Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Holidays



The quality of this photo is terrible...but the quality of our holiday season is not. We're having a great time--baking, singing, decorating, partying, crafting, shopping...

Although I never quite seem to do all I want to do, or in the way I planned to do it, there is joy in trying. It really is fun to see the anticipation build in my kids, and to see how excited they are about non-stop Christmas music and compiling goodie plates to deliver...because I remember feeling these feelings as a kid!

My Holiday emotions as an adult are a little different--not quite as magical, but still wonderful, and every bit as sacred.

The excitement of wondering what will be under the tree has sort of disappeared, but man, the satisfaction I feel when I stuff a stack of sealed envelopes in the mailbox, or tape and deliver a completed package to the post office, or pile my freshly-dipped "buckeyes" in a tin to be stacked in the cupboard--that's pretty great.

Hmmm, I think I need to get back a little of that childlike excitement (instead of the check-things-off-your-list-adult kind of excitement). I suppose that is the challenge of growing up--accepting and managing many responsibilities, while still appreciating the pure and simple joys of life. What a great time of year to work on that.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Too much "divide and conquer"

That is the tactic we use quite a bit around here. Back in NYC, it happened a lot. Tom would take the older kids on the subway and off to Manhattan to see something cool--a tour of a battleship, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, an art museum--while I stayed home with the newborn, or the fussy toddler. We really did do a lot all together (strollers and Baby Bjorns were well-used), but sometimes it just made more sense to let the little ones nap and roam free at home, and let the older, more interested ones sight-see unencumbered.

It still happens a lot. Late night basketball games (BYU came to Omaha this month), football practices, etc, etc... And one day when the "divide and conquer" strategy is in full-swing is Sunday. Tom has obligations and meetings at church, so he takes care of that while I take care of getting kids ready, keeping them reverent during Sacrament meeting, then working in the Primary. And that's okay; that is how things needs to be right now and I am fine with that. But it isn't typically a day filled with much family togetherness.

So...yesterday was a welcome surprise. Church and all meetings and Christmas concerts were canceled due to terrible weather--mostly the sub-zero temps and ice-covered parking lot. This doesn't happen very much, maybe once or twice in my lifetime, and it is strange to miss church. I didn't like that part, but I did thoroughly enjoy having the whole family (especially Tom) home together ALL day. It was heavenly. There is a special balance and strength that comes from two parents interacting together with their kids. Not feasible all the time, but I think important enough to make time for when possible.

We had our own little church session, and then had lots of time for resting, singing, playing the piano, fudge-making, playing games...just being together. What a treat. I know a day with nowhere to go and no obligations is a rare things for most families, but it sure is nice.





I need to slow down and allow for more of these days...even more so at this time of year.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

When Grandpa and Grandma come

We had a simple and lovely Thanksgiving weekend. No extended family...just our little family hanging out, decking our halls, taking family photos, touring the Festival of Trees downtown, and enjoying a fun dinner with some sweet friends on Turkey Day. I really enjoyed Thursday morning when we all lazily watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in our PJs. It made us sort of nostalgic...

But...we were lucky enough to have a visit from my parents earlier in November. Having "Grandma and Grandpa" all to ourselves was the best.



We took them to a few of the Des Moines points of interest including the Science Center of Iowa and the stunning State Capital building...



...the interior is even more stunning, but difficult for our amateur camera to capture.



Our Saturday touring downtown and the Capital was windy and FREEZING, but it warmed up by Monday so we went on a mini-hike around a lake. Eden had the best view of all.





But as is typical, the most precious moments happened right at home.

There is something so wonderful about grandparents. I guess it's because they are two people who care about your kids almost as much as you do...AND they don't have their own little kids to care for, so they can give their grandkids lots of attention.

I loved hearing my mom giggle and giggle as Ansley talked and babbled to her. At one point on Sunday afternoon, Ans had Grandma lying on the floor so she could lay blankets on her and tuck her in.

Meanwhile my dad was getting a ballet lesson from Miss Tessa, and doing quite well. He showed off his "five positions" for us later.





See? Undivided attention...so sweet.

I loved this moment, too. Tom and I went with my mom to a meeting one evening and left my dad to babysit. I told them they could watch a movie, to make things easy on him. But when we came home we found the younger two tucked in bed, and Tyler and Tessa awake (past their bedtime:) but engaged in a wonderful strategic math game with Grandpa. The TV hadn't been on all evening.

Babysitters do NOT get better than that!



It was a great weekend. We were so thankful they drove the ten hours to visit. It would be nice to be a little closer to them...but we can't complain. We're just glad we are now within driving distance. We love you guys so much!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The play experiment



I want to be better at letting my hair down, and truly playing with my kids. I know I should do it more. Maybe this is a common theme among moms; maybe it's normal to feel this way...but trust me, I am really not good at this. So I've been trying to improve.

Why is this so hard? Playing shouldn't be a chore. But it doesn't come naturally to me. I have to make a conscious effort to remember to play. When I have a few spare minutes, what does come naturally to my mind are all the tasks I need to scratch off my to-do list. There is always something that needs to be done, and their is always an impending deadline. Maybe I am just too practical. I should think more like a kid. When they have a few spare minutes while they're waiting in line at the DMV...they start playing! My kids are really good at this. Maybe I could get good at it, too?

I am attempting to work PLAY into our days more often. Here are some things I've tried with Eden (her age makes her my prime target right now, but I'm working on it with all of them):

*"Camping" in our indoor play tent
*Acting "Little House on the Prairie" (she always wants to be Charles and I play Caroline--Eden goes *hunting while I take care of the homefront)
*Playing the Disney princess memory game
*Racing tricycles on the sidewalk
*Popping out from under a blanket with a new facial expression that the other has to identify



Of course, it is nothing but great to spend time this way with these little ones that I love so much. I always enjoy it, and feel good that I am nourishing our relationship. I am learning more and more that motherhood requires a proactive approach. All the teaching, listening, guiding, playing, memory-making that I want to happen doesn't just happen...if I don't make it happen. The time I have with them living in my home is finite. Sometimes it feels like an eternity :), but it will come to an end. The time to play is now.

I have so far to go, but I hope I am slowing turning into the mother I want to be.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

refurb

Is there anything better than turning an almost-piece-of-garbage into something cute and functional for your home? Not much.

I found this funny little bookshelf thing on the curb during my neighborhood's Spring Cleaning effort months ago. (remember, Monette and Melayna?)



From another house, I drug home this child's chair. It was sturdy, but scarred with a pink paint spot and some weathering.



All it took was mild sanding and two coats of mossy green paint, and Ansley now has a reading corner in her room.







These kind of cheap, trash-to-treasure projects are perfect for practical, non-committal me. I never would have purposely purchased something like this, but when it's sitting out for the garbage man, I have no problem welcoming it into my home.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Couldn't resist

I think it must be an obligation of every blog owner to do a Fall post of some sort with pictures of pumpkin patches, pumpkin carving, and costumes. At least that's what I've gathered from my observations. So, I guess I have no choice...































All of the costumes came from our "costume pool" from years past. The only things I came up with this year were the Batman briefs (made from an old black t-shirt), belt, and boots (old ladybug boots painted black...it worked amazingly well). Either I am a slacker, or I am really lucky.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Just imagine

One evening as I was driving home from respective Dance and TaeKwonDo lessons, with all my kids in the car, I tuned in to some classical music--loud enough for the whole van to hear.

It was a lively song that seemed like it could be background music for a movie, so I asked the kids to imagine what would be happening in a movie scene or cartoon set to this music.

I suggested something generic like, "It sounds like people jumping or running..."

Then Tyler says, "I'm picturing a duck...making pumpkin pie. Now he's spinning the pie on his finger."

A bit more creative than my vision...

And he didn't stop there. "Now I see a bunch of mouse maids cleaning a house....dusting the TV, sweeping the floor."

"...okay now I see a king and his knights are trotting on horses...now they are going over a bridge. Now they came to a man in a hut chewing on toothpicks."

what the?

He paints a vivid picture. It is fair to say that his imagination is a finer-tuned machine than mine.

Sometimes I wish I could get inside his head, so I could better understand the mysterious, creative creature that Tyler is. And I have a feeling it would be fascinating place in that head.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hemming and hawing

Which pant leg looks better? Hmmm...that's a hard one.



Kidding! It's so obvious, yet I have been wearing these jeans around for a couple years now...with both legs looking like the one on the left! Sad but true.

Why didn't I hem them? Maybe I'm lazy? Maybe I was holding out in case I bought a pair of shoes with a five inch heel? (cuz that's so me) Maybe I was in denial that I am too short for these pants, and I was hoping my legs might still grow a few more inches?

Or perhaps the real reason is that I feared the "homemade hem" look. It's always so apparent when you shorten your own jeans...or so I thought.

Then I came across this great trick on someone's blog--where else? Maybe this is old news, but it was new to me. You just fold the jeans up to where you want them to be, and sew on the inside, right above the original hemmed edge, then trim the excess (or don't trim). Don't know if that made sense, but it was easy, trust me.

And I think the end result is great--almost professional-looking. I am excited to try this new technique on other pairs of pants in our house...it's so fun to learn a new trick to make life a bit easier.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The new me

I got my hair cut...a lot. It is shorter than I've had it since I was about 3 years old. I have always been afraid to cut my curls too short, for fear the whole mass would puff up and become afro-like. I thought they needed the weight to be tamed, but it turns out that proper curly-hair-care techniques, ample product, and a few clips here and there when needed, can keep it in control for the most part.

And I am liking it! This is not something I have always said about my hair :).





It's hard to capture hair in a photo, considering all the dimensions and angles...but I think I managed to show it pretty well.



Of course the main drawback of shorter hair, is that you can't "draw it back." This is a good and bad thing. I wore a bun way too much with long hair, so my new do has been a much needed incentive to leave my hair down, and work with it.

Wind and humidity can quickly create a lot of frizz, but I truly can't put my hair back to deal with that problem now. I can no longer hide my hair in a bun--I have to face it. Here's me on a frizzier day...not completely tame, but I made the best of it. I had to.



I will never have calm, predictable, sleek or smooth hair. But it does keep things interesting--I never know quite what I'll be left with each time my hair dries.

I am coming to appreciate and embrace more and more the head of hair I was dealt...this haircut helped.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

And one more ...

There are always lots of candles and "Happy Birthday" songs around here during the Fall, but after Tyler's big day last Friday, we were done for the season. Whew...it is exhausting to party so much :).

For his 9th birthday dessert, Tyler chose coconut cream pie...so I made an extra large one.



I always wanted an older brother...lucky girls.



Wish I saw this sibling affection more often:).



His birthday festivities weren't all that picture-worthy (those arcade/lazer tag/pizza places sort of annoy me, but he was itching to go and use the free tokens he had earned through the library). But here are some that I never posted from Tom's birthday last month. He would have preferred a round of REAL golf for his birthday, but humored his family and let us tag along for some mini-golf. It was a hap-hazard attempt, and I think our gang was a bit of a spectacle, but we made it through. And had a lot of fun.











Does one of my children finally have hair as "free-spirited" as mine??

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Another birthday at our house

All we really want for our children, is for them to be happy, right? I guess that's why I like celebrating their birthdays so much. It gives me an excuse to indulge them.

I know in the long run they WILL be happier when I don't give in to their every desire, and when I insist on manners and productive use of time, and all of that. But in the short run...they sure seem giddy when I let them do whatever they want for a day!!!

When Eden turned 4 a few days ago...I didn't make her do her chores, I didn't limit (much) her intake of less-than-healthy food, I let her choose how long we stayed at the park and which route we took home, I didn't make her go to bed on time, and we gave her gifts that have been denied when requested all throughout the year.

All of that adds up to a pretty happy kid.



Here's a look at the evening's festivities...


Siblings and friends patiently waiting for their turn to swing at the pinata.






Eden with her loot.

And with some favorite presents...







Cant' forget the cake.







Eden went to bed a delighted little girl. She had been looking forward to this day with MUCH anticipation, and I think (I hope?) it was as good as she expected. I love how easy kids are to please. (they don't even notice or care when most of their presents are from garage sales and Craigslist:)

It does make me happy to see them so happy.