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.