Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Who says labor isn't fun?

It's all fun and games 'til the Pitocin kicks in.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Mystery Boy is here!

Our little boy still has no name, but he arrived last night, December 28th, at 9:09pm. He was 9 days early. He weighed 7 pounds 1 ounce and measured 21.5 inches long, although we're a little skeptical about the length and are going to have him remeasured.

Upon first inspection, Dan and I both thought he looked a lot like his cousin Alexander (Don and Lora's son born in April). He has great big cheeks and is an excellent latcher. The final stage of labor went super fast, going from 6cm dilated to "I have to push right now" in less than 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the epidural didn't kick in until after he was born, so I now know how excruciating natural childbirth is. But the fabulous news is I have NO BAD HEMORRHOIDS! Hallelujah! I will do another post with the play-by-play of the labor, pics and video of the girls meeting their brother and other fun stuff in the next day or so.

A name is still eluding us. It seems much harder to pick a boy's name for some reason. How will it sound for his professional future? Will it make him subject to mockery as he gets older? Does it have any personal significance to us or should we just pick a name we like the sound of? Here are some of the contenders for a first name:

  • Luke
  • Oliver
  • Nathaniel
  • Mack or Max
  • Ian
  • Miles
  • Jonah
  • Eli
  • Samuel
  • Graham
  • Jake
  • Henry (Hank)
  • and Dan's personal favorite, Filson, which if you're not familiar with fine outdoor clothing, go here and check out the object of his affection.

What does he look like to you?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus

I am overcome with gratitude and humility for the kindness and generosity that has been shown to us this Christmas season. I have never experienced anything like it in all my life. Maybe it's this town, or maybe it's just God pouring out His blessings on us for trying to what's right with our finances. Whatever it is, we are so thankful and look forward to the time when we can pay it forward.

Just in the last couple of days we have received an anonymous delivery of meat, an unmarked bag full of 5 wrapped gifts, and a couple very generous financial contributions. Each time I have discovered these gifts, I am just flabbergasted at the charity, the pure love of Christ, that people have flowing through them.

One of the Christmas books the girls and I have read is called Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus.

In 1897 a little girl wrote a letter to the New York Sun newspaper.

Dear Editor:

I am eight years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa
Claus. Papa says if you see it in
The Sun it's so. Please tell me the truth; is
there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O'Hanlon

The Sun's response perfectly expresses how I feel:

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the
skepticism of a skeptical age...

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and
generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to our
life its highest beauty and joy...

The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men
can see. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the

No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand
years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand
years from now,
he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

10 ways to have a low stress Christmas

In no particular order, these are things that have made this Christmas season much more enjoyable for us than in years past:

  1. Decide on a Christmas budget before you spend a bunch of money. Get it all in cash, and when the money is gone, you're done Christmas shopping. This will save you stress and remorse at the end of January when the credit card bill shows up.
  2. Be realistic about your list of people to buy for. Stop succumbing to an unreasonable sense of obligation to buy a gift for everyone you know. Even within the family draw names and if the budget is really tight, just buy for the kids. 'Cause let's be realistic, if there's something an adult really wants or needs, they just go buy it for themselves anyway.
  3. Shop early and plan your purchases. Don't just show up at the store and browse. That just leads to frustration and overspending. Especially watch out for the stocking stuffers, which can really bust your budget if you're not careful. Ever read Little House on the Prairie? Those girls were beside themselves with pleasure just to get a stick of candy and a pretty cake in their stocking.
  4. Try to remind yourself everyday that Christmas is about the gift of the Savior. Repeating this mantra while you're in Walmart for the 5th time trying to refrain from buying that thing that "is perfect for so and so", even though it's not in your budget, will help you spend less and cut your stress level.
  5. Avoid working in retail if you can. Christmas shoppers are among the crankiest people around. Who wants to be around that all day? For me, not having a ton of photo orders hanging over my head the whole month of December has been awesome.
  6. Bake some treats. You don't have to make "neighbor treats" for 50 of your closest friends, just enjoy the smells and the memories the treats bring for you. Let your kids help, snitch some of the dough, eat the spoils till you make yourself sick. Only then, if there are some left and you can refrain from thinking, "if I give some to so and so, then I better give some to these other people", put a few goodie bags together for those you love the best. If you find yourself making 4 batches of 6 different kinds of treats and worrying if it'll be enough, let me refer you to the beginning of this post by Dan's friend Doug, author of Open Mic Day.
  7. Listen to Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song" CD. His voice is so warm and smooth and the classic carols will make you smile. Reminds you of what Christmas is all about. Plus he sings "O Tannenbaum" in German, how can you resist that?
  8. Sit and watch the Christmas tree in the dark. Dan maintains that you can't "watch" the Christmas tree if you don't have blinking lights, but I still love to sit in the dark and reflect on Christmases past and think of how glorious it must have been to see the star and the angels on the night of Christ's birth.
  9. Limit your social commitments. A lot of holiday stress is caused by all the parties and plays and performances we "have" to go to. Choose just a couple things to attend, using the question, "will this bring my family together and help me feel the Christmas spirit" as your guide.
  10. If your kids are Santa obsessed and have present lust, don't put the gifts under the tree until a day or two before Christmas. Jesus doesn't stand a chance of being the center of Christmas for little kids when there's a pile of presents taunting and tempting them from under the tree for 3 or 4 weeks straight.
  11. Read LOTS of Christmas books with your kids. We solved our "no presents under the tree" dilemma (let's face it, wrapped packages under the tree are festive) by starting a new tradition two years ago. I get a bunch of Christmas books, mostly from the library, that primarily center on the Christmas story or on kindness and giving, wrap them all up and put them under the tree. Then each night in December the girls get to open one book to read before bed. They love it and it has really helped to keep us all centered on the reason for the season.
  12. If at all possible, try to have a baby (or a grandchild) born around Christmas. It alters the nature of your anticipation and shifts your focus from commercialism and "stuff" to the miracle of new life. And that is what Christmas celebrates. The new life that Jesus Christ has made available to all of us.

OK, that's more than 10, but brevity has never been one of my finer qualities. If your Christmas season is going well, tell us why. If you can't wait until it's over, tell us what you'd like to do different next year to make it more enjoyable.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holy Baby Clothes, Batman!

I finally started going through all the baby boy clothes everyone has given me, and Holy Mackerel! There's enough for 3 kids!

This kid is set until he's a year and a half old! From left to right:
  1. burp rags, bibs and blankets
  2. 0-3 months
  3. 3-6 months
  4. 6-12 months
  5. 12-18 months

I'll have to fine tune the selection after Mystery Boy gets here and I can see how big he is and what outfits will be season appropriate. A HUGE thanks to all the donors: My sister-in-law Lora (who has hooked me up with tons of maternity clothes and sweet hand-me-downs for Amelia), sister Becky, cousin Jenn and friend Esther. Dan insists that this kid will be better outfitted than his two sisters!

Here's how we're cookin' along:

Mystery Boy is the wiggliest of my kids. He is the most active in the evening and when I lay down for bed (naturally). I can feel and often see pokey lumps where he's jabbing me with his feet or fists. He's head down, so I'll be trying for a VBAC delivery (vaginal birth after cesarean) like I did with Amelia. My next OB appointment is on Monday, so we'll see how I'm progressing.

This is me at 36 weeks with a very cranky Amelia at the family Christmas party last weekend.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Baby Brother Bear

Meet the newest addition to Grammie's grandkid bear collection:

For now he goes by Baby Brother Bear. I think he's perfect because of his long, gangly legs; he jabs me with his feet and shoulders more than the girls ever did.

My Mom started a tradition with her first grandchild to choose a bear to represent each kid. She's (almost) up to 15 bears (really 14 because Gilian is Buzz Lightyear) and they sit lining her front window. The girls love to go through the bears whenever we're there and try to guess who each one is.

This is Lily's bear (chosen for the candies and little rick-rack ribbon on the arms that remind Grammie that Lily's Mama is the treat queen in the family), Baby Brother Bear, and Amelia bear (pink and sweet). Several of the bears were chosen for a specific reason, beyond being cute and just "feeling" right. Like Aimee bear, my brother David's daughter, is yellow because that's the color of roses David sent to my mom when they found out they finally had a little girl to adopt. Connor bear, my sister Becky's son, is made of Scottish tartan because his middle name is MacGregor. Luke, my brother Don's son, isn't a bear, but a frog, because his Daddy called him "Froggie" from the time he was a little baby.

Lily wanted to be sure and get a picture with Mama bear and Grammie's 2 bears. My bear (left, holding Baby Brother) has been around I think since I was 11 or so. It had a name, but I have long since forgotten it. Grammie's bears were chosen because of the Tartan ribbon (Mom's a Scottish fanatic, in case you didn't know) and the little one because it is an original Steiff bear from Germany where she spent a big chunk of time as an Army wife.

Aren't we a cute bunch?

Good Trade

You know on Dances With Wolves when one of the Indians says to the White Guy, "Good Trade"? That's what we've been scoring here in Cokeville.

Dan has helped a local friend with a bunch of computer stuff, most recently helping him set up the computer management part of a windmill he just bought for his ranch, as well as helping with moving cows and such. The last time Dan was out there, they gave us a bunch of meat in appreciation for all the help. We have real fresh bacon, ham steaks, pork roasts, ground beef and beef roasts.

That's a serious chunk of change sitting in our freezer! We can't wait to try out the bacon, especially Lily.

The local grocery store recently changed ownership. Dan's office is just a couple doors down from Mindy's Market and he goes in there a couple times a day to grab a soda and what not. He's talked quite a bit with the new owners about the new improvements they're making. One day they mentioned that they were going to have a grand opening and Dan told them I could help them with a flyer. I went down to the store (a whole one minute drive) and snapped a few photos, then designed this flyer:

It was actually pretty fun doing the flyer and rather than pay me for the design and printing, we traded for store credit. Not only did we get a bunch of free groceries, but we got a waffle maker (which we've been missing ever since we moved from Mom's house- it's a necessity on "I don't wanna cook" nights), a big outdoor extension cord, and a jar of Redken Water Wax pomade (my hair product of choice). I was floored when I saw the Water Wax on the shelf- way to go Cokeville! Mindy is also a hairdresser, so she has the inside connection.

Lovin' this small town!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The AssMan Cometh

I am officially miserable. You may think it's the constant trips to the bathroom or the stretching of my uterine ligaments or back pain from leaning over the sink to wash dishes. While those things are certainly annoying, they are a minor inconvenience compared to my real problem. I've got hemorrhoids. BAD.

I know what you're thinking: I can't believe Sue is talking about hemorrhoids on her blog. Oh stop it, yes you can.

Once you have knelt at the altar of the colorectal surgeon and said to yourself, "Oh my gosh, he totally just taped my butt cheeks open" there's really not much left in this world that can embarrass you. Except, I guess, when you have to go back a second time because the surgery failed, and the surgeon takes one look and says, "Oh my gosh! Oh wow, yep I've never seen that happen before." Really the only way to respond in that situation is with humor: "Well, I'm glad I could be your first."

Not too familiar with hemorrhoids? First, thank your lucky stars, then go to this link (not to worry, there are no visual aids). My body seems to have a built in weakness for hemorrhoids during pregnancy. The weight of the baby just puts too much pressure on my butt. I had hemorrhoids with Lily, but thankfully they were mostly internal and never got really bad. I suspect it's because I never went into labor with her or had to push her out because she was a scheduled C-section. Plus she was my first so my body wasn't ruined yet.

I got hemorrhoids with Amelia, was pretty uncomfortable for the last few weeks and had to give up on my hopes of having an unmedicated labor because I couldn't sit or lay comfortably in between contractions. The strain of pushing the baby out was more than my tooshy could handle and one of the hemorrhoids ballooned out and developed a clot (thrombosis). Despite the myriad of people that took a peek at my butt while I was in the post-pardum maternity ward (the hazards of delivering at a university hospital), they told me just to wait for it to clear up on its own.

It didn't. After just a couple days home with Amelia, I went to the colorectal surgeon who stayed late on a Friday afternoon to help relieve my misery. The thing is, as mortified as you are to drop your drawers and let someone go after your butt with a scalpel, you're so desperate for the pain to go away that all you want to do is turn around and hug the guy!

That experience and the aftermath was by far the worst physical pain I'd endured. I still maintain that I would rather give birth 10 times over than have to get another hemorrhoid surgically removed.

Fast forward a couple of years. I've tried to be vigilant in taking my stool softener and Metamucil with this pregnancy. There have been a few minor incidents, but things have cleared up within a couple of days. Then last week Mystery Boy started moving down and putting a ton of pressure on everything south of the uterus. Within three days I had a thrombosed hemorrhoid. Having been there before and knowing it was not going to just "go away", I called the butt doctor Friday morning and got in for another late afternoon appointment just in time before the weekend. The procedure was quick and Mom met me at the hospital to watch the girls, followed by a sleepover with Grammie.

I had a miserable night and by the morning I discovered that a new clot had formed by the stitches. Un-freakin-believable! Mom had a funeral to go to, so I sent the girls to play with some neighbors and called upon my Aunt Liz to drive me back up to the University of Utah hospital because I couldn't bear to stop taking my pain meds long enough to be a safe driver.

If you have to choose someone to accompany you to butt surgery, make sure it's someone with a sense of humor, and preferably a nursey type. Aunt Liz and I had a great time cracking (pun intended) butt jokes and she threatened to take pictures of the butt doctor working on my backside. Fortunately she restrained herself enough to only photograph me fully clothed.

Thank my lucky stars, the colorectal surgeon and his intern who had done the procedure on Friday afternoon were both in the hospital on Saturday as the attending surgeon and resident surgeon on call, so I had the experts fix me up again instead of some ER hack. When it comes to your anus, you only want the best!

When I had the thrombosed hemorrhoid removed after Amelia's birth and then again on Friday, the doctors completed the procedure with sutures. I was really concerned about the hemorrhoids recurring since I've still got 4 weeks to go until delivery. Dr. Peche said that sometimes a clot will come back, pooling under the sutures, but he'd never seen it happen. Leave it to me to broaden his medical horizons!

The solution was to remove the sutures, clean things up and just leave the wound open to heal. The recovery will take longer, but the risk of another thrombosis is lower. Dr. Peche said I should be healed up right about the time I deliver. Great, just in time to push a baby out and pop a few more ass grapes.

Here's the "after" picture. And the only reason I'm feeling so sassy is because my butt is still numb from the local anesthetic.

And yes, I did ask the doctor if his licence plate said ASSMAN. He said, "No, it says NAMSSA so that when people see it in their rearview mirror, it says assman." Nice.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A 6-year-old's guide to decorating a Christmas tree

  1. Have your Mom put the tree together.
  2. Dance around the room and help occasionally with the fluffing.
  3. If the lights don't work, let your Dad fix them.
  4. If you don't have any ornaments, just let your favorite doll sit in the tree.

We had to buy a new Christmas tree this year because our other one is way too big for this little house. My sister Becky and cousin Katy braved the Black Friday sale at Walmart and pounced on a $25.00 doorbuster tree for me while I played the "tired pregnant lady" card and stayed home in bed. Thanks, girlies!

We (meaning the girls, Dan boycotted tree assembly duty this year) put the tree together on Sunday night. I spent at least 30 minutes bending and fluffing to make the tree look good. When I plugged the lights in, nothing happened. Instead of cussing, I just headed to the bathroom for yet another potty break and when I got back Dan had gotten them working. Amelia was chanting, "Daddy did it! Daddy did it!" Oh sure, I put the whole tree together and he gets all the credit!

This tree is the first pre-lit tree we've had and I gotta tell you- I ain't ever goin' back! It is SO nice not to string lights! Dan gave me a hard time for robbing the girls of that Christmas tradition, but I figure they'll have plenty of fun putting on the ornaments.

We planned to put the ornaments on for Family Home Evening on Monday, but upon further investigation we discovered that our Christmas box is still in my Mom's garage. (My Mom has this magnet on her fridge that says, "It's not an empty nest until all their stuff is moved out of your garage." Ha!) Thankfully the tree is pre-lit so at least we have lights, but the ornaments will have to wait until we go down for the family Christmas party on the 13th.

Tonight when I came home, I discovered Lily's favorite doll Ella burrowed into the branches. You gotta love the ingenuity of children.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Kids aren't cookie cutters

About a week ago, this post started out with me ranting and raving about what a "Terrible Two" Amelia has become and how her sister was comparatively a saint at this age. But after a long prayer and a good night's rest, I realized I was being crusty and unreasonable and that I could do a lot to improve how Amelia and I were getting along.

One major change I made was limiting Amelia's movie time to one movie a day instead of letting her brain rot for hours at a time. She's a very busy and inquisitive child and all that passive time in front of the DVD player makes her irritable. So I've been trying to do more reading with her, letting her help me with chores, and bringing out more toys for her to play with.

Another thing that has helped, especially when it's bedtime, is the elimination of Amelia's nap. This was done with MUCH reluctance on my part because I usually took a nap at the same time. But we'd been spending about 45 minutes a night putting up with her getting out of bed, throwing fits because she didn't want to go to sleep, demanding to sleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed, etc. I'll tell you what, by the end of the night I was about ready to send her outside to sleep in the wood pile! Lily has always been a champion sleeper so it's been a challenge for me. In talking about managing the stress of motherhood, someone recently told me, "No one is a good mother after 8:00 at night." That is so true for me. My patience and energy are completely shot by then, so I turn into a total crankpot at night. I've been trying to make getting the girls bathed and teeth brushed by 8:00 a priority.

While Amelia is strong-willed and obstinate at times, she has a built-in defense mechanism to keep her parents from beating her: she's just so dang cute!

It's hard to stay mad at that face!

Amelia has some of the most endearing quirks. When she wants something she says "Meees" (please) while hunching her shoulders up and tilting her head to the side. Despite the four year age difference between Amelia and Lily, Amelia just adores her sister. Several times during the day while Lily is at school, Amelia will say," I miss Bee" (Biggie). She always gives her a big hug when she comes home from school. When Dan is gone to Salt Lake, she says, "I miss Daddy" and we call him on the phone and she giggles and smiles. Another thing I love to hear Amelia say is "yes". She says it in two distinctive ways. If she's perky and enthusiastic, like when she does something by herself and I ask, "Did you do it?" she'll speak very clearly, with good alliteration on each letter, and her little eyes light up. When she's sad or she's talking about her animals or a baby or something small, she says it in a small, pitiful voice with her lips poking out and her brow furrowed.

I've been so absorbed with Amelia's challenging behavior lately that I've really short-changed Lily with all my crabbiness. That kid is just sweet to the core and she gets nothing but nagging from her mother. Being the oldest child sucks because you're expected to be ultra-obedient and set the perfect example or else your parents freak out. OK, not all parents, but that's how I've been.

But Lily is one of the sweetest kids you'll ever meet. She has such a tender heart and loves to express affection. Every morning when she leaves for the bus (she started this when we lived in American Fork and she'd leave to go play with her friends) she waves and says, "Bye Mama, I love you". She's always giving me hugs and kisses, talking to Mystery Boy, and making all kinds of love notes for me and her Dad. Dan went to Parent-Teacher Conference a couple weeks ago and Lily's teacher said she was one of the kindest kids in class, got along with everyone and was always leaving notes to cheer up her friends.

Lily has always been eager to please and is super easy-going. Sometimes we've worried about her lack of attention span or willingness to really concentrate on something and/or be competitive. Whenever she's been in sports, she's more interested in just having fun with her friends than trying to master a skill. But I'll gladly trade athletic prowess for a girl with a kind heart.

It's been interesting watching our girls grow and realizing that kids really come with built-in personalities. We used to be all proud of our great parenting skills because Lily was such a mild-mannered obedient child. Turns out that's just her personality.

I wonder what Mystery Boy will be like...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Being Thankful (and crafty)

I actually decorated for Thanksgiving. OK, I don't know if you can really call it decorating if it's just one little thing, but it does makes things seem more festive. And not a moment too soon since Thanksgiving is in two days!

I stole this idea and modified it from spymommy's blog (I was way too lazy to cut out leaves, so we just did rubber stamps). The girls had a great time crafting with the rubber stamps (thanks, Katie, for loaning them to us) and then we wrote in what we were thankful for as a Family Home Evening activity last night.

Dan (participating via speakerphone from his office and Lily as scribe) is thankful for:

  • Sue
  • Lily
  • Amelia
  • Mistre (Mystery) Boy
  • His job
  • His leg heling (healing)

I am thankful for:

  • Amelia's smiles and Lily's hugs
  • Dan working so hard so I can be a stay-at-home mom
  • Living in Cokeville
  • Blogs and staying in touch with loved ones on the internet

Lily is thankful for:

  • Blessings
  • Famile (family)
  • Helth (health)
  • World (Jesus created the world, you know)
  • Jesus
  • House
  • School
  • Mistr Hach (Mr. Hatch, her teacher)
  • Food
  • Drinks
  • Myself
  • Books

Amelia is thankful for:

  • Biggie
  • Mama
  • Daddy
  • Baby Brother
  • Binky and Woobie
  • Horses and Cows
  • Playing in the wood pile
  • Grandparents
  • Books and Movies

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cattle Country

This may seem a little Pioneer Woman wanna-be-ish, but Rhee's not the only city-turned-country girl who loves taking pictures of cows!

At the beginning of October I was sitting at the computer and Dan came in and said, "You're missing some real Wyoming culture outside." I grabbed my camera, headed outside and spied a huge herd of cattle walking down Main Street. There were tons of guys on 4 wheelers and kids on bikes trying to push the cows down Main Street and get past the railroad crossing.

There was a great hum, cows mooing, ranchers whistling and hollering, hooves clattering down the pavement.

Those cows caused a traffic jam, not unlike the 15 or 20 trains that go through in a 24 hour period, but with the cattle crossing, people knew they were in for the long haul and some got out to chat with the ranchers while they waited.

The amazing thing is that not two minutes after all the cows were across, a train came through. What luck! There are no schedules or anything so those ranchers were just chancing it. I guess that's why they had so many guys on 4 wheelers hovering by the crossing, so they could split the herd if a train came.

Fast forward a month...

Amelia got to tag along with Daddy while he was moving some cows with Brian & Keith. I drove to the pasture where they were pushing the cows so I could take some pictures.

"Are YOU lookin' at ME?" Half of these cows were practically on my bumper before they moved out of the way.

This calf totally looked like it had a milk mustache.

"You snooze, you lose!" All the cattle rushing the feed wagon.

Coming in at the rear was Amelia, riding with Brian since Daddy's horse was a little squirrelly. When she saw me she broke out in a huge smile; she was cold and snotty and ready to get off the horse after her 30 minute ride. My favorite part of this picture is puppy Merle, bounding forward in complete exultation. "I'm a ranch dog!" Merle's only been going out on the ranch for about a month, but Millie is a seasoned veteran and can chase those cows like nobody's business!

Dan rounding up a few stragglers, whoopin' and hawin' with the best of 'em.

Minus the cowboy hat, Dan is getting to be a pretty authentic ranch hand. He got his own pair of custom made leather chaps from Argyle Ranches (between Cokeville and Randolph), and if you look closely, you can see he has properly initiated them by getting elk blood on the right thigh. There's definitely something sexy about a man in chaps!

When I first tried to put Amelia in the car, she threw a holy fit and screamed, "No Mama! I want tows (cows)!" But once I forced her into her car seat and turned the heater on, she decided it wasn't so bad in the car. Rosy nosed and looking a little wind chapped, Amelia fell asleep within about 3 minutes of leaving the ranch.

Just a little something for my artsy-fartsy side. I got a real kick out of this old broken down piece of ranch equipment, so long neglected that the sagebrush had grown all around it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Peace, Love and Banana Cream Pie

All is well at the Richardson house again.

They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, so I kissed up to Dan by making a completely homemade Banana Cream Pie. And I guess the way to a woman's heart is to just do what she asks, so Dan made me happy by being around a lot more in the days following the drama.

A couple days after the blowup Dan was getting ready to go to his office here in town and he said, "Now, I've got a lot of work to do today, so I don't want any of your b.s. drama." I laughed and said, "did you read my blog?" He said, "No... man, why're you always outing me?" Later that day I was talking to my cousin Josh on the phone and he was like, "Poor Dan, his whole life and all of his faults are laid out for the world to see." I repeated that to Dan and he responded, "yeah, well, that was only one side of the story." I said, "well, then by all means, go leave a comment and tell your side."

I told Dan yesterday that I think most people missed the point of my post and he said, "that's just how women are, though." I didn't intend the post to be a "men suck, let's get the pitchforks, ladies" thing or a way to shame Dan. My purpose was to point out how we all get really worked up over things that, in the grand scheme of life, have very little meaning. The blog is a way for me to work out my thoughts as I write. I was regretting some of the things I said, especially after Dan told me to save the b.s. drama, and writing helped me think more clearly about how really blessed I am.

And, as is usually the case when I call Dan on something, I did not have all the information. Dan's not the type of guy who tries to defend himself and make excuses when I complain about something. He's just like, "whatever, if that's what you want to think, go ahead" and then as the days follow and he's not feeling so attacked, he'll tell me more about his thought processes or what was going on from his point of view. So the rest of the story is that Dan wasn't sitting around watching football for three hours like I thought. After eating, he was out putting up the horses, hanging the elk for skinning, and other ranch chores. He was out working after 5 or 6 consecutive nights of very little sleep and had just sat down to rest 20 minutes before I called him to take Amelia. I am duly chagrined.

So here's my question: I especially need my male readers to step up and give us women some perspective on balancing work, family responsibilities, and recreation from a man's point of view. Women, and stay-at-home mom's in particular, often have a hard time seeing their man's challenges from the vantage point of being at home with kids all day and being completely spent in the patience department by the time the daddy gets home. So men, some pointers on how your wife can be more of a support than a nag. Or if you just want a place to say "my old lady is killing me", by all means, go right ahead. Feel free to comment anonymously, although dug, I'm sure you can come up with something really witty for us all to enjoy. And if none of you step up, I'll just have to assume that Dr. Laura is right about how to keep your man happy: "men are pretty simple. If he's not horny, make him a sandwich."

Now, for you women, here is the Banana Cream Pie recipe:

Gram's Fool-proof Pie Crust (makes 2 pies)
3 cups flour
1 cup lard
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 egg
5 Tbsp. cold water
1 tsp. salt

  • Cut lard into flour until pieces are pea size.
  • Add remaining ingredients and knead until smooth.
  • Divide dough into two even sections to make 2 pies (and try not to be like me and just eat the whole second section raw. I was going to half the recipe because I only intended to make one pie, but then I added too much vinegar and had to increase everything to compensate. You may scoff, but don't knock this raw pie dough until you've tried it. There's something addicting about it, maybe the vinegar... And it's not just because I'm pregnant. My mother can verify that I've been like this for years.)
  • Roll out dough in a circle, about 1/8-1/4 inch thick, leaving plenty of room for dough to go up and over sides of pie plate.
  • Press dough into pie plate and cut excess dough around edge of pie plate (or if you really need to grovel or impress, try pinching in a fancy design around the edges).
  • Depending on the type of pie filling you're using, you may need to pre-bake the pie crust.
  • Using a fork, poke holes all around the pie plate to prevent the crust from shrinking too much during baking.
  • Bake pie crust only at 400 degrees for approx. 10 minutes until edges are golden.

Old-fashioned Banana Cream Pie (found on
1 9-inch pie shell, pre-baked
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 bananas

  • Combine sugar, flour and salt. Set aside.
  • Have egg yolks, slightly beaten, set aside and ready.
  • In a large saucepan, heat milk until almost boiling (scald the milk).
  • Slowly add mixture of sugar, flour and salt.
  • Over medium heat, stirring constantly, cook until thickened.
  • Cover, and stirring occasionally, cook for two minutes longer.
  • Stir a small amount of the hot mixture into the beaten yolks; when thoroughly combined, stir yolks into hot mixture.
  • Cook for one minute longer, stirring constantly.
  • Remove from heat and blend in butter and vanilla.
  • Let sit until lukewarm (I cooled mine in the freezer because I'm far too impatient.) Tip: cover the surface of the concoction with plastic wrap so it doesn't form a "skin" on the top.
  • When ready to pour, slice bananas and scatter in pie shell.
  • Pour warm mixture over bananas.
  • Refrigerate until serving.
  • Top with whipped cream as desired. (Cool whip, or if you're married to Josh, get the canned whipped cream because then you have the added bonus of watching him spray it directly into his gullet until he gets a bellyache).
Note: If you leave out the bananas, you have vanilla cream pie. If you add 1 cup shredded coconut to milk as it's being heated, you have coconut cream pie.

Monday, November 3, 2008

That Naughty Bird wouldn't even wear her costume

Here's the Halloween report.

Amelia was supposed to wear a white doggy costume (a hand-me-down from Lily) but when it came time to get ready, she wanted nothing to do with it. She refused to wear it and only wanted a painted nose like Biggie. Have I mentioned lately how stubborn she is?

Fortunately I had dressed her in Halloween colors that day so at least she looked somewhat festive. And the nose gave her just enough credibility to pass as a trick-or-treater.

Now Lily, on the other hand, has been planning her black kitty costume for a couple of months and was so excited to get all decked out. Originally we'd been looking for one of those thick fuzzy costumes because we'd been told that Halloween is always freezing in Cokeville. Kids' costumes are usually disguised under snowpants and scarves, but we got lucky this year and got away with just a couple layers under a sweatshirt. Good thing because we never did find a fuzzy costume.

Lily loved her fuzzy tail, but personally, I thought it was the cowboy boots that really made the costume.

I don't think that whole career as a makeup artist is going to work out, so I'll keep my day job. Even though Lily has had her big girl teeth for awhile, I still just look at her and can't believe how big she's getting.

"Hi Kitty, how are you?" Carlsons, insert petting kitty paw here...

That's Merle, Brian and Becca's ranch dog, in the background. I'm a big fan of all the ranch dogs around here because the girls can get their doggy fix and then we can go home to our dog-hairless house and I don't have to pick up any poop.

There was a cake walk at the Halloween Carnival at the elementary school. I used to love cake walks as a kid. I would hover over the table, planning which cake I would choose if I won, but usually ended up getting the saddest looking "a 7 year old made this" cake. My mom used to bake cakes for the school cake walks. One year she made a football cake, a green 9x13 field with a football cake set atop Don's football T (boiled first, of course.) Her cakes were always one of the first ones chosen.

When we moved here, Brian's parents Keith and Lynette basically adopted us into their family and treat us like one of their own. The girls love their Grandma Lynette (Brian's mom) and she gets such a kick out of spoiling her grandkids. She made little goody bags for each of her grandkids with candy, popcorn balls, and a jar of play-doh. Amelia thought that was the coolest!

We set out trick-or-treating but I only lasted a couple houses before I gave up and went home. I'd had a long day of walking around and Mystery Boy was protesting, so I went home and laid down while Dan took the girls trick-or-treating. He's decided that next year he's going to rig up a little wagon to the back of the four wheeler and cart the kids around town that way.

The aftermath.

Now, on to Thanksgiving...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Spare me the B.S. Drama

I didn't wait long enough to cool down after getting mad at Dan.

Whenever he does something that pisses me off, I usually try to wait a day or so to cool down. Often, I'll just vent about it to Becca or my sister, then having said it outloud, decide it's no big deal and just forget about it. But this time I just kept getting madder and no matter how I tried to be rational and exercise some self-control, I ended up saying something stupid.

The gist of my frustration was not getting enough relief from the kids and feeling like Dan spends all of his free time with Brian instead of us. It was a hard week, the longest Dan has been gone for work so far. He was in Salt Lake from Monday-Friday and the day he got back was Halloween, so there was a lot going on. Dan came home exhausted (he only slept an average of 3 hours/night while he was working) and frustrated over a way-too-long shopping trip in Evanston. I had been looking forward to having some help with the kids, going to the football game, going as a family to the town Halloween Carnival, taking the girls trick-or-treating, and hanging out at Brian and Becca's for Brian's birthday party.

I won't go into details, but things didn't work out as I had envisioned so I was peeved. But I figured I'd be over it after a good night's sleep. On Saturday morning, Dan left at 3:00am to go hunting with Brian and another guy. I try to make a point of supporting Dan in his recreational activities. I know he works hard and I want him to feel like he has sufficient free time to pursue his interests and recharge. I don't want to be the nagging wife who is always bitching about how much time my husband spends away from home. So I was feeling pretty pleased with myself for not minding him going hunting. I'd told him the night before that I needed to use his laptop all day on Saturday so I could retouch and finish a wedding album order that needed to be uploaded by Monday (my computer won't be done until mid-next week.) In my mind, I thought that he would understand that I needed some help with the kids so I could work.

That was my first mistake, not making my expectations clear. After Dan returned from hunting, I was just leaving to take a very cranky Amelia for a walk so she would tire out and take a nap. Again, I was smugly pleased with myself for not immediately demanding that Dan watch Amelia (Lily was at a friend's house.) He went over to Brian's to eat lunch and watch some college football. Amelia napped for almost 2 hours, during which time I worked on my photo order. When she woke up I called Dan to see if he would come take her. Becca had just put Kaden down for a nap, so Dan wanted me to wait. I reminded him that I needed to get my photo order done since this was my only day with the laptop and asked him to come home and play with her. His response was, "then I can't watch football."

I could share with you all the expletives and nasty remarks I wanted to use, but I'm sure you can use your imagination. Digging deep for some self-control, I said, "remember I'm trying to work. C'mon and help ease my burden." To add insult to injury, it took him about 20 minutes to show up. The thing that pissed me off the most was the fact that I was trying to work and he seemed more interested in doing what he wanted instead of helping me. I suppose I've done it for years, worked while trying to take care of the kids, but that was when Dan was off at his job and not available to help. The fact that he was next door watching TV while I was trying to balance the pressure of completing an order for an angry bride (I've had her order for 5- yes FIVE- months) while Amelia whined to be held and then wouldn't stop messing with the keyboard, was just about more than I could tolerate.

Dan took Amelia for an hour or so, then came back saying that Becca had invited us to dinner, could I make some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and he and Brian needed to help Keith (Brian's dad) round up a wayward calf. To his credit, he asked if that was OK and I told him that was fine since I needed to start on the cookies and I could let Amelia watch a movie for a bit since dinner was only 45 minutes away.

The errand, like all ranch errands, took about 4 times as long as projected. I've come to expect that. In fact, before we moved here, Dan and I talked about the fact that he would probably spend a lot of time helping other people with ranching chores and that it would always take longer than it was supposed to. One of the things I love about Dan is his willingness to serve other people, and that has been manifest over and over since moving to Cokeville, that he offers his time willingly to help others without any desire or expectation of reward. He's just glad to help and be out on his motorcycle or a horse, doing "guy" stuff. And he really loves being a part of and helping in this community. While I admire that about him and understand his fatigue when returning, I can't help but feeling a little bitter that he just spent 4 or 6 or 8 hours hanging out with his best friend and riding his motorcycle.

But I'm being childish. The rest of the story is that I just kept festering over the whole "I'd rather sit and watch football while you take care of your job and the kids" and by the time church was over this morning (Amelia was a real pill during sacrament meeting and Dan wasn't there to help) I was up to my eyeballs with rage. Again, I tried to cool it, have a nap with Amelia, and hopefully calm down enough to have a constructive conversation.

When Dan got home from working around supper time, I told him I needed to talk to him about some concerns I had. I aired my grievances, telling him that I appreciate his hard work, that I try to give him ample time to recreate, that I wasn't mad about the last night's ranch errand taking so long, rather I was mad because I didn't feel like he was helping me with the kids enough and that it really hurt my feelings about the whole football thing yesterday. I was doing fairly good, a few sniffles, but trying to stay calm when Dan got all defensive and didn't think my complaints had any merit.

That's when I blew it. I said, "If you think your only responsibility in this family is to work and I take care of everything else, why don't you and Brian just move in together and send child-support money to me and Becca if you're not going to do anything for us anyway."

Seeing that in print verifies how immature it was. Dan just shook his head and said I needed to decide what it was that I was really upset about, was it because I don't get enough alone time without the kids or that I wasn't getting enough time with him, because I was giving conflicting messages. A few more things were said and I told him that even though he had come home to have dinner and spend time with us, I needed to go cool off because I was too mad. He reminded me that he still needed to work tonight and I snidely remarked, "that didn't seem to matter to you yesterday when I was the one that had to work." He said, "the difference between your job and mine is that you've already been paid for your job, it's been sitting there for several months and there's no hard deadline, and the worst thing that could happen is the bride could get really pissed and say she's never going to work with you again. Which doesn't matter because you've stopped shooting anyway. If I don't meet my deadlines on Monday and Wednesday, I won't have a job. It's a very immediate consequence. Not to mention the fact that I won't get paid until the job is done."

I left and bawled in the car for awhile then went over to Keith and Lynette's. I figured that talking to another woman right then wasn't going to be too constructive because she'd just commiserate with me and agree that men suck sometimes. I needed to hear a man's perspective and I've always admired and respected Keith for his hard work and his commitment to the gospel. He's a father figure for me so I went to talk to him. First he just gave me a big bear hug and let me cry on his shoulder for a few minutes, then listened while I talked. He admitted that he never understood the pressure young mothers were under until he became a bishop. He said it really opened his eyes to how much women have to deal with. He said he was pretty sure that being a Mormon Mom was the hardest job on earth. All you have to do is raise perfect children, be the perfect wife, and do it all with a smile on your face. That brought a chuckle and soon we were talking about other things and I was able to relax.

When I got home I gave the girls a bath and read to them. After I put them into bed and Dan finished packing to head back to Salt Lake tomorrow, he came into the living room and said, "the next time you want to have a conversation about our relationship, save all the bulls--- drama and maybe we can have a constructive conversation." Then he went to bed.

I'll admit that I pride myself on being a pretty reasonable wife, one not given to emotional outbursts, one that tries to think about my husband's perspective and needs before mine, one that doesn't nag and complain all the time. But I've been too smug. Too sure that I wasn't like those "other women" who drag their husbands down. Turns out that sometimes I'm just as big a pain in the ass as "they" are.

This whole small town life and non-traditional work schedule is a big adjustment. Dan has been telling me from the moment we moved here that I need to get on a schedule of activities, things I can do with the kids, with other women, ways to recreate and maintain my sanity in this town of no movie theaters or scrapbook stores. When I am honest with myself, the truth is that I've have become increasingly anti-social as I've gotten older. I let myself feel like it's too complicated to find a babysitter or arrange activities with other moms that have a lot of children. I feel like it's just going to be a further burden for another already busy mom to try to spend time with me and/or my kids. And a lot of times I feel like the thing that would refresh me most is to just have some peace and quiet, time alone rather than with friends.

But what I'm doing is obviously not working, so I'm going to try some things.
  • I'm going to ask Lynette if she will give Lily and I sewing lessons. It's a skill that I really need to learn, that I want Lily to learn, and I finally have the time to pursue it. And Lily has been begging to learn sewing for a couple years now.
  • I'm going to see if Becca wants to trade babysitting at least once a week for a few hours.
  • I'm going to suck up my paranoid concerns and start calling the other moms and arranging play dates for the kids and for me.
  • I'm going to find someone who loves scrapbooking that wants to do that a couple times a month.
  • I'm going to try to go walking everyday, preferably by myself.

In all of this, I am humbled by an entry on Dan's friend Elden's (Fatty's) blog. Click here to read. His wife has been battling cancer for quite some time and her fight is coming to a close. Elden has begun hospice care and Susan is likely down to just a few more days or weeks at the most. When faced with his reality, I know that my petty concerns mean nothing and that I am so blessed to have the husband that I have. One who works hard, is loyal to me, loves his children, and lives the life of a quiet Christian.

So yes, I will try to edit out the b.s. drama and appreciate what I have.

Friday, October 31, 2008

I feel naked

Some of you have noted my absence online (lame-o at returning emails, no blog comments). I have a good excuse. My computer is in the shop and like any good addict, I feel like someone stole my dope.

It's been a real awakening to find out how much time I really spend on the internet everyday. Not just email and blogging, but checking the weather, looking up prices for stuff, finding a phone number, paying bills. I'm a total internet junky. Since we don't have a TV, it's really my only source for media induced brain-rotting. And it's not just the internet I've been missing. It seems like I do everything on the computer. All my pictures are on there, so even though I've gotten back into scrapbooking, I can't do anything. I balance my checkbook and spend a neurotic amount of time in Microsoft Money pouring over the budget and scheming on our debt snowball. I don't even own a calculator because I always just use the one on the computer. How is it that I'm posting on my blog then? I've been invading Becca's house everyday to do a quick email check and pay some bills, but since today is Friday (which is basically like a Saturday in Cokeville because there's no school) I'm splurging and catching up on everyone's blogs. And mine.

Imagine all the useful things I got done this week! I cleaned my kitchen, including mopping, and even hung a couple of pictures. I did 6 or 7 loads of laundry. I hauled in my own wood since Dan was down in Salt Lake working all week (I'm such a rural goddess!) I took the girls to the park 3 times (we've had a great week of Indian Summer.) I showered before noon most days.

The computer should be done next week and I have a lot of catching up to do. The womenfolk in my family had our annual Girls' Weekend in Park City last weekend. I didn't take a single picture! It's so nice having other photo freaks in the family so I can just mooch off of them! To see some pics of the weekend, check out my cousin Katy's blog. I made a cool little mini-scrapbook about my everyday life. I'll be sure to post some pics.

Wish me luck through the weekend!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Must Read

If you've ever had to endure (I mean, had the pleasure of attending) a Mormon Fast & Testimony meeting, you MUST read this blog post from one of Dan's biking buddies. The comments are the best part! (Dan is Botched.)

open mic day

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Future Songwriter?

With all the snow this past weekend, Lily got VERY excited about Christmas. She sat down and started writing a song and I was so impressed with her rhyming skills! She did the first verse all by herself and had just a little help from Mama on the second verse.

Christmas, Christmas-time you're here!

Time for presents, time for cheer.

Time for snow and snowmen, too.

Happy, happy Christmas from me to you.

Time for cocoa, time for treats,

Just for Santa Clause to eat.

Time for treats to give to you,

Happy, happy Christmas from me to you.