Thursday, December 31, 2015

Afghans 2015

I have been crocheting nonstop since March and have created quite a few afghans, totes, and other items since that time. My grandma taught me to crochet when I was a kid, my mom retaught me about ten years ago, and she retaught me yet again this go around. It's been a lot of fun finding patterns to create, choosing colors for people, and having something to do in my down time. Since I started so early, I didn't really feel stress to finish anything until I decided last minute to crochet an afghan for Steve. I neglected my house and Matt (not really, but kind of) until I finished it.

I thought about taking a month-long break from crocheting before starting up on this year's crop of gifts, but my fingers are already itching to start on some patterns my cousin gave me for Christmas.

Here are the blankets I made this year. I wish I was a better photographer so you could see better just how nicely they turned out. I tried to put the pictures in the order I made them, but Blogger was being weird and I didn't want to figure out what was happening.

I gave this to Steve...obviously. It was a lot of fun to make, once I figured out the mistake
from the blog from which I got the pattern. It took a long time to make because I wanted it to be wide
and tall enough for Steve to fit under comfortably. I really like how it turned out.
I used Red Heart yarn so it's thick and very warm. It was my third-to-last blanket.

Steve was just as surprised to see Matt's mini-me blanket as he was to see his own.
It's cute that they have matching afghans. Matt loves it...although not as
much as the blanket my mom crocheted him when he was born. *smile*
I used leftover yarn from Steve's blanket, so it's the same kind. It was
my second-to-last blanket.

This one was the first afghan I ever made. It was for my brother Corey's birthday.
It was made with four strands of yarn; white, black, red, and gray; that I held at the same time, so it's
thick and warm. I used Red Heart yarn.
I wish now that I would have made it a little bigger, but it is a good lap blanket.

This is the second afghan I made and is a Christmas present for my stepmom Paula.
I used Caron yarn and it turned out so soft and silky. It was a simple design but elegant and comfy.

This was the third blanket I made. I gave it to my mom for Christmas.
Again, I used Caron yarn - five different colors - and it is quite soft but warm.
This is the most complex blanket I made and the longest to make. Also my favorite.

This is the last afghan I made and it was for my sister-in-law Jenny's birthday.
It was converted from a baby afghan...I just made it wider and longer. I
couldn't find the right kind of yellow in the softer Caron yarn, so I used
Red Heart yarn. I love this yellow and would have been happy to keep it. :)

I made this one for Steve's stepmom Janie. It is a take on granny squares but instead
of doing lots of little granny squares, it's just one big round.
I was crocheting Paula's afghan when we visited Janie and Ron in Oregon, and
Janie mentioned that she'd like a pink blanket and a blue one for Ron. So, that's what I did.
This was used with thicker, coarser Red Heart yarn but the pattern made it so lacy that
it turned out quite soft. It was my fourth blanket.

I decided to make Ron an afghan to match Janie's but in blue, as per her request.
I used Red Heart yarn again but this time used a smaller needle than the pattern directed
so it turned out tighter, less lacy. I like it better an wish I would have done Janie's the same way.
It is afghan number 5.

Friday, December 18, 2015

My Tough Guy

Yesterday, while working out on the treadmill, a gym employee approached me and told me I was needed in the daycare. Usually this means Matt has a poopy diaper that needs changing. This time, it meant he needed his mama.

From what the daycare worker told me, he and his best buddy, Kempson, had run at each other wielding doll-sized plastic cars. Only those two know what their intent was; the result was Matt being slammed with the toy right on his kisser. His front teeth bit into his upper and lower lips causing blood to flow everywhere. Face wounds always bleed more than is warranted, so at first I didn't realize how badly he'd been hurt. As the blood slowed, I saw the scuff mark on his chin, the raspberry between his nose and lips, and some deep cuts on his lips.

What a smile!
It took about 15 minutes to calm him down, and once he was calm, he wanted to go home. So, I packed up my stuff to leave. Unfortunately, home wasn't our destination. We had dropped my mom off at her physical therapy session (knee surgery a couple weeks ago) and needed to pick her up shortly. So, we stopped by Dad's work to show him what had happened to his little buddy. Matt screamed bloody murder because he wanted to go home...NOT to Dad's work or to Grandma's house. So, I popped a sucker in his mouth and he was good to go. I asked him if it hurt his mouth...I know it had to because it opened up the wound and he started bleeding again...but he said no and refused to stop sucking on it. At least it made him happy.

I could tell his mouth hurt him yesterday, even after I gave him some pain medicine, but he was still a cheerful little guy. He's just like that. It's hard to get him down for long. Today, when the above picture was taken, he's practically back to normal. He hates it when I put Vaseline on his lips but he lets me because I told him it will help his lips get better.

Steve warned me to get used to this happening. A friend told me her oldest son bit clear through his lower lip TWICE.

Heaven help me and all other moms of little boys.

It's a good thing I don't drink.

Thank God for chocolate.

Julie :)

Thursday, December 03, 2015

I'm still here...

...I promise!

When I quit Facebook, I decided to blog more. I still intend to, but currently, every free moment I have is spent crocheting a blanket for Steve for Christmas. I didn't start it until a few weeks ago and it's a big blanket so it's taking a long time, especially since I can only work on it when Steve's not around AND when Matt is either sleeping or playing well on his own. The last 5 weeks, I have neglected my housework and my son (not really...I just don't play with him nearly as much), but I'm almost done with it, thankfully. However, I have enough yarn left over that I came up with the idea to make Matt a smaller version of Steve's afghan, so I will be crocheting like mad for a couple more weeks.

When both blankets are finished, I'll post more frequently. And clean my house again instead of paying my niece and nephew to do it like I did last weekend.

No regrets. Worth every dollar. :)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Raising a Boy

Lord, I'm not sure I'm cut out for raising a boy. My heart isn't strong enough.

A little over a week ago, I made grilled cheese sandwiches. Matt has a stool/tower he uses to watch me and help me cook. I pushed it away from the electric grill but not far enough. I had told Matt it was hot, hot, hot and not to touch it, but he either didn't understand or didn't care. He smacked his hand down on it for just an instant. The look in his eyes as he realized the pain just about broke my heart. I grabbed him, cared for the burn (only first-degree, thankfully), and loved him until he was calm. By the time he woke up from a nap, he was fine; his hand was just a little red and swollen. By the next day, it was as if he'd never been burned. We were fortunate; it could have been worse. I learned that he has to be even farther away from heat sources - the boy is getting so big!!!

Today, he was in his crib for quiet time while I prepared grilled cheese sandwiches. Yes, the same meal. I might have to stop making this accursed lunch! Anyhoo, Matt was playing with cars, happily chatting away. Just before I put the sandwiches on the grill, I heard a loud thump from his room followed by him crying hard. I ran into the room and saw blood coming out of his mouth. My heart stopped for a beat or more. I grabbed him and applied a tissue to his mouth, trying to see where the blood originated. He cried and cried until I put a cold, wet washcloth on the inside of his lip, which was slowly puffing up. Once the blood stopped, I could see two teeth marks on the inside of his lip. He must have fallen and hit his mouth so hard that his teeth bit into his mouth. And you know how bloody face and mouth wounds can be. Matt soon felt just fine, especially when Steve came home. He ate lunch without a hint of mouth pain. Whew.

When I told Steve what had happened, he said, "Matt's a boy. He's going to get hurt." Oh great. I know it's true and my heart can't handle it. And he's only TWO!

Wish me luck.

Julie :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why I Quit Facebook

Recently, my church put out a statement that has created some uproar. When I heard about it, my first thought was, I'm so glad I don't look at Facebook any more so I don't have to see everyone's opinions about this.

I joined Facebook to reconnect with a college roommate I hadn't seen in years. I had no other way to get a hold of her. A friend suggested Facebook, so I finally caved and joined. At first, I enjoyed it. I read about the lives of people I rarely or never get to see. I was able to share events in my life easily (too easily??) to lots of people.

Slowly, my news feed contained less pictures, stories, and life events and more articles that "perfectly expressed" the opinion of the person who shared it. Articles about politics, religion, parenting, lifestyle choices; not all negative but certainly not all positive either. The negative ones always left a black hole in my gut, especially when shared by someone I really care about. And almost every article had its share of negative comments that disagreed with the contents, and sometimes, the commenters became quite nasty and mean.

I unfollowed people. I thought about unfollowing almost everyone but really close friends and family. Turns out, that may not have been an option. My friend started unfollowing a huge amount of her friends. FB issued her several warnings that she was abusing the "unfollow privilege". She ignored them and was eventually blocked from unfollowing anyone!!

I chose to quit FB.

There is a sense of peace that comes to me from not having other people's opinions bombarding me on a "news feed" continually. I get my news from fairly credible news sources (I say "fairly" because I'm not 100% convinced of the media's ability to be impartial or unbiased) so it's not like I'm an ostrich with its head in the sand and having no clue what's happening around it. The difference is that I get the news without all the commentary and opinions and arguments from every Tom, Dick, and Jane. There is so much negativity in the world without me welcoming it into my life by the negative views that routinely showed up on my FB.

Now, I have to reach out to people to find out what's happening in their worlds, to make a little effort instead of just pushing the FB app button on my phone. I email, text, call, and even write the occasional letter to connect with my loved ones. When was the last time you received an email from someone?? An email that was just them telling you about their lives and asking about yours? I bet you can't even remember when someone sent you a letter. I can because I have a wonderful mother-in-law that sends us handmade, hand-written cards once a month. They are lovely to receive. I can't remember the last email I received that wasn't from a business, school, city, or a comment on my blog.

It is sometimes said about science, "just because they can, doesn't mean they should".

Nowadays, everyone has a voice, an outlet to express their opinions about every little thing in this world. It's not a bad thing. Heck, I have a blog partly to express my opinions, to have a voice. It's empowering and special. The problem is that people haven't learned to shut up. There are some things that don't need to be said, especially to everyone on FB. Just because you can, doesn't mean you always should. And so, since there is too much chatter and too little restraint, I choose to be a lot more selective.

I don't foresee going back to FB any time soon, but if I do it will be with a very short friends list.

Thank you for putting up with my FB rant. I promise to be more carefree and happy in my next post.

Julie :)

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Snow Day

There's always something magical about the season's first day of snow. In May when it snowed, I grumbled and groaned, but six months later, and I'm loving it.

From our front steps

The loving could also be contributed to what I'm eating and drinking as I sit on my comfy red sofa and watch the snow tumble down outside. Last night, I made an apple crisp that was divine. Those of you who know me well know that I'm not a fan of apple pie or crisp or anything with baked apples. You can imagine Steve's surprise when I announced that I was baking an apple crisp. It was a spur of the moment inspiration caused by returning home from grocery shopping, opening the fruit drawer, and finding several bags of apples of indeterminate ages. I knew that one bag I had purchased last contained 4 apples...the rest had one, two, or even three apples and I had no idea how old they were. So, I took the 6 apples and tested them for hardness. They were still firm but also a little soft. I knew I wouldn't eat them as is, but they weren't bad so I didn't want to throw them out. I don't do pie crusts (someday, maybe, but not now), so I hopped on Pinterest and found an apple crisp recipe that looked good (i.e. had a lot of the crumble on top).

Oh, the smell that permeated our kitchen as the crisp cooked! I may not be an apple pie lover, but I've always loved the smell combination of apples and cinnamon. The crisp was delicious, even without the recommended ice cream or whipped cream. Yep, even I liked it. This afternoon, after putting Matt to bed, I'm indulging in reheated apple crisp leftovers and am a happy girl. Especially because I'm also sipping on hot apple cider. Mmmmmm. I'm a huge apple cider fan.

Hot apple cider + warm apple crisp + comfy red sofa + sweatpants and comfy sweater + snowing outside + toddler in bed = a really wonderful moment for me


I hope that wherever you are, you're as happy and comfortable as you can possibly be.

Julie :)

Monday, November 02, 2015

Halloween 2015

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone had a fun, safe holiday. We had a fun time and actually had festivities two days instead of just one. Lucky us!

We started by going Trunk-or-treating at my dad's church Trunk-or-treat. For those of you who don't know, trunk-or-treating consists of people handing out treats from the back of the vehicles in a parking lot, usually a school or church, to the costumed kids. I guess it started as a way for kids to safely trick or treat to people they knew or something like that. A lot of the churches around here do it, but ours wasn't and it was a good time to see my dad, so we went. Here's us:

Cleopatra, SUU football player, and Julius Ceasar
Steve and I decided that next year, we're choosing warmer costumes...we were pretty chilly and the weather wasn't even as bad as it could be for this time of year.

Matt had no clue what was happening. The costumes kind of freaked him out at first and he didn't want to carry his pumpkin or walk on his own. I had been working on getting him to say "Trick or Treat" all day but he had been pretty unenthusiastic. We walked past a bunch of cars, looking for my dad. When we found him, I had Matt say the magic words. He hesitated, but finally muttered something resembling them. HIs eyes lit up when Grandpa put candy into his pumpkin! Whoa! We chatted with Grandpa for a bit, then found my step-sister and her two girls and went around to cars with them for a bit. Matt's "trick or treat" got more hearty with every car as the candy poured into his bucket. He's definitely got his mama's sweet tooth. He also was very generous with the "thank you's" and received quite a few "aaaahhh"s because he's so stinking cute.

We stayed less than an hour before heading to my church's Halloween dinner. As we walked into the building, Steve threatened to leave if he was the only one dressed up. I assured him that most likely, we'd be the only adults dressed up and told him to buck up. Turns out, I was wrong, a couple other adults were also dressed up and several children. There were a couple games for the kids, and Matt loved the fish pond (more candy) but didn't want to get his face painted or do anything else. I'm learning that my little man is a little timid. I'm okay with this. We ate chili, corn bread, and salad then headed home because Matt hadn't napped and was getting ornery. It was time to get him his milk, relax a bit, put him to bed, and then collapse for the rest of the night.

The next day, we did a couple things around the house before setting off to buy a new dining room table. I won't go into why in this post, maybe later. We came home and got ready to go tailgating at the SUU football game with my dad and Paula. I really enjoy tailgating. We keep it really simple - hot dogs/brats, veggies, chips, fruit, and a dessert. We got there around 12:30, a little before Dad, and bought some SUU sweatshirts in case the game was chilly. Dad arrived around 1pm and we just hung out and ate for a couple hours. My niece Brooke was dancing with her dance school, so we got to watch her. Her parents had left for the Utah football game and her brother was hanging out with friends, so we invited her to eat with us and to go to the game with us. She did. I also saw my old boss, Eric, and his wife at the tailgating party. His daughter was dancing. I couldn't believe how old she was!! It was good to see them and to chat a bit. The years I worked for him were some of my best work years.

The game started a little slow but picked up and became a fun game to watch. It was soooo warm, though! We had all dressed for chilly weather, so it was a little uncomfortable. SUU maintained a lead the whole game but there were a few tense times when we thought they'd lose. They ended up winning - Yay!

We left the game a little early (after the 3rd quarter) because we were all getting hungry, especially Matt, and I had made a soup in the crock pot earlier in the day. Dad had church meetings to get ready for and Paula wanted to see Macey off on her Sadie Hawkins date, so it was just us and Brooke for soup. I had also wanted to leave a little early because it was prime trick-or-treat time. I love, love, love handing out candy to trick-or-treaters and seeing their costumes. So, the rest of the night, we just hung out and handed out candy. Steve took Brooke to her Halloween party around 7pm, we put Matt to bed around 8pm, and then sat out on our driveway to pass out candy to lower the chance of waking Matt. Just before 9pm, we packed up our chairs and candy and headed inside. The number of kids had dwindled and we were getting cold. We came inside and had a nice warm mug of hot chocolate. A perfect ending to a nice Halloween.

Next year, I think we'll take Matt trick-or-treating for the first time. I decided that he had received more than enough candy from trunk-or-treating the night before and didn't need more. He's young enough to not realize what he missed.

Julie :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sick Season

The last couple weeks have had some tough moments. Matt, Steve, and I have all been sick once or more during this time period. Ugh. Is there anything worse than having a sick child, especially a little one that doesn't know what is happening?

Second to one's child being sick is being sick oneself while needing to care for said child. That was me yesterday. I have been warding off a cold for awhile now, having just enough symptoms to make me annoyed but nothing so serious as to warrant Steve staying home while I rest in bed. Yesterday, while playing with Matt, I started to feel worse. I rested my head on the couch armrest for a bit, and when I lifted it up, I felt so nauseous I thought I was going to pass out.

I called Steve and asked him to come home. It was a little before 4pm, so at least he'd only miss an hour of work. He came home, I went to bed and stayed there a few hours. I had fever chills and a headache and felt like I needed to vomit but couldn't. I finally was sick and felt well enough to join my family downstairs. Luckily, Matt loves playing with Steve so much that he took it well when I couldn't play with him. He's so irresistible when he says, "Mom, play with me?"

Our normal bedtime routine is for me to help Matt brush his teeth while Steve gets his bedroom ready (window and curtains closed, bed cleared of any toys, etc.). We read a book or two together followed by prayers. Matt then says good night to Steve, and he and I read one more book. I then tell him one of three stories; Three Bears, Three Pigs, or Jack and the Beanstalk; and then sing a few songs to him. By this time, he's usually quite calm but still awake. I put him in his crib and give him lots of kisses. I even let him stall a bit with some of his cuteness before I say a final good night, I love you, and leave the room.

Steve has put him to bed before, but always when I'm away from home. Last night, he tried to do it but Matt knew I was home and wouldn't calm down. Steve brought him downstairs for us to read one story and to say prayers. I sang him the two songs I always sing last and kissed him good night. Steve put him to bed but Matt cried and cried and cried. It was soooo sad. So, I woman-up'ed and went into his room and did our bedtime rituals, feeling like I was going to either faint or puke at any minute. God blessed me with strength to make it through and by the time I made it back downstairs, Matt was asleep. There's just something about Mama, I guess. *smile*

Fortunately, Matt's cold is coming to an end. Whatever I had managed to work its way out of my system around 5:30am after a sleepless last. I feel weak and tired today but better than I've felt for a couple weeks. Steve is also feeling good. We've been sick more often than we've been since having Matt and I realized why last night. I take Matt to the gym's daycare!!

Usually, Matt and I stay at home and are fairly isolated except for the weekly trip to the grocery store and family gatherings. Last Fall and Winter, I attended church without him, so he didn't go to nursery. I know parents take their kids to the gym and to church nursery even when their kids are sick. Not every parent (I don't) but there are some. Matt has never really been exposed like he is now, so he's getting sick more and sharing it with good old Mom and Dad. It's going to be a rougher sick season that we've had in the past, but I think it's going to be a good thing in the long run. I've worried a little about Matt being isolated. Going to the gym and to nursery isn't only just helping him socially, but probably also giving his immune system a healthy workout.

Remind me of that when we're sick next time. I have a feeling it's going to be a long sick season.

Julie :)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Going back to work

I'm going back to work!

Last night, I skimmed through my next Relief Society lesson. For those of you who are LDS, it's lesson 21 from the President Benson manual. I only read roughly half of it and what I took away from it was the importance of work and the blessing received by working.

I've been suffering from a bit of depression lately...okay, for awhile. Nothing too serious but it's been annoying. I get sad for no reason, have mood swings, and am ornery more than usual. I've wondered if I have postpartum depression - can you have PPD two years after giving birth???

Some of the blessings President Benson mentioned: independence, industry, thrift, self respect, vigorous health, praiseworthy achievement, a clear conscience, and refreshing sleep. Sounds great to me! So, I decided to go back to work to see if that will dispel my depression. Heck, it can't make it worse, right?

I told this to Steve this morning over breakfast. He raised one eyebrow (okay, I'm not sure he can actually do that, but if he can, he did) quizzically and asked where I was going to work.

I dramatically swept my arm in an arc encompassing our house, "Here".

Last night, I decided that if I was my boss, I'd fire me. I've really slacked off lately. I'm obviously not the only one who has noticed...not only is my upcoming lesson about work but our Enrichment night was about, among other things, cleaning and organizing our homes!! Try telling me that the Man Upstairs isn't trying to tell me to get back to work.

Using an example given at Enrichment, I've created a weekly chore chart for myself the is totally do-able. Each day consists of two or three tasks that should only take 30-45 minutes, total, to complete (excluding laundry which makes up for its length by its ease). Some days, I even give myself flexibility to choose a project that is a one-time or once-in-awhile chore instead of a weekly chore - cleaning out a closet or cleaning behind the stove, etc.

The lady who taught the house cleaning lesson at Enrichment said something that really struck me. She said that if you love your house, you'll take care of it. I do love my house. It's my home and has felt like my home from the moment we finished unpacking. I don't take care of it, not the way it should be, I mostly just keep it from getting too bad. That's not enough and it's going to change.

Saturdays are bathroom cleaning days, so this morning I woke up and cleaned both upstairs bathrooms. It would have been easy to not do it, since we were invited to play with family, but I did it quickly (but well) and it feels sooo good to have them clean.

I have a testimony of prophets and believe that by following their counsel, I can receive all the promised blessings. I believe that as I follow President Benson's inspired admonition to work, that I will be blessed with self-respect, sleep, good health, a clear conscience, and hopefully relief from the depression I'm struggling under. Even if the depression is caused by untreated PPD or even a chemical unbalance (its hereditary in my family), working can do only good things for me. I know I will be blessed, my family will be blessed...both physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Julie :)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Saturday at the zoo

Steve and I both enjoy zoos and aquariums. Our first date was to the aquarium in Sandy, UT. Ever since, whenever we travel somewhere with a zoo or aquarium, we make sure to go.

I've been wanting to take Matt back to the Hogle Zoo since I think he was too young to appreciate it when we went last year. So, Steve and I picked this weekend to go up. Boy, we were sure glad that Salt Lake didn't get the rain Cedar did yesterday so we could have good weather at the zoo. That said, if it had rained, we planned on going to the aquarium as a backup plan. Fortunately, the weather cooperated and was absolutely beautiful - mildly warm but just cloudy enough to keep from being hot.

We invited my sister-in-law Rachel and her two boys to go with us. My brother is out of town for work or else he would have been invited too, of course. Her youngest is only a few months older than Matt and they play really well together. Her oldest is 7 and also plays well with Matt, who looks up to him a lot. I was really glad they came to the zoo with us.

We started by going on the train. In our experience, the train gets busier as the day goes on, so we always try to get to the zoo close to when it opens and then head right for the train. It has changed a bit since last year - the train now goes around the new Safari wildlife section before going to the mining camp and also has new wild horses. Matt loves trains but was not excited about being on one. He cried a few moments before it started up and I thought I was going to have to get off with him. Thankfully, I was able to calm him down, and once it started, he relaxed and enjoyed himself.

Steve and Matt in the front, Tim and Robbie (L to R) in the back
Just before the train started, so Matt isn't very happy.
After the train ride, we walked around the zoo, naturally. Steve and I had debated about bringing our little stroller for Matt. He's a good walker but when he doesn't want to walk, he wants me, and only me, to carry him. It wears me out. However, when we went for a family walk last week with the stroller, he didn't want to ride in it but to push it. He's a horrible driver. In the end, we took the stroller and had mixed success. He rode in it at times but then it was a bit of a pain to have to keep taking him out of it to lift him up to see the animals. I still ended up carrying him quite a bit. Oh well. At least I'm getting stronger and it's getting easier to carry him...usually.

I don't know if I have a favorite exhibit, but Matt seemed to love the seals and sea lions the most. To my surprise, the inside enclosure for the seals, sea lions, and polar bear was practically empty. Usually, it's packed with people. There were a good number of people at the zoo, but it certainly wasn't a busy day, which we liked. Matt wanted to stay and watch the seals and seal lions for a long time and was kind of irritated when we made him leave. It was also fun to see the lions, which are a new addition to Hogle Zoo. And, since the weather was cooler, a lot of the big cats were up and about instead of sleeping like they usually do in the summer heat, so we were able to see most of them in action.

Okay, so I do have a favorite attraction, but it's not the animals. It's the carousel! Whenever we go somewhere with a carousel, I have to ride it. Steve has always been very gracious about going on them with me even though he doesn't love them like I do. Matt isn't a lover of them least, not yet! My boy is definitely timid when it comes to moving things. I figure he just needs more exposure to carousels and will someday enjoy them as much as me. Or not and will be big enough to refuse to go on them. Then he and Steve can wait for me while I ride. This time, I rode on a hippopotamus, my favorite wild animal. Steve and Matt rode on a bench. Matt refused to ride on an animal, even with me, but he did fine on the bench.

Matt and Steve on the bench before the ride.
Rachel, Tim, and Robbie are behind.

It was a fun morning at the zoo. I had hoped all the walking, sun, and fun would wear Matt out and he would sleep in the car on the 45-minute ride back to Rachel's house, but he didn't. Nor did he take a nap back at the house. Nope, he chose to fall asleep in the car 30 minutes before we arrived back in Salt Lake to go to dinner with some friends of ours that were recently stationed back at Hill AFB. So, he was a grumpy Gus for awhile until he remembered how much he likes the two boys (one teenager and the other a preteen) who are so good with Matt. Then we had fun eating and walking around downtown Salt Lake - with me carrying Matt most of the time. *smile*

When we arrived back at Rachel's, the boys were still awake, waiting for us. Robbie had wanted to play a video game with me and had been disappointed we were gone so long. So, I played Mario Brothers with him for awhile (I'm awful at it) then everyone played around until we finally got the boys to bed. Matt didn't fall asleep until 10pm! Of course, that didn't mean he slept in this morning. Instead, he was awake around 5:30 due to a developing head cold. Poor guy. Fortunately, he didn't sleep in the car on the ride back to Cedar and is having a really good nap even as I type this post.

We had a fun weekend. I'm always grateful for the wonderful people we have in our lives. We are certainly blessed with good friends and family.

Julie :)

Matt and Tim playing with the "water ball" near the zoo entrance.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tender Mercy

Earlier today, a friend brought her two boys for a playdate with Matt. I think everyone had a good time, even though there were a few hiccups because Matt needs to learn how to share his toys.

At one point, I told Sarah a little story about my mom and the tender mercies of the Lord in the situation. Well, after they had left, I thought about what a tender mercy it was to have had that playdate with her and her boys.

Sarah is moving across the country, and I'm equal parts excited for her, jealous of the new adventure she gets to have, and sad that I won't be able to see her for a long time. It's not like we've been living in the same town...not for several years now...but there were always times we were able to get together, even if months separated those times.

Her oldest son is my son's first non-family friend and will always hold a special place in my heart because of that. We have a picture of them laying side by side when they were just a few months old (he's older than Matt by 3 months) that is super cute. I think they'd be bestest friends if they ever lived close enough to spend enough time together.

Anyhoo, it was a balm to my lately mildly-troubled soul to spend time with Sarah today. She's a mom that is in similar circumstances as me; a stay-at home mom with young kids, my age, having been single and childless for a significant part of her adult life. It's funny, but those things make a difference. She can relate to what I'm feeling in a way others haven't been able to because her experiences have been similar. Talking to her, letting out my emotions and feelings, felt good. I hate to say it, but I felt validated for feeling how I do sometimes. (Steve and I mock the contestants on Chopped when they say they're competing in order to feel validated.) Staying at home is my choice, and I make it again practically every day, especially when a job at SUU opens up that piques my interest, but it's hard for me. My brain isn't 100% sure why it's hard, but I struggle with it sometimes. Talking to Sarah, she understood how I felt, understood why I felt that way, and made me feel okay for feeling that way. She even gave me insights as to why that I hadn't even realized.

We talked about lots of stuff, and I could have kept talking to her for hours and hours, like we used to when we were younger and single, but our boys were tired, cranky, and in serious need of naps, so I had to say goodbye. I just hope she realizes how much I love her and how much good being with her did me today.

You know, I don't always love new technology and how it affects human interaction and communication (ugh Facebook!), but I am so thankful for email and blogs and texts and long distance phone calls that will allow me to communicate with her, as well as other friends and family that I love and who don't live close to.

Heck, though, I may start writing letters!

Julie :)
Matt and Daniel - October 2015
How cute that they both wore orange today!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Making Bread

There are few things that make me feel more like the woman I want to be than making bread.

Both my grandmothers made bread and I aspire to be more like them in almost every way. My grandma Norine's rolls were heavenly, and she made the sacramental bread for her church every week for decades. The members of her congregation were blessed indeed to be able to partake of her bread instead of store-bought bread.

I've only recently taken to baking. For many, many years, cooking was more my thing. Cooking doesn't require the same exactness as baking; it's more forgiving and easier for me to experiment. When I was pregnant, I started baking cookies and became addicted. I'd have lost my baby weight a lot faster if I hadn't started to bake. It's not just about eating the cookies; baking is a sort of therapy for me.

Bread is tough for me. I had tried a few times in the past but never produced anything edible. As I've watched more cooking shows and read various recipes, I've gotten better. I make pretty darn good rolls, although not as heavenly as my grandma's. My mom once told me she has Grandma's recipe for rolls...I really need to get that from her! I can also make a really fine artisanal loaf that is super easy and has only failed once; I misread the new measuring spoons and put in 1 1/2 tbs instead of 1 1/2 tsp. Seriously, who doesn't label their tablespoon with a T??? I caught the mistake and was able to remove a lot of the excess salt but not enough. It was still edible but just barely and only when dunked in a lot of soup.

Sandwich bread has been trickier. With every recipe I've tried, white and whole wheat alike, the resulting bread has been quite tasty but not really very good for sandwiches. Store bought bread has a soft texture that makes biting into a sandwich so satisfying. Have I eaten store bought bread so much that I've lost the appreciation for homemade sandwich bread? Or, have I just not found the right recipe? I'm really hoping it's the latter.

Do you have a good sandwich bread recipe that I can try?

Julie :)

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Going to the gym

I fought going to a gym for a long, long time. I always have said that I prefer to exercise outside, which is true. It's so much easier to walk out one's own front door and head for a nice walk or bike ride. Easier, cheaper, nice fresh's perfect.

That was before I had my son. I didn't mind walking in freezing cold, snow, rain, or near darkness (in the summer I used to walk late in the evening when it was cooler), but I discovered that I do not like taking my son out in those conditions, even as he got older. Last winter, we would go for walks around the block when it wasn't too cold or snowy. I enjoyed them a lot but burned about 10 calories. This summer, we started walking the same time Steve left for work, about 7:45am. This worked for a long time, but Matt stopped enjoying being in a stroller and would fight to get out and walk. I thought about waking up earlier to walk Sadie before Matt woke up but struggled to get out of bed. I considered walking in the evenings after Matt went to bed but decided against it because it's the only little bit of time that Steve and I have together.

So, I decided to join the local gym that has a day care. I worried a little about leaving Matt at the day care because he wasn't doing so hot at church nursery. I didn't want to be sweating on the treadmill while my son was miserable and making the day care worker miserable as well. Mostly, I worried about paying good money for the gym and then never going because I have always hated working out at the gym.

To be fair, "always" happened a long time ago...close to 15 years ago. I was mid-twenties and either approaching 300 lbs or had just passed that marker. I felt intimidated and uncomfortable working out with all those gorgeous men and women who had perfect bodies. I didn't know what to do with the weights and tried to figure out the machines. I hated it and stopped going, even though I had paid for a full year.

This time, I took Steve with me when I signed up. I knew I wouldn't let myself be talked into anything if he was around. He has been very supportive of my gym membership, even though it's money we could use else where. He was even supportive when I told him I wanted a personal trainer for 6 months. Talk about expensive! Worth it, though. I like having someone show me how to use the machines and how to do free weight exercises. I feel like I belong in the weights area because I'm doing what my trainer told me to do. She pushes me just the right amount and not more. I like the little tips she gives that makes my workouts more productive and less harmful on tilting my pelvis upward while doing crunches.

Matt still clings to me when I drop him off at day care, but I've learned to sit him by Shondi, the grandma-like day care worker, and he'll be fine. She says that after I leave, he's just fine and plays hard. I know it's true because he's always having a grand 'ol time when I pick him up. I think it's good for him to have regular times to play with other kids. It's even helped him at church nursery. He's so much easier to leave there and the workers have told me he's great as soon as I leave. Having Matt in the day care at the gym keeps me going regularly. I sign him up a week in advance for Monday through Friday and am too lazy to call and cancel it on days I'd rather stay home, so I end up going. I haven't missed a day in over two months!

I know it's good for me to have a little me-time every day. Doing something for myself that makes me feel healthier and happier. It's a refreshing break that helps me get through the morning, which has always seemed to drag on forever until Steve gets home for lunch. Plus, I'm definitely seeing results, slowly. I have only lost 3 pounds (after initially gaining 5, which is common when one starts weight training) in two months, but I've lost inches off my waist, arms, chest, hips, and thighs! My clothes that were starting to be tight are loosening up again. I have more energy and feel really good. And, I don't worry at all about being older and chubbier than most of the people in there. That's one thing I love about aging; my confidence and comfort in my own skin is so much greater than when I was in my twenties. I don't care that I wear my ratty work-out clothes with no makeup and my hair looking crazy while many more (ridiculously so) are wearing cute outfits with their hair done and full face of makeup. To each their own.

The gym is like church, it's for everyone and everyone is at different places in their life. It's for those of us who are trying to reach weight loss goals and it's for others who are already pretty darn fit but who have other goals their trying to reach or are just working on maintaining.

So, I'm quite enjoying going to the gym. I miss walking in the mornings, but now that the weather is cooling off a bit, we'll start going for family walks in the evenings after dinner. And, Matt and I will be able to walk around the block (or longer since he's becoming a really good walker, just like his mom and grandma Susan). It will be good to just have fun walks and to not worry about how I'm going to get in my exercise.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Diamond v Pebble

Last night, I stayed up way too late reading. I didn't stay awake in order to keep reading; I couldn't sleep so figured I might as well read. I came across this Chinese proverb: Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without one. My first thought was, That makes sense. I tried to continue with the story, but I kept thinking about the proverb. In a moment of clarity, I realized that I am more like a pebble than a diamond - taking the flaw part out of the equation. And, I'm okay with that.

It's hard sometimes to not compare myself with the women in my life. Most of them are thinner than me, wear stylish clothes, look great even without makeup, and seem so put together. I still have 35 pounds to lose to get to my pre-pregnancy weight (and am making no progress); I wear loose-fitting clothes that are definitely more comfortable than stylish (not that clothes can't be both, but mine aren't); mascara and facial lotion are the extent of my makeup most days; and now that my hair is long enough, it's usually in a pony tail. I'm usually okay with these choices, until I get around these other women in my life, then I feel like a drudge. It's not their fault and I certainly don't blame them.

While thinking about diamonds versus pebbles, I though about how many members of my family collect pebbles. My mom has dozens on her back patio that she has picked up from all over. Each one is unique in size, shape, color, and texture. My son loves to play with them. Even though I don't collect pebbles, wherever I go, my eyes scan the earth looking at the different rocks, appreciating the variety.

I'm a pebble. It's the choice I make. My husband loves me and thinks I'm beautiful. My son adores me and doesn't think about the clothes I wear, how my hair is done, or my lack of makeup when he cuddles into my plump body or gazes into my eyes with a huge smile. Someday, he'll realize that some of his friends have younger, cuter, thinner moms, but I know he'll still love me because I'm his mama.

I don't need to feel unattractive when I'm around women who are more attractive than me. They may be diamonds or emeralds or rubys or granite, but I'm a pebble and am proud of it. I'm unique. I'm simple. I'm strong and dependable. I'm down-to-earth. I'm beautiful.