Friday, March 27, 2015


One of the things that is so amazing about having 4 kids is getting to see just how different these children are - in big ways and little ways.

Such a  funny little difference of these kids is their peanut butter & jelly sandwich preferences:

Landon likes sandwiches with just peanut butter.
Ellie eats only sandwiches with just jelly.
Owen is happy with peanut butter and jelly.
And Porter (unless I cut his sandwich into bites) just eats the pb&j and leaves the bread behind.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cute Passports

Ellie and I had a fun time one afternoon picking out our favorite papers to make our passports a little cuter (and easier to quickly identify). This was a project I'd planned to do on my own, but I'm so happy I went with a simplified version with Ellie - it was so fun. And these cute little covers make me happy whenever I see them up in our cupboard. 

(When I start to feel nervous or overwhelmed about our big trip, it helps to focus on little things like this that I know I can handle :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I did it!

This month, I've finally been running again - and every day I've been just amazed and so very grateful for what I can do. (And it's not so much -- but it's so much for me!)  I have my usual walking route, and each week this month I've set my plan for where my running/walking breaks will be. Week 1 had about 1 minute running to 3 minutes of walking, week 2 a little more running, week 3 a little more...

Week 4 started Monday and I had in the back of my mind a goal to maybe just run the whole thing (!!) But then I found myself coming up with all sorts of excuses to even get out the door. My morning jobs took a little longer than usual so my schedule was a little late... it was a rainy day and I had just straightened my hair... we had yummy Old Grist Mill muffins for Ellie's after school snack and I told Jordan "I just want to eat my muffin... and maybe I'll go later?"

But, hooray for Jordan, he watched the kids even and sent me out the door. And I did it! I ran the whole route I had planned and I felt just exactly like this picture of  Landon on top of the mountain.  It certainly wasn't far or fast, but oh! I am stronger than I thought!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My little helper

(Ready to roll on the Alpine Slide)

I was on my home from a quick errand one evening last week when Ellie called from Jordan's phone, "Mom, what are we having for dinner? I was just getting the table all set and I wanted to make sure I had everything that we would need."

I feel so lucky to have this little Ellie as my daughter! Every day I am amazed at her ideas, her creations, her projects, her lessons and instructions for Owen, and her sweet help. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

A week of green

I had such fun making all sorts of green foods last week for St. Patrick's day. Looking online for ideas, it was tempting to set aside our treat plan and enjoy all the fun and fancy green treats I found... but I tried to make some healthier/non-food coloring snacks mostly (though we still had a few of those too!)
We had: green pancakes (twice), green fruits + green fruit dip, green (spinach) smoothies, green 'popeye' muffins, ants on a log, green fruit salad, green eggs & ham sandwiches, green trail mix, graham crackers w/ green milk (definitely the strangest one!), green quesadillas,  and homemade oreos w/ green frosting.

All the kids, and Ellie especially make celebrating these little holidays in silly ways just so fun!

Friday, March 20, 2015


Landon brought this little tulip bulb home from school a few weeks ago when the green shoots were just coming up. We set it on our window sill above the sink and happily watched as the leaves grew taller and taller. Then just a few days ago, I twisted the little cup a bit to the side as I gave it a little water, and surprise! there was a beautiful little red tulip hidden behind those leaves! It has been such a happy site to see in our kitchen.  I'm thinking next year we will have to have lots of little indoor tulip plants - this one has been such a perfect little piece of Spring!

Thursday, March 19, 2015


I saw this idea recently for 'addition pancakes' and thought it was a super idea.  Ellie and Owen both had fun practicing some math they're working on (Owen had chocolate chip pancakes for counting, and Ellie had addition and subtraction questions). And it was also a pretty challenging hand/arm/pancake-flipping exercise (especially since I laminated these, so they were extra slippery!) and I loved that part of it too.

Also, Landon has become our families official pancake maker. A month or so ago, he surprised me one morning by getting up early, finding our pancake recipe in the cookbook and mixing up a batch all on his own.  Since then, one or two mornings each week, he'll mix up  the recipe (and often slip in an extra tablespoon of sugar, a few shakes of sprinkles, or a handful of chocolate chips...)  and cook up a plate full of giant pancakes.   I love this great morning helper!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

An afternoon snack

This is how I say "I love you" to Jordan :)

We've been eating asparagus like crazy this Spring. I've never liked it, though I've made it once or twice for Jordan. But, I just discovered this recipe (super easy -- oil, salt, pepper, roast for 10 minutes.) and now we've been eating asparagus several times a week for the past month or so. Hooray for a super healthy yum snack/side dish!

(We've been trying lots of new foods lately, and my rule for the kids has been that they take one bite and then politely ask for 'more please' or say 'no thank you'. They've been doing better and better (and sometimes really awesome even). But the asparagus was too much for little Owen (who is our best new food taster usually). We finally had pity and tucked his little bites into a brown bobby ( just a spoonful of sugar helps the asparagus go down) and then he managed just fine.  :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Frisbee time

Look at that happy Landon! This weekend Jordan spent some time playing frisbee with him in the backyard, and it was just amazing to see how Landon loved it. They tossed the frisbee back and forth, setting new goals and records as they went - 20 in a row! 50 in a row! 65!  And with each throw, I could just see Landon being filled right up with love and happiness.  (And Owen loved joining in as a great helper for Dad too!)

Monday, March 16, 2015


Landon's Portuguese class has been working on putting together reports on animals (in Portuguese). Last week, we got a handwritten invitation (by Landon) to come visit their class on Friday morning to see what they'd been working on -- and it was so great! All around the classroom were really super displays that the kids had made about their animals, and as you walked around each group would give you a little presentation all about the animal they had studied. All the kids did so well! It's been so fun to see how much they are learning.

Even in the last few months, they've picked up so much. At the beginning of January I started to go in each week and at first I could almost always answer questions or help them a bit with the words they didn't know as they worked on projects. This morning, I was realizing that I'm really going to have to work harder on my own Portuguese study to keep up with them because already Landon has to translate for me before I can go help any of his classmates!

They have a Portuguese only rule in their classroom, and I think it is so funny the way they try to get around this rule. They'll often ask "Como se diz...pencil? or Como se diz... play? when they need help with one word or something. But they'll also say things like (and this is totally a habit for them all now!) "Como se diz How long is it until we go to lunch?" or whatever it is they want to talk to each other about -- as long as it has "como se diz" in front, it's legal :)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Hot Fudge Sundaes and other fun treats

One of the best parts about our new treat plans has been that when we do have a dessert, we get to have some really fun dessert. Last weekend for our dessert night, we had Hot Fudge Brownie Sundaes with homemade brownies, homemade hot fudge, homemade ice-cream, and even freshly whipped cream on top!
This week for our Family Home Evening treat, we used the leftover Hot Fudge as frosting, and mixed up some yellow cupcakes (from scratch even!) and pudding (not from scratch :) and we had 'Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes'.
And earlier this month we had some delicious carrot cake - I used  this recipe  but cut the sugar and oil by half and added crushed pineapple, some baby food squash, pecans, and raisins. (And then just did a cool whip frosting with a little cream cheese/butter/powdered sugar mixed in)

Such fun treats!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Repeating Patterns

I came across a great tutorial last week on how to make repeating patterns -- Ellie and I spent an afternoon trying it out and it was so fun! Now that we've figured out the process, I think next time we'll use a paper cutter instead of scissors  and also our scanner instead of camera, and try to line everything up super carefully to see how seamless we can make them. I'm still brainstorming what kind of project we could use this technique for, because it was just like a magic trick to see it all go together. 

A few more patterns from our first experimenting day -

I liked the Hip Hip Hooray so much that I  tried making another like it on the computer with the same technique. I'm sure there are easier ways to do this than what I did (especially since after I was done I realized there weren't any overlaps anyway so I could have just pieced it together without all the steps), but it was super fun. And I love how it turned out!  I just keep looking and looking at this pattern and trying to think of what cute project I can do to use it, because it just makes me so happy!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Blankets/guest room

I always think of guest rooms as the fanciest room in a house. Two beds neatly spaced with matching white bedspreads, white bookcases with a lovingly chosen collection of books and picture frames and wonderful little trinkets to look at. And night stands with matching lamps and pretty little silver trays to set your things before you drift off to sleep...

As any guests to our home know, our 'guest room' isn't like this :) Except for the hours when a guest is actually sleeping in this room, the guest room is mostly our blanket play place. Many times I've tried to fold up the blankets and stack them neatly, but one adventure or another always soon requires blankets (never just 1 or 2 or 6 or 7... all the blankets that can be found anywhere - watch out upstairs beds!)  Every once in a while a child who has gotten into mischief will be given the job to pile all the blankets on one of the spare beds. But it never takes long before a new game or adventure comes along and off they go.

And really I know I could set some rules and solve the blanket messes -- but the kids have such fun! One of the things I remember playing with most as a kid (besides waffle blocks) were little blanket towns we'd make. We'd take a big blanket and drop it just so, and then take our little guys and find homes for them in the folds and wrinkles and twists of the blanket.  And I remember that being so magical and fun. So, the blankets stay.  Someday we'll have a neatly arranged linen closet and a lovely little guest room. Right now I'll remember how much I really do love the blanket forts and hot lava protection and blanket towns and blanket rides and all the other magical creations the kids dream up for our blanket collection.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ellie's Post Office

One of the centers in Ellie's class was a post office and she liked it so much, she came home and made her own one afternoon for quiet time.  I volunteered to be a post office worker and got to have an expert lesson in envelope making. (A few days later, Ellie told me that as she was making the envelopes for her post office, she was imagining how she would teach her children someday how to make this kind of envelopes -- so her lesson for me was well rehearsed) I sure love these Ellie creations!

Monday, March 9, 2015


Owen has just gotten to that fun stage in learning to count where he's figured out the pattern and can count up to 100 with help on the 10's -  '50, 60, 70...' He counted to 101 today (with Mom's help) and was so proud!  

Just thinking about this super fun stage, I thought it would be fun to write down (and remember later) what some of the things each of us is working on learning these days. 


Porter is learning to sleep... slowly, ever so slowly, with lots of back and forths... yet overall his sleep is getting better and better.  To run (such happy toddler running is as cute as it gets :)  To eat with a fork/spoon (very much like this favorite poem!)  To say so many new words, and  let us know so much more clearly what he wants (we love his fervent nods - yes!  To give some really wonderful hugs!


Owen is learning all the fun preschool age things - letter names and sounds and numbers and counting and shapes.  To write and draw letters and numbers and pictures. To tell stories - Owen loves to tell detailed stories of "What if...?" To get dressed by himself.  And learning so much from big sister Ellie - she loves to teach this little Owen (like yesterday at snack time as they ate their trail mix: "Owen, I had 4 pink m&m's but I just ate one, so how many do I have now?")


Ellie is learning to be such an amazing helper. Dinner prep times have been going so  smoothly lately because while I'll be cooking, Ellie just quietly walks around the kitchen gathering things up, setting the table, and getting out anything she can think of that we might need.  To read more and more - like many things with Ellie, this kind of snuck up on me. When she started kindergarten she was already a great little reader with I Can Read books, etc. But then all of a sudden she was able to read pretty much all of our kid books!  To draw more and more - and I love her drawings so much!  To say hi to friends,  play with friends at recess, and answer questions from grownups (like at the dentist today - "they asked me questions and I told them the answers!")  To cook - Ellie is our official Sunday bread maker.


Landon is learning so much in Portuguese. He's amazed Jordan and me with how well he can communicate and how much he understands.  To be our expert family pancake maker (and macaroni & cheese maker too!) All the great things he needs to know for school - multiplication and division and fractions and reading and recess soccer playing, etc. To be a great writer. Both in handwriting (with effort :) and in substance - I've been amazed in 3rd grade what excellent writing he's had.  To be such a great big brother and leader to his brothers and sister.


I'm learning to do a few little things with Photoshop -- my favorite two things: I can make a white background transparent, and I can change the color of a solid colored object. Two things I've never been able to do with omnigraffle and always wanted to learn how to do, and now I can!   To figure out daily routines that help things go so much more smoothly (and I finally have the energy to stick with them, hooray!) To eat healthier.  To conjugate verbs in Portuguese (but man, it is hard!) and other Portuguese practice and learning.  To get back into a super daily running routine (hooray!)


Jordan is learning to be  a super journal writer (which has helped me to get back to this great habit too).  To be a really exceptional developer and worker.  To be a pro unicycler (with a trip up to the Bonneville trail, over and back down again this week, just for fun during his lunch break!)  To be a great executive secretary and to remember to set up appointments and do all the other little things he needs to do.  To be a great wrestler against all four kids at the same time (tough enough for Landon, careful enough for Porter, silly enough for Owen, gentle enough for Ellie...)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Dance Parties

A few nights ago, Ellie found me in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner - a little worn out and just about ready to put Porter to bed.

"Guess what!" she said, "I have a secret!"  then in a whisper "I asked Dad if we can have a dance party, and he said yes!!"

Jordan always finds the best songs, and these kiddos sure love to dance. I still have a hard time joining in, but I do love to watch these dance parties!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

on the road again

I've been running this week -  not much and not fast, but running!

Before Porter was born, I was as strong as I'd ever been and I was running every day (usually just a mile, but every day) - even through the first few months of my pregnancy (!)   And even after I slowed to a quick walk, I was still outside every day on my favorite routes. (A sweet lady who I often passed stopped to chat one day right around my due date and sweetly said "you'll jog yourself right to the delivery room!") It was so exciting to feel so strong and capable and grateful for my healthy body.

Just after Porter was born though I started having some major joint problems and felt like I'd suddenly aged about 50 years (someday I know I'll read that and laugh, though it sure felt true at the time :)  Besides some more intense problems with my hands and arms, my first few quick runs left me feeling for weeks like I'd never run (or maybe even walk normally!) again. Gratefully, ( I can't say even say how grateful I am!)  things have gradually improved, and now I'm just so thrilled to be easing back into this habit that I love so much.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


 For Christmas last year, I gave Ellie a little 'Learn to Draw' book in her stocking. Her first reaction when she pulled it out was something like this - "Ha, that's funny! I don't need this - I already know how to draw!"

And I just love her drawings. Almost every wall in our house has/had/will have an Ellie original taped up for display. Yesterday I got to purchase (for 5 cents) my choice of pictures from her art studio that she set up during quiet time a few days ago. How I love these little drawings (and their artist!)  brightening up all the parts of our house!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


We had a great snow storm yesterday with more snow through the night. The kids woke up this morning and bundled themselves all up to run out and play before school, like it was the first day of winter. (Because really it pretty much is our first really snowy day this year!) Jordan got Landon up extra early and they went out for a snowy walk before their scripture study. And I took Owen and Porter out in the stroller later in the morning for my walk (I decided this was the week I was really going to get back into my favorite daily habit, even if it meant a snowy walk/arm workout pushing the stroller)

My favorite part of it all was watching Landon so excited to show Porter the snow. With my rule set that Porter wasn't to go out outside, Landon brought little bits of snow into the garage for him so he could still touch and feel it while technically following the rules. These boys (and Ellie too!)  were so happy for such a fun snow day!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Meal Plan Update

In January, we decided to try a new meal-planning strategy and had great success. February, not so much. There were a few little and big things that threw us off a bit, but the main thing was this -- we didn't write it down. In January I'd scribbled down our daily dinner plan on the bottom of a grocery list, and after a few weeks I rewrote it on a cute printable. But all month it was up on our fridge, easily seen and checked. I didn't realize what an important step that was, but somehow I just never got around to writing down our new plan and so we never really did it! We still ate pretty much the same things but it was back to the more stressful dinner time/what's for dinner  trouble.  This month we're off to a better start though - I have a cute calendar up on the fridge with a week's worth of dinner's scheduled in and ready to rotate.

Here's our plan:
S - Spaghetti
M - Rice & Beans  (w/ our new favorite black bean recipe)
T - Chicken Enchiladas (all made and ready in the freezer)
W - Soup/Grilled Cheese
Th - Stir Fry
F/S - Pizza movie party/Out to eat