Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Snippets and the 600th post

I'm a Sundance widow this week, which means that the kids get their feet rubbed with peppermint lotion at bedtime instead of their papa's amazing and raucous Kyle & Pablo adventure stories.
We're having some great conversations. Here are a couple:

MA: " . . . and someday you'll all be taller than I am and you'll get married and have lots of kids! I love grandkids. Babies are so fun to hold!"
Will: "You'll probably be off your rocker by that time."

Then last night:
Maddie: "If Cain killed Abel, how come he got the good food named after him?"
MA: "What food?"
Maddie: "Candy canes!"
Will: "And cocaine!"

Sebastian had his share over Christmas. Here's one I remember:
Sebi: "I'm glad we have a small house."
MA: "Uh, really our house is not that small."
Sebi: "I know. I like that our house only looks small on the outside and inside it's big. Because if you have a big house like Grandma & Grandpa or the I'*****, then robbers want to come in and steal your stuff. And you have to put up lots of Christmas lights. The worst is if you have a big house on the corner because then you really have to put up a lot of Christmas lights. Unless you're Jewish."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

J-Man & the Crimmas

Joss was at the height of his energy and powers this Christmas season. He love love LOVED all the outdoor lights and called them "Crimmas". Each evening he'd beg his papa to take him outside for a bike ride to look at Crimmas.

He yanked all of the garlands and ornaments off both trees, though I suppose that it goes without saying this third time around. He managed to break off a few branches in the front of our living room tree as well. We thought that we'd hung all of the fragile ornaments up high enough, but one of Joss's siblings taught him to throw small blocks at the tree. We lost two of our eggs from Prague and the tail of a glass bird that way :(

The man threw himself into learning all of the new Crimmas tunes. He liked "Fa la la" and "We Wish You a Merry Crimmas" (even the "What the heck is figgy pudding?" verse that the Macs sing -- the Professor is so proud). He loved "Crosty the Snowman" and we had to watch that video many, many times to get his daily dosage of "thumpity thump thump". His all time favorite was "Dashing troo de Snow" and he always insisted on two verses of same. I think that and the cold were the reasons that he stayed absolutely stock still on the sleigh ride (and thank heavens, because if he had been wriggling at that point, I would not have won the match).

I am mortified to say that I took him in to see the doctor two weeks before Christmas. He had been pitching things at people's heads, screaming at naptime and bedtime, and was leaving a path of busted objects and tears in his wake. I took him in hoping that we'd find he had a blazing sore throat or blistering ear infections. "Look," I told the pediatrician "I realize it's December and I realize that he's a two-year-old boy hopped up on sugar. But you're my last resort. Either he is in pain and needs antibiotics to clear something up, or we're headed for a week of sedation and duct tape." Dr. A checked him over thoroughly, but aside from a red throat, pronounced him hale and hearty. He did sympathize and offered that if hewas still acting this way mid-January, that he'd refer him to the psychologists across the hall.

I'm trying to imagine what a therapist might ask of Joss, and moreover, what he could possibly answer . . .
Tonight we returned home to find him clutching a candy cane in his sticky paw, the stool still pushed up against the pantry door. He held his prize aloft and said "I findaaadacandeeee!"
Yes indeed.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Thrift Store GIfts

Posted by PicasaWe agreed with our buddies in the the Isaak family that we would tone things down this year and shop for gag gifts at thrift stores. We gave them a Michael Jackson jukebox ornament that lets you moonwalk around the Christmas tree to "Startin' Sumpthin" and a Soul version of a trivia game. They, in true Isaak fashion, poured their whole hearts and souls into the assignment. After they found bathrobes and other strange fuzzy fabrics at the thrift store (including a "Grand Ole Opry" sweatshirt), the amazing K. fashioned the finds into huge, comfy "Ugly Dolls" for all of the McFarland Kids. The McKids promptly named them John, Paul, George and Ringo (although they all claim that their own pet is named Ringo, and the others are Paul and John and George).

Thanks Isaaks, for the fab four new family members! Even as I type, the children are nestled all snug in their beds, with fuzzy bright Ugly Dolls under their heads!

Actually, Fluffy must be missing the Christmas family crowd, because he hugs the orange one and calls it "Uncle John." John certainly deserves the honor--he spoiled all of his nieces and nephews into a nerf-addled stupor, and secured his "Favorite Uncle" status by a long shot.

Friday, January 07, 2011


In a little red box, Rob and my parents surprised me with a getaway the day after Christmas to Salt Lake. It was perfect! We took off right after church on Sunday and checked in at the downtown Marriott. We laced up our walking shoes and took off to see the lights. We walked through the Gallivan Center and watched the ice skaters, visited Temple Square and heard the sister missionaries singing carols, then hiked the Conference Center as high as we could go.

From there we wandered up into the Avenues, by way of the McCune Mansion, City Creek Park, 217 B St and on and on until we came to the Smiths, where we ran into friends and family and decided to buy dinner. Then we walked back to the hotel past the Governor's mansion and South Temple. By the time we got back it was cold slippery and I was starving. After we ate dinner in our room, we headed down to the hot tub and watched the frozen rink through the steamy windows.

The next morning we tried Lamb's Grill Cafe for breakfast and I got to take the Professor to the SLC library I'd wanted to show him for years. We wandered around more and checked out shops and took another dip in the hot tub before we checked out.

We drove up through the Avenues just because we could do it without anyone asking why and how much longer. We tried the Tin Angel for lunch and had scrumptious lamb burger and bread pudding that was like eating All Good Things with a fork. We stopped at Gardner Village on the way back home, and returned to find all the kids happily playing with Christmas toys. I noticed how much more relaxed I am after soaking in a hot tub a few times. I think that's going to be my 2011 New Year's Resolution: take more hot baths. My last book said to choose attainable goals. Check.
Thanks Mom, Dad and Rob for the wonderful vacation! It almost makes me think I might want to do Christmas again someday! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Sleigh Ride

After lounging around the warm house all day, we jumped into the car and headed up to Park City for a sleigh ride. It was fun to get out and see a different crowd -- the hardcore skiing/snowboarding bunch for whom Christmas is all about the snow.

Grandpa, MA and Joss. I think Joss looks like some sort of crazed Russian royalty in his hat. It was meant for someone larger than he, but he loves it, so it's become his signature piece.

Our horses, Cap & Nick. We didn't discuss Nick's size, since he was the runt here, but Cap is seventeen hands high. These were some monstrous beasts, snorting and steaming up the hill with all of us in tow.

The whole crowd on our two horse open sleigh. Our cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy cozy are we....

John, our driver, who grew up in the area and used to mine here in Park City. The Professor thought he was the best part of the ride--he used to work in a silver mine here, and knew the real, old, 'ungentirfied' Park City before Paris Hilton came here to buy mink muck-lucks.

It was absolutely beautiful at sunset and the lights were all coming on as we headed back to the car. We agreed that half an hour was just about right for a sleigh ride in the frigid Summit County air.

The Prof treated us to the traditional Christmas stacked enchiladas when we returned. The recipe came from his Grandma Thelma Waite Reimer, who learned how to make them at the annual Fireman's Breakfast in Alamagordo, New Mexico in the late 1940's. In this Shumway crowd there were even eaters adventurous enough to try them old-school style with the fried egg on top. Now that tastes like Christmas! (To a McFarland or a Reimer, anyhoo...)

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Tuesday, January 04, 2011


It can be hard to tell, but I think Christmas lived up to its billing here. Sebastian was tickled that he got everything on his list (legos, duck tape, and a nerf gun which he graciously subsituted for the requested air soft gun). A sadder and wiser Will pored through his stocking and was impressed with his hand grenade screwdriver, a watch, and a polar bear that pooped jelly beans.
Santa brought Joss a LightningQueen garage and it was gratifying to see him come back to it again and again throughout the morning.
Kiecoo passed out presents with the help of Sebastian. My breakfast was stellar (there's no picture, but it was a potato-rosemary strata and a pecan coffee cake and they both turned out marvelously)!

And there was nerf.

A whole lot of nerf.

Actually an appalling amount of nerf.

Um, yeah. Because we didn't have enough nerf before.

And even some other presents, like the hexbugs above. It was a good day, overall.

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Monday, January 03, 2011

Christmas Eve

By Christmas Eve, we had lots of family in town. And lots of electronic equipment going on, too.

The silver was shined, the table set, and the candles lit.
Grandma cooked our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of ham, cherry sauce, potatoes, rolls, spinach salad and bubbly.
After a marvelous dinner, we had the traditional Parade of Presents, where the kids bring all the presents up to the tune of Anne Murray's Oh Come All Ye Faithful and put them under the tree. This year it had the additional advantage of keeping Joss from ripping them all open before the big day.
We read Luke 2 and acted it out. We recited The Night Before Christmas. We sang Christmas Carols from sacred to secular. A few days before I had mentioned to Rob that this Christmas is going to be one of those that make up the residue of "holiday tradtions" in the kids' memories. Not to add any pressure or anything!

And we finally got the kids abed once they began pounding on each other from so much excitement.Posted by Picasa

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Koala Lou's Weekend Adventures

After watching The Gingerbread Man, I found out that we were the proud hosts of Koala Lou, the class's stuffed bear who visits for weekends and makes a report on Monday about her adventures.

Sebastian felt keenly the pressure to entertain and educate, and told us that he needed to have at least six or seven things to write down to keep up with his classmates. He obviously felt that we weren't leading a very interesting life. The long and short of it was that we dragged a koala bear to a lot of events that weekend.

We started out with the ward Christmas party where she fit in fine, but almost fell into some potatoes. Next we took her to a wedding reception at the Paleontology Museum (a funky, stylish event where Koala Lou was very overdressed in her furs) and we ran into one of Sebi's classmates. "Oh! You have Koala Lou!" said her father. Spoken like someone who had probably strapped a stuffed animal to his fanny pack during a snowshoeing trip.

The next day Koala Lou had to help with chores, because that's just how we roll. After chores she watched the kids make a trio of snowpeople, well-armed.
We took her to Sebastian's first piano recital where she heartily approved his interpretations of Jolly Old St. Nicholas and Sailor Jack. She also caught Will's performance of Hedwig's Theme and Maddie's First Noel and Over the Rainbow. All three kids came off awfully well considering how little practicing we'd been getting in!

Afterward we drove by the still-smoking remains of the Provo Tabernacle and watched the firemen try to take down one of the spires which had fallen from the southwest tower. Rob wrote to the church authorities as it was still burning, to tell them about the Adventsingen (which has always been held there in the tabernacle) and what it means to the German-speaking community in the valley. I'm choosing to remain optimistic that they will rebuild and do it quickly and in a historically sensitive way. Rob and Koala Lou aren't so sure.

Rob wrote to the church authorities as it was still burning, to tell them about the Adventsingen (which has always been held there in the tabernacle) and what it means to the German-speaking community in the valley.
I'm choosing to remain optimistic that they will rebuild and do it quickly and in a historically sensitive way. Rob and Koala Lou aren't so sure.

On Sunday, Rob, Sebastian, Daniela and I drove up to see Music and the Spoken Word with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in all of its regalia. As per annual tradition, it was an epic trip with I-15 being shut down and the ancient and befuddled tickettaking/securitynazi/semi-inspired middle management at the conference center nearly keeping us from getting in. Once we'd jumped through all the hoops of fire, though, they sent us down to the best seats we've ever had there: in the section behind the prophet, and two rows in front of the teleprompter. Koala Lou had never really heard of David Archuleta, but was impressed with his instrument, and approved the choice of songs. She felt, as Daniela and I did, that the dancers are too much, and bespeak an audience that is unfamiliar with musical concerts. Sebastian, though, loved the Oklahoma dancers, the Dickensian dancers, the music box ballerinas . . .

We also got to stop by and visit the Olsens and see the remodeling that's gone on at Gigi and Leo's apartment with its lovely views of UofU and the Capitol. It looks wonderful and brand spanking new.
Koala Lou then celebrated fourth advent with us, lighting the last candle and having some lasagna, salad and lebkuchen. Though I wished that she'd been able to stay for the incredible snowstorm we had on Tuesday, or the Christmas Carol service at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, which was a highlight for me and Rob, I felt satisfied that Sebi would keep his street cred after her weekend with us. Then I opened the folder and read the other entries from Koala Lou's past weekend jaunts. Mostly she had playdates and sleepovers. The highlight to that point was going to the Creamery. So I'm afraid that we inadvertently raised the bar on the Koala Lou weekend.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Sebastian's Class Play

Next Sebastian's class was putting on The Gingerbread Man. Once I had hauled Joss in by the straps of his overalls, I had a great time watching it because I knew all of the players. They gave us a nice pre-show of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (with noses), Jingle Bells (with bells) and We Wish You A Merry Christmas (in Mandarin).

Then they performed the play. I tried to take a video of Sebastian's part as one of the goats.

It was utterly charming and just what a parent wants from their first grader's class. I told Rob that it's probably not a good measure, but I feel reassured when my kids are doing the same kinds of things in school that I used to do. It makes me feel like they're on the right track educationally.