Giant Long Post

This is a conglomerate post of all the things going on as of late.

1.  Tonight, in hopes of kick starting labor, I embarked on a vigorous (ha...I honestly believe people WALK faster than I was "running") 3 mile jog with these two.  I did not induce labor. I did sweat enough to justify the consumption of ridiculous amounts of Christmas cookies.

2. My kids spend Thursday mornings with my mother in law. She is awesome.  She sent me this pic titled "Selfie Thursday!" It made me smile.

Then I got to her house, and my kids attacked me, trying to shove their dirty little hands in my mouth for no good reason:

Then Grandma Sara informed me that they had not yet had time to get their weekly McDonalds ice cream cones.  She passed the buck (this is the SECOND week in a row that she has let them down and I've had to pick up the slack) so my kids cried until I agreed to stop by McDonalds on the way home.
THEN I pulled up at the McDonalds drive through and was told that their ice cream machine was BROKEN.  BROKEN!?!? So then look at what I had to deal with:

3. Jo had a "preschool program" where they sang 2 songs and then decorated gingerbread houses with their parents.  I have to say- growing up I always felt completely supported by my parents throughout all my sporting/academic events. They never missed anything, they acted like it was the  most important thing in their world, and they liked to talk about my successes or achievements ALMOST as much as I did ;) So now the tables have turned and I found out that it is even MORE fun to be someone's biggest fan than to HAVE someone be your biggest fan.  When I walked into the room and Jo saw me, the look on her face was priceless. She jumped up and down, kept giving me super enthusiastic thumbs up, and then told her preschool buddies that her mom had arrived.  That smile of hers & my proud bursting heart is the most beautiful part of parenting.

4. Jack, my little brother, turned 30.  He's hard to shop for- so no wonder everyone who stopped by brought him the same thing: whiskey!

The best thing ever was that he sent me a thank you card.  The card had kittens on it, and inside was a copy of his senior pic.  It made my day. Then I gave it all to Jo & told her it was a letter to her from Uncle Jack, and it made HER day.  See how much joy he spreads?

5. The kids have an elf on the shelf named BIFF.  Biff brought them a gingerbread house kit, which was a fun activity cut short when I realized how fast they could inhale candy at 9am.

6. Two things about Jo: her headbands tend to droop forward like 80's sweat bands, and her daddy takes her to get hot chocolate & go to the library on Saturdays while Baylor and I nap. Here's a pic of her perusing literature.


Quick Pics

Two recent pics taken by Aunt Laurie- love these!


Our Life, According to Our Christmas Tree

30 years from now our Christmas tree will be a tacky mix of home made and commemorative ornaments- which suits me just fine.  It will never match, coordinate, or have a theme (sorry Gran!).  With that in mind, here's our first 16 years together in Christmas ornaments (in no particular order):

Marriage 2002: 

Jo's birth 2009:

Rucker joined the fam, 2004:

Our forever home 2012:

Grandma Jo passed away in 2012- we have several of her ornaments on our tree but this is the one that I feel is "most grandma jo"

Here's a Grandma Jo & Grandpa Dave ornament:

We got Annie the cat, 2003:

Denver won the Super Bowl ('97 and '98)

We got Tober the cat, 2001, who later was presumed dead after an unexplained absence :(

And...um...Baylor's birth in 2011.  That's not even his picture.  I will rectify this issue before he is old enough to realize that the dead cat ornament is more accurate than his birth ornament, I promise.


A crazy week

Last week was one of the craziest weeks of my life.  Here's what went down:

1. I peeled and mashed 60 lbs of potatoes throughout the week

2. I locked this poor kid and 30 lbs of mashed potatoes in the car on accident...

3. Then this little guy got insanely sick and miserable, for no obvious reason.  We went to urgent care.  Then we went to the ER where he was run through a battery of tests, all to no avail.  As they were giving him an IV Jo observed with her usual amount of empathy, "He's not being a very good sport."  We were eventually sent home with out much of a solution.

4. I spent several nights with Bay on the basement couch watching cartoons and dump truck videos on the ipad.

5. I bought & hung my hands-down-favorite light fixture

6. I bought a new duvet for the bed which inherently necessitated that I repaint this dresser (because my house needs another "M")

7. This little man was feeling no better so we took him to the dr and then ended up in the ER again. Baylor had to have a barium enema under x ray to determine if there was a blockage or twist in his gut.  Since I am pregnant I had to watch Luke hold him down for the procedure from the hallway window.  To my surprise, he barely squirmed or fussed.  When I was able to go back in they told us "it looks like he is maybe just constipated."  I cried in the xray room because this was the best possible news we could hear. Let me tell you- it sucks to go to the ER, it sucks to get ER bills, and it sucks to see your child in pain. But in light of all the things it COULD have been, I'll take a little constipation any day.

8. This little girl got to go play with the Stephens crew while we took Baylor to the hospital

9. No less than every single Stephens pictured below rallied to make Jo feel like an absolute princess during our lengthy ER trip. Let me tell you that my worst nightmare is having someone call and say, "Can I drop my 4 year old off at your house for an unknown amount of time starting in 10 minutes?" the NIGHT before Thanksgiving!?!?! But they took her in with open arms.  I was sitting in the back seat with Baylor when we dropped Jo off with Libby.  I cried when I saw Jo (earnestly wearing her back pack full of toys) jump up & down as Libby opened the door to let her in.  Much later (well past everyone's bed time) when I picked her back up, I walked in to find Jo & Linda snuggled in jammies and blankets on the couch watching sesame street.  Jo barely glanced at me.  I don't think she was ready to come home.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I know that "this is what family is about," but it is entirely different to have a desperate need so abundantly met when you need it most.  I love you guys!

10. We hosted back to back thanksgivings on Thurs & Friday

11.  Luke carved up 44 lbs of turkey over the two days, taking pointers from a master-carver

12. I hit up Home Depot at 5am on black friday (I was already up with Baylor so decided to make the best of it) and got something I SWORE I'd never get- a fake tree.  Prelit, 3 pieces, easy to assemble and no marriage-threatenting fight as we set it up. Totally worth it.

13. I hung all of our Christmas decorations & lights (that is not really our house, FYI)

14. I administered my first enema, with smashing success-- and I am so happy to say (thank God!) that Baylor seems to be quite improved and no longer in pain.


What I look like when I run

I'm still running.  But it isn't attractive.  While I look a little less angry than the picture above, I look no less strained.  Also I'm not as fast.


Deck My Walls

I've been collecting frames from goodwill & trying to narrow down some pics to enlarge for the walls.  For the last year we've had nothing on them, so this will be a grand improvement.  Here's some of my favorites from the last few years:

Luke took this w/his phone- Jo running down our railroad stretch with dandelions this spring.  It looks like she's a flying fairy & I love the look on her face.

This is Baylor @ our 20 hour camping trip this year.  He has a snotty nose, and if I remember right this was about 10 minutes before a nasty bee flew up his sweatshirt & stung the poor kid on the back.

Oh man- this eager little face.  She looks so little in it compared to these days.

I like how her smile is crooked here, mid laugh.

This is one of my all time favorites.  Blurry, out of focus, no one has brushed their hair or teeth.  It is the perfect snapshot of the season of life we're in.  Baylor's face is the best.  

Beauty- bright eyes, perfect skin and full of light.

I love to watch these three.  Dad meets all their roughhousing needs.  They wrestle on the bed while I'm cooking dinner and 9 times out of 10 I stop what I'm doing to go watch the laughter & cringe at how close they come to flying off the edge.

Berry picking this summer.  I can never get them to look at the camera at the same time, but sometimes I can get them to touch at least.

This might be my all time favorite Baylor pic.  Luke took it on his phone. I love that Baylor's been pulled onto the porch so Dad can supervise him while painting.  I love the light on the porch floor & my running shoes sitting there.  I love that Baylor is in a diaper only, his chubby little legs & feet are touching, and he's holding up a goldfish cracker for Luke to see.

A short glimpse into the preparations we're making for the fifth member of our family.  Forever after there will be five of us, and it will be odd to recall a time before we were all here.  

Baylor with his shaggy mop that has grown even more out of control.  He's due for a buzz cut as soon as I muster up the energy to restrain him for the task.  But I WILL miss those precious blonde curls.


Chex Mix

There are several things I'd call symbolic/iconic/traditional to the Stephens family.  Popcorn with butter & Johnny's (never lawry's) seasoning salt.  Fried chicken.  Ironing table clothes, peeling potatoes & dad laying out the silver for thanksgiving dinner.  But hands down, the most important thing to my family is:


Mom is a salt fiend and has raised three like minded children.  Typically for our birthdays we got chex mix instead of cake, as per our preference.  Mom usually eyeballed the ingredients and as a result, no one really has a clear, reproduce-able, recipe.  When I ask about proportions my mom vaguely suggests that I add more butter, more salt, or more worcestershire...or all three.  So every batch is a little different. It doesn't matter- as long as my fingers and feet swell up and I feel like I'm salt-curing my innards, I know I've come close.

Yesterday I decided it had been too long since I last made chex mix, so I texted ashley.

Me: I don't have a plan for dinner but I think I will make chex mix.  I'm trying for the perfect recipe proportions.
Ash: Ok. Kristi & I decided to make some.
(I love that- it was like she was implying there had been any other option)

Then we went back & forth on some ingredient amounts.

Then we both swelled up from too much salt.

This morning I texted her again.

Me: The kind of gross but inevitable pairing the morning after you make chex mix: coffee and chex mix.
Ash: Funny that you mention that... (pic below)

Nice.  I'm sure the salt content of chex mix would be manageable if I didn't insist on eating it all within 12 hours of making it....