Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Christmas to Remember

There's been a lot of holiday action going on around here. And by action I don't mean baking and shopping and caroling. Action of a very different sort. I'm talking hospital visits. This Christmas season has already proven to be one I won't soon forget.

You see, we're spending the holiday in Utah with Mark's family. And on Saturday night Mark's pregnant sister (who has been in the hospital on bed rest for several weeks now) went into labor. The problem is she is only 26 weeks along in her pregnancy. We waited and wondered and hoped things would stabilize. And they did.

So on Sunday morning we decided we should go to church. It was the Christmas program afterall. Yet not more than 30 minutes into the meeting we found ourselves abruptly leaving and heading to the hospital. But not for Mark's sister this time.

Gavin had gotten wiggly and Mark took him out to the hallway to wander a bit. Gavin busied himself with opening and closing a classroom door, and in the process caught his middle finger in the door. This heavy wooden door didn't just pinch his skin. It nearly severed the tip of this finger. So off to the ER we went. Not long after that we found ourselves at Primary Children's Hospital getting an x-ray of the finger for bone damage. Luckily the laceration did not fracture the bone, but they needed to stitch the finger back together. So they decided to put our little Gavin under for the surgery.

Mark and I sat in the room while the doctors gave him oxygen and worked to repair the damaged finger. It was all so surreal. I'll never forget seeing his little body on that large hospital bed. Limp and hurt. And then sitting by his bed after surgery and waiting for him to wake. He looked like a little doll.

We spent nearly half the day in the ER. But we had a remarkably good experience there. The staff quickly brought activities to entertain Owen during the ordeal. We were served food and drinks. And the doctors and nurses were so sweet with Gavin. We felt very well cared for.

However the action was not over yet. Early Monday morning we got word that Mark's sister was delivering her baby, ready or not. Pins and needles! She delivered a 1 lb 15 oz baby boy. T-I-N-Y but breathing on his own.

Today we headed back to Primary Children's Hospital for our first follow-up on Gavin's finger. Everything looks really good and the finger is healing well. Then this afternoon we headed to the hospital again to meet our newest nephew, lying in an incubator in the NICU. He is the tiniest human being I've ever seen. He is beautiful and precious. And I love him.

All these holiday happenings have kept us busy and left us a bit tired. But I can't think of a more perfect way to remember this season than seeing my happy boy with a healing finger and a newborn baby boy making his way into the world.

(Gavin's hospital souvenirs: a soft reindeer blanket, a plush dog, wristband and medical supplies)

(Owen's souvenirs: Hospital Buddies he decorated and cared for during our stay)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Handmade Gifts

It is a tradition in my family to do a gift giving swap each Christmas where we draw names and give to three different people. This year we incorporated a new rule that one of the items must be handmade. And I happened to draw my sister's husband for that one. So...what, what, what to do? I think it'd be a whole lot easier to make something for my sister or sisters-in-law. But no. I had to get creative. Since my brother-in-law is in a band, I decided to make him a guitar strap cover. And because he isn't a reader of this blog I won't spoil anything by sharing the finished product:

I also spent some time creating a few handmade crafts to sell at a holiday boutique my friend hosts in the area. These are the countdown blocks I made:

And while looking around the boutique I met a grandmother who hand knits these lovely little baby sweaters. They were so cute! I just couldn't resist. I had to buy this adorably festive one (for only $8 I might add). It is just tiny and sparkly and I love it.

One other thing I should share is a fun kit we put together this year for our neighbors. We gave them an assortment of goodies to make gingerbread houses. I like the idea of giving them something they can do together as a family. And who doesn't love to eat the leftover sweets!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

'Tis the Season

It's gift giving season already! I can hardly believe it! And as part of our annual church craft fair I put together a table of gift ideas. Simple ones to give to friends and neighbors. I found a lot of cute ideas online so I thought I'd share.

1. Candy Cane Mint Milanos - Milano cookies are great as is, but this idea makes them even more festive and delicious.

2.S'mores Kit - I love this idea for a cozy winter evening!

3. Produce from Santa's Orchard - What a lovely little way to give fresh fruit!

4. Reindeer and Snowman Pops - I took this idea and altered it to be even easier. I dipped Oreos in chocolate and made both reindeer and snowmen.

5.Caramel Apples and Granola - A perfect holiday snack. I used a can of sweetened condensed milk as the caramel (turns to caramel when microwaved)

6.Donut Snowmen - This couldn't be simpler...or more tempting.

7. Hot Chocolate on a Stick - A tad tedious, but it turns out absolutely delicious!

8. Drink Toppers - Break out the bubbly! Dress it up and drink it down.

See? Cute AND easy. Now go get your giving on!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


...or "How we've spent our Saturdays for the last three months"

We just finished up our first season of soccer with Owen. And I count it as a success. Not because of our winning record, I might add. (We lost every single game.) But because we started the season like this:

And ended like this:

Our little #6 once again approached things on his own terms. He refused to play for the first month of practices and games. It was pure torture. Mark would coax and lead, beg and plead. But to no avail. Then slowly Owen warmed up to his coaches and teammates and at least stayed on the field for the whole game. By season's end, he was kicking the ball right along with the rest of them...and enjoying it.

Last week we celebrated the season with a team party. Pizza was eaten, trophies were handed out, and we got a piece of this amazing cake:

Now that soccer's through I wonder if we should attempt baseball in the spring...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Evolution of a Costume

I bought the most adorable costume after Halloween last year. And I fully intended for Gavin to wear it this year. It was going to be the perfect size, the perfect cuteness. A little lion. I even made him try it on weeks ago just to see how it would look.

Then one day he had a nasty encounter with the corner of a wall. And I thought maybe a Frankenstein costume would suit him better. Poor baby. It was bad.

But it healed. And I realized he could be neither lion nor Frankenstein. With his age and girth he needed to be something more...religious. It was settled. He would be Nacho Libre for Halloween.


Halloween Extravaganza

Picking out pumpkins:

Stopping to pat the bunnies:

Carving (perhaps my best year yet):

Parading at preschool:

Trick-or-treating as gorilla and Nacho Libre:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

If Nautical Nonsense Be Something You Wish

About 33 years ago my mom made the most adorable sailor suit for my older brother. He had his picture taken in it, as did my other three younger brothers. It was one of those keepsake outfits that got passed around, with hints of maritime and nostalgia.

Then when my older brother had a son, the sailor suit reemerged and took its place in another seafaring photo. In fact, all the nephews have had their picture taken in the outfit. So when my two boys came along I knew I had to keep up the tradition.

Here is Owen in the suit:

And I almost forgot to get Gavin's pictures taken. My mom remembered the suit and sent it to me just in the knick of time. It barely fit. Here's Gavin sporting the stripes:

Now both times I've pulled out the sailor suit to get the boys photographed, Mark has put up a fit. He says, "Please Bridge. Don't make them wear that." He is not a fan of anything nautical, it's safe to say. But I wasn't going to let that take the wind out of my sails. That outfit is adorable!

And I'll have you know every woman in the mall would agree. After getting Gavin's pictures taken I ran into a couple more stores to do some shopping. You would not believe how many "ohhhhs" and "how cutes" I got. Little boys just don't dress like they used to.

The sailor suit lives on.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cookie Class

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the most wonderful cookie decorating class with my friend Kim. It was held at a Parisian-inspired pastry shop called Miette and taught by a true cookie artist. Wearing crisp white aprons, we worked in the confectionary kitchen and used all the bake shop tools. It was so, so exciting!

We learned how to make a great sugar cookie. The base of the sweet treat is very important, you know. But most of the time was spent learning how to perfect the art of royal icing (mixing it, thinning it, coloring it). We then practiced different techniques in decorating. My goodness, I could have stayed there all day. There is something so comforting about working with fresh-baked goods. Being in the kitchen with good company, creating something delectable!

I think I would really like to work in a pastry shop someday. I have so much more to learn, but I loved getting just a taste of it. I'm sure the only drawback of decorating cookies with royal icing is they are too cute to eat.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

That Doggie in the Window

Owen's wanting a dog has been a reoccurring theme for awhile now. For as long as I can remember, he's been fascinated with dogs. He loves everything about them. He is convinced he needs one. Remember this? And Gavin is right alongside him. He takes notice of every dog everywhere we go. Even the faintest bark sets him in search of a hound.

There's just one problem. I am NOT a dog person. Well...I do like them at a distance. I think it would be great for the boys to have a dog. I had a dog for a short time growing up and I loved it. But the thought of taking care of it, cleaning up after it, getting attached to it. I feel like I'd be taking on another half child. Not sure I'm up for that.

Yet Owen is relentless. Everyday he talks about getting a dog. I feel myself slowly wearing down. About a week ago on our trip to the library I suggested we check out some books on dogs. That way we could learn more about different kinds and how much work it is to take care of a pet. In a way I was hoping it would distract him from the daily debate. Instead, I found this hanging above his bed the next day:

He had looked through that piddly library book like it was a catalogue. And he ordered up the one he wanted. Total backfire. After a frank reminder about how to treat library books I asked him why he hung the page up. And his response was, "When Santa comes to my house he'll think this boy wants a pug for Christmas."

The question of whether or not we're getting a dog remains to be seen. But what's certain is we'll be checking out this event again this year. It's too cute (weird) to be missed.

Monday, September 27, 2010

First Day of Preschool

So I know this post is a tad tardy. Owen actually began preschool three weeks ago. But I haven't dared write about it until now. I wasn't altogether sure preschool would happen this year. You see, the picture above tells a very different story than what happened on the first day of school. Let me fill you in.

The morning began normally. We had spent the previous days and weeks prepping Owen for his first day of preschool. He had visited his classroom, even met his teachers. He expressed excitement about all of it. To an outsider, it would seem Owen was well-prepared for this new experience. But as his parents, we knew Owen had a track record of not welcoming change. Transition, he does not. Yet with all the cheering and prepping, he seemed to be handling everything really well. We took a picture of our proud preschooler just before heading out the door to drop him off.

It was a big day, so we all piled in the car to give Owen the big send off. Gavin and I were still in our pj's so Mark walked Owen in to school, hand in hand. Things were looking good.

45 minutes later....

Gavin and I were still sitting in the car outside of preschool, waiting for Mark to return. Things were looking a little grim now.

When Mark finally returned to the car he confirmed my suspicions. Owen refused to stay at school. As you can imagine, there was a lot of talking, arguing, reassuring, threatening, pleading and the like going on. But Owen would not let Mark leave the classroom without him. He kept following him out, disregarding his teachers and fellow classmates. Now I'm not sure how it all went down. But Mark was late for work and just needed to leave. So the way Mark explained it to me was something like:

The teacher grabbed hold of Owen and held him down while I ran out of there. All the while Owen was screaming, "Let go of me PLEASE!"

Upon hearing this story, I felt awful. I felt a whole range of emotions.
I knew we shouldn't have done this.
What a terrible and traumatic first day.
He'll never want to go back.
Poor Owen.
Poor teachers.
What could we have done differently?
What's wrong with my kid?
I'm a terrible mother!

The rest of the day was pretty awful. And the next few days of school were also kind of awful. (AND, this was all happening during my "be a carrot, not an egg" phase). It was a mess. I was a mess.

And that brings us to today. Owen got up for school. We cheerfully loaded the car. He said, "I'll wave to you Mom!" We waved goodbye and I dropped him off like nothing had ever happened. I think I'll pretend like today was the REAL first day of school.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Be a Carrot, Not an Egg

I've been going through something lately. A rough patch. A hard time. It's a natural cycle I suppose; a period of stretching and growth. But man, it's taken a toll on me.

The last few weeks have been just plain hard. It's one of those times when the balls are flying and I can't seem to keep control of them. (And yes, I have control issues). Mark is super busy with work and outside-of-work work. He has responsibilities that occupy his weeknights and weekends. And it will be this way for awhile. So I'm willing myself to get used to it. Owen is going through what I'll call "the terrible fours". We experienced the terrible twos and threes, so why not keep it going? Only difference is, he is pushing and resisting on a whole new 4-yr-old level. I guess I should be prepared for this by now, but I'm not. He breaks me down. And Gavin. Sweet Gavin. He is my shadow. I cannot make a move around here without Gavin attached to me. And while it's nice to be loved, I find it quite suffocating lately. Plus, he's decided it's time to assert himself and make his wants known. So his newest tricks involve high-pitched screams, dropping to the floor in agony, and banging his head on the closest object in sight (a trick Owen used to do) when he doesn't get what he wants.

So it's a culmination of things really. The aforementioned factors mixed with the daily duties of trying to keep the house in order, fulfill other responsibilities, and have some time (ANY time) for myself has just been exhausting.

I was recently reminded of a phrase. "The same boiling water that softens the carrot also hardens the egg." In other words, I can choose to react positively or negatively to these circumstances. And while I think I've reacted rather negatively thus far (read: wicked witch of the west), I am making a renewed effort to see the positive. I plan to slow down and enjoy this stage as much as possible. I plan to have renewed patience. I plan to not give up. And for goodness sake, I plan to be a carrot.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Finally Four!

It seems as though Owen has been four for quite some time. He is at the tail end of his group of friends, watching their birthdays come and go. Always asking, "When will I be four?" "Am I four yet?"

Well it finally happened. He turned four a couple weeks ago as we boarded an airplane bound for Utah to spend time with family. The birthday boy got the royal treatment on the plane. A visit with the pilot, who showed him around the cockpit. A special birthday wish over the intercom. Extra refreshments from the flight attendants. And a dollar bill gifted from a random stranger.

The celebrating just goes on and on. In all he has partied with family, with cousins and grandparents, at preschool and in primary. And he's about to have one last round of gifts from a second set of grandparents who are coming to visit. Four, indeed!

For some reason four seems so much older than three. It's like a whole new bracket. In clothing, in amusement park admissions, in so many ways. It's so grownup. And so is my Owen.

He is quite the chatterbox. He loves to tell people things. A lot of things. Sometimes too many things. At a restaurant last week, he insisted on using the bathroom by himself. I reluctantly walked him to the door of the men's room and waited outside. He seemed to be taking awhile, when finally a man walked out and said, "Is that your talker in there?" Apparently he had been chatting it up the entire time he was taking care of business. Most of the time people think it's cute at first...but when he won't stop talking, they start to kindly excuse themselves from the conversation.

He does things on his own time or in his own way. Getting ready to go can be tricky. He will not be hurried. Participating in activities like school, swim lessons, and sports can be dicey. He will not be forced. Eating can be pure torture. He will not be pushed. To keep my sanity I have learned to pick my battles. If he's wearing his swim trunks and rashguard to school in late winter I say, "At least he's dressed." If he's refusing to participate in activities I say, "It's because he can't stand to be away from his mother!." If he's insisting on sucking the juice from the grapes rather than eating them whole I say, "It's fruit intake, right?'"

He is rather inquisitive. We go through the string of why? why? why? many times a day. He is curious about most everything. And his questions are getting more advanced. Lately he is fascinated with life and death. He had a whole discussion with me the other day about what I should do when he dies. He wanted to make sure I knew to sit by his side until Heavenly Father came to pick him up. And make sure Heavenly Father knew that Owen was my son. He wants to know, very specifically, how things work and why they are the way they are.

He is developing more of an interest in drawing. I've tried forever to get him to do coloring or other artsy things, but he'd always rather be active. Now I'll go into his room and discover he's drawn a family picture (don't you LOVE the detail on the knees!) Or he's drawn a replica of a story figure we discussed (The Good Samaritan). I love kid's artwork. I'm going to have to restrain myself from keeping all his little drawings.

Mostly, I love how his little mind works. I love that he wakes up in the morning and tells me he had a dirty dream. And he means he literally had a dream where he got really dirty. Or he wants to eat things that have vitamin C because he thinks he needs to see better. I love that he wishes he could go down the drain in the bathtub or have a garage sale where they sell parents. He never fails to surprise me with his comments and thoughts.

Love that Owen. Cheers to being four!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Event Planning

After posting my pics of Gavin's birthday celebration, I was asked for some party ideas for my friend's little girl. I have lots of ideas floating around in my head when it comes to parties. There is inspiration everywhere. And planning a party for a girl is a treat. So I put together a few inspiration boards to help with the planning.
Like any of these, Stella?

Pinwheels: starting with the invitation, and decorations, even an outfit for the birthday girl to wear.

ABCs/Colors: paralleling the theme I used for Gavin's bday, it would be great to incorporate a touch of alphabet. Of note? The rainbow knit hat is on sale for $6 on Etsy. So darling! And the hanging colored pieces are just strands of paint chips.

Forest Friends: Love this one! Got the invitation, decorations, cupcakes, even a couple gift ideas; a delightful board book and a perfect plush bunny (also on Etsy).

These were so fun to create, I just might do another round.

Things I Have Found in the Toilet:

receipt, bracelet, hairdryer.

Gavin has been busy. New household rule...keep the bathroom doors closed!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

This Little Piggy

This little piggy won't park it.

On the go. Playing keep up with Owen. He loves to push and pull things, stack and destroy things, carry and drop things.

This little piggy has grown.

30 inches tall and over 23 pounds. He's traded in baby fat and fuzzy hair for a little guy frame and boyish locks. His appetite rivals mine. And he's not picky. He'll eat just about anything at anytime.

This little piggy has six teeth.

And in case you hadn't noticed, there's a wee gap in the front two. It gives him a nerdy edge and I like that.

This little piggy is one!

He's come so far in a year. I love that he laughs with Owen, sees Mark and is ready to play. He points, knows his name, plays chase, loves dogs, won't sit down in the bathtub, falls to the floor when he wants something. He's figuring out the world around him.

This little piggy cries waa, waa, waa when I'm not home.

He is a true momma's boy right now. Maybe for good? Who knows. But I'll take what I can get.

(Note: I checked the camera and my phone for pics of Gav. This random batch was about all I had...along with a bunch of blurry ones. Lesson learned? He doesn't stay still for very long AND I need to take more pictures!)