Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Random Pictures


My Mom and Dad's Halloween costumes.  Aren't they adorable?

Abe went hiking up in Palisades with two of his sisters.  

Abe and I went to the Policeman's Ball.  Aren't we hawt?  

Abe and I went shooting one fine date night.  Here, I'm exhibiting proper shooting form.  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Christmas 2013

On Christmas Eve, Soren sat down after breakfast and wrote out the day's itinerary in pictures.

First, we would go to the Christmas Museum.  Then the Temple Visitor's Center.

Afterwards, we would go sledding.  

And then it would finally be time to go to Grandma and Grandpa's house for some Christmas Eve pizza.  

Then back home...

...where we would leave treats for Santa and sprinkle magic reindeer food on the lawn.

And this was Soren's favorite part: BED!  All he wanted all day long was to go to bed so Christmas would come sooner.

Some Christmas highlights:  

Santa asked Liam what he wanted for Christmas.  Since Santa was holding a candy cane, Liam said "Candy cane!"  Wish immediately granted.  

Soren, who had a Christmas wish list as long as the line at Best Buy on Black Friday, drew a blank in the critical moment and told Santa he would have to talk to me about what he wanted for Christmas.  

Gingerbread cookies were a must.  Liam went pretty heavy on the marshmallows.  

The Christmas Museum!  

The boys dragged me at break-neck speeds through the Christmas display and headed straight to the kids' room-- which has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas-- where they played happily for an hour.

Christmas morning!

Why yes, Briar and I DO have matching robes.  


The Christmas Song Soren wrote me for Christmas.  For those who can't read this very well, the transcription is: "Ooooooo dot be noty uneless u wil git no pressis  no! no! no! no!  Thas RIT!  no! no! no! no! no! no! no! no! PRESIS!!!!!!! OK!!!!"  (Translation: Oooooh....don't be naughty or else you will get no presents!  That's right!  No, no, no, no!  That's Right!  No no no no no no no no no PRESENTS!  Okay!?")

After Christmas we were surprised by a few days' visit from Uncle Caleb, one of Daddy's brothers.
Uncle Caleb is loads of fun and the boys begged him to stay longer, but alas, the military is not understanding about such things.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Brothers: January 2014

"The boys sat on my lap this morning in the rocker/recliner.  They didn't fight or shove or hit or anything!  On the contrary!  They wrapped their cute little arms around each other and told each other-- repeatedly-- "I love you."  (From my "Happies" book...October 24.)

S: I love you, Liam
L: No!
S: Makes threatening gesture.
L: Okay, Soren!  You love me!

Liam: I kiss you?
Soren: Um....too disgusting!
Liam: Okay!

"Liam, while you're having a bath, I'm going to make you a present.  It might take a while, so...enjoy your eight hour long bath." -Soren

L: I won!
S: No, Liam.  It wasn't a race.  If I win, it was a race.  If you win, it wasn't a race.

L:  Mommy, look!  It's moon time!
S: "Hi, moon!"

One morning the boys made up a "dance" that consisted of running around the kitchen island in opposite directions and hugging every time they met.

In their Halloween costumes.  Soren is a necromancer; Liam is the red Power Ranger. 

This is how we paint here in the Skousen household.    

Crafting gingerbread houses on the first snowy day of the year.  

Snowman fun!  

Stretching their IQs with a rousing game of Cranium.
We are a very "clothes optional" kind of family.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Liam Update: January 2014

Liam is our snuggly sweet whiny stubborn wild relaxed little redhead.  I just want to eat him, he's so cute. 

Some highlights from the past three months

*When you are in Liam's good graces, he will frequently and spontaneously proclaim, "You besfwend!  You my besfwend!"  Sometimes (to me) he'll say, "I love you, Mommy.  You my mother."  But if he's upset, he'll take it back.  "You not my mother!"  

*One morning the boys were taking a bath and I heard a sudden splash, followed by Liam screaming, followed by more vigorous splashing.  I (correctly) figured Soren had clonked Liam and was now flailing around in a rage, and I didn't really want to wrestle a wet, angry Soren out of the bath, so I took my time moseying over to the bathroom to check out the situation.  When I finally arrived, I was horrified to see lots-- LOTS-- of blood dripping off Liam's head, flowing down his scrunched up, screaming face, and streaming in little rivers down his chest and belly.  "Soren!" I screamed in shock.  "What did you do?"  Soren, who hithertofore had been covering his head and kicking water, stopped long enough to look at his brother.  Then he joined in the screaming.  "WHAT HAVE I DONE?" he screamed.  "ABE!"  I called.  Soren started crying hysterically.  "What have I done?  WHAT HAVE I DONE?"  Abe came stumbling into the bathroom in his untied robe and removed Soren--still screaming-- from the tub. ("IS HE GOING TO DIE??  DID I KILL HIM?") I laid Liam down in the water to clean his head wound.  The bath water turned red, making it look like I was bathing him in a pool of blood.   It turns out there was just a tiny little ding on his head.  I'd always heard that head wounds bled a lot.  Now I know.  I think it took longer to calm Soren down than it did to calm Liam down.  While I cuddled Liam in his towel, Soren kept bringing peace offerings.  

*One evening for his chore Liam got out the hand vac and spent probably 30 minutes finding individual things to suck up off the living room floor.  When he was done, Briar asked him to put the vacuum away.  You would have thought she had asked him to throw his teddy bear away.  He wept and cried as though the wound had cut so deeply it would never heal.  "Briar told me put away chore!"  he wailed to me, over and over again.  

*Liam calls boiled eggs "roll eggs," because of the way I roll them around to peel the shell.  

...because while clothes may be optional for breakfast, a baseball helmet definitely is not.
*During primary one Sunday Liam noticed a wound on his finger.  I was sitting with another class, behind his, so I watched as he showed it to his teacher.  "How did you get that?" the teacher asked.  "A man killed me!" Liam told him, then added gun noises:  "Pshew!  Pshew!"  Then he changed his mind.  "A lion got me!" he said.  "Raaawwwwwrr!"
Playing in the clean laundry.
*Mr. Independent got his own hot pads out of a kitchen drawer in order to be able to get his own hot food from the microwave, which he could only reach by pushing a chair over to climb on.  

*When he's annoyed with something or someone, Liam will say, in an exasperated tone, "Jeepers!"

*Sometimes he'll also adorably say, "Whew! That was a close one!"

*Liam has a habit of disappearing at the end of our block of church meetings.  He thinks it's hilarious to disappear in the crowd of people, laughing and looking back to make sure he's being pursued.  Usually we'll find him in the gym, running around with his belly pooched out, giggling like he's in an asylum.  One Sunday, however, I couldn't find him anywhere.  Not in the gym.  Not in any of the classrooms.  Finally a teen from our ward noticed my frantic searching and pointed at the chapel doors.  "He went in there a while ago," she said.  Dear Lord.  There was another ward in there trying to hold sacrament meeting.  I peeked into the closed-off overflow section in the back, hoping she had meant he'd gone in there.  Nope.  Finally I took a deep breath and opened the chapel doors.  There was a lady up front, saying a prayer.  Several people looked up at me judgmentally from behind bowed heads and half-closed eyes.  And there was Liam, running back and forth.  He saw me, starting giggling (read: belly laughing), and shot up an aisle.  He ran all the way up onto the stand, past the organ (where the organist tried unsuccessfully to snag him), and into the choir seats.  I was mortified.  What could I do?  I couldn't go charging up there myself.  The lady finally finished her prayer and I held up one threatening finger.  Liam giggled and ducked behind a wall.  I held up a second finger.  He stopped smiling.  I held up a third finger--and mercifully he began walking back towards me.  "Thank you," I prayed silently.  I put a firm hand under his armpit and marched him out to the car, vowing never to show my face in the church again.   

*Liam ran in the Tater Tot Trot.  It was adorable.  He chugged all the way around the track at his own determined little pace.  He didn't win-- but he didn't lose, either.  :)   

Santa brought Liam a headlamp and he wore it nonstop for about 72 hours.  Apparently it is comfortable sleepwear.
*On Mondays, my sister watches my boys.  It's good bonding time for Liam and his auntie.  Because he doesn't have preschool on Mondays he and Collette will go to the cute coffee shop in town that her friend owns.  They'll drink hot cocoa together.  Afterwards, she'll buy him a toy at the thrift store.  One day I came to pick up the boys and Liam and Collette had just awoken from a shared nap.  They came out of her bedroom together, all sleepy-faced and fuzzy-haired.  Adorable.  

*Liam is the best nap buddy.  He's very snuggly and will pretty much sleep for as long as I want to sleep.  I love to curl up with him in bed on a sunny afternoon before Soren comes up from school.  

*Liam has become obsessed with the color red.  It's his most favorite color in the world.  I suspect this may be because it's the only color he can identify consistently.  

*For Halloween, Liam was a Power Ranger.  Cutest little Power Ranger there ever was.  I even got him to sing, "Go, go power rangers!"  

*Liam sometimes gags on something, then coughs a lot, then throws up.  He does this on ordinary days, when he is otherwise well.  He'll cry for about 10 seconds and then move on.  He'll often thank me for cleaning up his barfy mess.   

Thankful for his morning applesauce and pancakes.  
*A favorite thing:  Liam's sweet face beaming beautifully from the window of the preschool bus, turning to look at me as it goes 'round the corner.  Little chubby hand waving and blowing a kiss.  One morning (at bus time) I got this text from Abe:  "That little blown kiss just kills me."  It kills me too.   

*From my Happies Journal:  "Right now Liam-- who had a late nap-- is sitting by me, drawing (very cheerfully) a picture of a giant Liam with sharp, jaggedy teeth who is eating Mommy, Daddy, and Soren.  He is narrating this all with wide eyes and enthusiastic gestures.

*In preschool, Liam learned about stop and go.  He likes to run up ahead of us on walks and then point his palm out: "Stop!"  Then he'll put it down with a flourish.  "Go!"   We spend a lot of time stopping.  

*New word: disappeared.   
   "Mommy?  Where's my ball?"

   "I don't know, sweetie."  
   "Huh!  It's 'appeared!"  Hands out/up in a shrug

*New word: disgusting.  (Pointing at the food he's been served for dinner:  "That's usgussting!")  

*The boys and I helped our neighbor friend Kacie move a few things into her new apartment.  Liam would carry something in, set it down, pant a lot, and say "whew!" ostentatiously before heading back out to the car for another load.   

*A conversation: 

Mommy (after kissing Liam all over his cute fuzzy head) "Oh, you are just so delicious!"
Liam: No, Mommy!  I not food!
Mommy: Oh, you're not food?  
Liam: No!  I Liam!
Mommy: Well, can I still just eat a little tiny bit of you?  Pleeaaase?
Liam: Ooookaaaaay.  

*Sometimes Liam will play a game where he crawls around and alternates between pretending to be a dog, a cat, and a baby.  The dog is my favorite because he will bring me a ball in his mouth and we can play fetch.  

Like so.  Footwear on all four limbs is optional.
*Liam is a very easy person to travel with.  Abe and I brought him along with us while we ran some errands and he happily talked to himself the whole time we were driving around.  He would make weird sounds, have conversations in varying voices, and vibrate his lips.  

*A joke, by Liam:  "Poop!  Ehhhhhhh!"   (imagine the "Ehhhh" as a Sesame Street Bert type laugh.)  

*Liam says "airplane" "nowplane."  

Friday, January 17, 2014

Soren Update: January 2014

Soren is such a live wire. Though he can be, ahem, challenging, I just love being his mama.  He never ceases to delight and entertain.

Some highlights from the past three months:

*It was the first Sunday in January.  We had just gotten home from church.  Soren hit Liam, then fled to the kitchen.  I first comforted Liam, then followed the unexpected sound of Soren's sobs.  I found him sitting on the kitchen bench, face buried in his knees.  "Soren?  What's wrong?"  Wordlessly, Soren held up his hand.  On his ring finger was the CTR ring he'd gotten in church that day.  I scooped his little body into my lap and pulled him close.  "It's okay, sweetie," I told him.  "We all make mistakes.  That's why Jesus came."  He pressed his head against my chest and continued to cry.  

*Soren has decorated the area above his bed.  His decor includes a family photo, a picture of the temple, a painting of Jesus, a stick figure drawing by his friend Evan, two pictures that he drew of the two of us together, a photo of him as a baby, and a page from one of his favorite Bernstein bears books.  

*When I pull into the garage after work, Soren's always standing in the doorway, grinning a gap-toothed smile, screaming joyfully, and dancing like a monkey.   

*In Soren's drawings, I have Rapunzel-like hair.

*Soren says "each other" "theirchother."  

*I took the boys to a train show.  Afterwards, I was remarking to my neighbor friend that I was a little surprised at how many old men loved to play with trains.  Soren piped up, "I know, Mommy!  We went in there and I was like, what is this place?  The hospital?"  

*Soren and Liam both ran in the annual Tater Tot trot.  They both ran the whole way--no walking--which made me proud.  Our neighbor Porter, who is Soren's age, won second place in Soren's age group.  When I picked Porter up for our carpool the first school morning after the race (two weeks later), Soren's first comment to him was a very congratulatory: "I'm not surprised you got second place, Porter."  

*One day I told Soren in a sing-songy voice, "Soren, I'm going downstairs!"  He replied back, equally sing-songy, "Ok-ayy!  Why-yy?"  "To do laundry!"  I sing-songed back.  "Have fu-un!" he said.  Then he added, still sing-songy, "Why are we talking in this tone?"  

Baking a cake.
*Soren does this crazy rock star imitation that involves screaming the words"rock the world!" repeatedly at top volumes while flailing his body around in frighteningly impossible ways.  

*I nearly fell asleep today listening to Soren orate at length about the skills of his "Karate Cars" and how they measured up to each other.  

A house that Soren made for his cars.  Note the night-light bulb suspended from the desk.

*Soren tripped on our hardwood stairs and knocked his two front teeth loose.  After three hours of high-volume screaming (Abe called it "the end of the world by decibels") and three days of him looking like a wild-eyed scraggle-toothed hillbilly, the teeth finally came out.  The tooth fairy made two visits and he left her a couple of very nice notes.  One said, "Ilufeuthoothfray," and the other read, "U are nice."  I love his little Jack-o-Lantern smile.  

Look Ma!  No teeth!

*Soren's developed a love for money.  He managed-- through doing chores, digging up change in the guest room at Grandma's house, and losing two teeth-- to acquire a bulk savings of $10.00.  He was very excited and went around telling anyone who would listen: "I have ten bucks."  

*I taught Soren how to make an animated story using a book of sticky notes.  He spent hours making a couple of hilarious little animations that involved a lot of violence, counter violence, and explosions between stick figures.  

*A joke:  "What's a pig mixed with an oven?  A hot dog!  Hahahaha!"

*At night I give the boys piggy-back rides to their beds.  On this particular evening, Soren had already been deposited in his bed, but must have been lying there listening while I galloped around with Liam, running in the kitchen ("Oops!  This isn't your bedroom!), then into the bathroom ("Oops!  This isn't your bedroom!), then into my bedroom ("Oops!  This isn't your bedroom!).  When I finally came in to drop off his giggling brother, Soren exclaimed warmly, "Oooh!  I just love family!"

*Instead of "or else," Soren says, "or nelse."  

Demonstrating a back scratcher he crafted out of Trios.  

*One day, after studying for his spelling test, Soren told me that when people see a blue whale, they would describe it as being "very big," with several extra "v"s at the beginning and "46 exclamation points at the end."  

*Soren was so furious at his cousin Marty for throwing a rotten plum in his sister's hair that he attacked him with a Styrofoam sword.  A little aggressive, yes, but the sentiment was nice.   

*Soren is a holiday aficionado.  He was soooo excited about Halloween.  He ran around chattering excitedly and endlessly about all his ideas for Halloween decorations and party activities.  He even set up a spook alley in his room....it included a Jack-o-Lantern bucket with a flashlight illuminating it from the inside, a scarecrow, and a ghost.  

*For Halloween he dressed as a necromancer.  He mostly wanted to be "something really scary," so we came up with this costume.  Briar and Abe declared him a necromancer.  Neither Soren nor I know what a necromancer is.  

*A few weeks before Halloween I bought Soren a new winter coat and a 97 cent pack of Halloween decorations.  He was ecstatic.  "How can I EVER thank you, Mommy?"

*It was his idea to make bone-shaped Halloween pretzels.  

*Though he loves holidays, Soren hates Thanksgiving.  To him, it is nothing but a barrier that stands between Halloween and Christmas decorations.  There was much weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth, arm flailing, door kicking, etc. every time his frequent bids for early Christmas decorations were denied.

*Once, after a fight, I heard Soren grumble under his breath, "I wish I could kill Liam for Christmas!"  

*Soren volunteered to teach the FHE lesson one night.  He picked the topic of "kindness" and put on some very dramatic theater shows involving lots of physical violence between puppets and a stick horse and himself.  In between fights, he would stop and ask the rest of us in a very calm voice, "Was that kind?  Or not kind?"  

*Later I was trying to explain to Soren about how Jesus said that we had to forgive people for doing mean things to us not just seven times, but seven time seventy times.  But Soren had a better solution.  "After seven times, I would go get the Duty!"  

*One evening Soren sat down and spent some time practicing "all the things I'm bad at."  Apparently these things include writing 4s, writing Ns, and drawing stars. 

*My sweet friend Rhonda brought us dinner one night after I griped on Facebook about having to clean up barfy messes all morning (Liam).  Soren was deeply touched by this gesture and felt very strongly that none of the food go to waste.  

*Soren comes home from school and tells me excitedly about all about the things they've been learning.  He spends a lot of his free time thinking and talking manically about spelling and math.  

*Sometimes when he's been naughty, Soren will slip a note under my door (or his door, if he's doing penance in there).  It's hard to resist an "I sry Mommy" written in large, scrawling letters.  


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