Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Out of the mouths of babes--October

These are actual quotes taken from my wise-beyond-their-years children. I'm trying to keep track of them throughout the month and will post it at the beginning of each month.

Whitney: "Ants are not friends. Girls are friends."

Whitney is really into adding "-ish" on the end of everything she says right now. Here are a couple of examples:
After eating a popsicle: "My hands are not popsicle-ish."
When we opened the door on a chilly day: "It's a great coldish day."

Brandon is really into the words "dramatical" or "traumatical" right now. When Andrew came home from work the other day and asked him how his day was, Brandon said, "It was good. I mean it was dramatical good!" When he gave me a hug before going to bed: "I promise tomorrow I'll be a traumatical better listener."

Brandon also has a very acute sense of smell. Sometimes he makes funny comparisons. The morning after our night of jamming around the fire pit, Brandon gave Andrew a big hug in bed and said, "Dad, you smell like bacon." This weekend we got into the car and he said, "Our car smells like Grandma and Grandpa's garage." I couldn't smell anything, but I wish I knew what that smelled like to him. Tonight when he got in the shower he said, "It smells like old onions in here." Uh oh--might be time to scrub the bathtub!

When I dressed Whitney in her flowery footie pj's after the bath she said, "I look like a young women!"

This morning, as Brandon was getting ready for school, I heard him talking to himself: "Dear Students, Today we will not be doing any work. We won't even have centers. I hope that's ok. Love, Mrs. Bledsoe." Cracked me up. That must be his dream day--no work at school.

Sometimes when we're saying goodbye to Brandon in the mornings, he'll give us hugs and then as he's walking out the door will say, "XO, Mom. XO, Dad." and will make the letters with his arms for hugs and kisses. What a cutie.

Tonight while trick-or-treating, Brandon got lots of comments on his mummy costume and he kind of let it go to his head. As we were walking home at the end, he kept saying things like, "Everyone loves a mummy! I guess a mummy is the perfect costume for a kid. I think I won like 22 awards. Maybe every kid should be a mummy." Nope, no problems with self-confidence in this one. :)

One of Whitney's favorite phrases right now: "I'm excited!" We normally hear this one when we've pulled up to a friend's house to play--especially if it's "Greggy and 'Cole"

First Parent/Teacher Conference

Friday was the end of the first grading period at school and we got to meet with Brandon's teacher for the first time yesterday afternoon. It went well. She has observed the same things about him at school that we see at home:
1. Academically, he's doing well. He knows all of his letters, the sounds they make (except for Y), and is reading well.
2. Everything is a race for Brandon. He often sacrifices the quality of his work so that he can be the first one done. (At home, he likes to race to see who can clean up first, who can finish their dinner first, who can answer the door first, etc.) When we told him this was something Mrs. Bledsoe wants him to work on, he denied the accusation--"I always do my best, I'm just fast, too!" By the way, I was exactly this same type of student. I wanted to be the first one done with every assignment, so I know where he's coming from.
3. He needs improvement on his playground behavior. He is too rough with the other children. He is really into pushing, wrestling, etc. When they go outside to play. The rule is that they are supposed to keep their hands to themselves. Mrs. Bledsoe says he intimidates some of the other children because he's so physical.
4. He's very loud. He's a very social little boy and loves to talk to the other children all the time. He has figured out the rules about when they can/can't talk, but even at the times when it is allowed, his volume is stuck on high. This is SO true at home. We often have to tell him, "Honey, I'm right here. You don't have to yell!" His normal speaking voice is just several decibels higher than most other people. I've really noticed it now that we're practicing for our Primary Program at church. We have to tell all of the children to make sure their mouths' are right next to the microphone, but Brandon's voice is deafening when he does that. We have to ask him to back up a little bit. :)

Overall, I was very pleased with how the conference went. Even though he gets smiley faces on his behavior calendar pretty much every day, I kind of felt like his behavior was still questionable at times. It was good to hear that she has seen a lot of progress in him since the beginning of school. I'm proud of him.

Here's the big boy with a #4 that he made out of Jenga blocks yesterday. He thought it was cool that he could build something bigger than his whole body!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Pre-Halloween festivities

When we were at our Girl's Night Out earlier this week, one of my friends told me I was "pretty normal...except for the camera fetish." I think she was right. I just uploaded my pictures from the last TWO DAYS and there were 68 of them! Wow--not many moments slip past me. :) I won't share all 68 of them, but narrowed it down to 11 of my favorites. Here goes...

We had a Fall Festival at church on Friday night. It was cold and rainy, so the Trunk or Treat had to be moved inside, but other than that everything went pretty well.

Brandon decided to be a mummy this year.

Consider this the "before" picture.
Mummy costumes are SO
hard to keep together!
(I tried the same thing when I was in 5th
grade. Didn't work then, either.)

Whitney also came up with her own costume

A Princess Kitty!

They had a lot of fun at the party and came home pooped!

Here are the "after" pictures.
Notice the kitty ears are gone. She said they hurt her head.
And Brandon was halfway undone before we even made
it to the party! Oh, well. We tried.

Yesterday we continued a family tradition of going to Mr. B's Pumpkin Patch. It is a cute, cheesy place that the kids love. They have a hayride, maze, "enchanted bubble forest," and petting zoo.

We had the hayride all to ourselves.

Whitney had another run-in with
this time it was a live one!

Last night, we got a babysitter, so that Andrew and I could go to a party for grown-ups.
We were asked to bring a Halloween-themed treat. This is what I came up with:

Blood-red Haunted cupcakes

I bought a red velvet cake mix. Do they sell that everywhere or just in the South? I don't know, but it worked perfect. It is such a deep red color.

The kids had fun licking the beaters.
Whitney looks like she is a lion cub who just
finished eating a kill. Gross!
Anyway, then I frosted the cupcakes and topped
them with "Body Parts" candy--mainly eyes and severed fingers.
(Is that a little too close to a Wendy's scandal? I noticed the
fingers were the last to be eaten.)

The party was fun.

Here we are in our costumes.
Our friend, Greg, is in a part-time Master's program
that will take several years to complete.
Andrew said he was "Greg in six years."
Can you tell what I am?

Here's a close-up of what I had taped to me.
Did you figure it out?

I was a "cereal" killer. Ha ha.
One of our friends dressed up in
this costume a couple years ago and
I thought it was so clever that I stole
the idea. Very fun.

Here were some of the other costume ideas at the party:

Pregnant Nicolle was a basketball hoop--complete with an authentic net.
Greg was a basketball player/wannabe Kurt Rambis.

Sam and Becca dressed as Kevin Federline and Britney Spears.
They won the vote for best costume. You can see why.
Great costumes!

We played "The Haunted Newlywed Game." I love games like that and rarely get a chance to play them. It was fun. We didn't win, but we didn't stink, either. Andrew thinks we were at a disadvantage because we were probably the longest-married couple there. I told him that means we should know more about each other, right? There were a couple of questions like, "What did you do on your first Halloween together?" where I guess it was a bit of a disadvantage. We have to remember WAY back to 1997, whereas some of the couples just had to think back to last year or the year before.

The most controversial question asked to the women: "Which deceased relative would your husband least want to meet?" I think it was worded a little less confusing, but you get the point. Oh, that one got some tough responses. It was like Greg and Nicolle wanted to get us into arguments. Why didn't they just ask, "What is the most annoying thing your husband does?" Thankfully, Andrew and I are really laid back about stuff like that and neither of us had to sleep on the couch last night. :)

Some of the other questions:
What costume from your past are you most embarassed that you wore?

If your husband was a vampire, how would he describe your blood? A. Hot and Spicy B. Sugary Sweet C. Salty

What's your spouse's favorite Halloween candy?

How many pumpkins are in your house right now?

What is your husband's blood type? (A, O, B, etc)
I think only one of the eight men even knew their own blood type!

Which costume would your wife be least likely to wear? A. Bunny B. E.T. C. M&M
(This was interesting because most of the husbands answered "bunny" and most of the wives answered "E.T.")

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Girl's Night Out

We had a Girl's Night Out this week. We're trying to make it a monthly tradition. I love it! It is so nice to talk to my friends without worrying about what mischief our kids are making while we visit. (Thanks to our wonderful husbands who make this possible and are resolving and/or preventing the mischief!)

Jayne, Shelly, and Me
(Look, Barb--I got to wear my BIG beach earrings!)

Bea, Martha, Jenny, and Diane

It was one of those nights where I'm sure the waiters and bus boys were annoyed with us because we stayed SOOO long, but we just didn't want it to end. We stayed for over 3 hours this time. Poor Jenny works on the morning news and has to leave the house by 5 am. She must've been exhausted.

Throughout my life I've heard comments about how women NEED to have girlfriends. I've never really understood. I had a couple really close girlfriends growing up, but I hung out with guys most of the time. That can be a little weird after you get married, although Andrew doesn't have a jealous bone in his body. (Thanks, honey!) Now I finally get it, though. It is great to have women to share life experiences with. Especially when you live on the other side of the country from all of your family members. I feel so blessed to have developed these friendships over the last couple of years.

Surgery Update

I got a date for Whitney's surgery. It will be Friday, November 17th. I was so glad to hear they could fit us in next month. I wanted to get most of the post-op appointments done before the holidays and we're just hanging around here for Thanksgiving, so we should be good.

One of the most annoying things about her previous surgeries was that she had to have a pre-op appt a week or two before the surgery date. We would drive up there for an hour, sit in the waiting room for 30-45 minutes, be seen by a nurse who would take her temp and listen to heart(maybe 5-10 minutes max), and then drive home for an hour. It was such a waste of time. I asked Dr. Buckley if we could just do her pre-op the same day as surgery this time and he agreed. That's what they do for patients who travel from far away, but they consider us local, I guess.

We don't get assigned an arrival time until the day before surgery. I'm hoping for as early as possible so Whit doesn't have to starve for too long. They usually assign the youngest patients first, so I'm afraid there will be younger ones ahead of her. We'll have to wait and see.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Good news and bad news


Get used to seeing BOTH of these eyes all the time...

because we're done patching! Yippee!


We had our appt up at Duke yesterday and found out that Whitney does need another surgery. Boo! To be honest, I was expecting that news. I didn't feel like her eyes had changed at all over the last month, but it's still hard to hear. I'm not sure when it will be. I tried to call and schedule it today, but had to leave a message. I know Dr. Buckley wants it done soon so that she doesn't develop lazy eye again. I'm hoping it will be next month sometime.

She will have surgery on her left eye, moving the muscle closest to her nose. It should be minor compared to the first surgery that she had. It's outpatient, no patching, no stitches on the outside. Hopefully everything will go as smoothly as it has with her past two surgeries. I hope it won't be harder on her emotionally now that she's older and will understand a little more how foreign everything is--the hospital gown, not being able to eat that morning, etc.

I got to have a Lasik consultation today. I have wanted Lasik for as long as I can remember and finally made an appt to be evaluated. I've been wearing glasses since 1984 and have never had my eyes dilated before today. Is that crazy?

I look sweet in my Granny glasses!

BAD NEWS: I'm not eligible for Lasik! When they do the procedure, they remove part of your cornea and that's what corrects your vision. My corneas are too thin. Of all the places to be too thin! I am eligible for a similar procedure called PRK. It's like Lasik, but has a longer recovery period and greater risk of not having 20/20 vision afterward. There's also more discomfort involved. I don't know if I'm up for it. I don't think I want to pay big bucks for A CHANCE that I won't have to wear contacts anymore. If it was a pretty sure thing then I'd go for it. I haven't ruled it out for sure yet, but am not as excited about it as I had been.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A plug for Andrew's blog

Andrew has started his own blog. It is hilarious. It is intended for "Normal Mormon Husbands" as he explains in his initial post. But, I like to read it, too. He's a great writer. I especially enjoyed the "Ran-dumb" awards for best commercials and his latest post about global warming. You might want to refer your husbands to the link, too. (if applicable) He'd love that.


Oh, and the comments are hilarious, too. I read them and think, "Whoa--I'm out of my league here!" I think I'll stick with my cute pictures and day-to-day adventures. :)

Monday, October 23, 2006

My weekend in the spotlight

I don't know if I felt like I haven't been getting enough attention lately or what, but I spent most of my weekend in front of people. You'd think I was trying to run for election or something with all the face time I was getting.

First, on Saturday morning Brandon's school had their Fall Festival. The kids had fun. Their favorite part was the Chik-fil-A mascot walking around.

I don't think that's because it was boring.
I think that's because they're easily amused. :)
Like me.

We only stayed for about an hour and then Brandon and I took of for our Roadshow dress rehearsal. I had been worried about how it would go for the last couple of weeks because our practices have been so bad, but I think it actually went well. We performed for some judges and then had a couple of hours to run home.

I had been asked to speak in church on Sunday, and had been working on my talk all week. I'm one of those weirdos who actually enjoys speaking in Sacrament meeting, but this time it was so hard to prepare. It shouldn't have been. I was assigned to speak on faith. Doesn't get more basic than that. I was asked to base my talk on President Hinckley's conference address from earlier this month. I had the hardest time finding a balance between just reading his talk verbatim and not taking enough from his talk and just sharing other thoughts from the scriptures on faith. It was very trying, but I managed to finish it in the couple of hours before we had to be back at the church for the Roadshow Performance.

It went really well. It was fun being on stage. I didn't realize how bright those lights are in your face, though. Honestly, I couldn't even see the audience because I was being blinded. It was kind of comforting, actually, and I wasn't even nervous. Our ward won awards for Outstanding Child vocal performance, Outstanding Small Ensemble Acting (for one scene with a bunch of teenage girls), and Outstanding makeup. I think the teenage girls with the green masques clinched that one for us. Our show was an informercial for a gadget that helps you find things that you've lost. I played a mother of a bunch of rowdy children. I know, I know it was a big stretch for me. It really tested my acting abilities. :) Brandon got to play one of my seven children. He was a natural. We were in a grocery store check-out line and I couldn't find my debit card. I got to sing a solo to the tune of "Do, a deer, a female deer. Re, a drop of golden sun."

I don't have any pictures of myself OR my seven children.
These were some of the other cast members.

On Sunday I gave my talk in Sacrament meeting. After all the agonizing and doubting myself, it ended up going well. There was one woman in the congregation who was so fun to talk to. She was completely attentive and would nod along with some of the things I said. I had to go up to her and thank her for making it easier to give my talk. Even though I do get nervous to speak there, it's more of a fun, thrill-seeking, nervous than a dreaded, I-hate-this, type of nervous. Does that make sense?

Brandon had another turn in the spotlight this week, too. Not in a good way. He got sent to the principal's office for the first time. Bummer. Friday, on the bus on the way to school, a little boy kept coughing in Brandon's face. He asked the little boy to stop several times, but he kept doing it. Brandon got sick of it, took the hat off the little boy's head, and threw it across the bus. I guess that have VERY strict rules about that on the bus, because he got sent to the principal's office when he got to school. I don't know what was said, but his teacher said he was very emotional about it the rest of the day. Poor little guy. I kind of don't blame him. Who wants a sick kid coughing in their face???

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Not your typical date night

We had the best time last night. Some of my friends who knew that I tried out for American Idol have been wanting to hear me sing. I reminded them that I didn't even make it past the first round of judging, but they still wanted to see what I could do.

So, we got together for a barbecue and jam session last night. One of my friend's husbands is an amazing guitarist, so he looked up the tablature for the song I auditioned with and we did a little performance.

Here we are performing "When You Say Nothing At All" by Allison Kraus.
It was really fun.
I didn't even get any tomatoes thrown at me!

As an added bonus, Andrew brought his guitar and he and Tom
performed several songs for us.

They rocked!

It was such a relaxing, entertaining evening.
We had fun being the audience--sitting around a fire pit
and grooving to the music. I hope we can do it again sometime!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Weekly happenings

Per Destiny's request, here's a pic of B-train riding his bike all by himself without training wheels. See? I wasn't even making it up. :)

He is awesome on his bike and loves riding it now. Yippee!
One of my friends was telling me today that she remembers when she first learned to ride a bike and how fun and exciting and unforgetabble that feeling is. I don't remember it, do you? I remember riding a 10-speed for the first time and feeling like such a big girl, but that's it. And I remember breaking Paul's arm when Celeste and I were trying to teach him how to ride. He probably wishes he COULD forget that memory.

Anyway, we had a beautiful, summery day today. I think the high was like 80. It is the complete opposite of what Amy and Dave are experiencing in Colorado. They just posted a pic on their blog that looks like a foot or more of snow in the backyard. Crazy!

So I took the kids and one of B's friends to the park.
We played on the playground, blew bubbles...

and fed the geese and ducks.
Very fun afternoon.

Then we had our last roadshow practice before our performance on Saturday. I hope it goes ok. There were still lots of kinks to be worked out.

Potty training with Whitney has gone downhill. I guess after that first amazing week, I thought we were home free. She even did really well in Utah and throughout our travels, but this week has been bad. She stills goes on the potty a couple of times a day, but also goes in her diaper several times. I guess we'll still have to go through a process here. She's normal. Darn.

My weekly questions from LOST:
Did you think Locke was really going to shoot that guy in the woods? I couldn't tell. It made me nervous.
What's up with Desmond? Is he psychic now? Andrew thinks he might be teaming up with Locke and/or the Others. I thought maybe something happened from the electromagnetic forces to make him "see the future" and know what Locke's speech would say.
There are more polar bears on the island? We had polar bears in the zoo in Tucson, AZ, so I guess it's possible.
Why isn't Hurley being more adamant about passing on the message from the Others to stay away? Is he nuts? Oh, wait. Yes, he really is nuts.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

Andrew was gone for the second half of his scout training this weekend, so the kids and I had our own little getaway. We took a drive up into the Great Smokey Mountains, along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was breathtaking! I loved it. The kids are starting to get colds and I think they were a little tired. They weren't really into hiking, which I wanted to do. But, we had a nice picnic and a short little stroll.

This was a stop about halfway up the mountain.
You can see that just a few of the trees had started changing.

This is one of the best pictures I got
that shows the bright reds, yellows, and oranges.
Oh, and the boy in the foreground is pretty cute, too.

The drive itself was spectacular. I wish I could've captured
the gorgeous panorama all around me, but this was the best I could do.

You can see that the Smokey Mountains are more
like rolling hills, compared to the Rockies. :)

I had visions of taking some awesome pics of the kids.
I got them dressed up all cute and got them in place.
They were not very cooperative. Not intentionally being bratty,
just looking off at the wrong times or making goofy faces.
Believe it or not, this was the best one I got of the two of them
before the batteries on my camera died.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

Here are the pictures that we took when we went up the canyon with Andrew's parents and sister, Amy. I guess it was actually past peak season for the leaves, but it was still beautiful. This canyon is where they quarried a lot of the granite to build the Salt Lake Temple. You could even see that some of the stones still had markings from the tools where they had been cut. Pretty cool.

Whitney walking with her Daddy

Andrew and Me
I forgot how beautiful the mountains are!
We don't have anything that looks like this in NC.
Of course they don't have anything as green as us,
so I guess there are always trade-offs.
I enjoy the beauty in both places.

There was a beautiful clear stream running in the back.

Amy and baby Jack.
Whitney took this picture. Pretty good, huh?
(Ok, I helped her a little, but she pressed the button.)

Andrew's parents

Brandon and Whit
Too bad it was a patch day.
It's just a LITTLE distracting. :)

Getting a good picture of a 2 year old, six month old,
and a 5 year old is nearly impossible.
But it was fun to try.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Trip Highlights

Now that I've paid my respects to Grandpa, I can tell you about the great time we had on our trip. It felt like a little unexpected, bonus vacation.

On Saturday night, the Hallstroms (Andrew's sister and her family) had us all over for dinner. (After a slight miscommunication with Tony and Cindy.) :) The cousins all played together so well this time. It was awesome. When we were on the road trip this summer, Brandon did pretty well, but I felt like he was still a little bit of an outsider with the rest of the cousins. I think he's grown up a lot in the past 3 months. It was wonderful to just visit with our parents and siblings and not have to worry about what trouble he was getting into....for the most part.

Lauren and Elise have moves!

Ethan, Jonas, and Brandon spent most of
their time playing video games upstairs.
Star Wars was the favorite.

Elise dressed Whitney up in this pretty dress.
Whitney called it her "Belle" dress and walked around
like a princess the rest of the night.

It is going to be really nice to have both sides of our family living in the same state now. My sweet parents and sister drove for 5 hours all together to come spend about two hours with us on Sunday afternoon. It was a beautiful fall day and we spent it in the backyard running around with the kids and just chatting.
Mom, Dad, and Destiny

On Sunday night we had dinner at Andrew's parents' house. Grandma Ranquist joined us.

Whitney was very loving toward her. It was so sweet
and I know it meant a lot to Grandma.

The cousins were all really good during the funeral and then they had to let off some of their pent up energy at the burial service.

Brandon, Reagan, and Lauren cleaning headstones.
The lawn had been mowed fairly recently, so there were
grass clippings covering all the gravemarkers that lie flat.
The cousins had fun cleaning them all out and looking
for familiar names. They found one that said both Barbara
and Jack on it and they thought that was pretty cool.

Jonas and Brandon
These two cousins are 4 months apart
and we've been waiting their whole lives
for them to become friends. They have
very different personalities and often
clash, but this visit they seemed to get
along really well. And they're both so darn cute!

Baby Jane
That's what we call Jane in my family
even though she's SO not a baby anymore.
Is this one of the cutest outfits you've ever seen?

Here are the types of silly things the cousins do together.
Mostly led by Ethan.
Ok, everyone pretend your thinking really hard.

Now pretend you got a great idea. Ding!

The most random thing that happened on the trip:
We ended up on the same flight from Salt Lake to Chicago with Forrest! He even ended up in the same row with Whitney and me. It was crazy and fun. Here are Forrest and Andrew standing in O'Hare airport after we landed. What are the chances?

Other highlights that don't have pictures to go along:
*On Monday Barb said she'd watch the kids so that Andrew and I could go to the temple together. I was so excited that I was going to be able to make up for the trip missed because of the chemical explosion AND I could go with Andrew. We got Whitney down for her nap and we got all dressed in our church clothes. FOILED AGAIN--The Temple is always closed on Mondays. Something we could've been told yesterday!!!
*Driving up the canyon to take pictures. (We took so many that this trip deserves its own post!)
*Playing Apples to Apples and 25 Words or less at Tony and Cindy's house. Lots of belly laughs that night.
*Dress shopping with Barb and Amy for a new dress for the funeral for Barb.
*Staying up late with Barb and Dennis and Amy and Dave, talking about everything from recurring dreams to living in foreign countries. The more I learn about Dave, the more different I think we are. :)
*Playing Knight and Cities at the Hallstroms. I stunk it up, but it was still fun.
*Seeing how completely obsessed Eli is with balls and balloons. Cindy wasn't exaggerating. I think it's super cute.
*Watching my kids with baby Jack. They are so loving and sweet. I think they're ready for another sibling. (No, that's not any sort of announcement!)
*Spending so much time with Andrew. Our lives can be so busy at home. It was awesome to have him to ourselves for 5 straight days.