Our sweet Holden squirms every year at the thought of focusing mostly on him on our mutual birthday, so finally Eric decided that we’d just separate our celebrations. Holden’s birthday dinner consisted of fried macaroni and cheese balls, BBQ ribs, and cheesecake (the prolonged digestion just made the celebration last even longer).
He’s pretty darn sick of us teasing him about turning sixteen in a year. For Christmas, we gave him a present that said “To Holden, From 389 days.” He was completely confused until we made him think about it, and then he just rolled his eyes and said, “I don’t want to open this.” Inside the package was a pair of jeans and a nice sweater. Eric constantly tells him, “You’ve got to give the ladies what they want!” and “How are you going to know if the fishing is good until you look closely at the water?”
January Birthday Girl
For my birthday dinner, Eric surprised me with a wonderfully gourmet meal of Chicken Piccata, angel hair pasta and prosciutto-wrapped asparagus bundles. I sat contentedly working at my desk while Eric and his six sous-chefs created their masterpiece meal in the kitchen. The sounds of scrambling feet and orders being shouted out made me feel like I was writing at a five-star restaurant. The meal was far better than anything we can get within a two hundred mile radius and the kids all agreed that it was the best chicken they’d ever had.
As a riff on our birthday tradition of each person sharing what they like most about the birthday girl or boy, Eric asked the kids to make me a card or to show an object that represented what they like about me. (You already know that I can’t type this without blubbering.) Marie, Peter, and Eve made precious cards. Ethan showed us a blanket and said how I make him feel warm, safe, and comfortable (Yup. Crying). Holden came up behind me and used a stuffed heart we have to give me a hug and said that I make him feel loved.
Caleb spent hours working on two hand-made modern origami projects. One depicted me playing the piano and the other one showed me playing the violin. He said he likes how good I am at playing music. Eric topped off the complete love-fest by making me blubber more than I already was and saying that I was the best gift he could give our children.
I wish I could go back in time and talk to that devastated adolescent who sometimes felt that she wasn’t pretty or charming enough to be completely happy, and tell her that her future was going to be prettier and more charming than she could even conceive of then.
I have been through childbirth seven times. I have held seven of my own children immediately after they surfaced from the painful caverns of my own body. And now when someone asks me how I like being a mother, my automatic tears say wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! I love motherhood and mothering with every cell in my body.
When the Baby Meets the Road
When I’m teaching my classes on MWF, Eric picks up Marie from kindergarten. Charlie is so excited to his beloved “Rie” after a three hour absence that he can hardly wait to see her again. Last Monday, Charlie anticipation caused him to wriggle his skinny body free from the confines of his carseat and he leaned himself against the door and looked out the window for her. One of the teacher’s aides opened the car door for Marie and he toppled head first onto the pavement.
Our littlest pixie-like chap’s run-in with the road was so traumatic that I everyone is still stinging from it. He’s so cute that I think even the road felt bad.
When I saw him with his button nose scraped and scratched and swollen and the bump on his head making him look like a baby Frankenstein, I had to bite my lip so I wouldn’t overreact. By the time we got home, he had completely forgotten about the mishap, so I figured it was okay to capture the sad moment with my camera. He immediately ran to our “photo-op spot” in our entryway and started posing and saying “Cheeeeese!”
He couldn’t wait to catch a glimpse of the photos on my viewfinder and I was a little nervous for him to see what he looked like. When he saw his disfigured mug, he said with concern, “Oh no! I hurt!!”
Yesterday I was trying to get him ready to accompany me to a church meeting and he found the scab on his nose for the first time. He touched it and shrieked “Ow!” Then two seconds later, his chubby finger would wander up to his nose again and he’d shriek, “Ow!” He repeated this no matter how many times I told him that it would hurt if he touched his nose. Luckily the mountains of snow outside were enough to distract him from his pesky nose picking.
Charlie’s vocabulary and sentence structure have been exponentially exploding over the past few weeks. The people in the nursery at Church were stunned at how much more he was talking the last week of December than he had been the first week. Like Ethan did as a pint-sized rhetorician, Charlie didn’t show much interest in individual words. “What does the cow say, Charlie?” Instead of answering “Moo,” he’d just look at us like he didn’t know what we were playing at. So, like his big brother, Charlie hurdled over words and skipped right to sentences. Charlie has been working on saying prayers, so I often call upon him to say the prayer for lunch, when it’s just Marie, Charlie and me who are home during the day. I started the prayer, expecting him to repeat what I was saying, but noticed he wasn’t saying anything. Finally, he gave his best self-righteous glare to Marie and said, “Rie! Eyes OFF!”
My absolute favorite Charlie-ism is when he says “Yes.” It doesn’t sound like that simple affirmation would be miraculous, but when Charlie says it, he adds a slight “J” sound to the beginning. He nods his head with utter guilelessness and sounding like he’s tapping into his Mexican roots on the Kartchner side, he says, “Jyes.” And if I’m ever feeling just a little down, I can hear him speak that one word and then I ask myself if I’m happy and the answer is, “Jyes.”
In Sacrament Meeting, he enjoys surveying the crowd at Church to see who’s being particularly reverent that day, and if someone meets his approval, he’ll give them a grin and a thumb’s up. Holden gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting, and Charlie kept animatedly giving him his best pageant wave. Poor Holden waved back once, but, knowing that everyone else in the congregation could see him, resisted waving and just let a slight grin play on the edges of his mouth as he tried not to look at Charlie.
Our little ladies both had dance performances this month and they did not disappoint. Marie’s performance was during halftime for the Rigby High girls’ basketball team, so she was able to perform before literally handfuls of people! Eve performed before a similar crowd at the Salem High School girls basketball halftime. I love having them learn coordination and movement, but I just can’t distinguish between some of their choreography and what I would just call “booty shaking.” Since Rexburg doesn’t offer much in the way of modern dance, we’ll just have to settle for the wiggling hips and shoulder shimmies while they’re young enough that it isn’t that offensive
It’s. . . Rolling Hills. . . Chorister!
We wanted to teach the youth how to lead music without putting them to sleep, so we decided to add costumes, competition, and really, really corny youth leaders to the mix.
I had a little too much fun designing the graphics. . . (Ours is the Rolling Hills Ward.)
How I introduced them:
C Lo High C: Is feelin' kinda. . . low (said with slow bass voice). (This was actually a tribute to my Dad, who says this all the time and I love it.)
Ms Christina Aquavista: Just completed a tour of South America giving under privileged children fashion tips.
Mr Rick Cowell: Sometimes knows as The King of Mean or The Super Conductor. New Album “Pluck My Heart Strings, but Not With Your Pizz.” (Only the strong players got that one!)
Wow. Oh. . . the sacrifices I make for the Church! I can't believe the things I'll do for our youth. . . (I'm sure they can't either!) I was the MC for the event. I used an exaggerated British accent that was just like Miss Charming's in Austenland. Tally-Ho!!!
The funny thing (besides how I look here) is that I was actually the Ward Chorister in my college ward when I was 19 and I HATED it because I had to stand up in front of people. My how times have changed. . .
(And, even though you can't see it, I was wearing a knee-length black skirt under my tutu. . . so I was completely modest there, in case you were concerned.)
Miss C: Our Lovely Leading Lady:
How I introduced her: I like to call her, “The Cherylizer!” She’s just written a new book, “Chorister Line.” She’s going to teach you to lead in 3/4 time and in 4/4 time, but what’s sure is you’ll have a GOOD time!
Cheryl is a piano teacher in our ward and was uncharacteristically dramatic in her role. She had sort of a half-British half-Russian accent and I think we were all surprised at her acting—I think she even surprised herself! It was pretty hilarious and once the kids realized they were allowed to laugh, they LOVED it!
Round One: The kids were divided into teams with a good balance of musical experience and then they competed with kids who had the same level of experience. The kids had to pick up a Hymnbook and quickly turn to the page the judges had chosen. Then they had to find the time signature and start leading it. They were judged on speed and accuracy. I was amazed at how much the silly costumes they choose from our costume pile were so liberating for them.
We had a playlist that had a mix of hymn and pop songs on it. They had to listen for the beat and then lead the song.
That's our Ethan on the far right. He literally rolled up on the stage and I said, "Who is that?? Whoever he is, he has good genes!" Later I told him he was practically unrecognizable and he replied, "Yes. That was the point."
The awesome part is that, even though she's only 18, she actually is our ward chorister! We announced the winner and I said, "She'll be performing at a Ward near you this Sunday!"