Friday, June 27, 2008

Utah!

As I was just putting Benjamin down for his nap, he was spitting out a jumbled, long string of words. Something like, "Daddy, work, home, weekend, airplane, Utah, Grandma, Grandpa house, bike, swing, fireworks, Shio-boough (sound effect for a firework)..." He is so excited to go on vacation tomorrow, and talks non-stop about who we'll see, what we'll do, and where we'll go. We're all so excited to take a two week break together!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Four Years Ago

Another trip down "Memory Lane"...sorry.

It was four years ago to the day when my older sister got married. Rachel was the first of my 7 siblings to tie the knot. She and Sam were married in the Washington, DC Temple, and her reception was held later that evening in our backyard. While I do send out a congratulations to my sister Rachel for four years of married bliss, this post is actually about the magic that came into my life following her reception.

Sam Sorber grew up in Orem, UT, and attended elementary school with Paul Cannon. Paul was on an internship in Washington DC for the summer, so he was able to attend the reception. His parents had received two wedding invitations, so he especially felt it his duty to come, even if he was alone. Paul's family used to live in our ward, so he enjoyed running into old family friends and checking out the bridesmaids, who were no longer 4 years old and under.

I was still recovering from ACL surgery, and had decided not to wear my massive leg brace under my yellow chiffon dress. So I was hobbling around on crutches. We never formally met at the reception, but Paul had gotten a visual. Quite by miraculous intervention, we both ended up later that evening at a Young Single Adults Dance at the McLean Stake Center. I had my brace back on, and thought I'd go hang out with my friends Julie and Kelly and my little sister Miriam. Paul was alone, at the only YSA dance he'd ever been to in his life. We ran into each other in the parking lot when he boldly approached our group asking, "Hey! Are you Lowe girls? I was just at the reception." Slightly weirded out, we said we were and agreed to let him hang out with us. I recognized his last name from his introduction. My family has always loved the Cannons, so I figured he couldn't be that bad.

So the whole night he hung out with us. I danced with him a few times, and got to know him on a surface level. As my group was leaving, he followed us out and told us that he and some of his friends were going out to a crab shack the next night, and invited us to come. Everyone else politely declined, but I gave him my phone number and said that I might go. On the ride home, my friends went on about how weird this guy was and how crazy I was for giving him my phone number, so they were shocked when I admitted that I was kind of interested in him.

He called the next morning, and re invited me. I convinced my friend Julie to come along, so we joined his group later that afternoon. When I saw him again, something happened. I'm not sure what, but I was madly in love from the time I laid eyes on him. I'm not sure if I can say I knew I was going to marry him (he says he knew from the moment he saw me at the reception), but I had this bizarre feeling that I could not let him go. It was a feeling of total inadequacy like I knew I didn't deserve him or that he could possibly like me, but at the same time I was not going to give up trying to win his affections. I had never, ever been so forward with a boy in my life. It was a magical evening. Poor Julie awkwardly tried to chat with his friends as Paul and I paired off, hanging upside-down on the docks of the Chesapeake Bay. I'm not sure what we talked about, but it was evident to me that our views and goals seemed to parallel one anothers'. Paul was a perfect gentleman the entire evening, and even ended up paying for me and my friend.

After a few more weeks of hanging out, we finally had our first "DTR." I was sure he was going to break up with me; it was always too good to be true. Keep in mind, I was still 20, and had never been in a serious relationship before. I was dumbfounded when he told me that he wanted to marry me, because I also knew at that point that I needed and wanted to marry him. And so we were engaged, a mere 25 days after meeting on June 25, 2004.

I love our story. And I love you too, Paul. Happy four years of magic!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Lots of Changes

I grew up in Vienna, Virginia in one house my entire life. We hopped around for a few months when I was one year old while our house was undergoing major construction and remodeling. For a while, we lived with my grandparents in McLean, and for about a month, we house-sat for Paul's family while they were on vacation in Utah (it was ironic to discover later that the pictures of me sitting on the Cannon's kitchen table in a diaper would be significant). As a kid, I even wished that I could have the opportunity to move, but we never did. There would be times when my parents almost made plans to move to Utah (near my Mom's entire extended family), but it never seemed to pan out.


I loved our house! It has been under some kind of construction since I've been alive. It's never been finished until now, but somehow, I never even noticed. Somehow the unfinished, spider and cricket-infested basement never seemed to bother me. I'd go down there and roller skate, play dress-ups and have a marvelous time with my three younger sisters. I shared a bedroom until I was 14, and learned a lot of important life lessons from that experience. One being, little sisters can be right that it's not a good idea to shove the messes (even in desperation because you've run out of time) under the bed when Mom tells you to clean your room. Our kitchen was also constantly undergoing renovation. We had a huge piece of plywood nailed on to the back of the peninsula that served as a "signing wall" for years. The history of our friends, neighborhood, ward and all the missionaries was immortalized on the back of that wall. It was pretty ugly.

I loved the acre yard! I used to spend hours outside, building forts, playing in the bamboo and in the "woods," and climbing trees. I buried several of my hamsters and other woodland creatures in those woods. We would build bonfires in our fire pit, and have annual "burning ceremonies" at the end of each school year, and have "camp outs" in the backyard complete with tin foil dinners and s'mores. We also had the most enormous garden to the side of our house. Weeding that monstrosity was never a pleasant memory of mine, but enjoying the rewards from it were! We had rows and rows of raspberry bushes, a few blueberry bushes, an old apple tree, a cherry tree, a plum tree and a peach tree. We would always plant tons and tons of corn and beans each year, as well as some other varied crops. Then we'd help my mom can and store them. Also unique to our neighborhood was the plentiful, wonderful well water. We really did have a little piece of heaven at 2649 Five Oaks Road!
I went back there for the last time this past April with Benjamin. We helped with some finishing touches to help stage the house to sell. It looks amazing now, but nothing like the house I grew up in. My parents put our house on the market shortly after I left, and a quick 14 days later, it was sold. Then yesterday, I received a phone call letting me know that they bought a house in Centerville, Utah. I don't know if it's quite hit me yet that I'm never going back. It's still kind of surreal. The stories I tell my kids of my growing up years will only be illustrated in their minds by my old photographs. Grandma and Grandpa's house won't be the one I knew and loved. But I'm happy for them all the same! This will be an exciting, new chapter in their lives.

Some other recent changes that have been going on in our families have been the births of a few new cousins! Paul's brother Josh and his wife Anne recently had a little boy, and my brother Bryan and his wife Jenilee had a little girl! Interestingly enough, that makes a solid four grandsons on the Cannon side, and the fourth grand-daughter on the Lowe side. My sister, Miriam is having baby girl in a few weeks, which will bump that up to five girls (Benjamin is still the only boy on my side). So I'm getting more and more curious to know what we'll be having! Will we continue the Cannon trend, or add to the streak of Lowe girls?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ritz Crackers, Anyone?


So I’m pretty sure I’ve never bought Ritz crackers during Benjamin’s lifetime. We don’t buy a lot of snack food in general. The other day, the two of us made a quick trip to the store to grab a bag of chips on our way to a picnic with some friends. As we walked down the snack aisle, Benjamin gravitated right to a big red box of Ritz crackers and would not be parted with them. I suggested maybe we could get some different crackers, but there was no comparison. I finally showed him a cheaper Schnuck’s-brand version of the Ritz crackers, and he gave in. I guess they looked similar enough.
I couldn’t figure out where he might have had them before. I did vaguely remember seeing a pop-art Target-esque commercial for Ritz crackers recently, but had no idea when or where I’d seen it. We don’t watch TV with Benjamin, so I figured he couldn’t have seen the commercial with us. I mentioned this later to Paul, who remembered we had all seen that commercial during the previews to Kung Fu Panda. Interesting.
So I wonder if Ritz cracker sales have spiked in the past week and a half that that movie’s been out. I’ve forgotten just how powerful advertising can be on a young mind. I mean, don’t we all know that Lucky Charms are far superior to Marshmallow Matey’s because they’re “magically delicious”?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Happy Birthday, Benjamin!

Benjamin's birthday is tomorrow, but we celebrated it on Saturday because Paul left for a business trip this afternoon for the week (We love you Paul! We miss you already!). It was a really fun day, being all together. Benjamin was beaming with delight all day long.
Benjamin woke up his usual time around 6, so I let him out of his crib. I climbed back into bed and he joined us for a while. Then he left to get some water and started running for the kitchen, where we had set up his presents and decorations. As he walked in, we heard him stop in silence, then all he said was, "Whoa."
Of course, we had set up his classic Radio Flyer tricycle next to the table with a shiny bow on it. He has been obsessed with bikes for a few months now, and whenever we asked him what he wanted for his birthday, he would tell us he wanted a bike. So we believed him. He was thrilled! We got a good sturdy one, so it ended up being a little big for him. He still likes to try to push the pedals while you push him around on it. It should fit him for a few years though.
Another favorite toy was his wooden train set. He loved pushing it over the hill and under the tunnel, and rearranging all the pieces. I think putting the tracks together is great for problem solving skills and manual dexterity. He loves it!
Paul and I haven't been to a movie theater since we lived in Utah and could take advantage of our wonderful family. We have had a few babysitters since we've moved here, but only after Benjamin's already in bed, and by that time, we're usually exhausted and can only make it through dinner. Pathetic, I know. And completely my fault for never leaving him. I digress. It's been way too long.
Well, we decided Benjamin might be old enough to take to a matinee, so we went and saw Kung Fu Panda together. We prefaced this excursion by showing Benjamin a few trailer clips of the movie on the computer. We asked him if he wanted to see a big movie about a panda for his birthday, and he said "Yes!" After that, whenever we mentioned his birthday, he would say, "Big. Pan (panda). Pah-pah (popcorn)."
He was really excited up until the point when we tried to take him into the dark theater, and that's when he got scared and wanted to leave. We had to show him it was ok--lots of other kids were going in, and we'd just carry him inside to check it out. Once we were in there, he warmed up and started going at the big tub of popcorn we supplied him with. When the movie started and the panda came on, he started giggling incessantly, louder than anyone else in the theater. It was hilarious! He was laughing for the entire first half of the movie until we ran out of popcorn. He and I went to go refill the bucket, and when we came back, the long mounting fight scene had just begun. He had lost interest by then and was saying, "Nap. Home." We got him to stick it out, and had a wonderful time. Definitely the highlight of the day! He still talks about it, and how "Punny (funny)" it was.
Benjamin requested a monkey cake this year, so I copied his stuffed monkey. Luckily I had just the right tip for drawing a chunky monkey with chocolate frosting, so it was pretty easy. Then I carved graham crackers for the lighter parts.
Benjamin was really excited about blowing out the candles, and wanted more than just two. He finally gave in to our logic that we could only have two candles for a boy who was turning two years old. I told him next year we could have three.
He must have been too stuffed with popcorn, because he only wanted a few bites of cake before he was all done. It was mainly about the candles and the birthday song for him.

Happy Birthday, Benjamin! You'll probably never have a birthday quite like this again since you'll be sharing us with siblings in the coming years, but it was sure fun! It's been a fantastic two years, and we feel blessed to have you in our family.

Friday, June 06, 2008

It's a....

Yup, that's right. We had our ultrasound yesterday with nothing to show for it, other than a healthy, stubborn baby.

I guess I'm spoiled after having Benjamin in Utah Valley, a.k.a. baby factory, USA. We had videos and fantastic pictures of him at 10, 16, 20 and 24 weeks. They even did 3D/4D images, and we found out his gender at 16 weeks. Our ultrasound technicians there were fantastic, and jostled him around enough to get the right shots for us.

I love my current doctor. She and I really get along, and she delivers at the best hospital in our area, so it's a great fit. I consented when she said they needed to wait until 20 weeks to have the ultrasound done, even though I wanted to find out a little sooner (like I had with Benjamin). So in our opinion, she definitely didn't probe enough during the ultrasound. She would almost get the right shot, but then its little foot/umbilical cord would get in the way or she'd move and start taking measurements. It was so frustrating! And such a let down after all the anticipation.

For me anyways, it doesn't all seem quite as real until I can refer to it as a him or her. I am of course displaying classic signs of pregnancy and getting rounder in the middle, but that's about it. I'll probably end up going to one of those places in the mall...I used to think those places were ridiculous until now!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

One Little Monkey

video

Benjamin was showing me a raccoon outside his bedroom window (it's huge, and scary, and roams around our neighborhood all the time), then randomly started performing his version of "Five Little Monkeys Swinging in the Tree." It's also the version they say in nursery. If you can't quite follow, here's how it goes:

"One little monkey swinging in the tree, teases Mr. Crocodile, 'you can't catch me, no you can't catch me!' Along comes Mr. Crocodile, quiet as can be....and SNAPS that monkey right out of that tree!"

Of course in his version, there is only one very resilient monkey, since he doesn't quite get the concept of subtraction or numbers yet. I was just happy to have caught this on video; he normally refuses to perform!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sense and Sensibility


So Sarah took a Jane Austen Heroine quiz a few weeks ago and the omniscient Internet declared her to be most like Elinor Dashwood. Neither of us had read the book nor did we have any clear recollection of the movie, so we decided to read it together. It proved to be a pleasant variant of our usual evening routine of ice cream and Idol/Lost/Tivo junk. This was our first attempt to read together. We ended up really enjoying the world of Jane Austen. After a few days I even decided to take one of those quizzes to see which of Jane's heroes I most resembled. I got Edward Ferrars. Sarah was disappointed, because we were at a point in the book where his character seemed deeply flawed; she hated him. We really enjoyed the final few chapters and found ourselves doing the Abby coo and fanning our faces with our hands. (If any of you have ever watched a Jane Austen movie with my sister Abby, you know what I'm talking about. I love you Abby!!!).

We had such an enjoyable time we decided to make a habit of reading together, but we're really short on ideas of quality fiction. I don't think Sarah would enjoy reading books about fractal geometry, chaos theory, or the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, and it's my turn to choose a book. So I'm asking you for suggestions on some good reads. If we don't get any ideas from you I might end up inflicting Sarah with Atlas Shrugged or the Fountainhead. That may just kill any hope of this becoming a pleasant diversion. Any and all suggestions welcome. Thanks.