Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hopefully my last post sans Charlie

Four-month-old Rowan provides a little foreshadowing for us all... a few months down the road, will E & E still be smiling and shmoozing our own Usurper-of-Mom's-attention???

In the here and now, though, the kids seem almost as excited as me to have our own "Row Buddy" (the nickname Elle affectionately bestowed on our friend's little chub). Ellie comes into our room almost every morning, sees my tummy and exclaims, "Mom, I'm so sad that Charlie hasn't come yet!" Believe me, girl, I am much sadder. All I dream of (asleep and awake) is labor and delivery, and awaking to my still-obtuse state each morning is a relentless disappointment.

A wonderful weekend whizzed by, as we knew it would. Kyle's parents detoured from TX and are now headed back to MN, but we loved our three days together immensely. Much dessert was consumed, many chalk murals were created, little sleep was had, but there sure was a whole lotta love. Miss you both already. Living far away from relatives is the pits. Ellie was inconsolable when they left, and all we could say was, "We can write them a letter and talk on the phone. We'll see Grandma and Grandpa again. Next year-ish." Sadness pie.

I paid $4 for the cake hat and now I get to embarrass whomever dares celebrate a birthday within the walls of my home. I plan to make it an inflexible tradition.

I had really hoped and truly even expected this would be a seven-bodied family picture. Charlie's been such a tease with all the false labor he's responsible for, but alas, the kid was downright too comfortable in there to bother meeting his grandparents.

Mom helped me finish this cushion with some embroidery. I was planning on letting hot glue and felt stand the test of time, but wow it looks much better now. Birdies speak (or tweet?) peace to me. Can't get enough of them, in feathered and fabricated form.

Here are the other pillows now adorning our sofas. The two big ones I just threw together with IKEA-purchased material, and the others required a bit of imagination, but I believe my amateur embroidery skills managed to deliver this time.

Oh yes, and here is the party favor from Erik's underwater birthday extravaganza. These little "I Spy" bags supposedly entertain toddlers for hours. Well, mine were just about interested enough to eat the Nemo fruit snacks and be done with it. I have not forsaken hope. This is a craft I had on the list since high school. I will not be satisfied until they have been entertained by the rice pouches for at least as long as it took me to whip up 11 of them.

During G&G Larsen's visit, we took a trip to the Church History Museum by Temple Square. Among other worthwhile exhibits, they have a sizable activity center for kids, including an exhibit on the pre-earth/earth life transition, aka birth and the aftermath. Ellie named her African American baby Marie and patiently rocked and soothed her through an imaginary sacrament meeting.

Coincidentally, Ellie had assigned roles from the Nativity to each of us that morning. Costumes and grinning sheep at the museum made a replay worthwhile.

Delicately placing the props around baby Marie, she matter-of-factly explained, "We can't let the sheep get too close or they'll eat baby Jesus."

Kyle's done it again! He's nonchalantly upstaged my efforts to become the most sought-after and reputable chef in our household by producing another Delish Asian dish.

This one's Cambodian and is all about the salt, pepper and lime. So simple. Sooooo good.

A tad on the possessive side these days, Erik understood the plate of carrots I placed on the table (for all to share) to be his individual portion. He guarded and devoured them as such. I was mostly shocked that one of my kids actually likes a vegetable, but then I remembered how the carrots accidentally got a double dose of sugar and butter. Yes, that's more like a son of mine.

One thing that's nice about having a shrimp for a daughter is that she never outgrows her clothes. The slit on her chee-pow (Chinese dress) may be getting higher, but it still fits! Good thing, because I for one am not going back to China to get her the next biggest size.

It's not every day that you share a due date with your friend (well, it has been nine months of that with me and Em, actually), so we thought we'd capture ourselves sharing preggie glory, since any day now it will be all baby glory and "please crop my middle out of that picture." For another few days (hopefully not weeks), though, our expanded bellies are lovely and endearingly photogenic. As for my face, well, give me a break. I'd just paced seven miles of the neighborhood in pursuit of labor (not joking).

Made this fruit bouquet (with Mish) for my surrogate mother, Marilyn, for Mother's Day. More fun than arranging even flower bouquets. Of all my crafting endeavors, this is one I would actually consider doing for profit, after I saw the bundle of loot they charge for these orders online. =)

I was going to start spewing some reflections on my last anxious days as the mother of two, but Katie really captures my sentiments perfectly, and much more eloquently, so I hope this perfect stranger doesn't mind me borrowing her cyber-words on the arrival of her third baby (incidentally also named Charlie!). Her entry was about a beautiful triangle quilt she made while waiting for her Chalie and can be found at

"i've been trying to figure out what this third child will do to and with the current family dynamic we've got going here. (yes, this past weekend came and went and along with it, his due date. waiting waiting. . .). over and over the three little kids that will soon be mine have led to thoughts of triangles and the shape's possible meanings. on one end they're symbolic of perfection and unity while down at the other they represent danger and unavoidable tragedy. so which is it? should i be preparing myself for familial annihilation or some sort of exaltation once this little one joins us? as with most things this baby will probably take us on a path somewhere in the center, with detours in either direction occasionally thrown in the mix. moments of hell and moments of heaven. much like our current life, just with more stomping feet." Amen, Katie.

My birth center bag is packed, I've organized the pantry, freezer, and kids' sock drawer, and Charlie's bassinet is assembled and beginning to accumulate dust. Come, little one. Please come soon. If you wait much longer it will be time for me to clean the toilets again.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dear Internet (Kyle's return to bloggy world)

Hey Internet,

I know it's been a while since I last wrote (awkward silence) ...ahem...

How are you? I'm doing pretty well. What have you been up to these past few months? We've since moved to Utah. Did you hear that a couple months ago MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice got back together for a big concert here in UT-- isn't it great? I'm uber-enthused to see them so happy... celebrating an old friendship by conjuring up forgotten talents and all. It's been a while... Maybe you've
already heard this news, but Rick Astley, himself, rick-rolled America during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade last November, on live TV. I don't think I'll ever forget the emotion of that day (initial confusion, then slight betrayal, then finally inner-peace and everlasting joy). We have you to praise for the act, by elevating another forsaken 80s singer back into our mainstream culture.

Well to be honest, the main reason I wanted to write you, Internet, was to thank you for the service and joy you bring to the world, of which you selflessly give 24-7! You probably get this from a lot of your friends, but because of you, our lives are immensely enriched. You push people to new creative peaks. You give a voice to the masses--and people actually listen (I mean, just look at what you've done for Tay Zonday and Charlie the Unicorn...). If soup symbolized world-wide unity (wwu), you would be the spiciest jambalaya ripped from the
suffocating grasp of the deepest bayou--anything and everything you add unites to form a new magical treat for the palate. But soup doesn't symbolize anything, really, so you'll just have to imagine what I mean.



ps- If you're ever feeling discouraged about your difficult work (which all people do on occasion), simply watch this video and remember what degree of inspiration you channel into the world.
Stay cool, Internet!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Erik's party and more

It's been a long and wonderful few weeks. My time and efforts have been concentrated mostly on pulling off Erik's birthday party, with lots of this-and-that thrown into the mix, of course. For instance, Ellie and I finally committed to transforming the coat closet floor from this...

into this! And, well, it all ends up in a pile anyway, but at least it's a smaller pile now.

Summer has finally arrived! (For those who have never lived in Utah, basically there is no spring season here. It goes back and forth from frigid to sweaty for the months during which other states are experiencing spring, and then all of a sudden it's sweltering hot until you hit snow season again in the "fall.")

During those months of summer weather teases, we pulled out our suitcase of summer clothes several times, but were forced to keep shoving it back into the closet as the snow and slush would resurface. Just recently I finally felt safe replacing the kids' dresser drawer contents with warm weather wardrobes. We are loving the sunshine!

Of course I didn't bother taking a picture of Em, me and Em, or anything about Em's baby shower, but I did take care to photograph in detail my gift to her: two towel burp cloths, wipes case, vinyl-lined changing pad, and tag blanky, with personalized Chinese onesies to come soon-ish... By the way, Emily and I are due only a day apart! There is almost nothing pregnant ladies love to talk about more than their pregnancy plans and pains, so sharing a pregnancy timeline has surely been an enriching opportunity for me and Em's friendship.

I can't tell you how much I love Erik sleeping on the floor instead of in the pack-and-play. We are even more excited than he is when, instead of being prompted by his wailing to get in there and hoist him out of the crib, we hear his door open in the morning and he contently stumbles into our room, usually with something funny to say, or in the case of this particular morning, something pretty funny to wear at 6:30 in the morning in a still-dark room.

Did you know that sidewalk chalk conveniently doubles as inexpensive face paint? My kids already knew that.

I thought I had enough chalk to last a lifetime, or at least the summer, but Laurisa's kids have taught mine a great technique for quickly extinguishing your chalk supply: draw a line from my house to yours and then rub the chalk in one spot, creating powdery "face paint," until the chalk is but a stub. Repeat with new color. Worked like a charm on our chalk supply. (Not that I mind, truly. The entertainment is fully worthy the $1.50 a pack of chalk costs.)

In the absence of Christie and Kristin, the recipients of these long-awaited Sister Aprons, Kjerst and Laurisa were coerced into modeling these Mother's Day gifts for me. After all, Kyle looked good in one, too, but refused to be photographed, and my current self in a "flirty apron"?

I think a moo-moo would look flirtier on me.

Erik does make a superb playmate for Ellie, but when's the last time he's dressed up like a fairy and consented to be her groom? We are loving having Kimberley around.

Ummm, yeah, so I know we just gave Erik a haircut, but Erik's only one quarter Chinese, if you recall, so wasn't pulling off the bowl cut the way a true Asian would. So out came the clippers.

He thought the buzz-cutting device was cool for about two seconds and then spent the rest of the haircut desperately declaring, "All done vvvvvvvvv!" (the noise the clippers make).

It was truly a group effort, with Kyle sculpting, Kjerstin and I pinning down limbs and protecting ears, Ellie trying to soothe him with verses of "Teach me to Walk in the Light," and Mish on camera duty. I know it looks like he wants his bowl cut back, but in years to come, he'll be thanking us.

Plus, we made it up to him the next day by throwing him a birthday party no two-year-old could ever appreciate. He snoozed straight through our long hours of preparation and awoke to a scene of underwater insanity, or at least that's how I was feeling at the time.

Props to Mish for the paper creatures donning all the walls (and for whipping up desserts), Kyle for obeying my frazzled commands all day, and Kjerstin for coming up with great ideas for pretty much everything, and for making most of the food while we were otherwise occupied. This party would not have been pulled off without her, especially since she was the one who convinced me to substantially reduce the extravagance and number of crafts and activities. I need that sometimes.

Ellie woke up before Erik and when she saw the decorated walls, it was seriously almost better than Christmas to her. Kjerstin was still asleep on the couch so Elle couldn't go wild with delight, but all morning she couldn't stop hugging and kissing me and Kyle and telling us how beautiful the room looked. Also, I think she was just amazed that we were actually out of bed with her that early in the morning.

The shark-faced tent was used for a rendition of Musical Chairs. While the music played, the kids climbed in the shark's mouth and some of them we could even get to climb out the back. When the music stopped, whoever was still inside the shark's mouth was OUT! But "out" meant you got a shark gummi, so the "winner" of the game was really the loser because he was the last one to get a gummi shark. I don't think he noticed, though.

Then we headed to the ponds for some old-fashioned fishing, but we probably should've tried this game out prior to the party so we would've known that being in water makes the fish impossible to procure via magnet-to-paper clip. At least some kids got to splash around and saturate their clothes, though.

After dancing to Reggae in the midst of bubbles, we headed inside for an oceanic feast consisting of the following: -seashells and sand (shell pasta and parmesan) -ocean scene bagels (with blue cream cheese and goldfish crackers) -octopus hot dogs (bottom part sliced into eight pieces before being boiled, and these looked Deee-sgusting but were a big hit with the kids, who don't know what hot dogs are made of, although do any of us, really?) -ocean scene jello cups (Swedish fish suspended in blue jello topped with a whipped cream wave) -blue punch with fish-shaped ice cubes -other ocean animal-shaped crackers and snacks --and just in case the moms were concerned that their kids hadn't devoured enough sugar, we topped off the feast with ...

octopus cupcakes, which miraculously turned out pretty cute and even look like octopi, I think. Just ask Mish how octopi they were looking at 9pm the night before and you'll see why this I consider a true miracle.

In all honesty, I don't think Erik understood that this was his birthday party, or what a birthday is anyway, but "Happy Birthday" is one of his very most favorite songs and he does pretend to blow out candles on a regular basis, and witnessing the surprised delight on his face when everyone broke out in song in his honor and clapped when he blew out the candles, well, it made the almost unreasonable amount of time and energy I put into this party completely worth it.

This was not the first nor last time I turned around to see Ellie's cheeks stuffed with gummi worms. Unlike the other times, in this instance there was no guilt (or concern that she'd have to spit them out) in her eyes.

The coolest game was not a game at all, technically, but I guess getting stung by paper jellyfish is pretty hilarious to toddlers. I don't think I'm ever going to take them down, either, because it's humor has not yet worn off on Erik.

Erik got some really great presents from friends and then we distributed the I Spy bags I made for party favors. Forgot to photograph those so I'll post it next time. All in all, the party was a huge success. I still can't believe that with nine toddlers and two babies, we completely avoided catastrophe. The house wasn't even trashed at the end of it. My endurance was, though. I just felt so grateful, relieved, and exhausted that the party was over and that it went so well.

Instead of taking the afternoon nap I desperately needed, though, I embarked on my next big project: preparing this home and family for Charlie's arrival! After picking up a dresser in Salt Lake, we stopped at Temple Square and admired the gorgeous landscaping. Perhaps it is their short life span that makes sightings special, but something about tulips always takes my breath away. They make me happier than any other flower (except the hand-picked bouquets of dandelions the kids give me).

Kjerstin couldn't stay for Erik's party but later she brought over the adorable gifts she made him, as if she doesn't do enough for my kids in the first place. Erik finally has his own apron, with a bonus chef's hat and super cute felt hamburger and chips set, all handmade, of course. I have trained her well. =) (J/k, she's way better than me.)

And, as I mentioned, now it is time to give a little attention to this little one coming soon who will bring more than just a little change to our home and family. Despite the embarrassing lack of attention I've given this pregnancy and baby, I assure you we are ecstatic for his arrival and I'm really looking forward to "nesting" this week, preparing all things temporal and spiritual for his grand debut. Next Monday I will be 37 weeks, which is where I was when I delivered Erik, although that really gives me no guarantee that I'll go early again, so I'm trying not to get my hopes up. I am grateful that I have this spot of time to wash, fold, and place his clothes neatly into his new dresser, organize my pantry and plan postpartum meals, and perhaps we will even get around to buying a carseat for the little guy. =)

P.S. Whoever has a baby next (and lives near me) gets their baby shower thrown by me in "Nesting" theme style, complete with these almost-too-cute-to-eat birdie cupcakes.