Gwen turned two on November 19th. We still had some sickness in our house, so we didn't have a big party. As it was, she enjoyed opening her four gifts (Mrs. Potato Head, 2 books, and a baby doll- plus a card from G&G Hixon) and wearing a tutu all day. She also enjoyed stuffing cake into her mouth, as pictured. We enjoyed having Mom and Dad Hixon there, as well as cousin Ericson.
Gwen is a very sweet child. She has her moments, of course. She yells like a demon monster when she thinks she is being ignored, and she freaks out when her brother gets too close to her sometimes. But she is also a singing, dancing, hugging, communicative, happy little girl. She likes all things girly and sweet. She loves books and she loves playing. She loves the park, and she is finally brave enough to go down the little slides by herself.
On to Thanksgiving...
I want to document this because Dan and I seriously had a hole in our minds where last Thanksgiving should have been. I looked to my blog to fill in the gap. NOTHING. Seriously, how did that happen? Anyhow, our memories were jogged as soon as someone reminded us that it took place at the Stecks house. Right.
So this year it was at Stephen and Rachel's. We (I) made stuffing and an apple pie. The stuffing ended up a little soggy, but it had a good flavor... and the pie was delicious. My pie is not pictured in the spread, but let it be written. I made one.
The food was delicious, the company was awesome, and Jake and Hannah fed Gwen so that I didn't have to. She would have been good with a booster seat, but we are lame and didn't bring one. Three things that I loved were the personalized letters we got at our place setting from a member of the S&R Hixon family (mine was from Jake, and it was so sweet), the cork "thankful" tree that you can sorta see in the above picture (More than one of their children is thankful for the show "Lost"), and the chalkboard featuring a scripture on gratitude (it looked like they changed the scripture at least a few times this month).
(This is Gwen getting love from Hannah and Grandma.)
Lastly, I was shocked by something Asher said today.
He really seems like he is never listening. Sometimes he asks "What you said?" and I have to repeat myself at least three times before he actually tries to listen to the answer. So today I told Gwen to be patient about something, and Asher turned to her and said, "Yeah Gwen. Don't you remember about patience from Family Night? You have to wait and wait with a smile on your face." I was astounded. I hardly remember that lesson, and I really doubted he was understanding it, but it must have gotten into that brain of his somehow.
Now if he could just show her patience by example... that would be something.
I'm slightly addicted to Pinterest, but that is not the website I am going to talk about. I discovered this new fun website through Pinterest though, so it should get a mention.
I love Disneyland. I love Pixar. I love Disney movies. I also love fashion. So of course I would love Disneybound. I love the idea of putting together an outfit based on a character, a movie, or even a section of Disneyland. And the way this girl does it is so understated and clever. And cute! Here are some favorites:
Based on a classic princess...
...a classic character...
...and sometimes there are more than one outfit for the same character.
Sometimes there are couples costumes! I think you could wear something like this for family pictures and nobody would ever know where your inspiration came from.
Anyway, it's awesome.
Oh! And there are Harry Potter inspired outfits as well.
If I can get myself to think this way about my clothes, I might not hate getting dressed every day.
First of all, I would like to ask... How lucky am I??
Look at how handsome Dan is. This picture was taken probably a year after we got married, and he still looks exactly like this. No wrinkles, no weight gain, no hair loss. He has some grays, but I think they are cute. You really only notice them when you are cutting his hair anyway. And not many people other than me and his mother have had that privilege.
Not only is Dan handsome, he is smart, funny, spiritual, a great dad, a fantastic photographer, and as I sit here and type about how great he is... he is doing the dishes.
We went out to Oreganos last night while Dan's sister Amy watched our kids. The food was exquisite. And we got dessert because their pazookies are the best dessert I have ever had from any restaurant ever. It was so fun to just sit and converse with him, even if the heat lamps were broken and it was super cold outside.
Dan usually makes my birthdays special. I try to reciprocate in my own way, but it is kind of hard because a) he doesn't like people to have to fuss over him and b) anything that would make him really happy would require a financial meeting between he and I, therefore eliminating the element of surprise. I had the kids make him cards, and I got him the Steve Jobs book. I got him a few articles of clothing and an itunes gift card.
And I made him this shirt.
It is kind of like Asher's shirt, but more apocalyptic and Flight of the Conchords-y. I think he liked it. I laughed as I made it.
Anyway, I love my husband. I always think about how I don't deserve him. I have definitely changed in the looks department, and I have gotten more crazy with kids. But somehow he still thinks I'm awesome. Thank goodness for love being blind, eh?
I enjoyed staying home to hand out candy while Dan enjoyed escorting our children up and down neighboring streets.
The kids enjoyed walking around in their costumes and getting free candy.
I am told that Gwen walked the entire time by herself, and she had a smile on her face although nobody knew who she was supposed to be. Maybe the pigtales threw them off. But believe me, if we would have taken them out at that point, her hair would have been crazy.
And Alice does not have crazy hair.
Anyway, Dan said that people knew that she was cute, and that is enough.
On the other hand, everyone knew who Asher was. Captain Jack Sparrow is notorious. When Asher settled on this costume, it was my dream come true.
Look at him getting into it.
All I made for his costume was his wig. I crocheted different kinds of black yarn that I had stashed in my craft closet, added a few beads, and then sewed them to the top of some pantyhose. Voila. Jack's hair.
And I finally did "finish" Averey's costume. If I wanted to invest any more time in it, it could have looked better, but honestly I was dying on this one. It was so detailed, and things kept going wrong. The fabric was too stretchy and kept getting all out of whack, the model magic dried funky and cracked, and then the resin wouldn't dry... nightmare. Anyway, this is how it turned out. If I ever make another costume like this, I now know how I will go about it.
Oh, and she was wearing my humongous petticoat just for the picture. But honestly it might look better without it.
The past week and a half have been crazy. Crazy. We dealt with sickness (mostly Dan and Gwen), wrote and gave talks in church, and just had a bunch of little responsibilities to attend to. Most of all, I was busy making stuff. I was asked to make a "freezer paper stencil" shirt to display at a homemade holidays themed activity, which I did.
Honestly, this has been on my "to do" list for a long time. My friend Jen, who is an awesome designer, gave me the high-res designs of her robot coins almost a year ago, and I finally got around to using them. That is how I roll. (See Jen's original project here.)
I put some metallic paint in with the black. I like it. Asher loves it.
I also made a Halloween costume for my girl. She looks so much like an Alice right now, I just had to try and replicate the Tim Burton movie costume.
I know where all the mistakes are, but honestly I am so happy with the way it turned out. And I entered it into a costume contest. I probably won't win, but if you want to vote for me you can click this link and help me win some cash. Until Halloween, that is, when the contest will be over. You don't have to sign up for the site if you sign in through your facebook or twitter account.
I include this picture because she looks exactly like me when I was her age. I should find an old photo and prove it.
Last but not least, I have been working on my niece's Zelda costume. The dress and the crown are done, but the armor has been giving me some trouble. I have it all molded out, but the resin coating won't dry! Frustrating. Anyway, this is the picture my niece referred me to when she asked me to make her costume.
It is a bit detailed, don't you think?? I'll post pictures of that when it is completely finished.
Today Gwen and I joined Asher's pre-school group on a field trip to Vertuccio Farms. My boy wanted to be pushed in the stroller from our car to the entrance, and then he demanded to be held as soon as he saw a bee... just a little sign of things to come. He also flipped out (and I mean on the point of tears) every time he saw a fuzzy caterpillar. I picked one up in the effort to show him that they were awesome. Asher remained hysterical and unconvinced.
This photo basically sums up the attitudes of my two children while we were there.
Gwen was so incredibly happy, I thought she might burst. Asher was probably wondering why I was torturing him. At first he thought the train ride might be fun, but then he tried to jump out just before it departed. I somehow made him accompany his sister, and he ended up liking it once it got going. He also liked the bouncy house for a few minutes, and he liked the idea of the bouncy horses. (You can almost make them out in the back of the first picture.) We tried them for a few minutes, but the kids found it hard to balance. So I ended up hanging out on the "horses" and bouncing with both kids. I'm sure I looked super cool.
The farm also had this huge thing that was a cross between a giant trampoline and a humungous jello mold. Asher liked that too. And he didn't mind the animals in cages. And he liked the "knock-a-crow-over-with-bean-bags" game because he could stand about two inches away from the crows and sometimes knock them down. We need to work on some of his athletic skills.
There was a "high striker" (you know, the thing you hit with a mallet that makes a bell ring at the top?) for kids, and one for adults. Asher had me demonstrate the little one for him, and he tried but did not do well. He lost the desire to play almost instantly, but cheered on a few other kids. I don't think he likes hitting games. He was terrible with a piñata at Sofia's birthday party as well.
The kids started looking hot and tired after a few hours. Asher asked to go home quite a few times. We didn't even go near the corn maze. But the last thing they tried before we bought two little pumpkins and took off was milking a cow. Not a real one. A pretend one.
I have no pictures of the amazing weather yesterday. Nor do I have any visual proof of our trip to the park, but it happened, and I was practically weeping with joy inside to be able to load the kids into the stroller and take them outside to play. Just to sit and talk with my friend Nancy while our children ran and jumped and played in the sand was exquisite. We didn't have to worry about our kids dehydrating or getting burned by the playground equipment. And they were so happy.
I hear that temperatures are going back up next week. Well, to use a Shakespearean term, I bite my thumb at that, Sir. But I know that the intense summer heat of the desert is finally starting to retreat.
I started this painting YEARS ago. It was my first attempt at oil painting, and it was a gift to Dan for Christmas/our anniversary/Valentine's Day... you get the picture. For the last two years I have just considered it done, although I had never signed it.
Then I was asked to put it on display for a church "talent show" night (tomorrow). Not a huge deal, but I still wanted it to be "finished."
I worked on it a bit two nights ago, and I finally felt ok about signing it. There, done.
I should note that this picture of the painting makes it look more washed out and flat than it really is. Plus in real life it is HUGE.
Tonight, after a book (WALL-E, his old favorite movie, is making a come back), scripture, and prayer... I tucked my boy in, grabbed his face, and said "Asher, I need to tell you something. Are you listening?"
"Some days are easy, huh?"
"And some days are hard."
"Yeah. Some days have bad feelings in it."
"Yeah that's true, Buddy. Some days do have bad feelings in them. But you know what?"
"I love you every day."
Asher smiled. "I love you every day too."
"Even the hard days. I love you every day."
"I love you to the moon and back."
"I love you to the sun and back!"
"No, Mom! It's not sunny, it's moony!"
"Ha! You're right. Well, I love you to infinity and beyond."
"No Mom. You have to say 'to the moon and back.'"
"Alright. I love you to the moon and back."
"I love you to the moon and back too."
PS Today at church, he told me he loved me to the temple and back.
I have performed with Dick Van Dyke... twice if you count Disneyland.
I was directed and taught by John Cleese in college. He praised my acting and my British accent.
I went to acting school with Edi Gathegi (aka Laurent from the Twilight movies)
I sang at Katy Perry's 16th birthday party.
I grew up with Ryan Mendez from Yellow Card, and he married one of my good friends. I'm pretty sure he had a crush on me for a little while in High School. I'm pretty sure he would also admit to that.
One of my friends from High School married a pro football player. Right now he's with the Cards.
I was once taken to some mystery building in New York to meet a guy that produced half of all the shows on Broadway. He had a weird elevator.
I am friends with the folks who wrote the book for Sister Act the musical (which is only the latest in a long line of accomplishments for them).
I have performed for Julia Childs, Joel Schumacher (director), Fred Couples (pro golfer), and so many other "famous" people- I've lost count.
I met Jared Leto, the guys from Jimmy Eat World (regulars at my dad's old club), Kathy Bates (oscar winner!), and I'm sure I'm leaving at least 10 more notable people off that list.
My friends from college are on TV. National commercials, spots in shows, music videos... and two of the guys from my class are currently shooting a TV movie that one of them wrote.
No, I'm not lying. But when I put it all down like that, even I don't believe it. You know what's kind of funny? I don't really care. I mean, I'm glad I've had all of those experiences... but being a mom that can't get a paying acting job to save her life right now is ok. My days aren't full of excitement, but honestly, I don't think my famous friend's days are any more exciting. And I'm building little people over here, which is amazing!
John Cleese once told me that "being famous was a f***ing bore." Please excuse his language for one moment and consider... if your life is boring, having more money or fame would NOT fix things. You would still be bored.
Every once in a while I have to remind myself of this.
And please excuse the awkward picture. It isn't super flattering for either of us, but it's all I've got.
I looked at Gwen yesterday and noticed that she is getting older. I mean, she has enough hair for pigtails, she is getting longer and bigger in general. She is no longer measuring tiny for her age. Well, except for those size 3 baby feet. And those 6 half-grown in teeth.
But she is starting to talk instead of whining for things. I love this stage in a child's life! The other day she sweetly said "Have cheese?" instead of crying and reaching at lunch. She says "that one!" and "Don't want it" (A LOT thanks to Asher) and she has said "Can I have?" for quite a while now. She knows lots of single words like belly, nose, hair, and shoes, but she is actually putting sentences together now. She loves saying all of our names, including her own. And she sings recognizable songs like "Hello, Dolly," "You are my Sunshine," and "I am a Child of God." But my favorite happened last night. She and I were playing on my bed and she put her head on my chest and said "I yov you."
Oh, my heart.
FYI: I had a birthday. I didn't post about it, but it was awesome. Dan surprised me by taking me to a nice hotel in Scottsdale for the night while our niece (and sometimes nephew) watched our kids. We went to a crazy awkward but yummy hipster place called Cowboy Ciao for dinner, we walked around the mall (but didn't even see half of it because it is HUGE) and had dessert at the Herb Box. It was great to sleep in. And then we went to a place called Dilly's Deli, then home. That is a very abridged version of what happened.
I decided to try throwing a real birthday party for Asher. Last year I did nothing, and I felt slightly bad about it. So this year I decided to invite friends and cousins over, make a cake, plan games, have a theme and decorate. The theme we (or should I say I) chose was Pirates. Arrrr!
First I had to decorate my front room pirate style, you know, with random booty hanging around. Some of it was even edible.
I might leave our light fixture like this. I kinda like it.
I made a cake. My favorite part is the candles sticking out of the sides, like oars or cannons. And before you think I'm brilliant, I must confess that I got the idea from this website.
The kids played piratey games...
Including a freeze dance game to pirate themed songs. Man, these kids can dance!
At the end of the party they looked for "buried treasure" under pillows. I just couldn't bring myself to make them go outside and dig in the actual dirt in the middle of the day. I wish I had a picture of the little burlap bags of loot I made, but you will just have to believe me when I tell you that they were way cute.
P.S. I have to include a picture of Gwen. She was a complete angel the entire time. Asher wanted her to dress up like a mermaid, but I was already in a little over my head. How do people throw big awesome parties more than once a year? I was so tired afterward!