Thursday, December 30, 2010


Zoe hasn't been in a rush to speak. Her expressive level gaze and pointing finger, accompanied by an array of grunts, squawks, and demanding screeches, is generally more than enough to convey anything necessary. Sign language, in her mind, is meant only to emphasize "MORE MORE MORE" or demand "Give me that breast right now, milkmaid." The last two weeks, though, she's finally started picking up about word a day and we are totally loving it.

A few days ago, while sitting in her carseat, she overheard Michael and me talking about how hungry we were and one of us (to remain unnamed) growled "MEEEEEEEEEAT!!!!" She thought that was funny, and the rest of the day she spent growling in her itty-bitty-girl voice "Meeeeeeeeeee!" So cute it's really ridiculous.

She says "Thank you!" It sounds more like a sing-song "Day-doo!" She doesn't use it in context, she prefers to thank people with a goofy wrinkly-nosed smile. She just likes walking around and saying day-doo day-doo day-doo!

When you place something tasty before her, she exclaims "Yumyumyumyummy!"

If she is wrestling (one of her favorite pastimes, she starts it) with Dad or Jed, and they are on top of her, she shouts "OFF!"

She knows dad's name, which she prefers to shout at 4:30 AM when she can't sleep. "NAAH! NAAH!" Michael has been nightweaning Zoe for me (oh bless his heart) and the last few days have been a little rough. But we both giggle when she starts shouting crankily "Naah!"

Also, when Jed leaves the room and she wants him back, she shouts his name "YED!" (Do you sense there is a lot of shouting at our house? Because there is.) She shouts "Yed!" when she wakes up in the morning because Jed loves to be the first one to come see her. I have to wait at the top of the stairs while he goes down and pats her cheeks and kisses her head and gives her hugs over the top of the crib. Then I'm allowed to come down and get her out. But a few days ago, somehow, Jed figured out how to pull her out of the crib himself so now I'm not allowed to come down at all. I don't mind, they are so cute together, but I do always sneak a look down at the sibling love-fest.

She says "Shoes", which sounds exactly like Jed's way of saying it as a toddler, "Shzzzz." Both of my kids have had a strange shoe fetish.

Also, "Wheeeeeee!" as she goes backwards down the stairs. Which she has only just started doing. She is kind of stubborn. She prefers her personal slaves to carry her. It took months of leaving her screeching angrily at the top of the stairs before I caught her sneaking down them when I wasn't looking. But now it is a game worthy of "Wheeee!" if we all go down backwards together.

Finally, and my favorite, Zoe has learned to say "Jesus." She knows who he is, too! I didn't even know she recognized him until her grandma pointed it out to me one day. She points him out as a baby in nativity scenes, and she also points to paintings of him as an adult and says his name. I confess, this makes me beam in pleasure. I guess we're doing all right in the parenting area if she picks that kind of stuff up all by herself.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Scripture Stories

Today, Jed brought in a leather-bound book and announced these were his new scriptures. He sat next to me and read me some of his stories. Here is a direct transcript:

Chapter 1
Helaman and Joseph really wanted to play on the dirt pile. But it was raining outside. So they just kept asking.

Chapter 5
So this is what they did they sneaked out where the rainy dirt pile was and they played in it all morning long. They didn't want to go with their mom to plant seeds and they didn't want to go trick or treating with their mom and they just played all day outside. But their mother came outside. She was really mad at them. The end.

Chapter 1
Some bad guys came into their yard and so what the bad guys did they knocked out some of the bricks but their house didn't fall down. They looked outside and they saw anybody there but none of the bad guys ran away.

Chapter 5
Helaman and Joseph were playing at the playground but they fell off the roller. They fell off and got rust stuff on their pants. Their mommy came and found them trying to flip off it on the top. And they were jumping off the top. But they didn't get hurt! They just rolled around on the playground because it was soft. The end.

Chapter 2 (This is the new one that I used to read and then it was old but then it was new again!)
How Helaman flipped a book out their window. But their window wasn't open and it crashed a hole in it. And the flipped book came outside where the dirt pile was and they went outside to get the book but it was stuck in the mud. But it melted and melted all the time. They liked that book because it had monsters in it. (Five little monsters sitting in a tree. One went shimp and the other went bam.) It was loose in the mud the next day.

Chapter 2. 31:21 that's the one we read tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Our Budding Professional

Our daughter with her busy schedule has decided that nursing time is also a perfect time to take care of business. Talking with her mouth full is a little awkward. And if V and I talk to loud during her conversation she shushes us.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Woman of Passion

Or perhaps just caprice.

Yes, that is Jed with his mouth overflowing wandering around in the background. Dinner Manners are still in early development around here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Zombie Squeeze!

One of my favorite of Zoe's many amusing activities is when she ambles around the house, hands outstretched, reaching, like a little pink zombie. She sneaks up on Jed, standing unaware and facing away from her, one bum-cheek conveniently available for each seeking hand, and gives his backside a good hearty squeeze. Then he runs screeching and laughing, and she giggles so hard she can hardly stay upright as she chases him, hands still stretched out, ready for another squeeze.


Back in September, my mom and dad invited Michael and me to join them in the yearly Dowdle Book of Mormon Challenge. Every year, beginning in September, my parents read the entire Book of Mormon with a goal to finish by Christmas. I haven't joined them in a long, long time, but this year I felt moved upon to join in, so I did!

Every morning for the last three months, I've snuck out of bed early and deposited myself on the upstairs couch to read my three chapters for the day. To my own surprise, I found myself so excited every day for this precious time for spiritual uplift and reflection. If the kids woke up early, I was almost cranky about it -- this is my special time! Eventually, Jed realized that Dad and Mom were having this quiet reading time and he started waking up ridiculously early, just so he could come in and snuggle on the couch with us. Michael was pretty good about helping him sit quietly and look at books so we wouldn't miss out on our sacred scripture time.This past Saturday, I finished the very last chapter of Moroni, savoring it, almost reluctant to let the experience end. The last week I read only a chapter a day. I've been so thoroughly engrossed in the experience that I ended an entire month early!

Though I have read the Book of Mormon many, many times before, this time it felt so fresh, so new. Sitting there in the living room, the morning light climbing warm and bright across the walls, my mind seemed to be filled with light, too. The stories seemed more meaningful, the connections more clear. Nearly every day I found verses and thoughts popping into my head during the day, relevant to the challenges and opportunities facing me that day. I felt a spiritual rejuvenation that I haven't felt since my single years just after my mission -- a sense of meaning and purpose that enlightened every aspect of my life. And perhaps most importantly, I feel like my relationship with my Savior Jesus Christ, my understanding of his role and my gratitude for his love for me, has deepened and become so important to me.

The Lord truly is merciful to us today and now, and I am more grateful than ever for a book that testifies of Christ and serves as a rod, a guide, that brings our families closer to Him.

Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Two of my favorite things

This is the photo Michael and I both have as our background on our phone. Every day, those sweet little faces cuddled up all warm and happy makes us feel all warm and happy inside.

A recent tale regarding Jed:
Before he falls asleep, Jed loves me to tell him a "made up story". These stories generally involve an anthropomorphized object or animal who faces an ethical dilemma and chooses the right and feels the rewards of his right decision. Yes, I am the modern Aesop. Last night, though, we were doing a quick one, since it was so late. I told Jed a story about Snoot the Snowflake who fell from his soft fluffy cloud and landed right on a little boy's nose. As Snoot and his friends squealed "Wheeeee!" while falling, Jed reached out of his blanket and his soft, moist little boy hand wrapped itself around mine. He snuggled into his pillow and his eyes closed, and gentle smile on his lips.

And Zoe:
Marshmallows are a big hit around here of late, seeing as how we had so many campfires in the fall, and now that the weather has turned blisteringly cold, hot cocoa is a daily affair. A couple weeks ago we were over at the grandparents' house and I was wiping Zoe down after a particularly messy dinner. After I got her rosy cheeks and hands scrubbed down, I let her go (she's at a dead run before she hits the ground). "Wait," Jan said. "Is there something under her chin?" Michael grabbed her and tilted her chin up. She screamed and squealed in protest as he revealed, yes, an entire large marshmallow shoved beneath her chin. Stickily stored for later consumption, it had melted into the folds of her ample double chin and cemented itself into a gooey white cement blob. Prying that sucker off all that soft pink skin was no easy task, and she was generally displeased with us all the rest of the evening.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Winter Night

Michael's work, of course.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Dinner is utter silliness at our house.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


This morning at preschool Jed hid under the couch to surprise his friends. The first one was surprised and then she hid under the couch, too. Together they surprised the next one, and so on until I had four little giggling turtle noggins popping out from under my couch! We all had to do several rounds of "Surprise!" until they were ready to come to circle time, and even then I had to bribe them with ring around the rosy.

After circle time we did a flannel board of the Thanksgiving story and talked about American foods. We played Hot Potato with a sweet potato (interestingly, I let each of the kids hold and toss a sweet potato and that was the biggest hit of the day.) Then we rolled out our own individual pie crusts and made sweet potato pie-lettes in ramekins. We traced our hands and feet to make handprint turkeys while we sang turkey songs. Then I told Pres. Monson's story about the lean Thanksgiving from the last conference (complete with stuffed rabbit visuals) and we read a silly turkey book. I had a great time. I think I enjoy hosting preschool as much as the kids do participating!

Preschool is over for the fall, and we will miss it. Jed learns a lot from more structured activities with the other kids, and he looks forward to it every week! He has improved at listening and participating though it is still hard for him some days. I'm not too worried, he's just growing into it and preschool is good practice for him.

Here is a photo of Jed at the Preschool Halloween Party with his friend Thomas.
(See the side-wards eye glance? Yep, Granny Z knows that look. Every picture I ever drew as a kid had the character with eyes glancing to the side, and now it is so funny to see Jed look at things out of the corner of his eyes all the time.)

We were late so we missed the group photo, but here is a shot of all the other kids gathered together, along with a few miscellaneous little siblings thrown in for fun. :) Cute little group of kids, and all very well behaved.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Our ward holds a Halloween party nearly every year up at a ranch just out of town. Everything about it is perfect -- brilliantly-colored leaves rustling in the trees, warm sun against a cool blue sky, friends gathered around a crackling fire, a chili cook-off in the barn, children playing in the leaves and decorating cupcakes, everyone roasting hot dogs and giggling at our costumes, kids shouting from a tractor-pulled hayride around the farm. It is a real midwestern harvest festival and I look forward to it so much every year.

As is customary we didn't end up with a single photo of our whole family (Seriously, someday my children will look back and think I was a single mother!) But I did dig up this cute photo of the kids and me with our good friends the Rosens.

Michael and I dressed up as the nerd couple, and we were quite the sight if I do say so myself. Also, that costume was FAR too easy to assemble. Nerdy clothes? Right here in our closets! Ugly makeup? I've got plenty. Super-nerd books to put in my bag? Which edition of Plato should I choose?! Side ponytail? Are you kidding I had one my whole childhood! And an actual conversation:

Me: OK, I've got the gum massager to put in my pocket. Dang it, I don't know what happened to my pocket Constitution, it would be perfect! It's got to be around here somewhere.... (scrounges in kitchen drawer, where obviously one would keep a pocket Constitution.)

Michael: (Comes out of office waving small book in the air) Oh, no worries, here you can borrow mine.

That's right folks, we BOTH have them, and right at hand in case of emergency.

Also, in the photo you can see Jed dressed up in his Stripling Warrior CTR costume that Granny Zo'An made him. There is a cool leopard print cape on the back of the breastplate, but you can't really see it in this shot. Beneath the costume you can glimpse his Zombie shirt.

And here, of course, the final glory. The little princess dressed up in a fluffy little wisp of an outfit, with gauze and ribbons and bows aplenty. She has the cutest billowy skirt on but you can't quite see it here. Also, a sweet crown with bows down the back that here has been converted to a necklace. I confess some bias, but she really was the darlingest Halloween princess in town.

Monday, November 8, 2010

White Chicken Chili

The prize-winning crockpot wonder,
courtesy of Jan, Emily, and Penny Stanfill.

White Chicken Chili
In crockpot, combine:
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 chicken bullion cubes
1 can chunk chicken (drained)
The following cans not drained:
1 can corn
1 can garbanzo beans
1-2 cans great northern beans
3/4 bottle salsa verde (mild or medium)
1-2 cans diced green chilies
15-16 oz can of hominy
Taste it. If it's not spicy enough, dice up 1/2 a white onion.
If you want it more soupy, add more broth.
Have it summer in your crockpot for about 3-5 hours.
Serve with:
fresh squeezed lime
diced avacado
chopped cilantro
sour cream

Jed's Best Day Ever

A backhoe in the backyard! Trucks and trailers and all sorts of "shamines!" Pipes and hoses and dirt-piles galore! It's Jed's best day ever!

Unfortunately, the cause of all this excitement is the recent collapse of our septic tank, which wasn't exactly Dad's Best Day Ever, but we've been blessed to find a very inexpensive deal on a new one. But our poor beautiful lawn!
Earlier this morning, Jed begged for me to open the window so he could sing the Bob the Builder theme song for the men digging a hole. The man was nice enough to conduct a (prolonged) conversation with Jed about men named Bob who build (the installer happens to have a friend named Bob), favorite Bob videos (he has a son Jed's age), and how many "shamines" Jed has ("I only have one shamine, it is a backhoe." The man replied "Well, we only have one too, but it's a big one." Jed glowed.)

Saturday, November 6, 2010


This fall, a bunch of friends and I started a co-op preschool for our five little ones who are all about the same age. We meet Wednesday mornings for two hours. Each mom does it two weeks in a row. We are only doing 11 weeks this fall, so we don't encroach on the holiday frenzy.

Last year, Jed wasn't much of a socialite. At playgroup, which we attended weekly for more than two years, he still would sit on my lap and stare silently at the other children for at least an hour. Then if most of the people left he would climb down and go play by himself. But this year, things have changed.

Typically, when I show up at preschool, he runs shouting up to the door and politely lets himself in with a bang. Then he disappears. I guess he won't miss me, so I leave. Zoe and I usually go exercise, and if we are close enough to home I go practice the piano for 45 minutes or so (wahoo! So fun!) When I pull back up to whomever's house to pick him up, Jed comes flying out the door and down the sidewalk.

"MOM! Go back! I TOLD you I wanted a LONG ONE."

Hi Jed, did you have fun at preschool today?

"NO, MOM." He begins to bodily shove me back in the car. "I TOLD you GO AWAY because I want a LONG ONE!"

Preschool is just never long enough for Jed!
I walk inside. I ask the Mom how it was today. Great, of course.

So, how did Jed do?

Well, he didn't do circle time. He decided he'd rather sit on the couch and read a book. No amount of coaxing would convince him. Then when she started to sing the good morning song, he looked up from his book and announced, "No, you're singing it wrong."

"Jed, do you want to come over and do it with us?"

"No, I don't think so, not really. I just really want to sit here and read my book."

But he graciously sang from the couch the proper way to do it, then went back to his reading. The children and teacher started over. When they finished, without glancing up from his book, my charming child announced, "Yep, that was right."

And that's about how every week goes. He only somewhat participates in the activities, but he is full of commentary and orders. He won't do the activities in their proper order. Nothing on his face, no girly stuff, no tracing of body parts. He goes over and around but not under or through. At least they report he eats treats with enthusiasm (he is my child.)

Nursery is about the same. He never bites, he never shouts, he never is mean or outright disobedient. He's no trouble, but he refuses to follow any orders whatsoever. My little man has an opinion, and very little will change his stubborn mind. Whenever I peek into nursery, all the other children are happily drawing or playing a cute little game, and there's my son in the corner, one of the nursery workers reading him a book. When he comes to music time, he insists upon sitting in a BIG chair, not a little chair with the rest of the cheerful obedient children, and when the time comes to go back to nursery, he refuses to go. He's suctioned cupped his backside to that chair, he's staying to see mom's lesson, because he helped with it this morning and he knows it is coming. Where do I draw the line? He's perfectly behaved, but at the same time such a stubborn old man.

Meanwhile, back at preschool, when the kids are running around in a little herd, playing and laughing, the other mothers snicker as my son shouts orders:

"You! I am the dad and you are my sweetheart. And you are my friend and you are the bachelor."

He commands everyone into the playhouse. Jed organizes the house and gives everyone their orders.. He grabs a shovel and a stick and holds them high.

"Now let's get it done and save the day!"

He leads the charge down the slide.

That's my boy.


Jed has become quite the loverboy. He takes after his dad. At social occasions, one lucky girl is chosen as his one and only. He holds her hand and rests his head on her shoulder. He calls her darling and sweetheart and leads her everywhere (whether she is willing or not.) He brings her cookies and goodies and tells her how wonderful she is. He gazes adoringly. It's quite disconcerting. The mother of his female friend is always very charmed that they are such a pair, and deep in my heart I know that my son is a fickle freddie, he has a new girl every day. When he turns 16 I know this will horrify me, but in the meantime he's such a little darling.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Also, in food news:

I won the annual ward Halloween Chili Cook-off! Since my mother in law is off touring in distant lands, I figured I'd go ahead and sneak into her email and send myself the recipe that Emily got from Penny and sent to Jan. I was right, it's a winner! Thanks, Stanfill Women, for making me look an awesome cook. I've got the ward buffaloed. Um, hope you weren't planning on entering it next year, Jan.

(Oh, you say you want photos of Halloween costumes and tales of children's antics and such. Boring! You'll just have to wait. I'm much too busy glorying my personal successes).

(Also, it's Michael's fault. The photos are on his camera.)

(PS. They were cute.)

Food Blog?

I'm so glad I paid extra for the fresh fancy-shmancy grass-fed hand-massaged cow meat, since this is how our hamburgers turned out tonight:
Yum! Egg-shaped charred rocks with raw centers--my favorite! Michael cursed them as "turd-balls" and swore with an oath that we shall purchase a new grill... TOMORROW! Meanwhile, I tossed em in the micro and gobbled them down, we Dowdles aren't fazed by a bit of charcoal. Once you gnawed through the exterior they were quite tasty.

This is why I don't have a food blog.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 8

We've reached Day 8 of the Barf-a-thon and the good news is, we're just about done. That's right. Everyone has barfed as much as they possibly could, and there's simply no one left to infect. I asked Michael to take me on a drive this evening, since I have only left my home twice in the last week and a day. It was lovely. I brought extra barf bags just in case.

That being said, I've found myself feeling grateful. Yes, we've all been miserably disgusting and our house reeks and we're so tired and cranky, but we're all fine. Even at the worst moments, with my poor baby girl just retching her guts out every twenty minutes all night long, Michael hundreds of miles away, I always knew that we'd be fine. The virus would pass, we'd all get better, we'd laugh about it in three weeks.

A few days ago I read an article about the cholera hitting the refugees in Haiti. Without clean water, they can't prevent it, and healthy grown adults die from dehydration before then can even get to a clinic. Children don't have a chance. When those children get sick, I can only imagine the fear that strikes their mother's hearts.

Never once in the last week have I had to fear. I've always known we would be fine, that my children were safe. Yes, I was inconvenienced. Yes, we have been uncomfortable. But I am so grateful that we live in a place and a manner where I never for a moment have had to be afraid.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I posted this on facebook the other day:

My son is stomping around the house, waving a lego object that looks exactly like a gun, and shouting in a growly manly-man voice "This is my special kind of nozzle! A special kind of nozzle! I'm turning my nozzle on! Rrrrr!"

Not in Nauvoo

My posting has been spotty, of late, thanks to the untimely death of my sadly abused laptop. Poor baby had a traumatic life and I am pleased to let it move on to the Happy Computing Grounds. Michael is trying to convince me to let him use it for target practice. I am happy to announce the very recent arrival of Beulah, my new shiny Toshiba Satellite. I found it refurbished from Toshiba for $150 off the regular price. She's got a big ol' hard drive and 3 gigs of ram and boy is she a beaut.

Her arrival night before last was divinely orchestrated (who would have thought that Toshiba refurb is in... Louisville KY? It took less than 24 hours to arrive!) I spent all day Thursday cheerfully baking and packing in anticipation of our Family Vacation to Nauvoo. Michael is shooting a wedding there this weekend, and the family kindly invited the rest of us along to stay in the hotel with them and enjoy the wedding festivities. I don't think I can over-state how excited we are were for our getaway. Michael took an extra day off work so we could go Friday and spend the whole day in Nauvoo just as a family (which has never happened before.)

Thursday afternoon, Jed started kind of whining about how his mouth hurt and he felt sick. Whatever. (He's a bit of the Kid who Cried Wolf. Even a recently discovered discovered freckle can be grounds for near-death wails and calls for a "really big bandaid.") But then later I found out he'd been complaining to Michael, too, and that didn't bode well. When he refused the special dinner of chocolate chip pancakes I'd prepared to fete the start of the family weekend, I started to get concerned. This kid NEVER turns down chocolate chips. A bit later, he threw up. Then more barfing. We put him to bed, hoping he'd sleep it off, but about ten feet before Michael made it to our bed, he heard a strangled cry of panic upstairs... and the rest was messy, stinky, and stretched long into the night.

The next morning, he woke up cheerful and said "I feel GREAT!" We snuggled in bed for a happy hour or so and thought "Hey, maybe we can do this!" So we prayed about it and five minutes later Jed vomited violently and, well, that was our answer. So now Michael's off in Nauvoo and I get to stay home and sanitize the facilities. Boo. Having to unpack everything, after just spending the whole day packing, with no fun in between just adds insult to injury. Good thing I got to down half a batch of chocolate chip carrot muffins to console myself.

That being said, I feel grateful that so far we are 36+ hours in from First Barf, and no one else seems to be coming down with it. Did I mention that the whole house has been severely bleached? Also, yesterday was actually kind of nice for Zoe since she got lots of attention and no brotherly-tormenting as Jed wallowed in 7 hours of Bob the Builder. She stomped around with a cheery grin, getting into everything, happy to own the place for just one day. In addition, I am deeply grateful for the arrival of this computer just before Michael and his laptop left town. Jed needed the healing power of Bob. For one last thing, I also feel grateful that Michael now has time to finish his midterm, which he was pretty much going to have to sacrifice for my vacation. :) Here's hoping for A's, my dear, and maybe we'll finally get that family getaway next year.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Zoe really needs to learn how to speak English. She's at that toddler phase where she does not yet speak, so she compensates with "shriek." From the moment she wakes up, it's one loud shout/giggle/shriek-athon until she passes out for nap time.

Last week, she woke up and I thought I heard her shouting something from the basement. At first I thought it was Jed, but no it was definitely her. So then I figured I was just imagining the words. But then she did it again the next morning, and I definitely heard it after the nap. Up the basement stairs my baby girl was shouting:


So charming. Not. What ever happened to "Mama" or something heart-wrenchingly sweet and memorable? What's with the 15 month teenager? So far, this is what we know, in English, from the mind of Zoe.

1) "Wow!" She uses it in perfect context every time.

2) "Mo mo mo mo mo." After many attempts to teach her sign language at the dinner table, and thus preserve the hearing of the rest of the family, she finally learned how to say (not sign) "More," generally repeated unceasingly at approximately 100 decibels until her mouth is stuffed sufficiently full that you can't hear it any more.

3) "Na na!" This is a word-shriek used when we refuse to share our bananas with her because they upset her belly. Not happy.

4) "No no no NO!" She picked this one up last week while we were at the grocery store. Always accompanied by flails of anger and several innocent objects thrown mercilessly to the floor.

To be fair, the "Hey Mom" and "No no no no no no!" were introduced the same day last week, and it was a bit of a blow to my mothering aspirations. She has a mouthful of teeth coming in and much of the day lately she careens around the house purposefully looking for things to be annoyed at, and thus have an excuse to shriek in anger. Fortunately that afternoon we were out working quietly in the yard (and by "quietly," of course, I mean "far enough apart and in the open air so the shrieks were barely noticeable,") and she wandered over to the garden. I heard a gentle little voice behind me utter, "Mama. Mama!" I turned around and there was my darling sweetheart holding a white feather and waving it proudly at me. "Mama!" I ran over and scooped her up and showered her with kisses, thanking her for that small token of the darling, beloved little girl I know she is inside.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Family Portraits

Saturday, September 18, 2010


I took a clownish photo of Michael. He said he would delete it. I said I could get it on the blog first. He said yeah, right - if I could download it to the proper hard drive and export it, then go right ahead.
He should know better than to issue such challenges.

This is the look I am going to get when he finds out.
PS - Michael is making me a picnic table! Isn't he awesome?!

First Egg

Our ladies finally laid their first egg on Labor Day.
We all ran outside and jumped and screeched for joy.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Quiet Time Ghost

Every day, directly after lunch, or later if necessary, we religiously observe "Quiet Time". This gives everyone a much needed break after too much fun and the onset of the crankies. Usually Zoe goes down for her nap, then Jed and I pile into his bed for three books, a snuggle and a smooch. Then he stays in there with his potty and snack for an hour while I leave to do my blessed 15 minutes of couch laying and then catch up on Primary President Business. (Sometimes this turns into a nap for mom, but I figure if I can't stay awake for 15 minutes on the couch then clearly I need it.)

In the past, Jed has always had a baby-lock handle on the inside of his door so he could only come out by knocking. This has worked well for us, but we've decided now he is old enough, and responsible enough, to learn to stay in the room on his own. Yesterday I gave him a little talk as I left, but he still popped out about twenty minutes later. I led him back into the room and laid back down on the couch.

A few minutes later, I hear a rustling and peeked over the arm of the couch. There in the hallway stood a small figure with a garishly bright car-themed quilt thrown over his head. The quilt wholly encompassed him like a woman in a burqa. Slowly, almost silently, the small, bright ghost creeped down the hallway. When he sensed he had left the hall, he entered the living room and slowly, oh so slowly, the creature sank down, smaller and smaller, until he dissolved into a blanket thrown carelessly on the floor.

The truth is, I was impressed. The kid must have been spread-eagled under there, pressed so tightly against the floor that if I hadn't witnessed it I may HAVE mistaken him for a blanket! Perhaps my child has a future as a sniper. I had just finished nursing Zoe to sleep and at that point I was not going to wake her up for anything. So I just walked right past him and set her down in the basement.

When I came back up, the burqa-d creature was wandering around the living room, gently bumping into walls and furniture in a slow careen. When he heard me, the ghost collapsed, in soundless slow motion again, but before he made it all the way to the floor, I grabbed him and carried him bodily, still swathed in blankets, into the bedroom and set him on the bed. Still silent, he lay there without moving. The charade was still on.

I lifted up the blanket. Attempting to control my shaking laughter, I kissed him on the forehead and said "You need to stay in quiet time until your timer rings, ok?" He looked up at me and spoke, at last.

"All right."

And he did.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Girl and Great-Grandpa

Grandpa Jed took a real shine to Zoe Ann. I think it was the combination of her pink cowboy boots with jeans. Or perhaps her voracious love for meat. But one thing's for sure, she can win any Montana Man's heart.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Butter Belly

We are a pancake family. But, at my insistence, not just any kind of pancake. They must be sourdough, and they must be topped with mounds of whipped heavy cream. My children agree.

Zoe has developed her own sophisticated method of pancake consumption. Every Friday, for Stanfill Pancake Morning, she puts on quite a show. She has kindly outlined her method for us.

First, coo, pointing at table, until a pancake is procured from a willing parent. Then, emit loud, punctuated screeches while flailing with pointed finger until a large, graceful blob of whipped cream is placed upon tray.

Shove a large portion of cream into mouth with open hand. Smear on face. Then with open palms, energetically wipe whipping cream back and forth across tray. Examine hands. Reload palms with cream and then, with great enthusiasm and a wide grin, begin to rub furiously across belly. Chortle with glee. Pay close attention to lather entire chest and belly button area. We don't want to miss a spot!

When belly is well coated, grab pancake. With two hands, place pancake on creamed stomach and wipe back and forth with a serious, focused gaze to keep giggling parents at bay. When pancake is coated with belly butter, shove entire pancake in mouth. Take twenty minutes to chew.
Occasionally screech for more whipped cream.

When finished, shout and flail until someone removes you from high chair. Then commence the post-breakfast activities, wrestling your big brother into submission.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Morning Light

Michael and I creep out of bed early in the morning, and sneak up the stairs, so as not to wake Zoe. We make our way to the living room, where we each take a customary position on our individual couches. We each pull out our scriptures and for a few quiet minutes, in the golden glow of the morning sunrise, we read. A pen scratches on the journal page, a sigh or mumbled thought. Occasionally, but not always, one will share a thought or verse. A peaceful stillness fills our usually boisterous house, and these quiet moments create a precious, perfect, and sacred beginning to my day.

Monday, September 6, 2010


We left Montana in Mom and Dad's white Subaru Outback, which they had kindly lent us for the time we visited in the west. Unfortunately, Mom and Dad were already in Montana when we realized that all was not well with the Subaru. As we drove along, the engine temperature needle steadily began to climb. By the time it became a real problem, we were already way up close to the Idaho/Montana border, which as you can see above is not exactly a heavily populated area. As the engine overheated, we had to open all the windows and turn the heater on high, roasting on an already hot day. The kids were sweaty, we were miserable.

We stopped in a teeny tiny little town in the middle of nowhere (Dubois, ID, pop. 647) for a while in hopes that the radiator was just low (and tried to make it fun by visiting the "historic site" which consisted of a site saying that some native Americans once camped several miles north of this spot. Not exactly historically meaty.) But when the engine cooled, Michael took a look and the radiator was full. So we were 6 hours from home and three hours from Montana, with nothing north of us and not much for several hours south. We didn't know what to do.

So Michael prayed for us. And we started to drive.

After a few minutes, the clouds moved in. Within ten minutes, we crossed the border and joyfully noticed that the outdoor temperature, previously at a rather warm 89 degrees, had dropped to 80. Our astonished eyes watched as the clouds kept rolling in and the temperature dropped like a rock. Within thirty minutes of our prayer, the outdoor temperature had dropped to 65 degrees and a cool rain poured down over the hood of our car. The weather stayed cool for the rest of our trip, and a mere twelve hours after setting out on a nine hour trip, we finally made it home.

Ha, I just typed that without thinking. Back to Montana. Home!

Sunday, September 5, 2010


"Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for this day.
Thank you for our many blessings.
Thank you for my friends.
Please bless this furniture.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Morning Bike Ride

At last, glorious fall has arrived! To celebrate the weather perfection, Jed and I took a little bike ride this morning. As we set off, Jed looked around and cheerfully proclaimed from the trailer:

"Oh, thank you for my bike ride, Mom! This morning is so lovely and invigorating!"

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Vietnamese Spring Roll Salad

Vietnamese Spring Roll Salad
A Michael 10/10 rated recipe
Last winter, Michael and I developed an insatiable craving for the $3.50/each grilled spring rolls at the local Vietnamese restaurant. So before we single-handedly put the owner's children through college, I got on the hunt for an acceptable imitation. Tonight, after 7 or 8 rounds of experimentation in the last six months, Michael announced that I'd perfected the magic recipe. So I'll share it with you.

Glazed Pork
1/4 c sugar
1/2 c water
2 t fish sauce
2 t soy sauce
2 T oil

Heat water and sugar over medium high heat until carmelized (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat. Slowly drizzle in 4 T or so of hot water and whisk until smooth and coats the back of spoon. Add fish sauce, soy sauce, and oil. Brush onto meat. Let sit 20 minutes and grill:

1 lb. pork loin, sliced into large 1/4 in thick pieces

Let sit for 10 minutes, then slice thinly. (Note: Don't dip the yucky raw pork brush into your glaze, just drizzle it on and then brush. Reserve left over marinade to pour over your salad because it is sooooooo good!)

Meanwhile, whisk or blend together:

Hoisin Sauce
1/4 c. hoisin sauce
1/4 c. peanut butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 T rice vinegar
Water until consistency desired

And chop up:

Chives/Green Onions
Carrots (shredded)
Cucumbers (very long, thin slices)
Noodles (thin, rice, whatever)

This can be made as a salad, as lettuce wraps, or in traditional rice-paper wrappers. I love the idea of wraps, but the truth is they are so messy we always end up eating it as a jumbled up salad, anyway! This is our new family favorite, and pork is so cheap that when you add herbs from the garden it is a very inexpensive but tasty meal that satisfies the meat lovers, veggie lovers, and pasta lovers alike in our family.


Earlier this week, I decided we should all go get our Diptheria/Tetanus/Pertussis shots before we get into the Fall Sick Season. After a couple false attempts, I finally got us into a nearby county health clinic. Everything went well, except we all had a strange reaction: TIRED.

Zoe fell asleep in the car on the way home and slept for three plus hours.

I came home, fed Jed a quick snack and put him in quiet time. I laid down on the couch and woke up at least two hours later to a crying baby. Whoops!

Zoe and I peeked in an hour later at Jed, and this is what we found:

He'd fallen asleep reaching under the bed to pick up a card. About 4 PM (this is FOUR HOURS after we got home) I went in to wake him up. He sleepily raised his head and handed me the card and said, in a tired little squeaky voice, "Mom, I want to play this game. I'm picking up the card...." and then his head thumped down again.

I carried him into the living room and set him in my lap for a cuddle. He started to scream and flail. "Mom! Mom! It hurts! Make it stop itching!" For a split second, I feared some sort of horrific vaccine reaction. But then I realized, no, both his feet and lower legs had fallen asleep on the floor. HA! Poor baby!

We all went to bed early that night, and both kids slept a big chunk of the next day, too.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

We're Back!

Despite Indiana's insistence on staying above 90 degrees, our summer of fun has come to an end. My posting has been sporadic thanks to a pathetically failing computer that refuses to function unless the A/C is going full blast (Hmmm, sounds like my husband...) But it's working for the moment so here's a glimpse into our life right now.

Michael has officially started school again, in this program. He's super enthused, especially once he realized he'd be able to download his classes onto his new iPod Touch he's getting for his birthday. It's the perfect techy-nerd-artsy-fartsy degree for my man. He's in heaven.

Though she'd been taking steps for a while, Zoe decided on her birthday that as a one-year-old she didn't need to crawl anymore. Now she's a champion walker and even does this darling waddle-run when motivated by loud noises or tasty treats. She also learned her first word - "Wow!" - which she uses perfectly in context.
Now, she's a full-fledged toddler. No baby left there anymore.
Jed sings and sings and sings the day away. He loves to read and often will sit in his bed for two hours at a time, reading through stacks and stacks of books. We're starting a little co-op preschool with a few other children next week

I just sit around, reveling in the darlingness of my own little family.