Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My birthday party, a photo essay by Espen.

While I work on a post about Espen's third birthday party, I thought I'd give you a sneak preview through the eyes of the birthday boy himself. Espen had been very interested in taking pictures with our phones and cameras, so we gave him a camera for his birthday (a Vtech Kidizoom Spin & Smile, but we paid less than half of that at Walmart). Espen loves his camera and takes photos basically every day, and we love giving him the creative freedom that his own camera allows. It's also been really fun to see the world from his perspective, as you can see in the following photos:

Espen's very first photo with his own camera. It is early 

Trying out the self-portrait function. 

Getting a little artsy with the frames and semi-abstract shots of hands. 

Miss Telyn has arrived!

Daphne poses beautifully by the presents. 

A few friends waiting for birthday cake. Daddy with his camera, and me lighting the candles in the background.

Stepper is beautiful even when posing for toddlers.

A pretty cool shot of the streamers and the top of my head. 

Some of the party treats seem from toddler perspective.

And I just kind of like the texture and focus in this extreme closeup of our couch.

Starting to pick up on a theme of Espen photographing pretty girls. 

Party food.

The party is over and the guests are heading home. Little miss T could be giving her dad some sass here. 

I think it's so interesting to see the world from his perspective. In a literal sense where you see how adults look so big and just how much time little kids must spend looking up at everything because the world just wasn't built for them. It's also kind of fascinating to see the things he chooses to photograph too. I've been transferring the photos Espen has been taking to the laptop and keeping a collection of the "best" ones. Of course, that's just me picking and choosing the ones I like, he might be happy with entirely different shots. I'm looking forward to seeing what he comes up with and the little insights we get into that fantastic little mind of his. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A little glam on a Tuesday.

Not your usual fare around here on a Tuesday.

Before I was even dressed this morning (not that hard these days), Espen has brought me my pearl necklace and a request that I wear it. Seeing as my plans for the day mostly included laundry, cleaning my kitchen and the usual child wrangling, I can honestly say I hadn't given much thought to accessorizing. I hadn't given much thought to myself at all, beyond a quick trip through the shower. So when that little face so earnest wanted me to wear something pretty, my initial reaction was to laugh and put it away. Put it away for a day more deserving of prettiness. Fortunately, my first thought was quickly overruled by my second thought, which was "why the heck not?"

Seeing as I was already going to wear my pearls, I decided after my shower that I was going to skip the wet ponytail and blow dry my hair. Then I reached for a new cardigan and tank top when I got dressed and remembered that I had just bought a new tinted lip balm. An extra five minutes of my day, and I feel pretty great about myself, actually.

Thanks, little boy.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

To Espen, now that you're three

Espen on his third birthday.

Dear Espen,

We have just celebrated your third birthday in a flurry of Lighting McQueen, presents and a gaggle of sugared-up little friends. With the notable exception of the days you and your sister came into this world, I don't think your Daddy and I have been as tired as we were after tucking you into bed on your birthday. You even rounded off the day with a spectacular tantrum because you didn't want your birthday to end. As tired as we all were, I wouldn't have changed a thing about your special day, from your awed excitement over opening presents ("A camera? For me?") to your pink-cheeked, wild-eyed elation at your party, to seeing my little man order himself a cheeseburger and a milkshake at dinner (who knew you liked either of those?).

I also wouldn't change a thing about you*. There are not enough words in this world to adequately describe just how much joy you have brought to our home. Even as you sit beside me at the table, eating your lunch and watching Strawberry Shortcake, my heart does little flips when I think about how much I love you and what being your mom means to me.

This year has been another big one. You've left your babyhood behind (even  typing that brought tears to my eyes) and become a full-blown little boy. You talk in complete sentences and have a vocabulary that never fails to surprise and amuse: "I'm really disappointed in you, mom." "I'm just so frustrated!" "I forgive you, Granny." Sing it in a different language! Sing it in French!" You went to Europe again and added another country to your growing list (to date: USA, Norway, England, The Netherlands, Sweden and Belgium). You conquered your fear of slides, developed a passion for cooking and have worked most of your way through the alphabet with your weekly playgroup.

Espen and Gwen - the best kids around. 

And the biggest change this year: you became a big brother. We both cried on the day Gwen announced her arrival, both overwhelmed by the big change that was about to happen in our little life. But when I told you that "Mama is crying because I'm just a bit surprised that baby sister is coming today", you looked at me and said: "Surprises make us happy!" And your little sister has made us all so happy, just like you do. You don't quite see her full potential yet, but it makes my heart happy to see how sweet, loving and gentle you are to her. It touches me how you are (impatiently) waiting for her to grow up a bit so she can be your little buddy and sidekick to play with. When we went grocery shopping today you begged for Gwen to sit beside you in the cart, and when I told you she couldn't, you sadly sighed "I want Gwen to get bigger". I hope you'll both remember how much you longed to be able to play together once you finally do get there.

A few of my favorite things about Espen right now

  • Your belief that your name is both Espen David and Espen Sweetheart
  • Your complete devotion to trains and cars and anything with wheels
  • You love books and reading so much
  • You birdwatch from your bedroom window with your "noculars"
  • When I kiss you goodnight on your cheek, you always say "no mom, right here" and point to your lips. 
  • You love your family so much and always want to see Grandma and Grandpa and Granny and Grandad. Even though you've only met them a few times, you know your cousins' names and talk about them. 
  • Similarly, your friends mean a lot to you, and chances are that if you have a mopey face, you'll tell me that it's because you "miss my friend, mom" - even if it's just been 20 minutes since your last playdate. 
  • When you play, your toys have the funniest little conversations that always start with a round of proper introductions. It's nice to know that even Decepticons have nice manners. 
  • You are firmly convinced that anything that doesn't work according to your expectations needs batteries, and if batteries don't fix it, you'll tell me it is "bruined". 
  • You love painting and can keep going for quite literally hours. 
  • You still flip out with delight every single time your dad comes home. 
  • You notice when I get a haircut, get a new shirt or get dressed up. That will get you far in life, my son. 
  • You say "I love you, mom ("I wuvs you, mom") almost every day.
It doesn't get better than that. 

Espen Sweetheart North, you are my favorite and my best. I love you so much and look forward to every day I get to spend watching you grow into the wonderful person that you are. 

Thank you for being our little boy, 


*Except let's get you potty trained, ok sweetheart? Please?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

10 minute sticker album for (hopefully!) hours of fun.

I thought I'd share this little project with you, not because it is especially lovely, but more in the hopes that someone else might find it useful. We are in the sticker phase - big time. Not simply the phase where Espen loves stickers (we've been in that phase for most of his life), but the phase where he seems to attract stickers from everywhere. The doctor's office, the grocery store, birthday parties, you name it. We initially let him stick them on the back of his bedroom door, but now he's switching rooms and I'm not especially interested in him taking this habit with him. The fact that he will happily stick stickers for a good 20 minutes has also not passed me by. Toddler gold!

So, today I made Espen a little sticker album:

Hours of fun!
 I started with a blank book that had been kicking around with my crafty stuff for years. You can order them here on Amazon, or if you're in Utah valley, the BYU bookstore has a pretty good selection of different sizes. Mine had an Anne Taintor post card glued to the cover, so I needed to rip that off and cover up the evidence, so I glued on some cute paper and called it good. Espen enjoyed cutting and gluing with me, which is ultimately more important than the end result, I think.

This way the Angry Birds stay inside the book, rather than plastered all over the house.
 I wanted a way to corral all of the random stickers that seem to float around our house, so I simply cut the flap off an envelop and glued it inside the back cover. It looked a little plain, so I slapped a little label on it and called it good. You, my friend, could make this completely adorable. But it's kind of ingenious, right?

 And then the pages are just left blank. It might be fun to draw landscapes or roads or whathaveyou to on some of the pages for the stickers to adorn, but we don't trouble ourselves with positioning, scale or direction in our stickering. I might try it out, though. An older kid might enjoy doing that themselves too, which, y'know... more time being occupied!

They shall all be stuck.

And that was that! It took about 10 minutes to put together, and would probably take half of that if you assembled your materials first, knew exactly what you were doing first, and didn't have a two year-old helping you. Espen wanted to use it right away and spent 20 happy minutes sticking all his Fireman Sam stickers in the book, along with a few random stragglers that I was happy to not have floating around the house. And the next time Espen is given more stickers, we'll know right where to put them.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Gwen's baby blessing

There are only a few days left until my mum flies home on Monday, and we are hunkering down to enjoy our last days together. It has been so great to have my mum here, especially seeing as she doesn't mind quiet days at home with me and the kids.

Because my mother was visiting, we had Gwen's baby blessing at church (an ordinance where babies are given their name and a blessing, sort of like a christening, minus the actual christening). It was a really lovely day spent with friends and family in celebration of our beautiful little girl. 

Gwen in her blessing dress. 
With Granny, who knitted Gwen's outfit.  
Espen wanted in on the picture taking action, and Gwen has had enough. Enough, I tell you!
We prettied things up a bit.
My mum made a cake.  
And I made a banner, which I think is going in her new room when we get that far. 
Some good friends came. 

And some family. 
Our little family of four. 

I may have spent the morning flapping around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to clean up, bake croissants (from a tube! Don't you worry.) and get all of washed, dressed and ready, but from the moment we stepped into the church and until bedtime was just a lovely, happy day. The blessing was beautiful, and I was completely overcome with gratitude for this little girl and the privilege that it is to be her mother.