Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Sweet Life Presents:




Welcome Autumn.



















The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
(well, one of them).


Fall Home Decor.

Hayrides.

Pumpkin Patches
(At the Andelin Family Farm: a must do!).

Orange & Reds & Browns.

Salt City Pumpkin Spice Candle.

Getting ready for Halloween.

The beginnings of Cozy.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
( with a special, best ever twist...recipe to follow - I promise).

























Monday, September 27, 2010

To Be or not to Be.





I am sure I am the most inconsistent, freakish blogger.

Two posts in one day. No post for two weeks. One post a week. Promises of the development of another blog. No such blog appears. Promises of weekly recipes. No such recipes.

Who cares really? I can't believe I've allowed my blog to become something on my to-do list. How silly. It's a blog. MY blog. I can do whatever I want. Right?

And what about the sharing of entirely too much information...personal information? I may have only two comments per post, but I do have a site meter, people. And I do have readers, from a small smattering of different places, and I'm blabbing quite a bit of rather classified tidbits.
Why do I do that?


Well, I'll tell you why.

I do play dumb. I do self-deprecate. But if I can applaud myself in one area, it is my genuine effort to remain real.

I'm not interested in shock value, garnering a laugh out of insecurity, or the abolition of decorum through the over-rated promotion of 'letting it all hang out'.

I am, however, interested in that specific point - that intersection -where honesty and dignity can coexist in a harmonious relationship of REAL. I do not believe the two are mutually exclusive.

I am NOT saying I've actually arrived at that intersection. Heaven's no. I'm usually miles from it. Attempting to steer in that direction and miserably swerving out of control after taking all the wrong turns.
In fact, I have only encountered a small handful of people in my lifetime who I can sincerely say have such a balance so perfectly mastered. You know the type. The person who so poignantly speaks truth, without a smidgen of self-promotion, self-righteousness, flattery or agenda. A person disarmingly relate-able and yet so inspirational. Capable of confidently sashaying from room to room, person to person, without offending or disrupting while still, almost incomprehensibly, maintaining integrity of self and character. You would positively hate them if you didn't love them so much.

How do they do it?
Beats the heck outta me.

But I appreciate them for it. And if anything, in my sometimes overly dramatic tirades or specific details about female issues, I am simply saying what I would want someone to say to me if in the same circumstance. It might come across as manufactured stupidity or an unwitting, unfiltered stream of consciousness stemming from a complete lack of maturity. But truth be told, and as boastful as it may seem, I am more calculating than that. I am good at stupid, but hardly stupid. I feel as though the theme of my life could easily be summed up as "hanging on by a thread", but for some odd reason I am still propelled forward by a firm conviction that I really do know what I am doing.

I love history, but get so. darn. frustrated. every time I read anything female related. Our details are missing. The information is not to be found. Go back 50 years and further and nobody thought to detail the background of what it was like to be a girl. A real girl. Why? Why were we too ashamed, too embarrassed, too full of a false sense of 'ladylike' to actually record the details of our pregnancies? Our insecurities? Our feelings? Our crazy?

Why, as I'm reading past accounts of midwifery and childbirth, are there no accounts other than brief medical details from male doctors? Even when it came to personal journals? Why do they rob me of such information? I want to know how women felt 150 years ago while carrying their husband's 11th child. I want to know how it felt to marry a man they barely knew. What was the sex like? Did she miss her Mom? What were her daydreams? How did she feel about the whole dowry situation? Did she experience depression? Enjoy breastfeeding? Want to devour her baby whole? Did she feel powerful?

There is a sentence from a book that still haunts me. It was a biography on Henry VIII's (think circa 1500 A.D.) first wife, Katherine (ok, all together now...go ahead and accuse me...NERD ALERT). She was in her teens, departing Spain - her homeland, her parents, her everything - to travel to England to marry the king. She would literally never. ever. see her family again. Ever. Ever ever. And she knew it. She didn't speak English. She wouldn't even be permitted to keep her Spanish servants (in an effort to fully assimilate into the role of an English queen with English servants). In the week leading up to the departure there is a brief mention of a delay, one caused by her suffering "an ague". Speculations can only be made as to what was making her sick, and the historian hypothesizes that she was upset to leave her parents. Heartbreaking. But what is even more heartbreaking is that for all the documentation we have on her, nothing personal - like this - is elaborated on. No first hand accounts. Her painful miscarriages and still-births. The death of her newborn baby boy. The demise of her marriage. Her isolation. Damn it Katherine, why didn't you tell me?

Why do I want to know such details?
Because in some universal way, it helps me.
To know that I might be the same. And different too.

So, in my entirely narcissistic visions of grandeur as I blog my life's stories, I picture some girl somewhere 150 years from now stumbling upon my information. And I see her laughing as she experiences urinary incontinence. Or bizarrely enlarged areolas. She might feel better about that time her children spilled their Ramen noodles everywhere and she let them eat it all with a fork directly off of the floor. Or forgive herself about the time she lamented being a wife.

Because she'll know that it's okay...Rae (circa 2010) did too.




























Beautiful people [and very in love].




Sarah and Chris' photographers shot a little video while they were taking their engagement photos in the stadium at Notre Dame.

I think you'll agree with me that it. is. darling.

Take a peek...


Christopher & Sarah - Engagement Session - Furore Photography from Furore Photography on Vimeo.








Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sabbath recommends...






I love Sundays. Even more so since I've become an adult/mother/wife/etc.
They used to be the bane of my weekly existence.
The day we went to church. The day we weren't allowed to go shopping or hang out with friends. Forced to take naps and spend time with our boring ol' siblings.

In my book, it was the day of DON'TS.

Ahh, the brain of a child.

It has just been within the past few years that it has sprung to the top of my list of favorites. I was asked to speak in church one Sunday a while back and my topic assigned was "Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy". After diving in more deeply, my initial reaction was curiosity over how the heck instructions on the Sabbath got into The Ten Commandments. Seriously, the top ten? Really? Is it that big of a deal?

*'Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy'
is an excellent segue into
*'Thou Shalt not Kill'.
You can totally see how the two relate, right?
Even the smallest child can make the obvious connection: Play hookey from church on a Sunday and you're clearly liable to end up committing adultery with the idol worshiping neighbor's spouse whose coveted car you've both stolen after you've murdered the parents you dishonored.

But as I thought further of this day, and more specifically what it means to me, it became clearer why it is so important:

A day of mandatory retreat from the world.
A day to keep holy.
A day to
reflect,
rest,
worship,
ponder,
renew.
A day intended to feed your spirit.

This is good stuff. And who doesn't need that? It is certainly something any busy person like myself would not make time for. An entire day devoted to this? Naaah, too much laundry... I must stock up on shampoo at Ulta while the sale is still going on...we need groceries....

I could not fathom making time for this...unless, of course...it was included in the Big Ten.

Now I've found it is my only day of complete family time. I can actually find a minute to bake a batch of cookies with Lily. Maybe deliver them to the neighbor (or eat them all in one sitting and promise myself that next Sunday we will deliver them to a neighbor). Crack open the scriptures. Visit with a friend after church. Talk with Tyler on the couch, with him looking so handsome as he unbuttons his shirt collar and loosens his tie. We both look quite lovely on Sunday after church...smelling fresh and hair done up nicely. It's fun to plop in bed together and mess it up.
Eat a big Sunday dinner with fluffy white rolls and chocolate cake.
Sit outside and chat with family.
Listen to wholesome music.

Which leads me to my recommendation...


Such a good variation on classic hymns. Which by the way, used to be the #2 bane of my existence. I know it's horrible to admit, but I've always had a hard time connecting with choirs singing hymns. It's like a hymnal vitamin deficiency or something. But these! Oh how I like these. My two favorites are "For the Beauty of the Earth" and "Sweet Hour of Prayer". I dare you to listen to these and not feel warm and fuzzy inside.

You should really check it out and watch the little video too.

And no worries - you don't even have to be Mormon to appreciate it!
You can thank me later.

Have a happy Sabbath day.

Keepin' it holy,

rae






Saturday, September 25, 2010

Family.

Family dinner Fall '09


It's nice to know you're loved. And be reminded.

Apparently my last post sent a little wave of worry through the family.

I received the first phone call from Dan...

"Hey Rae, I was just about to take Finnan on a little hike up in the mountains and was wondering if I could bring Lily and London along too so you can have a little break..."

"Why...do you think I'm crazy? You think I'm crazy. Did you read my blog or something? Are you worrying? Did Mom put you up to this?"

"No, not at all. I just thought of it myself."

Later it was Sarah...

"Hey! Just wanted to call and check in...read your blog and was thinking you maybe needed to talk...."

Then my Mom...

"Is everything okay? Your brothers have been calling and asking if I've read your blog...."

Earlier during the week, I was in at my Dad's office.
He took one look at my face and proceeded with:

"How ya doin' Rae pooper?"...."I sure wish I could be of more help"...."We're really proud of you ya know..."
(You know you must look really. bad. when he starts talking like this in the middle of a workday...)


Glad to see my dramatics have done their job. Boooohahaaaahaaaaaa. I've got them wrapped around my swollen pregnant finger.

Daniel did take the girls for a hike.
He returned and reported that they
"Are just like their mother...
They kept asking when we were going to sit down and take a break and eat a snack."

Yep, those are my girls. Making me proud.

Lily and London spent this afternoon up at Gamma and Pop's, where Mallory watched them so I could sneak out for a bit and shop in silence. I bought a few fall decorations for the house, pictures to come soon. I'm now tucked into my bed for the night. The girls are asleep, and Ian just walked through the door...he's my guest for the evening so I don't get too scared.

I know, I'm pathetic.

But sooo grateful for all these peeps. Don't know what I'd do without them.
And hence you see my predicament. I want so badly for my children to have as many siblings to share Sunday dinners with... but that would mean more pregnancies.
Cousins may have to do.




















Friday, September 24, 2010

A Lengthy Reflection on Crazy and the Meaning of T.M.I.

All the little people



It is 7:30am. I am sitting on the couch in the living room, waiting for Mr. Zack to arrive. Zack is my cousin Melanie's son: 3 years old, blonde haired, blue eyed, and 100% boy. He arrives in his latest Spiderman t-shirt with a Hot Wheels car in hand, calls me "Mom" and Tyler "Man" (entirely correct in the catalog of human generalizations), and pitifully whispers with one tear rolling down his cheek at nap-time, "But...but... I don't want to take a nap." However, he dutifully obeys. Gets into bed, three tears and all, and complains no further as he cuddles into a blanket and forces a smile as I tell him I'll see him when he wakes up.
Such a cute kid.

I've watched him for the past two weeks while his normal babysitter takes a little vacation. It's our annual Zack time. However, every morning of the past two weeks has been rather pathetic. They normally arrive at the doorstep and have to wait for me to actually hear them knocking. I'm still passed out on some bed or couch. I open the door, hair disheveled and in my bathrobe, half conscious, and insist that I'm still qualified to be his caretaker. Everything's fine!.. I insist in a smoker's voice with puffy eyes... Come on in! Just had a rough night!... This morning they entered into a messy household that included an old banana peel on the carpet and last night's dinner remnants all throughout the kitchen.

Rough nights have been the norm of my existence for several weeks. Rough nights after already rough days waddling around chasing toddlers with 6 weeks left until delivery. It certainly hasn't helped that London has become the world's loudest snoring child, begging nightly to climb into our bed and snort us out of sanity. She is also the world's biggest cuddler. I love that squishy body, oh boy do I. But at 3am, I could really survive without her little chubby face breathing and grunting directly into mine as she holds tightly onto my neck. Plus, the poor girl's allergies have been bothering her, so she ends up coughing through the night. Coughing and coughing and coughing.

Add that to an extra 40 pound layering of skin and fat and baby all over my pregnant body, heat flashes, leg cramps, and 5 average nightly trips to the bathroom, and it suddenly becomes startlingly clear:

This is why I've lost my freaking mind.

This is why I have been crying for the past 5 days straight, unable to get a handle on these 'mysterious' pregnant hormones. The worst crying spell of which hit yesterday when Tyler called to tell me he unexpectedly had to leave out of town on business and wouldn't be able to return until Sunday. Just as the weekend was approaching. My break. My rest. My solace. My chance to reconnect with him and enjoy time with an actual adult. All gone gone gone!

It didn't help that we had already experienced a rather tumultuous past week as husband and wife. I'm not going to lie, and this may come as a real shocker to anyone familiar with this blog (hint, sarcasm): but pregnancies are not the highlight of Tyler and I's marriage. Instead of it being this incredibly intimate time of belly rubbing and massage oil and savoring our baby making capacities, it is more like an intense battle we fight through for the ultimate prize. We want the baby. We dread the pregnancy.

I'm sure it could be better. I'm sure I could be better at this whole thing. But I'm not, and that is the reality of it. It would help if pregnancy was a universally miserable experience for every woman involved. That would at least alleviate my guilt as I stand next to another delightfully cheerful pregnant mother. But instead it's more comparable to adult acne: some poor souls get it and some don't. And I feel like the biggest festering zit on the face of human fertility. Really.

As if the physical ramifications weren't enough, my emotions run so deep. I get entirely too reflective. I simmer and stew and ponder endlessly the state of a female's condition. The way our bodies are required to go to hell and back for a new life. And in my case, going to hell and back repeatedly, in order to achieve the amount of little heads I want surrounding my dinner-table. I have terrible allergies lately and can't take my normal medications....therefore my eyes itch and I sneeze constantly....and pee. Pee my pants. Over and over. And the hemorrhoids...nobody dares to even speak about them...they are embarrassing and painful enough...and the obsessive need to chew ice...and the swelling. Everywhere, so much swelling. And all of this before I actually must give birth. Lose sleep. Get mastitis again. Work endlessly to repair my body to pre-pregnancy shape (albeit impossible because a certain extent of permanent damage seems to be done with each pregnancy) and re-enter the world of female comparison and perfectionism and self-loathing.

And I get angry. Extremely angry.
We got the shaft, ladies.
We really got screwed (no pun intended).

And during this time it seems entirely (cough, ahem) rational to direct all anger at the one person responsible for everything: him. This man. This is all. your. fault. Tyler. You and all of stupid mankind and your immunity from this system. You are who God gave as a companion through all of this? A man? A penis slinging human incapable of really understanding because his body will never. ever. go through this process? A boy who teases about fluctuating nipple sizes?

My poor husband, who really does want to be there for me when I don't even want to talk to him about it. I'd rather not voice the realities of my condition and further exacerbate the image of damaged goods I already feel like I'm becoming. I'm already clearly aware of all of the other beautiful women roaming the earth on a regular basis surrounding our martial existence, so accuse me of closing the lines of open communication and honesty, but I choose to leave out any details about hemorrhoids (until now). And consequently I feel isolated and lonely and give weird silent treatments to avoid crying until I randomly lash out and behave like the crazy pregnant woman, leaving my husband in a state of confusion and wonderment over what he did wrong. Well for starters Sir, as mentioned previously, you did choose to marry the zit on the face of human fertility. Not that you, or she, knew it at the time (and hence the addition of the clause "for better or for WORSE").

Mmmhmmm, hardly the honeymoon of our marital experience.

But the good thing about having done this repeatedly is that I know the war will eventually end. This one at least, and I will get my prize. And strangely, insanely enough - even after it all, I will look at that little face, and Tyler will hold her and kiss my cheek as we stare at her little body, and we will feel more complete and more happy than ever as she grows and becomes the perfect addition to our family, and miraculously concur that we yes - we would choose to do it all over again if necessary.

The battle is so fierce, but maybe I am a stronger soldier than I thought.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm about to sneeze again and should really get to a toilet.





















Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mind food.



Ever stress about global warming?
I don't/do/have no clue/am sick of the debate/slightly fearful/confused/generally ignore it/guilt induced on a regular basis for not using reusable plastic bags at Walmart.

Here is an article I came across today, citing a Nobel Prize winning Physicist's views on the matter.
A short, easy read, check it out:

Here.

"And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith...

... Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms."

D&C 88:79, 118


Oh yes, and a cute picture of my children hogging our bed while sleeping in.
(The only reason I had two seconds to actually read anything):





Have a good day.










Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Catching up.






I've been gone for a while.
Too tired,
too busy,
too pregnant.
I really don't like it when I get like this. My mental and physical states don't seem to match up to my life requirements. I have a bajillion things running through my little life sieve: thoughts/memories/moments,
but only a few are caught and actually savored and elaborated on.

Two major events of the past two weeks:


1. The Newlyweds:


Jacob and Erica.
Aww, so sweet.
It is so fun to watch two people in love swear their devotion to each other.
Really, nothing is more beautiful when you think about it. Come rain or shine or watching a baby crown its head into the world while your wife screams profanities at you...you two promise to make it work. It's all very inspiring.
I felt lucky sitting next to my own groom, watching Jacob and Erica make their vows while contemplating the enormity of what they were committing to.
Marriage is spectacular, and so. much. bigger. than you think it is when you first set out starry eyed. Only six years in, and I continue to learn that, and am pleasantly surprised at how it has exceeded my greatest expectations (truth I tell you!).


At the Reno reception, I got to be in charge of flowers. yes!




On the big day, all eyes and cameras were on them...until Finn so rudely decided to show up in a tux. How dare he.
My camera now has approximately 897 [unbelievably cute] pictures of him, and I failed to get any good close-ups of the bride and groom. Oh dear.




Finn and Auntie Sarah
Lol. Just for you Sarahbear.

Okay okay, fine - here's this one:

Sarah and Finn's pretty Momma Ali.


Tyler and I decided on a whim to escape and fly to the Arizona wedding ourselves and leave our munchkins behind (as fun as driving for 14 hours with them would have been). We spent the best few days with our dear friends Joan and Brandon and their adorable boys Jimmie and Max (Joan is expecting boy #3 one day after me). It was so good to catch up with my Joanie while rubbing each other's fat feet.



Oh yes, which reminds me...
Lily and London, meet your future husbands:


Rocking the dance floor.
I knew you girls would appreciate that.
You would also appreciate the fact that BOTH of them told your big prego Momma that she "looked so pretty" as she was getting ready for the wedding. For real.
I'm not letting them get away, betrothal documents have already been signed.


And now for second big event, and pathetic disclaimer:

2. Lily's first day of preschool...
that her mother wasn't present for because she was at the wedding. Here she is on Nonna and Pop's doorstep.
I know, I know. I'll never forgive myself either.


But we did have a special Mom & Lily lunch and shopping date together before I left to pick out her first day of preschool outfit. Here's what she chose:


We picked up an outfit for Lundy girl too.
Which she wears daily...pink boots and all.



Nonna was an excellent stand-in (thank you Nonna), and spoiled the girls with another trip to Build-a-Bear, where Lily chose a new puppy and London picked the exact same stuffed kitty she chose last time. Only a Nonna would purchase two of the exact same kitties. Lily and London, you are blessed/spoiled/blessed/spoiled/blessed.



Lily at Miss Susan's most amazing preschool...




.......




And I really have no decent conclusion to these events.

Now you've been caught up.

I'm still tired.




The end.







Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lucky girl.

Dear Lily,

Since you were about 2 years-old, you have suffered the occasional night terror. Suddenly, after an hour or so of sleep, you will wake up screaming and crying. Completely un-consolable, thrashing and kicking, you will sob and sob.

At first we couldn't understand. Is something wrong? Are you hurting? Tyler - is this some sort of seizure? Should we call 911? No - call Grandma Sharon. We listed off the symptoms one night at 11pm as you were freaking out in the background. Gigi, I think Lily's brain is about to explode. She is awake and screaming but won't listen to us. She's throwing a massive tantrum for no good reason... so I'm thinking this has got to be a brain tumor and my life and happiness are forever over as I know it. She patiently listened (as always), and quickly explained you were having a classic night terror. Slightly different from a "nightmare", night terrors are something children experience occasionally. They seem awake but are not, and a parent must simply have to wait for it to pass. They usually don't remember anything in the morning.

Yours are aggravated by lack of sleep. In fact, the quality of your sleep is inversely related to how tired you are: the more tired you are, the worse you sleep. And sometimes consequently, a night terror will strike. They usually pass within 20 to 30 minutes, but don't be fooled - they are still rather torturous to a tired parent. We will lie next to you and wait (you usually won't let us hold you)...and wait and wait and wait. Until finally, your little body succumbs to slumber.

It happened again two nights ago, after you had gone to bed. It had been a busy day, and you had been sneezy with allergies all day. Bedtime was late, and sure enough after an hour you awoke whoopin' and a hollerin'. Ironically, on this particular night, I had congratulated myself on crawling into bed a good hour early. I was tired, weary to the bone from a loooong pregnant day. We had a packed schedule for the upcoming day, and I was excited to catch up on my energy levels. When I heard you begin crying, just as I had entered a good state of shut-eye, I cringed.

Here we go again
.

Daddy and I pulled you into bed with us, trying to calm you down. To no avail. And I, being the ever perfect example of motherly patience, suggested that maybe we should just chain you to the fence in the backyard and return to bed. Okay, I didn't really say that. But part of me felt that way. I was frustrated and tired. Why can't she just sleep?!!!

Instead your Daddy - sensing my misery and woe, and your misery and woe - scooped you out of the bed and cuddled you up to his chest. Your arms were wrapped tightly around his big shoulders and you sobbed into his neck and shrieked into his ear. And he calmly walked around with you, gently whispering sweet things in your ear. At first it wasn't helping as you continued to fight his embrace, but then your body melted slightly more into his frame. It's okay Lu, Daddy's here... Everything's okay.... Just go sleep, Daddy's got you...I'm here with you....

It was a dear sight watching his strong arms hold your little body as he rocked you back and forth. He tickled your back and kissed your tear-stained cheeks. And not once cracking in irritation he held you until finally the cries gradually ceased, your breathing steadied, and you fell fast asleep.