Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy Birthday Charla!

It is my mother-in-law's birthday in just a few hours (in South Africa time). To celebrate, I have caught up on my past blogging for her reading pleasure. So feel free to read through and enjoy but remember, they aren't really for you. They are for Charla. Not you. Charla.

Happy birthday from all of us!

Love, Jon, Kacey, Scarlet, Rhode, and Asher;.

Valentines Day

I believe we have officially created Valentine's Day traditions. Last year, we threw together a last minute FHE activity by drawing Valentines for each other. My kids have been begging to make valentines every Monday since that day. When I told them the Monday they had impatiently waited for all year was finally here, the excitement was palpable. I think we have our V-Day winning combination.

Our morning started with red heart pancakes with strawberry sauce and ended with our card crafting.

Everyone took it very seriously.

Asher did less coloring and more getting colored on but still felt loved.

Aunt Kristy was in town for a visit (best week of my life by the way. It has been a really long time since I got to spend that much one on one time with my sister) and even made a few valentines herself.

Jon, ever the creator/perfectionist, was coloring long after the rest of us had wrapped up.

And the final product! This is the one I created for Scarlet. My designs may be simple but they are effective and appreciated. I am gonna call it a winner.

Scarlet was so excited to read us her card all by herself.

This is the card Scarlet made for me.

All of her people these day wear crowns and puffed sleeves. I kind of love them.

Rhode made me this beauty. If you will remember, last year his valentine to his sister consisted of three red lines. The improvement is pretty dramatic.

He showed me in church the other day that he had learned to write "mom". I was totally impressed.

And this is the card Kristy made for me. I kind of love it a lot.

And then there were Jon's valentines. His must always be posted last as to not make the rest of ours look as pathetic as they really are.

Here is his card to Rhode.

And his card to me. He claims Rhode bumped him at the crucial moment of drawing my face, thus creating my pointy and manly appearance. When he saw I was posting it, he apologized once again and promised this is not how he thinks I actually look.

And, like every good family home evening, good treats are required.

Family traditions - Check.

Preschool Dilemma

I really had no idea I would find preschool perplexing. After 14 years of my own schooling, I thought I would be an excellent preschool mom. Instead, I find myself full of questions, the overwhelming one being how many times can I bug the preschool teacher with my million questions before she starts to dread my presence?

If I was less concerned with annoying her to death, here are a few of the many questions I would bombard her with.

First, when you send home an assignment meant for mom and daughter to complete together what is the correct percentage of participation? 90 for her and only 10% for me? More of a 50/50 deal? Or is this a chance for me to show off how good I am at preschool homework?

For my first joint homework assignment, I gave it some thought and went with a 80/20, Scarlet carrying the bulk of the idea and workload. Scarlet was given a little paper person to cut out and design to look like the career she wanted to have as an adult.

I used my first ten percent of help vetoing a few ideas. First she wanted to be a princess. Veto. Then, she wanted to be a waitress because she is, and I quote, "so good at bringing people food!" After discussing how difficult it might be to represent a waitress on our paper person, she decided a chef would be a good choice.

My next ten percent went to cutting out some chef-like additions to her person - a chef's hat, an apron and an oven mitt. I offered to help her make a fancy apron but she decided her coloring skills were sufficient for the whole project. It was simple but I was proud of her final product.

And I kept my motherly pride until the teacher posted all of the career people up on the wall at school for all to see. As I stared and compared, my first thought was, "my mom would be so disappointed if she saw this wall."

Here are a few examples for ya.

I think I might have underestimated my parent percentage...

My friend Mindy, who designed the adorable mermaid, said mine won the award for the most child involvement. I am not sure that was a compliment.

I asked Kristy to snap the photos of the career people for me without telling her which one was Scarlet's.

"Was it the vet?"


"Was it the princess?"

Nope. Vetoed that one.

"Umm.... was it one we took a picture of?"


"The chef? Seriously?"

Thanks for the support.

My second question has many subsections but starts with the question, "Seriously? Standardized testing for preschool?"

The teachers made it very clear to parents that, per the rules of the test, they had to mark the test with the results of how they performed that day. They couldn't go off previous experience. For example, if they knew the child could write their name but refused to do it the day of the test, they had to mark that they didn't know how to write their name.

Here are Scarlet's results.

She tested very well, only getting three no's. One was that she didn't know her phone number and address. No further explanation needed. The other two though...

#7 - Able to distinguish fantasy from reality.... no.

Oh the myriad of questions I have about this one. The moms and I brainstormed as to what they might have asked our children to determine this.

Is Santa/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy real?

Will you someday become a princess?

Are there really fairies/unicorns/mermaids?

What really concerned me is all of Scarlet's other friends (that I am aware of) got a yes on this question.

I learned later that the question they asked was "Is Spongebob real or pretend?"

Did my child just get marked down in school because she doesn't have cable?

And then there was #8 - Sometimes demanding, sometimes cooperative. On this one there was a handwritten note that said, "Always Cooperative" and it was marked no.

So... she is not always cooperative?

Or not demanding enough?

Turns out she is not demanding enough. I guess there is a normal level of demanding that is expected out of a preschooler and Scarlet is just too agreeable.

They are testing them again at the end of the year... should we be practicing more demanding behavior?

After much contemplation, I have decided what I really need is a mom report card. How would you rate my participation? My teacher gifts? Your view of my home by the random stories my daughter is surely telling? How can I improve for the Kindergarten teacher?

Is there any extra credit?

Asher - The Baby Years

Didn't I just have a baby? Sheesh, remember when six months seemed like a long time? In a 24 hour period my baby who I swear was just a newborn was somehow able to flip himself off the couch (don't worry I caught him), put a shiny object in his mouth that I had to then fish out, and pull himself to standing.

Do I have any timeouts left?

I was so overwhelmed by his babyhood flying before my eyes I immediately grabbed out the camera and started snapping pictures, hoping to freeze time for just a moment or two.

And I discovered a new trick. Asher loves the camera. If the camera is out, his smile is on. So here are a million baby smiles and his behind the scene tricks.

He is the happiest baby. He loves me the most but the rest of the world is deserving of smiles and a few minutes of cuddle time. Dad is second favorite and has been deemed 'baby whisperer' for his ability to get this kid to sleep no matter how snotty his nose.

He has two teeth and not the hint of anything else coming in the future. He loves these two little pearly buds. If ever there is bare skin present on anyone, he takes the opportunity to show you they are still there and still very sharp. He even gave his Aunt Kristy a vampire style neck bite just to show he cares.
He has the cutest, brightest little baby eyes. They aren't brown yet... but I am not exactly sure what color they are. We are going to go with greybluegreenhazel. Don't know what to call them but also hope they don't go anywhere.

He thinks he is such a big kid. Not only does he scoot his way around the house but he insists on being wherever his brother and sister are. If I need a few minutes off, the best way to distract him is to set him in front of our sliding glass door while the kids are playing outside. He watches them like a game of Pong as they run around the backyard and waves his little hands in the vain hope they will make him move as fast as they do.

He has also decided he would like to be eating when we are eating and preferably what we are eating as well. We definitely have another good eater. He hasn't found a food he doesn't like yet. Except for dairy... still not liking that so much but everything else is fair game and delicious.

He is my first child to regularly get the sink bath. I think it would be a combination of two factors. First, his brother and sister absolutely torture him in the bathtub so a bath for just him is very handy. And secondly, unlike previous times in my life, my sink is clean enough for a bath pretty frequently these days. Self pat on back.

I don't know what I would do without him. Other than sleep more, get more done and eat more ice cream. Hmm now that I think about it... no I will stick with the baby.


We are doing a little shifting and sorting at the Nielsen house. Our first big change, Scarlet and Rhode are now roommates.

After a week of their new arrangement, Scarlet informed me that Rhode talks a lot at night and she would rather he move back to his old room.

Sorry babe.

Our second change is one I am very excited about. Finally talked Asher into taking one of these.

He still considers it more of a fun toy that he occasionally sucks on instead of a more permanent sadness fixer but we are getting there.

And wouldn't this picture be more adorable if Scarlet were in it? She thinks so.

The third change is a calling change... for me.

I am the new 2nd counselor in the Relief Society. Yup.

Biiig changes.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


I am a big dreamer. Always have been. If I had to name the first prayer of mine that was ever answered, it would be the one where I asked not to have any more bad dreams. I don't remember what used to haunt my childhood sleep, but I remember distinctly when my dreams took a turn from the scary to the more tolerably confusing.

I don't remember every detail but I can usually give you a good summary by morning. And more than anything else, I can tell you exactly how that dream made me feel. It is usually because the emotional response is still lingering and I have to talk my body out of the false response.

The response that has regularly infested my dreams for over a decade now is guilt. I wake up feeling guilty on a frequent basis. For a girl who has tried hard to live a good life, my subconscious makes some seriously bad choices.

It all started in high school where I had two reoccurring dreams. The first, I was a smoker. The second, I was a teen mom. They were really vivid dreams and always very similar. There was more than once I would wake up from my smoker dream and my first thought would be if I had any more cigarettes. Yeah, weird.

My teen mom dreams were even worse. I never had a child, I was always just pregnant. The dream usually involved friends and family, concerned for me, asking me questions about my current predicament. I never once had an answer to who fathered my baby and on more than one occasion, I woke up wondering to myself, if only I could remember which one was the father. Seriously, so bizarre.

Then, after getting married, the dreams changed. The new theme was even more disturbing. I am often younger, late high school or early college and I am dating someone but very early on the dream I am vividly aware that I am married and I am going on this date anyway. It is always with someone not nearly as attractive as my actual spouse. And, once my subconscious remembers I am married, the guilt hits hard and sticks around all dream long.

The worst post married dream I have leaves me on the verge of tears because I feel so guilty. There is something I am not telling my husband, something about my dubious non-existent past and it is plaguing me. I wake up trying desperately to just tell Jon all about some past event that never actually happened.

And now, the reason for this post. My dreams have taken yet another turn. Still on the theme of guilt however. Now, in my dreams I eat. I show up to a party or random get together and just start eating whatever is there in very large quantities. It takes me a good several minutes of gorging myself when I remember my poor dairy-free little baby. I then spend the rest of my dreams lamenting how sad my poor child will be the next day after having to ingest all of my dairy filled foods.

I am not sure yet but there is a chance my subconscious thinks we're Catholic.