Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Update Request Granted

I have had a request to update my readers on the doings of the Spiff Family.  We are so very interesting, after all, I'm sure that all three of you who occasionally read this have missed us greatly.  So, update you, I will!  You're welcome.

Little Lady is five months old already.  I cannot believe how fast she is growing.  I remember when Gunner was a baby, it seemed like he was a baby forever.  His infancy was eternal.  But I swear I have just blinked, and the first half of Lady's first year is almost over.  Time flies when you're having fun.  Or more accurately, when you're insane crazy busy.

Sooooo, the last five months:
Lady was a collicky baby.  That was a first for us, thank goodness.  I have never experienced the pain that is a constantly crying infant, and I hope to never experience it again.  It started by me noticing that she was fussy.  I couldn't put her down and have her stay happy.  And then a couple weeks after she was born, the crying started.  Every night at 8 o'clock sharp.  She cried for no apparent reason.  She was completely inconsolable, which was the hardest part.  I wanted so badly to help her, but nothing we did would help.  Spiff and I spent those first three+ months just making it to the next day because "the next day" would be one day closer to when she would grow out of the crying.

And she did grow out of it.  Now, she is a perfectly pleasant, sweet, smiley, chubbly little five-month-old baby girl, and I am so in love!  The boys are so in love!  They dote on her, talk to her, do anything they can to help her to be happy, and fight over who gets to hold her.  I hope they continue to love her this much because it would make me so happy if she has a great relationship with her older brothers.

We went to Camp in the summer time with Mhana and Chris.  It was a lovely vacation!  It was just wonderful to be with our family, and it made me miss them all the more.  I wish we didn't have to live so far away.

Gunner started school.  He is a kindergartener, and he loves it so very much!  I'm thrilled with him and his progress, and just so proud of him.  He is absolutely thriving!  His teacher is wonderful, he is learning by leaps and bounds, he is motivated to behave himself and always points out the "bad kids" who aren't so motivated to make good choices.  He is showing everyone how much like Spiff he is by being absolutely brilliant.  He is the first "2-Green Reader" in the class, which means that he knows 100 sight words (or something like that).  He is such a great kid, and such a joy to have around these days.

Hobbes is lonely at home without his big brother, and we are still trying to figure out life without Gunner.  I think Hobbes is getting the short end of the stick these days.  I'm super busy helping Gunner with his school stuff and piano lessons, and super busy with the baby and the house, which all doesn't leave that much time for my super independent Hobbes who doesn't like me to suggest activities for him.  Sounds like a typical middle-child situation going on.  We're slowly figuring it out, I guess.

Spiff has been busy busy busy at work.  He was in the cancer ICU during August, which was a horribly emotional and sad month.  He worked with patient going through tragedies every day, and every day  I would hug my family tighter and tighter.  September was OB and Call every three days, which got rather old rather quickly.  October was spent doing an Echocardiogram away rotation.  We just survived five weeks away from our spiff.  We could have gone with him, but I chose to stay here with the kids for various reasons.  (I didn't want to pull Gunner out of school, the baby is a whole lot of work and is easier to take care of at home, Spiff was working a ton, so we would have been lonely, etc.)  As hard as it was to be a single mom for five weeks, it was less work than it would have been to pack up the whole family and spend the month in Florida.  We survived, and now we're so glad Spiff is home.

A few other things:
Gunner also turned six.  What a big kid he is!
The boys are in swim lessons and loving it. 
Hobbes (3 1/2) figured out how to ride a pedal bike!  He has been obsessed with it.  Riding his pedal bike around and around our neighborhood is all he wanted to do during the whole month of October.  
We had the world's most beautiful Fall this year.  The colors on the trees were so vibrant!  It was wonderful, and now that they're all gone and Winter is upon us, I find myself pining away for those warm Fall days of leaf raking and kids playing outside.  I still don't think I am over Last Winter.  Not sure I ever will be...

That about wraps it up.  Happy Update to You!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Lady's Birth Story

We have our little Lady.  She is perfect and beautiful, and we just love her to little pieces.
She was born June 6, 2014 at 7:22 p.m.  (She shares a birthday with my sweet niece.)
7 lbs. 1 oz. (same as Gunner.  Same as me, too.)
19 3/4 inches.

So, here's how it all went down.  It's more for me to remember, but I feel it's beautiful enough to share.  Lots of details here.  Forgive me.  I believe birth stories are all about the details.  For me, every moment and every detail of these few hours make the experience special.

My due date came and went, and with it my anxiety grew.  The time we had so carefully planned out was passing.  My mother in law was only in town for a few more days.  Spiff had taken some precious time off, and would soon be on call again.  My doctor had stripped my membranes twice, but although I was dilated to a three, nothing was happening.  No contractions.  No progress.  I felt physically fine, until I woke up the day after my due date to find that the baby had Dropped! in a serious way.  I was immediately more uncomfortable, waddling around with very swollen feet.

All the sudden, I wasn't so fine with staying pregnant.  We needed this baby to come out!  We all knew it, but I was definitely feeling the pressure of "performing".  With the end of pregnancy, I had reached the end of my little rope.

I went to the doctor two days after my due date.  She came in with an induction date of the following Thursday (one week later), which happened to be Spiff's next call day.  She asked how my hubby's schedule was, and I immediately broke down.  I sobbed at her, telling her how nice and free he was until that possible induction date.

She was amazing and took immediate pity on me.  Since I was past my due date, the baby's head was down and engaged, and I was then dilated to a four, she said it was safe and offered to break my water and commit to having a baby that day.  I gratefully accepted, and we went ahead and did it.  I will always be grateful for a physician who understands our crazy life and how precious his few days off were to us.  And as much as I had hoped to go into labor all on my own, I realized with this third baby that my body just doesn't do that.  I have had to have pitocin-induced labors with all of my kids because of long, stalled labors.  My body was ready, but I needed some help and was happy to accept it.  (9:30 a.m.)

I called Spiff and we met at home.  My mother-in-law took over the boys (so thankful for her!) as Spiff and I gathered our things and headed to the hospital.  Once at the hospital (11:00 a.m.), we were immediately checked in and placed in an L&D room when we told them that my water had broken.  From there, it took them several hours to determine whether or not it actually was broken (there were some tests run to check for leaking amniotic fluid) and debates as to whether or not to start me on pitocin, since I wasn't really having contractions.

Time passed, and eventually my contractions started on their own.  The staff eventually decided to start pitocin to get the contractions coming faster and closer together (3:00 p.m.).  Then we waited.  Spiff and I sat in our little room, hanging out together, watching movies.  It almost felt like a vacation since we didn't have our boys with us.  It was really nice and felt special to me to be alone together as we waited to welcome this new baby into our family.  I will say again how grateful I am to Spiff's mom for watching the boys so we could focus on the baby and know the boys were well taken care of.

My contractions started coming harder and faster, and I asked for my epidural (5:00 p.m.).  I love me a good epidural.  That thing was amazing.  It was extra nice that my anesthesiologist husband was there to talk me through the whole thing.  I'm so glad I got it so that I could relax and rest, while still feeling enough to feel pressure during contractions.

7:00 p.m. rolled around.  Shift change for the nurses.  My nurse, who had been with me all day long, was getting ready to head home.  She brought her replacement in to give her my information.  I knew it was a busy time and that everyone was distracted, BUT I had started to feel a lot of pressure.  Trying not to make a big deal of it, I told Spiff.  Then I told the nurses because it started to feel like a big deal.  My nurse paused her hand-off summary in order to check me and said, "Oh, you're ready to go!"  Then she decided to stay late from her shift to help me have my baby.  What an awesome lady!

Labor is funny for me because there is so much waiting around and quiet undisturbed hours, and then when it's Go Time, it's like a whirlwind.  All the sudden, the room is filled with people and I am surrounded by people manipulating my body and coaching me through the delivery.  Spiff was on one side of me, the nurse on the other, and my doctor and some other people were there to deliver the baby.  By 7:10 I was pushing.  Five contractions later, our little Lady was born at 7:22.

It was the smoothest, easiest labor and delivery I have had.  I didn't tear and had no stitches, which made a world of difference in my recovery.  Our baby girl was tiny and perfect.  She immediately wanted to suck and suck on her hands, and we noticed that she snorts when she cries.  The nurse stamped her tiny footprints onto Spiff's arm.  I loved watching Spiff hold our little daughter.  I'm not sure I have ever seen him look so happy.

We were both pretty immediately enamored with this little sweetie.  We're happy she's healthy, relieved that she made it safely into the world, and grateful that she's a part of our family.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Just Keep Swimming

So, it turns out that we got back home to Minnesota just in time for the beautiful part of Spring.  From what I hear, while we were enjoying the pool and the beach in Florida, our Minnesotan friends were cursing their lives dealing with a wet, rainy, muddy and cold Spring.  We missed all of that!  Couldn't have had better timing.  We pulled up to our house to a neighborhood full of lush green lawns and blossom trees blooming.  It's really beautiful here this time of the year.

And warm.  I sort of expected us to have to put jackets and long pants back on, after being in shorts and t-shirts for two months.  But we didn't.  We had a seamless weather transition.  It has even been warm enough for the kids to play in the sprinkler.  They also begged to play on the slip n' slide.  Both were fun afternoon activities, but I have to admit...

They ain't no pool.

I think the pool was my very favorite part of living in FL.  We took the kids swimming as often as we could, and I really enjoyed our afternoon, pre-dinner swims.  Spiff's schedule was such that he could often join us in the afternoons, which was made even more awesome when he decided to teach the kids how to swim.  In the five weeks we were able to work on it, Gunner went from not being able to put his face in the water to being able to swim an entire length of the little pool and back.  He can do flips, back floats, underwater tea parties, and dive down to pick something up from the bottom of the pool.

Hobbes figured out how to kick around and propel himself around the pool while wearing his life jacket.  He figured out that the most fun game int he world is to jump in the pool over and over and over again.  He also figured out how to blow bubbles and kick around the pool after Daddy with his face in the water.  He was the world's cutest little fish.

It was so very cool to watch their progress.  It's super neat to watch my kids learn new skills. 

One thing I that impressed me the most as I watched them learn and play is that they were really loving it.  Being at the pool meant happiness and joy.  Swimming with friends was even better.  I watched them kick, splash, move and play, and I saw how much fun they were having.  I also remembered that I never experienced that as a child. 

I never learned how to swim as a kid.  I grew up in rural Idaho where pools are not plentiful.  I am the fourth child.  I remember taking lessons as a young child (probably three years old) with my older siblings, but I think swimming just wasn't a priority and was forgotten.  I remember going going to pool parties as I grew up, watching my friends play while I hung on to the edge of the pool, wondering why everyone thought it was so much fun.  What was all the fuss about?!

Not that I didn't have fun in the water.  I also grew up waterskiing.  Yes, I waterskiied as a kid, not knowing how to swim.  It never occured to me that there was something wrong with that.  Spiff, the former life guard, is actually appalled by this.  But I wore a floaty wet suit and a life jacket, and felt completely safe.

Since marrying Spiff, he has taught me some things, and I can now say that I can swim a freestyle lap.  Of a short pool.  I can also say that I would be comfortable taking a class and improving my skills.  I have always been too scared before.

But as I watched my kids enjoy the water, I realized what the fuss is all about.  I realized that swimming can be fun for kids!  That I was all wrong about it as a kid!  I am happy that we were able to experience that fun with them.  Gunner's very most favorite thing was to hang out underwater.  It's a whole new world down there.

Our next goal is to sign the kids up for swimming lessons.  I don't want them to lose the skills they learned down there.  Gotta just keep them swimming!

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Ready or Not

We're home now.  All of us are home now.  The boys, Spiff's mom and I drove home and arrived a week and half ago.  Spiff flew home on Wednesday.  I feel a giant weight lifted off my shoulders knowing that we made it, that my big plan worked out, and that we can have this baby at home with the appropriate family members present.  I feel like we witnessed a miracle.

So now, let's have a baby!!!

But wait...

I'm not ready!

I am feeling pretty good physically, and I actually think that with everything that has been going on (the whole "living in another state for two months directly previous to giving birth") that I haven't had time to emotionally prepare for the baby.  I'm due in three days, but I feel like I would be totally okay if she were two weeks late.  I remember feeling so DONE being pregnant with my other two by the time this stage rolled around.  Not so this time.  I think I'm just so not looking forward to labor, delivery, post-partum and newborn-no-sleep that I would be okay if she were to take her sweet time.

I never thought I'd say that.  I really do not enjoy being pregnant.

I have spent the last week and a half at home getting my house ready for the baby, and I think I'm finally there.  We were busy little bees yesterday cleaning the house and cars, moving boxes of baby clothes and diapers, cutting boys' hair, etc.  The house is ready. 

My freezer is overstocked with tons of food (my personal form of Nesting).  The kitchen is ready. 

The boys have been enjoying the presence of their grandmother.  She has been awesome at reading them tons and tons of books and giving them attention while I have been busy cleaning out closets.  I think they're ready, although they probably have no real clue what's about to hit them.

It's just me, then.  I need to get ready.  Last night, I had my normal late-pregnancy dream where the baby sticks her hand out of the side of my belly (underneath the skin), in a way that we can clearly see all of her little fingers, so that we can hold her hand.  I have had this dream with all of my babies.  Maybe it's my weird little way of bonding with my fetus.  It was definitely a sweet little hand.  So, thank you, weird dream.  I guess that means I'm ready, too.

Let's do this.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Two Months in Florida

We have been in Florida for the past five weeks.  Spiff's work has put us up in a furnished apartment and has given him a rental car for while we're here.  Spiff has been busy at work doing pediatric anesthesia, which is "not his favorite", but is something that he is rapidly becoming more comfortable with due to the fact that this private hospital he's working at has fast surgeons, and he does 12 or so cases per day.  This is compared to the 2/day he would do at home.  His schedule hasn't been bad.  He's usually done by 5 p.m., and not a ton of Call.  That being said, it has been super convenient for us that our good friends are also here for a rotation at the same time (lucky coincidence) so that we can entertain the kids together. 

The kids can't really figure out what we're doing here.  We traveled for four days (took our time driving, seeing friends, sightseeing) on our way here, arrived at our apartment, set up house, and then Spiff started work bright and early the very next morning.  For the next five days, we had this conversation several times:
One of the kids: Where's Dad?
Me:  He's at work.
Kids:  Why?!?!

It feels like a vacation, but it's part normal life, but it's not normal at all.  Spiff is working, we are at this apartment that feels like a hotel (we sometimes call it our "Hotel House"), and the kids and I have to go about our business.  Gunner exclaimed after a few weeks, "This is the longest vacation I have ever been on!"

Both kids have asked me if we're ever going back to our old house.  Five weeks must feel like forever to them.

We figured out that Hobbes doesn't really understand the idea of Florida as a state.  After countless times of him asking if we were "going back to Florida" on our way home from an outing, we asked him what Florida is.  He responded, "Florida is a place with walls, and a ceiling, and beds, and a place for warm-up baths.  And we can't jump or yell.  Those are the rules of Florida."  Pretty much, he thinks that FL is our little apartment.

But regardless of the displacement, and the fact that I was not meant to live in Florida (the humidity hates my hair, and the sun hates my white white skin!), we have been having so much fun here.  There is so much to do, compared to our small Midwest town.  We love having access to the apartment's outdoor pool and the beach so close by.  We have played at some fun parks, taken the kids on bike rides, spent time with good friends who we know from other phases of our lives who just happen to live here.  We took a day trip to see an old Spanish Fort that was built in 1740.  We took a Ferry across the river to the fort, and were lucky enough to see dolphins swimming up the river, about 5 ft from the shore!  So neat!   We also drove to Ft. Lauderdale to take the kids through the new Temple Open House, a real highlight of our time here.

The time is going quickly, and we need to pack in as much pool and beach time as we can before we head back home in a couple weeks.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Boys and This Pregnancy

My boys seem to be excited about this baby.  Here are a few of their reactions as they have experienced this pregnancy with us:

When we first told them about the baby, Gunner tilted his head and said, "Are you kidding me?!"  Very skeptical, he was.

A few times earlier on in the pregnancy, I wasn't feeling well and had to sit down.  Spiff explained to the boys that I wasn't feeling well because of the baby hurting my tummy.  We had this conversation:
Gunner asked: "Is the baby biting you, Mommy?"
Me: "No, the baby doesn't have any teeth."
Gunner: "Is the baby gumming you?"
Hobbes: "Does the baby have gum?!?!"

Spiff introduced the baby the boys as "Juniper Jellybean".  The name has stuck, and they often refer to her as "Juniper" or "Jellybean" or "Junior Jellybean". 

Gunner decided at one point that he was going to be in charge of naming her.  He picked the name, "Rose Zea" and adamantly insisted that it was her name.  I didn't have the heart to tell him that the name sounds too much like the disease Roseola, so we tried to just let that one peter out.

More recently, as I have gotten bigger, I have realized that Hobbes thinks the baby is going to come out of my belly button.  He often asks to "let the baby out".  He lifts my shirt up and "scoops" the baby up from my belly button, pretending to hold a cute tiny baby.  When he's done, he puts her back.

They are very sweet, and they seem excited to meet their sister.  Gunner tells me that he will help me out and hold her when I need him to.  He also knows that I don't feel well often, and he tells me, "It's okay, Mom.  You can have a nap whenever you want."  It's super sweet of him, but he knows that he gets to watch TV when I'm napping.  I guess it's a win/win situation for us.

I really do think they are going to love love love this baby, though.  My best prediction is that she's going to be smothered by both of her big brothers.

On Being Pregnant

I realize that I haven't said a whole lot about my pregnancies.  I am pretty private about the whole thing.  I have a tendency to hide it as long as possible.  Here I am, almost 35 weeks into my third and last pregnancy, and I haven't said anything about it on this here blog.  I didn't really announce it on Facebook (like I apparently should have), and I have had a few friends pm me asking, "Um...are you pregnant?!?!", which I'm sure must be awkward for them.  Anyway, I thought I'd write a few things about me and being pregnant, just for memory sake.  (This is super long-winded.  I'm not at all offended if no one reads this.)

First of all, I have found this phenomenon throughout this pregnancy that I think is strange.  When people find out you're pregnant, you kind of cease to be a person and become something fragile and breakable in the eyes of others.  Instead of asking how I'm doing, or what we have been up to lately, people look at me with sympathy in their eyes, tilt their heads and ask, "How are you Feeeeeeling?'

That is always a hard questions for me to answer.  For pregnant women, I think I have it pretty easy.  I don't spend months on end throwing up in the toilet.  I'm not nauseous the entire nine months.  But I never feel well.  My early months consist of nausea and horrible stomach issues/pain.  The rest of the pregnancy is spent with crippling fatigue.  I never feel great about gaining all the weight and not being able to exercise.  If I'm pregnant in warm weather, I swell and swell.  Currently, my feet are so swollen that the tops of them jiggle when I walk.  It is so unpleasant.  But, at least I'm not in the hospital getting fluids because I'm not puking.

So "How am I feeeeeeling?"  I'm fine.  Thanks for asking!

It does make me wonder how I talk to my pregnant friends.  I'm sure I do the same thing, but maybe I wish I wouldn't.

Second, I find it interesting that with each of my babies, I have had different things that seem sort of unbearable.  With Gunner, I was so very swollen.  With Hobbes, I had braxton hicks contractions from 20 weeks on, and I had horrible round ligament pain.  This time, my belly hurt earlier on so that I had to stop running, but I haven't had BH contractions, and I didn't swell until just a few days ago.  However, as the baby has gotten larger, her kicks are so painful!  I don't know if it is that I am older, or more stretched out or what, but it seriously hurts when she moves around in there.

So, pregnancy for me is sort of horrible, but I think it's this way for most women.  Although I did talk to a friend recently who had just had her second baby.  I told her how great I thought she looked, and she looked at me and said, "Oh, you are making me wish I were still pregnant!  I miss it already!"  I'm fairly certain that I looked right back at her like she was crazy.  Only crazy people actually Like being pregnant!  Either that, or she is part of a very special group who doesn't mind it, and who is able to find joy in the experience.

Third, I have a hard time not being able to keep up with people.  I don't realize how slow I am until I my boys are playing, and I can't run after them.  Or when Spiff and I went to the temple recently.  We were running late, and Spiff offered to drop me off at the door while he parked the car.  It sounds like a thoughtful gesture, but he then said, "This way you can go on in without your pregnancy slowing us down."  Sigh.

Lastly, we are spending the the last two months of the pregnancy in Florida for Spiff's away rotation (pediatric anesthesia).  We are having a good time, but my due date is looming.  I have made plans to drive back home with the boys early (And so so so grateful for Spiff's mom who is flying out to help me as we do that.  Bless you, CFG!!!) so I can be hopefully be home before I have the baby.  The plan is to be home about two weeks before my due date of June 4.  Spiff is flying home a week later after he finishes work.  While he is gone, I will have his mom there to take care of my kids, and I have lined up a friend to be a back-up labor coach if I go into labor, but of course I am hoping that Spiff makes it home before we have the baby.  I keep hearing stories of friends who had their babies two or three weeks early, and I have to try really hard not to stress about a situation that I cannot control.

But with all of this, I have to say that I am very grateful.  All three of these pregnancies have been perfectly healthy, normal and without issues.  They are the perfect examples of standard healthy pregnancies.  My babies have been healthy and completely full-term (born at 40 weeks), and I'm hoping for the best with this little one, too.  Her kicks hurt me, but at least I know she's kicking.

In a few short weeks, we'll have our little girl.  We'll have another newborn in the house, add another sibling into the mix of kids, and experience having a GIRL, which are all entirely other issues that I'm terrified about.

Wish us luck!  We will need it over the next few weeks.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Winter We've Endured

I grew up in Idaho, and I am no stranger to cold, snowy Winters.  As a child, I remember riding in the car down roads that were basically tunnels of plowed snow.  My family lived out in the country across the street from large fields, and my dad was constantly out digging us out of our snowed-in state with his massive snow blower.  We rode the bus to school in all sorts of cold and blizzardy weather.  I lived for those rare days when my mom would share the good news of a Snow Day.

The Winters there have been much milder in the past years.  I have since lived in much more mild areas of the country.  Even after moving to MN, our first Winter here wasn't all that bad.

This one, though.  This one has tested my strength.  My fortitude.  My will to live.

I have struggled to get through it.  Apparently Pregnant Mindy + Extremely Cold Winter = Crazy!!!  For me, this winter sadly did come to This.  (Good for a laugh, take a moment to watch the video.)  "Plus One" seemed to be a thing to live for.

The only solace I have had was talking to native Minnesotans who, having lived here forever, all said it was the hardest Winter they have experienced in a long time, if ever.  So, for the record, let's remember together a few fun facts about the coldest Winter this area has had for 30 years.  I'm not doing this to complain.  It is really a record year, and certainly the most difficult Winter I remember living through, so I think it deserves some attention.

We lived through the Polar Vortex, versions One and Two.  The local schools closed several times because of dangerously cold temperatures, as low the -20s, and windchills hitting -45.  The hardest part about all of this for me was it being too cold for my kids to play outside.

We have reached a Winter Misery Index of 200 points, which puts us at "Severe Winter" status, and the 10th most severe winter on record.

The end of February put us at having 45 days of sub-zero temperatures.

And as of March 20, we have had 135 days below freezing.

February 11 brought news of a city-wide frozen pipe issue.  It had been so cold for so long that the frost had reached the city's pipes, which are buried 6 ft. under ground.  The part that stuck out to me was that in a normal year, the utility company would deal with about 3 cases of frozen pipes.  On that date this year, there were 70.  In the next few days, we would hear of more and more.  On my street alone, the four houses on the end of the culdesac lost water due to frozen pipes.  One neighbor was out of water for two weeks.  A family in our ward lives outside city limits and has a well.  They lost water a month ago and just have to wait until things thaw out in the Spring to get it back because no one has a pipe long enough to reach the frozen blockage at the end of their pipe.  We have been running water constantly to try to prevent ours from freezing up, and it have to say that it goes against everything my little Idaho Desert Water-Conservationist self believes.  But I don't want to lose my water.

We had a blizzard on Feb. 20 that resulted in a total of about 10 inches of snow.  The two days before the blizzard were 45 degrees.  They were the first days above freezing we had had in months.  Then the blizzard came through and left this for us:
 It then dipped right back down into below-freezing temperatures.  See the pretty snow-covered trees?  That snow stayed on the trees for Weeks!!!

A side effect of that storm was bad roads.  The snow got packed down on the roads, then it froze, and we were left with a 1-2 inch layer of ice on the roads that couldn't be plowed and didn't melt away for weeks because it was so cold.  The ice became patchy, and driving around the city was like driving down long roads just filled with pot holes!  I have never experienced anything like it. The kids didn't like it.  They said that the roads were "too bumpy."

Another thing about the winter is that we had PILES of snow!  It didn't snow all that much, but when it did, none of it ever melted.  The day after the blizzard, our snow piles looked like this:

We got a few more inches of snow a week or so later, and I created these piles:
(Notice how we almost buried the light post?!  I sooo wanted to.)

This past month has brought warmer temperatures.  I have watched as the locals here have shed their coats and clothing as temps reached the 20s.  (I did see a girl in a tank top.)  My own kids played on the deck in short sleeves and bare feet, at 32 degrees, flinging snow off the deck with garden trowels, exclaiming to me, "Mom, it's like Summer out here!"

So here we are, March 23.   I see and hear evidence of friends from around the country enjoying the beginnings of Spring.  Crocuses blooming, family bike rides, hikes, all sorts of outdoorsiness and signs of better weather.  Then I look at our forecast, and lows of 4 degrees, and I want to die a little.  Our current temperature is 19 degrees.  It's supposed to snow tomorrow.  It has been the toughest Winter in 30 years, and there still isn't any real signs of Spring.  I guess I should just count myself lucky that we are leaving for a two-month rotation in FL on Thursday.  I'll be happy to escape into warmth and sun.  I will also be patting myself on the back all the way there for having survived this tough season.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hobbes, Music, Food and Beds

I seriously cannot believe how fast Hobbes is growing.  He has thinned and stretch out like a string bean.  Besides the fact that he really doesn't like food, and it is a constant struggle to get him to eat real things, he is still the happiest, silliest, sweetest little kid, and I just adore him!

Here are some stories:

I have mentioned that I'm giving Gunner piano lessons.  Well, Hobbes has been taking them right alongside him.  He sits through every lesson and practice we do.  He doesn't always want to participate, but he pays attention.  He listens to the Lesson CD while we drive around in the car, and he knows all of the songs!  He sings them constantly!  (Well, his own jumbled versions of them, anyway.)  I have caught him sitting down to the piano with Gunner's books and "practicing" all on his own.  I am absolutely amazed at how much he is picking up all on his own!

Besides the piano lesson music, he otherwise sings constantly.  He hums or sings his own special versions of Christmas songs ("Away in a manger, no crying, no please."), themes from the HMS Pinafore, G's piano lessons, primary songs he learns in nursery, and themes from "Planes" and Angry Birds.  Always always always singing.  I love it.

I let the kids get cookies from the bakery at the grocery store the other day.  After taking a couple bites, Gunner dropped his cookie on the floor.  He was soooo very upset about losing his cookie, and in order to avoid such sadness, I was contemplating going back to the bakery to ask for another one.  Hobbes, saw Gunner's sad face and piped up with, "Here, Gunner.  You can have my cookie."  And he handed over his own cookie.  I still can't believe that he can possibly be that sweet.

I have reminded him of that story, and he says, "Mom, am I the sweetest boo-ey?"
He melts my heart.

Hobbes really doesn't like food.  He will eat when he wants to, and I think he's getting better about it in general.  But if he doesn't think something looks good, then he can't even have it touching his plate.  We have had some battles about it lately, most of which end in him showing us how much stronger his will is than ours.  He would rather go to bed hungry than eat what we are asking him to eat.

That's exactly what happened the other day.  He wouldn't eat his food and eventually dumped his plate on the floor.  That bought him an immediate bedtime.  I took him downstairs, quickly got him ready for bed, and tucked him into his crib.  I left the room, and we continued to eat dinner and listened to him cry himself to sleep.

An hour later, I got Gunner ready for bed.  As I went into the boys' room to tuck him in, I found Hobbes's crib…empty!!!  That was a shocker, as I wondered where in the world was my kid?!

He had dumped out his pillow and blankies, climbed out…and crawled into Gunner's bed, where we found him fast asleep.

He sure showed us!!!

We put the kids to bed fairly late the other night.  They were both pretty wired after spending an evening playing with friends.  We tucked them in and went upstairs.  A couple minutes later, I heard footsteps on the stairs and thought, "Ugh, Gunner!!!  Why is he up?!?!"

But Gunner didn't come talk to us.  I didn't hear anything for a couple of minutes and figured that he must have changed his mind and sneaked back to bed.

I heard another noise upstairs and got another shock when I saw Hobbes, quietly playing with some toys on the dining room floor!  Spiff tucked him back into his crib, and afterward reported that Hobbes had strategically dumped his blankets on the floor under his crib, to pad a potential fall.  Smart kid.

After those two stories, I decided that it was time to convert his crib to a toddler bed.  I took the side off a couple days ago.  I'm always hesitant to do this, and I wait as long as possible to transition my kids so that I can ward off bedtime battles.  But he seemed ready, and he seems to be doing okay so far.

He runs around the house in his swimming suit so that he can "be the Fastest Racer in Dee World!"
He loves playing with legos, and most recently called the Pilot Lego Guy a "Pilot Manner."
He also played Winter Olympic Lego guys and played with a "Ski Manner."
He prays to "Huvingah Fadder."

And now a couple of quotes:

After a mealtime battle where he refused to eat his lunch (of yogurt and ramen noodles!), he saw the leftovers sitting on the counter and said, "I already did not eat that yet.

While impatiently asking me for something:
Me: Sit down and hold your horses!
H: I don't have any more horses.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Gunner, Birds and Other Things

I was looking at pictures of my kids from the last couple of Summers.  I'm shocked at how much they change in so little time.  Just last Summer, Gunner looked so much younger, and Hobbes was still covered in chubby baby fat.  Six months later, they are both taller, thinner, doing amazing things, and continuing to keep my laughing with all the silly things they do and say.

I'll start with Gunner.

He really loves birds these days.  Like…Really loves them.  I think it all started months ago when he watched the movie, Rio, and fell in love with Jewel, the pretty Blue Macaw.  He loved that movie.  He would smile all the way through it, and then, unfortunately, completely break down and cry when it was over.  Every single time.  He said he was sad that the birds were captured.  I'm not sure he wasn't just sad because the movie was over and he couldn't see Jewel anymore, but he would get really sad and grumpy.  Sometimes we couldn't get him to snap out of his funk for two hours!  It was ridiculous, and I eventually had to stop letting him watch it.

However, even though he wasn't allowed to watch the movie anymore, he continued his little love affair with that bird by making up an imagination game which he calls his "Rio Game."  Not long after he made it up, we had this little conversation about his game:
Me: How do you play your Rio game?
G: You just sit there.
Me: And what else?
G: Um, you just think about it.

And then this one:
While I was responding to a mid-night call from Hobbes, I found G awake and whispering to himself in the dark.
Me: G, are you awake? (5:30 a.m)
G: I'm playing my Rio game.  It's kind of an awake game.

And this statement from him:
"I didn't get much sleep last night.  I played my Rio game all night long."

Soooo, he sits and thinks the game out in his head.  He has since told me that his game has different levels, kind of like the levels of a video game like Angry Birds.  He has added all sorts of other characters into the game, including the birds from Peep and the Big Wide World (another new favorite show), and some of the people in his life.

Anyway, the point of all this is that he has become infatuated with birds.  He wants to be a "Birder" like his great great grandparents.  He wants binoculars so that he can look for birds.  He talked to a lady at church about the bird charm necklace she was wearing and her favorite bird, the Black Cap Chickadee, and then he spent the next five days cheering for joy whenever he spotted his own "Black Cat Chickadee."

It's a little crazy to me.  I think birds are fine, but I have never thought of them as something to obsess over.  And really, I think it's all because he has a crush on a pretty cartoon bird.  But it's real to him, and he's pretty serious about it.

So much so that when we were with our good friend the other day, and she told him, "Gunner, I love you," he replied, "Well…I like birds."

That's brutal child honesty for you.

Here are a few more quotes that made me laugh recently:

At Christmas Time, we listened to an old favorite version of The Twelve Days of Christmas, and he insisted that the words went like this: "And a partih.  Genepair Tree."  Doesn't matter that those are not real words, I can't convince him that it goes any other way.

While listening to a recording of the HMS Pinafore, I have mentioned that I like the soprano's voice.  He asks me constantly why I like her voice so much.  At one point, he said, "Mom, is she your wishing voice?" Meaning: Do you wish your voice sounded like hers?  (I do, actually.)

Listening to Andrea Bocelli sing "Time to Say Goodbye":
"Whoever those Italians are, they sure have a nice voice."

During a playtime with a group of kids, Gunner got frustrated with some injustices of the playground.  Spiff was talking to him and trying to help him calm down.
Gunner said, "This speak up is getting us nowhere!"

Driving home looking at the pretty city lights:
"Wow!  There are trillions of them!  Brazilians of them!!!"

Friday, March 14, 2014

When Christmas Comes Early

My parents sent me a "Care Package" in February.  They were all secretive about it: "We're sending you a package.  Make sure you're home to sign for it when it's delivered." Etc.

The boys and I hung around the house one day waiting and waiting until two large boxes arrived.

 This is what was inside:

That is a new-in-the-box 1984 Model Bosch Mixer!!!

You read that right.  1984.
They found it on Ebay.  A purchase from an estate sale.
The owner of the estate had kept it in the box for 30 years!!!

I'm so beyond thrilled.  It is the same model my mom purchased new in 1984.  The same model that has seen her through thirty years of baking, and still runs as good as new.

Who keeps an unused Bosch mixer in a box for 30 years?!  
I don't know, but I'm glad it's mine now.

Thanks, Mom & Dad!  You are the best!!!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

My Christmas Miracle

Alright, obviously this post is long overdue.  I meant to write it before Christmas and just never got around to it.  But I think it's a good story and still worth sharing.  I think my new motto for the year is going to be "Better Late than Never."

Now on to my miracle, for I firmly believe that that's what it was.  My church choir continues to be a bit of a struggle for me.  I have mentioned before that I'm lucky that I have people who come.  I have great support, although even that is waning now that we have church at nine, and I'm holding Sunday rehearsals at 8 a.m., rather than noon.  I don't blame people.  Who really wants to get up and sing at eight in the morning?! 

My biggest problem recently has been with my accompanists.  I have two people called to share the choir accompanist job.  One is a young mom, a wife of an anesthesia fellow.  She is very capable, but she just hasn't been around.  They have been traveling, she had has surgery, and many other things to get in the way of her helping out with the choir.  She was out of town during our Christmas performance.

The other girl is a high school senior.  She is very nice, but the kind of teenager I don't know how to relate to.  She's very quiet, and I think easily offended.  I think I hurt her feelings at the get-go when I had a co-accompanist called to help her out.  I always feel like I need to walk on eggshells when I'm talking to her, and I just can't seem to get over being uncomfortable around her.  But she's nice, and when she knows the music, she does a decent job accompanying.  She and her mom have even expressed gratitude for the opportunity to learn more about accompanying.

The problem is that she is a high school senior, and an incredibly busy one.  During the month of December, she was so busy that she didn't have time to learn the music to accompany the choir.  But she didn't tell me that she was too busy to practice, so I didn't know that I needed to find someone else to play.  I just continued to run rehearsals from the piano (like normal) and hoped that she would catch up one day.

It all kind of came to a head about two weeks before our performance Sunday.  I had a song that involved another teenage violinist playing along with the choir.  The violinist had been working hard to learn her part, the choir knew their parts pretty well, and we were ready to put it all together for the first time.  My teenage pianist said that she was ready to play, and I hopped up in front of the choir to lead.

It completely train-wrecked!

The pianist didn't know her part, and it derailed everyone else.  The choir and violinist went from being able to sing the song decently to panicking. 

After the rehearsal ended, I asked the violinist if she would be willing to come over to my house during the week to rehearse the song with me.  She jumped on board, seemingly grateful for an opportunity to rehearse.

I asked the accompanist if she could join us.  She flat out said, "No.  I don't have time this week."  She went on to say that she would be ready to play it the next week. I was disappointed, but gave her the benefit of the doubt that she would learn the song.

The next week came, and it turned out that she had been sick all week and couldn't practice, but she promised to know it by the next week (which was performance day).  I pinch-hit during the rehearsal and found someone to sight-read the song.  After the rehearsal that day, I met with my last-minute accompanist friend, and suggested a few changes to help out the choir, including adding bells and the organ to the accompaniment.  They were great suggestions, but it just wouldn't be a possibility for this teenage accompanist to show up at the last minute and have her rehearse with all of that (choir, violin, organ, bells).  So, I had to make an awkward phone call and tell her that she didn't need to worry about practicing the song.

But in the end, the miracle happened.  The choir numbers came together.  People stepped up and sang.  I think I had over 30 singers that day.  I had someone to help me accompany, or lead the choir so that I could accompany.  And the choir sounded good!  It really did.  I was so grateful for a Christmas miracle that brought the Spirit into our Christmas meeting through good music.

The whole experience was a lesson to me in problem solving, being flexible, communication, and mostly of being faithful.  I prayed for help, and the Lord helped, not only me to feel good about it, but the choir members to feel that they had accomplished something great.

And also, I have to mention that through all of this, Gunner was paying attention.  He sat through some of our rehearsals.  He knows what we struggle with, albeit peripherally.  We were driving around town one day during December listening to an old family favorite Christmas album.  An energetic choir number came on, and we had this little conversation:
Gunner:  Mom, is this a choir singing?
Me:  Yes, it is.
Gunner:  Whoa.  They are WAY better than your choir, Mom.

I think I busted a gut laughing.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


I keep wondering whether or not to keep this blog up and running.  I have been lacking motivation to sit down and write, even though I keep myself on the lookout for stories to relay.  I constantly compose in my head, and occasionally I will write notes to myself to help remind me what I have come up with.  But I rarely sit down and do it, and I wonder if I should just be done.

Then I have experiences like this one today, and I realize that I need this space.  I need to write for my own darn good, so that I can hopefully find some clarity by spewing forth words, out of my mind and onto the screen.  Hopefully I can make sense of things and approach a situation with more patience and inspiration than I would otherwise have, had those words remained jumbled inside my head.

So bear with me.  This post is long.  This post is for me.  For clarity.  Because I have been utterly schooled.

I have been teaching Gunner how to read.  I use a book that was recommended by several friends called "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons", or something like that.  We have been doing it off and on for about six months, but recently more often.  He has picked up on the routine of it, and he's actually doing really well.  I have made a goal to give him a lesson five mornings a week, and we have actually been doing it.  Takes about 20 minutes or less.

Then, since he has been doing so well at his little reading lessons, I decided that it was time to start him on piano lessons.  This was a harder decision for me, and something I have been debating about  since the beginning of the school year.  I originally thought that since I wasn't putting him in preschool, and since he has been asking to learn how to play the piano, that I would start him with a method book series for really young kids.  It comes with little characters, which I knew he would love, and it progresses super super slowly.

But then I had second thoughts because he is only five.  After teaching beginning piano students for years, my experience is that young students (age 3-5) love piano lessons, but they don't learn it quickly enough to make it worth it.  Starting a typical child at the age of 7 or 8 is perfect.  They can already read, they have more strength and coordination, and they learn quickly.  In fact, a new motivated 7-yr-old student can catch up to another 7-year-old student who has been taking lessons for years, in a relatively short amount of time.

I also promised myself that I would never teach my own children how to play the piano.  I think paying a professional is a worthwhile investment.  I also think it is good for the child to have the experience of actually "going" to piano lessons, where they sit in someone else's studio and listen to someone else telling them what to do.

Because of all that, I didn't start him in the Fall.  He has continued to ask me for piano lessons.  Then this week, I ran across a set of lesson books, written specifically for 5 and 6-year-olds, that I knew he would just love!  I have never gotten the chance to use them because they came out about the same time that we moved for Spiff's medical school and I stopped teaching.  They're written by my favorite Piano Method authors (The Fabers of Piano Adventures), and I'm actually really excited about them.  I ordered them right away, got them in the mail yesterday, and we started this morning.  Gunner had his first little piano lesson, and it was great.  He listened, followed instructions, asked to do fun songs again, and is looking forward to practicing with me tomorrow. 

Okay, all of that to get to this whole "experience" from today.  A friend invited us over to play with them in the snow this morning.  As I was driving across town, I was thinking about the successful morning of lessons we had had earlier, with both reading and piano.  I thought about how proud I am of his progress and his excitement to learn.  I also thought something that I have doubted my whole life...the fact that I have things to offer my children.  I am a piano teacher.  I can teach my child how to learn this skill, at least for now.  We can start making music together in our home.  I also thought about how we have gotten Gunner registered for Kindergarten for this coming Fall, and that he seems to have come so far in his maturity and development in the last six months that I actually feel like he'll be ready to start school in eight months.

These thoughts rolled through my head, and I felt proud.  Proud of him, proud of me, proud of us for progressing and learning things together.  I felt proud of my momming skills.

So, we got to our friend's house, played in the snow a bit, then made our way inside.  The kids were playing with a set of toys, and I observed my two children both having a difficult time sharing with one another.  I heard a whole lot of not nice words: "Hey, I was using that!!!?"  "Heyyyy, Give that Back!!!"  "That's It!  I give up!"  Etc.

I reminded and reminded them to share and use nice words.  I offered help.  I invited them to sit by me and take small breaks, all without losing my cool.  None of my reminders helped, and they both simply exploded at each other.  I was forced to put them both on a time out.  I thought if I could just get them to take a breath and a small break, we would be able to work it out and get back to playing.

Neither of them would sit down on their time out spots.  Not one of them.  Hobbes just jumped up and ran back to the table of toys.  Gunner refused to sit down and proceeded to yell and yell at me.  It progressed to the point that I had to give up and cart them both off over my shoulder to the car and take them home, to where Hobbes is now playing happily by himself and Gunner is napping in his bed.

It was the first time I have dealt with bad public behavior from both of them at the same time.  It has happened before with Gunner (a long time ago) when I have had to drag him out of a friend's house kicking and screaming, and it wasn't fun then.  This was a double attack of really naughty.  I was so angry, and embarrassed, and sad, and at a complete loss for a good solution.  Obviously they both lose privileges today (no TV, no friends, no desserts, etc.).  But how come it happened in the first place?  How do I even talk to them about it and resolve things?  What are good consequences for that kind of behavior?  What consequences will teach them what they need to know for future experiences?


Really, the lesson I learned here is that I should never ever ever get smug about my parenting skills.  My children will always be five steps ahead of me.  Sure, I have things to offer them, but it absolutely confirms to me that I have no idea what I'm doing.

Friday, January 17, 2014

My List of Hymns I'd Rather Not Ever Hear Again

We had a funny experience in sacrament meeting this last Sunday.  The closing hymn was an altogether unfamiliar song (#132 God is in His Holy Temple).  I hadn't heard it before.  The melody is of those that sort of meanders around without a purpose so that it is difficult to pick up. I am a decent sightreader, and even I had a hard time with the melody.

Hobbes was sitting on my lap during the song.  After a while, he seemingly got tired of the hymn and turned the page.  Since I wasn't enjoying the song anyway, I decided to just go with it...and give up.  I stopped singing and looked around the room.  Every single person had their noses buried in their hymn books, brows furrowed, trying their hardest to pick out that melody.  No one was really singing.

After the meeting, the chorister (who chose the hymn in the first place) approached me.  She relayed the same story from the stand as I had just witnessed from my pew.  Even with no one singing, the chorister and organist soldiered on, and when it was over, she sat down.  Another particularly musical member of the ward happened to be sitting behind her on the stand and said, "Well, they should just take that one right out of the hymn book!"

I laughed out loud, but completely agreed.  I added it to my mental list of "Hymns I'd Rather Not Ever Hear Again."

I realized that I have been compiling this list for years, but when a friend asked me what songs are on the list, I had a hard time remembering.  So, here is it.  The Top 10 hymns that, in my opinion, should be removed from the current LDS Hymn Book, listed in no particular order:
(With the exception of the first one, the list does not include all of the many songs that I skipped over because I just don't know them.  I think all of those should be removed from the book because no one knows them.)

For good measure, let's start with our example from Sunday.
#132 God is in His Holy Temple--What?!  This one makes no sense.

#134 I Believe in Christ--This is the longest hymn in the hymn book.  It looks like three verses, but it is really six because of the mid-verse written repeat.  It is also always Always sung too slowly.  It is never "fervent" but always durge-like.

#309 As Sisters in Zion--There is really nothing appealing about this condescending melody.  It makes me feel like less of a woman to sing it.

#52  The Day Dawn is Breaking--This one has the most uninteresting chord progression of all hymns, including severely repeating I, IV and V chords only.  Just ask the tenors and basses.

#26  Joseph Smith's First Prayer--I know this is a beloved hymn for many people.  I just don't care for the sticky sweet melody.

#307 In Our Lovely Deseret--Does any one like this song?  I'm actually really curious about that.  Well, I guess the chorus is okay, although I find the words at the end ("happy hearts and cheerful faces meet") to be difficult to spit out quickly enough.

#260  Who's on the Lord's Side?--This one makes me feel like I'm trying to rile up some Primary-aged soldiers with that over-enthusiastic smile on my face that is associated with the way people think they Should talk to children.

#237  Do What Is Right--Seriously, do what is right here and sing the better subject choice, "Choose the Right."

#232  Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words--I believe in the subject matter, heart and soul.  The song is just so...sing-songy.  Shudder.

#177  'Tis Sweet to Sing the Matchless Love--This if the version that comes second in the hymn book.  The first one is lovely.  The second one is not.  This is the song that I'm always excited to sing when I see it in the program, and then seriously disappointed when I realized which version it is.

That's it, in a nut shell.  I'm happy to report that it was easier for me to list off hymns that I love rather than those I dislike.  I do have a deep love for many of the hymns in our book.  Just not these ones.

What's on your list?

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

The Christmas Entitlement Issue

I mentioned in my previous post that our Christmas was spent alone this year.  This was a new experience for me.  We have spent Christmases away from family before, but we have always celebrated with friends.  It didn't work out to do that this year, and I can't pretend that I wasn't bothered by it, especially since both of our families were celebrating together in their respective places.

That being said, we got really lucky with Spiff's schedule.  He worked very little on Christmas Eve, had Christmas Day off, and then volunteered for a personal day on Boxing Day since they didn't have a ton going on at work.  We took advantage of that day, packed up the kids and drove north to see some friends, share leftovers together, and then took everyone tubing, which was super fun!

After it was all said and done, I both liked and disliked it.  I liked that our little celebration was so relaxed.  I wasn't stressed about how messy my house was.  We sort of did whatever we wanted.  We ate when and what we wanted to.  We did cheese fondue for Christmas Eve dinner, and it was a huge hit with the kids.  Gunner loved it!  He especially liked the part whenever he dropped food into the fondue pot and got to run around the table to give me a kiss.

I always prefer to play games late into the night on Christmas Eve, and we never seem to do that when it's just us.  We put the tired kids to bed, set the rest of Christmas up for them, and then pass out.  Our Christmas morning was fun, then kids enjoyed opening presents.  But then, and here's the issue, the rest of the day was madness!  My children were nuts!  This is the very first Christmas Day that I have not had a chance to sit down for even a moment.  The kids didn't have anyone else to play with, so Spiff and I spent the entire day assembling toys that the boys would then play with for five minutes before scattering pieces all over the floor and moving on to the next one.  "Mom!  Will you open this?!  Mom, will you open that?!?!"  Instead of enjoying one new toy, they had to enjoy all of their new things nownownow!  All. Day. Long.

I got so tired of their 5-minute attention spans and the mess they were making that I eventually threw their snow clothes on them and kicked them out of the house!  I was very grateful at that moment for the new snow that fell overnight so they would have something to play with outside.  The whole day was actually very frustrating.  Instead of feeling peaceful and grateful, I ended up feeling irritable and grumpy, and I felt like mine were the world's most spoiled and entitled kids!

It has since settled down.  I have found places to put new toys away, and they have fallen into a routine of sorts and found games to play with all of their things.  It did take a week or so until that happened.  They spent an entire week fighting over new things and making gigantic messes, and I spent an entire week wishing that all the presents were wrapped back up and put back up under the tree.  It was kind of horrible.

So, here's my question:  How do I fix that "After-Present Effect"?

There have got to be ways of lessening the madness that entered my house on Christmas Day.  Less presents given to the kids?  Less of a certain kind of present?  A rigidly-formulaic approach to present-giving?  It's hard to control because we are so fortunate to receive so much love from aunts, grandmas and grandpas, etc.  And I do want my children to have fun and feel special.  I can't see how having more of a focus on giving would be helpful since they are so young.  Really, I can't see a good way of fixing this problem.

But there has got to be a better way.  What do you think?!

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

End of 2013 Recap

It's that time again.  The time when I try again to keep up on the ol' blog.  I seem to let it slide at the end of each year while I'm desperately trying to get through the holidays.  So, I'll recap the last couple of months.  Then I'm going to bombard the blog with posts until I have exhausted my efforts.

In October, my oldest sister got married and told us she is having her first baby.  They got married quickly and quietly, and I didn't make it out for the wedding.

The boys and I did, however, go visit my family for a couple of weeks in November in order to celebrate my mom's 60th birthday with her, a party that was planned much further in advance to the wedding.  The family surprised her with a surprise party at her house.  Surprise!  Everyone in your family is now staying with you for the weekend!  Doesn't that sound like the best present?!  We planned out all of the food, and she did say that she was glad not to have to worry about what to feed everyone.

Our friends came to visit us for Thanksgiving.  We had Thanksgiving dinner at my house, surrounded by the best of friends and delicious food.

December hit with a quick realization that there were only three weeks until Christmas!!!  This year's Christmas preparations were greatly improved over last year's stress by the help of Amazon Prime Shipping.  It was such a life-saver.  I hope my gift recipients didn't mind it because it really was awesome for me.

Spiff and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary both by being super duper sick.  I had some stomach issue, and he had a nasty cold.  We postponed the fancy family dinner I planned to make for him for a couple of days.  Then I tried my hand at preparing filet mignon, and it was delicious.

We spent Christmas alone this year, just our little family, which was both good and bad for me.  I prefer a larger celebration, or at least sharing it with other people.  But on the other hand, it certainly was casual, and we really could do whatever we wanted, which is nice.

We were invited to a friend's house for a Finnish New Year's Eve potluck dinner.  I made this Finnish Pulla Bread, which was delicious.  You should make it, too.  It would make a great breakfast sweet bread.

Now it's January, and we are enjoying the coldest weather to hit the country since 1996.  But so are you!  Let's all bundle up and stay warm together somehow.

Monday, January 06, 2014

The Arctic Vortex vs. My Windows

It's -25 outside today with a -45 windchill.  As we hunker down indoors, my windows are losing the battle between cold outside and warmish inside.