Monday, December 30, 2013

Merry Christmas from Us!

We're having a great time (except for when we're not) with everyone out of work and school. Mostly it's been okay and the boys haven't killed each other, so I consider that a success! Here's what you've missed since I haven't been blogging:

ULTRA-warm first day of winter meant Great Falls

Christmas Eve gingerbread houses and partying with friends

Christmas morning presents (and air heads in mouths)

Christmas brunch with cousins

New Christmas clothes from grandparents

I go back to work on Tuesday, but it's okay because Wednesday is another holiday!

P.S. Rhett's reaction after opening his nutcracker gift from Ollie. Seriously that boy could not love nutcrackers any more.

P.P.S. Today is our anniversary. Nine years! Time to get serious planning that 10th anniversary trip.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Only in Zion

Each Friday Rhett brings home the work he did in school during the week. We briefly look through it and talk about it. But this one caught my eye. He didn't get an the highest grade and when I looked to see why, I saw that he had switched "Adult" with "Elder." When I asked him why he switched them, this is what he said: "Well, when boys are missionaries, they are called elders. After that they turn into adults." Sure makes sense to Mormons!

P.S. And no, this post is not at all related to Christmas. What of it?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Molecules of Misery

Because it's me, it's time for some complaining about my rotten children. I happen to have two boys who, when separated, are fun, silly boys. But when together, WHOO BOY. Watch out. If you see the two of them together, RUN the other way. I do. Well, at least I really, really want to.

If I'm being totally honest, they're not all bad. After they wake up, but before they're allowed out of bed in the morning, they seem to play well together. But as soon as their bedroom door is opened and until it is closed at 7 p.m., our lives are miserable. The sad thing is that alone, each boy is pretty good. Once Rhett is at school, Ollie and I have a good time. And if Ollie is napping, Rhett can be nice and cooperative. But something about their molecules just create an atomic bomb when they're in the same room.

Here is a small, but representative, sample of the things they currently fight over:
Who gets to sit in the new chair at the kids' table
Who gets to look at the back of the cereal box during breakfast
Whose choice of show we watch first
Who gets to play with the toy neither has played with in months
Who gets the in-tact toy that remains after its twin was broken by a boy
Which book we'll read first at book time
What punishment should be doled after one bites/slaps/hits/punches the other

I know this is totally normal stuff for siblings to fight over. I know it. But man, living it? Awful.

P.S. Caitlin, I loved your idea that I named "Snowflakes of Service." Unfortunately I have spent all my energy this month fighting boys (see above). But it's on my calendar for next year, should they miraculously start getting along.

P.P.S. Speaking of calendars, to save money, I thought I'd try a new planner this year. It should be in the mail as you read this, and I'm
soooo excited for it!

Monday, December 16, 2013


This is what made Rhett exclaim, "And now I KNOW magic is real!"

P.S. I can't not record this gem from early November. "If Kitty and I got married I'd be so embarrassed because...[dramatic pause]...a cat, for a wife?!"

Friday, December 13, 2013

What To Do?

Chuck was in charge of decorations for our ward's Christmas party last week. In addition to cutting more than 100 paper snowflakes, he made 16 of these large, red, popsicle stick snowflakes. But now that the party is over, what are we supposed to do with them? A friend suggested hanging them on the ceiling (not from the ceiling, but on), but I'm afraid of the asbestos-filled popcorn ceiling and prefer to leave that untouched. Our walls are pretty filled, so, uh, where?

Image taken from here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Perfect Storm

Why was this storm so perfect? Let me enumerate the reasons for you.

1. It was predicted to start during Tuesday's morning rush hour. Any storm predicted to drop 3-7" during morning rush hour means that Chuck and I were both let out of work. And of course school was cancelled, so this meant a snow day for the entire family.

2. Because it didn't start until sunrise, we were able to keep the kids inside a bit, eating coffee cake and watching shows, until the main event.

3. My mom is awesome and earlier had sent snow pants and snow coats for the kids, so we were ready. I have a firm testimony of appropriate snow gear in order to have a good experience. Sorry, but jeans and/or sweats just don't work. (Sadly, we don't have good snow boots for the kids, but their rain boots filled in okay.)

4. Because the kids were so prepared, we were able to spend 1.5 hours sledding and snowman-making in the morning. It was so much fun to watch Rhett go down. And the predicted 3-7" turned into 2-3", but that was great because my small children could still maneuver in it. More than 6" and I don't think they would have lasted nearly as long. Also, it was great for making snowmen and balls. Not that light, beautiful, perfect Utah snow at all. Blech. Who wants that?!

5. Because Rhett had no school the day before (thanks ice storm), we had Christmas cookies, which, with hot chocolate, were perfect after sledding.

6. This is not perfect: little Ollie got his second ear infection in about three weeks, so we scheduled a doctor appointment and put him down for an early nap. When that early nap didn't take well, we rushed outside for our second dose of sledding. That's right: good parents take their sick kids sledding.

7. After the doctor appointment, we were able to get some errands done, and then we made it to some drive-through Christmas lights. Of course the kids loved them.

8. The 2-3" of snow didn't cancel my date with friends once the kids were in bed.

P.S. This post is late because of the crazy-non-stop-edness of Tuesday and the loss of phone, internet, and cable Sunday and Monday.

P.P.S. Yes, this is how Ollie decorates cookies. Just dumps entire package of sprinkles onto the cookies.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Things in My House that Make Me Smile

This table. I love the runner (when I blur my eyes and don't see the crazy corners, that is). I love the napkin holders.

I love the ornaments that Chuck was inspired to put on our strange-but-I-love-it branch.

That is all.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Only 368 Days to Train (and design a costume)

Did you know that the house used in "A Christmas Story" is now museum dedicated to the movie? The inside-the-house parts were shot on a sound stage of course, but the house itself was recently purchased and redone to make it look exactly like how it was used in the film. Super cool, right? So the other night when I'm looking to see where the house is (because, c'mon, admit it, you want to go), guess what I found? A 5K/10K "A Christmas Story" race. I'm totally going. If it wasn't already sold out for this year, I'd go up Friday.

I mean, seriously. Did you see how awesome it will be? You get to drink rich, chocolatey Ovaltine. You get a stellar leg lamp t-shirt. And you get a medal. Plus you get to be at the Christmas Story house. This is incentive enough.

Who is with me? Linda, want to make a family road trip out of it and meet us? Anyone else? Because no lie, I'm totally doing it.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving Weekend Recap

Because Chuck's parents moved this spring, and because we'd have to be millionaires to afford plane tickets at Thanksgiving to be at my parents' house, we had no other choice but a friends-only Thanksgiving. All the regular characters were there (turkey, cranberries, orange rolls, sweet potatoes, pie, you know), but this time with friends instead of family. As expected, we had a wonderful day. I started with an early (6:30 a.m.), cold (25 degrees), long (9.5 miles) run with my friend Sharon*. When I finished, Chuck got his physical activity in the form of flag football. Then we both put the kids in front of the tv so we could work on the food. We brought cranberries, sweet potatoes, two pies, and orange rolls. (Yes, maybe it's weird to post a picture of the food, but I was so proud of it all.)

We had four kids who all happily sat at the kids' table. I have no idea what my boys ate, but I also don't care. As long as they let me enjoy the company and food, I was happy.

Friday we spent all day at home with the exception of our trip to get the tree. I wish I could say we supported a local, organic farm. Or that we chopped down our own after snowshoeing for miles. But we chose to not afford the first option, and the second option is just too far away. So option 3 ($21 tree at Home Depot) would have to do. We spent all morning decorating the house and all afternoon sitting in front of the fire. It was awesome.

Saturday morning a friend hosted an Ugly Sweater 2.2 mile race. Five people ran and guess who won? ME. I. I won a race. I'm still pretty proud of myself. And not only was I the first to finish, I also got the award for "Granny"-est sweater. Chuck clearly earned his medal. (These items were purchased specifically for this race. They did not come from our regular wardrobes.)

Sunday was another day at church (but better than last week because we weren't speaking) followed by some quiet time and the regular week's prep. Our advent activity was to decorate the tree, but since that was completed on Friday, we thought we'd add some cranberry-popcorn strands. (Can you believe that I actually asked my child to look at the camera and smile? I'm such a mean mom.) And yes, the nutcracker wanted to "watch" the activity.

*Can I just say that I am so grateful for my running girls? We started our Thursday night track workouts last January to help train for the half, and we haven't stopped running together since. They are my free therapy. They are my good friends. They are my "me time." I love love love running with them.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

If You're a Bird, Be an Early Bird

I know I complain a lot about my little boys waking early. But if I'm totally honest (do I have to be?), I love my family of early birds. Which is a good thing because in our house, there's no avoiding it. I'm out the door before 6:00 a.m. Monday through Friday, for either running or work. Chuck leaves the house between 6:30 and 7:00. And because our house isn't that big, and we're just not that quiet, it's only natural that our boys wake up early too.

Why do I love getting up early? Because it means that by 8:00 a.m., we can be runned, dressed, fed, clothed, and ready for the day. Why is this so good? Because things are empty in the mornings! We were at the zoo early one morning recently, and it was empty. Empty means no people. No people means quiet. I love it. The same goes for going downtown. Or going to IKEA. Or going anywhere, really. And if we go early, it means we can come back early, which means Ollie sometimes even gets a nap! And of course, because the boys are up early, they go down early. Whenever Rhett asked why he has to go to bed earlier than his friends, I get to tell him it's because he wakes earlier than his friends.

Sure, sometimes being a late family would be helpful. Like when I stay up until 1 a.m. with my (now-defunct) craft night women. Or when we want to stay up late in the evening to see the gorgeous Great Falls at twilight. But for the most part, I'm happy with us.

P.S. I can't lie and say that every now and then, especially maybe Sundays in 2014 when church doesn't start until 12:30, I pray for a post-7:00 a.m. wake up.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Dark Cloud Has Lifted

Chuck and I spoke in church yesterday. It's times like these that make me want the church to reconsider their lay clergy. Just sayin'.

Friday, November 22, 2013

I Made Stuff

Rhett should be losing teeth sometime this year, right? Well, whenever it happens, I'm ready. This is hanging on the bedpost, just waiting. (Help me out, people. What do we give him when he does lose that tooth?! A quarter? Fifty cents? Twenty dollar bill?)

An apron for a sweet three-year-old's birthday.

This was for sweet one-year-old's birthday. The doll outfit happens to match a dress I made for the birthday girl, back when she was 0. Pattern comes from Martha Stewart.

I threw a baby shower for a friend a couple of weeks ago and had the attendees do some freezer paper stenciling of onesies. These were two of my favorites.

I made this banner and was so pleased with the way it hung that I haven't taken it down. It counts for Thanksgiving decor, right?

I recently bought a Kindle, and of course I needed a cover for it. I found a tutorial, used some gorgeous fabric, but then had to throw it all away since the tutorial was not my favorite (the cover was so stiff it would barely close). But at least I had a prototype that I could use to draft a much better pattern.

I love this hat. I made one for Rhett years ago, and mis-remembered this as being a difficult pattern. It's not. I should have done this a long time ago.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

All's Quiet on the Boys' Room Front Until...

Most parents get nervous when their children-at-play get quiet. Me? I get happy. It means they're playing nicely. It means they're not fighting. It means I can ignore them. Sure I checked on them, very sneakily, so as to not disturb their cooperative play. And then I returned with the camera very sneakily to catch this gem. (Rhett in the jail; Ollie with no pants, but with ill-put-on swimsuit and sun hat.)

But then I returned to my house cleaning, or newspaper reading, or internetting. Until. Until I heard the bang followed by the "MOM COME HERE!" I quickly came and saw Rhett, bleeding from the head. So not awesome.

There was a pretty big gash (source of which is still a mystery--dresser? jail?), and me with all my medical training, immediately called Chuck, with all his medical training. He happened to be at some leadership meetings for Stake Conference, but after my two calls, he knew something was wrong. He came home immediately, and away Rhett and I went to the emergency room. In the end, Rhett ended up with only some laceration glue, a popsicle, and some ice cream for the whole family.

Me? I probably should feel more guilty. I mean, maybe this wouldn't have happened had I been watching them, or if I had been in the same room. But then again, as parents don't we want our children to learn to play without us standing over them at every second? As parents, don't we want our children to learn to play with each other without us refereeing every squabble? Rhett's okay. I'm okay (although $100 poorer). It made our unexciting lives a bit exciting for a couple of hours. Not bad at all.

P.S. Then, because Ollie can't have Rhett getting all the attention, Ollie caught himeslf an ear infection Monday morning. The poor dude was screaming, "OWIE" all morning long.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Another of Those Crazy Games We Played Growing Up

My mom loves her some SweeTarts. Loves them. So we would occasionally have them around the house. Now that we're grown and gone, she buys them in the long, single-serving packs. But before, we'd often have them in the three-littles-to-a-pack variety. And every time one of us opened one, the others would too, just so that we could play our "game." There never were any points assigned, nor any real rules. But without fail, emily and I knew who won immediately upon the opening of the packs.

How did we know? Triple Pink is/was always the supreme hand. If you were dealt three pinks, well, you might as well stop playing forever because that can't be beat. But because it could be tied, you kept playing. Blues and greens were the worst. Three blues or three greens and you lose. Orange was good, but not as good as pink.

The other day I got into the leftover Halloween candy (as of the day I was typing this, there remains some), and found two packs. You can see the outcome below.

P.S. Remember this other game I played when I was "little?" That was fun.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Update: Adults

Obviously we are way more boring than our cute kids. So read at your own risk.
  • Chuck's new job is going fine. He's still learning it, but is adjusting to an "office" culture.
  • Because of the furlough and compressed deadlines, I have to tweak my work days a LOT this month, but otherwise, my job is fine.
  • We have no upcoming travel on our calendar. I'm a lot bummed about this.
  • This will be our first Thanksgiving and Christmas in nearly nine years of marriage with no family.
  • We are so boring I can't even think of anything else to type.
  • Why are you still reading?
  • Go do something fun and then tell me about it so I can do it too.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Update: Rhett

Now it's Rhett's turn.
  • He is drawing WAY more than he ever did before starting kindergarten. He will disappear into the library for 30 minutes and come out with some creation.
  • Sometimes that creation is a punishment of sorts for us. The other day he came out with a stop light and told Chuck and me that we were "on yellow." (This is a behavior thing they do at school--the closer to red, the worse your behavior. He's never not been on green. I had to throw that in there--proud mama moment.)
  • Sometimes that creation is a paper box mask/hat (attached with TONS of tape) that says "Do not talk to me." (Well, maybe not in those letters, mind you. He's still learning to spell.)
  • Sometimes it's a drawing of Ollie in the port-a-crib with "duck tap" (sic--but you get it) on his mouth. (Should we call someone on this one?)
  • His reading his coming along great! Just last week we sat down and he read an entire Bob book to me.
  • His afternoon tantrums have abated, but his post-daylight saving times tantrums have kicked in. Seriously, I despise DST.
  • His speech is also doing much better. After two years with the therapist, I think he's right where he should be.
  • He does not play well with Ollie. Something about how he takes toys away from Ollie, which makes Ollie cry, which makes parents mad, which gets him in trouble.
  • We switched his daily chore chart to his daily High 5s. He has a morning High 5, an evening High 5, and one special daily chore. For doing these he earns tickets, and he can use the tickets to "buy" "stuff."
  • He loves "new" things. And these don't have to be actual new things; switching upstairs and downstairs couches will suffice.
  • His favorite music these days is anything by Laurie Berkner. He likes other stuff, but she's definitely tops.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Update: Ollie

What's Ollie up to these days? I'm sure you were wondering. Here's a list of some things that he's doing.
  • He loves to tell us what to say. "Mom say, 'Yay Ollie!'" is just an example. He tells us to thank him should he help out, or bless him should he sneeze, or cheer for him should he do something fantastic (or even less-than fantastic).
  • He loves to tell us what to sing. "Mom sing 'Zip-a-dee-doo-dah'" was the request I got the other day in the car.
  • He loves to sing. His favorite song is the ABCs, but he'll bust out anything, including "America the Beautiful," should the mood strike him or if he's holding something that feels like a flag.
  • He likes to dance. It's a crazy, spinning thing, but it's still dancing.
  • He is still an okay sleeper. He bothers Rhett a little bit at night (wait until I give you the evidence on Wednesday--it's a doozy), but once the reading light is off, he is out.
  • He wants to go to the playground all the time. Even when it's in the 30s outside.
  • He is either a klutz or just more daring but without the skill. He always has some sort of scrape on him.
  • He likes reading, but also isn't afraid to rip books. Even library books.
  • He is a good eater, trying things (and liking most) without any problems. This shouldn't imply that he sits in his seat, however. That kid is a nomad when it comes to meal time.
  • His speech is coming along quite well. We understand most of what he says AND so do other people! It's amazing.

(FYI: There's a movie below, in case you can't tell in your reader.)

Friday, November 8, 2013

School Pictures

Here is my son. Adorable, no? Of course yes. As a parent, I felt compelled to buy the school picture. As a miser, I felt compelled to buy only one large print that would scan well.

But now what? I mean, what do I do with the 26 school pictures I anticipate amassing by 2029? I don't see me making a quilt out of them because that's just weird. And for what may be the first time, Pinterest failed me! What do you do with your kids' school pictures?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Other October

In addition to Halloween and the pumpkin patch, I wanted to do fun little snacks for the boys. Knowing my limits, I vowed to give them one fun after-school snack a week, as well as a fun FHE treat. Here are the few we tried:

Nutella banana mummies. Mine didn't look nearly as pretty, and I struggled because I couldn't find the dough sheets (so I used crescent rolls), but they were still tasty. The missionaries loved them. Bonus: now we have Nutella in the house!

Monster apple bites. We do quite a lot of fruit and peanut butter, so this was easy. I used sliced almonds for the teeth. The boys loved them.

My first time making play dough was with this pumpkin recipe. I don't love the texture, but it was still okay.

Also loved by the boys were these monster eye cookies. I'm pretty sure I ate way more than they did, but of the eye-free variety.

These popcorn witches were less successful. I struggled with the hats and no way am I buying green saran wrap just for this occasion. But of course the boys liked it.

Ollie didn't like when I stuck spiders into their cheese and crackers, but Rhett sure did.

And whenever I sent fruit cups in their lunches, I always drew a jack o' lantern face on them.

I made these rice krispie pumpkins for a family who welcomed a new baby, but ran out of rice krispies so I couldn't do them for my own family. But I was super happy with their orange color. Plus I got to eat some as I made them because in my opinion, rice krispie treats are a million times better eaten warm directly out of the pan.

Whew. I think that was it. Of course now Rhett is expecting some fun snack every day, and just Monday he had a tantrum about it. Sigh. Maybe someone needs to take a page out of his mom's book and lower his expectations.