Too bad I'm not a professor...

Because that would be a good reason for me being so absent minded.

Tonight- I did it again...
I RSVPed to a party and didn't show.
I HATE doing that and I do it all the freaking time.
Not that I don't want to go- I DO!
Even today, I left Kate's riding lessons early to make dinner early to get out of the house early to be on time to the baby shower. Jimmy knew what I was doing. And we both forgot!

It was only at 9:30 that I realized what a total space cadet I was tonight.
I get into the groove: make dinner, clean kitchen, feed baby, help with homework, brush teeth, read scriptures, family prayer, kisses goodnight. It is only when I sit down to rest from the day that it dawns on me what I've done.
I write it on the calendar. I receive email updates. I had a friend text me just hours before asking if I was going- I said yes!!!

Does anyone have a cure all for this problem?


I love free stuff!

The library in our town has a really cool program. The program encourages Napa residents to go out and explore local museums. 'Local' to them is all around the Bay Area- including San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Rosa and here in Napa.

Wanna know how it works?! On the Library website, there's a link to the Discover and Go page. On that page, you browse through available dates and choose the day you would like to go out. Then, you choose a museum. After choosing a museum, you print out FREE passes and go! That is it. Why is it only NOW that I am learning about this program?!?! There is the option to go to museums that cost almost as much as Disneyland per day! There is a wealth of culture and here am I ready to soak it all up. I cannot wait to go to my first museum! Now how to choose...



Poor Kate was put to work today.
She had no school because of the earthquake and inspections being incomplete.
Most kids her age spent the day lounging.
My kid helped me scrub down the entire kitchen. As in, empty every cupboard, scour the insides and return items in an orderly fashion.
The one time she complained, I gave her a hard time because there are kids in the world who don't have houses to clean.
Seriously?! I used that line?
I think I was having just as hard of a time completing the task that I didn't need negativity. One little comment pushed me over the edge.
Who really likes scrubbing out dirty cabinets? No one- is the right answer.
You know what, though? Working hard with my daughter is one of my favorite things to do with her. She is funny.
She is smart.
And, goodness does she spill the beans about everything when she's bored while we're working. Bonus points: we have something clean or built or baked in the end. I am thrilled that my ten year old is not typical for her age. She works alongside me and has since she was a toddler. Starting when she was three, Kate would help me serve at funerals for members of our congregation. I could truck that kid along anywhere I went. And I feel that the level of our relationship has increased each time we've used good old elbow grease. She is not afraid to get her hands dirty, that girl. I am proud of her. I hope that she has at least some fond memories of growing up in our family.
Because it's an awful lot of work.



Today was a trying day. No school because of the earthquake yesterday. And we had my in-laws' sleep at our house last night because their house is uninhabitable right now. It was fun to have a sleepover, but going to bed was really difficult for me. To be honest, I was terrified when it got dark last night. I didn't want to wake up to rumbling again. The earthquake hit at 3:20 am. Baby woke up last night to eat at 2:30am. While she was eating, I kept watching the clock. I had major anxiety watching each minute pass and grow closer to the same exact time of night the catastrophe hit 24 hours ago. I lived, though. I made it past 3:20 and was able to fall back asleep. But the previous day was exhausting- emotionally and physically. We spent most of today just taking shifts sleeping. I thought for sure I would get a ton done. But doing laundry proved to be disastrous when the spin cycle hit. I jumped up so fast thinking another earthquake was coming. The anxiety was not worth the clean clothes. I just keep thinking in midst of mundane tasks, "What if it hit right now? Where would I stand? Could I get to the kids? Would the glass shatter? Where is Jimmy?" I feel like my peace has been taken away from me. I know it will return in time. But the night is coming and that is when I get most scared. Here are some shots of downtown:



We were jolted awake this morning by a 6.1 earthquake rocking the Napa valley.
It was scary.  Jimmy and I jumped out of bed and went to get the girls. I was standing in the hallway under the doorjamb waiting for Jimmy and could not for the life of me go and get Vivy. My past history with earthquakes has caused me to be paralyzed with fear when it comes to quakes. I was shaking so much that I had to send Jimmy to get the baby. Kate and I just huddled in the door way waiting for him to come back. Then we walked all together to get shoes. And then all together to get on appropriate clothes. Then all together to try and call family in town. I was holding Kate's hand tighter than she had mine. Out of the whole family, I was being the wimpiest. Nothing had fallen in our house, so I thought that maybe I was overreacting. When we finally got ahold of Jimmy's parents, we realized how very untrue that was. Their house was in complete disarray. All of their dishes had broken and book shelves were toppled in each room. They were nearly trapped in their beds by all the fallen debris. We tried to fall back asleep for a few hours with no luck.
When morning and light came, we sprung into action. I took a shower because power had returned and Jimmy got in his suit to go to the church and help Bishop. We all got in the car fully loaded car to help those who needed it. Kate and I dropped Jimmy off at the church to do bishopric responsibilities and went on to serve. We checked on many different families and gave food and water, comfort and hugs. We ended our humanitarian trip at my in-laws'. There we found this:

Those are just a few pictures of the damage they suffered. Kate and I spent the day helping clean everything up. They did not have power all day. Fortunately, everyone was safe. Honestly, all the people we checked on were unharmed. What a huge blessing! I am glad that we were able to help. I don't want to experience any more earthquakes. No thank you.



When I planned the food for the first night of the retreat, I also planned dessert. I had decided to do my old chocolate mint standby. Those cupcakes are delicious. But when I went to the store to get cake mixes, there were not enough boxes of chocolate to make all the cupcakes I had planned to make. So I hastily put two boxes of yellow cake mix in the cart and moved on. When I went to the jam/jelly aisle, I was hoping that inspiration would kick in. I vacillated between raspberry preserves and blueberry jam. Then.. off to the side I saw a jar of Nutella. Ooooh... I think I could do something with that! I came up with a new creation that I have to say is now one of my favorites!

Below you will see
yellow cake with Nutella filling, caramel buttercream, caramel drizzle and buncha crunch topping.
I know, right?!



Well, I'd like to think I learned a lesson today. Here I am going to wax all poetic. Our Relief Society holds a retreat every year. I look forward to this event immensely. This year was no different. Part of this retreat is eating good food that is cooked by different sisters each meal. I signed up for Friday night dinner. For different circumstances, each of my committee members were not available to help with any of the food. There was just something that kept us all from working together. It turned out that I ended up preparing everything. Normally, that would have been easy for me to do, but with a new baby it takes extra time to do everything. Fortunately, Jimmy and Kate were so helpful and I was able to get the car loaded just in the nick of time. I was so frazzled and angry, to be honest. I had tried my best to ask for help, but the people I asked were not flexible. It was quite frankly frustrating because I rarely ask for help.
When I started driving down the hill my thought process went from livid to thoughtful.
In preparation for the retreat, I had talked to many sisters who were planning on attending. In each case, their week was particularly difficult. I thought this: that is probably because the adversary did not want us there. He did not want me to be fulfilled spiritually and feed my friendships. Upon realizing that this weekend would be fantastic if I let it, I started to change my perspective. I started the drive to the retreat in a total dark cloud and came out the other side with a clear mind and grateful heart. In a total aha! moment, the speaker that evening said, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." It was such a blessing to be at the retreat that night. The food was great and I didn't even get upset when the committee left without helping to clean up. Talk about a change of perspective!



My friend Carla and I went to Larry's Produce this morning. Larry's is always inexpensive, but occasionally there is a screaming deal on produce that is past its prime. Today, Carla and I were looking in the fridge section for berries with no luck. Then, I saw a man walk past me with two large containers of blueberries. I hunted down an employee of the produce stand and asked where I might find the blueberries. He directed me to the entrance, where the deals of the day hang out. I saw a swarm of people huddled around a pallet of blueberries like vultures. I joined them, of course and grabbed 2.5 pounds of blueberries for fifty cents! The only catch was that each container had a few berries with mold growing on them. I inspected the clear package carefully seeing if it was worth the sorting required. And then I chose two to take home and treat for consumption. I was so jazzed about the deal that I excitedly shared my find with Carla who promptly picked up two containers also.

When we got back into town, Carla mentioned that she was not willing to pick through all the blueberries and gave her baskets to me. Maybe that girl was onto something...

Later in the evening, I had a ton of work to do in the kitchen. Whenever that happens, our family goes into what I like to call 'battle mode'. We hunker down at the table, I make a list of things to be done and divide it into appropriate jobs. My sweet family has always been so good about pitching in to get everything done quickly. One of the items on Jimmy's list this time was to sort, wash and freeze the blueberries in the kitchen. While I had been in the dining room hollowing out cupcakes to be filled, I came into the kitchen to Jimmy obviously unhappy. Before him was a mammoth pile of blueberries to one side a tiny bowl with maybe one dozen blueberries on the other side. He looked at me and in all seriousness stated, "This is the worst job you've ever given me."
In what was probably the most insensitive moment I've shared with that man, I laughed out loud. He was not amused. I took over and started sorting the berries in Jelly Belly mode. What is Jelly Belly mode, you ask? Well, the Jelly Belly factory runs a tour where you can go through the factory and see how the jelly beans are made. The most tedious job on the planet falls to the 'bean sorter'. This person sits in a chair and watches a conveyor belt of miniscule jelly beans go by and picks out all the duds.
That was me. I should have timed myself. It was actually kind of fun. Jimmy just sat next to me at the table and would stare at the pile of blueberries and grumbled. He would periodically grab a bad berry and plop it in the dud pile. His worsening mood made me try even harder to cheer him up. So I said, "Jimmy, we just got $50 worth of blueberries for one dollar!!! All I have to do is put in the work to sort the berries. Isn't that great?!"
He got up from the table and responded, "I didn't go to college so you could do this."
My sweet husband has been having a hard time lately. He is frustrated with the non response to his job hunting. I am not exaggerating when I say that he has applied for at least one job every day, except Sunday since he graduated over 2 years ago. Every day. Would you like to know how many interviews he's had? One scheduled, then they cancelled. Student loans cost a lot of money, folks. And so this man's frustrations stem from the fact that he went to school to better our situation and now it is worse than before he went to school because of the loans. We are pretty much living in Catch 22.
It pains me to watch Jimmy do everything he can to no avail. Those are not fighting words- they are true. He has done EVERYTHING. Jimmy has done the following things:
-Had his resume professionally tailored
-Gone to the church offered job services in Concord and Oakland
-Sent out 15-20 resumes weekly
-Prayer. Lots and lots of prayer
It has been hard on him. I admire this man. Because I watch him being so persistent and not getting anywhere. I honestly don't know how he hasn't gone crazy yet. But I contributed to pushing him over the edge when I asked him to sort blueberries. This trial of our faith is a doozy. I think that's our style. Just think, we had another doozy waiting for baby to get here. Going through that TEN YEAR wait was near torture! It wasn't just waiting, either. It was praying, fasting, crying and so many other things to make us stretch. I look at Vivy's face everyday and know that the wait was worth it. In fact, now that I know her, I would've waited even longer. And so, now I am sorting blueberries and buying meat on sale and making do just waiting for things to change financially. For things to go our way. I am guessing that when the waiting is done, it will all be worth it.


How's breastfeeding going?

Just recently, I got up for a middle of the night feeding. I usually feed Vivy sitting up in bed, completely uncovered by the blankets because I get so hot. This particular night was no different. I situated myself and baby and threw the covers back over Jimmy. And then, a HUGE (like, bigger than my thumb huge) potato bug scuttled out from under the covers!
Oh my gosh! It was disgusting!!! I have no idea how it got there, but that lack of knowledge did not keep me from screaming like a 40 year old Italian man being waxed for the very first time. Jimmy hopped into action in a sleepy stupor. He worked quickly and quietly and promptly went back to sleep. The whole rest of the feeding, I went through all the scenarios in my head of things that could happen while I was nursing a baby and was rendered helpless.
It was that story inducing manic brain that Jimmy confronted in the morning, "What in the world were you freaking out about last night?" he queried.  
"What do you mean?! It was only the biggest potato bug that ever lived crawling out from under the covers to eat me!!"
He went on to deny the freakish manner in which the night passed because he hardly remembered anything. My man can sleep with the best of them.
Fall asleep sitting up? He's got that covered.
Doze off in the middle of a conversation? Jimmy's your man.
And now he can add to his illustrious sleep resume 'can dispatch of freakishly huge bugs without an iota of fear'.
I know Jimmy took care of the potato bug in his sleep, because seeing that man try and conquer a spider in the day time is like living in a sorority house...


Recipe Quest

Tonight we had a three ward RS activity. The exact kind I like- bring some food, share it, gab and go. The ladies of the church are so busy that they rarely get an opportunity to just sit and talk. My husband might tell you another story, but I'm right.

When I went to the activity tonight, finding food to fit the healthy eating plan I'm trying to follow was like hunting and gathering. It didn't help that Vivy screamed while I was trying to plate up. Fortunately for me, there was an abundance of kind women there that offered to make my plate and hold the baby. It was nice that they had my back :)

One of the salads I tried was so delicious. My favorite of the night, actually. It had raw cauliflower, spinach, almonds and avocado. It was a strange (to me) and delicious combination. I liked it so much that I started asking around who had made the salad. It became the mystery of the night! From each table, I received a different answer as to who had prepared the yummy salad. One table directed me to a total stranger (whom I now call friend). Another group sent me to the woman I had been sitting next to all night. I felt really silly when I asked that lady if she had made the cauliflower stuff because, hello!,  I had already talked her ear off about how immensely I enjoyed the salad and she hadn't stopped me to say she made it. Wasn't hers.

There was another brilliant woman that suggested I watch to see who took the bowl home. With my smarts, you'd think that I would have thought of that. I was in a cauliflower fog, I tell ya. Watching the green plastic bowl for it's owner lasting a whopping 37 seconds before I had a crying baby begging to be changed. And wouldn't you know it? The bowl disappeared while I was changing Vivy's diaper!

Upon noticing that the bowl was gone, I practically yelled, "Who took that bowl?!" pointing to the empty space on the table that had previously held such treasure. A kind woman stated, "Judy Bernards"

And then I realized I had the answer all along. I knew I should've recognized that bowl. Judy brought us dinner after we had the baby. The dinner she made was delivered in THAT bowl. And the dinner she delivered was delicious and healthy- just like the salad.
Silly Stephanie... usually I am a pro at putting the pieces together. But I was rusty tonight, folks. All due to one memorable salad, of which I shall be posting the recipe the moment I track it down. Wish me luck!


Homemade Raviolis!

Jimmy and I are doing another Great in 8 Challenge- so white flour is off the menu. And since you ask, Yes- the program is going well. I lost 6 pounds in the first week!!!
Onto the menu:
Kate wanted ravioli. I wanted ravioli. Jimmy didn't care.
Do you know of a place one might buy whole wheat raviolis?
Neither do I.
So we made some. With our awesome pasta crank that is so fun. Especially because this time around, I wasn't pregnant and it wasn't over 100 degrees in the kitchen. Welp, that makes for a fun time making your own pasta!

We stuffed it with light string cheese- tasted great and the cheese was ooey gooey.
The best part, in my opinion, was the sauce. Fresh garden tomatoes and basil.
Hungry yet?



2 months old!

Vivy had her two month check up today.
You know, the one with the shots.
The one where mama cries more than the baby.

It pierces a mother's heart to coo at her baby all the while knowing a sharp object is about to penetrate their soft angel skin. Vivy's face turned from toothless grin to absolute horror in a flash. And she was purple. I have honestly never heard my baby scream like that- and she is vocal, I've heard a lot of screaming from that child. The worst part was not the screaming. The screaming was just plain mad. The most difficult part was when I got to hold her and she stopped screaming and just kept whimpering. It was then that I did my crying. I don't want to do that ever again. No never. But the doctor informed us that it would be required at the next visit too... no wonder people hate the doctor's office- it starts at an early age.

Her stats reflected the very active and fast metabolism my little Vivy has.
Her birth weight- 82% (8 lbs. 10 oz.)
Current weight- 31% (10 lbs. 10 oz.)

Her birth height- 73% (20.25 in.)
Current height- 51% (22.5 in.)

We have a tall and skinny. Kate is tall and skinny. I like fat babies- rollie pollie little things. The chubbier the better. But this one does not stop moving. At all. Vivy kicks in her sleep and triple while she's awake. Fortunately, the doctor confirmed that baby was healthy and eating enough (not many 2 month old babies eat 6oz. every three hours) she just moves all the dang time. Won't that be fun in toddler form? Already nervous about it, folks...
Here she is matching Nana totally by accident. 


Survival of the fittest

Because I am a beast when it comes to competition, I am either all in or all out. Yesterday, I chose all in. I decided that it being Kate's first day of school that I would use my time to take the baby on a hike up Westwood Hills. Now, these hills I am very familiar with. I love hiking them. Profusely. I have found the most difficult of combinations among the windy paths. And the most simple. In the past I have always chosen the tricky route to challenge myself. I had gotten so good at the paths that it almost became too easy. And it is with this mindset that I faced the hills today. Silly, silly girl. You see, the last time I hiked Westwood Hills, I was at my most fit. I hadn't had a baby in almost a decade. My skin was as taut as it was ever going to be, which is still a little saggy. But not 7 weeks postpartum saggy. And the most exercise I have done in the last 6 months prior to this week was to peel myself off the couch to get more ice cream.

It is the saggy skinned ice cream eater that took to the hills today, friends. I started out strong. My music was playing, baby was sleeping in the front pack and there was a slight chill in the air. My strength lasted for the first fifty feet. After that, I kept stopping. At first it was to pretend to adjust the baby or check the volume on my headphones. Towards the end I had maxed out my energy so that the 'just checking things' charade was replaced by my huffing and puffing in a manner that I am sure was all kinds of unattractive.

It is when the man with a cane surpassed me that I nearly gave up entirely. Let me repeat myself: man with a cane. Yes. It is true. He stopped to check on me and offered me some gum. The sweet man noticed my heavy breathing and said, "The sugar free gum keeps your mouth from getting dry when you're breathing like that." I know he was trying to be nice, but to point out my breathing?! You can't make this stuff up... I am living in a sitcom.

All embarrassment aside, I finally made it to the top! The baby was still sound asleep despite my panting. We both did well. I survived. The coolest part was walking down. Every person I passed said the same three things in the same order.
1) Good Morning! (it's a friendly place)
2) How old is the baby? (two months)
3)  Good job for getting out here so soon! (thank you. Thank you very much)

It was nice to get validated. And I even promised some of those folks I would see them the following day. I just hope I can survive that long...


First day of school!

Little Miss Kate is not so little anymore!
We got to take our girl to her first day of fifth grade today!
I will openly admit that this morning was absolutely crazy- I have gone from one kid to five kids to four kids to two kids (for now) and say that this is the hardest. Most likely because one of the children is so dependent. Despite the flustered morning, we still got to school on time. I cannot make any promises for the following year...