Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloween 2013

Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were the inspiration for the Harper family costumes this year...

Galadriel, Arwen, Frodo, Smaug the Dragon, and Gandalf

Baby Smaug (not quite as ferocious as the dragon in the movie, but super cute, and warm as she consented to wear something WITH sleeves! Hip hooray!).

Frodo, the Hobbit. Complete with creepy hairy feet. His bag has the one ring to rule them all on it (which incidentally I neglected to print in mirror image so it would show correctly once ironed on... then I am pretty sure I ironed it on upside down, but who's keeping track anyway?).

Galadriel, the lovely elf... her elf ears made it a little hard for her to hear, but helped her look oh, so authentic.  Her bag says (in Elvish and English) "The world is changed. I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, I smell it in the air." and has a drawing of Galadriel's flower symbol.

**What were you for Halloween this year?

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Happy Little (very very long) Update

I have been reminded lately at how much I miss journaling… and although I’ve been out of the blog loop for some time now (nearly three-quarters of a year)... and while it is overwhelming to think about trying to catch up, I feel I must get back to recording some thoughts and happenings or it will all slip away.

Olivia is only a few days away from starting junior high. When she turned 12 in June her strongest desire was to go to the temple to do baptisms for the dead. Ryan and I took her early in the morning and she loved it. She spoke of feeling the Spirit more strongly than ever.  Her testimony is deeply rooted and she shares it in Testimony Meeting almost every month. She is kind and loving and cares for every person around her. She is sensitive and aware of what is happening around her. She is a fabulous babysitter to Sophia and even some families in the neighborhood. Liv was told it would be a struggle to play the trumpet since she has braces; however, she is determined to follow in Ryan’s footsteps and she wants to be a part of the American Fork High Marching Band, so she works hard and is getting great sound out of that three-generation instrument. She attended YW camp for the first time this summer at Heber Valley Camp. She came home with a deeper appreciation for the gospel, her YW leaders, and her testimony. I missed her like crazy, but I am so glad she was able to go. Heber Valley Camp is indeed a holy place.

Coleman will turn 10 next month. He continues to love science, video games, Legos, Star Wars, and learning. He has a funny sense of humor and cracks clever jokes that cause me to think. He calls me on it when I give a laugh that isn’t quite what he was hoping for. He loves to sing and whistle… I often say that he is performing his own soundtrack to his life. Some days I don’t find it quite as charming as he does… but I was reminded in a conference talk that it is something joyous is to hear children sing. He has decided that he wants to attend MIT (which he thought stood for “Michigan Institution of Technology). He is fascinated with bugs and weather and how things work. He thinks deeply and theorizes about so many things. Love that boy.

Sophia cracks us up. She is determined and oh-so strong willed. She says and does the funniest things…

She LOVES to burp, and she’s a rock-star burper. Loud, long, and frequent they are. Cute for a three-year old… unless it’s while you are walking into church, in any public place, or in front of anyone outside the family. Too bad she has no qualms about letting them loose whenever and wherever. If we want that habit to stop we’ll probably have to stop busting a gut when she lets it rip.

She loves to pray. She does NOT love to vary the wording in her prayers. She loves to say, “Dear Heavenly Father. Thank you for the day and the food. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” She DID go through a “bodies” phase where she asked Him to bless our bodies, but her prayer is pretty much standard. We are working on that one. For a short time she insisted on saying every prayer. Recently when she asks to pray and someone else gets asked to do it she rushes to that person and says, “Good job, Mom! I’m so proud of you!”

She decided several months ago that she didn’t like kisses anymore.  She wouldn’t give or receive kisses, unless it was a kiss on the top of the head in the pattern of Rapunzel from the Disney movie “Tangled” where she’d say, “I love you” and I’d say, “I love you more” and she’d say, “I love you MOST” and plant a kiss on the top of my head. She loved hugs and would remind us as we went to give hugs and kisses of her preferences, sometimes signaling with a hand to stop in our advances to kiss her. Last night she granted permission to give kisses again. Glory be.

She is very, very picky with the things she wears. She wore two pairs of boots until she could not get her feet in them anymore (never mind that it was 100 degrees outside). She does not love sandals. She does not love tennis shoes (save for the awesome light-up shoes from Grandma Terri that have velcro straps and allowed her to put them on herself... but she outgrew those months ago). She now has a ratty pair of slip on ballet flats with soles falling to pieces. Over the course of the last few months she has decided that she hates clothes with sleeves. Long sleeves, short sleeves, cap sleeves. She does NOT like sleeves. She doesn’t like things that “cover my shoulders or my armpits” and refuses to wear anything with sleeves. I know, I’m the parent, right? I shouldn’t let a three year old run the house and make the rules, but have you ever tried to put a shirt or dress with SLEEVES on a kid who does not want to wear it? It isn’t a pretty sight and has resulted in many tantrums. It’s been a hot summer, and she looks pretty cute in her tank tops and sundresses, so I’ve let it go for the most part… but last week it reached an all new level of ridiculousness when we were out of town (limited number of acceptable-to-her options, no possibility of washing dirty clothes to get said acceptable-to-her clothes back into the rotation) and I put on an almost sleeveless dress. She was busy having a fit, so in an attempt to preserve the peace I very stupidly suggested that we tuck in her sleeves so her shoulders weren’t covered. She LOVED that idea and it placated her, until it came untucked and she became unglued. We spent a good part of that day tucking. It was very humorous when she came up to me as I was getting ready for the day with a cami on over my underclothes… I was getting ready to put on another shirt or dress on top of it. She stroked my shoulders and said, “Oh, mommy, your shoulders aren’t covered, and it’s BEAUTIFUL!!!!” Pretty soon here we’ll have to start phasing out her sleeveless clothes so that she will allow her arms to be covered in the winter months. How do you think a puffy down coat will TUCK?

On August 14th we gathered with Tim and Laura and their family at Mikayla’s grave. It has been three years since she left us. Laura asked us all to share a memory or something we had learned from Mikkie. I was pretty teary-eyed as I said how I was trying to learn to be more prepared---always have bubble-gum and lipgloss in hand (Mikkie loved those!) but more importantly to always let the people that I love know how I feel about them. Mikkie left so quickly and I don’t ever want to regret not sharing my love. My tears were flowing freely, but sweet Sophia put her arms around my neck, squeezed tight, pulled my face to hers, and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll always be there for you.” I don’t know where she comes up with this stuff.

Sometimes, when she says or does something funny I ask her, “Where did you learn that?” For a long time her answer has been, “From Miss Piggy” and occasionally “and the frog.” She kills me.

My potty-training philosophy is to wait until my kids are so ready to do it that they take only a few days. I don’t have the patience to potty train for months on end.  The result is that they have all been well over three when we’ve attempted, but it hasn’t gone on forever and ever. Sophia was no different. While she was likely capable many months ago, I kept putting it off until I was sure she would be successful. With preschool just around the corner, we knew it had to happen this summer. Because of some long road trips, we had only one three week period that we would be home. She did really, really well for the most part. We chose “Hi-Chews” as our method of bribery… she’d get one each time she went. She got in the habit of going, wiping, washing hands, and saying, “I went to the bathroom and I had pee-pee and I want a grape!” She likes Hi-Chew flavors in this order: grape, strawberry, apple, mango. She picks grape until they are ALL gone. Then she eats all of the strawberry ones until they are ALL gone, then apple, and finally the ones left are mango. She only had a couple of accidents, but she was very clear in the fact that she did not want to poop on the potty. She in fact said to me on more than one occasion, “I will NEVER poop on the potty!” She would go into a corner (or under a table or behind the curtains or furniture) when it was time to do her business… she would tell us she needed her privacy… and she would quickly inform us that we needed to change her, but she was so resistant to even trying to go. After a couple of very unsuccessful attempts on my part (“We will buy you ANYTHING you want!” “We’ll have ice cream!” “I’ll buy you a PONY!”“Puh-lease!!!”) I finally decided to let it go, be happy with the fact that she was staying  dry during the day and would even wake up dry in the morning, and resign myself to the fact that she would be in pull-ups until college.  Tonight she decided all on her own that she wanted to poop on the potty. And she did. Like a boss. Without any forewarning. We are eating ice cream tonight! (So glad she opted for that reward instead of the pony ☺.)

We have decided that Sophia will go where she wants and how she wants in life. It is our job to make sure she is pointed in the right direction. And to help her think that that direction is HER idea. Oh, the challenge.

We are loving life and are busy, busy. While busyness is NOT a badge of honor, there are days that it feels like it should be. I feel tired, but oh, so happy. Most of the time.

As for catching up on the rest of 2013, we {mustache} you to be patient... it will come.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Reflections--Magic of a Moment

This year Olivia and Coleman entered the Reflections contest. The theme was "The Magic of  a Moment."

Olivia composed a song and won! She got a cool certificate and a trophy.

Coleman entered in the literature category. He also got a certificate.

Sophia didn't enter, but I am sure that at some point she will enter in one category (or more)...

We got notified a few weeks later that Olivia's entry went on to the next level and she will be compete at the district level... Way to go Liv!

This is the song that she composed:

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cookie Party 2012

One of my favorite holiday traditions is the cookie party that my friend Marilynn hosts. This year, I made some yummy Macaroon Kisses... they are delicious (and I usually don't like coconut!)

Macaroon Kisses

1/3 cup butter (softened)
3 oz. cream cheese (softened)
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
5 cups coconut (divided)
48 kisses (dark chocolate)

Cream butter, cream cheese, and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg yolk and extract.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add gradually to creamed mixture.  Stir in 3 cups of the coconut.

Refrigerate dough 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle (if desired, I didn't find this to be necessary).  Shape in 1” balls or use a small cookie scoop and then roll in coconut.  Place 2” apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes (or until lightly browned.)

Remove from oven and push a kiss into each cookie.  Allow cookies to sit on cookie sheet 2-5 minutes until chocolate is soft.  Transfer cookies to cooling racks.

If you want to check out some other pictures and recipes for delicious cookies, check out the Christmas Cookie blog!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

David Goes To School

One of our favorite authors is David Shannon. We especially love his cute character David. Sophia has loved the book David Goes To School so much that she has it memorized. For a time, she would "read" it to Ryan each night. We thought you might enjoy her reading and her other "activities" while she reads.  She keeps us laughing!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Extreme Makeover--Olivia Edition

This lovely girl got contacts and braces all within a couple of days.

She keeps looking in the mirror and says she doesn't recognize herself.

She looks beautiful, no?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Festival of Trees 2012

Megan pulled off another great tree this year in memory of her boy Chance... the theme was the great outdoors. All of her decorations were of moose, bears, squirrels, and owls. She did such a great job on it! I got to go and help put it together on decorating day.

My mom tied a quilt with Megan and her sisters and many other people contributed.

Me and Megan with my mom and some friends and our Aunt Becky on decorating day.

Meg and Mom

Our sister Lauren wrote a paragraph to help Festival visitors get to know Chance... it read:
Chance was an inquisitive boy. He loved exploring, getting into everything, and playing in the dirt. He would have been an outdoor enthusiast, for sure, if he hadn't gotten sick at the tender age of 2 years and 11 months. Just weeks before he died he was able to go on his first camping trip. What an adventure! We hoped there would be many more opportunities for him to sleep under the stars, be close to nature, and try to spot the wildlife. But God had a different plan and called Chance home. We still feel close to him when we are outside. He is in the wind, the sunshine, the raindrops, the hoot of an owl, and especially in the dirt.

Later in the week we went with my Grandma Cole to see the tree... The kids love being with her and I love it too. She is so good with them (and they love that she usually manages to bring them a little treat :)).

Sophia was in a bit of a funk that day, she finally pulled out of it when we saw the gingerbread houses and there was one from Tangled  (one of her favorite movies).

The Festival is such a great event, and I love that Megan has made it a priority in her life to give back to the Medical Center that tried so hard to save her boy. 

On decorating day I was (again) amazed as I looked around and thought about how much love goes into each tree... there is a story behind each tree and a person to go with the story. It breaks my heart that there are so many in the "club" of people who have lost a loved one (often a young child) but it is heartwarming that so many people work so hard to contribute to such a good cause and bring so much joy to others in the process.