Thursday, December 21, 2006

Santa Got Run Over

Hello everyone,

Well another week has gone by and I have only one present left to buy before my Christmas shopping is complete. Of course that will be crammed in with writing a christmas letter, addressing and mailing cards, making treats for our friends, washing clothes and packing for our trip, but that still leaves plenty of time for holiday cheer.

This has not been a fortuitous year for outdoor Christmas decorations in our family. We bought icicle lights to hang on our house several weeks ago. We went to hang them and realized that we needed gutter clips. No problem, except Target was out. So was Home Depot, Fred Meyer, Lowe's and any other store I could think of in our area. After weeks of fruitless checking back to see if any store had gotten them in, I finally returned our icicle lights and figured we'll try again next year. However, we still have our inflatable Santa and light-up candy canes to spread holiday cheer. Because we unplug our inflatable Santa each night, he deflates and when we inflate him the next evening, he is in varying degrees of tipsiness- looking like he has had a bit too much of another kind of Christmas spirit. The first few days I went out and adjusted the stakes holding him up, but eventually I tired of it and figured we could have a tipsy Santa Claus. Then, last weekend we had a huge windstorm that completely took Santa down, so now when we inflate him each night, he is face-down on our lawn, looking like he really did get run over by a reindeer. Several of our candy canes were knocked down in the storm, too, but I haven't had the time or inclination to fix either one. We have had better luck with our indoor decorations, although Jared unwittingly discovered that cute train-shaped stocking hangers can turn into dangerous flying projectiles.

Last Saturday we celebrated the weekend's arrival by going to our ward choir christmas program run-through at 9:00 am. There was a thick layer of frost on everything, so it almost looked like snow. As we were going around the traffic circle to leave our neighborhood, Dave wanted to prove to me that Oregonians don't know much about REAL winter weather- this little of frost doesn't make roads icy. So he purposely took the turn hard and slammed on his brakes... and we started sliding, right into the curb. Luckily the curb was low and we weren't going very fast, but Jared was sufficiently impressed. "Dad," he said solemnly, "this is our first crash." If only Jared knew.... As soon as choir was over, I ran off to play in a piano quartet/quintet at a friend's piano studio recital. Then I came home and took the kids to a birthday party. After the birthday party we rushed home, made treats and left for the ward Christmas party.

While we were at the Christmas dinner, they had lots of people from the ward playing or singing background music. One of our friends came up to me and asked if I would play "Mary's Boy Child" for her to sing. No problem. I went to run through it with her in the other room and she said, "You know, this is kind of high for me tonight. Do you think you could play it in a different key?" and proceeded to hum a key that was nine half steps lower than written. Being the dumb prideful piano major that I am, I responded, "Sure." After all, I had to play every hymn in every key in my Keyboards of Death class. So I started to run through it with her, and while I could get the right chords out, I was stumbling my way along, and not even remotely getting the melody. Given that Dave had looked at the piece and said it looked easy, it suddenly occured to me that if I went out and stumbled my way through it, nobody would know I was transposing and so I would look REALLY dumb, so I told her she was going to have to sing it in the original key. Thus, pride of not wanting to look stupid conquered pride of wanting to look amazing and all was well.

Our ward choir program on Sunday went pretty well. I got to use my multi-tasking skills: I played piano for two songs, sang in the choir, sang in a trio, played the organ chimes (YES!! I've always wanted to do that!), and sang a teeny solo. Dave also sang in the choir and gave dirty looks to Jared and Camryn (sitting by themselves with the person on the row in front of them keeping an eye on them...) if they started to get up from their seats.

Tuesday we started making treat plates to take to our friends. I thought the kids would get a kick out of making marshmallow-cornflake holly and I wanted to make fudge in addition to the treats we were already making, so we set off to Target in search of Christmas-y paper for our christmas letter and the required ingredients. After a quick 45-minute browse at Target, and purchasing $30 of stuff, we determined that Target was out of two of our required ingredients and had no christmas-y printer paper. So we went to Albertson's in search of sweetened condensed milk, cornflakes and a bag of chocolate chips. We resolved to be fast and stick to our list, so we came out an hour later with a total of $45.71. Chocolate chips are getting expensive...

After multiple hours of intense labor (and two evenings of eating either scrambled eggs or frozen pizza for dinner), we successfully finished our treat plates. So yesterday morning we went to deliver some of them and while we were driving around Camryn barfed. We immediately returned home and got her to bed, but that left us with a dozen or so treat plates undelivered. They are, at this very moment, getting more stale by the hour, as I still haven't had the courage to take Camryn out to deliver them again (and Dave got home from work after 9:00 pm last night). The good news is that Camryn seems to be feeling better today and nobody else has gotten sick yet (knock on wood!).

Jared and Camryn are so excited to go on an airplane to visit Grama Susan. Jared made a list of all the people he is going to see in Bountiful and put an X next to their names: Trevr, grama Soozin, Broos, Jen, Leesu, Shon, Madisin, popu, Sweed, Cordr (Trevor, Grama Susan, Bruce, Jen, Lisa, Madisyn, Papa, Sweetie, Carter).

We hope you are all doing well and have a great Christmas this weekend.

Notes written by Jared
"Fon iz Brokin" (Phone is broken)
"Weer Closd" (We're Closed)

Quotes of the Week:
Jared: (We have a rule that you can't draw at the kitchen table- you have to sit up at the counter) "If you draw on the table you have to go to bed, even if mommy says to give you another chance. That's called a consekence."
Jared: (We lost Camryn after church last week and found her sitting outside the door to the church) "What were you doing Camryn? Were you basking in the sun?"
Jared: "It's really hard work... I have to exercise, make notes for people, make stuff. It's really hard work."

Camryn: "It's okay to barf. It's just an accident."
Camryn: "I'm sick, so I can't have big marshmallows. I have to have little marshmallows."
Me: "What's you're favorite part about Christmas?" Camryn: "Going to Grama Susan's house."

Me: "What's your favorite part about Christmas?" Jared: "First, eating lots of candy. Second, opening presents. Third, getting lots of toys. Fourth, eating lots of candy. Fifth, playing with the Christmas decorations. And the feast. I also like, hmmm, decorating the tree. I also like the candy canes and the opening presents."

When my husband comes home, if the kids are still alive, I figure I've done my job. -Roseanne Barr

Monday, December 11, 2006

Deck the Halls

It's been a busy, yet normal, week or two, so I haven't found a whole ton of inspiration for anything interesting to say. To be honest, I've been suffering from a severe case of writer's block. Having written a few updates that ended up being amusing, now I feel like I can't send an update unless it is side-splittingly funny. And nothing is less funny than trying too hard to be funny. I also am wondering if I should feel remorse at making my updates forever long and having unflinchingly included some of our not-quite finer moments- sometimes it is nice to at least have the illusion of a well-ordered life. Oh well.

On last Wednesday Jared and Camryn had a visit to the dentist. They both visited, but Camryn refused to climb into the dentist's chair, despite the fact that she has been to the "bentist" twice before in California. Despite her non-cooperation, they both got gift certificates for free kids meals at Red Robin. I took the kids there for lunch before Camryn's preschool on Thursday and it is now Jared's new favorite restaurant.

Last week we finally officially hit December. After weeks of pestering from Jared, we finally got most of our Christmas decorations up. We also celebrated by buying an inflatable Santa and light-up candy canes for the lawn (you can guess whose idea this was...). Yes, it's a little bit tacky, but the kids are SOOO excited about it. We have been trying for two weeks to hang lights on our house, but every single store in the Sherwood/Tualatin area is out of gutter clips, so we are still waiting to hang our lights. Last Saturday, Dave took the kids to see Santa fly in to Sherwood on a helicopter- there apparently wasn't enough snow for him to use his sleigh. Then the family went to see me (very briefly) perform a piano duet from the nutcracker at a local Christmas concert/show while ballerinas danced in tutus. Jared's favorite number was "Linus and Lucy" from "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

Later Saturday afternoon, we drove about a mile from our house to a Christmas Tree Farm and cut our own Christmas tree. We, of course, neglected to bring the camera and so missed an amazing opportunity to capture breathtaking views of Mount Hood and the Willamette Valley while the sun set. After an hour of very serious deliberation, several cups of complimentary hot chocolate, much complaining about the cold from the kids, and very muddy knees on Dave's part, we came home with a lovely Christmas tree. We had previously stopped at another Christmas Tree farm about a half a mile from our house, but the visit was cut short because Jared was wearing short sleeves and had neglected to put on his jacket (Okay- whose son is he? "Mom, I don't need my jacket. I love the cold.").

We crowned the momentous beginning of December celebration with a down-home dinner of Thai and Vietnamese food at our favorite place before I had to race off to play for a second Christmas performance. Despite Jared's protests that he didn't like Thai food (fickle children!) and wanted to go to Red Robin, as soon as we got our food he recalled that he actually did like it- especially the sweet pork, the yummy noodles and the fortune cookie (but he still doesn't like it as much as the chinese buffet that Grama Rogers took him to in California- there's no ice cream machine or watermelon at the Thai restaurant).

By the way, my fortune, which I am very proud of, said: "You have an iron will, which helps you succeed in everything." Amazing. How did the cookie know about me slamming my head against the wall as a two year old? I read Dave the fortune from his fortune cookie as we were driving out of the parking lot. Dave was asking me, "Which way do we go to get out of here? I'm kind of confused," and I read back to him, "You are about to embark upon a great adventure." Uh-oh. Despite the foreboding of ill-timed adventure, we soon made it out of the parking lot and I made it to my performance.

Apparently, the delicious meal we enjoyed on Saturday night had a very soporific effect (I learned this word from Beatrix Potter and the Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies. Who says you don't learn from reading children's books?). Last Sunday morning, we set a new record for our "lastest arrival to church in Sherwood." The fact that we were late would be much more shocking if I had not (in a state of semi-consciousness) snoozed my alarm several extra times and finally gotten out of bed when I realized (with an unfortunate jolt of consciousness) that it was 8:35 a.m.- and we have 9:00 a.m. church. Under the circumstances, I thought we made extremely good time.
Despite this unfortunate incident, last weekend we had an altogether relaxing and lovely weekend. I realized why it was so relaxing when I woke up Monday morning and saw Friday night's dinner dishes still sitting on the stove. Suddenly it made more sense. I also realized that while I have many talents, keeping up with the dishes is not one of them. By Tuesday or Wednesday morning, I had finally cleaned up the rubble and made our kitchen look nice again, but within the day, every dish in our house was dirty again. Another personal discovery... not only am I not talented at doing dishes, but I actually have quite a talent for getting them dirty quickly (I guess liking to cook helps that along). I recall from one of my teaching classes at BYU that people are motivated by the belief that their action will help them achieve a desired outcome. I realized that I am not very motivated by dishes or cleaning because countless scientific studies (conducted by myself) have proven that even concerted effort towards cleaning my house does not necessarily make my house look cleaner: in fact, usually it looks worse because the kids mess up something else while I am cleaning. So not cleaning is just a rational reaction to scientific data.

So on to this week.... This week I have spent working on Christmas projects and trying to finish up the last of the Christmas shopping. On Wednesday, I forgot my previous lessons about shopping with children and took the kids on a trip to Target. Armed with popcorn and lemonade, the trip wasn't too bad, but just as it was getting very late in the afternoon and we were about to check out so we could go home and make dinner (we had been there over an hour and a half), Camryn had to go potty. We left our heavy cart of stuff and made haste toward the convenient "Family Bathroom" located at the front of the store (which is much more convenient if you happen to be at the front of the store). Once in, I started to help Camryn onto the potty, still in a hurry to get home quickly. While Camryn is quite good at going to the potty, she has not yet mastered the concept of going to the potty with clothes on: she still strips down completely whenever she goes. While this isn't a big deal at home, this is less desirable at Target, especially when I'm in a hurry to leave. So I attempted to get Camryn to leave on her shoes and just pull her pants out of the way. This drew loud screams of protest that echoed through the entire bathroom and into the store. Wanting to avoid another accident, I pulled off one of her shoes and pant legs, picked her up and plopped her on the potty. Still screaming, she went potty, but then insisted that I take off her pants, both shoes and her socks, despite the fact that she was already done going potty. I was in no humor to do this, especially because SHE WAS DONE GOING POTTY, so I refused and Camryn doubled her screams in volume and intensity. Fed up, I put the pant leg and shoe back on my screaming, flailing child and carried her out of the store into the parking lot (getting a lot of very suspicious looks as I carry a screaming child from the bathroom outside). Then Jared started to get upset because all of our stuff was still in the store. After several minutes of standing in the cold, trying to reason with a screaming child in front of Target, Camryn finally calmed down enough for us to go back inside and complete our purchase.

Despite Camryn's occasional outbursts, she is usually very sweet, affectionate and fun to be around. She just put on her tutu and ballet slippers and she told me she is going to be a ballerina. Camryn and Jared are very excited about Christmas. Camryn has taken to sticking a dried cranberry on her nose and saying she is "Rudolph." They love to turn on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir cd and run in circles around the Christmas Tree to "Joy to the World." They also love Bing Crosby's "Jingle Bells" and our "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" cd. Camryn likes to help me put clothes in the washing machine. Both Jared and Camryn love to "help" me cook: they always ask if they can do the next "dump" of flour or sugar ("I want to dump it!" "Can I do the next dump?"). Last Friday they were thrilled because we made "pigs in a blanket" for lunch along with some "gingerbread man" shaped biscuits.

Jared is becoming a very good reader. He is starting to just see words on things and then tell me what they say (Mom, why does that sign say, "Do not enter?"). Camryn is learning a lot from watching Jared learn to read. One morning last week, I was in the kitchen and Camryn saw a bag of microwave popcorn that had been left out. She pointed to a word on the bag and said: "T-O-P, Tuh- ah- puh- Top!" This week Jared went to "Young Shoppers" at school. We gave him a little allowance and he got to buy and wrap Christmas presents. He was so excited about the presents he picked, that he couldn't wait until Christmas- he wanted us to open them NOW. He got Camryn a little stuffed snake, her new favorite toy. He got mom and dad a snowman plate and he got me a hot pink glittery magnet that says "Super-Star Mom." (He told dad he would have gotten him one too if they had one that said "Superstar Dad".)

On Saturday we finally hung curtains in our living room and hung a few more pictures (it seems to take longer for us to get pictures hung with every move- only 6 months this time). I decided that for now we are just going to live with our paint job; it really isn't so bad. After all, if puke-yellow mini skirts are "in" in London, it must be kind of fashionable to have pukey-olive greenish tan walls (they really aren't that bad- they just aren't exactly the "perfect" color, but I'm getting used to it and the desire to not paint again makes it look better every day).

On Sunday, we capped our week with a rousing primary music time (complete with bells and rhythm instruments), ward choir practice, top ramen and pumpkin pie for dinner, and a performance with our ward choir at the stake Christmas music fireside.

So that's our week or two. Hope you all are doing well.


Jared's Notable Quotables of the Week:

To Camryn: "Remember the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland. You were so silly. They were not real monsters; it was a radio saying "Raaar!"

"Just remember safety! I know safety means a seatbelt!"

J- "On the school bus I used to be the first picked up and the first dropped off. At school I used to be the line leader all the time: those were the greatest days of my life."
me- "Did you really like it?"
J- "It made me feel so great and special."

"Do you remember the Rescuer's Down Under? It's a good kids show. It gives you good ideas of how to rescue someone who is captured."

Camryn wanted a red bow (like the girl reindeer on Rudolph). Jared said (about the girl reindeer), "Rudolph fell in love with her. He thought she belonged to him, but she belonged to Santa."

"When I get a teddy bear from Santa, I will name him Ted."

Jared made 2 cards for me that said the following:
"Yoo or goiing sum wer spethl" (you are going somewhere special)
"diznelad ol uv us r kumiing" (Disneyland: all of us are coming)