Friday, October 30, 2009

Fabulous Five!

Our Ian turned five years old this week. Between being the third boy (read: always trying to keep up with his older brothers) and having a late-in-the-year birthday, by the time he has his glorious day I can't believe that he's not a year older. Hasn't he been five in my mind for ages?

Here are my favorite growing older quotes from Ian today:

"Mom, this underwear is too small for me now. 'Cuz I'm five. I think we need to sell it."


"Mom, I love you! And even when I'm a big-year-old, I'll still love you."

Ian, we love you, now, and even when you're a big-year-old. Thanks for being our fun-loving, energetic, enthusiastic little boy.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Excuses, Excuses

I have had posts aplenty stewing in my head lately, but all of them require the use of a camera--and sadly, mine has decided to be uncooperative. If I can just get Jared's camera from the office long enough to take some photos and actually upload them, I'll be back soon with musings and updates. Don't give up on me.:)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Giveaway Winner

I wish I had more of these tickets to Disney on Ice to give away, but I only get to choose one winner this time. Our winner was chosen randomly with the help of my husband-- I wrote down your names once for each entry (I came up with 30 total entries) and then randomly assigned numbers to each entry--for instance, if you left a comment and follow me on twitter, you had two entries and could have been assigned the numbers 7 and 23. Then I had my husband choose a number between 1 and 30.

And the winner is Staci from from nickandstaci! Send me an email ASAP (sleepymumATgmailDOTcom) letting me know which night you'd prefer to see the show (Thursday or Friday)-- I'll be there on Thursday with Bronwen.

And if you didn't win, remember that you can use the code MOM when you buy tickets to get 4 for $44 (with each additional ticket being $11 each). At that price, I hope you can all take your little princesses to see the show!

Thanks to Mom Central Consulting for providing the tickets.

Overheard At Our House

Ah, the 2-year-old. Is there another creature on earth more a paradox than a 2-year-old? One moment hysterically funny, the next, hysterically crying. One moment you want to give her away to a passing stranger and the next you want to hug her tight and never let go. One moment she clings to your legs or asks to be picked up, the next she is pushing you away as she decides she is "a big kid". One moment she thinks something harmless is "too carey" (scarey), the next she is cheating death.

Here are a few recent quotes from our little paradox that had us cracking up.

The scene: Bronwen is dressed like a prim little girl, wearing a pink sweater with ballet shoes on the front, a hot pink skort, tights and t-strap shoes with a big bow in her hair. She runs into the house from the backyard, where she's been playing with "her kids" (the brothers).

Me: (observing that she is determined to do SOMETHING based on her demeanor,) What are you doing, Bronwen?

Bronwen: (seriously) I NEED to find a gun, Mama!

After a few moments of tearing apart the toy closet, she emerges with a clone trooper laser gun and a big grin on her face. She runs out to join the fray in the backyard and I am left shaking my head at my little girl.

Episode II
  • 1:30 pm Daddy puts Bronwen down for a nap with hugs and kisses all around.
  • 2:00 pm Mama enters Bronwen's room to check out the "carey bug" that Bronwen insists is lurking in the corners, preventing her sleep.
  • 2:15 pm Pathetic sobbing begins from Bronwen's room--something about how she didn't kiss and hug every single member of the family befor her nap. (You know, just in case she didn't survive the experience and it was her last earthly chance to see them.)
  • 2:30 pm Pathetic sobbing ends. Bronwen begins singing all her favorite songs at the top of her lungs: "Tomorrow", "The Family is of God", the theme song from Penguins of Madagascar (there are no words to this song, but that doesn't stop her), and "I Like to Move it, Move it" (also from PoM).
  • 3:15 pm Singing ends. Bronwen begins kicking her door methodically while calling for "her boys" to get her up.
  • 3:30 pm Her frustrated mother decides to let her up from her nap and opens the door.
Bronwen: (brightly) Good morning, Mama!
Me: (wryly) Good morning, sweetie!
Bronwen: (sweetly and animatedly) That was a great nap, Mama. Thank you for putting me to a nap. It was a great nap!

Just whom is she trying to kid? I know perfectly well that she didn't sleep a wink, nor did she like most of it.

What paradoxes have you seen in your toddler?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Brownie Love

I adore brownies. Cakey, fudgy, chewy, crackly-topped, the edges, the middle, with icing, powdered sugar, or plain . . . what's not to love about a good brownie?

My favorite recipe for brownies changes every six months or so. Probably because I like all kinds. My newest favorite recipe is from Alton Brown, star of Good Eats. If you've never watched his Food Network show, you really should. We love how he uses scientific principles to explain cooking and baking, and he has many unconventional (yet brilliant) ways of doing things.

I discovered this recipe late one night when I remembered that I needed treats for Ian's soccer team the next day. My go-to brownie recipe for the past year has been Prudence Pennywise's (and it remains fabulous) but I didn't have enough baking chocolate on hand to make the ginormous pan needed--so I went to the internet in search of a good cocoa brownie recipe. These whipped up quickly, consisted of ingredients that I had on hand without planning ahead, and turned out to be so yummy I wondered if they were too good for five year old soccer players!:) Needless to say, even though I discovered this recipe just over a week ago, I've already made it twice.

You need these brownies, too. They don't take much longer to whip up than a box and are soooo much yummier--I promise.

This makes an 8x8 pan, about 16 small or 9 large brownies. Double it for a 9x13 pan or triple if you're using a jelly roll pan. These are rich and chocolatey enough to stand alone without icing.

If my camera wasn't on the fritz, I'd have an enticing picture here. Sigh.

Cocoa Brownies from Alton Brown's Good Eats
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups cocoa, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Butter and flour your pan and preheat the oven to 300 degrees (F).Use an electric mixer or stand mixer with whisk attachment to beat the eggs until they are fluffy and light yellow. Add both sugars and mix. Add remaining ingredients and mix to combine.

Pour into your prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes (you may need to adjust this depending on pan size-- but check it after 45 minutes.) When they are finished, a toothpick will come out clean.

Eat them as soon as they don't burn your tongue, or hold off till they cool. I sent some to my brother and he said they were delicious five days later--but they don't last that long at my house.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Calling All Princesses! (Giveaway)

EDITED: I need to close this giveaway earlier than planned, because the sponsor who is providing the tickets needs the winner's information earlier. I'm sorry if that messes you up, dear readers!

Bronwen and I have a girls' night out planned later this month with one of her bosom buddies. We are headed to Disney on Ice Princess Classics at Arco Arena.

I've got 4 tickets to give away to one lucky reader! The winner can choose the Thursday or Friday night show (October 29th or 30th) at 7:00 pm. The timing is perfect if your little girl is going to be a princess for Halloween--she can wear her costume to the show.

If you'd like to enter the giveaway, just leave me a comment telling me why you want to go. I'll enter you again if you tweet or blog about my giveaway (with a link to this post). My twitter handle is @relishingmother. Just be sure to include it in your tweet so that I can note it and give you another entry. You can get an additional entry if you follow me on this blog or on twitter. Leave a comment mentioning that you follow me.

This giveaway ends Wednesday, October 22nd, 2009 at 5:00 pm PDT. Winner will be announced by Thursday, October 23rd.

Those of you who aren't willing to take the risk that your little princess might miss the show, I can also offer you a discount code to get a pack of 4 tickets for $44. Just log onto and enter the code MOM at checkout. Additional tickets will be $11 each. The show runs Wednesday, October 28th- Sunday, November 1st with matinees Friday-Sunday in addition to the 7:00 pm show.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Announcing . . .

Remember my campaign back in February? 31 Dates in 31 Days-- ring any bells? (If not, you simply must go back and read all about it.)

It's funny, because since then, when I run into people that I haven't seen in a while, or meet someone new who reads my blog, they often ask, "So, what ever happened with your brother and that girl with the Dates and the blog?" My answer always goes something like, "They're still dating. No, I don't know if they'll get married, but we all love her."

Well, drumroll please . . . . .

Evan and Tamara are now engaged to be married. Hurray!!!! And yes, I am taking the credit for:

1. Helping Evan get the second date with my blog and Facebook campaign

2. Making him a favorite with Tam's friends and family before they ever met him because who doesn't love a man who: loves kids, has skills, doesn't take himself too seriously, is musical, loves animals, is easy going, and is what every girl wants. How could they resist him once I'd posted all those adorable photos of Evan?

3. Interfering as much as I could get away with and not mess it all up. I got myself a girl-crush on Tamara early on, and really, really wanted things to work out with them. And yet, Evan is a man who will not be pushed. I just had to gently nudge now and then and say my prayers.

We are so thrilled for them! Go to Tamara's blog to see a photo-article about the proposal.

And a question to my local (Sac-area) readers: would you come to a little open house if I threw one for them? I think it would be fun to let some of you voyeurs actually meet them. What do you say?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Grandma's Comfort Food

My paternal grandma, Edna Call Johnson, was a wonderful woman. The last of 10 children, she was born and raised on an Idaho farm. She told me once about how she helped her mom prepare food for the farm hands--how the table would be laden with food when they'd come in for their mid-day meal. She grew to be a great cook under her mother's tutelage, and I loved every meal she made for me.

As time has passed, my taste for foods and recipes has become a bit more modern-- less butter, more olive oil, less meat, more vegetables, fresh herbs instead of dried; but I still find Grandma's recipes irresistible. They are my ultimate comfort foods. Many of them became some of my mother's favorites as well, and we ate them often, even though we only traveled to visit Grandma once a year. Some are required fare at Johnson Thanksgiving dinner-- I don't think that any one of my siblings could consider it a true Thanksgiving without Grandma's recipe for citrus cranberry relish and sage stuffing on the table.

When we would arrive in Idaho Falls for a visit, she would always have a batch of chocolate chip cookies, a boiled raisin cake, and a pot of rice pudding ready for us. After I was married and living in Salt Lake City, Jared and I would travel up to see her every three months or so. I didn't matter that she was nearly 90 at that point-- she still had something freshly made when we arrived, and whatever she hadn't had the energy to do I would help her make after we got there. One visit we laughed ourselves silly because she had accidentally used wheat berries instead of rice in the rice pudding. Just for the record, I don't recommend the substitution.

Besides some wonderful comfort food recipes, Grandma taught me many valuable lessons. The one that stands out to me after telling that last story is that Grandma knew how to laugh and have fun, even when she was laughing at her own mistakes.

I was blessed to have her in my life until she passed away three and a half years ago at the age of 97. She had waited nearly 30 years to be reunited with her sweetheart and I couldn't mourn her passing much because I knew that she was happier there with him and with my dad. But every time I pull out one of Grandma's recipes I blink back a tear because my impulse is to grab the phone, call her, and laugh and talk while I cook.

I've decided to post my favorites of Grandma's recipes in the coming months. I hope that you will enjoy them as much as I have and make your own family memories with them. Food can be so powerful that way.

Today I made Grandma's rice pudding. And it is so good. But I didn't say it was healthy. Comfort food rarely is.

Edna's Rice Pudding
  • 1 cup white rice (I use sushi rice)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 quarts milk (it's best if you use something other than skim, but use what you have)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 well-beaten eggs
  • 1 T. vanilla

Place the rice and water in a large stockpot and simmer for 7 minutes. Add the milk and butter and stir to get the rice off the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer again and let simmer for one hour with the lid askew. WARNING: I have NEVER made this without it boiling over. Watch the pot carefully to attempt to avoid this, and once it is simmering, turn it way down so that your rice doesn't burn.

After one hour, remove from heat. Stir in the sugar and vanilla. Make sure that the eggs are beaten until they are frothy and light yellow-- I use a whisk but you could use beaters for this. Stir it in slowly so as not to scramble the eggs. (Optional: temper the eggs by slowing stirring in one cup of the pudding mixture to the eggs first, then adding them all back into the large pot.)

Serve warm or chilled with a dash of nutmeg. Makes about 8 servings.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

May the Force Be With You

We are big time Star Wars nerds in this family. We rarely shell out for concerts, but when we heard that Star Wars in Concert was coming to town, we knew we had to go and take the boys. What could be cooler than the music of John Williams performed by a large symphony orchestra with a live choir, lasers, smoke and flames, and a huge screen with clips from the movies?

The show did not disappoint. Here are a few shots I took as we looked at the gallery of SW paraphernalia in the concourse. We were glad that we let our kids dress up because Arco Arena was teeming with kids from a galaxy far, far away.

Here's Henry doing his best impression of moody Anakin. Actually, he was a bit hesitant when it came time for a photo op with the Dark Lord--and he wasn't happy when I pushed him into the picture anyway! Mothers--sheesh!

Still making me pay for taking pictures when he doesn't want them. But come on-- Han Solo! Frozen in carbonite! We had to have a shot of this.

It looks like I caught Henry having fun after all! He tried to fool me, but I'm too smart for him.

I have to confess that I got tears in my eyes when the show started and Ian's face just lit up with excitement. Great music always makes me a little emotional anyway, but seeing that look on your son's face is just priceless.

Now Jared and I have a hankering to watch the entire six-episode saga. As often as we watch movies, that may take us months. Movie marathons were much, much easier in our college days.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fun, fun, fun!

I'm still here. It's been a busy past few months and I've really fallen out of the habit of blogging. Something about having a new baby and then starting the school year-- I haven't had much time to call my own. But I miss you, dear readers. I miss interacting with you and I miss following you on your blogs. I finally just cleared out my Google Reader to start fresh this morning because I had over 600 unread posts and every time I opened it I felt too overwhelmed to read. I have been busy with important things, but I feel that as long as I don't let it consume me, blogging is important, too. We need each other, don't you think?

It has been hard to get my momentum up, too, because I have so much I can write about and yet nothing seems good enough after letting myself get rusty. So I'll just catch you up on some of what we've been doing without trying to cover everything. And hopefully tomorrow I'll feel like blogging again!:)

One of the lines from The Family: A Proclamation to the World that we have studied and memorized as a family is this one:
Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.
We had a summer without many of the "wholesome recreational activities," due to having a new baby and a c-section.

If it hadn't been for the amazing grandparents, our kids would have probably done nothing all summer but watch television. So we have been making up for lost time in the past month or so.

We took an amazing family reunion vacation to Lake Tahoe in mid-September. The weather was perfect, it felt like we had the lake to ourselves, and the kids had a blast with all their cousins from Jared's side of the family.

We had a family outing last week with grandparents to Apple Hill, a favorite destination in the Sierra foothills. We tried out a few new farms there this year, including one with a pond and paddleboat and a big U-pick orchard; a "fudge farm" where we got to do a little tour and see where they grow the nuts and berries that they use in their candy, as well as decorate our own fudge-covered apples; and a visit to our favorite farm for fresh-pressed cider and apple donuts.

Ian and I also went to the pumpkin farm with his kindergarten class this week. The kids whose parents had come got to choose a buddy from the class for the field trip--Ian chose Julian, and I knew why immediately. That's the name of a royal lemur on his favorite cartoon, so Ian thinks Julian is pretty cool.:)

And here is where we are headed with the boys tomorrow afternoon. It should pretty much be a nerd fest. We can't wait!

What "wholesome recreational activities" is your family doing this fall?