Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What Do People See When They Look at Me?

Father of the Bride is funny. Father of the Bride 2 might be even MORE funny. My favorite part of the movie is the dichotomy between George and Nina's feelings on becoming parents again.

Check this out:

I literally saw this scene flash before my eyes on Saturday. Well, not all of it. I saw the part where the kid douses his dad with French fries and takes off running. I really and truly saw that part in my mind and at the same time could (almost) see myself and the boys as if I were watching us. Strange, and yet it allowed me to (almost) laugh, even at the time.

So here's how it happened. From the beginning.

Jared had to catch up on some studying on Saturday, so after Micah's nap I took the boys to Colonial Williamsburg by myself. It was a beautiful day, and we were all itching to go outside. Sounds perfect, right?

We pretty much went straight to the Governor's Palace gardens. This is Luke's favorite destination and, as it is fenced in and usually uncrowded, it is also the best place to let Micah run around-- or so I thought. But pretty much as soon as we got inside Luke wanted a snack and Micah wanted to jump into the water. I can juggle that okay. I gave Luke his snack and told him to stay on the bench and I chased Micah around. But then Luke finished his snack and he wanted to go one direction and Micah another. Still not a problem. Luke is old enough to go where I tell him, so Micah picked the direction this time. Then we went to the maze for awhile. It was fun!

Then I realized that Micah needed a change just about the time that Luke's potty dance started. We went to our favorite restroom (also located in the palace gardens), but it was closed! This doesn't seem like a catastrophe, but if you think that, you don't know Luke. To get him to pee in a new place for the first time is an ORDEAL. And he has peed there before. We had already done the whole melt down. Now where do we go? I trudged everybody about 1/2 mile down the street to another family restroom that I know. At least I figured that while Luke threw his tantrum I would be able to keep Micah out of the toilet since it was just a one room fix-all. And there would be no witnesses. But it was a no go. Luke would NOT go. I didn't want to ruin the day, so I just put him in a pull-up and called it good. Then I changed Micah and off we went again.

You're probably thinking, "When does this story get good?"

Right now.

We just went a quick skip-hop-and-a-jump across the street by the courthouse. There is a big lawn there that has a large metal circle in it. I think the circle is actually a giant covering over a road or something, but regardless it is loud when one jumps on it, and Luke and Micah love it. Luke calls it the drum. So Luke was running round and round on it. Micah was climbing on and off and getting just a little muddy in the process. It had rained the night before, so all around the "drum" was a shallow mud puddle. Luke took a break from running to come get his bag of pretzels again. And then went right back to running with his pretzels. He was laughing. Micah was laughing. And then all hell broke loose...

Luke fell and the pretzels spilled. Everywhere. Sliding across the drum, falling into the mud. And Luke started SCREAMING. I was trying to talk to him and calm him down. I ran to the diaper bag, pulled out a ziploc bag (gotta keep a couple on hand), and started scooping up the pretzel mess. Micah, for his part, was having a grand old time eating pretzels out of the mud. In fact he sat right down and just went for it. Luke was upset by this for some reason, and bent down to stop Micah, and he knelt in the mud by accident. There was a slightly-bigger-than-a-quarter-sized spot of mud on Luke's knee. SCREAM!!!! He was trying to rip his pants off. He was yelling. Micah got scared and started crying. I am still trying to clean up the pretzels and talk calmly to Luke. And keep his pants on. And then, one of these people who work at Colonial Williamsburg (Picture someone like this:)

decides that NOW would be the perfect time to come over and talk to my son in a TERRIBLE, FAKE, STUPID, WORSE-THAN-MY-OWN (and that is saying something!) BRITTISH accent.

"I say, Little Sir. Whatever is the matter?" (REALLY?! BY ALL THAT IS DECENT AND GOOD IN THIS WORLD, I ASK YOU: WHY?!)

Luke took one look at her, screamed in her face, and took off running down the street. REALLY, REALLY FAST.

And, for just a split second, this is where the move plays in my mind. I am frozen for just that split second... until I realize that I need to stop that kid.

I'm yelling, "STOP! STOP, LUKE!" and it's doing no good. I scoop up Micah and take off running.

And Colonial Helpfulness yells after me, "Your pretzels!" (AGAIN I ASK: REALLY?!)

I catch Luke. I get my wits about me. I tell him to take a deep breath "like the doctor," and start chanting our special mantra. "I'm okay. Luke, say 'I'm okay.'" He tries. I tell him that I have an extra pair of pants in the diaper bag. Does he want to put on the new pants? He says yes. (Still crying.) I tell him that he needs to calm down, stop crying. We are going to finish picking up the pretzels, then we're going to walk back to the bathroom and change his pants. Can he do that? He stops crying.

And that's when I look up and see Helpfulness standing just a few feet away holding our bag of pretzels. She starts walking over. (In my head: "Oh no. Oh no. Just go away. Just go away.") She says, still in her terrible accent (I guess she heard something about the bathroom), "Look, Little Sir! That white building just over there is the bathroom." Luke, luckily, just gives her a dirty look but doesn't scream or run away. I just tell him to come on, let's go get the stroller. And as we head across the street she calls, "That's a mighty fine name, Luke! My brother is called Luke!" Oh, Girl! Please, PLEASE just stop. Just STOP!

We make it across the street. Luke gets new pants. I leave Micah in his muddy ones because (Thank Goodness!) he doesn't care. And we head on home.

Honestly, when I thought about and hoped for parenthood I pictured scenes like the happy, blissful skipping in the movie from above. That looks like fun, doesn't it? The crazy thing is that my moments of "parental reality", in their own crazy way, are also interesting. Not fun, really. But they make good stories. But the real thing is-- that is to say, why I didn't imagine them in all my dreaming and planning-- is that they're just impossible to imagine before they happen. I mean, who would ever put together the words pretzel, mud, colonial actor, and disaster? How could I EVER have anticipated that? So, like I said, these scenes are impossible to imagine. And probably terrifying to witness as they're unfolding.

So I wonder: What do people see when they look at me?

I hope at times they can see the blissful skipping. Those moments DO happen, even pretty regularly. I KNOW they sometimes see the terrifying tantrums. Those scenes tend to draw attention. And those who witness our "special moments" probably swear off parenthood forever or condemn me for my assumed lack of parenting skills. I know that I thought (before I experienced parenthood for myself), "My child would never be allowed to act like that!" And while I should probably not think about it at all and probably not care about what anybody else is thinking or wondering, a part of me does. And a part of me REALLY hopes that some veteran mom in the Colonial Williamsburg audience was thinking to herself, "Way to go, Mommy. Way to keep your cool! You handled that beautifully." Because, given the situation, I think I did.

Monday, January 30, 2012


The first creature that Luke ever named was a frog (represented here by the first decent frog picture that I found by googling "common frog in water") that we found in our complex swimming pool over the summer. It was stuck in there and looked like it was about to die, so we fished it out and Jared and Luke went on a walk to rescue it by dumping it into a little pond that we pass on the way to see the octagon air conditioners. While they walked Jared asked Luke the frog's name and he responded, "Air conditioner." Luke remembers this because just a few weeks ago we went on a family walk to see the octagon air conditioners, and Luke dragged Jared over to the water and asked him where Air Conditioner was. He was clearly asking about the frog.

Luke is just starting to name some of his toys. This is the first little doll he ever named. And which of all the names possible did he choose?


I might have convinced him otherwise, but I've met a child named Seven in my lifetime. And I ask: Is Dollar any stranger than Seven?

Now this doll I named. Her name is Sadie. It fits, right?

Luke thought this doll should also be named Sadie:

Now, I admit that they do look alike. But I pointed out some differences and showed him that they were different "people." So this doll needed her own name. What should it be?

Luke chose Henry.



After laughing over that with Jared, Jared brought up the idea that perhaps Henry was a nickname, short for Henrietta. Yikes! If that were my name, I'd go by Henry too. So this little girl is still named Henry. It's just changed spelling: Henri. That looks more feminine, right?


Good pick, Luke.

If we ever get a dog, I wonder what our dog's name will be?.....


Jared taught Luke how to be a pirate!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

If You Can't Find Micah...

Check the book bins!

10 to 1 you will find him in there hunting out this week's favorite. Currently that is Old MacDonald.

We'll be doing a lot of reading today because once again we are home bound. Micah is sick again! This poor child has the world's worst immune system. He had an ear infection on the 12th, finished his antibiotic on the 21st, and had strep throat by the 24th. Thank goodness for modern medicine or Micah would be one miserable boy!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Plan

Following Jared's graduation from law school, we will be moving to....

Amarillo, Texas!

Jared was offered a clerkship there with federal district judge Mary Lou Robinson. These judges get over 500 applications for just one opening, so it is a great honor for Jared to be offered this clerkship. We feel very blessed. Judge Robinson was appointed by President Carter, so she has a lot of experience. In addition she also has a career clerk who has been with her for over 20 years. Jared will be learning from the best. He will clerk for Judge Robinson for one year.

And then we will be moving to Dallas, Texas where Jared will work at K&L Gates.

Here's to real life! We eagerly await it!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What they just don't tell you...

I know it's been said that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

But people fail to expand on this important truth: if the wheel gets greased and STILL keeps squeaking, that wheel gets dumped in the trash. Or else the entire bicycle is shoved in the garage and ignored.

I plan on teaching my kids the whole truth. I hope they pick up on it soon.

Because shoving them in the garage is not an option.

Friday, January 13, 2012


If this isn't proof that they look alike, I don't know what is.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Micah's First Haircut(s)

Micah has come a long way since his baldy-baldy days of baby-hood.

October 2011

January 2011

March 2011

April 2011

July 2011

September 2011

November 2011

December 2011

We both just loved Micah's blonde curls. So while Jared and I both knew that his hair was getting a little on the silly side, we loved it so much that we couldn't cut it. But suddenly, just passing into the first week of January, his hair went from adorable to ridiculous. He started looking like a neglected redneck.

I didn't want to use clippers because I didn't want his hair that short and because I thought Micah would be afraid of them. I also didn't want to use scissors myself because the whole idea of holding sharp objects by a squirmy baby's head just terrifies me. Plus I really don't like the blunt bowl-cut look that is so hard to avoid if one doesn't know how to blend. And I don't.

I wanted him to look like this (my nephew Skyler):
I wanted the top to stay long, but the sides cut short and blended really well.

So, in hoping for the above, I took him to a cheap salon and paid $10 for someone else....

to give him a blunt bowl cut. Doh!

After a few days I just took the clippers to his head anyway. He did scream like crazy, but it was over quickly. And he looks much better now. So it looks like I'll be cutting his hair from here on out.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

December 26

We pretty much all wanted to get out of the house and do something extra special the day after Christmas. In honoring Skyler and Luke's pick we went to Chuck E. Cheese. There isn't a lot in Oxford, where Nathan and Sarah live, so we actually drove to a town in Delaware to go to Chuck E. Cheese. I thought it was funny that we went to church in Maryland and game time in Delaware. But I digress.

Here are a few pictures from our afternoon:

Ski ball was by far the family favorite. All the kids played, the adults had several contests which began in earnest after I discovered one of the ski ball (tracks? What do you call those?) was broken. It calculated my score way higher than it actually was-- although I also skied a pretty good game. I got several 4,000s. And I broke the high score of the day and was rewarded with a whole lot of tickets. Apparently you get 50 for breaking the high score. So the contest was to see who could break the current high score. And then who could break that high score. I fell out of the running pretty early. I can't remember if Jared or Nathan held the final highest score. Whoever won, we ended up with a LOT of tickets.

Cashing in the tickets!
Skyler REALLY liked feeding the tickets into the machine. As soon as we got a new string he rushed over to feed them in.

This tea cup was Micah's favorite ride. When you put the token in, it said something like, "Get ready!" When it would say that Micah would smile really big and clap his hands. I couldn't catch it on camera though. I even tried to video him, but he didn't do it for the video either.

Luke's favorite "rides" were the red car that takes your picture (We always leave Chuck E. Cheese with 10+ pictures of Luke in that car), the virtual ride that has a buckle (Luke didn't care about the ride-- he just wanted to fasten the seat belt buckle over and over and over), and this monster truck. Luke was actually too scared to put a token in because it was a pretty bumpy ride, but he would grip it and shake as hard as he could. He thought it was hilarious to make it bump.

So that was a fun afternoon. Later we played outside with the green soccer ball some more, and that night we had a big family dance party. Luke was very much into Sarah that night and wanted her to dance with him. Whenever she tried to take a break Luke would find her and say, "Do you want Sarah to dance?" It turned into a whole family dance party that was lots of fun.

Jared's cool moves. HAHAHAHA

The rest of the pictures are of us doing the "ceiling fan dance." That just means you spin in a circle until you get dizzy and fall down. Obviously, Luke was the leader of that dance.

And boom. I got pretty dizzy. Skyler was checking to see if I'm okay.

After the kids were in bed we played Ticket to Ride again and ate lots and lots of candy cane almonds. It was a great trip, and we hope we can visit again pretty soon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Christmas Day

On Christmas morning Nathan and Sarah humored us and woke their boys up early so that we could get our own crazy kiddos out of the back bedroom. They walked in the living room to see this:

Our boys' presents from Santa are in front of the couch, and Skyler and Zack's presents were by the fireplace.

I knew going in that Luke and Micah weren't going to be ecstatic about their presents this year. Micah because he doesn't really have huge preferences yet. He is happy with whatever, so while he doesn't get disappointed, he also doesn't get super excited. And as for Luke, well... it wasn't a stereo.

We've been working every day on playing pretend, so for Christmas he and Micah got toys to use for pretend games. They got a big car mat and LOTS of Little People things. Most of it didn't travel with us to Pennsylvania, but we used the money from Grammy to get some things off Ebay. In the end we were able to get everything that I most wanted for our pretend "sessions." And I am so glad that we went this route. After only a few weeks Luke's pretend skills have gotten so much better! He will take the people to school-- He buckles them all into pretend car seats on the bus. The daddy often goes to the airport to fly to Texas. We have done field trips to the farm. Usually I come up with the ideas and then Luke embellishes them. But he is putting in his own details now (like buckling the car seats), and he is starting to even pick our destinations, etc. He can play Little People (when I'm playing with him) for over 1/2 hour. That is amazing progress! So even though he wasn't crazy excited on Christmas morning he was still happy with them, and he likes them more and more all the time. Micah likes the Little People too. He mostly likes to open and close the doors to the houses and suck on the people's heads. But I know that he'll grow into them. He CAN drive the bus and airplane. So all in all it turned out that Santa brought great presents. And, in addition to our pretend toys, I made sure that they each had one present they would both be excited about.

Here is Micah's special toy. Those gears fit onto knobs, and then when you push the button they light up and spin. He uses this one every single day.

You can kind of see the soccer ball in the bottom left corner? That was Luke's special present. Luke's wish list for Santa kept getting more and more specific. First he told me that he wanted a Green from Santa. Just a green. Then it was a green ball. And finally, a few days before Christmas, he told me that he wanted a green soccer ball. Santa brought a blue and green soccer ball, and Luke was very excited about that! I sure am glad that Santa was able to deliver because when I told Luke we were going to the living room to see what Santa brought he shouted, "A green soccer ball!" He played with it A LOT on Christmas day. It was his favorite present. By the end of the Christmas holiday Luke ended up with 3 green balls. A family from the ward (I think) picked us for Secret Santa. Luke got a green football, and Micah got a cute bunny. Then on the 26th we went to Chuck E. Cheese (I'll post about it in the next post), and he got a mini green basketball with our tickets. So he was very happy with all his green balls.

One more thing about his picture: In the top left corner you can see 2 blankets tangled together. Like Luke, Micah is a little Linus. He loves his blue blanket. His favorite one is the one with 2 shades of blue. He can't go to sleep without it. Just like Luke, he also has the cutest little giggle reserved only for his blue blanket. And just like Luke used to do, he covers his head with it and tries to walk around. He always has bumps and bruises on his forehead from walking into things or tripping and bonking into things. But I think it is so cute that he LOVES his blanket. Although I am jealous that when Jared asks, "Where's Mama?" we get no response whereas when Jared says, "Where's your blanket?," Micah will run and find it.

Skyler gave Luke and Micah a barn to go with all of our other Little People things. The barn is Micah's favorite "house." It has the most doors to open and shut.

Opening another present from Skyler:

After breakfast ( a yummy egg and sausage casserole cooked in the crock pot overnight-- Genius!) we went to church. My family ended up leaving early because Micah was on total melt down. This boy really needs his morning nap, so unlike most people we are struggling with our new 9 o'clock church.

We had a healthy lunch of pretty much junk (cheese ball and crackers!) trying to save room for our super yummy turkey dinner. Nathan and Sarah fed us VERY well.

So while the turkey cooked we played outside.

Luke played soccer for a long time. Both boys were kicking balls around. I was so lame and didn't bring my camera out, so all of these pictures (actually almost all of them on the entire post) are stolen from Sarah's blog. So I don't actually have a shot with Luke and his green soccer ball. But we set up the cones, and then Luke would kick them down the "field" until he scored. When he scored he got to run to the side of the house and look at the vent. He is very interested in vents right now. (Sometimes at stores he tries to lay down on the floor in the middle of an aisle so that he can get a better view of the vents on the ceiling. It's a pretty awkward experience, but he hasn't tripped anyone yet. And most people just smile at him. Still, we're working on not laying down on the floor.) But the vents on the side of Nathan's house were right at Luke's eye level, and he was fascinated by them. He would run as fast as he could, kicking the ball every few steps, shoot it between the cones and then yell, "Can I look at the vent now?" and then run over there to see them. And then he would try to talk everyone into coming over to look at them with him.

Micah LOVES slides.

After dinner the boys played in Skyler's and Zack's new kitchen. Micah also liked the kitchen a lot. He kept wandering over to it. Whenever I couldn't see him I would check the kitchen and he would be there opening and shutting the doors and switching food around to new locations.

We also did a big Orton family video chat and that was fun. I hope we set it up to do it on a regular basis. Eric had a cool web cam that would let him add features to his face. He could turn into a shark, or add antlers, etc. to his face. He could even make his computer add the same features to whoever was talking. Luke liked seeing his face on the screen, so he would put his face right over the camera and make funny faces.

We played hard that day!

Originally I had a big wish list for myself as well as the boys. I wanted dishes. I wanted shoes. Etc., etc. I got a frying pan which was the thing I wanted the most. Jared said it was his present too. We also got a great trip to Pennsylvania with our Christmas money. We didn't really need anything else.

I have to say that on Christmas, as well as on Thanksgiving, I count my blessings. The gospel and my family are the greatest blessings in my life. It was good to be in church and listen to beautiful music. It was wonderful to be with Nathan and his family and to talk to my parents and my brothers and sisters. I am so happy that I have Jared and my boys! It was good to realize that we have everything we need and everything important that we want.