Saturday, May 12, 2012

Volume VIII, issue iv. April 2012

Conference Fort

Eve takes on the clear role of leader when she plays with her younger siblings.  She's 50 percent maternal and 50 percent bossy-pants, which suits the three Littles just fine. They disappear for hours as they dress up in costumes and explore unknown worlds and plot-lines.

While we watched General Conference the first weekend in April, Eve helped her mini minions create a massive fort with blankets and toys.  It spanned the length of the family room and occupied its happy occupants for many peaceful moments. (Although, as you can see, Charlie wasn't so sure about the whole ordeal by the end.)

We spent several tender days in Utah this month. The funeral for my niece, Chaya, was the sweetest I've ever attended. Because it was held right before Easter weekend, we had a perfect taste of the real meaning of the holiday and didn't need to hunt for eggs or eat candy.  The kids absorbed the sacredness of it all and keep Chaya and her family in their prayers with no reminders from us. I can't put to words how extraordinary her life was.

This shot was taken at the cemetery in Provo where sweet Chaya was buried.  Oh, how I love these folks!

Exploring Boise

Eric was asked to attend a conference in Boise for English Department chairs for all of the universities in Idaho, and we were able to use  a BYU-I twelve passenger van so the rest of us could tag along. The kids loved stretching out and the van felt downright cavernous compared to our suburban.

My little baby whisperers took turns sitting next to Sir Charles, which made the hours in the car fly by.  They don't just sit by him; they entertain him so well and with so much creativity and enthusiasm that they should be on the family payroll (but don't tell them that).  I caught Ethan sticking his head under a blanket he had placed over Charlie's carseat (try saying that three times fast [I mess it up everytime I say it]) and when Charlie coughed, Ethan would bark out, "Gollum! Gollum!"

When it was Eve's turn, she took her job very seriously. When her cute little charge started crying, I heard her say sternly (but with love), "Charles B. d'Evegnée, we do NOT cry like that!" Charlie hiccupped a little, frowned and then soberly stopped crying.

As we picnicked in one of Boise's parks, we began to feel a little Hitchcockesque ornithophobia building as many fine feathered friends flocked around us. One of the adorable little ducks had a strange gait and I shouted out, "Look!  One of those ducks only has one leg!"

Eric asked, "Which one?"

I rolled my eyes and paused before answering dryly, "The one hopping."

We were so proud of our nerdy kids when they dubbed our webbed buddy "Leg-a-less" in honor of their adoration of The Lord of the Rings. (And if you're counting, that is indeed the second allusion in this edition.)

                                               King Charles has got all of his servants/siblings
                                                    wrapped around his tiny, royal finger.
 Guy Fieri claimed that the prime rib at the Westside Drive Inn in Boise was some of the best he'd ever had, so we couldn't stop ourselves from trying it when we were only a few miles away.  (You can see the clip of it on youtube here.)

A drive inn run by a professional chef?  Count me in. Despite the chilling wind and the gawking patrons in the drive-through, we pushed a couple of tables together and shared several entrees so we could sample the "Steak Fingers," Prime Rib, and the Meatloaf Sandwich.

Before we left, my inhibitions were gone along with the Prime Rib and I found myself drinking a swallow or two of the Au Jus. (Like I could just leave it!) I couldn't help but agree with Guy.  It was deep, rich, and filled my palate with happiness.  Ethan balked at me when I asked him if he wanted to try a spoonful before we left and he said, "Would YOU want to try some if your Mom had just taken a drink of it?"  However, as I started clearing our trays, he couldn't resist asking for a last-minute sip.  That's my boy!

We shared some of their Idaho Ice Cream Potatoes made out of vanilla ice cream molded to look like a spud that has been dusted with cinnamon and chocolate powder and drizzled with home-made chocolate sauce. Don't hate me fellow Idahoans, but it just might be better than the real thing.
We took advantage of the hotel pool several times and even Charlie enjoyed the water.  (And with that buoyant belly, who wouldn't?)


Marie turned a shocking four-years-old this month.  We'll save her "friend" party for the next edition. . . since April was uber-packed and. . . we haven't had it yet.

Because Marie cried every time she didn't get asked to say the prayer at dinner (and because her Daddy turns to mush every time she looks at him), Eric has started asking her to say the blessing on the food every night. This has gone on for at least three or four months. Every night. The other kids don't mind one bit because Marie's prayers are short, sweet and get right to the point, which allows them to start inhaling their food sooner and get on to their seconds and thirds.  She blesses the food, asks Heavenly Father to bless Chaya's family and ends.

One night when Eric called on her to say the prayer just like he had every day for days on end, she looked into the air thoughtfully and mused, "Somehow. . . I say the prayer a lot."

Then she sighed, smiled appreciatively and said the prayer.

Adventurous Eaters

On a little trip I took in April, I achieved one of my lifelong dreams to shop at Trader Joe's.  (See?  It doesn't take that much to make me happy.)  Luckily I was driving my car so I wasn't too embarrassed by the bags loaded with simmer sauces, french cheese, and tapenades. I couldn't resist throwing in some exotic items for the kids so that we could have a taste-testing extravaganza for Family Home Evening the day after I got home.  I had to snap photos of their facial contortions as they sampled chocolate-covered potato chips, wasabi seaweed, chili-lime cashews, and wasabi peas.

My Two Four-Eyes

Well, the Hafen-genes finally kicked in.  We'd made it thirteen years with my super-strength prescription being enough for all of us and I was starting to hope that Eric's 20/20 vision would prevail. Unfortunately, both Eve and Holden started complaining about not being able to see the board at school, so we all headed down to the same optometrist I used to visit as a kid.  As a young Rexburg lass, I had always felt nervous, flawed, shy, and queasy before a doctor's appointment of any kind, so I was concerned about Eve.  But she just chatted away and swung her legs as the Dr tested her eyes.  Sometimes her native confidence stuns me.

As we chose frames, I had to nudge/shove them in a practical direction as best I could, although I did let each of them get a "fun" pair.  (Thank you, Zenni optical! If you need cheap glasses go here. I should seriously be getting paid for all of these endorsements.)

Eve chose frames that  are a shade of blue so brilliant it hurts, and of course they are dotted with so many hearts and rhinestones that even Dolly Parton would blush. I told her that it would probably be "best" if she only wore them when she wears blue. . . you know, so they would match.

 Each night Eve carefully lays out her clothes in the hallway so that she won't wake up Marie in the morning.  When she plans on wearing blue for school, she lays out her clothes and her favorite glasses.
I admit that I cringe a little inside on those blue days. . . but I love the black frames (that I suggested/chose).

Double Digits

Caleb turned 10 on the last day of April.  He is starting to grow into himself and the boy who used to hide under the table when friends or family came over is now at-ease, witty, and nurturing. His friends adore him and he has a constant stream of friends lining up to play.  A neighbor commented to me that as she was driving home one day, she noticed a crowd of kids gathered on the sidewalk.  She described how they were all surrounding our Caleb, listening to him as he animatedly told a story.  She laughed as she said, "They were all so intent that I almost rolled down the window so I could hear what fabulous tale he was sharing!"

For his birthday dinner request, Caleb deliberated for weeks and then thoughtfully chose crepes for the main course and cheesecake for dessert.  I consented because, after all, you're only ten once.  Holden told us later that for his health class the next week, they had to report how many calories they had consumed each day. He had sheepishly totaled over 1000 calories for his little brother's birthday dinner.  (Although he sure didn't complain as he wolfed down five crepes and two pieces of cheesecake that night!)

Eric insists that the kids pronounce the word "crêpe" correctly, which causes some fun, scatologically related ambiguity. (Pronounce it with the soft e sound--as in, rhymes with Depp. We don't eat "craypse" at our house--Eric winces if we even try. ) Maybe it was our French pronunciation, but Charlie seemed utterly perplexed.

 Cute Caleb got to invite a few friends to a "Caleb 10" birthday bash.  (I got to come too, but only because I was the driver.)

On Turning Ten

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed. 
Billy Collins

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