Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

Nine days. Nine Costumes. Game on.

Covered in sweat, faux fur, and the high-pitched fervor that only accompanies intense self-deception, she huddles over the sewing machine. It must be the last week in October at the d'Evegnees.


Peter and Marie, wearing a couple costumes from our 2008 theme for a Halloween Party. 
My Halloween Princesses
  Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Healing Power of the Oregon Coast

Our little Harvest Break get-away may have saved our sanity.  Now we can face Rexburg reality with a little more cheer. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Volume: 7? Maybe 6? Issue: Uhhhhh. . . I Know I HAVE Issues, But Have I Published an Issue This Year?

Editor's Note:
I have been editorially devoted to The Rexburg Review for almost eight years now, and it has never suffered a gap like the one that brought the house down this year.

When I started The Review, (shortening it makes it sound more significant and worldly) it was our perky family newsletter that cheerfully made its way via snail-mail to family and close friends.  I dragged my fingers reluctantly into the world of blogging because it seemed painfully impersonal and glaringly self-promoting.  But with Eric's family living so far away, I knew it was the most practical option and would allow me to share enough photos and videos to make everyone squirm just the right amount.  That's what you do when you love people, right?

I never thought I'd share anything really personal on a blog.  And then during this last pregnancy I did.  The emotions were churning too close to the surface and they overflowed on to the page.  And it didn't  hurt too much.  I cringed in Eric's direction and told him it was making me sick to think of how my private thoughts were out there on that interweb thing.  I'd always tried to hide behind stories about the kids so that people wouldn't see me lurking there.  He shook his head in his loving way and said, "You're there, you know.  In the stories.  You've never been hiding."
Oh. . .

Here's hoping that the self-deception continues in a more regular way.

Peter's Progress

Truth be told, Eric and I have been concerned about Peter's verbal prowess since he was eighteen months old.  Peter has not moved forward in linguistic leaps and bounds, but rather slow strides, one word at a time.  I admit that I've taken more than one online test to determine whether our little Chris Farley look-a-like had a legitimate issue, but I've felt that I needed to exercise more patience and love his sweet silence (when it wasn't punctuated by frustrated tantrums because he wasn't understood).

It's been well worth the wait, especially when I see him deliberately make good choices because he can recognize for himself that they are good.  The tantrums (most of them anyway) have been replaced by thoughtful pauses.  Peter makes me understand repentance better because the good choices haven't always been the "natural" ones the way they've been for some of our other kids.  But I love watching the wheels turn behind his bright, blue eyes as he weighs his different options and then finally settles on the "right" one because he understands why it's the right one.  

Over the past year, Sweet Pete has started speaking in not only sentences, but humor-filled, carefully measured sentences that reflect some of the loveliest observations I can imagine.

Example #1
Peter didn't just fall down this year.  When he came in from playing outside, he rubbed his head and lamented, "I broke my crown!"

Example #2
When Peter was hungry, he said, "My stomach is on 0 points."

Example #3
One day while exploring his facial orifices, he excitedly exclaimed, "I found gold in my nose!"
I tried not to laugh out loud and responded, "Well, you need to put it in a tissue and put it in the trash."
He shook his head emphatically and shouted, "No! Gold is good!"

Example #4
You may have heard that my pregnancy with Charles was fairly difficult (from me, mostly).  As I was experiencing one of my many hormone-related crying jags, Peter said, "Don't cry Mom, or our house will be broken!"

Example #5
When Peter came to see me in the hospital just after Charlie was hatched (cringe), he noticed how the maternity ward was on lock down for security purposes.  When Charlie and I finally came home, Peter said to me, "They took the key and locked you up!"

Example #6
Peter saw President Monson on TV and asked, " Is that President Monson?"  He then said thoughtfully, "He's a President. . . and a Jedi. . . and a Person!" Yes, Peter.  I agree.

Cheer Up Charlie
    With our miniscule man, this is both a command and a description.  He is what the medical community (at least online) calls a "scrawny screamer."  His near-constant squawks of discomfort remind us that mortality is more difficult than it is easy.  His acid reflux and colic seem to create an internal cocktail of misery and we have to keep reminding him : "Cheer up, Charlie.  It will get better."
    But the little dude sure does bring us a load of cheer.  I can't imagine a baby so simultaneously sweet and cranky.  Some of his nicknames are: Char-Char Binx (or Char-Char), Chuckles, Charlie Brown, Charlemagne (or Charle-pain if he's been belly-aching for a while), Sir Charles, Charles Dutoit (thanks to G-pa Hafen) and Mr Dickens (which is my personal favorite partly because Holden made it up on the fly one day.  "Mom, Can I hold Mr Dickens?").

From day one, Charlie has been passed around like some yummy plate of cookies, with everyone clamoring for more.  When I need to use both of my Charlie-filled hands, I will shout out, "Who wants to hold Charlie?" and I can count on multiple shouts of "Me! Me! Me" as twelve hands reach out.

Eve dotes on him so maternally that sometimes I linger a bit just to watch her attentive interactions with her favorite fellow.  One day she exclaimed, "Charlie is really good at rock paper scissors!  He keeps winning!  He keeps doing paper and I keep doing rock and he wins every time!"

Caleb observed one day, "Charlie isn't good for much. . . except entertainment."

Typical Eve

Yesterday one of Eric's colleagues couldn't remember Eve's name and said, "What is her name?  The sassy one?"

As Eric was leaving for work, he teased Eve (as usual) by saying, "Are you going to cry when I leave?" A few minutes later, he said, "Eve, you're not crying?"
Stone-faced, she responded, "You're not leaving."

Typical Caleb
Our mild-mannered Caleb has developed a dry sense of humor that only occasionally emerges.  When it does, though, it makes me wish he would share what's going on in that cute Belgian head of his more often.

I was cooking our favorite Sopapilla Cheesecake and couldn't find the cinnamon in the spice cupboard or on the counter.  I asked the kids to help me search for the spice (I'll refrain from any Dune digressions) and Caleb emerged triumphant a few seconds later and said, "I found it on the flour!  That's why they call it ground cinnamon!"

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Harry Potter Party for a Week--August 2011

     You're going to read this and think I've been hit by a Confundus Curse. But I haven't. Since reading each and every one of the 4,175 pages out loud to our four oldest children, my literary love-affair with the Harry Potter series has spread like a wonderful, wordy contagion in our family.
I started on page one of Book One, inwardly tittering with glee as I read with an American accent for the description and then spiced up the dialogue with an English accent. I thought it would be entertaining if not terribly cute. By page two, I was inwardly praising my talent, but Ethan cleared his throat in an Umbridge-y fashion and said with clear distaste, “Ummm, Mom? Please don’t do that.”
     The rest of the 4, 173 pages were read with a decidedly boring Utah-American accent, except when the kids so graciously allowed me to read Fleur and Madame Maxime’s lines with my French accent (Merci, mes enfants!).
     More often than not, as we got sucked into the magical world each night and one chapter would turn into two (or three), Eric would appear in the doorway of the boys’ room warning, “Sarah. . . do you know what time it is? You’ve been reading for an hour-an-a-half!” Whoops.
    The kids and I were linked together by words and images so tightly that it was like an invisible thread had been cut and we were plopped back into reality, finding ourselves leaning forward on the edge of the beds, as if we could somehow lean in closer to Harry and his happenings. They always begged me to read “Just one more chapter, Mom. Please?” Could I deny them their educational right? I didn’t think so.
     The door we opened to that nightly bubble of fiction made us forget the petty cares of the day as we entered the ever-gratifying world of wizards. By the end of Book Seven I couldn't read it out loud without blubbering. (Like I ever do anything without blubbering anymore!) Harry’s rite of passage will always be connected to those years in our lives and we’re better for it.
     Nostalgia aside, Rowling’s wizarding world is jammed with sensory detail that lends itself to planning a darn good party! The food, the games, and the culture beg to be part of a long “To do” list, especially when you’ve got seven kids and a blissfully empty-calendared summer in which to plan and play.
     For Camp d'Evegnee, last week (the WHOLE thing) was dedicated to all things Harry Potter. We immersed ourselves in it wholeheartedly to the point that were positively drunk with whimsy and Butterbeer.
     Each day for a FULL week, we had a Potter-esque dinner, dessert, activity and a movie so we could revisit all of them before the grande finale at the theater. (I am exhausted! But, as with life, the mess was worth the memories.)
First, the food. Since we are currently sans house elf, we had to do all the cooking and the resulting piles of dishes. . . oh, so many dishes. To see ALL of the recipes and tips for creating them, please go to our Recipe Blog HERE

That tart may look tantalizingly innocuous enough, but she BURNS! SHE BURNS!!!

We took a Tour through Hogsmeade:
SWEET Visit to Honeydukes:
We had Butter Beer at the Three Broomsticks

And. . . We visited The Shrieking Shack (after we somehow packed all that sugar into our fragile, magical systems)
For ALL of the recipes we used to make our concoctions, please go to my Recipe Party Blog found HERE

I feel a little like I drank a full batch of Polyjuice Potion when I think of all of the food, drink, and sweets we consumed. I’m going to be Yaxleying any minute now (oh boy).
Luckily we worked off some of the calories by making freezer paper stencil t-shirts (which took two days because we painted both the front and the back of our t-shirts). For a complete tutorial about how to make your own t-shirt, go here. We also decorated dollar store brooms and played a little non-flying Quidditch (aka broom hockey).

Who knew Quidditch was so exhausting?
(It looks like it swept Marie off her feet! Merlin’s pants, I’m tired!)

For the grand finale, we smuggled bottles of Butterbeer and hot mini meat pies and pumpkin pasties into the movie theater to watch the second part of the Deathly Hallows. Holden and Ethan cried nearly as much as I did and I could hear them sniffing in tandem with me throughout the show.

You’d think after a week of Harry Potter being crammed down their throats, they’d all want to perform some killing curses on themselves if I made them do one more magical thing, but I caught them in the backyard performing spells as they jumped on the trampoline. You just need to hear Marie squealing, "Expelliarmus" once and you'll want to have Potter Party of your own.

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