Thursday, September 11, 2014

A time and a season


I don't rely on a calendar to tell me the change of seasons, I put my full trust in Hagley Park. Even though next week has a 90% chance of mittens and hot chocolate, today the sun was out, the cherry blossoms were in full bloom and I'm calling it like I see it. Spring is officially here. And quite frankly, it's about time. Sometimes I get all introspective as I run along lip syncing to Iggy Azalea. I think about how anxious I am for winter to be over. I used to be just as anxious for summer to be over in Arizona. I remember wearing boots to Jayden's soccer game in October. It was fall. It was my duty and obligation as a human being. And I sat there with a forced smile plastered on my face while everything below my knees was slowly getting drenched in sweat. The modge podge wooden Happy Halloween sign was up in September. The artifical Christmas tree limbs were in their color coded piles waiting to be assembled as soon as the Thanksgiving dishes were cleared. Come March we start planning our first lake trip and dreaming of summer vacations. I'm always anxious for the next season. Excited for what lies ahead. I need to work on slowing down and appreciating the beauty that comes with each season. And of course you know there's a metaphor coming. Because, ya know, introspective. And stuff. In figurative terms, I'm in the playdough/Disney channel/peanut butter and jelly season of life. It's my summer. The first part of my life was my spring, the season of developing and blossoming to prepare me to reach my potential. What I was meant to be. And I was meant to be a mother. I read every single Babysitter's Club book cover to cover and majored in Early Childhood Education. Of course every parenting and child development theory I learned went out the window the minute I was handed a baby that at 5:30 every single evening cried for two hours straight and didn't sleep through the night until she was a year old. And the Babysitter's Club failed to mention the part about suppositories when your baby hasn't pooped in a week. I've been in this summer stage of life for the past twelve years and sometimes I'm that girl dying my hair black in August, anxious for the next season and the slow hibernation of winter. Anxious to add the "25 Silly Songs" CD to the donation pile. To watch movies without anything furry, green or animated. To clean the car and no longer hold my breath in anticipation as to what I might find hiding under their carseats. To go out to eat as a family without french fries being thrown at the table next to us. But mostly I'm that girl wearing white jeans past Labor day, trying to stretch summer out as long as I can. This season of life is golden and thankfully there are still forts to be built, Goodnight Moon books to be read, band-aids to be put on chubby knees, dance recitals to tear up at, soccer goals to cheer for, Friday night homemade pizzas to be made, the weight of a sleeping toddler on my chest to be felt, and macaroni necklaces to be worn. As challenging as this season of life is, I'm not quite ready to pack away my swimsuit and say farewell to summer. The promise of adventure still awaits. I'm learning to take the good with the bad. The warm soup with the howling wind. The dip in the pool with the scorching heat. The love notes with the temper tantrums over socks that just don't feel right. There's a time and a season. So go carpe diem it up with some pumpkin bread and cinnamon scented pinecones while you soak in the moments of whatever season of life you're in. I'll be over here cutting a fresh bunch of daffodils for my kitchen window and contemplating dying Easter eggs. And then I'm going to read the Magic Treehouse to some boys who are just dying to find out if Jack and Annie discover the mummy.















Magnolia trees make me swoon. Even though every time I see them I think of Steel Magnolias. The image of Julia Roberts doing the ugly cry will be forever burned in my retinas.




Sunday, September 07, 2014

Happy Kiwi Father's Day


By 6:00 pm Jason was curled up in the fetal position on the couch. The jet lag hit him hard this time. He had four days worth of travel for a three day conference and by the time he got home he looked like he was on the tail end of a weekend bender. He did manage to get all the Christmas shopping done while in the states, which never in the history of ever has happened by September. And our pantry is stocked with Halloween candy, a month's supply of cold cereal (a month's supply for the average family, more like a week for us), Libby's canned pumpkin for a Thanksgiving pie, and seasonings that I can't get my little paws on here.  After eating spaghetti for like two weeks straight in the motel when we first moved here I remember being so excited to finally be able to cook a proper meal. Tortilla soup was the first meal I made in this house and I learned the hard way that ground chili is most definitely not the same thing as chili powder. A tablespoon of ground chili is like a nuclear explosion in a pot. We were glad that Jason and the chili powder made it home safely, and just in time for Father's day. Mother's day is celebrated the same day as the states, but for some reason they celebrate Father's day in September. I was sweating bullets during my first attempt at french omelets, then the rest of the morning was dominated by BYU football and nerf wars. We had the missionaries over for a lasagna dinner after church then rounded the night off with a daddy Q&A session where we wrote down any questions that have been burning deep in our bosom. Among others, Ryder wanted to know if he went to kindy and what cereal was his favorite. Maddox wanted to know what he played in the olden days before ipads and what his hair looked like. Jayden wanted to know when he started becoming a trouble maker and who his best friend was, and Kylie wanted to know where he got his first job and who his first crush was. It was fun sitting around the table laughing as he showed how his mom put a bowl on his head to cut his hair and demonstrated the important role he played as the Pistol Pete's Pizza mascot. I loved seeing the kids with smiles on their faces and eyes only for their dad as they were caught up in his stories. He's a good dad. He's a good husband. I have a hard time putting my feelings into words. It's so much easier for me to write about insignificant things, like my paralyzing fear of aluminum cans (I'm certain my finger is going to be severed by a whole kernel corn lid at some point in my life), than it is for me to write about things that are closest to my heart. Maybe it's a defense mechanism, like the way I always laugh whenever I'm uncomfortable and don't know what to say. As a general rule of thumb, it's not appropriate to crack jokes and make light of serious things such as prostate cancer. Ever. Maybe it's just that the feelings I have for my family are so personal and special to me that I want to keep them for myself. Maybe I don't want to come across as cliche'. Maybe it's a little bit of everything. So this is me not saying "He's the best dad and husband in the world". Instead it's me saying that I'm grateful for this man who tells me my cinnamon rolls deserve an award. Who makes out with me in the corner of the kitchen when the kids aren't looking. Who is sensitive to the fact that I get the nervous poops every time I fly. Who rents "Ride Along" because he knows I've got a thing for black men. Who tells me I'm a good mom even when I pretend to go to the bathroom when really I'm just sitting on the lid of the toilet playing candy crush. There is such a sense of security knowing that he is aware of all my faults and chooses to love me just the same. It might be a bit presumptuous to claim that he is the best dad and husband in the world, but in our world he is just that.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Bedtime


Jason traveling used to mean nothing more than mac & cheese for dinner and a chance to get caught up on Desperate Housewives. He had such a demanding work schedule that we didn't see much of him during the week, so his traveling didn't wreak too much havoc on our daily routine. But now I'm just plain spoiled, I've gotten quite fond of having him around so his trip to Florida this week threw me for a loop.  I sulked about having to drag the garbage bins to the curb and drive the kids to school in the frigid mornings. And imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the dinner dishes don't magically get cleaned up while I put the kids to bed anymore. But the one thing I look forward to is having the kids take turns sleeping with me. It's something we started back in AZ when he would travel and I would lay in bed replaying the schpeal the security salesman gave to me about how easy it is to break in through sliding glass doors and then I would swear I just heard someone tripping over the cozy coupe. It was just comforting having the security of a warm body next to me in bed. Because, you know, a six year old could totally protect us. I'm not scared anymore, but I've grown to really look forward to the one on one time with each of the kids. We watch movies and eat ice cream with sprinkles then lay in the dark talking about life while they drift off to sleep. As soon as the lights switch off I always unload the worries and excitement of the world on Jason as he manages to slip in a few "uh-huh's" every now and then. It's a combination of feeling less vulnerable in the dark, having a quiet moment where I can actually put my thoughts into words and a loose tongue from feeling sleepy.  My kids are the same way. Maddox tells me about feeling left out because his friends always want to play ninja kitties and he thinks it's lame. I'm with you on that, bud. Jayden reports about how my advice to compliment girls and to offer to help them really works. They batted their eyelashes when he carried the bucket of crosswalk flags for them. Not that I'm encouraging him to like girls, I just want to teach him to be a gentleman and to make girls feel special. Kylie and I talk about some of the choices her friends have been making, Back to the Future, Turkish accents and everything in between. Ryder just asks for more suckers and a different movie. At least every ten minutes. But he will let me cuddle him. Jason and I came to a mutual agreement when we were first married that we're not the cuddling type. The minute we would snuggle up to watch a movie or something, I would get a complex. I would feel an itch on my elbow. And then an itch on my back. And then an itch on my eyebrow. And then I would sit and wonder what is an appropriate amount of time to wait in between itching without looking like I have a nervous twitch. And then my arm would start to fall asleep, but if I lift it up to help the circulation then that would put my armpit approximately right square in his face. And then if you have to fart you can't squeeze your cheeks together because then he could feel it, but you can't just let it out because he would most definitely feel that. But I was willing to try and control my epileptic twitching so that he could have someone to cuddle with, so it was a huge relief when he confessed that he prefers having a little space to relax. Crisis averted. But kids are another story. They don't judge you if you just scratched your shoulder for the fourth time in the last minute. And they do their fair share of farting under the sheets. After Ryder would fall asleep I would lay there tracing the outline of his face with my finger as I listened to his little grunts and steady breathing. By bedtime I usually don't want to see or hear anyone under five feet tall, but I really enjoyed sacrificing my "me" time to spend some quality time with the kids. I'm not saying this to toot my own mommy horn (don't give me too much credit because after this week I'll be back to enforcing the "nobody's allowed to say 'mom' after 8:00" rule), but as a reminder that emails, pinterest, netflix and blogs will all be there waiting for me, but it won't be long before my ten year old boy will outgrow laying his head on my shoulder while we watch Inspector Gadget. But it will be good to have Jason home, I really like that guy and miss having him around. I don't like having him all the way on the other side of the world, his plane isn't allowed to crash because I don't know any of the passwords to our accounts and he better not leave me to file a tax return on my own. Of course there's the whole bit about my life not being complete without him, but let's not go there. Besides, eating ice cream every night is not doing wonders for my pre-Fiji diet. All I want in life is to find the perfect pair of ankle boots and to not gain two pounds every time I eat a bowl of ice cream. Is that really too much to ask?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Replay

I've stopped having the Walmart dreams. This is monumental. It means my inner psyche and outer psyche (totally a real thing) have united in agreement that it's time to stop making a mental list of everything I miss at home and start focusing on the list of everything I love and will miss about this place. High on that list is being geographically nestled in between the beach and the mountains. I don't think there are many places where you can hit the snowboard and the surfboard in the same day. Given there's a certain level of crazy involved to make you want to do both. But my point is you could. We were sad that last winter we didn't make it to the mountain because all our extra cash was spent up buying life necessities such as pee stained mattresses and kitchen tables covered in cat hair. We decided to make up for it this time around, so here's our snow day take II. The drive up there is odd. A part of me feels bad for this little resort that could (of course this coming from a girl who feels bad for Siri if the kids start teasing her. Artificial intelligence have feelings too). I've just never driven through dirt roads and prairie land to reach a ski resort, it seems sort of sad.


The sleds were all rented out, but it was fine because we came prepared with all the fixings for a right proper snowman. We were pretty proud of our little guy. The ratio of snowmen to children pictures would make you think I gave birth to it. I will admit that I did have the maternal instinct to cradle it under my protective wing when other kids were sledding near.




Look at the way he so delicately holds his little stick hand. He named him Ryder.


Taking selfies with a snowman. As one does.


Ryder's bucket list also involved a snow ball fight. 



Yeah, this happened. I guess I was asking for it. If only his aim in the toilet were as good as his aim with a snowball.


Maddox took a break from boarding to build a bwuddo snowman. He tried so hard to make the head look like Olaf. Do you wanna build a snowmaaaaan...your welcome, now you can think of me 20 minutes from now when you still have that song stuck in your head.


While we were waiting for a sled Maddox wanted to hike up the mountain and slide down on his pants. Hiking in the snow in high altitude is not for the faint of heart. I sorta threw Ryder under the bus (figuratively of course) as I yelled to Maddox that he couldn't climb any higher. And then my left lung collapsed. But they had so much fun shooting down the mountain, and I got to count it as my cardio workout for the day. Or week, if we're being honest.



We perched ourselves precariously on the top of a rocky hill overlooking the ski run so that we could watch Jason and the kids come down. My fear of them causing a rockslide as they ignored my rule about not throwing rocks was outweighed only by my fear of missing a photo op of them coming down the mountain. So there we sat and waited. And took selfies. Maddox was there too, but he kept covering up my hair that was blowing ever so perfectly in the wind so I took the liberty of dismissing him from the frame. Guys, I can finally wear a beanie without looking like a boy. It was called for.


We spotted them coming down and Maddox was so impressed with how fast Jason was. All this time he had been pigeonholing his capabilities to the skills he saw on the bunny slope.





I took a few runs with the kids too (Kylie is on the right). After falling off the "lift" not once, but twice, we finally made it up. Kylie was embarrassed when a boy came up to her and told her she was good and he thought she was hot. Sometimes I question if she is really my daughter because I was always so boy crazy (I think I still have the note the neighbor boy attached to an arrow and shot into our yard. It was a marriage proposal. I didn't want to jump to any conclusions, but I will say that daisies were my bouquet of choice), but she was totally disgusted by it. That's one of the million things I like about her.


I also took a few turns with Maddox on the bunny slope and I was all like jazz hands the entire way down. He is doing awesome and absolutely loves it. Snowboarding can now be added to his official resume. Along with making fish hooks out of bobby pins.



The sky was so gloomy and overcast when we left and unfortunately the clouds were waiting for us when we got back. But it didn't dampen the mood too much. A car littered with beanies and gloves, the blast of heat thawing out cold little toes, sleeping kids worn out after a long day, pizza hut on speed dial, a setting sun and the promise of a hot shower and slippers waiting at home. Yeah, imma be right here. The one with a goofy smile on my face thinking life is pretty good these days.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A few recipes

Cooking used to be just another chore, but I told you, I've found a new love for it since we've been here. There are so many good recipes I want to share, but we're usually too hungry to stop and take pictures. Besides, an intimate photo shoot with food is kinda weird for me. I get embarrassed if Jason walks in on me in the corner gettin' all up in the enchilada's bidness. But I took one for the team here. There's no fancy staging, it's all Kmart dishes all day over here. There's also no step by step photo documentation, mostly because that would involve pictures of Maddox eating cheese by the handfuls and me gagging as I remove the fat from the roast. But here you go....


Don't be intimidated if this looks like a recipe that takes all day. In reality it is a recipe that takes all day. But it's so worth it. This is hands down the best enchiladas I've ever had. And this coming from a girl who is borderline vegetarian. Just reserve it for special occasions like the missionaries coming for dinner, a birthday, or a celebration of shaving your legs for the first time all winter. (I tweaked the meat recipe from one I found on Allrecipes.com and the sauce is one I've had forever that I use with chicken enchiladas, I can't remember where I originally got it from).

Shredded Beef Enchiladas
For the meat:
1 chuck roast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
½ Tbs tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 C beef broth
Add broth to slow cooker then add all ingredients, except for roast and mix together. Add the roast and cook on high for 5-6 hours, remove meat and shred, removing any fat, then return to slow cooker. Reduce heat to Low, and continue cooking for 2 to 4 hours. Transfer the meat to a large skillet and add 1-2 cups of the liquid. Saute on high until all the liquid has been absorbed, adding any necessary seasonings to taste.
For the enchilada sauce:
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon canola oil
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons sugar
2 (8-oz) cans tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese
12 flour tortillas
Preheat oven to 400. Remove meat from skillet and set aside. In skillet combine the onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and oil. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the onions have softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar, and cook until fragrant, less than 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a simmer. Remove about half the sauce and set aside for the top. Stir the shredded beef into the remaining sauce in the pan. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer about 10 minutes. Stack the tortillas on a plate and cover with plastic wrap; Microwave on high about 40-60 seconds. Spoon the meat mixture evenly down the center of each tortilla then tightly roll and lay seam-side down in a greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Pour the reserved sauce evenly over the top of the enchiladas and top with the shredded cheese. Cover dish with foil and bake 20 minutes, or until heated through. Remove foil and bake another 5-10 minutes, until cheese browns. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve with sour cream, shredded lettuce, olives and diced tomatoes.


Muffins are a staple around here. For breakfast, for after school snacks, for road trips, for Jason to take to work for morning tea. That morning tea is a legit business around here. I've got some pretty great muffin recipes up my sleeve, but this one takes the cake. Or the muffin? (source: sallysbakingaddiction.com)

Glazed Apple Crumb Muffins
Crumb topping:
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup flour
Muffins:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk 
1 1/2 cups peeled, chopped apple (2 small apples)
Glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 Tablespoons heavy cream 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

First, make the crumb topping. In a medium bowl, combine both sugars, the cinnamon, and melted butter then stir in the flour. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. In a medium bowl beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat on high until creamed, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract and mix well. In a large bowl, toss together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and slowly whisk together. Add the milk, gently whisking. Fold in the apples. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full with batter then sprinkle with crumbs (crumble it with your hands to make some big chunks). Bake at 350F  for 15-20 minutes or until just lightly beginning to brown. To make the glaze, whisk all of the ingredients together and drizzle over warm muffins. 


Jason and Kylie are devoted hawaiian pizza fans. Every weekend we get pizza hut. A cheese for me and all three boys and a hawaiian one for Kylie and Jason to have all to themselves. For our anniversary I wanted to venture outside the grilled cheese and tomato sandwich box and do something a little special for lunch. And special it was. This was a huge hit and immediately made it into the recipe archives. (the bacon only comes in strips here, it would be much easier to flip if it were in slices) (source: houseofyumm.com)

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese
Bread slices
Jack cheese
Pineapple rings
Canadian bacon
Butter
Parsley flakes
Oregano
Parmesan
Soften butter, mix in parsley, oregano and parmesan then spread on to one side of each slice. Place in skillet, add cheese slices, Canadian bacon and pineapple (use paper towel to absorb juice before putting on sandwich) then add more cheese slices and top with other slice of bread. Cook over low heat until lightly browned then flip and cook on the other side.


And you get a two-fer on this one. The absolute best chicken soup (and this is coming from Jason who is most definitely not a soup person), and these bread bowls that my friend Chelsea introduced into my life and I have never been the same. It is the perfect comfort food that has gotten me through many long cold dreary winter nights. Be sure to use Rotisserie chicken and not just shredded chicken breasts, it makes all the difference. (source: thecookierookie.com)

Creamy Rotisserie Chicken Soup
      For the roux:
      4 T flour
      2 T olive oil
      2 T butter
      make the roux by heating the oil and butter in pot then sprinkling the flour on top. Whisk together for a few minutes.Take off the heat and set aside while combining other ingredients. 
      For the soup:
      2 T butter
      2 T olive oil
      2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
      1 C frozen corn
      2 potatoes, diced
      1 yellow onion - diced
      4 cups chicken stock or broth
      3 cups milk or cream or half & half, or a combination
      2tsp chicken base granules
      1 t fresh cracked pepper
      1 tsp kosher or sea salt
      1 T dried parsley or 2 T fresh parsley
     3 bay leaves
     1½ t dried basil
      2 cloves garlic, minced
      1 deli rotisserie chicken, shredded
      shredded cheese to sprinkle on top

      Start by making the roux. In a large pot, saute the potatoes, carrots and onions in 2 T olive oil and 2 T butter until softened (add the onions at the end). Add all other ingredients including the roux, stir well. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat to low and let simmer 20-30 minutes until the soup thickens to the desired consistency, stirring every few minutes. If you need to thicken the soup a little, mix together some cornstarch with milk then stir into the soup. Before ready to serve, take out the bay leaves, pour into bowls and sprinkle with shredded cheese.

       Bread Bowls 
      2 Tbs yeast
        2 Tbs sugar
       3/4 Tbs salt
        2 C warm water
        2 Tbs olive oil
        5 C flour
        Cornmeal (optional)


      Preheat oven to 400. Mix water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Mix remaining ingredients, then add water and yeast mixture. Knead together, adding more flour until no longer sticky. Cover and let the dough rise until doubles in size (about 30 minutes). Grease 2 cookie sheets and sprinkle with corn meal. Punch down the dough and make 6 tennis ball size dough balls. Place on cookie sheet (don't let them touch). Let them rise for another 30 minutes. Bake at 400 for 18 minutes. Cut off the top and scoop out the inside then fill with your favorite soup.



I remember it was such a treat when my mom would buy french toast sticks for us. I can still taste the maple flavoring and remember the film it would leave in my mouth. The kids inherited my love for them and could inhale a Costco sized box in no time at all. When I came across this recipe it was one of those "duh, why didn't I think of that?" moments. We make regular french toast all the time, but turning them into french toast dippers has upped the ante and opened new doors for breakfasts on the go and after school snacks. We take our after school snacks very seriously around these parts. (source: sixsistersstuff.com)

French Toast Sticks
8 slices white Texas Toast bread
5 eggs
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ C brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 Tablespoons butter
Powdered sugar
Maple syrup
Cut each slice of bread into 4 equal strips.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, whipping cream, vanilla, brown sugar and cinnamon.  In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Dip each piece of bread in egg mixture, let excess drip off and place in skillet.  Once one side is golden brown, flip over and cook the other side until golden brown and crispy on the outside (add more butter between batches if necessary).  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with maple syrup.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bwuddos


After witnessing a lego fight ending in Ryder's ear piercing scream, someone commented, "and that is exactly why I don't want to have kids". Part of me took offense, part of me nodded in agreement with a fist bump that said "quit while you're ahead", but most of me just felt sorry for him. Sure he doesn't have to clean pee out of the garbage can in the middle of the night when someone confused it with the toilet, but he also doesn't come home from a 30 minute run to be greeted with a tackle from two little boys who act like they haven't seen you in a year. Sure he could whip up a batch of cookies without dirty feet getting into the flour, cars being mixed into the dough, the salt measurement getting tripled, the "wait did you wash your hands after you went potty?", and the "you just sneezed in the dough!" But he also can't pull out the pots and pans without two little eager beavers clambering to put on their "wrapper" and "acorn" (apparently "apron" is just too hard to remember?). And using an empty tomato paste can like a pot to cook their own soup. And making a miniature version of whatever you're making. And being so proud when everyone raves about the food they just helped cook. These two at this age have been my most challenging. Kylie and Jayden had the same age gap, but being two different genders they weren't constantly competing and fighting over the same toys. I would often find his Transformers in her Barbie house, or find them both dressed up in princess clothes playing cars. They had a good ebb and flow thing going on. Or maybe it's just been too long and I've forgotten. But there is no calm ebb and flow with these two. It's a constant tidal wave. They are either working together in cahoots dumping out every box and drawer, building forts out of every blanket and cushion, sliding down the stairs on lids, spraying the clothes on the line with the hose and digging up every lettuce plant in the garden. Or they are fighting over the same toy and swearing that they're never going to be each other's best friend and never invite each other to their birthday party. It's exhausting. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally.  But every so often I get a glimpse of their real relationship, the one that lives just below the surface of who has the most drawings hanging on their wall and who gets to drink out of the blue cup. The one where Maddox spends every Wednesday at the school library picking out the perfect book for Ryder. The one where Ryder sneaks home cars from kindy in his backpack for Maddox. The one where from a distance I see Maddox hoist Ryder into the swing, buckle him up and give him an underdog while I'm busy untangling kite strings. The one where Ryder wants to save one of his Pak n' Save mentos for Maddox, even if he usually ends up eating it. The one where Maddox will turn into Super Nana and drop anything to find Ryder's missing blanket. And the one where Ryder says "I wuv Nana. He's my bwuddo". Bwuddo is by far my favorite word in his entire vocabulary. Eventually they'll stop waking up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning and eating all the fruit snacks. Eventually they'll stop throwing my clean laundry off the balcony. Eventually they'll stop jamming coins into the bathtub faucet. But I hope they always know how lucky they are to have their bwuddo. I have a feeling they will. Just like I know how lucky I am to be the one that gets the front row seat to their ninja shows and the one to receive crumpled flowers retrieved from the bottom of book bags. As with anything in life, the greater the challenge, the greater the reward.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Snow bunnies


When we were dating Jason told me that his dream was to have all his kids learn to snowboard. Some people may dream of their kids graduating from Harvard or becoming doctors, but here at the Young household we like to aim high and shoot for the stars. This big dream of his is starting to play out just as he had planned. This is the first time our whole family was on the mountain together, unless you count when Maddox was a baby and Jason strapped him into a hiking backpack and headed down the mountain before getting busted by the ski patrol. Not one of our finer judgement calls in parenting. In our defense, he did have a helmet. This time we were all legitimately on the mountain. This was also Maddox's first time on a board, our first time boarding in New Zealand and our first time boarding in August. It was a good day of firsts. Maddox picked it up really well. I didn't have high hopes, considering his lack luster approach to anything that resembles a sport. Truth be told, he was probably most excited about wearing the snow clothes. But there were no tears, no big wrecks and nothing but a huge grin. He was pretty proud of himself. He already requested that I forward the video footage to his teacher for show and tell. Ryder thought that sledding was the greatest thing since sliced bread with peanut butter and jelly on top. He reminded me of the boy on A Christmas Story who could barely walk in his puffy clothes, but at least he stayed warm. The ski field ("resort" is a little too generous) was perfect. And by perfect I mean we'll take anything. It is nothing like the ones in Utah, it is super tiny but was just right for our family. Kylie and Jayden could go off on their own while Jason worked with Maddox and I stayed with Ryder. Jason and I took a few runs with the older kids and I was impressed with how well Kylie and Jayden have picked it up. I'm usually home with the baby while Jason takes them so I've only seen videos, and they are even more impressive in person. Some days I'm not quite ready to come to grips with fact that we're done having babies, but days like this get me excited as our future begins to open up to so many more opportunities like this as a family.  Jason likes to sit next to me and make fun of me as I type, so I'll wrap this up with his commentary. Pretty embarrassing to admit, but he sorta nailed it. "We whisked away to the mountain as the wind blew through my extensions. Ryder cried but then we saw a rainbow and I knew the day would be good. As I snuggle in bed with the rain pouring down. I pinch myself. I'm in New Zealand." And now I feel the need to apologize for any and all cheesy material that I post. I can't promise it won't happen again, but I'll try.




So this is the entire ski field. Sledding on the left, bunny slope on the right, one "advanced" lift (I'm using that term very loosely) and one beginner's lift in the front.



Maddox was getting so sweaty with all the layers, but he refused to take anything off. He had to look the part.





Little baby chicklet teeth make me weak in the knees. I always get so sad to see those perfect tiny teeth fall out and get replaced by yellow, gnarled, jagged adult teeth. One of life's many tragedies.






I kinda got a thing for Jason when he's all decked out in his gear. And then seeing him do his dad thing while in his gear just makes me drool. And then want to have ten more of his babies.









Cutest little shredders. They make their dad proud. And mom.



And how can you keep a straight face with a tow rope in your crotch? I think it's high time they invested in some actual chair lifts. I mean seriously. That can not be comfortable.


It can also make for some awkward invasion of personal space moments if you're going up with a stranger.


The kids never wrecked going down the mountain, but going up was a different story, these things take some getting used to.


It was weird seeing these huge tropical-ish birds running around on the snow.



I'm not sure if this was the super moon or not, but it looks pretty supa to me. And of course I have to say it...it was a super ending to a super day. See, I told you, you just can't stop the cheese.