Saturday, January 12, 2013

The 2013 Snowman

I really loved this year's snowman. His posture and expression made me giggle every time I backed out of the driveway and saw him. Very Calvin & Hobbes to me.
And they even made his hair light up! He lasted for a few weeks, but eventually his arms drooped and his mouth, and an eye fell out. Then he really had something to scream about.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Peterson Wedding

Saturday we drove back up to the Las Vegas temple. Last time I had been here was during college to go through the open house. Rob had come sometime not long afterward. Now all of the kids have been inside too. The kids behaved well while we were in the ceremony and then acted more like this once we were outside taking pictures. We convinced the S family to go with us on another harebrained scheme: to visit the Ethel M chocolate factory . . .
. . . and cactus garden. Yes, you read that right. Chocolate and cactus. The factory wasn't making anything on a Saturday, but they were giving out samples, so we didn't hear any complaints from the kids. And the cactus garden was decorated for the holiday season. Here is Will wearing his new suit and the bow tie that his sister gave him for his birthday. Handsome lad, that one, though he still can't smile for the camera . . .
Did I mention that Sebi talked me into buying him a suit coat? It is one of the ironies of life that I try to spare my three boys a whole lifetime of wearing suits, ties and white shirts (I buy them chinos and sweater vests and gingham and colored buttondowns) and all they want to wear are suits, ties and white shirts. So I caved for Sebi, but doesn't he look dashing?
This whole garden just begged the question: How do you get the Christmas lights off of a cactus?!
Me and Maddie and a classic sampler of Ethel M chocolates. Did you know that her name was Ethel Mars? as in Mars bars? As in MandMs? I didn't. This was the educational portion of our trip. That and getting to hold a stormtrooper's gun. In any event, that Ethel knew her chocolate. 
It was a good place to kill time and let the kids run around before we headed back down to Boulder City for lunch. I wasn't a part of it, but adults decided that the kids should sit together at one table and adults (and preschoolers) would sit at the other. We got a bit of blowback about it in the beginning, since the kids didn't know each other at all.
They warmed up to each other pretty well by the end of lunch, though.

See all of these wonderful people? We had a great time with them. All of them. And we realized later that we had exposed all of them to our stomach bug. In fact they'll be getting it right . . . about . . . now. So picture them all with bowls in front of them. And accept our sincerest apologies!

Joss and J-boo, making the most of the cutlery.
Mr. and Mrs. Peterson.
Our family actually left as soon as the lunch was over. Both Rob and I had to get back for church stuff early the next morning, and we felt badly about missing the reception. But then it turned out to be a good thing for everyone involved. Sebastian started feeling unwell in Cedar City, where we stopped for dinner. And then he lost everything in his stomach two miles outside of Fillmore (let's not forget that he helped himself to the lunch buffet three times here, and by his own admission had six of the mother-of-the-groom's most excellent cookies). 
It was really ugly. Rob and I tried to clean it up in the dark and frozen wasteland outside a two-bit gas station using shopping bags, Wet Ones, and shop towels and cleaner bummed off the cashier inside. And we had to change Sebastian's clothes and we managed to freeze everyone else in the process and yell at all of them too. So it was bad, but we did eventually make up and make it home and even get the car clean once again. We all spent the next few days being sick with one or the other virus, and I only  left the house for the first time on Thursday.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Las Vegas: the Strip

After Christmas we were headed down to Las Vegas for a wedding (more on that next). It almost didn't happen because Joss came down with a virulent stomach bug and we worried that it would go through all of us right during the weekend. But he was much better the day before we were to leave, so we decided to make it happen.
We stayed here. Isn't that a great vintage neon sign?! It was an original two-story motel, but made for families -- we had a suite for six people that we could only have dreamed of during several points on  study abroads.
We decided that since this was the first time the kids had been to Las Vegas that we'd take them to the strip. Only first we needed dinner. We checked out some places online and found a chinese place that looked good. After some tense moments looking for a restaurant in a strange town in the dark, we found it. Boy, howdy, what an epic fail! It was awful! A sad-sack place that hadn't seen a coat of paint since the mid-80's and served bland, colorless, MSG-filled slop. Ugh!
After that, we had to convince the kids that we had not lost our parental marbles. We drove toward the strip, followed some random SUV and parked behind who-knew-what hotel and complex. 

We walked into the Miracle Mile shops and a certain child grabbed my hand. Somewhere word had gotten out that Las Vegas was a "wretched hive of scum and villainy" and they didn't want to get left behind. Maybe it was that article in the VIA magazine that had been passed around the back of the van. Joss was absolutely fixated on a neon hot air balloon that he'd seen there. He kept talking about it and we kept assuring him that yes, he'd be able to see it once we got out of the Miracle Mile.
We walked outside and there it was! Larger than life and just like he said it would be! There's Joss and his hot air balloon.
We wandered over to the Bellagio across the street
and watched the fountains play. Even the skeptics had to admit it was pretty fun . . .

(There. That looked fun, right?)
We wandered inside because we'd been told that the conservatory was beautiful. Also, we were lost.
The conservatory was really lovely. It reminded me of the Garden Court at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco where we'd had tea at Christmas years before. Then we raced down several blocks, missing the volcano at the Mirage by seconds, and waited for the pirate ship battle at Treasure Island.
This was another epic fail, and after this the kids asked us to turn in our parenting licenses. It was first off, not the show that we remembered from 20 years ago. Second, it was skanky. To the point that the kids were telling us it was time to go. Third, our ballroom daughter turned to me in the middle of it and said "They're crap dancers!" and I couldn't disagree with her. Here's a picture of the ship on fire, which is the cleanest part of the show, and the highlight. They should stick with fire and sink the rest of it!
The kids were ready to go home, but we still convinced them to walk back on the other side of the street so that we could at least look at the outside of the Venetian and the Paris, which weren't even there last time Rob and I had been let loose on the strip. (Will is having a problem smiling for the camera right now. I can only imagine he's trying to make life interesting for any future wedding slide shows. Click to enlarge here if you think I am exaggerating.)
Grandpa had worked on the Venetian years ago, so we appealed to the kids' filial piety as well. 
They put on a good Christmas show and Rob and I at least wished we could have gone inside. Then we ran into a man we couldn't pass by:
an original Storm Trooper who let Joss hold his gun. Can you see the love in that kid's eyes?! He whispered to me as we walked away that he wants to be a trooper like that guy next Halloween (this is the highest compliment he can give right now; it also displaces Iron Man for Halloween 2013). I joked "That's just so you can have a gun like his" and he said "YES!!!"
So I'm afraid that while we did not impress our kids at all that night with our parental judgment, we did completely inoculate them against gambling, sex shows and Vegas. As we were driving out of the valley, Sebi said "Good bye, wretched place! You kept mooning me!"

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Boxing Day Exploits

 We got a lot of snow on Christmas Eve, and again on the 26th here. So before the plows had come around and pushed it away, Rob backed his truck out and pulled the kids around on sleds.
 I know, I know, like the potato cannon wasn't dangerous enough! I made him put on his hazards,
 and attach a flashlight to the kids.
And everyone had the time of their lives.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Christmas Morning 2012

 We found the basement-dwellers up before 6:00am, but Joss who had gone to bed late and not had a great night was still sleeping, so we told the others to wait until 7:30. I found them watching Mythbusters downstairs! But they were finally allowed into the living room.
 Maddie found a pair of ballroom standard shoes.
 The boys found Lego Wii games

 even Joss had a Lego Wii game!
 we stopped for a lovely breakfast
and Opa came by to share Christmas with us. It was plentiful and relaxed and felt once again like crossing the finish line of a great seasonal marathon.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Christmas Eve 2012

 The table prepared,
 kids blowing off steam,
the dinner,
 the tree, surrounded by gifts at last, 
 the children, read to, sung with, and pajama-ed,
and beloved.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Fourth Advent

 The last bunte teller before Christmas this year. The candles were all lit and this year we started a new tradition -- in between each round of eating treats we asked the kids to recite a poem, sing a song, or give a compliment. It worked well and slowed down the ritual to a more European speed.
 Because there was swim practice early in the morning on the 24th, Rob bribed the kids with Sharpie tattoos. Maddie's arm there says "H2O Angel".
 Sebastian wanted an advent wreath.
And Joss wanted to get in on the festivities. He got a water dragon on one arm, a flower dragon on the other, and this three-headed masterpiece on his back. In an alternate life Rob could have been a great tattoo artist! And the kids did actually go to swim practice, early, if not happily!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

McFarland Christmas

We got all the McFarlands together for traditional stacked New Mexico enchiladas and Rob gave a tutorial. These came from Great Grandma Dee. When the family pulled into Alamogordo NM, they found the firehouse holding a breakfast and serving these.
 The authentic way to serve these is with a fried egg on top.
Later we sang carols and exchanged presents before everyone went to their separate Christmases in SLC, Provo and Hawaii.