Monday, March 29, 2010

Speaking of last November...

I'm pretty sure Kyle and I have hair, but apparently we did not pass on the "has hair" gene to any of our children, all of whom have been born bald and stayed that way beyond the first year and basically to this day. Erik and Ellie have each had less than a handful of trims in their lives. This is why the "it will always grow back" consolation does not apply to cutting Ellie's hair, and why Mish and I were a little nervous and a lot silly to attempt it ourselves.

This is also why I did not include an "after" shot of her haircut. Through this embarrassing and very disappointing experience, I discovered that hasty self-confidence (and a pair of blunt kitchen scissors) less than qualifies one to be a hairdresser. I hope none of you are as surprised about this as we were. This was last November, by the way. I have since had her bangs corrected (hehe, the hairdresser had some fun things to say about the way I'd left them), but it would've cost money to fix the rest, so we do pigtails a lot and try not to care about people who judge us.

Also last November, Ellie made her performance debut at the conclusion of an eight week ballet class Kyle's parents gifted her for her birthday. (hello anonymous nose picker!)

Carter provided some pre-show entertainment because, honestly, he and Ellie's friendship is completely centered around being ridiculous.

I wish I could upload our video footage of the performance so everyone could witness such graceful moves as the shifty waddle and bum patty-pats, as well as half of the class sporadically running to the back of the stage to hide in the curtains.

I think I actually taught her more real ballet moves at home than she learned in her class (and I've never taken a ballet class so maybe "real" is a generous term for my skills), but the whole experience was so delightful and pretty darn cute and apt to be repeated many a time in the future.

Speaking of cute, how about a nesting-themed baby shower? Pretty much the cutest theme ever, I know, but I didn't think of it. Nests have been around for a while. I threw this last November and I just realized I should probably blur out the name, address, and phone number on that invitation but I don't know how. Nobody stalk us, okay? (And can you BELIEVE the stamps cost extra because of that piece of yarn pasted to the card? I'm losing faith in humanity, people.) (Okay, not really.)

I was actually inspired to throw Mary's shower a-la-nests-and-birdies because I'd been wanting to make a birdie baby mobile for her for almost a year. They were not nearly as orderly under the amateur guidance of my hands and a sewing needle as they appear here. Especially un-orderly during the mobile assembly process.

See, the mobile was supposed to look like this. But my birds were heavier than my twigs, so they looked more like this. I cried some emotional tears over this and brought my dramatically unfinished gift to the shower in a torn paper bag.

Some months later (this month, actually), I finally forsook the branches and came up with this instead.

Here's the baby's view -- I did make a point of having the birdie bellies be just as visually stimulating as their tops.

They were already glued onto the branches when disaster struck on Mary's Shower Eve, so clearly I had to improvise, but there's nothing a little (or a lot) of ribbon and hot glue can't salvage and cute-ify, right?

I sure wish I knew how to take a flattering picture of anything. Oh well. Just believe that it's cuter than it looks.

Okay, back to November. There were chocolate chow mein nests as party favors (which I forgot to distribute before most of the guests left, naturally).

There were Easter and spring-themed decor I serendipitously swiped off a craft store clearance rack.

There were some nest-ish muffins (which I reeeeeeelly wanted to look like this, but was persuaded by a younger and much wiser sister of mine to simplify), pink deviled eggs, and fruit salad.

There was also a little prank I played on the guests. I purposefully neglected to mention that one of the muffins contained a little maternal surprise; whoever discovered a baby in their muffin would be the next one to have a baby!

Yeah, you probably guessed, but the joke was on me. I was the one to bite into this breech baby behind. Such a disturbing little prank, and not just because the baby has a uni-brow. (shuddering even now at the thought of another baby)

There were the obligatory baby-themed games, but I hope not of the most cliche variety.

I sure am fond of this Mary kid. And she's so good with babies (just look at how much Charlie loves being held by her.)

As a final note, I bring you Black Friday winnings. I uploaded these pictures many moons ago so don't ask why I thought this was an important note to end on. End.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Feeling lucky

No seriously, I must be part Irish because today was my day! Firstly and most importantly, I woke up at 7am. And I hadn't woken up since I fell asleep. Folks, I am still in shock. This was the first night in my memory since Charlie's arrival that I've enjoyed more than four hours of uninterrupted sleep. What a loooong 9.5 months of nights we've had. Anyway, that is all behind us now because Charlie slept 11 hours last night! ! ! ! ! (Hyperventilating over here) This milestone far surpasses in significance all those scrapbooky ones like walking, talking, smooshing food in hair by oneself, etc. I still only got six hours of sleep, but that's my own fault. So, we could've ended the day right there and this would've been the best day of my recent life, but it gets better still...

Leprechauns visited our home last night, and I have an inkling they'd planned a few more shenanigans, but they kind of procrastinated this year, so all they left was a kitchen pot of gold-covered chocolates and a generous scattering of rainbow-colored skittles. Ellie actually had the nerve to complain, "I wish the leprechauns would have brought more things." "You didn't even leave any REAL gold for them!" I scolded. Then I scolded her some more for her attitude of ingratitude. Next year she'll get coal in a kitchen pot.

Okay, but that was still a little fun. We rummaged through our dresser drawers for everything green and put all of it on. I did feel a teensy bit embarrassed about our collective appearance a few times today, but truly, what fun is it on a special holiday to wear something you would've worn anyway? We ONLY wear green on clashing green on clashing green on clashing green on this single day of the year. Festive us.

Then I was going to make green pancakes for breakfast, but I got all irritatingly health-conscious (it annoys even me-- since when do I care about health!?) and made whole wheat, no sugar added, blueberry pancakes instead. But I still displayed them like so and dropped some green food coloring in their milk, so they didn't even miss the syrup.

I put Charlie down for his routine power nap (his naps have only ever been 30 minutes max if not being held), and got to take a shower. Wow. I read a few books to the kids, then we played Chutes & Ladders, and then did some puzzles. By this point, and I am not at all a worry-prone person, I am pressing my ear against my bedroom door listening for Charlie's breathing and hearing nothing. But I think he's still alive. But I'm not sure. An HOUR AND 45 MINUTES after I put him down, the wonder baby awakens. I glance heavenward. "Is this some kind of joke?" Things like this do not happen to people like me. I am nervous to hope for a repeat miracle nap tomorrow, but even for one day it tasted like "the celestial kingdom after two lifetimes of suffering" (--Mark P). Charlie actually woke up HAPPY, because he woke up RESTED. What a concept. Lucky lucky lucky me.

We went to the library and didn't get chastised by the cranky librarian even once this time. We checked out a gaggle of interesting books and then headed for the park and enjoyed the unbelievably gorgeous weather for some time. It was so warm we stopped at the outdoor pool, just to check, but no, they're not open until June.

No matter. Bought some cheap produce at Sunflower market and picked up Kyle from work. Nobody cried in the car. Nobody peed their pants all day (that's actually a first, as well). Nobody had a tantrum of any sort. No one was even injured! Freakishly lucky! Did someone from Hogwarts slip some liquid luck into my green smoothie this morning?

Kyle handled all the kids while Vitamix and I whipped up dinner. Holy cow, I love that guy. Oh yeah, I love Kyle, too. But Vitamix, you know just how long it would've taken me to finely mince six carrots, six celery stalks, six garlic cloves, and a large onion, not to mention the tears that would've been shed. Thank you for managing all of that in blurry, record-breaking speed.

Smiths was fresh out of corned beef, so we dined on bland Irish shepherd's pie instead (somehow couldn't even taste the cheese).

But no matter, because tomorrow I'm making this bad boy.

Still, can tomorrow top today? I'll be looking for one of these just in case.

P.S. Oooo, maybe it's all the four-leaf pretzels I ate yesterday!

Uh, I just noticed they're unlucky six-leaf clovers. Must be liquid luck then.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

February recap

So, I had those three goals for February: potty train Erik, get Char sleeping through the night, and start a co-op preschool for Ellie and her friends. How'd I do?

By the end of the month, I was two for three. Nowadays, I'm more like one-and-a-half for three. Ellie's preschool? Check (more on that later). Dry undies? Check and then uncheck. (We suspect that the awesomeness of his undies may have caused the regression. We think he enjoys getting to wear each pair of his undies every day and wetting them is the only way... ) Char sleeping through the night? Very much uncheck, despite fervent (and frenzied) efforts. Nothing is working. We three (that would be the shrieking zombie baby and his sleep-starved parents) just cope the best we can on fragmented rem cycles. Not a good way to live a life, I tell ya. Babies can only get away with this because they're so stinking cute!

Things are looking good for preschool, at least. I purchased some teaching charts and learned some cheesy welcome songs, and I thoroughly enjoyed planning lesson material for the letter A.

We listened to the Bambi song "April Showers" and made our own rainstorm, we learned about Africa and I showed off some of my Uganda souvenirs, we sang Ants Go Marching, ate ants on a log and apples with apricot dipping sauce (stunning photo of nibbled snack remains, I know),

made angel magnets using photos of their faces, cut and glued a capital A alligator, read A-themed books, etc. 'Twas jolly good fun. 'Twas so much fun that I made everything MUCH more complicated and advanced for the letter B. As you may guess, that capital B Backfired on me in a serious way. More on that in another post.

February was filled with many more festivities and fond memories than over the potty and through the night, thankfully. President's Day weekend we took that impulsive/spontaneous road trip to Sacramento to visit my parents. We met some might fine trees while we were there.

Big as they come, I hear.

We also celebrated Chinese New Year with a homemade hot pot feast (Kyle's fave), decorated Mom's family room wall with a plethora of framed family photos, made too much food in general, watched the Olympic events, the kids took a few extra bubbly baths in my parents' over-sized tub, frolicked at the nearby park, and soaked in the warm weather and fun with grandparents. It was so warm and fuzzy for me to watch my dad snuggle up with a kid under each arm and tell the same bedtime stories that I knew and loved as a child.

I took this picture as we were driving away toward home after the too short weekend. Dad was testing the stay-in-place quality of Mom's wig. It failed.

Kyle was the lucky recipient of this classy office decoration in light of Valentine's Day. I was inspired by one of our favorite songs we'd hear in the grocery store during our year in China, entitled something like, "I love you like a mouse loves rice." And I sure do, babe. Only problem is that his home office makes our bathroom feel spacious, and so this little piece of art nuzzles itself nicely on my dresser. Oh well, I tried. Men are impossible to craft for.

I was having a hard time committing to total craft-eradication during February, so I attempted a few lame heart wreaths, got two thirds through with a conversation heart topiary, cut out all the colorful hearts for a garland that never got sewed, and decorated some love note mailboxes that sat empty most of the month. One day they didn't, though! We filled them with heart people! Or, if you were Erik, heart heroes! (Yes, that would be a cape and a mask on the disgruntled purple heart.)

We also threw somewhat of a small Chinese New Year party to usher in the year of the tiger. A few days before the occasion I was pestering Kyle late at night while he sought slumber to brainstorm games and activities with me. "Can't we just talk about this tomorrow?" "Can't you just tell me what games we should play at the party?" "Pin the tail on the... China man." Ellie and I, but mostly Ellie (thus the "HAPE NOO YER"), took him up on that piece of genius. Kyle thought this might be a bit offensive, but I was the most Chinese person there and I wasn't offended.

Erik and I made some paper lanterns to decorate and Ellie contributed a few paper purses to the garland. We also used the red lanterns and fans that decorated our wedding reception. Throw in a feast of Asian proportions (okay, not nearly THAT big), some DDR, mahjong (quintessential Chinese tile game), some cell phone trinkets and violin solos, and it made for a much cooler event than any American New Year's party I've ever thrown.

Other cool stuff that happened in February:

-I bathed my children at least once, and here is the proof.

-With Kjerstin's prodding and assistance, I FINALLY covered those naaaasty kitchen chairs with cuter fabric and cute fabric-preserving plastic. The army print was still on them which actually did camouflage many of the stains, but this revamp was long overdue. The staples I bought were actually for putting up Christmas lights so were terribly ineffective, and the gun I bought was as cheap as they come (Home Depot employee: "Oh, I didn't know they make these in plastic"), but we dished out a few dollars and got the job done. Yay! One less shamefully unhygienic corner of my home.

-A mullet was born (but quickly died, don't worry), by the hand of Kyle, of course.

-Five to ten fruits and vegetables were slurped down by all members of the family on a daily basis. (Yeah, that murky looking liquid isn't very thirst-inducing, I realize. I will try to refrain from posting photographs and stick to advocating the Vitamix through impassioned claims and exhilarating anecdotes-- here comes one...) For instance, guess how many f&v I packed into this power house of yum? We've got some apple juice, orange juice, grapes, carrots, cucumber, unpeeled half of lime, uncored apple, banana, spinach, frozen peaches, frozen pineapple, and a scoop of sherbet. If you're wondering if ten fruits and vegetables can possibly taste good together without some serious sweetener, just ask our pickiest eater pictured below.

We've even gotten him chanting the Popeye song. I love my life.

-Some general scary dinosaur moments surfaced.

-A couple innovative contraptions emerged from the quirky habits of this engineer-in-the-making.

-Ellie whooped us all at Twister.

And other unphotographed fun was had, like the kids' first movie theater experience (The Princess and the Frog), the kids met the REAL Snow White while Kyle and I had a fabulous time with J & C and M & K at a Utah Jazz game (pics on both will hopefully surface sometime), and Ellie started reading short books. Very short, if she gets to choose.

Quite a bit of fun crammed into a short 28 days, I think. So we expect to step it up a notch for March.