Thursday, September 29, 2011

This Week in Pictures

Ummm... Eventful week, to say the least. We've had: the Primary Program, laryngitis, two days of massive play dates, daddy got a raise, Mommy finished a BIG project, traced one line of genealogy back to the 1500's in England, yard work, a neighborhood shooting (of course, right after I gushed about my awesome neighbors...), a visit to the circus, and a car in the shop (don't worry - just routine maintenance). Here's some of the highlights:

I decided the kids needed a place to hang out and feel "hidden" - this worked out awesomely. I laid the field stone patio all by myself! Eventually I'll even get around to filling in the cracks between the stones with Irish moss, and do alternating square plots of two different marigold varieties...

Wooooooooot! Swing set! Minus the slide... Still have to go to Home Depot for the two missing bolt replacements.

One plot weed-free... 5 to go, BEFORE the frost... 3 more after.

We were privileged to have Lydia and Lily join us at the park this week. I kept trying to take a picture of all 4 kids together, but I wasn't going to make them stand still. This is what I ended up with (it's kind of like "Where's Waldo?" trying to find all the kids):

When Lily and Lydia went home, I think Isaac was going through girl withdrawals...

Luckily, the next day, we had Lydia, Lily, AND Maddie come over! Yay! The highlight was playing dress-up:

Lydia said they were getting married. Isaac's expression looks like quite a few grooms' I've seen.

This was as dressed up as we got with Maddie, but it was sooooooooo dang cute!

The big girls:

Alas, missing Jon, but we got everybody else! :)

To make up for the lack of Jonathan pictures, here's a few of just him:

Okay, so just Jon AND Isaac...

My big project accomplishment? Toy car mats - times 4! They fold up like messenger bags. I followed a tutorial, but took the lazy way out and didn't do the finishing work - like adding side flaps to make it more like a real bag. They're Christmas presents for the 4 little guys in my life, and I figure they won't actually get folded up much, so the part that mattered was the mat itself. Yes, the buildings on the map are all hand painted (Isaac helped), with hand-made acrylic "stoplights." I totally lucked out in getting the maps and the fabric for the outer flaps - they all came from a twin-sized sheet I found at the thrift store! People get rid of such useful stuff...

Goals for next week: Zoo play date, sew the lining in Grandma's wool jacket (I've been "working" on that one for a year now...), sew 1 stuffed bunny, till and reseed the lawn (back and one strip in front), and unbury the two pianos in my front room. We'll see how it goes...

(For those who STILL haven't heard about the shooting -

The gunshots woke us up, but I rolled over and went back to sleep, silently cursing the neighbor who was causing trouble. Apparently, I should never curse. My bad.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Adventures in Potty Training - Week 2

Umm... No progress to report... He's not really having any accidents any more, but he's also not using the potty any more. Yep, you got that right - he's holding everything in... Fabulous.
I met with the specialist over at Children's Hospital on Monday, and he told me what we were doing was on the right track, gave me a few suggestions on how to help my frustration level, and said to hang in there. Great... At least I know now that it isn't my poor parenting that is causing this. Just like when he wouldn't sleep through the night, people all want to tell me what I'm doing wrong as a mother that is causing my kid to have issues. I'm really glad that when I finally do get through to people who ACTUALLY know what they're talking about, they always reassure me that I'm not stupid/weak/inept. I just wish outlasting my kid was as easily done as said.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Photos By Nancy

We have the most awesome neighbors ever. Really. Lots of them, actually. It's pretty amazing. Our neighborhood is like a little Utopia around here. I try not to brag it up too much, since everyone would then be trying to move here, and we'd end up with Riff-Raff and What-Not living next door... BUT... My sweet neighbor, Nancy, sent us photos she'd taken of our family when we went to drop some cookies by last weekend, and I couldn't very well leave them off the blog!

See, we kind of snuck in there with her daughter's family... We're not too stealthy these days...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Things I've Learned This Week:

1. If you intend to force potty training on a recalcitrant 3 year old who already tries your patience, your husband will be gone every evening during the week, thereby leaving you no break from said 3 year old.
2. Your 1 year old will pick up on your stress and insist that his life is worse - by screaming, throwing things, and injuring everyone in his vicinity.
3. When your house smells like an outhouse and has various states of poopy underpants in each sink possible, every friend you've neglected to talk to in months will decide to just "drop by" and see how you're doing.
4. Your children will become riled up by people visiting, your husband's weird schedule, and the fact that they KNOW you are at the end of your rope. They will NOT go to bed. EVER. When they finally drop out of sheer exhaustion, they will sleep JUST LONG ENOUGH for you to drift off. Then, they'll wake up, screaming and jumping on the bed.
5. There are just some mornings when feeding your children chocolate pudding cups for breakfast is worth it. Of course, then you have to deal with children on a sugar high while you are sleep deprived.
6. No matter how trying your kids/husband are during this particular week, you feel insanely guilty when you snap at them. INSANELY.

There were some fabulous moments this week, don't get me wrong, but I am NOT looking forward to next week. Oh wait, I don't get a weekend either, since we have church commitments both days. AND, I have laryngitis. I'd move to Australia, but that's just too much effort.

On the bright side, Jon performed well in public today and gave lots of high fives to the woman who was checking my cholesterol levels (BTW, I can't make fun of Mark anymore, since mine was one point over normal level too). Everybody thought he was cute, so they gave ME the compliments - like I had much to do with it. SO glad I've got people fooled into thinking I'm a good mom.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I'm a Bit Behind...

At least I am in loading pictures...

We took Keynan to the museum again. The boys all wanted to climb the Camarasaurus, which I thought was Iguanadon, thanks to those thumb spikes. Of course, I've now been shown the error of my thinking. That's what I get for assuming...

Afterwards, we went to the splash park for the last time this season. Jon was just starting to walk, so he loved showing off.

My older one has legs, but he doesn't know how to use them... Apparently, he thought they'd make a great canvas for his masterpiece. Unfortunately, those markers weren't Crayola, so they didn't wash off too well.

The dry erase board cleaned up nicely though. Too bad he loved this particular picture:

And this one:

Jon has been especially helpful in getting the yard back to a somewhat attractive state.

I got tired of waiting for Mark to be available to help put up the swing set (he's been UBER busy lately) and attempted to do it all by myself - but I'd never seen the finished product before, and we don't have any instructions. This was as far as I got, and, apparently, the whole frame needs to be rotated 180 degrees... That's what I get for being impatient.

Instead of focusing on my failures though, I've been trying to enjoy my successes - like my snapdragons.

and my red sunflowers.

and the cosmos I've been pulling up for years thinking they were weeds (this is the first time I hadn't pulled them before they flowered!)

and my super abundant marigolds (LOVE the two varieties mixed together!)

Jon has entered the "Love Me, I'm Cute" stage. Seriously, this is why people have more kids...

He's getting to be surefooted enough that I let him go after Nali when we went to visit Grandma Sue.

He even went hiking! He actually did amazingly well - he walked almost all the way the first time we went! (Which is more than I can say for his brother...)

Of course, he did want to exercise some of that new found Independence in ways that took a little patience on our part...

At least we had time to enjoy the scenery, which Isaac and Grandma Sue appreciated.

If you couldn't tell from the pictures, we've been super busy lately, but I haven't had time to document ANYTHING but potty training (and I'm only doing that documentation to keep myself sane and remind myself how this went for next time).

Here's what we've done in the last few weeks:

Visited the museum at least 3 times - one being to the opening of the new T-Rex exhibit, which the boys LOVED, including meeting Buddy from "Dinosaur Train" (Jon gave him lots of kisses, Isaac refused to stand next to him at all)

Driven up to Estes twice - once for the Highland Festival parade and a little hike and Poppy's pizza, once to see Aunt Heather, listen to the elk, and enjoy the night at Grandma Sue's

FINALLY gotten in to renew our temple recommends so we can go back and do a session when the temple reopens next month

Started Jon's quilt - Mark was stoked to do the math, I made up the design myself, so there's no pattern to blame if it looks dumb at the end

Planted 85 bulbs for spring - a few different varieties each of tulips and daffodils

Collected books for Mark's book drive project - there will be a post on this one soon, but if you've got kids books aimed at 6 month olds to 10 year olds you'd like to depart with, we'd love to take them off your hands!

Started a low cholesterol diet for Mark - even though he'll tell you his cholesterol isn't that high, I'm forcing the issue. I only signed up to be a widow for 11 years AT MOST.

Done a heck of a lot of laundry!!!

Cleaned up the basement so I could start exercising down there again, now that it's too dark and cold to walk in the mornings with my neighbor

Rearranged my lessons schedule, added in voice lessons again, and taken it upon myself to learn each piano piece I've assigned my students

Practiced clarinet a couple times, trying to keep up my end of the deal with Deena

Gotten Isaac to try new foods - including salad, which he now REQUESTS frequently, with Caesar dressing (!!)

Finished watching Season 1 of "Jeeves and Wooster" - I know, in all our spare time...

Gotten rid of Dish Network, and, thereby all our t.v. watching that isn't DVD or netflix (I know, we've saved ourselves 30 minutes a week!)

Read a fantastic book about the temples of ancient Egypt, and only wish I had more time to really study it before I have to return it next week (if I didn't mind snakes and wasn't claustrophobic, I totally could've been an Egyptologist)

Finished sewing 8 "peek-a-boo" toy bags, which Jon thinks are AWESOME, since he can see the toys and haul them all around the house now

Caught up on washing dishes for the first time since Isaac was born!!! :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Win!

So, Isaac decided this morning that his potty chair was scary. Um... We've been potty training for 2 years (!) with the same chair, and he's never been scared of it before. Seriously. But, I decided I'd take the bait and go out and buy one of the seats that fits on the regular toilet. When we got to Target, they had Diego seats, Cars Seats, plain white and blue seats... AND a Disney princess seat. Guess which one he picked? Yep, the sparkly pink Princess seat. Of course, it plays some super girly little tune too, if you push a little button on the handles. Whatever. If it gets him transitioned to the regular toilet, I'm happy.
Anyway, he was so excited about the Princess seat that he had NO MORE ACCIDENTS for the rest of the day!!! That means he had only one ALL DAY! Woooooooooooooooooooooot!!!
This is one happy mommy - to say the least.

Okay, so I have to admit, maybe Children's Hospital does know what they're talking about with this whole "resistance" thing. Here's hoping tomorrow goes at least as well! Please?

So, Isaac filled me in on why he wanted a Princess potty seat - to "spray the Princesses." I don't think I've laughed so hard in a long time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Um... Yeah...

Yesterday: 4 pairs dirty underpants
Today: 5 pairs dirty underpants

Yesterday: called Mark at work once for moral support
Today: called Mark at work once for moral support, but cried again as soon as I hung up

Yesterday: was at least TOLD when accidents occurred
Today: discovered accidents occurred only when stepped in a wet spot (minus one this morning that lead to a total FREAK OUT fit by my 3-year old, since he was almost to the potty)

This morning, I received my email confirmation that I will be attending the special seminar on potty training issues over at Children's Hospital next week. I was REALLY hoping this last ditch effort in following the pediatrician's orders would save me from needing to go to said seminar. If the rest of the week follows this trend, I may miss the seminar only because I'm in the psychiatric ward...

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Holy cow, my youngest can talk enough to get his own posts on what he says now! I don't know how I feel about this...
So, Jon's favorite words are "shoes" (no joke, he's totally OBSESSED with shoes) and "cheese" (probably the favorite food around here). Those two words sound remarkably similar when spoken by a one year old, but that's not what this post is about...
In the car the other day, Jon just kept shouting "CHEESE!!!!! CHEEEEEEEEESE!!!! CHEESE!!!!" and I was trying to patiently remind him that there was no cheese in the car, but he could have some as soon as we got home. He was getting super frustrated, and I figured he was just throwing a fit because he couldn't have cheese right then and there. When we got home, I got everybody in the house and grabbed some string cheese for Jon. When I handed it to him (he was still shouting "CHHHHHEEEEEEEEEESSSSSEEEEE!"), he started crying and threw it on the floor. Now I was super frustrated! Isaac just nonchalantly sidles up and says "Mom, he just wants you to take a picture of his shoes. Duh. Lame-o." What?! Of course, Isaac got a firm talking to for speaking to me like that, but it turned out he was right. Jon totally just wanted me to take a picture of his shoes. *Sigh* One click of the cell phone camera, and he was ecstatic again.
This one's not about words, but it's important...
Today, Jon was playing next to a drawer where I couldn't see what he was playing with. Suddenly, he started screaming, and I just automatically assumed he had shut his fingers in the drawer. Isaac said "No Mom, he poked his eye out." Good thing Isaac keeps tabs on that kid... Jon had stuck himself in the eye with the end of one of my headbands. His eye was totally swollen shut, he refused to open it, he was screaming bloody murder, and there was a slight discharge. Of course, I did what any normal mom would do: I pinned him down and tried to get him to open his eye. That didn't work. So I called my mom. She's much more sensible than I am. The next order of business was to call the nurse line at the pediatrician's office. They had to call me back. I called Mark, who was still at bishopric meeting. The nurse line called back. By then, it'd been almost 15 minutes of Jon refusing to open his eye. So, they wanted to me to head over to the ER and have him seen, just in case. Guess what? As soon as I hung up, Jonathan opened his eye, stopped crying, and started playing with Isaac. Seriously?! Now that his eye was open, I could tell it was okay. Mark came home and gave him a blessing, and we both felt better. We called the hospital and let them know the change, didn't end up needing to be seen, so we saved the hospital visit payment (thank goodness!) and the wait with a whole bunch of sick kids.
When I talked to Mark, he asked about what time Jon had opened his eye. Turns out, that was about the time the bishopric had prayed for the little guy. See, miracles do happen. Prayers are answered. And no, I don't think this was a little thing. Eyes are kind of a big deal.
Anyway, Jonathan's eye is still red, and it's obvious he injured it, but nothing warranting a trip to the ER. Thank goodness these things only happen every once in a while around here. I'd end up with no stomach anymore - just one big ulcer!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Freezer Meal Recipes

Most of these just needed to be hyperlinked... I've left out anything generic that you can find your own recipes for easily (like French Toast). Some of these are decently healthy, others might need some tweaking to fit your individual dietary desires. :) I mess with a lot of the recipes, so I decided to link up to just the basics. If you've got any questions, feel free to leave a comment - I bet somebody else will be wondering the same thing!

For the newbies:
1. Don't freeze things like tomatoes and lettuce - they come out super mushy and taste HORRIBLE. (Luckily, I didn't ever try it, but I've heard some stories)
2. If you cook something before freezing it, be sure it is completely cool before you put it in the freezer.
3. For things like berries and cookie dough, you'll want to "flash freeze" each piece individually so you only have to take out what you want each time. ("Flash freeze" means to lay out each piece on a cookie sheet covered with wax/parchment paper, place it in the freezer for a couple hours, then transfer the frozen food to a freezer container or bag)
4. If you plan to do a lot of freezer meals, it's totally worth investing in good containers. I love to use freezer jam jars for individual portions - Mark takes them for lunches. The next size up (I can't remember what they are, but the Ball brand with green lids instead of purple lids) is awesome for things like chili, or for two servings at a time.
5. Since you already have to wash dishes, make multiple batches at once to save time and water!
6. Don't freeze raw eggs. There are ways to do it, but I don't find it worth the effort. (IF YOU MUST - know that you have to separate the eggs, then add either salt or sugar based on what the eggs will be used for after thawing. Seriously, it's NOT WORTH IT)

Steel cut oatmeal with berries
Saute 1 cup oats in olive oil or butter. When slightly browned, add 1 cup milk and 3 cups water. Stir. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until oats are cooked. Freeze oatmeal and berries separately for more options, or together for a more "mixed" bowl.
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
Start with plain cooked steel cut oats, but only simmer for about 20 minutes. Add 1/2 cup CANNED PUMPKIN (NOT pumpkin pie filling), 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Stir. Simmer an additional 10 minutes.
Rice pudding porridge (a la Lucille's) (Ridiculous amounts of milk, but TOTALLY worth it)
Blueberry-Lemon Pancakes
Southwest Quiche - Read the comments on this one - a lot of the adjustments are even more delicious than the original recipe.

BLTs (Okay, really just bacon and bread... Maybe some sliced cheese... A little pesto?) with Parmesan-Garlic potato wedges
Squash/Pumpkin/Sweet potato soup
Bring to a boil: 5 cups broth; one peeled, seeded, cubed (1") squash/pumpkin/sweet potato; one small chopped onion. Simmer 40 minutes (or until veggies are tender). Add 1 cup sour cream/plain yogurt. Simmer another 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro.
Potato soup
Laura's Noodles
Cook up 4 servings of pasta, drain. Add 1 tsp ground bullion, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, and 1 Tbsp butter. Stir until well mixed. (freeze this way, then after thawing and reheating, add: halved cherry tomatoes, chopped green peppers, sour cream to taste, any kind of lean protein - we like it with fried tofu)

Tuna noodle casserole - ours is a family recipe, sorry - no sharing online. :) BUT, if you find a great recipe with ground mustard, you've likely discovered the same one somewhere.
Sour cream Enchiladas
Cook 1 lb chicken breast, then shred. Mix with 1 can cream soup, 1 cup sour cream, 1 cup grated cheddar, 1 small can green chilies, and 1 small diced onion. Roll in corn tortillas (usually about 10), then use excess filling as sauce over top. Sprinkle with cheddar, if you want. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Homemade spaghetti sauce with meatballs
I do this my own way: Use as many tomatoes as you've got. Dice them up, then set them aside. Saute some onion and garlic in butter. Add diced bell peppers until it looks good. Add tomatoes. Add any random veggies you've got laying around. (We've had unexpected success with avocado and cucumber) Simmer until it looks sauce-like. It'll be chunky, but trust me, it's good.
The best meatball recipe I've found is still Betty Crocker's. Sorry, it's copyrighted.
"Souvlaki" chicken pitas (Only freeze the chicken and pitas. The sauce separates, and is totally unappetizing.)
Lentils and Brown Rice
Saute garlic and chopped onion in 1 Tbsp butter. Add 1/2 cup lentils, 1/2 cup brown basmati rice, 2 cups water and bullion OR 2 cups broth. Simmer 50 minutes, or until rice is cooked. Add 1 chopped green bell pepper. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. We also love it with Cajun Seasoning sprinkled on it - to taste, of course! (When freezing, I recommend leaving out the green peppers - add them after it thaws. That way, the peppers still have some crunch to them!)
Red Beans and Rice
Chicken Piallards with chunky cherry tomato sauce (Because this sauce is cooked, you can freeze it too. Just put it in a separate container, because it'll take less time to reheat than the chicken.)
Chicken/Beef Lo Mein
Baked Ziti with Zucchini and Yellow Squash - This one is copyrighted by Weight Watchers. It's like a vegetarian baked ziti with sauteed squashes mixed in. Easy.

Zucchini muffins with cranberries and walnuts

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Food, Glorious Food!

Katie asked me tonight for freezer meal ideas and I realized that I've had a bunch of requests recently for my recipes, so I thought I'd go ahead and just post some! For now - since I haven't gotten more than 5 hours of sleep a night for about 2 weeks - I'm just making a list, but I'll post some recipes later.
All of the meals on the list can be cooked or prepped ahead and then frozen as soon as they cool. Some of them require a little work when you get ready to use them (like slicing a tomato or tossing something in the oven), but all of them are super quick and super easy. The vast majority are kid friendly (at least one of my kiddos will eat it!)

Fried Egg, Sausage/Bacon, Cheese sandwiches (on English muffins or bagels - Bagel Thins are our favorite to use)
Scrambled egg, tomato, pepper, onion, cheese breakfast tacos
Steel cut oatmeal with berries
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
Rice pudding porridge (a la Lucille's)
Blueberry-Lemon Pancakes
French Toast
Southwest Quiche

BLTs with Parmesan-Garlic potato wedges
Deli meat and cheese sandwiches
Squash/Pumpkin/Sweet potato soup
Potato soup
Katie's Lentil Vegetable Soup
Twice-baked Potatoes
Pizza pitas
Turkey, bacon, cheese pitas with spicy mustard
Laura's Noodles

Tuna noodle casserole
Sour cream Enchiladas
Homemade spaghetti sauce with meatballs
"Souvlaki" chicken pitas
Lentils and Brown Rice
Red Beans and Rice
Sliders and Fries
Chicken Piallards with chunky cherry tomato sauce
Chicken/Beef Lo Mein
Refried bean and salsa burritos
Chicken tacos
Baked Ziti with Zucchini and Yellow Squash

Peach Cobbler
Cookies (Already baked or just the separated dough balls)
Pudding pops

Frozen veggies
Cornbread muffins
Zucchini muffins with cranberries and walnuts
Spanish rice
Basmati/jasmine rice

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mixed Up

Shea totally made my day today when she said she loved how my boys both look like a good mix of Mark and me, but they still look totally different. I've had so many people tell me lately that Jon looks just like Isaac, and it's driving me crazy! I've been trying to figure out if it's just the mommy in me that sees their personalities more than their looks, or if they really do look as different as I think they do. I decided to do a side-by-side comparison (which I haven't figured out how to format in Blogger yet) to reassure myself that Shea and I are right. All of the pictures are of my boys between the ages of 12 months and 14 months. Besides the fact that Isaac had GOBS of hair and Jonathan has none, I see tons of differences!

AND, for those who are not yet aware: WE FINISHED THE SPRINKLERS!!! Woot! It took A LOT longer than anticipated this weekend, due to many unfortunate issues we couldn't have foreseen (like the power going out right when we were ready to test the system). After 8 weeks, I can honestly say I am sure glad that's over with! We also got part of the swing set cleaned and painted, but it's still in the garage. Somehow, the grass in the front yard is already starting to come back! We figure we'll try hard to bring what we can back, over seed it this fall, and hope for the best in the spring. Yay!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

It Works!

Somehow, I managed to succeed in getting both boys down for a nap at the same time, not falling asleep myself, and uploading some pictures that I've had for weeks! Woot! I'm hoping this makes up for my lack of success in anything else so far today... Oh, just kidding - I did accomplish one errand and got both kiddos to the pool by 11:30. I spent far more time driving around town all morning, looking in vain for two sets of water wings. Good thing my husband is a genius and figured out which store would have them! Pretty sure both boys would have drowned if I'd taken them to the pool by myself without some sort of floatation devices. Didn't hurt that I had good friends watching out for my kids in addition to their own! Thanks ladies!
Now, on to the pictures!

I attempted my first freezer paper stenciling on Isaac's shirts. He was thrilled with the outcome!

A close-up of the finished shirt:

He's not as much a fan of this one, but I like it.

Pretty sure this one is my favorite of the bunch. I'm glad Isaac puts up with it, but nothing can compete with Wall-E.

I've also been working on a piano for Megan and Shad. I really wish I knew more about how to restore them, because this one has a lot of promise! The original finish was gorgeous, but I have no clue how to get it back to that without screwing with accoustics... Ah well. Here's what I started with - the keys: (Can you tell where I took a break for a picture?)

On to the embarassing stuff... The yard... This is the project we intend to tackle this weekend. Seriously, the pictures actually make it look better than it is... Oye... (The green in the back? That's the tomato plants. Somehow, they're the only thing that made it. I guess you can tell what we value over here!)

I'd be pleased with the amount of green here if it was something other than thistles. See that trench there too? We had a cat in it at the time. See the cat? Nope, I didn't think so. Guess what? It was stalking a mouse. Sammy scared them both away. The trench is still there.

More deadness... All the kids' toys are piled on the patio, just waiting for someone to save the yard so the boys can play again. The boys keep sneaking out the dog door to try to get out there... Hopefully, this weekend will do it! The goal is to get rid of the dog door (I know, we're getting braver!), finish the sprinklers, fix the dog run, till up the entire yard, put up the swing set, and lay some mulch/ground cover. Can we do it? Highly doubt it. Will we try really hard? You betcha.

As a bribe to get through the bread store without a third (or maybe it was a fourth) screaming fit, I got the boys doughnuts. Jonathan LOVED his. Can you tell?

AND, forever ago, I posted about the silly diapers I had been using. (Yeah, we ran out of those a LONG time ago...) Right across the bum of the diaper, this is what it says:

(For those struggling to read it from the picture: "Want to hear me roar?")

DESIGN FAIL! At least it was funny to me.