Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Vlasic classic...

Liv has a new obsession and it's called pickles. She goes wild for pickles. She would pick a pickle over a doughnut or ice cream any day.  One lunch she ate 4 whole pickles. It it wasn't so revolting I would describe her diaper the following day.  Let's just say I smelled pickles a room away.  We finally decided had to get her a massive jar from Sam's club because it was more economical to keep up with her pickle craze.
Sometimes I try to make her wait which is hard when you love pickles like she does.  Some people find comfort in squeezing their stuffed teddy bear, Liv gets the same peace from holding her jar of pickles.
I asked her if she loved pickles and instead of answering, she just kissed the bottle. 
I realize this is not normal. I am hoping the pickle phase passes quickly.


I have been thinking a lot about friends lately. You can't pick who you are related to. Luckily, I have some pretty sweet branches on my tree. No matter what you do though, peeps in your family are morally obligated to care or they look like  a jerk. No one wants to look like a jerk. The concept of someone caring about and wanting to connect with you simply because they want to is one of life's greatest features.  Seriously. I really feel like having true friends is what makes life have color, fun, and joy, otherwise it just feels like a moldy cardboard box of obligations and responsibilities.  I have been thinking about how being a good friend is a gift that some people have.  Some people can play the harmonica, some people are amazing cooks, and some people know how to be an amazing friend. They know when to call and how to listen and how to make you laugh. You feel like you don't have to put on mascara or be anything but yourself around them and they would do anything for you.  You don' t need to talk to them every single day, you just know that they are there, somewhere in the universe and that if you did need them, they would be there in a second.
Yesterday it snowed. Avalanched actually all over the city.  I was stressed because I had to try to get everyone packed (because we are going to Utah, aka the promised land), make some freezer meals, clean the house etc. Kim texted wondering if she could come over since I had asked her to trim my bangs (Why donate to unfantastic Sams when your friend is a professional?).  Lugging the girls into the freezing cold only to have them both melt down in the produce into balls of tantruming crying saggy diaper cart sitters was less than appealing. Kim acted like it was a delight to get my texted grocery list and showed up with a hot chocolate from Starbucks and held Grace so I could get things done.  Jandi dropped off a bag of plane treats and distractions for the girls that wins a blue ribbon for thoughtful.  I just realized from the examples of so many that I have a long way to go and need to make BEING a good friend a habit and practice in my life because it makes such a difference.
 The greatest thing about friends is that they don't expire (unlike the buttermilk I just found in my fridge that expired in October of 2012, I will spare you the details and the smell) and just because you don't see true friends you've made, doesn't make them evaporate.

There is nothing that fills the soul like re connecting with friends that you don't get to see on a day to day basis but are stored in the social archives of your deepest guts for forever.
 It doesn't matter where you find them, your ward, college dorms, mission, the awkward abyss of jr. high, or your local neighborhood. I feel like friends are gifts and none are ever the same and each one leaves you different.
 I can't say the number of times that I have been blessed because of true friends. I have realized that just like playing the tuba, or tennis, or any talent, I need to practice being the kind of friend that I have been blessed with and need every day in my own life.

Seriously, I feel like I should send an apology card to every friend I have because I am horrible at answering my phone and fail miserably at calling people back, I depend on facebook to alert me when its someones birthday and I still haven't sent out my wedding thank you cards from 3 years ago.  I want to work on it. Badly. Everyone needs true friends. Everyone. I know I need oxygen, food and water to stay alive, but I need friends to add life to my living.

Family Night...

 Some commandments are obvious (don't smoke or kill people).  Some commandments are necessary (go to church, fasting, be kind).  Then there are some commandments that are fun and having family home evening is one of my all time favorite commandments.  Family night is something that happens once a week on Monday nights where the family is supposed to spend time together and you have a lesson, activities, treats etc. Yesterday, Gar gave us a stellar lesson on faith.

Liv was an excellent song leader last night and takes her job very seriously. She leads along with the chorister on Sundays and has quite a repertoire of songs she can sing now.  She also started praying this week and refuses to copy anything we say.  The most frequently prayed for items are airplanes, titty tats, Baby Gace, and the park.  
 Grace's family night job was to not cry. She did her job which was appreciated  by  everyone.
I was on refreshment and activity so we had peach milkshakes..
Liv is always willing to help, and made some excellent "Handspun" milkshakes. 

For our activity I decided we should learn how to read palms and we found out that Gar is going to have a long and fulfilling marriage and that I lose attention quickly and and am selfish in my relationships. I would like to emphasize that after finding out what palms mean, I no longer believe them but if you want your palm read, there are now two qualified readers in Aurora if you would like to schedule your appointment.  

Guest Visitors...

 Monday morn we had two guest visitors that are rare appearances in our house and if we had a red carpet, we would have rolled it out....
Grandpa and Uncle Paul came to visit and the girls loved it.  Liv did her dog and pony show and gave them her stuffed monkey and sheep which means they ranked pretty high.  When Liv first meets people or doesn't like them, she socially shrivels like a sea anemone that has been closed tight. It's like she instantly becomes mute.  If she feels comfortable she turns into a one man band and does all her dog tricks that we practice (singing, her circle dance, reciting ABC's etc).  If she's testing out the waters and wants you to know that you are accepted on her territory she will quietly get her toys and bring them to you, the more loved toy she offers, the deeper the camaraderie she feels.   Paul beat Grandpa on the wii game and they couldn't stay all day but it was a rare occasion indeed that we loved to have them here. 

All done.

It's funny to see what phrases Liv picks up on based on what she hears from me, Curious George, and Sesame Street. Without consciously teaching her words, it is interesting to hear phrases said in a 23 month old voice that I say.  For example, after taking a bite of macaroni and cheese one day Liv put down her spoon, closed her eyes and said, "Mmmmm. Soooooo good." I thought that was a little over the top until I realized that when I really like food I make a big deal and say, "Sooo good," just like she did. She also says, "Don't do that," quite clearly when I tried to change her diaper.  The most frequent phrase is, "All done," when she wants to end something.  Usually she says it when it's time to tame the rats nest, or when its time for bed.
You know when she is sick of something because she suddenly says quite loudly and very clear, "All Done".  Sunday sacrament meeting felt a little longer than usual and we had already colored, lost the plastic zebra behind the bench, and exhausted our diaper bag resources.  Suddenly she stood on the bench and said loud and clear, "All done Jesus!"  I tried to tell her that we really shouldn't be done with Jesus but I don't think it meant anything because she was in the zone of "all done."  It is hard to compete though when she knew that nursery was next with bubbles and puzzles. Sometimes I wish there was adult nursery for times when you feel, "all done."

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bathroom mats and Liv's pet rat nest.

 Liv hates to have her hair brushed. I can't imagine why (typed in sarcastic font). I know you feel like you should call Division of Family Services and report us for never bathing her, but before you pick up the phone, let it be known that she has a nightly bath and her hair is washed frequently.  I don't know if she has dread lock genes or what is wrong with her hair consistency but every morning I understand why people use the term, "rat's nest."  It's like pure fluff that that would be a perfect habitat for a small animal.  Thus, we go through more detangler like bath water.  While we're on the topic of hair brushing and bathrooms, I have two bathroom mats that I am really wanting to get for a guest bathroom someday.  I can't decide which one would be better:
I will probably just have to get them both. Wouldn't you want to come to our guest bathroom someday? It makes the ones we have now look so boring. 


I don't want to be one of those annoying people that posts pictures of their kids and all they can talk about is their kids. Unfortunately, I think I am becoming one of those people.  Whenever proud mothers send me a photo of their child saying their ABC's or jumping in a puddle or putting on sunglasses and I feel forced into saying, "Oh, that is sooo cute," (with the drawn out soooo for emphasis).  When secretly I think, "Hello. Your kid put on big sunglasses. Why is that so funny? It's not. Everyone knows their ABC's so I don't understand why you felt the need to record it."

Well. I looked on my phone and realized yesterday that I have multiple pics of Liv and Grace in sunglasses and I sent Liv saying her ABC's to at least 10 people.  As soon as I looked at it I thought, "What have I done? I have become what I have mocked for years."   We went to the park the other day that was crawling with children. I thought, "Sheesh am I glad that the two most darling children here are mine. Someone seriously needs to wipe that little boy's nose and why is that annoying girl screaming so loud?"  Then I realized that everyone feels about their kids the way I feel about mine. It's called parent vision. It's like motherhood lasik where you see you kids completely different than any other and when they say their ABC's, it's like the first time you've ever heard the letter W said so cute and you are convinced that they are going to Harvard on a scholarship.  I promised myself I would never get motherhood lasik and be completely objective about my children but I can't. My girls are the cutest companions I could ever want to hang out with all day. If you don't believe me, I'll send you a trillion photos and video clips to prove it...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Welcome to India...

The Denver zoo is expensive. So Liv and I improvise and spend a lot of time going to PetCo.  I mean sure they don't have bengal tigers and exotic animals but they do have a pretty sweet rodent and fish collection.  We have spent hours watching ferrets, mice and hamsters run on their wheels and Liv never gets sick of it.
I realized lately that the hamsters and I have something in common...our daily routines.  Hamsters exert a lot of effort and burn a lot of calories on that silly wheel that never changes.  I feel like I have never worked harder in my life and yet it feels very "wheel like" considering it is the same thing over and over each day. One of the most mundane cycles that is a mothering chief cornerstone is dinner production. Seriously a pointless endeavor.  First you have to plan it, then you have to venture into the public eye and buy the ingredients, then prepare the meal, set out all the necessary tools to consume it, all for a glorious 10 minutes when it is then over and you are left with clean up... only to have to repeat the cycle not even 24 hours later.  Can we say hamster wheel syndrome?
The problem is that I feel like I make the same 10 things over and over and over and over and you get the idea.  There's always the classics (tacos, spaghetti, hamburgers, etc.) followed by a variety of cream of crap casserole like dishes that are basically goulash with cream of something cooked at 350 and are always welcome when the ward brings you dinner. The third category of my gourmet cooking is the unknown variable pinterest dream.  Meaning, I pin a lot of virtual meals that always look far better on the computer screen than they do on the plate and few make it into the regular routine after their creation and fall.  I decided that for conference we needed to venture out of the normal hamster wheel cooking boundaries and try something new and exotic.  Thus, Liv and I (Liv is my newest cooking assistant) decided that Indian food was in order. 

I felt slightly confident since I was using "our best bites" which rarely fails me.  Here we are making naan even though I generally stop reading if any recipe says the word "yeast."  Unfortunately, I did not inherit my mother's pioneer bread making genes and talent.
The results were not impressive but not repulsive.  We had grilled chicken tandoori (I feel fancy just saying that word), curry rice, garlic naan and asparagus (the asparagus was not Indian, it was just about to go bad in our American fridge so it had to be consumed).
When you make exotic new foods, I feel it is necessary to be fully invested in the meal. Luckily, everyone was willing to participate.

Even though some people didn't know they were participating.
I love cooking with Liv.  I enjoyed our cultural hamster wheel variation of Indian food although it will not be a frequent usual dish (mostly because it used more than 5 ingredients).  There are some perks to the motherhood hamster wheel...if you mess up dinner, don't worry because you will get another chance the next day, and the next, and the next....

Conference. The other New Years.

 I love New Years but to be honest, I can't even remember what resolutions I made a month later so it's a pretty pointless holiday as far as my personal progress goes. I always feel so motivated after general conference. A heck of lot more motivated than I do after gaining post Christmas glutton weight from all the neighborhood treat drop offs and sitting around.  Thus, I have decided that conference is now the new new years.  A time to make some goals and actually do something different. 
 I am not scrapbook inclined. However, I am starting a conference binder for our fam and we are going to make it a big deal for two reasons:
1. I love conference
2. I love big deals
Thus, conference is a big deal.  So I want it to be something fun and that everyone looks forward to.   Liv had a positive conference experience because she got to go to the park in between sessions.  As we pulled up in her stroller it was like she had completely forgotten parks exist because at the first sight she started screaming so loud with pure joy and memories of germy twisty slides and swings and pea gravel in your shoes came flooding back and she was in playground heaven.  She also loved building marble towers with dad during the talks.  Grace wins the award for paying the best attention:
When I was little I remember feeling like general conference was the longest TV show ever invented. It seems like I couldn't tell one old man in a suit from the next and I would get very restless filling in my conference Bingo board. Now I feel like it goes so fast and over the noise of marble playing, diaper changing, and child chasing I miss the days when my mom would make us watch while eating homemade cinnamon rolls and trying to fill in my bingo board faster than Mike.
I don't care how tired you are or how many times you got up in the night to nurse, you do not feel tired when listening to Elder Holland. In case you missed it, do yourself a favor and enjoy a little spiritual dessert:
I love Conference. I love that news years comes twice a year with enough instruction and motivation to last me the next 900 years if I exercised and actually lived that long.

Monday, April 8, 2013

4 Generational Girls Getaway...

So this one time my mom, my sister, my 84 year grandma and my two daughters were all together at my house. It's true. It happened. It was like an unpruned family female tree gone wild and I loved every second. We were very sad that Eliza couldn't join to complete the bonding. Since Gar was in and out working, Cole was the only patriarchal male influence in the home.  This is one of those posts that is really not exciting to anyone, and I could look at each of these pics and have a brain smile for hours.  
I loved waking up to the sight of these women in their pajamas...
 Cole and Grace had their first (of many) cousin bonding time.  It's going to be much easier on both of them if they choose to be friends because they are going to be forced to hang out for more hours in their future than they could possibly realize with their developing brains...
Of course we had a spa night. Girls have to do girl things and what is more girl-ish than spa time, whether you are wearing a training bra and braces or 84 with wrinkles. It's what girls do.

Easter Sunday with the self timer...
 Sunday Watercolor class. Unfortunately, my mothers artistic talent was not passed on to her oldest daughter. The purple bleeding blob on a green stick was my best work. It's supposed to be a spring flower. Don't judge.
 Soaking up some Colorado sun on a Spillway stroll...
 Em and I sent mom, Gram and Gar on an Easter Egg hunt that ended in the playset.  My grandma and mom's reaction can be clearly seen in this photo.   Gar was calm as a summers morn (as usual).
 May the ever classic "robin egg lipstick" tradition never die.
 Games galore included scrabble, masterpiece, and rack-o.  We were no match for Grams superior intellect.  It was a total sweep.
 One of my favorite sights every night...
 Don't even act like you don't wish Em was your aunt.
 Even though he was severely outnumbered, I was so happy that dream baby was there, also known as Cole Orton.  I'm not a baby lover but I am a Cole lover. To the max.
There are few things that are a better use of time and money than garage sales.  We introduced my grandma to this way of shopping which she was not accustomed to. After the third sale she asked very perplexed, "Well I just can't find the prices and how do you even know what to shop for?"  She's the best. 
 Liv couldn't get enough of her idol, my mother.
 There is no way I could have a more fun mom or grandma.  It is essentially the same personality running through all our veins and I am so glad.
Some memories you just want to soak in formaldehyde and preserve every detail so you never forget any moments.  This last weekend was one of them.  I loved being with some of the most important women in my life all together. I need them in my world no matter how old I get or how many children I have.  I watched a special on elephant herds that showed how female elephants naturally form a small group of other females during the day to associate with and that they need that connection to thrive.  I feel the same.  I'm so grateful to be part of such a fun female family tree.