Monday, December 31, 2012

Farewell, 2012

1. What did you do in 2012 that you had never done before?
Home-schooled a first-grader, took family photos without a professional present, and a lot of things from my 30 Things list.(paint my house; make bagels, Thai food, and cottage cheese; sew a dickie; pay for a stranger's meal, etc.)

2. Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions and do you intend to make any for 2013?
I completed all but one of my 30 Things, and I'm making a list of 31 things for my 31st year. They're mostly small, easily measurable goals that make me stretch a little.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My friend Mackenzie.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you didn't have in 2012?
A new house in a new place and great schools for my kids.

7. What dates will be etched into your memory from 2012 and why? 
April 7th: Bree's Jungle Safari birthday campout
June 18th: Mackenzie's wedding
July 20th: Driving through deadly flooding washes
Last week of July: visiting Chad's family in Missouri
August: Lincoln walking, a peach harvest, homeschool
September 7th: A cancelled San Diego vacation
December: Vegas Vacation and anniversary over-nighter
8. What is your biggest achievement of the year?
Homeschool. Though depending on the day, it can also feel like my biggest failure.

9. What is your biggest failure?
See #8. I constantly feel inadequate, and wish I could do more for my kids.

10. Did you suffer any illness or injury?
Sinus infections. Constant sinus headaches. These allergies will be the death of me.
11. What is the best thing you purchased?
A minivan!
12. Whose behavior or accomplishments merited celebration?
Bree learning to read, add, subtract, and remember minute details from history and science lessons. Chad taking over chores to keep me sane.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled or depressed? 
President Obama and the majority of Americans.
14. Where did most of your money go? 
Mortgage and a new minivan.

15. What did you get really excited about?
Our San Diego trip...which we didn't get to go on thanks to Mason's broken arm.

16. What songs will remind you of 2012 and why?
As a Child of God, Choose the Right, Stand for the Right, and all the other Primary Program songs.
17. Compared to last year...
a. happier or sadder? Happier.
b. thinner or fatter? Thinner, thanks to our local Biggest Loser competition.
c. richer or poorer? About the same.

18. What do you wish you had done more of?
Therapy with Lincoln.
19. What do you wish you had done less of?
Watching dumb TV shows.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
We visited Chad's family in Las Vegas before Christmas. Then my parents joined us at our house for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. We spent a nice, relaxing day playing with new toys, and Chad only had to work from noon to four.
21. Did you fall in love in 2012?
Yes, if my minivan counts.
22. What was your favorite TV program?
I was disappointed in all the TV shows that I previously enjoyed. Television has gotten so bad.
23. What is the biggest choice you made this year?
We made the decision to move, and there is a transfer position with Chad's name on it. If we could only sell our house...
24. What is the best book you read?
Bonds that Make us Free

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I don't make musical discoveries outside the realm of Primary.
26. What did you want and get?
A new minivan, Lincoln walking, a laptop
27. What did you want and not get?
A trip to San Diego. A homeschool and family routine that consistently worked.
28. What was your favorite movie this year?
The Avengers.
29. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
I turned 31. I went to see the Twilight movie with friends.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More peaceful family time, a less crazy homeschool teacher and a student who cries less, a house that sold.
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2012?
Wearing whatever fit my ever-changing body size, with comfort being the most frequent goal.
32. What kept you sane?
Chad doing half the household chores. Books and movies. Quiet time after the kids went to bed.
33. What celebrity did you fancy the most?
Chris Hemsworth (Thor)

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
The majority of newly-elected leaders do not value the same things that I do. And we have a president who has a vision for America that is far removed from what our country should stand for.
35. Whom do you miss?
Family members out of state, Jaime and other girlfriends who live too far away.
36. Who was the best person you met?
37. Valuable life lesson learned in 2012?
Kids interpret harsh words as hateful feelings.

38. What is something that really made you laugh this year?
My kids. The Hulk smashing Loki around like a rag doll.
39. What is something that really made you cry this year?
Frustrations and feelings of inadequacy.

40. What do you anticipate will be the biggest change in your life in 2013?
A move, a new home, and "real" school for Mason and Bree.

I finished! (pretty much)

With the exception of donating blood (I'll put that one on my list of goals for next year), I finished my goals for my 30th year! With not a day to spare. I meant to finish last week, but I started getting sick the day after Christmas, and I ended up getting a raging sinus infection. I spent almost three solid days in bed while the amazing Chad held down the fort and took care of all the chores. I was able to work on a couple goals while still abed, and the rest I finished last night and today!

#13: Write a children's book.

I finished sketching out my rough draft. It's a story about a "secret superhero" named Mason, and his little brother Lincoln.

#19: Write a thank you note to someone from my past

I emailed one of my oldest and dearest friends, one who I don't never get to see, thanking her for so many fun memories (I itemized some of the ones that stuck out to me).

#7: Pay for a stranger's meal

This one was easy to do; it was left to the last minute because I just kept forgetting. I paid for the car behind me in line at the Church's Chicken drive-through. The employees were very impressed, and asked if I had done the same thing about six months before (I guess someone else had the same idea!)

#9: Take an inventory of my food storage

We've been depleting our food storage this year, and not stocking up on purpose, anticipating moving in the future. But it's good to know where we're at with our stores, and I look forward to getting our storage organized in our next house.

#15: Make cottage cheese

This was not a complicated process, but it was a completely foreign one. I had to buy rennet and cheesecloth. I haven't eaten any of the finished product yet. It looks strange. As I was making it, Bree declared that it smelled disgusting, and Mason said it looked like barf. At least I only made half a batch!

#3: Make bagels

This was fun. It felt really weird to drop raw dough into simmering water. They smelled delicious baking, and taste very similar to the wheat bread I make (I substituted half freshly-ground wheat flour in the recipe). Mason ate two while they were still hot from the oven. I'm excited to try one toasted, with cream cheese and jam--my favorite way to eat a bagel.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

52 Books!

I completed my goal to read 52 books this year! Actually, I read 53. Here are some highlights.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

7 goals in 5 days?

Somehow my 30th year got away from me. It might have something to do with my three crazy kids, and the fact that home-schooling a first-grader has left me gasping for breath the since August started. I really should have worked on more goals earlier on in the year, because it's been crunch time lately.

I recently finished goal #6: Read the Book of Mormon.

So here is what I'm looking at:
  1. Paint the exterior of my house (I started this project 3 or 4 years ago, and am still not finished)
  2. Sing in a recital
  3. Make bagels
  4. Set up irrigation to my peach and pear tree and blackberry bush (I'd really like to have fruit this year!)
  5. Sew a dickie (to make those v-neck shirts more modest)
  6. Read the Book of Mormon
  7. Pay for a stranger's meal
  8. Publish my 2010 Blog Book
  9. Take an inventory of my food storage
  10. Take a family name to the temple
  11. Display recent family photos in my home
  12. Attend a theater performance
  13. Write a children's book
  14. Watch a film from the AFI Top 100 list that I've never seen before
  15. Make cottage cheese
  16. Write the story of how Chad and I met and fell in love
  17. Read The Grapes of Wrath
  18. Donate used books to my library
  19. Write a thank you note to someone from my past
  20. Turn off all electronics for 24 hours
  21. Bear my testimony in church
  22. Invite someone I'd like to know better over for dinner
  23. Don't eat out (or take out) for a month
  24. Bake and give goodies to my mail carrier
  25. Leave a $5 bill and a note inside a library book
  26. Make Thai food
  27. Surprise Date Night
  28. Don't complain for a whole week (remember, these are goals, not strict requirements)
  29. Make a list of places I'd like to visit during my lifetime
  30. Donate blood
I've been working on the children's book, and I'm hoping to have a rough draft done. A very rough draft, but still, it's something. And the blood donation will have to go on next year's list. Blood drives don't happen all that often around here, and there were none in the month of December. That's what I get for waiting until the last minute.

So, there are 5 days left in the year. I'm going to try to make it!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmastime in Vegas

This month Chad took some time off so we could spend some time in Vegas with his family. Here are the highlights!

Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay with cousins Nate and Abby.

Our huge, gorgeous room at the Trump Towers where Chad and I celebrated our anniversary (thanks to Fran and Jim for watching the kids!). We totally appreciated the free upgrade.

Date night with Rob and Jaime to Max Brenner for dinner and dessert. Amazing ice cream sundaes, and a chocolate lava cake.

Bass Pro Shop's Winter Wonderland. I love Bree's look of evil concentration.

Grandma treated us to manicures (it was Bree's first time, and they gave her the star treatment; she especially enjoyed the free snacks). Look how natural my pose is, trying to show off my nails.

Gifts from Grandma and Papa (See's candy, a Bluray player, scooters, a Fijit, Little People, Legos, Polly Pockets, and the noisiest elf-voice microphones known to man!)
Chad's parents made us feel so welcome in their home, and it was a festive visit filled with fun and gifts (I thought it was Hanukkah the way we had presents every night!). We sure appreciated everything, and had a great stay.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Love Story

#16: Write the story of how Chad and I met and fell in love

On December 15th we will celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary. So how did it all begin? That's a good question. It seems like ages ago. Being married and having kids seems to have muddled my memory of life before all this. I'm guessing that I have this story written down in a journal somewhere, but I can't find it at the moment. And I have never been a dedicated journal-writer (starting this blog has helped to change that), so a written version of our love story may not actually exist. I do, however, have a scrapbook with a few photos to remind me of what actually happened all those years ago. So, between those and my and Chad's memories, I'll do my best to recreate the details.

I was a 19-year-old Junior at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, spending the summer of 2001 completing prerequisite courses for the nursing program. I was living in a nasty apartment in the ghetto around the corner from the university. It was a 2 bedroom 2 bath, cockroach infested slum, housing 5 girls (one slept on the living room couch). The weirdness level of my roommates was astounding (one of them already had her wedding dress, but no prospects), and I spent as little time in the apartment as possible.

I attended pretty much every single-adult activity that was offered, and I had scrounged up enough money to go on that summer's beach trip. The trip started in the institute building parking lot, where we all loaded onto charter buses that drove us four hours to the California coast. The day was fun, but pretty uneventful. I don't remember much about it except for one particular girl who wore a bikini. I recall being shocked that she would wear something so immodest at a church activity, but was secretly jealous of all the male attention she was getting. Anyway, things didn't get interesting until the ride home. I was slathering aloe vera on myself, when I noticed that this guy a row back and across the aisle was watching me. He was extremely sun-burned, so I said, "Do you want some?" and held the bottle of aloe vera towards him. He replied, "Sure, if you'll put it on me." I sputtered out something like, "I don't even know you," appalled at his brazen flirting. He introduced himself as Chad Wallace, shook my hand, then said, "Now you know me." By this time we had the attention of all the people surrounding us on the bus, and my face was on fire. I couldn't think of a cool way to extricate myself gracefully from the situation, so I relented and said, "Okay." Chad proceeded to take off his shirt, which caused me to blush even more. I rubbed aloe on his back, trying to act nonchalant, then sat back down, cheeks burning. I pretty much ignored him the rest of the ride home, but every time I glanced back his eyes were on me, and he'd give me a devilish smile and a wink.

The details of the next few weeks are hazy. When I saw him at church the next time, he remembered my name, which surprised me. I kept my eyes out for him at the single-adult activities: a sports activity at the park, a pool party at someone's house. He was there, and we flirted, but I remember being annoyed because the girl to guy ratio was at least 3 to 1, and I hated competing for attention. Chad was playing it aloof to boot; I remember him shrugging his shoulders a lot. And then there was my friend Mindy, who warned me to stay away from Chad, with the dire warning: "He's a player." (Come to find out later, Mindy had a thing for Chad, and was trying to deter the competition. Some friend.) It seemed doubtful that anything would come from the initial flirtation on the bus.

But then one night there was a dance in the institute parking lot where I was finally able to get Chad's full attention. He was wearing a sort of tribal print shirt, and a beaded necklace with a little tooth on it. And he smelled like garlic. I mean really smelled like garlic (he had just eaten at Boca di Beppo, where they serve garlic bread with huge chunks of garlic on it). For some reason I found the combination extremely attractive. We danced together for a while, then we ended up in his truck where we talked for hours, and I discovered that there was a lot more to this aloof "player" than I thought. And we kissed for the first time. We stayed there almost the whole night. Then he took me home. So when we think about our first "date" we consider this night to be it, even if it was a little nontraditional.

From then on out we stopped dating other people and spent a lot of time together. We went to the Vans Warped Tour at the Thomas and Mack on June 23rd, rocked out to Alien Ant Farm, and moshed to Rancid. We went boating with Chad's friend Brett, and I tried to water ski. We went hiking the Lost Creek trail at Red Rock, and kissed under the waterfall. Chad was helping me pay my rent, because I had lost my job at the collections agency. And then he took me home to meet his family (he still lived at home). I spent Fourth of July with them. I ate meals at his house. His parents were kind and welcoming, and I felt so comfortable there. I rarely went home to my apartment if I could help it. We barely slept and I hardly studied (but thankfully passed all my summer classes anyway). Then I called my mom and told her I had met someone amazing. She knew from my voice that I was in love.

At some point during the next month we said the "L" word to each other. I remember that exchange pretty clearly, because I was afraid to say it. It's hard to explain why, because it was clear to me that I did love him. I guess I was worried that things were too good, and my hopes were too high, and I didn't want things to get screwed up, and part of me didn't trust myself (my relationship track record was pretty rocky). But Chad made me say it first, and once we "officially" loved each other it was downhill from there. We knew we were going to get married. I picked out a ring.

We planned on going to Washington so Chad could meet my family, and he wanted to plan the proposal during our trip (after he had gotten my dad's permission). He asked his mom for ideas on proposal ideas. She said something about how women love flowers and tuxedos. Chad made a plan, and he called my mom to enlist her help in procuring the flowers and a tuxedo. We flew to Washington and Chad met my family. We did some sight-seeing around Seattle, and went to a baseball game with my friends. Then it was time for the Echo Lake hike; a sort of rite of passage in our family. My dad, my friends Tina and Mackenzie, Chad, and I all backpacked to the campsite at the lake. We did the traditional trout fishing, and mostly tried to stay dry despite the constant drizzle. The next morning, Chad secretly woke up at 6:00 am and got in position for the big moment. Us girls were all still asleep, and Chad got impatient after about half an hour of hiding and waiting. Then I was awakened by what I thought were pine cones hitting our tent (Chad was throwing rocks to wake me up). Tina and Mackenzie were still snoozing away, so I unzipped the tent to investigate. As I went to put my shoes on, I saw a little yellow flower on my hiking boot, with a trail of flower petals leading way from it. I quickly put on my shoes and followed the trail to a tree stump on the other side of the clearing. There was a jewelry box sitting on it. When I opened it and discovered it was empty, I turned around. There was Chad, in a tuxedo, holding the ring. He got down on one knee, told me he loved me, and asked me to marry him. I teared up and said yes, and he slipped the ring on my finger.

Four months later we were married in the Las Vegas Temple. It was the best decision of my life.

Happy 11th anniversary, Chad. I love you.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Annual Light Parade

We attended the light parade downtown again this year. 

Here were a few of my favorites from the parade.
Here's Lincoln saying "Oooh!"

And Bree and Mason with their free candy canes

The best part was at the end after Santa passed by. Bree turned around and said, "His beard was really real! I think he was the real Santa!"

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Ornaments

Bree has been begging me to help her make ornaments for out tree. I couldn't find any decent craft supplies in the house, so I introduced Bree to the art of stringing popcorn.

It's quite an exciting concept when you think about it: take a needle and long thread and string up a long strand of food. Mason had to get in on the action too, because after all, when else have I ever let him handle my sewing needles?

We sat down on the couch, turned on The Santa Clause 2, and got busy. I just popped some kernels in a paper lunch sack in the microwave--no butter or salt makes for better garland. Bree made an impressive popcorn string that ended up being about four feet long. Mason made it to about a foot and gave up. I made enough to fill in the rest of the spaces on the tree, which wasn't difficult because I only needed garland for the top half (edible decorations would have quickly disappeared in Lincoln's mouth). I think it turned out adorable. It was that little extra something our tree needed.

Friday, December 7, 2012

#24, #26, and #28

With only about three weeks of the year left, I have my work cut out for me to finish my list of goals!

#24: Bake and give goodies to my mail carrier (she totally deserves it--she is always smiling and friendly, and waits for us to answer the door when she has mail that won't fit in the mailbox).

Chad and I have been baking up a storm. He has proven to be quite the adept candy-maker, churning out peanut brittle, fudge, and almond roca like a pro. While he was stirring boiling sugary substances at the stove, I made pecan tassies, pumpkin-streusel cake, pretzel turtles, sugar cookies, and sweet Chex mix. Our mail lady was presented with quite an impressive array of treats.

#26: Make Thai food

I chose to make Coconut-Curry Tilapia. I had a hard time finding red curry paste in my town, but that was the most difficult thing about this recipe. Fresh flavors, simple, and not too spicy.

#28: Don't complain for a whole week

I didn't actually make it the whole week with no complaints, but I did learn about my complaining habits. I had to remember to pay attention to what I was saying, and I realized that I complain most often about my sinus/allergy problems, and the kids' misbehavior. I also found that there is a fine line between complaining and simply pointing out the facts (e.g., Chad: "How was your day?" Me: "Bree had a bad attitude during school today."). I think I just need to work on complaining less about the little things that the kids do that bug me, and only point out the major infractions that need attention.

I'm sure I complained about other things, but I can't remember!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Globe First Ward Santa

We had a Christmas potluck at our church last week, complete with rubber chicken launching (with a water balloon launcher), a nice array of food, and a wonderful Santa. He happens to be a personal friend. It was hilarious when his own kids were too scared to sit on his lap.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bree's latest spontaneous artwork, with explanation

"Cat plus dog (they're friends) equals love.
Cat by herself minus love equals sad kitty.
That helps us to remember you can never go alone."

Monday, December 3, 2012

Letters to Santa

Dear Santa,
I want you to bring me a castle of soldiers and a dragon and ogre, and Spongebob Squarepants Legos like the movie. I want new squirt guns and a new toy dinosaur and a new toy rocket that looks like fire. That's all I want for Christmas.

Dear Santa,
I want a stuffed parrot, a Barbie princess with brown hair and a purple dress, a golden knight, and a snow globe.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November, with #20 and #22

We started off the month with me going on a ride-along with Chad. He's been doing this job for almost seven years, and this is the first time I've seen him in action. I guess I waited so long for a few reasons: I was worried I'd witness something scary that would freak me out and have me worried more for him when he's working, I didn't want to pay for a babysitter, I get carsick, etc. But I gave in, called a sitter, and dubbed the first Saturday in November "date night" at work. I actually really enjoyed it. We didn't see anything crazy or scary, but I did get to see my man act all in charge and authoritative, but in a very polite manner. He's good at what he does. And we got to eat dinner together, which made the date night official.

Fall officially arrived with a glorious weekend of 40-ish weather! It was an occasion for jackets, scarves, tights, and boots--all at the same time. I was in heaven...for that weekend at least, because it was back into the mid-70s the following week. But it gets gradually cooler every day

And we realized that we need to quickly outfit the kids for cooler weather. Luckily, we found a few items in their closets from last year that still fit them.

Bree lost her first tooth! It was literally hanging out of her mouth, and she was playing with it constantly. One day during school, I was getting so annoyed because she couldn't keep her fingers out of her mouth. I offered to pull it out for her, and she didn't exactly say no. She actually just looked at me skeptically, which I took as a yes. So I yanked it. She gave me a look as if she had been mortally wounded, and her feelings had been seriously hurt. "Ow! That hurt!" I handed her a tissue, reassured her that it would stop bleeding really soon, and told her to get back to her school work. She soon got over the insult, because she quickly discovered a slew of new tricks she can do with a gap in her teeth (poke the tip of her tongue through, breathe through it, drink through a straw, etc.). And the tooth fairy did not disappoint.


Chad and I celebrated our birthdays quietly. I made him chocolate lava cake, which, for future reference, is hot enough to melt a birthday candle, resulting in a cake with a beautiful gooey center laced with green wax. Surprise, surprise. But he ate it anyway, despite my offer to swap with him. That's love.

Chad made me waffles for breakfast the next morning for my birthday. And while he was at work that evening I got a sitter for the kids and went to see the final Twilight movie with a couple girlfriends. Going out with the girls is not something I get to do often enough, so it was a really enjoyable way to spend my birthday evening. The movie was decent too.

 I captured the view of the sunset one evening from our kitchen window. We enjoy beauties like this all the time. The camera does not do it justice. Sunsets here are amazing.

We've had to limit Mason to one hour of video games a day. He is like a crack addict. His first question to me each morning is "Can I play Mario Brothers/Lego Star wars?" He is often dressed with teeth brushed before I even get going in the morning, because he knows those are prerequisites to game time. I limit game playing because of the mental/emotional effects of too much play time, but the fact that gaming is a sedentary activity doesn't even come into it. Mason is literally incapable of sitting down while playing. It's impossible to play alongside him, because he can't stay out of the way.

Goal #22: Invite someone I'd like to know better over for dinner
This technically happened in October. On Halloween night, we made chili and cornbread, and invited my friend Mackenzie and her family over after we trick-or-treated downtown. Mackenzie and I know each other really well, but I haven't spent much time with her husband Aaron. I think this was only the second time we've had them both over! Shameful. Chad and I both agree that Aaron is good company. We should totally hang out again, before another two years goes by.

Goal #20: Turn off all electronics for 24 hours
This was not nearly as difficult as I thought. I purposely chose a Sunday, and a day when Chad would be working (because he wasn't enthusiastic about the idea). I was worried we'd have trouble filling the time. I could have done without the 50 or so requests to watch a movie (we are apparently addicted). But I played a few board games with the kids, which they loved because we don't do that often. Then I had to declutter the house a bit in preparation for a session of sugar cookie making (I have a hard time starting a new mess-making project when the house is already a disaster). So, once the house was passably clean, I mixed up some dough. The whole process of mixing, rolling, cutting, baking, frosting, and cleaning again took about 3 hours. It's a big process even without kids "helping." I even let Mason use some non-traditional cookie cutters (a "W", an "8", an ice cream cone, etc.), but had to stop him before he dirtied every cutter in the 100-piece Farberware set. Mason's decorating technique consists of squirting a blob of frosting and adding sprinkles to one cookie, then immediately eating it. He repeats this until he is sick to his stomach, then gives up on the whole thing. Bree actually stuck it out until every single cookie was frosted. She really gets into the creative stuff.

We had Thanksgiving at my grandparents' ranch this year. It was definitely the most delicious family meal we've had there--and there was a ridiculous amount of food. I am talking ridiculously ridiculous. We returned to my mom's house with two pies that had gone completely untouched because there were so many desserts. All the dishes were really tasty.

Especially this:

Sweet Potato Casserole from The Pioneer Woman

And chocolate pecan caramel pie from Southern Living.

While we were out there, we took some family snapshots in my grandpa's horse corral. I'm sure he thought I was out of my mind, raking horse manure out of the way, posing in front of the 100-year old fence.  But I had a vision, and I think we captured it.

Bree keeps begging me to make ornaments with her. Unfortunately, most of my ornament-making supplies are packed away. I even have a bag full of pine cones and red berries somewhere in the camping trailer. But Bree was not to be deterred. She came out of her room a few days ago, showing off this little beauty. The hook is made from a paper clip.

And, one good guess as to why our tree looks like this

The Christmas movie watching is well underway. So far we've watched:
  • The Santa Clause
  • Arthur Christmas
  • Elf
  • Just Friends
  • Rise of the Guardians (not a Christmas movie after all, but it does have Santa in it)
  • Prancer
  • Stealing Christmas (a cheesy ABC Family movie)
  • White Christmas
  • I'll Be Home for Christmas
  • And the kids have been watching the kids' Christmas classics: Rudolph, Frosty, Charlie Brown, along with some Diego, Thomas the Train, and Wonder Pets
Oh, and our Elves have recently been coming to life at night. And though I've reminded the kids that the elves keep on eye on them for Santa, Mason assures me that the elves actually can't see him when he's sleeping, because, as he's stated before, he sleeps with his eyes open, and he's never seen them in his room at night.The kids have gotten a kick out of waking up to see the elves playing tic-tac-toe, reading tiny board books, and hanging from kitchen cabinet knobs. They've been waking us up in the mornings in their excitement to report on the elves' latest antics.

Yes, the end of November is Christmasy around here. I like it best that way.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

19 Months

This post was originally intended to be an 18-month update...that is indicative of how things have been around here lately. We're busy, I didn't have recent photos, etc. Actually, Lincoln started doing some really awesome things AFTER the 18-month mark, so this post is much more impressive than that other one would have been.

The details:
  • Signs "food" and "more" and "drink"
  • Says "baba" (bottle), "muhk" (milk), "bye" (accompanied by a wave), "hi" (with a wave), "nana" (banana), and "mama"
  • Can point to my nose, and find his tummy and feet
  • Likes looking at books, and pointing to things on the page
  • Has to be a part of all jokes, and will always chuckle belatedly
Don't mind Bree, the creeper
  • Walks all over the place with great balance, does impressive squat reps, and crawls onto the coffee table and into any crack he can fit into
Chad took this one while I was out, and it was a lovely surprise to discover as I imported photos to my computer
  • Maneuvers push and pull toys like a pro
  • Can stack rings, and insert coins into a slot
  • Loves to dance, wave his arms, and bob his head to music  
Really enjoys the TV
  • Has lately begun to elicit signs of separation anxiety--a first in any of our kids
  • Opens and empties drawers, shreds magazines and newspapers, and will trail toilet paper around the house whenever a bathroom door gets left open
Lincoln is still a snuggly little baby. I am loving the extra time I get to enjoy him when he's still small. He gives the best hugs, and I can't get enough. It makes everyone else in the family jealous. He is the center of our family; I can't imagine us without him.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Morning Snippet

Mason's first words to me today: "Mom, I have a drooling nose."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Portrait of a 4-Year-Old (with guest appearance by a 6-Year-Old)

At lunch table.

BREE: Christmas isn't about the presents. It's about family, and love, and Jesus' birth.

MASON: Jesus lives at the South Pole. And sometimes, he's at the Bass Pro Shop.

MOM: I think you mean Santa.

MASON: Oh yeah! I meant Santa.

MOM: And the North Pole.

MASON: Yeah...

Bree, upon seeing a picture of Barrack Obama, and being told he just got re-elected.

BREE: For a president, he's just not that smart. He should go to president school. Why don't they have those?

MOM: I don't know, Bree. I just don't know.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Portrait of a 4-Year-Old (third installment)

 Scene V
"Obesity Foreshadowed"

MOM: You don't have to finish that second burrito. Make sure you listen to your tummy, and stop eating when it tells you to.

MASON: But I just can't stop eating--it tastes so good!

Scene VI
"The Passage of Time is a Difficult and Abstract Concept"

MASON: Is tomorrow Christmas?

MOM: No. Tomorrow is Friday.

MASON: You mean the next day?

MOM: Yes, the next day is tomorrow.

MASON: Well, when's Thanksgiving?

MOM: In three weeks.

MASON: I knew that! Thanksgiving is in... four weeks...Momma, is three... I mean, is four... three weeks...

MOM: It's okay, buddy, don't hurt yourself.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween--with Daddy!

This was the first year that Chad has been able to spend Halloween with the kids and me. He has always been working in the past! He was very excited. We kicked off the festivities with pumpkin-carving. Chad helped Mason carve the alien he wanted, and I helped Bree with her dog jack-o-lantern (I thought her Doberman choice was interesting, given all the options).

We went downtown again for trick-or-treating, because it was such a hit last year. Local businesses hand out candy that either they or local residents have donated. It's a nice leisurely walk up and down main street, which is blocked off to traffic--a huge bonus when you have a Mason in your family. And in less than an hour, your candy bag is full!

Costumes this year:
Lincoln: Frankenstein
Mason: Han Solo
Bree: Cow Girl
Me: Vampire whose cheap teeth fell out and got lost (so I looked like a goth in everyday attire)
Chad: uh...resident of West Africa (wearing clothes from his mission)

We met up with my friend Mackenzie and her family for trick-or-treating, and we all enjoyed Chad's delicious chili, cornbread, homemade pumpkin donuts, and hot chocolate back at our place. The kids all enjoyed running around, playing together, and watching "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown"

It was my favorite Halloween yet.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Random Musings

  • The term "salad" means a green salad. Lettuce, veggies, dressing, etc. Apparently this is not common knowledge. To some, the term "salad" encompasses dishes of many ingredients, that can include, but are not limited to: pasta, potatoes, jello, even cookies. I like a nice jello salad as much as the next girl. But it throws off the balance of a meal when, instead of some green veggies, we have an interesting concoction of Snickers, apples, cream cheese, and Cool Whip. Snicker salad? Really?
  • I need to pay better attention to what day it is before I decide to return something to Walmart. A certain group of folks around here gets paid on the first and third Fridays of the month. And if you go shopping on one of those days, or the three days immediately following, you're in for extra crowded stores. And a very slow moving line at customer service. Where they do MoneyGrams. Which take approximately 5 hours each to process.
  • I have morphed into a desert girl, who needs a sweatshirt at soccer practice after the sun goes down. Even though it's still 78 degrees.
  • At some point in the last six months, I have stopped asking myself, "What should Lincoln be doing at this age?" I have no clue what an 18-month-old should be doing. I have become blissfully forgetful. But I do know that Lincoln is hitting his own milestones like a champ.
  • I'm trying to find out what the going rate for a tooth is these days. Bree has her very first loose tooth, and is excited about the Tooth Fairy's impending visit. This is important information, which involves a little math on my part. I'm calculating: ((number of teeth per child)*(number of children in household))/total years devoted to said tradition. And I almost forgot to factor in peer influence (though home-schooling my prove an advantage there). I can't remember how much I received as a kid. I just remember sometimes getting little plastic baggies full of random change (possibly a sign that the Tooth Fairy was unprepared and/or unconcerned with being consistent). 
  • Is parenting theory changing? I have just recently become aware of a movement towards not punishing children or putting them in time-outs. Which, of course, I immediately scoffed at. Then seriously considered a second later. Because, while Bree has always had a desire to do the right thing regardless of our parenting mistakes, Mason has been quite a bit trickier. He is so clearly needing something we aren't giving him. So, as difficult as it has been to turn our backs on time-outs, we are instead giving him more positive attention, and using his behavioral infractions as an opportunity to reinforce our love for him, and acknowledge his feelings. It is taking some time to get used to. It may be too soon to tell if it's working, but I think the overall atmosphere in our home has changed for the better.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


  • Lincoln started signing "food" three weeks ago, accompanied by a "bfvvv" sound. 
  •  He's also a very messy eater.
  • Bree got her hair cut. It's a bob. She loves it. It makes her look older. And taller somehow. 
Mason took about 40 pictures at Bree's last soccer game. It kept him entertained. Here's a sample. I'm sure Mason focused on Lincoln's face on purpose.
  • I'm participating in our community's biggest loser again. To lose the 10 pounds that I gained since the last session ended in May. It might be closer to 15 pounds. My pants are really tight.
  • My allergy injections are just once a week now. I have yet to notice any improvement, but I'm not at maintenance dose yet, so I'm still hopeful. I take Allegra and Sudafed daily, but I still suffer constantly (especially now that soccer season takes me outside more). I have, however, discovered migraine headache pills. They are the only thing that get rid of my sinus headaches. I am very thankful for caffeine in pill form.
  • We have occasional showings on our house. The market is pretty dead.
  • I loved General Conference. I appreciate it more and more as I get older. I must need more guidance these days. I printed off activity packets and pictures of the General Authorities for the kids, and armed myself with M&Ms and stickers to reward them for listening and identifying who was speaking. Bree got really into it, listening for key words like "love" and "Jesus," and had made herself sick after the first hour. Mason did okay. It's still a long time to sit and listen.
  • Book club has been going strong for over a year and a half. I love it, and am so happy that we have a great group of women who are committed to such a good thing. Here's what we've read so far:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Portrait of a 4-year-old (continued)

Scene III

Scene begins with Mom watching the first 2012 presidential debate.

MASON: What movie are you watching?

MOM: It's the presidential debate. This guy (pointing) is the President of the United States, and he wants to be the president again. But he didn't do a very good job. So this other guy wants to be the new president. And I want to vote for him.

MASON: I want to vote for that guy, with the blue tie.

MOM: (aside) I wonder if Romney knew he was losing Mason's vote when he put on that red tie.

End Scene.

Scene IV

Mason monologues.

MASON: I hadded a nightmare. Well, I didn't have a nightmare, I hadded a bad dream. I just keep my eyes open when I sleep so I don't have a nightmare. Bree, she closes her eyes, so she has nightmares.

End Scene.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Portrait of a 4-Year-old (a skit)


Scene begins with Mason running in from the other room, screaming.

MASON: Mom, Bree pushed me and I hit my head on the wall!

MOM: Is there a reason why she did that?

MASON: I wasn't doing anything--I was just hurting her!

End Scene


Open on Mom, walking too close to the TV.

MASON: Mom, be careful. You'll get blind.

MOM: I'll get what?

MASON: You'll get blind. Daddy told me.

End Scene

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lincoln's Heroes 2012 Edition

We arrived bright and early Saturday morning at the Tempe Diablo Stadium to participate in Sharing Down Syndrome's Walk for Down Syndrome. Our family had a lot of fun last year, so we were amply excited to go again--especially Bree. And this year Lincoln was old enough to know that we were at a big, fun event. The older kids jumped right into the nearest bouncy castle when we got there, while we hung out with Lincoln, trying to stay in the shade.

The stroller couldn't keep him happy for long though.

He got quite  a lot of attention, what with being an adorable, tiny little man wandering around on his own.

While Lincoln was exploring, Bree and Mason tried their hands at the various carnival booths.

And they were AMAZED to see that Spider Man was there.

Then Lincoln started getting cranky, so Chad put him on his shoulders. That little arrangement didn't last long. Lincoln wouldn't leave his hat or his sunglasses alone.

Lincoln was getting hotter and crankier by the minute. At 9:15am it was 90 degrees. A free Jamba Juice smoothie helped. It was also the first time Lincoln successfully drank from a straw (so that's the secret; he just hasn't been dehydrated and overheated with previous straw attempts!).

The smoothie kept him happy for like four minutes. We tried free Blue Bunny ice cream next.

That kept him relatively quiet while the other kids got painted tattoos (that's my friend Amy's daughter on the left).

At this point we were purposely skipping the actual walk portion of the festivities because A) It was very hot, B) Lincoln was losing it, and C) They were making people actually out of the stadium and along a path of considerable distance, which is not what we signed up for (how dare they expect us to walk at a Walk, right?). Now I must add D) We are lame and lazy.

One of the highlights of hanging out by the tattoo booth is that we got to meet Gina Johnson, the founder of Sharing Down Syndrome, and one of the most amazing people I've ever met.

We were so glad that Adam and Heather could be there with us, my friend Amy and her family came again, and my cousin Jennifer and her girls came too. We are so grateful to everyone who has shown their love for us and for Lincoln!

Lincoln is appreciative too, despite the fact that he's screaming in this picture

(ABC did a local news story about the walk, which was neat to watch)
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