Saturday, December 29, 2012


oh, resolutions.

i take them very seriously.  And subconsciously, whether I want to or intend to or not, they start simmering in the back of my brain around Thanksgiving time.  I'm not one to half-heartedly throw something on this list--I'm very intentional about it.  Nothing too unrealistic, but I want to dream big and stretch myself.

I think I want to make a To Read list.  so far, I have
  • Dinner: A love story
  • Flight behavior
  • Galileo's daughter
  • These is my words
  • Happier at Home
  • The Lemon Tree
  • What Kind of Nation?
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower
a biking goal.  Mileage?  a race completion?
a To Hike list?
definitely a bookmaking goal
change some habits--like bringing my reusable bags to the grocery store, like cleaning up before, during and after the process of cooking a meal, like getting ready before 11 a.m. everyday
compile a family history binder
start listening to music again.  and playing it.
make this rug.  anyone want to do it with me??
knit an infinity scarf

Then other sources start adding their ideas:

should I try a 365 project?  365 handmade books?  365 entries in a gratitude journal?  365 new recipes? 365 blog posts?(yikes, I wouldn't want to overwhelm you)

should I pick One Little Word?

Then I feel a little bit of guilt and start thinking about some goals I should add.
like scripture study, temple attendance, keeping my house clean (and more organized), service projects, waste less time on the internet, eat more vegetables.

Also, the funeral I attended this week for Tanner's grandmother got me thinking about how no one was listing off all of the amazing things that this woman had done, they were talking all about of the amazing things that she was.  Maybe I should focus my goals on to be items instead of to do items.  Positivity, humility, patience anyone?

Why do I over think this so much?  I think it's because a) i like to make goals and resolutions, and b) I really don't want to be one of those people that quickly abandon or forget about their resolutions, and/or  look back on them come next December and feel like a failure because they didn't accomplish anything they set out to.  I think for me, it's not exactly about having a checklist of goals, but more about taking a look at how I'm living, what I'm spending my time on, and deciding what looks good and what I want to be different.  Looking back on this last year, I realized I spent a lot of time on things that were new to me:  raising a child, knitting, biking, blogging, bookbinding.  I like that.  This year though, I think I'll try and improve on some of those things instead of embarking on a new handful of hobbies.

What are your resolutions this year? Do you actually complete yours or have you completely forgotten them by Valentines day?  Has setting a resolution ever pushed you to really accomplish something that mattered to you?  Have anything I need to add to my reading list?  Have you ever set a goal with someone?  I think that might be fun.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Behold, the face of pure happiness


That's right, my child is pretty much excited out of her mind about 2 things:  waking up to ridiculous amounts of snow, and the infant hiking pack that my parents got us for Christmas.  So, I think I've effectively brainwashed her on at least the most important things.  I felt more than a little bit ridiculous this morning walking around the neighborhood with this thing on my back, but. . . not ridiculous enough to stop me.  Because, hello, there were six fresh inches of snow, there was no way I wasn't going to go out in it, and there was also no way I  wanted to push the stroller through it.  Make that our backup, hand me down from a friend jogging stroller, as our regular stroller is currently Out of Order thanks to the stairway of death (pictured below) that Tanner slipped down the other day (the whole thing, top to bottom), because it was covered in 2 solid inches of ice, stoller in hand, leaving me nearly widowed and our stroller missing a limb (aka wheel, snapped clean off).

Anyways, we are all thrilled about the hiking backpack, including and especially Camryn.  If there are any Provo moms out there fortunate enough to have one too, I am your woman if you need a hiking buddy to spend the summer with.

Poor Buddy. . . we probably should have gotten him a cover for Christmas. . .

The Staircase of Death:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Grateful for my Laundry

I have a confession.  Sometimes being a stay at home mom is really really really really boring.


Other time it's wildly exciting.  oh, wait actually not.  It's a lot of really good things, but never wildly exciting.  And off the top of my head, the only circumstance I can think of during which it would be wildly exciting involves me rushing a bleeding someone to the emergency room, and that's the bad kind of exciting, not the good kind so. . .


I'm really bored.

And I'm really not used to being bored.  And there are a lot of worse things to have to get used to in this world I'm sure, but it does take some getting used to.  Sometimes I get down on myself for being bad at getting used to it, but having a husband on Christmas break has made me realize that lack of deadlines or someone holding you accountable for using your time productively gives man (and woman) a natural tendency to do absolutely nothing at all.  And when my husband rolls out of bed at 10 and then sits down to be entertained by buzzfeed for 2 hours and says "I don't know how you do your job, if it were my job none of it would get done" I believe him.  Because, bless his heart, it is one million percent true.  And then I don't feel so bad for not using all of my time 100% productively, you know? (p.s.  don't judge my husband.  He needs and deserves a little R & R.)

Anyways, today I kind of mentally berated myself for hating that I'm bored, and told myself I should be grateful for it.  You know, like that cheesy poem thing that I don't like very much about being grateful for your laundry because it means you have clothes to wear.  I am grateful that I have the choice and opportunity to stay home and take care of Camryn and have the luxury of extra time to fill how I please.

And so now I'm going to decide to be grateful (and not sarcastic at all)

  • That my husband is gone every single blasted night,  because it means he has a job.

  • For the dentist who told me this morning I need a crown on one of my teeth that will cost me $500,  because it means I have access to dental care, and dental insurance.  (p.s. unsolicited advice to any and all pregnant women:  get your twice yearly cleanings!!!)

  • For the letter that arrived last week from the anesthesiologist informing me that I owe them hundreds of dollars because my insurance overpaid and then discovered their error---because it means I got to have an epidural.  And I have health insurance.  (p.s. I have huge respect for insurance companies and their always accurate calculations.  I think they're all geniuses and I'm astounded that an error has occurred here.   Remember this?  oh, the irony)

  • That I get to scrub poop out of the tub every.  blasted.  day.  because. . . it means my daughter has a functioning and remarkably efficient digestive system.
And. . . I think that's all the gratitude I can muster for one night.  
Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

7 quick takes

1)  I officially have a scoots-on-her-butt baby (as opposed to those of the crawling variety).  It's pretty cute.  I was also a scooter baby, who knew that kind of thing got passed on?

2)  The other day my little brother watched Camryn for an hour while I went to Zumba.  When I got back, she was in her high chair barbarically shoveling graham crackers into her mouth.  Ryan looked on in horror and asked me  "so, am I supposed to somehow slow her down?  Is it ok for her to eat them that fast?"

3)  After about 8 straight baths that involved poop in the tub,  we finally graduated to poop on an every-other-bath basis.  The ones that don't involve poop are usually the ones I cut short to less than 2 minutes. . . but I'm still going to call that progress.

4)  Sometimes I'm afraid that things that I love are going to go out of style.  I'm usually pretty sloooow on the uptake with new trends (especially technological) so now that I like blogging,  (oh, I don't know, 7, 8? years after everyone else jumped on that wagon), I'm kind of afraid it's going to disappear before I get my fill.  Is that illogical?   Same with bookbinding (please let this not be a dying art).  Same with books, period.  What if the printed word disappears from our culture entirely, replaced by paperless digital everything!??!?!  With knitting, I feel like by the time I work up the skills to actually knit myself something I would wear, infinity scarves and the general "knitting is trendy" thing are going to be long gone.   Also, yoga.  What if by the time I can afford a legit yoga retreat, people don't do yoga anymore?  I know some of these are silly but. . . well, no but.  they are silly.

5)  Remember how I thought maybe my neighbors did heroine?  Well . . . let's just say I've seen the cops here at least once a week since they moved in and I feel a little bit like I live in the ghetto.

6)  Last night I was helping wrap some gifts that our church is giving away for Sub 4 Santa and I decided kids are going to be one billion times more fun to shop for than adults are!

7)  I'm kind of in an awkward position for Christmas break.  Tanner works here in Provo almost every single night, but my family will all be in Farmington an hour away, hanging out and doing fun Christmas things.  So,  if I go stay in Farmington, Tanner will be alone all during the days, but if I stay in Provo, I will be alone all during the evening/nights.  And a 2 hour roundtrip drive is long enough to stop us from doing too many back and forths.  What to do?

Then again. . . I just expressed this conundrum to Tanner and told him a few of the days I'm thinking of spending at my parents house and he got a big grin on his face that means he'll be hiking/snowshoeing some mountains those days.  So maybe our separation is only wrenching on one side of this relationship.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

This morning I was feeling reeeeeeally lazy.  Kind of like I don't think I'll leave the house or change out of my sweats today lazy.  I've been really tired lately in the mornings because I'll stay up really late waiting for Tanner (I hate finals week) or just for the sake of putting off having to go to bed alone.  I really hate going to bed alone.

So I was tired and lazy and outside is a lovely blend of overcast, freezing, gray and stormy and I don't really have anything to do today and I got to thinking that this bout of optimism was probably all wrong and winter really might just be the death of me this time around.   And Camryn was getting fussy long before nap time and. . . I'm really proud of how I dealt with these things.

I went outside on a run.  It took everything in me to throw on no less than 3 jackets, dig my running shoes out of the corner they've been hiding in since my last workout 2 weeks ago (my BYU class pass ended Dec. 1 and I've barely moved a muscle since), bundle up Camryn, drag the freaking jogger stroller down the stairs (see, it's a whole production) and just go, but I'm so glad I did.  I fully intended to go just around a block or two and call it good (it's getting out there that counts right?)  but I actually felt really good and went an astonishing 1.89 miles and kind of feel like I deserve a round of applause.  And now I feel 1,000 times better about everything and I'm thinking my rules/coping mechanisms are really good ones.   

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

O Holy Shirt

Tanner has about 6 T-shirts that he wears over and over. and over. and over. and over.

They are all white T-shirts with designs and conveniently enough for him, I do a load of whites about once a week, requiring him never to venture outside of these 6 shirts in the wardrobe category.

And as poor as we are, this problem isn't about a poor college couple who can't afford more shirts so they have to wear the same 6 ones over and over!  Tanner just loooooves these shirts and doesn't want to wear anything else apparently (remember these??)  .  But fortunately, they are really great, quality good looking shirts.  Oh wait, actually, not.  They are the absolute worst shirts he owns.  Holes, yes.  Stains, yes.  Since some of you have not the pleasure of seeing him on a daily basis, I'll just let you know that the lineup includes, among others, The technicolored I HEART S.F. shirt.  (nope, he's not gay), The BEACH BUM shirt from Oceanside,  a BYU one he caught at a sporting event, and a couple that he's been wearing on a weekly basis since long before we were married.  Like 8 years before.

And last week as I dutifully and lovingly folded up every last one of the above mentioned shirts and rolled open his drawer to place them next to the nice big fat stack of good looking quality shirts that he never wears (despite hints, begging and pleading from his wife), I decided to take matters into my own hands.  

I hid the white shirts.  Every last one of them.  In a hiding place that I will not tell you because Tanner finding them is just something I don't want to happen.

And oh man,  my man is lookin GOOD these days :)

We discussed some possible ransom compromises where I give one back once a week or so (his idea).  Or once he's worn every single other shirt he owns at least once (my idea), but I'm really not sure if I will ever be able to surrender them.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Christmas-y Question

I was thinking yesterday about teaching your kids about Christ during Christmas time, and about teaching your kids about Jesus in general, and I ran into a problem.  How is your kid supposed to understand the difference between Santa and Jesus?  When you're reading them The Night Before Christmas and the Christmas story out of Luke, coloring pictures of a baby in a manger and making construction paper santas with cotton ball beards, visiting the temple grounds with the nativity statues as well as the mall Santa.  How are they supposed to understand that Christ is a real, important, actual being and that Santa is just a fun, made-up character?

This problem of kids not being able to differentiate between real and not recently came to my attention when one of my friends who is a first grade teacher told me this hilarious story:  In class they were learning about "national symbols"  like the president, the flag, the white house, etc.  She brought in some pictures of her trip to Washington, D.C. and showed her first graders a picture of herself in front of the White House.  A wide eyed boy with many a wheel turning in his little brain asked "Wait--you mean Obama is real??"

Funny, yes, but when you think about it, honestly, how was he supposed to know?  At some point in their elementary school years, the realization dawns (or in more dramatic and upsetting cases, someone drops the bomb) that Santa Claus isn't real.  Mom hides the easter eggs.  There are not leprechauns at the end of the rainbow.  But,when this happens,  they must realize that there are many fictional characters.  We tell them lots of stories! Especially if we are trying to teach them the gospel.  Do their little 6 year old minds just start to take inventory and conclude that the entire roll call of characters parading through their life are all fictional?  Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, fairies, Cinderella, Snow White, the Little mermaid, Elmo, Hobbits, Batman, the Hulk, Spiderman, Harry Potter, Obama . . . Jesus, Noah, Moses, Adam & Eve, Nephi.  In some cases I think we could reasonably expect them to understand--big bird is a giant talking bird, and since you don't typically see giant talking birds, that one is probably not real.  No one they know can shoot webs from their hands, so ya, Spiderman, probably not either.  But most of the biblical stories we tell are pretty fantastical.  I can just as easily see a young person reasoning--ok, it's impossible to part the sea, and there's no way you could fit two of every single animal on a boat--so those are probably just stories.  The Bible is akin to my Grimm's fairytale collection.

Walking on water?  Feeding 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread?  Raising people from the dead?  Healing the blind?  Sounds like a superhero.

The solution that I very temporarily came to was to clearly explain to your children from an early age what is real and what is not.  Tell them which stories are just stories and which ones are not.  But then I decided that sounds an awful lot like destroying the sense of wonder, belief, and imagination that characterizes childhood and makes it so perfectly magical.  I want my kids to believe in magic!  I want them to look for fairies whenever they're in a forest, and fervently wish while reading Harry Potter that someday they'll receive their own invitation to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

But I also want them to understand very clearly and without a doubt that every word that comes out of my mouth about Jesus Christ is important, true, and something they need to believe in and count on for the rest of their lives, long after the day they reach the disappointing realization about Santa Claus.

Maybe this really isn't even an issue?  Maybe little minds deserve more credit than I'm giving them and somehow, some way, these things just work themselves out in there.  But part of that is certainly asking their parents a lot of questions right?  How do you answer when they ask "are fairies real?"  Does it depend on their age?  If you answer "yes they are" will they not trust you anymore when they learn the truth?  I know parents that refuse to tell their kids about Santa because they want their kids to always know they've never lied to them.  I always thought "eh, fine, by all means make your own parenting decisions, but I don't really think my kid is going to have huge trust issues just because I played along with Santa, right?"  But now, that's making a little bit of sense.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

in which i'm kind of cynical and mean about some christmas things

What's with advent calendars?  What even is an advent calendar?  I don't think I've ever even heard of such a thing until amazingly creative ways to fill them started popping up all over my blogosphere/pinterest.  And for some reason I think I don't like them.  Because (sorry all you advent calendar lovers, you should probably just not read the rest of this) it just seems like a really pointless thing that mostly is one more christmas to do list item that would serve to stress out the lady of the house more than contribute to peaceful lovely holiday feelings.  ya know?

I really do actually want to understand though.  I've been doing research and it seems some of them are full of treats for the kids and it's fun for them to get a treat every day?  So how is that different from the little tin full of ribbon candy my mom kept above the fridge every christmas season and let us pick one every day?  Is it like an anticipatory thing--it's exciting to see a visual that you're getting closer and closer every day?  So how is that different from the construction paper red and green chain links that count down the days?  An advent calendar just seems like big felty tacky overload.  Like those people with the giant blow up santas in their yard that make you go "really??  is that necessary?" (note* Maybe they only used to be tacky and felty?  Pinterest there are all sorts of new alternative felt free options)

Others seem to want to make the whole tradition more complicated and fill each pocket with a variety of gifts, crafts to do with the kids, and so forth, but holy cow--25 of them?  that's a lot of pockets to fill before you even hit the big day.  I think I don't want an advent calendar.  Sorry if you're into that sort of thing and they hold all kinds of sentimental value for you.  Pretend I didn't say anything.

Maybe I just see a lot of expectation and stress put on women this time of year and I don't really think it's fair.  Like it's the woman's job to fill the advent calendar, make the lists, buy the gifts, wrap the gifts, plan the party, cook the ham, frost the cookies, mail the cards, stuff the stockings. . . and, what, collapse into an exhausted heap after having thoroughly enjoyed her holly jolly christmas?

I think I'm so dead set on that not being what my holiday turns into as an adult woman that I've kind of gone too far the other way.  Like,  instead I'm just not going to do any of those things.  But some of those things are actually fun, right?  Most of those things are actually fun!

Guys, I think I'm turning into a Grinch.

I'm supposed to decorate for this, right?  Like I'm in charge of a household now and for some bizarro reason it's the lady of the houses responsibility to decorate the house for occasions such as Christmas.  I kind of don't feel like it though.  I totally understand division of male and female roles, but how did this one happen?  How many men are there in your life that set out the nativity and bowls of ornaments, wrap the pine bough things around the banisters, and put wreaths on the doors?  And has a wife completely uninvolved in the whole operation who walks in, looks around and says "good work honey, it looks nice"  ??  right.

I don't have a Christmas tree up yet (which stresses me out not one tiny bit), and it took until, oh, about last year to realize that some people really do actually set up their tree the day after Thanksgiving.  The Bramhalls didn't . . . . really do that.  Not ever.  Not even kind of close.  One year we took the tree down on Valentines Day if that tells you anything about how long it took us to put it up.  Taking the tree down on the 26th just seems so wrong--like you've just been dying from Christmas to be over already and now you can finally get that monstrosity of holiday cheer out of your living room.  What's wrong with letting it stay a while?

I've been in college mode for the past 6 years where there isn't a single brain cell to spare for gearing up for the holiday until after finals week.  You know, around the late teens of the month.  That sounds about right to me.  Getting ready for Christmas starting around the 17th.  I'm probably being a jerk.  Some of you have more children than I do and maybe even children with children so you are kind of responsible for the fulfillment of a lot of little hopeful hearts.  But the point is, I feel like I'm kind of sitting around not getting ready for Christmas wondering why all of you are so uppidty about it already.  Don't you know we still have 20 days?  Doesn't your advent calendar tell you that?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Cornflake Chicken and other recipes

I'm linking up with Merrick again today sharing a quick, easy dinner.  So, what's the quickest, easiest thing I make for dinner that still passes as "real food"?  First, I thought of Monte Cristo sandwhiches, but then Janssen said "that doesn't include two cups of sugar" and really, those sandwhiches taste best smothered in jam, syrup, and powdered sugar so. . .

Cornflake Chicken

Take some chicken breasts or tenders, dip them in melted butter or margarine, and then dip in a bowl of crushed cornflakes, pressing the cornflakes onto the chicken to help them stick. Place on a cookie sheet with foil, drizzle any remaining butter over the top, and bake at 350 degrees until the chicken is cooked through (the time it takes will depend on how much chicken you're making, roughly 15-20 minutes?)

That's it!  There are plenty of ways you could fancy it up if you wanted, but that's all I do and it really is the easiest, most delicious dinner I know.  Serve it with rice or potatoes and a vegetable.  It's also great with ranch dressing.  I don't have any pictures so you'll have to use your imagination.

And since mentioned it, I want to share this quick and easy recipe too.  It's one my mom used to make, and I wouldn't ever eat it as a kid because I thought I didn't like it, but I don't think I ever really gave it a try until well into college.  Now it's one of my favorites!  And my husband's, too.  I like that it's really different than most of the dinners I make so I go to this if I'm sick of the same old same old recipes I always cook.  It also works as a breakfast. 

Monte Cristo Sandwiches

12 slices white bread with crusts removed
6 slices ham
6 slices turkey
12 slices swiss cheese
1 cup pancake mix
1 cup milk
2 eggs
Raspberry jam
Powdered sugar

Preheat griddle to 350 degrees.  Make sandwiches with mayo, swiss cheese, and meats.  Mix eggs, milk, and pancake mix.   Cut sandwiches diagonally in half.  Dip sandwiches in mix and grill on all sides, including edges.  Top with jelly and powdered sugar.  (I also top with maple syrup.)

And. . . .

my latest pinterest finds:

Double Crunch Honey Garlic Pork Chops  also in chicken breast form here.  This one is completely amazing--really flavorful with awesome crunch.  However, the recipe calls for more than twice as much of everything than you actually need for the amount of meat it calls for.  Last time I made it I cut the breading, egg wash, and honey garlic sauce in half and it was still too much--be warned.   

Wisconsin Cauliflower Soup   I get this soup at Zupas every single time I go (I don't know what any of their other soups taste like because I always have to get this one).  So when I saw this on pinterest claiming to was just like Zupas I was really excited but prepared to be disappointed--but I wasn't.  It was awesome

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Look what I made!

This is the notebook I made at my bookbinding class on Friday and I love it a lot.  (it's actually not quite finished, I still have some pages to add, hence the loose thread and needle).  The class was teaching the Secret Belgium Binding and it's pretty fancy and cool looking if you ask me.    

 Isn't the cover beautiful?  It's italian woodblock printed.

 I decided to post some pictures since I get the feeling some people have no idea what I'm talking about when I say bookbinding.  Book binding is a craft and art form that you can take in a million different directions, but these ones I've been making are basically blank notebook/journal/sketchbooks.  I realize my photography leaves much to be desired, but this is just to give you an idea what I've been working on.  All of these are sewn with the Coptic Stitch that I learned at my last class.

I've been slowly slowly collecting a decorative paper stash

I wish I had a couple more pictures of the process, but this is kinda what it looks like

If anyone is interested in learning, I've been taking classes from a woman named Karleigh Jae.   She lives in Ephraim, Ut and her blog is here:  She posts when she has classes or workshops coming up.  

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