Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the yearrrrrrrr.......


Merry Christmas to all!

Man, oh man, Christmas is nearly here. I am not ready! But my family seems to be. When Henry wakes us up at the crack of dawn each morning, the first thing he does is run into the living room and plug in the Christmas tree lights. If I had known how much my children enjoy playing with tree ornaments, I might have kept the tree up all year! My Sister Susanna sent us an awesome advent calendar made with 24 little bags that hang on the wall, strung together with a strand of garland. Owen and Henry love getting their little Christmas gift each day. Henry isn't talking much, so we don't know exactly what he wants for Christmas, but he's getting a toy cash register. And Owen told Santa that he would like a toy car and a dinosaur slide. We have no idea what dinosaur slide is. When I asked him he told me, "It's a slide that people can go up and down and up and down and sometimes they go straight and then down"--and he moves his hand around like it's a roller coaster. I asked him if it's a toy he's seen in a store, and he said no, that he made it up and Santa's elves can make it for him. We'll see about that! Santa may bring him some legos instead.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

November in a Nutshell

December is here already and it seems like November was the speediest month ever. Here's a post that pretty much sums up what we've been doing lately.


Owen turns four



I can't believe he's already four. When did this child get so big? Owen wanted to celebrate his birthday with all things Batman, and between the shirt, the toys, and the cake, he is totally hooked! Tim's parents came to celebrate the weekend before Owen's birthday and we took him on a big birthday scavenger hunt. I highly recommend birthday scavenger hunts--they are so fun, easy to put together and have become a birthday tradition in our family. I like to make some of the locations places in town that give away free stuff on your birthday--like a milkshake at Del Taco and free miniature golf at Adventure Park.




My favorite thing about Owen's birthday was that after months of practicing and no success, he finally started saying the "l" sound. It actually happened ON his birthday. Now when we're driving and we see houses with Christmas lights, he says "llllook! lllllook!" instead of "wook! wook!" It's totally cute, because he emphasizes the sound to make sure he gets it right. Don't you just love pictures of kids blowing out candles and capturing them mid-blow? This picture makes me laugh every time I look at it.


Henry gets his first haircut, ditches the pacifier





I decided to buy some hairclippers and with just one haircut each for Tim, Owen and Henry, I have already saved money. And it's so fun to cut hair! Talk about all powerful. I'm DYING to take classes at a beauty college (do they even call them that anymore? Cosmetology school? Whatever.) Youtube instructional videos will have to do for now, though.






Henry did really well during his haircut, besides getting a little grumpy about his lollipop getting coated in hair a few times. I had about two minutes to cut Henry's hair before he was ready to be done, so it looks a bit choppy on top, especially in the sun. I will get better at it, I'm sure. And, finally Tim and I had the willpower to get rid of Henry's pacifiers last week for once and for all. You know when your child takes his pacifier out to say something to you and then pops it back in that he is WAY too old to have it! For the most part, he hasn't been too upset about it.



Tim runs his first 5K




We headed downtown on Thanksgiving morning, where Tim ran his race and did pretty well. His time was 34:14. I think that's so good for training less than two months! We joined a gym at the end of September and made it a goal to run a 5K on Thanksgiving. One of us had to stay with the kids, so I will be running my race in January. Tim's favorite thing about running a 5K was getting the T shirt! We loved cheering him on and seeing him cross the finish line before the missionaries who were also running the race! Losers!

Emily finishes her Three Year Quilt






I saw a quilt like this at the Fresno fair back when Owen was a baby and fell in love with it. I took a picture and enlisted my mom to help me make it. It's taken us three years to finally finish because we have so little time together and I didn't do any of the work by myself. I wanted a big lap quilt that the whole family could cuddle up under at Christmastime. We already had the top all pieced, so when we were down at my parents' for Thanksgiving weekend my mom and I decided that we were going to finish that quilt if it killed us! Tim was so good to keep the kids occupied and I was in heaven with two full days of "Mom time" sewing and tieing (with a little Black Friday shopping thrown in there for even more fun). I love what we accomplished, even if it took three years to actually get it done!
 Oh, and here's one more thing I've been working on: Christmas ornaments! Aren't these cute? I have so many more projects going that need to be finished by Christmas. What a busy time of year!




Sunday, November 1, 2009

tradition

I'm a sucker for tradition, especially on holidays. It just doesn't feel right to me if we don't do some specific things for Halloween. Here are some of our Halloween traditions.

Pumpkin carving
Halloween is in the air the moment I lift the lid off a pumpkin and start cleaning out the inside. I really love that smell. Owen picked out a design and pushed out the cut pieces after I carved his pumpkin. Tim and I also carved our own pumpkins. This week we've been checking on them on our porch, watching them decay. Henry is our little pumpkin spotter. Whenever we are in a store or pass by a house with pumpkins, he points and grunts, "uh! uh!"


It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
I know that I shouldn't necessarily be proud of my child watching TV, but it just makes me smile inside when I think about how much Owen enjoys Peanuts holiday shows. Henry still prefers pushing around his popcorn popper toy over Charlie Brown, but we'll get him next year. I guarantee it.






Pumpkin Patch
Henry and I went along with Owen on a field trip to the pumpkin patch with his preschool class. Can anything be cuter than little kids trying to pick up pumpkins that are as big as they are?





Costumes
We all dressed up this year, and being such a slow sewer, I worked until the very last minute finishing up everyones' costumes. Owen and Henry went as cavemen. Henry's language development fit his costume perfectly (he grunts more than speaks actual words these days)! They both really liked their costumes, especially the clubs they got to bang around all over the place. Tim and I dressed as Disneyland cast members. Can you guess what ride we might work on? We painted our faces to look like a dead butler and maid for our church Halloween party, and a member of the bishopric asked me to get him some chili as if I was his servant.

Food
On Halloween night we had some friends over for corn dogs, homemade donuts, and apple cider after the kids went trick-or-treating. Despite a few trip-ups such as Henry falling on his face and hurting his lip, Tim ripping a hole in my blouse with a pin from his unfinished vest, and bits of fake fur EVERYWHERE, when it comes down it it, this just might have been the best Halloween ever!

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Amused and mad...all at the same time

So I was laying my stomach on the living room floor today, trying to finish the gripping conclusion of Catching Fire*, while Owen played games on the computer and Henry toddled around playing and making messes that I was ignoring. In fact, I was ignoring Henry well enough that I didn't mind as he came over to me, climbed up, and started scratching my back. For about 15 seconds, I actually enjoyed the back scratching--until I snapped out of my reverie and looked back to find out what he was using to scratch. Henry was grasping a black ball-point pen--and had just scribbled all over my new shirt!!!

You know it's a pretty good book when you don't even notice your son is drawing on your back!


*The sequel to Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, which I cannot recommend enough. Seriously, read this series!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

clown, part 2



Henry was playing in the bathroom as I was taking a shower the other day. He loves to get into all of my hair clips and other bathroom novelties. He kept opening the shower door to show me what treasure he'd unearthed. Then when I had my back turned he opened the door and came into the shower, fully dressed. Luckily I shooed him out before he got wet, telling him, "You can't come into the shower with clothes on, Henry". He ran away crying, and about five seconds later he came back in with his swim trunks and was trying to get them on his head! I don't know how he figured that one out, but I couldn't stop laughing.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

class clown


I've got a little boy who loves to get lots of attention and laughs. Today at church he was going full steam. We've got a great music leader who is really nice to give Owen, one of the youngest in primary, lots of attention and positive feedback. I think she's a big reason why he sings so loudly in church. The music leader was teaching the children a new song today, was having the children repeat each line without music, and then after they'd said it correctly they'd sing it. Owen apparently didn't enjoy her methods, however; he went right up to her and said, "I'm not going to say it. I'll sing it but I'm not saying it". She was so nice and acknowledged him while getting him to sit down and continue teaching. Then as she ushered Owen back to his seat, he backed up to sit down and completely missed his seat! He sat right on the floor instead. The whole primary erupted in muffled laughter as we tried not to embarrass or give undue attention to that clumsy kid. Later as I was out in the hallway doing some paperwork I heard the primary singing the ABC song, obviously not a church song. I poked my head in the room, and sure enough, Owen was leading the whole primary in his favorite song! Thank goodness for sweet Sister Law!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I ♥ ETSY.

I am not a creative person. At least, not one of those "original idea" creative people. I'm more of a "give me a pattern and a picture and I can copy some other creative person" persons. I love making things but I am impossibly unable to create anything unique. That's why I am in looooove with Etsy.com. Never been on the site? You are missing out. In its own words, Etsy is a place to buy and sell all things handmade. In my words? Etsy's a great place to get (aka steal) ideas.


If you have an idea for something to make, just search Etsy and you will invariably find tons of ideas for that thing, but way cuter than you can possibly imagine. Errr...at least, cuter than I can imagine. Here's an example: I wanted to make some sort of Halloween banner to go with my Halloween decorations. I searched Etsy and found tons of cute ones. The one I liked best cost 24 dollars. So I decided to copy it and see how cheaply I could make it.


This banner uses only ONE 12x12 piece of cardstock, some paint, and ribbon. I have no idea how the seller can sell these things for 24 dollars and sleep at night--but according to her feedback, she sells lots of 'em. After checking my supplies I found that I had everything but the ribbon. Actually, I didn't have any orange paint, but I mixed my own color with some old red and yellow bottles of acrylic paint I did have. After buying a whole roll of ribbon, my banner cost a total of $1.80!!! It's not quite as fancy as the one on Etsy, but I'm happy with it. Check it out:


And here's the finished product with my whole decorated mantle:





Yeah, it is September still, but I love Halloween decorations! I couldn't wait any longer! Now I've got to find some cool costumes to copy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Family Videos and Chinese Philosophy

Henry's had a fever for the past few days and this afternoon after waking up with a temp of 104.0, I took him down to the doctor. They did a nasal swab to test for the flu and it looks like it is not the flu--at least not so far, but just a bad upper respiratory cold. He was pretty miserable for a while. But this evening after getting a good dose of baby Motrin, Henry was almost all the way back to his cute little self.

After baths and pajamas but before family prayer and bedtime, we were all hanging out on the bed together. Tim and I were talking and the boys were entertaining us. Henry and I had been racing Tim and Owen to see who could get his pajamas on the fastest. Henry won (probably because his are a one-piece), and I'd been jumping up and down with him to celebrate our victory. Then Henry started trying to jump up and down. Basically he bends his knees and crouches way down, then stands up really quick. No feet actually leave the floor, but it is so cute. So I grabbed the camera to catch it and found that my boys were in a performing mood. They love the camera! Here are a few videos that I captured.

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Whenever I have days like today that have some rough, hard parts interwoven with wonderfully sweet parts, I think of this quote and am so thankful for all of the blessings I have. Life is good.

With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my bended arm for a pillow--I have still joy in the midst of these things.--Confucius

Monday, September 14, 2009

18-month-old antics

Yesterday Henry turned 18 months old. He's really getting to be a big boy. It was his first official day to go into nursery class at church, although unofficially he's been sampling the nursery for the past few months. He did great!

Henry loves to play outside, get into the Tupperware cupboard, and try on shoes that don't belong to him. We've been finding random shoes and little Tupperware bowls all over the house lately. He's talking more and more, and he'll usually try to repeat words if prompted. Last night at bedtime we were singing a song that says, "moon, moon, moon" in it. Henry was singing along, "moo! moo! moo!" Henry loves to pull all of the books off of the book shelf, just to find the perfect book to bring me to read with him, which in all truthfulness drives me slighty crazy after putting all of the books back for the third time a day.
Henry's favorite book is the Cheerios Cookbook. I hate this book; I can't explain why I do, but I've been trying to get rid of the Cheerios book forever. I've hidden it under the bed, behind dressers and in the trash, but it somehow is always found and rescued before it's too late. Hiding thrown-away toys in the trash takes some superhuman parenting skills that apparently I am lacking. Anyway, both of my boys love the Cheerios Cookbook, probably because all of the pages have pictures of yummy treats made with Cheerios posing with toys.

Henry brings me the Cheerios Cookbook multiple times a day and we look at three specific pages: one has a picture of a cat, one page a stuffed animal dog, and his favorite is a plastic dinosaur with a Cheerios treat in its mouth. Play the video to see what Henry does when we look at the dinosaur page. It always makes me laugh.

video

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Preschool Ready

Every so often I hear the twittering of mothers on the subject of preschool. Some mothers have their kids on waiting lists for years before their children are eligible. I'm not one of those mothers--not only do I know of not a single local preschool worth going to such lengths, but-- newsflash!--I'm kind of a procrastinator. So a few months ago when I began the process of placing Owen in preschool, I had a difficult time finding one. By a minuscule two weeks, he meets the Dec. 1st cutoff to start kindergarten next year. I'm not sure if he'll be ready or if I will opt to wait another year, but I figured a year of preschool might help his chances.

I made lots of calls and found that most preschools were either already full or were extremely expensive. This is much more serious business that I had anticipated. I tried to get Owen signed up for a free state preschool program that enrolls kids based on disability or economic need, but was told that we didn't meet the enrollment criteria. When my sisters told me of the fantastic (and CHEAP) in-home preschools to which they had sent their children, I couldn't believe the price difference. I knew I couldn't afford preschool and sadly concluded that I'd have to try to prep Owen on my own.

After returning from our vacation I went to church and talked to my friends whose children had started preschool. They gushed about how great it was and how much the childred loved it. That convinced me that I had to try one more time. I found the child development center at the local community college that has a preschool program, and upon calling I was told they had a few more openings. We went down and learned that we qualified for free, 5 day a week, morning preschool. I'm not sure who was more excited--me or Owen. It seems to be a perfect fit!

Here's a picture I took of Owen yesterday, just before taking him to his first day of preschool. In the bag he's holding is his required set of extra clothes they keep for him just in case. He was really excited to go to preschool. When we walked into the Child Development Center, we went out to the playground to sign him in and Owen was off. Not a tear or even a goodbye came from my eager little boy. I held Henry and we watched him on the playground for a few minutes before we left. When we got to the car to leave, I was so happy and Henry was so sad! He cried as we drove away. When we came back a few hours later to pick up Owen, we watched him through the window of his classroom singing and dancing with the other children. It was very, very cute. He was having lots of fun, and didn't want to leave. I'm really proud of Owen. I love him so much. It's very fun to see him grow and become more independent.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Utah Road Trip!

We just returned from our summer vacation in Utah. We had a really fun time with my sisters Mindy and Susanna and their families the first week and Tim's brother Adam and his family the second week. Here are some pictures and highlights of the trip.

We stayed at Susanna and Robbie's house in Santa Clara. Our kids played together and we practically had to rip them apart to put them to bed at night. One evening we headed out on Susanna and Robbie's boat. My BFF Jill and her daughter Hannah drove out from Las Vegas to come along. Robbie is an awesome wakeboarder. We rode the tube and I was thisclose to getting up on the wakeboard. If only we had a little more time before it got dark, I think I could have done it.
Owen and Henry loved jumping off the boat into Tim's arms. With those life jackets on they were fearless.
The next day we went on a day trip to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. I was surprised to learn that the GC is only 2 1/2 hours from St. George. Including Mindy's family and Susanna's family, there were six adults and 10 children along. We took a hike that offered some great views. The Grand Canyon was really breathtaking--it was much more beautiful in person than in pictures. I think my heart beat five times as hard while we were on our short hike--not from exertion as much as from the thought of one of the little ones getting too close to the edge of the canyon! I made sure to keep Owen on the inside side of the trail next to me, and it was a relief when we finished the hike with family intact.
L-R Campbell, Quincy, Sydney, Owen, Preston, Blake, and Bailey

Cousins Tate, Sydney and Owen
We had so much fun in Southern Utah. There are lots of things to do there and it's really gorgeous. Everywhere you look is another great view. Even though the temperature is about the same as here, it felt a lot cooler--I think because it's so much more humid here. I continually had the thought: "WHY do we live in central CA? why why why why why?????"

We drove up to Farmington, UT for our second week of the trip to visit Adam, Amy, Lucas, Damon, and Clark. It was boy heaven for all of those cousins! They played very well together. I wish I had taken more pictures. I guess we were having so much fun that I kept forgetting to grab the camera. I really like the Bountiful/Farmington/Kaysville area north of Salt Lake. It's very pretty there, too. It would be so nice to live close to at least one of our siblings. It was another week of asking myself the "WHY?" question over and over again.

Although it was a fantastic trip and we were grateful for the comfortable accomodations offered us, we were very glad to be home. It felt wonderful to wake up in our own bed in our own bedroom and have no children in the room with us!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cousins of the World, UNITE!

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We can not wait to see lots and lots of cousins in the next few weeks.

It's time for a Koford invasion!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

knit one, read two

People have been asking me what I've been working on since I completed my last big project. Basically I've been knitting, working on a few knitting projects that had been sitting around for a while. I finished a hat for me, an ugly purse, a little girls' hat, and a little scarf to match it. I went through my knitting bag and I've still got at least four unfinished projects to complete including two koala hats, another scarf, and a sock to match one I finished nearly two years ago. I told myself that I wasn't allowed to start anything new until I finished all of those other things. That was until I got some new knitting books from the library.

Every once in a while I go on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and look to see what new knitting books are out. I copy the titles and then paste them into the library's online catalog to see what's available. Then I put all of them on hold and within a week or two, they trickle in. This is my system for most of my books and DVDs--and I check out lots of books regularly. There are so many library branches connected to mine and I rarely find just what I'm looking for in the stacks, so now it's all request and hold. I love it--it's like Netflicks for cheapskates!

Anyway, the very same day this knitting book came in, Tim brought me 7 giant skeins of cream-colored yarn that his mother donated for my cause.

I knew instantly that my self-enforced rule was going out the window when this bear appeared!

And of course, she needed an outfit to match--don't you just love the basket weave?

It is a good thing I have neices. Owen and Henry loved this bear until she had a dress.

Henry and Alex


best of friends

Monday, July 6, 2009

Recipe for a Fantastic 4th

My family loves to celebrate Independence Day with plenty of food surrounded by family. The main ingredient is Dad's barbecue.
This man can make anything taste good! He actually builds his own barbecues, like the big smoker in this picture. If I'm counting right, I think my dad currently employs the use of four different barbecues. His specialty is ribs, smoked and smothered in his own sauce.

Yum!


We had lots of great food that I won't go into great detail to describe, except to mention my favorite dessert for this holiday, Mom's warm apricot cobbler with ice cream. This simple, amazing dessert is what home tastes like!
We picked lots of sweet apricots from the tree and are now enjoying them this week. If you have never tasted a ripe apricot fresh off the tree, you are truly missing a beautiful thing. I no longer buy them in the grocery store, because I'm always disappointed--they never taste as good as home.We enjoyed all the food down in the gazeebo my dad built (have I mentioned his nickname is Iron Grandpa?). The weather was beautiful: warm with a cool breeze. After eating we set the kids off on a magnificent scavenger hunt that ended when they found the booty--chocolate surrounded by water guns, and then they began a water fight that was so enticing that all of the adults joined in.
The cousins (Chad's kids, Merilee's kids, and mine) had great fun together, except for Henry, who for some reason cried every time little Alex (Merilee's son and the same age as Henry) came near. It was hilarious!
We topped off the evening by watching three different fireworks displays that we could see from the yard. Not one of them could be viewed in its entirety and all of them were far away, but regardless of running back and forth to find the best view and craining my neck to see portions of bombs bursting, just standing in the cool evening under the full moon surrounded by my family made it a memory I don't wish to forget.

I feel so blessed to live in freedom in a country that allows me to enjoy my family and live my life as I choose!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's getting hot in here

Oh my goodness, I am hot. I just looked at the thermostat and it says it's 87 degrees. That's INSIDE the house, at 11:45 pm. At what point do I break down and turn on the AC? It's not that it doesn't work. But air conditioning is one thing I am thrifty about.

The first summer that we lived in Fresno, we lived in a one-bedroom, upstairs apartment. And being that upon moving we were unemployed and broke, we went the whole summer without using the air conditioning. Fresno gets really hot, but I was deathly afraid of what our electric bill might be. I remember very vividly how miserable I was, burning up, sweat pouring down in that stifling second floor apartment with the huge western-facing sliding-glass door. The thermostat went so high that the needle was off the charts. In fact, you couldn't even SEE the needle sometimes. It was SO. HOT. We bought this little cooler that had a compartment for ice cubes, and when you turned it on it made the air a bit cooler, but only if you were sitting within five inches of the thing. We suffered and survived, but never forgot. The next summer, we decided to start using the air conditioning more. And our bill did go up--but only by about 20 dollars. I couldn't believe it. I had suffered all summer when it would have cost less than a dollar a day to be comfortable? We could have run the air most of the summer for the price we paid for the stupid ice cube cooler. It still makes me sick to know how foolish I was.

Yesterday afternoon I met a realtor to look at a house, and afterward I took Owen and Henry to a neighborhood park. I'd only been to the park once before, and hadn't tried out the play equipment. So I pushed the boys on the swings, and then Owen wanted to go on the teeter totter. Usually at parks when I sit on one end of the teeter totter with him, I get a good quad workout. I really feel the burn, and I don't last very long. I end up having to push it down with my arms. But either my weight loss has made a big difference or this teeter totter must have a really good spring, because it was no sweat at all. We went up and down for a long time and it was really fun. I even fit Henry on the seat with me (yay!). The metal slide at the park was pretty good, too--it is fast and really pops you up at the bottom. We had a good time. Tonight after dinner we all went back to the park and played some more. It was much hotter out, and instead of going fast on the slide and popping up, my sweaty body stuck to the slide and barely slid down at all--it was terrible! After playing on the equipment we played Owen's current favorite outside game: freeze tag. We wished we had some more friends to play with us, because it's not all that fun playing with only three people and a baby who refuses to freeze, no matter how many times he gets tagged.

Did I mention how hot I am? Better go lie down in front of the fan now.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

reduced image size!

I thought I'd post some new pictures of Tim and I. Tim is down 75 pounds and I'm down 60! We get a lot of comments from people about how good we look. It's wonderful to hear, and makes the struggle and hunger that comes with dieting easier to take. Someone at church asked me if Tim had had gastric bypass, and another told me it looked like I'd lost 100 pounds. It's funny sometimes how they say things like that--like, wow, we must have looked pretty bad before (we did!). I can't believe how good it feels to be smaller and healthier. I love looking at myself in pictures now. You can go here to see a picture of us before we lost the weight.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

pushing buttons

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Henry found this toy in the toybox and loves it. It's a Thomas musical caboose, and it has a button on top that plays the Thomas song when pressed. Henry carries it around with him and plays the song over and over. He climbed up on the chair next to me and was showing me what he can do. He's a musical button pusher, this kid. I love him so much!

Friday, June 12, 2009

what is wrong here?

Both boys are bathed and in bed by 7:30, nothing is wrong!!!
Except that my camera isn't working correctly. Indoors, all of the photos have big brown horizontal lines going through them and are slightly blurry. Outdoors, the photos are totally overexposed. (See below: the first pic of Tim is with the broken camera, the second I took with my new phone.)


By the way, I grew that carrot myself from seed!