Thursday, December 18, 2008
After hustling around to eight employee Christmas parties, (well, it was a lot, I don't know exactly how many) and rounding up "ten dollar limit" gifts for people I've never met, it's almost time to really celebrate the season. And that means wrapping the little tongue depressor man that Alli made for her Dad in a ridiculously over sized box with the tacky store bows I swore off when I was prideful and living outside our means...
But I love homemade Christmas presents. I think they're awesome and deserve the pomp and circumstance of a good wrapping job. Who needs another gift card, anyway?
My Mom's also been helping us get into the Christmas spirit this year with some new coats for Alli and Maddie. Maddie likes to wear hers all day Sunday, and she won't take it off even to play in the nursery. Whenever she has it on she struts around like she's ten feet tall, when in fact she's smaller than everyone. It gives her a little attitude, which is really funny.
We've done our shopping and planned our holiday meals. Now it's time to light up those high voltage bulbs on the front of our house and turn on the Christmas train. Before long we'll be sipping cranberry cider and eating cinnamon rolls to the pleasant sound of paper tearing and kids screaming--it's almost Christmas!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Maddie, on the other hand, was entirely unaware of what was coming. We practiced saying "chich-a-cheet" a few times before we left, but otherwise she was completley unprepared. Once we got to the first door, however, all that changed. She got wind of candy involvement, and her little hand was urgently smacking our neighbor's door with that flat handed high five knock that toddlers use. As soon as the door opened, she yelled, "chich-a-cheet" and made for the candy. She's a very shy little girl, but not when it comes to candy, I guess. I was surprised to see her approach a strange doorstep, much less interact with another person.
Maddie was so enthralled with Halloween, that I couldn't even get her to smile for a single picture. She was too busy working the street. Here she is with a look of determination on her face:
The day after Halloween we were able to take Alli and Maddie around to visit all the Grandparents who didn't get to see the costumes the day before. They looked great this year, I must say, and thanks again to my sister-in-law Alicia who let us borrow her awesome costumes. We visited Ty's mom in the hospital, who is doing much better this week after losing consciousness last week from diabetic related issues. Hopefully we didn't wreak too much havoc while there, but at least the girls got to see Grandma looking more like herself.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
We had our ward Halloween party last night, and I took a few pictures of the girls in their Halloween costumes. Alli decided last week that she wanted to be a witch, based on a song she sang in school called "I'm a little fat witch, my name is rose" sung to the tune of "I'm a little teapot." My sister in law, Alicia, let me borrow these costumes that her girls wore two years ago for Halloween. She added a lot of the pizazz herself, so they are quite fun.
"Hello?" "Oh, Hi"
After a few exchanges like this, the person on the other end would feign a technology malfunction and hang up in frustration.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
In reality, Ty and I have not been great at taking pictures to document the fun things we've done as a family. It seems like the camera always has a dead battery, or gets left at home- like on our honeymoon in Maui...that still irks me. But on this particular day, I was prepared. I charged the battery, put the camera in my purse the night before, and spent time doing both my girls' hair before we left.
It was quite a lot of work, actually. Alli hates having her hair touched, even to brush it, and I had to endure several stages of a temper tantrum just to get her to put her hair in pigtails so she could decide later to just wear a hat.
And I've decided something. When you do all of that work, the entire experience is about stopping to take another picture. That was the day. It was lots of fun, but I think it would have been even more fun without the camera and with disheveled hair. Sure, people might give each other disgusted looks at the macaroni scum sticking to my kid's faces and hair, and we wouldn't look like the fairy tale family that we totally are when stopped in front of the tea parlor by old work acquaintances, but then I ask myself, "Do I really care?"
It's hard to make this one act seriously, but at least this isn't one of the many where her upper lip is sticking out.
And that's my pretty girl.
I hope those of you who know who you are, are now satisfied. (And keep on doing a great job preaching the good word.)
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Here is the tomato box, which held way too many plants for the space. (Like I said, my expectations were initially low.) I have pulled boxes and boxes of tomatoes off these plants, and each one brings me unadulterated joy. This year, the foods of summer came straight from my own backyard. Bruschetta. Panzanella. Tomato Caprese. It seems like you can never have enough of Mozzarella cheese, vine ripened tomatoes and basil during the summer months.
This is a Caprese I made the other night. You layer the tomato, mozz, and basil, and then sprinkle liberally with Salt, Pepper, and EVOO. If you have a penchant for balsamic vinegar, which I really do, then sprinkle some on top. If you're more in the mood for bread, chop all of this up with some artisan bread, cubed, and let it marinate for about 30 minutes for a quick Panzanella. Sometimes it's the crunch I'm after, and I make bruschetta instead, so I can toast the bread and eat it that way. In any form, you really can't go wrong. Well, as long as there's Balsamic vinegar somewhere in the mix.
I was so taken with my ability to produce food, that I even canned some tomatoes, so as not to see them go to waste. That is not a process that I relish, but it's still fun to have the sauce. It reminds me of, yes, my garden, and how much I still love it.
Then there were the peppers that were supposed to be red, and the snap peas that blew out of the garden and replanted themselves inbetween the boxes in three seperate locations...Those plants actually produced more peas than the one in the box. Maddie, it turns out, will eat next to nothing, but loves peas from the garden. Occasionally I found the odd tomato lying on the ground with two little rows of teeth marks, but she didn't catch on to the taste of tomatoes. Oh how I love to garden.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Summer is officially over, and our thoughts begin turning towards indoor mayhem to replace the wet and otherwise dirty escapades of past months. Last week we re-enacted the bear hunt that I remember from childhood. I printed some pictures of bears off the computer and hid them sereptitiously in the bathroom "cave." Then I prepared my build up speech. Flashlight in hand, I approached Alli with one simple directive: "Do you want to go on a bear hunt?"
We sat down in the playroom and sang the song, only I changed the locations to places in our house. So instead of wading through the cornfield, we "came to a table" and so on and so forth. Then we set out on our trek. After crawling under the dining room table and climbing up and over the couch, I asked Alli if she saw any bears. She took on her matter of fact tone and said, "No Mom. There aren't any bears. And there aren't going to be any bears in the cave either."
Maybe she hadn't yet heard of a little thing called Mom Magic, but she would soon learn. We ended up in the bathroom, in the dark, with our flashlight lit. When she discovered the first bear taped to the sink faucet, she nearly went into hysterics. Then we spent the next hour finding bears with our flashlight. After the third time, I made her hide them, and the game became self perpetuating.
On another long afternoon, we decided to make "crayon glitter." I rounded up all the old crayon stubbs and we chopped them and melted them in the oven. Alli got really nervous when I started chopping the pink and purple crayons, but she caught the vision once she got her hands on some of the confetti colored fun.
As a side note, both of these ideas originated from my friend Ashley, who is a great mom. I hope I can be like her when I grow up.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Once there was a girl. One day she met a boy. He was funny, and he fixed her car...You see, it all began at a little restaurant in Provo called Wrapsody. After teaching her to warm tortillas and ladle salsa, he...left on his mission for two years, and left her all alone. She was sad, but muddled through somehow. When he came home, girl and boy decided to get married as soon as possible, and the rest is history.
On September 20th we celebrated our 6th anniversary at The Roof in Salt Lake City. Ever since we were first married, we've hidden a certain duck, recently dubbed "beaker," in places around the house such as the refridgerater or dryer for the other person to find. It's been a semi-ongoing joke, but the duck hasn't seen much action lately. Until yesterday. Last week I mailed the duck and a card to my friend Konnie who lives in Salt Lake, so she could take it over to the restaurant. When we walked up to our table, there was the duck. It was really funny, and then we got to spend the night looking out at the rooftop of the temple while eating yummy food. It was a great night.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Today, Maddie will wake up and yell for someone to come get her out of her crib. I will sneak in and say "Boo," and then she will run excitedly from one side of the crib to the other until collapsing and hiding her eyes to tease me. Then we will go into Alli's room and crawl under her blanket with her. Alli will want to know what fun things we will do today, and I will try to think of some.
Then we will eat some toast, (not the crusts), for breakfast and begin the marathon "getting ready" procedure. Alli will make her bed and clean up her room while I make the other beds and take a shower. At some point, Alli will ask if she can watch cartoons.
If you let Alli watch cartoons, she will want to know all of the shows recorded on the DVR, so she can make her decision. If she decides to watch "signing time," she'll ask if that means she can play on the internet later in the day. Once she watches her cartoon, she'll want to play outside or ask her friend Elaina to come over and play. If Elaina comes to play, I will get a break and shout "hooray!" If I get a break, I'll get some laundry folded in the afternoon and have dinner ready early. If not, I'll watch Oprah and forget the rest.
But Alli won't watch cartoons today. She's going to pre-shool, so she won't have time. Instead, she will hurry and get ready so we aren't late. After I pick her up from pre-shool, we'll have lunch. Maddie won't eat more than two bites of food because she's a stinker, and Alli will have a peanut butter and honey sandwich. After lunch, Maddie will sit in her bed and say "ya-ya-ya" for an hour until I give up on nap and go get her. At dinner, she will barely be able to keep her head up in her highchair.
After dinner, Ty will suggest that we go on a walk and we'll all go. Alli will ride her bike and Maddie will ride in her stroller. Ty and I will look at our neighbors lawns and talk about grand landscaping schemes that we will never be able to afford in the near future while Alli yells at us for getting too far ahead of her. She will insist on being first during the whole walk and ride slowly or not at all most of the time to ensure that she's never actually first. Then we'll go through the Tippet's "car wash" sprinklers and Maddie will giggle as the water splashes her. Before turning homeward, we'll stop to pet the Couchman's horse. Maddie will get very excited about this and make "neighing" sounds. After baths, Alli and Maddie will both go to sleep peacefully.
Some things never change, right? Like mother, like daughter. You could describe Alli as, "sweet," "playful," "kind," or "ready to please." You could also take a good look at reality and describe Alli as "willful." I believe that's the psycho-analytical term for it. This makes for a very exciting mix of emotions in our household. One minute Alli is singing joyfully as she runs circles around the kitchen island and the next she's slamming her bedroom door and refusing to come out because she didn't get to decide who said the prayer.
Many kids with her personality get the "children should be seen and not heard" lecture over and over and the persistent "sit still" advice till the moment their tired eyes finally close as night.
While Alli certainly requires extra energy, I think it's important to remember that the very qualities that extract punishment in childhood are the same ones that achieve accolades in adulthood. Leadership, for example. Persistence in the face of futility. Stubborness, even, is the mark of a fine moralist. I hope with every once of my own overactive willpower that Alli will be this kind of adult, and I'm proud to be her mom-even today.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
With all the hoopla about crazy gas prices and economic doom and gloom, I've decided to take some action. I've always been a worried shopper. It's like that "best price" log is somehow embedded in my brain against my will. I'll run into Albertson's to grab some Mayonnaise and think "It's on sale for $4.49? That's ridiculous! It was only $2.36 at Wal-Mart when I bought it there like 8 months ago." Then it's literally painful for me to purchase it, and odds are I won't, and we'll have no mayo for a week until I can get to Wal-Mart and fight my way up to a checkout stand with two whining kids. So I'm not taking it any more. I'm ready for something to go my way, and for 5 months now I've been cutting coupons. But before you jump to any rash conclusions about what this means about me personally or even philosophically, let me explain.
My friend's neighbor runs one of those coupon websites, and 6 months ago she took me down to her basement to see her personal grocery store. I say store because she has aisles down there. You can walk up and down them. Whenever she wants, she can traipse downstairs and pick out just about anything you would ever need to sustain life or keep it clean.
The first thing she said when we walked in was, "Pick anything in here, and I'll tell you how much I paid for it." And so began my interrogation:
"How much for these Lucky Charms?"
"And the Herbal Essence?"
"What about the Pasta Roni?"
"Are you insane?"
I really think that's the first thing crossing anyone's mind when they come across a couponer. Seriously, "Are you obsessed? OCD?" Or worse: "Are you...cheap?" My new coupon friend passed her legacy of irritated cashiers on to me, and now I'm the one walking out of Albertson's with 6 boxes of Dora Band-aids for free. Just experiment upon the word my friends. And the cashiers get over it. They're happy if you're happy and don't yell at them when the computer doesn't scan correctly (which is every time).
Ty's favorite sale was the Powerade deal where I bought 6 Powerades and Wal-Mart gave methree dollars to take them out of the store. He liked it because he got to drink Powerade at home for once. I liked it because it was free.
Now I can walk through my own cold storage and tell you exactly how much every single thing in there cost. It's like a game to see how low you can really go. It turns out that coupons are fun to me and that my "best price" log is useful for once. I'll even get up early if I have to, which is a really big surprise to everyone.
We met at the base of the temple, where more and more family members slowly joined our group that finally congregated under the "New Missionaries Enter Here" sign, like Nephi meeting Lehi under the branches of the Tree of Life. We quietly filed into a large room: grandparents, mothers, fathers, children, and missionaries, all united in one purpose as we sat and wept together, reminiscing over the "good old days" and the changes to come. Then Ryan went in one door, and we filed out another. It was like Judgment Day, except that I'm not sure which door led to freedom.
Nevertheless, we're so excited to have two missionaries serving in our family right now. Mimi, in the Washington DC mission, and Ryan heading to Melbourne Australia in October to teach the gospel in Mandarin.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
It started out innocently enough. Alli was bugging Maddie like she's prone to do, poking her, hitting her over the head with stuff, blocking her way so she can't get by. The usual. But this time it was different. Maybe it was the amazing three hour nap Maddie had just taken, or maybe it was nothing more than the planets in alignment, but this time there was a subtle difference that changed everything: she laughed. Alli poked her again and there it was, as fresh as the diaper wrapped haphazardly around her skinny little bum: another giggle. As far as I can tell, that did it, and now they are bosom buddies. (As a side-bar, I so cannot wait for Alli to read Anne of Green Gables and start using phrases like bosom friends.)
There is a law irrevocably decreed that when it is hot and you are in the company of your very best sister, as Alli now saw she was, you must find water. I was actually on my way outside to drain the kiddie pool from earlier in the day, when Alli discovered this glorious boon. Before I knew what was happening, Alli was down to her underwear, clothes strewn across the lawn in a haphazard trail, with Maddie fast on her heels. Even though she can't talk, Maddie made it very clear that she wanted in that pool, and so I did the only thing I could. I stripped her down as well and put her in the pool where her diaper soon ballooned to the bursting point. There was no time to go in and get the swim diaper, you see. Then I did the next most obvious thing. I took pictures.
The rest of the week has been the same story. They play, they laugh, and I relax. Life is good.
Alli has been so tired from all the play, that she falls asleep on cue. I took this picture at around 11:00 pm earlier this week. Her teddy bear Veronica is holding Alli's sippy cup, two things she can't go to bed without, and there are two additions. The barbie dolls are lined up next to her head in a neat lineup, and all are sleeping peacefully. I don't know how she fell asleep like that.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
My parents live across the street from the new draper temple that is under construction. On Tuesday, we went up to watch the workers hoist the angel Moroni up to his post atop the steeple. On the ground, that guy is huge! There were a couple hundred onlookers, and it was like waiting in line at the Eiffel Tower for your photo op. We managed to sneak in and take this photo. The crane lifted him up with a bunch of cords attached to the bottom, and then some men in a cherry picker pulled the cords until he was positioned over the pole on the steeple. They spent about ten minutes turning him this way and that once he was secured, I'm guessing with a compass in hand, so he pointed East. The whole thing took about 15 minutes once they got started.
I was inspired by my friend Ashley's blog and got a little creative with summer downtime last week. I am shamelessly copying her post, but we tend to do that. Cut our hair the same, have our ovaries removed while pregnant... that sort of thing. Hopefully she won't mind. The game started out innocently enough as a "let's make pretty colors," quick sale, but I tend to overdo things sometimes,and eventually I created the "let's make a color wheel game." First we guessed what would happen if we put two colors in the same cup, and then I arranged them in a color wheel to show Alli the color progression from primary to secondary colors. Looking back, I guess it got a little out of hand...
Another game we like to play is tea party. Finding a cute adult sized tea set is actually on my want list. In the meantime, I make do with Alli's. It's really hard to get enough food on those little plates, although we've tried everything from brownies to pretzels to the timeless childhood standby-- grapes. In the teapot? Lemonade, of course.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Anyway, she said, "Dear Chonchy. I don't like you. Signed Leurkler." Poor Leurkler. He always get the short end of it. Whenever Alli asks another one of her endless questions, Ty will say "I don't know. Why don't you ask Leurkler."
In Richmond, while we were having lunch with my friend Keely, Alli said to her: "You're a silly ho-ho." Luckily for me, Keely isn't actually from Virginia (see my last post), so she wasn't offended but amused. Later Alli explained to me very patiently that Ho-ho is the name of the monkey on Ni Hao Kai Lan, a show about a little Chinese girl. Oh, it's all coming back to me now.
Lately Madie has been getting in on the fun as well. She doesn't say many words, but she has two all purpose sounds. The first is "dis" she repeats it over and over until you get what she wants. The other sound she makes is "burf," which means: "I"m really mad at you." When she says "burf" or "buf" in sequence she's downright ticked. It comes underscored with a whine, so it's not hard to understand.
The language of childhood is the mother of invention, and I hope they never lose the creativity they have right now.
My parents, brother, and my little clan headed east last week for a last hurrah before Ryan goes on his mission to Australia, (mandarin speaking). I use the word "hurrah" because we stayed in historic Williamsburg and all the actors kept saying that. I'm not really sure what it is supposed to mean, but it's helping me get in the right frame of mind to write my story here.
Williamsburg is a "living history" experience where you can tour a lot of restored colonial buildings and talk to the people in costume about life during the Revolution. It's sort of like a theme park for seniors. There were a lot of seniors there, despite the fact that the street is a mile long and not easy on the feet. There were also a lot of other types there, but the seniors are the ones that stood out the most.
Senior Specimen number one had a room next door to ours. On the first morning, after going to bed at 8:30 for fear of waking Madie up in her port-o-crib, we were met in the hallway by this lovely 74 year old lady.
"Let's call a truce," she said, looking at us sternly. "I just had heart surgery, and I need my rest." Are we at war? we asked ourselves. We soon understood that a continual door slamming was the cause of her restless night, and she assumed that we let our children run loose in the hotel slamming doors until wee hours of the night. I assured her that this was not the case. We were in bed, like I said.
"Did you hear the baby cry?" I asked, since Madie woke us up at 4:00 am. to my utter horror.
"Oh, yes, I certainly did," she attested, although I really don't think she did. Baby crying is way more annoying than door slamming, so that would definitely make up my opening argument if I were the truce caller, which I wasn't. I was the berated mother.
She didn't bother us after that, although she did corner the maid with a barrage of other room numbers that needed severe discipline in the children department. Oh, we love those elderly tantrums. It's sort of endearing when you reach a certain age. Ty says I haven't reached it yet.
Senior Specimen number two was the gentleman at the spa. We had severe issues getting Madie to go to sleep, and the two hour time change didn't help. The best idea we had all week was to take the kids down to the hot tub right before bed to mellow them out. The pool area closed at 9:00, which was just perfect.
On our way out of the pool, the man says, "Isn't it past your bedtime, little lady?" to Alli, in that annoying judgmental way that still sounds upbeat to the untrained ear.
"Not in Utah it isn't," I told him without even breaking stride.
So things are different in Virginia. Even with the wonderful scenery and easy going weather, they tend to have a stricter standard of proper behavior. I guess there are benefits to living in Utah where children are accepted and not just tolerated. I asked one waitress for a baby sling and she looked at me like I was crazy. That was the same restaurant, by the way, where Ryan found the bumper sticker "Your body may be a temple, but mine is an amusement park." Funny.
I wouldn't even have cared about the slams to my motherly judgment if not for one small cup of ice.
On the plane to Richmond, Madie knocked over an empty airline cup and spilled ice and a little water on the woman's feet sitting behind us. After swearing under her breath for ten minutes of the flight, she finally said, "there's something dripping back here." I couldn't help it, and I think I giggled a little. It was kind of humorous.
We told her it was just water and we were sorry. End of story?
As I was waiting for my stroller at the plane door, the woman exited the plane and muttered: "I can't stand all these idiots who bring their kids on planes. Completely ridiculous." Well, welcome to Virginia to you too!
For these reasons, and other cantankerous Madie moments throughout the trip, I am declaring that one year olds should be put under house arrest. They are not yet fit for the public eye.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
You would think that the incident ended there, due to the age of the participants and the obvious lack of 4 year old social capitol. They don't exactly have the capacity to understand complex relationship dynamics. Or do they?
A few weeks later, Alli and I were playing dolls in the playroom. She stopped playing and said to me, in all seriousness: "I will never forget the night when I was disgraced by Nathan." After collecting myself, I tried to reassure her that Nathan was just "silly" that night.
She wasn't buying it. "He doesn't like me," she said, like the world was about to stop mid-rotation.
"That's not true. The next time you play, I'm sure everything will be fine," I said, wondering if I was dreaming in teenage land and needed to wake myself up.
Then came the funniest sentence Alli has ever uttered. It was: "But if he sees Livi, he'll feel a special attraction to her, and he won't know that I'm special."
I told her that I thought she was special, and she said, "Thanks, mom, that makes me feel happy."
So there you have it. My four year old is an old soul.