Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tappana Times: Beginnings of Winter

Brigham's birthday was on Thanksgiving this year. We spent it at my cousin George's house in Bothell.

His wife did such a fantastic job getting everything set up, and it looked beautiful with the triangle napkins and everything.

I made Brigham a special cookie-dough ice cream pie for dessert and it was a hit. Pretty much all of Thanksgiving was a hit.

We also had a snow storm. It'll probably be the only one we get this winter, so the kids spent as much time playing outside as they could stand. I loved the snow! I miss it!!

Ammon stayed out side with his Uncle Ryan for HOURS. We even went through multiple pairs of gloves, switching from wet to dry ones so he could stay out longer. They made a mini-snowman, then destroyed the mini-snowman. And in awesome-uncle fashion, Ryan pulled Ammon around the backyard in a sled.

In other big news: WE HAVE OUR OWN HOUSE!

It's a pretty cute house that we are renting. We live just down the street from my parents and are still in the same ward. Though the move wasn't far, it was still busy and stressful. Especially during the month of December with all the craziness that brings. We also had short notice, and everything progressed so quickly that the move was sudden and rushed.

But we're moved and it's SO nice getting our things out of storage, having our own bed TO SHARE, and not living out of these suitcases anymore.

It was quite hilarious some of the things I unpacked that sat in storage for a year, since I didn't think we would be living with my parents for that long. Ketchup. Flour....etc

It's nice having our own place, but I sometimes miss some of the fun parts of living with my family too. We were quite blessed with everything they did for us this past year, and in helping us move twice. I really have the best family.

Well, that's been us settling in. Soon I'll update with all of Christmas -because that's been a crazy fun, busy time too- and give a tour of our house. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Surprise Birthday Getaway

Brigham recently turned the big 3-0. And his birthday list was pitiful. So I put together what I knew he really wanted, even though he didn't even know he wanted it yet.

And it was great!

I asked Brigham on a date, but really had a fun getaway planned. I even packed Brigham's bags in secret for him so that he had no idea for the first half of the night that we were going away for the weekend.

I took Brigham out to dinner at Shuga Jazz Bistro in Renton. It's a snazzy name for a restaurant that has a bar area where jazz players come and perform live, later in the evenings, while people eat from a menu created by some famous chef who cooks southern cuisine. Although we ate too early for live jazz music, Brigham's salmon was DELICIOUS and my steak was good too. We were satisfied.

After dinner, I told Brigham the surprise part of the date was next. He was utterly confused as I took us to the edge of Lake Washington....until I had him pull the bags from the back of the car. Then he realized what the plan was and said, "This is exactly what I wanted! Just time away with you!" I knew it :)

The Woodmark Hotel is the nicest hotel I have ever stayed at. I tried to take pictures to show what I mean, but they just don't do it justice. Honestly, it's not THAT fancy, but for these two poor people that usually stay at La Quinta, it was just nice. The halls were fancy, the view of Lake Washington from the lobby's huge windows was gorgeous, and the divine rain-head shower in the bathroom -nicer than our own at home - made us feel pampered.

Probably the best part of the hotel was their fun Raid the Pantry feature. Basically from 10 pm-1 am, you get to raid the pantry that is full of snacks, treats, and goodies and you get to eat whatever you want. I had beef stew at 10:30 at night! Brigham scarfed sandwiches, chips, donuts, cookies, cereal....etc. He was like a kid in a candy store. I highly recommend all hotels start offering this feature, because it was awesome.

The middle picture is the view of our hotel from the docks.

We spent the next morning exploring the lake around our hotel. Windy and overcast, it was cool as we walked the trails and docks.  We always seem to take trips during the winter when the weather is cold and wet, so we weren't able to take advantage of the free paddle boats and bicycle rental they do during the summer, but it's something to remember for the future.

We had a great time escaping life for a night. It was the perfect birthday surprise for Brigham, and not only do I love surprises, I love pulling off surprises. Success!

Happy Birthday Brigham! You may be old now, and yes I did include the creepy picture of you at the bottom of this, but I wanted a picture where you can see the both of our faces together. Because that's how it should be, spending a weekend getting older together, for better or worse. And dear, even though you moan about your age, we're still young! I'm looking forward to many more weekends away together in the future. I'm proud of you for getting your new job and all the hard work you've been putting into everything. You're a great priesthood leader, father, husband, and person. Keep up the good work! Love you, happy birthday.

Love, Kari

Monday, December 1, 2014

Tappana Times: Or More Like Lydia and Ammon Times

I've been hard pressed to find the time to post here. I've had plenty to say, but unfortunately I feel like I'm rushing around constantly and barely have a minute to collect myself at the end of the day, let alone keep up with all the posts I have rushing around in my mind. So here goes a flood of pictures of my two littles, keeping up with this last month and soon a blog post with Brigham and I and our activities. Hopefully I'll be able to find more time somewhere soon.

Ammon's getting older, and therefore learning how to get into trouble and draw on furniture. He thought it would be fun to scrub all the colored pencil off this nightstand, but after it took awhile to start coming off - and it's still not completely gone - he was so exhausted he had to lay down to continue scrubbing. I was hoping all the work to clean would teach him a lesson and remove any desire to do such activities in the future, but the next week he did the same thing...except with fingernail polish...so that idea didn't work. (Update: he also did it again TODAY! I just discovered it after writing this. That naughty boy!)

Although they can both be naughty at times, they sure can be sweet. Ammon can't wait for Lydia to get home from school. Usually he comes with me to the bus-stop, but this day he stayed home. As soon as he heard the front door close, I heard the fastest pitter-patter of footsteps, and then "Lyyyyyyyyddddddiiiiiiaaaaaa!!!!". Lydia exclaimed back, "Hey Buddy!" And hug. Luckily, I had my phone ready and you get to join in on the sweetness of the moment. I. love. these. two.

These two have been working hard and Ammon has now mastered both upper and lower case letters, and Lydia got glowing reviews at our first parent-teacher conference. Thus they were both rewarded with a treat at the store. The next step for Ammon is to learn sounds and Lydia will now get to be in reading groups that are actually her level, which is 18....which I don't really know what that means.... But great job to both of them!

Besides working hard in education, they both worked hard to memorize their Primary Program parts and said them beautifully without help. Many people were impressed that Ammon had his memorized. Especially since it was, "Prayer is reverent communication with my Heavenly Father." Who gives a three-year-old the words "reverent communication" together? But he did good. He had been rushing through his part while practicing, and so I was working with him to slow down for the program. When it was actually his turn to say his part it went something like this, "Praaayyyeeerr      is     reveerrrent       coommuuunicaatiioon    with Heavenly Father." Hahaha, it was hilarious.

Lydia was all fabulous in pink, and she was assigned to give a whole talk about feeling peace after forgiving someone. She memorized her talk and looked adorable while she told everyone about forgiving Ammon for knocking down her block tower (she chose that example :)). People said they stole the show. I say of course they did. Hahaha, it's my blog so I can brag about them all I want right? I'm just a proud mom.

Even though we've been spending a lot of time learning and memorizing, Lydia and Ammon still have lots of time to play. And luckily this play-doh entertained them for almost three hours! It was heavenly. If only it weren't such a disaster to clean up, I might pull it out more often.

Ammon was looking pretty scraggily, so he received another of many haircuts. My heart hurt seeing his beautiful blonde hair all over the floor, even though I know it will grow right back. I'm sad every time I cut his hair, and I don't really know why. Seriously, so sad. Like I'm losing my son or something. It's confusing to be a mom sometimes.

And of course, one of the perks of living with my parents is impromptu cuddle time with Grandpa Nils. I love seeing them bond with my dad. I love sharing with my dad what makes up my whole world.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Happy Halloween from Madagascar!

It's been a fabulous Halloween season.

We had our standard pumpkin carving night.

Everyone was ready to dig in....except for Ammon. He was less than thrilled to come close to pumpkin guts. However, he enthusiastically cheered the rest of us on with continuous, "You guys are doing a GREAT job!"

I let the kids pick the shapes and theme for their pumpkins.

Lydia chose a happy, robot pumpkin with heart-shaped lips, while Ammon wanted a scary, happy pumpkin with angry eyebrows.

It made for a pretty good family of Tappana pumpkins.

During the day I was busy sewing our costumes. I made Brigham's and my costume from cheap items found at Goodwill.

I used this bed skirt to make 80% of the costumes. The picture above shows how I cut it up and sewed it to make a tail for Brigham's costume. There was one point I was nervous it wouldn't be enough, because I had everything all measured and cut out for my costume and then went to iron it smooth. Right when I set the iron on the materiel, this happened:

The iron burned a perfect hole into the fabric...right in the middle. I was so frustrated. Luckily, I had enough bed skirt to complete the costumes, but it was close, and I sure didn't like having to remeasure everything again. I truly enjoy making the costumes, it really brings Halloween alive.

Besides pumpkin night and costume making, we also had the Ward Halloween party to attend. Because I'm in the Relief Society Activities Committee, it was my job to help set up the backdrop for the photo-booth.

It took FOREVER, but we eventually had a pretty amazing backdrop, and I snapped a quick shot of my kids before it was overtaken by the eager ward family that night.

Lots of kids activities were included at the party that night: fishing, cake walk, pumpkin bowling, pin the face on the pumpkin, and more. There also was a pretty epic Haunted Spook Alley set up on the stage. And I mean epic.

Picture my brother Ryan growling in a horrifying mask that shots loud clouds of smoke, while emerging from a hidden tank of water up through a cauldron billowing with dry ice, JUST as two little girls go to grab a glow-stick from the creepy warlock sitting behind the cauldron (my deceptive brother, Kenny). AND then, after that traumatizing moment, imagine having to walk on a small wooden bridge, trying to get to the exit and having long scary hands come up from under the bridge and grabbing at your ankles as you are trying to walk....

Because that's exactly what happened. And that's just the last half.

I took Lydia and her best friend, Emery, through, and already terrified to death from the first two-thirds of the alley, the cauldron moment sent Emery over the edge. So I had to scoop her up, and rush to carry her out because she was screaming. This meant I had to abandon the already upset Lydia with all the spooky guys, as I ran carrying Emery. That sent Lydia hysterically trying to follow us, while the teenage boys aren't taking the hint of screaming, hysterical little girls to stop, and keep grabbing at our ankles. THEN we couldn't find where the curtain separated. It took like two minutes to locate it. That's a long time in that situation. And by the time we actually fell out of the spook-alley (well I had to run back in to find Lydia and carry her out as well), the entire ward was staring at us because you could hear what was happening throughout the gym.

I think Lydia accurately portrays how we felt by the end.

Luckily, no nightmares were had and the girls recovered quickly after decorating their personal, pumpkin sugar cookies. Sugar does the traumatized soul good.

Plus, trunk-or-treating still was to come, and I think any kid can recover from anything to make it to that.

People enjoyed our debut as the Madagascar family, and we had fun showing it off together. If you aren't familiar with the movie, Ammon is the lion, Lydia is the zebra, I'm a penguin, and Brigham is King Julian the lemur. Brigham's favorite part of his costume was the tail.

"I've always wanted a tail!" he told me.

We donned our costumes on again, Halloween night, ready for the trick-or-treating of a lifetime.

We went and made our rounds at the assisted-living home first (love trick-or-treating there, such a sweet spirit!) and then navigated through the neighborhood.

Due to our kids' love of candy, we were trick-or-treating for two-and-a-half hours. They complained about tired legs, but when we asked them if they wanted to go home, they insisted they still wanted to keep going and get more candy. So we did.

I'd say they scored.

It was different this year. It was the first time we've ever been trick-or-treating without other friends or family. Kayleen ran off with friends her age, and we didn't really have anyone else to go with, so it was just our little family. I enjoyed it that way, but also missed our Tappana family that we used to go with. Trick-or-treating with cousins is pretty special. Also, it was the first year the kids walked the whole way, and they were troopers.

Lydia's already changed her mind a million times on what she wants to be for Halloween next year, so we'll see what costumes I'm bound to make a year from now. I'm already excited, but also glad that I have awhile to regroup. So until then: Happy Halloween everyone! I hope your costumes tricked all the evil spirits away, and that you were rewarded with lots of treats for yourself :)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Tappana Halloween Party VIII

Even though we're stilling living with my parents, we were able to get back to our Halloween party tradition. We've been here long enough to make new friends to invite, and we had a (forgive me, but I must) SPOOKtacular time :)

Since it was a new crowd, I was able to recycle some games from previous parties that I liked, and use them again. Our first game was Bloody Letters:

Basically, you search through bowls of bloody letters (Spaghettios A-Z, which are AMAZINGLY hard to find these days. I ended up having to order an entire case off Amazon....so if you need any Spaghettios, I can totally hook you up) to spell Halloween words. Those that earned the most points for words spelled, won a prize!

The second game was anther one we've done before that people really enjoyed: Pass the Pumpkin. I carved up this bad boy, and then filled it full of cold, oily, cooked spaghetti. I also mixed forty-five chocolate coins in with the spaghetti. As Halloween music plays, people pass around the pumpkin and when the music stops, whoever is holding it gets to dig around and pull out as many of the coins as they can. After all the coins are dug out, whoever has the most wins a prize!

I didn't get any actual pictures of the game in action because I was busy manning the music, but it happened. And it was great.

The final game was a new one that I've been waiting for YEARS to play. I haven't ever really lived in an area that allowed for it and now that we're living in an actual house with a yard, it was perfect....or so I thought. 

The game is called Bone Hunters, and basically you take two different skeleton bone sets and hide the different bones around outside. Then you have two teams race to find all their bones and get their skeleton put back together first.

The weather throughout the day was gusty and dreary, but dry. I knew there was a chance of rain (it is Washington after all), but I felt comforted by how the day was going. And then a half hour before the party started, it began to pour. And I mean pour. I was devastated. All the planning, preparation, and excitement was going to be ruined by rain. 

Luckily, after we played our first two games, I checked the weather again and it ranged from misty to lightly sprinkling...which in Washington means all activities are a go. So I ran back in and cheered, and we began.

The teams split up guys vs. girls, with the boys looking for the orange skeleton pieces and the girls looking for the white. Each team had two flashlights to share. Much cheating went on with boys pushing white skeleton pieces deeper into bushes, and girls retaliating in the same way, but eventually the boys found all but two pieces of their skeleton. They opted to take a two minute time penalty for each location I had to reveal, and ended up winning the game even with the penalty and despite having an extremely difficult time connecting their skeleton pieces.

Really they only won because they stole one of the girls' pieces, and only put it back after everyone headed back inside. Count on the boys to have to resort to debauchery to win. Cheaters. 

And that was our last Halloween game of the night. We also, of course, played the Name Game, otherwise known as Celebrity, or for those who run in our circles,The Divorce Game. But that's just plain tradition, and it was a blast as usual, although the boys won again.

As we played our games we enjoyed spooky treats.

I made Boogers on a Stick, Witches Broomsticks, Baby Pumpkins, and Pumpkin Teeth. I also had a plain old veggie tray to add some actual sustenance. These are just the treats I made before everyone brought their delicious foods which then overflowed off the counter onto the table and other nearby counters.  

We also had a costume contest. Mary Poppins and her Chimney Sweep won skeleton goblets full of candy.

Pretty impressive costumes came out this year, and choosing who to vote for was tough. Also, here's your preview of the Tappana family costume theme for the year. Do you recognize what movie we're representing? And can you guess what Lydia and Ammon are going to be?

Although, my heart hurt missing many of the people that we are used to seeing at our Halloween parties (seriously, I was so sad), we still had a great time and loved keeping our tradition alive in a new place.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tappana Times: October

Whew! We have been a bit busy around here this month!

So far, in October we have played a lot of dress up!

Despite my gentle suggestions otherwise, Ammon prefers high heels, dresses, and princess crowns. He has his own gender-appropriate armor and capes, but he wants to be like his sister.

He keeps it real always wearing the crown backwards, though. That's what the cool kids do.

Ammon also likes to view his toys up close and personal.

Ammon is a mini-me of his father, but I'm afraid he's got more than Brigham's looks if he already needs binoculars to see.

After Ammon's done playing and down for a nap, Lydia likes to spend her afternoons home from Kindergarten dreaming.

I wasn't sure if she was writing a story or a song, and I wondered what she was thinking about, but I wasn't about to ruin the moment by asking. Instead, I snapped a beautiful shot and marveled at this girl of mine.

And then, of course, she noticed me and I got a smile as well :)

We've had Family Home Evenings learning about the General Authorities, preparing for General Conference.

And we celebrated Kayleen's ninth birthday!

October brings early, cold mornings, but snuggling with these two makes it somewhat bearable.

After bogging through the mornings, I've managed to get moving on this year's Halloween costumes. Keeping it cheap, I've done lots of sewing to get the job done.

I bought this bed-skirt at Goodwill for four dollars, and used it to sew multiple parts of our costumes. This is a sneak-preview of one of the costumes. Any guesses as to what we'll be?

Unfortunately, I had a small hang up as I was putting it all together. I cut out a piece of the bed-skirt - it was measured perfectly - and only needed to iron it before sewing everything together. I set the iron on and it instantly burned a perfect iron-shaped hole in the material.

Gah! I was so worried I wouldn't have enough white material left from the bed-skirt to complete both costumes, but luckily I had plenty and it ended up fine....well fine if you are ok with cleaning weird, melty material off a hot iron, and remeasuring and cutting all over again. Luckily, I was able to avoid an extra Goodwill trip.

Speaking of shopping at Goodwill...the last time Ammon and I went, he excitedly stopped me in the parking lot to look at a car parked nearby.

"Mom! That car is just like Aunt Caitlin's car!"

And low and behold, it is! I knew Ammon was good with cars, but this shocked me. The last time we were around Sam and Caitlin's car was this past summer, while we visited with them on vacation in Utah. The fact that he remembered they have a silver Honda Accord, and that he can see another car like it in the parking lot, remember and make the connection, just boggles my mind. And to think I've been comparing him to his sister and assuming his memory isn't as good. He just cares about different things! Who cares about letters? It's the cars that matter...to Ammon anyway.

Now our family is off to celebrate Halloween with four various celebrations scheduled in the next couple of weeks, so there will be plenty more to share!