Friday, April 29, 2011
Here's the real deal: I want to tell you about our TV situation. We don't have cable. We don't have dish. But we still watch all our favorite shows every week.
We have a Roku. I might say this ranks in our top 5 best purchases of our married life. We can stream all sorts of things on it. We use our Netflix there, of course, and we also have a Hulu Plus account. I found that my Picasa Web albums can be linked there, so I can have up a slideshow of all the pictures on my blog going on my TV. We have an Amazon video account where we can order movies for about $5 if we're too lazy to go to Redbox and we want to watch something new. (Also, their customer service is EXCELLENT with Amazon video - once we ordered a movie that had trouble streaming, and they gave us our money back automatically. I didn't even have to call or anything.) We listen to all our Pandora stations on there - it's great to have music coming from our TV in the middle of the house instead of a computer in a back room.
Last night I discovered possibly my new favorite feature. It's called The Gymbox. Now instead of doing the same workout video all the time (as much as I love Jillian), I can get new videos every week. This morning I did my first one...a TREADMILL workout. Hello? That is SO genius. I have a treadmill, but I'm not a runner, so I never use it. Now it's like I have a trainer to tell me how to use my treadmill. She tells me what my incline and speed should be at and leads me through hills and sprints and whatnot - things I wouldn't figure out on my own. Walking and a bit of running. It was an awesome 30 mintue workout. There are a million categories on there - kickboxing, yoga, dancing, strength training...it's awesome. I'm on a free guest pass right now, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to upgrade to the membership ($10 a month, I think) so I can continue to get new videos.
I also found last night that all the major news stations do a little recap of the day's news. ON a free station, of course. This is becoming a must for me as I NEVER watch the news and have to find out about all major news through the grapevine, way delayed. (Like Japan - I embarassingly didn't even hear about that tragedy until a week later. You'd think I lived under a rock.) No excuse for that in this decade, right?
There are all sorts of stations you can download, most of them free. Games, kid drawing stuff...it's awesome. And it's not like the TV is on all the time - it's what you want to watch, when you want to watch it, and it's way cheaper than a cable bill with DVR.
Obviously I'm not being paid to tell you about this, but I just wanted to pass along the info. Get a Roku if you don't already have one (I just saw they are now only $60!! We got ours for $100 a couple years ago. Still worth the price.) and discover all the awesome things you can do. We use ours dozens of times a day - for working out, music, distraction for the kids, and relaxing for me. In the words of Kip, I love technology - especially my Roku.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
I have been wanting to make pillows for my living room for a LONG time and just hadn't made time for it. But now, with the curtains and the painted wall, it was starting to look a little odd without pillows on the couch. So a couple weeks ago, I saw this tutorial from V and Co for an awesome shag pillow. It was the kick I needed - I knew that I would make that pillow. It looked totally easy.
I decided to plan all my pillows at once and ordered fabric for 5 pillows from fabric.com - all for a little less than $35. And free shipping! That's the way to go - I didn't even have to take my kids to the fabric store!! My fabric came Monday, and it was beautiful.
Today I sat down in front of Biggest Loser with my cutting mat and board and my gorgeous lime jersey (which ended up having a bit of polyester in it so it has a bit of a shine) and cut everything out. I thought I would just do the cutting (it was a LOT of cutting), but when I had finished I felt like I was in a groove. I marched straight upstairs, got my machine out, and finished the whole dang pillow in one sitting! It was quick and easy. When Andrew saw how close I was to being done, he said, "Who are you and what have you done with my wife?" See, I'm not usually a project finisher.
It feels so good to have this done!! So I'm 20% done with my pillow project, and I'm on a roll. The next one will be coming soon.
P.S. Please ignore my dirty couch with fingerprints on it. Just feast your eyes on the shag beauty in the foreground.
P.P.S. If you make this pillow (make this pillow!!), know that 1 yd. is generous - I have a LOT of jersey left. But since jersey is so cheap and you can't order less than 1 yd. from fabric.com, it's okay. Maybe I'll make another one as a gift or something.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Sorry to do another post about a link, but this is the coolest video I've ever seen. It made me cry. I feel like this is what the internet is intended for, awesome things like this. It's a little long - over 14 minutes - but it's worth it. (You could probably also find it on YouTube, but this is the link someone emailed me.)
And here's a picture of my technologically-inclined son, just in case the video is not great enough for a post on its own.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Family pictures with three children...that's about as fun as grocery shopping with three kids. We had a sum total of zero succesful shots, but oh well. I never did get a decent picture of the boys' ties, but let me tell you, they were the cutest things they've ever worn.
Speaking of unsuccesful things, my last-minute hunt for an Easter dress for myself was a flop. After numerous stores and failed outfits that made me look like a mother whale, I left those gross clothes behind, along with a little of my self-esteem. I came home to my own dismal closet and selected...wait for it...a maternity dress. One that I wore all of ONE time during my maternity phase. It wasn't very cute, and it gave me a complex that I looked pregnant, but it matched Eva's dress when I added a little pink flower clip.
Eva's dress, however, was a smashing success. She looked adorable. We were running late before church and I didn't get to fancy up her hair like she wanted, but she still looked dazzling.
It was a wonderful Easter.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
One month from yesterday, actually. We are now on the official countdown until he leaves, and I as I prepare for single momhood again, I am filled with memories of last time. As hard as it was, I can honestly say I was better after it was over. I was strong and felt victorious when he came home, like I had fought a battle and won. Which, in a way, I had.
So now, I'm preparing another go at it. This time, with renewed insight (especially from General Conference!) and a desire to do even better than last time.
I think Andrew is dreading it even more than I am. I don't blame him. This time won't be nearly as "fun" for him - he won't be as busy or doing as many cool things. I mean, saving the world is pretty cool, but you know, it gets old day in and day out. I imagine. I find him clinging logner to the kids or kissing Dean extra times, and I know what he's thinking. He doesn't want to miss it. He doesn't want to be gone when Dean learns to crawl and probably walk. He will miss so many thousands of little things - another one of Leighton's birthdays, for instance. (We're going on 50% father's birthday attendance here for poor Bubba!) Last time I thought I had the worse end of the deal, but this time I feel like he does. And I am trying to be the strong one. For once in my life.
As I told my mom the other day, the Lord knows I like to plan things, so he allowed me to put my biggest trials and tribulations (so far) on the calendar. 4 months long, 120 days of hardship. I like it that way. I don't like deployment, but I am trying to remind myself that it is a blessing to sacrifice for this country, and that we will never ever ever be left alone, though we will be apart.
I found this free print today from one of my new favorite blogs, and it was absolutely perfect for me. I will be printing this off and hanging it where I can see it every day. Because it's true - I CAN do hard things, and I can do them well.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
I'm not sure when my baby grew up.
The other day (Thursday) I thought that maybe Dean might like a walker to get around in. I called Stacey and she had one we could borrow.
I put him in it Thursday evening, and he seemed to enjoy it. Didn't really go anywhere, but liked it anyway.
Yesterday, I put him in it and ran to the bathroom. I came back and he had made his way around the kitchen, knocked the trash can over, and dug out two butter wrappers and was licking the butter off. (I made these cookies that morning. Umm, delicious.)
Mind you, he's only 7 months old. I have no CLUE how he did this, because really, he seems a little young to be getting into things.
He was covered in butter, and I had to laugh and grab my camera. He is obviously drawn to fattening foods...he must be my son.
He is the world's easiest baby, and this was definitely his first trouble-making experience. And it was mild. Unfortunately, knowing he is apprentice to masters of mischevious behavior, it will not be his last.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Sometimes I am so disappointed in humanity. Sometimes I don't believe there is much good left in the world, and I feel discouraged. I hear stories of people doing terrible things to each other, and it's sad.
And then, I see something like this article, and I think how cool people are. How probably, most people are good deep down. I don't know why, but just knowing that somewhere in the world there actually was a house floating on balloons made me happy.
Maybe it will cheer you up, too.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
So today, I sat down to make it. I used Crystal Wilkerson's Sweet Summertime elements for the colors and flowers - she is my all-time favorite digital designer. (My blog banner elements are from her as well.) Anyway.
I made several different versions of it, and I can't decide which one I like the best. So I'm putting it up here for some input. Also, because I love all of you who continue to read my blog, I'm giving you a few free downloads. Leave a comment which one you like the best, or even if you like none of them, and take one or all of them! They are 8 x 10, fyi. (Warning: they look weird because they are on a white background and it's not showing the outer border! Sorry, don't know how to fix that!)
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
That's what Eva calls General Conference. I must say, it was absolutely FABULOUS. The best yet. It left me with much to think about and motivation to improve myself. But that's for another post, or possibly my journal. What I wanted to report is that...I finished binding my quilts. You may remember this quilt. As I looked at that link I realized I finished binding it EXACTLY one year after that post! Coincidence? Yes, but a cool one. Anyway, after I finished the top, I sent it to my amazing mother, who is now the proud owner of a quilting machine. She quilted with the CUTEST pattern ever, it's perfect. She sent it to me shortly after Dean's birth. The boy is now 7 months, and still it sat.
In the meantime (last summer), I had started another quilt for Dean. The top came together quickly, and my mom quilted it and sent it at the same time as the first. Knowing my laziness in finishing projects, I just decided to go ahead and wash and use them, unbound. (Trashy, I know.)
But during conference, with all those hours of sitting and watching television, I had to put my idle hands to work. And I'm so glad I did.
That night, I covered Dean up with his new, finally completed quilt, and I felt so accomplished. See? Conference worked. I'm improving already.
(Picture of full completed quilts to come...someday.)
Monday, April 4, 2011
A few minutes later, we heard the peaceful backyard erupt into a chorus of terrified screams. Literally, all at once. There was no warm-up cry or gradual crescendo - it was all out chaos, all at once. Everyone's first thought (except mine) was that someone had gotten stabbed with the stake. I ran out there first and saw the funniest sight of my life.
The sprinklers had come on, and the kids were getting rained down on. They were all hysterically crying (except for the oldest girl, who's 8) and running around frantically. Leighton was the first to near the door, so I grabbed him. By then, the other parents had gotten out there and we were all scooping up wet kids. Eva was the funniest - she was paralyzed with fear and was running back and forth, never near the door, and screaming at the top of her lungs.
Us parents could hardly move, we were laughing so hard. We wrapped all the kids in towels and sat in the kitchen laughing and calming down from the adrenaline rush from the initial screams. Thankfully, nobody was hurt.
The only problem is that, come summer, my kids may still be suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrom and REALLY won't play at the splash pad!
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Friday, April 1, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Dean is sitting up now. He does big belly-laughs - Eva says, "He does a laugh just like we do!" Which is a perfect description.
Leighton is in the process of being potty-trained. He wasn't really ready (as in asking to go potty), and I know everyone says to wait for that, but I was ready and that's good enough. He's doing pretty well and I'm surprised how quickly he picked up on it. It's a big life change, when you think about it, but he's adapting well and will now tell me when he needs to go.
Eva is learning to read and she LOVES it. I started including a 5-minute reading lesson with preschool (from the Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading) after she started asking about what words were and how to spell things. I figured she was ready, and she was. She is picking it up so quickly and I LOVE seeing her learn things and then apply them later that day when drawing a picture or trying to sound something out. We have started out slowly - we finished short vowel sounds and are onto consonants sounds - and it's awesome. I highly recommend the book.
I had a girls' craft night last week and I finally made my long-time dream a reality - I made a bib necklace. Otherwise known as a "statement piece," they are obnoxious and big and I love them. So I made one, and I have to say this may be my favorite thing I've ever made. After craft night, I could hardly sleep thinking about my creation. I got the chance to wear it 2 nights later when we went out on the strip for dinner and a show. I felt like a million dollars! It was cheap, easy, and unique - my kind of craft.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
I am ashamed to say how slow I was to think of even ONE. I hemmed and hawed and searched my mind. Dean's birth was a given, but that was also a top 5 bad in many ways. I looked to Andrew for help, and he pointed out a few. I realized yet again how 2010 wasn't an awesome year for me. Clay's question got me thinking and I couldn't stop wishing I had answered differently. So here is my new and improved (and way expanded) answer, for Clay and everyone else, but mostly for me.
Best Moments of Age 26
1. The Skagit Valley tulip festival. It should be one of the 7 wonders of the world - it was breathtaking.
2. Watching the kids play in the snow at Grandpa's house over Thanksgiving.
3. Going to the airshow at Nellis and going inside Andrew's good old C-17. Also the day I successfully wore a hat publicly for one of the first times in my life.
4. Watching my Dad meet Dean for the first time, and having him stand in the circle to bless Dean.
5. Having my family come visit at Christmas - best Christmas gift ever.
6. Joining my boxing gym! The rush of going for the first time after so long literally brought me to tears. I love me some punching.
7. Going to St. George spontaneously for a fun trip with the Culvers and Noyeses.
8. Getting a yard put in and watching the kids play "lion hunt" in the bushes.
9. Going to Mt. Charleston in August and feeling the cool breeze and smelling the trees. It was the first time I felt content (weather-wise) since moving here.
10. Riding 4-wheelers in Mancos while camping with the Webbs.
11. Eating yummy seafood and playing on the rainy beach with the Schmeils, Minettos, and Smurthwaites right before moving from WA. Eva found a snail in the sand and brought it home. (Unfortunately, it was lost in the car and never found again.)
12. Our trip to the Oregon coast over Eva's 3rd birthday.
13. Making my first quilt.
14. Going on a cruise with Linds and Kenny. A perfect week! (Linds, we're about due for another cruise, don't you think?)
15. Watching Eva and Leighton learn so much during preschool.
16. Getting to touch Dean's soft little cheek for the first time, and then later getting to hold him. Actually, the first 2 weeks of his life were magical. (Thanks in part to pain pills and my sisters and Mom!)
And just for the record, because a few of these cropped up in remembering events, here are a few of my worst memories of last year.
Worst Moments of Age 26:
1. The Sunday where we were living in a hotel and I prayed so hard someone would invite us over for dinner and nobody did. I bawled on the way home from church and then we ate dinner at Chili's.
2. Every time I had to go outside in June, July, and August.
3. Thinking I was going to be murdered in my own home Andrew sent me emails from my own account that Google was going to kill me. (Long story that I wish I could forget but I probably never will. I truly believe that is when my heart problem was born.)
4. Having to drive 12 hours home to NV from CO 24 hours after getting there and stopping every 2 hours to give Leighton a breathing treatment.
5. Saying good-bye to our home in WA and living homeless for 2 months. Those were REALLY bad months.
So I'm not as pessimistic as I first felt when trying to answer Clay's question. It just took me a little longer than it should have. :) Looking back, I did remember a lot of lame things that happened, but I thought of WAY more than 5 things that made me cry from happiness. Actually, probably everything on my good list either made me cry or almost cry from my heart being so full and grateful and happy. I know being 27 will be even better than 26 in so many ways, and I can't wait to make my list next year!
P.S. Thanks to all of you who sent kind birthday messages! It meant so much to me to have you all think of me.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
As we sat out, basking in the sunshine and the blissfully perfect weather, it hit me: I like it here. I like Las Vegas. I like having springtime weather in January. I like this very moment, at this very mall, waiting for my mother-in-law outside a darling children's boutique. (Where, I can't resist sharing, she got this and these for Eva's birthday! Cutest suit I've ever laid eyes on in my life. She'll be a little Audrey Hepburn at the pool.)
It was a landmark realization. Because although I knew I didn't mind it here and it wasn't as bad as it used to be, at some point I turned a corner and started being happy here. I'm not exactly sure when it happened. But this is big for me.
My tune may very well change come summertime. I told my mother-in-law that I think I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, except in the summer. I detest the heat. (Maybe a cute swimsuit of my own would help?) But for now, I'm so glad to know I have finally really settled in to my life here.
Life is so very good. Even in Sin City.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Last night: My stress level was high. After a disappointing call from Andrew at work cancelling a plan I had made and throwing a kink in our dinner party next week, I was annoyed. The kids were ornery and snippy, Dean was whiny and fussy. At dinner, Leighton pretended his couscous were "sprinkles" and threw them all over the floor and table like confetti. Dean screamed and wouldn't be comforted by anything. In the tub, Eva and Leighton got in a huge, screaming fight that resulted on claw marks on both their bodies. (When I forget to cut their nails, it's like handing them a weapon and tell them to have at each other.) That was the last straw. I snapped inside. I grabbed the recorder from the play room floor and started yelling - in an ugly voice I hardly recognized as my own - and slammed the recorder on the counter. I grabbed them out of the tub, wrapped them in their towels, and threw them on their own beds, slamming the doors behind me. Then I put Dean in his crib and, to the terrible chorus of all three children screaming at the top of their lungs, I marched downstairs to the garage. I sat there panting and gulping in the cool air. I was scared of how angry I felt. I was scared that I didn't even feel sorry for losing it. I said a prayer - because the Spirit was nowhere near me by that point - asking for help in feeling sorry. I asked that my anger be taken away because I didn't know what to do with it. It was a very dark moment. I took a deep breath, then went back upstairs.
I found naked Leighton with a key trying to open Eva's door. He looked at me sweetly, as if nothing had happened, and said, "I got a key." I helped him open the door (although it wasn't locked, he was proud of his key that had fallen off the door post when I slammed it) and saw Eva curled up in a ball in her towel under her covers, her wet hair matted to her pillow and her face streaked with tears. In that moment, my prayer was answered, and all my anger disappeared. I felt the full weight of shame - self-loathing, even - at how I had treated my babies. I bent over her and told her how sorry I was. I asked her to fogive me, and my tears fell on her little cheeks. She gave me a hug, and all was well.
All night, I thought about how I had let my emotions run out of control. What kind of a mother was I? Not the kind I wanted to be. I thought about my goals for happiness and how my total lack of self-control was making it hard to make myself or my kids happy. This morning, after studying "self-control" in the scriptures for a half hour, I resolved to NEVER act like that again.
Tonight: All three kids were in the tub at once. Dean was joyfully kicking his feet and flailing his arms, his fat rolls jiggling. Leighton played Legos and built an airplane, then repeatedly crashed it and laughed hysterically. Eva leaned over Dean and cooed at him and let him pull her hair, laughing at his funny baby sounds. I watched it all and sang, "Boom boom, ain't it great to be crazy" and clapped. It was idyllic and peaceful and happy. The utter and complete opposite of exactly 24 hours earlier. After I got them all dressed, I put them in Eva's room to play dollhouse and went to drain the tub and hang up towels. I heard Dean start to fuss (I had put him on his stomach on the floor, and he hates that) and then quickly stop. I finished what I was doing and peeked around the corner to find Leighton showing Dean some little toys to play with. They all sat happily, playing together. It was perfection.
As I sat in Dean's room and fed him before bed, Leighton kept bringing us pieces of the dollhouse things, saying "Deanie needs these stairs." "Deanie needs flowers." Dean fell asleep despite the intteruptions and went down effortlessly (as he normally does, thankfully). Leighton had a bit of a hard time going to bed as he had fallen asleep earlier for a few minutes, so I went in his room to read him a story. He was so sweet during the story, asking me things about the numbers (it was a counting book) and understanding the story line. Afterwards, he was making jokes - genuinely funny ones - and we lay there laughing for a while. Then I sang him a song and rubbed his arm. He said, "Sing me another one, Mommy." So I did. He said, "Sing me another one, Mommy." I said, "I have to go back downstairs." He said, "Sing popcone popping on a a-ticot tee." So I did, and he sang with me, and did the actions with his adorable little hands. Then he said, "Mommy, go downstairs now." I kissed him and said I love you, and he said I love you a couple times, even after I closed the door. There was a happy glow around me, and I felt so content with my life as I came back downstairs.
What made the difference? Lots of things. Some nights, I let everything get to me until I reach boiling point, and some nights nothing bothers me. I don't know why. Why can't I always be positive? Why can't every night be like tonight?
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
This book changed my life in many ways. The biggest way was to direct me in my New Year's Resolutions. I had been in search of an idea for a 12-month system that changed monthly rather than a do-or-die-all-or-nothing-all-year-long approach. I found what I was looking for in the H. For someone change-oriented like me, whose motivation ebbs and flows from day to day (or is that everyone?) this was a perfect approach. For someone who thrives on charts and lists and checkmarks and visual proof of progress, this was just the thing.
So go read the book. (I have a copy that I'm happy to lend out.) Get it from the library if you don't have $30 to spare. Or get it on Amazon if you are more patience-oriented and spend $12. And don't be one of those lame-oes who hates on New Year's Resolutions, okay? Resolutions rock.
Here are mine for the month of January.
~Wake up at 6:15am (this is a work in progress - I'm gradually getting there. Today was 6:40am.)
~Study scriptures for 30 minutes
~Write something every day
~Exercise 5 times a week
~Go to gym (boxing) 3 times a week
~15 minutes of housework (put the house to bed)
~Veggie up! (This one is thanks to Cooking Light magazine's awesome 12HH program - check it out!)
So far, so good. I haven't been perfect every day, but I'm not expecting that. I feel so good about the efforts I'm making, and that's enough for me.