Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 in review

Some (just some) of my favorite memories of 2008

(But just the memories. What that means is that this particular entry will be less peppered with the wordy explanations than perhaps you have come to expect on this site. Enjoy--but don't get used to it.)

(BTW-if you go here, you'll see that I did exactly the same thing last year. I wonder if I'll do it again at the end of 2009. I guess we'll just have to see.)

January-Going to our ward's annual Primary pancake breakfast in my pajamas and dragon slippers, and having all the children stare in awe and envy at my awesome footwear.

February-Calling Eric from work* after taking a pregnancy test that turned out to be positive and hearing his happiness. Then telling our parents, who were even more excited about it than we were.

March-Spending several glorious days in Alabama, being in the same house with Heidi again-having the time to really chat and laugh and play. Possibly my best birthday ever. (I tend to have awesome birthdays, so that's saying something).

April-Getting to the second trimester of pregnancy! Being able to eat again! Feeling human again! Having good health again!

May-Sitting on the San Francisco Ferry Pier, not waiting for the ferry, watching Eric feed exorbitantly priced cherries to the local seagulls.

June-Seeing friends I hadn't seen in months at the annual I&S campout. (No, I didn't camp out. I have a rule about camping while pregnant, and the rule is that I only do it for the Corry Reunion.)

July-Talking and giggling (I did all the giggling) with Eric in our new tent while the rain and wind raged outside at the Corry Reunion.

August-Going miniature golfing with my sister's kids as they came through town.

September-Sitting in my hospital room with Eric when they brought Heather up to us from the NICU**, twelve hours earlier than we thought that would be happening. It felt like Christmas morning.

October-Feeling an added measure of peace as I watched and listened to General Conference.

November-Participating in special family prayer (primarily on behalf of my father who had just been diagnosed with cancer) as we gathered for Heather's Baby Blessing.

December-Singing "Angels we Have Heard on High" at the rehearsal for our Ward Christmas Program, and feeling the Christmas Spirit in a way that I hadn't felt all year.

Another glorious year.
My cup runneth over and over and over.

*Yes, I took a pregnancy test at work. At the risk of providing TMI, basically I didn't think it would be positive, but there was a chance that it would be. So, I picked up a test on a lunchtime grocery run. I was pretty surprised, to say the least.

**I don't think I ever mentioned this here. Heather spent about 20 of her first 30 hours of life in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit due to a problem she had keeping blood sugar up to a safe level. She's been absolutely fine since then though.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Eric is smarter than I give him credit for (and definitely smarter than I)

A little background is probably in order for this post.

Shortly after we were married, Eric told me about this new book that he had heard about (while eavesdropping at Borders). It was gaining quite a bit of popularity, had won an award from Amazon.com, and although it was primarily written for teen aged girls, it was interesting enough that it appealed to people of other ages as well. The only thing was, it was a book about vampires.

I, with my overactive imagination (and having had to sing myself to sleep for about a month when I was ten years old because I saw the play "Dracula" and wasn't quite sure whether or not vampires were real), was rather wary of said book, and it took some convincing (like about a month) before Eric convinced me to read it. (A book he has never read, I might add). I eventually read all four books in the series, and although I was disappointed in the last one, for reasons I won't go into here, I very much enjoyed them.

Okay. Now that you know all that, I give you the following two conversations:


Scene I: The car. Eric and Charlotte are heading over to Donna and Steve's house, where they will be leaving Heather while they (E&C) attend a temple session. On the way, they pass a movie theatre.

Charlotte (wistfully): You know, I still haven't seen Twilight. I wonder if I'll get to that before it leaves the theatre.

Eric (completely non-comittally)(is that a word?): Huh. Maybe.

Charlotte (not giving up): Well, you know, I'm sure most of my friends have seen it by now, since it's been out for awhile. I wonder if your mom has seen it yet . . .

Eric (realizing where this is going, and starting to line up his defense): Hmmm. . . I don't know. What about Donna? Surely she hasn't seen it. Who would she go with?

Charlotte (with a touch of surprise): Well, Donna does have other friends besides me you know. I'd be kind of shocked to find out that she hasn't seen it yet.

Eric (reflectively, and with a certain amount of resignation): Actually, even if her other friends didn't want to go to it, I could see her being able to talk Steve into going to it with her.

Charlotte (seeing the window of opportunity that she knew would come around if she just kept the conversation going long enough): Yeah, Steve's a good guy. What about you? If I wanted to see it before it goes to video, would you go with me?

Eric (not exactly reluctantly, but not exactly excited either): Well, I guess so.

Charlotte (graciously triumphant): Thanks! We'll see though, maybe I'll be able to work it out some other way.

Charlotte & Eric arrive at the home of Donna and Steve, and our scene ends.

* * *

Scene 2: The front landing of the home of Donna & Steve. Charlotte & Eric have finished the temple session, have collected Heather, who is quite pleased to have spent a glorious three hours with her favorite adopted Aunt & Uncle, and all three are in the process of leaving. Somehow, the conversation turns to that movie, Twilight.

Charlotte: Oh--(looking at Donna)--Have you seen it yet?

Donna: Yes.

Charlotte (with a touch of discouragement): Rats! I haven't seen it yet. What did you think about it?

Donna (good-naturedly)(is that a word?): It was okay. I'd see it again.


Eric (to Steve): Did you go with her?/Charlotte (to Donna): Really?

Steve: Yeah./Donna: Sure.

Eric (to Steve): What did you think?

Steve (with the authority of one who knows his vampires): It was okay, but not at all realistic.

Donna (smiling): Yeah, Steve kept pointing out the inconsistencies throughout the movie.

Eric (chuckling, seeing his own window of opportunity, while simultaneously being grateful beyond measure for the turn Steve has allowed this conversation to make. ): Oh yeah? Like what?

Steve (again with that aforementioned authority): Well, Vampires can't go out in the sun, they disintegrate. Also, they can't see their reflection in the mirror. They never go out during the day . . . (we will cut this response short here, but there were many other inconsistencies. etc. etc. etc.)

Eric (with suppressed excitement): Oh right--of course.

Charlotte (realizing that Eric would almost surely spend the vast majority of the movie analyzing it and/or making fun of it if she were to persuade him to see it with her, thus making it infinitely more entertaining for himself, and infinitely less enjoyable for her): So uh Donna, you'd really see it again?

Donna: With you? Sure.

Charlotte (with relief): Great! Maybe we can go when we get back from Christmas. Eric can watch Heather and we can have a girls' night.

Donna (warmly): Sounds great!

Eric is silent, but he and Steve exchange knowing glances. If Eric could do so inconspicuously, he would be rubbing his hands together, saying in his "sneaky voice", "My plan is working!"

(Okay-not really. Eric wouldn't rub his hands or say that, I'm not even 100% sure that he actually had a plan, and he and Steve did not exchange knowing glances as far as I know. You do have to admit though, all those details make the story better. So, as author of this blog, I am taking a bit of artistic license.)

And that my friends, is why Donna will be seeing Twilight for the second time, probably within the next week or two.

* * *

We had a good Christmas. We traveled in safety, spent some fun time with family, and enjoyed many different facets of the holiday. Of all my gifts, my favorite was a CD that Eric put together for me. He went through the trouble of thinking up 13 different songs that he thought I would like, downloaded them from Amazon.com, and then burned them onto a CD for me. I love it. Of all Eric's gifts, I think his favorite is one of the (three) books that I gave him. He basically told me that he wanted it, and where I could get it, so it was no big surprise to him when he opened it. That's okay though. I'm a big fan of surprises, but Eric doesn't really care either way.

As for Heather, she got a new sleeper (made by my expert mother), and a mobile which we haven't opened yet. She doesn't mind waiting though. She slept through most of the holiday anyway. All that sleeping included a NINE (yes, NINE) hour stretch on Christmas night (I can only attribute it to mom's magical sleeper). It was my own personal Christmas Miracle.

And I think that's enough for now.



Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

"I knew what he was when I picked him up"*

A few months ago (pre-Heather), Eric and I decided that we should move the computer from the "man room" upstairs to what passes for our dining room- downstairs.

(We made this decision because we figured that Eric would be spending quite a bit of time on the computer with his schoolwork, and that he would be able to be more involved with our growing family if the computer was housed in the main living area of our home. Our figuring turned out to be correct, and I'm grateful that we made this decision.)

When we (and by "we" I mean Eric, since I was under lifting restrictions at the time) moved everything downstairs, I said to my sweet man, the man I love, the man I've pledged to stand by through thick and thin and storms and sunshine,

"Now, this desk and stuff are in the main area of our house. We can't close the door to this room, and it's probably going to bug me if this becomes all cluttered and everything, so I'd like you to keep that in mind."


I present you-the southwest corner of our dining room:

yes, that is a hanging lamp (among other things) you see under the desk.

Oddly enough, I'm only marginally bugged by all of this. I think that's a good sign, considering that I'm less than a year away from having a toddler underfoot. And let's be honest. Given the choice between living with Eric and his clutter, and living without Eric in a home that is as semi-organized as I usually keep it . . .

I'll choose Eric every single time.

(In the interest of fairness-I must admit that at least three items of clutter in the picture above are there because that's where I left them.)

Happy Monday to y'all.


Many years ago, Indian youths would go away in solitude to prepare for manhood. One such youth hiked into a beautiful valley, green with trees, bright with flowers. There he fasted. But on the third day, as he looked up at the surrounding mountains, he noticed one tall rugged peak, capped with dazzling snow. I will test myself against that mountain, he thought. He put on his buffalo-hide shirt, threw his blanket over his shoulders and set off to climb the peak. When he reached the top he stood on the rim of the world. He could see forever, and his heart swelled with pride. Then he heard a rustle at his feet, and looking down, he saw a snake. Before he could move, the snake spoke: “I am about to die,” said the snake. “It is too cold for me up here and I am freezing. There is no food and I am starving. Put me under your shirt and take me down to the valley.” “No,” said the youth. “I am forewarned. I know your kind. You are a rattlesnake. If I pick you up, you will bite, and your bite will kill me.” “Not so,” said the snake. “I will treat you differently. If you do this for me, you will be special. I will not harm you.” The youth resisted awhile, but this was a very persuasive snake with beautiful markings. At last the youth tucked it under his shirt and carried it down to the valley. There he laid it gently on the grass. Suddenly the snake coiled, rattled and leapt, biting him on the leg. “But you promised—” cried the poor youth. “You knew what I was when you picked me up,” said the snake as it slithered away.

(reference courtesy of the family of AA msn group http://groups.msn.com/FamilyOfAA/youknewwhatiwaswhenyoupickedmeup.msnw)

Friday, December 19, 2008

A (virtual) Christmas Card - just for you

I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to Christmas Cards. I LOVE to receive Christmas Cards. As I receive them, I tape them to the door of our coat closet (see side photo), and so all through the month of December, the first thing I see when I arrive home is a glorious reminder of our friends and family, and lots and lots of love.

However, thinking about sending Christmas cards to all those that I love and care about . . . It Stresses Me Out!

So, this year, I did things a bit differently. I took some fun pictures of Heather, and had one (actually three, but that's a different story) of them made up into those photo greeting cards that you see everywhere. I sent the cards to our parents and siblings. Then, as the Christmas cards have rolled into our mailbox, I've sent out cards to those people who have sent them to us.

This sounds kind of petty, doesn't it? I don't mean it to be. Honestly, I don't think I have the attitude of "if you don't give me one, I'm not going to give you one" in my heart. It's just that when I think of stuffing, addressing, stamping, and sending 50 or so of these cards, it feels like a mountain that is too big for me to climb. To be honest, I don't want to feel that way during this glorious season.

On the other hand, taking 5-10 minutes every night to address 2-3 envelopes while I'm still basking in the glow of receiving news and good wishes from friends and family? That is something that I actually enjoy doing, and keeps me in the spirit of the season.

So, for those of you who (also) get stressed out by Christmas cards, or are running a little late this year, or for whatever other reason haven't happened to send us a card this time around (and thus haven't happened to receive one from us yet), these pictures are for you. May you have a joyous (stress-free and guilt-free) Holiday Season, and "May God bless us, every one!"

This just might be my favorite. Take a gander at that belly!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Tamales

Every year I make tamales at Christmastime. Other people make gingerbread houses. I have tried to make a gingerbread house exactly four times in my life, with exactly four fiascoes. I have resolved never to try again, but you never know. I am quite certain that I won't be trying again until Heather is old enough to ask me why we never make gingerbread houses like all the other kids.

Anyway, here's the tamale recipe. For your reading enjoyment, at the end of the recipe there are some photos and helpful hints as well.

Oh-and you might wonder where I learned to make tamales. The fact is, I learned to LOVE tamales when I was an LDS missionary, but I learned to MAKE tamales through trial and error (lots of error) over about 10 years.

(recipe taken from side of the "Maseca for Tamales" bag, and then adapted to my liking)

4-5 lbs boneless pork loin or shoulder (you may substitute chicken or beef)
Tamale Dough (see below)
2 or 3 pkgs of taco seasoning mix
1-2 tsp of red pepper (this can be omitted if you don't want the extra kick)
1 ½ cup water
1 bag corn husks

Put meat in crock pot, covered with water and cook on low overnight, or until very tender. Remove inner pot from heating element, and refrigerate until ready to make tamales (1-2 days max). Remove from refrigerator. Skim fat. Warm up broth in microwave to use in dough. Put pork in a fry pan with the water, taco seasoning, and red pepper. Simmer until pork separates and looks like shredded port (see picture). Turn temperature to very very low, and let simmer while you make the tamale dough. (see below).

Soak corn husks for a few minutes (I just fill up one side of the kitchen sink) and rinse well. Spread masa evenly (and thinly) over corn husks with the back of a spoon. Place a line of meat (about 1-2 Tablespoons) down the center. Fold both sides to the center, fold bottom up, and crease. Place in steamer. Cover with lid or a wet cloth and steam until dough appears to be set, 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Makes one large stock pot full of tamales (approx. 45-50 small)

6 cups of maseca for tamales
6 cups of lukewarm broth or water
3 tsp. Baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
2 cups lard of vegetable shortening (I ALWAYS use shortening)

Put shortening in kitchen aid, beat until fluffy. Add Baking Power & Salt, and then alternate water and Maseca. Beat until dough has a spongy texture.
* * *
That's the end of the recipe, and now here are the
Helpful Hints

Helpful Hint #1:
If you happen to own a sweatshirt featuring your favorite professional football team, this is a good time to wear it. Of course, you'll want to cover said sweatshirt with an apron (preferably a yellow one), so you don't get it splattered with pork juice or tamale dough.

Helpful Hint #2:
Playing your favorite Christmas music while making the tamales makes the tamales turn out more tasty. Trust me on this one.

Helpful Hint #3:
Put a glass of water on the strainer as well as pouring some water into the bottom of the pan. It helps you have more steam.

Helpful Hint #4:
If you can get the Kitchen Aid, the fry pan with the pork in it, and the stock pot with the strainer all in a line, it speeds up the assembly process significantly.

Helpful Hint #5:
Here are some pictures of the whole tamale assembly procedure. I guess this isn't really a hint, but I think it's probably pretty helpful.

Final Helpful Hint (#6):
It's WAAAY more fun to make tamales if you do it along with a friend or family member. (If the family member happens to stay awake during it all, so much the better.)

And there you have it. All is well with us these days. It's been snowy and cold, but we have a warm home and superb people that surround us on every side. If that's not enough to keep us toasty, I don't know what is.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Good News Moment

Every Sunday, at the beginning of the Relief Society Meeting in my ward, we have what I believe is called the "Good News" moment. I assume that many of you have it in your ward as well (since they have it in my mom's ward, and if it's going on in Cedar City and Cache Valley, chances are, it's going on elsewhere as well), but just in case you don't (or in case you're a man or you don't happen to attend LDS Relief Society for some other reason), here's a brief explanation.

Basically, after the opening song and prayer, but before the practice song and lesson, anyone who has any good news to share (generally from their own personal life) is invited to raise their hand and share it. My ward is primarily made up of shy-young-mothers and bold-older-grandmothers, so the good news moment in our ward is generally dominated by news of whose grandson just received his mission call, or whose granddaughter was named Valedictorian of her high school class. Since I work with the Junior Primary and not the Senior Primary, I get to attend Relief Society, but most of the time I get there too late to participate in the good news moment. Honestly though, even if I was there, I would probably feel too shy to raise my hand and share any news I had.

But, today I have some good news. So, without further ado, I present to you:

Charlotte's Good News Moment

Good news #1: My brother (the one that tried to rope me a month and a half ago) called on Friday to tell me that he was able to get 8 tickets to the production of Wicked that is coming to Salt Lake this spring. He then offered two of them to Eric and me. Nice.

Good news #2: Within the next two weeks, I will be able to spend quality time with Heidi, Phil, & Eden from Alabama, Scott, Lindsey, Caleb, Paige, & Will from Minnesota, and Douglas, Maegen, & Daxton from Ohio. Also, quite nice.

and finally

Good news #3: Over the weekend Heather slept for seven consecutive hours on two consecutive nights! "Nice" doesn't even begin to cover it. How about Hallelujah! Joy! Rejoicing! Jubilation!!

As you can tell, all is well with us. We had a nice weekend, and I'm looking forward to a good week. Happy Holidays.

ps-if you have some good news and want to join in, feel free to leave a comment and share it here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

buckets of fun (ahead of schedule)

This is the post where I update the world on Heather stuff (as much of it as I feel like sharing anyway.)

I can't remember if I've written about this or not, but in our kitchen, we have a large cork board, filled with pictures of fun times that we've had, mostly with family. The board used to contain pictures of nearly all of our nieces and nephews, as well as several of me and Eric. Lately it's become the "all-Heather-all-the-time" board, but that's another story.

Anyway, if you'll remember back a few months, you might recollect that while I was pregnant, I was rather apprehensive about how much I would be able to endure, much less enjoy being a mother to our little baby. The fact is, I am much more of a toddler-lover, and much less of an infant-lover. I've never been one who just had to "hold the baby", but I have been one who absolutely revelled in singing "The Wheels on the Bus" (over and over and over again), and reading stories, and playing "Duck Duck Goose". To put it more succinctly, I love three-year-olds. Newborns, not so much.

So, during my pregnancy, there were times, many of them, where I would sit at our kitchen table, and look at that cork board. I would see the pictures of our nieces and our nephews, and I would remember the fun, quirky moments that I had enjoyed with them most recently. Then, I would tell my (apprehensive about motherhood) self,

"Charlotte, if you can just endure through those first two years of babyhood, then you'll have a little kid that you'll be able to play with, and things will really get fun. Just hang in there."

Well, I am thrilled to report that Heather got fun ahead of schedule. She's always been sweet, and priceless, and a treasure to me. Now though, she's a sweet priceless treasure who giggles and talks (at least she thinks so), and wriggles around in joy several times every day. She's a sweet priceless treasure that I can hardly wait to see every morning. She's a sweet priceless treasure that is more and more showing me what she likes and doesn't like, what she is and what she isn't. She's my sweet priceless treasure, and I am absolutely loving being her mom.

I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again. I had no idea it would be this good.

* * *

And with that introduction, I give you some of our most recent Heather shots.

Entranced by the robot collection. One day, little girl, this will all be yours. (Unless you get a little brother at some point. If that happens, you might have to settle for your mom's collection of Trixie Belden Mysteries-all 100+ of them.)

Kami do you remember this blanket? You helped me make it.
Actually-Kristi (G, not B), didn't you make one using the same material?

I know this one's blurry. I love it anyway. What an expression! Joy! Let's Party! Yippee!

That's my girl.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

this one's probably only interesting if you're my parent or sibling

For my mother, who sewed these stockings and mailed them to me so that I could decorate them and relive the joy of having Christmas stockings almost exactly like the ones I grew up with.

Thanks, mom.

Incidentally, how weird it felt--putting "mom" on my stocking instead of "Charlotte". I wonder when I'll get used to thinking of myself as "mother, mommy, or mom". It might be a while.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Room for George

As I was lying in bed this morning, after having participated in the 4:30 a.m. Heather feeding, I got to thinking about this blog. Specifically, I got to thinking about the fact that I haven't done a "conversation post" in quite some time. I started thinking back over the different conversations Eric and I have had recently, trying to think of one that was blog-worthy, and I'm sorry to report that I came up empty. That's not to say that Eric and I no longer converse, because we do. We converse all the time, and I don't mind telling you that Eric and I are a team of comedic geniuses. Seriously, we crack ourselves up at least twice a week, and often even more. Unfortunately, I've learned that cracking ourselves up and cracking up the population at large are two different things, and I just can't bring myself to inflict our own brand of humor on you today. You're welcome.

I got our Christmas decorations up over the weekend. I've been feeling in the mood for a more simplified Christmas this year, and so I left about half of the goods in the storage tote(s). I also abandoned the giant bushy 7-foot artificial tree that breaks Eric's back to take out of the attic, and then takes an hour or so for me to get it out of the box and assembled, after which we both spend the month of December tripping over it because it's really much too big of a tree for our rapidly shrinking living room.

Instead I went for a skinny 6-foot model that I found for $20 at my local Wal-mart. It fits my favorite ornaments, and (as you see below) we still have room for the rocking chair, as well as our dear friend George, the 5-foot alligator.
And that's the news for today. I'll leave you with a picture of one of my favorite Christmas decorations (which is why it's out and not in the storage tote in the attic). My mother gave me this set a few years ago. I loved it then, and now that I have my own baby, I love it even more.

'Cause really, does anyone think that the Baby Jesus spent all that much time actually in the manger?

Not a chance.

Note to all you who basically check here for the Heather pictures and nothing more--stay tuned. I'll be posting some of the latest shots in a couple of days.

Actually-speaking of that, that was one of the big surprises to me. Before Heather was born, there were 7 people subscribed to this blog on Google Reader, and one follower (thanks, Amanda). Almost immediately after Heather was born, the Google Reader count shot up to 15, (and is now at 23), and the followers group has grown to five. Who know that adding a baby to our family would make us so much more interesting?

Sunday, December 07, 2008


My papa and two doctors who I thought had shaved their heads in a show of solidarity, but my brother tells me that they just happen to be naturally bald.

For those of you who haven't heard (and care to know), my father was diagnosed with Stage 1 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma a bit over a month ago. He's started chemotherapy, and the prognosis looks really good. It was hard news to get of course, but we're all pretty optimistic about the whole thing.

Anyway, on Saturday the local newspaper where my parents live did a feature article on my father, his cancer fight, and what he (with my mom's help) has generally contributed to the community over the past several years.

He is, as you might imagine, embarrassed about all the attention, and I am, as you might imagine, proud as punch.

If you're interested, you can read the article here.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Whiskers on Kittens

A few of my favorite things

Emptying the dryer lint trap-especially if it's on the full side: Don't ask me why I like to do this. It's weird, I know. What can I say? I really enjoy it.

Bath and Body Works Bubble Bath: No other bubble bath is quite as good. Unfortunately, it's like liquid gold. Nine dollars and fifty cents for a not-all-that-big bottle! Aagh! That's like buying 4 gallons of milk! Of course, perhaps that's why I like it so much. Remember how I used to like Cafe Rio until it became too accessible to me?

Burping Heather: She gets the cutest look on her face, and her head bobs up and down as I pat her back. It's especially fun if she's a little on the sleepy side. When that happens, she reminds me of a drunken sailor (not that I've ever seen a drunken sailor, come to think of it), and I just laugh and laugh.

Fuji Apples with Peanut Butter: Mmmm, mmmm. Deeee-licious! Eric (bless him) found a deal on Fuji Apples a few days ago, and so there's plenty and to spare and share. Come on over.

And that's what I have for today. This afternoon Mr. C. and Heather and I are taking the young men in our ward to Salt Lake to see the Christmas lights on temple square there (the young women are coming as well)(there will be other adults helping out as well). I think it will be fun. I love temple square at this time of year, and the boys in our ward are, to a man, absolutely darling. Of course, that's our little secret. We all know that the last thing a teen aged boy wants to be is darling.


Monday, December 01, 2008

Distracted Driving

So, Heather and I made the 300 mile trek back home today. As I drove, I would look back every 30 minutes or so to check on my girl. This is generally what I saw:

Let's not even discuss just how much willpower it took for me to turn my eyes back to the road, okay?

(No, I did not take this picture while I was driving. I took it the moment after I had parked in front of our house.)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Under Surveillance

So, Friday morning, I'm gathering up all the last minute things that I need to gather so that Heather and I can head down for our Cedar City extravaganza. As I was gathering, I unplugged the baby monitor (the transmitter) in Heather's room, and put it in the diaper bag. I then proceeded to get Heather dressed for the day. Suddenly, as I'm looking at little contented Heather lying there on the changing table, I hear a baby cry. Talk about confusing. I give Heather a double take, trying to figure out how she's crying without opening her mouth, and while smiling. It makes no sense whatsoever.

(Incidentally, did you notice that I used the word (or a derivative of the word) "gather" three times in the preceding paragraph? That's got to be some kind of record.)

Come to find out, the baby monitor (receiver) was still on downstairs, and since our transmitter was turned off (something that hasn't happened in the last two months), it was (I'm assuming)
receiving the transmissions of the baby monitor belonging to the couple who live two doors down from us. They have an 18-month old you see. An 18-month old who apparently has only recently begun sleeping through the night. I try not to to think about that so much.

Anyway, since yesterday morning, I've been wracking my brain, trying to remember what things I may have said or sung in Heather's room with that monitor on. We live in a townhome community, and so baby monitors (and babies) are a fairly common commodity. I wonder if any of our neighbors have heard me singing to Heather, or telling her stories (some of them kind of embarrassing ones from our family history). I wonder if they've heard me use the monitor as kind of a walkie-talkie to send one-way messages to Eric downstairs. Who knows? I haven't noticed anyone giving me strange looks as I take out the garbage though, so we might be in the clear.

One things for certain though, that monitor is going to be turned off a little more frequently now.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gratitude, Family, and Food (and soccer and lightening)

This morning Heather slept from 3:30 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. What a beautiful Thanksgiving treat for me. Thanks, little girl.

Anyway, as I was lying in bed, feeling decadent around 7:24, I got to thinking about the different Thanksgiving memories I have.

Thanksgiving is an interesting holiday. I have pretty distinct memories of the different ways I've spent the day, and every year it's been a little bit different. Most of the other holidays, I more or less do the same thing every year, and it's more or less in the same place. Christmas used to always be in Cedar City, now sometimes it's in Logan. The Fourth of July is always here, with fireworks, often a barbecue, and sometimes a hike. Easter, Valentine's day, Halloween, all of the others, generally celebrated one year about the same as the previous. Not Thanksgiving though. Oh, there's (almost) always a great turkey dinner, with homemade rolls (my favorite) and several different varieties of pie. But, for all that is always the same, there's quite a bit that varies.

Last year I spent the holiday here, eating with Eric's side of our family, and watching Eric show his robot designs to the nephews.

The year before I spent the day in Paris, eating far too much French food with Tayneshia.

Then there was the year that we all loaded up and headed to my brother's two-bedroom duplex in Denver. His wife was eight months pregnant with their second child, and so traveling home for Thanksgiving was out of the question for them. Another of my brothers was engaged to be married around the time of the due date of the aforementioned child. We all wanted Melissa (the fiancee at the time) to be able to meet Robert & ShaLiece (the brother and pregnant sister-in-law), and so (with their permission) we all made our way to Denver to eat our turkey there. My brawny brothers and father had to move the sofa out of the living room and onto the front lawn to make room for a table that could seat us all. Luckily, the weather was mild, and the sofa was no worse for the wear. That was also the time that those same brawny brothers taught my then-three-year-old niece how to positively identify Peyton Manning anytime she saw a picture of him. Not a bad day's work.

On three different occasions, Thanksgiving has given our family the opportunity to 'circle the wagons' and get some much needed peace in the face of unpleasant changes. A few years ago one of my cousins, a young man that I pretty much grew up with (although I grew up a few years before he did, being a little older) died rather unexpectedly right before Thanksgiving. The funeral was held during the Thanksgiving holiday, and I remember the peaceful feeling it was to be able to all be together, and to lend each other strength at such a difficult time. Then, both my maternal grandparents passed away shortly after Thanksgiving, about five years apart. In both cases, we were able to be involved with their final Thanksgiving, and in both cases, it remains a sweet memory to me.

I have great memories of the traditions of Thanksgivings passed. We played soccer (weather permitting) before the feast when we went with my mom's family, and we played lightening in the church gym after the feast when we went with my dad's. When my dad was on call, often my grandparents would travel to spend the holiday with us, when he wasn't, we would be the ones traveling. And always after the meal, no matter who we were with, there was lots of visiting, and laughing, and do-you-remember-when-ning in the living room.

Thanksgiving just might be my very favorite holiday of all the year. Why not? It's all about gratitude, family, and food. Honestly, what's not to love about all of that?

Here's hoping that this holiday was as special as you wanted it to be, and that the season that now starts brings you peace and happiness. After the craziness that the world has been handing out over the past few months, I think we could all benefit from a little bit of the joy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Three Cantwells

(since she's the one that really runs this family these days)

She sings! Well, she thinks she sings, and that's all that really matters to me. Last night, Heather and I were having a little after-nursing playtime, and I was marveling at her beautiful blue eyes. Incidentally, I hope, hope, hope, that those eyes stay just the way they are. My eyes are an odd green-on-the-outside-and-brown-on-the-inside combination, and Eric's eyes are a grayish blue color, but Heather's eyes are true blue, penetrating and a little on the dark side. There are very few things I enjoy more than looking into those eyes.

Anyway, as I was saying, I was looking and those beautiful eyes, and I started singing, "Blue Skies, smilin' at me, nothin' but blue skies, do I see" (except I sang Blue EYES--pretty witty of me, don't you think?). Eric, who was behind us doing homework on the computer joined in, and pretty soon, so did our Heather. It took me a bit to realize that she was singing with us, but whenever we would stop, so would she, and she was making sounds that were completely different from her usual cooing conversations. How fun is that?

(who gets the middle spot so I can end with myself--it is my blog after all)

Eric is in the joyful throes of Christmas shopping. I don't think I've ever known someone who gets more excited about Christmas and the gifts that he's going to give. It's been so very fun. In addition, Eric's been living on the computer. He has two major projects due right after Thanksgiving, and so he's been working on those. He still has hours and hours of work to do on them, and will be spending most of the holiday on that, which brings us to . . .

(our intrepid heroine)
I will be making two pies for our Thanksgiving feast, and then, Friday morning, I'll pack up Heather and far more of her belongings than will be necessary, and the two of us will head down to Southern Utah. Many of my family will be there, and with Eric chained to the computer, it seems like the perfect time for Heather's first visit down south. Don't think I'm not a little anxious about it though. It will be Heather's first time spending longer than 90 minutes in a car, and we're doing it without our Eric. It could be a long looooong drive.

And that's our life for the moment.
* * *
In honor of

I have the following:

Between Eric's gray morning light, and heather's penetrating steel, I'm grateful for

Blue Eyes, Smilin' at Me, Nothin but Blue Eyes, do I see . . .

Happy Tuesday to you all.

(For more Gratituesday entries, head over to Catholic Teacher Musings)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

a new perspective

Well, it's been a basic few days. Yesterday, as I was driving to work after dropping Heather off at Eric's parents' home, the song, "More than Words" came on the radio. Remember that song? It was popular in the 90s, sung by those two brothers with long blond hair. They would sing the song while they alternated between playing chords and slapping the sides of their guitars. Isn't it funny how a song can bring back a flood of memories? That song transported me instantly back to my college days at SUU, and the College Ave. Apartments in Cedar City Utah. Oh, the memories. What would SUU Charlotte have thought if she could look into the future and seen wife-and-mother Charlotte? Who knows? But really, does it matter? Nah.

Also yesterday, as I was driving back to work after having spent my lunch hour at Eric's parents' home, I drove past an interesting sight. There was a wrought iron fence, and stuck in it was a medium size fawn. At first I thought it was a dog, but no, it was a little deer. Eric's parents live somewhat close to the mouth of a canyon, and he's told me that they used to see deer in their backyard all the time growing up. Anyway, there were these two men trying to help the deer get untangled from the fence. One would hold the (struggling) deer, while the other would try to move its legs so that it could get untangled from the bars of the fence. Meanwhile a third man was on his cell phone, I assume calling for help. None of the men looked all that official, and while it was tough on me to see that struggling deer, it warmed my heart to see those three (probably random, ordinary) men, taking the time to help this deer.

Speaking of things that were tough for me to see, today Heather had her two-month check-up. You know what that means, right? Yup, the dreaded immunizations. I had thought this might be a hard day for us, and I spent much of yesterday psyching myself up, reminding myself that I would much rather see Heather in pain for a few minutes because of a shot than see her in pain for several days or weeks because of one of the dreaded illnesses that the immunizations prevent. I reminded myself that Heather had spent the first two days of her life getting poked every three hours for blood tests (due to a low blood sugar issue), and that she was no worse for the wear now. I remembered how it hadn't really bothered me to do her PKU, and I told myself that if I could hold a screaming girl while a nurse saturated five different spots on a piece of paper with her blood, then surely we could all survive this immunization business without too much trauma.

Yeah, right.

What I hadn't realized in all my reminding and preparation was that Heather is more of a little person now, and less of a precious tiny eating and pooping machine. I hadn't realized that at the moment that she would get the shot, she'd be very happily and unsuspectingly gazing off into the distance, cooing and contentedly looking around at all that she could see. I hadn't realized that I would hear a cry unlike anything I had ever heard from my Heather the instant that the shot needle went into her little chubby thigh. I hadn't realized that her face would go from such contentment and happiness to such fear, surprise, and pain in a split second.

More than anything though, I hadn't realized that witnessing all of this would be so painful for me. What was I thinking? It was agony! Finally, I understand why people say that a mother is only as happy as her least happy child, and that once you have children, it's like a part of your heart is out there, walking around in someone else's body.

I'm beginning to understand why my parents have been willing to sacrifice again and again and again to support me and to help me throughout my entire life.

And maybe, just maybe, I understand a bit more of how a loving Father in Heaven feels about His young and imperfect Charlotte. I imagine Him allowing me to experience things that hurt, but are for my best good, in spite of the fact that watching me be in pain must be nearly unendurable for Him.

As soon as the nurse was finished, I scooped my Heather up in my arms. I held her close and stroked her little head. I gently bounced her up and down, and I told her, again and again, in my most reassuring voice,

"I've got you now. You're okay, it's okay. It's over, and I won't let anything else happen to you. It's okay Heather honey."

It makes me wonder--how many times has God scooped me up in His arms and told me that it was over, that He wouldn't let anything else happen to me?

A hundred? A thousand? A million?

Every time I've needed it, and more and more and more. That's my guess.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


November 16, 2008

Charlotte Cantwell
999 ABC Street
Close to Logan, UT 84000

Dear "Sleep-Deprived and Hanging-on-by-Your-Fingernails" Charlotte,

I know you are exhausted and overwhelmed, and you think that life is absolutely too hard to be endured at the moment. I know that you are feeling sorry for yourself, while at the same time feeling completely inadequate as you contemplate all the areas in which you are falling woefully short of par. I know you are thinking and feeling a myriad of other thoughts and feelings just now as well, but let's not go into that right now, okay?

Anyway, my dear girl, you are in luck, because I have some killer advice for you. So, sit back, relax, and listen to the words of a much wiser woman:

  1. GET SOME SLEEP! This may seem like an impossibility, however, if you are able to sleep, go ahead and go for it. You'll be AMAZED at how all your problems will disappear while you're sleeping.

  2. If the sleep option is unavailable, find some way to distract your thoughts. Read a magazine or a book (preferably one that has nothing to do with parenting), watch old episodes of The Cosby Show (you know, you own Seasons 1,2, and 5), or call a friend you haven't heard from in a while and catch up on what's going on in someone else's life.

  3. Remember that now is NOT the time to inventory all that needs to be done in your life, nor is it the time to perform self-evaluations of your performance as a mother, wife, employee, daughter, sister, niece, visiting teacher, or any other role that you may fill. Trust me on this one, there will be plenty of time for evaluation on another day.

  4. Trust me, you will be able to sleep soon. You know you will. Be rational, and remember that Heather typically sleeps for 4-5 hours at a time now. Sure, there are those 2-3 hour nights, and they ARE agonizing, but more and more, those are becoming the exception and not the rule.

  5. It might be helpful for you to avoid (for today at least) anyone you know who has told you stories about how their child didn't sleep through the night until they were two or three years old. Trust me, you don't need to hear that just now.

  6. When your dear Eric pleads with you (for the third time) to stop thinking about all that's wrong, for heaven's sake, indulge him. When he chuckles at you as you tearfully list all the unsolvable problems in your life (for the third time), rather than being annoyed or hurt, be grateful that you have a husband who is there for you, even when it is clear that he is completely powerless to make you happy at this point.

  7. And finally, if you are so fortunate as to have Prince Eric ask what he can do to help you, don't ask him to dust or clean the bathrooms. Rather, ask him to use those magic hands of his to give you the longest shoulder or foot rub known to man. He offered, right? And really, what's a clean bathroom compared to relaxed shoulders huh? No contest.

You're going to make it my dear. In a day or two, you'll be back to your old chipper self, and you'll look back on today and laugh about how silly you were being. Then, when you're done laughing, maybe you'll look back on your life a few years ago. You'll remember how you used to be able to sleep-in on Saturdays, how your house stayed clean virtually all by itself, and how it seemed that you you were always either just coming home from one adventure or planning another one.

You'll remember doing laundry for one, and emptying the garbage once a week. You'll remember frequent lunch dates with girlfriends, and days when you could just pick up and go wherever you wanted, whenever you wanted with hardly a thought or plan beforehand.

You'll remember all those days, and, as you take the Stain Stick and rub it furiously on yet another one of Heather's darling outfits that is just one dryer cycle away from being ruined forever, you'll smile.

And you'll be grateful beyond measure for the life you have now.

It will happen dearie. And it will probably happen within the next 48 hours. So, hang in there, and for heaven's sake TRUST ME.

With infinite love from your dear friend,

"Well-Rested and Much-More-Rational" Charlotte

(I'm fine. Actually, at the moment, I'm great! We had an offline day (and night) a few days ago, and after it was over and I was able to get a few hours of sleep, I realized (again) what a vast difference there is between Sleep Deprived Charlotte and Well Rested Charlotte. So, I thought I'd share a few thoughts about the whole thing.)

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