Friday, July 31, 2009

My rubber band gun

Approximately one week ago I got a box with a rubber band gun in it. About six days ago from that point I ordered it online. Our parents do this system where we pay a dollar for each week ahead to get our allowances early. We call it credit. I mean, it's a good name, why not? And I had to take credit to pay for the rubber band gun.

Now it's my favorite weapon, next to my Swiss Army knife. My rubber band gun fits 12 rubber bands and it fits perfectly in my pocket. Oh, and by the way, BANG!

(exactly as dictated by Sam)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Unforgettable Legacy

Well, my grandfather's legacy lives on in his community... in a rather unconventional way. Some people have gardens planted in their memory, some donate park benches or sponsor a new wing of the library or a set of hymnals for the church. But that's not nearly interesting enough for a Reinhart! Poppop's memory lives on in Pinup Boys of Atlantic Shores.

As he was stuck in bed this spring he planned a fundraiser for a local Virginia Beach volunteer rescue squad: a nude-ish calendar of men in his retirement community. Truly, it takes community spirit to a whole new level - here's the calendar's cover shot featuring a few of Poppop's many kites and several very good friends.

I expect that you simply can't get enough of this story (who could!?!), so here are a few links to local TV station and newspaper coverage of the calendar photo shoot:You can preorder your calendar from the Atlantic Shores website, because I'm sure you can't wait for it to become available in stores! You have to admit, he won't soon be forgotten.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Creation '09

So I’ve just come back from this large christian concert event called Creation. Its an annual event put on in this wicked cool outdoor amphitheater venue placed in front of a gorge and is called very creatively “the gorge”. Seriously the view was one of the most impressive things about this event. Picture this-- 20,000 people, 4 days of concerts, camping with cold showers, 30 teenagers that you are some what responsible for, 3 children you are defiantly responsible for, and paralyzing 100 degree heat. Doesn’t that sound worth the 12 hours of driving?

The speakers were entertaining and engaging. During some of the less popular speakers like in the morning before teenagers can emerge from bed sleeping bags, Sam would creep down in front to get as close to the stage as he could. I think the fact that everyone was sitting down at those points made it less intimidating to check out the close up view. Anytime that we weren’t in the amphitheater, we could be found hanging out at our group campsite with the kids from the church youth group.

I think I only spent an hour with the youth for every two hours that I spent with my own kids, but that was okay. Our kids added to the fun of the group atmosphere. Sasha endeared herself as the campsite mascot and it was rare that I’d ever be responsible for feeding her since whatever was on someone else’s plate was far more fun to eat than what I had made for her. Sam and Ben could often be seen playing their Leapster game systems or telling jokes to anyone who’d listen while hanging out at camp. The van was quite the hangout spot for the jr. high youth kids. This probably all started when they first arrived and I had a cooler full of cooled sodas to drink. My boys were quite good at handing out sodas to the “worthy” kids who had actually helped unpack the bus and setup tents. They can spot a freeloader when they see one.

The days and nights we spent in Washington for the concert were jam packed full of fun and sure became exhausting after a while. The kids took some killer naps while we were there and I did as well. I think it had a lot to do with staying up till midnight. Oh well, nothing a few early bedtimes at home can't fix!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

They're Home!

There's nothing like five days at home alone to make me remember how very much I love being with my family! Steve took the kids on the church youth group trip to Washington last week to the Creation Festival and they had a great time. I'll try and get Steve to write a quick blog post about their experiences because we all love to read his narratives on life with three kids (and 30 teenagers)!

Rainy rolled in at around noon on Sunday, so we spent a well-deserved evening hanging out together after trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to let Papa take a nap after his all-night drive.

It was wonderful enjoying each other's company and our lovely backyard. I must have pushed Sasha on the swing for 45 minutes - that girl sure loves her swingset! Ben exercised his inner monkey and only got injured once. And Sam spent the afternoon playing with his new rubber band gun and reading. Finally the boys' TV withdraw reached unbearable levels for them and so they went downstairs to watch The Three Stooges while I pushed Sasha on the swing a little more and Steve finally got to tell me about his adventures in Washington.

Here are a few more photos of their homecoming:
Our fearless little girl leaps from the treehouse into Mommy's waiting arms. Thankfully she can't climb the rope ladder (yet) so she can only get into the treehouse when we're with her.
Sam's favorite way to spend an afternoon (well, second-favorite after playing Xbox)

Welcome home everybody!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dream Quilts

We came home with lots of souvenirs from Kazakhstan, such as several Nevalashka dolls for friends and family, a gift for Sasha for each childhood birthday, a Kazakh-Russian-English picture dictionary, a sword, several oil paintings, and two cans of horse meat. Yes, we favor the eclectic when shopping.

We also brought home three "dream quilts," embroidered wall hangings that are traditionally hung on the inside walls of yurts on the steppe. Our driver in Almaty took me to a rug dealer who travels around the countryside purchasing dream quilts from rural families and brings them back to the city.

The dream quilts that they sell are usually between 20 and 40 years old, so they're not exactly pristine (or at least the ones in my price range weren't pristine), but I think it only adds to the fun on the purchase knowing that the quilt was touched by many hands and enjoyed by many eyes before finding a home with us. The quilts are becoming more and more rare as folks move from the country to the city and even those who still live nomadic, yurt-dwelling lives acquire TVs and other novelties to fill up their free hours instead of embroidery. Oh, and the bottom edge is unfinished for one of two reasons: a. since dream quilts are often made to hang behind the bed of a new child it's symbolic of the fact that the child's life has only just begun and there is much more of their life yet to be written (embroidered) or b. dream quilts go behind the beds so there's no point in finishing a bottom edge that nobody will see. You choose the explanation that works best for you.

I purchased three dream quilts, one for each child to take with them when they set up their first home. Even if it doesn't work out that way, it was a good justification for me to buy and lug home three very heavy quilts.

While Steve and the kids were away with the church youth group this week I finally hung two of our three quilts - one in our room and one in Sasha's. The top photo is of the one hanging in our room and I was told that it's a very "Kazakh" design with all of the geometry and scrollwork. Sasha's design is more "Russian," which I thought was cool because she is clearly not of purely Kazakh descent and I thought it was nice symbolism of her shared Russian and Kazakh heritage.

It feels great to finally have the quilts displayed in our home - I think we're finally unpacked from our Kazakhstan adventure!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Spotlight on the Boys

A few days ago I was feeling a little guilty about writing so many Sasha-centric posts and decided to take pictures of what the boys were doing at the same time as I was photographing Sasha's antics for one blog post or another. Here's what I got:Hmmm... yeah... I guess there's a good reason that Sasha's photos have proliferated on this blog lately. Next time I'll try to catch the boys when they're doing something interesting.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Shameless Self-Promotion

I don't know about you, but this photo of Sasha from her second week at home still haunts my dreams. There is truly nothing on earth that stains like Beefaroni [shudder].

A few weeks ago, my dad sent me a link to Disney Family's Messy Baby Contest and this picture sprang instantly into my mind because:
  1. Sasha is wearing a Cinderella fleece
  2. She is disgusting
  3. Like I said, I cannot rid my mind of this image... especially when wearing a white dress shirt for work. If you saw that face in your dining room, the image would haunt you, too
So, I figured, "What the heck? I'll enter" and this weekend I did just that. Go visit and vote for Sasha! It's a free site and you can go back and vote for Sasha every single day until the contest ends - finally, a fitting way for you to prove your love for my little girl! :)

Friday, July 24, 2009


Steve took the kids up to the Creation festival in Washington this week, leaving me with way too much time to sit in a quiet home and think - very dangerous. Fortunately, the most extreme thing I've done in my first two days home alone is a haircut - the silence has not driven me mad quite yet! I do admit that I've been talking to the dog a lot, though, so perhaps my sanity level isn't quite as high as I give myself credit for. It's been a long time since I've had this much time all to myself and I'm determined to make the most of it, if only just to stave off the loneliness of an empty house.

I must say that I'm excited about the cut. Of course, this is the thinned, blow-dried, round-brushed, and flat-ironed version of my hair so it will never be this calm again (because you know that I do none of these things in my daily "beauty regimen" and we will use that term loosely when applied to me).

And to round out this "all about Jamie" post, check out my new headshot from work! I'm presenting at this year's user conference so they needed a nice photo for the conference materials. Although clearly taken pre-haircut, I have to say that it's a pretty darn cute picture. I didn't think that my Casual Friday jeans would show in the photo, though... oops! Oh well, it gives me a nice approachable look, right?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Eye-Fi With My Little Eye

I used some of my birthday money this year to purchase an Eye-Fi card - yes, I know that my birthday was three months ago, but I haven't had my birthday party yet, so technically I believe my birthday celebration isn't over! Besides, I turned 30; I'm allowed to extend the celebration. But I digress.

I have a love-hate relationship with the Eye-Fi card. Here's the theory - it's a 2 GB SD card with built in Wi-Fi, so when it finds my home network the photos are automagically uploaded to my home computer. I love this theory. You may have noticed that we take a few pictures and I love the idea of not having to dig out the SD card reader to get my photos off of the camera. I know, that sounds incredibly lazy, but pulling the photos off of the card is a dreaded chore.

My experience with the Eye-Fi card in reality was less magical than its promises. I'm on my second card because the first apparently was bitten by a mutant spider and had a nasty habit of corrupting my photos, but to their credit the good folks at Eye-Fi sent me out a new one without me having to make too much of a fuss.

So far this new card is vastly superior to the old one - the card hasn't eaten any photos yet and the Wi-Fi actually works (I also had issues with the connectivity on the old card which is, let's face it, the whole reason to buy one). The camera still has to be within 30 feet or so of the wireless router, but that could be the fault of our crappy router.

Would I recommend the Eye-Fi? Yes, I would if you're like me and would rather put up with some technical headaches than pull out the USB SD card reader every day. Plus it's a cheery orange color. It's not the end-all-be-all, but it's a fun toy and it does make it easier for me to post fabulous photos of my children to this blog for your enjoyment.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Leaning Tower of Chairs

How do you make a really, really bad idea even worse?
Add another monkey to the Leaning Tower of Chairs!

Yeah, maybe instead of taking photos of the death-defying climbing monkey antics I just should have been putting the chairs back into the shed where they belong... but then I couldn't have shared the whole experience with you! By the way, no monkeys were harmed in the photography for this blog post.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Together for Eleven

July 18th was our 11th wedding anniversary - can you believe it?!? I am simply filled with gratitude for this amazing, talented, grace-filled (and so good looking!) man and for the myriad ways God has grown, stretched, and transformed me through our marriage. I love The Message translation of Matthew 19:11-12
Marriage isn't for everyone... But if you're capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.
I know that I still have a heck of a lot of growing to do, and I am keenly aware of the blessing of learning from and growing alongside such an amazing man.

We did the big party thing last year, so we kept this anniversary celebration low-key with a Wallflowers concert at Red Butte. We had a lovely night sharing champagne toasts while being serenaded (well us, plus a few thousand other folks) by Jakob Dylan.

Incidentally - Jakob totally looks and sounds like a young Bob. It's like Bob meets California Surfer Band or something... it's hard to describe the experience, but Steve and I had several moments during the concert where we just looked at each other and went, "woah."

Fun Even When She's Locked Up

We're crate-training Chorney, which seems to be the universally accepted puppy training method these days, and for good reason. She has adjusted to her crate really well, and to be honest it's probably good for Chorney to have a place where she's safe from the children. Well, safer - leave it to Sasha to find a game she can play with Chorney even when the puppy is locked away! Sasha puts her hand up to the door and when Chorney gives it a lick it's all squeals and delighted giggles from Miss Sasha.

If the crate's latch wasn't difficult for little fingers to manage, Chorney would really never get a moment's peace! As is, I still expect to walk by the crate one afternoon and see both Sasha and Chorney snuggling within.

Incidentally - check out Sasha's healed-up palate in this photo. Uvula and everything! Way to go, reconstructed-palate girl!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What Trash Cans?

This spring Steve removed one of the ginormous 40-year-old bushes from the corner of our house. It was the right time (shrubs only look good for so long), but it did leave our trash cans in a horrid state of exposure.

Ok, "horrid" may be a little strong, but we have four trash cans (trash, recycling, green waste, and another trash can that we don't pay for but came with our house and we occasionally use when we have heavy trash weeks) and they needed hiding. Steve found these fabulous fence sections at Lowe's that are used to contain air conditioning units and with a little retrofitting they became perfect trash can disguisers.

Steve and Scott pulled out the bush and roots, Spike and Sharon did a ton of prep work, Steve put up the fence, I put the weed- discouraging fabric down, and Sasha did the watering (never mind that she only managed to water the mulch). It was a little-red-hen-like team effort!

With the help of the High Country Gardens website and catalog I think I managed to design a garden that will look good in winter (grasses), be colorful for most of the summer (Guara, Blue Catmint, and Black Eyed Susans - that's the nod to Maryland!), and withstand cold Utah winters and dry, sizzling summers. I'm still awaiting the arrival of a few of the plants from my order, but I'm already starting to look at the garden with the same pride in my eyes as you see in Sasha's as she surveys her magnificent bark-watering job.

And here's the "finished" garden! This time next year the perennials will have started to fill in, the grasses will be high and billowy, and you'll say, "Trash cans? What trash cans?"

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A New Toy

I've been toying with the idea of getting a digital SLR for a while, and when Spike expressed a desire to upgrade his ancient (six-month-old) Canon Rebel XSi before his upcoming trip to the Galapagos Islands, we jumped at the chance to buy his "old" camera.

I still have a lot to learn about the art and science of photography, but fortunately Steve took some photography classes once upon a time and knows the basics of apertures and f-stops (which apparently mean the same thing - who knew?).

I'm currently just working on how to clean puppy nose prints and toddler finger prints off of the lens, but I'm sure I'll move on to what the heck the settings on top of the camera mean any day - no lie, they read: A-DEP, M, AV, TV, and P. Well, I'm glad that they made it so user friendly! Those letters mean nothing to me - but I guess that's why cameras come with manuals. I'm going to dive into the camera manual just as soon as I finish the puppy-training one, which may not be very soon since I'm currently on my third reading of the chapter, "Basic Etiquette for Puppies," which Chorney clearly needs given her now-insatiable appetite for the new camera's strap.

Oh and I did get one decent shot from the hyperactive Chorney photo session. Awww.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hitting the 'Peaks

We are certainly a family of waterbugs and Sasha has taken to the pool like... um... like a fish to water. Sorry, the colloquialisms and analogies ran away with me there.

We have season passes to Seven Peaks, which rocks because we can just go for a couple of hours without feeling like we have to make our visit worth the price of a day's admission. And now that Sam finished his level two swim lessons he's feeling a lot more confident on his own in the water (and we feel much more confident that we will leave the pool with the no fewer children than we started with!).

Another big perk of having an eight-year-old who swims on his own is that he tows our tube around the lazy river and wave pool - no more tedious and exhausting paddling! Phew - for a while there I was worried that I might actually work off those pool-concession-stand-churro-and-pizza calories!

Here are a few more shots from our latest afternoon at Seven Peaks - these were all taken in the baby pool since it's the only place in the park where we have two free hands for photos :)

Ben now refuses to stay still so that we can take a picture, so here's the best photo we got of him sprinting past the camera.

A happy Mama and Sasha hang out in the baby pool (excuse the squinting, it was a bright Utah day!)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chorney Close-Ups

My goodness, I do have a good looking family - and that includes the most recently added family member (the one with four legs)! I worked from home yesterday and while enjoying lunch just had to take a "few" close-up shots of the many faces of Chornaya Morningstar. She's just so gosh darn cute!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Times Do Change

While we were in Virginia Beach for my grandfather's memorial service, I came across this fascinating little piece of history - a package of straws that my grandfather must have been refilling since the 60's since the straws I found inside were definitely not 50 years old.

Just look at how exciting a bendy straw can make basically all facets of your life! Kids and Moms love them and they can be used for a dazzling plethora of beverages - in "gay pastel colors," no less!

Incidentally, I think my children would agree with most of the exclamations on this package. Everybody loves bendy straws!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Baseball Season's End

This week marks the close of baseball/t-ball season for the Orem Rec League and, although we've had a lot of fun, I'll admit that I'm ready to have my Saturday mornings back. A 6-week season is about all I can handle (all of you parents of high school athletes are just chuckling and shaking your heads at me, I know).

Here are a few highlights from the second-to-last game:
Ben masterfully whacks his ball off the tee while Coach Steve looks on. I think Steve has really enjoyed coaching t-ball - we all know he's a wonderful teacher, and 6 weeks of coaching fifteen 4-6 year olds is probably enough to satiate his elementary school teacher instincts for a while.

I love this photo because Ben is simultaneously running madly to first base and shrieking to Steve, "Dad, see that guy over there? That's Sam, he's one of my summer camp group leaders!" Clearly such important news couldn't wait until after he had arrived at first base.

The Skeletons cheer on the Orange Crush after the game. Steve says that the kids originally wanted to be the Skulls but that he vetoed that idea and finally acquiesced to the Skeletons. He nudges them towards baseball-like actions with the cheer, "move those skeletons" and I guess the kids really latched on to the motto!

Sam truly excels at his "ready position" in the field. Since this is still pre-little league, there aren't a ton of balls that make it out to the field, but he's ready for them when they do!

Sam's hitting has really improved throughout the season and he now hits the ball pretty reliably every at-bat. We still have some work to do before he's ready for the majors, but we consider this a foundation-building year :)

Golden locks a-flowing, Sam runs home. If a haircut isn't in his future, maybe we'll just work on getting Sam to wear a hat for ballgames. I still ask him every few weeks if he wants me to trim the hair out of his eyes, but he likes the California surfer look he has going on.

This may be my favorite Sam and Ben shot ever. Ben got Oreo sticks as an after-game treat and there was no way the boys were going to let a golden mock- smoking opportunity pass them by! Sam is pretending to be the Pink Panther and Ben is Hannibal from The A-Team declaring, "I love it when a plan comes together."

I have never been so proud.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Another Lovely Summer Wedding

Last Saturday our pastor's son, Robbie, got married. It was a beautiful wedding and the reception (equally lovely) was held up at Soldier Hollow, where the cross country and biathlon events were held for the 2002 Olympics.

I should probably tell you all about the heartwarming times we spent reuniting with old friends, blah blah blah, but instead I'll just post charmingly-captioned photos of my kids. Well, make that photos of one kid (the one tho is most always attached to my hip), because the two bigger ones were off romping with their friends and we only ended up with a few photos, all of the backs of their heads.

Here is our only picture of Ben from the whole afternoon. It was Free Slurpee Day at 7-11 and he was thrilled to be able to double-fist the Slurpee action:

"Mom and Dad, I think it's really cute that you think you can get a photo of the two of you, all dolled up for the wedding, but I will have none of that!"

"The camera comes out, and I start charming!"

"Hey, I know the lady behind that lens!"

"Give us kisses"

One final lovely evening shot of our beautiful little girl.


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