Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Favorite Features

I love Gwen's Baby Blue Eyes
and her cute Pink Tongue.
And, don't tell her!, I think the dimples in her lil bum are adorable!

She loves her feet
and her hands the best, I think.

I love Eric's hazel eyes,
his warm, rough hands,
and his manly jawline.
I don't think he could care less about any of the above. :) He's more interested in having a manly mustache.

Interestingly enough, my favorite features on myself are my slender neck and clavicle, my small wrists, and my large eyes (sometimes... other times they look like bug eyes. It is definitely variable).
I'm sure Eric has his own opinions. I'll spare you. :)

What are your favorite features on yourself? Do you think they are different from the favorites of your loved ones?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Life's Lessons #3: Food Does Not Have Feelings

I stare at the few lonely grains of rice on Eric's plate. Or the isolated bite of broccoli. Or the sad carrot left out from the salad. My own plate is invariably clean and spotless. And I squirm in my seat. Trying not to be concerned. It is, afterall, Eric's dinner. Not mine. But in the end I can't resist asking, "Are you going to eat that, Dear?" To which he replies, "No, I'm full."

Now, I don't want it. I'm actually quite full. Satisfied. Content. But what do I say?

"Well then, I'll take it."

Why? Because I don't want this poor bite of pizza or that sad spoonful of soup or that pathetic lump of couscous to be left out. Don't want it to feel rejected and abandoned as it is tossed thoughtlessly in the garbage! Ever eaten the last 1/2 cup of something because you knew it wasn't enough to save in a tupperware but didn't want it to go to waste? Because it might feel like it was being left out of the party. All its buddies got eaten and are together there in the incredible journey through your digestive system while this lonely morsel is about to be thrown away. No. I must eat it. It is the compassionate thing to do.

Okay, this is not a good way to feel about food. Especially considering the pending toddler years and vast amounts of uneaten food that will be pushed around on plates without entering a little mouth. I am trying to eat less, not consume everybody else's leftovers. Maybe it comes from my growing up years when there were food shortages. Or from the lavish compliments I received as a child for my healthy appetite and ability to eat EVERYTHING on my plate. (I always won the Daddy-cooked pancake eating competition with my siblings on Sunday mornings). Whatever the root cause, thinking more about the emotional health of a non-sentient item on my plate rather than about my own goals is not conducive to a healthy lifestyle. A rational approach to food, I think, is one of life's important lessons and perhaps even a lesser virtue. And so, Eric is trying to help me to learn:

Food Does Not Have Feelings!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Serving

I think I tend to get pretty wrapped up in myself sometimes. Self-absorbed, self-pity, a lil too concerned about truly silly things like the appearance of wrinkles in our new slipcovers, or the clutter of books at the top of the stairs that still don't have a bookshelf. Yes, I allow myself to get pretty stressed about things that don't even matter. That is one reason why I am so blessed to have opportunities to serve others.

Just before Easter I went with some friends to serve lunch at the YWCA Family Center, an emergency shelter for families. It was a while ago, but I wanted to write about the experience anyway. While putting delicious food on a plate, I realized I was happy and content... and full of joy and light. Maybe it was seeing the eagerness in leaden eyes because this food is more than nutrition (which it wasn't really--so much butter!). This meal is something like hope and generosity that you can pick up with your fork. Serving lunch was serving out love and goodness to those who see so much of despair and the worst of human nature. Okay, I should serve just to help them. I should. But isn't it wonderful to feel that warmth in your chest when you are able to bring a smile to someone's face? To hear the sincere thanks for a good lunch from a father trying to get back on his feet and provide for his family? To compliment a mom on her beautiful eyes or her well-behaved kids and see her stand up a lil taller as the compliment lifts some of the weight of her housing crisis from her shoulders? To make a downcast child feel special just by the way you conspiratorially offer him his rice crispy treat?

I love serving. I feel happiest when I am giving to others. And I'm grateful for the reminder that my petty problems are not significant. I am grateful for the love that showers down on us all from our Lord, Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to serve some of my brothers and sisters at the YWCA Family Center. A small lunch. But a great experience in my heart.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

First Time to the Zoo... and Barely Interested

Gwen went to the zoo for the first time on Friday. Some friends had free passes with their membership and invited several of us along. It was great to get out of the house, especially since the weather had been cold and rainy... it was wonderful to have a glorious sunny reprieve!

I guess everyone else thought so too. Or maybe it was because of spring break for some schools. Or maybe it was the new baby elephant. (which we didn't actually get to see because the line was 1 1/2 hours long). Whatever the reason, the zoo was packed.

Charlotte thought the lions were a riot. Can you tell she is screaming in excitement? She was so funny to watch!



Gwen didn't enjoy the animals as much as Eliza and Charlotte did. As usual, I think she thought her Binky strap was more entertaining than anything else. But she did enjoy the stroller and being outside. She actually took her nap in the dark Aquarium with about 200 kids creating quite a screaming din. But, interestingly enough, it was that din that provided the white background noise she needed to fall asleep. Huh. Who would have thought.

So at the end of the trip, I was shocked to see two awake lil girls in those car seats rather than two conked out babies after all that excitement. I guess she likes the zoo. Despite how little interest she expressed in the animals. BTW, she has since become extremely interested in the antelope on our wall. She cranes her head back to stare at it. Maybe those animals made an impression after all...

Thanks, Anita and Sarah, for inviting Julie and me along! It was great!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Big Week for Gwen

Gwen really made leaps and bounds this week!... well, okay, so no leaping or bounding yet, but she did figure out some things.

a) she now rolls from front to back in addition to back to front. It is nice because she doesn't get stuck on her tummy and yowl at us to roll her back anymore. She just does it herself!

b) she discovered how to get out of her blankets EVERY TIME no matter what double burrito method we try. This has made getting her to sleep a real challenge. (because she has NEVER gone down for even a 2 minute nap without being swaddled) She gets out and then cries and whines in her crib. We wrap her again... and she's out five minutes later crying again because she is so tired and wants to go to sleep. Eventually she gets so worn out that she'll fall asleep before she can get out. But it takes a while. And there is lots of crying involved. Very sad for the lil gal.

c) she discovered the whole-hearted laugh! here she is thoroughly amused by mommy's and daddy's noises:

video

ps. notice her slightly pink cheeks? A result of a fun day at the zoo without being sunscreen prepared. (bad mommy) Stay tuned for another post on that!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Baring my Soul


I used to keep an excellent journal. From Junior High, Highschool, and my first 2 years of college, I was an almost daily diligent writer. Then my mission happened, then 2 majors happened, then Eric happened, then working full time happened, then Gwen happened... and my journal writing has petered off to non-existent because I'm so pooped by the end of the day. So it occurred to me that my blog is a way to recapture that journaling habit. I post daily happenings and experiences. I only need to add some personal soul baring, and it is a bonafied journal. Here's to radical honesty:


I cringe every time I see a photo of myself.

Is that what I really look like? I don't feel that frumpy, but it definitely looks that way.I gained quite a bit of weight during my pregnancy with Gwen. Pretty normal, as far as pregnancies go, but I haven't really lost it. Just redistributed it. And since I was trying to get back in shape when we got pregnant, I have quite a ways to go before hitting my target. I decided during all the Easter festivities that as soon as the holiday was over I would finally go on a healthy diet. True to that commitment, I spent a few hours yesterday researching healthy caloric and nutritive intake levels for lactating women. I talked to friends who have been on successful healthy diets (not just the crash kind) to find out some tips and secrets for lasting motivation and enduring results. And then it really started to sink in.

This is going to be HARD work.

I have a long way to go. We got a scale last week so I've spent the week tracking my daily weight. I hover right around-- am I really about to share this information to the entire online bloggerdom?-- 170 pounds. Since my target is 145 (that's what I weigh when I'm fit and muscular. Without the muscle, it should be even lower for my height.), that is a 25 POUND LOSS! Those aren't going to peel off overnight, folks, or even in a couple of months. We're talking long term commitment if I want to reach this goal. It'll be difficult because:
a) I LOVE food! And gourmet international cooking! To me it sounds like a culinary disaster to replace key flavor ingredients with low/fat free substitutions or to skip those recipes altogether. Who wants to have feijouada without the various fatty meats? What if I want to grill lemon-barbeque pork ribs in the summer? What's a good chowder without cream? I know there are alternatives, but most reduce the flavor and therefore, enjoyment, of the food. I want complete freedom to pursue any recipe I find that sounds delicious, not a stunted range of options. Plus, I love to bake and enjoy cake decorating... how can I not eat it when it is sitting right there? This will be very challenging for me.
b) I am tired. and busy. It will be just too easy to make excuses for skipping my exercise each day.
c) but mostly because I am not sure I can really do it.

I'm afraid.

I'm afraid I will give in to temptation. I'm afraid I will lack willpower. I'm afraid I'll tire of healthy menus and snacks and indulge a little too often in a non-healthy recipe. I'm afraid there will be holidays, birthdays, and special social events that threaten my consistency. I'm afraid the weight will be stubborn in coming off. I'm afraid I'll compare myself to other, more successful postpartum moms. I'm afraid I will become frustrated. I'm afraid I will lose motivation after a short 2 weeks. I'm afraid I will fall terribly short of my goal. I'm afraid I will never feel confident about my figure again. I'm afraid I will never feel satisfied looking in the mirror again. I'm afraid of giving up and consigning myself to frumpdom for the rest of my life. I'm afraid I am not going to be able to do this. I'm afraid I don't have what it takes to stick it out to the end of my goal. I'm afraid of failure.

*sigh*. I know I can't have faith and fear at the same time. All things are possible if we put our faith in Christ. Funny to think that my diet matters to Him. "Fear not; Only believe"

I can't really ask you to pray for me and my 'diet' because that just sounds like a really shallow prayer. But if it occurs to you sometime in the next 6 months to pray for me to stick to my nutritional plan, I would be really grateful. I need all the support I can get. My plea is the same as the father who brought his sick daughter to Christ for healing and needed help doing his part:

"Lord, help Thou mine unbelief".

Thanks for letting me bare my soul.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Thinking Outside the Box for a "Not-Your-Typical" Easter!

We decorated eggs on Friday. Well, I didn't want to make a big mess with egg decorating, so we just used toothpicks dipped in food coloring and stippled onto the eggs in a real "avant garde" method! Fun, SUPER easy clean up, and made me feel like I was one of those Dutch egg painters that do the really detailed paintings on the shells. We had so much fun experimenting with the Lawrences and have some pretty creative results:

We had our egg hunt on Saturday (indoors-- Eric was worried the neighbors might see. :) and saved Sunday for focusing on the Savior and His supernal Atonement. The ward choir production went really well and Eric's solo/duet was beautiful! And then we came home, put our grumpy baby to bed, and proceeded to cook...
As you also may know, we don't buy our meat from the grocery store. We buy it from the Department of Fish and Game... ha ha, what I mean is, Eric buys tags and licenses and then hunts the meat and fishes the fish himself. (okay, so technically since Eric hasn't had time this year it was mostly his Dad that did the hunting and we just benefit from the meat that he shares). Anyway, a traditional American Easter dinner might have ham in there somewhere... but Eric has never hunted wild boar and we aren't even quite sure how we would go about curing the meat into ham... or whether it would taste anywhere near as yummy anyway... so we opted to do something a lil different: we had fried butterflied duck breast medallions on a bed of spinach and salad greens with blue cheese stuffed baked pears all drizzled with a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette dressing. Sounds exotic, no? Well it was surprisingly EASY and absolutely DELICIOUS!!! 5 for flavor and 5 for ease of preparation! Here's the recipe:

4 duck breast halves, butterflied, breaded in 1/2 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper, and pan fried in 1-2 T vegetable oil
4 pears, cored (go up from the bottom using a melon baller or spoon if you want the entire pear whole or cut in half and core if you don't care), filled with 4 oz crumbled blue cheese, then baked in the oven (lay on their sides, otherwise cheese will melt out) on 350 F for 10-15 minutes until soft.
lay out spinach and desired salad greens on plates, place warm duck in center, and arrange pears on side. Drizzle all with desired vinaigrette dressing (I highly recommend Kraft Sun-Dried Tomato). Wualah! Delicious!
For dessert we had Hazelnut Torte with strawberries. Sounds amazing, and was good, but not compared to dinner. And it was a lot of work. The hazelnut crust was definitely a WOW, but the strawberries and cream layers could just as easily have been plain ole strawberries in whipped cream. Not gross, by any means, but not the rich dessert I thought it would be. Maybe next time I'll make it a cream cheese icing layer instead of whipped cream. Anyway, 4 for flavor and 3 for ease of preparation. I'm including pictures, but if you want the recipe, you'll have to let me know.



So there you have it, a lil different, not-your-typical Easter.... Easter Allan-style!:)

Friday, April 10, 2009

I love my baby. I can't believe she is 5 months old. Seriously. I was talking to a friend last night reminiscing about decorating Easter eggs at her house last year and realizing that we hadn't even told anyone at that time that we were expecting... and it seems like just yesterday! Where did the time go? Was that really a year ago? Is Gwen REALLY almost 1/2 a year old? How is that possible?

So, I thought I would mention only 1 of my recent and many favorites. Gwen has discovered my hair. And she has quite the grip. No matter if my hair is down or up, she manages to get her fingers in there! If I pick her up to burp her, her hands snake around my neck and find the locks that I've swept back "out of her reach" (yeah right). If I pick her up to carry her upstairs, I think she's cuddling and giving me a hug... but she's really making a dive for my tender neck hair. If I'm wearing my hair up and out of the way in a ponytail, she reaches her fingers in next to my scalp and pulls (painfully, i might add) until a fistful chunk of hair works loose from the rubber band. When I bend down to blow on her belly or tickle her, she grabs my hair preventing me from getting away. Her revenge, I guess, for getting her belly.

The funniest time, though, was when she grabbed a fistful of hair on the left side of my head, a fistful of hair on the right side of my head, and pulled as hard as she could...forcing me to cringe and lower my face closer to hers...so that she could plant her little mouth squarely over my chin and proceed to suck on it! She reigned me in right where she wanted me! And used my hair to keep me there too, while she sucked for a solid minute and I just sat there laughing.

some pics:
about to go in for kill. Notice the wide open mouth. When you see this, it means she is gonna plant herself for a good suck/slobber fest.

Reaching for the camera and being absolutely perplexed when her arched back and faces didn't get her what she wanted...




And after all the excitement, it wouldn't be a photo shoot without the obligatory spit up... :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How Beautiful!


Gwen will be 5 months tomorrow. Wow. Time has just flown. This photo is actually when she turned 4 months, but I just got it from my mom and HAD to share because I think she is beautiful! And this was even when she was sick with that nasty bug that gave her a 101 temp... boy, I wish I looked that good when I was sick! Tomorrow I'll be taking another photo shoot for 5 months... stay tuned.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Love the Color...

My favorite color moments while on vacation visiting my in-laws in Idaho:

Love the Allan home Purple Hyacinths.

Love the newly remodeled tan bathroom-- I felt like I was getting a ritzy hotel shower opp!

Love Gwen's baby blue eyes.Here she is on her tummy... why? Because she ROLLED OVER from her back! She has really nailed down the method. but hates being on her belly after only a short time. we're working on going back the other direction.

Love the yellow flame of birthday candles... and the story behind them too!

Love Jan's April Fool's "Orange Sticks". She was quite the prankster!

Love Mama Allan's golden fresh baked bread.

Love Bryce's white shirt? Or maybe I love the tan color of his skin? okay, that one was a stretch... I just wanted to include this pic of him and Gwen.

Love Papa Allan's black "E" chart during our eye exams. Which resulted in some cute new glasses I'm looking forward to! To be fair to Papa Allan, I ought to include something about loving his camo somethin... but I'm not sure that is honest. :)

Love the silver personally engraved baby spoon from "Aunt" Dee as Gwen tries out her first rice cereal! Sometimes she liked it... but not in this pic!

Love Edward (Gwen's cousin)'s chocolate brown eyes. He sure loved Uncle Eric... but that might be because "Eric" almost sounds like "elk" which was a new word he is learning.

Love Elise's beautiful red hair.

Love the exciting and gutsy spectrum of colors in the set and costuming of Nanny McPhee which I saw for the first time with the fam... and LOVED it! Highly recommend this fun flick if you are bored and need a movie!


Love the absence of silver on Elise's post-braces white teeth!

Love Gwen's cute pink tongue. She is enamored with sticking it out at us every time she smiles!

Love Elise's b-day green bike! Can't wait for summer and another trip out!

It was a great colorful trip guys! Thanks for havin us!