"If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under." - Ronald Reagan

Monday, December 31, 2007

PRESENTS!!! (And Christ's Birth)

For Christmas Eve, we had a delicious tortilla soup that my brother made. Mmmmm...my mouth is watering just remembering it...I am putting it on the menu for this week....MmmmMMmmm...

Where was I? Oh yeah...During dinner, the Boy got a little too excited and attempted to jump on my lap. Unfortunately, I happened to be holding a bowl of soup at the time. Let's just say it's a good thing I had packed two bras, otherwise I would have smelled like lime and cilantro the rest of the trip.

Christmas Eve, my brother and sister-in-law always act out the Nativity, complete with scripture, hymns, costumes and props. Da Boo joined her two young cousins as an angel. The Boy was a wiseman, along with his two teenage cousins. That was funny! We about lost him when he realized the "gold" in his chest was actually gold-wrapped chocolate. Even though it got a little irreverent, I really enjoyed hearing the scriptures and singing the familiar songs. This is Christmas.

Each of us got one main gift. Mine was a sleek, new camera. It's a Canon PowerShot SD1000 with 7.1 mega pixels of love, baby. Here's da Boo acting crazy so I could test it out. She was jumping around and shaking her head so hard her glasses came off!

The Man got an iPod Classic. This year, we didn't keep our gifts a secret. I'm glad he flat out told me that's what he wanted because I had no idea. That man is impossible to shop for? Anyone else have any great ideas for his birthday? It's coming up in a couple weeks...

The Boy is all about trains, currently. His gift was easy enough. When he woke up, Santa had left all of his stuff in a chair at the foot of his bed. He saw the train set and could not believe it. He stared at it for several minutes before the Man picked it up and gave it to him. Even then, he could only hold it and stare with his mouth hanging open. Oh, if only everyone was this easy to please! He didn't even realize he had other things (clothes, slippers, Bob the Builder underwear) until later that night when we came back to the hotel.

Da Boo wanted a "Diego Pet." A what? A search on Google offered up far too many possibilities and I knew she had something very specific in mind. I had her "help" me look for a present for a cousin and oh, look! Do Go Diego Go stuff! Let's take a look! She told me which two she wanted the most. Luckily, Santa was able to find one of them. Christmas morning, da Boo was very pouty. When I asked her what the problem was, she almost teared when she confessed that she thought Santa only brought the Boy presents. Then I pointed across the room to a corner that was filled with pink, sparkly things. Her face lit up and she nearly flew off the bed. She got the dolls pictured from her brother.

After the presents were opened, some assembly and batteries installed, the dads had disappeared. This is where I found them:

The Weekend Before Christmas

We arrived at our hotel that afternoon without further incident, unpacked and relaxed for a bit. Well, not really. Da Boo and the Boy ran around like crazed meercats, the Man was bringing in all our gear and I was changing a messy diaper. We brought a few decorations with us: a mini tree, string of lights, mini ornaments, our stockings, an advent calendar, and snowmen holding a string of lights with clips for our stockings. After the difficult night before, Da Boo got the sofa bed and the Boy got the couch cushions on the corner (and he still managed to end up underneath a nearby chair nearly every morning).

That evening, we got to meet Ben.

Here he is with cousin Dawn (taken with my new camera!). He is such a cutie! And a very cheerful baby. We got to hug my brother and his wife. And then my other brother, his wife and all six of their kids (they don't have blogs, sorry). We ditched the kids - I mean, we left the kids in the loving care of their teenage cousins while the adults went out to dinner. :D

Sunday we went to church with my brother's family. The Man had to open a Christmas present early because I neglected to pack a tie for him. (Must have been hiding with the peanut butter!) We got to harrass my older brother, who was the teacher for Sunday School. Da Boo was pouty after class because she was put with the Sunbeams. Well, she is the same height as 3-year-olds. The nursery workers hadn't been able to remember the Boy's name so they had called him Josh the whole time. That was funny! Later that night, I made a zebra cheesecake. One of these days, I will have to take a picture of it so you can see just how cool this cheesecake looks!

Monday, Christmas Eve, we went to Dave & Buster's to play arcade games. This was pretty fun! Da Boo decided she really likes horse racing (uh oh...) and the Boy just liked seeing all the flashing lights and noises and chaos. They won enough tickets to get them each a prize. Da Boo chose a flipping penguin. The Boy got a kazoo. That was actually my choice because I thought he would like it, as obsessed as he is with musical instruments...yeah, that went over in a big way. I think we had to eventually hide it from him.

I'll get into the Big Event and all the gifts (including my lovely camera...so shiny...) in the next couple posts.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Murphy's Law

Murphy's Law states that whatever can go wrong will. And it hit us pretty hard, starting on that Thursday before Christmas. I had been packing furiously and getting everything ready. We were planning to leave no later than 10 a.m. on Friday, hoping to arrive at my brother's house in time for dinner. (This is going to be a looooooong post...go to the bathroom first, maybe get you some snacks...)

Thursday evening, I was hard at work on a cake when the Man was summoned upstairs by da Boo. Her fingers hurt. Not just her finger, but fingers, plural. What he saw on her fingers raised some serious red flags. It looked like on both hands, her index and thumb tips were covered with a blister or the skin was red and puckered. Also, it was spreading to her other fingertips. For the next couple hours, we were talking to the after-hours pediatrician on the phone and contacting the various doctors in our family for their opinion. The Man even broke out my new camera to take pictures of da Boo's fingers so they could see what it looked like. The after-hours doc's diagnosis didn't fit. Our next option was the Emergency Room or wait for morning and her regular pediatrician. Since she wasn't running a temperature or in great agony, we opted to wait. I was on the phone as soon as the office opened. I described her fingers and the nurse said we should come in...was 3:30 that afternoon okay?

"Well," I tried to explain, "We're supposed to be heading out of town this morning..."
"Oh," she said, shuffled some papers and then "How soon could you get here?"'

The Man and da Boo were immediately sent to the doctor. The diagnosis? She had a strep infection. In her fingertips! I've never heard of such a thing! She came home with antibiotics and lotions. By then, it was lunchtime. We should have left two hours before. I fed the kids and we finished getting packed.

By 2:30, we were on our way! Our route took us through Wyoming. The Man had checked weather and road conditions the night before and all looked good. Things didn't look so good once we got started several hours later than we intended. It was snowing, freezing cold, with strong winds. Along this route, there are electronic billboards that tell you of any problems, like hazardous conditions or road closures. We had been on the road two hours when these billboards reported the road was closed nearly an hour away. No worries, we told each other. We'll keep driving and perhaps they can get the road re-opened. Still, we kept on eye on those billboards. We had just entered a town and I saw that the message on the billboards had changed.

Me: Road Closed at Exit 104.
The Man: Where are we?
Me: Exit 102.

Temptation to use Daddy Words ensues. At this exact moment, my brother calls us to see where we are. It is 5:30 and we had planned to be nearing his house by then. Instead, we have him get online and check the road conditions. He reports that the road is closed...in three other places.

With no choice, we find a hotel for the night. After getting our room, we grab some dinner. Then, we get the kids in their swimming suits and have a fun time in the hotel pool. That evening, the kids are on one double bed and we are on the other.

This delay was actually a good learning experience, for the most part. We did have a good time in the pool (until my swimming suit failed but that is a whole other post - which I will probably never post) and we learned that the kids could not share the same bed without both being hauled from the blankets at some point to be placed in time out for fighting. Also, we learned that when travelers are stranded for the night, the first place they go for breakfast in the morning is the Wal-Mart bakery. There were no donut holes left.

These problems resolved, we got back on the road and resumed our travels*. We had to go about 15 miles under the speed limit as the roads were icy and the wind was still blowing. After driving for a while, we stopped to have lunch made from things we'd packed from home. This was when I realized that in my flurry of packing, I forgot the peanut butter. Mmmmm...jelly sandwiches...

*I hesitate to mention the darkest moment on the trip. We were driving slowly along that highway, when the Man noticed there were no on-coming traffic. Thinking the road was closed again, we continued on carefully. Soon, we came across the reason. There was an accident. A very, very bad one. Since I am no longer on happy pills, I tend to...freak out?...shall we say. It's hard to sob hysterically but keep quiet so as not to alarm your kids, sitting behind you.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Week Before Christmas

Ya know how I wasn't posting all that much just before leaving for Christmas? That's because it was crazy busy around here! Let me give you a little run down on what was happening...

Monday was a day for finishing the neighbor gifts. Clear back at the beginning of December, I found these great glass jars with an image of the Nativity. See, I'm all about Christmas being about Christ, not Santa. While the man in the red suit does visit us (because we've been ever so good), the focus should be on the birth of our Savior. The jars were perfect. Originally, the plan was to fill them with cookies or fudge but as the month wore on and my To-Do list kept growing, I opted for store-bought candy. But they still sat on my bedroom floor, all empty and lonely. That afternoon, da Boo and I filled them up. I made tags (from 3 different kinds of paper because I am completely insane) and they were ready to go! But I didn't have time...there were still Christmas cards to make, address and mail!

Monday night was the Wasatch Winds Christmas Concert.

Here is the Man at the timpani, one of his favorite instruments. Since he is quite the percussionist, three orchestras and bands have been trying to woo him. He likes WW so there he stays. The concert was fun! Aunt Denise and the Co-Ed joined us. Afterward, we exchanged presents with them and our buddies. I had made cookies for this gift exchange but then neglected to take them out of the oven...they were a little dry.

Tuesday, da Boo was very upset about a hurt finger. The tip of her index finger blistered like it had been burned. She insisted she didn't touch anything hot. I couldn't think of anything that she had been around that would have caused the damage. So I wrapped it in Dora bandages, gave it a feel-better kiss and thought nothing more of it. I was distracted by the fact that I had to teach the Boy's preschool and got two cavities filled.

Wednesday, we finally were able to deliver those neighbor gifts and received a few more. I love neighbor gifts! It's like getting an Oscar... "You love me! You really love me!" Wednesday was also a day for massive loads of laundry in preparation for the trip. And it was da Boo's Christmas Program so I was baking a cake and putting together mushrooms.

Thursday came all the packing and gathering and making lists and ignoring those lists to post on my blog and packing some more and wrapping gifts and trying not to collapse into an exhausted heap on the floor. I was staying up until 2 am nearly every night trying to finish what I couldn't do while playing referee and judge for the kids. The Man was putting in late nights at work trying to get everything done before he was out of cell phone range. No fun! At least I had all those neighbor goody plates to keep me full of sugar.

See? Now, aren't you tired just reading that? Imagine having to go through it! Then came Friday, the day we had planned to leave...

Friday, December 28, 2007

Da Boo's Christmas Program

Da Boo's preschool had a Christmas Program two days before we left on vacation. She practiced the songs constantly at home so I knew she was very excited. The Boy and I headed to her class. I stood at the back, snapping pictures and giggling like crazy at how cute she was up there. (He played in the little play house they have and proceeded to stink up the place by "takin' care of business" while in there...)

Here, she is being one of Santa's busy elves. They used the sticks and bells to act out the song. There was also a really cute one with the Gingerbread man, Jingle Bells and a couple traditional folk songs. (And since I was using my old camera, only one picture actually came out looking decent enough to post.) She was partnered with Jacob, her best buddy (at least when she doesn't want to have a tea party). It was rather amusing as he is head and shoulders taller than her.

Also, we were asked to bring a plate of cookies or chips to share during the party. This is me we're talking about here. So I brought this. Because nothing says "Christmas Spirit!" like trying to make this cake when you should be packing for your trip.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Didja Miss Me?

We just got back! Literally...like 20 minutes ago. And I just couldn't put the kids to bed fast enough before I had to run to you, my dear Internet. Oh, how I've missed you and your lovely glow...I've longed to stroke your mouse and run my hands over your keyboard...


Anywho...I'll be resuming normal posting. And, because I know you've missed me ever so much, I have some cakes to post! Unfortunately, those pictures were taken with my old camera. Did you catch that? My old camera? I got a new one! For Christmas! Because my husband loves me! And doesn't want me to swear at Photoshop anymore! Then I'll post all kinds of groovy pictures taken with the new camera.

In the meantime, tell me what your favorite Christmas gift was this year! (And so help me, if you say something all self-less and sweet like "Just being with my cuddly family!" then I am going to wring your blog's neck! Get materialistic, will ya?)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Procrastination - I Haz It

Sooooo...I've been thinking about all the things that I do while I procrastinate doing something else. In fact, three days ago I thought "I should blog about this!" but put it off. Right now, I'm compiling/reviewing a list if everything I still need to do before we leave tomorrow for Christmas. And instead of actually working on that mountain of unfinished items, I'm blogging. It's a vicious circle, really.

It's utterly amazing how a task expands to fill the time you allow for it. I can empty the dishwasher in three minutes flat if I need to refill it before company arrives at the house. But if I'm emptying it while waiting for something else to cook or such, then it never gets done before I have to return to the stove or icing bowl or screaming child. Seriously, how does the dishwasher know I when I'm not running late? And how do all those extra dishes get in there?

Then there's my ability to completely over-schedule myself. Of course I'm going to procrastinate everything until the last minute, until I am frazzled, pulling out my hair, and sending kids to time out for small infractions. I've found that instead of losing my temper, it's much better just to give them sugar. Literally. Too many cakes, too little time. I'll try and blog about those, too - when I've got some laundry that needs to be folded or maybe an errand that I need to do.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Welcoming Home A Hero

I know I've blogged about my brother before and if you could hear me talk, well, I wouldn't be able to speak clearly because I just get all choked up.

My younger brother is in the Air Force and was recently sent to Afghanistan. He kept in touch as best he could, when not roaming the mountains on missions. But last Monday, he came home.

Quite a large group turned up to welcome him home to Florida. My parents got to be there.

His wife, Tally, made matching shirts for everyone who greeted him at the airport. That was a great idea! I got to talk to him the next day. He says he having a a little trouble readjusting to some things, like sleeping in a real bed and not using bottled water for everything but other than that, it's great to be home.

For his birthday, I sent him a package with Slim Jims and magazines (because that's what he asked for). While picking out the magazines, I guess I was feeling a little loopy (I know, so rare and all) because I sent him Popular Mechanics, one about cars, a snowboarding magazine and a knitting magazine. Do you know how hot it is during the summers in Afghanistan? Sending a magazine all about snow and such was just cruel. And the knitting magazine...well, I figured those soldiers could use some stress relief.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Name Them One By One

I've stopped the happy pills. I know, I know...after I fought so hard to get them back, I stopped on my own. Here's the thing: I want a baby. Happy pills make me happy but do not make a baby happy. I had to stop eventually. Going cold turkey on those things feels more like a nervous breakdown than anything else I've felt. Doing it this way instead, I tampered them off slowly. The last one I took was the morning I had a distressing dream and felt like a wounded puppy all day. That pill seemed to help a little, reminding me that my imagination is far too active.

The panic attacks have gotten easier to handle. I've tried the counting to 10 method, breathing deeply or closing my eyes (which sometimes made it worse). What I found really helps? Counting my blessings. I know my attacks are completely irrational but I have to show myself that even given a worse-case/impossible scenario, I am still very fortunate.

So here's how one went last night as I was getting into bed and thinking about the upcoming trip: We're staying in a motel and debating whether or not it's worth it to bring the port-a-crib for the Boy. There is a sofa bed and we intend to put da Boo on it. It's large enough for two. So here's how my train of thought spirals out of control: The Boy might like to sleep on a "big boy" bed - but he might roll off - so I'll place the sofa cushions on the floor so he won't bonk his precious little head - but he might still get hurt, even doing that - there could be a pen on the floor - or a hypodermic needle left by a previous guest who was also a drug addict - the needle could poke out his eye - then he'd be blind for life!

Yes, that completely makes sense. And it could happen, right? This is where I take the breaths and start counting. For each number, I name a blessing and by the time I get to five, my heart is no longer pounding and I am thinking rationally again, even rolling my eyes at myself. Good ol' wacky imagination getting the best of me.

For a much more interesting take on what it's like to spiral out of control, read this.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Dad, don't look!

My father, who is deathly allergic to cats, would hate this post. But...

Isn't that just the cutest thing you ever saw? Say it with me now... "Awwwwwww!"

Everyone is relatively healthy at the house now. Unfortunately, now the house is very ill. Looks like it threw up inside itself. Okay, maybe not that bad but I've really gotten behind on just about everything. In the midst of stressing over sending out our Christmas cards, I was wondering why I had it so together last year but this year nothing is getting done. Then I remembered: Flylady. Last year, I was a faithful flybaby and followed her Holiday Cruise guidelines. I have since fallen off the wagon and severely smacked my head or something. I think it might be time to start over with the baby steps...gotta go shine my sink! (and then get to work on those Christmas cards!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

(Belated) FHE: Gingerbread House

We did not have a Family Home Evening on Monday since no one was feeling very healthy. I had purchased a Wilton Gingerbread house kit because it was only $5 when they're usually closer to $15. Once I opened it, I realized why it was so much cheaper: whoever was in charge packing the candy messed up big time. There were only gumdrops...no other candies. Also, I neglected to plan ahead (story of my life) and one hour before FHE, I read the instructions. Seems that the base is supposed to set for 2-3 hours before you put the roof on, which then has to set for another hour. As tempting as it was was to keep the kids up until midnight with the promise of playing with candy, we decided to try it the next night instead. I still made the base and let it set the required amount of time.

Since yesterday was a total loss, it sat on the counter, looking all naked. Da Boo asked if we could decorate it this afternoon. She was feeling better, the Boy was fine although he was refusing to take a nap, so I got him out of bed and we set to work. Luckily, we had some mini M&Ms and chocolate chips to help fill in the candy assortment gaps. Besides, this is ME we're talking about! Of course I have all sorts of candy on hand!

The kids had a blast! And they were very, very polite, loving and sharing - which makes me suspect that they aren't feeling well after all. Notice the empty little bowls on the table? Notice the chocolate smudges on their faces? They "helped" clean up.

Here is the finished result:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

12 Days of Christmas - A Cappella

Too busy finishing all the laundry we started in the middle of the night (da Boo has quite the range when vomiting from a reclined position...maybe this should be an Olympic event).

Here, enjoy this:

*Thanks to my sister-in-law, Hallie, for sending me this!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ewwww Yuck

Sorry for the posting drought. And I don't have a book to blame this time. Instead, I'll blame the flu.

Friday afternoon, the Boy woke up from his nap and da Boo proceeded to run into his room to tease him mercilessly. She's such a good sister. So, he's crying and all hysterical by the time I mosey in there. He'd called out to me earlier, saying he had spilled. Not knowing what that meant, I didn't think much of it but when I walked into him room to get him out of his crib, I understood.

"I spilled" is Boy-speak for "I threw up."

And we all know just how good I am at handling that sort of thing! Luckily, it wasn't bad and was quickly cleaned up. Later that evening, I went to a really great bread-making class - which I will have to blog about later - when the Man calls me. Apparently, the Boy had "spilled" again - twice. He wasn't running a temperature, wasn't acting subdued or abnormal. Just spewed his guts periodically.

Saturday, he was fine. He even got mad at his daddy when the Man won't give him a sandwich for lunch, offering instead crackers and Sprite. The Boy came to find me and announced "Daddy no loves me anymore." Sunday morning dawned bright and early (we had a blizzard the day before so it was also very cold). The Man left for his meetings and the Boy woke up. This time, when he announced that he "spilled," I leapt out of bed. I got him cleaned up and tried texting the Man about the problem. This was compounded by the fact that I was supposed to substitute in Primary for da Boo's class. Still no temp or acting sick. I decided he couldn't go to church when his diaper erupted, resulting in yet another load of laundry. We ended up tag-teaming church: the Man got to go to Sacrament and I got to hang out in Primary.

The Man has a touch of it and da Boo is currently sitting on the potty after whining that her tummy hurt. Should make for an interesting evening! Anyone want to place bets on how soon I come down with it?

I had no sooner hit "Post" when da Boo vomited all over herself while sitting on the toilet. So she's crying, I'm trying not to gag and the Man is mocking me. So I made him clean the bathroom while I took a stripped-down girl to our room to shower. She is tucked back in bed with clean jammies, a sippy cup of Sprite and a barf bucket sitting on the floor next to her bed.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Like Father, Like Son

Remember how I said the Man's genetics are stronger than mine in our children? Here's proof:

We noticed the Boy's right eye would cross when he went from looking close up to far away. The good news is that his prescription isn't nearly as strong as his sister's. These were Spiderman glasses so the eye doctor gave him a matching glasses case. He calls it his suitcase. While he's pretty good at keeping his glasses on, he really like taking them off and putting them to bed in the case. When I insist he put them back on, he wrenches the arms open. It's a good thing we got the heavy duty frames. I have a feeling he is going to need them!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Snow Day!

This weekend we had a real snow storm! The Man went to the store for me Saturday morning and brought back some snow boots for the Boy. Because I had cakes to do, I sent the Man outside to play in the snow with the kids. I made him take the camera.

Their first snowman! And yes, the Boy had mittens but refused to wear them because they were toddler mittens and didn't have a thumb. And as he likes to remind me, "I no baby. I big boy."

They came in when the Boy started getting too cold. I had hot chocolate waiting (love that CocoMotion!) so they could warm up. I just love the snow!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

FHE: The True Meaning of Christmas

The Man has been itching to put up the rest of the Christmas decorations and hang ornaments on tree. We had dinner a little earlier than usual so we could get all this done before bedtime.

Opening Song: Once There Was A Snowman (Boo's pick).

Opening Prayer: It was the Boy's turn to pick and he decided he wanted to say it himself (but he got distracted about halfway thru and I finished it for him).

Lesson: The Man took out our nativity set. This was a wedding present from his grandparents and it is just beautiful! We really treasure it. The first year we had it, I played with arranging it almost every day. Because I'm neurotic.

After we had them all unwrapped, the Man took the kids through all of them, talking about Baby Jesus first. I was pretty impressed with da Boo. She knew that there were three wise men and that they brought gifts for Jesus. She also knew that He was born in a stable. Just when you think they don't listen to a word you say...

After the Man was finished, the kids gave me the pieces and I got to play - I mean, arrange them carefully.

Closing Song and Closing Prayer: Ummm...we kinda forgot these as we headed to the Christmas tree.

Then it was time to decorate the tree! The Boy mostly wanted to look at the ornaments and then hand them to someone else to actually hang up. Da Boo did pretty good about spacing them evenly - until we got to the candy canes and then she wanted them all together so the Boy couldn't break them. After we finished, we had the kids get into their jammies while I got the Treat ready.

Treat: Hot chocolate with mini candy canes! The kids got to arrange their own nativity at their table. This is a really cute one made by Fisher Price.

After treat, we had to de-stickify the Boy before sending him to bed. Ah, the joys of boys.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Crushing Dreams

Sometimes, as a mother, we have to make our idealistic children face harsh reality. It's not easy. It can make you cry at how - at such a young age - they already have broken dreams. And really? Who are we to tell them what is not possible? How can we do that to their little hopes when all they really want to do is be happy? We might as well go around stomping on flowers or pulling the wings off butterflies.

Today was like that.

You see, I made a ballerina cake. Da Boo and the Boy were both very excited about it. They were so excited, in fact, that they spent the entire morning and most of the afternoon (when not at church), pretending to be ballerinas. I then had to explain to the Boy that while his little leaps and twirls were indeed very elegant, he could never be a ballerina.

But then I was laughing too hard to explain that boys can still be dancers.

Poor guy.

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