Friday, August 29, 2008

My Very Own Cake Wreck

Last night, Bryan brought home a Baskin Robbins cake to celebrate the launch of my full-time freelance career. He was shaking his head as he brought it to the table. But I couldn't help but laugh and think, "Oh my gosh! My very own cake wreck!" (If you haven't seen the Cake Wrecks blog, you definitely should check it out).

The squiggly line before 'good', the crooked writing, the off-centered is a perfect cake wreck. Not to mention the fingernail indent by the 'd' in 'Adventure.' Yep. We paid for it--$29.99 plus tax. And worth every penny.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Last Few Days of Summer

I'm not sure where the time goes, but it hit me this week that summer is over. From blowing bubbles to going swimming, we've tried to take advanatage of it! I read once that you should make a list on Labor Day of all the things you wanted to do over the summer that you never got to, then open it the following year on Memorial Day. Here is my list:
  • Make homemade lemonade with fresh lemons and a simple syrup.
  • Run through the sprinklers with Evan (in the backyard of course, so we don't look crazy).
  • Host a large barbeque with all of our friends.
  • Go camping. Roast marshmallows. Tell ghost stories.
  • Have a Christmas-in-July party.
  • Go to a drive-in movie, if I could find a drive-in movie theater.

I guess I still have a few days to get some of those things in...but if not, I'll try a little harder next year.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Open for Business

I've been tweaking my Web site and just barely sent out my first e-mail to a potential client with the link! It is a very basic site, but feel free to take a look and let me know what you think!

And, speaking of opinions, over the weekend I changed this to a three-column blog template (whoo-hoo for basic html skills). I'd like to know if it is too large for any of your screens or if it looks okay when you open it! Thanks!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Mind is Racing

I only have two days of my full-time job left before I strike out into the great unknown of freelance life and my mind is spinning. I made my decision to leave eight weeks ago, so how could I get down to the last week in the office and still have THIS MANY things on my to-do list? I'm in the process of reviewing a contract that I have to sign with my current employer to keep doing some work for her. I did pick up a freelance assignment today (albeit a low-paying one) and I have lots of things to wrap up before Thursday! My adrenaline is pumping, which is a good thing because I need the extra boost! Although, between the adrenaline and caffeine flowing through my veins, I feel like I'm wired!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Breakfast Cake

Grandma and Grandpa Long are visiting this week, so we decided to whip up a coffee cake for breakfast this morning. Evan is quite the little helper. He loves stirring and mixing, even though in the picture above, he is only stirring water and the cake is already in the oven. Now, the downside of making a cake for breakfast was that it was pretty hard to get Evan to eat his scambled eggs and apple while the rest of us ate cake!

This is a really quick cake to make. It is best when it is warm, but it will keep for a few days. Here is the recipe, if you'd like to try it.

Cinnamon Breakfast Cake

6 T. melted butter
1 egg
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt

2 T. melted butter
3 T. brown sugar
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 cup (or more) chopped nuts

For cake: Combine milk and agg. Add flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add melted butter. Spread into a 9x13 or 9x9 pan.

For topping: Mix nuts, cinnamon and brown sugar. Drizzle batter with 2 T. of melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and nut mixture.

Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I Will Never Live it Down

When Evan was born, I did the quick count to make sure he had 10 little fingers and 10 little toes. Each were perfect. But as I was looking down at my perfect little baby, I realized I couldn't see any nipples. Hmmm...I thought. I was upset about it, but since he is a boy, I figured he didn't really need nipples anyway. I was already worried though about him getting mean comments from other kids when he went swimming.

I don't remember how long it took--probably a few days--but eventually, the nipples appeared. I was quite relieved, and like a FOOL, I told Bryan about how worried I was that he wasn't going to have any. That was almost 18 months ago and at least twice a week, whenever Evan's shirt is off, I hear, "Boy, those nipples came in nicely, didn't they?"

I'm not quite sure WHY I ever mentioned it to Bryan. He is never going to let me live it down!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Taste of Summer

Nothing says summer quite like a trip to Baskin Robbins. Evan is still too little to get his own ice cream, but he enjoyed sharing with mom and dad. Bryan splurged and went for two scoops, because he was sharing with Evan, you know.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Just Peachy

Peach jam, peaches on the grill, peach syrup, peaches and ice cream--we're drowning in peaches at our house and trying to come up with creative ways to use them up. On Saturday, before Evan got sick, we loaded up the car and drove out to the country to go peach picking. I underestimated how many peaches we picked!

Now I know one wagon full of peaches will make 10 half-pints and 3 pints of peach jam, 4 pints of peach syrup and 8 pints of peach-blueberry jam. We still have quite a few peaches left, so today I am planning to make some peach-raspberry jam and some peach barbecue sauce. We also picked some nectarines and apples.

Evan called all the fruit balls and liked moving them from one bag to another. No wonder the peaches were a little bruised by the time we got them home. But, my mom always says the bruised peaches make the sweetest jam, so I didn't mind.

In the picture below you can see some of my wispy bangs I wrote about yesterday, but I did a pretty good job of tucking them behind my ears.

Who needs a ladder when you have dad?

Bryan humored me by (a) going peach picking and (b) posing for a photo.

We did our peach picking at Stribling Orchard in Markham, Virginia. The scenery was beautiful, and the oldest building on the property was constructed during the mid-1700s. Many of the buildings constructed during the 1800s were used as officers quarters for both the Union and Confederate troops during the Civil War (the orchard is pretty close to the Manassas Battlefield--also known as the Battle of Bull Run to the Yankees). I'm always amazed at how easily we stumble on history out here. Utah, where I grew up, is such a "new" state compared to Virginia.

We spent a few hours at the orchard, but Evan didn't really seem to enjoy it all that much. The only thing that seemed to peak his interest were the two family dogs wandering around the property. Evan seemed a little annoyed as I snapped my last picture in the orchard, below. I thought maybe all the fresh air was getting to him, but now I know he was getting sick.

I think we'll try it again next year--unless of course we still have bottles of peach jam on our shelves!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Half Full, Not Half Empty

It all happened so fast--but a snip here, a trim there and before I knew it, I was walking out of the salon with bangs. BANGS! I know better than to get bangs. Not just any bangs, long, layered bangs, as the woman at the salon described them. That is even worse since it means they are constantly in my eyes. When I was three years old, I cut my hair to the scalp gleefully explaining to my mother that I was tired of my hair being in my eyes. I've hid my scissors, but there is no telling what drastic actions I might have to take the next time I try to tuck my just-a-little-too-short bangs behind my ear.

I think I was taken back by the salon. I normally get my hair cut in the mall--I like the girl I go to, I can get in and out fast and it is a lot cheaper than a fancy salon. But, I had a gift card, so last week I went to a place that actually has the word spa in its name and white roses at the front desk.

The stylist I saw approached hair color the way a neurologist would approach brain surgery. I told her I wanted to cover the grey, something close to what was left of my natural color. She nodded, examined my roots (which had grown out about two inches, so it really wasn't hard) and walked away. She came back with a huge chart and carefully explained I was a number seven blond with 50 percent grey. She referred to the 50 percent grey about six more times. I was ready to say, "Yes. I get it. I'm going grey. That is why I asked for all-over color." Then it occurred to me, I'm still 50 percent number seven blond, why couldn't she have been more of a glass-half-full type of a gal?

She slathered the color on my hair (we ended up going with a blond number seven all-over color with ten foil highlights in the front) and sent me off to process. After a relaxing shampoo and conditioning treatment, I was back at her station and ready to get down to business. She had pulled out a picture with bangs and told me how great she thought it would look on me. I think it was either the relaxing massage I got with the shampoo or the herb-infused water I'd been sipping that caused me to drop my guard. I seriously thought, "Yes. Bangs. That would be a fun change."

So there you have it. I now have bangs that look nothing like the picture she showed me. The seriousness of it hit me as soon as I walked out of the salon and first felt the wispy ends brush against my eyelashes. But, I did get rid of the greys, which in case you didn' t know, have taken over 50 percent of my head.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Poor Baby

Evan is sick. He has had a runny nose ever since he started daycare, but last week he developed a cough and by Saturday afternoon, he was down for the count. After Evan woke up from his nap around 2:00 on Saturday, all he wanted to do was rest his head on my shoulder. I propped myself up on the pillows on my bed and just sat holding my sick little guy for about two hours. He finally was ready to sit next to me, so I shifted him around and we snuggled back together.

As he was sitting next to me, I heard his stomach start to grumble. I knew what was coming, but I was like a deer in the headlights. Should I scoop him up and try to make it to the toilet? Do I grab a towel? Those moments of indecision cost me and Evan ended up vomiting all over Bryan's side of the bed (sorry, sweetie).

We cleaned up the mess, settled back in--this time with Evan sitting on my lap--and turned on some Baby Signing Time, which Evan loves to watch. I had decided that should this happen again, I would make the effort to get Evan into the bathroom. It seems like a natural extension of the potty training process, right? I mean, you have to learn how to throw up at some point. For the sake of our linens, it seems like I should teach this sooner rather than later.

Then, it happened. More grumbling from his little round belly. I was ready to make my move, but either I was too slow or Evan was just too quick. This time I was covered in the mess. Both of us were soaking wet. I cleaned up the mess, again, and changed our clothes. Luckily, that was the last time Evan was sick to his stomach.

He went back to resting on my shoulder, and we stayed that way for a few more hours. He was awake the whole time, just sitting. As I was holding him, I thought about how amazing it was that all he wanted was to be with me. I know there will come a time in his life that he experiences a hurt so great that I can't take it away or make him feel better, but on Saturday, just being with me was enough to put him at ease. I am writing this down so I can pull it out and look back at it when he experiences his first rejection, his first heartbreak and his first disappointment. Things that I will so desperately want to fix but won't be able to. For now, I'll savor my small victories and be thankful that at one point, I was able to make it all better.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Words of Wisdom

I read this quote today and thought I'd share it: "It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself." ~ Joyce Maynard

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Playing Make Believe

Last night when I got home from work, I had Evan in one arm and grabbed our mail with my free hand. When I got inside, I sat the mail down on our console table and looked down to see the latest Victoria’s Secret catalog and the gorgeous model on the front looking back at me. We have a mirror above the console table, so I looked up from the mail stack to see my frizzy-haired, tired self. Evan looked at our reflection in the mirror and then looked at the Victoria’s Secret model, pointed at her and said, “Mama.”

I, of course, replied, “Yes, baby. That does look a lot like mama, doesn’t it?” I can definitely see how he could get the two of us confused.

He smiled and grabbed the catalog. It just occurred to me that this could be his first attempt to try to use flattery to get what he wanted, since I let him sit and flip through the catalog. I didn’t think he’d have an interest in Victoria’s Secret until junior high. Check out the model on the cover. It is an uncanny resemblance, isn’t it? Hopefully my sarcasm is shining through, as there is no chance that anyone besides Evan would see a resemblance.

Needless to say, I had a fun afternoon of playing make believe!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Old and Comfortable vs. New and Clean

This weekend when I was changing the sheets on our bed, I decided it was finally time to part with our pillows. I've been thinking about it for a while, adding up how long it has been since I bought new pillows and then trying not to think about how many dust mites must be going to bed with us each night. Even though I know we SHOULD get new pillows, I actually thought the old ones were really comfortable. So comfortable that I am only parted with them because they were, I'll admit it, a bit disgusting.

Yesterday was our first night with the new pillows, which are still too hard and too thick for my liking. I knew I had to make a clean break from the old pillows or I'd be reverting back in the middle of the night. I threw them in the trash OUTSIDE before bed. I was regretting that move terribly around midnight when I woke up and my neck was in a 90 degree angle. I was so desperate I almost got out of bed to rescue my old, dust-mite riddled and now trash-covered pillows, but I didn't do it. Mainly because I'm scared of the dark.

I always have a tendency to jump in with both feet. The plus side of that is I take new risks that I would have probably avoided if I spent more time thinking about them. The downside is that I make plenty of mistakes while I'm finding my feet and things can be uncomfortable until everything has a chance to settle in--and I'm not just talking about the pillows.

Bryan and I are taking on some major changes, which are exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time. I am sure everything is going to come together, but we still have lots of details to take care of. I know that everything always works out. And, as for the pillows, if night two doesn't go a little better, I think I'll try running over mine with the car a few times to see if I can break it in! See--there is always a way!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Amusing Inspiration

Have you ever watched Ace of Cakes or any of the cake challenges on the Food Network? I love those shows and will stay up way past my bedtime to watch the final amazing creations the bakers come up with. I like decorating cakes and I tried my hand with fondant for the first time at Evan's birthday party in March. It was okay, and I definitely learned a lot in the process. I only got two pictures of that cake, but here they are:

I have to step up my techniques though because I have offered to bake a cake for my friend Ali's baby shower in November. It is still several months away, but I want Ali's cake to be perfect--so I hope to find my inspiration, then practice, practice, practice.

Last night, I was looking for some ideas and found a hilarious blog-- Cake Wrecks. It is a "professional cakes gone wrong" type of site and is the funniest thing I have seen in a long time. I had tears rolling down my face.

This is one cake that I will not be making for Ali's shower:

I'm sure she'll be relieved. I can't even bring myself to post the picture of the cake that depicts, in icing, a woman actually giving birth to a baby, but you can check it out here. I can't imagine the look on Ali's face if I were to show up with THAT cake!

This isn't a baby shower cake, but the story behind it definitely had me laughing until I cried, just like it promised. If you want a good laugh, read it here.

I spent too much time looking at the ridiculous cakes, which means I didn't come away with a good design idea for Ali's cake. I still think it was time well spent though. I'll keep looking and will keep you posted on what I find. Then, I will spend the next few months practicing and Bryan will be my willing taste tester!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Here Boy

Evan loves dogs. Big dogs. Small dogs. Hyper dogs. Lazy dogs. He'll take them any which way. We spend a good portion of our time either:

a) annoying the neighbors by asking if we can play with their dogs

b) walking through the neighborhood looking for dogs and/or

c) if mama is tired, sitting at the window waiting for a dog to pass by our house.

By 10:00 on Saturday morning, we had already exhausted options a and b and were on to c.

Our "dog watching" routine starts with perching Evan on the back of our sofa so he can get a good view out of our front window. Then we watch and wait.

Nothing yet. Evan is a very sad boy.

Then, pay dirt! A dog! A dog! Can you believe it? A dog! Evan's smiles are followed by him panting (I'm not sure why he hasn't tried to imitate a bark yet) and patting his leg furiously to make the sign for dog.

One of these days, buddy, we'll get you a dog of your very own. I promise. But not anytime soon! In the meantime, I promise to hold your hand while we scour the neighborhood and I'll keep pestering the neighbors, even though I'm a little embarrassed at times at the frequency of our requests. I love how much you love dogs, even if it does mean I occassionally have to leave the house while I'm still in my pajamas to take advantage of a dog passing by.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Just for Kicks

You know how you hop online to do one thing and before you know it two hours have passed? Well, that happened to me last night, but I have to say, sometimes wasting time online can be so much fun.

Yep--that is Paris holding a picture of Evan. Check it out at

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

A friend of mine sent me a link to a blog she has started reading--Soule Mama. I've decided this is what I want to be when I grow up--someone who spends her day taking beautiful pictures, playing with her family, crafting and writing! The woman who writes the blog lives in Maine, and the pictures are beautiful. This blog also makes me want a house in the country where I can grow potatoes and dry my clothes out on a line.

If I couldn't be Soule Mama, I wouldn't mind being Tartelette--another blog my friend told me about. Tartelette gets to bake, take beautiful pictures and write all day long. That also would be a good gig if you can get it.

I am counting down to my next big adventure--going freelance. Only 16 days in the office left (okay--17 if you count today) and only six days of daycare left for Evan. I really feel like it is an opportunity to chase a dream and I plan to take advantage of every minute. I am looking forward to taking Evan on play dates, story times and singalongs. Maybe we'll even make a few crafts and spend plenty of time baking. I am going to keep writing for my current boss, and I hope to break into the parent/family magazine market. I've signed up for a one-night class about managing a freelance career. Hopefully it will give me some tips! We're still trying to figure out childcare for two days a week and are hoping to get Evan into an early learning program or find someone who can come to our house. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

This would be a good time to thank Bryan for being such a supportive and understanding husband. Thanks for taking this leap of faith with me!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


I've been seeing an endodontist because my primary dentist was worried I would need a root canal to deal with some pain I've been having. I have a bridge on my front teeth because I broke them off when I was young (Note to parents: advise your children not to play games where they are blindfolded).

The bridge serves its purpose and leaves me without a gaping hole where I eventually lost one of the teeth, but cosmetically I think it could look better. The endodontist decided I didn't need a root canal, but said when I eventually replace the bridge I should have it go up higher to compensate for some gum recession. Yada, yada, yada...okay, so that would take care of the pain.

But then, he started suggesting other things I could do that would make it look better. It was music to my ears! I want to do every single thing he suggested and for no other reason than sheer vanity--I'll admit it! Getting rid of the pain I'm having would just be icing on the cake. I normally try to avoid the dentist's chair, but this got me really excited. I booked an appointment with the periodontist he recommended for next Tuesday! So, between the endodontists, periodontists and prosthodontists, it looks like I might make a few little improvements so I'm not so self conscious when I smile (of course, it all depends on how much money it all takes)!

And, speaking of vanity, I need to make an appointment to get my hair colored!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Evan-- after I wrote my letter to you, your dad reminded me of all the other signs you can do that I didn't list. I don't want to shortchange you! You can also make the sign for airplane (and you make a very serious face when you do it), water (your favorite sign, since you love splashing so much), banana, elephant, eat, cracker and apple. One of the newest signs you've started doing is all done, which typically comes right before you start throwing your food on the floor. You can also make the signs for mom and dad and you've made up your own sign for Tag (your best buddy).

Granny gave you Tag before you were even born and there is no doubt he is your buddy. You can't sleep without him, but you still have a tendency to toss him from your crib and then shout, "Tag! Tag! Tag! Tag!" until we come in and hand him to you or you colapse from sheer exhaustion. Tag is pretty ratty now, but you still love him just the same!

We had a close call a few months ago when we lost Tag for two days. You were inconsolable and couldn't sleep unless you were laying on top of me. Not just by me, but on top of me. Neither of us slept much those nights. We knew we had lost Tag somewhere in the neighborhood while we were walking to the park. We retraced our steps over and over again, but didn't have any luck. On the third day, I decided to see if posting missing posters would bring us any luck.

Just as I was hanging the last poster, I looked over in someone's yard and saw a small tuft of yellow poking out from a picnic table. We rushed over and pulled out Tag! You reached out and grabbed him, even though he was soaking wet from two days of rain. I was so happy I cried. Ever since then, we've vowed not to let Tag leave the house. We slipped this month when he went with us on a quick outing, but he never got out of the car. Your dad and I wonder how long you're going to pack Tag around, but you can have him as long as you need him! We'll do our best to make sure he never gets lost.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Month 17

Dear Evan,

You are 17 months old today. Just this morning I looked at a picture of you from when you were born and I can't believe how much you've changed. Everyone told me the time would fly by, and they were right. You are learning more and more every day.

You can sign cat, dog, ball, frog, bird, horse, hot, car, cold and baby. You also say ball and hot, and you do a great job of saying mama, dad and Tag. This morning, you hugged me and let out a little, "mama." It was the most wonderful part of my day.

I'm sorry that you've had such a rough month. It hit me last night that you've spent almost every weekday of your 17th month crying. The adjustment to daycare has been really hard for you, but it hasn't broken your spirit. You are still full of that fire that is going to get you in trouble one day, and you are also still a little sweetie who loves to share everything from your milk to your toothbrush (after you've used it).

I am amazed by the sense of humor you are developing, and I'm a little worried your going to possess your dad's sarcasm. You seem to know you are being funny and your comedic timing is spot on.

Right now one of your favorite books is "It's Potty Time for Boys." I think I hear, "You stand up to go pee pee. You sit down to go poo poo," at least 10 times a day. Your dad hates reading that book, but it will all pay off when you finally use the potty and we don't have to change diapers. You love reading nursery rhymes and throw your arms in the air and yell when we sing the second verse of Row, Row, Row Your Boat (if you see a crocodile, don't forget to scream--argh!).

Even though this has been a bit of a rough month, we have managed to have fun. We have spent a lot of time at the pool, where you load up a bucket with water and then dump it out. You do the same thing in the bathtub and at the kitchen sink. We go through lots of towels wiping up the mess, but I know you do your best to keep the water inside the sink and bathtub.

You are all boy and love anything that goes "vroom." You especially love trucks and crashing them into things. You'll even put one truck in the back of another truck and push it around. You love blowing bubbles and can't get enough of the neighbors' dogs. I am afraid we've become a bit of a nuisance with Jim and Louise next door since you love seeing their dog George so much. George was on vacation for a week, and you would stand at the door and point across the street while making the sign for dog. You were so sad without George that your dad and I thought seriously about getting a dog of our own. We snapped out of it and now George is home, so we'll all be a little happier.

I'm disappointed that I didn't take more pictures this month. I normally am snapping them left and right, but I think it has been a trying month for all of us. We'll do better next month! We have a lot to look forward to. Grandma Roz and Grandma Betty (and Grandpa Stu, too) are all coming to visit. They are going to spoil you and shower you with hugs and kisses. We're going to go to Virginia Beach and play in the sand, and we'll have lots of time to play together once my work schedule changes.

I love you so much! Thanks for being the sweet little boy that you are.


Friday, August 1, 2008

How Do You Shut Off an Internal Alarm?

From the minute Evan was born (five weeks early, I might add), he has been an early riser. He must have been born with an internal alarm because no matter what time he goes to bed, he wakes up at 5:30 on the dot. There is no snooze button and apparently there is no resetting this internal alarm.

We can usually let him stay in his crib until 6:00 or so, but by then his "talking" is loud enough that we know one of us has to get up. Recently he has progressed from just talking to pounding his hands on the edge of the crib. I think if he had a tin cup in there he'd run it along the slats of the crib to get our attention.

I had a new theory that it was the light that was waking him up, so Wednesday night before bed, I used binder clips to hang a dark sheet over the window. I was sure it would work--so sure that I even stayed up a little later than I should have (I mean--I was watching I Love the 80s--that is definitely worth trading for extra sleep, right?). Sadly, my theory was totally wrong. Even though Evan's room looked like it was still the dead of night, he wasn't fooled. I was up and playing with him by 6:05.

The optomist that I am decided to try it one more time. Same result. Only this morning he woke up even earlier! We were reading Humpty Dumpty at 5:45.

There has to be a way to reset an internal alarm. Bryan should be the expert on this because he somehow managed to change me from the morning person I was before we got married (up by 6:00 even on Sundays) into someone who eventually enjoyed sleeping until 10:00. I bet he regrets that now that I also long to stay in bed when Evan's alarm goes off.

Bryan and I are both out of ideas on how to get Evan to sleep later--it feels like we've tried everything. So, if anyone knows how we could get Evan to sleep even until 6:30, let us know. We'd be incredibly grateful!