Sunday, December 28, 2008

I Got You Babe

Salt Lake Temple 1998

Sam and I got married 10 years ago today. I can hardly believe how fast those 10 years have gone. Then I realize we've been through 2 apartments, 1 home, 7 cars, 3 kids, 4 degrees (2 undergrad, 2 law) and a bunch of hairstyles, and I guess it does feel like 10 years.

I don't know how I was so smart (0r so lucky) at 21 to have found Sam and somehow convinced him to marry me, but to this day, I consider it the best decision of my life (next to growing out my bangs!)

My brother's wedding 2001

We met on a warm spring afternoon in front of the Harold B. Lee library on BYU campus. Sam had snuck out of work and was enjoying a smoothie with his friend Nate's fiance Amy Bagley. Bagley was a friend of mine since kindergarten and she introduced us. After that, Sam called and asked me out. However, I thought it was another Sam I had already been out with on a horrible date and so I made up an excuse and turned him down. Later, I ran into Sam's best friend, Nate and he asked me why I turned Sam down. I figured out it was the new Sam and told Nate to have him call me again. Luckily he did and we finally went out.

Being obnoxious at my cousin's wedding 2006

On our first date, I was in tears from laughing so hard. I knew I would marry him. He was the funniest guy I had ever met. We went out four more times that same week. Sam and I grew up in the same stake (even though we never met growing up) and we knew a lot of the same people and places. He felt like home to me. We got married 9 months later.

Our marriage somehow survived the two of us attending law school together. I was Sam's TA for his property class. He used to joke that he was sleeping with the TA and still got a 3.0 in property.

Celebrating my 30th birthday in NYC 2007 (we celebrated Sam's 30th at Chili's)

Sam is an incredible dad, which is just a bonus since I wasn't even thinking of that 10 years ago. He has a very dry sense of humor, he is very generous, handsome and smart. He is my best friend. He has never complained about going to work each day so I can stay home. Most importantly, he makes me laugh everyday. Here's to many more years together babe!

With baby Ryan at my mom's house 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Traditions

In spite of my earlier post, I do love the Christmas season. I love the slow race toward Christmas, the hustle and bustle to get it all done. But most of all, I love the traditions. After all, isn't that what you remember about Christmas from your childhood? I hardly remember anything I received (actually that's not true!) but I do remember our family traditions vividly.

Here are some of ours:

Christmas PJs: I know a lot of families open these on Christmas Eve. We start wearing ours the night after Thanksgiving. Luke has only missed one night in his. He loves 'em.

Mr. Peeks: This elf shows up on our doorstep right around Thanksgiving and stays until Christmas Eve when he returns home with Santa. He reports back to Santa whether the kids have been naughty or nice. The other day I heard Sammie telling Mr. Peeks about some bad stuff Luke had done. Each night, Mr. Peeks hides and the kids find him in the morning. They eat it up.

Coordinating Christmas Outfits for Church:

The Trolley at Thanksgiving Point: This is such a fun tradition, we are actually doing it twice this year. We did it once with our neighborhood friends and we are doing it again the day after Christmas with the Warner clan. A heated trolley takes you through the lights at Thanksgiving Point (for only 50 bucks for the whole crowd!) The kids sing Christmas songs on the trolley and then everyone gets ice-cream or hot chocolate afterwards in the soda shop. It was during one of these trolley nights two years ago when I found the ornaments for my tree!

Ryan enjoying the lights

My girlfriends Susan and Marcie riding the trolley--Can you tell they are sisters?

The Lights at Temple Square:

Making gingerbread houses with Grandma Linda:

The Nativity on Christmas Eve at Grandma Linda's House: This is one of my kids' favorite traditions. In about October, they start deciding what they want to be in the nativity. They think it is like choosing what you are going to be for Halloween.

Finally, the Advent Calendar: This is the bomb (are people still using that expression?) for my kids. This is the same advent calendar we used when I was a kid so it has sentimental value for me.

I hope all of you have a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas Baby!

All Sam wanted for Christmas was for me to clean out our pantry. Pretty pathetic that he had to ask for it as his only gift in order for me to deliver. I would show you a "before" picture but my pride (actually my dignity) does not allow it. He took the kids away for a couple hours on Saturday and I went to town. Behold our organized (organized enough for my standards) pantry:

Don't say I don't spoil you babe!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Uniform

This is my uniform. Loungewear at its finest. I picked this set up at the Gap outlet two years ago. If I'm at home, I have it on. On bad days, I've been known to wear it to pick up the carpool at school, and maybe to the store. Alas, it has seen better days.

About a month ago I started looking for something to replace it with. Now, there is a fine line between pjs and lounewear and I'm not interested in pjs. My rules are that the loungewear top cannot under any circumstances require a cami. The material has to be soft, cozy and somewhat flattering. Oh, and I have to be able to get the top and bottoms on in under 10 seconds flat when the doorbell rings. Preferable, I should be able to leave the house in it in a pinch, or a house fire, whatever the case may be.

I knew I would wear this thing into the ground so I needed to take the time to really find something special. Behold, my next uni (it is velour and it's from Old Navy):

Do you have a uni? Are you people actually wearing real clothes at home? One friend admitted to me recently that she wears shoes at home! (the horror!) I am a slave to comfort. How about you?

Mrs. Claus is Tired

I was reading The Gab Blog and realized that this is exactly how I feel right now.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tis The Season!

I love this time of year. I really do. But there are some things happening out there that just get to me. Here are a few.

This is not my house

Christmas Lights: Decorating the outside of your home with Christmas lights is an all-or-nothing proposition. Go hard or go home. I understand that some people have a fear of heights, cough,the husband,cough. I also understand that it is hard to get a ladder and get up on the roof. But for the love, if you live in a two-story home, please do not hang lights on the bottom half only. It is ghetto.

Sammie and Ryan with Stoned Santa

Santa at the Mall: I know I know--you get what you pay for and in this case, it was free so I shouldn't complain. But I think the Santa at Fashion Place Mall was stoned. I told my kids to run get on his lap. He didn't help them up--they climbed. Then I proceeded to snap photos. This Santa had one wandering eye but even his good eye wasn't looking at my camera. He never asked my kids what they wanted for Christmas or even said "ho ho ho." My friend Jill had a similar experience with a Santa at Southtowne Mall. They really must be scraping the bottom of the barrel for Santa's these days.

Mall Crowds: This is so cliche. But I am one who likes to roam the malls on a regular basis. I hate that now I am cumbered by the rush-holiday crowd. The post office is a zoo too. My cousin Liz knows all about how bad the post office is this time of year.

Mall Parking: I hate that I can't get a parking spot--even in my usual spot--the senior citizen parking. (Hey, I justify it because I know my 90 year old grandpa would let me have his spot if he saw me haul a double stroller out of the car along with 3 kids and numerous packages.) And I hate that you have to circle the lot like a shark, all the while keeping an eye on 3 other cars all looking to pounce on the same spot.

Walmart: I could have lumped all of the shopping together, but really Walmart deserves it's own category. Walmart is Thunderdome this time of year. The fact that a person got trampled on Black Friday at a Walmart in upstate NY proves my point. I was in the toy aisle the other day and someone drilled me in the back with their cart. The lines are ridiculous and yet, I continue to go back.

What am I missing? What are your pet peeves this time of year? Oh, and I promise to redeem myself for this post with a heartfelt post about things I love this time of year!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my mom's birthday. She is 29 again--funny how that works--She is actually younger than me now. Anyway, She is the best mom in the world and the best grandma and here are 29 things about her.

1. She is the world's biggest shopper. I am a shopper; she even puts me to shame.

2. She is always on the go. She rarely sits down.

3. She loves seafood, especially Lobster. One of her favorite restaurants is Scomas in San Francisco. My mom and dad have this thing they do every time they go there. She'll order salmon or shrimp and my dad will secretly call the waitress over and get my mom the lobster. Then when it comes she acts really surprised. It's painful to watch.

4. She wears Angel perfume. It's her signature scent.

5. She is a fabulous cook and can make amazing low-fat meals.

6. She taught Jazzercise for 28 years. She retired this year after a hip replacement. She still works out every day. She is in way better shape than me.

7. She is the best grandma in the world. She babysits, makes snowmen, gingerbread houses, cut-out cookies and anything else the kids want to do.

8. She took me to a lot of concerts growing up. We've been to Stevie Wonder, Michael Bolton and Cher, to name a few.

9. She loves babies.

Mom with grandsons Ryan and Max

10. She is the most generous person I know. This year, she got the name of a little girl off the angel tree at Macys. She went all out getting this girl the cutest coat, clothes, toys, etc. She really took the time to find darling stuff for this little girl.

11. My mom loves sales and getting a good deal. Growing up, I remember going to the Nordstrom sale with her each year religiously.

12. She spends more money at Gap and Gymboree each year than I do. (She spends it on the grandkids!)

13. She drives the biggest piece of shiz Ford Explorer. I only bring this up to show you what a big deal #12 is. She would rather spend on the grandkids than herself.

14. She makes an awesome photo calendar for our family every year.

Our family circa 2007

15. She majored in elementary education and minored in art at BYU

16. She taught first grade before she had kids. When she had my older brother, she quit to stay at home full time and never went back.

17. She is an amazing artist.

18. She loves to travel and has been all over the world. Her favorite vacation spot is Hawaii and goes at least twice a year with my dad. They hope to serve a mission there. (I'm serious!)

19. Everyone always says "You mom is so cute" or "your mom is so sweet." Anyone who knows her loves her.

20. She will always insist on getting the check every time we go out to eat. This happens no matter who we are with or how many people are with us.

21. She likes traditional houses--she hates the timberlodge look in houses.

22. She loves dark chocolate. She taught me that no trip to the mall is complete without a trip to Sees.

23. She always made me feel like I was the smartest, funniest, cutest girl in the world.

My sister Ashley, me and my mom

24. She loves Seinfeld. She will always iron or fold laundry while she watches tv.

25. She also always has a pretty good collection of trashy magazines on hand like "In touch." (Don't kill me for revealing that mom!)

26. She has the cutest decorations for every holiday. She has given me most of my cute decorations.

My mom made this advent calendar when we were kids. Now I have it. Don't be jealous Rex!

27. She hates snakes.

28. My mom always stuck up for me growing up. She wasn't afraid to chew out teachers, people in the ward or anyone else who was mean to me or one of my siblings.

29. To this day, I am totally flattered when people tell me I look like my mom.

Happy Birthday mom! You are the greatest. I hope your day is perfect.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Letting Go

The title of this post could just as easily been "Letting Myself Go." I may be the only person in my family's weight loss contest who is actually gaining weight. I don't do well with "diets." The word alone puts me into a sweat.

But actually I'm talking about letting go of the guilt and stress of the holiday season. I just realized it is December 10th and every night I work like a dog and stress about all the things I need to do to get ready for Christmas. I used to read articles in magazines about how to limit your stress around the holidays and I couldn't believe people would stress about shopping and baking, etc. It's supposed to be fun!

Now I get it. I won't bore you with my "to do" list but I will tell you after a "come to Jesus" with my husband tonight, it just got a lot shorter. I have to be realistic that with a high maintenance baby and two other kids, stuff just isn't going to be perfect and awesome all the time. There has been one major thing that I have been putting off and I just decided tonight to let it go. It ain't gonna happen and that's okay.

I want to enjoy the rest of the month. I'm done being frantic. I love wrapping gifts (I love the smell of wrapping paper!) I love baking when it's not in a frenzy to get the goodies on a plate to a neighbor! I love seeing the lights at Temple Square when it's not with the youth group and one more thing to cross off my list. So my goal is to slow down, not worry so much about buying people the perfect gift (sorry!) or what I'm wearing to various functions and actually enjoy the season. I'm going to spend more time thinking about my Saviour and what the season is really about--celebrating His birth and His life! Oh, and I'm going to read this about the true meaning of Christmas by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. It is awesome. Be prepared to cry.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Neighbor Gifts

One of the things I'm grateful for this holiday season is that my neighborhood decided to give money to a charity rather than doing the traditional neighbor gifts. A neighbor gift by definition is that Lehi Roller Mills mix from 2006 that just got dropped off on your doorstep. Or the perennial favorite--the can of Steven's Hot Cocoa that your neighbor got from their neighbor and is (as you read this) in the process of putting a tag on to give to you. See, that's the beauty of neighbor gifts, they are basically just recycled items that go from home to home to home.

Two years ago, we had a very well-meaning home teacher who we never saw. When he would call to set up appointments, my husband would tell him we could feel the love through the phone call and that we would call that good for the month. Well, one evening in December he dropped by with a gift for our family--it was, in fact, the ubiquitous Lehi Roller Mills mix. The funny thing was, once he left, I discovered that he had left the old tag still attached that read to his family from another family. We got a good laugh about that.

I feel like it is a challenge each year to find a new and cute neighbor gift for under 5$ each. I've done the Martinellis, I've done the Bath and Body Works soap. I've done pineapples. One year, we gave 6 packs of Krispie Kreme donuts and that seemed to be popular. They come in white boxes with green polka dots so they look festive with a red ribbon.

What do you give for neighbor gifts? Have you ever regifted a neighbor gift? Be honest!

Recipe Extravaganza #2 Carrot Cake

To me, carrot cake seems to go with Easter, not Christmas. But I make mine year round. I consider this my own recipe because I altered another recipe I liked and made it my own. This recipe doesn't call for raisins, pineapple or any other ingredient that is an abomination to carrot cake. I don't mean to toot my own horn but this cake has a cult following. Enjoy.

Carrot Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp allspice
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 egg whites
3 cups peeled, grated carrots
1 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)

Mix dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Spread in 2 greased 8" round pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, or until toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. Cool, then frost with Cream Cheese Frosting (see below).

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, softened
powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla.
a little milk

I put my cream cheese in the microwave for about 10 seconds to so to soften it.  Blend cream cheese and vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar and milk until desired thickness.  Beat until smooth. I like to put chopped walnuts on the top.

Friday, December 5, 2008

If Mom Says No, Ask Grandma

Luke making a gingerbread house with my mom last year

Recently, my mom was babysitting my kids at TJ Maxx. Yes, that's how it works. Anyway, Luke found a Halloween craft book (after Halloween) he had to have. She bought it for him and he started begging me to make the crafts with him. I called her and told her she owed me a solid for buying him the book--It was the middle of November and I had not the time nor the inclination to make Halloween finger puppets and masks with my 5 year old. I know, I'm in the running for Mother of the Year.

So she had Luke come to her house for a Grandma-sleepover. She first took him to the craft store to get all the supplies. They made five different Halloween crafts and went to McDonalds for dinner. He got to sleep in the fire-engine room. At 7:00 am he was in her grill demanding pancakes and eggs for breakfast. She got up and made them for him. Then he got to use her Christmas bath towels after the tub. He was ecstatic.

Luke with his Halloween mobile and spider

Luke with his egg shell finger puppets

Last night Sammie had her night with Grandma. She made a gingerbread house and Christmas roll-out cookies. She went to Kneaders for dinner (her choice) and slept in the big Princess bed. She also got pancakes and eggs for breakfast.

Sammie with her gingerbread house

That's just the kind of Grandma my mom is. She babysits, builds snowmen, and buys them just about everything in the world. Luke once asked me to buy him something. I said no and his reply was,"that's okay, I'll just ask Grandma."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

BYOB--Bring Your Own Bag

I seriously never think about global warming or the environment. Isn't that a horrible confession? But lately, for some odd reason, when the checker asks me "paper or plastic?" I've felt guilty saying either one. So I bit the bullet tonight and bought these babies.

Now I'm on a high. I feel good about myself--I'm green! I'm someone who recycles! I use cloth grocery bags! The last time I was on a high like this was because I let my friend Susan put some food in my fridge for a baptism. I was on cloud 9 for a good week. It doesn't take much for me to feel good about myself.

I really shouldn't be bragging though. I'm not that good. I did leave my cart in the middle of the parking spot next to me because I was too cold to put it away. But I bought cloth bags!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree(s)

We have four Christmas Trees. Let me introduce you to each one.

The Family Tree:

This tree is in the (wait for it!) family room. I actually let the kids help decorate it--and then I fix it once they go to bed. It is mostly Santas and snowmen with a few random things mixed in. This is where we put the ornaments that the kids make at school. I also have a tradition of buying an ornament whenever I go on a trip. These go here as well.

Mom's Tree:

I almost get teary-eyed telling the story of how this tree came to be. My kids and I were at Thanksgiving Point two years ago riding the trolley with a group of people from my neighborhood. It just so happened that TPoint had put all of their Christmas stuff on sale half price that day. I fell in love with these red and green balls. I called my husband and asked if it would be okay if I bought a few things for a tree in the living room. He was distracted with some game and mumbled a yes. I came home with all of it.

I'm pretty sure I had this tree in the pre-existence--I love it that much. The kids aren't allowed to touch it or help decorate it. Ignore the lamp cords and the fact that I cut off the top of the tree in the photo.

The Boys' Sports Tree:

Luke decorates the entire thing himself and I don't touch it. My mom sewed the bball tree skirt.

Sammie's Sweets Tree:

There is a tree under all those ornaments, I promise. I collected ornaments for this tree over a couple years time from Taipan and Roberts. I love this tree. Sammie understands that she can help unwrap the ornaments but not help decorate the tree because of the flocking. I am very anal about some things and Christmas brings it out in me.

This pink velvet Santa stands next to Sammie's tree. It is over 50 years old. My mom had it when she was a little girl and I had it when I was a little girl and now it is Sammie's. She plans to give it to her little girl.

Finally, while I was bathing my older two kids today, Ryan rolled his way to the tree (He doesn't crawl yet--he rolls where he needs to go!) He proceeded to unwrap two gifts--luckily one of them was for him. He got a gloworm! Someone needs to tell him horizontal stripes are not his best look.