Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Yes, it's true!

I had a cute little idea to post to make the announcement, but I'm just not up to it. I 'll probably still do it, just not today.... or tomorrow.
Cravings are in full swing. Joey is on his way to Wendy's for a baked potato with sour cream and chives. It seems silly, the cravings thing. I often feel stupid trying to go through the list of food we curently have and other things available nearby and quickly giving them a no, or occasionally a yes. For me the first trimester of pregnancy brings a very very odd relationship with food. With my last two it meant mostly figuring out what would taste ok coming back up (I know that's gross!! sorry) But this time I only really feel sick in the morning when I have to think about chewing and swallowing, even applesauce. In the afternoon and evening I feel mostly normal and pretty good if I can figure out what to eat. Normal QB can eat whatever is around, even cold macaroni and cheese is ok, but not now. Whatever I decide is ok to put in my mouth has to be just right: taste, temperature and appearance. Boy I sound picky. I'm glad I can eat now though, even if means sending Joey across town for a baked potato from Wendy's. I hope he doesn't mind.
He's here! My hot potato! Yum! see ya

Friday, August 22, 2008

I just couldn't decide, so I posted the lot...

Take me home, to the place I belong....West Virginia

John Denver was born in Roswell New Mexico, so I'm not sure how West Virginia became home, but after spending three days in the rippling hills of the mountain state, I can see why he might have adopted it in song. We moved into our new apartment on Tuesday night, and spent most of Wednesday unpacking our boxes so we could pack our car for the camping trip. We wouldn't normally take a vacation the day after a move, but we'd been planning the trip for weeks and we couldn't change it when our move date got bumped up. No matter though, we packed up the Ford and rolled out of Athens about 2pm on Thursday afternoon. We drove south on State Route 33 out of Ohio and turned south onto the West Virginia Turnpike, a windy mountain highway that snakes through rural West Virginia, through Charleston, and on South into Virginia. We passed Historical markers of Civil and Revolutionary war significance and this odd looking building that I wish we would have stopped at. We passed country road taverns, leaning trailers, a half dozen FoodLand grocery stores, and the long, cascading Kanawha Falls that curve their way across the Kanawha River about thirty minutes North of Babcock State Park, our final destination.

It was misty when we arrived, and the ground was wet and spongy. Appalachian rain storms have a way of wrapping everything in a cottony wetness that permeates your shirt, the pages of the book you brought to read, the graham crackers in the cooler, and the match box strike plate. It reminded me of camping in Oregon, if Oregon were housed entirely in a seldom used sauna. Not that the humidity was uncomfortable--far from it. The rain kept the humidity manageable, but even if its not hot and humid, you can't escape the wetness.

The Lubecks arrived Thursday night about 10 pm after driving from Roanoke with their ten month old, and since we were all so tired, and since I failed to get a decent fire going because of all the moisture, we called it an early night. However, no matter how early you call it a night when your camping with kids, the night ends up calling you late. Some time during the middle of the night three large dogs wandered into camp and began to sniff around our tents and our picnic table, looking for scraps of food. Jon was sleeping outside his tent under the stars, and wasn't bothered by them at all, but when I peaked out the tent window at the three dogs, I was glad to be in my tent and not lying out in the open. The dogs disappeared, but about twenty minutes later, not very far away, the noise of a dog fight broke out, and the QB and I jerked awake. We finally fell back to sleep when the rain started, followed by the wind, and a little thunder. The whole time the boys stayed asleep, though more than once the Monkey migrated halfway across the tent, at one point ending up completely off his mat, curled in a ball on the hard ground--still asleep.

We almost didn't bring any rain gear because its August and we figured we wouldn't need any, but we were all grateful that the QB through them in at the last minute. We borrowed this great tent from the Scouts at church, and it was quite cozy.
Mr. Baseball stayed up quite late both nights we camped, but stayed in a fairly congenial mood most of the trip.
On Friday night a Thunderstorm rolled in that cancelled our plans to go to the Lake, and almost ruined our foil dinners. Jon, Mr. Baseball, and I miraculously got a fire going in the rain, made and cooked foil dinners, and managed to keep ourselves fairly dry while the QB and Alex played with the little kiddos in the tent. We ate in the tent, had B-day surprise brownies for the QB's birthday in the tent, and the rain let up just as we finished. We spent the rest of the evening building and tending a fire so we could roast marshmallows and sit around and stare into the flames.
The highlight for Friday (our Anniversary--SIX YEARS!) was a mini-date to the Lake before the rain started. The Monkey took a nap back at camp and Mr. Baseball played with the Lubecks while the QB and I took a cruise around the lake on paddle boats. We joked about making paddle boating an Olympic Sport, and I decided a canoe probably would have been a little more romantic, but at least we got to sit next to each other. After our boat ride we drove out to this look out for the photo op. We sat on a bench and talked about where we'd been for all six of our anniversaries.

Year 1-QB pregnant with Mr. Baseball, remodeling Provo House that we recently moved into.
Year 2-The Student in the middle of 16 straight months of School before taking a break to work at Wendy's while QB finish BA.
Year 3-Just moved to Japan with nothing but ourselves and 12 pieces of luggage.
Year 4-Moved home from Japan, stopped in Hawaii--QB Pregnant with Monkey.
Year 5 Moved to Ohio.
Year 6-Camping in West Virginia--QB pregnant, just moved.

We laughed that in six anniversaries the QB has been pregnant for three of them, and we've moved on or within a few weeks of four of them.

Marshmallows were a big hit with the two boys, though they both probably ate enough to make a grown person sick. Why is it that younger stomachs seem to be able to handle sugar so much better than older stomachs? When I was young I could roast a dozen marshmallows without blinking, but now more than a few and I feel like I need a stomach pump. In fact, unless its squished between chocolate and graham crackers, I don't even like roasted marshmallows that much. I can't decide if I should be sad about that or not.

Saturday morning, despite some pre-dawn rain, we enjoyed enough sunshine to hit the lake. Mr. Baseball really wanted to try out the paddle boats, which was fine, except that it really meant that he wanted to ride in the paddle boat while I peddled because his legs weren't long enough to reach the boat.

After the paddle boat, we all got into a row boat. The Monkey wasn't sure about the boat at first, but as soon as we got out there he was wanting to be set down so he could help row.

Despite his curiosity the Monkey only lasted about twenty minutes in the boat, so we dropped him and the QB off and Mr. Baseball and I headed for the far end of the lake.

This is what tired boys look like. They were troopers. They hiked with us around the lake, went boating, played a lot of soccer, dug in the dirt, and ate until the were going to burst. Then they slept. The trip was a success, and when we got home on Saturday afternoon we all went to bed early.

Monday, August 18, 2008

You Know You've Been Watching Too Much Olympics When...

Your son mentions it during the prayer over breakfast:

"Thank you for the food.
Thank you for all our blessings.
Please bless Michael Phelps to win 98 gold medals."

Oh Mr. Baseball! You crack us up! I've been chuckling all day.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A few shots from the Chocolate party

Truffles, cheesecake bites, and fresh raspberries....

We've made a few variations of this cake in the past, but I think this one came out better than anything we've done before.

The cake itself is a can of cherry-pie filling, two eggs, a devil's food cake mix, and some almond extract. By hand mixing the cake batter, the cherries remain intact, as seen in the cross section photo below. The layer-filling is chocolate mousse made from whipped cream and hot ganache, and icing is straight ganache. We topped it with chocolate shavings and a few fresh raspberries.
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Ask and ye shall receive

So a few weeks ago we found a nearly brand new washer and dryer for sale on Craig's List for $200. The deal seemed sweet, but the owner lived more than an hour a way, and though I called the owners and made an appointment to drive out to see them, and even made arrangements to borrow a truck to make the trip, I decided last minute not to go because something just didn't feel right about going all the way out there (I'm learning to pay better attention to that little voice inside when it speaks). Instead the QB and I decided we would just wait a few weeks until we got closer to our actual move date and see if any opportunities would present themselves.

We've kept our eye on Craig's List for weeks, gone to a few garage sales and even gone to Lowe's and Sears, but weren't satisfied. Then last week some friends said they had a decent set that they would sell to us on the cheap. But a few days later they told us the dryer had gone out, which meant we 'd keep looking. Then today, the missionaries called to tell us they were helping someone move who had a washer and dryer they were getting rid of for free. I borrowed a truck and picked them up this afternoon. Whoo hoo! Once again, God came through for us. It's been one of those summers, and we are thankful. In the past year I figure we've spent nearly $500 on laundry. I'm looking forward to this next year and the trips to the laundry mat I won't have to make.

Fringe benefits of throwing chocolate parties

I've said it before, I think, but there's really only one thing to do with the left over cream when you use a pack of oreos to make a pie crust.

I can't decide which is more difficult--dunking the cookie, or fitting it in my mouth.
and in case you're wondering...no, I didn't really eat all of that cream, just some of it.
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Thursday, August 7, 2008


This morning, while the QB and Mr. Baseball were discussing proper behavior at his upcoming swimming lessons:

"Remember what I told you? Its not very polite to swing your underwear over your head."

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Another funny note on discipline

Often when Mr. Baseball throws a tantrum we remove him to the bathroom where he can either sit with us or by himself (his choice) and calm down before he returns to be part of the family. This means that occasionally Mr. Baseball ends up behind the closed bathroom door alone, screaming his lungs out. So today, when the Monkey broke down into tears when I told him that we weren't going to watch a "Bob the Builder" DVD, he sent himself into the bathroom. I'd been holding him, trying to softly explain that we weren't going to turn on the television and trying to get him interested in something else when he wiggled out of my arms and, stills screaming, walked into the bathroom, shut the door behind him, and proceeded to imitate Mr. Baseball's tantrum screaming. I'm not sure what was going through his mind, but the fact that he's imitating his older brother was a fairly reliable sign that things have been rough around here lately.

Odds and Ends

Mr. Baseball needs structure like tomatoes need cages. Without it, he's all over the place, out of control, and, well, wild. Since the summer humidity and heat set in, we've been sleeping on our futon beneath the air conditioner in the living room window. Every morning Mr. Baseball wakes up about 6:30 am and either climbs into bed with us or (more often) sits on the couch beside us and grumbles under his breath about being hungry. Of course we haven't had the gumption to set out food the night before, so every morning I tell him through my pillow that he may get a snack out of the fridge or the cupboard, that its too early to be awake, and that we will get up when we are done sleeping. In varying degrees of frustration he tells us all the reasons why he cannot get a snack for himself and continues to grumble under his breath, looking very upset at us for being such inept parents. Finally one of us gets out of bed, pulls a box of crackers, or cereal, or a banana out for him and sit him at the table with it.

Going back to bed at this point is difficult since the table is right next to our futon and once Mr. Baseball has finished his snack he wants to watch a show on television, or wants us to play a game with him, or read him a book. Some mornings we tell him he may look at a book on his own and we try to go back to sleep, but by then the Monkey has usually woken up and staying asleep becomes impossible.

Not only does this situation not work at all, but it makes us all rather grumpy. It's really not Mr. Baseball's fault that he wakes up early. But at the same time, its difficult to be patient with a four-year-old sense of entitlement that wants everything right now. This pattern repeats itself throughout the day, with intermittent moments of contentedness when he is helpful, kind, and willing to work with the rest of us to get through the day. I don't feel like we spoil him, or like we let him get his way whenever he wants, and I genuinely believe he is good natured, happy, and willing to help, but sometimes (almost always) he acts like he deserves to do whatever he wants whenever he wants no matter where we are or what we are doing. It's like he's a four-year-old teenager.

It is almost as if he understands that our authority as parents, our control over his life is arbitrary, dictated by age, size, and financial power, that we really are not different than he is, except that we hold most of the cards. So he challenges that authority at every turn. Why shouldn't he be able to leave his clothes all over the floor, why should he have to pick up after dinner, why should he have to sit still in sacrament meeting, eat his dinner, go to bed, stay in bed, pick up his toys, stop throwing the ball in the house, and not jump on guests when they come to visit?

95 percent of the time when he does flip out, the QB and I are very good at calmly explaining that such behavior is not an acceptable way of communicating and we invite him to express himself differently, but when it happens every day, all day, in just about every interaction where he's asked to do something he doesn't want to do, it becomes difficult to stomach.

Last night the QB and I were discussing the state of things in our home, the relative whininess, the tantrum-to-contentment ratio, and something I like to call the "Flip-out" coefficient (a standard unit of measure, in hours of sleep, that effects the extent and frequency of hissy-fits) and we've decided that we could all do a little better. Our self-inflicted busy summer full of swimming lessons, t-ball, road trips, community gardening, and hours and hours of independent studying, coupled with the fact that we're living in 550 square linoleum feet of glorified dorm space that we're getting ready to move out of, has left us all a little haggard. And Mr. Baseball, who thrives on schedules, charts, plans, and patterns has for most of the summer been dragged around on a short leash from one activity to the next, with little or no regular schedule to tether himself to. Just watching him today on the couch during "quiet time" was enough to notice something's up. During a good portion of the Monkey's nap time, Mr. Baseball has "quiet time" where he either looks at books, colors quietly, or listens to a book on tape. It's an activity we instituted when he began refusing to take a real nap, nearly six months ago. Today during quiet time while the QB and I were trying to plan out the week, Mr. Baseball was "sitting" on our futon listening to a story on CD. He wiggled from sitting cross-legged to kneeling, to squatting on his haunches, to standing on his head, to laying on his side with his legs in the air, to bouncing on his knees to chewing on his finger-nails and then finally, his toe-nails. (at which point we finally asked him to sit still).

The plan this week is to stick to as much a schedule as possible, keep him busy, keep him thinking and focusing on progressing through the day. That means pre-school lessons at home and naps and outside play time and good one-on-one time with both of us. It also means that some days I feel at a complete loss as to how to help him, as if everything I do is wrong, that whether I try patient, inquisitive, active listening or whether I threaten to flush him down the toilet, he's going to do what he wants to do on his own time and that is that.

My one consolation this week was teaching his primary class, which is full of four other kids his age, three of which are as high strung and independent as he is. Watching one spit foam as he blasted imaginary bad guys with his two pointer-finger pistols, and another vying loudly for position as a line leader made me feel better about the tantrum Mr. baseball threw over not getting to act out the part of the Good Samaritan during a class role-play activity. Perhaps he 's more normal than I fear. Perhaps other parents have to deal with the same issues that we're dealing with. Perhaps he will turn into the "normal," loving, respectful, and acculturated young man that we want him to.

Fitting that today's lesson was about the the greatest commandment: to love one another. Kindness, it seems, no matter how much patience it takes, is the only way to get through to Mr. Baseball. And what a lesson the Savior taught in his parable of the Good Samaritan--Not only did the Samaritan, who should have scoffed at the self-righteous man from Judea who got what was coming to him, help the stranger up, but he cleaned and dressed his wounds and took him to an inn to get real help.

The real redeeming moment today came when those five children, including Mr. Baseball, sat transfixed as I paraphrased this, the greatest lesson on love from the Master and author of love itself. Despite their wiggling, and hollering, and speaking out, and joking during the rest of thelesson, as I told the story they all sat quietly, thinking on the thieves, the unhelpful Levite and Priest, and the genuinely good Samaritan who was willing to help an "enemy" no matter what the cost.

Who, indeed, is your neighbor Mr. Pharisee, if not the neighbors who live under your own roof, who share your life and depends upon you for everything they have? Perhaps the greatest lesson Mr. Baseball is teaching me is that though he is my son, we are really only brothers in the greater family of God, and that because he is on loan from OUR Father, my greatest responsibility is not to coerce him into doing what I say, but to show him by example what it means to be a disciple, a neighbor, and a friend.