Thursday, March 31, 2011

My favorite

We're back from a too short but very fun trip to California-- and yay, Chris comes home tomorrow!!  It's too late in the evening to write much about our trip, so I'll just post my favorite picture of the last week:  cousins.

Did you know that I don't actually have a single biological cousin?  It's true-- neither of my parents have nieces or nephews and my grandparents' only grandchildren are my siblings and me.  I think this may be a pretty sweet benefit from the spoiled grandchild perspective, but I do kind of wish I had the fun cousin relationships that my kids have.  They love their friends and they love each other (mostly), but they really, really, really love their cousins.  It is always so fun to watch them interact-- they are best friends with the benefit of being related.  Even though I don't have my own cousins, seeing these cute kids together makes up for it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Developing talents

Thomas has been taking violin lessons this school year. He seems to really enjoy it-- especially when he learns a song and can play it well. His latest favorite is "Go Tell Aunt Rhody". Here's a little 1 minute video for you to enjoy (and don't mind his technique-- I can only say "waterfall" so many times!)

I'm taking an online photography course, mainly so that I can use my camera with some degree of understanding. I did a lot of research when I bought the camera, only to find out that my skills with it are a bit beneath its capabilities. So, it's Digital Photography 101 for me! This is the first of a four-week course, and I've learned quite a bit already. I'm going to post my assignments here just for kicks.

Our first assignment is to control our flash use-- usually, when I'm shooting everything in "automatic", the camera decides when to flash or not. I decided to take pictures of Murray, since he was in a good spot for demonstrating the use of the flash and because I could get him to hold still.

I'm excited to learn more about how to work my camera and hopefully take better pictures.  I think this picture of Murray turned out pretty cool, too.

And, while we're on the subject of Murray (again... I'm really not cat-obsessed!), I took a little video of him uh, protecting our yard. I'm just going to post the link-- it's a little bit gross.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Another Sunday update

Hooray!  Another week down-- only two to go!  Here's another late Sunday night post for our travelin' man.  :)

This week seemed to go by much faster than last-- a good thing, for sure.  We've kept busy with meetings and lessons and birthday parties and a visit to the vet.  Murray caught some kind of rodent in the back yard, an experience that both pleased and disgusted me.  Thomas beat Bowser on Super Mario Galaxy, and Gordon asked if we can go on a ride in a blimp for his birthday in May.  Except for missing Chris, it was a pretty good week.

Last week, I brought a box of clothes labeled "Neil < Gordon" inside and we've been having fun discovering some old/new clothes for Neil.  I'm not really an obsessive name-brand shopper, but I do have to say that getting out these hand-me-downs does put some of those more expensive brands in a good light.  There are a few items that belonged to Thomas and are still in good enough shape for Neil to use.  Putting on all of these three-year-old clothes does make baby Neil look like such a big boy, too!

Our favorite discovery from that box are these little green fuzzy sleepers that Gordon got for Christmas one year.  They zip all the way up the front and have little footies and all three boys think they're hilarious.  Most of Neil's pajamas are those snug-fitting two-piece sets, so this full-body style is something new.  I tried to get some cute pictures of Neil in his new jammies, but he wasn't having any, so instead, I took a bunch of pictures of him whining at me.  I'm a mean mom.  :)

You can see that he finally gave up and just stuck his tongue out at me.

Gord had a fun week and has been running back and forth from friends' houses nearly every day.  He joined the jump-rope club at school and had his first meeting on Monday.  Like everything else, he is very intense about the jump-roping, and he practices in the kitchen every day.

We've been struggling a little bit with the concept of patience lately.  Since most adults I know struggle with that same thing (myself included), I have a feeling that we'll probably battle about just waiting a minute (!) for a while.  I'm still just not sure why my picking up the phone is a signal to start screaming.

Gordon wanted me to take some pictures of his bath toys... funny boy.

We made Tom's favorite dinner tonight-- crispy Ritzy chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, rolls and "Better than Everything" cake-- which earned me a "best mom ever".  Who knew that was all it took?

The boys were patient enough to indulge me for a few pictures this morning before church.  Even though church itself was kind of hectic, looking at these sweet boys in their Sunday best makes those annoying moments of crayon-throwing seem not so bad.

You love my skirt, right?!  I went to a thrift store this week, hoping to find a desk for the family room.  No luck there, but I did pick up this fabulous skirt for $5.00!  Sweet!

This upcoming week should be fun-- four days of school, new tires and an oil change for the van, then packing up and heading out to California to meet Chris for Spring Break!  Hooray!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fight, fight, fight...

Thomas just saw me upload this picture and laughed.  He said, "Oh, I love those fighting pictures!"

Really?  Because even though the pictures are funny, I have to say, I'm getting pretty sick of all of the fighting that goes on between these boys.  Someone once joked that the only time their kids got along is when they were asleep, and that joke is starting to feel like my reality.

Does it seem like they fight more when I'm the only referee, or is it just me?

I decided to take some pictures of the fighting, rather than intervene, and if you look at Tom, you'll see a few smiles for the camera.  Afterward, I made them hug while I counted to 100-- I started again twice when they broke their embrace. 

Hopefully someday these two will be the best of friends and laugh about all of the times they spent picking on each other.  Until then, let's just hope they both make it out alive!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

One down...

Three to go. This post is mostly for Chris, who is away on a work assignment, to see what we've been up to.

Let's start with the smallest member of our family: Murray, the cat. Chris already knows this, but Murray has earned his keep this week. Murray spends his nights in the basement (the kids are still a little nervous about him prowling around their beds at night, so we make sure he's fed and litter-boxed and shut the door to downstairs) and the other night, I noticed that he was perched on the windowsill, looking out the window. We keep stuffed animals on that windowsill, so I thought he was just getting cozy. When I noticed him there the next day, intently looking into the window well (such a great view), I looked a little closer. To my absolute disgust, there were not one, but TWO mice inside the window well, and Murray was completely captivated.

Side note: apparently mice in window wells are not an uncommon occurrence in cold Idaho winters. The mice climb into the well to get closer to the warm house, then they can't get out and eventually die. Sick.

Our well is covered and pretty deep, so I didn't want to put Murray through the top in the fear that I couldn't get him back out. So, I pushed open the window, punched out the screen, moved back so Murray could leap through the opening, and shut the window. (By the way, this story is great told live because I have hand actions and sound effects for the above sentence.) Anyway, I'm not really into watching the food chain in action, so I went to a friend's house with the boys. When we came back, though... let's just say that our window well no longer houses mice. And Murray was as pleased as punch. Good kitty.

Murray and the boys are also getting used to each other and, aside from a few little jumps and exclamations here and there, seem to have accepted the fact that they share a house. Tonight Gordon and Neil even entertained Murray with his toys, then sat and pet him while he purred and closed his eyes.

The next little family member, Neil, has had quite a week. I think it's harder for Neil to have Chris gone than the other boys, because he doesn't quite grasp where he is or when he is coming back. Today we sat in our usual spot at church and Neil looked around and asked, "Where's Dad?" He was super grumpy today, too, but I think that may have had something to do with the time change as well as his missing Chris.

Can I just say that I LOATHE daylight savings time? I know I'm not alone in this sentiment-- pretty much every other parent feels the same way. So why are we still doing it? Erg.

Anyway, Neilna-- he's been really into taking off his diaper and using the toilet lately. Yesterday I got the "big boy undies" out of storage and let him try them on. The older boys thought that this was hilarious, but I decided to put him back in a diaper because even if he's showing signs of readiness, I'm not. Selfish, huh?

On to Mr. Gord-- this week we had parent/teacher conferences at school and I was reminded, once again, why I love kindergarten so much.  It is just so much fun, and the conference with his fabulous teacher was just a smile-fest.  I love that they aren't graded really, that they are just there to learn as much as they can-- and I can't lie, I love that Gordon is a little smarty-pants.  It makes me feel like I am some kind of a parenting success to go to his class and hear about how wonderful he is.  Never mind that he was calling Tom a stupid-face on the way home afterward. 

I mentioned that we've been watching MegaMind A LOT, and Gordon has been going around saying "Yah, I'm like your Space Dad" all day long.  

Tom's PT conference went well, too-- he has improved in all of the areas he needed to, and only slipped in one subject-- but it wasn't quite as glowing as Gord's.  I don't think that's because Tom isn't a good student, I just think 4th grade is a lot harder.  Especially for the parents.  I miss the days of happy-go-lucky learn-while-playing school where your only homework was reading a fun book before going to bed.  Sigh.

Still, Tom got excellent marks in math and spelling, and his teacher went on and on about his awesome creative writing ability.  She sent home some essays and I'm putting them in the "save forever" box because they really are great.  

One of these days the fact of Tom's perpetual milk mustache will dawn on him and he'll start taking care to wipe it off before a girl notices.  Until then, I like the little token of his innocent oblivion.

As for me, I feel like I've been in constant cleaning mode this week.  I clean, the boys unclean, and I clean again.  Yesterday I did some extra spring cleaning and took our paper snowflakes down from the window-- I decided that they were encouraging winter a little too much.  So, farewell snowflakes, and farewell to the melting snow.  

I went for a walk outside today and it was sunny and melty and almost warm.  Even if the nice weather is just a respite between cold spells, it is just what I need right now.  

So, another week ahead with busy, everyday life.  I'll be here, plugging away with my cute boys, and missing this: 

Monday, March 07, 2011


The boys were out of school today, so we had a pretty relaxed day around the house. One thing I love about school is those few precious hours where the only person actively messing up the house is Neil. It's much easier to pick up after a two-year-old-- or better yet, lay him down for a nap!-- than it is to restore order to a home that has been subject to the day-long imaginations of Tom, Gord and friends. Luckily, I did make brownies for FHE which served as bribery for cleaning up the family room. Whew.

I am not at a point in my self-confidence that I would dare take or post a picture of my messy house, so I'll just leave this funny one of Neil and his fists full of love.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Everyday life

It's been fun playing with my camera. We haven't done much out of the ordinary in the past couple of days, so I've been taking a lot of pictures of the boys just playing around in the house. Of course I think pictures should be taken at events and outings, but there is something kind of fun and smile-inducing about seeing photographs of just everyday life. So, here are some of my favorites from this week.

Neil is TWO. Each of those letters are capitalized on purpose. He is a sweet boy, but man, he whines a lot. I am sure there is something about being the youngest and his having to defend himself more often than the other two, and probably something more about me giving into his fussing way too much. Ah, well. They don't call it "terrible twos" for nothing. This picture makes me laugh and I suspect that it will make me laugh even more after he has grown out of this phase.

I love this picture of Tom not so much for the great expression on his face, but for the story behind it. Gordon had been watching Over the Hedge in the family room while Tom was doing homework, and Tom overheard the part where RJ, the raccoon, is explaining that humans have food "out the wazoo". I was messing around with the camera and took this picture right after I answered Tom's question: "What does 'wazoo' mean?"

Homework break: jumping off the couch.

These two look like a couple of little conspirators, don't they? Little devils.

Since it arrived in our Netflix envelope yesterday, we've been watching MegaMind almost non-stop. A couple of friends had told me how much they enjoyed it, and I completely agree. I think it may be one of those movies like The Incredibles that I just don't get sick of, no matter how many times I see it. I love the witty dialogue, and the fact that it isn't filled with bathroom humor, and I love the fabulous expression in the characters. And the music-- awesome. Two thumbs up from this chica.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Murray the Bengal kitty

For quite a long time now, I've been pining for a nicer camera. I kept saying, "the next time we have some extra money..." and planned to buy an entry-level DSLR. I did all of the research and found what I think is the best camera for my needs-- the Nikon D3100. And finally, with our tax return, I bought one-- it arrived today!

Chris isn't as needy and materialistic as I am (also he doesn't care as much about taking good pictures), but he did want a little something, too. His prize of choice? A cat-- specifically, a bengal. These babies are expensive-- a kitten can cost more than my fancy camera!-- so we were looking for possibly an older cat or one that needed a new home because of a move. We didn't find anything on craigslist or on KSL, but when we did a google search for bengal cats in Idaho, we found a breeder in Pocatello who had one of her own pets available for adoption. He is more than a year old (we think almost two), doesn't have as vivid markings as some other, more expensive bengals, and he has all of his shots and neutering done. This afternoon we drove out to take a look, and we came home with a new little family member.

Meet Murray:

I'm not really a huge pet person myself, but I could tell from the first moment that Chris was crazy about him. And honestly, I can't help but love him, too. Our last pet, Schroeder, while absolutely adorable, was not very people-friendly when we first brought him home. He actually spent his first night meowing sadly in a space under the unfinished laundry-room wall. Murray has been the complete opposite-- he has spent most of this evening in his new little cubby in Chris's office downstairs, but then sat with Chris and me while we watched "Bones" reruns for an hour or so. He looked around the couch and the family room for a bit, but seemed mostly content just to cuddle up to one of us.

Chris is in heaven-- I had kind of forgotten how much he loves animals and it's no wonder Murray has warmed up to him so quickly.

One of the cool things about bengal cats is their coats-- Murray's is extremely soft and has a range of colors. He has cool black stripes on his tail, spots on his back and belly, and a lot of orange in his fur. We also like his green eyes and his "mascara".

The boys have been pretty receptive to our new pet-- Tom even included Murray in a short story he wrote tonight. Gordon is an animal-lover, too, and even Neil let go of me for a few minutes to say good-night to the kitty. The boys got a kick out of watching Murray play-- I think he'll be a great fit for our family.

Did I mention that I love my camera? I do. I am thinking about taking an online digital photography course this month. I should mention that I am not interested in becoming a professional photographer or anything, I'm just excited about being able to take better pictures of my own family and use the camera in my scrapbook design business. So exciting!

I love these close-ups-- can't get enough of those eyelashes!!

And with such great subjects as these two cuties, I think this camera is going to get plenty of use!