Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2010 S & M Awards

Dearest reader-
As predicted, 2010 was, in fact, the year of babies and biodiversity. But mostly babies.
Our exclusive Families and Friendlies blogroll has become dominated by the reports, images, and antics of the under-two crowd, and ours was no exception. We have also enjoyed all the non-baby posts of our friends who get more sleep than us, and are grateful for their friendship and willingness to babysit. We hope to stay connected and involved with each and every one of you. The Creedence Experience tour has scheduled a year long engagement at the current Provo location, so come visit us!

These, the second annual S & M awards:
Cutest Baby Photo Taker Winner
You have the greatest pictures! We not sure if its all talent or the fact that your background is usually your backyard paradise, but either way the combination is winning. So all you other baby mamas, you can run and tell that, run and tell that...
Most Likely to Sing-Along Blog
In addition to the blog soundtrack on the B&B blog, other tunes come to mind while perusing the posts, like Now I Know My ABCs... A Beautiful Coralee. Becky also wins the best baby bump award, because you look stunning pregnant, leaving the hospital, and basically all the time.
Best Childlike Wonder Blog
When Sis. McDonald's "things I'm grateful for" post includes boots, cookies, and family, and there is joy in the announcement that her town is getting a Wendy's, we can't help but respect the down-to-earth honesty of Sis. McD. Wishing you another faith-growing year on the mish, Chaela, and if you really want to teach English, we can support that.
Cutie Patootie Pazookie Baby Blog Award
We could eat Claire up! Seriously! With or without the pazookie. Things are looking good for you guys, so happy for all the opportunities coming your way.
Baby Wonderland Blog Award
We peer at Alice through the looking glass that is the blogosphere, and it makes us Chesire-cat smile! Although no babies turn into pigs, Alice does make convincing grunts. Good luck in the sleeping department, we wish you all the best!
Baby No More Blog Award
E&J are in the real world now. Don't forget us. We have yet to go as green, as pro, or to even start a quilt. We may or may not catch up ever.
I and Love and Your Blog Award
"Write the note/ tell the ones that need to know..." we are the ones that need to know, because we HEART. Brooklyn's energy, movement, and adorable smiles. She and Creedo would be so fun to see together. Really miss you guys, the good food, the good times. Thanks for keeping the blog updated so regularly!

Baby Juju
This award has nothing to do with her blog, but the funny way she perfectly imitates the buhludvideo. Oh, and nice pictures.
The Most Vehemently Denied Baby blog
Someone has to take the heat for not having kids, and the arrow seems to consistently single out you two DINKy student newlyweds. You can't have killer dog day summers like yours every year, so enjoy it! Plus, your blog features enough pictures of y'all with other adorable little ones that we aren't worried. Lets be friends in 2011, shall we?
The Most Likely to Borrow a Baby to Board the Plane First Blog
These travelers are here and there and everywhere this past year. Teensy bit jealous of the Cancun cruise over here. They can borrow Creedo at anytime for their next trip. Thanks for the babysitting and the love, its nice to have old friends still in Ptown.
Best Baby Sister Blog
Thanks for keeping me updated with the nitty gritty of the homebase environs, even the secrets. You're awesome.
Best Bun in the Oven Blog
Hey, there are a lot of cooking blogs out there, but only one barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen mama has landed a place on our blogroll. Keep the delish dish posts coming. We like to read them while we're eating our Little Ceasar's pizza.
Best Hair Blog
Cozi's coiffure remains impressive, Olivia is the ever-inspiring color chameleon, and even Nate grew out a 'do! Really, there is not enough of this blog to go around. Miss you all... again... next time, lets not keep moving past each other, mkay? Mkay.
Most Out- There Blog
Because I know N&K are out there somewhere... We still haven't tried that guilt-free recipe. We feel guilty about not trying it yet.
Most Likely to Be Blonde or maybe Redhead
Abigail is a doll, Lauren is so spunky, and who said Emily could grow up so fast? Thanks for the updates. Don't worry, we don't judge if they publish all at once- we're impressed that you have time to blog between all the playdates, theme parks, school days, and family visits! Good luck in ID, hope that you enjoy snow. We mean really enjoy snow.
Best Big Brother Award
With all the changes your family has in store, we thought we would grant Liam a special spotlight. Liam- you are so cool! Way to take care of your mom and dad! We're feeling a little sappy reading the end-is-nigh posts of one on one time with Liam, and sort of dreading the day when Creedo has to share and be shared. Thanks for keeping your blog so up-to-date, and on all sorts of interesting topics. We love catching up on it.
Bambina de Dios
Sorella Langham, serving in Milan Italy, has that completely alarming and incredibly optimistic outlook and faith in every son or daughter of God she meets. Her faithful wonder and belief in people is inspiring.
Best Baby Auntie Award
You would think that the life-changing experience of joining the Peace Corps and stationing in rural Nata, Botswana would eclipse all other 2010 events for Sydney. But last fall she became an aunt, and the joy she has in her nephew is profoundly apparent. Even continents apart, Sydney is a doting aunt. We are ever impressed by your courage and ability to love!
Best Beach Babies Blog
Half the posts on this blog involved beaches, most involved babies, and all of them had great pictures. Creedo and Brayden (BFF!) don't even know how cool they are yet, but we think the day will soon come where they build sand castles on the beach together, and then team up to try to keep Kaitlyn from knocking them over. So excited to see you all again!

Once again, an honorable mention is due to the Facebooking, blog checking, text messaging, Skype-calling one-in-a-million Grandma Sarah. Thanks for all the comments, love and support!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas is tired...

Christmas Morning, 2010, The Lodge, AZ. We thought they said wiffles, not waffles, for breakfast...

Baby's first Christmas came with lots of firsts for our family. We celebrated with Johnson-side family at my Dad's parent's place near Tucson. Steve had never met my Grandparents before, or many of my Arizona relatives, so it was fun to introduce him to my birth state and family. I've always wondered what an "outsider" would think of the Mountain (the nickname for my Grandparent's house). It's exciting and primitive, with a small house surrounded by cacti and desert, with other various structures (all named in the characteristic Johnson fashion of playful language: The Lodge, Crystal Palace, the Birdhouse). Its as un-Americana of a grandparents' house as I can imagine. I had tried to explain it to Steve several times, but it simply must be experienced.

The garage made of tires

From exiting the freeway, it is about 35 minutes of bumpy dirt roads to reach their house. As a kid, this part of the journey was exciting and terrifying. The roads are much improved now, although still wild, and I remember thinking certain death on family vacations as we were speeding over rattling cattle guards in our overloaded van, barreling down cacti and blasting through sandy washes. I remember once as a kid, determined to figure out how my parents knew at which saguaro to turn left at, tried to "map" our journey on a piece of paper. With my pencil, I started drawing a line when we started on the dirt road, curving it as the road curved, angling it as we made turns, all the while feeling dubious we were on a road at all. My makeshift map ended up crossing over itself and falling off the page, and I gave up trying to maintain the cardinal directions ever since.

View from the house

Steve was worried about the condition of the roads vs. our low-riding sedan, but with unshakable steadiness and a stone face peering over white knuckles, he navigated the desert successfully. Granted, we arrived twenty minutes after everyone else did, but the car is entirely intact (as a teenager, I was driving a Ford Echo that bumped and shook and rattled so hard a mirror fell off).
When we reached my grandparent's house, we were first met by the unlikely sight of two giant Great Danes rising out of the desert to examine and pat down the guests for contrabands. When my nephew Alex (age 2) saw these enormous animals, he shouted "Caballo!"(He also had trouble with Creedence's name, and ended up just calling him Christmas instead. In the car on the way down, he would say things like "Christmas is tired..." or "Is Christmas hungry?").

Arwen and Pippen are the dogs' names, and they are wonderful company for my isolated grandparents. As long as I can remember, they've had an odd array of canines. One was a huge fuzzy white dog named Lady, and another was a somewhat tame wolf named Wolf. At least, they told me it was a Wolf, and I believed them. My grandfather exercises the Great Danes early in the mornings, revving up his four-wheeler and letting the animals chase him freely as they cruise the desert dawn together. The nearest neighbors are herds of cows, and the Danes let them have it for snacking in my grandparents' gardens.

There are two things you must know about these large creatures: firstly, the tails are whips and lash and sting like wet rope on a sunburn if you let yourself get hit. Secondly, these dogs are not ordinary house-dogs. You must respect their size and whims. For example, they prefer to sit like people on people. If you happen to be sitting in the dog's spot, on the dog's sofa, thinking it was a safe place to sit in the living room, you may find that Arwen will walk up to you and sniff, turn around, and then walk backwards into you until her hind legs and rear are now on your lap, and her front paws remain on the floor, her head the same level as if she were standing. It is not easy to get out of this position.

During our trip, one of the dogs was not feeling well. My grandfather was also not feeling very well, and it was half-jokingly, half-seriously suggested that they were symbiotically linked. Watching my grandmother gently care for the sick horse-dog, or rub my grandfather's back and sympathetically pat his knee as he was in pain, I realized I had never seen her in motherly role before. She's always been my white-haired grandmother on the Mountain, with her desert and her projects and my grandfather- I've honestly not given much thought to her as a mother... these things are always strange, visiting childhood places and memories with an adult perspective. Due to a terrible fire years ago, there are only a handful of photographs extant from the years when her children where at home, so I have only visualized her younger years. I know she bore ten children, two of them dying within days of birth. The loss of these infant sons, a year apart, would be devastating to me. I've never talked to her about it- but observing her this trip, I felt like more connected with her. When we all went to her ward the day after Christmas, there were six women (and two little nursery drop-out girls) around her during Relief Society. As daughters, daughters-in-law, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters, she simply introduced us as "These are all mine," and I felt love for her. Isn't family great?

As for my grandfather, he has always seemed like an older version of my Dad, so he's always been more familiar to me. He is big tall guy with long bushy eyebrows and big sense of humor. He speaks with a clever, lighthearted vocabulary, which has always endeared him to me. Both of my grandparents approve of Steve; not that I was worried, but its always nice to be told that I got I good one.
Two good ones

And Steve did swimmingly on the Mountain. It is not for the faint of heart (but neither is our Provo apartment). The plumbing is fickle- flushing is agreeing to play Russian roulette with the plunger. The power is provided by a number of huge solar panels and an impressive generator system. When the generator is turned off for the night, that's that for electricity until morning. Which is fine- the stars are lovely out there in the dark dark desert. That's another fun memory I have of the Mountain that I was happy to share with Steve- the beauty of the desert. It really is something else.
Playing on the tractor. Creedo loves wheels of all kinds.

The Lodge
Christmas was a spectacle! In the Lodge, where my boys and I were sleeping with the my Aunt Sue and Uncle Andrew's family (all 12 of them, plus my brother Gideon), a tree was placed in a corner and strung with lights. The beams of the ceiling were duly decorated with strands, and the whole place was festive and glowing. The Lodge is one large room, with bookcases and shelves along every wall, and in front of these are several sofas and couches. If there is one thing my grandparents have a lot of, its books and seats upon which to read them (ok, thats two things). On Christmas Eve, it was a giant air mattress slumber party, but somehow Santa made it in without waking up the believers and only smacking Steve, laying near the tiny walkway from the door to the tree, in the head with presents once.

My mom, true to tradition, woke us all up early, "Its Christmas! Why are you sleeping?!" She has always been all for the excited, wake up at the crack of dawn, Christmas morning. as kids, we were weren't allowed to come wake my parents up until a certain hour Christmas morning- but it was always way before 6am anyways. The air mattresses were cleared away, bathroom trips were made to the main house, and soon everyone was gathered from the other structures and rooms across the place to find a seat in the Lodge. Grandpa Johnson does the honors, and passes out the presents, saying things like, "Mercedes! What did you do to rate so well?" as he hands her a present. The big hits for Creedence were the wiffle balls, anything and everything car, the book Dick and Jane and Vampires (good work Gpts. Haynie!), and these odd-looking bath toys of sea creatures. He wasn't really into the wrapping, but he really liked watching all the excitement. I accidently ordered the wrong Knifethrower book for Steve. Apparently Knifethrower: A Mormon boy among the Pawnee wasn't the collection of esteemed short stories he had wanted... but it made for a good reaction when he opened it, paused, then turned to me, almost offended that I had bought him LDS fiction, and asked "Maria. What the heck is this?" Oops.
Has wheels! Must play!

Hmm... hint of rubber, a dash of low grade yellow dye... made in China?

but I only have ten fingers...

Watching the festivities. Note the awesome Space Santa PJs.

Later that day we had Christmas dinner at my Aunt Kathy's in Tucson. The Creedence experience tour enjoyed another stop, and Steve was able to meet more cousins, kids of cousins, and other relatives (everyone approves). Luckily, by this time, Steve had the ten Seelos' kids down, so he knew people and names. We had lots of fun with the Seelos kids. The oldest is here at BYU with us, and the ages go down to three (Becca, who does a great bobble-head interpretation that Creedo picked up. Hilarious, video will hopefully come soon). One Seelos, Stephen, had trouble with Creedence's name too and thought everyone was calling him Crickets. New nicknames!

Other highlights of the trip were watching Despicable Me with all the kiddos, playing the game Would You Rather, tying blankets with my Mom and sisters, going on walks in the desert with Steve and Creedo, car conversations with the sibs, Justin Bieber impersonations, soaking in some sun, eating cookie dough, playing at the park, taking family pictures, the non-stop clapping between Creedo and my mom, and watching Creedence play with everyone.

We had a great time, and the trip was too short. We were glad to have gone, and especially glad that my two sisters, Eli and Jazz, surprised everyone by coming out last minute. Awesome! So good to see everyone. We should do it all again soon. We'll bring the marshmallows.

The End.