Monday, December 31, 2012

Best books I read this year

This year I read 75 books, which is quite dismal compared to my 95 book average. I think I was just quite a bit busier this year with 3 children and I also stopped working at Deseret Book which meant I wasn't reading their books as fast or as often. Looking back on the list I read this year I wasn't blown away by too many of the books. I think this years reading was lackluster and not all that great. I did re-read a couple of titles (Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Giver, Twenties Girl) because of book club and I was reminded how much I love those books! Without further ado, I feel that these books were the standouts for this 2012 reading year. 
This Steven King novel was quite good. It's extremely long (849 pages to be exact), but it reads super quick and is very entertaining. It's all about a history teacher finding a way to travel back in time to stop the JFK assassination. Along the way he creates a life for himself, a life in which  you root for. This book also has a lot of information about the time period and all the key players in the JFK story. I loved this story so much that I watched the newest Kennedy's miniseries and loved that as well. I will warn that this book is chock full of swear words. I mean, swear words on every single page, which got quite tedious after a while. If you're a fan of historical fiction and can handle the obscene amount of swear words, this book is for you. 
I LOVE Sophie Kinsella. In fact I picked one of her books for book club this last year (Twenties Girl). This was her newest one and it is probably her best yet. It's about a girl named Poppy who happens to find a cell phone and starts using it for a random reason. Turns out the phone belongs to a pretty good looking business man. The story follows their encounters and texts with each other. The story is cute, clever and leaves you satisfied. With all Kinsella books, there are swear words so proceed with caution. 
I can't say enough good things about this book. I LOVED it and think that everybody should read it! We read this one for book club and I was so excited because I had wanted to read it. It's all about this woman who wants to recognize more happiness in her life. Each month she focuses on an aspect that she feels will bring her more happiness (organization, health, finances, personal relationships, etc). There were so many things in this book that I highlighted. Some of the chapters spoke right to me while others weren't for me at all. But, this was HER happiness project, she was just giving us a peek into it. Seriously, read this book, it's amazing! 
This is another chick lit book and I loved it. Joe actually got sick of me talking about it so much. Even though it's a bit fluffy it had so much that got me thinking. Alice wakes up in the hospital missing the last 10  years from her memory. She wakes up thinking she is happily married and pregnant for the first time and in actuality she is divorced with 3 kids and hates her husband. It's her journey to see how her life changed so much and how she could get it back. The main thing I pulled from this book is how I treat my husband. Alice pretty much felt that she had to do everything herself and would never let her husband help out which made him feel unloved and unappreciated. Things deteriorated pretty quickly from there. It was a very powerful story to read and had me weeping at points. 
I really enjoyed this YA book. It's about a mother and daughter trying to live life after the husband/father dies. The mom decides to adopt a baby from a pregnant teenager. The pregnant teenager comes to live with them until the baby is born. It was interesting watching the relationships develop. Sometimes in YA novels the sentiment feels forced and shoved down the readers throat. But this one comes together quite well and I felt was very real. A great read! 

So did you read anything in 2012 that you thought was spectacular? 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tried and true

I love Christmas. I love the foods, traditions, magic seen through my children. It's just an amazing time. But it can also be stressful, especially with how much cooking and  baking needs to happen. I find this is not the best time to try new recipes. I wanted to share a quick list of tried and true recipes that I turn to at this time of the year. I will usually try a few new recipes but not on an important night, that just spells out disaster.

For dinner:
-We usually have prime rib either on Christmas or New Years. It's super easy and crazy delicious. I used Pioneer Woman's prime rib recipe last year and it was great! You can find the recipe here
- I love ham so ham is usually part of our Christmas dinner at some point. I really like the one from Mel's Kitchen Cafe in which you cook the ham in a slow cooker. So delicious! You can find the recipe here

-There is a recipe for caramel pull a parts that I use religiously and I usually make it for Christmas morning, however the recipe can only be found in the first Our Best Bites cookbook, not on their website. Suffice it to say, it's amazing and my kids gobble it up.
- I really like this baked french toast by Pioneer Woman and my kids loved it just as much. You can find the recipe here

There is usually numerous parties in which you need to bring a dish and dessert seems to be the most popular category. Here are some of my favorites:
-These candy cane cookies are amazingly delicious. My kids request these ones to be made for Santa every year. You can find the recipe here
-I tried this peppermint ice cream last year and I was so happy with the outcome. I made mine with the Andes mints and it was so good! You can find the recipe here
- Now this caramel corn isn't just for Christmas time and we tend to make this all year round but it is so good while you sit and watch Christmas movies with your family. I speak from experience. You can find the recipe here. The perk with this caramel corn recipe is that it can be made in the microwave in under 10 minutes!
-I tried these the other night for a girls night and to say they were a hit is an understatement. I had husbands requesting them! These brownie batter truffles are so easy, no bake and come together amazingly. You can find the recipe here

So do you have recipes that you get excited to pull out each year?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Another one under my belt...

On Thanksgiving morning I ran with some friends in the Hobbler Gobbler 5k. Last year, while I was getting the turkey ready I watched everybody run this race (it's directly behind our house) and I thought to myself how much I wish I could do something like that. This whole year has been about me doing something that I never thought I could do (running). As my 2nd 5k of the  year I really wanted to be able to beat my last time. 
The Hobbler Gobbler route is very difficult with 5 steep hills throughout the course. I did better than I thought I would beating my practice time by 2 minutes and coming in a little faster than my first 5k. Considering that my first 5k was flat, I find this to be very exciting! The run was so much fun and I can't wait to do it next year, although next year I plan on running the 10k! 
 Before the race began.
 Blake ran the kids k after we were all done. It was so fun!
 Here I am finishing, feeling great. It helped that the last part was downhill.
I ran it in 36:20, which is by no means super fast, but it is good for me. I was just happy I didn't come in dead last and that I finished.
I also found out that I got 22nd in my age group, which I thought was good since my age group is quite young. The first runner to finish did it in 16 minutes! Now the training starts for a 10k in April!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Running through my head

Our book club selection last month was The Happiness Project. I had heard great things about this book, so when it was picked I was super excited. Not that I feel I am unhappy, but like the author talks about, sometimes life is just passing me by and I'm just watching it.
There were so many things I completely loved about this book but there were also things that had nothing to do with my life.
One thing that has been sticking out to me since I read it, that I think of nearly every day is this: The days are long but the years are short. I felt this particularly true in my life right now. My children are still young, there are still days I wonder if I'll make it through all the whining, crying, fighting and constant need of my attention. But then lately this statement has run through my head and it's helping me to live in the moment.
I look at Blake and wonder how I have a 1st grader, when did that happen? And as soon as you have a kid that starts school, time moves even faster. Before I know it, he'll be grown and living his own life.
But there are days with Lexie that feel are never going to end. Mostly because she needs a TON of one on one attention and hates for me to be doing anything but giving her my undivided attention.
But I need to remember that there will be a day that I no longer change a diaper, fix a sippy cup, buckle a child into a high chair, lay a baby down in a crib. I will look back on that with such nostalgia and wonder where the time went.
So although the days are long (and sometimes seemingly endless) the years are short and I am trying to remember to live in the moment and enjoy each stage as it comes.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Yee Haw

If you ask Kalli what she wants to be when she grows up, she'll tell you a cowgirl. So I found it fitting to go for her birthday dinner to Texas Roadhouse where I knew they'd sit her on a saddle and sing to her.
I'm pretty sure this is the highlight of her birthday. Can't you tell how much fun she had?
Happy birthday to our sweet four year old!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

An observation on hair- by Kalli

I was sitting next to Kalli at church last week and she was quietly playing on the magna doodle. 
She turns to me and says:

This is Repunzal's hair :
 This is Kalli's hair
 This is Lexie's hair
 This is daddy's hair. 

I couldn't stop laughing. I thought that was very perceptive of Kalli.

Happy birthday Joe. Even though you are low on hair you are not low on love in this house. We love you, hair or no!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Kalli the ballet (and tap) dancer

 Kalli started her ballet/tap class last week. I feel she has entered the age where she needs something that is hers and she's not really a sports girl. The class is small, with only 4 other girls, and they all have to wear a pink leotard and pink tights. They look incredibly adorable in their little dancing outfits. Kalli loved every minute of it. It's nice for her to have her own activity and have a place she can call her own.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Checked off goal...

This weekend I checked running a 5k off my to do list. In March I decided that I wanted to run a 5k. I started training and waited to find the perfect 5k to start with. Well, the Color Run was the perfect 5k. It's a fun, non timed run in which at every k (1/2 mile or so) you would be covered in colored powder. I actually got about 25 women from our ward to run with me. A couple of them were like me and weren't runners. It was so fun to go with all these amazing women. Some of them compete in half marathons and many were first time runners. Couldn't have asked for a better group of women. 
 Our team name was Dye Running. Here we are before the fun began. You have to wear white so that the color is super noticeable.
 This is Crystal and Teresa. We trained the most together. Crystal is an avid runner but really helped me with my running. Teresa started running because I started. We would meet at the high school track 3 times a week and work on our distance. It's crazy to think that when we started it was hard to get through a mile but now we're timing ourselves on how fast we can do 3 miles. And even this last week we added a lap or two to our three mile run. We're already planning our next race.
 Here we are about to cross the finish line. My only goal was to run the WHOLE thing and I accomplished that goal. I couldn't be more proud of this accomplishment.
 At the end we each have a pouch of color and we count down to throw it up in the air. Those of us that really trained hard decided we worked so hard for this, we wanted to celebrate as much as possible. So we're in the thick of that color there. It was good in theory but once it started coming down it got all in  your mouth and eyes and you couldn't really breathe. Oh well, it was still a blast.
Some of the gang. Oh how much fun we had. We really hope they come back next year and can do it again. If not... road trip!

Monday, August 13, 2012

A special bond

 These two little ones share a very special bond. In the morning, Lexie gets up, sits next to Blake on the couch watching cartoons while sipping her milk. She expects this in the mornings and it has to be Blake. When these two are together, I can just feel how much they love each other. It's a special feeling for sure.
On a particularly rainy day, Blake helped Lexie see out the window as she kept pointing to the window saying "rain".
On another day Blake was caught reading Lexie a story and she was caught loving it.
Lexie is going to be very sad and disoriented next week when Blake goes back to school. She's sure going to miss her buddy!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A weekend away...

This last weekend Joe and I were able to fly up to Denver for the weekend to celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary. Although it wasn't on our actual anniversary. It was so fun to get away for a few days, enjoy being childless and wandering around doing whatever sounded fun. A great big shout out of thanks to Joe's parents for watching the kids while we were gone. It made it even better to be away when we knew that they were there taking great care of our children (even spoiling them a great deal!). 
 This is our view from our room. I thought it was so pretty. Our hotel was right downtown on a great street full of shopping and restaurants. It was pretty perfect.
 There was a Pinkberry right down from our hotel and I wanted to try it out. Our local frozen yogurt place is much better we thought, but it was still fun to try out.
 We went to a Rockies game the 2nd night we were there. Besides it being extremely hot, it was a great night! The seats were really good and really close, we got free t-shirts and we ate ballgame food, can it get any better?
This is our view of the game.

I learned a few things on this trip. I do not like public busses, we took a bus from the airport to the hotel and it was not my favorite. I tried out fried pickles for the first time (something I've been wanting to do for a very long time) and they were AWFUL! And I learned that even after 8 years and 3 kids, Joe is still the person I'd rather spend all my time with!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Splash Park

We've been living in Albuquerque for 3 1/2 years and it still amazes me when I find new things to do with the kids. A friend of mine told me about this fun splash park and so we checked it out. Although splash parks in other places (i.e Vegas, Denver, Salt Lake) are free, ours are not. But it was only $1 for each of us, so an activity that only cost $4 was very worth it! The kids had a blast and couldn't stop running around. The cool thing to do apparently is bring a plastic cup, fill it up and throw it at people. The kids thought that was so great. Even Lexie got in on the action! We'll definitely be going here more, I just wish we had found it sooner in the summer! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Our boy turns 6

Since Blake's birthday landed on a Sunday, we celebrated all weekend long. On Saturday we let him choose what we did. We started the day off with Lowe's Build and Grow, later went to Blake's favorite pool, ate dinner at Red Robin and went and got shakes from Chick fil a. It was a great day! Sunday he woke up and opened presents and then we had Joe's brother's family over for dinner and cake. It was a great weekend celebrating Blake! 
 The majority of his presents were legos. This didn't just make Blake happy, but Joe as well!
 He was so excited about his chocolate cake.

Lexie loved it too!

Joe and I were reminiscing about Blake and his birth. It's hard to believe that there was once a time when he wasn't party of mine (or our) lives. And as hard as Blake was as a toddler, he's grown into a very nice, loving boy. We sure do love our little boy and can't wait to see what amazing things he does in his life.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Monsoon Season

For a couple weeks in the summer, we are lucky enough to get drenched by the monsoon storms. Each year is different and we really never know what to expect. This year has been no exception. Nearly every night we've had a downpour. Now in years past this downpour would only last for a few minutes but maybe up to 30 minutes. Not so this year, our storms are lasting at least an hour up to all night. These storms aren't just sprinkles but torrential down pouring of rain. The funny thing about them is that during the whole day you'd never know one was coming, blue sunny skies are out, but about half an hour before it starts the clouds come on fast and the thunder and lightening follows. Our plants and grass are going crazy with all the extra water and humidity.
The only complaint that Joe and I are having about these storms is that it has messed up our nightly run pretty much every single night. We get our hopes up to go out and the storm comes through and dashes it. On Monday, we decided to run between storms and got drenched from all the humidity! We're not complaining, our land needs this water very badly.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Celebrating the 4th

We usually celebrate the 4th with a big barbecue at our house since our house backs right up to where they set the fireworks off. This year, I decided to go low key and just do it as a family. It started raining pretty hard once it got dark so we weren't sure if the fireworks would be able to go off. Joe and Blake had fun with the sparklers while I played around with the setting of my camera. 
 Joe had a great time with this feature on the camera. We got a ton of these cool pictures!
 The kids and I watching our own little fireworks before the big show.
 We love that we have the best view in town to watch the fireworks from the comfort of our backyard, it's awesome!
 This is how Joe and the kids watched the firework show. It was raining pretty good when they started but luckily it stopped raining midway through.
Love the fireworks!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Our nightly ritual

So I started running in March, which is big for me, I'm not a natural runner. I started out slow and have upped how long I can run for. It's amazing how much I can do now just a couple of months later. I started running to train for a 5k I had signed up for. I found that I preferred working out at the gym in the early morning but I knew my race was outside and I needed to start training out there as well. The day I decided to go out and run was awful. I couldn't go more than 5 minutes and I was totally winded. I found that day that it is drastically different to run outside compared to inside, at least for me anyway. So I decided to not only train inside on the treadmill but also by running outside. I went to Joe for help and asked if he'd be my running partner outside. So 5 days a week I'm at the gym at 5:45 and 3-5 days a week I'm outside with the kids. Often my training has me running both in the morning and evening.
Our kids have come to love these runs. During the week we run in our neighborhood, with the girls in the jogging stroller (and Joe pushing them) and Blake on his bike. The weekends we are trying to get to the high school's track and the older kids get to ride their bikes. Everyday Blake asks if it's running day to which I've started to add a few more days.
If you would have asked me five months ago if I would enjoy running I would have laughed in your face. But I have found that I look forward to my runs everyday, I get excited if I have more than one run planned that day. I love feeling how my body works and how strong it's become. This isn't to say I'm that great. Right now I'm doing 20 minutes of running on the treadmill and intervals outside. But I'm getting there and I'm further than I was last week.
This picture is of the girls the other night on our run. They were both exhausted and fell asleep within minutes of our run. Gotta love them!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Last Day of School

 Today was Blake's last day of school. Actually it was supposed to be yesterday but they had one more snow make up day. So he only had to be there for 3 hours. This first year has flown by so fast and I'm so amazed by how much Blake has grown intellectually as well as physically. We couldn't have asked for a better kindergarten experience. He had an amazing teacher and aid, I had the opportunity to be in his class every other week. Blake also had an amazing bus driver that we the parents adored (seriously, she was only absent twice the entire year!). I am so proud of all Blake has accomplished this year. I'm also very proud to say that Blake did not miss one day of school this year, 100% attendance. That is not a small feat and I am incredibly proud of that record!
To commemorate Blake's last day in kindergarten I took an idea I saw on pinterest and documented this very special time in Blake's life.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A lovely celebration of ME!

On Friday, Blake's kindergarten class had a special afternoon just for the moms. I was lucky enough to go and be part of it and it was truly a great experience. Sometimes as a mom I get bogged down with wondering if I'm doing enough, if my kids are going to be good, kind people and if there is more I can do (there always is which is very stressful for me). Blake and I aren't super close, that position belongs to Joe. Blake and Joe are pretty inseparable and I love it, but I do wish Blake and I had a relationship like that. The afternoon in his class was all the uplifting I needed to keep going on this motherhood journey and know that I am trying, and while I am far from perfect, I'm perfect for my kids. 
 When we walked in there were little colored portraits each of the kids drew of their moms and we had to guess which one was mine. Some of the kids called out their parents like saying how much they play on their iPhones and how often they nap. I was certain Blake was going to call me out on something, because let's face it, I have a lot he could work with. I was pleasantly surprised when he showed me the picture of me and his 3 favorite things about me. In case you can't read kindergarten writing it says 1. She like to read 2. She gives the best kisses and 3. My mom makes the best Alfredo sauce. I felt that was very heartfelt, especially for Blake.
Later they gave us this little card with a magnet strawberry and on it he wrote "Why I love you: you make me laugh". There was nothing better I could have heard. I loved it with everything I have! I was also glad I wasn't the mom next to me whose son put that he loves her because she helps him find his socks.

So on Mother's Day, I tried not to think about all that I am failing at or those things that I want to change. But instead I thought of this sweet little boys answer to why he loves his mom and it made all the difference.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bringing back memories...

A little over a year ago I was assigned to visit teach (a part of our church where we look after certain women and help them with any needs they may have) Melanie. At the time we were both pregnant with our 3rd child. We bonded and got along great. Shortly after her daughter was born it became clear that some things weren't right. Her daughter had some surgeries and went through an extraordinary amount of pain and hospital visits. I remember sitting with Melanie while she went home without her daughter and had to continuously make it to the hospital to see her. At the time Melanie told me how thankful she was that I was her visiting teacher because I had been through something similar with Kalli; I understood what it meant to have my baby in the hospital, to undergo surgery and deal with the aftermath. She had told me that if it were anybody else, they would be loving of course but they wouldn't understand. I truly believe that, I knew what she was going through, if only in a small way.
Her daughter was finally released after quite a while and all seemed to be going well. Then she was told that her daughter was deaf, but Melanie being as extraordinary as she is, took it in stride and worked her hardest to learn sign language and help her daughter in all her capacity. Then things got really good for awhile.
Last Saturday I got the message that Melanie had taken her daughter in to the hospital and it resulted in a 5 hour emergency surgery that saved her life. I promptly set up to come to the hospital and visit her, bring her treats, movies, books. Being in that hospital room with sweet Melanie and her amazingly resilient daughter brought back a flood of memories from when Kalli was in the hospital. There is nothing like seeing your sweet baby hooked up to so many wires and machines. There is no more helpless feeling than seeing that baby and knowing you can't do anything to make them better. As I sat talking with Melanie I told her how happy I am that she has such love and support with her. People in our church are begging (begging!) to help out Melanie's family in any way they can. When this happened to Kalli we barely had a support system. Nobody but Joe, his mom and my mom were there to help on the home front and at the hospital. I remember feeling so lonely and completely disconnected.
This week has been quite emotional as all I can think about is Melanie and her family. Each day I find some way to help them out, whether it's visiting the hospital, making dinner, calling someone to bring the family snacks at the hospital. I completely have a testimony that we're assigned certain people to visit teach, that it comes from the Lord. Sometimes we don't know why but others, like Melanie, I know why I'm doing it. And to be honest, it's not all for Melanie. I've learned so much from visiting with Melanie each month.