Friday, April 11, 2014

Five Things for Friday

1. I wish Cadbury Creme Eggs came in dark chocolate. How has this not happened yet? Every chocolate candy seems to be jumping on the dark chocolate bandwagon. Cadbury Creme Eggs would be so delicious with a dark chocolate shell. I don't enjoy them that much anymore--the milk chocolate shell is just not doing it for me. That's the disappointment I have to deal with every Easter season.

2. There was a picture on Pottery Barn's Instagram account this week that had my dream bed in it. It was on a beach and it was the loveliest picture of a bed on a beach that I've ever seen. I very much wanted to put it on here, but Instagram won't let me do it and I can't figure out how to get around it. All I was able to manage to get from Instagram was my profile picture and Pottery Barn's PB logo. Ha ha!

Oh wait, look! I figured it out! Don't ask me how because I'm not sure.  
This bed on a beach would be a dream come true (barring any rain and bugs!).
Absolutely lovely! Just looking at this helps me to feel more relaxed.

3. I like these pictures of Presidents Bush and Clinton sitting together at the NCAA men's basketball championship game on Monday night. These are two great men and I'm glad that they're buds. (At least until the presidential election of 2016--which I can't wait for--if Hillary and Jeb Bush run!)

4. Now for some meaty stuff. I've been thinking lately about how I rarely write on my blog anymore about social issues/politics/controversial things/news events of note. I used to do that a lot more and I'm still very interested in all of those things, but now my focus on my blog is more on documenting me and my family's life and experiences, with a bit of fluff thrown in for fun (numbers 1 and 2 above are especially good examples of the fluff I can churn out). I don't have the time to blog anymore like I used to, so I write about the things that are most important to me that I most want to have on record for the future. If I truly feel passionate about something and feel like I need to share it on my blog, I will, but I usually don't have the time, the energy, or the inclination.

But that doesn't mean that I don't think about lots of things. If I had the time and the inclination, perhaps I'd write more extensively about issues like the following that have been on my mind lately:

-Ordain Women. I disagree with them, and like all movements that are destined to fail, I think they'll fade away with time. I don't say that to be flippant and dismissive because I know that this issue really matters to a small percentage of women in the Church, but that is truly how I feel about it. 

-I think it's completely ridiculous and really sad that the new CEO of Mozilla (Firefox) stepped down because people found out he donated to Prop 8 in California a few years ago and made a huge uproar about it. They say he was being discriminatory (for a personal and religious belief in his private life that really has no bearing on his professional life), but don't they realize that they're being discriminatory by persecuting him for supporting traditional marriage, which he did quietly, respectfully, and privately? It's so hypocritical that it boggles the mind. In the name of supposed intolerance they're being intolerant themselves. Even some prominent gay-rights activists have said that what happened was wrong. This post from The Matt Walsh Blog is more heated than I am about this debacle but it has given me much food for thought on the matter.  

-Well now that I've gotten warmed up, here I go. This is the issue that's bothered me the most this week. I was disappointed that Chili's canceled their fundraiser this past Monday for Autism Awareness Month. They were going to donate a percentage of participating diners' proceeds to the National Autism Association, but lots of people raised a big fuss about it on Chili's Facebook page because the NAA is sympathetic to people who believe that vaccines may have hurt their children. So Chili's canceled the fundraiser and the NAA didn't get anything from them to help families who are affected by autism. I think that's really sad.

I know vaccines are good, and of course I believe in them, but guess what? 

There are people out there, myself included, who have had experiences with vaccines that make us suspicious of and cautious about our children's vaccinations. I believe that they can cause harm to {some} children and people; not many, but some who are more sensitive to what's in the vaccines than most people are. Whenever I see a pro-vaccination article shared on Facebook or some other place that bashes people who are cautious about/wary of/suspicious of vaccines, I feel a little sad and defensive, because I know from personal experience that some parents have good reason to think twice about how their kids get vaccinated. And that is not based on the discredited 1998 study that they're always saying we base our beliefs on. My caution comes not from misinformation or ignorance but from experience and research. I feel that the vaccination schedule for all kids is stacked heavily with too many vaccines at once for their little developing systems, and that some kids are very sensitive to this with tragic life-changing effects, and that for safety's sake the vaccines should be spaced out more than they are. 

I rarely see anyone stand up for those of us who choose to think twice about vaccines. Many of us have a good reason for feeling the way that we do. It doesn't mean we're right...but we very well could be.
(Just a note: my children are fully vaccinated and so am I, but we skip things like flu shots, and I spaced many of their vaccinations out, especially when they were younger.)  

Whew! I hope I haven't alienated too many of you after all that. And you thought you were going to get a totally fun, lighthearted Five Things for Friday, didn't you? :-) It did feel good to get that out. Maybe I should opine more often?

5. Next week I'm taking an unexpected trip to New York City with John and Sam to see my sister get married in Central Park! It's unexpected because my sister and her fiance are eloping but they recently decided to ask close family to be there. I am so happy to be going back to one of my favorite places for such a happy event. 

Central Park.

It's been nine years since I've been to New York. The last time I was there was when I was pregnant with John. I knew the city quite well when we lived in New Jersey because I went in once or twice a week for classes I was taking at NYU and for job interviews and going to the temple and things like that. Peter and I had some great date nights in Manhattan. One night when we were in Times Square on our way back to Penn Station after dinner, he changed the color and moving graphics of the Prudential sign at the top of Times Square for me. He had the special codes to do it by phone because he worked for Prudential. I was so impressed and it's one of my favorite memories of the city. See the sign down below? 

 I got to know Manhattan well, especially Midtown, and after awhile I stopped walking everywhere or taking a taxi and became good at using the subway. I knew I'd made it when people started asking me for directions on how to get places. Now it's nine years later, and I don't remember how to use the subway that well (I definitely don't remember all the different subway lines!), and while I do remember the layout of Midtown pretty well and where things are, my city smarts aren't quite as sharp as they once were. 
It will be humbling to be back as a tourist! And it will be so much fun! 
We aren't going to be there for very long and we'll spend most of our time on wedding festivities, so there won't be a lot of time to go out and do things, but that's okay with me. It will be great to be back.

Ahhh, this picture brings back happy memories of a very happy time in my life!

Okay. I'll stop now. I got all of the above images from my "I Love Manhattan!" board on Pinterest. LOL!
I have a dream to live and work in Manhattan, someday, somehow! 
But until that happens, I'll just have to enjoy taking occasional trips there about every 9-10 years. :-) 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Nine Years Old!

Last month John turned nine. I really can't believe he's nine! I feel like that makes us enter into a new phase of parenthood. 8 and under is young; 9 and up just seems so much older. I feel like 9 is almost in the pre-teen range. I'm still trying to mentally adjust to having a 9-year-old because I've always pictured myself as a mother of young kids; older kids, not so much (which doesn't really make sense because kids have to grow up!). I relate really well to children but not as well to adolescents and teenagers, so I'm a little anxious about the years ahead. But I'm excited about them too! 
 Anyway, enough about me and more about the real subject of this post--John and his birthday!

The night before, I kept up with the tradition I started a few years ago of putting streamers over his door.

The presents were set out on the table so that he could check them out in the morning.

His birthday was on a Saturday so his party was on the exact day of his birthday (which means we only had to do one cake!). He had a sports/Pokemon party at the rec center--sports because the kids played games in the gym (like basketball, kickball, and dodgeball), and Pokemon because that was what the decorations were. I got all of the Pokemon things at for a reasonably good price. It was a pretty easy party and the kids had fun.

The party room:

We had about 15 balloons blown up just before the party at our local grocery store. I wanted each of the kids to be able to bring one home, but that didn't happen because soon after we got to the rec center they all started popping! These are the ones that were left by the time I took pictures, and half of them ended up popping too. What a total waste of money!!

Sam hid under the table for awhile because of the popping balloons. They really were loud and startling when they popped!

Playing games in the gym. There's John with the ball.

Sam tried to play too. I was impressed by how nice the older boys were to him!

After the gym games it was time for dinner (pizza) and cake and lots of drinks (those kids were thirsty!). I wanted to schedule the party in the middle of the afternoon so that we wouldn't have to deal with a meal, but there wasn't availability to do it then. So dinner it was, and John opened all of his presents at home later since there wasn't very much time to do it there.

The Pokemon cake. I made it myself. (Just kidding.)

Here he is opening all of his presents at home that evening. 
He got lots of Pokemon stuff (big surprise there!).

It was a fun day. I was totally exhausted by the end of it. Next year for his 10th birthday John wants to have his first sleepover party. I'm not sure about that yet, but if we do that it would probably be just a couple of boys (two or three at the most), which in some ways would be easier than having an official party somewhere with all of his friends. Decisions, decisions, that are still a year away.

I want to add a few pictures of John's 8th birthday because I didn't do a post about that last year and I want to include something about it here on the blog. It's hard to believe how much he's grown between then and now!

March 8th, 2013:

John was really into geography and the United States last year, so my mom (who was here visiting for his birthday and baptism) made this fun USA cake. 

Note the inclusion of Alaska and Hawaii!

Playing with his new remote-controlled Spiderman that could crawl up and down walls!

A few pictures from his baptism the next morning:

 John's baptism was a very special experience for our family. It was even more special because all four of his grandparents were there, and so were the families who are our closest friends, as well as two of John's primary teachers. It was so nice. That evening we went out to dinner at Red Lobster (John's favorite restaurant) and the waiters sang "Happy birthday" to him when they brought out his dessert. It was a very fun and meaningful weekend for John and our family!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Pity Party for Boo Boo

Last month our dogs went in for their annual check-up at the vet and got their shots, which made them tired and lethargic for the rest of the day. Boo Boo laid down in his favorite spot on the stairwell and Sam took full advantage of his lethargy by wrapping him up in blankets and setting up a little party around him. He was delighted by Boo Boo's acquiescence because normally Boo Boo would just get up and walk away. 

That's Boo Boo under the blankets, just laying there, too tired to do anything about the blanket on his head. 

 Then he started perking up a bit, but not enough to find his way out from under the blanket.   

The claustrophobe in me sympathized and uncovered his head. 
I don't know if he's looking at me with anger, depression, or total surrender. Probably a combination of the three.

These next two pictures are my favorites. Boo Boo is resting his head dejectedly on Angry Birds Chewbacca while Sam laughs his head off, enjoying their rare little "sleepover party." It's so nice when a dog is drugged out and cooperates so well!

Good times.
{No animals were harmed in the creation of this blog post!}

Monday, April 7, 2014

Memorable Moments in March

March was a busy, cold month with teases of spring thrown in. 

We started the month out with snow and a date night out in spite of it.
Dinner was delicious!

We still had beyond freezing temperatures in March. The first full week of school in 2014 with no cancellations or delays due to the cold or the snow finally happened the week before Spring Break. What a crazy winter it was!
Check out those RealFeel temps!

iPads helped get us through the winter.

John finished up basketball at the beginning of the month. He had more fun with it this season than he's ever had, and he improved a lot. He was so happy that one of his best friends was on his team. It's funny because that friend is the tallest kid in 3rd grade at their school and John is the shortest! {See below}

At a game:

John's on the far right:

Sam made this cute picture at preschool when they celebrated Dr. Suess' birthday.

I love, love, love this picture of Sam that I took at John's birthday party. What a happy, sweet boy he is. 

We broke out the bounce house on a long (cold) Sunday.

Peter sent me a very sweet surprise.
Dark-chocolate covered strawberries from Edible Arrangements are THE BEST! 
They're fresh, juicy, and the chocolate tastes gourmet. So delicious.  

How I love this little boy and what a blessing he is in my life!
(Same with John, but 4-year-olds are much easier to get sweet pictures of than 9-year-olds, and Sam and I spend a lot more time together!)

The above picture, Instagrammed:

We finally had a mild day where it got into the mid-50s. It felt amazing! I took Sam outside to play for the first time since November or December. It was so nice to be back out in the fresh mild air again! 
 The melting snow created a literal river of flowing water in the backyard.

Spring and winter, side by side.  

Check out that huge puddle (and the mark it left on his bum!).

Shootin' some hoops after school.

Sam's big thing right now is playing school.
Here his planes and trucks and some other random things are lined up, waiting to learn.  

"Hello Mr. Sam. Teach me!" He loves it when I'm his cooperative student.

We had very strong wind one day and it blew the trampoline back right side up. It had been sitting upside down since January when the wind tipped it over. The trampoline is still ruined, but thanks for trying to make amends, wind.  

Bright pretty flowers.

I took the boys out to dinner at Dairy Queen one evening after gymnastics (just a note, don't go to Dairy Queen for anything but ice cream!). They kept fighting so they sat at separate tables for the whole meal. That solved that! 

 I enjoyed going to John's spring music program at school. One of the songs they sang was "Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid. I love that song! (John doesn't and wasn't thrilled about singing it. Ha ha.)
Can you find John? (Hint: where do the short kids usually stand?) 

I love this cute, fat cat.

Sam had fun wearing his pajamas to school for Pajama Day. He came home with painted nails, which was really funny to me. I have boys so I'm not used to having a child with painted nails! One of his favorite friends at school is a girl and she was getting her nails painted, so why not him too? 

I found Boo Boo and Brody resting together on the stairwell like this one day. Cute!

 One Friday evening when Peter was out of town and the kids were in bed, I made myself my favorite dessert: a banana split. Yum! On a side note, I love our banana split dishes. They were wedding gifts from our Crate & Barrel registry. 

St. Patrick's Day
I got more crafty and creative than I usually do.
I made these cute "rainbow in a jar" gift jars for the women I visit teach. It's Rolos on the bottom for the pot(s) of gold, then Skittles for the colors of the rainbow, and then mini marshmallows at the top for the clouds. So cute and easy! (Thanks Pinterest!) 

Breakfast for the kids was green milk with fun straws, muffins in green wrappers, and Lucky Charms, which I buy maybe twice a year. 

I tried a recipe that I found on Pinterest for Lucky Charms treats. They were really good for the first little while when they were soft and freshly made, but they hardened up pretty quickly and didn't taste as good after that. Rice Krispie Treats have much better endurance. 

I honored my Irish heritage by making Irish soda bread for the first time ever. The dough was easy to make and quite tasty. Unfortunately the bread didn't taste as good--it was too crusty and hard, and I ended up throwing most of it out for the birds. Happy St. Patrick's Day birds! 
Maybe next year I'll just make Irish soda bread dough. 

Here's John in a new room at The Children's Museum. He had a blast making obstacle courses and trying not to touch the carpet. (Remember playing the "hot lava" game? He loves that.)

Something was hilarious! 

 Sam decorated the tree in the living room.
Note the green beads elegantly draped on the branches.

                       The "Toddler Taxi" at Sam's feet is the very toy that I played with as a toddler. 

 John's car tied for first place at the Pinewood Derby! Now it's headed to the Regional Race in May (it's our second time making it there). I was surprised that it did so well because this was our first year designing it without the help of a talented friend who moved away last year. Good job Peter! And I'd like to add that my contributions mattered too: I continuously reminded them to get it done (otherwise it may not have happened!). And the Iron Man sticker was my idea. (These races are sometimes more about the parents aren't they?) John was thrilled with how well our his car did, especially since last year his car didn't do that well. 

(Where'd your lips go, John?! He does that when he's really excited.)

The dogs were napping one day with their bums touching. I thought it was funny. 

Sunday afternoon nap.

Other things that happened in March
-Peter and I both got nasty colds, but the kids miraculously avoided them. Our cat Bentwood also had a cold and had to be brought into the vet several times (and still isn't better yet!). I didn't even know that cats could get colds. (Technically, it's a "respiratory infection.")
-John turned 9! (more on that in another post)
-We took a fun spring break trip to Kalahari, an indoor water park and indoor theme park in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. (more in another post)
-Best movies I watched: Austenland (it was funny, cute, and better than the book). Divergent (not as good as the book, but still good).
-Biggest accomplishment: I gave a talk in church and did quite well! Phew! 

And that, in a blog post, was March!