23 December 2014

Plot twist!

The Reynolds Tribe is on another adventure, though not the one we originally planned.
We left Laramie after church on Sunday and drove to Ryan's brother's house in Denver to have Reynolds Christmas with Ryan's family. Ryan's mom cooked a feast for everyone, we opened presents, and most importantly--the girls' team won the annual game of SceneIt.
On Monday we left Denver, aiming for Las Vegas (the New Mexico one), which is about halfway between Denver and my parents' house in Las Cruces. We were going to stay in a hotel, swim in the pool, and eat at Pizza Hut--basically Sammy's trifecta of joy.
It was snowing in the mountains along the Colorado-New Mexico border, and we saw at least five cars off the road in various states of being towed. Ryan drove slowly, but surely, on to Las Vegas. But about 15 miles outside of Raton, NM (the last "big" town before Las Vegas), something went wrong with the car.
Let me just say that it was a good thing that Ryan was driving and not me, because I doubt I would have noticed anything was wrong. But Ryan heard a weird sound and noticed that the engine noise had changed before all the warning lights on the dash lit up. We pulled off the highway on an exit-to-nowhere, where Ryan determined that the car was undriveable. We called our insurance's roadside assist and arranged for a tow truck. Neither of us had ever been towed before, so it was a good thing the nice lady helping us told Ryan that he would need to arrange for us to be transported back to Raton. Most tow trucks don't have room for five extra people, three of whom are in car seats, obvs. But Raton didn't have any rental car companies that we could find on Google, so... we had a dilemma.
1) Get a rental car from Las Vegas, eighty-ish miles away and get towed there instead of Raton. But then we would have to pay for the tow.
2) Get a rental car from Las Vegas, leave our car in Raton, and use the rental car for the 10 days left of our vacation.
3) Think fast.

We chose number 3.
Every time we drive past Raton, we have made note of the nice, new LDS chapel right off the highway. We knew the church was here in Raton, so we got on LDS.org to find the phone number of the bishop or branch president. It only took a few minutes, and we got lucky--President Terhune answered the phone. Ryan explained our situation to him, and President Terhune and his wife jumped in their cars to pick up our family. They arrived less than five minutes after the tow truck, with room for all of us and our luggage.
The craziest part was that once upon a time, the Terhunes had lived in Wyoming. President Terhune was one of the first Seminary teachers that Ryan supervised when we moved to Laramie.
They drove us to the Holiday Inn, where my mom had made a reservation for us. Ryan walked through the snow, trying to find a fast food place close by so we could eat dinner (at 9:30pm), but no luck. So I hit up the vending machines. After the machine ate three of my dollars, and my chips were all stuck, I stood in front of it, feeling like crying. A nice girl who was much stronger than me came by and shook the machine until it released my food. Ben and Amelia were fast asleep, so Ryan, Sam, and I had a picnic on the bed while watching SportsCenter.
And that's where we are now, still waiting for an update on our car.
There's a popular saying among writers: When something goes wrong in your life, yell "Plot twist!" and move on. We've had quite a plot twist: By now we should only be a couple hours from my parents' house, listening to Christmas music and bopping around in the car. Instead we're facing the possibility of staying in the Terhunes' home for Christmas (while they visit family in Utah). We won't have any idea of when we'll be out of Raton until we hear back from the mechanics that have our car.
It's a crappy situation, but we feel like it was as good as it could possibly have been. We broke down in an area that had cell phone reception (not a guarantee in this part of New Mexico), we were able to get towed to a place close enough to be covered by our insurance, and best of all we were rescued by a couple of true Saints.

05 December 2014

O Christmas Tree

This year my ambitious husband decided that instead of buying a Christmas tree, we would go into the mountains and cut down our tree ourselves. We bought a permit from the Forest Service for $10, a fraction of the cost of what we usually pay for a tree each year. Last Saturday we loaded up the kids and some lunch and went out in search of a tree. Ryan carried the axe and lead the way. I wore Amelia in the Baby Bjorn and kept an eye on Sammy and Benjy. Amelia did great on her first hike--she slept the whole time! 
Posing with the tree after cutting

Amelia is not actually that big--but we don't have a newborn-size snowsuit!

The tree was well-proportioned all around, but the branches were thinner than the trees we usually buy. It actually displays our Christmas ornaments better! The boys "helped" decorate--Sam put ornaments on the tree Sunday afternoon, and Ben has spent all week moving them around. He was banned from touching the tree after breaking his second ornament.

There she is, in all her glory!

I wanted to buy a Weeping Angel tree topper, but by the time I got around to ordering it ThinkGeek was sold out! We made do with our usual star instead.
For our next Family Home Evening we will talk about the symbolism of the Christmas tree, the star, and the ornaments. We would love to hear about your Christmas tree traditions in the comments!
Speaking of Christmas tree traditions, I am going to dominate my sister this year in finding the Christmas pickle. *cracks knuckles* Cassi, you've been warned!

25 November 2014

The Middle Child

While I was pregnant with Amelia I realized that when she was born Benjy would become a middle child. Stereotypically speaking, this is not a good thing. Both of my parents are middle children, as is my husband, but I'm the oldest and so I think it's a pretty good place to be. So I was feeling sorry for Benjy that day. I wanted to write about him, but I was pretty miserable while pregnant. Blogging was so far down on my to-do list that it never happened.
Benjy was a champion the last couple of months of my pregnancy. Every morning after we got Sam and Ryan out the door he would crawl into bed with me and snuggle while he watched Netflix on the iPad. He never complained about being bored, he just kept me company until I felt well enough to get up.
This is the "cave" where he likes to watch iPad.

As I posted a while back, Ben did not like potty training. We haven't made a concerted effort again to get him back on the toilet. He's very stubborn. In fact, one of his talents is his ability to ignore people. He's amazing at it. If he is being tickled and doesn't want to laugh, he just doesn't. I can't even do that as an adult (not that I get tickled very often). It might sound like I'm being ironic in my praise of his stubbornness, but I really do admire his self-control. I think it will serve him well as he gets older.

I got into the shower late today. When I got out, Ben met me in the hallway brandishing the kitchen broom. I told him to go put it away, which he promptly did. I checked on Amelia, and picked out my clothes for the day. Then I heard "Yook! Yoooook!" from upstairs.
For those of you who don't have your Ben-to-English dictionary handy, that means "Look! Loooook!"
I wrapped my bathrobe back around me and hurried up to see what he wanted. This time he he proudly held up a baseboard, which until this morning was cracked but still attached to the wall. He swung it around a few times until I snatched it away. I was able to get it almost back in to place. By then he had moved to the kitchen and was demanding "Cheewos an melk*!"
*Cheerios and milk, as opposed to eating dry cereal like a peasant.
I felt bad that I hadn't gotten him a snack earlier, so I promptly gave him a bowl of Cheerios and milk and went back downstairs to get dressed. While in my underwear I heard him yelling "Moh cheewos!" I dashed upstairs, not caring that the blinds were open, because I knew if I didn't do it, Ben would get the Cheerios himself and possibly destroy the whole world in the process. I went back downstairs. By the time I was completely dressed he was demanding his third bowl of cereal, which he got. After he finished and cleaned up his hands, he ran to the couch to get his blanket. I knew the iPad was under his blanket, so I followed him to confiscate it. Not only did I find the iPad, I found a photo from our wall of family photos and a destroyed picture frame. Why he hid it under his blanket, I have no idea.
By this point I was tired of the destruction and frustrated that I would have to replace the picture frame, so Ben got scolded pretty sternly. He interrupted me as I was telling him off.
"Mommy, you happy?"
I was not happy, and I told him so. He began to cry, and I sent him to his room while I took care of the picture frame mess. Then I went downstairs to talk to him about how it is not okay to break things and hide them. I didn't get very far in my lecture before he told me he was sorry and crawled onto my lap for a hug.
I love this little guy. Even though he is a tiny tornado.


30 October 2014

How it all began

When Ryan and I found out that we were having a boy (Sam), my great-grandmother made him a blue afghan blanket. She did the same when we had Ben, who is so attached to his blankie that he's earned himself the nickname Linus. Last summer when we went back East to visit my family we were so happy that we could show Nonna how much the boys loved their blankets.

She asked me if we were planning on having any more babies.
"I think so. We'd like to have at least one more," I told her. "I'd really like to have a little girl."
"I'll make her a blanket," Nonna promised.
My grandmother called me later to inform me that Nonna had finished the blanket. "And you'd better have a little girl next, because it is PINK!"
Fast forward to almost a year later, when we found out that we actually were having the little girl we dreamed would join our family. We all said that it must have been the influence of "the blanket". Whatever it was, we couldn't wait to meet our baby girl. Grandma mailed the pink blanket to us.

It IS pink.

Fast forward again: We were getting closer and closer to baby girl's due date, and I was getting more and more miserable. I don't know what it was, but I was much more uncomfortable with baby #3 than I was with either of the boys. I couldn't sleep at night, I was in constant pain; it was not fun to say the least. At one point I forced myself into "nesting mode" by buying baby clothes and having Ryan get all the baby gear out of the garage. I wanted her to come early. I didn't think I could make it to November 6th, her due date. Both of my boys were late, and as far as I could tell their sister would be, too.
On the 27th I went in to my OB for my routine appointment. I was 38.5 weeks pregnant. Dr. Klingler examined me to see how far along I had progressed. I wasn't too hopeful, as I hadn't had a single "real" contraction.
"Holy cow," he said at one point.
Not what you want to hear during a cervical exam, know what I mean?
"You haven't had any contractions?"
I repeated that I hadn't.
It turned out that even without contractions, my cervix had dilated 8cm (out of the 10 you need to deliver a baby). Dr. Klingler removed his gloves.
"You need to go to the hospital. I've never seen anyone progress this far who wasn't in active labor. If you don't go to the hospital you are in real danger of delivering at home."
Now, some people might not mind that, and that's great for them, but I fall firmly on the side of having babies in hospitals. So I called my friend Hannah, who is also my visiting teacher and one of my counselors in the Primary presidency, and told her what was happening. She agreed to head right over to my house to stay with Benjy while I got my stuff in order and got my about-to-have-a-baby butt to the hospital. Because she is my hero.
Ryan and I got ready, packing our bags and eating lunch. We even stopped by Sam's school to let him know what was happening and that Hannah would be home when he got off the bus. When we finally strolled into the hospital, a nurse hurried down to Admitting with a wheelchair.
"We thought you really were having the baby at home!" she gasped.
"No, just getting our stuff ready."
She looked me over. "You're not in labor."
"We thought you were! They told us you were eight centimeters!"
"Well, I am, but I'm not in labor."
She set the wheelchair aside. "I guess we don't need this, then."

All dressed up and... nothing to do.

We waited for the on call OB to check on me. Ryan finished a paper for his UW class. I got on Twitter. At one point I demanded that Ryan get a bag of potato chips for me, which I ate in secret while the nurse was out of the room. We watched Monday Night Football.
At 6:15 Dr. Bragg examined me and broke my water. That's all it took for the contractions to start. I tried to go "zen" and breathe through them. It mostly worked until I hit 10cm and needed to push. Then I got a little crazy with regret that I had not opted for the epidural. Some "words" may have been said.
Both boys had large heads at birth (who am I kidding, Ben still has a giant noggin), which required two hours of pushing. But this little girl came into the world after about 15 minutes. Total labor time: 2 hours exactly from breaking my water to birth. It was worth not getting the epidural.

Amelia Rose Reynolds, born on Nonna's 92nd birthday.  

14 October 2014

Family Photos 2014

This year for our family photos we drove down to Fort Collins and met our friend Katie Esquivel on the Oval at CSU. That's where Ryan and I did our engagement photos 6+ years ago, so it was neat to go back with our boys and do it again. I was prepared this year with an entire bag of gummi bears with which to bribe Benjy, which mostly worked. He's nowhere near the ham that his big brother is, but at least he wasn't screaming and crying!
Here are some of our favorites.

Yay cute boys!

I don't remember what Ryan did to make him laugh like this, but it looks great!

Sam kept begging Katie to take pictures of him doing different things. I think at one point Katie bribed him to stay out of photos of me and Ryan by telling him she'd take more pictures of him!

Ben loves his daddy.

One of our engagement photos

Still in love :0)

12 July 2014

Potty Training

We decided to potty train Benjy this weekend. Sam was easy to train--we used the 3 day method, and it worked exactly as it was supposed to. He loved sitting on the potty, and it didn't take him long to recognize when he needed to pee and deal with it accordingly.
Ben did not love sitting on the potty. Ben's attitude towards the potty was best expressed thusly:

We hates it!

It didn't matter what we did. We gave him chocolate while sitting on the potty, a new toy train, snuggles... I learned the words to all his favorite Thomas the Tank Engine songs and sang them while he sat... nothing. Three days later he still hates sitting on the potty. How were we supposed to teach him to go potty when the potty was his worst enemy?
So today Ben and I went to WalMart and bought more diapers. And if I were a drinker, we would have had a box of wine in the cart, too. But as I'm not, I ate all his potty treats instead.

07 June 2014

Baby Robins!

There is a robin's nest in our backyard, safely nestled on a drainpipe off of our garage.

Curious as to whether or not there were any eggs in the nest, I waited until the robin flew away, and sneakily lifted up my phone to take a photo.

Result! How gorgeous is that color? I always thought robin eggs were a lighter blue; I'm digging the turquoise.
I told Sam and Ben that there would soon be baby robins in our nest, and every day when their shrieking scared the robin away I would use my phone to take a photo of the nest so I could see if the eggs had hatched.
One day, my photo looked like this:

Baby robins! Incredibly nasty looking baby robins, but still cool! 
We pulled the ladder out of the garage and let Sam climb up to take a look. He concurred that they looked disgusting, but he still wanted to look at them over and over again. Ben was too short to see the robins, even on the ladder, but he looked at the photos on my phone and got excited. Now when he comes out to the backyard he runs right to the garage yelling "baby wobins! baby wobins!"

The babies have feathers now, so they are much nicer to look at. They are very vocal when their parents come to feed them, which I love. I feel a special kinship with the mother robin, because I too know what it's like when your offspring won't shut up during dinnertime.
According to Wikipedia, the baby robins will leave the nest two weeks after hatching, which doesn't leave us much more time with them. The Wiki also says that the mother robin will build a new nest for her next brood, so I'll be keeping an eye out for it. We'll miss our baby robins!

The Latin name for the American robin is Turdus migratorius, which was too funny not to share. Here's hoping none of the robins leave any turdus migratoriuses on our heads while we're outside.

03 May 2014

Diary of a Sick Pregnant Woman

Mar. 1: I feel sick to my stomach. Weird. Maybe it was the HuHot I ate for lunch.
Wait, I'm pretty sure my period's late.
This is happening.

Mar. 2: First day as the ward Primary president, and I didn't puke on any kids. *self-high-five*

Mar. 3-10: I'm exhausted, but not puking. Maybe this pregnancy won't be so bad. I'll just spend it sleeping on the hide-a-bed.

Mar. 11: Hello, toilet. We meet at last.

Mar. 22: This whole "not keeping food or water down" is lame.

Mar. 23: Hmm. I haven't kept anything down in two days. I should probably do something about this.

Mar. 26: Driving down to New Mexico. There's a nice bucket at my feet in case I puke.

Mar. 27: I can't swallow my saliva.

Mar. 28: Where are my kids?

Apr. 8: Time to go back to Laramie.

Apr. 10: I am never having more kids. Why did I want to do this again?

Apr. 23: I can swallow my saliva!!!!!

Apr. 24-27: Solo trip to Utah. Not being in charge of the kids does wonders for my upset stomach.

May 3: I should probably tell people I'm pregnant.

So that's our news! Baby #3 is due in the beginning of November!

10 February 2014

Pitching is hard, let's do it together!

A great contest hosted by Brenda Drake is coming up in March--Pitch Madness! It's like March Madness, only way better and with less basketball. Just kidding. There's no basketball involved (I hope). To read more about the contest, click here.
To enter the contest, you'll need a 35-word pitch (as well as the first 250 words of your MS, but you already have that!) When I read that part of the guidelines, I was like, "Seriously? I have a query letter, synopsis, and a couple of Twitter-length pitches, and now I need THIS?" It can be hard to come up with so many different ways to "sell" people on your novel, but guess what? We didn't enter the writing game expecting it to be easy. A 35-word pitch (also known as an elevator pitch) is highly useful at writing conferences, so it's good to have on hand!
I'll be working on my pitch here on the blog, and I hope that others who'd like help will stop by, too. If you post your pitch in the comments I will reply and offer my suggestions, and the idea is for other people to help out as well. What I've learned about the online writing community is that it is AWESOME, and everyone is totally supportive of everyone else. I've received tons of help over the past few months, and I'm excited to pay it forward in my own way.
So what do you need for this pitch? How are you supposed to sum up your book in 35 words or less?
We need to know the WHO: Who is your main character, and what makes him or her special?
WHAT is the challenge they face?
WHY is your book different from others? Or in other words, what makes it unique?

If you need help getting started, here are some resources:
Upstart Crow Literary
NA Alley
Nathan Bransford

So, here's my first attempt. Comments welcome!
Anna's strong sense of familial loyalty keeps her home with her lonely widower father after high school. A Shakespeare Festival roadtrip satisfies her need to travel, and brings love and balance to her life.

I think I have the WHO and WHY down, but not enough of the conflict. I'll try to get that across in attempt number two!

Okay, it's been a couple days, here's my next try:
Anna defers her dreams of independence so her widower father won't be lonely. An impromptu Shakespeare Festival roadtrip threatens to tear down her fa├žade of contentment and leaves her aching to live her own life.

What do you think? Does it show more conflict?

23 January 2014

Hello Again

I'm on hold with McCormick's Shareowner Services because I cannot figure out how to fill out a Stock Power Form. And yes, I am aware of how pathetic that sounds. I've been on hold for fifteen minutes, with no end in sight, so I figured I should update the blog. We'll see how far I get...
Not long after my last blog post everyone in our house came down with a stomach bug.
This poor little guy insisted on sleeping on the floor in the bathroom

Then we went on vacation to spread our germs to Ryan's family and mine. Sorry, everyone. We had a nice early Christmas at the "other Reynolds'" home. Ryan's grandma has moved back to Colorado from Arkansas, so she was able to join us this year. (ooh, a human being answered!) (okay, that was fast)
The biggest news, however, is that my reign of terror as Undefeated Pickle Champion is over. My sister found the Christmas Pickle this year. She was so excited to find it that she ripped it off the Christmas tree, leaving the hook behind. (obvs. not a professional, but she hasn't found the pickle in like, 6 years, so what do you expect?) The funniest part (in my opinion) was that the Pickle Present my mom chose was a gigantic Twix bar. Twix are my absolute favorite, it was like Mom was just expecting that I would win. And when I saw the size of that Twix bar, I wished I had. C'est la vie. Enjoy your crown, Cassi, because next year that pickle is MINE.
If you click back to my November posts, you'll see some excerpts from the novel I worked on for National Novel Writing Month. Last night I finally finished the first draft! That's very exciting for me because I HATE drafting. I much prefer editing to drafting, so now I get to go back and revise and make it all nice and smooth and pretty. I'm going to let it sit for a while and work on some of my other projects in the meantime. I'm looking forward to that because I'm a bit burned out on Boldly Go at the moment.
Ryan has started his second semester of grad school. So he's busy and stressy. (I made that word up.) He works so hard to balance work, school, his calling, and family time. Last semester he got an A in his class--we were thrilled! Hopefully his hard work will pay off again this semester.
Sammy has started randomly quoting movies at us. We frequently hear him yelling "You. Are. A. TOY!" when he's playing in his room. He is obvs just like me, I talk to myself in movie quotes all the time.
Benjy is in love with Lightning McQueen. I swear, the words he says most frequently are "McQueen!" and "Kachow!"He has a matchbox-car version of LMQ that he takes everywhere. It's his best friend. If I hear him screaming, it's usually because he's realized that LMQ is not in his hand.
And that's the latest with the Reynolds Tribe. See you next month! (ha ha)