Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Best Surprise

If you read my earlier post, you know that my mom just turned fifty. When my dad turned fifty we threw him a surprise party with all his family. We wanted to do something amazing for my mom as well. We know she hates surprises with lots of people and prefers intimate, close-knit gatherings instead, so we decided to try to figure out how to get her together with all her kids as her surprise. As we tried to plan how to make that happen, there were some far-fetched ideas flying around.

Here are some of the snippets of the emails sent between us children and Dad:

Dad: I suggest one of my wonderful daughters fakes a pregnancy and she has to go to Utah for the baby....The problem with this is one of you would have to fake the idea that you got pregnant in July or August. Is this even a possibility? Just throwing out ideas.

Sadie: It totally is for me! Remember I called Mom about a month back about being pregnant and really sick. She knows I am still sick and that I haven't taken a test yet so she will buy it! 
*Disclaimer.....I am not pregnant...we think

Kyle: So we're all clear, Sadie is now "pregnant" and in dire need of Mom to come help out sometime in March. That is only five months away, so if you only became pregnant about two months ago, we're talking a 7 month term baby. That means we especially freak Mom out that you went into labor early and she scuttles off to the airplane all mother-bear like and bam... surprise party.

Scott: What we could do if that is too risky is get sandy in on it, and have her plan a birthday trip with her just like they went to hawaii together but this time to some exotic place in utah, we could put all the fake getaway details together for the trip propaganda etc. She also could convince her to come so she can see her kids or something extra. They fly down and bam its not a getaway but a surprise party with everyone here. 

Kyle: Another option, if we really like the do-it-in-UT vein, is to pretend Poly's parents are coming to the USA (finally) and they really want to see Mom and Dad. Mom may object, at which point Dad points out (truthfully or otherwise) that he's been having this really uncomfortable feeling about needing to see his mom again, and soon, and that they could do both simultaneously. 

Katrina: Or Grandma could need Mom for something? Health?

Seeing some reality needed to brought to the conversation, I finally brought some sense to the table:

Kari: I really don't think we should do the fake pregnancy thing. As a mother I know how worrying and disappointing it would probably be for mom to fly all the way out there and to anticipate seeing her first grandchild from one of her daughters and then arrive and it's all a joke. The disappointment could possibly outweigh the benefit of the celebration...especially where mom is concerned. 

Also, while thinking about it I just don't see how to get her to Utah at that time of the year without her figuring out a party plan. It's all too suspicious for that time of year and with her being so busy with the house selling. I don't know that she'd go for it. Also if she's going to have a party she would most enjoy it with all her kids there and not a huge party. That being said, I think the best surprise would be to have her head to a weekend getaway with dad for her birthday and then showing up at a place where all her out of town kids are, and then  the rest of us show up and we have a small weekend together.

I really liked Katrina's response to my idea:

Katrina: Kari is a genius. Amen.

Everyone sort of started to default to this plan, and with everyone working together, we were able to pull it off. My Aunt Sandy helped with flights, we had help from a ward member in finding a house to stay in, we picked the weekend, and then we planned and waited. We wanted to pull of the weekend with everything taken care of so my mom didn't have to worry about managing anything. Katrina and I took care of the food, Scott and Sadie the activities, my dad the house and keeping mom away to be surprised, and others with their own various assignments.

We also wanted to pull it off without my mom having ANY idea that there was a surprise coming. And if you know my mom, you know this is super hard, but we did a pretty good job. By the time of the surprise, she had an idea that there was a surprise, but she thought it was some get together my dad was planning; she had no idea what it REALLY was. 

The afternoon of the surprise, I rushed and picked Scott and Polyana, and Sadie and Taylor from the airport. Then we rushed to the cabin where everyone else was already gathered and ready.

We had a few false alarms, when we were told she had arrived and we all rushed to hide behind walls and counters, but she hadn't really. The hiding and anticipating of the surprise is the best part, so it was fun to enjoy that multiple times, though we jabbed at Brigham and Ryan for having us hide early.

Ammon took the hiding seriously. Even when we realized we didn't need to hide anymore because she wasn't at the cabin yet, Ammon remained curled in a ball on the floor...just in case...

When my mom finally did arrive and we surprised her, it was epic. She didn't really know what to do at first, there were a few tears, and of course she automatically worried about where the money came from to get us all together. She was so surprised to have all her kids together, and so touched. It was wonderful.

We spend the night talking and laughing and enjoying everyone together. It doesn't happen often with half of us living in different states.

The next morning we spent eating a big breakfast, sleeping in, and relaxing with more conversation and catching up.

Then we embarked on our grand plans. My mom loves ferry rides so we had a nice ferry ride planned. Mom, of course, stepped in and improved our plans with more fun ideas and we had an exciting day ahead.

An hour-long ferry ride to Bremerton began our excursion. It was Brigham and the kids' first ferry ride, along with others of us, and the kids loved it. Ferry rides are quite fun, and we had time to get wind-whipped, enjoy the water and views, and eat lunch on the way over.

At Bremerton Island we enjoyed the free Naval Museum.

Humorously, all the men took time to read the sign, while all the women glanced at it and were ready to move on with the kids.

After the naval museum, we visited a free Bug Museum that was pretty sweet. No pictures here because my daughter is so petrified of the snakes that when she saw one just inside the entrance, she literally screamed and cried in terror and I had to forcibly drag into the building. Luckily Grandpa Nils calmed her down and she eventually sat and watched a giant yellow and white cobra climb up onto the ledge in it's cage with me....although she was clinging to my hand very tightly.

We played at a park until our ferry ride back, and then had dinner at Zoopas. Brigham lamented the entire time that he wasn't at Zupas in Utah. The night brought more talking late into the night, and then Sunday morning we had church and family pictures, then played some games, ate dinner, and everyone left to fly home. Short, but so sweet.

This time together was extra special because it's the last time we'll all be together for four or five years because of upcoming missions. It truly was wonderful. I was worried we would all get together, but that we wouldn't have a good time. Luckily, the opposite happened. It really was the best weekend. How I've missed staying up late into the night talking to Kyle and Katrina, or laughing with Scott, or talking sister stuff with Sadie. We all worked cohesively together and enjoyed every second. And we were able to give Mom something she truly wanted and truly loved. 

I echo what Kyle emailed out later: Just wanted to say this last weekend was one of my favorite times in memory. I love you all and am so grateful to have you as my family. 

Happy Birthday Mom, you deserved everything that went into this and more. 

We're a crazy bunch, but we're kinda the best....especially when we're together. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lydia's Golden Birthday

This year Lydia arrived at her golden birthday. Many people have asked me what that means. As Brigham explained to me when we were married, it means that the age you are turning is the same as the date of your birthday. So Lydia turned six on the sixth of March. We kind of made a big deal about it.

I figured she's only going to have her golden birthday once, why not give her a really special memory of what her family did for her for her golden birthday.

I got her a cute little golden dress (thank you Amazon for having cheap clothes that I can get in two days when I decide last minute that I want her to have one for her birthday).

I also made a gold and white sparkly birthday banner, and decorated the house with ribbon, balloons, and sparkly stars. 

The night of her birthday, we had a family dinner. Lydia choose a cream cheese pesto pasta that is DELICIOUS with garlic bread, salad, and red jello. My kids are a fan of the jello.

Lydia received her weight in cheetos.
And then we opened presents,

She screamed with joy when she FINALLY received her Ana and Elsa dolls from Grandma Becky.

And had her cookie cake.

Since Lydia hates cake, she always requests a cookie one. Last year I made a chocolate chip cake, and this year I tried a Funfetti Sugar Cookie Cake

While it wasn't too hard to make, just note that when a frosting recipe calls for butter, they don't mean sticks of margarine. Growing up we didn't differentiate between the two, so margarine is butter for me and it made for some oily, separated frosting. Whoops. 

The cake was good, but not what I expected. I wanted either a definite sugar cookie or cake batter taste, and it wasn't either. Lydia and I both agreed that the chocolate chip cookie cake is better.

The one really special allowance I made for Lydia this year is that she was able to have a birthday party with friends. We warned her that this was only because it was her golden birthday, and that normally family parties would be the norm. 

So the day after her birthday, we had a little girl birthday party. Lydia had six people she wanted to invite and her one game request was to "play the one where you are blind-folded and have to pin something."

We played pin the star on the wand.

The girls came in and colored their stars, and then each girl was blind-folded and spun around six times (for how old Lydia turned) and sent off to pin their star. Lydia's is the one on the TV. Ammon's ended up in the kitchen.

Next came musical-pass-the-fingernail-polish.

While the music played the girls (and Ammon) passed around gold and pink shades of fingernail polish, and when it stopped they painted one finger whatever color they were holding until all fingers were painted. Besides some passing-challenged children, this game was a hit. The girls loved to exclaim when their pattern was ruined or what color they had. They also loved that they got to take a fingernail polish home.

 I think I would play this with older girls, however, due to my having to take over and rush around painting a million fingers each time, after discovering fingernail polish was ending up all over when the girls tried to do it themselves. 

The final activity was a craft where they made golden flower pens.

The girls kept saying incredulously, "We get to keep these?!"

Also, our dear friend Helen Walton finally arrived to the party. Her invitation was lost in the mail, but on Facebook she was able to ask where it was so I was able to realize the mistake. I let her know the where and when of the party and she made an appearance. It was a hoot :)

Next came presents.

And after all that fun, of course refreshments were need to replenish our energy.

We had goldfish, golden chocolate eggs, kettle corn, vanilla wafers, a pyramid of golden oreos. Perfect treats for little girls and boy - they truly enjoyed them.

Luckily the weather was gorgeous and they were able to eat and play outside in the sunshine until parents arrived to take them home.

Lydia had a blast and  announced, "This was the best birthday I've ever had!" I'm so proud of this sweet, smart, beautiful girl of mine. It was so fun for me to be able to spoil her and celebrate the day she made me a mom and came into this world. Oh how I love, love, LOVE her. Happy Birthday Baby, may you always feel as loved and as special as you did this year, because that is how we feel about you always! Love, Mom.

Lydia's Six Year Birthday Interview

1. What's your favorite song? Let It Go
2. What's your favorite thing to do with Mom? Go to the store
3. What's your favorite thing to do with Dad? Play with him
4. What's your favorite day of the week? Sunday because I can go to church and learn about Jesus
5. How old are you? six
6. Who is your best friend? Emery
7. What's your favorite thing to do?  Play with Ammon
8. What's your favorite color? Gold and pink
9. What's your favorite food? macaroni, hot pockets, and chips
10. What do you like to do with your family? Play with my family
11. What's your favorite toy? My Elsa doll
12. What do you want to be when you grow up? An actress
13. What makes you happy? Being nice
14. What makes you sad? When I don't get to have play-dates
15. What's your favorite show to watch? Jake and the Neverland Pirates
16. What's your favorite book? Look and Find books
17. What do you like to learn about? Jesus
18. Where do you like to go? The park
19. What's the best part of your birthday? Presents
20. What's your favorite treat? Sour Patch Kids and Reeses
21. If you could meet someone famous who would it be? The Prophet
22. What's your favorite movie? Frozen
23. What's your favorite game to play? Chutes and Ladders
24. What sports do you like? Soccer
25. What do you like to wear? Dresses 
26. Who's your favorite princess? Cinderella 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Birthday Post for My Mom

We've been having some big birthdays in my family this month. Lydia turned six on the sixth, so we partied for her golden birthday. However, TODAY my mom turns 50, which I hear is the true golden birthday. So despite her anti-birthday attitude, I'm going to write her a birthday post about all the aspects of her that are unique and golden to me.

I love this picture of my mom. Besides the golden sun shining off her hair, it shows her connecting to her child and you can see the love on her face. And really, that's what she does. She takes an interest and is so invested in EACH of her seven kids' lives. As I sit back and observe her talking to us, I'm always amazed at how she keeps track, and cares, and knows each one of us individually. It seems daunting to me, but she does it. And she does it well. I know if I need to know what's going on with one of my siblings, I just need to ask my mom. And really that's how it should be.

My mom has rock solid faith. If you ever have doubts, if you feel your testimony fading, just talk to my mom about it. Your faith will be strengthened just by listening to her and feeling her strength and surety. Anytime I'm struggling with questions or having a hard time, I know if I bring it up she will have an answer for me. And even if she doesn't, her faith in the Lord's plan always is enough to reassure me. Her clean-cut, unshakable grasp of the gospel is so beautiful. Her passion and desire for us to have this same knowledge comes through every time she teaches. Happy covenant-keeping children embodies her desire for the family, and four of her children sealed in the temple is evidence of her desires, prayers, and hard work.

My mom is also one smart cookie. I know if I can't figure something out, she's the one to call. From taking care of sick kids, to finances and taxes, to fixing computers or setting up electronics, she usual can figure it out. Her education and drive have provided so many opportunities for her. That example has been amazing, and her efforts to push her children to achieve all we can education-wise has installed a love for learning and progression that I will ALWAYS be grateful for. My mom made sure each of us knew that we were smart, and because we are smart we have a responsibility to do something about it. Her high expectations are a blessing I still value.

My mom is a pro sliver-remover. Seriously, she's the best. She's got tweezers skillz. Even ask her, she'll let you know how fantastic she is at removing those things. Ever have a sliver problem? Call my mom!

My mom is so full of stamina and resilience it amazes me. I cannot tell you how many times she has been sick with vertigo, or with a baby, or with any illness, and yet she carries on anyways. There are times where most people would be out flat and yet, she is still going and doing and going and doing. Sometimes I wish she would take more of a break, but it's just not in her nature. "It has to get done, what else am I suppose to do? I just do it" is a motto that she has passed down to me. I always find myself thinking, well my mom would just do it anyways, so I can too.

And despite all that hardcore talk, my mom also loves to have fun! Games and excitement are something that she loves, and it has always brought good times and fun to our family.

We had a blast doing our mini amazing race in Seattle together, and that is just an example of the type of fun my mom is up for. We're already gearing up to do it again :)

She plans pretty much the BEST vacations ever, and the amazing trips we've taken are some of the most special memories I have.

Oregon Coast

Capitol Reef

In fact without her, we wouldn't have gone anywhere fun. Ever. My dad is more of homebody, and it's her time planning, saving, and orchestrating the trips together that allowed for time together to strengthen our bonds and left us with lasting memories. I remember how excited she was starting out on each trip and her excitement while seeing everything. That excitement added something to each trip and is something I want to carry through with my own family and children.

I also love the little things we tease my mom about. I personally enjoy taking sudden terrible photos of her.

Aren't these pictures just the best? Now imagine a rolling of the eyes, a threatening glare, and a "you'd better delete that!"  Ha, fat chance. These pictures are pure gold. Plus everyone knows how gorgeous you are, so it's good they finally get to see that you are human too.

We also love to tease her about all the quirky ways she says words. Examples:

Penguin, mom pronounces "pinguin"
Wolf, "woof"
Naked, "necked"

There are more, but these three we love to rile her up about.....along with crying at movies, caring TOO much about trying to make everyone happy, and her friendly slaps on the arm or across the head during games or other times we've irritated her.

And this is her explaining why she does the things she does.

Oh, how we love you!

Now I could drone on and on about the amazing person that Becky Busby Nelson is. But for those of you who know her, you already know. She's quiet and introverted to the public, but shes a pillar of strength and a foundation of peace. She keeps us rooted but lightens our lives up with faith, fun, and family.

I really hope she has a special birthday, because really she deserves the world for being so amazing at everything she does. She's the gold that makes this birthday special.

I love you Mom, you truly are the best and I am what I am today because of you. Happy Birthday! Love, Kari

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Tappana Times: The Month of Love and Crazy Hair

Well February passed by in a blast. My life seems to get crazier and crazier, but I'm determined to keep up with this blog and writing about things that are important to me. So here goes, our February:

Crazy hair day at school left me with two girls to crazy-it-up. So we went wacky and it was fabulous.

I also had my first day as a substitute teacher. I'm working for a more intimidating district and I signed myself up for all ages. Considering I only will take jobs on Mondays and Fridays, I need as many opportunities to work as possible. Basically, every Monday and Friday I'm terrified when the phone rings of what assignment I might face. If I have a high school class with no lesson plan, I don't know what I'm going to do.... I guess each period we'll all be playing heads up-seven up until the bell rings...

So far I've subbed a third grade class and a a high school special ed class. Both went well, and I've been blessed. I'm sure I have my days ahead where I will be crying, but for now I'll count my lucky stars. I'm just grateful that it's a job that lets me choose my available days to work, and it's helping me decide if teaching is something I'm actually interested in pursuing.

Besides substitute teaching, I've had the fun of finding love notes around the house for my Valentine's Day surprise. Each note had a song quoted on it and my husband purchased each song as a gift. Pretty sweet if you ask me. I love Valentine's Day, and surprises, and this totally made my week. Brigham knows how much I love Valentine's love.

Speaking of love, I LOVED making the cute little Valentine's Day trees to decorate my house with. Ammon and I had a blast collecting sticks, attaching the paper roses, and arranging our masterpieces. My decorations were embarrassingly meager and this helped to liven things up.
Our other heart tree consisted of sticks and hearts cut out of paint color cards. I'm telling you, my four year old truly enjoyed helping with these, and he could have organized his sticks in his vase for a lot longer than I let him. I love having my own house again that I can get crafty in, and thanks Pinterest for the inspiration.

On actual Valentine's Day, we were in Idaho for Brigham's brother's wedding. 

The kids were actually old enough to enjoy flying this time and they did great! 

Ammon, while flying in the air: "We're going backwards!"

Lydia: "What?! We're already in Idaho?"

Used to long car rides, it was amazing to them how fast we arrived. Ammon grinned from ear to ear during the landing, with his hands firmly clamped on each ear. 

After dropping the kids off with Grandma Sue, Brigham and I went on our prearranged date to do a session at the Boise, Idaho temple. We were excited to attend a temple we've never been to before.

On the way there, Brigham was reading the Google reviews on the temple and mentioned how some guy was complaining how ugly the temple was, and how it looked like something out of a Lord of the Rings movie. I scoffed, "First of all: none of the temples would like something out of Lord of the Rings because they are so beautiful, and second of all: even if they did, that would be AWESOME."

When we actually approached the temple I had to eat my words, "Oh my goodness it DOES sort of look like something out of Lord of the Rings," but I also got to add, "and it IS awesome!" 

It was a beautiful temple, especially on the inside. I loved how beautiful the rooms were and our session was so spiritual. After waking up super early and making it through stressful traveling, it was exactly what we needed to set our minds for the rest of the weekend.

It's a good thing we had such a nice time at the temple, because the rest of the weekend didn't go as well as I had hoped.

While the wedding was beautiful and we had a good time, I was in crisis mode. You see, four hours before we were supposed to leave for the wedding, I found a bug in my hair. And guess what that bug was....lice.

I may have sobbed, I may have freaked out, I may have been a wreck....but really wouldn't you?

I was staying at a stranger's house with a bunch of family I hadn't seen in ages, I had a wedding to attend in a few hours, and I had lice.

Rewind to Sunday earlier that week: I found lice in Ammon's hair during sacrament meeting, so we rushed home and I shaved him down and picked out all the eggs stuck to the tiny bits of hair left on his head, while lamenting how my son was going to look like a cancer patient for all the wedding photos. I figured we had taken care of it. Well, I was wrong.

Fast forward back to the wedding day: I tried to pull myself together, keep my distance from others, and make it until that evening when I could do more about my situation.

Let me tell you it was miserable. I felt like a walking disease, and I was embarrassed to have anyone find out. Not to mention, I didn't really want to go near others...just in case. I was full of the heebie-jeebies and constantly trying not to scratch at my head and have a sudden freak-out hissy fit.

Despite the bugs, we still had a good time, especially the kids, and it was a beautiful night. These cousins sure LOVE each other.

 But I sure was glad when we were back at the house and I was slathering both Lydia and I down with lice shampoo (Lydia was just a precautionary measure). I just wanted to GO HOME! Brigham combed through my hair and we hoped the 100% guarantee on the lice spray truly came through.

The next day was Valentine's Day and we flew back to Washington.

We got to our terminal pretty early and had time to kill, so we relaxed and I enjoyed spending time with my three pretty amazing Valentines. 

When we made it home I was so grateful. Especially since I found more lice in my hair. I then declared all out war on those little DEVILS. Seriously, it was the lice zombie apocalypse on my head. I researched everything possible to kill those demons and did almost all of them. Here is a list of things I applied to my head, multiple times, multiple days (I pretty much sat in a pink shower cap with some concoction or another on my head for a week.):

Lice shampoo
Lice spray
Coconut oil
Apple Cider Vinegar
Tea Tree Shampoo
Denorex Shampoo

I also combed my hair every day for about two hours with a metal lice comb, wiping the comb on a paper towel between each stroke, blew dry my hair on high heat for as long as I could stand, and straightened every single strand as close to my scalp as possible. I washed my sheets and pillow cases twice a day and when I wasn't wearing a shower cap, I wore a hoodie so my hair couldn't touch the couch or anything to spread it.

Sounding scary? It was. From that first day I found that first bug, it took about three days before I didn't find anymore bugs (the lice shampoo DOES NOT WORK), and two more days after that before I didn't find anymore eggs. The bugs are easy to kill, it's the eggs that get you. It took another week or so to not want to freak out and scratch my head every time a hair moved, and my poor scalp and hair are still trying to recover. After all those products and heat about crazy hair!

I'll do what it takes.

Luckily no one else in my family got it besides me, but I felt horrible because my poor niece ended up getting it. Not only did I have lice in a stranger's house while on vacation, I spread it to my niece who traveled back to Utah, and I traveled on an airplane. I'm a country-wide lice infester! GAH!

So now that you are having your own nightmares from my lice story, everyone stop scratching your head that has been itching like crazy while reading this, and just spray your head with tea tree oil spray (they hate it) for extra mental comfort...unless you live in Washington, because then you truly need it in the the spring and fall when those devils become an epidemic. 

Sigh. Moving my traumatized self on.

On a happier note, I was able to recover a bit by going on a girls retreat with some friends in my stake.

It was SO nice to have a little time to do whatever I wanted without kids or responsibilities. We played games (I kicked everyone's butt at Bananagrams, and Pirate's Cove) and I had time to just eat, read, and sleep in. I was super nervous to leave, especially after my previous traumatic vacation, but the kids and Brigham did great without me and I didn't realize how badly I need that time. It was wonderful.

And a little crazy. Good crazy :) Like I told Brigham: what happens at girl's weekend stays at girl's weekend.

I'll end with these two adorable babes. Ammon was mysteriously cold one morning and shaking so hard from head to toe. He didn't want to finish his breakfast and could hardly play the tablet he was shaking so bad. Concerned, considering the only time this boy doesn't want to eat is when he is ill, and I wrapped him up from head to toe to warm him and up, and made him drink warm herbal tea. I was worried he would get sick, but after a small fever after he woke up from his nap, he was fine. It was a mystery. But he sure looked cute all bundled, so I snapped a shot.

And that's our crazy month of February. May yours include the love but not the lice in future years.