November 27, 2011

Dear Santa...

We are Grateful

I'm glad there is a holiday that turns our minds to reflect upon what we are thankful for.  More often than not, I am reminded of the things that matter most--my family. 

(Eating delicious foods in great abundance ain't that bad, either!) 

Happy Thanksgiving 2011

This post authored by Amber

November 21, 2011

Ten Months May Sound Like A Long Time, But It's Really Just Equivalent to a Blink of an Eye

I know it seems like it was only yesterday when I last posted about Ella's development ('cause it kinda was), but to me it seems like just yesterday I was feeling like nine months of pregnancy was an eternity.  So how did ten months fly by in super sonic speed when the nine months prior to that lagged?  I guess there's the old adage that "time flies while you're having fun" and that really makes sense when I consider how fun it is to have Ella around.

Ella at Ten Months

Ella claps her hands when anyone says the word "yea."  Her babbling noises are starting to sound more like actual words.  She can climb up our flight of thirteen stairs, but she cries once she reaches the middle and realizes she's committed to finishing the task.  She is never stationary, so life is exciting (and sometimes exhausting) as we try to keep up with her constant travels.  Her balance is improving, so I think we'll see some walking soon.  She does not appear to like dogs and will blink her eyes furiously as they approach her, just before she breaks out in tears.  When she throws a fit it includes throwing her body backward and laying flat on her back as she screams, but try to lay her on her back to change her, and she wants nothing to do with it!  She dances to music and sings by making sustained squealing sounds.  Her hair is getting a little long for the mohawk curl, but as it grows longer it is developing some natural curls behind the ears and along her nape.  Ella loves to be in the bathtub and she'll try to swallow water and spit it out like Garrett. She makes the funniest faces (the kissy face and pursed lips face are my favorite) and is entertaining to watch.  And, well, I can't help but say it (because I'm her mother), but I think she is quite lovely!

Ella's not one to sit for long. This girl is rearing to go!

This post authored by Amber


Each year, The boys' elementary school has grade-level performances in conjunction with the holidays. The First graders have the opportunity to learn songs and poems about Thanksgiving.  The night of the performance was also the same night as Spencer's last basketball game, so we were in a rush to get him from one event to the next, hoping we could get a decent seat for the school program.  Following the performance, Spencer chose to eat at Two Jack's Pizza in celebration of both his basketball season and his Thanksgiving program.

We were lucky that Grandma and Grandpa Park were also able to attend.  I completely forgot to inform them of the event until the last possible moment.  We sat together with them and watched as the first graders did their presentation.  Spencer does a great turkey wiggle.  You should ask him to do it for you sometime.  Of course, it is also wonderful to watch him sing.  He does that really well, too.

The next series of pictures make me laugh.  How is that some children look as though they are about to fall asleep while others appear to have consumed an entire can of Red Bull before the performance?  And there is Spencer smack-dab in the middle of the mayhem making faces.

This post authored by Amber

Teach Me How to Spencer

The Springville recreation department decided this year to organize a Jr. Jazz league to introduce first and second graders to the game of basketball.  In the past, participation was offered only beginning in third grade, but it became apparent that the youth really struggled with dribbling the ball.  The most common calls made against players were for traveling and double dribbling. The organizers hoped to remedy this through establishing an early instructional league.

Spencer was totally on board.  He claims basketball as his sport of choice.  Jason was also on board as an assistant coach.  All the children on Spencer's team were from his own elementary school.

For a little over a month, teams met for an hour on two nights during the week.  The first thirty minutes were exclusively for skills practice and drills (each team using their own half of the court), and the final half hour the teams played each other in a game with the coaches acting as referees.  It was great exposure for the participants, and yes!  There was an obscene amount of  mishandling of the ball.

Even with all of the sloppy play, Spencer emerged as a stellar player, and I'm not just saying that as an overly proud mother.  The kid is legitimately good, and I have the video and photos to prove it!

Never mind that he's stepping out of bounds (the refs didn't call it either). 
I just think this is a great shot that illustrates Spencer's natural ball-handling
 skills. I also love looking at what the other kids are doing in the picture.

This shows Spencer's shooting form. No surprise here. This one went in.

During his last game, Spencer had to take a needed water break.  The kid was
totally "on fire"  that game, and he had scored five baskets before anyone else
put the ball through the hoop.  What a way to end the season!

"Put me in, coach!"

He shoots...                                    ...He scores!

This post authored by Amber


What more could I possibly have added to an already jam-packed, busy month?  How about having a student spotlight poster due for each child in grade school?  Yea!

Actually, once I designed one poster, constructing the other was pretty cinchy.  I just followed the same format and switched out all the pictures.  I go all-out on these things because I've learned from past experience.  The boys like to hang the posters in their rooms, so I have to be okay with looking at them on the wall every single day for at least a year.  Besides, it's more fun making posters that highlight your child's best qualities for display in the classroom and bedroom than it is to do the dishes or laundry.

This post authored by Amber

Halloween Dining 2011

Holidays are all about the food, right?  Well, at least that's how I roll.  Halloween is no exception.  This year we tried a couple of new, simple things that were worthy of a photograph or two.  Of course, candelabras and headstones provided just the right ambiance for our festive meals.

Breakfast was initially going to be cold cereal, but I decided to drag myself out of bed to at least throw some pancakes on the griddle.  A little touch of food coloring and you would have thought I had planned a cool breakfast all along.  At least my kids thought that was the case.  Boy, I had them fooled!

I found a dinner alternative to rotate with the traditional dinner in a pumpkin until my boys develop a more fond taste for cooked, gourd-like squash.  It's called a Yummy Mummy and I thought Spencer might appreciate it this year.  I found the idea and recipe on this blog.  The name is an accurate description.  It was yummy...and simple.  Just what I needed for a busy day like Halloween.

Boo app├ętit!

This post authored by Amber

A Costume Assortment

Halloween was simplified this year as everyone went their separate ways with costume design concepts.  There was no elaborate group theme, and this new approach allowed artistic liberty for all, including myself.

Ella got to be CinderELLA,

Garrett got to be Indiana Jones (a "recycled" costume--bonus!),

Spencer got to be a mummy,

Brevin got to be Harry Potter (he's a bit obsessed right now),

Jason got to be a Utah Ute fan ('cause who doesn't fantasize about being that! Sorry.  No individual photo. I know you are all disappointed that you don't get a glimpse of the mullet wig in a larger view.),

and I got to be Elphaba from the musical Wicked  (I'm a bit obsessed right now.  Did I mention I have tickets for SLC in 2012 already?)

Brevin and Spencer were excited to wear their costumes to school.  Meanwhile, Garrett, Ella, and I went into Jason's work to trick-or-treat.  There were still NuSkin distributors from all over the world touring the building in conjunction with the convention that was held the week before.  Apparently, Asians are obsessed with large-eyed, beautiful babies and middle-aged German men are obsessed with Elphaba, as they all wanted to pose for pictures with us.  It was pretty funny.

Do you know what else is funny?  Imagining doors being opened to hand out candy to this group:

This post authored by Amber

November 20, 2011

Train Up a Child

You may know that Jason is an artistic master when using a carving knife and a canvas of pumpkin flesh. Here are some past examples of what I am referring to. (I must be really good at cleaning out the pumpkin guts, because that job has fallen exclusively to me for the past few years.)

This year, we decided that it was the boys' turn to select their pattern of fancy, wield their own carving tools, and create their own masterpieces.  I must say, Jason and I were pleasantly surprised at how well each of them did.  Pretty soon, they'll be taking over Jason's job.  (Now, if only I could be as affective at training them to take over mine!)

Brevin's Work
Of course, there were a few pointers from Dad.

Although not entirely shown in this photo, Brevin's
 tongue was working as furiously as he was.

The final result was quite impressive, I have to say.

Spencer's Work
He looks thrilled to be doing this on his own.

I loved Spencer's reaction when he cut through his
first big section.  He seemed so surprised that his efforts
caused a large chunk of pumpkin to fall out.

Not too shabby, Spencer!

Garrett's Work
No pattern necessary for this free-hand artist.

Like Brevin, Garret's tongue was in constant motion
as he mutilated--uh, I mean--carved his pumpkin.

Hmm...was it such a good idea to put a knife into
the hands of a three year-old who looks as crazed as this?

Ella's Work
Not to be left out, Ella used her teeth to
make her marks on this little pumpkin.

This post authored by Amber