More birthday fun!

We've had a grand total of maybe 10 sunny days all spring, and one of them happened to be on Nathan's birthday. Open presents outside on the picnic blanket? Don't mind if we do.

With no prompting from me, my kids have made it a tradition to buy each other presents at the dollar store. Nathan's been coveting this Madagascar coloring book, and Nicole thoughtfully got it for him. Awwww.


And we wrapped up the Annie just for good measure.

Ain't she cute?

Nathan is Six

Can you guess the theme of Nathan's birthday party this year? Some of you already saw his cake, since I had to call for help to make it come together the night before the party. The boy's got robots on the brain, and since he loves to build it was a perfect fit for his party. Here's the excited birthday boy on the day of the party:

Here's before the boys got to our house. We went with red and black with silver details. Those streamers were so easy and fun -- I stole the idea from Jordan Ferney at oh happy day.

Welcome to the Robot Workshop! Our building lab was stocked with nuts and bolts, pipe cleaners, duct tape, pom poms, and everything we saved from our recycling bin for a couple of weeks.

I LOVE projects like this one. All the boys came up with projects that were different and unique, and they built happily for a good 45 minutes while listening to some great tunes. Thanks to Vernon for having just the right building tricks to make these boys' robot dreams come to life!

Here's Nathan with his creation:

Easter Saturday and Sunday

Our family has some Easter traditions that are set in stone: egg coloring, egg hunt in the backyard (or house, if it's raining -- and we live in Oregon, so....), and of course church on Sunday. To help us be a little more spiritually focused this Easter season, we stole an idea from the April Friend magazine and read scriptures each night of the week before Easter Sunday that correlated with events in the Savior's life from that week. Then we raided our Gospel Art Picture kit for pictures and posted them on the wall to remind us of the things we'd learned during scripture study.

It was a simple exercise, and we did miss a night or two and have to catch up later, but I thought it was powerful for me in focusing my thoughts on the Savior during a week of fun and spring color. It reminded me of the scripture in 2 Nephi that says we talk of Christ, we teach of Christ, and we rejoice in Christ so that our children know Him better. Loved it!

Our Easter Saturday was mellow, sunny, and fun! One of our traditions is to do our egg hunt and egg dying on Saturday to keep Sunday open for family dinner and worship. So we grabbed our rare sunny afternoon and headed outside for egg hunting! Hooray for muck boots!

We had planned to do our annual Easter dinner of fish and cornbread (modern honeycomb) to commemorate the meal Jesus ate to prove He was alive again and not just a spirit as His disciples thought at first. But we moved it to Saturday night so we could spend Sunday evening with friends. So Sunday's main event was Easter dinner with good friends (no pics, sorry) and church with pretty dresses!

Going to church on Easter Sunday always reminds me of walking into a flower garden -- all the girls and ladies pull out color that's been socked away all winter. Love it!

Hope your Easter was a happy one!

To Blog, or Not to Blog

Guys, I think my blog might be dead.

I've been averaging about 3 posts a month, and I can't seem to pull ahead of that. There a lots of reasons why.

1. I'm not a natural shutter-bug.

Few of the photos I take seem share-worthy to me, and the most obvious subject for photos these days (Annie, of course) won't stay still for one! The minute I pull out the camera, she's commandeered it to see pics of the baby on the viewer in back. Forget trying to take more than one shot. Video is out of the question, too.

2. "Me fail English? That's un-possible!"

Maybe it's life with a toddler, but deep thoughts to share with the group are few and far between these days. There are probably funny anecdotes to be had, but by the end of the day, I'm too wiped out to write them.

3. Facebook killed the blog.

Posting there is faster. Shorter. Connected with more people. Takes so much less pondering. Gets more instant feedback.

4. That might not be a lot.

But it's enough. I think FB was the straw that broke the camel's back.

So I'm taking a self-imposed blog break. If I miss it after a few months, I'll come back.

Catch you on the flip side.


Spring, Come Soon

We're starting to go a little nuts with this dreary, gray, cold, icky, still-winter weather.

A snow day off from school last week made Nathan zip right outside to throw snowballs at the fence.

My "I have a fever" Nicole and "I have no boots" Annie had to make do with some snow gathered in from outside. It was Annie's first encounter with the stuff and she was understandably a little put off by it.

Not to mention the alien arm reaching across her face!

Oh, wait, that's Nicole. :)

After a bit, though, Annie warmed up to the experience (*snigger*) and was up to her elbows in slush.

(BTW, this method worked out great -- no snow clothes to put on and off and on and off, ad infinitum, no wet mittens, no soggy socks, no grumpy kids -- and only water to wipe up when we finished!)

So the kids are coping with winter pretty well.

If only I could say as much for their father.

We think he's gone a little....well.... mad.

See the crazy eyes? I'm worried.

On the other hand, this hat makes a great makeshift "headset" for our cordless phone.

Thanks, James, for the "inspiration."

P.S. Mom, I have video of Annie playing with the snow, but Blogger isn't letting me post it right now. So IOU two videos....

All I Want for...uh...St. Patrick's Day.... my two front teeth!

Groundhog, my foot

You know how I know that spring is on its way?

Daffodil sprouts at the neighbors' house.

Wacky, wacky weather! We had positively everything short of a tornado yesterday: snow in the morning turned to rain, then wind and sun, then mist and rainbows, then hail, then sunshine again. Be prepared for anything!

The slight increase in sunshine makes for a major upswing in my mood and my ambition for various projects. This usually manifests itself in my kitchen and in my craft room. Tuesday night, my ambitious self attempted cheese souffle for the first time.

Puffy, it was. Tasty, it was. Thought not as luscious as I'd imagined. Maybe next time.

Last but not least, I've been attempting to expand my crochet skills into the realm of kids' hats. I got a couple of patterns off Etsy, and this is Nicole's requested hat. The hat turned out well, I thought, but the model is really what makes it. :)

I really, really can't wait to try this one, though!

Harvey, do you need a new hat?

Annie: 18 months

I am: opinionated, bouncy, spunky, babbly (is that a word?)

?People say: I have great hair.

?I have: Twenty teeth, a booty that shakes, a maniacal belly laugh, wispy red hair that's getting longer (!)

?I can: show I'm one by holding up one finger, go most of the day without my binky, run surprisingly fast, try to jump (hilarious -- it's all about bending down really far and trying to throw myself skyward), do finger play songs such as "Wheels on the Bus" and "Book of Mormon Stories," go up and down stairs holding one of Mom's hands, walk backwards.

?I love: my fuzzy pink blankie, my love monkey, my Mom and Dad, Bubba, and Sis.

?Recently I've: dropped my morning nap (one long afternoon nap = yay!), started a baby music class with Mom, gone to the park with big brother and sis, walked to meet Bubba's kindergarten bus, gone to Seattle to visit my cousins, stayed in nursery by myself!

I don't like: the word "NO," being stuck in my carseat for too long, loud and crazy Cub Scouts

My regular day includes: waking up around 7am (on a good day), breakfast of jam toast, walking Bubba and Sis to school, playtime at exercise group or home, meeting Bubba's bus, lunch, nap from 1pm-3:30pm, snack, afternoon playtime, dinner, and bed at 8pm.

Mom's favorite things about me: my toddler words, my crazy-eyed smile, my brave side, kisses -- both on the cheek and blow kisses

Dad's favorite things about me: my wild belly laughs, my daredevil streak

Next month I'm looking forward to: getting more independent, learning more words so I don't have to say "AAH" to Mom so much, trips to the zoo during spring break.

Some notes on Annie this month: For your enjoyment, her current list of "words" --

Oof - Dog
Woo-wah - Elephant
Moo - Cow
Baa - Sheep
RAAR! - Lion
Aaagh! - Stop it!
Shoos - Shoes
Bubba - Nathan
Sis - Nicole
Doh - Door
Ap-puh - Apple
Bah - Ball
Mo - More

Happy 33!

Happy birthday to the love of the life, my very own Vernon (aka Redbeard the Pirate).
I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

I knew I loved you when I married you.
I knew you were a good man. A gentle man. A hard worker.
With a sly smile. And a quiet, snarky sense of humor.

I didn't know about the red beard.

But I had no idea
how much more I would come to love you.

Here's a birthday wish for you:

Let's have a great weekend.
Spice cake + cream cheese frosting with friends tonight
Great Chinese food tomorrow
(we celebrate with food a lot)
And lots of time apart

while you work on your HAM radio
and I stamp it up

Happy birthday!

(I just typed "virthday" twice. See? You get to me, V-dawg.)

To End as We Began

Okay, so we began the month with hair, and we're ending it with hair.


I'm on a self-induced hair-growing kick (for reasons too silly and convoluted to explain here), but suffice it to say that I made a goal for myself to grow my hair out till the summer. Mostly, it's the attraction of a ponytail that has me growing.



Resolution is slipping. My hair has reached what I consider to be it's most annoying length: almost-shoulder-length. Too long to be short, too short to be long, it even got trimmed recently and still doesn't seem to have any real shape or interest.

So here's where you come in.

Do I keep growing my hair, so I'll look like this:

Or do I cut it (my current leaning) and look like this:


Holiday sparkle

Sometimes a girl needs a new look for the holidays. Nicole's been begging for months to cut her hair -- and I've been stalling her, knowing that a big haircut takes a long time to recover from if you don't like how it turns out. :) But my girl was adamant, and getting rid of the twice-weekly bath battle with snarls and hair dryer sounded good to me, so we took the plunge!

Here's the before:

And here's after:

I think it totally suits her -- brings out her sassy. :)

And just for fun, don't you love sparkly shoes?

Lauren -- shiny with ruffle; Katie -- gold glitter; Nicole -- sequins in Valentine's colors

Christmas spirit

I know I'm late getting Christmas stuff up, but I got a new computer and didn't know how to get pics from my camera to the laptop. BUT, thanks to Vernon, we're up and ready now, so I can share our fond memories. Aren't you glad?

First step to getting the Christmas spirit in our house: baking! We're working on Christmas sugar cookies (in between Vernon baking bread for toast) as the first goodie in our lineup. The kids LOVE this activity, especially using every cookie cutter in the house (including some not exactly Christmas-related -- hammer for the holidays, anyone?).

Second, we need lots of Christmas music to set the holiday mood. My favorite thing this year was watching my kids dance in circles, holding hands, and stomping to the beat!

Last, but not least, we need a tree! Since we live in a state that is FULL of Christmas tree farms, we always go cut our own. Here are Nathan and Nicole enjoying our handiwork.

We had a great Christmas, and hope you did, too!

Annie: Sixteen Months

Ooh! We've entered one of my very favorite parts of childhood: Babytalk!

Annie is starting to acquire words. Very cute, very odd words. And I'll share a few now. I'll warn you ahead of time, most of them are animal noises, which tells you one of the girl's main interests at the moment. :)

Oof - Dog
Doo-doo-doo - Rooster
Woo-wah - Elephant
Moo - Cow
RAAR! - Lion
Aaagh! - Stop it!
Shoos - Shoes

She can also identify body parts, walk on her tiptoes, and follow simple directions. She makes an excellent vacuum cleaner, finding every little piece of junk on my floor and taking it to the trash can.

One last thought. The girl is developing a maniacal laugh that is part roar, part belly-laugh (RAAH-HA-HA-HA). When I was little, I used to say I wanted to grow up to be a lion. Well, if I couldn't do it, this girl CAN.

Power to the people.

And the big cats.

30DT: Day 24

Day 24:

In honor of my baby, who barfed last night, today I'm grateful for my washer and dryer.

Seriously, can you imagine doing baby laundry all by hand??? Diapers, sheets, clothes, bibs, you name it and at some point my ancestors (and lots of people in other countries today) are washing them by hand. In water they hauled themselves, or in the stream, or wherever. But definitely not heated right out of a tap.


30DT: Day 23

Day 23:

Today, I'm grateful for my DVR.

I'm so spoiled. TV shows recorded on demand, playlists for the kids, total control of when and what we watch. Love it SO MUCH.

30DT: Day 22

Day 22:

Today, I'm grateful for a healthy body.

Sure, it's got its foibles, and now that I'm thirty there are things that aren't quite the same as they used to be. But I'm still powerful in so many ways. Here are a few things I'm thankful for:

Hands that hold on while crossing the street. That chop vegetables and shape dough. That smooth hair and wipe away tears. That pick up that binky for the eighth time this morning.

Legs that walk and run and climb stairs. That boogie during Zumba. That hoof it through the rain while walking kids to school. That bend and stretch and climb in and out of the car over and over.

Arms that carry babies. That heft grocery bags and purses and diaper bags. That hug my honey.

Eyes that give me freedom to move in the world. Sure they need contacts or glasses, but they're still eyes that let me drive to visit family. That relish in golden fall leaves. That spot the first flakes of snow that pelt our sidewalk. That watch Annie dance and spin in circles.

Ears that hear so much, all at once. The cry of my baby, the holler of kids home from school, the whir of the washing machine, the slosh of the dishwasher, the patter of rain on the rooftop. The music of Christmas and every other season.

There are certainly more parts to be grateful for. How about you? What did you do with your body today?

30DT: 20 and 21

Days 20 and 21:

Today, I'm grateful for friends!

Especially friends who don't judge or criticize when I fall short of my blogging goal. :) I'm blessed with friends both near and far who build me up, encourage me, remind me how to be kind and generous, inspire me to live the gospel more fully, and teach me how to be a mother. I wish I had pics of all you girls, but you know who you are!

30DT: Day 19

Day 19:

Today, I'm grateful for NPR.

Wow, I sound like a geek

But I can't hide it. Ever since we moved to Oregon, I guess public radio love comes in the water like fluoride, cuz I can't get enough. My kids will probably curse it later on in life (just like I did Crystal Gale, Patsy Cline, and Willy Nelson when my parents listened to them) because it's on very, very frequently in the car.

Nathan especially enjoys "Talk of the Nation," and Nicole's a devoted "Car Talk" fan. As for me, I can't live without my weekly podcast of "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me." LOVE IT.

30DT: Day 18

Day 18:

Today, I'm thankful for good cookies.

Last night, I made oatmeal scotchies. Over the weekend, we made brownies. And I wonder why I can't get the last 5 pounds off after having 3 kids.....

I learned my love of cookies from my mama. Each week when I was growing up, we spent Sunday afternoons in the kitchen making cookies for family night. We did this week in and week out, whether or not family night actually occurred. :) But the result is that now, Sunday means baking for me and my kids. Some of our favorite cookies include:

  • Cashew cookies with browned butter frosting
  • Chocolate cookies with chocolate frosting
  • Mom's sugar cookies
  • Oatmeal scotchies (Mom actually doesn't like these, but I do)
  • Peanut butter cookies
  • Chocolate chip cookies

The chocolate chip cookies are a bit tragic, though. I ADORE my mom's chocolate chip cookie recipe, but ever since I moved to Oregon my chocolate chip cookies are flat as pancakes. My friend Mary Lou makes the same cookies from the same recipe and they turn out flawless. My oven? Forget it. Boo.

Now I'm depressed.

I think I'll go eat a cookie.

30DT: Day Seventeen

Day Seventeen:

Today, I'm thankful for great teachers.

Besides your parents, who besides a teacher gets to leave such an enormous imprint on your mind and life when you're a kid? So far, my kids have had some great teachers, and I had a LOT of them -- lucky me. Here are a couple who stand out:

  • Stephanie Hinckley: My piano teacher for ten years. Tough but fair, solid music theory educator, owner of gorgeous baby grand piano.... She made me work hard and see that I was capable of more than I thought.
  • Mrs. Nelson: How sad that I don't remember her first name, because Mrs. Nelson introduced us to Robert Frost and Paul Gauguin. She organized puppet theater productions (I still remember the smell of the papier mache). Reading, writing, 'rithmetic, and a good dose of the arts.
  • Ed Duncan and Barbara Kuehl: They're a team in this list cuz they were always a team in my head. Physics and math tag team extraordinaire, they stretched my brain in ways I didn't know existed. Me not remembering how to integrate or draw a vector diagram is definitely not their fault. :)

Who are your favorite teachers? Your kids' favorite teachers?