Sunday, November 6, 2011

Halloween Recital

The annual Halloween recital was a great success. The kids were super excited to wear their costumes for the first time, and it was great fun to welcome their cousin Coby, who just joined the same piano studio as Carden and Seth. The music was spooky, and the kids love dressing up. I was really tickled with Seth, who wanted to be a pharaoh from the beginning. I had to convince him that the eyeliner was really needed to complete the look, but he was pleased with it. Afterwards Granny took us out for ice cream to celebrate their accomplishments. Now on to the Christmas music!

Friday, September 2, 2011

We need more days like this...

Today the girls and I met Granny to feed the ducks. She squirrels away the cafeteria rolls in her little freezer at the retirement center and when she's gotten enough we go search out our feathered friends at the newly relandscaped Botany Pond at BYU. Claire and Charlotte absolutely loved it, and it was a perfect day.

My aunt Karen was passing through on a road trip from Southern California to take her daughter Kristina back up to BYU-Idaho for school, so they joined us for lunch, where I realized that Charlotte's love to be center stage gets really old when you're trying to talk to other adults. They were very patient with her and it made us laugh to hear Charlotte keep saying, "You look like my grandma Halverson!" She was so amused by the idea that her grandma could have a sister.

Tonight I took the boys and a couple of their friends to see Cars 2. They were beside themselves with excitement over going to the movies with friends. I know--we obviously need to get out more! I was equally excited that they got to be with friends without the major effort to get their rooms and the playroom cleaned up! The traffic was awful, though, and for 30 minutes I got to hear every playground joke that 7-year-old and 9-year-old boys think is funny--which of course, aren't really funny at all. This being Utah, the jokes are at least clean, for which I'm thankful. Some academic should do a folkloric study on why playground humor doesn't ever change. How can there be no new material since the1980s!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Back to Sanity!

Back to school is always bittersweet, but this summer we had so much fun it made it a little easier to face the music of another school year. Our last-minute California trip helped us endthe summer on a very high note. It's amazing how much the activities of June are already a distant memory.

Seth starts first grade, and despite a little trepidation about going for the full day and eating lunch in the cafeteria, the prospect of two recesses won him over. He has the same wonderful teacher Carden had in first grade and he knew a handful of kids in his class. He wouldn't go for any of the new clothes I got him, wearing his school t-shirt with his new slip-on shoes that he absolutely loves. For our California trip we bought him a suitcase set that came with the red carry-on bag you see him carrying. He didn't want a backpack this year, and is quite pleased with his "messenger bag." Let's hear it for having your own style--I guess.

Carden has two fabulous teachers splitting the day this year, so he's excited to get a new face halfway through the day. I can't believe he'll be in fourth grade. That seems so big, and I remember him starting kindergarten so clearly. I think I'm starting to sound nostalgic and old! His classroom is in the new school addition, which is full of big windows and lots of space and light. Next year he'll have to go back into the old portion, and I'll be sad.

As for me and the girls, we are getting used to a quieter house during the day. It's really fun to be able to focus on them and a world of dollies and princesses rather than trains and superheroes. I remember all the fun things I did when I just had two little boys at home and I need to get back into that young kid mode and make the same memories with the girls.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What have we been doing?

Visiting the Church Art Museum and their very cool new kids exhibit on the church in Latin America. Fun mission memories for me. Charlotte was in heaven with the Mexican dancing dresses you got to wear, and the boys had a great time with the Zarahemla life-size building blocks.

Having Claire push Charlotte and Seth in the doll stroller. Good practice for those handcart treks. She doesn't like to be the rider, just the pusher. (Probably scarred for life because Seth has dumped her out a few times rocketing around the house at break-neck speed.)

Adjusting to Carden's new glasses. His doctor checkup this year revealed an alarming discrepancy between his right and left eyes. An optometry exam explained that he has amblyopia, sometimes called "lazy eye." Glasses correct the vision deficiency in the bad eye, but he has to wear a pirate patch for 1-2 hours a day and do close-up work to force his brain to accept visual input from the bad eye. The hard part is because his brain ignores his bad eye, he sees no improvement with glasses, so he's taking it on faith that they really do make things better. His outlook has improved since I told him that playing games on the computer and iPhone count as "close-up work."

Seeking comfort wherever we can find it. For Claire that means left thumb in mouth, right hand rubbing her belly button. The thumb-sucking has been her therapy since she first was able to get it into her mouth. The belly-rubbing is new in the last couple of months. She hates when I dress her in onesies. Another drawback: when your two arms are glued to your body, your options for steadying yourself as you walk are limited. Face-plants create need for belly-rubbing, belly-rubbing creates opportunities for face-plants. We're kinda stuck in a vicious circle here.

Looking for the balance between enjoying the kids and still getting the work done. We'll let you know when we figure that one out.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Piano projects

Carden and Seth finished their year of piano lessons in grand style. Carden earned a gold cup for receiving 3 years of Superior ratings in the Music Federation's festival. Both boys performed well at the final, and both won the award for having the most weeks of "perfect practice."Personally, I think that award should go to me.

Their teacher requires a "Creative Musicianship" project every year--they have to do something creative or artistic incorporating music. This year the projects turned into much more than I expected, but we had a great time doing them.

Carden and I had attended a performance of the American Piano Duo, two pianists who play these elaborate duets of famous music that has been arranged for two pianos. He wrote down his impressions of each piece and made a poster showing the flags of all the countries the music originated from or was written for, and his notes from the performance.

I was proud of his work on the poster--cutting out those construction paper flags was much more meticulous work than he usually goes for. But I was most proud of how much he had enjoyed an adult concert experience. He stayed focused on the music, behaved well, and had a great time. It gives me hope that my life is not always destined to be picking up Legos and Barbie doll dresses and changing diapers.

Seth had a harder time deciding on a project, but I remembered how much he liked The Firebird Suite by Igor Stravinsky. We first discovered it from the Disney "Fantasia 2000" movie and a Little Einsteins DVD. Then we heard a piano version by the Five Browns. So Seth and I learned the history of the piece (a Russian fairytale turned into a ballet) and watched a clip of Stravinsky himself conducting the finale a few years before he died. Seth even watched the entire ballet performed by a Russian ballet company. (YouTube sure makes research easy!) It took 2 days to get through the whole thing, watching in 5-10 minute spurts, but he really got into it. For his project, he wrote about all the different versions he'd seen and listened to. Now he wants a French horn for his birthday.

As usually happens when mom is the official "ghostwriter," I learned as much as they did. Once we got to the recital, I realized that they had put in much more time and effort than other students, but at the same time, I think we had more fun and really thought about the music they chose. Just listening to classical music in the background is great, and we do a fair amount of that at home or in the car, but really delving into the pieces, listening to them over and over or examining the different arrangements made them come alive for us.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring Break

One of the reasons I blog is to remind myself that some days I really have it good. Digging through the archive reminded me that last year we spent the entire week of spring break suffering from snowstorms and stomach flu.

The forecast warned that this would likely be the only good weather day, so we took advantage. Lunch with Granny at BYU Creamery. Watched college students sweat out their last week of classes with extra large servings of french fries and ice cream (cramming Mormon-style). A trip to the park, the Museum of Peoples and Cultures, and back to BYU for the opening of the South Campus stream. The grounds department has built a half-mile stream along the hillside and marked the opening with a Rubbery Ducky Derby and ice cream.

The rest of the week was not quite as exciting. Lots of playing in the backyard, lots of attempts to dejunk the playroom, centered around my bribe, I mean incentive, that if they got rid of old toys, I'd take them to the store and let them buy a new one. This will leave me at a zero-sum game, which in our world translates into "the playroom will still be a mess, I'll just be stepping on new toys."

All in all, spring break did what it was supposed to do--gave the kids a break from school, and sent me signing them up for any and all summer camps.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Lesson learned

Good days don't start with a phone call from the credit card fraud team, alerting you of suspicious activity on your card. I looked up my account online and saw nothing unusual--$45 for gas, $150 for groceries, but then before my eyes, something new popped up. $250 in assorted iTunes charges.

I looked up our iTunes account. And then I realized I'd been victimized by my own flesh and blood. Carden had been watching over my shoulder the week before as I downloaded some new math apps onto our iPod, and figured out my password. And in between fraction sessions, he goofed around with a Lil' Pirates game that I have since learned is what's considered a "freemium" game--free to download, but in order to progress, you have to buy items with real money. Lots of parents have been scammed by this, and the games now have a warning on them, but it was too little, too late.

I sent several e-mails to the credit card company, Apple, and the game manufacturer, Apple was good about it, and refunded our money, with the warning that their grace was one-time only.

Our next steps:
1. Deleted all the games. I admit this was a bit drastic, but then I figured they have plenty of computer and video games. A life without Angry Birds would not be the worst thing. If they're playing with the iPod at least now I know it's something educational. Plus we've had more than a few flashcard sessions get sidetracked with a game.

2. Changed the password.

3. Reset the iPod to not allow any in-app purchases. If you've got one of these devices, I really suggest you look into disabling the in-app purchase feature. It wasn't hard.

4. Had several lengthy discussions with the kids.

Now that things have calmed down, I've realized this is just my introduction to the stage of life where my children's mistakes begin to get considerably more expensive. I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Funny things she says

Trying unsuccessfully to go potty on the toilet: "It's not working! Maybe I need new batteries."

Angus had done something wrong (or maybe just annoying): "Angus! Curse you, you pooch!"

Dad comments on the beautiful puffy clouds: "Charlotte, are the clouds made of marshmallows?" "No. Bacon."

"Charlotte, what do you want for dinner?" "Bacon."

Charlotte has caught on to my habit of responding to her "look, look!" demands with an unfocused "mm-hmm." She now insists, "No! Look with your face!"

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Our own March madness

(Isn't every month just a little bit mad? Around here, at least, it seems to be.)

Seth wrapped up his 2-month Lego Club experience, joining a noncompetitive group in the FIRST Lego League. The boys had a great time with their dads, designing a hospital, ambulance, movable operating table, and other creations to go with the biomedical theme. Thanks to our very cool neighbors for sponsoring this group of crazy six-year-olds and training them to work as a team.

(You can see our Lego cupcakes we made for the celebration.)

Here's another project of Seth's. He worked on it for about a week, adding courses to his giant pyramid/arrowhead/ice cream cone until he ran out of bricks.

Charlotte earned her ticket to preschool and three-year-old independence. She loves it, bouncing out of bed on Tuesdays and Thursdays with a shout, "it's preschool day!" We've been encouraged to start an intensive name-learning project. Poor kid, this might really be the time to embrace the nickname concept. Actually, there's another Charlotte in the class, so they asked if she had a nickname, and got a fist-clenched response, "My name is Char-lotte!" Guess not.

Claire wanders the house looking for snacks. We had a week of good weather and she was outside every chance she had. This week's rain, snow, and slush has not left her in good spirits.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

This week has been brought to you by the following Google searches

"how to remove marker from clothes"

"Dominos Pizza coupons"

"frosting recipe"

"school lunch ideas"

"how to remove crayon from clothes"

"how to remove crayon from dryer"

"things to do in Utah + kids"

"bug + preschool snack"

"how to file tax extension"

"iPod fraction apps"

Friday, April 1, 2011

Shopping spree

One of the perks (or quirks) of living in this corner of Zion is the grocery store case lot sale. Twice a year (April and October, by coincidence), the stores encourage you to stock up on wheat, canned tomatoes, and brownie mix by selling them by the case. Saves you from having to carry cans into the house one at a time; saves the employees from having to open and dispose of a lot of cardboard boxes.

Friday morning, Tyler and I planned to go do our part, but the day got away from us, and it was 7:00pm with all four kids in tow when we finally marched into the store. We even let Carden commandeer his own cart, instantly loading it with 45 pounds of wheat to prevent him from pushing it too fast. Actually, the result was that it prevented him from stopping fast enough, and he took out a couple of mid-aisle displays before getting the hang of it.

Into our three carts we load 50 pounds of beans, 100 pounds of wheat, 3 sacks of flour, and 2 cases of diced tomatoes. We pass the graham cracker display. I signal to Tyler from across the bulk-candy bins where I am looking for candy legos to decorate cupcakes for Seth's Lego Club party. "How many do you want?" he mouths. The crackers are on sale, 2 boxes for $7. I hold up 2 fingers.

We finish our shopping adventure: Each child gets to pick his or her own cereal, interrupted by Charlotte, never one to pass up the chance to use a public bathroom.

We fold down the back seats of the van and start loading our stash. It is at this point I notice the 12 bright-yellow boxes of graham crackers. Not 2 boxes, 12. Filled with case-lot euphoria, Tyler thought I meant 2 cases.

So when the world ends in fire, I'll be looking for someone with marshmallows and someone with chocolate bars, and we can all make s'mores over the ashes of civilization.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

How we do General Conference

We've tried several approaches to General Conference with our kids, some more successful than others, but last year worked really well. So if you're looking for something new, maybe this could work at your house, too.

We stream conference on the computer (we're freaks without TV service) and play radio/iPod streams throughout the house. The kids are free to play inside or out during all four sessions, but when one of the Apostles or First Presidency speaks, they have to come in and listen. The boys take notes/draw pictures using this very basic packet from the church website. We've not yet begun to worry about the girls' souls.

The advantages:

The kids learn that all four sessions of conference are equally important. We don't want them to think the Saturday or Sunday afternoon sessions are optional.

They only have to focus for 10-20 minutes at a time, then they get a break. At their ages, we feel that's a reasonable expectation. With 15 speakers at an average of 10 minutes each, they're getting plenty of exposure, yet it doesn't feel like a never-ending meeting.

Mom and Dad get to enjoy some portions of conference without kids pestering us or feeling guilty like we should be making them listen as well.

Works for us! I'd love to hear suggestions from others, too.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My new hobby

Back in September, flush with back-to-school motivation, I asked Carden's teachers about their lack of a parent volunteer sheet. Didn't they need my help? At third grade, are the students too old to have mommy sit in the back and staple papers while she surreptitiously counts the number of times her child fidgets in his seat?

"Well, what can you do?" they asked.

"Umm, I know a bit about writing," I replied.

Better put, I know someone who knows a lot about how to teach writing to elementary students. My poor mother didn't know she'd gained a long-distance, one-period-a-week student teacher this year: me.

Mom's district has designed an integrated writing program. Starting in kindergarten and building every year, the students learn how to write. Not "capital letter at the beginning and period at the end" writing. I'm talking "genre-specific, fabulous sentence structure, vivid detail, and strong verb" writing. Mom serves on the district writing committee to train teachers. This year they even won an award from the California Department of Education.

Long having since stolen her materials for first grade, I offered to come in to Carden's class and teach descriptive writing. I started in October and have come every week since. We've covered multipart sentences, sensory adjectives, showing instead of telling, similes, alliteration, and onomatopoeia.

Now we're working on a narrative unit, letting the kids put those descriptive techniques to use in their own stories. They've written stories about being stuck on a deserted island, how to remove a stubborn loose tooth, and what to do with a dog that follows you home. The kids really are making progress, a pleasant revelation since I'm only there once a week.

I've learned a few things, myself:

Teaching is dang hard work. It takes me 2 hours at least to prepare my 45-minute lesson. Coming up with assignments for the kids who finish first, while not rushing the slow ones, is tough! And how do you involve the ones who don't like to raise their hand or be called on?

It's so fun to see them "get it." To have a student interrupt me with "Mrs. Crockett, you just used alliteration!" makes my whole day.

Good writing is good writing. Period. The concepts I'm teaching these third graders aren't much different than the concepts I taught college students years ago as a writing tutor.

Most schools don't teach writing, and that's a loss. Carden's teacher has exclaimed many times that my lessons and progressions make perfect sense when you see it done, but you'd never come up with it yourself. Mom's district unexpectedly found that spelling and reading comprehension scores improved as the classes focused more on writing.

Writing teaches you to organize your thoughts. One of my writing teachers used to say "How can I know what I think until I see what I said?"

Where will it go from here? Who knows, but I (and hopefully the students) are having a lot of fun in the meantime.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Because I'm me...

And I'm mean.

And I truly lay awake at night thinking of more ways to make my children's lives unpleasant.

And, as my father used to say, "I didn't have kids so I could wash my own car..."

And I was tired of making idle threats. It was time for real threats!

And so

I introduced
the penalty job.

Now when the kids act up, it's just like being a hockey ref. Into the penalty box. The jobs are written on index cards and hang on the fridge. They take a card, spend 5 minutes in baseboard-cleaning penance, then move the card to the back of the stack. Instant lesson learned, and my walls get washed. Most of the jobs are ones I rarely get to (washing door frames and light switches, scrubbing cabinet fronts, cleaning the kitchen chairs). I even make them show me the used wipes as proof they actually got some dirt off.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

That's my girl

Wrong camera setting, so they're blurry and grainy, but you get the idea.

Claire's comfort objects are her shoes ("oos") and her jacket. She has to wear her shoes all the time, and likes to carry her jackets or coats around. Always ready for an adventure.

She fights with Charlotte now for possession of anything sparkly. Her other favorite word is "mine!"

Beach Week

I think Tyler has won me over to his favorite place--Pacific Grove, California. Not that it's a hard sell. We were lucky to spend a week there before Marianne's (Tyler's sister's) wedding on February 19. All the Crockett cousins came early and the kids had so much fun renewing friendships--at least the older ones. Poor Claire had about three cousins stalking her at any given time, which unfortunately coincided with a clingy phase and teething.

We've made so many wonderful beach memories over the years, centered on traditional activities and traditional foods, so I'll focus on the unique experiences from this year:

Walking through the Butterfly Sanctuary with all the cousins except two. It was the end of the monarchs' migration stay, and mating season to boot. The kids loved seeing so many butterflies "chasing each other." I let Carden and Seth take the camera and it makes me laugh to see what they take pictures of. . .


Long strips of eucalyptus bark (ok, it was pretty cool)

Favorite cousins (and a few of the 30 shots were even in focus!)

* * * * *

I made an effort this trip to find some time alone with Carden, Seth, and Charlotte. Carden and I spent an hour down on the beach by ourselves, studying tide pools, wave patterns, and talking about his life. It was so great, and I was touched that our hour beat out Uncle Aaron's s'mores bonfire and trip to the caramel apple shop as his favorite memory of the week.

Seth wanted to go pick out a treat and eat it on the beach. We walked along Cannery Row and he chose caramel apples, completely swept up in the merits of cinnamon-sugar crust or Oreo. He picked one flavor for himself and one for me and we headed to the park overlooking the ocean to eat our treasures.

Charlotte's special time was being dragged along on a couple of errands and then waiting patiently while I tried to find the San Carlos Cathedral in Monterey. I love historical sites, but they don't end up on our beach itinerary very often. The small church dates from 1794 and was the royal chapel of the Presidio. The doors were locked when Charlotte and I arrived, but the caretaker was leaving and allowed us to go inside and then let ourselves out. We had the place to ourselves, and it was really amazing, although Charlotte couldn't quite get past "it's dark and cold in here!" Chocolate and strawberry crepes redeemed the excursion in her eyes, so hopefully I may yet have someone to accompany me through the past.

* * * * *

Even though we hit the beach every trip, the ever-changing ocean creates new experiences each time. Despite a February breeze and cold water, the kids love to wade in and out of the surf. One evening we headed down for a sunset walk. The tide was low, causing the waves to break far out and then sweep up the beach for 30 yards or so, just a few shallow inches of salt water. You can see in the photo how far Charlotte is from the water's edge, yet her reflection shows that the sand was still very wet.

She danced back and forth along the edge of the water, playing tag with the surf, and ignoring my reminders that she was dressed in clothes and shoes, not a swimsuit. I missed the moment that a wave swept up faster than she expected and she got disoriented and lost her balance.

Now, emergencies show our true character, and I regret to say that when I saw Charlotte, drenched, laying on her stomach in 3-4 inches of water, yet still 30 feet away from me, my first thoughts were "Dang, I'm going to have to wade in to her and get my feet sopping wet. I wonder if those people laughing behind me would notice if I just shout encouragement to her from a safe (dry) distance while I wait 10 seconds until the wave retreats enough for me to pick her up and not get my feet wet. "

Lucky for me, Seth's true character was also revealed, and he nobly dashed into the spray to retrieve his fallen sister. His display of chivalry earned him the "You Are Special" red plate at dinner when we returned home, and Charlotte's enthusiastic accolade: "The ocean knocked me down but Seffie SAVED me!" Lucky she missed the fact that her parents were noticeably absent during her moment of need.

I groused all the way home that our beautiful sunset walk on the beach was cut short in favor of a hot bath. True character.

Monday, February 28, 2011

What's your metaphor?

Last night (technically early this morning, since I was growing roots in the Walmart checkout line when the calendar ticked over from Saturday to Sunday) I said to Tyler:

"Lately I feel like a gerbil stuck in those exercise wheels. I'm running so fast every day but I'm not making any progress. Do you feel like that?"

His response: "Actually I feel like that scene from Star Wars when they're in the trash compactor."

Now I feel irritated that I can't even come up with a life metaphor that isn't trite and cliche.

Beware. I'm scouring my meager repertoire of pop culture, searching for a metaphor that will blow his compacted trash out of the park.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Blue & Gold Banquet

Experts recommend planning something exciting in January or February. Who could be mired in post-Christmas letdown when you can look forward to events like the Cub Scout Blue & Gold Banquet. More specifically you can look forward to spending 3 weeks doing art projects with 8- and 9-year-old boys, decorating the church gym all Saturday, helping your son decorate a cake for the contest, and roasting 10 pounds of potatoes for the evening's medieval-style (eat with your hands) roast chicken feast.

Do the post-holiday blues sound better yet?

Actually, we did have a fantastic trip to Northern California for Marianne's wedding, which was the true solution to the January blahs, but I haven't sifted through those pictures yet.

After explaining to Carden that we would not be using any of the great ideas he saw on old episodes of "Cake Boss," he chose a dragon cake more suited to our abilities. By breaking up the project into two days and three sessions, we survived working with each other. Sadly, I really don't enjoy cooking with my kids. I wish I did, but it's hard to get past the huge messes and Claire screaming to be part of the action.

I wish I'd taken pictures of the gym, since we really outdid ourselves. The scouts all painted about 50 banners and we hung them on fishing line strung across the gym. With tissue-paper torches lining the walls and an enormous castle backdrop made from the boxes that king-size bedroom sets come in, the room was pretty striking. My kids really got into the silverware-free dining experience (sadly they think most of our normal dinners are silverware-optional). Charlotte attacked the chicken carcass and balance-beam jousting activity with equal ferocity. Truly a night celebrating those lofty Scouting values.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How to get what you want

I've discovered how to get what you want. Complain about what you want but don't have in your Christmas newsletter.

Four weeks ago I moaned that Charlotte wasn't potty-trained, and that Claire wasn't walking or talking and she had no teeth.

January arrived, and voila! Public humiliation has once again triumphed.

Charlotte is making definite progress, albeit marked with her own flair. She really likes the whole bathroom ritual--wiping, flushing, washing, drying. But she's added her own special ending. You must spit into the toilet before flushing it. We try not to ask...

Between that and the two pairs of princess undies that somehow got flushed down the toilet, along with a large quantity of non-flushable baby wipes, I'm wondering if I truly want this.

Claire is saying a few words. Nowhere near what she should for her age, but we're dusting off our well-worn speech therapy tricks and putting up with having our eyes gouged out so she can say "eye" over and over.

And she's wobbly, but she's up on two feet! At 15 months, our latest one yet, but she's headed in the right direction. Actually, I am more excited that she's figured out to go down the stairs feet-first. Maybe we can get rid of the gates soon, since no one ever remembers to shut them anyway.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Christmas morning

I tried something new this year and happily it worked! Last year Christmas morning was a blur, and my pictures proved it. Plus the boys got worked into a bit of a gift-opening frenzy, hardly stopping to look at a toy before searching for the next one. With this in mind, and knowing that Santa might bring a few large gifts that wouldn't have fit in the living room, we asked Santa to put his gifts and the stockings in the family room.

On Christmas morning (at 8:00 when the girls woke up, NOT at 5:30 when the boys woke up), we started in the family room with the Santa presents, and spent about an hour
playing, eating candy canes and chocolate, and examining every single item in precious detail. The boys shot their arrows and crossbows, Claire and Charlotte played in the princess tent.

And if you're wondering what the boys did from 5:30 to 8:00, it's right there in the photo. The handheld games from Grandma Vicki they opened the night before kept us all sleeping peacefully until the sun actually rose.

Then we headed to the living room and had a mini-frenzy under the tree. Crazy fun.

After breakfast I took a nap and the kids watched one of their movies. I now understand why my mom always made sure we got a new movie for Christmas. It was her only guarantee of a 90-minute nap after being up most of the night.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Christmas? Oh yeah, we did that

I know you all think I'm horribly behind. Actually this has been a psychological experiment. If I wait long enough, will my memories of Christmas fade to slightly fuzzy but happy mental pictures? Will I have forgotten, or at least toned down, remembrances of the endless shopping (my life's least favorite activity), cooking, wrapping, and crowd-fighting? Like childbirth, will I only remember enough to be ready--even eager--to do it again?

We'll see.

So here's the fun we had.

We decorated gingerbread cookies. Charlotte won the Cookie Monster award this year. Long after everyone else had left the table she remained, squeezing every last drop of frosting onto her masterpiece. She ended up with a cookie buried under a two-inch thick layer of multicolored sugar and frosting.

Saw the lights at Temple Square which most of us thoroughly enjoyed (Charlotte being the obvious exception, here). It surprised me by being one of my highlights. It felt like a bit of a chore, packing everyone up to be outside for an evening, but we were there on a warmish day right when the lights came on and it wasn't crowded. We heard a couple of high school choirs perform (perfect training for the kids to sit through a nice, short performance), and it was so beautiful and peaceful, while the days before and after had definitely not been.

Went to Charlotte's dance performance and the boys' piano recitals. Wised up and took the boys out for their favorite chili-cheese hot dogs AFTER the recital and not before. (Caroline, that "authentic Viking blood" on Carden's shirt at the Halloween recital was actually authentic Viking ketchup.)

The cousin gift exchange. Who knew that $1 could go so far. It'll be sad (or at least expensive) when they outgrow the wonder of the dollar store. It was far more successful than the nativity play, which the older kids were burned out on and left the younger kids squabbling over which role had the best costume accessories.

Took the kids to the children's hospital fundraiser, Festival of Trees, our second year coming. Afterwards we dropped off our Sub-for-Santa contributions and went out to lunch (me and the boys at Little Caesars, Tyler and the girls at the slightly seedy Chinese restaurant next door). Here's Seth at the "dial-an-elf" phone booth. Charlotte was transfixed by all the dance groups performing. The kids love all the fun craft projects and it's touching to see all the beautiful trees created by families as tributes to loved ones gone.