Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Count Your Blessings

It has seriously been a rough week.

On Wednesday, Bubs got sick. Really sick. Like, eat and drink nothing, just snuggle in mom's arms and go in and out of sleep all day with a fever, sick. It was a little unsettling since he's never really been sick-sick. He started improving a little on Thursday and came down with a nasty cough Thursday night/Friday morning.

Friday night his cough was so bad it kept waking him up and he had a hard time falling back asleep without help, so, I ended up sleeping on couch cushions next to his bed all night. Of course by "sleep", I mean: laid there and just when I was about to fall asleep he'd cough again. I think he woke up about every 30-60 minutes coughing, which meant neither of us slept much. Rough, rough, night.
Saturday morning I was a total grump, obviously, and didn't feel great myself. Bubs was still coughing and making me nervous, so instead of going to the Hare in the Air event at Logan, Scott whisked him away to our ENT friend to check him out. I was completely bummed, since this was our last opportunity for the Easter bunny, but honestly I felt like crap too so I thought it was best. Later that day I had a baby shower for a close friend of mine that I was half in charge of planning and putting together. So, I took a quick power snooze and geared up for the party. It was so fun and so great to see my friends, but I was pretty miserable. I came home and crashed on the couch. I don't think I moved for the rest of the night except to eat a little hot cereal and take a hot bath.
Saturday night, Scott took his turn in Bub's room on the floor. This time, he didn't get much sleep. I was able to stay in bed for 12 hours, not necessarily sleeping the whole time but at least resting, which was so helpful and glorious. Sunday we were greeted with about 10-12 inches of snow and canceled church. I still felt pretty dang crummy, so I didn't do much of anything all day. Sunday night we decided to have Scott sleep on the couch and Bubs sleep in bed with me so that we could all be comfortable and get some rest. I must say, I definitely prefer my husband in my bed than my toddler! His 2 1/2 feet little body sure knows how to take up an entire Queen sized bed!!
Monday dawned dark and cloudy and schools across the city canceled. Hallelujah! I had Scott home to help for an extra day, which was much needed. Bubs was feeling better, but still not 100%. After nap time, we all bundled up to go outside for a few minutes. I held the dog's leash and watched while Bubs and Scott built an awesome snowman. After a few minutes, I was done and the dog was cold, so we went inside. When the boys finished the snowman, I trudged out to snap a couple pictures of them. As luck would have it, the snow was super wet and packable, which also meant every step was slippery. Just as I was stepping off the snow onto the concrete path, my weight shifted and my foot slid forward into the concrete, completely jamming my big toe with all my weight. Ouch.
I got some pictures and hobbled inside, writhing in pain and biting back tears. My immediate thought was "I just broke my toe." But, after my awesome doctor hubby checked it out, he decided it's probably not broken but that I sprained it pretty good when I jammed it so hard. Just what a pregnant, sick, mom, needed!

So here were are at Tuesday. We all slept in our correct beds last night and got quite a good night's rest. Bub's cough is much better though still present. I'm feeling better, enough to move around and take care of necessary things, but I'm still really congested and now coughing too. So where is the silver lining?


Wednesday- a friend, and neighbor, was able to run to the store for me to get OJ, popsicles, a thermometer and other sick things for Bubs since I couldn't take him and Scott wasn't due home for several hours. Another friend babysat while Scott and I went to a meeting. Then I was able to go have some girl time at craft night.
Thursday- I was able to get out and get some much needed groceries because Bubs was feeling slightly better, he also went to sleep easily and early for me.
Friday- I was able to finish up some groceries and finish some prep for the baby shower on Saturday. Scott came home and whisked Bubs away so I could have a break before going to dinner with Scott's sister's family from Arkansas. It was SO great to see them and be with family. Even though Bubs had a coughing fit and the table next to us was staring uncomfortably.
Saturday- our friend was able to give me peace of mind with Bubs by checking him out, I was able to have a power nap before the baby shower, Scott was home to help me out, I was able to rest for a long, long time while he took care of everything else.
Sunday- the big snowstorm canceled church so I could have my hubby home all day, the RS president called and offered to set up meals for us for the next few nights, ward members brought us dinner.
Monday- school was canceled (hallelujah!) which meant another day with the hubby and no nannying, we were brought dinner again, the boys built a snowman and had some fun out of the house for once.

I'm still looking for the silver lining with injuring myself, but maybe it's just a way of someone saying: "hey, you need to slow down a little bit!" I had definitely heaped too many things on my plate over the weekend and had to cancel several commitments, which always makes me feel terrible, but, sometimes it's necessary.

Thankfully, Scott has not gotten sick yet and has been a tremendous help playing Mister Mom around here! I  think he's been a little surprised at how fast the stinkin' dishes pile up in the sink, though. I'm really grateful for all the help we've received. It has definitely made things more bearable. I'm hoping I'll start feeling much better in the next couple days and that this silly toe injury will heal fast!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


My fabulous sister in law hung a poster on one of their doors awhile back with the title: Dodds-isms. Then whenever her kids, or hubby, says something funny and/or quotable, she writes it on the poster. They have some pretty hilarious quotes!!

I thought it was a fun idea and a perfect way to quickly jot down funny things kids say. So I started a Blake-isms poster a few months ago. It's been lacking in quotes for some time, seeing as how his language is developing, but the past couple weeks he's said some pretty funny things.

Keep in mind these are coming from a 2 year old, who speaks very clearly, but with added typical 2 year old cuteness.

"I wanna drink the yuckies!" (in reference to mom's dr. pepper which is "yucky")

"No! No. You go to time out!" (when mom tried to help him not spill a drink)

"You. You listen. You go to time out now." (when mom tried to help with a drink again)

"See baby ____? See baby ____ now?!" (when mom and dad were talking about middle names for the baby, Bubs looked over with a big grin at mom's  tummy and said the baby's name)

Should we put some clothes on? "No, I have clothes on." Should we put real clothes on? "No, I have real clothes on."

Yelling: "Daddy come! Daddy come! Daddy come!! ...thank you."

"Kaiya eat Blake!"

"Uh-huh. Yes."

"Oh maaaaan. Shoot."

"You go to time out. 2, 4, 10 minutes."

"Banana! Banana in the sky!" (when getting out of the car at night and seeing the moon)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wednesday Confessions: When my Husband is Right

My husband will be the first to say that most of the time, I, his wife, am right.
But every so often, something arises and my pride soars while he gently tries to convince me that I'm wrong. He never does this in a condescending way. He never makes me feel like my opinion is not valued. He is always patient, gentle and kind when trying to nudge me toward realizing I'm actually wrong.

You see, not only did I marry an incredibly attractive man, I married a man whose personality is quintessentially in harmony with what my personality lacks. In areas that I struggle and fall short, he makes up the difference and brings me to a higher place. It's also vice versa. In areas that he may fall short, I make up the difference and raise him. Our marriage is not perfect, but it's pretty dang spectacular.

The most recent thing my husband has been right about was a statement he made to me one night: "Honey, I think you just read too much into things..."

Deep down I knew he was right, but I didn't want him to be. Then I experienced a situation that made me realize he was very much, in fact, right.

Rewind to the past: In my early teenage years, I had a few friends here and there that I thought were legitimately really close friends.  BFF's in fact. I thought they were genuine friends I could confide in and spend time with. However, it turns out they ended up back stabbing me, talking bad behind my back, spreading rumors, and eventually abandoning me. Because of this, I built a wall and guarded myself from becoming really close with others in the future.

I haven't recognized it until now, but those experiences as a young teenager have really affected my friendships later on in life.  I developed a subconscious block that caused me to have a difficult time opening up to others and thinking people really wanted to be my friend. I just assumed that if I said or did the wrong thing, they'd be out to get me, stab me in the back, or abandon me. I kept many acquaintances but nobody that I could call when something went really right or wrong.

Fast forward to moving to St. Louis. This is the most permanent place we've lived as a couple in the almost 5 years of marriage we've had. I've met so many incredible people here and built some really neat relationships. I've also experienced some hard times and thinking that people I thought were really good friends weren't. Come to find out later I was overreacting.

So my point is, my husband was right when he said "you read too much into things." I do. Especially when it comes to friendships. I overanalyze everything I say and do as well as many things others might say or do. Then I suddenly fall into a spiral of: "oh my gosh, does she not like me? Did I say something wrong? Why don't they want to be my friend? Do I just consider her a way better friend than she considers me?" 

This all became clear to me recently when something happened and I spent a considerable amount of time whining to Scott, feeling worthless, and like someone wasn't as close of friend as I had thought. He listened patiently, annoyed as well I'm sure, and then told me I was being silly and should not read into it so much. Not more than a couple days later, I had a conversation with the person and realized I was being an idiot and that Scott was 100% correct. He also reminded me that, regardless of what happened in my past, we're not in highschool anymore, people are not out to get me, and my friends will probably not stab me in the back.

He's right.

My goal moving forward is that I can stop overanalyzing every situation, stop reading into everything that happens, and relax. I really, honestly, have some of the best friends I've ever made here and I feel so blessed! I also feel blessed to have such an amazing husband that can remind me of the things that are most important in life, nudge me toward recognizing my weaknesses, and help me overcome struggles that I have.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Boundaries, Bloody Noses, and Potty Training

We had quite the busy morning today! Full of all things completely unexpected and slightly unprepared for. However, I will return to that more after I get this off my chest....

Our ward boundaries we changed last week at Stake Conference. It's something that has been rumored to happen for at least the 2 1/2 years we've lived here. Our former ward, Parkway, was a very, very, small ward with some incredible families! We saw countless families move out during our time spent there with very few big move ins. Despite being in a small ward, we formed some amazing friendships and I've never, ever, ever, felt so welcome and loved in a ward. I knew I could call anyone for help and they'd be there in an instant. I never felt lost, alone, or friendless in our former Parkway ward.

Anyway, we knew change was bound to happen, and change came in a big way. The Stake (read: with permission from Salt Lake), basically squished former Parkway and Chesterfield ward boundaries, tossed in a few families from Rockwood and Frontenac, and then split everyone East and West, prior it was North and South, thus creating two completely new wards with new bishops, presidencies, callings, and members. They kept about 1/2 of each former ward in each new ward, so we still know tons of people in our new ward. I think it was the best way they could have split it!!

It was amazing to be in a huge ward on Sunday. The time it took to pass just the bread for Sacrament was equivalent to the time it took our former ward to complete the whole Sacrament service. There were people in the overflow and when we arrived 5 minutes early, it was a small struggle to find a seat. I haven't been in a ward that large in years. It was exciting and joyous but slightly overwhelming. I'm sad I'm not working in Young Women's anymore either, but hopefully I'll have another opportunity later in life. All in all, I think the changes are wonderful and will be amazing.

Now, back to our morning....
I've never been one to say that my child had to be potty trained at a certain age. I've always had the mindset that he'd be closer to 3 than 2 and that it would just happen when it was time. I was also planning on starting the process after the baby was born.
But, apparently I may be wrong.
At breakfast this morning, Bubs said "I pooted!" which usuallu means he went a little pee pee. Then he told me "I go potty on Mommy's toilet! You stay here, I be right back" and he ran to the bathroom. I followed him and he was removing clothing and saying "Pants off. Socks off. Diaper off." Then he climbed on the toilet. He didn't go, but we pulled out his little toilet and he spent the morning pantsless and sitting on it. He knew that he needed to poop and he wanted to go on the toilet.
While he was watching a show it happened. He came running into the bathroom where I was getting ready, yelling "I pooped! I pooped! Kaiya eating the poop!" and low and behold, he had pooped in his little toilet!!
I cleaned him up, we celebrated, danced, cleaned things up and he got some chocolate chips. He was ecstatic!!
He spent most of the next hour on, or near, his toilet trying to go again.
Then he was terribly upset at me for putting on a diaper and taking him to run errands. After we got back, he got distracted by toys and pooped in his diaper without saying anything (I was distracted on the phone too). So, does our potty training journey begin? I'm thinking so!

I've gotten some really awesome tips and advice from lots of friends who are moms. Thank you!! Hopefully I'll be able to utilize some of them. My goal is to let him potty train himself. I definitely want to make a big deal of it and celebrate when it happens, but I also don't want to nag him and force him to potty all the time. He is a smart kid and really good at communicating, so I think we'll be successful. I don't want to digress once we start, so I just want to take it slow and not force anything. He's really excited about chocolate chips,  the potty dance, new underwear, and sitting on the toilet, so I'm just going to go with the flow and see what happens!!

Last but not least, poor guy was so excited about putting on 3 pairs of new undies, plus one on his head as a hat, that he decided to run and get his real hat. On his way back in the kitchen he tripped and fell flat on his face. The result? His first bloody nose.

He was a trooper and was right back to normal after a quick screaming cry and a few snuggles. Then he decided to be sneaky and lock me inside his bedroom while he was on the outside. No, I didn't have a key. After a quick, urgent, trying not to panic, prayer, I managed to turn the knob hard enough in such a way that the latch slid out of the hole and the door opened. For once I'm glad we've had issues with our doors staying shut tight and hanging in the frame straight. Could've been tragic, for sure! At least I had my phone in case of a real emergency.... 

I'd love to hear your potty training stories! Successes, failures, frustrations, tricks, etc. Please share!

p.s. 30 weeks down, 10 to go. Wahoo!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Best Bread in the World aka Honey Whole Wheat with Oats

Awhile back I was searching for a delicious, from scratch, whole wheat bread recipe. My Grandma on Scott's side gave me an old ward cookbook a couple years ago, so I cracked it open. The first yeast bread recipe was titled: "The Best Bread in the World." Of course with a name like that I was intrigued and had to make it to see if it truly was the best bread in the world.

I must say, I was not disappointed!! Especially when I opened the plastic bag and cut a slice 3 days later and the bread was still as soft as the first day.

Now, a couple years later, I have made the recipe more than just a few times. Every time it turns out good, but I've discovered some tricks that make it even better.

1. I freeze my whole wheat flour (speaking of, the kind I have was fresh ground from my dad. He's the best). I only realized just last week that when I add freezer temperature flour to a warm yeast mixture, the dough doesn't stay cold enough for the yeast to rise well. Dur dur dur. So, if your flour is not room temperature, plan ahead and let it sit on the counter for a couple hours to warm up!!

2. I'm a big fan of really wheaty bread, and when I make wheat bread, I want 90% wheat flour. The original recipe only had 2/3 cup of whole wheat and the rest white flour. So I reversed it.

3. Kneading. I'm not a serious bread baker so I really never knew what "dough pulls away from bowl" meant until I actually kneaded my bread in my Kitchen Aid for 8 minutes. There was a magical change in texture after about 7 minutes. For the first 6 minutes I thought the dough didn't have enough flour, so I kept adding a tiny bit more. Then it started pulling away from the bowl slightly, so I stopped. Suddenly at minute 7 or 8, the dough went from almost total mushiness (read: soft cookie dough texture) to a nice, tight, springy and smooth ball. I stretched a little piece and found it didn't break easily so I stopped kneading (though another minute would not have hurt....except my mixer was getting tired).

I now know that kneading is essential for the gluten to bind and create air bubbles which in turn makes a lighter, fluffier bread. So, knead like crazy until you can't knead anymore!

4. Be patient with rising. I let the dough rise for 2 hours. Then I rolled it into loaves since I don't have bread pans, and let it rise another 3 hours. This also helps create a fluffier finished product. Someday I hope to have real bread pans...

And now, without further ado, here is:

The Best Bread in the World!!! 
Aka: Honey Whole Wheat with Oats
adapted from Twin Falls 15th ward cookbook

2 c. boiling water
1 c. rolled oats, uncooked.
Pour boiling water over the oats in a large bowl or mixer bowl. Let stand and cool about 5-10 minutes, stirring several times.

In a small bowl mix and let sit 5-10 minutes until foamy:
1 Tbl. yeast
1 Tbl. sugar
2/3 cup warm water (think shower temp)

When the oats are lukewarm, add to mixing bowl and stir to combine:
1 Tbl. salt
1/2 cup honey
2 Tbl. oil (or butter, melted and cooled)
1 1/3 c. white flour

Add yeast mixture. Then add slowly:
3-4 cups whole wheat flour**

Optional: 1/8-1/4 c. flax, chia seeds, other seeds/grains, etc.

When it gets too hard to mix with a wooden spoon or paddle attachment, switch to dough hook. Add wheat flour a little at a time while kneading until the dough just barely starts to pull from the side of the bowl. Knead for at least 8 minutes in a stand mixer or 10 minutes by hand until dough forms a soft ball, a smooth texture, and a small piece stretches easily without breaking quickly. Cover and allow to rise for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size. Punch down and divide into two portions**. Shape and place into two greased bread pans and allow to rise 30 minutes-3 hours. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. (You can brush the tops of loaves with warm honey and sprinkle with oats to dress it up before baking. I've never done it)

**I used fresh ground whole wheat flour and it took 4 cups. If using store bought, you may only need 2-3 cups. Add slowly so you don't add too much!!
**If you don't have bread pans: shape the dough into a rough rectangle and roll out gently to about 3/4-1 inch thickness. Cut in half lengthwise (perpendicular to long side) and roll each side like a cinnamon roll. Kinda tuck and pinch ends in and be sure to lay seam side down on a cookie sheet. You can bake both loaves at the same time on one sheet.

And if you're looking for some killer Chocolate Chip Cookies, check out my recipe in this post: The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World

Monday, March 4, 2013

My Relationship with Trader Joe's

I really, really, want to love Trader Joe's. All my friends love it, everyone who has ever shopped there love's it, I'm pretty sure even the employee's love it.

I haven't jumped on that bandwagon yet....
Why the heck? Are you crazy? you might ask.
Well, here's why:

1. TJ's is intimidating to me. Always.

Not quite as intimidating as Whole Foods, where I feel like a completely lost shmuck who has no idea what the heck kamut, spelt, and tahini are, so thus I shouldn't shop there...aside from the fact that I feel like it's a store for rich and organic (read: skinny) people who have unique taste buds, which really means it's not for me. Because other than it being a grain, I don't have a clue what spelt is or how to use it. Nor have I ever cooked or eaten Swiss Chard, Bok Choy, or even Kale. It's like visiting a foreign country for me to walk inside.

That aside, WFs does have some killer breads, ready-to-eat lunches, and amazing dips. I hear the gelato is amazing, the sushi looks incredible, and I know their cookies are yummo too. I'm just not well educated enough to shop there.

So, to me, TJ's is a little, mini, Whole Foods, but cheaper. I'm not educated well enough on what the best things to buy are and I don't care so much about organic or not, so it's intimidating and often frustrating to me.

2. Don't ever, ever, ever, go to TJ's on a Saturday.

I did that once. Or twice. Or maybe three times. I'm forgetful and pregnant and blame it on that. When there's too many people crowded in a small grocery store it stresses me out. Especially when I have no idea where to find what I'm looking for, so it takes me awhile of staring at an aisle to figure it out. It's even worse when I realize there are 50 different types of dried fruit, and I can't find any without added sugar. Then I look for the granola, and can't find what I'm hoping for. Then I check the bread and realize almost every loaf is "multi grain" so how do I know which one is the best with the most natural ingredients? All this while people are reaching, grabbing, dodging, and zooming around me trying to get their own groceries.

By the time I made it to the register, my blood pressure jumped about 50 points and my head was aching from the tension in my shoulders. Once in my car, I chugged some water, breathed deep, and promised to never return on a Saturday.

3. TJ's is expensive to me. 

Maybe it's because I've turned into such a tightwad. Maybe it's because I live a mile from Aldi. Maybe it's because I'm not accustomed to shopping at more specialty type grocery stores. Maybe it's because I don't care about buying everything organic. Maybe it's because I know when we move it won't be nearby.

Mostly I think it's because I'm a tightwad and I live a mile from Aldi, which is about the cheapest groceries you could possibly buy: $1/lb strawberries, 99 cent bag of carrots, $1/pint blueberries, 99 cent tri-colored peppers, 79 cent bag of onions, etc. I've never found cheaper produce than at Aldi. (although sometimes it doesn't last quite as long, and sometimes you have to be picky and choosy, but overall it's worth it!!)

When I go to Aldi, I can fill up 2-3 huge bags to the brim with everything I need for a week and usually pay $40-50. At Trader Joe's I filled up 3 smaller bags for $60 and still had to drop a pretty penny at Costco for eggs, milk, fruit, chicken, fish, etc. When I went to Whole Foods once, I got about 6-7  items, more than half of which was produce, and it cost me $45. Yikes!

So, in my mind, since I'm so used to shopping cheap at Aldi, everything else costs a fortune. I must be a tightwad.

4. But Trader Joe's has some serious deliciousness happening.

Have you ever tried their Pumpkin bread mix? How about the 7 minute steel cut oats? Or perhaps the sprouted whole wheat bread? Mmm. The frozen orange chicken, Joe joe's (oreos), and creamy, fatty, delicious yogurt, are some other tried and true favorites. Their bakery bread is to die for, their fresh flowers are gorgeous, and I hear they have some killer homemade pizza dough. Let's be honest, I haven't really ever had something from TJ's that I hated. Especially not that dark chocolate salted caramel bar... I just need more experience.


 I can completely understand why people love Trader Joe's so much! They've certainly hit a hot market right now with organic and healthy food at half the cost of Whole Foods. They also have a fun vibe happening inside and their cashiers are always super friendly and chatty.

Both my hubby and I have found a few things that we really, really, love at Trader Joe's, and perhaps I'll start shopping there more often to see how it really truly compares financially, but I will most definitely be planning that trip on a Wednesday, which is their slowest day.

And maybe, just maybe, I'll request the companionship of friends who are much more experienced at shopping there than I am so they can show me the ropes.

Moral of the story? I'm not completely in love with Trader Joe's, but I certainly don't hate it! I just need some more experience on a less stressful shopping day.

How do you feel about Trader Joe's and what are your favorite things to buy there??