Sunday, February 28, 2010

Happy Holidays

I realize most of you think blogging about Christmas is SO last season, but it's not all about you, you know. Let's just pretend we all still care how my Christmas vacation went.

Christmas was so much fun, right?! One of the perks of Kyle's job is that it's portable because it only requires his lap top and a phone line. So, we got to head off to my parents' in Sacramento a whole week early so the kids and I could soak up the festivities while Kyle camped in a cold, [not so] quiet corner of the house working and trying not to get distracted by all the Christmas fun he was missing.

He wasn't excluded from all the fun, though, you see. He and the boys had a superbowl man's night. Notice how, completely unprovoked, Erik must be poking (or otherwise injuring) his brother at all times.

We hadn't seen Dad, Joestie, or Bryce in a whole year, and this was our first acquaintance with Joestie's little Alex. It was love at first sight.

And when Charlie wasn't trying to eat him, they got along swimmingly.

Do adults really buy those tiny varieties for their own consumption?

The way I see it, having half the fat means I can eat twice as much.

I'd tried all month to make gingerbread men with the kids and never got around to it until Santa cookies on Christmas eve. This recipe uses a package of butterscotch pudding so it's more like a ginger-cinnamony sugar cookie. Yum. I'm so glad I'm Santa.

Handwritten letter to Snato, I mean Santa. She gets to the point: "Snato, computer pretend. Ellie"

Erik asked for a Super Why (PBS reading superhero) doll.

I make sure to use this plate (petite as it is) and glass every year because I bought this on clearance somewhere just a couple weeks after we were married. Kyle, like most rational people, thought it a pretty useless purchase given our then family size. So my job is to make it look like it was worth storing for those years plus 364 days of the year from now on.

I also whipped out several loaves of this tasty tradition (glazed bread stuffed with sweet, lemony cream cheese and cherry pie filling). Usually it is Ma, but she was out of commission after starting chemotherapy a few days previous. Usually we gift these candy cane breads as we Christmas carol friends, but this year we just ate them.

Without Scott and Kristin and their kids (missed you guys!), our nativity production was somewhat less impressive this year, but Ellie still got to stuff a doll up her shirt.

We sang some songs and Dad read a story that I remember being a tear jerker, but appears to have also been a knee slapper.

And then it was Christmas morn. Santa had Charlie's mom in mind when he brought this ornamented cage.

Wow, not a flattering shot of any of us, but magic was in our hearts.

Christmas breakfast was better than ever. I made creme brulee french toast (and maybe our family's tastes are not refined enough for that because I don't think the second pan ever got finished off, but in their defense, it was perhaps not quite tasty enough for the caloric content), and we also ate fruit, artichoke sausage and spinach cheese puffs that I didn't make.

That is Mish's stack of loot beside Ellie.

Mish and I did the homemade gift deal this year, with Mish's embroidered neck pillow for Fa (other side decorated with his qualities, as to support the neck and ego simultaneously) and Mom-ism dish towels among my faves. (Why the underline!? No really, why does automatic underline always happen to good people!?)

No wonder I needed a diet after Christmas break. The only vegetable for Christmas dinner was canned and smothered in cream. Vitamix would be ashamed of me.

We entertained ourselves by watching family videos, playing Bang!, initiating a round of Iron Chef (only got video footage of that), complete with secret ingredients and hungry judges, and perusing the town for oddities on our scavenger hunt check list, such as Bryce hanging from a tree ...

and a 50+% off sale...

and some good old fashioned p.d.a. (had to be within six feet of it, which was trickier than anticipated). The only item neither team captured was a photo with a smiling child (other than our own). I was creeping myself out stalking isolated children through Walmart.

Christie's hair is already straight, but Mish's exuberance for her new chi flat iron knew no bounds.

Pretty sweet lake view for the dead of winter. The weather was fabulous. So that's why people live in California.

Christmas was so many kinds of wonderful. Don't forget we detoured to Disneyland, too. That recap is up next.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Well, whaddya know?

So, we had a great weekend with my parents, but I haven't uploaded pix yet, so that will come.

As we were impulsively deciding to make the overnight trek to Sacramento on Thursday afternoon, Kyle pointed out that gas would cost us half of a Vitamix. Was I sure I wouldn't rather put the money there?

I was sure. Vitamix would always hold a place in my heart, but it was really more of a far away fantasy to actually own one. Kind of like owning a home. Fun to dream about and all too easy to covet, but just not gonna happen.

Also kind of like owning a Cricut. Just not gonna happe-- wait. I own one of those! And wait, I own one of THESE!!!



Yes, me and Vitamix are in the honeymoon stage. We cannot be separated. The Larsens are eating liquefied breakfast, lunch, and dinner around here. It is bliss. Sheer low-fat, tasty, five-fruits-and-vegetables-a-day bliss.

Truly, the kids have consumed more vegetables in the past two days than the past month, probably. (For instance, last night I cleaned out my crisper and all of us gobbled up the cream of asparagus-spinach-carrot-avocado-salsa soup.)

Are you wondering how in this life I broke Kyle down to buy one?

Yeah, I didn't. Ma is much easier to break. And the thing about Ma's generosity is that Mish and I didn't even ask for one-- I never ever would have. We just stood there drinking all the samples at Costco and absorbing all the saleslady's propaganda and there was some excitement in the air for all of us, and before we knew it Judy was asking us, "Alright, just go ahead and choose. Do you want black or white?" We chose the black one.

Judy was actually the same saleslady who introduced me to the Vitamix in Murray (destiny, no?), and she remembered us well! "You and your husband and all your kids were just standing there trying everything and asking lots of questions and I was so sure you were going to get one, and then you just walked away!" Yep, that's about right.

Mish and I have grand plans for preparing all our meals for the week on Saturdays and I'll send her back to Provo full of tupperwares to freeze. We also decided we're taking veganism to a new level-- we'll be eating ONLY fresh fruit and vegetables from now on. Actually, I'll still be eating buttered wheat toast. And we figured, with childbearing and all, we should put some calcium in our bones, so we'll use milk cubes in some smoothies.

So, I am overcome with love and gratitude for my generous parents and love and gratitude for my new Vitamix. Love, sweet [artificial sweetener-free] love.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Big Boy Interrupted

Day two of potty training. Two accidents, nine successes. That was only until 2 pm, though, afterwhich the diapers were snatched, packaging in tact, out of the garbage pile outside and reinstated for the weekend. No, we are not quitters. We are spontaneous! (We are quitters with night training, though. Trying to wake Erik up to go potty in the middle of the night unleashed a nightmarish scene with tears of desperation rollings down more than a few faces. Sobering details later.)

We decided at 1 pm to take a road trip to CA, I left at 2 pm to pick up Mish, and we were on the road by 5 pm. So, here we are, enjoying the Olympic opening ceremonies in the warmth and comfort of my parents' home, Ma clad in fuzzy Vikings cap (pics to come). It is good times and too much food all around.

The only drawback (aside from Mish having to cancel a few social engagements) was interrupting Erik's potty training regiment. Still, when I put a diaper back on him yesterday afternoon, I exhaled with great relief. I hadn't realized truly how tense and anxious I'd been following him around always expecting the wet and hoping for the dry. He's back to pooping his pants for now, but I am hoping to seamlessly resume our potty plans upon our return to UT on Tuesday.

In the meantime, life is beautiful, I am ever sleepless, happy, and well-fed. No pics of Erik's nakey buns today, but here are some family pics from December. Considering Ellie's black eye and the fact that these photos were taken after the kids' bedtime, we were oh so pleasantly surprised with how many genuine smiles surfaced for the camera. I bought the copyright, so feel free to copy and print as you please, Mom. =)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A New Erik: Day 1

Okay, perhaps I've sounded a bit dramatic in the past about the task of potty training Erik. For those who don't know Erik well, perhaps the most encompassing word to describe him, after cute, is hypersensitive. Yes, that came out strongly this morning. At 10am I felt I'd underestimated the treacherous impossibility of attempting this task alone and was ready to quit. However, we'd already thrown his diapers in the trash first thing in the morning. He could still squeeze into Charlie's diapers, Erik reminded me several times. But no. I was more committed than that.

Eventually, a few "accidents" later, I persuaded Erik to at least try sitting on the potty chair, and even later, finally bribed him with sugary snacks into wearing undies. (Yes, he remained nude for a little while there, eg below wearing "skates.")

Having the potty party atmosphere helped, I think. (Streamers, balloons, all the toys that have been packed in storage for a few weeks, special cookies and crackers, unlimited chocolate milk and grape juice.)

Having the Pauls over for a couple hours was a worthy distraction, as well. Six kids constrained to one room made for some serious craziness (and sounded much like a demolition team to Bob downstairs), but passed the time well.

Once he was willing to sit on the potty and wear undies, things went pretty smoothly. Only once did he get to the potty to go #1 of his own initiative (he did forget to pull his undies down before squatting, but I was still ecstatic), but he still earned a total of TEN potty stickers! I am eternally grateful that he did both #2s on the potty! He also had nine accidents, and then another in his bed just now.

Hmmm, that makes 17 peepees today. That was a little shocking to me. Granted, I was forcing chocolate milk on the kid all day, but I was still caught unaware. I guess when you've never had to use any bladder restraint whatsoever, it's just one small stream after another trickling out all day.

I won't pretend that this was less than the most exhausting and stressful day I've had in a long while, but on the up side, I am incredibly proud of the progress Erik made in twelve [extremely long] hours. From the first puddle, I was so pleased that he even recognized what had happened. I was afraid he'd just play on! Not only did he notice he'd peed, but it also bothered him. Good, good. And he got to the potty all on his own once. Better, better. And a couple other times he dripped a little and then held it until I could transport him to the can. Excellent. Couldn't hope for more, really. Wouldn't dare to. But I do expect tomorrow to be an improvement.

P.S. Charlie decided today would be a fine day to start crawling. He also found it a fine day to take three naps, but I'm using the term nap very loosely. He slept a total of 40 minutes over twelve hours. So, it's been an enriching day. =)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Ready or not...

Chicken starts potty training tonight.

Tomorrow it is Erik. If I am still alive tomorrow night, I will post details. (No harm in being a little dramatic, right?)

Sunday, February 07, 2010

If I had time to myself...

If Charlie went away for a day, I would sleep through the entire night! I would read to and make crafts with the big kids all day. We would play with Polly Pockets and I would give Erik all the attention he craves. I would have full use of both of my arms.

But then I would get to missing him. I would miss his chubby thighs and toothless smile. I would miss the way his eyes light up when he sees me and the way he nuzzles into my shoulder. I would miss how he enters a jumping frenzy out of nowhere and is constantly grappling for something, anything to put in his mouth, especially if it's dirty or unsafe. I would miss peek-a-boo, I would miss his siblings doting over him, and I would miss kissing his bald head. I would miss him dearly.

Now if Erik went away for a day, we would go to Costco and Ellie could sit next to Charlie in the cart without argument. We would sample all the exotic foods. We would probably stay out all day and no one would be tantruming over it. Ellie and Charlie probably wouldn't be hit, pushed, or poked once the whole day.

But then we would get to missing that laugh. Oh, that superbly infectious laugh. There is little that I love more than his complete surrender to bliss that emanates from that laugh. And I would miss all the quirky comments and slowly constructed sentences. I would miss those long, dark eyelashes and that charming smile. I would miss that waddle, that imaginative mind, those endearing mispronunciations. I would miss that densely-packed piece of wonderful so very, very much.

If Ellie was the one to leave, Erik would finally get to be the star. He would get to choose what to play and what color plate to eat off of. He would get to answer all of my questions without being interrupted and corrected by a quicker, more articulate respondent. We could play with trains and dinosaurs and superheroes all day, with a tea party probably thrown in. I would hold him whenever Charlie slept. We would scribble and sing the alphabet song. We would be quiet sometimes.

But then it would be too quiet. Maybe even a little dull. Erik would tire of me as his sole playtime companion. Charlie would not find us quite as amusing. I would miss her good manners, her love for everyone, her desire to be good. I would miss her relentless curiosity, even the word "why?" ringing in my ears. I would miss the way she bounces with excitement over many simple things. I would miss the way she stuffs an animal under her shirt and announces her upcoming delivery every hour or so. I would miss her eager hugs and compliments on my parenting. No, I couldn't make it without her at all.

And if Kyle ever dared to stay away for a day, I would go shopping for kids' clothes, crafts, trendy accessories, home decorations, anything would do. I would read Twilight. I would watch HGTV and make pumpkin soup for dinner. This is all assuming he took the kids with him, I guess.

But before the day would be done, I would long for him, of course. I would need someone to whom I could rattle off the details of my day, who would listen and take sincere interest. I would miss his willingness to help, his amazing example of self-discipline (one I desperately need!), and his admiration of my good (imagined or real) qualities. I would miss his belly laugh, and the way the sides of his eyes get all wrinkly when he smiles. I would miss the way he dances like a crazy person and the kids are almost as entertained as me. I would miss his handiness in opening a jar, killing a spider, cleaning a toilet, and fixing the thermostat. I would miss the way he slumbers sweetly early in the evening while I whittle the hours away blogging and such, and then how he pacifies Charlie throughout the night and tends to the kids in the morning, expecting no more than a grunt of acknowledgment from me as he kisses me goodbye on his way off to work. I love how ecstatic he is to see us when he comes home. I love how much I love to see him, too. We are irritable and distracted and sometimes even exasperated with each other, and all the while so far in love we'll never look back.