Wednesday, April 27, 2011

eating outside with the king

A few weeks ago, I was away running a few errands when the girls and their Dad called me to know they were roasting polish sausages (NOT hot dogs, mind you!) that evening and would I like to join them?  Oh, and could I pick up the food on my way home?

Of course, hearing the excitement in their voices, I complied with the request.

Despite the cold, we had a splendid time.  The girls were most impressed with their first introduction to the polish sausages.  In fact, Claire was so enamored with hers, she finally chucked the bun aside so she could fully focus on the meat.  I mean, who has time for all the fluff when you've got a big 'ol sausage in your mitts?

One of my favorite's of the night were the signs the girls made for Courtney's chair.  King Courtney.  Fitting for a a guy who lives with a bunch of princesses, eh?

For now, we can't wait for warm weather.  We're waiting for spring to arrive, albeit not so patiently.  (My personal requirement is more than fifteen minutes of sunshine at a time.)  Until then, I guess we can just pretend it's summertime.  

Here's hoping for many more picnics to come.    

Monday, April 25, 2011

our easter went like this:

-forgot to charge the camera battery, so we hardly took a shot the whole weekend.
-spent saturday at g. jones for a fun bbq and easter hunt-
 all had fun except for handy-man daddy, who stayed home to be a plumber for our new project. . .
 apparently he doesn't like being a plumber.
-woke up at 6:30 am, thanks to claire and emmy.
-found and filled Easter baskets with much, much too much candy.
-thought about how much less exciting our Easter hunts are than those I grew up with.
concluded that it must be the lack of brothers, who could be relied upon to find and re-hide your basket,
find and re-hide your eggs,
stash all the good candy while you found and re-found your basket and eggs,
and then wrestled you to the floor once the candy gathering began,
thus dumping your basket and taking all the good stuff while you scrambled to retain some dignity.
yes, that's what it was.  no brothers.  easter just isn't the same without brothers.
-dad declared that he will be writing the Easter bunny shortly with a request for next year:
less candy/ more fruit.
-didn't even make breakfast for easter morning. 
 or lunch. 
 or dinner, for that matter. 
except for the lunch g. jones let us share, ate candy all day instead.
-attended stake conference. 
barely survived.  (four kids + two hours = long meeting.)
-my philosophy on easter hunts without brothers was confirmed after I spoke with sister-in-law (mother of three boys-no girls), who confided that she feared for her life during that morning's easter hunt.  see?  no lack of excitement at their house?
i told you so.  it's the boys.
-girls looked very cute, thanks to me who sewed such cute skirts. 
 really, if I must say so myself, (I suppose I must)
 they were cuter than the pictures show. 
 (and easy as pie, but I'm not telling anyone.)
-50% of my siblings and my parents deserted us and spent the weekend in lake havasu,
boating of all things. 
without us. 
we thought swear words at them the entire weekend. 
 (really.  Don't they know that disposing of the annual croney easter hunt is a federal offense?)
-visited g. jones to wish a happy birthday.
-were happy as clams to see the Mumford boys, if only for a few hours.
(our four girls plus their four boys get along famously).
-took a nap on grandma & grandpa's couch (me not the girls).
-girls, g. jones, & daddy played pass the pigs, which led to much laughter & interrupted my nap.  grrrr.
-went home, much to the dismay of the littles.
-promptly sent everyone to bed,
(except for one undisclosed sister, who had to unload/load dishwasher for being naughty/overly hyper on ride home).
-cuddled with The Plumber (best part of the day).
-sweet dreams.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

claire at two-and-a-half

For about six months now, I've been going to write down a few things about Claire at this age.  Last night I was looking at our old blog books and found the pictures of her when she was born.  Holy cow!  She's growing up so fast.  I remembered that if I didn't write things down now, pretty soon she won't be doing these fun things anymore and we'll have forgotten.  That's one thing about keeping up my blog, I suppose.  At the time I write things down, it seems like I'll remember that moment forever, but when I go back and reread it, I realize I would have completely forgotten a perfectly fun moment in our family. 

Here's Claire at two-and-a-half plus a few months:

1.  She still wears a leotard and tutu at some point almost every day.
2.  When I drive the girls to ballet lessons, she packs her "ballet bag" and has to wear her ballet clothes.  She cries every time she can't go in once lessons start.  Every time. 
3.  Miss Frederick, the girls ballet teacher comes out after class has ended and has Claire perform her latest ballet dance for all the big girls.  Then she and the big girls oooh and aaah and Claire thinks she's hot stuff.  She's never shy.  Never.

4.  Miss Frederick wants to teach Claire ballet next fall.  Claire will only be three and Miss Frederick teaches students five years and older.  No exceptions, except Claire.  She already has a dance picked out for her.
5.  I know Claire would love, love, love to take ballet.  Although we don't typically let the girls start an activity (ballet, gymnastics, etc) until age five, I think about it every now and again.  That's because I love, love, love Claire.

6.  She has a tiara that Ryenne gave her for Christmas.  She calls it her T.R.W.  As in, "Have you seen my T.R.W?"  We don't know where this came from.
7.  Claire loves, loves, loves her dad.  Last night as I was reading about her birth and the scary days that followed, I remembered how her oxygen levels would improve whenever her Daddy came into the room and talked to her.  This didn't work with anyone else, only Daddy.  It worked every time and everyone commented on how cool it was.  Those two have had a special bond always. 

8.  Claire watches way more movies than the other girls ever did.  We didn't even have a t.v.(now we only have one for movies) until Ryenne was about 5, and so movies were something that only happened at Grandma and Grandpa's for most of the oldest three girls early years.  Now Claire watches about a movie a day.  We're obviously not very big into screen-time, and so this is something I feel guilty about, but Claire does not.

9.  She can quote movies like you would not believe.  I'm thinking she gets this trait from her Uncle Josh.  He's a master at this, and for a two year old, she can hold her own.  One of her favorites is Ramona and Beezus (if you haven't seen that movie, you should).  Our personal favorite is when we are sitting at dinner and she starts to make funny faces.  We know what is coming. . ."I'm going to say a bad word. . .(more funny faces) . . . .GUTS!  GUTS!  GUTS!"  Lately she likes to put on Ryenne's winter snow hat and wear it around all day.  Then she transforms into Agnes from Despicable Me.  She makes us laugh all the time.

10.  Miss Claire is very independent.  She has learned how to fend for herself.  Ryenne and Kate talked their Dad into putting the doorknob on their door so they could lock Claire out.  (Their stuff seems to be much more fun).  They keep the key on top of a picture frame outside the door.  The other day I saw Claire push the bar stool over, reach up on her tippy toes to get the key, and push the stool back.  She's no dummy.
11.  We love Claire at age two.  I've said before how I used to think age two was such a frustrating age.  It's probably the combination of me becoming a little more relaxed as a mom and realizing how fast the time really goes that helps me enjoy her so much.  Terrible-two's or not, we can't imagine our family without our Claireabelle!

Monday, April 18, 2011

making messes

After much deliberation, we have finally come to a conclusion about our laundry room/ mudroom situation.  Basically, here is our situation. 

It's a mess, always has been.   Mudroom/pantry/furnace room/laundry room/ utility bathroom/Courtney's office.  Phew.  It makes me tired just thinking of everything we have to fit into this space.  Too few cupboards, no counter tops, and a door every two feet.  We've examined every possible layout for cabinets, tried everything we could think of to make it into a more effective space. 

But now, Now! we have a solution!  While we don't have the cash to tackle the whole project at once, we are embarking on a halfsies kind of project.  Half now, half later.  (Who knows when later will be).   

Before:  This is the cutest little half bath you've ever seen. 

So, so cute.  Only it's never been used.  Not once in eleven years.  It lies at the end of our dark, dungeon of a hallway and has been used instead as a storage room.  It's one of those open the door, throw it in, and quick-as-you-can- shut-the-door-so-you-can-forget-about-it kind of room. 

No longer, my friends.

Last weekend Courtney ripped out the toilet, sink, trim, and such.  By the end of the week, I  hope this bathroom is alive in my memory only.  My cousin Jonnie is arriving this morning to finish off the job, remove our bench next door, and knock out the walls, moving them into the utility room to make the space bigger.  Eventually, the utility room will become a craft/office room, with a small addition of a mudroom.  I'm thinking that it will be a bit like heaven if it ever happens.  I've spent years trying to think of a solution to our messy dilemma, and we're banking on this being the ticket. 

We spent Saturday making messes and if all goes well, by the end of the day we'll have an even bigger mess. 

Late Saturday evening, as I boxed up the cupboards in the utility room and Courtney swept up the remains of his demolition, we decided that we are really, really good at making messes.  Since we've been married, we've made somewhat of a career out of it, actually.  Three major remodels (while we lived amongst the mess), a major yard overhaul (looking so good but yet to be completed), and a gazillion other projects.  I could spend a week just posting our before and after pics of all our messes. 

We thrive on it, I suppose.  Makes us giddy.  Always dreaming, concocting, and imagining what could be.  Lucky for me, I've got a guy who is most capable of putting it all back together in a real spiffy way.  Handy, he is.  And I love my handy man- everything about him.

Even- no, wait!  Especially his messes. 

Have a happy, messy Monday.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

dear ryenne

(beautiful pictures taken by our super talented friend, Nicole.  You can see more of her work here.)

Miss Ryenne,

Yesterday you turned eleven years old.  Eleven years!  I can hardly believe it.  What's more, you are starting to look so grown up that I can no longer deny that you won't stay my baby forever.  My little girl?  Always.  But not my baby. 

I love to see what you are becoming.  I love your sense of humor.  I admire your kind heart.  I appreciate how hard you try to do the right thing, and although you make mistakes (who doesn't?), you are really trying.  I can see that and I love you for it. 

I am growing also as I watch you face difficult situations and overcome challenges.  I've always told you that you can do hard things, and the older you get, I see that you can.  What's more, you are doing hard things much more gracefully than I ever did.  You teach me every day.

Speaking of being graceful, you are in every way.  I love to see you dancing around the house, whether it be in your leotard or pj's.  You have a beautiful, graceful way of moving and I think it's so fun to watch. 

You are such a help to Dad and I.  With almost four little siblings, you are dependable (becoming more so all the time) and smart.  So, so smart and capable.  We count on you for so many things and don't know what we'd do without your help. 

We love you.  We love your infectious giggle, your corny jokes, and your beautiful green eyes.  We are a little bit in awe of you.  After all, you were the first little baby girl we ever brought home.  At the time, it seemed you'd be tucked safely away in our nest forever.  Now we see you beginning to stretch your wings and realize it won't be long before you fly away on your own.  While we know that great adventures lie in wait for you, we want to hold you close as long as we can.  That's just because we love you so much.

We want nothing more than for you to be happy.  Confident, and kind.  A beautiful Daughter of God, who knows who she is and where she is going.  Best of all, that's just what we see you becoming.  A little too fast for our liking, perhaps, but wonderful just the same.

Bloom where you are planted, Ryenne girl.  

I love you,

Monday, April 11, 2011

little mothers

These girls of ours are so excited for a little brother. 

It seems so strange that we'll have a little boy in the house.  Tractors and trucks and all of those other things Courtney has never bought- things that are so much a part of him.  Courtney's mom tells of when he was a little boy, and would proudly tell everyone how his dad had lots of "quiptment" (Grandpa Lloyd started the construction company Courtney and his brother now own).  I have a feeling Christmas shopping is going to be a lot more exciting for him now.  I can just see the two of them sprawled out on the floor with all their "quiptment".   And me?  It seems almost like I'm having my first baby again.  Everything seems so new and different.  No more pink, ruffles, and ribbons- so strange. 

August seems a long way off.  I can't wait to meet him, and either can his sisters.  Almost daily, I am engaged in an "How far away is August?" conversation.  I explain that the baby will come at the end of summer, after Emmy and Claire's birthdays and before the fair.  Then I try to pep them up, saying "It will be here before we know it!"  I don't know who I'm trying hardest to convince, me or them. 

A friend of ours told me a funny story the other day.  He was driving his daughter and Kate home from gymnastics and she was telling him all about having a little brother.  He jokingly told her, "Now Kate, I don't ever want to see this little boy running around in a tutu."  It was then that she informed him that she and her sisters already had it all planned out and they were going to dress the poor little guy up in dresses and make him stand out in the front yard and dance for the passersby.  

I hadn't heard that one.

I thought about how Aunt Jodi and I used to curl Uncle Shawn's hair, dress him in our frilly slips and church dresses and call him "Shawna".  We were so convincing that he once won a primary Halloween costume contest due to our efforts.  I guess he survived inspite of us and even turned out to be a pretty good guy.  How does that saying go- what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, ehMaybe there is hope for little brother, after all.

I mean, seriously.  How can he not turn out?  He's going to have not one, but five mothers. 

Lucky, lucky little boy. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

a train wreck and a kind husband

Last weekend, we received some sweet potatoes in our Bountiful Basket.  Not being the biggest sweet potato lovers around here, I was excited to see a recipe the next day for Sweet Potato Quesadillas.  For some reason (it's all a little hazy to me now), these looked like a great idea.  After all, I had a small grundle of these little orange delights waiting to be stirred into a masterpiece.  Why I didn't just settle on something a bit more mainstream, such as sweet potato french fries, is now a little unclear, but at the time I was sure these would be a hit. 

Feeling most efficient, I had purchased all the necessary ingredients days before, baked up the taters earlier that afternoon, and mashed them into a frenzy by 4:00.  Oh, the organization!  When 6:00 rolled around, I was in the kitchen, sauteing red pepper and onion, stirring in cilantro and blue cheese, all the while I had a pot of asparagus steaming on the back burner.  It all looked so healthy, it did- and I do so strive for healthy dinners.  This one was sure to top the cake. 


The moment came when I had to stir the pepper/onion mixture in.  Then the cheese, salt, and cilantro.  It looked very mushy.  Very mushy, indeed.  At this point I remembered exactly what it is that Courtney detests about sweet potatoes, pumpkin, or any of the orange, fleshy vegetables.  Mushy, mushy, mushy.  Mushy makes him gag. 

Suddenly, this whole enterprise seemed like a bad idea.  A very bad idea.

"But she who submitted the recipe didn't like sweet potatoes either!" I consoled myself.  "And she said they were the very best quesadillas she had ever eaten!"  Maybe there was hope.  Maybe the tortillas along with the grilling made this concoction into a tasty, splendid, creative masterpiece. 

All of this was running through my slightly worried mind when Courtney walked in.  As he eyed my work, he looked at me with a one-eyebrow-lifted-I'm-a-little-concerned kind of look.  I glared at him, warning him to keep his mouth quiet.  After all, if the girls heard even one negative word about dinner coming from his mouth, it would all be over.  I was walking on thin ice as it was.  He paused for a minute, and then said quietly, "That is triggering my gag reflex just by looking at it."

I knew it. 

But!  I wasn't going to give in just yet!  If this was going to be a train wreck, I was going to ride it on through until the end.  While almost every part of me was screaming, "THIS IS GOING TO BE HORRIBLE!,"  there was still a tiny, stubborn, little sliver of hope that we would all be surprised, even amazed by my gourmet-ness. 

We all sat down as the girls started to make all sorts of gagging, yucky face kind of noises and complaints.  True to my glare, Courtney didn't say a word.  He calmly waited for the prayer, and then, with my eyes boring down on him, began to eat.  To his credit, he maintained a straight face, eating not only one, but all two of the quesadillas he had been served.  Meanwhile, I started in on mine, only to get partway through before I set my first triangle of orange mushiness down, on the verge of gagging. 

All the while, Courtney waited, no doubt wondering what to do next.  I sat, looking from him to the girls, who unlike their dad, were doing nothing to hide their disgust. 

I couldn't help it.  I burst out with, "But it looked so good in the picture!!!!" 

With that, we all started laughing.  It was all the permission Courtney needed.  The girls giggled and Courtney and I roared uncontrollably, me crying with laughter and everyone else mostly relieved that they didn't need to try to choke this disaster down anymore.  It had been a train wreck, alright. What did I do? I jumped off at the first chance, while poor Courtney willed himself through to the grizzly end.

Suddenly, I felt very tired.  And discouraged.  My tears of laughter metamorphosed into plain old tears.  Tired, overwhelmed, and about 99% hormonal, I went in and laid on my bed.  Soon, Courtney was there, kneeling by my bed with a kind, concerned look on his face.  He wiped away my tears and suggested I go to bed.  Even though it was only 7:30.  With that, he closed the door and took on our little world all by himself, not making me feel one bit guilty for taking a hot, bubble bath and drifting off to sleep while he managed to concoct a more edible dinner, homework, and the bedtime routine as a one-man show.

I married a good man. 

In just a few days, it will be our anniversary.  While we've only been married for thirteen years, we've been best friends for another six plus.  This has given me ample time to come to the conclusion that I'm pretty sure there is nothing better than being married to a kind person.  I've never been more in love.  Even better?  I'm almost positive that he's quite taken with me too.  After all, he ate a sweet potato quesadilla for me. 

If that ain't love, I don't know what is.


*I should clarify that I have since looked over the above-mentioned recipe and accompanying picture several times.  If you do, I am wondering if you agree that it does, in fact look delicious!  Doesn't it?  What's more, I'm sure it is.  I'm not meaning to be demeaning, if you know what I mean.  I'm sure you throw another cook into the kitchen, along with some avid sweet potato lovers and you've got a masterpiece.  Anyway. . .

PS.  Last night I went the safe route.  Puffy pancakes, dripping in butter, topped with vanilla yogurt and strawberries.  Everyone had seconds.  And for the record, Courtney gave me a thumbs up on this one.