Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Day After

Christmas was glorious this year.

I remember being a child, feeling such pity for my parents who seemed to receive so little by way of gifts. I could never understand how they could be so cheerful when their haul was so small. I totally get it, though. Watching my boys' fulfilled anticipation was better than any gift I have ever received in the past. My only wish was that Christmas came more than once a year (and that I could afford it!).

Missing from our celebration was snow. We did not have a "white Christmas" here in Utah this year. At our home in Salt Lake, it was dry as a bone -- reminiscent of northern California holidays, with a slightly lower temperature. This afternoon the flakes finally started falling, and as a result, we've found a renewed Christmas spirit which we'd like to share with you.

I told the boys I'd give them a quarter if they sung really loud.

I think I may owe them 50 cents instead.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ghost of Christmas Past

I have friends who dutifully record their children's memories in a journal every week.
I wish I was one of those moms.
I am so not.

To be honest, I don't know what my boys' first words were, when they cut their first teeth, or when they took their first steps. I think in my heart, I wanted to write down every moment, but life is so much more busy and complicated than that for me. I'm sure that after enough therapy, they'll learn to forgive me for the fact that their childhood is a fuzzy, very distant blur, filled with whatever embellished, half-truth stories I can conjure up. Oh well.

Every once and a while, however, I sat down to detail a moment purely for the benefit of the relatives that couldn't be present.

Four years ago this month, Jonah had his first meet-and-greet with good ol' San-ty Claus. It was a highly anticipated event, and one that did not disappoint. I found it amusing, so I wrote down the experience and emailed it (along with some photos) to some extended family.

A few weeks ago we took the boys to visit with Kris Kringle at a church function. Jonah was all business and got right to the point. Sam (who had already had a run-in with Santa at the grocery store) wanted nothing to do with him. I got to thinking about how similar that was to Jonah when he was the same age and went looking for the email. Luckily, one of their great-aunts had held onto and graciously sent it my way.

So now I'll share it with all of you.
Merry Christmas!


Originally emailed on 12/12/06

This past Saturday was our ward Christmas party. Among our festive activities was a scheduled appearance from Santa Claus. This is the first year Jonah has been aware of Santa, thanks to unrelenting commercialism and media brainwashing. He didn't know much about the big red man, but enough to know he was good -- he jingles when he walks, and he brings presents.

Jonah had been looking forward to meeting Santa at the party -- So much so that it became a frequent topic of conversation during the days leading up to the event. He'd walk around the house bellowing, "Ho-ho-ho! Merry Christmas eddybuddy!" During one conversation, I told him that most likely he'd sit on Santa's lap and Santa would ask if he'd been a good boy at which point he should reply in the affirmative. He would then probably ask what he'd like to receive for Christmas (to which Jonah emphatically replied, "A binky!" -- I later coached him that he might want to say something a little more big-boyish like a toy car, to which Jonah agreed...). At home Jonah would dialogue with his toys, one pretending to be Santa and the other pretending to be him, with those exact questions and answers. The night before the party there was a lot of bouncing around, with constant reminders that it was almost "party time" and "Santa time."

So of course the day arrives and Jonah is a very excited boy. When we got to the church to set up, he ran through the building looking for Santa. The morning probably dragged on for him as he patiently waited for the moment he was to meet Santa. When it was finally time to trek to the Relief Society room to stand in line, Jonah was a 3-year old on speed. He was running up to random kids, yelling in their faces, jumping up and down, turning around in circles, repeating the rehearsed answers to what he thought would be asked of him ("Mommy! I will say "Yes" and "I would like a big red car, please.")... It was all I could do just to get him to keep his hands to himself. At the point we made it to the front of the line, he was so overwhelmed with excitement he was doing what one might call the "pee-pee dance." And then the moment came. It was his turn. He stepped up onto the platform and...froze. He was gently pushed forward and consented to being placed on Santa's lap, but couldn't find any words to say. He didn't crack a smile. He didn't blink. He didn't look the old man in the eye. He didn't even look ME in the eye! He was void of all emotion. He didn't even react to the uncontrollable laughter of all the other adults in the room who know how out of character silence is for Jonah.

It was all too similar to the Santa mall scene in the classic movie, "A Christmas Story." Only this Santa wasn't an alcoholic and Jonah didn't ever snap out of it long enough to place his gift request.

When he was handed back to me, it took him a few seconds to shake off the...fear? Awe? Numbness? After that, it was as if he'd just hung out with a rock star -- he was elated and ready to tell anyone who crossed his path. It'd be interesting to know what went on in his head during his 30 seconds with Santa. Probably nothing.

Kids crack me up. Enjoy the photos.

Jonah, age 3

Friday, August 27, 2010

Because "things" should be flushed...

Sam just got out of bed for the millionth time tonight to tell me that his "diaper is falling off."

Child, if you are articulate enough to tell me in plain English that you are having an issue with your diaper, you are TOO OLD to be wearing one.

When I write a parenting book, my chapter on toilet training is going to go something like this:

"Remember how you were told that its best to let your child decide when its time to potty-train? THAT'S WRONG. Kids don't know anything. That's why they eat stuff they find in the gutter."

Starting next week, we're getting serious about ditching the diaper.
No - wait - scratch that. Next week won't work. I have two weddings, and there's no way that Tyler (blesshisheart) can be trusted to enforce the rigid, Nazi-like potty schedule that leads to eventual underwear freedom. I guess starting next, NEXT week, we'll be getting serious. Serious-er than I've been able to be this summer, anyway. Any suggestions? Bribes, rewards, charts, and stickers have so far proven to be completely useless and have yielded little more than wasted money, spoiled appetites, and Hot Wheel-induced foot-pad bruises.

I bought a box of 108 diapers from Target today. I'm going to go out on a limb and pledge that it will be my last purchase of diapers for this child. (Pull-ups don't count, though. I'll be darned if this boy thinks I'm going to get up in the middle of the night to change wet sheets.) With the extra $25 I'll be saving each month, I will buy chocolate milk. Lots and lots of chocolate milk. Because after potty-training "Stubborn Sam," by golly, I am going to deserve it.

Photo credit: Target. Not my kid. But the resemblance is amazing...huh?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Shabby Apple Dress Sale!

UPDATE: The sale has been canceled. But I'm keeping this up because by posting about it, I also entered a little contest, and I want to win it!

I'm in search of a dress for a certain family wedding coming up soon. If I can swing it, I'll be attending the Shabby Apple Garden Party dress sale on Saturday. Could I possibly be so lucky as to find an eggplant or green colored dress to fulfill my soon-to-be sister-in-law's request? We shall see. Anyone care to join me?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Why I am not an ENT.

Before I needed health insurance so I could get pregnant (Tyler was a full-time student), I worked at as a Rec Therapy Tech at a "Rehabilitation Center."

That's a fancy way of saying "Nursing Home."

During my time there, I learned one very important fact about myself:

I do not have a weak stomach.

I saw stuff there. Nasty stuff. Stuff that trumped any gross or unsanitary or shouldn't-be-discussed-at-the-dinner-table experience I had had up to that point. But as with anyone who works in the health care field, you get used to it because you see it every day. Believe me, I could tell you stories that would make your toes curl...but I won't. Blech.

So once the children began invading my home and life, I felt pretty prepared for anything they could throw at me. Blow-out diapers? Piece of cake. Puke all over the couch (or down my shirt)? No problem. Cracked-open heads? Please. I'm on it. Smells, sights, effect. I'm like a machine.


...for boogers. Or boagies (rhymes with "hoagie") as well call them at our house. Nasal secretion or mucus of any kind. {Insert dry-heave} Those make my skin crawl. They make the very hairs on my neck stand up straight, cause me to feel dizzy, and illicit the desire to run and lock myself in the bathroom. I don't know what it is, but...GROSS!

These "issues" are common knowledge among those I am close to because my snot-aversion runs deep. So deep that I think I may have led my children to believe that nose picking is downright shameful. We don't do it. Not in front of mom, anyway.

This past week, however, I've learned that I've been living a pipe dream.
I have been deceived.

As time allows, I am slowly cleaning the Holladay house now that everything is moved out of it. For the most part, I've just been chasing dust bunnies...until I ended up in Jonah's old room. What I thought was just a bunch of dirty hand/foot smudges by his bed ended up being something entirely different. (You parents know what I'm talking about.) If I wasn't so aesthetically obsessive, I probably would have just reached for the Killz Primer. Instead, I spent the better part of an hour meticulously removing the evidence of Jonah's late-night nose-cleanings off the wall. Shudder.

A few days later Jonah and I decided to clean out the car while Sam was napping. I don't do this nearly as often as I should, so when I clean, I CLEAN. I pulled out the boys' boosters so we could get underneath them. Jonah's seat was especially dirty. Upon further inspection, however, I noticed the entire right side of the seat was covered in dried boogers. Covered!!!

"Jonah Randall! Are these boagies? Are they? ARE THEY???"

No response beyond a smirk.

"You think that's funny, huh? Its NOT funny! It's disgusting! Guess what you get to do now? Clean them all off. Every single one of them. Or you owe me $17,000."

Okay. I admit it. Threatening that a six year old is going to owe me 17 Grand is probably a little overkill. But in case I haven't made myself clear, I can not stomach the boogers!

He scrubbed, and picked, and flicked, and vacuumed, and in the end, he got the entire seat clean. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to beat a dead horse, though, so I brought it up -- a few times -- during dinner that night. And I think I made my point. Which will probably be remembered for all of two days before the boagie wiping resumes.

My crack-up (Sam) wanted in on the action, though, too.

Today we were standing in line at IKEA when he held his finger out to me and said, "Look, Mom. A boagie!"

Sure enough, there was a big wad of nastiness perched on the tip of his pointer. "Sam, that's gross. We don't pick our nose. If you have something in your nose, please ask for a tissue."

I began reaching into my purse for a proper disposal method, to which he responded by looking me straight in the eye and giving me the most devilish grin a child can muster, while slowly bringing his finger toward his mouth.

"Sam, don't you -- Don't you DARE! --- SAM! --"

Quick as lightning, he shoved his finger in his mouth and ended with an exaggerated, GULP.

I haven't had an appetite all day...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

To: You, From: Me

I used to pride myself on being a decent gift-giver.

I've always tried to put a lot of thought into my gifts (or at least I did before D Street began and gift cards became my first line of defense). In the initial stages of choosing a gift, I would often think to myself, "What does this person want that they don't know they want?" I believe in leaving "needs" out of the equation completely. I may NEED a shower caddy for the downstairs bathroom, but do I really want to receive that as a gift? (The same goes for socks and underwear -- and I say that in all seriousness because I have family members who actually put said items on their Christmas lists!)

I like to give items that the recipient may otherwise not think of purchasing (or be able to justify purchasing) for themselves. Gifts should be fun! Unexpected! Met with anticipation! Not something off a checklist of mediocre household goods.

(Buy your kids their own dang underwear. I'm getting them a Barbie.)

This topic has been the source of many conversations in the Eves household. We didn't do "lists" in the Crocker home growing up, and as a result, there was a genuine element of surprise as we opened each present. Gifts my parents gave me ranged from the truly awesome (think diamond tennis bracelet as a 17 year old) to rather puzzling (like the hot-pink fanny-pack with the hydration bladder my dad gave me...when I was 8?!). The excitement that came from not knowing what to expect really increased my appreciation for the act of giving and receiving. And that's something I've tried to recreate in my own family.

Tyler's is a list-family, which has taken some getting used to. There are benefits to lists, I agree. You don't have to worry about whether or not the receiver will like the gift, you get what you need, etc. But like I said, I have problems with those very things because it squashes the element of surprise for the recipient and requires little thought/effort from the giver. The times I've strayed from the lists I've gotten some weird looks, but I keep trying. I like to think that my subtle influence helped encourage my in-laws to take a leap of faith and surprise us with non-list-dictated gifts a number of years ago. They brought out big boxes one Christmas and had the daughters-in-law open them at the same time. Under the wrapping was a set of All-Clad pots and pans. It was completely unexpected. I don't know how my SIL felt about her All Clad because I was too busy screaming and jumping up and down with joy. My father-in-law still says that was the coolest reaction to a gift he's ever seen. And that's kind of what I think we all should shoot for in the gifts we give -- but maybe with a much lower price tag!

Tyler started to catch on to this idea a few years ago. Poor guy -- can't bring me flowers (duh), can't buy me clothes (too small, nothing fits), can't take me out on the weekends (my work days) -- What's a guy to do? Somehow he remembered a bit of late-night chatter regarding luxury items that I intended to purchase someday when I'm old and comfortable, simply because I can. The two items at the top of my list were a Dooney and Burke handbag, and a Mason-Pearson hairbrush. Silly things, really, but things that seemed to signify wealth and sophistication when I was growing up. My mother actually had a Mason-Pearson hairbrush and whenever I had the opportunity, I would sneak into her bathroom and use it. I can still feel those boar bristles gliding down my hair like honey. Its the brush of celebrities. So decadent, so luxurious, so...frivolous. But when I opened up my birthday present one year to find a shiny, handmade Mason-Pearson staring back at me, I gulped. Tyler was ecstatic that he got me something I always wanted, I was reeling from the fact that he had spent over $100 on a HAIRBRUSH. A brush that actually comes with care instructions. A brush that has its own brush to clean it. A brush that doesn't do anything in particular. You can't style your hair with it. Its more of a Marsha Brady-type brush (use it before bed and admire how shiny your hair looks). It was a surprise, to say the least, but after I got over the initial sticker shock (darned joint-accounts!), I was reminded of how nice it is to be spoiled sometimes and how a well-thought gift really can make you feel like a million bucks, if only for a moment.

I was thinking about this as I was brushing my hair tonight. I really DO need a shower caddy for the downstairs bathroom (among a trillion other things!), but would I trade my little piece of well-thought indulgence for those perceived needs? I don't think so. Not just because the hairbrush makes my hair soft and shiny and perfect right before I throw it into a bedtime ponytail (and holy-mama, IT DOES!), but because of what it represents. It was the perfect type of gift, and it makes me think of the man who gave it to me each time I put it to use. So in that sense, mission accomplished.

A couple days ago it was Tyler's 34th birthday and I got him nothing. Not even a card. I jest that I bought him a house and that's good enough for a while, but really, I'm ashamed of how lax my gift-giving rituals have become. So now I need to recommit myself to the art of giving gifts and find something to do to make up for this birthday faux pas.

I haven't a clue what to do or get. It'll take some thought, for sure.

...Maybe a Dooney and Burke handbag?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Kindergarten Recap

Kindergarten is over.
What a year!

I didn't know what to expect going in to the school year. Being that Jonah is my first child, I was rather unprepared as to common school-parent etiquette. When the teacher asked for parents to sign up for ONE class activity in order to give every parent a turn, I signed up for one (I now know that a pushy mom can be in the kindergarten class as much as she wants. If only I were a pushy mom...). When the first day of school rolled around, I had no idea I was supposed to provide the teacher with a gift/bribe of cookies, candies, flowers, or gift certificates to get her to like ME...I mean, my child. In the same vein, I didn't realize that Valentine's Day required a similar $20 gift, or that I was supposed to know her when her birthday was (how do parents get a hold of that kind of information???). I'm not so dumb that I didn't send Jonah with a gift for Christmas and Teacher Appreciation Week, but they weren't large and didn't boast any kind of bravado. Although our gifts were probably smaller than the other students', I think the handwritten notes we included provided the sentiment we were trying to convey. I didn't know how to invite Jonah's classmates to our home for a play date, I felt awkward around the other moms who obviously knew each other from the neighborhood/church, I never found the time to get involved in the PTA (even though I paid the dues...I wouldn't have known how to get involved anyway, I guess), and I must admit I did let Jonah skip three days of school to play with his visiting cousins. I often wished there was a handbook for new-to-school-parents. But alas, I stumbled through the year, worrying about whether or not Jonah was making friends, whether he was happy, and whether he was figuring out who he wanted to be. In kindergarten.

I learned a lot about Jonah this year. Having had no other children to compare him to, I figured he was average on all levels. (okay, I knew he was more energetic than most, and a little uncoordinated, but he is MY child, so...) I learned his level of enthusiasm blows most kids out of the water. Everything is fun. Everything is exciting. Everything is cool. I think that's great. It scared a lot of his classmates off in the beginning, but I think they learned to love him for it. I also learned that he has a brilliant little mind. I am one of those parents that feel strongly that children should be children. They should be allowed to have fun and explore and live life carefree for as long as possible, because heaven knows kids grow up too fast. So I never did a single flashcard with him, I didn't enroll him in any enrichment activities prior to school, I didn't drill him on his letters, numbers, how to write his name, how to use a pair of scissors or color in the lines...I didn't expect him to know ANYTHING, really. I just wanted him to be a kid. Somehow, he walked into kindergarten knowing how to read (I blame TV), and from day one, he just took off academically. His teacher was a little perplexed and concerned by how quickly he learned and how far ahead of his classmates he was/is. When she expressed her concern that he should be instructed at a second grade curriculum that year, my response was, "" I didn't coach him to be that way. I didn't even CARE that he was that way. I just wanted him to be confident and happy. So it ended up being a challenging year, trying to keep him occupied in class and trying to provide him with valuable learning opportunities at school while the rest of the class was doing something completely different. He rolled with it really well and his teacher did her best to teach him outside the kindergarten curriculum while at the same time managing his high level of energy (and the distraction it often created). I laid awake many nights, wondering what I was going to do with him and how I was going to keep him motivated. But in the end, Tyler and I have decided we'll just take each year as it comes. Skipping grades isn't an option because socially, he's very young. VERY, very young. But he's an unassuming kind of smart for now, which is nice and which means it shouldn't get in the way of his learning to effectively interact/relate with other kids. Learning to make real, lasting connections with other children will be an ongoing challenge in the years to come, as they have been up to this point.

He's so weird its lovable. At least I think its lovable. My greatest hope is always that other people will feel that way too.

He often makes comments about how much he likes himself. I think I fail in so many respects when it comes to motherhood (don't we all?), but when I hear him say things like that, its a reassurance that I'm at least doing something right. And I like him, too.

His favorite classes this year were P.E. and computers. He loves reading, writing, math, and science. Art is okay, but music was boring. And recess...well, recess ROCKS.

It was a year spent commuting. We figured we would have moved a long time ago. As it turned out, we didn't live in that house even one day this school year. Out of the entire year, we only had two tardies. Not too bad, for a kid who doesn't even live in the same town as his school!

So today was the last day of kindergarten. He was excited for the summer, and as I picked him up, I expected to see a 6 year old tornado of energy bursting through the school doors, screaming some nonsensical comment about upcoming summer festivities. Instead, as the other children were running past him, Jonah approached me rather solemnly.

"I don't want to say goodbye to my class."

I wrapped my arms around him. "Are you feeling a little sad?"

With that, he burst into tears. Sobbing, he told me how much he didn't want the school year to be over, how he didn't want a new class next year, how he would miss his friends, and how he loved his teacher. When my child cries (for good reason), I cry. So the two of us were frozen in the middle of the playground -- me on my knees holding a crumpled little boy -- in tears. When his teacher shuffled out after the last of the kids, she approached us explaining he was upset about something that had happened in class, but when I told her he was sad because he didn't want the school year to end, she joined us in our mid-playground hug and said that was the nicest thing that had happened to her all day. (He later told me he wanted to schedule a play-date with his cute, so naive.)

When we pulled ourselves together, we made our way to the car for the last time in his kindergarten year. I reflected on how much he has grown this year -- both physically, and socially. I thought about how quickly this is all passing me by, and how lucky I am to have been given the charge to care for such a wonderfully sensitive, forgiving, kind-hearted, dynamic little person.

We talked about how its okay to miss people, but that we should always try to remember the fun experiences we've had, and look forward to new experiences and new people that will give us even more opportunities to learn and grow.

And then we went to MacDonald's and got chocolate milkshakes. Because milkshakes make everything better.

Friday, May 28, 2010

How to Body Jonah

Tutorials always come in handy, right?

Ever wondered how to body slam your friend/brother/Pokemon opponent? Look no further. Jonah has created a "Body Slam How-To" for your viewing pleasure.

Take copious notes -- you never know when you'll need this type of information.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Momma's Day

For many years now, Mother's Day has really been a wash. It usually ends up being our busiest work week of the year, so by the time Sunday rolls around, I'm more of a zombie than a maternal figure. Yesterday was no different, but despite the overwhelming exhaustion plaguing me, my boys really reminded me of how lucky I am to have them in my life.

I didn't get to sleep in because I had to finish preparing the Relief Society lesson I was scheduled to teach at church that afternoon. When I got out of the shower, the boys were up and bouncing around, ready to present me with the gifts they had prepared for me.

I was first given a large copy-paper box which contained a bag (surprisingly unopened!) of my favorite chips (Tostitos Hint-of-Lime...and Jonah apparently bought them with his own money), and three boxes of Puffs with Lotion tissue (my allergies have been terrible this year). The boys then ran to the freezer and pulled out a half dozen ice cream-cupcakes from Coldstone. (...when I got home from my last delivery the night before Jonah exclaimed, "Do NOT look in the freezer. We bought you something for Mother's Day and its in the freezer so stay OUT!")

Then came the real gift.

Months ago Jonah told me he had made me a Mother's Day gift and he was so-so-so-so-so-so-so excited to give it to me. All this time he has been hiding it in various areas of his room, at the same time asking if I wanted it early because it was driving him CRAZY. So I knew this was a pretty big deal.

And it was.

Out came a little box which contained the following:
  • A hand-drawn picture of the D Street house
  • 9 pennies
  • a dollar bill
  • a seashell
  • a button (in case one of mine gets lost)
  • an old, dried Billy Ball flower pulled out of the cooler at some point or another (his favorite)
  • a tube of used chapstick with a cut-out heart taped onto it
  • a pretty awesome clay bowl/pot/thingy he made at school
Its obvious a lot of six-year-old thought was put into his selections. He was positively bursting with pride as I praised his gift choices. Not wanting to be left out, Sam emerged from his room with his Diego recorder and a toy car for me to have. And I got a million hugs and kisses to boot.

Those little guys are by far the coolest thing I've ever done.

I do hope all the women in my life had a lovely day. Its true that there are so many amazing women who have impacted both me and my boys: related, not related, friends, church members, women who have never had children themselves, and women who have had so many they should write a book about it. I know I wouldn't be the mother I am without their influence, and I know my children would not be as blessed as they are without their love.

But, I'm especially fond of this one.

Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Trying to stay afloat.

"It is significant to consider that one's life, therefore, cannot be both faith-filled and stress-free. President Wilford Woodruff counseled us all about the mercy that is inherent in some adversity: 'The chastisements we have had from time to time have been for our good, and are essential to learn wisdom, and carry us through a school of experience we could never have passed through without.' (Journal of Discourses, 2:198). Therefore, how can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, "Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!" (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "Lest Ye Be Wearied and Faint in Your Minds," Ensign, May 1991, 88)

I've felt weary lately.

Blame it on the never-ending stress with the house, the impending move, the concerns I'm having about Jonah's schooling next year, the economy that has finally hit my industry a year late but is proving to put an enormous amount of financial strain on my family, the feeling that I'm being pulled in a million different directions all at once, the age-old battle of allowing day-to-day life to interfere with one's spirituality, or if nothing else, feeling the aching compassion, empathy, and pain that comes when a friend is suffering. Either way, I'm weary.

Sometimes I need the reminder that all the pieces of what can feel like a very broken puzzle really do come together in the end to create the portrait of who we are to become. I do try to acknowledge and appreciate the tender mercies I'm shown as I wade through sludge that can be mortality. I can see how each difficult experience I've endured has taught me invaluable lessons that I could never replace. But at the end of a long, taxing day/week/month/year its easy to forget, isn't it?

The next few weeks are going to be very tense as we try to get out of here and into the D Street house. I'm hoping I'll have the strength to hold it all together. In the meantime, I'm going to keep this thought in my heart and attempt to stay afloat.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Price Tags and Hair Elastics

Jonah is a collector at heart.

Early-on, he was the recipient of some heavy-handed influence from his live-in great-grandmother. Her list of collections is almost too long and obscure to count: it includes mass amounts of frog paraphernalia, carved wood, beads-never-strung, books about mushrooms, ceramic molds, and boxes --multiple boxes-- of rocks. So I suppose its safe to say Jonah comes by it honestly.

When I was a kid, I recall feeling passionate about a couple collections, the most important being my erasers. Not just any erasers, but those of the novelty variety. I saved my allowance to hit up the Hello Kitty store whenever possible to add to my collection. They were never, EVER used -- they were for viewing purposes ONLY. I remember spending many after-school hours at Molly Carollo's house going through our respective eraser collections (and smelling her hamsters, but that's another story). Totally awesome. I actually found a few eraser survivors when I packed up my life and moved in with Tyler, but they have since been gnawed and eaten by the monsters I call my children (because what else would you DO with a pretty, heart shaped eraser?).

But back to Jonah's collections --

A couple years ago I started finding pieces of clothing price tags in Jonah's room. Apparently, the perforated strip at the bottom of the tag containing the purchase price was the best (and most coveted) part of the tag, so he began saving them. There were constantly confetti piles of those little tag strips littering his bedroom floor. If I removed and threw away a tag from a new piece of clothing without his knowledge, he'd eventually find it (because my child likes to root through the garbage can. Doesn't yours?) and give me the stink eye for trying to thwart his elevated interests. But it gets worse. Soon I started noticing that he'd get really quiet and momentarily slip away while we were at the clothing store. It took a few store visits and a few pockets full of price tag strips discovered pre-laundry to realize he was combing through the clothing racks and actually removing the tags to add to his collection. Not exactly criminal activity, but still strangely compulsive. I explained that if he continued to remove that part of the tags on unpurchased items, no one would ever know how much the item cost, and it would make it really difficult to shop. It became ritual for me to remind Jonah of what NOT to do before we went shopping ("No screaming, no hugging kids you don't know, no crawling under the dressing room stalls, and NO price tag removal!"). It must be one important collection, though, because he then took to scouring the store floor for tags that had already fallen off. Who's that kid crawling on the concrete floor underneath the tankini rack picking up stray price tags and shoving them into his pocket? Oh yeah. That's MY kid.

And then I began noticing that my hair elastics kept disappearing. I couldn't find any sensible reason for the disappearance. Its not like I was taking them out of my hair and absent-mindedly shooting them across the room. A hair elastic should last for a reasonable amount of time. But every morning, I kept finding myself reaching for a new one because the previous day's elastic was MIA. It made no sense, until I watched Jonah clean the bathroom one day. While clearing off the counter top, he quickly grabbed an errant elastic and stuck it in his pocket. A few days later, I saw him do the same thing while brushing his teeth. And when I went in to dust his bureau, it all made sense. Sitting on the dresser was a pile of hair elastics. I asked him why all my elastics were sitting there, and he responded quite innocently, "Its my collection, Mom."

So the question is, is he a budding collector, or a kleptomaniac? I suppose it could go either way. In his defense, he hasn't shown much interest in those collections lately. His sights have moved on to marbles and leftover pieces of mesh-mosaic tile (clearly the child of a never-ending renovation). This afternoon as we were going through toys and packing up books in preparation for the D Street move, we came across an old pile of price tags and hair elastics. I told him they were all going in the trash. He froze in terror for a moment until I assured him there would be an opportunity to collect more in the future should he determine that was necessary.

He relented with little anguish.

I guess that phase is over.


One less thing to add to the list of "Things to discuss with a Child Psychologist"...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Glimmer of Progress...

Remember these before photos?

Here's where we stand right now:

We've yet to install the subway tile backsplash, the pendant lights over the sink and cooktop, or the exhaust system, it hasn't been painted yet, and we're still waiting on some cabinet doors (for the cabinets that were originally installed in December!), but the bones of the kitchen are at least in place. It probably looks small to most of you, but it feels HUGE compared to the old kitchen, and compared to many of the kitchens in our neighborhood. (Space. It was our biggest compromise, but you just can't beat the location!)

The kitchen is our favorite part of the house. We put a lot of thought and energy into our choices: painted white maple cabinets, single-basin sink, Cambrian black antiqued granite, all Bosch appliances (including a gas cooktop, a convection oven, built-in microwave, and cabinet depth refrigerator...all of which I scored at mind-blowing prices. MIND BLOWING!!!), red oak floor (it was a new install in the kitchen), new window sizes, where to move the plumbing and electrical, etc. Its been the most time-consuming part of the renovation, but obviously provides the biggest impact as far as resale goes.

We've been spending every spare moment at the house, trying to get things completed. At this point, we've got to finish up the kitchen (although I think I'll wait for my sister's visit in May to do the backsplash -- bet you didn't know that, Annie!), finish painting, and install baseboards, new exterior doors, carpet, the workshop's vinyl floor, window coverings, the new fireplace mantle (which I give Tyler permission to not build until we're in), and new bathroom fixtures, and we'll be ready to move. (At which point we have to unpack then start on the outside of the house...yeesh.) But we're hoping another three weeks. It could be four. But let's hope for THREE!

Any and all motivation is sincerely appreciated. We're running on fumes, here...!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My son, the Entrepeneur

Should I be proud or concerned?

I've mentioned before how much Jonah loathes work. For a six year old, however, extra chores and odd jobs are really the only way to make a little moolah. (Unless of course that six year old is lucky enough to receive an allowance. Mine is not. Tried it. Didn't work too well. We'll revisit that in a couple years.) Since he has a really hard time holding on to the money he does earn/find in the parking lot/con his great-grandpa out of (must-buy-the-SuperTarget-popcorn-combo!!!) he's learning he has to be creative to keep the dollars flowing.

The other day I walked into the bathroom and turned on the light to find this staring back at me:

"Look at Loos (lots) of Marbles!!! Just for $14."

I know he's been "saving up" [translation: spending every penny he has on candy and then complaining that he needs money] to purchase a replacement battery for his hand-me-down Gameboy (at a cost of $10-15). I guess this route made the most sense. And why not? He's been raised in a family business. He's never known any different, really. I sell stuff so I can buy things. If Mommy does it, why can't he?

But $14? Whew! Do those marbles tap dance?!

...I keep my prices pretty high, too. Way to be a diva, Jonah.

Good boy.

His Great-Aunt (who supplied him with the marbles) stopped by to drop off Easter gifts for the boys. When she was heading out, I followed her to her car with the lunchbox to show her his foray into entrepreneurship. We had a good chuckle about it which was interrupted by Jonah who had come out to see her off. He caught us looking at the the open box and declared, "Wait! You looked! Now you have to pay me $14!" She replied, "I'm sorry, but I don't have $14." "Well then you're just going to have to bring it next time because you OWE me $14." A few chocolate bunnies later and he had forgiven the debt, but I haven't dared to open it since!

But here's a photo so you can see "Loos" of marbles (!!!) for yourself. If you want to send payment, Jonah is currently accepting cash and checks.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fools

I've said before that Jonah is "enthusiastic." I'd try to come up with some other words to describe him, but vocabulary does not exist that better illustrates this little boy. Everything is fun. Everything is exciting. Everything is an adventure. Not a bad trait to have (although by 4:00 PM, even after having had a 3 hour break from him, it starts to wear on you).

So this morning, as with every morning, I was woken up by a beaming six-year old ready to tackle the world. Only today, instead of saying, "Mom, I'm awake. What can I do?" he said, "Mom, I'm awake. And I want breakfast."

I was prepared for this. Its April 1st.

Yesterday afternoon he made a big production of bringing me a carton of eggs, going on and on about how he wanted eggs for breakfast the next day but that I had to use the eggs that had an "x" written on them (a detail punctuated by a suspicious snicker in between each word). It was the same exact exchange we had had on March 31st the year before. And the year before that.

I rolled out of bed, dragged myself down the hall and pulled a frying pan out of the cupboard. I set it on the stove, not even bothering to turn it on knowing where we were headed, and decided to drag it out a bit this year for fun. I asked if he wanted toast and slowly began fussing with the twist tie on the bread bag.

*He started to fidget.*

I pulled a piece of bread out of the bag and placed it in the toaster, stopping to adjust my bedtime ponytail for theatrical impact.

*The fidgeting turned into small hops.*

I turned the toaster on, opened a drawer and started rifling through it, looking for a spatula.

*The small hops became larger jumps and his arms began to flail.

I pretended to look for some non-stick spray and made a comment about maybe making some juice to go with his breakfast.

*Full-body convulsions were now accompanied by small, irrepressible snorts as if he was moments away from having an aneurysm.*


I dramatically gave the eggs a smack on the counter top, and before I could even comment on the fact that they were hard boiled eggs, Jonah was rolling on the floor, gasping for breath in between guffaws.

"I got you Mom! I got you! April Fools! I got you so good!"

"You sure did! Hard boiled eggs! That's a good one, buddy!" (Again.) "I had NO idea!" (Year three, now? I guess if it works, why change?)

So we had hard boiled eggs for breakfast. While he was in the shower, I took all of Jonah's clothes out of his dresser and replaced them with Sam's clothes. If I thought he enjoyed his little breakfast hoax, it was nothing compared to being the recipient of a prank. As I watched him dripping with water in the middle of his room, I seriously considered throwing a towel under him to protect the carpet in case the delirious laughter led to loss of bladder control.

He's one easy kid to please.

So now we're conspiring, trying to decide how to punk his dad tonight.

I'm thinking maybe we'll just have eggs for dinner...but only the one's with an "x" on them.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wheat Grass Tutorial

photo credit: Opiefoto

I almost never have flowers in my home. I know what you're thinking: Wha??? A floral designer with no flowers?! Sacrilege! At the end of the day, that's just the last thing I want to do. So instead, they just die in my coolers if I don't have time to divvy them out to friends and neighbors. Springtime does make me long for a little perkiness - a little happy pop of color, however, and so once a year or so, I ignore the tulips in the cooler and instead grow myself some wheat grass. Nothing screams Easter like a big bushel of bright green grass...maybe with a few colored eggs at the base?

So without further adieu, I'm providing a quick 6-step tutorial on how to grow (or how I grow) wheat grass:

Step 1

Bust open a bucket of wheat and grab yourself a handful. For anyone who is LDS, this shouldn't be a problem -- we're supposed to rotate this stuff anyway, right? For someone who doesn't have a food storage supply (or doesn't store wheat) just grab a smaller bag from the grocery store. No need to pick up a 45 lb. bucket from Costco. And I figure if you're already making some for yourself, why not make a few cute pots for neighbors in the process? A cup and a half of wheat is more than enough for this purpose.

Step 2

Give the wheat a quick rinse, then place the wheat kernels in an airtight container and cover with water. I like to use these old Pyrex covered loaf pans, but a quart jar will work well, too. Don't put too much wheat into a single container. You don't want it to exceed a half inch...3/4 of an inch max. These things need room to breathe, so in an effort to prevent rot (Tyler's grandma says they "go sour"...and when they rot, they really do smell sour!), distribute the wheat into a few containers.

Step 3

Every day, dump the soaking wheat into a colander and rinse with cold water. Drain it really well, return it to the container, and recover (but don't add any water!). You'll do this for a few days until the wheat gets a good sprout, at which point you're ready to plant it.

Step 4

Fill your planting container with dirt. Any potting soil will work. Tyler's grandma mixes peat moss into her soil, but I haven't found that makes a noticeable difference in growth.
When I'm making grass for a wedding (see photo at the beginning of the post), I need it in large quantities so I plant it by the flat. I do this by cutting down a cardboard box, lining it with tin foil, and filling it with dirt (you only need a few inches of dirt). Then after its grown, I cut the sizes I need from the flat with scissors or a knife and place in the containers I'm using for the event. When I'm doing this for personal decor or gifts, its easier just to plant it directly into the pot I'll be using.

Sprinkle the sprouted wheat on the surface of the dirt. Give it some good coverage so your grass will be thicker. No need to pat it down -- just let it sit on top of the soil.

Step 5

Lightly sprinkle soil on top of your sprouts. LIGHTLY. If you dump a bunch of soil on top of your wheat, it'll grow funky because it'll have to work too hard to break the surface, or it won't grow at all. Just barely cover it. And if you can still see a few berries peeking through the soil, don't worry about it.

Step 6

Put the pots in a warm, bright place and keep moist. I use a spray bottle to water the grass once a day. If you over-water, the wheat will sour.

If the grass is able to grow in the sun, it will grow greener and faster. I don't get a ton of direct sunlight in my north-facing house, but keeping it by the windows on the south side has been sufficient for me. I find it takes about 10 days to get a decent growth. What you see here is probably about two weeks of growth.


And that's it. Easy-peasy. You can use pretty much any type of pot (although I've noticed that the roots tend to mold faster when grown in glass), you can grow it indoors or outdoors, and its a fun project for the kids as well because there's some instant gratification involved. It really does make for an adorable centerpiece or springtime decor feature. Grown in tera cotta pots and tied up with a bright ribbon? Talk about an easy neighbor gift! I even have some friends that have taken my event leftovers and used it in their smoothies and such, because its totally edible. But the best thing about growing wheat grass, is that is so insanely inexpensive. I have a trillion vessels in my work inventory and probably 600 pounds of wheat in our combined food storage, so all it costs me is a small bag of potting mix, and even that goes a long way.

Dare you to try it. Any way you look at it, wheat grass is happy. And happy is good. Especially in the home!