Monday, December 12, 2011


There's something about doing snowflakes that leaves me waxing nostalgic. Forgive the rambling-- I'm just going to let my memories flow.

As a kid, the best Christmas memories are the ones I had at Grandma & Grandpa Hunter's house. We'd go over and crack nuts and eat 'em like candy. Grandpa always loved peanuts and we'd eat 'em by the handful. I loved getting the little nutcracker out and going for the walnuts, or the almonds, or the Brazil nuts out of the little nut bowl. 

Grandma would always have some sweet treat made up for us, too. I always remember the peanut brittle she'd make. It'd make my teeth stick together for that second after biting down- you know, so you'd have to pry your own mouth open for the next bite. Or we'd help make snickerdoodles or chocolate chip cookies. The snickerdoodles were always my favorite. I loved rolling them into balls and licking the sugar and cinnamon off my fingers. 

 When I was really little we'd go downstairs with Grandpa or Janis and add more wood to the old furnace. They always had so much wood in that basement. I loved the smell of it. And the cellar door that led into the giant wood room. I was always scared going down those creaky old steps without backs that something was going to reach through and grab my ankles. I had to remind myself that I was too old to get scared over silly things like that. But I always felt better when that basement door was closed. 

I liked going down to the laundry room or the storage room with Janis or Grandma, too, and seeing what was down there. I was always so curious about the various knickknacks and things in jars. Right now I can't really remember what was down there. The lightbulbs were always so dim, it had such a mysterious feel to it. I felt like I was privy to some special secret when we were down there. I always hoped there would be some secret treasure chest or something to discover. 

While the adults sat and talked, we'd sit and do puzzles and play with dolls. When I got older, I'd snuggle up in the chair next the new furnace Dad installed with a pile of old issues of Reader's Digest. I'd pore over them, looking for all the funnies at the end of every article. Every once in a while, I'd laugh out loud at something and interrupt whatever conversation was going on to share it with everyone in the room. 

And snowflakes. I'm pretty sure it was Janis that taught me how to fold a paper and cut it so it would look like a snowflake. It was always so exciting to watch as the paper unfolded to find what new kind of snowflake I'd created. They were pretty disappointing at first. But Janis's snowflakes were always works of art. Those dull little kids scissors I had to use at first always hurt my hands, cutting through all that paper. They were the old metal kind, with the circle handles. I'd just stretch out my hands between cuts and keep going, though.

Ah, the magic of childhood. Winter at Grandma and Grandpa's. The warmth of the fire. The smell of good things cooking. The quietness and the security of those days. Things were so very different then. I'm so grateful to have these memories.

This year, I decided it was time. My kids don't have an Aunt Janis anywhere near (ah, the one bad thing about living in Hawai'i!) so the duty fell to me to pass on the sacred tradition. And while I do say that slightly tongue in cheek, there is definitely a part of me for which that is the solemn truth. This year I had the art of the snowflake figured out a little more- thanks to self-described "artist/dork" Kristina Ackerman and her absolutely hilarious Paper-snowflake placemat post. Trust me, you wanna read this girl's blog. And watch the overworked face-ham video she linked to describe, well, basically all my first attempts at snowflake making--- and let's be honest--- my kids' too.

I mean, see for yourself. 
(Forgive the crappy lighting. Haven't completely figured out night pictures yet.)

Monday, November 14, 2011


In Primary (LDS Sunday School for kids 3-12) today, Sis. Velasco asked for volunteers for someone very brave to come up and bear impromptu testimonies for part of Opening Exercises in place of talks. No one volunteered.... until finally Avril did. After being thanked for being so brave, she took her seat at the front. Still looking for the second someone, Sis. Velasco again asked for volunteers. This time, Xandri popped up and followed her sister's example. 

After the opening prayer and the reading of this month's scripture, Avril stood to offer her testimony.

She spoke about the the truth of the scriptures & the prophet and then talked briefly about the importance that the Holy Ghost plays in our lives and described him as "Heavenly Father's helper".

Next it was Xandri's turn. 

Without any prompting whatsoever, she began her testimony:

"I know that the Holy Ghost is real and that he's a ghost and that's ok because he's holy and he's not scary and that's good. And I know that he helps us and he's with us."

I stood in the back, (having had no idea what she would say) beaming with pride and laughing in delight of such sweet, pure testimony from the mouth of my babe. 

Then she sat down and burst into tears.

Sis. Velasco had also laughed delightedly, she adores Xandri and loves to hear anything she has to say or watch everything she does. I hadn't noticed, but apparently several of the kids laughed as well. It absolutely broke my heart that this sweet and perfect moment was potentially ruined for my little one, so I gathered her up and we had a little chat while opening exercises continued. I did my best to tell and show her how absolutely proud of her I was and to let her know that people only laughed because they were so happy and delighted with her sweet testimony, not because it was silly or they were making fun. It was so wonderful how perfectly from her heart it was, how unscripted and honest and pure. I think I had her convinced by the end, but I suppose we'll only know for sure when she bears her testimony again. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Roman Says

"Gibbidit". --old school Roman. He doesn't say this anymore but about six months ago it meant anything from "I'm giving this to you" to "Give it to me" to "Give it to ___"

"I want to carry you."

"I'm too heavy to carry you."

"...huh." (at the end of most sentences.)

"Mom, ih's soggy, huh, Mom." (any food that's been left out long enough to cool off or that he just doesn't want to eat anymore."

"Khajeep."--- what he calls Jeeps. Combination of "Khajiit" (cat person) from the video game Skyrim that we all have created characters on (his is a green Argonian- or lizard man) and "Jeep" which he got to ride in several times when "that guy" and Micaela were here.

"That guy"- Drew, Micaela's hubby.

"Woor"- how he says "your"

"Cars fighting, huh, Mom."  Roman's review of Transformers.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Stand Up Paddleboarding.

We love it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Max's Blessing Day

My littlest boy was given a name and a blessing at church today. He was so handsome and was so good and quiet through it all! The Spirit was so strong in church today, it was truly a blessed day. We were so grateful to have our dear friends Shane and Maggie join us for his blessing, thank you both so much for being our family out here. 

 I absolutely love the little tux on him, it's so perfect. 
Well, except for the collar. His little neck was so fat I couldn't button the top button-- and forget the bowtie!

My little man.

Chillin' with Dad, just waiting to get out of the monkey suit. 

What now?

Does he look more bemused or resigned? I can't decide.  

I am notorious for terrible planning for big events and awful execution. Birthdays, graduations (ahem, sorry again hon...), holidays, anything special, you name it, I blow it. It either goes one of two ways with me generally. I either space out completely and get a whole bunch of great ideas a day or two before with no time to implement any of them or else get great ideas a while in advance, but don't get cracking on 'em right away and then space out until it's too late. 

Well. Max's blessing was no exception. He was scheduled to be blessed a month ago. I had shopped around online and found a pretty darling little blessing outfit-- but didn't order it. I held off because I was worried it would be too big and I thought I could find one on island. And then I forgot and got busy for a while. And then it was two days before the blessing day and I was frantically hitting every store I could think of in the limited time I had to find a blessing outfit I liked that didn't cost an arm and a leg. Finally, in desperation I called a friend to see if she had one to lend. Fortunately she did. They dug it out of the box for me and I brought it home. 

And I was so depressed that I did it again. The whole corner painting thing. It just broke my heart thinking that this is likely the last baby of mine I will see blessed and he'll be wearing a frantically-last-minute-borrowed blessing outfit and not something that his thoughtful and loving mother picked out specially for him.  So I sat there so distressed when it hit me-- he doesn't have to be blessed tomorrow. We could feasibly wait until next month. We didn't have any family arranging schedules or travel plans to account for. 

So we did. We canceled and decided to wait a month so I could have my head together, think of the people that we'd like to be there and invite them and order the blessing outfit I loved, that suited Max and was just for him. And I'm so glad we did. He was a bit short and fat for it, but he looked adorable in it and I felt together and while it wasn't a big to-do afterwards or anything, it was wonderful not feeling frantic and rushed for this important beginning to my baby's life. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

RolyPoly Bug

The Inspiration. 

Tuck and Roll, from A Bug's Life.

I get all sortsa giddy when I look at this kid. He's almost too big to pull it off, though. I mean, look at him, he's all stretched out! I don't see any of that rolypoly-ing going on. That's ok, I'm picturing it. 


3 sheets dark blue craft foam
black & white acrylic paint mixed to form gray
fabric glue
those fancy pipe cleaners
hot glue gun
chunky newborn

A bit blurry, but some of us are incredibly wiggly these days. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I am seriously on a roll this year. I can't even tell you how many projects I've been working on and FINISHING this month. Well, I could, but let's just stick to the subject at hand.

Because two of those projects are Halloween jar luminaries and bones. Super fun, instead of pumpkins this year (yeah, slacked off on buying them and when I went back they were gone! Sad face.) we painted these jars together. 

Green- Roman, of course.

White- Avril's ghost

Black- Xandri's demon. With red eyes and eyelashes. 

Orange- well, somebody had to do a typical pumpking. I did the honors.

Purple- Derek didn't actually finish putting a face on his. 

The bones were these cool meringue cookies I made for Avril and Xandri to take to school for Halloween treats. And by "I made", I really mean I made the... batter, I guess... and Derek piped them onto the pan in bone shapes while I went to church choir practice. So THANK YOU, dear, for taking care of that for me. So it was a huge bummer the next day when they wouldn't come off the wax paper. Turns out wax paper isn't the same thing as parchment paper. Who knew? 

For trick or treating, we got all sorts of dressed up. Roman was going to go as Optimus Prime and needed a haircut. So we obviously mohawked it. Because Optimus Prime wears a mohawk. Right? 

This picture makes me think he shoulda been a rockstar. 

Nekkid, sittin' on the sink, rubbing... tired? watery? itchy? eyes. It was REALLY HARD to hold still while all that gel dried. REALLY hard. 

Meanwhile, my best spider pizza ever was happily baking in the oven. Gorgeous, isn't she? You can also call her OctaPie. Only it woulda been better if there were two of 'em. Get it? OctaPie? Get it?

Yeah, ok.

Anyway, recipe and directions to follow.

Post trick-or-treating scary faces. We went t-or-ting with our neighbors. I seriously think we were possibly one of two t-or-ting groups in our neighborhood. Seriously. In any case, we LOADED UP. I cannot believe how much candy we got this year. Eeeee.... good thing I scheduled dental appointments for everyone. Preempt it. 

Avril- pirate girl

 Xandri- batgirl (I did both of their makeup and while I actually kind of hated it because it's on little girls and they look soooo much cuter without it, it's getting me super excited to do makeovers on 'em when they really do get old enough to do makeup-- seriously fun!)

Max- Tuck or Roll from A Bug's Life (because babies always remind me of rolypoly bugs when they're new cause when they lay on their tummies they curl up just like 'em--- so cute!)

Roman- Superman (yeah, I know I said Optimus Prime earlier. OP disappeared conveniently five minutes before we needed to head out. Found 30 seconds before we walked out in last year's costume. Oh well, he's definitely gotten a lot of mileage out of OP.) 

me- newsie (Or something. I decided between feeding Max, making spider pizza, picking kids up from school and prepping them for trick-or-treating I likely wouldn't have three hours to spend on my own makeup, so threw together a quick outfit that woulda made more sense if I were carrying around a roll of newspapers instead of a rolypoly bug. Bug's cuter, though.)

Seriously, is this not the cutest thing you've ever seen? (Listen, don't even argue with me, tell me about "your adorable kids" or your cute niece or nephew. Psh. I won't hear it anyway. I'm too busy looking at mine.) I'm pretty proud of myself for solving the costume dilemma since I couldn't find any such costumes online and I rely on the internet to solve all my problems. Nope, this time I got all sorts of creative and did it for about $5. Don't worry, I'll soon be putting up a post dedicated to a bunch more pics of it. Cause I know you want em. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Heather's Zombie Bachelorette Party

My friend Heather is getting married and she asked me to be her maid of honor (Hawai'i version anyway). I was so flattered that she asked me and so excited for her, but also a little intimidated since all of my knowledge of maid of honor duties actually comes from the movies. When you're LDS and get married in the temple, you have little use for such, um, "positions", although many people still have those "positions" I guess at their receptions/celebrations afterward. 

So. One thing I did know was bachelorette party. Also gleaned from movies. So since I didn't think Heather would actually want/enjoy that kind of bachelorette party, I went out on a limb and went a little more creative. 

Like zombie creative. She & her fiance have a thing for zombies and she & I love dressing up and Halloween was shortly before her wedding... well, it just made the most sense of course.

So we dressed up. Went for more sexy zombie than gross zombie, though.

Zombies also need snacks while they're dressing to go out on the town, so everyone brought potluck body parts. I brought the brain and the eyeballs.

We also had mice, fingers and other eyeballs.

I'm the type of zombie who's not necessarily wanting to share germs with the other zombies, so rather than diving in face first I hacked that brain with a knife. 

The appetizers weren't quite enough though. We were all still a bit hungry.

The Bride and her Bridesmaids.

After dressing all up we obviously had to go out and be seen. Unfortunately the costume party I'd been aiming for was earlier than we could make it. So we wandered lamely around Waikiki looking for something to do. We landed at some club with a costume party and a couple of us (Heather & me. And later Diane) got up and danced for a while. It was pretty fun. We agreed that we'd have to go out dancing again another time. 

In retrospect I wish I'd planned something else fun for the after dress-up party. Like a photo scavenger hunt or something. That would have been fun and cool and could have started and ended whenever. Ah well. Next time, eh? The dressing up was the best part of the night, though, and super fun.

Congrats Heather! I love you, babe!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I don't know why it took us so long to figure out that when wet and slathered with gel, Roman's hair not only becomes manageable, but absolutely adorable. I mean, seriously. Look at this kid.

Fortunately, he has a smart dad who understands the miraculous properties of hair gel. I seriously can't get enough of this! 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Babies Sleep. A Lot.

Roman's happy to have a brother. 

We tried out the Bumbo. It's hard work sitting upright, holding that giant head up!

Tummy time on the Boppy... again with the giant head.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bath Time!

We've gone from bathing this squalling red creature in the sink for the first time:

to bathing this cherubic little angel in the sink for the last time:

Hi guys, what's up?

He was so cute smiling up at his daddy, I hurried to snap a pic. Guess he liked getting all his chins cleaned out. He didn't even squeak once during his bath. Seems he's gotten the hang of it. 

So-- onto bigger and better things then! Like the tub.

Dia de los Muertos

So my friend Natalie asked my advice on doing a sugar skull face for Dia de los Muertos/Halloween. 

Good friend that I am, I did some extensive research on YouTube and experimented myself with some cheap Halloween makeup and then reported my findings. 

It took me about 3 hours. 
We were an hour late for the ward trunk or treat.
I discovered a new found love for makeup.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gifts From the Heart

With a big characteristically cheesy smile, Xandri handed me a bulky white envelope. 

Inside the envelope was a red envelope with Chinese  (I think?) writing and designs. 

Inside the red envelope was a used white eraser, a Santa Claus eraser and an unruffled Fauna fairy sticker with the stickiness all used up. 

Thank you, Xandri-- you give wonderful gifts!

Report Card: F for Fabulous

Dear Mom,

I want you to know that you have earned a grade of fabulous. And I again fully love you. You a very very fabulous mom.

Yours in thunder,

opposite page: You're truly beautiful and NICE!

Oh, I love you, too, Avril. You are a fabulous daughter-- and I ALWAYS fully love you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

To Every Thing There Is A Season

Ecclesiastes 3 
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;... a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;.... a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;... a time to keep silence, and a time to speak...

 Lately this scripture keeps running through my mind (although admittedly with a little more of The Byrds flair to it... turn! turn! turn!). I think it's my subconscious reminding me to chill out. There are so many things I want to do, to learn, to try-- and for many (ok, most) there is just not enough time.

 My day starts feeding Max, getting the kids up and ready for school, cleaning the house, feeding Max, doing the dishes, maybe getting a project OR a workout OR an extra chore done before feeding Max and doing lunch, cleaning up after, spending time with Roman, picking the girls up from school, feeding Max, helping with homework, tidying the house before Derek gets home, feeding Max, making dinner, doing bathtime OR working out, bedtime routine, cleaning up after dinner, feeding Max, relaxing with Derek, going to bed and starting it all again the next day. In between that, it's kissing booboos, cleaning up spilt milkcerealapplesauceketchupjuice, changing diapers, refereeing, etc.

As a mom with four young kids, everything just takes longer. There was a point that that chafed a bit. It seemed like I had multiple friends (who also have kids) who were doing cool craftfoodbookphotography blogs or starting etsy shops or businesses or whatever. It felt like everyone else was somehow able to do it all but me. Over time I've realized how silly it is to compare myself and the way I spend my time with others. Sometimes I didn't take into account that some had fewer kids- or older kids- or a husband with more time available to be picking up slack- or local family that could watch the kids. Furthermore, I think there's a lot you don't see in other peoples' lives. Stuff that you wouldn't know about unless you were a fly on the wall. How messy their house is- daily, when no guests are expected. How often dinner is take-out.

The fact is, just like money, we all have a finite amount of time. And we all have different priorities and different ways to manage it. We usually choose what we want most to afford and let go of those things that we care less about. So for those of you who really are in my situation with your kids and still manage to do it all... please let me go on in blissful ignorance and enjoy the rationalizations I've come up with for why I'm not doing everything you are. Because I've come to the conclusion that this season of my life is for raising my kids. Not learning three languages, starting a business, training to be an instructor, or any of the million other things that I get excited about. Everything else will just have to wait for a while... or at least progress at a much slower pace. It's only a few short years before they're all in school and my day opens up... and a few short years after that that they are moving out and on with their lives. The front of ten, twenty years looks a lot longer, a lot bigger, than the back.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Thoughtful Avril

We got home from school on a particularly hot day last week to find our handyman hard at work touching up the chipped paint on the carport. Avril was immediately fascinated and hung out watching him on the shaded side of the house, asking him questions and just generally observing the work. 

I went on inside and helped Xandri get started on her homework and started puttering around tidying or doing whatever thing needed doing when Avril came back inside. I glanced out and saw that the handyman had moved around to the non-shaded side of the house. A moment later Avril slipped back outside, new umbrella in hand. I watched as she opened it up and wandered around the rock garden for a minute. She seemed to be trying to move around to stand on the wall near him, but I wasn't certain. She wasn't satisfied with her position and soon came back out of the rock garden. I had my suspicions about what she had up her sweet little sleeve, but I waited and watched it play out. 

Sure enough, she moved down and stood right next to him:

As he moved, so did she to accommodate his work and tried her hardest to give him the most shade possible. She stood there with him the entire time he worked and helped him by showing him around as well. Before he left, he thanked me for my daughter's help.

You know, as far as working as a stay-at-home-mom goes, I might not make much. (Anything.) But the benefits are worth far more than any salary I could be earning elsewhere. 

And the paydays are far sweeter.

I am so grateful to have this thoughtful, sweet little girl in my life, innocently teaching me what service really is. I love you, Avril.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Daddy's Cars

For those who aren't aware, Derek collects things. One of the things he collects is cars. Hot Wheels to be exact. Has for years. We once counted them when we first got married. Probably 2003 I think. He had over 3000 at that time. Any guesses on how many he has today? That's a good story problem. Eight years of collecting an average of 7 cars each time he goes to a store that sells Hot Wheels. Let's estimate that to be 3 times per month. 

21 cars per month.... 252 per year.... an additional 2016 cars since then? I think that might be a little low, actually. 

Anyway, point of this is, Derek likes his Hot Wheels. And what better legacy could a father give his son than a love of miniature die-cast cars? I can't think of a single one. So since Roman is two, turning three in a couple months- almost a man grown, really- Derek's natural thought was that he would be impressed with his car collection. 

He was right. Roman was so impressed that he can't keep his little boy hands off of Daddy's cars now. All day long after Daddy showed him his cars I would go into his room when it got quiet and find this:

At which point I would ask him in my most serious stern mommy voice where he got that car.

And he would very honestly explain that it was "Daddy's car, huh." And he just was going to "open it and see it."

At least 5 such cars suffered this fate that day.

I finally wised up and put his box of cars in the top of the closet. 

Not to worry, though, Roman found both Derek's other stashes that I hadn't noticed over the next couple of days and just "opened it to see. It's Daddy's car, huh."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Roman thinks everything runs on batteries. Like, anything that doesn't work when he's trying to use it is "out of batteries". As demonstrated by this conversation we had in the car this morning.

Me: Roman, get your seat belt on!

Roman: Mom, it's out of batteries!

What I love about this kid is what you can't hear in type... the overly-loud voice he uses to declare whatever he's declaring; the half-explanatory, half-pleading tone in his statements; and the drawn out pronunciation of batt-er-weez.

In addition to batteries making anything and everything work, he also thinks that any food that has been out too long is "soggy". Obviously, this started with cereal. However, it has extended to cold, dry toast, oatmeal, pasta, eggs, or any other food that has been out long enough that he either doesn't want to eat it or he's skeptical about. I suppose this is a good thing in it's own way. And the pronunciation here, too, I love.

"Mom, it's soooggyyyyy..." with the barely hit "t" in "it's" and the drawn out final word...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

We're Not Poor

Driving home from the beach Friday....

Avril: Daddy, can we go to a restaurant for dinner?

Derek: No, not tonight, Avril.

Avril: Why not?

Derek: ...because we're poor.

Avril: We're not poor!

Derek: How do you know?

Avril: Because we have more than 400 money!
.... And we have lots of clothes.
.... And we live by Tripler!

I laughed and she said, "What?" and I said, "Well, you're right Avril. All of those things are true." In awe and a little bit of disbelief she said, "We really have more than 400 money? I mean, dollars?"

Not to publicly discuss the details of our financial situation, but yes, we do.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

70s (& 80s) Party Zumbathon!

I heart Zumba!

First, brief back story: I heard about Zumba a few years ago and SO wanted to find a class and start it up. But I couldn't find any classes locally. So I mentally shelved it and continued with yoga and kickboxing and whatevs for my workouts. Finally, I discovered a Zumba class in Logan about 6 months before we moved, went and loved it. Became a regular there and even started coordinating fun outfits for classes. Well, ok mostly just cool knee socks. 

Flash forward about 8 months later and you find me searching for some way to get my work out on. Closest gym has me driving 20-30 minutes each direction, worse if there's traffic, and through the nose for child care. Or I could try places with more limited facilities and classes and no child care. Nothing that really worked for a SAHM of three with a husband in residency that I wanted to actually see when he was finally around. 

Enter Zumba. I found a local teacher who taught her own classes in the school gym not far from here. Not only was she the cheapest around, she was moving her class to the school gym down the hill from my house! And on top of that, she had the funnest, craziest energy that brought out the same in me.

So when I got pregnant, I kept up my soccer and Zumba for a while. Then I started getting nervous about soccer and it got more difficult to run. And I kept thinking how horrible it would be if I belly-blocked the ball. So Zumba was my mainstay. Well, that and TurboFire, which I LOVE (thank you, Camas for introducing us). 
But after a certain point (say, 7 months?), TurboFire had to take a breather, too. 

So Zumba. And weights. I credit Zumba for:

-keeping the edema in my legs at bay
-holding off heartburn
-taking the jittery out of my restless legs
-keeping my abs strong which helped suck em back in after Max was born

Seriously, aside from the weight I need to lose, my stomach is nearly as flat as it was before I got pregnant-- and it's been that way for about two and a half weeks. The kid's only five weeks old!

Not to mention even though I was a little nervous about it, I was able to Zumba only a week after Max was born, and then go to the 80s party that Thursday!

And last Thursday we went to the 70s Party! Got the dress & shoes at Savers and assembled the rest at home- love it! Although I'm not sure I'm not channeling 20s a bit here, too...

Hawai'i bff and fellow Zumba addict, Heather. We're thinking quite seriously about getting certified and teaching Zumba together!