Things I Want to Remember, Round 2

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Here are some things lately that I want to remember about my kids:

* CJ hit the dust pan while walking past it and wailed, "I BROKE my leg!!!"  
* Her favorite animals, currently: snakes, sharks, and kittens.
* Out of nowhere, she has an intense obsession with My Little Pony.  This started before we even saw an episode. 
* CJ told me, "When I am a grown-up, I want to be a grandma.  But I'll still live with you.  Because I love you.  And I want all my toys."

* He is officially "potty trained."  That is in quotation marks because there are still accidents and lots of reminding, but overall he caught on much much faster than his sister.  Mind you, this is our third attempt.  The previous two attempts, I gave up after the first day when it was apparent he wasn't ready.
* All he wants to do is wield objects as swords and chase people with gnashing teeth because, obviously, he is a shark.
* RG has a very vivid imagination.  A few times a day, he suddenly whispers about a monster coming. This has come in handy, like today after swim lessons.  He startled an old women in the locker room with his loud screaming (he was just happy), so I told him, "Oh, do you hear that?  We have to whisper because I hear the monster coming!" (Don't worry, he's not scared of the monster.)

Baby D
* This boy almost has eight teeth!  He can eat anything you put in front of him, and loves to.
* D gives me the biggest hugs and bite/kisses.  They are so fun, but so painful.  He currently hugs me around my neck and yanks onto my hair, while trying to bite/kiss me.  The scars are worth it.
* Nursing is difficult because he only wants to see what is going on around him--which is a lot!  I try to seclude us to a back room, but we inevitably are interrupted every two minutes, at least.

My Report: Do Something That Scares You

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Hello there!

What a great Easter weekend and a busy week thus far.  I'm sure you can all relate!

I have to make a report of my more recent attempt to do something the scares me.  For my ice-breaker, I decided to attend my first ballet class in almost 12 years.  I found a couple of open teen/adult ballet classes in my area and chose one that had a good time at night so I could run on over once Brad got home from work.  I dug out some old ballet shoes and put on compression tights and a sleeveless top I had just got in the mail that day.  (Thanks, Fabletics!)  I am so glad they didn't require leotards because, well, I really wouldn't have gone otherwise.  Before I left, I told Brad, "I'm either coming home completely exhilarated or completely humiliated."

This is me trying to take an inconspicuous photo right before class.  Nailed it!

Not gonna lie people, I was feeling a little nauseous while driving over there.  I know this is not a big deal; no life is hinging on the balance for me to attend a ballet class again.  But doing so has been a legitimate desire of mine for years, but also a legitimate fear.  I have some pretty conflicted feelings about the dance studio and going back was emotionally intense for me, akin to facing some demons, including my sadness over leaving such an important part of my life behind me for so long.

Do Something that Scares You

Thursday, March 24, 2016

My family used to do this thing during Family Home Evening where we would take turns getting the "praise spotlight," and everyone else would share what they like about that family member.  When it was my time for the spotlight, most of my family's comments would involve them saying I was "brave" and "determined."  They decided that I was good at going after things I wanted, doing my darnedest until I got there.

While that might have been true at one point of my teenage life (why am I reversing the order of progress most humans go through?!  Why?!), the truth is that I am anything but "brave."  The truth is I'm darn-right scared out my mind most of the time!  Even mundane tasks can give me the heeby-jeebies.

Fear has stopped me from doing a lot of things and made me quit more times than I can count.  Here's a short list, by way of example, of things I quit out of fear:

1) Ballet/Dancing: more on that to follow.
2) Flute: I didn't make the advanced band at BYU and I was afraid to try again, so I basically stopped playing except for the occasional church number.
3) Musical Production/Singing/Acting: I also didn't make something at BYU and I have never tried out for anything ever again.
4) Track: I participated for three full days of track as a sophomore in high school.  I somehow believed that I should be able to do the high jump like my older sister, and after failing to clear the bR even once, I never came back.  (In hindsight, I really should have done the running events instead.)
5) Piano: I wasn't going anywhere with it, so what was the point of continuing lessons?
6) See this post for a lot more on this.

The list of things I have wanted to do as an adult but never even started because I was scared would be miles long.  They include things like racing triathlons, going back to school, starting new hobbies (sewing, photography, and up until now, blogging), swimming for exercise, submitting my writing to anything, a whole gamut of home projects, and on and on.

Let me talk more about ballet for a second.

I started dancing at three/four years old.  I was at a local ballet studio, but one that was well respected, with really great teachers, most of whom were retired professional dancers and heavy on the technique.  Throughout grade school and jr. high, dancing was a real passion for me.  I thought about it around the clock.  Each time I was in the studio, I pushed myself until my muscles shook through every combination and I was wet with sweat.  I loved it too much to see that I wasn't particularly great at it.

WOT: Goals for 2016

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Mid-January, I shared a few of my goals for this year.  For today's Working On Things, I'd like to report on where I'm at with them so far.  As a former teacher, I feel like I can put my training to good use and give myself a grade for each goal.

1) LOOK at my kids in the eye: I reminded myself of this one more lately.  I have been realizing that the older I get, the more introverted I am.  I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing, but I would like to do a better job of getting out of my head with my kids.  Reminding myself, "Look at CJ," when she's talking to me, or "Get down to RG's eye level," if I'm trying to better direct/re-direct/discipline with him, or "Look at his eyes!" while pushing Baby D in the swing--all those little reminders really have gone a long way to helping me focus on what matters most in the constant energy and work that is running a household with small children, and that's taking a few seconds to really connect with my kids.  Grade: B-.

2) Get better at MOMMY TIME-OUTS: Yeah, I kind of forgot about this goal.  I have felt the past few weeks that we are starting to "get things down" with the three-kids thing.  It's still throwing me for a lot of loops on the daily, but I'm not feeling that constant fight-or-flight chemical surges in my blood every half hour or less like I was for the majority of the last eight months.  So, my own "tantrums" have gotten better.  I've done some "deep breathes!" lately when I really wanted to fly off the handle, but I'd like to see some more leaving the room and taking a real time-out when I feel the shaky hands or grinding of teeth. Grade: C.

3) Be a better GIRLFRIEND TO MY HUSBAND: Brad and I have been going on more regular dates, and we've also been putting more effort into talking and sitting on the same couch after the kids go down.  The last few weeks, we've started to rent movies off of amazon prime for an at-home date when the kids go down.  Finally, we text a little more during the day, even if it's just to text something funny one of our kids said or to see how each other's day is going.  Grade: B+.

4) Run a MARATHON for fun, not for time: I've looked into a lot of races, but most are either on Sunday (which I'm not totally against--gasp!--but not eager to do) and the Saturday races are trail marathons that involve a minimum of 2,000 feet elevation change.  Um, no.  I did find one that is in October, on a Saturday, and while it is a trail run, it involves a 800 ft. elevation loss.  Um, yes!  Sign-ups don't start until July.  To be honest, I already want to chicken out and am coming up with a lot of excuses.  To quote the Bachelor, half-marathons are my jam.  I enjoy training for them and they aren't near as hard on my body or my family, given it takes less time and effort to train and complete them.  I'm still feeling darn "skurred" of the 26.2... Grade: D.

What goals have you been working on?  How would you grade yourself?

Costco Favorites #2, + How to Roast Your Veggies

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

This has been a fun series so far and I've been loving additional ideas people have brought up on the last post as well as on Facebook.  I have bunch more Costco favorites to share, so here's round two with another one coming next week.  I'll also be trying out your suggestions and will pass on what's a hit around these parts!

This post is dedicated to items that I always, always have on hand.  

 1) try-Roots Quinoa: This bag is always in our pantry.  I like to mix it with white rice when we eat that just for more staying power, but also to completely replace rice with dishes like stir-fry, hawaiian haystacks, sweet and sour chicken, Indian chicken, and with my beloved veggie bowls (of which I will soon share a picture).

2) HONEY: I bake a lot, including things like our own granola and, lately, our own granola bars.  Also, we like honey!  It's not organic, but it's a great amount for a good price.

3) Bob's Red Mill Quick Cooking Steel Cut Oats: This is a recent find, but I also love normal steel cut oats.  I cook two cups of this in the crockpot--add 4 1/2 cups of water and put it on high for about two hours.  I store it in a giant tupperware container and dish out servings for myself and the kids each morning with a little almond milk.  Hint: TOP IT WITH ALMOND BUTTER!!!!!! Here is a post where you see how I dress it up in the mornings.

4) Verka Organic Plain Yogurt: First, a confession.  For probably the first four years of our marriage, Brad knew our plain yogurt as "sour cream..."  I finally told him the truth, and it felt good to get it off my chest.  This yogurt is awesome.  It's full fat, which is important to me (whole energy!), and I LOVE that it has no added sugars.  I use it in place of sour cream (tacos, hawaiian haystack gravy, baked goods and other recipes that call for sour cream, etc.), and because it's full-fat, you can't tell the difference.  I eat it plain for myself, but it's usually mixed with my super choclately granola, so it gets sweetened up.  My baby eats this plain, as do my kids when it's dripped over savory dishes (they like a lot of it).  When they want it for a snack, I give it to them with a little bit of strawberry jam, agave nectar, or just plain unsweetened applesauce (we call this "applegurt").

OK, now on to roasting those veggies.  Here's how I use one of my big ziplock bags of frozen Costco veggies, that I've washed and chopped. (See this post.)

I put them on a sprayed pan, do some salt and pepper, and either drizzle a little olive oil or spray it with olive oil (I usually have olive oil in a mini spray bottle, for this purpose).  I put it in a pre-heated oven (usually 350 degrees), and turn the veggies every ten minutes.  I take it out when things look done, which I believe is usually around 20-30 minutes.

Here's an example of a lunch I made for myself with said roasted veggies.  Actually, every part of this lunch includes Cotsco items: spring salad mix, baby tomatoes, veggies (roasted), hardboiled egg, and Johnny's caesar dressing:

I'll share my roasted veggie rice/quinoa bowl next week!

I'd love to hear more of your favorites from Costco, and if you end up buying some of my favorites, how you use them!


Monday, March 21, 2016

This will just be a collection of random thoughts and tidbits of our lives lately...

1) I've struggled writing on this blog because I still don't know what it is.  Will it be to simply practice writing? To air out my mid-life crisis? To wax poetic? Or just to talk about more light-hearted things like food, running, and silly kids?  I'm torn all the time, so I find myself just not writing at all.  To help counteract that, I'm keeping a notebook in a central place of my little house, where I can write down the random ideas I get.  Also, I'm starting to keep a weekly posting schedule so that I'll actually write instead of avoiding it because I'm anxious about what I've already posted and paralyzed by what I want to write.

2) We've had lots of unfinished house projects going on at once.  I laughed at my friend Janssen's recent post where she recounts her parents saying that nobody ever says, "The house is done!"  I suppose it will always be this way, even when we move on from our little fixer upper.  Right now, I'm mid-project for repainting the ceiling in our family room (we have overhead lights for the first-time ever, and it's so nice!), re-tiling the fireplace (with plans to also re-face it, because the guy I wanted to hire never got back to me), and trying to figure out what on earth do to about our white-trash backyard.  We had a big tree cut down last week, only to have it finally confirmed that it was indeed a completely rotten tree.  Even the branches were hollow!  We were so relieved we hadn't put a swing on one of them.  Now, we are trying to plot out what to do and get the courage (read, self-discipline) to get going on it...  Heaven knows, even our trashy backyard has been a total life-saver for me and my kids, especially my middle child! 

3) Speaking of our middle child, RG is, how do I say this . . . really kicking my behind.  I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that that sweet boy needs as much time outside as possible where he can hit sticks against the ground for as hard and for as long as his heart desires.  (Two hours outside a day keeps the demons away.) We have been on our third-round of half-hearted potty training, so it's going as well as can be imagined with that level of dedication.
4) Here's what a really good Saturday looks like for a family with three small children: sleep in until 7:15 AM; mom takes one kid on a run after he eats breakfast while dad hangs back with the other two; quick shower and then mom heads to a church activity and eats waffles while dad reads books at home with the kids; whole family goes to a make-up swim lesson for the two oldest; directly following, attend a final soccer class for the two-year old, who after two minutes decides he'd rather play at the park; have lunch at home; two kids nap while mom and dad sit on the couch and the four year old gets read to, intermittently; everyone up and clean the garage together, rake the yard, and change a door knob; achieve our glorious reward of eating at Sweet Tomatoes; dad bathes kids while mom washes the day's dishes; family movie night; kids go down and parents watch movie trailers until bedtime.  I was SO happy and satisfied with our day, especially cleaning the garage.  Take that, 20 year olds!!

And finally, from the looks of this post, it appears we only have one child. I promise, we don't have favorites!  All right, all right . . . the baby is everyone's favorite right now.  But I'd save them all in a fire.

Have a great week, folks!

Costco Favorites

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Enough about my spiritual crisis!  Let's talk about my love for Costco.

I have a strong relationship with Costco.  I'm pretty sure we were made for each other.  I'm equal parts cheap-skate and spender, while he has everything I could ever need or desire, and all at a discount.  He might pray on my weaknesses, but I'd like to think our dedication to each other is mutual.

I used to visit Costco about once every month or so, but the past year I just can't seem to keep away. For example, after returning from visiting my family two weeks ago I went to see Costco three times in less than a week.  That is quite a feat since I'm usually hauling three young children, so rest assured, I take this relationship quite seriously!

Since it's clear to anyone that I'm obsessed, I'd like to post here and there about some of my Costco favorites.  While I'm a huge fan of their pizza (not so much the churros), this first post is dedicated to veggies.  

I know, BOR-ING! But I truly think that Costco's vegetables can't be beat and I can get the best bang for my buck there.  Lately, instead of buying their pre-bagged frozen veggies, I've been buying a bunch of fresh vegetables separately and once I get home, I chop them up, mix them together some huge bowls, distribute them to ziplock bags, and freezing them until I need them.

I always include broccoli and mushrooms, but the other vegetables switch in and out depending on what they have.  I usually do carrot, but this was my veggie haul from my latest trip.

I roast a big bag once a week using olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Once roasted, I use the vegetables on top of salads, in rice bowls, stir-frys, quiches, pastas, and as side dishes for dinner.

Try it!

I Thought I Had to Leave My Faith

Thursday, March 10, 2016

What I'm about to share is incredibly personal.  (Naturally, it feels like putting this on the inter webs is a nice way to rip off the band-aide. . . Or maybe that's just me!) I guarded my feelings carefully for so many years, too afraid to share with anyone beyond my spouse (who happens to be a great listener).  But I also believe it's relevant to what so many are experiencing who are apart of my Mormon faith.  I've learned that far more good than bad comes from opening your heart to others, so with a deep breath, that's what this post is about for me.  

I'd like to share my own faith journey of the last ten+ years.  What I'd love to hear is how others have worked through their own journey, regardless of the ending.  But I'd also love some heart-felt sympathy toward every person who might have a similar journey but a different ending, as I know that most people are truly doing the best they can with what they believe, and that no one's faith journey is simple.  No one's.     

The past 10+ years, I spent countless hours on my knees praying, cried thousands of tears, and lost hundreds of hours of sleep debating on whether or not I was an apostate of my own religion.  This was apart of a soul-wrenching journey I never expected to take, as I have deeply cherished the religious faith I was brought up in as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, AKA the Mormons.

I always loved being a rule follower.  Rules kept me safe. They helped me make a lot of important decisions before I even encountered pinnacle choices in my youth and young adulthood.  I never had to worry about drugs or alcohol, never had to wade through the emotional complexities and physical risks of pre-marital sex. I carried with me throughout my life a sure belief that this life is only part of a bigger plan, so I never feared death. I believed in God completely, so I prayed to Him not just daily, but throughout my days.  Studying the scriptures was a daily ritual of my life since I was eight years old, a ritual I sincerely prized as it carried me through life's difficulties ranging from a little rejection from a boy at school to the tragic deaths of a cousin and later a friend.

I never thought that I would one day question if I really belonged to my Mormon faith, a faith that I had firmly held on to my whole life, but also a faith that gradually grew to feel far more painful than helpful.

But, I did question.

Things I Want to Remember, Round 1

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

First, I've struggled what to call my kids on this public blog.  I don't want to use their first names, because I'm paranoid.  But using their initials has made even me confused when I read my own posts...  Also, I'm pretty sure I won't be able to maintain alias names for them as I can barely keep their real names straight.  Suggestions are welcome!  In the meantime, I'll keep going with their initials.  So, CJ is my firstborn and only girl; she'll turn 5 this summer.  RG is my middle child, soon turning 3.  And Baby D is our 7 month old.

Here are some things about them that I want to remember of this time with my little ones...

* CJ uses a lot of phrases and wordings that are quite grown up, and we're not quite sure where she got them.  She'll say, "I am feeling cross..." or "This looks a little odd!"
* She has a little stutter and lisp, but makes up for it with her expressive face and hands.  She's chattering around the clock, even with her make-believe.
* Lately, she's taken to wearing leotards around the house and practicing her ballet at home.  She is also a budding artist and has requested to take an art class after ballet is over in a few weeks.

* How he says, "Of course!" (with a soft "r") in response to my requests.  Such as, "RG, would you like to go outside?" "Of COYS!"  He is speaking better and better.  I especially love how he starts a lot of sentences with a, "Hmmmm."
* He is all boy--tumbling around the house, wielding everyday objects as swords, obsessing over trains and construction trucks, and exhibiting a near-constant stream of energy.  And yet, he loves to mimic his sister and easily joins in with playing dress up and dolls.  It cracked us up when he requested a Kristof barbie for Christmas, and we happily obliged.
* He is potty-training right now (round two for him, as I gave up a day in to our first attempt).  I love his happy face when he gets a sticker and his excited voice, "I did it!"

Baby D
* Like his big sister, his little hands are like a dog's tail, always going in circles and manifesting his feelings.
* I am relishing this baby so very much, as his two older siblings remind daily how quickly this phase will end.  It's breaking my heart that he can sit up without much help, is conquering his pincer grasp during meals, and already boasting 6 teeth.
* Baby D's eyes light up every. sticking. time I look at him.  He buoys up my spirits every single day and I am so thrilled to have him as our baby.  Right now, the feelings are mutual.  My theory is that babies love you as much as you love them for that first year.  What a precious time!

Foodie Friday

Friday, March 4, 2016

Oops, I didn't mean to skip posting for two weeks!  Visiting family and sick kids will do that to you.  Here are some recent eats that were a big hit, if only for myself!

First, is this soup.  After a long day of traveling, we needed dinner ASAP and didn't have any groceries.  I based this tomato soup off of my memory of two different tomato soups from Our Best Bites (their cookbooks), and just used what I had on hand. I shredded two large carrots and sautéed it in a little olive oil.  I then added three cans of tomatoes: two stewed, one diced; one cup of water with chicken bouillon (the soft kind from costco--get it!), a table spoon or two of tomato paste out of a tube (from Trader Joes--you keep it in the fridge), and sprinkled in some garlic powder, onion powder, basic, salt and pepper.  I Brought it to a boil, then simmered for 15-20 minutes.  (I might have added another 1/2 cup - cup more water, can't quite remember.)  Then I blended it all up, and added about a 1/4-1/3 cup of cream we still had in the fridge.  Voila!  We served it with grilled cheese that night and I ate it for lunch the rest of the week.

Next, crockpot oatmeal!  I happen to love oatmeal, but it is hard to cook it every morning when my kids are trying to kill each other and everyone is hungry.  I decided to make a batch ahead of time for reheating every morning! I got Irish steel oats from Costco, and they cook a little faster than regular steel cut oats.  One night, I put two cups of oats and 4 1/2 cups of water in the crockpot and put it on high for an hour and then low for another hour or two.  Once I could see it was cooked, I put it in a large tupperware and it became our breakfast the rest of the week.  When I'm ready to eat, I heat up a cup of it with some milk/almond milk, sometimes a little honey, and a dollop of almond butter with berries/banana.  It is SO GOOD!!

While visiting my family in Utah, I finally got to try Swig's famous sugar cookie.  It did not disappoint.  So, of course, I had to try to make them myself.  I followed this recipe, but ended up adding an additional 1/2 cup of flour so it met the consistency she described.  These are AMAZING!  They seriously melt in your mouth.  You don't have to roll them out, which makes them my go-to sugar cookie from now on because ain't nobody got time for that!  This recipe makes a lot of cookies, so be prepared to either share a bunch or freeze half the batch.

I'd love to hear if you try any of these, and how they turn out!
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