Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Survived, and surprised (but not really)

Aeryn ended up with quite the stash. It's nothing new, I mean, isn't that half of the point?

We went to pick Jim up from school and had the "I want to go by myself talk" to which Jim and I both said not this year. Then five minutes after we got started making the rounds we met up with some of our friends, Aeryn met up with some of her friends, and it changed into "sure." I think that made her night. Trick or treating without parents right there. Fun for her, sad for me, as now there are no in progress pictures. Oh well, I suppose it was only a matter of time.

Eugene is a little quirky, in case I've not said that before. I'm frequently the only mom who gives out real sugar and things packed in plastic at school parties. I'm still learning how to function in this completely organic and recyclable world while secretly wishing I was Martha. Looking through the stash, Aeryn ended up with cough drops and packets of Truvia. Someone must be highly anti-sugar, forgot to buy candy, or experiencing their first Halloween in the US. Too bad it's something we won't use.


Last night we carved our pumpkins. It was something fun to do while Jim stayed at school until all hours of the night. This term has been a busy one for him. It will be really nice once we get to see each other a little more than just watching one another fall asleep on the couch.

Aeryn picked out her own pumpkin and when we went to carve them she asked why mine was so much bigger. When I said that she could have picked a larger one and could even carve the big one she said "no thanks" and then once again inquired as to why hers was smaller. Oh, children. I'm not the best at coming up with jack-o-lantern ideas so we sat the computer on the table next to us to browse. It took all of 4.35 seconds to find a Hello Kitty template she wanted and a face idea I was willing to modify. Then the de-gooping began.

I don't think anyone truly loves this part of the process.

Aeryn had no fun at all. Can't you tell? How about the orange pulp on her face from where she'd rest her cheek on the pumpkin while yanking out the goop? Cleaning out a pumpkin is a whole body experience.

After I helped her transfer the template to the pumpkin she did all the cutting herself. I've got to say that she was the most focused I've seen her on a project like this. Especially since it sometimes got challenging. The outlines were loosely followed, but it was enough that at the end of it she got really exited and said "It's even cuter than I thought!" Then she attacked it with a sharpie and was even happier.

Yes, mine is pretty plain. I'm sort of a traditionalist that way, or boring, I'm not too sure which :)

It was worth it to see how proud she was of the finished product. This cutie couldn't sit still she was so happy. Can you believe I didn't think to use the *real* camera to get a picture of this? So now all I have of the moment is a crappy phone picture taken in really bad lighting. It's still cute though.

So far we've attended two Halloween parties and I must say, not having to make a costume for her this year has made it so much more fun. Monday I spent the day with my friend Rileigh baking up some treats and we seriously had a blast. I think all holidays should involve silly creative time with friends. On a side note: I'm ridiculously giddy over my skeleton/chalk outline dead people cookies (and the Harry Potter ghost, "granite" headstones made out of fondant, and R's bloodshot eyeballs). I used these ABC cookie cutters and it was awesome to see people at the party really truly believe they had bites taken out of them. Next year maybe I'll make them look like zombies who have lost limbs. Oh, simple joys.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Frankie Stein

After last year, when I finally made a Halloween costume and fulfilled my life's fantasy, I've decided I never need to do it again. Then again, I'm not sure Aeryn wants me to anymore. She is really into Monster High right now and her dad sent her a costume for this year. They looked at pictures on the computer as they were video chatting and narrowed it down to this one. Once my big concern (modesty) was met I gave the go-ahead. Aeryn is in heaven.

In case you aren't familiar with Monster High, the characters are all teenage kids of Monsters - Frankie Stein, you guessed it, is the daughter of Frankenstein. Aeryn has two of the dolls that she purchased with her own money; Lagoona Blue who is the daughter of the sea monster, and Abbey Bominable who is the daughter of the Yeti.

Tonight was the Harvest Festival at her school. Since kids are not allowed to wear costumes to school they do this evening activity to indulge the kids, though it is nothing like the Halloween parties we had at school when I was a kid. There's no foggy dry ice punch, or candy, or anything remotely commercial. There were crafts in the cafeteria, a dance party in the gym, local apple tasting, and a costume parade. The kids had a blast, which makes me think I'm the only one who misses the sugar and the fluff.

Enamored with the wig, Aeryn has begged to wear it to school every day. Since the answer was "no," she's now resolved to do her hair like this in junior high. We have an agreement that once she's in high school she can dye her hair if she wants. I sure do hope this isn't in fashion when we get there.

Happy {almost} Halloween from Frankie Stein!

Friday, October 26, 2012


Here I go again, blogging events I wasn't around for. I'm going to go on a limb and guess the grandparents appreciate the pictures regardless of if I have anything witty to say about them. When Jim was back in Cali, he had the chance to take Ellie to a Halloween party at church with a bunch of their old friends. She made the cutest Supergirl ever, wouldn't you agree? Evidently, Ellie wanted this costume in part because of Aeryn's batgirl costume last year. Ellie had fun wearing the cape and belt around this summer, but I have to admit I think the boots make this costume far and away more adorable than batgirl.

Sometimes this girl's silly faces just crack me up.

She has this super-pose down! There were several pictures of her standing almost exactly like this. I hear she had a marvelous time and ended up with loads of candy. What could be better?
Happy {almost} Halloween, from Supergirl!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ellie's Celebratory Weekend

Perhaps I shouldn't be the one to blog this. I mean, I wasn't there {Insert completely distraught face here}, but Ellie had a pretty spectacular birthday weekend as far as I can tell. Jim and his mom both went out to Cali to see her and it was quite a busy few days. Like a sneaky wife I swiped the camera back so I could peruse the photos while the hubs is at school/work (skwerk?).

The party was held at the home of our awesome friends and included the "normal" SoCal crowd, including some kids that Ellie has known for pretty much forever - in 6 year old terms.

Aren't they all just so darling?

There was a pinata, of the ribbon-pull variety, and it was naturally a highlight of the day. That was clear in all the chaotic kids-scouring-the-ground pictures.

They attended a birthday party the night before for the dad of the host family and there was a ton of cake left over. Instead of loading everyone up with more cake than their britches could handle, Ellie got her own fantastically decorated cupcake and everyone else got leftovers. Since Grandma had brought cute candles to adorn a larger sugary concoction, they all got crammed onto Ellie's one little cupcake. Pretty darn cute, if you ask me.

A great day for a fun little girl and her fun little friends. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Jogathon 2012

It was time for the school's annual jogathon. Jim was able to take a break in the morning so we could both go cheer on Squirt. It was a completely different experience this year, but she still managed to hang out with her "best friend" of the moment.

The fifth graders were given a one lap head start, so the fourth graders watched anxiously to begin.

Every lap she would look for me to make sure I was watching and taking pictures.

I'm a little glad she still likes me (most of the time) and is happy for me to know what is going on with her school life.

The kids would all jump to hit the balloons with each lap - it was pretty cute and often rather humorous.

I didn't get a shot at the end, but she did 16 laps again this year. Last year she ran more and then hung out at the water table between laps. This year, she walked more than she ran. I'd say two full miles is a pretty good achievement for a kid.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ellie turns 6!

It's been a whole year {I just can't believe it} and once again Jim is off to Cali to celebrate Ellie's birthday. Aeryn and I didn't get to go which is a bit of a bummer. We were really hoping to make it work this year but we truly thought I'd have a job by now and so many other things, all of which mean that Squirt and I get to celebrate from afar. Though we are scheming up some belated birthday joy over Thanksgiving to make up for it.

This year has been grand and really full of great times. We've had so many awesome adventures as a family and things are working great. Even friends are noticing the way things are smoothing out and have commented how well the girls play with each other now compared to a year ago. The age difference is showing up a little bit and they bicker just like real people who are no longer just trying to keep each other happy. I love it.

In keeping with last year's birthday post, here is a smattering of my favorite memories from this past year with my Jellie-bellie. She's grown up so much, and is quite a little genius. We worked on reading and math this summer just so she could go to the first day of school and knock the other kids out of the park - but who's keeping score?

At Christmas we gave the girls matching pink UO shirts and headed to a basketball game. Somehow, after little-kid-flirting with Puddles, Ellie ended up with one of the varsity cheerleader's pom-poms. It seems Puddles didn't realize she was going to run off with them as he followed soon after to reclaim them.

In February when Ellie was smuggled in to surprise Jim for his birthday, we all went to a BYU vs. Portland basketball game. On the way there, we blasted Dynamite while doing all the Just Dance moves we could while sitting. It was awesome.

Over spring break we played outside with neighbor kids and Ellie would ride this bike around the common area. Every lap she would make a silly face for the camera and then when she made it back around I would show her the picture. She kept this up for quite a while and always upped the ante on the silliness.

Also over spring break, Aeryn caught this ladybug and Ellie was completely enraptured. After it flew away she enthusiastically yelled "Woah! I did NOT know that ladybugs can FLY!"

There are no words. I honestly laugh every single time I look at this awesome picture. This quickly passing moment was in the Yellowstone lodge while eating ice cream with Grandma & Grandpa. This is my very favorite Ellie-picture of the entire year.

After a day of hiking when the girls were fading, Jim started catching the kids as they would jump off these rocks. Ellie is fearless and it was so fun to watch them play.

While not technically at all an Ellie picture, this reminds me of when we were watching Jim run the steeplechase. Ellie would yell and cheer as loud as can be as he rounded every lap. Almost every other spectator near us asked or commented about how well she can project and commented that he's most likely to win the thing with someone like that cheering him on. We had so much fun.

At the end of summer we took Ellie to the Redwoods (at her request). While hiking and checking off things we saw for her Junior Ranger badge, we found this snail on the side of the trail. She loved looking at it until Jim tried to get her to touch it. This face perfectly captures how nervous she was while trying so hard to "smile for the camera" like I asked.

In keeping with the squeamish feelings about touching living things, she finally touched a sea star! In perfect Ellie style, once she touched it there was an immediate maturity that surfaced and said matter-of-factly that it was no big deal. Then she proceeded to bounce off the walls all day elated that she'd actually touched it.

Our weekend in Astoria was one of the best family trips ever. This hill was wet (it was raining after all) and my favorite Ellie memory here was as we were walking down the hill. The girls were running and Ellie slipped and fell on her bum, then looked back at Jim and I just laughing like it was the most hilarious thing ever. From then on she would run and "fall" all the way down the hill as though it was the world's biggest slip-n-slide.

As she was getting ready to go home at the end of summer, Ellie decorated a picture frame for her mom's birthday. We went outside and tried to get at least one silly one to include and she was a total ham. Posing, and smiling as though she was Giselle. The best part was when she looked at the pictures. Once she saw this one she bounced up and down on her toes literally squealing at how cute it was.

So Happy Birthday, little ladybug! I can't wait to see what adventures this next year brings.

Monday, October 1, 2012


What a crazy weekend. In all, we drove 1800 miles between Friday at 3:45p.m. and Monday at 3:15 a.m. This was spurred in large part in entirety by a crazy antic some friends pulled last summer. Two days before we were getting married Jim got a text that went something like this: "Hey, if my beautiful wife and our 4 awesome, handsome, and charming boys cram into the minivan for an extremely quick and unprecedented weekend jaunt out to Utah, could we possibly grace your marriage and wedding dinner with our presence?" To which we responded "Heck yes!" Or something like that...

These same awesome friends just had baby #5 (another handsome little boy) and we figured that we ought to return the favor for the little guy's blessing day. After some scheming (with the help of other awesome friends who also have a new baby) we planned ahead so we could be spontaneous. This weekend was the time, so we pulled out all the stops and went for it. Since it was to be a brutally quick trip with the potential of being brutally boring to the under 5ft. crowd, the only car rule was that there were no rules. Aeryn could eat/play/sing/watch whatever she wanted in order to pass the time.

We landed at stop #1 at 4a.m. Saturday morning. After 3-4 hours of sleep and getting to love on a week old baby (I love me some baby snuggles!), we picked up Ellie and headed for a day of adventuring. Would you expect anything less of us? So we checked off National Park #25 with a boat ride to the Channel Islands.

This is where the trip went from "completely awesome already" to "what a terrible mom I am!" The excitement was high and we were all thrilled, and then we got on the boat. Somewhere in our haste of packing lunch, towels, water shoes, camera, water bottles, etc. I completely forgot to think about the fact that Aeryn gets motion sick. Very, very, motion sick. Let's just say the last 3/4 of the boat ride wasn't so fun for either of us and I'm truly grateful for the kind stranger who gave us Dramamine. Jim and Ellie spent a good chunk of the ride getting splashed on the deck and having a marvelous time. Ellie sure loved the boat ride!

The Island of Santa Cruz has some remaining buildings from earlier inhabitants. When we explained what the holes in this bench were for Ellie got very concerned about how they washed their hands afterward and asked about it for at least five solid minutes.

The water was beautiful. It was very windy and we could see the path of the wind in the way the wave pattern curved across the surface.

The girls were a little silly as always, which I confess is one of my favorite things. As much as I stressed over family pictures, I'd be perfectly content if every picture we had of them looked something like these.

The girls really hoped to see some animals and at the end of our hike we waltzed through the campground where these little island foxes were gallivanting around with reckless abandon. They are clearly not afraid of anything, despite the fact that they are about the size of a small house cat. The girls both say this was their favorite part of the island.

And naturally, they both became junior rangers. Sort of. The ranger kind of pushed us through which meant that they both got the badge once they'd finished the req's for Ellie's age group. Aeryn got off easy with this one.

The girls splashed in the water and watched the kayakers then it was time to get back on the boat to come back to reality. 

We finished off Saturday by visiting friends (and holding a baby) and then visiting other friends until we collapsed that night from exhaustion. Sunday we were honored to be a part of the baby's blessing day and then we hopped right in the car to come home. Without taking any pictures of babies. Unfortunately. 

I feel like I've come into the best friends-in-law you could imagine. Jim knows some really incredible people and I'm having so much fun getting to know them all better. Even with today's fatigue, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't take too much to convince us to do this again.