Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Holiday Memoir (i.e. Annual Brag) 2015

Merry Christmas! Season’s greetings! Joyous Festivus for the rest-of…. well you get the idea.

Before you get too far into this thing, I'll mention if you're just here for the kid's quoteables, you can find them here and here. (Ok, now back to our regularly scheduled post). 

2015 has been an interesting year. Winter is really party time for us – it seems like once we’ve finished giving thanks we move straight in to Birthday Mode. Zoë’s birthday in early December, Christmas, and then Holden and Danny celebrate a year older the beginning of February.

So last winter is basically a white blur – that could also be because we spent more time than ever up at Snowbasin – skiing and eating really expensive French fries (we liked the fries so much we’ve got season’s passes for 2016).

Last January the kids also started ice-skating lessons. It’s the ONLY activity we’ve put Z in (besides school) that she actually has stuck with and enjoyed. Soccer and t-ball mostly ended in frustration and tears (for me and Zoë.)

Once the birthday rush was over, I had a mid-life-crisis of sorts where my brain completely lost its ability to function properly and I volunteered to plan my 20-year high school reunion. So basically, most of 2015 was spent planning a party for people I haven’t seen in years, but had some odd desire to reconnect with two decades later. (It turned out to be a blast, just in case you were wondering – but glad it’s over).

We settled into our new house in Holladay and enjoyed having close neighborhood friends the kids can play with.

Holden (almost 7) and Zoë (who turned 4 on December 7th) are both in school full time. Holden is five full days a week, and Z is attending four days a week. I upped my Public Relations and Communications consulting hours to help offset the cost of private schooling… and was a little nervous about a full-day pre-school. But I should’ve known better. Zoë has loved going to school since she was two years old. She’s thriving, and we’re thrilled.

Both kids are also learning a little Spanish at school – so at least someone in our family will be able to speak the language of our heritage (ok genetics. My biological grandmother is a native from Central Mexico, as you can almost tell from my kids.)

Holden has landed himself in a class with a teacher that is especially interested in Science and hands-on projects… in addition to math, science, art, dance, geography and practical life, he’s also learning German. It’s his favorite language….just ask him.

Both kids are ‘taking’ piano lessons. We try to have the teacher come in twice a week because I refuse to practice with them… or make them practice (they’re barely four and six!) Besides, I’m not trying to raise virtuosos – just kids with a little music theory and a background where they can jam at a jazz club someday, serenade a significant other if need-be, or accompany a few hymns at church.

Holden caught the coding bug this year. We got all excited about the international “Hour of Code” initiative ( and after seeing the possibilities at Neumont University (where I spend most of my public relations consulting efforts), Holden says his number one focus is learning computer programming “so I can make my own video game and learn robotics.” I’m pretty sure when I was six my #1 goal was figuring out how many different shades of pink I could get into my bedroom – but to each their own.

Holden's other passion is his new love for sewing … he’s made a couple of “ugly dolls” (one of him and one for Z’s birthday present); and most recently created an orange demon with black buttons for nipples. His teachers say he’s super creative – which I'm sure is sincere, and is also code for “doesn’t love to use patterns.”

He also enjoyed playing coach-pitch baseball this Fall – so he’ll probably play in the majors in a couple of years. #sogifted #almostcancatchtheball

Zoë’s biggest news is that she invented a new superhero called “Pink Cake Girl.” We don’t know a lot about her, except that she saves the day, has to wear gloves because she has lava hands and she has pink hair… and sometimes a cape…and sometimes a mask…and sometimes is a villain. She’s very free-form.

Another one of Z’s passions is fashion. I started a hashtag on Instagram #stylebyZoë because she’s been really interested in picking out her own clothes and dressing herself lately. #somanyshadesofpink #somanypatterns

We remain active participants in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I say that with an understanding that so many of the friends we send Holiday cards to are not members of the LDS faith (and admittedly it's been an interesting year in Mormondom to say the least). Danny and I are doing our best to teach our children the golden rule. We try to focus on the “fruits of the Spirit”--peace and patience and tolerance. And when we come in contact with a dogma or procedure that seems like it doesn’t quite fit into that vein, we do our best to help our children understand the higher law of Love and focus on what’s working.

So within our Faith, the real key component is our family unit as a focus -- and from that starting point, being a collective force for good on this planet. We’re not perfect, but I think our hearts are in the right place – and we’re trying.

I really love that Danny and I are growing closer in a different way. While I reflect fondly on our time as newlyweds (the giddy joy and wonder that comes with the newness of just being married to your best friend)  I am grateful for the transformation in our marriage that has made us so much stronger. I’m so thankful we’ve made “us” a priority. While we try to do weekly date-nights, our real commitment to one another has been a get-away a quarter. Whether for a night or a few, we’ve taken trips to Vegas, Park City, New Orleans and just downtown Salt Lake. It’s been so great to date without a curfew again. 

Danny is the most caring and tender husband and father. Since he finished his masters last year, we’ve all been trying to figure out what to do with all the extra time on our hands. Wait, what? Unfortunately we all know that life rarely works that way – the time seems to fill itself. But we’re grateful he’s home early most evenings and is also a part of our morning routine. We’ll celebrate 10 years of marriage in August; and I’m looking forward to seeing what this next decade holds for us together.

We hope you and yours are doing well. We are thankful for friendship – those close to us and those we keep in our hearts (i.e. on Instagram and Facebook).

Loves –
Sabrena Suite-Mangum (for)
Daniel “Danny” Mangum
Holden Daniel Mangum
Zoë Suite Mangum

Monday, December 7, 2015

Ode to ZoëBug: Four Today!

Usually I put together my kid's tributes by visiting their birth stories. And for me, Z's is a story of miracles and redemption all wrapped into one glorious package.

But I started penning this tribute to Z early Sunday't-sleep early. It had been a crazy fun Saturday. We kicked off celebrating Z's birthday with a party for her and her school girlfriends at SoCupcake. Then we headed downtown for dinner, the lights and an overnight at Little America (because The Grand was more than double the price tag for one night and Z asked for "the chocolate fountain place" for her birthday dinner, which is Zoë-speak for 'brunch at the Grand.')

The night was pretty perfect... Meaning that nothing really went according to plan, but overall we had a great time -- a big part due to Bryan the Bike-Cab peddling our 400-plus pound family around town. 

He waited at the gates of Temple Square as we popped in for a quick peak at the nativity when it magically started right as we got there. I told Z she could nestle her way to the front, just ahead of the two adults in front of me... I bent down close to her ear and pointed out the Shepards, then stood up and watched for just a moment when I looked down and she was gone. 

I turned back expecting to find her by Danny -- she wasn't there. And then the panic hit me.

"I've lost Zoë," I tell him with a sense of urgency that bordered on frenzy. We split directions down the narrow walk-way. And the two minutes it took to find her were the longest of my life -- where your head starts talking crazy what-if's. 

Somehow she had just missed us in the crowd of adults in parkas, and wandered back towards where we had come from. 

I think that very real feeling of thinking even for a split-second I had lost her, is what is keeping me from settling into sleep this morning... So I figured I might as well start her annual update. 

So, in that light, this is for you Zoë. You're irreplaceable... 

To our Zoë-Bug: 

I like how when two people are lying down next to each other in bed, you'll nestle right on top of them -- push in and then say: "You're squishing me guys!"

In fact, you say a lot of hilarious things now that you're talking. 

Things you love:
Juice -- any kind. From crappy Capri Sun to fresh pressed carrot-apple-beet juice with ginger, you LOVE juice. 

Painting -- you'll paint on anything: paper, pumpkins, sea shells. We go through a lot of water colors. 

School -- I was a little apprehensive about how four full days of school would work out for a three year old. But you love it, and are thriving...the biggest problem is that they get you during your best parts of the day. Saturday night, as you were laying in bed happily singing the names of the continents, I knew we had you in the right place.... "and don't forget Oceania." 

You created a superhero alter-ego called "Pink Cake Girl." She saves the day, and "has to wear 'globves' because she has lava hands. It makes sense, last year for your third birthday I wrote about how you don't talk much but when you do, it's usually to say "Tastes like pink cake!

So "Pink Cake Girl" -- sometimes she has a crown and a purse.
Sometimes she wears a cape. 
Sometimes she wears black running shoes. 
Sometimes she's a villain.

But I think what I like most about PCG -- besides that you made her up, is how she's constantly adapting. 

Your favorite food is fruit. You once consumed a Costco sized container of blueberries in a single day. 

You like the idea of doughnuts more than actually consuming them. 

Sometimes when I ask you if you want help putting on your shoes, or clearing your plate you respond: "You do the honors." 

You want a younger sibling -- a baby. (Sorry, not happening). 

You've been sleeping in your own bed for a couple of years, but recently have decided you love "sleeping with Ho-den." And there are more nights than not that you still join us in the family bed, although usually it's closer to 6am for snuggles. 

You love cooking and baking and would eat pancakes daily if given the option. 

When you grow up you want to be a pumpkin. 

You have the coolest evil laugh I've ever heard from a child, and you've been doing it since you would laugh uncontrollably as a baby. 

You love to dance, but not in classes... more in our living room. 

You take after your Grandpa TOM and would "watch shows" for hours on end if given the option. But thankfully, you like being read to just as much. 

Playing on teams is not your thing right fact, any sort of specific instructional classes outside of school (and your ice skating lessons) you're just not interested in. I think it's a combination of already getting dance, music, art and PE during the school week... and you're at Elizabeth Academy 28 hours a week as it is. So we'll cut you some slack for not wanting to kick a ball around with friends... you need more time for free-play. I get it.

I love hear you play-pretend. From cooking, to superheroes, doctor, mom in charge, astronaut or even when you pretend to work on a computer composing letters or taking important conference calls on your phone... the world is your oyster my dear.

You love washing things. I'll give you a spray bottle with some soap and a sponge and you're a girl on a mission. 

You're addicted to pink -- and that's ok. (Shhh, it was my favorite color when I was younger too).

This year, you finally stopped nursing... That's right, somewhere at 3
1/2 (ok 3.75?) you finally stopped trying to find mommies milk -- even though the store house had been dry for months. When you were born, I basically made a pact with God: help me nurse this baby and I'll let her self wean. So that was that. 

There's plenty more to add. But for now Zoë, please know we love how you spice up our family. Happy Birthday Pink Cake Girl -- indeed, you save the day! 

****PS.  I am having serious formatting issues on Blogger (does anyone even use this format anymore?) But life's too short for me to waste time figuring it out... I mean I already spent 5 minutes and that's more than I'd like to spend. :) 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Z's 2015 Quoteables

My kids don’t spend much time or energy talking before they’re three, but once they start there’s plenty that cracks us up. With Zoë – her loudest language is really her style of dress…never less than three shades of pink when she’s styling herself and at least two or three pattern choices. Still, she’s had a few quotables that are approaching, if not rival, and Holdenism we’ve been blessed to hear.

"I am PinkCake Girl - I save da day."

Looking through the (ugh) princess book she checked out of the library, she says: "Mom, when I
drowe up I'n going to wread Rwiddle Mermaid."

Me: "It's a pretty anti-feminist piece Zoë. A girl gives up her voice for a pair of legs for a man she's never actually met and falls in love with him because he's good looking."

Holden: "And she left a pretty good life to do it."

Me: "Exactly!"

Z: "But Mooooom, when I grow up I want to."

Me (caving): "OK, but just make sure you've read the 'Feminine Mystique' first. Deal?"

Z: "O-tay! Deal!"
And then we shook on it.

Quotes of the night from Zoë and we've only been at the hockey game for 5 minutes:
"Mom when I grow bigger I'm going to hockey."
Followed shortly after with "that's gotta hurt!"

“You do the honors.” Basically anytime she doesn’t want to put anything away or put on her own socks or shoes.

"Mom, I really want to get into geometry."

After hearing her bed will need to be made AND her teeth brushed before she can watch Netflix: “I’m doomed!”

Thursday, December 3, 2015

2015 Holdenism Highlights: As remembered primarily through facebook

 Holiday Holdenism:
"Mom, I believe in Santa," he says, as we're listening to Christmas music on the way to school.
"Me too," I say. "But I'm not sure about the whole flying-reindeer-thing."
"Yeah, I think it's chickens," he says, and then gives it a little more thought "....well, some type of bird. It would need to be an animal that flies."

Holdensim taste test results:
He says, "Kombucha is like the most horrible-ist thing ever."

"Mom, I want to learn about Raphael."
When he asked Danny about Raphael, Danny responded with an answer about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. “No, the artist Dad.”

In honor of Black History  -- we tried to spend some time talking about Dr. King and Civil Rights at home.
"Mom, Jesus was a Civil Rights guy... the best one."
On another occasion we talked about how there is still plenty of work to do: we need to set an example of peace, love and tolerance for others... and that somehow segued to him responding:
"But Heavenly Father never uses his force field on me."

On a recent fieldtrip to the Museum of Natural History at lunch, Holden says to one of our friends who is chaperoning: "My mom and I are very concerned about Donald Trump becoming president."

Yesterday's Holdensim (6 years old, lest we forget):
Me, talking to (non-FBee) Lindsay Morgan while Holden's in the room: 
"Well, if I learned anything from my dream it's that I need to call Jane Marshall."
Holden: "Mom, you should call... wait, what was that Civil Rights leader?"
Me -- just looking perplexed.
Holden: "The black guy."
Me (with furrowed inquisitive brow): "Um, Martin Luther King?"
Holden: "Yeah! you should call him."
Me & Lindsay: "Why?"
Holden: "Because he had a Dream too!"

My Mom asks, “So Holden, what's your favorite thing to study in school?”
Holden: “That's easy--zoology! Oh, and botany.”

Two for One Holdenisms:
First, his conversation with Zoë...she had been singing songs of her own creation.
H: "So Zoë, what are you going to be when you grow up?"
Z: "Um, I will make Princesses."
H: "What? You're not going to be an Opera singer? But you are the best singer! Way better than I was at your age."

And second, less than five minutes later he tells me:
"Mom, when I grow up, I don't want to be a monster hunter. They just want to live in their natural habitat."
"I don't think monsters are real, Holden."
"Sasquatch is," he says emphatically.
"Good point."

And after his sister invents a new “YogaNinja” character, Holden tells us she says:

“I will Namaste in your face.”