Thursday, August 21, 2014

On the Market

So it's the end of an era.  We're moving.  But it's only a mile away.  Same friends, same school, same ward (church), same Costco.  So really it's only the half-end of an era.  I've spent the summer doing The Thing I Hate (Almost) the Most--selling my house.  It goes right up there with getting shots, standardized testing, and having sand in my teeth.  I have cleaned, touched up, repainted, steam cleaned, and de-decorated the heck out of it.  That's right, I totally stripped it of personality.  You know, so that other people can "picture themselves living here."  I love my house so much, I can't imagine anyone not wanting to live here!  We got pictures taken of our house, and of course the professional house photographer stretched and warps the rooms, but they are.  Just for fun, here's one last tour of my house.

I'm going to have to find a new place for my old, giant window.  J is super excited about that. ;)

Not kidding, they photoshopped a fire in the fireplace.

Note the lack of party lights and buntings.  It made me want to cry.

My new mini chandelier, after the first one became the casualty of an overzealous fly swatter.

My table isn't actually 20 ft long.

Yes, my room is always this neat.  ...

And so is my bathroom.

The 'play' room.  Doesn't it just feel like Welcome, Children!

Poor Sweetie.  We took down her toddler bed.  We hide her mattress in the closet and bring it out at night.  Like we're hiding our secret Fourth Child.

The boys' pictures have been replaced by cute fabric that I bought for a quilt I intended to make 3 years ago.

No garden this year.  Only those hardy green onions that just won't go down without a fight.

I will miss the Japanese maples, lavender bushes, blueberry bushes, and lilac bushes.  I think they will miss me, too.
So many fun, happy, hilarious memories here.  Some of the other kind too, but I only remember the good (a memory trait for which J is very grateful). We have lived, here. Really lived.  We have loved it and we're sad to say "see ya around".

Monday, April 14, 2014

Black Monstrosity

There once was a chair. It was a big, puffy, black, pleather concoction purchased for $80 on sale at K Mart in O'Fallon, Missouri.  It was hideous; not the kind of piece you'd ever imagine that I would even allow in my house.  Back in the days when we tried to not spend any money at all, J and I bought it for the birth of our first sweet baby.  We even named it Black Monstrosity, and it was the most comfortable chair in the world.  Ever. 

And I spent many, many, many nights, over the past 10 years rocking fussy babies back to sleep, or just rocking them and watching the sun come up because I knew that if I blinked the rocking would be over.  So I rocked and rocked, and watched the sun come up from the comfiest place in our home.  And then one day (not sure when it happened), I realized that Black Monstrosity had become my 'stuff-that-doesn't-have-a-place holder', and that my smallest baby now scooters around the cul-de-sac.  I made plans to replace Black Monstrosity with Perfect Tufted Linen Bedroom Reading Chair.

Then one day (today) someone called and told me of a family that had--literally--nothing.  And I thought "Perfect!  I'll give them Black Monstrosity!", because besides being the most comfortable chair ever, apparently pleather never ages and it looks fabulous.  And then I blinked, and Black Monstrosity was gone.

And I swallowed hard.

Because I realized that Black Monstrosity was gone.  And with it, the phase of life where I was rocking babies and whispering how glad I was to meet them, how much I loved them, and please don't grow up too fast.  The nights of watching the sun rise with a sighing, milky baby curled on my chest were over, because now we all [mostly] sleep through the night, even though I swore I was going to be tired forever

It was like a chapter closed with such finality, and unleashed a torrent of hot, ridiculous tears.  I found myself on the phone crying to Mandy, because I knew she'd understand and cry right along with me.  And I don't have a picture of the hideous wonderfulness, because I'd made sure that didn't happen.  I didn't even sit in it for the last time, because I was too busy digging crayons and stray baby socks out of the seat.  I wish I could rock them all one last time.

...Just now, as I was typing, my 8 year old came downstairs because he had a nightmare.  I said "Come here."  I pulled him into my lap, and hugged him tight and whispered that I'm so glad he's in our family, and I love him so much, and please don't grow up too fast.

He said, "I'll try."  (And looked a little confused because I was crying over his bad dream).

I think I'll be okay.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What are you??

I heard that question more times than I can count growing up.  And by growing up I mean grade school, middle school, high school, college, and I am still growing.  And if, by that question, you mean to tactfully inquire "What is your ethnic heritage?" the answer is Chinese.  I know, I know--it's the last thing you would have guessed, I know, I don't really look Chinese, I know, you knew I was something and you've all been trying to figure it out, I know, you thought maybe Italian, Hawaiian, Latin, some sort of South American, Greek, Mexican, really anything but Chinese .  There ya go.

To be honest, I don't know that much about Chinese culture.  My mom was born in Arizona, and for a long time, the most Chinese-y thing I knew how to cook was rice.  I've learned more as I've grown up, and really do want to pass on some rich cultural heritage to my quarter-Chinese kiddos. 

So when Sammy's teacher emailed about the class Culture Day and invited the kids to share something from their ethnic background, I thought this was a great chance to teach my kids about their culture.

Unfortunately, life got in the way, I ran out of time and I threw some Chinese things in a bag and picked up a huge bag of fortune cookies at a restaurant supply store.

I told Sammy I got fortune cookies to add to the cultural feast.  He said "Great!"


"Mom, I don't think fortune cookies are actually Chinese, though."

"What?? Sure they are!"

"I think they were invented in America."

I looked it up.  He was right.  I twisted up my face.

"That's okay, Mom.  We'll just trick them."  Okay, we'll just trick them.

The kids were supposed to dress up in traditional dress, if they had any.  But it was also the school's "Literary Character Day".  The kids told me the prior day, but life got in the way and we were scrambling in the morning before school trying to come up with literary character costumes.  I was digging through the costume box "Is there a story about a seahorse that you like?  How about a clown story?"  For Girlie we came up with an old Chinese robe, threw some chopsticks in her bun and called her Mulan. (See, look at me tapping into my Chinese roots!)

Sammy insisted that he wanted to be a ninja.  From what book?  Oh, the bad ninja in that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles book?  Ok, cool man.  Very literary. 

I had to laugh out loud when he wasn't the only one.

All the moms wanted to know what else he "was", because all the little girls in his class have a crush on him, and, wow, those green eyes.  They found it really funny when I shrugged and said, "Um, just....white?"  Because, really, I don't know exactly 'what' J is.  He probably doesn't know, because  he hasn't had people coming up to him his entire life asking him what he 'is'.

The kids think it's novel that they're all part Chinese and daddy is not, even though he claims to be since he's actually been there.  But, it looks like I've got some more work to do on our heritage education. 

Sweetie and I were thumbing through an American Girl catalog and she said, "Look!  That girl looks like me!"

"...and that girl looks like Girlie!"


And then last night we went to the kids' Spring Art Walk at school to see their displays.  Sammy's class project was called "Family Portraits".  This was his picture.

Seriously, click on it and get a good look.  It just gets funnier and funnier!


I think it's great that my kids are color blind.  But maybe they're actually color blind?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

And then we took a Disney cruise.

It was cold and grey here, so we took off.  To the Caribbean.  With our besties, Mandy and C and their boys.

First, we got stuck in San Fran (where they have a YOGA room) for about 6.5 hours due to a broken plane (probably the reason they came up with a yoga room).  That was the bad part.  Along with the part where Girlie got a fever on the plane, our kids cried as we landed because the pressure made it feel like their 'brains were exploding', our hotel was overbooked and so they put us in a hole in the wall place next door where J and I were in separate buildings (not just rooms, buildings) and the boys had to all share a double bed. Those parts were bad too.

My happy traveler.

Our first glimpse of the Disney Wonder, our home for the next 5 nights.

Soooo happy to be boarding the ship.

Our staterooms only accommodated 4 people, so we booked two adjoining cabins.  Kind of bummed to have to pay for two staterooms, but it was pretty darn nice to stick all the kids in one room and not have to tiptoe around in the dark waiting for the kids to fall asleep.  They were cute and well designed.  The bathroom was split into a toilet/sink room and a sink/tub-shower room.  Super convenient.  And the most delicious toiletries ever.  I looked at ordering more after the cruise but J wanted to know what in the world I was thinking because, good heavens, we don't spend that kind of money on shampoo.

Swimming, every day.  There were three pools and a waterslide.

They had the most fabulous shows every night. (The Golden Mickeys--their version of the Golden Globes, Toy Story: The Musical, an illusionist, and Dreams, which was my favorite).  The big kids felt very grown up sitting away from us at the show.  All the way across the aisle. ;)

Our first excursion, Grand Cayman.

It was low 80s.  It felt so good!


We went to the Grand Cayman branch. It was small and friendly.  The chapel was full, so we sat in the overflow--the Relief Society-font room-kitchen room.  Yes, the boys are wearing their swim suits.  We were those people.

Iguana, all over the place.  This was a big guy.  We saw tons of baby(?) lizards(?) running around in the grass.  A little unnerving, but still 'awe-some!!'.

The Sea Turtle Farm.  It was pretty amazing.  Here the kids are checking out a whole bunch of giant sea turtles.

The kids got to swim with the baby ones.  I even picked one up and I have the video to prove it.

Mandy and I, lovin' life.
I. Adore. This. Girl.
We ate ice cream on Deck 9.  Every day.  At first I was all, "Guys, this is not healthy!  We cannot just eat [delicious, self-serve] ice cream multiple times a day!" and then I was like "Well, if you can't beat 'em..." 


We spent the rest of the day at Seven Mile Beach.  It was gorgeous.  The water was amazing.

The cutest little sandy bum.  Followed by the cutest, sunburned little bum.

Our super fun kiddos!

We ate at a different restaurant every night.  There was the island-themed 'Parrot Cay', the fancy French 'Triton's', and one called Animator's Palate that was all black and white at the beginning, and ended up in color (even the wait staff changed their vests to color ones).

There was new 'towelagami' and chocolates to enjoy every night when we came 'home'.  This one, we term 'sexy bunny', was one of our personal favorites. 

Cozumel, Mexico welcomed us with a mariachi band.

We went to the San Gervasio Mayan ruins.  For some reason, Buddy was bummed out.  Probably because no one was home. ;)

Sammy got to try out his espanol, which was really awesome to hear. People didn't expect that.  They did, however, expect me to speak fluent Spanish.  Ha, ha, fooled them.

They boys picked out shark tooth necklaces.  Buddy kept trying to make us 'touch it, really hard.'

We went to a private resort, Buccanos, for the rest of the day.  Um, yeah.  I couldn't help but feel that maybe I was meant for island life.

We went snorkeling in the turquoise water.  J and Girlie headed out, and Sammy and I stuck together.  I swam out with my gear on and then put my face in the water.  I was shocked to realize that I was in the middle of a giant school of grey and yellow striped fish!!  I tried hard not to freak out and just enjoy my National Geographic moment.  These fish were everywhere, and several times during our snorkeling, the schools would turn and head straight in my direction.  I tried to barely move my legs so that they didn't touch me.  Pretty sure I would have lost it.  I'm not great about touching things with more or fewer legs than I have.  It was amazing, though.  Sammy shouted, "Mommy, I CANNOT believe I am seeing this!!!"

During our last day at sea, J and I checked the kiddos into the ever popular Oceaneer's Lab and Oceaneer's Club and had a romantic lunch at Triton's, played a little shuffleboard, and enjoyed the sunshine.  You know, practicing for when we're 60.  Whatever.

Character dance party (there were a lot of character dance parties), with Mickey and Minnie, Pluto, Chip and Dale, Goofy, etc.

Of course we saw the princesses.  We got to meet Belle, Cinderella, Ariel, Rapunzel, and Tiana.  It was so magical.  Sweetie kept wringing her hands and twirling her hair she was so nervous/excited.  Of course we both loved it, I cried, it was magical.

Mandy and I went to the towelagami class.  So if you ever come to stay at our house, you'll find a monkey or a puppy hanging out on your bed.  And maybe a chocolate if you're lucky.

Captain Mickey

Seriously, I'm going to cry just looking at this pic.
As the princesses twirled their way down the stairs, the royal trumpets declared their arrival and the royal messenger gave a little 'hear ye, hear ye..' speech.  I ate it up.

Pirate night was just FUN!!! A lot of people brought pirate clothes to wear.  They gave everyone a bandana to wear and had a deck party.  Captain Hook and Smee joined the fun, with a band of pirates, a great DJ, and dancing.  They capped the night off with a fireworks show in the middle of the Caribbean.  Disney does it right!


We both had black and white pirate skirts on. FYI.  With the skirts we look more like pirates and less like gangstas.

Our waiters were Vishal and Phapakorn (he had us call him Popcorn, which delighted the kids).  They were FANTASTIC!!  They would get the kids food quickly, and as soon as the kids were done, we'd check them into the kid center and we'd finish dinner and dessert.
It really was a dream vacation.  Seriously worth every dime.  It was the magic of Disney, in the Caribbean, so many fun things for the kids, all the adult time you wanted, delicious food, tons of fun, all with our amazing friends.  It was awesome that all our kids are old enough to enjoy these adventures.  We feel so lucky to have these memories!