Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

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Nov '13

The Day After Thanksgiving

We had this brilliant idea to go to Salt Lake City the day after Thanksgiving and to stay in a hotel right by the new downtown mall.

Then we remembered it was Black Friday. But we went anyway.

Getting ready took most of the morning, as things do with kids. When we were all finally packed we were on our way to Salt Lake City. We checked in to our hotel downtown, parked the car, and started pulling stuff out. That’s when John said, “Where’s the suitcase?” and our conversation went something like:

“I don’t know, didn’t you pack it in the car?”

“No, I thought you did.”

“No, I thought YOU did.”

And so we checked ourselves out of the hotel and transformed our overnight plans into a short daytrip.

We began at the Leonardo, a science and creative arts and technology museum.


Our first stop was the creative studio. Carissa, Wes, and I each made something out of clay. (Elizabeth played on the beanbag.)





Wes and Dad made a train. I made a turtle. Carissa made…I’m not sure what it is.



Next we went upstairs where the kids played in the pixel station.





Next was the green screen room. The kids could stand in front of the green screen and see themselves on a TV with a weather map behind them. They thought that was neat, but even neater was holding up a green piece of fabric and making themselves disappear on the TV. Cool science!


See how Wes is partially missing?



The kids spent a lot of time in the Motion Capture room, where they could dance to music in their bare feet. A motion sensor could pick up one person’s structure and while you dance, you can see your skeleton move with you on the TV screen. Carissa was too little for the motion sensor to detect her, but it worked for Wes. (P.S. Do you notice how he’s pulling the same dance move in the picture below as in the picture above from the green room?)


The kids loved dancing in this room, especially Elizabeth. Good thing the place wasn’t busy.



Even I got to rock it out with my kids.


John helped the kids make a stop-action film in the room near the dancing room, but I guess I didn’t take any pictures. They also used a paintbrush to touch a computer screen and create art.

By now it was 5 pm and kids (namely me) were getting hungry. We took the Trax train back to the City Creek Mall and walked around to find a place to eat. Turns out that on Black Friday, at a new mall, on the night Temple Square turns on its Christmas lights, restaurants are pretty busy around 5:30 pm. We went to four different places but all had an hour wait. We went to the top floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and got this picture:


I thought that might be the closest we’d get to the lights, but we decided to take a quick stroll through them before heading back towards our car. At least it was above freezing, which was especially nice since I left our kids’ hats and gloves and my scarf in our car back at the hotel parking lot.



It was about 6:30 pm. We thought we would go back to the hotel and end up at a drive-through somewhere. This was a little disappointing since we had been looking forward to a sit-down restaurant (which we haven’t done in a long while). Just as we were headed back through the mall towards our car John pointed out a Brazilian steakhouse. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask, so for the fifth time I asked what the wait was, and for the first time I got a “You can come right in” reply. Hallelujah!

It was a Brazilian churrasco-style menu where they serve yummy fresh-grilled meat at your table, and you can get additional sides from the salad bar. We were hungry, and the children were tired. It was pricey but we didn’t care. We weren’t paying for a hotel anymore, so why not?

And it was delicious. The filet Mignon, grilled pineapple, garlic mashed potatoes, cheesy bread, caramelized bananas, fresh Parmesan… Yep, it was a tasty dinner. Carissa made it through the whole dinner happily, but progressively more tiredly.


Elizabeth fell asleep in the stroller not too long after we sat down. Wes ate a little and then crawled into my lap and fell asleep around 7:45 pm. We enjoyed our peaceful dinner.



Gobble Gobble Grateful

Thanksgiving was this week. On Monday my brother Matt came for Family Home Evening, which we do together as a family every Monday night. We made cookies, had a short lesson about gratitude, and decorated our Grateful Tree with leaves.

Wes and Carissa enjoyed making cookies with Uncle Matt. They get excited when he comes (Wes says, “Uncle Matt–white car!” because he knows that’s what Matt drives). Carissa likes dumping in the ingredients, and Wes likes eating the cookie dough (Carissa can’t because she’s allergic to eggs).



Wes brought a pilgrim hat home from kindergarten.



Our Grateful Tree.



Nov '13

November So Far

It’s been a warm November. Time to play outside!



We like our hot tub. Wes and Carissa love “swimming” in it. Carissa likes to walk on her tippy-toes, but we have to watch her closely because sometimes she gets too brave.


I made muffins, and Carissa was a fan.

Writing is a difficult skill for Wes. But we keep working on it, and he gets a lot of help at school. Lately he has been getting notably better at it. Here he is writing the letter “E.” I’m impressed.



The kids and I made a Grateful Tree to decorate with leaves that list things we’re thankful for. This is Wes and Carissa cutting out leaves. Or, you know, trying to. Their scissor skills are still on the early side.



Wes loves making Lego towers. He’s quite good.


Wes and Carissa discovered they could give each other rides in the kitchen.


My mom and dad sent me a fruit basket from Edible Arrangements. It’s because I’ve been miserably sick since November 1, which culminated in a sinus infection last weekend, and I hurt my lower back and have been in physical therapy for it. My SI joint is locked, and I have problems with my lumbar (L3, L4, and L5). My back hurts every day, and my movement is limited. But stretching helps manage the pain, and I return for more physical therapy next week. However, I can’t exercise and therefore can’t work and teach my fitness classes for a little while.


Chocolate covered pineapple. Brilliant.


Reading in a box.


Painting nails all by herself.



The girls.


Wes and Elizabeth. That purple toy is everyone’s favorite, even Elizabeth’s. We set timers to help people take turns.


Wesley loves puzzles. He is good at them. This is his current favorite, a floor puzzle from the Llama Llama book series that I picked up at the book fair. It was the best investment ever, except that he lost one piece on the first day and we haven’t found it (we did dig one out from under the stove, though). It’s a 2-sided puzzle, and he does it every day.


Silly snuggler. Sometimes when I can’t find Carissa I’ll go up to her room and find her snuggled in her bed with blankets.




Sunday Nails

This was her first time painting her nails all by herself.




Fun Night

Tonight our neighborhood grocery store was having a holiday open house, with lots of tables with free samples and activities like face painting and banana car racing.

I was going to take Carissa, because she loves riding in the grocery cart that looks like a car. But she fell asleep at 6 pm while watching “Star Wars,” so we plopped her in bed and I went with Wesley instead. He was a perfect companion, and we had so much fun.

He pulled his green trolley cart behind him as we walked. He figured out real quick that if you stopped at a table, they would give him something. So we roamed around the store trying sample after sample after sample. Some Wes would eat right away, and others he collected for later in his green cart. We got cereal bar treats, mango lemonade, chocolate kisses, apples and caramel dip, an orange slice, mini hot dogs, a mini Snickers bar, peppermint ice cream, egg nog, rolls with honey butter, birthday cake, doughnut holes, bread slices, Oreo cookies…and the list could go on. They seemed to have run out of balloons, but a young man in a suit passed by us and asked if Wes would like his balloon, so then Wes had his own. And he clutched it as a prized possession the rest of the evening.

There was a race station where kids could decorate a banana in Mr. Potato Head parts, stick it on wheels, and then send it down a sloped track for a race. Wes won! He earned a bottle of True Moo chocolate milk, delivered by the sweet Miss Utah.

This was a fun night. Wes clearly had a fun time, and since he got to stay up past his bedtime he came home and crashed right away without even brushing his teeth. Could life be any better?










Nov '13

All About Elizabeth

Yesterday my baby turned one. Let me tell you all about Elizabeth.


Only a few days after Carissa was born I started to feel a desire to have another baby. Usually that’s the last thing you’d think about after giving birth, so I set the thought aside. Yet many times as my two kids grew up I’d look at them, and at our family, and feel like one was missing. Once I learned I was expecting in 2012 those feelings and thoughts disappeared.

Pregnancy challenges me. When I was seven months pregnant I received a new calling at church that was hard and felt overwhelming at first. I prayed that in exchange for my service, I would have help with my pregnancy and delivery of the baby. Wesley and Carissa’s births were very difficult in different ways.


I was due around mid-November but labor started around 11 pm on November 5th. It was Monday night and I was just getting ready for bed. I had stayed up too late watching a movie with John, and I felt so tired. Nonetheless, labor was happening. Around 1:30 or 2 am my visiting teacher came and slept on the couch while John and I went to the hospital. I had my first-ever epidural. Though the newness made me nervous, it was overall a wonderful, wonderful experience because for the first time I had a baby without the pain of labor. Wow.

When the doctor showed up I felt nervous again, remembering how difficult pushing had been in the past, but the doctor acted like it was no big deal, and it turns out it wasn’t. The water hadn’t broken yet, which may have made her birth easier and my recovery faster.

She was born around 6:30 am on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 (Election Day). As soon as I held her and got a good look, the first thing I thought was how different she looked from Carissa when she was a baby. This baby was lighter, more fair, and with less hair. We named her the next day: Elizabeth Erin.


I enjoyed the quiet time I had with her at the hospital, and I thought she was very sweet. When we brought her home she was so quiet that sometimes we’d touch her chest to make sure she was breathing.


My mom and dad stayed with us a short while to help, and my mom spent much time holding baby Elizabeth in the rocking chair at night (she’s a softie like that). One morning she told me she felt like her mom and grandma (Elizabeth’s great- and great-great-grandmas) had come for a visit.


Elizabeth was very small until I started feeding her formula around her fourth month. Since then I think she’s become the biggest baby I’ve had. She seems to be growing up fast. She loves sippy cups. She is really good at imitating. If you make a sound with your mouth (such as blowing air or growling) she’ll imitate it. She also is quite vocal. Sometimes John and I joke about what it’ll be like having two chatty girls around. I feel like, for her age, she is good at communicating vocally. She is my only child who hasn’t used sign language. I use it sometimes with her, but for all her imitating, she’s just not interested in sign.


We’re getting more familiar with her personality as she gets older. Some words I’d use to describe her are playful, social, and explorer.


She seems to have a sense of humor and is very playful. She loves to play peek-a-boo by ducking behind a doorway and then popping back out, or holding a blanket over her head and pulling it off again. Now that she’s walking she thinks it’s great fun to walk away from you, even as you call her name, with a great big smile on her face.


She’s still sweet, but more spunky now. She seems to really enjoy being with other people. She’s aware of who’s in the room and whether she’s alone. She’s learning to play independently, though.



She started walking at 11 months, and now that she’s mobile she is quite the fearless explorer. She is quite good at going up and down stairs (she scoots down so fast that it’s like she’s sliding on ice). She clearly wants to be able to walk up and down stairs like the big people do, but she’s still too small. With her being so good on the stairs sometimes I’ll find her in unexpected parts of the house by herself. Just this morning I found her in a darkened bathroom with her hands in the toilet.


As far as sleeping goes, when she was younger she used to go to bed at night without so much as crying, but later she started to cry at bedtime and wake up after she had been sleeping through. After a few months I got up the courage to let her cry and now we know she can cry herself back to sleep with no problem. She goes to sleep around 6:30 or so and I don’t get her until after 7 am (my personal sanity-saving rule). She’s usually happy when she wakes up, and she likes to hang onto her blanket when I pull her out of the crib to go downstairs. She takes a morning nap and sometimes an afternoon nap.


She has about four teeth on top, two on the bottom, and her first molar coming in as well. Her hair is a beautiful auburn color, kind of golden/red/brown, and quite straight. She’s getting more of it, too. I think she is a beautiful little girl. We are glad to have her in our family.