till the fat lady sings

{That would be me}

You might be tempted to assume that because I haven't posted anything since Tuesday, that I've had the baby. That is very generous of you. The miserable truth is that I'm still pregnant, and it's still snowy. (I would say snowing, but it isn't currently coming down.)

Thank you to those of you who kept me in your prayers on Tuesday. We did make it safely to and from the ward activity. The parking lot was the worst, but I got their early enough to get into a parking spot with no one on either side, so no one was hit.

As a general rule, Rico and Ella go to bed between 7 and 7:30. That is to say, we generally start clean up and bedtime routines shortly before 7, and finally turn off lights around 7:30. And though they don't go sleep right away (they like to serenade us--Gloria {Angels We Have Heard On High} is the current favorite) they are usually out around 8. Even when we are out for the evening with friends or family, we still try to stick the the schedule as much as possible. For this reason, we usually leave ward (and other social) functions early, around 7 or so, that we can still get them into bed before eight. They (and therefore we) are much happier that way.

When we were originally planning on attending the ward Christmas party, it was to be a family affair. When I found out that the choir would be singing at the end (the party was slated to end at 8:30,) we figured that Tom would leave early with the kids, and I would stay for the choir number. This is not because we didn't want to support the activity, but because it works best for our family.

But then Tom had a 2+ hour grad school interview Tuesday night, in Tacoma. So I was on my own. With both kids. Till the bitter end.

The kids were amazingly cooperative most of the evening. They played happily while I emptied the car (salad, choir music, diaper bag, etc.) Rico sat happily in his chair while I got food with Ella. They hung out with Tom and Pauline (a million thank-yous--I would not have made it through the night without you!) while the choir ran through the number in another room. They started to lose it after about 7:30. They wanted to run up and down the halls. They were super wiggly and could not (or would not) hold still during the Primary's performance of the Christmas story.

But by the time the choir sang, the boy was done. It was obviously way past his bedtime, and he wanted to make sure everyone knew. I handed him off to Tom (not my husband) and he started crying. At the top of his lungs. I don't think he stopped until we were home, and he was in bed. And even that was rough.

And I was reminded why I'm glad I'm not a single mother, and why we keep them on a fairly strict routine. So call us party poopers, but unless it's the end of the world, our kids will be in bed on time. Or close to it.


sNOw fun

For starters, I will tell you that I love snow. I get so excited watching the snow fall. I love to be curled up in my nice warm home with a blanket and hot chocolate and look out the window at a winter wonderland.

But, I have to admit, I am a total wimp when it comes to cold weather.

I'm the kind of girl that likes it to snow, then for it to warm up so that all the snow melts off the roads. The snow itself can stick around for a few days, but then I'm ready for it to rain, and get back to temperatures closer to 50. That's why I live in Washington. That's how it normally works.

Recently, such has not been the case. Friday night it snowed some nice wet Washington snow. By mid-morning Saturday, the roads were clear, though there was still a nice white blanket over most of the grass and roofs. Perfect, this is how it is supposed to be.

Then Saturday night it snowed. And FROZE. Sunday the roads were treacherous. The snow had all condensed to ice. Even by the time we went to church at one in the afternoon, the temperature was well below freezing. The parking lot was more like a skating rink. Though it didn't snow anymore, the temperature stayed down in the teens overnight (aaak! the TEENS!) and school was canceled in Tom's district the next day. And today it was two hours late. All because of the blasted ice that won't get off the roads.

For the record, I don't drive in snow. The last time I did was January 10, 2007. I took Tom to work so I could go to my doctor's appointment since I was pregnant with Rico. And I got rear-ended and had to spend the rest of the day being monitored at the hospital. So snow-driving and I don't get along. Especially when I'm pregnant.

And the forecast? Not so much seeing temps over freezing anytime this week.

Unfortunately I have to go grocery shopping today. You'd better believe that I'm waiting until after noon to give the sun as much opportunity to melt the ice on the roads as possible. But if that's not bad enough, I have to go to the ward Christmas party tonight. By myself. (With the kids.) And I will be praying the entire drive there and back. Feel free to pray for me, too. I'm sure it will help!

Double your pleasure, double your fun

Friday night we came home to a message on our answering machine. One of the bishopric* members wanted to come meet with me. Let's be honest, the first thought on everyone's mind when they hear that is "new calling." I have to admit that I was a little surprised. Even though I've had my current calling (ward choir director) for over a year, I'm always hearing how they don't really have anyone to replace me.

But surprised or not, I'm always willing.

So when I was asked to be the first counselor in the Young Women's presidency, I readily accepted. I might not know what in the world I'm doing, but I'll do it happily. Since they hadn't mentioned an accompanying release, I asked. And I was told, "Well we don't really have a replacement, so what do you think?"

To be honest, I don't know what I think. I've never been in the Young Women's program (except as a young woman) and I've never been a mother of three before, and quite frankly I've never had two callings before. But there is a first time for everything, and this time the first times are coming all at once.

I'm so excited to start my new calling, and get to know the young women and other leaders. I really do enjoy my current calling, and I'm not sorry to be continuing. And I'm really excited to get this little girl out of my belly and into my arms.

I'm sure that the Lord will help it all work somehow!

*(For more information about wards, callings, bishoprics and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, see here)


Long Day--and an even longer post

Yesterday was a long, busy day. We had set the day aside to replace our water heater. When we bought the house almost a year and a half ago, the inspector recommended replacing the water heater, since it was at the end of its expected life, and since it's in Rico's closet, not a garage or something, so if it were to rust out or spring a leak, we could have major problems.

Though we intended to do it immediately, somehow it got postponed and postponed, but finally yesterday it happened. My wonderful father came down and helped us, since he knows what he's doing, and we were willing, but ignorant.

The first holdup came when we were trying to shut off the water to the house. We had no idea where to look for the valve. We don't have a water meter because of the weird neighborhood we live in (our water is included in our HOA dues) and we could not find a shut-off valve anywhere in the house. Finally I found a newsletter the association had sent out saying that most were found underground at the back of the house, with a white cap to identify them. We circled the house, but found nothing. By peeking over the fences, we could easily find those of our neighbors, but ours was missing entirely. Finally, by checking out under the house, my dad determined where it should be, and I got a shovel. Instead of digging right next to the house where it was supposed to be located, he noticed a divet in the lawn about two feet out from the house that had some give when it was stepped on. Sure enough, within six inches or so, he uncovered a plastic bucket lid that covered the main shut-off valve. I'm sure we never would have found it without him.

Once we got the tank drained, and out of the closet, (not only was it strapped to the wall, but it was glued to floor) breaking the emergency drain pipe in the process, we set off to Home Depot to pick up a new drain pipe as well as some pieces to fix the leak under the sink (which we soon discovered was not a leak, but leaks).

The new tank fit fine in the closet, but was shorter, so the electric wires weren't quite long enough to fit inside the water heater like they're supposed to, but long enough to hook up for now. Tom got to climb under the house (which is more of an army-crawl space than a crawl space) twice and wade through the 3-4 inches of water down there, (Um, is that a problem?) to reattach the drain pipe.

Once the water heater was hooked up and heating, we turned our attention to the sink where one leak had become three different ones. Two were fairly easily fixed, but the third turned out not to be a problem with the pipes, but a hole in the drain area of the second sink. How helpful. The solution? Don't use that sink. I'm sure we'll get around to replacing the drain, but until then, we're down to one sink. I'm just glad that I have at least one.

Overall, we are in debt to my father for his skill, expertise, willingness and time. Also to Ella and Rico for being mostly good sports all day while they didn't get to play with Grandpa, and were expected to amuse themselves most of the time, without getting into all the tools etc. that was lying around.

The project is not completely done, but I am glad that yesterday is over. THANK YOU DADDY!


Oh, Christmas Tree!

Many of my Christmas memories from childhood revolve around our Christmas Tree. Each year, the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving, we would bundle up, rain or shine, and go cut the perfect tree. We did not limit ourselves to a single tree farm, but would venture far and wide until we found the right one. By the end of the day we were usually wet and muddy, but as long as we had a tree, we were happy. Getting a tree pre-cut from a lot was out of the question, and even the thought of an artificial tree was nigh unto sacrilege. We would take it home and put {steady burning--no blinking!} white lights all over, with a star at the top. To this day I cringe at the idea of colored lights and anything but a star as a topper.

After I was married, things were a little different. The first year we lived in a teeny tiny apartment and we weren't even going to be home for Christmas, so we made do with a little two foot fake tree that we had gotten from my in-laws. Tom was with me on the white-light bandwagon, though his parents had colored twinkly lights on their tree, and we even had a miniature star at the top.

The next two years we cut one down at a lot near Tom's grandparents, but later than I would have preferred. Part of that was Tom's preference to put off the tree-getting (and therefore the tree-guarding from over-eager helpers,) and part of it was time constraints Thanksgiving weekend.

Last year, for the first time in my life, we bought a tree at Fred Meyer. I almost died. Okay, probably not, but I'm sure I considered it. Rico was not quite one and would have had to be carried the entire excursion and I don't remember all the other reasons, but that's how it ended up. And it was fine. But I missed the thrill of finding the perfect tree and cutting it down.

Last Saturday, we once again ventured out to the tree farms. There was one right near our house with tons of trees, decent prices, and free cookies and hot chocolate. Ella and Rico were great sports and loved looking for the tree, though they weren't picky at all. My camera died after the first couple shots, so I don't have any of the tree-harvesting, but you get the idea. We were home before lunchtime. I put on the star and lights. When the kids woke up from their naps, we had to remind them to look with their eyes not their hands, and as you can see, Rico still likes to be close. We were planning on decorating the following day, but Ella was waaaay too excited to decorate the tree, so in one day, we went from nothing to a fully decorated tree. Rico-boy didn't quite get the spacing the ornaments idea, I'm pretty sure that there are at least five stacked up here. Luckily he didn't mind when I spread them out later. I love having a Christmas tree!


Thanksgiving mumble jumble

I think I'm a little bit camera-disabled. We had a great Thanksgiving weekend. We spent time with all sorts of family, and I didn't take a single picture, though I had my camera the whole time. Oh well.

I have so much to be grateful for! In addition to my wonderful husband, adorable children, snug little house, and relative health and comfort (it's all relative when you're pregnant), I have the gospel of Jesus Christ to guide my life and my daily actions.

For some reason, Thanksgiving didn't seem very important to me this year, probably because I have my sights set on Christmas. While Christmas is a good thing, Thanksgiving is also a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the family, friends, and other blessing in my life. But now that it's past, I can really focus on Christmas and the celebration of Christ and His life that is so important.

I'm sorry that my thoughts are so jumbled, but like everything else, I'll blame it on the pregnancy--only 3 weeks and 5 days left (till my due date).

Also, I just have to share this recipe. I made it last night when the missionaries came over for dinner, and as Tom said "I think this may be one of the best meals you've made." And it was dang easy, too!

New Year's Eve Chicken

10-12 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, thighs, etc.
1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix
2 cans any "cream of" soup
2 tsp Italian seasoning
Garlic Salt (I used garlic powder and some Johnny's Pork and Chicken seasoning)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2-2 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
1 can whole olives, drained (Tom recommended that next time I slice the olives into smaller pieces, but I didn't mind them whole)

Arrange chicken in a 9x13. Okay. Stop right there. Who in the world can fit 10-12 pieces of chicken in a 9x13? No one I know. I used 4, count them FOUR frozen chicken breasts from Costco, and they filled the pan. So just use your judgment (and the number of people you are feeding) to guide you. Lightly coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with onion soup mix. Combine remaining ingredients and cover the chicken. Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken is done. Since my chicken was frozen, I allowed plenty of time. I think it took about 60-75 minutes, but I wasn't timing it so I can't be exact.

We had this with brown rice (the soup etc. made a great "gravy") and salad and it was scrumptious!