Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Letter to Becca: Nine Months

Dear Becca,

Today, you are just days away from turning 10 months old--you just fell asleep nursing, and you need a nap more than I need to lay you down, so here we sit snuggling. Not much has changed in the sleep department--you'll occasionally sleep on your own, but you really sleep best when you're being held.
Over the past month, you have really developed a sense of humor. You love to play peek-a-boo, and will just laugh and laugh hysterically. Whenever you overhear anyone laughing, you immediately join in with this completely over-the-top fake laugh. I love it.
This month, you have also really enjoyed "giving loves" (which you do super aggressively), playing with your sister, and eating. A few days ago, we went to Roadhouse, and you ate three rolls, an order of grilled chicken, applesauce, and half of my sweet potato. You eat more than Lizzy does, no question! I imagine that it must be because you literally never stop moving. When you're awake, you're walking around the house. When you're nursing, you're wiggling and turning yourself upside down. When you're sleeping, you're rolling all over your crib!
You can say a few words already:
-Uh oh!
-Kit-cat (which you also call dogs)
-Bo (Bones, our cat)
-Awwwww (which you say when you're giving loves)
And you have four teeth, with two more on the way. We're taking bets about whether those top two teeth will come in, or whether we'll have no choice but to let you dress up like a vampire for Halloween!

We love you sweet girl, and always will!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

100 Questions. Two Minutes. Welcome to Three.

Everybody talks about the "terrible twos", but man...two has NOTHING on three. Not because three year olds are terribly bad (though sometimes they can be), but because three year olds don't stop talking. Like ever. This morning, Lizzy literally asked me 100 questions in a two minute span of time that I was sitting on the couch and nursing Becca. Actually, it was more like 300 questions in five minutes, but who has time to write down 300 questions?! 

Here's a two-minute glimpse into the life of a three year old:

1. Can I climb up the side fridge to get a yogurt?

2. Can I have breakfast yet?

3. Why can't I climb on these plastic boxes?

4. What if my teacher says it's okay to climb on these plastic boxes? You said that it's important to be a good listener.

5. Can I have breakfast yet?

6. Can I have a puppy?

7. Why don't puppies pee on the toilet? I absolutely want to potty train a puppy.

8. Can I have breakfast yet?

9. Can we go to Dairy Queen?

10. What if I am really hungry?

11. What if you are really hungry?

12. What if Aunt Courtney comes over and she is really hungry?

13. Why does my dad have nipples?

14. Would you love to get my breakfast right now?

15. Why doesn't your head reach the ceiling?

16. Does dad have a baseball game tonight?

17. Why does his team wear green?

18. Can today be a special day?

19. Can I watch Christmas Wiggles?

20. Can I watch Pocahontas?

21. Can I watch Handy Manny?

22. Can I watch My Little Pony?

23. Can I have breakfast yet?

24. Can trees talk?

25. Then why does the Grandma tree on Pocahontas talk?

26. Can I marry my cousin Logan?

27. Can I marry my cousin Logan when I'm 21?

28. Today are we going to church?

29. Where are we going today?

30. Do I have swim lessons today?

31. Can I PLEASE have a blueberry yogurt?

32. Why do I have boogers?

33. Will my bottom get bigger like yours?

34. Can I ask for a scooter for my birthday?

35. Can I ask for a puppy for my birthday?

36. How many days are there until my birthday?


38. Why don't you like oven pancakes?

39. Am I allergic to eggs?

40. Am I allergic to alligators?

41. Can I squirt water out of the fridge?

42. What if it's really hot out?

43. What if I clean it up?

44. What if it's an accident?

45. What if Leah {her imaginary friend} does it?

46. How old do I have to be to drink beard {beer}?

47. Can I eat dandelions?

48. Then why did Grandma Joyce say her dad made dandelion wine?

49. Why do children get energy when they are sleeping?

50. Would you really really love to get some breakfast for me?!

51. Why does Becca drink milk from your nipple and I drink milk from the fridge?

52. Why does my nose snort?

53. When can I wear my just-for-school shoes?

54. Is today a school day?

55. How many days until it is a school day?

56. Do I get to eat something at school?

57. Can Becca be three on her next birthday?

58. Why does Becca poop in her diaper?

59. Is she poopy now?

60. When will she be poopy again?

61. Can I have some frozen blueberries?

62. When are we going to buy a new car?

63. Can I ride bikes right now?

64. What if I put on shoes?

65. What if I put on a coat?

66. Can I have some exercise shorts that have underwear inside them?

67. Are we going to exercise today?


69. Can we go to Target?

70. Can we go to Wal-Mart?

71. Can we go to Taco Bell?

72. Can we go to the zoo? {We don't have a zoo}

73.  Did Aunt Karla's puppies open their eyes yet?

74. WHEN am I going to have breakfast?

75. Can I have some coffee today?

76. When can I drink coffee?

77. When can Becca drink coffee?

78. Are Daddy's Normans coming over today? {Recently, some Mormon Missionaries have been coming over and talking with Justin}

79. How old do you have to be to drive a car?

80. How old do you have to be to wear make-up?

81. How old do you have to be to like naps?

82. Do I have to take a nap today?

83. AFTER my nap, can we go to the Wal-Mart with a little potty?

84. Can we climb Table Rock?

85. Can I spend the night at grandma and grandpa's house?

86. Can I spend the night at my cousins' house?

87. Can everyone we know spend the night at our house?

88. Can we adopt my friend Shila-Lucy? She doesn't have a family to take care of her.

89. Can we adopt a puppy who needs a family to take care of her?

90. Can I have sprinkles for breakfast?

91. Can we go to Oh Maybe {Old Navy} and get a balloon?

92. Where is heaven?

93. You are really old and have a big bottom. How old are you?

94. Can I toot on you?

95. Can I toot on your foot?

96. Can I toot on Becca's foot?

97. Can I have some breakfast yet?

98.  Can I have popcorn for breakfast?

99. Would you please call me Elizabeth instead of Lizzy?

100. Why do people wear underwear?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

15 Minute Peach Freezer Jam

Millions of peaches, peaches for me. Millions of peaches, peaches for free.

Well, almost free.

See, there's a local orchard nearby that does you-pick peaches for 60 cents per pound. I don't know about where you all are, but peaches in the supermarket are currently about double that (sometimes even triple that). So, on Monday after work we set out to pick peaches. And like last year, we had quickly picked WAY more than we needed. You would not *believe* how quickly three people can pick 80-100 pounds of peaches. But then, of course, you have to figure out what to DO with all the peaches...

Freezer Jam

One of my favorite things to do when we have an abundance of fruit is to make freezer jam. I love freezer jam for several reasons:

1- It's so easy that Lizzy can do almost the whole process by herself.
2- Freezer Jam takes less sugar than traditional canned jam.
3- Freezer Jam also retains more of the flavor of the fruit compared to canned jam.
4- There's nothing like the taste of fresh peaches in the middle of the winter.
5- It's fail proof. Even if your jam doesn't set, it makes a killer ice cream topping.

I know that making jam can be intimidating--I didn't do it for YEARS. And then when I finally tried, I was kicking myself for not doing it sooner. So please, if you've been wanting to give it a try, DO IT.

Here's what you need:
Peach 1
5 cups diced peaches (I used six peaches total)
3 Tbsp lemon juice
6 Tbsp Ball Real Fruit Instant Pectin
 2 cups sugar
and six 8oz freezer safe jars.

First, wash, peel, and pit your peaches. Then, dice into small chunks. 
Peach 2
You'll need five cups of diced peaches, which for me worked out to using six peaches, but obviously this will vary based on the size of your peaches. Once you have five cups, dump them into a large bowl.  Add the sugar and lemon juice.
Peach 3
Stir to combine. Then let this mixture sit for 10 minutes.
Peach 4

Peach 5
The peaches will tend to break down a bit as they're sitting in the sugar and lemon juice, but if after the 10 minutes you still prefer a smoother consistency to your jam, use a fork or potato masher to smush things up a bit. Do NOT use an immersion blender or food processor because they break down the natural pectin in fruit and make your jam less likely to set. Peach 6
Then, using a wooden spoon, stir in your pectin one tablespoon at a time. 
Once all the pectin has been added, stir for three minutes. Don't cheat!
 Peach 7
Next, ladle into jars, filling only to the "fill line" to allow head space for expansion when freezing. You can actually buy a little $2 funnel in the canning aisle that makes filling the jars easier. I love mine, but it has unfortunately been commandeered by children, and I couldn't find it while I was making the jam. Oh well. Such is life!
 Peach 8
Now, you're basically done. Just set the timer for 30 minutes to allow the jam to set up. Then, put the lids on the jars. After you've tasted the jam, of course!
Peach 9

This jam keeps for about 3 weeks in the fridge and up to a year in the freezer. YOU CAN DO IT!

Now, I'm on to making peach butter in the crock pot, a peach almond pie, and peach cobbler :)

PS- Don't try to double the batch! Pectin doesn't set well in large batches, so six jars is about the maximum you'd want to make at any given time.

PPS- This post wasn't sponsored by Ball. I'm just exclusively loyal to Ball products for jam and any other kind of preserving! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

I feel like life has been a whirlwind lately. I feel like we've been going and going non-stop, but yet when people say, "Oh, what have you been up to?!"...I have no real answer. I don't know what we've been up to really, just that it's been crazy!

Justin worked out of town for almost a week, in the midst of the crazy no-one-allowed-outside smoke. Not Allowed Outside + Solo Parenting = I Almost Lost My Shit On Day 2. So, we packed up and went to visit my parents for awhile.

Thank goodness for family nearby. That week was exhausting, and not one that I hope to have to repeat any time soon!

Becca's newest two tricks are "give snuggles" and "give kisses". I don't know if you've ever experienced a baby that's just learning to snuggle and kiss, but those suckers are AGGRESSIVE. And God-forbid that you try to reciprocate and hug back. No. That's not in her plan.

In the past week, I also celebrated a birthday! I had a great evening hanging with the family and having pizza. All of us have been busy lately, and it was just such a blessing to all actually be in the same place for once! It was truly a great day. And then that night, someone tried to steal our car.

I woke up in the morning, and saw our car left down the street and in the middle of the road. I still don't know how this happened, because we were both up most of the night with Becca. But it did. This meant that what was supposed to be a relaxing Friday was suddenly filled with sherrifs and fingerprinting and trying to make lists of what all was taken...because apparently, when he realized that he couldn't turn the steering wheel without keys, he got mad and loaded himself up with stuff from our car. I don't know if you've ever played that baby shower game where they bring out a tray of stuff for you to look at, and then a bit later they bring out another tray and you have to write down what's missing...but it was like that. There are a few things that you know are gone right away, but then you continue to find new things every day that you didn't even realize were gone until you needed to use them.

Like the Ergo (which we later found dumped in a field near our house). Or a cell-phone charger. Or a set of keys that the guy probably thought were house keys but weren't and will be of no use to him. Basically, nothing particularly valuable, but all stuff that we use a lot. I feel like every day we find something else, and it makes me SO MAD all over again. But yesterday takes the cake: we got to swim lessons, and discovered that Lizzy's goggles were gone.  WHAT KIND OF JERK STEALS A THREE YEAR OLD'S SWIM GOGGLES?! I mean, really.

Sigh. I'm over it. I'm over thinking about it, but I can't STOP thinking about it, because the police also mentioned that they may have an idea of who was involved, and it's someone who recently held someone at knifepoint. Oh, and he also likes to try and break in to people's houses WHILE THEY ARE HOME. Ugh. I've been battling some serious anxiety about all this.

Which brings me to the next thing... my sister-in-law's dog just had 11 puppies. The dad is a lab, and the mom is a rottweiler (I feel like we say "rottweiler", and people instinctively wince, but she's a super sweet dog). Justin has really been wanting to get a puppy, and I've been pretty on the fence, because I feel like a puppy needs nearly the same amount of attention that a kid does, and I'm not trying to get any less sleep and/or rest than I already do. On the other hand, Justin has pretty firmly argued that the best time to get a dog would be now, so that the dog and the kids can grow up together. The car incident has me leaning a bit more towards getting the dog , but honestly, I'm still just a bit worried. I just feel really overwhelmed and unable to keep up with the basics like dishes and laundry as it is, and I worry about adding anything else to the mix.

Other than that, there's been lots of baseball/softball, and that bumps up to twice a week starting this week.
I mean, I like seeing my husband's butt in baseball pants and all...but it would be nice to see his face occasionally too ;)

There's been some bad/ugly, but there's also been a lot of good, and hopefully some memories made. And I'm so thankful. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Beauty in the Mundane- Volume 2

This week has been miserable. Southern Oregon is basically one giant forest fire--there are currently 5 major fires burning, which totals about 40,000 acres. At this point, I don't think any fire is more than 15% contained. Most of the fires are one county over, and while that county has declared a state of emergency, our house is relatively removed from the actual fires. That doesn't mean that it is removed from the smoke.
The whole valley looks like this. For real. It is awful. The smoke is so thick that the helicopters used in fighting the forest fires can't even take off. The air quality in all of the cities in Southern Oregon has been deemed as reaching dangerous and unhealthy levels. Eve driving to the grocery store yesterday was miserable, and even when we got there, the inside of the store was nearly as smokey as the outside. Even now that we've been home for almost 24 hours, it still feels like there's a thin layer of smoke even inside our house. I can't imagine what the firefighters on the front lines are dealing with. Or what people who work outside for a living are dealing with--I've been thinking about them near constantly, because while I know things are hard and uncomfortable for us, it's even worse for them. I'm so thankful for all they do. 

Needless to say, basically everyone has been home-bound. Inside. All day. Every day. No parks, no library, no trips to Target just to browse. We're all going a bit stir crazy. So yesterday, in need of something different, I made a small fort in the living room. Lizzy was thrilled.
Fort-5 Fort-4 Fort-3 Fort-1 Fort-8 Fort-9 Fort-10 Fort-11 (Poor ISO setting on that last one, but I love it all the same) Fort-12 Fort-13 Fort-14 Fort-15 Fort-16 Fort-17 Fort-18
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