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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Selfilsh Mom

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Carter was in an early intervention program.  You age out at three.  As part of his exiting the program, they have you go meet with your local preschool.  After age three, if your child still has delays, it is up to the school district to meet those needs. The preschool tested him to see if he was still delayed and needed their services.

First off--the test was crazy long.  We were there for a little over an hour.  I was really proud watching him use his language and respond so well.  But, by the end he was crawling around on the floor or starring blankly at them and refusing to answer.  I can't blame him...that's a long time for a three year old to be asked question after question.

The results came back and he was in the normal range...including language!  This was my biggest area of concern.  I was so relieved and proud of how much progress he's made.  Way to go buddy!

However, he did score low in one area: cognitive.  It was the last area they tested him in, and they said he might have passed, but because he wouldn't answer they had to mark the answers as incomplete.  Because of this, he qualified to go to the school.

While this preschool seemed great (play based) and the staff seemed knowledgeable I just didn't feel comfortable.  Sending Carter off to preschool, at age 3?  They even offered a bus that could come pick him up.  I just couldn't fathom sending him off on a bus already.

Claudy and I weighed the option seriously.  I talked to a friend who majored in early childhood education.  And, we finally decided to decline.  There were multiple reasons.  But, honestly the biggest one was that I wasn't ready to let him go.  Some may call this selfishness and I'm fine with that.  I am very greedy when it comes to time with my children.

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I recently read in an article about a mother who said that school is a vortex which children go into and once they come out they're adults.  I believe it.  Once I start giving away a few hours a day, pretty soon it will be full days, and pretty soon they'll be grown.  It's a bit dramatic but true.  Kids' lives get busy fast.  Pretty soon they'll be sports, extra curricular activities, Scouts, mutual, friends.  And, the time each day I get with him will diminish until he doesn't need me.

While I don't doubt the preschool's capabilities.  I also believe in my own.  I have a bachelors degree and feel I have a few things I can teach him too.  I may not be the brightest crayon in box, but I'd like to think I'm at least a lovely pastel.  I also believe that love and values can be best taught at home.

Even though there are days were I want to run away from my crazy toddler, there is no one else I'd rather spend my ENTIRE day with.  Plus, he only has so much time to bond with Calvin.  Pretty soon they'll be split into different classrooms and sporting teams because of their age difference.  I want my kids to be close, and want to give them as much time together at the beginning to forge that bond.
Not to mention, his poor immune system probably doesn't need to be bombarded just yet with others' germs.  Just once a week at nursery is bad enough.

So, sorry preschool.  You'll have to wait another year for this great student. I already feel like time has flown with Carter and I refuse to give up any more time than I have to.  I'm going to try hard to cherish this time I have with him before I have to start sharing him with the world.

I don't judge those who need to or want to send their kids to preschool, but I feel at peace that this is the right decision for my family right now.

Anyone else have good or bad experiences with preschool?  Are you glad or regret putting them in it?

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Bane of My Existence: Dishes

Do you ever have something you can't stand so much that it gains way more power than it actually holds?  I do.

It's dishes.

I love to cook and bake from scratch, so my dishes seem to multiple like rabbits at an orgy.

Add to that I don't have a dishwasher and I'm anal about dish washing because of my son's allergies (OK...and because I'm a lil OCD) so it takes me a decent chunk of time every day.

I made honey garlic chicken for dinner--which involved frying the chicken first (AKA lots of pots and pans).  I also made pumpkin chocolate chip muffins yesterday and rice krispy treats today, so our sink runneth over.  I've been sitting here for almost two hours browsing the web trying to get myself to get up and do them.  I could have done them at least three times over in the time I've wasted.  Not to mention the dread that I've built up.  Oy.

I don't know why they vex me so.  I wish I could just accept doing them.  Like brushing my teeth--it has to be done and doesn't bother me.  Yet, dishes are like nails on the chalkboard of my soul. And, every day it's a battle to do them.  Yet, once they're done I love looking at my clean kitchen before I go to bed.  Oh, the dissonance of my lazy mind!

Once again--instead of just getting it over with I'm dedicating a blog post to it.  Anything to not do them.

I seriously need help.

OK.  I'm going.

Just know that as soon as my boys are old enough, this will be their chore for me making them delicious food.  How young is too young for child labor??

OK.  Really, I'm getting up.

Anybody else hate dishes?

If I had a million dollars, I'd hire a dishwasher.

OK.  I'm going to go do them.

In 3, 2, 1...

Wouldn't it be nice if I were like Bewitched and could wiggle my nose and make them disappear.?

I'd better proof read this a bunch of times before I hit "publish".

Enough wishing.  More sudsing.  I'm really gone this time.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Best 3 Years of My Life

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Many of you who knew me, knew I didn't want kids.  I thought they were stinky, expensive sleep snatchers.  I was pretty much correct, but I didn't factor in all of the sweet, amazing innocence and pure love that comes too.  People say motherhood is a thankless job.  It can certainly feel that way sometimes.  But, I can't subscribe to that 100%.  The times when my little boy gives me hugs, kisses, snuggles me, or says thank you is THE BEST reward and thank you I could ever receive. (And, maybe a retirement home in Carlsbad...just gonna put that out there.)

When I took the terrifying plunge into motherhood I planned on the typical hard things: diaper blow outs in public, tantrums, scrapped knees.  I would have never imaged hospital visits, a rare disease, severe asthma and breathing problems and the myriad of other unexpected and unwelcomed things Carter (and subsequently us) have had to deal with.

Yet, through all the crazy medical madness--these three years have been the best years of my life.  Motherhood has been so incredibly gratifying.  If I--a natural born kid hater--can like motherhood, there is hope for anybody.  I don't feel that I've lost myself, but rather that I've found fulfilling qualities and sides to myself that round me out and complete me even more.  It's like an entire, and quite frankly--better side of myself was waiting to expose itself and I needed this little guy to help me unearth it.

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I can't believe Carter is three.  He's not a baby, or even a toddler anymore.  He's a little boy through and through.  I wanted to pause and capture some of my favorite things about him in wake of his recent 3rd birthday.

He loves:
Transformers Rescue Bots cartoons and sadly watches a TON of episodes each day (we're working on it)--especially Optimus Prime and Bumblebee.  In fact, he likes to sleep with Boulder, his action figure from the show.
Bacon
Potatoes--he could have one for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We bring a plain, baked potato every Sunday to sacrament to help keep him quiet.  One week I forgot it and he couldn't hardly stand church without it.  He'll also eat an entire potato and then turn around and ask for potato chips.  Can't get enough of this starchy goodness.
His friend Tommy--he gets excited and jumps up and down and shouts his name whenever he sees him
Jumping--I swear he jumps more than he walks
Throwing
Not just playing with his cars, but crashing them into each other
His blanket
The movie and characters from Disney's Cars
Chocolate cake
His special treats: sweedish fish, smarties, gummy bears, star bursts
He still takes a nap almost every day (boycots it somedays) and as soon as his eyes open he yells out "good napper!"
He sometimes calls me "honey" and it's ridiculously adorable
playing outside
being chased
going down slides
pretending to fall down and exclaim "OW" to get your attention
rice milk as well as apple juice
the book Green Eggs and Ham (or as he calls it "Sam I am")
fish--both to eat and to watch, or catch

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He doesn't like:
getting his hair combed
being told it's bedtime
having to turn the TV off
getting his blood drawn (can you blame him?)

There's really not too much he outright doesn't like.  He's up for most things.  Sure, things will bother him, and he'll def have tantrums here and there but he is still our typically happy boy.  He's content to play by himself, but loves to have friends over or play with us.  He's sweet to his brother most of the time and will share his cars with him.

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He's smart--knows his colors, can count to ten, and is learning to assign numbers to things (ie: two butterflys).  His language has come so far and I delight in hearing his unique little thoughts.  He likes to "make deals, OK?" like "take a nap and then Tommy play, deal?".

If he gets an owie, he wants a kiss to make it better.  If he hurts Calvin or I (most likely from a car being thrown at us), he will come give us kisses too.  He call hugs "loves".

He will sing the "I love you" song and "You are my sunshine"  with me while I rock him to sleep.  He also likes to request "popcorn popping" and "the temple song".  He likes to watch Jesus videos.  It's so sweet. He also loves some Taylor Swift songs (Shake it off) and the Black Eyed Peas "Don't Stop".

I hate that you have to grow up, but at least I get to watch you as you discover the world around you.  You continue to amaze me and I'm so glad we're on this journey together.  Happy 3rd Birthday!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

5 Years

It's time for my annual therapy session.  I think it's good to release and write at least once a year about my brother.

This year, and specifically today, marks the 5th anniversary of my brother's early release from this life.  Five years feels like a mile marker, and like forever ago.

I've made a conscious choice to not dwell or even really give much pause to December 3.  I choose to think of you, celebrate you and grieve you on your birthday, October 11.  Your death date is the worst day of your entire existence, so why continue to dwell on it?  However, I missed your annual birthday letter (sorry) since we were moving and so I will write a little now.

This year you would have been an uncle twice over.  You would love little Calvin and the way he head bangs.  I pray he doesn't have your taste in heavy metal.  I never could understand how you could enjoy those screaming lyrics turned up full volume.  Have you adjusted to the hymns up in heaven? I somehow doubt they let you play Marilyn Manson up there. :)

Instead of thinking how long you've been gone, I've been rephrasing it my head to think of how many people you've probably helped out in this chunk of time.  In five years you've probably done a ton of missionary work, and wrought many miracles in our family as you've watched over us.  I'm sure your desire to do good, that burned deep inside you--even if you fought it off sometimes, is alive and well in you now without so many distractions.  I sure hope that you've made an effort to go meet Claudy's dad, Dick, now that he's up in heaven too.  Heaven has quite the collection.  You two friendly guys would hit it off, I'm sure.  I'm sure there's many wonderful family members that you've met, and many new friends that you've made.  You were a friend magnet, people loved you and still love you, and I'm sure it's no different now just because you're on the other side.

I have to be honest and admit that I forgot it was even your death anniversary until Alicia texted me.  She's a good friend like that...remembers dates I consciously or unconsciously forget.  If we're being honest I'm partially glad I can and do forget and at the same time I partially feel guilty and sad I did.  Don't get me wrong, being a stay-at-home mom I rarely know what the date is.  All days ebb and flow between potty breaks and sippy refills.  The first years after your passing I would be dreading and thinking about the date coming up.  It could be consuming.  Then when the day arrived it would feel heavy.  I'm grateful it's not so hard to bear anymore.

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Mom has kept your Levi's jean jacket from when you were a kid.  She brought it for Carter on her last trip to Utah.  I couldn't believe it fit him.  I've seen pictures and home videos of you wearing it and how strange that I have a child old enough to wear it now.  It fits him perfectly and adorably.  I love having a physical reminder of you.  It's December, and I am still hoping it's not cold enough yet to have to put his coat on him, as I'd rather him in this jacket for as long as possible.  Can you believe he wears it with skinny jeans?  I wonder if you would have ever worn those, or if you would have boycotted them.  Look what the world has gone and done since you left.  

I've told Carter that it's a jacket from his Uncle Tyson.  It's sweet to hear your name on his lips and part of me aches that he won't know you.  But, I'll do my best to tell him about you.  I might skip on the parts about you driving cars in the country without a license when you were well below the age limit, hiding pot in your gas can and other crazy stories...just to make sure he doesn't get any ideas :)  You can understand the parental edits, right?

I ran into John and Mike at Kyle's wedding.  Seeing your high school friends made me a bit sad.  It's great to see them, but at the same time to see them in a different stage now, and thinking that they've moved on and you will be forever stuck in your mid-twenties, unmarried stings a bit too.  You were always afraid and thought it'd be worst case scenario if you'd be the last to get married.  How I wish that were the case.

It's time to go.  The boys are asleep and it's about the only time I have to do dishes and clean.  Otherwise, this place would look like a tornado hit it (and sometimes it STILL does).  I'd like to think you're busy too; you need to be off doing something important.  Please continue to watch over us.  Your little (but regrettably older now) sister, Megan.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Capturing Calvin: 6 Months

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A half of a year.  A half of a friggin' year!

And, you're not content to just be 6 months.  Oh, no.  You have to be an overachieving 6 month old.  Where Carter was delayed, you are early.  I don't know what it's like to have an "average" baby!

You are adoring solids--Carter hated solids until he was almost 9 months old.  And, by solids I mean actual things you chew.  While you don't have a single tooth, you love to roll food around on your tongue and mash it with your gums.  The first food you ever showed interest in where these sweet potato cereal puffs.  You'll lean forward for them and get so satisfied when I place one in your mouth.  It's adorable to watch you gum it.  You don't love purees...I think it's a texture thing because I've tried squash, sweet potatoes, rice cereal, apple sauce, and bananas.  You do seem to really like avocado (maybe because it's thicker?) and rice cakes.Thankfully, you haven't had any seemingly adverse reactions, but the texture makes you squish your nose and you can tell you have to force it down.  Recently, you've learned that if you keep your mouth open the majority will just eventually fall out.  CLEVER!  Well played.

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Speaking of teeth, I can't believe you don't have your two bottom ones yet.  They are a millionth of a centimeter below the gum line.  You've had two mountains in your mouth since you were 4 months old.  I keep wondering when they'll finally  make their debut.  I'm in no hurry since you've already bit me a few times and your smile is just too cute to mess with.

You have mastered sitting up on your own.  You can do it for a few minutes before melting.  You can even reach quite far for things and bring yourself upright without losing any balance.  Bravo!

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When sitting in the upright position you get such delight from rocking wildly back and forth.  If I didn't know any better you were a head banger before you came down.  Did Uncle Tyson tell you about rock music while you were both up in heaven??  We thought Carter would be the dancer in the family, but you already groove to music.  Maybe you two can replace Les Twins someday :)

And, while we're listing your over-achieved-ness you got into the crawling position.  You've been doing it with your arms for about a month, but you just started adding the legs.  It's freaking me out!  Carter didn't crawl until right before his 1st birthday.  Are you trying to do it in half the time?  What's the rush?  Oh, yeah...big brother.  You sure act like you can't wait to run around with him.  The other day when Daddy was leaving for work you literally moved each hand while you were in the crawling position.  You made Daddy feel like he couldn't leave for work in fear that you were getting it down.  You didn't move your legs, but you definitely figured out how to shift your weight and move your hands. STOP IT!  I want to have you immobile for some more time.  Two boys that are mobile scares me.  Can't you just sit back and relax a bit longer?? It almost looks odd because you're about the size of a 3 month old, so to see you doing such things make you look even more advanced!

You still love to make lots of growls, squeals, raspberries, grunts and other sounds, but you really haven't mastered any letters yet.

You love to be smiled at, and will reward the smiler with a huge grin right back.  Your smile is changing though.  You used to do this gaping open smile, and now you sometimes do a thin lipped, pressed together smile.  Both are cute, but it's funny you have different ones now.

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YOU FINALLY GIGGLE!  It's the most magical sound.  You've laughed some "ha, ha" for so long, but now you'll do the rolling, continuous, beautiful giggles.  It's wonderful.

You're still an equal opportunist when it comes to being held.

You love to start off sleeping on your side, but I'll find you ALL OVER your crib when I get you.  For someone that only seems to roll either from his back to tummy and occasionally/accidentally roll from his tummy to his back you can sure scoot and maneuver like a pro.  You would start off in the middle of your crib and somehow end up on the edge, with your arm caught between the mattress and crib.  That was fun night time adventures.  Thankfully your dad figured out a way to maneuver a blanket to stop that.

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You still scratch a lot.  If a pant leg even comes up just a bit on your ankle we'll find wild claw marks all over the searing flesh.  We usually have to keep you in footie pajamas to avoid it.  You also sit and rub, and rub, and RUB your eyes with your knuckles if you are having a hard time going to sleep.  If we try and leave you to fall asleep on your own we will find you with huge, swollen eyes and a scratched up forehead, so you have to sleep with socks on your hands.

I've started giving you cod liver oil and coconut oil to hopefully help with your weight gain.  I was also trying a multi vitamin with iron since they said your iron was a bit low but you just spit it out.  I've been trying to do iron fortified cereals and hope that is enough.

As far as stats go you measured at your 6 month appointment: 14.33 pounds (3.94th percentile) and 25.6 inches long (12th percentile) and 17 inches for head circumference (47th percentile).  You keep slipping like one percentile every time we check you, even though you're eating solids, and getting oil supplementation.  I'm not really sure what to do.  If you won't even take a multi-vitamin I know you won't drink formula.  I don't find it desperate enough to get a feeding tube, so I think we're going to wait and see if you'll even out and if we can keep getting in some high fat solids.  You are your brother just like to scare me with your weights.  It's consuming!  You were at the 4th percentile at your 4 month appointment (13.05 pounds) so the pediatrician is hoping/thinking that maybe that's your natural weight and were you are meant to be and will stay.  I would be fine with that if you could just stabilize.  I just have small boys, and after all, you were born small too.  You're still in size 2 diapers and wear 3-6 month clothes.

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Because of the weight issues you went to the GI doc.  He tested your stool and felt that you were fine enough to not need a scope right now.  We might need to do one later if your weight problems persist but while you're so little we'll do a wait and see.  I was fine with that.  The allergist was more concerned than he was, but if you have EOE you have it and waiting a few months really won't change anything since we eat what your brother eats anyways.  I can't see putting you through that procedure until you're at least one.  (I'd rather not do it EVER).  Your blood work showed "mildly elevated eosinophils" (I need to find out the exact number) and low iron and low vitamin D.

You sleep about 8pm to 7:15/7:30 a.m. with one night time feeding, almost always around 3-4 a.m.  Some nights you still get up twice, but you've pretty consistently whittled it down to one feeding and while it can be hard to wake up, I'm not in a hurry to get rid of it since you clearly need the calories.

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Your naps still haven't materialized at any certain time of the day, but you seem to need 3-4.  You will be up for about an hour and a half to two hours in the morning and then go down for about an hour.  And, for the rest of that day that's your pattern.  Sometimes you'll take a late nap around 5pm, sleep until bedtime, be woken up to be put in pjs and diaper changed and nursed and go back down the whole night!  If you don't' get that nap though you sure are itching and fussing to go down by the time it's bedtime and it's all we can do to rush big brother to get ready.  Since you guys share a room, it makes it really hard to put one down without the other so we try to match it up and have you go down at the same time.  Because big brother thinks it's hilarious to turn everything into a game and we have to chase him down for every little step (his multiple meds, teeth brushing, etc...) it can take awhile.  Thanks for your patience!

You've reached the distraction age (YES!).  You love to be handed something.  Especially keys or cars.  You're not big at putting them in your mouth, but you love to hold things at varying lengths and to pass them back and forth in your hands.  It works out great, because when I'm busy cooking I'll set you in the bumbo by my feet, hand you a toy and you'll be content for quite a while.  Other than dropping it here and there I can have my hands free to cook.  Thanks bud!

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You seem to be more of a momma's boy than Carter.  Whenever I leave you with Daddy you'll be fine just the two of you, but once I come home in the door you whine for me.  It might have to do with the fact that I'm your main source for food, but I'd like to think it's my sparkling personality.

You really are such a wonderful baby.  You only get upset when you're tired or hungry.  Otherwise you are so happy to go along with whatever I need to do, or big brother wants to do.


Even though I swore up and down that you and Carter looked like twins at the beginning and most didn't believe me...I really think you're starting to get a look all your own.  Which is ironic because now everyone comes up to me and tells me how much you guys look alike.  I'm not saying I disagree, you'll probably always be able to tell you're brothers, but I think you will have a distinct look that's handsome and just yours.

We love your happy personality.  I'm excited to share your first Christmas and look forward to more times with my wonderful Cal.

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Coconut Milk Caramels {Top 8 Free, Dairy Free}

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One of my favorite things in the entire universe is caramel.  I love everything and anything with caramel in it.  Unfortunately, since my son has a dairy allergy he's never had it.  He's three now and has NEVER had caramel.  It's a travesty and I knew I had to correct this at once.

I've only made caramels once.  And, that was your typical recipe using butter.  They were a TOTAL, wreck.  They didn't set up and were basically soup.  So, I was terrified to try dairy-free since allergy-free cooking can be fickle.

Since it is Christmas time I was bound and determined that this would be a Christmas treat he could have.  I crossed my fingers for a Christmas miracle.

He was taking a long nap and I decided I would use the peace and quiet to conquer this quest.

I will warn you it takes awhile, but the efforts were sooo worth it.  I actually can't stand the taste of coconut, but it probably has a 1% after taste of coconut and 99% awesome taste to it.  They're chewy, soft and melt in your mouth.  Everything I was hoping and praying for.

Sadly, my son isn't impressed.  It's a good and bad thing.  That way I can eat most of it.  But, I won't be deterred because he's like that with most new foods and textures.  Someday he'll be so glad we found this delicious recipe.

I couldn't not share it with the world.  So, here you are my lactose intolerant, Crohn's, dairy allergy or EOE friends!

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Coconut Caramels
Slightly adapted from Applemint

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
One 13.5 oz. can coconut milk (I used Imperial Dragon brand, found in the Asian section at the grocery store, FULL fat)
3/4 cup corn syrup 
1 tsp. salt 
1 and 3/4 cup sugar 
3/4 cup water 

Directions:
Line the bottom and sides of an 8″x8″ square baking dish with parchment and brush with coconut oil. I was out of parchment paper, so I just sprayed the dish with canola oil and it hasn't stuck at all. Set aside. Combine the coconut milk, corn syrup and salt in a 4-quart saucepan. Heat over medium low, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes until mixture is just warm and any coconut milk clumps are dissolved. It helps if you stir with a whisk.  Remove from heat and set aside. 

In an 8-quart saucepan, combine the sugar and the water and stir until sugar is wet. Place over medium high heat and let cook, without stirring, till the sugar turns a light amber color. I've had bad experiences with candy thermometers, so I didn't use one.  I did it completely on looks.  The directions called for about 10 minutes.  I'm not sure if I just didn't have my heat high enough or because I'm at a high altitude, but for it to be a nice, amber color it took 15 minutes. 

Immediately remove from heat and pour melted sugar into the coconut milk mixture, a little at a time. Be careful, as the mixture will bubble and splash. It will seem like it's going wrong, because it will crystallize, but don't fret! Once I'd stirred it, I moved it back into the large 8-quart sauce pan, so I didn't have to worry about it boiling over since the smaller sauce pan was pretty full.  It's up to you if you want to keep it in the smaller saucepan.  Either will work.  Place the combined mixture over medium high. If the mixture begins to boil over, reduce heat and continue to cook-but keep it at a nice boil.  Stir continuously, and cook until caramel becomes quite thick. I really started to doubt myself at this stage because it said it could take 15 minutes, and mine took more like 25.  Don't go by time, but by feel.  Don't take it off the heat until it is thick like a heavy syrup. Immediately remove from heat and pour into the prepared pan. Let cool completely and cut into 1″ squares. Once the glass isn't too hot, you can put it in the fridge to help it set up faster.  To make it easier to cut them you can brush your knife with melted coconut oil between cutting to avoid sticking. Wrap individually in wax paper squares. Store at room temperature.  Do a happy dance.

Halloween 2014

I was extra excited for Halloween this year.  My anticipation and excitement grows proportional to how big Carter gets.

We did our annual tradition of going to the Rowley's Red Barn.  We just love their hayride on a tractor (especially Carter...we made sure to sit right in front).  I love their pumpkin donuts and Claudy and Carter are able to safely eat their giant suckers.  Plus, there's a large slide, race cars you can pedal, photo ops, and a sand pit with dump trucks.  It basically has Carter's favorite things all wrapped into one..OK, we doesn't care for the photo ops...but I sure do!  Unfortunately it was super windy so we didn't stay as long as we might have but we still had a blast.  Calvin slept through most of it, like the champ tag-along that he is.

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The pumpkin patch was pretty picked over, so we had a hard time finding one for each person.  We had hoped to get two large and two small to represent our family but ended up with two large lopsided ones instead.  They had character, right?


Since carving takes forever and is messy we decided to just give Carter a permanent marker and let him go to town.  I think we'll have to keep up this tradition as it was long enough to capture his attention and much easier clean up!  Here is the artist in his underwear (so he didn't get marker on his clothes) and his sucker.  I think he had fun.  He loved pointing to our pumpkins on our porch whenever we drove home.  He'd yell "PUMPKINS!".

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My parents were the awesome grandparents that they are and sent him a brand new spider man costume.  We were so excited!  Carter has been loving watching the cartoon, so we thought it'd be a good fit.

Unfortunately, the night of the ward trunk-or-treat he had probably one of the biggest melt downs he's ever done.  We still can't figure it out, but he was absolutely against wearing his costume.  We tried EVERYTHING.  He refused.  So, he ended up being in his PJ's since those were his under clothes.  It was a chilly night and he was even shivering.  When we'd tell him he'd be warm in the suit (since it had cute, plush muscles) he still refused...even when seeing everyone else dressed up.  Sorry mom and dad!  Even though he can't have any chocolate candy (has milk in it) and lots of other candies he could still do sweedish fish, smarties, dum dums and star bursts so he took home a good amount.  He was thrilled!  He really got it this year and was happy to say the obligatory "trick of treat" and "thank you".  We made the candy last until almost December, using the candy as bribes and for special occasions.  Thanks ward members!

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We decided to go spend the actual Halloween with my bestie, Alicia and her kiddos in Logan.  Carter adores her kids (and their toy stash) and it's a great excuse to get together.  She's a doll and cooks things for Carter and she's one of the few I implicitly trust when it comes to food around Carter.  We drove up Friday afternoon and got there in time to trick or treat.  We tried talking up Carter's costume the entire 2 hour drive.  What finally made it work was when he saw Ryker in his costume...and then magically he wanted to be in his-thanks Ryk!  All three kiddos were super heroes and it was adorable.  I wish we could have gotten a better picture, but by Carter's crazy face you can tell he was amped and ready to go!

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Normally, our kids melt after 7 pm since we are pretty rigid about their bedtime schedule.  So, I was shocked that they made it until almost 8:30.  It was the most picturesque night.  We went down Center Street with the old, historic houses.  The weather was great and the night was clear.  We felt like we were in a movie!  The lights totally kept Calvin's attention and he was one content little pumpkin to be snuggled and carried about.  Carter was running between houses and was having a ball.  He honestly went until he dropped.  He got so tired he fell down.  It was adorable and sad all at the same time.  Claudy had to carry him to the car.  Sadly, the houses we visited gave lots of mini candy bars which would have been a jackpot to me when I was little, but it left very little safe candy for Carter.  Thankfully the Atkinson's were willing to trade and give Carter candy he could eat.

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We then enjoyed the rest of the weekend eating, relaxing and even dancing.  Once the kiddos were in bed Alicia was showing me her sweet new piyo workout skills.  That somehow transformed into us doing Just Dance from YouTube. We ended the evening by eating my homemade carmelitas.  It's a tradition I make those when we get together.

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I just love spending time with Alicia, and Carter has so much fun.  Calvin loved snuggling with his auntie.  We stayed until Sunday afternoon and both boys slept almost the entire way home.  It was a great weekend from start to finish.  Alicia was even so sweet and had made us a TON of homemade applesauce to take home as our parting gift.  Honestly--could it get any better??  And, you can't forget the bath all three kiddos took together.  We of course had to take a photo...you know, just in case Carter and Brinly end up dating so we can tease them with it later. :)

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Carter still likes carrying around his orange, plastic pumpkin and will still talk about Halloween.  I'm so glad he had a fun and safe Halloween.  I know some allergy parents don't feel comfortable letting their kids participate and that is TOTALLY their call.  However, as of right now I feel OK about it since Carter lets us take his candy and doesn't eat any until we've inspected it.  I'm glad he can participate in regular kiddo activities and enjoy the festivities...especially with such great friends.

I love holidays with my boys!