Thursday, April 30, 2015

One more step

watercolor map of Brazil here
Hooray for one more important check mark! This was a pretty research-intensive step -  We had to do at least a little bit of planning of 'what we want to do' just so that we didn't end up choosing housing that was super far from everything. We wanted to find places where all nine of us could be as together as possible. And since it's a new place for all of us, we had to just rely on reviews from other travelers (often in Portuguese!),  google street views, and whatever other info we could find online... to get a feel for what each neighborhood and each hotel or house was like. Then we had a bit of back  and forth (and thank goodness for Jordan's great Portuguese!) to get all of the details arranged for each place.  Now we're just crossing our fingers that everything works out and that we chose well!

{We'll spend a week and a half (minus travel days) at an apartment hotel in Sao Paulo exploring the big city with a day trip for some of us up to Rio. Then a week and half (minus travel days) at a rental home in Florianopolis to get a feel for a more relaxed, vacation-y part of Brazil.}

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Morning Routine

Out the door, on the way to school

One of the (many) things that has changed in the last few months, that has made life smoother and happier, is that I've finally managed to get a morning routine down that works. I've thought about this a lot and felt so grateful for it, and I was just reminded this past week of how much it helps me. I had been reading a super fun book, and after I got the kids off to school one morning, I had the thought of just getting Owen and Porter settled somehow and then curling up to read and read.  But,  I couldn't do it! And I felt so grateful to have finally gotten this morning routine in place.

(However, I've also found that much like getting back into running, even though my morning jobs, etc. are a great routine that I know I'm going to do (and really want to do), sometimes it is still really hard to tackle these same things again and again!)

And I still need to figure out a better breakfast making routine to help little Porter out. Now that he's really too big to hold while I fix breakfast, he's either clinging to my legs with desperate cries of "up! up! counter!" or sitting up on the counter helping/throwing breakfast ingredients on the floor :) I think I need to better enlist the help of Landon and Ellie for this time to help us have a little more peace for those few morning minutes. We'll see how it goes!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Bubble Soccer

I'd just given the kids a final 'lights out' last night, when I glanced out the front room window and saw this...

A big group (probably a YSA ward's FHE) was over at the park playing soccer in these funny huge bubble things. We've seen some fun things happening at the park here, but never anything as silly as this.  I even got the kids up for few minutes to show them, and we all went over to the round-a-bout to watch for a few minutes. So funny!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Leader Nights

Last week was a super busy week (for us -- we tend to keep our calendar pretty clear, so to have more than one thing on most days of the week felt super busy!) One of the fun activities going on was the kids Leader nights. (Grandma was visiting so she got to come too!)  The kids all sang a few songs with their grades (which is always sweet), and they had some fun displays up in the library where many of the students told about the great things they'd done this year.

And my favorite part was a wax museum they did to start the night. The kids dressed up as someone they thought was a great leader (mostly famous people from history, though Landon dressed up as Principal Warkworth :) They did such a great job and it was just super fun to see their costumes and hear the parts they'd practiced to tell about their characters. I love the good things happening at our school!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Conference thoughts

I'm going to try out a little General Conference project. Each week, I'll find one of my favorite quotes from one of the talks and share it here in some (hopefully) fun way.  (Photos and designs are either mine or free to use for any purpose.)
Here we go!

Read the full talk here - "The Music of the Gospel"

Friday, April 24, 2015

Reading again!

I've been so happy to be taking time to read more again lately. Here are a few from the last little while, with my thoughts, in 10 words or less :)

Remember to listen and notice and cherish and love

On being really and truly kind (I loved the audio)

Second chances and starting over and one more perspective

Basic stuff, but a reminder that I like money basics. 

Loved reading with Jordan, even accidentally out of order! 

A Landon recommendation, on serving and loving where we are.

Using your resources to match your priorities

Building a friendship, and imagining a life with no memory

A fun 'what will happen next' story

On kindness and learning and wanting life to be better. 

I read it finally and was surprised to love it.

Always nice to know other moms feel this way :)

Protect that recess time,  and the importance of excellent teachers

I loved it, loved feeling what she felt. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A perfect moment

Another happy couple of minutes from a few weeks ago - with a spontaneous color mixing/milk and soap experiment
I just want to remember this nearly perfect moment from this afternoon:

I'd just gotten Porter to bed for a nap (and it was definitely one of those days when both Porter and I were looking forward to his nap time ;) and I was fixing a spinach salad for Jordan and me while Ellie and Owen ate their yogurt and toast lunch. I'd been singing Porter's nap time song to myself while I mixed everything together, "You are my Sunshine" and Owen asked me to sing it again and again.

Then, as I finished the first verse once more, he stopped me from his spot at the far side of the table with such sweetness,

 "Mom? I love you a hundred!!"

And then lunch finished up with Ellie and Owen happily outdoing each other. "I love you a thousand!" "I love you a trillion!" "I love you a trillion trillion!" "I love you a trillion plus a trillion plus a trillion...actually plus a trillion... I love you four trillion!!"

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Birthday Owen!

This little Owen turned 4! We celebrated while we were in California for Spring Break so Grammie and Grandpa and April could be part of the fun. Kathie even let Owen pick out (and help make and decorate) an  elephant birthday cake. Some pizza, and lots of balloons, decorations from Ellie and a couple of tiny games and it was a happy birthday. (We tried to celebrate once more on his real birthday when we returned home, but he and then Ellie were so sick, so he ended up with one early celebration and one late one - which he didn't mind one bit.)

Four-year-old Owen loves:

- When anyone reads books to him (he's lucky to have Ellie read to him each night before bed especially)
- to tell jokes. (I sat by him at lunch one day (usually I'll just eat while the kids are in quiet time). It was such a sweet special time - Owen was so happy "I like eating lunch with you!" and he loved telling me silly jokes. "I have lots of jokes inside of me!"
- to lead the music in family home evening, almost always Give said the little stream and every once in a while I see my mother kneeling
- to ride his balance bike. (Plus, he got a new big-kid bike for his birthday - with the perfect first reaction of happiness and excitement. He rode it around our upstairs loop 7 times! before bed that first night.)
- to make up and tell adventure stories, full of "and then..."
- to help make dinner or muffins or our new healthy cookies or anything else
- to do little learning projects with Ellie
- his big brother Landon
- to be 'buddies forever' with Jordan (and me every once in a while if I'm lucky :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Ever since we returned home from California, Porter has been on the lookout for Grandpa. Wherever we go (church, story time, watching General Conference, grocery shopping...) if Porter sees someone with light hair and glasses, it's "Buhpuh!" (Grandpa!)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Weekend Report

Landon had his first soccer game on Saturday out at the Blackhawk fields. Ellie was super excited about a library activity happening just before game time, so Jordan biked out to the game with Landon and Porter while I took Ellie and Owen to the library, then we met back up just in time for the start of Landon's game (and Porter still got a little nap on the way!) And it was just so fun to watch Landon play! I've really gotten to love soccer these last few years - I was only wishing I'd signed Ellie up again too!

Also this weekend...

An epic tool shed clean out (I think the first real attention that shed has gotten since we moved in - we filled up the back of the van for a DI drop off, with several things I'd never even known were in there because it was so full (and not just little things, two extra weed whackers and a vacuum cleaner for example!)

A trip to the park to play frisbee (Jordan has started a frisbee collection and has been excited to try out each new style) and enjoy a little picnic.

The North Logan Library's maker day - Ellie was wishing for even more activities to do, but it was a great little activity. They had the teenagers hosting 5 or so stations (and they did a super job!) where the kids could build paper airplanes, plant a seed, play with legos/blocks, color with sidewalk chalk, or (so cool!) play the piano with bananas and a 'makey-makey' (this was really so fun and funny - here's a little youtube example)

A movie party at Hillcrest. The kids were super excited about this Chicken Little movie night. When we got settled and I saw it was still well-lit enough to read, I ran out to the car to get my book but realized I left it at home. But it turned out great. Since Jordan was home with Porter, I could just really enjoy the time with the bigger kids, and I really loved watching how much they were enjoying the night.

Sunday walks and church and home teachers and a google hangout to wish April a happy birthday. And I tried a new activity with primary (sing the song this way...) to review some new songs we're learning and it was so fun with junior and senior and even nursery.

And now we're on to another week!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Snow! (And what a difference a day makes)

We had a great big Spring snow storm this week -- it started Tuesday evening, and then all through the night and  through the next day, it just snowed and snowed and snowed (We measured about a foot on top of our picnic table!)   But then the next day was so warm and beautiful, and all that snow just melted away.  On our morning walk, every tree was shaking off little bits of snow all along our little route, though several still had branches, heavy with blossoms and snow, hanging nearly to the ground. And all through the day, each time we stepped outside we just heard that drip, drip, dripping sound.
Wednesday afternoon/Thursday afternoon (and now on Friday afternoon, it is bright and beautiful with just a few little patches of snow remaining)
Even though the snow was only here for about 24 hours, Jordan still managed to get in two sledding trips with the kids. He took all of them the first evening, but they had a rough time with Jordan trying to manage everyone along with some missing boots and gloves...  He gave it another try though with just Porter and Owen and they had a super fun lunch break sledding trip.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

a funny discovery

Jordan was helping me with some primary stuff at the church a few weeks ago, and he discovered one of the closets (right next to our primary's) hadn't been opened in probably 30 years or more. This little clipping above was an ad on the back of a picture someone had used as a visual aid. (Such a funny little advertisement - and how things change!) Among other things, there was a gallon of Hi-C fruit punch with a 1980's expiration date, cute little project binders with fabric and paper scraps from before my childhood, sports jerseys, paper cups,  and a box of envelopes full of information on different countries (probably for new missionaries from the ward). Brazil 1975, anyone?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Spring Flowers for the Kitchen

The kids have had a set of finger paints waiting to be used since last Christmas, and we finally found the perfect project for them.  When we took down our Valentine's things, I was missing the bright color on that big kitchen wall, so we decided to make some big Spring flowers to brighten up our kitchen for a while. We gathered up odds and ends from around the house and experimented with different painting techniques (q-tips, a toothbrush, scrunched up plastic wrap and aluminum foil, jars and lids, an empty box and cardboard tube, and a little finger painting too)

All the big kids helped cut the painted posterboards into petal shapes. (We cut them into strips then I drew a 2 second petal outline on the back of each one for them to follow). Then we glued them together (glue sticks worked better than the white glue above) into colorful bright flowers.

And they turned out beautifully! We just stuck them up along the top of the wall with some painters tape, and now we get to see little bursts of Springtime color each time we go into the kitchen. Such a happy, fun-to-do project.

{We've had snow, snow, snow since yesterday evening, so while we're having our happy Springtime inside, it is a beautiful winter wonderland outside today!)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Our passports came back on Friday with all of our visas ready to go! This was a crazy process to go through. Utah is assigned to the Los Angeles consulate, so we originally thought we'd need to apply for our visas there. The problem was, you had to appear in person (at least one person from your group) to apply and then return in person  about 5 days later to pick up the visas. (Which would have meant two 1-day trips for Jordan or I, or a week long stay in L.A.) Or you can pay a visa agency to take care of it for you, but they charge (quite a lot!) for each person so our family of 6 would have been pretty expensive.

So then we found out that the San Francisco consulate (where Jordan's parents & April would be applying) would accept applications from outside their jurisdiction. (Yay - Winslow can apply for us!) But the problem there was that each person we talked to/ emailed had a different set of requirements that had to be met.  Finally we decided the safest bet would be to go there in person - and we thought it would be more fun to spend the money on a Spring Break vacation than to pay someone to do the applications for us in L.A.

So, we had a great little vacation, and everything went smoothly at the consulate, and now we're one great big step closer to our big adventure!

Monday, April 13, 2015

"Dad said you always have to get a treat on a daddy-daughter date"

Jordan and Ellie had a super sweet daddy-daughter date a few weekends ago. They rode bikes (Jordan's+the tag-along) downtown to the Eccles theater to see the Hansel & Gretel ballet. Jordan got a yellow carnation for Ellie at the theater, and on the way home they stopped at Bluebird for some yogurt covered pretzels. And they both came home so happy from their great daddy-daughter date adventure!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Easter Egg Hunt

We finally had our much anticipated (and much postponed) Easter egg hunt yesterday. (Hooray for healthy kids!!) Jordan hid all the eggs while I was running to the store, so it was super fun for me too to help the kids search and to take pictures too. I think this was one of our first egg hunts with real hard boiled eggs. (Plus Landon donated some candy from a recent birthday party so we could have some treat eggs too - I was happy for the arrangement since it was hard not to stock up on jelly beans and cadbury eggs but I wanted to follow our treat plan rules...) The big kids loved the search, but Porter was a little concerned about the whole thing. I think he found a treat egg first and then couldn't figure out what to do with the beautiful-but-treatless hard boiled ones!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Train Bike II

Last year we finally found the perfect bike set up for our family's around town adventures -  A 'train bike' for Jordan (his bike + a tag-along for Landon + the trailer with the little boys) and a smaller train for me (my new electric bike + a tag-along for Ellie).

Last month though, on one of our extra warm early Spring weekends,  Jordan decided to give me an afternoon to myself and managed to take all the kids out on one extra long train bike. First he took the kids on a test ride around the round-a-bout, then up and down the street, then around the block. And what a site to see! (Even more so with Landon and Jordan in their matching buddies Bonobos shirts!)

Everyone felt safe and sound so off they went on a trip downtown. I had a few minutes for a quick shopping trip (by car) and we met for a Friday night dinner out. Jordan even managed to make it back home up the hills with just a little help from Landon and his super power boosts.

 Landon's suggestion for our next big adventure is to swap Jordan's bike for a tandem and see if our whole family can ride together, but I think I am not quite brave enough to handle the wiggles and jostles of all those riders!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Happy Again

The three littlest in our family have been slowly recovering from round 2 of our Spring Break stomach bug. It's been so back and forth with a day or two (or an afternoon) feeling good, but then suddenly so sick again.  But, little Porter woke up yesterday morning and suddenly, he was happy again -- hooray! It was like a switch had just been flipped and he was full of smiles and giggles and silly mischief. Happy again, and what a blessing. Now we're just crossing our fingers that he's really better, that Ellie and Owen can get better, and that the rest of us can stay better!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

March Meal Plan & Treat Plan Updates

Treat plan:

In March I felt again like hooray for a treat plan! March was busy though, so our 'make any treats we eat' rule seemed tough - and on a few busy weekends we just skipped our dessert night because we forgot to make plans for what we'd make (and the kids didn't even seem to mind, which I couldn't believe!) I'm so happy to be eating so much less sugar, and I've also had so much fun experimenting with new ways to do the baking I love (more nutritiously).

Meal plan:

Yay! Our little calendar up on the fridge did just the trick to make our meal plan work this month. And, oh I sure think it's great! A great part about this is we've been able to figure out even better ways to make the meals we like the most. For example, this month we used our favorite black bean recipe (that we discovered in February) for our beans and rice night, and also started serving it with pan-fried kale which Jordan and I both liked so much (the kids, not so much). We haven't taken time to come up with a new April plan, but I think we had enough variety from Spring break that we'll just stick with our March plan and make it super easy on ourselves.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Spring Break

Thanks to a last minute canceled flight, we got to spend an extra few days in California for the kids' Spring Break, and today we're just getting back into our regular routines. Despite a flu bug that slowly (but surely) made its way around, we still managed to get our visa applications taken care of, celebrate Owen's birthday,  and spend lots of time visiting and playing and reading and enjoying the beautiful days.  This was a working vacation for Jordan, but with the Pacific time schedule, he was able to work an hour earlier and finish up a full working day not long after nap times ended. (So we had lots of time to play!)

Some highlights:

+ Playing in the front yard. Watching the kids run and play and climb their favorite tree.

+ A picnic at Del Val with a beautiful drive to and from through some gorgeous Spring green hills. (And Kathie was amazing to get everything prepared! Early in the afternoon, Jordan suggested a big adventure out there and by the time he got off work, she had everything ready to go!)

+  Playing tennis baseball out in the court with the kids and Jordan and Winslow

+ A morning walk with Kathie and her good friend

+ Attending the General Women's meeting with Kathie and April (plus an extra fun trip afterwards to get a treat :)

+  Reading lots of great books!

+ Just barely getting our visa applications in to San Francisco (where everything went smoothly - hooray!) before Jordan and I both collapsed (sick) for the rest of day while Kathie and Winslow so lovingly took care of all the kids for us!

+ Beautiful pink flowers in bloom everywhere

+ Foot golf with April for Jordan and Landon

+ A family home evening/ birthday party celebration for Owen. The kids favorite part I think was using the little Stop, Go, Hum, Whistle signs to sing the songs. (And Owen was super excited about a present of counting bears from Grammie as well as his purple elephant cake!)