Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Thing About Being a Parent

The thing about being a parent, is that you can take the liberty of thinking your kid is the best/smartest/cutest/most talented/funny child that's ever come into existence, and no force on earth can change your mind.  Especially first time parents, that's really fun.  With Girlie, I remember calling J at work-- "Honey, she just looked at a toy hanging from her baby gym, and she reached for it!  ON PURPOSE!"  Those milestones that almost every baby eventually reaches, you celebrate.  When you look into your child's face, nothing could convince you that any baby was ever cuter and sweeter than this tiny thing.  Because, oh, look at that little button nose and those big blue eyes!  Have you ever seen such juicy little cheeks?  I once heard that no parent could openly admit that another child was cuter than theirs.  I think it's true, because parents really do think that their baby is the most wonderful.  We're programmed to do so, and isn't it great.  Because, seriously, if a mom doesn't have a child's back, who will?  We think our kids' jokes are the funniest we've heard, that their outside-the-box thinking is the most perceptive thing you've witnessed all day, and that your dressed up little princess is the most beautiful thing you've ever seen.  Of course we do!  Just this morning, I watched Sweetie put pegs carefully into a bottle, and then dump them out, shaking them to empty it completely, and thought, "My kid is a friggin' genius."  And so we hug them and encourage them and love on them.  We squeeze them every time they'll let us near and stare into their big eyes as long as we can.  And we try to make them feel like they are the most amazing thing ever.  Because they are.

 A long while ago, I would hear that 'everyone is special' and I'd kind of think "Well, if everyone is special, then that makes no one special'.  And then I had kids, and I've learned that everyone really is special.  Each one of my four is so incredibly special I could scream.  I think my parents were really good at that, because I secretly think I am their favorite.  I actually think that each of my SIX siblings think they are the favorite too, but I don't have the heart to tell them.  As a parent, I can objectively compare strengths and weaknesses of my children, but I really, truly love each of them equally.  I completely adore, respect and admire each one of them.

The beautiful thing, is that with each child it multiplies.  One child is stunning, amazing, earth-shattering.  But to see that one child become a caring sibling, a caretaker, a sharer, a adds facets to their already glittering selves that you couldn't have imagined.  To hear your kids play together, to plot and pretend.  It fills your soul.  Recently, after a particularly trying day, I finally wrangled all four kids into bed.  I had had it.  And yet, as I passed through the loft that separates their bedrooms, I heard little voices chattering to each other.  The sound was so sweet I sat for a while on the top step just to listen.  I heard Sweetie babbling in her crib and Girlie cooing at her.  I heard the boys conversing about...something

Sammy (5):  What??  Swahili? 
Buddy (3):  Yes!!!

Who knows.

The giving and receiving love of a child is unparalleled.  For me, it's my world.  And that's a beautiful thing.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Say "Cheese"

Well, the annual torture of family pictures is over.  My talented sis-in-law Cory did an amazing job.  And even though you'd think asking my sweet family to dress in coordinated clothing and take pictures is the same as asking them to eat staples, the only thing that comes close to how much I love looking at my family is looking at pictures of them.  So here are some pictures of my people.

I truly didn't know that getting a normal, nice picture of this fun kid was possible.  Really.
(That tells you how good Cory is). 
We may need to photoshop a 'nice' face onto a family picture.  Seriously, take a look at all of them!  He's like a little Calvin (from Calvin & Hobbes).

Friday, August 5, 2011

He Made Fun of My Heritage and I Spit an Octopus at Him

Once upon a time, I had been married a long time (at least 2 months) and I worked with a guy who had been married a very long time (about 3 years).  I asked him if he was still as crazy about his wife as the day that he married her.  His response?  "Crazy's in there somewhere."

Today I celebrate my love.  All 11 years of it.  Eleven official years.  And crazy is definitely in there, and it started in Dodgeville, Wisconsin on what we affectionately refer to as 'The Boat Night.'  Almost 12 years ago, I was doing an interior design internship at the corporate headquarters of Lands' End.  I was the only person my age in the state, until a lady at church said her son was coming back from his mission in Honduras.  I listened to his homecoming talk in church, and I leaned over to my friend Anna and said "I think that we could be really good friends."  Anna, another intern, was heading back to BYU at the end of the summer (I was there until Dec), so I wanted to invite J to do something with us so that I would have a (purely platonic) friend when she went away.  We all took a picnic to Governor Dodge State Park, where I spotted a bunch of tied-up boats and thought it would be the perfect spot for a picnic.  I had my camera, because I almost always had/have my camera with me.  I leaned in for a cute picture.  He leaned away.  I think he didn't know he loved me yet.

So we continued our auspicious beginning with what we term the First Official Date.  Neither one of us was out to get 'involved', which meant we weren't really concerned about what the other thought of us.  First he took me to a Chinese buffet.  Yum.  First, though, I took his knife and fork and handed them to the server. 

"He doesn't need these," I said.  "He'll use chopsticks."    I guess I was just sassy like that.  He struggled for a while trying to stab little pieces of rice.  He looked at me calmly eating and asked me how I knew to use chopsticks so well. (I don't, actually)

"I guess it's just in my blood." I shrugged.
"Oh," he said, the funny man, "so now you've got a Chinese grandma?"
I looked at him.  "Yes. I do."

A pink flush filled his face.  He looked like he wanted to die.  As it turns out later, he not only wanted to die, but to head straight for the car and never see me again.  (He had just come from Honduras where everyone has dark hair and eyes, so he didn't really think anything about my 'exotic' coloring).

I somehow talked him into getting a tiny octopus.  "We'll both eat one at the same time" I said.  So we each dished up a little octopus onto our plates.

"One, two, three, GO!" I said.  He popped his in and started chewing.  I tried, I really did, but that darn octopus refused to go in my mouth.  I tried again and again.  J kept chewing. And chewing, and chewing some more. After an excruciating amount of trying, I announced to everyone in the vicinity that I was now going to eat my octopus.  I dangled it in my mouth, but as I did so, one of the little tentacles wrapped its gummy self around my tongue, and it came flying, flying out at J.  I don't remember him getting upset, though.  Probably figured we were even.

Then he got lost going to the movies ("For Love of the Game") and tried to convince me that they had simply moved the theater.  I think it's pretty obvious that this relationship was headed for great things.  We had SO much fun dating!  This guy worked construction (um, yeah, he had guns) and he worked hard so that he could spoil me.  He would drive 45 min up to my apartment every night, even if it meant his socks weren't quite dry yet and he had to hang his foot out the window to dry them.  He made all kinds of excuses to see me.  It was quite endearing.  We were instant best friends and we'd joke "Hey, remember in kindergarten when we..." because we felt like we'd known each other that long. 

I know I give him a hard time on the blog, but let me set the record straight and say I utterly adore this man.  I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to be his wife.  I appreciate our similarities (we have many, in case you're wondering :) ) because they keep us strong and pointed in the same direction.  I love our differences because they keep things really entertaining and funny, every day.  I love him a million, billion, zillion--which, in our family, is the very most you can love someone.  And I'm definitely way crazier, and crazier about him than I was when I married him.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Please Shine Down on Me...

The sun took a long time to arrive here in Seattle, but it appears the wait is over and we are finally getting the vitamin D we need.  While the rest of the country is being scorched, we are enjoying highs in the 70's.  I'm not complaining.  And now that we're shaking off the dreariness of the grey, I thought my interior should reflect that, so I've made a few tiny changes.  Maybe you need some ideas and you'll notice them.  J didn't at first.  You know, sometimes I don't think he even cares how our house is decorated...


-change window treatments to white
-new rug
-switch out art on left side
-redo mantel
-switch the garland and candles in window to simple floral arrangement (sorry there's not a better pic)

mantel (before)

mantel (after)
-switched dark mirror for window
-added summery artwork
-added clear, light, and natural elements

wall decor (before)

wall decor (after)
-switched from maps to some wrought iron pieces
(don't they make you think garden trellis and fancy patio furniture)

I actually have new paint waiting to go on the walls, and I was just inspired with new ideas for my powder bath.  As I started to tell J about it, he put his hand to my head and made a motion like he was turning down a dial.  "Can you ever turn off your need to change our house?" he asked.  I laughed and introduced myself.

"Hi, I'm Melynie and I'm into interior design."

PS:  Yes, that's a new, huge window leaning on my wall.  J and I have big plans for it.  Different plans, but big plans nonetheless. :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mix up your pancakes!

Occasionally we indulge in breakfast for dinner.  It's just good fun.  This time, we shook up the routine a little by clipping the top off a condiment bottle, filling it with batter,  and 'drawing' pancakes.  We spelled out names, drew rocket ships, cars, hearts, stars.

I made one for me too. :)  It's fun to see your name on a plate.

(Just remember to write backwards on the griddle!)

Monday, August 1, 2011

First (and only) camping of the season

I LOVE camping in the Northwest, and I'm not an especially 'roughin' it' type of gal.  Here, though, it's cool and there are no bugs.  It's totally worth the 17 weeks worth of prep for those 15 hours of camping.  We returned to Cascade Park for our annual ward (church) campout.

My very proper camper.

Sweetie's first campout.  She did so awesome.  Until the middle of the night.  When she wouldn't stop fussing.  So I stayed awake.  All. Night.  And then in the wee hours of the morning when I heard the other kids stirring and asked J to check on them because I thought they were really cold and he rolled over and looked at me, as I was still nursing Sweetie for the 4th hour in a row and asked me why I was waking him up to do this.  Well, that was just awesome.

My little Buddy just chilled by the fire with his homeboy.

There were games for the kids the next morning.  In the center are Girlie and Sammy competing in the three-legged race.

We watched from the side.  We are smiling, but we are tired. For a 13 month old, tired=grouchy.  There came a point in late morning when I just announced that it was time for us to leave. 
 Right. Now. 
So we did.  But he stopped at a farmer's market that I love and let me load up on fresh produce to help me feel better.  It worked.

We stopped by {gasp} McDonald's for lunch on the way home.  The kids apparently hadn't gotten enough of the great outdoors, so they went outside to 'bask'.  (As in, "Mommy, can we go bask outside for awhile?"  They crack me up.)

So, I think after that, I'm good.  Camping, you're awesome, but I'll see you next year.