Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Grinching It Up My Way

I love Christmas. LOVE it. So much so that I refuse to allow it to be contained to one measly month of the year.

Tommy thinks Jingle Bells is a lullaby and although I don't technically believe in it (too much clutter) the decorations were up before Thanksgiving this year and we check out holiday stories all year long.

I love that it gets dark early and people put out lights. I love the snow and the cold and the bundling. I love the warm dinners and fireplaces roaring. I love the season and the unity that magically happens at Christmas time and I love LOVE Christmas cards.


(and this is a big but(t))

I HATE the rest of it.

I hate the obligations, I hate the staying out past bedtime, and I hate that every fun event in the universe has to happen NOW and it's the only chance you'll ever have to ________.
I hate hauling my kids around to stuff they're scared of (Santa, strangers, live animals, plays) because I'm supposed to and will never have another chance.
I hate crowds and lines and fighting over parking spaces when "all I want is a GALLON OF MILK!!!!!!!"
I hate the pressure to find the perfect gift, and to react perfectly to the perfect gift someone else found me.

So I am openly declaring that someday, I'm going to get my Christmas wish. One year the Grinch in me will win.

I will put up lights and stars and trees and decorations. I will hang stockings and make Christmas goodies for the neighbors. I will buy presents for everyone under my roof (and anybody else for whom the perfect gift presents itself) online. I will plan and prepare for a whole month of delicious warm meals.

And then I will stay inside with my door locked from Thanksgiving until New Years. I won't leave the house, I won't greet people, I won't sing carols or see people or go to family parties, I will spend the holidays in solitary confinement and hold my family hostage with me for my holiday pleasure.

But not this year.

This year I will gladly drag my kids around to every event and party we can find. We will stay up past bedtime and forgo naps in favor of sugar cookies. We will enjoy the crowds and the lights and sing carols while standing in line. We'll read scripture stories and talk about Jesus. We'll enjoy the hustle and bustle part of Christmas this year.

Sounds lovely to a grinch like me.

*no, I'm not talking about you, or your party, or your gift, or your tradition. I'm excited about that one, it's all of the others.....

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving: The Year We Ruined the Sweet Potatoes.

I have this disease where I think I am capable of doing things.

I see my mom/sister/neighbor/friend pull off something awesome and I'm all "I could do that. I've made rolls AND run a 5k before." And I shrug my shoulders in the no big deal way.

This is why I signed up for a triathlon, and have vinyl and a cricut, and 

So in a moment of sheer insanity we invited Grandma Egbert & Grandma Mott (Josh's step mom and grandma) over for Thanksgiving dinner. Fortunately for me, Meleta (step-mom) realized that I'm an idiot and said she'd host and we could come and she'd give us significant responsibilities.

Sweet potatoes, stuffing, and rolls.

For some unknown reason sweet potatoes with sugar and marshmallows are a thing in that they were mandatory.
For a million very logical reasons I like roasted sweet potatoes with salt and no extra sweet on them. They're already sweet, that's why they're called sweet potatoes. They don't need sugar on them.

But I do love my husband (both for unknown and logical reasons) so we bought roughly 9 million sweet potatoes and decided we'd do both.

Thanksgiving morning after a nice leisurely breakfast I started in on the rolls - my comfort zone. With plenty of time to rise, and the flexibility of being in the kitchen to cook them whenever they looked big enough to cook I was confident they'd be fine.

Next I started peeling sweet potatoes. And with 9 million of them (OK there were like 10 big ones) to do it was good I started early. Peeling, dicing, steaming and mashing BEFORE adding the extra sweet and baking again. High maintenance AND yucky.

Josh and I started steaming them in smaller batches because my big pot was busy. The first 2 batches of steaming went well, and I started adding sugar and cinnamon. I added cinnamon because I read on the internet that you should. But I didn't read on the internet how much you should add and the only thing I ever make with cinnamon is cinnamon

Obviously I added 14 times the appropriate amount of cinnamon. And heaven only knows how much too much brown sugar. I probably got the butter right, but we'll never know because the mushy pile of orange-brown lumpiness had Josh and I too horrified to do anything but throw it away.

"No problem" I told him, "we'll just add more sweet potatoes"
"There aren't enough sweet potatoes" he said solemnly over a bowl of ruined sugary goodness ".....ever. Like in the world."

Turns out he was right, because that's when learned that 5 LARGE sweet potatoes only need 1/4 tsp of cinnamon.

That's when we worked out a game plan involving me sacrificing my pure olive oil and sea salt sweet potatoes for his nasty sugared up sweet potatoes and I went downstairs to do my hair even though he expressed some concern about being responsible for so many food things happening at once.

10 minutes later I heard a shout from the kitchen. Because exactly one of us is good in emergencies (It's Josh. It's not me. Not at all me.) I (wisely) decided to stay downstairs and let him fix it. Whatever "it" was.

Another few minutes passed while I listened to Sheri Dew interview Elder & Sister Ballard before Josh came down the stairs with a bowl full of beautifully steamed sweet potatoes. Bright orange.
"I can only taste burning. Will you tell me if it's my mouth or these things?"

It was those things. And burned is a mild term for how those tasted.

Turned out he forgot to put more water in between the steaming cycles and the pan was sortof on fire.

Long story shortened (by a little, but not much...) we started with 2 VERY FULL 9x13 pans of sweet potatoes and ended with 2 small pans of sweet potatoes barely covering the bottom. Barely.

The stuffing went off without a hitch because I think all stuffing is overrated and have a testimony of stove top. But 48 hours later when the kitchen (and everything prepared in it) still smelled like burning we were thankful (again) that we weren't the bosses of Thanksgiving this year because we couldn't even handle the sweet potatoes without murdering them. More than once.

Last year we ruined the stuffing (yes Stovetop) because Josh didn't know you have to boil the water before adding the stuffing and we offered up our nasty gluey substance at an otherwise beautiful dinner with my brother.

2011 The Year We Ruined the Stuffing
2012 The Year We Ruined the Sweet Potatoes

2013 No assignment yet....I wonder why?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

2nd Child

Tommy and I were reading books the other night and he dug deep and chose one we haven't read for a while. He is in to reading every dang word in every book lately. He insists that I tell him "what's that say?" for the front middle and back of every book in the house. I sortof love it.

Anyway, the front of this particular book was labeled "for 6 to twelve months" and I choked while I looked over at Little John who was standing dutifully at the side of his crib while we read. Children who chew on books and don't listen to the words aren't invited to sit on my lap during story time. What kind of person tries to read a book to a kid younger than a year? I thought to myself. Then immediately the flashbacks began.

I'm a little bit stuck on labels - I like my kids to do things at the common time and I like them to wear 3 month clothes when they're 3 months.

When Tommy was just a few months old and starting to sit up in my lap I searched high and low for a book specifically labeled for younger than 6 months old. What kind of person doesn't read their kid a book until they're 6 months old? I thought 3 years ago. Why are none of these labeled for my infant?

That's when I realized I don't think I've ever EVER sat John on my lap and read a book just for him.

During our next trip to the library I found books with only one or two words per page and super-duper-thick-slobber-on-me-and-i-don't-care-because-i'm-made-of-plastic pages.

When we came home Tommy dumped all the books on the sofa and picked up the first picture book for me to read to him. One with lots of word and paper pages. John crawled around on the floor and banged the chars in perfect rhythm while The Drummer Boy drummed "boom pum pum boom pum".

When we got to the John Books I pulled him up on my lap and tried to read one word per page and let him turn the pages. He'd grab a page, then grab 2, then throw it across the room and crawl after it to throw it again.

So I am left wondering, did I miss my chance to teach John to love books? Is my clear negligence the reason he prefers to eat them? Or is his preference of eating and throwing and pounding the reason I don't read to him like I did with Tommy?

Or is just like everything else, the first child got the best of everything and 2nd gets the leftover tired mom?

Poor John.


The thing about potty training is that it isn't really photo-appropriate. At least not according to Josh.

Every time I take a picture of the world's most adorable bum he has a meltdown.

And every time I take a picture of that bum in the world's most adorable underwear he reminds me that "once it's on the internet you'll never get it back"

And the other part of potty training even I wouldn't dare take (or share) a picture of.

So instead you get to hear me tell you all about the mad success over the last 24 hours.

For the last few months Tommy has been happy to pee on the potty because at Grandma's house he learned that it makes a funny sound. So every night he'll go in the potty before his bath. But then it was attached to baths and he won't do it any other time of day. And he HATES underwear. I even splurged and got Cars and Woody and Buzz unders and he screams if I even think about putting it on him. He can read my mind. He knows when it's coming.

Enter older and wiser and long-lost cool-guy Taege. Tommy & his cousin Taege got to hang out this weekend - Taege lives in Logan. So they don't play with each other much. Especially not now that we live down here with the rest of the crazies. Which makes Taege an extra special cousin. "If they're not rare,  they lose their status."

Taege has the opposite potty problem. He'll wear unders, and keep them dry, but refuses to go on the potty.

Taege wore unders and we told Tommy and with a little more coaxing and "just like Taege"ing he finally let me put them on him. For the first time in his life.

He wore them all afternoon yesterday, and interrupted dinner with a potty request. Then as soon as we got home from church (in a diaper) he peed in the potty again. Then 20 minutes later, he grabbed the aforementioned adorable tushy and started yelling "no! no poop! no pooping on buzz!!!!!" so Josh ran him to  the potty and Tommy filled up the rest of his potty chart with poop stickers.

Now that we've had a success I feel like the hard work is done. He likes the unders. He ran out of the bathroom positively beaming with poop pride. He pees on command. And he doesn't want to ruin the cool-dude unders. So now we're done right? Project over?

A girl can hope.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Back when we couldn't have kids and all I ever wanted out of life was to be a mother I had no concept of what that meant. I only knew that I wanted it. Desperately.

Now that I have 2 adorable children who simultaneously make me want to tear my hair out while I go running down the street naked AND make me wonder how I ever survived 25 years before making someone's face light up like that.

So this year I am Thankful for a million unbelievable blessings. Things I thought would never ever happen in my lifetime. And especially the things I (temporarily) thought wouldn't happen for me.

(insert beautiful photo of the 3 most beautiful boys (and man) in my life. preferably a photo where they are all clean and looking at the camera and have coordinating clothing and nobody's hair is sticking up and there are no dirty socks in the background)

((this picture does not exist. obviously...for which I am technically grateful.))

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Josh works every other Sunday, which is only part of the point of this post. Today was a work day and as such I was on my own at church. Let me pause for a brief moment. Any mom who has ever done church on her own in any sense of the phrase: hats off to you. This is only the 3rd or 4th time I've done it and I'm ready to call it quits.

Before 7am I had showered and done my hair (curls! My hair is long enough to curl again!) and makeup and packed the church bag.

Then the kids woke up and it took me an hour and half to get them fed and clothed. But, we walked to church and got there early enough for a Bishop handshake AND a bench.

Church starts at 9, John usually naps at 9 so it's 3 hours of sheer torture. But today he was ready to go down for a nap as soon as we left the house.

Still, we left the house with everybody in their Sunday best, and the boys even had coats and there was a Sunday shoe on all 6 of our (collective) feet.

By the time we got through Sacrament Meeting though Tommy had ditched his vest and tie, and was working on abandoning his shoes. John had lost his shoes, socks, and pants (temporarily) and was attempting to remove all of my hair with his bright-orange-fake-cheese-cracker-stained pudgy fists.

The very kind old couple behind us pretended to ignore it every time one of my kids escaped under the bench to their pew, and they even said that didn't mind the crayon throwing. (I did mind.) It wasn't until we were leaving that I discovered that throwing was the nicest thing Tommy did with the crayons that hour and pulled one of his pants and learned about the magical cleaning powers of wet wipes. (Crayon does come off church pews....with a significant amount of scrubbing.)

While John and I wandered the halls so Tommy could attend nursery (the only reason I can come up with for being at church without Josh.) we left a trail of footwear. Later a nice young man stopped me and told me that he thought he just saw John's other shoe (it was missing?) in the lost and found in the library. The remaining sock was quite literally hanging by a thread.

We visited the library and retrieved the shoe, though it may never be worn again. (What is the point?) I tried desperately to get John to sleep, but he was too tired and cranky to even think about it and forbade me from sitting down. So we wandered. more.

The good news is that Tommy came with me without crying when it was time to go. And after we had lunch he came up to me and told me to "sit down onna sofa." I did. Gladly.

Tommy: "Mommy! I got a surPRISE for you...."
Me: "What is it?"
T: "It's in my legs."
He proceeds to strip and pull toys, books, refrigerator magnets, and today's coloring page from nursery out of his jammies. 

Repeat 89 times because I can't stop laughing at his creepy flasher line.

Sundays are hard these days. I hear very little at church and wonder why I don't pace in my own hallway instead of at the church. But I'm counting on that "creating good habits" theory and trying not to cry ALLL day long. It helps when my 3-year-old flashes me and forces me to read him books a thousand times in a row. 

In other news I did not make my bed this morning, divine intervention? I believe so. It is calling my name, which simply isn't possible when the pillows are all on top.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I am fascinated by the sounds that around me when it's quiet enough to hear things. (not often)

Usually life around here is noisy, somebody is crying about something, asking for something, or shouting in joy having received something. When the people aren't making noise, the TV, iPod, or kitchen is making noise. it's never silent but sometimes it IS quiet.

I can hear the fuzz from John's monitor while he sleeps soundly. Every now and then I hear him snort or snore.

The dishwasher is whoosh whooshing and draining. The washing machine is thumping and apparently getting ready for take off.

The low hum of whatever training Josh is listening to barely escapes under the door of the office.

The Christmas music sings out from the kitchen.

Tommy's show is harping its annoying songs up the stairs.

There seems to be one bird who was left behind and is singing in my backyard. I love that bird for surviving the snow.

This is certainly the quietest moment of my day (perhaps my week!). By far. And I simply love these sounds of silence.

So I'm curious - do you hear what I hear?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Little Indecisive

Probably my favorite thing about fall in Utah is the weather variety. I really do.

Last week we had a picnic because the weather was just so stunningly beautiful. I wore flip flops. Let's pretend that means something. My boys did not wear jackets. That actually does mean something.

That night there was a big storm knocking a bunch of apples off our tree, so Josh picked them up off the floor while the snow started. 

Then while we waited for it to accumulate we juiced the apples and got them ready to bottle. For future record a 5 gallon bucket of apples makes 7 quarts of apple juice.

But if there's anything we love more than a beautiful warm picnic having day, it's a snow day.

Seriously. We really REALLY love snow. This might have been the most fun we've had.....ever.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


My mom thinks that John having no teeth (at his age!) is the funniest thing in the world. It's only gonna get funnier when his cousin who is only 4 months old gets teeth first.

She also thinks its funny that he can eat anything he wants by gumming it to death.

And she's never even seen him eat black beans.

I sortof hope he never gets teeth. 

And I also hope that someone knocks on my door and asks if they can do my laundry for me.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Temple: Success

October's goal was to attend the temple 6 times.

When I set my annual goals I had just come off a "attend the temple every week" stint, so 6 times sounded like a bit of a challenge, but not really that much.

By the time the challenge rolled around it may as well have been "attend the temple for 6 hours every day" because it seemed just as impossible.

But I was going for it anyway.

Plus our new ward was focusing on temple attendance this month, so they were asking people to go at least once a week and even had names for us to do.

Josh's new work schedule leaves me "plenty of time" for things like this, but for some reason it felt like I went every single day that he was home. I didn't, I went 6 times. And I loved it every time.

Once I went 3 days in a row having missed any trips the previous week, and that was the best. I did some of everything, I saw familiar faces, I learned things, and I had built in time to study and pray while I waited for my turn. Just what I needed for some answers to my prayers.

Temple service is something I always wish I was doing more of, but it seems hard to go when you don't go regularly. I am here to tell you, that the more you go the easier it is. Run in and run out, or sit and think a while. Do one thing or 3 things. Go with something on your mind, or go just because you said you would. It is never ever a bad thing.

There aren't many of these goals that I honestly want to do every month, but this is one. I doubt I can go 6 times every month, but I have every intention of not getting in the once-a-month mindset again for a while. Because there are things in the temple that I need more often than once a month.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Well, it was also Halloween yesterday, and it was a lovely Halloween too.

We visited all the grandmas (lovely!) we saw dad at work (surprise!) and we trick or treated just the right amount.

Last month I asked Tommy what he wanted to dress up as for Halloween and he said a pirate - I was relieved and immediately got him a pirate costume. Which he loved.

John was (of course) a monkey because that's what Tommy was at that age.

Tommy realized on the way to Dad's work that I didn't have a costume and was very concerned. "But what will you BE mom?" he wondered. 
"Just me." I assured him it was fine. 
"You can be the me pirate mom." He handed over the eye patch and we all lived happily ever after.

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