Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The hilarious things Afton is saying these days that I don't want to forget

Afton is our pickiest eater by far. Here are some stories which chronicle her particular struggle with food.

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Afton doesn't like beans. (Fresh green beans are fine, but not baked beans, black beans, etc). One night dinner was a taco wrap deal--a tortilla filled with a meaty-tomatoey-beany filling and cheese. For the first few bites, Afton seemed to be enjoying her meal. Then without warning, she jerked, shuddered and made the I-just-tasted-the-nastiest-thing-ever face. Then declared with utter dismay and horror, "Something tasted like a bean!!"

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Afton doesn't like mushrooms. One night dinner was a pasta-veggie deal, which included mushrooms. She was dramatically lamenting their presence all through dinner, avoiding them as she ate. At one point she pointed one out to Emma with her fork, and asked, "Do you think that's a mushroom?" Emma (who likes to tease as much as any good-natured Cruze) answered, "No, I think it's just a mushroom-shaped piece of pasta." Afton nodded with approval, and popped it in her mouth. One chew later, she gagged a little and announced, "It was a mushroom!"

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Background: since the dawn of time, always and forever, the rule at our house is if you don't finish your dinner you don't get treats or snacks the rest of the night. More often than not, Afton eats the portions of dinner that she likes, takes one thank-you bite of the food she doesn't like, then calls it a night and declares herself done. No problem, I'm not going to force feed her. And since this has been the pattern for years, she knows that means no treats or snacks later and she's cool with that. If she's hungry later, I offer her the food we had for dinner, or frozen peas. She actually likes frozen peas, and since it's a straight up green vegetable I'm okay with her eating as much as she wants regardless of dinner-status.

So last week, there was a dinner she didn't like much so she didn't finish it. No biggie. But this day I had made blonde brownies, and we were all preparing to enjoy them after cleaning up dinner. She started asking if she could please, please, please just have one little brownie. I'm no pushover, so the easy answer was no way, you already know the answer to that question.

Afton: *dramatic sigh* Well can I at least have a little snack?
Me: You can have frozen peas.
Afton (tears filling eyes looking up at me pleadingly)
Me (sitting down to talk to her about all this): Listen honey, why is this upsetting you so much tonight? You've never been allowed to have a treat if you don't finish dinner, this is nothing new. You know the rules, and you chose not to finish dinner.
Afton (squeaky little voice): It's just that I'm imagining everyone having a great time with their brownies, and I just have peas.

Happy ending: she ended up deciding to finish her dinner after all so she could join in the boisterous brownie-party.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

5th grade field trip to Wonderworks

With all the kids in school this year, I've had a lot more freedom to go along on kids' field trips and it's been great! 5th graders know how to do it, we spent one of the last days before the break at Wonderworks, one of the 7 wonders of Pigeon Forge. They've got 1000 things to do there, and we did almost all of them.

It all came with a cost, though. I remember specifically thinking while we were there what a germ factory the place was. I was right. Two days later Josh came down with the flu.

And Ben followed after him the next day. Happy Christmas break boys!

Happy ending: they were better in time for Christmas, and the rest of us managed to fight off their germs. Hooray!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dillsboro and Afton's birthday

Backing up December we made our annual pilgrimage to Dillsboro NC to sip hot chocolate, check out the quaint little shops, talk to the bear, eat good pizza and indulge in some treats from the fudge shop. (Lots of deliciousness associated with this tradition!) We managed to snag the last horse-drawn wagon ride of the night, and entertained the onlookers with our rousing rendition of the 12 days of Christmas, as always. This year was kind of a bummer though, because Scott couldn't be there and was sorely missed (he had good reason though, one of the young men he was Bishop for was leaving on his mission soon and asked Scott to come to the temple with him).

And then as if that wasn't enough fun, Afton turned six. SIX! That's big! Lydia started the day off right by making Afton a special birthday cup for breakfast...

I kept it going by coming to school lunch and sweetening it up with an ice cream...

Then homemade pizza was her birthday dinner request ("just cheese please, no other stuff on it").

And an Anna doll/dress up combo was her gift.

(On a side note, it's kind of fun to see the deterioration of her hair throughout the day in this series of photos.)

Saturday, February 21, 2015


Another basketball season is wrapping up! We had three players this year: Emma, Ben and Lydia. Each of them had a great team full of old and new friends, each of them had a lot of fun playing, each of them saw a ton of improvement, it was a good year.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Freezer paper stencil t-shirts for Christmas

I always forget how much I like making freezer paper stencil t-shirts. Easy, personal, they're a great go-to gift. I made a bunch as gifts a few years back (around this time), then kind of forgot about them.

When Christmas was approaching and all the shopping was done, (side note: I have never finished Christmas shopping as early as I did this year. I was 90% done by Thanksgiving and wrapped up the last few things early in December. Man, it felt good. It made for more time to relax and focus on the spiritual side of things. I recommend. anyway...) I felt like the kids could use just one more little thing from us but didn't want it to just be a meaningless filler type of gift, you know? So I decided to get super-meaningful and make all of the kids personalized shirts. Scott and I brainstormed together to come up with just the right words to use for each kid, something that would suit their personalities or their interests or would just show in some way that we really know them. I loved that process. Once we'd decided on the words, I just free-handed the designs and then cut them out of freezer paper. 

(Another side note: I have tried fabric paint and just regular old cheap craft paint in the past and I find the craft paint to work far better. The fabric paint was thick and hard to work with, then cracked and peeled as the shirts were worn and washed. The regular craft paint goes on smooth and with each wash it just becomes part of the shirt (the paint did crack on Emma's, but that was because her shirt was kind of ribbed, not a true t-shirt. Anyway...)

Emma is an adventurous spirit. Her favorite things are hiking, camping, the outdoors, and going and seeing new things. Pretty much 90% of things she adds to pinterest are photos of this type of thing.

Ben mentioned this line from an Avett Brothers song was his favorite. We thought it suited him well as it speaks of confidence and determination.

Josh was named after the Old Testament prophet. This line from Joshua 1:9 reminded us of Josh's fortitude and fearlessness to do what's right no matter what.

Lydia, like all of us Cruzes, is short. She started kindergarten when she was still four, so she's also the youngest in her grade. Combine those two factors for an extra small 3rd grader. But her personality, her joy, and her radiance of goodness make up for her small packaging.

We named Afton for a song written from a poem written about a River in Scotland in 1791. "Sweet" just happens to be the one word that continues to describe her perfectly.