Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween









Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bad Things are Happening

Here are some of the lowlights:

Every day: My little piggies went to the market--AND APPARENTLY ATE EVERYTHING IN SIGHT! I can not wear the majority of my shoes because my feet are so swollen. I know. I know. Pregnancy can make your feet bigger--FOREVER! But I am not ready to say goodbye to some really cute shoes. I hope they return to normal.

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Two days ago: After I had dropped the kids at school and was on my way to the dog groomer's, Griffin and I pass an intersection with a lot of construction going on, which is like catnip to my 5 year old boy. He unbuckles to get a better view, and as I'm turning the corner and telling him to get his hiney back into his seat, what do I see behind me? Oh, yeah. The flashing lights.

Wanna' know what's worse? When the officer asks for my license I find that I don't have it. Then I remember it's sitting on my bathroom counter. Oops...

Wanna' know what's really embarrassing? When you say to the police officer that you were just telling your son to sit back down, and say, "Didn't I, Griff?" To which your son responds with a vehement, "No."

After further questioning between just the two of us, Griff confessed that he thought he might be going to jail. I suppose that fear could make anyone lie just a little, but still. Mama could have used a little back up, son!

Wanna' know what's really irritating? When the overly jovial policeman comes back to the car and says, "Well! I have some good news and some bad news. Which do you want first?" Ugh. To which I respond, "I don't care." I may have to pull over, but I do not have to play ridiculous games.

Wanna' know that bad news? I got two citations. One for a minor unrestrained and another for having no license with me. Oh. And the "good news" he was so excited to share with me? It wasn't going to be a criminal offense. Because I didn't have my license he could "take me in, fingerprint me, and hold me until...blah blah blah" somewhere in there I stopped listening because all I could think was, "Oh, yeah. Take me, my five year old, my poodle, and my minivan down to the station, please. Because I'd love to see and all your cop buddies laugh their heads off."

Wanna' know what makes me feel really proud? I didn't cry until he left.

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A week ago: I had to be fitted for a new bra as my cups were running over, so to speak. After the woman measured me, I was shocked to hear her say, "Well, it looks like you are a G..."

After she revived me from my panic induced faint, triple D sounded quite reasonable. So now I am the proud owner of a brand new triple D minimizing bra, but apparently the minimizing portion is not working because just a couple of days ago a woman commented that I'm "really blossoming" while motioning to her chest. Boobs are waaaaay too big when they are conversation starters.

Somewhere in the future: By the end of this pregnancy you may want to invite me on any overseas flight you are planning to take. I think I may be used as a floatation device. Ugh.

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This morning: Just to make me feel better I am going to post the happiest picture I've seen in quite a while.



There. Just looking at that face makes me smile. Maybe life isn't so bad, after all.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Shhh...It's a Secret

Did you know that Disneyland has a secret? It's a little private restaurant called Club 33. You wouldn't even know it was there if you weren't looking for it. The only outside marker is a small 33 sign outside its door in New Orleans Square.


It was conceived as a private club for the 33 original investors in Disneyland, but as club members have died, their memberships have been sold or given to others.

We only found out about Club 33 when Thomas worked for a company in So. Cal. whose owner had purchased one of the memberships. Through his connection we were able to get in, and believe me it is mind blowing! Really. Gorgeous interior, amazing gourmet food--a real experience, I tell ya. (Here are some pictures I tried to take as discreetly as possible.)






When we went a month ago, we were able to get in again for lunch. After thoroughly enjoying their cold salad/fruit/and seafood buffet, the kids chose steak and chicken fingers off the kid's menu, Thomas enjoyed a delicious cordon bleu, and I dined on a thick New York steak, with mashed potatoes, baby carrots, and wilted spinach. After that how could we even think about the tempting array of delights from the dessert bar? Well, we managed.




Now as to how to get in without a connection? Sorry. That's the secret I don't know.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Favorite Recipe

The other day I taught a little cooking class, and this is one of the recipes I shared. It was a big hit, and many of the women have already tried it at home. Originally it came from Real Simple magazine, and though it sounds exotic, it is "real simple." While it's not actually a "risotto" it does a good impression, and planning ahead and cooking extra rice a couple of nights before makes this a quick and simple meal prep. Don't be intimidated by the chili paste and the coconut milk. You should be able to find them in the Asian section of your supermarket. Try it. It's Yummmy!

Chili Shrimp and Coconut Risotto
serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt (if you don't have kosher, just use regular salt.)
2 tablespoons chili paste (Careful! I cut this waaaay back or it's too spicy for the kids. Start with a couple of teaspoons and adjust to taste.)
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
4 cups cooked jasmine rice
1 cup bean sprouts
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Fresh basil leaved, for garnish

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shrimp, garlic, and salt and cook until the shrimp is pink and just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove the shrimp and set aside.
Add the chili paste and coconut milk to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the rice, bean sprouts, scallion, lime juice, and shrimp and cook until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve garnished with basil leaves.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

No Mother Ever Wrote "Don't Worry Be Happy"

Despite all the happiness that motherhood can bring, worry can feel like a momma's full time job. Lately I have been worrying whether both of my kids are getting as much love and attention as they need.

My Logan is one of those kids that needs lots of validation and words of affirmation. She asks questions like, "What would you do without me? What if God hadn't sent me to you? How do I make you happy..." You get the idea. And because she asks, it's easy to wrap her up in words of love and affection, which is good because she needs it. Like air. And I can feel that it's making her strong.

But my Griffin would never, in a million years, think to ask questions like that. He's more interested in snuggling for a moment and then insisting that I watch him jump on one foot from one couch to another. "Mom! Mom! Watch me! Did you see that? Oh, wait. Watch again. I messed up. Look! Did you see me do that? Mom!..." That's the kind of attention he needs, but I've worried lately that I don't tell him enough what he means to me; so the other night when he wandered out of bed and found his way into my lap, I took the opportunity.

I rocked him for a few moments and then carried him back to bed. I leaned down close and stroked his hair. "Do you know how much mommy loves you, my prince? I love you with all my heart."

"I love you, too," came his sleepy reply.

"What would I do without you? You make my heart happy," I continued to whisper.

"Okay...can you go now?"

Wow! Just like that, he made all that worry seem nonsensical. Clearly his little ego is doing just fine!

But as I stifled a surprised giggle and stood to leave, I was reminded that being fair to my kids doesn't mean giving each of them the exact same thing, but giving each of them exactly what they need. My job is to be wise enough to know what that is. See? Now there is something else to worry about. Looks like I'm clocking back in.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Griffin Turns 5

When asked what kind of party he wanted, Griffin replied, "A pirate bowling party."

"Huh?"

Well, here's his version:

First, purchase some pirate eye patches and earrings. Next, take a bunch of 4 and 5 year olds bowling.







Then go home and blow out candles on a spider/Halloween cake.



And finally, head out back and hit a Mexican pinata.



I'll admit: It made little sense.


But he loved every minute of it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Abstinence: What I Will Tell My Daughter

What with Sarah Pallin's pregnant 17 year old daughter, the media has been full of commentary on the failure of abstinence education. It doesn't work, they say. It's impossible, they say. Umm...(timidly raising her hand in class) I have something I would like to share. I know. It's personal, but here's my experience. Maybe it might add something to the discussion.

I was an abstinence girl. And--most remarkably--my husband was an abstinence guy. It's the LDS (Mormon) expectation that one waits until they are married to have sex. Doesn't always happen. Physical attraction is powerful, I don't care who you are. But I'm grateful that I waited. And that doesn't mean that I didn't understand the mechanics of sex, or what a condom was, or where to get one, by the way. It also doesn't mean that I was sexually frustrated or that I am sexually inhibited as an adult or a plethora of other ridiculous accusations of the abstinence set. But it does mean a lot of other things.

I'm grateful I waited. And when I talk to my daughter, I'll tell her why. I'll tell her that not once in my life have I looked back and said, "Man! I really wish I would have given a part of myself to a bunch of guys that don't mean anything to me anymore." Nope. Not once.

I don't regret not sleeping with my high school boyfriend; like those waters needed to be any more muddy, right?

And I certainly don't regret not sleeping with the guy who broke up with me because I wouldn't sleep with him. I mean, if there is a sign of true love...putting my needs above his own, loving me mind, spirit, and body...yup. That's wasn't him.

I've never once regretted not having sex with the boy in college who ended up breaking up with me and telling me I was fat. (And that was with my clothes on!)

The guy who told me he broke up with his girlfriend, but in fact was dating me on the side--you guessed it. Not sorry I didn't give myself to him. He ended up making me feel badly enough about myself without taking my virginity.

And as to the many, many boys who wanted to date me, use me and still play the field...they didn't deserve me.

Then I met Mr. Wicke. And he proved himself. He was different from all the boys I had dated before. He thought I was fabulous. All of me, and he wasn't interested in settling for the body only. He wanted it all--my heart, mind, spirit and soul included. He was willing to sacrifice, to put off his immediate desires until I was ready to commit my entire being to him, and in the meantime he earned me: He was honest, true, kind, thoughtful, romantic, and gentlemanly. Oh, it was clear he wanted me. We did some truly great kissing, but we waited, together.

And then we were married, and that night when we were alone together, just the two of us? It really was just the two of us.

The thing is, when you meet the man you want to spend forever with, you won't want there to be anyone else, but the only way for that to happen is to wait for each other, without regrets.

That's what I'll tell my daughter.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

On Prayer

Praying together as a family is a gift. Not only for the spiritual benefit, but so that a brother can hear his sister say this to God:

"...And thank you that we could celebrate Griffin's birthday, and that he could come to our family. We love him so."

Yes, such a heartfelt prayer, said aloud for all to hear, does much to bring a spirit of harmony and unity to our home. It is the best antidote I know for the normal bickering and teasing between siblings. Thank you, Father, for commanding us to pray.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Clip on Ties are Called Neckwear for a Reason

With all the bad press teenage abstinence has gotten in the last few months, I had planned to write some thoughts on the topic. However, a couple of items will keep me from it today.

First, I spent the night in agony due to the dreaded UTI. So a call to the doctor is in order today. Why do those things always strike at night?

Secondly, I feel more inclined to relate a hilariously tragic incident that happened at our house last night, once again involving the incorrigibly curious Griffin:

Having returned home rather late from a music recital, and still without Mr. Wicke who was involved in church meetings, I make a deal with the children to alleviate the common aggravation of bedtime.

"When we get in the house, if you can run upstairs and get dressed in under five minutes, you can have dessert."

"Ten minutes," Griffin finagles.

"Nope. Five minutes is plenty of time."

"Ten minutes." I'd really have to admire his tenacity if it wasn't so wearing.

"Well, you don't have to get dessert. Five minutes is the deal. Take it or leave it."

I start timing them upon entering the house. Once we get past some initial wrestling and jockeying for position at the bottom of the stairs, my plan works marvelously. Logan is back downstairs with easily three minutes to go.

"I'm done!! How much longer is there?"

"Wow! There's at least three minutes left. You were super fast!"

Immediately I hear screaming from Griffin's room. "Griff. It's okay! You still have three minutes!"

The screaming escalates. "Griffin! Stop! What is going on?!"

He attempts some kind of strangled wail that is incomprehensible for the most part except for "on me." That's all I can understand, and my mind fills in the gaps. "Scorpion!" my mind screams. Behind me I hear Logan gasp, "Oh, no." With the caterwauling continuing in a frightful manner, I run, big belly and all, taking the steps two at a time. I can't get there fast enough. My baby continues to shriek in a way that terrifies me. Logan, following close on my heels, begins to cry in empathy.

We reach the top of the stairs and round the corner to find Griffin standing naked in the hallway, and it all begins to register. I finally understand that he has been yelling, "My tie is on my pee pee" as I see that, indeed, his clip on tie is firmly clipped to the end of his personal jewels.

"What in the--Son! What did you do?"

"I didn't do it!" He howls, tears streaming down his face as I desperately try to remove the objectionable instrument with as little pain as possible, which, as it turns out, is impossible. Those clips are sturdy little buggers, I tell ya. As it finally, and unfortunately, slips off, he wails a final, "Ooooowwwww!!"

Despite the fact that he has brought this on himself, my heart breaks for him just the same, and I gather him in my arms and cover his face in kisses. "It's alright. You're okay now," I soothe.

"Gosh," Logan sighs in relief. "I thought the drawers had fallen on him."

"I know. That was scary," I fully agree.

When the crying subsides somewhat I say, "What were you thinking? Why would you put that on your pee pee?"

"Yeah," his sister demands. "Why did you do that?" Apparently this sort of behavior is way out of the realm of girlyhood.

"I didn't!" he insists.

"Griffin. That didn't get on there by itself."

"I was just standing there, and..."

"Okay, whatever. Just go get your pj's on." And as he walks back into his bedroom, that's when the absolute and undeniable hilarity of the situation hits me. I can't help myself. I begin to laugh the kind of laugh you laugh in church. The kind that is impossible to control. The kind that only gets worse when you're called on it. Logan joins in, and I desperately signal her to try to be quiet.

"It's not funny!" Griffin's dignity, at least what there is left of it, is terribly offended.

"I'm not laughing at you," I insist as I try to gather myself, but the giggle sits uncomfortably in my throat and tears burn the corners of my eyes. I can't maintain this precarious composure for long. "I need to go to the bathroom," I utter, and I make a hasty retreat where I lock the door and giggle myself silly.

But I'll be switched if getting his pj's on didn't take closer to ten minutes, and he got his ice cream anyway. Turns out, despite his unbrainy behavior, he may be a master negotiator, and I'll bet he's a lot smarter this morning about exactly where a man is supposed to wear his tie, too.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Like Barbara Streisand Once Sang: The Best Gift I Ever Got, Really Didn't Weigh a Lot...

Yesterday I turned 38. I celebrated by attending a parent/teacher conference and then a doctor's appointment. Yes. I know how to get CAH-RAZY! But there are things that need to be done despite my grand entrance into the world. And as it turns out, my doctor made my day.

First he said, "Blood pressure looks good, your bloodwork came back looking good...let's see, looks like you've gained some weight this month, but nothing to be concerned about..." My heart began to melt a little bit right there. Any man who can ignore 5 lbs in a month wins just a piece of my heart.

And then, when I laid my vulnerability in front of him by saying, "You know, I turned 38 today, and I'm just feeling a little old to be doing this..."

He said, "Oh. That's just a number. It's more about how healthy you are, how well you've taken care of yourself, and it looks like you've done a really good job."

That's when it happened. I fell in love with him a tiny bit. Not enough to give Mr. Wicke any kind of competition. No. Nothing like that. But I'll admit he sure does know how to sweet-talk a girl, and I will go to my grave saying that Dr. Huish is the best doctor in the world.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Two Tried and True

I have two 5-star tips that I ran across this weekend. Both get rave reviews from me.

The first is not my own idea. My friend, Kyle, shared this idea a few months ago at our church's women's group (Enrichment in LDS speak). This weekend I finally put it to use, and I'm so excited about it: It's a child's memory box.

What you do is you get one of those plastic, portable file holders for each child. Add hanging file folders marked: Babyhood, Toddlerhood, Preschool, Kindergarten, 1st grade, and so on. Then as my kiddos participate in activities or complete projects that are worth saving, I'll just pop them in the corresponding file folder. When they leave home, "Wa-lah!" They take their "life in a box" with them.

Here's a sample of what I've included in almost every year in addition to a few chosen photos:

That year's Christmas letter and Christmas card. (A great summary of the year, as it turns out.)
Their birthday letter (every year on their birthday, I try to write each child a letter)
Copies of Primary talks
Letters to Santa
School photo
A couple of art projects
School assignment from the beginning of the year
School assignment from the end of the year
Birthday cards from Grandparents
Team photos
Certificates of achievement
etc.

It's organized, ordered, and super easy to do. Thank you Kyle for a great idea!

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On Sunday I was pressed for time and trying to whip up a salad to take to a potluck dinner. As anyone knows the quickest salad is the Caesar since there are only 4 ingredients, one of the most important being Caesar dressing, which I quickly realized I was out of. Argh! Now what?? Thankfully my friend Shilo had shared this quick and easy recipe for Caesar dressing with me. It was a fast fix, and I was shocked at how many people raved about it. I may never buy Caesar dressing again!

Caesar Dressing
yield: 1 cup

1/2 C. Mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C. milk
1/4 C. Parmesan cheese
2 T. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk it all together and enjoy! It's delicious.

The Committee has Spoken

Yesterday I was told by a dear friend that "pregnant Laurel is funny." And I don't think she meant funny like"You should really look into being a stand up comic," but rather funny like "You might consider counseling." (These kind of conversations can only happen with people who truly, deeply love you and have a good sense of humor. She has both.) As she pointed out, apparently I have been using the word "hate" a lot. As in "I hate Halloween...I hate costume planning...I hate planning birthday parties...I hate scrapbooking...I hate soccor. You get the idea. Basically, right now I hate anything that requires a lot of extra effort on my part.

Evidently that includes calling people back because the same friend has insisted that I change my outgoing message. She says my recently recorded message sounds grouchy, and it isn't very inviting when I say, "Leave a message and we'll do our best to call you back." Look. I was just trying to be honest.

I ran that conversation past a second dear friend (I send all important information out to "the committee" you know.) She immediately laughed and said, "Well, you do have more violent tendencies."

"Violent tendencies?!"

"Well, violent is the wrong word. It's just that you don't seem to have an edit mechanism. Whatever you're feeling just comes out of your mouth."

Perhaps she is talking about my reaction at the Fall Festival when I may have said that, "I wanted to kill an old man with a plastic fork." But, in my defense, he was very rude. Or she may be referring to the incident when I purportedly said that someone was "the stupidest man I've ever met." Or maybe--and I am not proud of this--it was when I said that I may, "have to beat the crap out of my son." Again. Only honesty, folks. I defy any parent to deny that the thought hasn't at least flicked across their consciousness at one point.

Admittedly I struggle with a poorly functioning edit button on most days. And on top of that do you realize that pregnancy is causing my feet to sweat, among other sundry and unusual symptoms that I don't talk about? So, okay. People seem a lot more irritating right now. I concede that the committee may have a point. Maybe I do need to reign in "pregnant Laurel" just a bit, sweaty feet and all.

But I really am hating Halloween right now. It just seems like a lot of work. Don't tell my kids I said that, though. I think I have them fooled. (And just for the record, I'm not beating the crap out of anybody. Just so we are all clear on that.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

When a Hobby Turns Ugly

I am drowning. That's right. Over my head in pictures and memorabilia that needs to be organized. Scrapbooked. Dare I say it aloud? It's a word I have been avoiding. Somewhere around 2003 I fell apart. Before then, I was up to date. I did cute little pages; I had scrapbook supplies; I was even known to peruse the pages of scrapbooking magazines.

Then Logan began to be mobile and before I knew it Griffin came along, and then there were the years of opposing nap schedules, and two in diapers, and double the messes. Then came school and soccor and t-ball...And I became too busy living my life to document it. You know what I mean? And perhaps that's not such a bad thing, except there are too many moments I don't want to forget. Those pudgy cheeks, snuggles and hugs, firsts of all kinds. And forget them I will. This short term human brain of mine can't seem to hold the magic of yesterday for long, and before I knew it I found myself seven years behind. Seven?! Digital photos in files on the computer. Older processed photos in three large boxes in the closet. They may have been out of sight, but they certainly weren't out of mind. It was a ball and chain I tell you.

A year ago, I made a solemn oath and covenant to myself to catch up. At least get rid of the boxes. So I started. And then I took a long break. And then yesterday I thought I had finished--at least with the old processed photos. I slipped the last page into its sheet protector, shut the big black binder, and places it on the shelf next to its predecessors.

"Let's see...2001, 2002...2004. Wait. 2001. 2002. 2004?! Where's 2003???" And so it was that I found myself wading back into the boxes and discovering the lost year of photos. Organizing them and recalling when events happened took most of the day, and destroyed at least two rooms. Seriously. My bedroom looks like the remains of some kind of paperwork whirlwind. But now we are at least ready to put pictures to paper.

And it's not going to be cute, people. No. Long gone are the pages that are embellished and a showpiece. We are going after function only. We are looking to just get the job done! It's white cardstock and a black fine sharpie for me. That's all the decoration these babies are going to get. But they are going to be done. Finally. And I feel really good about it.

Until I realize that then I'll only be 4 years behind. Ugh.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Why Boys are a Little Scary

We had a crowd for dinner on Sunday which included my newest sister in law, Collette. Poor thing. She endured a crash course in getting to know us. It went something like this:

I had just set out some snacks, which for Griffin is like a homing signal. He was right up in the middle of things digging in and making conversation with his aunt.

Griffin: "My peepee moved."

Collette: "Uh..."

Griffin: "It wiggled all by itself."

Collette: (awkward pause)

Griffin: "It does that when it's hungry."

To Collette, my personal apologies. I can't explain it. Then again, I'm not sure any woman can. And that is why boys scare us just the tiniest bit.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I Smile

This morning I woke up to hear Griffin say, "Daddy, can I snuggle with you?" It wasn't long before Logan was up and dressing for school. I rolled onto my tummy thinking about the day ahead, but I couldn't help but notice the hardness of the bump in my abdomen. It has just recently begun to feel like I'm lying on a small Nerf ball. I find this changing body incredibly fascinating. The first flutter was so insignificant that it didn't even register. My thoughts were on hair and breakfast, but the second one was more noticable. "Was that a muscle spasm?" I questioned. Then immediately I felt it again. A light little knock on my tummy. And I smiled.

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As we watched the last session of our church's world wide General Conference, Logan came in and sat on her daddy's lap. She watched as I took notes, jotting down impressions and specific points to contemplate later. Then she asked, "What are you writing?"

"Oh, things that I think are important from the talks. Things I want to remember."

Before I knew it she was gone and back again with her own notebook and pencil. During the next three talks, she listened intently and chose four sentences to carefully copy into her book. After conference ended and she was off playing again with her brother, I took a peek inside. Here is what my almost 7 year old wrote:

"The Book of Mormon is the word of God. Sometimes the best things are not easy. If you are prepared you shall not fear. There is nothing the Lord cannot do."

And I smiled.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bring on the Blue



It's a boy!

And so far, he is perfect. And apparently very active. My friend, who was doing the ultrasound said, "Wow. He keeps this up, you're going to have your hands full." I'm nervous. I mean, have you met Griffin? I need another hand.