Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Lila!

My baby is one today! Because of scheduling conflicts we celebrated a day early with my family.

Lila loves to play with Pa Dave! Their favorite game is "I'm gonna git ya!" She squeals and crawls at him, then face plants in the carpet just before reaching him, and then she just waits to be tickled.

Caite and Lila are showing you that Lila is "ONE"! Well, Caite is showing you that Lila is one, Lila is probably just pointing at the Christmas tree...

I have been fighting some Mommy guilt over the fact that Jake and Evie both had more elaborate 1st birthday parties, or at least they were planned beyond, "Oh yeah, um... let's have cake tomorrow..." But she doesn't know the difference or care and minimal effort was necessary for a sane mommy this week. The other hard part is that as the third child she doesn't really need anything as far as presents go. She got a birthday outfit, some long sleeved onesies and a cute pair of embroidered corduroy overalls from Mommy and Daddy. A fun farm book that makes animal sounds from Pa Dave. And this was her one toy...

A ball popper that plays music! (You'd think I'd have figured out the loud and annoying toy thing by #3... sorry Brian.) The older two have had just as much fun, if not more, with it though. So I am calling it a successful gift.

This picture just makes me laugh, her crazy, excited eyes just seem to scream, "OOOOH! SUGAR!!" don't they? And fortunately she has an older sister there to show her the finer points of blowing out your birthday candles. Such as, don't use your hand, owie!

And then it was time for my favorite first birthday tradition, let them go hog wild smashing cake in their face! My other two did not like to be dirty and didn't really enter into the spirit of the thing. (In fact, Jake went absolutely hysterical when he reached the cream filled center of his hostess cupcake.) Obviously not a trait that Lila shares...

She demolished two small slices of cake. When I put the first one on the tray of her highchair she gave me a look that seemed to say, "Seriously? You do realize that by putting this with in arms reach of me you've made it fair game, don't you?" Then she attacked it while keeping an eye on me to make sure I wasn't going to change my mind and take it away. After the cake was gone she spent a good 10 minutes painstakingly scrapping the frosting off the tray with one dainty finger. She was determined not to leave a speck of sugar behind.

I love you so much my little Lila Faith. I know that you were sent to our family to complete us. You have been my sweetest blessing in a year of so much change and sorrow, and living proof to me that having faith and trust in Heavenly Father's plan for my life will result in greater rewards than I could ever imagine. Happy Birthday baby girl!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

These halls aren't going to deck themselves...

That's what I discovered last year halfway into December. When I was growing up the day after Thanksgiving was "D Day!" (D for decorations.) As we got older it grew into a two to three day process because my mom loved to decorate any surface that didn't move. So this year we decided to adopt that tradition of decorating on Black Friday. And the only way this worked was my kind in-laws came over last Wednesday and helped me clean my house and pull out and set up the tree. (Thanks again Terrie, Tracie and Brooke!)

Daddy and the kids checking the lights, obviously a three year old is a must for a job like this...

After I took this picture Jake said, "Hey Mom! Did you see what I did? I posed like Pa Dave always does in pictures!"

Evie discovered that when the TV is off it makes an excellent mirror! She spent several minutes posing with the lights and talking to her reflection.

Jake is not happy that the lights have to go on before the ornaments. Mostly he isn't happy that he is the only who fits under the tree at this point.

It only took about 5 minutes for Brian and I to realize that between the two of us one couldn't reach the top because of height, and one couldn't reach the top without taking out the tree and probably one of the kids as well. So we called in the cavalry, his parents and my sister and her husband. Jim and Brian were able to get the lights on in 20 minutes. If it had been just Brian and I it would have taken a couple of hours. Then came another 20 minutes or so of, "No you can't put all the gingerbread men together." and "You guys we have to put some ornaments on the top half of the tree." and "Stop touching and dumping everything out of the boxes!" But in spite of the children's help it turned out not half-bad.

My homespun Christmas tree that is a mix of country and Victorian style, with a smattering of precious keepsakes made by my kids.

And our stockings are hung by the chimney with care...

...except for Lila's which I realized tonight that I made it backwards! Again! it is a crazy quilt style like Evie's, and this is the second time that I have pieced it and then realized that it will hang the opposite direction. I am beyond frustrated because I have already embroidered half of the front of hers. grrr.... Guess I will just try to focus on the pleasant feeling at all that has been accomplished this week.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Helping in the kitchen...

Earlier in the evening I heard a strange noise from the kitchen...

"Oh, Hi Mom. I am just inspecting the cupboard in here."

"Look at these interesting stick thingys. Oh! They break when you bend them!"

"Hmmm, there are more of them in this package. But I can't open it, grrrr."

"I left a little bit of mess there, can you get that Mom?"

Good thing I keep the flour and sugar up higher, huh?

Friday, November 20, 2009

True Confessions of a Holiday Cook...

I really, really didn't want to blog about this. I have done everything in my power to sweep this memory under the rug of my mind. But it refuses to go away, so my hope is that blogging about this experience will be both cathartic for me and keep other young housewives from having to go through the same pain. It all started with the culturally indoctrinated part of my brain that we'll call the "guilt center". You know what I am talking about, that part that all women come hard-wired with and that many religions exploit in making us feel that saying "no" to a service opportunity is on par with stealing candy from a small child.

Our ward has our Christmas Party the 2nd weekend in November. No, I can't explain why. I guess they are just getting a jump on the holiday season before we are all too busy to attend. So two weeks before that a sign-up sheet went around Relief Society asking for 8 sisters to cook a turkey and then bring it to the church. (With the turkey and foil roasting pans provided for us, of course.) The first week 4 sisters signed up. I felt not the slightest twinge as I passed the sheet on to the next sister, confidant that 4 more sisters with much more experience than I in cooking turkeys would jump at the chance to serve the ward. The next week the sign-up sheet went around again, with a slightly more desperate pleading for 4 more volunteers. At this point I still didn't even think of myself as a candidate, as the sheet started on the other side of the room and would surely be filled before it ever got to me. I settled in to enjoy the lesson as much as is possible while engaged in a wrestling match with an ornery 11 month old.

Twenty minutes later the clipboard passed to me... only one name written down! Those three blank lines seemed to swell in front of my eyes and that stupid guilt center kicked into overdrive. "I can't sign up for this, I haven't cooked a turkey for a couple of years. You know how to cook a turkey though, you've done it before with success. But what if I mess it up? You are going to let a fear of failing keep you from trying? That's not very faithful of you. Oh, shut up. Plus you know you need to be more involved in the ward, overcome the shyness that keeps people from getting to know you... Fine! Fine! I am signing the sheet... are you happy now?" (Am I the only one who's internal dialog is so antagonistic?)

Fully committed now, I spent the better part of the next week psyching myself up to cook that turkey and cook it well. I consulted with my Dad about the best options in cooking times and temperatures, made sure I had all my supplies and was feeling quite optimistic about the whole endeavor. The first twinge of unease came the Wednesday evening before when the head of the activities committee dropped off "the bird". It was huge! Easily as big as my baby. 22 pounds to be exact. And frozen solid. The "If it had fallen off the counter onto my foot the only choice would have been amputation" kind of frozen solid. But they told me to put it in the fridge and it should be thawed come Saturday morning. I more or less cheerfully cleaned out the bottom shelf of my refrigerator and hefted the beast inside, where it reigned in solitary splendor for the next 4 days.

Saturday morning dawned grey and bitterly cold. A portent of things to come? We had an appointment to go get flu shots in the morning and then I had another service project I was doing with my cousin. Can't say no, remember? (No. That one was actually fun, we were sewing pillowcases for a charity and it really didn't feel like service because we both got a $20 gift certificate for fabric! That is the one part of my day I don't regret.) My plan had been to put the turkey in the oven before I left for sewing, thus giving plenty of time for slowly roasting the bird to golden deliciousness. I had the oven preheating and everything out and ready to prep the turkey. I had checked the bird that morning before we went to get shots, by pressing on the breast and it didn't feel frozen. But when I heaved it out of the fridge and dropped set it on the counter, the entire kitchen shook. The darn thing was still frozen! I was uneasy but still thinking it would work out. I placed in the sink with lukewarm water and went off to sew pillowcases for an hour.

I called my husband when I finished at the quilt shop and asked him to preheat the oven again, rushed home and prepared to prep the turkey again. I lifted it out of the water to the other side of the sink and felt both sides give when I pushed on them. Relief rushed through me and I cut open the netting then the shrink wrapping. I unhooked the plastic deal-y that holds the legs together so I could pull out the neck and giblets package. Only to be thwarted by the fact that the neck was still completely frozen to the inside of the turkey! At this point all I could see in my mind's eye was that commercial from a few years ago where the woman is standing in her kitchen crying while trying to defrost her turkey with a hairdryer. Oh dear. Panic setting in I had Brian calling our Bishop's wife for ideas while I dialed my Dad. His helpful observation. "You should have taken it out last night and had it thawing in the sink..." If I had a time machine at this point I would have zipped past last night straight back to Sunday and not signed that stupid clipboard! But through dint of much praying and a little hot water I soon had the cavity emptied and the blasted bird turkey in the oven, at a slightly higher temperature in hopes that it would be a fast cooker.

Then I retreated to the living, flopped onto the sofa and began to sob. I knew that disaster was immanent. The laws of physics were just not on my side in this battle, and I didn't know what to do. Brian played the part of concerned husband perfectly, even to the point of calling around to find out where we could purchase a precooked turkey or turkey breast. I had to go get something from my Dad to make the gravy so I cried all the way over there, even knowing that it was ridiculous to be reduced to tears by frozen poultry. My dad was very sweet and offered to come help me check the turkey and make the gravy that night. Feeling much better that someone who knew what they were doing would be there to oversee this operation (and someone who could actually heft that behemoth out of the oven) I came home. But I honestly can't tell you what I did for the next few hours, it's all kind of a panic-y haze. Dad came over a half an hour before we were supposed to be at the church, and we pulled the turkey out and started to carve it up, only to realize that it was no where near done. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. We stuck it back in the oven and went off to the party empty handed. (And if that isn't courage, then I don't know what is...)

Fortunately our ward had over planned on food so that even without 22 pounds of turkey there was still enough for everyone. And the sister in charge was very kind and understanding about the whole ordeal. I told her it was home still cooking and asked her what she wanted me to do with it when it was done? "Eat it." Eat it!? A 22 pound turkey? We had a pre-Thanksgiving dinner the next day with both my family and the in-laws. And I think the leftovers will last until long past Thanksgiving.

So if you have made it through this entire post then I hope you take two things away from it. 1: Take your turkey out the night before and make sure that it is completely thawed before you start trying to cook it. 2: Sometimes it is okay to pass those sign-up sheets right on down the line and tell your inner voice to just shove it!

Friday, November 13, 2009

An evening ramble...

I don't know if you remember this post from earlier this year about the fact that Jacob is an occasional sleepwalker. The first time I remember him doing it, he was 2 years old and had been taking a nap in my bed. He came down the hall, crying, with one side if his hair and clothing sopping wet. I could not for the life of me figure out how he had a leaky diaper that only leaked on one side and got his hair wet too?! I went to investigate and found one of my pillows and his blanket in the bottom of my shower. It took 10 minute of questioning on my part to realize that he wasn't all the way awake and couldn't tell me why he decided sleeping in the shower was a good idea.

Last night was a classic though. About an hour after I had tucked him into bed he came stumbling into the living room and sat down on the couch by me. I asked him what he was doing and only got unintelligible mumbling in response. I kissed him on the forehead and told him to go get back into his bed. So he got up and shuffled into the kitchen, where he opened the drawer where we keep Ziploc and tinfoil and just stared intently into it. Trying not to laugh, I asked him what he was looking for. He pulled a plastic baggie out of the drawer and came back to the couch. He then started to try to put it on his foot. At this point both Brian and I were hysterical but not laughing out loud because we didn't want to startle him awake and scare him. I asked if he needed help and he handed me the bag and kept pointing at his ankle bone, saying that it hurt and he needed to cover it. So I picked him up, and there is a mental picture for you, because he is only a head shorter than I am... this time next year I will probably just have to hook my arms under his arms and drag him to bed. He wrapped his arms around my neck and his legs around my waist, and I realized there was no way in heaven or earth I could get him back down to his room by myself. So I carried him into the girls room and tucked him into bed with Evie, with his head at the foot of the bed. The second his head touched the pillow he gave a huge sigh, and... back to sleep.

An hour later I went down to switch the laundry and found his top sheet in the door way to the laundry room, and his pillow in a laundry basket in front of the dryer.

I just wish I knew what is in his dreams at night.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Preschool again?

This is how I feel every month when it is my turn to teach. It's not like it should be a surprise to me... but it kind of is. This week I had a review of letters A-J, circles, snow and fairness as my topics. I think we did pretty good. On Monday we focused more on the letters. I made a memory game with letters and simple pictures on different cards, then the kids would try to find the match. A for apple, B for ball, and so on... They really seemed to enjoy it, and I was quite impressed with how well they remembered where the letters and pictures they had turned over before were. Better than I did, more proof that memory is one of the first things to go, I guess.

We read a lot of books about snow and I was wracking my brain on Tuesday night for some ideas. Thank heavens for the internet. Even though it meant scrambling this morning and going to three different stores (that's right... I was committed to this idea!) looking for snowballs. But how cute was this little treat?

It's a Hostess Snowball for the snowman's head and we used Reese's Piece for the face. And then they took a handful of mini-marshmallows and sprinkled them on the plate for snow flakes. Easy enough for a 3 year old to do by themselves, but long enough to take up 15 minutes or so...

Their other favorite activity today was...


I gave them each a handful of cotton balls and then turned them loose to pelt each other as best they could! They were so funny, at first they just looked at me like I was crazy or it was a trick or something. You could almost see the thoughts in their little minds, "Really? You want us to throw things in the house? Really?" So I led by example, grabbed a handful and started to throw them at their noses... that was all the encouragement they needed!

I found a cute little poem that I tried to teach them, but I don't think they thought it was as funny as I did. Or they didn't quite understand why it is funny. I wrote it out on a card and glued a cotton ball to it so they could each have their own pet snowball.

Pet Snowball

I made myself a snowball,
just as perfect as could be.
I thought I'd keep it as a pet,
and let it sleep with me.
I gave it some pajamas,
and a pillow for it's head.
Then last night it ran away,
but first... it wet the bed!

And almost before I knew it, 12:30 rolled around and my house was quiet again. I am settling in to enjoy the next three weeks that I don't have to worry about teaching...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Math Wiz?

Today when I picked Jake up from school he decided to quiz my math skills.

Jake: "Okay. Mom, I've got a question for you. If Jill has 2000 jellybeans, and 257 of them are red, 206 of them are black, 364 are green, 98 are yellow, 122 are blue, and 5 of them are a grey and white speckled color, what is the minimum number she has to eat?"

Me: "Ummm, I don't know. As many as she wants?"

Jake: "No, no. So that she eats one of each color."

Me: "Oh. I'm not sure. Ummmm, 8?"

long pause.....

Me: "Is that right?"

Jake: "I don't know. I wasn't counting."

It was the first time I felt like I came out on top in a discussion about math with my son...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Prize Optuneat

I had to share this gift certificate Jake made for me tonight. He was doing a "show" for us at my dad's tonight, telling jokes and riddles. I guessed one of the riddles correctly so this was my prize.

In case you don't read 6 year old I'll translate. It says "You now have an opportunity to be on my show!" Then the coupon part is a picture of a person trying out on a curtained stage, under a sign that I think is supposed to say presentation. (I am just really impressed that he didn't ask anyone to spell anything for him, just sounded it out the best he could.)

The best part of this certificate is the seal of authenticity. That would be the oval that says "This is Real!" He added that after Caitlin told him that he needed to add a seal of authenticity so that someone couldn't make lots of copies or fake a certificate. My sweet, sweet, literal boy. Oh yes, and he signed it to authorize it's true value. So sorry everyone, if you were thinking of trying to counterfeit one of these babies for a chance to try out for his show... you just can't fake a "This is Real!" seal of authenticity!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A beautiful fall day...

Every day for the past week my kids have begged me to take them to the park after school. I took them last week on a whim and we weren't prepared for how chilly it was. I thought we could handle it for a little while, but about 2 minutes after we got there, Evie went down a slide without looking and at the bottom was a large cold puddle. Needles to say, I had two very disappointed children to herd back to the car. (And one was particularly upset with me when I made her take off her pants for the drive home....)

For various reasons it hasn't worked to go earlier this week, so I am very grateful that the weather cooperated by staying nice enough for us to go today. The kids were in heaven. Especially Lila, who had her first turn on a swing. She just belly laughed the whole time she was on it. I actually took a video clip, but forgot to hold the camera the right way. Bummer.

Jake was so cute pushing her on the swing. They just kept laughing at each other.

Jake is such a sweet brother. He spent quite a bit of time on the see-saw with Evie too, because she isn't big enough to power it on her own yet.

Not that that stopped him from climbing all over the place...

...and practicing his best ninja moves. (He should sleep really good tonight.)

Evie couldn't decide if she liked the swings or the see-saw the best. I think she was a little leery of the slides after our last park visit...

I think I need to make going to the park a priority for my kids as long as the weather stays nice.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Better late than never...

Or maybe a better title would be Post of a thousand pictures...

Okay, maybe there aren't a thousand, but there are quite a few. So consider yourself warned. Last month, over conference weekend, we went to Idaho to visit my cousin and her family. We had a blast. We had a picnic dinner and fed ducks, we had a popcorn movie night and watched Monsters vs. Aliens (Steven makes really yummy air popped popcorn!), we spent all day Saturday driving through the beauties of nature and enjoying each other's company and all in all had a wonderful time.

Getting read to Road Trip! This was the first time we have ever just taken our little family on a trip, by ourselves. It was a lot of fun. We had a little travel DVD player, plenty of kid's movies, some snacks and drinks and we were ready to go!

A few hours later they were all asleep. I just loved how kicked back Evie was in this picture.

We got the kids these activity desks so they could color in the car. We also went to the All-a-Dollar and got a handful of new coloring books to keep them entertained when we were hanging around the apartment. Jake got a lot of use out of his.

Evie was so tired she just laid her head down on her coloring book and caught a few Z's.

Lila enjoyed trying out Kaia's toys for her, since she's not quite old enough to play with them yet.

Buddies! Here they are modeling the hat and scarves that they borrowed from Tiffany. We knew it would be chilly, but we were not prepared for how cold it really was.

Lila's ready to go on a picnic, gotta love the mismatched outfit.

We went to a local park and grilled shishkebabs. There is a pond there and the local wild life is very used to being fed. If you so much as take a step in their direction, they swarm and follow you around. Fortunately, Tiff had a bag of stale rolls for the kids to feed the ducks.

Steven cemented his place in Evie's heart by being her knight in shining white hoodie! He held her up so she could feed the ducks in safety.

I just love this picture, I think the way the hat is sitting makes her look like a garden gnome.

We stopped at Mesa Falls on the way to Yellowstone. They were so beautiful, but it made me dizzy to look down.

Jake was mesmerized by them.

Trying to capture the rainbow in the spray from the falls.

Some times a boy has just gotta spread his wings and run the wiggles out.

We stopped for lunch in West Yellowstone, at the city park. All of the kids had to take a turn on these rocking horses.

Jake having a "Yee Haw!" moment. (Notice behind him? Well I did say all the kids took a turn...)

Lila got really into it once she figured out she could rock it herself.

The kids were so excited to look for wild life. Jake was poised with pen and a paper the park rangers gave us when we entered the park that had pictures of all the animals that you might see. Evie on the other hand just kept straining to see out her window so that she wouldn't miss any "aminals". She was also convinced that when the road went through thick stands of trees, we had entered the jungle. For 10 minutes or so, all we heard from the back seat was, "Now we're in the jungle, now we're in the forest, now we're in the jungle, now we're in the forest...."

We saw a few elk and deer, but this buffalo was by far the best animal sighting of the day. So beautiful and majestic.

Trying to smile without breathing. They did not care for the sulfur smell of the geysers and hot springs.

My good looking boys. Next time we go to Yellowstone we are definitely taking Brian's scooter, but I was so glad that he made the effort to sight see with the kids as much as he was able.

Jake on the board walk. That orange-y stuff to his right is called a bacteria mat. Tiffany, Evie and I were looking at it and trying to figure out what exactly it was. Tiffany was leaning down for a closer look and she asked, "Is is crystals?" Evie leaned over by her and then announced in a very loud, carrying voice, "No, that is diarrhea!" The other tourists around us got quite a kick out of that.

The crew hanging out on the board walk waiting for Old Faithful. (We could not have timed it more perfectly if we had tried, we waited for less than 10 minutes!)

My cute baby! (And the rare photographic evidence that I was actually on this trip too.)

Evie with her 2nd favorite guy! What I love is that she calls him "Steven" with the exact same inflection that Tiffany uses. Cracks me up...

Smile Jake! Hmmm, could he be any more six?

Thar she blows!

We only ate out once on our trip. We went to dinner in Jackson Hole at a bbq place that Steven knew about. It was pretty good, and the kids had fun looking at all the cowboy/western decor on the walls and drinking out of mason jar mugs.

We sat right across from this bear and the kids couldn't wait to be done eating so I would take their picture with it. They insisted that Tiffany get in the picture with them, and she was such a good sport. They adored playing with her and Steven all weekend.

Jake wanted to sit with Tiffany at dinner. Jake got the kid's bbq chicken. It was a quarter of a whole chicken! The breast and wing, and he ate every bit of it!

Evie was digging her grilled cheese sandwich. I am really lucky that my kids are such good eaters, even when I throw major wrenchs in the works, like not feeding them until 9 pm. They usually just roll with whatever new adventure we are having.

Cute little family! Steven, Tiffany and Kaia. She was such a good baby, even after being stuck in the car for more than 12 hours.

We had such a great weekend. Tiffany and Steven were great hosts, Evie told me every day for a week when we got back that she wanted to go sleepover at their house again. We can't wait to do this again!