Saturday, May 18, 2013

Birthday Kids!

Last Saturday May 11 was Tom's 5th birthday.  We celebrated by throwing a little birthday party with his friends.  We had Star Wars cupcakes, a Darth Vader pinata, and light sabers made from pool noodles.  It was a lot of fun.
Tom riding his new birthday bike.

Tom blowing out his candle.

Tom wanted to have Yoda on his cupcake.

The birthday boy with his friends.  (I'm not sure what Ben is doing in this pic.)

Tom opening his gifts.



After opening each gift Tom would hug the person who gave it to him.  In this pic he's about to hug Jak.


Here he is hugging his future wife Elise.


Tom had such a great birthday. He was so spoiled by all of the gifts that his friends and family gave him.

5 year old Tom is a funny boy.  He l  He loves playing the Wii.  His favorite games are Lego Star Wars, Skylanders, and Super Smash Brothers.  He also loves going over to friends' houses to play.  He really enjoys building robots with his Legos.  He likes to watch Dora the Explorer with Eliza or Pokemon with Ben.
Tom is a really smart boy.  He can count to 100, name all of the ABC's, he can sound out words, and can read all of the readers his preschool teacher has sent home.  He doesn't like to cut, color, or practice handwriting much, but he does like figuring addition and subtraction problems.
Tom has a tender heart.  He is good at cuddling, snuggling, and making you feel better if you are sad.  Sometimes he quietly will tap my arm and whisper, "Mom, I love you."  He is a quiet about love and affection.  He loves receiving gifts and is really good at showing his gratitude.  His facial expressions do all the talking.
Tom's favorite food is applesauce.  He also like peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti, honey and butter on bread, yogurt, and Honeynut Cheerios.
Tom is a very special boy.  I love him very much.

Today May 18 is Eliza's birthday.  We had a lazy morning.  Eliza opened a few gifts in the morning, including a birthday outfit from me and Sam, and a lot of clothes from Granny.  A little later we went out to lunch at Sam's club (we're big spenders).  Then we went to the mall to play at the dinosaur play area.  The kids had a great time running around and being crazy.  After we were done playing we decided on a whim to get Eliza's ears pierced. 
When we got home we opened the rest of her presents and had a slice of cake.  It has been a really low key day, but really fun as well.
She just finishing her cake.  Notice her newly pierced ears.  She only cried for 1 minute.  She was a champ.


 
Just after blowing out the candles.

Blowing out the candles.


Opening her gift from Aunt Katie.

About to open her gifts.


Birthday girl in the new outfit we got her.  Doesn't she look so big?


2 year old Eliza is a very fun girl.  She loves to play outside, on the swing set, digging in the dirt, or riding bikes.  She also loves running through the sprinklers. 
Eliza is a good helper.  She likes to help pick-up toys, sweep the floor, and help put dishes away.  She likes to mother and boss her brothers around. 
Eliza is a good balance between girliness and tom-boy.  She loves to wear pink, flowers, and sparkles, but she loves rough housing and playing in the dirt.
Eliza likes to sing and dance.  She will usually shimmy on demand. 
Eliza likes applesauce, spaghetti, grapes, bread with cream cheese, pancakes, and oatmeal. 
She's finally starting to get more teeth in.  She has 6 in the front (3 top, 3 bottom) and 4 molars. 
Eliza is fearless and smart.  She is learning to count and can recognize about half of the ABC's.  She speaks in short 2 word sentences.  She loves to look at books and be read to.
She is a sweet girl.  Whenever one of her brothers is sad she tries to comfort them.  She freely gives out kisses and hugs, and likes to cuddle.
Our family is better because of Eliza.  I love her very much.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Fashionista?

Eliza and I had our first fight over clothes.  When I say fight, I really mean she yelled at me until I let her choose her clothes.  Isn't she a little young for this preteen drama?  This is what she ended up with.  Fortunately it's not too bad.  She loves anything with flowers and she can't get enough of these handmedown camo crocs that Tom used to wear.  They're a little ghetto, but she loves them.  I think she's telling me to "step down" with this pose.  What do you think?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dairy and Gluten free is not a punishment, right?

My colonial disease reared its ugly head again this week.  Fortunately, I went to the ER as soon as the unbearable pain started and was able to get on antibiotics before it got crazy.

But now I have to be a good girl about eating again.  I have a serious love hate relationship with food.  I love food because of the comfort it brings me.  It can turn a bad day good.  But I hate food because of the pain it causes me.  If I eat dairy and baked goods then I'm in trouble. 

It's because of the colonial disease that I need to go dairy and gluten free.  But it's not that simple.  How do I transition to a gluten/dairy free diet when the rest of my family eats gluten/dairy containing foods?  Especially when I am the main cook in the family.  I prepare almost all of my and my kids meals.  Sometimes the temptation to eat a quesadilla is really a struggle when I'm making 3 for the kids.  Also, have you ever checked out gluten free foods?  They are way more expensive than regular foods.

This is my dilemma.  How do I make this work for everyone without it being stressful and frustrating?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What's the deal with Google Reader?  Why are they closing up shop on July 1st?  This is super annoying.  I was complaining to Sam and he made a face and said, "oh no, now you'll have to actually look at all the blogs you follow.  What a tough life!" 

Here's the deal, I like reading other people's blogs and it would take a long time for me to individually check each one of the blogs I follow.  I don't have that kind of time people!  If Sam thinks that all I do is sit around and hang out on the computer all day then he's WRONG!  If I really spent that much time on the computer our house would go to pot in about 30 seconds flat.

What are you going to do when Google Reader calls it quits?  I need solutions so my house doesn't end up like a pigsty.

(P.S. I love you Sam and I know you're not a chauvinist man, 99% of the time.)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Where are you?

I'm taking a break from Facebook.  I'm just done with it for a while.  I'll probably be back in a month or two, or never.  I haven't decided.

Gratitude update

I have been posting on my gratitude blog Grateful Mom.  Some days it has been a chore to find something to be grateful for.  Those are the days that I'm the most grateful for my gratitude  blog because it helps me to think outside of myself and realize that I am very blessed. 

I'm not sure if I'm more virtuous yet.  Probably not, but maybe.  It's a process.

Here are three people I am very grateful for.  I love their guts.

Eliza not really trying, yet being successful, at being cute.

Tom is trying really hard not to smile.

Ben is trying really hard to be cool.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Baby Dolly needs a bath and some air freshener

When Eliza was a few months old my mom sent a box of things for her.  In the box was a little plush doll from my granny for Eliza.  For some reason Eliza took to the doll immediately.  The doll is known in our house as Baby Dolly, or Dolly for short.  Eliza has named several other dolls, Baby Love You, Baby Mary, and Bear, but none come close to Baby Dolly.  Baby Dolly goes everywhere with Eliza, to church, breakfast, lunch, dinner, nap time, bed time, digging in the dirt outside.  You get the picture.  Often times Eliza's brothers will steal Baby Dolly away and throw Baby Dolly around and taunt and tease Eliza with Baby Dolly.  This drives me and Eliza crazy.  You know, typical brother stuff.

Last Friday Baby Dolly went missing.  Eliza had her when she woke up, but we couldn't trace her from there.  It was horrible.  Eliza kept asking in her cute almost 2 year old voice while shrugging, "Oh no, where Baby Dolly?  Oh no!"  By Sunday night I had searched just about every where and was asking everyone (even our neighbors) if they'd seen Baby Dolly.  I was desperate.  My heart was breaking for my sweet girl who was missing her best friend and favorite toy, Baby Dolly.  I did what any girl would do in my situation.  I texted my family and asked them to pray that we would find Baby Dolly.

Later that night as we were about to go to bed a thought came to my mind.  Eliza had recently started putting toys and such in the diaper pale and flipping the lid to make them disappear.  That had to be it.  Where else could it be?

The next morning my sis-in-law Camille, who was staying with us, got Eliza up, changed her diaper and checked the diaper pale.  And sure enough, there was Baby Dolly.  She was tucked under 4 or 5 nasty wet and dirty diapers.  Sooooo gross!  Needless to say I soaked her in Spray'n Wash and tossed her into the washing machine.

Eliza was so happy to have her back.  Unfortunately Eliza saw me put Baby Dolly into the washer and couldn't understand why I wouldn't let her have her.  I wanted to be like, "Trust me girl, you do not want her until this washer is done with her."

Lessons learned from this experience:
1.  Implant homing device in Baby Dolly's tummy.
2.  You can never go wrong asking Ginger Knecht to pray for you, no matter how small the problem may seem.
3.  Heavenly Father loves my girl and cares if she is sad.
4.  We are no longer using the diaper pale.  I can't bare finding something else buried in its nastiness.
5.  I've already purchased a back up Baby Dolly online. (Thanks Jacquie)



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Do you know who I am?

Currently our country is at a crossroads.  History will be made based on how our Supreme Court will rule in certain cases regarding same-sex marriage.  I hope that when you think of me you automatically know where I stand on these issues.  It has been said, "If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything."  This is where I stand:


 



The following blog also explains beautifully where I stand:  Of God and Country.

Where I stand on same-sex marriage is a big part of who I am and what I believe.  Regardless of my stance on same-sex marriage I still love people who are homosexual.  I still respect your beliefs, as I hope you will respect mine.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Stuff that has been floating around in my mind

1. Have you read the blog post from the mom who is tired of all the stupid minor holidays and all the useless hype they get.  If you haven't read it, you should, even if you don't have kids.  It takes a village and we all need to be on board with this one.  I completely agree with this woman.

2.  My sister-in-law jokingly called me the "baby whisperer" last Saturday.  There is a series of books that I've read about the baby whisperer's guide to babies.  If you deal with small babies on a regular basis I highly recommend you read these books.  I found them very insightful.  I by no means am a baby whisperer, but I think I'm finally getting the hang of taking care of a baby.  I recently started watching my neighbor's 2 month old son every Wednesday and this kid is a piece of cake.  I used to be kind of terrified of infants (before I had Ben).  The thought of having to deal with a baby day in and day out was overwhelming to me.  I also couldn't understand how people thought newborns were cute when all they seem to do was poop, pee, spit up, cry and sleep.  I get it now. 

3.  How do you handle stress?  Are you the type of person who can blow off stress at the gym?  Does eating help you calm down?  What do you do to get through the stressful times of your life?  My life isn't particularly stressful besides the fact that I'm a mother, wife, daughter, friend, sister, student, girl's camp director for my ward, and a few other things too.  I'm sure most of you have a handful of hats you wear on a regular basis.  I'm not unusual, at least that's what I think.  Recently I've been reflecting on what's important, and what's not.  I think it's important to live a life that is not crazy hectic all the time.  I don't want to be that crazy mom who is pulling her hair out every other day because she and her kids are so over booked that she doesn't have time to breathe.  So, how do you manage to "keep calm and carry on"?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Let the sun shine

Today I felt honest sunshine for the first time in a long time.  What is honest sunshine you may ask?  Honest sunshine is sunshine that actually feels warm.  In Utah and other parts of the US that experience winter we have deceptive sunshine during the winter.  Deceptive sunshine is the kind of sunshine that makes everything bright outside, but warms nothing.  It's a liar sun.
I love sunshine, but I'm especially partial to the honest type.  I love being outside with the grass between my toes and feeling the sun warm my skin.  It not only warms my skin, but my heart as well. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

B.S.Knecht

Dear Ben,
  Today you are six years old.  Happy Birthday!!!!  You are a special boy.  I am so grateful to have you in our family.
  You came into our family late on a Tuesday night.  All of your grandparents, aunts, and uncles (except Casey, who was on a mission) were there in the hospital for your arrival.  Everyone was anxious to meet you, especially me and dad.
  I remember the first time I held you in my arms.  I was in shock.  I couldn't believe you were actually here.  You were so small and perfect.  I was in love with you immediately.
  I had prayed for you to come to our family for a very long time.  But I'm pretty sure it was your Grandma Knecht who prayed you into our family.  She has faith that can move mountains.
   From the moment you came into this world you have had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.  You've been curious about things from day one.  You were speaking in complete sentences from the time you were 2.  You have an amazingly bright mind.
   I hope you will always fill your bright mind and spirit with the choicest things.  Remember that you are good, kind, and smart.  You can do anything. 
   Thank you for making me a mother.  It is the sweetest gift that I've experienced in my life.

I love you always.

Love,
Mom
Ben a few days old.

Ben 1 year old at the LA Zoo.

Ben Feb 2013.

Ben and Tom at the Space Shuttle Endeavor exhibit, Feb 2013.

Ben and Tom in their soccer clothes, Jan 2013.

Ben on his first day of kindergarten, fall 2012.
 
Ben dressed up to go for a walk in Rexburg, ID fall 2007.

 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Gratitude

Sunday I was in church listening to one of the speakers.  Something stood out from what the speaker said.  He quoted Pres. Thomas S. Monson's talk from Oct 2010, "The Divine Gift of Gratitude".  In that talk Pres. Monson says, "Someone has said that “gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.""  That thought really struck me.  Does that mean if I show a little more gratitude I can cultivate other virtures?  How does one even show more gratitude?

I know this is some deep thinking.  (At least it is for me.)  I'd like to try an experiment.  I am going to start a gratitude blog.  I am going to post every other day or so, and see if I feel more grateful or more _____ (fill in the blank with a virtue).

We'll see how it goes.  I let you know what kind of progress I make.

You can visit my gratitude blog here at: www.gratitudeisthebest.blogspot.com.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

I honked at Alex Boye

1.  Today was a big day for Ben.  He got his first official library card.  That's HUGE!  It may be minor for some people, but I can't believe I have a child with a legit Salt Lake County Library card.  Next thing I know he'll have a driver's license or a dance card.  (I remeber my first dance card.  I thought I was hot stuff.)  Growing up my family did not frequent our local library very often.  I'm sure it had something to do with crazy kids and my mom not wanting to deal with all of us in a quiet reserved place like the library.  But I remember my first library card.  I felt so important being able to check out my own books.  I got my first library card because of a third grade field trip down to the Claremont Village.  We made a stop at the library for a tour.  It was magical.  Do you remember your first library card, or your first recollection of the library?  I'd love to hear about it.  Post about it in the comments.

2.  Today I needed a Dr.Pepper.  I didn't sleep well and my neck has been sore.  Being tired and having a sore neck and shoulders is the perfect storm for a migraine.  To remedy the inevitable migraine I stopped at Arby's on the way home for a large Dr.Pepper.  As I drove up to the drive thru I realized that the car ahead of me was not even pulled up to the order menu.  This person was just sitting there, texting on his cell phone.  I waited patiently for about 2 mins.  After 3 or so cars were lining up behind me I did what any reasonable person would do.  I got out of my van, knocked on his window, and told him what's what!  Just kidding.  Actually, I gave a couple very polite taps on my horn.  After I did that he looked up and realized that he was not the only human on this planet and pulled forward to order.  When he looked up I recognized him.  It was Alex Boye.  He's kind of a famous guy here in Utah.  I had a good laugh about it while driving home.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Patty's, you never let me down


There are two things that Claremont California is famous for, the Claremont Colleges and Patty’s Mexican Food.  Claremont is not an obvious choice for a hole in the wall Mexican eatery to take root.  Yet Patty’s is known to every Claremont High School graduate and most students at the Claremont Colleges as the best place in a ten mile radius to get a burrito. 

            Patty’s is located on the west side of Claremont just north of Foothill Boulevard on Town Avenue.  If you’re not careful you could easily drive past it.  It is situated between a barber shop and a dry-cleaner in an unassuming smallish strip mall. 

            When you get out of your car you’ll hear the sound of Tejano oompah music coming from the open door. Most days the glass door is swung open and held in place by a door stop to help circulate their unconditioned air.  Take note if you want a burrito during the hot summer months.  With the oversized gas range and tortilla griddle going at full steam it can be as hot as an oven inside the small 800 square foot restaurant.

            It is always best to have a copy of their menu on hand at home or work to call your order in ahead of time.  If they don’t answer the phone right away be patient, they will answer eventually.  Patty’s is always busy.  Most days the line stretches out of the door onto the sidewalk.  All of their food is made from scratch to order which ensures taste and a long wait time.

            Patty’s is definitely the quintessential hole in the wall restaurant.  The three small tables and counter tops, although clean, are all tired and outdated.  The kitchen is open for all to see just behind the cashier at the front counter.  It’s hard to believe that a business can function without accepting debit or credit cards these days, but Patty’s does.  Their cash only policy is a testament to their quality and taste.

            Patty’s menu is not much different from most Mexican food joints.  Tacos, burritos, enchiladas, taquitos, and tostadas are all available.  Taste, quantity and quality are the three things that make the usual Mexican fare at Patty’s worth the long lines, unconditioned air, and cash only policy.  They hand make all of the tortillas right behind the front counter.  The homemade tortillas are at least twelve inches in diameter and can be compared to heaven.

            Patty’s burritos are probably their most popular menu item.  You can choose from any combination of one of their four meats (chicken, pork, carne asada, or shredded beef), beans, rice, and cheese.  Extras like extra meat, sour cream, and guacamole are also available upon request for an additional charge.  Most people request extra hot sauce served on the side.  The hot sauce comes free with each order.  The preferred method is to top each bite of burrito with sauce to ensure full coverage.  Be prepared to roll your sleeves up and use both hands to consume this hefty burrito.  It’s no light weight.

            My favorite is the chicken quesadilla.  The chicken is high quality tender white meat cooked in a tomato based sauce spread onto a fresh large tortilla, sprinkled with generous amounts of cheese and then covered with another fresh warm tortilla.  The quesadilla is so large it has to be folded into quarters to fit on the Styrofoam plate it’s served on.  It’s amazing.

            Not only is Patty’s known for their quality food they are an active supporter of the Claremont community.  Their d├ęcor hanging on the walls is full of sports teams that they have helped to sponsor.  It is refreshing to see a local business take such interest in the surrounding community.

            So if you’re ever heading down to Southern California and you’re hungry for a burrito take a pit stop in Claremont and stop at Patty’s.  Make sure you get extra sauce.  The sauce is boss.  You won’t be disappointed.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Simple

My grandmother passed away on Sunday, February 10, 2013 early in the morning.  I was at my parent's house in Claremont, CA for an impromtu visit.  My mom walked into my bedroom while I was changing Eliza's diaper and told me the news.  It caught me off guard.  Although my grandma had not been in the best health I did not see this coming.  She moved to Broomfield, CO to live with my Aunt Linda about 7 years ago after my grandpa had passed away.  She had been living in an assisted living facility for the past year or so near Linda.

Upon hearing of my grandma's passing I started thinking about her and her qualities and her legacy.  It's interesting how each person's perspective and interactions are unique.  There may be some overlap here and there, but for the most part my relationship with grandma was an individual experience between me and her.

The word that kept coming to my mind when thinking about grandma was "simple".  Grandma was a simple person.  I don't mean that with any disrespect.  She wasn't simple because of any lack of ability or intelligence.  She was simple because she was uncomplicated.  There was nothing fancy about my grandma.  She never went out of her way to be something she wasn't.  She was who she was. 

Grandma was simple in the way she did things.  She simply woke up every morning while being married to my grandpa and got everyone ready, made breakfast for everyone, and then worked the rest of the day housekeeping.  I never ever heard her complain once about taking care of anyone, or making a meal for anyone, or cleaning up after anyone.  She simply did it.

Grandma didn't expect any fanfare or big "to do" about her.  She simply wanted to sit next to you and pat your hand and listen to you talk.  She loved being around people, just to be near others.  She didn't often have the spot light on herself.  She seemed more comfortable being a support to someone in the spot light.  She liked watching near by and smiling.

Grandma often had a smile on her face.  She smiled a lot because I think she was simply happy a lot of the time.  She was not the type of person to wallow in self pity.  I have never seen my grandma shed a tear in my life.  She almost always looked on the bright side of things.

Grandma was not perfect, but she had many strong points.  She was without guile.  She never tried to deceive or treat people unfairly.  She was simply sincere in all she did.

I love my grandma.  I admire who she is and the legacy she left in my heart.  Her influence will always be part of me.  I am happy that I knew her and lived with her and have very fond memories of being with her when I was a child.  I know families are forever.  I am happy that grandma is with grandpa again.  She missed him all the time.  Grandma loved grandpa very deeply. I know because she told me so.  They were part of each other and now they are whole again.  I love that.  It makes me very happy.  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

funnies?

T:  Mom you want to hear a really funny joke?
M:  Ok.
T:  Knock, knock.
M:  Who's there?
T:  Why did the chicken cross the road?
M:  Why?
T:  To get run over and squished into chicken juice.  Hehehehe.

I don't know what's more disgusting, the image of a road kill chicken or chicken juice.  Either way, yuck.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

I can see clearly now the crust is gone

We have had really bad inversion lately.  I hate it.  It brings with it really bad air quality and horrible fog.  The sky stays a constant grey, leaving everything dank and dreary.  It's a suffocating feeling.  I always feel trapped and irritable with the inversion.  One of the problems with inversion is the lack of movement.  The air is at a stand still.  Trees seem stiff and afraid.

But this morning things are different.  The air is moving.  Trees seem like they're dancing or being tickled with excitement.  Breathing has become easier.  Blue skies are visible.  This is the first time I've seen blue in the sky for weeks.  It's exhilarating.  It lifts the irritability off.  It makes me feel like there are possibilities again.  I'm stagnant no longer.  I'm capable of change.  I can progress.

It's funny that the weather has so much to do with how I feel.  But it does.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The M&M's have the Cheese Touch

At the request of Ben's kindergarten teacher I started Ben practicing his handwriting every week day after school.  And since Ben has to do it I make Tom do it too.  (This is a direct result of having 2 kids so close in age.  If one of them does something, the other one has to do it too.  There are very few exceptions to this rule.)  This has actually really improved both of their abilities in handwriting.  Anyway, back to the Cheese Touch.  After we do handwriting practice we do reading time.  Ben and Tom both read their readers to me and I read a book of their choosing to them.  Lately for Ben we've been reading "Diary of a Whimpy Kid".  They're really funny books.  In the first book the main kid, Greg, tells about a slice of cheese that gets stuck to the asphalt at his school and has been there for months, and if you touch the cheese then you've got the cheese touch, which can then be passed along to another person by touching them.  It's akin to cooties.
Tuesday night our neighbor Viv, aka "the best neighbor in the world", brought over a present from their recent trip to Las Vegas.  It was a clear box separated into 18 different sections with 18 different colors of M&M's.  As soon as I saw it I knew this lovely box of M&M's would have a very important job in our home: Handwriting Motivation.  Every time the boys finish a line of handwriting I let them choose one M&M from the box.  So far it's been a real hit.  The novelty of all the different specialty colors is going real strong.
Today Tom was selecting his last M&M after finishing his handwriting.  Then he comes running into the room telling me, "Mom Eliza has the M&M's".  Eliza dumped all the M&M's out onto the carpet in the living room.  Of course I over reacted and started yelling, "Tom why did you let her have the box".  He responded by hysterically screaming and crying.  (Tom has an unbelievably hard time communicating in stressful situations.  He clams up and immediately starts screaming and crying.)  Tom left and went into his room, leaving me looking at a massive pile of M&M's in a jumbled mess.  As soon as Eliza saw those M&M's she wanted to eat all of them.  She made off with a handful before I could stop her.  I momentarily thought, I should just throw all of these into a Ziploc and not worry about sorting them into their 18 different colors.  But then I immediately realized, putting them in a Ziploc would take away from their novelty, thus taking away from the motivating characteristics of 18 different colors of M&M's to choose from.
Ben ran up to the living and started helping me sort them into the box.  I was laughing in my mind when I told Ben, "Ben, make sure you don't get any of the nasty stuff from the carpet, ie. hairs, bits of ground of fishy crackers, melting salt from the front steps, in the M&M case with the M&M's."  Then Eliza wanted to help put back the handful she had previously grabbed.  Ben said to her, "Eliza, you can't put those in here.  You've got the Cheese Touch and now those M&M's have it too."  I started laughing.  He's so funny.
So, if my children offer you an M&M you may want to think twice.