Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I&B Adventures Continued

So Monday we basically spent the day playing at the park. We had a rockin' good time and so did the pups, running around sniffing and digging everything they could find. Apparently K-ville put in a disc golf course in the park by the Aquatic Center- super fun. Here are a few pics to document the super fun day.

And a video to document Derek's attempts to squeeze through the monkey bars. WORTH it.

Tuesday we drove to KC early and (tried to) hit a few more church sites. We headed for Adam-ondi-ahman first. Unfortunately, due to my headstrong intellectual pride, I assumed that since I'd been there once (coming from the opposite direction over three years ago) I knew how to get there. I'd seen the map, I knew there was a sign... unfortunately, that sign was AFTER you turn off onto another road, not off of highway 6, which is where we were. So, since we were also tight on time and heading to the airport, we just had to skip it. So we hit Far West instead and then continued out to Haun's Mill. NOT worth it. It was so far out off of about a billion dirt roads that it was just annoying. It looked a lot closer on the map. So much for trusting my map reading skills. We wound up getting to the airport about 45 minutes before their flight left- the ideal, but very risky time. Because what if security is busy and you have to wait in a thousand mile long line? But if not, then you get through everything and don't have to wait. Fortunately for them, the second was what happened.

Then, I was free of children and had about 5 glorious hours (maybe 4) to run errands, do shopping, grab some sushi and overall enjoy myself before I picked up my cousin from the airport. Yeah, the same one who inspired the improved hostess/guest relations. Until I took a wrong exit and wound up lost in ghetto KC for about an hour or so. Then my Costco trip took extra time because I forgot my Costco card and with everything that wound up happening, my 4-5 hours evaporated before I got to do the fun stuff. But it was fine, because when I picked her up, she treated me to dinner (I LOVE this girl!) at On The Border and then we hit up JCPenney to return something of hers.

Thanksgiving with Camas will be coming up in a week!

Monday, November 26, 2007

And the Best Guest Award goes to....

So my sis and her hubby came to visit the week before Thanksgiving (tickets were cheaper...). Basically from start to end we had a rockin' good time. They came about mid-finals week, so Derek missed out on the first few days.

Further, it's sort of an ongoing joke between my sis and I ("joke" doesn't seem the right word, but you'll get my meaning") to be the best in hospitality- whether we're playing guest or hostess. This was largely inspired by the standing Best Guest, my cousin Camas (this girl is amazing- I love having her visit. Her "best guest-ness" inspired my interest in perfecting my hostessing.). Evidence of the justness (that doesn't sound like a word... is that a word? Spellcheck didn't call my bluff. Ironically, it did on "spellcheck") of is scattered throughout the post, so enjoy the pictures and accompanying stories.

The girls loved getting to know their aunt and uncle. I don't think Avril realized they were our family, because she kept calling them our "friends" and after they left, she kept asking when our "friends Breta and Isaac" were coming back. Anyway, they spent a lot of time just playing with and otherwise entertaining our kids.


While here, we went around to all the Missouri/Illinois church sites, starting when I picked them up at the KC airport. The photo on the left is the Nauvoo temple (an LDS temple if I have any not-so-LDS readers). The photo on the right is the RLDS temple. Kinda crazy-looking. We didn't have time to take a guided tour so they wouldn't let us in to check it out. The little people are me with Xandri and Isaac with Avril.

Across the street is the Independence LDS Visitors Center. These are pictures of the kids playroom- they loved it. They had some really cool displays up as well, very interesting stuff. Again, history for the not-so-LDS, the reason Independence is such a popular LDS/RLDS site is that this is the original place the LDS were commanded to establish Zion, but due to the Saints' individual weaknesses and the rising hostility surrounding Mormons, it became necessary to move on, shall we say. (If I have any fellow LDS readers who are noticing any inaccuracies, please feel free to post in my comments.) We believe that it still is to be the site of Zion at some future date.

This is in front of and inside of the Liberty Jail Visitor's Center. This is where Joseph Smith, along with a few other leaders of the church at the time, were held in rather cramped quarters in a vulgar jail. Though on a physical level it was a horrific experience and very trying simply because of the concern for the church members and their families and the persecution they were enduring, it is hailed by church members as one of the most beautiful times in church history because of the remarkable revelations Joseph received.

Finally, some more evidence of the Best Guest Award- yes, they brought a little gift for each of us- Toblerone for Derek and I (they know our weaknesses) and little toys for the girls. Not only that, but they washed my dishes for me and cleaned my kitchen, they helped us clean up, what was it, 12 bags of leaves?

On Friday, we went to Nauvoo and Carthage Jail (pictured above)after Derek's last final. The poor guy was so tired, but Friday was the only day we could go, so not only did he go with us, but he drove the whole way (2hr15min drive each way). He was really good about it- mostly. We got into a weird tense discussion (I can't even remember about what) and the result is this angry-looking picture of him. Lucky for us, I can bury my emotions and put on a plastic smile when needed. ;)

Anyway, again history for those unfamiliar (the Reader's Digest condensed version)- Nauvoo was the refuge the Saints found in Illinois after the extermination order passed in Missouri. Initially, it was called Commerce (I believe) and was a swampy wasteland full of mosquitoes with malaria or some disease. They arrived is this miserable place no one else wanted, sick, freezing and dying and turned it into a bustling, profitable growing little city. The surrounding areas still held a lot of hatred for the Mormons and the haters were able to trump up some charges (like so many times before) against Joseph Smith and the leaders of the church. They claimed treason, that the local militia raised (a common thing back then) was an army raised to fight the government. So Joseph, his brother Hyrum and a few other church leaders accompanied them to the jail in Carthage. They were to spend the night there and go to trial the next day. Before their trial, however, an angry mob rushed the jail and killed the Prophet and his brother, as well as wounding two other men in the room. As the site of the martyrdom, many LDS people make the trek to check it out, to hear the stories and to see the sites firsthand. It sounds trite, but there is a spirit, a solemnity, almost a reverence that permeates these places.

Continuing on with the trip, on Saturday, we had scheduled a bellydancing class for ourselves (just me and Breta- the boys stayed with kids and played Magic the Gathering for the rest of the day. The bellydancing class was a lot of fun, but it was two hours! Which, actually, passed really fast. I will say one thing- I need to practice isolating each glute more if I plan to be a bellydancer...

Sunday we just did the church thing and some stuff I can't remember and Monday we went to the park and played disc golf (or as George called it, "frolf"). I have a lot of pics for that, so I'll put up another post... now.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Xandri's First Birthday

My ikkle baby turned 1 yesterday! We kept it pretty low key, we didn't do a big party or anything... honestly, I think a party would have freaked her out. As it was, we just decided to make her first birthday special in other ways.

I picked out what I figured were her favorite foods for her meals: honeycomb cereal for breakfast, swirl coffee cake for lunch (amazing), and anything with noodles for dinner (we did spaghetti). I also made some chocolate cupcakes for her dessert.

I went shopping earlier that day with Avril for her gifts and got them out to wrap. I went to get the wrapping paper, and when I got back I saw that Avril had caught onto the idea- she had gotten all of the presents out of the shopping bags and was handing them to Xandri. So I decided to forgo the wrapping. She had also received two packages earlier in the day: one from Grandpa Jackson (my dad) and one from Grandma Zan (Derek's mom). So once we had all of her gifts open, we cracked open the packages.

Grandma Zan had sent matching outfits for the girls- which Avril noticed immediately and insisted they don right then and there as she stripped down in preparation for the switch.

So after changing their clothes, we opened Grandpa Jackson's package. He sent two books and a See 'n Say (makes animal sounds), and 4 ziploc bags stuffed full of animal crackers and teddy grahams. Xandri went straight for the bags. She seized all four in her little hands and proceeded to crawl around with them, flinging them around and protecting them from the very interested puppies.

Avril was very interested in all the other things, especially the See 'n Say.

Finally, after the day was over, it wound up really being too late for cupcakes. So this morning, I sat Xandri on the counter (a usual occurrence in our house- she's a very careful baby) and turned to make some bread. When I turned back, I found her covered in crumbs from her cupcake.

She had opened the ziploc bag on her own and took matters into her own hands. Just look at that face.

My baby's one.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Halloween: A Choose Your Own Adventure Tale

Option 1:

Halloween dawned bright and crisp. The perfect fall morning began early at our house-- but not too early.
Avril and I got up and I dressed her in her darling, hand-stitched princess costume I had completed weeks in advance. Her hair fell in perfect ringlets on her shoulders and was complimented by a gleaming tiara. Since it was chilly out, I insisted that she also wear her little fur shawl and muff- my little princess couldn't be cold at school, now could she?!

While Avril was at school, Xandri and I had an adventurous morning- we baked the morning away, making dozens of Halloween sugar cookies: witches, ghosts, skulls, goblins. Then we decorated them with delicious homemade frosting, all colored remarkably well. Of course, it wouldn't be a true holiday without the sprinkles, so while Xandri licked the frosting off her fingers and dipped her little fingers back for more, I smiled lovingly and gently wiped her clean.

We dressed up the puppies in their sweet little homemade costumes, Kitty was- you guessed it- a kitty, and The Corporal also dressed as himself in dress blues. We took them to a dog Halloween party in which they tied for first place in the costume contest. When Avril got home, we all went trunk-or-treating (Derek was able to come as well since school was canceled for Halloween), holding hands and skipping from car to car singing Halloween songs.

That evening, to the Halloween soundtrack I had spent the past month assembling, Avril helped me in the kitchen as we prepared a delectable Halloween feast, complete with spider pizza, ghoulish salad, bloody beverages, and snake bites for dessert. In between helping me, Avril would alternately help Derek as he carved out magnificent jack-o-lanterns to sit on our porch. After dinner was over, we had plenty of time to play tidy up the kitchen, clean the girls and puppies, put all of our costumes back on (Derek was an Army general and I was the spitting image of Lara Croft) and head out the door for a night full of trick-or-treating. The girls and puppies all behaved perfectly as neighbor after neighbor answered their doors with oohs and ahs. We finally arrived home exhausted, but full of candy and contentment as we tucked in our darling, tired little girls to sleep at 8:30pm, just in time for Derek and I to settle in for a romantic, but scary movie.

Option 2:

Ok, I don't even know where the morning went. Avril made it to school, dressed and with her hair in a ponytail. I still wasn't sure what to do about a costume, I had a couple ideas that hadn't exactly panned out and I was out of time. Somehow, though, the morning disappeared with none of my frantically laid plans actually coming to fruition. I wound up sticking her in a little dress that was much to small (pictured on Xandri in the beginning pictures) and some borrowed wings to be a fairy for the trunk-or-treat.

And Xandri wore Avril's ladybug costume-- yeah, Avril's costume, which she wore at 4 months of age, also fit my Xandri-- at just shy of 1 year of age.

However, I did manage to make some sugar cookies: all skulls and ghosts, since I knew how to make those without cookie cutters (don't ask me why HyVee didn't have any decent cookie cutters). They wound up being frosting-less since I didn't have any cream cheese and I refuse to make any other kind of frosting. Sadly, most of them turned out extra-crispy since I'm still getting used to how hot my oven cooks.

I also did manage to make a spider pizza and some delicious desserts called snake bites-- a layered dessert with creamy, yogurt-y layers with strawberry Jell-O layers. However, in order to have the time to do this (since I started late and didn't plan it out well), we missed trick-or-treating. For our kids at least. Everyone else in the neighborhood and everywhere else in town managed to knock on our door-- about every 20 seconds, or at least as long as it took me to get back in the kitchen to get my hands back in the dough yet again.

While I was cooking, though, Derek was, at the direction of Avril, carving emotional pumpkins-- an angry one, a happy one and a grumpy one (pictured in that order, left to right). It required pretty much all of Derek's creative juices to figure out how to differentiate angry and grumpy in a jack-o-lantern. In my opinion, it was a smashing success.

And the soundtrack that I'd planned on making? Yeah, I just downloaded 2 or 3 songs and we listened to them over and over until Derek made me turn them off.

The dog-costume contest I didn't know about until after OTHER people posted pictures of their winning pooches...

Anyway, even though we didn't go trick-or-treating (which Avril figured out was the keyword to getting candy from us), I still consider our Halloween a success. So we didn't go quite according to plan... We still had a blast and Avril and Xandri loved it.

And I picked up Avril's new costumes from Wal-Mart
after Halloween. Who can beat 75% off? Like she knew the difference, anyway. She LOVES her new costumes (she also has a witch costume, not pictured. That's reserved for next year). (Oh, and confession... all the costume pictures of the girls were not taken on Halloween. No, they were taken over Thanksgiving break...)

Oh, and the scary, romantic movie? Yeah, actually it was The Invisible, which was more like an
unintentional comedy. It wasn't that scary, it was ridiculously romantic and overall, we were laughing AT it, not with it in the end.

Also, the following pictures were taken the Friday before Halloween, when Derek and I attended something like a frat party for Halloween. All the med students (unmarried, that is) were there and it was my (naive, yes, I know) first experience at such a party. It was pretty much just like the movies. All my party education comes from the movies... how sad is that? No longer!

This picture I had to put up because in the other one I'm making a really weird face... like I'm trying to be tough but came out looking sick.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Scorpion--- the Next Generation

Avril suddenly started crying a minute ago. I asked what was wrong and she said she hurt her foot. While she was trying to do scorpion.

Xandri's First Steps

Well, well, well, my little bug is growing up. She actually stood on her own for the first time a couple of days ago and took a couple of steps yesterday (several times). I think she's had the strength and ability for a while, but she's such a cautious little girl, she doesn't want to do it until she's completely ready. (For example, I can, without fear of her falling- or even moving really, leave her sitting on my kitchen counter while I walk across the room to the garbage can and back.)

Also, she'll only do it with sufficient motivation-- e.g. in order to get to Mommy from Daddy (warms my heart, it does...) I still can't believe it. She's such a big girl! And yet, she's still so tiny!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Xandri's First Word

Ok, I've put off deciding this, because it sounds like we're just the overeager parents saying, "Oh, wow, she said her first word!" over a word that could honestly be her just making sounds. But I really do think her first word is, "Hi." It's so cute when she says it, and I'm convinced that she says it largely in response to one of us saying "hi" first. She also says "yeah", but that one I'm not sure she really knows what she's saying. And finally, if "hi" isn't her first word, then "down" is.

Why "down"? Well, she hears it an awful lot-- the puppies are constantly jumping up to her highchair (what? They know it's a no-fail way to get delicious people food.), so we're constantly admonishing them, "Down!" The other day they were jumping up and I wasn't paying close attention, but suddenly Derek realized what she was saying: "Down! Down!" each time they jumped up.

How do I feel about this? My emotions are manifold. First, excited, like any mother would be to hear her little darling achieving this milestone. Secondly, proud- that seems like a pretty impressive first word to me-- no "dada", "mama", "ba-ba" or whatever. No, she's telling those puppies what to do-- decisively! Thirdly, a little surprised-- she's my baby! That's where she's going to stay. She's not a growing girl, she's the baby and she'll always be the baby! And finally, ... well, there is no fourth feeling, I just said manifold so it seemed like there should be at least four. We'll go with scared on this one, I guess. Yeah, that fits. Scared--- back to she's my baby!