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Friday, April 15, 2016

Country Crock from Influenster

I received this product complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions expressed are my own.

Am I the only person in the universe who didn't realize before now that Country Crock is actually diary-free?! I had no idea! I've been buying a more expensive butter substitute that I do like, but not many other people in my family do. I think I'll make a lot of dinner guests happy when they have something a little more like butter to spread on their bread.

With my Country Crock sample, I decided to make a new banana bread recipe. It helped that I had two super-ripe (i.e. DISGUSTING) bananas on my counter at the time. I usually don't make this bread with a butter substitute, and instead use applesauce and honey as bonding ingredients/sweeteners.

However, I'm actually not a fan of using the honey/applesauce and sometimes end up using vegetable oil. I don't love the consistency, though, so I'm really glad the Country Crock changed the outcome of my bread for the better.

I used THIS recipe and everyone gobbled it up for dinner last night after running errands. I added a handful of dairy-free chocolate chips and it was so good. I personally don't think banana bread is worth making without the chocolate, amiright?

So if you're lactose-intolerant like me and are looking for a good butter substitute, definitely try Country Crock! I also used it to grease my bread dish because I ran out of cooking spray days ago and forgot to buy more in the two trips I've made to the store since (hashtag winning at life). Thankfully it made it easy to cut and remove big fat slices of banana bread after it had cooled. Because there's nothing worse than a perfect-looking loaf of bread that gets ripped to shreds when attempts are made to extract it.

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Salt Lake City Capitol

I got it in my head that I wanted to see the cherry blossoms at the SLC capitol building this year. Unfortunately they blew away just a couple of days before I was able to make it there with the kids.

Regardless, the day we went was beautiful! The temp was perfect and the cloud cover so nice. I knew the kids would enjoy running around no matter what state the trees were in. I've never taken Aspen inside, but she often sees the capitol from the Interstate and has asked to go in.

I invited my friend Emily and one of her daughters and we managed to squeeze in the field trip before her other daughter needed to be picked up from school and before Aspen needed to be dropped off. I'm so glad it worked out!

I think the last time I went to the capitol was in college. I'd forgotten how majestic the 2nd floor is with the staircases flanking the dome. The kids loved having so much space to run around and explore.

Linc looks so little, I can't get over it!

The hexagon tile and the hexagon doors stood out to me. It made me wish my house had all sorts of coordinating features, too.

So although the blossoms were gone, it was worth the trip. Nothing beats free, right?! And there's a lot to see for the kids. I was surprised that after nearly two hours of running around and climbing stairs, Linc refused to nap that afternoon. He was the crankiest, saddest little man for the rest of the day. Kind of a bummer after the morning started out so well.

When I asked Aspen what her favorite part of the field trip was, she said EVERYTHING so I'm calling it a win.

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Letters to Lincoln, month 22

Linky Lou-

At your well-visit last month, the doctor was incredibly impressed that you're already speaking in full sentences. I'm not surprised since your sister and your mother are both extremely chatty people, with whom you spend your days. But it's nice to hear someone else weigh in on what Dada and I think are some pretty amazing aspects of your development.

In addition to talking non-stop, you count a little bit, too. Mostly when Aspen prompts you, but also when I'm doing Pilates. You'll lie down next to me on the floor and count my reps with me, all the while swinging your legs around in a freakin' cute imitation of what I'm doing. I guess you can be my little Pilates Buddy, too!

Reading back over your sister's interests at this age, I'm remembering how she could sit and watch a show without interruption; you, however, can only stomach a few minutes of TV at a time before you either ask for a different show (you like Thomas the Train and DinoTrux when you're on your own, but will watch anything Penny's watching, too), or give up on TV altogether for something else. It's totally fine that you're not addicted like your sister, but sometimes I wish I could use TV as a distraction so I can go to the bathroom without you having a hysterical fit when I shut the door. We have finally graduated to you staying calm if I happen to take a shower when you're awake, though! That's a huge improvement over me having to wait until your nap to shower.

You're growing four new teeth right now (that I can see) so it's been a rough month for you. Your appetite has waned and you've been grumpy and sad and whiny. It's been tough, but eventually we'll get through all those baby teeth. Right now you love to eat fruit/veggie pouches, animal crackers, cinnamon and sugar toast, yogurt, raisins, corn and granola bars. You also love pears and I think you have a slight chocolate addiction. Which works for me because sometimes I tell you if you take a nap there will be a little piece of chocolate in it for you. I'm not above bribery in matters of naps.

I think there's a loop in your brain of the names of family members, and sometimes you get stuck on it. You'll just start naming my siblings and the dogs and it's really cute. Peppered in there you'll say "hmmm," and "ummm," as you go through the list. One day while I was putting clothes away in Penny's room, you sat on her bed and looked at her class picture. You called all the boys either Seth or Jose and I laughed so hard because you were calling all the darker-skinned boys Jose.

You still love trucks and playing ball and doing everything by "self." You're usually happy to attend Nursery in church and you love all the kids at work. Now whenever I say it's time to leave, you start yelling, "I'M LATE! I'M LATE!" because it's what I say every morning when I strap you and your sister into the car. You often cry when we drop Aspen at school because you want to stay and play basketball with the big kids. You'll often ask, "Linky go school too, okaayyyy?" or "Linky go dance class too, okaayyy?" and I hate having to tell you not yet. But soon! Probably sooner than we'd like, MotherBoy.

Uncle Seth babysat you and your sister for the first time at BEDTIME and he had you asleep before 8pm, which is miraculous considering from whence we came. Linc, I'm so happy you've learned to fall asleep by yourself and you're content in your crib now. It's amazing that you can lay in bed with the door open and not freak out about me leaving the room. THANK YOU BABY.

Right now you're in a big hitting and biting stage and we're working to stop that. You also pull chunks out of your sister's hair and throw epic tantrums. It's tough being (almost) two!! I'm sorry. But you'll grow out of it ;). To balance some of that out, you ask in the cutest possible way, "Mama, what you doooooin?!"

Linc, we love you. We really, really do.


See Aspen's monthly letter HERE.

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It is your birthday.

Yesterday was National Sibling Day, and while I'm not usually aware of those types of days, I paid attention to it this weekend.

My birthday was Saturday, and it was the best one I've had in a loooong time. I wasn't pregnant, sleep-deprived, sick, or depressed! That's winning!

The day before, Sophia picked up Aspen from school and took her home for an Auntie sleepover. Both girls were really excited and Sophia even had plans to take Aspen to a kids' Zumba class at her local rec center. It was great to watch the videos Sophia took of Aspen doing some of the moves and having a good time.

With Aspen gone, that meant it was just me and Linc on Saturday while Kev worked. Since he had total control over the TV, he actually sat and watched a show all the way through (usually he'll only do about 10 minutes) and I deep-cleaned the kitchen and dining room. When I told Aspen that's what I did on my birthday, she said that's okay because on my birthday I get to do whatever I want. I laughed so hard.

Linc and I were able to take Maddie on a neighborhood walk before he napped so I could do my Yoga. I've been doing it six days a week for the last two weeks and it's amazing. Having just swept and mopped the dining room, I rolled my mat onto the tile and was able to enjoy doing Yoga while looking out the sliding glass doors to my backyard. It was a gorgeous day with a breeze and it was the perfect setting for my practice.

Sophia and Jose brought Aspen back in the afternoon and they brought cake. I'd forgotten to make any treats for my birthday so it was nice someone else did it for me. And when Seth arrived my siblings presented me with the most thoughtful birthday gift (that they'd cooked up with input from Kev). All of them (Jeshua and Julia included) had pooled together enough money for me to take the 200 hr RYT training at my local community college. I was stunned. I thought perhaps it would just be a contribution toward the total I needed to have for the course, but it's the entire tuition amount. Plus my parents sent money for me to attend Yoga classes at my rec center (which I can actually do for free) and pay for the kids to be in the daycare.

Original graphic by me.

I'm so thrilled that my siblings came together and did this for me. I'm blown away. I am so grateful we have each other, and not just because they gave me a huge wad of cash this weekend. I have so much support and love from my siblings, and my kids benefit from it too.

On Saturday night Seth babysat the kids so Kev and I could have our first date in almost a year. Since Linc now goes to sleep by himself in his crib, I didn't even feel guilty about asking Seth to watch the kids during bedtime. I know Linc loves Seth and feels comfortable with him, and I also knew Aspen would be a big help in singing songs and reading books with Linc before going to sleep. They made a great team and had Linc asleep with no trouble. I do feel badly that Linc biffed it on the sidewalk right after we left and he split his lip and Seth had to deal with the mess... but Linc is none the worse for wear.

Without my siblings, I wouldn't be planning to start my RYT training this fall. I wouldn't have babysitters who I know not only put up with my crazy kids, but who fiercely love them. It is such a blessing to have them in my life.

I'm so excited to go back to school for Yoga training and to avoid feeling like it's a financial strain on me and Kev. And hopefully the certification will lead to more opportunities within the Yoga community here in SLC.

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Monday, April 04, 2016

Being Selfish

I've been working a lot on self-care lately. I'm not gonna lie, I don't feel much guilt about it, either.

Over the last few months, I've focused on giving myself time with friends without the kids in tow (play dates are awesome, but so are activities with other ladies SANS kids). Lindsay invited me to watch The Bachelor at her house this season so I recently became a member of BachNation. It was so fun to spend a few hours at her house each week watching the show with other ladies. I'd never seen it before this year but I couldn't have asked for a better mentor than Lindsay when it came to understanding the show (*insert laughing emoji here*).

I've also recommitted myself to my Yoga practice. Kev and I have talked a lot about me getting the RYT certification and I know in order to feel comfortable doing that some day, I need to be happy with my personal practice. It has felt amazing to roll out the mat each night after the kids are in bed to do some Yoga. Some nights I don't have the energy to clean up the living room so I squish myself between the bed and the dresser in my bedroom and hope Kev doesn't open the door and hit me in the head. But that's how committed I am! I'm risking bodily harm!

Although I've been a lover of reading for as long as I can remember, as I've grown I've developed this weird feeling of guilt when it comes to purchasing books for myself. I tend to stick with borrowing from friends or the library. And while that's a great option I'm glad to have, sometimes I just want to be able to take my time to read something, or have the ability to read it again on a whim. In an effort to stop feeling guilty about buying books, I recently got a handful from the Dollar Tree and have been surprised how good they are. If you haven't read Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman, please do. When I initially picked it up I thought it was a fiction novel, but when I got home I realized it was autobiographical. I panicked, worried that I'd sob my way through the whole thing, but it turned out to be so uplifting and even funny. And I don't have to feel guilty about buying it because it only cost a buck! So whenever I take the kids with me to get random supplies from the dollar store, I take some time to browse the books they have and allow myself to buy one every now and then.

These may seem like really little things that any person should have the time and means to do... but I just haven't had the energy to do much of it the last couple of years. Linc is such a sweet kid, he really is, but he is so clingy. Even if Kev is home and holding Linc that kid will sob out big crocodile tears if I go to the bathroom by myself and shut the door. He knows how to appear helpless and how to ensure I will be by his side AT ALL TIMES and it's exhausting. If I try to do Yoga or Pilates during the day, Linc lies down right next to me and swings his arms and legs around, counting reps in my face. Actually, that makes him sound like an amazing personal trainer! But my point is that my workouts aren't very satisfying or effective unless he's asleep, and it's only been recently that I've had the ability to stay awake past 9pm without feeling like death the next day.

These baby steps toward getting some of myself back from the clutches of my Mom Role are so refreshing and liberating. Now that Linc is weaned and I'm no longer crying myself to sleep about it, I feel AMAZING. I am officially my own person again in charge of my own body. I joked with my friend Katrina that I'm a little bit excited about the first time I get sick post-weaning because I'll be able to take whatever medicine I want without worrying about it affecting Lincoln. BRING ON THE NYQUIL.

I hope you're doing some self-care as well, and that you're not feeling guilty about it. You deserve it.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Weaning my babiest of babies.

About a month ago I started experiencing A LOT of discomfort nursing Lincoln. Until that time, he was still nursing before his nap, as well as before bedtime. He usually nursed for a few minutes and then he was asleep. Overall, it was really great. I no longer had to bounce him to sleep or hold him for hours while he slept. It's been a relief that he's sleeping so well.

That's one of the major reasons I never initiated weaning until recently. I didn't want to mess with a good thing. Any thought of disrupting his sleep practically gives me an anxiety attack. I honestly think if I hadn't started suffering from cracked nipples, he'd keep nursing for many more months to come.

But with the pain I had, I decided I had to start weaning him. I took away the nap-time-nursing on day one and since Kev was home, he put Linc down. He said he was easily able to lay Linc in the crib while he sat in the chair in his room. Kev ended up falling asleep as well and they both had a great nap. That first night, I nursed him for just a few minutes before unlatching and telling him it was time for bed.

I'd been gearing up for that, telling Linc lately that soon the Mama milk would be empty. But he'd look down my shirt and yell "THERE IT IS!" since he thinks the word "milk" is referring to my, *ahem* anatomy. Regardless, I kept mentioning it, telling Linc soon I'd be cuddling him before bed without any more milk.

The second day I tried putting Linc down for his nap and he cried unless I held him. After lots of cuddling, I put Linc in his crib and he just rolled around forever with no attempt to sleep. I couldn't leave the room, and eventually we gave up on the nap altogether.

For subsequent naps, I resorted to rocking him to sleep. I needed him to take that time for us both to recharge while Aspen was at school. I know he's not ready to give up napping so I've diligently been making him sleep without nursing during the day.

Over the last three weeks or so, I've been telling Linc before bedtime that there's only a little milk left. I'd tell him he could nurse for a little while and then he'd go in his crib. It worked really well and he never complained. I'd nurse him, put him in his crib, and then sit in his room until he fell asleep. Sometimes I'd leave his door open and go put Aspen to bed and by the time I checked on him again, he'd be asleep. It has been pretty smooth for bedtime and I'm really grateful (especially when Kev works swing).

But I've been really nervous about the whole situation overall. He's so much older than Aspen was when she stopped nursing (at 14 months) and he's extremely aware of what's going on. In a way that's helpful because we can talk about it. But it's also really hard because that means for nearly two years, we've had this bond. And now it's going away.

Last night, for the first time ever, I got Linc ready for bed and he didn't mention nursing. I just held him for a few minutes and we sang a couple of songs. Then I put him in his crib and sat down in the nursing chair. He played with his blankets and stuffed animals for a little while, and eventually he fell asleep after singing a song to Ernie. I commenced crying immediately.

I was not prepared for how emotional it would be. It wasn't anything like this when Aspen self-weaned. I was sobbing last night and mourning the loss of our nursing relationship. Yes, I was so ready for it physically! I'm tired of wearing nursing-friendly clothes and I'm tired of the discomfort and I really miss my pre-babies boobs. But the emotions just snuck up on me. I was so tempted to wake Linc up and have him nurse just one more time. JUST ONE MORE TIME PLEASE!! Thankfully I managed to hold it together and let the boy sleep.

For a while I may need to switch kids and have Kev put Linc to bed and I'll take Aspen. They've had a good thing going for a while (they've read all of the Narnia books, some Nancy Drew, some Rush Limbaugh historical fiction and so much more the last few months), but I don't know if I can handle putting Linc down right now since I'm an emotional wreck about it all. We'll see what kind of fuss Linc puts up tonight if Kev suggests reading to him and putting him to bed.

I really am looking forward to my new-found freedom, though. My sister-in-law is having a baby this summer and I joked with Kev that Linc will at least be weaned by September so I can take a solo trip to North Carolina to help her with the kids. I knew this was coming eventually and I'm glad it will make our lives a little easier in some ways. I just bought tickets to see Weezer (a band I've wanted to see live since high school!) this summer and now I don't have to stress about Sophia babysitting and not being able to nurse Linc to sleep!

Thanks, Linc, for all the good times snuggled up together. While I may have hated having to hold you while you slept, I didn't feel as strongly against nursing you. I've always been pretty proud of making you so fat, especially after all the grief the attending pediatrician and lactation consultant gave me after you were born. We had a good run, and I'll just go sob into my pillow now.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Easter 2016

Easter this year was a hit with both kids, except for the fact Aspen had to wait until Sunday afternoon to have an egg hunt... But with Kev working on Saturday I didn't even think about planning ahead to attend a local hunt. And I didn't want him to miss out by doing it at home without him.

I did cave and actually purchase Aspen a dress this year, but Linc is set with hand-me-downs until he's five so he got whatever looked springy in his closet. Not complaining!

After Linc's nap I was able to coerce the kids outside for some photos. And while I was reallllly hoping to get a repeat of last year's epic photo, I at least came close. Above you can see Aspen's 2016 Easter smile, and below is Easter 2015. It's too bad Linc doesn't hate grass like he did last year.

They're a couple of cuties! I'm glad Linc could stop looking at birds and airplanes long enough to almost look at me for a photo.

When Sophia, Jose and Seth arrived we had a fantastic dinner: Berry crisp spiral ham (minus the jalapenos), prosciutto-wrapped asparagus baked in crescent rolls (my take on THIS recipe), scored baked potatoes and Trader Joe's legendary frozen corn that tastes like fresh off the cob. Then it was FINALLY time for the egg hunt in the backyard. I'd taken advantage of Sophia and Jose being a distraction to hide the eggs while the kids played inside. It was a big deal to Aspen this year and I'm blaming school for filling her head with all sorts of nonsense about a bunny named Sunny who's as fast as the wind. Listen, kid, mom does all the holiday magic around here and someday you'll just have to accept that! She was devastated that after leaving a detailed map of hiding places for the bunny, he never wrote back, and he didn't use all her suggestions.

But for now we'll let her come up with crazy ideas about the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus. She enjoys the mystery and magic of it all, even if it makes me tired just thinking about it.

Next year if we do an at-home egg hunt, I think I'll do it Saturday, even if we have to wait until Kev gets home from work. I'm finding that making Aspen wait on the day of an event is just too much for her. She tries so hard to be patient but after hearing from all her school and/or church friends about the things they've already done that she has yet to do, she tends to get wound up and bummed out. And that's no fun for anyway. Live and learn, I suppose!

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Mr. Clean

Although I'm one of the first to admit I'm a less-than-amazing housekeeper, I still get a wee bit defensive about it.

I mean, my house is pretty clean, but it's not totally sterilized every day. I am absolutely horrible at keeping the master bathroom clean because Kev and I are the only ones who use it and it's easy to hide. But I get the kids' bathroom cleaned often when they're bathing, and I have a dishwasher so my kitchen doesn't smell (usually). And, as Amanda knows, every Friday I change all the linens in the house and gleefully call it FRESH LINEN FRIDAY.

Now this change of topic is going to seem crazy, but stay with me. It illustrates a point.

Last Thursday the kids came inside at bedtime and I asked Lincoln to wash his hands with me. He proceeded to have a total meltdown for the next hour or so... He wouldn't calm down for anything. Even when I gave up on actually getting him washed and ready for bed, he kept screaming. He stopped when I got some books out to read, but when he tried to turn on the table lamp in his room he tripped and fell and it was the end of the world all over again. And then I had the audacity to change his diaper since he was on the floor anyway and it needed to be done. I sat on the floor of his room for about ten minutes while he hid behind his chair and screamed his guts out after that diaper change. I gave him his blanket hoping he might just pass out on the floor with it after screaming for so long, but no such luck.

Eventually I picked him up and held him in my lap and started reading to him over the screaming. He finally stopped, but he wouldn't let me take his shoes off or change his clothes. But I know when to pick my battles so I just swaddled him up fully-dressed and bid him good night. He fell asleep in about ten seconds (STILL NURSING OF COURSE) and I felt I'd won the war.

Friday morning I got the kids up and ready bright and early; Aspen was going to morning kindergarten with a neighbor while I took Linc to work with me. When Linc got up he was so excited that he was already dressed. He wouldn't let me change his clothes or his diaper or touch him with a washcloth or toothbrush. FINE WHATEVER! I couldn't be bothered to get into a fight with him since I needed to get Aspen to my friend's home on time for her to take Aspen to school for me.

It wasn't until we got home from work a couple of hours later that Linc conceded to a diaper change. I cringe to think of how long he wore that nighttime diaper but I'm just trying to survive here, y'know? At least he wore clothes to work instead of pajamas, even if he did sleep in those clothes so they were technically pajamas... (and then he wore those clothes for a second full day...).

My point? Well, my point is that when Kev was cleaning out master bathroom Friday night while I bathed Linc, he called me in to show me something. I immediately knew he was going to point out something he did that I don't do and I was like OH MY GOSH I CAN'T EVEN CHANGE OUR SON'S CLOTHES/DIAPERS WHY DO YOU THINK I'M GOING TO THOROUGHLY CLEAN A BATHROOOOOOM?!

He tried to reason with me that it only takes a little bit of extra time to clean this certain way and I laughed at him. I'm not about to waste Linc's precious nap time taking extra minutes to scrub the toilet. I am going to take a lightning fast shower, shove food in my face, work, exercise, and mayyyybe veg with a show or a book for a few minutes before my time is up. If I do get around to the commode, Imma just squirt some cleanser in, swish it around and call it good. We both know Kev is more thorough at cleaning things than I am and we should just keep it that way. I like knowing where I stand, even if I don't like being called out on it.

I think a fair compromise would be having Kev continue to do an amazing job scrubbing the toilets from now on, and I'll just try to keep our kids alive (and maybe clean).

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Silver Lake in Spring

Kevin wanted to go to Silver Lake on his day off, so after Linc's nap we drove to the mountain top.

Guess what! Silver Lake is closed to foot traffic right now. I didn't realize they reserve it for (paid) snowshoers/skiers until mid-April. But instead of getting back in the car and turning around, we let the kids play in the snow and mud for a while.

I think they probably enjoyed that more than they would have enjoyed a walk around the lake, anyway. They loved throwing rocks and snowballs into mud puddles, and it was such a warm, sunny day who could complain about being outside?!

Thankfully we were planning to have dinner at Seth's, so we still had more fun to look forward to after our failed visit to the lake. And no one complained one bit about our detour, so I'm calling this family outing a win! I do look forward to going back up later this spring so the kids can enjoy all the chipmunks and I can enjoy all the blossoms on the trees.

I just love all this warm weather we've been having, and it's so nice to get the kids outside to play. I even got a sunburn from visiting the park yesterday. It's awesome having more play dates with friends again, but I guess it's already time to pull out the sunscreen. Woo!

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Letters to Lincoln, month 21

Linky Lou-

I was recently thinking how amazing it is that the second year of your life is going by so much faster than the first. I suppose that's easy to understand since I've been sleeping for so much more of your second year. YAY!!

You usually sleep about 12 hours at night, with a sad little one-hour-ish nap during the afternoon. I think if I could nap you when you want to (around 11) you'd sleep longer, but I have to make you wait until we've taken Aspen to school in the afternoon. It's frustrating that pushing the time back can make such a big difference in the length of your nap, but it's what we have to do right now. I really am just so grateful you get the rest you need now, and in turn so do I (and your Dad) that I try not to complain too much whenever you sleep in your crib for any length of time. I'm making progress working some witchcraft and putting you in your crib when drowsy after nursing at night. You used to scream bloody murder at me when I did that, and now you often give in to sleep. IT'S A MIRACLE. For naps we've eliminated nursing and that's probably another reason why we're so hit-and-miss.

At the end of February you were bouncing on your inflatable donkey when you went right over the donkey's head and collided with the ottoman. It gave you a huge welt and bruise across your brow bone and it makes me want to get rid of that piece of furniture. The dent on your forehead (from months ago) is a result of you rolling off the couch right into the corner of the ottoman. I think it's magnetic, or something, because your noggin is drawn right to it.

You're at the age you absolutely adore your older sister. You copy her every move and all her words (which is A LOT). You love to play with her toys and you let her get you dressed. Whenever I suspect you have a poopy diaper and I ask you about it, you say, "PENNY CHECK!" and only want her to have a look. When it comes time to actually wrestle you into a new diaper, you often only concede to the act if performed in Aspen's room instead of on your changing table. Many nights, you only let Aspen brush your teeth. Which, fine, whatever, you're going to lose all those baby teeth anyway. I love seeing the two of you get along and interact with one another. Even though you fight a lot, I try to focus on the hugs you share, and all the times she willingly fills one of her teacups with candy and gives it to you. You two are very lucky to have one another and I'm so grateful to see your relationship with one another every day.

Lately I've seen you falling more in love with your Dad, too. I think all the nights he spent sleeping on your floor made you realize he's one of the good guys, and not just a Mom-stealer. Yes, you still yell "MINE!" if he hugs me, but you are more interested in your Dad every day. It's so great to hear you scream your guts out when you see Dad's car drive up after work, or when you hear his keys in the front door. He told me that one Sunday afternoon, while he was snoozing on your floor after putting you down for a nap, you woke up but remained calm and quiet. He said he reached his hand up into your crib and you guys just held hands for a long time before getting up. Isn't that just the cutest? I'll be sure to tell that story to all the dates you bring home someday.

Before the cold weather hit last winter, we would spend most of Aspen's school time in the backyard. I'd wheel the bike through the gate and pull you out of the trailer and let you play play play. You raced up and down our back patio with the dog and balls and toys. I helped you down the slide a million times. We watched birds and airplanes in the sky. I knew you were an outside kid. It's been hard keeping you in this winter (so cold! so much dog poop out back!) but we've tried to take advantage of all the warm days we've had in this early-spring. Whenever we come back in sooner than you'd like, you stand at the sliding glass door yelling and begging for "MORE OUTSIIIIDE!" I look forward to real spring so we can soak up all that vitamin D and warmth again. We did do a trip to the farm in February and both of you kids really loved that. It was a beautiful day and thankfully Aspen didn't accidentally push you into a poopy puddle until we were walking to the car.

Your favorite game in the whole world is "ball clouds." This involves me either throwing a ball onto the roof, or hitting it up there with a bat. Then we watch the ball bounce and roll back to us and you exclaim with delight that the ball hit the clouds.

Your favorite saying in the whole world is "hold you Mama." Thankfully you are willing to substitute Dada and Uncle in there sometimes so I can let others hold you. It's pretty darn cute. I also have a hard time getting over the fact that you call feet "tickles." Probably because I almost always used to refer to them as your "tickle toes." Now they're just "tickles."

You just keep on growin' little Linc. We're so happy to have your hugs and kisses and belly laughs.


See Aspen's monthly letter HERE.

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Wednesday, March 02, 2016

List Makers

There are a myriad ways Aspen is just like me. A love of list-making is one of those ways.

Lately I've been exhausted by the amount of times Aspen asks me if she can watch TV or play the tablet. If there's ever any downtime whatsoever during our day, she immediately asks to do one of those things. It's so annoying.

One morning during breakfast, I told Aspen I was coming up with a schedule for us. Since she knows how to tell time, I wrote out our school day in various increments with an activity in each slot.

It varies depending on the day because some mornings I take the kids to work with me, but this schedule has dramatically improved my life like I can't believe. No more do I have to listen to someone whining about watching TV! No more do I have to listen to someone whining about playing tablet! Aspen can now just refer to the list and see what's happening. And if it so happens that something (like a meal or shower) doesn't take up the allotted time, I tell Aspen she has to find something to do until the next activity time. AND IT WORKS.

My favorite part about this list is that Aspen will now willingly go into her room two times a day and have play time. Before the list, she would endlessly complain. I think because the instruction isn't coming directly from me, Aspen is willing to heed it.

We've been doing this about a week and I'm just so relieved. Sure, there's still some grumbling when she's in-between time slots, but for the most part there is a huge improvement. When I leave the kids at home with Kev while I work, I basically command him to follow the schedule with Aspen. She thrives on it!

Now, when summer comes and I don't have three hours of school to fill some of the day, we'll see how it goes. I'm hopeful with the new (secret-yet-to-be-revealed) sandbox I bought from Kid-to-Kid, I can make the kids play together in the shade outside for many hours every day.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Galentine's Day Celebration

Recently, Amanda wanted to get together sans kids for an outing and when she mentioned it to me I immediately went crazy and planned a Galentine's Day night out.

What is Galentine's Day, you ask? Well, just a bunch of ladies getting together, exchanging gifts, eating good food and basically having an awesome night out.

We decided on Cafe Rio since it would be casual, delicious (obviously), and there wouldn't be any trouble splitting a check/tip. I was able to get there early enough to decorate the table with some Dollar Tree garland and Leslie Knope-inspired Galentine printables for everyone to take home.

It was a fun group of girls- some I know from my neighborhood, and others I know from high school. I'm so glad so many of us were able to get together to talk for a few hours, and to exchange gifts. It's so rejuvenating to spend time with other grown ups!

I mentioned to Sophia that it feels like these kinds of outings are a big deal to me now. Or, rather, the fact that they're now not so difficult is a big deal to me now. I used to love going out and being adventurous and busy. And then little Linc was born and I became a completely different person who couldn't imagine leaving the house.

Now that he's a little easier I don't feel badly leaving him with Kev for bedtime. I know I need these outings with friends and someday I'll have these outings with Kev because Linc won't need to be soothed to sleep so intensely (and I'll get a babysitter! WOO!). I'm really looking forward to it and have even suggested to Kev we go to one of those art classes where everyone paints the same thing. I think he's actually considering it!

So, Happy Galentine's Day, ladies. Hopefully we'll have another night out before next February.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016


I have really amazing neighbors. They stop to chat when we're outside, they bring gifts to my kids and they definitely took care of us the best they could when Kev was in the hospital last spring.

Unfortunately, though, one of them accidentally got a rooster. My city isn't actually zoned for chickens, but I didn't mind at all that one of my neighbors had a couple when we moved in. Then they disappeared (there's a hawk that flies over quite often) and new chicks were purchased last spring. In the summer one of them matured into a rooster and since I was up all night anyway, its crowing didn't affect me. Sure, it was an ugly sound and I didn't love hearing it, but it's not like I was sleeping.

But now both of my kids routinely sleep until 7 or even 730 in the morning. Therefore, I DO TOO. I feel like I'll never recover from sleeping only 3 hours every night for a year, and I do my best to sleep as much as I can now. The problem with this goal is that the stupid rooster is broken and often starts crowing at 3am. Or maybe 430am. Sometimes closer to 530am. And he crows for half an hour. Not just one annoying little cook-a-doodle and then done. Half an hour of consecutive crowing without stopping. And the best part is he perches in a pine tree right outside our bedroom window.

We talked to our neighbors about it one morning after the crowing went beyond 30 minutes (WHY?!). The neighbors explained they were so sorry and they hated it too and they'd get rid of it asap. That was in December, after already putting up with the demented bird for months. They also explained that he crows at the sight of any light in the morning, which is why he would sometimes crow as early as 330 in the morning. One of them works very early, and had taken to showering IN THE DARK and shaving with a flashlight so the rooster wouldn't see the lights and start crowing so early. Kev even sent a link to our neighbors from a KSL ad posted by a guy who would pay $5 to pick up a rooster from someone. Not only could they have gotten rid of the bird, but they could've had someone pay them for doing so.

It boggles my mind that they put up with it themselves. I mean, my kids are little tyrants who rule my life in weird dictator-like ways, but I have to put up with them. If I had an illegal pet that was so annoying I'd be like, NICE KNOWIN YA K BYE. We know they hate the rooster, they know we hate the rooster, so why does the rooster still live there?

I've called the guy in charge of chickens for our city and left messages about the little monster but I don't know if any citations have been issued. I hate to do it, too, because I really do love these neighbors and appreciate them. But I can't stand the rooster, and I shouldn't have to. I put earplugs in and pillows on my head and still can't block out the ugly sound of that bird. It makes me positively ragey.

Kev and our neighbor's son are conspiring to just shoot the dang thing out of the tree some day and call it good. The neighbors already purchased another hen in anticipation of getting rid of the rooster, so I'm at the point I see nothing wrong with this approach. I can't count how many mornings the bird has crowed and I've wondered why it hasn't yet frozen to death in the night. I've never hated an animal so much. When I visited the farm today with the kids, I had to remind myself that the roosters there haven't personally done anything to me, so it was okay to stop and watch them for a while.

Hopefully the city is able to step in and make some progress where Kev and I have failed because I'd really like more uninterrupted sleep in the morning.

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Valentine's Day 2016

For Valentine's Day, I've resorted to the same approach- surf and turf for dinner and zero expectations. Since Kev doesn't actually like many types of seafood, I make sure to invite Seth over and we just have a big family dinner to celebrate love. He helps me eat the shrimp and Kev can have just a little bit more steak on his plate to make up for the lack of surf.

Aspen was really excited because this year I actually put out a few decorations. I have a hanging chalkboard banner that I put a new saying on every month, and it's been commanding "BE MINE" since February started. I also scored this ceramic cake stand from the Target Dollar Spot a few weeks ago, as well as the "XO" glitter letters. She just loves decorating for the holidays, and I usually only do that for Christmas. So this is a big. Freakin. Deal.

We also worked on a fancy new dessert together. And while it looks absolutely nothing like what we referred to in the Martha Steward magazine, they probably tasted just as good. It involved a lot of steps, which meant Aspen got to drag out the fun for two whole days while we let the ice cream set a couple of different times before doing the next part.

It was a nice dinner, made even more fun with Sophia and Jose were also able to join us and then spend the night. Aspen loved being able to visit with them on President's Day and have some extra time with them. And as is customary, I did finish the taxes the day before Valentine's Day so Kev's "gift" could be a refund. You're welcome.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Letters to Lincoln, month 20

Linky Lou-

Hiya bud! You're fully-versed in the terrible twos already! WEEEEE!!!

In all fairness, we were hit with a lot of sickness in January that made all of us miserable. First there was the virus, then the colds, and your two-year molars. So that's a valid excuse for you having been extra-whiny and clingy and a teensy bit unbearable this month. We were quarantined for a looooong time but near the end of January we started emerging from the petri dish our house had become.

Right now you ask to watch the "Choo-choo show" at least once a day, and I discovered you mean Chuggington, and not Thomas. That's pretty disappointing because Chuggington is annoying. How can those trains properly conduct their business when they're constantly lifting their wheels off the tracks?! And there's a train that can fly. That doesn't seem legit to me. But, it's the only show you'll actually sit and watch for ten minutes so I can have a break from holding your hand.

Speaking of affection- when we see Aspen emerge from school you immediately leave my side and run to grab her. You just LOVE going to get her. And before naps and bedtime you find her and give her a hug and say "night-night!" It's so cute I can hardly stand it. But on the flip side, you also hit her a lot. We're working on quelling your anger because it's not cool that you're already trying to beat up your older sister.

You've entered a bad-eating-phase and I honestly don't know how you function on so little nourishment. If I am lucky enough to get you to actually sit down and ingest food, I usually have to hold it for you and put every bite into your mouth. You have very little interest in doing it yourself.

I love your vocabulary lately- especially since you now say "Penny" all the time! We were all so happy to hear you commit to a name for your sister. Many mornings it's the first thing you say to me when I get you out of your crib. We also really love the way you say "potato." It's just really great.

With the sickness and teething you've had the last month, Dada spent a lot of nights sleeping on your bedroom floor. You were waking up every hour or so, and with him being in there, you more quickly went back to sleep. It makes me want to figure out how you and Aspen could share a room, because I think you'd like it. I was relieved that Dad could at least get some sleep, even if you were waking him up often. And he didn't have to drag himself across the hall or even get up at all to shush you and let you know you weren't alone. Hopefully as those teeth settle in you'll get back to sleeping better and getting the rest you need.

Your favorite songs right now are still the ones we sing in nursery- Jumbo Elephant, The Wheels on the Bus, something about a duck and, of course, I still sing you the Ben Folds song that has soothed you since your infancy- The Luckiest. You seem to love music and you even do a lot of the actions for songs now without prompting.

You love to get undressed and try to pull off your diaper all the time. Thankfully we haven't had any incidents if ya know what I mean... But we'll see.

So, that's you right now in a nutshell, Linc.

We love you.


See Aspen's monthly letter HERE.

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