Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fluffy Gets Mobile Technology

It took a long time for this kid to get going, but last Friday, it all came together for him in a big way. I set him down in the step down living room and went to get something in the kitchen, and suddenly he was there at my heels, having crawled over, climbed the stair and slid around on the hardwood floor, like a dog on ice. Later, I was sitting downstairs with him, and when I looked up, he was nowhere to be seen. By that night, I'd set up road blocks to keep him from licking the electrical outlets. Time to refresh the kidproofing! The same day he started to pull up and tried to cruise. He's not going to be satisfied until he's careening around like everyone else. Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 23, 2009

I guess I deserved that . . .

Last night Maddie made a sign and posted it on her door. She was really excited about it and kept asking me if I'd gone by her door and if I'd read it yet. After about five reminders, I did finally make it past her door and found a sign saying "Do Not Read This Sign!" which has been all the rage among her classmates at school.
Then Sebi decided to follow suit, and put a post-it on the door:
I read it and asked him what it said. "I don't know," he replied "I can't read!"

The Inauguration

On Tuesday, I was driving kids to school and I asked if anyone knew what day it was. It wasn't a tough question since Rob had put the Obama sign back up in the yard. Will piped up and said "It's immaculation day!" which it may have been, but I don't know what that is (sounds vaguely religious/sexual). I was pleasantly surprised that the kids got to watch at school, and he did get his terms straightened out.
We also got a message from our friend, Heather, hoping that we [poor, TV-less freaks] could find a way to tune in, and wishing us:
"May tomorrow be a perfect day/may you find love and laughter along the way!"
May God keep you in his tender care/ 'til he brings us together again . . .

Friday, January 09, 2009

Ode to Louise

One of the writing exercises that Louise Plummer suggests, is making lists. Since most of my writing involves lists anyway, this is fairly painless for me. And since cleaning out the car yesterday, I was determined that some good ought to come out of my scooping up diaper wipes full of childhood's detritus from the seat wells. So here it is, a list of What I Found in My Minivan, January 8, 2009:
Four library books: Dorothy Dunnett vols 1 & 4, What Presidents Are Made Of and Women in American History
One grass skirt
three lava lavas
one conch shell
one coconut hat
shell necklace
Trader Joe's hawaiian bag
an inflatable swim ring, large neon yellow
an inflatable swim ring, small purple/multi stripes
three green plastic frogs
one dark green plastic car
two cards
county tax assessment of our home
two size three huggies diapers
package kirkland diaper wipes
booster seat
baby carrier and base
baby car activity center
tennis ball
water bottle from UTA
lime green Lego car
purple carabiner keychain with dolphin can opener
Eucerin plus soothing essentials, sample size
purple Flylady "I'm So Proud Of You" pen (yes, wouldn't she be)
one orange piece of Lego Bionicle
green pencil from IKEA smallland for Sebi
ripped up gift box
three quarters and a dime
a fabulous red stroller
Phew! NOW the car is ready to take to the carwash. They say that I'm going to look back on this all with great fondness, right?

Link to Make Your Day -- Where The Hell is Matt

This link comes to you through the graciousness of Linda and Rinda, a truly dynamic duo. It isn't new, but for anyone who needs a four minute pick-me-up, you should check out Matt's worldwide dancing. It is amazing, and the soundtrack "Praan" is also a favorite at our house for the treadmill, cleaning the kitchen, or imitating Matt.
Rob is actually thinking of instituting a two minute boogie in th middle of the three hour film class this semester. This idea comes from friend Curtis's 4:00 Groove and also from Liz Lemon's One Minute Dance Party on 30 Rock. I don't know. Do you think the students will go for it? What will he play?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Buckets of Snow

As the local readers are already too aware, we've had a few days with tons of snow. At the beginning of Christmas break, it was like this all day long on Monday. This week on Monday and Tuesday, it was deceptively light snow, but incredibly persistent. Shoveling three times a day didn't help. It just made for very large snowbanks on the side of your driveway.

Which I stuck my van into on Tuesday while trying to avoid the truck parked directly behind my driveway. I managed to high center the back bumper on the garbage can at the same time. It was pretty spectacular. Sebastian said "What do we do now?!" and I told him that we get out of the car and go back inside, because that van wasn't going anywhere. My goodhearted neighbor rang the doorbell soon after, and he had a plan. It took three of us to dig out the wheels, push from behind and drive off the garbage can, but it worked and we did it without any plaintive phone calls to Rob or intervention from the car club. When the same trucks came back the next day and parked in the same place, I called my neighbor (a different one who was having work done on her house) and told her to let her workers know that they were dealing with a California driver. And one whose husband had said "If they want to park right behind you on a snow day, go ahead and hit them!" They moved the trucks post haste.

This was the first snowwoman Rob and the kids made. She was named Spirit of Aloha. She toppled over a few hours later.

But like a phoenix rising out of the ashes, they used her remains to create Spirit of Aloha II. She's had a much better run.
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Christmas at last

A few days before Christmas we found out that my mom would be joining us, along with my sister. It meant that we had more adults, more jigsaw puzzling, less work, and more stockings. A very nice Christmas surprise.
This was a very pretty table that I had nothing to do with. Rob made his tradtional New Mexican enchiladas from the Almagordo Fire Station breakfast where his mother's family first had them (albeit without the fried egg on top). He set the table and he always washes the china, crystal, and silver himself. Fantastic.
After dinner, the kids were so excited (and adults were already so tired) that we dispensed with all the cruel traditions and let them open their presents before the Christmas Eve program. They got their jammies (as seen above), and they opened their presents to each other (which we used to do in my family growing up).
This is really the first year they've had their own money to buy presents with, instead of just wrapping something I'd bought and putting their name on it. They took it very seriously, and I was so pleased to see how well they did by each other. Maddie and Will got Sebastian a Wall-E toy and that dinosaur he's holding (named Amy and hugged in bed all Christmas Eve). Sebastian and Maddie bought Will Bakugans, which were his heart's desire. Maddie received the pineapple lip gloss she'd wanted from Will, and Sebi bought her the pinkest, fluffiest slippers ever.
Both givers and receivers were so excited that I thought they'd levitating.
Once they'd changed into pj's we managed to have a much calmer program with songs and scriptures and nativity reenactment.
Here they were, let loose to see what Santa had brought. He kept a low profile this year, except for a bike for Sebi and a music stand for Maddie and Will. Unlike our friends, Rob and I gave the kids the Wii, and I was such a control freak that I hid it and made them open it last. Horrible, I know, but I didn't want to spend all of Christmas in front of the TV with kids hopping around while I tried to put it together. I am going to stand by the decision, because after I did get it going (in the afternoon), the kids began to play the Wii nonstop. They haven't stopped playing yet. They only have Wii sport and Lego Star Wars and the Indiannapolis 500, but they've been playing incessantly. Rob and I have barely seen them!
Here's Kiecoo, swigging the Elixir of Life to get her through all the noise, noise, Noise, NOISE!!!
We were visited by Rob's father and sister, and made a humungous mess of this place. It was a good Christmas, but I'm sure glad I've got another year before we have to put on the next one.Posted by Picasa

Our Totally Rockin' Sunbeam Christmas Extravaganza

Rob and I were asked to take over Sebi's class for the Christmas lesson. We were down with that since we've done Maddie and Will's classes both recently. We decided to take it from a wise person's point of view and so we made these awesome crowns and brought in our Fisher Price nativity set and taught them to sing "We Three Kings" and led them all over the chapel following the little gold foil stars we'd stuck up until we got to the nativity picture.
We've decided that art projects and dress ups are the way to go. You can see the kids thought so too. The crowns say that they are "suitable for a princess party or purim". Oy vey, what would they say if they knew where we used them?
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A Fluffy Christmas

This was Joss's favorite pasttime during the holiday season. He would roll up next to the tree, pull the lights off and shake them up and down. Then he'd pull them out as far as he could and roll around more on the floor. He managed to get them around his neck a few times. We have thought that he might be allergic to something because he gets such red cheeks and forehead, but now we've about concluded that this is merely rug burn. You see, he rolls around and when he wants to go forward instead of side to side, he has to steer with his face. He is still just on the cusp of crawling, where he's been for a week or so. Doesn't quite have the arm strength, although he can do a lovely down dog.
Here was Fluffy's first snowfall. His snowsuit has lost its mittens and booties, which I guess means that he's a poor fourth child. But he loved being out there with all of his siblings squealing and throwing snowballs and making snow angels.
And here he is Christmas morning, not even in focus yet, it was so early. His brothers and sister insisted that we wake him up to go see what Santa had brought. As you can see, he was game.
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Traditions of the Season

This post is just to remember some of what is going on at Christmas. This is our nativity set which Kathy bought for us our first or second Christmas. I love it, Rob loves it, it reminds me of the set I grew up with, and we both agree on it. "It's a Christmas MIRACLE!" as her husband would say.
Here is Maddie's stocking as made by grandma. My mom started making these when she was a freshman at BYU, sewing one for each of her parents as their Christmas presents that year. She bought the supplies on Woolworth's on Center Street. Now she has made them for siblings and in-laws and nieces and nephews and children and grandchildren. They've gotten more complicated through the years, especially once Rob was around with his ideas.
Have I mentioned that Rob is Idea Man? I've told him that if he were a superhero he'd be named Captain Brainstorm and his uniform would have a big BS on the chest with a lightning bolt in the middle. He's got grandma making more and more difficult designs. Now grandma and the Boston Shumways (who share some of the same designs) can rest easy because he's made pictures of each of the stockings. This is in case (heaven forbid) anything should happen to them, my mom can just whip them up again. He thought of this because of Dresden.
See, Rob's internet addiction is to live web cams in Germany, specifically restoring sites of historical significance. His employer and his family are happier with this addiction than plenty of others he could have, but it is still disconcerting that he can talk to you in great detail about what is currently happening at the plaza around the Frauenkirche or the plans for Berlin's new city palace for twenty minutes on end.
Actually, he could talk to you for forty minutes at least on either of those topics, but my eyes roll back in my head and my screensaver goes up after twenty. However, he was just reading about how they were restoring an olde building by the Frauenkirche and didn't have a single picture of one section, so they were having to fake it. He determined that this same fate would never meet our Christmas stockings and promptly took pictures to remedy the situation.
This was the traditional Christmas dessert at my mother's house. I'm sorry that I haven't done it justice here with my first attempt, but it's a steamed pudding, of the variety that the British eat, and are named things like Drunken Baby and Spotted Dog (and worse -- much much worse). It comes with two sauces, and my maternal grandparents just gave me two of the original dishes to serve it on. If you happen to have a dish with a lid suitable for steaming, and you want to try an interesting recipe, you can do it yourself:

Steamed Carrot Pudding from Eunice Nelson
2 cups raw potatoes (ground through fine knife of grinder)
2 cups raw carrots (ground through fine knife of grinder)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup shortening (scant)
2 cups flavored raisins (More or less as desired)
1 cup broken nut meats (more or less as desired)
2 cups flour 2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp soda 2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder 2 tsp salt
Cream sugars and shortening, add carrots and potatoes.
Add flour baking powder, soda, salt and spices.
Add nuts and raisins. Mix thoroughly. Fill greased cans or mold 2.3 full. Steam 3 hours. Remove from cooker and remove lids to cool.
1 cup sugar 2 cups boiling water
2 tbs cornstarch 2 tbs butter
1 lemon, rind and juice (I go easy on rind)
Mix cornstarch and sugar, add boiling water slowly, stirring constantly to prevent lumping. Bring slowly to the boiling point and allow to boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add lemon rind, juice and butter.
1/3 cup butter ½ t. lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar 1/8 ts. nutmeg
¼ tsp vanilla
Cream butter and add sugar gradually. Flavor . . .

My kids loved it, even knowing that it was full of roots and tubers. Go figure.
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Monday, January 05, 2009

I Think I May Have Forgotten To Mention . . .

that Sebastian broke his arm. He did it on December 1st, deciding I suppose, that getting a dead tree in one's Playmobil advent calendar wasn't enough excitement. It happened at recess at preschool when he (according to reports) slid down the slide and jumped off the side before he got to the bottom. They tried to reach me, but my cell phone wasn't nearly loud enough to hear over the din in the toy aisle at Target, so they called Rob just as he was finished teaching (his office is in the same building as the preschool). They'd had someone look at it who said it wasn't broken, so I stupidly believed them even though Sebi was really in pain.
Then I called our neighbor who is an ER doctor, and he graciously and generously hopped on his bicycle and made a house call since we had two sleeping boys. He was so good with Sebi. But he said it needed an X-ray, which was the conclusion I was coming to as well. We packed a bag full of treats and iPods and blanket and went to the ER. Rob took over and I brought the baby home, and he stayed for X-rays and then calling the orthopedic surgeon, who happened to be another neighbor of ours. Sebi got the so-called date rape drug which makes you stick your tongue out a lot and forget everything that's happened. He got it so they could set his arm (in case that wasn't clear) and then wrapped up his arm in an ace bandage around a funky solidifies-when-wet cast (uncle Jeff was disappointed that they days of cast artwork are over). The break was at the very bottom of his humerus, which is probably why it wasn't detected earlier.
We went to the orthpedic surgeon's office a few times, cut off some sleeves and wore a lot of Will's shirts (Will was very magnanimous, especially since we mostly used his church wear). Three weeks later the cast came off. Sebastian was disturbed by the flaky skin and his atrophied, lumpy muscle. But we lured him out into the snow where he forgot to baby his arm, and he was back to normal in less than 24 hours.
This makes Sebi our most daring child, now having had stitches in his chin, and a broken elbow. (I realize that this is all relative, but we're a pretty cautious, sedentary group.)
It was a blessing that the boys' matching Christmas outfits, which were never worn all together during December because of the cast, can still squeak by in January.
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