Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Conversation on Christmas

You can always tell when life gets busy 'round here because it's our little blog that suffers. Christmas was wonderful but I'm feeling a bit lazy, especially when it comes to uploading pictures, so I'm procrasting writing a Christmas report (plus we're the only ones who will want to read it anyway....let's face it). I love that I am starting off the new year by procrastinating. Go me.

But I wanted to make sure I recorded this. The following is a conversation we had with Jane at dinner a couple weeks ago:

Jane: "It's almost Christmas time!! I get to ask for presents!"

Me: "What are you going to ask for?"

Jane: (face droops..) "I.......don't know. Maybe a piano." (No doll for Jane. She doesn't play around with the small ticket items.)

Me: "Do know what Christmas is, Jane?"

Jane: "No."

Me: "It's Jesus' birthday. He was born on Christmas."

Jane: "OOOoooo! OOooooo! Do we get to have a party? Can I help blow out the candles?"

Me: "Jev?"

Jevan: (punt) "It's all you."

Me: "Um....it's sorta like a party, Jane. But everyone celebrates it. Everyone all over the world."

Jevan: (raises an eyebrow...)

Me: "Uh...I take that back. LOTS of people in the world do." (heh....who's world vision is a little narrow, eh? Sorry India....and the Middle East ....and most of Asia...*doh*)

Jane: "I really like parties!" (can't seem to get out of party mode) "Will Jesus be there? Can I help him open presents?"

Me: "Uh....not technically. He's not physically on earth right now."

Jane: (staring at me with quizzical look) "Pizzickly?" (thinks some more...) "Will there be cake? (still can't get out of party mode)

Me: "And do you know who His friend is?"

Jane: "Who?"

Me: "Santa Clause!"

Jane: "Oh, yeah. He has to stay out in the snow. If he comes inside, he'll melt."

Me: "Um...I think that's Frosty. Frosty the Snowman."

Jane: "Yeah. He's coming to the party too."

Jevan: "Um....wow. I have absolutely nothing to add to that."

And thus begins the process by which we completely screw up our kids. Amen.

Jevan's addition:

While we're talking about historical and fictional characters and how it can confuse our kids, I figured I would add this little exchange I had with Jane this morning. I was tickling her and she called for Em to come help her. Jane yelled that it was daddy, and I told her that I wasn't the one that was tickling her, but it was in fact the man that lives in my finger, Mr. Bimbo. (For those of you that haven't seen Muppet Treasure Island, you should watch it, but for context you can watch this video. Skip ahead to around 6:45 to get some laughs.) Anyway, she looked at me for half a second, then promptly announced that "Mr. Clara" was living in her finger and was going to tickle me. Touche.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Raising kids is like a game of chess, except there are no pieces, no board, and the objective for the parents is not to win, but to help them survive childhood, whereas the objective for the children is simply to drive parents crazy. Ok, so it's not really like chess EXCEPT for the fact that for each and every move there is a counter-move. A few examples:

Move: In order to get attention at night, Allie learns to bodily fling herself out of the crib
Counter-move: Buy a crib prison

Move: Now trapped inside her prison at night, Allie begins taking off her pajamas and crying until we come in and put them back on.
Counter-move: Safety-pin her pajamas closed.

Move: Climb out of the porta-crib while traveling.
Counter-move: Turn that crib right upside down and laugh the night away.

So it's really been a stalemate up until now. But tonight, the game has changed, and Allie has a new move, and I can't think of a counter-move.

Move: Now trapped in her crib and unable to remove her clothing, Allie has taken the only logical next step - stuffing her binky down her pajamas and crying until you come take it out. I'm not sure how but it was literally at her ankle in her footed pajamas.
Counter-move: No idea, other than not giving her a binky and my friends, that is not an option.


Monday, December 08, 2008

Christmas Traditions (aka the spikey cranberry orange death balls)

Weekends are truly fickle things. Very rarely am I able to balance relaxation with productivity, work with fun, and return to the office on Monday feeling great. This weekend was, by my exacting standards, just about perfect.

It might have something to do with me taking Friday off to help kick off the madness that is December. I spent the morning putting the lights on the house, and then in the afternoon we went and picked out a Christmas tree. Some of you may remember that last year we went out into the forest and chopped a tree down with our friends Tom & Sarah. Em has felt guilty about it for the entire year, even though I tried to explain to her that we had chopped down Alfie the Christmas Tree and that he was happy to be in our house, but it was kind of hard to argue that the tree's life was better once I had to put him in a dumpster...

Therefore, in order to atone for this misdeed, we bought a tree from Home Depot, where they are grown in a soulless tree farm in Oregon. But our penance didn't stop there. Oh no, we had to prove to the forest that we were truly sorry for killing one of their her native sons. So, Em decided to start a fun new family tradition (we're calling it Christmas for the Critters™) and make some bio-degradable animal-food decorations to take into the forest and decorate a tree. With our kids. And we took my sister. And her kids. I would add my sister's husband (aka my brother in-law) but he informed us that this idea was just too random and he was going to pass.

So Saturday morning we bought a 10-pound bag of bird seed (apparently it doesn't come in smaller bags, because most people either really like birds or are afraid of birdzilla...), a jar of peanut butter, and grabbed some of the pine cones that the kids collected and then, armed with mini-bagels, wonder bread, and Christmas cookie-cutters, began to make the ornaments.

Hazel, Chloe, Calvin and Jane work like Elves in the factory. Only there's no factory. Or toys. Ok so they're making decorations.

What emerged from this process was a few plate-fulls of gooey vaguely christmas ornament shaped messes that, while not particularly appetizing to me, I'm sure are proving to be very tasty to all of the forest denizens that used to live in the late Alfie's boughs. All of them were completely environmentally friendly, down to the Raphiella (or whatever the straw-like stuff is called) used to hang them.

The finished products. Cute, eh?

The one exception to this statement would be the spikey cranberry orange death balls. You see, toward the end of the ornament-making fun, Em realized that we had a bunch of leftover cranberries from Thanksgiving, and thought they would add just the right dash of color to the otherwise drab collection of ornaments. In addition, we had some clementines sitting around that would be really pretty. (side note: is there anything better than a clementine? They're one of my favorite parts about Christmas.) So, she decided that it would be a really cool ornament if she used toothpicks to stick the cranberries onto the clementines. Unfortunately, the finished product looked more akin to a ninja-chef's weapon than something you'd hang on a tree for a deer to eat, but when I pointed this out I was informed that 'deer have very sensitive lips and they will be able to avoid the toothpicks and get to the orange.'

There is no appropriate response to that statement. I've spent last few days thinking about it, and I can't come up with anything.

Why is it that clementines are so much more deadly than regular oranges? When asked questions like this I typically try to break the word down to its roots. In this case, 'clemen' would be referring to Roger Clemens, who had a wicked fastball and was known to throw at batters' heads from time to time, and 'tines' are obviously the sharp part of the spork, so clearly we see that clementines are dangerous, pokey projectiles.

Thus prepared for our decorative activity, we headed off to the canyon to find the right tree. As it turned out, it was about 1:00 and past nap time, so the 'perfect' tree quickly turned into the 'closest and most accessible' tree. We trekked down a trail about 50 feet, found a likely candidate, and quickly turned it into a squirrel, bird, and deer 7-11. The kids had a blast, and I enjoyed pointing out that we would be able to return in the spring and count the bodies of all the dead creatures that ate the spikey cranberry orange death balls.

The decorating crew in front of their work.

Hang a blueberry bagel on the highest bough...

The finished product did in fact look rather festive, and despite all of my heckling and good-natured ribbing I had a really good time doing it.

I love the maimed wonderbread man in the background...

Here's a close-up of the SCODB after a hummingbird tried to get some of the orange...

So after we got back from decorating the forest tree, we came back home and decorated our tree. We make a whole evening of it, and while it is a bit challenging with Allie undoing decorations as fast as we put them up, I really enjoy it. Christmas music playing in the background, fire glowing in the fireplace, chocolate orange sticks and these really tasty butterscotch gingerbread cookies to eat... all happy things for me.

Allie giving the camera her 'cool' face, while Jane takes yet another bite of cookie dough. I'm pretty sure she ate as much dough as she made...

We ended the day by reading "Bear Stays Up for Christmas" to Jane under the Christmas tree and drinking bubbly by the fireplace. It was one of those days that make you smile when you look back on it. Thanks Emmy!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Turkey Times are Good Times

The phrase for Thanksgiving for our family this year can be summed up in the following phrase: Crazy-fun, complete and utter chaos. I wish I had pictures, but alas, I was a slacker. It starts the day before Thanksgiving with the first annual Pie Day with Jevan's sisters. Imagine 5 women, 12 pies, one galette (don't worry, I didn't know what one was either, but it was beautiful and tasty), pretzel dessert, other various side dishes...and ONE kitchen. Imagine that all together...all at once. Add in, just for fun, 6 kids under the age of 7. Voila! Pie Day! It was hillarious...and really fun. If anyone knows Jevan's sisters, you would know they are to cooking what Mozart was to music (yes, Stephy, even you...the pumpkin pies DON'T count). I just play along, and they help me...a lot. They are also highly entertaining. No one lost any limbs, or had any serious burns, and I came home with all my pies, and all my kids. Yahoo!

Next up, East Canyon Resort with all of Jevan's extended family for the weekend. This would not really have fit in to the crazy chaos category if not for one little (and very loved) creature we call Allie. Here's the equation: 1 Allie +1 Condo + us+5 more -minus space + many interesting things right at eye level+cold weather and not a ton to do outside+no sleep = Captain Destructo! Holy Cow. Allie was a veritable hurricane. We love her, but she was everywhere and into everything. To make things more exciting, we had brought up her porta-crib and after putting her to bed the first night, quickly discovered, as she came ambling down the stairs, that she could climb out of it. We battled for a while, trying to come up with some way to make her sleep, but she was too wired to fall asleep, and would not stay still for the life of her. We would be up there a few more nights so we had to come up with a solution. Jev's mom had one for us. Before you report us to child services yet again, let it be known that it worked, and Allie slept and is none the worse for the wear...it might come back to bite us in her twenties. Better keep adding money to her crazy jar. We tipped the portacrib upside down and Allie slept under it. Yup, like a cage. It gave me guilt but I had no idea what to do at that point.

The rest of the trip consisted of lots of game playing, movie watching and no sleep. Oh, and WAY too much eating. I think I can feel all the pecan pie I ate in the extra wide swing of my backside when I walk. Add one big bootie to the aforementioned equation.

I think both girls really enjoyed the Thanksgiving feast although Jane mostly just went for the rainbow jell-o. I went for the mashed potatoes. Allie went for the pie. Jevan went... away when I asked who wanted to clean up Allie after dinner.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for family. I am lucky to have lots of family around on both sides and I love them all (even if we do complain about how time consuming they all are :)..we never mean it). I am grateful for my mom and dad. I'm grateful for Jevan's family where I feel completely loved and comfortable, as comfortable as I am with my own brothers and sisters. I'm grateful for my own little family...for my little girls...for how cute and funny they are. For Jevan, for how completely devoted he is to us. We're lucky. I'm lucky. I'm thankful.