Wednesday, September 12, 2012

G's big boy room

I decided to attempt an inspiration board for g's little boy room. I am probably already halfway there with decorating it. I just haven't been able to make up my mind about his bed. I have finally decided on a stained wood bed in a simple more modern shape. I am thinking of DIYing this bed. Ana White has some plans on her website for a pioneer style bed that I could probably use and modify slightly to make it more modern.

Here is the board I came up with. Obviously I have some experience to gain in making inspiration boards. I am trying to use the furniture and curtains I already have. I could sand down the black dresser and go with a different color if I want. We painted it black from wood for G's nursery.

Clockwise from top left: BED inspiration taken from here. I found some 100% cotton sheets by Lauren Ralph Lauren in a small purple gingham at TJ Maxx/Homegoods. G loves purple and I wanted to incorporate it into his room somehow. I decided that the gingham print was a perfect way and this darker purple isn't too feminine. I found these sheets in twin size while visiting in CA and decided they were worth paying the 7.25% sales tax. Love not having sales tax in Oregon! Mint green down pillow found at Homegoods (love mint!!) Orange velvet pillow from Cost Plus World Market. Wall lamp from Ikea, found here. DRESSER is painted in a black gloss. It was Ryan's as a kid. Woven basket for toys/laundry. Vintage globe. Displaying G's art on one wally in a casual gallery style display. I'm planning a huge 3 ft wide strip of black chalkboard contact paper the length of one wall to contrast with the brown bed with the art above it I think. Woven baskets with books in them. We keep a basket of "bedtime books" next to G's bed and those are the books he can choose from for bedtime. We went through this time where he was so obsessed with books it made bedtime tough. We already have Ikea's Duktig Mini-kitchen and Kritter table and chairs in white. The black grommet curtains are from Target and I have 4 panels on his windows so I can close them to help blackout the room more. The blue chevron rug is from RugsUSA, found here. We also have an Ikea expedit bookshelf in the room with woven baskets full of G's toys. I already have some toys on display and layered on shelves to bring in more color (reds, blues, oranges). His rocking chair from the nursery is still in there too. Every so often I think about taking it out and then decide I'm not ready to do that. Probably because I still love the occasional night he wakes crying and I rock him. He is my baby still. The walls are white, duh (its a rental!).

Here is the inspiration for his bed:

Here's Ana White's Pioneer Bed (here's the link to plans).

I am going for more of an eclectic look rather than too matchy-matchy. What do you think? For now G is still on the floor on his crib mattress. He's happy and sleeps well so I guess that is what really matters. Right?

Monday, September 10, 2012

the shopping cart dilemma: toddlers + grocery stores


We've come to THAT age...the independently-minded 3 year old. This is one of those times when I can't really say its related to autism, but man alive get me into a tough situation and I WILL use that card if I need to because even if all 3 year-old children have this problem I'm sure the autism isn't helping it! G absolutely refuses to sit in the little shopping cart seat (and practically couldn't if he would due to his size) and now he doesn't really even want to sit in the big shopping cart area. I blame it on my husband because when he was with us once he let him run around and now he wants to do that EVERY TIME! 

Last Friday we headed to Trader Joe's for G's essentials (rice milk, peanut butter, and abc cookies). Before even entering the store G insists he wants to walk. UGH!!!!!!!!! It was busy and people are rushing all around us. So, he runs off and I catch up. I go to grab him and he rushes away. I grab him by the arm (the move I dreaded having my mom do to me as a child) and he screams. People immediately look over. I think, "Go ahead just call me a horrible mom with an out of control child right now before we get going and that way we can all just move on with out lives!" 

Funny thing is I was just thinking that morning about behavioral therapy and how I really wish I had that in-home support now to help us transition to this new change in shopping behavior. Little did I know I'd need that support this very morning.

After grabbing G I proceeded to attempt teaching my child all about grasping on to the side of the cart and keeping one hand on it at ALL TIMES! Yeah right! Seriously, how do moms teach their kids to do that? Is it really realistic. He wanted nothing to do with my little "teaching moment" and it quickly became a useless endeavor. Thankfully, I realized I needed to make it more exciting to hold tight to that cart and I enthusiastically asked G if he'd like to push the cart. He came over and got behind that thing pushing it along. That worked for most of the trip, but it was undoubtedly intermixed with wandering steps. I would grab items from the shelf and have G drop them into the cart and he seemed to enjoy that. I gave him choices of foods and he that engaged him some more as well.  When he would push too far I'd ask him to back it up like a truck and he'd make the beeping sound and back the cart up. 

By the time we made it to the register I had that little moment when you think "No, don't go with that line even though it is shorter" but I didn't listen and the darn gal was shopping for her wedding (a TJ employee) and ordering a million bottles of wine and garlic pizza dough. Seriously!! I waited it out and then finally gave up and moved to the line next to me. Kind of like on Office Space when the guy goes back and forth between traffic lanes and gets NO WHERE!! Well, we finally checked out the same time I would have had I stayed where I started. G wandered some more and I had to pull him back. He seems oblivious to the people around him and they will say "excuse me" and ask him to move and its like he doesn't hear them. Mental note: Something else to work on! It was only the last 2 minutes I finally caved and gave him my iPhone to get us through checkout. 

I would definitely call that trip successful but I doubt I will do that very often. Its good for him and working on behavior, but man its demanding! I think it will get easier over time as we develop a new routine and new expectations for grocery store behavior. I think a big key to success will be reinforcements and distractions (the two major principles that all of G's therapies taught me). We were able to find a panorama and pictures on the walls well above eye view that I would have never seen in my life if it weren't for needing to distract G. 

So, I guess even though I didn't have an autism interventionist or specialist right there with me, I did have the most amazing parenting principles (which they taught me) I could ever be given to make a successful trip through the grocery store! 

I'm sure there are many other great tactics (my favorite, leaving them home with dad). I'd love to know! 

So, what you do to make it through the grocery store with young ones who won't have anything to do with the shopping cart?

Friday, September 7, 2012

decorating a rental update, part 2

Let's keep going with the recent updates to our rental...

I have been heading to thrift stores a lot this summer in search of some good deals. I came across this accordion hanging rack for $2 I think and I snatched it up. It reminded me so much of having one in my room as a little kid. I thought it would be a good addition to our entry on the wall behind our door when it opens. I love having a place to put my purse up off the ground. I know it will be handy this winter too. We have a tiny little coat closet around the corner but this is fun to have some stuff showcased too. I want to add some temporary wallpaper to this wall too. I'm thinking of putting up black chalkboard contact paper two-thirds up the wall and it can double as a place for G to draw as well. You can find that black chalkboard contact paper at 

For me a big part of dealing with a sub-par rental is trying to hide the or camouflage the things you don't like. Our bathroom has yellow formica and I have yet to figure out how to handle that except to just pretend it doesn't exist. I have a similar rug about in the bathroom and a neutral octopus shower curtain that we had in our previous guest bathroom. If I knew we were going to be here long-term I'd consider getting permission to paint the formica or attempt covering it with contact paper. The only issue is putting hot things on the counter so that would pose a problem with the straightener. Our carpet isn't horrible but where there is high traffic areas or especially where it ends and meets a different flooring it is a little sad. So, I covered up the horrible linoleum in the dining area with a natural fiber rug (from ikea) that also runs up over the seam onto the carpet about a foot and then this colorful rug is from Cost Plus World Market for like $17 and I added it at the sliding glass door entrance to limit the debris tracked in.

I have covered our dining room table (which is actually a very nice table from Cost Plus) with a table cloth for a while now. Forever its been a black burlap tablecloth I cut and still love but that part of the room needed some more color. I found this gorgeous tablecloth from TJMaxx/Homegoods. Its a Ralph Lauren and I actually contemplated making it into curtain panels and bought a few of them, but decided against them. BTW, finding a great print tablecloth and using them as curtain panels is a great idea!!! You can usually get each tablecloth for $15-20 at TJMaxx depending on if its a designer brand and then just clip them up with rings. They usually come in different lengths similar to curtain panels too.

I got rid of my long-time table decor of a ton of candles on a silver plate and decided to group some house plants. These guys were struggling with recovering from the move and then I had an orchid that was done flowering for now and so I grouped them to make more impact. I love it! I want to add a few more and surprisingly they are all starting to bounce back and have some good new growth on them post-move. They get better light on this table as well and I've started using plant food. My orchid has a new branch growing out and this is the first time I have actually maintained an orchid after its initial flowering instead of chucking it. I hope it has a second life! I used orchid food while it was flowering and tried to follow the instructions good and now don't use the food but just water it occasionally until its ready to flower again.

This is the view from the dining table (well actually the sliding glass door to backyard). 

I restyled the bookshelves and new pillows. I added the rest of our books that were still in boxes to free up more storage space. I also added a shelf for G's books. He has sooooo many books. I didn't even have all of his unpacked. He loves having a shelf of his own and frequently lays on the floor in that corner reading his books. I now have more accessories though which previously occupied the shelves that don't have a home so I guess it didn't help much. I have been contemplating a garage sale but I don't want to do the work again. I just have so much decor and pillows and all that jazz than I could ever imagine using and my tastes are changing.

My next update for the living room is a table skirt/cover for the dresser we are using as a media console right now. Its just a bunch of dark furniture and electronics on that wall and I HATE IT! I'm hoping that a more feminine gathered skirt will make a difference. I'll post that progress soon hopefully. I'm hoping to get it sewn while in CA this coming weekend! I also want to get an new floor lamp I've been coveting from Urban Outfitters.

The more time and effort I put into this place, the more I love it and don't want to ever move. I am starting to realize that unless a home is "my style" I really just want it to have no style so that I can do whatever the heck I want to it and my style can take on the spotlight. I think that is one of the challenges I faced with our CA home. It had so much wood in the beams, floors, and kitchen floor to ceiling cabinets. It felt like a very cabin like and transitional builder home. I really want an older home the next time around, something with the right amount of age and character and then add in my own style.

But that next house we own won't be for a long time to come most likely. I'm ok with it most of the time. The biggest challenge is friends buying houses and that feeling of wanting it all too. Thankfully we have our experience with our home in CA to humble us and help us patiently wait for that goal again. I am still so grateful for this little duplex because it fits our needs to a "T" and even some of my desires. I wanted a white canvas and a good sized backyard. We got both! No neighbor problems either so that is a blessing!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

decorating a rental update, part 1

So I thought I'd share some of the more recent updates to our lovely rental. I posted my first efforts at decorating this place here. Before we begin with the updates, let me just say though that our little place is very difficult to photograph because of its small size and poor lighting. Its ok lighting for living in but for photographs its horrible! We have now been here for 6 months! Its crazy to think how quickly time has gone by and yet in a few ways it feels we have been here even longer than that. Our lease on this place was a 6 month lease and will now switch over to month 2 month. I remember thinking 6 months was so far away and wondering if we would make it here in Oregon away from family and at a new job. It still feels a little uncertain at times (just because of the challenges with R's work) but I really hope it works out for the long term (ask me that in April 2013 or shoot even February!!). I'm not sure about an entire winter/spring here due to the rain and gloom but I sure hope to it goes well and if needed we can escape to CA for some breaks where the sun still shines in the winter!! As for this little gem of a rental we originally planned to stay here 1-2 years. I can't imagine myself wanting to move in another 6 months and honestly this place can really fulfill our needs for a long time to come at the rate our family is isn't growing.

I picked up this little wicker nightstand at a local secondhand vintage shop called The Mercantile in Springfield, OR. This place has great prices!! I intended it to be for G's room but we have yet to get him into a twin bed, still on the floor on his crib mattress. I'm waiting for the right bed to come along. I might move it into his room eventually and once I find two nightstands I love for our bedroom. I also picked up the covered wagon picture for $1.75. I loved it because of our mormon pioneer heritage and how it represents it without being too obvious. It feels more abstract and I love that the background is black instead of white. I have yet to get a different frame, waiting to see where it actually ends up. Its here for now.

I have been searching Craigslist for a used wicker peacock chair. I almost bought a basic one used online for $90. I decided to wait and then a neighbor around the corner was having a yard sale. Well, let me say that they are horders, no doubt. This time it was to my advantage. There has been an ever growing pile on their drive way they keep covered with tarps and sometimes I drive by and their garage door is open and that garage is literally stuffed full from floor to ceiling with junk. A week before the sale I saw this chair pop up outside their front door. I just had this feeling!! Well, a few days later Ryan comes home from work and he tells me that they have moved the chair out closer to the road and indeed it appears they are having a yard sale. He insists we go look at it and I couldn't refuse. It was mine for $20 and Ryan scored a new George Foreman grill for $10 (he was pretty happy!). It had some "smell" to it. You know it probably comes with age and horders not being the most cleanly. So, I decided to take my chances regardless and gamble on the $20. I spent the next two nights scrubbing and spraying that sucker with a bleach water solution. I did the process twice and let it dry in the sun between each attempt. I think it definitely made a big improvement and was MUCH more clean. It is now residing in our bedroom. What a good gamble! I wanted it for the living room but it won't fit right now unless I sell the leather arm chair which I would may do in a heartbeat!

Sorry for the crumby iPhone photos. I am lazy these days and don't use my DSLR. The lighting is horrible in our bedroom (actually our entire house) too so that makes photos challenging. I am really into the bohemian vibe and so I'm trying to make that happen in our bedroom by layering lots of things. I have used square vases and thrift store finds to corral all of my jewelry and accessories. I am trying to work with a lot of what I already have and we'll see how that goes. My next addition to the room is going to be a DIY upholstered headboard. I'm just trying to figure out the textiles for the rest of the room so it will be a cohesive look. I'm thinking something with blues and purples.

Check back on Friday for part two of the rental updates!

What about you guys? Are you a thrift and secondhand store shopper? What are your recent finds? 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Gorgonzola Burger with Avocado Mash

So far our summer in Oregon has been amazing. We had a pretty hot week a couple weeks ago and I think that is going to be it. It got near 100 degrees and we don't have an sort of air conditioning. As a result we did NO cooking/baking inside and used the bbq. Most summers we do a lot of chicken kebobs, but this summer one of my easy favorites are gorgonzola burgers! I must thank my dad and his love of that delicious cheese because without that introduction as a young adult I don't think I'd be as big a fan. It has now become a staple in our household. Thankfully Costco stocks it in wedge form at a cheaper price per pound than already crumbled.

So, here is it:

Gorgonzola Burger with Avocado Mash, red onion and mixed greens

Gorgonzola Burger with Avocado Mash
Ground beef
Crumbled gorgonzola cheese
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Mix it all together, form your patties and grill it up!

Avocado Mash
2 ripe avocados, pitted and diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed (take out before eating or finely mince it to leave it in)
fresh lemon juice (1/2 to 1 whole lemon, to taste)
3 tbsp yellow onion, minced or diced your preference
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

fine sea salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped (optional)

Mix all ingredients together and then season with the s + p to taste. I leave the avocado slightly chunky. I like the texture of it more chunky rather than totally smooth. There is a good balance of creamy and chunky!

I added some red onion and mixed greens to the burger this time and I of course couldn't leave out the mayo (I'm obsessed! No joke!). Use bread/bun of your choice. I love putting olive oil on this crusty bread and grilling it for a couple of minutes. This bread is a must for portobello mushroom burgers which were a new hit this summer! The bread absorbs all that yummy juice and gets so soft and crunchy at the same time.

I served the burger with grilled corn on the cob. We are obsessed with this grilled cheesy corn I found on pinterest this summer. On this occasion I left off all but the butter and s + p. Husk and soak the corn for at least 10 minutes and then put directly on the grill and rotate every 2-3 minutes for about 8 minutes total. I don't keep the husks on anymore after the first time leaving them on. Although I like them aesthetically speaking, I hated the mess the charred bits of husk made all over the dinner plate and meal.

FYI - (Avocado Mash appears to be a fancy term for guacamole basically. I thought I invented this term when I made it but I just googled it and nope, not original. :( It was the Gordon Ramsey in me coming out since we are watching Masterchef.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

my birthday + chico

I tried convincing myself that maybe I should try and go more than a couple of months in between visits home to my family in California. We moved to Oregon the end of February and our first trip home was in mid-April for my brother Brent's mission homecoming. Then G and I made a trip down the end of June to spend a week with my family and visit with Ryan's family as well (Ryan stayed home to pay the bills, bless his heart). So, two months later we are at it again, this time Ryan is making the trek with us. I decided there is just no way I can go until Thanksgiving which would be 5 months! This was part of the reason we looked for our new home where we did so we could still go home and have family visit regularly. Oh and did I mention my parents had just been out to visit the week before I drove to CA and Ryan's parents came to visit less than 3 weeks after we came back from CA. We love our family and I thank God regularly that we can be blessed with the work and opportunities we have here in Eugene and still only live 6-7 hours from family.

So, I am excited!! We are turning the labor day weekend into a 4 day trip to CA. It won't be easy getting there because we're gonna leave Friday night after work but it will be worth it. Saturday is my birthday. I'll be 31 and for some reason I was looking forward to 30 but 31 seems soooooo much older. Maybe its from all the "excitement" of this past year. I am still very excited for my 30's because I can't wait for my family to grow and experience life with my children. Its so much more fulfilling (note to self: remind myself of this when I have my tough days and pine for the first years of marriage when we could do anything and go anywhere). Thankfully those days don't come very often and they end quickly.

What's on the calendar for this weekend you might wonder?

  • My parents are hosting a birthday bbq and swim Saturday afternoon.
  • I coaxed my mom into help me sew a table skirt/cover for our dresser that is standing in as a media console. I'm doubling it as interior decor obsession and young women's personal progress project. 
  • Croquet (I have fond memories of playing it as a teenager and young adult with my siblings and I have been wanting to play all summer. This time around I'm gonna try and not cheat though and be a gracious loser winner. 
  • Lots of swimming in 90 degree weather (we have had only one solid week of 90+ degree weather here in Eugene. Great for all aspects of life other than swimming since my body requires both warm water and warm weather).
  • My sister asked if G could have a sleepover at her house Saturday night and after serious consideration I decided I would oblige her! :)
  • No G = DATE NIGHT!!! We have had a heck of a time finding babysitters here in Eugene (in fact have yet to have any luck, sucks!) and so date nights have been a rare thing for us. We are considering a food date where we'll hit up all our Chico fav's and eat our way around town!! Eugene is seriously lacking in the mexican food department like big time!!! It's a crime really! 
  • for G and date night for us (considering a food date night where we eat small portions at all our fav chico spots), more swimming, family, and 90 degree weather to make swimming enjoyable! 
  • Bidwell park and Caper Acres. G can't stop talking about going to the park with Grandma and Uncle Davin. 
  • Late night talks with the parents
Can't wait!! Can't wait!! Can't wait!! (did I mention I Can't Wait! ?)

So, what are you fav places to eat and things to do when you head back home to Chico?

Monday, August 27, 2012

mis niños

On our walk this morning I took a different route than normal and came across this most adorable hispanic grandma. She was a petite little lady with short curly hair and was sporting a big grin on her face. She came right up to us and was admiring G. I was trying to get him to say "hola" and use his few spanish words that he has learned from Dora. He was shy and wanted to leave. When she heard me prompting G in spanish she asked if I spoke spanish. Before I knew it I'd said "Si" and she was off talking a mile a minute and I could barely keep up. I'm still reasonably good at making out spanish if its everyday conversational and she used her hands to help talk which made a huge difference. I nodded my head and did my best to throw in a few words  or horribly crafted phrases in Spanish here and there. All I know is that she couldn't get enough of G's curly hair and she was confused by my double stroller but only one kid. She kept asking, "¿Dos niños?", while pointing to the empty stroller seat. It made me a little sad because I often wonder about that empty seat. I didn't have to words to explain miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. I said them in English but I don't think she understood because she asked me about it one or two more times. That empty seat is in a way a painful reminder of the challenges we face, but I won't sell that stroller because its also a reminder of the hope I have in the future!

When I was praying this morning I was realizing that some of my trials in life aren't going to go away quickly. In fact, at least one of them will be a lifetime challenge. I realized as I prayed that patience for me is even more important (and lacking) than I realized. I really want to come to the point that I can embrace these challenges and see the good and blessings in them instead of those things that are lacking or those things I feel I've been cheated in this life.

I have a friend who has a son with autism. He is in his twenties. She commented the other day that while helping a friend shop for clothing she was placing some items over the changing room door to her friend. Soon after she started doing this her son started imitating her and starting throwing clothes over the door as well saying, "Try this," just as she was doing. Eventually he started chucking sale signs and what not. I really admired how this friend was so excited to tell me and how she seemed to find so much joy and laughter in that moment. I know that was only one moment, one glimpse into her reality and the past 20 or so years of her life with a child on the spectrum, but I have much to learn.

Before I had even met this friend others told me about her. She was enthusiastic and had a heart of gold. They felt that she was blessed with a son with autism because she was such an amazing woman. Every encounter we have had since meeting has proven that all true. The spirit of Christ shines bright in her eyes and she does have a heart of gold. She is patient, humble, kind, giving, creative, and willing. I have yet to find a way to embrace this defining characteristic of my life and truly see the joy and good in it instead of always first seeing the negative and then being humbled to recognize the good.

All of this for me is essential in no losing hope, in patiently waiting with faith in the future whatever it holds for G and his autism and for our other children. Amo a mis niños!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Creamy Dairy-free Fudgesicles

Since G has this problem going on and in order to appease both myself and G's appetite for all things creamy, cold, and chocolatey, I decided to attempt making fudge pops as an alternative to chocolate ice cream. I'm even considering putting them on ice and taking them with us to the ice cream parlor. I'm that desperate. Who wants to wake up to a disgusting mess the next day? Not him, not me! Well, recently I found a reasonably healthy recipe on Pinterest for fudgesicles so I gave them a try. I'm not too sold on them, but I sure will keep them around and change up the ratios of ingredients in the future. The real test, however, was how this dude liked them and I'd say he didn't have any problems with it at all!

Here's the recipe I followed and here is how I altered it:

Creamy Chocolate Fudge Pops
(makes 10-12 small pops)
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder (I used unsweetened, but you could use dark chocolate or some other type)
  • 1 cup full-fat canned coconut milk (I only had low-fat so I used that, it was fine but I'd do full-fat next time)
  • 2 medium, very-ripe bananas (200g)
  • scant 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • sweetener of choice, to taste (stevia, agave, etc.) (I used agave, I think I'll try different sweetener next time)
  • optional: feel free to add peanut butter! (I did! I figured I'd get some more protein and calories in there for the kid with the restricted diet)
  • optional: what if you added in veggies like in a smoothie? spinach? I may have to try this. Gotta get them in that kid somehow!
Combine all items in a blender or food processor (I used my Ninja). I used dixie cups to make small fudge pops for G and then froze them for about 1 hour or so and then inserted popsicle sticks into them when they would stand up straight and then froze them for another hour or two until ready. The dixie cups pealed right off for me. G had more fun pretending it was a drum than eating it at first but once it was melting he couldn't keep it out of or around ( cue chocolatey Goatee) his mouth! 
Happy Summer!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Kid is Lactose Intolerant

"Diarrhea, Diarrhea!"

There, I said it. I was trying to think of how to start this post, even tried coming up with some PC way of bringing up this topic but all that could come to my mind was the Diarrhea Song. Well, unfortunately for me any amount of respect I had from my mother I have now lost once she reads this post. 

So on that topic, we have been battling with this little problem for too long. I really want it gone because when G is finally ready to potty train it will be a NIGHTMARE!! I have to talk with the doctors more and probably take a sample. I don't want to do that, but the specialist said it should be addressed. My thoughts are it is either caused by dairy, tomatoes, or chocolate. We can get a solid poo out of the kid once in a while but it never lasts for more than a day or two. His diet is already so limited because he's a restrictive eater I don't want to take anything else out. We finally got him to eat pizza and I'd hate for that to be taken out since R and I love pizza. We tried a GFCF diet to help with it and saw some improvement but when we added gluten back in nothing changed so we have only kept out dairy products. G drinks rice milk exclusively. We stopped feeding him yogurt and have avoided cheese in his diet as well. The main problem is with ice cream. He loves it and we love it and you just can't say no to Prince Pucklers on a hot summer day! No way! And what about birthday parties? I can't make that sacrifice. If he was allergic maybe, but according to blood work done a year ago he has no milk allergy. We are assuming its an intolerance and I sure hope it doesn't stick around. Children with autism tend to consistently battle diarrhea. Some have opinions about leaky gut syndrome but I don't think that the research supports that. My doctor's take was that since I could get solid results from G on the BRAT diet (which I put him on when it was at its worst last summer and causing sores on his bum) that it was more of certain foods being the culprit. 

Any suggestions or experience with milk/lactose intolerances? How do you deal with having to avoid certain foods when you are dining out? Would/Do you give it up yourself for the sake of your child? 

Monday, August 13, 2012

bad mommy

The other day a dear friend posted a status update on Facebook about a mother and how she was talking/treating her children. It kind of hit a soft spot with me because I struggle at times to feel on top of the world and like I'm really getting this whole mothering thing and then other times I fail miserably. I guess I realized I could have been that mom. As soon as I read this friend's comment I thought back to my most recent moment of bad mommy experiences.

Recently, we invested in family bikes. I love riding around and we felt like it was a positive and realistic family activity with G's limitations and age. We have loved them. R has started biking to work and is determined to become a one-car family. I don't know about it. We'll see how he does during the long rainy winter. 

G and I have been riding around to our neighborhood parks and down on the river paths. It is so refreshing and fun! Two weeks ago we went on a ride that lasted a couple hours as we made a few different stops to play. It was fun, but by the end I was done. On our last stop I let him wade in the river with his shoes on. He wanted to so bad, but we hadn't come prepared and there was glass on the ground so I sacrificed his sneakers and let him wear them in the water. It was that good of a day that pretty much anything was okay because we were living it up! I think much of it was tied to this idealistic summer, the unforgettable summer I always dream of having each year, kind of like when it turns from summer to fall and you want to soak up those fleeting fall days and nights (only in Eugene its pretty much like fall during the summer so you get 4 months of fall weather!)

With each stop on our ride leaving and moving on became a little bit harder. Maybe each stop was just a little more fun for G and a little more exhausting for me, I don't know. We have our routine, our bag of tricks, that we use EVERY TIME + EVERYWHERE we go. It gets old, but at least with time and on most occasions he responds well. We give a few different warnings, sometimes one when we first get there if it is going to be a shorter than normal trip or different in any way, but always there is the "five more minutes then all done park," the "two more minutes then all done" and the "zero more minutes park". Even after those warnings our dialogue consists of "bye bye park" or "we'll come back soon" or "see you later park" or all of the above. This is not just isolated to parks, it includes any place that G loves or doesn't love for that matter (although the dialogue in the end would be more praiseworthy because he endured something he didn't want to so "Good job G! You did great! Thanks for waiting and being mommy's helper!" Something along those lines). None of this is innate within me. It was all taught by amazing intervention specialists who we would be lost without. Sometimes I forget the techniques and our days aren't as smooth or sometimes I let my frustration and temper get the best of me. 

Well sadly our picturesque day turned into a most unfortunate one. Getting back into the bike seat after wading in the river proved to be challenging! He did not want to end such a fun stop, but dinner time was approaching and I was ready to head on home. This was the farthest we had biked together and he had not napped that day. Eventually I was able to get him in the seat but it took running back after him as he escaped back into the river and carrying him to the bike up the hill, him crying and begging to stay. Typical toddler stuff probably. We finally got going again and he calmed down. I am sure I made many promises of returning, in fact, I recall saying we'd go get dad from work and come back. Oops I lied! We will go back someday, with dad so there are two of us to handle him. 

On the way back we had to pass "waterfall" outside of PF Chang's restaurant. Just a few days prior we stopped on a family bike ride and let G get out to walk around it and do his waterfall thing. He has a thing he does, the turning of the head, the angles, the sounds. I don't quite get it but someday I hope he can explain it. Well, today I didn't want to stop, however, G has this way of once he has done something a certain way he does it the same way every time and expects routines. Its good when you can control circumstances or when we want routines, but I don't want to have to stop and get him out of the bike seat for 5 minutes every time we pass "waterfall". I decided we could stop and admire it from our bike, but that wasn't good enough. When I informed him it was time to go he lost it. Kicking and screaming with all his might, I decided to ride on and ignore the behavior. It was very hard to ignore with him kicking my legs and back and the bike's balance becoming an issue. after 500 feet or so I abruptly stopped the bike and turned around. I regret what happened next and believe that it will forever be ingrained in my mind. I pointed my finger at him and told him he'd better stop. It didn't work and neither did my yelling and threats. In my frustration I resorted to what I would deem one of my most low points as a mother and human being. I wrapped my hand around his leg and dug my nails into his skin like I used to do to my sisters when we would fight as teenagers. It was cruel and it hurt him. I could see it in his eyes. It was one time in my life that I wished we hadn't gazed into each others eyes. It was horrifying. He seemed to submit to me in a terrifying way. What had I done? It is hard to admit this to the general mass, especially family and friends. My husband tried to console me telling me I'm doing my best or something, but is that really my best? I had hurt him. I had seen pain in his eyes. I knew it wasn't my best and I was horrified. 

Fast forward five days later and we went on a ride that passed by that same "waterfall". It is becoming such a common occurrence that any thought of succumbing to his desire is not realistic and my hope is that eventually he will accept that sometimes we stop and sometimes we don't. That has been the case with other obsessions usually the tantrums are done in a car where he can kick and scream and it doesn't physically involve me. Well, this ride five days later, I am happy to report went much better. I told him before we got to it that we would not stop on the way past but on our way back we would stop and look at it from the bike. He didn't get it but it is at least being vocalized. On the way back he knew we got to stop but the bike part he didn't get or didn't agree with. I walked him around the waterfall on the bike and then we said our goodbyes. He was upset. I remembered my tools this time and told him it sounded like he felt sad. I've been trying to help him realize what his emotions are and use words instead of scream. It didn't stop but he knew that kicking me wouldn't result in more waterfall so off we rode and singing a song to distract finally ended the tantrum once we made it through a couple of stoplights. 

Will he remember that day? I sure hope not for his sake and for mine. I want to help him to learn to remember the good and forget the bad. Somehow, some way I have to get to this point myself. Regardless, I will remember it (the bad) and hope to NEVER repeat it again. Needless to say I have become more consistent about seeking God's help to be more compassionate in those hard moments, something I had slacked at more recently. I wonder how I will look back on this time of our life together. I know there have been challenges, but it has been very rewarding too. My abilities as a mother have been stretched and I have been able to sacrifice and do more for G than I could have imagined. I have much more to learn though. Thankfully, despite my inadequacies and failings, the Lord has been there with us along the way and is taking sweet G into His hands and many miracles continue to happen. Goals that were established a few months ago are already accomplished. Hopefully the same can be said for me.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

watermelon, watermelon, watermelon: choosing a good melon

Watermelon + Sea Salt + Fresh Cracked Pepper = Sweet & Savory!

My first watermelon of the season was a disaster! It was mushy and plain gross. So I took to google. Don't you just love all of the information at our fingertips!

Here's what I found:

Tips for choosing an Awesome Watermelon
- Look for a yellow patch which indicates that it wasn't picked too soon and was given time to ripen.
- Look for a melon that is symmetrical. It shouldn't have any odd bulges or funky formation but generally be symmetrical so if you cut it in half both halves would have similar shape.
- Weight. Pick up a few of the same general size and go for the heaviest with the above characteristics, of course.

So far we are 3 for 3 with this method! Hooray!

Have you ever tried salt and pepper on your watermelon? I have become a fan, although I still often stick with this sweet treat in its natural state. I grew up with a dear grandmother who loved watermelon as a summertime dessert. We would slice off slabs of it and sprinkle on the salt and go to town on it all while watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy (sometimes a good ol' Western flick too).

Look at these tasty watermelon recipes (and check out other great food on my pinterest food board here):
Source: via Stacy on Pinterest

1.Watermelon Salad, 2.Cucumber Watermelon Salad, 3.Cool Skewers, 4.Watermelon Lime Frosty, 5.Watermelon Limeade.

Happy Summer! Here summer has just been getting good this past month and I'm looking forward to August and September. G doesn't start preschool until September 10th so we are gonna soak up this summer and milk it for every day we can!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Now I Get It: Toddler Language

Remember this post here?

G has gone in and out of phases referring to Jengaba Jenaba. Well, the other day we were watching one of his favorite videos dutifully name "truck show" by Mr. G, he said Jenaba again. It finally dawned on me. He means "Jennifer"! One of the girls on the show is name Jennifer and he interpreted her name to be Jenaba. I had thought of Jennifer before but we don't know anyone named Jennifer. It took me a few months to figure that out, but finally did!

G's fav show right now "tractor show".
As for this great "truck show", I'm guessing we discovered it while searching "truck" on Netflix. It's called "All About Trucks". It is LAME!!! It must have been produced in the 90s and on a ZERO budget by a trucking family or something. Anyway, G absolutely loves it! He is obsessed with all things truck (and tractor now). He has now become equally obsessed with other equally lame videos in the "All About" collection-- Fire trucks and Old MacDonalds Farm. Why don't you try listening to the most monotone farmer talk about a cow's tets (really teats but the way this guy says it it sounds like a New Yorker's "eh"). Did that make sense? Probably not! Well, it seems every day at dinner when he requests a show (its how we distract him enough to get him to consume some amount of dinner) it is "Tractor Show" as G calls it. Well Farmer Joe seems to come on right about that same time I am enjoying my gourmet (right!) dinner and talks about how important it is to milk this cow twice a day everyday and you grab her tets... you get the idea. Fortunately I've become immune enough to find it more hilarious than anything else, needless to say we don't have company come for dinner much.

G's favorite tractor these days = a combine harvester. duh!

Don't you just love toddler talk and how they interpret language! What's you kiddo been saying these days?

Do you use Netflix Instant Watch? We have a Roku box and love Netflix for G and watching TV Series. I just finally got rid of the DVD portion of our Netflix. We were just so horrible about watching the DVD first off, let alone sending it back. We also love Hulu Plus for getting or TV show fixes. We don't have cable or even DTV reception. We got it in CA but I couldn't get any stations to come in for more than a second and haven't tried since moving here. Kind of a bummer because we're missing out on the Olympics. I tried to watch online but NBC is requiring that you have a contract with a cable provider basically. Lame I say, LAME!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Unforgettable Summer, Part 1

In Eugene, Oregon when the sun comes out, we go out! I mean technically we go outside even without the sun otherwise we'd be indoors for 9 months out of the year it seems. Everyone warned us of the long gloomy and wet season, but they promised absolutely gorgeous summers. Boy were they right! So far it hasn't gotten about the low 80s and it cools down at night. If its a cloudy/foggy morning you can start off with a light sweater and bundle up and it feels refreshing. Then jump into shorts for the afternoon. Since photos are way more exciting, here's our summer so far in Instagram photos...
One of our toughest days at church. We had to pull all the stops out before church even began.
We tried to help him adjust to the organ music that gets him screaming by showing up early but all that did
was require him to endure an extra 10 minutes of it during the prelude. NEVER AGAIN WILL WE ARRIVE MORE THAN A MINUTE OR TWO EARLY! In fact, we've considered having a plaque mounted on a bench and reserving it as our spot so we can just come in after the opening hymn and avoid the worst point of the meeting all together!

the Mister turned 32!
G loves birthdays - candles, singing "Happy Birthday!", cake + ice cream, and presents!

G with his sweet little friend I. We found them in his room with the door closed the other day.
I was worried for a second :)

Birthday fun! We went to dinner at BJ's and then had ice cream cake as requested by the birthday boy!

My parents came to visit. We hiked Spencer's Butte with them. G is slowly learning to tolerate the backpack.
We had to give him my iphone on the way down. It works for us so we can still enjoy doing things we prefer.

I miss my family, but I absolutely love that we are only 6 hours away!

These boys are going to be best buds 4-ever!

Hiking down Spencer's Butte I spotted what I thought was a great
photographic perspective. I'm no pro though and all I had was my iPhone.

Grandpa + Grandma O'Dell!!

Ocean Air! We absolutely love only living an hour from the coast. Just a day after my parents left town, my sister Michelle came to town with Ethan. 

During their stay there was a sunny day and so we headed to the beach.
Gavin absolutely loved having Ethan here and I think E had a good time too. He was so patient and fun with G.

This kid loves the water, cold or hot!

Aunt Chelle!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Unrequited Love

I came across this quote on a blog written by another mom with daughters on the autism spectrum. I had to share it! I needed to read this on so many different levels in my life...

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, 
so as to have the life that is waiting for us" --Joseph Campbell

Kind of need to chew on that for a while. Really having to work on being patient with the Lord right now. I don't feel like I'm complaining, more wanting to give up on some things. Waiting is hard work! I know he is watching out for us and so I am really trying to find joy and not be consumed what I WANT for my life without losing the fire and passion I have for those things but still really live in and relish the life I've been given right NOW. It is really amazing, my life! I have an absolutely amazing husband who gives up everything he can for me and who is the strongest and most humble example I could ask for. I don't quite know how I got him, but I'm definitely keeping him around. No catch and release for you baby!

I have a son who continues to blow my mind (for the good and the bad). He is a sweet heart and I love getting to see his personality peak out a little more each day. I'm trying to find greater joy and have more appreciation for the small things. The single alternating step, the 2 inches he cleared from the floor while jumping in the "walk + stop" or "turning, turning, turning", his two favorites during circle time at school.

I have awesome family and friends who continue to pray for and support us!

I will say this. There are these tender moments when I just want to physically love my child. You know cuddle, kiss his face off, and stare into his beautiful eyes. I beg him to look into mine and if I do something silly enough he will. Its the only way I can get a glimpse into his. I tell him I love him and then have to prompt him more than once to say it back to me. It feels forced, like when you tell a guy you love him back after he tells you it first but you're not sure or not ready. You do it anyway. But this guy is my son. I have these tender moments when G and I are having so much fun rolling in laughter and my love for him oozes out. But then I wonder if its one-sided. Does he really love me? Do I rock his world like he rocks mine? I have to believe I do. I'm his mother for crying out loud! If I have to hold out until the eternities for that reciprocation I WILL! I think this is where my dependency on my faith in Jesus Christ comes in. I'm working on that too. This talk right here is something else we should all chew on. Thanks mamma for suggesting it! It will knock your socks off!! Love learning and realizing that even though I continue to fail miserably at some things in life there is still hope for me all because of my Savior! I can make changes and BE BETTER because of HIM! Elder Bednar is so awesome at helping us learn how!

Off to bed. G's eligibility meeting is in 8 hours. Darn Oregonians need a separate educational diagnosis from the medical diagnosis to provide services in school. Good news is that they include sensory as a portion of the eligibility and that is G's most challenging area.

I know it's been a while. So as not to leave you thinking I'm a sad soul, life is good! We have felt really really blessed in many areas, yes challenges still in others. BUT like I said, the Lord is watching out for us. We are loving Oregon, especially now that it is summer! Amazing weather. Its like fall in CA. Perfect warm (not HOT) days and perfect cool nights! Ryan's work is going well and making steady improvements, I'm busying enjoying the teenage girls in our ward and have some great friends here. G starts preschool 4 days a week in September and seems really happy 95% of the time! We are quickly becoming a biking family. We splurged on some new rides and are really enjoying the time as a family getting out and around Eugene. Ryan is determined to become a one-car family and bike to work. Tomorrow is Day #4!

I just came up with the title for this post and it got me thinking...I wonder if this is how the Savior might feel if we neglect our relationship with Him, if there is no reciprocation of those feelings and sacrifices he has made for us. "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Chew on that!  (adj): not requited : not reciprocated or returned in kind

No talking with your mouth full peeps! Finish chewing and then share your thoughts!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep: losing a child

The gift of life is pretty prominent in my mind these days. This morning I discovered a blog dedicated to a loving family's baby who passed away just prior to his due date due to an umbilical cord injury. Two days shy of birth and meeting their baby, this mother had to endure labor and delivering the baby knowing she would not be able to raise him in this life. It was very humbling and touching. Another new friend lost her husband at the age of 25. She is now a widow raising 3 kids and a new little baby. My heart breaks. It really puts my challenges which seem very hard at times into perspective and helps me to really appreciate those quiet moments when I have felt the Lord's presence in my life witnessing to me that these things will be for my good and I can endure through them and grow from them. I pray with all my heart these sweet families have the same necessary moments confirming God's love for them. 

In reading that blog, I came across an amazing cause. The Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation provides free professional photography services to families who experience the loss of a baby. Professional photographers donate their time and talents to these families. I think it is really an amazing gift. What an amazing use of talent and gift to give. Here's the link to their website: I hope that everyone who experiences this loss would have the chance to capture the memory of their child. The website shares their belief that through photography and remembering this little baby aids in the healing process.

I have experienced an ectopic pregnancy and a miscarriage and we struggle with having more children, but I can't even imagine what it would be to experience the loss of a child or spouse. I do know that God and His angels are very near in these moments and those families are blessed to experience great outpourings of the Spirit and God's love. 

Sorry for the downer of a post, I just had to share this amazing service. I'll be back soon with a post on last night's dinner.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

NAPS (at age three)

All children should nap! Seriously! G started giving up naps a month or so ago and those first two weeks were H-E-double hockey stick!! You get the picture. You've probably been there before. I finally adjusted thanks be to God and many prayers by friends and family in our behalf.

G's nap 6.5.2012 with his trusty semi-truck!

He still does nap on occasion, but it is NEVER in his bed. He won't even consider it. Its usually in the car or stroller (If I am in desperate need of a napping day I have been known to head to the mall or TJMaxx and stick him in that stroller with his pacifier and blanket. It has worked all but one time). Today he asked for his pacifier and blanket (he gets it for "quiet time" and so I obliged because i have way too much to accomplish today (duh, blogging!) and he moved from his bed to the couch to the newest landing place, my plastic lounge chair. It got quiet and then I realized he had settled in on the most uncomfortable place he could, in a very awkward position. Silly kid! It was sunny when he was chilling there, learning the joys of sunbathing from his mama. But if anyone knows Oregon, it still isn't summer here and well I think its starting to sprinkle. I can't bear to wake him though. He'll be a grump if I do. Hoping those dark clouds can resist the urge.

In other sleep news, G has been waking almost nightly as well since moving, sometimes a few times a night. When he started refusing naps he also started coming out of his room during the middle of the night and sleeping on the couch. Cute, but not practical for Ryan's early morning routine. It also wasn't safe because he could get into anything and everything or escape out or sliding glass door. Thanks to a little door handle cover he cannot escape from his room and it also seems to have put the kibosh on his nighttime waking/crying. I'm not holding my breath but I am extremely grateful to my Father in Heaven. Who knew a little plastic contraption that cost less than $2 could bring such peace, safety, and delight! He has gotten up a few times earlier than normal in the morning but as soon as he realizes he can't open the door he goes right back to bed. Heaven! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Family Photo 2012

It seems we have zero family photos. Maybe one a year. We need to do better. Much better! There are a few more of me and g, hardly any of me and r, a good amount of r and g, and tons of g by himself.

This photo is from our first trip back home since moving to Oregon. I love our little family!

What is the tally of photos in your family these days? I don't want to feel like I've constantly got my camera (iphone these days) out, I just want to live life and capture it that way. But then I don't have anything to look back at and I seem to have a fading and horrible memory.

Monday, May 28, 2012

mr. sandman

One thing we are loving about our new home is being much closer to the beach. Yes, the water is chilly, but not cold enough to keep us away from playing in it a bit. So far we have discovered very beautiful beaches both sandy and rocky.

Our most recent trip we went to Newport. It was a two hour drive and well worth it! We liked it much better than Florence, which is 1 hour away. This little man was meant for the sand! Many exciting memories will be made at these beaches.

This beach is going to be perfect for flying kites, which we didn't bring that trip. Next time!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

jengaba: g's ramblings

G is a fan of music and earlier this week he was singing some of his favorite songs from preschool. One of the songs they sing is the good-bye song. I heard him naming off his school friends and then all of the sudden there was a new "friend". Meet "jengaba". Who is the "jengaba"? I have NO IDEA! G has been singing, "Good bye Jengaba, good bye Jengaba." Whenever I ask G who this mystery person is, he just laughs and says it more. So, I decided to find out more. I asked him if Jengaba is an animal or a person. He said, "animal". Then I asked if J is a boy or a girl. G said, "boy". That's about as far as I got for now. So we know that Jengaba is a boy! That's our first clue. On no now I have imagined I'm playing Blue's Clues. I need a break.

In addition to Jengaba, G has been coming up with some other odd names/phrases. His favorite is Bo-dingo-ding. He usually uses it when he's upset at me. I expanded on it the other day saying "mom-bo-dingo-ding". He thought it was hilarious! So then he said, "dad-bo-dingo-ding". And it was the beginning of our own secret language, although I fear most might figure it out pretty quick (I mean a 3 year old did).

Speaking of secret languages. Remember Pig Latin? Ya I never figured it out as a kid and my friends would speak it in front of me. I blame them for ALL of my insecurities. I just know they were gossiping about me every time! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

blog stalking and traffic

The other day a new friend mentioned that she loved my blog and is now "blog stalking" me. I was surprised but glad to know that people actually do read it, especially people that I know! I rarely get comments so I have no idea if the content of my blog is enjoyable, useful, and/or motivating. That is my hope, but I do not claim to be eloquent or whitty with words so I am probably more of just an average blogger who is putting herself and her life out there for the rest of the world to either appreciate or judge. I digress. After my post today, I decided to check out my traffic and I found a new visitor. I decided to click on the link and came across a post they had done on children's art. As I scrolled through the post I came across this photo. MY PHOTO. Its taken from a post I did last year on displaying children's art. I put one of G's in the gallery wall I did in our dining room back in CA. It was a nice little moment realizing that someone appreciated my efforts and attempts at decorating and blogging (although not enough to give me credit).

What are your views on giving credit to photos that aren't your own? I've been trying to do better but with the internet it seems very hard to find the actual original source because people just post on their blogs and don't give credit to source. 

What about children's art? You a fan of displaying it in other places than just on your fridge? I'm sure you're kids are (mishaps on couches, walls, tables). I'd love to see what you've done! 

Are you a blog stalker? I have tried to do better about commenting but then I get insecure and think that my comments don't really matter. True story. I write them and then delete instead of posting! Happens every time.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

oregon life

Its been a while. Too long in fact. The time of "transitioning" is mostly gone (I think) and I think Oregon has begun to feel like home to me. Not "home, home" like the place I grew up, but the new home for our little family. The reason I feel this is because I finally feel homesick. I missed my mother this past week and when a new dear friend hugged me I imagined it was my mother embracing me and for now that hug will do. I am so glad that we moved away on our own. It isn't always easy but so far both Ryan and I have really seen the Lord's hand in our lives and we have grown tremendously! We are developing a really genuine and loving family of friends here. We feel richly blessed. Plus I absolutely know I'd have regretted not taking the chance and I'd always wonder what it'd be like to be on our own. I do miss my family dearly and I am ready for another trip home, but its only been just over a month. It feels like an eternity.

As for the rest of life here's what has been happening:

- G gave up naps, although I believe right at this moment he is crashed out on his bed, no pants and I just heard him cry out in his sleep "take off diaper". The no naps has been really rough. I'm adjusting and we have to get out of the house for a part of the day to survive. there has been sunny weather for a good part of May so that has helped! The clouds and rain returned this week though and its funny how quickly you can forget the sun exists and then when its sunny, how the doom and gloom exists.

- R is working hard! Like 10 hour days at work and then an hour or so of paperwork at home. He is determined and I'm trying to support him. I do get lonely, but I hope to adjust more. The greatest thing is his confidence and happiness levels at work. Yes, he still has patients that stump him, but he needs that to keep growing and keep humble. His greatest growth and opportunities from this job have come in spiritual ways. I can't explain how awesome it is to see him grow and how much I love hearing of his faith building experiences at work as he seeks the Lord's guidance with each and every patient. Its remarkable how the Lord really does hear and answer prayer.

- G and I are part of a Toddler + program in Eugene that is modeled after a special education preschool. It is preparing him for preschool in the fall without me. He continues to make progress and has had another of those overnight leaps in abilities. When those have occurred it is a clear indication to me of the Lord's love for him and his answers to prayer and hard work. They are true miracles!! With the refusal of naps, G started becoming more independent. He comes out of his room on his own which he WOULD NOT do and he is climbing all over furniture and jumping off all sorts of things and now will take on playgrounds and slides even though he still has some trepidation. He was a new kid overnight. I seriously asked, "Where did Gavin go?". You can imagine these advances brought good and bad. All of this and no naps was a whirlwind for me but I am ever so thankful that his brain continues to develop and connections are being made. The research says that Early Intervention works and that its key during these early years 0-3 while the brain is still developing and BOY HOWDY are they right!!

- The duplex is in a constant state of change, no surprise there! I'm on area rug #3 for the living room and I know R is more than ready to be done with that. As far as options that never even made it to our house we're on #?, I lost count. I'd finally order one to then have it not be in stock or then on backorder for months. It got frustrating. Then when some finally made it here the colors were not going to work or one had been laundered (wool) and the dyes were transferring to our clothes and skin. Not good, especially when the rug is over carpet.

- In the mormon church we are asked to serve in different areas of the church without pay. I was recently asked to be an advisor and teacher for the laurel class which is the 16-18 year old girls. That was only a month or so ago and then this past Sunday I became the 1st Counselor in the Young Women Presidency. I will still teach some, but more of my duties will be to specifically look after each individual girl in our church who is 14-15 years old. I was studying the responsibilities last night and making a list. I am excited to get to know these ladies and I hope I can be a positive example for them. I am very lacking in many qualities that would be good for this position, but I am hopeful that the Lord will teach me and help me to develop my abilities where I am weak. R has been very supportive of the time this is taking and the chance to get out and serve and be with these girls has already been a huge blessing to my life!

- We've already been to the beach a couple of times in Florence and Newport and it is absolutely beautiful and there are some great beaches! We are excited for a fun summer and fall! We hiked Spencer's Butte a couple weekends ago and that was really fun too! Beautiful, beautiful views to be had. G and I take lots of trips to the parks here and one of the most fun for us is actually Alton Baker Park. It is right along the Willamette River and is just gorgeous. No playgrounds, we just explore nature and spend lots of time watching the "waterfall" and throwing rocks (or toy tractors) in the "big river".

Throwing rocks at the "BIG RIVER". He's got quite the arm! Definitely a lefty too!

- I'm obsessed with Five Guys. I think we eat there every week and Ryan is a sweetheart for putting up with it. I want to venture out to local places but with G and his limitations we usually have to limit "eating adventures". With the warm weather coming I hope to have more picnics and get take out. We did that a lot last summer and would grab the food and head to a nearby park.

- Our church/ward (EUGENE 5th WARD) is absolutely the most friendly and kind ward ever! We aren't the only ones who feel this way about it either. It is contagious. I really feel like because of the kindness we have a true desire to pass it on and so it just keeps growing. Our bishop is a tender hearted man I can tell and he wants so very much for every individual and family to feel welcome, loved, and he does whatever he can to make sure that happens. He has offered so many things to help accommodate G and his needs and to help ease burdens on our family. I have been given a wonderful and loving visiting teacher who will be a lifetime friend I have no doubt. I have always wanted to have a mature example when I don't have my mother nearby and that is what this sister does for me. Her steady example and consistent little expressions of love for me have meant all the world to me. She too has a son with Autism, he is older, and I am so thankful for her perspective and her experience that I have to glean from.

- We had our first party at the duplex for cinco de mayo. I figured it was the one time the exterior of this gem would possibly blend right in to the fiesta! It was all very last minute but it turned out to be a wonderful evening! I think if it weren't for the kiddos us adults would have spent a few more hours chatting away, maybe even a communal sleepover (we do live in Eugene)? Kidding! Everyone pitched in with the food and that made it way more awesome (and easy). We've got some great new friends!

"Bohemian Mexican Picnic"

I had this great idea for a "bohemian mexican picnic". We sold all of our outdoor furniture before moving from CA so I had the thought to go crazy with blankets (thus the bohemian picnic vibe). I spent a couple nights staying up into the wee hours of the morning fringing mass amounts of tissue paper (not the kind for your bum) and strung it on twine to make it more festive out there. I was told it "made" the party. I sure hope so because it was a labor of love (or self-indulgence). Personally, I think it was the company of some great friends. I really hope we are all a part of each others lives for a long time to come!

We can't forget the food! Thanks to Annie's suggestion and mad skills we had delicious fish tacos. My favorite! Imagine gorgeous fruit kebobs, cilantro rice and spicy black beans, delicious mixed greens salad, blackberry lemonade and cucumber lemon water, and of course its not a party without chips and salsa! I spent way too many hours deciding on dessert since its not really an area of cooking/baking I've explored. I tried some blackberry pie bars from pinterest because I've made similar raspberry bars with great success and they turned out amazing. Even better they were 10x more delicious the next day. Don't you just love that when that happens! BTW, R and I both agreed that the blackberry pie bar recipe was better than the much loved Raspberry bar recipe. It was more pie crusty which we both love! Plus the raspberry bar recipe uses jam and its almost too sweet. The blackberry pie recipe actually had some lemon zest which complimented the berries very nicely!

Speaking of pinterest, I'm still obsessed. As of today I also hit 100 followers. So glad I finally did because now I am sure to become famous in the blogsphere by age 352. I hope I can live until then :). Are you still into pinterest or is it a dying flame for you? Or are you one of those who have yet to bite the hook?

That's it for now. I'll be back soon! I've missed this. I hope you have too!