Tuesday, November 24, 2015

That tree

I've become an obsessed admirer. 
Not of a movie star or a great musician or anything.
No no, actually, it's the tree in my front yard. 
Can you blame me?
 This tree has been incredible to watch these last weeks. In past years it's turned yellow one day and dropped all its leaves the next. But this year (I think the temperatures have remained warmer? Or maybe it has something to do with all the rain?), the leaves have lingered.
It's been like an early birthday present.
 I don't tend to be an optimist in my everydaynesses. Truth is, most moments are cumbersome!
But this tree has forced me----FORCED ME---to get outside my head, get outside my house, and just stand in awe of the beauty of God's creations. If He can do such beautiful things with one single tree, there may be hope for me after all! 
Parallel lesson: sometimes it's merely the hanging-on that counts! Look how at one point, it seemed as though every other leaf had fallen and yet there stood this glorious pop of yellow, unwilling to follow the crowd. It hung on, hung on, hung on and just by existing, gave much needed color to an otherwise drab existence that day.
Of course, I have another something that adds joy (color) to my everyday. Or should I say someone:
This little boy is my almost constant companion and I am so, so fond of him. The other day, I told him he was my favorite. My best friend. My buddy.  "No mom, I your lovey." That too, special boy. 
Yesterday morning, I looked out to see it "snowing" yellow leaves in my front yard. An hour later, they had all fallen. 
 Thank you, beautiful leafy companion. It's been a wonderful couple of weeks together.
 Lucky for me, I still have my other happy companion. Posing with each frame. Because he's cool like that.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Moments are fleeting! Or, our last two weeks

A week or so ago, our front walk looked like this:
Then it rained. And rained. And rained. And I just knew when it finally stopped raining, we would have arrived in a new season.
 Sure enough, here was Friday:

It's turned a bit......autumn (she says, like it's a color). 
But what about all my turning leaves? You see, that rain for days (weeks! months!) ridiculousness has been brutal, yanking those beautiful things down and all over the ground to its heart's content. Leaves, did I enjoy you enough this year? Was it my fault if I didn't? So much rain!
Well, we couldn't waste another moment, Soren and me. We took the long/walk way to school (it helped that the path is soaked and drenched), in search of our beloved autumn leaves. 
As mentioned before, we found most of them on the ground. 
 Only a few trees left looking like this:
Lucky for me, Soren doesn't care. Onward and upward, mom! (Check out the new green undies. It's happening, folks.) 
 Okay, okay, stop the moping. And look there, my happy leaves haven't ALL gone away just yet.
Enjoy them, Michelle! Breath deeply! Look up! Smile!
 Plus, leaves on the ground sometimes make for good pictures too:
Good heavens, trees are magnificent, aren't they? Good to remember the grandeur of them (Children used here for scale):
 I think I'm trying to be metaphorical tonight; it's not working. 
Moral of my story: if there are still autumn leaves on your trees, go look at them right now! 
If not, find a child to smile at you. The grandeur is about the same (Trees used here for scale).
Onward and upward!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A happy moment (or two) of Nick

With Halloween over with, we could focus on the REAL highlight of the weekend: my brother Nick stopped by on his epic solo drive from somewhere in the east to somewhere in the not east.
We had about 6 hours with him.
15 if you count sleeping.
We soaked in every minute.
Nick single-handedly made all my children's Sunday evening dreams come true: he played multiple games with Zane, let Annie pose ballet-style for pictures while she talked his ear off about--you guessed it--ballet (I hope to see those someday, bro! can't get cr2 files to open on my computer), and tickled and tackled with Soren while I breathed happy sighs of thankful relief and Brandon snored on the couch nearby.
(Ashley, the pop-up flash worked miracles again!)
 We all decided we'd like Nick to come over every Sunday evening. Mulan quote: "Can you stay forever?"
Good luck on your next adventure, dear brother. Thank you SO much for treating us to a little bit of yourself.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Halloween Happenings

'Tis the season for enjoying the hydrangeas because guess what, it's almost time for them to freeze and die. Although a hot, dry summer prevented our bushes from being overcome with blooms, we've still be able to enjoy a few beauties. This one we enjoyed by cutting and having inside with us while my parents were here. At least it got it's glory moment on the blog first.
Remember our sweet little home grown pumpkin from around Zane's birthday? We kept it safe in the fridge for a long while, but around the middle of October I decided to try and be festive by putting it out on our front porch. The next morning I looked outside and was met by this:
 Gasp! Little pumpkin, what happened? Who took all your guts?!
 Poor, poor little pumpkin! Later, Soren (and Gramps) found the culprit:
Stinkin' squirrels!  Who knew that the seeds they stock up on for the winter come from their friendly human neighbors' innocent homegrown pumpkins!?!?! 
It took me awhile to get another pumpkin, and even longer to carve it and put it outside. But we'll get to that in a minute. First, there was the mid-Halloween-week ward trunk or treat. 
Funny story of that day: For weeks (months! years!), Soren has been wanting to be Luigi for Halloween. Luigi Luigi Luigi. No one could get a word in otherwise. My wonderful mom found a green shirt, overalls, and a green hat at the DI last month, and we've been practicing almost daily. Well, Wednesday morning rolls around (trunk or treat is Wednesday night) and I'm at the gym kids club, making conversation with our favorite babysitter. She asks me what Soren is going to be for Halloween, and I decide to let him answer. "Hey Soren," I say. "Tell Donna what you're going to be for Halloween!" He ponders for a bit then exclaims, "INJA CAT!"
"An inside cat?" I asked, dumbfounded. Donna giggled, then told me that there had been a new episode of a new show on the TV just minutes before where the guest character was, you guessed it, a ninja cat.
And that was the end of Luigi.
I was feeling okay about it, knowing we had some kitty ears and a ninja shirt, but come on, we'd waited so long for Luigi! Still, whenever asked that day, Soren demanded he be "INJA CAT!" Sigh.
Well, as we were all getting ready to go that night, we brought up the idea of drawing whiskers onto the nose of our little ninja cat. And for whatever reason, that ended his day-long obsession. "No whiskers!!!!! No INJA cat!!!!!" (Emotions were high by this time, hence the !!!!!!)
 Luigi, so happy to see you! Kinda ironic too, as I pinned him down and gave him a mustache anyway. He screamed. I apologized and pretended to wipe it away. But I left it. You're welcome.
So, we have Luigi, Princess Pickles, an injured triathlete, and a baseball player. Later, someone told B he looked pretty comfy. "Yes, I am." 
Now, fast forward to Halloween day. Z had a birthday party until 3, Annie had Nutcracker practice, and so it was more like 4pm when we FINALLY (finally!) sat down to carve our pumpkin.
First mistake: only buying one pumpkin. Second mistake: cutting too small of a hole in the top of said sole pumpkin. Who knew there could be such a rough start to pumpkin carving?
 So sure, Annie's eyes have some residual tell-all signs of how it all started, but in the end, we came up with one side looking just like SHE wanted:
 And the other as HE preferred:
While Z was working (and working and working) on his side, he complimented me: "Mom, I really like how you've gotten into the Halloween spirit, what with this pumpkin and those great decorations outside. You're really stepping it up!" Annie and I had put up green spider webs from Gigi just that morning. So maybe I was a bit late to the party, but I was there, people! Just ask my kid!
One more detail: Zane LOVED carving his own pumpkin. He was tentative at first, then steadier, then a complete fang-and-mouth expert by the end. So there you go, I'm glad we did it.  And I'm glad there's another full year until we have to go through it all again.
 After the pumpkin, the kids and B snuck over to Publix for games and treats while I made dinner. B's cruiser just got fixed (for 28 cents! after sitting for almost a year! a story for another day), so he was more than happy to drive his little people over there and back.
 And finally (it seemed like a really long day, didn't it?) it was time for real trick or treating. Well, Soren was over it. The costume came {mostly} off and although he did well for this picture, he was asleep for the night about 30 minutes later. Z and A went with these friends and their mom (our walk home from school buddies all last year), visiting from their new home in Georgia. I passed out candy. B worked.
Is it over?! Phew! Until next year!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Best One Yet

One of my favorite people here is having a baby next month.
This gal is not only a great friend, she accompanies for my ward choir too. And although I really try to keep my singers in mind when picking music (nothing too complicated, Michelle!), I rarely think about the accompaniment (my blind spot, for sure), which means Kellye has an occasional mountain to climb, prep-wise. And she does it time after time, which makes her so so special to me. She had to get a quilt.
I showed her four or five pieces of fabric when I returned from Utah; she chose the color-spectrum panel in the middle there. Alison Glass, ex-libris. Colors so amazingly saturated and beautiful, this was a JOY to put together.
 I did a nine-patch on the back and I'm so happy how it turned out. Backs can be tricky--I definitely wanted this to look deliberate, not hap-hazard. Also, I embroidered a little "For 'L,' 2015" (still trying to avoid writing full names of other kiddos here, just in case) on the yellow. And a little flower. Cute.
 Also cute: my quilt holder. Thanks as always, Annie.
 Here's an inside shot, after it went through the washer and dryer. Gotta love the crinkle!
 I hand quilted randomly about 2/3 of the triangles, and couldn't resist outlining some of the beautiful little creatures in that middle panel.  

 A little closer look:
I know my color-happy friend will love wrapping her sweet baby in this bright rainbow. It's my favorite to date, for sure.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

8th Birthday Party

Annie really wanted a friend birthday party this year. We bribed Zane out of one with his mountain bike (and many subsequent bike rides with his pops), but Annie wasn't to be deterred. I put off inviting as long as possible, partly because I'm a procrastinator, partly because I don't like to bug people, partly because I don't know how to use those fancy online invite sites and didn't want to hand print either. Finally, a few days prior to Saturday I sent an email plea to about 10 friends: "Can anyone come over for a play date/party Saturday?" Well, wouldn't you know, most of them could! And did! 
 Seven girls, one boy, our favorite from across the street. Em, Annie thinks she might marry this boy one day. If so, she takes your Damjanovich and raises you a Gediklogu.
We had sidewalk chalk outside while everyone arrived, then went in for games. This is how great we are at planning: as I'm welcoming guests, Brandon is inside cutting and pasting to make our "pin the cherry on the cupcake" game. And let me tell you, it was cute! No picture, but you can see the sleep mask blindfold made its way to the next activity: cupcake decorating!
 I had a certain vision for what the pretty cupcakes would look like. Something like this:

We made the older brothers eat these, while everyone else poured on the sprinkles and frosting.

Somewhere in there I remembered a candle and a song. Annie was a little too enthusiastic in her exhaling though, blew it out with her nose before she even realized it.
 Maybe that's why she wanted 7 candles instead of one!
 After cake and presents, the kids spent the rest of the party playing, first inside then out.
Leaf gathering, battling, and jumping abound.
Happy birthday, our happy Anniegirl. Party, check!