Monday, October 26, 2009

So Big!

My dear Mary Emma, it seems so hard to believe that a year has really gone by. However, what seems even harder to imagine, is my life, without you. I love you so much my dear baby girl, but in honor of your birthday, the one thing that I love most about you is your smile.

You always seemed happy and content. Not crying for days after you were born, peacefully making the long trip from Maryland to Kansas in your first week of life. Daddy and I would look back at you and you would be quietly sleeping with your face toward the sun coming in your window.
And then you started smiling at us, and you won us over completely. A bad day would turn good with one look at you.

And then you started smiling at other people, and I began hearing from behind me in line, "Oh look, that cute baby is smiling at me." I still hear it. You are like a patch of sunshine, full of happiness, and you make the world such a better place by just being you.

You are full of life and joy.

And then you started sticking your tongue out, but that's ok, because it made all of us smile.
Who knew we would all need you so much this deployment, Camilla, Hyrum, and myself. After daddy had just left, he called and asked about you. I told him you were performing your role perfectly; healing our aching hearts with your overwhelming amount of love and joy.

Mary Emma, thank you for coming to us, and for just being you.
Happy 1st Birthday!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

All Aboard!

We recently joined the Fort Riley Homeschool group. It's great to meet to new people, and they have really neat activities, including a field trip once a month. This month's trip was to ride the old 1945 train in Abilene. Because we were a school group, tickets were only $4.00 a piece for those of us over 2 years old, and free for Mary Emma. I couldn't let an opportunity like that pass us by!

Hyrum loved riding the train. In fact the day before he asked me if it was a diesel train. Honestly, where does this kid get this stuff!

This was the origianl coal burning stove in the train's kitchen. It had been donated by the Army, and I thought the sign on it that said, "coal is money save it!" Was great! Apparently it was put on the stove in the 1930's. (The engine was from 1945, but the wooden dining car we were riding in was from 1919).

The kitchen with a view of the dining car in the background.

I though this was great, my boy looking out the window of a moving train at a train in the distance.
The kids in front of the train we rode on. The orange on the engine is the original paint.

Outside the train station

The next day (Saturday) I watched the Tilley girls all day. We went to the park to pass some time.
Mary and Sydney having a great time.

A full swing set! I thought this was great! Every swing was taken by one of our group.
Mary, Sydney, Ethne, Addison, Hyrum, Camilla

Mary's laugh.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Nutrional School Supplies, Power Pants, and Black Cat Cookies

I was thinking today, why don't they put multi-vitamins in school supplies, because it seems to me that my children prefer them to ordinary nutritional food. Camilla, give her a brand new pencil and within minutes the eraser is chewed off and ingested. Hyrum, loves licking the glue off the cap, licking the glue off his fingers, licking the glue off his papers, licking the glue off his sister's paper. Mary Emma, any crayons on the floor beware! I have lost, probably, at least two new boxes of crayons to her. And yet make them a sandwich for lunch and "I don't like that," "I'm not hungry;" of course you're not you've been snacking on school supplies all day!

You have probably heard of "power ties." Today on the way home from the store, Hyrum informed Camilla that he was wearing "power pants" which just happen to be red. You can see these amazing pants in the pictures below.

For our Home Evening Activity tonight, we made the infamous Black Cat Cookies. Infamous because they have been known to give my sister Jeanette a very bad day :). They were a lot of fun, and the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves. In my sister's defense, however, I have to say that they are quite difficult to do with little children. Hyrum did burn himself, not badly, and there was a lot of whining about whose turn, and my constant vigilance to make sure no fingers were going in the mouth, etc. I only did half the batch with them, and then finished after they were in bed.
Hyrum awaiting his turn, and Camilla doing the smash down. (Notice she is sitting on the table, which made my plastic tablecloth buckle a little, and the pan burn a hole in it.)

Just happy to watch. (Yea right! She was screaming in her chair until I pointed the camera at her.)

Putting on the cat faces. ("But mom, I just want to eat the candy corns, not put them on the cookies.")

Their cat creations, with a scary roar face from Hyrum to go with them.

My best one. I know it looks more like an angry bear than a cat, but what can I say, I'm tired.
Alright, for anyone wanting to attempt this on their own, and like I said at first, it was fun, here's the recipe:

Black Cat Cookies
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
candy corn (for eyes)
red-hot candies (for nose)

1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Roll dough into 1-1/2-in. balls. Place 3 in. apart on lightly greased baking sheets.
2. Flatten with a glass dipped in sugar. Pinch top of cookie to form ears. For whiskers, press a fork twice into each cookie. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are set. Remove from the oven; immediately press on candy corn for eyes and red-hots for noses. Remove to wire racks to cool.

News from Iraq

I though what Jacob had to say today was pretty amusing:

"I always wondered what would happen if I found myself presiding in a church meeting and also the only one who plays the piano/organ. Yesterday was that day. Since I was just called and set apart a week ago, and the calling of my two assistants is in the works, I was all by myself on the stand and then I would sit and play the hymns for sacrament meeting. I already scrubbed the group of members for those who play, so I know no one is holding out on me.

One neat thing about being with the MP’s is I get to train with them. We have a M249/M240 automatic weapons range on Wednesday and, of course, I get to shoot 200 rounds per weapon just like all the joes. "

Shooting guns and playing piano, I think he's doing quite well.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Plays and Pumpkins

We bought pumpkins the other day at the commissary. I usually like to go to a pumpkin patch and all that, but it just wasn't going to happen this year. However, Mary Emma sure loves them.

On Wednesday I took Camilla and her friend Ethne to the Opera House in downtown Junction City to see a play of The Jungle Book. We were the first ones to arrive in the theater; I sometimes forget I live in a small town and you can get places five minutes early and be just fine. Oh well, the girls loved having the run of the theater.
As you can see by the two excited girls standing there, we had balcony seats. When I ordered tickets I was shocked to find the house nearly sold out (10:00 am on a Wednesday!) and those were the best seats we could get. I figured a school must be coming, but imagine my surprise when class after class of first graders came in. The entire theater was filled with first grade classes from Junction City and Fort Riley, including, ironically, my two girls in the balcony seats. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and Camilla is still talking about it, which means it was a success.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

How we are doing

Mary Emma is growing up so much. She is now 11 months and has started talking, she says: mommy, mama, daddy, baby, hiyah (which I think is a combination of Hyrum and Camilla"s names, it's really funny because she yells it at them) and meme which is either Camilla or her blankey, or both. Before you think she's some genius child though, she's not walking yet, and both Camilla and Hyrum were walking by now. I mean she does walk, she loves walking around my chair during school and pushing the toy grocery cart, but nothing independent yet. She's killing my back, though, so we need to start pushing it. She's a third child alright, a good talker and a bad walker, "Camilla put her down!"

Autumn is here and so we feel like venturing outside again. We dedided to check out the Salina Zoo, and then go shopping. They have the coolest thing at the bear exhibit. You crawl through these tunnels and then come up in this viewing hole right in the middle of the bear cage.

Up close with a cougar.

The next day was Hyrum's birthday. His big gift was a bike, and seeing as how the next day was Sunday, he got that present in the morning so he had enough time during the day to try it out.

He really wanted a spider-man cake. He has this thing for spider-man all because when he was two he had a spider-man shirt. He has never seen the movies or cartoons or anything, and yet he had to have a spider-man cake.

On Monday I took the kids to Baskin Robins to redeem their gift certificates that they got from my mother in law. Then we took the ice cream, and their bikes to the park. They sure had a good time.

Some beautiful poison ivy on the trail. Doesn't it make you want to reach out and just pick some of those leaves and take them home ;)

My neighbor Charlie was asking Jacob before he left if we ended up getting anything out of our garden besides marigolds. Jacob kindly defended my efforts by naming all the things (it wasn't much) we got from the garden. One thing he named was carrots. Well, I finally realized I never harvested my carrots, and sure enough there they were nice and orange and plump growing amongst the marigolds. We dug them all up, and this is the harvest. It's not a lot, but at least we didn't make Jacob lie.

A good friend of mine cut my hair this week. She did a fantastic job, and I just love it! Do you see all the curl in the back, it did that by itself. Looks like I'm pulling a Michelle.

Jacob sent us these pictures this week. He is doing well. He is now in charge of a prison which is mostly a way lay station for detainees going to be released. Funny thing is that he is now a platoon leader over MPs. Can he ever escape the MP Corps!

Today a stake representative (like a high councilor) came down to set Jacob apart as the group leader over their group (it's not quite a branch, but they have a pretty big congregation). I'm not sure how the whole stake thing works, but I think he told me that the Middle East is all one big stake. It's still hard for me to wrap my head around that one, or the posibility of Hyrum serving a mission out there, or a temple being built, but this is how it starts.
Other than that, Hyrum is sick. What a perfect Sunday to be sick for, though; I love the internet. Camilla also has officially entered the "Conference is boring" stage. Oh well, six more years and hopefully she will find meaning in it again. I spent most of conference yelling "Camilla, get back in here, you have to watch whether you want to or not," dispensing medicine, putting kids down for naps, and filling baby bottles, but at the same moments when I just felt like throwing something, I would be reminded that my children were being taught that listening to a prophet is not only important but essential. My job today was not to sit and actually get to hear the entirety of one whole talk, or feel the overflowing of the spirit, but to teach my children through example that one great lesson. And so it's been quite the week, but it's been a good one.