Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New look

What do you think of my new look? Does it mess anyone up (link wise) if I change my name?

The most amazing gift

Have you ever received a gift that made you cry? I never had until yesterday. My mother-in-law did the most amazingly thoughtful gift. In Ben's family, we draw names in August. It remains anonymous who's name you drew, and typically you spend the 4 months until Christmas trying to come up with a thoughtful and unique gift. Ben's family is enormously talented, and some of the gifts are unreal. His mom drew our name, and she decided to make us something to help us remember our childhood. She decided to make us each a quilt, as she has recently discovered a new hobby of quilting. Ben opened his gift first - it was a huge quilt made from all of his old sports jerseys from when he was young. It was wonderful.

Then, she brought out my present. She also wanted to make me a quilt to help me remember my childhood, so she decided to make me a landscape quilt of a scene from my grandparents' farm house. She had never made a landscape quilt before, so she thought she'd give it a try.

First, a little history: I grew up visiting my grandparents' farm house in Western Maryland. They owned a 200 year old stone farmhouse on a civil war battlefield (I say owned, because it was sold last year due to my grandfather's declining health). The house was used as a hospital during the battle of Antietam, and has now been restored. The adjacent mill on the property once had a large wheel out front, and was the town mill. It's actually no longer a working farm - in fact my grandparents were never farmers (he was an executive for a large corporation). The farm was such a quaint and wonderous place - almost spiritual because of its historic and nostalgic significance. I have so many fond memories of playing there as a child - exploring the fields and adjacent Civil War cemetery, trout fishing in the river on the property, and using a metal detector to find old relics.

My grandfather was meticulous in his restoration and maintenance of the property. Inside, every attention to detail was made, and things were refurbished as close to how they would have originally looked. Even the furnishings were antique. On the outside, the 14 acres were immaculate. My grandfather especially loved flowers, and had an amazing talent of making things grow.

Anyway - now that I have rambled on about my most fond childhood memory, I want to post a picture of the quilt. The quilt is about 2'x3', and framed under archival glass. Its the most amazing thing I've ever seen - I've posted some pictures. Keep in mind that this is the first landscape quilt my mother-in-law has ever made.

Here is the original photo that would become the quilt. The door in the foreground led to the cellar, where my grandma kept an endless supply of otter pops. The other door leads to the kitchen (if you're interested, you can see some other pictures of the farm. Of course, you'll have to wade through some other photos of my grandparents' 60th anniversary party). Something that my mother-in-law didn't even know, but that makes this even more special, is that my sister took this picture, and my dad laid the stone in the walkway.

Here is the quilt. This picture doesn't do it justice. Every piece is individually hand-quilted. The colors didn't come across very well in the scan.

I know I've used the word amazing 100x, but it really is. Somehow, she conveyed the spirit of the farm. Looking at the picture, I can smell the unique smell of the farm. I feel like I'm there.
Here are the 2 pictures side-by-side. Notice the detail, especially in the stone. Every piece matches almost exactly.

I didn't even know how to react - hopefully it was the right reaction. I cried - bawled like a baby. Its the most amazing thing anyone has ever done for me.

Christmas 2007

Christmas morning dawned cold and snowy - the perfect start to a Christmas day (of course by the time the sun rose, we had be awake for 2 hours).
We had a couple of inches of fresh snow on Christmas Eve - just enough that Daddy had to shovel. And at 22 degrees that morning, it was still not cold enough to need a coat and gloves when he shoveled (his body must still be used to living in Siberia, although he's been in Utah for 9 years).
Christmas for us comes in 3 rounds: our house, G'ma Debbie and G'ma Mary's house. Round 1 started bright and early - at 5:25 am. Lucky for Daddy, I kept the girls in G's room for an hour before they could no longer be contained, and Daddy got to "sleep in" unti. 6:15 am. Santa brought the girls a box full of dress-up items. Bryn immediately had to try on some of the items - the dress-ups were a big hit (which made Santa very happy, as he had been collecting items for months).
Mommy also gave the girls baby dolls, who appear to be well-loved . . .
Complete with their own strollers, which are incredibly fun to push around on the wood floors.

Round 2 began at 9am at G'ma D's house. The drive there was incredibly fun. My parents live in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains, and they get lots more snow than we do. On some of the roads, we were the first car to have driven in the freshly fallen (and unplowed snow). It was amazingly fun. And our car did great - even when we tried to spin out, the car stayed in control. Shortly after arriving at G'ma's house, the present frenzy began again.
This is my brother wearing a new shirt. He loves shirts with funny sayings - especially the ones about the states (like "its all relative in West Virginia"). We also have a family joke that comes from driving I-15 through the state. Central Utah is very unpopulated, and 2 of the biggest towns along I-15 are Beaver and Fillmore. We always makes jokes about driving through the "Fillmore/Beaver" area of the state. This shirt came from my sister and her hubby, who stopped at the rest stop in Beaver a few weeks ago coming home from Vegas. Just in case you can't read what this shirt says, it has a basic map of the state, and reads "I found Beaver in Utah". Its very appropriate for my newly divorced, party-boy brother. And pretty freakin' hilarious.
I couldn't get a serious picture of G all day.
M and G (being silly again)
Daddy and Bryn

Round 3 began at 1:30 at G'ma Mary's house. Bryn fell asleep on the way there, and crashed for 2 hours in the play room. Notice how she is surrounded by toys?
Daddy and G - I love this picture.
My in-laws lived in Switzerland for many years, and brought home a love for European cheeses. We had the yummiest cheese bar, and I ate waaaay too much. But it was good. I think I ate about 20 apples and gouda.
Bryn finally woke up, and had a blast with her cousins.
Oh - and did I mention that we got MORE presents here?
It was a wonderful day. We are so blessed and grateful to have such an amazing family.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mister Sandman . . .

I don’t think that I truly appreciated sleep until I became a parent. Back when I was “without child” I could sleep-in whenever I wanted, and staying up late was no big deal. Sadly, those sleep-filled days are gone, and I fear I’m in such a sleep deficit that I’ll never recover.

Last night I stayed up way too late. But, I had so much to do. After the girls were in bed I ran for an hour (trying to make up for all the toffee I ate at work yesterday, and I had the season finale of Dexter to watch from the DVR). By the time I got upstairs from the “dreadmill” and hit the shower, it was almost 9:30. I wanted to work on finishing the beaded bracelets for my coworkers, but Ben wanted to hang out with me too. Needless to say, I didn’t get to bed until 11pm, and I had to be up for work at 5am.

Unfortunately the girls didn’t care that their mommy was tired. In the 6 hours I had to sleep, they were up 5 times. I had barely laid down when Bryn started crying. I went into her room, where she was crying “owie, owie”. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me, “Binny need a kiss, right here” and pointed to her forehead. I kissed her, and fortunately she laid right down and was quiet – for another 90 minutes. She woke 2 more times in the night – both times asking for milk (we’d eaten Café Rio for dinner, and she ate over ½ of my salad – and I’m always thirsty after eating that). G was up twice herself – once for milk and once because she said she was finished sleeping. I’m afraid I lost my patience with her that second time. I know I only had about an hour more of sleep, and I wanted every minute of it. I threatened her that Santa would be called if she didn’t go back to sleep. Luckily that did the trick.

But mommy is dragging today. Its insanely slow at work today (obviously slow enough to post a blog entry), and I’m struggling to keep myself from napping on the couch in the breakroom.

Its been a busy week. On Tuesday the girls had their daycare Christmas concert. G was super excited, and was so cute. She belted out every word to every song with a smile on her face (unfortunately I forgot my camera) – it was a big change from last where, where she just stood there stone-faced. Bryn wanted to be a part of the action too. She went up to the front and stood by her sister for a few minutes. But then she got bored – she wandered around jabbering to random people in the audience, and even asked a few of them to hold her. Then she tired of that, and decided to beat up the inflatable snowman in the corner of the room. She ended up knocking him to the ground (of course that would be my child). After the concert, Santa came. G excitedly sat on his lap and asked for a baby (we’re hoping this is a doll, and not an actual baby). Bryn was scared of Santa, and preferred to try and steal his candy canes.

And to add to the disjointed nature of this post, I wanted to add something else completely unrelated to the title. It does however relate back to a post from a few days ago, where I was complaining about my neighborhood. As it turns out, I may not be crazy – I think people may be snubbing us. Ben’s coworker also lives in our neighborhood, but on another street. We sat with them at the work Christmas party the other night, and now they feel more comfortable with us. He asked Ben yesterday at work how we like living where we do. Ben was honest, and said that we were so unhappy that we had considered putting our house up for sale. His coworker admitted to Ben that when they moved in, they were warned to stay away from the “Wildcat Court Clique” (we live on Wildcat Court). Apparently people at church think everyone who lives on Wildcat is a snob and won’t associate with them. I feel like I’m back in junior high school – how petty can adults be? At least I know I’m not crazy – but I still do want to move.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday, Monday

I've got 11 minutes until I go home for the day. Today has been SUCH a Monday. Ah. I remember the days of December being a slow and quiet time around the office. Even with the slow down of the real estate market things are still crazy around the office.

And I'm so tired today (thanks to a houseguest, who deserves a whole post of their own). I tried to combat the tiredness today by drinking a ginormous diet coke - so then I spent the afternoon feeling tired and jittery (how did I live on gallons of that stuff only a few months ago?) Then I gorged on holiday treats to the tune of probably 1000 calories. I'm skipping dinner tonight and running about 5 miles. Maybe that will help?

Anyway . . .

Thanks to Julia, I now have a blog to stalk that is SO me!

Can anyone belive that this whole disjointed post took me 11 minutes? And now its time to go home.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Love and hate

After reading Tiburon’s “favorite things” list, and Chelsea’s “things I hate” list, I’ve decided to compile myself 2 lists in one post. First of all, my favorite things:

1. My sweet girls. How I got so lucky to be their mommy, I will never know. But I count my blessings every day.
2. My flat iron. Ben surprised me by buying it for me after I’d gone to the salon and felt beautiful. Not that I can create that same look for myself, but the flat iron helps a lot.
3. DVR. I have never been much of a TV watcher. In fact, when Ben insisted we get a DVR earlier this year, I was very much against it. Now I don’t think I could live without it. I record several shows, and watch them while I run. I get to fast-forward the commercials, and watch them when I have time.
4. My treadmill. We purchased it in the spring, and while it was probably a bit too expensive, I consider it an investment in my health. Now I can run when I want, whether Ben is home or not, in the basement, day or night, rain or shine.
5. Steep and Cheap dot com. I hesitate posting this one, because I consider it my little secret. It is a seriously addictive website that only posts one item for sale at a time. But in the past year I’ve been able to purchase my trail running shoes, ski parka, climbing harness, and countless other items at ridiculously low prices. And since they’re local, I can pick the items up and save on shipping.
6. Café Rio. I could eat there every day. Great food. Cheap prices. And my kids LOVE it there too.
7. My car. I’ve never been a car person – until we got the MDX. When the Chev broke down for the umpteenth time this summer, I told Ben to trade it in and bring me something reliable. He brought home the MDX. I’ll have to admit that I never thought I needed navigation, heated seats, a DVD player, and Bose sound, but it would sure be hard to live without them now.
8. Outdoors/nature. I don’t spend enough time outside – I love the mountains especially.
9. Dee’s Cereal. Love the stuff. I eat a bowl every morning. It is healthy, filling, and keeps me regular. ‘nuff said.
10. Running. I just became a runner this year. Prior to C25k, I couldn’t even run a mile. Now I’m the proud (slow) finisher of one marathon, and I’m planning what races to run in ’08.

Now for the things I hate (this list was much more difficult to compile):
1. Errant apostrophe use. I know I posted an entry about this about a month ago, but apparently not enough people read my blog. It really isn’t “that” difficult to understand the difference between plural and possessive. When in doubt, Google it!
2. Crappy bras. Ever since I weaned Bryn, I’ve had a difficult time finding a bra that fits. I’m not even sure what size I am. Perhaps I need to take Oprah’s advice and get fitted.
3. Laundry. I could wash and put away a load every day, and still be behind. It’s a thankless job.
4. Crumbs on my kitchen floor. I swiffer after every meal, and still my floor is dirty. Another thankless job.
5. McDonalds. Why the heck do my kids love this place so much? The restaurant is dirty inside and the food is nasty.
6. Money. I suppose that technically I like money, but I hate that I feel like we never have enough of it. I hate that it seems like I cannot work hard enough to get ahead. I despise that we have to spend so much of our income to live in an average home. I cringe when I fill up my car and spend $3.00+ a gallon.
7. Winnie the Pooh. What the heck is a pooh anyway? Didn’t like him as a kid, and I cannot stand him now.
8. Judgmental people. I guess I’m a bit sensitive, but I’m sick of disapproving attitudes. I could probably spend an entire post on this subject alone, but I think I leave my comments for now.
9. Fat. I love my kids, but I hate my jiggley, post-baby body. I don’t know that my poor stomach can ever recover from a 9+ pound baby – oh the stretch marks.
10. Bad drivers – especially people who think its ok to hit-and-run. Seriously hate.

Pics from our annual gingerbread house making party

Ever since I was a kid, we've made gingerbread houses at Christmas. When I was younger, we'd actually bake the gingerbread and go to the candy store for decorations. Now we just buy kits. Its much easier, cheaper, and the houses are just as cute. It was one of my favorite traditions as a kid, and now my kids love it. Even Bryn was putting small candies on the house (and eating her fair share as she went along). And sweet G didn't eat anything, because I asked her to wait until we were finished. Does that make me a mean mommy? She still had fun, and ate some of the left over stuff. Luckily G'ma offered to host the party, saving me from hours of scraping frosting from my floors.
My nephew and his house. It was a "chalet".
See how focused my girls were? G loves tedious things. She's very focused.
Finished products (and a bit of goofy-ness)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Has it really been over a week

Wow - I've really neglected my blog lately. I haven't even been stalking blogs like normal - so if you haven't seen a comment from me lately, don't fret. I've just been taking a break. Life has been flying by a break-neck speed, and I've not had time to keep up with my blogging responsiblities. I hope to remedy that soon.

With the holidays fast approaching and a grant application to put out at work, I've had actual work to keep me busy. And at home, I've been trying to stay away from the computer. My husband was feeling neglected, or something like that. I think I've also been in a bit of a funk. I've actually started about 10 different blog entries in the past week, but have deleted them all instead of posting. Maybe I should just try and put some snippits of each in now. Hopefully my random ramblings will be coherant enough to follow along.
Bryn is growing up! She's graduated the baby room at daycare this week, which I suppose means that she is a full-fledged toddler now - as much as I hate to admit it. Although her birthday isn't until February, she's now in the 2 year old room - full time! She even takes her nap on one of those cute little cots. She is so big and bright, and 95% of the time she's such a joy. (you can see my earlier post about her being Satan's spawn to find out what the other 5% is) She is talking so much now. Although much of what she says is still unintelligible, she's speaking in full sentences and she can count to 10. She can also sing several songs. The words may not all be right, but she's gotten the gist. She also loves her big sister, and wanted to have and do whatever G's into at the moment. Funny girl.
I want another baby. As completely impractical as it would be for us, I want one. I'm not sure why I'm so baby hungry right now. I've almost lost all of the 75 pounds that I gained with Bryn. And really, being pregnant sucks! With both girls, I suffered from hyperemesis, and threw up almost every single day (and still gained 75 pounds!!!) Financially, we could not afford daycare for a 3rd (we can barely afford 2 right now). And 2 kids to 2 parents is perfect odds - one more kid and the parents would be completely outnumbered.

But somehow I feel like there is still one more baby out there somewhere to call me Mommy. I want to be done having babies - really I do. But I know in my heart that I'm not. (At least I think I know. Maybe there is something about having a fully functioning uterus that makes a woman never truly feel "done"). I've actually been considering having my IUD removed and just taking my chances. Odds are, we can't even get pregnant on our own anyway. But somehow, I'd feel like I was putting things into God's hands that way.

UGH - if only I could get Ben on board. What if my IUD just "accidentally" came out (is that even possible?)
We're thinking of putting our house up for sale. I know - we've not even lived there 2 years. But there are so many reasons why I want to move:

1. The most important reason: money. We're paying so much for our house. I'm almost embarassed to admit how much, especially to anyone who has seen it, but our mortgage is about as much as Ben's paycheck (for the entire month) Of course this is post layoff, because his job sucks right now. But its still difficult to hand that amount over every month. I would like to use our equity to get into something much cheaper to lower our monthly payment. This is assuming we could actually sell our house right now.

2. I don't like my neighborhood very much. It is very cliquish (is that a word?) and I've never felt like I fit in. And in Utah, the people in your neighborhood are also the same people you go to church with. So I feel out of place there as well. So does my entire family. Ben even feels snubbed. And poor G came home from nursery on Sunday complaining that no one would play with her. Its like there's a black cloud around our family, and no one wants to associate with us. I've never had a difficult time making friends before, and G has lots of friends at school. I don't know what has happened here.

3. Our house is really nice, and for the most part I like it. But since we had it built and never walked through a house with our same floor plan, there are some aspects that I really don't like. The worst part, is that the kids bedrooms are right by the front door. Its really noisy up there. I wish their rooms were more secluded and quiet. I think I want a 2 story again.
I didn't get any of the 3 jobs I applied for last month. At least I don't think I did - I haven't actually heard back, which I'm pretty sure by now means I didn't get them. Oh well. I'm sure if I'm meant to change jobs, it will happen. Besides, I don't know that I want to give up my Fridays off. I would have to get one good job offer to even consider moving.

I just wish that either Ben or I could make more $$$$. We're so strapped right now. I keep waiting for something to happen for us to make more money, but I'm not seeing it. And all sorts of unexpected bills keep piling up: our property taxes went up by $1100 last year, our car got hit by some unknown person, and now our basement has water in it (our shower is leaking). Nice. Some days I want to just give up. It is so frustrating to feel like I'm working so hard, but we keep falling further and further behind (this goes back to why I want to sell our house).

UGH. See why I haven't been posting? It just turns into a pity-me party. I'd better get back to work. Maybe tonight I'll post the picks of our annual gingerbread house making party.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Snow day

I didn't take a picture of our poor phallic snowman. Utah is the greatest snow on earth - for snowboarding and skiing - but unfortunately not so good for snowman making (its too powdery and doesn't stick together). The kids had a great time anyway, especially Bryn, who couldn't get enough of stomping around in her "spoots"

Monday, December 03, 2007

Puke:1 poop:2 boogers: 4

That was the official tally last night of how much of each I'd had on my hands in the past 24 hours. Needless to say, it hadn't been a good day for my kids. (or their mommy)

G's really sick. She's got some weird gastro thing. Yesterday she woke from her nap saying she was sick. We were on our way to my mom's house, when she puked all over herself - which isn't necessarily weird in itself, other than the fact that her vomit contained undigested food from the night before. And it smelled like sulfury poo. We continued onto G'mas, and cleaned her up there. She seemed fine: no fever, ate 2 pieces of toast, and ran around for hours. Then she woke at 1am puking and pooping at the same time - and the weird part about it is that her vomit and diahrrea look and smell exactly the same. And she has no fever. After her 1am incident, she felt fine. Daddy held her while I ran to the C-store for some soda. As I drove over there, the radio was playing that stupid Hawaiian Christmas song, and all I could think on the way over was how I'd just uped my tally: poop and vomit may just edge out the boogers before the night was over. She and I wat up, watched a movie, drank some Sprite and went to bed. Then the entire incident repeated itself again at 5am. The part that is so concerning to me, is that she has no fever and that her excretions smell so strange. Have any of you ever experienced similar symptoms?

At any rate, I'm one tired mommy. Bryn also woke twice in the night. UGH

Sorry for the disjointed post. Bryn's awake in her bed now, singing "la la la". Hope she's not sick today.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Ok, so I sort of fell of the NaBloPoMo wagon

Last Friday night, I fell asleep watching a basketball game. I completely forgot to post. And somehow, skipping one post, made me realize how burnt out with posting I had become. So, I decided to boycott the whole rest of the month. Here's a quick recap of what I should have posted (why is this underlined???): I had planned to do an entire post of the process I went through making my homemade pumpkin pie from scratch - yes, I used a real pumpkin. I also ground my own fresh nutmeg and ginger, and used all organic ingredients. I mixed them all in the blender, and it really didn't take much longer than it would have to use that disgusting canned crap (that isn't all really pumpkin). And I was really proud of my domestic abilities!
I know this is a horrible picture, but G insisted that we put up our tree the day after Thanksgiving. In fact, she woke up at about 2am that night freaking out that we hadn't done our tree yet. So, first thing Friday morning, the girls did the tree while daddy was at work. What a nice suprise - Daddy HATES to do the tree. G was a very good helper, and Bryn kept taking the star ornaments off so she could carry them around singing "twinkle little star". I'm still finding ramdom stars all over the house.
The girls had a blast enjoying my domestic abilities. This picture is out of order, but it shows the girls enjoying the remnants of the organic chocolate pie we made. Yummy!
Bryn has decided that she likes to bath with her clothes on. I'm not sure where Daddy was, but he walked in to find her inside the tub with her clothes completely on. I undressed her in the tub, only to find that she also had a dirty diaper. Yuck. Needless to say, we ran a second bath that night. (and this was a different night from the one where Bryn pooped all over Daddy's pillow after the bath)
Out of order again, but doesn't this pie look divine? Pumpkin pie is seriously one of the world's most perfect foods - especially from scratch. Yummy. I had to leave it at my mom's house so that I didn't eat all the left overs in one day.

Maybe I'll be back tomorrow to post pics of the snow day we had today, and of the world's ugliest snowman in our front yard. The poor thing seriously looks like a giant penis sculpture.