Tuesday, December 22, 2009

christmas cheer

I love this cute music/video clip. Music by the MoTab. I'm going to have the kids in primary act out the nativity during our music time on Sunday.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

'tis the season

You know it's Christmas around here because Little S insists we read The Night Before Christmas every night as one of her 3 books before bed. I must admit it is very sweet to have a little one fall asleep laying next to me as I'm reading those words. We have the version illustrated by Mary Engelbreit. It was a gift to Little S 2 years ago and when she was younger she liked reading it just because there was so much candy in the illustrations. She would pretend to pick pieces of candy off the page and eat them.
You know it's Christmas around here because we've made 4 batches of my great-grandma's peanut butter cup cookies and a batch of fudge in 24 hours. We attended a play-group cookie exchange today that was much fun. We've been reading a Christmas scripture and singing a carol each night - Little S finds the scripture/carol card that's hidden on the tree each night. We've also been eating by candlelight to remind her that it's a special time (the candlelit dinner idea was on Inchmark).

You know it's Christmas around here because D and I were up late last night sticking labels and stamps on our Christmas cards. At least everyone will get them before Christmas this year!

You know it's Christmas around here because a few days ago my neighbors could spy me chasing the girls around the front yard trying to get pics worthy of a Christmas card. I liked this one but D gave me a veto.

You know it's Christmas around here because Little S is singing her school Christmas program songs to herself in the backseat as we drive around town. The program is tomorrow and in the evening we have her music class Christmas program. It's going to be a big day for her.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thanksgiving in DC

We flew coast-to-coast the day before Thanksgiving to spend the holiday in Washington, DC. Neither of us had been to our capitol before even though we presently have many family members living in the area: my brother, D's sister and her husband and 3 kids, my aunt and uncle and 2 of my cousins. We stayed with my aunt and uncle near Arlington and my mom flew in on Thanksgiving so it was quite and extended reunion!

We hit most of the major sites, but I didn't get to see much of the art I was hoping to enjoy - next time... The books did not lie when they wrote that DC is the most kid-friendly city in the States. One could spend weeks entertaining the little ones with fantastic activities, many of them free! It really is a beautiful city and we hope to go back soon.

We walked right into the National Archives - no line or wait! Part of our preparation for the trip was watching the 7 hour John Adams series by HBO (not enough time to read the book). We loved the show and it refreshed us on our early American history and got us excited to see the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

We rode the elevator to the top of the Washington monument. It was a beautifully clear day. You could see about 40 miles in every direction from the top.

My modern art connoisseur wanted her picture taken with every sculpture in the National Gallery's sculpture garden. We had a delicious lunch at the cafe that sits in the middle of the garden.
A highlight for Little S was the Nutcracker performance we attended by the Puppet Co. in Glen Echo Park, Maryland. It did not disappoint! Various kinds of puppets were used from marionettes to hand puppets to actors dressed up carrying puppets. This man was Uncle Drosselmeyer. I prepped us all before we went on vacation - we listened to a Nutcracker book on tape many times (little S insisted we fast forward through the mouse king's battle with the nutcracker - too much violence for her :). Target presently has nutcrackers out that are the characters from the ballet. Little S loves them - we stop to look at them each time we're there. She fell in love with nutcrackers last Christmas and when I ask her what she wants for Christmas this year her response is, "Nutcrackers."
Watching the tarantula get its weekly feeding at the Natural History Museum (D and Little S are sitting on the right)

The National Zoo with cousins. It was a brisk, windy day but that didn't stop us. The heated gorilla house and reptile house were hits with the kids.

Big sisters holding their little sisters on Thanksgiving day.

Frolicking along the Potomac on the lawn of Mount Vernon. George and Martha had quite a view!

Mount Vernon was fantastic - much better than we were expecting. There was a camel on the lawn as part of the Christmas festivities - George often had exotic animals brought in to entertain his guests.

A great trip for our family. I have dozens more pictures to go through and now Christmas to tackle. (The trip put me way behind!)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Birthday Party

The party was Saturday night. The cooking-themed activities were in honor of Little S's obsession with mixing any substance she can get her hands on in the kitchen (I often find her in there with various vessels full of "soups" - bowls filled with milk, juices, dressing, condiments, curry sauce, shredded cheese, spices from the spice rack, etc.)

The kids each got to decorate a chef's hat, wear oilcloth aprons, and make bagel faces and their own pizzas (I also had sugar cookies to decorate, but we didn't have time). We played food games: 1. a tricycle-marshmallow relay where each kid rode a tricycle while carrying a measuring cup full of marshmallows to his team's cup-o-mallows, dumped the mallows in, and rode the trike back to the next kid on his team; 2. pumpkin bowling with real bowling pins; 3. tortilla toss - D drew a funny big-mouthed face on poster board and the kids tossed tortillas into the mouth frisbee-style. Then there was the usual running around the yard like a little gang of hooligans with Little S often acting as the ring-leader. We had lasagna, salad and breadsticks for the adults. A friend recommended the lasagna recipe on the back of the Barilla no-boil lasagna package and it is quite tasty!

Finally, the cake. We borrowed the giant cupcake cake pan from a friend - I guess there's an infomercial for this item, but you can also get it at Target/Walmart. I made the chocolate cake and vanilla butter cream frosting from scratch - total scratch on the cake, meaning no Kitchen-Aid, meaning I melted bittersweet chocolate over the stove and whisked the ingredients together in various bowls. And it was great! The bottom of the cupcake fell out of the pan in 4 large pieces, couldn't be used for the party, and D was stoked that we had to eat it (I baked 2 small rounds for the bottom, instead). When all was said and done I ended up doubling the cake recipe twice and doubling the frosting recipe twice. About two hours before the party I was wondering why I was doing all of this craziness, but once the party started and we were all having a great time, I didn't give it a second thought.

Aunt L was the first guest to arrive
Her Daddy made this giant card for her actual bday earlier in the week - yes, he drew it himself

Bagel face creations
She ran inside when she thought we were going to sing to her - so we sang without her there
One of the only shots I have with the cousins in it
Tortilla toss
When it got too cold outside, the kids broke inside. So I asked Cousin M to try a puppet show for the young ones - it lasted a few minutes until they all grabbed puppets and tried it themselves.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

4 years old

We went to Disneyland for her birthday on Tuesday. The "get in free on your birthday" gig totally worked on me - we bought season passes. Her friend Nathan and his mom Shelby came along to help us celebrate. Little S was hoping to see Tinkerbell and we sure did - Tink and Terrance have opened Pixie Hollow to guests :) But my camera was on the wrong setting there so no pics (unless I buy one from the Disney photo people). Other highlights of the visit included the Playhouse Disney stage show at California Adventure, the new Pooh ride and the Carousel. There were almost no lines - we literally walked on to most rides, especially at Calif. Adventure, which made for a very pleasant day. She did NOT like seeing the "real life" characters and wouldn't get within 20 feet of them (other than Tink). The street parade at the end of the night was a lot of fun for me but she stood behind me clutching my jean pockets, trying hard not to dance to the music - but she couldn't stop herself a few times.

With only 2 adults to push strollers, we had to make a single stroller into a double.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween 2009

Little S was Madeline - presently her FAVORITE character. We read one of the books at least once a day and she runs around the house quoting lines from the movie (the one she earned her $5 for a few weeks ago). I bought the costume online and we were very happy with it!

Baby J was the peacock that Little S was 3 years ago. I even kept the tights and socks D and I dyed orange one late night when Little S was not even 1. The costume is great, but it is tricky carrying around a peacock with all its feathers. D bought me this wig for Halloween. I've never had hair that long - neither has D.

We had friends and family over to our house to enjoy the evening. Cousin Samantha and her parents were there, D's cousin and her husband came as well. We also had friends from church over to help pass out candy.

The main street at the end of our block with grand Victorian homes lining it is blocked off by the city because there are so many trick-or-treaters. I overheard one of the homeowners saying he gets 3000 kids at his door and this year he spent $650 on candy! We estimated that we got about 1200 kids at our door.

These two came dressed as first-time-homebuyers, because they are!

You must guard your cookies from those cookie-stealing peacocks on Halloween.

Nana and the girls at the church trunk-or-treat the night before Halloween.

Ron Weasley and Madeline at the school costume parade.

Harry Potter, the mailman, and Madeline taking a break from trick-or-treating.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

let the haunting begin!!

Festivities are under way at our house this week. D carved the pumpkins tonight. He had Little S draw the faces onto the pumpkins and then he carved out her designs. She stayed up and watched the carving of the middle one and he carved the other two after she went to bed. What a great dad - so supportive of her creativity!

Next, Baby J enjoying a carrot. She's got so many teeth coming in that she can gnaw away almost an entire baby carrot (under close supervision).

Lastly, this is what happens when mom is busy preparing for the primary program dress rehearsal. The markers I was using to write out the words of the songs were stolen from me and used as face paint - with no mirror! She did it in a matter of seconds while watching TV. My response: shock then laughter and then I ran and got the camera.

Monday, October 26, 2009

busy weekend

A jam packed schedule with the primary program dress rehersal and pizza party (which, apparently, Little S was talking about all day at school Friday), the Anaheim boutique and two birthday parties on Saturday, and the actual primary program Sunday.

D had a great time being Mr. Mom on Saturday and got the troops to the birthday parties and Baby J down for her naps with no problem. He even found time to enjoy the College Game Day broadcast from BYU.

The boutique was a lot of fun but I'm happy it's over. Now I can enjoy holiday planning - Little S's birthday party, Thanksgiving in Washington DC and some Christmas celebrations.
(this is the 10 yard banner I made for the boutique table - it will be used again in a few weeks for Little S's cooking birthday party)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

projects projects projects

The house is cluttered with piles of my projects everywhere. I sewed an oilcloth banner last night with strawberry print oilcloth and red jumbo ricrac - 10 yards long. It turned out really cute, if I do say so myself. Will post a pic of it this weekend when it serves as the decoration at my oilcloth booth at the California Utah Women's boutique at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. My friend Lauree and I have been sewing all-things-oilcloth for the sale.

I'm also working on primary program items for the big performance on Sunday- I wrote our ward's program and am working with the presidency on final tweeks, program inserts, and posters with words of the songs on them so the kids really sing it!

Finally, check out this cute project over at the Sew Mama Sew blog - their theme this month is scrapbusters. New projects every day to use up the boxes of fabric scraps you might have...

via Sew Mama Sew

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Birthday (tomorrow)

(fly fishing in the Provo River last month)
to the man in our house!! He's 34 this year. We love that he takes such good care of all of us girls at home. He's great at playing dolls, school, house, making craft projects and cooking with his daughters. I often say he would be a better househusband than I am housewife - our house would be cleaner, better organized and the meals would be fancier (our food budget would likely be much higher, too, as he likes expensive ingredients).

He's a fantastic husband - putting up with all of my projects and distractions and supporting me in whatever makes me and the fam happy. He is great at his job, fearless with people, and willing to help anyone in need. Yesterday, after being at church for meetings from 10-3:30 he stopped at home to change his clothes and then went right over to help cleanup the remaining possessions of a family in our ward whose house burned down during sacrament meeting. He got home at 8:30 pm. And yes, we are all counting our blessings today.

My friend from high school, Sara, told me a year or two after we were married, "You really lucked out, cause you couldn't have known he would be such a great husband when you got married 11 months after you met him - and you were 18 when you made that crazy decision. So, you are lucky he's awesome and not a loser." I am lucky and I know it.

BYU's Bean Museum, Provo

Angels Game - 3rd row seats, but Little S couldn't handle the noise

Family Days at the Getty Museum

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Domestic Divas

I know a few of them - the ladies who do it all and make it look easy (my grandmother is one of them) - gardening, canning, immaculate housekeeping.... I'm not one of them but I enjoy the crafting/creative side of domesticity. I've been thinking lately about that creative drive in so many women - especially young mothers. Why do we get involved in so many projects when there is already so much to do just to keep the house running?

I found an interesting answer in my current favorite book: The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule. (check out her great blog: SouleMama)She asserts that our creative spirits are awakened when we are around young children and the purity of their rich creative energy. This idea resonated with me and I have been devouring her book and ideas for fostering in our children creativity and interest in the natural world.

When I pulled out the boxes of baby toys before Baby J was born I remember how disappointed I was as I looked inside. I thought to myself, no wonder babies get bored with this stuff, it all looks the same. In the end, it is all just brightly colored plastic - blah. (we do have a few things for Baby J to play with other than plastic :)

The book is great and I've been trying a few of her ideas - today we went on a walk looking for things representing the autumn season (a bit tricky in SoCal). We brought home some leaves, berries, and flower petals. FYI- The Crafty Crow is another great site for kid craft projects.

As for my projects, I am involved in a Virtual Quilting Bee organized by a friend of a friend. Twelve of us (I personally know only 4 of the ladies) swap 1 12 inch quilt block each month. The design and fabric is picked by the leader for that month. Sept was the first go at it. Here are pics of the finished products - everyone got the same fabric but could make up their own design (mine is the bottom right of the last picture):