Friday, December 07, 2007

I love my Cricut (chirp, chirp)

So I really, really want to share some of my Christmas crafts this year but alas cannot yet. I would love to share but then surprises would be ruined of gifts I'll be giving. I'll give you a preview of things I did after they are opened on Dec. 25.


I had a new friend since December of last year. I got my friend for a steal (at the time), but this past week everyone could get this same friend for an even better deal. I don't regret paying the higher price because I have gotten good use out of my friend over the past year.


Who is this friend you ask? It's my little cricut bug (pronounced cricket). It is a electronic die cutting machine. You buy cartridges that plug into this and then you can cut shapes or letters anywhere from 1"-5.5". This is my new best friend for scrapbooking and project making. I used my cricut this christmas to make my christmas cards, gifts for the grandparents, and ornament exchanges with Jordan's siblings. It's just a great little tool. It will be so handy to use for School projects down the road.


I bought mine for $159 last year and over Thanksgiving and last week they were on sale at Michaels and Roberts (Utah craft chain) for $119 (regularly $299). If you do any kind of crafting please look for them to be on sale again and add this cute little friend to your house. I even convinced my mom to get one so she's in the cricut club now too. My older sister Arlene was the first person that I knew that had one and I didn't get the concept until I went to a scrapbook show and saw it and finally understood how it worked.


Anyways, I just thought I'd share my love for this little gadget in my life and the fun things I've been able to do with it this year. My favorite font is Base Camp and I'm out to track down the Plantin Schoolbook while in Utah for Christmas. You can go to http://www.cricut.com/ for more info. They did release a larger one that cuts on 12x12 paper, but I'm content for now with my little bug. (p.s. I don't work for this company just thought I'd share something that I love that I know many of you out there would love too).

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

We Gather Together To Ask for Some Pepto

I delayed writing about our Thanksgiving and got quickly stuck in the annual craziness that follows leading up to Christmas, but I figured that our little holiday was worth a few quick paragraphs. We packed up on the morning before Thanksgiving and headed up to Beatty. About 30 miles before Kingman, Matthew threw up all over, and we couldn't clean up the poor kid until we got almost to Kingman. It wasn't fun for any of us, and it didn't help that it felt about 20 below when we stopped (in reality, it may not have been that cold, but by contrast to where we live, it might as well have been).

Because we had just been over some little hills, we thought that he might have been carsick, since he hadn't seemed sick before we left and since I had a hard time with that as a kid. He got sick again on the winding road down to Hoover Dam, but by the time we got to Vegas, he seemed much better. We let him eat a little bit, which may have been a mistake since he became violently ill once again about 20 minutes outside of Vegas. Fortunately, that was really it for him, and by the time we got to Beatty, he seemed to be fine and didn't show any more symptoms.

Car sickness, right? Well, we thought so until a few days later, when basically everyone in my family caught a similar 24-hour bug (except for me and Karin and I think one of my sister-in-laws - unfair, I know, since we brought in the plague). Between that and some windy, weather, we spent a lot of time indoors. Fortunately, we all get along, so we had a good time anyway, helped along by a steady mix of football and home improvement shows. Matthew had a great time running around with his cousins, creating messes faster than we could pick them up.

Because I was going to be slammed at work the next week and Karin had to work at an event in Scottsdale, we left Matthew with my parents, who were kind enough to deal with a highly curious child for a week. That meant that we made a return trip (just to Vegas) last week to pick him up and spend a little more time with family. It was great seeing him again, of course, and somehow in the space of that week in Beatty, Matthew decided to start talking a lot more. I'm not sure if it was the time around his cousins during Thanksgiving or some special trick my parents know, but he suddenly has started saying things like "see you later" and "bath." Now he seems to copy us all the time, so we'll have to be careful. On the way home he said, "Wow, cool."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Winter Solstice Already?

We went to bed fairly late last night, so when my alarm (which has an English accent) awoke me at 6:00 a.m., I was a bit disoriented. It seemed far too dark for that time of the morning, causing me to question how long I had actually been asleep. Had I missed a whole month? Once I finally did wake up and stumbled out of my room to get a drink, I saw a few flashes of light. I figured that I must have a bulb going on, although I couldn't tell which one.

After a shower brought be back to some level of consciousness, I looked outside to find that it was quite overcast and that a lighting storm was going on. I guess I'm now completely acclimated to Arizona, since clouds and lighting were not the first explanation that came to mind for darkness and flashing lights.

We're hoping for a bit of snow this Christmas while we're in Utah, because it's becoming apparent that Matthew won't have a lot of opportunities at this stage of his life to experience cold weather, let along snow. I suppose he's an Arizona native, having been born and raised (so far) here - you can tell because tonight he grabbed a slice of jalapeno from my plate and popped it in his mouth. I guess he takes after me, his spice-addicted dad, because he didn't seem too phased by it (didn't cry or anything), but he did guzzle a bunch of water immediately.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Could you handle 25 kids......

I've been talking about Matthew and our anticipation of nursery for awhile now. Today we had our first experience. Our nursery is currently short staffed so they've been asking for volunteers lately and today I was asked if me and Matthew wanted to go in so I could help out.

Interesting facts about our current nursery.

#1-About 25 kids that show up for nursery each week
#2-There are 3 total leaders
#3-The AC is broken
#4-Only 4 will be graduating to Sunbeams come January

As you can expect the leaders have their hands FULL. They have called another couple to nursery, but they weren't there today and one of the leaders was home sick. There were about 4 other parents in there helping out when we went in. Right when we walked in Matthew was off and playing with the other kids and toys. I don't think he really looked for me until the very end of class. He was probably a little bit intimidated by some of the other kids, but I know he is going to absolutely love it.

I really hope they'll break it into 2 nurseries now that more leaders have been called. It's way too crazy with 25 kids together even with more people there helping out. It was so hot because of the AC issue and little bodies running around. I was literally sweating when I got home from church. I feel so bad for the leaders as they are doing the best they can and are really good with the kids. It's so hard when there are so many kids and I'm sure the leaders feel like babysitters. I've been there and know how it is and secretly am glad that I already have a calling so they can't call me to be in there. I'll totally volunteer to help out once in awhile, but I want Matthew to have interactions with different adults.

If you have a child in nursery please remember to thank your leaders for the great job they are doing. It is one of the most exhausting callings I've ever had (twice before). The little children are so sweet, but sometimes it's hard to get excited about a calling where you have little adult interaction for 2 hours of church and you're playing guard duty most of the time.

All in all our first trial in Nursery was a success so in 3 weeks he can officially go in and we'll all be happy! He loved play time, singing time, snack time....mostly wandered during lesson time and tried to eat crayons during coloring time. I know he'll catch on! :)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Free Gifts + Sales=Temporary Happiness!

I had two great surprises in store on Wednesday.

Surprise #1-When I arrived to work on Wednesday my co-worker told me that I had a package. It was from Mandalay Bay and they had sent me an iPod shuffle. I am the main contact that does the contracts and works with Convention Services and our company has provided them with lots of income over the past three conventions. I am listed as a main contact so that's why they wanted to suck up to me. :)

We only have 1 iPod in the house (a nano) so I borrow it from Jordan (his Christmas gift last year) from time to time. I'm excited to finally have an iPod apparatus of my own. It's so small and will be perfect for traveling and working out. Besides who doesn't love a great free gift? It has their logo on it and is so cute! It's the blue color below.




Surprise #2-I met up with Jordan after work and we went to Lowe's to look at landscaping stuff for our backyard and then went to In-n-Out (yum-o) for dinner. I discovered that Matthew had a temperature so after dinner Jordan took Matthew home and I went to the mall to find more pj's for Matthew. I happened to park by Pottery Barn Kids and went in to see what they had.

I loved their Halloween costumes they had this year and have been eyeing their doggy one. I was hoping to get it on sale online after Halloween (you know I love sales!), but it was sold out in Matthew's size. They also had this totally cute dragon costume online that I've been eyeing but it was ridiculously expensive for a costume and is in stock online in his size but not on sale. I found it on sale in his size in the store for 75% off. I couldn't resist a GREAT deal so we now own a dragon costume to be used in 1 year. I love finding a good sale and can't wait for Halloween '08! They still have that cute dragon treat bag on sale online so I might pick it up for next year too. It's only $5 and it wasn't at the store.




We're off to the Dr's to see if Matthew has an ear infection(s). He's been a little sick and isn't eating which is always scary. I think he is feeling better today, but we're still going! I'll update later.

Yep, Matthew has double ear infections. We picked Jordan up on the way home from the Dr.'s and he's filling the prescription right now. I hate that we are already starting this again. He fought about 4 of them last year and I'm worried we are going to be doing it again all winter long. I asked the Dr. when do we start talking about tubes and he said that 3-4 a year is normal and anything above that then we'll talk. Let's hope that this year is better than last.

I would have to say that for being sick w/ear infections he still has been pretty happy. He definitely hasn't been his normal chipper self, but he hasn't been crying all day long either. He should be better in about 5 days-let's hope so. I like happy well Matthew better than sick Matthew.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Don't Care How, I Want It Now

As I mentioned before, I've been working on our yard for a while now. Trenching in particular took much longer than I expected. With winter (the temperatures are below 90 now) and (more importantly) a bit of mental fatigue setting in, I decided to cave and put in sod instead of seed. At about 7 last night two palettes were dropped off at my house, and by 10:30, we had a lawn.

I'm pretty skeptical of those commercials for the toasted sandwiches that you supposedly cook in the microwave, but I'm now a believer in instant grass. We'll see how it does in the long run, but it's good to finally see some fruit from my labor.





Pete the turtle was not around to see it, though (which was good, because I needed my wheelbarrow back). No, he didn't die despite having to rely on me for care - someone (a neighbor about 7 houses down) called & claimed him. I'm not sure how he got out, but I wasn't too sad about not having to figure out what to do with him if no one had called.

Friday, November 02, 2007

You should have seen the other Tiger

Halloween has come and gone again too quickly. I purchased Matthew's costume a few months ago and unfortunately he only got to use it twice. Once for trick-or-treating at Jordan's work (on the 30th) and then again on Halloween. He loved the game of picking a treat and putting it inside his bag. I did feel a little dumb pimping out my child for candy, but he had fun so I don't feel too bad (plus I do get the side benefits of his candy). We've been practicing what a tiger says the last month or so. Matthew says roar really quiet, like a whisper. It's hilarious. So many people thought he looked so cute in his costume....one little boy said, look it's a tiger and Matthew said roar all on his own. So funny!

MR. TIGER-ROAR!


WITH MOMMA


WITH DAD


We've started having a tradition of going to Ray and EmmaLee's for Soup in Pumpkin bread bowls and then trick-or-treating on Halloween. Ray wanted homemade doughnuts this year (childhood memory) so I offered to make them. I knew that the pressure would be on so I made a test batch on the Saturday before Halloween. They were good, but I didn't love the icing and they weren't GREAT and I needed GREAT! I found another recipe and made a test batch again Tuesday night and they were soooo good! I think I ate 3-4 and Jordan ate about 3. They were so addicting. Jordan really raved about them and then talked them up to Ray who told others they were going to be good so I was a little nervous and the pressure was on. They were definitelly a hit though and turned out so yummy and everyone loved them so I'm glad I put the hard work into finding the right recipe.

THE TRICK-OR-TREAT GANG


We did have a small accident on Halloween night. We were walking out the door to go trick-or-treating and Matthew fell when stepping down onto the porch. You know when you see your child doing something and you can't help them one bit. I saw him falling and couldn't save him. He totally bonked his head on their welcome mat and scratched up his face pretty bad and got a mouth full of dirt. It was a bit traumatic-I think more for me than him. He cried for about 20 seconds and then was fine and ready to go. He had a great time trick-or-treating and was pretty pooped when we headed for home. In fact he finally caught up on his sleep Friday after his 4-hour nap. What a trooper and what a great kid to collect candy (esp. the full sized candy bar) for his parents. I think he just had fun walking around with the kids and getting a sucker every once in awhile.

SCRATCHED UP!

Friday, October 26, 2007

My New Chair...

Matthew has been pretty silly lately with container like items. He likes to sit in them, push them around, dump things out of them, fill them back up with other things and wear them on his head. It's fun seeing him explore and figure out new things.

Our friends Kari and Garrin borrowed our baby tub awhile ago and returned it last weekend since they aren't using it anymore. It is now Matthew's favorite place to sit. He uses it like a regular chair. He's sitting in it right now watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. It's so weird to think that a year ago I was using it to wash him and he was pretty helpless.




He's changed so much and definitely has opinions on various items. I'm already getting an early dose of the terrible 2's. I am glad though that he is pretty independent and can play by himself. He generally is a pretty happy kid unless of course he really wants to do something that we don't let him do/have for safety reasons. Wow can he scream! Lately I keep very calm and lead him into his room and tell him I understand he's frustrated, but I don't want to hear his yelling and that he can throw a fit in his room and come out when he's done. I close the door leaving it open just a crack and let him come out when he's done. It seems to work and I feel less frustrated with his screaming fits.

Oh another thing he started doing a couple of months ago that really cracks us up is squinting his eyes so he can barely see out of them. I was fortunate to catch him doing it yesterday.

His squinty eyes

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Goin' Yard

It has taken us a while to get settled into our house over the last year-and-a-half as busy as we have been, but a month or so ago I finally got the last room in the house fairly organized, and I told myself that we were finally there. Then I walked back into the living room and looked at our dry, barren backyard.

With Matthew now sprinting to any open door that leads to the outside world, I decided it was finally time to stop living in direct violation of the HOA bylaws and throw together a backyard. I could have paid someone to do it, but it seems that I'm some combination of cheap and crazy - at least looking back on it now. As with most things in life, this hasn't been nearly as easy as it sounded in the beginning, and I still have a long way to go, even with our tiny yard.

I should have seen this coming, since our house was one of the last built in our neighborhood and was therefore almost certainly a parking lot and dumping ground for our builder for a few years. The Bible would have you believe that a wise man would build his house on rock instead of sand, but we seem to have found a way to do both. I didn't realize this until I rented some highly ineffectual equipment from Home Depot.

To be fair, I can't totally discredit the equipment, because there was a little user error involved in the beginning. Three of us (I, Ray, and Ray's truck) rented a tiller for four hours, and the first hour or so was wasted on trying to start it up and then figuring out that you had to flip the front wheel up in order for the tines to actually hit the ground. Even then, it was sort of like trying to carve your name in cement with your fingernails, so we had to spray down the whole yard to soften it up enough to make an impact at all.

Having successfully transformed my yard from a dusty wasteland to a muddy mess, I moved on to the trenching. Ray and his truck were back the next day to help me on the 25-minute haul from Home Depot to Maricopa, and Ray took the first stab at cutting a simple 8-inch trench. I was around the corner hacking away at some buried concrete the builders were nice enough to leave directly in the path of my planned pipe to the backyard, and after about five minutes I heard a loud clanking sound. The first trencher had broken, either because it was old or because my 1/16,000th-of-an-acre backyard/marble quarry had gotten the best of it.

After a return trip to Home Depot (where they carted out several trenchers before they found one that actually worked, which didn't increase my confidence), I was back at it, this time with a trencher designed to dig 12-inch trenches. I think at best I got about 4", which was at least a start. (At the same time, our neighbors over the back wall were having a pool party and probably wanted to strangle me). So, despite my hopes that I'd spend one Saturday on trenching, I spent the past two weeks finishing it all of by hand and gaining newfound empathy for slave labor in Indiana Jones movies (Karin actually came out & laughed at me the other night because I was working so hard to clear about three inches of trench). I'd probably still be working on it were it not for the fact that Karin's dad was here last week and slipped out there a few times to hack away while I was at work.



Now it's on to the sprinkler system. I've never done this before, but I'm hoping it works the first time (I'm always amazed when things work). Again, nothing is as easy as you'd expect, but sometimes you can get lucky. Someday when you all visit (and I know you want to - I mean, how could you miss the Salsa Festival or random concerts by Air Supply at the casino on the local reservation), we might actually have grass and not a three-inch-deep layer of dust on everything on our patio.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sun, Sand, San Diego....and some rain

Wow, it's been a long time since I posted. I was out at an event October 4-6 in Phoenix and my parents came in to visit on the 4th (Jordan and Matthew picked them up) and left today (16th). We left for San Diego on the 11th and got back last night (15th). Needless to say it's been pretty busy around here lately.

I just thought I'd post a little bit about our trip.

We all stayed together at the La Jolla Embassy Suites which ended up being the perfect location, and of course had a great breakfast every morning. Matthew always wanted to leave the room to go out to the elevators and run around. He was such a trooper and did really well considering he was in a stroller for 4 days straight and never took a nap unless we were back at the hotel. He was so sick of being in his stroller on Monday and was not very happy to ride in a carseat for 5 hours coming home. I think he's just glad to be back in his own house running around and playing with his favorite things.

Friday we decided to hit Sea World and boy was it warm and Sunny. The Stephens all got some good sun and it was a good thing we went that day as the rest of the time was overcast and drizzly. Matthew was pretty antsy and didn't love the shows as much as I thought he would, he loved watching the kids and eating more. We were going to go to the zoo on Saturday, but it rained all morning so MJ got some much needed rest, I did some work, and everyone else napped. In the afternoon we went to Old Town San Diego and then to Coronado Island where Matthew met the Ocean for the first time. It was so cold and he still wanted to run into it if I let go of him. He loved the sand and water-too cute! Sunday we went to the Zoo and saw some awesome animals. They have some seriously cool exhibits at the zoo and parking is free! Monday we packed up and then went to the San Diego Animal Park. Jordan and I had never been there before so that was really neat. It was drizzly on Monday morning and we discussed bagging it as it was about a 30 min. drive north of where we were, but we just all decided to go. I am so glad we did. The rain cleared up and the weather was perfect, not too hot or cold. We went on a Safari tram ride first thing so that was interesting. After the tram ride we went and saw the Lions, Giraffes, and Elephants. They put these branches on a pulley system up a pole for the giraffes (so they would think it was a tree) and about 7 were eating right in front of us-so cool! I just wish we would have had more time. You can pay to go on this jeep ride and get up close to the animals. I would LOVE to do that sometime and pretend I was in Africa. We saw the cutest little elephant running around that was only 2.5 weeks old. Seriously it was so, so cute!

We had a lot of fun, but it's always good to get back into a routine and Jordan and I needed to get things done for work. It was really fun having my mom and dad come and of course Matthew loves them spoiling him. It's always sad when they go, but they have things to get home to and we need to get back to normal. Matthew walked into the guest room this afternoon looking for them (after they left) and seemed to wonder where they went. I did tell him they had to go home and we would see them at Christmas, but who knows how much he understands.
I'm including some of my favorite pics from the trip.

At Sea World















On Coronado Island















Also on Coronado Island














San Diego Zoo















Meerkats!















Momma's sunglasses















Heading into the Wild Animal Park















On the Safari ride















More Safari

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Thanks, cleaning fairy

When we got home on Sunday the house was perfectly clean and organized. Matthew mostly made a huge mess yesterday and I didn't have time to get everything cleaned up before Jordan got home from work. Matthew was off schedule, VERY ornery and difficult yesterday and I needed a break when Jordan got home from work. He took Matthew for a walk, had him watch baseball with him, and got him ready for bed. I was still pretty exhausted from this weekend and went to bed early intending to take care of the mess today.

I have no idea when Jordan came to bed as I was pretty out. I think I fell asleep at 9 pm. When I got up this morning the cleaning fairy had visited (Jordan). I don't expect him to do this and he does it often. I know he's tired too so I really appreciate it. He's so great in helping out with everything around the house even when he doesn't need to. I don't know what my MIL did to raise him this way but I need to learn her secrets to pass along to Matthew.

Thanks Jordan for the clean house this morning. It will definitely make my morning less chaotic and hopefully I can get ALL of the laundry (about 3-5 loads) done today. I am so blessed to have you in my life. Love you!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Me, Myself, and I

Ok, so my friend EmmaLee tagged me to share 7 things about myself.

1-New York & Company is my favorite clothing store. It carries trendy clothing, isn't too pricey, and their pants fit me better than any other store. I almost shop there exclusively. They are always offering coupons in my email so it's hard to pass up. I scored big time (as did my credit card) while I was in Utah. It's so interesting the same things and different things that each store carries.

2-I work from home part-time. The company I work for Isagenix has been gracious enough to let me work from home. I go into the office 1 day a week, definitely always a much needed break from Matthew and to really focus on things that need to get done. I find and book the hotels for our events, order our promotion items, and work with the hotels when we're onsite. It's a busy job and depending on our workload I vary between 20-30 hours a week. Sometimes it's hard keeping everything running smoothly with Matthew causing chaos but it works for now.

3-I really do love to cook. We have been trying a lot of new recipes lately. Sometimes they are winners and sometimes the recipe needs tweaking to fit our taste buds. It's been really fun to experiment and try new things. I can't wait for my parents to get here so I can make these super yummy shredded beef tacos (I've made once), yummy mexican rice (I've made 2-3 times), homemade guacamole, and homemade taco shells. I'm trying to find a good recipe using pinto beans-the two recipes I've tried aren't up to my standards. :)

4-Ok, I admit it I am CHEAP! We have gotten pretty good at shopping sales everywhere. I really do hate paying full price for anything! We are so cheap that we buy our chicken and beef when it's a really good deal and then use our food saver to suck the air out and put it in our freezer. I refuse to buy a 12-pack of coke for more than $2.50 so we usually stock up when they are on sale. I love Gymboree clothes but can't bring myself to spend $24 on a pair of pants for Matthew that's going to last about 3 months. I usually wait until I get a 30% coupon from them and then shop the clearance sales. I usually get shirts for $4-$8 that normally costs $16.50 or more. If you need any tips let me know!

5-I love to scrapbook and make crafty projects. I have more supplies than I know what to do with and plenty of pages to get caught up on. My scrapbook table is a mess and I must get it cleaned up so I can do a few projects that need to get done for Christmas. Speaking of Christmas I got some super cute paper to make my cards with. It was all 40%-50% off and exactly my style. Love it!

6-My favorite candy is licorice. Give me red, black, or brown and I am a happy camper. I was really craving sweets last night after getting home from 9 days in Utah. Not a single sweet in the house-total bummer!

7-I really hate the flavor of Cherry. I think this stems from having to take Cherry flavored cold medicine when I was little. I will eat all other flavors and leave the Cherry behind. One of my friends loves Cherry so we make a good team when eating candy together. You know what's weird, I love the fruit Cherries, just hate the artifical flavoring of cherry-ick!

Ok, so that's a little bit about me! I am tagging Heather Strasser and Jordan Stephens to tell me 7 things about them!

p.s. Return Plane Ride Home Update
We made it through the return plane ride from Utah just fine. I was at the airport WAY early and then my plane was delayed. I was first in line though to get on the plane. About 10 people passed me up while I was getting everything off the stroller and getting situated, but we did much better. A stewardess even offered to help, but I passed since I had everything under control (much easier to do when you're not stressed). We sat by the nicest lady and man (they weren't together) and Matthew did pretty good considering the plane was full and he couldn't get off my lap. He smiled and flirted with everyone. Sometimes I think he's too friendly for his own good. He zonked out in the car about 5 min. after leaving the airport-poor guy!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Plane, A Mom, and a 15-month Old....

You can only guess where this is going to go....

I have a work event the 28th-29th in Utah so Matthew and I decided to head to Utah a week early to see family and go shopping. This was my first time going on a plane alone with Matthew since he was about 3 months old. Here's a run down of how our experience was....

Jordan takes us to the airport and we are checked in for our 4:21 flight by 3:00. We look at the security line and "see" that it's short so we grab some lunch/dinner before we go through security. I get into the security line at 3:30 and you can't see the real line until you round the corner and it was huge. I thought uh oh, I wonder if we're going to make it.

I'm too cheap to buy a second seat for Matthew so I had to take my laptop bag and a huge carry on because Matthew's carseat was one of our checked "bags". I hooked both bags onto the back of Matthew's stroller and we went round and round security for 1/2 hour before finally getting through. To get through security I had to unload my laptop, portable DVD player, video camera, take both of our shoes off, fold up the stroller, put both bags through and carry Matthew through. Just that alone made me sweaty and Matthew was really good through the whole ordeal. Jordan was watching us the whole time (unbenownst to me) because he was worried I wasn't going to get through in time. I finally got out of security at 4:09-too close for comfort.

Our gate was only 3 gates down so that was nice. I don't think I realized how late we really were as there was no one left to board so we jumped on the plane. At the end of the walkway I had to get Matthew down, get both bags off the stroller, fold up the stroller and then carry Matthew and my two bags all the way down the plane. I know that helping me isn't anyone's job, but I was rather surprised that no one offered to help me as I ambled down the plane with everything (definitely not an easy task) while everyone was staring at me. I finally get to my seat and someone is sitting there. I ask the guy if he has 17C as that's my seat and he said no, he was just trying to get an aisle seat. He moved pretty quick because I don't think he really wanted to sit by MJ.

Ok, so I've stowed my bags, have things ready to entertain Matthew and I'm seriously hot and feel like throwing up. Matthew was pretty good during take-off and then the wrestling began. I am so glad that the middle seat was empty or he would have been screaming the whole time. He played there for awhile, peeked at everyone around him and gave them smiles, and then wanted to get down and screamed about 3 times because he wasn't happy about having to stay up in the seat. Let's just say that the pretzels were the perfect size for him and kept him entertained for awhile.

Once we landed I had to haul everything off again and once again not a soul asked if they could help me. Matthew was not happy the whole ride to my parents house and was so excited when he was finally out of the car and able to run around and be "free".

I leave on the 30th to fly back home and only can hope that the middle seat will be empty and that Matthew will be pretty tired since it is a 8pm flight. I really don't think I'll be flying much alone until he gets older. I was very stressed out trying to keep him entertained and not screaming his head off. After this week of being on my own with Matthew I am even more impressed by single moms and don't know how they do it day in and day out with no breaks and possibly minimal help.

I was contemplating flying to Russia this summer just me and Matthew alone to visit our friends Paul & Lindsey. That WILL NOT be happening. Jordan will be going even if it burns up the rest of his vacation. There is no way I can handle Matthew myself for that long of a flight. It's really our only shot at going so let's hope he's a bit better by the time he's 2. We might even buy him his own seat (actually we'll probably have to).

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Movin' On Up

Last week, Karin took MJ to the doctor for some shots, and they ran him through the typical battery of baby tests to see how he stacks up. He continues to be somewhere in the middle weight-wise, despite the chubby cheeks, but he's falling a bit behind the pack on height. We're going to work on that one - stretching, Nutri-Grow... whatever it takes. Kidding, of course - I'm guessing that stuff tells you absolutely nothing. I'm highly, highly suspicious of statistics that are thrown at you with no context. I'm sure Matthew has just as much chance of being 6'3" as he does being 5'3", and either way, it doesn't matter really all that much.

Actually, we should be counting our blessings, because Matthew has now discovered climbing, and maybe his somewhat less-than-average height at the moment is the only thing keeping him from swinging from the ceiling fan. As it is now, he uses everything at his disposal to get onto the couch, in some cases to get at things on the other side but mostly just to run back-and-forth or sit down like the big people. I'm glad we have a happy, active kid, but he definitely is keeping us on our toes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Starting Over....:( (sniff, sniff)

Ok, you know your ward is HUGE when it is constantly referred to as the largest ward in the world by the Stake Presidency and other leaders and we checked in at just over 1,000 people on Sunday (no not in attendance). We were so big our Relief Society met in the chapel and even that was getting full.

The 3 wards in Maricopa got split into 5 on Sunday (plus a Spanish branch). Our ward (Maricopa 6th) is teeny tiny in boundaries compared to everyone else. Why am I so sad?...(sniff, sniff) because ALL of my friends are in another ward. Not one single good friend of mine is in my new ward. It's just such a bummer to feel like the new person sitting all alone again after being here for 1.75 years.

Of course Jordan is optimistic because we did inherit a tiny part of the development next to ours that was going to a different ward-they'll know even less people than we do. It's just hard finding couples that we connect with. In the spirit of trying to stay positive, here are some good things about the split.
  1. A new ward building-the old one's AC is kindof broken. I've been getting headaches every Sunday at church lately from the heat.
  2. At least we can meet people and see them regularly. You'd meet a new person in our old ward and not see them for a month and not even realize it because there were so many people.
  3. We MAY get a padded seat for sacrament without arriving 1/2 hr early.
  4. Less noise from all the children. Sacrament was so noisy in our old ward.
  5. Matthew's nursery size should be doable. We had 4 nurseries in our old ward and the 18 month nursery was 30 kids alone. Only 3 months to go-yipee! Yes, we are all looking forward to it. Matthew is going to love playing with the kids and we are going to love not having to fight with his wiggle wormness after Sacrament.
  6. We move up an hour to 2-5 pm from 3-6 pm. Only 4 more months and then we'll get a better schedule-hopefully 9-12.
  7. People who bugged us are not in our ward.

So that's all I can think of right now. Maybe Jordan can think of some additional positive ideas. On the downside there are plenty of positions to fill so that's a scary thought! Please send good vibes our way that we'll meet some cool couples soon.

p.s. I have a friend in Maricopa in another ward and I go to her book group and Bunco group. They are so cool and I wish I could be adopted into that ward. I really click with a lot of them and they are not snobs!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Oh The Funny Places I Sit my Seat

Lately we've been finding Matthew in all sorts of silly places. This kid is so quick he's somewhere so fast it's hard to keep track of him. You usually know when something is going on because he is way too quiet. Here are some funny locations we've found him in recently. He's a climbing fiend and has some amazing balance skills.

I took the car seat out of the car to put in my friends car since we were going somewhere together. Before I knew it Matthew was sitting in his seat (that was by the door) ready to head out. This car seat is not low to the ground and pretty high so I was surprised he was able to climb in. He makes me laugh.


One of Matthew's long standing fun things to do is push our rocking chair ottoman over. Well, Monday he climbed on top of it before I knew it and was sitting there enjoying his great view. He did need help getting down as he kept getting stuck-silly boy!














This is our new storage unit for Matthew's older toys. He loves to go into his room now and play with these toys. It was so quiet the other day so I checked on what he was doing and low and behold he was hanging out inside one of his storage buckets. I think he just likes climbing in and out of things lately.














Jordan found Matthew inside of this other toy basket that is located in our living room. Doesn't that hurt having hard plastic toys press into your flesh. Once we found a huge spider in that basket--ewwww!!!














Jordan knew I was going to write a blog about silly sitting locations so he let Matthew climb up onto the dishwasher while I was at work yesterday.














We keep this step in the laundry room and try to keep the laundry room door closed so Mr. M will stay off the step. He likes to climb up though and pull open the blinds and look out the window. Knock on wood he hasn't fallen off yet. I know he is sitting precariously close to the edge of that step and I would have freaked out, but I was at work and Jordan took this pic.














This shoe rack is also in our laundry room and I have never seen Matthew climb up on it. He usually just takes my shoes and walks around with them throughout the house or throws them in our flip flop basket (you must have sandals and flip flops if you live in AZ, let me know if you don't know the difference).














Once again something new I've never seen before. He decided to sit on top of the stereo in his room. I think we need to get him his own player that I can put on top of his TALL dresser.













P.S. It is a balmy 93 degrees today. It's so nice not to broil when you get inside your car and an added bonus is the AC works quicker too (I hate the blast of hot air you have to endure for at least 2 min. before the cold air kicks in-I swear I'm crisping my skin when that happens).

Me and Matthew are heading to Utah at the end of September as I have a work function up there so we're going to make it an week long outing. I asked my sister if I should bring long sleeved clothes for Matthew and she said yes, it's 63 degrees today and will be cooler by the end of September. I don't think we'll see 63 degrees down here for another 4-5 months. Good thing I just purchased some warm clothes for Matthew from Gymboree the other day when it was on sale. About a month ago I even found some closed toe shoes (on sale) for the winter. Now I just need to get Matthew some socks!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

IKEA...the amazing maze

So we are pretty fortunate that we have an IKEA about 20 min. from us. I have to say that I don't necessarily love everything there as most of it is too modern for me. We have found some great items there lately-the most recent find on Friday. Speaking of Friday I thought that IKEA would be packed on a Friday night like it is on Saturdays (wall to wall people). I guess only losers like us go to furniture places on a Friday night. Everyone else must have been out partying (we did our partying AFTER IKEA) as the place was pretty deserted. Also, if you have never been to a IKEA it is a giant maze that you must follow and only those that have been frequent times can navigate successfully to end the maze sooner. Another great bonus about IKEA is that they have a really great cafeteria that is reasonably priced. Their swedish meatballs (you do know that IKEA is based out of Sweden right?) are yum-o!!

We went to IKEA last week to find some kind of storage unit for Matthew's bedroom. He has way too many toys that were encroaching our living room daily and I was tired of putting everything away every night. We first thought that we would get an expedit like the one I have in my craft room, but as we rounded the kids section about to leave there was this cute storage piece. Jordan painted the top and sides to match his room so now it is the perfect place to store some of his toys. BTW-the little chair and table you can kindof see in the picture is also from IKEA and will be perfect in about another year for him to use.


Of course like any store I have a hard time just leaving with my designated item of purchase. In one of the last sections before going into the warehouse I found these cute giant stickers. The directions said to place on a clean flat surface and my walls are clean but not flat (all homes in AZ have texturized walls). I am having a few issues having them stick completely but I'm just going to modge podge them down and deal with the consequences later. I put the giant flowers in my bathroom and the swirly golden flower stickers in my Dining room. I love the look and it was pretty cheap. We also found some cute finger puppets for Matthew and some plastic plates for $.99 each.





If you have never been to IKEA once you get through the maze of rooms you are then dumped into a warehouse where you locate your item by aisle, load it onto a trolley, pay and roll it out to your car. All of the furniture is self assembly and usually isn't that hard to put together that I can see (ask Jordan for the real deal). I wouldn't however put our whole house together out of IKEA furniture. When we lived in VA one of our friends bought their entire house out of IKEA and had about 50 boxes of furniture to put together while her husband was overseas for 6 weeks. Jordan was nice enough to help her for about 3 or 4 nights getting everything assembled.

Anyways, if you haven't ventured to IKEA yet, find one in your area and go check it out. It's a great date night....going through a merchandise maze and eating dinner all in one location for a pretty cheap price.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Baby, Baby, Baby Signing Time

About 3 months ago I could tell that Matthew knew what he wanted but couldn't tell me what he needed. I went and bought a baby signing book to try and get us started on signing. I started signing more, drink, all done all the time but I swear he just looked at me like I had three heads. I persisted for about a month and then gave up because it wasn't working.

We went to an event just over two months ago and one of our friends were there with their daughter who is just older than Matthew and she was signing all sorts of things. I talked to Erica and she said that she was using a Baby Signing Time video. I immediately ordered the set when I got home so we could try signing again. It's such a cute video with catchy songs that teach you how to sign different words. We even have CD's we can play in the car.

We've been watching the video about every other day and I've been very consistent with using signs when I ask Matthew for things he wants. Last week he started signing back with prompting from us so that made me happy that he was finally getting it. Yesterday I was so proud when he signed for more (he wanted more fish sticks) and for milk all on his own and he signed cracker after I prompted him-boy did he get some good praise from me. When I got him up this morning he was signing that he wanted milk so he got some great praise again and his milk. Maybe this is going to work? Not that he doesn't babble incessantly about everything but he'll be able to tell me his needs in a way that I can understand.

We started watching the second video yesterday and they were singing about socks, shoes, hats, and coats and I swear he was looking at her (the lady singing and signing) like what are you talking about I don't even know what those are. You see Matthew doesn't wear socks (neither do I), hardly shoes (only sandals if he wears anything-same with me), hats only for swimming, and hasn't worn a coat since around Feb. The poor kid doesn't really have anything to reference for any of those. I really don't think he understood what she was singing about.

I'll need to finally buy socks in probably Nov. for when we visit the families for the holidays. He does have a fall coat from last year that should still fit. Even in the winter a light coat or sweater just about does it and you can still get away with sandals. We're always take inappropriate clothing when we visit family for the holidays as we forget how cold it can get in Utah and Beatty.

On another note, Jordan just posted this blog about Matthew's teething. I was dying laughing and thought you could all use a laugh too.

Monday, August 20, 2007

High School Musical 2...and musings from the week

Ok-I haven't actually seen High School Musical or HSM2, but lots of people have been talking about it so I thought I'd post my thoughts about this phenomenon.

The message board that I frequent had lots of ladies talking about HSM2 before it premiered and how their kids were excited and were going to parties etc. for the debut. I just knew it was going to be a big hit. It was a HUGE hit and was the highest rated show ever on cable network....and that is saying a lot. They are projecting that 17.24 million households watched the program. They think even more people than that actually tuned in because of the parties I mentioned before.

The whole reason I'm posting this is because I think it's great that a show that is catering to the family is such a huge hit. They are already planning on a HSM3 and possibly 4. Even though I haven't seen either one they are both on my DVR so I will be watching them soon.

I have to say that Disney has some very cute shows for all age groups. Matthew has for some reason decided he likes Mickey's Clubhouse (Donald makes him crack up) so I get to see "commercials" for the other shows on Disney. There are fun ones for the little kids, the tweens, and Teens. I loved Disney growing up and hope it keeps turning out good shows for Matthew to watch one day. I am just hoping that other networks will catch on and realize that families are a HUGE market and not everything has to be violent. Yes, I like my Law and Order, but Matthew won't be watching it with me anytime soon.

Anyways, enough Disney for one day. Other things we've done lately
-Bought and learned a new "Bean" Bohnanza game: Weird, fun, addicting. Great for a group 2-7 players. I've already won twice so of course I like it!
-Hosted a progressive dinner starting at our house with appetizers. Poor Matthew went to the church for free babysitting and was in the nursery room with 20 other kids. He did pretty good until the end and was crying when we went to pick him up. I think he was just hungry.
-Saw Bourne Ultimatum-A kick butt film that I highly recommend to anyone. We think it is the best in the trilogy.
-I read Eclipse the 3rd book in the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer. It didn't disappoint at all-maybe my favorite so far. My friend called me to invite me to her bookclub and they were discussing the series. Loved talking about the books to other people that had read them.
-We made an amazing dinner last night of Turkey Meatballs/Gnocchi and the meatballs tasted better than any other time we've made them. They were perfection-savory, juicy, succulent. Leftovers tonight were even yummy too!
-I bought Matthew some new Sandra Boynton books. They are silly and don't make sense and I love them. His book collection is now overflowing and I need to find a new basket as the one he has is bursting at the seams. He's so cute when he brings me books to read to him. I just hope he continues this love of books past age 5.
-AND last but not least Matthew is about to break about 4 teeth so you can only guess how much fun it has been around here lately.

All in all life is good and we feel blessed every day to have really great jobs, an amazing little family, extended family and friends. Let's just hope the weather starts cooling down soon as we are feeling half-baked anytime we go outside lately. Yeah, I know you aren't jealous of our weather now but we'll be having glorious weather in about 2 months and you'll all start suffering from the cold! Seriously the winter weather here makes the suffering of the summer so worth it.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Seriously......delirious

I returned home on Wednesday after being away for six days at our Annual Convention. It was a lot of work and I am still recovering from exhaustion. Our staff worked so many hours I thought I would share things that happen when you are sleep deprived and have worked 14-16 hour days for 5 days straight.

So I had a delirious episode before I even left for Convention. I had been working a lot the week before Convention and hadn't had time to go shopping for some new shoes until the night before I left. I walked into Macy's and there were my shoes. They looked perfect they were no back tennis shoes-perfect! I tried on the brown pair and they were just the right size. The black pair fit a little different and I couldn't decide what size I needed them in. I put two different sizes on each foot and then decided the 8 1/2 were great! I pulled my shoes out when I got home to start packing and took out my black shoes and discovered I didn't have a complete pair instead I had two left shoes. I had brought home both sizes. I should have known right there I was going to have some delirious moments. Jordan was nice enough to return them and get the right pair together the next day while I flew into Vegas.

Other delirious moments shared by myself and other co-workers while in Vegas:
-One of my co-workers thought he saw a frog in the convention center and tried to find it until he figured out it must have been an illusion.
-I told this same coworker that someone donated fifteen thousand grand to our charity. He made fun of me endlessly.
-He then was telling me a story about a guy who took money out of his sock and shoe because there was no more wallet in his money. See what happens when you make fun of me-you get your own words twisted up. Ha!
-A girl co-worker told a guy co-worker that he had nice jugs instead of guns!
-We used walkie talkies that had ear buds (like the President's security wear). Every night when I was laying in bed I could hear people talking in my ear and nothing was in my ear.

So these were just a few funny moments that had me laughing the last day of Convention. I really needed those laughs as I was so exhausted and was really missing my family. It was about 10:30 pm and 5 of us were walking back to the hotel together and we kept laughing at all these funny moments. I was going to my room to sleep and they were all going out to party.

I go to my tower and get off on my floor and walk to the end of the hall where my room is. The key won't work and I am VERY frustrated and want to cry. I don't have the energy to go all the way back down to the front desk. I am so tired and lugging my super heavy laptop bag. I go back to the elevators and there is a hotel phone there so I call the front desk and tell them my key isn't working. They tell me that my room is on the 21st floor and I say yes that's right. They proceed then to tell me that I am on the 8th floor. I then realize that I sound really tired and I'm sure they think that I am drunk. The hotel probably gets drunk lost people calling all the time. When I was walking to the room that I thought was mine I was wondering why there were 8's in front of the room #'s instead of 21's. My brain was so dead it didn't even compute. I giggled about my funny mistake all the way back to my REAL room location.

Let's just say that I am amazed I made it home in one piece with all of my belongings. Jordan picked me up from the airport and then I dropped him off at work and took Matthew home. It was all I could do to keep my eyes open and functioning until Matthew took a nap. I took a nap too and didn't wake up until Jordan got home from work almost 3 hrs later. Jordan checked in on Matthew and he was awake. Between being dead asleep, the air conditioning, and my ears being plugged up I never heard him so who knows how long he had been awake. He hadn't been crying so he must have been fine playing in his crib.

I was so tired last night I took a nap at 7 pm and then went to bed at 9. I am feeling more myself today but am still pretty tired. I am hoping by Monday I am back to myself. I don't know how people work these many hours constantly. I can only do 1 week a year and then it takes me about 5 days to recover.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

I owe everyone a major update to this site/our picture site now that Matthew is running around the house and I have (as-yet-unedited) video proof. He's done a lot of funny things lately, so I need to get that on here. In the meantime, this is just a quick post about one of those great moments you have as a father. Until recently, Matthew typically didn't get too bothered when we left him with a babysitter. In fact, he didn't seem to even notice, except for on a rare occasion with his mom. For about five days starting last Friday, Karin was in Las Vegas for her company's annual convention, and I had to leave Matthew with a babysitter for a few of those days while I went to work. Finally on Tuesday morning I think everything clicked into place for him, and he started to cry when I left. Again this morning as I got ready to head to work, he practically chased me to the garage door crying. While I don't like to see my son cry, there's something about the fact that he is sad to see me go and happy to see me come home that really made my day.

(By the way, before we had Matthew, I think Karin was pretty sure that I was at least 95% emotionally dead. Something about that little guy changed that, I guess).

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

It's....SHARK WEEK!

I have to admit that I like to watch shows that don't make sense to the rest of the way I live. I love to watch things like the Ukanuba Dog Show and we will never have a dog in this house. I think I can appreciate the creatures of the world without being up close-right?

I look forward every year to Shark Week on Discovery and it started Sunday-yay!. This year is its 20th Anniversary and wow I get the shivers and renew to never go in the Ocean (Jordan too) again every year. I can chalk this week up to expanding my brain cells as I have learned some very interesting gems of info and it's only day 3 of Shark Week.

So far I've learned:
-Florida is the #1 place to get an attack. There have been 255 attacks since 1990 and you have a 90% chance of survival.
-Don't swim at dusk or dawn, in murky water, alone, by seals, or in chummed water (duh!)
-Hong Kong and Tokyo made the Top 10 places for an attack (10,9 respectively), who would have thought?
-Most Shark Attacks happen in less than 5 feet of water
-People swim with Great Whites of their own accord to test their bravery. These people did not have chain mail on, but did have a cage they could swim in and out of for safety.
-The worst shark attack occurred during WWII in 1945 when the U.S.S. Indianaopolis sunk and over 900 men went overboard. The sharks mainly picked off the dead or dying and unfortunately only 321 survived, most died due to sharks but mainly to the weather and drinking salt water. It was a VERY fascinating and harrowing story.
-If you ever get attacked punch the shark or poke it's eyes (I do know this from previous years of watching).

I am off to finish watching my DVR full of shark shows from yesterday and today. I have:
-Shark Feeding Frenzy, they examine if sharks really attack humans on purpose.
-Deadly Stripes: Tiger Sharks
-Top 5 Eaten Alive
-10 Deadliest Sharks (2 part show)

I have more DVRing the rest of this week and Jordan really wonders why I watch shows like these and the Eukanuba Dog Show when in real life I wouldn't keep a furry pet or go Surfing (unless covered in chain mail). It really makes him laugh and scratch his head!

Other good shows to catch on Discovery!
Discovery has some amazing shows like:
-Planet Earth with gorgeous scenery that took 5 years to shoot and compile.
-My favorite Discovery show is Meerkat Manor which returns August 10th. Meerkat Manor follows a cute little Meerkat family of about 20+ and the danger and challenges they face. It's seriously adorable and fascinating (and no I won't have a Meerkat for a pet either-maybe a fish or an outside Tortoise).
-Richard Smith (our friend EmmaLee's bro.) reminded me of Dirty Jobs with yum-o Mike Rowe and getting gross and dirty. Makes me gag sometimes (do you know how you artifically inseminate a cow?) but other times like cheese making is really cool! All I know is that I couldn't host that show.
-Ok, now I thought of one more discovery show that is my all time favorite-Deadliest Catch. It follows about 6 or so ships and their Alaskan crab fishing experiences. There are deaths every year and the pay-out is huge: like $40,000 for a month of fishing. The water is freezing and they hardly ever sleep. I love it!

Once again this shows how my life/shows watching doesn't make sense, I tried deep fishing once and threw up for 6 LONG HOURS! I'll never go out in a small boat in the Ocean again. Literally I was green when I got back to the hotel. I should have stayed and shopped with my mom and sister-in-law.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Make me some Mexican

Ok, so some people may say that I like to watch T.V.-me I like to think that I'm just par for the course. One of my favorite channels lately is the Foodtv. They have some serious hotties that work on there-oh and the food is good too. One of my favorite Mchottie is Tyler Florence. He's babe-a-licious go to http://www.tylerflorence.com/ for some yumminess!

Anyways, Tyler always makes killer food/recipes and this episode was for Mexican tacos. Yum-o as Rachael Ray (another Foodtv chef) would say. It looked super yummy and I wanted to try it the minute it got over. We invited some friends over on Saturday and made these. I was a little nervous about the spiciness to the recipe and even though it does have some kick once you added guacamole and salsa it was wasn't too spicy. Let's just say it was so yummy it was only because I literally could not stuff anymore in that I stopped eating. I am posting the recipe below in hopes that you can share the same yummy experience as us. We are DEFINITELY doing this recipe again sometime soon. I think it might be in my Top 5 recipes of all time.

*Some notes about the recipe below.
-I have never used Ancho chile powder and had to go to a specialty grocery store to find it. It wasn't anymore expensive that other herbs so don't be afraid to find it. I'm sure the recipe wouldn't be the same without it, but in a pinch regular chile powder would probably work too.
-San Marzano tomatoes-I also found these at AJ's fine grocery. They are pricey and I don't know if I can tell a difference. I guess these are the juiciest and best tomatoes out there, but I'm sure your regular store brand would work just fine too.
-Serrano and Jalapeno chile peppers-I started using these ingredients lately and they really aren't too hot. Just leave out the seeds (they contain a lot of the heat) the first time and adjust accordingly. Chile peppers do leave an oil on your fingers so please wash thoroughly after using and don't stick your finger in your eye. We've already had an incident in our house when Jordan didn't realize this and wondered why his eyes and nose were burning after sticking his finger in both orifices. I'm sure he'd tell you it hurt like he** (he'd say heck!).

Ok, so on for the recipes. They look more complicated that they are. I'm sure you could make the roast in the crock pot too on low after browning on both sides first.

Mexican Pot Roast Tacos
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence, 2007

2 pounds beef shoulder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 large onion, sliced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, (recommended: San Marzano)
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 bay leaves
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
Corn Tortillas
Kosher salt
3 cups finely shredded white cabbage
Guacamole, recipe follows
Salsa, recipe follows
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro leaves

For the simple salsa:
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained, reserving the juice (recommended: San Marzano)
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
1 Serrano chile
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
2 limes, juiced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the Guacamole: (I cut this recipe into a third and it worked well for 4 people)
6 ripe avocados
3 limes, juiced
1 medium yellow or red onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed then minced
2 serrano chiles, cut into rounds (I cut these a bit finer and not in rounds)
1 big handful fresh cilantro with stems, about 1/2 cup, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Season all sides of the beef with a fair amount of salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, or other heavy pot that has a tight cover, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over moderately high heat. Add the garlic and the beef to the pot, browning the meat on all sides, taking the time to get a nice crust on the outside. Add the onion and allow to lightly brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, plus 1 tomato can of water (to the side of the meat not on top of), spices, season with salt and pepper, to taste (on top of meat). Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer with a lid for 3 hours until the meat is fork tender. Let meat cool in the liquid. Shred meat and set aside.

Heat a large pot of oil over medium heat. When oil reaches 350 degrees F, fry the corn tortillas 1 at a time. Place the tortilla in the oil and wait about 30 seconds. Then use the handle of a wooden spoon to press down into the center of the tortilla and fold it in the middle. Hold down for a few seconds waiting for the tortilla to form into taco shell and then drain on paper towels. Season with salt.

For the simple salsa: To make salsa, pulse all the ingredients, except the tomato juice, in a food processor. Add the reserved tomato juice if the salsa is too thick. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside, allowing the flavors to marry.

For the guacamole: Halve and pit the avocados. With a tablespoon, scoop out the flesh into a mixing bowl. Mash the avocados using either a fork or potato masher, leaving them still a bit chunky. Add the remaining ingredients, and fold everything together. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and give it 1 final mix with a fork. Lay a piece of plastic wrap tight on the surface of the guacamole so it doesn't brown and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

To assemble the tacos: Lay some shredded cabbage as a base. Top with some shredded beef. Serve alongside Guacamole and salsa. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Made in China

This seriously just happened to me about 5 minutes ago and I just had to post about this.

We received these very cute "handmade" pillowcases almost 10 years ago for our wedding. They are white and have a crocheted part at the top of the opening. They don't really match our room now as our duvet cover has cream instead of white in it, but I couldn't bear not to use them since someone "lovingly" hand stitched them. The white pillows against the cream has been bugging me for about a year, but still I used them.

Today I was making the bed (at 11 am-at least it's done!) and I had washed these pillowcases the other day so I was putting it back on the pillow inside out without knowing. I go to take it off to flip it right side out and notice a tag inside the pillowcase. What does it say? Let me guess-MADE IN CHINA!!!

I cannot believe I have been keeping these pillowcases for 10 years and they are made in china off of a machine. All of the love and care that I thought was there is poof now gone!

In all fairness I just now thought to myself, well maybe someone just "BOUGHT" white pillowcases and then embroidered on the ends. I just went and inspected them closely and it "IS" possible that this is what happened. Maybe the love and care is still there? Well, they are off my bed anyhow and now reside on the guest bed so if any of you come to visit please inspect my "handmade" pillowcases VERY, VERY closely and give me your verdict. (Mom can you bring your magnifying glass in October for this task?)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Sixth Beatle

Our good friends Dave & Melanie, who used to live about four houses away, moved to Vegas a few months ago. It was sad to see them go, of course, but it was also bad for Matthew's hair situation. Melanie gave him his first few haircuts, and we haven't taken him to get a trim since. The result has been about the most moppy haired one-year old you'll ever see.




I took those while Matthew was hanging out in one of his favorite spots, which is the little space in between the couches. He usually plays around there when he's trying to get at the laptop, but sometimes he just gives up & settles for reading/eating a good book.



On an unrelated note, I'm sure we'll post something in the next few days (if we can get some video evidence), but Matthew is finally starting to walk. He's still trying to get his confidence up, but he spent a lot of today bipedal. I think he's taken this long to walk because a) he is such an efficient crawler and has been at it so long and b) he fell over so many times and knocked his head when he first stood up 6 or 7 months ago that it's taken him this long to get over the trauma.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Getting organized....and other musings from the week

I have been such a slacker in posting so I'm sorry about that! I've been busy with getting ready for my company's annual convention, hanging out with Matthew, re-reading Harry Potter 6 in anticipation of book 7 that comes out on July 21 and re-reading Twilight and New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (LDS author, books aimed at young adults) in anticipation of the third book Eclipse which comes out on August 7th, and doing some scrapbooking. Needless to say I've been a bit preoccupied. I have also been needing Jordan to get a picture off of the camera so I could complete my post, but I kept forgetting to ask Jordan to pull the pictures off (come on Jordan could you please learn ESP already?).

The first part of my post is about our new organization system that I finished on the 4th of July. I made my mom a similar gift for Mother's Day and wanted one myself. I found this magnetic frame and accessories at Robert's while in Utah in June. It sat around waiting patiently to get finished and Jordan was nice enough to sand and paint it for me (I didn't even ask he volunteered to do it).

We've been needing something on one of our big walls in our kitchen and this made for the perfect artwork/organization system. I need to finish a few items for it, but now instead of announcements, pictures, appointments, shopping lists cluttering up our fridge we now add it to our magnetic board. I really love it and am just now looking for a few more items to add to either side of it on the wall.

I used Daisy D paper, flower diecuts, and lettering. Once I got everything stuck down I modge podged all over it to make sure it stuck!


Not the greatest picture, but it works!

Matthew Musings for the week....

So we're having issues of Matthew not wanting to eat lately. Well, he does eat but only things like crackers, cheerios, and bread. He won't eat any vege's anymore and pretty much the only fruit he eats is applesauce and occasionally bananas. What is so frustrating is that he will eat something one day but not the next. Two days ago he ate 2 bananas (I fed him one and he wanted more), but the last two days he's refused to eat them at all. Maybe he got his fill for the month? Last week he ate peas and now he won't even touch them. I even tried to trick him and put his peas on top of his cheerios today but he's smarter than that, he just flung the peas off and then ate the cheerios. Other times he feels like he's done eating and then I find him an hour later fishing food off the floor. Tonight he decided he wanted to try my dried cranberries. I thought what the hey, let's see what happens and he loved them. I tell you he's so weird. I'm sure he'll hate them tomorrow.

He now knows how to drink out of a cup although he doesn't do it very well yet. His new thing to do in the tub is take his little cup and fill it full and then drink/spit/choke it out. He thinks it's so hilarious. I needed to wash him down today and he was not very happy that I was using "his" cup to do so.

He's also progressing with the whole walking thing. I am not pushing him to walk, we just try to praise him when he takes steps on his own. During the day he'll take a step here and there and usually does better when he's distracted by holding something in both hands. He took 8 steps on Tuesday when he was holding some heavy items in both hands (for the life of us we can't remember what it was). He's standing unassisted all the time now and yesterday he walked from our front room to our family room holding onto one of my hands. He's getting there slowly but surely.

We've taught him that he's one. We ask him all the time how old he is and sometimes he'll put his finger up without us showing him and sometimes he won't. His little index finger is so cute! We're working on what a cow says and what a dog says now.

We feel so blessed all the time to have this happy, determined, curious boy in our lives. I think we both are sometimes still taken aback that we have this 1 year old cruising around and destroying our house. I've included a few pics that we took while in Beatty and Utah.


Loves his bread! He's always happy eating bread!


He's here with his Buddy James Michael Strasser (Heather Nielsen's son), Matthew is MJS and James is JMS. Can you believe how much difference 1 year makes? James was born on April 25, 2007 and weighed in at 6 lbs 11 oz. In comparison Matthew weighed in at 8 lbs 12 oz when he was born and is now 22 lbs. This picture was taken on Matthew's actual 1 year birthday-June 7th. Crazy how that first year just flys by!

We'll post more soon, maybe even about the new HP (that's how we refer to Harry Potter in our house) movie. We have a babysitter and our tickets are purchased and I am out of this house at 4 pm tomorrow to meet Jordan at the theatre-yahooee!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

Unfortunately for me Matthew's first birthday cake turned out like poo. I had found this really cute cake I wanted to make and "assumed" that Costco would have a nice unfrosted cake that I could use to make my cake. Well upon arriving at Costco the day of Matthew's birthday party I discovered there was no unfrosted cake. At this point I should have just bought one from there, but being stubborn I decided to go ahead with my plan. We got home from Costco I made the cake and cooked it on a sheet cake pan (big mistake). I wanted to make a layer cake with different tiers that looked super cute. The sheet cake made tiny tiers and then I made the mistake of using whipped frosting. Needless to say the cake was a big disappointment to me.


I have to say that I redeemed myself this weekend with Jordan's birthday cake. He wanted a round tiered cake so I decided to do the steps properly and make a beautiful cake. Here are the steps to take to make a beautiful two layer cake.

  1. Buy a yummy store brand cake and 1 tub of frosting for the middle of the cake and 1 tub for the outside of the cake. If you are adventurous you can make your own frosting. I did take the easy route for the cake/frosting.
  2. Make the cake from the directions (do not skimp on the ingredients) and pour into two 8 inch round cake pans. Actually before you pour in the batter, cut waxed paper slightly smaller than the bottom of the round cake pans. Line the pans with the waxed paper and spray with cooking spray and THEN pour in the batter.
  3. Cook the cakes until they spring back and the toothpick comes out clean. Let them rest until they have cooled.
  4. Remove the cakes and take off the waxed paper. Put them on a plate where they are completely flat and put them in the fridge to cool completely and harden slightly (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours).
  5. Take the cakes out of the fridge and cut off the rounded parts of the top of the cake so they are perfectly level. Take one cake that is right side up and ice the top (this will be the middle layer). I didn't use a whole tub of icing but about half of one. Once it is iced place the second cake right side down (so the bottom of that cake is now the top). At this point you can either return it to the fridge for about 1/2 hour or go ahead and frost the outside with a thin layer of icing (I used about 1/2 a tub of frosting). I did the second option. The reason you do a thin layer on the outside of the cake is to seal in the crumbs before you do the final layer of frosting. I also used a cake spreader which is like a smaller long pancake turner. This works much better than a regular plastic flimsy spatula. Return the cake to the fridge for another hour.
  6. I used the second half of the frosting and frosted the final layer on the cake. I love the cake spreader because it helped make the sides and top super smooth. I returned the cake to the fridge for another 1/2 hour-hour. This helped make it hard so it was perfect for decorating.
  7. I rolled out some fondant that I bought at Michael's and cut different sizes of circles out of the fondant and then wet the backs of each circle (to help them stick) and decorated the cake with them.

This was the kind of cake I wanted to make for Matthew's birthday but it didn't work out so Jordan got the pretty version instead. It sounds like a lot more work than it actually was. I just wish I had a proper cake stand now, instead I used a pie plate turned upside down.



Three and Three is 33 for Jordan and Ray



With the candles lit

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I wuv my Yion

I thought I would post what we got Matthew for his first birthday present from us. I actually bought it about 4-5 months ago when Pottery Barn Kids was having a killer sale. We gave the lion chair to Matthew after we got home from our vacation. He doesn't really get the concept yet that it's a chair for him to sit on, but is having a great time climbing on it and biting it's nose. He loves to charge right at it with his head. I gave him the book for the picture below so it's not like he sits there all the time reading his books (although he does LOVE his books). We're trying to teach him not to pull Mr. Lion's hair out or Mr. Lion is going to be bald very shortly. Mr Lion is so cozy and comfy-I wish I had a yion chair of my own.


Monday, June 25, 2007

My foot is asleep

Matthew has always been a good nap taker and slept through the night when we moved him into his own room around 4 months (I know, I know we definitely should have moved him sooner). Once he started rolling over he's taken on his favorite sleeping position (see below). You know he's really tired when you put him down and he gets right into the bum in the air position.

We've found him in a few funny positions during naps over the last six months (see pictures for evidence), but the other day took the cake.


Matthew was having trouble taking a nap so I went in to check on him and here is what I found (he had finally fallen asleep). I just had to take a picture before I moved his feet into a better location.

















You may think that Matthew always goes down easy for a nap and that just isn't the case. On Sunday we were trying to get him down for a nap early in the morning so he could get in two naps before we left for church (we have church 3-6p). He had a football in his crib for some weird reason and he just wasn't taking a nap. Jordan checked on him and told me to go see what our son was up to. At this point Matthew had been in his crib for about 45 min. trying (I use the term loosely) to take a nap. I peeked into his room and saw that he was throwing his football around and crawling back and forth in his crib having a great time. I knew that Matthew just needed a little settling down as he had been up for 4.5 hours at this point and was tired (even if HE didn't know it). I had to be a mean mom and take his football away, lay him down, and start his quiet music. I told him it was time to take a nap and that I would see him soon. Sure enough he was asleep in about 10-15 minutes. Needless to say he didn't get in his second nap before we left for church and consequently fell asleep on the way home from church (a 10 min. ride). There is way too much to look at while at church even if he is past exhaustion.

So there you go...the most exciting thing in our life revolves around Matthew's sleeping habits. :)

BTW-here's one more funny position I found him in just this morning.