Sunday, September 27, 2009

Birthday Girl Teensy

When Teensy turned two, she celebrated with a devil's food cake decorated with Barney. This year, her request was a strawberry flavored cake with strawberry icing. I've sent out a saliva sample for a DNA test. I mean, surely no daughter of mine could actually want a cake that doesn't have an ounce of chocolate in it. For years I have accepted and loved this child as my own, without question--defending her biological link to me even though she sports blond hair and blue eyes--but this strawberry cake business is too much.

Just kidding.

I mentioned to one of the missionaries at church today that it was Teensy's birthday. The sister asked Teensy how old she is now and Teensy promptly held up one hand, then got a look of extreme concentration on her face as she began to wiggle her fingers. I had a good chuckle when the light bulb went on for both of us that she now needs two hands to show her age with digits. One of life's little wake-up calls.

My Teense is a treasure. I love her so! She really has her own personality, let me tell you. Sometimes, I think she was born a teenager--with her innate love of fashion, tall boots, and make-up. She's spunky, spirited and good at everything she tries.

For her big day this year, she got a scooter, an umbrella (she's been coveting the one Kenna got for her birthday) and a pair of boots. I just realized yesterday that both of my September girls got boots for their birthdays. Kind of funny.

Marlee was most giddy to sit with me for her birthday interview. Without further ado:

What was the best part of being five?

Snuggling my mommy when I had nappies...before kindergarten.
(We really do miss each other during the day. For almost six years we were bosom companions and now...we're not.)

What do you think is going to be the best part of being six?

Umm...I don't know.

What are your favorite activities?
Family Home Evening
(How cute is that?)

What else do you like to do?
I like to be with my mommy. I like to play horsies with my friends.

Which sports are your favorites?

Which outdoor activities are your favorites?

I have a million...go to the pool.

Give me three words to describe your room.
Pink, flowers, playroom

What was your favorite birthday present?

The scooter!

What is your favorite thing to hear Mom say?
Good job!

What is your favorite food?

For dinner or for treat?

For dinner--those things that we're making tonight--homemade patties. And for treat it is doughnuts.

("Homemade patties" is Teensyspeak for "turkey burgers." Marlee is our resident patty-maker, a job she adores so much she requested that she be able to do it for her birthday.)

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be a cheerleader.

What is your favorite book?

Piggie and Elephant
(This is actually a series of books, including this one, which she read last year and fell in love with. They really are great easy readers.)

What is your favorite movie?

Favorite movie? It's hard to pick...well, my favorite movie is Princess Diaries 2.

What is your favorite thing about your mom?

She's nice.

What is your favorite thing about your dad?

Never let it be said that this child doesn't love her daddy mucho much! Here she is trying to go in for an open-mouthed kiss when she was just barely two years old:

I do feel so lucky to be this child's mother; she is a joy and delight.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Confessions of a Winner

I am a competitive person. Oh, I try to control myself in group gatherings, but the symptoms are still there. When I attend a baby shower, my heart races, my arm pits sweat, and I can barely enjoy the inevitably-present plethora of delicious food until I've won a game. I don't care what game it is. I don't care if the prize is a candle, a gift card, or an Almond Joy (ironically named, in my opinion, since the idea of a candy bar made with coconut makes me want to vomit). I just want to win. And I usually do.

Now, to be fair, I not only enjoy winning games, but I also enjoy playing them. I love attending a good game night with friends. I try to be on my best behavior. I usually give myself a little pep talk ahead of time about how the point of the evening is to have fun, get to know friends, etc., etc., blah blah blah. I like to think that I conduct myself appropriately at such events, though some sarcastic remarks may occasionally escape my tongue. It is not unusual for me to practice deep breathing to try to settle myself down during a heated game of charades. What can I say? We all have our own demons to fight, right?

I don't limit my love of winning to times like playing games, however, where I do have some control over the outcome. Oh, no, dear friend and devoted reader. I am a big fan of being a winner in the door prize genre as well. Sometimes, I get teased for having the uncanny ability of getting my name pulled out of the proverbial hat at almost every party or event. I used to deny it—because I was focusing on the times when I didn't win. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I have noticed that my name does seem to be chosen more than others at such things. I like it like that!

Take my local library's summer reading program, for example. This was the first year I decided to submit an entry of each book I'd read over the summer. Well, summer got busy and I only ever did enter my June titles. The day before the contest was to end, while at the library, I grabbed a bunch of slips to fill out and turn in the next day, but before I could get to the task I got a phone call telling me I'd won a prize!

“I won a Vermeer coffee table book from the library!” I beamed to my neighbor, Kathy. After a short discussion on Vermeer, Kathy practically pointed out that I do not even own a coffee table. “I know,” I replied somewhat defensively, “but that's hardly the point. The point is that I won something!” Kathy just chuckled at my glee.

Apparently, my luck has rubbed off on my family. Last Friday night we attended an outdoor sing-along showing of The Sound of Music. During intermission, many door prizes were distributed. Yours truly was holding the very first golden ticket. When I returned to my seat with my prize, my Michael just shook his head and mumbled something about, “You really do always win these things. I've never won anything in my life.” (Or was that second comment what he said when I won my beloved coffee table book?)

Well, my Michael had to eat his words. His ticket number was called, too! As was Maia's and Mackenna's. That's right; the Hunters were four for six in the door prize department. 4:6! It makes my heart sing.

It embarrassed my Michael beyond words. He almost wouldn't get up to go get his prize. What do you think that says about him? Me, I was dragging my kids up there to get their goods, clapping all the while with a grin that stretched from one ear to the other. What does that say about me? Never mind, I don't care. We won!

Oh, and Kathy? You don't have to have a coffee table to enjoy a good coffee table book, you know.

If only my good luck would ever pay off with that whole HGTV Dream Home thing...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Birthday Girl Maia

She was mortified when I wanted to drive her to the bus stop last week in the rain
But grabbed my hand and held it walking into Target on Saturday.

She does her own hair for school
But still lets me do her hair for church.

She wanted Ugg-style boots for her birthday
But was just as happy to get a dress for her favorite doll.

Today, she is eleven years old--that strange part-girl/part-young woman age--
But she'll always be my first baby.

After she got home from her day at middle school, I sat Maia down and conducted my birthday interview with her. Here is the result:

What was the best part of being ten?

Well, like, when I had my 10th birthday, I got excited because my age had two numbers in it.

What do you think is going to be the best part of being eleven?

That I'll make more friends in middle school.

What are your favorite activities?
Writing, swimming, sometimes I dance in my room, and I like reading and going outside.

Which outdoor activities are your favorites?
Climbing the tree and going into the forest.

Name three of your favorite books.
I like Ella Enchanted, Twilight, and the Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls series.
(Asking Maia to choose only three favorite books is like asking me to only eat three M&M's in a sitting.)

Give me three words to describe your room:
Sometimes it's not very neat; it's small--but I don't mind it that much anymore, and right now it's all white--but it's going to be painted.
(I know, I've been in the process of getting her room painted for a year now. I'm ridiculous.)

What was your favorite birthday present?

I don't know. I think it might have been the boots, though, because those are cute. But the scarf, it's cute, too, though. And the American Girl doll outfit was cute and stuff--oh, gosh, that's all of them!

What is your favorite thing to hear Mom say?
Good job! I'm so proud of you!

What is your favorite food?

Spaghetti, pizza and watermelon.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

An author or an artist or maybe even if I wrote a book that got turned into a movie, I could have my friends and me be in it or something.

What is your favorite movie?

I really don't know. I like Aquamarine and I liked Coraline. I'm really not sure; I like a lot of movies.

What is your favorite thing about your mom?

Like, for some reason, like, most of the time, I end up being sort of how she was when she was younger so she understands me.
(Mom might have gotten a little teary at this response. But you can't prove anything.)

What is your favorite thing about your dad?

He's funny and I like going places with him (I also like going places with my mom) and I remember one time I showed him this restaurant that I had been to with my mom and he liked the food there.

My girl and me at my cousin's wedding four years ago.

Maia's first-ever catch!

My Maia is such a special, sweet girl. She is kind, very smart and has an admirably independent spirit. She did not get that (or her beautiful thick hair) from her mother. I marvel at how she happily marches to the beat of her own drummer; I never had that quality. I am so proud of her!

Happy Birthday, My Baby Girl!
(And yes, that is a candle left over from Mackenna's first birthday. Tonight, we chose to interpret it as "It's great to be #1" as in the first-born child.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Check me out!

A few weeks ago, I was up in the middle of the night because of my little girls. I started surfing the old Internet and ended up on Segullah's website. (Segullah is an LDS women's literary magazine.) The words "guest contributor" caught my eye and within a matter of minutes, I was writing a short post on their topic of the month. A couple of days later, I was notified that my submission would be posted today.

Thanks for clicking here to check it out!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The First Day of School...Four Times

This year, we experienced the first day of school several times in our house. Four, to be exact.

First Day of School #1 was the actual first day of school, when I sent my three(!) eldest kiddies off to get their public edu-ma-cations.

I started this new season of my life by waking up at six to get Maia up and out the door by seven. It is easier for me to get up earlier than I have in years than it is to come to terms with the idea that my little girl is in middle school. I feel like I've fed her to the wolves. Here she is before taking the bus to school for the first time in her life:

Two and a half hours later, my Buddy posed for this photo after riding his scooter to his first day of fourth grade:

I think it's important to note that he had this "outfit" picked out and laid out on his bedroom floor for days before school started. And when I say the clothes were laid out, I don't mean that they were sitting in a pile. No, I mean that they were spread out on the floor as if a very flat, invisible person were on the floor in the clothes. It was quite a sight!

My Teensy finally started kindergarten. Believe me, there never
was a child who was more ready to start kindergarten than my Teense. She was so excited to get to her classroom, put her things away, and get started! Here she is before we left:

Now, dear friend and devoted reader, please do not think that I am counting all of this as separate first days of school. Oh, no. All of the above was just the first "first day of school."

First Day of School #2 occurred the next week when my sweet kindergartener had to switch classes. We were both a little frustrated when we found out that she would be changing teachers, classrooms and classmates. Poor Teensy thought she had just figured everything out and they were changing things on her. Happily, I report that she now has friends in her new room, loves her new teacher, and is still giddy as...well, a school girl, to be going to school with the big kids.

Two days after Teensy changed classes, Maia got a new schedule. Seven school days into the year, Maia had our family's First Day of School #3. Lest you think I am being dramatic, consider that although her entire schedule didn't change, she did change English, Social Studies, Science and Math classes. Only Reading and PE/Art stayed the same! Bless her heart, she was nervous that she'd no longer have friends in her classes, but her worries were in vain. I'm excited for her new schedule and have high hopes that she'll do well. She said there are only about 10 kids in her new Social Studies class. How awesome is that?

First Day of School #4 was today when my baby officially started preschool. She couldn't be more thrilled to be able to do such a big kid thing as go to school. She has big plans to paint her heart out, dress up like a princess and have a great time. Here's a peek at my newest school girl (who is really into posing herself so fun lately):

Lots of people have asked me what I plan to do during my six hours of "freedom" each week. Well, don't worry about me, dear friend and devoted reader. I have more than enough ideas of things to keep me busy at least until next summer when my little chicks are around me again.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Flashback Friday!

You know, dear friend and devoted reader, that I married my dear friend/college roommate's cousin. (For you LDS folk, I like to refer to it as the "member referral" approach finding a spouse.) Since I had known and loved Kimber for years before making the acquaintance of her "cute cousin Michael," I had also met many of my future in-laws before I'd ever even kissed their cousin/nephew/grandson, etc. Savvy?

One such relative is Fun Aunt Cara. She lived in Denver and would occasionally come to Utah to visit her best friend, Callie, and her nieces and nephews in the area. Since Kimber and I were connected at the hip, I got to tag along on any fun adventures.

I enjoyed hanging out with Cara, Callie and Kimber. One of Cara's favorite activities was to "tell fortunes" with a deck of cards. It was like playing MASH. Kimber and I had to give her the names of four potential boys we'd like to date and she'd work her "magic" and reveal to us who our future spouse would be. It was silly girliness in all its glory. We played this game repeatedly, each time erasing the outcome of the game before it.

Until the semester came when my Michael transferred to BYU and I started dating him. Cara came back to UT for a visit and we girls got together like old times. Cara got out the deck of cards and after I gave her her nephew's name along with three others, she did her thing. The result: I would marry her nephew, Michael. I'll never forget how she almost reverently placed the last card on the bed, pronouncing the outcome, and announcing that she would never tell my fortune again.

And so it came to pass.

Oh, the photo! This is Cara and me in September 2005 at my sister-in-law's wedding.
Doesn't she look like a girl who knows to have a great time?
I've loved having such a fun gal to reconnect with a family functions and reunions. She really makes things fun wherever she is. And nobody loves hugs like Cara!

Cara lives in Alaska these days, but she happens to be in town and we're going to see her tomorrow. I thought I'd commemorate her visit with a post...and since she's told me that her favorite posts are my Flashback Friday ones, I thought I'd dedicate one to her.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Mother Hen Kind of Day

We are blessed to have many neighborhood children with whom my children pass many an hour. I love it! I do. I am glad my kids have these great friends right here to run around with all day. These children run around my yard and come in my house all day long (although I did make the rule that no friends can be in the house prior to 9:00 a.m.).

But sometimes I want my kids to myself. I like them.

Sometimes I just want my children to play with each other, which they generally do well. (Except when one of them has a friend over and starts to excludes the others.)

Occasionally, I will get my kids and make them hunker down in the basement with me
(away from the front door and big windows upstairs) to play a game or just have mommy/sibling time. Since the neighborhood kids can see my van out front, the doorbell rings incessantly during these times. It actually works better to take a little field trip.

With the beginning of the new school year upon us, I was really having feelings of wanting my children around me. I call that a "Mother Hen Day"--named after the scriptures in the New Testament where it describes Christ saying how he often tried to gather his covenant people together "as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings." I've always loved that image of a mother hen lifting her wings, collecting her babies beneath them and keeping them next to her heart.

So, I was having my mother hen-type feelings and decided to take my kids to The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.

We had a great day visiting the animals and enjoying each other. Highlights of the day include:

* This mother hen gathering her children together

* My children demanding I take their photo while sticking their heads through approximately 276 wooden pict-o-signs--my made-up term for one of these:

* Teensy really enjoying her ice cream treat as evidenced by her face here:

* Buddy trying to ride a tractor that is made for a child half his size

* Kenna happily squatting down to brush a goat

* Maia desperately trying to fit in the turtle shells

* All the children feeding a 16.5' tall giraffe

* A rare acquisition indeed: a photo of Mommy with her kids (thanks to the camera's self-timer and a well-placed fence)

Monday, September 7, 2009

This Man

He is not perfect, but he is perfect for me.

He confidently wooed me even after I refused his first offer of marriage.

Back in the day, he rode his bike to campus to buy me tickets to a movie I'd been dying to see.

These days, he randomly brings me flowers.

He let me use his luscious locks to teach myself how to cut hair.

He bought my minivan because I told him it's the one I wanted.

He humored me with too many self-portrait attempts at the pool this summer.

And when he knew I needed it, he touched the small of my back and whispered, "I am your friend."

And he is. This man, he is my best friend.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Kenna's New 'Do

While I've been away, we've had 6 sets of overnight guests, gone away overnight 4 times ourselves, ended summer and started school, but I'll blog about what I did earlier today instead.

After getting dressed myself and helping my little girls into their Church clothes I proclaimed it to be hair time. Teensy obligingly sat in our "hair chair" and let me coiffe her to my satisfaction. Her
love of looking beautiful, stick-straight silky hair, and tough head all contribute to a pleasant hairstyling process.

Then, it was Kenna's turn. As her hair has grown longer and naturally nappier (with a hint of wave in the back) it seems her head has grown more tender, making for a less-than-pleasant hairstyling experience. It usually involves begging, pleading and chasing, tempered with threats and coercion. Not fun.

Well, our Sunday morning movie choice was The Chronicles of Narnia. When she wiggled out of the hair chair in a desperate (and might I add dramatic) attempt to flee the bristles of the brush I said, "Do you want hair like Lucy's?" She was immediately on board and excited about the prospect.

For a moment, she questioned her ability to take ballet class if her hair wasn't long enough to be pulled into a bun. I assured her that plenty of little girls take ballet without having their hair pulled back in the classic style.

With that concern resolved, we went right into the kitchen and changed her look.

And she looks ridiculously, utterly adorable. (If I may say so myself.)

I took her out in the yard to snap a few pictures of her with her sassy new style and I think you'll agree that she looks happy as a clam with her new easier-to-manage cut! I love that she posed herself and practiced dancing while I took the photos. It was like she had to make sure that I was right and that she could still dance with short hair.

Without further ado, my baby:



Quotation of the Month

There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.

-Jill Churchill