Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Big 4

It's finally here - the beginning of the years when Colin and Emil realize it's their birthday. I've decided that a friend birthday party on the 19th of December is the worst idea ever, but I still want them to feel appropriately celebrated. Somehow I had my act together enough last month to buy tickets to the Heber Creeper North Pole Express. (Not to be confused with the Polar Express. This train ride had nothing to do with the Polar Express.) But first! Cupcakes for the preschool classes on Thursday, the 18th!
I know what you're thinking. "Nicole! You're doing it! Four dozen beautiful, homemade cupcakes!" Settle down. I asked my lovely neighbor, Sara, if I could buy four dozen cupcakes made by her. Her's are more beautiful than anything I've seen in a store. She agreed. Because she is lovely.
Colin also had a gift exchange at his preschool class. He gave away silly string and glow stick bracelets. He got...handcuffs! I've purchased a lot of stuff in the last five months, put a lot of thought into every gift for every kid. Turns out all I needed to do was buy them each a set of handcuffs.
We started the birthday awesomeness with presents - their very own suitcases from Mommy and Daddy. Bridget got Colin the Red Power Ranger action figure and Emil a set of heavy equipment vehicles. What are those called? As a group, I mean.
After lunch, we got Bridget out of school right as her Christmas party was starting (the worst) and headed up to Heber with the kids for a ride on a real train. We were in line by a sweet old lady and her son who were there without any kids. They were kind enough to take a photo of all of us together.
A successful family photo taken by a stranger! A birthday miracle. Notice Emil is trying hard not to smile. Hmmm. We'll see how long that lasts.
It's happening...can't fight it any longer...
Cheese!

How could you not be happy on this train? They served us cookies and cocoa, we sang Christmas songs with Train Robber Annie, we saw deer out of our window, and then Santa came on the train to give everyone a jingle bell. It was the best.
 
We sang "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and Bridget got the partridge in a pear tree.
Afterward Emil was back to playing it cool. (That face he makes reminds me of Andre Braugher on Brooklyn 99.)
They said it would be magical, and it really was. I got a little choked up with happiness, in fact.

After going to the North Pole, we asked the boys what they wanted for their birthday dinner. Spaghetti! So we went to one of my favorite restaurants in Provo, Gloria's Little Italy.
The Provo City Center Temple is right out the window.
Emil wanted a sausage with a fork stuck in it like the clipart on the menu. They brought him about four slices of sausage with a fork in it on top of his mozzarella sticks. (Because of course he didn't order spaghetti.)
Colin ordered spaghetti and didn't get it immediately. This was his face. Every time he saw the waiters bring food to someone else, he'd wail, "AWWWWWW." Birthday boys get away with stuff.

I'm pretty sure this was the best birthday ever. December birthdays are so hard! This means I have to be awesome and get all the Christmas stuff done so that I can make a magical birthday every year. I don't know, man. Maybe I miss the days when they didn't know what was going on. :)

Friday, December 19, 2014

December!

Sometimes I check my own blog to see if there is a new post. Hahahaha! For real, though. I noticed I have pictures from stuff that I should post about so that I can report on the boys' birthday and do a shameful November book report (one book - but lots of TV). So! The December Birthday Party with Brian's side of the family. It's 75% our little family, so the boys and I got to bring a dessert (Magleby's chocolate cake).
All of Grandma and Grandpa's noise-making toys are out for the grandkids to enjoy. I found a volume button on this little train and saved a bunch of lives. My boys (and Nate and Brighton) insist on doing laps around the front room turning all of the stuff on. They LOVE it! 
Clearly Brighton didn't know the camera was on her, otherwise she'd be giving me the Death Stare.
Nicolette is the other December birthday. For some reason Emil couldn't blow out that one candle at close range. I think Colin tried to help, which is always a bad idea. Never help Emil.
The boys got hooked up with lots of presents. Nate picked out some monster trucks for them and made sure to get different colors. Smart man.
Remote control monster truck! (See all the musical toys on the hearth? Silenced for a moment.)
Mo is a careful driver.

Later that week Bridget had her choir concert at school. She was still on crutches at the time and when she hobbled onto the stage someone behind us said, "Awww, there's a little girl on crutches." We know how to add just the right touch to a Christmas concert. Sigh.
At 4:00pm the day before the concert Bridget handed me a note that said she needed to wear a button-down white shirt and black bottoms for the concert. Who?! What?! WHAT?!!! We don't have any black pants or black skirts for Bridget, so this is what she wore. I need more than 24 hours notice, people. 
The button-down shirt was for the purple bow tie. (We used a shirt someone handed down to us for the boys. It's a size 5-6. Good thing Bridget is small.)
This is the only photo of the concert that was in focus. Poor Clara is melting down in front of Bridget and I think this is the moment Bridget was struck with strep. Because that's what she had for the next three days after this concert.
A little crazy-eyed, but still cute. I see Sami uses rubber bands for bracelets too. :) Funny girls. Later that night Bridget got so sick with strep that she was crazy with the fever (an actual fever, not Christmas Fever, although she's had that all month). Crutches AND puking?!! Too much. She even had to miss my Christmas piano recital. It was a sad few days. But! That's over and we're never thinking about it again!

A little over a week later, Colin was deathly ill (we thought with strep, but it was croup - one trip to InstaCare on a Saturday and one trip to our real doctor on a Monday when Colin was still sick), it was the day of the Ward Christmas Party that Brian was in charge of, and Makenzie was here with her family for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert. We'd been getting ready for the ward party for a few months, so that was just a matter of execution and everything going according to plan (hahahahahahaha - I make myself laugh). By the day of the party, Colin had had a fever for almost 24 hours and it was obvious his throat was sore. He even lost his voice for a while. I was holding him (that's all he wanted) and he was trying to sing the ABC Song. "G. G. g. g. what happening me?" There were times when I was frantically busy and he would walk over to me and just stand in front of me. I'd never seen anything so pitiful in my life. 
But the cousins were there! Claire got sick, too, and she just wanted to sleep instead of go to a crazy awesome concert. But guess what? Bridget wanted to go and they had enough tickets so ta-done! Bridget ended up having the Best Night Ever laughing with Gabriel and watching the Sesame Street Muppets do their thing. I'm so happy that worked out!
I stole this photo from Facebook. Thieves! Robbers!
I stayed home from the party and ate some dinner with Ruby. We're BFF now. Colin and Claire were both taking naps during dinner time. When they woke up around 7:00pm, the four of us played games and watched fun shows. After about an hour of that, Claire asked, "Where's my family?" :) She sounded more curious than worried. At 9:00 I was putting sheets on the couch and getting blankets out and Claire asked what I was doing. "It's almost time for bed," I replied. "Oh. I thought we already had that." It was fun to have little ladies in the house again. Before Bridget left for the concert, she was in her room with Claire and Ruby and all the dolls were out. (Emil would come up to me with one of the Barbie-sized Disney princess dolls and a dress. He handed me Mulan with Belle's yellow ball gown to put on her. When I handed it back to him he tried to get the sleeves over her shoulder. Show some class, Mulan!)
The kids in my bed Sunday morning.
Too cold for a photo on the porch. My favorite things are; Ruby's nose and eyes above her coat and Emil's too-tight/too-short pants. He dressed himself! Makenzie and David had planned to leave in the morning, but then we talked and talked and talked. That's more fun anyway. :)
Sisters! I took off my tall shoes before standing next to Makenzie so that she would look taller than me. You're welcome! Aren't we festive? And, of course, my Christmas quilt. (That's my holiday sweater. Someone at church told me I looked like a Christmas tree. That person wasn't a kid.)

There! That's what we've been up to.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Road Trip for Thanksgiving

Several months ago I invited myself and my family to Melissa's house for Thanksgiving. They moved from Missouri to Arizona this year and it seemed like the perfect housewarming gift. :) I decided to make it a road trip (I'm pretty sure I didn't consult Brian on this) and spent the week before Thanksgiving getting ready. By "getting ready" I mean Bridget breaking her ankle, Brian getting deathly ill, and me trying to arrange car pools without forgetting about anyone. Also, making table squares for the Thanksgiving dinner table. Necessary.

We left for Arizona at 7:00 in the morning on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I wanted Bridget to see the Hoover Dam, so we took the Las Vegas route. This is what we saw of the Hoover Dam:
After that feast for the eyes, we saw nothing but a cement barrier. What a shame! We were on this bridge and we saw NOTHING.
Safety first and whatever, but that cement barrier ruined my road trip. Also, not taking the turn off for Phoenix and going to Flagstaff instead ruined stuff. The kids hit hour 11 in the car and kind of lost their minds. Before that they were content to take turns picking the movie and eating snacks. But! We finally made it to Gilbert and the COUSINS.
Bridget and Chloe disappeared immediately. This is what they were doing. :) My first thought when I saw this was, "That's a lot of pandas." Hahahahaha! No, my first thought was that we (I) made the right decision in coming.
Melissa didn't let me bring any food. "Stop trying to bring groceries to my house," were her exact words. For the turkey, she and Jeff participated in the scout fundraiser - which was taking your prepared turkey in an oven bag to a house where they have a giant pit on Wednesday, then picking up your turkey at 9:00 the next morning ready to eat. I was very into this idea before I ate the turkey. After I'd eaten the turkey, I had to know everything about this pit in someone's backyard. It was AMAZING. Emil only ate a roll and five helpings of turkey. (Emil also invited Lightening McQueen to sit at the grown-ups table.)
Yep - we're eating outside.
Brian made the gravy. It's a good idea to have someone who know how to make gravy at your Thanksgiving dinner party. (Although, Melissa's mashed potatoes were good enough to eat without any gravy.)
Emil is putting his first serving of turkey on his plate. (I think Chloe and Harrison are making sure Jeff doesn't try to sneak any sweet potato souffle on their plates. HA! More for me.)

After dinner I became single minded - I had to find a place to take a nap. So weird. I couldn't think about anything else! Too much turkey... The men watched football (not basketball...like chumps) and we ate pie later. It was the perfect Thanksgiving day. Thanks, Melissa!

We had late afternoon and evening plans the next day, but we had to fill some time before that. We went to a nearby park.
Oh yeah. Sorry, Bridget.
A thing about Melissa and Colin, they're besties now. Colin would hold her hand if we were walking anywhere. He kept telling me stuff about my "mom." I finally caught on that he was talking about Melissa. Hahaha! Since we've been home he has said things like, "I wub your mom!" and "Your mom likes soup, too!" Me: "You mean Aunt Melissa?" Colin: "Yeah!" Emil called Melissa my "friend" before and while we were there, but he calls her Melissa now. 
We did let Bridget play after a while. :)
A train!!
Chloe and Colin.
Miles and Emil - who will chicken out first?
At first Miles was hogging the ball and Melissa told him to pass it. "I'm practicing my dodging skills, Mom!" :)
Emil did not feel safe shooting the ball and this is what he looked like.

One of my biggest requests for our trip was that Melissa take our family photo. She took us to a beautiful park where all the other families were taking photos :) and managed to get our children to cooperate for a few pictures.
Brian and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary the very next day. That calls for a photo, I think.
That night we went to see the lights at the Mesa Temple. Such a different experience than Salt Lake Temple Square lights! They had orange and grapefruit trees and palm trees lit up (Emil called it the jungle when he saw the first palm trees on our way to Gilbert). We were in sweaters and light jackets. The crowd was pretty much the same, though. We lost and found each other a couple of times. It was so fun to see a different temple in the middle of all those lights.
Can you see Colin's ear?
Also unlike the lights at Salt Lake Temple Square, we went out for Hawaiian ice afterward at Bahama Buck's.
Cheeky. Emil loves the color yellow and he asked me to get him yellow ice. Banana is the yuckiest flavor in all the land, y'all.

We did lots of lazy stuff on Saturday. Melissa promised us lunch at a pizza place that has a fancy organ, which the kids were so excited to see.
But that place was closed, so we ate at Some Burros instead. Hahahahaha!
Little boys being lazy. Colin is about to throw that sock somewhere we'll never find it.

Brian, Jeff, and Harrison watched football, Chloe and Bridget did some damage with glitter (none of my photos of that worked - Melissa?), and the little boys watched weird cartoons on the computer while Melissa and I went shopping for our Arizona Christmas ornament. Fun! Then I waited and waited for BYU to finish playing football so that Brian and I could go out for our anniversary. We went to Joe's Farm Grill, which was delightful.

Sunday morning we got up and got ready to go home. It took a few tries to get all the kids to hold still in front of the house, but we got a porch shot. :)
I noticed in all of my photos that my kids are usually looking at me with the camera and Melissa's kids were looking at her. My boys look so adorable in this picture. :)
These two are always happy to pose for a photo. Ha!
Such cute friends.

I have a photo of Melissa and me that is totally out of focus. Sigh. Our ride home was nice and quiet. We had all the food we needed in the car and we only stopped for bathroom breaks and gas. Brian and I listened to books most of the time and the kids continued their movie marathon. We didn't take any wrong turns this time (we took the Flagstaff to Page to Kanab to Panguitch route on the way home). It was a success!!