Friday, January 30, 2009

Kale, anybody?

So, i've been reading a poorly written, yet extremely informative book lately that has re-reminded me about how important our diet can be to our overall health. I'm really trying to get some more of certain veggies that the author just can't say enough about into our diets, and i've learned TONS of stuff i didn't know. I also downed one whole package of pull 'n peels while i read this book . . . so, you know, grain of salt, pot and kettle, etc.

One of his favorites is kale.

You can look it up here, or here, or here, or just take my word for it--this stuff is GOOD FOR YOU!! (Reid was convinced kale was a sea vegetable--confusing it with kelp, perhaps??--it's not, it's in the cabbage family, but i think is closer to spinach or chard)

And this is, so far, our favorite way of eating it:
  • 1 frozen banana

  • 1/2 cup (or more) yogurt--any flavor, or plain, or my favorite--homemade!!

  • 2 cups coarsely chopped kale leaves (be sure to wash and remove the stems)

  • dash of vanilla

  • any frozen or fresh berries you have on hand-blueberries are on sale in all the stores here

  • milk, if needed
Toss all ingredients into your blender and blend until smooth--how easy is that???My girls really do love this smoothie--and we have been having yogurt smoothies every day with all our antibiotics, so, we're becoming smoothie connoisseurs. And, contrary to public opinion, this kale shake isn't the first time they've had anything with sugar in it :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

red, white and pink

I almost made it through the first one minute of the inauguration without crying...until Grace started asking why today was so special--and then the flood gates opened!! I'm sure nothing i said made sense to her as i rambled off some bit of history and a bit about racism (realizing, again, that she truly doesn't see race yet...i'm wondering when it'll come) and slavery (which she rightfully compared to Cinderella), but it made the moment all the more memorable for me. Now, i did not vote for Obama because he's black, neither do I believe that he won because he's black and I don't think he'll make a better president because he's black...but i do think that today is a day most of us will never forget because he is black.

. . . and because of that AWESOME benediction!!! "when brown can stick around"??? -- that was great :)
My sister was telling me about a sign, or bumper sticker that she saw that she just loved. I liked the first three lines of it, but the last line was a bit anti-climatic. Anybody have a good ending for it? it goes like this:

Rosa Parks sat so that
MLK could stand so that
Obama could run so that
________ can ______

Anybody? Anybody?

Now on to the "pink." We have had pink eye going around our house for the past 11 days. It started with me and my AWFUL sinus infection that had kept us in the house for 5 days before the outbreak. So my sinus infection led to my conjunctivitis (pink eye)
which, 2 days later led to Eliza's pink eye, which, 3 days later led to Abby's pink eye, which, 2 days later led to Grace's pink eye, which, 2 days later led back to Eliza re-getting pink eye!!! My poor baby just finished her 7-day antibiotic ointment treatment, and 2 days later got it again!!!
Just shoot me now, somebody. Cause Abby's still hasn't cleared up, Eliza's got it now--we're honestly just going to keep giving it back and forth to each other for the rest of our lives!!!!! At least Grace's went away with a very simple home remedy that my dear friend, Sarah, introduced us to (which unfortunately didn't work for her sisters). Putting in that ointment is the most dreaded thing of my day. i have to pin Abby down (kicking, screaming, spitting, biting, etc) FOUR TIMES A DAY just to get that stuff in her eyes--for SEVEN DAYS!!!! Even Eliza really mastered the dodging of the ointment!!
We haven't seen our friends, been to church, or basically left the house since we got back from Christmas break! Luckily my girls have been pretty sweet, Eliza's 2nd tooth is all the way thru (which means i'm sleeping at night again), the weather's been REALLY nice, we have a fantastic backyard, and really we're not totally going crazy yet...but it's about to happen, i can feel it. And i really don't know how to get this out of our systems!! Does anybody out there have ANY advice besides burning our house down or living in bubbles????

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Christmas-Days 2-9

I feel so overwhelmed by all that i want to write about Christmas that i just keep putting it off. But it's never not going to feel overwhelming, and I'm never going to have the time to put as much thought into this post as I'd like to, so i'm just going to write and post pictures and hope that my (ever-failing) memory can fill in the gaps years down the road. (This is going to be looooooooong, so feel free to close your web browser right now--this post's for me and my posterity :) )

Apart from totaling our van, it truly was the best Christmas EVER! We spent a week at Reid's parents house, and it was awesome. Their house is so calm, so relaxing. We played games, watched movies, watched the grandkids play together and fight together, ate some delicious food, chopped down the Christmas tree (the highlight for Reid), made ginger-bread houses, devoured all the goodies that their neighbors brought by, sewed, quilted and finished Christmas gifts and other projects, read tear-jerking Christmas stories, and really enjoyed each other's company. It was the perfect break for me. Reid's parents are SOOOOO good at playing with the kids and keeping them happy, it truly feels how a vacation should feel. Here are a few of the highlights:

Making ginger-bread houses
playing in/resting on/eating the snow on the way to the Cutting of the Tree

Reid in all his tree-cutting glory
Reid's tough sister, Karen, hauling the tree to the truck

Eliza had to put herself down for naps most the time since her mom was too busy not being a mom :) I love that she fell asleep with her hand on this little keyboard.

Eliza did great this vacation considering that she was getting this. I figured she was just going through a growth spurt, but no, my little 4-month old was teething!! The other one has all but broken through now, too!

Poor Christopher had to watch princess movie after princess movie with all these girls
I started these dresses last year. I luckily cut them out to be one size too big, so this year they were only one size too small...and i had enough fabric for Eliza's make-shift attempt at a dress, too! My good friend Candace gave Eliza those gold shoes which matched the gold in the dresses perfectly!!

Grace and cousin Ella had a blast together. Ella gets Grace out of her comfort zone in many ways, which is great! And Grace was thouroughly exhausted at the end of each day spent with her.

Christmas Eve was sooooo great. We did a brief and chaotic reenactment of the Nativity. Grace was Mary--she was so solemn, and so serious--it was great! Abby was a sheep, since she's mastered the baa sound and was wearing white. Christopher was Joseph, and Ella was the angel who sang "Silent night....sleep in heavenly pee..." and, of course, Eliza was baby Jesus. It was short, yes, but very, very sweet.
Oh, and Reid was an ass.

Christmas Day

Although Grace "gets" the whole idea of Santa, she still wasn't too excited about him bringing her anything. If it is possible, i think i maybe went too far with the "Christmas is about giving to others" concept with her, 'cause the only thing she got excited about was what other people were getting--which is really sweet, and really not too surprising about my attention-hating, big-hearted 3-year old. So, Christmas morning, after waking up a semi-bright-eyed Abby at 7:30am ,we had to literally drag Grace out of bed, so that her cousins (who had been up for over an hour) and sister could see what Santa brought. She was too tired to be excited about this Santa dude that she already didn't care for, and she was way more interested in what he'd brought Abby than what Santa had laid out on the chair for her.

Abby loved her little (garage sale) tea set :)

Grace eventually did wake up and decided to show interest in her new Dorothy dress and shoes that she'd "asked" Santa for. Again, she wasn't really that interested in asking Santa for anything, so when we sat down to write him a letter (since talking to him was out of the question) she finally agreed that she'd like some new Dorothy shoes. And since i'd found this dress for mere pennies after Halloween we thought we'd just repeat last year's success--yes, we gave her a Dorothy dress and shoes again. But, as we'd suspected, she absolutely loved the shoes and especially the dress--She wore it for 5 straight days !! (which is probably really gross and i should probably delete that...)

It was so fun watching all the kids Christmas morning. They'd open a couple presents and then run off for an hour to play with them, then come back for breakfast, and then open another gift, and then run off again to play some more, and then come back for lunch. Needless to say, they didn't open all their gifts that day, so we ended up taking the rest of ours with us to my parents house for Christmas: Take 2.

Reid and I had agreed not to spend any $$ on each other this year for many reasons. I, however, found a brilliant way of still giving him a wonderful gift and obeying our one rule. I created a FREE photo album on snapfish (courtesy of Oprah). I was so proud of myself that I'd gotten Reid something that i knew he'd LOVE and that had only cost me the price of shipping! I was sure this was MY year to "out do" him (i know it's not a competition, but i'm on such a losing streak, it's hard not to think of it that way!) but i was W-R-O-N-G!! Although he did LOVE the photo album, it didn't make him nearly wet his pants the way I did when I found what he gave me

Reid surprised me with something i've been wanting since the day Grace was born (something that we'd planned to get for like our 10th anniversary)! I have never, in my life, been so surprised to receive a gift. He is usually no good at doing things like this without me being in on it, so i could not believe my eyes when he sent me on a treasure hunt Christmas morning that lead me to my very own REAL camera!! I feel so insanely spoiled

I can't begin to count the precious moments I haven't captured on film because of the stinkin' delay on my old camera, or the potentially AWESOME photo shoots that have turned out crappy because of my over-powering flash. I am so excited to learn how to use all of the awesome features it has. So, thanks babe, once again, for out-doing yourself! As I've told you one BILLION times, I LOVE MY NEW CAMERA!!!!!!!!!!!
Side Note: we spent days 9 and 10 in SLC with Tom and Jana, Reid's bro and his wife. She was just days away from delivering their first kid--a boy--so they missed out on all the festivities. We had a great time with them, and although we don't have any pictures of that time, we do have pictures of their baby who was just born on Monday!! He's the cutest thing in the world, and we're so insanely happy that he's here and that he's healthy and that all those would-be complications miraculously (and i mean that quite literally) disappeared!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Christmas 2008 - Day One

We had the most awesomest, wonderfulest, bestest Christmas this year. And i'll get to all of it soon. But i thought i'd better start at the very beginning, which in this case, is the very worst place to start.

We left on Friday, the 19th around 12:30 in the afternoon. We were trying to beat the storm that was coming that day. We didn't beat it.

I took this picture at about 4:40--just so i could blog about how bad the driving conditions were...kinda funny...
About half way to Reid's parents' house, in the middle of Nowhere, WY, we did this to our car.

The accident was our "fault," even though we're much more prone to blame the icy roads, the limited visibility, the stupid driver who stopped half way into the break down lane, and the two semis stopped next to one another in both lanes. Reid had two choices as we unsuccessfully tried to stop--either pull into the borrow pit and risk flipping the car, or just keep pumping the brakes and hope we'd catch assfault before hitting the guy in front of us. Well, we hit the guy. We were only going about 15 miles an hour (which you wouldn't believe by looking at the picture!) The airbags didn't even deploy. But it did make our car undriveable. The next 6 hours played out like this:

4:45 accident happens. Reid swears. Emily calls 911.
4:46-Grace wets her pants (but not all the way, which plays out later), Emily deals with that while Reid's standing out on a snowy I-80, talking to the guy we hit, who happened to be NICEST man in the world--thank heavens for that!!
4:51 Emily gets out and sees the damage to car and surprises Reid with a few explitives or her own.
4:52-6:45 We wait for the State Trooper. We feel quite vulnerable sitting there on the side of an increasingly snowier freeway. It's dark now, too. The car's still running (again, thank heavens!!) so we're warm. The girls are complaining , they're sick of being in the car (it's been 5+ hours at this point) and Grace is crying relentlessly about how desparately she needs to go peepee and how it hurts so bad and how she doesn't know how to go in a diaper anymore. This is one of the hardest things for mom to deal with.
6:50 -State trooper shows up. Reid disappears into his car for what seemed like HOURS. And then it happens. Emily has the breakdown. It had to happen, right? I just started crying hysterically and every time Grace would cry about how badly she had to pee i would just cry more. The word hysteric doesn't quite capture my state of being. Thankfully Reid was back soon and he was able to hold it together!!
7:30 Reid gets back in the van and finds 4 girls all crying hysterically (okay, Abby and Eliza actually did REALLY well, but it makes a better picture this way). Reid tries to convince a hysteric Grace to sit over the Bumbo and pretend it's a toilet (we'd put a diaper in the seat) and Grace just screams more.
7:45 The State Trooper encourages us to try to drive the van to the next exit--BIG MISTAKE, dude!! After driving it about half a mile the (cracked) radiator gives out, which means that the heat went out, and we had to turn the car off. This does not do good things for the melt-down which i'm having! But at the same time, it kind of switches me into "mom mode" and i start putting as many clothes and blankets on the girls as i could find.
8:30 The temperature in the car is still a comfortable 40 degrees. The storm outside is a billion times worse than when we started. We've gone through most of the food we brought, with the exception of a few oranges and the head of cabbage that i rescued from my crisper (i know, i'm ridiculous, but i couldn't let it go to waste!) We're starting to think that the tow dude is never coming. Grace is still screaming about how bad it hurts and how she knows that there's a bathroom here and that we're lying saying that there isn't.
8:45 The tow truck finally shows up. I feel a sense of calm that I thought I'd never feel again. Those four hours were the longest hours of my life. We felt like sitting ducks there parked on the side of an icy freeway. And i was sure it was never going to end. So when that tow truck showed up, I felt something so beyond relief, it's impossible to describe. I think I even told the tow truck driver that I loved him.

Here are the girls in the back of the tow truck. What you can't see is Grace holding Eliza's hand in hers--so sweet!!!

8:46-8:51 My amazing husband picks the girls up in their carseats trudges through 18" of snow and somehow boosts them into the 4 feet high cab of the truck. I've told this story a million times, and I've never been able to do justice to how amazed I was by Reid in this moment. Maybe it wasn't really a big deal, but in that moment it seemed like he was approaching super-heroism lifting those 40+lbs carseats over his head like that.
9:00 Our van is on the truck, and we're on the road. Matt, the driver, informs us that this is going to cost us (drum roll, please) $491 American dollars!! We're really wishing we would have forked out that $4/month for roadside assitance....
9:00-9:50 I try many, many times to talk Matt down on the price. Matt, although extremely nice, stood his ground. I don't get rejected very often when bargaining with people, so I really didn't know how to react. On any other day, in any other moment, I wouldn't have given up so easily. But $$$ could not have seemed less important in this moment. He could have said $4000 and we still would have paid it. Getting my children off the side of the freeway and into a safe, warm place had no price limit in that moment. And for me, the penny pinching queen, to say that is a big deal.
9:30 Reid convinces Grace to just let "a little bit of pee pee into the diaper" and she DOES IT!!! And then she realized that it isn't the worst thing in the world, and she empties that bladder that she's been holding onto for 4+ hours. Thank heavens!!
9:50 Matt agrees to take us on a detour (without charging us extra--not that $491 isn't enough), to the Rock Springs airport, where they drop me off to get a car rental.
9:55-10:15 I'm at the Rock Springs airport (if this airport's existence doesn't shock you as much as it did us, then you've never driven past Rock Springs) waiting for the nervous teenaged boy to get the jammed receipt out of the printer so i can get in my car and go. Meanwhile, Reid and the girls are in the tow truck on their way to the ONLY mechanic in a 134 mile radius who "won't be able to get to our car until late January, at the earliest"...
10:20-10:30 I meet up with the rest of the clan at the mechanic's lot. It's negative 16 degrees outside. We load the girls into the rental (a wee little SUV) and spend the next 10 minutes trying to a) not get frost bite on our fingers and faces and b) load EVERYTHING from our HUGE mini van into the back of the Trail Blazer (I dont' know how you SUV drivers with kids do it, i honestly don't, those things are TINY!!!). We knew right then that there was a huge chance we'd never get to see our van again, so we had to take EVERYTHING out. We had 2 HUGE suitcases, 2 pack n' plays, 2 guitars (we'll get to that later) a booster seat, 200+ diapers, a bumbo, all the presents for both of our families, blankets, all the stuff that's just always in our van (visor CD holder, atlases, manuals, flashlights, etc). So Grace and I had loads of stuff on our laps. And we still had to leave a few items in the van. Including the cabbage.
10:45pm -We show up at the dumpiest, smelliest, grimiest motel in the world...and we couldn't have been happier! We ordered pizza, jumped on the beds, called our families, watched The Santa Clause and finally crashed just before midnight. Yes, our sweet children were up until midnight and I couldn't have cared less. It's amazing what a dose of perspective will change.

We felt so blessed that night just to be alive. Even though what happened wasn't really all that "life-threatening" it just kind of opened our eyes to all the could have happened. And all that didn't happen. I couldn't even begin to count how many times "i love you's" were exchanged. And it never seemed like enough.

We offered at least 10 vocal prayers of thanks that day. Grace started being a little weirded out by how many times we kept praying, I can't say I blame her! But what else could we do???? We were alive. Just as alive as we'd been the night before, yes, but this night was different because we recognized God's hand in it. I didn't sleep much that night in the hotel, needless to say. Neither did Reid. Between the replaying of the accident and the prayers of gratitude, our minds and hearts would not stop. But the girls slept, which was wonderful.

We returned the car to the Jackson airport the next day (we didn't have rental coverage either...and yes, i've learned my lesson) and Reid's WONDERFUL parents let us borrow their car the rest of the trip. The insurance adjuster confirmed what we'd suspected--the van's a total loss. So they pay us what the van was worth before the accident, and we spent much time in UT test driving new vans. None of them seemed like quite the right fit. But a dear friend of ours here in CO test drove this beauty for us:

And we came home the next day and bought it! Anyone who knows the Odyssey knows that there are some pretty big differences between and '03 and an '06 and I've been coveting the newer model since the day we bought our old one. And now, only one crazy accident and greatly increased insurance premiums later, I've got it! Merry Christmas to me!!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Abby's turning 2!!!!

There are about a billion things i need to write about, and i'm hoping to have time later this week, but tonight i've got one thing on my mind--my sweet, hilarious, mischievous, blond-haired, blue-eyed Abby.

Two years ago tonight i was driving down a traffic jammed I-25 when my contractions started coming 1 minute apart. In a panic we called 911. Ten minutes later there were 3 firetrucks, 2 ambulances and 1 cop car (stopping all lanes of traffic--people must have LOVED us!!!) The medics put me on the gurney, and started to the hospital. I was hysterical thinking that Reid might miss the birth of his 2nd child, but they insisted that he drive the car behind us. But what i remember the most was repeating "does this mean i won't get my epidural?!?" over and over (this should not surprise anyone who's ever talked to me about labor). Well, we made it to the hospital with PLENTY of time to spare (that's the really embarrassing part). And four hours and one AWESOME epidural later Baby Girl Allred was born (it took us four days to name her).

I never could have imagined then how much energy, happiness, spunk, trouble and fun that baby girl would bring into our lives. And i can only imagine now what might be down the road. I couldn't begin to write down the million things about Abby that make her so much fun. But if you've spent even just a couple hours with this girl you know exactly what i'm talking about. She literally lights up a room. Since she was about 6 months old people have been commenting on how much "personality" she has. And although that means different things to different people, it's all true about Abby.

Abby and Reid making their Gingerbread house at Reid's parents' house

She's started singing before she talked. When she was about 13-14 months old you could sing "rif raf, street rat..." and she'd sing "i don't buy that" (from Aladdin). She sings the ABC's all the time, and if ever Reid or I try to join her she says "no, no, no" and she'll start singing Twinkle, Twinkle...and if Reid and I try to join her on that song she says "no, no, no" and starts back with the ABC's...this can go on and on and on :) She picks up on songs so quickly, it amazes me! I'd try to list her repertoire, but i honestly don't have the time!

(she's about 16 months in this video--it took 2+ months to get some good footage of this! Dan E.--you're gonna love this!!)

She makes me laugh every day. She talks a mile a minute. Most people haven't a clue as to what she's saying. But i usually can translate. I love being that person for her--she's so fun to translate for because she's almost always saying something amusing.

She gets into everything (as our families can attest after 1 week spent at each of their homes!) and she is as stubborn as they come. And she's mastered the art of tattling. It doesn't help that Reid and I laugh hysterically every time she comes into the room crying "Gracie hit, Gracie hit"...

Tackling Grandpa

She's the perfect amount of extrovert for her introvert sister. She loves the attention that Grace hates. She adores Grace, and Grace adores her. They fight like the dickens. But they truly are best friends. Although i hate how she screams bloody murder when we drop Grace off at school, there's nothing sweeter than her squeals and screams as we pick her up. I just love seeing these two girls reunite after 2.5 long hours apart.

When we found out about Eliza's fortuitous arrival I was so concerned that my Abby would have "middle child syndrome" and that she would get "lost" in the middle of this threesome. But it has become very clear to me over the past few months that Abby is completely incapable of getting "lost". Not just because of the volume in her voice (which is not to be underestimated) but because of who she is and how she is. I really do feel pretty lucky to be her mom.

I love you, Abigail Kate. Happy 2nd Birthday!!!