Friday, January 29, 2010

An anniversary present

Kim Ellis Madsen
Aug. 14, 1958 - Feb. 9, 2009

So in less than 2 weeks it will be the 1st anniversary of my mother's passing. I don't know how I will feel on the actual day, Feb. 9th. I don't know from day to day how I will feel. I have had several people ask me how I am feeling about it and if I have any plans. I do actually have one plan. I am going to cut my hair. I have been growing it out for almost three years now, and it is probably longer than I have had it since I was 5 years old. I am not a long haired kind of girl and for most of my life it has been shoulder length or shorter, now it is halfway down my back. I considered cutting this last summer, but realized if I could hold off for a few more months it would finally be long enough to donate. So that is my plan, to cut and donate my hair on the anniversary of my mother dying from cancer. Hmmm, that sounds kind of morbid stated so baldly... but I think it will help me feel like I am doing something constructive and honoring her spirit, instead of just sitting around feeling sad. Plus I think shedding this weight from my head and undergoing such a dramatic change will help me feel like I am starting fresh and ready to move forward. (I don't know know if you have to be a woman to understand that, but who doesn't love a makeover?)

I have had another idea that I would like to implement and I will need others help with this. One of my cousins has mentioned on more than one occasion that her mother (my aunt) really liked to be able to talk about her mother (my grandmother) and just hear and tell stories about her on the anniversary of her death. And then last night one of my mother's sisters posted on facebook something that my mom had written on her blog a couple of years ago. It made me smile to read the words my mom had written all that time ago, and realize how much sweeter they are now knowing what she was going through at the time.

So my idea, I would love to hear stories from anyone about my mom. Funny ones, happy ones, tender ones, anything. I know all my stories and memories of her, but I would love to read about how others remember her. My blog has comment moderation on it so I get to read them before they get published (that way I don't have people putting spam and ads on my blog...) So I am going to make a file in my email and not read any of them until the day of the 9th. Then I will publish them all at once. Reading each comment will be like unwrapping a present. So please take the time to leave a memory you have of her, even if you've never commented before. And please also put your relationship to her or how you knew her, i.e. friend, co-worker, cousin, ect. Leave as many as you like. This will be such a great gift to myself, my brother and sister, and especially her grandchildren who will get to know her through our memories of her. I think that she would like to see us celebrating her life and remembering her this way.

So I will start by sharing one of my memories. I was 8 years old and we had just moved to our new house in Centerville. It was Saturday night and I had just finished having a bath. My mom came in and helped me get out of the tub and towel off, and then was combing through my hair. She picked me up, wrapped in a towel and said she was going to carry me to my room. Which I thought was kind of odd, but sometimes parents just like to baby their kids. Instead she carried me outside on the front porch (it was almost dark) whipped off the towel and darted back into the house and shut the door! I was in such shock I just stood there naked for a moment before scrambling inside. And as I got older she could never understand why I was such a tease to my brother and sister, she always blamed my dad for teaching me to tease people...

I love you mom, and I miss you everyday.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Which is worse? Congestion or milk through the nose...

Poor Brian has a head cold. Congestion, stuffy nose, coughing... the works. It's been a rough couple of nights with neither of us sleeping very well. Because of that tempers have been slightly frayed and it's been hard to find the humor that normally helps me through the day. Thank heavens for Evie. She gives me a good laugh at least once a day. Tonight it was over the dinner table. Brian had a coughing fit half-way through the meal, and because he is civilized person he turned to the side so that he wouldn't cough all over every one's food. Evie was impressed by this show of good manners and happily exclaimed, "Daddy! You did so good to turn your head and cough!"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

R is for... resurrection?

*Disclaimer* This is not as irreverent as it sounds.

My week for preschool. Our subjects were the letter R, the number 5, reptiles for science, gluing for art, and rules for citizenship. It was a pretty relaxed week because of the holiday we only had one day of preschool. Nice. It started off just fine. We did our workbook pages, and then we glued a Rainbow with 5 colors. We followed up by tracing feet and hand prints and numbering our fingers and toes, 'cause there are 5 of those! I was about to read a book called "See you later, Alligator" when Lila had a somewhat spectacular meltdown to announce that it was nap-time. I sent the preschoolers down to play in the toy room for a few minutes while I gave the baby a bottle and laid her down. All of the sudden I heard screaming and laughing, "Oh no! Oh dear! Hyrum is dead!... Oh hooray! Hyrum isn't dead anymore....Oh no, Hyrum is dead!.... Nope, not dead now." I have no idea what they were playing, but this went on for a good 4 or 5 minutes. And it made me chuckle and think, R is for resurrections. Okay, I guess my sense of humor is pretty irreverent.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What a difference nine years can make...

Today is our anniversary. And we celebrated by staring deeply into each others eyes across the dinner table, for about 2.5 seconds. We shared a romantic meal of grilled cheese sandwiches and soup, and a bottle of sparkling cider. We talked, but our conversation mostly consisted of chew with your mouth closed's and please don't interrupt's. There was, miraculously enough, nothing spilled, except soup on my shirt because it was white and unstained.

But you know what? It was a perfect night with my favorite people in the world. And it made me think what a difference children and passing years make on what constitutes a romantic celebration of love. Someday it will be just us again and anniversary dinners will mean dressing up and going to fancy restaurants, and not choosing between buying bread and milk or a dozen roses and chocolates. But somehow, I don't think that they will be anymore special than the years we'll spend sharing them with our three, noisy, crazy, and lovely babies.

Happy Anniversary Brian. Thank you for the three best presents I'll ever get. Here's to spending the next year celebrating our everyday, ordinary life.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A post for Dinee...

One of the best things about having a best friend for 20+ years is that I don't have to do anything more than post this picture to crack her up!

(This is a quilt I saw while window shopping at Anthropologie)

Ha Hah! I am NOT the only one, and I am NOT crazy! But I still love you...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My anniversary present...

On Tuesday we will be 9 years married, not too shabby. We are celebrating with a stay-cation. My wonderful in-laws took the kids for the night. A whole night with nobody needing my help with getting a drink, going to the bathroom, or having a nightmare. I am totally torn between going to bed early and reveling in the fact that I won't wake up to 3 year old feet in my kidneys or perched on 6 inches of mattress while my 6 year old sprawls across my side of the bed, and staying up to hang out with my hubby knowing that we can sleep-in in the morning! Decisions, decisions....

I do have to show off what my sweet husband got for me!

It's just what I wanted! Seriously, I emailed him the link, emailed him a wish-list, and talked about it pretty constantly starting around last August... and he picked up on my subtle hints. :)

He did surprise me with this sweet message on the back. I love them too!

Thanks for being a great husband and father Brian. I love you and am ready to see what the next 9 years will bring us.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Too sleepy...

We have been making a concerted effort this week to all get up in the morning and have a family breakfast before sending the boys out the door. It's a good thing for all of us. But until I get better at going to bed earlier the earlier rising time is not easy. Last night was an especially rough night for me and I lay in bed for hours trying to will myself to sleep knowing that 7:30 was just around the corner. I don't know when I finally fell asleep, but by 7:30 I was not awake. I vaguely remember Jacob asking me something and I thought I told him to have a muffin leftover from yesterday's breakfast. Apparently I didn't.

Brian heard me tell him to go close the girl's bedroom door so they wouldn't wake up, and then I was talking too softly for him to hear. He said Jake got a very confused look on his face, but quickly went to shut the bedroom door. After 5 minutes or so he came back to Brian looking worried. He said, "Hey Dad... what do you think Mom meant when she said 'follow the pattern and then just let it run for a minute' ?" Brian started to laugh and said, "I don't think that Mom is all the way awake, honey." Jake thought it was funny then. "Yeah, Mom was giving me sewing advice!" I think he was quite relieved that he wasn't going to be in trouble for not obeying me.

I really need to go to bed earlier...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Are you smarter than a 1st grader?

Tonight Jake asked me for a little help with his homework. He had a math worksheet where he was supposed to show equations that add up to ten, represented by pictures. For example he had 3 + 7 = 10, and had drawn 3 stars + 7 stars = 10 stars. There were 8 squares to fill up on the work sheet and after he had done every combination that equaled 10, there were still 2 empty squares. I looked at the sheet and then said, "Well buddy, why don't you do 9 + 2?" He gave me a long, level look and then said in an overly patient voice, "Because that would be 11, Mom."

I know I've said by the time he was in third grade I wouldn't be able to keep up with him when it comes to math. I may have overestimated myself...

Little laundry helpers...

These two bring a lot of fun to what can be a chore of drudgery.

What a lucky mom I am.

"Awwww, sisters gotta hug!"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Evie sings her ABC's

I had to get this down for posterity. I love the way she sings them with such conviction!

And of course little sister is quickly learning to copy whatever big sister does.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pizza Thief!

We have had the best weekend. After almost 5 months we got to hang out with our good friends Dinee and Tay, and their cute little girls. Between illnesses, crazy work schedules and holidays, it had been far too long since we had seen them. On Friday we got some pizza, watched the Jazz game, and then played Mario Bros. on the Wii. (I haven't laughed that hard in a really long time.)

While we were getting ready to play the Wii, I realized that Lila had been too quiet for awhile...

Jake had left part of his slice of pizza on the fireplace hearth. Well... waste not, want not I guess.

In the morning we woke up to Lila covered in chocolate from finding a cookie one of the kids had left on the floor. She really enjoyed the taboo treat. Brian did not enjoy waking up to Evie asking if it was okay that Lila was having a cookie for breakfast, and could she have one too?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Attempting to look like a girl...

Trying to make sure people can tell that Lila is a girl...

...and that she actually has some hair. I do love that she got curls though. Now if we could just get some more on top we'd be in business!

Good thing I've got another head of hair to play with on days when I'm feeling the "beauty parlor" vibe, and that she's (mostly) a good sport about it when Mommy wants to do a fancy up-do to go grocery shopping. Actually this is an attempt to deal with winter flyaway static. Anyone got some good tips for that problem? I am really missing having her hair long enough to braid right now...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Christmas Morning 2009

Ready to see if Santa came...

...and boy did he!

Lila got her own dolly stroller and an Eebee doll. (He is from her favorite show to watch.) The doll house was for both the girls.

Evie got the baby doll she asked for, it says "Mama" and giggles and cries and even makes a sucking sound when the bottle is put to it's lips.

Jake got the Wii for the family that he asked for. He also got some books and a weaving loom. He likes to do craft things. He also got a new game for his Leapster, where you build your own amusement park. (It made me think of you Josh.)

Lila was off and running with her stroller. (The few times we could get Evie to leave her alone and let her push it herself...)

Pa Dave, Caite and Patrick came over to watch the kids open presents and eat breakfast with us. It was a very nice and relaxing Christmas morning. (It was also the first Christmas since we've been married that we slept in our own bed. Now that's a new tradition I am looking forward to continuing.)

We went to Brian's parents for Christmas dinner and had a nice afternoon playing with the cousins and opening presents. And as much as they like opening presents, playing with the cousins was the favorite part of the day.

I threw this picture in just because I love the face that Evie is pulling. She manages to look excited and crazy at the same time... she is just crazy excited I guess.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Christmas Eve at Pa Dave's

I am finally getting around to documenting the rest of our wonderful Christmas. We spent Christmas Eve at my dad's with most of my mom's family. It's a tradition, and if you've seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding... well, we're not Greek, but we are big and loud. But we love the barely controlled chaos of it all.

Lila was there less than 10 minutes before she managed to dump someones glass of water all over herself, so she spent the first half hour hanging out in only a diaper while her clothes dried. I was just grateful that it was only water so we didn't have to wash and dry the clothes.

Lila with "pa pa". She gets so excited when ever we pull into his driveway and starts to shout "pa pa! pa pa!". And yes that is a Clementine orange in her hand, I made the mistake of setting her chair on the table next to a bowl of them. She thought they were balls and spent the entire time she was eating trying to empty the bowl of them onto her daddy's plate. When we moved them out of reach she started to freak out, but then was fine as long as she had one for each hand.

Awwww, loves for Papa.

Jake right in the middle of the conversation. My kids love when we go visit family, they just have to be in the middle of all the action and talk to everyone.

Evie and Grandma-great! She was fascinated by the sparkly star on my Grandma's sweat shirt, which happens to be the same sweat shirt she has worn every Christmas since I can remember. It is it's own tradition.

Lila with Aunt Kristen and Lizzy. As you can see we managed to get her dressed again. I love how festive everyone looks in all the red!

My dad's Christmas Eve party is all about the food, this year we had roast beef, pork loin, and salmon. Killer Mashed Potatoes, Chinese Chicken Salad, and a smorgasbord of other savory and sweet things. My girls were in heaven, they love to eat and nibble. Jake is getting to the age where he was chomping at the bit to start playing with the cousins, so he had to be coerced into sitting still long enough to eat. Evie didn't stop nibbling all night. But she is always quick to share. Here she was offering Brian a slice of her orange.

After dinner and a suitable period of digestion has passed, Santa Claus comes! This is a favorite childhood tradition of mine. Santa comes and brings us Christmas Eve stockings. These were always filled with cheesy Christmas trinkets and dollar store goodies, but such fun. It was a little strange for me this year because that was something my mom always arranged and I ended up being in charge of it. It was weird to be put in the position of having to decide if this was a tradition we wanted to carry on or not. I am glad we did.

Jake was most excited by a wallet to keep all the business cards he collects in.

Lila and Jake opening their stockings. (Evie had staked out a spot on my cousin Cecily's lap and wasn't giving up that much one on one attention to show me anything...)

Lila got two little board books and a new set of blocks. She loves to stack blocks right now. I love that she is at an age that is so easy to please.

Before we left for the night the kids each got to open one present. From my Uncle Kaleb. Who always gives the coolest presents, the neatest, craziest and noisiest toys he can find. This year for Jake it was a set of electric drums. Yes you read that right. Electric DRUMS. Gee, thanks Kaleb. (Actually they are really pretty cool, and Jake loves them. All the kids love them. Okay, they are pretty fun...)

Evie is very into Snow White right now. Her reaction to this gift, "OHHHHH! It's e'sactly what I wanted for Christmas!!!! Hank you Kayub! Hank you so much!!"

And for Lila a baby laptop. (It makes sense, Kaleb does computers for a living.) It has lights and sounds, bright colors, and my personal favorite a little red mouse that moves. Yup, it has a mouse. Too funny. I also noticed 4 or 5 family members playing with it under the guise of helping Lila figure it out. Proof that lights and sounds will attract children of all ages...

Jake practicing his rock and roll poses while waiting for the drums to be taken out of the box and set up.

Lila saw that people were allowed to hit stuff with these sticks and wasn't about to be left out of that kind of fun. And no she didn't spill another cup of water, she was cutting in her top two teeth and drooling like a maniac. I actually got her a bib that said "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!" I wish I had a picture of her wearing it, but Brian was in charge of snapping the photos this year and he doesn't think about blogging when he is taking pictures... oh well.

Did I mention that Kaleb is also a drummer? Makes even more sense now, doesn't it. Here he is giving Jake his first lesson on how to properly hold the drumsticks, because technique is everything when you are driving your mother crazy.

Of course after all this fun we still had the biggest surprise of all waiting for us at home. It was a wonderful Christmas for our whole family.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I don't know if is her age or just her personality but right now Evie is hilarious about 87% of the time. The other 13% of the time I want to toss her out the nearest window because she is severely testing limits. But then I would miss gems like today as she was practicing the new primary songs she learned. She was singing Book of Mormon Stories, only her version went a little something like this.

"Book of Mormon stories that my teacher telled to me, are about all the lemons in ancient history... give me this land, or I'll just leave!"

*snort, giggle, sigh*

Also today there was a tender sister moment when Lila was pitching a fit because I wouldn't let her play with the dirty dishes from lunch. I looked up to see Evie cuddling Lila's head in her lap and stroking her head while saying in a soft and sweet voice, "It's okay. Mommy just gets mad and yells at you sometimes. But it's okay, I am here."

*ouch! dagger to the heart*

Apparently I tend to yell a tad too often. When we picked up my cousin and her family from the airport on Sunday, Evie spent the ride home telling Steven that when she got big she would have her own kids, so she could yell at them! "Because that's what mommies do."

*double ouch! guess we know what one of my new year's resolutions should be...*

Jake is still holding his own in the funny department though. Today when he was doing his homework he brought me a flyer about getting free tickets to watch the U of U gymnastics team at a meet. He asked if we could go and I told him I didn't think that he would really like gymnastics. I meant watching them. But he said, "Oh you're right. 'Cause then I would have to learn to do the splits!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Library confusion

One of my favorite things about Evie going to preschool is being able to sneak off to the library for half an hour with only one child in tow, and actually pick out books for myself. I spent a pleasant 20 minutes perusing the shelves and, impressed with my self-restraint at selecting less than 20 books, went to check them out. For some reason no matter how long or short a time I spend in the library, when I am ready to check out, everyone else is ready at the same time. Plus one of the patrons was arguing over whether or not she had returned a book they said was lost and were making her pay for. Well, long story short, Lila was not thrilled with being restrained in a stationary stroller for that long. While I was trying to entertain her the lady in front of me turned and smiled at her, and then said, "Oh dear, he isn't very happy is he?"

Seriously? He?

I have had people make that mistake when my kids were tiny newborns and dressed neutrally, and it never offended or bothered me. But give me a break.

I like hand-me downs as much as the next person, but who in their right mind is going to put a little boy in a coat like this? Give them a pink binkie? Dress them in overalls embroidered with little flowers? And pink tennis shoes? Plus she was sitting in a purple stroller with pink flowers all over it. Short of making a sign that read, THIS IS A GIRL!, I don't know that you could get much more gender specific.

And don't try to tell me she probably had bad eyesight, she wasn't checking out any large-print books...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Wanna see my bear bum?

(Not what you were expecting?)

Three things I've learned today:

1) If Evie wears these tights to church she will end up asking someone that question.

2) No matter how early we start getting ready, we will inevitably end up being 10 minutes late to church.

3) It is much, much easier to pick up the dirty diaper than to spend the time to photoshop it out of the picture... but go ahead, guess where it was.

Evie became a Sunbeam today. She was so excited to graduate from the Nursery class and go to Primary with her big brother. (Jake told me she kept turning around and waving to him during Sharing Time.) She has been singing "Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam" for 24 straight hours and when we got out of the car at church she told me, "Mom! I am going to be a sunbeam! Because Jesus wants me to..."

(This picture made me chuckle. She isn't upset, she just had something in her eye.)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Evie's strengths will probably not include math...

The other night we were over visiting my dad, and growing bored with a conversation that didn't include her, Evie started to count the decorative brads on the arm of a chair. She was counting quietly to herself, but fortunately there was a lull in conversation that let us catch what she was saying...

"....4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 19.... and that one, and that one, and another one, and that one, and that one!"

We were hysterical by this point, but oblivious to our laughter she stood up and proudly announced, "Hey guys! I counted them!" Grandpa asked her, "And how many were there?" Evie looked confused for a split-second then said, "A lot."

And she was off to find other things to count...

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Four Musketeers

These are my cousins, Sarah, Emilie, (me), and Catherine. We were all born the same year, and through some lucky twist of fate we have ended up being close friends as well as family. We have a long standing (11 years and counting) tradition of spending New Year's Day together. Some years it is the only day we have seen each other. But I am so grateful for this tradition and the relationship I have with these amazing women. I am grateful that each of them has taken the time and effort to invest in staying close through an undeniably busy decade.

10 years ago we were in Disneyland for the Millennium New Year! We were all 20 years old and sure that we were so grown up and ready to take on the world. Including travelling out of state to celebrate with hundreds of thousands of strangers. (Well, it felt like that many.) It was a crazy and fun trip where we spent all day riding every ride and staying up late into every night playing cards and talking, talking, talking.

I am not entirely sure who's brilliant idea it was, but I am fairly certain that it would have been Sarah. Coming up with fun and crazy plans is right up her alley. I know that we actually got there and had someplace to stay because of Catherine. Planning and execution would be her department. Emilie would be in charge of making sure we were all in touch about how we felt about the trip. I was probably the comic relief.

10 years has seen a lot of change. Marriage, moving, schooling, graduations, jobs gotten, jobs lost, birth, death, sickness, health, heartbreak and happiness. And through it all we have been together. Sometimes more together, sometimes less. But even if only once a year we would get together and talk. And talk. We talk a lot. We are very good at it. It's one of my favorite things about our relationship. We can talk about anything and everything, and what starts as a request for house keeping tips could very easily end up in deep, soul bearing discussions about what it means to be the best women we can be.

I love that we are so similar and so different at the same time. I love that we can appreciate each others differences and feel connected through our shared genes and history. I admire and am inspired by each of my cousins for their unique and special attributes.

Sarah is a true people person. She makes everyone around her feel special and interesting, not that she is just making small talk but that she really cares about you and your life. She is a driving force for keeping us connected and always has the great plans for a girl's night or play date with the kids. She is a wonderful mother who takes such joy in teaching and playing with her boys. She makes me want to be more spontaneous and give my children more varied experiences.

Catherine is so smart and driven. She always keeps the conversational ball rolling with interesting topics of discussion. She is the newest mom of us and is so dedicated and loving to her sweet little girl. I think she is also very brave and takes on new life experience with poise and confidence. She makes me want to be better informed and aware of the world outside my front door.

Emilie is so in touch. With her heart and spirit. Talking to her is like having an emotional and mental health check-up. She is very good at helping you to find the words to express how you are feeling and giving you a safe, judgement-free place to express it. She is an amazing mother to four and gives it her all. She is so in tune with each of her children and their needs. She is also quick to sympathize with the failures and frustrations that comes with being the parent of young children. She makes me want to be better at being patient and Christ-like with people, especially my kids.

I love that we start each year renewing these friendships that have been a large part of helping me become the woman that I am today. I love the memories we've made and I look forward to many more years of New Year's Days together.

Happy New Year!

We enjoyed a quiet evening at Pa Dave's. We watched some movies, we played hot dice and when midnight rolled around the kids banged on pots and pans to welcome in the new year. Then Jacob promptly had an emotional break down. My poor tender heart. He and I went into the library to have a quiet moment to talk about what was upsetting him.

Me: What is wrong sweetheart?
Jake (Through the tears): I am just so worried about making a resolution.
Me (Stifling the laughter that insists on welling up during these moments): What? Why?
Jake: I don't really know what a resolution is! *sob, wail, sniffle*
Me: Oh honey. It just means that you decide something you want to do this year and what to do to accomplish that goal.
Jake: Oh. Okay. Well then, I want to learn to be a better golfer.
Me: That sounds like a resolution that Pa Dave would like.
Jake: And I want to try canoeing.
Me: *repressed snort* Well, naturally. Another excellent goal.

This led to an entirely different discussion about how that would most likely be something he would get to do in a year or so when he goes into Cub Scouts. And how he was nervous to go into Cub Scouts. Which led to a discussion about the expression "borrowing trouble". Which ended ultimately with his fear of Brian and I dying and leaving him to face these new experiences alone. (Has anyone written a book about How to Help your Overly Analytical 6 year old Cope with Death and Grief? Because I am feeling entirely inadequate for the job.) Needless to say I was no longer laughing, and we spent quite sometime just holding each other and crying for the pains and fears of this life. But eventually we both calmed down to the point that we could join the rest of the family for the traditional New Year's Eve toast with sparkling cider. Guess what? Lila likes it.

Of course after this we were ready to load up and head home. While Jake was gathering his toys and clothes I was explaining what had taken us so long to talk about. Which left all the grown-ups teared up and smiling. But Jake came back a tad too soon, when he saw me crying again, he was off again. Well, Evie wasn't about to be left out of any emotional display and I soon had two over-wrought children hanging off of me, sobbing for all they were worth. Lila fussed a little, but mostly because I didn't have free arm for her. So that was how we rang in the New Year, sobbing, hysterical, and more then a little overwhelmed. I am thinking it can only go up from here...