spend too much time blogging about it. I would highly recommend reading them for yourselves though! They are short, each of them around 150 pages with large print, and they have some really neat things in them.

One thing is for sure, so many people have near-death experiences and come back to share messages with loved ones and their experience with the public- there is definitely more for us after this world.

Life does not end at death. And reading books like these makes me reflect on this question- am I prepared for the afterlife?

The Tale of the Blue Lemon

Casey and I had date night this weekend! We got a coupon in the mail to a restaurant called the Blue Lemon. We'd heard some pretty good things about it so we decided to go to the one closest to us in Highland and we were COMPLETELY unimpressed. Now, I don't want to be a hater, so I will try to be as positive as possible, but.... it wasn't a great experience. I'll cover efficiency, atmosphere / cleanliness, plating, taste, and expectations.

Efficiency- F

Casey and I arrived at the restaurant around 7 and, thanks to my line magic, found only three women, who were all together, ahead of us in the line. It took over five minutes for the hostess to take their order. I told Casey to go grab a seat while I ordered so he wouldn't have to hold Sander in his carrier the whole time. When I finally got to the register I saw a sign advertising their Caramel Apple Cider so I asked the hostess, "How much is it for a cup of the Caramel Apple Cider." She said she didn't know so it took another minute for her to look up how much that was (3.90 for a small btw! Can you say, ridickilus?). After another minute she finally got my order, handed me a number (you know how you fold paper in half and stand it up? It was a small, plastic one of those) and I sat down.

The wait time for the food wasn't too bad but it was hard for the waitresses to see the little plastic tent numbers on the tables. They would walk around the dining room for a long time, carrying plates of food, leaning over tables, looking for their corresponding number. Blue Lemon should put the numbers on stands or something so the waitresses can see them more easily! Poor waitresses!

Atmosphere / Cleanliness B+

Overall, Blue Lemon achieves a pretty trendy atmosphere. The restaurant was crowded, so the buzz of conversations combined with the music playing at just the right volume to achieve a mix between a club and a restaurant made the whole place seem pretty chic. The tables were nicely spaced so it was not too crowded but they could still get in as much seating as possible. Unfortunately the place where I sat had a HUGE sticky spot on the floor that left my shoes sticky for a really long time which is highly annoying.

To be fair, I didn't really look to see if there were other sticky spots on the floor, so it could have just been where I was sitting. Luckily, I could look at all of the good looking food being forever carried around the dining room by the waitresses to take my attention off of the floor until our food arrived.

Plating - A

The plating was chic and creative making the food appear, at first glance, to be more appropriate in a four or five star restaurant instead of a three. The plateware itself was well chosen to appear modern and upscale. However, when the waitress plunked my food down in front of me I was really surprised to find that the plates are actually lightweight plastic! My plate even had rubber feet on the bottom which completely downgrades the plateware from upscale to middle class.

Taste - C+

I got a steak with Gorgonzola cheese while my hubbie got the Salmon (some of the most expensive dishes on the menu since it was buy one, get one free with our coupon. But they were still only $13) and we split. The steak description was medium rare but it came out well done which made the steak a little chewy instead of melt-in-your-mouth-tender, but the steak with the gorgonzola cheese was a great combination.

Totally brown throughout = well-done.

Casey's Salmon was flaky and had good flavor, as did the potato gallete thing that came with it, however, they burnt the bottom of it.


It's not really anything to be snobby about, but with such a small menu it seems like they should be able to do the dishes they do have on the menu really well.

Expectations - D-

At restaurants like Red Lobster or Olive Garden (which this restaurant is probably on par with) have menus with prices that usually end in $ .99. More upscale restaurants generally don't show cents or dollar signs. They just have something like:

Filet Minon 45

This is how the menu at Blue Lemon looked also. I already mentioned that the plating was well done and also added to an upscale feel. Then we discovered that the plates were plastic and the food was burnt or over cooked!

It's not like the restaurant was terrible, I think it's just the fact that the restaurant had so many cues that made me expect something more than I actually got. It's all about expectations and this restaurant didn't live up the things it showed me to expect.

There was a bistro which I think is a great idea and they did have an entire menu of sandwiches and some soups that also looked good which I didn't get to try.

Would I go back? Not really sure. If I got another coupon I might go to try one of their sandwiches now that I have a more appropriate set of expectations, but the first experience left me feeling so disappointed that it kinda turned me off.. :(

Overall Rating - C-

Reclaiming the Bedroom

Life has been so busy this past week that I haven't had any time to blog, sad! Blogging for me is a great way to journal. It's nice to organize my thoughts and have some important memories stored in a safe place that also allows me to share them.

Last night was a milestone for Sander. Last night I reclaimed my bedroom. Meaning, that Sander spent the night in the nursery instead of my bedside for the first time since he was born.

He used to sleep like an angel- at least 3 hour stretches with a 5-6 hour stretch at night. Now, he is like a demon child. Up every few hours to eat with random outcries in between- it was really wearing me down. So last night I decided that I would get better sleep if he was in a place where he would only wake me up if he was really awake and hungry. That way I can break up my sleeping/awake time into definite chunks with a beginning and an end without the billion drowsy wake-up-to-reach-over-and-pop-the-binkie-back-into-Sander's-mouth-so-he'll-be-quiet-and-I-can-get-a-little-bit-more-sleep moments.

It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Amazing.

I could get ready for bed with the lights on while my husband and I talked about our day and plans for the next day. I could walk over to my bedside after I went to the bathroom to get a sip of water without having to worry about bumping into Sander's Rock N' Play... ugh, and so many other things that I didn't realize I had missed being able to do.

More than the physical problems that come with having a sleeping baby in your room, (like lighting, loud noises and rockers in the way) there was a internal sense of freedom and relief to having our bedroom back to ourselves. There was something about the separation of parents and child that was extremely liberating. I feel less like mom and baby with dad and more like mom and dad with baby.

I don't know if that really makes any sense to anyone else but Sander having his own room that he actually uses now is an exciting step. And, yes, it did help break up the night into definable chunks. Up at 1 AM, 3 AM, 5-5:45 AM, 7 AM (Casey took that shift and put him on his tummy so he could get out his gas and not keep waking up from it- thank goodness for husbands!) and for good at 8 AM. Granted from 6 AM on I was in this stupor where I was aware of some crying but I knew Casey was taking care of it after he got up to get ready for work. I vaguely remember being asleep with my glasses on and my mouth hanging open as Casey came in to tell me he put Sander on his tummy, he was leaving for work and he loved me. I managed to close my mouth long enough to give him a little kiss upon which, I'm sure, it promptly fell back open again as I conked out.

But, hey, life is beautiful. :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Motherhood Surprises

I think the thing that has surprised me most about Motherhood is how fun it is.

I was really not expecting it to be this fun, this fast. I expected sleeplessness, fussy days, frustration, lack of time and depression, but not fun. And, maybe it's because I have the best baby ever, but even the negatives have seemed minimal compared to what I was taught to expect.

I think there is too much negative media about motherhood. So, for all three followers of my blog, I'm going to try to put some positive media out into the void.

Motherhood is awesome. Motherhood is rewarding. Motherhood has filled me with joy and love.

I feel so blessed to be able to stay at home and take care of my little buddy. There is no better feeling than when my little baby looks up at me with his big, beautiful eyes, sighs and lays his head against my chest with complete and utter trust as I hold him close and kiss him gently.

Each milestone is so exciting and I cannot believe that my little guy is already two months! It has passed by so quickly and I can tell that he is growing like crazy! I can envision our future ahead of us and all of the things he will experience and go through and I can't wait to be there for him.

I want to have more children, but it is hard to think about that right now. He is going to grow so rapidly and discover so many things and I want to be able to fully commit my time and attention to witnessing that miracle. I understand why people wait several years to have another kid sometimes- there is so much to experience with the first one! I don't want to miss anything because I need to spend time paying attention to another little person. Sander is such a blessing, it is like I birthed another best friend for me to love, play with and cuddle all the time. However, I'm sure that when another baby does come along, my love with expand to include both of them and I will not feel like my attention is split and I will not feel like I am missing anything. I think I will probably feel like there is twice as much to experience as we have our own little party!

I feel so sorry for parents who have no interest or the resources to be involved in their kids lives. Babies/Children are going through such an amazing experience- figuring out a language, the rules of the world they live in, how to use their body and a million other things. I WANT to be there to coach my kids and give them advice when they get stumped. I WANT to have the right as a parent to instill values and morals in my kids that are different from popular belief or worldly perspective. I know that there are parties in the world today that are fighting to push a certain agenda in the media and in schools and I will fight tooth and nail to preserve the things that I believe are right and to instruct my children in those things.

So, there is my message. Be a mom if you can. It is awesome. Don't skip it- savor it. Learn what to expect and take it in stride.

I think children can provide such a fresh, new outlook on life that is so helpful to us as adults. They remind us of forgotten things and, if we let them, teach us to freshly experience life and find joy in the small and simple things again.

My body was made to be a mother and so was my spirit. I believe that motherhood is the greatest calling that I can have in this life and I am so grateful that I am able to be a mother at this point in my life. The world undervalues motherhood and I hope that somehow, throughout my life, I can influence others to see motherhood the way I do, that they may have the opportunity to experience the greatest calling a woman can be called to in this life.

And to all you moms out there- you rock. :D

5 Wipes to a Bath

Normally I bathe my son at night before bedtime. He LOVES his bath and I think it really relaxes him. This is the story of the events which led him to finagle an additional bath this morning.

1 AM

Sander wakes me up crying. I pick him up, give him a kiss on the head and take him into the nursery to change his diaper, which was poopy, and nurse him. I burp him, lay him back down in his Rock N' Play (Which is the best thing ever- if you have a baby or know someone that is going to have one, you should get them that!) and go back to sleep.

6AM

Sander wakes me up crying. I pick him, up, give him a kiss on the head and take him into the nursery to change his diaper, which was poopy, and nurse him. I burp him, lay him back down in his Rock N' Play, take him in the kitchen so he can watch me make myself breakfast. Daddy and I chat and drink some hot tea on this chilly morning before he goes to work. Sander falls back asleep.

9 AM

Sander wakes up while I am folding laundry. I sit on the bed and nurse him first this time, because I know he will poop again afterwards. Sander poops. Sander burps, not once, but three times. I take him into the nursery and change his diaper. I put together his little play mat from Grandma Griggs and set him on it so he can see the dangling moon and star that are crunchy and jingly, respectively. Five minutes later finds me on the floor next to him organizing some of his hospital paperwork while I help him control his hands to bat at the toys. I turn back to my paperwork and hear him blast off again. I looked back at him and started laughing- "Again?? That's your fourth poop today- a record even for you, ya little poop machine!"

Wipes 1 & 2

I put him on the changing table (basically with just a little plastic pad on it- no sheet which my mom gets on me for. I just put down a cloth diaper to catch any spills or leaks.) and use two wipes to make sure his bum is poo-free. Wipes one and two get wrapped up with the diaper.

Wipe 3

Just as I'm finishing up Sander looks at me with a big smile on his face... and spits up a ton of milk. It's all over his sleeper, in his hair and his hand and he couldn't be happier. I sigh, grab a wipe and start wiping it up off the changing table, under his neck and the back of his head. I resolve that the sleeper is soaked beyond repair so it is probably time to change him into a daytime outfit anyway. Wipe 4 goes in the diaper pail.

Wipe 4

I grab Sander's feet and lift up so I can put the clean diaper underneath his bum. Just as I do he starts peeing. A perfect stream going right above his head. I quickly put my hand down on it to try and contain the peep and wait until he's done, knowing I'm going to have to get a fresh diaper now. I look over at Sander and he is in complete shock with pee all over his face and sleeper. I HAD to laugh. I grab wipe 4 and clean off his face first, the top of the diaper pail, the edge of the changing table and I didn't even touch the sleeper because that thing is SO going in the dirty laundry! Wipe 4 goes in the diaper pail. At this point, a new outfit isn't going to cut it- this boy is in serious need of a bath!

Wipe 5

I get Sander out of his sleeper and discard the now wet diaper. I take the sleeper over to the closet and put it in the dirty laundry and return to the changing table just in time to see Sander spit up again. You've won Sander! You're getting a bath! You can stop with the expulsions! :)
I wipe it up and pick up my adorable little boy, hoping that he is done excreting things for the time being. Wipe 5 goes in the garbage.

I filled up his baby bath tub and put Sander in it. I think he must have expelled everything he has because he usually pees right when he gets in but he had nada this time. I give the little guy a nice bath and soap him up from head-to-toe. He loves it! Nice clean baby! I grab his towel and right as I'm about to grab him, like an encore performance, he shoots a stream of pee right into the little cubby at the end of his bath tub.

Bravo Sander, Bravo.

And my mother wonders why I don't bother with a sheet on my changing table...

But honestly, how could anyone ever get mad at this face?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Dinner! Roasted Chicken and Pumpkin Rolls

Delicious Halloween Dinner!

Roasted Chicken with Lemongrass and Kaffir Lime Leaves from Food2 and Pumpkin Rolls from Me!

Ingredients

1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) whole roasting chicken
Salt and fresh ground pepper
1 lemon, quartered, plus 1 for juice
2 onions, peeled and quartered
2 stalks lemongrass, bruised, plus 1 tablespoon, minced
5 cloves garlic, plus 1 tablespoon, minced
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped, plus 1 tablespoon minced
3 fresh rosemary sprigs, plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped
3 fresh thyme sprigs, plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
3 Yukon gold potatoes, quartered

Directions

Set an oven rack on the lower middle level and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Rinse the chicken thoroughly, inside and out, under cold water, then dry it with paper towels. (Casey actually had to pat the inside of the chicken dry because I'm too squeamish about putting my hand up a chicken's butt. Yuck!)

Season the cavity with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with 4 lemon quarters, 4 onion quarters, lemongrass stalks, garlic cloves, kaffir lime leaves, and half each of the chopped ginger, rosemary and thyme sprigs.

In a mortar and pestle combine minced lemongrass, chopped rosemary, chopped thyme, minced ginger and minced garlic.


Add 1/4 cup olive oil and a pinch of salt and mash together with pestle. Rub the mixture under the skin on top of the breast and all over the outside of the bird. Tie the legs together with a piece of butcher's twine.

Place the quartered potatoes, remaining onion, and chopped ginger in a baking dish or roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper and place the chicken on top of the vegetables to form a makeshift rake. Slice remaining lemon in half and squeeze juice over chicken. Place the rinds in the pan with the vegetables. Drizzle the chicken with a bit more olive oil.

Roast the chicken for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the thickest portion of the breast registers 165 degrees F.


Tip the chicken so that the juice from the cavity runs into the roasting pan. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with roasted onions and potatoes.

Delicious! Not only was this chicken flavorful, but the white meat was just as juicy as the dark meat and the potatoes and onions were a natural, flavorful compliment!

We give this recipe: 4.5 stars

Pumpkin Rolls

First of all, a little baking tip! When baking, always use room temperature ingredients because it will make your products lighter and fluffier! Now, I'm doubling this recipe, so if you make it and your quantities don't look as big as mine, that's why. :)

2/3 c. packed pumpkin

3 eggs (room temperature!)

1 c. sugar

¾ c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. salt

Cream cheese filling:

8 oz. cream cheese

1 c. powdered sugar

2 T. melted butter or margarine

1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350ᵒ.

Put pumpkin, eggs and sugar into a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.



Beat pumpkin, egg and sugar mixture for 5 minutes until light and frothy.

Doesn't it look nice and frothy?

Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt mixture and mix in with a spatula. When you are making quick breads, you don't want to over mix your batter because it can make your end product tough.


Line jelly roll pan with wax paper. Now, I used a Pampered Chef Stoneware pan. I love it, love it love it! It is a pain to use wax paper and you lose more roll than you keep. I greased my stoneware with copious amounts of canola oil and the end product slides out like butter! SO MUCH BETTER!

Pour pumpkin batter in pan and shake to even out.


Pop it into the oven and bake for 15 minutes if you are using a jelly roll pan. Using the stone ware it took me about 20 minutes. While that's cookin', combine all the cream cheese filling ingredients into a medium sized bowl.


Combine until smooth and creamy.


Remove pumpkin roll from the oven when the bread is golden brown and feels firm and springy to the touch.


If you are using a jelly pan with wax paper, flip pumpkin sheet onto a dish towel and gently peel off wax paper. If you are using Stoneware, loosen pumpkin sheet with a spatula on edges and as much of the underside as you can get without breaking it. I used Pampered Chef's fabulous mini spatula which you can see my handsome husband modeling here:


It worked like a charm and got the whole thing up so that when I flipped my pan over, the pumpkin sheet came right out.

Next, starting on the short side, fold towel over the edge of the pumpkin sheet and roll into a log like so:


Let rest 15 minutes. Unroll and spread cream cheese filling onto pumpkin roll.


Starting at the short end, roll into a log.


Cut in half or thirds.


Once I cut it in half I started to wrap it in tin foil like I usually do when I thought, "The pumpkin roll always sticks to the foil and rips it when I open it. Maybe if I sprinkled a little powdered sugar on the top it would give it a decorative flair and it might also help it not stick so badly!"


Then the thought naturally struck me, "Well, if the powdered sugar will help it not stick to the tin foil, maybe it will help it stick to the towel less too! I should powder the towel before I roll up the pumpkin roll!"


So I did.



It was a disaster.

So, the conclusion of this experiment is, powder your pumpkin rolls before you wrap them with foil if you so desire, but FOR GOODNESS SAKE, leave it OFF of your dish towel of you will end up with, as Tim Gunn from Project Runway says, a hot mess.


There you have it! Wonderfully delicious goodies that make great holiday gifts!

We give this recipe: 4 stars

Enjoy! :)

Happy Halloween!

I LOVE Halloween! So many fun parties, treats, costumes, lights, haunted houses and trick-or-treaters! Casey and I had three significant events this Halloween season, Casey's Work Party, Ward Chili Cook-Off, and Jasmine's Party.

Casey's Work Party Friday October 29, 3-5 PM

This was the first time I got to go to Casey's office and see where he works! His office really isn't that big so it was a pretty short tour. It also wasn't much of a party- people mostly just stayed in their offices and people took their kids around trick-or-treating to everyone's offices. There was pizza and soda in the break room. I didn't get to really talk with very many people, mostly just a "Hi, I'm so-and-so" introduction.

The adults didn't even dress up! I had our costumes all packed up in the car because I went to a Pumpkin Walk at Utah Central Gardens in Provo and I was going to go straight to Casey's office afterwards. Casey called me in the morning and said, "Nobody's dressed up! Don't come in costume!" Ugh! But I brought Sander in costume anyway.

Sander went as a broker. It was the highlight of the party.

Ward Chili Cook-Off Saturday October 30, 4-6 PM

I did make a chili but it wasn't epic so I'm not going to waste my time blogging about it or your time reading about it. We all dressed up this time and had a pretty good time chatting with the Ward members.

Casey and I went as... Can anyone guess? (Those are big "P"'s on our chest btw)

Sander was a Sumo Wrestler!
I took him in his diaper, white socks, black eye liner at each of his eyes, and I sewed some black yarn on the inside of a head band and put it into a sumo bun!


Everyone loved Sander's costume and no one could guess what Casey and I were. They eventually got it after a couple of hints though. :-)

Jasmine's Party Saturday October 30 7 PM

A friend of mine invited us to a party at her house so we went there around 7:00. We were supposed to bring a dish to share so I made a monster cheese ball.


Here's the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped pimento
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped green pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Directions

Combine the cream cheese and Cheddar cheese in a bowl. Add the pimento, green pepper, onion, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and salt; mix with hands (wash them first!), and shape into a ball. Spread the pecans onto a cutting board and cover with a dish towel. Pound with a rolling pin until pecans are crushed. Roll the cheese ball in the pecans until evenly coated. Refrigerate overnight before serving. (You don't have to refrigerate overnight. I only refrigerated the cheese ball for a couple of hours and then coated the ball in the pecans and it was still great! Everyone loved it!


I used green peppers for the eyebrows and toenails, green olives for the eyes and toes, sliced baby carrots for the mouth and nose and tortilla chips dyed with red food coloring for the ears. It was such an easy, fun dish to take to a Halloween party!