Reason #5,064 why I love my in-laws

Each spring I have great ambition to grow a garden. But for one reason or another, the glorious garden that I have planted (in my imagination) dies. Instead of being too sad about it (especially since I hate weeding) I find consolation in the fact that I will be able to ransack the amazing, uber-producing garden of Dave’s parents.

This year, the tomatoes were late coming on. My father-in-law blamed it on the different way he had planted them (without staking them). Turns out, it was just because they had a slow start this spring. Now we have tomatoes coming out of our ears.

I think a garden fresh tomato with s & p is one of my top five favorite foods. I could eat them all day long. And I would, if I didn’t get such horrible (pregnancy related) heartburn.

Last week my in-laws dropped off a huge basket of tomatoes for us. Glorious, garden fresh tomatoes.

It is pure torture that I am not able to eat as many as I would like. I have to say, it’s a good thing I’m well stocked with Target brand Tums all over the house. A really good thing.

A drive up the canyon

EVERYONE here is talking about the amazing colors up the canyon.

“You are sure to miss out if you don’t go SOON!” said everyone.

It got to the point where we felt we would be anti-everyone if we didn’t participate in the viewing of the fall colors up the canyon. So we caved to the peer pressure. Monday night, we packed a little picnic dinner, I grabbed my camera, and we headed east.

sundanceGirlsColdHugging

One thing we didn’t anticipate is how much cooler the air is up there. I know you are thinking, “well, duh.” And you are right. Our girls were freezing and Inez said, more than once, that she was going to turn into an icicle. This was the first bit of evidence that perhaps, we are not the world’s greatest parents (more on this later). We tried to convince the girls that they could warm each other up “with constant hugs,” but they gave up after one.

The girls hammed it up for the camera,

sundanceGirlsSillyFaces

for which they were bribed with some sugar cookies. Inez was loving hers…

sundanceInezCookie

…until she dropped it. And cried. Dave and I laughed while I snapped away (this is the additional evidence I mentioned earlier).

sundanceInezCryingOverCooki

Gwen tried to give Inez her cookie as a consolation.

sundanceGwenGivingInezCooki

But Inez would not be consoled. Poor Gwenie was left a bit confused.

sundanceGwenLeftConfused

A little later, Gwen experienced pure delight when we put her on top of the car to take her picture.

sundanceGwenOnCar

When it was her turn, Inez cried, again. Apparently, she has a fear of heights. Dave and I scoffed as I took more pictures (…and piled on even more incriminating evidence).
sundanceInezCryingOnCar

Now, before anyone goes reporting us to CPS, I thought I should provide some proof that Inez isn’t always crying/terrified/in the depths of despair.

sundanceInez

Anyway, for what it’s worth, the colors are remarkable. If you live in the area and haven’t seen them, put it on the top of your list of things to do. EVERYONE is doing it. Plus, your children will remember it (and possibly be scarred) forever.

fallColorsSundance

Five things I learned this weekend

  1. The enormous, impossible, terrifying kitchen project involving removing an overhead cabinet and finishing a final coat of paint—the project that I’ve been putting off for months—turned out to be, um, not at all enormous, impossible, or terrifying. It was actually quick, pretty easy, and kind of fun. How embarrassing.
  2. My wife has super human food-preparation abilities. She’s eight months pregnant and she just whipped up two home-made lasagnas and a birthday cake for twenty-plus people. And she did it all in half an hour. At least it seemed like half an hour. It was half an hour, wasn’t it, Holly? Twenty minutes, maybe? Something like that.
  3. She also has a… (how do you say sweet spirit without saying sweet spirit?) um… delicious soul? I can’t figure out how to say this without oozing mushy cheese. I’ll just say that she shared a lovely, heart-felt testimony today in church. I was struck by what a beautiful person she is outwardly and inwardly.
  4. She’s also one of those people that gets up in church to bear her testimony and is already crying before she reaches the podium. How embarrassing.
  5. I am not one of those people. I almost never cry when bearing my testimony. But I apparently am one of those people that gets a little—A LITTLE—choked up during Matthew McConaughey’s over-the-top cheesy speech at the end of Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. A little. He just loves his brother so much.

Christmas in September

It turns out that Dave’s four hours spent putting together a 196 piece kitchen play set was totally worth it.

I feel the same way about my kitchen—running out to it every morning, eager to cook and do the dishes with sleep in my eyes and a serious case of bedhead. She must have gotten it from me.

It’s ok

Lately, I’ve been feeling stressed. I’ve been stressing out.

About my job. About money. About the lack of money. About unfinished freelance projects. About soon-to-be-started freelance projects. About registering my unregistered car. About installing a sprinkler system in the dirt patch that is our front yard. About finally finishing the fence I started to put up at the beginning of the summer. About putting up rain gutters. About painting the house. About painting the kitchen. About reflooring the kitchen. About fixing the creak in the kitchen floor. About fixing the creak in every floor. About all the rest of the endless amounts of remodeling work that still needs to be done before our home could be considered anything other than condemned. About the baby on the way. About the bills on the way. About the end of summer. About the beginning of being old.

About everything.

You never do this, do you?

But then, tonight, just before her bed time, I happened to notice little Gwen. Our just-turned-three-year-old Gwen. She was sitting on her bedroom floor, playing with her miniature family of plastic toy people. She sat there, peering into their tiny house, quietly humming and chirping and speaking out little people parts to herself (in her perfect sing-songy voice) while she moved their pudgy forms in and out of their tiny rooms.

She was there, on the shabby carpet of her tiny creaky-floored room, completely content, completely free, and beaming.

Which made me remember something.

Why is that so easy to forget?

Fire Club

First off, let it be known that I have a terrible memory. Anything that happened more than an hour ago might as well have occurred in the 70s as far as my brain is concerned. Accurately recalling an incident from more than a few years ago is close to impossible for me.

Holly, on the other hand, has a bionic memory. She remembers songs that were playing on the radio during specific stretches of seven year-old road trips. She remembers movies playing in the background of conversations we had back when we were dating. She remembers everything.

Which is great for me, mostly because it means that I don’t need to remember the names of any of the people at church. As long as I stay within whisper-distance of her on Sundays, I’m fine.

The first rule of Fire Club is you don't blog about Fire Club.

Then again, here I am, a few sentences into this post and I can already tell that I’m going to have to post a slew of fact-correcting updates to it once she reads my attempt to reminisce on events from way-back-when.

No matter. Let’s see what my faulty memory hole can come up with first. We’ll worry about whether or not any of it is true later.

Ahem.

Holly, me, and friends at a Fire Club outing. We look like 13-year olds.

Holly, me, and friends at a Fire Club outing. We look like 13-year olds.

A hundred years ago, back before Holly and I were married, we used to attend a monthly-ish outdoor get-together with a few friends. It was called Fire Club and it always involved a fire. Genius, right?

It seems like our friends, Kelly and Erin, were the originators, the organizers, the evangelists behind Fire Club, but like all other statements in this post, that may not be true.

Holly and I only attended a handful of Fire Club get-togethers and even though every time we went I didn’t know most of the people there, I loved going. Fire Club was just laid-back, chatty, and fun. Simple. Just friends and conversation around a camp fire.

It's not a club without a bright orange t-shirt, right?

I always talked about designing t-shirts for the club, but I never got around to it. Until now. Since it seems I’m all about producing these days, I’ve finally gotten around to designing them.

If you are interested, you can check them out on Peabody, my online t-shirt shop (please ignore the now-silly “Max Hall: Heisman Winner!” t-shirts and the no-longer-feasible “BYU: B.C.S. buster!” t-shirts).

Now we just need to revive the club. Anyone interested?

Assuming, of course, that the club ever existed in the first place. It did, didn’t it?

Holly?

someone had a birthday

Gwen has been talking about her 3rd birthday for the last month.  This is probably due to the fact that her older sister cannot stop talking about her birthday/what kind of birthday party she wants, even though her birthday isn’t until December.

So Gwen’s day finally arrived.  She shares her birthday with her Aunt Liz, so we had a little family dinner/birthday party, which was a lot of fun.  The disappointment of the night for me was that I realized the birthday cake I made looked like a lame large donut. The disappointment for Gwen was that her favorite gift she got (a play kitchen) wasn’t going to be assembled that same night.

In fact, Dave is working on it right now and has probably been at it for about two hours.  He keeps telling me that it is the complete opposite of anything you buy and put together from Ikea, so I just keep telling him that I’m sorry.  If I had known that there were going to be a total of 42 pieces and 154 screws, I wouldn’t have bought it.

Today, Gwen hosted a few of her friends for a birthday/tea party.  I have to say that tea parties are the perfect birthday parties for little girls.  They are occupied for most of the time at the table which is nice for me because I always have a pretty hard time thinking of games or activities for birthday parties.  Plus it’s just so fun and feminine!  I think I enjoy it as much as the little girls.

The disappointment for me today though was, once again, the cake.  I ran out of frosting, and could not find any white chocolate covered oreos for the polka dots, so I had to improvise, making my own. They are totally wonky looking. Seriously, I either need to either start making more cakes for practice, or do a trial run before the day of the actual birthday party.  Today’s cake wasn’t as disastrous as the infamous Barbie cake of 2006, but it wasn’t as successful as I thought it would be.

Gwen also got a few tubes of lip gloss. Nothing makes that girl happier than lip gloss. And no matter how many times I try to “help her,” she can’t seem to remember to apply it to her lips instead of her face.

Dave and I can hardly believe that our baby girl is no longer a baby (nor has she been for quite sometime), but is a three-year-old. Where does the time go? She is crazy, loud, silly, fun and a blithe little spirit. We are so glad that our Gwendo is part of our family.

Contest winner!

First of all, I want to thank everyone who participated in my first Sugar Pea giveaway. I will definitely be holding more giveaways in the future. Also, thanks to all of your kind words and compliments. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when someone likes my stuff as much as I do!

Now the exciting news: the winner is ~j. of formerly phread! Congratulations on winning such a fabulous prize. Be sure to email me your address (hollylesue [at] gmail [dot] com) so I can get your apron off to you, pronto!

I also wanted to address my feelings for this time of year that is upon us. Autumn is easily my favorite time of year, and I know I’m not alone here. I think it was probably my Mom who instilled in me a love for the seasons. She was raised on a ranch in Idaho, so she taught us to love the vibrant colors of the changing leaves, the big fluffy white clouds, and spring flowers, just to name a few.

But when I was growing up, we lived in Anaheim, California where there isn’t much season changing seen by the untrained eye. She would always point out to us that the only place in town where you could tell it was fall was at the public library, as it had been landscaped with trees that actually changed with the seasons.

Now that I live in Utah, I have really grown to love and appreciate the changing seasons. At the end of August I anxiously start looking to the mountains for the changing leaves. My excitement increases as the colors creep down the mountain and into the neighborhoods throughout September and October.

As I drove up to Rock Canyon a few days ago for a closer look, I got a little too excited. I kept telling the girls to look at the changing colors of the leaves on the mountain. I kept asking “Aren’t they so pretty?!”

Maybe a drive through the Alpine Loop—so that they can see the colors up close and personal—will help them see that their Mom is just a fall fanatic (and not a lunatic).

Each September, I’m found re-reading Martha Stewart’s Halloween publications and eating pumpkin candies as if they were going out of style. Seriously. I think I’m on my fifth bag.

When this time of year approaches, I find myself thinking of all the things about it that make me giddy—brand new school supplies, baking, cooler mornings and evenings, discussions and plans for this year’s Halloween costumes, chocolate chip pumpkin cookies, BYU football (yes, even after their humiliating loss last Saturday), General Conference, baking, falling leaves for the girls to play in, apple cider (hot or cold), soup, visiting pumpkin patches, carving pumpkins, holiday movies, sweater weather, hot chocolate, decorating the house for all three upcoming holidays, and baking. I just want to drink it all in, as Anne (with an ‘e’) says, and savor these days.

So perhaps you can imagine the shock I felt when I spied this jolly old elf just last week on the porch in a nearby neighborhood. I think it might be considered a sin of some sort.

Plastic Santa? Check. Christmas lights? Check. Snow shovel? Check. WAY too early for any of this? SUPER CHECK.

As our girls would say, “What the!?”

‘ave a laff on us

If you are confused by the title of this post, see here.

inezGooglyEyes

Now after you have laughed at Ricky Gervais, “ave a laff” at our two girls and the silly things they do with googly eyes. We certainly had a good one.

gwenGooglyEyes

In fact, every time I see the pictures I still laugh.

Teddy Bear Panda Masks

Inez, our ever-industrious five-year-old, got very excited this morning when she  heard that she would be accompanying Holly to Rock Canyon park tomorrow. Too excited. Holly mentioned that she would be selling some of her aprons there and Inez’s eyes grew wide.

Editor’s note: read yesterday’s post for details on Holly’s offering in the park.

“Can I sell something at the park too?!”

“Sure honey,” I said. “What do you want to sell?”

She thought for a moment and said, “Panda masks for teddy bears!”

Let me (try to) explain. Last night, after I had put her down for the night, and as I was closing her door, Inez called out, “Dad? Will you make a mask for Sally Bear?”

I paused. “A mask for your teddy bear? Um… ok. What kind of mask does Sally want?”

Quickly, as if I had somehow implied otherwise, she answered, “NOT a clown mask, Dad.”

“Oh.” I said, a bit confused, “Sure, hon. No clown masks, I promise.”

Thinking out loud, she considered a few possibilities, “Dolphin? Hmm. Unicorn? Maybe. Panda? Hmm… YES! A panda mask, Dad. Sally wants a panda mask.”

Why yes, this is a teddy bear panda mask.

Why yes, this is a teddy bear panda mask.

Let’s pause for a moment to review.

My daughter has asked me to make a panda bear mask for her stuffed brown bear to wear. Apparently, a dolphin or unicorn mask would have been acceptable, but a clown mask is out of the question and I might be in trouble for bringing it up. Even though I didn’t.

“Ok, honey. Sure. We can make it in the morning.”

So, fast-forward with me back to this morning. Inez not only wants to create a panda mask intended for teddy bears, she now wants to manufacture and sell them to a broad audience. She’s starting to think big.

“Dad! We could sell them! We could take the money and go to Disneyland.”

“How much would you charge for them?” I asked.

“One hundred.” she said.

“Dollars?” Holly and I asked in unison.

“Yes.” she said, firmly.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. That’s too much, right?

Don’t worry. Since then, Holly and I have talked her down to 10 cents a mask. Inez drives a hard bargain though; before she would settle, I had to agree to create another bear mask for her to sell alongside the panda.

What will this second mask intended for teddy bears be, you ask?

A face only a five-year-old entrepreneur could love.

A face only a five-year-old entrepreneur could love.

“Frankenstein, Dad. For Halloween.” She said while raising her eyebrows and palms, neatly communicating “Duh!” without having to come out and say it.

So, there you have it. Inez will be selling Panda and Frankenstein teddy bear masks for 10 cents each tomorrow in Rock Canyon Park. If you’re in the market for a teddy bear mask, I invite you to consider purchasing one of hers.

In fact, you might want to pick one up early in the day. There’s no telling how long it will be before she raises the price back to one hundred dollars.

Also, just so there’s no confusion on this point: there will be NO clown teddy bear masks for sale tomorrow. None.

What’s that? You want a template so that you can make these teddy bear masks from the comfort of you own home? Alright, fine then.