Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Near Miss with Tag

Evan's teddy bear, Tag, has been a staple in our lives since Evan was just a few months old. Nothing can give me such a sense of relief or panic as that bear. It is ratty, it is old, but holding him will calm Evan in a matter of seconds. Life without Tag, is, well, horrific. There was the time we lost tag for a matter of days. Luckily we found him again...in a stranger's yard...under a picnic table. I've thought about stitching our name and phone number onto Tag in the event we ever lose him again, but I'm sure Evan would just walk around picking at the tag saying, "Uh-oh, Mommy. Uh-oh," until I took it off.

We rarely let Evan take Tag out of the house, but there was no way I was enduring our recent 12-hour travel days (layovers...yuck) to and from Utah without Tag. Then...my worst fear almost came true...almost...

We've been working on potty training with Evan. There are certain times he will insist on using the actual potty. They are a) if we are running late, b) if it is time for bed, and c) if we are in the Chicago O'Hare airport. During our trip we were about to board in Chicago when Evan started chanting, "Potty, now. Potty now." I reluctantly took him to the bathroom, which was the equivalent of Disney World for Evan. I'll spare you the details, but they involved some splashing in the toilet bowl and lots of toilet paper.
While trying to contain Evan and get him focused on the business at hand, I must have sat Tag up on a purse holder in the stall. I was eager to get out of the stall and to our flight as quick as possible, so I rushed out and started putting a diaper on Evan. We were getting ready to wash our hands when a woman, who I would guess was in her 60s, came running out of the stall.

"Is this your bear?" I looked up at her. She was holding Tag. I hadn't even realized he wasn't with us.
"Oh my gosh, yes. I can't believe I left him in there...oh my gosh..." I stammered on and on about how much Evan loves the bear and how horrible it would have been. She held her hand up to stop my rambling.
"I left one in a rest area in Pennsylvania once. The whole state heard about it."

Oh--the bonds of motherhood. She knew exactly what I was going through and knew how horrible the rest of my day (week, month, year...) would be without that ratty old bear. Thank you, thank you, thank you whoever you are for caring enough to bring Tag back to us. 

I'm Cracking Up

Easter preparations are underway at my house and I’m trying something new this year—real live grass growing in eggshells to decorate our Easter table. 

I’ve been saving eggshells all week and it is full steam ahead! I bought grass seed and potting soil and got to work yesterday afternoon. There really isn’t much to it, but here is what I have learned so far (keep in mind I’m only a few hours into this little experiment of mine):

To break the egg, tap it on the top with a knife until there is a small crack, then remove the eggshell with your fingers a few pieces at a time so you get the shape you want. I showed Bryan my technique over the weekend and asked him to crack all eggs like that until I get enough for my Easter table. After he realized I was totally serious he assured me he would not be participating in this little project of mine.

When filling with soil, try to keep the outside of the eggshell as clean as possible. I kept one hand as my “clean” hand and the other one was the “dirty” hand. You can wipe the dirt off, but these are eggshells, people. They’re fragile!

I don’t have any good advice about sprinkling the grass seed. Just sprinkle it. I’m not sure how long the grass will take to grow, and I’m worried I’m a little too late, so I went pretty heavy on the seed. Besides, the bag I bought is enough to re-seed 1,200 square feet of lawn (the equivalent of half a tennis court, according to the bag), so I had plenty.

I did decide the best way to water these little things will be with a spray bottle. The goal is to keep the soil moist, but there is no drainage and I'm not about to try poking a hole in the bottoms of the shells.  

Unfortunately, we have less than two weeks until Easter, so let’s hope my little grass seeds start sprouting soon! I’ll let you know how it goes!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Did Someone Say Cake Ball?

While I was in Utah, I fixed a little birthday lunch for my mom and two of her friends. I think my mom had a hard time sitting in the living room watching me cook before the meal and then clean up afterwards, but she struggled through. The lunch was so much fun. My mom has the nicest friends.

For the lunch my friend Sandy helped me make our own little version of "cake balls." Yummy. Cake balls. I swear the other day, Evan and I were just sitting in the kitchen when he looked up at me and said, "cake ball." They were a hit!

Bakerella gives the full cake ball instructions and tons of variations on her blog. We altered our versions a bit.

Like Bakerella's version, we started with a cake mix (red velvet), baked according to the package directions. Then you break it up into tiny pieces and stir in one container of cream cheese icing. Once you get the gooey goodness mixed up, you shape it into balls. We used an ice cream scoop. We also sampled it at this point. Evan did too...

It was good, so we kept going. While those were chilling in the freezer for 15 minutes or so, we put small cupcake liners into a mini muffin pan. We melted chocolate (not chocolate chips though--the disks you can buy to make candy--when we ran out of those we tried chocolate chips and they didn't set up quite right). Here is what we used--all purchased at our local Wal-Mart. 

We pulled the cake balls out of the freezer, put some chocolate in a muffin cup and stuck our cake ball in so the chocolate came up about half way the sides (in the picture above you can see that it will end up looking like the cupcake liner. We put it back in the freezer to let the chocolate set up. Once it was set, we removed the cupcake liner. Next we melted white chocolate and tinted it pink. We dipped the tops of the cake balls in the pink, sprinkled it with sprinkles...what else...and topped it with a red M&M! Ta-da! Cake ball cupcakes. I don't have any pictures of these steps for several reasons: a) you have to work quickly with chocolate b) Evan was hopped up on sugar at this point and needed some extra chasing and c) I was busy eating cake balls. I did get a picture of Evan with a finished product though. I finally figured out he really only wanted to eat the M&M and sprinkles off the top, but he looked so cute holding it. 

So, there is my quick version...but check out Bakerella's great site at www.bakerella.com. She has some super cute Easter ideas up there.

We made far more cake balls than we dipped for the cupcakes (for some reason I thought I should double the recipe--that really wasn't necessary). With the leftovers, I pushed them down into a cupcake liner and just topped them with either chocolate or white chocolate. We sprinkled some with toffee chips. They were just as yummy even if they weren't quite as cute. As you'll see on Bakerella's site, the possibilities with cake balls are endless.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Tribute to Miss Ash

Miss Ashley. Evan's first nanny, one of the love's of his life and a forever friend. Miss Ashley nannied for Evan for a year, and even though it has been ten months since she officially worked for us, some things never change. Miss Ashley visited us in Price during our trip, and the two always pick up right where they left off.

There aren't very many people in this world who I would trust with my most prized possession, but Miss Ashley is one of them. She and Evan have a bond that I hope will never be broken. Thank you, Miss Ashley, for loving Evan, and for spending six hours in the car to get to spend an hour with Evan during our trip. It means the world to us!!! We were so lucky to find you. Some things are just meant to be.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

Are you sick of hearing about our trip to Utah yet? If so, you might as well close your Internet browser right now and check back in with us on Monday, because I still have lots of stories to tell! The reason we went to Utah in the first place was to celebrate my mom's birthday with her. On her actual birthday (March 21), we had a party at the park with her side of the family.

Here is the birthday girl, along with my dad. He tolerates pictures...for a little while...

My mom with my cousin Jason and his little sweetie, Hailee...

My mom and my Aunt Kim...

All the cousins...we were just missing three...Kendra, Megan and Luke...
My Aunt Nette, my mom and my Uncle Roy...

Becca and one of her twins...I'm sorry Becca...I can't tell which is which! Becca has another little boy, Caleb, but I never saw him the entire time. The park kept the kids busy! By the way--this is one of my favorite pictures from the party...I love the pretty yellows.

Hailee and Evan back at my mom's house after the party. They were so darn cute together!

We had such a fun party! Thank you to everyone for coming. But, I realized that I didn't get one picture of me with my mom. I don't remember posing for any, but if someone has one, will you send it to me? Also, a little note to my family: Since most of you have blogs, I'm assuming you don't mind me posting photos of you. If you do, let me know and I'll take them down!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Future Fire Chief

Our Utah trip was full of adventures and surprises. One of which was a special treat from Evan's Aunt Sandy--my best friend--and her grandma, Penny. Penny is an amazing seamstress and her hubby, Ken, was the fire chief in Price for as long as I can remember (until he retired, of course). Sandy and Penny arranged a special ride in the fire truck for Evan and sewed him his very own turnout suit complete with his name and Price City patches. It made me cry.

I took about 100 pictures of our morning at the fire station. When I was telling the whole story to Bryan and e-mailing him pictures all he could say was, "Yes, but did you get a picture of you crying?"

So, it might be a little silly that I cried, but here is why. I've discovered that as a mom, I have no greater joy than that of seeing my little guy happy. I knew how much he would love his suit and his ride in the fire truck. I was so touched that Sandy and Penny took the time to make Evan his very own suit complete with every last detail, including reflective thread--who knew they even made reflective thread??? Oh--yeah--that's right, Aunt Sandy. Sandy also made a trip to a police supply store to buy some of the reflective gear and Penny sewed cargo pockets for the first time. There was so much planning, effort and love involved that it really did move me to tears! I can't help it. I'm a sap. We're so lucky to have people who care so much about us.

Sandy--thank you for being such a wonderful friend and "Aunt Sandy" to my Evan. Penny--if you read my blog--thank you so much for the suit. You're such an amazing and sweet person and we're so lucky to know you. We love you both!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch

Evan and I spent last week in my hometown (Price, Utah--for anyone who doesn't know). The day we landed in Utah, my mom treated Evan to his first pair of cowboy boots and a cowboy hat that rarely left his head during our entire stay. As soon as my mom handed Evan his new hat, he started saying, "McDonald's Farm. McDonald's Farm." Here are a few pics from the trip...warning...more to come...in future posts!

Helping feed the horses at Uncle Todd's and Aunt Brenda's:

Playing at the park at the fairgrounds:

Playing with cousin Charlie at Mimi's house.

And, yes, the hat was worn inside as well. Here Mimi and Grandpa Jerry are teaching Evan how to put olives on his fingers.

I have lots of stories to post about the trip, but I also have four deadlines pending this week! I hope to write more soon!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Totally Star Struck

Of course I wouldn't trade my role as Evan's mom for anything in the world, but if for some strange reason I were ever forced to pick one person to trade places with, it would be New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult. I am star struck every time I see her. My heart beats fast, my palms get sweaty, I begin to utter mere syllables instead of actual words. It is pathetic. 

Ms. Picoult is on tour promoting her latest book, Handle with Care: A Novel and I went to a reading last week. After the reading she took questions and answers. When she announced she had time for one last question, I decided I couldn't pass up an opportunity to talk to her, so I shot my hand up in the air. It was right as she called on me that I realized I didn't have a question to ask! So, I pulled together a really lame, boring question: Has your writing routine changed since your first novel? Ugh. I might as well have asked what toothpaste she uses. She answered it graciously saying her routine hasn't changed at all. Go figure. 

Next came the signing. I waited in line hoping I could get a picture with her, only to find out she wasn't doing photos. She scribbled my name and her signature in my book and I tried to think of something to say to her. "I love your writing" seemed too obvious. So, being the intelligent creature I am, I came up with the incredibly witty, "I love the MP3s you post on your Web site." That was it? That was all I could come up with? I've read every single one of her books, some of them twice and that was all I could think to say? I blame it on the butterflies. She thanked me and told me she'd be posting a new one next month. I walked away shaking my head. I can be such a dork. 

As for the book, I am almost finished and I love it! It has made me laugh and cry. It is the story of a mother that decided to sue for the wrongful birth of her daughter who was born with a genetic disease. I have liked every book by Jodi Picoult, but so far this is one of my favorites...now I just have to see how it ends. If you live close to me, I'll let you borrow my copy. If you want one of your own, Amazon has it for $16.77, which is a $10 discount--this link--Handle with Care: A Novel--will take you directly to the page.

If you want to listen to the MP3s I mentioned, visit http://www.jodipicoult.com/ and click on MP3s. You can also view her book tour schedule. If you go to a reading, try to be a little more composed than I was. 

Sites I Love

Oh, the Internet. It can be good and so, so bad. I have to admit that I am addicted to blogs. Friends' blogs. Family members' blogs. The blogs of complete strangers. Crafting, cooking and sewing blogs. You name it. In addition to the many blogs I read each day, there are a few other sites I spend time on that I thought I'd tell you about--if I'm going into the Internet abyss, I might as well bring you with me. 

Evan and I make multiple visits each day to www.starfall.com. They have an alphabet section Evan absolutely loves. I don't mind it either. We spend at least 30 minutes a day on there and Evan knows all of his letters, so I think it helps! 

The other site is called Baby Steals, www.babysteals.com. They post a new "steal" each day, which is usually 50 percent off some sort of baby or kid items. Once the items run out, the steal is gone, so you have to check the site each day. I usually browse, but I have ordered before and my items have gotten there fast and are always correct. 

Oh--and for the other sites that I spend way toooooo much time on, check out my blogroll to the left! 

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Hockey Mom in the Making

Don't tell Evan, but he has to wait another year before he gets to sign up for hockey. I'm gearing up for it, too. I'm learning about hat tricks, blue lines and power plays. Bryan is helping me. Sometimes that means we have to watch hockey even when I'd rather watch the Duggar family on TLC (you know--the ones with all the kids).

Ice skating classes for three year olds are typically mom and me (or dad and me). By "mom and me," they mean mom gets on the ice, too. On skates. I have only been on ice skates once in my life. Bryan took me on one of our firsts dates and later confessed the only reason was so he would get to hold my hand as I was stumbling on the ice. It worked. I've never been a very graceful girl.
Since I assume I need to be steady on the ice in order to pull my toddler around, I've decided I better take some lessons, too.
Lessons start in a few weeks, but I went this weekend to "get a feel for the ice" like they recommended. And, boy, let me tell you, I haven't laughed that hard in a long time! I held onto the wall nearly the entire time. I almost wiped out a five year old. And a 50 year old. And a 12 year old and pretty much anyone who got in between the wall and me. I skated for an hour without falling. Yea! I also walked away with a whole new appreciation for hockey players. And tonight, when we were watching hockey (and not 17 Kids and Counting) and several fist fights broke out, I wasn't even shocked by the violence. I was amazed that the players could fight like that without accidentally toe-picking the ice and falling flat on their faces. I've decided they really do earn every penny!
Oh--and the first time I see Evan get in a fight on the ice, he'll be switching to figure skating.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

All That Pouting

The day started well. I decided to make Evan and Bryan a big Sunday morning breakfast. I thought of the smiles on my boys' faces as I peeled and sliced the potatoes and pulled out the bread for the French toast. I smiled when I heard Evan heading down the hall to wake Bryan up knowing within a few minutes we'd all be sitting down to the breakfast I'd so lovingly prepared.

Then, it happened. Reality. Sometimes I hate reality so much I can't stand it. I burned the final piece of French toast--not the kind where it was just a little too done, the kind that makes the whole house stink. Next, Evan didn't want to eat breakfast. Oh no, he wanted to play trains. Bryan and I doubled up on him and got him in his booster seat. I had made a nice breakfast and we were going to sit down and enjoy it if it was the last thing we did all day.

Evan was finally at the table, but the two-year-old in him refused to eat. We begged, we pleaded, we played little games. Then, Bryan gave Evan a choice. He had to take two more bites of his breakfast or else he couldn't go on a bike ride with Bryan. My ears started ringing. I had been looking forward to the bike ride all week! Three hours to get some work done was a glorious prospect for me! Anything but that.

I started trying to will Evan telepathically. Eat two bites. Eat two bites. Eat two bites. Eat two bites. Evan has a stubborn streak a mile along and he refused to take two bites. Not of his French toast, not of his hash browns, not of his grapes and not of the slice of plain bread I'd offered up as an alternative (he likes plain bread, so I wasn't being mean). He wouldn't even take a sip of the Orange Julius drink I had made to go along with our meal.

Finally, it was done. No bike ride. I am a firm believer that you have to follow through on the threat, even though it was hurting me just as much as it was hurting him. Bryan showered, loaded up the bike and left me with a very unhappy toddler. Boo! It wasn't the morning I had planned. Now Evan and I were both being punished. So much for planning a nice breakfast for everyone. I should have just put out some cereal and been done with it.

Next, I did what anyone being punished does...or at least what I do when I'm being punished...I pouted. I pouted because I had longed for a morning to get my work done. I pouted because I wanted Evan to have a fun morning outside without me being the one to oversee it. I pouted because I really needed to work on a story about fuel taxes my editor had sent back to me for some tweaking. I pouted because I had another story I needed to write about tires and I really didn't feel like writing about tires and I knew I would feel even less like writing about tires later in the day. I pouted because I was home alone with a cranky toddler and I pouted just because I felt like it. Then I pouted because all that pouting was taking up way too much time.

I pouted until 3:00 when I finally decided to start letting it all go. And you know what I realized? That pouting did absolutely no good. I should have let it go earlier in the day and just gotten on with things. Evan woke up happy from his nap, Bryan got home from his bike ride and we all had a much better afternoon. I even got in a little bit of time writing about tires. I'm still bummed about our unpleasant morning, but at least the second half of the day went well. And next time, I'll try not to pout as much.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Evan's Birthday Week

So--it didn't start out as a week-long celebration, but it seems we've done something birthday related most days this week. We kicked off the week on Saturday when we had a birthday dinner with the folks we've deemed our "local family." Evan had a ball running around with his two little friends who were at the party. We ordered pizza, ate cake and let the kids decorate picture frames.

Evan even blew out his candles on his cake! I was going to just make a plain cake, but at the last minute I decided to try my hand at a Cars cake. Evan didn't seem to notice its many imperfections. Just another reason I love him to death!

I tortured Evan all day by not letting him remove Doc or the Sheriff from the cake. Poor guy. He was very happy to finally get those cars off the cake. So much so he did more driving than eating once we finally cut the thing. The cake with Mater was egg-free for Evan's friend who has a cake allergy.

Bryan got tickets to the Deloitte suite for the hockey game on Sunday. We invited quite a few of our friends and had a great time! Evan has been trying to check me into the boards ever since then, though!

My friend Michelle gave me permission to blog this picture of her little girl Jillian (whose birthday is today! Happy birthday Jillian!). The kids had lots of fun running around the suite.

Evan with his daddy.

Evan's new cars came with us to the game.

Evan and his little friend Ava looking into the suite next to ours. It was empty...we hung out for a while after the game ended.

Evan's grandparents and aunts and uncles were too generous, which means Evan received at least one thing in the mail each day this week, adding to his celebration! Yesterday was Evan's actual birthday, so we did a little more celebrating. We met Granny (Bryan's grandma) and Aunt Nanci for breakfast.
Bryan and I hadn't gotten Evan a present, so in the afternoon I took him to Toys R Us and bought a couple of Thomas the Train trains for him. He was so excited! At dinner we sang happy birthday (again) and let him have a piece of leftover cake! Today he took treats to school and we have officially concluded birthday week. :-)

Thank you to everyone who took part in Evan's birthday week. Everyone was so generous! Evan has loved each and every present and is loving having new toys. It is hard to believe two years have passed since we first laid eyes on our little guy. Happy birthday, Evan!