Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Pregnant Pause for Christmas

Pregnancy-induced Insomnia Thought of the Night: Necessity whittled down the holidays to their raw form. No parties; no projects; no presents gleefully deposited door-to-door. I'm wistful. But knowing it's all about the baby makes it lovely somehow in its simplicity.

It's all about The Baby.

Merry, Merry Christmas indeed!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Eve's Stake Conference Debut

Pre-recorded for your viewing pleasure.

You know the mental check-list you scroll through when you get a call from the Stake Executive Secretary. Am I due for a new calling? Is Eric due for a new calling? Did someone see my pants fall down at the gas station and finally report me for lewd conduct?

When the call came last week, my indiscretions flashed before my eyes until I heard the words, "Can you bring Eve with you?"

Eve? Sure, she did dabble in some familial Halloween candy thievery this year, but I didn't think that merited a talk with the Stake President. Plus, she hasn't even been baptized. I can't help but pull out the old quote from Hafen family lore when an eight-year-old, Jon, said about a seven-year-old Dave, "He's still got another year before he gets baptized, so I told him to live it up!"

On Tuesday night, we informed Eve that the Stake Presidency wanted to talk to her and she didn't seem the least bit concerned. Luckily, Eric is friends with the first counselor who had given him a clue that it had something to do with Stake Conference.

Eve sat in her chair across from the dark-suited trio and stared them down like they were the ones being interviewed. The adjective that kept coming to mind as I watched the way Eve looked at the authority figures was "steely." Her steely gaze never faltered as the Stake President told her that the Stake Primary President had loved her talk in our ward's Primary Program so much that they wanted her to give it for Stake Conference.

Eve didn't even pause. She just said, "No."

And kept on staring.

The men sort of cleared their throats and smiled and said, "Well, Eve. . . perhaps you could think it over and talk with your parents and they can get back to us later."

When we got home, Eric was embarrassed, but, man, I was just proud. I reminded Eric that we've taught her to be cautious around people she doesn't know and as far as I was concerned, she'd sort of passed the "stranger danger" test. You go, girl.

Of course, we sat her down and explained to her how much people at Stake Conference would love her talk, but that it was up to her. She sort of shrugged and agreed like it was no big deal.

Because, really, why would speaking in front of HUNDREDS of people be a big deal?

To a six-year-old?

This morning, I kept flashbacking to Stake Conference three years ago when I was pregnant with Marie. Thirty minutes into the meeting, Eric had to flee the building with a blow-out saturated Peter. Thirty-seven minutes into the meeting, I knew that I was what Robert Fulghum once described as "a living grenade with the pin pulled out." I told the four older kids to follow me as I covered my mouth and b-lined for the Ladies' Room, which to my horror, had a line several women long. As I did my Lamaze breathing double-time, I furiously whispered to the kids, "Follow me. . . NOW!" and like traumatized little ducks, they scurried after me in a running row across the street to our house. I yelled out to Holden as we neared our house, "Run ahead! Open the door! Open the door!" As I flew into the house and headed straight to the bathroom, Eric looked up from Peter's diaper explosion clean-up and yelled out an encouraging, "It's. . . all. . . in your head!" as I upchucked enthusiastically for the first of many times with his words still echoing in the bathroom.

But this morning my usual nausea was also accompanied by flurries of nerves on Eve's behalf that made me an absolute sick mess. I had a bag full of saltines and gum, but I was still a major gag-fest. I had to keep reminding myself not to let my nerves radiate to my calm and collected daughter who had a happy, carefree morning as I dry-heaved and retched my way to 10 AM. I had to stop myself from asking her if she was nervous several times and I could tell Eric was doing the same.

I simply told her, "Eve, you'll be awesome!" and she responded, "I know."

Eric sat on the stand with Eve, who didn't seem bothered by the rows of Conference-goers that filled the chapel, the gym, and the stage of the Church. We were so far back in the gym that we had to watch Eve on the big screen. Marie sat up in her seat and squealed when she saw Eve saunter up to the pulpit and we all beamed up at her.

Since she was the kick-off talk, she and Eric were able to come and sit with us when she was done, and she grinned as she walked back to our row. I told her she had done "awesome" and she said, "It felt like my stomach was on fire!" You and me both, kiddo.

The talk started off as a simple mother-daughter endeavor for a talk Eve was assigned for Primary, then became her part in the Ward's Primary Program, and then she gave it in Stake Conference. I can almost see Lea Michele shrieking in her dewy-eyed, peppy, short-skirted way as she step-ball-changes across the high school hallway: "Now she's ready for NATIONALS!"

You might not be able to tell from the video, but she's wearing a strawberry-bedecked frock, a bracelet with a big strawberry dangling from it, and the bow in her hair has a strawberry embroidered on it. And. . . I honestly didn't buy any of it for the occasion. It was stuff we already had. . . you know. . . just kicking around in her closet, like I'm sure everyone else with a daughter TOTALLY does. (Yes, you can let your jaw drop and shake your head at me. I KNOW already.)
Our Strawberry Girls

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pregnant Thoughts in the Afternoon

Les disciples Pierre et Jean courant au sépulcre le matin de la Résurrection. Eugène BURNAND, 1898. Musée d’Orsay.

Let's see if I can get this out before I have to run for refuge in the bathroom. (If I use bigger words than usual it's because I get that way when I am sick and tired. . . just a quirk I fully realized recently.)

While in one of my many horizontal positions yesterday, feeling particularly afflicted and needy as I groaned under the blanket that I wear like a cape when it isn't over me, I caught a glimpse of these two anxious fellows on my wall.

The first time I met them was during my days as a post-mission traveler in France, cruising through the culture-doused streets of Paris with nagging anxieties about my future clawing into what should have been a care-free vacation with a good friend (whose rich "uncle" was paying for the whole shebang!). While I should have been joyfully diving into patisseries and appreciating only the layers of butter and air, I was worrying about that whole husband thing. Would I ever meet him? The One? Would I be too flawed for him to love me back? There were no prospects at the time and while I was prepared to run to him with open arms, I had serious doubts that he actually existed.

We wandered through museum after museum, feeling that floaty sensation that carries you through truly good art--the one where you feel like the paint is lifting you with soft fingers over the crowds and over all your woes just because it is there in front of you. Snapping into an ethereal connection between creator and audience, like they created it just for you in that moment.

In the Musée d'Orsay, I could almost hear the ghost trains sighing out steam around us as we wandered the hallways. That's when I saw Peter and John. That's when I saw me in their worry-ridden faces and clenched hands. I was them, running towards the unknown, not knowing what its face would look like when I saw it.

But I couldn't deny the beauty of that breathless morning behind them--all around them. Something bigger than what was inside of them was all around them. Undeniable despite not being seen. . . yet.

The fact that they were frozen in the tension just made it more breathtaking, more like how I felt most of the time.

I bought a print in the museum store and carted it around with me the rest of my trip, bringing it home a wrinkled mess after all of the travel, which was fine because it seemed more appropriate that way.

The rest of that particular chapter is family history. He did come. He did love me. And I only had to wait two aching years to make the dream real.

So yesterday, Peter and John reached out to me again. They were me again. They are me again. So much unknown. So much stillness. So much hope. So much frozen motion. . . and motion sickness.

And yet the sunrise is there too. I have so much beauty ahead. It will come because it always does. He always does.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Halloween Costume Reveal 2010 (and a little surprise)

Chicka-Bow-WOW! Lucky Number Seven! And in case you're wondering, the answer is YES. Yes, I do feel as awful as I am pretending not to look. Worst. Pregnancy. Ever.

Luckily I had been planning the costumes around this much-anticipated pregnancy, so Eric and I planned them almost a year ago so that I could get them done even if I was completely overwhelmed by Hurricane Preggo. We're looking forward to meeting our new player the beginning of May 2011!

Since I was in my usual reclining-like-some-Greek-Goddess pose on the couch on Friday night, it was a perfect place to spend forty-five minutes putting a plethora of curlers (no, not piñatas, El Guapo!) in Ethan's thick locks. He has been wanting a "real afro" since we told the kids about the costumes a few weeks ago and even refused to let me shear his mane. He wore the curlers all night and then all throughout the day on Saturday. He was so proud of the result I could practically hear his giddiness in the air around his fro. Total, afro-puff, man!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Peter's Toy Story Party

The invitation:

I felt so much pity for Woody when only one boy chose the "Woody Side" that I actually made a couple of them make the switch without their knowledge (as in "Here, let me fix your cape for you, Buddy!"). How can you watch Toy Story an estimated gazillion times and not have your heart-strings pull for the cowboy?

When I was pregnant with Peter and found out I was having boy #4, people asked me if I was disappointed. Are you kidding me? My internal organs get all soft and sappy when I think of little boys and I could never get enough! I could have just squished all these boys together and made a little pie of cuteness and eaten the whole thing myself. (I don't know exactly what that means, but you get the general gist, right?)

I had been wanting to do a Superman Party, but finally gave in (and you can plainly see how I still stubbornly used some of my super-hero ideas in the planning).

The green grapes were a must on the Pizza Planet menu. Every time we're in the produce section and Peter sees them he yells delightedly, "Look! Buzz Lightyear grapes!"

Just looking at this busty creation makes me feel slightly sick, like a mandatory nap is around the corner. This fellow bordered on confectionary deviance. I was insanely determined to master a 3-D Buzz cake, so I planned out my strategy for days before the party. I ended up using THREE cake mixes, two pans, about six hours of after-hours labor, and absolutely no common sense. When I finally tucked my frosting-covered, obviously stupid self into bed some time after 4 AM, I had to get up again and take about twelve pictures of the cake because I was sure it would somehow be magically destroyed by morning.

When we were chowing down on the cake, Caleb looked at me between sweet mouthfuls and said wryly, "Well, it looks like this is the last party this Buzz is going to!"

No, you di-unt. Yes. We did. We just used a butter-knife as a party guillotine and lopped the poor guy's cranium clean off. It was too funny to watch Peter's expression as we served it up on a platter (I will refrain from making any inappropriate Biblical allusions here. Sorry, Mr Baptist, for even thinking of it.)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Volume VI, issue viii, August 2010

Caleb's Big Day

Even though Caleb's 8th birthday was in April, he chose to wait until July to be baptized so that his cousins could be there (with the exception of his only cousin on the d'Evegnee side, who was still too little, having just been born a few weeks earlier--HOORAY for MATTHEW!).

When I leaned close with my proudly glistening eyes after the big moment and reverently him asked how it felt to be baptized, expecting spiritual pearls to spring forth, he said, "Everyone has been asking me that."

I chuckled (which makes me sound really old and matronly and like I'm wearing a mandatory floral jumper, but that is what I did) and prodded a tad, "So. . . how DO you feel?"

My newly purified offspring looked back at me and said, "How do you think I feel?"

* * *
(On the sweeter side)

A few weeks before Caleb's baptism, we were having Family Home Evening and I was giving the lesson about choices and consequences (sound familiar?). I told the kids that I always wanted them to make good choices so that we could always be together as a family, sort of like on the same "team." I told them that we need to plan now so that when they get older they will still be able to feel the Spirit in their lives. I asked them what we could do as a family to make sure that happens. The other kids gave some great responses, but Caleb was quiet as he studied his folded hands.

As the others stampeded into the kitchen for the treat, Caleb stayed behind and whispered, "I know what we can do to help us always be together."

"What, Caleb?"

He softly answered, "We can always try to feel the way we feel when we are holding Marie."

(I can't even write about it without getting several lumps in my throat.) That's when I sure he was ready to be baptized.

All Petered Out
(Spoiler : This contains my favorite story in a good long time. And THAT is saying something!)

Peter has been a man of few words for a long time. We've tried to encourage him to "use his words" and we've even helped him pray for "more words" during his bedtime prayers. Perhaps there was no need for him to talk with Caleb the "Peter Whisperer" around, or perhaps he didn't want to waste his words on those of us who wouldn't appreciate them. However, during the last few months, both Peter's personality and sentence structure have blossomed into an irresistible mixture of humor, charm, and sincerity.

Peter's Sunbeam teacher from Primary tracked me down last week and said she had a "Peter Story" for me. I said, "Oh no." She said, "No. . . it's funny."

They had been having a lesson entitled "I am Thankful for Food" a few weeks ago (they like to tackle the deeper issues of theology in the Sunbeam class). The teacher asked the kids what foods they liked to eat and Peter raised his hand and started squirming with excitement in his chair. His teacher called on him and he bounced up and down on his little behind as he started to talk.

He took a deep breath and said, "I went to Gamma and Gampas. . . . and. . . . there was FIRE!. . . . and there was. . . .CRACKERS!. . . . and there was. . . MARSHMALLOWS!. . . and there was. . . . CHOCOLATE!!! And. . . and. . . (by this time she said he was wiggling so much in his chair and speaking with so much passion that she was on the edge of her seat) . . . . and it was. . . it was. . . . it was. . . .LOVE!!!!"

As he reached that climatic last word, he sighed and sunk down into his chair with the pure emotion of his story, and grinned with satisfaction.

All Things Bright and Back-to-School


Eric: When is it time for me to spank your butt?

Eve: My butt is too adorable to be spanked.

* * *

Eric was spread out daddy-fashion on the couch when Eve came up to nestle her way into her usual spot in his arms. He looked at her, raised his eyebrows and said, "Why?"

Eve responded, "Because you love me. . . and you MUST."

Eve got to cheer for the good ole' Madison Bobcats (WAHOO to Jon, Dave, Tom, and Cheer-Queen Auntie Em!) after attending the cheerleaders' fund-raiser/cheer camp/booty-shake-fest. (I don't know what the Madison High Cheerleaders are called, but you MUST believe me when I tell you that in the 80's the drill team used to be called the Bob-Cadettes. But there was a minimum bang-height requirement, so I never would have made it. Luckily we moved before I had a chance to seriously consider it.)

During half-time, as Eve clapped and smiled coquettishly at the crowd, I leaned over to one of the other moms and said, "I am just a little ashamed with myself for how cute I find this." I was simultaneously haunted and pleased when someone said, "Wow. Eve is really good at that!" The Eleanor Roosevelt in me huffed a little at the anti-feminist display, while the Kathie Lee part shrieked drunkenly and struggled to get up on the field and shout out Eve's name and perhaps join her in a few hip-gyrations (luckily Eleanor was there to restrain me).

A Shout-Out to Gregor Samsa

Holden has an enviable social ease that has been present since he was a baby. During my hours of piano-lesson teaching and otherwise bringing home the proverbial bacon for my student-husband, Eric used to take Holden on long walks around Provo to survive the stress of speeding his way through school while working at his early morning janitorial job and dealing with a pregnant wife. Even before he was a year old, Holden would wave his bechubbed fingers in such a cheerfully diplomatic way as he hailed any passer-bys within the sound of his high-pitched, "Hi!" that Eric dubbed him "The Senator." Heck, I'd vote for him.

Holden isn't phased by the blowing social winds of middle school, being content with whatever clothes or hairstyle his Mom chooses. For school pictures, we (meaning I) decided to try a new coif that was short around the back and sides, but just a tad longer in front--that sort of "I-just-gelled-my-hair-and-then-ran-into-a-wall look." I cut and styled his hair that morning, telling him how handsome he looked and how much I liked the tween-o-centric style (although I didn't use those exact words).

Even Eric got in on the praise (with a side of teasing, of course) telling him how much Ally Rigby (a heart-breakingly cute blonde in our ward) would like his haircut. Holden shrugged it off and rolled his eyes. But as he put on his jacket to leave and Eric started to put his hood up, Holden swatted his hand away and said, "No! My hair!"

Uh-oh. This scares me much more than Kafka ever could.

I Can't Believe I Didn't Have to Use Butter!

I had to jump on this photo-op before her calves came springing out of the boots and the skirt went zinging off into the trees. I'll probably have to erase this when she's old enough to understand it, but for now, we can exploit her chubby-kneed-ness. When I pack her into little skirts like this, Eric starts to sing a little "Big Legs, Tight Skirt!" Thank you, John Lee Hooker, for not discriminating against the clothing-challenged.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Top d'Evegnee

The Mission: To make 250 bite-sized servings of French Cuisine to be sampled by the youth from our Stake.

I was given the assignment by my friend, Shannon, who is in the Stake Young Women's Presidency. I was thrilled to accept the challenge, but not without my sous-chef, Eric, by my side. (This blog will self-destruct in two minutes. . . or at least the writer will at this rate.)

Eric and I had a little tête-a-tête and settled on whipping up a little vichyssoise and some crepes. I delusionally patted my own back for exercising restraint, but after all of the chopping, cooking, and flipping (out) that went on during the whole process, I can see now that I "over do it" even when the little voice in my head assures me in such a convincing, yet harried, way that I'm not overdoing it. Why didn't we just do one dish instead of two? Looking back, I realized that I honestly had a part of my brain that was hoping the judges would be extra impressed by my execution of two dishes instead of one.

Wait. There WERE no judges! This is reality, Sarah. Not a cooking show, honey! (Too much Top Chef. Too much Iron Chef. Too much Chopped. You caught me!)

Eric and I kept a running gag going about feeling like we were on a reality show, but the pathetic truth is that more than once I felt like I was going to get kicked off the show or lose points if I didn't season our dishes perfectly. . . and I was nervous.

I actually caught myself at one point thinking, "Now, when Shannon comes to our table, I have to make sure I get her a fresh, hot sample."

When I fretted about the seasoning of the soup, Eric tasted it and said, "Well, it's not bad, but I'm not sure what Tom Colicchio is going to think about it."

More than once, Eric and I frantically shouted, "Time!" as we scrambled to get our food completed before 7:00 and then we'd burst into a fit of giggles (that makes Eric sound much too feminine for his liking. . . sorry, man). We started chopping veggies at about 3:30 and barely screeched into the chapel at 6:55.

We gained more empathy for the contestants on those cooking shows, but how many of them have to try and take care of and feed SIX kids while trying to complete their dishes?

The recipes are on the Recipe Blog!

Our kitchen counter was piled high with grocery store bounty, making it look like we had just breezed in from a French Country Fair (We actually had gone to the Madison County Fair the day before, and what it was. . . was NOT breezy. [Unless, that is, your idea of breezy is a combination of toothless carnies, Rexburg Poofs, and chickens. . . lots of chickens]).

When Eric and I used to teach the French Culture Class at the MTC in Provo, he could whip up about fifty crepes in 30 minutes with no errors. (Can you see why I married the kid?) Yesterday he did not disappoint.

We were frantically ladling up soup and setting out samples for a good fifteen minutes before the wave of hormones, acne, and social awkwardness descended upon us. And that's before the youth even got to our table (HAH). Seriously, though, there is a reason you are blind to the reality of adolescence when you're smack dab in the middle of it. I don't care how many clichéd movies there are trying to convince you that you'll learn much-needed life lessons by somehow going backwards or forwards in time or switching places with one of your progeny through magic or voodoo or fortune cookie or hot-tub or DeLorean--you couldn't pay me to go back there.

The hair flipping, flirting, screeching herds milled about the gym in a controlled, orbit-like , caste-based motion that was quite beautiful actually.

And so hypnotic. . . .a whole universe of socially arbitrary, cruel satellites. . .

Both Eric and I watched them for a good three minutes of open-mouthed, horrified silence until we snapped ourselves out of our stunned stupor and looked at each other in mutual gratitude.

We started serving the crowd. Again and again the word "vichyssoise" caused them screw up their faces in that teen look of repugnance I adore so much.

I smiled and told them reassuringly, "It's potato and leek soup," as if that would make their slack jaws and misshapen mouths go back to normal.


I had somehow forgotten that an unknown word like "leek" would wreak havoc on the appetite of our adolescent audience. When I said the word, they looked at me like I had told them I had put a small, fanged, woodland creature in their soup.

Our mind-bogglingly extroverted friend, Derek, helped us serve our French fare, but kept calling the soup, "Viscious Swans" and saying "Craypes" to get on our nerves. He swaggered up to youth, girls or boys, and would say, "Are you ready to eat the most mind-blowing thing you've ever tasted?" After about twenty minutes, he said to Eric, "Okay, I started annoying myself ten minutes ago." That's why we love him, even though he comes from the opposite end of the social spectrum.

Luckily for us, Derek was on our team and the teens reluctantly tried the soup. One of them said to her friend, "Hey. This is just potato soup."

On Saturday, Eric flipped out dozens more crepes for our little frenchies at home for breakfast and we feasted on Vichyssoise, french breads and cheeses for lunch.

Eric insists that our kids say crepe with a french accent, which causes some obvious (but hilarious) linguistic ambiguity. Yes. I do like to exploit my children. But it was so funny I had to get it on tape.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Marie's TWO-TWO Birthday Ballet Bash

Marie turned two an embarrassingly long time ago, but I couldn't bear the thought of not throwing the party I had been planning since I had my ultrasound two-and-a-half years ago.

WARNING: You may want to slide on your sunglasses if you have an aversion to things that are hyper-pink (as in pastel-pepto--which you may need after you witness this overdone party).
Like the two and three year old ballerinas we invited, I like invitations to be interactive so that I can move them from side to side and play with them before I have to take my nap. Marie's invitation was designed for dancing (just like me. . . I love it when I'm so tired I just don't care anymore. No self-edit button? No problem!)

You know it's a rockin' party when a few belly buttons make an appearance! Woot! Woot!

This is a group of people I could hang out with all day and not get tired of. YUM! Is it bad if you kind of want to eat your party guests with lots of whipped cream and frosting? (Don't answer that. I'm not going all Jonathan Swift on you.)

The day after the party, when we were all feeling mighty hung-over from the sweetness of the day before, Peter woke me up too early for a summer morning and dragged me out of bed so I could slop some breakfast in a bowl for him. But he didn't want cereal for his post-party meal. He said to me, "Mom. I want some Barbie-que cake."
The sound of my own belly laugh woke me up. (Especially because I remembered Eric trying to find all sorts of inappropriate locations for the two candles on our cake. . . use your imagination. This is a family blog!)

When we cranked up the classical music and told the pint-sized ballerinas to dance, they all started spinning like little tutu-clad tops and wouldn't stop. They kept turning and turning until we noticed that they were starting to tilt ever so slightly. And then, like some sorority of dizziness, they began to topple over like girls who had had their first taste of tainted punch at the prom. Take a close close look at their little nausea filled faces. Ahh. I do SO know how to party.

As we were prepping Barbie to be eaten (please don't read this aloud to your kids!), Ethan looked at her sugary gown and said, "That cake went straight to her hips!"

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