Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in review

Well, as I sit down at my computer, there are only about 8 hours left in 2013, and I don't really have a lot to say.  It's sort of strange to look back on the last year.  It feels like we didn't do anything, but yet, we really did a lot.  I suppose I could try to look back on the entire year and wax poetic and all that jazz, but I'm not going to.  Instead, because it's late in the day, and I have a baby with croup and double ear infections and I'm tired, our "year in review" blog post is just going to be a video of some of my favorite pictures of the year and the text from my Christmas letter.

Happy New Year!
Bring it on, 2014.

Hello to all our family and friends.  We hope that 2013 has been a great year for you and your family.  In the Howden Home, we had a pretty good year ourselves.  Everyone got a year older and wiser (ha!).  Ross and Annie celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary.  Annies brother got his LDS mission call to Lithuania.  And, we made an extended family trek to Disneyland, surviving plane flights with a then seven month old.
Ross had a busy year at work, wrapping up a multi-year project and starting another. He traveled to France, Switzerland, Latvia, and Poland this year and was able to see some pretty amazing places, when he wasn't stuck in an office.  He also is the Scoutmaster, our boys’ baseball, soccer and basketball coach, and Quinns personal travel system.  He willingly carries that heavy baby everywhere! Ross has also made sure that we have indulged in his hobby, eating great food, as much as possible this year. 
Annie is constantly running out of time!  It's amazing how chaotic life can get with three busy, growing and hungry boys.  In addition to her domestic duties, she has taken up sewing and made 10 quilts in the last four months, perfected her skills as a short order cook and is wrapping up the last of her classes to renew her teaching license.  It’s been three years since she took an early retirementand feels pretty lucky that she gets to hang out at home with her boys every day.  It is pretty crazy how fast life is flying by.
Elliott will turn 7 in January and is the smartest kid we know.  He is in a dual immersion program at school and spends half his day learning in Spanish.  He loves school and his teachers.  He is the nicest boy, is almost as tall as Rossmom and takes good care of his little brothers, especially Quinn.  He is a hard worker and a fantastic reader.  He is always hungry, a good little athlete, playing baseball, soccer, and basketball and he loves to swim, ask questions, and play Star Wars Angry Birds on his Kindle. 
Wyatt is 4.5 years old and a pretty good kid.  He is in his second year of preschool, is learning to read like a wild man, and is pretty athletic himself playing t-ball and soccer. He is obsessed with all things Lego and Star Wars and hums the "Imperial March" as he walks around the house.  He loves to watch movies and eat cheetos, is always willing to sit on your lap and has an infectious laugh.  He regularly surprises us with his insights, knowledge and great feats of tattle-telling.  He is also a great brother and when he isn't trying to annoy Elliott, he is being a best friend to Quinn.
Quinn turned one in September and is the sweetest baby boy in the world.  He is a walking, babbling, funny little kid with a unique personality.  We don't know what we would do without him to entertain us every single day.  He always wants to be outside, loves to eat books (yes, eat themwe sometimes read them, too), play with dinosaurs and watch Sesame Street videos on YouTube.  If he could, he would live in the bathtub.  He loves his dad and his brothers the most, which is probably as it should be.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy Birthday to my little Brother!

Man Alive!  I was looking through some old blog posts the other day and found my "happy 13th birthday, Willie" post.  Elliott was almost one when you turned thirteen and today, you are nineteen.

Blows my mind that you've grown up.  You still meow at us on the phone every once in a while, and were reminded on Christmas day that you used to call your bathrobe that Grandma Huber had given you, your George Foreman, but you also have adult conversations.  And eat salads.

This past year has been so great for you.  SB Pres., valedictorian, region champs in football and basketball and a decent showing in the region/state tennis tournament.  You were the outstanding senior male, were academic all-state in three sports, and you were on TV rapping with Big Buddha.

This fall in particular, I have so much loved having you as my brother.  My children adore you and something has clicked in little Quinner's head....he loves you the most.  He will sit on your lap for hours.  And me?  It's been so much fun having you show up at our house all summer and this fall to hang out, take the boys hunting Sasquatch at the lake, and meeting you at the bookstore to get Christmas Eve presents.

Mostly though, I am so excited for you to leave on your mission.  It's sad, that you'll be gone for two whole years - there is so much that you'll miss of us and we'll miss of you.  But!  But, the experiences you are going to have in Lithuania will be amazing!  You will be as good of a missionary as you are uncle and little brother.

The most fun I've had in a very long time was the road trip we went on after Thanksgiving.  Haley and I were talking about how, because of our age gap, you just missed out on a lot of stuff with us - even though you've done a lot of stuff too.  But, being able to take a whirlwind trip to the ocean, just the three of us, was the best mission send off I hope all three of us could ask for.  I hadn't laughed so hard , had the music so loud, or sang along so much in ages, and you and Haley are, and will always be my best friends.

Happy Birthday Willie!

We all love you very much!

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Christmas Blur

Christmas Eve was nice.  We had a great day at home and a nice evening at my grandpa's house.  It was a smallish crowd, only 30 people or so, and pretty much just my mom, her sisters, and their families.  We had a good program.  I sang with Haley and James and Willie in the family band, and we had a good nativity program as well.  My only contribution to the feast was chocolate fudge, but it was really yummy.

Christmas day was nice, too.  It was LONG, but it was nice.  We started our morning, Wyatt and I, having to get everyone else out of bed.  My whole life, I've been the first one up on Christmas day and I was the first up this year, too.  I got up at 5:30, showered, and just waited for someone else to be interested.  Our gift opening at home was frenzied and frantic, just as it should be with three small boys.  And, we even had time this year to skype with Ross' family in Arizona before we started on the days adventuring.

Our first stop was my Aunt LeeAnn's for Christmas brunch.  Almost everyone was there, the food was great (oh, scones!) and the gift opening speedy and festive.  I love to be in a big group laughing and having fun.  Once we left my aunt's house, it was a quick stop at the only open gas station in Roy for one of many diet cokes for the day, and then off to my parents.

There, we opened more presents - my mom is too generous - and hung out in our Christmas hangover waiting for my sister and her family to arrive from her in-laws home.  All the natives under 7 were pretty restless upon her arrival so we hurried some more and then headed out to my grandpa's house.

By the time we arrived, everyone was gone, the house was quiet, and the tree was glowing.  I've never been to my grandparents house so late on Christmas day before and it was kind of nice.  The stillness was appreciated after a frantic day.  The kids opened a few more presents and then finally, we were headed home, about 11 hours after we'd left the house that day.

We are very blessed.  We are very lucky.  Our children are very much loved.

It was a pretty good day.

A couple of things to note:
1 - Wyatt wore his new "go Utes" shirt that he picked out himself.  We didn't realize until halfway through the day that his new shirt was a girls shirt with ruffle sleeves.  We chose not to tell him, but to just not remind him to take his jacket off the rest of the day.

2 - Grandma Judy gave the big boys noisy guns.  Quinn had a cow because he didn't have a noisy gun.  My mom sent Willie downstairs and he brought up a third gun, for Quinn.  There was no point in getting him "age appropriate" gifts....all he wanted were the things his brothers had.

3 - 2013 was the year of the Lego: Chima, Star Wars, Ninjago and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  And, this year, Elliott can build everything all by himself, which is pretty cool.

4 - Wyatt got a fart gun from Santa Claus.  He's been running around holding up to people's butts and laughing for days now.

5 - I gave nearly all homemade gifts this year.  I made 9 quilts, 10 pillow covers and countless other things.  Not too sure how all my gifts were received, but I thought that they turned out nice.  I think I spent between 50-80 hours sewing from the beginning of August until the first week of December when I finished my last quilt.

Monday, December 23, 2013

'Tis the Season....

For lots of sugar....

Early present opening......

Blurry picture taking......

Watching new movies (the sandlot) with real people and new words.....

Tasty treats and gifts to and from neighbors.....

And lots and lots of present wrapping.

It's also the season for daily list checking and rechecking and daily mental breakdowns (me); sick kids (Elliott); greedy boys (Wyatt), crazy babies (Quinner) and dads who don't go to work, but don't really know what to do when they are at home.  There have been and will be more tears shed.  I miss my grandma's terribly and nearly every time I've wrapped a present in the last few weeks I've cried.  Wrapping my grandma's hundreds of presents every year was something I always looked forward to.

We've watched all our Christmas movies and the advent calendar is almost finished.   All our parties have been held, hosted, and attended.  The gifts are wrapped, charities have been donated to and neighbor gifts have been delivered.  I've wavered between thinking we've gone overboard with too much to thinking that we don't have enough, and adding a couple extra things.

I read in a book a few weeks ago, that Christmas is hard for women.  We all want to create those perfect movie moments for our families so we go out of our heads to prepare: food and gifts and wrapping and generosity and "over the toppedness", just to make sure our children, husbands and other family members are in sugar and toy comas and dancing with sugar plum fairies.....all that work just to let the credit go to Santa and his elves.  And we end up curled on the couch, wishing for a xanex at the end of the day.  Or maybe that's just my Christmas wish.  (kidding.......)

It's okay though.  I love to give gifts.  I like to get them, too, but I love to give them.  I'm so excited to give my gifts this year.  Hopefully, they are well received.  So dumb to worry about such things, but I do.   And I'm excited to see my boys faces on Christmas morning.  Hopefully Santa won't disappoint.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 16, 2013

These boys!

Happy thanksgiving from the monsters and our messy house.

These boys of mine!  I tell you what...the closer we get to Christmas the more wild they get.

The big boys mailed letters to Santa.  They got letters back from the North Pole on Friday night in the mail.  Pretty exciting!  Elliott took his letter to his dad and said, "Dad!  These letters are not in your handwriting OR in mom's handwriting.  They must REALLY be from Santa."  I do not, in fact, know who they are from either.....so they must be from Santa, too.  And Santa has very feminine handwriting.

Every morning while driving Wyatt to school we drive past the Oquirrh Mountain Temple, and just south of the temple, in the dirt, is a large, long, bright orange tube sandbag.  It's been there since the summer, probably protecting a drain, or trying to direct water run-off somewhere else.  Anyway, Wyatt sees it every single morning and tells me, "mom, the worm is still there."  I tell him, every morning, that I think it's an orange sandbag.  He kindly disagrees and tells me, "Mom.  I'm pretty sure it has a head.  It's a worm.  Maybe though, it is so big it cannot really move so good."  Then, I ask him why it doesn't go underground to get out of the snow.  He simply says, "Maybe it likes the cold."

Quinner Quinner Chicken Dinner is officially walking everywhere as of about 2 weeks ago.  Walking is pretty liberating and it's saving his pants.  I've been mending holes in knees like crazy so now that there is no more crawling, the pants will survive!  He is such a funny kid, but lately he has figured out how to blink, loves to mimic anyone and anything, and is super into all animals, but mostly dinosaurs.  On Saturday night, Ross was trying to put Quinn to bed and it wasn't working.  He'd had a long and late nap, and the other boys were already out cold, so for a father and son activity they turned the tv on to find a movie.  Ross found Jurassic Park, right before the T-Rex attacks the little jeep things.  That boy of mine, who doesn't know what fear is, apparently hooted and hollered and made roaring sounds at the tv.  And shortly after the little frilled dinosaur ate Newman, he fell fast asleep.

Christmas cannot get here soon enough and I cannot wait to see their overwhelmed and emotionally charged faces all day long.  I can however, wait for the meltdowns that also come with Christmas.  I'd prefer to skip those all together.

Friday, December 06, 2013

2002 caught up with me at the gym

Me, high school teacher, circa 2002

In 2002 I was a high school history teacher.  I was still pretty new and still figuring things out.  And, perhaps most importantly, I was still very young.  I was 23-24 and my students were 16-17...there wasn't much of an age gap there.  Every year that I taught high school, there were always one or two young men who, for whatever reason, be it the way I taught, the things I said, the music I played, or because I tended to wear tight sweaters,  took a fancy to me.  It was always easy to spot the kid with the crush.  He was always in my classroom before or after school.  He wasn't the best student, but did okay in my class.  He tried to hangout in my room while ditching other classes.  He figured out when my birthday was and gave me a small gift or note.  He tried to call me by my first name instead of my formal "Ms. Petersen".

Anyway, in 2002 there was one of these boys.  He fit the bill and was sort of a shadow.  He struggled a bit, was sort of a Gothic wanna be without much of a crowd of his own.  Nice kid though.  Never one to assume that I was high school boy crush worthy, it was obvious by the way he'd look at me, the occasional inability to finish a sentence when talking to me, and the hand written notes in a book about slavery that this kid liked me.  The truth came out though at spring parent teacher conferences when he came with his mom and she looked at me, looked at him and said, "Oh, this is the teacher you think is hot!"  He turned purple.  His mom smiled.  I pretended not to hear.

Anyway, fast forward ELEVEN YEARS!  Monday night I was at the gym, working my way through the circuit my trainer had given me for the week.  Yes, I have a "trainer" now, but that's another post.  Anyway, over by the free weights I saw this kid staring at me.  Really staring at me.  It took me about two minutes to realize that, though he was bulkier than in high school, it was this kid.  The kid with the mom.  Now, because I'm an awkward social weirdo, and because I don't like to talk to people, and because he was a former student, once I'd realized I knew him, I made a beeline for the other end of the gym.  Complete avoidance was my goal.  But, out of the corner of my eye, it was obvious that not only was he still staring, but he was sort of following me around the gym.

There was no way to escape.

As I finished on one my last machine and headed to a treadmill, headphones blaring looking at the floor, I walked past him.  He jumped up behind me and grabbed me by the arm.  I could tell that he knew who I was and that playing dumb wasn't an option.

We had a conversation.  It was awkward and a little uncomfortable.  He looked at me, even with me being sweaty and zitty and no make-up on, just like he had in high school.  He asked, "Are you married?"  "Yes, very happily for ten years with three boys!" I replied.  He asked if I still taught, if I lived near the gym, ("Do you come here often?  I've never seen you before.", he said) what my husband does for a living....you know, small talk trying to sound grown-up.  He told me about his life - he's a police officer at the jail, lives alone with his dog, but that he has a girlfriend....

Who is 34. (about my age.) Then he said the kicker....."If my girlfriend knew I was at the gym talking to my old high school history teacher, she might come find you and beat you up."  Um...huh?  That either means that his girlfriend is a man,  that she's very protective of her boyfriend or that he has talked about me and that she knows who I am.

After about 10 minutes of awkward I bowed my way out of the conversation and ran a mile on the treadmill to clear my head.

I'm not sure I want to go back to the gym.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

#siblingagogo13 :: Food

I grew up in burgers and fries family.  I am still a burger and fries girl.  Probably, if it wasn't embarrassing or strange or super unhealthy, I'd eat a hamburger every day.  My husband is a ham sandwich and pickle person.  He likes deli's and all that stuff and when we go to Crown Burgers, he gets chicken kebab's and rice, not a burger and fries.

But, throughout our marriage, food has become just as important part of a vacation as the location and the company.  That being said, I cannot tell you the last vacation I went on where I intentionally ate at a big chain restaurant.  I like to keep it local and new.

On our way to the ocean, our first stop was "Swig" in St. George for dirty diet cokes and sugar cookies.  My first experience with a dirty diet coke didn't win me over...there was too much coconut, perhaps?  And not enough lime that I could even taste it?  And, the after burn tasted like what sunscreen smells like.  I'd be willing to try it again, but with my own ratios.  The cookies though?  They were pretty great.  We each got two, sugar and chocolate chip, and snarfed them down pretty quickly.

My first dirty diet coke...tasted like sunscreen.  #siblingagogo13

Next up was the food highlight of my trip.  Raising Cane's in Las Vegas.  I know, it's just chicken fingers but until you try them, and go back for seconds and thirds, then don't mock.  There are about 6 Raising Cane's in Las Vegas and we hit one on the way to the ocean and one on the way back home.  Divine.  Melt in your mouth.  Tastes like real chicken.  And, the Texas toast is heavenly.  I would actually be willing to drive to Las Vegas just to gorge myself at a Raising Cane's.  I would even eat there twice in the same day!

Raising canes.  My most favorite place ever to eat! #siblingagogo13 #roadfood

By the time we got around to being hungry in California on Friday night, pretty much everything was closed.  It was late.  But, the manager of Johnny Rockets (who was closing up) told me of a small local burger place just a few blocks over on Huntington Main Street called, "Bomb Burger".  It was excellent.  I got a bacon BBQ burger and the skinniest, cutest, tastiest french fries I've ever had.  It was, well, the bomb!

Late night post hunger games burgers! #siblingagogo13


On Saturday morning, thanks to the recommendation of my friend Erin, who used to live in Huntington, we had breakfast at the Sugar Shack.  Breakfast really isn't our thing, but this place was awesome.  Giant pancakes, great bacon and amazing hash browns.  Locally owned and operated since, like, 1967, the kid that was our server looked like he came to work straight from surfing, and was a pretty authentic beach bum.  The service was fast and it was tasty.


Our final real food destination of the trip was a pretty regular spot for us.  Ruby's Diner on the Huntington Beach Pier.  We love Ruby's.  The food is yummy.  The atmosphere is cool and they bring your milk shakes BEFORE you food!  Who doesn't like that.  I got a salad, Willie a grilled cheese, and Haley a burger.  We each got laughing to hard during dinner that our waitress came to ask us if we were okay.  And, we made Willie put dinner on his debit card.  It was the first time he had ever done that, and the first time he had to calculate a tip.  We were so proud of him!


Wednesday, December 04, 2013

#siblingagogo13 - the ocean


My mom, brother and I have a fascination with the ocean.  I could sit on the beach all day long and watch the waves, the surfers, the kids in the sand.  Hunting for seashells is one of the most relaxing activities around.

My sister, she doesn't love the ocean so much.  She and I share an irrational fear that if we get much wetter than our ankles, a shark will jump out of the water and eat us.  But, she humored us, and spending hours sitting on the beach, had a great nap and read on of the first books she's read in years.


The whole point of our road trip was to see the ocean.  Willie wanted to play his ukulele on the beach.  I wanted to sit somewhere beautiful without anyone asking me for anything.  I think Haley wated a nap.  And she got one.  Our hours on the beach were excellent.  In all the trips to California I've taken in my life, I've never been able to spend some time just hanging out at the beach.  Isn't that crazy?  The beach is wonderful.  In my lawn chair, with my diet coke, my shells, and my brother's ukulele.  The three of us hardly talked on the beach, we were just there.  We took turns guarding our stuff to walk through the surf and watch the surfers wipe out.  The beach is a pretty good place to watch people.  A good place to relax.  A good place to have your hair go all frizzy crazy and never look back.

And a pretty good place to get sand in your toes.  If getting sand in your toes is what you're after.




Its like that Jack Johnson song...sitting, staring, playing, reading... #siblingagogo13

And a beach sunset?  That's a pretty spectacular thing.  Even if you almost miss it while trying to find the beach again and have to get your sister to stop, dump you out of the car to go and watch it while she circles in a parking lot.  A good sunset and a good sister.


Tuesday, December 03, 2013


I got an e-mail from my brother back sometime in October.  He asked me if I was feeling adventurous and wanted to fly with him to see our favorite band, Guster, perform in New York City some special commemorative concerts, over Thanksgiving weekend.  He said we could fly, see the show, and then just sleep in the airport and head back home on the next available flight.

At first, I said sure.  But then after checking the price of airfare, trying to find tickets from third parties for the sold out shows and insisting on staying in a hotel it was obvious that the plan wasn't going to pan out.  So, I e-mailed him.  I told him that I'd give him the weekend and asked him where he wanted to go.

He said: The Ocean.

After a week or so of plotting, we told Haley about our plan.  After a little more convincing, she was in and #siblingagogo13 was born.

Haley and Willie met me at my house at 6:00 am (I'm so thankful for punctual siblings!) and we were off on our adventure.  With as few stops as possible, we made it to the ocean on Friday night, just in time to see the sun setting.  We stayed at the Shorebreak Inn right off the pier on Huntington Beach and with our balcony door open, could feel the ocean air and hear the waves crashing on the beach.

It was one of the best trips I've ever been on.  I cannot remember the last time I laughed so hard, or sang so loudly to the radio.  I love my sister and brother so much.  They are two of my bestus friends and, especially with Willie leaving in a few months for Lithuania, the timing couldn't have been more perfect.  It's funny how, when the three of us are together, we just sort of flow.  We all like enough of the same stuff, and enough of the same food, that there aren't a lot of questions.  We just get up and go and everything worked perfectly.  We couldn't have asked for a better weekend - weather, traffic, company, food, surfers.

So much fun.

Totally worth driving all day. #siblingagogo13

My own personal ukulele concert with the sound of waves #siblingagogo13

We went to the ocean after it closed.   It closes at 10 in case you didn't know.  #rebels #siblingagogo13

Monday, December 02, 2013

Quinner :: 15 months

He will eat the whole bowl all by himself!
Hi Baby Boy!
Big news this month?  Well, you broke my Digital SLR camera a while back.  The fix-it-shop couldn't fix it so now I have a broken camera and my phone.  Sufficed to say, there hasn't been that much documenting going on lately.
Let's see what I can think of.
You are really good at using a spoon and a fork.
You like to eat pizza and pears and  three scoops of ice cream with crackly syrup and get mad when we cut things up to make them smaller....you only want big kid sized pieces.
More animal sounds, however subtle, are coming out of your mouth.  Dad, Grandpas, and Uncle Willie are all "Dad", and the girls are pretty irrelevant.
You are pretty much walking.  If holding someones hand, you could walk a mile really really fast.  On your own, it's limited to about 12 steps before you give up and start crawling, but, you can do it.  Yeah!  We are proud of you....we just need a little more bravery. 

#familytraditions.  Weve been sitting in the same seats for like, 30 years.
Basketball season has started for the Runnin' Utes and you have been a bit of a bear at the games we've been to so far, but it's okay.  I'm not sure if it's harder to carry your 30 pounds freestanding or you in your bucket car seat like we did last year, but you seem to like the games because there is a lot to look at and all your favorite people are there for you to hug and climb on.
You love to fight light sabers with your brothers and chew on toothbrushes.  Lately, your favorite game is to have Elliott and Wyatt copy everything you do and it's pretty amazing the stuff your one year old brain comes up with.  I've tried to get it on video, but once the camera turns on, the action stops.  But, it gets us all laughing pretty good.  The facial expressions and noises you make have always been pretty entertaining and as you get older, they seem to get funnier.
Besides stealing all my diet coke, you are awesome and life is moving along pretty splendidly.  Just wait until you see what you are getting for Christmas.  It will blow your mind.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

a few things.

At the end of August, Quinn broke my DSLR camera.  It's been in the shop for weeks now.  I'd like to have it back soon.  Next week, early Friday morning after Thanksgiving, I am embarking on a sibling road trip to the ocean.  I am really looking forward to it and hope to be able to take my camera with me.


Last week, I was driving home with the kids when my phone rang.  It wasn't someone I needed to talk to RIGHT THEN, so I picked up my phone to ignore the call.  As I was setting it down, some evil obnoxious people sped past me waving signs out the window and screaming at me and everyone else on the road to stop texting while driving.  They had a small child in the back of the car.  The male driving was also doing the same thing to cars driving past on his side.  I wasn't texting and had my phone in my hand for about 10 seconds.  When we approached the next stop light, and I had the opportunity to pass them, I flipped the woman off.  It just felt right.  I really dislike agenda people and I was on the way home from the dentist so I literally had a bad taste (and a little grainy dentist grade toothpaste) in my mouth.

Well, my response obviously angered the people in the car, and they hit the gas to catch up to me and scream obscenities and who knows what else at me with their windows rolled down and a small child in the back.  I just turned the music up a bit to ignore them.  Elliott caught them out of the corner of his eye and asked what those people were yelling about (he'd been playing on his kindle and they were so loud, he looked up.)  I told him not to look at them that they were crazy and rude people.  They were.

Because that's safe.  And their wild crazy driving to scream at me was really keeping the roads safe from all those texters.  When I got home I called Ross to tell him.  He said I should have gotten their license plate and turned them in as drunk drivers.


About 6 weeks ago, in the pit of depression about life and weight and diabetes, I rejoined weight watchers for the fourth time in 6 years.  Depending on the scale I use, and the amount of clothing I'm wearing, I've lost anywhere from 10-12 pounds.  It's a good thing.  Slow and steady.

Two weeks ago, I was selected as part of a group in conjunction with Gold's Gym and Harmon's to be part of a three month Liv-a-betes challenge.  I'll write more about it later, but it's a 90 day lifestyle, health, weight challenge and I felt like, the night I walked into the gym and saw the poster, was an answer to some pretty serious praying.

This morning, before the sun was up I went to the gym.  Not to exercise, but to meet with my trainer.  As part of the challenge, I got a free consultation with a trainer and a workout designed specifically for me.  Well, that workout kicked my butt so much more than anything Jillian Michael's or I have ever done, that after some thinking, I decided to sign up for 12 weeks, the duration of my health challenge, with the trainer.  We met this morning to talk about my plan and set up a workout time.  Saturday morning at 6:30 am.  I must have finally found the motivation to get my health act together if I'm willing to get up that early on a Saturday morning to *gasp* exercise.


Last week, I made homemade lip balm.  I think I need to open my own etsy shop.  I've got some ideas.  Just not sure how to go about getting it all up and running.

Homemade lip balm for a bridal shower take-away.  Making 30"little pots.   Way easier than I thought.  Bought too much beeswax though...anyone want some? #toomanyprojects


I decided in August that I was going to hand make as many of the Christmas gifts I'm giving this year as possible.  I can finally see the light at the end of the sewing and crafting tunnel and only have a few projects left.  I hope my gifts are well received.  I've really put a lot of time and heart into everything I've been working on.

Hopefully this is not what everyone thinks of my christmas presents this year.


On Saturday, I helped my mom and sister clean the cobwebs out of my grandpas house.  I was assigned the office and the basement.  Minus making my sister come and kill a GIANT spider, I did pretty well exploring and cleaning and finding some neat stuff, like a college math book of my grandpa's with his notes in it, some cool church history stuff, and a book of my grandma's that I should have brought home to read called, "A Lusty Wind for Carolina".  I might need to go back and grab that one.

My mom, sister @hqbing1 , and I cleaned my grandpas house today.  Lusty wind for Caroline was one of my cooler finds for the day.

Monday, November 11, 2013

when hard things get better

Around 11:30 on Saturday night, my husband returned home.  Elliot had tried to stay up for his dad, but he didn't quite make it.  In fact, he missed it by hours.  My mom and brother picked Ross up at the airport and I was waiting in bed, watching a movie.  When he finally arrived home,  I heard the garage, then the ice machine in the fridge and the bang of his giant suitcase being pulled up the stairs.  He set it down, said "Hello" (I said, "Welcome home!") and got straight to work getting ready for bed.  I sat, watching my movie, while he hustled and bustled around, as quickly as a person who had been traveling for about 20 hours could move, until he felt settled enough that he was ready for bed.

Then he talked.  But not a lot.  He was tired.  I was tired too.

I was so happy to have him home.  In the morning, as the boys woke up for the day, their excitement was hard to contain.  Of course they hoped for, and received souvenirs, but dad being home was like Christmas.

He had been gone since the previous Saturday morning.  Eight days total.  Now, eight days is nothing, especially when thinking about a traveling husband on veteran's day, a day to commemorate those who dedicate years and months of their time away from families, and even their lives to serve and protect.  My husband wasn't serving and protecting in that sense, but he was teaching and taking care of some people in Wroclaw (pronounced Rot-slav), Poland.

Now, we survived, like we always do when he is away, and thankfully he doesn't have to go away that often.  I had a lot of help from mine and Ross' parents.  Thankfully, both boys were in school and our days were pretty uneventful.  We had a lot to do, places to go and people to see.  It was, to be completely honest, one of the harder (maybe hardest in the last year) weeks I've had.  Ross left the day after Elliott and I had been knocked out cold with a 24 hour stomach bug.   Wyatt threw up a couple of times.  Elliott and Quinn had inconveniently timed and messy bloody noses.  Quinn didn't sleep at night pretty much the entire time his dad was gone.  I'd saved a week's worth of errands and projects to do on Saturday, to keep us busy and not thinking about dad coming home and not only was it a long wait, it was maybe the longest day of the week.

But, as we always do, we survived.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and we got a lot done.  The house was a mess, the clean laundry piled in stacks all over the house, but the toys were put away, the island was moderately clean, and the floors were vacuumed and swiffered.  However, survival isn't the right word.  Of course we survived, why wouldn't we?  It's something different.  Carrying on your life every day, while missing a key piece of the puzzle is hard.  It's overwhelming.  Completely and utterly overwhelming.  That's it!   There is a hole in every single day, and it's a hole that no matter how hard I try, it cannot be filled.  My boys missed their dad terribly.  I missed my husband.  I missed having someone to talk to at night before I fall asleep.  I missed that man who takes care of that crazy baby every single night.  I missed all the help that I get from him - physically, emotionally and mentally.  Talking for 20 minutes a day through skype just isn't the same.

There is that old saying, something like "distance makes the heart grow fonder".  Or is it absence?  Doesn't matter, really.  Point is, I'm glad he's home.  And being home is a blessing.  There were a few things I was nervous about while he was gone.  Not hearing the baby.  Having low blood sugar and getting in trouble in the night with no one to help.  My feet not working when I have to jump out of bed and breaking my ankle or something dumb like that.  Well, none of it happened while he was gone.  I HEARD that baby.  All night long, every night.  But the minute Ross was home, I haven't heard him since.  I didn't have any low blood sugar episodes the whole week.  And my feet?  My feet that don't work, have sharp pains (like being stabbed with a knife) when I try to get out of bed in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning?  No pain the whole time Ross was gone.  But, the pain was back this morning.

My little family is blessed.  We are protected and watched over.  And for that, I am truly grateful.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Quinner :: 14 months

Hey Kiddo -

In the flustery blustery craziness that has been this week, I almost completely forgot that last Saturday, the day dad left for Poland, you turned 14 months old.  Fourteen months is pretty much thirteen months, except for the fact that you are *THIS CLOSE* to walking.

In the last few weeks you have 8 new teeth.  They all came in at the same time.  You and I have had some challenging times.  You will hold my hand and walk all over the world, but the second I let go, you drop to the floor.  You love to read books.  And eat books.  In fact, we have books in our house that are as old as Elliott, and survived your brothers but they haven't survived you and your chompers.  A couple weeks ago I had to go and buy a new copy of your most favorite animal book because you completely destroyed the one we had.

You are such a big kid.  I'm pretty sure your head is as big as Wyatt's. You love your brothers so much and enjoy nothing more than sitting on their beds with them and kicking your feet and laughing with them.  It's pretty cute.  You are pretty brave about food these days too and will try just about everything we give you.  Your favorites these days are pasta and rice and m&ms.  Halloween candy has been bad for your health.  

Speaking of Halloween, you handled it like a pro.  Riding in the stroller trick or treating, messing with the basket of candy as the boys passed it out to trick or treaters, climbing on the couch and dad all night long....all of it was your most favorite.  Uncle Willie as a GorillaSquatchBacca was a bit scary at first but in the end, you liked that too.

Your latest obsession is technology and it's hitting a fever pitch.  There are a few videos on YouTube that we watch EVERY SINGLE DAY.  You beg for phones and the computer.  This week, while dad's been in Poland, Skype is your new most favorite thing.  Every time you catch a glimpse of the laptop, you beg and beg saying, "Hi dad!  Hi Dad!" and when were talking with your most favorite person, you climb right up onto the table and pretty much do everything you can to get into the computer.  Today, dad put his hand up to the camera and you put your head up to the camera.

Head butts mean I love you.  You can say: Mama, Dad, Hi Dad, Eeeuttt (for both your brothers), Dog, and Uh-oh pretty consistently.  You can do dog, fish, squirrel, elephant, monkey sounds pretty consistently and we're working on a few more.  You can also blow your own nose which has come in very handy.

You are a good good boy.  Except when you don't sleep and mom is home alone with you.  Then there are some struggles.  But, I wouldn't trade your giant snugly squishy babyness for anything in the world.

Love you little squish.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Just for documentation sake. Or, "When it rains, it pours" or #murphys law

Let's start with last Monday, a week ago, shall we?
Elliott had school and Ross dad offered to pick Wyatt up from school.  That left me and the little one with a day to ourselves.  I was looking forward to it until we realized our dad forgot his lunch.  We took it to him.  Quinn fell asleep in the car and woke up when we got home.  That 20 minutes was his nap for the day.  The rest of the day was, "A-hem" evil.  Worst day ever being his mom.  Crying and screaming and all around bad news.  We barely made it through the day.

Tuesday:  Killed a black widow in the garage after taking Elliott to school.  Killed it with bee spray and a shovel.  Scared and itchy all day long.  (Still won't go in the basement).  Tuesday afternoon when I took Quinn upstairs to put him down for a nap, I changed his diaper, sat in the rocking chair and SPEW!  That little kid, without warning, puked all over me.  On my chin and neck.  Down my shirt and underwear.  All over my pants.  We both had to have a bath and I had puke smell in my nose all day long.  I guess he didn't feel well.

Wednesday:  LONG day, but relatively okay.  Church Halloween carnival at night.  No one was sick.

Thursday:  There were some really great things about Thursday (I already wrote about them on my Halloween post).  But there were some bad things too.  Mostly, I lost my mind and yelled and screamed, and threw away things that were driving me crazy and made my baby cry by my craziness and my big boys ran away.  Almost took a xanex.  Made tacos and cooked a frozen pizza for dinner.  No one ate.  The boys trick or treated and the day ended.

Friday:  Early in the morning, around 1:00 am, Elliott started waking up telling us he felt like he was going to throw up.  Two hours later he did, several times.  He greeted the day with diarrhea and I didn't feel so hot myself.  (He and I both ate tacos).  By about 11:30, I'd been sick all morning with the big D myself, and once I got Quinn to sleep, I crawled into bed and left Wyatt in charge.  Ross came home for a couple of hours while I rested.  He had to go back to work, and after tearful pleadings on my part, he called his dad and his dad sat with the boys while I continued to sleep and throw up, and until Ross came home from work.  The night was supposed to be a fun one, but we barely survived.

Saturday:  Our dad left us for Poland.  Some of us still didn't feel well.  It was a good but long day.  But, Quinn woke up FIVE TIMES in the night.  I only slept about 2 hours.  Not the best welcome to Daylight Savings.

Sunday:  The big boys were good and well behaved at church.  The little brother was a menace.  After three hours I thought I was going to voluntarily get hit by a car.  But, we made it to grandma's.  Two boys fell asleep on the way home.  I got some work done on my online class.  Quinn only woke up twice in the night, both times before midnight.

Monday:  This brings us to this morning.  At 6:00 am Quinn woke up.  As I was changing his diaper, I heard the all too familiar cough of Wyatt's coming from the room next door.  If I hadn't have been so tired I would have been thinking clearly and gotten him to the bathroom in time.  Instead, I  finished with Quinn, put him back in his bed and made it to Wyatt just as he finished throwing up in his bed.  Only, it wasn't vomit, it was just his usual bad lung/phlegm ball of death.  He gets them when the air gets bad and his inhaler cannot break up the goo well enough.  He finished up in the bathroom and I got his sheets off the bed just as Elliott bolted out of the darkness of his bedroom.  Into the bathroom.  His face and hands covered in blood.  He wakes up with bloody noses every once in a while and I guess this morning was one of those mornings.

All this happened in 15 minutes.

But, everything (knock on wood) seems okay now.

It cannot get much worse.  Right?  RIGHT?

Friday, November 01, 2013


Not much to say, it was just Halloween.  One of MY least favorite days of the year, but one of my children's favorites.

We paraded.
We made emergency Chewbacca bandoliers.
We frosted sugar cookies.
We coughed and whined.
Mom had the biggest mental breakdown she's had, maybe all year long.  It was a doozy.  I should have sold tickets.  It was a great show!
We trick or treated with our very own GorillaSquatchBacca.
We passed out a lot of candy.

One of us was coughing so bad it was like he was a barking seal by the end of the night.  Wyatt isn't going to school today.

One of us was up all night long throwing up and diarrhea-ing it up.  Elliott isn't going to school today.

One of us is really grump.  Quinn isn't going to school today.

Another one of us has a horrible stomach ache, is drinking a diet coke for breakfast, and is praying to make it through the day.  Annie is nervous that no one is going to school today.

The fifth of our five was up all night with a puker, packed a suitcase for a work trip to Poland, emptied the dishwasher and made his lunch and as usual, feels fine and wonders what's wrong with the rest of us.  Ross is lucky he got to leave the house today.

Anyway, here are the pictures.  Hopefully your Halloween was less eventful.

The force is strong at our house. Anakin,  luke as an x-wing pilot,  and yoda. #Halloween #starwars

Store bought cookies, homemade frosting.   Frosting with one kid now and thr other when he gets home from school.

Halloween parade

Finished.   Good thing I had *nothing* to do today.  #lovemybrother #bestsistertodayonly

We added a gorillasquatchbacca to our trick or treating fun tonight. #scaredbaby @willie_petersen44 #bestuncle

Cutest #yoda ever #starwars #starwarsjusticeleagueunite

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Baking class

A couple of weeks ago, almost a month, really, I was asked if I would host the oldest group of young women in the ward for a baking night.  I had signed up on a sheet at the beginning of the year to offer to work with the girls and their leader took me up on the offer.

I was a little excited because one, I love to bake; two, I love to be in charge; three, I made the girls cute little aprons because I'm now an obsessive sewer.

Anyway, when the night finally got here, back in September, Ross had mutual and was with the boys.  My mom and dad came out to our house, got all three boys and took them on an adventure.  To the mall.  They rode the escalators, got a Mrs. Field's cookie and rode the little train around the main level.  A win-win for everyone.

At our baking night we made three things all at different levels of difficulty.

Teaching a baking class tonight.  I'm excited.   On the menu: nutella filled pastries, pumpkin chocolate chip brownies and cookie dough truffles

Easy: Nutella filled puff pastries
Intermediate: Chocolate chip pumpkin blondies
Hardish:  Chocolate chip cookie dough truffles.

There were four girls and two leaders who were able to come and the girls really did a good job baking up a storm in my kitchen.  Thank heavens also for my double ovens.  They came in pretty handy.

While our stuff was baking and chilling, we sat down at the table and had a little lesson about what different ingredients in baking do to your creations and why it's important to follow a recipe before you start to modify a recipe.  We also talked about writing your own recipes.

It was a lot of fun.  I had a great time.  I'd love to do it again.

My students for the night

Bowling isn't for babies

This past weekend it was UEA break.  That means no school for anyone on Thursday and Friday and Uncle Willie had fall break which gave him the entire week off.  When I asked Elliott what he wanted to do with his days off of school he only had one request.  To go bowling with Uncle Willie.  So, we scheduled our "play date" and on Wednesday as soon as we picked up Elliott from school, we headed to "All-Star Lanes" to bowl.

With a bunch of old ladies.

It was apparently the end of the old lady league afternoon and once the 55 and older crew headed out, we had the whole bowling alley and arcade to ourselves.

We had so much fun.  And, we will definitely go back.  It was the cleanest, brightest, bowling alley I'd ever been to.  How do I know?  Because Quinn kicked off his shoes and in nearly two hours of crawling around, his socks did not turn black.  Ten minutes of crawling at church turns his socks into a black mess so this was a pretty big deal.  And, they even had bowling shoes small enough for Wyatt which made his day.  And they were Velcro, which mean he could do them himself.  Even better.

What was a bigger deal?  Even though they had bumpers in to keep their balls out of the gutter, the boys both beat their Uncle in bowling.  It was pretty funny, especially considering that Elliott is left handed and everything he does is a little out of whack and considering Wyatt cannot lift a bowling ball and even got it stuck in the gutter a few times...with the bumpers in place.

Quinn had a great time, too.  He spent most of his time in the arcade, crawling around and pushing all the buttons on the wheel of fortune game he could reach.  He also tried, almost successfully, to pick up a 14 pound bowling ball.  That kid is super human I tell you what.

Anyway, we had so much fun.  As THE MISSION approaches and our time with the big skinny uncle is fading away, we want to spend as much time with him as we can.  Bowling was a pretty good way to spend an afternoon and nothing makes me happier than seeing that almost 19 year old brother of mine spending time with my crazy boys.

We went bowling

Please note that I, the fat mama was the overall winner at bowling! And that the nephews beat @willie_petersen44 who was off his gamr because hes too skinny

Someone was more interested in the arcade

Thursday, October 17, 2013

My baby loves me!

I am the best pillow ever!  #lategram #30poundbaby

I've been super tired lately.  It probably has something to do with the fact that I'm never in bed before 11:30 these days and I'm usually up around 6:30.  And I have three young children.  And my house is big and messy.   And there is a lot of laundry to do.  And, because I've decided to make almost all the Christmas gifts I'm giving this year and that takes a lot of time.  And, because I'm taking two online classes right now.  And, and and....

Anyway, it's been one of those weeks where if I get the chance to sit down, and it happens to be quiet, I'm out like a light.

Yesterday after we got home from dropping the brothers off at school, I sat down in a chair next to Quinn's box of toys to watch him play.  And I fell asleep.  I couldn't have been out that long but I woke up to the feeling of my hand being patted.  Upon opening my eyes, that sweet little baby of mine had brought me his blanket, it was on my lap, and he was rubbing my hand like I rub his when I rock him to sleep.  When I looked at him, he smiled a sheepish little smile, laid his head on my lap, and then crawled off to keep playing with his toys.

Man alive!  I love that kid.

Monday, October 14, 2013

some people say they look alike.

My boys are clones.  They look like each other.  They look like brothers.  They also look a lot like their dad.  Like, often an uncanny resemblance of their dad.

Case in point.

My super sessy husband circa 1997.  Senior in high school.  Debate team.  Model UN.  Giant glasses.

#tbt  one more.... #lovehim  #mydebater #modelun

My one year old.  At the fabric store late one night last week.  Wearing my moms glasses, which look giant on him.

Babies in glasses are the cutest

Monday, October 07, 2013

Foodie Sunday

I may get struck down by lightning for saying this, but I do not like General Conference Sunday.  I am a creature of habit and routine.  A day where everyone is sitting around without routine, in their jammies just doesn't work for me.  My boys are crazy like caged tigers, fighting and yelling and burping and farting and throwing and crying.  My husband just wants to watch football all day.  I do not like sitting at home and being required to watch church on tv.  I would rather go to three hours of church instead.  In our house, the television is hardly every on and yesterday it didn't get turned off.  I guess to most it's not a big deal, but yesterday I felt like I was in the eye of a tornado hurling me towards a sever panic attack.

But, we had good food.  I figured that since we were going to be home all day and since my mom wouldn't be holding our weekly Sunday dinner that we at least should eat well.  And well we did eat.

On Saturday I made caramel popcorn with one of our new favorite recipes and Ross, Elliott and I devoured nearly three microwave bags worth of the delicious corn in a matter of minutes.

For Sunday, we decided to do a brunch of liege waffles.  These bad boys are my new obsession and we've had them two weeks in a row.  They are so filling and yummy and absolutely rich and decadent that I think I'm good for a month or two.

Wyatt and I had ours with Nutella and berries and whipped cream.  Ross had his with fresh peaches and cream.  Even though Elliott loves them, he chose not to eat his yesterday and starved until dinner.  

For dinner, we had another one of our favorites.  It's a copycat recipe for the California Pizza Kitchen Lime-Tequila pasta.  It's also absolutely rich and decadent and I ate so much I got a bit of a stomach ache after.  But, when you only eat it 3 or 4 times a year, it's okay to indulge.

And for dinner?  Tequila-lime pasta with chic k en and tri color peppers (and spinach fettucine).  Only make it 3 - 4 times a year bc its so rich and I eat too much but *hot damn* its divine! #heavycream

Yes, our day was spent in heavy cream calorie heaven. Almost makes up for the tornado.

Quinner:: 13 months

A Howden babe with his Howden pumpkins.  We grew 10 in our backyard and gave 3 to grandma

Little squisher, you've been one for a whole month, can you believe it?  It's pretty exciting and it was a busy four weeks.  We've got a lot going on in our house right now, especially on Thursday after school, but minus a strong dislike for being buckled into your car seat, you seem to take it all in stride.

When you come into a room that I'm in, you say, "Hi mom!".  When your dad gets home from work, you say, "Hi dad!".  When trying to get either brother's attention you yell, "Eeeeyutt!"  That works for Uncle Willie, too.  When you are headed out on your own exploration mission you crawl a few feet away, turn, look at me and wave, then head on your adventure.

You can do the actions for itsy bitsy spider and know the sounds (even though you won't always perform them) for: dog, fish, snake, and squirrel.  You like to dance to music, bang pots and pans, and read books.

When all is quiet this is where I find him.  Surrounded by all the books hes pulled off the shelf. #lovehim

Oh, the books.  There is one shelf of kids books in the family room and every day, at least six times a day, you get yourself to the shelf, pull all the books off, and will sit for 30 minutes or so looking at all the books.  A couple are your favorites and it's fun to watch you.

We don't worry about you on the stairs anymore, even though you did fall on Friday.  Minus that, you can go up and down by yourself with ease.  You can go Grandma's stairs, too, so that's pretty good.

A couple of weeks ago, you were being grumpy at me so I grabbed my phone, or kindle (can't remember anymore) and opened up YouTube to show you a Sesame Street video.  Well, I've created a monster (just like Elliott when he was your age) and if you see a phone, or a computer, or anything you think should play one of your shows, you have a cow.  The last week in particular has been pretty bad and I've had to leave the computer put away and off, and only look at my phone when you are asleep because you go nutso.  And, two weeks ago at church, we didn't make it through the third hour and dad and the boys found us on a couch in the foyer watching Will I Am sing with the Sesame Street gang.

That baby climbed all over hos dad for at least 30 minutes.   Vacuum still broken.  #farmertan #dysonwontsuck

You love your dad so much!  He is your best buddy.  When the weather is decent, I love for us to be outside when it's time for Dad to come home because you can hear his truck as soon as he pulls onto our street and your ears perk up like a little dog.  Then, as he gets closer, you go up on your knees like a meerkat and then, when he pulls into the driveway, you screech and crawl to his truck as fast as you can.  Once dad is home, you are his for the night, never too far out of his sight or too far from his arms.  He is your best jungle gym and it makes me happy.

Now, we just need to get you walking before you ruin any more pants.


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