Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Adventures in Grocery Shopping and Imaginary Friends

Eliza's turning into a Southerner.

Having always been keen on informing me of her next move, I'm usually the first to know if she's planning to to delve into her dress-ups or if she's thinking about removing all the cushions from the front room couch. Most of the time, it seems like she's looking for Mom's approval before pursuing a new activity. The more enthusiastic of a response I give, the happier she is. It won't be long until she wises up and realizes that it's probably better to keep her scheming to herself. Until then, you won't catch me complaining!

Lately, she's added on a Southern phrase when making such an announcement.

"Wait Mom, I have to run and go potty right quick!" Before I know it, she'll be fixin to go fishin with her Pa. Her Southern accent remains dormant; while my impersonation of said accent continues to ripen. In honor of her Southern Belle transformation, I'm posting a video of our favorite songs from library singing time. Presenting, "Five Fat Sausages" and "Two Little Dicky Birds"

Eliza's BFF has been under the weather for the past week. She seems to be going through social withdrawal. I discovered yesterday that she was interacting with a group of make believe friends during the duration of our morning activity.

"Quiet Dora, Diego, Alicia and Boots!" She whispered to her friends who, at that moment, were sitting in the back of our van. "Don't you see? I'm buckled in my car seat." Listening intently, I smile as I hear her continue,

"We're almost there! Don't worry." After story time, we made our way back home where the five of them ate lunch together.

Based on my *ahem* maternal instinct, I have a hunch of what her group of playmates look like.

**SHIFTING GEARS ENTIRELY**

Last night, I left the children home with Andrew to grocery shop. I shop every two weeks and do my absolute best to stay out of the store between trips. Our system works well and has helped save us money as we've eliminated those impromptu, impulse buying, quick trips to the store.

Needless to say, my cart is overflowing with household necessities as I approach the checkout stand. I've become a little O.C.D. when I grocery shop. I've become that Mom who types up her list and categorizes it by grocery store section (Dairy, Baking Goods, Produce, etc.). I admit that I'm a little bit anal as I meticulously place each item in my cart.

Last night as I saw a woman nonchalantly chucking her choices into her basket; I fought back the urge to shout,

"Don't you realize what you're RISKING?"

I carry a pen and cross of each items as I go. The only thing I'm lacking is a clipboard. I am a huge nerd. I get it. And I'm totally serious about wanting a clipboard.

It gets worse. I have a slight adrenaline rush (I said, SLIGHT) when it comes time to put my recently bagged items back into my cart. It never fits the way it did when I first arrived at the check out stand. Depending on the length of line and friendliness of the cashier, I take my time as arrange it back into my cart.

Last night's cashier wasn't the patient type despite me being the only person in her line. However, the real slap in the face came when I left the store. I was greeted by a fierce TORRENTIAL DOWN POURING OF RAIN. My visibility suffered as I struggled to maneuver my heavy load to my car. Looking (and feeling) like I had just submerged myself in a pool of water, I CHUCKED each bag into the back of our van, hating myself all the while. My careful and thoughtful strategy was wasted.

I think we can all conclude that I need to get out more. Moments of excitement ought to be spent somewhere other than the grocery store. Alas, dear reader, not much is going on and this mundane experience is the best I've got for you today.

Anyone else grocery shop the way I do? It's okay to post your admission anonymously if it makes you more comfortable. Did you have imaginary friends growing up? Do you still have imaginary friends?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ice cream makes it all better. That's a life lesson.

Last night, it was my turn to pray with Andrew.

"Dear Heavenly Father,
(*insert the usual expressions of gratitude here*)
We thank thee for our children's health...

(pause)


Opening my eyes I look up. Suddenly it dawns on me.

"Oh honey! I just remembered! Henry has a doctor's appointment in the morning. TIME OUT! I have to go down stairs and check how early I have to be there!!!" And that is the closest thing to personal inspiration that I've experienced in a long while.

Following the happily remembered appointment, the kids and I hit our local McDonald's (9:45 am) for a round of $1.00 sundaes. Eliza & Henry earned the early morning treat after a heart wrenching, long lasting appointment this morning. In addition to the expected immunizations, Henry was in need of some lab work to check his iron levels.

This is me at my job.
Usually, it's pure awesome.
However, trips to the Doctor's office
qualify as being totally ugly.

After five painful minutes of squeezing the tip of his tiny finger (imagine someone juicing a lemon for a visual) failed; the phlebotomist fetched a more capable co-worker. She was able to successfully draw enough blood from his arm. Feeling bitter that the first attempt had been futile considering how long she'd tortured him; I found myself questioning my decision to remind the doctor that he was in need of a follow up test.

Poor Henry wailed and wailed. Feeling helpless, I buried my tearful face into his chest while restraining his angry limbs. I kissed his free hand and stroked his hair as we waited through his distress. All the while, a distraught Eliza ordered,

"Get Henry away from that lady, Mama!" The experience was drawn out (pun intended) and I found myself feeling unprepared as I did my best to pass the time for Eliza. During our wait at the lab, Eliza entertained the waiting room as she spun in circles. A thoroughly dizzy version of my child tottered unsteadily after an intense round of spinning. As she clumsily made her way to my chair, she hollered,

"I AM FINE MOM! DON'T WORRY, I'M FINE!!" and then she collapsed. The room erupted in laughter.

Henry's growth pleased the doctor. He's still a peanut (below the 5th percentile in weight but finally in the 20th for height) but after looking at the dots on his chart, he was confident in his progress. Developmentally he's right on track with his word usage, understanding, etc.

At the moment, he weighs a solid 20 lbs and 6 ozs.

I felt bad that Andrew had to miss out on all of the excitement. In fact, I called him during one of our waits to inform him of our child's ordeal.

"Please console him" I said as I put my cell phone to Henry's ear. In his most business-like, bored and monotone sounding voice, Andrew said,

"Hello Henry. This is Daddy." Man. He nearly put Henry to sleep with all of that enthusiasm! Andrew's personality shifts to incredibly serious (a.ka. dull) when he's in his professional element. I respect that but am certain that his co-workers are clueless to the type of man he really is.

He's a man-child whose children are his best play-mates. He derives great joy from amphibians and reptiles. He loves to laugh. His garden makes him giddy and the group of young men that he teaches each week at Church silently admire him 'somethin fierce.' He's a solid role model and a great Daddy.

On Saturday, I handed over the keys to my incredibly hot Mom-mobile (I'm still a proud owner of a Sienna) so that I could attend Super Saturday, which was an estrogen-filled, craft happy marathon of a morning. As I tried my hand at a power drill, Andrew loaded up the kids for a fishing trip.

Coming home, I discovered a new addition to our cookie jar. You may remember from a previous outing that our cookie jar was recently nominated to serve as our replacement fish tank. The current tenants are a pair of tadpoles that were captured from a nearby creek. To Andrew's great delight they have transformed into full fledged frogs. You can often find him catching house flies or crickets and feeding them alive to the frogs (gross).

After their outing, he introduced our frogs to a four inch blue gill that Eliza caught. When I came home, he greeted me at the door with an enthusiastic smile.

"Eliza caught three fish this morning! LOOK!"

He's smart. Certainly the wife wouldn't be upset that the cookie jar was now housing a decent sized fish if it was entangled with a piece of her daughter's happiness! Clearly, he was the one who couldn't wait to show me. Still, Eliza was proud of her fish. She named him Scram (No idea what inspired the name). Scram enjoyed a few hours in our cookie jar, but unfortunately didn't make it through the night.

Scram was the smallest of three fish she caught. The hook was deeply lodged, Andrew explained, and if he hadn't brought it home in a nalgene bottle, (a nalgene bottle that I will never be drinking from again) the fish would not have survived. He took him home to perform the necessary life saving operation... that essentially extended his life for a matter of hours.

RIP Scram.

His enthusiastic mood continued after picking a bowl of tomatoes. I had to laugh as I scrolled through the images on my camera the following day. There were loads of pictures of our kids. All of which, were taken by me.

Then, I saw a batch of pictures taken by Andrew of the same deformed tomato. There were six pictures of the same tomato taken a variety of ways. This collage is for you Andrew.

He plays and loves and dotes on his children. However, it's the curious looking tomato that qualified for the experimental photo shoot :)

Last week, some ladies from our the ward and I caravaned our children to the Zoo. We're averaging a weekly Zoo visit as of late! And if you'll notice in the group picture below, there was one child in particular who refused to comply and conform to having her picture taken.
This response is truly typical of my sweet child. You should see the past two family portraits. At Katie's wedding last summer, Eliza's the only child whose head is about to fall off from screaming in protest. At my parent's home this past Christmas, the picture shows tears of rage for being forced to sit still for the single group shot we took.

Alas, I love her to death. I love Henry too and ached horribly for him this morning.

However, the phone rang two minutes ago. It was the Dr.'s office. His levels are NORMAL and I am one grateful Mom. The peace of mind outweighs the trauma. Here's to a great week full of happy news for each of you.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Grab a Tissue. This is important.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to meet the Skinner family. My sister recently told me of their story and after spending a few minutes on their website, I left with an overwhelming desire to help.

If you have a moment, please read their story and look through their photos, I know your heart will be touched. There is a blog entry written by their Mom that is not to be missed. Hopefully, you'll feel inspired to help and share their story anyway you can.

This is absolutely legitimate. My sister knows them personally as she lives in their ward. The Skinners have teamed up with C.O.T.A. (Childrens Organ Transplant Association) which is a charity to help raise funds on their family's behalf. That further validates my claim that this is real.

While we're on the subject of "An Important Cause" - I'd like to direct your attention to the Coleman family blog. We're privileged to call the Coleman's our friends. Their story will likewise inspire you to be a better parent, to feel an increase of gratitude for your own blessings and help put into perspective what really matters.

A donation fund is set in place for their son Jonas to help ease the burden of medical bills. A cure for SMA has to be found! I love this little boy Jonas to pieces and am in constant awe of the strength of his parents.

Hoping to follow my own advice, please give until it hurts and share their stories.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How to Have Friends While Surviving Motherhood

This phase of my life is awesome. There are days when I want to freeze time and keep my children to myself forever. I suppose that recording (in an unfortunate amount of detail) their idiosyncrasies is the next best thing.

Saturday morning, we made our way to the zoo. The Blaser family was kind enough to chauffeur our entire family. With five young children, Michelle and I often joke that our quality 'hang out' time occurs when driving together or as we talk on the phone when our kids are sleeping.

While on a play-date, conversations are frequently interrupted as we referee our feuding three year olds (Talon & Eliza), console an upset toddler after a spill on the playground (Colby & Henry) or soothe to sleep sweet baby, Nate. We love our jobs but are easily distracted from our train of thought.

You can understand why I look forward to the outings where a friend and I can travel in the same vehicle. Considering that our children generally behave well (or sleep) while we travel, we have the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation. We discuss our childhoods, dating histories, our husband's career plans, dream vacation spots and the latest episode of The Bachelorette without interruption.

Recently we discovered that if we both hit Sonic for slushies and drinks after story time, we can roll down our respective car windows and chit-chat while our kids stay occupied with their slush. To lead a productive social life as a Mother, creativity is required.

Returning to our weekend recap, I'd say that our trip to the zoo was a success. It was great having Andrew with us. That extra pair of adult eyes made things easier, not to mention, he could ensure the well being of our kids as I soaked in time with Nate! Henry gave us a surprise when he climbed the steep stairs to reach the slide on his own accord. Andrew was there to assist him down the slide until they both felt brave enough to let him go at it on his own.
With doting Grandparents, every "first" is worth documenting. Right?



Henry's vocabulary is flourishing. Of course, his words are modified in a way that most people would have to second guess what he's attempting to say. He frequently says: ball, uh-oh, bye-bye, thank you, mine, dog, dot, choo-choo, Mama, etc.

He woke us up one night for a late night diaper change. As Andrew placed his little fresh bummy back into his crib, a very sleepy Henry bid Andrew farewell as he whispered in his low voice, "Bye-Bye!"
As for Miss Eliza, she's thrilled to be anywhere that involves children. She's incredibly friendly and is quick to introduce herself to anyone who makes eye contact. Her latest thrill is taking part in all of my telephone conversations. She's very into traffic lights, gender and "Family Prayer Night" (family home evening) .

"Mom! The red lights says STOP!" While eating a meal as a family, she'll insist that we put down our forks as she excuses herself to use the bathroom.

"Red light!" she'll scream. Translation: cease what you're doing this instant! It is not permissible that we continue our meal until she returns from the potty, grabs a handful of sanitizer and yells, "Green light!" - which is our cue that we can return to our dinner.

In terms of her obsession with gender identification, she informs me regularly,

"I'm a girl like you Mom and Henry's a boy like Daddy." Or she'll say, "There are two girls in the car and one boy." However, if she happens to be wearing a Thomas shirt, she likes to pretend that she's a boy, like Thomas. The other day I was trying to get her to try some lasagna.

"Thomas loves to eat lasagna." I lied. "Big girls and Thomas like to try new food."

"No Mom." she said, "Thomas can't eat. Thomas doesn't have any hands." I lost that round.

Her interest seems to be shifting as I watch her nurture her stuffed animals and play pretend with her dolls. This afternoon she spent time with her dress-ups As I look at that picture of 'Princess Eliza' clutching her beloved train, I know that I will forever have a soft spot for that cheeky little engine. Next to her Daddy, he was her first love. Moments later, Henry recovers the discarded train and happily totes him around. It's as if she's subconsciously passing the baton to her younger counter-part.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Psycho Hose Beast

Once a month, I'm guaranteed to hear the following joke from Andrew:

"He Ali, you know why they call it, 'PMS' don't you?Completely past the point of feigning ignorance, I choose to remain silent. Despite my lack of response (and attention), Andrew continues.

"Because Mad Cow Disease was already taken!" And then, for the 37th time, he laughs to himself. I will hear that joke, once a month, for the rest of my life. Or, at least until I hit menopause.

Once a month, Andrew will discover a pan of brownies on the counter. Unlike an evening meal, these brownies were hastily made from a box. They weren't made out of love. They were made out of sheer desperation.

Once a month, I fight an unwelcomed weight of emotion. Logic, patience and reason are on vacation. I watch and feel myself unravel for no justifiable reason.

Once a month, I see my husband quietly counting the days on the calendar. Seconds later, he is dodging the shoe that's been chucked in his direction.

On a regular basis, my husband puts his foot in his mouth. Following a pleasant afternoon at Church, we load up the kids for the drive home. Seeing my distress, he leans over in the car and says,

"I can't say that I know how you feel, because I don't." Curious to see where he's headed, I keep quiet.

"What I'm trying to say is that I know that once a month you are a s-s-s-super sensitive being." Totally pleased by his understanding, I smile over at him.

"Andrew, wow. Thank you. I have to say I'm impressed with your description. That was very nice of you. And, no offense, somewhat unexpected."

(*insert foot in mouth HERE)

"Well the first thing that came to mind was Psycho Hose Beast..."

His humor and creative use of verbiage trumped all desire to be upset. I chose to laugh rather than to be offended.

Sure, Andrew and I have 'pet names' for each other. I call him, "Honey" and "Babe" regularly. As for him, he lovingly refers to me as the "Psycho Hose Beast." What are the loving nick names you and your significant other share?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Snakey Business

The children paid a visit to super hero boot camp last week at our library. Their morning was filled with action packed songs, stories, a super pack of fruit snacks and a craft. In keeping with the theme, Eliza and Henry personalized their very own super hero cape and mask.

In typical big sister fashion, Eliza swiped his yellow cape and replaced it with her purple cape after we arrived home. Henry didn't seem to mind!


As you can see, I delight in Eliza's imagination. As she extends her super hero arms and bravely exclaims, "To the rescue!" I feel lucky that I'm able to watch her live her childhood. Sometimes these moments reconnect me with my own. In slight contrast, Andrew continues to prove (again and again) that he has yet to give up living his own childhood. To be fair, I have to say that I likewise feel delighted as I witness his child-like enthusiasm. The most recent example involves snakes.

While on the phone discussing Scouting business, I quietly observe as my husband stares out the window. As he listens to his counter-part, he watches as the rain pelts our patio. Exiting the scene, I make my way toward the stair case only to be assaulted by a burst of silent enthusiasm. Still on the phone, Andrew mouths impatiently,

"COME LOOK OUT THE WINDOW!" Caught off guard by his level of energy, I make my way to the play room to have myself a looksie.

"A SNAKE! A SNAKE!!!" He shrieks through a whisper! Distracted beyond belief, he interrupts his caller.

"Dale!" He says. "I'm sorry. Something's come up." Debating if he should be more specific he pauses a moment. "THERE'S A SNAKE IN MY BACK YARD - I'll cal you back!!!"
(I love the top right picture of Henry chasing his Daddy down the hill)

Without missing a beat, Andrew is outside chasing the long black serpent. After his effort to snatch it up with the handle of a mop proves futile, he goes after it the old fashioned way. Next thing I know, he's in the house, clasping the snake in his hands and hollering for the kids to come see! Creeped out, I shoe him back outside. At first, the kids seemed content to observe through the glass door. Two minutes later, they're outside. Mustering up a higher level of super hero bravery, they approach the snake.


The snake adventure continued on Saturday as we enjoyed an afternoon of hiking with the Blasers. After surviving the dangerous descent to the actual trail (not exaggerating) we made our way to a beautiful water fall.

Socks and shoes were discarded as the kids (husbands included) waded in the shallow pool of water. Several minutes passed before a snake (possibly a water snake or copper head - either way it was venomous) was discovered. The highlight of our encounter came as we watched it swallow a fish much larger than itself at close range.

Fear was felt by some (my hand is raised) and enthusiatic curiousity was experienced by others (all hands pointing to Andrew!). After a picnic lunch we packed up the five children, dug shoes out of mud and made our way back up the trail.
I ought to mention that a significant piece of the trail was in fact created by Andrew. Not knowing where the trail head was, we bush-wacked our way down an INCREDIBLY STEEP hill. All I could do was pray that no one would fall as we navigated ourselves and five children down a hill that was littered with granite boulders that shifted easily.

We survived. Andrew carried Eliza in his arms and had Henry on his back. Jimmy did the same with his sons, Talon and Colby as Michelle kept her newborn protected in her arms with the help of a baby bjorn. It was totally stupid of us to take this on. I'm so thankful we made it to the actual trail with our children in one piece. It was reckless. Not even the cool kind of reckless. But it was defintely the memorable kind of reckless.

Here's hoping to a snake-free week here in the South. I hope all is well with you, dear reader, wherever it is you find yourself now.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Face In Hole Dot Com

Thanks to my friend Brittany, I'm now addicted. Chalk this up as further evidence that I lead a rather "quiet" life. The truth is I laughed and laughed as I messed around with our new identities.

Let's begin with my favorite. What if I were blond? What if I was the mother of eight?

I assure you; our marriage is solid. Next up, Eliza's favorite.
"Chugga-Chugga Choo Choo!!"

Finding Henry

Hola! My manchilada sizzles! He thought the same thing when he saw me as Susan Boyle!
Eliza. She is a peach.

What's the smell? Shrek? Is that you?
I admit, this one makes me jealous.
Any guess on this final one?

The Hills. LA Candy. Frenemy of Speidi... I wish I could afford to be blond.

It's been a year? Are you kidding me?

Fill in the blank.
Bold
Taking a walk down memory lane can be __________.

(What word would you use?)

This afternoon, I spent time reviewing posts that I wrote a year ago. Based on that experience, I find myself reaching for more than one adjective.

Taking a walk down memory lane can be,

A.) Hilarious
B.) Surprising
C.) Sorrowful
D.) Rewarding

With my children down for their afternoon nap, I clicked open "Booksmart" to continue the tedious, and sometimes emotional, task of transforming my blog into a book. As I worked on designing pictorial layouts and copying text from the June & July 2008 entries; I relived sad, humorous and hopeful moments.

In the past year, the question I've been asked most often has been, "What brought you all the way out here from Utah?" My answer is usually a deferral from the truth.

"Good question." or
"I have no idea." or
"Ask my husband."

A more personal response would be that we had been living in limbo and it was time to move on. We made a hard decision and followed a feeling/prompting that would lead us far away from those we loved most. I knew before we left that it would be hard. Even with the emotional preparation, I learned last summer that expecting difficulty and experiencing difficulty are two different things.

(Pardon me, but can I copyright that last sentence? I like it.)

I don't expect you, dear reader, to mimic the literary journey I took this afternoon but the links I provided in the above paragraph illustrate the feelings of sorrow I carried prior to our departure. One of the "surprising factors" came in the form of the loads of comments I once acquired.

If you leave comments, you earn comments. Clearly the decline is a result of my personal lack in leaving comments. Or I've just put my audience to sleep one too many times. Even so, as I re-read them, I felt tremendous gratitude for those who left encouraging words. The support, the empathy and advice from friends who are in our same position carried me.

I don't mean to sound dramatic. I know that I do. I can't seem to shake it off of my personality.

I was surprised to see this footage of Eliza and Henry. Absolutely, it made me laugh. It captured her blossoming personality. But to hear her mutter the word, "Poot!" when informing me that she needed a fresh diaper astounded me. Eliza once wore diapers? No way! Hasn't Eliza always been able to form intelligent sentences?

Henry's physical transformation was likewise stunning. He once was a baby. A year ago, I took away that sweet baby from the loving reach of his Grandparents. In a matter of 12 months he's transformed into an utterly adorable toddler. I can't give them back those months. And I feel kind of terrible about it.

An entry dedicated to my husband's antics reminded me that somethings never change. And for that, I'm grateful.

What's rewarding is that we've made it a year as Utah transplants in the South. I survived that heart ache. I no longer feel like a total foreigner at our local Chik-fillet. I've grown accustomed to the accent. Well, I guess I should say that the urge I battled of bursting into inappropriate fits of laughter at the sound of it has passed. It's the norm now. I understand the culture. Kind of. I appreciate the manners instilled in the children here. I respect the deep Christian sentiment in our area and no longer feel intimidated to be among the religious minority.

And most importantly, I know what a hush puppy is. I know how a hush puppy tastes and I know why a hush puppy is called a hush puppy!

There remains a void from the lack of contact with family, but we have made special memories with them this past year and will have another opportunity to make more soon (Hello, Lake Powell!). The longing to "be there" does not cease. Our desire to find our way back to Utah increases. With that being said, it is my hope that when that day comes, leaving this place we now call home will be a painful, heart breaking event. That will be the evidence needed to prove that we thrived, grew and loved our life here in the South.

Congratulations to me. You got through the first year. And you know what? You're exceedingly happy.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Way We're Wired

Last night, we feasted.

And so did the mosquitoes. On the limbs of my children. A memo was sent to inform the local swarm. It read:

A mother has neglected to shield her offspring with a solid dose of bug spray. ATTACK!

Alerted to their unprotected flesh, they shamelessly helped themselves. Eliza is paying the price of my mistake today. Poor thing. I feel terrible.

"Mommy, I've got an itchy right here!" Scratching in vain, she points to the swollen bite on her ankle. Praying for the "placebo effect" to take root, I apply another layer of Hydro-cortisone cream to her 'angry' (as a Southerner would say) looking welt.

Despite the battle wounds incurred from the weekend festivities, I can confidently say the 4th of July Andrew and I shared this weekend was easily the best we've experienced to date. Before I hurt feelings (Hi Mom), allow me to continue with this year's recap.

With the patriotic sentiment still stirring in my heart, I'd like to begin by saying two things:

1. God Bless America

(and secondly)

2. God Bless the Blaser Family

Every holiday, you can count on me to redundantly explain: (*cue violins)

"Holiday's are difficult when you're 1900 miles away from family. Blah, blah, Sob, Sob, Sob (sniff, sniff, sniff)"

The remedy: Awesome friends.

With that being said, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the Blaser family for taking us on as their charity project this past year. This last week Michelle brought over a mouth-watering casserole, homemade zucchini bread, hauled my kids and me to the zoo and invited us out for a an outing at the lake. A casserole! Can you believe it? Nobody even died. I didn't have to give birth either! She's just awesome like that.

Friday morning we took the ten minute drive out to the lake with a boat. The boat was designed to house fishermen; small fishermen, that enjoy cruising at leisurely pace. After establishing a "rescue plan" and securing life jackets, I felt better about our snug situation. The adults humored me as I assigned each adult to a specific child to save in the event of our boat cap sizing. I was further comforted when I experienced first hand what our boat's max speed (or lack there of) was. The ride was delightful.
We enjoyed a spot of fishing before we returned to our original quest for a beach. Acknowledging that the lake was pretty well dotted with homes, we knew the odds were slim. Knowing two of the residents personally, we (meaning Andrew) mustered the courage to knock on one of their doors. Having recently participated in a service project with the Scouts on their property, he felt it was alright to ask if we could spell our children for a bit (ward members).

"They're restless." he explained. "Would it be alright if they stretched their legs and played in your sand for twenty minutes or so?" Their generous reply,

"Stay for ten hours if you'd like!" They were thrilled to have people enjoying their property. Andrew and Jimmy returned the favor by repositioning one of their docks. Feeling better about their service, we had a most relaxing visit. We took their kayaks out for a spin, devoured melted chocolate chip cookies, celebrated Eliza's willingness to go pee in the lake (a huge milestone - something I'm still reluctant to do) and waded in the sun-warmed lake water.Other than Andrew's glasses falling off his face while he was swimming with Henry, the day passed by without a hitch. His glasses were recovered and we made our way back to the marina. The kids had a race to see who could fall asleep the quickest. Colby won! Henry was a close second. That afternoon, we took our kids to the movie theatre for the first time. Eliza was transfixed, elated and totally into the movie. Henry, who was a little bit intimidated by the whole process, sat still for the majority of the film. Dinner at Costco (Andrew's choice!) followed and then we hurried home for bed.

The morning of the fourth we woke early; too early if you ask me. We made plans to attend our ward's annual holiday breakfast. I informed Eliza that we were there to celebrate America's birthday. Eliza is always up for a birthday party!
Tearfully, we recited the Pledge of Allegiance, sang hymns honoring our country and then raced to our spot in line (my children were proclaiming stravation) for breakfast. Bubbles, games of Duck, Duck, Goose and bad mitton followed.

That evening, our friends the Fletchers were kind enough to have us over for a BBQ and fireworks. Eliza was thrilled with their playground and trampoline. Being completely outnumbered, the little boys were quite chiverlous in their attempts to keep her happy and safe while jumping on the tramp. It warmed my heart.
The men folk were unable to contain their enthusiasm. When asked why they were so excited, Andrew simply explained, "We're just wired that way."

That phrase has been adopted into our ever day conversation. It's an "excuse" we both fall back on. I'm a worrier by nature (ie: our boating excursion). Andrew likes to blow things up. We're just wired that way.

We obliged their request to move the party to the front yard while we waited an hour for the sun to set. It was as if they shared a need to be near their explosives. Andrew was giddy. The fireworks we acquired are illegal in Utah. Seeing as how they are totally legal here, the showing we had was quite spectacular. And loud. The demonstration was enjoyed by all. Well, almost.

Eliza, frightened by the noise, made herself comfortable under a pile of blankets.She'd catch a glimpse occasionally as she re-situated the blankets. Accidentally, her enthusiasm would escape into a wide smile. And then, as I'd pretend not to notice, she'd hurry back into her fortress to wait out the next round of "BOOMS!"

Until next year, God Bless America & God Bless our Troops!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ushering in the Holiday Weekend

The kids are finally in bed. And so are Eliza's dolls. What a relief.

Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty have been arguing all day. According to Eliza's imagination, they've both had their share of "naughty" spells. Being the firm, albeit fair, disciplinarian that she is, Eliza does not hesitate in putting them on time out when rules have been broken. Showing forth an increase of love following her chastisement, Eliza kindly reads to them. After a story, she'll lay down next to her girls to indulge in a moment or two of cuddles before nap time. It's quite sweet, well... most of the time. Knowing that she is mimicking me can be a humbling experience when she is in chastisement mode. Exiting the fascinating realm that is my child's imagination, I return now to reality. ZAP!

Andrew's weekend began today. Productivity was on his mind this morning.
Involving herself in his business was on hers.

I don't think he minded much. They make a great team. You may disagree, but posting photos of Andrew on that lawn mower never gets old.During snack time, we got a little silly trying on various hats. (Oh wait. That's weird. Is Eliza wearing a Thomas the Train shirt again? It's clean. I promise.) We made plans for a "fun" outing after the kid's nap. It's not very often that Andrew has work off on a Thursday. We felt that we owed it to ourselves to make the day more interesting. A (free) visit to a nearby "fountain park" is what we came up with.

They had a blast!
Henry was timid in the beginning. The poor dear never quite grasped the concept that the jet of water would return to full strength after its momentary absence. Consequently, he swallowed a bit more than I think he would have liked. On a day when I have an extra smidgen of patience for the machine that is our computer, I will upload a video demonstrating what I mean. I'm looking forward to a return visit. In other news, my young cowboy...

is growing up. Despite being small for his age, he is putting on weight. Even though I am pleased with his developmental progress, I still felt sad as I said "goodbye" to the remaining 3-6 & 6-9 month size clothes that I packed away this week. Aside from feeling like an old person after carrying him up the stairs for a nap (out.of.shape.), my sweet Henry feels differently as I rock him. He fits differently in my arms than I'm accustomed too. Our days of rocking together are FAR from being over, but the feel of him being "tiny" is changing. He's a ... tod...(sniff, sniff) dler!!!

And I adore him.

Speaking of being winded while climbing the stairs; have you ever woken up with a sore muscle and couldn't recall a valid reason for its existence? A muscle in my thigh burns as I climb stairs. I exercised? Not recently, no. Then why in the Sam-Hill am I suffering so?

Tonight, as I downloaded pictures onto the laptop, I was reminded of our trip to the zoo. The first half of the zoo is one big incline. The Blasers were kind enough to let my children and I tag along with their family this week.
Eliza sure knows how to PICK her friends. Get it? I swear. The only time she goes exploring for treasure is when I pull out the camera. These two are so adorable when they're not screaming at each other.

I leave you now with my wish that you have a happy and safe Fourth of July. Aside from feeling somewhat guilty that I don't have a Flag displayed in my yard, I am looking forward to this years festivities. My neighbors across the street have three flags in their yard, meaning they're three times more patriotic than we are. I've considered borrowing one from them, but am quite sure they'd notice.

God Bless America & God Bless our Troops!