31 December 2011

2011 - In Review

I know some people might think the following Internet meme is lame, or at the very least a lazy way of writing, but I think it really is a great way to sum up my year. So there.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?
I bought a house.

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Sadly, no. I read 48 books when my goals was 52. I had also set a goal early in the year, when I was still working full-time, to cook real, actual food at least 3 days per week. I didn't really start doing that consistently until I started working part-time. Now we eat real food most every day. Also I planned on blogging at least 3 times per week. Ha!
For next year I'll read 52 books again. I'll also be setting some other goals that I may or may not write about.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes. I got two nephews this year. 

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Sadly, this question ought to be attached to the one before. I also have good friends who had very premature twins who died.

5. What countries did you visit?
Just America this year. Boo. But within America we went to Texas, Jackson Hole, and to Kansas City, Missouri.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
I am never at a loss for things I could use.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
October 6. It's a long story. Maybe I'll tell it one day. But probably not.

8. What was your biggest personal achievement of the year?
Working, wife-ing and mom-ing simultaneously. Of course, with different variations of success at different points.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Trying to wean the kid and get him to drink cow's milk.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Several colds and a nasty virus. Pregnancy and subsequent childcare has ruined my immune system.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Our house is pretty awesome. We also got a great dining set for a great price, and we bought a new TV for Christmas (funded mostly by Eric's work.)

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Ike's. He has learned so many new tricks, and we love to celebrate them.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I'm going to omit this answer, though I do have somebody in mind.

14. Where did most of your money go?
The house. That down payment plus subsequent payments. Dude.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The weekends. Always, always, always the weekends.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Rebecca Black's Friday.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
a) happier
b) thinner (Hooray for breastfeeding!)
c) poorer - Mostly because I'm only working part-time, but also because our wealth is now tied into the house.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Late night feedings.

20. Did you fall in love in 2011?
Yes, with my dishwasher, washer and dryer. (How boring am I?)

21. What was your favorite TV program?
Still 30 Rock and also we like Downton Abbey and Person of Interest.

22. What was the best book you read?
Unbroken:  A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. So awesome. Just go read it.

23. What was your greatest musical discovery?
This answer always, always, always goes back to NPR. I don't even know what the music stations are.

24. What did you want and get?
A house. A new TV. Some mixing bowls.

25. What did you want and not get?
Various furnishings for my house. They'll come.

26. What was your favorite film of this year?
The final installment of Harry Potter, I guess. We watch a ton of mvoies via Netflix, so we tend to be fairly behind. There are still heaps from 2011 we haven't seen yet.

27. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I worked from home, packed for a trip and ate the Cafe Rio Eric brought home for me after a long day of work. I turned 27.

28. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Figuring out earlier how to balance work with home life.

29. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
I just try to get non-pajamas on every day.

30. What kept you sane?
Working. It really brings a lot of satisfaction to my life, and I feel incredibly lucky that I have a job that I can do from home so that I can do the mom thing and the work thing simultaneously. Seriously, I love it.

27 December 2011

Backhanded Compliment

There is somebody I work with who does not work in my office. She used to work in another local office but then got transferred within the company to a location out of state. When she still worked in the state she would spend one or two days per week in our office. She was transferred around April, which was right around the time that I went from working full-time to working part-time. It was also around the time that Ike got laid off.

So, we hadn't seen much of each other for a few months. As I said in my post about Ike's lay-off, going from full-time to part-time was a good change for me. It created a much better balance in my life. One of the effects was that I started consistently trying to look nice at work - a thing I'd pretty much given up on at the end of my pregnancy and in Ike's early months when I was too tired and too rushed to really make attempts at doing my hair and make-up. Those were the months when this colleague had most recently been around me consistently, and I'm sure those images of me were the ones that were clearest in her mind because they were the freshest.

That was all the back-story. Here is the story:

This colleague was holding a training meeting that everyone in my office needed to attend. For some reason I was late to the training meeting, so I popped in about 10 minutes after it had started and took a seat toward the back - maybe about 20 feet away from the front of the room.

After the meeting the colleague said to me, "You look really good! I didn't even recognize you when you first came in."

I was a little taken aback. I said, "Wow, I must have looked really bad those first few post-baby months." Admittedly, this was not the best way for me to respond to my colleague's compliment. Then again, her compliment was not very tactful.

She then realized how badly her compliment came off, and we both kind of laughed it off and she gave me more compliments on losing baby weight and we chatted about life after having a baby and other things.

This exchange has left me thinking a lot about things that come out of our mouths in ways we did not intend at all. Anyone willing to share some examples?

18 December 2011

All I Want For Christmas . . .

It really isn't that hard to think about things you want or things that would be nice to have. When Eric's sister asked us what we wanted for Christmas over instant message, we ended up with this little chat:

Michelle: What do you want for Christmas?
 Sherry: the seventh and eighth harry potter movies.
 Michelle: Really?
 Sherry: well, i do want them.
  also i want a Kindle or other such ereader.
  and i want curtains for my kitchen and back doors.
  and an area rug in my living room.
 Michelle: Hold up
 Sherry: and a runner rug in my hallway downstairs.
  and a bedroom set.
 Michelle: What can we give you with our budget?
 Sherry: :)
 let's go with the bedroom set.
 Michelle: ha ha ha
  is cardboard okay?
 me: as long as it's a sleigh bed.
 Michelle: we'll spray paint it whatever color you'd like.
 me: dark wood.
  but not cherry.
 Michelle: Brown then...
 me: and not black.
  yeah, a darkish brown, but not too dark.
 Michelle: "Grandfather's shoe" brown then
 me: also, more bookshelves. we need more bookshelves.
 Michelle: STOP ALREADY!

So you see, I'm never at a loss for things that I want, especially things for my home. And then when I start thinking about the fact that our back yard has to be in place by next July, and our gold car has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and our red car cannot possibly run much longer than the gold, and Ike has just about outgrown his infant car seat and on and on and on, I can find myself becoming a little overwhelmed.

Yesterday was not the perfect Saturday. Ike is still getting over this odd stomach bug that we expected to last 48 hours and his gone on for more like 96. Eric got called in to cover a shift. In the olden days that would mean overtime, but now it just means extra work for no extra money because he is on salary. My house was messy because I'm not ordinarily an amazing housekeeper PLUS Ike and I have been sick. My house was also cold because I keep it cold to save money on utilities. Whine whine whinewhinewhine ad nauseum.

And then I remembered some awesome things. My husband has a job. I also have a job. We have a home to live in. We all have good health. We can afford to buy the things we need and some of the things we want. I thought a lot about my brother-in-law serving a mission in Ghana, who had recently been working in a Liberian refugee camp. I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I could go on and on with our many blessings, but just thinking about those was enough to pull me out of my self-absorbed doldrums.

16 December 2011


I haven't written in ten days, so we'll do what I always do when I get behind - write a hodgepodge post.


I am working on one of those "my ancestor is a Native American" cases. The client's grandfather always said that his grandmother was a Cherokee. In researching both his maternal and paternal grandmothers I've found that both had sons given the first and middle name of Andrew Jackson. Dear client, your Cherokee ancestors were not very good Cherokees. (I'm not making that up.)


I just finished another case wherein I was pleased to solve a problem and finish the case in time for the Jewish client to receive the package by Christmas. (I'm not making that up either.)


I'm still on Pinterest, but I'm not pinning as prodigiously as I once was. I like to think that I've toned things down and am a more conscientious pinner. (Seriously, all you pinners need to go read RA's post about her own pinning. Don't let Pinterest take over your lives.)


Of the recipes I mentioned in the prodigious pinning post, I really think that only the citrus black beans were a huge hit. I've made them several times since that initial time, and they are always tasty, simple and healthy. The carrot ginger soup was pretty blah in my book, though Eric and Ike seemed to like it. The sweet potato quesadillas were fine, but nothing to write home about. (I'm not even going to bother linking to those others again because I just can't go to the trouble of linking to something that isn't awesome. You can go to my prodigious pinning post (linked above) if you want the links.)


I worked hard on a few of the Christmas gifts I'm giving this year. Then I heard a bit on NPR about how expensive gifts and time-intensive gifts usually mean more to the giver than the receiver. I fear I have fallen into that category. But what can be done? They are already wrapped and shipped (where applicable).


Ike and I got colds. Then we got better. Then Eric got a cold which he gave to Ike and me. Then we got better except for Ike's lingering cough. Then I took Ike to his 12-month appointment, at which the doctor informed me that Ike had an ear infection. He said not to worry about the cough and that it would probably clear up with the antibiotics, but if it weren't for the antibiotics (which were prescribed solely for the ear infection) then Ike might just have a cough all winter long. It's in the genes. Then Ike got some nasty stomach bug, possibly from the babysitter and her boy who had a stomach bug recently. She and her boy seemed to have had a much worse case than what Ike has. He doesn't seem to mind being ill, but I don't like changing a billion diapers a day. When will the 48 hours end? Also, his bug prevented me from going to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Christmas concert tonight. (I obviously wasn't going to have our friends watch Ike and subject them to his germs. I'm very thoughtful in that way.)

The point is, we seem to get sick a lot around here.


I sweep my kitchen floor every day. When people talk about the lifestyle changes that come with having a baby they fail to mention the sweeping.


In Utah it is common for people to take small gifts to their neighbors. So far we have gotten homemade potpourri, and it is awesome. Also some homemade gift tags that are also awesome. The bar is high. We will just duck under it, I think. Thankfully, Pinterest has given me some good gift ideas.

06 December 2011

One Year

It's been a great year! Having Ike in our family has made us far happier than we ever could have imagined.

This month's developments have included, walking (I'd say about 30% of the distance he travels these days is accomplished via walking), clapping (I was thrilled beyond words when he just spontaneously did that when he saw Eric and me doing it - all that practice finally paid off), and his two front teeth arriving with no fanfare (I didn't even know he was teething and then BAM! Two new teeth!).

Ike has been pulling books out of bookshelves, CDs out of CD shelves and pots out of the pantry for at least a month. Lately he has even begun trying to put things back, or at the very least to put things somewhere. He likes to take his train tracks out of their bin and then drop them back in.

He thinks the Christmas tree is great. If only he could reach those shiny glass balls that have been placed so high on the tree!

He likes most food that we offer him but still will not take cow's milk. This is a bit of a problem since I'm now weaning him. He is very resistant to being weaned, and it makes me sad. But not sad enough to keep nursing him much longer. His favorite food is probably bananas. He goes ape over them. (Har!)

Ike jabbers and jabbers all day. He still loves watching people, especially kids. He likes to be chased, tickled, and thrown high in the air. His favorite toys are Tobias the sock monkey, his toy radio, his train tracks (which he just holds in his hands and waves in the air), and all round ball-like objects. He also loves to climb the stairs, though he still doesn't know how to come down.

I really couldn't ask for a better baby.

This is Ike enjoying the Christmas decorations.
 When it's time to eat, Ike means business. We get such a kick out of watching him open his mouth as wide as possible.

19 November 2011

Football Clothes

Eric has been playing flag football with the guys in the ward. (And by "has been" I mean that he played once early in the season and didn't play again until last week.) Today they have a game, and depending on the results of that game, they may play in the championships. (These guys mean business, apparently.)

As Eric busied himself getting ready this morning, he couldn't find a pair of matching gloves. We have countless gloves in the house, but they seemed to be spread among several places, and I haven't gotten our winter wear organized yet this year. I managed to find him a matching set, then I went off to do my own thing. (Make a Christmas, gift, actually. One day I'll post about it.)

A few minutes later I saw Eric all decked out his in warm active wear with a hat. He doesn't wear winter hats too often. I think it's because his head is kind of big, but I'm not sure really. I commented to him that his hat looked kind of silly, and maybe it was because his head is so large. (This is something I tease him about fairly often. And teasing is just part and and parcel to being married to me.) He was looking for his gloves - the ones I had handed to him only a few minutes prior. He kept muttering, "Where are those gloves?" I told him I didn't know where they were and maybe he should replace his hat because it seriously was looking really odd and pointy at the top.

He meandered into the hallway still looking around for those gloves, took his hat off, and said, "Oh, they were in my hat. That's why my hat looked funny."

09 November 2011

Sleep Sack

I made Ike a sleep sack this past weekend. We keep our house pretty cold at night, and we were frequently finding him not under the covers and fairly cold. In New Zealand, my friend, Makereta, made her boy a sleep sack, and I watched part of the construction of it, so I felt confident about putting this one together.

It is not fancy by any stretch of imagination. I took some fleece, cut it into two squares and sewed it together. I did cut a little neck hole, so that's the only part of the thing that isn't just straight. I did hem the arm holes and neck hole. And there is a zipper down the side. I did it by hand because I don't have a sewing machine, and the project was simple enough that I felt like doing it by hand would be a little tedious, but not overly cumbersome. I worked on it while listneing to some audiobooks, and it only took a few hours, spaced out over a couple of days.

Ike seems to like it well enough. Eventually he'll recognize it as a bedtime object, and it's possible he won't like it as much by then.

07 November 2011

On Pinterest

I know I'm a little late on the Pinterest bandwagon. I resisted for a while. Then I realized that my goals to be a better meal-planner and a more frequent cook would be aided if I just sucked it up and joined Pinterest.

You can follow me, if you like: Follow Me on Pinterest

The great thing is that I've already found so many great meals I want to try! I'm really excited. I'll be heading to yonder grocery store tomorrow, and I've got a great week of meals on the docket:
Avocado sandwiches
Citrus black beans with rice
Carrot ginger coconut soup
Sweet potato quesadillas

Feel free to stop by any time you'd like. I can't guarantee any of this will be good - besides the avocado sandwiches, which are tried and true for us - but I can at least guarantee . . . Okay, there's nothing I can guarantee that is really appealing. Free food. That's about all I've got. Anyone coming?

(To those who have already checked out my boards. Yes, I realize they are mostly blank. I'm working on it. And yes, I realize that almost all of my re-pins, particularly for recipes, have come from Janssen. I haven't had time to peruse other recipe boards yet. If you think your recipe boards are totally amazing, let me know, and I'll mosey on over.)

06 November 2011

Eleven Months

Last month, I thought Ike would be walking by this month, but I was wrong. He's still acting like he's going to start walking any day. But then again, he may wait a month or two. He's very effecient at crawling.

He finally started waving this month! Usually he does it with his palm facing himself, and it's funny. He also waves when he's generally happy, like when he's eating. I don't know what that's all about. He also does a sign for "all done" when he's done eating. He occasionally says "uh-oh" after purposely dropping something on the floor. The other big thing this month - he got two teeth. They are cute.

Ike loves to go play at the babysitter's house. He's crazy about her kid. He also loves it when I come pick him up. Lately he's really taken on to jabbering as if he's really trying to tell us something. It's adorable, and I can't get enough of it. He also squeals a lot when he's happy, and that's adorable too. It's not a screechy-squeal, just a pleasant squeal of delight. It amuses me greatly when I put him down for a nap and then hear him squealing 10 minutes later. I don't know what it is that makes him so happy, but it must be pretty awesome.

Speaking of squeals of delight - usually when Eric gets home from work Ike is sitting in his high chair having dinner. He is always happy to see his dad, but then his attention gets turned to scarfing down his food. One night this past week Eric got home late and was out of his high chair when Eric got home. Ike was so excited he practically leaped out of my arms as he wriggled and squealed with happiness. Eric beamed all evening.

Ike loves to try to put things on his head. There are a few toys that we have placed on his head, just as a means of playing with him, he now will attempt to put those on his head on his own. Since they aren't really meant to go on his head, they don't stay there long. He also takes my glasses off my face and tries to put those on his head. These things, to me, are just so interesting! When did his little brain start to figure these things out?

He now can actually play his xylophone without throwing the mallet. No melodies yet. (I mean, my child is a prodigy who can play Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto on the xylophone!)

One of the greatest developments this month is his ability and willingness to laugh more readily. We do not have to coerce him to laugh through tickling anymore. It's great fun to strike up a game of peek-a-boo and listen to his giggles. He also still enjoys being tickled and thrown in the air. In the picture below, in order to get a smile out of him, I was prepping to throw him.

He's a perfect baby. I can't get enough of him.

01 November 2011


Aren't you glad it's November? I am.

Sure, October almost always can beat November when it comes to weather. This year's October was especially delightful, despite the bizarre bout of snow we experienced in the second week that totally disrupted our Indian Summer. Besides that odd phenomenon, it was a delightful October with beautiful leaves and perfect weather. And I want to give credit where credit is due, so good job October 2011.

But I do not care one iota about Halloween. It's a holiday I could totally do without. I know that makes me the least fun person on the planet, and I do not care.

Thanksgiving, on the other hand. That's a holiday I can get behind. First of all, it merits at least one day - but usually two days - off of work. October only has Columbus Day to offer, and that holiday only seems to matter to government employees, and nobody cares about them. (Unless we are expecting some great mail from Oklahoma Vital Records, and then we suddenly care a lot about the postal workers and their infinite supply of holidays - but that's neither here nor there.)

Back to Thanksgiving - it's a holiday with treats and goodies like Halloween - but it's also a holiday about real food. It's also a holiday with real meaning and significance, or at least it can be. If we have very little to be grateful for, we can at least be grateful we don't have to work on Thanksgiving, or the day after (for most people).

When Thanksgiving is over, we can officially begin the Christmas season complete with Christmas music, Christmas shopping (mostly online, of course) and Christmas decorating.

November is a month with consistently cooler temperatures but not necessarily a great deal of snow. While I don't love the cold, I can tolerate it. I try to focus on the good aspects of cold weather - hot chocolate, soups for dinner, sweaters, hats, scarves, switching on the fireplace. (We have a gas fireplace that turns on when we flip a switch. It doesn't provide the great smells of a traditional wood-burning fireplace with chimney, but it's still warm and pleasant to look at,and infinitely tidier than a traditional fireplace.) I don't get to enjoy those things much in October, and generally they really kick into full gear in November.

Not to mention the fact that November is my birthday month, so that's always a perk for me too - assuming I do not spend my entire birthday in the car, like I did in 2007 and 2008. (This year my birthday falls a day before we leave on a road trip to the Midwest, so I think I've avoided the Birthday Car Celebration. I also avoided the Birthday Car Celebration in 2009 when we went to Washington for Thanksgiving because Thanksgiving was late that year.)

All in all, November's looking like a good month.

28 October 2011

Perfect Saturday

On Wednesday, Janssen wrote about how she had a perfect day the previous Saturday. I am not kidding when I tell you that I was planning on writing about the same thing. We also had a perfect day on Saturday. Yet again, I am a much lazier blogger than Janssen (who is not a lazy blogger at all), so even though she wrote about this topic before me, I'm still going to write about it now. Besides, my perfect day was different than hers.

First of all, Ike hasn't been sleeping through the night consistently ever since getting some teeth a couple of weeks ago. I think he's just gotten into some bad night waking habits. Blah. So, he had woken up at a few points in the middle of night, and I'm pretty sure I ended up nursing him at about 5 in the morning. (Um, this is not the part where the day was perfect. Not at all.) After that, he ended up sleeping until 8, and that was awesome. So I got up and nursed him, then I handed him off to Eric so I could go back to sleep. Only, I couldn't sleep. I popped out of bed, went downstairs, and told Eric we ought to go on a hike or some such before heading to his parents' house to watch the BYU game.

So, off we went to drive the Alpine Loop. We thought we might be a little late to get the fall leaves (and truthfully we were a bit late), but it was gorgeous!

Then we headed to Eric's parents to watch an astoundingly boring BYU football game.

After the game, Eric and I decided to go on a little hike. We went to Rock Canyon and walked for a while on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.

Then we took Ike back to Eric's parents' house so they could watch him while we went on a date. I had received a gift card to The Olive Garden from work, so that was our restaurant of choice. (I like the restaurant well enough, but good heavens, why is it so crowded? If it weren't for the gift card I'd just assume have gone to anything but a chain restaurant, but that's another post for another day.*) Our food was great, and it was nice to eat out since we rarely do that together these days.
Then we sauntered over (read: nearly jogged) to the Movies 8 theater to see Super 8, which we both really enjoyed, especially for only paying $4 for it. (Why is the dollar theater now $2?)

After that we went back to Eric's parents' house, picked up the kid and headed home.

Perfect Saturday.
*A post that will likely never be written.

26 October 2011

How to Survive a Bad Day

Twice in the last week or so people have blogged about topics that I plan on blogging about. I will not be deterred. I will blog these same topics too!

If you don't read Miss Nemesis, you should. If you do read her but were too lazy to watch the Guy On A Buffalo YouTube videos that she linked to last week, you need to get with it. (Or maybe you didn't think they would be particularly funny. You were wrong. See, second opinion that they are hilarious. Actually, they were sent to me and Eric by our brother-in-law, so there's your third opinion. And Eric makes four. Just watch them, already.) Look, I've even embedded them:

And just to reiterate, I had planned on blogging about the hilarity of these videos before Miss Nem. She's just a less lazy blogger than I am, so she beat me to the punch.

Also, these videos were the only thing that got Ike and me through The First Tooth. It was a beast.

19 October 2011

On Husband Bashing

I'm sure we've all noticed the trend in marketing and media that portrays men as buffoons and women as very clever. Comedians have commented on it, and people whined about it extensively. (Brian Regan has told some very humorous jokes about the stupid husband ads, but I can't find it readily. Too bad.)

One thing I've observed as a married lady is the tendency women have to get together and, well, husband-bash. It's usually fairly good natured, so "bash" may not be the best word. Still, as we sit around and gab, we can usually find that our husbands have a lot in common, and they are things that are easy for us to poke fun of. Things like not being organized, not asking for directions, being messy, being totally absorbed in tv/computers/sports/etc. that they don't notice the children making huge messes, making huge messes themselves, not noticing new hairstyles, and the list could go on. Like I said, these tend to be things that men have in common, so when we get together as women it's easy to point out these things that men (as a whole) don't do so well. And then we chuckle to ourselves about how different men and women are.

So, yes, I've been party to these chats, and I've chimed in about how it mystifies me that Eric doesn't do X, Y or Z in the exact way that I would, and doesn't he realize how much easier his life would be if he just obeyed my every order and changed the baby/fed the baby/washed the dishes/drove the car/etc. exactly like I do.

The only thing is, my husband is actually really awesome at a lot of stuff, and I want to shout from the rooftops that Eric has got some skills.

When women complain about how their husbands aren't good at cleaning, I love to chime in that Eric is great at cleaning! He is super helpful and is often the one who proposes that we do some tidying up around the house. He's really effecient, too.

Eric can cook lots of great things. He's a great help around the kitchen, and I love to cook with him.

Eric notices how I look. He has preferences and opinions about how I do my hair and the style of clothes that I wear. I like that he's willing to give his opinion, particularly when I can't make a decision.

He can do pretty much all the baby-caring stuff that I can do. Nursing, of course, is the lone exception. I do not know how women used to take care of their children when the husbands didn't help as much as they do now. In fact, on the rare occasion when our kid wakes up in the middle of the night, Eric is the one to respond to the cry (when I wake him up and tell him to go take care of whatever Ike wants).

Eric is great at saving us money. He asks for discounts on things like car repairs, and he is a team-player when it comes to budgeting and saving money. I do not know what I'd do with a husband who couldn't control his spending.

My husband is social, and I love that. He's usually the one who suggests we should have people over, and he's the main reason we have been making more friends in our neighborhood.

So next time I'm in a husband-bashing conversation, I'm going to think back on this post and mention a few of the things my husband does well.

17 October 2011

Rock Stars and Parenting

I've seen this little video shared on Facebook about 150 million times in the past few days. I finally got around to watching it today. It's the lead singer of the band The Killers talking about his Mormon faith, and it's a nice little video. I've put it at the bottom so you can watch it if you haven't yet.

I think the thing that really struck me was this short quote about being a parent:
 It's like there's a chamber in your heart that you don't know exists that opens up when you have a baby. You know, it's been such a great experience. I'm overflowing with that love that I didn't know was there before.

Every day when Eric and I are getting ready for bed we talk about how much we love our little guy. I always knew I'd love my kid (and I'm sure I'll love my future kids too), but I never could have comprehended just how much I'd love him.

06 October 2011

Ten Months

My baby is becoming quite the boy! Ike can do all sorts of tricks now like toting around two binkies while he has one in his mouth, finding tidbits of food left on plates that have been loaded into the dishwasher and smashing his fingers in file cabinet drawers.

His babbling has advanced quite a bit this month. In addition to babbling with his mouth shut, (I'm 100% positive the pacifier has stunted his language skills, but I continue to shove it in his mouth anyway.) he also started saying "mamamamababamama" and "dadadadayayadayayaya" this month. Neither of those repeated syllable combos necessarily refer to his favorite people, but they bring us joy nonetheless.

Ike is obsessed with other children. He gets a kick out of just watching them play. Sometimes in the afternoon we will sit outside on the lawn so he can watch the neighbors ride their bikes up and down the street.

He likes to eat whatever the people around him are eating, and he knows if you try to trick him into eating something else. (The kid doesn't have the wits to wave or clap, but heaven help you if you try to feed him Cheerio-like cereal while you are having a grilled cheese sandwich.)

Ike has an affinity for being naked, and loves to make us chase him after diaper changes and baths.

He has learned to dance. And by "dance" I mean bounce up and down whenever he hears music. If he notices that you are observing him, he will stop. If you try to dance to encourage him to dance, he will stare at you like he doesn't know what on earth you are doing.

His favorite toy is a xylophone that Eric got for him at a yard sale this past month. If we want to be honest, the xylophone isn't nearly as interesting to Ike as the plastic xylophone mallet, which he carries around with him and waves in the air with great triumph. He tries to use the mallet to play the xylophone but usually ends up just throwing the mallet.

Speaking of throwing, that is another of Ike's favorite things to do. He throws pretty much anything. Then he goes and picks it up and throws it again. Unless he's angry - in which case he just throws things as soon as you hand them to him.

Ike pulls himself to standing, occasionally stands without support for very short periods of time (about 3 seconds), and walks along furniture (and with the help of foolish grownups who think it's fun to teach him to walk - myself included). I think he'll be walking by the next month's report.

He also loves to climb stairs, but he hasn't figured out how to come down. And if I leave the dishwasher open, he'll climb on the door. The first time he did that and I noticed I said, "Oh, you are doing that thing that all babies do at some point! How clever!"

04 October 2011

Game Day

I'm a reasonably passionate BYU football fan. (Why, yes, yes this has been a rough year so far. No need to rub it in, thanks.) I haven't been to a game in quite a while, but I feel very passionately about one thing about people who do attend the games: choice of t-shirt color.

Is it that hard to wear a t-shirt in either blue or white? Really? You'll shell out heaps of money for your season tickets (or even just one ticket!) but you can't spend another $10 to pick up a t-shirt of the appropriate color at any local grocery store?

There's always those few people in the middle of a sea of blue and white wearing green or yellow, or worse - red. What's with those people? It is something I seriously cannot comprehend.

I understand that in the winter time if you are attending a game in the cold you might just have to wear your coat, and your coat is probably not white or blue. I'll give leeway to for that. But in the middle of the summer, can you not find a white shirt in your wardrobe? It doesn't even have to be a BYU shirt. It just needs to blend in, for crying out loud!

The season ticket holders (i.e. the old people) are the WORST. I don't know what's going on with them. They cause me to scowl with their non-spirited wardrobe choices. And this year, we have plenty to scowl about with the players. We don't need lousy fans to add to our indignation.

03 October 2011

The George Saga

Remember George from last fall? He was our pet praying mantis. (Only, it turned out that he was really a she all along. The odd thing was that Eric knew it from the beginning but just referred to her as a male, so I assumed that she was a male. Then I was quite baffled when she began laying her eggs.)

This year Eric caught a new George. He wasn't as big as the one from last year, and we were pretty sure he was a boy. We had a hard time finding a suitable home for George, but eventually we found a decent vase at a thrift store. We put a piece of cardboard over the top as a lid, and then Eric put a little bottle of Ike's vitamins on top. I, of course, did not realize that the vitamins were there to weigh down the flimsy cardboard lid, and, silly me, I removed the bottle of vitamins at some point when I was giving the vitamins to the baby.Then, the other day I noticed that George was gone. I assumed Eric had let him go that morning. I instant messaged Eric and asked him why he let George go. He said that he didn't let George go and that he must have escaped. Ugh.

That evening Eric found George within about five minutes of coming home from work. He was about eight inches from his vase. It was a huge relief. We found a different object to set atop the cardboard lid. It wasn't particularly heavy, but it was heavy enough. It was the lid to one of Ike's bottles.

Yesterday we were visiting Eric's folks, and Eric's dad found a huge grasshopper in the yard. Eric put the grasshopper in a bag so we could take it home and feed it to George. In the morning I noticed that George hadn't eaten the grasshopper. I assumed it was because the grasshopper was too big. Then I assumed that when Eric got home he would release the grasshopper into the yard, or we could take it to our neighbors across the street who, after seeing George, adopted their own very large praying mantis that they named Bernice.

Later in the afternoon I came into the kitchen to find that George was resting ON TOP of his lid, which was quite askew on the rim of the vase. I thought about putting George back in his vase, but I'm actually pretty freaked out by George. Then I looked around and found the large grasshopper hanging out on my living room floor. I gave him the stinkeye and then took Ike outside to hang out in the front yard with me.

Eric came home from work later than usual. He put George back in his place (this time with no grasshopper to do the heavy lifting of the lid). Then we proceeded to find the grasshopper. He was not where I last saw him, but I spotted him pretty quickly. Eric performed some deftly maneuvers, and we headed across the street to offer the grasshopper as a gift to Bernice.

Only, when we got to the neighbors' house, the neighbor informed us that Bernice had eaten two praying mantises in the last few days and was acting pretty lethargic. Our neighbor had gotten worried that Bernice wasn't doing so well in captivity, so he let her go. He took us to the place in the yard where he'd released her, and we found her diligently working to lay her eggs. Eric then released (and stomped on) the grasshopper.

Yes, there is more to the story.

As we were headed back into our house, I saw another praying mantis. This one was significantly bigger than George. So Eric caught him. I asked him if we would let the Old George go, and Eric said that we would feed the Old George to the New George. And that's what we did. And then we ate dinner.

I never thought I could possibly have so much to say about pet praying mantises.Link

20 September 2011

Since My Last Post

Things I have been up to since my last post:
  • Spent a weekend with my brother and his family in Jackson Hole. My brother, his wife, their three oldest kids and Eric all ran the Old Bill's 5k. Ike won the diaper derby and made it into the newspaper.
  • Workworkwork
  • Made a cake from scratch for the first time ever. (Don't mock, Kiwi friends. You are just jealous you cannot buy cake mix for under a dollar. I can assure you that if you could, you would be lazy too.) It was for Eric's birthday, which was pretty low-key.
  • Workworkworkworkwork.
  • Genealogy - my OWN genealogy. I forgot how much I enjoy it.
  • Sweeping my kitchen floor. Babies are messy eaters.
  • Putting books back on bookshelves. Babies are only good at taking the books off the bookshelves.
  • Going on walks with Eric and Ike.
  • Preparing for a lesson I'll be giving at a genealogy fair to be held in a few weeks.
  • Fielding phone calls from people in my stake who want to use the stake center. (That's my church assignment - Building Scheduler. It's much more time-consuming than you'd guess.)
  • Becoming friends with various neighbors.
Will perhaps attempt to post more regularly.*

*Blatant lie.

09 September 2011

Chase the Soap

This is Ike's favorite bath time game. We find it so adorable that I put him in his swim diaper so that I could film it and share it on my blog.

06 September 2011

Nine Months

The biggest change for Ike in the last month has been his advancement in motor skills. He has transitioned from army crawling to regular crawling. I'm even putting him in a diaper derby (a crawling race) this weekend in Jackson Hole! In addition to his crawling, he pulls himself into a standing position whenever the opportunity presents itself. He has, on rare occasion, taken a step or two with the support of a table or couch, though I think this has been fairly incidental. Today he even stood on his own for a very brief second.

It's become very difficult to change Ike's diaper as he just cannot be still. He just wants to gogogogogogo, even though the vast majority of the things he wants to see are things that he is already familiar with. It turns out the footstool for the glider will never get boring.

Ike's obsession with his father has been rekindled this month. He will go to just about any length to be with his dad. Last night Eric and his dad were in our backyard making landscaping plans, and Ike could see them through the window. He was nearly going berserk trying to get their attention. Considering that as a general rule Ike doesn't make a lot of noise, it was a hilarious scene.

Ike loves to be around other people still, and he is a hoot to have around in church. He especially loves children. This past Sunday he stood on our knees for quite a long time so that he could lean forward better examine the children in the pew in front of us. He may also have attempted to steal some toys.

He doesn't like it when I sweep or vacuum, presumably because that means I am taking away all of the good treats he's been planning to eat. I'm pretty sure Ike's motto is, "Cheerios found on the floor are better than those on my high chair tray."

Ike has become immeasurably more fun in the last month. I don't think I ever would have imagined how much happiness I derive from playing with my little guy.

25 August 2011

The Glorious Magic Eraser or Why My Nephews Haven't Been Banned From My House

I do not know how they managed it, but when they came to stay for a couple of days in July my nephews left a lot of scuff marks on my walls. A lot of them, folks. And in the most bizarre places - like chest-high. How did they do that?

Anyway, soap and water did not work. Scrubbing a lot did not work. I didn't know what to do. How do I make these things go away? Then I remembered that I'd heard great things about Magic Erasers.*

And oh, how magical they are! No more scuff marks! Easily rubbed away.

Plus, I got my bathtub and sinks really clean - cleaner than ever before, probably. I don't think I've ever had so much fun cleaning things.

Which means when my brother called last week to see if they could come visit in November, I was able to tell them that would be fine. I would challenge my nephews to do their worst, but I'm sure they could actually cause a lot of damage. No challenges will be issued.

*I was not paid to say these things about Magic Erasers. And actually, I used the Wal Mart brand, so I guess it's really those that I am praising.

20 August 2011

Working from Home

I've been working from home since the beginning of April. When I made the transition from full-time to part-time, my work was very accommodating but did set forth a couple of expectations.

One is that I still have to go into the office two days per week. I'm actually really glad they require me to do that. For one thing, it gets me out of the house and around adults very consistently. I find that on my at-home days I really do miss adult interaction, and I miss my co-workers whom I quite like. I have a few very good buddies at work, and I'm glad that I still get to see them consistently. Plus, Ike really loves to hang out with the baby-sitter and her kid on those days.

The other plus-side of going to work is that people don't forget about me, which means I always have enough work to do. The only way for me to be able to research for a client is to have somebody else give me client work to do. (I don't have any of my own clients because of my job position.) Going in regularly allows me to communicate better with the case managers about how hefty my case load is, when I'll have certain things finished, and how much work I need. The truth of the matter is that the case managers have a hard time keeping track of who needs work, so being in their presence keeps me closer to the forefront of their minds.

The second stipulation is that I must work twenty hours per week. By going in to the office twice per week I come pretty close to that mark. I usually don't have any problem hitting my twenty hours and have occasionally hit closer to thirty.

As I've been working from home I've developed a few things that really make my work-from-home days more successful. I don't always do all of these things every day, but I find that when I do them I can get a lot more accomplished:
  • Eat breakfast. Also eat a real lunch.
  • Don't go back to sleep during Ike's first nap. (This one entirely depends on the night before.)
  • Wear real clothes. I don't dress up for work - usually jeans and a medium-nice top - so what I wear to the office is what I wear at home as well.
  • Do make-up. I just feel better about myself when I am looking decent.
  • Make a to-do list every day of cases I'll be working on and things I need to finish in that day.
  • Spend Ike's awake time interacting with him as much as possible. Use his nap times to work and his independent play-times to get housework done.
  • Keep the desk and work area tidy. (Everyone can have a good laugh now. Papers, papers everywhere!)
  • Keep in communication with co-workers about major projects, change in protocol, etc. (You would be surprised at how much I miss by only being in the office twice per week.)
Anyone else have tips for working from home?

13 August 2011

On Honest Reviews

In the last few weeks, my friend Janssen posted about a rather lousy customer service experience she had with an online retailer. She then wrote a follow-up post in which she detailed why the first experience was so frustrating and why she felt compelled to write about it. In short:
  • She had only heard very good things about this retailer, primarily through several blog posts written by many different bloggers.
  • Yet when she wrote her bad review for the retailer, several people commented that they had also had bad experiences with the retailer, namely that their clothing was poor quality and also fit poorly.
As Janssen and I chatted online about this incident and the way she handled, I learned that this retailer frequently gives away free clothing to people who are willing to blog about them. The retailer will also sponsor giveaways for the readers of those blogs to have a chance to win a dress. (Apparently the merchant sells mostly dresses.)

I had, somehow, NEVER heard of this retailer until Janssen's post. I'd not read any blogs with rave reviews nor ever had the opportunity to comment on a blog post in an attempt to win a free dress. But apparently I was very much in the minority in that regard.

Still, the whole situation was quite frustrating to me. If that many people find these dresses to be cheaply and poorly made, then why are so many people saying good things about them? Do bloggers not realize that it is bad for their own credibility to endorse a product that isn't particularly good?

Everyone likes free stuff. I get that. But even if you are a person who likes free stuff, you have to see what bad business it is to promote something that isn't any good. First of all, it makes you look like you don't actually care about your readers. If you did, you wouldn't be encouraging them to spend their hard-earned money on garbage. Second, it undermines your credibility as a real-life person. If you endorse something that your readers find out later on is terrible, why should they believe you the next time you endorse another product?

Here are a few guidelines that I follow in my blogging reviews. (And, to be fair, I haven't really been given anything for free in exchange for a blogging review, but maybe I will have the opportunity to implement these guidelines in the future.)
  • If the product was given to me for free in exchange for a review, I will always tell my readers such.
  • If I don't like a product, or if I think the product is over-priced, I will be upfront about that.
  • If I ever say that I like a product, I will say it sincerely. If there are caveats (such as "I like this but I would never pay full price for it.), I will make sure those caveats are clear in my review(s) of the product.
Are there other guidelines I should add? Is it really that hard to give honest opinions of products, even if the products aren't that great?

08 August 2011

Eric Humor

We get a lot of door-to-door salesman in our neighborhood. I'm kind of ready for winter so they will go away. One time Eric answered the door to somebody selling lawn care services. Eric told the girl that we didn't need any, thanks. She looked at our yard and then looked back at Eric and said, "Are you sure?" That was pretty rude. (Although our yard isn't really top notch.)

Tonight somebody came by, and I listened to a conversation that went like this:

Salesman: Hello, are you the man of the house?
Eric: Yes.
Salesman: Okay, I'm with Suchandsuch Pest Control, and...
Eric: I'm just going to go ahead and stop you right there. We're really not interested, but thanks for coming by.
Salesman: Okay, so do you already have pest control services you are working with?
Eric: No, we just like bugs.
Salesman: Okay, have a great night!

I thought I was going to die of laughter. But the thing is some of our neighbors have told us that they've seen black widows and brown recluses around their homes. I've also noticed a number of spiders in our garden as I've watered and weeded. I mentioned this to Eric, and he replied, "We can't afford to not get bitten by spiders."

Then, later we watched Man On Wire, a documentary about a French dude who tight-rope walked/danced/partied between the twin towers in the 1970s. It's a moderately interesting story, but the French people were just so obnoxious. We could barely stand to listen to them, particularly the main guy. When the movie was over, Eric said, "I wish Germany would invade France again."

So there you go. My husband is funny.

06 August 2011

Eight Months

It's been a busy month for Ike. He army crawls now, and has been basically since a day or two after the Seven Months post. He also regularly sits up on his very own. In fact, he managed to sit up on his own several times before Eric or I ever actually witnessed the transition. We would leave him lying down and come upon him sitting up, and we knew that he had to have done it on his own, but how?

Now that he army crawls so well he is almost always on the move. He loves to follow me around and pull on my pant legs or bump his head against my legs until I pick him up. It might sound annoying, but it's really quite adorable.

With that said, he's really not a needy child at all. He can entertain himself for very long periods of time (like 30 minutes sometimes). Every now and then he'll babble to me, and I'll give him verbal confirmation that he's having a lot of fun, and then he's off on his own again.

He likes his toys well enough, but his favorite things are the things that are not toys - computer cords, pens and markers (with lids on, of course), paper, wall outlets, rubber bands, safety pins, cell phones and any other non-toy item he can find. Fortunately he is too little to cause much destruction, so far.

Ike still loves people. He doesn't mind being passed around at parties, and he's as observant of people as he's ever been.

He's become quite attached to Tobias, his sock monkey with a Santa hat. (One of these days I will take that hat off of him and sew on a more appropriate year-round hat. But not so far.) Tobias is his bedtime buddy, and he and Ike have developed quite a friendship.

Ike has yet to try a food he doesn't like. That includes pretty much all baby foods plus some regular foods, including pickles. He didn't even make a funny face when I fed him a bit of pickle the other night. Although he wasn't a huge fan of root beer.

I have finally hit a point where I am not waiting for Ike to be older. I am thrilled with his level of interaction, how cuddly he is, how excited he is to see me or Eric and how much he loves life. He still spits up, but everything else that is awesome about him makes up for that minor detail.
LinkHis eyes have not settled on a color. They vary from gray/blue to green/brown almost daily. We will have to see what finally becomes of them.

28 July 2011

Review: Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein

I don't think you could ask for a more thought-provoking book than Cinderella Ate My Daughter. I had heard an interview with Peggy Orenstein (the author) on the Diane Rehm show back in January, so it had been on my to-read list for a while. Technically, it was Eric who heard the interview and alerted me to it. He was so interested in the topic that I went and listened to the interview from the website. Since then we'd talked often about the book and the interview with other people, despite the fact that neither of us had read the book. When I saw it at the library on display, I snatched it up.

The premise is that the author found her pre-school aged daughter totally obsessed with princesses, and she began to investigate the princess phenomenon. As she did so she learned a lot about the what this girlie-girl trend is doing and promoting. With that said, she doesn't go on a rampage against all things girlie, nor does she necessarily despise all the Dinsey princesses. She is not a militaristic feminist. However, she does worry that the princess craze, and its inherent emphasis on beauty, can have a long-term negative impact on our girls.

She writes at length about the Disney girl-stars turned wild (Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and particularly Miley Cyrus). What is it that turned these girls from fairly innocuous icons for girls aged 6-10 into sex icons? Why did they appeal to their sexuality in order to distinguish their careers as no longer targeted only at little girls?

Along with that, she talks about the idea that "kids are getting older younger." That is, toys that used to be targeted at 8-12 year-olds are now targeted at 3-4 year olds (Barbie, for example). The problem, of course, is that the toys the older girls want when they are too cool for Barbies tend to be fairly sleazy and rather inappropriate for their age (Bratz dolls, and Miley Cyrus, for examples).

Her discussion on self-image was also really fascinating, and I could never do it justice. You'll just have to read it yourself.

In talking about how hard it is to find books with good messages and good female characters she finds that many pro-girl books are anti-boy. Ultimately the protagonist girls decide they didn't want a boy at all; they're better off alone. She writes:

To me, that is Thelma & Louise all over again. Step out of line, and you end up solo or, worse, sailing crazily over a cliff to your doom. I may want my girl to do and be whatever she dreams of as an adult, but I also hope she will find her Prince (or Princess) Charming and make me a grandma. I do not want her to be a fish without a bicycle; I want her to be a fish with another fish. Preferably, a fish who loves and respects her and also does the dishes, his share of the laundry, and half the child care. Yet the typical "feminist alternative" to the marry-the prince ending either protrays men as simpletons or implies that the roles traditionally ascribed to women are worthless. (p. 101)
What I really loved about this book was how she talked about having chats with her own daughter about why certain toys, books and movies were not things she would buy. Of course there were plenty of items in which she just took a hard line and said "no." There were some things that she bought figuring that her daughter would eventually grow out of that phase. But mostly, she did her best to ask questions about certain characters, themes and messages. After taking her daughter to see The Princess and the Frog her daughter had questions about Lotte, the white "princess" in the film. Orenstein describes:

[. . .] but Daisy's mix-up gave me the opening I needed to talk with her ("with" being the operative word) about the way the film had presented girls and women, to solicit her own ideas about it. That, in the end, is the best weapon we parents have, short of enrolling our daughters in one of those schools where kids knit all day [. . .]. We have only so much control over the images and products to which they are exposed, and even that will diminish over time. It is strategic, then - absolutely vital - to think through our own values and limits early, to consider what we approve or disapprove of and why. (p. 182)
I loved that. We can't force our values on our kids, but we can show them what matters to us and why. And force doesn't do a lot of good anyway - they eventually will have to decide for themselves what they value, and hopefully it will be the right things.

Peggy Orenstein, Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2011).

26 July 2011

On Comparing

Why do we (women particularly) compare ourselves to others? I do not have the answer to that, but I've been wondering about it for quite some time.

As we prepared to move to our new house I found myself in a fairly frequent state of worry, particularly about how I would fit in with my new ward and new neighborhood. We moved to an area that is filled with people very similar to us. There are tons of young families and young couples. This resulted in me having a bit of social anxiety as I thought about the prospect of being surrounded by women who were better than me. After a few days of this I realized I just needed to knock it off.

Since then I have really come into a comfortable phase. I'm not the most beautiful person. I'm not a fantastic writer. I'm not particularly fashionable. I'm not the most generous person. I'm not a great decorator. I'm not especially gregarious. I'm not a dynamic public speaker or teacher. I'm not into yoga or pilates or dance or running or Zumba. I'm not very good at baking. I'm not Molly Mormon.

And that's okay.

And it's okay that I'm better at some things than other people. It doesn't make me better than them - it just makes me better at that particular thing.

As I've thought about all this, I've really tried to decide when, if ever, it is okay to compare myself to others. Ultimately, this is my conclusion: If you compare yourself and you feel either inferior or superior, then stop. If you compare yourself and feel inspired, go for it.

Feelings of guilt, in my opinion, have a very short amount of time in which they are productive. Once that time is passed they are only good at creating more negative feelings. Guilt is not in itself a terrible thing. When we've done something wrong (particularly if we've wronged others), we should feel guilt. However, if that guilt doesn't lead us to improve the situation (making restitution with the one we've wronged or changing our actions so that the action which caused the guilt do not return), then the guilt is only harmful.

I'm not saying that we should be complacent in our lives. We shouldn't. It's important to set goals, to achieve and accomplish things, and most importantly to improve our characters. But berating ourselves for not measuring up to some arbitrary standard or belittling ourselves because we aren't the best at everything doesn't actually make us better.

25 July 2011

Review: The Princess Bride by William Goldman

I have not enjoyed a book so much since Eats, Shoots and Leaves, which I read in February 2010. This one just had me smirking, smiling and reading passages aloud to Eric nearly the whole way through.

You've probably seen the movie, so I don't feel the need to elaborate too much on the plot. By its own description, it is a "tale of love and high adventure." It's also incredibly clever and witty.

Having seen the movie many times I anticipated that I would consider the book to be superior. It almost always happens that way; you rarely hear the phrase, "Oh, the movie was so much better." In this case, I don't know that I prefer one over the other. The adaptation to film was perfect. The scenes that were altered from the book's original story were done in a manner that was better suited to film. Yet they still stayed quite close to the original book.

There were numerous portions of the book that were basically put straight into the movie, particularly with the dialogue, and I loved those portions because I could really hear the voices and accents and intonations in my head.

I also love that the book provides great background on all the protagonists - Buttercup, Westley, Inigo and Fezzik. I particularly loved learning more about Inigo and Fezzik, who are easily my favorite characters.

My favorite part, though, is the fact that the book (though the image I found for the cover doesn't show it) is generally subtitled: Based on the Classic by S. Morgenstern. Goldman acts as though he's adapting a work written by another, when in fact the whole book is entirely his. (Morgenstern is a pseudonym.) Because of this the book is full of his own italicized comments and personal stories, and they are as funny as can be.

22 July 2011

The First Ever L. Family Rubber Duck Race

This is my father-in-law. He is a super fun guy. He works at BYU and on a walk one day noticed some BYU students having a rubber duck race in the stream that runs along the southwest hill of BYU campus. He decided this was something the L. family needed to do. So he and Eric spent a lot of time planning the purchasing of ducks. There were monster ducks, professional ducks (a doctor, a pilot, etc.), international ducks (Japanese, Scottish, German and Spanish), fairy tale ducks, animal ducks (horse, tiger, etc.), military ducks, and a few other sets of ducks. All in all they ordered 36 rubber ducks from some website.

We drew names as a family, putting the kids' names in one cup and the adults' names in another, to see who would pick first. (To be fair, we let the two two-year-olds have first dibs in order to decrease the chance of complete melt-downs if they didn't get the ducks they wanted.) Each kid picked a duck, then each adult picked a duck. Then we did it again. We then headed up to BYU to start the races.

We originally planned on doing one long race, but we decided early on that several short races would be better, and it was. Although the ducks started in a nice little clump, they very quickly strung themselves out. The ones at the back had no chance of winning. By doing several shorter races we were able to allow several people to win.

As you can see, the ducks really spread out along the way. Some ducks were consistently decent (Ike's fireman duck did well pretty much every race), and some ducks consistently got bogged down and stuck (most notably, Grandpa's grandpa-themed duck).

While we walked along, the kids cheered for their ducks, and we did our best to keep the ducks from getting stuck in jetties, waterfalls and small whirlpools. Some of the kids were more enthusiastic than the others. One of my nieces named her duck by her very own name and was repeatedly heard shouting, "Come on S--! You can do it S--!" Other kids did not understand that "stuck" meant your duck could not possibly ever in a million years get out of their spot. They thought "stuck" was when your duck slowed down and was being passed by other ducks. Nonetheless, nobody was so competitive as to ruin the day with sticking to the rules so specifically.

The stream is the perfect speed for a nice stroll. Nobody had to run to keep up with their ducks or to catch a duck that had taken off too abruptly. Much of the walk is shaded, which was nice, although some of it is in the sun. I think next time we ought to do the race either in the morning or the evening because it was fairly hot, and everyone was quite thirsty by the end.

All in all, it was a very fun event - for everyone, except maybe the two babies who didn't care at all.

06 July 2011

Seven Months

I actually feel like Ike's development from the six-month mark to this one has not been as significant as other month-to-month changes I've seen. He is still a delightfully happy baby. At a wedding reception the other night one of Eric's aunts said she had never seen him cry. (I told her to just wait until the family reunion coming up.) He loves to stare at people and makes for some great entertainment for the folks behind us at church.

He is crazy about his exersaucer, which until his lay-off I'd kept at work. Now he plays in it at home, and his love for that thing hasn't waned in the least bit.

He sits up a bit on his own now, and that's nice. He usually will only sit up if I set him up; he's not remotely interested in getting to the sitting position on his own. He's perfectly content to roll around on the floor playing what whatever he can find.

Since taking him to the sitter's twice a week he has really started to babble - I think watching the sitter's kid encouraged him to do that.

When Eric gets home from work, Ike just kicks and wiggles with all sorts of excitement. Of course, he does the same thing when he sees the light in the stairwell, so who's to say that Ike really likes his dad all that much? (He does.)

He is a great little sleeper and a great nurser. He still likes to eat solid foods well enough but sometimes he insists on nursing instead. Since that is faster, cleaner and less work for me I pretty much always let him nurse when he rejects the solids. Since I started feeding him solids he really understands now when everyone around him is eating, and he always wants to take part. Pretty much any time I feed him he makes a sour face initially and then opens his mouth asking for more. It's adorable.

I thought he would be crawling by this point based on how much rolling and moving about he does on the floor. A month ago he acted like he was going to crawl at any second, but he didn't make a lot of progress in that front this month. I'm perfectly fine with that. Crawling babies are much more destructive than rolling ones.

05 July 2011

Bad Witness

Last week, this happened:That's not our car, but that is our driveway. The car is our neighbor's, and the fire started spontaneously. Somehow as the fire started the car began rolling slowly forward and continued until the front tire exploded. Nobody was injured, but the car was totaled (obviously). We only knew about the fire because the boom from the tire explosion was so loud Eric had me pause the movie we were watching to find out what was going on. Then he shouted at me to get the camera.

But this post isn't really about the car on fire. It's about what a terrible witness I would be. Here's the thing, as we went outside, we saw many other neighbors gathering on the sidewalk to watch the spectacle. At that point, we didn't know whose car it was. Since it was right next to our house, people assumed it was ours, but we told them it wasn't. People then asked if it belonged to the Cook* family who live immediately to the north of us. I told people that I didn't think it was theirs. In fact I said, "Well, the Cooks have a similar car, but theirs is a two-door, and that one's a four-door, so I don't know whose that is."

You're thinking, "Hey, Sherry, don't sweat it. The Cooks park their car in the garage every day, and you spend most your time in your house anyway. You aren't expected to know the make and model of all your neighbors' cars." Only, the thing is, the Cooks DON'T park that car in the garage every day. They park it in the street along the curb. I work from home three days a week. The office faces the street. Therefore, I had stared at the car countless times while spending time in the office. And I still didn't recognize it as the neighbor's car when it was on fire.

And that is why I would make a terrible eye-witness.

*Name has been changed.

30 June 2011

The House

I have finally gotten to the point where I feel like my living/dining/kitchen area are presentable enough that I took pictures and am sharing them with you. For those of you who've been dying to see my house, besides just a stairwell, here it is:
This is obviously the living room. We love the fireplace, but I'm still not sure what I'm doing with the mantle. I like the framed pictures that are currently above the mantle, but not nearly enough to poke holes in my wall to hang said pictures. We could also really use some sort of nice box to store Ike's toys in this room. One day I'll find something I like to fill these voids.
We got this table and chair set off of KSL Classifieds for $125. Take that! We have finally sent our card table and folding chairs to the basement.
Yeah, that wall needs something more than what it's got as well. We're making do with what we have. Pictures on the walls are not a huge priority for me.
I will never be able to express to you how much I love my cabinets.
And here's the view from the kitchen.

28 June 2011

Bed and Breakfast

We moved into our house March 26. The next day, Eric's brother's family came to stay with us for two nights. (Eric's parents were in house-transition at the time, so it wasn't possible for Eric's brother's family to stay with them.) After that, my brother and his family came to stay with us for one night. Then toward the end of April Eric's sister came to stay with us for a couple of nights with her little boy. In May my brother and his wife came again, this time for the U2 concert, so only his two older kids were with him. This week my brother is coming again (just with his wife this time). The next day my sister will arrive for a fun stay. Right after that Eric's two older brothers are coming into town, and the one who stayed with us in March will stay with us again. Then my brother will be in town again. It sounds like more than it is when I lump it into one paragraph like that, but I like to be dramatic, so there you go.

Having a house is fun! I feel totally inept at hosting, though. I really don't do breakfasts. (The idea that I will get up and cook breakfast for people is actually quite laughable. That's Eric's forte.) Plus, I'm unaccustomed to cooking for groups and doubly unaccustomed to cooking for children. Will people be satisfied with food I have to offer? Will the beds be adequate? The spare beds came from Eric's parents' house and are all without bed frames. (They will soon return to Eric's parents' house, by the way.)

I know that most guests are probably not picky. They came to visit (or maybe visiting was just a perk on their list of errands they are doing while they are in town), so they are happy with any accommodations. But I still feel totally inadequate as a hostess.

What sorts of things do you do to get ready for guests? What sorts of things do you wish people would do for you? People who are coming to stay or who have stayed with us, what sorts of things should we do (or should we have done differently) to be better hosts?

All suggestions welcome.

(Please don't get me wrong! I do not want this to be a diatribe against guests! We love to invite ourselves to go visit people, and we love having visitors. I just don't feel like I really know the ins and outs of being a good hostess.)

26 June 2011


I've been wanting to grow cilantro for ages. I use a ton of it in cooking, and Eric and I both love it. I started growing it without even bothering to read about it online or even asking people who know a lot about gardening.It started out great, and has continued to do well. So excited to just start picking the leaves right off the plant!