What do you want for Christmas little boy?

Every time I think of sitting on Santa's lap all I can hear in my head is the scene in "A Christmas Story." Things like, "I like the Wizard of Oz. I like the Tin Man." "Football? What's a football?" On to my story:

We went to a Christmas party with my sister and the big man was there. This is the first year the Silly One has actually wanted to sit on Santa's lap and talk to him. This was a big deal. Sometimes it is hard being a parent and really knowing what your kid wants for Christmas. It is easy when they are little and they are just excited to get a present. Last year the Silly One became obsessed with wanting a Mack truck (from the Cars movies) in early December. I just kept waiting for that to happen this year because whenever I'd ask him he would make some crazy thing up (ie: a huge Santa that would move and talk on its own, seriously sounds creepy to me). I figured this was my chance, he would tell Santa what he wanted and I would finally know. 

He first stood next to Santa and talked to him. We then convinced him to sit on his lap to get a picture with Santa and the Small One. As we walked away, I asked the Silly One what he asked Santa for. He responded, "I told him I wanted a Samurai Castle just like mine for my brother." This is what Santa brought him last year. My heart melted, my sweet boy didn't ask for anything for himself but instead something he likes for his brother. (Now true, he could be thinking that if there were two he wouldn't have to share but I'll stick with the sweet thought.) What a wonderful example to me of the true Christmas spirit, being Christlike to those around us and being truly selfless. 


More than a Holiday

Today I attended Time Out For Women with my Mom and one of my sisters. It was a nice break and there were some wonderful messages. I saw this video and I feel it explains exactly what I was feeling last night and what I have a goal to accomplish. 

"Giving thanks isn't a holiday. It's how people live."
Happy Thanksgiving!


Forced Thankfulness?

I started a blog post about a month ago after the first ER visit with the Small One but didn't like the direction it was going so I never finished it. I haven't even blogged about that kid's birthday on our family blog. It has been a hard month for us, I won't go into all the details. The quick facts: the Small One ended up with a skull fracture, the Silly One got 5 stitches in his chin after crashing on his bike and the Smart One was in the ER earlier this evening and ended up getting a gastroscope. (Hence I referenced the "first" ER visit.) After the first incident I had a huge wake up call as to how precious life really is, things are fine one moment and can be gone the next. Thankfully everyone is fine, even as I write this. The boys are healed and back to their normal (crazy and wild) selves. 
The Smart One is sleeping it off and hopefully will be back to normal tomorrow. I thought about writing a blog post about being thankful for modern medicine and the wonderful things they are able to do and discover in an instant, it is Thanksgiving in a week after all. I thought about writing how thankful I am for my wonderful little family and how each of them mean the world to me. I could go on and on about the thoughts I had about being thankful but as I was thinking I realized it is more than just being thankful. I need to live that gratitude. 
My greatest blessings, as silly as they are!
A few years ago at a large Thanksgiving dinner (my favorite way to have it) there was a particularly poignant thought on the favor that year. I liked it so much it has been stuck to my fridge ever since. It spoke of not just giving thanks but in actually living it. We shouldn't have to be forced into thankfulness as I feel I am at times. And yet here I am overwhelmed by my feelings just for 3 people, not counting the many others who impact my life for good. My goal this Thanksgiving season and moving forward is to not just be grateful and thankful for the bounteous blessings I have been given but to act on that gratitude. To show those people that mean more to me than anything how wonderful I think they are. To strive to share the blessings I have with others around me.
"Gratitude is expressed in prayer and thanksgiving, but more so in living lives of honor and integrity, of kindness and compassion, in awareness of others and their needs, and an honest expression of gratitude for all those who bless and affect our lives for good. Thanksgiving is best expressed in thanks-living -in lives of goodness and obedience and love and service."
- A. Theodore Tuttle


Time of Need

Yes, I am writing this blog post during General Conference but I wanted to share "the good" I just witnessed before I forgot. I was running some errands with the Silly One during sessions. We were on our way home and waiting to turn left onto the major street that goes to our neighborhood. The light turned green and we didn't move, I started to feel impatient and frustrated that someone obviously wasn't paying attention. I then saw two guys jump out of two different vehicles in front of me. I saw a guy on a motorcycle who just turned stop and get off. They all saw a man unable to start or move his car and started to push the car. I didn't make it through the light but wasn't frustrated anymore. I watched as a couple of guys stayed to see how they could continue to help. I wondered about myself and willingness to watch out for the welfare of others. I was so amazed at how quickly those guys were there to help that other man in his time of need. It was inspiring and another one of those moments where my faith in mankind is uplifted. There are good people out there, all around us. Everyone struggles and some of those struggles are more visible than others.


Eating Right

I gained a few extra pounds over the summer and after I saw my little brother post something on facebook I wanted to remember it. I try to eat healthy but I also eat chocolate and popcorn like they are their own food groups needing daily consumption. (sigh) Anyway these were his tips that he learned from a Weight Management Class at BYU. 

1. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables. They fill you up without adding too many calories. 

2. Don't eat out. Restaurants, both fast food and more expensive, are all about getting people to come back. So they prepare foods that are delicious and mildly addicting. Which means they use a lot of fats, greases, and sugars. 

3. Don't drink your calories. Be it in the form of juices, smoothies, soda, milk, etc., liquids don't fill you up, but often add unnecessary calories to your diet. Even if they're "healthy" beverages. 

4. Drink lots of water. Water increases the efficiency of your body, so you use the calories that you consume more efficiently. 

5. Diets don't work. You have to find a system of consumption that you actually enjoy, or your won't stick to it.  

We use myfitnesspal.com around here. It helps track what you eat and what is good and what isn't. A couple of others things is I use dashingdish.com and skinnytaste.com for recipes and have found quite a few that are delicious and even my family (with little boys) enjoy. 


Thinking Positive

Yesterday was our 7 year anniversary. We recently returned home from a family reunion to Idaho and Yellowstone. My plan was to wash everything and then enjoy the evening as a family to celebrate. The Smart One and I had made plans to celebrate just the two of us next week at the OC Tanner Gift of Music Concert with James Taylor. The Smart One headed to work and I started the first load (of many) to get the wash going. I soon realized the washer wasn't working and after many internet suggestions and cleaning up water with the shop vac I was ready to give up. Not how I anticipated the day going at all. Other things happened as well that I won't go into detail, just to say that life happens. At one point the Smart One was apologizing for things not going as planned and I had the thought, it is all because Adam and Eve fell. It is part of life and although I understood it I was having a hard time not being a downer about things.
I tried to find something positive about it all and the only one I could think of was that this was the first appliance repair in all 7 years, not too bad on that front. But the thing that really changed my outlook was driving home from getting dinner and doing a couple of loads of laundry at my parent's home.
The sunset:
Sunset view from the end of our street
The sunset in itself was amazing and pictures never do them justice it seems. I remembered a silly story from when I was in high school. I had gone to Temple Square for a YW activity and I remember that night looking at the temple and seeing the sunset was purple behind it. I decided I was going to get married on that day, May 14, sometime in the future to have a purple sunset on my wedding day. Well 4 years later I got married but it was August 26 instead, and if I remember correctly the sunset was purplish that night just like last night. A small tender mercy and a blessing to see something good in frustrating life moments.


Legos and my boys!

I love being a mom, that is the truth! But to be totally honest, it is hard to be a mom. It can be exhausting and frustrating and at times bring me to tears. It is also one of the most rewarding things in the world. As hard as it is to be a mom at times I wouldn't trade it for anything, really ANYTHING. 

I had one of those great moments tonight. Usually on Thursdays I am so ready for bedtime and usually because the Smart One goes to scouts so I do bedtime solo. The Silly One wanted to play with Legos so while I was doing dinner he was working on building a race car. He got Legos for Christmas and has been loving them and is even getting pretty good at building things and modifying to make them his own. We ate dinner as a family and the Smart One was off to scouts and I cleaned up. Once the dishwasher was loaded I helped finish the race car. I got totally sucked in, we ended up making two more cars and the boys and I had a race. A race in which started simple but then the rules changed mid-race and all of a sudden the cars could fly. :) It probably sounds silly but while we were playing I had the thought how wonderful it is to be a mother of boys. I am grateful for these two crazy boys!

On a side note, I have been meaning to post the sweet flower my Silly One gave me on Mother's Day.

The middle says, "I Love My Mom because. . ."
Each petal has his answer to a question:
My favorite thing to do with my Mom: Play games
My Mom is good at: making stuff and playing basketball
My Mom is as beautiful as: a flower
My Mom teaches me: to tie my shoes
My Mom loves me because: she makes yummy stuff
My Mom makes the best: Chocolate stuff
Apparently I make a lot of good food. :) This made my day. See didn't I tell you being a Mom was the best? So worth it.


Food Allergies - the real deal

My son and I with silly faces at his last food challenge at Primary Children's Hospital - April 2013

This week, May 12-18 is food allergy awareness week. I know it might sound kind of dumb to those of you who have never had to deal with food allergies. So let me share my story. Ever since I was a little girl I have had allergies. I do not remember how old I was but I remember eating a brownie at my great-aunt Helen's house. It was chocolate so what was not to like? But that was when my parent's realized I was allergic to nuts like my Dad. I don't remember much but just knew there were a lot of desserts and candies that were now off limits. I am allergic to tree nuts, some more than others but food allergies can be tricky. One time it might be just a scratchy throat the next time could be full blown anaphylaxis. (I have experienced both.) I had to be the kid in the lunch line asking if the cookies had nuts. At any family party, family reunion, and especially food at Christmastime I had to be careful what desserts I could eat. (I still consider it a successful holiday season if I don't have even a mild reaction to something.) I didn't know anyone else like me growing up except my Dad. I grew up and that was life, I had several inconvenient reactions like right before a choir concert or while I was working but I just learned it was better to be safe than sorry. But that doesn't always ensure nothing will happen. I always hated telling people I didn't want any of whatever it was because many times they would feel bad I couldn't eat it because of my allergies. Although one time in high school a friend told me to just eat it because she didn't like nuts either, if only it were that easy.

I went to college and am now married with two children. Thankfully in all that time I have only ended up in the ER once. I can deal with myself but 3 years ago my world of food allergies expanded. I was watching my 10 month old son experience an allergic reaction to a tuna fish sandwich. We had him tested and found he was allergic to eggs and peanuts. But to be safe the allergist told me to also avoid all fish(my husband is allergic to tuna fish in some cases) and all nuts. I left the doctor's office completely overwhelmed. I knew how to deal with my allergies but now more? I called my older sister for support. Her oldest son had allergies to milk, eggs and peanuts. (He has virtually outgrown the egg allergy now!) She gave me some tips and even a powder egg substitute. I calmed down and headed to the grocery store. I started carefully reading labels which I had done here and there to check for tree nuts and as I did so now I was grateful. Grateful that my son could still have milk, those that have to avoid milk have a much tougher job. Months past and because of the advice of my sister I checked out Utah Food Allergy Network (UFAN) and attended a support meeting. I honestly had teased my sister about needing a "support group" to deal with her son's allergies, I had done it my whole life essentially on my own. But I realized now I needed help in knowing how to handle my son participating in activities with other children away from my home that was safe. I needed ideas in how to educate those around me about what to give my son to eat. It helped me to gain more information and also realize I didn't have much to complain about, there are kids that deal with A LOT more.

My son is now 4 and we are doing good. We have discovered that he is also allergic to peas and some beans (I think pinto beans and maybe others) and tree nuts have started to appear positive. The good news is that he can eat anything that the egg is baked, cookies or cakes etc. And he recently successfully completed two food challenges to clear him from a fish allergy, all but shellfish that is. And he LOVES fish! I also have another son who is 18 months old. He is not allergic to peanuts (yay!) but I think may be allergic to eggs. We are doing some at home tests, at the recommendation of our allergist.

Life is good and we are at a good control point. My oldest son is pretty good about asking if he can eat certain foods and we will tell people what his allergies are. He is going to be starting preschool soon and so I have a new worry but I know others have gone through this and others continue to go through it. Open communication and spreading knowledge is key. That is how people learn to be careful and aware. There are others kids like mine and they don't have to feel alone or think no one else is like them. There are new studies and knowledge discovered all the time and one day life might be a lot easier but for now we know we have been blessed and we are grateful for wonderful allergy resources available now.

A Shot to Live
Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE)

Feel free to comment with any questions!


Homemade Vitamin Water

We are trying to eat better around here and drinking plenty of water is part of that equation. I always heard 6-8 cups a day so I would always shoot for 6. The website we are using suggests at least 8, that is tough for me but I am trying. Anyway I am excited to try these vitamin water recipes, it is always nice to add some flavor. I saw this as a facebook post originally but wanted to save it so I just copied it here on my blog. I will add updates if I try them and they aren't any good!

1) The classical : lemon/cucumber:
Mix in a pitcher: 10 cups of water + 1 cucumber and a lemon, thinly sliced + 1/4 cup fresh finely chopped basil leaf + 1/3 of finely chopped fresh mint leaves. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

2) The granite : Strawberry/Lime or Raspberry/Lime
Mix in a pitcher : 10 cups of water + 6 strawberries / 0r Raspberries and one thinly sliced lime + 12 finely chopped fresh mint leaves. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

3) The digestive : Fennel/citrus
First: infuse 1 to 3 grams of dried and crushed fennel in 150 ml of boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Allow to cool.
Mix in a pitcher: 10 cups of water + lemon juice (put the leftover lemon in the mix) + a small thinly sliced orange + 12 fresh chopped mint leaves + the infusion of fennel seeds. Leave in refrigerator overnight before serving.

4) The antiOX : Blackberry/Sage
Note that a part from the berries, sage leafs is the herb that has the highest antioxidant content.
Mix in a pitcher : 10 cups of water + 1 cup of blackberries that have been very slightly crushed + 3-4 sage leaves. Leave in refrigerator overnight before serving.

5) WATERmelon : watermelon/Rosemary
Mix in a pitcher : 10 cups of water + 1 cup of watermelon cut into cubes + 2 rosemary stems. Leave in refrigerator overnight before serving.

6) The exotic : Pineapple/Mint
Mix in a pitcher : 10 cups of water + 1 cup of pineapple cut into cubes + 12 fresh mint leaves finely chopped. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

7) The traditional : Appel/cinnamon
Mix in a pitcher : 10 cups of water + 1 cup of apple cut into cubes + 2 cinnamon sticks + 2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

Dapper Dudes

There is seriously something I just love about church/dress clothes on little boys. Or maybe it is just my little boys. :) Yesterday before church:

 And this guy went to Nursery officially for the first time. We are looking to good times ahead at church! 


Excitement of a Child

On our way home from the store tonight I stopped to pick up the mail. I noticed a couple of postcards in the mail for the boys as I got it. I got back in the car and told the Silly One there was something for him, he could hardly wait to get home. Once home I showed him the postcard and it was from Grandpa and Grandma who have been in Arizona this week. He loved looking at the picture and when I read the back to him. Tonight when he said his prayer he told Heavenly Father he loved many things and one of them was, "I love my mail!" It was so sweet. I need to remember to "love" and enjoy the simple things. 


Winter Treat

This is one of our new favorite treats - Cookie Dough Cocoa

The original recipe came from Betty Crocker and the only difference is that we didn't use Cookie Crisp cereal, I just bought a cup of those mini Chips Ahoy cookies instead. I also didn't add chocolate chips and it was rich enough without more chocolate. Also I think it would serve 5-6 people in a normal sized mug. We used large ones and it was a lot!

Here is the recipe: 

4 Tbls. butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 pint cookie dough ice cream
5 cups water
Whipped cream
Mini chocolate chips
1 cup Cookie Crisp cereal

1. In a 3-quart saucepan or large pot, whisk together butter, brown sugar, and ice cream over medium-high head until melted. Add the water; cook and stir mixture until steaming. 
2. Serve in mugs, topped with whipped cream, mini chocolate chips, and cookie crisp cereal. 

Home Improvements

Anytime I improve a space in my home I definitely see the good in that! I love the little projects and getting what I envisioned done. I think the Smart One just likes to get them done and I like to believe he is pleased with the outcome as well. Remember my Master Bedroom project from last winter? The Smart One gave me some lamps for Christmas to complete the look. I love them!

And then we have the half bath. I started to re-do this room in the fall and just didn't get it finished until this last weekend. I convinced the Smart One that it was ok to paint a small room purple. And yes, the same purple as our headboard. (Aren't I a lucky girl?) When I first did he told me he felt oppressed every time he went in there. 
Before - July 2010
I didn't paint all the walls, just three and then behind the toilet I wanted wallpaper. There still are a couple of things to finish. I am going to frame the mirror and then figure something to put on the wall. Maybe a couple of floating shelves? We'll see, but so far so good. 

After - January 2013: Paint and wallpaper!
I wanted a wallpaper that added some pattern, not really more color. 
Close up of the wallpaper I love!
I have another project in mind, not quite in the works, to use more of the wallpaper. I am excited! I love getting these types of projects finished. 


Welcome 2013!

Here we are with another new year and another new beginning. I enjoy the holidays and have a hard time letting go, putting decorations away, etc. The Smart One even mentioned to me today that he was embarrassed to open the curtains because our Christmas tree is still up. Back to the point, I have learned that goals and projects help me get through the rest of the winter. I have this amazing sister-in-law who posted that she is making her resolutions a bit different this year by having a word of the year. I loved it and started thinking of what my word could be. As I was searching and wondering I remembered a talk given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "The Dedication of a Lifetime." I reread the talk and came across this:
"There is great strength in being focused on our goals. We have all seen the good fruits of that focus. Yet an intense focus on goals can cause a person to forget the importance of righteous means. When that happens, a commendable steady dedication can be transformed into a dangerous frenzy of excess."
Phew, it is ok that I don't go overboard on my resolutions and the thought of being crazy about it gives me all sorts of anxiety and eye twitching problems. :) But in all seriousness, the part that nailed it for me was this:
"Some people live the gospel with “short, frenzied outbursts of emotion,” followed by long periods of lapse or by performance that is intermittent or sputtering. What we need in living the gospel is “the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”

So because I want to be like my sister-in-law in more ways than one, my word for this year is:
I look at my resolutions from the previous year and I think that being more steady is a good focus for me. So much so that I think I am going to continue some of my past goals. I will post those in a couple of days when I get them nailed down. I did enjoy the bucket list goals we did last year, and in fact we completed all of them! That was a helpful twist on the resolutions for me. 
Have you made your resolutions or goals yet?