Monday, March 31, 2014

Volume X, issue iii, March 2014

Charlie and the Letter Factory
Our wee little wordster has been absorbing letter-based wisdom like the offspring of two English Professor parents. A couple of months ago one of my friends suggested I let him play the educational games at (I wish I was getting paid for this endorsement!), so we tried it. A few weeks ago, Holden was quizzing Charlie with his t-shirt and I was so shocked that I had to record it. 

It makes me laugh every time I see our tiny fellow spouting off his baby-lipped alphabet with such authority. It's like we have our own talent show wherever we go because he points at signs and shouts out the name of each letter like he's the cheerleader for. . . everything! 

Peter got to color and construct a leprechaun for an art project at school and true to his personality, he had to give it a little “Peter” twist. He proudly showed it to me and told me that he had named his leprechaun “General Green-vous.” That tickled me so much that I couldn’t quit doing my nerdy Star Wars grin for about a week.  The force is strong with that one!

Marie the Elephant
After some pretty grueling rehearsals, Marie’s kindergarten teacher cast her as “Elephant #1”  for her Circus performance. Our pretty little pachyderm was really more graceful than any elephant has the right to be. I told her dance teacher that she would have been proud to see the way Marie conscientiously pointed her toes for each and every skip.

The third photo was captured while she was watching the clowns perform. She said, "They were just SO funny!" 

On a side-note, Marie told me about her “true love” in her class. His name is Linus and he sports a surfer-dude haircut and that aura of elementary school confidence that makes all of the girls go wild. He was the Ring Master—of the circus and of Marie’s heart.

When I volunteered in Marie’s classroom I teased Linus and asked him if he has a little brother named Charlie. He said with a shocked look, “Yes!” Whoops. I’ve done my research and he wasn’t kidding. Just in case you were wondering, he doesn’t have a sister named Lucy.

Sixteen Years! How SWEET it is!
We stuck close to home and celebrated our 16th anniversary with our seven little “besties” (as the Young Women in my ward say). The kids and I surprised Eric at his office with a basket of 16 of his favorite things. (I giggled a little as the kids and I were picking them out because they included allergy medication, acid reliever and tissues.) We took Eric to lunch and of course the two of us couldn’t sit next to each other at the pizza buffet because it took TWO booths to contain us and all of our love. It was terribly appropriate. All nine of us then cuddled up on the couch to watch a movie (and of course, like people who have been married 16 years, Eric and I both promptly feel asleep.) To top off the day, Eric and I worked together on a family feast of  chicken picatta served over a bed of spiralized zucchini “pasta.” 

I think my favorite moment from our wonderfully mundane celebration was when Holden asked us about how we met and how we knew we wanted to marry each other. Our little (and not so little ones) lapped up the story as they ate their dinner and we reveled together in the celebration of the unique history of our own family team. 

I couldn't resist including this photo that was Eric's anniversary gift to me on our very first anniversary. For someone who hates getting his picture taken, it was an ultra-sweet gesture. As you can see, we didn't waste any time during that first year of marriage. . . and we'll always be grateful.

Eve-y B. Anthony, We Thank You

I received this message about our Eve from one of the Primary teachers in our ward a few weeks ago and I had to make it part of this month’s Review:
“Jann was announcing the Priesthood Preview, when Eve raised her hand and with her usual righteous indignation demanded (in a charming way) to know what was being done for the girls!  She just was so darn cute!  Jann who was struggling to keep it together, of course explained New Beginnings and a couple of the older girls testified that they had already had their 'party.'  She seemed a bit skeptical at that, but was satisfied that equal rights for women were being upheld in our Primary!”

The above picture was part of our pre-mommy-daughter-date photo up last Saturday when we went to the historic LDS Women’s Meeting together and then had a little dinner and delightfully Eve-ful conversation. I asked Eve what her favorite part of the meeting had been and she said dreamily, “Everything!” When I pressed her to be more specific, she mentioned how she really liked the talk about “how girls should stop comparing themselves to each other and just love each other.” She continued with conviction, “I think girls really needed to hear that!” Amen, my daughter!


I thought I’d also include part of Ethan’s Sacrament Meeting talk from church yesterday. He read the following experience from his journal:

Today is the last day of 2013. I had an interesting
experience at a New Years Eve party. I watched a one or two or three year old girl. I have no idea whose child this was. I watched it pick up a small box of toys and select a little rubber horse toy. She hugged it and loved it, and even gave it a little kiss. That made me smile a bit. But then came the older kids. They weren’t older by much, maybe four or five-ish. They started to pick up building blocks and began to build. The toddler watched their building, tried to pick out a block of her own, but that was immediately taken by said the older kids.

That’s when I noticed a little spark of anger in her small eye. This made me sad to see the picture of innocence turn to anger and jealousy. The little girl reached out to one of the older kids and slapped one of their toy-filled hands. She then dropped the little horse she loved and then struggled to try and copy the older kids.

This only took a few minutes for this to happen, but it felt to me as if life had gone through and said good-bye. I guess that’s what life is like. We pick out our own toy to love, kiss, and to cherish forever. But then come others come and do other things which they claim to be better. We then decide, “Well, maybe it is better.” You pick out one of the praised toys but that is taken from you, causing anger or sadness. And all the while our beloved toy lays forgotten beneath the
wreckage of our struggle to build and to copy the others.
But of course, we could always ignore their chants of “Yay!” and, “Better!” and simply continue to cherish our little toy we specifically chose for eternal happiness. Sadly, that little girl I watched eventually dumped the entire box of building blocks onto her little horse in her frustration. I couldn’t see head or hoof of it. I left shortly after this, and as far as I know, that sad little horse is still beneath the pile of frustration and jealousy.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Volume X, issue ii, February 2014

Peeping Snowman

Ethan's creative perspective on the world never fails to entertain. He led a snowman building expedition to the frozen tundra of our wintry backyard and ended up with a whole story rather than just a simple snowman.

We thought our icy companion was fun until the sun went down, and then we each experienced the creepy feeling that only an ice-cold voyeur can cause every time you walk by your basement window.

Funny Valentine (OH! MY! GOSH! Oh my gosh! I'm calm. I swear I'm calm!)
One of the first "after school special stories" Holden shared with me on Valentine's Day was that he had been "called into the office." Knowing my compulsively good oldest boy, I didn't fall for the bait in his opener. I just calmly asked him why he had gotten called to the office. He then produced a carefully folded paper from his pocket and described how he had gotten an anonymous Valentine.

Eeep. I tried to play the cool, calm parent, but was freaking out just a little on the inside. On the outside, I smiled serenely and said, "Holden, that's really neat" while on the inside, I was flinging my arms wildly in the air and shrieking, "Someone likes my boy! SOMEONE LIKES HIM! EEEEEP!"

When Eric got home that night  I told him to ask Holden about his Valentine, and he looked at me seriously and said, "Don't over-react. Just stay calm." Who. . . me?

After Holden showed his Dad the Valentine, we retreated to the kitchen like a pair of adolescent gossips and whispered with analytical intensity about what it meant and who had sent it for an embarrassingly long time.

"She clearly spent a lot of time drawing it, so she must like him. Don't you think? Do ya think, huh?"

"But maybe she pities him, and that's why she gave it to him. What if it was a Pity Valentine. Oh no!"

"No. . . the fact that she didn't sign it must mean she likes him, but she's a little shy. Don't you think, huh?"

I finally looked at Eric and said, "Stop over-analyzing it!" even though I knew I was really the guilty, hyper-neurotic parent in the situation.

As you can see, it's carefully hand-drawn and based on Dr Who. We already like the girl who made it! And we love the slow social speed the anonymity creates.

I think we covered our new parent nerdiness fairly well, but Holden was definitely the best at playing it cool. When I asked him if I could take a picture of the valentine, he just shrugged like it was nothing and said, "Sure."

I wish I could have been that cool when I was fifteen. Maybe I would have gotten more Valentines.
My sweet Valentine surprised me with an adorable breakfast in bed on Valentine's Day. He not only painstakingly cut out a heart shape in the bread, but he cooked the egg exactly the way I like it and even added just a touch of hot sauce. In class that day, I couldn't help sniffling a little as I thought about coming home to my EIGHT Valentines. My heart could barely handle it. 

I'm afraid we've created a tiny Divo (which Eric informed me is the male equivalent of Diva. . . Don't ask me how he knows that). Every time I even mention the word "camera" he bolts for our "picture spot' as fast as his short legs will carry him and poses. I suppose I would do the same thing if I had his bright blue eyes and soft blonde curls. . . and I was dressed in that outfit. (I may have picked out the PJ's, but the glasses, hat, and Zoolander lips are all his! While "I'm pretty sure there's a lot more to life than being really, really good looking," I don't know that there's anything much cuter than this kid right here.)

Pulling at Our Heartstrings
Our wonderfully sweet Caleb has magically translated the shyness of his younger years into an observant sensitivity beyond his years. When his viola teacher announced that she was going to quit teaching in order to spend more time with her family, she told Caleb she'd give him his favorite candy bar at his last lesson. When she asked him what it was, she said, "For example, mine is 3 Musketeers." When Caleb returned from his lesson, instead of whining about how his teacher was quitting, he said, "Mom, I have an idea." He excitedly told me how he had come up with a plan when his teacher casually mentioned her favorite candy bar. He asked me if I could help him because wanted to surprise his teacher with a whole bouquet of 3 Musketeer bars.

Here he is playing at the Strings Festival last month. I told his teacher I would let her accompany him as a thank you for her wonderful work with him, but I missed doing it!

A few days before Valentine's Day, Caleb got that Captain Kirk I-have-a-plan gleam in his eyes again and said, "Would it be weird if I gave a Valentine to one of our neighbors?" He told me how one of our "nice neighbors" always lets the shivering middle-school kids take refuge in her house while they wait for the bus in the mornings. As he described her, I almost cried when I realized he was talking about a fifty-year-old widow whose husband died in an accident a few years ago.

Eve's Double Digits
I realize it sounds cliché, but I can't believe that our Eve is ten! I so vividly remember turning ten when we lived in this very same house and having my Dad excitedly tell me that I was going to be "double digits."

For her birthday dinner, our little gourmande requested crepes, quiche, and mint chocolate cheesecake. The French fare was prepared by her Dad and Eve said to him, "Dad, no one makes quiche better than you. No one. And no one ever will!"

Even though Eve doesn't really fit the part, we decided to have a "D-Eve-a Party" with her friends. She was anything but Diva-like as we planned the party together. When we went to the store to buy our supplies, she made sure she had our list and said, "Would you like me to cross off each item as we get it?" When I asked her about having a Crepe Cake instead of a traditional birthday cake, she said, "That sounds both fun and interesting."

We designed and assembled the purse invitations together and I was in heaven as we worked side by side, chatting away about the party.
On Eve's party eve, we busily cut out, glued, and assembled the "Diva Survival Kit" favors for hours. Caleb came into our party workshop and asked shyly, "Can I help?" We happily painted t-shirts and made paper high heels and Eve and Caleb got into the party-prep spirit so much that they started chanting in unison, "Party 'til you drop! Party 'til you drop!" They started beat-boxing their little chant and dancing around as they worked and we were having such fun that when I looked at the clock it was after midnight. I had to coax them to bed and as they walked away I could still hear the echoes of "Party 'til you drop! Party 'til you drop!"

The next morning, I had to exercise all of my will power not to come into their room at 7 AM and shout, "Party 'til you drop! Party 'til you drop!!!"

Our party guests sewed their own infinity scarves and painted personalized wooden high-heels, and ate a whole buffet of sweet and savory crepes. Their favorite game was "Diva Dice" where they won a bunch of my old jewelry that had just been sitting in bags waiting to be donated. When one of them saw the prizes she exclaimed, "We get to KEEP the jewelry if we win it?!? This is the BEST party I've ever been to!!"

Party 'til you drop, indeed. I think I will!

Fiddling Around With Idaho History
Eve was able to make her violin performance debut when she was cast as a "Fiddler" and a "Mountain Man" for the fourth grade's performance of "Lewis and Clark!" She's been taking violin lessons for exactly a year (she got them for one of her birthday presents last year) and has been a diligent and pleasant practicer. And take a gander at that beautiful bow hold! I was thrilled that my friend, Susan Thomas, captured it on film.

When I asked Eve why she looked so despondent in the photos, I learned it wasn't because of the tragic history of the Native Americans. She said in her matter-of-fact way, "I was sweaty and my armpits hurt." Okay then. That wasn't what I would have predicted, but at least she was honest.

Hot Stuff

As Charlie was playing with his favorite food toys and grocery cart, he grabbed the syrup and said, "Hot sauce!" I giggled out loud as I listened to him belt out his original toddler composition in his high pitched tones: "Hot sauce! Hoooot saaaauce!!"

We d'Evegnees like our food and our singing to be spicy.

He's actually playing with his plastic food right now as I type. He has a chicken leg in one hand and a baguette in the other and is leaning them together in conversation and saying in a falsetto voice, "Hi! I'm a chicken!"

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