17 July 2007

"I need a vacation" pie

If you've seen the cute little movie Waitress, you get it. What do you think should go in my "I need a vacation" pie? Chocolate? Definitely.

Let's see. Preparation for this family reunion has required:

-portable menu planning (there will be 2.5 days of road travel, so we can't eat anything that is too crumbly, not self contained, or causes constipation)
-a collection of busy, formerly unknown activities
-the laundering of every item of clothing that we own, should anything need to be added to the suitcases at the last minute
-cleanage of the house (I always ask myself why on this one, but who wants their neighbors to think they're pigs? And who wants to walk in the door and be greeted with normal, everyday life so suddenly? No, I want to come home and be fooled into thinking I am happy to be back.)
-the gathering of buckets, towels and an emergency change of clothing for all (in case we have to endure another puke fest)

Our only cost for this little vacation will be:

-a new jar of marjoram (which Drew dumped all over my kitchen this morning while I was on the phone cancelling some appointments)
-5 lbs., at least
-several hours of sleep, as the day usally ends later and beginds earlier when you are travelling
-lots of patience (did I say we will be driving for 2.5 days? THERE AND BACK)
-10 days of blogging
-oh, and about $3,000.00

We will gain:

-funny memories (this year we actually have a stupid human trick to offer in the family talent show)
-a favorable tan
-some great pictures, if I remember my dadgum camera
-some semblance of a "break" (at least, that is what I am told)

Hmmm. Perhaps I will also need an "I need a vacation from my vacation" pie.

P.S. Woman to Woman will not be happening on July 24th. We will resume on August 14th.

16 July 2007

Hot bread!

Today my kids and I are making bread for our neighbors. We'll be going on vacation later this week and are having them watch after Isabella (our kitty) and my flowers. Just thought we'd share this easy recipe with you!

We're still in the rising stage...


2 c warm water
1/4 c sugar
2-3 T yeast (more in higher altitude)
1 T molasses or honey
2 T - 1/4 c oil
1 T salt (scanty)
1/2 c powdered milk
6 or more c flour

Knead 100 times (this is where the kids come in handy, lol!). Place dough in greased covered bowl in a warm place. Let rise to twice original size. Punch down. Let rise again. Punch down and form 2 loaves. Place loaves in 2 greased bread pans. Let rise. Bake at 425 for 30 mintues. Place foil over top after 10 minutes for a softer crust. Butter tops when done!


12 July 2007

It must be July

We are mid summer and the heat and hum drum is finally getting to us. To fight summer boredom, here are a few suggestions.

1) Have a planned activity every day. It does not need to be a load-up-the-car-and-go-spend-a-small-fortune kind of activity. In our house, for instance, we have the same schedule every week:
- On Mondays we cook/bake something. This week it was sugar cookies with M&Ms in them.
-On Tuesdays, we do something outdoors. Last week, for example, I took the kids to the garden center and let them pick out some flowers to plant. They helped me weed, dig the holes, and clean up, and they had a blast.
-On Wednesdays, we have a learning day. Every week is different - one week my little boys were dying to look up information on trains on the internet, another week my daughter reviewed her times table.
-Thursdays are library day. Since our trips are rather short (the kids always seem to know ahead of time what books/subjects they want to check out) I get take out for lunch on the way home. After we eat, we sit down with our pile of books. I always check out 3 or 4 of my own children's books from the library that I am dying to read to the kids. This week those titles included: HUG (a picture book for Sasha) by Jez Alborough, Is There Really a Human Race? by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell, and Ruby Sings the Blues by Niki Daly.
-Fridays are the day we set aside for our creative outlets... play dough, painting, and arts and crafts. At the beginning of the summer, my kids and I made a "Mommy and Me Mix" which you are listening to. They designed a cover for the CD at this site.

I see a real benefit to having something for my kids to look forward to and count on EVERY DAY. One of the perks is that they are more likely to leave me alone to accomplish what I need to do. That may be laundry, or that may be blogging. ;)

2) Help transitions go smoothly by creating a schedule board for your kids. I have two - the top is for my daughter, who can read (although I keep notes on it for myself from time to time - such as dinner ideas). The bottom is for my boys, and was made using boardmaker.

To further help the boys understand the order of things, I have the board low enough for them to reach, and they take each item of the list as it is completed, and put it away in a box. If you are out and about and could use this sort of thing as you go from one place to the next, the pictures can be kept on a key ring.

3) Let your children help out. Usually they want to (and usually when you DON'T want them to, lol). Figure out a way for them to feel useful. Even consider rewarding them (my kids love quarters!) My 2 year old loves to put wet clothes in the dryer. My 5 year old loves to take them out. If I turn on some good tunes, they will ALL help me dust.

Hopefully these ideas will help you all get over the hump that is July. It seems that just as you get settled into a routine, those three pesky little words - "I'm bored, Mom!" - creep up on you.


I've been nominated by Kasie Sallee at The Art of Life for the Rockin' Girl Blogger award. I've been secretly anticipating this award. Lol. Some just strike your fancy, ya know? ;)

I have just recently "met" Kasie, and I cannot remember how exactly. Via my craft lovin' blogs somehow. I think. Anyway, if you are not familiar with her site, you should stop by. Kasie is an amazing pencil artist. She does exquisite work!

I'd like to forward the Rockin' Girl Blogger award on to Kristi at A Beautiful Mess (who actually got on the phone with me in my beginning blogging days to help me customize my look... tell me that doesn't rock!), my dear MOF Emlouisa (who needs to post again already! she's a hoot), Morning Glory, my Woman to Woman co-host and someone I deeply admire, and the amazingly creative Zoe from Fresh Preserves, with whom I've gone on many an adventure. I know I am supposed to nominate 5. At least I think that's right. But I'm almost certain my 5th person has already received this award. She rocks that much. Amber, the Crazy Bloggin' Canuck is never a dull read!

11 July 2007

I found Woman to Woman yesterday to be very valuable. I'd heard a lot of the tips mentioned, but some of them were worded such that I saw room for improvement, or different ways to accomplish the same goals. I have already selected a few of your suggestions and put them to use. Thank you!

As I read everyone's responses, the thought occurred to me that selflessness is really a BIG key to happy relationships... and I don't just mean in marriage, but also parenting, in friendships, even with business relations. We live in a world where there is a FINE line between selfishness and certitude. We have been taught to fear getting left behind, or forgotten, and so we assert ourselves and we focus on "me". It is when we lose sight of our connections that we REALLY get left behind, or forgotten.

As a mother, I have fallen into patterns where I try and try to fill my cup and just don't seem to get what I am after. My husband and my children suffer when I begin focusing too much on my needs. And those needs are never quite fulfilled because it's not just about me right now. I am part of a whole, a family, and only when we stay connected do I feel fulfilled. It's all about balance and moderation, but also priorities.

Thank you again for all your wise words and experiences!

10 July 2007

Woman to Woman: Keeping your marriage alive

"Whether you've been married for 38 years, 8 years or are a newlywed, you've probably picked up a few of the keys to a happy marriage, one which is nurturing and continues to grow. Maybe your marriage has struggled, but you've found a road back to each other and have insights for those in similar situations. What would you say are the three most key elements in your marriage that keep the romance alive and the heart aflutter? "

My husband and I just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. I can hardly believe that much time has passed. In fact, if I didn't have so much to show for it, I wouldn't believe it. But we have been extremely blessed, and I have listed here a few (3 of my own, 3 of my husband's) reasons why.

- We never go to bed angry. I remember receiving this bit of advice at my bridal shower, so it is probably the first thing I learned about keeping my marriage alive. One of the little "games" we played was that each guest had to give me their best pearl of marital wisdom before I could open their gift. This suggestion has really stuck with me, and now I truly cannot fall asleep if I am feeling bitter about something. It must be resolved or it will either eat away at me all night long, or get buried and just rare its ugly head again at some point in the near future.

- When I asked my husband what he thought the best keys to keeping your marriage alive were (and I know that I am jumping around here), he said regular date nights, setting aside a daily time to talk, and keeping your sense of humor (to which he smartly added "and lots of wrestling"... women's wrestling was on the television at the time... turd).
It's true, dating does wonders for our relationship. It makes me feel young and in love again when I am holding my husband's hand as we walk into a restaurant, or laying my head on his shoulder during a movie, or displaying my affection towards him in public. Not to mention, it gives us a break from the children, who never fail to notice when we've slipped out of the room to steal a private moment.
My husband is the one who's encouraged our "nightly talk". Me? I'd like to just talk whenever it strikes my fancy or whenever I have the urge. Unfortunately this usually occurs in several short spurts throughout the day (he works) and just as my head hits the pillow at night. It is far easier for him if we have a specific time set aside to talk than it is for me to lie down next to him at 11 o'clock at night and begin venting just as he's drifting off. There is also a greater chance of him reciprocating in the conversation if he is awake for it, and I prefer that. :)
As for the sense of humor, I think it is our greatest asset. There's nothing better than getting to the climax of an argument only to meet each in the eye and begin laughing hysterically. Why is not usually known, but it is certainly a good save for us. Laughter is good medicine. It is rejuvenating and a natural way of relieving stress.
- Another important key is romance. I really enjoy making a fancy dessert for after the kids are in bed, opening a bottle of sparkling cider, lighting some candles, and listening to Sade or Chris Botti. My husband enjoys curling up under the covers whenever there is a late night rainstorm. Occasionally, I will revert back to my college days ritual of making him a mix tape of sappy love songs, or write him a love letter. Terms of endearment. Letting our children see us hug and kiss. All these things reignite the passion in our marriage. After 10 years of weathering, they are no longer the primary focus of our marriage, for sure, but they definitely add to it.
- The key I have found to be most beneficial to our marriage is prayer and scripture study as a couple. Our marriage seems the most stable when we are regularly doing these two things (I would even dare say that they could replace all the aforementioned things and achieve just as good results, because it is a very effective preventative measure). I believe it is one of our most important obligations to each other, and sadly the most challenging one to keep. Down time becomes such a precious commodity when you have children. Normally, we just want to collapse in the evening, and think/do nothing, but we really need to make the time to feed ourselves spiritually as a couple.
Having an ever growing, ever strengthening marriage can be really tough. It is easy to get caught up in other things, like your children, your job, yourself. But you are doing yourself a huge disservice if you do not put your marriage first. That union supercedes everything else if it is to last.
Thank you all for joining us today. We have had quite a few new faces come around, with some questions and confusion, so I want to go over a few basics to reacquaint everyone with the process here. There is no need to sign up for "Woman to Woman". Anyone who wants to participate may do so... and that can be once, or every time. "Woman to Woman" occurs on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. A schedule of topics (which is subject to change, so always check mine or Morning Glory's blog on the Thursday preceding the challenge date for a verification of the upcoming topic) can be found in this post. All you have to do on the designated day is sign Mr. Linky below, linking us to your post on the designated topic. We ask that you try and sign Mr. Linky on both mine and Morning Glory's blog, as we are co-hosts on this project and we blog in different circles. This also increases the awareness of "Woman to Woman", which is a good thing. :) Then, please leave us a comment and we will in turn visit each of your posts as well. There is a choice of two buttons we've provided that you may use to label your post and/or place in your sidebar. The html code for these buttons can be emailed to you by myself or Morning Glory.

09 July 2007

Let's get down to business

It's all work and no play around here today. I've got a meme to do and an award to pass on. So bear with me, will ya? Besides, tomorrow is Woman to Woman, and I know you'll all come back then to play.

I was tagged by Pam in Colorado from Pinnacles, Pitfalls and Pottychairs to do the 8 Random Facts meme. I posted 7 Random Facts about myself here. I'll add one more and call it good. :)

#8 - I have an addiction to gift wrapping. When I get a present, I look for what can be reused from it... ribbon, paper, the front side of the card (which usually has no writing on it). And I give serious thought to everything I wrap. I use pictures from magazines, buttons, wire, wallpaper, material, newspaper, flowers - anything and everything to adorn a box/bag/envelope. Christmastime requires just as much wrapping time as shopping time. Hours and hours are spent sitting among my glorious piles of trinkets and pretties trying to decide which present deserves which decoration. I love it.

Morning Glory at Seeds from my Garden graciously awarded me the Blogger Reflection Award, and I'd like to pass that on to 5 bloggers I've really enjoyed "getting to know".

Lucy from Life is a Spasm Who Flow - What I love about Lucy is how real she comes across in her blogging. She has no front, no agenda. Down. to. earth. And she mixes things up - there's a bit of family business, a bit of food for thought, a lot of good stuff. She's also a SWEETHEART.

Shelah from Hitting the Ground Running - I have been reading her practically from the beginning of (both our) blogging days. She's funny, smart, AND cute (no really, I've met her, she's CUTE). Never a disappointing post, not even when she hits the publish button too soon. Lol! Shelah is one of MOFs.

I've been intrigued by Allysha at Bells On Their Toes for quite some time now. I hate to say I was first drawn to the appearance of her blog, but it's true. Simply stated. 3 sets of perfectly sweet toes in her avatar. What's not to love? Then after reading her for a while, I realized what a fun approach she has in her writing. Witty. Humorous. Side note: we (recently) discovered that we performed in the same dance ensemble at BYU. Small bloggy world, isn't it? And here we are 10ish years later blogging in the same circles, both with 4 children in tow.

Scribbit. Run, don't walk, to her blog. I wonder how she keeps it all together, but somehow she does. If her blog is any reflection of who she is, then she is one incredible woman. On the ball! A place for everything and everything in its place. Well written. Organized. Informative. And very personable. I don't see how anyone could not love this gal.

Belladonna at mind-muffins has some really, really incredible posts. I am always excited when she's decided to join us for Woman to Woman because she always has so much to add. Her perspective is always refreshing and she really makes you think/reconsider your views. I love that.

Now the rules of participation:
1. Copy this post.
2. Replace [my bloggers with yours] & Reflect on five bloggers and write a least a paragraph about each one.
3. Make sure you link this post so others can read it and the rules.
4. Go leave your chosen bloggers a comment and let them know they've been given the award. 5. Put the award icon on your site [also found here]

Finally, some (not all) songs from the Mommy and Me Mix CD are finally playing for all to enjoy! So turn it up and dance, cuddle or just plain listen (with your little ones, of course).

06 July 2007

Summer give away and Woman to Woman

The winner of the second summer give-away is Pattie from Stolen Moments! Pattie will get her choice of a cherry or lemon print baby headband. Enjoy, Pattie!

The topic for Woman to Woman on Tuesday, July 10th, is "Tips and Tricks - Keeping your marriage alive". Whether you've been married for 38 years, 8 years or are a newlywed, you've probably picked up a few of the keys to a happy marriage, one which is nurturing and continues to grow. Maybe your marriage has struggled, but you've found a road back to each other and have insights for those in similar situations. What would you say are the three most key elements in your marriage that keep the romance alive and the heart aflutter?

Have a great weekend everybody!

05 July 2007

It's already been a year

...since my sweet little Sasha was born. You old time visitors will recall the saga that was my pregnancy... and still, this is a bittersweet time for me. I am mourning the passing of my baby days. It's time stop focusing on having them, and start focusing on raising them.


I love Sasha's birth story. I never miss an opportunity to share it; it is such a tale of triumph, and was such a journey for us.

On July 3, 2006 I woke up feeling a little bit of pressure and back pain associated with my contractions (which had been going on for some time). I took it easy throughout the morning - getting in and out of the bathtub, lying down, drinking plenty of fluids… just trying to decipher this from any other day. I called my doula Laura and discussed my symptoms with her and she felt like I should go into the hospital and at least get checked. After lots of thought and prayer, Andrew and I decided she was right… we just didn’t want to have another false alarm disappoint us. Getting out the door proved to be a challenge in and of itself. There was an entire bottle of juice spilled on the kitchen floor, lots of anxiety from the kids who were excited to have a “sleepover “, and a napless Drew to contend with. I actually sat down on the sofa at one point and said, “I refuse to have the baby under these conditions. Today is NOT the day!” I was fully convinced that I could talk my body out of labor. After all, I’d been doing it for months!

We got to the hospital around 4:30pm. At my OB appointment on Friday I had been 1-2cm dilated, 80% effaced and Sasha was quite low already… below 0 station. But my cervix was still posterior. Upon arrival at the hospital, I was 4 cm and 90% effaced, plus my cervix had moved forward, which had brought baby back up a bit but was really of no concern since that stubborn cervix had finally done its job! They called me “in active labor”, but my body really wasn’t doing it yet. I didn’t feel in sync at all and figured it would be as it was with Drew… that I would walk around at 4cm for a couple weeks. Disappointed, Andrew and I decided that rather than sit in the hospital infinitely waiting for something to happen, like being talked into getting labor augmented, we’d go home. The nurse strongly suggested we walk the halls for an hour first and see if there was any change. We knew there wouldn’t be (or that it would be minimal, if anything) but we agreed. Laura was with us and helped me through the few contractions I was having here and there… they were getting stronger and closer together, but I still was not convinced! It really did not feel as if my body had completely agreed to go into labor yet. After walking the halls for an hour I got checked again and was closer to 5cm dilated. By now it was after 6pm and I was hungry and uncomfortable in the tiny triage room. They wanted to monitor the baby for 20 minutes, during which time I had 3 contractions that required me to focus. During my last one, the OB on call came in and said she wished me the best, all the time watching this huge contraction peak on the monitor. I did my best not to show my discomfort. As if she believed that I wasn’t really feeling it! At this point I really didn’t know that I wasn’t in labor. In fact I was pretty sure things were “syncing up” now. But I knew I’d be miserable if I didn’t get somewhere more comfortable before active labor really began, and get some food in my system. So, with Laura’s full agreeance, we decided to go get ourselves some dinner and just see what happened at home on the birth ball and in the bathtub. The children were already taken care of and our friends were more than happy to keep them while we waited to see what my body would do. I signed an AMA (“Against Medical Advice“) to get out of the hospital. Once in the car, contractions came much, much closer together… almost on top of each other. They were getting painful, too. It just didn’t feel right to me, though. They seemed too close and too sudden, so we continued on our way home, stopping to pick up some dinner first. I knew I needed to wait for the contractions to space out and get even stronger before I’d be in active labor, so I was feeling calm and collected. I practiced breathing through each one, focusing on relaxing my entire body and letting nature take it course. I took bites of my burrito between the contractions on my birth ball at home. Andrew was watching wrestling on TV. After eating I decided to get in the bathtub for about 30 minutes, which felt great! I was almost wishing I’d decided on a water birth at that point, it was just so relaxing and comforting. I‘d been taking baths for a couple weeks to calm my prodromal contractions. The fact that they stayed strong this time told me something. Plus, it was at this point that they spaced out to an even 3 minutes. So, I could clearly see how many women preferred birthing in water.

As things got stronger and more organized, I knew without a doubt that this was it and that we needed to head back to the hospital. Only 2 hours had passed since leaving the hospital when we returned to it. It was now 9:15pm. I was admitted immediately and had reached 6cm. From this point, I had to get into a zone, find a voice for my contractions, move from the ball to the edge of the bed to my side once transition hit. I began to shake and Andrew rubbed my legs. Either Laura or Andrew was constantly fanning my face. The music we had compiled was very helpful in keeping me calm and relaxed. Laura read affirmations to me that gave me some relaxing imagery. As transition came to an end Andrew and Laura took turns providing counter pressure to my back as Sasha moved down the birth canal. It was then that I reached a point where I truly did not think I could handle the surges. I just couldn’t get on top of them anymore… the pain was definitely no longer under my control with any breathing or thoughts or music. Laura got to thinking that shaking + nausea + doubt probably meant I was close to complete (10 cm) so she suggested I get checked. I wasn’t sure if I wanted any disturbance at that point, but was anxious to see how far I’d come. This was my first check since being admitted. Lo and behold, the nurse proclaimed me complete! It was midnight and I could push as soon as I felt the urge. I was in shock, but also feeling very reassured. I had made it all the way to 10 cm before questioning myself. I knew now that Sasha was just minutes away, if only I could find my momentum to push her out. I said a few times “How am I going to do this?“ I guess I was a bit scared. My nurse Darlene said, “You ARE doing it!“ I just couldn’t believe it was happening, that this challenge was almost mine.

My body was not quite telling me what I needed to do yet, so I used a few contractions to experiment with pushing positions. I ended up being the most comfortable with a squatting bar over the bed (which I sat on the very edge of) and with Andrew behind me supporting and continuing to rub my lower back. And he had to do so quite vigorously. I also had to lean back into him just to keep from jumping out of that bed in utter pain. But leaning back quickly proved to be counteractive to pushing, which my body was really beginning to want to do, so I had to lean into my contractions, going against my instincts. This did not feel right for a few more contractions, but I finally got in tune and found my momentum, and pushing was a relief ! At that point something else took over completely. I could feel Sasha’s head with my own hand as I pushed. I felt totally in tune with her now and with bringing her into the world. The room was very quiet. The nurses were incredibly respectful. I hardly knew there was anyone there but me, Andrew and Laura… but there were also 3 nurses and the OB on call, Dr. Southmayde. They trusted me completely to know what to do and let me find my way through it all. I did nothing conventionally… I breathed through each contraction. There was no counting to 10. I just pushed when I felt the urge and for as long as I wanted and as many times during he contractions as I wanted. They did not quiet me or correct me at all.

I began to chant “I” while Laura said “I can do this!” for me. Andrew was getting emotional behind me I could tell. Iz was singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” as Sasha emerged. I don’t believe it was coincidence that this was also a song that I deeply associated with my late mother. It was comforting to hear that song again at this very moment and I felt some part of Mom was there watching me give birth to her granddaughter. And then came Gladys singing “I Am a Child of God”. Talk about perfect timing.

First the head. Immediate relief and rush of endorphins. Then my water finally broke. And the shoulders and the rest of her quickly followed. July 4th, 12:38am, 8 lbs. 12oz. and 21 inches long. I was overjoyed and emotional and feeling as if I were on top of Mt. Everest. She was perfect in every way, with lots of black hair and big brown eyes. Long, graceful fingers. She came out loud, ravenous and ready to eat! Latched on right away. Everything felt surreal for quite some time. As we called to deliver the wonderful news to our friends and family, I was feeling high and elated in a way I’d never experienced after birth. I had done it. My body had gone into labor on its own. I had experienced it in one fell swoop, from beginning to end, without stops and starts spread out over weeks. Without augmentation or artificial rupture of membranes or an epesiotomy. Without an epidural! And WITH a team of incredibly supportive and respectful medical professionals. It was the most amazing and strengthening experience for both Andrew and I and we knew instantly why we’d been compelled to go the route we did.


Have you entered the summer give away yet? To do so, leave a comment in this post.

02 July 2007

10 years

My husband and I recently celebrated our 10 year anniversary. We also celebrated his 34th birthday. For the occasion (s), I jotted down a few (34) things that I love about him:

1. his dominant genes (which have provided us with some dang cute kids)

2. that twinkle in his eye

3. that he says he loves me at the end of every phone call

4. his dark brown curly locks

5. his nice tush :)

6. his random giddy outbursts

7. how much he loves to give hugs

8. that he always gives the benefit of the doubt

9. that we often laugh at the same time

10. his sensitive side

11. his genuine concern for others

12. his respect for his mother

13. that he loves to go for long drives

14. that does dishes...

15. ... and the children's baths

16. that he doesn't like to nap (so that I can!)

17. that he offers to take Sasha for the last hour of church

18. that he loves serving others

19. his empathy

20. his love for his country

21. his interest in our children's health

22. his high level of tolerance

23. the way he crosses his zeros so they "don't look like o's"

24. how he dreams about our future

25. that he loves music

26. that he lets me decorate the house however I want

27. that he's taller than me!

28. his singing voice

29. his mind

30. his determination

31. his integrity

32. that he's given me 4 children despite the demands my pregnancies place on him

33. his great taste in "sweets"

34. his support of all my interests

Phew, babe, that was tough! ;) I love you.


Have you entered the summer give away yet? To do so, leave a comment in this post.