Saturday, September 20, 2008

Elementen Schloss -- the Destroyers

On Sunday afternoons, the kids and Rob build castles with blocks. The latest incarnation involves knocking them down too. Maddie just wanted to hang out and read her book, but she found herself in the line of fire. If I were a true McFarland I would make some wordplay about ducking for cover here.

Here Will is showing off the catapult, trying to knock the whole thing down. I just noticed the bones and muscles on this kid. It is hard to believe he was such a chubby, tubby baby. I am also partial to Sebi's pajamas here, with the red cape and washboard abs. They make me laugh every time he runs by. We have a direct hit! (Look out Maddie!)

A Third of a Birthday

Here's our third of a birthday boy. Just before we were going to light the cake, his auntie Boo showed up with two new outfits for him, knowing subconsciously as only aunts can that it was a specialy day for him. We got her to stay and eat cake.
He got one other present: the long-awaited high chair. The other three all helped me to assemble it. I hadn't realized how much fun it would be to watch them interact with the baby. They are good to him, and he's full of admiration in return. The high chair will eventually be for feeding, but right now it is mostly a place to put him down during meals. Very entertaining to watch him stick the silicone basting brush into his mouth. We go for simple joys around here.
Here Joss is lunging for the cake. Going for the chocolate and the fire -- a boy after my own heart!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Joss: the Four Month Update

I can't believe it, but tomorrow Joss is 1/3 of a year old! That went by in a sleepless blur. But I thought I'd better list some of his quirks and accomplishments while I could still summon them. First off, he's our first brown-eyed boy. Eye color is a sex linked trait in Rob's family: boys all have blue eyes and girls have brown. But there's a first for everything, no? Second, he seems to be more like Maddie than the other brothers because he just gets longer and longer instead of getting tubby like they did.
Joss loves to . . .
lie on a blanket and watch the leaves
eat anything his papa will give him
watch his siblings
take a bath
smash chocolate cake into his mouth; his eyes start to roll back in his head (he gets that from me)
watch his farm animal mobile (thanks Jen)
play with his crib activity center (thanks Nick and Jayne)
throw up all down your back and on Rob's hardwood floor

Here we are working on his inner couch potato
Joss hates to . . .
lie down in his stroller
sit up in his stroller
sit in the back seat of his stroller
be left out when there is a party going on
take a binky
take a bottle
lie down when he can sit up

Joss puts up with a lot, like getting dressed up by his sister here (but he looked so cute I had to take a picture). Of course, he gives as good as he gets. When she was carrying him around Costco, he gave her three hickies on her arm.
Here Joss is trying to decide which thumb tastes better. At one point (I just missed it) he had both thumbs in his mouth. Keep in mind that he doesn't suck on them. That would keep him quiet. He merely gnaws on them, anticipating all those teeth that will no doubt come too soon.

We like him quite a lot. We think we'll extend his trial period another four months and see if we can't work some of the kinks out of his digestion and schedule.

First Day of School

After three long, lonely weeks, Sebi finally got to go to BYU preschool. He's been bizarrely blase about the whole thing. He tells everyone that he's going to be in the same building as his dad, but doesn't seem very anxious or even curious about it. He liked his room and meeting his teacher at the open house. He enjoys going with his dad and his friend Ella to BYU. But he's not very forthcoming about what he does there. I spent 20 minutes trying to get something out of him on the first day of school. Even today when I asked, he said his favorite part is recess, and next he likes snack. It's a good thing they've got an observation booth behind one-way glass, or I'd never know anything!
On Tuesday, he started BYU dance. He's got a great teacher, and he's in it with Tomas, which helps in part to make up for not having Tomas at preschool this year. As an added bonus, his friends Victoria and Linnea are also in the class. They'll have a good time together stomping and stretching and hopping around the room.

Should I be Concerned or Flattered?

Rob has taken to photographing my cooking. Is it because he thinks I'm almost through that phase? Does he know something I don't? Maybe he thinks I'm going to lose an arm and want to look back fondly on the days when I could cook (and type on a qwerty keyboard, for that matter). This was tonight's punt: pear and gruyere pizza with caramelized onions. Dinner was delayed while he found the camera.
And the beknighted pie. Now that was the last time!

Gigi and Leo

We had stake conference on Sunday. It was the first time we've been to a televised event and I was skeptical, but I am sold on it. It's nice to have a bunch of first string speakers -- we had a marvelous talk by Marlin K Jensen, one by Ann Dibbs (which has had mixed reviews), a most interesting address by President Packer, mostly detailing Provo history, and finished up with Dieter Uchtdorf.
Afterward, we drove up to visit the great grandparents because it's hard to see them with the whole family now that we're on the 1-4 church schedule. Gigi gamely held Joss even though I think he's over her weight limit.
And here's Leo with Sebi, wearing glasses from the grandchild footstool. We caught them up on all of the kids latest happenings and heard what they've been doing.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

(From Rob) McFarland Reunion: McThoughts about our Family

Our fabulous (Great) Aunties, Donna and Marilyn, organized one of our all-too-rare McFarland Mini Mini Mini Reunions at a local park.

"What does it mean to be a McFarland?" Mary Ann wanted to know.

Well..for my dear Aunties it means trying everything they can to make the meeting seem welcoming and non-threatening so that the Black Sheep will come. I know this because I am the eldest son of the Black Sheep. Rog is not really that agoraphobic, he works with 30+ froofy college students ever single day. They worship him and regularly ask me how much fun it must be to be Roger's son. My Dad is a pleasant sort, if you can make it past the intolerable puns. But family fests are just somehow too...to laden with the sort of moments that shake him down to the sub-strata of his very being. So none of his sibs had more offspring there than good old Rog, but he sat at home and...drumroll please...did geneology.

That makes "What is a McFarland" trait #1: being part of a loving but always potentially volatile set of relationships. Dad shows up on his own terms, with a cookbook for MA or a zucchini in a bag. Typical McFarland. Still--we are all very often thrilled to see each other. Often.
McFarland trait #2: Check out those ears on Fluffy (oh, stupid nicknames are trait #3). Are those vintage Grandpa Oscar or what? The trait is not the ears--it is the physical, emotional, visceral link to Granddad whose charming, upbeat, smiling, over-controlling but heartfelt love still remains one of the central pillars of our emotional lives. There were no fewer than three great-grandkids named after him at this reunion, including our own smiley Josiah Oscar. With those ears!!!
Trait #4: A weakness for phenomenal women. This is, of course, our Oma, who still masters at least three of her seven languages even as she sinks into Alzheimers. She has recently found Love in the Lockdown Unit. Her new luva is named George, but she calls him Oscar for short. If I remind her that she already had a husband named Oscar, she points out that she had a cat named George. Checkmate! My Aunties are afraid that she and George will get a little too jiggy there in the enhanced-care facility. My reaction--you gotta get it where you can. She's already slipped back down out of the age of accountability, so consider it a Mitzvah, I say. Thoughts?
McFarland Trait #5: lack of physical agility. Thank heavens that we are breeding that out. The Jonses, the Bodens and the Bickmores have succeeded most admirably, and they have some excellent athletes to show for it. And the rest of us--like Sebi here, and Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dumber flanking Oma in the last picture --still have fun when being shown up by their sleeker athletic cousins.

Trait #6: Surprise and a kind of regret--when we get together, we are reminded what a phenomenal group of fun people the Macs are, and we regret not doing this more often. What trait is that exactly--underestimating ourselves? Forgetfulness? Recognizing all that we owe to these people who helped raise us and make us who we are?

Trait #7: Whatever McFarlands are, isn't it nice that there are so many of us, and that no matter how we grow, there are still larger-than life personalities that pop up all over the place, in all of these wacky, amazing kids. Nobody has stories like Grandpa Oscar--with his fainting chickens, barnyard races and "Baptizing thousands from one baptism" on his mission, but when Sebi (Or Alyssa or Oscar or Jesse or Jessie or Jake or Josh or Hanna or Hannah....) is 70, who knows what s/he'll tell our future (Great) grandkids?

Berry Pickers

For Labor Day, we decided to pick berries. Our game friends came with us, despite the fact that it was raining, and as Allen said, "They're lining up two by two over at our house. How do you think it will be in Mapleton?" It was muddy in Mapleton, and I have the minivan to show for it. But we also had lots of rain gear left over from the Berlin trip, so we suited up to try our luck.
It was fabulous! These geniuses planted thornless blackberries and we had a party with all 12 of us sitting in the rows and kuplink, kuplank, kuplunking away like Sal and her blueberries. It felt too easy to get at them since our usual blackberries are the wild prickly kind. Rob would come home after a day of wrangling the intellectuals and stomp through the bushes, coming back triumphant with a couple of cups of berries and a lot of war wounds from the thorns.
I thought that we might get a few pounds before the kids got tired. But having the friends nearby and no thorns to contend with, we stayed for over an hour and we got nineteen pounds! Yes, that's nineteen pounds of berries that we had to process, eat or freeze in the next 36 hours. That made for two batches of jam, several cups frozen, a cobbler for a friend, and a pie that I made to please my husband. It cost me a lot of money in the swear word jar, and I was only just able to warn Rob to get the kids out of the kitchen before I let forth with all of them. I'm afraid that he could still hear me screaming "I hate making pie! If you wanted a pie-making wife, why didn't you marry Marie Callendar!" and threatening to cut more vile sentiments into the vents. Unfortunately, the pie was pretty good.

And as is his custom, Joss protested wildly at being put into the stroller which we'd so thoughtfully brought for him and Leah. And he's protesting again now so I'll sign off.