Sunday, November 30, 2008

House renovations

As if hanging out with extended family (and I love them. I don't mean to be too sarcastic) is not stressful enough, we decided to revamp our house. It all started with this door and floor:
Which then lead to painting, because we* had to replace a piece of drywall that had rotted by the hole in the floor, so if we're going to paint, why not get new carpet? Yes, why not? And if we're getting new carpet, why not fix the entryway in the basement as well? And then why not. . . Okay. Stop. We had to stop.
*Mike did most of the work. I added helpful tips like, "That looks great." and "Shouldn't you be doing your homework?"
Mike did tons of work on this floor, including laying a new subfloor, hanging the door (with help from our good neighbor, Kyle), and putting in some new drywall.
Mike is brilliant! Look at this new flooring:
Old entry.New entry. I love it! He did such a good job.

Now, here's the old carpet and paint (We* didn't lay the carpet ourselves. We just prepped for it.) This picture doesn't really display the grossness that was our carpet, so here's another picture:As you can see my house is always clean. Always.

Our painted walls. I thought about leaving that blue tape up, just for contrast, but decided against it. Hannah was so pleased when there was no carpet. She ran around (we kept her from the precipice where no railing was), yelling, "House! House!"

Now the finished product! I love it! I've already tested the stain resistance of my new carpet by kicking a can of paint onto it. You'll be happy to know that it works great. (And that the paint matches the carpet very very well. After I kicked it over, I couldn't see where to clean up the spot, but the dark spots that kept coming up on my rag told me where it was.)
We began decorating for Christmas, but lost interest half way through. We'll do that for FHE tomorrow. Now all I need is a new couch. (And a new filing cabinet, and to finish painting the kitchen, and a new smaller computer chair, and a new end table, and some decorations for the walls, and a large family picture, and yeah, well. I just need to sit back and enjoy the fact that I have a house to live in.)

Everything you ever wanted to read and more

Holidays always remind me of why I love my family SO MUCH (said through a smile of gritted teeth). And I do, I love my family, especially when I get to see them at 4 high stress events crammed into 6 days.
This week I am also my most pleasant and wonderful self because I am A. PMSing; B.Repainting my house and getting new carpet; C.Trying to read the last book of the Twilight series and D. Not able to exercise because my knee is killing me. (Oh yeah, and denying myself the sustenance of life, Chocolate)

So, since I know that life is what you make of it, I don't want my family to disown me, and this was a week of Thanksgiving after all, I will try my best to give an unsarcastic account of the wonderfulness that was this week.

So we'll start with "Breaking Dawn" The last book in a series about vampires that is really about sex, but it's clean! And they're vampires. Mormons can read it!: My opinion is, "Meh." (That's now in the dictionary.) Okay, I'm not going to lie. I was totally sucked in. But I get totally sucked in when I'm reading "Catcher in the Rye" or "The Grapes of Wrath." My normal reading mania applied to this book as well. Now that I'm done, I'm just glad I'm done. Personally, I think Stephenie Meyers is brilliant. If only I had thought of a way to write about sex, that wasn't really about sex, I could have earned millions milking my "abstinence" stance. I probably won't see the movie either. Unless someone calls me and says, "Hey, let's go see that movie together."

Actually I'm sensing a really longwinded post so I'm going to do like 10 different short posts, and I'll try really hard not to cry when I get 0 comments.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The race is on

I've been sucked into the last book of the Twilight series (I'm so punny!), hence my laziness on a Monday point post. You should see my house and my poor neglected children. Those dumb books. So, last week was not so good. Mostly because I am lazy and hungry. I only got 6 points. I went swimming once and took Hannah to the base family gym, where she played nicely until some dumb boy hit her.
My mom is pretty much determined to win. Good luck this week. I'm taking Thanksgiving day off. :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tumbling back and forth

Kenzie: "Mom I don't want to goooooo to tuuumbling. I dooooon't waaaaaaahnt toooo gooo. I don't like it." Insert extreme sobbing.
Me: "I've already paid for it. You're going. At least three more times."
Me, internally: "Gosh, what kind of mom will I be if I just let her quit? But then again what kind of mom will I be if I force her to keep going? Should I just give in? Should I try to recruit a friend? Should I let her try a new class?" And then I resolve to make her keep going to tumbling. Because tumbling is wholesome and good and doesn't make you go to recitals. And tumbling isn't just geared to one sex. And it is useful. How many times have I wished that I could do a back handspring? I can't even count them, there's so many.
Then, next week before tumbling:
Kenzie: "No!" Yelled emphatically in her best 'I'm-in-charge-here' voice. "No! I don't want to go. Nooooooo. Insert whining.
At tumbling: No! Mom! No! Don't leave me!" She clings to my leg as her teacher tries to coax her to the mat. "No mom! I don't want to!"
Me, internally, "This is so not worth it. I'm telling her teacher this is her last week. Maybe."
Then during tumbling I took these pictures because I figure that would be one of my only chances if I give in. She has a friend, Rusti, taking dance and she's been asking me to take her to that, so I think I will maybe give that a try. (How's that for committing, non-committally?) Does this look like someone having a bad time?

Friday, November 21, 2008

New blog

Since my regular place of employment (the local newspaper where I write freelance stuff), hasn't called me, I have so much time without anything to can, I started another blog.

"Excited and Confused" will focus on my family and our adventures still, and Gaining Equilibrium will be my writing blog, a place full of angst and drama, and exciting swashbuckling tales of vampires. Well, maybe not so much angst or swashbuckling, and I think that vampire thing has been done. And maybe more humor, but some angst. Definitely some angst.

It will also be a nice place to pretend that someday I will publish a book, and to try and generate ideas for magazine publishing. So, if you're interested check it out at
AND LEAVE ME A COMMENT. (But only if you really want to.) (Please.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


The other day I was complaining about how motherhood doesn't have any awards. Yes, yes I know all about rewards, but what about awards? I love awards. Shouldn't Mike come home every once in awhile with an engraved plaque that reads : "To the Bestest Laundry-doer Ever!" or one of those taller than an NBA player trophies that says "Changing the Sheets with Flair and Style Award?" I think so. It could have a little bed on top. (But then people might get the wrong idea)

I blame this award love on my first grade teacher who had a reading contest (yes! Something I could win.), and gave out a trophy for the winner. I won! (Does this spell N-E-R-D to you?)

In second grade, there was another contest. This time the prize was a GLASS CLOWN. THAT SPUN IN CIRCLES. AND PLAYED MUSIC. Oh how I wanted that clown.

So, if my brain remembers correctly, two of us had the same amount of minutes (Nevermind that the other girl would always ask me if she could see my "minutes read card" before she recorded her minutes). So no one got the GLASS CLOWN. I got some book about Strawberry Shortcake. But it was still cool, right? Even if it didn't spin in circles and play music.

After winning this contest I went on to infamy in the third grade reading contest. Just kidding. I went on to be the last one in the class to pass times tables. And my parents started threatening me that if I didn't go outside they would never let me check out Nancy Drew from the library again.

But anyway, I love awards. I know I'm a nerd. Oh well, I have lots of certificates and plaques. (My most prized plaque is for MVP in Cross Country. Our XC team was hurting a bit that year. It lists my accomplishments which include, "83rd in State." Wow. 83rd. I plan to position that one prominently, right next to my first grade reading trophy, when I set up my trophy room.)

This long post was really just a way to say thanks to Jayedee for giving me an award.

My Spanish is a little rusty, but I think it means my blog is in the proximity of goodness. Thanks! Or maybe it means my blog is the proximal blog in the world. Or maybe, it means I rock. I'm pretty sure it's the third meaning.

Now I get to pass this award along.
So here's to Kathryn's Nanny Goat This is an awesome craft blog that my friend does. I love getting ideas from it. (Ideas that I promptly turn into ghetto-looking crafts. But they look good when she does them.)
And Heidi's family blog where she always posts the most uplifting and beautiful things. She just went private though. :(
And I also bequeath my sister Alisha with this blogging award. Because I love her. And I want her to become absolutely devoted to blogging, so I can read about her family every day. ;)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Point Count

Besides answering Hannah's "Why?" question all week: "No, Hannah.We don't climb on the table because we'll break our head open." "Stop Hannah! We don't eat paint because it will hurt our tummies." "Oh Hannah! Toilet paper is for wiping, not for unrolling and unrolling and stuffing in the toilet." And yes she's only 18 months old. I thought they didn't start this 'why?' thing until they were older, I have been attempting to exercise and not eat chocolate.
(That was a complicated sentence to punctuate. I think that means it was probably not a very good sentence. I'm sorry. The lack of chocolate is addling my brain.)
So, I was mostly successful. Except for that grasshopper brownie day and that one day when I just couldn't stand it and ate two (or three, or four) handfuls of chocolate chips in great gulping mouthfuls. Oh yeah, and I had to eat one of my mom's pie tarts. So I did alright in that area. It's a great improvement over the 6 pumpkin chocolate chip cookies a day, don't you think?
My exercising has consisted of two days of swimming, one day of biking and one day of extreme abs.
So I earned myself four points for not eating desserts and four points for exercising. How did you do?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Grasshopper Brownies

So perhaps you're wondering why I'm blogging about brownies in the middle of my Chocolate (deprivation) Challenge. Well, before I dreamed up the Challenge, I volunteered to make these terrific Grasshopper brownies (thanks for the recipe Holly) for our YW in Excellence Night.

Now, I like to experiment with my recipes sometimes (in a methodical, scientific way of course). So I heard that you could totally replace the butter in a recipe with applesauce, and since I was making three pans of these and covering them up with delicious frosting, I thought why not? Why not?

So one pan I made with all oil, one pan I made with 3/4 oil 1/4 applesauce, and the last pan I made with all applesauce. Sorry YW and your parents, but no one ever died from applesauce in their brownies. And the mint (89% alcohol, the mint not the frosting) frosting fixes everything anyway.
And for some reason people feel really happy after they eat these brownies. I can't figure it out.

So, if I were really on top of things and all scientific I would have done a blind taste test, but Mike wasn't home and these brownies were sending out siren calls of love, and I had to taste them to see if they were alright. Because I couldn't take yucky brownies to a night of Excellence, now could I? So I tasted them and here are my observations:

Applesauce brownies are dense and don't leave that delicious awesome chocolate taste in your mouth. They remove very easily from the pan (that is not sprayed).

Oil brownies are light and sticky and moist and AWESOME. AWESOME. AWESOME. And they don't come out of the pan very easily. You have to lick the knife when you cut them (unless you're cutting them for people you're not related to and then you have to pretend you didn't lick the knife). And you have to scrape the pan to get all of the brownie out, but it's worth it. You scrape the pan, and then you scrape it again because it was so good.

(Maybe you can't see the difference in texture in these pictures. I'm sorry. I have a really nice camera, but no ability to use it.)

3/4 oil, 1/4 applesauce are just like oil brownies! I couldn't tell a difference.

If I ever make these brownies again (not until January at least, when the Challenge is over), then I will have to see where the breaking point is on the applesauce. When do they become dense and not so awesomely good? 1/2 oil 1/2 applesauce?
And yes, I lost a point. But I had to. I'm pretty sure it's against the law to take food to a party that you haven't tasted yourself.

So here's the recipe:
Grasshopper Brownies:
2 boxes brownie mix

Mint Frosting:
4 c. powdered sugar
1 c. soft butter
2 Tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
4 drops green food coloring

Chocolate topping:
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 c. butter
1-2 tsp. peppermint extract

1. To make the brownies follow the recipe for "cake-like" brownies. Or if their isn't one, add 3 more eggs. Pour into a large, greased cookie sheet, bake and let cool completely.
2. To make the mint frosting, combine powdered sugar, butter, water, peppermint extract and food coloring. Mix. Spread over cooled brownies and refrigerate until hard on top.
3. To make chocolate topping microwave chocolate chips and butter for 2 minutes. Stir until all chocolate chips are melted and the mixture is smooth. Add 1-2 tsp. peppermint extract. As soon as this mixture thickens and is no longer hot, spread over mint topping on brownies. Put back into the refrigerator until hard.
4. This makes like 60 brownies. Seriously. Too many to not have a party if you make them.

Monday, November 10, 2008

All is not quiet on this front

If they give out daily awards for being an outstanding mother, today would not be my day.
First I kicked Hannah in the eye. I was trying to go up the stairs, and she was sitting right in the way. As I lifted my leg to go over her, she stood up (and let's face it my spatial awareness is not always right on), and I kicked her right in the eye with my heavy boots.

Next, I tried to poison her at lunch. I was trying to get her to eat a sandwich, "Come on Hannah. Eat the food," and I couldn't figure out why she kept crying and saying, "All done, all done," when she had only eaten one bite. I tried to feed her a few more bites, to no avail. Finally I just plopped her out of her high chair and sent her to bed. Later, when I was cleaning up I noticed that the jam I had used on her sandwich was growing its own colony of mold. Nice.

After that, things went a little better until I was ignoring her and she fell off a chair and got another black eye.

I think God made children's memories short for a reason. Otherwise we'd all need therapy.

And so it begins. . .

Today, the chocolate challenge is officially beginning! Good luck participants.
All participants will win an invite to a kid-free fondue party at the end (of course there will be chocolate involved), and the overall winner gets. . .
Some canned peaches?!? I can't think of a TOTALLY AWESOME prize that I can provide through some talent of mine. None of my talents really turn into totally awesome prizes. I could run a race in your name? Or I know, I know, I could help you refinish your piano! (On second thought, that might be more of a punishment than a prize.) Wait, wait, I could name my next child after you (not an announcement and not really a talent of mine either)!

So I still don't know what the overall winner gets besides all the GLORY.

Anyway, good luck. I'll think of something. (Although, secretly I don't plan to have to give out a prize, because I am going to win. *Throws down the gauntlet*)

P.S. It's not too late to join. Just leave me a comment with your supersecret/not-so-secret identity and keep track of how many days you exercise and don't eat a dessert. Next Monday I'll put up a post to collect your points (one point for exercise and one point for dessert-free) and keep a tally in my sidebar.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

So Darn Repair-astic

*Warning* I've stopped believing in brevity.
I can't find an adjective that means "good at construction and being a handyman." What's a good word?
Because that is what Mike has been this past week. Starting with replacing the back and front brakes on our car last Friday, moving to replacing faulty electrical outlets (The microwave wasn't working, and I was convinced it was the microwave, not the outlet. I had to use the oven to cook chicken nuggets this week. I felt like a pioneer except I didn't have to wear a dress, gather buffalo chips, cook over an open fire, or walk thousands of miles), and finishing with ripping out our nasty floor and front door and replacing it. The "insulation" on our old door consisted of the wood trim. They put the door in and didn't seal it or anything. They didn't bother to move the sprinkler they had trained directly on it either, so hence the nasty rotting pothole next to the door.
Now we have a new door, and we will soon have a new floor (thanks to the leftovers from my parents' wood floor), and a new piece of wall (which means we have to paint!). On Friday, I'm getting the nasty carpets cleaned.

I was reading Mary's picture tag and one part says to take a picture of your favorite room in your house and I thought about what I would take a picture of and felt depressed. I guess I could go outside and take a picture of my backyard. I like it better than any room in my house.
My next project is to make at least one room in our house my favorite room. Maybe, once the entryway is done I'll pretend it's a room and put a chair down there (it's only like 3'X7', just wide enough to open the door), that way I'll feel better about my plain-jane house. I'll post pictures of the new entryway when the floor is in (hopefully on Wednesday). Good job Mike! You are amazing.

Now it's time for a kiddo update:
Hannah is busy trying to rule the universe and eat all the candy in it. She loves her sister "Ten-sie!" and follows her around trying to act like a mini-me. Lately she tries to tell me to "Fix it." But she can't really pronounce Xs. So it sounds like she is saying a really bad swear word. Especially when she starts yelling in frustration, because I don't wrap the dolly in the right manner. Adorable.

She doesn't say "Yes," although she tries to repeat everything else we say. Instead she nods her head very solemnly. That really is adorable. Her favorite things are dollies and the book "Fancy Nancy." I don't understand this Fancy Nancy addiction (at her age). She honestly loves that book. It is one of the only ones she will sit still for and she brings it to me all the time asking me to read, "Fancy, Fancy." Her latest obsession with "hugs, hugs" comes from the picture at the end of the book where the little sister gives Fancy Nancy a hug. That is a sweet book.

Kenzie is such a sweet big sister. I poured her a glass of hot chocolate and she called Hannah upstairs so she could share with her. She loves to share with Hannah and laughs (nicely) when Hannah tries to copy her, "Silly Hannah-Banana." Kenzie loves Joyschool, hates her tumbling class when she's not there, and loves playing dress up. She won't eat any food at dinner but says sweetly at the beginning of each meal, "Thank you for making this delicious dinner." She loves breakfast cereal and is seriously upset when I make pancakes or waffles (which rarely happens anyway).
Her memory is phenomenal. One week she was crying about tumbling saying she didn't want to go, so I told her she had to at least go three more times because I'd already paid for it. That quieted her down and she seemed okay with tumbling. I forgot all about the tumbling hatred. Then on the way home last week she said to me, "Mom, it's been three times." At first I had no idea what she was talking about, and murmured something like, "Oh hmmm." Then I remembered about her three week ago melt down. Yeah, so much for me and my promises because I still made her go to tumbling, saying something lame like, "Well, we're still going."

I'm waffling on the tumbling thing, because she likes it so much when she is there, and because I don't want to teach her that quitting is how to deal with things. On the other hand, I don't want to be one of those insane parents who pushes and pushes their children and yells things like, "I didn't have these opportunities when I was your age! Do it! You will live the life I never had."
So, I can't decide what to do about that. I love this rocking chair. Every night I rock both of my girls for just one song as part of our bedtime routine. For awhile I was only rocking Hannah, but one night Hannah didn't want to rock with me. It made me so sad, I asked Kenzie (in an attempt to garner Hannah's jealousy) if she wanted to rock with me. She jumped at the chance and cried the next night when I told her she was too big to rock every night. As I write this, I can see what a lousy parent I am in so many ways. I don't mean to be. I'm trying not to be so lame. Now I rock both my girls.
Chik chik, chik chik
Back and forth.
In the quiet your
hair dusts my cheek.
Chik chik, chik chik
My heart keeps time
And I hold you gently, trying not to squeeze too hard--
Knowing that you won't always want this.
And in this moment,
Chik chik, chik chik
Going nowhere means Everything.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Laughing my guts out

I hope this embedding thing works. Over at Crazy Bloggin Canuck, I always laugh my head off, and she shared this video that made me spit on my clothes (a job usually reserved for my children).

Just in case it doesn't work, see some hilarious swimming here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Challenge

I LOVE CHOCOLATE. This is not just a little crush. This is a full-fledged lifetime affair. But lately, chocolate and I have been seeing a little too much of each other. Now, now Chocolate, don't cry. I'm not swearing you off forever, I just need to take it back a step. (Let's just say that I don't think eating 6 large pumpkin chocolate chip cookies in a two hour span is indicative of self control and health.)
So, here it is, a new challenge. Since I have no self control, this challenge has to be kind of strict. I also have to involve other people, because the problem is self control, so if I am accountable to others maybe I can develop some self control (this kind of circular logic always works for me).
SO join me!
Here's how we'll do it, if you want to join.
1. Each day you don't eat a dessert you earn a point. (So if you want to go all healthy crazy, then you can vow off all desserts and then you'll earn more points than me because I'm giving myself one day to go crazy.) I'm not going to argue about what is a dessert and what isn't. That was a total downfall of my last challenge with Mike. If you don't think rice pudding is a dessert, then fine, eat it.
2. Each day you exercise you earn a point. 30 minutes of exercise. Doing whatever causes you to sweat. I know, I know running is harder than biking and so forth and so on, but I have to keep this simple.

This starts Monday, Nov. 10. Every Monday I'll post a point collection post, and you can post your points in the comments.
If you want to join, then leave me a comment with your "Chocolate Challenge" supersecret (it won't really be supersecret, just kind of secret) identity. I'll keep a point tally on my sidebar. (Thanks Kim for the idea) This challenge will end on Monday, Jan 5, 2009.
OH yeah, one more rule:

3. No whining. Last time I tried this I whined to Mike so much that he finally gave in and the bet just kind of fell apart. I ruined it and it made me sad. So no whining. Sorry, no points will be awarded for this, just peace and happiness.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I've decided

It's been a rough political century. Oh. You say they've only been campaigning for the past two years? It feels like a century. I guess that's just the age of John McCain.
Well after much back and forth over which liar would best serve our country, and after epiphany after epiphany of who to vote for, I announce that I will be voting for. . .
EL VEZ! The Mexican Elvis. He wears sparkly pantsuits, sings "I ain't nothing but a Chihuahua" and advocates that Mexico be given statehood. Todos of our problemas will be bueno with El Vez. What more could you want? (Except maybe a viable healthcare plan, term limits on every office, an economic solution where they don't throw money at people who have proven they don't know what to do with it, a balanced budget where they realize that if you spend more than you bring in there are going to be problems, and a solution to the war in Iraq.)
So there you have it. EL VEZ for PREZ.
I'll see you at the polls, where as Hollie said, I'll have plenty of time while waiting in line to flip flop like a politician running for president.
*I don't really know where EL VEZ stands on the issues. I just know that he rocks in his blue suede sombrero. *