Friday, February 22, 2008

You gotta know your maps

One thing we learned early on living in NYC, you have to get to know your map. Luckily, Manhattan is a small area, though very dense. Eventually you don't need a map, but I usually keep one handy, especially for maneuvering lower Manhattan where the streets aren't numbered. Jackson and Sydney have also learned the value of our "Streetwise Manhattan" map...we found them "studying" it the other night as we prepared for a trip to the city the next day.

The Writing on the Wall

Jake and I take turns being "good cop, bad cop" with the kids. Usually I have to be good cop after he's gotten mad at the kids, but occasionally Jake gets to be the good guy. The other night I was the first to arrive on the scene, finding Jackson had desecrated the wall with pencils. I immediately started to yell...frustrated that not only were the kids NOT asleep, but there was scribbling all over the wall and the outside of Sydney's freshly washed crib. Running into the room and seeing the excitement on Jackson's face crushed as I yelled, Jake quickly intervened and asked Jackson what he'd drawn, a rocket, and calmly explained that though it was a LOVELY rocket, we only draw on paper...not on walls. Thank goodness for Mr. Clean Magic Eraser!

Sympathetic Sister


Monday afternoon I took the kids to the park. We had an unseasonably warm day, though it rained most of the morning. Jackson rode his scooter to the park like a big boy...so exciting. When we got there, he rode around for awhile then found a friend to play "chasing and shooting" with. So they were running around and suddenly Jackson tripped, hitting his head on a step. Instantly, a goose egg popped up. Jackson cried for all of 1 minute, then wanted to continue running and playing after I promised to put a band aid on it when we got home. He was such a champ. Upon arriving home, I put on a Sesame Street band-aid as promised and suddenly Sydney was holding her head saying, "owie!" She too wanted a band-aid like Jackson's. She kept hers on until Jackson was ready to shed his. I really am so grateful that they get along as well as they do. Jackson is a real tease, but Sydney loves him anyway!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Three desserts

Over the past weekend, we have been enjoying three, yes THREE desserts. (I'm scared to go to the dr. for my next weigh-in!)

The first is a cheesecake that we made for Relief Society Cooking Club. It's just a plain cheesecake, but it was really yummy. We served it with thawed frozen blueberries (with a little sugar mixed in) on top. I really like the recipe because there's not a lot to it. I think the most unique part was the crust...it has quite a bit of cinnamon in it that gives it a new flavor.

Crust:
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs (10-12 full-size crackers)
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 lb. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

This crust does not need to be baked!


Cheesecake:
1 8 oz. package cream cheese
1/4 c. lemon juice (approx. 1 fresh lemon)
1 c. sour cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Beat or food process cheese until very smooth. Add everything else. Mix until well combined. Pour into prepared graham cracker crust. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes -- just until it is barely set. Refrigerate for a few hours or freeze until cold (30 minutes?).


The second was Jackson's birthday cake. I won't include a recipe because it was really nothing exciting, but I always love chocolate cake...and the butter cream frosting was nice and thick for decorating purposes which made it extra yummy.

The third was an absolutely sinful Chocolate Satin Pie, courtesy of my SIL Cheryl. I've made this pie about 3 times since Thanksgiving...which when you see the ingredients you may agree that it's probably not meant to be made that often. I will stress that it's worth the time to beat the eggs in separately for 5 minutes each...you need that much time for the sugar to dissolve completely and really smooth out.

Cheryl's Chocolate Satin Pie

  • 1 lb. butter (softened to room temperature)

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

  • Four 1 ounce squares unsweetened chocolate (melted)

  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 4 eggs

  • One Oreo Pie Crust (you can purchase one already made)

  • Whipped cream

  • Chocolate shavings (optional)

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy. Add melted chocolate and mix well. Add eggs, one by one, beating on high speed for FIVE MINUTES PER EGG (using a Kitchenaid type of mixer works best). Make sure all sugar crystals are dissolved; keep beating if necessary. Pour into Oreo pie crust. Chill several hours until firm. Garnish with chocolate shavings if desired. Serve with whipped cream.


Needless to say, losing post-pregnancy pounds may be hard for me this time because I've picked up some BAD habits...but how sweet it is!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Jackson's Day

We spent the day today doing things Jackson loves. Jake got up with him this morning and they put together a pine wood derby type car that Jackson got from one of his friends. (They still have to paint it...so pictures to come!) Then we ate breakfast and watched "Tom & Jerry." After he was satisfied with that, we headed to Manhattan to Max Brenner's Chocolate by the Bald Man. Earlier today I was describing it to a friend as being kind of like "Willy Wonka" for kids because they have chocolate everywhere. Funny enough, our bus boy was a little person. I'm sure people make Oompa Loompa jokes at his expense. Then again, how could a little person work there and NOT make the association.


Anyway, Jackson loves to go there because one of the desserts they have is "Urban S'mores" where they bring a little bunson burner to your table and you toast marshmallows. They serve it with dipping chocolate, raspberry sauce, and graham crackers. He had a ton of fun cooking over the fire and Jake and I had a "great" time trying to keep the kids from killing themselves with the little skewers. As documented in the picture, I was covered with "Sydney goo" by the end. We all had fun though.




After THAT, we went to Toys R Us in Times Square to let Jackson pick out a birthday present. Jake and I are wary to buy him more toys because he already has a bunch. So we wanted to get him just one thing that he'd really love. After scouring the entire store and being scared by the giant animatronic T-rex dinosaur several times, he chose a set of 4 Matchbox airplanes. Sydney and I ooo-ed and ahhh-ed over all the babies and then we came home.

The kids laid down for quick naps while Jake and I made dinner and finished the birthday cake. Jake decorated the cake again this year and I think it turned out amazingly well! Jackson was a little upset to see one of his new airplanes on the cake...concerned that he wouldn't get to play with it. But once we assured him he got to KEEP the airplane, he was excited.



Luckily, Jackson got several fun presents from his grandparents. We're grateful to them for making his birthday special!



Jackson's funniest comment of the day: After being told to take the claw Jake's hammer out of his mouth he said, "This hammer sure is making me hungry."

Friday, February 15, 2008

My baby is THREE!!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005, this fat little guy entered our life and changed it forever. I hardly remember what life was like before his arrival. I do remember getting a lot more sleep and seeing a lot more movies...but I forget the rest. It's all been crowded out by all the "wonderful" that Jackson has brought into our lives.
Jackson has such an independent spirit. Sometimes it drives me absolutely crazy. Other times, I admire him so much. He is a smart, inquisitive boy...always asking questions. Today walking home from the subway he said, "Mom, tell me about my skull and my bones and my throat." I hesitated, not really knowing what to say to that because it was such a broad topic, and he quickly added, "Tell me! I'm waiting..." I couldn't help but laugh. So I summed up something about his neck and spine and muscles and swallowing...the said..."Ask daddy." (Evidently Jake was the same way as a child so I don't feel too bad defaulting to him!)

Jackson is still my little baby. He loves to cuddle in the mornings and always tells me, "Mommy, you're so comfy." It's so strange to watch him grow up and think that someday he's going to be a TEENAGER!!! UGH!! He loves hugs and kisses (and handshakes, recently) and always asks for his "owies" to be kissed better...and thanks me afterwards, reporting that it feels MUCH better.

He's already a tease like his dad. Today he was walking in front of me really slowly on purpose and he would weave back and forth to stay in front of me as I would try to go around him to hurry him up. Such a Jacob trick!

He's a great big brother to his sister Sydney. He has loved her since the day they met here on earth. The moment he saw her laying in the NICU he exclaimed " MY BABY!" and immediately wanted to hug and kiss her. He loves to tease her but is also very protective of her, often telling Jake and I that "we have to be nice to Sydney because she's our sister" and "don't you yell at my sister!" I'm excited to see his reaction to the new baby.

Jackson has more energy than most kids I know. I'm sure this will make for problems later when he's expected to "behave" in school, but I try not to see this energy as a bad thing. I remind myself that he's passionate and happy and excited about life and I can't take that away from him.

Happy 3rd Birthday Jackson! We love you!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

I think I've overused the "I'm pregnant" excuse...but maybe by adding the "I have a 3 year old and a 1 and a half year old AND I'm pregnant" I can stretch it out a little bit longer. Anyway, I did not send out one Valentine this year. It also doesn't help that my mom's birthday is the day before and my son's birthday is the day after. I did, however, get my sweetheart a Valentine, so I guess that's what's most important. Anyway, to all those who I would've loved to have sent a cute, creative Valentine to, aka everyone who reads my blog, I'm sorry and I hope you had a great Valentine's day despite the missing greeting from us.


That being said, we did have a fun party today. Our ward playgroup usually meets on Thursdays and it's been fizzling out lately, but I resuscitated it today for a Valentine's/Birthday bash. With the help of some really great friends I was able to pull off a fun party. I brought cupcakes for everyone to frost and decorate and lots of construction paper, glue, craft scissors, colored pencils, beads, etc. for an art project. The kids had a ball! Jackson was so excited to play with his friends. He loves the little girls in our ward--Eve Rich, Hannah Thompson, Selah Barth and Brooklynn John. Today he only had 1 boy to help him with all the gals...Henry Gubler. I'm glad at this age they don't seem to care too much about gender.


After the party, the kids crashed in the stroller and I proceeded to the grocery store to get stuff to make a dinner for us and a friend in the ward who just had a baby. I had a fancy steak dinner planned but our dinner guests postponed due to a sick kid...so the steaks are still chilling and will be enjoyed on Saturday.

I made a complete spectacle of myself at the grocery store. Usually if I have the kids with me in the stroller I try to balance food throughout the stroller along with steadying a small shopping basket on my arm. Today I was already exhausted and the stroller was packed with party stuff so I decided to use the train method...meaning I pushed a shopping cart and pulled the stroller behind. I got several looks and glares and a couple understanding comments. Maybe in a Super Wal-Mart or such mega store this wouldn't be such a big deal, but my stroller barely fits through the aisles, so you can imagine the commotion I was creating. Anyway, 30 minutes later we paid for our groceries to be delivered and headed home.

Upon arriving home, I set to making dinner and the kids were occupied coloring Valentines for their dad. Suddenly Jackson announces, "Mommy, I'm dripping." Yes, his first accident since the first day of potty training. Luckily he was on a vinyl chair so the mess was easy to clean up. It was frustrating, but I sent him off to sit on the potty just to be sure it was all out. Shortly thereafter he came out to announce that he had POOPED on the potty! YAY!!! This is a milestone! I certainly don't expect this to be the end of the battle...but we've definitely gotten over a huge hurdle.

So tomorrow my #1 baby turns THREE! Amazing. But we will save all those feelings for tomorrow. A pregnant woman can only take so much! :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom!!



My mom is the most amazing woman I know. She's such a hard worker and she never does anything halfway. I always know if there is a project to be done, she will be in charge of it, making sure everything is done the right way the first time. When mom was here visiting us last time, she spearheaded the reupholstery of our couch. Looks amazing, doesn't it? Like I said...she never does anything half way. (She finished the couch cushions at home...and it killed her to leave it "undone.")

She's also the most helpful mom I know. In our family we have a running joke that my parents' house is "Rancho Relaxo" (a la The Simpsons) because when you're there, mom and dad do their best to make it a fun, relaxing vacation. Mom always asks what meals you want while you're there, she and dad love to (or at least pretend to) play with the kids...which is especially nice in the morning when we can catch an extra couple hours of sleep, they babysit the kids so we can go out on dates, and just make the whole trip to an otherwise ho-hum, small town, absolutely wonderful.

She has taught me so much. Most of it was by example because every time she tried to "sit me down" to teach me something, I usually didn't cooperate. I think I got that from her too. Anyway, through her example she taught me how to be a good wife and mother, how to be a leader, how to serve others, how to be selfless, how to be patient, how to clean a floor the right way--on my hands and knees...you get the idea.

Since we've lived in New York, my mom has come to visit us at least once a year and every time she comes I'm amazed at how much she is up for! This city is not for the faint of heart...or for the lazy. To make it here you have to walk everywhere and put up with a lot of inconveniences. She always keeps going and going...never letting me put her to shame. I love exploring the city with her because she enjoys the same things I do...just bumming around. We're both able to have fun just window shopping and walking. I'm glad she passed this trait along to me.

With both births of Jackson and Sydney my mom was right there to help as much as she could. She's stepped in whenever we've asked and we can't wait to have her here in 6 weeks for the next little one! She really has made our little family possible and I can't imagine doing it without her.

My mom means so much to so many people, but I'm so happy to be blessed enough to be one of her children. She has blessed my life in so many ways and I hope I can continue to return the favor...even if it's only sharing my funny kids with her.

After all this, you may wonder...just how old is your mom...walking all over the city like that, working as hard as she does. My beautiful mom is SEVENTY today! I'm so proud of her.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Movie Soundtrack

Lately, I've had many opportunities to ride the subway without kids and subsequent stroller to my doctors appointments in Manhattan. I've been lucky to have a really great friend who will watch the kids for me when I have these marathon appointment schedules. This opportunity has given me a chance to see New York City from a different perspective. No longer am I fighting kids or distracting others with my rendition of "5 Little Monkeys" on the train. Instead, I get to sit and listen to my ipod and people watch. New York City really is an ongoing movie if you take the time to watch, and the playlist on my ipod has become the soundtrack.

I ride the train from Brooklyn to Columbus Circle, which is at about 59th Street. This is about a 30 minute train ride, depending on delays. (Today it took me an hour and 15 minutes to get there, 25 minutes to get home.) In that time I watch several scenarios. Today I watched a couple get on, share a bagel and coffee, then the husband got off at Wall Street with a quick kiss goodbye and the wife continued on to 34th St. Interesting substitute for the morning breakfast table. I watched another woman sit down, open her mail, read a letter which made her cry, and quickly reapply her lipstick before getting off to face the world again. I'm sure she put on a strong, bullet-proof face and probably went and fired someone who had no idea that someone else set her off this morning.

I catch several snippits of people's lives that would normally be missed and I feel like I'm spying, but while listening to a random mixture of Michael Buble, KT Tunstall, Billy Joel and The Beatles, each scenario takes on a new meaning. I really could envision all of these people as characters in some movie that I would certainly pay to see and I found myself thinking of "the rest of the story" after they were long gone.

I'm sure you could have a lot of these experiences in a lot of places, but today I was grateful to be in NYC with all its diversity and find myself lost in other peoples' lives while mine was so stressful and rushed.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Successes and failures

I thought I would record a few of these today...mainly for my "journaling" purposes, but also for others to get a glimpse into our crazy life.

First of all, Jackson is doing AMAZINGLY well with potty training...well, at least potty peeing. He's not done "the other" in the toilet even once. He usually either waits till I put on his pull-up for bed or just does it in his underwear. My mother-in-law suggested making him clean out his own underwear, but he thinks that's kind of fun so we'll have to think of some other punishment.

Last night I had the guy at the laundromat come pick up my laundry and push it there in our little city cart so I could take the stroller there to do the laundry with the kids. Sometimes I continuously put off the laundry and end up having to do it without Jake's help watching the kids. So we went. All was going well...I got the kids these little ice cream bites that kept them busy while I sorted and started the laundry. Then we went grocery shopping while the clothes were drying. The kids were TERRIBLE! I've heard horror stories of kids at the grocery store, and yesterday my kids proved they can hold their own with any other terrors. Our shopping carts are smaller than in most stores so once Sydney is in the front and Jackson is in the back, there is little room for food. However, I still manage to pack it full of groceries. Sometimes the kids are ok with this, but not last night. They both cried and complained the whole time...passing groceries back and forth, threatening to drop the spaghetti sauce, dropping apples, grabbing unneeded items and putting them in the cart, knocking items on the floor, etc. It was probably really entertaining watching me, the big pregnant lady, trying to keep up with all the commotion they were causing. I, however, was not laughing.

We had the groceries delivered, which usually means I have about 15 minutes to get home ahead of the delivery guy. I thought this might be enough time to stuff all my laundry BACK into bags to be delivered home. So I set about unloading all 6 dryer directly into bags, disregarding any attempt to avoid wrinkles. Meanwhile, Jackson is running back and forth from me to the front door. Sydney is letting out her "little" Tasmanian devil screams because she wants to run with Jackson. Jackson then begins to reprimand her every time he runs by her saying things like, "stop screaming...I'm serious...do you understand me?" and "if you don't stop screaming, Jackson will spank!" Unfortunately, I've heard those words somewhere before. Not something you like to hear repeated from your kids.

By the time we got home, the guy with the groceries was waiting at the door...and the laundry was being delivered right behind us. I had to try to get both kids up the stairs, get the door open to let the delivery men in and find money to tip them both...a fun task since I'd left my wallet downstairs in the stroller. Needless to say there was a little chaos. BUT...by 7:30 last night, all the laundry was dumped on the bed to be folded...still warm, the groceries were put away, the kids were fed and in bed and the chaos subsided.

Tonight...as the kids sat in their bath and played, I quickly checked my email. (For those who've been to our apartment, the bathroom is very close to our bedroom so I can clearly hear the kids playing and respond quickly.) After about 5 minutes I hear Jackson say, "mommy, don't come find us...just keep working on the computer." Words like that usually mean..."when you do find us, you're not going to like it." So I ran in there to find the bottle of baby soap with the lid off in the bath with them and a tub of disinfecting wipes in with them...the tub filled with water and the wipes floating (Luckily, there were only 3 or 4 left.). I proceeded to try to wash the soapy sludge off them, which made them both cry because then the soap that was all over them was washing into their eyes. I finally had to let all the water out and get clean water in there...while both of them cried about their eyes. Eventually, everyone was clean and out of the tub and in jamas...and everyone is now in bed.

Awesome.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tagged again

I've been tagged by Celeste Grover, so here it is:

Rules: Answer each question about yourself, then tag 5 people by posting their names and leaving them a comment on their blog.

10 Years Ago: I was attending BYU in Provo, UT. (Making me feel REALLY old, because I feel like those days weren't that long ago!) Hmmm...1998. I don't remember much significant going on...I was probably still trying to decide what to major in, though I was already a jr. I think at that point I was still a math teaching major...then switched to Sociology/Management. I was living at King Henry and moved to the Avenues later that year.

Things On My To Do List Tomorrow: Potty-train Jackson, clean, potty-train Jackson, clean, maybe go to the park if the weather is descent, then potty-train Jackson, then clean, oh yeah--dinner (I think I forgot to make lunch), then bathe kids, read books, to bed (after potty-training Jackson one last time), then more cleaning. Oh yeah, and in any spare moment, help Jake find some law firms in CA, organize our office area, work on family photo book, do financial reports for my brother's company, and think of something to do for Jackson's birthday.

Snacks I enjoy: Diet Coke, Cherry Coke Zero (I'm diabetic, so sugar free beverages are a favorite), chocolate covered mint oreos, Honey Crisp apples, PB&J, cupcakes, frosted sugar cookies, any kind of "dough", Green & Black's Maya Gold chocolate, Grande Iced Lemon Slice (pound cake) from Starbucks, the list could go on forever...

What would I do if I were suddenly made a billionaire? I guess first we'd have to take care of all our student loans, and we'd help our families pay off all their debts so that none of us are a slave to anyone! Then I'd buy us a nice place to live in CA with a fun workspace for Jake to do projects and a place for me to buy all the crafty stuff I want! I guess we'd need a couple cars since we don't have any cars and will need at least one when we move. Then I'd probably purchase a share in an airplane so we could fly to see family whenever we want. Then we'd put the rest away into some high-yielding investment so that we and our kids and our kids' kids (etc) can live off of the interest for years to come. Oh yes...and I'd take a really fabulous vacation somewhere tropical at one of those resorts where they cater to your every whim!

3 Of My Bad Habits: Only 3?? (1) For sure going to bed too late...I ALWAYS regret it in the morning, but find so much to do at night. (2) Procrastination. (I'll write more about this later.) (3) TV -- it's such a fun escape at night to watch a show or movie or anything besides cleaning my house!

5 places I have lived: Moberly, MO; Provo, UT; Salt Lake City, UT; Sandy, UT; Brooklyn, NY

Jobs that I have had: Several office assistant-type jobs at Orscheln during high school; Membership assistant at KBYU; Data entry for some company that entered info from library cards into a computer data base; "team member" at Einstein's bagels and Eddie Bauer; 2 short stints as a summer nanny in Boulder, CO and Provo, UT; Stylist at Jungle Red Salon; Sales manager at Creating Keepsakes Magazine; Office Manager at PartNET; Currently, wife, mom, and bookkeeper for my brother's company, National Pearl.

Things most people don’t know about me: I'm pretty shy and insecure until I really get to know someone...something I developed during college, I really plan on having plastic surgery after I have all my kids...and we have the money for it, I'm an online shopaholic...I fill up several baskets at online stores on a regular basis, but never really buy anything because we're poor...and most of it is stuff I don't need...just really, really like.


I tag Cheryl, Pam, Heidi, Brittany & Tricia.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Flowers in the Dead of Winter


I can never complain that my husband isn't romantic. He has always been really great about bringing me flowers because he knows how much I love him. In our tiny apartment on the freeway, we have no living plants because I'm absolutely sure they would be covered with road grime, but tonight, we have beautiful, spring flowers! I love Jacob!!!

Children's Museum


Sometimes I forget how fun my kids are. It seems like the past month or so I haven't done much just for them. We've been so consumed with dr's appointments and just the day to day stuff that I haven't indulged their need to be creative and imaginative and just be kids.



Tuesday I had yet another dr's appointment in Manhattan and schlepped the kids along with me. I knew the appointment would be short and thought maybe we could do something together afterwards. Also, I like to save the days I try to find someone to watch them for those marathon days of 2-3 appointments.

After the appointment we walked 23 short blocks and 3 long blocks to get to the Children's Museum of Manhattan. We've been there before and even bought a membership because it's kinda pricey ($27 every time we go--as opposed to the $100 membership). In fact, if you recall from a previous post, it's where Jackson played with Violet Affleck! Anyway, long story short...we need to go there more often. The kids had a BLAST and we didn't even look at all the exhibits. There's one room there that has a sand table, a craft table, a puzzle table, a chalk board, a fire engine, a grocery store (for kids, with fake food), a bus, a factory, a slide, and an infant discovery zone. That's where we spent 99% of the time. We were there for about 3 hours and Jackson was literally sweaty from running around so much. Sydney loved it too. They just let loose and wore themselves out. It was so great!


I love doing things like this. It reminds me how fun and creative my kids are! Sometimes I get so caught up in the day to day crap that my life becomes about keeping them busy and entertained instead of watching them learn and grow and have fun!