Friday, December 31, 2010

All My Roads

I've always loved the Colin Raye song that talks about how life has a way of leading you to right where you need to be.  The chorus says,

'Cause all my roads have led me to
This night, this love I share with you
And though the road was never smooth
Life has made me someone who
Could be the right someone for you.
I've always thought of it in the traditional husband-y sense, but the song popped into my mind as I sat on the couch this morning, sandwiched between four boys, attempting to play Smash Brothers Brawl.
 
You see, I used to think that the year plus of my life when I spent an unquantifiable amount of time sandwiched between a different (you-know-who-you-are) group of four boys, attempting to play Smash Brothers Brawl was just time wasted. 
 
Not true.
 
Thanks, boys, for training me for my future life.  Those hours logged in front of the Nintendo prepared me to listen to my five-year-old explain the controls to me.  Then beat me.  Thanks for preparing me to lose - a lot.
 
I guess life has made me someone who could be the right mom for this clan. 
 
However, I think I need to get together with a group of moms and play some of Adam's new video games.  I don't have a prayer of learning how to play when my competition is so ruthless, and I'm not sure I'm up for being cremated repeatedly.  The kid needs to be taken down!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Christmas Gift to You

I had my family over at my house tonight starting a few new traditions and tweaking some old ones to make them work for us.  The old tradition = voluntary talent show.  The new tradition = vague topic with mandatory participation.

My gift to you is my dad's take on his topic of choice: King Herod.

Enjoy!


Transcription:

Well, as I was given the opportunity to choose what I wanted to do, I thought, I chose King Herold, 'cause I thought you might want to know a little bit about him.  Well, he started life as a frog, but his Fairy Godmother changed him into a human; eventually he became the father of Fiona, father-in-law of Shrek.  And he's also famous for naming the Herald Trumpet.  D'ya like that?  So that's... what I know about King Herold.  But if you want to know a little bit about King Herod... King Herod was not nearly as nice of man as King Herold.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Respect the Mateys

Some days Dylan will only eat if I let him do it on his own terms.

Today was one of those days.
This post is dedicated to Jay and Raini and Nate and Mel
and the good ol' days when we used to camp together.  "Respect the Mateys!"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Airing my Laundry

 Two days, many dirty pans, and 15 sticks of butter and margarine later...
 Ta da... this year's laundry is officially complete.

Since Grandma Casdorph is currently adding to the list of reasons why she's awesome (at 75 years old, she's been flipping houses with my Grandpa, and they're doing all the work themselves), she's been too busy this year to make and ship the traditional laundry to our homes. That meant that instead of just making the yummy bars like I usually do, I'd also have to whip up the finicky peanut butter fudge and try my hand at the other standards, butterballs, chocolate bon bons, and marshmallow fudge.  Christmas is at my house this year, and I didn't want my dad and brother to have to go without the standard flavors.  (The mint chocolate chip cookies are not a recipe of Grandma's... just something I threw in for fun.)

Lessons learned:

  1. Oleo is just an old-fashioned word for margarine.  You can search the store many times over, but you aren't going to find anything labeled "oleo."
  2. The chocolate bon bons are a messy business.  Next time I will make sure I've removed the kids songs from my iPod shuffle list so I am not stuck listening to "There's a Hole at the Bottom of the Sea."
  3. I owe a million thanks to the work Grandma has done in the past.  It was overwhelming to make four batches of each treat, and I'm certain Grandma makes more than that each year.
  4. I couldn't have done it without my wonderful husband who followed behind me cleaning the pans, measuring cups, and spatulas I repeatedly dirtied.
Now the laundry is safely stowed away at the top of the closet where kids won't beg for it (and I won't sneak pieces).  We'll pull it down on Christmas Eve, then eat ourselves silly. 

I. Can't. Wait.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dickens Festival


Best Moments as the Choreographer:

Falling flat on my back when I got a little overzealous during the chair lift circle.

Watching my cast perform "Thank You Very Much" and "Consider Yourself," which turned out to be my two favorite numbers.

Getting to know a bunch of new people while - thanks to Chris and JJ - still having flashbacks to days long past.

Worst Moments as the Choreographer:

Trying to rehearse in a cavernous and echoey (yep, totally a word, right?) space.

Running back and forth from stage to stage trying to find missing props.


Best Moments as a Mom:

Watching Alex perform the entire song "Oliver, Oliver" with his back to the stage.

Getting to do a show with Grandpa.  Thanks, Mr. Bumble!

Listening to the kids sing songs from the shows while they are in the bathtub.  "You've got to pick a pocket or two..."

Worst Moments as a Mom:

Arguing with tired, whiny kids about things that really shouldn't have mattered.

Having to be the mean backstage lady when said tired, whiny kids really just needed a mom.

Favorite Thing About the Show:

It's over.  :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Beans and Rice

I remember talking to my dad a year or so ago about cutting spending and frugality.  He told me about the Dave Ramsey quote, "Beans and rice, rice and beans."  I believe Mr. Ramsey applied it more generally to life, meaning that you don't always have to have the steak (or the iPod or the BlueRay or the...) because it is actually possible to live off beans and rice.

Well, I'm taking it a little more literally.  I serve some really good dinners around here.  Some days, I'm lucky enough to feel like we're eating out right here at our own kitchen table.  But I also spend a decent amount on groceries and have to buy some pretty specific items.

I'm thinking of re-vamping my weekly menu envelopes, and I'd like to include a super cheap, beans-and-rice kind of meal each week to help stretch the grocery budget.  I'm talking feed-the-whole-family-on-five-bucks cheap here. 

The challenge: I'm super picky and can't handle anything chunky like onions or peppers or veggies mixed in with my main dish. 

The easy part: I'm the opposite of a health nut, so no worries about fat, etc.

So send me your recipes if you've got ideas for me!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Cat Story

I'm not the type of person who normally blogs about her pets.  For the most part, the furry creatures who live in my house are just that and nothing more: furry creatures who live in my house.  And if that's true for the dog, it is certainly true for the cat.  If you've been reading this blog since 2008, perhaps you'll remember my dad's cat speech at my sister's wedding dinner?  It's just not bred into me to love cats.

So keep in mind that while this is a cat story, it's also a kid story.  I'm not crazy.

We got our cat, Roxie, about a month before Adam was born.  She liked us, but she hated kids and, well, pretty much people in general.  But all that changed when Alex was born.

Here's the story as I told it in Alex's one year old scrapbook (larger text follows the first layout):




Apparently Alex changed her permanently, because when I set Dylan on my bed for a moment today, this is what happened:


 Oh, and remember THIS face?  "Mom, will I get in trouble if I put a remote on the cat?"

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ornaments

I know that once upon a time my Grandma Nelson used to make us pajamas for Christmas.  But that was long before she had nearly 50 grandchildren.  I'm grateful that at some point, she switched from pajamas to making us each a Christmas ornament.  Back in the day, Grandpa would cut out each piece, and Grandma (an amazing toll painter) would hand paint each one.  Check out this ornament from 1986.


 Back in '86, though, I'm thinking there was only twenty five or so of us.  Now in 2010, I have nearly fifty cousins, most of whom are married with two or three or five kids of their own.  Each year, Grandma and Grandpa still make an ornament for each grandchild and each great grandchild.  If married, the grandkids' ornaments look something like this one from 2009.  Kirk gets to share my ornament, and the snowmen represent each of our children.


Even though this year's design was simple, the kids love them, and I love that they are red so they can go on my tree.  (Yeah, I'm a Christmas tree Nazi, and if it doesn't match - no matter how sentimental - it doesn't get put on.)  I actually told Kirk that now I want a whole tree full of them, but he said then they wouldn't be special anymore.  Yeah, yeah.  I still kind of want a tree full of them.

Aren't they perfect?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Not Ready to Walk

{Not that I'm comparing, but...} Both of my older boys walked at fourteen months.  Not super early, but respectable.  I've been kind of expecting the same from Dylan, but since he turned fourteen months yesterday and he still doesn't even seem interested in trying to walk, I'm thinking it might be awhile yet.

Today I pulled out his "Walk and Roar Dinosaur" and decided to try a bit of tutoring.  A birthday present from Grandma Tess, this thing is my favorite of the walking aides we've had for the kids.  The dino's hind legs can either be stuck together to sit on or spread apart to walk between. He actually walks really well behind it when I force him to, but if I leave him to his own devices, he just wants to sit on one leg, push the buttons, and dance.



This, by the way, is his "asking permission" face.  Of course, he does whatever he wants no matter what I say, but he just wants to let ME know that HE knows that he's doing something I may or may not be okay with.  (This face is seen every time he reaches for the dog's water.)  Anyway, I really don't mind if it takes him a bit longer to walk.  He's already growing up too fast!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Because It's Christmas

I found a few unposted videos from about this time last year.  I'm betting I didn't post them because of the terrible video quality, but a year later I've decided to do it anyway.  The audio is fine, and that's what these are actually all about.

My sister Lisa lives in Georgia and doesn't make it to Utah very frequently.  But she was here last Thanksgiving to attend a wedding, and we took advantage of having us all together.  We performed two of our favorite Christmas songs for a choir class at Navigator Pointe Elementary (where I just happen to teach now... in fact, this is my classroom).  I video taped the event by setting my camera on top of a filing cabinet at the back of the room.  So it isn't centered.  It isn't focused.  Oh well.  Enjoy the Christmas greetings from my family to yours!



Sunday, December 5, 2010

Snow Totals


I so wanted to call this post “Remember that time when…”

But I’ve already used that.

So here’s how the post would have gone had I not already used that title.

One of my favorite things about being married is having a live-in best friend. Someone to share dumb inside jokes that never seem to get old.

A million New Years Eve's ago (okay, it was really only seven), we spent the holiday in Washington's Tri-Cities hanging out with my former roommate Steph and her awesome family.  {Sidenote: doesn't '03 me make '10 me look OLD!}  Anyway, Steph's little brother was only six or so at the time and was desperate to be a part of the cool crowd. 

One night as we started getting ready for bed, there was Joe, hanging out on our hide-away couch bed.  We sat with him for a minute, not knowing quite what he wanted.  Finally, he started the conversation...

"Remember that time when I almost ate all that chili?"

And an inside joke was born.  For seven years, random moments have turned into instant "remember that time when...'s" and we've laughed and laughed.

In fact, as we got ready for bed a few nighs ago, Kirk said, "Remember that time when Alex lost his boot and got stuck in the snow."  And I said, "Yeah, I and I just stood in the doorway 'cause there was no way I was going out to rescue him?"  And we laughed.

"Remember that time when..."

Friday, December 3, 2010

Underrepresented

Although it easily ranks Top 2 on my list of favorite holidays, I always feel bad for Thanksgiving when I look through my scrapbooks.  Some years, Christmas takes up 8 pages, between the parties, the Christmas Eve festivities, the presents...  I try to squeeze Halloween into 2 - 4 at the max - but there are pictures just jammed onto the page trying to capture the costumes, the annual party, and treats.  And Easter has the baskets, the well-dressed boys, and the egg-coloring.  Poor Thanksgiving!  It just isn't a picture-taking holiday.  Not to mention that Thanksgiving traditionally keeps this mommy (the family historian) pretty busy, leaving little time to grab the camera.

So this year, I made a concerted effort to get enough pics for a full two-page spread in this year's book.  I'm glad I did, because I could have missed all this:


And now for a few {I promise short} moments captured on video: 

Dylan's first ever make-believe


I can control my boys, but I can't control my dad and brother (and trust me - this was not at the height of their noise, and yes - this is in my grandma's nice sitting room)


Sharing a drink with Uncle Skye
(oops... uploaded it sideways and don't care enough to fix it)


BONUS POINTS TO ANY OF OUR FRIENDS WHO CAN NAME THE GAME KIRK WAS EXPLAINING IN THE BACKGROUND

And the video I didn't get because my camera was already packed?  My Grandpa Nelson sitting in a rocking chair, rocking a very tired Dylan and humming "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Meant to Be

Adam was definitely meant to be the oldest kid in our family.  His bossiness alone seals the deal.

But he's also the best big brother a kid could ask for.  Examples from the last 24 hours:

Example 1:
Adam and Alex walked home from the babysitter's yesterday.  When they left, Adam was wearing the gloves he'd taken to school.  When they got to the house, Alex was wearing them.  We can only imagine the conversation went something like this:

Alex: "My hands are so fweezing!"
Adam: "Oh, Alex..." (using his syrupy sweet voice he reserves for when he's acting parental) "... do you want to borrow mine?"

And then I imagine them stopping on the sidewalk to complete the transfer, big brother helping out little brother, because I know Alex doesn't know how to put on his own gloves.

Example 2:
I was shut up in my Christmas Workshop (aka "the office") wrapping presents when the baby woke up this morning.  He'd only managed one cry when Adam was at the door.  "Oh, Mom... can I get the baby up for you?"  He then got Dylan out of his crib and entertained him until I was able to emerge.

Example 3:
Alex just came up the stairs in the robe Adam recently outgrew.  Adam noticed the robe wasn't tied.  While he patiently tied the robe, they stood face to face discussing that the robe used to be Adam's but he got too big for it, so he wanted Alex to have it.  Their little voices held nothing but love for each other, an occurrence which has been pretty rare lately.

Example 4:
And now while I stand here writing this blog, Adam said, "Mom, I think I could get everybody some cereal.  I can pour the right amount, I promise.  He pushed a stool to the pantry, explained the cereal choices to Alex, and is now busy getting clean bowls and spoons from the dishwasher.

At moments (okay... many, many moments) he might drive me crazy.  He might point out everything I do wrong, and say - very condescendingly - "Get it, Mom?" whenever he explains something to me.  He might roll his eyes like the moodiest of teenagers and huff at me if I struggle to understand his questions.  He might ask, "For what reason?" (a simple "why" just wouldn't cut it for this kid) every single time I ask him to do something.

But he's a great kid, a wonderful son, and a loving brother.  Dylan and Alex are so lucky to have him.  And so am I.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hot Cup of Cocoa

My sixteen-hour work week working at Navigator Pointe Academy (a charter school in West Jordan) includes running an after-school show choir for 2nd and 3rd graders.  I was initially excited by the prospect, then worried once I met my 2nd and 3rd grade students, then apprehensive when only 16 students signed up.  "What am I going to do with sixteen inexperienced kids who routinely struggle to pay attention during their 25 minutes of in-school music?" I thought to myself.  "How am I going to put together any sort of performance I can be proud of, and with only eight rehearsals?"

Well, the answer was to keep the performance short, the songs relatively easy, and the dance moves "cute" instead of precise.  I have to start somewhere, and hopefully as the program grows, so can my expectations.

The good news is that I really didn't need to worry.  My kids are doing great, and they are only two rehearsals away from singing their little hearts out, "With a h-h-h-h-hot c-c-c-c-cup of c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-co-co-coa!"

And speaking of hot cocoa, I made a less-than-wise decision two Friday's ago in promising the kids we could go for a ride down by the river if they were awesome at Grandma's while I was trying to get my work done.  They were awesome, but I didn't finish my stuff until about 4:30 pm.  The sun was still up (barely) so we quickly bundled and headed down the street to the trailhead.  Smiles lasted long enough for one family-on-wheels picture but quickly faded along with the sunlight.



We took a quick peek at the river, turned promptly around, and headed back to Grandma's with frozen hands in much need of warming.  Cocoa to the rescue!  This was Dylan's first experience with the stuff.  His questioning look quickly turned to one of pleasure, and he was the first to drain his cup.


So, after the recent snow storms I decided it was maybe time to start planning more seasonally appropriate activities.  We invited some neighbors out to our practically-next-door park for some snowy fun.  I wanted to build snowmen and forts, but the snow got too old too quickly.  Luckily, the neighbors brought some sleds, and I ran home to get the never-before-used snow tubes Grandma Tess gave us two years ago.  In the past, sledding has been a major source of anxiety and whining for my all-too-cautious oldest child, but the hill at the park is just perfect for the munchkin-sized sledders.  There was no whining about dragging sleds back up, no tears about going too fast, and thanks to the lighting, no problems with the fact that the daddies are only home when it is dark.



We all gathered at my house for - you guessed it - more hot cocoa and some yummy brownies brought by the Mechams.  Note: if you like a really dark tasting cocoa, buy the hot chocolate mix in bulk at Winco.  If you don't (and most didn't), I don't recommend it!  Luckily Alicia loved it, so I sent the rest home with her.

Oh, and this was supposed to be cool.  Pretend it was:

video

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It All Started...

...when I drove past a yard sale last Saturday.  This awesome bunk bed caught my eye, and I had to have it for Alex's room.  I mean, if your little boy has an ocean themed room, and you happen across a ship bunk bed, you have to have it!

As always, I was in a hurry, so I called Kirk.

"Um, honey, if you walk across the street, you'll see a yard sale.  They have this awesome bunk bed.  Can you go see how much they want for it?"

He texted me, "$20."

"Buy it."

Turns out that in order for this awesome bunk bed to achieve it's full potential, it would need to be stripped and repainted.

THE ORIGINAL PAINT JOB
No problem. 

I thought my little project would take me the better part of an afternoon.

Wrong.

It took me three trips to Lowes, about $75, and the better part of a week.

There were times - many times - I regretted even starting the project.

But I finished it, and now Alex has an awesome bunk bed to go in his already awesome room.  And I'll have a memory to keep in my back pocket for the next time I see something awesome at a yard sale.

THE FINISHED PRODUCT
CAPTAIN OF THE BED

Friday, November 19, 2010

Claim to Fame

When I was a kid, my uncle was the Vice President of Arctic Circle. 

Yes.  I know.

Practically celebrity.

That meant cool things for me, like knowing his signature was at the bottom of the coupons they passed out in schools.

It also meant I got to be in a few commercials.

I got paid in hamburgers and Easter dresses, which was just fine for a 8 to 10 year old (these commercials were from 1989 to 1991).  I also got recognized. 

"Wow, you look just like the girl in the Arctic Circle commercials," a schoolmate said to me.

"I am the girl in the Arctic Circle commercials," I informed him, dripping with an obviously tone.

Unfortunately they started hiring different kids around the time of those slap-on watches that eventually got banned from schools.  Remember those?

Anyway, it seemed my fifteen minutes of fame were over.

But were they truly?

Nope, because hidden away in the archives of my mom's basement, I found the videotaped commercials.  The studio had provided each participant with their own copy.  Fancy, right?

I played them using my mom's VCR, since she still has one of those -- I don't -- and recorded them with my camera.  Uploaded to YouTube, a tiny bit of editing to put them all together, and here you have it:

My fifteen minutes revisited.  I hope you enjoy my classically crimped hair in the first video and my rockin' side-part-pony on the last.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Not Quite Wrong

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It is the Soldier...

When I try to encourage my students to deliver a heart-felt performance, I often say something to the effect of, "If you have one of those moms that cries all the time, we want to make sure we make her cry."

I'm not that Mom.  At least, not usually.  But today, I left school with a headache from the combination of permanent marker and trying not to cry.

We had an assembly for Veteran's Day, and - I'll be brutally honest here - I was just wishing I had the day off.  I didn't have to teach my classes because they were going to the assembly instead.  But I still had to be there, because my classes were singing in the assembly.  I wasn't even excited for that, because we already performed these songs for the parents two weeks ago, and I've already moved on to teaching Christmas songs.

So you can imagine my surprise when, as the 5th through 9th grade classes at Navigator Pointe Academy together with about 30 invited veterans stood to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, I choked on my words.  Teared up.  And it didn't stop there.  I had to mouth half the words to the Star Spangled Banner as I was up there leading it; I knew if I sang, my voice would give way to tears.  

The 6th and 7th grade choirs (not my classes) sang "Blades of Grass and Pure White Stone."  
"Blades of grass and pure white stone shelter those who've come and gone. Just below the em'rald sod are boys who've reached the arms of God. Buried here with dignity, endless rows for all to see. Freedom's seeds in sorrow sown, 'neath blades of grass and pure white stones."

Some of their notes were terrible.  But the feeling they put behind it was amazing.  Again with the almost-tears.

What surprised me the most, though, was the solemnity with which the students who had been selected to share Veteran's Day essays approached their task.  One ninth grade student delivered her speech with so much feeling that I hung on every word.  Included in her essay was the following quote.  Read it slowly (as she did) and imagine reading it in the presence of men and women who fought in wars ranging from WWII to the present war.  Imagine a room full of 11 to 14 year olds, silent.  Respectful.  Solemn.

"It is the soldier, not the reporter, 
Who has given us freedom of the press. 
It is the soldier, not the poet, 
Who has given us freedom of speech. 
It is the soldier, not the organizer, 
Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier, 
Who salutes the flag, 
Who serves beneath the flag, 
And whose coffin is draped by the flag, 
Who allows the protestor to burn the flag." 
- Father Dennis Edward O'Brian, USMC


I've never felt the stirrings of patriotism as poignantly as I did today, and I cannot deny that the spirit was present today in the multi-purpose room of a public school.  I am lucky to have been a part of the assembly today, and I am proud of the students who so nobly honored their relative veterans.

I'm already looking forward to next year's assembly.

[And I violated my personal one-post-per-day rule because I felt so strongly about this.  Read on for my earlier post!]

Five Turkeys


I hadn't planned on blogging this project.  It was just another "activity jar" and not something with which to bore the masses.  Just some not-that-impressive turkeys made by two munchins and a mom who's never been much of an artist.  Until...

I posted on Facebook about how I'd taped saran-wrap over our creations, hoping to preserve them for a week or two, and wished out loud for contact paper.

Then I went to work.

When I came home, there on my counter sat a roll of contact paper!

I couldn't blame/thank the hubby - he couldn't have read my FB post until he got home from work.

"Where did this come from?" I asked.

"Alicia.  She said you wanted some and that she had lots, so she sent it home with me."

Alicia is my friend/babysitter extraordinaire.  I'm telling you, she is crazy awesome.  But that is a whole-nother story.

I quickly went to work with the contact paper, turning our projects into somewhat durable placemats that should last us through the season.

But the real reason these have become blog worthy, you ask?

I think I'm going to keep them.

Groundbreaking, if you really know me.  I am not a keeper of stuff.  Taker of pictures?  Yes.  Preserver of memories via digital scrapbook and blog?  Yes.  Thrower-away of all things normal people keep just for sentiment?  Yes.

Still, I'm keeping these.

Why?  Because Alex is still in that sperm-people phase where his stick figure legs come straight out of the head.  Because Adam's words are starting to look like words, not just random jumbles of letters.  Because who knows how long Alex's blue and orange favorite colors will last, and so who knows how many BSU turkeys we'll get to sport.  Because it turns out Adam was right - the two eyed turkey does actually look less weird. 
Because I somehow managed to capture memories, personality, and maybe even time between those two sheets of contact paper.

This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for my wonderful kids and the time I get to spend with them each day. I'm thankful for friends who go out of their way to make my life easier, better, and just more fun. I'm thankful for family, near and far, who stay involved in my life and the lives of my goobers. I'm thankful for our home and our jobs and the security we've been blessed with in such awful times. I'm grateful for the gospel and for music and the talents I've been blessed with. I'll even admit to being thankful for Facebook and blogging because they keep me sane and connected.

And I'm thankful for sperm-people, who - by the way - represent that Alex is grateful for his Mommy and Daddy. I think I want to remember that.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Smell Like a Monster

Maybe you've seen this.  Maybe you haven't. 

If you haven't, you definately should.

My kids found it on pbskids.org.  I found it on YouTube.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Want One for Christmas?



I've been waiting for three years for the prices on custom board books to come down, and they've finally come down enough that I think they are at least *somewhat* reasonable.  I'm going to be printing with these guys because they have the right price/size/pages combination for me.  So head there and design your own ($19.95 printing plus $4.65 shipping for a 14 page plus front and back cover book, btw) OR send me all your pics and $30, and I'll design/print/ship it for you.

And no, you don't have to go with the alphabet theme.  I can also do families or whatever ideas you can dream up.  I'll be working on a family book for Dylan, and I'll post it when it's done.

Fun idea for the kiddos for Christmas!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkins, Costumes, and Parties

I'll be brief, I promise!

PUMPKINS:

I'm going to show you the happy pictures first.  Remember these as you read on....


Great start, great finish, but it got a little hairy in the middle when Mom and Dad tried to force Adam to get over his pumpkin negativity.  We decided our family Halloween tradition is fighting while carving pumpkins.  First, every face I tried to draw for Adam didn't fit his "angry" description, and any plea from me for him to draw it himself resulted in a whiny, "But I don't know hoooowwww to make it look angry!"

Then came the dreaded attempt to get Adam to touch the pumpkin guts.  Let's just say Adam and pumpkin guts have had a rough start:



But now he's almost six for crying out loud!  We figured this was the year to give it a go.  Finally realizing he couldn't handle touching it with his bare hands, we offered him salad tongs.  Tongs in hand - and with a guarantee of not even having to touch the slime - we still had all this...


video

Maybe next year we'll manage to enjoy the process.  Or maybe we'll can it altogether...

COSTUMES:
I guess we ended up with a bit of a movie/television theme this year, and for very little effort, the boys sure got a lot of compliments!


There wasn't much to Kirk's costume, but I was glad I went to the trouble to fund a V-neck shirt when my brother commented, "Oh, that's why you're wearing a gay shirt."

PARTIES:
I didn't seem to get as exhausted by all the parties this year as I have in the past.  Maybe it's because the kids' costumes were super easy, and the makeup was kind of fun.  Anyway, here's the highlights:

-- Grandma Tess's Annual Party --
We enjoyed the traditional games and cookie decorating, but the highlight was definately the new addition:



-- School Carnival --
Hot and stuffy, but we still had a pretty good time.  We hit the playground in the dark to cool off and discovered that Dylan's newfound ability to slide down the stairs backwards means he also thinks he can handle ladders, ect.  I'll be watching him a little more closely at future park outings!


-- Ward Party --
We came, we ate (Kirk at 5 bowls of soup), we costume paraded, but I guess I didn't take any pics that night.  Amazing!

-- Children's Museum --
We have the annual pass, and I like to make sure we're getting our $$'s worth, so we carted the kids off to their Halloween Spooktacular.  It was well worth it.  The crowds were not at all out of control, and there were lots of fun activities for the kids to do.  My favorite was the corn maze trick or treat, just perfect for little ones.



-- The Real Deal --
Trick or Treat!  Dylan made it to about 12 houses, Alex made it to about 20, and Adam went for two hours and filled his entire pumpkin!  The rain didn't pose too much of a problem, and I really enjoyed being the one to take the goons around this year.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spooky!

I searched and searched at my parents' house for an old picture of me in a dance uniform because it was going to be the perfect addition to my {yet to come} Halloween post.  I didn't find it.  But maybe what I did find was even better.  It turns out that my second son, Alex, bears a striking resemblance to his mommy!  We've always said he's our Casdorph baby and that he looks a lot like his Uncle Jack, but the correlations between Mommy and Alex are truly just spooky. 

Two of the pictures below are the originals.  Two are doctored to switch the faces.  Can you tell which is the correct Alex and which is the correct little-girl-Andrea?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Noodles

My mom makes a soup that we call Chicken Stew.  Kirk used to try to push my buttons by explaining the physical differences between soup and stew and pointing out that this is clearly a soup.

He {mostly} stopped when I explained to him the significance of our stew.

My grandmother, Kirma Nelson, passed away in 1977, having fought an eleven-year battle with cancer.  Since I wasn't born until 1981, I obviously never got the chance to meet her.  Since I was a little girl, I always answered the question, "Who is the person you'd most like to meet," with the simple answer, "My mom's mom." 

A couple of years ago, I got the chance to put together a book of her life which included stories and memories written by her children.  I learned that apparently her genes were strong, and she passed them directly to my mom, who - hopefully - passed at least some of them to me.

I know I "inherited" her skills at the piano.  Okay, I practiced a lot, too, but we have that in common.  Grandma Kirma was a concert pianist.

She had high expectations for my mother, who set high expectations for me, and now I'm definately that way, too.  My aunt said of her,

"Mom was firm, with high expectations for herself, her family, students, and others.  This could at times cause a little stress.  When then expectations weren't met, she would try to find ways to motivate others to reach higher.  Many times those around her would rise to the occasion, and what a grand sight that would be.  But a few times I remember her being sad that she was not able to get others to the level she had imagined it could be.  In music, this would disappoint her, bus she would just try again.  When I let her down, she would be forgiving and give me another chance."

She was also a school teacher and a music teacher, occupations both my mom and I have pursued.

But despite those connections, sometimes it's hard to feel like we have her here with us.  For those times, there is chicken stew.

For this year's ward Halloween party, I signed up to bring soup.  Adam begged me to bring chicken noodle, which fit in perfectly with my plans to try - for only the second time ever - my hand at the chicken stew.

It's nothing fancy - no secret ingredients or hush-hush directions.  Just a whole chicken boiled down and shredded with the water used to start the broth.  Insert carrots and homemade noodles, season it up a bit, and that's all there is to it.  I think that's what I love so much.  No fancy (read: gross) stuff to worry about picking around.

Thanks to some help from my hubby, the noodles turned out beautiful!  I guess his 6'3" frame gets excellent leverage on the rolling pin while my measly 5'3" sometimes feels like I can barely reach the counter.

Tonight, we'll share our chicken stew, and I'll know that at least a little bit of Grandma Kirma lives on in me.

If you're interested, here's the book I made a few years ago.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SO Not Ready for This...


We rummaged through the winter clothes and found all the necessary items for each kid.

The model on the left is wearing last year's boots and coat, mom's old gloves, Kaleb's handed-down snowbibs, and a hat he's had since he was three.

The model on the right is wearing too-big handed down boots (apparently a size 7 would have been perfect but we only have 6 and 8), last year's coat and hat, Adam's old mittens, and Ryan's handed-down snowbibs.

Both coats are getting small, so if Santa brings a new coat for boy #1 and then we shift all coats to the next smallest boy, hopefully we'll stay in snowy-weather business!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lessons Learned

Subtitle: Does This Shirt Make My Face Look Fat?

I always take the kids to JC Penney Portrait Studious for their milestone pictures -- not because I love their pictures, but because I love their prices.  I usually spend less than $25 for the 3 required 8x10's (our house and both Grandma's houses) and a small assortment of 5x7s or wallets just because.

So far, I've had pretty good luck.  But let's face the facts:

- Dylan's overall redness makes him hard to photograph
- Dylan's even-tempered personality makes it hard to get him to smile
- Dylan's eczema and tendency to get flushed when warm often make his face extra red

So I should have known we were bound to get some less-than-great pics eventually.  All of the above - coupled with a less-than-enthusiastic photographer - made for some pretty awful 9 month pictures.  So awful they never made the grandmother's walls or even the blog.  So awful that anti-confrontational little me even sent an emailed complaint.  (I promise, this is a big deal in my world.) 

JC Penney handled my complaint like a champ and sent me a voucher for three free sheets of photos.

So I tried to learn my lessons well and prepare better for Dylan's one year pictures

- Carefully selected clothes to bring out blue eyes and red hair - check
- Brown background to minimize overall facial redness - check
- Air conditioner blowing full blast the entire ride there - check
- Comfy clothes and teddy bear to help Dylan feel happy and comfortable - check
- Older brothers with instructions to get Dylan as crazy as possible - check
- Change of clothes to try to capture a more formal picture - check
- Vouchers for free portraits PLUS a note in my customer file that I had once complained - check

The only thing that missed my radar this time was that button-up shirts apparently make Dylan's face look really fat.  But, like Kirk pointed out, it only looks fat because it is fat, and now we have the pictures to remember it by!

It turns out all my preparation really paid off, because the session was great!  I ended up spending $50 this time because there were too many pictures I just couldn't live without.  See for yourself...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lest I Forget

A few weeks ago, Adam's school sent him home with a Disneyland brochure.
Sidenote: How does this happen?  Why is Disneyland allowed to advertise to my child at school?
Anyway, as we were driving, Adam started telling me all about why he wanted to go to Disneyland again.  I agreed that it would be lots of fun but tried explaining to him that a trip to Disneyland would be very expensive.

Adam: Well, how much money, Mom?

Me: I don't know, honey.  A lot.

Adam: No, Mom, a number...

Me:  Ok.  Like, maybe $100.  But that's $100 for you, $100 for Alex, $100 for Mommy, $100 for Daddy, and $100 for Dylan.  So that's like $500 for the whole family, which is really a lot of money.

----- silence -----

Adam:  Oh, Mom, I have an idea.  Maybe if Daddy didn't want to go, he could just stay home, and then maybe Dylan could stay with him.  So then it would only be $300, right?

Me:  I guess that would be true, but even $300 is a lot of money.

----- silence -----

Adam:  Mom, how about this...  Sometimes, when you buy me food I don't like, maybe that costs $100.  So if you don't buy any of the food I don't like, maybe we'll have enough money.

Seems like I'd better start saving my pennies!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Grrr.... *Updated

Have you seen my blog today?  Does the universe hate me for posting about my success in fixing it before?  Apparently, all the hosted images have now been removed, so I'm going to have to take some time to create my own and find somewhere it can live on the internet so I can direct the html to it. 

Grrr....

Please enjoy my messed up blog for as long as it takes for me to address this issue.

*Update:

I spent over an hour this morning fixing it... again.  Hopefully the random background images I found scattered around the internet will stay functional.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Overheard...

I'm currently playing in the orchestra for the Draper Historic Theatre's Footloose!, which it turns out I'm enjoying thoroughly.  I've even made some new friends - or at least acquaintances - including the bass guitarist and the drummer, both girls in high school. 

I overheard them talking the other night.

Drummer to Guitarist:  Hey, so can you come with me to that party tonight?

Guitarist:  No.  My dad's a Nazi.

Drummer:  Really?!  That sucks.  Why is he being such a Nazi?

Guitarist:  Well, I'm failing math...

Drummer:  Yeah?  What math are you taking?

Guitarist:  Pre-calc.

Drummer:  Well, that's totally why.  I would fail pre-calc, too, if I was taking it.

Hmmm... sounds like a total-Nazi-dad is definately the problem here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

We've Been Boo-ed

Thank you to whichever nice neighbor included us in the Halloween fun.  This morning, we were treated to a plate of adorably decorated (and incredibly tasty) sugar cookies.  The boys ate ghosts, while Kirk and I enjoyed the pumpkins.

After a post-primary discussion about keeping the Sabbath day holy, we decided that baking cupcakes as a family would be a great Sabbath activity.  I didn't initially realize that between the baking and decorating, it would actually fill most of our afternoon, but that ended up being a good thing. 

Daddy handled the base-frosting while Mommy and the kiddos mastered the piped frosting.  We all sat/stood/gathered around the island for over an hour - talking, joking, working, enjoying family time, laughing as the boys repeatedly referred to the mummies as mommies

As in... "The mommies aren't allowed to talk; that's why they have x's over their mouths." 

Yep, Daddy loved that one!

So thanks, again, for including us in the fun.  Not only did we get great cookies, but we made some great memories -- and a few monsters and mommies -- too.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Quick Fix

I'm patting myself on the back right now. 

I love my blog background and have no intentions of ever changing it.  This background and I are a perfect match.  I can't see wanting more than this background can give me.

Plus, it was hard to find, complicated-ish to install, and I swore I wasn't going through that again.

So when one of my source images disappeared and was replaced by a pastel-and-white button that read "tinypics: this image is no longer available," I was heartbroken.

No longer.

All by myself, I ventured into the frightening html of my beloved background.  I copied and pasted source image url's into a separate browser, testing each until I found the offending link.  Once identified (in four separate locations) I replaced it with the url of a functional link.  I apprehensively pushed the "preview" button, afraid I had somehow broken the code, despite my careful copy-and-paste techniques.

No error messages! 

No awkward pastel buttons where cool, graphic, black-and-gray bars of leaves belong.

I fixed it!

The balance of all that is good has been restored.

Yep, patting myself on the back.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Growing Up

I've noticed something about my perspective with each child.

With Adam, I am always so excited to see him grow up; each new stage is fun, and new, and exciting.

With Alex, I thoroughly enjoy the age he is at the moment, because (thanks to Dylan) I can easily see the trouble he just grew out of, and (thanks to Adam) I can easily see the trouble he's about to be in.

With Dylan, I am sad to see him exit each stage, because it may be the last time one of my kids ever {insert milestone here}.

When Dylan brings home his kindergarten picture, maybe I'll cry, remembering the baby he'll never be again.

With Adam's picture, though, all I can see is the man he's going to become.

Well, that and the need to start saving now for some potential dental/orthodontic work.  :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Great Grandparents

All children, biologically speaking, have great grandparents.

Some children are lucky enough to having living great grandparents.

My children are lucky enough to have six living great grandparents, including these great grandparents:




Thanks, Great Gr. & Gr. Casdorph, for coming to visit, for never once complaining about the noise our circus makes, and for making the boys feel like a priority while you were here.  They are so lucky to have you.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Breakfast Buddies

I've tried. 

Really hard. 

I've failed.

It seems breakfast will never be a time to just eat your food
With three kids, there is always ONE to act up and TWO to laugh. 
Giggle.  Cackle.  Scream.  Verbally encourage.

So I've given up.

Given in.

Put away my "Boys... please just eat" and gotten out the camera.

Laughed along.

Apparently there's just something about a redhead that this momma can't resist.

Day 1:

video

Day 2:

video


Thursday, September 30, 2010

What's Happening...


Dylan - getting more and more mobile (shown here on top of Dad's laptop table)

Alex - tested for allergies (negative so far) and evaluated for asthma (positive)

All the Boys - played with out-of-state cousins at the Gateway Children's Museum

Adam & Alex - wrote their names in salt during "Activity Jar" time

Mom - appreciated the $10 gift card sent by Kohl's

Adam - taught Dylan how to roll a ball (Dylan didn't cooperate for long!)

Dad - scored bonus points by getting Mom a Sony Reader for her birthday

Dylan - experimented with various drinking methods (he prefers the dog water, but Mom insists on the new sippy)

Mom - sharpened her piano skills playing in a band for Footloose! (and is now taking lots of Ibuprofen to combat tendonitis)

On to October!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Book Collecting

I've never been a buyer of books (or of movies for that matter).  There are few books I've read - or movies I've seen - which I would ever read/watch a second time.  It's not that I haven't read books worthy of a second read-through.  I simply won't be interested in re-reading any until I've run out of new books to read, and that just isn't likely to happen.

Since I never intended to read the book again, I just didn't see the point in buying

Lately, however, I've started harboring this secret desire to own books.  Not to read them, necessarily, just to gaze at them on a shelf, peruse their titles, ocassionally pick them up to thumb through, and nostalgically recall what possessed me to own them in the first place.

Why?

I asked myself this question and decided the following are largely to blame:

1) I recently read two books recently about book collecting: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which I'd recommend, and The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, which I wouldn't.  Both idealized the idea of book ownership and made me want to own some of the books whose characters, plots, subjects, or morals affected me in some way.

2) I saw Alicia Michaelis's bookshelves, which house hundreds of her favorite books.  I commented on how much I envied her shelves, and her reply was, "I love my books."  I decided then and there that I want books of my very own to love.

But I don't want shiny, new books.  I want broken-in, interesting-to-look-at books with a bit of history.  I have no intentions of filling bookshelves with signed first-editions, but a nice, worn, read copy (hardcover if available) of each of these would thrill me to no end.  (Note to husband: when you read this, you can keep this as a future-Christmas-presents list if you'd like.  Hint, hint.)

Any and all Roald Dahl children's books starting with The BFG
Children of the Promise series
Alicia, My Story
Any and all books by Anne McCaffrey
The Book Thief
The Help
Harry Potter series
Flags of our Fathers
Summer of the Monkeys
The Girl Who Owned a City
The Chronicles of Narnia
A Wrinkle in Time Series
Fablehaven Series
The Giver
The Work and the Glory series
The Sword of Truth series

I'm hoping to get a chance to go wander through the shelves of Ken Saunder's Rare Book Store in Salt Lake City. 

Side Note: Yes, it has to be that store.  It was part of The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, and now I'm dying to check it out.

I'm captivated by the idea of finding treasures amongst someone else's cast off books.

Which books do you either own or long for?