Thursday, February 25, 2010

Want to See Huge Spiders? Try Youtube. Or Australia.

Some of you may know that I'm not so good with spiders1. I've tried really hard to keep my kids form being afraid because I am, but it hasn't quite worked. There are just those times like when I opened my front door to a giant spider hanging down in front of my face that you can't prepare for. I screamed and slammed the door and Atticus, who saw all of this, was terrified and sobbing. No matter how much you talk about how friendly spiders are, things like that mean a lot more than words.
We got a Crocodile Hunter video from the library for Atticus to watch that we didn't realize had big spiders on it. After that Atticus has been having some nightmares with big scary spiders and I feel terrible for him. I feel like this is mostly my fault. So this evening we got on Youtube and watched some spider videos. At first he totally didn't want to, but I held him and told him how friendly the spiders were and I think maybe we made a little progress.
Here's a good spider video we watched.
We had to stop this one part way through. This guy was freaking out way too much.

We really liked this one.

Potty training is also going pretty well. Definitely not perfectly, but well. I'm excited for the idea that this will all be over in a few months2 and we'll never have to buy diapers again!

In Esme news, she's now rolling over from front to back like crazy! She also goes from sitting to her stomach to her back pretty fast. She's discovering how cool her toes are. She's also showing definite recognition of things like her pacifier and some of her toys. We think she's pretty awesome.

1And those of you who know that much know that that's a big understatement.
2Give or take. I'm trying to find that perfect line between being hopeful and being realistic.

Monday, February 22, 2010

In Which I Use a Lot of Exclaimation Points!

Hey guys, I need to post more often! Oh, well.
I've had some great times this last week that I can summarize for you. I know you're eagerly anticipating this, so I'll dive right in.
First, I've been drinking water and exercising like a fiend and I feel Awesome!1 Today I did 125 couch pushups and walked down to Spicer Brothers and back!2 On the way back we passed several interesting people, one of whom was drunk and swerved3 around Atticus. Another was a smoker who told Atticus to never touch a cigarette. And he almost ran over a laughing woman and her date. All in all, very eventful!
Church was awesome yesterday. I've been called to be a Relief Society teacher!4 I'm so happy! I'm gonna whip those guys into a frenzy!5 And I'm still loving choir. And I finally got visit taught for the first time since Utah, which is beyond great! You guys, I'm making friends in my ward -- finally!
You might be interested to hear how Lent is going. I'm still up to date on my reading and I totally went kinda crazy with chocolate yesterday. Mmm. I made up for it today with a yummy cucumber sandwich.
This last picture is from a walk we went on the other day. It was almost dark and I turned off my flash anyway. I'm glad I did -- these pictures were awesome in a totally surreal way.

1Don't fail to notice the capital "A".
2I cheated and took the elevator back up. For those of you who don't know, it's a killer hill and none too short.
3I honestly can't think of a better word for the way he moved. To be fair, Atticus and his scooter were taking up a large amount of the sidewalk.
4I did mention that it was my favorite calling a few times to the people making the decisions. That may have helped.
5Umm, reverently, of course.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Water Bottle, Pushups, and Veggies or I WILL Fit Into Those Pants Again!

I mentioned it before, I think, but I'm trying to eat more healthily and lose this baby weight Esme left me with1. I joined Peertrainer, a free site where you log your meals and goals and exercise. They have groups that you can join of up to four people each to encourage each other and make you accountable for what you're doing. So far it's helped me evaluate what I eat. I know I have to report it, so I've been drinking more water, not grabbing bites of something sweet in the evening, and trying harder to eat veggies. I'm pretty proud of myself. Now I just need to get a scale so I can see if I'm making any progress.

I feel weird about this because I've always been kind of anti-dieting. My way of reconciling myself here is that I don't see what I'm doing as a diet -- I'm just making little changes to eat in a more healthy way and trying to add more activity to my day. I feel like I need to do this so I don't end up with health problems. There are a lot of things that run in my family, so I want to be as healthy as I can to try to stay that way.

I've started doing more pushups with Justin, too. This site gives a schedule to get you doing 100 pushups in 6 weeks. If you can only do a couple regular pushups it recommends doing an easier form that's still challenging but possible. Personally, I can't even do three knee pushups, so I had to get creative. I'm doing what I call couch pushups -- My hands are on the part of my couch that's right under the cushions -- about a foot off the floor -- and I do pushups from my knees. With this method I was able to do 26 pushups for my initial test with a straight body and everything2. Then yesterday, on the first day of the actual program, I did a total of 90 pushups! I couldn't believe it. I've only done probably ten knee pushups in my entire life up to this3, and that's not an exaggeration. And 30 of those were in my last set where I did my max. I can't believe I was able to do more in my max after four other sets than I had been able to do the day before at all! I'm pretty proud of myself here4.

My other big goal right now is water drinking. I drink at least 60 ounces a day. So far that's going really well5. I'm focusing on just that for a week and then I'll add in a new goal. I can't wait to fit into my jeans again!

And a quick update on Lent -- I've had no chocolate6 and am caught up on the reading. Yay! And for those of you who wanted a more detailed reading goal, it's about 11.5 pages per day. Sorry, I should've told you that at the beginning. So I've been reading 12 pages a day.

1Kids always give the worst presents.
2Justin's doing regular pushups. It's putting us on a fairly even level, workout-wise. Like, we both do around the same amount.
3One or two at a time.
4Although along with the pride I also possess a lot of soreness today.
5So easy with my water bottle! This water bottle and I were basically made for each other. When I try to drink my water requirement out of a glass I just can't bring myself to do it. From my water bottle it's a breeze! You may notice it's not full. That's because I've been drinking from it.
6Though I have definitely been tempted.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Book of Mormon Reading Schedule For Lent

Okay -- here's the reading schedule. It's approximately evenly spread out (I rounded to help it end in nice places where possible). The deadlines are all on Sundays for two reasons: first, it ends on Easter this way, and second, Sundays tend to be good days for catching up on reading if you're behind (and you can eat chocolate while doing so!).

Feb. 21 -- 2nd Nephi
Feb. 28 -- Enos
Mar. 7 -- Alma
Mar. 14 -- Alma 33 (about 80 pages in 33 chapters here!)
Mar. 21 -- Helaman
Mar. 28 -- 3 Nephi 21
Apr. 4 -- Easter!

If you do get behind one week, don't let it stop you! We can do this, guys! I'm gonna go make a Facebook group now.

Borderline Sick or Sleep, Ellusive Sleep!

Last night I got the worst night's sleep EVER1. First I didn't get to bed until midnight, which was my own fault. Then I huddled under the covers shivering for two hours. I kept turning over, tucking myself in tighter, curling up into a ball, thinking that eventually my body heat would transfer to the sheet and three blankets over me enough to let me sleep. Finally at two in the morning I realized that was never going to happen, so I pulled out a sleeping bag and threw it on top of everything else. After shivering for another ten minutes or so I finally fell asleep.

Fast forward to four o' clock or something. Justin brings Esme in to nurse2 and I'm so hot I feel like I'm going to die. I feel dizzy, sick to my stomach, and bruised all over. I feel like I've got the flu. Every other time I wake up I feel this way, too, even after I stop using all those blankets and the sleeping bag. Justin was really nice and let me sleep this morning3, but I still feel kinda sick today. Not as bad as I did in the middle of the night, but every time I stand up I feel like I'm going to die and I can't stand anyone touching my skin. I feel like every part of me is shaky on the inside. Not the best I've ever felt.

So maybe I have the flu or something. I don't know. I don't really care. I just hope I don't give it to anyone else and I hope I get better soon. Wish me luck!

And those of you who want to know about the reading schedule thing -- I'll get that up a little later. Right now Justina and Atticus are both being kinda loud and busy and I can't focus.

1Okay, maybe not EVER, but it was pretty bad.
2They sleep on the couch in the living room -- suffice it to say that everyone gets more sleep this way.
3Or should I say afternoon?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Updates: Potty Training and Lent

Remember how I said we were going to visit family yesterday? It went better than I'd expected it to. Atticus had one accident1, but other than that did really well. Today he's doing well, too. We've had to go out today, so he's had a pull-up for those times. I wish we could be a little more dedicated about this. I'm glad that he's still going in the potty even though it isn't full time. I feel like we're making progress that isn't going to go backwards here, and that's a huge relief. He's even telling me when he needs to go sometimes now!

Last night when we got home and put Atticus to bed we had a little Valentine's celebration. We had hot chocolate and cookies2 and watched Music and Lyrics. We had a fun time. The previews especially looked like good candidates for Making Fun Of Terrible Movies Night. We try to have one of those like once a week or so.

Only a little over a day until Lent! I think I'll draw up some reading benchmarks for each week to help myself not get behind. Thanks for the encouragement, guys, and I'm glad you'll be reading with me, Shiroibara! Can I call you by your real name or is it a secret? And there's nothing too special to know about how to do this. Just no chocolate except on Sundays and read the Book of Mormon by the end of Lent, meaning Easter. To find out more about the history of Lent or how different people decide to ovserve it, there's lots of info online. I think the similarities between Lent and Ramadan are interesting, too.

Edit: I just saw that you're going to read with us, too, Kathryn! This is going to be awesome!

1Which was our fault, really. We didn't ask him if he needed to go often enough and I think he felt really awkward being somewhere other than home.
2Gotta appreicate it before Wednesday, right? Plus, I'm only letting myself eat dessert-stuff before bed once a week now, so now I've got some waiting to do before I get to do that again.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Potty Training At Last -- Complete With Dino Tattoos!

So I mentioned over on Facebook that Atticus is doing awesome with potty training. Let me back up a bit.

We've tried potty training several times with little to no success. There seemed to be two problems. First, Atticus didn't really care if he peed on the floor somewhere. It just didn't bother him. Second, if there was a reward for going pee in the potty he would just sit there and sit there, refusing to budge, until he finally decided he wasn't interested at all. So frustrating!

Then a few days ago we realized we were running out of diapers and we just could not think of a way to get more without putting it on the credit card, which I adamantly oppose. I decided we were just going to bite the bullet and potty train whether he was ready or not. Now I'm totally glad I decided to do this because it seems to be working really well. First, I told him that if he peed or pooped anywhere other than the potty I would take away his trains1. Second, when he sat down on the potty but obviously had no pee to pee out I told him we could go drink some water, which would then go through his body2 and come out as pee, but he would have to be patient. This clicked for him! So whenever he goes pee in the potty he gets to pick a treat3, whenever he poops in the potty he gets a little bag of chips, and whenever he pees or poops somewhere else he loses his trains (or something else if those are already gone). Here he is with a dino tat on his forehead. He has more on his arms.

Yesterday he went pee in the potty four times and poop on the carpet once. I felt like I had a dog all of a sudden. So he lost his trains but took it pretty well. Today he's gone in the potty about a million times and pooped in the potty once4. He also pooped a little in his underwear, but whatever. We're making progress here. I was mostly just trying out the underwear because we have to go visit family tomorrow and Justin says they won't want him running around naked5. He passed the test as far as pee went, but poop was another story. At least it was only a little and then he told me. It could have been so much worse. Now we can all just cross our fingers for tomorrow.

In other news, I'm now officially losing my pregnancy hair. All over the place. It's driving me crazy.
1His absolute favorite toy lately.
2Insert lots of hand gestures here.
3We have a box with little raisin boxes, cheese and crackers, and dinosaur tattoos in it for him to choose something out of.
4I thought of taking a picture to put up here with this post, but I thought you probably wouldn't be as excited about it as I was.
5Some people are so uptight. Just kidding. To be honest, neither do I. This will already be uncomfortable enough.

Here Comes Lent, Guys! or My 46-Day Challenge

Lent is one of those things that I've always really liked the idea of doing, but never have. I've known other people, usually not Catholics, who have decided to observe Lent in their own way to help them become closer to God and better people. I seriously love that idea. So this year, I'm finally doing it.

I've been mulling over what I want my Lent to be like for several weeks now. I knew immediately that I wanted to give up chocolate1 for Lent and set myself a reading goal from the scriptures. I was thinking maybe the four Gospels or half of the Book of Mormon or something like that, but a couple days ago it hit me -- I know what I need to read for Lent. I'm reading the Book of Mormon. Not half of it. All of it.

I'll bet I know what you're thinking, and unless it's positive, I don't think I want to hear it. I'm kinda freaked out at the idea myself right now, but I know it's what I need to do. I've been feeling like I need to get myself mentally back on track for awhile now, and this feels like the right thing to do to get me there. I'm planning to set aside pretty much all other reading and focus on this and this alone, plowing through it like I do with novels. If I do that I have no doubt that I can do this. It will require sacrifice and time and motivation -- but that's the point.

So here's the real question -- will anyone commit to do it with me? Will you start next Wednesday (the 17th) and end by Easter? I'll be posting about my progress and thoughts, so we could probably have some good discussion in the comments.

Oh, and you should know -- Sundays are feast days2, so no chocolate restriction for those. I'll keep reading on Sundays, though. That would be a bit backward if I didn't, I think.

1I've toyed with the idea of giving up all sweets, but I'm not sure I could handle that one. I'm still thiking about it, though.
2At least that's what it says on Wikipedia, that fountain of religious knowledge.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Charlie, My Minivan, and A Lack of Arms

I've been thinking about an experience I had the other day. It's been refusing to leave my brain, so I'm going to inflict you with it. Sorry in advance.

Yesterday morning I was going over to my friend Letia's for some me time and quilting1. It was kinda cold and definitely rainy, so my minivan's tired wanted to slide every time I wasn't totally gentle with the brakes2. I parked in front of her apartment and got all of my stuff out of the car to carry in. As I did I noticed a guy walking down the middle of the street, looking a bit confused, pulling a bag-on-wheels3 behind him. He asked if he could use my phone, so I let him. He was wearing a baggy sweatshirt and jeans, smelled like cigarette smoke, and was very polite. As he talked to his friend on the phone it became apparent that he was lost and very far from where he was supposed to be. I couldn't help but think how awful that would be, since he'd be walking with his bag through the rain and apparently had been for quite a while already. He hung up and thanked me, handing back my phone.

"Sounds like you've got a ways to go," I said.


And suddenly I knew I had to offer. "Would you like a ride?"

He looked pretty surprised. I was kinda surprised, too, to be honest. I didn't think I was going to do that until I did. It was one of those things where you suddenly know you need to help. Does that make sense? I had a really strong feeling about helping him, so I flew with it4.

I called Justin to let him know what I was doing, shook hands with Charlie, and put his bag in the back. I unlocked his door and he opened it, just standing there for a second. He kind of patted himself down. "I don't have a gun or anything," he said, looking nervous.

I couldn't help but smile. "Don't worry," I said. "I've decided to trust you."

After that he got in and started thanking me profusely. He asked if he could turn on the heater, then offered to fill up my gas tank, explaining that he didn't have any cash to offer but he had his debit card. I told him not to worry about it. He asked if there was anything at the store I needed that he could get for me. I told him it was fine. Finally he sat back and we started talking. Almost immediately the topic landed on religion. I cleared up some stereotypes for him about the LDS Church. We had a good discussion about acceptance of people regardless of belief and respect for the agency of others to use their reason and figure out for themselves what they felt was true. It was a really good talk.

I dropped him off where he needed to go5, we shook hands again, he thanked me, and I drove back to Letia's.

Now here's what I can't get out of my head: I know most people would not have offered to give him a ride. Most people would have cited something about how potentially dangerous the situation was as the reason for not even entertaining the idea of giving this guy a ride. But think about it -- people used to hitchhike all the time, and while bad things happened, they were few and far between6. Most people in the world are good people. The risk is actually quite low, though it seems inflated because things like that get over-reported in the news and they stick in our heads.

And here's where I hope I won't lose most of the people still siding with me: don't we have an obligation to our fellow human beings to provide what service we can? Are we not obligated by religion to offer help, sustenance, and succor to those who are in need? I think we are, and I think this situation qualifies. Christ did not exhort us to help others only when convenient. There was no clause about only helping as long as it's risk-free.

I like to think that that act of kindness and the discussion we had helped change something for Charlie in a good way. I think it did for me.

1Woo hoo!
2I'm starting to seriously hate cars. There's always something wrong with them. Always.
3For some reason this phrase makes me think of fast food. What does Burger King call kid's meals? Something with wheels in it? Maybe I'm just thinking of Meals On Wheels. Whatever.
4As I'm apt to do. Great things can happen on the spur of the moment, you know.
5Which was a couple of miles from where we started.
6As far as I know.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

My Energy Problem or My Secret Identity -- Mel, Actual Human Being!

First, go read this.

That stuff is so true. Things like showering and running errands and just getting out of the house are so hard with kids. I think of all these fun things I could do, but it just doesn't feel worth the effort most of the time. I mean, by the time I've got the stroller out and muscled through our lousy screen door and I've got the kids fed, into clean diapers, wrapped up in warm clothes, and not screaming, I'm exhausted.1

I love my kids. I love having a place to live and food in my house and a husband who brings home money. Bu what I really want and need on top of these things is ENERGY! And I don't have any. I spend all day dozing off and feeling terrible. Every day. I've pinpointed a couple probable culprits for my constant lethargy.

First, I never get good sleep. Big surprise, right? I mean, I've got little kids, one of whom is a tiny baby. I don't see myself fixing this one anytime soon.

Second, I don't get enough sleep. This is extremely different from the first thing. I'm one of those cursed people who has always needed about ten hours a night to feel like a functional human being, and that's just not going to happen.2

Third, I don't eat enough.3 I kind of counted calories yesterday for the first time ever, and I didn't even eat enough for someone who's not nursing. I think this is the biggest culprit. I've just gotten used to being hungry. I think of it as normal. Because that list I linked to up there missed one -- eating. Yeah, she says eating warm food. I don't even get that far most of the time. It feels like too much effort to prepare anything to eat in the first place. I get up just long enough to make Atticus a sandwich or some cereal a lot of the time. And I don't even have to do that much work to feed Esme, thankfully.

I'm a mess!

First, I'm going to eat more. Fruits and veggies if I can pull it off. Second, I'm going to use the energy it gives me to get more exercise, which should also help. Wish me luck! Let me know if you have suggestions.

1Let's be honest: being exhausted is not something that only sets in after doing all those other things. I'm exhausted just sitting here.
2I have too many other things to do after Atticus goes to bed. I'm like the swan princess -- after he's in bed I morph from Strung Out Mom into Mel, Actual Human Being. I need to keep that or I'll go crazy.
3Justin's been saying this for years and I'm just now starting to really believe him. Go figure.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

All about Esme

So my birthday was awesome! I slept in some, helped Justin clean up some,1 and had friends over for cake, ice cream, and chatting. I'm now officially mid twenties. Like, exactly.

Some of you haven't seen me in a very long time and haven't met Esme.2 For her real name, go check Facebook or e-mail me. 

She actually has two middle names -- one I picked and one that was traditional in Justin's family.3 Her second middle name is Marie.

She was born with that hair, believe it or not. It was 1 3/4 inches at birth, and this picture was taken that same day.

She was born with those gorgeous gray eyes, too, though they're hard to see well in pictures. We're crossing our fingers that they won't change. No naysaying, please -- I hear enough of it from perfect strangers. If I want to be hopeful, I can.

She's got the best smile ever, as I'm sure you can see.4 She's also been holding her head up since two months and standing from about the same time.5 She's actually a really easy, cheerful baby. I'm so glad! She also commonly sleeps for 6 hours or more at night -- something Atticus never did. I worry sometimes that I make her sound so much better than him, but she really is a much easier baby. I loved him lots, too, though.6

In other good news, I've joined the Portland Modern Quilt Guild. I'm really excited to finally meet other quilters in the area! Plus, Elizabeth from Oh, Frannson! is in it! Could this possibly get better? Yes. If there were free fabric involved it would be better.

And on the quilting note, I'm submitting Esme's quilt to a quilt show in March. It's going to be in Milwaukie and I'm pretty excited.7 I expect everyone who lives near here to go see it. Call me and I'll come with you!

Oh, and one more thing. For those of you who have been in suspense over the root canal I mentioned, it went fine. So did the fillings I got today. My face is still half numb, though, so it's a good thing for me that you all can't see me. Just imagine that picture in the top left there. There you go. That's what I look like.

1And had a mini-fight. No birthday is complete without getting angry at your spouse and then making up.
2I know it's important to be able to pronounce what you're reading even if it's in your head, and I know some of you probably don't know how to pronounce Esme. (I'm not talking to you, Nordquists.) It's ehz-may. If I were going to be super precise I would've used the accent mark, but here in America that would have been a curse. It's just a middle name, anyway.
3The compromise was that mine got to go first.
4Though you could say it's a bit drooly.
5With us helping in the balance department, of course. She's not THAT advanced.
6And still do. Quit worrying.
7And nervous. I'm not the best quilter and I think the quilting part looks terrible because my machine tension was flipping out. I'm secretly terrified that everyone will notice and think I'm a disgrace to quilters everywhere! I'll be shamed for life! Ahhhh! But I'm still submitting it.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Divine Buddha Soup In Best Broth! or Justin Amuses Woman With Umbrella

I don't have any pictures today, but that's probably for the best. I have a lot of ground to cover.

Yesterday I went to choir practice after church and it was awesome! It felt good to do something, to be a part of something, just because I wanted to. I realized that I just don't have enough things to do outside of Balloons Made Art and the kids. It was slowly driving me insane. Now that I'm quilting again and am in the choir at church I'm starting to feel a little more like a person with a purpose. The kids are a purpose, I know, but not one where I always feel very motivated or appreciated. You who have kids know what I mean here.

Today Justin took me out on a date for my birthday.1 First we went to this Dim Sum place on Sandy. What we got was really good for the most part, but we didn't get the chicken feet on broccoli or the duck liver pudding or whatever. Sadly, we also passed on the Divine Buddha Soup In Best Broth2, but that may have been a mistake. We decided not to eat the really large fish in the tank next to the crabs, either. It looked lethargic.

After that we went over to Powell's for some sweet browsing. We nearly bought a calendar featuring Australia for two dollars but then thought better of it. We discovered that David Farland3 sometimes has the same illustrator as Robert Jordan.4 The most exciting thing that happened was when we were fighting over who got to put the next nickel into the meter and Justin scrambled around me, slipped, and fell on his butt. In the rain. The lady walking by laughed at us.5

My sister watched the kids for us, which was super nice -- thanks, Xandie!6 We had a really good time. Now I just have a root canal to look forward to in the morning.

1Which is a little later this week, not today.
2Don't quote me -- it was called something amazing like that.
3Read: Dave Wolverton.
4And all of these covers look hokey.
5Like she's never done that. Okay, maybe she hasn't.
6I'm using your real name because a) you're an adult, and b) you hate your middle name and probably don't want me sharing it with the world.