Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Especially for the Wheeler Munchkins

Guess where we are? (Or at least were... At the moment we're actually aboard a Greyhound bus headed to DC.)

Are you getting warmer?

Yep, that's right--the Brooklyn Bridge, New York City.

I flew out to New York on Saturday to visit family on Long Island before meeting up with Jason in the city for the very tail end of his business trip. I've had a wonderful time catching up with aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, sisters- and brothers-in-law. Stay tuned for a fun post chronicling our many adventures. In the meantime, however, I can't help but think about these tiny folks.

Missing our little ones reminded me of these photos we recently took at the St. George Temple, a symbol of our commitment to family.







Brooklyn, Talia, and Eli, this message is just to tell you how much Mom and Dad miss you and are thinking about you. We're so glad you're having a fantastic time with Grandma Susie and Grandpa Charles. Even more, we're grateful that despite being many miles apart at the moment, our family can eventually be together forever.

Vacations may be terrific, but life is always more exciting when we can share it with you. Can't wait to see you soon!

Love, Mom and Dad

Thursday, September 22, 2011

To Peanut Butter, From Jelly

This is a special moment. Brooklyn's at school, Talia's at preschool, and Eli's napping. I have 45 minutes all to myself before I have to wake up the baby, pick up from preschool, pick up from school, return library materials, buy cookies for the PTA bake sale, and head back to the school to volunteer at the International Dance Festival for the rest of the evening. I could be washing the floor, folding laundry, scrubbing the toilets, cleaning out the car, or even making cookies from scratch for the aforementioned bake sale.

I'd much prefer, however, to spend my free moment bragging about this guy.

Isn't he dapper? You see, I miss this fellow. He happens to be in Boston right now reuniting with the other Rose Fellows, all of whom are great architects-in-training, but none of whom are nearly as charming.

So how do I know this fellow loves me? Well, he builds me planter boxes for one thing. Isn't this terrific?

He also changes stinky diapers, takes out the trash, and regularly waters the fruit trees. Most of all, Jason does a fantastic job of showing how much he cares by sharing of his time. Recently we've started playing racquetball once a week at the recreation center. Drop the kids off at childcare, and voila, a free date night. :) I am absolutely terrible, but it doesn't matter because it's time spent together. It took eight years of marriage before I finally dared to reveal my astounding lack of coordination. But through eight years of marriage, Jason's proven again and again how he'll love me anyway.

Jason's had a lot of exciting things going on lately. In addition to work, he recently took the first of seven architectural licensing exams and has another scheduled for October. And, despite the heat and some shin troubles, he's training for the St. George marathon on October 1st. No matter how the race goes, anyone who trains through a St. George summer is already a winner!

Jason arrives back in Utah on September 29th, but that seems awfully long to be missing my better half. Plus, it's been an awfully long time since I've seen the East coast. Whaddaya say Peanut Butter? Rumor has it that the only thing Jelly wants for her birthday is a hug. :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mom, See? I'm Two!

Guess who's growing up?

Our little baby Eli isn't such a babe anymore. On Friday he officially celebrated his second birthday.

We ate train cupcakes in honor of Eli's fascination with "choo choos." They were actually surprisingly easy to make--just some starbursts, skittles, and good-n-plenty cargo.

Blowing out the candles is a family event. The girls tried to teach Eli, but he just blew raspberries instead.

As for the eating, Eli can handle that all out by himself. This time, however, he preferred to play with his food.

Mama's Boy.

Our friends, the Bassos joined us at Cottonwood Park to celebrate Eli's special day. This park is fantastic fun for kids and adults alike, right Jason?

Seven kids six and under always makes for a party. :)

Brooklyn's friend Anna blends right into the family with her white blond hair.

Anna's little sister Sara may have a touch of brunette, but she's so cute we'd claim her anyway.

Anyone want a Talia rag-a-muffin? Just kidding, she's not for sale... usually.

While we saved most of the presents to open on Saturday, we did let Eli open a big package to go along with the train theme. Thanks Nomi-Ann and Papa Kay! As you can see it was a chug-a-chug hit.

Eli's new favorite pastime is pushing his sisters all over. I love how they've turned this individual toy into a team effort.

Eli, it's a bitter-sweet moment for a Mom as she watches her baby-baby grow up. Over the last few months you've started to change so rapidly, developing into your own little man. You've swapped your babyish innocence for a devilish desire to tease your sisters and intentionally turn over every water glass. Much to my horror, you've recently started to initiate conversations with kids at the playground with a push instead of a hello. The world is a giant science experiment for you, full of new opportunities to press limits and discover exactly what will happen if you try X, Y, or don't-you-dare--I-can't-believe-you-just-did-that!-Z.

And yet, you still love to snuggle and nestle your head into my shoulder. When I fetch you from your crib each morning, you smile and pant like a puppy. You love to color, picking up a crayon at every opportunity, then doodling with surprising meticulousness for a two year-old. You crave affirmation and will toddle around the house patting my legs and saying, "Mom, mom, mom, mom, see, see, see, see?" until I praise your picture, even if I have already commented on each of the fourteen circles you drew already. Your speech is taking off like rapid fire as you now mimic everything and have many new words of your own. Even so, all parents remain "Mom" and all siblings are called "Talia."

Ever your grandfathers' son, you love books and will bring over piles and piles of them to be read at bedtime. Most of the time, however, you try to carry too many and cry in frustration because you can't carry them all at once. And, despite your sisters' best attempts to convert you to pink baby dolls, you are absolutely enthralled with everything boy, breaking out into high-pitched squeals and exclamations at the sight of cars, buses, and trucks. "Mom, mom, mom, mom, see, see, see, see?"

Yes, sweet Eli, I see. I see that you are becoming your own little person with dreams and desires all of your own. I see that even though you are still cute as ever with a smile that will melt every heart, you no longer want to be just a baby anymore. It's time to let you grow.


And so, little man, may we all wish you once more, a delightful 2nd birthday.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Small Successes with Spanglish

Just a quick progress report on the "Spanglish" course. Classes began last week and seem to be off to a strong start. We had about sixteen parents for the first class, and it's grown steadily since. There's a good mix of English and Spanish language learners, allowing us to learn from each other. The nicest feedback has come through a few comments from students about how much they enjoy the interaction with each other. It made my heart happy to notice a group of women from both language communities hang out for another fifteen minutes after class today to practice and chat.

I'm grateful for these motivational moments since the transition to "teacher mode" is requiring some adjustment. I've discovered that switching back and forth between both languages as I teach is mentally exhausting. I finish each class feeling like I've just endured an entire hour of linguistic acrobatics. Lesson planning is also taking a lot of time since I'm essentially creating all of my materials from scratch. Everything has to be tailored for this unique teaching situation and translated into both languages. While I'm generally able to construct grammatically-correct sentences in Spanish, there are so many times when I wish I had a native speaker's intuition about how to phrase something. Still, the language practice is helping me improve along with everyone else. It feels good to be engaged and utilizing my degree, even if I am working for free. Mostly, it is rewarding to see the community come together, albeit in a small way.

As for the kids, they've noticed a difference too. As I walked out the door to class, Talia said: "Mom, why are you wearing earrings? It's not even Sunday."

Hopefully a dolled-up Mom can make up for the messy house.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Cannibal

I don't know why I'm on such a Talia-ism kick lately, except that 4 year-olds are hilarious.

Lest you be fooled into thinking that Talia is gentle and restrained after yesterday's Tschaikovsky post, let me share tonight's dinner commentary.
Talia (viciously ripping off the end of a hot dog): "Let's pretend we're eating human legs... Real ones!"

Glad to know I've raised a cannibal.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Tschaikovsky's "Pathetique": Rated PG

After the kids come home from school, we try to have a bit of quiet time where they can rest or read in their beds. They usually enjoy this personal time to unwind, particularly since it's generally followed by a snack.

During today's quiet time, I put on a classical CD without giving it much thought: Tschaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, "Pathetique." After about fifteen minutes, Talia slipped out of bed and asked me, "Mom, are we allowed to listen to this music? I'm scared. Does it have lots of violence in it?"

Needless to say, I quickly switched Tschaikovsky's impassioned Romantic music for some more Classical classical. Still, I was struck by how deeply the music resonated within Talia, evoking emotions strong enough that she could articulate them. I'm also glad to know that she would voluntarily filter music that made her feel uncomfortable, just as she might walk away from a violent movie.

We don't really listen to much heavy metal or rap in our home, and we certainly steer clear of music with foul language. This experience, however, has helped me realize that even if we are listening to the New York Philharmonic, I need to be engaged and guide my children when they are listening to music designed for a more mature audience.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Of Quiche and Scarves

Several weeks ago I had somewhat of a surreal experience when I looked up and realized that there was a Frenchman baking quiche in my kitchen.

Meet Jean Baptiste, more commonly known as JB. JB is a friend of Jason's from both Illinois and France. They met in architecture school in Champaign, then hung out together for a week in Paris during our overseas sojourn. This time JB crashed our home for a few days instead of the inverse.

Life in our home is always chaotic. I admit that I felt pretty hesitant about subjecting a stranger to the noise and confusion. Fortunately, JB and the kids still bonded, despite the commotion.

And of course, the quiche was outstanding. Good thing, too, considering the fact that the gruyere cost $16 a pound! Okay, a funny story: JB accidentally spilled all over the floor while baking the quiche. Eggs were splattered literally from wall to wall. The absurd mess struck me as so comic that I wanted to take a picture, but I finally decided against it because it looked so disgusting--think vomit. When I told JB this, he started to chuckle because apparently the French have an idiom where tossing your quiche is equivalent to Americans tossing their cookies.

Jason took some time off of work so that he could show JB some of St. George's natural wonders. Here's JB after biking uphill ten miles to Snow Canyon State Park. Please note the scarf, despite the 110 degree weather.

And here are Jason and JB in Zion National Park. That scarf made it all the way to Angel's Landing!

The scarf and JB are united yet again as they hike with Talia in cooler Pine Valley.

What can I say? C'est la mode.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Dad, This One's For You

While talking to my Dad on the phone a couple of hours ago, I couldn't help but notice the disappointment in his voice when I told him that there was no need to check the blog--I'd been too busy to update it.

And so Dad, I'm taking a brief reprieve from the mountains of laundry to share a couple of quotes.

Talia: (Struggling to fix the mismatched buttons on her shirt.) These buttons are kinda crabby!

Talia: (Planning our backyard trampoline campout.) We can do it as long as it's not raining or thundering or tornadoing of volcanoing.

Fortunately for us all, the weather did not tornado nor volcano, although the kids got so many bug bites that Brooklyn's teacher asked if she had chicken pox.

Eli: Da.

While Eli has acquired many new words lately (his favorites being bubbles and ball), he still persists on saying "Da" for "Yes." I do believe that he's the first in the family to speak Russian.

And last but not least, I recently came across this quote that I jotted down months ago.

Mom: (During a Family Home Evening Lesson.) Is that something you'd like--eternal life with Heavenly Father?

Talia: Well, I'd like to go to Disneyland.

Like I said, Dad, this one's for you.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.

So I woke up early this morning to the sound of the doorbell. It was our neighbor, letting us know that a river was flowing from our backyard to theirs. Apparently our water main has broken...again.

Looking on the bright side, at least Jason won't have to battle the icy ground and rock retaining wall for this repair like he did last November. Still, being water-less remains inconvenient. We have company coming in a couple of hours, and I'd like to be able to do at least a little light housecleaning--like flush the toilets. But hey, at least I don't have to worry about the showers. Anybody in need of a wash can go splash around in the yard.