Wednesday, February 8, 2012

weekend getaway

John and I are taking the baby and heading out of town for a few days.

There is a lot of talk and photos of the crazy winter weather that Europe is experiencing and we're headed to one of the worst hit countries- Kiev (or Kyiv) Ukraine!

I was a little nervous following through on our trip once I heard and read the reports last week, but the weather forecasts aren't showing anything drastic, so we're going. It'll just be really, really, really, cold- especially for desert dwellers like ourselves. We haven't been in cold weather for over 4 years!
John is looking forward to feeling cold (I just better double check his bags to make sure he's not packing naively). We're going on a trip to the temple and aren't going to worry or stress about trying to fit in much else. I'm thinking that with the peace of being in the temple and the break from taking care of all 3 kids, it may just feel like a vacation or getaway is supposed to feel. Rejuvenating!

I'll let you know.

I found this video a couple months ago when we began organizing this trip. I love it! I am so impressed with these youth- love them!

P.S.- I'd love a few prayers for safe travels and safe return (and wonderful temple experiences). Because, when I said that "I was nervous..." I really meant, "I am {a bit} nervous..."
I think it's just part of being a mom (and that I've never boarded an airplane without them since they've been born- oh wait, there was that one time we left Asher on our first visit to Dubai.). Just part of being a parent, right? Right.

Canyon is THREE!!!

Canyon turned THREE on February 1st.

We almost let the celebration get away from us and I'm so glad we didn't.

We kept it low-key and simple, and I'm learning all the time that the little things make a big impact.

Saturday evening I made a cake and just after haircuts and bathtime we ate a quick dinner and invited our neighbors (and favorite baby-sitters) "the twins" over for cake (and singing of course!)

It was perfect. He also got a few new cars to add to his collection and a Cars drawing pad from one of his best little buddies who just happened to move away from Dubai ON his birthday (so sad).

We love our little three year old and his enthusiasm for life. He is mostly fun, easy going, happy, and helpful with a side of stubborn, jealous, defiant and even stinky (still not potty trained. i know, I know, it's grossing me out). He is a special kid and we all just LOVE him (I think most people do, he's easy to love).

Happy Birthday C-dogg, little C, Canyon!!!

**more pics to include, but I'm having problems uploading (this is my reminder to self)**

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

backyard camp- Asher's 7th birthday

Asher's birthday is December 20th.
We've always celebrated on or before his birthday.
This time around, I asked if he was ok waiting to have his party until after Christmas.
Asher said "ok" (quickly followed with, "can we have the party on the 26th? 27th?)

on New Years day as I thought about the new calendar and the additional week off school, I realized, "it's now or never".
In about 30 minutes, we had a guest list, party theme and a text message sent to all the moms.
Thursday, January 5th, it is!

We decided to have a Camping party-minus the sleeping over and leaving our own home and backyard part.
Here's a run down.
who: 12 kids (which turned into 20+ once I included siblings who wanted to come and some friends visiting from out of town). John and I plus a few other adults who offered to help or just wanted to stay and enjoy the fun.
time: 5-8 pm
decor: camping gear set up in the backyard. Tent, chairs, a few sleeping bags strewn about along with a couple bare christmas trees.
menu: for snack: trail mix, chips and salsa, apples and dip
for dinner: hot dogs, homemade chicken nuggets and oven fries and more apples
dessert: smores, blueberry muffins, and rice krispie treat birthday cake.

activities: As the kids arrived they ran around the park adjacent to the backyard. This was planned. Asher specifically suggested that as friends arrived, the time would be for "free play" . That was easy enough. They loved their free play time. It made me wonder why I even worried about how to keep them busy and what to do. They just ran around 6/7 year olds.
granted there was a little bit of drama too, like when Ivy came to me crying saying "I'm the youngest one and they need to learn to take it easy on me." I think she was tired and hyped up for the party, she got over it quickly.
we attempted a potato sack style race using three sleeping bags. (this didn't draw a lot of interest or take a lot of time- bummer)

Once John got the coals nice and toasty, we gathered all the kids for snacks, hot dog roasting and making their orange muffin. Roasting hot dogs with that many kids was obviously kinda dangerous and also a bit hilarious. Nobody got hurt, I think ALL of the kids wanted a hot dog, probably only half ate one. It was cute. Some came to me ready for a bun and condiments but their dog was still kinda cold. John later told me that anytime a kid asked if their dog looked done enough, he said "yes" and sent them to start fixing and eating it.
in addition to roasting things over the fire, our wild animal hunt was also a big hit.
I purchased flashlights for all the kids as part of their party favors. Ahead of time I gathered about 30 stuffed animals (most were from a friend who was moving and didn't want to take them back to America- some were cute, nice big toys and others were small arcade quality stuffed animals.) While the kids were roasting hot dogs we hid the animals all over the park. We pretty much just scattered them around, since it was dark, we didn't actually "hide" them under or behind things. Then, we gave each kid their flashlight and they went "hunting". They loved it and were finding and hiding amongst themselves for quite a while.

At one point Asher was in tears because he didn't find any stuffed animals and some kids took more than 2 (he's a big fan of enforcing rules). I felt bad, mostly because I knew he didn't want to be crying at his own party. We quickly tried to remedy the situation by hiding a few more, but the few more I hid were quickly found by kids who brought them to Asher to "make him feel better". He then cried worse because, of course, he wanted to find it himself. This lead to lots of re-hiding and re-finding by different kids and Asher being slow and tearful. It was pretty ridiculous. After trying too many times to re-hide animals and console Asher, I just gave up and went to take care of the food. Asher soon returned with flashlight and friends and an armful of 2 or 3 animals. I'm not sure how it was all resolved, I'm just glad it was.

Smore's, muffins cooked in orange peel, and a mound of rice krispie treats topped with birthday candles, served as the dessert.

goodie bags contained their new flashlight, gummy worms and frogs, a bag of trail mix, a glow stick and the stuffed animal (or 2) that {they couldn't believe} they got to keep.

my take away thoughts:

birthday parties are work (and fun) no matter when they happen, so in the future I will try not to fool myself into thinking that procrastinating is helpful.

text messages are very efficient and effective invitations.

Colored marshmallows don't roast, they melt.

it's ok to put time and effort into the details, if just for the satisfaction of a job tastefully done. Even if nobody (especially 6 year olds) notice, but I should really watch the time thing.

Dubai rarely fails at turning what should be a quick trip to Target into multiple hours, a trip to the mall, 2 or 3 different grocery stores and lots of driving. Oh, and more money spent. BUT- as stated above, I'm ok putting effort into the details, even if it is just for me AND I'm kinda banking on the idea that these obstacles and resistance that we accept as part of living here, are making me that much stronger and more efficient once I return to the good old USA!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Coral's blessing

We blessed Coral at church on the first Friday of the new year.
She wore the same white blessing dress that we blessed Ivy in AND that my parents blessed me in. I like that. I'll try to post some side by side photos of the 3 of us soon.

Ivy wore a white flower headband that I kept in a special place so that she could wear it again for other special occasions or so her sister could wear it. The headband made it from Utah (where she was blessed) to Oregon and on to Dubai and I've known where it was/is for almost 5 years, and then...I lost it. I got it out in November and took some photos of Coral in it. Sometime between that day and the blessing, I lost it. So frustrating. I made Coral a new headband and tried not to worry too much about it. I'm still hoping the other one turns up. Then maybe it's all for the best. Each girl has her own accessory.

Anyway, on to the blessing.
We didn't have any extended family in town this time which was a bit of a bummer, but the blessing was still special and our Dubai branch has so many close friends, it often feels like family.

Coral was blessed with many things like a strong body and a strong relationship with her siblings. Also, a desire to follow the gospel and listen to and love her parents. She was blessed with a love of learning and that she will take advantage of every chance for education. She will explore the world. She will also have a strong desire to go to the temple and marry a man who will love and protect her and want to take her there.

I know already that she has a sweet and unique spirit inside of her tiny body. She has beautiful big curious eyes. I find her seeking eye contact and once she makes it, gives a big grin. I love this little girl and we are so blessed to have her in our family and watch her grow.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

welcoming 2012

Last year we rang in 2011 by driving to the empty parking lot of the little league fields and watching the burj Khalifa's fireworks from the back of our car.

It wasn't as good of a show as their grand opening 2 years ago. Thankfully- we didn't lose much sleep or fight any crowds that night and the kids have great memories of "staying up late"

John likes to refer to New Years Eve as a "let down" sort of holiday.
Lots of hype but never really that much fun, and not really worth staying up til 12.

I sort of agree.
But, I'm also a night owl, who loves any excuse for a celebration.

So- we made this year a low key night as well.
We watched a movie in the back of our car with just our little family and some popcorn and parked amongst the hundreds of cars at our favorite (cuz it's usually mostly empty) beach.

at 12:00 we saw fireworks in every direction- we were sandwiched between two popular shows- the Burj al Arab and the Atlantis hotel. In the distance we saw the burj Khalifa's show as well as some others coming from a beach further south.

We made it off the beach and home by 12:30 due to our strategic parking spot (and our irresponsible decision to leave the seats down and kids laying comfortable asleep).

The kids enjoyed it- and also reached their breaking point mid show when they all started pushing and blocking each others view etc etc.

We were home by 12:35 with all the kids sound asleep in the back.
and me agreeing that maybe next year, we'll watch the fireworks on tv and get to bed a little earlier.

Maybe next year I'll agree to going to bed and watching the show on tv- that is of course, unless we're in a new city with new celebrations.
Here's to all the possibilities in 2012.

as for my resolutions- I'm still writing/ refining them. I suppose preparing a talk for church on Friday about "making weak things become strong" might force me to sit down and really define a few.

Are you feeling like me? Not ready to start the new year until a week in?

Monday, January 9, 2012

what this picture is really saying...

Yes, it's 2 weeks after Christmas and 8 months since I've updated my blog. That's a long time, and it makes me a little sad

I'm hoping that this picture is helpful in sharing it's worth in words,
from me to you,
it's the thousand words that I want to say.

Yes, this picture clearly says: Merry Christmas, but it also says:

* I had every intention of sending Christmas cards but dropped the ball. Instead I posted it on my "wall", shared it with a few friends and neighbors who live locally, and now with you here on the blog. I'm sorry it wasn't on your fridge or bulletin board with the mass of other photos you received in December.

* We had a baby!!! Coral Anne Clason joined our family on October 9th. She's the cute little one looking up at the sky instead of the camera.

* We're still in Dubai and live in a housing development called "the Green Community" (hence the winter wardrobe of a few long sleeves or pants and flip flops and the green background)

* I discovered pinterest (if you discovered it too- you'll probably understand why this picture announces my discovery of it.)

* my kids are growing up- Asher, if you look closely, is toothless on top and bottom. Ivy is wearing a bracelet she made herself and super excited to decorate and hang the banner once the photos are finished (she's non stop crafting these days) and Canyon is as unique as his hair color- white almost albino blonde with a red tint around the border.

* this cute little baby may have had something to do with my blogging absence over the past year. Of course, it wasn't all her fault- but between the first trimester sickness, the 2nd trimester travel, the 3 trimester tiredness and the brand-new-baby busy-ness, blogging didn't happen.

* I didn't have a clue where else to start or how to start after such a long absence so
this picture also says- that although the timing is off, the intention is there, it really is.
I'm committed to start somewhere.
like here:
with a Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

and a Happy New Year!!!

here's hoping and planning to share more thoughts, photos, feelings and stories in a more timely manner for the coming year
because one of my favorite things about this blog of mine is the feeling of staying connected while being so far away from most of you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

after the rain....RAINBOWS!!! (long post)

As you all know- we live in a big sandy desert (with a sandy beach on one side).
it doesn't rain much.
and birthdays only happen once a year.... odds are in our favor for dry, outdoor festivities, but would you believe that the first party Ivy had in Dubai (age 2) and the first party Asher had in Dubai (age 5) both had to be resourcefully moved indoors due to RAIN!

this winter has been nice and long, but also dry. I had a suspicion that we'd get rain before summer heat set in so I decided to thwart the skies and only think about having a party on Ivy's actual birthday. Then at the last minute, decide to wait 5 days and have a party for Ivy on the first morning of spring break the following week.
---ok, actually, I just wasn't feeling well and got a bit lazy and we had a busy week/ weekend ahead, plus an afternoon party on a school day with a bunch of 3-5 yr made me tired just thinking about it--
Would you believe it- my plan worked!
On April 10th and 11th, it rained all night. Awesome loud thunderstorms. On all accounts it was a good excuse to wait to have a swim party (even if the weather was warm and sticky and made everyone want to jump in the pool as we got our first taste of the summer heat that is setting in!)

So, although we tossed around many birthday themes, RAINBOWS proved to be quite timely and a hit with the birthday girl.

Because Ivy had been counting the days til her birthday, I wanted to do something on the actual day- since we were delaying the party. Birthday treats at school are a no-no (I'm assuming this is becoming the norm for our children?) but I asked if I could bring something healthy and the teachers were all for it.

I surprised Ivy with a birthday fruit rainbow and she thought she was the stuff- and referred to the fruit platter as her birthday cake!
I should also note she was upset the day before her birthday thinking that the teachers forgot to celebrate and make her a crown, so after school she pre-empted their tradition and made one herself (with help from Asher). First thing in the morning it was on her head! AND she couldn't wait to get to school.

After dinner that night- I took the kids for a quick bike ride to Baskin Robbins for some birthday ice cream! (read: again I was lazy/ caught without a plan and decided we needed to celebrate a little more since the festivities were still 5 days off)!

the party! It was a sad evening when I uploaded pictures of the birthday party. For one reason or another all but a few photos from the party became corrupted files- unable to read. I was disappointed, but we still have some cute ones. I made the party pretty low key (which just meant that I scrambled and stayed up late the night before getting everything together- it's amazing how sometimes things just fall into place- so I guess losing the photos

invitations: casual mentioning in conversation and an official text message to friends with the details the day before
location: neighborhood pool/ pool house 10:30 am til whenever
guests: 15-20 kids plus moms
food: 2 rainbow fruit trays, 1 rainbow veggie tray, pasta salad, popcorn, cute clown cones (made by my friend Joey as a surprise treat), juice and CAKE!
games/ activities: swimming and last minute water balloons. with not much need for the 2 other party games I planned. We did have a little dancing- mostly by Asher and Ivy and their friend Elise.
thank yous/ favors: homemade play dough, small box crayons, pkg skittles, a few chocolate coins and a cookie cutter, all packages cute and tied with string.

low stress, low cost, lots of great friends, fun gifts and one happy birthday girl (plus 2 siblings of the birthday girl). I should add that Asher was super helpful and concerned with making Ivy's party great too. (that's not to say he didn't whine about wanting presents too, or wanting to jump into the goodie bags before the party was over- but he was just being a 6 year old).

Happy birthday Ivy- we're so glad you're finally FOUR!!!
(and I can't believe you've celebrated your first, second, third and fourth birthdays ALL in Dubai!)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

T-ball season (in one post, if you're lucky)

(Thanksgiving weekend 2010- John was eager to get out on the ball field and teach his kids America's past time)

as t-ball season is just getting rolling in the U.S., over here, it's come and gone. (Started in December, finished in April)
It was our first year in the Dubai little league. John volunteered to coach and I think it's safe to say that at the beginning of the season, he was easily more excited than Asher about baseball season.
(first game, team pics- notest Burj Khalifa in the background and a post game cheer- Go Royals!)

I first thought we might be in for some trouble when we attended opening day at the ball park.
Every kid was introduced by the coaches and ran out on the field. Our team was last (youngest and alphabetically) and wouldn't you know it? Asher refused to go out on the field. Here we are watching dad and every other kid in uniform from above- (trying to keep the 3 kids from messing with the electronic cords and cables as they sat under all the sound equipment! Couldn't at least one of them go join Dad?)

(hanging out with the kids watching every other kid in uniform sit on the ball field- insert eye roll)

Asher has had issues from time to time with new situations and being in the spotlight.
I was beginning to wonder if he'd even play.
Thankfully, that wasn't a problem.
His siblings however? I started to second guess whether we really wanted to make t-ball a family affair every Saturday. I wanted to enjoy it, have fun, and let the kids have fun, but I struggled to manage keeping Canyon entertained, safe and in my sight, and Ivy entertained, safe and not in tears or interrupting the games with her drama.

(poor Ivy!)

All Ivy wanted to do was be a part of the action. She practiced with the team, wore the team jersey shirt (there was an extra) and of course was always in line for the post game snacks/ treats, but that wasn't enough. She wanted to bat! The coach (John) was sweet and let her be last batter of the game, but she's no dummy. She wanted the real thing.
then around the 4th game or so of the season, it all worked out.

(the little sisters rescue the team from cancellation or forfeit and Ivy makes her mark)

It was a windy cold day and for whatever reason only 3 of the 9 players on the team showed up. All three players had little 3 yr old sisters, so we put all of them in the line-up and had a great time.

After that, Ivy played every game. Just like she was part of the team (the other sisters couldn't have cared less). We should have done it from the beginning, but I worried about other parents getting upset (she's too young, she didn't pay, etc etc). Nobody seemed to have a problem and Ivy loved every minute (except when she got called out at first base- then she walked back to the dug out, head hung low, and cried. somewhat heartbreaking but also a bit ridiculous. She learned as the season progressed, and she ran faster!).

and then there's Asher. It was his t-ball season after all! He did great! He looked forward to each game, made new friends, and really developed an understanding of the game, along with some basic skills. He was fun to watch and really got excited when he could make a play and get someone out (that usually is more of a challenge than getting a hit or getting on base in t-ball).

The season ended with trophies! We missed closing ceremonies because we were at church and so did the rest of our team so we decided to hand out trophies the next day after the game. I had to do some scrambling because we didn't have enough trophies to give Ivy one. Thankfully, after searching for someone with connections (ie extras in his trunk) we lucked out finding one in the lost and found (don't judge, it was for the greater good). I justified it pretty well and everyone was happy!

We'll definitely be back next year, although I'm hoping they'll let us keep Asher down a year because his birthday misses the cut-off by less than 2 weeks. Then John can coach again and Ivy and Asher can play on the same team. I had fun this year- but not fun enough to want to stay for 2 games and 2 practices every Saturday. (and maybe next year I'll even try to get myself in a photo or two).

oh wait- here's one!