Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolutions




I wish everyone a happy and safe New Year's!!!

Now about New Year's Resolutions - I actually go against the grain and I don't make them.

Why, you may ask?

For a couple of reasons.

1. They're the same every year - lose weight, manage money better, live in the moment, be more crafty, appreciate the home and things I have, etc.

2. If I fail, then I have regrets.

3. I think that having goals are a very important, and productive, part of life. I don't think they should be made only at the start of a new year, but rather all year long.

Thus, I look at the New Year as a new beginning. The start of a new day. A fresh year to being new things, and to be a better person. No resolutions for me - just the start of a fresh year to make it whatever I choose.

Monday, December 28, 2009

8 Years to My Captain Moroni

July 2001 brought Jared and I together.

We were sitting in the San Diego temple, waiting with a youth group to do baptisms for the dead.

The temple president came in and started talking to the youth.

He told the girls that someday, they could be there with their very own Captain Moroni, to be sealed for time and all eternity.

Jared squeezed my hand.

8 years ago today, I was married to my Captain Moroni. It says so on the inside of his wedding band.



Long ago, Jared and I decided that we wouldn't do anniversary gifts. Instead, we go away every year for an overnight trip, and we take turns planning. This year was Jared's turn.

We stayed in a sweet hotel, and ate at the Cheesecake factory.

And we went to the temple.

And Jared squeezed my hand.

I love him.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas

Christmas came and went.

I'm lame and didn't take any pictures.

But know that it was fun.

Really fun.

Low key, good food, and fun.

(Kinda glad it's over, but looking forward to next year.)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

FOOD!!!

James is now on big boy food! He won't touch the rice cereal, and hardly has the patience for pureed food. I'm not making a big deal of it, because I don't want him to correlate spoon = bad stuff. So for now, he gets about 3 bites in and then is done. Little by little!

Any advice?

(Doesn't he look so sweet in that high chair??)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Gender Confusion

Yes, that is Sariah in James' onesie and pants.

No, her hair isn't brushed.

Yes, she is happy as a clam.

No, her mother doesn't care one whit that she's not in her own clothes.

(For the record, I think it's funny.)


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Piano Bench

This was the most frustrating, messy project EVER.

But...I conquered Modge Podge, and I'm proud of it.

Piano Bench BEFORE:



Piano bench AFTER:



Next: A family rules chart. You're not going to want to miss this!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Just today Sweet Boy, Please?

My dear sweet boy,

I know you love your mom. You love her so much that sometimes you won't let dad help.

I know dad's not as soft and squishy (literally) as I am.

I know dad smells different than I do.

I know dad doesn't hold you the same way I do when he feeds you.

I know dad plays a little different, and talks a little different than me.

But dad loves you just as fiercely as I do.

But today, son, I have a 102 degree fever.

I am throwing up, among other things. I will gladly spare you the details.

Dad has stayed home from work to help because I don't even have the stamina to pick you up out of your crib.

So just today, will you please let dad take care of you? If you do this one thing for me, I know I will be better tomorrow.

I just know it. And I know you will help me, because you are such a sweet boy, and you love me.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Daggers



I think it's time to cut James' nails.

Book Club

Once a month, I get together with a group of my girlfriends for Book Club. Sometimes we read the book, sometimes we don't. Sometimes we talk about the book, but most of the time we don't. We gab, we eat, we tell stories, we laugh, we enjoy one another.

We don't have rules for our bookclub. You can still come if you miss a month. You can still come even if you don't read the book. There's no invite-only list, no expectations, no stress, nothing. Just fun. I've even gone in my sweats, just so I could get out of the house and be with my girls!

With that said, have you ever been to someone's house that is completely spic-n-span, even with lots of little kids? Doesn't it make you feel like you're doing something wrong? If you've ever been to my house during the day, you will immediately know that I have little kids. I pick up once a day, in the evening, and clean once a week. That's good enough for me!


So for those of you coming tonight - I promise to pick up the toys and vacuum up the crumbs off the living room floor. I promise that my shelves will be dusted, and my Christmas decorations are all in order. But please excuse the bare walls because I'm in the process of re-decorating.



I promise that the "guest" bathroom will be clean. Even though we have a potty-training child, there will be no pee spots on the seat or on the floor. There will be toilet paper on the roll, and you will have a clean towel to try your hands on. But, it may be pink or green or another child-friendly color. Oh, and the bathroom is decorated in frogs.



And, I promise that my kitchen will be picked up. No dishes in the sink. No crumbs, band-aids, spilled formula, or any other annoyances on the floor. And, I promise that it will be filled with warm, sweet, salty, and yummy treats to eat while we enjoy each other's company.



Can't wait to see you all!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mmmmmm

The annual Wilkes' baking day has been set!

The menu is organized.

Sugar cookies. 7 layer bars. Fudge. Hershey Kiss cookies. Lemon bars.

Gab, sisters, friends, fun.

Saturday can't come quick enough!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Clones and Scooters

What would life be like if you had a clone? Just ask my love - our little boy is his clone.



What would life be like if all you had to worry about was where life was going to take you on a scooter? Just ask Sariah - her Saturday was filled with "going to work," and "running errands."

Butter Churners

Macaroni and cheese. Top Ramen. Cereal. PB&J. Anything processed, or made from a box.

These are many of the memories I have from living with 4 other girls in a tiny apartment in college. No money and living away from home afforded few luxuries, but aren't we all better for it?

I happened to go to college (most of it, anyway) at NAU in Flagstaff. It was gorgeous, and one my favorite places to ever live. We had a quaint, sweet apartment about 10 feet from the NAU campus. Target was within a 10 minute walk, and Safeway was even closer. One didn't need a car to survive when living in this apartment complex.

I loved all of my roommates, even though we all had our quirks. I'd love to talk about the roommate who didn't wear underwear, or the roommate who fainted to prove a point to her boyfriend, or the roommate who walked around our apartment in a wedding veil, but I won't in case they're reading this blog. By the way - the wedding-veil roommate is still my close friend, whom I adore. =)

Our friends across the walkway were even more fun! We loved being around them because they made us feel so good about ourselves (can you feel the words dripping with sarcasm?). One snowy afternoon, we had a chocolate craving and wanted to make brownies. Alas, no brownie mix was to be found. We didn't want to drive to the store just for brownie mix, and it was way too cold to walk over there. We decided to go ask our friends across the walkway.

When we inquired if they had a box of brownie mix, they looked at us with very inquisitive faces. It seemed as though they were saying, "What is this 'brownie mix' you speak of?" Once they realized we were serious, the ring-leader exclaimed, "Oh! Oh, we don't make brownies out of a box. We make everything from scratch over here."

Seriously? Everything? Thus, they were forwardly known as "The Butter Churners."

Well, folks, I have become a "Butter Churner." I am making bread, rolls, tortillas, and yes - even brownies, all from scratch. Not because I don't love them from a box or from the store, because heaven knows I do. I am learning how to rotate and use my food storage in case I ever need to use it in the future. And to teach my children not to be afraid of canned vegetables, grinding their own wheat, or using powdered milk in recipes.

And, have you ever walked in to a house where fresh bread has just come out of the oven? It's difficult to find a more comforting, aromatic, yummy aroma.



I used THIS RECIPE, but here's what I substituted:

I used quick oats because I didn't have potato flakes.
I used 1/2 bread flour, 1/2 whole wheat flour.
Because I used the bread flour, I didn't add the wheat gluten.

But I know I won't always have bread flour in my pantry, I will track down some wheat gluten so I may use that as well.

So Butter Churners - thank you for your inspiration to be more domestic, but you should try brownies from a box. They're divine, too.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Complacency

At Weight Watchers, we learn that life happens. We go on vacation, the holidays roll around, and we get lax in our eating at one time or another.

There are three ways we can handle this:

1. Continue to watch what we eat, and lose weight.

2. Not be so careful, but monitor what we eat so we can maintain our weight.

3. Not care what we eat, and be alright with gaining a few pounds.

Because I LOVE FOOD, and I LOVE THE HOLIDAYS, I prefer #3. So this holiday season, I'm not going to count points. I'm not going to feel guilty for indulging in the treats that I look forward to every year. I will, however, continue to exercise in hopes of not gaining too much weight. Whatever I gain is not going to make me feel guilty. Afterall, this only happens once a year.

On a different note - I conquered bread! I made 2 loaves yesterday that turned out A-Mazing. The first loaf is almost gone, and the second loaf is 1/4 gone. I will make more tomorrow to last us through the week. =)

Now if I could only get those pesky rolls to cooperate...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bread Challenged

I can't make bread.

I can't make rolls.

I tried to make my homemade rolls this weekend - twice.

First try - Saturday night. BIG FLOP. The dough rose the first time. After being punched down and shaped into balls, they didn't rise. I didn't even cook them because they were terrible.

Second try - Sunday morning. Again, big flop. No rising at all. None what-so-ever. I went ahead and cooked them anyways, but they came out like little flat, crispy, crumbly "things." I don't even know what to call them.

I'm frustrated because I wasted all that time, all that flour, all those eggs (and didn't even have any for Wendy when she called and asked to borrow some!).

I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I'm almost positive that I'm not killing the yeast because I can see the bubbles and am familiar with baking with yeast. I'm following the instructions step-by-step, but they are just turning out terrible.

I'm not going to give up, but it's becoming an expensive hobby!

Monday, November 30, 2009

2 hotdogs, 1 whole apple, 3 chicken nuggets, 1/4 C. soy beans, and 1 whole PB&Honey later...



She crashed.


(And that was only for lunch. Nevermind the adult-portion of oatmeal, 2 scrambled eggs shared with her cousin, 2 cups of milk, 1 entire banana, yogurt, and cookie she had prior to her lunch.)

((She must be growing.))

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

5 Months

James is 5 months old! And guess what? He's been waking up in the night, something he rarely does. I think it's time to start some rice cereal. Going to the store this afternoon, and it's on my list!

We haven't really gotten him to belly laugh yet, but this is as close as it gets for the moment!
video

He is SO SMILEY! So happy, so content, still so mellow.



After playing, he got so tuckered out that he fell asleep right in the middle of the floor (among the commotion of Sariah and Emerson, mind you!):


We love you, our sweet son. Always.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Honey Wheat Rolls - First Try

I got her recipe to try homemade rolls. They looked SO good on her blog! I thought "I can do this."

Made the dough (yes, I cheated and used my KitchenAid. That's what happens when you have 3 kids under 3 in the house!):


I rolled them into balls and let them rise:



But somehow, they didn't turn out like hers. Maybe it's because she's been doing them for years and years and years?

Here's my finished product:


My other half said they tasted great!

They were moist and sure yummy when warm, if I do say so myself.

But, they seemed a little dense to me. Heavy, thick, if you will. They weren't dry, but they weren't light and fluffy like dinner rolls should be. Oh, and they were HUGE. I'll definitely make them smaller next time.

At least I didn't kill the yeast. =)

I'll try again. And I'll try homemade bread, and whole wheat pancakes, and lots of other yummy things using my food storage. I better learn to use it!

Monday, November 9, 2009

4 Months


Dear Sweet Baby James,

You are 4 months old!! Well, you're actually 4.5 months old, but who's really keeping track anyhow? =)

You are SO LONG. 100th %. Yup, that's long.

You are the perfect weight. 14 pounds, 2 ounces. 50th %.

And, you have a sweet little head. 25th %. This is very deceiving because you look like you're so little, when you're really not. You just have a small head!

You are so content. You'll let anyone hold you, you'll play on the floor for quite a while, and you don't really cry. You whine more than cry, but it's a cute whine. You're so good in church, and you everyone always says "I've never once heard him fuss."

You already have your 2 bottom teeth, which isn't fair. You're not supposed to grow up this fast. I know you're supposed to grow up, but I want you to be little just for a little while longer, ok?

Everyone is still amazed at how much hair you have. And when you smile at them, they are greeted by your handsome dimples. Your eyes have turned very dark green and brown, and are just as beautiful as can be.

You are very patient with your sister. You let her change your diaper, and try to give you your pacifier. You love watching her dance and be silly, and smile so big when she's around you.

You are mellow, sweet, very thoughtful, and an amazing addition to our family. Your daddy and I love you so much, and are so excited to watch you grow up and learn new things. But not too fast, you hear?


NOTE: Sariah couldn't miss out on all the fun of her brother getting his picture taken, now could she? She jumped right in and started posing.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Big Fat Jog

Flash back to December 1999. I was hit by a car. Not in a car, but WALKING across the street. I was hit. Not too much damage done - just a broken leg, an ankle that needed some repair, and a nasty black eye (well...the whole right side of my face, actually). The doctors in the ER said over and over again how I should not have survived that night. Well, I did. No damage. I didn't even black out - I remember it all. The cold pavement, moving my limbs to see what was broken, the sexy EMT cutting off my pants to get to my broken leg. All ingrained in my memory.

All of the damage was done on the right side of my body, because that's where I was hit. Somehow, my left knee was damaged, too. Actually, a whole chunk of the knee is missing. Like someone just scooped it out. I'll eventually have to have the knee replaced, but for now, it's fine. Well...it WAS fine.

Flash forward to 1 week ago. I started having pain in my left knee, and I knew it was due to the fact that I've been jogging and training for this 5k. It was annoying at first, enough to where I couldn't jog on it. I had my doctor check it out this morning.

Her words were: "Amber, you are doing great with your training. Keep it up! But, not until you lose 20 more pounds. Right now, because your knee is fragile, you are still too heavy to jog. It's nothing to worry about, and nothing that needs to be fixed. Your knee will be fine. Keep walking, but no jogging until you lose 20 more pounds."

*Sigh*

Thankfully, I love my doctor. She tells me like it is, but with a smile on her face. My feelings weren't hurt, and I appreciated her taking a look at it.

So to my 5k - I'll have to put you on hold. I was looking forward to beating you, but that will have to wait for 20 more pounds to be gone off this body. There will be another one, and I WILL BEAT YOU.

Even more reason to keep going, right??

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's a good thing...



...that I love my kids.

...that I love my husband.

...that it was the end of the day, both kids in their jammies and on my lap.

...that Jared was getting the scriptures for a quick 30-second scripture (because that's about all miss wiggle-worm can handle).

...that we are a family.


The Frog Prince

Sariah's new favorite books are a series about Princesses. This is actually quite funny because she's not a princess. She doesn't play dress-up, she doesn't want dolls, and she doesn't watch princess movies (except Cinderella - and that's because she loves the evil cat).

So when we were given "Do Princesses Really Kiss Frogs" as a gift, I was completely taken back when she fell in love with it. We read it almost every day, and she loves hopping around the house like a frog. We also discovered the books "Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?", and "Do Princesses Scrape Their Knees?" So cute, and fun!

Flash forward to a couple of weeks ago when I asked Sariah what she wanted to be for Halloween. She said she wanted to be a princess. What?? Alright - weird, but alright. She also said that she wanted James to be a frog.

Yes, the princess did kiss the frog.

And no, she wanted NOTHING to do with her tutu that was made for her. Instead, she went in sweatpants. *sigh* Independence.

(What's even more silly is that I almost said that she couldn't go to the party unless she put her tutu on. What was I thinking???)

Here's our true princess - you know, the kind that wear sweat pants and sparkly shoes!



And our sweet little frog prince:



Some of the grand kids that went trick-or-treating in my parent's neighborhood:




Me with the kids:



After the party, my prince (who sported a U of A t-shirt) dropped our little prince and I off at home, and he dashed off with his little princess to the ward's Trunk-or-Treat. How I love him for taking her there, so I could send our babe off to dreamland. How I love him, no matter what.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hi. My name is Amber.



And I grew up with a mom who played Bridge.

On the designated evening, we (4 kids and dad) would all be shooed downstairs to watch a movie, and hang out. We weren't allowed upstairs until it was time for bed. Then we had to scurry past the intense game without a sound.

But oh the leftover snacks the next morning!!

I remember that sometimes, my dad would fall asleep while we were downstairs. We would sneak past him, creep up the stairs, and stand at the top of the stair well and listen to the gabbing going on between our mother and her friends. I don't remember any of the stories they told, but I remember being very very sneaky while listening to the gossip.

One particular evening, dad was away. Business trip, or something. We were watching "Dumbo" and it came to the part where Dumbo was being rocked by his imprisoned mother. "Baby Mine."

I lost it. I was so sad for this poor little orphaned elephant. I couldn't even fathom a life without a mother, and was so sad. I sobbed and ran upstairs to my mom. My mom who was playing Bridge.

She wasn't very happy, but understood I was sad. She gave me a quick kiss, and quickly sent me back downstairs to be with my siblings. They weren't sobbing, so they didn't really notice that I was.

I only needed therapy for a little while. (Just kidding!)

Flash forward to today. Today, Sariah, Emerson and I were watching "Dumbo".

When "Baby Mine" came, Sariah looked at me with tears about to spill over her little eyes, and right down her cheeks.

She sobbed and ran to me.

"His mommy is in JAIL!" she cried between heaving sobs.

I understood her pain. I understood her sadness, and her empathy for this poor baby elephant.

How did we make this moment happy?

We made our own peanut butter girl scout cookies. YUM.

No more tears, and our bellies are full.



NOTE: I love my mother. After having 2 small kids, I know what it's like to need an evening to yourself. I live for bookclub, and our Relief Society interest groups where we, as women, just get together and hang out. But my mom - she had 4 little kids, all 18 (ish) months apart, 2 of which were twins. 4 carseats, 4 highchairs, 3 sizes of diapers - she needed a break, and deserved every moment alone. If you know my mom, you know how amazing she really is.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Good night, Sleep tight, YEAH RIGHT

Sariah went to bed last night. Easily. She's so good about that.

She was wearing pink pj's when she went to bed.

Her room was nice and clean.

When we went to bed, I went in to check on her.

This is what I found:



(Room a disaster.)



(The pink and green pj's that she went to bed in.)



(Shoes completely emptied and closet broken in to.)



(Sariah in new pj's that she put on herself, James' socks on her feet, and found this new blanket. This blanket Jared's mom made for him when he was a baby.)


She did all of this when we thought she was sleeping. Little did we know what she was up to!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sacks, Sacks, and more Sacks

It's that time of the year again!

THE STAKE BBQ!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

But for me, that means making sacks. All of the meat that's cooked goes into muslin sacks. I have made these sacks for my dad for as long as I can remember. Both for our Thanksgiving Day extravaganza, and the Stake BBQ (and the occasional New Year's BBQ, and a single's BBQ).



This Saturday, 4pm, church ball park. Can't wait!

Mesmerized

What has Sariah sitting like a pretty little statue?



The sweet, smart, polite skater teenager next door performing tricks for his 2-year old audience (no joke! he had her squealing and clapping with delight!).



Having this boy as a new neighbor has taught me to really get to know the person. The first time I saw him, I thought rude, bad grades, negative influence, etc. Boy was I wrong! He is one of the sweetest tattooed, pierced kids I have ever met. He's living at home, but going to the U of A on a full-ride scholarship and is on a medical school career path. Shame on me for judging.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Don't Ever Leave Me!

"Ode To My Pacifier"

Don't ever leave me,

My one true love.

For your little ringed handle

Is what I'm always a-grasp of.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Instructions

Just in case you want to know how to put a diaper on your favorite sheep, here is a step-by-step guide.

Step one: Make sure you have all the appropriate tools: wipes, diaper, and sheep.



Step two: Lift the appropriate bummy and insert diaper underneath.




Step three: Secure tabs with love and tenderness.



Step four: Get mad because the tabs don't close right, and throw your sheep, diaper, and wipe across the room.

I didn't get a picture of that one.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Morning

I love Sunday mornings. Quiet, relaxing, the house is a mess and I don't care to pick it up, and the kids are just so darn cute.

Here is James in his little chair/play swing. Just as content as can be.



And here are the kids in their "Sunday Best!" First is Sariah. She was dying to show off her new "church dress."



Next we have our little handsome James. Back in his favorite chair, but just as happy as can be!



Last, we have our two kids. Sariah loves to hold James, and she does every chance she gets! She's still figuring out HOW to hold him, but she sure gives it a good go.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Busy, To Put it Lightly

University of Phoenix training - INTENSE.

Primavera Online High School - weird system, taking some time getting used to.

NAU - not even started yet, so this one is on the back burner.

Emerson - sweet, sweet little cousin that is over Monday through Wednesday. 1 year old. 3 kids under the age of 2 makes my life a little hectic half of the week.

These are the reasons I have not been blogging. As soon as my life slows down just a little, I will be much better at blogging again.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Watch Oprah Tomorrow

Nie Nie (http://nieniedialogues.blogspot.com/) is on Oprah tomorrow. Wow. I can't wait to watch.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Decadence



This is a picture of perfection.

Chocolate mousse cake.

Oh. My. Heavens.

My sister and I are hosting a jewelry party tonight at my mom's house.

This amazing chocolate mousse cake will be there.

Thank you, AJ's Fine Foods. Thank you for pleasing my palate.

6:30 can't come fast enough.