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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Adam Finds the Bright Side of a Hypothetical Tragedy, Plus Other Recent Kid Stuff

-Tonight on our drive home from grandpa's house (which, coincidentally, really is over the river and through the woods), Adam said, "Dad, if we get in a car crash -- I'm saying if we get in a car crash, I'm not saying I want us to -- I'm just saying, if we get in a car crash, can we put it on mama's blog?"

-Yesterday Peter wore his shirt of tandem-cycling Captain Ahab and Moby Dick, so there was a bit of discussion around here about Herman Melville's classic story. At dinner Adam said, "I have various dreams about what Moby Dick is actually like."

-Tonight Ellen wanted me to give her a doll after she was in bed. I said, "Here, would you like your Strawberry Shortcake doll?" She said, "Oh, this isn't Strawberry Shortcake. This is her friend, Cinnamon Toast Crunch."

-Finally (with apologies to everyone who already saw it on facebook), A Visit from Saint Nicholas, December 16, 2011:


 My favorite things about this are: 1) Jane's mad costuming skills, which she's been honing since before she was two, 2) the word "surprisements," 3) the way Santa unceremoniously chucks the gifts at their intended recipients, and 4) the moment at the beginning when, with the help of Jane's off-screen prompting, Adam realizes he should play the part, and you can see the spark in his eyes and his brain working as he switches into improv acting mode. (It's where he says, "Yeah, so, yeah . . . ")

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Advent Calendar for Grandma Kathe

We made an advent calendar to send to Grandma Kathe.

I had Jane and Zuzu create the artwork.

I think the everyone-facing-forward-and-floating-in-space technique came about because I recently had them draw and paint a whole set of nativity blocks and, being burned out on the art-slave gig, they just redrew on the fabric the figures they drew for the blocks. Despite the unfortunate effect of making everyone present at the manger seem disinterested in Baby Jesus, I love it.

Each pocket contains a folded up scripture about the Savior to read. We intended to put in treats, too -- maybe a mini candy cane sticking out the top of each -- but we had to get it in the mail and we ran out of time. I put a tiny red wooden clothespin on the first pocket that she can move along to mark the day, since it's hard to tell which day you're on without the treat in the pocket.

They did the art with pencil first (you can see some of the rejected pencil lines), outlined in black sharpie, and then filled in with oil pastels. I put a paper towel over the oil pastel and ironed it, to try to keep it from smudging and to help it to soak into the fabric. Craft or fabric paints would have been ideal, but the girls had run out of patience and we'd run out of time for painting.

You could do this from a drawing on paper too, if you scanned it, printed it on inkjet transfer paper, and ironed it on. Or you could make the top with a clear vinyl window and slide in a picture. It would be fun to have your kids draw a new picture each year and save them as keepsakes.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Costumes 2011

The group front porch shot seems to have become an annual tradition.

Cookie Monster is one of Aunt Suzy's famed masterpieces and Jane was excited to be the right size to borrow it this year:

With her twin pumpkin:

When Zuzu's Primary (like Sunday School) teacher at church -- we'll call her Michelle, since, uh, that is her name -- brought a traditional Indian outfit to show the class that her husband had purchased for her on a business trip to India, Zuzu, who happens to be the only girl in the class, just went nuts over the clothes. So, when Michelle's husband was due to go back to India for another trip, she asked me if I'd like to have him pick out something for Zuzu. 

Um, would I?!

Zuzu requested yellow, and I think Doug did the most remarkable job of finding the perfect outfit, correctly guessing the right size, no less. He even picked up some adhesive bindi glitter jewels to complete the look. $15.00 for the whole ensemble, no kidding. 

What an amazingly thoughtful friend, right? Zuzu has been in heaven. I mean Nirvana.

Since we started reading him the books recently, Adam is our newest resident Harry Potter fanatic. (Last week's request: "Mom, for Christmas, I want either a Firebolt, or a Nimbus 2001.")

When he said excitedly, "Mom! I know what I want to be for Halloween: . . .  Harry Potter!," as though he were the first kid to ever conceive of such a thing, I bit my tongue ("most overdone costume of the last decade" might have been the words I stifled) and responded with enthusiasm.

Besides, it meant all we had to do was come up with a tie and a pair of glasses and pull Jane's robes out of the dress-up box. 

Look at that grin:

At the school parade:

With his "wand" pumpkin:

I'm feeling very tempted to get into all kinds of geeky construction details of Ellen's costumes that gave me fits, but I'll refrain.

I made her this dress for her birthday, though it took me until this week to finish adding all the trim, and I really hoped she'd want to wear it for Halloween, because after putting a lot of work into it I just felt invested.

This has been a matter of constantly shifting opinion for Ellen, and we've had to play along with her whims, calling the dress, on one occasion, her "fairy" dress, or, on another, her "Glinda"* dress, etc., to keep the idea in play.

Two days ago she was insisting that what she really wanted to be was the wicked witch ("So I can scare all the people! And so I can say, 'I'll get you my pretty! And your little dog too!'")

An hour before we were going Trick or Treating today, she had changed into a leotard and announced she was going as a ballerina.

Fortunately, somehow after I told her I just wanted her to put the birthday dress back on so I could take pictures of her wearing it, she seemed to have forgotten all about the ballerina thing, and she went off happily in the dress. Maybe it helped that Peter let her wear the purple shoes. Triumph. My time and efforts were not in vain.

I still kind of want to make huge panniers and a powdered wig to go with it.

Not going to happen.

*During the Glinda phase, Ellen felt she needed a wand, and Peter brought her home a lovely, sparkly, fluffy pink star shaped one. He took it out of the package and placed it in her sweet little hand. She took it, pointed it, and yelled "Avada Kedavra!"

Mind you, we have a strict family policy of No Unforgivable Curses.

Also, when we asked her how her preschool Halloween party had gone, she said, "It was good. But my teacher told me and [other child's name] not to use our wands so much."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Some Kind of Hypocrite

OK, after my comments about black and orange in my last post, I had to laugh when I clicked through to see it on the blog and saw . . .

my blog header.

Commissioned Piece

Jane was of the opinion that she needed a Camp Half-Blood shirt, à la Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I said I'd make her one because I've been wanting to try cutting a freezer paper stencil with my Cricut electronic cutter ever since I got it for Christmas. Also because I pretty much do whatever Jane tells me. Like last month when she said, "I need you to come to school tomorrow at 11:00 to help my friend and me give our book report. Dress like a reporter and bring a microphone. We'll have your script."

I can't quite get over my bias that black and orange should be for Halloween only, but I guess you have to go by the book.

Jane likes it.
(Peter says, "That looks like the mouth of Sauron.")

Thursday, May 12, 2011

If Your Room is Always Clean, I'm Jealous of You

Just now when I was picking laundry off the floor of my girls' chronically disheveled room, mentally giving the lecture about how their room could be clean all the time if they would simply put each thing back where it goes instead of dropping it on the floor, I had a sudden flashback that made me chuckle.

I was at an overnight birthday party of a newish girl in our neighborhood. Her mother was sharing a few "get-to-know-you" facts about the birthday girl, including that she always kept her room clean. My 8-year-old self was completely awed by this bit of information. I think I incredulously asked her, "Really? Your room is always clean?" I remember her shrugging and saying yeah, it was pretty easy. I was just blown away. As in, "Who is this strange wunderkind who is come among us, who is able to do this thing?"

I guess my girls come by their messiness honestly.  When I started this post, I was thinking I could include a photo of their room in its current state as an illustration. Then I realized that wouldn't be fair unless I was also willing to post a current photo of my own room, and well, yeah.

I love, long for, and strive for cleanliness, order, and tidiness. Sadly, maintaining them has never come naturally to me.

I have a friend who says she tells her husband, "Please, if I die, don't let people come over to help clean and get things in order. I'd just be humiliated for people to see my house when it's dirty. You guys clean everything before you let anybody come over."

I, on the other hand, have told Peter that if people want to come and help him clean up and clear things out when I die, then that can be my dying gift to humanity: to let them see how I really lived, and feel better about themselves by contrast.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Guest Post: Spring Break

We went back and forth quite a bit this year on what we should do with the kids' Spring Break. It was a tough choice between the family ski trip to France and a week in St George. In the end, St George won out, so we packed our things for a

We drove down on Monday, played at "the twirly park" and settled in while the kids played in the pool.

If it had been up to the kids, they would have played in the pool all day, everyday, but we felt it was important to expose them to a variety of activities, so on Tuesday morning, we got up and went to Snow Canyon to hike around and play on the rocks.
Some of the hiking

Adam demonstrates lightsaber moves on top of a rock.

The kids getting in position for...
a group portrait.
On the way back from Snow Canyon we stopped at a new park that, though not as twirly as the twirly park, does have some twirly bits.
The kids in their favorite twirlies, the "tea cups"
and here they are in action:

The park had some other nice attractions, but the kids agreed that it wasn't as nice as the twirly park.
And then we went back and the kids played in the pool.

The next day we headed out to Sand Hollow with some of Peter's cousins and their kids to play in the sand.

Adam uses the force to raise his drip castle.

Zuzu gets a ride on a 4 wheeler with Peter's cousin Bonnie.
The wind really picked up in the afternoon, so we abandoned Sand Storm Hollow and went to the twirly park to play and do some ice blocking.  Thanks to Bonnie for providing the ice.

After the park, despite hurricane force winds, Jane and Zuzu swam in the pool while Mary entertained Adam and Ellen.

The next morning we headed out to Zion where we drove through the tunnel and hiked the Canyon Overlook Trail.

We spent a lot of the trip watching and waiting while Adam climbed all over.

Then we drove back to St George and the kids swam in the pool.

On our last day, we went and tested our fitness at "Fat Man's Misery"
Adam, no problem.

Zuzu, no problem.

Ellen, no problem.

Peter, experiencing some misery.

The kids had a great time on the trip getting re-acquainted with their second cousins.

Ellen setting fashion trends.

Next we stopped by St George's new feature.  Ellen danced with the waters...

while Adam fought with them.

And then we went back for one more swim in the pool before heading for home.

We had a wonderful Spring Break thanks to the beautiful places and fun people.  Oh, yeah, and the pools.
Jane expresses her approval of the trip.