Saturday, February 27, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010


Is it just me, or is American Idol a little overrated this year? If you know me, or if you don't and you read this blog and have been doing so for at least a year, you know I'm an American Idol suck-uh. 

You also know I'm obsessed with my Belle, love Diet Dr Pepper, and cannot give up chocolate to save my life. Or my gut.

It's not just the auditions, which are hee-lair-ee-us, it's the whole concept. If you'd of asked me what I want to be when I grow up when I was anywhere from age four to ten, I'd have told you "a singer and a dancer." Not one or the other, both. Never mind my two left feet and my voice that resonates most regularly in the tenor register when I attempt to flex the golden pipes. That was my plan.

Even though I eventually found a different career path, and then this perfect path of motherhood that I wouldn't trade for anything, there's something about American Idol that tells me my dreams could still come true. I laugh at the silly auditions, but I really do have an inner cheerleading squad that wants the ones who can sing to succeed, to hit the high notes, to pick the right song, to avoid Simon's descriptions like "self-indulgent" (what does that mean really?) or "loungey" or "karaoke." 

But this year, I couldn't tell you a single contestant's name. There's that girl who sings with a smile, like non-stop, with a smile. And there's that guy with longer hair who took his shirt off for Kara in auditions. Oh, and the girl with dreadlocks, a guitar, and a harmonica (a "mouth harp," is that what the kids are calling it these days?). But I can't say I'm at all hooked like I usually am.

So, although American Idol is the figurative representation of my childhood dreams, I'm pretty sure I'll be choosing the figurative representation of sleep over Idol this year.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

growing up

Last night, Annabelle was in her silly nighttime mood, this fuzzy place where she acts goofy and sleepy but won't shut her eyes, and if we put her in bed, she'll generally just talk and/or whine herself to sleep in a couple minutes. So last night, I put her in her bed, told her I loved her and proceeded about my nighttime rituals. I prepared the parts of her bottle, brushed my teeth, and sat down to read my scriptures. At this point, it sounded like silliness had turned to sadness, and I told Jess I'd go check on her after I read, thinking that she might just settle herself down, as she usually does. A couple minutes later, I finished a chapter and went to check her.

It was super dark, and with her new rolling skills, you never know where you'll find her, so I turned on the nightlight. There she was, sitting, crunched up in a ball in the corner of her Pack N Play, clutching her favorite blanket (the white crocheted one) and crying into it. She looked so alone and forlorn. My heart just broke. It took her a second to realize Mommy was there. When she did, she nuzzled into me, held on to her blanket with one arm, and fell right to sleep. I held her for several minutes while she slept. Without her silly animations, I could see in that sleeping face her tininess, as though the little girl that had bunched herself into a corner to cry couldn't possibly be in there. She's my tiny baby, right?

I can't believe that she's growing up so fast. I miss those tiny baby days, but I am continually amazed every day as I watch her grow and progress. She finally figured out the forward crawl yesterday, she sings (super high falsetto) on cue, she clap-clap-claps, she's learned to feed herself bits of food. It's so amazing that the small, helpless thing that once fit in one arm now requires both arms for rocking, that I can quite literally wrap my arms around her to hug her. But how I love that her arms can now hug back.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

can't get enough

So first, I should say that I've never been turned off by artificial sweetener. I know I should be, I know that studies show this and that. And I know that I sound ignorant at this moment. But the thing is: I LIKE IT. I actually think that the diet versions of sodas taste better than the sugar loaded ones. It's a smoother, less sticky taste, and I adore it. 

So now that that's out there...

I also love juice. The story goes (please hear my mom's voice):

"When Shauntel was little, she'd wake up in the morning, we'd hear her pad down the hall, pitter-patter, pitter-patter. She'd reach the table, where she'd retrieve her cup. If there was juice, we'd hear, 'Glub, glub, glub, glub.' If there wasn't, we'd hear: 'JUICE!!!!!'"

So to keep myself from screaming !!JUICE!! all the time, I customarily have some on hand. In my recent budgeting and couponing attempts, I try to only buy things that are on sale or for which I have a coupon, preferably both. So when Target was offering Mott's Plus, Light Apple Juice for $1.09, I scooped it up to give it a try. 

And now I'm addicted. This juice is simply amazing, and because I have no problem with the fact that it's partially sweetened by sucralose, I don't feel a guilty complex settle down about me every time I take a swig like I might with the regular sugary versions of juice. I just feel HAPPY, like the kind of happy I must've felt every morning as a little girl when I got my !!JUICE!!

In any case, for any juice and artificial sweetener enthusiasts out there, I highly recommend this magic potion. I can't get enough.

NOTE: I did not consume artificial sweeteners while I was pregnant. (Or caffeine.) And Annabelle has not had a taste of said sweeteners either. We feed her sugar. Pure sugar. By the bag.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

roll over beethoven

So Annabelle didn't roll over until she was about six months old. (And that was only because Grandma took matters into her own hands and taught her how while we were visiting for Christmas. And that was only from front to back.) I know this stresses some people out, but to be perfectly honest, I just assumed that the effort of flipping over that girth required too much energy, energy that could be better spent by playing. And then one day as I watched her attempt to turn herself over, I realized something:

It seems that our sweet Belle is destined for greatness in the circus circuit. Seriously double jointed arms. I know. When she would try to roll, she'd just end up laying on top of her arms. It freaks me out still, and even though I'd seen her do this a million times, I couldn't help myself from saving her:

But never fear, Grandma Christensen was there. Using some repetitious practice, she helped Belle see that if she put her arms up to roll, they wouldn't fold behind her. However, she never took much interest in the back to front rolling. Instead, it seemed that she would just skip it, as she's on her way to crawling (still only backwards, bless her) and pulling herself up to stand. 

Then, a few nights ago (make that early mornings ago), I heard the hunger cry. So in what has become a precise science and routine, I stumbled to the kitchen in the dark, assembled the bottle (I prepare the parts before going to bed), and scooped Belle out of the bottom of her Pack 'N' Play. However, I realized something was different this time when I tried to feed her bottle to the back of her head. (Listen - it's dark, I'm tired. And it's kind of funny, right?)

Turns out, someone has figured out how to roll the other way.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


So the best thing about running is that you can do it by yourself, on your own power, anywhere in the world. It requires personal motivation and mental strength. And that was what had stopped me from trying out cycling or spinning all these years. I naively assumed that it was everything running wasn't.

I'm an individual exerciser, if there could exist a term. It's my time. I don't like sharing it. It sounds selfish, but part of my reasoning lies in the fact that I don't like the urge to compete when I'm working out with others. (Because the competition in my own head is bad enough.) I can count on one hand (with two fingers) the number of people who I've "allowed" to run with me, and they had the "privilege" because they weren't competing with me - they were encouraging me, pushing me, and training with me (and I seriously owe them). And they were my best friends. The thought of biking with dozens of other people was so intimidating, especially as a beginner. Have you seen how chilseled bikers' legs get? Have you seen how lumpy pregnant women's legs get?

But as I said before, my feet went to pot, my stomach is struggling to recover after pregnancy, and so I sucked it up. And spinning has been everything I didn't expect it to be. Yes, I feel a sense of competition in the room, but still the competition is with myself - the constant inner desire to push myself, to fight the burn in my quads, to "run" the hypothetical hills. (I love that we call it "running" and "jogging" when we're going up hill. :) ) But I don't know any of the other cyclists in the room - some professional, some even more beginner than me. I just know that we each have our own bike, and we're each on our own when it comes to accountability for our workout.

When you're running, you really can push a running partner by running faster. The other person feels obligated to keep up. Spinning is done on a stationary bike - no one can really move ahead. It's a beautiful concept really - every person in that room is competing with their own RPMs, their own personal "base."

I still wish I could walk out the front door and take off. I still wish I could rely on this new mode of exercise wherever I go. I would give anything to have my old feet back and take to the road for a couple of miles. But I have to admit that I really love the room of whirring legs. It's still something that I can do by myself, on my own power, under my own mental competition.

Plus, my quads are getting ridiculously tough.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

the guessing game

Something I've realized recently, is that it's always a guessing game when it comes to taking care of a baby. It's kind of a joke really. If anything is wrong - she won't eat, sleep, roll over, crawl, you name it - you start the guessing game:

Maybe she's sick.
Maybe her diaper's dirty.
Maybe she's teething.
Maybe she can't poop.
Maybe she pooped.
Maybe she's teething.
Maybe she's tired.
Maybe it's a growth spurt.
Maybe she's teething.
Maybe she hates oatmeal.
Maybe she loves it.
Maybe she needs her blanket.
Maybe she needs her other blanket.
Maybe she's bored.
Maybe she's teething.
Maybe she's cold.
Wait, she's never cold.
Maybe she's hot.

We obviously usually blame it on teething, although she has nary a tooth or even any signs of teeth. It's just a convenient syndrome to blame for all the bad things in life: runny nose, lack of sleep, refusal to consume applesauce. But when it comes down to it, a baby's life is just one big, constant guessing game. But then if it wasn't a guessing game, she'd be talking. And that means she'd be talking back. And that means it's time to ship her to her grandma.

Today when she pulled my hair, I said, "No no!" She giggled and said, "Nah nah!"


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

a smack in the face

So the other day, my sister-in-law (who had her first baby, and Annabelle's first cousin, in October) asked me what toys we like for Annabelle as Mr. Tymon has developed some mad hand skills and needs some new things to do.

I had to scratch my head for a few seconds, because although she does like some of her real toys, for the most part, Annabelle's favorite toys are the ones that aren't toys at all. And they're usually hazardous to her health in some way - cords, dirty shoes, wet wipes, pens.

But perhaps her favorite non-toy is her binky leash. (Note to future parents whose children take a liking to the binky - buy one of these.) We customarily have this little doo dad clipped to her onesie. And it's not so much because she's a binky junky (she likes it when she's sleeping or sick) so much as I can't stand it falling on the filthy apartment floor (filthy in that it came that way and then we had a baby who likes to spill everything, filthy). Also, when you all of the sudden need the dang thing, it's always missing, so why not have it around all the time, right?

We have a night time routine - doesn't a baby love a routine? (Or is it her mom.) Customarily, before we change her into her pajamas, we let her run around naked for a while (and when I say run around, I mean crawl backwards {she can't do it forward} and swivel on her bum). We also remove the binky leash from her outfit, and inevitably, she will retrieve it and spend tens of minutes (that's like tens of hours in adult time) whipping it around. And when I say whip, I mean WHIP. She smacks herself in the face, on the legs. She makes marks. But SHE CAN'T STOP. And when we take it away, she gets real mad as though we just took away her Diet Dr Pepper.

In other news, in a budget saving measure, I've stopped buying Diet Dr Pepper by the case.

I can't stop smacking myself in the face.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

happy heart day

If my heart was a compass, you'd be north.
If my heart was a house, you'd be home
- Owl City, If My Heart Was A House

Saturday, February 13, 2010

holiday by design

I regularly design things and never do anything with them. Cue the multiple baby announcements, blessing invites, and other nifty projects that my daughter has inspired. The holiday that is upon us inspired yet another. And I had every intention of printing it and sending copies to our family members. But as it turns out, I'm really bad at the follow through part of this whole design thing.

And while the husband isn't a huge celebrator of holidays, I am. I try to blow them off and pretend that they aren't a big deal to me, but they are. So I just keep celebrating my way. And I realize that we should love each other every day, but I don't think there's anything wrong with a holiday (as Hallmark created as it might be) that reminds us of that love we have for the ones we hold close. 

So Happy Heart Day, one day early. :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

be still my heart

So my mom taught me everything I know about cooking and baking. From an early age, I was "helping" her with our nightly meals and more importantly with cookies, cakes, and yummy treats. Snickerdoodles were one of my first specialties. Because she had the foresight to let me "help" her, I now feel pretty competent in the kitchen. In fact, I love being in the kitchen. I love the magic that happens when flavors combine to create something amazing. I love the smells and the sounds. Popping oil, sizzling onions, the Kitchenaid on high. Also, I love eating, so it works out.  (Except when I'm pregnant, in which case all the aforementioned activities that have anything to do with food become ultra revolting, and I eat bananas for nine months straight.)

Most importantly, my mom taught me to cook delicious meals and desserts made more for inhalation than slow consumption without the use of extra apparatuses and fancy finagled contraptions as well. Simply put, we believe in easy - but yummy - recipes. 

I don't own a candy thermometer. AND I STILL MAKE FUDGE and CARAMEL.

With Valentine's around the corner, I thought this was a fun little recipe, and ultra easy. Plus, it has cream cheese frosting, and I sincerely believe that almost everything is better with cream cheese. The recipe is here.

To make the hearts on the cookies, scoop frosting into a large Ziploc bag (or pastry bag if you believe in kitchen accouterments like that). I just cut off the corner of the bag, and squeezed out a few hearts. (I did a practice heart on a plate before piping it onto the cookies.)

They're quick, yummy, and ridiculously cute. And if you have kids, they'll love helping because their hands will turn red. (And their faces and teeth. Mine did. :) )

For more quick and easy recipes, my mom's can be found here. They're our tried and true. And almost all can be whipped up in under an hour. My Kitchen Cafe is also a favorite.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

feet on solid ground. sort of.

I've started this blog post several times. It's actually really difficult for me to write about running, that I can't do it anymore, that I sort of have to let go of something that for roughly a decade was one of the most reliable things in my life. Running gave me purpose. Running challenged me. Running kept me in shape and enabled me to eat like a total pig. (Seriously - my friend has a phrase I really love: "Run to eat, eat to run," one of the greatest truths I've ever known.) Running was an hour of time with myself, an hour to organize my thoughts. Running got me through both heartache and happiness. In a strange way, running is one of my best friends.

I could honestly write an essay on running (oh wait, isn't that what this is?), and for those of you who consider yourselves runners or have found the love of running at one point or another in your life, you will understand that it literally does something to your pride to turn your back on it.

However, I've come to the conclusion that for now, running and I have to take a break. (It's not you, it's me.) Pregnancy took two feet that were already on the brink of the end of their running career, and pretty much turned them to mush. Running hurts now. And running could potentially cause serious damage.

Oh my heart.

So I tried something new. Spinning. The sport I semi-mocked as the people with tight shirts and shorts whizzed by me during my runs. The sport that is essentially the opposite of "my" sport. No more moving forward on my own two feet. No more solid ground under every step. I'd be in a whole new world, a room in fact. With bikes and the rapid whirring of legs.

The entire day before my spinning class, I was nervous. I love running because it doesn't require many skills beyond those of putting one foot in front of the other and switching your brain to a mode where pain and time don't register. It's hard to fail at running. But spinning? Bikes require skills way beyond just footfalls.

I sat in the parking lot of the gym and almost drove home. I sent a text to Jess that said: "I'm way nervous." He sent one back: "You shouldn't be. Just remember, love the bike. Love the bike." (He's a cyclist.)

So I went in and put my name down on the beginner's course, a 25 minute introduction to spinning.

As we started the endless leg revolutions, I suddenly found myself lost in the repetition. After all, isn't running just repetition of a different sort? My legs were burning. I was sweating (something I loathe unless I'm working out). And I left halfway through the next class.

I loved it. The part of me that found deep satisfaction in sweating it out on a treadmill found it again. Just on a bike. It was challenging. It was hard. It was fun. And if I'm being perfectly honest, sixty minutes on a bike seemed like a breeze compared to the same amount of time on a treadmill.

I do miss running (terribly), and I refuse to believe I'll never do it again. But for now, I'll take the room stuffed with bikes and loud, blaring music. Because in the revolutions of the bike, my feet are still falling. And they feel right at home.

NOTE: I will say that it depends on the instructor. I had one who kept yelling at the class (all four of us, it was a small class, and I'm pretty sure it had everything to do with her): "Right here, right now!" or "Come on ATHLETES!" I was like, um. No. But if you find the right instructor(s), it's a perfectly wonderful way to get some cardio in.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

sleeping aid

Dear Parents:

If you have never spent the hours of 3-6 a.m. wondering if there's a safe, legal, delicious-to-babies substance that would make them SLEEP, we may not be able to converse for a while.

Because that's mostly what I'm trying to figure out these days.

Hope your night went well.

The Mom Who Doesn't Sleep From Three to Six A-Em

P.S. Maybe I should be looking for a way to reset Belle's internal alarm clock? Because it starts buzzing in her brain with insane accuracy at 3:15 a.m. every morning.

Monday, February 8, 2010

eat your heart out

I eat two at a time.
Preferably two of the same color, at the same time.
Although green and yellow make a pretty good pair.
I like white the best.
I like orange the least.
I think there's a disproportionate number of pinks in a bag.
And a small number of whites.
Which makes me keep eating through the bag
in an effort to sift through the pinks to find the colorless ones.
Brach's is my favorite brand.*
They're kind of soft - "dissolvey" is what we call them in my family.
I rarely read the messages on the hearts.
It's mostly about sugar consumption.
I hate how the sugar film gets stuck all over my mouth, 
like a filthy sugar sweater.
But I can't stop eating them once I start.

How do you eat your hearts?

*Jess and I both agree that Brach's has increased the thickness of their hearts. Are we crazy?

Thursday, February 4, 2010


She's sitting in the tub these days. 
(My left arm thanks her, although when she wants to recline, 
she just plops down, so technically she isn't sitting alone in the tub 
as my arm is ever present to catch her.)
She loves to watch the water fall and tries to "hold" it.
Mommy loves her Johnson's Bedtime Bath soap 
(we use it in the morning, thank you very much).
In fact, Mommy isn't going to tell her that there are other cleansing options 
until she moves out of the house to keep her smelling so delicious.
Nothing more delicious than a yummy smelling bathing beauty.

Photo from The Daily Annabelle. My apologies to those who have to see it twice. :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

time flies

One of the great ironies of life is that when you want time to pass it tends to creep sluggishly by, yet when you'd prefer to slow down, time speeds past you like a flash of light.

At BYU, I took a class during which we had to write one paper (a wonderful concept for an English major - the papers never cease really). However, we had to be prepared to read that paper aloud to the class on the last day. I dreaded this day. It wasn't that I thought my paper was poor - I thought it was fine. I had taken a few classes from the professor, one of my favorites, I knew his grading style and what he was looking for, and I was pretty sure I'd even get an A. The problem was that I have a real abhorrence for speaking in front of people. I can make conversation with just about anyone. But the speaking to people? I will do just about anything, including clean the fridge out (isn't that the worst household chore? I dread it), to avoid it.

During our last class, it was recognized that there would be a few people who didn't read their paper because there simply would not be enough time. Oh, how I prayed I could be one of those few. I sat there, my head slightly ducked but not so hidden so as to attract attention, watching the clock. The second hand moved slower than I've ever seen. Minutes seemed like hours while undergraduates shared their philosophical views of the working class in nineteenth century England (depressing, yes). But somehow I made it through those agonizing fifty minutes without being called on. My paper remained silent, and I survived possibly one of the longest hours of my life.

On the flip side, it's rather astonishing to me how minutes can fly by, even when you don't want them to, even when you're physically willing time to slow, begging it to crawl. It's so unreal to me that seven months ago today at (approximately) 6:27 p.m., I met this little girl.

The minutes since have fallen through the neck of the hour glass of life with alarming speed. There are nights when I dread putting my baby to bed because I know when she wakes up, she will be bigger. Another day will be gone and another day full of new milestones and discoveries awaits us, a prospect both unbelievably exciting but also a little sad. My little baby is growing so fast.

I have a favorite quote, one that hung above my bed during my single days. I have it mostly memorized I've read it so many times:

"Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer." (Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Poet)

I try to live everything, every single moment, especially those I share with Annabelle. I know that some filter through my fingers unnoticed or poorly spent, but the seven months of motherhood I've experienced so far have been some of my favorite moments. Ever. While the minutes, hours, and days seem to literally fly, they are still some of the most wonderfully flying minutes I've ever known. 

I think that many of you would agree with me when I say it's nearly impossible to use words to describe the love you feel for your children or to describe the amazing and uniquely discernible joy of motherhood. What I can say, however, is that time flies. And somehow your small baby becomes a big (big, big) baby. And although time does indeed fly, the moments combine to be some of the most beautiful expanses of time you've ever known.


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