Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Am Easily Irritated

Sometimes sounds just really irritate me. Not all sounds, mind you, but certain ones.
  • Whispers. I hate the sounds of whispering. Something about all that breathiness and hissing. So I really hate the toilet paper commercial that comes on all the time where everyone whispers the whole time. If I have control of remote when it comes on, I have to mute the sound so I won't have to hear it.
  • Pouring liquid... I don't know why, but I just don't like the sound when you pour liquid into a glass. There's a commercial on the radio where they open a can of Pepsi and pour it into the glass and it just makes me cringe a little when I hear it.
  • Mouth noises. A HUGE pet peeve. I just hate hearing people chew, or scrape a fork against their teeth, or lick their lips (oh yes, some people do this noisily!). All of these are much, MUCH worse if they are occuring on TV or radio, because the noises are so much more pronounced and loud.
  • The absolute worst of the mouth noises are kisses on radio or TV. I'm not talking about a cute little smack - MWAH. That's fine. It's the actual full-on kissing where there are all the moist mouth noises. And again, it's so much louder and more magnified because it's on TV and there are microphones to catch all the sounds. Ick! It's grossing me out just writing about it. It's enough to keep me from watching any kind of a romantic movie or TV show just to avoid it!
  • Some people's voices. Again, this seems to just be on TV or radio that this bugs me (maybe I should spend less time watching/listening?) but some voices just bug me so much. I just hear the voice and it's like fingernails on a chalkboard (oddly enough, a sound that DOESN'T bother me much, but you know, it's a saying). I have to hurry and mute or turn off or otherwise get rid of the awful sound. The Girls Only commercial that plays a lot on Denver radio is an example. I HATE to hear her voice. It's such a bad aversion that it can actually make me feel sick. When I was pregnant, there was one particular commercial on the radio where I just hated the woman's voice. I would hear it, and it would immediately trigger my morning/all-day sickness. I even had to pull over to the side of the road and throw up once, it was so bad.

I know, I know. These are weird. But I'm sure I'm not the only one who is easily irritated by everyday things. What bugs you?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

M&M Bribery

I have discovered the awesome power of M&Ms!

I tried and tried to potty train Preston. I tried a lot of different motivational strategies... the stickers, the stamps, the over-the-top praise, the new underwear, the "don't you want to be a big boy?" and probably others that I've forgotten about. He didn't care about any of that stuff. Finally, I hit on the idea of M&Ms. We set up a system where he got a certain number of M&Ms every time he used the potty, depending on how successful he was. That was a hit! Within a week he was potty trained to the point that when we unexpectedly had to take a road trip across two states, he made it there and back without a single accident!

Now I know that a lot of this could just be due to the fact that he was finally ready to use the potty, but I think the M&Ms helped a lot. This kid really loves his M&Ms.

Since we'd had such good success with M&Ms and potty training, I decided to use them to tackle another parenting problem I've been having with Preston. Every night, we go through our routine to get ready for bed, including bedtime snack, potty time, a little sippy of water in case he's thirsty, hugs, kisses, prayers, tuck-in. I try to cover all the things that he uses to stall going to bed. It's a routine that works beautifully for his older sister. She's almost always sound asleep within minutes. But sure enough, shortly after I leave the room I hear Preston calling out to me that he needs a snack or a drink or a hug or another trip to the potty. It can go on for hours, until I am just SO irritated that he won't just GO. TO. SLEEP!!!

I've ignored it (he's very persistent). I've given in and brought him what he wanted (I know, I know, but sometimes he just wears me down). I've shouted at him (more often than I want to admit). I've sent Daddy in to deal with him (that's bringing up the big guns and it's somewhat successful). None of it really works very well. But M&Ms... now that is something that has worked!

When the kids go to bed, I put 10 M&Ms in a ziploc baggie. For every time that he gets out of bed or calls us in or gets rowdy and noisy instead of settling down to sleep, I take away one M&M. Whatever M&Ms are left by the time he goes to sleep are his to eat in the morning after breakfast.

Wow! Suddenly just the threat of losing that M&M sends him scurrying quietly into bed again. The last several nights have been MUCH less stressful than usual! He's gone to sleep more quickly and with less bargaining and whining than we usually deal with. I'm loving the M&M bribery!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

It Kinda Works... Why Mess With It?

Some of Facebook buddies might remember a month or so ago when I complained that our thermostat at home wasn't working and I didn't feel brave enough to fix it. I got lots of comments that told me it wasn't that hard to change the thermostat and giving me advice and support. I felt confident and sure of myself and went right out that night to buy a new thermostat at Home Depot.

I found a new thermostat with the features I wanted quite easily. I went home with the plan to install it right then and there. Where I discovered that I needed a funky screwdriver with a square tip in order to remove the old thermostat. No problem, I was sure I could find one at Home Depot. But it was a few days before I could make another trip over there.

In the meantime, it was REALLY cold. So I managed to figure out that if I set our current thermostat to always on (instead of the setting where it should cycle on and off) and set the temperature to stay at 95 degrees, the furnace will come on sporadically and keep the house around 65-70 degrees. Sometimes this stops working and it gets pretty cold in the house - so then I have to go turn the thermostat to Off. Which for some reason turns on the fan to blow cold air into the house from outside. But if I let it blow the cold air for 30 seconds or so and then turn it back to Heat, the fan will turn off and after about a minute the heat will actually kick on and warm things up again. It's a little convoluted, and it's a pain when I have to get up in the middle of the night to kick the heat back on, but it's kind of working.

So now I have the new thermostat and I have the necessary screwdriver, and I am afraid to actually do anything with them. At the moment, I've got a system that kind of works. What if I try to install this new thermostat and just mess it up completely. Then we won't have any working heat at all. And then we'll have to call in an HVAC guy to fix it - and pay him with what money?

At this point, I'm kind of thinking that I just don't want to touch it. Winter is half over, right? I can make it through a couple of months with my jury-rigged system, can't I? And at some point, either my dad or Aaron's dad will surely come visit us, and then HE can replace the thermostat for me! See... I have a plan...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Haley Cooks

Last night I taught my little girl to make her own breakfast... just the kind of homecooked goodness that mommy would make if I were there! The directions:
  1. Take pancake from freezer.
  2. Put pancake on plate.
  3. Climb on chair to put pancake in microwave.
  4. Push 3-0-start.
  5. Remove pancake from microwave.
  6. Add powdered sugar and eat!

At this rate, she'll be a gourmet cook in no time!

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Haley talking to Preston...

"Well George [our cat that died] will be resurrected of course. He'll get a new body and he won't be sick anymore. And he'll come back to Earth. And we can pet him and hug him. I wonder when he will be resurrected? If he gets resurrected before we do, I just don't know what to think..."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Five Things

I got tagged on a friend's blog this morning. This is a simple one... just list five things that are on your mind today.

  1. No work for me tomorrow! Aaron has another sleep study tonight, so I would have been late to work anyway. And Haley has an appointment with the eye doctor in the afternoon. Plus my house is a mess, I haven't taken down the Christmas tree yet, and the missionaries are coming for dinner tomorrow night. I decided just to take the day off and deal with all of that.
  2. I wish all my tax documents would get here already. I want to get the taxes filed because I'm crossing my fingers there will be enough in our tax refund that we can squeeze out the $$ for the king-size bed that I so badly want.
  3. Milk. Eggs. Granola bars. Cat litter. I need to go to the store tonight. =)
  4. I wish I'd brought my laptop to work today. I bought the new Harry Potter movie as soon as it was released, but I still haven't watched it! If I hadn't been in such a hurry this morning, I could have grabbed the laptop and then watched the movie while I work. (I am the Queen of Multitasking!)
  5. Isn't it lunchtime yet?
Okay, so TAG, you're it! What Five Things are on your mind today?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I Need a Purse

I have a coat with these great deep pockets. In the winter months, I tend to just shove everything into those pockets instead of using a purse. But, just like a purse, the pockets can accumulate a lot of unnecessary junk (they are big pockets). This morning I realized that they were really ridiculously full and emptied them out. I found:
  • Assorted receipts from our trip last weekend (I've already accounted for them in the bank account, so I'm not sure why I'm still carrying them around.)
  • Highlighter marker
  • Post-it notes
  • Ragged tissues (Are they clean? Used? Who can tell? They have disintegrated into shreds and pocket lint at this point.)
  • Napkins that Preston shoved into my pocket at the funeral
  • Do not disturb sign from one of the hotels we stayed at (I have no idea why I have this.)
  • Flex spending account reimbursement form (I really need to remember to fax that in!)
  • Keys (Finally! Something useful!)
  • MP3 player (With a dead battery that I keep forgetting to charge.)
  • Phone (With a dead battery that I keep forgetting to charge.)
  • Hair elastics
  • More tissues
  • Wrapper from Brekken's Smarties
  • Business cards (Yeah, like I need to carry these around all the time. I never hand them out!)
  • Wallet (Woo-hoo! Something else that's actually useful!)
  • Chapstick (Which tends to melt from body heat when I carry it in my pocket.)
  • Gloves (That I never wear, because putting gloves on actually makes my fingers feel colder.)
  • Note from Haley's friend Aalyah that she asked me to hold (It's actually a very sweet note. I left the spelling and everything as is... it's really quite good for a kindergartener! "To Haley Form Aalyah. Dear Haley. I love you Haley. How was your weekin Haley. Do you love me Haley? I love you Haley. Love Aalyah.)

Yikes! Now that I write it all down it's even more ridiculous.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

To Iowa and Back Again...

We left town on Thursday afternoon and headed out for Nebraska. We were lucky enough to have good weather - never a guarantee in January! We drove long into the night and finally stopped at a hotel at 2:00 a.m. (after jumping ahead 1 hour). The kids had been sleeping in the car, of course, so they were wired and ready to go when we got to the room. They had seen the indoor pool and really thought we should go down right then and get in some pool time. Luckily we were able to find all night cartoons on the Disney channel and persuaded them to lay down and watch those while Aaron and I got some sleep.

Friday we got up bright and early - really just a few hours after going to bed - so we could get a good start on our drive for the day. We went down for the hotel breakfast. This is the kids' favorite thing about staying in hotels... the hotel always has more and better breakfast options than home! When we got back to the room to gather our things, Preston laid down on the bed. Then he announced that he didn't feel good and might throw up. As I'm sprinting across the room to him and telling him to run to the bathroom, he proceeded to lay there and throw up all over himself and the bed. So we spent a good amount of time cleaning Preston, the sheets, etc. I tried to find a maid to warn them in advance and offer to bag the sheets myself. But in spite of several cleaning carts in the halls, there was no made to be found. So we ended up carefully bundling the soiled sheets together and leaving a note explaining and apologizing... along with a really big tip to make up for it. I felt bad leaving that for the poor maid, but what else could I do?

By the way, as soon as Preston was cleaned up and changed, he felt fine. He never complained about a sick stomach or threw up again for the rest of the trip.

We spent the rest of the day driving across Nebraska, where we learned that Nebraska has towns with the fun names of Worms and Bogus. We made it into Iowa City for the night and briefly saw Rachael and Ts`ooane before going to bed.

Saturday was the funeral. It was both beautiful and awful. It was a lovely service and possibly the saddest thing I've ever seen. I helped Rachael put together a slide show of pictures of Isaac to play during the viewing, and couldn't stop the tears from streaming down my face as Rachael picked the photos of her beautiful little boy. I sobbed when I looked at that sweet baby lying in a casket clutching his teddy bear. I'm crying again now just remembering it all. I hope that I never have to see something like that again. Rachael and Ts`ooane seem to be bearing up very well considering the circumstances. As Aaron said - They are two of the strongest, most faithful people he knows. If anyone is going to be able to make it through something like this, it will be them.

After the funeral and spending a bit more time with Rachael and Ts`ooane, we were on the road again. We headed to Cedar Falls, Iowa, to meet up with some friends of Aaron's from his days in grad school. The timing just happened to have worked out that there was a conference going on this weekend so several of Aaron's friends were all there in Cedar Falls to attend. We stayed in the same hotel they were at and Aaron got to spend some time catching up with them all. That was a nice high point for the trip!

We headed home on Sunday with the ambitious plan of making the entire drive in one day. It's a 12-13 hour drive, so technically it can be done in one day. Of course, by the time you add in breaks to stop and eat, to let the kids run around, to use the bathroom, etc., it adds on quite a bit of time. We did make it home by about 2:30 on Monday morning (after a break of about 2 hours to take a nap at a rest area). So we kind of made the drive in one day, but it was a LONG day.

Luckily Monday was a holiday at my office and Aaron had taken the day off. We were already being charged for daycare for all the kids (and Haley had a field trip she'd been looking forward to), so we got up long enough to get them ready and off to daycare. Then we got to take the day to get caught up on our rest and ready to go back to work.

The high point of this trip for me? You may recall that we just seriously started potty training Preston back on Monday. So I was quite worried about taking him on this 3-state road trip... I thought it might spell disaster for our potty training efforts. Instead, he made it through the whole trip without a single accident! Woo-hoo!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cereal Coupon Winners

Congratulations to Tera, Shelly, and BusyMomofTwo! You've all won coupons for a free box of cereal from General Mills. =)

Shelly and BusyMom... I will mail your coupons as soon as I can.

Tera... I'll catch you at church to give you yours.

Unfortunately, we had to leave town unexpectedly to attend a funeral, so it will be next week sometime before I can send out the coupons. But I'll get them to you as soon as possible!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Potty Training

We've been kind of half-heartedly doing the potty training thing for a while now. We'd give it a shot for a few days, Preston would be absolutely uninterested, we would have no success whatsoever, and then we'd give up again for a while.

Last week I was on my way to pick up the boys from daycare and had the thought - I think it's time to really get serious about potty training. I'm going to talk to Michelle and see about doing some more intensive potty training next week. (Up to this point, I'd just been trying on evenings and weekends, not having Michelle do anything during the days.)

Oddly enough, when I picked up the boys, one of the first things Michelle said was "I was thinking that next week we should really seriously work on potty training for Preston." Since we'd both had the same thought about it on the same evening, it seemed like the time must be right!

So we worked on it some again over the weekend, then starting on Monday morning, we told Preston it was underwear only. (Except at night.) Instead of protesting as he had in the past, he was fine with it. And now we're half-way through a week and he's had only two accidents!

Something clicked with him and he really seems to get it suddenly. He's very excited about being able to use the potty, too. (This may have something to do with the M&Ms he is bribed with for using the potty.) A bit TOO excited even. We could NOT get him to go to bed last night, because he realized that telling us he needed to use the potty was a great way to postpone bedtime a little longer. After about the 4th time we (hopefully not sabotaging ourselves) informed him that he did NOT need to use the potty again, and besides, he was wearing a diaper in case he had an accident.

We thought he had gone back to bed, but didn't realize that he'd decided to take care of matters himself. He managed to get himself out of his footy-pajamas, take off the diaper, and go in to use the bathroom. The first we knew of it was when he came out to tell us that he couldn't get his jammas back on. He HAD managed to put his diaper back on all by himself... fastened and everything... but backwards. LOL

He was then told AGAIN, that he had to stay in bed with no more trips to the potty! It finally stuck. But YAY for potty training going so well so far!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

So sad...

We have a couple of friends named Ts`ooane and Rachael. Aaron has known them since grad school. Ts`ooane was one of Aaron's groomsmen. A year after we were married we made the trip to the St. Louis temple so we could attend Ts`ooane and Rachael's wedding. We've gone to visit them in Iowa. They're wonderful people and have been really good friends of Aaron's for years. I love them too.

Yesterday, Ts`ooane called Aaron. And we learned that their 8-month-old baby died on Saturday. Apparently he slipped under the water in the tub. It was just for a moment, but it was enough. He spent 9 days in ICU but the doctors couldn't save him. It's just so horrible.

We feel so awful for them, but can't think what on earth we could possibly do to help. They live in Iowa, so it's not like we can take them dinner or watch their other son for them. I can't even imagine how awful this is for them. I know I feel terrible and weepy every time I think of it... and I'm on the fringes. I can't even concieve of how it would feel in their shoes.

I gave all my kids an extra hug or two last night. And I can see me being very paranoid at bathtime for a while! So today, give your kids an extra hug and kiss and really take a moment to appreciate having them here with you.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Headlights on Airplanes?

I was driving home from work on Friday night and a plane was flying over me. The lights were so bright! And it started me thinking... what is the purpose of turning on the "headlights" (or whatever they are officially called) on an airplane while it's in flight?

I can easily see the use for them during takeoff and landing. And I get that they need the marker lights so that all the airplanes can see each other in the dark. But why the headlights? Exactly what are they looking at up there?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Who wants free cereal? Check out this giveaway!

Do you love cereal? Do you go through a lot of it at your house? Do you want to win a free box?

At my house, we love cereal. And when I say "we," I mean everyone but me. I maybe eat one bowl a year... maybe even less. But the rest of my family eats a lot of cereal.

I actually really like to give my kids cereal, because it's pretty good for them. We try not to buy a lot of the REALLY sugary stuff. And if you avoid sugar overload, there's all kinds of good stuff in cereal. It's low in fat. There's no cholesterol. It's fortified with vitamins and minerals. And these days, most cereals are made with whole-grains. (For a big long list of all reasons cereal is good for your kids, you can check out

Another reason I love cereal (not to eat, but to give to my kids) is that it's easy. Pour some cereal and milk in a bowl and voila! Meal is ready in 30 seconds or less! In my book, that's a good thing. =)

So anyway, all of that is leading up to the fact that General Mills was generous enough to send me coupons to give away to my blog readers!

To enter the giveaway, leave me a comment telling me your favorite General Mills cereal. You could win a coupon for one FREE (up to $6.00) box of any General Mills cereal!

And now the details and legal stuff:

  • This giveaway ends on Wednesday, January 13 @ 11:59 p.m. MST
  • I will contact the winner of the giveaway after using to choose a winner.
  • If you don't leave a contact email or it's not on your profile, I cannot contact you and I will have to draw a new winner. So let me know how to reach you!

FCC Disclaimer: This is not a paid review; however, I did receive a General Mills free cereal coupon for myself as well as coupons to give away. All reviews are my own and honest opinions.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

WFMW: Photoshop Trick

I am giving away coupons for a free box of cereal (up to $6 value) from General Mills. Go to and leave me a comment naming your favorite General Mills cereal to enter.

And my WFMW tip...

I am far from a professional photographer. But I love to take snaps of my kids with my little point and shoot Kodak. Most of the times I get a really average shot, but at least it's a nice memory of our family life.

Occasionally, I get a really good picture of one of the kids. It's a moment where the light is just right or the smile is contagious or the dimples are flashing adorably. All of these great shots seem to have something in common... somewhere in the background is a mound of laundry waiting to be put away, a very messily unmade bed, a flickering TV screen (proving that I let my kids watch too often), or something else that I don't want to show off to the world!

But I don't want to ignore that wonderful picture for fear of showing off my messy house. Photoshop to the rescue!
  • Use the lasso tool (or even better, the magnetic lasso tool) to trace carefully around the part of the picture you want to keep.

  • Invert your selection (ctrl + shift + I) so that you now have selected everything you don't want to keep.

  • Under your Filters menu, find the blur options. Experiment with blurring out the messy background until you find a look you like. I tend to like the Gaussian blur... but that's just habit. Any blur filter can help you get the look you want.

  • Finish up with the blur tool in the toolbar. Use it to smooth any edges that are too abrupt. You want the subject (in my case, the kids) to stand out crisply, but not too abrupt or jagged.

  • Voila! Cute pictures of the kids without a (visibly) messy house in the background!

So this week Photoshop is working for me. To see what works for others, head over to for more WFMW ideas!

Monday, January 4, 2010

In case you were wondering about my half-naked baby at church...

Some of you saw me with Brekken at church on Sunday...

On a cold and snowy day he was dressed a little more informally than I usually attempt for church. The shirtless look is a little more "backyard swimming pool" than "Relief Society ready."

He's not really adjusting well to nursery. He started going to nursery about 4 weeks ago. Aaron went in and stayed with him for the last three weeks, because he was so clingy and just cried when Aaron tried to leave. (And lets face it, since Aaron didn't have a current calling, he was more than willing to stay and play in the nursery!)

But since Aaron got called to teach a Primary class, he couldn't take Brekken to nursery this week. So I took him, and he was even more upset to be there than usual. Mostly because with the schedule change nursery-time now hits right at nap-time. I tried and tried to get him settled in at nursery. He seemed to be warming up to it and calming down just as it was approaching time for Relief Society. He really enjoyed the goldfish crackers they had for snacktime. Since I was leading the music in R.S., I needed to go. So with assurances to him that I would be back and a warm set of arms prepared to cuddle him while I was gone, I left.

Of course, since I still had a few minutes before R.S., I came back to the door a couple of times to listen and see if he had calmed down yet. That's when I hear the sound we most dread from him at our house. He was crying so hard that he started to cough. And unfortunately, with all of my little reflux babies, coughing is bad. He cried... and coughed... and then he gagged... and then he threw up goldfish crackers all over himself.

Yuck. I tried to clean him up enough to make it through the rest of the meetings, but it was just too nasty. And since I didn't have any spare clothes in the diaper bag, shirtless was the only way to go. At least I was able to salvage the pants so he wasn't running around in just a diaper! He was thrilled. Given the chance, he will always choose half-naked over clothed. =)

So I guess next week we'll try it again. As long as they'll let him back in to nursery after an episode like that. I'll bring a spare shirt.

Oh no!

For the last year and a half or so, I've been going to Supper Solutions once a month. I love it because I walk out of there with several weeks' worth of meals that I can store in my freezer. Then I just pull out a few at a time to thaw in the fridge and it makes preparing dinner after a full day of work SO much easier. And it cuts down on grocery shopping, too. Since all those dinners are already made, I don't have to get ingredients for cooking meals.

Sadly, I just got an e-mail from my local Supper Solutions informing me that they are closing their doors in January. No more Supper Solutions! Now I'm going to have to resort to actually planning a menu, shopping, and cooking again. Ugh.

All I can say is, King Soopers had better not announce that they won't deliver to my house any more. If I have to start doing more grocery shopping again, I at least want to do it from my computer instead of dragging all the kids out to the store!