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.)
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