Thursday, December 30, 2010

Just Enough Snow. . .

Before winter started, we heard that this was going to be a year for snow.

Well, yesterday we got a little bit. It was just enough to take a wintery picture

 


leave a few footprints,

 


make a snowball (well, almost!),

 


and get a little chilly.

 


It was definitely enough to convince us that we NEED MORE SNOW!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Magic

Christmas from a parent's point of view is so different from how it was from a child's. Being the one who makes everything happen seems to eliminate the "magical" component--at least for me.

But now that all of my little ones are asleep in their beds, I am starting to feel that we really did experience some Christmas magic.

We had stories from Grandpa . . . and Grandma's turkey dinner (not to mention Eggnog trifle--which I suspect may be the best dessert ever),

 


lots of laughs with the cousins,

 


new PJs all around,

 


everything we asked Santa for, including BOBA FETT's SHIP



and a BELLE DRESS!!!

 


Alaina was happy with good books to read



and new babies to hold.



Of course, her favorite toy of all was--no, not a box--but a plastic cup from the cupboard, into which she sang "Silent Night" repeatedly throughout the morning :)



I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say my kids got a sleigh full of presents (that will keep them busy playing for a long, long time) . . .



or to conclude that the magic of Christmas lives on in our little family :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Superstitious?

 


A couple of years ago, I wrote about what might be called Jason and my "anniversary curse"--where something always goes wrong to spoil our anniversary date. We never know how the curse will manifest itself--it has come as everything from being diagnosed with gestational diabetes to choosing the wrong restaurant.

Last year we had our newborn Alaina with us, and she had a diaper explosion down Jason's shirt; the year before I found a hair in my dinner--you get the picture (See "Happy Anniversary? Let's Hope So," Dec. 16/08 for full details!).

This year, however, we celebrated our anniversary--our 8th--without incident.

 


I know what you're probably thinking: one of us must have broken a mirror on our wedding day, and our seven years of bad luck are now over.

I know this would be the most obvious explanation. BUT, today I realized that Jason and I actually celebrated our anniversary a day early, since December 19th fell on a Sunday.

Today has seemed pretty uneventful, too, but you never know . . . it's still only 6:00!

 


And yes, I had to crop the kids out of all the pictures to have some of me and Jason . . . maybe next year we should celebrate our anniversary with a photo shoot--plenty of ways THAT could go wrong!!

Not that I'm superstitious :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Getting Ready



Friday was Ben's last day of school before Christmas, so now we are REALLY getting ready!

Alaina has been walking around singing "Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright." She sings the first two phrases in a really low voice then goes into a super high pitch for the "all is calm, all is bright." She wakes up in the morning singing, and even tries to sing while drinking her milk :)

 


One of the songs Benjamin sang with his class at the school Christmas concert was called "Old Toy Trains." I guess this inspired Ben, because this afternoon he got out his old wooden railway (which he has been "too old" to play with for quite some time now) and built an amazing track, all around the Christmas tree! He is calling it the Polar Express :) I love to see him playing with his trains.

 


Earlier this week I saw a picture in a magazine of chocolate chip cookies dipped in chocolate, and Janae and I decided to try it out. I think these might be good enough to leave out for Santa!

 


Janae has also developed a bit of a nutcracker obsession this year. She loves watching Barbie in the Nutcracker (I have to admit, it is one of my favorites, too!), and we also saw a Children's Theater live production of The Nutcracker earlier this month. Now Janae is trying to dress up like a nutcracker!

 


What would life be like without my kids and their obsessions? :)

I think it's safe to say we are almost ready . . . and there's less than a week to go!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Surely Not the REAL Santa

 


Benjamin and Janae are getting to the age where they are starting to realize that not everyone who wears a Santa suit is actually Santa. These days it is not uncommon for them to say something like, "I don't think that is the real Santa because I saw the string holding his beard on." They are getting pretty good at identifying impostors.

Well, last night we had our housing complex's annual Christmas party, where "Santa" always makes an appearance. For the past few years, Jason has played the part of Santa--so Benjamin and Janae have known they were dealing with Daddy, rather than the real Saint Nick (the square belly might have also tipped them off--Jason never had much luck with using pillows as padding!).



This year, though, Jason refused to put on the sweaty red suit and fake beard--so we weren't sure who would be playing Santa . . . or if it would be the real Santa visiting our hall.

The so-called Santa who arrived seemed pretty authentic, but it was actually Alaina who was not convinced.

 


Sill, Janae ran up to him screaming, "I'm getting a Belle dress!!!!" (the only thing she's asked for this Christmas, so I guess she was sure Santa had brought it).

 


When Janae opened her gift, though, we were 100 percent sure that this had not been the real Santa.

 


She got a coffee maker!

She, Alaina, and even Benjamin have been having a great time making coffee (I've tried to pass it off as a hot chocolate maker, but it's a bit difficult, since they know how hot chocolate is made!).

I can't help but wonder what real Santa would bring a Mormon girl a coffee maker?

I guess Alaina was right after all :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

An Unfortunate Incident OR Great Idea for a Stocking Stuffer

When my sister Anita came to visit this summer, she brought me two novels to read: The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

As difficult as it may be to believe, I have trouble reading novels when I have a child under a year old--so I didn't have too high of hopes for getting through these books . . . at least not until Alaina was sleeping better.

One day, though, I thought I'd try reading while holding Alaina--and a week later I was through the first book. Another week passed, and I'd finished the second book! I then had Jason read both books (always need someone to talk to about the books!), which he also did in just over two weeks.

The third novel in the series, Mockingjay, had just come out in hardcover, so I requested if from the library. There were 42 holds on the book, so I estimated it would take about three months for our turn to come.

A few days ago, Jason asked about the status of our request, and when I looked it up, I found we were down to #3 of 38 holds. Good news, right?

Well, today I got the email saying our material had arrived . . . but when I read more closely I saw I had accidentally requested the sound recording, rather than the novel.

NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

When do we have time to listen to a non-child-friendly book? We just don't.

So I thought I'd better try again. When I made my request, I saw that we were #58 of 58 holds on the book.

At this point I have only one more thought on the matter:

STOCKING STUFFER.


 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Girl Who Won't Wear Clothes . . .

finally put some on!

Janae does not like wearing warm clothes--she especially despises long-sleeved shirts and pants of any kind.

This week we have had arctic wind warnings and double-digit below-zero temperatures, but still Janae has insisted on wearing things like this:

 


(notice the fire and Christmas decorations in the background!).

Of course I make her wear a coat and pants when we go out in public, but as soon as she gets home she is back into a little princess dress or fairy costume.

Today, however, we woke up to a yard full of snow, and Janae put on warm clothes by choice!

 


And if Janae does something, we know Alaina will do it, too :)

 


They had such a great time outside . . .

 


. . . we can hardly wait to see what happens when Ben comes home from school and joins in the fun!

Anyway, even though Janae was obviously made for a warmer climate (she is planning to live in Hawaii when she grows up and often talks about it!), it is nice to know that when she is in Canada she will do as the Canadians do, at least once in a while :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Anti-Materialism Campaign Gone Wrong

 


Several weeks ago now, I decided to protest our culture's focus on materialism by not spending money--or even going into a store--for two weeks.

This idea didn't come out of the blue, of course. When I was a student at BYU, I took a course on literary critical theory that was taught by a man who could only be described as a postmodern Marxist feminist. He was also very charismatic and thorough in his teaching--so much so that the students who left his class could only be described as junior postmodern Marxist feminists. I was no exception. I finished graduate school full of contempt for capitalism and anything remotely related.

Fast forward to . . . well, I won't say how many years later. I am married to a business owner (I have been known to argue, however, that Jason's company should be listed as a non-profit, charitable organization) and have three children who are OBSESSED with material things.




I worry about Ben and his desire to own anything he sees that carries the Star Wars logo,

 



Janae with all her glam,

 


and Alaina with her growing fascination with technology (do you know another one year old who lights up like this when she sees a BlackBerry?).

 



Sometimes I feel responsible for my children's lack of social moral consciousness, and thus my anti-materialism campaign was born.

So, I went grocery shopping and loaded up with what I considered more than enough necessities of life to last us two weeks, tucked away my bank card and credit cards, and planned to live a commerce-free existence for at least two weeks.

Then the next day Benjamin's school had a bookfair.

I happened to have $20 in my wallet, so I thought, "I'll just use this cash--I'm not technically breaking my vow, since I am not going into a store or using any cards."

The day after that, Benjamin complained that his shoes were hurting his toes. Desperate to prove that I was not some kind of crazed shopaholic who couldn't stay out of a store for more than a day, I tried to talk him into wearing the shoes for just a little longer . . . but when I felt his toes for myself I finally had to admit that we needed to buy some new ones ASAP.

It's a good thing I did, because his shoes were actually TWO sizes too small . . . but this meant he also needed indoor shoes, . . . and church shoes.

Yes, we went to every store in the mall and then the entire town, buying three pairs of shoes in one day.

If you want to tempt me to spend money, you know my two weaknesses: books and shoes . . . and children in pain (I guess that's three . . .).

Anyway, after that it was open season. We had to pick up birthday presents for parties, get new socks, sweaters and gloves to match new coats we had already bought, cash in on "one-day only" 40 percent off sales, stock up on Christmas presents to beat the rush, and you already know about my new library bag.



We have been caught in the net of materialism that has trapped the rest of the world.

And there are only 35 shopping days left until Christmas (just kidding--I made that number up!).

It's a good thing my kids still have a dad to teach them that the best things in life are the ones we can't buy with money ;)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Could She Be the ONE?

Benjamin has lived his entire life surrounded by girls (okay, he is only 6, but what I'm trying to say is that GIRLS is what he knows).



Most of his cousins are girls, particularly the ones who are older than he is--the ones he has looked up to.

 


And, of course, he's got his mother and sisters to keep him company most of the time.

 


The natural result of this is that although Ben is very much a boy--we all know he loves Star Wars, bugs, dinosaurs, working outside with his dad, etc.--he is extremely comfortable around his female peers, and just generally pretty in touch with his feminine side.

 


For example, he LOVES babies, gets upset if we watch Barbie movies without him, and wishes he could have a new Christmas dress like his sisters (just feeling left out, of course).



Anyway, because of all this female influence, Benjamin sometimes thinks a bit like a girl. For example, I've noticed that--unlike most little boys--Ben talks a lot about falling in love and getting married.

In fact, when he was in preschool he used to come home every day saying he had married someone!



This summer he met a girl at the park who he claimed to have fallen in love with, and he is always bringing home pictures from school that girls have drawn for him.

A couple of days ago, as we were hurrying to his classroom door before the morning bell, Benjamin said he'd seen a really pretty girl who was in kindergarten.

Me: What does she look like?

Ben: Well, she has curly hair, white skin, and looks like C (a girl in his class), except she doesn't have dots on her face (C has a few small beauty marks on her face that Ben has apparently noticed).

Me: That's nice.

Ben: I think I will marry her someday.

Every day since, Ben has been craning his neck to see the kindergarten girls standing in their line outside the school as his unromantic mother hurries him by.

I think it's kind of cute that Ben is always falling in love, but I worry about him getting his heart broken at such a young age.

And she couldn't really be The One, could she? :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Family Picture Sabotage

It's that time of year again--beautiful fall colors are everywhere, it's getting colder, people are starting to think about Christmas, and I am starting to think about the family picture.

Unfortunately, it seems that every year the universe conspires against me to make a family picture for our family impossible.

I'm sure you all remember the year Jason grew that beard . . .

 


And if it's not a beard it's someone refusing to look at the camera, having a tantrum, or not liking their hairstyle. And no, those were NOT all just me . . . we have ALL taken turns doing something to ruin the family picture.

This year it was Alaina.

First, we had trouble finding her something to wear. All of the winter dresses from our boxes of girl clothes were too big or too small. I looked at several stores and online, and everything was too expensive, too tacky, too ornate, or too green.

Reluctantly, I approached my mom, who is like a wizard when it comes to sewing. She readily agreed to make Alaina a dress that matched Janae's, even though the timeline was only . . . 3 days (I know, I can't believe I asked . . .).

We stopped by Mom and Dad's this morning (the picture was scheduled for tonight)-- before my dad was even out of bed--to pick up the dress.

It was beautiful. Even Alaina loved it. When I tried it on her at home, she couldn't stop twirling around and saying "Weeeeeee."

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The incident occurred as we were picking Benjamin up from school this afternoon. As I've mentioned before, Ben's school is on a hill, with a set of steep cement stairs leading up from the parking lot. Being the independent woman she is, Alaina always wants to walk up the stairs herself.

We were at the parking lot and Alaina started crying and arching her back, letting me know she wanted to go down. I set her down and she walked to a spot just behind Janae, then leaned against her sister (probably to give her a kiss). At that moment, Janae jolted forwards, leaving Alaina to fall flat on her face onto the cement (at least it wasn't down the stairs).

I knew at that moment that we would not be taking a family picture tonight.

Still, I perservered. I called Jason and told him what happened, but said we'd wait until he got home to see what he thought.

I put Alaina into her new dress and let her twirl around.

 


And then, finally, I made the call to cancel our appointment.

 


I know it's still pretty early in November, and I assume we will make another attempt at a family picture once the welt on Alaina's head goes down and then the bruises fade away. But I can't help wondering what will happen next. . . .

And yes, by the way, Alaina is okay :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Just One Candle

 


Yesterday I got to go to the Remembrance Day assembly at Benjamin's school. I wasn't expecting to cry like a baby through the entire program, but that's kind of what happened :)

I thought I would post the words to the song Ben's class sang . . . so you can cry too! (I'm sure it won't be the same--hearing the children sing, with their voices creaking on the higher notes, and hearing Ben say "window pave" instead of "window pane" definitely added to the effect.)

Just One Candle

Just one candle shining in a window pane
Give a light for all to see--a shining flame
Shining through the darkness it helps to show the way
Light your candle for peace today.

Shine your light for peace
Shine it all around the world
Sing for everyone; let your voice be heard
Shine your light for peace
Shine it everywhere
Show the people in the world you care.

 


It was so sweet--Ben came home and made his own poppy wreath, just like the one his class made to put on one of the crosses in the gym.

He also told me that during the assembly, he was thinking about my two grandpas who were in the war.

Benjamin definitely helped Remembrance Day mean something more to me this year!