Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cuddling Consequences

Well of course you see pictures of MY "consequences" all the time (it all started with a cuddle... actually, with home teaching.  Actually with moving into Foxwood. And so forth.) But here we are talking about that Riley.

Riley is a cuddle monster and I will bet you one MILLION dollars that nothing is better than her chubby arms wrapped around my neck and her awkward baby kiss that leaves sticky on my cheek. However I have two videos on my camera from this week and they both show that being so darn huggable is not without costs.

Oh Joe, you little bully you.

Then you've got this little guy - our neighbor friend who camped out by the door and wailed when his mom dropped him off (so cute/sad). Riley was beside herself trying to cheer him up - she kept trekking up and down the stairs with her books and toys, tried to get him to stomp with her, shoved her binkie in his mouth - all for naught (I was there too, obviously, but my attempts to console him were not well received either, understandably - mom just wasn't me!) Then Riley moved in with full cuddle energy and well, it worked just a little too well. She was wrapped up for about seven minutes and it probably would have been longer but she eventually pinched his cheeks so he, reluctantly, let her go.

And we all learn valuable lessons -

  •  Cuddlers beware: if you are going to engage, always make sure you have an exit strategy.
  •  Cuddler hopefuls: come on too strong and you might end up alone and sore-cheeked.
  • Don't gross out your brother.

 And you think YOU are the one meant to be teaching THEM the lessons :)

*Editors note 11/30/12: I just got off the phone with my mom - I told her about the cuddle session of yesterday and I thought her response was just lovely: she pointed out what great empathy a one-year old showed in reaching out to her distraught visitor. There is the real take-away lesson, isn't it? That there is nothing wrong with focusing all our energy in alleviating the distress of others, and if we can bring ourselves to bother with others, to overcome whatever reticence is holding us back and give them a piece of ourselves, we can make the world a better place. Go ahead - give em a hug! 

Ah, that Mom - she has some pretty inspirational perspectives! Mom's are special like that, and I guess I need to up my game, being a mom and all. There was a definitely more to be got from this experience than cuddling guidelines for a preteen playbook. Though I will someday have preteens...and to them, you are welcome, in advance. 

But seriously, the world needs more huggin'!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Easy like sunday morning? Haha, good one.

That Lionel Richie was full of crap - Sunday mornings are fun and exciting times but about as easy as playing pick up sticks with your butt cheeks (um, that was from 'Planes, Trains, and Automobiles', a certain mother's favorite movie so... the crass saying stays.) Nevermind that we don't have church till one, we always find ample ways to fill the time. Have a few pictures from our day, beginning about 6:30am:

Joe comes into his own when he manages to tangle a fistful of Riley's hair around his fingers. 
She actually enjoyed it as much as he did.
Riley decides to "help" unpack Christmas decor:
We roust Dave from his slumbers so we can finish the tree together!
Good morning, starshine! The earth says, "Hello!" (we've been watching a lot of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory lately. Someone maybe should get us new children's movies for Christmas.) 
Riley is nothing if not persistent. Gets it from Dave, I think - this battle of the wills lasted about ten minutes.
Daddy helping Riley hang the book bear.
Then Riley helping Joe, but not getting much interest from that quarter.
And finally: our beautiful, childproofed tree? We'll see...

Cupcakes for the my lesson today, complete with Christmas tree sprinkles.

And finally: getting dolled up for church. The moment I saw her unscrew the mascara and swipe it across her face kind of passed in horrified slow motion. 
Well THANKS, fine motor skill development - life just got a little more complicated.
Of course, add in all the usual stuff: breakfast, diapers, get spit up on, weather a candy-cane removal induced toddler meltdown, baths, lunch, vacuum crumbs by the tree (Riley's new favorite place to eat), launder for the sake of clean undies, and pack the diaper bag - add all that stuff and you would have a more complete account.

I guess the point is, if Lionel Richie were being honest, the song would go, "Easy like Sunday mornings before kids or church callings." Or, "Crazy like Sunday mornings." But EASY like Sunday morning?? I love your sweet jams, Lionel, but lets get real. Pick up sticks.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Happy Thanksgiving! How cool is it that we have a national holiday to give thanks and to be with family and friends? As we were driving to Don and Suzettes for feasting yesterday, it was fun to see all the other cars full of smiling people on their way to dinner, yards full of football players having annual turkey bowls, gas station parking lots full of people getting forgotten items for their menu because the grocery store was closed...oh it was just perfect. 

Andrea and I were the last ones to arrive because the 40 rolls I made (for just the 10 of us) took longer to rise than I thought, and when we walked into the kitchen I slid a pan of rolls onto an already-loaded table, looked around at everyone chatting and laughing and thought, "you just can't put a price on this." There is nothing like being surrounded by happy people and sitting down for a good meal together, in a home where people love and care about each other, which the Harreld home certainly is. We have lots of loved ones elsewhere who we didn't get to see yesterday, but I'm pretty sure we were all together in spirit, full of warm fuzzies and feeling truly grateful for all the things that matter most.

 And here they are : family and friends - the "things" that matter most:

Chair appetizers - yum.
Riley steals some focus again.

Sisters, sisters never were there such devoted sisters la la la scoobadeedee.
Baby begger/sometimes bully.
Sometimes your feet get hot and you are too tired to take off your shoes. And if Karen's nice enough to do it for you, maybe she wants to give up her coke as well? If Karen were Grandpa, it would have worked; luckily she's not.
It isn't a party till Don gives in and plays us the Thanksgiving Polka!

Not pictured: you-tube watching, football, jumping around, wood working (Don and Dave fixed our chairs so now you don't have to feel bad if you come for dinner and your chair collapses under you) and lots and lots of pie.

About six thirty we headed home. Riley had fought her nap earlier with every fiber of her being so by then she was literally begging to go to bed. The kids were sound asleep by the time we got home and after we tucked them in I got to go see a movie with Ander, Em and Chris while Dave stayed home watching snowboarding videos. His season starts on Saturday and if the time he has spent on waxing his snowboard and fixing his bindings is any indications, he is pretty darn excited!

We saw the final Twilight movie and it was pretty entertaining. We had a little obnoxious commentary from time to time, but I think that actually improved it. Like the bedroom scene got dialog from "Elf" ("Tickle fight!" You maybe had to be there.) We had a good time, but my goodness - not as much as the elderly missionary couple from Em and Chris's ward that we ran into on our way out! I've never seen a full-grown man, at least 60 years old, so excited about, well...anything. He thought the story line was the best ever and that the acting was just gripping and "did you notice all that gospel symbolism - it was almost a spiritual experience!" (guess he knows the writer was Mormon). Holy cow! He might be one of the most awesome older guys I've ever met. His wife, Guadalupe, looked about 25 years his junior. But don't worry - golddiggers don't usually go for missionaries, right?

Anyways...add exuberant strangers to your list of things to be thankful for. Also on the list: turkey and stuffing, autmnal bouquets, cinnamon, health, laugh lines, fire places, shelter from the cold, sweaters, boots, handy-man husbands, attractive husbands, transportation, freezer food, disposable diapers, new glasses, day dreams about the future, the Christmas Carol (yes, it is time). And YOU - if you are reading this chances are we know you and like you a lot.

It's a ponderous list! This time of year is a good time to reset priorities, take things less for granted. To help me with this goal I turned to a talk given by my bff Elder Wirthlin. Not that he knows me, plus he is in heaven, but the dear man's words always inspire me and I am a pretty big fan. The talk I'm referring to is "Living in Thanksgiving Daily" and you won't find better advice on learning to live gratefully not just at Thanksgiving but all the time. Of course, you maybe can't read it now because you read THIS novel, but you should definitely add it to your holiday reading list.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Friday, November 16, 2012

BFF's and an official retraction

Yesterday's post stated that Riley is her normal happy self despite sickness.

 Let me rephrase that: as of today, hell hath no fury like a sleep deprived, sick Riley. After her nap it was a solid hour of screaming, rolling on the floor, pushing Joe off my lap, biting me, and other such tantrum behavior. I managed to get the better part of a dose of tylenol down her finally, which I think helped, and I also prayed some fervent prayers, which I'm certain helped the both of us (I mean, I didn't end up locking myself in the closet to rock back and forth in a fetal position like I thought I might, which, honestly, was kind of a miracle.)

Yesterday's post also mentioned Joe's second-best friend, a stuffed lamb. His first bestie is of course Riley - no one can turn Joe's frown upside down like big sis.

Case in point: While I was fixing dinner tonight (after the hour-long apocalypse had resolved) Joe started fussing in his swing. So Riley instantly got in his face to say, "Hiiiiyaaa," real cheesy like, and suddenly he was all smiles again. They were so cute, I started videoing, right as Riley changed the game to "Squish the Baby," which turned out to be a bigger hit than you would have thought:

Could he be any happier??
Riley likes to be squished too. It's the darndest thing.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cutenesssss. And disease. And Vampires.

Bath time! Still the best time! Especially since we caught our ten BILLIONTH cold of the season.

I took the babies to the doctor on Tuesday for Riley's excema. I wish! After a fun hour wait (I'm not being sarcastic there, it really was fun - Riley crushed on another toddler and entertained the whole room flirting with him), the doctor told us that yes, her crusty thumb was excema. The rash on her belly though was viral, and her inflamed eardrums suggested a bacterial infection as well.  Basically, don't come to our house because Riley is an incubus of plague and we wouldn't want you to die. Though she doesn't seem to mind it too much - she is as busy and excitable as ever.

Joe is sick too, and Dave was up with him last night from 11-4 :(. Dave: the last healthy Munion. Yep, I'm sick too. Kinda guilty glad to have had an excuse to sleep last night... My poor husband. He took a nap at his desk for his lunch today and he is sleeping on the couch as I type. Obviously exhausted, yet still patient and fun when he walks in the door - I love him so much.

But back to Joe. This next video shows him chatting to his second best friend, the stuffed lamb that Aunt Mel sent him. He does that, when he's not mauling its widdle face off.

The Red-Handed Bandit strikes again!
She is awesomely entertaining, Riley is! We got her some washable markers and she loves them. She quickly learned that if she stuck them in her mouth or up her nose I would take them away, so now I never catch her doing it, but I just have to turn for a moment and BAM - she has a orange nostril, or lip or whatever. But props to her - she must be watching me like a hawk for me never to catch her in the act.

Breaking Dawn, Part Dos, comes out tonight. I'm a little on the fence about going to see it. Like Captain Hook when he is telling Smee,
"Don't try to stop me Smee!"
"Oh not again!"
"This is it, don't try to stop me this time Smee, don't try to stop me this time Smee, don't you dare try to stop me this time Smee try to stop me. Smee you better get up off your arse and get over here Smee! Stop me, Smee! This is not a joke!"
Meh, I'll probably see it. Not every movie has to be a Sundance Film treasure and vampires aren't too hip and happening, but haters gonna hate - its the grand finale!

Friday, November 9, 2012


Second snowfall! Am I going to blog every snow fall? Well maybe - it's a pretty exciting event around here...

In other news:


Recall how I have been trying to teach Riley how to do chores? Its wildly out of control! I feel like Mickey on Fantasia, after he swipes the wizard's wand and casts a spell on the broom to make it do his chores and then it just keeps on going, well beyond the reason.

My magic broom now unloads the dishwasher for me whether it is clean or dirty. I get surprise piles of dirty silverware in the utensil drawer and bowls with oatmeal stuck on them shoved in the pan drawer. If I leave folded laundry where she can reach it, she "refolds" it and stacks it on the floor. If she finds paper on the floor, it goes in the trash. When I vacuum, she insists on helping me push and drag (she LOVES the vacuum. Literally. She bends down to kiss it about every 10 seconds.) And heaven forbid I leave my shoes lying around, because shoes are going to go on someone's feet, be it her own or Joe's or mine - if someone doesn't wear them she can reeeeally get cranky. Oh and if she notices Joe being stinky before I do, she WILL try to change his diaper. May she never succeed in actually removing it. Please oh please oh please.

Basically she is a doer. She wants to do EVERYTHING. She doesn't even want to play horsey with her Daddy anymore - she wants to BE the horse, which gets pretty tricky for us giant riders trying not to crush her.

I look forward to the day when she surprises me doing the laundry and it is actually a pleasant surprise. Until then, thanks for keeping it real, kiddo!

PS: We like cookies around here and I made these the other night and would have to say: they are the BEST THING YOU COULD EVER HAVE WITH HOT CHOCOLATE ON A SNOWY NIGHT! I couldn't let off the caps with that phrase there so we'll all just have to live with that.

Mom's Amish Almond Butter Cookies:

1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond flavoring
4 1/2 cups flour
1  tsp. baking soda
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. cream of tartar
Combine sugar, butter, and oil.  Mix until combined well. Add eggs and vanilla and almond flavor and mix until combined.  Add dry ingredients.
Drop 1 1/2 inch pieces on a slightly greased cookie sheet.  Flatten cookie dough just a little with the bottom of a glass.  (Can dip glass in sugar)
Bake 375 degrees for 10 minutes.  Do not overbake. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes and then remove cookies to a cooling rack. Except for the 2 stuffed in your mouth - you keep those. Nom nom nom...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

GMAT - Check.

That Dave is such a smartypants! We are so proud of him - after about 6 weeks of semi-consistent study, he has gone and got a 720 on the GMAT (which is in the 94th percentile and good enough to probably get in any MBA program he wanted). He didn't think he'd do that great since he didn't take an expensive GMAT study class or do the recommended 3 month minimum preparation. I am so proud of him for doing so well despite the obstacles. Studying, I've decided, is not very compatible with our lifestyle. I'm sure he could have done even better had it not been for getting up with teething babies at night and playing with/getting babies to bed in the evenings.

He is excited, really. Now we get to fill out a bunch of applications and write some essays and apply for scholarships and voila - this time next year we could be in some fa-lutin fancy grad school in New England, Birkenstocking around Berkley, chanting for Rudy at Notre Dame, or hanging with our VA family at UVA. Or maybe we'll stay in UT and do BYU again - who knows! It sure is an exciting time!

Andrea offered to stay with our sleeping babies so we celebrated Dave's victory by going on a hipster date, dressed as hipsters. Luckily, Dave has a corduroy blazer for such occasions. We decided hipsters go to cafes for soup and people watching, then go buy sweaters and baby adidas, and then see a film from the Sundance Film Festival (Beasts of the Southern Wild - LOVED it. It was the perfect mix of reality and imagination, hardship and beauty. I recommend it.)
Despite our lack of new i phones, I think we make pretty good hipsters. Also, did you notice the picture behind my face?? I have a mini Riley poking me in the eye! It's a lot pleasanter than the real thing let me tell you...

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Christmas morning face on Halloween? Awesome!
Hope everyone had fun last night, or at least got to eat some candy while snowed in... Myself, I don't remember the last Halloween as fun as this one was! Mainly because I stayed up late the night before making treats and decorating and making A BABY HAUNTED HOUSE, which Dave joined me for (despite GMAT studying - test tomorrow!). It was just a cardboard box taped to the wall with construction paper glued to it, but we had a fun time making it and then the babies played in and around it for about two hours yesterday, so I'd call that a success. By "babies" I mean the 11 little tots from church we had over for a Halloween playdate, along with their 8 moms - it was cozy in here! We had all the furniture pushed back against the walls and let chaos ensue in the middle of the living room and kitchen, where, by the way, we had a groaning table full of treats people brought. More than half was left over because there was so much food (my kind of party! :)

So costumes: Riley started out as a monkey and Joe a banana. The monkey costume was hot and had mittens that annoyed her so it only lasted about an hour and then she transformed into a ladybug. Thanks for the costume, Mom!

 Joe was pretty happy as a banana. When he got bored, he just turned his head and had felt to chew on.

 We had Pacman and a ghost, Yoda and an ewok, Pebbles, a piggy, a pumpkin, a racoon, a banana, a ladybug, and an owl. Baby's in costumes are the best! Partly because they are so natural. All, "I'm adorable and crazy and crazy adorable every day of the year."

 We had a blast! I'm only sad I didn't get a video because it was CRAZY. Babies popping their heads in and out of those haunted windows, swarming over the dessert table, stomping up and down the stairs, grabbing each others' costumes...craziness.

I think I could make a tradition out of this.  When do you think babies stop being thrilled by an indoor hunted house? 20? One can only hope.

And finally, we got trick or treaters this year for the first time. We were even visited by mini Men in Black! We still have nerds and bubbleyum left over enough to last us for a while though, so win win!

I guess Halloween can be a real holiday after all.