Thursday, August 30, 2012

Oliver turns 4!!!

We had the usual pool party for Ollie’s birthday, like we have since he turned one, but with a twist.  Our neighborhood’s back-to-school bash overlapped with his party, so all of our guests got to try out the bounce house and waterslide before there was even a crowd. Then we all went back to our house for pizza and “cake.”


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(Colin got third and Santi got second in the hulu-hooping contest.  Those boys know how to move their hips.)

When Oliver agreed to having a fruit cake instead of a real one, I was a little worried that he would be dissapointed in the end, but he wasn’t in the least.  He was in love with this cake!! It wasn’t that hard either – probably took me less time than a traditional cake.   It was a nice balance to the pizza, too. 



My mom made Ollie an awesome set of Avenger’s masks and he and Liam have been playing with them all week. 


He also got the long-wished-for-helicopter from his Grandma and Grandpa Coleman.  You can imagine how happy that made him!

Happy birthday to the most handsome and loving four year old in the world!  We love our Ollie-burger.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fifth Annual Back- to- School Dinner


The menu:

Edamame, steamed in the shell, with salt

Udon Noodles with Sautéed Bell Peppers and Mushrooms

Turtle Pie


This Year’s Family Theme:


Chad gave each of the boys a father’s blessing after dinner.  I kept dinner very low key, but it was super tasty (a recipe from my sister Lindsey and everyone loved it), and the evening was calm and relaxing.  Everyone got to sleep at a good time and up in time for a good back-to-school morning. 

I walked the boys into their classes on Monday.  Gabe was very nervous and got a little teary-eyed, but as soon as he was given a task to complete, I saw him relax.  I am sure that hearing and speaking Chinese has to be a big adjustment after the summer off, and both of them have been handling it well.

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Gabe has the same 1st teacher that Colin had for kindergarten, and I noticed she had them color the same picture when they first came in.

Back to School 2008 (the night before I had Ollie!), 2009, 2010  (I remember cooking that meal when I was pregnant with Carina. I had to chew gum the whole time in order to keep my lunch down), 2011

Friday, August 24, 2012


The weekend before last, I helped host a family reunion for my dad’s side of the family – his brothers and sister, a couple of my cousins, lots of my nieces and nephews and brothers and sisters.  For three days we talked and ate, and played. 

I enjoy having a house large enough to fit a lot of people, and we put that ability to the test.  Everyone squeezed into my house on Friday night, sitting on chairs, the floor, barstools, every available seat taken to eat dinner and watch family movies.  Then five adults and fifteen kids slept under its roof, surprisingly well (after the five adults finally made themselves shut up and go to bed.)

Saturday was spent at Copperhead Island – kayaking, playing volleyball, eating, walking around and enjoying the scenery.  Now that the meal I was in charge of was over, I had a goal to spend some quality time with those who had traveled across the country.  My over-tired children keep my fully engaged with them instead.  One fell apart over a soggy bun and had to be carried down a trail to calm down.  One wanted to either be in my arms or getting into something.  Between the typical mom duties of keeping-safe and keeping-fed, I would try to converse, only to excuse myself when Carina let out one of her eardrum-piercing shrieks.  Instead reconnecting with far-flung family, my exhaustion with those I know and love best was seeping out, clouding the atmosphere until I could feel it in the crease between my brows. 

After another night of not enough sleep, and then a few hours of chasing my baby toddler at church, I felt like the family reunion was a wash.  My kids had had a great time, I had done my duties, I hoped that my aunts and uncles got to talk with each other, but me?  Every time I tried to will myself to focus on the people around me, my mind went a little numb and my attempts didn’t go very far.  When we sat down for a fireside after dinner, I knew that Carina would require me to be in and out of the room continuously because of her inability to sit still and her wild shrieks. 

Out in the hall with Carina, I heard the children gathering to sing and I came back in time to see their smiling faces.  They sang,

I came to earth with power to choose,

Good choices bless me and my family too

Loudly and clearly, with sweet faces, invigorated by Aunt Audra’s ukulele accompaniment.  Then my Uncle David announced that my Nana, the matriarch of the group, was going to say a few words.  My Nana is quiet – she doesn’t often speak out.  I was immediately filled with a prompting that her words should be recorded. I flipped my camera to video, and asked Audra, who was sitting in the front row, to do it for me.

My Nana spoke softly to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, with a cracking voice and teary eyes, of her love for the gospel.  She spoke about each generation in our family trying to to live the gospel a little better more than the previous, and how proud she was of us.  The room was full of love – love for the family and our Heavenly Father.  When she finished, most of us were wiping our eyes.

The crease in my brow was gone.  My patience returned.  This is what it was all about.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Meet me at the mall


We went to JC Penny yesterday to get the boys their free Back-to-School haircuts.  We pulled up to the mall, and Ollie let out an impressed exclamation,

“Whoa, that store is HUGE!!”

Scanning my memories, I realized that Ollie (and probably Gabe) couldn’t remember ever going to a mall. The last time we went was three years ago, when we took our Chinese exchange students for a taste of American life. 

I have to laugh at myself for not stepping foot in a mall for so long, considering my “deprived childhood”, when I can remember lamenting that the nearest mall was a couple of hours away.  Going to the mall always made me feel like a country bumpkin, with the huge window-lit ceilings, the elevators and escalators, and the noisy food courts.  I watched my boys’ overstimulated eyes (after their very first professional haircuts) as we walked through yesterday, and laughed at young Katie.  I live in a city now, but going to the mall to kill time is simply not a part of our family culture. 

Going to Target, eating free samples and snacking on popcorn, however, is a part of the Coleman family culture.  And Kmart is not Target.  So I suppose I did lead a deprived childhood after all.


On a completely separate note, for those of you who have spent any time with Carina in the last few months, I am sure you can hear in your head the very sound that she was making when this picture was taken.  And for that, I apologize.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Field Trip Friday- Imaginon

The Amazing Castle

If you live in the Charlotte area, and have never been to Imaginon, now would be an excellent time.  They have a fun castle exhibit going on.  On the 13th, we tried it out for Field Trip Friday, joined by my sister Lindsey and her three daughters, Lily, Mayan, and Leslie. The kids had a good time.  It was crowded but still bearable. 


There were lots of little stations for castle play – a kitchen, garden, workshop, some dress-up clothes, and a toddler area with blocks and dolls.  In the picture of Carina and Leslie below, you can see Carina standing in front of a little alcove were she stashed all the dolls she could gather, and then guarded with her life.  She really got the whole castle thing, I guess. 



After meeting Chad for lunch, we took the train back home, and the kids started having way too much fun with each other.  By the time we got off, they were pretty hyped up (well, those who weren’t reading a book, at least).  Plus it started raining right before our stop, so we ended up making a mad dash for the parking structure in the middle of a huge downpour.