Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Best Day Ever

Today was one of my favorite days of being a parent since I started.  These kids could not stop saying hilarious things.  B has started to laugh whenever anyone else laughs.  I want to laugh all day.  
 We were at the playground, and I showed Jared how I could get across a bridge in two steps.  His response: "I wish I was you!"
 Last night, Eloise had one of her infamous midnight tantrums.  Instead of just screaming to be left alone, she kept saying, "Hey now! Get outta here! Hey! Hey now! Hey now! Leave my room!"
 After breakfast this morning, Eloise helped me load the dishwasher.  When we were done, I closed it.  "You forgot to add the sugar!" Dishwasher detergent. . . sugar. . .
 And then there was this:
Eloise fell asleep outside the bathroom with her pants down during quiet time.  I don't know how this happened.  I was sitting on the couch ten feet away.  Jared came thundering out of his room after quiet time and offhandedly informed me that Eloise was lying on the floor with her pants down, but he wasn't sure if she was asleep.  Based on his description, this is not what I was expecting to find.  I'm not sure how she managed to sleep through him stepping over her on his way out of his room.

This evening we had a play date with some boys, and I left for a few minutes to run an errand.  When I got back, Jared informed me that they were playing "war," and that they had to get ready so that the war didn't get them.  I asked him what a war is, and he said it is something that makes people want to fight each other.   I sort of love his description.  It makes me want to give him a hug.

A Grandma for Christmas

Christmas 2013 was full of miracles.  A whole series of miracles happened to end up with Grandma Jill in Arizona with us for the holiday.
On Christmas Eve morning, I talked to Cheyenne on the phone.  She said Mama Jill was having a really hard time missing everyone, not getting along with her parents, and expecting to spend Christmas alone.  We couldn't let that happen.  Cheyenne had looked at plane tickets to Georgia, but the prices made it unrealistic to consider.  I realized that I was the closest, which meant the plane tickets would be cheapest, but I still expected that buying a same-day plane ticket on Christmas Eve would be absurdly expensive.  After checking with my mother in law to make sure it was fine to add another guest to the crowded house, I ran home from the park to check on tickets.  Annette mentioned checking Allegiant Air, since they tend to have great prices, even though they only fly on certain days.
Sure enough, Allegiant was flying from Provo to Mesa in three hours, and they were extremely affordable.  The next challenge was getting my mom on the phone to make sure she could get to the airport on time.  I was in touch with all of my sisters, but no one could reach her.  We all spent the next hour praying and calling.  She finally answered to tell me that she was in Ogden, an hour and a half from the airport.  She immediately got back in her car and started driving to the airport.  I bought the ticket, but we were convinced that Christmas Eve traffic through Salt Lake City would make it impossible for her to catch her flight.  My sisters and I kept praying, and miracles happened.  If she had answered her phone five minutes later, she might not have had time to get to the airport, but she made it.  She texted me at the gate as she was boarding, and I got in the car to go pick her up.
The Phoenix airport is very well marked and close to the freeway, but she was flying to the Mesa airport (where I had never been before), so I turned on navigation and started driving.  About two thirds of the way there I realized that the battery on my phone was not going to last all of the way with navigation on, so I turned it off.  As soon as I got off the freeway in Chandler, the thought came to me that I should pull over and write down the rest of the directions, so I pulled into an empty parking lot and copied the rest of the directions down on the back of a receipt.  ONE MINUTE LATER my phone battery died.  If that was not a miracle, I don't know what is.
I picked up my mom, who said that she fell asleep on the plane, and woke up unable to remember how she got there, since it had all happened so fast.  I drove back as quickly as I dared, and we managed to make it back in time for the children's Christmas pageant.
 Ryan and B were sheep.  Uncle Jake was the donkey.  There may or may not have been two Marys (Annie or McKenzie?).  Rachel was an angel, of course.  Eloise was a shepherd, and Peyton was a wise man.
 It was very cute.
 On Christmas morning, the excitement was tangible.
 Even B, who was mostly interested in playing with wrapping paper, pulled things out of his stocking with enthusiasm, until he found a banana, whereupon he stopped to chew on the skin until I opened it for him.
 Jared was delighted to deliver presents until the pile was depleted.
 While Jared flew around the room in excitement, and B got into everything he could lay his hands on, Eloise picked a little piece of floor for present opening, and did not move from it.  She spent most of the time sitting here eating.  Here she is at the beginning of the morning. . .
 . . . in the middle. . .
 . . . and ending up in a pile of presents.
 Notice B with his unpeeled banana.

 Eloise got a CD with her favorite song on it: "I Found You" by Caspar Babypants (her favorite song is "All the Fish"), who we heard in concert last summer.
 Jared was incredibly excited to get a calendar of his very own for Christmas.
Here is our family Christmas morning portrait.
 Here we are with the beloved GPs.
 And, thanks to some Christmas Eve magic, Grandma Jill was with us, too!
A very belated Merry Christmas to all of you, and may all of your days be filled with the wonder of children's joy, as this day has been for us.

Monday, February 24, 2014


I haven't been the most faithful blogger lately, but as the interminable month of Janebruary comes to a close, there are a few things that I don't want to let slip through the cracks.
Valentine's day
The day before Valentine's day, Todd took me out on a real date.  He even arranged for the babysitter himself.   It was great to get to go to a movie together.  
We got a sweet package from the GPs, full of stuffed animals, toy cars, and Valentines.  Our package from Grandma Jill came a little late, but we are still feeling all of the Valentine love.
 Eloise had a spoon from the chocolate covered strawberries that we made as a surprise for dinner.
 These children are no longer capable of making a normal face for a picture.
 Todd came home from work with Valentine gifts for everyone, and then we dressed up, and celebrated with a fancy, candle-lit dinner, where we practiced our manners.
Kindness Thursday
B makes a lot of messes if I leave the lids off of these buckets.  We have been baking a lot since we instituted "Kindness Thursday." Every Thursday we have to think of something nice to do for someone outside of our family who could use some love.  Since the world will never run out of people who need cookies, and these little Knights will never run out of enthusiasm for eating cookie dough, we are baking at least once a week. 
Everything Else
This is how B attempts to take a selfie.  He holds the phone at arm's length and yells out, "Eeeeeee!"
 Hiking is so muddy at this time of year.  We love it.  The dirtier our shoes are, the more fun you know we have had.
 On President's day, I took my older two children on a lunch date.  Of all of the restaurants in the universe, they chose Subway.  It could have been worse.  At least they didn't pick McDonald's.

 After lunch we went to the Value Village half price sale and cashed in on shin guards and cleats for Jared's upcoming soccer season for less than $5 together.  The odds of finding them there in his size on half price day are not good, so we were really lucky.
The end of February means that it is time for us to start thinking about our garden.  We picked up some posts to use for fencing around the garden area, and spent one freezing, rainy day painting them.
 We started our tomatoes indoors this year, instead of in our unheated kitchenette.  We hope that the extra heat will make the plants grow a little faster so that we can actually harvest some tomatoes this year.  Eloise is in charge of watering because she loves the spray bottle.  Our tulips that we planted last fall are starting to peek out of the ground!  Spring is just around the corner.
 Eloise loves all kinds of art.  She is already asking for new paints for her birthday.  Her current medium of choice, though, is scissors.  She is getting great fine motor skills, and she cleans up her own paper bits, so I don't have any complaints.  I do question the proximity of the computer cord to her scissors in this particular photo.
 Jared is getting more and more excited about writing.  He gets most of his writing practice writing notes and letters to people.
 I think, sometimes, that our dog is a perfect fit for our family.  For all of the obnoxious things she does, she really does put up with a lot.  I believe Jared was standing on Shadow while Eloise "caught" her in the laundry basket for this game.
 Between snow/sleet/rain storms, we get out on the driveway to play.
 B discovered puddles today.  He took his walker directly to the puddle and started stomping, notwithstanding his lack of boots.  It was actually raining at this time, but the house was starting to feel small.
 Not satisfied to simply wet his feet, B next had to sit in the puddle.  Brrrrrr!
I don't have any pictures of it, but Todd spent a lot of his free time this month pulling out carpet in the dining room and front entry.  This included tearing up tack strips, stray nails, and, as Jared would say, "About a thousand" staples.  He also repainted our guest bedroom.  We are now ready for visitors.  Any takers?
It still feels like winter, but warmer weather is in sight.  We won't be daunted by this sunless Northwest winter.  If you are looking for us, we will probably be outside.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

That Dog!

Our dog chewed up a toy we had checked out of the library last week.  Sometimes having a puppy is incredibly infuriating.  Shadow eats stuffed animals; she can't help herself.  She licks snot off of the kids faces, which makes me gag.  She chews on board books, if she can get them.  The high chair is candy land to her, even if I have just cleaned it with bleach.  She eats sandwiches out of the kids hands, she digs in the lawn, she jumps on strangers, and she smells terrible, even when she has just been bathed.

But sometimes our dog is really sweet.   Shadow adores the kids.  We can't really fault a six month old puppy for being too playful.  She is getting better at coming when she is called.  She doesn't jump on people all of the time, and she doesn't pee in the house anymore.

Yesterday I snapped some pictures to look at next time Shadow eats a receipt that I need for a return, to remind me why we got a dog.  Eloise is even starting to like the dog, as long as she keeps her cold nose off of the princess's bare skin.

 . . . and a few pictures of the kids, because they are just so cute.

So maybe we will keep that dumb dog.  For now.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Midwinter Beach Party

It is that time of year, my friends.  That drizzly, dismal, dark, cold, dank, dreary time of year, when all outdoor activities have to be limited to an hour or less due to frozen little fingers and toes.  And let's be honest, there is only so many math games, 
only so much laundry,
 only so many video chats. . .
 . . .
 . . . ("Anni: You look cuter than my sister Eloise.")
 . . .
 . . .
 . . .
 . . .  (I had a gazillion screen shots to choose from.  Thank you Jared.)
 There are only so many cupcakes we can bake,
 soups we can brew,
 tactile experiences to be had with a bucket of flour,
 there are only so many dress up styles,
 art projects,
 dry erase marker boards,
 and board games to be played.
 Sometimes we bundle up and go to the park, or to the beach playground to swing,
 which we love at all times of the year,
 and never tire of,
 and sometimes we go in search of a really deep, cold puddle to freeze our feet in as we puddle dance.
 But we can't do that for long before we are back in the house, walking around in circles, sometimes bumping into furniture, or each other, until we are all ready to make this face.
And then we know that the time has come to crank up the thermostat, fill a bucket with sand, cut up a melon, set out the chips and salsa, and party like it is the middle of sweet, hot August.
We turned on a video of a beach, and spent an hour and a half enjoying our friends.
 The sand was a huge hit, but it made an unbelievable mess.  What is it about having sand indoors that immediately invites children to create an artificial beach the size of a real beach?
 We were glad Juliana and Owen could come, even though their new baby was a week late by January 31, when we had our party.  He has since been born, healthy and huge.
 Jared and Richie couldn't figure out why they had their swimsuits on if they weren't going to get wet, so we created an artificial lake beach.  It's not too crowded in here, right?
This was the kickoff to summer week in our house, in spite of the lowest temperatures of the winter outside.  Our festivities included a lot of books about summer, and culminated with a trip to a real indoor pool on Friday.  Happy midwinter summer!