Monday, December 13, 2010

Homemade for the Holidays

Last year we adopted the tradition of Homemade Sibling Gifts. Each child can design and create a gift for the other two. My kids loved the one-on-one time we spent secretly planning, shopping for and making these simple gifts. We gave painted pillow cases, braclets, hairbows, and snowmen last year.
This year we have some fun projects underway. Margaret and I spent last week painting new bulletin boards for the boys. Tanner is in full sketch mode (I LOVE that HE LOVES to draw!) working on a new pillow case design for Andrew. Andrew and I stole a few minutes to paint this paper mache house for some of Margaret's smaller toys.
He is so into the challenge of keeping it a secret. I am so into everyone's good attitudes regarding making gifts for Christmas.
We still do the traditional Santa gifts and family exchanges. But I think the homemade gifts will be big favorites around here.
(I originally got this idea from Design Mom. She has years worth of wonderful ideas for these kidmade gifts. Worth checking it out!)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Pumpkin Chuckin'

Before today, my favorite way to dispose of old pumpkins was to let them slowly rot on our front porch. When they were no longer recognizable, or when I just got tired of people commenting on their out-of-seasonness, I would scoot them off the porch. That's right-scoot, kick, or shove them right over the edge and into the accumulating leaves below. This method was great. One year when our winter was mild, it even yielded a surprise pumpkin vine the following spring. We let it grow and produce right there on the porch, and were so proud of our pumpkins.

Sad news. Next spring there will be no pumpkins in the front flower bed. Not even the hope of a pumpkin plant survived today's Pumpkin Chuckin'. However we are hoping for some in the woods behind our home. Because Jason must have tired of my method and resorted to his own means of disposal.
Pumpkin Chuckin' is what we called it, and it is just that.

Take your old, but still recognizable, gourds to the nearest woods and toss them.

This must have been fun for Jason and the kids, because they kept retriving them and tossing again.

Of course, once you get pumpkin guts, the fun ends and you have to go back inside.
Which none of us minded because it was FREEZING out there!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Santa's Helpers...

Christmas decorating has been a family affair this year. We are figuring out where our decorations fit in this house and which ones didn't quite survive the multiple moves (like the pre-lit tree). So we happily bought a real Frasier Fir and I accepted all the light-untangling, ornament-unpacking, and tree-wrapping help the kids offered. Now our tree looks something other than perfect. But they loved "helping" and I have sweet memories of doing the same when I was growing up.

Margaret was so involved. Most of the ornaments ended up at her eye-level, and I don't think I'm going to move them. When the tree lights were on she stepped back to take a look and was thrilled.

The kids also helped Jason with the exterior lights. Everyone's favorite part was using the bucket truck to reach the gables. No big surprise there! They did a great, slightly more professional looking job outside.

I remember sitting on the floor as a child and staring at the lights on our Christmas tree and the colors they bounced onto the walls and ceiling. Now I can not wait to catch my own children doing the same.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Birthday Report

We had a little party for Andrew's birthday today. Early- I know. But with Thanksgiving next weekend, I thought it would be best to celebrate now.
He requested a weather party. Cute. However, you can not just run to the party shop and pick up weather-themed supplies. We got creative and had a blast with cousins, family and a buddy from school.
We made a thunderstorm (with our hands), had fun with static, played thunder and lightning (just like marco polo), and even borrowed a fog machine and sno-cone maker. It was different and fun.
Andrew had a blast and felt so loved. Thanks everyone.

(I thought we would include some fog in our traditional birthday party mug shots. See how well that worked?! Behind all that smoke were happy kids. I promise!)

Where does sleeping beauty rest her head?

Anywhere she wants.

This killed me. I guess true princesses are royal even when they rest.

Now I know...

I have always wondered what Jason will look like as we age. Now I know...
(It was a great Halloween costume though.)

Autumn Fun

I haven't posted in some time. We have just been so busy with all that autumn brings. Below are pics from our pumpkin patch trip. It was a fun morning full of straw, slides, and a feed bin full of corn kernals. The highlight was definitely the corn cannon. Each of them had a try and LOVED it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Overdressed Mom

Those of you who know me are reading this and assuming I'm writing about someone else. You know that I have never in my life qualified as overdressed. Underdressed-YES. Overdressed-NEVER. Not at least when it come to designer shoes and little black dresses. I just do not spend that much time worrying about my outward appearance.

Perhaps I should think about the image I out forth a little bit more though. Because aside from my jeans and sweaters, there is another image I put forward about myself- each day.

Our faces have no tags and no labels. But what else about us can express so acutely how we feel and what we are thinking about ourselves and others.
I am afraid I too often put on my "Hurry, hurry, hurry" face the moment I jump out of bed and don't take it off when I should. Like when I say "Good Morning" it should be with a geniune "Good Morning" face. Not with a "hurry-up-and-get-dressed-because-we-are-already-late-and-your-little-sister-needs-an-emergency-bath" face.

Perhaps the key is in me slowing down and taking the time to look others in the eye each time we speak. For all I know my kids may think my voice is just a sound echoing down the hall or from behind a pile of folded clothes. I haven't been doing the best job of portraying myself to my family.

But I can start now. I can wipe away all those unneccessary clenched teeth and squinted eyes from my Mom face. I can let my family know that I really do have the best job for me and for us. I can find joy in what I am doing and let my children know that while being a stay-at-home mom is challenging, I am so up for it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A little Nostalgia...

I think it is just this time of year that makes me this way. Does the combination of crisp air and fallen leaves make you nostalgic too?

So bear with me while I delve into the past for a few days. (Disclaimer: I am not totally wasting time by the way. I'm scanning old pics while walking down memory lane.)

Looking at these pictures from one unbelievable summer in London has left me pondering the events in our life that make us into who we are today. Some experiences just occur and we live through them and we are left untouched, unchanged.

Other moments are so profound they leave us marked. Forever different. My summer in London was one of those. I traveled there in 1999 (I KNOW, so long ago!) with a group of students and faculty from BYU to study literature, history and art. It was a culminating, liminal, illuminating summer. If I could step back there for a day, you know I would. #27 Palace Court. Our home away from home. Hyde Park, Kensington Palace and Notting Hill were each around a corner.

We had to explore every nook of the city possible, including Harrod's.(Not sure that was a required stop, but there was no resisting.)

My personal favorite part of the program was our bus trips out of the city. This was taken in route to Scotland, near the Sir Walter Scott Monument.

Best weekend trip! I WILL go back to the Isle of Wight someday. I WILL! We biked to the seaside, hiked on top of chalky cliffs, and even spent a morning as uninvited guests at a sheep farm.

And of course, Stonehenge. Created so long ago, still standing today. Those shadows were humbling.

There are a million more pictures which I won't bore you with, but I am so glad I took a chance and interviewed for this program. So grateful for the wonderful experiences I had there and friendships that were born.

Going back is impossible, but I can not resist dreaming about it all.

And as I type, my daughter is passing me a pink note, adorned with scribbles and glue. Maybe I don't want to go back just now. Right here is a pretty nice place to be too. Warm kitchen, dinner waiting, kids playing...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My (little) Bro

Mark, my youngest brother, is getting married this January. So I am hunting through some old photos and thinking of all the fun we had growing up.

I was 5 when Mark was born, and I always thought of him as mine. I honestly can only remember being mad at him once. (I still remember it because I felt so guilty about it.)

Now he is definitely not my little brother anymore, and he is marrying a wonderful, beautiful woman.

I am so happy for you Mark. So happy you found Daniella. So happy you are beginning your journey to forever with her.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Your comments matter.

So last weekend an old friend read the blog and commented about the electrical wire hanging from our kitchen ceiling in one of the photos. All I can say is "THANK YOU" Todd. Your attention to detail has produced this...

That's right. I laughingly told Jason about your remark and look what went up the very next afternoon. Now, in his defense, I selected this fixture even though I knew it was backordered. It was just delivered last week. So it really couldn't have gone up much sooner, but it's funny how things work out.

What do you think of the fixture? I love it. It was so worth the wait, and the dimly lit dinners, and the squinting during homework time.

It's coordinating companion that is supposed to hang over the island is still M.I.A. however. But maybe if a few of you start commenting on it, it will magically arrive and be installed too.

Just don't push your luck and start talking about the fact that there are no curtains in the living room or artwork on that huge wall above the stairs. That's my department. :) I'm still waiting for design inspiration to strike.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Our Weekend

I am anticipating the fun of this weekend. We have a few work projects in mind (I think we have an endless supply of those actually), several recipes to test (I am drooling over this), and something wonderful to watch (I can not wait for this).

What about you? Wouldn't this be the perfect weekend for a drive through the orchards? Did you know there is a huge community yard sale in Cobden that includes a breakfast buffet? Doesn't that sound fun. Plus my favorite tamale dive, Taqueria Pequena, is located there too.

Whatever you do, do it together and make it fun!

You just never know...

We decided to take a break this fall from all of our crazy running around. We are settling in to our new home (which we love) and our great neighborhood (which we REALLY love) and new school (which is the BEST!!). It has been a nice and much needed change of pace for our family.
So most of our evenings are fairly tame. We eat together, walk Charlie, and quiz the boys on spelling words. For now, all this quietness is so sweet. I am loving it. I know this calm can not last, so I am just drinking it in and trying my best to savor these sweet moments of togetherness.
I must add though that not everyone in the Burke Bunch is as thrilled as I am with our season of silence. Margaret has NEVER been one to sit still. She is a fun loving girl who can not even make it through dinner without jumping up and rocking the boat. We just never know what she'll do next. She changes clothes at least 4 times a day and usually a change of personality gets mixed in there too.

So last night when she interupted dinner to display her latest acrobatic wonder,what she calls a "head down," I wasn't surprised. It involved climbing through the back of a folding chair and balancing with her head on the floor. Toes pointed and the whole bit. She takes this all so seriously.

But I was a little taken back when Jason answered her, "I bet you can't do this!" with his own, "Of course, I can! I'll show you after we eat."
It worked, she sat down and ate. Jason was probably hoping she would forget the challenge, but we were all so happy that she didn't. We got the show of a lifetime.

Sure enough he was a man of his word and attempted one "head down." Somewhere around the point his arms and chest were supposed to squeeze through at the same time, there was a little complication. Margaret decided to help push him through and Tanner and I enjoyed the scene. (I have no idea how Andrew was able to finish his noodle bowl back there!)

When he got worried about never getting out, Jason decided to abandon official competition protocol and stood up. This was too funny. I really wish someone had come to knock on our door at this moment.

With a little help from his adoring fans...

So the challenge was issued to the rest of us.

We gladly accepted and had so much fun performing our own versions of the "Head Down." (I must of momentarily forgotten the wounds I am still nursing. I felt this all night.)

All-Star Andrew slid through with out a hitch.

Finally Tanner, who is never slow to answer a challenge, shared his own unique version with us. It of course involved a twist and dramatic landing.

You see, even when I plan for the most peaceful of evenings, things don't always go that way. But I wouldn't change a moment of the fun we are having. As long as we are together, I'm loving it.

Does Mederma Work?

We are doing our best around here to find out if Mederma for Scars really works. Miss Margaret, our resident dancer, twirled her way into the edge of her bedroom door. What looked like a scratch later scabbed over, and all week long we've been getting the dreaded "Eww, what happened?" everywhere we go. Poor little girl. We'll let you know if Mederma lives up to its claims, because it sounds like we get to test it out three times a day for the next 6 weeks. Sounds like fun, right?!

Margaret refused to let me take a picture of the damage(can't say that I blame her), but here she did let me photograph her first set of pigtails. This was three days after the crash, once the black eye was almost gone.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Having a Rough Day?

Do you ever have one of those days?

When the tempers and tantrums flare.

And you just can't figure out how to turn things around from bad to...


Much Better.

Like skippity-do-da kind of GOOD?

Well then, I recommend a little of this,

and this,

and this too.

It works. I promise!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fun by all, was had.

My recent appendectomy threw us for a spin, and caused the cancellation of Tanner's birthday party. That is NEVER good. But we rescheduled and most of his buddies were still able to attend. Tanner had a blast and felt loved, which is the most important part.

The party was Star Wars themed. We made light sabers out of rigid water pipe and foam pipe insulation sleeves. Then the Jedi's in training used their weapons to balance bombs and kept them from detonating on the ground.

The trainees also collected asteroids that had fallen in the basement. Inside each rock were party favors.

Then they had to use their new skills to destroy the death star that had landed on our back patio. Water bombs did the trick.

The trainees played pass the meteor.

My personal favorite was the ship designing course they had to pass. Each young Jedi created a model space craft to take home with them. They really concentrated on this task.

Tanner and some of his Jedi buddies. Thanks for the fun evening and great memories!