Wednesday, October 30, 2013

On Having Twins

In June we went back to the magic workers at Idaho Reproductive Center to get some assistance in trying for Martineau baby #2.  Just as with Cadence, we were extremely fortunate in having success after on cycle of Clomid.  When I went in for the confirming bloodwork and ultrasound, I was already experiencing nausea and other symptoms intensified from my last pregnancy.  So I halfway expected the diagnosis when it came- twins!

We had been jokingly hoping for this as hey- two for the price of one, right?  Still, seeing two tiny heartbeats on the screen was a dose of reality that set all joking aside.  Two newborns to master breastfeeding, to get up with in the night, twice the diapers, going from one to three, having three under three.  It took me a couple months actually to start getting truly excited about the idea.

Our intuition was once again confirmed correct when we visited the MFM doctor for the anatomy ultrasound.  We got to see a little girl and a little boy curled up yin-yang style. The rest of the appointment was really long, with twice as much anatomy to go over.  Still, it was fun to see them kicking around in there and to start looking forward to meeting actual squishy newborns.  The best part of being pregnant with twins so far is all the ultrasounds!  That was my 5th and we have at least two more scheduled.

While at first I was overwhelmed at the news, now I feel overwhelmingly happy!  I have been trying to stick to reading only positive experiences and factual statistics and stay away from the moms griping about all the challenges.  This is probably the best advice I have for a mom pregnant with any amount of babies. Positive preparation wins out, because a lot of the negative stuff you read to prepare for never actually happens or is over-exaggerated while the good stuff is oh-so-much better in reality.  You'll be finding out firsthand soon enough what it is like, so get the basics on baby-tending prepared and dive in!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Boo at the Zoo

Zoo Boise had an adorable event on Saturday.  We got there around 11:30 am and barely found parking on the edge of the Julia Davis park.  Thankfully, the long hike through goose-poo infested park only to fight the crowds proved worth it.  I think Cadence had a great time and it was just a beautiful fall day to be out and about.  Oh, and the little kids at the zoo just LOVED Carolyn in her Merida costume.

I could not get her to be happy with having her picture taken!
Merida was much easier to convince.
I was fortunate to have 4 quarters in my wallet because once Cadence spotted the merry-go-round she was going to ride it.

Visiting Merida's Mum- the Sloth Bear

Protecting Pikachu from the stuffed animal thief Percy.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Our Engagement Story

First, a quick relationship overview.  Benjamin and I met at BYU.  We dated for a bit, realized our obvious incompatibilities, and broke up.  We remained friends though and pretty soon started dating again.  That boy is a crazy good kisser, so the chemistry outweighed our differences.  After a few more months we once again broke up and Ben left for an internship in California.  I felt really strongly that we were going to be married one day, but also that I needed to stop talking to him and try to move on and just trust in the Lord.  So we lost contact and both started dating other people.  

Well, towards the end of his internship, Ben was having a discussion with his then girlfriend about what would happen with their relationship as he was headed back to Utah to finish school.  She was thinking of following him there and he disagreed.  She stated "I think you're still in love with Candace."  As soon as she said it, he realized it was true.  He called me that night and every night thereafter until his return.  From then on we were pretty inseparable.  Time had smoothed out the petty things we had argued over in the past and compromises were easily found.  We talked a bit about marriage, but given our on-again, off-again past decided to give it time. I was pending graduation and was planning to move to Arizona to stay with my sister, and Ben said we would carry on in a long-distance relationship.  

That summer, some friends invited us on a road trip to Disneyland.  The Disneyland day started a bit early and I was grumpy, but Ben encouraged me to perk up as he wanted it to be the best day ever.  As everyone wanted to do different things, we broke off from the group and ran around the park.  Ben suggested we meet back with the group for lunch in New Orleans.  We were the first to arrive at the meeting spot.  There was a caricature artist, so he suggested we have ours drawn while we waited as a souvenir.  I protested at first because it seemed kind of pricey, but he insisted.  That should have been the first clue as Ben is typically super frugal.  As it was being drawn, a crowd began to gather.  Ben kept saying strange sweet things like- "Disneyland is so  romantic.  You are really beautiful."  It is a warm day, around noon, noisy crowds all around, so I was just thinking "Yeah, I guess so..."

The artist finally stopped and said, "I am almost done, I just need a little help finishing."  She turned the picture around- him on one knee with a thought-bubble saying "Will you marry me?"  and me with an empty bubble. 

Ben got on one knee, pulling out the ring, his hand was shaking and his eyes were glistening with emotion.  He asked me to marry him.  I said, "Sure, why not!"  He jumped up, we kissed, the crowd clapped.  

I love that it was such a surprise!  I was SHOCKED (we had been dating off and on for 2 years but he insisted he wasn't ready to get married, we'd never gone ring shopping, anything!).  The ring was a placeholder from Walmart, so when we got home from the trip we got the real deal and a whirlwind 6 weeks later we were married.

 The caricature hangs in our entryway and, to this day, I have not lived down responding "Sure, why not!"

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Our Home To-Do List

Today I was clearing out the junk drawer and found my 'To Do' List from when we moved in.  We have now lived in our Mossywood Manor for 2.5 years, and progress is much slower than I anticipated.  Still, even with a long list of projects ahead of me, it is nice to look back and see what has been accomplished so far.  Now that we realize we will likely be moving on in 2-3 years, some of these projects will likely not be completed.  Better to invest in things I can take with me, like furniture.

Curb Appeal
Cut down & replace dead tree
Welcome Sign
Paint Front Door
Replace Door Hardware
Porch Seating and Pillows
Hang Wall Decoration
New Light Fixtures

Whole House
Replace worn flooring
Paint trim white
Trim out windows

Console Table/Dresser
Hang Mirror
Organize Coat Closet

Living Room
New furniture or slipcovers
Paint grandfather clock
Window Treatments
New Light

Dining Room
Recover chairs
Figure out art
Molding and boxes
Figure out what to do with nook
Replace Light Fixture

Family Room
Curtains made
Curtains Hung
Paint buffet and make into tv stand
Side Table
Dog bed

Window Treatment
What to do, if anything, with above the cabinet space
Pendant Lights above island
Refinish Table
Plate Wall

Art/Mirror for far wall
Hang organizer

Office/Guest Room
Hang Curtains
Set up Bed
Arrange Art

Powder Room
Cabinet/dresser for far wall
Replace builder mirror
Replace faux drawer fronts with pull out cubby things for toothpaste/brush

Family Tree Wall


Upstairs Hall

Sorella Bella Room

Linen Closet

Cadence's Room
Refinish Dresser as changing table
Tented reading nook
Pouf ottoman
Bookshelf / front facing Ikea Spice racks or gutter
Bow holder
Organize Closet
Make Light

Guest/Baby Bathroom
Paint oak cabinets
Removable showerhead
Shower curtain
Diaper Sprayer

Twin Nursery/ Craft Room
Replace Door
Crib Bedding
Closet Organization
Replace Light

Laundry Room
Paint Happy Color
Curtain to Hide upper shelf
Pull down Drying Rack

Crown Molding
Seating set up
Playroom/art section

Master Bedroom
Make Curtains
Hang Curtains
Make Padded Headboard
Reupholster / slipcover bench
Seating area
Refinish Armoire
Change out dressers for something less frou frou.
Charging Station

Master Bath
Trim mirrors and window
New hamper
Fix broken towel rack
change showerhead
art above tub
decorative tile trim around tub
makeup storage
jewelry storage

Master Closet
Reinforce shelving
Shoe Storage
Coordinating/matching bins for top shelf
Standing Mirror
Small Bench

Porch seating
Sod the rock yard
Figure out how to keep weeds out of the side yard
Doggie window in back gate

Our California Trip

We recently returned from a wonderful weekend trip to attend my cousin Andrew's wedding.

Day One- Sightseeing in San Francisco

We went to the sourdough factory and had bread bowls with clam chowder and some awesome macaroons.  Cadence really liked watching the sea lions off of Pier 39 and checking out the bay, once she overcame her aversion to sand, that is.

She ended up really liking playing in the surf, evening diving in at once point.

I liked enjoying a rocky road sundae at Ghiradelli.

 Ben liked driving his Dodge Challenger rental.

In the evening, we visited with Brittany and Chris Jones and their adorable baby Charlotte at an Ethiopian restaurant.  We had such a nice time chatting, I totally forgot to take pictures.

Day Two- Wedding Bells!

Andrew and Courtney got married in the ultra-picturesque mountains of Quincy, CA.

Day Three- Visiting with Aunt Diana

Our last day in California we had a picnic luncheon and day at the park with my Aunt Diana.  She is vivacious and lots of fun and packed a delicious spread!  The park was really neat too, they had a carousel, petting zoo, bounce house, and train ride in addition to the normal park play structures.  Cadence had a blast!

I like this one cause her little cheeks look so chubby!

It was a short trip, but with twins on the way we are not sure when we'll have the opportunity again so we are glad we were able to go!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Our Visit with Martha!

In June, I was notified that I was the winner of the Martha Stewart Living the Good Long Life challenge, a promotion for her new book Living the Good Long Life: A Practical Guide to Caring for Yourself and Others.  The prize was an all-expenses paid trip to spend a day with Martha at her farm in Bedford, NY.  The trip was intended for one recipient, but knowing what a massive, long-time fan my dear friend Lily is, I asked if we shared accommodations and she could paid her own airfare if I could bring her along.  The team member coordinating the contest and trip asked Martha and got approval.  This approval came through on June 20th.  I got the email while checking out at Costco, and immediately tried to get Lily on the phone.  I tried calling and left urgent messages for the next hour, then decided I'd better cool it and just wait for a return phone call.  In the evening, I got a call from Lily.  Her family was in the background as she was having a birthday celebration.  I shared the excellent news and was delighted to hear her squeals of excitement as she relayed the info to her gathered family.  I was pretty sure at the time enjoying her reaction would be the highlight of winning this amazing prize.

It took some work to find time in Martha's schedule, but the trip was eventually set to spend September 28th with Martha.  It worked out perfectly for Lily and me, is a beautiful time of year in Bedford, and also was a day Martha was hosting a garden tour/cocktail party fundraiser for the Bedford branch of the Audubon society.

On September 27th, I kissed my sweet little girl goodbye and boarded a plane for New York.  The flight was long, but I was thoroughly engrossed in THE MIDWIFE by Jennifer Worth, the book that the popular PBS series "Call the Midwife" is based on.  I arrived in New York around 8:30 PM, where I met up with Lily and a driver collected us for the trip to the Homestead Inn in Greenwich, CT.  The inn sits on a beautiful piece of property on a hillside.  The gardens are lovely and the decor eclectic.  While I would probably not stay there again, with plumbing issues, inflexible though friendly staff, and doors that stuck, I would be tempted to return to enjoy a dinner at the highly rated restaurant.

In the morning, we woke up with the sun streaming in through an ill-placed window with no shade.  I nervously prepared for the day, putting more attention to my hair and make-up than in my dating days.  Lily treated me to a posh breakfast at the inn's restaurant.  I had brioche French toast with fresh fruit and fresh squeezed orange juice.  They didn't have any music going and it was a bit awkward with the sounds of other diners munching or gulping.  Soon, though, we were completely distracted by the task of penning a.thank you note.  Lily had the foresight to bring some gifts for Martha, including Utah honey, a favorite peach syrup, and some huckleberry taffy.  We were worried about how to present it and, Ben would have laughed to see us debating how to least awkwardly get these tokens of appreciation into Martha's hands.  I'm sure our shared fear of being awkward or inappropriate is one reason Lily and I are such great pals.  In the end, we pared it down to the syrup, as we had no basket to corral the others in a pretty package.  We decided to conceal the gift and note in Lily's purse until we could leave it in Martha's kitchen for her to find after our visit.

A car picked us up and took us to the farm, where we met several employees.  Suzy, Martha's Bedford assistant; Heather, events producer; Dominic, security; Ryan, head gardener; Pierre, caterer; Lily, housekeeper; Daisy, make up artist.  It was fun to ask them what it was like to work for Martha.  The general consensus was- it starts out quite intimidating, then is exciting, though high-pressure.

The stables at Bedford, I would happily move in tomorrow!
We took a tour with Heather and felt a little overdressed, though we were later glad of our carefully-chosen attire during the cocktail party.  The tour ended at the stables, which Martha had built on the original footings.  Gorgeous!  Incredibly nice and filled with beautiful black horses.  There was a courtyard where the event, an Audubon fundraiser garden tour/cocktail party was to be held.  There was a lot of set up in progress and we jumped in and helped a bit before exploring the stables.

Helping with party prep- the event will be featured in a future edition of Martha Stewart Living magazine.

Later, Suzy came to get us send take us up to Martha's home.  Martha was making biscuits for the party in one of the most beautiful, yet highly functuional, kitchens ever.  It was spic-n-span and completely organized.  Martha greeted us warmly and offered cappuccino, she was very proud of her machine and told a story later on the garden tour about hosting the Clinton's for some cappuccinos when they were in the neighborhood.  We accepted water, Evian, and settled in at stools at the island to chat and watch Martha make the biscuits.  She made baking for a party of 150 people look like nothing.  Martha gave some tips like blending part of the flour into the butter in the food processor then mixing it into the rest of the flour, and to make your own buttermilk with vinegar and whole milk.  She gave Lily a taste from the same spoon she had tasted from and I thought Lily would burst!

Daisy, Martha's makeup artist of 4 years, was there and we all chatted easily.  They were really fun!   Martha was incredibly gracious and welcoming.  They had been to a birthday party for her daughter, Alexis, 46, the night before and were discussing it but still included us.  Martha showed us all pictures from the party and boy does she have some beautiful grandchildren!

Martha is a lot like what you see on TV, a very genuine person.  She is very direct, but also very warm.  After learning Lily was from SLC and I'm from Boise, she asked "Are you Mormons?", and asked me, "Are you pregnant?" (a somewhat risky question at the 16 week mark, though the twins are growing fast!)  Another example of Martha's straightforward nature came when Daisy asked if Martha thought that her date to the party was attractive. "No." Was the honest reply.  It was pretty funny.  Side note- her daughter has 5 nannies!  What a life!
After whipping up the angel biscuits (see Martha's video tutorial - she doubled the recipe for the party of 150), Martha served up the lunch she had made us: lamb shanks, green beans from her garden, and stuffed bell peppers.  It was beautiful as it was delicious.  I sat next to Martha, while Lily and daisy sat across.  We chatted about lots of things including our favorite TV programs.  Martha is loving Homeland right now.  We all agreed The Walking Dead is too gory.  I was the only Breaking Bad fan, though I gave a rousing defense of the series.  We all loved House of Cards.  I asked Martha if she knew when the new season was starting and she replied, "Oh, I just saw Kevin Spacey last week playing tennis and asked him that same question.  He said sometime next year".  Crazy!  Martha told us all about her neighbor, billionaire George Soros, and his lavish three-day wedding where he flew in the Hungarian orchestra and Hungarian gypsy dancers.

After lunch, Martha needed to run the biscuits down so she asked Daisy to treat us and do our make-up.  Oh, this whole time Martha was in her workout clothes and make-up free!  (thus our lack of pictures of the lunch and live cooking show).  Daisy took us on a tour of the downstairs of the house.  We saw Martha's doves and canaries.  The cats were in hiding.  The dogs were so cute and well-behaved.  Martha's home was really lovely and classic.  It is monochromatic in this lovely green gray (Bedford Gray in her Home Depot paint line).  Daisy took us down to the basement, which held a laundry room, a large storage room, a craft/gift wrap room, and a make-up station.  There was a lady doing laundry.  Daisy took us to the make up area. It was loaded with products people send Martha, as well as ones she loves.  While Lily had her face done, I checked out the adjoining store room with neatly arranged boxes of crafting supplies and an organized gift wrap station.  Then
Daisy did my make-up.  She told us all about life working for Martha- lots of travel and excitement!  She asked about how I met my husband- I smiled because this was one of my big conversation starters when I was a missionary.  I told her our story and she wanted to see pictures.  She proclaimed Ben handsome and Cady adorable.  The make-up was heavier than I was used to, but we looked gorgeous and were ready for the party.  Just in time too, because Martha came down and needed to get dolled up so Lily and I headed off to join the gathering Audubons.
Handsome Ben and Adorable Cady

Martha's Canaries

Martha's Dining Room

Francesca fell asleep sitting like this on the back patio.
Post-Makeover, in the butlers pantry

A view of the impeccable kitchen.

Genghis Khan taking a nap

A view of the stables from the back door.

We took our time strolling there, admiring the gorgeous views and scenery.  We walked by the peony garden, through an allee of trees, and recapped our favorite portions of the day so far.  Once with the group, we were gathered with the VIP segment for a garden tour led by Martha.  She had her chow chow Genghis Khan on a leash while Francesca and Sharkey roamed free.  The tour made us look at the garden with new eyes as Martha talked with passion and love.  She purchased the farm 12 years ago in dilapidated state and renovated it into something akin to paradise.  There were lovely boxwoods, stately trees, pastures, an apiary, greenhouses, flower and vegetable gardens, a shade garden, a tropical courtyard garden, and much more to tour and admire.  It was wonderful and my pregnant self didn't mind the long walk- thanks, body!- and I ignored my aching feet.

The view from Martha's back door.

A photo of the cider we enjoyed being made.
The hour long tour ended back at the beautiful- I cannot fully stress these gorgeous buildings- stables and we rejoined the party.  Martha had mentioned at the cider served was picked from her apples and pressed the day before.  We tried it, it was very good and garnished with thin apple slices.  I also had water during the evening, sparkling Pellegrino with lime, and the bar tenders and waiters were all gorgeous.  The event was a fundraiser with many donated items, including the best macaroons Lily and I have ever tasted.  I had a pistachio and a raspberry and wished I had room to try the others.  There were sugared salty almonds, and cheese sticks at the bar.  There was a table of cheeses, crackers, and quince jelly.  There were two more dessert tables with delectable looking offerings, though I was only able to find room for a mini cookies-n-cream cupcake.  There were passed hor d'oeuvres (did you know if you run a google search of 'hor d'oeuvres', Martha's site is the second result? She is truly the expert!) as well.  One tray had toast bits with various toppings. I tried the chicken salad- just OK, and this soft cheese and beet combination topped with a sugared walnut- amazing.  There was one server who always made sure to come by the pregnant lady.  I didn't want to discourage this, so always took something, and so enjoyed several of these treats throughout the evening.  The hot tray that went around had spicy corn fritters- a bit greasy but very good; potato latkes with applesauce- yum!; the biscuits Martha made filled with sliced ham and her homemade mustard- very good, and so easy to do!; crepes with aged cheddar- I love the sweet and savory options; butternut squash soup with croutons; and, the very best offering, sliders made from grass fed beef- out of this world good!

   Side note: The sliders were very popular.  Lily and I were determined to try them after hearing the buzz about them, but that proved difficult and they quickly disappeared from the passed trays.  There was a funny lady who had these made and delivered to her personally at her seat, after asking the waiters in a loud but not rude tone "What do I have to do to get a slider?  Go to the grill and make one myself!?"   At one point, as the speeches were about to begin, Lily and I thought we'd finally get to try some- two left on a tray headed right for us!  We headed for the tray, only to have this funny lady hop up from her seat, race up, and grab them both!  One was shoved directly into her mouth (no, these were not bite-sized), and the other jealously hoarded until she was done chewing the first.  I had to cover my mouth, first opened in shock at how quickly this before completely sedentary lady had scampered, and then to keep my laughter silent to not disturb the speeches.

The speech portion was interesting, but one part stuck out that showed Martha's sense of humor.  A man shared a story of being called up for jury duty.  He explained how the form asked about the magazines he read, and he put 'Martha Stewart Living' down.  When the judge saw, she said "Oh, I love that magazine!  Did you see October's issue?"  "Those pumpkins were fabulous! -  Hey... does this mean I get out of jury duty?"  "Oh no, buddy, you're family now!"
Martha pipes up, "Well that wasn't my judge!"

The table Lily and I helped set up.
Ramon made quite the fuss during speeches.

The food was delicious, the service excellent, and we were rubbing elbows with some very friendly, bird-loving hoity-toits.  We really enjoyed our evening and ended it with pictures with Martha and I had her sign my book.  We walked back up to the main entrance in a daze, where a car was waiting to return us to the Homestead Inn.  Martha had been upset that our trip was so short and that they had not scheduled us for a day in the city to see the offices there.  Heather let us know if we are ever in New York again to send her an email and she'd set us up with a tour, so we were left with not only a wonderful day of memories but also something to look forward to. 

Breakfast at the Homestead Inn before heading to the airport.

The Homestead Inn's lovely porch.

What I get to come home to!

Martha's blog post: