Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Fun

I love the weeks leading up to holidays but they are so, so busy!

On Thursday, the Herriman orchestra had their Halloween Hi-Jinx concert. Bianca's group (the violas and cellos) had to dress-up as witches. It took a little scraping things together and layering a couple witch costumes we were able to get our hands on, but her costume turned out really cute. She even dressed up her viola with a chain that attached to her.

Eric sung in the choir and his group--the basses and tenors--couldn't quite make up their minds on a theme, so they were a big hodgepodge of Halloween characters. Eric's costume was some kind of video game (I can't quite remember what it's called now). He looked pretty scary after the make-up. It was funny, though. Portia--my scaredy-cat usually--clung to Eric that night.

Don't mind me, I'm playing around with editing my photos. I love the swirly option on photobucket. Yeah, I know, I'm an amateur.

On Friday, Bianca's school had their costume parade and class Halloween party. Bianca's costume this year is Mozart. We improvised with this Victorian Boy costume and called it Mozart. She walked through the parade playing Turkish March and Danse Macabre (because she had it memorized from the Herriman Hi-Jinx concert). Pretty creative, I thought. Then I was in charge of the pumpkin bowling station at her class party. It was a lot of work to keep setting up the pins (filled water bottles) but the kids seemed to really like it. Here's Bianca with Jakon and Makayla from her fifth-grade class.

Eric went home to Dallas this weekend so I made it a point to make sure we did tons of fun things. We spent Friday night with Aunt Joanie and Uncle Bruce. We ate beef stew for dinner and then went through some of Grandma Peggy's things. She loved pretty crystal dishes and milk glass. I took quite a bit of stuff and am wondering if I'm fancy enough to use it. I'm going to try.

On Saturday, I dressed the girls up in their witch costumes, and we went to spot the witches at Gardner Village. We had a nice lunch at Archibald's, tried Fried Green Tomatoes, and then walked around looking for witches. At night, we went to the free haunted house a neighbor does every year (Portia refused to go in at the last moment).

After putting Portia to bed, Bianca and I watched the movie Coraline together because we had both read the book recently. The movie was even more creepy than the book, if that's possible!

On Sunday, the girls and I designed and carved a kitty cat jack-o-lantern and baked pumpkin seeds. The weekend without Eric didn't seem so long after all. In fact, the whole month of October flew by like a witch on a broom. I'll be sad to take down the Halloween decorations tomorrow.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cardinals Win!

My huband Eric and I have had a friendly little bout of trash talk in our house the last week or so. The baseball World Series put Eric's Texas Rangers up against my St. Louis Cardinals. It was all in fun. In fact, I didn't even sit down to watch any of the games up until game seven last night when Cardinals cinched it. Their win reminded me of my favorite Cardinals memory so I thought I'd share in light of the Cardinals world title:

When I was in high school, straight A students got free Cardinals tickets. I was a pretty good student and thus got quite a few opportunities to watch the Cardinals play in Busch Stadium. But it was funny, every time I would go to the game, I would hear someone yelling out my name: "Jeana!" "Jeana!" I was always looking around. After a game or two, I realized it was the man selling peanuts, yelling out, "Peanuts!" "Peanuts!"

I was telling this to my sister Betsy years later when we were adults and she said the same thing happened to her. She'd be searching the stands for whoever it was yelling, "Betsy!" "Betsy!" It was the Pepsi man, yelling out, "Pepsi!" Pepsi!"

Congratulations, Cardinals!

Monday, October 24, 2011

How does one choose?

I have a friend who graciously left her four children and went to take photos of my child.

On Friday, I gave Portia a bath and put her in a fancy dress (a Jottum Rembrandt dress called Skutsje I'd been eyeing for years and never thought I'd have because even secondhand, it's ridiculously priced). It wasn't until I found an ebay-like web site all in Dutch where I can get stuff a bit cheaper. I have to use google translate to read the fine print and then use google translate to write to them in Dutch and ask whether they'll send to the US. Sometimes they will; sometimes they won't. I've even learned some new words along the way, like "jurk" and "jas" and "rok."

My photographer friend Crystal took me to old Lehi where there's a little alcove behind some businesses with random stuff scattered around. She particularly liked this door, which is now a little boarded over.

There are so many good photos I don't even know where to begin. There are pictures of Portia sitting on this chair:

Then there are some on the picnic table:

I'd like to print out some bigger ones but how do I even choose? I mean, seriously, I made a folder to keep my favorites separated and over half the pictures (somewhere around 30) were in it.

I hadn't done professional photographs of Portia since she was an infant and then it was only once. When we were at Sear's (yes, Sear's), they made these black and white photos and put color in the eyes. Only problem was, they put the wrong color on the eyes, which meant it wasn't really my children's eye color. So Crystal did it the right way, using Portia's real blue:

Then there's always the one with the barrel, which just may be my very favorite:

On our way back, we went past this abandoned building where we had to hoist Portia up into a green window with the cool brown shutters. Another one of my very favorites.

I'm lucky: My dilemma is too many good pictures. I'll definitely take this problem over the alternative.


A year or two ago, Bianca informed me that a bunch of her friends call her "Sparkly" because she wears a lot of sparkly things--clothes with rhinestones and sequins. I'm not sure if they still call her that. From what I understand, some of the kids call her BBQ (her initials are BQ) so I guess that makes sense too. I think she has more reason now than ever, though, to be called Sparkly.

Although this isn't late-breaking news, Bianca's teeth sparkle. She's had braces now for about a year. Her mouth was quite a mess when the orthodontist started--underbite, crossbite, she still had all her baby teeth on top. But now she's got her braces and with encouragement from me for extra brushing, she's keeping them pretty sparkly.

On Saturday, Bianca added a little more sparkle. She sat in the chair at Claire's, tried to look as brave as she possibly could while two women punched holes into her ears and left sparkly rhinestone earrings. Since she was 10 ("two holes for two digits"), I'd said she could have her ears pierced. She wasn't sure at first that she wanted to do it, but finally decided yes, she did. She chose rhinestone daisies, which will go with everything since she has to wear these earrings for 6 weeks. She is very excited. There's even some sparkle in her eyes as she keeps saying, "I can't believe I did it."

Saturday, October 22, 2011


This has been the best autumn we've had since I moved to Utah. Usually fall lasts anywhere from 1 to 5 days in Utah. But this year, we're still going strong after three weeks of nice fall weather. And my garden is still producing.

We had quite a crop this year of cherry and heirloom tomatoes and lemon cucumbers. I didn't realize what monsters the lemon cucumbers would become. Their vines wrapped around and tried to pull down my raspberries (in fact, I found one lemon cucumber hanging from the raspberry bush and I had to thoroughly inspect it to make sure it was not actually growing from the raspberry plant). The lemon cucumbers turned our regular green cucumbers into long fat yellow cucumbers (see photo at very top). The vines crept into the other garden box and began pointing their leafy fingers right at our very healthy tomato plants, implying "You're next." I don't know if I'll do lemon cucumbers again; it sure was a good thing that they tasted really good AND that Bianca likes cucumber sandwiches (and any number of other summer salads that include a lot of cucumber). My neighbors seemed to like them too.

Bianca wants to grow them again next year, but if we do, it'll have to be somewhere on the other side of the yard away from the other helpless plants. Bianca offered up her garden box, but she's had a healthy crop of peppers this year (of all varieties and colors) so we'll see if we're ready for such a high maintenance vegetable come next spring.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

It's over, thank goodness!

Back when I was a new mom, I had planned the perfect Angelina Ballerina birthday party for Bianca's fourth birthday. I hand-crafted headbands with felt mouseling glitter ears, complete with pink bow and tuft of white fur. I had rosebud tutus to give each girl. I had packed treat bags with special Angelina Ballerina stickers, an Angelina Ballerina book, special everything. I spent hours scouring books and party web sites for the perfect ballerina games. I had ordered a cheesecake to go with the "mouse" theme. But when the girls arrived, no one wanted to play the games I'd planned, no one wore their mouseling ears, and no one would touch the cheesecake. It was a huge failure, and I nearly broke down into tears (it was half a year after Miranda's death so I wasn't really in my right mind anyway). This was the last "real" party I put my heart into. Sadly, it's tainted me ever since. Poor Portia is 4 and hasn't yet had a birthday party (I promise we'll do one when she turns five in April, no matter what.)

The point I'm making is that since that party six years ago, I refuse to create expectations about my kids' birthday parties. In fact, I've pretty much shunned the idea of even having the kids at our house since. I do a birthday party every other year for Bianca. And this year, she's turning 10 (tomorrow actually) and it was her year for a party. After much talk, deliberation, and research, I decided to have a sleepover (but late night for kids who couldn't stay the night). I had to pretty much gear up and accept it's going to be one really tough night, but it's only once every two years. I can handle that, right?

We decided to do a "spooky" birthday party. Bianca made up her own invitations, which included "You're in-Bited to a Birthday Party." She's turning ten so I said she could invite ten girls. She decided to include only kids from her class so that everyone would know each other and be able to have fun together. I bought a pack of create-your-own-Halloween-masks from Target which they made upon arrival, and we ate pizza, ate ice cream cake from Culvers (so good), and opened presents. Then they watched "Spooky Buddies." It was funny because some people were commenting "This is so cheesy" while others were really scared. It's hard to find a nice balance at this 10-11 year old group. They played a little Rock Band and the girls sang Dynamite together (which they had worked on at school in their "Sing-a-song" group and pretty much sang all night anyway).

Most of the kids left around 10. Only three girls stayed the night, which was about perfect. So the four of them all snuggled into the queen bed in our guest room and got to bed around 11:30 pm. Not too bad, really.

As I cleaned up the house this morning after donuts and chocolate milk, I felt a huge sense of relief. Bianca had the best time. And it was wonderful for her. And if it's wonderful for her, I should be happy. But really, I'm happy that it's over more than anything else!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Winter's Tale

On Saturday, Bianca and I went to Cedar City for the Utah Shakespeare Festival. We've tried to make it a tradition to go each year, didn't end up going last year, and just barely made it for this year. But I really wanted to go this year because they were performing The Winter's Tale. (I forgot to bring my camera so have no pictures from this weekend.)

We stayed at the Big Yellow Inn Bed & Breakfast and got a free upgrade to the Master's Suite (gotta love a pretty much dead weekend). Bianca even had her own little room with TV. She loved that. We did each other's nails and relaxed in the afternoon.

We were disappointed to find out they don't do a Green Show for the fall season, but fortunately the college students had a comedy juggling act going on that night. The play was great. The Winter's Tale is dear to me because it's the story my current YA novel is based upon. I'm about 1/3 of the way through and dearly lacking inspiration so I wanted to see the original play performed to help me move over my hump. This is one of the hardest of Shakespeare's plays to put into genre because if it were finished at the intermission mark (halfway through), it would be categorized as a tragedy, but after the second half (and the fact that everything works out just swell at the end), it is categorized as a comedy. In my novel, I'm choosing to focus on Perdita and Philomel's story rather than the parents. I did realize as Hermoine is pretending to be a statue at the end that I still need to fill in some holes in my own plotline--how does one fake dead/fake a statue in a real-life modern-day setting? I've got some things to think about.

Bianca ended up falling asleep midway through the second act and I had to keep shaking her because she was snoring. Silly tired girl!

We slept hard that night and woke up to a delicious B&B breakfast (this is really the reason why I prefer staying in B&Bs; well, that and the antiques!) and then headed the three hours home. We stopped in Santaquin for a scone the size of my thigh (not kidding) smeared with honey-butter. So worth the calories!

It was a short weekend, but a lot of fun! I hope Bianca remembers these special weekends we spent together when she's older. Hopefully she'll form a life-long love for Shakespeare too!