Friday, February 15, 2019

Valentine's Day and Karen's Birthday

This was a busy (and rather dichotomous) holiday for us, abounding in revelry but not without sorrow.

I was in charge of three Valentine's Day parties this year, which was a lot and had me feeling rather stressed out. I knocked the preschool party out on the 13th. Since I had the preschool kiddos last week as well as this week, I was able to stretch a project out over two weeks. I had the kids cut some hearts out of salt dough last week and this week we painted them (we did that first thing in the morning so that they would have plenty of time to dry before it was time to go home).

Then we headed downstairs to make some Valentine gingerbread (well, graham cracker) houses. The kids were rather excited for this part of the day and thundered down the stairs. Alexander, quite desperate to keep up, awkwardly limp-crawled after them for a few paces. Then he shook his head determinedly, stood up, and chased after them walking. I'm sure he thought he was running but really he was only haphazardly toddling toward the stairs until I scooped him up (because he believes he can walk down the stairs now that he's bipedal). But it was pretty cool to see him decide that walking might indeed be a more efficient mode of transportation than crawling.

Here's a picture of him painting a picture because he likes to think he can do everything the preschoolers can do (which is both adorable and frustrating):

And here's Zoë decorating her house:

These are the last of the gingerbread (well, graham crackers) that Karen assembled just before Halloween. She used up four of them with the kids, but there were four left over (because she had figured that we'd have time to do them for family night so she made one for me and Andrew and herself and Reid, but then that plan didn't pan out and she ended up making houses with the kids on a Tuesday while I took Miriam to organ). 

I had intended to have Andrew and his siblings decorate them the weekend of Karen's funeral, as a tribute to her (plus we had a ton of fall-themed candy), but that was too busy. And then I thought about breaking them out at Thanksgiving, but that didn't happen either. 

And then I thought we'd decorate them at Christmas for sure...but obviously we didn't.

It's just as fitting that we made Valentine houses, however, because Karen is a Valentine's Day baby.

So it was kind of sweet—a fitting tribute, really—to be helping all those little hands stick pieces of candy onto graham cracker houses that Karen herself had assembled. 

Part of me thought that would be a beautiful tradition to start—making Valentine houses every year in memory of Karen. Another (huge) part of me knows that putting gingerbread houses together is a lot of work (and that I don't like having that much candy in the house), so it might end up being more of a sporadic tribute, rather than an annual thing.

This morning I ran to the school to help with Miriam's class party. I had some very helpful moms sign up to be in charge of various stations, so it wasn't too taxing on my part. One of my stations didn't work out because of time/chaos/kids-who-can't-use-scissors/Alexander-screaming-and-insisting-on-being-held-so-I-couldn't-fully-assist-or-instruct-the-children constraints so I scratched it and used my fallback plan: a round of "Would You Rather..?" The kids seemed to like that just fine.

Then we had a cup stacking center (which I was also running), a candy-and-toothpick structure building center, a healthy heart center, and a candy dice game. 

When that party was over, I ran back home to feed the kids some lunch before we all headed back to the school for Rachel's party. For that party I just ran a "booth" called "Cupid's Arrows," which took a lot of prep time (I made about twenty popsicle stick bows and a hundred arrows). The kids had fun, but I was exhausted by the time the day was through and so was Alexander.

When I finally got him home he was so ready for a nap that when I grabbed his swaddling blanket (because, yes, we still swaddle him) he lay down on the floor so I could more easily wrap him up. I always think it's cute when he lets me know he's ready for sleeping by bringing me his swaddling blanket or lying like he did this afternoon (it's only happened a couple of times and really means that I've been ignoring his other pleas for bedtime, but I still think it's cute). 

While we were napping, a delivery man stopped by with a huge bouquet of flowers; they were for Reid from some of his BYU kids. But we all get to enjoy them.

Then Garrett (Andrew's cousin) stopped by with some cookie kits for the kids to enjoy because he thought we could use a pick-me-up today. That was so sweet of him! (He recently got a job at a Orem (words: factory, store, outlet...I don't know what to call it)).

Unbeknownst to Garrett, we already had plans for dessert so the kids were overjoyed when we told them they'd be allowed to have both desserts. What's a little more sugar on a day like today? With how much candy these kids brought home from school you'd think it was Halloween all over again!

Benjamin has been feeling rather complicated emotions lately. He brought home a book from school that he'd made called, "My Sad Memory," and pulling it out of his backpack was like a little punch in the gut because, well, I just wish my kids didn't have to grapple with these difficult emotions at this young of an age:

My Sad Memory, By Benjamin Heiss
My sad memory happened when I was six years old [edited to add: he is still six years old].
I was at the hospital.

I was with my family.

My grandma got sepsis and had to go to the hospital. That night we had to go there, too.

When we were at the hospital she died. [edited to add: Not quite; we left before she died, but she was within a couple of hours of death when we visited her, which is close enough to death; Andrew, Emily, Jacob, and Reid were the only ones there when she actually passed]. We went home and felt very sad. [edited to add: that part is very, very true].
He made her a birthday card on Sunday morning and asked if we could have a birthday party for her this week, but I told Reid that I wasn't sure I could pull off a cake of any sorts this week (because three Valentine's Day parties, y'all). Reid suggested that he pick up an ice cream cake, but then his friend told him a super easy ice cream cake recipe so instead we made our own ice cream cake last night.

All you do is, well, let some ice cream sit on the counter for fifteen minutes, scoop it into a preprepared graham cracker crust, and pop it back into the freezer. So, pretty easy.

We sang Happy Birthday and then divvied out the ice cream pie/cake.

And then we decorated cookies (which some children ate and some children packed in their lunchbox for school tomorrow):

So, you see, it was a busy and fun and beautiful but also melancholy day. It was nice to know people are still thinking about us. It was nice to be silly together, too.

Oh, man.

Reid went to cut himself a piece of ice cream cake but got frustrated with the crust because it kept breaking where it shouldn't.

"How do you cut this?!" he asked. "It keeps crumbling."

"You have to be nice to it," I instructed, referencing an earlier joke we'd been telling the kids about how Emily's piano teacher once told her to 'address the piano' before her recital and so Reid told her to say, "Hello, piano!"

"Hello, pie!" Reid said slowly to the ice cream cake, enunciating each syllable. "I am going to cut you now and then I will put you into my acid-filled stomach."

And I died laughing because my brain, which has been so good at parsing things lately (Disco? Very.) was drawing tree diagrams with lightning speed as he spoke.

My brain skipped through the bulk of his sentence parsing with ease: "Hello, pie! I am going to cut you now and then I will put you into my ac..."

My brain slammed on the breaks. Because...wh...wh...what?! He was going to put the pie where?!?! That can't be right! We are not a swearing family! Grandpa does not swear!

" stomach," my brain finally registered.

Oh. stomach. That makes sense.

When I told Andrew and Reid we were all laughing so hard we had tears rolling down our cheeks (while the kids were left in the dark, the joke having flown right over their heads).


Andrew and I have spent our evening romantically working on math problems. I'm trying to master special right triangles (who knew there was such a thing?! and how does that make the other right triangles feel?) while he is revising a test that he promised his class he'd have out by 7:00 tomorrow morning.

We did, however, take a study/test-writing break to enjoy an episode of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Andrew even made a bowl of popcorn for us to share because it was a special occasion.

So there we were, cuddling on the couch, watching a show together, and we finished the popcorn.

I took the bowl from Andrew's lap so that I could set it down, but it slipped out of my hands! I lurched forward to grab it, which was a bad idea because obviously I wasn't sitting on the couch like a normal person—bottom on couch, feet on the floor. I was sitting on the couch with my knees tucked up in a little ball—because that's ten-thousand percent more comfortable, that's why.

Anyway, when I lunged to correct my grip on the bowl it somehow made one of my legs slip off the couch so I ended up not only dropping the bowl but also kicking it across the room. The bowl went flying, spraying unpopped kernels all over the place.

"What?!" Andrew said in complete shock, already laughing. "What did you do that for?!"

"It was an accident!" I said quickly.

"Really?!" he asked incredulously. "Because from my perspective it looked like you held the bowl out and punted it across the room!"

"Honest!" I insisted and told him all about losing my grip and lunging to get it and how my leg involuntarily flew out from under me. It was like shooting a rubber band—my leg was positioned just so and—pew!—out it went. They call that potential energy.

And we thought we'd laughed hard over Grandpa's acid-filled stomach! We had to pause the show to laugh about the big mess I'd made.

Andrew cleaned it up (his Valentine's Day present to me; I'm so lucky).


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. ...because the author apparently can't type. Some tears, some laughter. Some tears caused by laughter.

  2. .....oh thanks for the laugh.......still laughing.

  3. oh my gosh i snorted at the punt!