Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cute Christmas Pics

This is Reid. Emily just finished creating a CD with pictures of the girls for my Grandma. I saw some cute ones as I reviewed the CD and thought I'd post them here for all to see. Merry Christmas!

Emily made these matching dresses for the girls. I'll let her post
a picture of all three girls in their dresses later.

Playing with the fake snow under the trees at my work party was
the highlight of the girls' night.

I was clearly the most excited person in our family to see Santa.

The big girls in their Christmas snowman pajamas.

During Thanksgiving, it snowed and the girls and I
made this snowman.

Sub for Santa

I have so many things to do right now, and the thought of doing a single one of them overwhelms me, so i'm going to blog. I've put off so many things till the last minute, b/c the last 10 days have been consumed by a Sub-For-Santa project we did this year. With the help of about a bizillion people, we were able to "adopt" two families this year. It's taken over my life for the past 10 days. but it's been an awesome 10 days. I have about 2 minutes to write about something that has been a life-changing experience. Although I did most of the leg-work for this project, it was because of all the donations from friends, neighbors, friends of neighbors, neighbors of friends, etc that we were able to give so much to these two deserving and needing families.

talking to the families, trying to get a "wish list" was harder than you might think. For example, when talking to one of the 12 year old boys, i tried to get him to tell me what he wanted for Christmas, and all he could keep saying was "I just need pencils and paper, that is all." I asked him if he'd seen any commercials on TV that advertised something he wanted, and it was very clear that it had NEVER crossed his mind that he could request something that he saw on TV. He had no idea how to ask for a want. It was the same way when i talked to the moms of these families. All they wanted were shoes, jeans and warm clothes. can you even imagine? i mean, the fact that you have a computer and are reading this blog using the internet that have $$ to pay for monthly means that you, like me, probably really can't even imagine it. Well, we finally pried some other requests out of them, sent out some emails, and got such a HUGE response--it was AWESOME. I spent the next days collecting items, sorting toys, clothes, etc, and then we had a 6-hour wrapping party on Tuesday night. we were up until 1:30 am, but it was so much fun!!

I foolishly thought that we could fit all the gifts in our van with all the seats removed, but about half way through the loading process, we realized that wasn't going to happen

So, we loaded the trunk of our small ford escort, and still had more gifts in the house...
So, we loaded the back seat of the car, and still weren't done....
so we loaded the passenger's seat, and it just barely fit.

We set off last night, after the big girls were down and our dear neighbor was here with them, to play Santa. The first family we delivered to was so sweet, so humble, and of course had a FULL ON DINNER waiting for us when we went to drop off the gifts. She really didn't know how to thank us with words, (which is why she made the dinner). She kept thanking us for the visit, and for our time, but never thanked us with words for the gifts. I have no doubt that she was extremely grateful for all we dropped off, but she just couldn't say it. She was so sweet and kind and simple. It was really great to visit with their family. But because of dinner we were really late getting to the second family, where the 6 year old boy was anxiously staring out the window awaiting our arrival. This family seemed a little better off than the first, but still with so little. We had a fun time visiting with them, talking about their family and their traditions, and teasing the kids about not peaking at their gifts, especially the 3 bicycles that were in their front room :)

I could write for hours and hours about this experience and all that i've learned, and ways my mind has changed about things i used to think. But i don't have time!!! I just have time to say that this has been the best Christmas EVER and with a little more time, and better planning, next Christmas is gonna beat it!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

the gift that keeps on giving

My wonderful mom wasn't sure what to get Eliza this year. I told her not to get her anything because we have everything we need. but she went ahead and got her the BEST present EVER!!! I had no idea when we opened it just how awesome it was. It's this adorable mini-Christmas tree--fully lit and decorated, and an ADORABLE little birchwood container!

Those adorable ornaments are hand knit and painted--by someone else...the tree skirt is handmade by me :)

Since we had decided not to get a tree this year, this gift was even more welcome!! And the best part is that it smells AWESOME! No, wait, that's not the best part. The best part is that we can either a) plant this in the spring, and it would forever be Eliza's tree, and years down the road we could drive by and show Eliza the tree we planted when she was a baby or b) we can put it in a slightly larger pot, let it grow another foot or two, keep it on our porch and use it year after year after year as our perpetual Christmas tree!!

You can't imagine how much i love option B. It solves all Christmas tree problems. We don't have to spend $45/year to have a real tree (reid won't budge on the whole artificial tree thing, and i'm kinda with him) and we don't have to go get a tree every year--we can just bring it in from the porch. And i've never really been sure how i feel about just cutting down these big trees and then just tossing them--so now i don't have to fret about that, either!!! it's the gift that keeps giving and giving and giving...and someday, if decide we want a bigger tree, we can always plant it!! Thanks, Mom, for the greatest gift ever!!!

This picture was taken at midnight the other night (it looks like daylight outside cause of all the snow) as Reid and I laid on the couch and listened to Carpenter's Christmas Album, and watched the snow fall--a perfect moment w/ the perfect Christmas tree!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Rethinking Christmas

People keep asking me what we're planning on doing for our girls for Christmas. And everytime I hesitate to tell them what we're doing this year because I think it must sound kind of weird. But, I think that most of what i say sounds wierd to most people, so, why stop now?!?!

This year we're ChristmaCycling --and yes, we started a blog about it:) I've picked up a few things for the girls over the past few months at garage sales, and they'll have a great time opening up what i've gotten them, not to mention what Grandmas and aunts have gotten them--so no need to worry that i'm ruining their Christmas memories forever. And we've got some fun ideas for gifts for our family members. But i will proudly say that i have not bought one single thing new from a "big-box store" and i'm hoping to keep it that way. I'm on a bit of an anti-consumerism kick (you can read more about it on that blog) and i'm loving it!

But, more important than what we're not giving our girls and family members is what we are giving them. I can't say too much here, obviously, but i've never in my life felt as good about doing anything with my Christmas budget as I do this year. And I sincerely mean that. I truly feel that we are making a difference, albeit incredibly small, and that this Christmas is going to mean more than any other Christmas before.

The other morning I heard grace hurry down her ladder (she sleeps in a bunk bed) and come running into my room faster than normal. I couldn't imagine what had her in such a hurry so early (7:45 is apparently early in our house) She came to my side of the bed and yelled "mom, mom, it's snowing!!" I was famous in high school for giving "snow hugs" (Tiffany and Carrie, please tell me you remember this!) I loved that first snow so much that I gave hugs to everyone i knew...and even some that i wanted to know (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) So, i think it's pretty cute that Grace shares my affinity for the first snow of the season.

The girls had fun playing in the snow, but I do not exaggerate when I say that the time it took to get them ready was greater than the time they spent outside. They're about as tough as their mom, so as soon as their little fingers were cold they wanted to come in for some hot peppermint tea.

Also, some of you have been asking to see pictures of my kitchen--some before and after shots. Here's the problem...we're not completely done yet, and it's KILLING me! We still need to do the crown molding on the top of the cupbaord, get new end panels, and get our new appliances. So, although we have our new countertops (we went with Tropic Brown) and our backplash done(which we LOVE) i'm not ready to do the full on Before and After post that i fully intend to do someday....Now, that said, because i think the little lady in this picture is adorable in her little bumbo chair (do not attempt this at home, i'm a trained professional in misusing children's equipment), i'm posting this picture, and giving you all a little preview of what we have accomplished so far. Everything in this picture is what i feel like i've spent my last three months working on, from tile to counters to sinks to faucets to Eliza--this is where almost all my non-abby and grace time has been spent. but we're pretty please with how it's turned out so far, esp the Eliza part :)

Click on the picture to get a better view of our window ledge. I was really iffy on doing it this way, but i'm glad that i got strong-armed into it, cause i like the way it turned out

And here are some more pictures of what my kids were doing while i was neglecting them so i could research the best style of sink to get, which style of backsplash we were going to go with, etc:

I swear i did not pose this picture. I guess they've just had lots of time practicing this while watching Elmo's world every morning--most productive 20 minutes of my day!!!

And on the occassion that I do give Eliza a bottle, this is how the poor girl has to drink it--propped up by blankets on her carseat.

And here's one of my two babysitters. Abby loves holding Eliza for about 25 seconds, and then she just drops her...which is exactly what you're seeing happen in this picture :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

3 months old

I don't know where the time has gone, but somehow my sweet baby Eliza is 3 months old!!!! How could this be???? why do i still feel (and look) like i have a brand new baby??? She is such a sweet baby!!

with all 3 girls i've absolutely LOVED this stage--the smiling, laughing, but still not moving stage :) She does SOOO well at night, too--i'm talking 10 hours straight! and she's tolerating little bits of dairy in my diet now--yipee!!! She smiles so much, laughs when I tickle her neck (this is total Allred thing) and I just cannot get enough of her! She still has earned herself the Fussiest Of My Babies award, but most of you know how insanely easy Abby and Grace were, so it's not saying much. She does like being held more than her two sisters did...but i think that I'm mostly to blame for that :) How could i possibly not hold this little thing?!?!?!

Cassi--am i right that you gave these p.j.'s to Grace? well, they're one of the only hand-me-downs that i'm not completely sick of...they're too cute!!!
She still sleeps tons during the day. She was looking like a "light sleeper" there for a while, but she has adapted quite well to the constant noise her sisters make, and is learning how to sleep through it really well. Abby loves nothing more then to go talk to her while she's napping--you can imagine how much I love this--yet Eliza sleeps right through it. I am a big believer in kids' ability to adapt to their surroundings, and she's proving to be capable of doing so! (Maybe in a few more weeks we'll move her out of our closet and see how well her sisters adapt to her sleeping in their room. ) She's in her crib for probably 70% of her sleeping time, the other 30% is in her carseat or here on the couch with me, or in her swing :) I should probably have her going to bed before 10:30 each night, but i LOVE my evenings with her too much to put her down with her sisters. I need my Eliza time!! And she doesn't wake up until 8am, when her sisters come in demanding breakfast. I don't know why all of my children have been such good sleepers...but i'm not complaining!!!

Three months ago i would have guessed that I'd feel a little more "together" by now. "Together" is the last thing i feel. But I don't exactly feel "separate" --if that's the opposite.... Somedays i feel like having three kids is awesome, and that having two would somehow be boring. And then on other days I feel like Grace and Abby are being cheated out of fun mom-time or crafty projects because i don't have enough hands. Somedays I just love watching my two "big girls" play with their baby sister, and play with each other. And then other days i feel like I have three babies who all need my complete attention and each one is more demanding than the other. Someday i'll have it all together and i'll know exactly where all my tupperware pieces are and I'll arrive to church meetings less than 45 minutes late and i'll get the oil changed in my van before the dealer has to call me and remind me that we're four months overdue and I'll finish the Christmas dresses that I started this time last year....but not today. Today i've got to go pretend to be a wicked witch with Grace, help Abby color another masterpiece and get at least a hundred more crinkled-nose smiles from my Eliza.

and maybe we'll survive another three months....maybe.

Monday, November 10, 2008

They DO love us!!

We've had so much family come visit us the past 2 months--it's been awesome!!! Over labor day Reid's mom and sister came and just hung out with us. Eliza was just 10 days old, so we didn't do much, but it was so fun having them here. Karen helped take all those cute pics at the top of my blog, and Marie made sure that Eliza got plenty of Grandma snuggles in :)

Then my sister, Julia (former blogger, current Facebooker), came out for a weekend in October. We had plans of going to a local historic farm's Fall Festival and drinking Postum, but the rain ruined the festival, and Kraft ruined the Postum plans (that's right, fellow Postum lovers--that beverage is no more :( ) We still managed to have a great time. We made some AMAZING pumpkin cookies (of course we used applesauce and whole wheat flour (: ), watched some classic Arrested Development episodes, stayed up too late playing Settlers--needless to say we were sad to see her go...

Aunt JuJu with sleeping Eliza

The following weekend my mom, dad and sister, Melanie all flew out. It was my mom's first time here, and it was so fun having them here. We cooked lots, visited lots, and we tried to go to the Zoo, but gave up after seeing that about a billion other people were there for Free Zoo Days. So we walked around downtown and enjoyed some delicious Indian buffet. The girls LOVED playing "fox" with Grandpa (he chases them, they scream--you know the game) and sitting next to Grandma in her rocker. Melanie was so helpful, changing diapers, getting the girls dressed, and cooking us some delicious food--and i somehow didn't get any pictures w/ her in them!!!! A day hasn't gone by since they left that Abby hasn't asked "where's Bangka? (grandpa in dyslexic) On airplane, now home." It was so good to see them it ALMOST made me think that it MIGHT be SORT OF nice to live near them (gasp) in utah (yikes!!!) there, i said it! :)

Not the greatest photo, but here's Bangka playing "fox" w/ the girls

Grandma w/ Eliza--thanks for all your babysitting, Grandma!!

And then last weekend Tom and Jana came to visit. Jana, who's 6 months pregnant, sat in a car for 8 hours, spent less than 48 hours here, and then got back in that car for 8 more hours--You're a trooper, Jana!!!

Tom and Jana w/ Eliza

We were starting to wonder if our families really loved us. Now we know that as long as we have little babies for them to hold, they'll do what it takes to get out here. We'll just have to have more babies, more often--ha ha ha!!!!!

We really do love having visitors. It's especially nice on Sunday's when Reid's gone from 6am-6pm--Sundays get lonely with an absent Reid. So, if you're thinking of coming out here, work Sunday into your schedule and save my children from a lonely and ornery mom:)

And now i've gotta clean up my disasterous house because Reid's aunt and uncle are in town for a quick visit and will be here in less than an hour!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Christening Eliza

Last Sunday we blessed our sweet Eliza Mae. Reid's brother, Tom, decided to come out for the BYU v. CSU game, and his wife, Jana, decided to join him when she found out it was Eliza's big weekend. So, we did end up having family in town for it--a pleasant surprise. Our neighbors, and good friends also joined us that day.

Eliza is just the sweetest baby ever. She smiles all the time--except when the camera comes out! She reminds me of Grace as a baby in so many ways. She's got a similar calm, mellow temperament. She sleeps ALL THE TIME! She's overall just a really content baby as long as her needs are met. And she has somehow not caught the Fever/Rash virus that Abby had a couple weeks agao, and now the terrible cough that Abby has. Maybe i'll have a baby that actually has a bit of resistance to germs! Maybe she really does get my antibodies!!

I finished this dress the morning of her blessing. It wasn't exactly what i had in mind, but that's the risk i take when i refuse to use a pattern. Why do i refuse you might ask? I have no idea. I'm ridiculous--that's the only answer i can come up with.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Goodies for friends

Grace and I had so much fun getting these little Halloween goody bags ready for a few of her friends. We started by decorating the bags with glitter and glue.

And needless to say, the glitter ended up all over my deck.

If you zoom in on this photo, you'll see that, not unlike Edward, my deck glistens in the sunlight

We made these cookies that took WAY longer than i could have anticipated. And i don't know why i thought that Grace would be interested in frosting these, cause she wasn't. All she wanted to do was eat them. But I still had fun decorating them :)
We had fun delivering the goody bags. Abby cried everytime she realized we weren't staying at our friends' houses, but Grace really enjoyed giving her friends presents, and seeing their faces light up.

One of my favorite things about being a mom is doing things like this with my girls. It's so fun to see Grace's understanding of giving gifts grow. She's really into gifting right now. She takes my scotch tape and wraps up just about anything she can find and then gives it to one of us. She keeps saying how excited she is for Christmas to come because she "can't wait to give everybody presents."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I love me my Bosch!!!!

I'm on a bread making kick! I've made bread 4 times in the past 5 weeks. Since each batch makes 6 loaves --way more than we need--we've had a fun time sharing yummy hot bread with many of our friends and neighbors who've helped our family out so much since Eliza was born.

When it comes to bread-making machines, there are two types of people in this world--KitchenAid people and Bosch people. I am a Bosch person. My mother's day/birthday/anniversary presents for the past few years have been this bosch-motored wheat mill and Bosch universal mixer. i think i only need to make about 200 more loaves this they've paid for themselves--and at this rate, that'll be before the year's out!

My dear friend, Kristin, was over here the other day when i was making some bread. Now, bless her heart, this girl has eaten a total of 2 whole grains and 3 vegetables in her life. (I cut her some slack since she's from Texas, where the last line in their pledge of allegience is "a cow a day keeps the doctor away.") She was completely fascinated by the fact that i could put this

in this

Where it turns into this

add some water, yeast, oil and honey, mix it in this

and get this

Perhaps, to better understand where she's coming from, I should spend a day at a farm and then a slaughterhouse....yes, i think i'd absolutely LOVE that! :)

Seriously, though, there is only one thing in the world that is better than hot whole wheat bread (with butter and honey..yummmmm). And that is hot whole wheat bread made from freshly ground whole wheat flour. Even Kristin, with her explicit disdain for all that is natural and nutritious, enjoyed a few slices on Sunday.

So, if you're reading this, and you live nearby, and you've never had my bread, and you're not a stalker, please let me know--we'll take right care of that! And if you don't live nearby, but you desparately want some hot bread, then you should think about moving here. I promise it's worth it!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Reid and I have thoroughly been enjoying SNL lately. They're our favorite thing about the presidential campaign. Tina Fey does Sarah Palin better than Sarah Palin does!!! We are also both in LOVE with Kristin Wiig. And we have been singing the song from this sketch non-stop the past 3 days, so Reid posted this clip on his family's website. It didn't surprise us at all that they didn't appreciate it. But there's gotta be someone out there who thinks this is as funny as we do! Or maybe it's just cause it's Kristin Wiig and we think everything she does is hillarious!

Anyway, click here if you're in a good mood, have semi-low expectations and your name is not Anne :) (actually, anyone who admittedly has an extremely selective sense of humor and hates the Christopher Guest mockumentaries is uninvited to view this clip :D )

It's worth it--it really is!!!

I was starting to wonder if this whole "no dairy" thing was really worth it. Passing up the Cheetos, the ice cream, the DELICIOUS meals that SOOO many neighbors and friends made for our family has been SOOO hard for the food-lover in me. I was thinking of throwing in the towel this weekend when my sister comes to visit, but now i know better.

Last Saturday we went with some friends to Applebees. I ordered what i was SURE was a diary-free meal. But the next 3-4 nights were awful with Eliza. So i called my local Applebees restaurant to see if i could talk to a chef in the kitchen and find out if there was by chance some butter or something in my entree. Well, she referred me to their 1-800 number. I wondered how in the world the people at the 1-800 number would know what they do here in Littleton...well, it turns out that they don't prepare ANY of their food onsite! and it also turns out that i am the only one completely shocked by this! Apparently ALL chains (chilis, outback, olive garden, etc) receive their food frozen!!! And i'm the last to know! I've since been appropriately ridiculed for my naivete.

Anyway, they verified that the food i ate did have dairy--something in the seasoning of the rice. I was pretty sure it did, but it was good to confirm. It makes this whole thing TOTALLY worth it. Since about Wednesday night Eliza's been SOOOOO calm, and such a sweet, content baby! It's crazy the difference it makes!!

we've gone from lots of this

(Thanks, Jenny, for this ADORABLE outfit!!! She gets more compliments on those jeans than i knew was possible for a baby!!)

to lots of this

And she still only manages to be awake about 6 hours a most of what we see is this

And the moral of the story is that this has dairy:
Cajun Lime Tilapia

and this is not fresh food:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

She slept through the night!

You might think i'm referring to my one month old. No, no. Abby has woken up EVERY night since Eliza was born. Sometimes she's crying, sometimes she's shouting, sometimes she's laughing, sometimes she needs us, sometimes she doesn't--but it's been EVERY stinkin' night for a month now! Finally last night she didn't wake me up at all--it was beautiful!

And Eliza has been doing GREAT at night, too. She goes almost 8 hours between her last night feeding and her first morning feeding. and she's sleeping about 5-6 of those 8 hours, wakes up to eat, and goes back to sleep for 4-5 more hours. It's my magic milk, i'm telling you! Now, if only i could get my butt in bed as soon as she falls asleep!!! why do i have to be such a night owl...

Eliza's colic has all but disappeared the past 8 or 9 days. She now only cries for about 30-45 minutes--so much better than the 3 hours we were dealing with before. I'm almost positive it's because I haven't had a drop of dairy for 20 days--even though it's killing me! Over the years many people have wondered what i cook since we don't eat much meat--i'll tell you what, i'd take cutting out meat over dairy ANY day! I just didn't realize how much of what we eat has a little bit of butter, milk, cheese, cream, whey, etc. Like the no-bake cookies that are sitting on my counter right now--killing me!!....But, i resist-and it's worth it to have a happy baby!

I put Eliza in these cute shoes on Sunday and people were stopping me all day at church to tell me how cute they were. Nothing odd about that,right? But then I had one lady ask me if I'd taken a picture of them. Do people do that? Do you take pictures of things that don't change from day to day, aren't part of nature, you're not trying to sell, and will be around for a long time? It had never occured to me to photograph my children's shoes, but now that's all gonna change! :) So, here are Eliza's cute shoes. (Actually, like most other things Eliza wears, they were Abby's first. I gotta take advantage of the endless hand-me-downs while they're young....)

They are pretty stinkin' cute, huh!

On a completely different note, i've been spending any free time I have running from granite warehouses to lumber yards to Home Depot -- trying to make decisions about our kitchen remodel/update. I am learning more and more that redecorating really ISN'T MY THING! I can't make any decisions, I can't decide what I do and don't like. I am torn between wanting to DIY and wanting to make sure it's done right--and soon. I've looked at about a million gorgeous kitchens online and have tried to pull things from each that I love, but i'm just having a hard time putting it all together.

So, it's going to be a while before i post any "before and after" pictures of our whole kitchen. But here's one of our new lighting/ceiling. We are enjoying having our popcorn-free raised ceiling, and we love our over and under cabinet lighting. I'm glad i listened to the electrician's advice on those.
This isn't a very clear picture, so just use your imagination :)

Now i just have to fall in love with a granite counter top that isn't in the "exotic" price range!! And don't try to convince me to go with quartz or corian or anything's taken me a LONG time to finally decide on granite! :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday night Musings

Our front yard has a bit of a slope to it, and, with the recent removal of a few shrubs, it now runs into our neighbors yard. The kids just discovered today that they can roll down this hill. Abby didn't quite get it, but Grace and her neighbor buddies were loving it.

We just LOVE these neighbors! And they happen to have the most AMAZING garden in the world! They've given us enough zucchini to make these brownies 4 times in the past few weeks, plus some amazing tomatoes (since ours didn't fare too well in our sun-less garden), cucumbers, peppers, jalapeno peppers--how lucky are we?!?!?

You've really gotta try these--i half the oil, substitute applesauce, decrease the sugar by 1/4 cup, do half white/half whole wheat and they get scarfed down every time i make them!!

For family night tonight we invited some of our favorite people over. Reid taught the lesson--it was about Daniel in the lion's den. The kids were SOOOO into the story--it was really cute! Reid does such a good job with things like this. He made a lion puppet and let the kids take turns holding the puppet, being the angel, the king and Daniel--which means he told the story 5 times...and i'm pretty sure the kids would have done it 5 more times. Then the kids each got to make their own puppets. Thanks, babe, for being on top of the lesson tonight!

I love having people over. I love the company. I love visiting, and letting the kids run wild in the backyard. I love any excuse to make something yummy. And I love that having company is the ONLY thing that motivates me to clean my house. i don't have any after pictures, but here's what my house looked like before everyone came over. i should really be embarrassed to post these pictures. But, you know what, if i were to die tomorrow, there's a chance that my girls might not ever know how absolutely terrible their mom was at keeping the house clean, and that would be a shame. So, for posterity's sake, here it is.

And yes, that's the back of a Reese's Puffs cereal box on the couch. Who knew that you could find whole grain candy for breakfast?!??! It makes the soy milk i have to put on it almost bearable :)