Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (and I am tuckered out!)


This is what Jude does when I tell him to smile for the camera. I understand him so well. It is tricky to smile on demand when you are pretending to be happy you were born December 28th, when every other kid in the world also gets new and exciting toys and books. Poor Jude. And poor me for having to throw together Christmas AND a birthday party in the same week. . . a really AWESOME birthday party, I might add.

So, here's what's been going on. . .

Jude got to go see the REAL Santa this Christmas. This Santa is not just your basic overweight smelly guy with a fake beard who needs a job. This is the real Santa, and he happens to have a reception area at the downtown Macy's in Portland. He has a REAL beard, and is exceptionally good and gentle with children. This being Jude's first exposure, I didn't want to force Jude to sit on Santa's lap, so we just did a walk-by. Jude stopped right in front of Santa and said, "Hi Santa". To which Santa replied. "Hi". And then he just talked to Jude very kindly for a minute and asked, "What do you want for Christmas?" Jude replied, "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" (which I translated for Santa). As we walked away, Jude said, "Bye Santa" and the jolly fellow said, "Remember, Santa loves you." Jude then said, "Yup."

Jude has been obsessed with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. He knows the whole song and often asks me to sing it with him. When he heard it come on in different stores, he would start running around and singing it as loud as he could! It has been a joy to watch him catch the Christmas spirit. Another thing he learned this Christmas is that "Baby Jesus lives in a barn with camels," and other important tidbits of information.
Jude really liked this snowman at Macy's. As usual, he has on his stoic picture face.
Dave, Jo, and I took Joseph, Talmage, Sydney, Isaac, and Jude bowling on the 23rd. I think that was brave of us, because we basically had 3 2-year-olds to take care of! They may have gotten hurt, but no one died, so I would call that a success.


Sydney found another use for the hand-dryer





the arcade, Jude and Isaac
Christmas morning was somewhat anti-climactic. Jude and I slept over at Dave and Jo's. Joseph woke up at 5:30 AM and got the ball rolling, even though no one else wanted to be awake. Jude was more stoic than usual, I think because he was tired out of his mind. But he played with his new train set FOREVER before looking to other presents, so I know he loved it! The other big Christmas present was a Buzz Lightyear with pop-out wings, noises, lights, and spoken phrases.
Have you ever seen such serious faces?
Isaac and Jude playing with Jude's toys, or rather, studying them closely, coming up with hypotheses about them.
Jude was the first to discover there was sugar on the other end of his helicopter. The other boys quickly found their sugar as well.
Joseph and Isaac's tent and tunnel
It was fun to go back to Robin's to see what the Barker kids got for Christmas. Sydney is secretly my favorite Barker kid. I mean, how could she be any bigger of a free spirit?

On the 28th, Jude turned 2. We had an AMAZING birthday party for Jude, and he shared the party with Sonia, one of his friends who turned 3. We reserved the church gym, made a 3-lane race track, and told all the kids to bring their Big Wheels and tricycles. Then we just set them free with basically no structure except a couple of organized races. It was just perfect for toddlers and pre-schoolers, and the parents were glad to get their kids out of their houses and let them run wild.
Jude got this cool Lightning McQueen Big Wheel for his birthday, and he barely got off it during the party! Also, thanks to Briton who assembled it in 1/2 hour right before the party! I started assembling it the night before, but my long skinny phillips screwdriver is in storage, and Briton didn't have one skinny enough, so he borrowed one from his neighbors the morning of the party and had it put together JUST as Jude walked into the gym! Phew! Thank goodness for good men who cover your back when you over-schedule yourself!


We had a little "pool table" for the kids to fish stuff out with fish nets
But they mostly just used their hands
Sonia's mom, Karen, is a professional baker and chef (hooray!), and took care of all the food and birthday cake.

Check out that train cake! Karen threw this together in 2 hours. . . INCLUDING the gluten-free, allergy conscious chocolate car! BEAUTIFUL, and perhaps the most beautiful part is that I didn't have to bake! There are serious perks to being friends with Karen!


The girl taking a bite is Sonia. Her mom offered her the option of having an all-girl tea party birthday, and without hesitation, she chose the Big Wheel party instead! Atta girl!
Here is Jude showing off his blue tongue


Great party!

If you are wondering what we did with the left-over cake, ask Robin.


video
I like how little kids bowl. This is Talmage gitting 'er done!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gym Thoughts

Some Things I Just Have To Say

I joined a gym, a 24 Hour Fitness about 10 minutes away. It is a really nice gym, I think, with lots of good classes, a spin room, and a pool. "Ah! A pool!" you say. This is significant information pertaining to the rest of my post. I like to shower at the gym for several reasons, the biggest one being I can shower in peace and quiet there without Jude opening and closing my shower curtain repeatedly. He goes to the Kids' Klub while I exercise and take a shower. Also, I have overactive sweat glands, and I think showers are the most cleansing when you still have wet sweat on your body. Also, free shampoo and soap and it saves Robin and Briton from having to pay for my shower water.

Here's the thing. . . I think there is a generational disconnect about nudity in the locker room. I would NEVER NEVER EVER be seen nude in the open in front of a bunch of strangers. I have noticed that other younger women are also careful about their modesty in the locker room. Then there are the water aerobics ladies. . . SHAMELESS!! These are women, all over 55 years old walking all over the locker room, not just in the shower, as naked as the day they were born! Varicose veins and cellulite and everything! I am amazed that they seem completely unaware of how large they are. And they will sit, bare-bottomed on the locker room benches with their panises (a medical term for large flap of abdominal fat) hanging down between their legs, leaving some nice hepatitis A there for the next person. And they just sit around and talk to each other that way, without a hurry or care in the world! It is somewhat unsettling when I'm getting my stuff out of my locker, pretending not to notice the 250 pound naked lady standing next to me, and suddenly her clothed bosom buddy walks in from outside with her gym bag, also planning to attend the water aerobics class.

"Oh hi Melba!" She says, making perfect eye contact and touching the shoulder of her naked friend.
"Oh hi Ethel, I'm glad you're here. I brought you that recipe you asked for. Let's see. I've just got it in my bag here. . . " *bends over to rifle through the clothes in her bag--me averting my gaze, trying not to notice that the person standing next to me is completely flesh colored* "Oh! here it is!"
Ethel: Thank you. I'm just dying to try your hot buns recipe. Mine always come out dough-y.
Melba: No trouble at all! Say, have you heard how Maureen's surgery went? *Ethel begins disrobing*
Ethel: No, but if it was anything like mine *points to 5-inch scar on bare abdomen* she has quite a recovery ahead of her!

Then they waddle off chattering all the way to the pool in their swimsuits with the single ruffle that is intended to cover much more than it actually does. It is a strange phenomenon how these women can throw off any social pressure to wear clothes while conversing with another human being. I mean, I even feel a little on-edge if I'm just talking on the phone in my underwear, or while taking a dookie.

Here is another weird thing that happened at my gym just today. I was diddling around the house getting a job application together this morning, and missed the spin class I was planning on attending. So, I went into the empty spin room to ride by myself. I had been on the bike for about 10 minutes when this girl, probably my age or a little younger, walked in wearing a LOW-cut tank top and SHORT shorts. I just kind of noticed it, and kept going with my intervals. Then she pushed a couple bikes out of the way to clear a space on the floor, took out these chain things with weighted pom-poms on the ends (one in each hand) and started twirling them so the pom-poms were making circles in the air at her sides. Thinking this was some sort of new sport, I started watching a little more intently, trying to grasp the physical benefits of such an exercise. I quickly realized this was not an exercise routine, but more of an exotic dance routine. She would dip down low swinging those chains and stare at her cleavage in the mirror, making sure it was all showing. There were also several moves involving the inner thighs. Needless to say, I started getting really uncomfortable. But she seemed very comfortable, and my workout was just starting to get effective, so I tucked my chin and stayed put for an entire hour, getting little glimpses of her dance every now and again when I had to look up at the clock.

I found myself wondering who she really was. Why was she choosing to get good at this skill? I feel pretty confident that she works at a club or something, because she seemed very intent on keeping those spinning chains moving like clockwork and not getting tangled up while undulating her body. She couldn't make any mistakes. There was this one move, in particular that almost made me cry. She would put the chains together and hold her hands right up to her throat and then whip her head and shoulders so the chains wrapped around her neck in kind of a violent motion. I think something happened to her in her childhood, and she has become a slave to sex. I saw those chains choking her, and I just felt so bad for her. I wanted to yell, "There's another way!! You don't have to dance for men!" I saw her in the locker room later, and she had changed into jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt. Then I saw her again in line when she went to pick up her son at the Kids' Klub. How hard for that little boy, to one day find out what his mama does for a living, and perhaps on another day find out why she does it.

Am I being dramatic? Sometimes I'm that way. I also go to a Zumba class every once in a while. I love Zumba! I am SO uncoordinated and I feel so pathetic, but the cool thing about this particular class is that most of the women are just as uncoordinated as I am, but we are all just smiling and having fun. It makes me feel so connected to the people in our class. It's just a place where progress, not perfection, is the goal.

In closing, I would like to leave a remark made by my dear cousin Robin tonight:
"Naked people have little or no influence in society"

And here is a really cool picture I found on Google

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Some random stuff

Sometimes I let Jude play with the camera and just follow his artistic instincts. Here is one example of his work. Hint: he was wearing a yellow shirt when he took this picture.
Another masterpiece!
Yesterday me and Robin (mostly Robin) watched a total of 8 children at Robin's house. Two of them were twin baby boys. I think this picture accurately depicts how those 3 hours went.
I am writing another blog about Laura, but here is a sneak-peak at her visit. Laura is my incredible sister-in-law who, even during her extremely busy graphic design program at BYU, took the time to come to Oregon and help me heal. She also happens to be the most talented artist I know. Here we are at the Rose Garden in Portland.
Jude and Talmage

Sydney cooking something up ;)

Jude and the "spooky pumpkin"
After a failed attempt while Laura was here, I took Jude and Talmage back to the Japanese Gardens in Portland. I don't know why the colors are so weird. Jude is hugging Talmage's arm in this one.
Talmage with a lion and the bookmark he won for finishing the children's scavenger hunt
Jude's picture with a lion did not go so smoothly

I hope it is apparent I am just having a lot of fun here. I'm still waiting for my Oregon nursing license to come, so I don't have to work yet, and I have all this time to just play and host people who want to come visit me (hint, hint). I am more in tune with my spirit and body than I have been since my mission. Every day is basically joyful with those sudden and unexpected moments of shock when I realize what a toxic environment I'm coming out of. It really is a beautiful life. I am happy and grateful.

Seaside, Oregon




Well, I have been dying to get to the ocean ever since we moved to Portland, and finally, neither my brother nor I had anything planned on a Saturday. It was a cold, rainy, overcast day (oh wait, that's like every day in the winter) but we just bundled up and played anyway! I am so glad we went!

The back seat

Here is Jude in his spider rain jacket. He keeps a little car in that pocket at all times, in case of a boredom emergency


Mein Bruder with his boys, Isaac and Joseph
Joseph wrote his name in the sand. You read it right, "Toseph"

Isaac before he took his boots off
crab shells are all the rage

Seagulls and children begging for food
Joseph made this train track in the sand, and the little boys were going CRAZY pretending to be trains

FAVORITE PICTURE EVER OF ISAAC!

Joseph's sandcastle. It was largely made up of crab shells and no one dared step on it for fear of cutting their foot open and getting sand in their wound.

So, there it is folks! A successful and sandy trip to the beach.