Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hallween 2017: Happy, But Not Quite the Same

Our Halloween was a little different this year, mostly because Ben (formerly our most enthusiastic celebrator of Halloween) decided he was too old (or too tall) to trick or treat.

Still, we all carved our pumpkins last night--with Ben and Janae doing all their own cutting this year.
Janae's, Ben's, Alaina's, Eric's

We took advantage of the beautiful, sunny and DRY day to make one last visit to the pumpkin patch,

Feeding the chickens

Feeding the sheep

Petting the cat--we thought he looked just like Grandma's kitty, Peeta

Picking one last pumpkin

then came home and made our traditional mummy hotdogs and skeleton veggies and dip.

After that, we made our usual first stop at Grandma and Grandpa's house (where we left Ben to watch a movie),

then came home to trick or treat.  Janae made her own Legolas costume (character from Lord of the Rings), Alaina dressed up as Ginny Weasley (from Harry Potter), and Eric agreed to wear his firefighter costume (although in his heart he was a knight).  

I realized later that both girls were characters from novels they love, which made me feel extremely proud!
 I really love trick or treating in our neighborhood.  There is not much traffic, so the streets are quiet and safe.  The neighbors are really friendly and welcoming, too.

At one of the houses, the neighbor takes pictures of the kids in their costumes each year, then has them posted to a board the following Halloween for them to pick up.

Our picture from last year--with Ben!  Notice Janae is holding the picture from the previous year.
Eric was entertaining, as usual.  At one door, when a woman answered with, "Hello," Eric said, "Bonjour!"

At another house, the person was giving out bags of chocolate chip cookies.  Eric enthusiastically said, "I LOVE cookies!" then told her that he needed to go to the potty.  The girls were mortified.  Of course we hurried home, then went back out for a bit longer.

Eric quickly became tired and said he was finished with trick or treating, so I came home with him to sort out the treats and watch a Halloween show (Word World Halloween Fun).

The girls stayed out with Jason for about another hour and a half, whch showed in the HUGE amounts of treats they brought home.

Yes, Ben was a little jealous when Grandpa brought him back . . . especially since we had so many trick or treaters that we ran out of candy!  I'm guessing the girls have enough to share, though. . . .

Overall, a very pleasant Halloween . . . but not quite the same without Ben.  Maybe we can get him back on board next year :)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Prefer to Self-Describe?

A few days ago I was filling out a survey emailed to me by Bard on the Beach--in hopes of winning season tickets for next year.

After the questions about how I'd enjoyed the Shakespearean festival, there were a few statistical inquiries about my geographic location, education level, etc.

One of the questions asked about my gender.  The options were "male," "female," "nonbinary," "prefer not to say," or "prefer to self-describe."  After the last, there was a small space where people could--presumably--write a little description of their gender.

I thought that was kind of interesting.

But even more interesting, the next question asked about my age.  The options were something like this: 18-25, 26-35, 36-44, 45-55, 56-65, or over 65.

Since my age was at the low end of an old-sounding category, I simply checked the younger box, since--clearly--I identify as a slightly younger person.  Yet, there was not an option to self-describe here.

I started thinking about all the situations where it might be kind of nice to have another option--weight (prefer to self-describe?), height (might I identify as a slightly taller person?), household income (prefer to appear more wealthy?).  And then what about things like ethnicity, IQ, marital status, criminal record, or any number of other issues?  The possibilities are endless.

I'm not sure how far this is going to go, but it definitely has potential to help people avoid answering some awkward personal questions. . . .

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Most Mommy-ish of All the Mommies

The other day, when I was driving with Eric to pick up Janae and Alaina from school, Eric saw a woman walking and commented that she "looked like a mommy."  Then he told me I looked "the most mommy-ish of all the mommies."

I realized then that to Eric, I am Mommy personified.  I really am the mommiest of all mommies.  And all of my other kids as well--throughout their lives, when they hear the word "Mom," "Mother," or "Mommy," they will most likely think of me, just as those words bring to my mind a picture of my own mom.

I know that to some "mom" means old-fashioned, out-dated, lacking in fashion sense ("mom jeans," etc.)--all of which I have been for quite some time (even before I had kids!)--but to me, "mom" is what I always wanted to be. 

Now that I am the mom of four, I realize motherhood is often frustrating, difficult, exhausting, worrying, unglamourous and sometimes even thankless, but when I hear something like "You are the most mommy-ish of all the mommies," I realize that it is also the most significant thing I could ever be. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Fishing with Grandpa

A few days ago, Eric was playing with a magnetic fishing puzzle in his room.  He told me he would like to catch and eat a REAL fish, so I told him, "Maybe you can go fishing with Grandpa one day."
My dad loves to fish--and I have many memories of standing by a river while he fished endlessly.  Since Eric is only three--and not always the most patient or obedient child--I wasn't sure that he would actually enjoy fishing . . . but if he was going to do it someday, Grandpa would definitely be the way to go.
When we visited my parents later that day, though, Eric remembered.  He asked Grandpa if he could look at his fishing rods, and then started to plan a trip to the river for THAT AFTERNOON.  Grandpa told him he couldn't go right away--he had other things to do, and it was too late in the day.  He also told Eric he would need to pack a lunch and have a hat, as well as bait and other supplies.
We drove home with Eric talking about fishing all the way.  As soon as we got in the door, he went into his room and found a big straw hat--then went into the kitchen, got an apple out of the fridge, and announced, "I've got my lunch; I'm ready to go!" 
Even though I explained that Grandpa meant another day, Eric waited for him by the door for a good 10 minutes.  Finally, I suggested phoning Grandpa--and when he wasn't home, Eric accepted the fact that he would have to wait.
But he called Grandpa again the next day, and asked him if he could go on Friday.
Then Friday came, and the trip was on.
We went to a spot that Grandpa thought might be fun for Eric, and they started baiting up the hooks. 
Eric could not have been happier--in his rubber boots, walking on the rocks and in the mud, holding a fishing rod, and anticipating catching and eating a fish!
His first catch: a stick.
But it was a hook-shaped stick, which worked well to replace his old "Maui hook" that he'd lost.

The next catch . . . another stick, but a big one this time.
The third catch: an actual FISH!
Not a fish he could eat, unfortunately, but still, Eric reeled it in himself and was very proud.
After that the boys got some quality brother bonding time together,

and Eric practiced his fisherman poses.

Ben even caught a stick.

But Eric's bullhead was the only fish of the day.
All three fishermen pronounced it a success . . . and I would have to agree, because I probably enjoyed it more than any other time I'd been fishing!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Alaina's Baptism

Our little Miss Alaina was so excited to be baptized!  I know this not only because her Primary teacher told me she had been talking about it all afternoon, but also because she had been telling me every day for weeks :)
She finally got to wear the white dress that all her older girl cousins had worn for that special ordinance, as well as all of her aunties and even her mom.  We won't mention how old that dress is!
Alaina chose the speakers for the program:
her cousin Rebecca to give a talk on baptism,
and her cousin Kya to speak on the Holy Ghost.
We realized later that both were the second-oldest girls in their families, just like Alaina is in ours :)
Janae played some Primary songs on the violin as a musical number in between.
Then afterwards it was brownies and cupcakes for all!
It was wonderful to have all these cousins here for support--all but two of whom had already been baptized.  Alaina definitely has a lot of great examples to look up to.
She said being baptized made her feel happier.
I am glad the day was special for her--I'm sure she will always remember it.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Turning 8

Alaina has spent the past few weeks really growing up.

She went to a horse-riding day camp for a week at the end of August with one of her friends from school,

rode her bike around the lake two days in a row,

then took off the training wheels and learned to ride without them in just an hour or so.  She spent the next day riding around the zoo on only two wheels!

She set up her own business, making and selling freshly squeezed lemonade to our neighbors

(with the goal of earning enough money to buy a hamster),

then started Grade 3.

The next morning she woke up as an 8-year-old!

She knew she was getting a mini hamster and cage for her American Girl doll, because she'd picked it out when we were at the store in Seattle,

but she didn't know we'd also got her a real hamster cage . . . so with her lemonade money she'd have enough to get the hamster, food, and bedding.

Even though I'd mentioned it would be okay to just put a stuffed animal in the cage and pretend she had an actual hamster, after school we took a trip to the pet store. 

Alaina held all the hamsters, and chose the friendliest one to take home (the only one that wasn't screaming in panic or biting her finger!). 

He was immediately named Orlando Bilbo Baggins.  (Yes, the girls are still really into The Hobbit.)

Twenty-four hours later, she finally got to hold and play with him.  Little Orlando seems pretty happy in his new home.

That evening we had Grandma and Grandpa over.  Alaina wanted to have fish and chips for dinner, and an ice cream cake with a horse on top.  The cake was melting quickly, but we managed to get a couple of pictures.

 Alaina was so excited and ready for this special birthday, 

And we are so happy to have such a sweet, loving, happy and determined little girl growing up in our family.

What 102 Looks Like

Jason's Grandpa turned 102 yesterday!
We visited him on Monday (Labor Day) with some balloons and sang "Happy Birthday."  He joined in the singing, then asked, "Whose birthday is it?" 
It was kind of fun for us to celebrate--and to marvel at how long he has lived--but I don't think any of it meant that much to him.
He didn't really know who we were, or that it was his birthday, or even that we were trying to take a family picture.
I guess that's what 102 years will do to a person :)

Sunday, September 3, 2017

All Together for Grandma's 70th Birthday

My mom turned 70 yesterday, and we were ALL there--in one way or another--to celebrate! 

Sheri volunteered to host us at her place, and got Mom a bonbon cake that none of us could wait to taste.  (We had to wait until after dinner, though--we decided on Chinese food, which is one of Mom's favorites.)

While we were waiting for that, we showed Mom a video Anita put together of all the kids and most of the adults saying things they loved about Grandma.  (Mike was actually missing from the party but was there on the video!)

Here are a few from my family:

Janae--Grandma makes the best turkey dinners, she makes pretty things for Janae's American Girl dolls, she always has a positive attitude, and she gives them nice things to take home.

Alaina--Grandma is always very kind, loves to bake, makes beautiful scarves and sweaters, and makes the best Halloween costumes.

Ben--Grandma is always thinking of us and is interested in what's going on in his life.

Eric--Grandma lets him watch Paw Patrol, lets him have milk on the couch, always knows he likes chocolate chip cookies, and Grandma loves him.

It was so sweet to hear what the kids had to say, in their own words and voices.

After that, there was no shortage of fun--Sheri has a pool, a dog who loves to play catch, two cats, dress-up clothes, hockey equipment . . . the kids definitely kept busy and happy on this hot day.

We also played a Jeopardy game with questions about Mom in categories like "The Year Mom Was Born," "Mom's Home Cooking," and "Mom's Medical Remedies."

And then we had the cake!

Before we went our separate ways, we got a few pictures of all the kids with Grandma and Grandpa out in the backyard.

And just in case Mom forgets how old she turned . . . she has these giant balloons to remind her :)

 Hopefully Mom enjoyed the party as much as the rest of us did! 

She has been such a wonderful mother and grandmother to all of us; it is hard to do anything that shows how much she means to us--but having everyone together was really special.

Memory Lane

I've mentioned before that I love to go to White Rock--and make a point of visiting there at least once every summer.
Since this is where I grew up until I was 12, it holds a lot of memories for me.  Every time we drive down 16th Avenue, across the city and over to the campgrounds where we used to live when my parents were caretakers there, I can't help pointing out all the places I used to go.  The hospital where my sisters were born, the 7-11 where I had my first Slurpee, the elementary school where I started kindergarten--I'm sure that by this point in their lives, my kids could draw and label a map showing all of them!
A couple of years ago, though, when we drove by the camp and I went to point out our old house, it was gone.  Not just torn down for something else to be built, or even to leave a vacant lot--it was torn down without a trace.  There were old, tall trees filling the space where I knew the house should have been, and there was no evidence that a house had ever been anywhere in the area.
I felt as though I was losing my mind--even though I knew the house couldn't have just disappeared.  I took pictures of the spot and went over to my parents' house to show them, hoping that they would go back there with me and help to solve this mystery.
Finally, this week my Dad went with us!
Since the camp had recently been converted into a public park, we were able to walk through the grounds.  The row of 16 cabins was gone, but there was still a pathway leading along where they used to be.
The back fence had been taken out, but a new look-out point had been built--connecting the park to the streets behind where the camp had ended.
We walked back along the fence, searching for the old lookout point,

which led to the first (and hopefully only) instance of me climbing over a fence and ripping my pants :)  I can say now, though, that the old lookout trail is still there . . .
but the platform is gone. 

(Of course my bad example led to all the kids wanting to jump over the fence, too, to see the old lookout!) 

We saw all the old views from the field
and the dining hall,

then walked the trail back to where our house should have been.

And finally we found the empty spot--closer to the road than I'd thought, where there's now a patch of overgrown grass and blackberry bushes.  I couldn't see this from the street when I'd driven by (or even stopped) before.

We walked down to the bottom of the street--a much shorter distance than I'd remembered, then we walked the path back up from the house to the dining hall,

and then the parking lot, where we saw the field where the pool used to be.

And yes, we did make it to the beach eventually.

There is something about walking down the paths and streets where I spent so much time as a little girl.  It makes me feel younger and happier--and also makes me hope that my children can someday feel that way about the places they grew up (although not as picturesque), including their summer days in White Rock, too.