Monday, March 27, 2017

Alison and Alex, Ruby and More

Socorro!  Hilfe!  Au secours!  Help!

I feel bogged down by this blog--too far behind to catch up, yet unwilling to leave it behind completely.  I'm too tired to spit out a coherent sentence, let alone write one.  At the same time, I know that I need to push through if I'm ever going to get on top of this.  Golly-gee-willikers, the perfectionist in me hates to publish shoddy stuff, even if only on a family blog.

Perfectionism be damned.  I'm forging ahead anyway.  Besides, it could be worse.  Jason's tired and wishes he could go to bed too, but he's busy fixing our stair that decided it was too worn out to hold weight anymore.

Stepping back in time to the beginning of February, my Aunt Alison came to visit all the way from Long Island, New York.  February is often hard for me with its dark, cold days, but their friendly visit helped the month fly by.

Here is Alison exploring the exhibit "Where Children Sleep" at the Leonardo with Annie.

Don't you think these headphones are snazzy?  My aunt's the cutest.

Naturally, we took Alison to Cafe Rio for the some of the best cuisine Salt Lake has to offer.  (Next to Sawadee and Hatch Family Chocolates, of course.  Always anxious for an excuse to avoid making dinner, we dined both of those places as well.)

Hey, look who joined us from Silicon Valley in Cali!  It's my cousin Alex, one of Nest's newest programmers.

Naturally Alison and Alex were eager to hit the slopes, skiing/snowboarding at Solitude and Brighton.  Snow this year has been fantastic!

Still the cutest.

Alex liked Solitude so much that the sticker made the laptop.

On Saturday they took a break from the slopes so that we could all visit Temple Square.  As you can see, it was the perfect day to walk the grounds.

Photo Op 1...

...and a close-up of our crazy clan.

We walked across the street for a tour of the Conference Center.

Amazing as ever.  It's fun to hear Jason talk about the colossal structural engineering that went into the conference center as well.  His structures professor, Leon Williams, took the class for a tour while it was under construction.

Looking up.

While the rooftop gardens were not open, the kids sure had fun playing around with photo panoramas on the top floor.

Following Temple Square, we headed over to the Main Library where they were hosting a Chinese calligraphy event in honor of the lunar New Year.

Quite the little narcissist, Annie enjoyed seeing herself in this trash can.

After Alex returned to California, Alison spent one more day hanging out with our crew.  We headed up to Park City where Annika practiced a bit more skiing on the bunny hill.
Thanks so much for coming to see us Alison and Alex!  The Utah snow is certainly best when shared.


Turns out Salt Lake is a pretty popular destination to visit!  Alison and Alex were not the only visitors we hosted in February.  Jason's friend Ben Turner from Omaha dropped by for lunch one day.  Their friendship has survived both the long distance and Jason's beard envy.

Ruby also came for a brief visit while her Daddy was having a second interview with Primary Children's in Salt Lake.  We are so excited to spend more time with this cutie!

Grandma Susie joined us for a bit.  While I forgot to take a picture, the purple backpack in the background is sure evidence of her close proximity.  In the meantime, here's Annie playing Moana on her guitar/cello.  Monkey see, monkey do!

Even with a full-house, preschool must go on!  I think at one point, the house hosted Justin, Brianna, Ruby, Brianna's sister Ashley, Ashley's son, Susie, and preschool all at the same time.  Since it was U-week, we made unicorn horns.

Ruby wasn't terribly enthused about her unicorn transformation.

As for myself, I am understandably smitten with this gal.  Two might be a challenging age for a parent, but it is the absolute best age for an aunt.

Many thanks to Ruby and all the rest for your visits--making our new house a home.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Cats and Cocoa

We went to the Hogle Zoo today. It was terrific. We got to see a baby titi monkey, the playground was open, and the lions were playful in the warm spring weather. While the zoo is certainly exciting on days like today, I also love the zoo on cold winter days when you generally have the place to yourselves. Here we all are at the Hogle Zoo in January during an event called "Cats and Cocoa."

Star of the event: The Siberian Tiger.  This guy is happiest in the cold.

Making tiger masks.

Completed works of art:

Next stop: the RendeZoo room for even more art.  I particularly liked this horned lizard.

Yes, my children are weird. Every day I take the zoo home with me.
I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friendly at Four: Our Annika Mae

I'd rather not be more than one birthday behind on this blog, so since Jason's birthday is tomorrow, I'd better hurry up and post Annika's.

At the end of January, our little Annie Mae turned four.  Four!  While all of our children's birthdays are special to us, Annie's is particularly memorable because her actual birth day was so unique.  Here we are eating the overnight baked french toast we shared the morning after she was born.

She was born with a wild head of hair, and not much has changed since.  Here it is brushed and dried after a favorite pastime--swimming at the Northwest Rec Center.

A gal after my own heart, she always asks for the shower to be "burn hot--turn my toes red."

Other current loves: playing with play dough, building houses for her Little People with magnatiles, watching Umizoomi, and reading Clifford stories.  Of course, nothing in the world matches her love for stuffed animals.  At any given moment, her bed is overrun with at least a dozen.  Speaking of beds, this toddler bed was her main present from us.  Since the move, she'd been sleeping on a mattress in our room, so as soon as she saw the toddler bed she asked if she could move it in with Mom and Dad.  Fortunately, she's adjusted pretty well to sharing a room with Talia and Eli.

NomiAnn made the awesome bedset pictured above and even gave Annie this cute doll with handknit clothes.  But the present Annie was most excited about?  A stuffed blue whale that was included as an afterthought.

Grandma Susie and Grandpa Charles drove down from Logan to help us celebrate Annie's special day.  We made lasagna and they contributed this amazing salad, plus the cutest little owl dress for the birthday girl.

In case you forgot, Annie is four!

After dinner we invited over some friends to share our teddy bear birthday cake.  As you can see, the ear suffered some major trauma.  I stayed up until 2:00 in the morning baking and frosting this carrot cake supreme.  I was just putting it away when the whole cake started to slide and I bear-ly caught it. So, so sad!

Fortunately I was able to do some reconstructive surgery in the morning with a new batch of frosting. The only real give-away is the ear's different shade of purple.

Getting ready to blow out candles on the cake.  Joining in the fun were Annika's friends Lizzie, Tommy, Joshua, and Aven.

Our birthday celebrations officially ended with a preschool Teddy Bear Tea Party for T-week.  Sipping apple juice from china with our teddy bear companions was so fun!

Annika, hanging out with you as a four year-old is delightful.  I absolutely love how imaginative and creative you are.  You have a spunky sense of humor (like when you ask me my name and then insist I am wrong), and you dream big (like when you asked me today for a zebra.)  A stranger to no one, you are skilled at engaging everyone you meet in conversation, regardless of age, gender, or race (like when you chatted with a dark-skinned teenage boy for five minutes today until he lost his tough demeanor and broke out in a broad smile.)  After all, who can help but grin at the tiny girl who runs up to them and says "What's your name?  I'm Annie.  How old are you?  Can I pet your dog?"  The best part of all is that you end most conversations by turning to me and saying, "Mom, I made a friend!"

I made a friend too, Annie, the day you came into our lives.  So glad you're here.  Happy birthday.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Calling out to NomiAnn

Considering the tiny size of this blog's readership, I think personal call-outs are totally appropriate.

NomiAnn! We just wanted to let you know that we love you, we miss you, and we are super excited to see you again a few weeks.  We know that we totally spoiled the fun by leaving Omaha.  We know there are too many miles between us, and that it's painfully hard to go long stretches without seeing your grandbabies.  But before we get together again, we wanted to share a few photos from our last visit.   You were the very first person to come all the from out of state to see us in our new home, Ginny.

You were there when we cooked our first real meal.

You agreed that the turkey and courgette burgers, recommended by Ben and Christy, were pretty delectable, especially with the sumac sauce.

You treated us to our first liege waffles at Bruges...

...and you saw Eli's front tooth fly out of his mouth and onto the ground beside the minivan on our way in to dine.

Together we explored the Leonardo during Lego Days.  Here we are peering through the hylozoic veil.

Talia was thrilled to disassemble an old phone.

Last but not least, we dragged you up to Alta for some fun on the slopes.  It was great to swap the valley's overcast gray for the mountain's clear blue and sunshine.

Getting geared up is the hardest part about skiing as a family.

This cute little bug sure needed a lot of help with the tow rope.  Don't know how we would have managed without you!

On the other hand, the only help this guy needed was in slowing down.  Once he came zooming into the chute so fast that he ran right into the structure and got his skis stuck.

Brooklyn and Talia rode the ski lift for the first time, thanks to Sunnyside's discounted ski after three.

Yeah, they loved it.

And we loved having you there to see it all happen.

NomiAnn, we love you!