Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Wow. It's already over! All that preparation and anticipation and it's over. At least for another year. But the beautiful thing is that what we really celebrate today is something that gives our life meaning every day of the year. We are so grateful for Jesus Christ's birth, His life and His resurrection. We are thankful for the gospel and our eternal family. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Early Christmas to Us

You may know (see "Tree Trimming" below) that we have a very unique advent calendar. We have a sock for each day and every day there is a small prize for one of the four kids. This leaves us with the 25th day on which we get a family gift. This year the family gift day came on the 22nd. Let me explain...
Savannah made Guitar Hero addicts of us last year when she got it for Christmas. We have a lot of fun as a family competing against one another. We also have Sing Star and Karaoke Revolution. We have a blast with these as well (except Savannah. She mostly refuses to sing even though she has a very nice voice. She pours her concentration into Guitar Hero and it shows. She really kicks butt!). Well, combine those two activities and add a set of drums and you have Rock Band. And now we have a new addiction.Several months ago Savannah put some money down to reserve her copy of Rock Band. It came out a few days ago (a little earlier than expected) and Savannah had to pick it up on Saturday or they would sell it to someone else. Being the Christmas season, she wasn't able to scrape together near enough money to pay for it so I came up with the idea that this could serve as our family gift. This really benefits us all because if Savannah had paid for it completely with her own money she would assume that it is her right to rule the "band." But now it belongs to us all (I guess she has a few more shares than the rest of us in light of her contribution). There are sure to be many good times ahead.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

'Tis the Season for Concerts and Recitals (and for good measure, a little public humiliation)

Haven with Uncle MRK at the dance recital

Because this time of year isn't already busy enough, I think it is always fun to throw in a lot of extras like dance recitals and orchestra concerts. And actually those are the things I look most forward to. Even though, at least in my house, they begin with a whole rush of panicky questions: did you find your dance shoes? what about your bow tie? where is your music? you have to be there when? you want me to iron that now? will you grab the video camera? do you have to eat dinner tonight? These questions and their sometimes unfortunate answers are usually followed by the frantic loading up of the van and a silent prayer that we've remembered everything.

It was fortunate that Sage and Haven's dance recitals took place on the same night (this is good because they take lessons from the same place but the groups get split up on different nights for the Christmas recital). They were, however, at different times--Sage at 5:00 and Haven at 6:00. Not too bad except for now I have to keep two little kids happy for 2 hours. But it was great! Sage promises to smile more next time and Haven promises to only dance when her class dances next time. She danced on the side-line through all of the performances and even lost track of her surroundings during the last number and danced herself out onto the stage nearly missing being stepped on or kicked by some older girls before she was shooed back off-stage. But it was her first recital and how can she help it if she is moved by the music?
And as much I love concerts, I am glad that both of the girls are in orchestra. That way we get a two-for-one. They both did an excellent job and played really well.
Savannah & her Orchestra friends

It was nice that Eric got their performances on video because I made another one of my colossal mistakes. And this is where the public humiliation comes in. I thought about getting a babysitter for the two little people. I had even planned out who I would call. But in the end there was a concert to attend, two small children and no babysitter. Surely they will be okay. We can take them out when our girls aren't playing--give them a little break. It will all be fine. Or not.
Sage & her violin

It was a disaster! It turned out that both girls were performing on the side of the gym opposite from the exits. I knew that this immediately put us at a disadvantage. But I came prepared with a stroller hoping that Ryder would relax and enjoy the show. And I sat on the front row so that I could make an easy escape. But it all just went wrong.
Eric is in and out with one or both of the kids through most of the first half. I think at this point we are only slightly annoying to the people surrounding us. Then Haven, goofing around despite my pleadings for her to sit down, fell onto the floor bonking her head. I grab her and head for the door. She stifles a cry until we are safely outside where I quickly assess the damage and find that she is unhurt and mostly just scared. Even now our annoyance level only elevates to a really nasty look from a lady behind us which says, "I knew that would happen! She's been goofing off through half of the show! Why did you bring little kids here?" (She didn't really say this, of course, just her "look" said it.)
Well, what to do? I know! Let's give it another shot. In we go again. It's time for Savannah's orchestra to perform. Maybe five minutes into the performance I see the warning signs: Ryder is fidgety and refuses to stay in our little area, forcing me to get and and get him; Haven is climbing up and down the bleacher steps behind me--jumping from one to another; both of their protestations grow louder as I try in my very nicest public mommy voice to reign them in. And before I have a chance to cut my losses and bolt, Ryder's whining explodes into full fledged screaming. I pick up Ryder, grab Haven by the hand (she starts to scream now too, "I don't want to go!" repeatedly) and somehow push the stroller the full length of the gym past all of the irritated parents to the exit. I don't even look up to see the daggers that mean lady is shooting me this time. (I imagine, though, that they would interpret into something like, "Wow! You are a really stupid lady. You don't learn things very quickly, do you?") I don't stop at the exit. I don't even turn around. I head straight for the car.
Luckily, Eric and I had driven separately and I was able to load up and leave. I know something like this isn't the end of the world and that there were maybe one or two people who didn't even notice, but I was super-duper embarrassed and fear that I won't be invited back to the spring concert. It made me want to cry. Oh. Wait. I did cry. Only a little, though. I did get over it and the drive home helped me calm down so that I didn't want to beat my kids anymore (Haven, though, did have to go to bed as soon as we got home. Don't feel too bad for her! I didn't even begin to describe all her acts of naughtiness.)
Have I learned something you ask? Yes! Even though I would love for my little ones to experience the culture of an orchestra concert, it is not fair to ruin it for everyone else. Play the Cd's at home or in the car and get a dang babysitter for the actual concert!

I can't stay mad at these faces for too long.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Coming to a Costco Near You....

I just wanted to let you know that I bought a Martha Stewart Ham today. That's right! Martha Stewart sells a ham. I'm not sure how involved she is in the actual rearing of the pig itself, but I like to picture her collecting and dispensing the slop that my pig ate before it was slaughtered, packaged and sent to stores everywhere.

The blame goes to those darned Costco sample ladies. They sucked me in by smell alone. I didn't even get an actual sample (there were eight apparently hungry men pulling samples out of her hand before she could put them on the tray). But I needed a ham. And it smelled so good. And it actually comes in a cute little cloth cover. It almost looks gift wrapped.

Yes. Today I bought a Martha Stewart Ham. And if you want, you can too.
UPDATE: I just saw Martha on the Today show talking about holiday food and not one mention of her ham. Hmmmm.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Nose Assault!

How happy was I when, upon returning from a trip to the grocery store, I saw Sage exiting her room with vacuum cleaner in hand? Wow! She cleaned her room without being asked (threatened or bribed is more like it--simply asking gets me nowhere with that girl!). It was then that I was hit with the unmistakable scent of burning rubber. It only took a few minutes to find out that no--she hadn't cleaned her room and yes--the belt on the vacuum snapped.

Eric walked in soon after I did and got to work. I know I've mentioned how handy he is and his expertise does include minor vacuum repair. Luckily, vacuum belts for my particular model (Simplicity 7000 series--love it) come in a pair and we had one on hand. As Eric turned the vacuum over to begin inspection it was clear that it is usually a really good idea to clean the room first and then vacuum. Entwined in the vacuum was one of Sage's tank tops. I'm no expert, but that is probably what caused the belt to break, after filling our house with its putrid stink!

Sage claims that she was just cleaning up a spill and didn't realize that she sucked up a whole shirt. I think we all learned a thing or two. Sage learned that it is advisable to pick up things--bigger things--off of the floor before vacuuming. Eric learned that if engineering ever gets too boring he has an exciting future in vacuum repair. Ryder is beginning to learn how to follow in his dad's footsteps. Savannah was reassured that there is a good reason she keeps her room clean. Haven learned that a room smelling of burnt rubber is not sleepable (thank goodness for mom and dad's bed). And I learned that you can never assume that your children know the proper order in which to vacuum. But bless her heart for giving it a try.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Disaster Averted (or how I survived another minivan mishap)

As I walked towards the Kohls parking lot today after an hour of shopping a thought occurred to me, "who is the idiot who left the back of their van open?" This thought was followed quickly by another: "Oh, I'm the idiot." That sickening feeling is not one of my favorites (that's right, it's not the first time). I approached the van with trepidation as I reflected on what must have happened.

Hmmmm.....It seems like only hours ago (Eric-you may want to just skip reading this one)...After pulling in the parking lot I sat in the car for about 10 minutes while Ryder got in a little more nap time and I listened to The Pillers of the Earth on my iPod (when listening to a book I like to get to some sort of ending point before I get out of the car, if possible). I paused the iPod, put it in the center console, opened the back and side doors, and stepped out of the car. I retrieved the stroller from the back, put a now drowsy Ryder in the stroller, grabbed my purse and the bag of things I was returning, and began walking towards the store. I know I locked it. I distinctly remember hearing the beep. Now, did I close the back? Did I push that little button on the key? This is where I get a little fuzzy. I would at least like to think that I made an attempt and it just didn't work (that happens sometimes!). But I am just not sure.
So let me now publicly thank the Kohls shoppers who walked past my van and maybe laughed, called me an idiot (which, as you know, is what I would have done), rolled their eyes, or shook their head as they gave me a little tsk, tsk, tsk. They all walked by and left the contents of the van alone.

Things that could have been stolen:
- the xm radio
-my iPod
-Savannah's scriptures
-a broken tire gauge
-Haven's really cute new black sweater
-Ryder's coat and one of his jackets
-the diaper bag
-Sage's dance bag and shoes
-two car seats
-some mousse I just bought yesterday
-the book "I Capture the Castle"
-various magazines
-some lip stuff, pens, mascara, gum and a lot of what Eric would call "junk"
-2 sets of headphones for the dvd player (but not the remote because I already managed to lose that)
-several Christmas gifts (these were in the very back in plain sight of anyone walking past) worth quite a lot of money and one trip to the mall
-a lot of trash
-the whole van

I would like to add that before I left the house today I did remove the video camera from the car (left there after the girls' dance recital last night). So there was really no danger of ever losing that (this is for you, Eric, if you decided to read on).

I know that on a busy shopping day in an hours time there must have been a good deal of traffic passing by and boy, am I grateful that they did just that.

What have I learned from this? Sadly, nothing new. This is a lesson I have had the opportunity to learn before and apparently didn't. Will this time be the charm? I would like to think so. (Although, you would think that leaving the side door of a rental van open--with all of our vacation belongings inside--while we walked four blocks to watch the end of one of Eric's marathons would have been enough.) But I am going to go out on a limb and say, "This will never happen again." Probably.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Tree Trimming

There is nothing like decorating the house and tree to put you in the holiday spirit. And in our house this actually takes a few days and an overflow of aggravation until the last ornament is put on the tree and the boxes are finally moved back out to the garage. Each of the kids have special ornaments that they collect so I have included a few pictures. I should have taken the picture of the whole tree sooner--before it began getting trashed and we had to continually move the ornaments from the bottom higher and higher (thank you, Ryder).

These are some of the ornaments that Savannah collects. They were scattered all over so I couldn't get one good picture of them all.

These are most of Sage's Madam Alexander ornaments.

Haven's Fairies

Ryder's first Christmas ornament.

I guess these are sort of mine, I don't really collect anything. These are the Winnie the Pooh books. I couldn't even get them all in the picture-there are a lot!

For Eric from A Christmas Story. A Christmas classic for us.

The stockings are for a tradition that we started last year (the idea came from Family Fun). It is our own homemade advent calendar with perks (for the kids). Each sock represents December 1-25. And each day there is a small gift for one of the kids in that day's sock. The socks are open until that day passes and we close them when the child takes their gift out. It is a fun way to count down. On the 25th there is a gift for the whole family.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Giving Thanks

Even though I find myself hurtling towards Christmas at the speed of light, I would like to take a moment to comment on Thanksgiving and the events of that weekend. I would have done it sooner but I was so inconveniently sidelined by the tag (thanks again, Eliza).

We arrived in Orem around midnight after a fairly uneventful drive (thank goodness for small miracles!). As I had volunteered to make rolls for the next days meal I still had a few things to accomplish that night. I was proud of myself for choosing a recipe that I had actually made a few times (I usually tend to choose a new untried recipe when I have an assignment--rarely the wisest idea) in order to avert any sort of disaster. A tried and true recipe would surely make the task go more smoothly.

(http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Blue-Ribbon-Overnight-Rolls/Detail.aspx - I actually put these in the refrigerator overnight instead of out on the counter. Then let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before working with them the next day).

So, as I begin to make the rolls my mom is helpful in getting the ingredients and tools out and ready for me. As I begin batch #1 (one of four) I am excited to use my mom's fancy new measuring cups. Actually I think she got them for Christmas last year but this is my first opportunity to use them. I would someday like to get some for myself!

Now you'll notice that these fantastic collapsible measuring cups are shaped a little different than what you might be used to. For instance, the one cup measure is quite wide across the top. Well, as I measure each cup of flour I find myself thinking, "It would be hard for me to get used to such a shallow 1 cup measure. But I'm sure that the width makes up for the lack of depth." (Look, I'm no chef and there is a reason that I don't wing recipes--I need exact measurements--I don't "eyeball" well.) The first batch seems a little on the soupy side and I can't remember if this is what the dough looks like. I ask myself: Does the high altitude have something to do with it? Will the dough thicken up in the fridge? Am I ruining the Thanksgiving day rolls? What stores are open tomorrow morning? I carry on, however, and finish the remainder of the dough. It is all in the refrigerator and I begin to clean up. My mother (unfortunately for her but fortunately for me) cannot sleep even though it is going on 2 a.m. She walks into the kitchen as I am cleaning up and I casually ask her if she had a hard time adjusting to the odd size of the measuring cups. She picks the one cup measure up and pushes it through in the other direction and it is magically larger. Enter: very sick feeling. We figure out (by doing some fancy measuring) that each batch is missing about one cup of flour. I pull the dough out of the refrigerator and begin adding the missing flour. It ends up a little lumpy and I know that these will not be my best rolls ever. The next day I do need to pull the bigger lumps out of the dough before baking but they turn out mostly edible. Add some butter and they are not half bad. All in all it worked out (not half as bad as The Great Chocolate Pie Disaster of '03).

We spent Thanksgiving dinner with my family and most of the remainder of the weekend with Eric's family. We were celebrating his parents' 50th wedding anniversary (go Barbara and Jerry!). It was a fantastic weekend. Everyone was there except for Jared, who is serving a mission in New York. On Friday morning at the Scera Theatre we viewed a video of mom and dad's life; had a huge family picture taken before enjoying lunch, a very nice and touching program, and a visit from The Underwear Fairy at Thanksgiving Point; and spent the rest of the weekend in Midway, Utah at the Zermatt Resort.

It was quite fabulous! We all had such an amazing time. The resort was beautiful, the pool was great fun, the food (especially the brunch) was beyond delicious, and the company was the best. There were a few little hiccups (aren't there always) but they were easily ironed out when put in the hands of my very capable sister-in-law, Diana (she just knows how to get things done--matter of fact, by the time Diana had worked her magic you only had to mention the name "Elison" and things were handed to you).

Some other highlights that weekend were: BYU beating Utah, seeing the movie Enchanted, Savannah and Sage's yearly Thanksgiving night sleepover with Maren, inadvertently buying a new TV (MRK braved the crowds on Black Friday in order to do a little people watching at Walmart but came home with a new TV. Needless to say this little escapade did not go over too well with Natalie. They already have two very nice televisions and no need for a third. So Eric and I took it off their hands), grandma making us cozy new slippers, and visiting with the Clarks in St. George on the way home. It was a great weekend.

I am thankful for:

-my family (all of you!)

-good friends

-a home and a car and running water and heat and air conditioning and indoor plumbing

-the gospel and all the blessings it brings

-books and the people who write them

and a few things I'm thankful for right at this moment for one reason or another:

cream of wheat, baby wipes, toothpaste, a bra that fits, Christmas music, candles, lotion, slippers, and Kleenex

I also want to tell you that Haven brought a cute little cut out of a hand home from preschool and on it was written, "I am thankful that my mom goes to Costco." I'm thankful for that too.

Need some Christmas fun in your life? http://www.elfyourself.com/?id=1189023607

Until next time.