The Kitchen Floor-palooza of 2011

So, last month my mom extended to us the strangest yet most appealing invitation we've ever received:

"Want to come over on Saturday and help us tear up our kitchen floor?"

Let's think about this: destruction that's perfectly allowed, nay, ENCOURAGED...a chance for Cole to use his new power tools...

"corn chips are no place for a mighty warrior"

Thus began the Kitchen Floor-palooza of 2011.

We started with tearing up the old tile in the kitchen and entryway.  This involved hammers and crowbars.  

Cole "pre-busting" the tiles to help ease the tearing-up process
It was a lot easier than we originally anticipated, and Stephanie and I ended up standing around much of the time (Mom was on kid duty since she was still recovering from an unfortunate accident involving the porch steps and her ankle).  

The pile of torn-up tiles
 Then, we got the best job ever.  See how some of the tiles were still in relatively large pieces?  In order to fit in the trash bags more easily, we were commissioned to bust the bigger pieces with hammers, rendering them much more pack-in-garbage-bag-able.  We took the job with all sorts of eagerness, and joked about how we looked like characters from a Whack-A-Mole game.  

We finished a lot sooner than we expected, revealing a lovely sub-floor in the kitchen:

Lovely, smooth subfloor
After all was said and done, we ended up filling 11 huge trash bags with broken tiles.

9 of the 11 trash bags, awaiting their trip to the dump
The whole process was pretty dusty--we didn't realize how much dust came from breaking tiles!  It wasn't confined to the kitchen, either!

The dust left behind in the living room after tearing up the tile floor
We thought the job was finished...until we got another call from my mom.  Apparently, the people who lived in the house before my parents were idiots...because the new-floor-guy came to inspect our work and discovered that the kitchen had TWO subfloors on top of the floorboards.  One subfloor, then horrible linoleum, then ANOTHER subfloor upon which my parents had installed the old tiles.  He said the old floors needed to come up, and a new one needed to be laid for both the entryway and the kitchen.  Instead of forking over $1300 for him to tear up the old ones, my parents decided to have another Demolition Day...and we were happy to help.

Out came the hammers and crowbars again.  To make the process easier, my dad and Cole used circular saws to cut the subfloor into smaller squares:

Division of the subfloor
It took a LOT more effort to tear up two subfloors.  We all took our turns with the crowbar and hammer.  

Mom and me taking our turn
The pile of subfloor and nasty old linoleum
After the subfloors came up, we also had to pull the staples out of the floorboards--anything left behind could leave an unsightly bump in the new subfloor, which would result in uneven new-floor-laying.  There were a LOT of staples.

Not sure how visible they are here...but there were about a gazillion staples to pull up.
Kyle was perfectly content to play upstairs during the whole process.  Lucas was another matter.  Since we needed to keep him close, we set up the pack n' play and he had a grand old time watching the madness.  My dad worried a little bit about the noise hurting his ears, so he whipped out these babies:

Awesome headphones.  Note Lucas' SUPER tired eyes--he refused to take a nap that day.
We finished removing the subfloors and staples, which enabled the floor guy, Reuben, to come work his magic...and when I say "floor guy," I mean, "the one guy who came to do the work."  He laid the new subfloor and the new tile all by himself.  Apparently he was quite the crack-up, too.

So, after two Saturdays of demolition and nearly 3 weeks of my parents' house being in total disarray, they finally had a beautiful finished product:

Lovely new tile floor
Close-up of the new floor
My parents love it...and it's a good thing.  I'm not sure any of us could take having to tear up ANOTHER floor.  


Not-So-Wordless Wednesday: Listen With My Heart

This is Kyle's favorite Primary song.  He asks to sing it at least three times a day.  I'm the proudest mama in the world because he knows EVERY.SINGLE.WORD...and there are three verses!

P.S. Lucas is the biggest cheeseball in the world...he's also a bit of an attention whore, as you can see from this video.

P.P.S. Pardon my hideousity--it was a cleaning day.


What I Made Monday

So, a couple of weeks before Easter, my mom's ward had an enrichment activity all about cute Easter ideas.  Now, I'm not usually a super crafty gal, but this activity pushed my creative buttons.  

For our nieces and nephews on the Christensen side, I made these cute little bunnies.  They were SUPER easy: a washcloth, ribbon, googly eyes, a little puffball for a tail, and a hot glue gun.  VOILA!  There's a hole big enough to fit a treat.

Army of washcloth bunnies
Side view
 For the grown-ups, I thought I'd do something a little more sophisticated.  :)  A lady in my mom's ward has been making peanut butter Easter eggs for years and years, and she shared her recipe at the activity.  Turns out they're extremely easy to make, and the end result looks fancy and impressive.  I mixed up a batch and it made enough eggs for Cole's parents; his brothers and their wives; my counselors, secretary, chorister, and pianist in Primary; and Cole's Sunday School class...with leftovers.

Yummy, peanut buttery goodness in egg form...
Dipped in chocolate...
Embellished with cute Easter chicks...
Cellophaned and Bowed...
Makes for some awesome Easter gifts!
I don't want to brag (actually.yes.I.do.a.little.bit), but I've gotten numerous compliments on my egg-making prowess.  I think this might be the start of a new Easter tradition!


Happy Birthday to Me!

So, yesterday was my birthday.  And it was AWESOME!

Honestly, I don't usually make a big deal of my birthdays.  Now that I have kids, my focus is pretty much always less on me and more on them.  I expected the day to be mostly like every other day of my life.  We did have plans to go to dinner with my parents and siblings in the evening, as is our tradition for birthdays.

So I was extra surprised when Cole climbed back into bed with me at 5:45 am--the time he's usually leaving for work.  He told me he took the day off for my birthday.  Needless to say, I was tickled, and we went back to sleep.

Two hours later, I woke up to my mother-in-law calling before she left for work.  She wished me "happy birthday" and then said, "I hope you do something fun today."  The phone call also woke Kyle up, and he jumped in between us on the bed.  "It's your birthday," he told me, and gave me a kiss on the cheek.  We started  chatting like we do in the mornings, and he was telling us about the time he went to the zoo with his Aunt Stephanie and his pretty-much-official-in-every-way-but-blood Aunt Megan (they watched him the day that we had Lucas).  This is pretty much his favorite story to tell, and it gave Cole an idea: why DON'T we take the kids and do something fun today?  The weather was great, we were all together, and it was my birthday--the perfect recipe for doing something fun.

After a quick breakfast, we threw ourselves together, packed a lunch, and headed off.  It must have been field trip day because the zoo was jam-packed with elementary school kids.  We had a great time, got a little sun, and thoroughly wore ourselves out.

That evening, we headed to Red Robin for dinner with my parents and siblings.  The food was good and the company was better!  We came back to our house for cake and ice cream and presents.

I made this cake for my birthday.  Image (and recipe!) courtesy of
My parents got me the greatest present.  You see, my dad gave my mom and sister Miche bags for Christmas, and I was SUPER jealous.  My mom told me, "Well, your birthday is in a few months; maybe you should ask for one."  So, I looked at the catalog they had and picked out what I'd want.  Then, I totally forgot about it...until I opened the box and saw my beautiful new purse!  They got me the big bag (perfect for carrying all of my crap and my kids' junk--no more need for a purse and diaper bag!), two beautiful shells (this one and this one), and some accessories.  I'm spoiled.

After cake and ice cream, we played the greatest game:

We were seriously peeing our pants laughing.

It was the greatest day.   


The Best Me I Can Be

I had an eye-opening experience last night.

In an inadvertent way, I found out how someone in my husband's family views me (I'll give you a hint--it wasn't pretty).  Now, this really isn't anything new.  My battle to fit in with Cole's family has been constantly waging since we were married nearly 5 years ago.  What was so different this time was my reaction to it.

Usually I withdraw into my little depressed shell, hate myself a little, and wonder why I can't seem to figure out what I need to do to be accepted by Cole's brothers and his parents.*

*Disclaimer: I promise it's really not that terrible all the time.  There have been a few incidents that have been PRETTY bad on both sides, but usually it's just me reading too much into what is or isn't said to me at family gatherings.  I fully acknowledge that I have a flair for the dramatic.

This time, though, I thought a bit deeper before jumping into the depression whirlpool.

Anyone that knows me is aware that I can be very negative, caustic, and critical at times.  I'm not sure where it comes from; the rest of my family isn't really like that.  This has created a number of bigger problems in my life, including, but not limited to, my situation with my in-laws.  This aspect of my personality clashes with some of the members of Cole's family and causes the conflicts over which I spend so much time stressing.  It also has created massive insecurity, self-doubt, and low self-esteem (because I myself am usually the target of all my negativity and criticism) and a tendency to gossip.

Mostly, I'm the nastiest person in the world.

So, last night when I realized that my husband's family member (well, probably all of them, but there was only proof of one) saw this personality flaw of mine all too clearly, I was already starting the perpetual descent into depression when I had a thought that stopped me in my tracks.

Sunday it was my turn to do Sharing Time in Primary.  We were talking about Jesus being the perfect example, and I prepared a game for the kids called "If I were Jesus, what would I do?"  One of the situations was, "My friend started to say something bad about another friend, so I..."  The kids and I had a mini discussion about why saying mean things about others was wrong and that Jesus definitely wouldn't do it.

Last night, I realized I should have had a huge HYPOCRITE sign taped to my forehead during this conversation.  It was extremely humbling and thought-provoking.  I realized that I'm supposed to be an example to these sweet children in Primary.  Even more, I'm supposed to be an example to my OWN children.  I don't ever want them to think that it's okay to say unkind things about each other, their friends, their cousins, or anyone else as long as it's not to their faces.

My birthday is this Friday.  I'll be 26--closer to being 30 than 20.  I'm getting older, and the time for me to change my evil ways is diminishing.  So, I decided that I'm going to make a birthday resolution this year (since I never make New Years' resolutions).

Basically, I want to significantly reduce (if not eliminate altogether) the amount of time I spend criticizing others.

Since I'm like the Anakin Skywalker of gossip ("the force is strong with that one") I know it's not going to be easy.  My first impulse in most situations is to look for something negative.  So, if I find myself thinking a negative thought about someone else, I'm going to instead say out loud something positive about that person.  If I find myself wanting to gossip about another person, I'm going to say three positive things about that person instead.  I'm hoping that this will help overcome my impulse to always have something negative to say.

When I discussed all of this with Cole last night, he asked me why I wanted to blog about it since it's such a personal matter.  I told him that my desire to change wouldn't work if I wasn't accountable to someone.  By blogging about this resolution, I'm making myself accountable to anyone who reads this blog.  So, I'm asking a favor from each of you: if any of you hear me start to say something negative about someone else, I give you permission to remind me of this resolution in any way you see fit, even if it means punching me in the arm.

I think I found the reason for my being called to the Primary: the simple, straightforward teachings make it the best place for a stubborn, hardheaded soul like me to learn how to be the best person I can be.


Thankful Thursday: My Firstborn

Conversation between Kyle and me, which happens roughly 39486720394 times a day:

Mom: "I love you, Kyle."
Kyle: "I love you more."
Mom: "I love you most."
Kyle: "Yeah." *smiles*

(Thank you, Tangled, for that one!)

I love this little cheeseball so much!


Breastfeeding and Me, Part III

I intended on concluding my reflection of breastfeeding with the last post, but I realized while responding to comments that I still had a lot of things to talk about, primarily about breastfeeding in public.

In sum,  

I will breastfeed anywhere, anytime, no matter who's around.

This means that I have breastfed Lucas pretty much anywhere you can imagine.  Here are some of my favorites:

--the waiting room at the Oquirrh Mountain Temple.  My brother Daniel chose to go through to receive his endowments when Lucas was about two weeks old.  I didn't want to give him a bottle at such a young age (I was TERRIFIED of nipple confusion), so Cole and I brought the kids along, and my sister watched them in the waiting room during the session.  

--Walking through Wal-Mart.  This is one I'll never do again...my arms got WAY too tired.  Also, I used my sweatshirt as a cover for this one.

--on TRAX.  Cole's brother Adam got married two months after Lucas was born, and his rehearsal dinner was downtown.  We rode TRAX.  Two-month-old Lucas got hungry.  I fed him.

--Any number of restaurants.  I went with my mom and sister to drop my youngest brother off at the MTC, and we had lunch at Red Robin before he reported.  I nursed Lucas there.

--Sacrament meeting.  I didn't feel strongly about going to the mother's lounge.  Besides, during the summer, ours has a tendency to smell like dirty diapers.  Yuck.

--Young Womens.  Right during the lessons, right next to some of the girls.  No one even batted an eye.

Since I've been fortunate to stay home with my kids, I haven't really ever had a feeding schedule for Lucas.  He's been able to eat whenever he's hungry when we're at home, so why should I try to put him on a schedule if I have plans to go somewhere?  Why should I pump milk and take it with me when he can get it straight from the source?  Typically, I don't see the need to find a quiet place to sit down and nurse, because usually, that takes longer than feeding Lucas does--he's kind of a snacker these days (although I do see the merit in finding a quiet spot removed from action and noise, because sometimes, Lucas is also easily distracted.  Plus, it's just nice to have peace and quiet with your baby).

Does this mean that I "whip it out"* anytime I feel like it?  Of course not.  I have said before that I almost always use a cover.  I can think of only two instances where I have nursed uncovered (obviously, this does not include in my home, my parents' home, or the mothers' lounge at church--all places I feel a cover is unneccesary).

Instance 1: Lucas was about two months old.  We were at the Payson city public pool, where my grandparents throw an annual end-of-summer swimming party.  My bathing suit was of the halter-top variety, so it was easy for me to untie it at the neck, pull down one side, and feed Lucas.  However, it was windy, and, no matter what I did, I couldn't get my nursing cover to stay put.  I panicked just a little bit, but my mom, ever supportive, told me, "Just feed him without the cover.  No one's paying attention anyway."  So I did.  And, as far as I could tell, no one was paying attention.

Instance 2: This happened just two weeks ago.  Kyle was at Primary Children's Hospital.  The staff only allowed two adults in the room at a time, and I was sitting in the waiting room while Cole and my dad gave Kyle a blessing.  Lucas did his familiar "Mom, I'm hungry" whine and started "assuming the position."  Unfortunately, I had forgotten the diaper bag and his blanket in the hospital room with Kyle.  Lucas can be fairly impatient, so rather than risk the entire hospital hearing the sounds of his hungry wrath while I went to get his blanket, I fed him then and there. 

*interjection: this phrase has always amused me.  It makes it sound like I wield my breasts like a Wild West gunslinger--"You feelin' lucky, Lucas?"  I assure you, there has never been any "whipping" of any kind.  In fact, I'm sure that would be rather painful. 

For me, nursing uncovered is the exception, not the rule.  I feel much more comfortable keeping my business my business, if you know what I mean.  But, in these cases, the needs of my child superceded my need for comfort.  Fortunately, it wasn't really a problem in these two instances.

SO glad this hasn't happened to me!

This is exactly how I'll feel when it's time to wean Lucas
Where is the strangest place you've ever nursed a baby?


It's Our Life!

Once again, Cole has come to blog. Let me start off by saying that as I get older I become more open about what I am thinking about. As our blog gets great response I want to share my thoughts today. Now as this blog is meant to be directed towards family, I would love to get some opinions from outsiders.

Jessica, Kyle, Lucas and myself are currently very happy and are in a very good spot on our journey through this life. I in no way take them for granted and I will forever be with them. I feel the love of my wife and kids every day. I do not speak for my wife, but I would say that she is very proud of me and the choices we have made together.

As I sat through conference this weekend, I thought long and hard about my life and my family. In Priesthood session President Monson was talking to the young single adult males and said something like this: young single adult men should not put off getting married for the fear of certain troubles. He did mention disagreements, in-laws, and most important finances. He said that finances should not be a reason not to get married, but is in most cases how you grow closer to each other. This is exactly what has brought Jessica and me together through these last five years. Yes, we have had many trials that most people could say they haven't had to go through, but financially we have always struggled. But, this I say has brought us closer together as a couple almost more than anything else. We always have what we need and hardly ever what we want. My needs are my wife and two beautiful children.

*****DISCLAIMER: I in no way am saying that we have it harder than anyone else, there are people we know that have gone through 10 times more, this is just our experience. *****

This brings me to my next point. I am happily employed for Adobe who is outsourced by Teleperformance. I love my job and have no plans in the next 2-3 years to leave this job! I work for Teleperformance as a hourly paid agent, and am employed by Adobe with my commissions. I am happy with my compensations even if they are not socially accepted as responsible for a family of four. I have been told multiple times that I am not in a job where I can support my family, that Jessica should work too, and that I should seek something better. To this I say, this is none of anyone's business except Jessica, myself and the Lord. We have not made any decision lightly and always seek confirmation from the Lord through prayer. This is very personal and should not be debated in extended families; it is with everyone their own between husband and wife. In completing this thought I want everyone that has ever doubted me in my choices or who looks at me and says, "I wish he was doing this differently," that I am doing just fine, I have never let my family go without, never disappointed them, never done anything that has not been for their benefit.

I am now working 6-2:30 Monday through Friday and enjoy coming home and having more time with my family. The main reason for my early schedule is to facilitate me going back to school starting May 16th, 2011, and continuing until I have a degree in Sales and Marketing. To this I always get the "Are you sure you can go to school full time and still support your family?" or "That looks pretty hard to take 8 credit hours and work full time. I think that is too much for you." School has never been my strong suit, and I have given it up on more than one occasion after being inspired to focus on a career and supporting my family. Now is the first time that I have ever felt that I could do both and received a confirmation that it is right. Also, I will be attending Salt Lake Community College, and am not ashamed to be going there. Where you go to school does not matter; you do it for you the way you want to do it. I have chosen to get school done through SLCC and any further schooling the the University of Utah (although I am a BYU fan). That is what I have chosen to do for my education and that is my business and mine only; no one especially family members should question why, when, where or how.

The last point will be brief and just say how I feel. I am sure there will be blogs to come on this subject. My wife is a stay at home mom! Jessica has been staying at home with the kids for more than a year now, and we decided this together through much prayer and consideration of all of our options. We in no way should be criticized for this choice based on how much I make and how we are financially. Just because we don't make a certain amount doesn't mean the wife should go back to work. When Jessica and I were both working and with only one kid without a house we had more trouble financially than we do now that our income has been cut in half and we have a house payment to make. Yes, we make less and have less issues financially and in our marriage. We have learned to budget, and are in a better position now. I strongly do not feel that every mother should stay home as our situation does not work for everyone. So in no way am I saying that all women should stay in the home. I want to make that clear as I have very many wonderful family members who work outside the home for various reasons and are wonderful women. As for us, Jessica staying home has been the best thing for us and for our kids, and we should not be criticized for doing so.

To wrap up I just want everyone to know that if we lived in another state away from all family we would be just fine, just as we are right now. I do not want people to continue to underestimate us in our lives, we are strong in our faith and stronger in our love for each other. That is all that matters. Maybe people should focus on loving each other for who they are rather than judging them for what they are doing.


Breastfeeding and Me, Part II

I had some pretty strong opinions about breastfeeding (particularly in public) when I wrote this post.  Now that my perspective has changed, some of my opinions have softened.  However, many of them have stayed exactly the same.

I have nursed Lucas in lots of different places, with and without a cover.  If you had asked me two years ago, I never would have thought I would be okay with nursing in public without a cover.  For the most part, I do prefer to use something--I'm not a fan of feeling "all out in the open."  But, meeting my child's needs is and will always be my first priority, and sometimes, that means I nurse uncovered.*

*Side note: Cole is still not comfortable with this choice of mine.  Fortunately, I'm usually prepared and have at least a blanket to use.

That being said, I've still never experienced discrimination when breastfeeding in public.  I've never received dirty looks--actually, I've never even noticed if I HAVE gotten any looks.  Cole is usually the one who points out if someone was staring, and by then, we're not in the same place anymore and the point is moot.  I've never been approached by anyone.  I've never been asked to leave.  If I found myself in any of these situations, I still feel that the best way to handle them would be through "open dialogue, consideration, and compromise" (as I said two years ago).

My opinion changed somewhat on the issue of formula-feeding.  Now that I know I can breastfeed, I will accept nothing less for the rest of my children.  Does this mean I think formula-feeding is bad?  Not at all.  I will NEVER belittle, criticize, or think ill of any woman who formula-feeds her baby, either by choice or by necessity.  For ME, however, it's not an option.  I do have to be careful, though, because sometimes I get a little complacent.  Sometimes I find my knee-jerk reaction at seeing a mom giving her baby a bottle to be a little judgmental, or even smug: "That poor mom.  I wonder why she's giving her baby a bottle.  I'm SO glad I don't have to do that."   I mentally slap myself whenever I do this: "You don't know her or her situation.  She is doing what is best for her and her baby, and you have no right to judge her" (yes, I might be a touch schizophrenic).  This mental conversation takes all of a couple of seconds, and when it's over, I'm able to admire the unselfishness and commitment that is motherhood in any form.

Anyway, I love breastfeeding.  I love that Lucas makes the funniest sound when he wants to nurse--it's part yelling, part laughing, and part coughing.  I love that the one sign he does semi-consistently is "milk."  I love that if I'm holding him on my lap and he wants to nurse he tries to lay down and "assume the position," as Cole calls it.  I love that even though he really likes eating solid food, he still wants to nurse after eating to wash it all down.  Even though sometimes it's a pain to get up at night with him, and sometimes I wish I didn't have to share my body, I still wouldn't trade this experience for anything.  It's worth the pain, the time, the effort, and the lost sleep.

Wait, does that say what I think it says?
Yes--yes it does.  Courtesy of Grandma, Papa, and Aunt Nennie

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