Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mommy's Little Helper

Cheyenne is a "helper" as of late.

And by helper I mean likes to destroy things.

One of her favorite pastimes is climbing under the sink in the bathroom and playing with our collection of free magazines.

She also loves to climb in things. Like this drawer in the kitchen for example. And just sit in it. I've also found her with her body all scrunched up, sitting in a bowl. And here she is "helping" me sweep.

Other interesting things that have been happening as of late.

My little brother Dillon had his mission farewell in Idaho.
While there for the weekend, I talked my older brother into giving us train tickets to the "North Pole." 
Ben's making a funny face in this first one.

Cheyenne loved the lion on the train. Not sure why there was a lion on the train, but it was great fun.

We also got to see this sweet baby girl get blessed, Caroline, Joel's 7th baby. Don't you love her dress?

Isn't this what you do on a Saturday Night?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Not a Christmas Card

Ben said "no" to Christmas cards this year, but here is what they would have looked like. I even printed a test print and they looked awesome. But alas, you will have to settle with the electronic kind this time.

And here's a tiny update on us, since we're not doing a real Christmas card, I don't have to write a long thing, correct?

It's been a busy year for us! We bought a house (duplex) in July, and our baby turned one in November. We've taken some fun trips to Idaho, California, Montana, & Illinois, and we're finishing off the year with a cruise to the Caribbean (taken with all Ben's coworkers, so yes we get to go for free!). Ben still loves making radars for the company he works for, and should finish up his Masters Thesis for Electrical Engineering next year. I enjoy being a stay at home mom, and chasing around Cheyenne.

Merry Words Christmas Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Meaningful Life-- T.V.

Growing up, I heard a story that kind of went like this (whether it's true or not I'm not quite sure).

One year my parents got all us kids together and said they were going to make a BIG purchase. They were either going to get us cable television or a trampoline.

We all unanimously voted for a trampoline, because, how fun is that? And let me tell you, I have a lot of good memories on the trampoline. Some nights Dad would get a bunch of blankets and we'd all lay out on the trampoline and look at the stars and he'd tell us stories. We'd have cousins over and sleep out on the trampoline and sneak out and go toilet papering late at night. When we had a pool, you would lay out on the warm trampoline to dry off without a towel. And then there's all the other great things: Crack the Egg, see who can bounce the highest, Blindman's Bluff, and all the other regular games.

But I digress. Anyway, so growing up I never had cable. I don't even remember watching Public Television, although we did watch it for a time I'm told. So my memories are only about movies. Lots and lots of movies.

For whatever reason, this was part of my childhood that I held dear to my heart. So when searching for a mate, one of my requirements was that they had to be ok with not having cable in our home. Ben was just such a man who bought into my crazy scheme.

It's not that I think T.V. is inherently evil, or that it will lead to every person's demise (although there are certainly some shows out there that will, I'm sure). There are plenty of shows out there that are uplifting, educational, or interesting. And in fact a lot of my siblings have tv programming of some sort in their home. So I guess I just turned out a little bit weird.

When I married Ben, he happened to be the owner of a projector (being single for a long time + saving up a lot of money = large purchases that you would never buy when you are married), so we never bought a T.V. We actually still don't own a tv. If we want to watch movies (which we don't really want to that often, it turns out), we'll pull out the projector if it's a big enough group. But mostly we just use our laptop.

So there you have it. Something that I think makes life meaningful is not owning a T.V.
Life is a lot more interesting this way.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Little One-Year-Old

Well now I am the mother of a 1 year old. It's been a pretty fun adventure so far. Especially when, frankly, I wasn't sure I'd enjoy it. But looking back over the past year there's so many more smiles, laughter, and joy than two people can make.

I'm so grateful for the chance to be a mother, I know it's not a position to be taken lightly.

A little over a year ago I was a different person. I was more selfish, more judgmental, and had less compassion. Then when I had a baby and realized I couldn't even shower whenever I wanted, I started to change a little. I stopped judging people who's babies cried in the supermarket. And I shed a tear or two whenever I hear of a mother losing their child. I'm not perfect by any means, but I'm grateful to a Heavenly Father who loaned me this gift so I could learn a little.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving + 1st Birthday

We had a great time visiting Ben's grandparents in Montana for Thanksgiving.

Last Thanksgiving I was having turkey in a hospital room. I had given birth to my sweet little bundle of joy the day before, so this Thanksgiving was a welcome change.

Cheyenne loved being carted around on Grandma's walker.

Right after the full turkey dinner we had with Ben's grandparents and their friends Darrell and Sue, instead of pumpkin pie Cheyenne had a birthday cake! 

Her very first birthday cake! Since we were traveling Grandma D was nice enough to pick up a little pink cake at the store. Cheyenne loved it and dug right in.

We had fun going out to breakfast. Here we are at one of Grandma & Grandpa D's favorites, Perkins.

Cheyenne's got a new 'do that is quite a hit. And there are always visitors at Grandma & Grandpa's door!

Cheyenne was so happy to have her cousins to play with. She loves the new hat she got for her birthday.

Dannielle, Ben's sister, and her family came the day after Thanksgiving and we were so happy for the full house!

Until next year!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dillon's Birthday

I mentioned before that we enjoy having my little brother Dillon live by us while he is going to his freshman year of college.

Sunday was his birthday, the big 1-9.

He got a birthday package from Mom, which, you can tell, he was very excited about.
Can you tell he is a 19-year-old boy? All he gets for his birthday is cookies, candy, and ho ho's!!

Cheyenne and her favorite 19-year-old uncle. Yes that is pizza sauce on her face and she's wearing her pajamas. She knows how to party in style.

We had fun celebrating with Dillon and his friend Meagan. I even made a few construction paper party hats.

Cheyenne always makes this face when she is afraid the flash will get in her eyes.

See ya!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Meaningful Life: Music

I talked back in this post about how my mom instilled in me a love of music.

I LOVE listening to music, especially vocal performance. I'm not talking about the radio or popular singers or the like; I'm sure I enjoy listening to those just about as much as anybody. But what I'm talking about is trained, in tune, rich, beautiful notes.

Being in love with singing, specifically, definitely has a lot to do with my own mother's love of vocal performance (as a Vocal Performance Teaching major in college). And I've also been in school choirs, regional choirs, special group choirs, solos, group ensembles, church choirs, and state choirs constantly from 6th grade to 12th. That might also have something to do with my love of incredibly good music.

I took a group voice class one time in college, and I realized something. A group of us got together to practice our music, and they started talking about the class and saying, "This is a great class, but I have no idea what our teacher's talking about when she explains to us how to use our voices. The imagery she uses? It's like it's in another language." That's when I realized that I speak the language of music. Now, obviously, I am no concert soloist by any stretch of the imagination, but I get music. Granted, this was a beginning singing class, and in reality there are a lot of people who speak the language of music, but sadly, as I learned from this experience and others, there are a lot of  people who don't.

So one thing I think that makes life meaningful is good music, real music. Music that calms the soul and gladdens the heart. So one thing I want to be a part of my kids' life is the emotional and spiritual experience that is music.

When I was pregnant, I was trying to find "the" song that was relaxing enough that it could "transport" me into another place while I was in labor. Although I don't think I really accomplished this when I gave birth, this is a song I have come back to over and over again throughout my life that instantly calms me. Turn it up LOUD and make it full screen to get the full effect.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What's Cheyenne Been Up To?

What has Cheyenne been doing, you ask?

Well let me tell you.

 She's been sleeping in this crib, the same one her dad slept in. Ben (and even I helped!) put it together.

She's been having bathtime. A great feature of the basement is that there is no bathtub to speak of. So I bought this portable one online (in pink of course!). She loves it.

 She's been making cute faces and carrying her Winnie the Pooh around.

 She's been playing in the shower (one of her favorite pastimes).

She's been looking DANG CUTE in this coat I bought her that was a sale on a sale at Baby Gap. Best purchase I ever made.

 How can you resist that bald head?!

She's been keeping it real as a strawberry for Halloween. Of course without the hat. She's so over having things on her head.

So there you have it! That's what Cheyenne's been up to, since you've all been wondering.

And I've just learned how to use Photobucket and their collages, if you haven't noticed. I'm never going back.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Meaningful Life: On Marriage

Something that I think makes life meaningful is having a good marriage. I thought marriage was good when it was just the two of us, how could it get any better than that? Then when I saw Ben as a father, my love for him took on a new and different dimension that I can't even describe. But being married for only two years, we are obviously not experts on what makes a good marriage. That being said, I am always looking for ways to make our marriage better, and more meaningful. I have really loved a handout our bishop gave us when we moved in, something he gives all the new move-ins that is a compilation of church teachings. I have poured over it since the day he gave it to us, reading it and re-reading it. I'm praying that by reading it over and over again the ideas will get stuck in my head and I will do all these things. It's by no means all-inclusive, but I love how it's simple and outlined, like a checklist. I hope that in posting this, even if this is not what our life looks like all the time, our kids will know that this was the idea we were going for.

1. Center the Marriage on the Gospel of Jesus Christ
        a. Worship regularly in the holy temple
        b. Kneel in couple prayer morning and night
        c. Attend church together
        d. Study the gospel together daily
        e. Exercise personal moral fidelity both mentally and physically
        f. Share testimony openly
2. Take Time for Each Other
        a. Go out on weekly dates
        b. "First Four"-- ensure that the first four minutes together after being apart are focused on assessing one another's well being, expressing love, and reviewing plans for going forward
        c. Occasionally have lunch together or something similar
        d. Hold weekly planning meetings
        e. End the day together
3. Have Fun Together
        a. Set regular time aside just for having fun-- get it in the schedule
        b. Don't try to solve marriage or other family problems during fun time
        c. Consider getting away from the day-to-day environment of home, work, and/or church
        d. Remember to recreate is to re-create-- recreate your marriage regularly
4. Talk Frequently and Positively
        a. Ask open-ended questions, then listen
        b. Compliment your spouse at least five times as often as you suggest change
        c. Joke more, but be careful not to offend
        d. Accept spouse's opinion when it is different than yours
        e. Reminisce
5. Perform Acts of Kindness
        a. Serve the Lord
        b. Ensure the happiness of your spouse
        c. Ask your spouse what he/she would like you to do more often to show your care and concern
        d. Give your spouse "wings to fly"-- help your spouse give expression to his/her talents and interests

Some of these we are better at doing than others, but I have a testimony that because of sacred covenants we made in the temple, God will help us make our marriage everlasting.

I love you Ben.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Meaningful Life: Good Food

Growing up, dinner was an event at my house. We had a sit-down, dishes, everybody-around-the-table type dinner pretty much every night.

Now that I have my own family, I am the Mom, the person who has the most influence on dinner at our house. I looove my mom's cooking (who doesn't?) and have even perfected some of her dishes (I think). But after a while I got a little sick of eating the same things that I had already eaten for 20 years (no offense Mom), so I started collecting recipes. Now I have a small repertoire of recipes my family loves, and continue collecting them everyday.

One thing that I think makes life meaningful is coming home to GOOD food, and a variety of good food. I think one of the reasons we have so much variety in what we eat is because I've never been one of those people that can eat a pb&j everyday for lunch, or have tortilla soup every single day for a week for dinner (Sarah!). So when I find something I like, I actually try and make it LESS often so I will actually like it the next time I make it (strange, I know). So I don't know if my kids will ever be able to call something "my mom's lasagna" since my recipes are ever-changing and rotating.

I'm still young and definitely not perfect at the make-dinner-every-night routine yet, and we hit up Wendy's or eat a $5 pizza more that I'd like to admit, but I have seen some definite benefits to cooking good food.

1. I really look forward to planning and making dinner. Lots of times I get to try something new, and I get a lot of satisfaction when the meal tastes delicious.
2. Ben looks forward to dinner and home cooked meals. At the end of a long hard day at work, he is really grateful for something warm and delicious that didn't come from a drive-thru.
3. It improves our marriage. I live for Ben's compliments for my dinners. When I can tell it's a sincere compliment, I try again and again to get that same satisfied sigh from my husband after dinner.
4. It can help you lose weight. I've found in our house, that when dinner is appetizing and delicious, both Ben & I are less likely to snack after dinner and remain full.
5. It saves you money. Menu planning saves money, getting rid of the after dinner (& before dinner) snack, and sending leftovers for lunch (eliminates buying lunchmeat, sandwich bread, baggies, etc.). Granted, eating burritos and cold cereal is a lot cheaper, but with none of the added benefits listed above.

Here is what my upcoming few weeks looks like:

Sweet & Sour Meatballs from here, French Onion Soup from here, Chicken Parmesan from here, Beef Pepperoncini Sandwiches from here, Coconut Chicken with Apricot Sauce from here, Butternut Squash Lasagna from here, Asian Chicken Breasts from here. The rest are stock photos of family recipes or other random recipes that aren't conveniently online.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Best Friend

A few weeks ago my best friend from Horseshoe Bend High School got married.

Amanda is one in a million, and you never forget somebody like her.

I was the new girl in high school, and she went out of her way to welcome me and be my friend. Especially in high school, that is a big deal and it meant a lot to me.

On our sports teams I was REALLY bad, and Amanda was a superstar. She took me under her wing and would practice with me everyday. She was always my partner, even though our skill levels were miles apart.

Amanda wasn't just nice to me, but to everyone. Everyone knew and loved her in our small town because of  what a good person she was.

I remember that a few times I was mean to Amanda, would leave her out or some other dumb thing, but no matter what happened she was still my friend. Now that is a good friend.

All through college she was the one that kept in touch with me, calling me and checking up on me and seeing if I was married yet.

So this past weekend I was so happy to "give Amanda away" to one who seemed deserving. Tears came to my eyes as I thought about how kind, helpful, and thoughtful she had been to me. And tears came to my eyes as I realized that she now had a companion who saw all of these good traits in her. She now had someone who gets her humor, thinks she is beautiful, and appreciates her strengths. I was so happy to see the groom, Justin, looking at her like he was the luckiest guy in the world. Because he is.

Cheyenne with her grandpa while visiting in Horseshoe Bend for Amanda's wedding.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Birthday Boy

On Friday was Ben's birthday. Ben is not very particular in most areas of his life, even his birthday. It's usually with much arm-twisting if I get any preferences out of him.
"What kind of cake do you want?"
"What do you want to have for dinner?"
"Whatever you're making."
"What do you want for a birthday gift?"
And it's not like he's trying to be noble, like I sometimes try to be when I want to emulate him. He actually really doesn't have a preference, and really would not be bummed if he didn't get anything for his birthday. So when I prodded him for a while about a birthday cake and got a response, I jumped on it. He wanted an ice cream cake, yellow cake with chocolate ice cream. Huh? Kind of random if you ask me. Anyway, no ice cream place makes that combination, and I couldn't find a single recipe with those two ingredients. Then, I found these:

Obviously this still isn't the right combination, but they look totally awesome, don't they?
Of course I wasn't going to pay $8 for these puppies when I could make them myself. They are so simple.
A small layer of cake
Chocolate sauce
Big old scoop of ice cream
Frosting + Sprinkles

For Ben's birthday dinner, we went to Tucano's. For a meat lover, you can't get better than all-you-can eat meat.

Here's a meat-eater in training

Fully-trained meat eater.

 Two peas in a pod
 Can you resist those dimples? She has started smiling when I bring out my camera, it's so cute!

For Ben's birthday he got a new heater for our house (not by choice...). This is his little helper who thinks screwdrivers are toys.

I'm losing my baby and gaining a toddler! She looks so grown up in the picture. She's only 10.5 months.

Happy Birthday to my favorite 29 year old!! I'm so lucky to have him as my companion.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

She's Crafty

I made a wreath. I feel so crafty.

Really what happened was, we live in the basement and sometimes it feels like a dungeon. So I was racking my brain for ideas to make it more appealing. A wreath, of course, is the answer. But when I went wreath-shopping, the majority of them were hideous or $40. So I got myself some crafty stuff and made one.

It probably cost me $26 and less than an hour of my time while Ben was listening to the BYU game. And I really enjoyed doing it, I found out. Cheyenne had fun climbing our basement stairs while I was putting it up.