Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Christmas Story, 2010

I'll admit that Christmas Eve was a busy night, with setting out Christmas cookies for Santa, spreading reindeer food on the driveway so Donner and Blitzen would have a snack while they waited, last-minute wrapping of gifts, and mentally preparing for Christmas morning, but I thought I had at least tidied up the family room before I went to bed.

Oddly, I was the first one up. I awoke at 6:30am, thought about going back to sleep, and then resigned myself to getting out of bed and (hopefully) catching some of the childrens' Christmas joy on video. I went downstairs to start the coffee and open the curtains, and nearly tripped on this:

I thought for certain I had blundered and left unwrapped gifts on the floor, until I looked closer and realized that two of the stockings appeared to be empty, with their innards strewn about the floor. Upon closer inspection, I saw that someone who shall remain unnamed (but who has a bedroom on the first floor) had unceremoniously dumped out the contents of Kate's and Claire's stockings. Luke's stocking, which clearly had uninteresting Matchbox cars and a truck coloring book in it, was untouched. I also noticed an assortment of candy wrappers next to the Barbie that had been in Claire's stocking.

I suspected that this midnight snack had filled the little belly of the child who had rummaged through Santa's gifts, and realized that I probably had plenty of time to make coffee and breakfast.

Sure enough, although Claire and Luke were understandably enthusiastic and excited about Christmas morning and all of its tidings, Kate was more difficult to rouse out of bed.

While attempting to wake Kate, Tim asked her if she had had any part in the stocking annihilation. She told him an engaging story about how she had missed seeing Santa, but that she had woken up when the clock said 4 and also 5, and that the reindeer food was all gone. She also mentioned that the stockings were so heavy that they had fallen down to the floor. He asked her if she had a snack of candy, and she admitted she had.

Not realizing that she had relayed the story to her father already, I asked her if she was the one who had opened all the stockings. She told me, "No, it wasn't me," with a smirk.

My favorite part of the story: the candy wrappers were from the Rolos in my stocking.

Prized Barbie clothes from Uncle Bob.


Santa Luke and his awesome 'twaktoh' book.

Luke proved to be surprisingly adept at opening gifts. He would tear off a small piece of paper and hand it to the closest person, demanding, "bin", meaning, "kindly throw this in the garbage bin for me". Adorable.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Busy With Pictures

This is what I've been up to. Obsessing about photography. Snapping pictures of all my friends and their children. Processing images like I'm a professional. Ha! But it's my new obsession hobby, and I've been having fun. And like with any exciting hobby, I've been ignoring all household duties: the laundry is piling up, I failed to send out Christmas cards this year, and we've been eating a lot of fishsticks for dinner. But that's all okay becuase I'm having fun. Right?

[brushing hands briskly together] Okay, then! Off to test shoot at a new location with Kate. If I get any good images, I'll be sure to post them here in lieu of a Christmas card.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Random Love

I love how the boy one crinkles up his nose to open his mouth wider in order to stuff more food into it. It is also extremely adorable how he says, "Knnnnooooooooooowwwwwwww" for "no".

I love how the middle one can sleep in until 9am. Except then I wish she was in afternoon pre-school so I didn't have to wake her at 7am on weekdays.

I love how much energy the oldest one has, and the creativity and sense of imagination she exhibits.

I love 70* Sundays in November, even if it is windy outside.

I love that I finally made something grow here in Las Vegas: my serrano peppers are big enough to add to the next batch of guacamole.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Claire's favorite part of the show was the Coast Guard rescue helicopter.

Mama, this is not an A-10.

We arrived at the airshow and the first thing we came upon was 5 fighters lined up in a row. I gave Kate a test. Daddy will be so proud: Kate correctly identified the A-10 on the first try.

Their second favorite part of the airshow was the strawberry ice we got to eat.

On the way home, all three children fell asleep. It's been a busy week.

Horsin' Around

They thought they were real cowgirls riding on this roping steer. Incidentally, this is the only thing Claire would ride at the ranch yesterday.

First time on a horse. She loved it. I see riding lessons in her future.

Luke also loved riding his first horse.

A few non-related informational points:
  • The rest of my (hopefully) fantastic photos are in my camera. I've been practicing with film. It's exciting, but somehow disheartening to know that I have to wait to see the results.
  • It is officially fall here. Really, it feels like winter, as we went from mid-80s directly to low-60s and blustery winds, but I know I shouldn't complain when other areas of the country are expecting snow next week.
  • The girls are listening to Bocelli at a high volume in Kate's room right now. This has been a common occurrence since Tim pulled out his old CD and introduced it to Kate. They adore it.
  • Luke had is 18-month well-check last week, at 19 months. He is a solid 28lb 4oz, and is 33.25" tall. And he didn't make a single sound throughout his exam, to include staying silent during 2 shots. Tough guy.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Halloween Recap

The children were super excited about Halloween this year. The parents, somehow, were woefully unprepared. Not as in "indoor decorations not up in time", but more like "carving pumpkins while the children rush through dinner so they can go get dressed" unprepared. Partly, it was the demands. No more triangle-eyed, toothy jack-o-lanterns here. One girl wanted a haunted house and the other a bat. During dinner preparations/pumpkin carving time, the boy one demanded to ride his sisters' bike, regardless of the fact that he cannot climb up onto it by himself (thankfully), nor can he peddle. The shrieking that ensued ensured that his demands were met.

It was another warm Halloween, so Barbie and Tinkerbell were comfortable in their frilly costumes. The fighter pilot was just excited that he got to wear patches. Each carried their own candy bag, walked nicely to the front door of each house, rang the doorbell, and said "trick or treat!". Or at least that's the theory. Luke managed to say something in the order of "tika tee" and then looked up with expectant/wary eyes. Each time he appeared astounded that complete strangers were giving him treats, and that this experience was apparently parent-sanctioned. At one point he stopped suddenly on our journey and attempted to eat a candy, wrapper and all. It was adorable.

Barbie cops an attitude while Tinkerbell curtseys.

The girls told the boy not to pick his nose, which inspired him to do just that.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Vampire Game

We walked to the train park after dinner tonight, in spite of the fact that it was already twilight. The girls ran almost all the way there (probably between 1/4-1/2 mile). Then, I watched them play for about 10 minutes before noticing that 1.) it was nearly completely dark, and 2.) there was a lightning storm heading our way. This freaked Claire out and she ran/cried most of the way home. "I don't want to get hit by lightning!"

Then when we hit the tunnel, Kate decided we should play The Vampire Game. [For those keeping score, I am completely unaware that there is a Vampire Game, and how one would play it. Mention of this new activity does have me curious about what sorts of things the kids do at recess, however.] "Mommy, you're the vampire!" I smiled a coy Bella smile and said okay. Then she ran "super fast" and said, "You can't catch me! You can't catch me!" Then I told her that vampires were even faster than she was and suddenly that was the end of that game. Shortly thereafter she asked me if there were vampires in Nevada, and she seemed relieved when I said vampires did not exist. Mwahhhahhhahhh.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Field Trips

Last week, Claire's class went on a field trip to a "pumpkin patch". You should know that in the southwest, the term "pumpkin patch" is loosely defined as a gathering of pumpkin(s) in an outdoor area. Each year I am in search of an actual field where pumpkins grow, but thus far all patches/farms/fields have been highly suspect and greatly disappointing, for me. The children, knowing nothing of what a real pumpkin patch might look like, seem to enjoy the brief time spent at them, as long as we aren't actually there for long.

Reagan and Claire are enticed by the promise of cotton candy. None of the other pumpkin patches we have visited have offered this delightful treat.

Luke and his Daddy, utilizing Luke's favorite method of transportation.


So glad he got to go on the school field trip, even though he was more interested in the trucks on the freeway on the other side of the fence, and refused to pose nicely in front of a pumpkin.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New Games*

*Also known as possibly the most boring post ever. But I felt some need to prove that I am still here, albeit sleepy.

So, things have been a little busy. I'm mentally exhausted (school drama), and physically wiped out as well (first round of colds). Luke is just getting over his first round of croup for the season (thankfully it was a mild case), but is still crabby like I've never seen him. I think I've been fighting off the cold he had, leading me to feel like I could sleep for hours on end during the day, which is unusual for me. Isn't that interesting?

We were up late last night watching the awesome and amazing UW vs OSU (our Civil War) game. Let's just say that I am very proud of my Huskies. We won in double overtime, by 1 point. Then Tim got up at 5am to go TDY.

Today the kids and I spent time with friends, swam, and tried to stay busy. This afternoon Kate and I played a new game entitled 'Snap', which I believe to be a somewhat confusing mesh of 'Snap' and 'Go Fish', but which Kate insists is really called 'Snap'.

Also, guess who ate several bites of chicken tonight, and asked for more? Finally, the boy one is eating other meat besides McDonald's hamburgers and bacon.

And now it's time for me to go to bed. The end.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

She's 5

Her favorite song is You Belong With Me, by Taylor Swift. Every time it comes on the radio, she and Claire yell their favorite (incorrect) lyrics at each other: "She wears short skirts, I wear sneakers, she's cheer captain and I'm on the bleachers!" She reads fairly well, and has a pretty good grasp of math for her age. She has an incredible imagination, and loves to lead her friends and siblings in new games, usually with a good degree of bossiness. She stands with her hands on her hips and a gleam in her eye and says, "Mo-om..." in her best 13-year-old voice. She is the youngest in her class, but is not the tallest, somehow.

Kate is obsessed with art. Any kind of art. She will occupy herself for hours, drawing complex pictures with detailed storylines. I am continually amazed by her artistic talent and her creativity. Give her some scrap paper, a cardboard tube and some crayons and she will come up with something I wouldn't think possible.

A short interview with the birthday girl

What's your favorite color? "Red, white and blue and purple and pink." Me: "That's it?" Her: "Yes."

What is your favorite thing to do? " My favorite toys to play with are Legos and Barbies."

What is your favorite food? "Ummm...favorite food is...macaroni and cheese."

What is your favorite dessert? "Ummm...s'mores." [certainly this has nothing to do with her father's breakfast treat this morning: s'more pancakes.]

What is your favorite part of school? "My favorite part of school is art."

What is your favorite movie? "The Twelve Dancing Princesses."

Who is your best friend? "Annalisa." [I have no idea who this girl is.]

Who are you going to marry? "CJ." [I was informed of this fact yesterday. Have not met said boy.]

What is your favorite book? "Barbie in the Mermaid Tale, and The Island Princess." [Thankfully she can mostly read these by herself.]

What is your favorite thing to do outside? "Draw with chalk and exercise and play."

The Barbie Princess cake, hastily put together by a still-jet-lagged mom. At the time of its construction, purple was on her list of favorite colors. Oh, wait. I just re-read her index of colors above and purple is indeed on there.

Kindergarten is a time of constant learning. For instance, we are working on manners these days, and learning about etiquette. She opened many art- and Barbie-related gifts, and then unwrapped the one from us. "That isn't a very good present." It was a boom box/CD player, which she now loves and listens to all the time. Ah, five-year-old attitude. We love you, Kate! Happy Birthday, Baby Girl.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

In Response to (Not Unreasonable) Questions About My Health and Well-Being

Sydney was awesome. I really need to write more about the trip, but am still battling the time-change and will have to do that later.

We got back on Saturday morning, and I am mostly unpacked. For those who know me well, this is agonizing for me, yet I find I have no time to actually complete the task of removing all my stuff from my bags. And then there is the matter of the soon-to-be-five-year-old's birthday and her party. So, to answer necessary questions:

1. Tim is home.
2. We are not sick.
3. I am not pregnant.

More on Australia to follow. Until then:

Monday, August 30, 2010

Did I Ever Tell You About Our Drive Back From Oregon?

We chose to travel home on the busiest weekend of the summer: the one right before the littles go back to school. No worries, we were only planning to stay at Lake Tahoe on a Saturday night. Tragically, I spent my 3 hours with internet service in Oregon acquiring hotel reservations for Sydney, leaving Tim to attempt camp reservations whilst still in the Middle East. Poor choice, I know.

We thought at least our first night would be an easy one: Tim had secured a spot on a LAKE! As we approached the "lake", we noticed a certain smell in the air. Sort of like that swamp smell? And then we pulled up to our "campsite" and Tim began apologizing to me, as I crinkled my nose and asked, "Are those gnats? Or is it foggy? OMG, what color is that water?" We left the children in the car for safety, and approached the owner of the "campsite" explaining that we were the ones with reservations (we were clearly the only fools there for the night). The kind man gave us a map, which we promptly used to find another nearby campsite.

Playing a game called Dump Dirt on the Bench Where Mommy Will Sit, & Then Eat Some Rocks For Good Measure.

Perhaps the most hilarious picture of Kate, ever. I have no idea why she looks so dejected, but I suspect it has something to do with burned hot dogs or that someone made her wait until after dinner to eat marshmallows. Future blackmail potential of this photo was worth whatever caused it.

Whatever you do, do NOT enlarge this photo. Doing so will likely cause you to want to shower immediately afterwards, and perhaps to eat a roasted marshmallow or 3. Luke ate approximately half a bag while at Lake Tahoe.

Yes, the girls are eating graham crackers and chocolate milk for breakfast. It was day 3 on the road. We had each had approximately 4 hours of sleep per night by then, and I was ready to let them eat s'mores and jujubees for breakfast if they would just be good on the drive.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Somehow I Managed Not to Cry

Okay, I got a little misty-eyed, but no real tears!* And Kate and Claire did great. Monday was their first day of school; Kate started Kindergarten and Claire is back in pre-school. We dropped Kate off first, as there are actual RULES regarding tardiness and such, and then walked over to Claire's room. Kate was so excited; she has been talking about Kindergarten for the whole summer. We have tried to cultivate this interest to the right level (e.g. not overdoing it so that she wouldn't sleep the night before, but not ignoring it so that she would be taken by surprise when the first day of school came and she was no longer permitted to wear her pepto-pink princess dresses).

I took surprisingly few photos, due to the boy one's intense desire to climb out of my arms and eat glue sticks. I enthusiastically begged the children to smile, and managed to snap at least one worthy of the blog.

Claire's pose is remarkably similar to Kate's on this day last year.

She'll be 5 in a month. She is likely both the youngest and the tallest kid in her class.

Claire gave me a brief smile before going back to her toys. She didn't even say good-bye when I left. Sniff.

*Luke, however, was surprisingly vocal in his desire to stay at school. Just to be clear, I was not surprised by this, but Claire's teachers were slightly alarmed.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

More of My Favorites

On a walk with Aunt Buji. We picked blackberries and Luke ate them by the handful.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Life on the Farm

Blowing dandelions all over Great Grandma's yard.

Wheat fields captivate Kate.

She was so excited to climb the apple tree her Daddy climbed when he was a boy.

Walking out to pick blackberries with Great Grandpa.

Completely unrelated to this post, but so endearing:

Kate eyed me in the mirror tonight after everyone was [finally] ready for bed and sternly told me, "Mom, God wants us to let go of our anger." Yes, baby girl, but He also wants children to obey their parents.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Letting the Pictures Tell the Stories

First time camping; Lake Taco was a huge hit. It turns out the children are surprisingly adept at surviving on little to no sleep.

Kate helps Aunt Sheila milk a goat at 6:30am. **Stunned silence.**

She is loving this vacation.

McLaren and Luke in awe of Snow White's house at the Enchanted Forest. Both could have stayed there all morning.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Signs That I am Losing My Mind

1. In a moment of weakness several weeks ago, I succumbed to Kate's fierce and persistent declarations that she wanted needed purple fairy curtains with a pink butterfly segment at the bottom. They are the ugliest curtains I have ever made. Note that they are not pictured here. Not only are they unsightly, but I have only completed one panel. And the curtain rod is still on Kate's floor. I am the queen of unfinished projects.

I also somehow ended up with fabric to make dresses for both girls.

2. Despite currently owning only a 2 person tent, I booked us (Tim, me, Kate, Claire, and Luke. At last check, this is 5 people) a campground at Lake Tahoe for Sunday night. We have never camped with children. Tim and I have not camped for approximately 10 years. The adults own proper camping gear, but the girls' sleeping bags have fairy and princess decorations and light up when the bags move. I am certain that they will be useless and ineffective in the much-cooler-than-we-are-used-to mountain air of the Sierra Nevadas. The boy one has no sleeping bag, and would be unlikely to nest in one if he did. I also fear that the boy one will be unlikely to sleep at all given the lack of containment device he knows as his crib.

3. We leave in 1.5 days. I have not packed more than shirts and shorts for myself, and have only managed to gather Kate's pajamas for the kids. We will be gone for 3 weeks, in weather that I presume will be vastly different than our current 110* highs/90* lows. We are all bound to be stunned by the cold that 55* mornings will bring.

4. I am blogging instead of packing.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Pinky Stinger...

Big sister Claire is having fun teaching her little brother. She informed me a few minutes ago that "Luke likes to touch tongues." What? She then proceeded to demonstrate in the pictures above.

Oh, the pinky stinger... The girls were treated to new Barbie doll clothes this morning. They had to wait until after nap to open them. As the dad I got to cut loose the 200 little plastic connectors holding the three outfits to the cardboard container. Once released, the girls took to dressing their barbies in the new outfits. Any woman or parent probably remembers the most painful part of dressing a barbie is getting the hands through the sleeves. Designing a kids doll with a thumb and pinkie finger to snag in loose threads has caused millions of lost man hours over the decades of Barbies existence.

3-year old Claire was struggling getting Barbies hand through the new outfit.

4-year old Kate says to Claire: "Her pinky finger is stuck!"

3-year old Claire brings Barbie to Dad exclaiming "Her pinky stinger is f***ed!"


"Her pinky finger is stuck!"

Love ya Claire.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Celebrating Freedom

My sister, Jessica, and her family joined us for the 4th of July weekend. It has been more than a year since she was here, and we were glad they were the ones making the long and mentally agonizing drive to be spending time all together, cultivating such relationships that only blood relatives can enjoy.

The weekend was fraught with shenanigans.

Despite Tim's continual, and insistent, marshmallow-roasting instructions, a semi-intoxicated Jessica managed to light her marshmallow on fire at least 8 times. My stove. It might never recover.

One evening, after watching the Star Trek movie (surprisingly good! Yes, I am aware that I am freakishly enamored with sci-fi!) Jess and I spent an excessive amount of time "evening out" the all-American chocolate cake we had purchased at Costco for the weekend. In our defense, it looked much more uniform when we were done.

The children (read: Kate and McLaren) agreed to watch a movie other than Chicken Run (see previous post), which turned out to be Enchanted. During the ballroom dancing scene, Kate and Tempie re-enacted the frolicking as seen through their eyes.

We were all relieved to see that the girls were getting along, especially after it was determined that Lucy was keen to establish her superiority over Luke. The first time it happened, we thought it was clumsiness. Lucy and Luke were casually walking along the edge of the pool, and all parents were focused on the children in the water. Suddenly Luke splashed in, unexpectedly, by the look on his face and the wailing that ensued. Mike and I joked that Lucy pushed him in. Not hours later, however, Jessica caught her red-handed. Lucy was indeed pushing Luke down, attempting (hopefully minor) bodily injury. All weekend, every adult kept the blue-eyed beauty under close observation for more blatant physical violations against her younger cousin.

After movie night, it was time for fireworks. There were a few tears (Tempie), some shrieking (Lucy, who LOVED the whole production), and lots of hands over ears (Kate and Claire). As for Luke, he was mostly wide-eyed throughout the whole event, unclear what it was we were trying to accomplish.

I am so ready for this. Bring it.

Luke's first exposure to fireworks. He is clearly stunned by our lack of grandeur, and yet also concerned by his father's apparent role in purposely lighting things on fire.

The whole family, minus Tim, the pyrotechnician, as they sit in awe of the minuscule sparks and illuminations cast by our paltry firework show. The children still managed to spend most of the time covering their ears and appearing alarmed.