Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Boy and His Big Boy Toys

This past Sunday a friend from church came over with a treasure of "boy toys" found within the confines of a very large plastic container. She had been cleaning out everything her 14-year-old son had outgrown, and came to church with the mission of sharing the love. She announced in our Relief Society meeting that she had some clothes as well as some transformer-type toys, Legos, and other toys that a 14-year-old no longer needs or wants and wondered if anyone was interested. My ears perked up when I heard "transformer" because Ben has been talking about Transformers for weeks. I told her we'd take a few. Well, she came over to the house when I was at choir practice and brought her son's treasures for Brad and Ben to see. Wouldn't you know it, we ended up with the entire container! Ben was ecstatic.

There were so many toys that I said, "Hey Ben, now you don't need any birthday presents." I full expected him to disagree, but he didn't. He enthusiastically said, "I know!" He is also blessing his Transformers in his prayers - guess he is exceptionally thankful for this little gift from Heaven!

Ben has spent hours playing with the transformers and other goodies found in the box. The bonus goodies included a container full of little cars and a bunch of "guys". A few months ago Grandma Judy bought Ben some "guys" with little guy guns, and Ben has loved laying with them. He was very excited to get some new guys to add to his collection - especially the Star Wars guys - I guess because we have nothing Star Wars in this house.

I find it fascinating that Ben knows all about Transformers and Star Wars and other "big boy" toys when these are never a topic of discussion in our house. Somehow he is getting his boy education despite being surrounded by girls every day of his life. He did mention that he needed to show Jack and Morgan (boys of dear friends Rod & Lesli) his Transformers and Star Wars guys. In fact, he has mentioned it multiple times, so I am quite certain that he can't wait for Jack & Morgan to see his new collection of big boy toys. In the eyes of this almost four-year-old those two big six-year-olds know all the ins and outs of the world of big boy toys.

And just a side note about the life of Ben these days . . . this post could have also been titled "Pajama Boy" because he refuses to put on clothes! He wants to wear pajamas all. day. long. - thus all these pictures in pjs. If I ask him to get dressed because we are leaving the house, he grudgingly will do so (usually), but the minute we are home he runs upstairs and puts his pajamas back on. I'm hoping it's just a stage . . .

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Festivities

*Sigh* I am missing those days when all my girls sat at the kitchen table a few days before Valentine's Day and made beautiful valentine cards to give to all their classmates. (Now that I think about it, I guess they all did it last year, but it seems like so long ago). This year Lacey was the only one who made valentines for the friends in her class. I found a cool kit for making "stained glass" valentines out of craft foam and tissue paper that we used for her valentines this year. Lacey was a regular pro at putting these lovelies together.

Madi did make ONE homemade valentine for her friend Nate, which she delivered via the ring-and-run approach. It added some excitement to a typical tax-season evening around here. The kids and I all hopped in the car and drove the 3 minutes it took to get to Nate's house. Madi insisted that Katie be her partner in crime and Katie graciously agreed. On the way, Madi made little rolls of tape and stuck them on Katie's arm so they could quickly pull the tape off Katie's arm and stick the paper hearts and the valentine on Nate's front door in about 30 seconds flat. Before they left the car, they had a mega-stack of construction paper hearts to stick on Nate's front door. When they got back to the car (30 seconds later - it could have even been 20 seconds), they still had half of a mega-stack of hearts because they were too chicken to stick the rest on the door. Are you kidding? You didn't use all those hearts?

Don't you remember what I went through to get the paper to make those hearts? I had about 20 minutes to buy the construction paper and get home so that we could maneuver this ring-and-run before it got too late. So there I was, 2 days before Valentine's Day, in search of RED construction paper to make the hearts. This was no easy task. I had searched a couple of stores earlier in the day with no luck at all. It must have been meant to be, because in my last-stitch effort to find this hot commodity, I hit the jackpot and bought the last dilapidated stack of red construction paper in Michael's. I did a little dance on the way out :)

Anyway - back to the ring-and-run . . . After the girls got back in the car and we sped away, Madi said "Katie, you did ring the doorbell didn't you." Katie - "I think so but I don't know for sure!" Madi - "mom, we have to drive back by to make sure Nate got his valentine." Mom - "wait - we're almost home, besides, the criminal never returns to the scene of the crime - what if we get caught?" One U-turn later . . . we're headed back to Nate's house and drive through the neighbor a "different" way so that, just in case they're looking up and down the street, they won't see us. Good news - we successfully drove past their front door without getting caught (even though Nate knew who the valentine was from because Madi signed it) and the hearts were all still on the door, but the valentine was gone. Mission accomplished!

A couple days later . . . Valentine's Day was on a Sunday, and though I was sorely disappointed to not be at the cabin celebrating President's Day weekend playing in the snow like we did last year, I decided I still wanted to make our traditional "fancy" dinner to celebrate the occasion for our little family and my parents. The past 2 years I have made an almost completely "red" dinner. I wanted to do that again, but I wasn't in the mood for pasta, which is about the only main dish I could think of that's red - although as I'm typing this, I could have done BBQ chicken. Anyway - BJs Restaurant has the awesome chicken dish and I found a copycat recipe online and decided to try it for our dinner (if you're curious, the chicken is pounded flat, breaded in Japanese bread crumbs and flour and pan fried in a little bit of olive oil. It is covered with a lemon wine sauce and garnished with sun-dried tomatoes - my red!). I spent the entire afternoon working on our dinner. I was tired, and in the end, the sauce for the chicken didn't turn out and I was more than bummed (this after the fresh strawberry frosting for the mini pink cupcakes didn't turn out like I wanted it too, either - ahhhhh!) I blamed it all on too many cooks in the kitchen (Brad, Madi, & I) and not just too many cooks, but 3 oldest-children cooks, who all would have liked to have been in charge. I was grumpy and disappointed, I will admit! All in all, the chicken was really good, even without the sauce and the cheese sauce for the broccoli tasted pretty good on the chicken (as did the homemade dijon mustard, lemon vinaigrette salad dressing). Regardless, I was so bummed I didn't even take a picture of our dinner. What a pouty-face I was! So our dinner wasn't entirely red, but the "red" for the evening included red jello, a red berry fruit salad, the sun-dried tomatoes, cherry 7-up, and grape tomatoes in the salad.

On the upside . . .

And our table looked really pretty

The kids had fun decorating our giant heart sugar cookie

and they were all happy to get a valentine present from mom and dad (note the hearts on the wall - these are part of the leftover mega-stack of hearts that never got taped to Nate's front door.)

. . . and I didn't take a picture of my beloved valentine and I that night because, sadly, we were annoyed with each other :(. Good thing we love each other so much! It's makes the occasional annoyances pretty insignificant.

And I'm just going to throw in the following picture, even though it has nothing to do with our Valentine's Day festivities . . . but just because it's so pretty . . . at Christmas our neighbors gave us a kit to grow an amaryllis. The kit sat on the counter, unopened for at least 3 weeks - maybe a month. I finally decided to open it up and give it a try. I tossed the dirt in the pretty chrome pot, stuck in the bulb, gave it lots of water and left it alone - took me all of 5 minutes. This is what we have a month later - isn't it beautiful?

Friday, February 12, 2010

The best of friends

When you're 14 years old . . .

Who can you text or chat with on Facebook for hours?

Who do you like to walk with from the church seminary building to to the school every morning at 6:50 am?

Who do you carpool with so you get a few extra minutes to laugh and giggle and tease each other?

Who do you like to hang out with at your house so you can play Wii, watch Psyche, take silly pictures on PhotoBooth, listen to music, and talk?

Whose family do you want to sit behind in church every Sunday?

Who do you walk with hand-in-hand on the way to your pick-up-point after school (thinking that your mom won't notice the hand holding)?

Who do you make a giant Valentine for then go nervously and secretly "heart attack" his front door?

Who makes you feel like you are truly an AMAZING girl (other than your parents)?

Why - your best friend, of course!!

Madi even decided to take down ALL of her David Archuleta in honor of her best friend. She decided the real thing is much better than the imagined one! Someone's really going to miss her best friend, otherwise known as N8 the GR8, when he moves to Texas in a few weeks!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Birthday Month Again

Isn't it kind of strange how so many families end up with one month that has more birthdays than any other in the year? In the Wallace family it is November and in the Zobrist family - it's January. Of course, the fact that five out of six of my parents kids were all born in January has a lot to do with that! Every year as soon as we say good-bye to Christmas we say hello to birthday presents, cake, and non-stop celebrations. Frankly, I am "birthday-caked" out! We started the month with a family pot-luck and birthday cake to celebrate everyone's (who lives in town) big day in January. Sadly, whoever ordered the cake forgot to include Brad's name. I added it, but I guess the picture was taken before. Sorry honey - it's not that you're easy to forget or anything . . . it's just that there's so darn many of us! In January we said "happy birthday" to Jared, Vivien, Grandma Zobrist, Mike, Dawnae, Me, Mom, Brad, and Janae!

The highlight of birthday month was the arrival of a new nephew and yes, the addition of yet another January birthday. Baby Owen Douglas Erickson was born on January 15, 2010 to Janae and Doug. Several of us were hoping he would make an entrance on our birthday, but with all the possible January birthdays, he chose to come on his very own day and does not have to share it with anyone. Owen joins 5 big sisters in the Erickson household - Wow!! Ben can hardly wait to teach him how to play, and Owen will be need some training from a fellow member of the male species since he is surrounded by girls. He and Ben have that in common - though Owen has 2 more sisters than Ben - lucky boy!

My birthday was on a Sunday, and my dad wanted to know if I wanted anything special for my birthday dinner. I am at a point in my life where I want very little fanfare and if I could, I would skip the day entirely. So - my first reaction was "no, nothing special." Then I thought - "well if you're asking - how about prime rib?? I just didn't get enough of it at Christmas" (my dad makes the best prime rib!) I didn't know if I would get it or not, but I went to my parents house for dinner and my dad had the prime rib all ready to carve. I am a lucky girl, I know!

(obviously I caught my dad in a weird-face-making moment, but oh well, I'm posting the pic!) along with one of my yummy birthday dinner.

I can't tell you how many pictures we took to try to get one of me and my kids. They are not the most cooperative! If I never got another birthday gift the rest of my life, it would be OK because I have the greatest gift of all - being mom to these fabulous kids!

After dinner Madi and I went to stake choir practice to get ready for our upcoming stake conference then we went back to my parents for cake. My mom, totally on the sly, also invited several friends from our ward to come to her house for a little surprise for me. Even though I really don't even want people to know when it is my birthday, it was a fun evening. Thanks mom!

My kids think I'm weird for posting a picture with my eyes shut - but really I'm just checking out my cake - and I kinda like the picture.

Brad was born 9 days after me - (he is such a cradle robber!) The extent of the celebration involved a lively rendition of "Happy Birthday to you", some cake, some recycled balloons (from my birthday), and the opening of his very exciting gift - a new griddle for making pancakes.

So glad to say good-bye to birthday month! When is your family's "birthday month?"

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Not-So-Vegas Kind of Day

Wow - I almost feel like I'm not in Vegas anymore. It has rained every day this week, with the possibility of more today. Yesterday it rained and rained and rained. It never does that. When we are lucky enough to get rain, it typically clouds up, pummels us with rain for 10 minutes tops, then the clouds quickly dissipate and the sun reappears. Rarely, ever so rarely, does it rain for the entire day. Where do I live, Seattle??

This morning the ground was wet and big, fluffy gray clouds blanketed the sky, the air was crisp and clean with a bit of a breeze blowing, but it wasn't raining. So, I bundled up Ben and myself, grabbed the stroller, and we went for a walk. I can see these mountains when I walk out my front door. The rain in our little valley resulted in snow-dusted desert mountain tops.

My Walking Buddy!

I remember one year - probably 20 years ago - when we had a wet winter like this. It resulted in the most beautiful wildflowers blooming throughout the desert in the spring. Road trips to California and Utah were actually entertaining as we looked for all the hues of green and yellow, mixed with bits of purple and pink. You gotta love a bit of color in an area where the color variation is about as diverse brown and tan! Perhaps this spring will be the same - keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Totally Independent? Not Quite

When you're just 2 months shy of your 4th birthday, you think you're capable of conquering the universe, or at least conquering your own little world. After all, you're almost four years old! Do you need help opening the car door? Absolutely not! Do you need help buckling your car seat? Are you kidding? No way! Would you like a little help putting on your shoes or choosing an outfit to wear? Not on your life!

Yep - you're pretty self-sufficient in many ways. Even when you are in a difficult predicament, I can hear you say to yourself, "don't even think about helping me pull this tight-fitting shirt over my head. I would much rather scream in complete frustration and suffer near-suffocation than allow you to help me remove this shirt that is stuck around my Wallace head." Spreading a little butter on a serving of rice for you or helping you into the car is grounds for a complete "re-do" in which you need a new pile of rice so you can spread the butter yourself or you insist on getting out of the car so you can get back in on your own.

Yes, my dear, you are quite the independent soul, but when your blanket takes a trip to the washing machine . . .

You pretty much fall apart!
Don't worry, it will be our little secret!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Dressed in White

About a week and a half ago Madi made Lacey's hair look curly and beautiful, and then she took her out for a photo shoot in her new baptism dress. Lacey withstood the cold (while barefoot and wearing short sleeves) and tolerated Madi's commands, and the results, to me, were worth the torture of winter weather and big-sister-bossiness.
Madi continues to amaze me with her talents. I am in love these pictures she took of Lacey - I can't even choose a favorite. Of course, I love them all.

We went shopping for Lacey's baptism dress when we were in Utah over the summer because I knew it would be difficult to find a white dress in the winter. We had such a fun day shopping with Lacey's Aunt Janae and cousin Ava, who was also looking for a baptism dress. Lacey tried on many beautiful white dresses, but this one was her absolute favorite, so this is the dress that we brought home. It has been sitting in my closet since July, just waiting for the day when Lacey would wear it for her baptism - and that day is tomorrow!

Ringing in 2010

2010. Can you believe it? And just out of curiosity, when you read "2010", did you say to yourself, "two thousand ten" or "twenty ten"? Just wondering. So here we are at the end of a decade or are we at the beginning of a new decade? Has it really been 10 years since I was hoarding up gallon containers of water at the grocery store because of all the hysteria around the "Y2K" computer bug at the dawn of a new century? If that computer bug caused anymore than a few minor glitches, I certainly didn't hear about it. If anything, I think we sailed right through the turn of a century, and now, 10 years later, the world is, in my opinion, in a lot less stable position. Now I'm hoarding gallon containers of water for fear our economy is going to collapse.

But, despite the difficult times, 2010 is a new year that brings hope for better days ahead. And the new year definitely brings an excuse to have a party! The past couple of years we have celebrated New Year's with the Ericksons at the cabin, but with Janae being great with child (baby due in a couple of weeks) and with Lacey's baptism a couple of days away, a New Year party of the cabin will have to wait until 2011. So this year, Madi hosted a New Year's party of her own with Brad and I as somewhat reluctant chaperones. We were reluctant only because this was our party girl's 2nd party of the holiday season. So - I would say we are pretty cool parents to chaperone not one, but two parties within 2 weeks of each other! Though we were reluctant at first, the party was a complete success and left me ready to host a party just like it next weekend. Madi's guests included siblings from 3 families in our ward - the Trumans, Cottrells, and Messinas, along with Parker Judd. Throughout most of the party Brad and I sat in the dining room putting together a puzzle
(we're party animals, let me tell ya!), listening to the kids, which was extremely entertaining.

The party started with an entertaining game of "Would You Rather", which presented some thought-provoking questions to group such as "would you rather have your grandmother's name or her hair cut?" or "would you rather shave your head and eyebrows bald for a year OR wear a really good looking Elvis wig for a year?" Difficult questions, I know.

The best part of the game was the challenge questions when the kids had to complete challenges in order to advance in the game. Here Parker is completing his challenge by having a lovely dance with a mop.

And while the big kids were playing "Would You Rather" in the kitchen, the little girls were playing an intense game of Super Mario Brothers on the Wii (just look at that concentration). Rachel Messina came with her older siblings and Katie invited Meredith to come and hang out with us too.

Meanwhile - Madi had to pass her own challenge - identifying foul-smelling items chosen by the other players. Mmmmm - somebody's sock! I wasn't overjoyed when all the guests started rooting through my refrigerator looking for old and moldy food to put in front of Madi's nose, but was thankful when they didn't find much more than a container of leftover broccoli.

And even though Madi's number-one texting buddy was seated right next to her at the party, her cell phone never left her hands.

"Would You Rather" was followed by a roudy game of "Imaginiff" - and I didn't get any pictures, but I could tell the kids loved it. Things then winded up in front of the Wii for a little bit of "American Idol" playing. Brad and I had some great laugh-out-loud moments as we listened to the boys all sing along to Fergie's "Big Girl's Don't Cry".
(please note the extra appendage in Madi's hand - and no, I don't mean the Wii controller)

Right before midnight everyone came into the kitchen to get their drink and toast in the New Year. (Please don't panic, I am not serving Mormon minor children wine - it's sparkling grape juice!)

Rachel Meredith and Katie

The whole group - Harry, Spencer, Parker, Nate, Madi, Mason, Maddy, and Emily (back row)
Rachel, Meredith, Lacey, and Katie (front row)

Friends - I am thankful for Madi's friends who made our New Year's Eve a night to remember.

After the clock struck midnight and the guests all went home, I found these little beauties sound asleep on my bed. A new year has begun.