Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in review

my favorite photo of 2011

i love the end of the year -- it's fun to reflect on what we've done, and plan ahead for a new year. 2011 could have been a lot scarier if i didn't have my faith and my family to rely on, and i'm grateful for that. as a family we did a lot of growing and learning, and i think it was good preparation for future curveballs down the road. after starting out 2011 with a completely blank slate ahead of us, i'd say we ended up in a pretty good spot.

a look back at 2011:
[see also: recaps from 2008 | 2009 | 2010]

can't wait to see what 2012 has in store for us! let's just hope it doesn't involve the apocalypse ;) 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

christmas 2011: the gifts

we definitely had a handmade trend going on this year for christmas gifts. probably my favorite present this year came from my mom -- a raincoat, made from scratch (and amy butler fabric) for my first seattle winter! read more about how she made it here.

my favorite present to GIVE went to b. i was inspired by my friend paige when she turned her blog into a book for christmas last year. genius! i've been blogging regularly here since 2007, so i thought it would be fun to make a book of my own. 

i used blurb -- they have software that's super easy to download and use. blurb just sucked up my blog, and i ended up with 800+ pages from ONLY the posts from 2007 and 2008! oy. it took me probably 5-6 hours to go through and edit all the photos and text, but i got it down to 200 pages. it was sooo hard not to say anything to b as i went through and read all my old posts -- there were so many happy, funny and special memories from those years. i felt super nostalgic while working on this project. 

i finally got everything the way i wanted it and made my order -- the book arrived less than a week later! i was THRILLED with how it turned out. i feel like a real author, something i've actually dreamed of becoming since i was a little girl. little did i know i'd publish my memoir before i wrote a novel :) blurb is the best. can't wait to create the 2009-2010 book in the next few months. 

i also made jack a stocking this year. my mom helped me with it over thanksgiving break and i was pretty happy with it. [b told me i was forbidden to cross-stitch it, like my own stocking from my mom, because that is too applique was our middle ground.] i still see flaws every time i look at it, but i hope jack loves it & uses it his whole life the way i've loved mine. 

for jack, we stuck to our three gifts rule. we got him a tool kit, some tiny toms, and brown bear brown bear. he is pretty much obsessed with all three. he also got a handmade rocking horse, made by b's grandpa -- it is a work of art and jack rides it at least 20x a day.

oh, and we also got THIS bad boy. i feel like such an idiot whenever i try to use it -- it's soooo complicated. sometimes technology is hard. 

we were so blessed this year. sometimes i think presents are silly because all i really need to be happy is b, jack, and a good batch of cookies -- but it's pretty fun to get a new roll of washi tape in my stocking too.

 hooray for the 2011 wells family christmas! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

a utah christmas

we're back from a quick 5-day utah christmas trip! i think i'm still recovering because whenever i think about taking jack on an airplane [which, unfortunately, is happening again in less than 3 weeks] i start to feel nauseous. flying with a 12-month-and-under kid is WAY easier than flying with a 12-24-month kid and that is all i have to say about that.

but anyway! our christmas was awesome. i'll have more photos later -- our family gift this year was a new camera, but i don't really know how to use it and/or remove photos yet -- so stay tuned. in the meantime, here's how jack looked the majority of christmas morning:

jack is the most patient, grateful little gift-opener ever. he'd say "ooOOOHHhhh!" or "whooooa!" at each new present we pulled out for him, then would sit quietly waiting for us to open it before inspecting the new item closely. he's so cute and christmas is more fun every year with him around. 

other highlights of the trip included:
-- freezing my A off at zoo lights. i never want to do that again. the zoo is NOT fun when it's 21 degrees -- it literally took me 18 hours to warm up.
-- planning my day around food. my first full day in utah involved blue lemon for brunch, sweet tooth fairy for lunch and cafe rio for dinner and it was DIVINE. also that new city creek center in downtown SLC is fabulous.
-- talking to my brother [currently living in mexico for 2 years] for an hour on skype and planning all the movies we're going to watch when he comes home in april.
-- game night w/ all of b's family...those people know how to party.
-- church ON christmas day. i thought it might be a little weird to take a break from our christmas morning festivities to hit up church, but it was actually awesome -- such a nice way to focus on what the day is all about.
-- finally seeing my proactiv commercial! ha. it came on during a band of brothers marathon on spike.

more to come, especially about how we almost had to sell a kidney just to get our christmas presents home. stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

santa is a communist

on friday, jack and i joined a group of local bloggers on a fun little seattle outing which included a visit to macy's santaland. i didn't have high hopes for a great santa meeting due to j's reaction at the reindeer zoo, and those hopes were exactly correct. as soon as we got close to santa, jack started shaking and whining and grabbing my arm in a tiny toddler death-grip. i couldn't bring myself to be one of those moms who throws their screaming child onto santa's lap and hops away, so i obliged and sat in the photo. even then we ended up with a hilarious shot.

notice his little hands clutching me for dear life. oh jack. i don't know where you get this from. [actually yes i do. i still tear up and feel nauseous when i have to get close to someone in a character costume -- mickey mouse, chuck e cheese, cosmo the BYU cougar, you name it. hopefully i can defeat this phobia before jack's first disneyland trip.]

Monday, December 19, 2011

jack and violette

looks like our awesome neighbor luck is holding strong. right after we moved in, i noticed a little girl around jack's age walking in our complex once in a while with her mom. we started talking one day and i invited them over to play, and the rest is history. the little girl [violette] is jack's BEST friend. i mean, not that one year olds can play favorites, but just by sheer proximity i'm pretty sure she is his fave. violette & her mom, monica, moved to WA the same time we did and live right in our building, three floors down. we see them usually every day -- either a scheduled play date, a babysitting swap, or just out getting the mail. every time we go outside, jack walks over to the door that leads to their staircase and throws a fit if i won't let him go downstairs. having a playmate who lives one minute away is super convenient, especially when the dads are working late or traveling -- and when you happen to live in a place where you need lots of indoor activities.

i'm so, so lucky to have made a great friend right here in my neighborhood, and these kiddos are way too cute together. watching them run and play and scream and giggle together is the most adorable thing on the planet....these pictures speak for themselves. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

not blonde.

there's a hashtag on twitter [if you don't know what a hashtag is, go here because i don't want to say it again. i have to explain this to b and my mom on a regular basis] called #firstworldproblems and it makes me laugh. basically people share all these totally inane "problems" that only spoiled brats in first-world countries would have. and now i am one of those people. this is a story about my current first-world problem.

a few weeks ago i needed to get my hair done baaaaad. i hadn't found a new hair stylist yet in washington and i was desperate! i started asking around and got a bunch of expensive recommendations, so when another friend said her hair stylist made house calls and charged less, i was excited. i made an appointment even though i'd never gotten my hair done at home before. eh, might as well save a buck.

things started going wrong when she rinsed out my foils and got peroxide in my mouth. gross, but nothing a few spits & rinses couldn't handle. then she put toner on my hair and it started to burn. i've been dyeing my hair for 12 years and i know that is not normal. we rinsed real quick and i was good to go. then, at the end of our 3-hour session, she straightened my hair [she DID straighten my hair well, i'll give her that] and i looked in the mirror hair was my natural color.

i wanted to keep my same blonde color [is it blond or blonde? we're going with blonde], JUST fix the roots. that is all. not complicated, right? so when this chick highlighted my hair her own version of "blonde" and spent 3 precious hours on it [and a good chunk of change] i was NOT happy. ugh. see for yourself -- before [left] and after [right].

bah. i thought about having her fix it but she was booked solid for another 2 weeks, plus it would take another couple hours out of my life. so instead i'm just living with it, and going to see my CA hair stylist when we visit in april. at least my roots won't show before then since they will be the SAME color as my hair! wah wah.

there you have it, my silly story. i realize in the grand scheme of things this is NOT a big deal. i'm lucky to even HAVE hair. but it annoys me nonetheless.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

german town

all right, here it is -- my post about leavenworth. i still feel queasy when i think about it so i'll make it quick.

leavenworth is a tiny german town up in the mountains, about 2 hours from seattle. we love anything german, and had heard that they do a big tree-lighting thing for christmas each year, so going seemed like a slam dunk. we drove up saturday [after jack got the most atrocious haircut of his life -- that should have been a sign that the day was already doomed]. jack napped in the car, we saw sunshine, b and i discussed zombie invasion and the benefits of living an agrarian existence. life was good.

then we got up into the clouds again and it was downhill from there. the town was small and cute and definitely german-esque, but it was CROWDED. and COLD. jack wanted nothing more than to run free, but that was impossible because the outside was freezing and crowded and the indoor shops were full of breakable knick knacks and crowded. he had a complete meltdown while we were waiting for the tree lighting. everyone around me was shooting hateful glares our way and jack kept trying to punch me in the face and b was using up all our camera battery and i was OVER IT. i took my screaming child and bolted for an enticing german restaurant.

we grabbed a table in the back and met up with the davises and ate tasty food. this is what i ate. [still can't talk about it.] and by "ate" i mean "attempted to shovel giant bites in my mouth while chasing a stir-crazy toddler all around the restaurant." the big highlight of dinner was barely saving jack from being trampled by our cranky waitress, carrying a tray of overflowing beer steins. it was crazy and i do not wish to ever go through something like that again.

sometimes: toddler + public = total nightmare. but the lights were pretty.

and then we drove home (in thick fog, with a very awake kid, fearing a deer collision at any moment) (please note -- b was a very safe driver and the deer thing was completely my own imagination) and fell into bed exhausted. and as if the day could get ANY better i woke up 4 hours later with food poisoning. the end.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

reindeer zoo

i had a horrifying realization the other day. 2011 will end in just a few weeks and i've only posted on this blog 94 times. that is the LOWEST number of blog posts i've written in a year since i started in 2007. [by comparison, i posted 197 times in 2008. i seriously miss sitting at a desk all day.] i mean, i knew i'd have less time once a kid came along, but i'm disappointed in myself. i still want my blog to be a decent documentation of my day-to-day life! so, i'm going to try to post more regularly during the next two weeks and hopefully we can top 97 [the official number of 2010].

anyway. last friday we went to the cougar mountain zoo! as zoos go, this one was pretty much non-existent. ha. it's super tiny, but it has its benefits: 1.) nestled right up on the same mountain we live on, 2.) does a big santa-and-reindeer thing each year, 3.) did i mention it takes me 4 minutes to drive there? in my ongoing quest to check out all the christmas-y things seattle has to offer -- a quest that ended abruptly on saturday night; see also: food poisoning -- jack and i rounded up our bffs and made a trip to the zoo.

jack, emery & violette were bundled head to toe and could barely walk. it was totally cute.

we saw some reindeer, but they were kinda tiny. and homely. "rudolph" had some type of reindeer disease and his antlers were all screwed up. the kids were unimpressed. also, the reindeer pen led right up to santa's house which was more like a den of horror for jackal. he flipped as soon as he saw the man in red and wouldn't let me put him down. wah wah.

actual highlights of the zoo? the tigers. also a little statue park with life-size bronze animals. who needs real animals when you can crawl all over fake ones?

we've been really lucky to make some good friends in washington already. [unfortunately -- or fortunately? -- for jack, all his little friends are girls.] violette, emery and jack play together really well and always get so excited when they see each other. and lucky for me, their moms are awesome and so fun to hang out with. i get excited when i see them too :)

overall, it was fun. and FREEZING. seattle is suuuuuper cold. i mean, i lived in utah for 6ish years of my life, but for some reason i feel like i've never been as cold as i am here. that's for another post, though. anyway. we probably will not visit this tiny zoo again, but it was fun to go and see santa and all the holiday decorations.

the end.

Monday, December 12, 2011

slow start

gotta love mondays when you don't get in the shower until 2 p.m. i spent half the weekend laying in bed wishing i'd never heard of german food [thanks to a lovely bout of food poisoning] so this week is already off to a slow start.

but that's okay. jack and i have been hanging out and we even did a winter craft [see above] [brought to you by no time for flashcards, my fave new toddler site]. i had to keep him from eating glue most of the time, and he preferred sorting & dumping cotton balls in & out of the jar, but he was really good at sticking them on the paper.

anyway. we've been doing a lot of fun christmas-y things lately and i'll have more info on that once i manage to get my life back together. i'm so glad i got sick on a weekend so b could take care of jack and i could stay in bed [between this weekend & the relish subscription, b has earned major bonus points around here lately] but dang. moms can't have a sick day without the house going to pot. my goals for the afternoon: clean the house & go to the grocery store. tenacious, i know.

Friday, December 9, 2011

meal planning: the epilogue

wow! talk about blogging making a difference. thank you thank you for ALL your amazing comments on my post yesterday -- it is so good to know i'm not alone in my meal-planning hatred. seriously. i read everything you wrote and felt a million times better.

and then i felt a ZILLION times better because i have the best husband on the planet. last night b came home from work and said "i read your blog. i'm going to give you one of your christmas presents early." and he handed me a printout with a subscription to relish on it.

two weeks ago, b bought me subscription to a meal-planning site! ha. apparently i have either a.) made one too many bad meals lately or b.) talked about my hatred for meal planning a liiittle too much. or c.) i just have a really thoughtful, caring hubs.

so, FYI to all my fellow planners -- relish is A-MAZ-ING. for reals. i was skeptical at first and would probably never have bought this for myself, but b already paid for it so why not? i watched their little intro video and now i'm hooked. you pay to sign up and then every week they give you 15 menu options (entree + side dish), with info on meal cost, prep time and nutritional info. you pick the ones you want, specify how many portions you need, and they put together a shopping list and all the recipes for you in one pdf. they even have options like freezer meals, slow cooker, vegetarian and kid-friendly. all the options sound pretty yummy -- we'll see if they pass the rigorous lyndsey+brandon taste test. [b got a deal via living social, but the regular monthly subscription prices are super reasonable.]

and yes, i feel a little silly PAYING for someone to do this for me [karla, i'm talking to you!] but hey. time is money. i just spent 15 minutes completely planning all my healthy, homemade meals for the next week. the 1 hr 45 minutes i DON'T have to spend, plus all the stress & anxiety involved in a typical week, were toootally worth paying a couple bucks a month. (and these recipes actually sound good.) plus it was a christmas present so who cares!

anyway, just wanted to share. maybe you guys should add a 3-month subscription to your christmas lists! ;) and thanks again for being good friends and making me feel like i'm not the only one who hates to feed her family sometimes.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

meal planning sucks

when i was growing up, my mom cooked dinner for us every night. that was the norm. she meal planned, coupon clipped, grocery shopped and cooked -- my dad came home from work at 6 p.m. and we all sat down to eat together. so i have spent 27 years thinking that's what moms do.

annnd now i'm ready to quit. since we got married, i've tried to follow my mom's example. i totally believe in preparing home-cooked meals [as opposed to eating pizza or warmed-up frozen meals every night] AND in eating together as a family every night, and i'd like to continue doing those things. but seriously -- it is hard.

i completely DREAD saturdays when my planner says "plan menu." i loathe combing through recipes week after week after week. i've tried cookbooks, food blogs,, friend & family recommendations but i feel like i'm starting back at scratch for every meal. finding something both b and i like is difficult -- i prefer salads & don't particularly need to eat meat every meal; b likes comfort food & thinks it's NOT a meal unless there are copious amounts of meat -- and i'm bad at keeping track of which ones succeed.

also, finding time to prepare dinner is tough -- my day is already pretty busy, so i don't have tons of time to research & prep recipes, plus it's universal knowledge that all children turn into demons between the hours of 4 and 7 p.m. so all my cooking time has to fit into a 30 minute episode of mickey mouse clubhouse or i'm screwed. trying to make dinner is hard enough when you don't have THIS guy pulling on your leg:

oh, and did i mention i'm not the best cook? so there's that.

anyway, after devoting more time that i should to planning & preparing a stupid meal, i finally get a semi-well-balanced dinner on the table close to the time b comes home from work and i feel sort of proud of myself -- and then b says he doesn't like it. UGH. [to his credit, he probably likes 3 out of every 5 meals i make...but he dislikes meals so frequently that my mediocre chef pride takes a hit anyway.]

take last night, for example. i made chicken taco salad & quesadillas [we need to eat a lot of salad right now because for some reason i bought a 6-pack of romaine lettuce at costco, seriously what 2-person household needs that much produce?!] and b wouldn't touch the salad. which was mildly offensive to me also because that salad is one of my faves and i literally ate it for lunch every day i was pregnant with jack so it's basically family. i felt like i was living with TWO toddlers.

now i'm starting to think maybe we should just all have separate dinners. i already make two each night, since jack is hungry around 5 and b doesn't get home till after 6. why not just eat with jack and make b fend for himself if he's so picky?

i know a lot of my friends don't meal plan, or they have their husbands cook, or they don't worry so much about dinner. maybe i'm trying too hard to push my mom's round-peg example into my square-hole life and should just give it up. should i make b start cooking his own meals? should we trade off? or is it my motherly duty to just suck it up and meal plan the heck out of the comfort foods i despise?

so...i guess i need help. any tips or suggestions on dealing with dinnertime? seriously. we need it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

look who's facing forward...

this guy!

after an extensive facebook survey and much research, we tapped cyber monday and got the kiddo a new carseat. he loves it. and i love seeing that cute face in my rear-view mirror.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

christmas with kids

b and i put our christmas tree up this week. we spent monday night decorating it [a beloved fake tree, purchased at target with leftover wedding gift cards three months after we got married & used every year since] and putting out all of our decorations.

the next morning jack woke up and could barely believe his eyes at all the exciting new things in our apartment. he spied the advent calendar first and inspected every number. then he went around the corner and saw the TREE. oh it was hilarious. i wish i had gotten it on tape. he checked out all the ornaments, poked the lights, said "ooooohhhhh" at every new piece. that tree has become his favorite toy and he played with it every day this week.

he especially likes this wooden nativity scene, made of wood blocks & mod-podged stickers. i made it in 2008 at a church activity. i thought it was kinda chintzy but everyone around me kept saying, "oh, but your kids will LOVE it." of course i had no children then, and i was typically pretty bitter toward being surrounded by a zillion babies at all times. and, of course, i had chosen not to have kids for the time being -- b and i wanted a few years to get settled and work and do our own thing before babies came along, a choice that i felt [and still feel!] strongly about. but i knew that i REALLY wanted kids, when the timing was right, and sometimes it just wore me down that i was the only one on the planet without a baby. or at least i felt that way.

fast forward 3 years and here i am, with a little toddler of my own who absolutely adores those silly blocks. especially when he can stack them up. christmas really IS more fun and magical with children in the picture, just like i've always heard, even if that child is only 17 months old and thinks the only purpose of a christmas tree is to provide raggedy andy-shaped teething rings. those few years of waiting for us to be ready for jack were tooootally worth it, because life with him now is awesome.