Monday, December 21, 2009

You Can Dress Them Up . . .

You can dress them up (especially when they have a Grandma who sews such beautiful dresses!) . . .


. . . but you can't get them to look at the camera . . .


. . . or at least not while smiling :)


I sure love them, though!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Victorian Literature Review

A few weeks ago while reading the newspaper (in the 5 or so minutes that I get to do such things) I noticed that an "Olde Dickens Christmas Tea" would be taking place today at a Heritage House in our area. I told Jason that I really wanted to go, and he said that I could if I got all of my chores done first :)

So . . . we took the kids over and met the Cratchits, as well as Scrooge's parlor maid,


Tiny Tim (who let the kids play with his 19th-century style toys),


Mr. Scrooge himself (the reformed Scrooge who had already seen the ghosts and decided to embrace Christmas),


and a Victorian Father Christmas (Alaina was pretty stunned but not at all upset as he talked and sang to her).


We also saw the Ghost of Christmas Past on our second time through (this was the highlight for Benjamin).

I loved the whole experience! The actors were great and stayed in character as they interacted with the children, etc. Afterwards we had hot chocolate and cookies.

Another small step in furthering my children's interest in Victorian literature (I hope). . . .

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Benjamin (and Janae's) Kindergarten Christmas Concert

Tonight we went to Benjamin's Christmas concert, held at the original "old schoolhouse" on the grounds of his elementary school.


We'd heard Ben practicing all the songs at home, but it was so fun to see him singing with his class. As usual, he sang out--as did Janae, from her seat :)

After the 15-minute concert, several of the children lined up to have their pictures taken with Benjamin's teacher (it reminded me of the line-ups to see Santa, and it was obvious that the children adore her just as much as they do Santa as well).

Janae, who always wants to talk to Ben's teacher before and after school, was eager to join in the fun--so now she's got a picture with her future kindergarten teacher, too :) Luckily Ben doesn't mind having a sister who is so involved!


What nice little school children we have!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Will Work for Toilet Paper


You know your business has hit a low point when your customers start paying you in toilet paper. This actually happened to Jason yesterday.

He did some work for one of our neighbors, and as payment, the neighbor gave Jason two jumbo packs of Charmin.


You're probably thinking that this may be a step up for Jason, who sometimes works for free or even pays people to let him clean up their yards, but I thought it was a bit odd.

It actually reminded me of a time when a professor at BYU tried to pay me for editing his long and very poorly written paper with a stick of gum--I refused the payment, thinking I'd rather work for nothing than for gum (how insulting!).

Of course, we can always use toilet paper.

I'm just not sure how to enter it in the accounting books. . . .

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Our Third Wild-Haired Child

All three of our children have been born with lots of hair . . . so much that it was ALWAYS what people noticed whenever we took them anywhere as babies.

Although we have finally managed to tame Benjamin's wild do (mainly by keeping it very short),


and Janae's locks lie flat now that they're long,


we're not quite sure what to do with Alaina's fluffy, 2-inch high baby mohawk.


My dad constantly reminds me that mine looked exactly the same when I was a baby.

I sometimes try to put in a clip or a bow, but since these seem to cause Alaina pain, I usually just let her sport the mohawk.


You're only a baby once, afterall!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Barbie and I Go Way Back


Several weeks ago Jason and I were talking with some other adults about our children, and it somehow came up that Janae loves to watch Barbie movies. A hush fell over the group as people exchanged disapproving looks and murmured comments about the corrupting influence of Barbie (this might have only been my imagination, but it really seemed to happen!). I felt a little embarrassed, remembering that a few years ago I might have reacted the same way. I justified my decision to expose Janae to Barbie, thinking, "The Barbie of today is not the Barbie of the past" (she presents herself as a professional, encourages young girls to live up to their potential, etc., etc.), but even so, I had to admit that Barbie and I actually go way back. . . .

As a young girl, I loved playing with my Barbies (if you don't believe me, we have some excellent home movie footage to prove it!). I remember going to the toy store and staring at the new Barbies, picking out the ones I wanted. I loved dressing them, combing their hair, having them act out scenerios, setting them up for plays and dances, and even posing them for Barbie family pictures. Because my youngest sister was 5 years younger than I was, I got away with playing Barbies for a long time--well into my teenage years, in fact.

A few years passed, and I went away to university, where I majored in English and was instructed in FEMINISM. Little by little I realized that Barbie was responsible for most of the world's woes. She not only caused low self-esteem and eating disorders, she also promoted materialism, capitalism (and all of its associated evils), and male domination. Yes, Barbie was the enemy--how had I not seen it earlier? I sincerely vowed that if I ever had a daughter (which was becoming increasingly unlikely), I would keep her far away from Barbie, as well as any other pink or plastic thing.

Well, a few more years went by, and I had nieces. They played Barbies, and I had to admit, the urge to play with them was strong. I had been away from the academic world for a while (teaching first-year English courses doesn't really count), and I started to forget how bad Barbie really was. I gave in and played--acting out silly scenarios to make my nieces laugh. I had a great time.

Then one day the girls were singing and dancing to the soundtrack for a Barbie movie, The Princess and the Pauper. I was hooked. Although I only had a son at this point, I picked up a copy of Barbie in The Princess and the Pauper from a Superstore Clearance bin and kept it up on my closet shelf, just in case.

Of course, the rest is history.


I don't think Janae was much more than a year old when I broke out the video and watched it with her. Next it was Barbie in the Nutcracker, Barbie as Rapunzel, and (our newest favorite) Barbie and the Twelve Dancing Princesses. The other day I even found myself singing along to the Princess and the Pauper soundtrack while I was actually alone in the van.

I have to admit, I am nothing less than a Barbie fanatic.

Not in the air-head/plastic surgery/materialistic sense, of course, but I do enjoy the movies (with their music, dancing, and messages like, "Big or small there is a difference only you can make"), and I honestly don't think a little bit of exposure to Barbie is harmful.


So after all these years, Barbie and I have come full circle. But my feminist background has not been completely lost. I am careful to balance Janae's Barbie time with instruction in other areas like alphabet learning and discussion about true beauty coming from within.

Maybe someday she'll even co-author a "defense of Barbie" with me for a feminist academic journal.

When I brought this idea up with Janae, she looked at me very seriously for a few minutes, then said, "Where are my sparkly shoes?"

So, I guess maybe not. . . .

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We Finally Caught One!

Alaina is such a smiley baby, but we've been having a difficult time catching one of her smiles in a picture.

We tried


and tried


and finally we caught one . . .


and then another one!


I love those gummy baby smiles :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Alaina's Turn in the Dress

Yesterday was Alaina's blessing day at church, which meant she got to wear a beautiful (but very slippery!) white dress that had been handed down from her mama, three aunties, six of her girl cousins, and (of course) her sister, Janae.


After a few family photo attempts, first with dad,


then with mom,


we were off to church to officially give Alaina Christina a name and a blessing.


Jason was really nervous, but he did a great job . . . and Alaina was nice and calm through the whole thing.

It is such a blessing to me to have this sweet little daughter, and to have all of my three children--it's all I've ever wanted :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Our Two Sides of Halloween Part I: The Fun Side

We all know that there are two sides to Halloween, but maybe not these two sides:

Our Fun-Filled Halloween

We started Halloween with a party at our local Hall, where Benjamin carved a pumpkin all by himself for the first time (with a kid-friendly knife, don't worry!) and then got to fight with Darth Vadar.


Next we went trick or treating at one of Janae's favorite places, the mall.


We had dinner, lit our jack o lanterns, then Jason took the kids to a few houses at our complex before heading off for some serious trick or treating with Benjamin.


Ben was pretty happy with his haul and spent the rest of the evening playing with it.


But there's another side to the story. . . .

Our Two Sides of Halloween Part II: The Flu Side

Candy isn't the only reason Benjamin looks the happiest in all of our Halloween pictures this year--the rest of us had the flu!

Our Flu-Filled Halloween

Janae had been sick most of the week, and her coughs, sneezes and sniffles continued on through Halloween.

She was pretty miserable at the party, perked up a little for the mall, and then tried to make an effort to trick or treat in the evening.

Does this look like a happy princess?


She came home after only a few houses . . .


. . . and ate some treats on the couch while watching Beauty and the Beast.


When I took her upstairs for bed she was asleep within 10 minutes.

I think she's ready for the next big holiday, though :)


Friday, October 30, 2009

Let's Not Get Too Crazy

When we enrolled Benjamin in a traditional elementary school, I definitely had a few concerns. Would the school be too rigid? Would young Benjamin have any fun there?

Well, the school's approach to Halloween has confirmed a few of my doubts.

While not allowed to go to school in their costumes, the children were allowed to wear orange and black today. The guidelines emphasized that the children were not permitted to wear jeans, and added that if students did not have anything orange and/or black, they were to come to school in their regular uniforms.

I thought this was a bit odd. For example, what kinds of non-jean pants come in orange or black? I concluded that the children would have to wear either black or orange dress pants or cords. Since Ben doesn't own any of these, I thought I'd send him to school in his blue uniform pants and one of his orange T-shirts.

When I suggested this to Ben, he had a troubled look. He said he wouldn't be able to wear any of his orange T-shirts because they all had other colors on them, too.


Then I thought, maybe his orange vest? The only other colors on it were white and navy, which the kids wear anyway as part of their uniforms, and he usually wears a sweater vest to school. Surely this couldn't be too crazy for even a traditional school.


Benjamin was sure that this wouldn't do. He explained that they could only wear something that was plain orange or plain black.

We didn't have a chance to go to the mall to look for something plain black or orange, and I couldn't find anything suitable while doing our regular shopping . . . so I asked Benjamin what he wanted to wear to school. He said, "I want to wear my uniform."

What has this school done to my Benjamin?


I was tempted to just send him to school in his pirate costume to see what would happen, but in the end he just wore some orange and blue socks--socks are not covered in the dress code (as far as I know).


I wondered what the other kids would be wearing when we got to school, but sure enough, most of them were wearing their uniforms. A few had on black dress pants with plain orange T-shirts. One little boy went so far as to sport an orange polo shirt with his black dress pants, and another was wearing an orange turban with a black jacket and orange pants.

As we drove past the fine arts elementary school on our way home I saw a little Darth Vadar chasing a bride, three princesses swinging from the monkey bars, and several jungle animals playing out on the field.

I wondered if we'd chosen the right school.

I guess it's a good thing Halloween only comes once a year.


Later in the day. . . .

I have to add that things turned out a little better than I'd thought. When I picked Benjamin up from school I learned that they'd played Halloween games in the gym all afternoon (Pumpkin Olympics), their teacher gave them Halloween goodie bags, and I noticed some of the older kids coming out were wearing T-shirts with designs on them! I guess Ben got to have some fun after all :)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Benjamin Had a Halloween Party . . .

As most of you know, Benjamin loves Halloween more than any other time of year. He loves the candy, the costumes, and all the spooky stuff. This year Ben asked if he could have a Halloween party--just with Grandma and Grandpa and a few local cousins. And before I could say NO (we have a newborn baby, after all), Daddy (who also loves Halloween) said YES.

So we planned, decorated, shopped, and prepared--all in 10-minute segments while Alaina slept . . . until yesterday when I had to do all the rest of the preparations at a frantic pace while Alaina screamed in her bouncy seat, bassinet, snuggly, car seat, etc.


By the time the party was to begin, the house still hadn't been cleaned, the kids had all been neglected, and I was pretty frazzled.

Luckily Mom and Dad came a little early, and Mom held Alaina and got her to sleep.


When Ben's cousins arrived, he taught them how to play a game called "Pumpkin Patch," which he was very proud to have learned at kindergarten. Then we played "Pass the Rat," which Rebecca won, and had some snacks.


We finished off by doing some Halloween crafts (a few of us, anyway) and eating ghost-topped mud pie (this is becoming a Halloween tradition at our house!).


And by midnight I had it all washed, vacuumed, and tidied up (actually it was only 10:30, but I thought midnight sounded more Halloweenish!).

When I asked Ben what his favorite thing about the party was, he said, "It was when we got to drink POP!" (Poor little deprived guy!)

My favorite part was that Alaina was so tired from the festivities that she slept an almost 9-hour stretch in her crib during the night!

And now there's just one more week until the big day. . . .

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Insights into The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe


Last night I was downstairs, nursing Alaina, listening to Jason going back and forth between Benjamin and Janae upstairs--while they giggled, cried, and just generally refused to go to sleep. I wanted to help, but there was not much I could do while pinned to the rocking chair.

The thought crossed my mind: "I have so many children I don't know what to do."

This, of course, got me thinking about the old woman who lived in a shoe, and I started to wonder how many children she actually had.


I decided it might have been only three, despite what the illustrations in children's nursery rhyme books portray.

And by "old woman" we could certainly be talking about someone in her late 30s.


I still haven't figured out the shoe part, though (small townhouse could fit but it seems like a bit of a loose connection . . .).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Looking for Tights (Apparently in All the Wrong Places)

Over the past couple of months I've been to every store in at least a 30-mile radius that sells children's clothing and accessories--from Walmart to our local mall, from malls in nearby cities to specialty children's boutiques--in search of one item: tights. All of these stores, of course, carry tights, but not one of them sells tights small enough for a newborn baby girl.

My other children were both born in the spring, when the weather was getting warmer and the need for tights was very small (especially in Ben's case). I was a little frustrated trying to find something to cover Janae's tiny legs, but I abandoned my quest as the summer months arrived.

Alaina could get away with bare legs during her first couple of weeks.


However, when I tried taking her out without tights a few weeks ago, I had to endure the disapproving looks (and--in some cases--even comments) of others, especially some of the older, grandmotherly types (not either of her actual grandmothers, of course) who always think babies are underdressed, being held the wrong way, or otherwise improperly parented.

So even though I'm not sleeping at night, I have piles of clutter all over the house to organize and put away, my toddler needs to be re-potty trained, and my son hates shopping, I am on an endless search for small tights.

Sometimes I call ahead to a store, asking if they sell newborn tights. I am always told that yes, they do carry such an item . . . and then when I arrive I see that the tights are almost long enough to fit Janae (or, in some cases, Ben).

Sometimes I buy them anyway (sleep deprivation does interesting things to a person's judgement), spending anywhere from $1.50 to $17.00 on a single pair. Other times I simply carry on to the next destination.

I have to say, though, that Alaina is aquiring quite a collection that should get her through the later months of winter (wishful thinking, I know--they'll probably not fit her until the middle of July!).


I did find a multi-colored polka dot pair that fit pretty well, but there are limits to what one can wear with polka dots, even at 6 weeks of age. I've already had her wear them with plaid, which I know is pushing it.


Anyway, I'm sure Alaina and I will get through it okay . . . I just wonder--where do all the other moms find them??

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Look What We Found in the Pumpkin Patch!

Another Thanksgiving, another trip to the pumpkin patch. But we found some pretty nice ones this year:

A little boy pumpkin,


a little girl pumpkin,


and a baby pumpkin :)


I finally have a picture of me with all three kids, too--I look a bit tired, though, don't I?


We hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving!