Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Love Thursdays

We are very lucky to live close enough to one set of great-grandparents (my mom's folks) to be able to visit them weekly. In fact, I think I've gone every week we haven't been sick/out of town since I left work for maternity leave, in 2005!

Ernie loves her time there- she and Grandma sit together in Grandma's room and watch cartoons or movies, and Ernie snacks on pretzels or Grandpa's nut stash until lunch time. I chat with Grandma and tell her all about our little goings-on- she wants to know about the garden, the flowers, Wonder Daddy's tests, Ernie's doctor appointments, and everything most people don't have time to sit still and hear about. I think I say more at one time at Grandma's house than I do anywhere else.

I help Grandpa make lunch and clear the dishes, and we talk about the best way to make a pot roast (Betty Crocker knows everything, he says!), prune a tree, or raise a child. Then we talk about how to fix all the crazy things that need fixing- the man knows everything! He fixes cars, Kitchen Aids, radios, and overgrown bushes. He makes gadgets for everything he needs, using epoxy putty, rubber bands, and old leather belts.

When they met, he was a boy from Idaho recently returned from a stint as an airplane mechanic in the Korean War. She was a girl from rural Alabama, far from home and working as a secretary in a military office. Now, over 50 years later, they're parents to 3, grandparents to 10, and great-grandparents to 2 going on 4.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ernie Pictures!

How could I not post these? My sweet sister-in-law took these photos of Ernie at the temple while they were in town. Isn't Aunt B a fantastic photographer? Enjoy!













Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hoo-Ah

Have you ever made a to-do list for a certain day, and actually completed it? My house is littered with pads of paper, filled with to-do lists requiring Herculean effort to accomplish in one day. Or year. But today...we did it!

This morning I made a batch of this.

Plain Yogurt (will be made into cucumber raita tomorrow)

Followed by this.
Whole Wheat Bread

And then this.
Strawberry Jam

Then Ernie slept, followed by a trip to the library with Wonder Daddy. They zipped home for swimsuits, and we all went to the lake. Followed by zipping home for dry clothes and a bowl of strawberries, and we stopped by the neighborhood block party at the park. Then Ernie finished off the evening with a bath, eating leftover strawberries and blowing bubbles. (I've never seen a cleaner way to eat strawberries, OR blow bubbles, than in a bath tub. Have you?)

After her bed time, I made a batch of this. Cute, eh? And look- I have all my visiting teaching, home teaching, and neighbor Christmas gifts done! If I want to get really crazy in December, I'll make some sort of bread to go with this. Or I'll just slap on a bow, sign a card, and wish them a VERY merry Christmas!
Sure-Jell Recipe Strawberry Freezer Jam

What do you think...nesting?? I think we're finally done with jam, though- I now have 6 kinds in the cupboard (if you count the raspberry jam of '06 with my MIL). I think I'm done with jam for a few YEARS, actually! If I can get my hands on green beans, or stone fruit, I'll pack and can those. I don't think our garden will produce enough of any one thing this year to make more than one meal of at a time.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thirty-Three Weeks and Counting

This, my friends, this is what I see when I look down.

Ooof-da. Does that look crooked to you? Little Wonder Baby has the most marvelous dances- you can see her cha-cha her way across my northern front.

Everything is going well, and so far there has been almost NONE of the fantastic swelling I had last time. Hurray! I've been trying to drink as much water as possible- my doctor said that's why my blood pressure was down to 90/60 on Monday, and why I have so very little energy. When will I learn my mom's most important lesson: "You're 90% water. DRINK something!" (She made us promise to put that on her tombstone.)

Whee!

Wonder Daddy has been taking a week or two off from studying (he's either been in school or studying for the CPA exam for AS LONG AS I'VE KNOWN HIM), and we all went to the park Tuesday night. Ernie hasn't stopped talking about it since- her daddy is so good at playing (especially right now while I'm....ummm....large with child.)

Enjoy the pics!


Can you see the concentration in her face? The puffer-fish cheeks? Tennis is serious business! (These next few are for you, Uncle LoLo) Click on the picture to see it bigger.

Wait till I've thrown the ball!!!

She didn't care where the ball was, so long as she got it with the racket. She "got it" right after this shot.

This was her major accomplishment for the evening- she could make it across these things They're on loops at the top, and chained to the ground at the bottom so they pivot and swing a bit.

Check it Out


If you don't get updates to your reader from Chow Review, check out this week's posts- we've been busy! Three kinds of jam, two kinds of sushi...yum yum!

If you have 10 spare minutes

If you have a few extra minutes today, take this quiz! Being in a new house, with mostly hand-me-down (THANK YOU, family!) furniture it can be really daunting when we need to buy a new piece. What do we like, and what style do we live in? I was surprised at the results of the survey, but recognize most of what is said as "me." Check them out below below if you like, or just head over and see what YOUR style is!

http://mydeco.com/imagini/test/

FAMILY MODERN

Your home confidently embraces the many needs of busy, family life. It's adaptable and easy to live with, reflecting your sense of style without having to banish the kids to the attic or basement. You're sensitive to elements of design such as colour, light and architectural detail, mixing items that are relatively disposable with other pieces that in time will become family heirlooms.

Living Room

You have a comfortably contemporary living room. The danger with the 'modern look' is that it too easily falls into the realm of the bland and insipid; 'easy' gets confused with 'careless' and the result is just downright dull! Perhaps of all the rooms in our homes, the living room can be the one that most expresses your sense of style and your interests. Think, too, about how and when you will most use the room. For example, do you want it light and airy or warm and cosy? Classic accessories -- a chandelier, say, or a 'Louis XV' chair -- can really help to lift an otherwise modern room and to mark it with your individual style. Fresh, bright colours at the 'cool' end of the spectrum are welcoming and airy, while modern floral prints add a smart, feminine touch. Whether you're chilling out, socialising or surfing the net, your living room's a place that reflects the way you live your life.

Bedroom

Your bedroom has that classic look that never goes out of style. Sleep is fundamentally important to our well being. In busy towns and cities, noise can often hamper a good night's sleep. Soft furnishings really do absorb sound, and touch is such an important sense in the bedroom, from crisp, linen sheets to wool or even sheepskin underfoot. Elegance and relative simplicity are keynotes in your bedroom, using earthy, rustic colours and textures to create a sense of harmony with the natural world.

Dining Room

You're a clean slate waiting for a dash of spice. When eating in a separate area to the rest of the home, the dining room needs to be relaxed and inviting as you will no doubt have to move your guests from either the kitchen or living room at some point. Start with the table and seating and think about softening the overall look with cushions and curtains and adding colour with glass and tableware. When it comes to entertaining, you like quite simple (some might say 'peasant') food with big, robust flavours.

Home Office

Only you could pull off the "utilitarian chic" look! You've probably got other things on your mind right now, but creating a dedicated space where you can work from home - and keep in touch by email - really does make sense. By using materials such as slate and stone and keeping to a similar palette of colour, you will be able to easily integrate your office space with the rest of your home.

Kids' Room

Let a child's room reflect his or her personality -- not yours! If you have the space for a designated playroom, great. If not, then giving your kids the biggest bedroom can be a smart move, certainly once they're past the toddler stage: it gives them a designated space to play, enabling you to keep the rest of your home more, rather than less, how it used to be. Cheap and cheerful is ideal when it comes to most things in children's rooms: not only do kids grow fast, they also grow out of fads and phases at an amazing rate.

Conclusion

Your home is the hub of family life. It's unpretentious without being devoid of character: in fact, with so much going on, it's open to all the pleasures of life.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Picture Frame and Wire Earring Holder Tutorial


Made a fun little craft for J's sisters- their birthdays were in June and July, and I promised I would have birthday gifts waiting for them when they arrived. Because I'm really bad at getting things in the mail!

These are wooden picture frames from the thrift store, sans glass and backs, painted to match their rooms. I hot glued wire across the backs (tip: hold the wire down, and put a glop of hot glue on top and hold it till it dries a little). Voila! Hook-earring holders, that's don't take up any counter space. Ribbons are from my stash, paint is from the sample cans we've purchased for various rooms in the house :o) It took two coats of paint.

If I did these again, I might use a piece of tape to hold the wire down before gluing. And I'd try to find some way to make the wire straighter/tighter. But overall, I think they turned out pretty cute!

Here's the cute girls blowing out their candles...and Uncle Fireball in the background. No, I don't have many "nice" pictures of him. It's a gift of his. (The cake is J's favorite.)

The girls...really liked their gifts?

Ernie liked the cake.
So did Uncle Fireball.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Putting Things Back in Order

Do you ever look around, and wonder how you've gotten SO lax about things? Oh sure, it's easy to say "but this and this and this happened, and that's why we do it this way" and that may be very true...but it doesn't change the end result!

Case in point: The prophet said to keep computers in a well-trafficked area of the home (and I can't find the direct quote right now. Anyone know which General Conference that was in?) I've known that for years, and done that. When we moved, this was our plan: big computer in the den downstairs, for J's music, and no internet connection. I would keep the laptop at home to work on during the day, he'd study at night or on the big computer if I was in the room.

What really happened? He uses the laptop on the bus to study, and I started working in the den during Ernie's naps. Oops. However, since he's biking home from work this week his laptop is staying home. I dutifully brought it upstairs to work with Ernie slept...and realized that no matter what, there IS no well-trafficked area of our home during the day! Ernie is either asleep or with me, depending on the time of day, no matter where I sit and work.

We're getting back to basics around here. What about you? How is your life right now- when was the last time you sat down and ran through a check list of everything you've promised yourself you would be faithful in doing?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Too Much to Say

There's so much to say about this week- J's family is in town visiting us (Yay! We have room for house guests!), my Dad's cousin and her husband came up from California to visit for a day, Ernie is over her cold, and life is wonderful. I'm sure once I get the pictures in order, you'll hear about all this in LOTS of detail. Or not.

However, the most important thing happened Friday morning: my little brother, Boy/Uncle Bear, went through the temple for the first time. This is a huge occasion for Latter-day Saints, as this is the time we make eternal covenants with our Heavenly Father- we make promises to Him, and in return we receive promises of blessings.

King Benjamin explained it very well (Mosiah 2:22-24) (taken from LDS.org, online scriptures)

22 And behold, all that he arequires of you is to bkeep his commandments; and he has cpromised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth dvary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do ekeep his fcommandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
24 And secondly, he doth arequire that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bbless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?

I found a picture from 2004, when my oldest (younger) brother went through the temple. So fun to see, and I am so grateful to have been raised in a family that raised me in the Gospel. My parents both made the decision to join this church when they were younger, before they ever met. I will be grateful for their decision every day of my life.

Here is our family picture from Friday. Boy, J, Me, Mom, and Dad

Here is our family picture from 2004, when R went through the temple. In this picture, we're only missing my twin sister! Amazing that in 3 years we've gone from only missing one to missing 3 when there are 5 people in the picture!

I'm hoping some day soon we'll be able to have every one in town so we can go in together: Mom, Dad, Me, J, LoLo, LoGung, Boy, and R. As LoLo and LoGung are on the East Coast right now, and Boy is leaving for his mission in a few weeks...it could be a few years!


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What is it?

First off, thanks for all your encouraging words about Ernie's upcoming therapy. By nature I like to let things work out on their own, but really want Ernie to have a good experience going into Sunbeams and then kindergarten.

Second, we took poor Ernie to the doctor this morning- her drippy nose from yesterday turned into a screaming ear ache late yesterday, followed by hives on her face and arms (they went away when we washed her), and this morning her eyes were streaming green goo. The doctor took one look in her ear and declared she had no idea why Ernie was even standing still, it was so incredibly infected in there. So she's on amoxicillin now, and if that doesn't also clear up the pink eye we have an eye drop prescription we can get filled. (This was the 18th ear ache our doctor has seen this week- this cold is making the rounds!) We followed her doctor visit with my regular check up (only one pound gained in the last month- this is MUCH different than the last pregnancy when I was gaining up to 4 pounds a week right around now!!) and we're looking forward to a doctor-free day tomorrow, and incoming guests: Nana, Bobby, B, Boy, and...sorry, still no name for Aunt J.



And finally, what is this? I planted zuchinni in a little hill. Nothing sprouted, but I noticed something that looked like a geranium coming up a few feet away. I assumed someone had thrown a houseplant out there and the roots survived- I let it alone to see if it would bloom. Sunday, my mom invited me to take home squash starts from her green house, and I found out she had at least twenty little plants that looked much like my "geranium." Cool- I'm going to have zuchinni after all. But, the thing is it keeps getting taller and just sprouted these 1 inch purple flowers along the main stalk. So what is it? Geranium? Squash? Noxious weed that I should have stomped when I had the chance? I think I planted black beauty zuchinni, but how would it have traveled 3 feet? Birds, rain, little girl playing with my shovel...?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Therapy?

Ernie woke up with streaming eyes, gooey nose, and the beginnings of an ear infection (after a very rough night sleep.) After a quick shower and a quicker breakfast (skim milk and whole wheat banana bread- at least those few bites she took were), Ernie and I headed out for her first speech therapy session this morning. Go ahead- ask me how our day went. I dare you ;o)

For everyone not involved in our immediate family, my daughter is three and has about 10 English words, 10 ASL, 10 "made up" words..and the rest of her communication is nods, gestures, pantomime, onomatopoeia, and "da da da diiiiiii, da da da diiiii." She gets her point across effectively most times (or at least enough of her point), but still- the child doesn't speak English, and has no desire to.

After the speech therapist (ST) asked me what I hoped to have happen today (I want to learn a few tricks and games to help Ernie WANT to speak), here is what happened:

  • Speech Therapist (ST) pointed at pictures, and very carefully asked E "What's this?" She would reply "Dadoy" (I don't know), and the ST would carefully say "House. House. House. Can you say that?" It took a few of these marvelous pictures for the ST to ask me if she'd ever imitated words. Ummm...no. To imitate a dog barking is a VERY recent development. The child does what she wants, when she wants to, and in her own way. Thankyouverymuch. (I'm very grateful that "her way" often means following directions promptly, just because she delights in getting things right and in order.)
  • We moved to her other book- Ernie was then asked to identify the spoon, big brown dog, little white cat in a box, big white cat outside of the box, the boy waiting for the girl to go down the slide, circles, squares, triangles, red balls, green balls, all colors of balls, etc.

  • A few questions I thought were funny, but the scorer marked her as wrong:
  • Which animal has the longest nose? She picked the squirrel, the correct answer was the mole. The mole had a little tiny nose on a snout, the squirrel had that whole honkin' thing on front of his face.
  • A picture of three girls: one short with well-fitting pants, one tall with short-fitting pants, one medium with too-long pants. Which one has the shortest pants? She picked the short girl: technically, her pants were smallest.
After 45 minutes of these questions, the ST moved on to body parts- wrist, elbow, forehead, eyelashes, etc. Each time Ernie said "No" rather than her normal "dadoy." I had to tell the ST- yes, she knows these. She's simply telling you "No, I won't tell you."

So, after all this the ST calculated the results of the test and declared that Ernie is comprehending at an age 4 level. Her comprehension is exactly average (huh?), and her speaking ability is 2 standard deviations below average. Please have her hearing tested, and bring her in for twice-a-week intensive parent/child therapy.

I stayed up late the night before reading a book called "The Einstein Syndrome." The basic premise of the book is this: There is a group of late-speaking children out there who are remarkably gifted. Oddly enough, the majority of them share these characteristics:
  • Close family members are either musicians, or in a highly analytical field such as engineering, mathematics, flight pilot, accountant, etc.
  • Children show remarkable patience at an early age for puzzles and other "building" games, and have an amazing ability to put these together.
  • Fantastic memory
  • Educated parents
  • Lagging social development
  • Delayed toilet training.
  • Normally boys
  • Can not have a back and forth conversation before age 4 1/2
Anyone who knows my family knows that these precisely describe Ernie (except for the boy part. But she prefers trucks over dolls.) His whole point seemed to be: Do not let someone label your child as autistic or unintelligent simply because of late-speaking. They thought Einstein was retarded, because he didn't speak until he was 5 and was ONLY interested in math. He flunked everything else, refusing to engage.

Thoughts?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

Here are a few pictures from our celebrations- it was remarkably quiet last night. LoLo and crew are in Connecticut, Aunt B was at EFY, and my two brothers are at the family "hunting cabin" in the middle of the Okanogan National Forest (with friends and rifles. Are we scared?? Oh yeah.)

So my small party joined Bobby and Mom-Mom for pigs in blankets and and assortment of salads, and spent the evening entertaining Ernie with 2 inch fountains, pop-its, whistling peets, and other such things. We ended up staying till 11 pm, after watching the fireworks show on television. Ernie was up at 1 (whimpering, no blankets), 3 (on the floor), 5:30 (crawling in bed with me), 7:00 (crying because I wasn't in bed- I was in hers), and finally 9:00 after her First Movie at the Big House. J came to bed around 5:00, after studying for an upcoming exam...and Ernie and I woke up with Bobby's head cold/infection. But it was a fun evening, and 4th of July only happens once a year!

Enjoy the pictures.

Who gave my little girl a 3,000 degree flaming stick, and told her to wave it around!! She loved the sparklers.
If this picture had sound, you'd hear Mom-Mom hoarsely yelling in the background "Put out that flame!" These are M-5000's. Did I mention all of the flammable goodies came from a large stash my brothers squirreled away last year?


Dance, Daddy! Here we have Bobby teaching Ernie to "blow up Daddy!" She loved the pop-its.


The masterminds behind the show. They're probably chuckling because Grandma just told them "no more noisy ones!"


We brought an assortment of poppers. They were cool...until the flames came out.

Whistling Peet. She wasn't too fond of those.

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Updates

My Grandpa reminded me today that is has been quite some time since I posted. Not as long as Mr. Bear, but still- quite a while! My only response was that we've been too busy doing to be posting about it!

Here's what we're up to:

1) After trying a few bread recipes, I've found one that was built around the Kitchen Aid and cooks up beautifully. I've made this into white bread, wheat bread, cinnamon-raisin swirl bread, dinner rolls, and pigs in blankets. Oh, and mashed it flat, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with garlic and Parmesan for garlic sticks. A great recipe! I'll post it over at Chow Review. I was awestruck when my friend told me she hadn't purchased any bread this year, but you know...it's not as difficult as people make it out to be. Grind the wheat while your yeast is proofing, use a kitchen aid to knead, and your bread dough is set out to rise with extraordinarily little effort on your part. Plus, the kitchen aid is MUCH better at kneading than I am.

2) The garden has a few failures, and a few successes. What worked: carrots, swiss chard, bush beans, nasturtiums, and sunflowers all sown directly in the ground. Everything else either didn't germinate, or is only an inch tall and not nearly large enough to produce anything before our very short growing season ends. Next year I'll either start them indoors a lot earlier (due to our move, nothing got sown indoors or out until late April), or just buy starts (like for the herbs.)

Oh, and funny story about the garden- I planted a flat of marigolds around the perimeter of my garden, because they're supposed to keep bad things out of the garden, right? Well 8 out of 10 of those poor things have been eaten down to their leaf skeletons! At least whatever is eating them is staying out of my garden, mostly. Poor, scapegoat, marigolds.

3) Homemade yogurt is a success, and I found out I can mix in a little sugar and flavoring along with the yogurt starter after heating the milk, and it still sets up just fine. My family likes it much better that way, obviously!

4) Most rooms in the house now sport a wildly colored swath of paint- we're trying out colors this time, before painting an entire room. Much better to put down $5 on a sample can than $25 on a gallon!

And that's what we've been doing! I'm due in 10 weeks, I think. I did too much lifting and not enough drinking yesterday, and was rewarded with a few hours of annoying contractions (which I've been having since 15 weeks, even though my doctor says that's impossible!) and one pretty big one. Yay for silly pregnant ladies who try to lift things! We'll make sure the doctors all stay in business.