Sunday, November 13, 2011

Birthdays, Baptisms, and Halloween - oh my!

Tyler and I are probably two of the most calculated, practical people you will ever meet. We research. We deliberate. We weigh the options, the pros, the cons. When we make a decision, you can be sure the issue was first beat to death, reincarnated, and then murdered a second time. Once we make a decision, we plan, we prepare, and make sure to dot and cross all our letters. Its a neat and tidy (and admittedly obnoxious) little life.

Such was the case when we decided I should become pregnant for the first time. I loved Autumn and knew that at the point the baby was born we would have sufficient savings to allow me to quit my job while Tyler continued his studies full-time. It seemed to fit into our naive 10-year plan. Jonah was born October 15th -- 20 days after my own birthday (September 25). Years later when we were considering baby #2, we determined that delivering in October would be ideal for my work schedule and so Sam was born October 5th -- 10 days after my birthday, and 10 days before Jonah's.

Its funny that in all the talk and planning, we never considered what a feat it was going to be every year to celebrate three birthdays in so many weeks, not to mention tacking Halloween onto the tail end of it. This year we spent the month wondering what in the WORLD we had been thinking, deliberately having kids so close in birth date. It was a whirlwind few weeks, to put it lightly. Here's how it all played out:

Sam Birthday

Sam turned 4 this year. Unlike Jonah who is just now starting to find his social footing, Sam makes friends everywhere he goes. Even at this young age, he runs with his own little posse, so I figured a small birthday party in the form of a glorified play-date couldn't hurt – super-hero style. He invited his best buds and his cousin, 5 boys in all. The boys decorated superhero masks and then played two games which were a complete failure by my standards, but the kids had fun. First, we had booby-trapped the family room with black streamers and then threw glow sticks all over the floor. The object of the game was for the kids to crawl on their bellies to retrieve the glow sticks, treating the streamers like lasers. After I said, "GO," Sam opened his arms wide and ran straight into the streamers, instantaneously ripping every last streamer from the wall and clearing the way for the glow sticks to be grabbed by little hands. My mom had predicted the game would last 30 seconds -- it was closer to 7. For the second game, my brother, David, dressed up as a super-villain. The kids were all given cans of silly spray and were told to use it to "vaporize the villain". I had envisioned them tearing through the yard, attacking Sam's uncle with silly string, but what I hadn't anticipated was that the triggers on the cans were too hard for little fingers to press. This resulted in David standing still on the driveway while the adults tried to help the kids operate the silly string cans. I suppose in this situation, I got what I paid for. (Thanks for nothing, Dollar Store!) With that behind us we moved on to cake and presents. I thought I'd be clever and place lit sparklers on the cake -- very POW-BOOM-ZAP like, right? It took forever to light the darned things, and then when I placed the cake in front of Sam, he burst into tears because he thought his mother was trying to light him on fire. Shall we call that strike 3? Luckily he's very forgiving. After we covered the entire kitchen with cake crumbs and blue frosting, we retreated to the family room to play with toys -- for the remaining HOUR. It really did end up being a play-date! The boys all went home with a superhero cape. Surprisingly, Sam had a fabulous time. I think in the end, he was just happy to have his friends over to play.

Jonah Birthday

Jonah's birthday was a different story. I was terrified when he announced he was ready for his first friend party. As far as I knew, he didn't have any friends. Since he's new to his school this year, I couldn't imagine whom he would invite, and I certainly didn't know that anyone would respond to the invitation. We invited 12 kids with the hope that 6 would show up. Since people in Utah do not RSVP (Seriously – not to parties, not to weddings, not to graduations…I can’t help but wonder if people here just don’t know what those letters stand for), I figured I'd plan for 12 even though 12 surely wouldn't show. When 11 kids showed up to the party that day, I was flabbergasted! I honestly could have burst into tears -- not only because I was so excited that Jonah had found some great little friends, but because for once my obsessive over-planning paid off! No surprise, he had insisted on a penguin theme. Our main activity was a craft: I made penguin bodies out of fleece and gathered items for the kids to create faces on their penguins. They then stuffed their penguins and stitched them shut. After that, we built igloos out of sugar cubes and then rushed through a fishing game, a musical iceberg game, a pinata, cake and presents. Where I had too little planned for Sam's party, I had way too much planned for Jonah's. But it was so much fun! The kids were courteous and hilarious, and the screaming -- oh, the screaming! Who knew girls screamed so much?! I can only imagine what a slumber party must sound like! It was a good day.

Halloween boys

On to Halloween. Being the cheapskate I am, I took Sam to Target after Halloween last year to find a costume on clearance. He already knew he wanted to be Darth Vader (aka "Darf Vater"), but the only one left on the rack was a size 12-14. I tried to talk him out of it, but how do you talk a 3 year old out of ANYTHING??? I figured the $5.00 was worth the mask if nothing else, so I relented. He wore that costume around the house all year, and the day before he was scheduled to wear it to school for Halloween, I decided to alter it to fit him better (because in its original state, the costume fit ME). I raised the waistband by 6 inches, and chopped who-knows-how-much off the legs, arms and cape. After throwing on some snow boots and grabbing his light saber, he was good to go. Adorable.

And guess what Jonah wanted to be? Must you ask? I tried so hard to talk that kid into being a zookeeper or penguin researcher -- anything that got me out of making a penguin suit -- but to no avail. So I gave in, bought a lot of black and white felt and fleece, and got to work. For most of the design and fitting process (based on this tutorial), he just looked like a big tootsie roll. He is so tall and skinny, that no matter what I did, he didn't look very penguin-like. Once I got the wings and hat on him, you could at least tell what he was supposed to be. It was a boiling-hot costume with all that fabric and stuffing, but he didn't complain. The boy was living his dream.

Jonah Baptism

A couple weeks later came the high point of the entire month of festivities. Because this was his 8th birthday, Jonah was able to be baptized and confirmed a member of our church on Saturday, November 5, 2011 by his Dad. He came home from school the day before his baptism feeling rotten (Sam had been sick the previous week). We considered rescheduling, but since baptisms are only done once a month in our Stake and we had friends and family coming from all over the valley, we decided instead to have Tyler give Jonah a priesthood blessing that evening and hope for the best. We woke up to snow the next morning which was funny in itself. You see, the weekend Jonah was to receive his blessing as a newborn (Jan. 2004), we were hit with a terrible snow storm. We found out shortly before it was to take place – with guests already in route and family visiting from out-of-state -- that our Sunday service was canceled because there was no power in our Ward building. A last minute scramble sent a bishopric member to our home which allowed us to bless Jonah in our living room, surrounded by those we loved. The fact that Tyler had to shovel the driveway before we left for the baptism was a sweet reminder of that morning. As it was all those years ago, many cherished friends and family were in attendance, and it was a day filled with excitement, anticipation, love and support. Driving home after the service, I asked Jonah how he felt. “I feel warm inside. And happy…and not very sick!” was his reply. I was a proud and grateful mother -- proud to be the mom of such a special kid, and grateful to my Heavenly Father for His eternal plan. Its a day I'll never forget, and one I hope Jonah remembers as well.

And that was our month from October 5th-November 5th. Its over, my kitchen is finally clean, and all I want to do now is take a nap. Wake me up when its Thanksgiving...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Creepy Moustache Family

Creepy Moustache Family

The boys went to a new pediatric dentist last week. Jonah loves the dentist (and by "love," I mean gets crazy-hyper like a little poodle when we walk through the door), Sam, not so much. Sam has been to the dentist twice before, and each time he was asked to hop up on the chair, he would suddenly become possessed by some devil and it would take two to three adults to restrain him long enough to "kind of" get his teeth counted. No instruments were allowed. I always thought my insurance company was getting ripped off after those failed appointments.

Since we moved, I decided to find somewhere a little bit closer (even though the old office is only 5 miles away...I prefer less than 2. Have you SEEN the gas prices these days???), and boy am I glad I did. I swear the gals in this new office are "boy whisperers". Not only did they do a thorough cleaning and fluoride treatment without any tears, they got a full set of x-rays to boot. Cue the Hallelujah chorus and descending cherubs! I was relieved, because I swear the last guy (who spent way too much time with the self-tanner and teeth bleaching trays...and that unnerved me) had an asterisk on our chart that said, "DIFFICULT PATIENTS - PROCEED WITH CAUTION." Our new dentist ("Jeff" -- no self-tanner whatsoever) probably noted that my boys were very-well behaved, and that their mother has beautiful teeth. (Because I do. And I showed him.) And aside from that, he most likely threw a couple $$$'s in there for reference because Jonah will require a trip to the orthodontist in the next year for a braces consult which means a happier Christmas for all practitioners involved, and a much more meager Christmas for us.

Each boy was given a coin to use in the toy machine on the way out (like a gumball machine, filled with stuff that will either jam my washing machine or will be found months from now, half-melted under their car seats). Sam was smart and had scoped out the goods prior to his appointment. It was an easy decision -- the faux moustache -- very debonair. When the appointment was over and we went out to redeem his coin, the guy who has the job of replenishing the dental toy machines had been there and was packing up to leave. The moustaches were gone. All the pent up fear and anxiety that Sam had been holding back that morning was suddenly unleashed like a tsunami. Since crying at that decibel level can not be ignored, the toy guy ran up and asked what it was that Sam had wanted. He then proceeded to give Sam not one, but FOUR moustaches. All he had left in his box. Jack pot.

And now we are the Creepy Moustache Family. Who knew facial hair could be so much fun?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Before there were dryers...(or how Eve did her laundry)

One of the things that made Tyler swoon when we first toured this house was it's ridiculously enormous utility room. Its huge. Like, the size of two large bedrooms combined, huge. Personally, I think I'd rather have an extra two bedrooms, but I've found even I am enjoying the huge space that affords us way more storage than the average single family home (which almost makes up for the fact that our entire garage is committed to Whimsy's inventory...if only we could park a car in the utility room).

On one end of the room is both our furnaces and humidifier, the water heater, the washer dryer, Tyler's server/network area, and loads of storage. The other end of the room currently houses three large closets dedicated to food storage, shelving for "stuff," Tyler's tools, Tyler's table saw, a second fridge, and more cubbies for storage. In the middle is a wide open expanse I try not to use as a dumping ground.

A month or so ago, Tyler strung two clotheslines that reach across the room. I {{{LOVE}}} them! I didn't realize how much I'd use them until they were there...and I do. I really do use them. This is something we did not have at the last house (downside of having the washer/dryer in a hall closet), so anything that couldn't go in the dryer ended up being flung over the backsides of chairs and couches. It made the long process of laundry seem even longer and more arduous. Now, I get to hang my air-dry laundry and walk away, closing the door behind me. Who knew such a time-honored practice would feel like such a luxury?

So --

The other day I was cleaning the bathroom downstairs, listening to the boys wander through the house together. They eventually ended up in the utility room. And this is what I heard (coming from a very wise 7-year old voice):

Jonah: "Sam, do you see the rope up there? That's how they used to do laundry in the olden days. Its very old fashioned, you know. A long, long time ago, back when Adam and Eve were still alive, they didn't have dryers, so they had to hang up their clothes on strings. They'd wash their clothes in the washing machine but then they'd have to pull them out and hang them up to dry like that. Can you believe that??? We're really lucky that we have dryers now because if we didn't, it would take so long to dry all our laundry, we'd never have clean underwear to wear! Adam and Eve had a lot of kids so I bet Eve wished she had a dryer like Mom, instead of some string..."

Sam agreed emphatically.

I don't know, though. Seems like a dryer would be pretty far down on Eve's wish list.

Honestly, I bet she would have been happy with toilet paper.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2010 year-in-review

I don't think of myself as being particularly voyeuristic, but I do love hearing about the lives of my family and friends. For this reason, one of my favorite parts about the holidays are the Christmas cards, and more so, the family newsletters/updates that accompany many of them. It seems however, that with our busy lives these days, fewer families are sending out these newsletters. I'm guilty of this myself. This year I felt like I was lucky just to get the stamps on the envelopes (and I thought my head was going to explode waiting for Jonah to lick each after another, after another...). There was no way I could muster a family update. But now the holidays are well over, and while you didn't find it in your envelopes this Christmas, you can read our year-in-review right here.

I thought about going through month-by-month so I opened up my trusty calendar, thinking it would be easy to pull out all the brilliant things we did as a family...


The first 5 months of the year consisted of nothing more than battling contractors, pulling all-nighters at the D Street house, and for me, working on the weekends. At the beginning of May, we decided that come hell-or-high-water, we WOULD BE MOVING in June. We went so far as to set a date. The date was to be almost 18 months from the day we closed on the house. It was a busy, emotional few weeks as we scrambled to get the house livable. My sweet sister came out to help finish last-minute projects and somehow we were able to pull it together in time. But then we had to pack.

I had been trying to pack unnecessary things here and there, but really, I was spending about 20 hours a week working at the house in addition to my 20-40 hours a week working for my clients, so I hadn't been able to accomplish as much in advance as I would have hoped. I had my last wedding on June 8th and we were scheduled to move on June 12th (and by scheduled, I mean the truck was reserved and the Elders Quorum had us on the calendar). Oh -- and Jonah's last day of kindergarten was on the 8th as well, which meant I had two kids that I needed to pawn off on wonderful friends. So I had three days to pack an entire house PLUS a business. On the 10th, it was pretty obvious I wasn't going to make it. This was tragic since half our work-force (Tyler's family) was only available that weekend. We told his family that we were throwing in the towel, at which point they rallied together and told us we were going to move on Saturday, and they were going to help. My sister-in-law, Maren, was at the house bright and early on Friday, and lo and behold, together we got the entire house packed that day. That evening, Clayton, Kylie, Jordan, Ashley, and Randy showed up to move Whimsy's inventory and coolers. They packed the moving truck to the brim and had it unpacked at the house a couple hours later. The boys were staying the night with my in-laws, and by 3:00 AM, Tyler and I had all the furniture taken apart and we collapsed in our sleeping bags. Everything was ready to go. The next morning, the guys from the ward showed up at 8:30 AM. I decided to take a load of personal stuff to the house at 9:00 AM, and by the time I got back, the truck was loaded. Amazing. We all drove to the house to unload the truck, and I think we had the Elders Quorum done and on their way by 11:30 AM? (One of the wives later told me that her husband said it was the most organized, painless move he's ever been a part of. Best compliment ever!) Our families stuck around to make beds and unpack the bathrooms, kitchen, and pantry, and we had a nice lunch and then sent everyone off around 1:00 PM. I couldn't believe how smoothly it all went. I was able to spend the afternoon unpacking, and even had time to drop off thank-you cards and loaves of bread from the bakery to our moving helpers.

As you can guess, the remainder of our year has been consumed by settling into this house. In addition to our continuing cosmetic projects, we've had some major headaches as well (like the time we were told we needed to replace our main sewer line...a week after we moved in!). But all the same, we love this charming little house, and this quiet little neighborhood.

Other 2010 happenings:

Tyler was promoted to "Clinical Scientist" this year, and shortly after we moved, he also started supervising his lab's evening shift. Can you say awesome?! I live in a world where my husband gets my son ready in the morning, takes him to school, chaperone's every field trip, gladly accompanies me grocery shopping, has time to tinker around the house and work on projects, and allows me to take off at a moment's notice -- child-free. I've been a lucky gal. In September, Tyler crashed his mountain bike on a rocky trail and consequently broke his elbow. He was banged up pretty bad, but that didn't keep him from ripping out and replanting the entire front yard landscaping before he even got the green-light from the doctor to remove his sling. What a [stubborn] stud.

I, on the other hand, remained a slave to my work for the better part of the year. I had an epiphany-inducing experience at the start of the year that really got me thinking about my priorities. I finished out the 2010 commitments to my clients and then chose not to renew all but one of my advertising outlets for 2011. After so many years running this business, its my desire to be more accessible to my children that has prompted me to pull back professionally. We're putting a lot of faith in the Lord that we'll be able to swing this financially. I'll still take a handful of weddings in 2011, but hopefully, Whimsy will now take its rightful backseat to the family. (That's not to say I'm not constantly thinking about new, less time consuming projects to bring in some additional income!) Other not-so-noteworthy things I did: cut my bangs (something I said I'd never do), joined a neighborhood "Joy School" group for Sam (something everyone else said I'd never do), and learned how to make a semi-decent dinner roll (something I never thought I'd do, but I'm still working on that one).

True to the previous 6 years of his life, Jonah's year was an eventful one. He finished kindergarten, learned to ride a bike, shared a room for the first time, kept the Tooth-Fairy in business, started the first grade, turned 7, became obsessed with all things Pokemon, finished the first five volumes in the Harry Potter series, upgraded from his Gameboy to a Nintendo DS, and won his grade's "Reflections" art contest. He's reading from the fifth/sixth-grade reading list at school, and he claims he plays basketball during recess. (What?!) He was diagnosed in early-fall as having ADHD, and we've spent the last part of the year trying to get his medications all squared away. As always, he's been a champ and has maintained a great attitude through it all.

Sam...What to say about this little monkey? He's adorable. Just adorable. And sweet. But stubborn. And hilarious. And exasperating. (Three year olds!) In 2010 he conquered potty-training and started Joy School, developed a fondness for Darth Vader and other villains, and devoted the majority of his time to terrorizing his older brother. He's always dressing up in some costume or another, he loves any and all forms of music, he prefers to always be on the go, and his favorite thing to do (outside of teasing Jonah) is eat. Breakfast, first lunch, snack, second lunch, snack, early-late snack, after-school snack, grazing, dinner, dessert, midnight snack. For Christmas he only asked for an Easy Bake Oven, which he received. He's a crack-up. And thank goodness, Sam is still a squishy little dude, which makes me want to cuddle him constantly...if only he wouldn't squirm so much.

So in 2010 we stayed close to home, but as it turns out, that's exactly where we wanted to be. It was a fun, adventure-filled year, spent in here in SLC. The kind that makes you look forward to years to come.