January 2, 2018

Sand Pies

I needed a vacation. Bad. I was stressed and snappy and in a lull and not at all I decided to take matters into my own hands, and go to Mexico. 
In my family, we always do Thanksgiving right. We divided up the meal assignments, and let everyone sign up for what they wanted to contribute to the Thanksgiving feast. My dad signed up to make the turkey, HOWEVER, when the time came to cook it, he admitted to never having cooked a turkey in his life. So Jordan came to the rescue, and we slathered it with garlic, olive oil, and all the herbs my dad brought from his garden, filled the inside with stuffing, onion, and an orange (that was my brilliant idea), and said a prayer. I'm being completely honest when I say that the turkey was the best I've ever had- it was so tender that it fell off the bone!
The turkey coming out perfectly was exactly like this.
(The Emperor's New Groove. It's on Netflix. You're welcome.)
The orange rolls were a hit, as was Kaden's pumpkin pie, which he made from scratch with pumpkins from my dad's garden (single ladies, take note).

One evening, Kaden watched all the kids for us, so we could go into town. We stopped at a churro stand, where we tried our very first caramel-filled churros, and nearly went straight to heaven right there on the boardwalk. Kyle and Jordan did their piña colada thing, where they harass the poor man mixing their drinks to discover his secrets (sugar-the answer is always sugar). And Kerrisa finally got the bowl she's been dreaming about for years.
Elle and Cambria spent hours making pies in the sand, and then bringing them inside for to us to eat. Here they are, presenting a few of their pies to us. Their pie shenanigans made cooking in the kitchen pretty interesting---whenever we couldn't find a bowl or a whisk or a spoon, we just had to check outside... in the sand. 
But look at those faces!!!!

Uncle Kaden was so sweet to take the kids on rides- they all love him so much!

The morning after Thanksgiving, the ocean was clear as glass, and perfect for catching a San Felipe favorite--trigger fish. The men pulled the kayaks down to the beach, and the kids had the most wonderful day on the water. London and Popi caught the biggest fish, and she was so proud of herself! Then the tide came in and washed the fish away from the rock it was laying on, and poor London was so sad!

The kids found a stick-bug... It died.
Our trip ended a day earlier than we planned, because Juliette almost fell off her bar stool, and Jordan slid across the room like a ninja/knight to rescue her, and broke his back. Jordan, you're our hero. 

Ruff Ruff Rescue

Elle, Henry, and Juliette are obsessed with this cute little show on Nickelodeon called Paw Patrol, where a group of puppies and their master work together to rescue anyone in trouble in Adventure Bay.  So Elle chose a Paw Patrol theme for birthday number 4, which was fine with me, because let me tell you, I'm running out of variations on the horse party.
Elle has made the sweetest little friend in her preschool class this year- and we found out when we invited their whole family over for Elle's birthday that I actually went to High School with her dad! Here are the two girls hugging after she gave Elle her birthday present. They are simply adorable together!

Maybe it's because she started preschool, or moved up to the Sunbeam class at church, or because she has suddenly embraced her roll as big sister of the twins, but I can't believe how much Elle has changed this year. She still walks on her toes, eats three apples a day, has the vocabulary of a twelve-year-old, and the biggest heart of any girl I know. She rides a horse named Bella, which is her greatest joy in life. Her imagination impresses me every day. ["Oh, no! The dragon is going to attack us with his fire balls! We have to call the Pegasus to rescue us! Follow me! Neigh!"] I can't imagine a world without her stubborn, spunky, and hilarious personality. 

And no need to worry---she's already requested a horse party for next year. 

October 16, 2017

A Thing or Two

Oh, twins.
I get one of two reactions whenever I'm out and about with the twins... one is the really naive and slightly eccentric younger woman who tells me how she ALWAYS wanted twins (!!!!), and the other is the older, more experienced woman on her third cup of coffee for the day, who is bothered by the sight of adorable tiny people, who rolls her eyes and tells me how full my hands are. So, all these encounters have really got me thinking---I should probably share what it's actually like having two-year-old twins, for anyone who has ever wondered, or who will ever have the great pleasure of experiencing this, too, someday.

-"Peanut, where is your diaper?" (apparently, my children are nudists)
-"Hawy did it."
-"Henry took your diaper off?"

-"Peanut, where are your shoes."
-"Hawy has it."
-"Henry took your shoes off?"

-"Henry, what happened?"
-"Mimi (what he calls Juliette) uh, uhu, hu, oo. (Now pointing at her; pause) Mimi."

The twins love to pretend to be cats or puppies. One starts meowing and purring and crawling on the ground, and the other one immediately follows, right behind the other. They then find me, climb up on me, and both of them lick me, while purring and nuzzling against me. A few minutes later, and they have both become puppies. They do the exact same thing, but as puppies this time, barking and panting until I pat them on the head and tell them what good puppies they are. They also love to pretend to be sleeping. They crawl under the covers of my freshly-made bed, close their eyes, and pretend to snore. Then they laugh and laugh at each other, because they both think there is nothing on this earth more funny than pretend sleep.

Oh man. This one is HARD. They always want the exact same thing at the exact same time, and even when I buy two identical toys for them, one twin ALWAYS takes them both and runs away, while the other twin cries. When Henry is the culprit, Juliette chases right after him and rips the toy from his hands, which then makes him cry, too. And when Juliette is the culprit, Henry melts into a puddle of tears on the ground until I come to his rescue. Each time, I make them come together, hug their twin, and say they're sorry. Talk to me in a year, and I'll tell you if they have finally learned to share!

They really look out for one another. If one twin falls down and gets hurt, the other twin is right by their side. Juliette will say, "Uh oh, Mom. Hawy sad. Ouchie, Mom. Beendaid, Mom? Medcin, Mom?" And then she'll sit down next to him until he is completely taken care of, and give him a hug or a kiss. This is also true if an older sibling isn't being kind--- The twins will come and tattle on London or Elle if they aren't being inclusive to their twin. Juliette will say, "Mom, Ellie shut da door. Hawy sad." And Henry will say, "Nunun (London) uh, uh no, no Mimi (Juliette)."--which means that London did something to Juliette, and I have to investigate to find out exactly what he's trying to tell me.

Yep, this is a category all its own. I really don't know of anything sweeter than two cuddly two-year-old's(*except maybe cuddly newborns). Henry and Juliette love to climb up on my lap, one on each knee, heads up against my chest, to read a book with me. Henry will brush my hair out of the way, and reach his hand up to touch my face, while I read Florabell over and over again. On Friday, when I put them down for their nap, the twins both laid on their tummies, and reached one hand out of their cribs to hold my hands. It was such a normal, no-big-deal hand-hold, but that moment really struck me. I don't know why. Maybe it's because they both did it at the same time, and maybe it's because we had had such a fun morning together and I was feeling extra grateful, but I teared up then and told them how much I love them.

It is really really fun to have two little buddies all the time. This year, Elle goes to preschool two mornings each week, so I have six whole hours just to be with the twins. We play at the park, we color, we go to Petco to see all the animals, and we pretend and imagine together. They entertain me endlessly: Henry, who is always trying to make me laugh and has never followed directions in his life, and Juliette, who is so sassy and rules the entire universe with her bossiness.

I crawl into bed each night. I am perma-tired. I can barely form a coherent sentence when I'm trying to speak to another adult. The attention, answering questions, teaching, diaper changes, naps, breaking-up of fights, snacks, drinks, outings, re-directing, playing, and all the crazy loving of two very different two-year-old's for 14 hours each day is some serious work.

This year, at the twins' birthday party, I was completely overcome with emotion. When the dinner started, I tried to welcome our family, but as I began to speak, it got caught in my throat instead. Looking back now, I think it's because there is SO MUCH LOVE--a kind of love that I never knew I could feel, for these two crazy little twins. Sometimes, the feelings come like waves, and sometimes, the feelings overwhelm me like a flood, and I can't believe how special it is that they are mine.

When people ask me what it's like having twins, I usually say, "It's the hardest and most wonderful thing in the world. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, and yet, I wish that everyone had the opportunity to be a twin mom, because there really is nothing better." Do you see what I mean about the coherent sentence thing?! And even though this doesn't actually make any sense at all, I promise you, it's true. I guess you're just going to have to take my word for it...

October 2, 2017

All the Squirrels

The very last box to check on the Garvin summer vacation list for 2017 was our 2nd annual family reunion. My last visit to Lake Tahoe was a cousin's trip with Nani and Papa when I was a teenager, so it had clearly been much too long.

On the way up our beautiful state of California, I somehow managed to convince Kyle that what our kids really needed was to go tent camping. I don't know how I do it, really. My poor husband!
----But also, how boring would his life be without my antics? I also begged him to take the scenic route, which took us through the national parks.
I can happily say that this time, I was right.

I packed dinner and breakfast in individual tin foil wraps that we cooked over the fire, and the kids enjoyed smores for dessert AND smores in the morning after breakfast (just to seal the deal). I had some pretty happy kids.
-Notes for next time? We need pads to go under our sleeping bags---because good heavens, sleeping on the ground just isn't what it used to be. Also, scrambled eggs seriously stick to tinfoil. Soooo maybe no omelets next time.

After playing their little hearts out around the campsite, the kids were filthy. Henry's dirt had dirt on it. So I decided to buy a shower token and bathe all four the kids together before we officially left the campground for Tahoe. I scrubbed them all from top to bottom, while the powerful stream of water tickled their little bellies, and they laughed and laughed like I've never heard them all laugh before. Then I burst out laughing, because who can resist the laughter of four naked babies echoing in a campground shower stall?

As we pulled into Tahoe that evening, we watched as the sunset lit up the lake and the night sky. It was breathtaking.

Our first major activity there was family night. Kyle's mom and sister had done some family history research, and came to the reunion with photographs and stories from their ancestors. His great, great, (maybe another great or two) grandpa built the first church in Oregon, and helped establish a town there. Kyle's sister, Kaedi, brought a succulent for each family to take home from the grounds of that very church.

We spent hours and hours at Donner Lake and Lake Tahoe. Our kids swam and played in the sand with their cousins until dinnertime. The adults stayed up late visiting and sharing stories about our year apart. It was uplifting and motivating, because we all share such strong faith, no matter the trials that come our way.

Peanut LOVED all the squirrels Lake Tahoe has to offer, which she called "bunnies" the entire week.
-"Look, Mom! Bunny! Tree! Outside! Tuts (touch) it!"
-"No, Honey. That's a squirrel."
-"Yes, Honey. Squirrel."
-"Oh...( 2 second pause) Look, Mom! Bunny!"
(repeat x12)

On our final day together, we had the annual family talent show. I was kind of hoping my nephew, McKay would perform another comedy act to rival last year's, but he did wonderful performing a piano piece instead. All the cousins sang a song or played the piano- even Peanut sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to an adoring audience. Kimball and Taylor brought back their mind-reading magic show, which was once again, a huge hit. But the crowning jewel of the show was Kyle and Marc performing "Take It Easy" on their guitars.

I am one lucky wife.

September 5, 2017

London is Light

My lovely little London turned 6 last month, and she wanted a Moana Pool Party...

My grandma made the beautiful flowers, and everyone ate Hawaiian pulled pork sandwiches, tropical fruit salad, and heart of Te-Fiti sugar cookies. I made this creamy watermelon coconut juice, and pineapple infused water, too!
London and I made her pinata together in the days before her party, which was so so fun! We had a plain, round pinata that we decorated like a kakamora (the coconut pirates from the movie), with tissue paper and mod podge. 
London did such a good job!
The pinata may or may not have ended up on the ground halfway through the kids tying to break it open, and there is a slight chance Kyle ended up dumping the candy out by hand, but they all loved it anyway.
I had this kind of crazy idea to surround the fence all the way around the pool with palm fronds. And naturally, I asked the only person I know who would've agreed to do it: my dad. In a truly Laythe-Hartwell-kind-of-way, he knocked on a complete stranger's door and asked them if he could trim their palm trees for free. I'm pretty sure they thought he was insane, but they said yes anyway, and my dad showed up to the party with a truck-load of palm fronds.

London wanted a vanilla cake this year, so I spruced it up a little bit with marshmallow frosting I shaped like little ombre waves.

In these pictures, London is saying, "Oh my gosh, I LOVE THIS!" or "This is EXACTLY what I've always wanted!" We'll just call these her facials...
For her present from us, I picked out a wooden doll house and my dad had it built for her. I stayed up til midnight all week, paining and mod podging floors and wallpaper, until it was just right. 

My midnight shenanigans... 
It was SO sweet to see her face!
After we said goodbye to all of her darling friends, Kyle and I took London on a special date downtown. Isn't she just the cutest six-year-old ever?
London is light. She is endlessly obedient, helpful, observant, tender, and loving. She cares deeply about making us proud and doing the right thing in every situation. She's an insanely talented artist, who sketches, paints, and colors at all hours of the day. I'm not sure how it happened, but I blinked and my baby has legs three feet long and goes to first grade. 

I hope she felt as special as she is to me on her 6th birthday!