Thursday, November 18, 2010

Autumn's Art

From the time Autumn was just a little girl, she's loved to 'do crafts' (as she says).  Here's one of her finer examples when she was just over 2.

She was painting and gluing and cutting like a pro when she was 3 . . . and I'm not the kind of mom that would typically trust a toddler with sharp objects.

Once we moved to Canada - and downgraded the quality of our kitchen table (thank you Ikea for your cheap, cheap kitchen tables!) - she took over the eating area.  I still come home daily to confetti on the floor and 'craft projects' that consume the table.  Last year sometime, Jeff bought a cheap plastic bookcase to sit in the corner beside our table . . . that is Autumn's art station.  It's a beauty!  But, it contains everything from feathers and pipe cleaners to paint, Play Doh, books, string and much more.  And, each day when I come home from work, I am never disappointed.  She dreams up the projects on her own and never asks for assistance.

Although I do have three plastic crates full of her artwork, I have been meaning to share a few examples. 

I grabbed a few of her pieces from the top of the latest bin.

Right before Halloween, her ice skating teacher gave her a holiday pencil (the cool kind that has the little pieces of lead that you feed into the top to push the next piece down).  After being home for about 25 minutes, this is what she had created.  I love how she labeled everything, too.

She almost always gives her pictures to me (ahhhh).  Although, she also regularly creates things for people in her class, school, swimming and ice skating teachers (on the first day of school she made beaded necklaces for her new SK teacher, with a "T" for teacher, and her JK teacher, with an "M" for Ms. Shin), people at church and anyone else that leaves and impression with her . . .

We took both kids to a musical production about the birth of Christ a few months ago.  Two people from our ward were actors/singers.  So, she drew a card for each of them, including a drawing of the stage and them in costume, to tell them 'thank you' and to say what a good job they did.  When she gave the card to Brother Ospina (in the bishopric also) and he asked for a hug, I'm not sure that I'd seen a smile that big on Autumn's face before.

The last time she and I had a girls' date, she asked for a piece of paper on the way to the restaurant so that she could create a card for the hostess.  She drew a perfect little picture of the restaurant's logo (after being there only once before) and told them to have a happy day.  The hostess couldn't stop gushing . . . and I got to see that same beautiful smile.

For all the drama that our little girl can produce (she comes by it naturally, I'm afraid), she has got to be one of the most creative and thoughtful little things around.

Here is a typical picture for Mom she made months ago.  This was her first attempt at using 'fancy letters'.  She cut a fringe around the edge of the sun before gluing it on so that it popped off the page. I had to smash it for the scan unfortunately. 

This is one of my favorites for its sheer creativity.  We have no idea where she even came up with the idea for this one - typically we can trace the concept back to a Backyardigans episode or a book she's read.  But, this one is still a mystery.  Again - completely on her own - she found a straw, cut and tied the string, drew, colored and cut out the girl, and then taped her on.

I don't want to be one of those moms that insists on putting their kids on display and making them perform - or a mom that has Olympic plans for a child that exhibits the slightest proficiency at a sport.

But, I don't see anything wrong with a proud mom that wants to brag . . . just a little.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Our Little 'Village People'

Now tell me it's not cute when your kids dress up as a cowboy and a construction worker and dance to YMCA.  Seriously.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving Tree

The year we moved to Canada, we started our Thanksgiving Tree tradition.  We get to celebrate Thanksgiving twice - once for Canada in October and then again in November.  Two turkey days!  Brilliant.  And - twice the reminder to be grateful!

I haven't been incredibly successful at capturing a photo of our finished tree . . . but, I have a goal to do it this year.   We began by making leaves out of each of our hand prints.  And, then when we finally pull down our Thanksgiving tree and replace it with our Christmas tree, I pull off all the leaves and save them.  This year - as a special memory of our last Thanksgiving in Canada - we are using red maple leaves and then orange and yellow leaves for color.

2008: Our First Thanksgiving Tree

We also visited my family in Virginia in 2008 and each of the kids made turkey hats.  They were all such cute little turkeys.  I love little Trent's gobble gobble spirit.  

2009: 2nd annual Thankful Tree

Yes, they do appear to be sad little pumpkins at the bottom.  I'm sure those frowns were added in one of Autumn's finer moments.


We started our tree tonight for FHE.  We made spice cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting . . . and everyone had to write down at least 5 things in order to get a treat.  We all quickly surpassed our goal.  And, we'll keep adding from the bowl of leaves on our table through next week.

My favorite thing to be thankful for came from Gavin . . . who was very thankful for 'plates.'

I think Jeff's favorite was my leaf for 'heartburn medicine.'  Seriously . . . it's saving me right now.  I'm opposed to medicine when I'm pregnant.  But, without Zantac, I wouldn't sleep.

The part that warmed my heart the most came from our little artist, Autumn.  The second I told her this morning that we were going to make our Thanksgiving tree, she went to work creating her own - complete with an owl and leaves that flip down so you can read both sides.  She really is amazing.

My first leaf was for 'My husband.'  Jeff told me not to be cheesy.  On my second leaf I wrote that I was 'thankful for being a Mommy.'  Cheesy or not . . . it's just so true.

I am so incredibly grateful for my sweet family.  We laugh together and we drive each other crazy - but, we always love each other.  I can't imagine my world without them.  

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Toronto Neighbors

Our sweet neighbor (and luckily the photo-journalist for my family during the day) sent us these photos.  He's also responsible for Gavin's awesome drum video and for keeping Jeff and the kids entertained this summer with his relentless energy.

Aren't they cute?

Halloween: The Witch, Black Cat, Scarecrow and the Pumpkin

Friday, November 5, 2010

Too much for a pregnant woman

Earlier tonight we were having one of our most successful family movie nights to date.  Everyone was happy.  We all cuddled together on the couch for the entire movie.  Very cute.  Made a tired mommy very happy.  And, then Autumn asked how long until we moved back home.

Less than six weeks.


My eyes got teary.  Jeff rolled his eyes at my teary eyes.

We put the kids to bed and Jeff headed off to play late night ice hockey.  I reminded him that he was going to miss ice hockey when we move back home.  But, nothing rattles that man.  He's convinced he'll have no problem finding a place to play.

And, then my boss called to tell me that the candidate I put forward to replace me was a winner.  They're extending him an offer . . . for my job.

I told him that I fully agreed with the decision.  But, expecting a pregnant woman to move to a different rental home (again) in a different country, kind of miss Christmas as we travel, recruit, hire and then train my replacement for a job I love, change jobs and then have a baby . . . it's all kind of indecent.  I, unfortunately, have no one to blame but me.  At some point a few months back, Jeff and I agreed that this was the right decision for our family.

Since then we've been disappointed with some of the options we've discovered at the National Ability Center in Park City - one of the reasons we felt a move back to Heber was ideal.  Go figure that after two years of everything being more expensive in Canada . . . everything to do with recreational therapy and ice hockey is more expensive back in Utah.  How is that fair?

So, back to packing . . . back to more transitions . . . back to another home that we don't own . . .

I know that once we are settled back in Utah that I will feel differently.  I know that we will have a new little baby to welcome to our family.  I hope that my boss was right when he emphasized that they will have an interesting position waiting for me back home.

And, after a while, we may feel like we never left in the first place.  Unfortunately, that's one of the parts I'm having the most difficulty with.  These 2 1/2 years have been just a little blip in time.  I don't want to feel like these years just evaporated.

I get overly sentimental - I always have (hence why I was most upset of the family when we left the magic of Disney World and why I shed a tear at the concert when Darius Rucker sang 'It won't be like this for long').  Jeff says I have a tendency to look backwards all the time with some form of regret somewhere . . . and, he's right.  So, imagine my mood as a 7-month pregnant lady.  Good times.  Good times.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Spookley and our round pumpkins

Between me working like crazy, hosting my boss and VP of Finance, and an amazing visit from Becky and Aaron (more on that to come), I've made sure that we stick to our traditional Halloween activities.

We have been leading up to Halloween with our holiday short movie bonanza.  We began by watching Spookley the Square Pumpkin and cooked some cute little sugar cookies with pumpkins on them (ahhh . . . I also learned the ease and joy of ready-to-cook decorative cookies from the store). 

Jeff had to hook up the VCR so that we could watch one of the old school Mickey Mouse Halloween tapes.  Does anyone else remember the cartoon when Donald wouldn't give up his candy for his nephews and a friendly witch casts a spell on him and makes him dance?  Anyway . . . it's a classic.  The kids enjoyed a small bowl of ice cream right in front of the TV.  A double treat.

Then, we rounded out the week with pumpkin carving and our last Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Halloween show.  Gavin was not into getting his hands gooey with the pumpkin guts.  I finally convinced him to touch the inside after emphasizing that Autumn did the same thing.  Immediately after, he told me in a fairly distressed voice that he needed to wash his hands 'right now.'  Autumn, on the other hand, is always willing to get a little dirty.

Today, Autumn was allowed to wear her costume to school.  She was luckily the only witch in her classroom.  I was only able to snap a quick photo of her in the truck before she headed to school.

But, we have two parties tomorrow and trick-or-treating yet to come.  So, stay tuned for our little witch and black cat.

(Yes, once Autumn decided she wanted to be a witch, she quickly convinced Gavin to be her little black cat.  He didn't hesitate.  He loves his big sister . . . even though he does pull her hair and hit her frequently).

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Gavin, the 4-wheeler and the Helmet Cam

Jeff has been super excited about his new helmet cam.  He's taken it on a few dirt bike trips in Utah.  And, has now found new uses for it . . . filming the kids dancing, us flying down a water slide on a raft . . . and now, attaching the camera to Gavin's four-wheeler handle bars.

Gavin's facial expressions are hilarious.  Those little pursed lips, that determination . . . so stinkin' cute.

My favorite is his face at the bottom of the hill after he spins out.  Priceless.

Seriously, this kid doesn't miss a beat.  What he lacks in some areas . . . he more than makes up for in others.

We love this kid.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back to school

Although Jeff and the kids returned from almost a month in the Mountain Time Zone just a few days before the start of school (making 8am feel like 6am) . . . we hyped them up on sugary donuts and cake to prepare them for their first day!

This is my very favorite time of year.  I don't like the idea of my kids growing up or spending the day with anyone but family . . . yet, I love how excited they get about making friends, learning new songs, letters and words, reading books and feeling so independent and courageous.

I love how the weather starts to cool down and you cozy up with a sweatshirt.

I love football.

I love Halloween.

I love pumpkins and pumpkin patches and our annual Spookley the Pumpkin FHE.

I love everything about Autumn time!!

Fall is kicked off with our first day of school activities.

Jeff gives each child a father's blessing the night before school begins.  I loved Autumn's shy little grin both before and after Jeff laid his hands on her head.  And yes . . . Gavin freaked out and screamed and refused to sit quietly . . . so, we are hoping to try again in a few days when he's caught up on sleep.

I took Autumn to school and walked her inside.  Unfortunately, after all of us completely fell in love with her Junior Kindergarten teacher, she opted to teach music lessons full-time.  So, Autumn has a new teacher this year.

As sweet little thoughtful Autumn does, she - completely on her own - decided to make a necklace for her JK teacher (with an "M" for Ms. Shin), her new teacher (with a "T" for teacher), herself (featuring "AP") and her best friend, Alida (she ran out of A's - so, it was just pink and white beads).

Her new teacher is all business.  As soon as we walked through the door, she grabbed Autumn by the hand and pulled her around the corner . . . leaving me yelling after her like the crazy mom I am, "I love you, Autumn!!  Have fun!!"  And, that was that.  You'd think her teacher takes that approach to prevent any meltdowns from nervous students.  It could be her reasoning was to cut off the tears that were rapidly forming in my eyes.

Jeff took Gavin to his preschool.  He was excited at first to see his favorite teacher again.  And, then when he realized that Daddy wasn't staying all day . . . he broke down in tears.  He's such a sensitive little guy.  And, that's why I chose to take Autumn and Jeff took Gavin.  Doing the thing you know needs to be done . . . walking away during those tears . . . is something that daddies are better at.  By the time Jeff came to pick him up, Gavin was eating a Freezy and having a great time.

I called from work to get a quick update from the kids and then told them I wanted to hear all the details as soon as I got home.  I hadn't even shut the door when Gavin wheeled up with his walker to say, "School was great, Mom!"

The kids decorated our 'first day of school' celebration cake.  Autumn drew a school with multiple levels of windows - 'just like her school.'  Gavin created the blue swingset with Daddy's help . . . then proceeded to immediately lick it off.

(Gavin is clearly still working on his camera smile)

We are so proud of our two little school kids!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Traditional Labor Day Donuts

Are you not familiar with traditional Labor Day donuts?  Well, it's likely a Peterson household invention.  A sly way of feeling good about making homemade donuts by tying it to a random holiday.  Besides, Labor Day is the kind of holiday that could use a sugary start!

I'm a huge fan of family traditions - however big or small.  We picked homemade donuts . . . and we're sticking to them!  And, oh my . . . they are delicious . . . especially with homemade chocolate frosting.

And yes . . . we do have a 'first day of school' celebration cake tradition as well.  Clearly I wasn't thinking of the proximity of Labor Day to the first day of school when we brainstormed these traditions!

Nevertheless, everyone at our house was all smiles for a few days (until I remembered how much chocolate leads to heartburn when I'm pregnant . . . ouch).

Friday, August 6, 2010

Gavin Rockin' out on the Drums

First time on the drums.  Our neighbors have this little set in the basement.  And, shy little Gavin found his groove right away.  Seriously, what a kid.

The second time he played, he clicked his drum sticks together and counted to ten before launching into his drum solo.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


This video changed me.  Stephanie gives such hope.  I just pray that I never forget how I feel when I watch this.  So, I wanted to post it here . . . to make sure I think of Nie Nie whenever I feel like my life is difficult.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spiderman's Bum

When Spiderman made a surprise visit to the double 6-year birthday party we attended on Saturday for Kelly and Parker, Gavin was thrilled.  He studied him from afar at first, but kept a close eye on him.  He also asked a series of important questions:

Where does Spiderman live?  Where is his car?  Does Spiderman have a bum?

Yes, all very important questions.

And, then, when the opportunity came, Gavin willingly grabbed him and posed for a cute picture.

We have come so far from our Disney World days when he would wait excitedly for a Disney character to arrive and then refuse to even look at them when they visited our table.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Just take my door off

Everything goes in phases at the house . . . the sticking your tongue out phase, the excessive teasing, the hitting, the door slamming.  I remember a good friend of mine telling me to always allow any new thing a full 16 days before you start to really get concerned.  It was good advice.

The door slamming went away for a while.  And, in the last week - probably because I made a point of letting Autumn know that slamming doors in the new house could break the mirror on the reverse side - slamming doors has returned.  Today, about 4 times in a row.

I'm a firm believer that the best time to really have a good discussion about improper behavior is when everything is calm again.  Bedtime is the perfect opportunity to have a heart to heart.

I asked her what plan we could make together so that we remember not to slam doors.

Her response, "Just take my door off.  There's no way I can slam it if it's not there.  That's the best idea.  And, if you don't . . . I'll be hot potato burned."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Waiting 9 to 5 . . . what a way to make a living . . .

Our first official night in our new house wasn't in our new house at all.  It was in the ER of Sick Kids hospital.

After a long day, the moving trucks had just pulled away and we were working quickly to set up beds for the kids.  I was working on Autumn's room while Jeff set up Gavin's crib (yes, he is still in his crib . . . he can't easily get on or off a bed, we fear he may fall out and he hasn't complained yet).  Jeff just finished up and ran outside to move our cars off the street.  Within 30 seconds of him leaving, Gavin shrieked out in pain.  The kind of cry that makes you run.

He had crawled under the crib - something that had never been an option because a drawer usually occupied that space.  And, he got stuck and scraped all along his back - right down his spine - as he was trying to escape.  When I picked him up, a humongous, hard lump had formed right at the spot of his defect.  Huge.  Gruesome.

This is the exact spot where spinal fluid leaked through his healing incision when he was three weeks old - resulting in a rush to Primary Children's and immediate surgery to place a VP shunt in his brain.  This is also the spot where spinal fluid leaked again - even after the shunt was placed.  So, it was a big deal.

Typically Jeff and I both have to take a moment and try to assess the situation as calmly as possible - to try to understand whether we are overreacting or not.  Right from the start, all of the symptoms of a shunt malfunction, for example, are all of the 'normal' things you'd experience with any baby . . . unusual fussiness, sleepiness, spitting up, etc.  It's a fine line between trying to treat Gavin as 'normal' as possible and not freaking out with any little symptom.

But, this time . . . we both knew.  And, we immediately split up to try to search a house that we had officially lived in for 10 minutes for everything we'd need for a trip to the ER.  

Luckily Autumn had been playing with Alida all day - and they walked in the door at the same moment we were about to walk out.  So, Autumn was able to have that sleepover that she had been begging for.

Here's a brief run-down of our night:

9:05pm   Arrive at Sick Kids ER

9:40pm   Register Gavin's name

10:30pm Meet with the nurse to discuss Gavin's case.  She lets us know that she is very concerned and is placing us at top priority in her queue.  She also warns us that several other patients are ranked at top priority in the waiting room and that estimated wait times for the most urgent cases are 3 to 4 hours.  Other lower priority cases were waiting 6 or 7 hours - just to get a room.

Jeff and I discuss whether we should drive to Buffalo.  We discuss whether we should go home.

I reiterate to the nurse that either the spinal fluid will be reabsorbed on its own and everything will be fine.  Or a disturbance in the flow of the spinal fluid could have been created and pressure could be building, potentially causing permanent brain damage . . . which could not wait 3 or 4 hours.

She was sympathetic - but, explained that there were no rooms available.  And, waiting was the only option.

12:45am  We were called back.  A room became available.  The boys got a little bit of rest.

3:20am    Gavin is finally seen by a doctor.  Luckily - because I was irrational at this point - he was extremely nice.  Unfortunately, he also openly admitted that this was a very unusual case and he was 'giving us good advice but making it up as he goes.'  He leaves to consult with the neurosurgery team.

4:30am   He finally returns.  No tests will be run.  He feels fairly confident that no additional damage has been done to Gavin's spine and that the injury has not caused blood to mix with the spinal fluid - which can also cause brain damage.  And, he schedules us for a follow-up visit with neurosurgery in a few weeks.

5:20am   Arrive back home.

7:20am   Wake up to my alarm to go visit with Autumn before school - and make sure she understands what happened the night before - and take her fresh clothes, backpack and snack.

Gavin's back is recovering.  The swelling went down.  He still complains that his back is sore.

It took us all a few days to recover from the lack of sleep.  I still haven't recovered from how insane the wait times are here.

I'll report back after the follow-up appointment.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Grandma and Grandpa Peterson Visit - Part 1

We were so lucky to have Grandma and Grandpa Peterson come to visit for almost two full weeks over Easter.  They came right before the airline ticket prices tripled - yikes.  And, although the main purpose was just to soak them up and let the kids wear them out . . . we made sure to engage them in all sorts of family traditions.

See . . . Autumn was thrilled!  Just kidding . . . she had a great time.  We just captured a serious moment.

We took them to the 2nd annual (while we're in Canada) Sugar Bush farm trip, where they make maple syrup.  It's true . . . the syrup is better in Canada.  Jeff and I have joked many times about how when we return home one day we will have a pallet or two of pure Canadian maple syrup in the truck.  

"No, sir.  We don't plan to sell or distribute those.  We just really love the syrup here."

It's probably the most expensive pancake, maple syrup and sausage breakfast you'll find . . . but, it is oh so good.  And, because they'd raised the price on the pony rides this year, the kids opted for one pony ride each and some cotton candy . . . which they promptly discovered they didn't really like (I guess sometimes it's better to bite the bullet, pay the $5 and just to let them try it rather than hear them beg for it every time they see that colorful, fluffy enticing-looking treat).

Gavin insisted that Grandma push his stroller for most of the morning.

Grandpa was definitely there.  He's just a bit trickier to catch on film.

More to come . . .