Monday, April 27, 2009

Assorted April

I just uploaded waaaaay too many pictures to bother arranging them chronologically, so instead I present you with a disjointed, scatterbrained partial-summary of our recent doings.

Here is my dream bedroom, maybe minus the wallpaper, but even that is growing on me. If I ever have unlimited resources I will, like I do with all my crafting projects, point-blank copy every angle of this room, thank you very much IKEA.

Saturday for Kyle's birthday, while Kjerstin and her roomie magnanimously took the kids to Thanksgiving Point's baby farm animal birthday party (pictured somewhere in this post), Kyle and I carpe diem-ed our way to Tucanos, a deliciously carnivorous Brazilian grill buffet. Kyle had never been and I only once, but they actually give an entire free birthday meal that we were not about to miss. That piece of meat on my fork there left absolutely nothing left to desire. I seriously can't describe it. It was like it was marinated in the most juicy, flavorful, and yet positively simple sauce... like maybe meat juice? See, shouldn't have tried to describe it.

We consumed our monthly allowance of protein and waddled out of there supremely satisfied. Actually, my real train of thought was something like, "You know, I could stuff more food in... so I should, right? Am I shaming my mother by walking out on a buffet with my pants still buttoned?"

I know, I know, fruit cake for a birthday? Kyle wanted a ukulele for his birthday, but that wasn't gonna happen, so I thought I'd try to appease him with a cake-u-lele. I put butter and brown sugar at the bottom of the pan so it'd be all ukulele-colored when I flipped it, but it never ended up coming out of the pan. Flat out refused, even with the whole stick of butter down there. I'd already sliced off the cake top to flatten it, so frosting it became a disaster, and so ukulele-less fruit cake it became.

Thanks to the 72-hour emergency kit in Kjerstin's car, these candles found fire. Erik was a little nervous about all the flames. Good thing he's only got two to fret over with his upcoming cake.

A little later our ward friends L & D came over with their three uber-duber cute boys. Ellie chased C around trying to hug him for a good while. It starts...

Not sure what's up with this new vampire face.

Today's first attempt at craftiness turned into 30 seconds of messy entertainment for the kids and me completing the project. Sometime I think I should just stick to crayons. Those hairy balloons are actually supposed to get popped and the yarn flipped over, transforming into beautiful, even functional(!) birdie nests. I'm about 98% sure that they'll just collapse into heaps of gooey yarn, so I'm choosing NOT to pop the balloons for a little while, just until I'm over the high expectations I had for this project.

Attempt #2 at crafting went much better, with Ellie piecing together this sweet little blossom tree,

and Erik turning out this work of art. Actually he was only interested in gluing on the tree trunk, applying plenty of glue on top of the trunk, and then dropping the gluestick caps down the "slide" (stair banister), but this kept him entertained enough for me to nostalgically finish the tree. This was a beloved grade school art project of mine, after all.

I seriously didn't photograph this because I'm proud of my cleverness and/or craftiness. It's pretty pathetic, actually. I was going to chug the rest of our bottled water and do that whole sand and seashells and message in a bottle thing for Erik's party invitations, but then Kjerstin reminded me that Erik is only turning two and will hold no grudge if I, instead, spend $0 and 20 minutes cutting out something cheesy and simple like these jellyfish. You know how I love to make a bigger deal of things than they need to be, but here I recognized she was very right. As for going overboard on the rest of the birthday party, wait two weeks and you will see... as of yet, I have no intention of simplifying a thing. =)

Saturday after Easter we loved celebrating Easter again with the Williams, who delayed festivities until Miche and her kids' arrived from AZ. I haven't spent Easter at my parents' home since high school, and Ken and Marilyn have been wonderful to have us over for Easter all the years since (complete with egg hunt, even pre-children!). Marilyn always puts together the cutest baskets, chalk full of pasteled splendor. I can hardly believe Michelle and I are about to have our 6th child together, separately. You know. We were hopeless and helpless little freshies at BYU only seven short years ago. Actually, that seems like forever ago. I'm so happy she decided to copy me and also have a girl and then two boys so we can force the six of them to be best friends.

The other week Erik "tried on" my glasses while I was taking a little snooze on the floor, I mean responsibly attending to my children, and now I only have working contact lenses to my name. It was time he get his own pair to destroy.

Erik collected a grand total of two eggs during the hunt and Asher needed a whole cheer squad directing him in order to collect his bucket of loot, but the competition was fierce between Kimberley and Ellie.

But not too fierce to foster any hard feelings. They both walked out of that yard two pounds in chocolate richer, after all. Oh yeah, Marilyn bought the girls matching dresses when we moved to UT in January, not at all with the expectation that they'd ever get to wear them together. Life surprises me with its kindness sometimes.

Easter dinner was fabulous, of course. The rolls that taste like whipped butter, the mashed yams that taste like thick, creamy butter, and the fresh fruit salad that doesn't taste like butter at all but is just about as scrumptious as life gets.

So yeah, as you may have noticed, Michelle is back in the valley for a time while her house in Tucson sells and her hubby in Denver kills bugs. Reunion time! Na is regrettably out of here in a week or so, but we still had 4/5 of us in one room for an afternoon. We missed Cathi, but loved being together just like old times. Just like old times give or take six little munchkins, of course.

As a soon-to-be mother of three babies, I must rejoice in seemingly small accomplishments. For instance, last week Ellie was able to buckle herself into her car seat without assistance. The bottom part of the buckle had given her grief for some time. This means that after Charlie is born and Ellie is relegated (or promoted) to back row status, I will not need to climb in there after her to secure her. This development was worth eating out at Subway in honor of. (whoa, bad grammar there...) Plus, Ellie did explain, "When I'm resurrected I'll live in heaven with Jesus and then I'll tell Jesus, "I can buckle my seat belt all by myself!" and He will be so proud." As are we, Ellie.

I love Kjerstin. She makes my kids happy when I am too grumpy and/or lazy to do so. Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Here I intended to capture one of those rare, magical moments in which the kids are peacefully collaborating on a common goal, such as reading "The Little Engine that Could," Erik's all-time fave piece of literature. Ellie's got it memorized and that makes my storytelling role a little easier. By the time I took this shot, however, Erik was about to rip the book from Ellie's hands. But maybe it was appropriately at the part where the little blue engine "tugged and pulled, and pulled and tugged..."

Okay so here's where our kids were while we gorged on juicy barbecued tenderloins at Tucanos. The report was that Erik would've been content to hang out with the farm life straight through the afternoon showers, but Ellie pretty much had her heart set on pony ride and pony ride only.

Horses were probably her close second, though.

I wasn't there, so I'm not positive that he wasn't just caught in the middle of a sneeze, but my educated guess is that Erik was stoked to meet a real sheep in real life. Sheep and sharks are where it's at in his book of awesomeness, right under yellow trucks and the colors brown and black.

You may have noticed that not a single craft (Tiff craft, that is) made it into this post. Don't worry, my crafting to-do list is alive and well, although my common cold immunities are not (perhaps Utah's seven month long winter is not helping???) and fetus has recently decided that he'd like me to get ten hours of sleep from now on out (including falling asleep time, that is), but if everything goes according to my crafty little plan, this weekend will be centered around crazy crafting madness. Time's a ticking, after all. If I have this baby as early as I did Ellie, a week from yesterday I will be the mother of three. Erik still needs his birthday party on the 9th, though, so I refuse to believe that will happen. I am determined to make it to June (so I am full term and can deliver at the birth center), although ideally no more than a day or two in. =)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter festivities

It was one of the best weekends I can remember having. If I have to include the entire realm of festivities, Christmas is of course my favorite holiday, but Easter still comes in a close second. I love the inspiration for the holiday, and the spring weather and colors put just as much magic in the air for me as Christmas lights. The kids and I warmed up to Easter with some springtime crafts:

Actually, Kjerstin helped the kids make these handprint-cutout lilies while I was running errands for the Easter bunny. Such a cute idea and my heart really did swell up when Ellie presented me with the bouquet and reported back to Kjerstin that I really, really loved them.

Egg decorating and dying (or is it dyeing? looks much less severe) was a must.

Erik's creations included the spider web design (which he achieved simply by banging the eggs on the table--brilliant!), all shades of brown (color indecisiveness), and the one on the right, affectionately referred to as "Daddy." Oh yeah, and I don't know how those two stripes ended up on the dyed eggs, but it definitely wasn't due to Erik coloring in a straight line.

Ellie's proud creations include a self-egg (she even gave it a haircut that she thought most resembled her own) and some classic crayon combos. It was surprisingly easy and not terribly messy, and even a little hard to peel and eat some of them because they were so cute (Ellie and Daddy eggs remain untouched in the fridge).

Here's a project I really thought could be a family affair. I just cut out scraps of green ribbon and orange fabric, sewed them up, and let the kids stuff the carrots. They were interested in stuffing maybe half of a carrot each, so it ended up being another Mom project, but a fun hide-and-seek activity, especially preparatory to the egg hunts.

I'm on that felt food hiatus, but that doesn't mean I'm forsaking felt altogether now! In my mind, these were going to be perky bunny ears, but floppy is pretty realistic, too. Erik's really into wearing Ellie's headbands, so I thought I'd give him an excuse to do it in public. He even wore his ears to church.

This was my big Easter project and I would do a lot of things differently second time around, but for having to make my own pattern (and that included geometry in the wee hours of the night) and following mediocre internet instructions, they turned out well enough. Now we have Easter baskets worth storing for 11 months of the year.

We decided to brave a community egg hunt on Saturday (in the pool, no less), but only because it was divided by age groups and Ellie would be at top agility for her egg hunt. We were more than a little disappointed when we scampered into the pool and discovered that all of the floating eggs were EMPTY...

but then our eyes caught this:

Like the cut-throat, pseudo-Asian parents that we are, we quickly indoctrinated Ellie until she knew nothing but that the golden egg must be retrieved. All the eggs may be empty, but an empty golden egg would leave no room for shame. So, upon the whistle's blow, Kyle half-placed, half-thrust Ellie into the pool toward the golden egg. Our baby girl delivered.

With Erik's help, she also collected seven empty eggs. We were so proud. Especially once we found out that the empty eggs do translate into bags of candies and the golden egg scored us a new soccer ball and t-shirt. Woohoo! Murray Parks and Rec, you did not disappoint.

That night we had the rare treat of going out together on pretty much the coolest date night ever. Our wonderful friends J & C invited us to join them with court side tickets to the Jazz game.

We enjoyed a scrumptious catered buffet before and I brought down to our seats enough desserts to feed the entire basketball team. We were so excited to be sitting so close to the court (all that separated us from the sweaty players was a row of security guards, but we could still smell them).

Everything was great until these four intoxicated bozos sat down behind us and started being all manner of obnoxious, commencing with spilling an entire glass of beer down C's nice sweater, dry-clean-only shirt, and onto her leather boots, and escalating into inconceivably profane threats at J for his very controlled comment on their bothersome behavior.

Here's just a drop of evidence. Above is one of the many empty beer cups those kids cleaned out during the game. Below is some of the damage, but you really can't tell how nasty it was, and you'd really have to ask C how nasty it feels to have a huge cup of beer spilled down your pants to get a feel for it.

This was all very vexing, disturbing, and frightening, as you may imagine, and really ruined the game for J & C. Thankfully, J & C sat somewhere else for the second half and the drunken losers toned it down after half time (one of them commented: "That guy who's [mad] at us totally changed his clothes on us. They both changed clothes! I could have sworn the stripes were vertical. No, no, that's [totally] him, but...") and then Kyle explained that they had traded seats. Wow, really drunk. Really stupid. Really offensive. Really stinky, too. Nevertheless, after the potty-mouth losers left, the game was really enjoyable and even though we were losing the entire game except for the first few minutes, we were determined to make the most of a one-time opportunity and really did love it. It's amazing how much smaller the arena feels when you're on the court instead of in the nose bleeds. Somehow the players looked less intimidating, more real. We felt awful for J & C and what they had to go through, but we're still really grateful they invited us --we had a very memorable time.

Easter morning the kids were not even mildly interested in seeing whether or not the Easter bunny had paid them a visit (I think because Mish and I were actually the ones to put the bunny-luring carrots on the porch and place the kids' Easter baskets out, poised for getting goody-packed)...

...but the mention of treats finally enticed them to investigate and indeed, the Easter bunny had been generous enough to fill their baskets with craft supplies that I already wanted (for crafts I plan to do with them). That Easter bunny is so sharp, I tell you.

Erik quickly complied to donning his new Easter ensemble ("new" meaning snagged off consignment store clearance racks, of course), but for Ellie, it was an ordeal.

Grandma Larsen may be the only one who remembers this dress because I bought it in MN when Ellie was only a couple months old. For some strange reason, Kyle resisted this purchase at the time, as if purchasing outfits 3.5 years in advance isn't endearingly prudential. It was $6 and, at the time, I was sure it was the prettiest dress in the world. Finally Ellie fits into some 3T clothes, and I had been waiting for this moment, so when Ellie slipped it on and then immediately off, declaring it "itchy and hurty," I was more than a little disgruntled, but not at all deterred. An embarrassing amount of bribing, coaxing, threatening and sweet-talking later, plus consenting to putting a white t-shirt under it to counteract the itchiness, I present you with the Easter vision I've dreamed of for three years:

Mish and I put on a thorough Easter feast (that I naturally neglected to photograph until we had boxed up most of it) which included ham with homemade glaze, mashed red potatoes, carrot souffle, deviled eggs (Kjerst brought some, too), fruit salad, green bean casserole (compliments of Noe & Mark), homemade rolls (compliments of Kjerst), strawberry swirl cake, and black-bottom-cherry-cheesecake. Yes, it was as good as it sounds.

We ate until we all looked pregnant (j/k guys) and then decided the kids hadn't consumed enough sugar and put on an Easter egg hunt around the living room. They were all plastic eggs so it's okay if we keep finding them in the coming days. Kyle and I also gave the kids "My First Old Testament Stories" picture board book. We read a story from the Book of Mormon one every night before bed and Ellie has all the stories memorized (I kid you not, and I mean verbatim) so it was time for a fresh set. I've loved teaching them about the resurrection over the past couple of weeks and preparing for this Easter in spiritual and temporal ways. We were so grateful to spend it with friends and family, and look forward to extending the holiday into this week when we'll celebrate with the Williams'!

I also want to give a shout out to my dad who turned one year older yesterday. All he got from me was the coordinating of a speaker-phone birthday song rendition and a couple hours of lively conversation, but that was no indication of what the man actually deserves. He is as kind, caring, wise, and lovable as a father could be, if not more. He has been the anchor of my understanding of manhood since I was a child, which is why I think I was able to marry so well. I have only ever seen him be an unselfish and devoted husband and father. He is the father every girl dreams of having, and I love and appreciate him more and more all the time. Happy birthday, Fa.