tales of a 2am troubled toddler

I remember when Jillian was around 12 months old and started sleeping a solid 12 hours straight at night. "Ahhh," I thought, "We've arrived. I can do anything with this amount of uninterrupted sleep!"

What no one tells you is that just because they start doesn't mean they always will. After a few months we realized Jillian goes through phases where she will sleep really well, then just have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.

This week has been one such week. 

It started one night at the beginning of the week (I'm too sleep deprived to remember which night) with an ear-piercing, bloodcurdling shriek. 
I hurried out of bed, as much as my growing baby-belly would let me, to see who stabbed her in the face. Because such a horrid noise would only come from such a tiny human if that human were getting stabbed in the face. 

I walk in the room and as soon as she sees me, she stops. I walk over to the crib and peak over to ask, "What's wrong? Are you okay?" 
"Oh, Hi Mommy. Can I have some water?"
And this is when I made this face:
The next several nights followed the same pattern, happening from one to three times a night. Here is what Jillian thinks warrants such distressing and unpleasant screams to get your attention at 2am:
Needing new pajamas, because you no longer want the ones with footies.
You want a song to be sung to you.
Your toe hurts.
No reason at all.
You want to go to Wal-mart.
You're "all done night-night".
You want to watch Mickey Mouse.

I think I reached the pinnacle of aggravation with this whole situation a couple of nights ago when she woke up because she'd pooped. At 3am. Who DOES that?!

I changed her diaper half-asleep in her mostly dark room. On the way back to her crib I stepped on something small and squishy, so I flicked it off my foot thinking, "Weird, that felt like gum....I wasn't chewing gum...Jillian doesn't chew gum...Oh crap."
The smell on my finger indicated what I'd stepped on was indeed not gum- it was an escaped pellet of poop.

I believe this now. More than ever.


diamond in the rough

At church I'm one of the young women's leaders (young women's is basically like Sunday school for girls 12-18 years). This week we had a program called New Beginnings (which happens at the beginning of each year where we talk about the purpose of being in young women's, introduce new girls coming in, and talk about what the theme for the year will be).

This year the theme for the youth is "Come Unto Christ", which I LOVE! For our program we decided to do a "diamonds in the rough"/Tiffany & Co. theme to draw the correlation how each of us is like a diamond in the rough and can be perfected when we draw closer to Christ. It was a lot of fun to put together!
This invitation is now available in my Etsy shop HERE
We used this video in the program to show the girls and this slideshow to use as an overview of personal progress and young women's. Thank you things that are already created by people who have more time than I do. :-)

To go along with our diamonds theme, each girl got a box with black "coal" candy, diamond ring key chain thingy, with this insert:

 (click the picture to download these cards for free!)

On the tables I used "Tiffany blue" gift bags with different necklaces coming out and clear plastic diamonds on the table cloth. Apparently the Tiffany & Co. font is a custom designed font that I couldn't find anywhere online, but turns out Baskerville is a pretty close match! Just make the first letter a larger font size than the rest of the word and wah-lah. 

(click picture to download these labels)

It was a great night!


not in control.

As much as I think I am, try to be, or want to be...I am not.
 I was blatantly reminded of that over the weekend- smacked in the face with a reality check. It happens from time to time, usually when things are going smoothly and there's not much to complain about, and then the humility rug gets pulled out from underneath you and you fall right on your prideful rear-end. 
You are not in control.

Over the weekend we had a bit of a pregnancy scare. Friday afternoon was pretty normal and relaxing. I went to the bathroom for the up-teenth time that day and realized I started spotting, which is not what you are expecting or ever want to see when you're pregnant- especially only 24 weeks pregnant. I didn't know if I should be scared, horrified, or terrified, so I was a mixture of all 3. I immediately got my phone and dialed my doctor's office. My hands were shaking so bad it took me 3 times to dial the number correctly. 

The medical assistant I spoke with relayed the situation to my doctor, who didn't seem overly concerned, but said I could come in and they would check things out. So we did. Her heartbeat was strong and she was moving around quite a bit, so that was a relief. As to why it started happening, they weren't sure. We went home with the instructions to let them know if anything got worse and just to "wait it out". 
The worst kind of instructions.

By Friday night everything started getting better, which was encouraging. So many emotions were packed into such a short period of time, so it was also exhausting. Saturday morning was lazy- Jillian and I made blueberry muffins (she ate 4). I started noticing that I was cramping and noticed again, more spotting. 
I woke James up and told him I wanted to go to the hospital just to get things checked out (since cramping was a new symptom- and a highly unwanted one).
My mother-in-law came down right away so we could leave Jillian with her. 

(at 20 weeks)

It was a pretty different feeling walking onto the labor and delivery floor this time. I was nervous and anxious, but for completely different reasons than when I was there in labor (2 days past my due-date) with Jillian. When the registrar asked how far along I was and I answered "24 weeks and 4 days" she asked, "how far?"...I was annoyed. Obviously I know I shouldn't be here yet lady, so type a little faster and let me see someone in scrubs.

We got checked in and into a room- again the feelings were so different. I could still feel her moving and kicking the whole time, so that was a constant reassurance, almost her small way of saying "It's okay mom, everything is going to be okay." 
The nurse asked a million questions and hooked me up to the monitors to watch the baby and see if I was having any contractions. Again, her heart sounded great and she was having a dance party (the nurse even commented on how "wild" she was moving). I wasn't having any contractions and wasn't dilated- all very good news. 

So we just waited for a few hours so they could continue to monitor things. While we were waiting I think I heard the lady in the room next to ours give birth (at least I heard a scream that sounded like she probably did...). 

I was trying to relax and not think about anything being wrong, and that everything would be fine and we'd all be fine. But the thought kept coming into my mind of something I'd read online earlier that day about spotting in your second trimester (which by the way, you shouldn't start to Web MD things when they're actually happening to you...it only makes things worse). The odds of survival for an infant born at 24 weeks is 39%. A heck of a lot higher than it ever has been in the past- but 39%? That is so small. So small. A very small percentage that I was in no way mentally or emotionally prepared to challenge. Not that there were indications that would happen- but you know me, always an optimist. ;-)

Because I wasn't having any symptoms of pre-term labor and the baby wasn't showing signs of being in any kind of distress, they unhooked me and I went home, with the same instructions: "Either it will just go away and get better, or it will get worse. If it gets worse then come back." 
The worst kind of instructions. 

The rest of the day I took it easy- constantly going to the bathroom to check the status of things and constantly saying prayers that it would stop and everything be fine. 

I was almost scared to go to sleep because I thought I might wake up in the middle of the night to "worse". 

And this is when it hit me the hardest- I am not in control. Yes I am growing this human being from scratch, yes I'm nourishing and sustaining her, but I am not the one who will control the outcome of this situation- Heavenly Father is.
And sometimes that is hard to accept. It's in scary moments when your faith is tried and shaken that you have to rely on Him the most- because there is nothing else to rely on. 

Suddenly all of the pregnancy "complaints" I had before -heartburn, not able to sleep, uncomfortable, stretch marks- were welcome reminders that this life I am carrying is so incredibly fragile, and the tiniest and biggest of miracles.

By Sunday morning all of the symptoms were gone- no more cramping or spotting. Hallelujah. 
I still don't know why that started happening, what caused it to happen, or if it will happen again, but what I do know is that someone of far greater capacity, mercy, love, understanding, ability, and grace is the one calling the shots, and I'm reminded of just who I want that person to be- it sure isn't little 'ole me. 

Throughout the weekend my feelings of not being in control turned from panic and anxiety, to ease and comfort at remembering who is.


Chapped lips, big hips

Mid-winter depression.
I have it. 

Also, chapped lips. I steal James' Chapstick ALL the time...I dunno why I don't just keep my own. It's way easier not keeping track of his and just asking for it when I need it (which is all the time).

Also, by pregnancy default, big hips. My balance is starting to get weird and bending over is getting hard.
...and Jillian has been pretending I'm Santa lately...giant bowl full of jelly.

And it's cold outside. WHERE are all of the indoor kid play places? HUH?!? Utah is really lacking in this area considering you can't play outside for a solid 4 months of the year (and don't suggest playing outside in the snow...I can't even comprehend such a silly suggestion). 

So because Jillian and I are bored...we start thinking of more projects around the house we can do. Which really means, I think of them/do them and Jillian thinks of how she can mess them up while they're in progress (like painting the bathroom wall with my concealer brush while the new paint color is drying. Thanks for that kiddo.).

I started working on our bathroom makeover. (You will soon learn my favorite spaces to makeover are bathrooms and closets...that's not weird at all. But I'm really on to something with the closets...just you wait...).

I'll give you one sneak-peek before picture for funsies:

First thought...bland? monochromatic? paint on the light bulb? 

Good. I agree!
Plans (because I almost have more fun planning a space than actually doing it):

The plan is to add more color while still having white elements throughout to keep it feeling light and fresh (as a bathroom should feel, right?). While also adding some needed storage space and updating the fugly fixtures. 
I've only made a few changes so far and it already looks pretty different. 

Exciting stuff will be happening soon- if you consider shelving and light fixtures exciting...if you don't...why are we even friends?



balsamic glazed steak rolls

Sometimes I pretend I'm a food blogger...
And then I laugh. Because I took this picture on a plastic white party plate. Because 5 years ago when we got married, I thought buying all black nice dishes would be a good idea. ...I also wore polo shirts...clearly I made bad decisions. 
But in case you didn't know, food doesn't look appetizing on black plates. (And I don't look good in polo shirts).

But these were DE-LICIOUS. 
And they look fancy. Food tastes better when it's pretty. 

I give you:

Balsamic Glazed Steak Rolls
served over garlic mashed potatoes

Ingredients: (makes 8-10 rolls)
* 8-10 thin sliced sirloin
* Salt & Pepper (according to taste)
* 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
* Any steak seasoning you like
* 1 tbsp butter
For the Veggie filling -
* 1 carrot
* 1 red bell pepper
* 1 zucchini
* 5-6 green onions
* 2-3 cloves of garlic
* 1 tsp italian herb seasoning

For the Balsamic glaze sauce-
* 2 tsp butter
* 2 tbsp finely chopped shallots
* 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
* 2 tbsp brown sugar
* 1/4 cup beef broth

For the steak:
- Start by prepping the steak. Season the steak pieces generously on both sides with salt, pepper and worcestershire sauce. And let them sit in the marinade for at least 30 minutes (I marinated at room temperature- you should always cook steak at room temperature, but if you're marinating longer keep it in the fridge then let it get back to room temp before you cook it).

 - While the steak is marinating you can prep the filling for them. Chop up the carrot, bell pepper and zucchini into matchstick size pieces, little longer than the width of the steak strips. Crush the garlic.

For the sauce:
- Melt the butter in a small sauce pan on medium heat.
- Add the finely chopped shallot and sautee it for a minute or 2 until they turn soft and translucent.
- Add the balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and beef stock and stir to mix everything well.
- Allow the sauce to come to a boil and reduce to almost half its volume. You’ll notice it starts becoming thicker and have the consistency of syrup. The butter also starts separating and comes to the top. Turn the heat off and transfer the sauce to a bowl.
- In the same pan (no need to wash it) add a touch of olive oil and toss in the garlic cloves to allow them to flavor the oil for a few minutes.
- Turn the heat up to high and toss in the carrots, bell pepper and zucchini (no need to cook the green onion) and stir fry the veggies for no longer than 2-3 minutes.
- Season them with the the Italian herb seasoning and salt and transfer the veggies to a bowl.

- To assemble the steak rolls, take a strip of the marinated steak and lay it with the short side towards you. Place the veggies in the middle and roll the beef up over the filling, securing it with toothpick. Repeat the same with the other rolls.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter to pan. When hot, add beef rolls, seam side down, not touching and pan fry for a couple minutes. Add desired steak seasoning. Flip roll after a few minutes to cook the other side. Cook until you’re desired done-ness.
- Remove the toothpick and serve with the balsamic glaze sauce spooned over the top of each roll.

For extra yumminess throw it on top of garlic mashed potatoes. 


jillian's bathroom makeover-finally!

The completion of this project has been a REALLY long time coming. I'll get to the "why" of that soon. 

A few months ago I decided to go on a painting rampage and paint ALL of the cabinets in my house, which were previously a golden oak color- not my favorite. If you've ever done home improvement projects, you probably know things like this tend to domino...where if you're doing one thing, you might as well do another, and then you might as well completely redo the WHOLE space. ...or is that just me? 
Regardless, that's what happened (happens I should say...happenING right now in another room). 

I didn't want to spend a ton of money on this bathroom, since it's really only used for Jillian to go to the bathroom and brush her teeth, and occasionally for extra shower space when my family stays with us. It just needed a freshening of sorts, and no golden oak cabinets.


So first I painted the cabinets to match the other newly painted bathroom cabinets in the house and added knobs. Not super time consuming since these were so small (note, if you're taking on 3 bathrooms at once like I did, it actually is really time consuming and you'll hate your life until it's over). 

Then I spray-painted all of the chrome fixtures (toilet paper holder, towel racks, light fixture, oh and the gold door knob). And now I'm going to go on a spray painting tangent:

Before/after spray paint:

(Obviously they were two different toilet paper holders from two different bathrooms, in case you noticed they looked a little different..) ;-)

Rust-Oleum makes INCREDIBLE metallic-finish spray paint. I used Satin Nickel on the previously chrome fixtures. Buying new bathroom accessories can add up really quickly. So if they're still functional but just an ugly color, spray paint them!!! When we moved in I started buying new door knobs to upgrade from the previous gold ones. Those suckers are expensive! I was getting the cheap ones at $23 a pop (the ones with locks were like $27). Since I discovered the Rust-Oleum oil-rubbed bronze spray paint, I haven't purchased a new door knob, just painted the old ones. And they look brand new. 

(Also a different knob in the before/after...apparently I can't take pictures of the EXACT same thing).

It's SUPER easy to do. Just remove the old one, take a fine grit sandpaper to it to rough it up a little bit (doesn't have to be a lot), wash and dry it, then paint! The metallic spray paints come out much thicker than normal spray paint, so to avoid clumping and drips, keep your distance while you're spraying and do 2-3 light coats until the whole thing is covered, instead of worrying about complete coverage the first time you spray it. Let it dry for 2 days before you reinstall and use it.
Mine have held up GREAT. It even works for knobs with locks- the spray paint didn't mess up the locks in the least.

I would have spent $150+ on new fixtures for this bathroom (including a light fixture), but instead I bought a $7 can of spray paint. Score.

So then I wanted to stay on the DIY train and build a frame to mount on the mirror. I was super excited the whole frame cost about $15 to make using mdf molding and paint (like this). 

When I attached it to the mirror, I noticed the whole mirror was a little lose from the wall. I went to the basement to get some liquid nails to remedy that little problem, got back into the bathroom, turned around for TWO SECONDS, and then....CRASH. 

MOTHER )(@#$!)#(*$)#(&*W$ CRASH.

Not only did my newly built frame break, but the entire mirror. So my $15 mirror frame project turned into, "now I have to buy a whole new freaking mirror" project. 

Hence why the bathroom took so long to finish. I couldn't walk in there without wanting to curse for several weeks. And then I left it without a mirror for several more weeks as the hunt to find one close to the dimensions I needed failed time and time again. 

Moral of THAT story, make sure your mirrors are securely attached to the wall before you add anything to them. OH, and don't try to vacuum up broken glass...your vacuum will break. ...)

I finally found a mirror at Home Depot for around $70 I think- not bad. Not $15, but still not bad. 

As a last minute project I used leftover kitchen back splash to fill in the space between the sink and mirror. All-in-all I'm glad the mirror broke and I found a slightly smaller one so I could add this fun detail (even though I still cringe every time I look at that picture of the broken mirror everywhere).

The color on the walls isn't my favorite, and there is a gap by the light fixture where you can see two layers of previous paint, so it will need to be repainted one day. But that day won't be soon, because like I said, we hardly ever use this bathroom and I have more important projects I want to move on to. It's my way of getting back at the walls for dropping my mirror. Take THAT walls. 

The art on the wall was also a last minute, 5 minute, project. I found some old fabric I had and stapled it to an old canvas I forgot I had in my basement. Done and done.

So a total price breakdown of everything:

Cabinets: I spread the paint over 3 bathrooms, so we'll say like $15 for these. The knobs were freebies from my mom's old cabinets.
Fixtures: $7 (for the spray paint)
Back splash: Freebie (leftover from the kitchen)
Wall art: Freebie using leftover supplies from other projects
Mirror: $70...but really should have been $15. 

Seriously!! Can't beat that. Small price to pay for a BIG difference in this little bathroom! 

(I'm still trying to figure how how a light bulb turns purple...)

And now I'm on to the project I've been wanting to tackle for months- our master bathroom! As long as we have no major mirror incidents, it should be done in the next month or so. I've got fun things in store for that one...paint samples are currently up and waiting to be decided on- eek!

on potty training

The week after Christmas I decided to potty train Jillian. Why is it the 12th of January and I'm just now writing this? Because since then we've made trips to the bathroom every 30 minutes. The majority of the last couple of weeks has been filled singing dumb songs about going pee-pee and poo-poo, bribing with treats and offering rewards, and I think I'm about all out of praises. If I don't give anyone a compliment for the next month it's because all of my positive energy and reinforcement is channeled to my two-and-a-half year-old who "DID IT in the big potty like a big girl!"
(Sometimes I think...this is my life. I sing songs about pooping.) :-p

Holy exhausting.

There were several signs that led me to believe she was probably ready, but I was freaked out of my mind. "What if she doesn't get it or doesn't want to and then grows up having weird emotional problems because of our horrific potty training experience?" 
I knew I wanted to dive all in- big girl panties and all. No pull-ups. That's kind of been my approach to most things with her- just cold turkey- and it's worked out really well for both of us.

Fortunately we made it through the week alive. The first day was to be expected- we spent most of the day in the bathroom just a waitin' and cleaning up pee messes. It really only took her a couple of accidents to realize peeing on the floor is a bad thing and well, gross. On her third accident, she looked up from the puddle of pee she was standing in and made the sound effect, "wah-wah". Haha! I don't even know where she learned that...

Really after that though things went surprisingly smooth. She had a few days with 1 accident a day, then no accidents, then we braved an outing (with a diaper OVER the "under panties" as she calls them JUST in case), and we're all still alive to tell about it.  

She's been really into role-playing lately, pretending she's Ariel or Belle, or Minnie Mouse (and I'm always the lame characters...). At one point several days in she grabbed my hand and said, "Hurry Beast! We have to go to the castle!" (aka the bathroom). So we ran to the bathroom and she sat on the potty and then sighed, "Aahhhh, now we're safe!" 
That girl. She is nothing if not imaginative.

  Today we walked out of church 50 bajillion times because she said she had to go...really I think she just wanted to flush the big toilet that makes a much bigger "whoosh" than ours at home. At one point I asked her if she had to go "poopies". To which she responded by bellowing, "NO I DON'T HAVE TO GO POOPY MOMMY!" 
Message received, by the entire congregation actually.

But all-in-all I'm super proud of her. Potty training? Check. 

And now to enjoy the next 4 months of a diaper-free toddler, until we're back in the game with a newborn who poops more than you ever knew was humanly possibly until you HAVE a newborn and witness it for yourself. *sigh. 



Not gonna lie, it's a little tricky thinking of goals for the new year when I'm really just focused on surviving potty training this week. Today was day 1 and so far, so good. She had as many successes as accidents, which I will count as an overall success, but MAN is it exhausting. I never thought I'd have to make up so many dumb songs about going pee.

So I will try to have a little foresight and think beyond all of the pee messes that will happen on my floor this week. 

 A handful of things I'd like to accomplish in 2014:

how to make homemade donuts in those cute donut pans 
how to use photoshop, or something like it

up enough extra cash-ola to buy a camera (time to branch out of the iPhone only photos)

something other than my usual fictional dystopian society/political fiction books. I Am Malala sounds incredible

a new shared space for Jillian and kiddo #2 
more items for my Etsy shop, and spend more time on it in general

the storage closet in the basement...I shudder even listing this one

pilates again (and find time to do it with 2 kids)! I fell in love with it last year but since I'm prego obviously there's a lot I can't do. I'm definitely counting down until the summer when I can get back on that giant bouncy ball

 And that sounds like a good enough list for me!

Happy New Year!