Thursday, June 15, 2017

4! (And 3*)

(It's not that she's all ashamed of her age, it's just not my place to go splashing it around online and such.  I also realize I did something similar last year.  How old even are we?)

Quick, before it's June!  Um... before it's July?...

We had two more birthdays!  It's tricky how the kids' birthdays fall within just days of our own, but it does simplify things when you get behind on blogging about it, which, let's face it, is the most important thing (it is 2008, right?  People still blog?  Well, I do, now and then anyway).

So this year it was all a big to-do to get things sorted out because The Boy's birthday was actually on Sunday and The Wife's birthday was on Saturday but we wanted to have his party on Saturday, so then do we just switch completely this year?  But then when he goes to church will he be confused when we're like SHOUT HOORAY! and he's like, but it was yesterday??  And then does Julie not get presents on her actual day but then has to wait until HIS birthday and then HE doesn't get any on HIS actual day???  As you can see, it was a web of confusion.  So we ended up just kind of mashing them together -- fun cousins party on Saturday afternoon with delicious car cake, saved a few of his presents for the actual day and did our best to explain, then longsuffering Mommy was just patient and opened hers and had her amazing Lucky Charms marshmallows cake the next day.  It was a fun and busy weekend, but it might make things easier next year when the days are different, but who knows?  Anyway, here are some pictures!  Again in mashed-up style:

So much fun at his (first?) official birthday party!  The KSL sandbox was a huge hit, and the slide from Auntie Jellyfish was even bigger.
Leeeeeet's just get a better look at that amazing cake.

He bought Blaze with his very own birthday money!  I think he was pleased with his purchase.
Cute birthday girl.  I kind of dropped the ball this year, but I will make it up to you!

Leeeeet's just get a better look at that cake too...
And so, just like that our boy is 4.  For some reason this is an age I always remember my younger sisters being, so maybe there's something about this age.  Anyway, he's a great kid and amazes me all the time with how much he knows and retains and grows and loves and shouts.  Here's the Insta slideshow:
One day, Boy... One day.

Having so much fun at the carnival!  He's getting more fearless as time goes by, but he's still pretty cautious about certain things.

He loves Cousin Jack (and not just because of the cars he often so nicely brings) 
His faces!!!  So fun to visit Great-Grandma in Logan.

I kept these Atlantis figures in their boxes for yeeeeears after buying them cheap at the WDW Cast Member store, only to open them up so this guy could enjoy them.  Worth it.

Did I say he's still cautious?

Anything with wheels!

With wheels and lights?  Even better.

He often says cousin Link is his best friend.

Potty training was kind of a fiasco but The Wife (with help from Daniel Tiger) prevailed!  She is amazing, because thiiiiiis was pretty bad at first.

Going to work!

Dressing his friends for nap (which he only very occasionally takes anymore).

Super Boy!  Love those sidekicks.

This might have been the best thing ever for him so far.

Where did our baby boy go???

We wondered how he would do in Primary... and he did perfectly fine.  I wonder if it helps that I'm in there with him?  Or maybe hinders... Anyway, Kitty is the Primary mascot and usually sits on the piano, and he finally was "ready" and started singing a couple months ago...  Maybe one of these days he'll sing around the house or at bedtime with us.

Helping Mommy with her knitting.

Helping Daddy with the painting!  He's a good helper.

Life changed forever after experiencing Chuck E. Cheese's.

All tucked in for movie night!  We needed to rewatch the original Beauty and the Beast for reasons, and he's loved the books for months so it was time.
Neighbor Renner gave him a turn of his very own!  Again, the best thing ever... until it was time to get off.

A year later and his teeth are looking just great.  Amazing.

Taking a turn at Nana's watercolor station.  He's actually becoming quite the artist.

True to his Asian roots, he knows exactly how to use chopsticks (which of course Hmong people don't even use).

The arts!  The letters!  This boy.
There you have it!  Mostly these are for me/us to enjoy and look back and remember things but if you made it through hopefully you enjoyed it too.  Our boy has some real highs and lows in his toddler emotional roller coaster, but mostly highs, and he's even getting easier to reason with, which is refreshing, since Baby Girl seems to be going just the other way in some respects, ha.  He's handsome and clever and bright and loves life so much, it just makes me want to match his energy and joy and exuberance, which we do our best to do.  He's a great big brother and a good helper around the house and a delight in Primary.  His voice gets increasingly not only louder but also higher the more excited he gets, but I love how he uses words ("we goeded" "I learneded" "I playeded"). He loves visiting aunts and uncles and cousins and always wants to go to a "fun place" (wherever that is, usually anywhere will do) when I get home from work.

Until next time!  We love our boy.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

2! (and 36)

Quick, before it's April!!!  Oh wait... Before it's Easter, then?

We had our Smoochface's big #2 birthday a few weeks ago (and her checkup just last week -- all well and healthy, though she was no fan of being laid down on the examination table... being examined in our arms was no problem) and we're only just starting to realize we can't really call her Baby anymore, though of course we still do.  She's sweet and funny and chatty and really active (her jumping!  Hahaha) and she loves being outside and eating what and how much she's in the mood for, she's sleeping great and happily when it's time.  We had a bit of a recent false start with potty training, but she's definitely on schedule to be ahead of Big Brother when it comes down to it.  She loves Nursery and Foxy and books, and she would gladly sit in the little swing on the playset for hours and hours on a nice spring day.  She can be quite vocal about letting everyone know when she's upset about something, but she takes a few minutes of quiet time and cools down and all is smiles and sunshine.

Blurry but still cute.  She loves her mommy (but she loves me too).
They love to toy store so much.

Always always loving books. 
Introducing Bear to bear.
Free Zoo Day is the best, but that poncho is even more best.
She was really into the lion statue.
Her first real visit to the movies!  She walked up and down the stairs a bit but she was quiet and squealed with glee every time one of the very recognized songs started.
After a year of listening, meeting The Girl at last
She might not have been a big fan of the cake this year but we sure were.
 Oh my, she's such a scrumptious smooch.  Lately I've been wondering if she'll end up being our only girl for some reason or other, but if she does, she's a good one.

 Oh, and this happened too:
Work is so nice about celebrating birthdays.
This is so fun.  I died of dysentery on my second turn.  So, you know, just like the real game.
Amazing cake, anxiety-ridden movie experience, new running gear. 
I turned 36.  *confetti*

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Blogkeeping -- Summer/Fall 2016

Blogkeeping again!  This one isn't as way past due as other previous editions.

100 movies from March 2016 (bottom) to December 2016 (top) - some lame remakes and lots of shows?

Pollyanna (2003) ** 1/2 • Anne of Green Gables (2016) ** • Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X (Season 33) **** 1/2 • Galaxy Quest [r] ***** • Poldark (Season 2) ** 1/2 • Bartok the Magnificent [r] *** 1/2 • Anastasia [r] ***** • Doctor Strange **** • Finding Dory ** 1/2 • Moana ***** • Mortal Kombat [r?] *** • Independence Day: Resurgence ** 1/2 • Star Trek Beyond *** • The Shallows **** • Ghostbusters: Answer the Call *** • Insidious: Chapter 3 ** 1/2 • Serenity [r] ***** • Mascots *** 1/2 • Haters Back Off (Season 1) *** • Insidious: Chapter 2 *** 1/2 • Alice Through the Looking Glass ** • Jurassic World [r] **** 1/2 • Billy Elliot The Musical Live *** • X-Men: Apocalypse ** 1/2 • Now You See Me 2 ** 1/2 • Me Before You ** • Love & Friendship ** 1/2 • The Legend of Tarzan **** • Goosebumps [r] **** • The Darkness ** • My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 ** 1/2 • Jem and the Holograms * 1/2 • Dracula Untold ** 1/2 • Les Miserables in Concert: The 25th Anniversary (2010) **** • The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business (Season 18) [r] **** • Les Miserables (2012) [r] ** 1/2 • The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall [r] *** 1/2 • The Phantom of the Opera (2004) [r] *** • The Huntsman: Winter's War * 1/2 • Wolf Hall (mostly) *** • The Amazing Race: All Stars (Season 24) [r] **** • The Jungle Book (2016) ** • Alien *** • Stranger Things (Season 1) **** • The 5th Wave ** • 101 Dalmatians [r] ***** • Suffragette **** • War and Peace (2016) **** 1/2 • Endeavour (Season 3) *** 1/2 • A Very Brady Sequel [r] **** • 10 Cloverfield Lane **** • The Intern *** 1/2 • Star Wars: The Force Awakens [r] *** • The Peanuts Movie [r] ***** • Scre4m ** • Pride and Prejudice (2005) [r] *** 1/2 • Pride & Prejudice & Zombies ** • The Amazing Race (Season 23) [r] **** 1/2 • Zootopia *** • The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Season 2) ** 1/2 • Gotham (Season 2) *** 1/2 • Grimm (Season 4) ** 1/2 • The Big Year [r] **** 1/2 • Survivor: Khao Rong - Brains vs Brawn vs Beauty (Season 32) *** 1/2 • Bates Motel (Season 4) *** 1/2 • The Brady Bunch Movie [r] **** • Creed ** 1/2 • The Amazing Race (Season 28) *** • The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Season 1) *** • Captain America: Civil War *** • Concussion **** • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 [r] *** 1/2 • Project Runway All Stars (Season 5) *** 1/2 • Carrie (2013) *** 1/2 • Documentary Now! (Season 1) *** 1/2 • The Spoils Before Dying *** 1/2 • The Black Cauldron [r] *** 1/2 • Daredevil (Season 2) ** 1/2 • Victor Frankenstein ** • In the Heart of the Sea *** • Everest *** 1/2 • Up [r] *** • Brave [r] *** 1/2 • Inside Out [r] **** 1/2 • The Good Dinosaur ** 1/2 • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 [r] **** • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 [r] *** 1/2 • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire [r] ***** • The Hunger Games [r] **** • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh [r] ***** • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ** • Secret In Their Eyes **** • Seventh Son * • Amazing Grace [r] *** 1/2 • The Martian *** 1/2 • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell [r] **** • Spectre ** • Leap Year [r] *** 1/2 • Agent Carter (Season 2) **** • The Muppets (Season 1) *** 1/2

100 books from July 2016 (bottom) to January 2017 (top) - again with the sooooo many children's books (lots of Charlie and Lola and the discovery of Molly Idle) and a HP misstep.

Trashy Town (Andrea Zimmerman) ** 1/2 • C&L: Slightly Invisible (Lauren Child) ***** • A Small Thing... but Big (Tony Johnston) **** • The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings (Carolyn Sherwin Bailey) **** • Little Blue Truck (Alice Schertle) **** • Who Is Driving? (Leo Timmers) *** • The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs (Jon Scieszka) *** • Tumble Bumble (Felicia Bond) ***** • Little Green Peas: A Big Book of Colors (Keith Baker) **** • Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity (Mo Willems) **** • Edgar and the Tattle-Tale Heart (Jennifer Adams) **** • Lion Lessons (Jon Agee) *** • Owl Moon (Jane Yolen) ***** • Waiting (Kevin Henkes) **** • Honey... Honey... Lion! (Jan Brett) **** • The Mitten (Jan Brett) ***** • Outside Over There (Maurice Sendak) *** • Your Personal Penguin (Sandra Boynton) ***** • Spot, the Cat (Henry Cole) **** • C&L: My Best, Best Friend (Lauren Child) **** • C&L: I Am Going To Save a Panda! (Lauren Child) ** • C&L: My Wobbly Tooth Must Not Ever Never Fall Out (Lauren Child) **** • The Z Was Zapped (Chris Van Allsburg) **** • Toot & Puddle (Holly Hobbie) **** • The Very Quiet Cricket (Eric Carle) ***** • One (Kathryn Otoshi) *** • Tell Me a Picture (Quentin Blake) ***** • Truck: Whizz! Zoom! Rumble! (Patricia Hubbell) **** 1/2 • Up and Down (Oliver Jeffers) ***** • Stuck (Oliver Jeffers) ***** • Flora and the Flamingo (Molly Idle) ***** • Flora and the Penguin (Molly Idle) **** • C&L: I Want To Be Much More Bigger Like You (Lauren Child) **** • C&L: I Slightly Want To Go Home (Lauren Child) **** • The Maze Runner (James Dashner) *** • Now You See Me, Now You Don't (Silvia Borando) ***** • Go, Dog. Go! (P.D. Eastman) ***** • Apples and Robins (Lucie Felix) **** • Busy Builders, Busy Week! (Jean Reidy) *** 1/2 • Chu's Day (Neil Gaiman) *** • Green Lizards vs. Red Rectangles (Steve Antony) *** • Goodnight, My Duckling (Nancy Tufari) **** • Come Along, Daisy! (Jane Simmons) **** • The Saddest Toilet In the World (Sam Apple) ** • Bruno Munari's ABC (Bruno Munari) *** • A to Z (Sandra Boynton) **** • C&L: You Can Be My Friend (Lauren Child) **** • The Cat In the Hat (Dr. Seuss) **** • A Child of Books (Oliver Jeffers) ***** • Some Pets (Angela Diterlizzi) **** • The Very Busy Spider (Eric Carle) **** • Is Mommy? (Victoria Chang/Marla Frazee) *** • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle) *** • Lost and Found (Oliver Jeffers) **** • How To Catch a Star (Oliver Jeffers) ***** • Camp Rex (Molly Idle) *** 1/2 • Tea Rex (Molly Idle) ***** • My Truck Is Stuck! (Kevin Lewis and Daniel Kirk) *** • The Very Lonely Firefly (Eric Carle) ***** • This Plus That: Life's Little Equations (Amy Krouse Rosenthal) *** • I Scream! Ice Cream! A Book of Wordles (Amy Krouse Rosenthal) *** • Is It Big or Is It Little? (Claudia Rueda) *** • Where the Wild Things Are (Maurice Sendak) *** • Are You My Mother? (PD. Eastman) **** • Peep and Ducky (David Martin) **** • Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, Are You Waking Up? (Bill Martin Jr.) **** • Meet Me At the Moon (Gianna Marino) *** • The Cow Loves Cookies (Karma Wilson) **** • Bedtime For Chickies (Janee Trasler) **** • Can You See Little Bear? (James Mayhew) **** • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I and II (John Tiffany and Jack Thorne) ** • How To Eat an Airplane (Peter Pearson) *** • Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale (Mo Willems) *** 1/2 • Flora and the Peacocks (Molly Idle) ***** • Farm Animals (Rod Campbell) *** • Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book (Rod Campbell) ***** • Miss Suzy (Miriam Young) ***** • The Island of the Skog (Steven Kellogg) *** • The 5th Wave (Rick Yancey) *** • Horns To Toes and In Between (Sandra Boynton) ***** • Hello, Airplane! (Bill Cotter) **** • C&L: I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go To Bed (Lauren Child) **** • How To Be a Cat (Nikki McClure) **** • Lady In the Water: A Bedtime Story (M. Night Shyamalan) ** • C&L: I Really Absolutely Must Have Glasses (Lauren Child) **** • The Black Book of Colors (Menena Cottin) *** • Zero (Kathryn Otoshi) **** • C&L: Whoops! But It Wasn't Me (Lauren Child) ***** • Bedtime for Mommy (Amy Krouse Rosenthal) ***** • If You Give a Moose a Muffin (Laura Joffe Numeroff) **** • While You Were Sleeping (John Butler) ***** • Shake It Up, Baby! (Karen Katz) *** • I See Kitty (Yasmine Surovec) **** • How To Lose a Lemur (Frann Preston-Gannon) *** • How To Wash A Woolly Mammoth (Michelle Robinson) *** 1/2 • Construction (Sally Sutton) **** • Demolition (Sally Sutton) **** • Duck! Rabbit! (Amy Krouse Rosenthal) *** • Owlet's First Flight (Mitra Modarressi) **** • Posy (Linda Newbery) ***

Friday, January 27, 2017

A Merry and a Happy 2016/7

Quick, before it's February!

We did have a great Christmas and here's a little rundown of the funtimes leading up to the Day.

In the months before, it should be noted, I was participating again in a fun local choir, and then when I went to my sister's orchestra concert and saw that they were teaming up with a different local choir to do John Rutter's Gloria, I was like, oh hey, I should go to that!  And then I was like... oh hey, I should BE in that.  So I looked them up and joined my third concurrent singing group (if you count ward choir, which I do) just so I could check this little number off my list:
Helloooooo, there.  It's been a while.
Yes, it was glorious, and yes, I am so glad to have sung JR's Requiem, Magnificat and now Gloria.  It was great to sing with the TSO again, even though scheduling conflicts prevented my sister from participating this time (though she could attend in the audience, which was fun!) and even besides the Gloria it was a reaaaaally great program of orchestral and choral music (Rutter AND Wilberg AND Silvestri AND Anderson AND Handel in the same concert??).

That did of course take up a lot of time in the evenings (thaaaaaank you Wiiiiiiife) and led to a few scheduling conflicts but I enjoyed it so I'm really glad I was able to sing in both.  Ah, the life of a musician at Christmastime.

Then it was winter!  We went on a cool drive-through lights show in Provo (thanks, KSL Deals) and listened to a lot of Christmas music and enjoyed delivering treats to neighbors.  We also have had a lot of snow this year so I put the little humans to work.

Earning their keep at last!
The we had our ward adult Christmas party, including a talent portion, for which I engaged the services of Dad and Brok to sing Star Bright.  My limited guitar skillz were more than adequate and I'm so glad, after hearing my mom and sisters sing together so beautifully for so many years, that we boys have had the chance to do the same a few times.
I only messed up the words once.  I don't think anyone noticed.
We took the kids to see a live Nativity at the mall, which was fun and interesting and featured free cider and rolls and live local choirs, including one gospel group that were so into those Handel selections.  The animals were present pretty early on but the human portions took a little time getting there, but when they did we had a great time and the kids were into it and it's always great to have more opportunities to talk about the reason for the season.
Live Nativity!  With a camel and everything!
There was no shortage of festive wear and appropriating decor at the house:
Li'l reindeers love eggy breadies.
And then when we found out about the Yule Ball happening at a nearby event center (that is literally a castle) we had to go!  We teamed up with one of my oldest friends from junior high and her new beau and picked up some nachos supreme beforehand and then headed up for all the fun times, including dancing, (terrible) trivia, animals, (literally) snacks and cheeses, fairly good HP-themed beverages, fun photo opportunities, and a Horcrux hunt (we found them all, sorry, Big V).  If they do this again next year I think we might feel like going again.
Though this time we'll bring our wands (which I remembered until it was time to go).  WHY OH WHY did I forget our wands?  I'm a bit ashamed about it.
See??  A castle!!!  It was made for this kind of event.  And also apparently wedding receptions and probably proms and such.  But especially this.
The week before Christmas we had our 3rd Annual Primary Christmas Concert, which is always a good time.
This is one of my favorite new traditions.
And then our Temple Square appearance concluded all my Christmas choiring (except if you count the ward choir program on the day, which I do).  I carpooled with Mom and Dad.
They are so nice and good to support all my musical endeavors for all these years, including schlepping all the way up to SLC and sticking around past their bedtime (especially since they were my ride).
We had tree struggles this year since our usual outlet of Costco sold out much earlier than expected, but our Lowe's backup was all right, though it never quite stood up straight.  But we bought some new all-silver decorations (and will need new lights next year, bah, don't ask) and called the result Fleur Delacour.
Redecorated just in time for the big day, and ambiance enjoyed by Sir Waffles.
Then we had Christmas Day!  Of course it started out bright and early with our church meeting with the adjusted holiday schedule.  I must confess that I was preeeeetty miffed when I heard about it (it's hard enough to get toddlers ready and out the door by 9 on a regular day, let alone an hour earlier on Christmas morning!) but it worked out fine, mostly because:
This is what happens when your stake decides your ward's meeting at 8 am. *facepalm*  Get dressed super quick and scurry scurry scurry down the stairs!
And then we had our program and I sang O Holy Night and Santa Claus apparently came while we were gone and took down those sheets and a lovely gifting was had by all.
See, he did come after all.
And how!  Super Kitty and Baby Dolly with all the trimmings!
Yayyyy for us.  I'm glad that for now Santa still remembers the parents in this house.
And it was such a nice day overall and we had the usual Eve and Day traditions and were so glad dearest youngest sister and fam are back in town so they can participate.
Who needs to take a family picture??  But really, it would have been nice to take one, but this will have to do.
But really church is a great place to be on Christmas Day, early AM and all.  We took time to watch the Nativity video (thank you, YouTube) and Mickey's Christmas Carol and have been making efforts to really instill in these little ones the importance of that Night and that Star and that Baby and they are really starting to get it, which is so touching.  How grateful we all must be.

And then here's the P.S. you've all been waiting for.  The New Year's Baby continues to grace us with a nighttime visit.
Don't laugh about the sock bouquet or the wedged-in Malt-O Meal, we were both really excited about them.
And then it's always hard to head back to work after a nice long break, but it was nice to be driving again under this banner:
Thanks to all the conspirators who aided Santa in delivering this hidden in my whale-shaped butter dish (don't laugh about that either, I'm so glad to have one with a handle, you have no idea).
And that's it for now!  It felt busier than last year but still really pleasant and nice and memorable.  A lot of people keep hating on 2016 and it's true there were some really awful things for a long time but overall I thought it was a good year and ended in a much better place than I ever thought possible all things considered, so I'm looking forward to 2017 with cautious enthusiasm.  I'm trying to limit negative things in my life (and hopefully be less of a negative thing in others' lives) and focus on what's really important.  There's so much to be thankful for and to look forward to, so that's what I'm trying to do.