Monday, December 15, 2014

Because winning is what Christmas is all about

It's that time of year again when you, the blog readers, determine the winner of the Morley Family Gingerbread House Extravaganz-a-a-a-a!

There was only one participant who had an emotional meltdown this year, and it was not the toddler. I'd say everyone else fared pretty well, and this year's work may be some of our best yet. But there can only be one Christmas winner, so please place your vote in the poll to the right. The poll is on the right and not below the post because blogger hates me. Also, please excuse the shoddy photography, and remember to focus on the creativity and execution of the structure and not the poor lighting and candy mess in the background.

Entry A:

Roadside Farm Stand

Entry B.

A Hot Mess from the participant who had two separate tries collapse and who then spent an hour trying to compose him/herself on the couch. 

Entry C:

Entry D:

City Skyline (Remember, ignore the background)

 Entry E:

Rockefeller Plaza (Yes, there are four diet coke cans back there. Get over it.)

Entry F:

House of Ivy featuring a special photobomb of someone's rear

Entry G:

Brazilian Favela

Entry H:

Project Runway

Entry I:

Scene from a Railroad, shot from two different angles because there's a lot going on.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Nightmare Before Christmas

This morning I heard Ivy say to herself, "Don't pee on the carpet." 

It's been A WEEK. At 32 weeks gestation, we're running out of time before Ramona makes her big debut, and I knew that if I didn't get potty training out of the way now, I probably wouldn't have the energy to try again until Ivy started Junior High. Is the Christmas season an ideal time to put your family through Hell? No. But I'm only going to get more walrus-like and more emotional and what if I deliver early? So a week ago today we quit diapers.

We had three really difficult days. At the end of day 2 I called my mom in hysterics. I told Stephen that if day three still signaled no progress, we were going back to diapers. Indefinitely. But then the next day something started to click. OKAY FINE, I BRIBED MY CHILD. I bought her a Sofia The First doll, placed it on the bathroom towel rack, and told Ivy as soon as she did that which we had spent the previous 48 hours begging and pleading with her to do, Princess Sofia the first was hers. I've never seen anyone look at anything with as much longing as Ivy looked at that doll. And the next morning, she did it. And then she did it again. And then she kind of got it. And she's been making tremendous progress since. I mean, sure, it's a two-steps forward one-step back kind of progress, but she's 2. Accidents are bound to happen. Progress is progress. I'm maybe a little concerned about the psychological damage I've caused by essentially buying my daughter's obedience, but it will take her therapist years to uncover that little bad parenting secret, right?

Now I hate to get all serious and sentimental, but it's amazing how in the past week she's somehow gone from baby to small child. It could be her taking some responsibility for her actions, communicating her needs, and really doing her darndest to make her parents happy. It could be the lack of diaper bum in her now saggy pants. It could be the way she picks out her undies and matches them to her outfit (pink on pink on pink). Whatever it is, she just seems older and wiser and more capable of being a big sister. Which makes me all teary-eyed, but I am eight months pregnant and recently cried at a beer commercial, so take that for what it's worth. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Happy Weekend

You've probably already watched this 12 times. But watch it one more.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bird is the word

Next week we're headed to Disneyland for Thanksgiving. Wait, didn't I just return from a vacation? Yes. Isn't that a little ridiculous? Yes.

Anyway, our Disneyland Thanksgiving meal usually consists of a giant corn dog and fries, which, trust me, is amazing. But a small part of me longs for stuffing and gravy. So this year, I decided we would have our cake and eat it too, and by cake I mean turkey. 10 days early.

I really enjoy cooking. To a semi-obsessive extent. I spend more time reading recipes than I do literature. The more difficult a meal is to prepare, the more excited I get. However I've never had the bravery to attempt an entire holiday feast. It's always been something best left to the kitchen veterans. Those who have spent years perfecting their sage to butter ratio and turkey browning procedure. But all those years had to start at some point, right? I'm 28, so if not now, when? This was my year. So on Monday I made Thanksgiving dinner.

I cheated a little. I didn't make rolls or a pie because I just didn't have the oven space. I did do a turkey, stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy. For Stephen, Ivy, and me. It's an obscene amount of food for three people, but I've had stuffing for lunch every day this week, and the turkey seems to be getting better with refrigerator aging.

Stephen looks a little Charles Manson-y in this photo, and you can't really see the huge plate of turkey in front of Ivy, but it's the only proof I have. While the stuffing was a little parsley heavy, and not all the potatoes mashed as well as I hoped they would, nothing burned, the turkey was actually pretty freaking good, and I now know that making gravy is...gravy. So let's mark it a success.


I am very pregnant. My back kind of hurts and I panic every time fifteen minutes passes and I don't feel a kick, but other than that things aren't too terrible yet. We're at 11 weeks until Ramona's due date, which seems both a really long time and a shockingly short amount of time. At some point I should really figure out where this kid is going to sleep. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mexico Part 2 Dos, Also Montezuma's Revenge

I spent yesterday dealing with a surprise souvenir from our Mexican adventure. In retrospect, one should probably pay more than $3.00 for six tacos. Or maybe it was the ice that did me in? We were careful to only drink bottled water, but I did have a lot of ice with my coke lights with lime. Whatever it was, it wreaked complete havoc on my system and I spent the night thinking surely I would die. Luckily, now it's passed and I can get back to the remembering our sunshine-filled week on the beach. 

The thing about unwinding is that it takes a while. Stephen and I were both in the middle of about 7,000 projects when we picked up and left the country for a week, and the hotel had no free wifi, so we spent the first couple of days twitching and feeling a little...bored. I also called my parents about 17 times to make sure Ivy was still breathing. Oh. And. As if we weren't feeling guilty enough as parents, we met an adorable young couple (the wife was about as pregnant as I am) who had brought their daughter because they are better people than we are, and the daughter's name was Ivy. We nearly melted with bad parent guilt every time we saw them. So by Tuesday night we were feeling antsy and really missing our kid and wondering if maybe we should just head home early. But then, by day 3, we started to feel okay about spending the entire day reading and eating guacamole. And we remembered that Ivy's grandparents are way more attentive to her needs than we are. Plus, we were averaging 11 hours of sleep a night and starting to really feel the benefits. 

Except for one night. At about 1:00 am the entire hotel woke up to what can best be described as mariachi marching band music booming from a boat on the beach. Take mariachi music, which is no quiet affair to begin with, add some really heavy drums, amplified with speakers, and lasting for about an hour. Most of the other hotel guests were aged somewhere between 62 and 107, and they did not take well to the early morning serenade. One woman yelled from her balcony "Turn that off!" as though the people actually on the boat with the sonic boom would hear her. The man above us called the front desk and asked them to use lethal force to make the music die. It didn't work. Just as one song would end and we thought sleep could finally take us once more, another would start. Stephen thinks it was part of a war between hotels, some hospitality sabotage, which I tend to agree with if only because it's a more exciting explanation than drunk fishermen enjoying some late night sweet tunes. 

Anyway. We spent our mornings at the beach, eavesdropping on the group in the lounge chairs next to us. The men, all in their 60s,  wore gold chains and shorts that were not age appropriate. The women, all in their 50s, wore extra cleavagey bikinis and everyone was inexplicably tan for being from New York. They would talk about whatever member of the group was back at the hotel, and from what we could gather, a few of the couples were arguing but pretending not to be.  The resort started serving drinks at 10:00 am(!) before even offering food, and the people on the other side of us usually started their beers right around then. 

We'd spend the afternoon walking the beach, watching the pelicans try and catch fish, hunting for crabs on rocks, and choosing sea shells to show Ivy. Then we'd sit by the pool, read, order guacamole and make our way to the marina for insanely cheap meals. As mentioned earlier, I ended up paying in other ways, but still. Gotta love a bargain.

We made friends with lots of iguanas, which were everywhere, including the top of the palm tree right outside our room. 

We took a break from the sun to go see Interstellar. Dude, that script needed some HELP. I actually laughed out loud at multiple lines, and when the final plot climax was revealed I rolled my eyes. But the theater had the most delicious caramel popcorn so it was worth it. 

Please keep in mind that I'm 7 months pregnant and didn't do my hair all week.

By week's end we were relaxed, full of burritos, and twice as freckled as when we left. It was just enough of a break, and we were ready to go be parents again. But Ivy wasn't quite ready for us. When we walked into my parents' house, Ivy started crying, reached for my mom, and wouldn't look at us for thirty minutes. Ollie, however, peed with excitement when he saw us. So at least someone missed us. Ivy did eventually come around. The gifts probably didn't hurt. She's been counting the seashells we gathered for days now. And I think she's happy to be back in our funny little routine, even if she did spend thirty minutes crying "NO PANTS!" this morning. Stephen and I are happy to be back too.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mexico Part 1

It feels entitled and selfish and very one percent every time I say, "I need a vacation." But in the middle of my first trimester, right after we had moved to Utah and Stephen was studying for the bar and Ivy had stopped napping and I was wondering if I would spend the rest of my life hunched over the toilet, I felt more deserving of a vacation than I really had any right to. 

So I got to work planning. With enough credit card points to cover our hotel stay, and Stephen's parents generously donating some of their sky miles, it was a getaway that wouldn't put us in the poor(er) house. So the only thing left to feel guilty about was abandoning our child for a week. When my parents came to pick her up the night before our departure, I had good cry and imagined all the worst-case scenarios that could possibly happen in our absence, because if I worry enough about it it won't happen, as I always say.

The next morning Stephen and I, the official least biggest fans of the AM hours, woke up at the crack of dawn and tried not to bit each others' heads off on our way to the airport. Mornings are bad for marriage. 

But after we checked in and made our way to the gate, our moods started to change. There's a very different feel between the passengers waiting to travel to say, New Jersey for a business conference, and those waiting to board a plane to Puerto Vallarta for a week's vacation. A good 75% of our fellow passengers wore their finest tropical-themed shirts and offered commentary on the very favorable Mexican weather forecast. People were smiling. A Delta employee called Stephen and I to the desk. She informed us that she had noticed we weren't sitting next to each other and had rearranged some passengers so our seats were in the same row, making her the first airline employee I've ever had the urge to hug. Once aboard the plane, the pilot cracked some corny jokes, we all enjoyed our in-flight beverages, and a good nap later, we landed in PV. 

The line to get through customs wrapped around the airport and it looked as though we had an hour wait before getting our passports check. BUT, just as the bad mood came creeping back, an airport employee directed us to a line-less station. If looks could kill, we would have suffered grisly deaths a hundred times over at the hands of those poor suckers ahead of us in the line that never ended. Worth it. Sure, it was frustrating when we were stopped twice by what we thought were official employees only to find out they were trying to sell us tickets to some dumb dinner show, and yeah, we probably paid way too much for the cab ride to the hotel, but overall the trip south was the best traveling experience of my life to date. 

We dropped our luggage off in the hotel room, headed to the beach, opened our books, and enjoyed the first of what would be many refreshing pool-side Coke Lights. 

Not sure how to get it to him?

Friday, October 31, 2014

It's Decorative Gourd Season


Sorry for the absence. I've been swamped with work and watching Gilmore Girls and parenting and watching Gilmore Girls.

I'm telling a story tomorrow night for The Porch in SLC. Eli from It Just Gets Stranger is the night's featured story teller. Eli's blog is everything a blog should be and is easily one of my favorite places on the internet. So even if my story is a total stinker, it will still be an event worth attending. Tickets available here.

Stephen and I are heading on a babymoon. Just Stephen and I. No Ivy. Half of me is looking forward to a week of napping and seeing movies and not answering the question "What are you doing?" 237 times a day. The other half is feeling like the worst mother in the world and like I can't survive a week without my child and I'm asking so many what ifs that I'm about five minutes from having to breathe into a paper bag. She'll be in the very capable hands of her grandparents who have collectively raised seven children, and she'll enjoy being spoiled rotten far more than she'd enjoy a beach, but STILL. My baby. But also naps. And diet cokes by the pool. And reading eight books. She'll be fine, right? She'll be fine.

Because we're leaving on a jet plane and LEAVING OUR KILLER DOGS HERE AND THE ALARM SYSTEM WITH LAZERS ON, I probably will forget won't have time to blog about Halloween. But I would never deprive you of photos of my kid in a costume.

Or photos of my dog in a costume.

Or my favorite Halloween video.