Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve party prep - thumbprint cookies on the way
Some time in the last month or so I found a page I'd written with about 50 ideas of "Things I could do every day in 2015" Since I remembered writing these in more of a brainstorming way than a resolution way, I didn't feel too bad that I hadn't done many of them.

And this is where I was going to make a list of all the ones I actually did do every day, but then I realized that there were only about three.

So, instead: how about some of those things I worked on this year:

- read scriptures on my own (Book of Mormon)
- walk
- write for my blog
- make good dinners
- pre-school time with Owen
- clean the kitchen before bed
- bed by 9:30 (ish)
- family prayer and scriptures
- brush kids teeth (or remind to brush/floss)

Probably the most successful here were writing on my blog (because I made it a habit every day while Porter napped) and family prayer and scripture study (because Jordan took charge and helped us remember every night before the kids went to bed).

And even though I know all of my goals will likely be just the same as every other year since I was about sixteen... I'm excited for a new year and a good chance to write those goals all down again. :)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

and really getting it right / ice cream to the rescue :)

As happy as I have been about helping Porter get through his latest bedtime struggles, Jordan has really earned the help-Porter-sleep award most recently. My plan helped Porter figure out how to feel safe and fall asleep at bedtime again, but Jordan has helped Porter SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT four times in the last week! (far surpassing his lifetime record, hooray for Porter!) And what was Jordan's ingenious plan that has given us the best sleep we've had in the last 2 1/2 years?

"Porter, if you can sleep all the night without waking up, then in the morning, you can have ice cream!!"

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

getting it right

Near the end of November, we were starting to feel a little better about Porter + sleep.  We'd transitioned him back to sleeping in his own room all night with just a few wake ups where we could talk him back to sleep through the monitor. Not awesome, but still getting better. And he really was amazing at naps and at going to sleep at night happily as can be.

We went to Washington and took his sleeping tent along,  and he did just fine there too.

But the night we returned home, Porter was suddenly completely panicked about going to bed.  We sat at the edge of his tent holding/hugging/wrestling a desperate little boy for  an hour or two and then the same thing happened at the next day's naptime/night time.

And for once, we figured out the right thing to do!

We went back to the old sleep lady shuffle routine that helped him make some improvement when he was waking up hourly at 1-year-old...  We sat right next to his bed and talked to him and let him know we were there and he was safe. And after a few naps/nights of that, I found a chair to sit in just a foot away or so. Then a little further and a little further, out to the doorway, then the hall. Then we'd close the door a bit more and bit more. (We also went back to bringing him in to sleep in our room when we went to bed so we wouldn't fall apart from being up all night as he worked through this. And after he started to calm down a bit more, he was okay staying in his tent all night.)

It's been about a month and now there's just a quick "sit with me?" before I go, and then I can say goodnight and close the door and sit in the chair in another room for a few minutes and he falls right to sleep. 

This is just a little thing, but for all of the times when I haven't known what to do, or I've tried so many different things... and for all of the sad memories of littler Porter crying himself to sleep that break my heart... It has just been so wonderful for once to know just what he needed and have the patience to do it and then to see it really work. I'm just so grateful for this one chance of getting it right!

Monday, December 28, 2015

a happy Christmas

An excited Porter "I'm Joseph!" and a beautiful Ellie Mary taking her job very seriously :)

We had a happy little Christmas with just our own little family this year. We made a Brazilian Christmas Eve feast -- with all of us  amazingly working in the kitchen together through the afternoon. The kids acted out the nativity along with some Christmas songs in between with a program that Jordan directed.

Christmas morning was stockings and breakfast and opening presents (with Porter as the delivery person). Then naps and a nice afternoon resting and playing and building and trying out all the fun new Christmas things.

And hooray for another full week of Christmas break too!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas (and some news!!)

image from NYCtaughtme (years ago)

I sure love this blog where I can write down all of our little family happenings to remember and share with people I love.

Since we never got to Christmas cards this year, here's our little newsletter (plus our big news for next year!)

The Brough Family in 2015

Jordan is enjoying work as principal engineer at Bonobos from his great little office in the backyard. He’s looking forward to getting into some snowy outdoor adventures while he waits to get back to running/biking/unicycling in the spring. He’s working with the young men and enjoying the new calling. Our family visited Brazil this summer and Jordan loved the chance to really use his Portuguese again. 

I (Debbie) am grateful to be getting better sleep these days (though not for long with a new baby coming in the summer!) This year I’ve loved teaching weekly piano lessons to Ellie and Landon, doing preschool time with Owen each afternoon, talking to Porter, volunteering in the kids classes at school, and doing music time in primary.

Landon (4th grade) is becoming a great Portuguese speaker through  the immersion program at school.  He played soccer through the spring, summer and fall. He loves to play with friends and loves to read.  He and Jordan have both loved waking up early together for scripture study and outside adventures before wok and school. 

Ellie (1st grade) just started the Portuguese immersion program this year. Although it took some time to get used to a full day, she’s loving school and her friends and teachers there. Ellie loves to make projects of all sorts. She loves to build and draw, make homework for Owen, write stories and books, and plan activities and games. 

Owen (4 years old) is a great big brother to Porter while the bigger kids are off to school. He loves to do preschool time with Mom (though he sometimes wishes for a real preschool :) and is excited about getting ready to learn to read. Owen loves to laugh and play and run, and he is an amazing basketball dribbler. 

Porter (2 1/2) is just so fun to talk to and listen to. He loves to tell us all about the things that are happening and the important things that he remembers. Porter loves to read books, rest with Mom, help cook from up on the counter, and run and play with his big brothers and sister. 

We're so grateful for all of our dear family and good friends and for this wonderful season to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Have a wonderful Christmas!

The amazing gingerbread temple on our porch

As part of our ward Christmas party, we had a silent auction of gingerbread houses with a temple theme. Our friend John Brandley made this amazing temple, and with a high bid from his son ended up winning the auction. Landon had told him how awesome the temple was and John had said, 'go ahead, take it home!' We mostly thought he was joking (though we should have known better) until he stopped by a few days later ready to bring it over if we could find a spot. With all the tempting little treats, we decided to set it out front (hopefully away from any 2 year old fingers).  It has been such a beautiful fun display to see out our front window!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

a slow morning / singing with my sweetheart

Porter had a harder night last night (with many worried wake ups 'someone is coming to get me!') so Jordan and I both woke up extra tired this morning. I sat in bed for a long time trying to plan the day with happy holiday festivities to get me out of my tired morning grumpiness, but finally I got up without any plans determined because Porter and I were both just getting pretty hungry.  We had a slow morning with the kids all wonderfully playing a great fun game together, checking in every once in a while to ask for a job they could do to earn some play money tokens or to turn in their tokens to buy a toy or blanket.

And then Jordan got his guitar out, and tuned mine too, and the two of us  played and sang Christmas songs together!

Once our fingers were sufficiently sore, we were both ready for a great day. Jordan set out with the kids in search of a great Chess set with no missing pieces. I decided to finally make some stockings that I've imagined since Landon was about 2 and headed to Joanns for fabric. (Once I made it there, the fabric I had in mind wasn't quite what I remembered so I found something else still cute) And now I'm off to sew together a few stockings and we'll see what else the day brings :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

snow fun

Jordan and Landon and Owen all went for a great snow shoeing adventure this morning. We were short on snow shoes, and this time Ellie and I were happy to stay behind in our warm and cozy house :) (Ellie's friend also invited her to go sledding, but she was just having so much playing in the blanket forts with Porter she couldn't stand to leave.)

After the blanket forts, the three of us worked together and made my favorite blueberry muffins which came out of the oven just as the boys returned from their snowy adventure in Green Canyon (from Owen, "It was so awesome!!") Landon had great descriptions of their travels over the hills from the bulldozer and up the trail and then into the trees where I threw my pole and Owen and I had to dig through all the branches and the trees...

We've had more and more and more snow and Jordan and Landon (with a little help from little Porter :) have been such great hard workers shoveling for us!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Break

We have been super excited about Christmas break. The kids are out of school and Jordan is taking off the next two weeks and we have no major plans except to spend time together and enjoy our family and this happy season. Work has been a bit crazy for Jordan the past few weeks, so he is feeling especially grateful for a little break. We made a great big poster with ideas of things to do and it included lots of movie parties and playing and fun :)

Saturday had movie time and Christmas pancakes by Jordan and playing games/sledding with the Broughs. Sunday the kids sang for the Christmas program in Sacrament Meeting (and I just loved the boys' I heard the Bells on Christmas Day!) and home teachers and tithing settlement and a hangout with Grammie and Grandpa and April.  This morning was a get jobs done + haircuts for everyone morning (with a visit from cousin Ethan too).  And now Jordan and the kids are off to finish Christmas shopping while I wrap presents at home.

There has certainly been a  lot more chaos and craziness, but we're hoping we can enjoy/embrace/ignore the more crazy parts and make this such a happy little Christmas break all together.


Landon has been a great snow shoveling helper with all of our snow this week. Our home teachers came yesterday, and ended their visit with "Is there anything we can do for you?" One had mentioned heading home to shovel before company arrived,  so Landon quickly answered, "Could I come and help you shovel your driveway?" With no objections, Landon quickly grabbed his warm gear, went off to serve, and came home a happy and proud boy!

Friday, December 18, 2015

from Ellie

We had a family movie party last night and watched a new Peter Pan movie (Pan). Not too far in, I asked Jordan if he thought it would be okay for the kids or if it was going to be too scary.  Ellie answered for him, "We can just hold on to each other and then we'll be okay! Then we'll feel better!"

the great purse clean out

image here
(My bags are not nearly so fancy, but a pretty picture here was much better
than the goldfish crumb covered pile covering my kitchen table...)
This morning I tackled the much needed job of cleaning out all of my bags -- purses, diaper bags, sunday bag, primary bag... all of them. I dumped them all out to get started, and our kitchen table was completely covered and overflowing to the ground below. Besides a grocery bag full of trash and the same amount for recycling plus lots of other odds and ends, here were some of the more interesting contents:

9 books (I Spy, Real Moms, the Cheerios playbook, True to the Faith, Jingle Bells...)
a handful of coins from Brazil (and a ziplock full of quarters and nickels and dimes and pennies waiting to be exchanged for bills)
2 notebooks and 9 of my favorite pens (plus several others)
a spare piece of our new (in the Spring) curtain fabric
11 plastic animals + 1 beanie baby fox
a handful of Dove chocolates
3 packages of wipes
Scissors, hole punch, sticky notes, letter opener... (pretty much any office supply you can think of)
5 sharpies
6 hotwheels
2 hair bows
2 bobby pins (only 2?!)
3 tupperware lids (just the lids?)
our plan of salvation puzzle with just one piece left (where are the others?)
a dentist kit with toothbrush/toothpaste/floss samples
2 cafe rio gift cards (missing since last Christmas!)
a spare pare of tights
6 granola bars and 2 fruit leathers

Noticeably absent from any of the bags: my wallet, checkbook, phone, sunglasses... pretty much anything I'd really hope to find there :)

And, a funny purse story for you

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Light of the World

from Christmas devotional here
Last night we watched the kids in their school Christmas concert. The 4th and 5th graders ended with a song all about light, and I got teary as I watched remembering a similar (maybe a little cheesy) song I'd learned and performed in a similar way when I was about Landon's age.  I just felt so touched at these precious children and their sweet message of spreading light. As I was reading my scriptures later in the evening, I read about how the Savior brought light to the world and was reminded of Elder Bednar's Christmas talk (above). Today, I gave a visiting teaching message about the Savior's compassion and the tender way he suffered for the sorrow of those he loved, like Mary and Martha. I know I have felt that compassion myself. So with all of these little things, I just feel so grateful for the Savior and for the light and goodness in the world and in my life because of Him.

a little laundry story

Our own Winter Wonderland this week! (unrelated, but so beautiful!)

I spent a few days this week catching up on laundry. I hadn't realized I'd gotten so behind until I had these two conversations with Owen:

The kids opened their twelve days of Christmas present from Grandma and Grandpa and found new pajamas. Owen was the most excited, and I soon found out why "Mom! This is so perfect! I didn't have any clean pajamas left in my drawer, but now I have these to wear!"

The next day, Owen still had his new jammie pants on at lunch time. I assumed he just liked them so much that he wanted to have a pajama day. (Porter had been desperate to wear his new jammies and put them on the morning we opened them to wear all day) When I asked Owen something like 'did you decide to have a pajama day like Porter did?' He answered a little distressed, "I had to! I didn't have any play clothes pants in my drawer!"

So now a few days and several loads of laundry later, the kids' drawers are all nicely filled with fresh clean clothes again!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Play Dough

Over the weekend I made play dough for the first time.  Landon had asked for it (you know when you make bread and there's the dough... could we just make some of that and roll it out and make shapes and then roll it out again and again...?)  and we had an hour or so while Jordan was gone, so we just did it! :) Landon and Ellie and Owen all sat at the counter with all of our Christmas cookie cutters and played for at least an hour and had such a fun time. (I'd never made this because I thought it would be too much work/too messy/etc. but it took about 5 minutes and then another 5 minutes to clean up at the end - very worth it!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


When we went to Boston years ago (with 3 year old Landon and baby Ellie), we stopped in at Mike's Pastry (because we heard that's just what you do). What I remember most was the great set up they had with bakers twine hanging down from the ceiling to help them package up your treat purchases super quickly (because there were a lot of people waiting!) And I remember that it was a bit overwhelming to try to choose between such a variety of delicious looking sweets.

We also stopped into a tiny little bakery that sold just pizzelles -- flat waffle type cookies -- in all sorts of flavors. And those were a hit!

Exploring that beautiful city, and walking through the Alcott home with it's beautiful wood furniture still beautiful 150 years later... I just remember wanting to bring home some bit of the charm and class of that trip with me :)

I don't know how well I did that, but I did bring pizzelles home, and even got myself a press for my birthday that year.  And then when Christmas came, I had the perfect little treat in mind for our sweet Provo neighbors.

And now this is just one of my favorite Christmas time traditions. Last year, I went ahead and got a second press to help with the process. And this year, I finally let the kids help. These two boys were happy measurers and mixers and Owen was the designated timer man. Ellie helped with another batch, and Landon even got to make a batch (mostly) on his own. And then all these kiddos cheerfully delivered our little packages.  (With the reward of little bites to munch on in between)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Reading Lately

On our flight to Seattle, Jordan played warlords with Landon while taking care of Porter, and Ellie and Owen were happily playing together (and carefully reviewing the emergency safety pamphlet) so I even got to sit back and read a book - such a luxury! I was so wrapped up in Ruby Holler that when they announced we were nearing our destination, it took me a minute to remember where we were really arriving!

The Calder Game - This series is kind of silly, but I still always enjoy the stories when I read them.

Surprised by Motherhood - I've read this over the last several months in bits and pieces. My favorite part was her story of working to remember how much she loved her wild little boy.

El Deafo - A comic book style story about a girl who is deaf. This was a book from Landon that he read and reread.

#1 Ladies Detective Agency - We read this for book group. There were some interesting little mysteries solved, but one that was so terrible that I worried all through the book about what awful outcome was coming. In the end it all turned out okay, but I had a hard time enjoying the book because I just wasn't sure what might come!

Gifted Hands - Someone shared a bit of a story in conference years ago about Ben Carson and his transition from bottom of the class to top neuroseurgeon. I enjoyed this a lot. (And oh! what crazy things doctors can do to try to fix our brains!)

Calpurnia Tate - This wasn't quite as great as the first, but still a fun quick little story.

In This Together - I loved this memoir by Ann Romney. I like the Romneys a lot so it was just fun to see a bit about what regular life is like. Also, it was just really neat to see the progress and improvement she'd been through from her diagnosis and the difficult times following to a much more manageable life. It was also a good reminder to just take care of myself and accept what I can and can't do.

The River - I have many books on my bookshelves from when I was a teacher that I haven't read in years and years. This is just a fun little adventure (the sequel to Hatchet)

Love Stargirl - Stargirl was one of my favorite books in college. I read it and reread it and then on  road trip with my siblings to California, I read it to them too! Sarah had this sequel and it was a fun light Thanksgiving break read.

Ruby Holler - I loved this. Sharon Creech is just one of my favorite authors and I've liked almost everything I've read from her. Landon brought this home from his school library and I borrowed it for our trip. I just wished it could have gone on and on though because I so much wanted to find out what would happen next for all of these characters I quickly learned to love!

I am Malala - I read the youth version of this because I was worried it might be disturbing (it wasn't, but it was definitely written for a younger audience.) Still, I felt like after reading this I had such a better  understanding on the impact on daily life from these problems than any news articles I might have read.

The View from Saturday - I bought a used paperback copy of this at a bookstore in Washington, and as I read it, each time I turned a page it would slip out of it's binding. By the time I finished I had a cover full of lose pages :) A fun little story, but I didn't take the effort to glue it all back together again.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Willow Park Zoo gift shop

Last year around Christmas time I heard about the new gift shop at Logan's Willow Park Zoo. They were looking for crafters and artists and makers, and Jordan was in New York so it was a perfect time for me to spend my evenings making cute little things to send off to the shop. (Like the little roll a snowman kits above). Once more in the Spring (probably while Jordan was in Canada/Washington :) I spent another week or so sewing and making again. (I made catapult kits, paper garlands, pendant banners, tote bags, beanbags, felt garlands, bowties...) So each quarter this year, I've gotten a tiny little check for whichever items have sold.

The most fun part has been on the bottom of each check, they've included a list of all the things people have purchased. And I just love thinking of all these little things I've made being used and enjoyed! Who picked out the pink flamingo banner, and did they hang it above their little girl's crib like I'd imagined? Did a grandma spot the catapult kits and know here grandsons would love shooting marshmallows at each other?  Was another Mom as excited as me about a new pair of cute bike ankle straps?

The shop is closed now for the winter, but hopefully in the Spring I'll take some time to put together a few more things, because it's just so fun to get to share!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

ice cream boy

We've had some vanilla ice cream left over in the freezer for the past month or so from an apple pie dessert night.  When it was first discovered, I found Porter on the kitchen floor holding the container carefully on his lap and happily scooping out fingers full of ice cream. And with just complete excitement, he told me "I'm eating the ice cream!" I realized a few days later that my response wasn't totally clear when I found Porter in his same spot, but with a spoon this time, just enjoying his treat and happy to tell me  "I'm eating the ice cream with a  spoon!"

Since then, every few days, Porter will walk through the kitchen and open the freezer and tell me matter of factly "It's not ice cream time" or every once in awhile, "I'm looking at the ice cream with mine eyes!"

I told Jordan about it and he decided to save Porter from the temptation by moving the ice cream to our basement freezer  (though I'm not sure what Porter will do when he finds his favorite treat just to look at is gone!)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Bellevue Botanical Garden Christmas Lights

image here
A fun event while we were in Washington was a trip to the Botanical Garden to see their Christmas light display. I was anticipating a few cute little snowman/santa scenes, so when we got there and saw so many creative Botanical Garden style displays, I was so happily surprised! I wished I knew more about flowers, because all of the plants and flowers that I could recognize were just so fun. A wall of wisteria growing in vines, sunflowers and rose bushes and poinsettias and snapdragons and lilacs... My favorite part  though was the Christmas light vegetable garden -- rows of corn, grape vines, tomatoes in cages, carrots popping up from the ground - so fun and creative!

(We arrived at the Garden and found that it was colder than we had planned for and raining. The kids took turns bundling up in the stroller and riding on Jordan's shoulders, and there might have been a few 'I want to go homes!'  But, Jordan brilliantly spotted the hot chocolate on our way out and after warming up and sharing some little treats, we managed to end the night with all the kids happy about the event. (A stop for dinner at Chick-fil-a on the way home didn't hurt either :)

Monday, December 7, 2015

A few Sunday happenings

last week's Christmas decoration explosion

Yesterday we came home from church and I was just super tired. Instead of taking a nap though like I should have, I just curled up on the couch... and then I was just kind of stuck for the afternoon! Thankfully, Jordan was energetic and he helped make a happy afternoon of Christmas singing and tree decorating and cookies & milk. (And he finally sent me out the door for a walk which saved the day too!)

I thought I'd try working on our Christams pizzelles during the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. My computer was set up in the kitchen while I worked and Jordan had all the kids playing/watching in the front room. I couldn't help but laugh as the first speaker began talking all about the magic of childhood and the joy of Christmas for children and the wonderful sweetness of children at Christmastime... while I also heard from the front room the not-so-joyous squeals and screams and cries and shouts of Porter and Owen having some minor but noisy argument!

 A few of the boys in Senior primary love "I heard the bells on Christmas Day" (At least one of the verses is always asked for when they have a chance for favorite songs). So I asked if they'd like to sing it for the Christmas program in a few weeks. Some of the boys were happy to sit out, but a few of them stood up and sang with such enthusiasm and energy that it was just a highlight of my day.  (Though a couple of them may have still been grinning ear to ear as they joyfully sang "and in despair I bowed my head... something to talk about before Sacrament meeting maybe :)

Friday, December 4, 2015

A Happy Birthday

I got to celebrate my birthday while we were in Washington for Thanksgiving, and it was a sweet happy day. I woke up to a banner and balloons from Sarah (such a fun surprise!) We all went into Seattle and visited the Children's Museum there. (Except Jordan - it was Black Friday and that morning Bonobos' site was having some major trouble, so Jordan was working away to get everything up and running again!)

A quick thing -- On the way to the museum from the parking lot, we passed a really cool playground and the kids were anxious to go play. We told them we could come back after the museum. So the kids had a great time at the museum exploring and building and playing. But the highlight of the day that they told everyone about was the few minutes we stopped at the playground on the way home! :)

That evening, Sarah had a birthday party all planned and we had fun playing minute-to-win-it games (Like the cup stacking above, which provided a few more hours of entertainment in the following days), opening presents, and eating funfetti birthday cake with rainbow chip frosting! (Thanks Kathie!)

It was just a happy day and I felt so grateful for everyone taking time to do all these special little things for me!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Getting Back

We had a great Thanksgiving time in Washington at Drew and Sarah's house with Nathan and Kathie and Winslow too. (more later, maybe :)

The last two days since we've been home, I've been excited about packing up all of our Fall things, emptying the suitcases and washing all the laundry (well, maybe not excited about that part), getting back to routines,  and most of all sprucing up our house with our favorite Christmas things!

But... Porter has pretty much just wanted to rest a binky Mommy. We're not sure what is up, he doesn't seem sick at all, but we've had two days of mostly holding and cuddling. And our little boy who would run happily to his tent for nap time and bedtime is suddenly panicked about sleeping and just wants mom to stay here!

The kids all helped get tidied up last night and put our suitcase things away, so they got to get out a few Christmas boxes while I ran to the store to restock our fridge. And I came home to a definite Christmas explosion in our front room :) With 3 kids happily playing with the Christmas toys and Owen and Jordan cozily reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

So, we may have a few more days of craziness and big Christmas tupperware storage bins all around while we figure things out with Porter, but hooray for the beginning of this wonderful season!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

For Thanksgiving Time (a little late)

image here
A few months ago, I went to the temple with a specific question and prayer in my heart.  And all the time I was there, the thing that I kept thinking of again and again was my high school friends. Sweet, happy memories and an almost overwhelming gratitude for the wonderful people I got to spend those few years of my life with.

And even though it came in quite an unexpected way, the answer to my prayer was clear. You are not alone. In those memories that filled my mind, I felt so strongly the Lord letting me know You are not alone, and you have never been alone.

So these past few months, I've just felt so very grateful for all of the angels in my life. The wonderful friends and teachers and leaders and family and strangers who have been such a strength and help to me in every time of my life.

Service Scavenger Hunt

Our friends planned a super fun service scavenger hunt for last weekend. We met with a few other families and got our list of service options, then raced off to see how many projects we could complete before meeting back for lunch. Our family gathered supplies at home and stopped to write some cheerful driveway notes in sidewalk chalk at our friends' houses. Then we headed downtown toward the dollar store, watching for a home with lots of leaves to stop and rake. We found a great yard and quickly got to work. Our second bag was just about full, when Jordan realized his wedding ring had slipped off!

So, we spent the rest of our time searching and sifting and searching and raking and searching... The kids were taking turns keeping Porter happy in the van while we searched and in the process had enough things running that when we went to leave to borrow a metal detector, the battery was dead!

But, a friendly stranger stopped to help charge the van. And our friends used the last of their scavenger hunt time to help us sift through leaves handful by handful searching for that ring. The kids and I took a break for lunch while Jordan started the metal detector search.  And about an hour in (or less), he found his ring!  So our Saturday turned into a chance for us to be grateful for others kindness and help (and to be grateful for Jordan's ring not being lost forever!) And we're looking forward to trying again with another service scavenger hunt next November :)

library/stroller story

two tired kiddos in Brazil
A month ago, I checked out a video from the library for a car ride down to Provo. And then, as I always do with library movies, I forgot to return or renew it before the week ended, so I had a $1/day fine growing. By the time I realized, I knew it would be a decent fine, but I managed to stop by and drop it in the book drop. Still, every time I'd think of the library or make plans for story time, I'd just feel stressed about that silly fine and so I'd ignore it. So then I had a few more books also stretching past their deadline.

So finally last week I went to just return everything and take care of my fines, so I wouldn't feel so stressed about it anymore and we could get back to our regular library routines.

And, hooray! My fines were only $3.40. I think a sweet librarian had pity on me and didn't charge me for our late, late movie. And I was so grateful for the happy surprise and just to have it all taken care of.

Even better though, when we pulled up in front of the library, there was a Maclaren stroller out front, just like ours. And as I got out and looked closer I realized it looked just like ours. And then I started to just vaguely remember bringing Porter in to an activity the month before in the stroller.  I asked the librarian after I paid my fines, "There's a stroller out front, and I think it might be mine..." and she answered with "Oh! We wondered if anyone was ever going to come back for that!"

So hooray for patient librarians and a safe little town where our stroller could sit out for a month and still be waiting for us!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ellie's class today / dancing

cute Ellie, just because I can remember how cute her little dancing was at this age :)
Today when I went in to help in Ellie's class, I got there just in time for a little dance party. They all lined up and followed their teacher around the class, tapping and stepping and dancing along with Xuxa. And it was just the sweetest, happiest little time to get to be a part of! 

A few highlights: 

- I've been helping little groups in Ellie's English class, so I've finally gotten to know most of the kids. All the little smiles and waves as they came past my spot in the classroom just made me so happy. 

- Ellie was sending hugs my way from across the room, so I blew her a kiss as she passed. A minute later, another little boy came by and blew me a kiss too :)

And the funny little comments! 

- from the boy leading a little group, "Get ready for a wild ride!" 
- from a shoulder slumped boy, "I'm allergic to walking"
- a secret shared from one little girl, "I want to dance with Jimmy!"
- and from a little punkster, "This is the baddest Portuguese thing we've ever done."
- from the girl swinging her arms and skipping wildly, "This is so relaxing!"

What a fun bright part of my morning!

And a cute little Ellie dancer --

Monday, November 23, 2015

I was a great sleeper!

Porter woke up a few mornings ago and said first thing, "I was a great sleeper!" And he was! He'd woken a few times and cried for just a tiny bit before calming himself and going back to sleep. And the next night he slept all night long!

We've been working on getting Porter to sleep all through the night in his own room, so this was so super exciting. The last few nights (and last night especially) have been not so great. But at least there's hope!

I realized this last little while how much I have to be thankful for with Porter's sleep, even if he does still wake at night. He goes to bed for naps and bedtime so happily and willingly and falls asleep by himself without a bit of trouble. And he takes great naps every day after lunch. So hooray for those great things and for a few great nights too!

Friday, November 20, 2015

I wish I could read!

For preschool time lately we've been working on letter sounds and how sounds hook together to make words. I go back and forth about how much focus to put on reading kinds of things and how much on other types of projects. Owen has been excited about the idea of learning to read lately though, so that's what we've been doing.  This week we were doing activities about beginning sounds in words, and I was also trying to help Owen practice saying each sound in the words to see how the sounds all blend together. That part was kind of more than he was understanding, so I decided to set that aside for now and just focus on the individual sounds some more.  Then yesterday, we started the same kinds of activities but with middle (vowel) sounds. And suddenly he was sounding out and reading these words - it was so fun! He was super excited to see what he could do, and it was just fun for me to see this next little step start to click.

(We used this little worksheet all week. First Owen did the stamping activity that it was made for. Then he cut out all the words and pictures and played a matching game with them. Then we glued them all on another paper and played a bingo game with just the words. Then Owen wanted to play a game about just the letter sounds, so we cut all the words out again, separating the first letters and played a game  with those. Then we started over again with the middle sounds and we'll work/play with those for a few more days :)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The get out dance/ high chair mischief

We were finding  with mealtimes that if Porter was finished eating and we didn't notice in time, he would just throw his bowl/plate/dinner off his high chair and onto the floor. A few weeks ago, I was bending over next to his high chair picking something up when he decided he was done with his bowl full of chili and tossed it overboard - right on my head! Fortunately, it landed right side up, but then bounced off and splattered all across the floor/wall/etc. So we finally made it a priority to teach little Porter what he should do when he's finished eating. (Setting his bowl on the table and saying "Mommy, I'm done!")  As we started teaching him, we made a big celebration each time he followed our new pattern. So now for our end of meal time, instead of spilled oatmeal, etc. (though we still have that sometimes too) we have a plate set neatly on the table and sweet Porter saying "Mommy, I'm done --  Hip Hip Hooray!!"

I don't remember how or when it started, but at some point Porter started his get out dance. When he was ready to get out of the high chair, he'd stand up and dance singing "get owwwwt get owwwwt..." The kids think this is the funniest thing. "Porter, do the get out dance!" One night this week, we again had  all four children around the table at the end of dinner standing on their chairs dancing away singing  "get owwwwt, get owwwwt!"

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


thumbprint cookie partners

Something we have been working on this last month or so is finishing what we start around the house. (Or in other words, cleaning up after ourselves! Not that we're starting from scratch, but just that we all tend to get distracted and move on to the next thing before we've really finished cleaning up whatever we were working on.)  We were starting to get into the often overwhelmed with messiness stage, so it was time to try something.  And this has helped.  So far, it has mostly made a difference around mealtimes. The kids have learned to not just clear their places, but put their dishes right into the dishwasher. (And this one little step has probably made the biggest difference!) After dinner, we all stay in the kitchen until dinner is all cleaned up. There's more we can do here but I've been grateful for the little improvements!

A few other little things -

Last week Kathie and I made applesauce and the kitchen was a pretty sticky mess (with juicy apples combined with the morning's maple syrup snow cone left to melt at the kitchen table as well as some sticky spills from the night before...) And so I filled the sink with hot soapy water and scrubbed and mopped till it was sparkling clean again. And it was a big deal -- a big batch of applesauce and a clean kitchen all in one day! (It definitely helped to have Kathie's help and her company!)

For the past few months when I've gone grocery shopping, I've come home and prepped all the fresh fruits and veggies along with putting all the groceries away. (washing/chopping/etc.) And it has been so great to have those things more easily accessible and our fridge neater and tidier too.

But, a few months ago if I'd been given this suggestion I would have either brushed it off or felt totally discouraged because who has energy left to even put the groceries away after a grocery shopping trip? So I'm happy to have found something that works great for me now, and also very sure that it wasn't something I should have been doing all along. It's just nice since it works right now.

So I'm feeling grateful for these little things that make life smoother, and even more grateful for life being smooth enough to figure out and have energy to do these little things!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

on teaching (a few random thoughts)

This morning I was reading a news article about the current shortage in Special Education teachers (which seemed very much the same as I remember the situation being when I was teaching) and the pressure of all the paperwork, etc. The article wasn't anything thrilling, but the timing was perfect since I'd just dreamed about this last night --

I was teaching again and I went in to school one morning to find a small pile of student files: IEP's waiting to be done that I had overlooked. The familiar dread set in, And I thought in my dream something like "Maybe I can just tell the director that I will be a great teacher and show up every day and do my best to teach and help these students, but  she'll have to find someone else to handle the meetings and paperwork for me." (I have a feeling that maybe wouldn't have gone over so well in real life :)

I only taught for two years, and that was nearly ten years ago, so I think it's so funny that I'll still have dreams like these (full of such worry!) or the even more common scenario where my class is  filing in and taking their seats (or not) and I'm scrambling at the front of the room to pull together some kind of lesson at the (very!) last minute.

A few weeks ago, I had so much fun putting together some writing activities for some of the small groups in Ellie's class. And I remembered as I was doing it how I used to think that I might enjoy the lesson/activity preparations even more than the actual teaching. (Is that terrible?)  Once there was a whole group of students in the classroom in front of me, all of my best planned activities somehow didn't work out as perfectly as I'd imagined :)  And a few weeks in, I've found that my best little writing center ideas are fine, but definitely not working out in any perfect way!

I think all of that is why I love doing preschool time at home with my kids so much.  I get to be creative and think of simple little games and lessons, and they don't have to be fancy or perfect. I get to teach my favorite people in the world. And since I'm teaching just one child at a time, we can work at exactly what level they are on.  There is no paperwork, there are no meetings to schedule with other parents. No stress (I've never had preschool-time nightmares! ) If I forget to plan an activity or run out of time,  I can make something up in the few minutes before quiet time ends. And if my best planned activities don't seem to work, we can always switch to playing cars and try again tomorrow.

Monday, November 16, 2015

November so far

last November at our favorite rainbow campground spot
We had two quick visits from Kathie and Winslow for a few days and then April for a few days -- a fun filled week!

Pizza Rat...  (we have Landon and his friends from school to thank for this one!)
And primary songs for the primary program yesterday!

This weekend we rode bikes/jogged to Waffle Love for a fun try-lots-of-kinds-of-waffles lunch with April.

Our apples, at last! One more big batch of applesauce and a few more dehydrators full of extra crispy dried apples... and we decided we're ready to be done. Any apples still on the tree will be lovely little ornaments for the Winter :)

I had fun finding and making a set of activities and worksheets for Ellie's class to use for a writing center and it has been fun to add her English class to my weekly volunteering schedule (hooray for Jordan's lunch break time and his happiness to let me do this!)

Jordan taught Ellie Imperial Assault and she was as excited as Landon was disappointed that now it could be Ellie and Dad's game too.

Once Upon an Alphabet again and again (and again!) We've missed the last few story times at the library, which means I haven't been back to renew/return my books, which means this one is most likely accruing fines, but at least we're enjoying it! (Tomorrow I'll return it at story time, right?) And I want to read all of Oliver Jeffers books now.

Inside Out for our latest pizza movie party.

On getting things organized, routinized, etc. (always?) Today we started a new tidying up job system, and we're crossing our fingers for success!

Thumbprint cookies. Jordan made these with Ellie a few weeks ago and then again before church yesterday to share with his Young Men's class. (And of course there were extras :) The kids were asking and asking, and Jordan finally told them he'd give three cookies to anyone who could stand on their head for 10 seconds. So they all practiced and practiced and Landon did it! (And Jordan too! He made the record at 39 seconds even!)

I've gotten excited about my morning walks again. I hadn't realized quite what had me not looking forward to getting out the door for a while (besides the chillyness of course). Then one day Owen was too cold to ride his bike so he hopped in the stroller and immediately I realized how much I'd been missing my walks as my own time. Our summer days of walking/Owen biking were fun and happy for sure. But I really had missed the time to just listen to music and walk and think and plan. Now that it's cold enough, the boys are both happy (mostly) to be bundled up in the stroller to talk and play with each other, and I'm excited for the little change.

A bit roughly while we try to help Porter transition to sleeping in his tent the whole night. (We'll get there, right?)

All the great fun of our Brazil trip as I helped a friend get started with their plans to go in the Spring. And of course looking back at all the wonderful parts, the visa hassle/hotel finding /vaccines don't seem nearly so bad :)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

sharing stories

We had a fun quick visit from Kathie and Winslow this week (and now April for a few days too - such fun visitors!) Kathie brought up a few boxes for Jordan of scout awards, school papers, etc. It was as sweet as can be  to watch and listen to Ellie reading stories written by Jordan when he was just about her age!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Jordan's newest mode of transportation

Landon finally got out his pogo stick from last Christmas and quickly beat his past records -- zero on day one, then 8, then 11, then 63, 87, then 386!  Jordan wanted to join in on the fun so he ordered himself a grown up sized pogo stick (plus a new one for Landon made for big kids), and these guys have had just a super time playing and jumping around. A few times Landon has grabbed his pogo stick instead of his bike as he headed out the door to a friend's house. And I think it won't be long before Jordan is taking his for a ride up around the Bonneville trail (like his unicycle!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


We've sure loved these warm Fall days! Our first freezing temperatures just arrived, so we had a few last great yard working days this past weekend, and then last night we had our first real snow! The kids were so excited that we had to quickly wrap up FHE so they could have a chance to run and play in the snow for just a few minutes before bed.

This morning, Jordan and Landon went sledding for their early morning time (at 6:00!) Hooray for Jordan's enthusiasm to match Landon's love for the snow!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Hero of the day

Yesterday I got to go in to Ellie's class for a few minutes to help celebrate Ellie as "Hero of the Day". She showed off a poster she'd made of her favorite things, then her teacher told some wonderful things about her. Then I got to share a few things about Ellie -- and she had helped me in advance by making me a list of all the things I should talk about :) Art and reading and playing with friends and her family, writing and drawing and making books... and she had me read a little book she'd written too. (super cute) Then all of her classmates got a turn to ask questions or say something and it was just as sweet as can be.

"What's your favorite number?" 
"I think you're really nice" 
"What's your favorite kind of animal?" 
"I just really like you a lot Ellie!"

It was fun taking a few minutes to really think about Ellie and what she loves these days. Most of all, she is such a maker.  She loves to write stories, draw pictures, make books, make homework for Owen or extra math practice for herself, plan activities and games, build and fix and repair with her tools, think of recipes and help cook... What wonderful talents Ellie has!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Skunk (a fun new book + facing a fear)

So, for several months Owen was/has been afraid of skunks. I think it must have started with a Wild Kratts episode, because we haven't had any in-person skunk encounters to get him worried. But it was a serious thing.

For a few months (or at least it felt that way... any memory of middle of the night issues are always a little fuzzy...) Owen would wake up several nights a week in the middle of the night, jump out of bed and race out into the hall calling for Mom or Dad. "I thought I saw a skunk!"

(a side note: I'm sad when my children have nightmares. But I'm grateful that the scariest thing Owen can imagine, even in his sleep, is a skunk!)

No amount of reassuring or logical explanations seemed to help much. But then... we found this book!

We had just read and loved Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett. I saw this at the library with the new books, and the fun cover illustration plus new favorite author caught my attention. Then, I thought - will this be traumatic for Owen? Or will he love it? And will it maybe help with the skunk fear?

I sat down with Owen at the library and told him I found a book that looks super fun. It's a silly book about an animal that you sometimes feel scared about - do you have a guess? (A skunk?)

And it was super! :)

A man finds a skunk on his doorstep, and the skunk follows him around his daily activities until the man finally sneaks away to find a new house and new friends. But then he starts to worry about his little skunk friend and in the end the roles have switched. The story is so fun and silly and the illustrations are wonderful.

We read this over and over (though maybe not quite as much as Sam and Dave dig a hole -- you should read that too, it's very cute!)

And, hip hip hooray! Owen has been hugely less worried about skunks. Maybe the book and maybe just more talking about it and maybe he's four years old and these stages just pass quickly :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

our morning

 This morning I got home from helping in Ellie's Portuguese class, and it was so windy and rainy and blustery that I just couldn't get us out the door again to head to story time. So we stayed home, warm and cozy and made chicken pot pie for dinner (!) And since we were starting at 9:30 in the morning, I knew we had plenty of time for little boy help,  so Owen peeled all the carrots and potatoes while Porter played in his bar stool train under the counter. Then while we waited for things to boil, we started on a triple batch of carrot muffins (this almost-winter Fall time has me feeling like I need to do something to get ready for winter -- like fill our freezer with muffins?)  My patience wore down a little when Porter joined in... oh! I love cooking with these boys, but this little one sure loves to cause mischief while he's helping! But we managed happily and even baked and blended some squash to freeze for later. And finally play dough time with the boys "And you play with us Mom!"

October Little Things

Welcome to November! We've had such a quick change of weather. November has brought the almost winter kind of Fall, and we've said goodbye to our amazing end of summer kind of Fall that we enjoyed so much for all of October.  (I'm pretty sure this is our first Logan October without snow!) But it's still so beautiful and colorful and lovely. :)

Here are a few/a bunch of little memories from October: 

Apple pie time -- Jordan would get an apple on the slicer tool then Porter would say (every time) my turn! then give it a turn or two and hand the job over to Jordan to quickly finish the apple "that's better!" then repeat, repeat, repeat. 

Raspberries! Just like our apples, our raspberry patch kind of went crazy this year in how much fruit we had. What a treat to pick a giant bowl full and then watch as the kids ate them all up!

This it the first Fall that our Ginkgo tree has lost its leaves gradually -- and I think it probably had a lot to do with the kids climbing up and shaking it's leaves off each afternoon :) I still haven't been able to rake up these leaves because for the last few weeks the kids have had so much fun raking, piling, jumping in and throwing these leaves!

And more apples... it has sure been a lot of work to not waste these apples! Last week I made applesauce with a friend who helped me bottle it. Then more applesauce, a dehydrator full of apple leather, then full of dried apples, then more dried apples and more applesauce...

A Happy Halloween evening, playing Ooga Booga while we waited for the Jack-O-Lantern dinner to finish baking. 

Landon finished reading all of the Harry Potter books, then started again with #1 and is now at the beginning of book 4 (this time reading just the most exciting parts :)

Just cute Owen and some happy play time.  Owen had been saving up his money that he earned for dishes, etc. for pretty much his whole life. So, he had quite a little savings stash (which he had no idea what the point of was or what to do with). We were out shopping one day and he saw a set of (nine!) cars that he really wanted and he was just thrilled that he could buy it!

Jordan taught the kids how to play Heart and Soul on the piano and Landon especially has just loved playing it. Heart and Soul has most definitely been the soundtrack of our October.

Our neighbor Paul was replacing their roof and Jordan had a fun time helping out on a couple of afternoons. One beautiful Saturday, the kids set up chairs on our side of the lawn and just sat to watch the show!

Just a silly thing - I set out some little Fall decorations and when Porter saw this jar, he was very excited about the "smoothie!" A little while later, Ellie came home from school and was excited to see all the decorations and said something like "and what a pretty smoothie!" :)

More art projects from sweet Ellie

More ginkgo tree fun

We went to the American West Heritage Center with Jen & Jeremiah & Ethan, and the kids all had a great time (even though we got to the giant slide a little too late -- something to look forward to next year :) This is waiting by the parking lot where Jordan had the kids running laps.

Landon had earned some little animal prizes from the library at school and loved them so much that he decided to order a big set for himself online. Opening up his packages and seeing how each animal fit together, he was just as thrilled as can be. "This is the best day of my life!"

And, of course, more apples! We made apple juice! Since we don't have a juicer, we made it in the blender and used a strainer to smoosh the juice out. The first time it took a mixing bowl full of apples and an hour to make a quart of juice. The second time was just about 20 minutes though as I'd figured out some better ways to do it. Two great things - it was delicious and it used up a bunch of apples all at once :)