Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Warm Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is always such a short trip that we feel like we don't get to see anyone for as long as we'd like to. It makes me look forward to Christmas and to the day that we may be able to live closer to our families. Even though it was short, we had a great time. I have started to really like Thanksgiving more and more over the years. I think it's because mostly everyone in this country celebrates it in some way or another. I don't have to wonder if I will offend anyone if I wish them a "Happy Thanksgiving!" The whole feeling is gratitude, just like Christmas, but since there are no gifts exchanged, you aren't really even tempted to be greedy or covetous about gifts you're receiving. I don't really like participating in the whole "black friday" insanity, but even fanatical shoppers at least have an attitude of "giving" in their motives. At least the idea is that you're out buying gifts for others instead of for yourself.

I also love Thanksgiving because of the focus on delicious food. Mmmmm.... Our Thanksgiving week meal highlights include:

One of the best turkeys I've ever had
Really good Candied Yams
Amazing Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
Sour Cream Apple Pie w/Struesel
Pumpkin Pie
Omelettes in a bag (you know, for kids!)
Shrimp Boil (or Fisherboat Scrap Surprise)
Fresh Tamales
Yummy Taco Salad
Sour Cream Enchiladas

We ate so deliciously (to englishize a Japanese phrase). Calvin had a ton of fun with his aunts, uncles, and cousins. I have included some pictures of him on the beach. The week was so relaxing even though there was a lot of driving. Calvin was so laid back wherever we went. And we witnessed miracles (one being the passport hand-off unassisted by cell phones outside Why, AZ and the second being the evasion from the 3 Policia with machine guns who stopped the car in front of us for speeding).

Hope you enjoy the pictures!




This last photo is just a little extra tidbit.
Calvin got his laundry hamper, pulled it down,
and crawled all the way inside it. He was being too cute.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sniffing

Calvin's new thing is making this silly open-mouth face while crinkling his nose and sniffing. He does it when he's eating, happy, bored, frustrated, etc. Here are a couple videos. In the first, I was doing the face to him and it was cracking him up. In the second, he starts doing it too.

video video

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pumpkin Smash


Halloween was just so great this year! That seems to be the general consensus anyway. Our Halloween was no less than really awesome. Friday, I spent the day frantically finishing costumes for our church party that night. I was buying accessories, cutting, sewing, and hot gluing like a maniac all day. We were also going to bring a chili to the chili cook-off that night so I also had to buy ingredients for that and make it while getting Cal and I dressed. I was so grateful that Carson came home in the middle of the flurry and could shred chicken hot off the George Foreman while I bustled and hustled to get out the door.

The party was so great! There were really good costumes this year- the highlights being Hagrid and Hermione (which was a little awkward when they were holding hands...), Cruella De Ville and Jasper, packages of Skittles, Mr and Mrs Pac-man, Princess Leia and the little Ewok Wicket, and others. Of course everyone's babies were so cute. We went as Wild Things with Calvin as Max, King of the Wild Things. I love his costume. It was really easy to make and I think it turned out great! (The hardest part was removing the giant embroidered Tigger thread by thread from the front of the sleeper. That took a couple weeks and couldn't have been done without help from Victoria.)

Tyler's pants took the longest.
Some people thought he was Shrek.
That'd be bad Shrek costume, but a pretty good Wild Thing.


Not only did we have fun, but we won, too! Calvin won best baby costume, and our chili won Best Chili. Both of these contests had very intense competition. But I think Calvin's costume is very cool, and since we used our friend Jennifer's amazing recipe, I was sorta hoping to win. Jennifer, your chili is amazing. We have already made it again since we didn't get to eat enough at the cook-off.

So that was Friday.

After Friday, I just wanted a fun, but not-too-intense Halloween. I spent the morning making an apron full of harvest colors to cook in later in the evening. I bought some fantastic orange Tulips when I went out for more ingredients for the evening festivity. It still felt like a pretty busy day, but I felt like I was living life so fully. Like really enjoying the finer things in life. That's a good feeling. We had fun as a family and then had our friends Dave and Kate over that night for Iron Chef: Pumpkin Battle. It was less of a battle actually, but no less delicious. It was maybe like if a couple of Iron Chefs got together some weekend with a theme ingredient for some sort of exhibition.
Tyler caramelizing the onions and pumpkin.


Here's the menu:
Hearty Bread with melted Gouda and a rich Pumpkin Spread
Pumpkin Sauce Penne
Japanese Kabocha Soup with Sesame Oil
Almond Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Filling

Is your mouth watering yet? It was so delicious. It was everything I had envisioned for this pumpkin exhibition. The best part about it is it didn't leave me feeling pumpkin'd out. I would do it again this week. And I found a neat recipe for Pumpkin Gnocchi that I didn't even get to try yet. Man, do I love pumpkin.

Witches why I love Halloween.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mile High Fun

A couple weekends ago, we took a trip to Denver. We were able to take advantage of the extremely cheap flights and double rapid rewards credits that Southwest was offering and decided that we'd actually SAVE money by taking a little trip and using the free flights we'd earn for Christmas, when the tickets are much more costly. This was the first trip that we took together as a little family to a destination that we aren't very familiar with. TomTom showed us around town and we had a great time! Included for your enjoyment are the highlights.
We picked up our rental car upon arrival- a brand new Hyundai Sonata with only 52 miles on it! Are we the only ones who get excited about renting cars? That is one of the coolest things about being over 25. The car didn't have a tape adapter, but before we could be a bit bummed about that, we noticed that it did have XM radio. We spent the weekend brushing up on our Top 20, and I have to say that "Evacuate the Dance Floor" is one of the silliest songs I've heard. Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA" seemed to be our trip song as it seemed to be one every time we were in the car. Calvin told us he got tired of that one.

Before we checked in to our hotel, we stopped at a Panera that was just across the street. I had had Panera when I was in Connecticut, but Tyler had never been. That place is amazing. Those baguettes... I can't even type because my eyes are glazing over and my mouth is watering just thinking about that bread.

Oh, I forgot to mention that it was VERY cold in Denver. When we arrived, it was beginning to snow. We realized we didn't pack poor Cal a jacket. We bundled him up tight with blankets, though. He spent the weekend looking up at us through layers of blanket.
Our hotel was really great for the price. The had very recently remodeled our room (so recently, in fact, that they were still working on most of the rooms on our floor), so we had brand new furniture including a king-size bed with pillow-top mattress, flat-panel HDTV, microwave, minifridge, completely new bathroom, etc. Even though the lobby and hallways didn't look that great, the room was outstanding. They "couldn't find" their infant beds, so I fashioned a crib out of things I found around the room. I was pretty impressed with my craftsmanship, and Calvin slept great both nights.
Calvin's makeshift crib on the floor.

Night #1 we went to Casa Bonita. I had remembered going with Rhonda and Matt when they lived in Denver, and I couldn't wait to go back. It was funny going back to this place as an adult because my reaction to it was completely different. I had remembered it as the coolest place I had ever been to besides maybe Disneyland. It was still fun, but I hadn't realized as a child that the food's not that great. At least it's all-you-can-eat. The shows were still very fun. Our table was right by the water, so we got to see everything. And, ohmygosh the sopaipillas are amazing! So hot and so good....
The Disneyland-esque queue to get seated.

Our flag is up; more food please!

This sopaipilla was burning my mouth in this picture.

The next day, we got our standby tickets for the US Mint, and headed to the Museum of Science and Nature, where the Hall of Life used to be. They had just opened a new exhibit called "Expedition Health" that I was hoping would be similar. It was definitely trying to be like the Hall of Life, but wasn't quite as interactive or cool. This again may be because I am 15 years older. It also may have been due to the fact that there were about 600 elementary school kids there on a field trip, so doing much of anything was difficult. We walked around a lot and I attempted to feed Calvin in public- successfully, if I may boast. :)
View from the museum window

Next was the Mint. This place was way cooler than I even remembered. It is one of the most secure buildings in the country because it houses 20% of the nation's gold. As such, we could bring no more than our wallets into the building. We even had to take our batteries out of our cell phones. It was very fun.

That night we ate at Cici's Pizza, which was delicious. There are only a few things better than pretty great all-you-can-eat pizza for $4.99. Especially if they have dozens of different toppings. The highlight, or perhaps lowlight, there was seeing this couple feeding pizza to a baby which couldn't have been more than 3 or 4 months old. They weren't just being funny to see if she'd taste it or gnaw on it or something. They spent the whole time feeding it to her, and by looking at them, I don't think they knew very much about infant nutrition or nutrition in general. I felt very sad and wondered what it'd be like growing up in that family. It also gave me confidence, though, that I am doing pretty okay as a parent so far.

Other great parts of the trip include our trip to Kokoro, a delicious little Japanese chain, for lunch and our aimless driving around the city looking at the amazing architecture. Notable amazing buildings are the Denver Public Library by Michael Graves and the Denver Art Museum by various amazing modernist architects.
Denver Art Museum

Another building in the Art District

Denver Public Library

All in all, it was a great little weekend! So much fun! We were able to really take it easy, but see so many things at the same time!
Excited to explore a new city!

Oh, darn, I didn't even mention the 45 minute trip to WalMart just to find Calvin a jacket! We stood in the checkout line with 2 registers open in front of us for 30 minutes... One of the most memorable WalMart fiascoes to date, and there are quite a few. I think you can all imagine what a mindblowingly trying experience that was without me going in to detail.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Halloweentime

Ahhh, my favorite time at Disneyland. I am really wishing lately that we could go back to Disneyland. I love all the pumpkins, orange and black, Miss Pumpkin on Main Street, and the perfect cool weather. Most of the crowds are in school, planning their Christmas or summer trips to the park. Fall is in the air everywhere you go. It's definitely my favorite time at Disneyland.

But we are still here in Provo. At least it's becoming fall here too. Or should I say nose-diving into winter? It was so hot at the beginning of this week, and then there was a storm. It has been cold and rainy ever since. I love it though. It love listening to the rain all night. And I love that it isn't hot outside. Tyler even said that he is "kinda looking forward to the snow this year." What?! Usually snow puts Tyler in a bad mood from December to March, but we both decided that it's going to be fun to introduce snow to Calvin. Today, Calvin learned about rain when we went for a wet walk. He was looking all around as the cars would drive past and loudly splash water on their way.

He is becoming more and more mobile as the days pass. He figured out how to roll to his left. He also pivots around on his tummy. He can also wiggle his way forward- though VERY slowly. If you put a very enticing toy in front of him but out of reach, he will scoot and shimmy and twist and turn until he finally reaches it. It usually takes him about 3 full minutes to go only 5 inches. I am sure he will beat his record every day until he is crawling around like a maniac.

I am excited for Halloween this year. I have been working on our costumes and can't wait to reveal them at the Ward Costume Party. Also, I think we'll be able to stay home this Halloween and wait for Trick-or-Treaters! I haven't been able to do this for years! I love seeing all the kids in their costumes.

I haven't been taking enough pictures lately, but here are a couple I like:

video
Carson keeps Calvin fit with their weekly workouts together.

Calvin and his Monchhichi- his favorite toy lately.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Aarg! The pizza be hot, but the server be missin'!

Well, you know how much we like going to new food establishments. Last night, we tried "Pirate Island" out for the first time. It is located where the University Mall Cinemas used to be. The pirates just moved the theatre seats out and the pizza and pirate paraphernalia in.


We were excited to go and dressed Calvin up for the occasion. The night started out great with the skaters next door commenting on Calvin's cuteness. (This was a breakthrough with these guys!) We told them we were going to the new place and they said they had heard there were pirate shows there as well! We were initially expecting something along the lines of Chuck E. Cheese's, but this additional information got us even more excited!

Even though there was no wait, it took a while to be seated. This was because there was a line for the hostess desk, and with each group, the host would spend a few minutes talking to them, then talking with another hostess, then talking with the group again, and so on. Then another hostess would seat the group. We figured they were trying to mimic Caribbean customs as we were all in line to make the journey to Tortuga.

The set decoration/production design was alright. It is definitely more decked out than a Chuck E Cheese's or the like. Every employee had the appropriate swashbuckling garb on. We really enjoyed the menus with the colloquial descriptions for us Mateys. We had a hard time deciding what to get because we got too distracted reading about Pete's One-legged Wrap and Eye-patch Salad. There was a small play place, an arcade ("Smuggler's Cave"), and plenty of neat rooms to be seated in.


Overall, it was pretty good. Our only complaints were that after we received our food, we were marooned until we were almost completely done eating. I had to hunt down silverware. And we couldn't find anyone to get us refills or to tell that they had brought us the wrong appetizers. Oh, also, since they didn't give us pirate hats when they sat us, the server made me beg him (literally) to go get us some, but then he never even brought them even though we reminded him twice. Okay, it sounds like we had a lot of complaints, but it seemed like our pirate had a lot of other tables he was trying to serve, so we tried to understand. We've said before that we are really easy to please, but also not hard to annoy. We're working on that.
Anyway, we did have fun. I bet it would have been more fun had we had small children with us (but not quite as small as Calvin) who could enjoy the arcade and such. I wish we would've had more time with those menus. A lot of creative time went in to those- you could tell.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Busy as a Bee

Things have been crazy busy, and Calvin seems to be getting smarter and smarter like some sort of creepy alien in a sci-fi movie. Just yesterday at church, we felt like we were watching him grow up right before our eyes. He was laying on the ground in front of us, and I was putting a cloth on his face, trying to get him to play peek a boo. Up until yesterday, he would take the cloth off, look at us, and smile a bit, but he never really seemed to get the joke. Yesterday, however, he'd find us and giggle, and then, he would cover his eyes again with the rag pull it off really quickly and giggle again! He got it! All of a sudden, he seemed to get the whole idea! It was crazy.

Another thing we are working on is sitting up:
video

He hasn't quite gotten that one together yet, but he is getting stronger every day.

Here is another video of us playing on the ground together. He is always just so happy. His noises sound like an old man more than ever.
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Tyler and I have felt so busy with his school and work, and all of the jobs that I get myself wrapped up into. Recently, I did props for a production of Into the Woods at the SCERA Theatre on Orem. I have also been designing the set for Stellaluna there. Every moment we aren't working, schooling, or cleaning, we try to spend time as a family and are loving every minute of it. Calvin is such a joy. He brings so much happiness to our days. I have a bunch more cute videos that I hope to get up in the next couple of days! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fruits of Our Labors

It is Saturday night. 8:30 pm. We are getting Calvin ready for bed and decide to watch something on TV. We choose a recent episode of America's Test Kitchen that focuses on secrets to make the best blueberry pie. By 8:45 we had Calvin strapped in his carseat and were hustling out the door to go buy all of the ingredients to make our own. We had to go to 2 different grocery stores to find enough blueberries and to find tapioca to add to the filling. We had to make that pie!We made the dough after we got home and tucked Calvin in and refrigerated it overnight.

With our new church schedule, our church started at 8:30 am, so we were home by 11:45, and ready to spend the rest of the day making our masterpiece. After diligent dough rolling, berry smashing, and glorious bright filling making, we watched it bake for an hour and cool for another 4 hours. The diligence paid off. I may have found my new pastime in pie making. It's a delicious pastime if I do say so myself.

Our little pie, just before baking



The finished masterpiece.

(I tried to make the picture look all professional,

though I don't have the equipment)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hoarder Story

Tyler and I have a new wishlist on TiVo for anything relating to "hoarding" and "hoarders." We have seen about 12 different shows telling the stories of compulsive hoarders. Half of these shows have been on Animal Planet, documenting the run-ins that various ASPCA groups have had with animal hoarders. The rest of the shows have focused on helping those suffering from Hoarding Disorder by helping them clean their houses and having them work with psychologists and "professional organizers." There is "Obsessed," "My Mother's Garden," "Truth Be Told: I'm a Hoarder," "Animal Hoarders," etc. And now there is now an entire series about hoarding! It is appropriately called just "Hoarders." It's fascinating.

Watching these people lose their livelihood to material possessions has gotten us in the mood for a garage sale! We went through all of our clothes, books, toys, and random crap, and will attempt to sell about half of it. It feels so great to look in my closet and see only clothes that fit me and that I wear. Amazing. It was hard to part with some things, but there is nothing that inspires you to get rid of stuff than watching people struggling to live in their own filth and rotting belongings.

Summer Updates

I cannot believe that summer is coming to an end, and little baby Calvin is 4 months old! Time really does move fast. Calvin has come a long way in the past month. He has such a passion for learning and is one of the most easy-going, good-natured people I have ever known.

This month's big milestone was that Calvin learned how to roll over! A few weeks ago, we began to find him playing on his stomach when we would leave him on his back. The scariest would be when we would put him on his back to sleep, and we'd find him on his stomach in the morning. He couldn't seem to get from his stomach back to his back. Usually babies learn this the other way around. The sad thing for Calvin is that he doesn't much like being on his stomach, so after he would excitedly roll over, he'd be upset to discover that he was stuck in a perpetual ab exercise. This got to be very frustrating to him. He has since learned how to roll back to his back again.

video

Now if you leave him alone on the floor, he just rolls around exploring every part of the room. It doesn't seem like a bad way to travel. The only problem is that he can only roll one way- to his left. This doesn't seem to bother him, though. Once he has reached a wall and cannot travel in that direction any longer, he maneuvers around so that he has another straight shot. His movement patterns are actually very similar to Roomba.

Besides being so rollie, he also laughs and babbles a ton. He seems so happy all the time. When we went down to Tucson for a week, I thought the change of environment and all the attention would throw him off, but he responded so cheerfully. He was an angel on the plane, slept great in the Pack N Play, and just got giggly when he was surrounded by dozens of cousins! Tyler and I are trying to follow his example and be a bit more cheery in the throes of normal life. Calvin helps us to realize what a great life we have surrounded by so many people that love us. I have felt so happy and peaceful in the past month! I am so grateful for the amazing families we have!

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I am going to try to keep this short and update more often. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rule of Three


Calvin is now three months old. I really cannot believe it. Every morning, I wake up to find him bigger and heavier than when I put him down the night before. It is quite amazing how fast they grow.

You can also really see babies' minds working and making connections. Calvin has figured out how to control his arms with his brain (though clumsy). He will very slowly reach out and grab something he is interested in. It is almost painful watching how hard he concentrates to perform such a seemingly simple task. I am constantly amazed at how many things become second nature.

The other large development is that he has started to laugh--though he is a pretty tough critic. We have discovered that he has a similar sense of humor to Tyler and me since the first time he laughed was when he spit up all over me. I was shrieking and squealing trying to find a rag to wipe my body, the pillow, and his face off, and meanwhile, he was cackling. This, of course, made us laugh, which in turn made him laugh harder. It was a very sweet moment.



Tyler and I seek his laughs for validation, but he is only interested in fresh material. We'll do something silly, and he'll bust up laughing so we do it again. He'll laugh harder! When we do it a third time, he laughs so hard he can hardly contain himself. Of course, we always try for more, but upon the fourth time we do a bit, all we get is complete silence. It is no longer funny. Sometimes he gives us a courtesy smile, but it seems that he already understands that when it comes to comedy, funny things always come in threes.

He may be selective about what he laughs at, but he is not as picky when it comes to his smiles! Calvin smiles all day long. He is such a good-natured little kid. I just love his chubby cheeks!


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Monday, July 6, 2009

WT?

Our neighborhood Smith's recently underwent some remodeling, including nice, new stone on the outside, as well as new shelves, signs, and floor treatment on the inside. Among the changes, they have added sound effects to the meat department.

As I was shopping today, picking out steaks for a BBQ, I began hearing scattered "moo-ing" and the sounds of grazing. What is this supposed to make me think? "Yum...that sounds delicious!"? Or am I to think that the meat here is so fresh that I can hear the cow just minutes before his body parts are put out on the shelf? Perhaps Smith's Marketplace is thinking of innovative ways to be ADA compliant in aiding our non-sighted neighbors? In any instance, it's a little weird.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Two Months Old Already!















Every day goes by so fast! Calvin's big accomplishment this month was learning how to smile. The first time he really did it on purpose was when we went to go get him one morning at 5:30. He was yelling for us and when he saw us pop our heads over the side of the crib, he gave us a toothless grin. It melted my heart.

It makes each morning like Christmas morning as I sneak into his room only to find the greatest gift I've ever gotten smiling back at me from inside the crib.




We love him.


Here is a montage of smiles!





Shepherd Baby warming up after bath time.




Our Little Meerkat Pup





I don't know why, but he loves to stretch like this. He is such a little bean. He remained like this for about 5 minutes until he decided to go back to his back again.


Another happening this month was his baby blessing on May 30.
Tyler performed a beautiful blessing in our ward here in Provo.


That's about all the news about us this month. He goes in on Friday for his 2-month checkup. I am nervous for his shots...It is too sad when he cries in pain. Not fun, poor little guy.


More updates next month!