Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chloe and Ryan's first argument

As Ryan is becoming more proficient at holding his own, fights between the kids are unfortunately becoming more common.  Normally what sets things off is Chloe telling Ryan that he either has to or can't do something.  Ryan does not take orders graciously from Chloe and will not hesitate to lash out at her if she says the wrong thing.  This then results in one of two things.  Either Chloe lashes back at him and I end up having to pull one of them off of the other -OR- Chloe comes whining to me that Ryan hurt her.  Either way, both of the kids end up in tears and then we go into meltdown mode and suddenly I want to give them both up for adoption.

The other day we experienced something new.  The kids had an argument.  It was not physical in any way, but rather a battle of wills.  Definitely a first for these two who normally go down the "sticks and stones may break my bones" avenue.  I'm not even sure what set it off.  All I know is that the kids went from sitting quietly at the table with their coloring books one minute to standing on their chairs yelling at each other the next.  Neil and I were both standing in the kitchen and witnessed the whole thing.  Here are the basics:

Chloe (in a whiny tone): "Ryan, you're mean!"
Ryan (in an authoritative almost dominating tone): "No n'not!  Yo a too too tain ahd!" (translation: "No, I'm not.  You're a choo choo train head!")
Chloe (getting frustrated but still maintaining a more whiny than angry tone): "Stooooooop!  You're not being nice!"
Ryan (same tone): "No n'not!  Yo a too too tain ahd!"

Chloe's come backs varied over the next minute as they kept at it.  She said things like, "I'm NOT a choo choo train head!" followed by, "Ryan, you're a bad brother!" and something about "That's my marker!  Give it back!".  She was growing more and more flustered, and the fact that Ryan's responses to her remained the same only made it worse.  Can you even imagine sweet Ryan yelling at his sister like a drill sergeant?

While Neil and I normally would have put this to an end right off the bat, we were too entertained this time around to want to.  I finally had to leave the room because I couldn't contain my laughter any longer.  Chloe noticed this and saw that both Neil and I were grinning, which I think gave her a boost of confidence because suddenly she stood up on her chair, tone of voice rising twice as high, and started throwing even more ridiculous come backs at Ryan, like...

"You're a petunia!"

Of course we all know what Ryan's response was.  Maybe you had to be there to truly appreciate the humor.  And maybe those of you who aren't catching onto the humor think that we are abusive parents.  But I just have to say that I felt a little proud watching my two children go at it, each being just as determined as the other to have the final word.  Obviously we don't encourage yelling matches in our household, but I hope that in life, when Chloe and Ryan are faced with confrontations about things that do legitimately matter, they will not be afraid to practice the same level of conviction that they demonstrated at the dining room table during their first argument.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Don't forget to give her winter

I have so many reasons to smile and be thankful. I have a devoted and patient husband, two healthy and happy children, an amazing extended family, my health, an understanding of and love for my religion and the many ways it has guided and strengthened me, a roof over my head and food in my fridge, helpful friends and a warm and inviting ward family, and countless other things. While I recognize, acknowledge and express gratitude to my Heavenly Father each day for these many blessings in my life, they do not free me from daily challenges and frustrations. And unfortunately, I've been feeling especially low these last couple of weeks.

While talking with my mom recently, she reminded me of a poem she shared with me years ago. When I read it this time, it hit home and I found myself getting quite emotional over the message it conveyed. Perhaps it's because I am a mother now, who has already witnessed my daughter enduring a challenge in her life, knowing just how difficult it was but still allowing for it because I knew it was necessary for her growth.

A couple weeks ago during our young women's mid-week activity, we talked with the girls about preparing for motherhood. We had a guest speaker who at one point asked us each to list attributes on a piece of paper that our own mothers had and/or attributes we hoped to one day possess as mothers. Here are the things that stood out to me which I am still working toward achieving, even 5+ years in:

- Love them unconditionally
- Nurture them
- Show affection
-Teach them the gospel
- Teach them good habits and manners
-Teach them the concept of hard work and responsibility
- Give of your time
- Listen to them
-Allow them to practice agency
- Set a good example and truly practice what you preach
- Be willing to apologize when needed
- Pray for them continually
- Practice tough love
- Don't give them everything they want
- Laugh

As we discussed these things I was once again reminded of the poem my mom had just shared with me. I felt impressed to share it with the girls, so I did.

Prayer for a Daughter

God of men and God of nature,
Shape my daughter like the seasons.
Give her all the song of springtime
And the subtlety of April,
Generosity of summer,
Warmth and all the sweet fulfillment,
And the sparkling wit of autumn,
Color like October hillsides.
Lest her charms may be too many,
Give her something of the winter:
Stars and distances and silence,
Courage of the open spaces,
Wisdom of the waiting branches,
Don't forget to give her winter.

- Esther Wood

Yes! Of course we want our daughters (and sons) to have the song of springtime, the warmth of summer, and the colors of autumn.  BUT!  We also know that they need something of winter. Just as we mothers watch our children suffer due to unfortunate circumstances or poor choices, our Heavenly Father watches us endure life's challenges and hardships. And while He wants to free us from the pains and protect us from the evils, He knows that without them we can never grow.  And without growth, there's little purpose to our earthly life.

One point my mom made after sharing this poem was that winter can be beautiful. In fact, Salt Lake, where she lives, had just received a fresh thick coat of snow, and she talked about how gorgeous the tree branches looked and how the white powder glistened on the ground. Yes, trials are not always beautiful, but from our trials come the greatest beauties out there: growth, character, a greater perspective, a deeper appreciation, peace, empathy, and even sometimes a certain indescribable fondness of the memories those trials provided.

Looking back at last summer when Neil and I were apart for 3 months, I now find myself smiling. While during that time I often felt miserable, uncertain, inadequate and lonely, I now recognize the many ways in which I grew; ways I never could have otherwise grown had it not been for the "winter" of that summer.  And, believe it or not, I honestly do look back at those 3 months with fondness.

As I face the inevitable cloudy days of life, I try to focus on the rainbows that I know will follow. I am grateful for a mother (and father) who gave me winter and who have helped me understand its importance. I'm a better person for it, and I hope I can be a strength to my own daughter as she faces her winters.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Our little pianist

Chloe has been showing interest in the piano for some time now.  Three Sundays ago as we sat together banging around on the keys, Chloe asked me to teach her a song.  I decided 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' was basic enough, and so we proceeded to walk through it.  She caught on much faster than I expected, and before the end of the evening she almost had it.  The following morning first thing she raced downstairs and proceeded to play the song with perfection.  Apparently a little break and a good night's sleep did the trick!  Here she is on that same morning showing off her newly acquired skill.


All week she anxiously awaited any opportunity to play for an audience.  She played for her neighborhood friends, for both of her Grandmas (over the phone), and of course boring old mom and dad.  By the following Sunday she could practically play the song in her sleep, and was clearly ready for more.  So, we moved on to 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat', which she caught onto almost instantly, followed by 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star'.  Neil also brought to her attention that 'Twinkle, Twinkle' carries the same melody as 'ABCs', so now she proudly tells people that she can play 4 songs on the piano!

I took this video of her last week sometime.  The timing of the recording is actually really funny.  Why, may you ask?  Well, just listen in the background near the end.  That's right.  As Chloe's finishing up 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat', Ryan is finishing up some bathroom business, and is a little more than eager to announce it.

Please don't look too closely at Chloe's finger placement.  I didn't even realize until after watching this video that she was alternating between her right and left hand.  We've been working on that.  This week we're learning 'Happy Birthday to you', and I think 'Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree' isn't too far behind.  I've also got my eye on a children's piano book so that Chloe can begin familiarizing herself with the notes.  A few people I've talked to have told me that 5 is generally young to start piano lessons.  Maybe that's true, but Chloe wants it!  She begs me to sit with her and spends a solid hour each day playing by herself.  She is driven to learn piano, and I'd be a fool not to take advantage of that!

I have so much more I want to share about Chloe's recent interests and discoveries and will get to them soon.  But for now, I hope you enjoyed her little piano debut!

Happy 72nd!

Yesterday's phone conversation between Chloe and Jared:

Chloe: Happy Birthday, Uncle Jared!
Jared: {don't know because I couldn't hear him}
How old are you?
Jared: {pretty sure I know this one but I won't spoil it}
72!?... {slight pause} ...I would have guessed 84!

Now come to think of it I can't remember if it was 72 and 84 or 82 and 74.  Oh well.  72, 84, 74, 82, 31, 32; no matter how old or how young, we love Jared just the same. 

Happy Birthday!

Love this

Forget the money tree!  I'm gettin' me one of these!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A spontaneous drive to Sac and an aspiring photographer

Speaking of perspective, on Monday Chloe had a chance to share hers with the rest of us.  After a full week of driving to and from Sacramento to help cover cases at Kaiser for a co-worker who was on vacation, Neil was looking forward to a less chaotic week of staying within a 25 mile radius of our house and his own territory.  That is, until he got a call from the same guy Monday morning requesting his help later that afternoon.  With this job, it's common for a surgery to get pushed back or rescheduled at the last minute, sometimes resulting in double-bookings.  And because it's impossible to be in two ORs at once, helping hands are often needed.  Unpredictability is a frustrating reality but just part of the job.

We barely saw Neil last week.  He was out the door as early as 6am and home as late as 7pm from Tuesday on.  And to make matters worse, both Neil and Ryan caught the same crud Chloe had the week prior.  So even when Neil did make it home by 6, he was in bed by 8.  Anyway, Monday morning when he told me he was heading back to Sac, yet again, I asked if we could tag along.  It's a solid hour's drive, so I figured it might be nice for him to have some company in the car for a change.  Plus he wasn't expecting to be there long so we could easily occupy ourselves while he did what he needed to.  While this made a great excuse to spend a little extra time with Neil, I was also just plain anxious to get out of the house.  Between Ryan's potty training and cold bug last week, we didn't make it out much.

I promise I'm going somewhere with this story.

One of my dad's oldest friends, David, who in our family goes by his middle name, "Alfred" and his wife, Grace live in Sacramento.  My brother and I call Alfred "[our] Mexican uncle".  He and my dad were in the Air Force together eons ago and became close.  In fact, Alfred, who was the chief photographer for the Vallejo Times Herald for several years, took this beloved picture of my dad and me when I was just a few days old, as well as the one below of Grace holding me when I was not much older.

We've seen Alfred and Grace a handful of times since we moved to California, and I figured since the kids and I were going to have some time to kill, why not give them a call?  So I did.  Grace was working so Alfred and I took the kids to the mall for a bit while Neil did his thing. Then we all met up for dinner a little later when Grace was off work and Neil was finished at the hospital.

I got my camera out while we were at the restaurant.  Chloe has recently expressed a greater interest in taking pictures and lately has asked to use my camera practically every time she's laid eyes on it.  This was no exception, and I reluctantly handed it over.  Luckily I just had my small, light 50mm on there so it wasn't too enormously heavy for her.  Now after looking these over I'm really glad I let her carry my camera around.  Out of the dozen or so shots she captured, she got a handful of true keepers!

I especially love this one of Grace.  The angle and overall composition (particularly the placement of the subject with other items blurred in the foreground and the Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling, which are also blurred), not to mention Grace's expression, which is so telling of the sweet and nurturing woman she is.

Here are a couple more taken outside the restaurant.

It was a bit of a spontaneous drive up to Sac, but definitely a worth while one.  Neil even mentioned he was glad we came so he could drive in the carpool lane.  :)  It's really cool being so close to loved ones.  Alfred and Grace have been a part of my family longer than I have!  They will always be my "uncle" and "aunt," and I'm grateful Chloe and Ryan can grow up knowing and seeing them frequently.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Ryan stands in front of my camera plenty, but rarely gets to stand behind it.  As much as I'd love to see things from his perspective, I'm not willing to risk the life of my camera.  Good thing he knows how to improvise!

"Say teeeeeez, Mama!" 

Monday, March 14, 2011

One more forgotten post: Chloeisms

This post was written last May about the one and only: Chloe Mae Andersen.  As I read this I'm realizing that not much has changed.  She's still in love with her brother, feminine as ever, generous, compassionate, argumentative, and the friendliest, most outgoing 5-year-old I know.  The post was lacking in pictures so I inserted a couple that were taken the same month this was written. 

Originally written 26 May 2010
I cannot believe Chloe is 6 months away from celebrating her 5th birthday! How is this even possible? I had originally planned to write a post on or around her 4th birthday summarizing her recent updates and milestones, but seeing how that was half a year ago, I think it's safe to say I passed up the opportunity. I'm sure I've forgotten half of what I would have said.  I haven't been so good about jotting things down lately but before my brain turns to complete mush, let me share the few updates I can remember.

Chloe.  Wow.  Never a dull moment. Her spirit and personality are like a flaming torch that never burns out.  She loves her little brother, and sometimes shows it a little too much. He loves her too, but easily gets annoyed with her constant touching, hugging and picking.  Can't really blame him!  The sibling rivalry has officially begun too. Some days I feel like all I do is referee. The problem is, they BOTH like to egg each other on. Usually it's Ryan trying to pull Chloe's blanket away from her while laughing, or Chloe trying to pick Ryan up or hug him when he just wants to be left alone. It's pretty funny stuff, actually. I always have to laugh extra hard when Chloe comes crying to me that Ryan hit her. As if he could really hurt her, or would do it intentionally. She's such a baby sometimes, yet the very next second she's back to tormenting him.

{May 2010 - How do you like Ryan's soft, wispy mullet?}

Chloe continues to love wearing skirts and dresses, putting on her princess shoes and dancing around to a movie that has singing and dancing in it. Her current favorite movies are 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers', 'The Slipper and the Rose' (a Cinderella story), 'The Sound of Music', and, of course, the all time fave, 'Mary Poppins'. It's pretty cool seeing her grow to love these classics that I loved, and watching her dance around and sing to the same songs that I danced and sang to.  There are moments when I feel as though I'm peering back into the past and seeing 4-year-old me.  My parents talk about that more and more too.

Chloe is a very compassionate person, always worried when she senses someone is sad or having a hard time. At the end of March, our good friend, Cindy took Chloe to an Easter egg hunt her work was hosting. While they were waiting to go outside to begin the egg hunt, Chloe noticed 2 boys, who appeared to be brothers. One of them had just hit the other (or something), and made him cry. Chloe was watching them, and suddenly said to Cindy, "He's sad. We should take him flowers."

Chloe is also very giving. The minute a guest walks in the door, she's bombarding him/her with various things such as a piece of gum, a band aid, some chips, or, when she's feeling really generous, her most prized possession (at the time). Sometimes I get annoyed by her intense desire to please and make those around her feel comfortable because it seems as though she's causing more inconvenience than convenience. I certainly don't see anything wrong with making the effort, but the way she goes about it at times is very IN YOUR FACE. I have recently realized, however, that this nature is a blessing and something I ought to encourage. It's satisfying to know my daughter thinks of others and tries to do what she can to spread happiness.  I know with time and growth, she'll gain a better understanding of social skills and proper boundaries.

{May 2010}

Chloe continues to be quite the negotiator. She is constantly presenting me with ideas that will benefit her, such as, "Mommy, I drank all my milk, so now I get to have a piece of candy!", to which I'll usually respond, "Okay, you may have one piece." Sometimes, but not always, she'll push it and then say, "How about two pieces! Just two pieces!  Yes?" She's too much.

Chloe is so friendly, it's embarrassing. Sometimes I just want to go to the grocery store without having to make new friends, but Chloe doesn't seem to understand that. She's constantly waving at, saying hi to and conversing with complete strangers. She's got no shame, and it doesn't matter who happens to walk past us or how scary they may look. When I'm out and about, I'm usually in a hurry.  What can I say?  It's tough dragging two little kids around everywhere you go, and so the faster you can be, the better. Her need to talk with everyone definitely slows things down and sometimes I don't have the patience for it. The other day we were backing out of the driveway, and she noticed our neighbor and immediately rolled down the window and started yelling, "HI MOOOOOSE!" (that's his name).  I recognize, again, that this is a good thing!  I'd rather she be outgoing and able to strike up a conversation with anyone than be shy and unwilling to look anyone in he eye let alone talk to them.  It's just a matter of guiding her along to know when it's appropriate to converse and when it's not.  And further, some of the topics that are and aren't appropriate to discuss such as a woman who may look slightly overweight but isn't necessarily pregnant.  Yep.  We learned that one the hard way.  I'll save that story for another day!

All in all, I am so impressed with Chloe's growth and progression.  She is such a light in the lives of her family and loved ones, and I'm happy I get to spend my days with her.  She has taught me many lessons, and I'm grateful that she is patient with and forgiving of my shortcomings as her mother. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

And yet another (forgotten post, that is): 2 months

Here's another.  This time, January 2009, 11 days after Ryan turned 2 months, and 10 days before being admitted to the hospital for RSV.  I have no idea why I didn't publish this.  Maybe I'd planned to add more to it, who knows.  It's so strange picturing Ryan in this little baby stage, especially now that he's becoming such an independent toddler.  I realize it may seem ridiculous that I'm bothering to post this now, 2 years later, but for journaling purposes I'm going to anyway.  Don't worry, there aren't too many more of these posts left.

Originally written 20 January 2009
I can't even believe Ryan's 2 months. Gosh, he turned 2 months a week and a half ago! Where oh where does the time go? Why can't it slow down just a little when you have a baby? I look at pictures of him from only a month ago and he looks entirely different now. I think like most moms, a part of me yearns for those first weeks again. There's just something so indescribably precious about a newborn baby. A newborn baby whose head flops around; whose limbs are so scrawny that if his older sister pulled hard enough she could probably yank them right out of their sockets; whose cry is so distinct that it turns heads while out in public; whose scent is so new and perfect; whose warmth and softness make one feel as though s/he's in the presence of an angel. While I'm sad to see this stage disappear, I will have to say I am loving the fun and interactive little guy Ryan's becoming. He had his 2 month check-up Friday morning and he's doing really well. At 11 pounds, 15 ounces, and 23 inches, he's measuring in the 58th percentile for weight and 55th for height. It's hard to believe he's already gained 4 pounds and grown 2 inches since birth! He likes to eat though, so it's really no wonder!

Ryan is such a smiley boy! If only I could capture more of those smiles on camera! He loves eye contact and close interaction. While he can't talk, his expressions speak volumes! They are so animated and sweet. He reacts dramatically to the sound of my voice: raising his eye brows as I tell him stories or sing to him, opening his mouth and making movements with his lips as if to talk back, squealing and cooing with enthusiasm as he jerks his tiny limbs all over the place, and as always, gleaming with smiles. When he and I are able to find one on one time together, everything else around us disappears. He is so easy to love.

I'll be honest. These last two months have been far from easy. Part of that is the transition from having one child to suddenly having two, I'm sure.  But looking back, Chloe was a much easier newborn than Ryan has been. I don't know that I'd go so far as to say Ryan had colic, but it was most certainly something like it. Yes, he knows how to scream, and has had a handful of good long screaming sessions like any other newborn baby. But the greatest challenge I've faced with Ryan hasn't been so much the screaming and crying but the constant uneasiness. For the first 8 weeks of his life the boy wouldn't sit still. He was always squirming around and seeming uncomfortable and on the verge of crying.  In the beginning I suspected he had reflux. He's the gassiest kid ever, not to mention an impressive spitter-upper - 2 common side effects of reflux.  Unfortunately I was never really able to pin-point the culprit. In an attempt to do so, I tried removing several things from my diet temporarily.  While I still haven't figured it out, he seems to finally be growing out of the uneasy stage, and the sweet and happy boy Ryan's wanted to be from day 1 is finally becoming a regular thing!

Seems like I had more to say, but I couldn't tell ya what it was now.  Oh, look at those fat cheeks!  I could just reach into these pictures and kiss on him for hours!  They grow way too fast.  Way. Too. Fast.

Long, and I mean LONG forgotten post: Painting Tips

I'm chuckling to myself right now.  Would you believe it if I told you I wrote this post in June of 2008?  I was 4 months pregnant with Ryan!  It's on a completely random topic too.  In continued attempts to get my blog current I gave a quick glance through the handful of "drafts" I had written, never thinking it was necessary to look back past 2010 until I came across Brady and Sara's wedding post from October 2009.  I probably ought to finish that one now that they've been married for a year and a half and are expecting their first child!  Anyhoo, not long after stumbling upon theirs, I found this post, which I wrote even longer ago than that!  Completely forgot about it, obviously.  I almost immediately deleted it, but then decided it was still useful, and, if I went to the trouble to write it why not still share it?  So often when people came to our house (in CO) they'd comment on my painted walls and ask how I got such straight and perfect lines. Believe it or not, it's not so difficult to achieve.  And so, 3 years later, here are the steps.

Originally written 16 JUNE 2008
I am anal about a lot of things.  Anyone who knows me knows that.  Painting is no exception. I've done more of it lately than I'd like to say, and thought I'd share a few tips while it's all still fresh in my head!

Does it drive any of you crazy to have gone to the trouble of taping an entire room (and spending quite possibly an hour and a half or longer doing it) only to then pull it all off (once you've finished painting) and find countless spots where the paint bled, requiring you to then spend another hour touching up? Perhaps you're so tired of painting by this point that you don't care. Or perhaps it bothers you, but you figure you'll put it off for another day. Well why not get it right the first time so the removing of tape is the final step of the process!?

Follow these steps, and I guarantee you'll be happy with the results!

With a damp cloth, wipe down the trim (baseboards, doorways, and whatever else you'll be taping). The tape won't stick if it's applied to a dusty surface, so this is a crucial step if you don't want bleeding to occur.

Depending on the condition of the trim, you may even want to take it a step further by applying to it a fresh coat of paint. Sure it's more work in the long run, but the end result makes it very worthwhile. I naturally do this before I paint any room, because I feel it gives the final product a more complete look that the room wouldn't otherwise have had I painted the walls but left the trim as is.

Okay, so once your trim looks fresh and clean:

1) Tape along the trim. Line the edges of the tape as close to where the wall begins as possible. Rub the tape down as well as you can to ensure a good firm stick!

{Now this will sound weird, but stay with me - this is the most important step of all}

2) Say you're painting the walls green. So at this point, you'd normally apply your first coat of the green along the trim, right? If you were to do this, there's a good chance some green would still manage to sneak under the tape in areas, resulting in an occasional bleed. To prevent any bleeding, with your brush you're going to first apply a light coat of the baseboard paint along the trim. Now I know you're thinking, "Wait a minute! First you tell me to apply a fresh coat of trim paint to the trim before taping! And now I have to apply another coat of trim paint, after I've taped? How does that make sense if the wall color is green? Basically what happens here is the trim color bleeds in the areas under the tape where the green would have bled had you applied green straight over the freshly applied tape. However, because the white was applied first, you'll not only never know where it bled (because it's the same color), but that trim color, once dry, is going to seal in every space that exists, so that when you finally apply the green paint (in the next step), there's no chance of bleeding! (Sorry, I don't have a picture to accompany this step)

3) Once the trim color is completely dry (give it at least 2 hours), with a different brush, apply your first coat of green.

As far as the ceiling goes, I don't tape. I use a slanted brush and wing it. I find I get better results doing it that way than taping but I was also blessed with a steady hand. If you feel more comfortable taping along the ceiling, steps 2 and 3 can still be useful.  Same idea if you're painting one wall one color and the wall next to it a different color. 

Hopefully this all made sense and saves you some time on your next painting adventure!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A deeper appreciation

I am finding, with age, that I value my parents and grandparents more and more.  I value the (little) time I get to spend with them.  I value the memories I have of them from years past.  I value the advice they give me today, and more graciously embrace the advice they gave me yesterday.  And most recently, I value simple facts and details of their lives, and yearn to know more.  My mom has always been an excellent journal keeper.  I remember years and years ago reading in her journal from 1962 when she and my dad first met.  She was 18 years old!  How cool is that?  How many kids get to read and enjoy a glimpse of who their mother was at 18?  She also had a journal for both my brother and me, and we used to sit around the table as a family and read from them.  After reading came the inevitable laughter, and it was just an all around good thing.  She always captured the funniest things and in the most creative way.  One of us would read aloud various quotes from our 3 and 4 year old mouths, display pictures we'd drawn, awards we'd won, clippings of our hair (some of which we had clipped ourselves), and photographs, all of which she had lovingly placed into those journals.  I remember finding so much joy in reading simple facts about me and the baby/toddler/little girl I was.  Whether I realized it or not, I did value the time and determination my mom gave in providing my brother and me with that documentation of our early years.  And whether it was a conscious decision I made or just something that was ingrained into me, I knew from a very young age that I needed to provide my children with the same type of treasure my mom had provided for us. 

Journal keeping, in a literal sense, was never my strength, nor was it something I much enjoyed.  I just didn't recognize the value in it as a teenager.  And even after Neil and I got married I didn't think that the every day happenings of our lives were spectacular enough to write about.  Now that I've discovered the thrill of hearing simply, "every day" stories about my grandparents and other family members who have passed on, I'm kicking myself for not starting my own history sooner.  It's certainly never too late, and I am grateful that this blog, which truly does contain the "every day" of my life for the last 3 1/2 years will be around in years to come when, perhaps, I can sit at the table with my own family and laugh over the silly things I took the time to write down which otherwise would have been long forgotten.

If Chloe is anything like me when she turns 29, she will value the things I have to say now.  She will value my memories of loved ones.  She will value what I've learned from my mother which has partially molded me into the mother I am.  She will value the things I've said about her, the confidence I have in her and the love I have for her.  That said, I am going to make a more conscious effort to document special memories of and facts about my parents, Neil's parents, my grandparents, Neil's grandparents and whatever other extended family members I might feel so inclined to write about.  I will need Neil's help with some of this, but I'm looking forward to it.  We have been commanded to document.  President Spencer W. Kimball said, in the October 1975 New Era, while emphasizing to the youth of the Church the importance of keeping a journal:

“Get a notebook, my young folks, a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity. Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies. Remember, the Savior chastised those who failed to record important events.”

There is always something to write about, especially when you live in a house with small children who are learning, growing and changing every day.  I am grateful for an incredible family to build memories with, learn from, and write about; for parents, a 94-year-old grandmother, an awesome brother and countless other family members, all from whom I can learn many things.  And I'm going to make a greater effort to document the little bits and pieces of them here so that my own children will always have a record of the incredible family from which they came.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

One last look at February

I think it goes without saying that I kept up with this blog pretty well during the month of February!  Believe it or not, however, there are still pictures I never shared, and a couple updates too.  So here goes, in no particular order.

Sitting in the exam room waiting to see the dermatologist.
Ever since the move Ryan's skin has gone sorta wacko on us.  I'm not sure what induced it, but I'm guessing change in humidity was a big factor.  He's always had sensitive skin, but it's become considerably worse in the last 5 months.  Around the time we moved a red rash formed in the fold of his left elbow. It looked like an eczema outbreak, which wasn't alarming as both he and Chloe have had eczema their whole lives. Around Thanksgiving I noticed it was becoming raw in areas and beginning to crust over, even bleeding at times. I tried every over the counter eczema cream/ointment I could find, but just when it seemed I finally had the rash under control whatever cream/ointment I'd been using suddenly lost its effect and the rash once again returned to its nasty, original state. A week before Christmas I called our family care physician who referred us to a dermatologist in Modesto. Unfortunately the soonest opening he had was February 3rd! So we persevered a little longer, alternating creams and ointments and keeping the rash under control pretty well. Ironically, 2 weeks before his appointment, I noticed a new rash that was practically covering his entire body, consisting of tiny dome-shaped growths, almost like warts. Thankfully these babies showed up before his appointment so we could kill two birds with one stone.

I took this the same week I made Ryan's appointment, fully intending to mail the doctor these pictures so he'd take pity on me and get Ryan in sooner.  Well, then I was a really lame mom and never got around to mailing them.  Thankfully, by the time February 3rd rolled around, the rash looked much better than this!
The dermatologist diagnosed Ryan with some form of dermatitis and prescribed him Triamcinolone Acetonide ointment for the rash. Yeah, I'd never heard of it either.  And the wart-like bumps turned out to be Molluscum Contagiosum, a viral infection. Ick! I was worried I was going to end up having to pay big bucks for some crazy prescription ointment, but strangely enough the doctor said the best way to treat the virus was with Vaseline. With Ryan's sensitive skin, he's also been restricted from using any perfumed baby products (even Aveeno, which claims to work wonders for sensitive skin but has never done crap for Ryan's). Slathering the boy down with Vaseline after his baths, while greasy and gross, has worked wonders, and the Molluscum is just about gone. The red rash still comes and goes a bit, but is mostly under control. So glad that's all over with!

Here are some other random pictures taken throughout the month of February.

First, you may remember this post, in which I described the kids playing "train".  Well, now you don't have to try and visualize it any more.

Playing "Horsey" with dad.

Girl Scout cookies. My around-this-time-of-year weakness. 
{Okay, really, I was just having fun with my 50mm lens.  Can't beat that 1.4 bokeh!}

Enjoying said Girl Scout cookies while mom watches on with envy.

A little while after enjoying said Girl Scout cookies, hanging with neighborhood friends, Kaitlyn and Gabi.

Putting in his drink order. Ryan's latest request: chocolate AND strawberry milk.

Not just one or the other.  Both.  Period.

Superbowl Sunday, taken after Day 6's picture of the day. Chloe was feeling slightly left out when Ryan got to be in a picture with Daddy. So we took one with Daddy, Ryan and Chloe...

...followed by Mommy, Ryan and Chloe...

Licking the beaters. I love how this boy smiles with his bottom teeth.

Big sister finding unique ways to entertain herself and little brother; little brother following her lead. This is so telling of how these two function. Ryan virtually always does exactly what his sister does.

Opening Valentines from Grandpa Roy and Grandma Jill.
I especially love Ryan's expression in pictures 1 and 4. It's like he was mimicking his sister's excitement even though he really wasn't sure what he was supposed to be excited about. My mom, who is so creative and thoughtful, sent Ryan a cute little basketball jersey with #32 on it accompanied by a photo copy of a newspaper clipping of my dad being spotlighted in a high school basketball game. He too was #32, hence the jersey and picture.  How she keeps track of such facts is beyond me, but it's one of the things I love most about her.  As you can see in picture 4, Ryan has ripped the photo of my dad. We still appreciated your efforts, Mom. Thanks again! It really was like Christmas all over again!

Watching Jeopardy with Dad.

Yours truly standing in front of our totally awesome kitchen back splash, which I cannot wait to pull off the wall and burn! Black and gold? Really? Who would choose that?  You really have to see it in person to appreciate it. 

Our little potty training champ!
Yes, the helmet was all Ryan's idea. He thinks he's quite the man walking around the house with nothing on but his Thomas the Train undies and this gnarly bike helmet. And while we're on the topic, a quick update: Ryan is doing an exceptional job! Pooping in the potty every single time, and only having minimal accidents (3 total in the last 48 hours - all pee-related). He even stayed dry during his nap today! I suspect diapers will NOT be on my next grocery shopping list, or the one following that! Can I get a hallelujah!

And in closing, 2 reasons to celebrate all lumped into 1 day: February 24th!

Any idea what this might represent?
Now I don't want to rain on another certain birthday boy's parade, and normally I wouldn't make any kind of deal out of this (big or little), but given the fact that my birthday this year will be a significant one, and given some past memories of my mom which pertain to this topic, let me just say that February 24th was my half birthday. Call me a big dork if you must. I don't "celebrate" half birthdays really, but growing up my sweet mom made a big deal out of them. You see, my birthdays always landed, well, at the end of August, just before the new school year began. And as a result, I never got to take cupcakes to school or be sung to by my classmates. Ironically, my very first day of college was on my 18th birthday, but by then I'd sorta outgrown the, "hey, it's my birthday so let's eat cupcakes and sing!" stage. So going back to my mom. Being well aware of the situation, she, on a handful of occasions, would have flowers delivered to my classroom on my half birthday so I could experience a glimpse of what other kids did whose birthdays landed during the school year. This may seem like a bit much to some of you, but these simple, silly acts of kindness represented something deeper. And that is that my mom always knew just how to make me smile. She did and still does an amazing job of it, and these half birthday flower deliveries are only one small example.

They say the best is saved for last. Well, I think judging from the length of this post, Brad's had quite the wait. Especially when you factor in how many days have passed since his actual birthday!  13 to be exact!

Happy belated Birthday, Brad! From what Chloe told me (based on your phone conversation), it sounds like you had a pretty great day! I wouldn't expect anything less, knowing Courtney! Happy 26th, little brother! We love you!

{May 2010 - Colorado Springs, CO}

Well, I think I can safely say I've filled in every last gap for February!  Now let's see what March has in store!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Day 28: Just another lazy Monday

Unlike many people, I look forward to Mondays.  They tend to be the most relaxing of my week days as I rarely have any schedule or commitments.  Plus, being the start of a new week, I tend to feel more energized and productive.  Last Monday was particularly low key, as Chloe was still not feeling well and Ryan and I were hard at work potty training.  At one point I noticed the kids playing quietly in the front room.  The sun was shining through the window and it just seemed like the perfect moment to grab the camera.  So I did.

Whew, I made it through all 28 days!  Sure, I fell behind near the end.  But I caught up and finished, and it feels good.  I met my goals of increasing my blogging activity and picking up my camera to snap more of the little things.  It was a great experience and one I hope I can find the time to do again.

Day 27: Sick

Last Sunday morning Chloe woke up with a sudden cough and runny nose.  Luckily she did not have a fever, and other than seeming a little more tired than usual, she was her normal happy self.  I debated about whether to keep her home from church.  I was scheduled to teach young womens and hated to have to make any calls, plus Chloe didn't act as miserable as she sounded, which indicated to me that it wasn't so serious. 

In the end we took it easy and stayed home. 

Here's our girl eating her favorite, chicken noodle soup.  Notice the garland "crown" and the blanket wrapped around her.  Only when we're sick do we allow blankets at the kitchen table.  

Poor girl.  I never dreamed it would drag on for a week, but unfortunately it did.  And, in the process, Chloe was kind enough to share with her brother and two of her little friends.  Here's to hoping for fast recoveries!

Day 26: Well good morning to you!

Here's what I came downstairs to find Saturday morning before last.


Cookies and vitamins!  What could be a better way to start off day 26?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day 25: Off day

Last Friday (day 25) was an off day for me.  That's really the best way to put it.  For starters, Neil flew to San Diego for a weekend of meetings.  Who schedules business meetings Friday through Sunday anyway?

Watching Daddy drive away

Chloe went from happy mood to foul mood the minute Neil left.  It was rainy and windy and just plain gross out.  And as the day progressed the kids became less and less likable.  Lots of shoving, kicking, "he did this", "she did that", no one taking responsibility for their actions, constant intervening on my part, you name it.  Chloe and Ryan sucked the life right outta me and it wasn't even dinner time before I wanted to hurt them.  That is when I decided we all needed some fresh air.  Normally I would have walked the kids to the park, but that was out of the question with the gross weather.  And so, I threw the brats in the car and headed to the grocery store to grab a Redbox and ingredients for mini pizzas.  Perhaps this change in scenery would break up the negative vibes.  Wrong.  Not a minute after walking into Savemart, the kids were arguing over who got to sit in the front of the cart.  And it didn't get any better from there.  Minutes later while standing at the meat counter, Chloe hit Ryan.  Now I'm positive Ryan deserved it, but that still didn't make it okay.  Being the overly dramatic munchkins they are, they both started screaming - Ryan because he'd been hit and Chloe because she had a really good excuse for doing it, but couldn't hear herself over Ryan.  Not 30 seconds after attempting to resolve the matter, a stranger passing by brought to my attention the fact that Ryan was trying to climb out of the cart.  Embarrassed that someone else had to bring this to my attention because I turned my head away just long enough to miss it, irritated by the look of judgement in the stranger's eyes, and exhausted by yet another confrontation with the kids, I threatened them with their lives and sped to the checkout stand.  THEN, Chloe had the nerve to ask me for a chocolate.  And when I said (very defiantly), "NO!", she had the nerve to ask me, "Why?" 

Aside from my devilish children, whom I love dearly but was not fond of on day 25, I ended up spending a lot more money than I'd planned to, all because they had samples of fresh cooked salmon at the front of the store; salmon, which tasted so good, which my kids BOTH gobbled down, and which happened to be on sale!  I hate the guilt that comes over me when I've just left the grocery store having spent $40 more than I'd planned to.  Normally I'm in better control when I shop.  But not this day.  And I was too worn down to even care.

We made it home and got the pizzas going.  The kids enjoyed creating their own works of art for dinner, which gave me a few minutes of solitude before they were once again bickering.  Who knew lying a picnic blanket on the living room floor could create such a scene?  Hadn't they exhausted themselves yet?  Once we determined who would be sitting on which side of the blanket (it practically required a committee meeting), I threw the pizzas in the oven and turned the movie on.  Despite the creepy previews, Chloe had chosen 'Alice in Wonderland'.  Not 30 minutes in, Neil called.  What a relief to hear his voice after the long day I'd had.  That is until I told him what we'd rented and he cheerfully informed me that it was already recorded on our DVR.  In other words, my trip to the grocery store where I battled 2 kids and spent money on unnecessary items, including $1.09 on a movie we already had was a complete waste of my time! 

Ryan ended up falling asleep on the couch.  That's right.  After arguing over the silly blanket, the kids didn't even lay on it at all!  Chloe lasted until the end but went to bed without a fight.  I think the most reasonable explanation for their poor behavior was sleep deprivation and no daddy.  Looking back now, day 25 really didn't seem so out of the ordinary or horrible.  But in the heat of it all, I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown.  I do love my children and I would never consider leaving them at the grocery store or selling them on eBay.  Some days I just feel weak and unable to handle the responsibilities of being a level-headed mom. 

There were a handful of happy moments during the day, and that's what I'll leave you with.

I am glad day 25 is long over, and I hope I never have to live a day like that again!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


As gross or unexciting as this may be for the majority of you, I feel accomplished and need to document it.  So I'm going to.  Maybe Ryan will thank me some day.  Or maybe he's like most of you and really won't care.  Either way, the boy made serious progress with potty training today!  We have been working with him for a solid month now, never pushing but always encouraging.  It's harder this time around since I'm on more of a set schedule than I was when I just had Chloe.  The one advantage I've had is that Ryan has had an older sibling to watch and learn from, whereas Chloe did not.  So, onto the progress!  Yesterday Ryan came racing into my room just after 6am announcing he needed to pee.  I was surprised he didn't just go seeing that he was wearing a diaper, but wanted to take full advantage of the opportunity.  So I jumped out of bed and rushed him to the toilet where he successfully did his thing.  He wore underwear for next few hours until playgroup.  I wasn't about to ask my friend, Tina, who hosted, to, along with keeping an eye on 7 other children, take responsibility for my son's potty training.  When he got home, however, off came the diaper and on went the underwear.  Unfortunately we had a few accidents and, like every other day thus far, I began to wonder when he'd just get it.

This morning he came in around 7am telling me he was poopy.  After changing his diaper he grabbed a pair of underwear and asked to put them on.  Well, guess what?  He wore that same pair of underwear the ENTIRE rest of the day!  Guess why?  Because he didn't have A SINGLE ACCIDENT!!!  He made it to the potty EVERY TIME!  We even took a 2 hour outing to the park for a picnic this afternoon.  I asked him several times if he needed to go, if nothing else, to remind him that he wasn't wearing a diaper.  Then when we got home he played outside with Chloe and some neighborhood kids.  Even amidst all the excitement, he stopped playing and ran into the house when he needed to go.  I was so proud of him.  When it was time for bed I stuck a diaper on him.  Maybe I should have just kept his underwear on to see what happened in the night.  I guess I'm just not quite ready for that.  I'm still debating whether or not to go buy a package of pull ups to use just at night as we make this transition.  To me, though, it seems pull ups enable kids to go.  I wasn't a fan of them with Chloe and didn't even go through an entire package before she was fully potty trained.  I think I'll see how tomorrow goes and then decide if he's ready to try wearing underwear at night. 

Anyway, not 10 minutes after putting his diaper on he ran in to announce he was pooping.  I was so disappointed and immediately rushed him to the bathroom.  He had, sure enough, started to go in his diaper so I cleaned him up and then sat him on his potty.  Luckily he still had some left and ended up pooping in his potty for the first time ever.  I was so excited I almost cried.  How lame am I?  The things we moms get excited over!  It's sad, I tell you. 

I am just thrilled with Ryan's progress today.  I have no idea how tomorrow will go, but I am hopeful.  I am even planning to attempt no diapers at church.  An extra pair of clothes, yes, but no diapers.  I am crossing my fingers that the end is in sight.  Way to go, little man!

Day 24: "I doot!"

"I doot!"  Easily Ryan's most frequently said phrase these days.  Translation?  "I do it!"  Whether it be putting his socks on, walking down the stairs and counting as he goes, applying the gob of toothpaste onto his crusted toothbrush (since he demanded to rinse it out himself the last time he brushed), placing his blankets and toys and pillow and Woody doll and trains and whatever other toy(s) he just can't sleep without onto his bed, screwing the sippy cup lid onto the sippy cup, or selecting his dinner fork, Ryan is becoming ridiculously independent.  Sometimes it's cute.  Sometimes it's not.  Sometimes, as I watch him throw himself onto the floor in a dramatic rage because, heaven forbid, I picked his baseball shirt when he wanted his football shirt, I just want to say, "Get over yourself, kid!  It does not matter!"  But then I remind myself he's 2.

In honor of Ryan's independence, here's my Day 24 capture.

I suppose you could say this picture represents a tired mom who's resorted to diapers after an unsuccessful (and stinky) day of accidents and dirty undies; or, simply, a stubborn boy who demands to do everything himself right down to fastening his diaper.  Either description works. 

On a side note, I'm sorry I sorta disappeared from the blogging world after Day 23.  Neil went out of town last weekend, Chloe got sick, and I've been feeling low.  Yep, that about sums it up.  I did finish out the month, though, and will post day's 25-28 shortly.