Monday, December 30, 2013

On being his Mary

It was far too cold to be outside, but they were far too crazy to keep indoors. Talmage was singing the "I'm a gummy bear" song for the bajillionth time and Ever was following the direction of the old school anthem bearing the same name by "bouncing here and there and everywhere." We must do something, I thought while watching the mayhem unfold in my living room (which doubles as the kitchen, dining room, playroom and more often than not, bedroom).

"We are going on a scooter ride!" I told them, knowing that the sanity of all three of us rested in that decision. So helmets on and out the door we went.

We were not adequately prepared for the cold that met us as we ventured out our lobby doors--no mittens were worn and no hats covered our ears; I didn't even bring our stroller with sleeping bags for each boy to escape into when the going got too tough. But the air was fresh as it hit my face, and I could tell that the boys were feeling the same energy I was. We were alive, and we were outside, a welcome combination on this late December morning.

Talmage scooted and Everett half-scooted, half-complained all the way to the park near our house. T-Man was in heaven, scooting into the frosty wind and showing me all sorts of "new tricks."

"Watch Mom, did you even know that I can do a spin move?" And then he'd spin, and I'd clap and the cycle would begin anew with Talmage searching for more acts to show me.

By the time we got to the park, Ever was a popsicle and asked if he could sit on "da warm bench" with me while we watched T tear up the playground on his kickboard. I held that little 2-year-old in my arms and tried to warm him up. I tucked his hands into his jacket, I covered his face with my scarf and as I rubbed his body for warmth, I rocked him back and forth and sang him a song which both of my boys love--the Signing Time song, changed to say their names.

"Baby, baby, baby Ever Knight. Baby, baby, baby Ever Knight..." I sang and warmed him until my made-up words were sung and his body was no longer shivering. As I looked down at that baby on my lap, I saw his big brown eyes, twinkling a love song in my direction.

"You my Mawy," he said with the sweetest, shyest smile.

"I'm your Mary?" I asked, unsure of what he meant.

"Yeah, you my Mawy. And I yo baby," he said, his eyes still dancing. And then I understood. For weeks he's been hearing stories of that night in Bethlehem when the Christ child was born. We went to a live nativity and we've played with our Fisher Price version every single day with perfect accuracy (of course, with T as the director how could it not be!) We've talked endlessly about the baby Jesus, but we've also talked a lot about his mother Mary, that beautifully strong woman who loved that baby more than life itself. And as I was cuddling Ever Knight on that cold winter day in the park, he saw Mary in me, the highest compliment I could have ever been paid.

I looked down at that baby in my arms with wonder at all he continues to teach me. I thought about all the times I wondered if God knew what He was doing in giving me such a special soul to mother. I wonder still what He has in store for me, and him. And sometimes I even wonder why. Images of late-night hospital stays, journals full of worry and pleas to the Father filled my heart and for a brief moment, I shared a silent, sacred kinship with Mary, that young women who "offered all she had, to the mercy of His plan."

"Are you pretending you're Jesus?" I asked him, after a few moments spent pondering.

"Yeah, I petending be baby Jesus," he replied. But then he slowly shook his head with new words to share, "No, I be yo baby, I Ever Knight. And you my Mawy."

He wanted to be himself, my sweet little Ever Knight, but he also wanted me to rock him, to keep him warm, and to console him just as he'd seen Mary do so many different times this month. He wanted me to be his Mary, and I was sure grateful to fill the role.

The moment passed slowly, and with just one simple request life continued.

"Sing to me?" he asked.

"Of course," I whispered.

So I sang and we sat and I was warmed by the spirit as he was warmed by my hands and I thought about Christmas and Christ and Mary and my baby, Ever Knight, who found a way on this cold day to bring them all to life again.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Our Christmas

I've done an awful good job feeling the holiday spirit this year, and sharing it with my boys as well. Last year was kind of a doozy as far as December was concerned so I feel like we all missed out, but this year, we celebrated Christmas hard core. It was fabulous and peaceful and so happy, and started the very day after Thanksgiving and lasted all month long. It also helps that I did most of my shopping before Thanksgiving because December was all about celebrating the Savior and Christmas in the city, and none about stressing over presents. It was great! Christmas Eve and Christmas day were just as special as can be--having little kids in the house makes things pretty magical, and boy does NYC have a lot to offer in the Christmas department.
But because I don't pull any punches on this blog I'll tell you that come the night of Christmas, after our company had left and the boys were in bed I felt pretty melancholy for our family in Cali and all the fun and togetherness that they were experiencing without us. But like I've said to Talmage a million times--it's ok to be sad. It would be even sadder if we weren't sad that we weren't with our family, right? Right. We're sad because we love them, and that love is what Christmas is all about, so it's actually a beautiful feeling--or at least that's what I told myself! I also told myself that there will come a day when we'll afford tickets for all four of us to fly home for Christmas, which will be awesome :)
Christmas Eve was wonderful. We had brunch with some good friends of ours and the kids warmed my heart to the very core with a Christmas production (full of princesses, Jedi, monsters and the cutest little Ever KNIGHT there was). Everett was super bossy and wanted to direct the whole thing, much to Jackson's chagrin, and it reminded me of my family parties as a child--although no one ever tried to steal my director's chair (which I'm sure has nothing to do with the dirty looks and threats my cousins swear I gave them!)   
Everett taking a bow at the end of the play. Talmage was still hiding under the table at this point, in full character!

That afternoon we went to a gorgeous Episcopalian church on the Upper East Side to see a children's live nativity. The kids were adorable and there were live animals--the lambs nearly set my boys over the edge with laughter with their "baa-ing." It was a great way to remember what Christmas Eve is all about.

We walked home through Central Park just as the sun was setting and sang carols at the top of our lungs. The Empire State Building was lit up like a candy cane and everything felt so perfect, and beautiful, and right. We took the long way home, zigzagging across bridges, and around the lake until we finally hit Central Park West.
When we got home T and Ever got to open up their Superhero Christmas pajamas from Mema and Pepa, and also they got to open up the presents they bought for each other. Talmage got a 3 train from Ever (T is obsessed with the 3 because it's the fastest!), and Ever got an E train for T (T thought it was a good idea since his name starts with E). They adored the gifts and were truly so grateful.

I was giving T a kiss because I was so thankful that he was being so thankful, and then Ever decided to join in on the action. I sure do love those boys.

After the boys were in bed James and I ordered Chinese take-out and loved every second of not having to cook or clean anything. Such a great Christmas gift to myself!

Since we don't have a fireplace, we had Netflix help us out and create one. Have you tried it out? It crackles and everything! This picture was taken after Santa Clause came and delivered stocking presents...and the Jack-in-the-box that Talmage requested!

Letter from Santa!

Things were pretty magical in our tiny apartment, that's for sure. I could hardly sleep on Christmas Eve (and James straight-up couldn't sleep) because we were so excited to see what Santa had brought the boys--and see their reactions! The rule was that they couldn't get out of bed until there was light outside, and you better believe that at 6:30 am when there was just the tiniest speckle of light through the windows I started to hear them stir. They were excited, and who could blame them--it was Christmas!

I didn't really take any pictures of the rest of the day because it was Christmas, and we had the most enjoyable time ever just relaxing together as a family. We opened presents and ate cinnamon rolls and read books and played games and painted, and I almost wasn't ready when our friends and the missionaries showed up for Christmas dinner (we had a fiesta, PS) because it was so nice to do nothing all together. But suffice it to say, the boys were spoiled with love and presents and when Uncle Jordan asked Talmage if he had had a good Christmas he said, "No, I have not had a good Christmas. I have had the BEST Christmas ever. In the world!" He couldn't have been more excited or grateful all day long, and I was feeling like the luckiest mom in the world.

Hello new electrifying pink scarf--you're fun! I like you!

A few weeks ago T decided he wanted to make something really special for me for Christmas--but it had to be a surprise. He told me what to get him (crayons, red paper, scissors, etc.) and I was to give those things to him, no questions asked! Then he wrapped it up for me and put it under the tree. It was absolutely adorable and I love it so much! He colored a picture and then wrote all sorts of letters on the top. On the bottom, he wrote "find the letters" just like the games in some of his workbooks. so sweet and he was so excited!  

Ever was happy with everything he got, but I think his favorite part of the day was eating endless--and I mean endless--amounts of sugar. That boy has a sweet tooth that is unreal and he ate so much junk...and loved it! He even finished Santa's cookies in the morning. He also loved his scooter and new dinosaur helmet (to match his bro's shark helmet!) I loved watching him ride up and down the street in his pj's, chocolate spread all over his face and a smile that kept me warm inside! I just love that baby boy.
It was a very merry Christmas around here, it's time for Spring again, right? ;) 

Saturday, December 28, 2013


So...the Parker Meridian hotel has an incredible display of gingerbread buildings made by famous New York bakeries on display in their lobby so we decided to check it out. But, then Ever Knight fell asleep in the stroller (after refusing to take a nap) so I had to wake him up (because by this time it was way too close to bedtime for a nap) so things kind of got off to a rocky start. I mean, I look like I'm having fun but Ever, well, I don't think he was flailing backwards for kicks and giggles. Luckily he quickly realized that he was surrounded by sugar and that put him in a much better mood.

Everett's favorite gingerbread "house" was the Empire State Building.

Talmage, on the other hand, was on Team Daddy and voted for the Chrysler Building.

I loved all of the gingerbread creations, but I have to admit that my favorite moment of the evening was seeing a footy-pajama clad Everett look at all the gingerbread cookie ornaments on that gigantic tree. He thought it was pretty magical, and I did too.

Our plan was to decorate our own gingerbread village when we returned home that night, but the boys were both feeling a little yucky and did I mention, no naps for Thing 2, so we decided to work our magic on our mini-houses the next day.

Talmage was a very deliberate decorator. It was loads of fun watching him put pieces in the perfect order to make them "so, so beautiful!"

Everett pretended to decorate his house when I looked in his direction, but mostly he was just shoveling candy into his little trap, and flashing that flirty smile whenever I told him that he shouldn't eat any more!

This was one of Talmage's finished houses. See what I mean about how nice they turned out! He kept talking about patterns and how he wanted it to look even, and he was so proud of his finished work!

Friday, December 27, 2013

I'm raising Peanuts

James and I surprised the boys by taking them to see a live version of Charlie Brown's Christmas at the Brooklyn Lyceum theatre. Charlie Brown has been a frequent guest in our home since Thanksgiving, and boy are the kids ever grateful that Netflix is so generous with holiday Charlie Brown shows. We knew that this special Christmas date would be a family win, and holy Hannah were we ever right!

Talmage and Everett were pretty much a part of the show with their deep belly laughs and playful giggles. When we asked Talmage if he thought it was funny he said, "Not just funny. That was the most HILARIOUS thing I've ever seen!" And even as a grown up, I would have to agree that funny does not adequately describe the creative awesomeness that was this play. The actors were exact replicas of the Charlie Brown cartoon characters--they mimicked every voice inflection, every dance move, all the over-the-top arm movements and even the way they walked. There is no question that we'll be making this a family tradition. You know, until we move again ;) 

After the show Talmage b-lined it straight to Snoopy. The lighting is awful, but his smile is so huge I can hardly stand it. He was so excited to make silly doggy noises with her and tell her what a good job she did. And of course, he told her how "hilarious" she was--that seemed to be his word of the night!

Everett was not at all interested in Snoopy, or Charlie Brown for that matter. His favorite character: Linus! Anyone who knows my thumb-sucking, blankie boy should not be surprised, but I was definitely impressed that he drew that correlation on his own. Every time Linus would come on the stage Everett would say, "Wook. Is me. I Winus!" And then, after the play was over, Ev marched right up to Charlie Brown and said, "Where is Winus. I want see Winus."

When Linus and Charlie Brown stood next to Talmage and Everett for a picture, we all just fell apart with laughter. Turns out that Ever is to Linus, what Talmage is to Charlie Brown. It was about this time in the night where the real {actor} Charlie Brown looked at me and said, "If you are trying to raise cartoon characters, then you're just killing it!" Yes, how did he know. My goal in life is to raise a house full of Peanuts!

Macy's Santaland

That sign in Macy's just made me laugh because if seeing Santa was ever a HUGE production, it was at Macy's. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, ah contraire, Santaland is magnificent and magical and totally over-the-top amazing, but compared to all of the other Santa's we've seen it was definitely a production.    
The lines are long, especially if you're like us and go the Saturday before Christmas (but show up about an hour later than expected because everyone is just a little bit grumpy that morning). But even a long line doesn't take that long. We waited for 45 minutes, which in NYC is like a piece of chocolate cheesecake.

Being here brought back a sleigh full of memories. While waiting in line I told the boys all about the last time I brought them here--Talmage was not yet two, Everett was still in my tummy and I was so morning sick we barely made it. I have a picture of Talmage in front of that sign from our last visit, wow he's gotten HUGE, huh?

We purposely went on a Saturday so James could enjoy the magic with us. We're always glad when Daddy can come along for a city adventure.

So, with every other Santa Talmage had said that he would be happy with whatever he was given. Cute, right? Well, starting with the Plaza Santa and continuing to the Macy's Santa he decided what he wanted...and he was not backing down. What does he want Santa to bring him more than anything else? A jack-in-the-box. Right... Good thing that the Macy's Santa lives in Macy's...which btw has almost every toy in the universe ;)

Thanks Macy's for another fun year at Santaland! And that now officially completes our Santa tour!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Chelsea Market and the Plaza's Santa

I desperately wanted to go see an art exhibit in Chelsea. It was my third time trying to see it, and unfortunately my third fail. Going to an art exhibit with kids is one thing, but being told you're going to have to wait somewhere between two and four hours to even enter the exhibit, I know my kids well enough to know that we would be one big, fat word: miserable. So...since we were already in Chelsea and I had promised the boys some cool art we headed to the Chelsea Market, where the whole building is an insanely-awesome work of art!

My little friend Everett batted his eyelashes and the woman at the gelato counter gave both boys free ice cream. It pays to be cute sometimes!

Talmage knows how to read now, have I mentioned that lately? It's really just adorable to hear real words and sentences come out of his mouth, and sometimes I catch myself smiling from the other room when I hear him working through a book. I love books myself and couldn't be happier that my boys feel the same way. We sat in this cute bookshop reading for hours, the boys nestled comfy cozy in the wall.

Chelsea Market had a paper tree that was just lovely. We've seen our fair share of Christmas trees in the city the last month, and I loved how simple and original this one was. Now, let's talk about how grumpy I am that Talmage taught Everett (who I can always count on for a smile) to make this crazy face during pictures. Is this what being a mother to boys is all about?

Our wiggles weren't exactly all out so we decided to pop into the Plaza and meet their Santa. I must say, our Plaza Santa experience was by far the easiest, and whoa that Santa was sweet. There was no line, everyone was kind and it was just simple and beautiful. Not that I'm surprised coming from the Plaza hotel, but it was seriously a class act.

My favorite part of this Santa experience was hearing Santa and T's conversation at the end.
Santa: Can you do me a big favor?
T: Uh-huh.
Santa: I'm going to be hungry on Christmas Eve from delivering toys to everyone, so can you leave some cookies and milk under the tree for me?
T, eyes super wide: Uh-huh. Yeah. I'll do that for you, Santa.
Everyday since he's been reminding me about leaving cookies for Santa, and it's just the sweetest thing.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Just pretend it has a stamp on it!

I had every intention of sending out Christmas cards this year. But then December just kind of happened and it was too late, which makes me sad. So, here it is: what my Christmas card might have looked like had you gotten it all postmarked and everything. It probably would have looked absolutely nothing like that to tell you the truth, but I kind of fell in love with decorating that cute little evergreen and it was all over from there. Now that I think about it, that tree might just take all the attention away from our family picture...but heck, I can share my space with a tree.

Anyway, were I to have sent you a Christmas card this year, it probably would have included these highlights:

"Had a Ball" at his 2nd birthday party surrounded by family
Moved out of California and had his first airplane trip in one swoop
Went on a special father/son trip to Chicago to meet his great-grandmother, Mum
In his words: "Wook Mom, I big. I grow uped!" That pretty much sums up his year!
But one more cute quotable:
Me: You want to be a doctor when you grow up?
Ev: Yeah. I be a big doctah. I be Doctah Seuss.

Spent the 1st half of the year obsessed with CalTrain, and the 2nd half obsessed with the Subway
Mourned hard core about leaving Stanford, but quickly fell in love with Central Park
Taught himself to read, loves to do math, and asks more questions than any kid you know!
Gave his first talk in primary (written himself, completely memorized and delivered beautifully!) and afterwards we had this conversation:
Me: How did it feel to give your first talk?
T: I cried.
Me: Why did you cry?
T: Because I'm just so proud of myself!
We are obviously proud of him as well!

Ran her first, and possibly last, 1/2 marathon!
Found a fabulous apartment in the perfect part of town and successfully set up shop for our family's newest New York adventure
Fulfilled a lifelong dream by seeing the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in person (with front row seats thanks to the best husband ever!)
Fills her time teaching T's co-op preschool, adding celebrities to her "ha! I've seen 'em!" list, doing just about every free and child-friendly thing in the city, writing to stay sane and being truly, truly grateful for her blessings
Participated in the first ever Religious Liberty Clinic at Stanford (and was quoted in the NYT to boot)
Graduated from Stanford Law School
Passed the California State Bar--woot! woot!
Began his clerkship at the Court of International Trade in NYC and is loving federal employee hours!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

'Twas the Sunday before Christmas

'Twas the Sunday before Christmas and I made them wear sweaters,
they also wore ties so they could look even better.
I wore a sparkly belt and James wore a suit,
and we took a picture by our lobby Christmas tree to boot.
It was a beautiful day with California weather,
which made me less bitter that our family's not together.
But from us in New York, to all you on the west,
Merry Sunday before Christmas and we think you're the best!!!

T in his bow tie--we've gotten mad mileage out of J and M's wedding tie!

Ever almost never let's me down in the smile department. I kind of want to eat this kid! 

Be still my Sunday before Christmas heart! There is only one word to describe how I feel when I look at this picture of my two beautiful boys: blessed.

The weather outside is certainly frightful.

My boys were itching to play in the snow after {read: during} our first blizzard of the season. They kind of thought it was the best day of their lives; or shall we say, best 10 minutes of their lives before they were frozen solid and hysterical. What can I say, we have California blood! But those 10 minutes, gosh they were fun. And so was the hot chocolate that followed.
Ever wanted to be cuddled and followed me around looking ridiculously adorable:

Talmage meant war! He is somehow already a professional snow-baller:

Saturday, December 21, 2013

His bomber hat

He flies jets and scrubs toilets, sometimes at the same time.
I'm raising a very talented little man.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Botanical Garden Trains

For years I have heard the greatest reviews of the Bronx Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show, but tickets are a little bit outrageous so I've not allowed myself to truly dream of how great it would be to visit the exhibit with my boys. BUT...since God is seriously looking out for me (and I mean that truly, honestly, and from the bottom of my heart) we were given four tickets for free to see the exhibit right after our church's Christmas party last Saturday. One minute we were heading home for naps, and the next we were hopping on Metro North for a super adventure. James and the boys were excited, but I was giddy central!

The exhibit features New York buildings and landmarks, hand-constructed from organic materials. But of course, my boys just wanted to watch the trains (and throw rocks, but that was not in Mama's playing cards today much to Evie's chagrin). There were butterfly trains and vintage trains, but does it shock anyone that Thomas was still the fan favorite? He looked so cute in a Santa hat!

You should have heard the laughs from everyone around us when the boys made this face at my request for a smile. Oh, boys. I guess it serves me right for trying to get a picture when there were trains to be watched.

This was a little better. I think. Maybe? They really are cute little kids, whether they smile in my pictures or not!