Sunday, August 30, 2009

Probably the third most beautiful thing I've made

Of course the 2 most beautiful things I've ever made are the Monkey and the Bird, and they are tied for first. But they count as 2 entries. And also, I can't take all the credit for them. Another guy was involved. I won't get into it. You're welcome. But after this weekend, I'm thinking that these butterfly cupcakes MAY come in as the third most beautiful thing I've ever made. And they only took slightly less time and effort than birthing a child.
You see, I've found a wonderful new hobby: CUPCAKES! I used my b-day money to buy 2 new cupcake books, which I will blog about more extensively very soon. When I saw these monarch butterflies in Hello, Cupcake!, I knew I was going to attempt them for the next family celebration, which turned out to be my sis-in-law Michelle's b-day party today. (The family was appropriately complimentary, and I wasn't shy about the fact that I was hoping for that enthusiastic response!)
The wings are made from melting candy wafers, which you pipe in the shape of wings, use a pulling technique to get the designs in the colors, and then attach them to the cupcake when the wings and antennae are set. That is a one sentence description for something that is actually quite complicated and time-consuming, but I figure if you are really dying of curiosity, you'll ask me or buy the book. I made plenty of mistakes, which I am forcing myself not to point out to you.

Here's a close-up of the wing prep.
I chose orange for Michelle, since she's the ultimate OSU Beavers fan, but I definitely think I'll do these again for another special occasion and try other colors. I learned from my mistakes and am sure I can do it again. But right now, I'm just basking in the beauty!

Friday, August 28, 2009


I have not been feeling particularly inspired to blog lately. In fact, I've been purposeful about being online less and doing actual THINGS more. (Like baking cupcakes...I'll have a post on that soon.) I've noticed that I can easily spend an hour blog-hopping and reading all my friends' witty status updates on Facebook. Then I feel like I've wasted an hour. So, just trying to cut back a bit. But I still like to post every few days, so here's a new one.
This is the one and only Jack (aka: Jackjack, Jackeroo, Jackee, Cracker Jack, Jack-man...and that's just the names from our household). He and his fam were visiting a few weekends ago and he had his first corn on the cob. It was a hit!
Can you even handle the cuteness?!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Summer of Sonic

So, here's the thing. I have a bit of an oral fixation. I love passing the time by sipping on something sweet. Especially when we are going for a bit of a drive; that's when I love to have a little drinktreat. My favorite choice of a summer drinktreat is a grande no whip white mocha Frappucino blended coffee. Mmmmmm. Second fave is an almond joy dutch freeze, but that's a little too sweet, even for ME. (Most of you black coffee lovers would spit it out.)
But here's the problem. THE PRICES! Good NIGHT they are ridiculous. Starbucks just raised their prices, and for me to get my drink and a chocolate milk for Carson it is...wait for it...FIVE DOLLARS AND SEVENTY CENTS. Well, the first time we went with these new prices, I just about wet my pants. (Of course they didn't tell me the total until I was at the window. Boo! Boo, I say!)
However, the good news is: we have found a very suitable substitute.
SONIC! They just built a brand new Sonic about 5 minutes from our house. Sonic has a variety of summer drinktreats like slushies and flavored lemonades, and will put flavored syrup in regular sodas.
The biggest selling point for us is that EVERY DAY they have a happy hour from 2pm-4pm when all drinks are half off. HALF OFF! Also? Vanilla cones and a small tater tots are only $1 all the time.
I'm a little embarassed to say how often we have been to Sonic this summer. Now that Carson is not napping regularly, our afternoons at home can feel like an eternity. Hopping in the car to go spend $1.50 for 2 drinks is often the perfect solution for cabin fever. Not only is there the new one by our house, but there is one perfectly placed right off the freeway on my way home from visiting friends in Portland. My drink of choice is usually a diet coke with vanilla. Carson gets a small lemonade or cherry slushy.
Trent comes home a couple times a week and sees our Sonic cups in the trash and gets jealous that we went without him. So, of course, on the weekends, we have to go WITH him. His choices vary, but often tends to go with the lemon-berry slush. I highly recommend it. This particular Saturday, we got: 2 vanilla cones, one diet coke with vanilla flavor, one chicken sandwich, and 2 small slushes. The total? $5.90. Twenty cents more than my 2 drinks at Starbucks! Need I say more?
We didn't have any huge summer vacation, we are a little tighter on the budget since the purchase of the Minivan Awesomeness, but there's something about a little sweet treat that makes this happen:

....and I'm sold!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ode to the Minky

These special loveys that my mom has made for the kids have turned out to be quite the must-have item in their lives. The supersoft fabric she uses for them is called "minkee" fabric, which is how we got the name Minky (I kinda changed the spelling to suit my tastes.) When Carson was not even yet 2, I asked her to make a back-up in case we lost the precious original, but it was too late. Minky #1 was already loved down to a dull, stinky layer, having been soaked with tears, sweat, snot and drool. The new, bright, soft Minky #2 was just much too different for him to accept.
Carson at 18 months. Sydney's Minky (aka Pinky Minky) has become just as important to her. It is absolutely her comfort item and sleep-cue. She doesn't realize this, but this is actually Pinky Minky 2.0. Her original was lost in the December 2008 Snowstorm, when this housebound family thought it would be fun to trek through the blizzard to the bus stop for an excursion downtown. We went almost a month without Pinky, but since Sydney was only 6 months old, we were able to fool her and get by until the replacement was lovingly made. So, here's to our precious Minkies and the precious grandma who made them!
Sydney at 13 months.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Embrace the Chaos.

or, subtitle:

How I knew with certainty that my children were in cahoots to push me over the edge.

(What you don't see on the vid is that right before I picked up the camera, Sydney had dumped the dominoes, was tearing up Carson's Highlights magazine and turning the TV on and off at full blast.)

A typical evening in the Tompkins house!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This one's for Diane

We had a great visit from our dear college friend Diane last week. Carson, especially, got over his "shyness" (huge quotes on that one) quickly and I was so busy making sure he didn't break any of her bones as he was impressing her with his acrobatic skills that I didn't take many pics. Here is one later in the evening as Syd gave Di a good cuddle since she had the bottle. :) I've always heard about the Junction City Scandinavian Festival from Diane, who grew up in that small Oregon town. I also read her friend Karen's hilarious blog entry about the festival last week. Although I still have not experienced the joy firsthand, my kids can now speak with authority on the JCSF. I had a special gift in that Aunt Michelle & Aunt Tara took the Monkey & the Bird for a few hours last Friday. They met up with Mimi & GG (great-grandma Evelyn) and went to the infamous JCSF.
Evidently, one of the festival's most popular items are the aebelskivers. "Huh?" You say? Exactly. You can read all about them here.
All you really need to know is that they are a sweet pastry that may or may not have some apple and definitely has butter, dough, sugar, etc. And also? Sydney likes them.
(That's Tara. Hi Tara!)
A lot.
From what I hear, we're talking: LOVES them.
And it looks like Carson is also a fan! Hope you are proud Di! Thanks to my sweet in-laws for giving me a few precious hours of alone time. Glad to see my little darlings all hopped up on Scandinavian sugar when they got back!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Short Story

Part one:
The whole thing took less than 30 seconds. I was driving in my mini-van awesomeness on Friday when the sun started to get a bit bright. I reached into the diaper bag for my sunglasses and put them on. All the time, I was ever the conscientious driver and mostly kept my eyes on the road. I'm honestly not sure if I FELT the substance or SAW the substance first. Ew. There was some sort of blob beginning to drip from my eyebrow and my vision was about to be compromised. Of course I temporarily forgot my attempts at safe driving and crossed my eyes up to the brow in question. I flung my glasses off in disgust, reached up to touch my eyebrow and felt something wet and sticky. It reminded me of the wax my favorite Vietnamese gal uses to make these same brows beautiful and non-Sasquatch-like. EXCEPT it had an odor. was a combination of odors. You know when you see an actor in a movie and you KNOW you've seen them before, and you just cannot for the life of you figure out where? That's precisely how I felt when I first got a whiff of the odor of this nasty substance--but only for about 3 seconds. "What is tha...?" Oh no. I grabbed my glasses back from where they had been flung, abandoning all hope of being a good driver, and inspected them. Sure enough: the inside top of the left lense was coated in this substance. My confusion vanished immediately as I smiled with a combination of disgust and satisfaction at solving the 30-second mystery.

Part 2:
On Wednesday (2 days earlier), after Sydney's morning nap, we headed to good ol' Mickey D's drive-through. Of course we got the requisite Happy Meal, this time with chicken nuggets. We took our food to our lovely indoor play park and sat down at the picnic bench to eat. No surprise, Carson was so anxious to play that he ate only 2 nuggest and 2 apple slices and took off to the bounce house. I decided to organize the finger-food mess, and I put the nuggets, the apple slices and the caramel dipping sauce and the BBQ dipping sauce in the little cardboard nugget box, positive that I would remember it was full of offensive material and would handle it delicately. (Ladies and gentlemen, we English teachers might call that last sentence FORESHADOWING.) Again, no surprise, Carson tired out and melted down before he wanted to eat, so in our rush to leave, I threw the flimsy cardboard box in the diaper bag, which was then thrown into the van. Later that day, I discovered with relief that the mess that had dripped from the box had primarily been isolated to one rogue onesie and a sunhat. Or so I thought.

Part 3:
(This conclusion is only necessary for those poor readers who need everything spelled out for them.) Yes, my sunglasses were also in the diaper bag and were not, as initially assumed, spared from the caramel/bbq sauce debacle. Also? Caramel/bbq odor does NOT disappear easily when accidentally used as a tiny facial. Despite what you may have heard to the contrary.

The End.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Belated Beach post

I don't know how I missed posting these pics from a few weeks ago. Oh, wait, yes I do. It was the 100 degree week, and this was the first day of that stretch. It was hard to feel motivated to do ANYTHING. If you've never stayed in a home without air conditioning on a day that is 107 degrees, well then...I'm glad for you. It was beyond miserable. So, to fight back, we decided to make a break to the Oregon Coast, where you can always count on the weather to be cooler than in the valley. We were not disappointed! I loaded up the van with the kids, Mimi, Aunt Jess and Aunt Tara. After we planned our day-trip, I realized that Mike, Becky & Jack were also at the beach with Becky's family that whole week. They took time out of their vacation to come spend a few hours on the beach with us, which made the day even more enjoyable! That meant we got to see Nina, Poppie, Eric, Sarah, Ethan and Abby too!
This is one of my favorite pictures because you can tell by their fingers (especially Carson's) that they are having a really fun time. You can also tell by the dunes and the grass-spotted sand that this is an OREGON beach!The Sydneybird mainly just chilled with the grown-ups and took her turn lounging in the sun. But of course she has Pinky Minky with her. Uncle Eric took a long turn watching Ethan and Carson as they ran away from the waves, time after time after time. Again you can see Mr. Expression with the emphatic hand motions.
Run, run!
For some reason, this one makes me envision these guys when they get older.

Abby was not afraid of the sand at all! She enjoyed being buried and tasting plenty of it!
Auntie Tara getting some sun!
Auntie Jess protected from the sun...except for her legs! She and I both forgot sunscreen on our white legs & got some serious burns.

This is right before Mike & Eric buried the boys up to their chests. You think they look dirty now?! I don't remember who has that pic? Sarah? Mike?

These beaches are happily strewn with all kinds of drift wood to keep little 3 year olds busy for hours.

Jack also liked the sand.
The cousins played together for a while...
...and Carson showed him that it is more fun to LAY on the ground and cover yourself with sand.
Jack took to this lesson very well.
Syd shared her snack with Jackjack.
Aunt Tara took one of those back-breaking turns with a soon-to-be-but-not-yet walker who wants to move but needs you to hold her little hands.

Fun stuff!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Mr. Independent and Ms. Overshare

This morning was about the third time that Carson has woken up on his own, and instead of playing in his room or coming to wake up one of us, he just walked on out to the living room and sat on the couch to wait. This morning Trent found him around 7, just sitting there. How long had he been there? "A while." A couple days ago it was the same, but he had turned on Reading Rainbow. I'm torn on this new development. Obviously I love the idea of him being able to wake up without waking the whole house, and to find a little entertainment on his own is delightful...because it means that I'm still sleeping! But I'm not exactly sure how safe it is for a 3.75 year old to have run of the house whilst all able-bodied adults are unconscious.
All toddlers start to have a major independent streak, and, of course, that naturally continues on through childhood. Despite the battles this brings, no reasonable parent would wish for the opposite, or we'd be spooning food into an 18-year-old's mouth. Sooner or later, they have to take on some chores, willingly or un.
I mentioned last week that another new "I can do it myself" situation in our house is that Carson wants to dress himself. And he is physically capable of doing so. Big milestone! However, he is not capable of knowing that orange sweats, dress shoes and a wool sweater are not appropriate for a 105 degree day. He's also not capable of understanding that I don't want him to wear swim trunks and the too-tight-t-shirt with a flat, plastic Lightning McQueen that remarkably still blinks constantly, even though it is over a year and a half old when we are getting dressed for church. Just so you don't judge me TOO much, I do let him have complete choice about 80% of the time. Although I'm seriously contemplating a patent for a button or a hat that says "I dressed MYSELF this way! Don't blame my mom."
But if I could choose the one task in our house that I'm longing to surrender to my growing child, it would be the wiping of said child's TOOSH. Now, there are no pictures of this, because I know that a certain generation (coughBABYBOOMERScough) already think I overshare, but I wish you could see this. Thankfully, Carson usually is able & willing to sit on the toilet and do the #2 deed without an audience or moral support. Hooray! However, after a few minutes, I usually hear this in a very, like, total Valleygirl tone of voice: "UM? A little HELP, please?!!" I go into the bathroom and am greeted by a bare heiney staring straight up at me. Carson prefers to be unclothed from the waist down while pooping, so he's always still unclothed. He also, not unreasonably so, has decided that the best way to make the area that needs attention accessible to me is to, well, he practically points his bum at me. Let's just say that this is not too far off:

Out of my gracious consideration for my mother, I will not go into any more detail. Oh wait, yes I will. One more thing. I will say that we have tried several times to pass the torch, so to speak, to Mr. Carson to complete the task at hand without help, but that has backfired. Inevitably, less than an hour later, and usually right after buckling the carseat when running late to an appointment, we have complaints of discomfort in the bum region due to a less than stellar wiping job. It's really lose-lose.


Yet we are not giving up! Preschool starts in less than a month, and the rules require the students to be fully potty-trained and finish the entire job alone. So, we will persevere! And, if you're still brave enough to check back every once in a while, I may reward you by never mentioning this topic again.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Crazy fun

We had a crazy, fun weekend with our friends who were visiting from So. Cal. Sarah was single-momming it with Tanner (2) and Peyton (5 months). We all crashed in our teeny house and totally made it work, despite it being HOT. The four days were full of fun, but didn't feel too busy. These pictures are totally out of order because even though I know how to post them all backwards so that they will be displayed in chronological order, that required more brain power than I was willing to exert this morning. Sarah took more/better pictures than I did, so hopefully when she gets back home from Seattle, she'll post some. One of the best parts of our weekend was that we went to Winema for 2 days, but I forgot my camera, of course. So, just imagine all 7 of us staying in a borrowed RV, a perfect day on the Oregon coast, good late-night talks with JJ, and Tanner falling and/or bonking his head about 116 times.
One of the days we went to Wilsonville to meet up with Sarah's dear friends who recently moved to OR. We met them at this amazing little fountain park, where we stayed for hours. Ryan and Elise brought a portable canopy which made the outing go from fun to perfect. Here's Tanner, Pey-pey, Syd-syd and Carson. This is the fountain/steps/river.

The kids (although none managed to get into this picture) were all over the place, letting balls and boats and toys float all the way down the teeny waterfalls. It's mostly about 3 inches deep, but never gets more than about 6 inches.
Even Sydney didn't mind crawling on the concrete, because the water felt so good.

Speaking of Sydney, we saw a new side of her personality come out this weekend: jealousy! Carson was quite besotted with Peyton, and was very sweet with her. But Sydney felt the need to remind Baby Peyton that SHE is the princess in this house!"That's MY brother." Obviously, Peyton was able to push back a little. Girl fight!
(I kid.) On a different day, we went downtown to ride on the carousel, where I got exactly zero good pictures of the boys in their matching outfits.
We did check out the new fountains at the park, which were fun, but nothing compared to the Wilsonville fountain.

I did get the girl's matching outfits. Cuteness, no?! Also, behold, the only picture I got of Sarah. What a horrible friend I am! You'll just have to trust me that she looks fantastic! She's lost all her Peyton baby weight and is on track to get even smaller!
Sydney got over her jealousy long enough to give Peyton a head massage.Again with the massages. Did I mention it was hot? That's why the girls are so scantily clothed.
We hung out at home, played in the pool, talked, laughed, scolded, rolled our eyes, watched high school musical and laughed some more.
Here is Trent telling Tanner that he has to wait a few years to date Sydney.