Thursday, January 29, 2015

An Ode to Poop . . .

Okay, so this isn't really an ode in the traditional sense, but it’s just too good a story not to share. Let me first put this disclaimer out there (in case it wasn't made obvious by the brazen title. Hehe) that this is a post about poop. So, if you get a little uncomfortable with this topic, or if you still have yet to be exposed to the less glittery parts that come with having children, then this post may not be for you. I know, I know . . . children are beautiful, wonderful angels, sent from our Heavenly Father to bless our lives and bring us immense joy - and I am so grateful to have four of my own - but let’s be real for a second . . . being a parent is messy. I am sorry to dampen the illusion here, but any new parent will come to this realization the very first time a newborn poops on them. lol. 

I know that this is still somewhat of a tabu topic, but come on, Dinosaur Train has an entire song dedicated to the subject, and I think it’s time we all get a little more comfortable talking about poop. That being said, can I just state the fact that I am not a fan of potty training! I will even go so far as to say that I LOATHE the topic completely, and I have plenty of logic to justify my rationale here, but this experience takes the cake . . . or should I say, the poo! 

My two-year-old has been potty training for a month now, and for the last few weeks, I have had to leave her completely “butt-nakey” while at home because she’s gotten to the point where she will go pee pee in the potty when she doesn’t have any clothes on (from the waist down), but will pee in her pants if you put the even slightest piece of clothing on her (even a pair of panties). 

So yeah, we’ve had a little nudest in our midst for the past few weeks, and she has been doing really well during the day in the potty area. Still, she refuses to sit on the toilet and go poop, so I’ve been a little nervous to take away the Easy-Ups at nap time and bed time, or any time when we happen to be out and about running errands - for fear that she might have an accident when a clean bathroom and/or shower are not readily available. Then, she started doing something super naughty. She would continuously tell me that she did not have to go poop (in order to avoid a trip to the toilet under my supervision), but then would sneak an Easy-Up out of the nursery, put it on all by herself, then proceed to poop in said Easy-Up.

I finally got to the point where I felt like her over-all progress was at a stand-still, and if she was becoming aware of her need to poo to the point that she could put an Easy-Up on to relieve herself, then she was definitely just as capable of telling me she had to use to restroom so I could take her to the potty. 

Anyway, at this point, I was completely fed up with the whole process, and I suddenly had an epiphany: I had been allowing her to use the Easy-Ups at nap time/bedtime, etc. to avoid an accident, but what I was really doing was enabling her to use them as a crutch to avoid any real accountability in the #2 department, and It was stalling her progression. As long as I made the Easy-Ups available, she knew that she had them as an option.

So, a few nights ago, I decided to take away the Easy-Ups (altogether) cold-turkey. The first night, she did really well and actually slept through the entire night without a single accident. She woke up the next morning completely dry, so I took her right into the bathroom and she went potty (Yay!). I was feeling so proud and even posted about our victory on Facebook. 

She stayed dry pretty much all day - even when we were out and about running errands. I thought to myself, “Yay! Maybe taking the Easy-Ups away finally did the trick. Maybe, since she no longer has them to lean on (or pee in), she has realized that she HAS to go in the potty . . . all she has to do now is figure out the poop part." Right?

Then came the night. It all started when she wet the bed (in MY bed, mind you) in the wee hours of the morning. I was lying there one minute, all cozy under the covers, having a nice, comforting dream, I am sure, about something warm and dry . . . and then I rolled over onto the pee-soaked sheets. Now, those of you with children have probably encountered something delightfully similar to the pleasurable experience of being ripped from your sleep only to realize that you are suddenly lying in someone else’s urine, so I am sure you can totally relate to the gaggle of thoughts that raced through my only-partially coherent mind. It was only pee; though (I  can assure you that as a parent, I have come into contact with much worse), so after my initially annoyed reaction of, “REALLY?!?” I just got a towel and laid it down underneath her. Don’t judge. lol. I figured that if she could sleep through lying in her own pee, then there was no point in waking her up to change the sheets. Besides, the baby was also in the bed, and I didn’t even dare risk waking THAT beast. There’d be no getting back to sleep for sure. 

Now, before you get too concerned about our lovely, new-ish, EXPENSIVE mattress, please take comfort in the fact that the mattress protector WAS on the mattress when all of this went down. So, at least I can praise the heavens for that little saving grace. That mattress protector, my friends, is seriously one of the best purchases we have made to date. You cannot survive parenthood without one. 

So, after all of that was said and done, I had nothing but hope for a more productive day on the potty-training front. B-Boo slept for a few more hours, then woke up dry and went straight to the potty. She even did really well throughout the morning, notifying me when she had to go, and she didn’t have any accidents - but then came the terrible, awful . . . 

Not long after lunch, she started to complain that her bum was hurting, and from past experience, I had come to realize that this usually meant she was cooking up a nice #2. I asked her several times if she needed to go “poopy", but she kept assuring me that she didn’t. I even tried to get her to sit on the potty at one point, and she absolutely refused, so I figured maybe her bum WAS just hurting. After all, she had been a little constipated, so I thought maybe she had a mild case of hemorrhoids, poor thing.

I should have just followed my instincts and MADE her sit on the potty; though, for just as I allowed myself to get preoccupied with putting away some laundry (heaven forbid I try to be productive while my child is potty-training), she walked into the room with a look of discomfort on her face, stopped a few feet away from where I stood, distracted, and sort of bent her knees awkwardly, reaching down between her legs. I thought at first that she was just trying to convey that her bum was hurting again, but instead, her expression turned to one of repugnance as she stood upright and held out a handful of poop. 

She then stood there wailing, “Ew ew ew ew ew ew,” as if she hadn't realized previously that pooping in her hand would be so repulsively grotesque. After my initial exclamations of shock and horror, I marched her to the bathroom and made her dispose of the abomination in the toilet, then proceeded to wash her hands profusely and made her sit on the toilet until I was absolutely certain that she had vanquished the stuff completely. 
Afterward, when the reality of it all sunk in, I just sat shaking my head, thinking, “WHY?!? Why does this have to be so hard?” I hear all these stories about how easy it was for some parents to potty-train their kids. Why can’t I have ONE child that just gets with the program without a long, drawn out procession of potty-training drama?

Maybe someone with a background in child psychology can apprise me of what it is that I'm doing wrong, or can at least give me some tips on how to make the process less painful? In the meantime, heaven have mercy . . .  

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Thoughts on Repentance . . .

I recently started reading The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis for a book club in which I participate, and I have to say, my mind is blown. I have always loved C.S. Lewis for his deep, thought-provoking insight on Christianity - ever since I first read about the Lion/deity figure who sacrifices himself on an "altar" to redeem the sin of another. It left me in awe over the brilliant, beautiful parallels between Aslan's sacrifice, and that of the Savior, and Lewis continues to inspire and amaze me in this book:
"I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but their rescue consists of being put back on the right road. A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on. Evil can be undone, but it can not 'develop' into good. Time does not heal it. The spell must be unwound, bit by bit, 'with backward mutters of dissevering power'--or else not. It is still 'either-or'. If we insist on keeping Hell (or even Earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell. I believe, to be sure, that any man who reaches Heaven will find what he abandoned (even in plucking out his right eye) has not been lost . . . "
What a beautiful illustration of the importance and simplicity of repentance. It's all about "The Mighty Change of Heart (an excellent talk by President Ezra Taft Benson, by the way)". There is so much to ponder on in those few, short sentences, and that's just a snippet I took from the beginning of the preface. Haha. 

Seriously, though - for someone who was not a member of The Church, I feel like C.S. Lewis really had a solid testimony of our Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness, and truly understood the purpose of our time here on the Earth. After reading something so simple, yet so acute, I can't help but feel affected by his depth and creativity. 

His writing has inspired me to reflect lately about the kind of writer I aspire to be. I want to write things that move people; things that provoke deep, stimulating contemplation. But how do you get past the fluff in your writing and write about stuff that matters? That is the question, my friends. That is the question . . . 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Death By Chocolate Bundt Cake

Today is my husband's birthday, so I asked him if he had any requests for a birthday cake. Now, my husband is a huge chocolate lover. His mentality: Is there any other flavor? So naturally, he requested a cake that has become one of our family's favorites - chocolate zucchini cake.

This cake is truly the most decadent, moist cake I've ever made (the ganache is seriously to-die-for), and I know how much he enjoys it, so initially, I agreed to make the cake - but then the wheels in my head started turning . . .

A while back, we attended a church dinner where bundt cakes of all flavors served as the center piece to each table, and we were lucky enough to sample one chocolate bundt cake that was insane. From the first bite, I just had to know who made this cake. I asked around and found the culinary genius, and asked her if she'd be willing to share the recipe. She said she would get it to me, but since I was in nursery at the time (I've since been released and received an exciting, new calling. More info to come on that at a later date), and am never in Relief Society, I haven't seen much of her, and still have yet to get the recipe. This, my friends, is why I love Pinterest. :)

With that deliciously decadent slice of heaven in mind, I recently searched on Pinterest for a recipe, and to my satisfaction, there were plenty. Hehe. I was initially searching for one I could make from scratch, but most of them required espresso, or coffee liqueur, so I pinned one that starts with a devil's food cake mix and adds a few simple ingredients to bring about this chocolatey goodness, in all it's glory.

I tweaked the recipe that I found a bit to fit my preferences, so where the recipe asks for water, and oil, I used milk and melted butter. I also replaced the sour cream with greek yogurt, as it has the same consistency and works just as well in creating moisture in baked treats, yet it has several health benefits as well, and is lower in calories. If you want to reduce the calories of the cake even further, you can also use 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce instead of butter, and I do this often enough - but for today, we are keeping things simple . . . and personally, I just think that butter makes for a better cake. I know, I am an enabler. No shame here. ;)

Anyway, the cake turned out beautifully. My mom was over last night to watch the kids so my husband and I could enjoy a night out to celebrate our birthdays (mine was on Halloween), so we enjoyed the cake as a family before going out . . . and can I just say that I have a NEW favorite cake! It was so chocolaty and moist. I felt like I died and went to chocolate heaven with every sinfully delicious bite.

Also, because I love the ganache from the chocolate zucchini cake recipe, I decided to use that as a topping on our bundt cake (the recipe that I found on Pinterest suggests chocolate syrup . . .bleh!). It was literally "the icing on the cake" . . . so stinkin' yummy!

"Get in my belly." lol.

Yum sauce. :)

No licking the computer screen, please. Hehe. If you have a special occasion to celebrate for that special chocolate lover in your life, though - or heck, if you are just in the mood for a nice slice of chocolaty goodness, give this recipe a try. I promise, you will not be disappointed.

So, without further ado . . .

Death by Chocolate Bundt Cake:

-1 package devil's food cake mix
-1 small package instant chocolate pudding
-1/2 cup milk
-1/2 cup melted butter
-4 eggs
-1 cup plain Greek yogurt
-1 11.5 oz. package chocolate chips (approximately 2 cups)
-chocolate ganache and powdered sugar to garnish.


Combine your first 6 ingredients and whisk until there are no dry clumps! (I just threw them into the bowl of my stand mixer for about 2 1/2 minutes). Stir in your chocolate chips and pour batter into a greased/floured bundt cake pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes.* When cake is done, a toothpick or fork will come out mostly clean. Leave in pan until completely cooled. After plating cake, drizzle with chocolate ganache and a dash of powdered sugar to garnish!

*Note: I learned a few years ago from my sister-in-law at Silver Spoon Catering that the trick to a super moist cake is to not over bake it. I usually set my timer for a few minutes before the time given in any recipe, then check my cake with a toothpick. This particular bundt cake was baked to perfection in about 38 minutes. ;)

Chocolate Ganache:
6 oz heavy cream
9 oz chopped chocolate (semi-sweet or milk)

Directions: To prepare the ganache topping, heat the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Wait 3-5 minutes then stir to combine. It may take a few minutes of stirring for the ganache to come together… but it will. It will thicken as it cools. When warm (but not hot) pour over cake and allow to drizzle down sides. Allow frosting to set for about 30 minutes before serving.

Happy Birthday to the love of my life. Now, let's eat cake! :-P

Chocolate bundt cake recipe adapted from Pretty Providence.
Chocolate ganache recipe found at Parsley, Sage and Sweet.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

50 Shades of Tantrum

I seriously think I deserve an award (maybe Mother-of-the-Year?) for my NEAR psychotic breakdown in the grocery store yesterday afternoon. Any mother, no matter how many kids she has - whether it be one or . . . seven - knows that yes, there are days when your little "darlings" are complete angels. Perhaps they received a supremely recovering night's sleep and somehow miraculously decided to join forces to bring about a magical day of puppy dogs, rainbows and butterflies . . . and then there are days like the one I had yesterday. In reality (or at least it seems for me, lately), those magical days of peace and tranquility have come to be few and far between; yesterday being no exception. 

For some reason that I can't seem to recall at present, I had this super bright idea to make a trip to the grocery store yesterday afternoon with my three youngest kids (ages 4, 2, and 6 months) in tow, sans the luxury of a backup set of hands. Maybe deep down inside, I secretly enjoy torturing myself. Maybe subconsciously, I thought, "What better way to challenge my patience, to flirt with the edge of insanity, than to venture into the depths of the Inferno with some kind of sinister death wish. Yes, that must be it. I must have a death wish.

In all reality, this specific trip could not have been avoided. There were some groceries that I needed to pick up, and only had a small window of time in which to do it. Trust me when I say that if I'd had any other option, I would not have made the aforementioned faux pas of attempting this feat at all. But it is what it is. 

This actually reminds me of one Saturday a few months ago when Zach was busy with work and I had to take all four kids with me to Costco. That, too, had been a similarly frustrating experience, and as I stood in the check-out line - with a full basket of groceries, one know-it-all, cantankerous teenager, two rambunctious toddlers, and one starving, screaming baby - on the verge of ripping my hair out, or simply curling into the fetal position on the floor with my thumb in my mouth, a passerby (a lady who must have thought it would be amusing to break me) chose that particular moment to "commend" me on my bravery for venturing out into the world with four kids in tow. Come on. Really? I tell you, it took everything in my power not to come unglued on the lady. I had to actively remind myself that she too is a child of God (lol), that she was probably well-meaning, and that it would be in no one's best interest for me to tell her where to shove her "encouragement". Generally, I do try to have patience with people, even if they are ignorant or have a complete lack of empathy for others, but man - some people seriously have no tact . . . which brings me back to our most recent fun, little outing.

From the minute we entered the grocery store yesterday, L-Bear was acting all kinds of crazy. He kept leaving my side to run down the aisle, around the corner, then back up the other side of the aisle, and he did this with a maniacal cackle, as if he thought it was the most hilarious thing in the world. The first time he did it, I gave him a warning. The second time he did it, B-Boo followed suit, and I suddenly had two screaming banshees running through the produce section of the grocery store. I finally grabbed him by the shoulders, looked him straight in the eyes and told him to calm down or he was going to get a spanking when we got home. 

He discontinued running around after that, but almost immediately started begging me for a treat. I told him that I would give him a treat IF he could manage to make good choices and survive the rest of the shopping excursion without being disobedient. Yeah, he didn't last five minutes, and when I took his treat out of the cart and threw it into a random aisle as we passed by, the meltdown ensued. By then, I was completely over the whole experience, so I decided to cut my losses and head for the check-out lines, L-Bear following behind in a pathetic state of misery. There was weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth - and every judgmental head turned and stared as we walked by. ((sigh))  

As I stood at check-out unloading my cart of groceries, he continued begging and pleading with me to let him have a treat. I reminded him (calmly, I might add) that I don't reward disobedient behavior, and so the cries continued until finally I felt like bending him over my knee and giving him a good sound lashing right there in the middle of the store. Just kidding . . . kind of. lol. I don't really beat my kids, but that day . . . 

Anyway, B-Boo must have felt like it would be a good idea to follow suit and start running amok, because as I was checking out, she started diving under the checkout counters on each side of me, and now both kids were completely filthy.

As soon as the cashier was finished with my transaction, she took off to who-knows-where, just in time for B-Boo to start crying that she was bleeding. I looked down, and sure enough, she had blood all over her left hand. "What in the heck did you do?!?" I exclaimed. "I don't know," was all she could muster as a response, yet there was blood coming from two separate cuts she had managed to give herself. One on the back of her pinky finger, the other on the tip of her index finger, the former of which was quite a little bleeder. 

I looked around for a cashier to ask for some paper towel, but everyone seemed to suddenly be avoiding me, so I quickly fished the baby wipes out of my backpack and wiped as much of the blood off before applying pressure to the bleeder. I couldn't get the darn thing to stop; though, so I stood up to look for an employee to ask for a band-aid, and had to say, "Excuse me," several times before two cashiers nearby would break from their conversation long enough to help me. 

One of them finally went to retrieve a band-aid for me, and as she did, I looked down and saw B-Boo throwing up all over herself. ((sigh)) I don't know if it was the sight of blood that made her sick, or what. But sheesh. I am telling you, it was not a good day. 

So yeah, there I stood - well, I guess it was actually more of a stupor - wiping up my kid's vomit with baby wipes, as the aforementioned cashier returned with the band-aid. As she handed me the band-aid, she clearly saw me cleaning up the vomit, but still turned and WALKED AWAY. I was seriously almost in tears at this point, and I could not believe that there wasn't a single store employee nearby offering any amount of help. 

So yes, I deserve an award - for not snapping and burning the whole place down, if anything. I tell you one thing, I don't think I will be frequenting that particular establishment any time soon, and my kids will definitely not be getting ANY treats from the grocery store any time soon either. I think it is about time they learn the difference between "right" and "privilege." I tell you one thing that I've learned from all this malarkey: nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is so important that I'll ever need to venture into the grocery store with all three babies on my own EVER again. That's for dang sure. smh.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Poem about "Like"

Madison came home from school today with a homework assignment to write a poem in iambic pentameter, and since we had a crazy schedule this afternoon of doctor's appointments, running errands, picking up kids from hellandgone, and trying to squeeze dinner in before softball practice, we didn't even get around to the assignment until a time when Madison is usually being sent to bed. That being said, we were both pretty exhausted (maybe even bordering on hysteria? lol) when we joined forces and came up with this gem, and the fruits of our labor are pretty hilarious:

A Poem About "Like"

I've read a lot of poems about love,
But those sad suckers can go take a hike.
There's something else that I am thinking of,
So I will write this poem about "like".
I like to read imaginative books.
They allow me to leave this world behind.
To get by on more than just my good looks,
I must keep creativity in mind.
I like to eat bologna on white bread
with mustard, but please hold the yucky cheese.
I like to act, but that just goes unsaid,
And poetry - but keep it simple, please.
I like to play with my new softball glove,
But chocolate, THAT'S something that I love!

The poem even comes complete with artwork of epic proportions . . .
Artwork courtesy of MaddieMae. :-P
You're welcome. :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Home Stretch

I seem to have been on an emotional roller coaster lately with all these pregnancy hormones (hence the minimal attention to the blog), and as we enter into this last little stretch of the pregnancy, I now find myself battling feelings of insecurity one minute, experiencing excitement the next - only to end in a mini freak out session about the fact that in just six short weeks, I will be the mother of FOUR kids. Yikes. How has the time gone by so quickly?!

The chaos all started with an abnormal test result that came back after I had my prenatal blood work done in January. That had me pretty messed up for a few weeks until we had some confirmatory testing done and everything came back normal just a few weeks ago. I'll get into more detail where that is concerned in a later post, but talk about dealing with some unnecessary stress. Good grief. I was pretty much an unproductive basket case for the duration of that trial. Thank heavens it is over, and I can focus on this pregnancy and getting prepared for the delivery.

Now that the end is in sight, though, I must admit that I am feeling a little ill-equipped for baby #4. I remember when I was pregnant with L-Bear, we had the nursery finished and even re-painted MNM's room MONTHS before he was due. I even made both of them cute little quilts to welcome him into the world and to help her feel not-so-left-out. When I was pregnant with B-Boo, I bought all the material to make her a quilt, but never got around to it, and it is still sitting in a bag next to my sewing machine almost two years later. lol. Now, we have another baby coming and we still don't even have a vehicle big enough to fit all of us in it. Sheesh.

Maybe one day I will get it together. Maybe one day I will have the babies out of my bed and into a room of their own. Maybe one day I will even go through all of B-Boo's baby clothes and re-organize them for the new baby in her new dresser (which we have yet to purchase. lol).

We did decide to have another baby shower, which will transpire in a few weeks, and I am really looking forward to actually celebrating this great blessing. Hopefully, after all is said and done, we can start to settle down a bit and get a little more organized. Go ahead and say it. I am a disorderly mess. I won't hold it against you. ;)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Focusing on Gratitude to Get Through the Day

So, these last few weeks, I have been feeling pretty lame due to illness and some other stress factors that I have been facing - And as I usually tend to do when life gets chaotic, I have been neglecting the blog as a result. 

I have been a bit too scatter-brained lately to produce anything halfway worth reading. I think about my blog every few days - heck, I even think I might have something worth talking about, but then the dust starts to settle, life and stress start to surface, and my brain is toast again. I start to think that maybe I will feel much better after this week is over when we'll (hopefully) have some more answers where my health is concerned. I even think I will try to sit down and focus on positivity more, and who knows - maybe a miracle will happen, and something somewhat legit or even halfway interesting will emerge. 

In the meantime, however, I am trying to recall the wise advice I received recently, which inspired my last blog post: Every single day you make a choice. I know that I am so blessed to have such an amazing support system, and I thank Heavenly Father daily for the strength I am able to receive through the Atonement and through the joy my family brings to me. I was reminded of these blessings again today during my personal scripture study, wherein I read about the pre-existence and how we were foreordained to do certain things. I have a firm testimony of this principle, and I know that I was foreordained to be a mother. I receive a tremendous amount of comfort knowing that I am taking on such an important role in our Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness by striving to be a faithful wife and mother, and raising my children unto the Lord.

So to get through today, I choose to focus on these blessings, and will lean on the comfort of the Savior to bring me out of this funk. In an attempt to do so, I decided to write a list of the things I love about each of my children. Obviously, this list could go on for miles, so for all intents and purposes, I will focus on a few, simple things I love about each of them - some of the things that make them uniquely special in my heart.

So without further ado:

1. MNM (my 13-year-old daughter) - I love how:

a. she still likes to lie with her head in my lap and cuddle every once in a while, as if she were still a small child;
b. she loves to read and always has a book in her hand; and 
c. she likes to show her gratitude in simple, thoughtful ways, like a homemade card or a song that she sings and dedicates to me. She has such a big heart, and I am so lucky to be her mom.

2. L-Bear (my 3-year-old son) - I love how:

a. he is constantly telling me that he loves me and cares about me "so much";
b. he climbs into bed with me each night and tells me all the things he is sorry for doing that day - bless his little heart; and
c. he wants to go with me everywhere I go, and always wants to be a helper in the kitchen. He is my right-hand little guy, has such a thoughtful, loving spirit, and I am so lucky to be his mom; and 

3. Baby Boo (my 21-month-old daughter) - I love how:

a. she wraps my arm around herself every night to fall asleep;
b. her eyes light up and she gets so excited every time she hears the song, "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" from "Frozen." She even clicks her tongue at the appropriate time, and has started repeating a word or two of the song, which is absolutely adorable; and
c. every time L-Bear hits her or does something to her out of impatience, I tell him to say he's sorry - yet without missing a beat, SHE will go over to him and wrap her arms around him - almost as if to say, "It's okay, brother. I love you." She truly has such a sweet spirit. Her smile lights up my heart, and I am so lucky to be her mom. 

It's amazing how having an attitude of gratitude can instantly change your mood. I am thankful for each of my children. They are the shining beacon in my life that reminds me of how truly blessed I am. They are my saving grace, and it is they who are constantly teaching me how to be the best version of myself, how to be a better daughter of our Heavenly Father, and how to truly love. I am so thankful for the blessing of their presence in my life, and I am thankful that Heavenly Father entrusted me to be their mom. :)