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Month: November 2013

thirty

thirty

Yesterday was my birthday. I’m now 30 years old. Finally. Honestly, didn’t I turn 30, like, 3 years ago? I feel like I should be sad or feel anxious about hitting this milestone, but I don’t. I’m happy with what I’ve done with my life so far. I feel like I’ve used my time well and I have nothing to look back on with regret. And I don’t have any time to muse on the passage of time. All I can do is keep moving forward.

Also, I’m still me. I remember thinking, back in the day, that when I got married, or had a real job, or graduated, or any number of things, I would become someone grown up or responsible or “serious.” But, no. I’m still just me. And while I have matured and evolved and become more confident and more responsible and more thoughtful, I’m still, at heart, the same person. An improved version, I hope, but essentially the same. I’m willing to bet (and I sincerely hope) that the evolution continues in a forward direction – that I’m better in 30 more years than I am now.

As for the day itself, I told Micah weeks ago that I didn’t want to be in charge of Thanksgiving on my birthday. Best case scenario, someone would invite us to their place, but I really didn’t want to just have our little family in our little apartment on my birthday/Thanksgiving. So Micah took charge and invited friends over to join us. He organized the meal and wrangled the kids into cleaning the apartment. And he made a 3-layer chocolate cake with almond butter filling, chocolate buttercream, and ganache. Meanwhile, I slept in, went for a run, and then made my contribution to the feast – stuffing.

He did a fabulous job making it a special day for me – even if he did rib me a little about never having kissed a 30-year-old before. Ha!

Simon’s first “all-nighter”

Simon’s first “all-nighter”

We’re new at this “school” thing. We’re still learning the ropes. We’ve got drop-off and pick-up pretty much down. We can handle reading logs and math pages and spelling lists. But those special projects really throw us for a loop. Or, I should say, that one special project that we’ve had so far really taught us a lot about how to handle special projects. (Or how not to handle special projects.)

It is not enough, for example, just to talk about it when the assignment is first given. It is good to acknowledge its presence. Even better to decide how to execute. But if you wait until the day before it is due (or even two days before!) to begin the actual execution, well, you will not be loving life.

Also, siblings. They make special projects difficult. Especially when you have a small space. I would have loved to turn on a show and let Oliver and Elsa be hypnotized by the glowing screen for a little while if it would have allowed Simon to work in peace, but Simon was very honest about the fact that if I were to turn on a show, he would be even more unable to work. So we did our best to wrangle the little people during the day and made up for lost time by letting Simon stay up until 11:00 to finish what he couldn’t do with two extra pairs of little hands trying to get in on the action.

(For my part, the day last week that Simon had off from school, in which he did most of his project, was the first day ever that I have felt that maybe it would be a really bad idea for us to have another baby.)

However, it was kind of fun to stay up late with Simon to glue and write and figure out how to put it all together. My favorite part was when he would start talking and go off on some story for a while, and then I would comment on what he was saying and he would remember that he was supposed to be working and then he would chide me for distracting him. My bad! Sorry, kid!

In the end, however, we made a lovely family “tree” which functions more like a mobile. It included all of his cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and great-grandparents. There were 77 people on it. He needed pictures of all of them and he was supposed to write their names and relationship to him. We were all pleased with how it turned out, even if it exposed some glaring weaknesses in our homework skills.

(Many thanks to Nancy, Bente, and Mom Heiselt for helping out on short notice!)

the elsa made me do it

the elsa made me do it

“Well Elsa wanted to . . . .”

“Elsa was doing it . . . .”

“Elsa decided . . . .”

Too many of my interactions with Oliver these days start with him passing the buck to his little sister.

Yes, I’m sure Elsa did want to go outside, but that does not mean that you need to open the door for her.

Of course Elsa was making a huge mess, but that does not mean that you need to help her make it.

And finally, ELSA DOES NOT GET TO DECIDE!

Especially when she generally decides to do whatever is the messiest/most dangerous option.

It is pretty hilarious to see the traditional, “Don’t look at me! She made me do it!” reprised so sincerely, as if he were the first to think of it, by Oliver in his cute little mouse voice. If it weren’t also so frustrating, and if he didn’t fall back on it so often, I might be able to laugh it off. But as it is, it has real consequences, both dangerous and messy, and so I will continue to remind him that he knows better than to follow Elsa until the two of them are old enough to explicitly conspire to drive me crazy, at which point they are going to be locked in separate rooms until . . . well, I don’t really know how long. Until whenever.

primary program 2013 + our child is famous

primary program 2013 + our child is famous

There was a moment of stunned silence in the chapel this morning after Simon gave his part. And then someone said, “Oh, wow!” And then came the laughter from everyone else. And it was about then that both Micah and I kind of lost it. Laughter and tears mixed together. Not really knowing what was up.

Laughter because it was so cute and funny. He was so confident, spoke so clearly, had his part memorized, and delivered it with expression and sincerity that many adults have a hard time matching. Tears because we were so proud of him and Oliver and somewhat embarrassed to be so ridiculously blessed with what were clearly the handsomest, most intelligent, best behaved children in all of Brooklyn. And tears also, because of the spirit testifying to us that we are, indeed, ridiculously blessed to have these little punks teaching us how to be parents.

We probably would have been fine if that had been Simon’s only part, or if Oliver had given only one part as well. But they each had two parts, so we had a lot of time building up to that moment of emotional turmoil. Oliver first told us all that his favorite creation on earth was . . . a cat. We don’t know where this came from. We don’t have a cat and neither do any of his friends. He has had very little exposure to cats. But he was firm in his opinion and, when asked why, responded, “Well, one of the reasons is that they say ‘meow!'” And who can argue with that?

Both the boys told us about how they would act if they Savior was always standing near. Oliver would “say nice things and smile.” He would also read scriptures to keep the commandments because he really likes keeping the commandments. And Simon would pray and try to keep the golden rule, which, in case you didn’t know, is “Do unto others as you would have others do to you.” So yes, we were already beaming with pride when Simon got up and said, “I wish we could all see the Savior near us, especially when we are having  hard day. Sometimes heaven feels so far away and I feel very alone. Wouldn’t it be great if we could pick up the phone and talk with our Heavenly Father? Actually, we know that we don’t need a phone to communicate with Him. He is always listening to our prayers and promises to bless us and comfort us. In D&C 19:38 it says . . . .” (And then another boy read the scripture. At least, I assume that is what happened. I was trying to recover my emotional stability and missed a few things in the interim.)

It was pretty great. But that isn’t all, because on Saturday night I got an e-mail from a friend letting us know that the letter Simon wrote to the Friend magazine had been published! We hadn’t seen it yet, but we were so excited. I tried to wake Simon up to show him, but he was much too tired. When he did see it, however, he was pretty happy. I hope that this encourages him to continue to get involved and to speak up and to be a part of things. I feel so lucky to know these little people. Even if they do leave me speechless and crying sometimes.

she speaks!

she speaks!

And this is what she says:

Mama (“Mama!” and possibly “llama” as well)
Dad (“Da!)
Elsa (“Eh-ya!” or “El-duh!”)
bye-bye (“buh-buh!”)
duck (“duh!”)
dog (“dah!”)
doll (“dah!”)
bear (“beah!”)
yes (“yep!” or “yeh!”)
cat (“ca!”)
cow (“cow!”)
moo (“moooo!” or “boooo!”)
no (“NO!” – she’s very good at that one. Especially at naptime/bedtime.)
I love you (“Ah ya ya!”)

(She’s very exclamatory.)

And she signs, too:

milk
please
thank you
all done
more/again

party on, Oliver!

party on, Oliver!

Okay, so perhaps the best moment of Oliver’s birthday party was the prayer. Oliver likes to pray, so once we had a critical mass of guests and felt like we could get the party started, we asked him to offer a prayer. He did, and if I am not mistaken, the one thing he asked for was, “That all the presents that I’m going to open will be the presents that I really like.”

And that is this kid, in a nutshell.

The party itself went great. Our friends were very forgiving of the fact that we kinda sorta threw it all together the night before/morning of. (I sped home from Trader Joe’s on the bike hoping that if I caught the lights well enough I could get there by 11, which is when the party was scheduled to start. And once I got home, I still had to make the food. Oops.) The nacho bar was a hit. (Yes, all I had to do to prep the food was cut up some tomatoes and olives and make an easy cheese sauce. But still.) And the “parade” in which Oliver was going to publicly debut his cycling skills, was fun, but Oliver kinda sorta chickened out once he realized that he wasn’t going to be the fastest one there.

What can I say? . . . He’s my kid.

(We did manage to get him to go around the block as planned, after we explained that it wasn’t a race, it was just a parade, but he rode on his friend’s scooter and she rode his bike – with me lending my hands and back and legs to help her do it. Yes, I was sore the next day.)

As far as the presents. I know you are all dying to know if they were the presents that he really liked. He got a magic set – which was 200% appropriate, but which Simon immediately co-opted. And a couple of cars. A new pair of pajamas. A Cars diary with a key(!!!). A wooden car/art set so he can paint it himself. A Star Wars puzzle. A monster truck that makes a lot of noise and which Elsa would like to claim as her own if it weren’t actually Oliver’s favorite. And . . . hmmm. That’s all I can remember. But I assure you, they were all the presents he really liked. Every last one of them.

apples apples apples

apples apples apples

Apple butter. Apple fritters. Apple latkes. Apple sauce. Apple cake. Those are the things we made from the apples we picked at the New Jersey farm we went to a couple of weeks ago. We picked way more than we knew what to do with, but in the end, we wished there were more. After making all of those things and eating as many raw apples as we wanted, I still didn’t get to make an apple pie like I wanted to! Too bad. I suppose the fact that we ate an entire apple pie straight from the pie plate for lunch that day makes up for it.

But aside from the apples, there were lots of other fun things about the farm. Like the stacked hay bales for the kids to climb on. Oliver was nervous about it at first, but before to long he was crawling all over it like a little monkey.

And then there was the corn maze, which is what Micah was most excited about. We each took turns picking which way to go at the forks and we managed to see a whole lot of the corn field that way.

There was also the hayride to and from the apple trees, which was Oliver’s favorite part.

Simon claims that he really liked actually picking the apples, which I totally didn’t see coming. I thought for sure the maze would be the thing he wouldn’t stop talking about. But no, picking apples off the tree was more fun than anything else.

Elsa slept through most of it, thank goodness, although she and I did take a couple of selfies once she woke up, just to keep her entertained while she was contained in the carrier. She also enjoyed the apple we gave her to gnaw on as we filled our bags full of apples.

My favorite part was just getting out of the city and not borrowing a friend’s car to do it. For a long time now we’ve been trying to make peace with the fact that if we want to go places, we’re going to have to do a car share every now and then. And we did make peace with that fact, at least for one day. And that felt good (even if the accompanying carsickness did not).