Dec 22, 2008

Save the Newsletters!

Attention FAFNAF (friends and family near and far):

The worst snow storm in Seattle in 10 years + 4 days stuck indoors = the annual Christmas Letter is ready to go out!

If you've moved in the last year and haven't given me your new address AND you want a letter (you know you do), you have until Thursday. On Christmas day we'll be heading South and recycling any poor, sad, unread newsletters. Save these cute little guys from the awful fate of the blue bin and email me today-- they're counting on you.

Dec 16, 2008

Getting into the Spirit of things

As an addendum to my previous post, the kids do have their own tree which they decorate themselves and I am not allowed to touch. Here it is:

It's amazing how they are able to capture the true essence of Christmas.

The holidays are in full swing over here. A few days ago Sam put together some "presents" to put under the tree. They contain highly sought-after items such as a half used tube of toothpaste and dried out crayola markers. Like they say, tis better to give than to receive.

Christmas is such a great time to learn what your true priorities are. I'm often asking the kids the "What's more important?" question (ie what's more important: your being nice to your brother or sitting in the exact middle of the couch?). Last night I was looking at ads and putting together a shopping list when the kids broke yet another glass ball ornament. Mia kept telling me that Sam was touching it, while I distractedly kept telling them to "just leave it alone, we'll deal with it later." Finally Mia got a little fed up.

What 's more important: Sam getting killed, or coupons?

It had been one of those days...I had to think about it for a while.

Hope you're enjoying the Holidays everyone.

Dec 15, 2008

The Not So Mysterious Man in Velvet

Ward Christmas Party Dialogue:

Mia, did you tell Santa what you wanted for Christmas?

No, it was just the Bishop. He's not going to give me any presents.

Dec 11, 2008

Christmas Games

All the planets aligned tonight and we managed to decorate our Christmas tree, which now looks slightly less plastic, but only just. In an unusual turn of events, we actually had a good time, and were quite taken by surprise that all 5 people in our family could be happy at the same time while in the same room. It's a Christmas miracle. I managed to successfully act like I didn't care that there were 12 silver ornaments on one branch and 7 bows on another, all just about at Sam's eye level. And I even refrained from redecorating it after they went to bed for at least an hour, until the Martha Stewart in me couldn't take it anymore. But I guarantee you that tomorrow morning, Mia will walk in and immediately say Hey! That's not where I put that silver snowflake! And thus will begin our favorite Christmas game of Mia redecorating the tree each day, and me "fixing" it at night. This will be repeated every day until Christmas, or until enough ornaments have been broken that we stop caring. I just love holiday traditions!

Dec 8, 2008

For the Grandparents

I suppose it's time for an update. Which would mean tons of pictures of my kids being super cute, and detailed descriptions of all the unbelievable fun we've been having, except that I've only taken about 3.4 pictures since Halloween and, according to my kids, no one has had any fun around here since at least 2006. So instead, here are some things that you'll probably only enjoy if you happen to be one of my kid's grandparents. For the rest of you, I'll try to make up some stuff so you can feel like my life is way better than yours.

Starting with the baby, here is Nate's newest trick:

When I told Mia she said, "I know, I've been working on that with him for a long time."

I hadn't realized that I'd been outsourced.

Then to drive the point home, Sam walked up to Nate and fed him a spoonful of yogurt. And thus Nate had his first solid food. Maybe they'll just potty train him while they're at it.

Speaking of first foods, a few days later we did give Nate some food actually recommended by pediatricians, and it went over fairly well (meaning, it ended up all over his face and was a big mess). Here are the pictures to prove it.
Starting off:

The end result:
That's what I'm talking about: cereal boogers.

And speaking of potty training, Sam has been modeling some new Thomas the Tank Engine underwear recently, and we're hoping it becomes a permanent addition to his daily attire. Again, big sister has been taking all the credit. Sorry, no potty training pictures (this is a public blog after all), but here's something we got a kick out of recently:
Seriously, can we say binky junkie?

Thanksgiving was mostly good. I attempted to make homemade rolls for the first time ever (not so good), had a sweet moment with my kids (Involved me saying through clenched teeth something like: Clean up this mess right now! We are trying to have a nice dinner so we can sit down as a family and be grateful, dang it!), spent some time with friends (who happen to have a trampoline, hot tub, therapeutic lap pool, and the world's funnest play room-- my kids thought it was Disneyland), and enjoyed a nice Day After Thanksgiving Dinner with Mark's brother's family (we're very grateful for Tammi's Sweet Potato Pie). And finally, we sat around watching hours and hours of America's favorite sport: synchronized swimming. Just kidding, we don't watch sports.

This week we got some sad news, and Mark ended up driving to Utah with Mia for his Aunt's funeral. They were gone for 5 days, which meant it was just me and the boys at home for most of the week. Sam spent most of that time building "houses" for Nate, which entailed piling up anything he could find all around Nate. Here is one such example:

And a closer view:
When Mark and Mia got home today, we were all very happy to see each other. For about 30 minutes, Mia and Sam played so well you would have never known they were brother and sister. But before I could get out the camera, they quickly remembered and soon I was wishing we could find another excuse to send her off to Utah for week again. I can just tell that the 2 weeks of Christmas vacation is going to be awesome!

Nov 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

I went to the Dentist earlier this week, and let me assure you that if I was a dentist, a dental hygienist, a janitor at a dental office, or married to anyone in those professions, I am 100% sure I would be addicted to Nitrous Oxide. For a few years now I haven't even been able to get my teeth cleaned without the happy gas (they even gave me my own "happy mask" to keep in my glove compartment to use for future appointments). The first time they had me use it as an adult, I honestly thought I had died. After I realized I had not passed away, I remember thinking, I'm pretty sure I have kids, I wonder where they are? It was that good. Now I actually look forward to going to the dentist; I think of it as pretty much the best nap ever. This time, while doped up, I was mentally singing "Hurts So Good," and having some incredibly profound thoughts such as I like puppies. And then when I woke up I begged the hygienist to give me a canister to take home. No, I didn't do that, really. But I thought about it.

So this Thanksgiving I gave thanks for modern dental practices (along with other wondrous medical gifts such as epidurals and laser hair removal). I'm thankful for all those other good things too like family, friends, freedom... fondue, you know, the 4 F's. But I'm telling you, next time you go to the dentist, ask for the laughing gas. You'll be thanking me later.

Nov 14, 2008

A little shout out to my girls

Ever find yourself in insanely ridiculous and inconvenient situations? Over and over again? Usually involving lost car keys, kids, and general mayhem? Seriously, this is beginning to happen so much, it will probably be my epitaph: "She spent most of her life locked out of her car..."

Anyway, before today's ultra fun 3 hour episode had played out, I had walked/ran over 6 miles, and ensnared 3 other friends and their families into the tangled mess. So tonight I just want to say thanks to Marie (and Andy) for giving up the better half of your afternoon making sure that my kids didn't freeze at the park, and risking your license to escort us "Brittany" style to a warm haven. Thanks Jenni for picking up Mia from the bus stop AGAIN, and letting me throw a wrench into your busy after school schedule, and thanks Brandi for letting my family invade your house right in the middle of the most stressful time of day, on an extra stressful day in your life. Ladies, whenever you run out of gas/can't make the bus stop/need to go to the ER in the middle of the night when your husband is out of town, you know who to call: someone else, because I'll probably be locked out of my car somewhere with no cell phone.

And by the way, when I got home, there was a message on my phone-- someone had found my keys on the trail, and turned them into the library (my library card is on my keys). It's too bad I couldn't drive home to get the message because I was out running on the trail looking for said keys. But I don't want to sound ungrateful-- I'm just glad they didn't try to steal my library identity by checking out books in my name and never returning them. Can you even imagine? Like they say, it could always be worse.

Nov 6, 2008

Historic Day #2

As of today, I have now lived as many years as Baskin Robbins used to have ice cream flavors, until everyone realized, hey that's not very impressive, and anyway we'd rather go to Cold Stone because you get to pay more to have your ice cream mushed up on a really cold stone. Anyway, I was trying to think of something really clever to post, like 31 reasons that I am awesome!, but I can only think of 1 reason why I want to take a 15 year vacation, and her name is Mia. Privately, just between you and me, that kid is so jacked up from the time change and the Halloween candy (but probably not from my parenting), she is throwing tantrums that even a racist republican would be impressed with right now (OK, you know I don't think all republicans are racist right?). But publicly, I totally love my kids and can't think of anything better to do on my birthday than just being with those precious little angels and listening to them scream. Luckily for me though, Baskin Robbins needs to give people a reason to go there, and therefore sent me a coupon for a free Birthday scoop, and later today I'm going to use my little coupon and I'm going to enjoy that ice cream ALONE. Ahhhhh, I'm starting to feel better already. And happy birthday to anyone and everyone else already born or being born today.

Nov 5, 2008

Historic Day

I fell asleep while putting the kids to bed, and woke up to find we had a new President Elect. It is incredibly exciting to watch the news coverage and realize what we have been a part of. Mark and I were commenting that our kids will never remember a time when the racial barrier to the US Presidency had not been broken, and I find that to be thrilling. Though Mia might have some vague memories of this day-- I told her we were electing a new president today, and (I promise I didn't tell her who I voted for), I later heard her tell Sam, "I'm voting for Obama. You're voting for John McCain." (Sorry Senator McCain, he's only 3). And then for the rest of the day, they yelled and screamed and fought with each other, reminding me of much of this LONG, LONG campaign. Which brings me to the next reason why I am excited (no make that ecstatic!): IT'S FREAKING OVER!!!!!!!!!! Are you with me on this or not? Although SNL will possibly be a little more lame, I for one can't wait to just going back to complaining about regular commercials again. And maybe our phone will stop ringing so much between 5-9 PM. No matter what outcome you were hoping for today, I think we can agree that we will all be better off without nasty attack ads, creepy robocalls, and ridiculous forwarded emails. OK, maybe the email thing is a little too optimistic, but this campaign was all about change right? Everyone repeat after me: YES WE CAN (stop forwarding emails)! Very good.

Editor's Note: I feel I should comment that the decision process for me this election was not an easy one. As an independent, at one point I declared that I hated voting (but really what I despise is the campaigning culture of lies, distortions, and unrealistic promises). Add to that my frustrations with the electoral college, and my almost crippling pity for any one who has to lose in such a huge way, and suddenly my civic duty turns into a civic nightmare. In the past I've had no problem voting for 3rd party candidates, but this year I finally came down on the side of a front-runner candidate, and so far I'm very optimistic and inspired by the outcome. Of course, it's only been 3 hours, and it's pretty hard to mess up in that time frame. I know some of you will be worried about the Democrats having so much power, but I was encouraged during Obama's speech when he promised to especially listen to those who disagree with him. I hope he sticks to this promise. Whew! OK, enough seriousness. I promise my next post will be 100% sarcasm. And if that sounds like an unrealistic promise, well, maybe there's a politician in me after all. But read my lips: No new taxes!

Nov 1, 2008

Want to know what I was for Halloween?

A complete loser of a mom.

Yes, there is nothing quite like that feeling you get right after you realize that you have just locked your keys, cell phone, and 2 youngest children strapped in their car seats in your car. Nothing makes you beam with pride like calling 911 in a complete panic on some stranger's cell phone while they continually inform you that they are late and can you "please use someone else's phone?" And it's raining. Oh, and the baby is screaming in the car. And I was dressed up like a crazy Brittany Spears (OK, just kidding. But that would have been seriously awesome).

After the emergency rescue, here's the brood in costume for our Halloween photo shoot. We went for a "Superman and his boyhood farm friends" theme this year. (Mia is a pig by the way).
Those of you who knew me in high school and also college know that I LOVE trick or treating (it's definitely been one of my biggest disappointments in life to find out that as an adult, you're pretty much just expected to buy your own Halloween candy), and although this year our candy acquisition was pretty uneventful, the post-trick-or-treating-bedtime-meltdown will go down in history as The Reason Mia Will Never be Allowed to Have Candy Again.

Mia, before the sugar-induced hysteria, and Sam being, well, Sam.

I can't even tell you how much I loved Nate in his cow costume.

As for other Halloween related activities, last week Mia's class went on a field trip to the pumpkin patch, and I went along as a chaperon with the boys. Most of the details are a little fuzzy, but I'm pretty sure that it was super fun, that our teeth were sparkly white, we all looked awesome in our coordinated clothes from the new J Crew Fall collection, and we sang "Kum Bay Yah" the whole way home. I don't remember, but I'm pretty sure that I didn't get really frustrated with Sam for constantly refusing to look at the camera, my back didn't ache from carrying Nate, the kids didn't declare their hate for each other the entire drive home, and I most definitely don't remember desperately foraging for any chocolate in the house when we got home (unsweetened baking cocoa). Can't wait until next year!

On Monday Mia was in her first race, the Pumpkin Chase, put on by the high school Cross Country Team. She placed 5th for the Kindergarten girls division (400m), which technically was a winning place. Here she is with her good friend and co-racer Molly, and her biodegradable trophy, and ribbon. You can tell from the picture how she felt about the whole thing.

Happy flipping Halloween everyone.

Oct 30, 2008

5 Months Old

Nate (aka supa chunk, the chunkster, chunkyboy529) is 5 months old today. To celebrate, he cried for hours tonight in order to make up for all the times hasn't cried in the last 5 months. It might be teething, or gas, but I'm willing to bet it has something to do with all those annoying political attack ads. Can't really blame him-- they make me want to scream for hours on end too. When he's not screaming, he's usually just doing something else that I think I should probably be taking lots of pictures of, but don't. Suffice it to say, if I was a good mom and got him a Facebook page, there would be all kinds of pictures of him doing things like sleeping...lying in his crib...sitting in his car seat, all while modeling his latest Baby Gap onesie. But there wouldn't be any pictures of him rolling over. He's about 2 months behind on rolling over, and like all insecure and unstable moms, I blame myself. There was this one day while I was pregnant, that I only did my prenatal yoga for 25 minutes instead of an hour, and totally forgot to listen to the Embryo Einstein "Future Harvard Grad" Classical CD. And...I had a sandwich on white bread. It was a bad day. But tomorrow is a new day. I've got him signed up for a class at Gymboree, we're going to do baby flashcards, I swear I'm going to start that Facebook page, and first and foremost I will take about a million pictures right after I find the camera, and put batteries in it.

Happy 5 months Nate! Harvard here we come!

Oct 20, 2008

Time Out

Last weekend I went to a Time Out for Women Conference in Portland. What's that? you ask. Well, here's how I described it to some friends who I managed to coerce into going with me, "It's somewhat of a disturbing form of Mormon commercialism where people make money off of our need for increased spirituality, but whatever." (It may seem a little weird to quote myself, but what is a blog if not a perfect vehicle for rampant narcissism?) Anyway, I was intrigued by some of the speakers this year (including one of my favorite byu religion profs), and the theme this year was "A Joyful Life," so I figured, what the heck-- my spiritual well-being was worth at least $69 right?

Well, I had an epiphany. Those of you who know me well, will know that making fun of cheesy Mormon music is one of my favorite past times. And considering that Kenneth Cope was one of the presenters, (and that he had to fill in a lot of time due to a speaker who couldn't make it), along with a few other equally inspiring musicians, you would think that I would have ample opportunity to indulge. You would think. But I just couldn't do it. Yes, there were times I really wanted to slam my head against the nearest hard surface, but there was something about seeing them perform live with all their humanity and vulnerability that inspired in me, dare I say it? A little bit of respect. It was a little shocking to realize I am more of a Paula than a Simon Cowell after all. So I cried like a baby and rushed out and bought all their albums. Just kidding, I still have my dignity after all.

(OK I can't resist: IF I was my former self and not temporarily changed, I would have made this comment: According to the program, Kenneth Cope has a "rock solid testimony of the Savior that is evident in every note." And it's so true! One time, he played a d# and I just knew he totally had a testimony of Jesus. (See, that's how cynical I used to be.)

But overall, it was a great weekend: the speakers were great, the conference was great, and I had a great time with the girls. We giggled (seriously, giggled like school girls) all the way there, all through the conference, and then all the way home. As I told a friend before I left: "hopefully I will come back so overflowing with joy that I won’t even notice the piles of paperwork, dirty bathrooms, noxious weeds, and that ubiquitous spoiled milk smell. If not, then I might resort to plan B: becoming addicted to pain meds." (Yes, quoting myself again.) So far, the joy has lingered long enough for me to at least write this blog post. All in all, my take-away lessons are:
  • be nice in line at the post office
  • to be a good Mormon I need to buy a lot of things from Deseret Books
  • the new white hot chocolate at Starbucks is really good.
The Ladies

Thanks Laura and Ros for all the laughs (we'll have to make a pilgrimage to Spiffy's every year). Thanks to my sister Kristy for letting us crash at her place and staying up talking politics with us. And thanks Time Out for keeping me off Percocet for at least another week.

Purple and green plaid dress: $19; Hot pink striped tights:$3.50

Wearing them together:


Oct 8, 2008

"I'm a molecule floating into Mommy's nose!"

That is an actual quote from Mia last night, as I looked up to see her zooming towards me with her arms outstretched in the universal "pretend flying" motion. Call me naive, but I didn't expect to hear this coming from a 5 year old, and I laughed out loud. Her reply?(dripping with contempt, by the way):

"Why are you laughing Mommy? Don't you even know what a molecule is?"

Whoa-- she's imaginative, scientific, and sassy, all at the same time. Seriously, where does she come up with these things?

And this picture is totally unrelated, but who doesn't love olive fingers?

Oct 2, 2008

Sep 26, 2008

This week's musings

Apparently drinking carbonated soda and breastfeeding is not a good combination.

Murphy's Law: As soon as you commit to starting up your early morning running schedule again, your kids will take turns keeping you up all night for 4 nights in a row, and said running schedule will get tossed out the window. Better luck next week.

Story Problem: A sleep deprived mother of 3 leaves the house to go to the gym. The clock says 9:10 when she leaves and 10:35 when she gets back. How is it that she is gone for 85 minutes, pays for 45 minutes of child care, and only gets 34 minutes of a workout?

Kindergarten Curriculum Night was this week. Made me want to be back in kindergarten. I had Miss Pennington for Kindergarten, which I think is just the perfect name for a Kindergarten teacher. I remember that Brian Highfield tried to kiss me on the reading rug. I thought it was gross.

To the patrons at the library on Monday around 4:30: my apologies for my 3 year old and his tantrum. I know it's a small library and there was no where to go where you couldn't hear him screaming, but if the tables were turned and it was your 3 year old, I promise I wouldn't have given you dirty looks and annoying loud sighs and patronizing eye rolls. And guess what? I'm going to bring him there again, and if he happens to pick up a book and throws it at your head, well,...darn.

Oh, and our bank failed today.

Sep 25, 2008

Picture Day

Me: Today is Picture Day at school.

Mia: Aaaawwwww-- I don't like Picture Day.

Me: Why not?

Mia: Because you have to look nice, and you have to smile...A LOT!

Looking nice and smiling... Yes, life can be so very hard when you're 5.

Sep 19, 2008

Goodbye Summer

We'll miss you...

We took 3 kids on a plane to Colorado...

...and we didn't even have to break out the benadryl!

A couple of weeks ago, we took a trip to Colorado. It was 2fer, since in one trip we got to see my parents at my mom's Family Reunion, and Mark's mom and step dad came down to spend time with us after the reunion. Love those kind of multi-tasking vacations! When we got off the plane in Denver, as luck would have it, we got to spend some time with my brother Arnold and his wife Denise, who were leaving on a flight to California just 20 minutes after we got there. Here we are with Arndog. I've been told there is a slight family resemblance.

I think if it was up to Sam we would have one of these moving sidewalk things installed in our house. We had to ride it at least 10 times.
The Bartholomew Reunion (yes, my mom is a Bartholomew-- isn't that awesome?), was in the Rocky Mountains at this enormous YMCA compound. There were over 60 of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and all of our kids staying in a huge lodge, and we all thought it was really fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A (sorry, couldn't help myself there).

A little advice: it's not a good idea to go from sea level to almost 10,000 feet and then pretty much immediately go on a hike. Nothing like huffing and puffing along an essentially flat trail to make you feel like a complete wimp. Here's Sam the Mountain Man:

My 3 boys

Check out this crazy squirrel. Later on, another one practically sat on my lap while I was eating lunch.

It was so beautiful up there. "Rocky Mountain High" anyone?

Back at the lodge...there's nothing like a little Yahtzee to shake things up.

The gaggle (yes, a Gaggle) of great-grandkids. Can anyone guess what they're doing?

Here's some irony for you: we left Seattle (yearly rainfall: 38 inches) where it was sunny, to go to Denver (yearly rainfall: 15.4 inches), and had to pay $30 to climb on fake rocks indoors while in ROCKY Mountain National Park, because it was raining. NICE.

Then we did some fun stuff, and some more fun stuff, and then it was time for the end-of-the-reunion photo op! (Sorry, I wasn't very good at taking photos of all the fun stuff).

This has nothing to do with the reunion, but when Sam eats donuts, he just licks the icing off the top.

Moving on to phase 2 of our trip-- Mark's mom and step dad drove down from South Dakota to spend the weekend with us in Denver. The first night we went to a place called Casa Bonita for dinner. I've been postponing this blog entry for so long because I've been trying to find a way to describe this place. It's like a mix between Chuck E. Cheese, Taco Bell, and Disneyland. Seriously. If you've lived in Denver, help me out here, leave a comment if you've been there. There's a 17 foot waterfall in the middle with cliff divers, strolling vendors peddling cheap fiber-optic toys for exorbitant prices (yes, we bought two), arcades, a creepy cave, and caricaturists who you can pay $15 to draw a picture of you with a really big head on a surf board. Anyway, this picture does it no justice, but here we are in the middle of our Casa Bonita experience.
And by the Casa Bonita fountain. Thanks Linda and Ron, for quite the dining adventure!

If you are a parent who has ever taken young children on a vacation, then you probably have a good idea as to why we took this picture. If you don't, then your time will come my friend. HA HA HA!!!

Since Casa Bonita wasn't quite enough of an amusement park for our tastes, we decided to go to a real one the next day. Here's Mia on the Ferris Wheel at Elitch Gardens in downtown Denver. Mia LOVED the rides, and we even tried to sneak her on one of the roller coasters, but got caught. (Dang height restrictions...)

Pink big rig= AWESOME.

Grandma and Nate

Every once in a while you get really lucky, and when your kids are super tired after being at an amusement park all day, instead of having a meltdown you get a cuddle on the merry-go-round.

At the Colorado State Capitol Building. Note the inscription on the step.

We spent the last few hours before our flight home wandering around a really cool urban park in Denver.

This picture is for all the Stovalls: recognize that smile?

"Kids, try to look like you were really nice to each other on our vacation and I'll take you to McDonald's when we get home OK?"

We took a little trolley ride and ended up in front of Mile High Stadium, where a Broncos game was just about to start. We were the only ones on the trolley not wearing orange.

And right before we left we ended up having lunch at a Starbucks inside an REI (so essentially we flew all the way to Denver to go to 2 Seattle institutions). This picture is for the Bardsleys: yes, that is Linda and Ron enjoying a caramel apple cider from Starbucks. We've officially corrupted them.

And that's what we did on our Summer vacation in September.