Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving back.

This is my first attempt at video ever. Yes, it's obviously the work of amateurs. Sorry about the glare from the window.

Matthew very kindly stopped his couch house construction for the filming, but wanted to make sure his leg appeared in it. Did you see it?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It's not too late to celebrate Halloween, is it?

Since my neighbors are in the thick of hanging Christmas wreaths and lights, I thought I'd put up some pix of our October festivities to even things out. [I should acknowledge that I assigned my piano students Christmas music 2 weeks ago and have been sneaking some things out myself.]

I read in the Washington Post that Mark brought home this Thursday, that Christmas has been creeping up earlier and earlier every year. The article reviewed papers over the past 100 years and preparing "early" for Christmas back in the day was considered 2 weeks before Christmas. I think we have a lot more activities associated with the holiday now, so you really need more time to celebrate it. Similarly, Halloween has become almost a month long holiday.

In TX, everyone is so excited for fall's arrival and summer's departure that pumpkin patches, Halloween and autumn decor, fall festivals and the like blow into action before the weather's really even cooled off. It was better for temperature this year, but it always amazes me the extent my neighborhood gets into their Halloween decorations- both spooky and cutesy. There are a lot of things you can do, so it makes it a fun month and these pictures reflect some of the things we did. Just be glad I didn't include them all.

Here's Mark and the kids carving out the enormous Jack-O-Lantern for Family Night one Sunday. Blogger limited my pictures so I can't show you the finished product.

The Kindergarten classes took a field trip to the Arboretum. Here's Katrina lovin on Miss Lawson, whom she adores to the point of wanting to buy her cherry cokes at every opportunity (Miss Lawson's favorite drink).

Katrina at the Arboretum (the sun got hot at the end of the day)

Max amidst all kinds of pumpkins. He was a very happy tagalong!

Matthew and Katrina in a dude Pumpkin House at the Arboretum

We have a lot of Pumpkin Patches around us, with lots of things for kids to climb on and rides and bounce houses and whatnot:
The kids driving the tractor. If the girls look like they're in pjs, it's because they are. You can't dress in costume for Halloween (religious groups frown on celebrating the holiday within the school context), but you can dress in pjs for Red Ribbon Week.

Then is the famed Halloween night for trick or treating!

Mark & trickertreaters. Matthew- Spider Man. Felicity-Asian Princess. Max-Lion. Katrina- Angel (w/ mask)

Max holding the lion tail in his sleep after trick or treating

Max was wiped out and fell asleep before the evening was over. We had another party to go to, what a champ he was to attend. Because of Blogger, I couldn't include pictures from Matthew's preschool party, my pumpkin dinner, the work party (Max was a dragon for that one), or from the costume party that Mark and I attended. We were a s'more. He wanted to be the chocolate, but we just went with our natural colors and I was the marshmallow. We used cabinet doors for the graham crackers.

So November 1, we were Halloweened out. No wonder it took me so long to post.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A 6 Year Old Bean

A couple of Saturdays ago, I took the older 3 kids shoe shopping. The girls needed some new Sunday shoes and Matthew needed some shoes that he could put on without any assistance from me (We are exiting sandal season). Felicity knows that cost is a key component for shopping and found some shoes she liked that were dressy, classic, and on sale!!! She was all set. Matthew was looking at all of the different character shoes and likewise found something that worked in our price range. Meanwhile, Katrina was trying on all of the shoes, especially the fancy ones with all kinds of things going on.

Showing off "Lucille" for the Book Character Pumpkin Parade

I am rather a plain Jane kind of girl- no pierced ears, makeup on the way to church, and most days in jeans and a simple shirt. While I admire those who have the sense of style to pair zany shoes with a very different outfit, that's never been in my comfort zone and I don't know what to do with those clothes, let alone accessories. I'm trying to branch out, but my history has been that shoes are neutral colors, especially black. I tend to encourage the same in my children. But as it should be, Katrina is her own girl.

Miss Independence Riding a 2 Wheeler!! (in soccer uniform, minus the shin guards & cleats)

She liked the glittery shoes, the animal prints, the heels, the jewels, the spray gold/silver/metallic looks, and tried them all on. A good fit was not enough, however. After trying them on, she'd run over to the tiled section of the store "to see how they sound." What! You don't buy shoes based on how they sound! Well, maybe I don't, but she was ready to. In fact, some that she really liked had a "boring" sound, which disqualified them. Of course none of her pairs were on sale, or at least on sale enough to tempt me if I were a size 12 1/2. But it was her birthday in a few days and I was trying to give her the freedom to choose. We put a pair she loved on hold and also tried another store, with similar results. Thankfully her favorite out of the group was reasonably priced and we bought them in time to wear for the Primary (kids) Program the next day in church.

Her birthday was the following Tuesday, and of course she wanted to wear the new shoes to school with a dress to celebrate the day. Thankfully, I had sneaked some cute, clearanced, school shoes into the purchases on Saturday night that made a good gift for Katrina. They went well with the dress, lucky for me and for those fancy shoes that would have gotten pretty scuffed on the playground.

No longer in the Disney Princess stage, but still a princess in that she knows she is beautiful, loved, unique, intelligent, and wants to reflect that in her appearance. I recognize that "Princess" has become somewhat of a negative word with connotations of spoiled, picky, lazy, etc. However, there are good aspects of the title, which part I hope she chooses. I love my feminine little girl and her original personality. And I am grateful for her affectionate personality, who tells me several times a day that she loves me, gives hugs and kisses, and says "I'm so glad you're my mommy."

To which I respond, "I'm so glad you're my Bean."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My voice is my passport; validate me

OK enough already, it's time for a new post. It's time to crawl out from my hole of painting and sick baby-tending. I'm going to post 3 times by the time this week is over. Just so ya know, Sunday is the end of my mental week, based from a misunderstanding from early childhood until I was in high school.

My earlier post about what makes me feel good about myself as a wife made me start thinking about other illogical connections to my job performance as a friend or mother. This whole thought process was started years ago by my sister-in-law Kristie, when she was living on Long Island in Bayville, NY, 38 miles away from us in Jersey City, NJ. Baby Felicity and I were visiting her and their 3 (at the time) girls one fine day. We drove into Oyster Bay in the afternoon and the sun was shining. Kristie said, "Oh no, it's a beautiful day and we haven't been outside. I always feel like a bad mom when that happens." I thought, "?!?!?"

But now I completely understand.
If I'm a good mom, then...

My children play outside and/or go on a walk
I make cookies or they help me cook something
I read to them for great lengths of time

We eat well-balanced meals that involve lots & lots of fruits and veggies

My children watch no or very little TV/movies

And do lots of jobs, in and outside

We have a good scripture study/song/prayer with NO FIGHTING

My children do not have cereal for breakfast

Use their imaginations while playing

They bathe

I clean something besides the kitchen for the 842nd time that week

We have a learning activity that actually gets cleaned up afterwards

Their rooms are clean
Lots of hugs and kisses

I feel I am a good friend when:

I watch their children

They come for dinner

I have the ingredient they're missing for their dinner

We talk on the phone and it is neither too long nor too short (so they know I care, but I'm not taking up their whole day, either)

I attend their event (baby shower, softball game, dance performance, whatever)

My Christmas/birthday card actually arrives on time (or I remember it at all)

They let me serve them in some way (do their dishes/organize pantry/teach their Primary class while they're on vacation)

They laugh while we're together

They tell me about their problems
I have a recipe they want, and actually remember to give it to them

I read their blogs/email forwards (some of these are more fun than others)

These lists are not all-inclusive, and obviously there are some things that are beyond my control. (Like having the capers my neighbor needs for her lemon chicken? or my children actually putting their undies in the hamper without my prompting? ) For some silly reason, those things are like little gold stars on my report card. However, knowing that I cannot determine the outcomes, I'm trying not to get hung up on these things.... since I never accomplish everything on the list anyway, and some days are better than others. But it's still interesting to reflect on what validates.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sweet Tooth

Mark is the original baked good lover. Remember when we were making all those desserts and I blogged about them? Yeah, and I didn't even include the carrot cake and the cookies that were also made that week. Well that was all when Mark was home. He didn't travel for 2 weeks, and has a high expectation of desserts, so that's why I gained 5 lbs in those 2 weeks. Since Mark started his job with Deloitte, he has had to find other sources to satisfy his sweet tooth since he's not home for dessert 4 nights a week. And I tend to be pretty tired and not into baking several times a week in a typical week, so Mark found a new friend in baked goods.

So the solution is.... Swirl Bakery. Kind of pricey, but he just doesn't eat on Thursdays, and then when he gets off the plane at DFW airport, he takes a taxi directly to the bakery and then home. And he expenses the whole bill, because he hasn't used any of his daily allotment for traveling meals. However, he's on a new case which has complicated matters. The client has dictated that No Consultant Shall Board a Flight Prior to 6 pm. And since he's flying from DC, that means the bakery is closed before he can get there. Yesterday he phoned the bakery and gave them the permission and credit card number so that I could come pick up the goods.

In the middle of making corn chowder, I loaded the children into the minivan and we trucked into Swirl Bakery. We waited our turn (Max & I did anyway- the others were dancing around and climbing on things) and when I got to the front of the line, I said, "My husband called..." That's it. That's all I said.
"Oh, YOU'RE his wife?" the girl behind the counter said, looking surprised.
"Do you know who I am talking about? Do you know which person my husband is?" -I was a little taken aback.
"Do I know who he is??? Of COURSE I know who he is! He comes every week, just as I'm trying to close. Sometimes we've locked the door and he makes me come unlock it and let him to buy stuff."

She explained their conversation and told me that there was a $35 limit. I tried pretty hard not to laugh as we made our selections and she gave us feedback like, "he really likes the Italian cream cake, but we don't have any today. Get this instead, he likes this..." She was astonished at how little we bought. I guess we disappointed her with the low sales, not even getting halfway to the budget limit. The children sure enjoyed picking out their own treats and bugging the poor elderly couple eating dinner in the cafe. Each child has inherited their parents' sugar addiction. In fact, they were very motivated to get their jobs done when we got home in anticipation of the dessert. Funny how little time it actually takes to clean the toyroom and bedrooms when a sweet reward is in store. Matthew didn't even need help picking up the trains, tools, or laundry!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Look! Bullet points! I have Power Point potential yet!

I feel good about myself when my husband watches football. Strange, totally illogical, yet true.

See, my mother is a sports widow. She hates television and would prefer to unplug it forever, except that she loves my father and he enjoys a few shows. Growing up, we were allowed to watch tv only:

  • On Saturday mornings before 9 am (which I have only recently discovered is a way of sleeping in when you have small children)
  • General Conference (worldwide church mtg held twice a year)
  • Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers, maybe Today's Special if you're lucky
  • Sports
Oh yes and piano lessons. Mom let us watch one of the days she taught piano, but in the middle of 6 boys, I was seriously outnumbered, so I would take a pass on Thundercats and Transformers and opted to play with friends or read. Even Saturday morning cartoons were wanting when my older brothers wanted to watch Dungeons & Dragons instead of Alvin & the Chipmunks. They never wanted to watch the Smurfs or other shows I was into.

But Saturday afternoons, Monday night football after FHE, Friday night basketball games, World Series, March Madness, the tv could get turned on without fear of raising the ire of our mother because Dad liked sports. I'm sure there were times that spectator sports drove her crazy (New Year's Day comes to mind), but hour after hour of time outs in the fourth quarter persisted on a fall afternoon. Many of my brothers used this to their advantage. Craig watched all sports, from golf and bowling to tennis and baseball. You have to really love the game to keep your brain from turning to mush after a marathon day of staring at the tv. I watch the US Open every year, but after an hour or two I am DONE. At least with the Olympics, you get some variety in sport. And that is not all! You still have two papers to read and the stats to go through and compare and contrast, not to mention BYU sportsline emails and internet crunching and munching. They are experts and can recall stats and games and athletes. They even named stuffed animals after key figures of the day.

So when I got married, I expected that Mark, my former football/basketball/volleyball playin man would be devoting hours to it. After all, that is what his dad does- every day after work, he retires to his room and watches a game or two or five. But Mark largely gave it up, since our weekends are busy or we're trying to spend time together. I wouldn't even think about it until fall was half over and he'd flip on a game for a few minutes. He does love tv, but usually he goes for shows I want to watch too, or action movies.

This year, he got scolded by a truly devoted fellow Bama-fan at church and I realized that it's mostly because of me... and my "to do" list and date night and Daddy Alone Time w/ each child every Saturday.

So, wanting to give him a little leisure time, I went and found a few games and turned them on, hoping to lure him into the room. And he actually spent a few minutes in front of the tv. In fact, we spent last Saturday night putting together our newest Ikea find while watching the Cougs make a comeback and then Texas Tech coming back for an amazing finish against #1 ranked Texas. Not that I cared who won, but it made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. (Especially since Mark did NOT want to put together that dresser and did NOT want me to buy anything from Ikea in the first place. But hey, it's for the boys, it'll be trashed in 2 years, why spend $400 on it?)

I know this could come back to haunt me, and it still might. Yet, I am grateful that my husband has watched a little football this season because it means that I am a good wife.

It makes me wonder, what other illogical things make people feel validated as a good wife/husband/sister/brother/mother/father/aunt/nephew/ whatever?