Monday, November 22, 2010

Birthday WEEK!

I know the green boogie is a little too much information, but it's a sad truth that we've all passed around that lovely changing-of-the-seasons cold even during birthday week! Stephen, Ian and I all have birthdays to celebrate within 5 days. I'm the lucky one with the job of planning "sufficient celebrations" for the three of us while still leaving room in our budget for Christmas and anniversary in December. Lucky for us, Brooklyn has been cheerleading our every candle-blowing, red-plate-using event without too much jealousy. She creatively finds ways to steal the show, I mean participate in all the fun. The morning of Ian's b-day, I told her that I was bringing cupcakes to the stroller group. As I was gathering stuff up, she came out dressed to party, like so. She is a barrel of laughs, that girl!
Ian's b-day got the biggest formal recognition on his b-day this year because we went as a family, on his b-day, to the Children's Museum in downtown San Diego. It was our first time, and we were not disappointed. I'm cracking up at the thought that Stephen is probably wearing the EXACT same work outfit as he sported last year at Ian's b-day. Can you tell he took a short break from his workday to celebrate with us?
These chariots were fun!
Brooklyn was in heaven with crafts galore! Here she's learning how to create a birdhouse.
There was some artwork on display on that tree. So cute and crafty, yet super modern looking in the building.
Outdoors, Ian and Lilly (cousin) played with clay. My sister, her two girls, and my mom joined us there at the museum, THANKS GALS! I'm loving that tradition they started last year of coming down to celebrate with Ian on his big b-days!
This was the rain house. There was water sprinkling up from the roof, then running down to the drains which then recycled the water back up through the sprinkler system on the roof. It made a cool sound inside and the kids had these big puzzle mats to play with inside of the house.
Ian and his grandma checked out the Trojan horse.
They also gave the climbing wall a whirl.
Stephen and Brookie created a flying turkey out of paper cups.
Ian and Lilly near the felt wall with Nienie
The outdoor bubble station
The artist at work
Good-bye! We'll be back soon!
Ian thought he was sooo cool sticking his legs into these holes in the sidewalk where the trees stood.
The tool belt.
And the harmonica that he couldn't part with
Happy Birthday, big guy!

Abby's 4th B-day

It was so fun to celebrate Abby's birthday at her Cinderella party. Christy (Abby's mom) was so sweet to include both of my kids on the invite and in her planning of the goody bags. Brooklyn got Cinderella stuff while Ian's trinkets were all Mickey Mouse. The Cinderella cake was so delicious! I ate the whole chunk that was sent home for the family to "share." Oops!
I am cracking up at the progression of Ian's faces in these pictures.
There's our birthday girl in front! It was a beautiful day at the park by the beach.
Sometimes Brooklyn is a little too helpful in unveiling the gift despite my many reminders to "Step away from the present," and "Let Abby open her own gift, please!"

New Arrival

Here he is, the newest arrival to the Thack Shack! Congratulations, Maren and Brian! Brooklyn insisted that I take a picture of this little guy when I went and visited him for the first time since she couldn't come with me. Brian and Maren used to be Brooklyn's sunbeam teachers, now they get to be first time parents, Yay!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Halloween Under the Sea

Please excuse my shiny-ness. Ursala was fresh from the ocean I guess! Sorry Stephen, next year I will really try harder to get your costume done. In the meantime, we just have to pretend that there was a USC fan in The Little Mermaid movie. Stephen, the fan, was the man behind the camera and therefore was not pictured here. :( Usually that's my job, right?
Here I'm wrangling the kids and you can see my tentacles better. I credit Stephen with the creation of my shell necklace. I had the shell but couldn't find a way to connect it to a string. He got a Halloween necklace from the kids trick-or-treat bag, and I was able to wedge the plastic Frankenstein pedent up into the shell to hold the weight of the shell.
The picture above wasn't the greatest of the kids, but I like how it shows the cool backdrop that was created for our ward trunk-or-treat party. The activities committee got all high-tech this year and had a photographer who put the pictures up on some website that everyone can see. (Once I get that website address from Stephen, I'll do one of those nifty little "click here" links.) The next photo is better of the kids faces, but the color is off. These, by the way, are NOT the professional ones.
My personal favorite family theme this year was the family who dressed as characters from the movie UP. Sister Gemlich - oh my stinkin' creative and ambitious - was KEVIN! Please tell me you've all seen the movie! The life-size costume of that bird was AMAZING!
She used a bunch of feather boa's to cover the body (a pillow case, sinched at the top) and the neck and face were made out of paper mache! Genius! Pictured above are Russel the boyscout, Kevin the bird, Carl the 83-year old grandpa (and his walker with tennis balls in the background), and Dug the dog.
In the picture below, you can see an airbender in the background. This costume was made by my friend Aurora. The Airbender's (Aurora's son) is our friend Ezra. Do you remember the picture of the big brown-eyed baby Lorenzo a few posts back? Ezra is his big brother.
Next we have Emilee who created a basketball with her belly. The coolest thing is that this (unbeknown to her at the time) was her last day of being pregnant! She gave birth the very next day on Halloween! What a trooper! She makes being pregnant look so easy!
Flounder saying, "Trick or Treat?" (The head piece was too small to close in the front even though I made the largest size and only sewed tiny seams.
The back view of Flounder. Oops! I forgot too add another fin on top.
This next little guy is Keaton dressed as a jockey! My friend Michele had a cute hat that she wanted to use for a jockey costume. We brainstormed how to make Keaton a silky jocky shirt and she ended up picking up 3 different silky clothes from a thrift store. We then pieced them together on a onsie. Shona, the dog, played the prize-winning horse.
I just couldn't believe how creative people got this year! We had the Flinstone family, a ship of Vikings, a blue angel jet, conversation hearts, Rocky (the boxer), Dorothy and the scarecrow and lion from Oz, all show up to trunk-or-treat. It was a feast for the eyes! I couldn't stop gawking and staring and asking questions. Consequently, my pictures are a little lacking, sorry! (That, and Ursula didn't come together 'till after the party started. Another story entirely...)

Goodbye All-Saints!

Brooklyn just completed a short two-month stent at All-Saints Preschool. We only lasted that long because All-Saints began in September, while the high school preschool, which had us on the waiting list, didn't begin until November. The high school preschool called us late September to notify us that we were in, so we had to give our month's notice at All-Saints, and we were sad to say goodbye. The highschool preschool begins in November and there are only 12 students that they accept each year. The class is a lab for a high school class that is learning about child development. The perks of the high school preschool is that it is much much more affordable, even though All-Saints was the next least expensive option. Another thing is that to go the "economy" route, we only signed up for two days a week at All-Saints while we're going to the high school four days a week now, and are still paying less than half the price.
Even though I sometime teased Brooklyn about the very loose academic structure at All-Saints, the staff was so warm and friendly. The administrator would greet all of the children by name every day as they all filed through her office to go to their various rooms. Also, the teachers would wait by their doors with a smile on their faces in the morning and the same pleasant expression after three hours with 12 preschoolers a piece. (Come to think of it, I believe I smiled biggest when I taught school at the magical moment at the end of the day! Oops! Did I just write that?)
Here is Mrs. Preston. She is wonderful. I can tell she has a great love for the children because she listens to their dialogue during freeplay and sometimes relays funny conversations to me when I'd come to pick up Brooklyn. Also, she received the highest rating of approval from Brooklyn on the day when Brooklyn had a little accident.
The accident? you say. Yes. It all happened one day when I picked up Brooklyn from class and noticed she was wearing a different skirt and socks. I immediately knew the unthinkable had happened. I was so embarassed for her and for me. 'How could this happen?' I thought. 'She never has accidents at home. This is toddler stuff. What on earth?' All of this raced through my mind in a matter of seconds, and then I proceeded to sort of remind/nag her to not wait 'till the last minute, etc., etc. while the whole time, Mrs. Preston was trying to sooth it over like it was no big deal. After talking to another friend of mine, I realized that this is not uncommon for kids to have accidents in a first school-type setting because they are not always certain of the procedure, how/when to ask the teacher or just leave the room/playground and go independently. So, I finally settled into the taste of humble pie, and to top it off was this crowning comment of Brooklyn's, "I like Mrs. Preston because she never gives mean faces and she never puts me in time-out." It was a double hit to my parenting self-esteem that day. I then realized that Mrs. Preston is exactly what a good preschool teacher should be, someone who really cares about the child (not that I don't care about my child, you know) but who sees things in perspective and tries to make the kids feel comfortable even when they have really embarrassing moments. When Brooklyn had her accident, Mrs. Preston just discretely escorted her away from the scene and changed her clothes without making Brooklyn feel bad at all. She was comforting and kind and I so appreciated that! I guess I just got all caught up in my parenting pride and basically had to take a chill pill! We will miss you Mrs. Preston!

Big Ham and Coy Boy

Aren't pictures worth a thousand words? Ian is SO difficult to photograph! He does NOT cooperate!

I hope this isn't a preview of teenage years to come. (I think I've said that about his older sister too.)

My How They've GROWN!

I'll have to find an old picture of these two way back as babies. It's crazy that these were the first two McKendrick cousins of their generation, and now they seem so BIG! Caden's in first grade, and is too cool to hug his mom when she drops him off at school!
If that day ever comes for me, I think I'll cry! Wait a minute, on second thought, I'll probably do something really embarrassing that will get ALL of my child's friends' attention so that next time my child will just hug instead of risk the other alternative. (I am so my Dad! Yikes!)
Anyway, back to pumpkin patch, no back to hugging! Caden used to run up to me and give me big "Aunt Desi" hugs, but nowadays, he's reluctant. Caleb hasn't outgrown them yet. Ian sometimes punks me out though. I'll ask him for a hug, and when he gives me the "no" look, Brooklyn will run over and give me a hug. Thank you, Brookie!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friendship Brings Happiness

Here's a little taste of how lucky we were this month: we got a surprise visit from some of our favorite friends, the Southwicks, who moved up to Monterey a few months ago.
Gabe, (not a Southwick) helped us decorate Halloween sugar cookies too. It felt like old times. We decorated cookies, (thank you very much, Lori), ate at Red Robin, hung out, and made a shopping trip to Mission Valley. Aaah! Life was good!
Another day, we were fortunate to have a few extra visitors romping around for our first turn at the co-op babysitting. We had a blast! Here the kids were dancing to some music.
Below is the only scene I snapped on camera from our recent ward camp-out. We went on an overnighter near Palomar Mtn. I was a better sport and actually went this year instead of sending Stephen and one of the children. Yes, it was a terrible night's sleep, yes the gnats were out in full force, and yes all our gear begged to be rid of lingering campsmoke when we returned, but it was worth the memories of singing off-key round the campfire, getting super sticky s'more fingers and feeling around in the dark for baby wipes, having your children eat more potato chips than anything else at dinnertime, and "holding it" as long as possible in the morning to avoid getting out of the tent and into the outhouse. Despite popular belief, Desirae Badger can muster "roughing it" with children for one night with a good attitude despite her neat-and-control-freakish ways. And it was genuinely fun. I didn't even have to try or pretend that I was enjoying. Really though, there is something uplifting and spiritual about breathing and sleeping in the wilderness. Aaaah.
Soooo, now that it's said and done, I think that I can check my "family campout" off the list for this year. :)
And I do apologize to my children that I'm not as fun as most other parents, especially Jana and David who plan their own super fun family campouts without the help of the ward activities committee. I am making strides though.


is what Stephen should be.