Monday, January 28, 2008

When you don't have a mix

And with this recipe you'll never need one again.

35 min 10 min prep

1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
*Whatever Floats Your Boat: 1-2 cup chocolate chips (semisweet, white, butterscotch, peanut butter) or raisins or chopped maraschino cherries or nuts or M&M's or Reese's pieces or miniature marshmallows

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease an 8 inch square pan or line with foil.
  3. In a medium bowl combine melted butter and cocoa and stir until cocoa is dissolved.
  4. Add sugar and mix well.
  5. Add eggs one at a time and stir until well combined.
  6. Stir in vanilla, flour and salt until you no longer see any flour (do not overmix).
  8. Spread in pan and bake for approximately 25 minutes.
  9. DO NOT OVER-BAKE -- your brownies will come out dry. Adjust time/temp accordingly or your oven. If you do the knife/toothpick test, it should come out with moist crumbs, not clean.
  10. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

*I added in a cream cheese swirl: 8 oz cream cheese, 1/2 c sugar and 1 egg. Yum!

Thursday, January 24, 2008


How ironic that yesterday's post was about my sleep disorder.

I have just returned from my bedroom where Grace has been sleeping. Early this evening Brad and I put her down in there with some medicine to help her recover from a nasty cough. It is now past midnight, and I just barely snuck into my room to retrieve my scriptures to read before going to sleep in the guest bedroom. I must not have been quiet enough. As I was sneaking back out, Grace woke up whining. "Please, can I watch Baby Einstein. Please?!" Have you ever let a sleepless two-year-old watch a movie while everyone else tries to sleep? I have. Not fun. No one ends up actually sleeping. So instead, I laid down beside her, snuggling, talking softly, singing lullabies, counting sheep... one... two... three... four... She would not be distracted. She rose to her knees, crowding over me, and with wide, blood-shot eyes and wild hair (think Rochester's mad woman from Jane Eyre) she shrieked, "I WANT TO WATCH BABY EINSTIIIIIINNNE!" And then she slapped my face twice. Kind of hard. My cheek still smarts. I turned my head away, fighting against my desire to weep over being a failed-mom and my urge to spank her little bum very very very hard. And then I realized she was snoring.

Grace and I don't just sleep-walk or sleep-talk. No. We're really talented. Not only can we carry on full conversations in our sleep, but we fly into a sleep-rage.

And on that note I hereby apologize to my dear friends and family who have been on the receiving end of my groggy, angry insanity. I am terribly sorry. Thank you for not institutionalizing me yet.

Now to the rest of you who thought I was a relatively average, nice, "sorry"-saying gal, beware. I apparently have untold reservoirs of repressed, violent fury. And to Grace's future husband: It's my fault. I apologize in advance.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Worse than Snoring

I have a sleep disorder. You probably didn't know that. Don't feel bad; it's not something I publicize. Brad didn't know either. Poor man. What an unfortunate, untimely thing to find out about someone who is already your wife. We had been folding laundry one night and I fell asleep on the couch. At about 2 am, after he had folded all the laundry (what a great guy), he gently shook me in attempt to move me to bed. It was such a nice thing to do that I don't blame him for being flabbergasted when I punched him in the nose, called him "Elliot" and screamed (at the top of my sleepy lungs), "I hate you!"

A few minutes later when I became fully conscious, he wasn't speaking to me.

"Are you mad at me?" I asked.

He glared at me incredulously and retorted, "Are you kidding me?"

It's a good thing I don't pack a mean punch. Especially since this is not the only incident of violence associated with sleepiness. I have apparently shoved tables over, kicked people and screamed loudly when someone kindly tries to wake me up. And violence isn't the only part of the story either. When I get tired I can fall asleep anywhere, I have vividly terrible dreams, and I require approximately 8-10 hours of sleep per day. Any less and I am cranky and mostly unconscious.

Aren't you glad you're not married to me?

I wouldn't be noting this here except that I have discovered something very sad: Grace has my sleep disorder. In addition to being able to fall asleep anywhere (see evidence below):

And requiring lots of sleep...

Last night she woke us up telling us that she had the most horrible dream about our alarm clock strangling her around the neck. Poor child. I didn't tell her that the dreams get worse.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Steps in the Dark

Have I mentioned that Brad just started his own business last month? He did. Have I mentioned that I was appointed bookkeeper and that I don't know the first thing about it? I was, and I don't. I also probably failed to mention how excited I am about this business ownership thing. That is because I am not really. Supportive, definitely. Excited? Um... not so much. I do not have what you would call an entrepreneurial spirit. I personally like the idea of working for the man. He offers a steady paycheck and a benefits package. What's so bad about that? In fact, when Brad turned down a salary plus benefits offer from one of the largest construction companies in New Mexico in favor of starting his own company, I must say that my reaction ranged between disbelief and nausea. I don't mean to imply that Brad's refusal of the job was a surprise to me. On the contrary. We consulted and prayed together for a long time before coming to an agreed decision. But once we received an answer from God, Brad never looked back. I sure did. He pretty much has more faith than I do. The next day he got an email from the construction company asking him to reconsider, and I responded, "Do it! Maybe they'll offer you more money!" Yeah, I know. I'm the devil. Well, maybe not the devil so much as Ms. Doubting Thomas. If Heavenly Father has a plan for me, I want the blueprints. None of this one step at a time stuff. Give me the details!

I told you. Faithless.

But not for long! My faith steadily increases as I have seen how carefully and lovingly Heavenly Father has been taking care of us. I've already made marked improvement: these days I only hyperventilate about once a week.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Like Weeds (But Prettier)

Why do children grow so quickly? Claire now laughs and grabs and rolls and scoots, and only a few months ago [a very few short months!] she was a limp little bean in my arms. Each minute holding my girls is bittersweet: another moment gone! I want them to grow up; I do. But I can't imagine it being as wonderful as having a baby in my arms.

Enough. No weeping allowed.

Have I mentioned how funny Grace is? Have I mentioned how impressionable she is? Here is reason number 387 for not having a TV: Grace has an amazing memory. On the rare occasion that she gets to stay up to watch one of mommy and daddy's Netflix movies, she seems to remember the most unfortunate parts. Last Friday at the zoo, while holding the hands of two little friends, she repeated a very regrettable four-letter word. She didn't use it in the correct context. It was so out of place, in fact, that I wondered whether she'd said it at all, but given her little friends on either side (and my friends surrounding me), I thought it best to discipline her on the spot. I was embarrassed. Which is why Grace is no longer allowed to watch mommy-daddy movies or "The Incredibles" anymore. (Am I the only one that didn't realize that commandment numero tres is repeatedly broken in that movie?) Anyway.

Also. Does anyone here have any brilliant ideas for potty-training? I think I missed my window of opportunity with Grace. Since that missed opportunity, I have tried "potty training in a day," the naked method (which has been fun in the winter... just kidding), and shameless bribery. I have several gifts sitting on her shelf in her bedroom waiting to be played with until she sits on the potty. Every once in a while, she'll tearily beg to play with those toys until I remind her, "Not until you sit on the potty!" At which point she will tearlessly say, "Oh," and drop the subject. I am at a loss.

Help me.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Those Pearly Whites

Two tiny teeth have torn through Claire's bottom gum this week. As her parent I know I should be bursting with pride over this anticipated milestone, but alas, I am selfish, and my gut reaction is to wince in pain. I am nursing, you know. And biting hurts.

I well remember the first time Grace bit me. Brad had gotten home and we were just sitting in our living room talking to each other. I like to do that. Anyway, probably in the middle of some hilarious story Brad was telling about work, Grace bit me. For my own satisfaction I will inform you (or remind you) that being bit *there* sends pain surges to every nerve in your body. So, in response, I pulled Grace off of me and yelled. Pretty loud. You know, just workin' through the pain.

Brad stared at me, a little shocked.

In defense, I told him, "She bit me!"

Brad's face didn't change a bit. He looked at me like I had just deafened him and said, "Don't you think that was probably a little bit of an overreaction?"

"Really. Hmm. I don't know, Brad. Is it? Have you ever had someone bite your nipple? Would you like to try? I'll show you overreaction!" At which point a chase ensued.

And that is one argument I did win.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

An Ounce of Prevention...

Grace is a slave to routine. When the unexpected occurs, it's earth shattering, and she throws equally disturbing tantrums in response. So don't judge me too harshly for telling you that I nearly panicked when I got home from the grocery store to discover that I had only bought crunchy peanut butter. Not good. Creamy peanut butter and honey sandwiches are Grace's lunch staple. Everyday. I'm so healthy and creative, I know. So crunchy peanut butter was going to throw a pretty big wrench in our daily tradition, and the ensuing tantrum was going to make it impossible for me to fold laundry while she ate lunch. Do you have any idea how much laundry accumulates after three weeks of vacation? Well, thanks to my mother--child-care genius--I had a flash of inspiration. A la Betsy, I put my hand over my mouth, ready to burst with a big surprise. Grace knows this face. And she made it back.
I had her.

"Grace, guess what!" I said.


"We have the most special kind of peanut butter today!!!"

[Surprised gasp]

"It has real peanuts in it!!!"

"It DOES?!"

"Yep, it sure does. You want to taste it?"


"Yep. We're so lucky, huh?"

"Yup. We are!"

I do what I have to do to stave off tantrum-induced insanity.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Just Kidding

Grace sometimes goes on crying too long. You can always tell when this happens becuase her tears dry up and her sobs become long, dry wails. It reminds me of Jean Arthur's fake wailing at the end of "The More the Merrier." You should really all see that movie. Anyway, at the point that Grace starts acting, I tell her she can keep crying in her bedroom, or she can stop crying by the count of three. Then I start counting. At the count of three, she always looks up at me with a smile and says, "Just Kidding!" It's remarkable. She's invented her own device to snap out of a bad mood. Can adults do that? I don't.

Today Grace and I were counting quarters. (Only up to fwerteen, of course.) We were sitting up on our brand-new, very tall couches, and I was having her count quarters, take quarters away, count again, add quarters back, count again, and... well, she was doing a great job. At every successful count, I tickeled her and shouted "YAY!!!!" She loved it. Too much. Her over-excited, celebratory couch jumping launched her backward, over the arm of the couch, into a head-first crash onto the brick hearth. Poor child. Her tears cascaded down her face and as I held her to comfort her and kiss it better, she rubbed her head, and between sobs made a hearty attempt to cheer herself up, "Just kidding..." And then she broke into genuine tears again. Well, that was enough to break my grinchy little heart in two.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Traveling with Grace

14 hours in a car with kids is too many.

1. At a gas station in Clines corners Grace stared in fascination at a man covered in tattoos. She turned to my mom and said, "We don't draw on our arms, Grandma Betsy."

2. At stores with big signs: "Look MOOMM!! It's my NAAAMME! It's the letter GEEEEE!!!" To her credit, she identifies the letter G (and L and S and C) very well, but I think my dad's poor ears would have benefitted from a more quiet identification. The kid is loud.

3. In an effort to keep her entertained: "Grace, honey, why don't you show mommy how you count to twenty?" "One, two, fwee, four, five, sits, seben, i-ete, nine, ten, leben, twelve, firteen, four, i-ete, two, four!" I guess thirteen is good enough.

4. Any time the word came up in an adult conversation (which happens more than you would think): "We DON'T say STUPID, Mommy!!"

5. At lunch time: "Gracie, do you think we should feed Claire too?" "Um, no. Cware, um, Cware eat Mommy's chest." Fabulous.

Home Again

We are back. And by "we," I mean me and the girls. Brad has been hanging out in Carlsbad by himself for a total of three lonely weeks (minus the four days he spent with us at Christmas). We returned to Utah for a short visit with family, but spent most of our time in Texas. After all the flying, driving, and living out of a suitcase, I am glad to be planted at home again.

For Christmas, my little sister gave Grace a hand-me-down "Hello Kitty" purse. Since we've been home, Grace carries it everywhere. Yesterday, after a diaper change for Claire, I couldn't find her anywhere. Panicked, I ran to the front door and found it open. I ran outside and saw Grace all the way down the block, purse over her shoulder, turning left onto Kuykendall. She laughed and tried to escape when she saw me booking it behind her. When I caught up to her she told me in exasperation, "Mo-om, I was just going to school." With her hair chopped off and a purse slung across her little body, she's getting too old too fast.

This morning I thought she was about to pull a similar stunt when she asked me to open the door for her and her stuffed animal kitty.

"Where are you going?" I asked.

"To the Future!!"

Too many viewings of "Meet the Robinsons," I think.