Saturday, January 30, 2010


Today, 3:23pm. Hazel has just come in from playing outside in the snow. She's sitting at the counter eating a chocolate chip cookie warm from the oven. (I'm the best Mom ever.)

"Mom, I made snow angels outside."

"I know, I saw. What else did you do?"

"Well, there was something strange. I saw something strange in the bushes that's red and I don't know what it was. But it can't be E.T.'s heart because it was not glowing."

. E.T.'s heart is not in our bushes.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Happy (Rainbow) Birthday, Ginger!

Ginger's birthday was Saturday. (THREE! How did that happen?!) She recovered from croup just in time for her super awesome RAINBOW BIRTHDAY PARTY with her Peewee friends. Talk about cuteness.First we played for a little while. Then we had pizza and juice boxes for lunch (seriously, Costco pizza is the best. I could write a whole post about how much I love it.)
Storytime: What Makes a Rainbow by Betty Ann Schwartz.
And while we read it we made our own rainbow. Very, very lucky that there were six kids and six colors to put up. Talk about sidestepping a headache.

And what kind of party would it be without a stick-the-___-on-the-___ game? Of course we played stick-the-cloud-on-the-rainbow. (And for days after the party we left the poster up; Hazel and Ginger played it over and over by themselves.)

Time for cake and ice cream. Rainbow cake with rainbow sherbet - see VGP for the recipe!

An hour and a half isn't that long, and this was a pretty low-key party - no moon bounces or pony rides - but for some reason by the end we were exhausted.

But not too tired to hand out the rainbow goody bags!!! (Each one contained a wind-up toy, 2 lollipops and 2 rainbow cupcake crayons. We tried to go for simplicity and quality - I do hate useless crap in goody bags.)
Happy Happy Happy Birthday, Ginger! We love you!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

First Talk (featuring more Hazel Art!)

Hazel gave her first talk in Primary last week. When the assignment came a few weeks ago it was one of the few times in my life I felt ready. Thanks to Brook Waddoups.

Brook was in my ward in New York. When they moved in about a year after us we were thrilled to get her 5-year-old son Gideon in our scraggly Primary. Assignment rotations were short in that ward, and Gideon was asked to give a talk right away. As parents usually do, Brook came in to help him when it was time. Gideon stepped up to the podium and Brook knelt down in front and slightly to the side of it, facing him. I was surprised, expecting her to stand next to him and whisper the talk sentence-by-sentence into his ear, as is usually done with young children (and which immediately loses the audience because it makes the talk so disjointed and usually boring.)

Instead, Gideon stood up by himself and looked out confidently at the room. Brook produced a stack of purple index cards which she held up one by one for Gideon to look at. As she did so, Gideon glanced at the cards and spoke several sentences for each, detailing a number of scripture stories to illustrate his points. He concluded by explaining the scriptural origin of his own name and his hopes to become as great as his namesake. He finished with a simple testimony and sat down. I was floored.

I stopped Brook on her way out and asked how the heck I could help my children become so confident - and competent - at the podium at such a young age. She shrugged and said that's how her parents helped her give talks. She showed me the cards - they contained simple stick-figure drawings she and Gideon had created together to give visual cues to each part of the talk. I was totally impressed and tucked that impression away until I should need it.

Fast forward a few years to now. Hazel's giving a talk. She's 4 years old. She's demonstrated a strong ability to memorize but possibly at the cost of comprehension. I happen to have a lot of index cards in one of the office drawers. We'll give it a try.

We took the topic - "I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love me" and I brainstormed with her a little during her bath one night. Then I wrote out her ideas into a simple talk structure. After the bath we sat down with the blank cards and I read some sentences to her. She chose which parts of the talk she wanted to draw pictures for, and I drew the rest (that's right, this post features Kari Art as well.) The process of taking ideas and words and interpreting them into art is one of the best ways to achieve comprehension, so by the time we had it all put together she knew exactly what she was talking about.

We practiced a few times. Each time we went through the cards she worded things slightly differently but got the point across. I love that. Sunday came. She stood up to the microphone. I knelt facing her. I flashed her cues. She spoke calmly, clearly, confidently. It was a thing of beauty. She was a thing of beauty. By the end it was clear that she really did know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love her. (And so do I.)

Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ Love Me
by Hazel Hickman

I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love me.
(Note: Long hair and beards. Wings on the one on the left.)

They have given me my family and good food to eat.
(Note Mommy with baby in tummy, far left. Food on right includes pizza, pear, orange, apple.)

They have given me good friends and I feel good at church.

I also love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. 1 John 4:19 says, "We love him because he first loved us."

I try to show my love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ by giving my heart to them.

I try to be reverent in sacrament meeting and Primary, and to share and take turns with my sister.

I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love all of us.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hazel Art

"Once upon a time there was a princess and the dragon was coming along to the town and the dragon was going to take a house away from an old lady and quickly before he was there...uh, I mean, the princess quickly build a house for him to live in."

The End

(Hazel, 4yrs 10mos)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Spanky Bum Bum and Naming Guidelines

We've chosen a name for the baby. Well, it's like 90% sure. Of course it's a sealed vault so don't ask and don't try to guess, you'll never get it. And no, it's not Martha Bertha.

In the meantime she is being called Spanky Bum Bum. Superfly wasn't sticking, and Ginger suggested one day in the car that we name her Spanky Bum Bum and then erupted into heart-melting belly giggles. And frankly so did I.

We told Hazel when she came home from school and she got the giggles as well. Then when Ed came home from work the girls tried to tell him but got laughing too hard to get it out, so I told him and then we all had a good giggle. I need to try to record Ginger saying it because it's so so cute. And hey, if Spanky sticks a little after she's born, I don't mind. Everyone needs a nickname.

But back to real names. I don't have strict requirements for names - in the end it's more of a feeling. But I don't go throwing a dart at the baby name book either. We've got our guidelines:

1. It has to be a real name, or something that can be a name. It has to be something people have heard of, not a made-up word is what I'm saying. I'm not giving my kid a life of double takes - "What? What did you say your name was? Matroishkalina???"

2. It has to be spelled the way it sounds. Why oh why burden your child with a life of alternate spellings? Like a girl I knew in high school - Kyndness. You know she has to spell it for people EVERY TIME. So do I, but there are a lot of common spellings for Kari/Kerry/Carrie. Luckily mine is only 4 letters so I don't mind too much. But if it's a name or word people know, spell it the way people know, which is why we do not have Hazyl and Jinjir in our family.

3. It has to be UNCOMMON (but not unheard of.) I would like them to have names that other kids their age don't have, like all the poor Jennifers, Amys and Carries in my generation. If I truly felt clueless as to what currently popular names are (hello, Olivia, Sophia), I can always check the social security website, which tells the top 1000 boys and girls names of each year, or Name Voyager, which maps names by usage and year. Ranking high at least 50 years ago, or never, is a good indication I might like to use it.

4. No prefixes or suffixes. Sorry, Hazel. That means "Swanita" is out.

5. This is a loose guideline, but two syllables are good. Just enough to get your point across, to make it sound unique enough as you yell it across the playground so your kid knows you're talking to her, and yet not too long. Not a mouthful. Not a pain to write out.

6. Obviously, it has to sound good with the last name. For example, I like the name Ida, plus it is a family name, but "Ida Hickman" makes it sound a little too much like it's going to be "Idaho", so it doesn't work for me. Less important, but still to be considered, is how it sounds with the other names in the family. "Kari, Ed, Hazel, Ginger and Victoria Elizabeth" might not be the right direction for us.

7. I'm not necessarily against all kids starting with the same letter, or having the same ending, or following some kind of theme, as long as those are all your favorite names anyway. But sticking to a plan just to stick to it (Jason, Janelle, Jana, Jordan, etc.) when there are so many other great names out there is unacceptable to me. I get the spice comment sometimes - "Wow, all your names are spices - next you should use Cinnamon or Sage!" Never mind the blatant ignorance that Hazel has nothing to do with a spice (lamo), but I'm not going to be tied down either way to a perceived pattern. If Cinnamon was my very favorite name I'd use it but if my favorite is Glenda then that's it.

8. No naming her one thing but calling her by her middle name. That's advice from my brother-in-law who is in that situation. He said it's just confusing when people read your name and you have to correct them and tell them what you go by - "Robert?" "No, actually it's Quinn." "Oh." Name the kid what you're going to call her, then give her a middle name that is the name you're NOT going to call her. Duh.

9. It has to be fun to say, because I am going to be saying it 500 times a day until she is 18 years old. It has to have staying power so I'm not kicking myself in two years, and like I said before, not a mouthful please.

10. Not a big fan of the could-be-a-girl-or-a-boy names. You hate to look at a written name and not know if it's a girl or a boy. I was shocked as a young girl to meet a boy named Cary, though that's less common as a boy name these days. But there are a handful of either-way names and I just figure anything to avoid confusion or explanations down the road is best.

I think that's pretty much it. The main thing is, it has to be a real name but currently out of circulation - unfortunately I used Hazel on the upswing (it was #517 when she was born and is now up to #343) but it couldn't be helped. I'd had that name chosen since I was 16. The others have come along more recently but they've all been fun. And I feel pretty satisfied.

So I'm curious - what are your naming guidelines?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

FHE: Bowling

Looks like we have a new winter tradition. Maybe next year I can beat Ed.
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