The Preslar Family

The Preslar Family
November 2013

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Those Trickey Chinese!

The apple has no stem. I repeat. The apple has no stem.

Well, for the fourth pregnancy running, the Chinese gender calendar is correct. At least we think so. There wasn't a super clear shot of the crotch zone, but from what we could tell,

We're having a girl!

Needless to say, we were very excited, no matter the gender of our baby. She's healthy and also apparently quite stubborn, as evidenced by the fact that we were in the ultrasound room for over half an hour, the technician firmly prodding my belly over and over in an effort to get the baby to turn over so we could see the bottom of her spine. Nothin' doin'.

I think that while still carrying this baby I shall call her Matilda. I actually kind of like that name, well, actually the resulting nicknames: Matti, Tilly, Tilda. The name has been given the kibosh already by Troy, not only because I think he hates all of those names, but because as a child the family fondly dubbed their dishwasher Matilda. Okay, that name is definitely out. And besides, we may get a big surprise on delivery day with the discovery that the apple does indeed have a stem.


Friday, December 26, 2008

The Big Day


When I was a child I used to get really really confused as to why my parents were always so darn exhausted on Christmas Day. I just didn't get it. Hey Mom and Dad? I get it now. Thank you. I'm exhausted. And happy.

As can be predicted, Christmas morning was great. I think it was partly great because my kids had been up so late the night before that they slept in until almost 9:00. I was expecting Stomper at least to come pounce on us and wake us from the sleep of the dead, but we had to wait for him for a while, and when he woke up we had to go get Bitty out of bed. Is this normal? I don't think so, but I'll take it. Most people I know were done with presents by the time my kids were up. That's okay - it made the morning last longer and the rest of the day last..shorter.

I need to say that it's always so hard for Santa to know how many gifts are too many and how many are too few. The kids need about the same number as each other, right? Plus they need to be equivalent in magnitude, right? At least approximately? And he should not go berserk, but he also gets happy giving them things he knows they will love. It's a tough balancing act. Not that Santa is complaining - Santa is very grateful that he can give gifts to the Preslar kids at all. It's just something that scrambles Santa's brain a little bit every year. Any other Santas out there have the same dilemma? A dilemma we're glad to have, of course.


This was the last year we felt Stomper would enjoy a dinosaur. He's been so into superheros and action figures lately that the dino-obsession is waning. He'll come home from his friend's house and complain that our toys don't have enough muscles. So aside from one last really great dinosaur (notice the streak of blood on its face? Very realistic...), Stomper mostly got toys with muscles. Bitty got a new and improved dollhouse - it's actually a great hand-me-down from a friend (thanks again!) and it was a hit. Her favorite, though, was probably a tutu and ballet slippers. She's asked to wear tutus at friends' houses, but she always gets upset (in that special way that only Bitty can) that the tutu is going DOWN. She wants it to go UP. Meaning, she wants the kind of tutu that sticks out straight from her waist, not the long flowing kind. So she got a tutu that goes UP and pink ballet slippers, which we couldn't get her out of all day.

Here's poor Alex, who gets upset on Christmas morning, as at all times that are boisterous and filled with his people not sitting still. When I finally sat down on the couch he burrowed in between the new dollhouse and my feet, the only place for his head being inside the dollhouse. What a nutty dog. There are times when he acts offended that you invited him up on a comfortable bed, but when he's freaked out he'll go anywhere to be close to you. Love him.

After a quiet morning together we went back to my folks' house, just us this time, and we enjoyed brunch with them plus Troy's parents too. My parents put together quite the feast - we only needed about 10 more people there to finish up all the food. It was really nice. The weather was horrid - no magical afternoon of sledding this year - it was so windy and sort of sleety. But being together while the kids played happily and quietly (and mommy got a little nap...) was just the ticket. By the time we left it was after 4:00 and then it was just a downhill slide until bedtime. It was then that the real storm hit and we got pounded. Eight inches, which isn't so much, but it was blowing in like crazy all evening. Made for the perfect setting for a fire, popcorn, and A Christmas Carol with my husband.

Nice day. I'm grateful for it, for the things we enjoyed today like the gifts and the tree, and also the things we enjoy every day, like our family and friends.

The Eve of Christmas


I think that this year may have been one of the most fun Christmas Eves we've ever enjoyed. Troy's family always gets together the Saturday after Christmas, so we generally spend the evening with my family. Almost everyone was there. We really missed Peter and Sheri and their cute daughter. They were the only absentees. Plus, Troy's oldest brother Rick came along which was really fun for everyone, especially Troy, and hopefully Rick too.

The highlights of the evening started with a white elephant game. I totally scored and got a Hannah Montana lamp - can't wait for my next white elephant party to pass it along. I think Adam and Whitley are not so sure about the gift I brought and which their son won - a self-inflating whoopie cushion. What white elephant party is complete without a whoopie cushion? We enjoyed our traditional Christmas Eve fare of Mexican food - posole (hominy soup) of course, that's the favorite, and a Cafe Rio-esque pork salad that turned out well. We made gingerbread houses, sang a couple of songs with Adam accompanying on guitar, and ate a really yummy peppermint/chocolate/fluffy/rich dessert by Whitley. I have to say, though, that what really made the evening for us was doing the dishes. I know this sounds crazy, but it's true. We had so much fun.

The reason for that is because Whitley taught us a very fast paced card game similar to Uno, I think called 99. The game is short and sweet, and the loser of each round goes to the kitchen to do dishes. Two people are in there at a time, and each time a new loser heads off, one of the dish-doers returns to the game. For one thing, none of us felt guilty about not being the one doing dishes. We didn't lose dad to the kitchen for the hour after dinner like we usually do, and everyone got a chance to help. And it was really really funny. So call me if you want the rules because it totally made the night.

Also, I can't help but love watching all the kids together. Adam and Whit's little girl, who's almost two, seems to just love Bitty. She chased her all over the house all evening long, calling out her name in the sweetest little baby talk. Bitty got a little freaked out, butquickly discovered that if she ran away, her cousin chased her, making a great game of tag. Stomper and his cousin Smith are also a great duo. Margaret's girls were so cute with the smaller kids, and all in all it was just a really fun night. We didn't end up leaving until 9:45 or something, and dinner started at 5:00. That's always a good sign. Of course, by the time we did leave my dad was a little worn out and gave us his classic sendoff, "Thanks for coming! And thanks for going!"



Bitty's Class Performance

It doesn't seem that long ago that Troy and I went to hear Stomper sing in the wonderful Miss Patty's class program, and I guess it wasn't - only two years ago! But he has changed so much. Look at this:



He has grown up so much. His face sure is thinner, anyway, but I think he can still wear that shirt. Now suddenly it's Bitty's turn to sing all the cute little songs. She almost didn't - it was a close call. I took this picture of her in her little elf hat, and then she bumped her head and not only wouldn't put the hat back on but was refusing to be in the program at all. She agreed to sing only after I came down on the floor by her feet and sat there for the whole time. Which was fine.

Those little three- and four-year-olds are pretty darn cute. Miss Patty does a great job. Hopefully she sticks it out for another few years so our last babe can be in her class too!

video


video

The Great Tree Hunters


I think it was in early December when Troy told me that his coworker Steve and family were going to Bear Lake mid-month to pick out a Christmas Tree, and that we were invited to join them. It sounded like a fun time - a weekend with friends in a cabin, going on the proverbial tree-cutting venture, stuff like that. I'll admit that as the time drew near to go I was dreading it a little bit. I had a horrible image of us being stuck inside a cold, damp cabin with grumpy restless kids for hours on end, cold miserable walks through the snow, and a whole weekend of parental exertion on my part.

Boy was I wrong! We had such a great weekend. First of all, Steve and Mary are great company, and we had a really good time with them and their two cute girls. The kids got along really well. I was proud of Stomper who played well even though he didn't have anyone there his own age. Second, the cabin is just awesome. So cozy and comfortable, so well laid-out. It was a pleasure to be there. And it was so beautiful. Snowy woods, ice-blue lake, the works. And getting the tree was the funnest part. We didn't have far to drive before we found a grove of the perfect trees. And luckily the only species of tree we were allowed to cut were just the kind I like - really tall, kind of sparse, so you can see all the ornaments hanging down. The kids loved tromping through the deep snow and we found a great tree. I'm really grateful for warm snow clothes.

I was worried that the kids wouldn't sleep well, but again, I was totally wrong. Our family was in a cozy attic bedroom with a queen bed for Troy and me plus two twins for the kids and they slept like little logs.

I really hope this becomes a tradition for us because it just couldn't have been any more fun. I just love our tree, and even though Christmas is over, I can't bear to take it down yet. Other years I've been ready to nix the decorations the day after, but this year I'm just not ready to let it go!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Miles to blog before I sleep, miles to blog before I sleep.

Merry Christmas! Yesterday.

So, I'm a little behind. Okay, really behind. What with all the hustling and bustling, both of whom I'm sure you're quite familiar with, I haven't blogged much. I guess that's partly because I'm enjoying doing things instead of writing about them, but now I want to get a few things down to remember.

Here goes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gretel Takes Over

One of my favorite Christmas tradtitions has become, these past three years, to drive up to the Land Bountiful to make gingerbread houses with the Mayfield Clan. I love it because the kids love each other, we always eat a yummy dinner, and most of all I love laughing at Misty and myself. We both want to make a perfect Martha Stewart gingerbread house and yet we know, deep down, that really it's better to actually involve the children in our holiday activities. It is so hard to reign in my impulses to control the whole process. Luckily for me, my kids were so much more interested in eating frosting and candy than actually applying anything to the house:



It ended up looking okay - gingerbread houses always look pretty cute. Well, I made the mistake of keeping the house on a lower piece of furniture this year than last, and the house has seriously suffered the consequences. It only took a day or two before the roof had been picked clean of all candy. Luckily the "frosting" we use is pretty tough stuff, because the kids haven't been able to get much else off, but it's not from a lack of trying, believe me. This evening, after our very disappointing venture (see previous post) I was doing the dishes when I heard Troy laughing heartily. I turned around, and he quietly pointed for me to look through the kitchen doorway into the entryway. I guess Bitty got fed up with our super-strength frosting and took matters into her own hands:






I hope our holiday guest and visitors enjoy looking at the half-masticated, slightly gooey remains of our gingerbread house.

Ah, Christmastime.

I've been doing pretty well with the whole Christmas Spirit thing this year. I'm rather proud of myself. But I can feel it slipping, just a little. Not much, but a little, especially this evening when, upon returning from what was supposed to be a festive evening out, my daughter walked in the door and said, "Dad, that was a really disappointing venture." She's three. She really said that. Now, I have to admit that Troy was teasing her earlier, as she was sobbing on the way home, (she did a LOT of sobbing today) and may have said something similar along those lines. But when she said that, Troy and I looked at each other and just about keeled over from trying to not laugh. A disappointing venture? Are you kidding me? Well, we'll try to take it up a notch next time young lady! I guess a drive around Christmas Street just wasn't exciting enough for her.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Baritone? Really?

I totally lucked out this year. I entered the random drawing for tickets to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert - it's hard to get your hands on those sometimes. It's just a raffle. But somehow I landed four tickets to the Thursday evening performance. I wasn't as excited this year as I was last year (when I insisted that my parents take me with them to see The King's Singers...fabulous....) because I'd never heard of the performer. His name is Brian Stokes Mitchell, and I guess he does a lot of stuff on Broadway. We invited my parents to join us - not only are they fun to spend time with, but I felt it was my turn to take them someplace. On the way in we talked to some nice girls who knew more about Mr. Mitchell, and informed us that he's a baritone. I have to admit, my expectations sunk just a little bit. I'm just such a sucker for a tenor. I'll tell you, when we went to the Messiah Sing-In a couple of weeks ago I just about leaped off the balcony when the tenor opened his mouth. Now that I think about it I wonder what I would have done once I jumped off - I'm not really imagining that I'd charge the stage and attack the man. I think it's more the feeling that if I jumped, I'd just float along on the glory of his voice. I LOVE tenors. Well, I now stand corrected. On Thursday night this Brian Stokes Mitchell opened his mouth and out came the richest voice I've ever heard. I got shivers. He was great. It still wasn't quite the same as last year, but hey, last year I was with my folks and their seats were totally front and center. This year we were about as high up as you can get in the conference center, way off to one side. We didn't get just blasted with music but it was a really nice evening. So, Brian Stokes Mitchell, you have a new fan.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

What do you think I am? A DOG?

Alex. He's always been a little confused about his dog-hood. He thinks it's a negotiable status. Especially as he gets older. You know, Troy's had Alex longer than he's had me! Isn't that weird? Alex is staring down the barrel of his 13th birthday! And he's still as spry as... as... as a spring buffalo. (Julia Child said that once and I've always loved it.)

A few days ago, Troy walks out into the back yard and sees this:



There's old Alex, just looking nonchalantly around at everything but at this cat. In the past, he would have gone berserk. And now he just looks at it, looks at us, looks at it, and finally back at us as if to say, "Cat? What cat? I don't see any cat." Or perhaps it's more like, "You can't be serious. I'm so OVER chasing cats." Either way, it takes a great deal of encouragement to get him to even half-heartedly go after the thing. Don't get me wrong, he has plenty of spunk in other areas, but like he said, he's OVER chasing cats. Dang it.

'Tis the Season...

...for being totally behind on everything.

So, uh, Happy Thanksgiving! Last Week! Do I have any pictures? No, of course not, but really, they'd be pretty much the same as anyone else's, right? Lots of food, people, and dirty dishes. It was a nice day, though. It was a Romney year - my side of the family. Almost everyone was there - we missed you Adam &Whit - and we all seemed to have a pretty good time. My dad made the best turkey breast I have ever had. Normally, I'm a dark meat kind of a girl. The white stuff is always just so dry. My dad bought a pressure cooker for the occasion, and frankly, I was initially horrified. I just imagined boiled poultry and my stomach turned. (Sorry for the lack of faith, Dad.) How wrong I was. My dad layered it with a little stuffing, put some liquid in, and set it to cook. Pressure cookers rock. That meat was done in under 25 minutes, counting the time it took to heat up the pot. And the meat was fantastic. Everything else was great too. I made stuffing, salad, and a pretty great cranberry orange pie. Oh. Yum. I could use a piece of that right now.

You know, there's something about Thanksgiving that's just anti-climactic. We put all this money, time, planning and effort into dinner. We use the best ingredients and carefully choose our recipes. We spend hours cleaning and setting the table and cooking. And in the end, our stomachs aren't any bigger on that day than on any other day of the year. Dinner is still over in a flash. Okay, maybe some of you people can stretch it out, but for us, we were all full after 20 minutes of eating! Of course, we still spent the rest of the day together talking, napping, playing games and just being together. Which is really the point. Still. I don't feel done with the big turkey dinner thing and just might have to make another one just for us to enjoy again. Besides, Stomper was a little sad that he didn't get an actual turkey drumstick to gnaw away on. I wonder if a whole bird will fit in dad's cooker....

Earlier in the week, Troy and I had the chance to go to Stomper's class for a little performance they put on of all these little nursery rhymes they had been practicing. Not quite ready for Broadway, but we sure thought it was cute.




video

And in an unprecedented display of holiday spirit, I actually pulled out the Christmas boxes the day after Thanksgiving. I was a little confused myself. What are these things I'm feeling? Holiday cheer? Good will towards men? I didn't know what to do with myself! The real reason we pulled stuff out was because we have this great Noah's ark advent calendar that my mom gave us a few years ago and I always miss like the first 10 days because that's when we usually decorate. Oh, not this year! I had it out and ready to go. Thank you, thank you.

So I'm all hyped up on Christmas Spirit. It's a little alarming, but strangely pleasureable. And we don't even have snow yet. In fact, we're in the upper 50's. The kids and I have already enjoyed watching the early airings of Rudolf and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, along with my new holiday favorite, Shrek the Halls. I know, you might not normally think of Shrek as being a great holiday kind of show, but I really love it. Not only is it pretty dang funny, but it speaks volumes as to how I often mistakenly handle Christmas. It's all about how frustrated Shrek gets when he can't pull off 'the perfect Christmas' and how everyone ruins his pretty picture of what he thinks it's supposed to be like. But then Donkey very wisely says, "Hey, it's not Christmas unless someone's crying!" (true) and Shrek learns that however you do Christmas IS the perfect Christmas. It's messy, chaotic and stressful, but that's how it is and we love it. Misty tried to help me understand this concept already - I guess I just speak 'Shrek' better than 'Grown-Up."

I hope everyone had a great T-day and is feeling as lovey and excited as I am about Christmas!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Random Notes, Comments & Observations

1. What is this Facebook thing?

I have discovered a new planet called Facebook. I'm calling it a new planet because it feels as if there is a new kind of relationship to be found there than has ever been had before, at least by me. Never in my life have I had the chance to have such frequent contact with people I haven't been in touch with for 15 & 20 years. (Wow. I think I'm aging.) Lots of times it's great! How fun is it to find people you might never have seen again, possibly, in your lifetime? Then again, how does that relationship look? For example, I was dear friends with a guy in high school, with no romantic involvement whatsoever. We are both now married with kids. So is it now weird for me to reminisce a little bit about some favorite memories? Apparently it is, because our frequent notes to one another stopped short after I did that. And never mind the people I actually dated. And what about the people who want to be your "friend" but whom you don't want getting updates about you? I'm finding it to be a little strange.


2. Expect the worst.

I went to see Twilight with Troy and two other couples. I did not have very high expectations. Frankly, I was thinking it was going to be one big fat wad of cheese. Having such low expectations really helped out, because I thought it was really pretty good! Even Troy seemed to enjoy himself. Also, I have to say that it was just a kick in the pants to be in the theater on opening day. The place was packed with young girls who started cheering upon the appearance of Edward, and screamed and applauded for him - it was so funny. And charming. Great energy in movie theaters, I think. Okay, I'll admit it. I can't wait to see it again. Just keepin' it real.


3. My favorite quotes of the (past couple) week(s):

Bitty, after trying a pickled asparagus sample at Costco, in a rather desperate voice:
"I need a really really really really clean glass of milk!"

Bitty, upon waking up with her usual magnificent display of bedhead:
"Mom, it wasn't me! It was the crazy fairies that landed on my head!"

Stomper, upon recieving a birthday gift certificate from Toys R Us and deciding he wanted to get a little something for himself and a little something for his sister:
"Mom, I just want to make my family happy."
(Excuse me. Who are you and what have you done with my son?)


4. The tooth.

Stomper has been notorious for yanking out his own loose teeth in the past, but right now his one remaining front tooth is dangling by a corner. He won't pull it out and won't let anyone touch it. It's pretty funny-looking - it pokes out of his mouth and looks like he has a serious snaggle tooth. It's so funny. He woke me up before six this morning to demonstrate his fabulous tooth-wiggling skills. I can't wait for it to fall out because it's distracting. At the same time, it's a little sad to see those baby teeth go - you know your child will never look the same again, all sweet and cute with those little teeth. No. You get those giant serrated grown-up teeth trying to cram into the tiny spaces in there. Talk about snaggle teeth. Better start the orthodontist savings fund, I guess.




5. I won I won!

My super-knitter friend, aka Windybrook Spinner, held a contest on her website to celebrate her 150th post. I won! Yay for me! I won a beautiful pair of mits (kind of like fingerless gloves) and a cowl. I love them. I'm actually kind of attached to them and wear them everywhere. She's my knitting idol.


6. Trying to be like Windybrook.

I finished Stomper's wallaby sweater and I'm very happy. I learned a lot the first time around and so I avoided making the same mistakes. I made some new ones, but not too bad. I can't wait to start my next big project.



7. Go Utes. 'Nuff said.


I guess that's about all I have to say. I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving week!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Messy is Best, I Guess

I'm finding that the things that are best for my kids to do all require a huge amount of clean up on my part. These things include playing outside, especially in the dirt and mud, cooking and working with food in the kitchen, and doing artwork. You have to agree that all three of those activities yield happy creative kids and also a big mess to clean up. As I'm typing this I'm realizing that one of my biggest faults in motherhood is not following up and having the kids help me with the clean up part. Sometimes it just seems easier to do it myself. Okay, I now pledge that I'm going to make them help me clean up from now on. Anyway.

Due to being ill and pregnant I have not been very valiant in getting the kids out of the house the past few weeks and they're starting to go nuts. I've been trying to supplement with a little artwork, but I have to say that those crappy little plastic cases of watercolor paints really bite. They're horrible. Stomper has been begging to use my watercolors - something I haven't done myself for months. Today I relented. We pulled out some old sheets of big paper I had tucked away and I let them loose on my paints. I cringed a bit as the paints got a little abused, but the kids had a ball. I then switched them to some old pastels I had in the back of the art drawer. The result?

Fun art and kids in the tub:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Top Ten

Troy and I were trying to think of the top ten funniest things that made Bitty cry yesterday. It turns out that only a few of them were actually funny - mostly they were just frustrating, irritating and inducers to pulling all your hair out. Don't you ever have one of those days when a child of yours just weeps for the whole day? For example, Bitty and her daddy were having a lovely time at the park when they found a ladybug, which Bitty got to hold for awhile, until it flew away. Ladybugs will do that. Bitty burst into tears and cried all the way home, declaring that she never wanted to go to the park again. She cried about everything from me choosing the wrong dress for her to picking up the wrong cup to...pretty much everything. Lots of tears. I imagine she got a little dehydrated.

The day did have its perks, however. Stomper was in the annual primary program at church. This was an event of some stress for me, partly because I know how shy he gets and sometimes just can't handle attention. This happened last year, when he spent the entire program with his head buried in his arms and trying to crawl under his chair. I had little hope for any participation from him this year as he refused to say his part during any of the practices. And then he horrified me on Saturday afternoon when he informed me he had decided to change his part from: "The prophet asks me to be kind to everyone," to: "The prophet asks me to poop my pants." I should have laughed or something except that I could just imagine him, in a fit of giggles and silliness, actually saying it. So I calmly said, "Stomper, you wouldn't really say that, would you? It isn't very respectful." Then he cried and delcared he never wanted to go to primary again. (My kids have been doing this lately. They declare, multiple times each day, that they are never going to ________ ever again whenever something doesn't go their way. Not sure how to handle that one. Spankings? Yes. Definitely spankings.) But on Sunday morning I just told him that all I wanted was for him to do his best. That did the trick and he was very cute as he sang the songs and said his part, without a single mention of pooping his pants.

Then today, Troy and I stood in the kitchen watching our two children, both of them, playing TOGETHER in the back yard in the cutest happiest little game. Troy said to me that I have messed up his thinking. He now thinks in blog titles, and this one would be called, "Who are you two and what have you done with my children?"

Helping


Long ago my mom bought us kids a record called "Free to Be You and Me." It was full of cute songs and politically correct stories and poems. Just think Boulder, Colorado, in the 70's. Yeah, we were all about macrame, recorder groups, ethnic print smocks and listening to politically correct kids' music. (Explains a lot about me, doesn't it!) One of the songs, written by one Shel Silverstein, goes like this:

Agatha Fry, she made a pie
And Christopher John helped bake it
Christopher John, he mowed the lawn
And Agatha Fry helped rake it

Now, Zachary Zugg took out the rug
And Jennifer Joy helped shake it
Then Jennifer Joy, she made a toy
And Zachary Zugg helped break it

And some kind of help is the kind of help
That helping's all about
And some kind of help is the kind of help
We all can do without.


I must confess that this song played through my mind a time or two on Saturday evening as I was doing some "hurry before the sun goes down" raking in the front yard. What do you say to your darling child who begs you to let her help? Of course, you say yes! I am guessing that it will not be too often in my life when I'm getting a big job done and my daughter is saying, "I'll help! I want to do that part! Let me try that!" It's actually pretty endearing, as well as surprising. She was actually pretty good at grabbing big armfuls of leaves and putting them in the bags, and she was also good at packing down the leaves in the bags to make room for more. She loved hauling the bags over to the bag tower by the driveway. The only trouble was when she was doing any actual raking. Luckily we had a spare rake for her so she wasn't just trying to rake with the same rake I was using, and she only beaned me in the head with it once or twice. And as it turns out she's quite effective at moving leaves with the rake. Just not in the right direction. If I were the leaf-piler, for example, she was the leaf UN-piler. I couldn't believe how quickly she could completely dismantle a mountain of leaves. Impressive, actually. I'd get a few piles going, and as I started bagging one, she'd have the rest of them spread out perfectly evenly over the grass again in no time.

I couldn't be mad, though. I just couldn't. How can you be when all she wants to do is help you? So I guess this was actually the kind of help that helping's all about. It's just a little more time consuming.

(See all those leaves she's running through? Yeah. I had already raked all those. That's okay. True joy is seeing a kid running and jumping into leaves, right?)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Too Tired....

I'm...

Just....

Too....

Tired....

To....

Blog.....

must go to bed.

I'll blog again someday in the future. Maybe.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Whiplash

Sometimes fall goes by so quickly I get whiplash. Of course, I am hoping that it's not actually over, despite the fact that I am sitting at the computer watching the back yard fill up with snow. We've got a pretty good snow storm on our hands over here. Of course, we are in Utah, which means that it will probably be back to 70's next week, right? RIGHT? I can't deny that the snow looks lovely all piled up on the leaves, especially our ginkgo, who's leaves are so bright yellow they look like they're glowing.

Here are some great Halloween photos of the kids:



This is on my inlaws' street, with the cute kids of Troy's older brother Sam. I thought their costumes were just great. Now that we're having a blizzard that warm wonderful Halloween evening feels like it was a really long time ago.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Festive Festive Festive!


The end of October always brings a busy rush of parties, treats, presents, and many goings on. Stomper's birthday happens only three days before Halloween, which makes everything kind of nuts but full of fun stuff. This year we tried something new and had his party on the Saturday before his actual birthday, thinking that a party on a Saturday would be a lot less stressful than on a school day, late in the afternoon. I have to say, the party was a total success. A small group of kids, and the main activity consisted of printing coloring pages off the internet which kept the kids busy almost the whole time. I did, of course, feel that I had to make a theme-cake. It was kind of a watch thing from a cartoon he likes. Why do I do this? I don't know. I'm not that good at cake decorating. I always get some big idea and it always ends up kind of scary looking. Well, not scary, more like frumpy. I even thought I was simplifying this one, but really, it was a pain. Also, I have learned that making gray frosting is a lot harder than it looks. But it was a fun party.



The only trouble with a weekend party for a weekday birthday is that you end up celebrating twice. On Stomper's actual birthday we still had to do something, right? Of course! I tried to get off to a festive start even though we all woke up about 15 minutes before we were supposed to be out the door. I quickly whipped up some pancakes (love you, big bag of Krusteaz from Costco!) and stuck six candles in it and woke up Stomper by singing to him. At least that got him in a good mood before we were rushing around like crazy getting him to school. Then, that evening, we went to Ye Olde Red Lobster because my kids, as you may remember, love crab legs. My in-laws joined us and thought it was pretty funny to watch my children ripping appart the shells and gorging themselves on crab. I'm just glad there's a protein they'll eat without coaxing. It's expensive, sure, but hey, they eat it!

The same night as Stomper's birthday party, my mom agreed to come help me take the kids to some type of Halloween activity. There's so much our valley has to offer - there are pumpkin patches, festivals, all kinds of stuff. I really wanted to do some of those things with them, but honestly, the thought of herding my kids around someplace crowded, busy and possibly dark made me just want to cry. But if my mom could come along and we'd each have only one kid to watch over, well, that I could handle. So we went up to Red Butte Garden for their Garden After Dark. (A note: how come every time I type "butte" I type butter and have to erase the r?)It's really so much fun - they have all these stops all throughout the garden with crafts, stories, games, mazes, treats.... They also have firepits where you get your map stamped, and if you get all your stamps you get a prize at the end. We thought it was terrific. That is partly due to the fact that both my children were in very cheerful, patient and agreeable moods. This, of course, makes all the difference in the world. We really just had a ball. I'm glad the strangest part of the evening came first, so we could get it over with. There was a magic show with a young magician who decided it would be appropriate to show his balloon eating skills to a group of small kids. Yes, he ate a balloon. A blown-up balloon. A three foot long, blown-up balloon. I'm not kidding. He stood there, tipped his head back, opened his mouth, and shoved the whole balloon down his throat. Where it went, I don't really want to know, but it was disturbing, if not totally disgusting. Some drool was involved. Could we please not pass this idea along to my six year old? The rest of the evening was a hit. Black-lights in the forest, face painting, Native American sand painting, seed planting. Great.



And then came Halloween. I'll admit it, there are parts of Halloween that I hate. But the evening was just delightful. Stomper dressed up as Ben 10. If you're not familiar, don't worry about it. He's a cartoon character. Bitty, however, dressed up as a multitude of things. At one point she was a cow girl (that was a week ago.) Then she had her heart set on a kitty. Then a princess. Then a fairy princess. Luckily, between our current dress-up box supply and the loan of a friend, I was able to accomodate each costume cost free. Okay, I did get her a pair of wings at the dollar store. I'd say that one buck for four different costumes was a pretty good deal. She fianlly settled on the fairy princess outfit for this evening's outings, and she was so happy and excited all night that by the end she had named herself a "Magical Halloween Fairy Princess." That is until she got too tired, burst into tears, and declared that she wanted to burn all her candy and never go trick or treating again. That kid is on a serious roller coaster ride. And she's dragging me along with her.


The day was not a crazy as it has been in the past - we did have a little party at Stomper's school. I brought Bitty in so I could help out. I think I would have been a lot more helpful had Bitty not chosen that time to skip her recently developed potty skills and poop her pants down to her ankles. Yeah, that was fun. She and I spent most of the party in the bathroom. Luckily, she is not so far developed in her potty skills that I have stopped bringing extra pants/undies with me where ever I go. Next time remind me to bring a mop and some disinfectant.


After a nice afternoon during which the kids played at a friend's house, (and mommy had a nap!)we geared up for the evening. Our first stop is always at my inlaws' place. They live on a circle, so it's always fun to start the trick-or-treating there. Such nice neighboors. We then headed off for our neighborhood's trunk-or-treat. We've been enjoying this tradition for a number of years now and felt it was our year to actually make a contribution. Stomper really really wanted to decorate our car. Of course, his ideas for decoration were all about making the back of the car into a shark's mouth, stuff like that. We'll see, buddy. We shopped around for Halloween decorations at several stores and guess what - even though Halloween had not actually happened yet, the stuff was all the junky clearance on the back shelf and the displays were all stocked with Christmas stuff. Hello! Let's wait until Halloween is over to take down the decorations, okay? I struck out on all webs, spiders, bats, anything. So, in desperation at the dollar store I grabbed ten packages of glow sticks and two clear plastic rain ponchos. By cutting up the ponchos into strips to hang as a fringe around the door and haning glow sticks all over it, our car ended up looking pretty cool. I did learn that next year I'm buying cheaper candy to hand out to the kids who felt that three times around the parking lot just wasn't enough.




Following the trunk-or-treat we made our final stop at my sister's place, who, I must say, certainly knows how to do Halloween. She and her upstairs neighboor pulled out their fire pit, so there was a campfire in the front yard, surrounded by chairs. They made chili, corn bread, cider, and donuts. What better Halloween food is there? It was so fun! The kids played around, the adults sat and talked, and Troy and I each took a turn taking a kid trick-or-treating around the block. I must say, I just love trick-or-treating. I'm a little sad that it seems to be going the way of the dodo bird a little bit. Not too busy on the streets out there, but nothing delights me like seeing the excitement my daughter had. She totally caught on to what it was all about. She was cheerful and interactive, loved knocking on the doors and saying, "Trick or treat!" She wished everyone a Happy Halloween, and would even converse breifly with those candy hander-outers who wished to discuss her costume. Troy took Stomper, so I didn't get to see him, but I hope it was just as fun. I'm sure the very warm weather made for half of the fun of the evening. It was a great Halloween. No one even threw up all the candy they chowed down! What could be better than that!


Pictures of actual costumes are upcoming - like you care - I just need to get them from all the people who took them instead of me!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Off to a Good Start

Today was a day I was quite anxious about. It was my first "try to hear the heartbeat" appointment with my midwife. I'm only nine weeks along, and so I knew that it was a little early to be hearing a heartbeat. As I lay on the little table with my wonderful midwife searching for the wooshy-washy sound I longed to hear I did have some strong memories come back of another appointment, doing the same thing, and not hearing it. I think both Margy and I were trying to not freak out a little when we couldn't find the heartbeat. She said that normally with anyone else she would just say to not worry about it and come back next week. I'm so grateful that she's a compassionate woman, and is very concious of how I might be feeling. She quickly had us run over to their little ultrasound machine (also the next step in our dreadful appointment that day many months ago) and we had a peek. This time, we found a tiny little blob on the screen, with a beautifully beating heart. Margy and I happily embraced and breathed a sigh of relief. Of course there is a long road ahead, but we're sure off to a good start. How I loved seeing that tiny beating heart. Troy and I are both quite emotional with joy and remembering.

Later, at home, I was curled up on the bed, and somehow found it possible to feel both wretched and beautiful at the same time. Wretched - the "morning" sickness is really kicking in; Beautiful - there is a beating heart inside of me! The kids were playing really happily in the living room and spied me lying on the bed. It was actually very charming the way they instantly wanted to be close to me. Of course, a little space from time to time would also be nice, but really, I appreciate my childrens' happiness to be at my side. They picked up their whole operation and just moved it onto the bed with me.



Of course, the peaceful playing didn't last long. Soon enough they were crawling all over me and trying to have a jumping war. I had to make an exit. But it was sweet while it lasted. How grateful I am, sicky sick and all.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Verdict is In

It's official. Elk meat is actually yummy.

I'll admit that in my pregnant state I was kind of scared to even look at the stuff, fearing that I'd see it and instantly puke or something. Not only am I able to handle the visual, but we have now made both elk burgers and elk pot roast. I'm happy to say that the whole family enjoyed the meals very much. No crazy smells, a flavor very like beef, and a tasty result. It looks like our family will be able to spend the winter eating through the mountain of meat in our freezer. I think it's quite a bit less fatty than beef, not to mention the fact that wild elk has not been raised on hormones and too much corn and all that stuff you hear about.

So, next time you're in the mood for a little elk, give us a call!

Friday, October 17, 2008

This is Just to Say...

This is an oven.





This is a bun.


Put the bun in the oven and what do you get?

May 26th, that's what you get! (The day after my birthday, by the way....)

Okay, so I'm just barely 8 weeks along, but since my belly is protruding in a very announcing sort of way, I guess I'm getting the news out there.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's Just That Kind of a Night


My family is currently, long past bedtime, sitting around at the kitchen table consuming large amounts of whipped cream. This is something we all deserve today because frankly, it's been the day... from...HELL.

***
Okay, now that the kids are tucked sweetly into bed, I can say that there were definitely good parts to the day as well, but it was certainly, shall we say, eventful.

The day began for Troy at 4:00 in the morning, when he got up to go pick up his dad and drive to Roosevelt. See, a couple of weekends ago was the elk hunt. Troy's dad goes every year, and at least a couple of the four boys go along too. This year it was the eldest (Rick) and the youngest (Troy.) Troy had found a spot he thought to be a likely place to find an elk, and woke up that Saturday morning very early. He found a good place to hide and waited for the sun to come up. As he waited, two groups of elk passed by him, and when he found he had a good shot at a young bull, just as the sun was coming up, he took it. It was with some trepidation that he shot the elk, knowing that if he did, there was a very long day ahead as far as cleaning it and getting it off the mountain to a butcher and all those things. But shoot it he did, and indeed a very long (and kinda yucky) day did follow. The meat was ready for pickup today, so Troy and his pop headed down.

I got a phone call at 7:00. Pretty much I know that a phone call at that hour is not a good thing. I'll just say this. Our poor little Eagle Summit, which has served us faithfully for many long years, breathed its last breath just outside of Roosevelt, Utah. The phone call was from Troy, asking me to help him find a tow truck in Roosevelt. You can imagine the other troubles this all led to, starting with the discovery that the car was not to be revived. I ended up sending my Dad (thank you!) to go rescue them and the meat, and poor Troy didn't get home until about 3:3o in the afternoon.

What's more, this evening was the night of a very big church activity that I was in charge of. I don't really feel like getting into all the hairy details. I'll just say that the details were very, very hairy. Lots of cooking, planning, cleaning, setting up, serving, etc. etc. etc. Big big day for Rachel.

All of this would have been pretty manageable. However, Troy stayed home during the activity to get started tiling our bathroom with our very helpful neighbor. I got another phone call almost 12 hours after the first bad phone call from my husband, and this one could have been worse. It turns out that as he and Tim started to work on the floor, Tim said, "What's that noise? Is that spraying water?" Yes, it was. Under the bathroom floor. (You may have heard a strange strangled screaming kind of sound coming from somewhere in Salt Lake. That was Troy.) Now, when they first heard it Troy just about freaked out because he imagined a huge leak with a foot of water on the insulation under the floor. Luckily, it turned out to be a manageable leak, and they only had to tear out one small bit of the floor. Not a good thing, but definitely better than tearing out the whole thing.

Thus the piles of whipped cream for everyone.

But, like I said, there were also good parts to the day. For example, we have enough meat filling our freezer to keep us fed for months to come:



I now need to research recipes. Any ideas will be appreciated. This isn't even all of it - some ended up in someone else's freezer. Maybe one of these days we'll have a "come eat elk and use our new toilet" party.

The church activity also seemed to be a success. Again, I'm not really in the mood for details here, but I didn't think it was going to go well at all. It was great. Good food, happy people, great music, and a very funky fashion show. And lots and lots of people helped me.

Also, the kids were so sweet and darling today. These kind of days can wear a kid out, you know? When I went upstairs to the nursery to collect my kids at the end of the evening Stomper was very excited to show me that one of his two loose front teeth was on the verge of falling out. Here he is demonstrating the extreme loose-ness of his tooth during the whipped cream session:



And of course, five minutes later, he yanked the thing out:



That picture makes me happy.

So now it's time for lots of sleep. I really hope tomorrow is better, but I'm not going to tempt fate by saying it can't be like this one. Because it can. I just really hope it isn't.

Friday, October 10, 2008

1 Down, 1 To Go


I have always loved my friend Cayenne's sweaters she's made for her kids. They're called Wallabies, and she assured me I'd be able to make one too. So I went out and bought the pattern and the yarn. It turns out that I can make one if I call her at least once a day for a few weeks. But, made it I did, and here it is! (It looks much cuter on Bitty than on the table, by the way.) Now I've started Stomper's and I think poor Cayenne might actually not have to coach me through every step of the way this time. She's pretty good, to be able to, over the phone, figure out what I'm talking about and what I need to fix. She's very talented.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Maybe I Can Do This...

I'll always love you, Gene Kelly. My mother introduced me to you many long years ago. I think you're fabulous. (By the way, GHD3, have I ever told you that I think you look quite a bit like him? You do!)

I think I've mentioned before how awesome my mom is. She did such a good job sharing her loves with us kids. She was always giving us opportunities to get acquainted with the arts. She rented all sorts of things from the library to show us, including Gene Kelly movies, Gilbert and Sullivan musicals, and plenty of Shakespeare. I think I also gained an undying love for the public library from her as well. I have many fond memories of my mom getting all excited when her favorite dance number came up in some show. I always wondered if I'd be able to muster enough energy in myself to pass some of that along to my own kids. Well, tonight at the dinner table Stomper started saying something about only girls being able to tap dance. Oh contraire, mon fraire! Within moments Stomper found himself being dragged into the living room by his mother. I did not actually make him watch all of Singing in the Rain, one of my favorite movies of all time. I did, however, show him three of my favorite dance numbers from the show, and I think I may have emulated my mom a little as I sat there, kneeling in front of the television getting all excited. And you know what? The kids thought it was pretty great. Stomper started pretending to be Gene Kelly, and Bitty really liked "the girl with the blue bow shoes," (Debbie Reynolds). I ended on the very silly "Make 'Em Laugh" number, starring Donald O'Connor, which escalted them into a frenzy of their own crazy dances around the living room. I was expecting that to end in tears, but thankfully, they were okay. They were still going crazy when I tucked them into bed, but thankfully the exhaustion took over. Bitty was zonked out within the first two pages of our book. I'll have to try that more often! Someday we'll actually watch the whole thing. Remind me to do it before Stomper turns 12 and thinks everything I do is dumb. Of course, tonight as I tried to kiss him goodnight he tried to make me swear I wouldn't kiss him again for the rest of his life. Maybe I should try the movie again sooner than age 12.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Successes and Failures, or, An Editorial Review

1.) It's not that easy being green.
As The Becky said last week, "Al Gore's finally getting to me." Aren't we all trying to live a little greener? Here's my failure: remembering to take my dang reusable shopping bags with me to the grocery store. I have like 8 of the things. Really, they're the best. I especially love the big black ones from Smith's. They cost a buck, are totally sturdy, and can hold a ton of stuff. I use them all the time and keep several in the car. But can I somehow get it in my head to bring them into the grocery store with me? No. I can not. Perhaps I am lazy to have them just out in the car and not go get them, but when the checker is halfway done checking things and I have two grumpy kids with me, I can't find the energy within myself to pause the whole operation, drag the two kids out and back into the store for the bags. Anyway. I can't stand that my brain won't make room for the reusable shopping bag concept. I'm working on it.

Here's my success: going plastic free at home. (Minus the shopping bags.) I have to say I've always loved having a really great stash of plastic in my kitchen drawer. Plastic wrap, plastic baggies of all shapes and sizes - that kind of thing. I have experimented lately with not purchasing those items. At first it really sucked. But I'm finding with some creativity I don't have to use it anymore! I'm pretty happy about it. For one thing, I save my bread bags and produce bags for times when I really need a cover for something. I use waxed paper to store some things in, and I've just been using tupperware for storage instead. Also, I'm slowly switching out all my plastic storage for glass. This fills my heart with happiness.

2.) Angering the Food Gods
Failure: a few weeks ago I was all by myself and stopped at a great little local cafe called Pinon to have some lunch. My eye was caught by a delicious looking sandwich - crusty soft roll, yummy warm filling - it was called the sloppy lentil. Perhaps it sounds a little yucky to you, but really, it was a terrific sandwich. I have been pondering the sandwich for quite some time (see how I am?) and I just can't figure out what the flavors were. So I googled sloppy lentil and came up with what sounded about right. It's been a while since I've felt inclined to cook, and I spent a happy afternoon chopping and dicing, seasoning and stirring. What I ended up with, just in time for dinner, was a huge pot of really disgusting goop. To top it off, I had also tried a new recipe for hamburger buns, which promised to produce a batch of the most wonderful puffy, soft rolls. I ended up with 12 beige golf balls. What had I done to so anger the food gods? I don't know, but it must have been bad.

Success: After taking the kids out for stale corn dogs at Smith's (forgetting to bring my bags,) I remained in quite a funk for the rest of the evening and most of the next day until I decided I had to redeem myself. That afternoon I adjusted the roll recipe and came up with some decent buns. (Don't I wish that were true in more than one sense...) I also had a big bowl full of fresh yellow squash and tomatoes from my parents' garden. I went to my happy place: my zen meditation of what to eat. So here's what you do. Chunk up your tomatoes and squash, add several sliced carrots, some whole peeled cloves of garlic, several sprigs of rosemary, oregano and thyme, drizzle them with olive oil and salt, and roast them until everything is pretty soft, brown, caramelized...you know. Remove the herbs. Add a couple splashes of white wine (make sure it sizzles) then add some chicken broth. Blend it. Add a few tablespoons of cream. Then eat it. With cheese on top. The food gods will be appeased.

3.) Who's in charge here?
I decided that I have had enough of monkeying around with Bitty's potty training. We've had a little plastic toilet in our living room for over a year now. She just won't commit. So I decided I was going to commit for her. Okay, Bitty, no more play dates with J. until you are using the potty all day every day. (I knew J. would be the key because the other day, Bitty woke up in the morning murmuring her name. That was funny.) Well, Bitty likes to be in charge. She decided that she doesn't care if she ever plays with J. again. Actually, for the most part it has been going fairly well, though I'm sure the entire family is pretty sick of hearing me say, "Do you need to go potty?" a thousand times a day. I thought my failure had come when she had two accidents within an hour of each other, both in public places, but no, that was actually no big deal. The real failure hit when I was on the phone with The Becky discussing potty training tactics when I heard grunting coming from the back porch. Yes, there was Bitty, pooping on the porch, and giving me an absolutely dazzling grin. That was failure. Success? Well, after I made her clean it up and then we gave her a bath in a bucket on the back lawn, I put her back in panties (I swore I was done with diapers and so be it) she actually used the potty twice after that, with no promptings. I'll take any success I can get at this point.

Sorry - long post, no pics, but hey, it's a post, right?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Family Reunited


My parents have managed to do the impossible: gather the entire family together in one place at one time. It seems as if the time for family reunions among my parent's cousins and siblings is waning and it is now time for my siblings to try for an annual gathering. Not that I don't love seeing my cousins - it's just that even seeing my own siblings is getting pretty hard. We had a lovely weekend in Park City all together. We gathered at a condo in the former Park West (oh, many a good concert was seen there, I'll tell ya...) now called The Canyons. It was a cool and rainy couple of days but we really enjoyed the place. Pool, ping pong, cute grandkids everywhere, cousins romping around and actually getting along, watching my newest niece toddling around, watching my oldest nieces being very grown up, having family show-and-tell, eating lots of good food...what more could you want? Thanks, Mom and Dad. I really do love my family.





Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ash. Housewares.

That title will only make sense to you if you are part of a very select group of people. Those who have seen, in its entirety, "Army of Darkness," the very silly/creepy/gross/wacky sequel to a movie that will always be close to my heart: "Evil Dead II." Now, any of you who know me well know that horror is not my movie genre of choice. Pretty much I avoid them at all costs. But one evening, long long ago, I was hanging out at Ben J.'s house with, I think, Dave and Kenton. Correct me if I'm wrong. This was like 15 years ago or something. Anyway, we stumbled across this movie on t.v. that looked like a horror show, but we found ourselves laughing our heads off. It was this hilarious horror spoof starring Bruce Campbell as Ashley "Ash" J. Williams. Come on guys, tell me you don't still laugh from time to time whenever you hear anyone say the word, "workshed." Inside joke. So Army of Darkness is the sequel, and it turned out to be one of the films that both Troy and I had both watched before we met each other. We were shocked to find this in common and have since punctuated our marriage with such phrases as "Gimme some sugar, baby," and "Hail to the king, baby." (Thanks a lot Mark, for actually purchasing this video for Troy, who has since memorized the entire thing.)

The reason I bring this up now is that Bitty, who is the classic princess fan, and lover of all things pink, purple, shiny, sparkly and fluffy, has decided upon a name to call herself in any game of pretend. That name is Ash. She also from time to time calls inanimate objects by the same name. Where did she get it? Is it genetically encoded in her brain to love that name? Okay, my brother did name his dog Ash (after the same character; Peter is another Bruce Campbell fan,) but he has been living in California for a few years and Bitty isn't old enough to remember their dog. Any time she puts on a princess dress we get in trouble if we call her by her name. "I'm Ash! Princess Ash!" I have no idea where she got it but it makes us laugh.

Look What I Can Do!


Troy saved the day last week by taking the kids with him on a boat ride up East Canyon. I had to teach a cooking class that night (on the mighty chick pea, just so you know) and Troy got invited to ski with the Burnett family (of doorknob fame). He took the kids with him so they could have a lovely evening together, which they did. Bitty wasn't especially keen on boat riding, as it turns out, but Stomper got pretty excited, especially when he got a chance to do a little skiing himself. He didn't even have to change into his swimming suit! Fancy that! When I called them after my cooking class was over they had just finished skiing and Stomper was so happy he was just bubbling over with joy.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pausing

Life seems to be zipping by in high speed these days, as it is for all of us, I know. I had to pause for a moment to, for one thing, relieve my conscience and actually blog something, as well as document a couple of things. Everyday, almost, I sit at the kitchen table and do a little homework with Stomper. He actually loves doing homework. I know, kindergarten assignments generally aren't too strenuous, but I'm encouraged by the fact that this is a nice time for us together. Bitty usually joins us as well, doing her own kind of homework by drawing and now staring to pretend to write letters. This is a drawing she did last week, and I was actually amazed by her fine motor skills, which haven't started developing in Stomper until the past several months:



Stomper's skills are coming along as well. Here are the words he's been learning to read and write in class: ("I am a" in case you can't tell:)



Also, we've been going through some boxes in the basement and found some hand-me-down soccer cleats from the neighbors that now fit Stomper perfectly. He loves them, and tries to wear them everywhere we go. The first night he put them on we had an impromptu soccer game in the backyard. Bitty felt bad that she didn't have soccer cleats as well, but we convinced her that the very cool hand-me-down corduroy keds that fit her were also of the sporting variety. She decided that they were "basket shoes" and talked for several days of joining a "basket team."