Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Morning

I guess it technically was morning when we first heard our children making their way down the hall, but for all intents and purposes, it was the middle of the night--3:30 AM. Lyle did his very best Papa Bear impersonation and bellowed "What in the world are you doing?" None of them made it downstairs (as far as we know) and they all moped back to their bedrooms.

We heard them stirring again at the more reasonable time of 7:30. They all ran downstairs and then were back upstairs five minutes later to jump onto our bed and tell us what Santa brought. Rose said she got every single thing she wanted--a rarity in life. Cholita was thrilled with her trunk of dress up clothes, Lucy oohed and ahhed over her new camera, and Bruder gushed (as much as a fifteen-year-old boy is capable of gushing) over his new digital recording equipment.

Lyle made our traditional Christmas breakfast--scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon, hot grapefruit with brown sugar and a marichino cherry, and cinnamon rolls.

Cholita had already changed into one of her lovely gowns because she feels it's important to dress for breakfast.

Old Fatty came for a Christmas visit and we gave him a present--a rawhide bone. He took it and sprinted off down the driveway as fast as his old fat legs could carry him. Not even so much as a thank you. We still have no idea where he lives.

After breakfast we moved onto the presents. Rose has been itching for me to open her present ever since she placed it under the Christmas tree. Inside the box was a necklace that Lyle told me she bought at a garage sale during the summer and has kept hidden in various locations ever since. I'm so impressed with her patience.....and her sweetness.

Bruder always makes his presents. Two years ago it was a guitar for his sisters, last year it was a rubber band machine gun, and this year it was a go cart made from our neighbor's discarded trailer.
He added the seat, the front wheels, the shocks, and the steering mechanism.

He said he ran out of time to build brakes, which made me slightly nervous as he pushed his sisters down hills of varying steepness.

But they loved it. Absolutely loved it.

Rose came in flushed with the cold and excitement. "Bruder's present is awesome!"

They wore helmets on the big hills.
At least that's what they told me.

It was a great Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Silent Night, Holy Night... Mostly

I'm starting with this picture because it's sweet and it
captures the spirit of Christmas Eve.
It was the silent and holy part of our night.

Our other traditions are not quite so silent.
We began our evening with our knock-and-run Secret Santa project
and then moved onto the traditional Christmas Eve big sandwich.

Bruder now rivals his father in the making of a sandwich
almost too large to fit in a human mouth.

After dinner we donned our nativity costumes.
Bruder decreed that all the world should be taxed.

Cholita, our shepherd, looked sore afraid as our angel, Rose,
proclaimed good tidings of great joy.

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."

It was the most important, most holy part of our Christmas Eve celebration.

And then came the jammies. Everyone needs a sleep tutu.
At least Cholita thinks so.

And then onto another tradition--the Christmas Eve jammie pyramid.
Hey, you have your traditions, we have ours.
The first three looked pretty stable.
And then it was time to add the littlest.

It went well....briefly.

And then it all....



But there were no serious injuries and everyone snuggled up to watch
"It's a Wonderful Life" and we agreed that it is a wonderful life.

It was a perfect silent night....even if it wasn't perfectly silent.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Passport Pictures--Then and Now

I could have also titled this post, Where did my baby go?

Cholita needs a U.S. passport, that was made abundantly clear to us at the Canadian border, but I'll admit that I've been reluctant to get it done, reluctant to file away the last tangible reminder of Cholita's life as Jin Qiu Ju.

The picture for her Chinese passport was taken before we met her, probably when she was moved from the foster home where she'd lived for a few weeks and put back in the orphanage. It breaks my heart. And those eyes. It's the shell-shocked look she sometimes got during our first few weeks together, when she felt overwhelmed and would simply shut down. Enough of the English. Enough of the Caucasian faces. Enough of the changes.

We were in the food court at the mall yesterday and she pointed to a man behind a counter. He was cooking at a wok, speaking Mandarin to his co-worker.
"I think he's Chinese," she said.
"I think you're right," I told her.
"I used to be Chinese," she said.
"You'll always be Chinese."
"Hmmm," she smiled and crinkled her nose. "Kind of."

So it's time for her U.S. passport. She'll always kind of be Chinese. Always kind of be Jin Qiu Ju. But that baby with the scared eyes is not the sassy little girl who sauntered up to the white screen at the Costco photo center. She's her own unique blend--a little China, a lot United States. A little Qiu Ju, a whole lot Cholita.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Manna from Heaven

On Sunday we arrived at church a full fifteen minutes before sacrament meeting and in our sparsely populated parking lot, I counted three silver Honda Odysseys. More specifically, three silver Honda Odysseys just in our row. I don't have an exact number, but I believe our minivan has six identical twins (septuplets?) attending our ward on a regular basis.

Since Bruder helps with the sacrament, he often brings bread. Turns out, this Sunday wasn't Bruder's turn, so he told me he took the bread back to our car. (You know where this is heading).

So, after our meetings were finished, and we were walking out to the parking lot, he said that since our car was locked, he had to leave the bread on the hood. My mind was busy with two troubling thoughts. Number one: My teenager could think of no other option and had to leave a loaf of bread on the hood of our car, and Number two: I didn't lock it.

Before I could formulate words, Bruder stopped in front of an empty parking space.

"Hey," he said, "Where did our car go? It was right here."
"No," I said, pointing. "Our car is over there."

So I hope someone in our ward is enjoying our Oroweat. I hope they appreciate the pleasant hint of molasses. I sincerely hope they aren't (gasp) white bread people. And if they are, maybe 100% whole wheat food falling from the sky and landing on their vehicle on a Sabbath morning will cause them to change their ways.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Cobbler's Child

Two years!
Two years since this little hiney has graced a dental chair.

And two years since her lovely face has been in a panorex.

Her parents (especially the one with the DDS following his name)
should know this is not the recommended schedule.
It's shameful; it just is.
But at least Rose and I like our dentist.

We like him so much we even tell him he looks cool in his glasses.

And this one....
Well, we like her too.
We like her despite her cross bite.
We like her despite her missing permanent lower left second bicuspid.
And we like her despite her tendency to put shoes on the wrong feet.
At least she has shoes,
which is more than you can say for the cobbler's kid.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Yet Another Post on Fashion

I was walking by the couch a few minutes ago and saw this: Cholita sound asleep, her top half completely covered in her blankie, her bottom half reminiscent of the Wicked Witch of the East with her feet sticking out from under Dorothy's house.
The dress, the tights, the knee high socks, the's all working for her.
Even when she sleeps, she makes me smile.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A question from Cholita

"Mom, do you think the cape is too much?"
Because she's all about subtlety and quiet elegance ....
And would hate to commit a fashion faux pas....
....or possibly go overboard.

"No, Cholita, I think the cape makes the outfit."

Oh, and she's very proud of the pig tails which she did herself, a skill I find rather advanced for a four year-old fashionista.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Book Review--MY book

My blog book has arrived! I used Blog2print and literally was done with the process in under five minutes. The beauty of Blog2print is that all you need to do is put in a date range that you'd like to have made into a book and it's done. The downside of that is that you can't make any changes. What you see is what you get. The only creative freedom you have is choosing the photos for the front and back and the color or print you'd like for the cover.

So, in case anyone is interested, I'll share with you what I feel are the pros and cons.
*good looking
*seems sturdy and well made
*The layout is set and cannot be changed. This, for me, is a biggie. For most posts, it's not an issue, but when my blog had a caption under a specific photo and Blog2print didn't keep it that way, it made the post confusing. The text might say something like, "...Looking a little concerned..." which on its own doesn't make sense, but it did make sense on my blog when it was under a photo of Bruder getting ready to parasail. In a post with lots of photos, Blog2print may have put all the photos on one page and the writing on another and without the picture right along with the caption, it's a little strange.

*I would have liked to make some photos bigger, but again, no freedom to do that.

*The colors in the photos seemed a bit off and muted.


Overall, I did quite like the blog book, but for the price I didn't love it. Another option offered by Blog2print is for $7.95 you can get a PDF of your book. I would assume that then I could make some of the minor changes I'd like to make and then have it printed somewhere else. I don't know if that would wind up saving me money or costing me more.

So, unfortunately, the quest continues. The perfect solution is out there; I know it!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Christmas Card Rejects

It was a beautiful Veteran's Day in the Northwest. The kids had the day off and I had a new camera lens--a perfect day for shooting Christmas card pictures.
Now if I only had perfect children.
Bruder seems to be pondering that thought.

What should the caption be for this picture? I'm thinking maybe,
"Wishing you peace and love at the Holiday season..."

Cholita fell down numerous times as a result of well-meaning siblings who were constantly trying to reposition her.

Click on this picture to see it large.
I don't know what's going on here but it definitely wasn't in the script.

And as if four children isn't enough, I thought I'd add the dogs.
Cholita was in charge of Charlie.
That didn't work.
Maybe next year we'll go back to the professionals.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Merry Christmas to Me

Normally I have no problem waiting until December 25th to open my Christmas presents....well, not a huge problem. But this year, I had a very legitimate reason for treating myself a few weeks early. I needed a new lens to take Christmas card pictures! If I took pictures myself this year, my present would actually be saving us money, right?

And really I'm fine with nothing for me under the Christmas tree...although Lyle says that's not true. Anyway, with gleeful anticipation I tracked my lens on-line in its journey from New Jersey to my doorstep. The UPS man rang the doorbell just as I was making Cholita her lunch. She was in a great mood and always appreciates an excuse to delay her nap, so she would make a perfect model. I clicked the new lens onto my camera, flipped the "on" button........and nothing. Uggh. Needed to recharge the battery. While that was happening, Cholita went to sleep and I had only Olaf as a model. He wasn't thrilled but at least he doesn't move much.

My new lens is a Nikkor 50 mm f/1.8D and since I need to use manual focus on my camera, subjects that actually do move are a little tricky. This first picture of Cholita right after she woke up is blurry, but I do so love the sleepy-eyed look.

This one's a little better.
She moved from the couch to the table for some chocolate chip banana bread. Man, she's cute.

Next the junior high schooler arrived home. She was annoyed with my picture taking, but humored me.
Rose doesn't stand still for long, as evidenced by this out of focus shot. Obviously I need some practice.
But every once in a while I get one that I love. Cholita has the brightest eyes, but that usually doesn't come through in pictures. I think I'm gonna like my new lens.

O.K., if Lucy and Rose were annoyed with me, I shouldn't have even made an attempt with the resident teenage boy. Here he's doing homework, or maybe indulging in his new favorite love on our Mac--Garage Band.
Just one more. I love how this lens blurs the background a bit. So now you hardly even notice that Cholita is sitting on laundry, right? That's what a I need, a lens that hides all background imperfections. Maybe next Christmas.