Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It's a Guy Thing

Our boy at the Museum of Flight

     XiXi loves planes.  He loves trains.  He loves cars and trucks and emergency vehicles.   To him, a construction site is a thing of beauty and boats are completely fascinating.  Our local librarian knows XiXi and when he walks through the doors of the library, she goes to look for the reading material he's hankering for----guy stuff.  He always stumbles out to our car with a pile of books so high it nearly obscures his vision.

     Lyle came downstairs a few weeks ago looking positively giddy and asked, "Guess what we read tonight for bedtime story?"  I had no idea.  "We read, 'I am a Backhoe'!"  He was beaming.  This is a man who's read princess stories for many, many years.  We've got a boy again! And we're loving it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Actions......I may never be productive again

With a name like "actions", you'd think it would involve more movement.  Just with a few flicks of the mouse, I could waste an alarming number of hours.  I must restrain myself.

Pioneer Woman actions are now available for PS Elements users and with assistance from my dad getting them installed, I'm now off to the races.

Here is a photo taken yesterday of Cholita, ticked off about something or other, striking a pose in front of the trumpet vine.  I liked the flowers, the outfit she'd put together, and her facial expression.

But with actions, you always have to wonder if there's something better out there.  

Perhaps "soft faded"?

Or maybe Pioneer Woman Black and White?

Heartland has some vintage appeal.

And "colorized" is pretty funky.

But in the end, I think I still like the original best.
And the laundry has not magically done itself.
Dang it.  
I need actions for housework.

But on complete photography fails, like this picture taken last January of Olaf in the early-morning mist,

Well, I think an action improved him, don't you?

He intimidates people when he comes out of the fog like that, all 100+ pounds of canine.
Then they quickly realize he's a cream puff of a dog, 
just masquerading as a Hound of the Baskervilles.

O.K., NOW I will go do laundry.
Actions are not good for me.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sunday Sermon Courtesy of XiXi

This past Sunday XiXi was assigned his first church talk.  The topic was "My body is a temple" and since metaphor seems like more of an advanced language skill,  we just went with, "Heavenly Father has a body.  I have a body.  I can take care of my body."

This early run-through was certainly not his best delivery, but I love how he chastises his oldest sister for not holding his picture up for everyone to see.  The kid's got chutzpah, oh yes he does.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mortimer Sackler

Happy to report that the flower is prettier than the name!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Reunion Wrap-up

XiXi didn't know what he was getting into when he plopped his handprint onto that paper in China!  Yes, he gained parents, three sisters, and one brother, but little did he know that the package also included 36 first cousins, scores of aunts and uncles, and let's not even get into second cousins, cousins once removed, etc. etc.  With that many people, those XiXi cheeks are bound to get pinched a time or two!

Lyle's family had their reunion in Idaho a couple of weeks ago we have to hand it to the reunion coordinators, Lyle's youngest sisters, for some expert planning and preparation.  From the opening night fiesta to the boating days and humanitarian service project, it was a perfect mix of fun activities.

This cousin photo features all of the grandchildren on Lyle's side...except for Bruder......who was inside checking his Facebook.  You'd think the photographer (his mother) would have noticed.

My kids also got to see 3 cousins from my side, in addition to my sister and my mom.

XiXi had his first experience on a tire swing, something we certainly could have done at home, 
but it was more fun with cousins.

The pinata was a big hit.  No pun intended.

Also a hit was the giant slip and slide park....

.....where XiXi expressed undying devotion to a  certain cousin,

who was a little less enthusiastic,

but XiXi still adored her from afar....

....and worked on buttering up her mom.

For Cholita, as much as she loved the cousins, she found her soulmate in this long-suffering kitty cat.

Lyle showed that he still has water skiing skills.

And from the devilish smile on his face....

...still enjoys pestering his relatives...

....with a small dousing.

They were far too dry for water day anyway.

In her water skiing attempts, Rose wasn't quite so successful, 
and got a mouthful of the Snake River as a reunion souvenir.

Bruder represented us well in the Fun Run.  
You'll notice that our numbers had dwindled significantly, but what we lacked in size, 
we made up for in talent.  It was a smokin' fast 2 miles.

It was a wonderful end to the reunion to have all of Lyle's seven siblings and his mother with us in the Twin Falls Temple for XiXi's sealing.   We're sure Lyle's father was there in spirit.

The bar has been set high for the next reunion in 2013,
planned by (gulp) US!

We've started planning already.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Garden in August

I try to take photos of our garden every summer, but with XiXi's adoption, the family reunion, and just  life with 5 children, the garden has been a bit neglected.  Thankfully, unlike the rest of the country, we've had a very mild summer here in the Pacific Northwest, with temperatures rarely hitting 80 degrees, so the garden could handle a little neglect this year better than most.  One area of our yard that's filled in nicely is right in front of the hot tub arbor.  The hydrangea looks so pretty with the backdrop of clematis and akebia vine.

On the other side of the courtyard, the Altissimo rose mixes well with the Prince Charles clematis.  There is also a Princess Diana clematis, but history shows that they don't mix quite as nicely.

The Autumn Sunset has put out big time this year, and has continued strong throughout the summer.  As you can see in the background, we let the lawn go dormant each year, which is a nice way to say that we're too lazy to drag out the sprinklers and water it every morning.  And really, it's very generous to call it lawn even on its best day.  To be honest, it's more accurately a mix of dandelions, various weeds, and spindly wisps of grass.  We do some things very well in the Pacific Northwest, but a lawn is definitely not one of them.   With our land on a shared well, it doesn't seem right to use all the water that would be required to keep it green anyway.   So, in being brown, we're really being "green", right?  That's what I'll think.

As a surprise, when we came back from China, Lyle had made this beautiful trellis behind the porch swing.  It makes it feel more like its own little room, an effect that will be even greater once the vines mature.  I planted the clematis Montana Rubens before the trellis was even made, which I guess was a non-too-subtle hint that I wanted Lyle to get a move on it.  Since then, I've also planted a Mortimer Sackler rose, which is about to bloom for the first time.  I hope the flowers are more lovely than the name.

The wisteria is starting to make its move as well.  I read that sometimes it takes up to seven years to bloom.  Patience is not my best quality.  Underneath the wisteria, I did a "lasagna" garden.  It has nothing to do with food, just a layering method.  That area was weedy and treacherous to mow and doing no favors to the overall look, so it had to go.   I first laid down heavy cardboard donated from Costco, then some old hay, coffee grounds donated from several area Starbucks, compost, manure, topsoil, sawdust, and mulch.   In just a couple of weeks it's shrunk down several inches.  The idea is that the cardboard and weight will smother out the weeds and it will all break down and create lovely soil.  Hopefully by then I'll have some idea of what I want to actually do with the space.

Gardening is a nearly perfect hobby for my fickle self.  By the end of summer, I'm ready to hang up my trowel, and come mid-winter, I can't wait to dust it off again.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Green Eyed Monster

Jealousy.  Envy.  Call it what you will, I was feeling it this weekend.

My big kids attended Les Miserables, performed by the Broadway touring cast.   Oh, how I love a good musical.  And Les Mis is a good one.

Lucy turns 15 in October and she begged for Les Mis tickets as an early birthday present.  We initially thought we'd make it a daddy/daughter date, but since Lyle and I both saw the show years ago in Iowa City, we offered Bruder the chaperone role.  He jumped on it like a gator.  "I love Lucy's birthday!" he proclaimed. 

I dropped the kids off at the ferry dock and they went out for dinner at Ivar's Restaurant and then walked the mile to the theater.  They LOVED the show, as I knew they would, and then they went to the Cheescake Factory for some nutrition.  There are raspberries in there, right?

I told them that the last two ferries leaving for the island were at 12:15 and 1:35.   If they missed those, they'd be sleeping under a bridge in Seattle.  The play finished at 11:00, so I knew it would be late.   When the phone rang at midnight, I figured they were in the terminal, just letting me know they'd be on the next ferry.  Wrong.

"Um, Mom, we're lost." 

"Where are you?" I asked.  I'd just sat down at the computer to pull up a map.

"We're in someplace called Pioneer Square."  I typed in Pioneer Square and this is what I read, copied straight from the website:

One word of caution, Pioneer Square is near the city and county courthouses as well as the county jail. Almost every time you walk through the area, you see something or somebody that seems a little off. The area is also popular with the homeless. It’s not a threatening environment, but is definitely one where you are better off staying aware of your surroundings. After dark in particular you should think twice about leaving the 1st Avenue corridor. The folks in the bars are pretty harmless. The same may not always be true up around the bus stops on 2nd and 3rd Avenues.


"Is there anyone at all who looks normal, who you could ask to point you in the direction of the ferry?"

"No!" they answered.

"Can you see the water?  Head toward the water."

"Mom, no offense, but you're not being very helpful."

As I searched a map, trying to get them on the right path to the ferry, I heard a muffled unfamiliar voice and then my kids voices saying, "No thank you."   This was not a comfortable parenting moment.

Needless to say, they found the ferry and made it home.   We fell into our beds at about two in the morning.  The big kids drifted off to sleep with "I Dreamed a Dream" floating through their heads.  I, on the other hand, had to shake off visions of Jack the Ripper stalking my children.  

Alls's well that ends well, but next time, I think I'll volunteer my services as an additional chaperone.  Especially if it's a musical.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bruder is Brace-Less!

I think our son has set some kind of a record.....not a record anyone would want to hold, mind you, but a record none the less.  Number of consecutive years spent in orthodontia!  Some kids will go two years, a few stalwart souls will hang on for three or four, but it takes true grit and stamina (and very bad luck) to be a metal mouth for SEVEN years!

I distinctly remember that fateful Panorex, back in first grade, when Lyle informed me that our son was missing teeth.  Well, duh.  He'd just lost his first baby tooth.  "No," Lyle said, "He's missing permanent teeth.  Four of them."   I asked him when he would get them.  "He won't get them.  He doesn't have them."  You'd think after 4 years of being married to a dental student I would have gleaned a certain degree of knowledge and learned that sometimes people are congenitally missing teeth.  Sometimes a person might even be missing a total of 8 teeth. (We later learned he doesn't have wisdom teeth either, a silver lining if there ever was one.)

So, he's been in some phase of ortho for a long, long time, with the actual braces starting at age 10.  He's had a palatal expander, extractions of deciduous molars and canines, headgear, rubber bands going every which way, and has basically experienced the whole orthodontic enchilada.   In addition to the missing teeth, he also had a rotated tooth and a retained baby tooth.  His orthodontist dubbed his mouth, "as complicated as it gets" and said that it would take "heroic" measures to give him a beautiful smile.

The missing teeth that were most problematic, at least appearance-wise, were the lateral incisors.  Sometimes with missing laterals, doctors will move over the canines and shave them down to look like laterals.  Lyle didn't like that option, so Bruder's canines were moved back and forth across the top of his mouth to help develop the bone that will eventually hold implants.  Through all of this, Bruder went through many stages that even a loving mother would call awkward.

When his peers were no longer missing teeth (or "sporting mixed dentition", as my husband would say), 
fake teeth were tied into the braces.
The photo below was taken on Saturday.

And then, just two days later, we went through the familiar doors of the ortho office
for Bruder's debanding appointment.

And here he is.....

....without metal in his mouth!
I seriously cannot get over it
and keep staring at him,
which is kind of creeping him out.
It will take some getting used to, but we all agree that he looks fantastic.

I can't say that he's completely done; he has fake teeth attached to a clear retainer and will get implants in a few years when we're sure he's done growing, but for the first time ever, he looks done.

And even though I'm biased,
and would think he looks handsome with or without teeth,
I'm pretty sure it was worth it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Forever and Ever

On Saturday, August 6th,

in the Twin Falls Idaho Temple,

our sweet XiXi was sealed to his forever parents.

He was so very excited for his special day and had been talking about it for weeks.

On the way there, he sang, "I Love to See the Temple,"
words which were made even more meaningful as we drove back and forth
 through Twin Falls, unable to locate the temple!  When we spotted the spire in the distance,
we did indeed love to see the temple!

Despite that bit of panic, we were made to feel like honored (if not directionally-challenged) 
guests the moment we walked through the front doors.  
"How do you get lost in Twin Falls?" was whispered between workers.  
When they learned we're from Washington and were in Idaho for a family reunion, they forgave us.

They took our kids to the children's room and we didn't see them again until right before the ceremony.
It was enough to bring tears to a parent's eye.
XiXi has so perfectly blended into our family and we can't imagine our lives without him.

Thankfully we'll never have to!
We love you, XiXi.