Monday, January 28, 2013

a month of suck... oops, sick

Avery played with Mom's camera phone an awful lot during her two-week convalescence. She's a big fan of the Selfie.
 "Yesterday was plain awful," Annie sings to Daddy Warbucks in the final number of Annie.
(I should know, I have played that [and every other kiddie movie we own] more than once recently.)
You can say that again. 
Despite all of us getting our flu shots (like good little boys and girls always do) in mid-September, the past few weeks have been a never-ending parade of the Big F Word, featuring tissues, thermometers, medicine droppers, popsicles, juice, and general misery. It started each time when runny noses and sore throats merged into 104 degree fevers, lost appetites and wracking coughs. For four days straight. FOUR. DAYS. Four days of worrying sick and wondering and force-feeeding and bathing and watching news coverage of the number of flu-related deaths climb and barely sleeping. 
First Avery. Then, two days after her fever finally broke, Carter. 
The worst day of Carter's flu. When it came to the end of her six-hour medicine cycle, she couldn't function at all.
Klayton and I got watered-down versions of the same flu, but we were somehow better equipped to fight it off, thank heaven. We were each out of commission for just one day- the others were bearable misery. Carter has bounced back from her flu pretty well. The aftermath for teensy Av, however, has included a runny nose, hacking cough and hearing loss in her right ear due to fluid that just wouldn't drain! You know, you're average walk-in-the-park type stuff.
Sleeping Beauty.
 But I am pleased to (finally) report that all are mostly-well again and life is moving on. It has been hard to get Avery back to school since she had two weeks off for Winter Break, then about four days into school in 2013 she started getting sick and took another 2+ weeks off (plus, she kind of hates Kindergarten! I wonder what she'll think when school is three hours longer and you don't get to finger paint...), but we are all adjusting to normal, contagion-free life bit by bit. Yesterday was our first day back to church as a family, and it felt really good! The theme for February in our house is "Let's pack some pounds back onto Avery so I can no longer count each and every one of her ribs." 
Wish us luck.
The moral of this story? "The sun will come out Tomorrow." It's just that sometimes Tomorrow is weeks away. And you will go through Costco-sized packages of Kleenex, Tylenol and Halls in the meantime. And the sun only actually comes out metaphorically-speaking because it's wintertime in Portland, Oregon.
Thanks anyway, Annie.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's News

The past few New Year's Eves we have been lucky enough to spend with friends and family, but this year we were facing a solo NYE, and I was more than a little down about it. That is, until I realized something wonderful- we could tell our kids it was midnight at just about any time we chose, go to bed at a decent time, and still have a great night together! It turned out to be one of my favorite NYE ever. 
Avery decorated with her paintings. She is such a Daddy's girl lately!
 First Avery and I decorated the house with a string where Avery hung her favorite paintings from the past few weeks. We set the table as fancy as we could, and planned a special meal of Caesar salad, homemade pizza (I let the girls each make their own pie with their favorite toppings, and I made an adult Buffalo Chicken pizza - my specialty), grapes and sparkling cider. I even put together a NYE 2012 playlist on Spotify to listen to throughout the night. It included hits from this year as well as songs we couldn't get enough of from years' past.
Fancy table set, check. Homemade pizza (Buffalo Chicken and Pepperoni and Olive) check.
 After we ate, K bathed the girls while I prepared our evening's activities. We filled out NYE questionnaires for each of us that we plan on reading next year- the answers for the kids were hilarious!- and played games until about 8:30pm. The games I chose were Sardines (kind of a reverse Hide and Seek) and Freeze Dance (always a hit!).
 Bubbly and a dance party! What could be better to ring in the New Year?

Happy New Year!

 At 8:30 we bundled up and went outside to pop poppers and shout Happy New Year! A neighbor came out to comment on our early celebration, but we didn't mind. She either thought it was cute or crazy, but we have a two year old! An 8:30 celebration seemed the responsible thing to do!

 Fireworks in the freezing cold!
  Our girls' favorite treat- chocolate-kissed raspberries! 

 After our toast (man, my kids love Cheers!ing [obviously not a verb, but it's the best I could do]) and the eating of the grapes, we tucked the kids in and K and I read/discussed The Screwtape Letters until we were sleepy. I know that makes us sound about 100 years old, but between this pregnancy and all of the late nights we had over our holiday trip to Las Vegas, it was the perfect evening. 

 Our yearly tradition- eating grapes at "midnight" to predict a sweet or sour new year!

As I always seem to mention each year, this time of renewal and reflection is so exciting to me. I love setting goals and looking back and looking forward and all of the hope and happiness and uncertainty that comes with a brand new year. I can't wait to see what 2013 brings!

comfort and joy

 Our Christmas at the Cabin was white and wonderful and filled with moments and memories that we will hold on to forever! I hope that your Christmas was the same.
Some of my favorite yearly Cabin Christmas traditions: 
  • Chopping down the Christmas tree
  • The Christmas Eve visit from Santa
  • Avery and I making sugar cookies and decorating them with all of the kids
  • My dad reading the Christmas Story from the Bible on Christmas Eve
  • Watching A Christmas Story after the kids have gone to bed
  • Seeing a movie in the (completely teensy and CROWDED) St. George theater (Les Miserables this year- indescribably amazing!)
  • Pine Valley Christmas Sacrament Meeting - always consists of ten Christmas songs and the reading of the Christmas story by members of the congregation. So perfect
  • Waiting at the top of the stairs on Christmas Morning until all video cameras are turned on and ready to capture the present stampede
  • The after presents/big breakfast Christmas nap

This year came with a few special moments that I hope will become tradition in years to come! 
Things like: 
  • The adults telling stories and sharing memories of childhood and past Christmases while we set up presents on Christmas Eve after the kids are in bed
  •  Staying up late in Great Grandma's room chatting and telling stories
  • Helping the girls wrap the presents that they got each other with extra bows and tags
  • Making and eating this sauce on these potatoes along with a Christmas Ham on Christmas Eve. Mmmmmm
  • Decorating a Gingerbread House with all of the kiddos
Having children around at Christmas is the best reminder of the wonder and excitement of this time of year, and especially of the message of the Savior of the World. What a wonderful opportunity to reflect on Him each year.
The three grand-kids on the sled, hunting for the perfect tree.

 Choppers of wood.

I love this face.

My sister and nephew are gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous.

 If cutting down the Christmas tree is wrong, they don't want to be right.

Uncle Spencer (Unkapensa, according to Carter) is the coolest.
Two cute boys. Can you believe Giles' eyes?!

 Decorating a gingerbread house (train) with toddlers is not for the weak of stomach.
Santa Claus came to town!

 Looking for Santa/Christmas Morning Mayhem

Decorating Christmas Cookies!

Avery's letter to Santa. Melts my heart. It reads: I love you Santa. I love Mrs. Claus, too. I hope you like my cookies. Love, Avery.
I hope all your days were merry and bright this holiday!

all over again

The lobby of K's building.
 Spending the Christmas season in a new, big city has been really exciting! There are a lot of new things to see and new traditions to make. It has been especially fun for me to live near one of my family members again- Adam is just a ten minute drive from us and we love having him over whenever he has the time. We have been to see a bunch of movies with him the past few months, as well as going to see the Zoo Lights together and having him babysit the girls for us. And they are obsessed with him. Completely smitten. He's a pretty awesome uncle. 

Zoo Lights 2012
Of course, being in a new city has brought with it plenty of changes to our way of life, and not all of them are pleasant. Here are a few things I have noticed over the past three months that have come with moving to Portland: 
  • Suddenly friends and family members think it's okay to talk about Idaho like it's a well-known fact that my family and I have finally picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off and moved out of hillbilly hell. Dear such family and friends: NOT. COOL. Seriously, acting like I should be grateful to be away from that small and, yes, somewhat sheltered place makes you sound like an idiot. Stop talking. I miss my friends and family in Idaho dearly. I miss school. And there is nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong with my missing small city life, my big house, my big yard, my teensy Farmer's Market. And, yeah, it's pretty awesome living in a big town with huge everything (libraries, shopping centers, theaters, everything), but that doesn't mean that where I live now, or where you live now or have ever lived, means that Idaho is now the punchline to your jokes. Ugh. So, with all of the love and sincerity I possess, please think before you open your big mouth. Thanks.
    Santa time!
  • There are really great people everywhere! I have met some of the most sincerely nice and thoughtful people here in the suburbs of Portland. My neighbors are fantastic, my ward is wonderful, Avery's school is great. I hope my family and I will add to the great feeling of friendliness around here.
Zoo Lights 2012
  •  Being a parent feels different in Portland than it did in Smalltown McMormonville, Idaho. If someone, say, in the airport or grocery store in Idaho saw me struggling with two small children, more often than not I was met with extra helpfulness, kind strangers talking with my children, telling me how sweet/cute/wonderful they are (only the truth), and once I was even given a pat on the back and a, "Great job, Mom!" from a complete stranger when I was checking out at lightning speed at Fred Meyer and Carter was crying because I wouldn't let her push the buttons on the credit card machine and Avery was doing the Imma-bouta-pee-my-pants-dance like nobody's business.
Here, I am much more prone to getting looks from Hipsters and Respectable Adults (and yes, those are two distinct groups) alike that plainly say, "Don't you know how to use a condom?", "I'm so glad I'm not you", and, last but certainly not least, "Why in Heaven's name did you leave your house, freak?" 
Legit. No exaggeration here. 
At the airport last week we were even put into a different line and helped very last of all of the airline's customers, and I am convinced it was because two adults and two little girls with five large pieces of luggage in Portlandese says, "I am Other. Keep far away. Do not help me. Pity me. Pity yourself if you must have contact with me."
It extends beyond the airport, too. At restaurants with our children, who are, I dare say, at least as well-behaved as any five and two-year-old out there, I have to flag down our server for water refills, let alone anything else. They like to give us our food and check and absolutely nothing more.
This difference in attitude makes me laugh more often than not, but it also makes me think about the state of the world in deeper moments- I am sad that choosing to procreate is apparently so looked-down upon! Or at least that choosing to ever dare leave your house with children is.
Again, though, my final thought here is that I would like to be a positive part of this community, especially to other mothers. Mothers here often keep their heads down and are trying to make it though, just like me. But I am going to try looking up and smiling and being kind to other people and their kids when I am running errands. I can do that much. Maybe I'll start a cool new trend, like tattoo sleeves or Priuses?!
Beautiful girls!
  • Traffic sucks. Commuting is stupid. How are there this many people/cars/stores? Seriously, traffic sucks. 
  • Finally, along with moving to a new, large city I have realized that I am not as brave as I once thought I was. And I have whined about this move a lot, when so many act like it is just a part of life. I guess I never had to do that growing up, though. Move a lot, I mean. Every house that I lived in from birth to age 18 are all in a ten mile radius of each other. And I got to be in Idaho for nearly a decade! So maybe it has just been extra-intimidating for me, especially since I felt so happy and settled in our home in Idaho. Changing everything about our location and situation has been mentally and emotionally draining (and growing a human being inside of me hasn't much helped the situation, either), and new beginnings are at the same time opportunities of a lifetime and crap sandwiches. But getting to find out how much friends and family mean with new distance and closeness, making new friends, and growing closer to my husband and children are all happy consequences of taking a leap into new opportunity that came with feelings of peace and hope when agonized over on my knees. So I hereby promise to stop complaining! 
Cross my heart.