Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hannah sleeps in a Big Bed

With Kenzie I had a sense of urgency regarding getting her out of the crib and into a big girl bed. Hannah was coming and I wanted Kenzie to feel comfortable and not displaced by the new baby. With Hannah, I almost have a sense of reluctance. What, reluctance? From the mom who can't wait for her children to grow up? I guess I'm just comfortable with the way things are: Hannah the vaseline eater safely contained in a crib and Kenzie close to the ground on a bed that we hope will last forever.

Kenzie at age 1 year 11 months in her first big girl bed. I was so worried about the baby displacement thing I borrowed this bed from my mom before we bought the bunk beds a month later.

Safely tucked away in the garage was the second bunk bed. For when Hannah got older. And more obedient. Since neither of those days was approaching, I dismissed Mike's suggestion that we break out the bunkbeds this last weekend. Hannah was not old enough. Neither was Kenzie. Really. They were too young. No I mean it. Finally, I decided that maybe I was being a little constraining and it was time for a big girl bed. But I still wouldn't let Mike take down the crib.

Mike working diligently to put the bed together while the girls lay on each other and giggle. We bought the top bunk when we bought Kenzie's bed, knowing that we'd eventually need it.

I want options. Just in case this big girl bed is a bad idea. So far it's been a hit. Kenzie loves being on the top bunk and Hannah enjoys her bed. Last night was little rough what with Hannah climbing up the ladder every time we turned out the lights but otherwise naps and bed time have gone well. She's only fallen out twice. (I know you can buy those bed fences or whatever they're called, but part of Mike and my parenting philosophy is a few falls before you learn are good motivators. That's of course, only if the bed is close enough to the ground.)

I love it when they pretend to sleep. Here they are on the bottom bunk. I'm excited to make matching rag quilts for them with my mom. We're doing variations on pink. Except this time we're making the squares 12", not 6". 6" is a nightmare.

Since the room is small and I haven't allowed the crib to come down yet (I probably will this weekend), I've lost my makeshift dresser/changing table. This means I should be motivated to potty train Hannah. Yes, I'm definitely feeling the love for cleaning up poop and pee and being subject to "I need to go potty," whims. I love dropping everything to run to the bathroom and then clapping excitedly and doing the potty dance. That was sarcasm. Although I really do enjoy potty dances.

So I guess they're growing up. Dang it. (And thank goodness. When does the whining "mamamamamama" stop when we're around strangers/close family/anyone but Mike or I?)

The exciting and new top bunk. Notice how I have totally sold out and the abhorred princesses decorate the wall.

On the ladder of death. It hasn't been the ladder of death yet, but I'm pretty sure that with my girls' (inherited from me) coordination, this will become the ladder of death.

P.S. As I post this I can hear Hannah wandering around the bedroom. Did I say it was going well? I lied.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I almost forgot- points

Okay all. I will not torture you with another bonus week. I am raising the white flag. Only 28 points possible this final week.
I think everyone pretty much gave up after the bonus week. We lost four points this week because we kind of gave up. A flaw in this contest is that once you fall behind, there's no way to make it up. How can I remedy that? I was hoping bonus week would shake it up a bit, but really it didn't. Next time I'm doing something crazy like requiring those in the lead to accept gifts of delicious food from those who are losing. Or maybe I should have second and third prize too. I don't know. What do you think?
Good luck to everyone in this last week. It looks like the Pebleys (both teams) and my parents have the best possibility of winning.
If you are yelling, "Uncle, uncle," and just want to send the $5, you can either mail me a check or use paypal (it's easy and free, I think). Email me if you need my address: chambers dot steph at gmail dot com.
Happy Eating and Exercising! Leave your points in the comments.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Life Without Mike

I survived, but only barely. Two weeks ago Mike left for leadership training in Alabama for his job. It was a long two weeks which made me count my blessings (1. Mike, 2. Mike and 3. Mike, etc.). I survived mostly by feeding the children cold cereal and letting them do whatever they wanted. My goal was to keep them loving me after having to spend 24/7 together. I was trying to reverse the syndrome of Absent Parentitis- a disease wherein kids love the parent who is gone and despise the parent who does all the mean, cruel things like make them go to quiet time and brush their teeth. I think the Disney On Ice bought me some love and then the nights I was so tired and said, "Sure. Eat chocolate for dinner. Whatever you want. Just leave me alone," bought me some good love. And those ponies I bought them at the thrift store, that was a good Parentitis-fighting move.

Mostly I survived by spending as little time at home as possible. I went to my mom's. I went to Mike's mom's. I ate with friends. My sisters visited. As long as I didn't have to face dinner alone, I wasn't too lonely. It was hard to sleep alone. But I knew it would end. I knew Mike was coming home in just a short two weeks.

Really, in the scheme of things two weeks isn't unbearable. My thoughts were often with the wives of men who leave often. I can't imagine being a military wife. Millions of women sacrifice so much. They say it's the men that are sacrificing to go and fight the wars. Yes, that's a sacrifice. And their women are sacrificing so much as well.

I asked Mike half jokingly, since he was a civilian at a military training, if they were trying to recruit him: "Are you sure this isn't some elaborate and expensive scheme to get you to join?"

Mike gave up a dream of flying for the Air Force when we were dating (or maybe it was before, he just cemented it as we got serious). I still remember asking him on our second date what he wanted to be. We were driving in his parent's van up to a mountain for a hike. He had just told me he liked my glasses and somehow we were talking about what we wanted to do when we grew up.

He said that he wanted to fly F-16s for the Airforce, but he didn't think that was a very family-friendly occupation, so he was still trying to decide. Maybe, he said, he would do something with engineering.

Before I was even close to marriage, my view of raising children was, "Hey, I didn't sign up for this alone." I am decidedly anti long business trips and other long absences. His answer fit in with my vision of what a family should be like. But part of me mourns the loss of a dream. And I know I'm partially to blame for that dream-killing.

I know if I said to Mike, "Hey, I want to dedicate my life to becoming a world class 800 meter runner," or some other crazy scheme, he would support me and do whatever it took to help me achieve that goal.

Sometimes, after a visit to Mike's childhood room draped with model airplanes and clearly labeled pictures of every airplane under the sun, or after Mike says something about always loving the sound of jets taking off on the runway, I tentatively shake out the old-linen dream of him wanting to fly; "Are you sure that's not what you want to do?"

And he always smiles and wraps me up in his arms, and says, "No. I like my job. I like how it is with us." And I quietly fold the dream back up and place it in the drawer next to mine, taking care to not let the moths get it, or the dust become too streaky.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Blah Blah Points

I'm excited to see how you all are did in the Bonus Week of the Challenge! We did pretty well, considering that Mike was gone for the last two weeks on a business trip, and this causes stress. And we all know stress is relieved best by chocolate. I perservered though and let down my guard only once for Reid's b-day brownies and ice cream. I am just glad this week is over. If this weren't the points post I would wax ecstatic about how glad I am that Mike is back and that I am not an army/navy/airforce wife. I'll save that for another post though. Let's leave it at, "I love Mike and I hate living without him for any extended period because he's pretty much like the air I breathe." I'm pretty sure that won't win me any poetry contests but it gets the idea across.

Anyway, we got 40 points out of 42.

Warning, the last week of the contest, the 25th through the 1st of April will be a bonus week too. This next week, we're back to 28 points possible. Enjoy those desserts (in one serving size of course!). Good luck!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Girls Night Out

For weeks now, Kenzie has been saving her "tickets" (Our discipline system that we also use to help her do things by herself that she otherwise whines for us to do for her), and I have been magically turning them into quarters for her to save for the coveted opportunity to see Ariel skate herself into trouble and an early marriage at Disney on Ice.

My magic skills are the best in the business, bar none. "Look Kenz, what's that over there?" And suddenly her tickets are quarters. I plan to offer "Tricking Your Child" classes soon.

On Thursday, all of our dreams came true as Hannah, Kenzie and I journeyed to Energy Solutions (Nuclear Waste in your Backyard) Center with my mom and had a terrific time.

We celebrated in true American style by visiting McDonalds first where the Littlest Pet Shop Happy Meal toy almost trumped Disney on Ice. I am very thankful for that LPS monkey--it made it so I only had to say, "No, we're not buying a $18 spinning Tinkerbell sucker," once. Because then I said, "You already have this awesome monkey." And that was the end of it.

When we got to the Nuclear Waste Center there were millions of people and lots of little girls dressed up like princesses. I had heard about this from some friends who went last year, and I brought the girls' Cinderella dresses, but I left them in the car after having a moral dilemma with myself over the spoiling of children. Sometimes I have these quandries with myself. I kind of hate princesses and all they represent. But then there is this sucker/romantic/foolish/irresponsible part of myself that allows my girls to get completely caught up in the "magic." If I had to start over as a mom, I don't think I would have so many Disney movies introduced into my girl's lives. But now it's too late and I'm at Disney on Ice and there are worse things I could introduce my children to, like South Park or crack cocaine.

So, ever the super-Grandma, my mom ran back to the car and Kenzie and Hannah were transformed. They loved it and tried to twirl in the narrow aisle bumping the swearing, nose/lip ring family in front of us. Sorry, sorry.

Finally the lights went down and out came Mickey and Minnie and co. Hannah loved Donald Duck. Kenzie was transfixed from the beginning to end. Of course her favorite was Ariel. I always try to explain that Ariel is somewhat bratty and gets married too young, but Kenzie explains her redeeming qualities to me. "Mom, Ariel was nice this time."

All in all it was a nice evening. I have to admit that the props were amazing and the skating was pretty cool. It was really fun to watch Kenzie and her little face. She only burst out in excited dancing once, but she was glued to the action. Thanks mom for coming with us and for going to get the dresses. The girls loved it. I wish we had a picture with my mom, but she took this one for us.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Having Fun the Hannah Way (points too)

For those of you who just don't know what fun is (mom!) I thought I, Hannah, would write a little manual to show everyone how to have fun during a normal, boring day.
1. First, trick your mom into thinking you are potty training. When you want some attention, tell her you have to go potty. When she puts you on the potty, ask incessantly for a "peepee towel" to wipe with, even though you have no intention of going potty in the potty. Duh, that's what diapers are for. When your mom won't give you a "peepee towel" reach for the toilet paper and grab as much possible before mom finally takes the roll off of the holder and sets it on the counter, which ingeniously leads to your next step for fun.
2. When mom is busy take the roll of toilet paper and drop it in the toilet. Splash around some. Toilet water is great for the complexion.
3. Fun can be had twice during the day with this routine. Vary your evening toilet routine by making sure mom is in the middle of her dinner. Demand that you need to go potty. When your sister asks your mom, "Please mom, don't go with Hannah. Stay here with me to eat," insist that you really must "Go potty! Go potty!" that instant. As your mom follows you out of the room, stare back at your sister triumphantly. Repeat steps 1 and 2.
4. While mom is brushing your sibling's teeth and steps out to answer the phone, in the matter of 5 seconds flat manage to grab the tub of vaseline and (don't eat it, it tastes yucky, trust me), smear gobs of it on your face. Scream angrily when mom wipes it off.
5. During meals instead of eating, grab your napkin, stick it in your mouth and yell, "Me crazy! Me crazy!" while shaking your head back and forth and thwarting mom's attempts to take the napkin.
6. When your sister coughs with a mouth full of Kool aid, all over mom and her dinner, mimic the act, fakely spitting KoolAid into your meal and onto your mom.
7. While mom is changing your diaper, grab indiscriminately down there. Clench your fists and scream as your mom tries to wash your hands afterwards.
8. If mom is frowning grumpily while she changes your diaper, squinch your eyes shut and move your jaw up and down, making whispering noises. You know you're cute.
9. Resist everything.
10. If mom is not paying enough attention to you (almost always), say in your most pitiful, whiny voice, over and over, "mama, mom, mama, mom, mama."
11. Scoot your chair over to the countertop and stand on it. Reach around blindly. You'll be sure to find something fun to play with like medication or scissors.

There. I'm sure there's more ways to have fun, like running into the street or eating cigarette butts off the ground, but I haven't discovered them yet. I'll let you know when I do.
Love, Hannah

P.S. Post your points here. Mike is being perfect. I am being sick and unmotivated. We got 25. Remember tomorrow (Wednesday) begins the bonus points week. No dessert/treats equals an extra point that day! Good luck.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Holy Manoly

It is snowing lightly as I load my mountain bike onto the car rack. I feel like I should be taking my bike into a nice warm store for maintenance, not driving up to Snowbasin in a snow storm to ride the thing.

But that's what I'm doing. Not only am I going to ride, I'm going to snowshoe, run, and ski uphill and downhill.

I am in decent shape, since I'm trying to get ready to run a spring marathon, but I've never rode my bike in the snow, and I most certainly have never skied up hill and then telemarked down. I am a mediocre, frightened skier, so I imagine trying telemark for the first time during a race should be terrifying.

That's okay. I can do terrifying because it's short. This race--the Xterra media race--was put together by Team Unlimited. Instead of their normal sit down, have a sandwhich, talk to the athletes press conference, they decided to let us try the events that we write about the pros doing. I've been promised that the race distance is just a fraction of the real 10K bike, 5K snowshoe, 5K run, 8k ski mountaineering race distance. Like a quarter to a half a mile. I can do that. I talk positively to myself. I CAN do that.

I also figure that I can maybe even do okay in this race. How many journalists/media people are actually do something besides sit around and write/look good on tv? It turns out, quite a few.

After getting outfitted for telemark skis ("Just keep your weight over the bindings and don't try to lean forward"), I'm set. I huff up the mountain with my bike, snowshoes, skis, poles and helmet to the start. There are about 10 of us at the start of the race. I meet Melissa and Jenny from the Sports Guide who also assure me that they have never done anything like this. I feel much better. If I'm endo-ing in the snow, maybe I won't be the only one.

We all nervously line up on the snow at the top of a rather steep snow-covered and groomed hill. I remember the tips from the guy at the bike store--"it's like riding through sand," he said. "Just don't brake." As he said this I flashed back to the time I rode through sand. I remember flying over my handlebars, not being able to breathe, and a lot of blood. I am not comforted.

"5,4,3,2,1 Go!" Down the hill we "ride." Most of us slide, fall and tumble down the hill. It is like riding through sand: wobbly and unsure. Instinctively I reach for the brake, but I remember just in time and although I can't keep a straight line down the mountain, surprisingly I avoid flying over the handlebars. The hill flattens out and loops around the sledding hill. Halfway around the loop I can't get any traction. I keep cranking, but nothing is happening. I'm not sure how many people are ahead of me. Probably a lot.

Brian Smith and Rebecca Dussault, the pros who eventually win the big race on Sunday, cheer for me. Smith yells, "Have you let any air out of your tires?" "No!" I yell back. "I'll get your front and Rebecca will get the back," he says as they kneel down to let the air out of my tires. There is an immediate difference. I am actually moving again in the somewhat soft snow. Smith sticks with me for awhile on his skis. He actually pushes me back up the original hill we went down, into the transition area.

Back out on the same loop in our snowshoes, I feel much more confident and even pass a guy. "This is more your element, huh?" he asks. I grunt at him, unable to form a sentence or coherent thought.

Alex, of is way ahead and I high five him as I go out the loop and he heads back up. I think I might be the first female and this motivates me some. I can see the Deseret News gal behind me on the loop. She might catch me, so I truck it up the hill to slip out of the snowshoes and back out for a run.

I should be able to run faster but my heart rate has accelerated to levels I never dreamed. Instead of pushing the run, I stick with a shuffle. Up the hill of the run almost to the transition I pass the KUTV2 guy, who is walking.

As I tug my ski boots on, I hear him say something about his heart rate being 180 and having to slow down.

"Pshhh to heartrates. See you later sucker," I think. (Sometimes I am a little competitive.)

It takes me awhile to get used to the gliding up the mountain with skis. Just before I head out I remember that the rental guy said there's an elevating bar to help keep your heel up. I push it up and head up and up and up and then up some more. I am pretty sure that I lost the turnoff somewhere because this is never-ending madness. Just when I think I've hit the top, the mountain throws another steep pitch at me. I hear someone yell behind me, "You've got to be kidding!" I am pretty sure they lied about the distance on this one.

The heartrate guy is gaining, but he pauses every once in awhile and I keep trucking. Finally the top. While Nicolas Lebrun (a world-champion ski mountaineering and triathlete) helps me take my skins off, I see another girl. Dang! Where'd she come from? She takes off down the mountain.

"You guys are going to make this a race," someone remarks to me.

Ummm yeah. If I had ever telemarked or skied gates before, maybe. I am nowhere near in shape to chase after her. Somewhere in the transition shuffle Fields Mosely (the KUTV2 guy) passes me. I let go of being competitive and concentrate on not breaking my leg.
I am ashamed to admit that I resorted to the good old snow plow. I did get every gate though. And I didn't break my leg.

After the race there is hot chocolate and excellent food. I sit with Jenny and Melissa and hash about how it really was crazier than we thought it would be. I also decide to learn how to telemark and that I will drink hot chocolate after every workout now. The Xterra people give us "medals" (Xterra dog tags) and clap loudly as they read our times. They make us feel like superstars. It took me about 56 minutes to do everything. Before the race I honestly thought I would have to go out and do a workout after it because it was going to be so short. Ha.

I honestly can't believe how hard that was. And how awesome. At least now I can wear the Xterra t-shirts they give us every year and only feel like a fraction of a fraud.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Anyone selling breathing space?

Right now I am clinging to the last available breathing space in my left nostril. And I have an earache. This probably has something to do with the fact that I went and biked/snowshoed/ran/skied in the snow on Thursday. NOt that I'm saying that you get colds from going outside, I'm just saying it probably made it worse. I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's a New Day

Alright peoples-
Count 'em up and put 'em down. Those of you that are achieving perfection and near perfection in our Couples Challenge, good job! Those of us that aren't, let's keep trucking along. Next week I plan to do a *bonus* week which involves points for hot air ballooning and hippopotamus taming.
Not really. My hot air balloon has a hole in it and my hippo ran away, so instead I'll offer bonus points for eating no desserts/sweets at all. An extra 14 points will be possible next week. I'm announcing this early so that you have time to mentally prepare for this hardship.
So this week, March 4-March 11 is the same, 28 points possible. Next week, March 11-March 18, 42 points will be possible.
Now, math has always been my one great failure (yes, I only have one), so if you are keeping track and notice that my sidebar is wrong, please inform me.
Mike and I scored 26 points this week.
May the force be with you.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hannah and the cookies

For Kenzie's birthday I made some "Kiss" drop cookies. And they turned out pretty yummy. (I lost a point for eating desserts that day). We didn't eat the cookies at the tea party so I left them on the cooling rack on the table.

Nothing is safe at our house. I sat down for a breather (yeah I was probably checking my blog to see if I had any new comments; no, I didn't), and when I turned around Hannah had managed to eat all of the Hershey Kisses out of the cookies. I'm glad she's turned away from the vaseline habits she was forming and found something infinitely more delicious and fattening. (I guess vaseline could be fattening. Who knows?)

Why does she get to live my dream life? I've always wanted to take those cookies and eat the middles out of them. It rates right up there with my fantasy of driving down the highway hitting all the orange barrels. Although with this recipe, I'm more likely to eat the cookie too. (She is crying because I caught her and yelled at her while taking her picture, not because she wishes I had put Vaseline in the middle of the cookies.)

Here's the recipe, with the parts I ignored bolded:
1/2 c. butter or margarine, softened
2/3 c. sugar
1 egg, separated
2 Tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c. all purpose flour
1/3 c. cocoa
1/4 tsp. salt
26 Hershey's kisses

Beat butter, sugar egg yolk, milk and vanilla in medium bowl until fluffy. Stir together flour, cocoa and salt; graudally add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour or until firm enough to handle.
2. Heat oven to 350. Lightly grease cookie sheet. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. With fork beat egg white slightly. Dip each ball into egg white; roll in nuts. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Press thumb gently in center of each cookie.
3. Bake cookies 10-12 minutes or until set. Mean while prepare Vanilla Filling (recipe below). Remove wrappers from chocolate pieces. Remove cookies from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool 5 minutes. Spoon about 1/3 tsp. prepared filling into each thumbprint. Gently press chocolate pice onto top of each cookie. Cool completely.

Vanilla Filling
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine, softened
2 tsp. milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

I'm not saying I recommend that you ignore what I did, I'm just saying it worked out. And they tasted good.