Friday, July 31, 2015

Why almost 2 is my favorite age for little Porter so far

While making dinner yesterday, I got to hear this: 

Up a counter fine?
I help too?!
Okay mommy
okay Mommy I won’t 
I will
this one for?
this one for?
this one for?
Mommy do it
I try it
no like it 
all done
Wow Mommy!
I do it!
I get one
Choose this one
Sure Mommy!
all done

Also at almost 2 -

* Porter and I are sleeping better and better. And I've learned to just love so much falling asleep to his little breathing sounds beside me in his crib. And Porter is so super awesome at going to bed both for nap time and bedtime (hooray!)
* We have lots of mischief. That "up a counter?" request can be a dangerous one. (Like this morning's salt shaker emptied on the counter/floor)
 I'm treasuring these days with tiny little resting breaks with Porter - "Rest momma bed?" And our sweet morning wake-up time "Rest Momma?" when Porter climbs over to sleep/rest right with me for a few extra minutes before we're both ready to wake up. 
* We love Porter's most common little phrases. "Think so" and "this one, maybe?" and when anyone is hurt or sad, "so sorry!" with a soft touch on their face.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

a little thing

image here
Last week, I was asked to bring refreshments to a class I'm attending. And all week I was thinking about it. And thinking about some of the people I've gotten to know and the struggles some of them are facing. And wishing I could do something

Our sweetest ever neighbor once made a comment in Relief Society about how whenever she had the chance to take a meal to someone, she'd pray for that food as she prepared it. She'd pray for the person or family as she was cooking and she'd pray that the food she was making would carry the love she felt for them. 

So that's what I did. I peeled and chopped veggies.  I asked Landon for help and we baked my favorite chocolate chip cookies and added in extra special mini m&m's. And I prayed for these little snacks to bring a bit of happiness. 

And they did. And it was a little thing - the littlest of things. But I felt grateful to do something at all. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Landon time

I can remember thinking, before Landon could even walk, 'how could two such quiet/reserved/shy people have such a boisterous/friendly/outgoing son?'  And I can also remember knowing, 'this little boy is going to teach me some things.' And oh, he has! (And oh! I am still learning!!)

We celebrated Landon's birthday this week - with special Happy Birthday Landon pancakes and a break from morning jobs and dinner out and a family party + google hangout and then a day of party preparations and a big birthday party.  We took Landon and about 20 friends on a little scavenger hunt through the neighborhood then to the forest and the park for pizza and cake and play time. And it was about as wild and crazy as you would imagine 20 nine-year-old-ish kids might be. :)  And very fun too.

Oh, how this boy loves his friends and loves to feel special and loved.

A fun note: We started the party out with our neighbors splash tank - Jordan volunteered to get soaked and when I asked if he was really willing to do that, Landon overheard and quickly said "He'd do anything for his son Landon!"

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

summer reading so far

The kids had an art class at the North Logan Library for a few weeks early in the summer. One of the unexpected benefits of this was that I got to have an hour three days each week to sit with the little boys at the library and watch them play, read books to them, and read my own books! Hooray! Here are the latest: 

Once Upon a Marigold - I checked out thrice upon a marigold, but realized I'd forgotten enough that I should re-read the first two. (And it was as silly and fun as I remembered)

100 Days of Real Food  - While this seemed a little extreme to me (or rather, something I don't feel enough passion about right now to put into practice), I've still found myself thinking back to lots of the ideas here.

The Wednesday Wars - I listened to this over the last week or two and I just loved it. Here's a perfect review. This is my favorite this summer for sure.

Better than Before - I like Gretchen Rubin and it's fun to read her examples of "I was talking to someone at a party all about habit formation..."  It was good, though maybe I should have waited until I was really ready to start/strengthen some specific habits so I could have immediately put into practice her ideas before I forget them.

Princess Academy - Another re-read so I can read the sequels (and it did get me excited to keep up with the characters in their next adventures). I think Ellie will love these smart, brave, beautiful princesses-in-training in a few years.

InkHeart - Another re-read (I'm seeing a pattern here...) I got this on the kindle before we left for Brazil, planning to let Landon read it while we were gone. But then I started to read the beginning to just make sure it would be a good fit for him, and then I couldn't stop!

Smart Money, Smart Kids - I like Dave Ramsey, so this was fun. Not super exceptional or new, but fun. 

Shipwrecked - A kids non-fiction I found when I was picking out an 'all about Japan' book for summer school time. Such an interesting story! Did you know Japan had laws set up through the early 1800's  that kept it almost completely isolated from the rest of the world? I've been reading it aloud again to the kids the last few days for simplified school time :)

Design Mom - Hers was one of the first blogs I started reading years and years ago.  I hadn't kept up with her blog for the last few years though, and somehow thought that I wouldn't love the book.  But, I did! It felt like an old friend giving all sorts of fun ideas of how to make my home a lovelier place to be.

Half the Sky - A book club book I actually chose not to read mostly. But the idea is important and seems to be coming up more and more (like the amazing work being done by OUR)

The Unfinished Angel - My favorite part was the author's description of why she used such nonsense language throughout the book - she was writing this as she stayed in another country and felt like she just had to include the way her own language was so mixed up at the time.  Also,  a sweet story about being an angel and helping where you can help.

The Great Unexpected - Ha! Another re-read, except I didn't notice until I was several chapters in. The great thing about having such a poor memory is I can enjoy these good books again and again! :)

Also this summer - Kids books all about: Canada, Japan, South Africa, Afghanistan, India, Mexico, Germany,  and France (so far)

And a few favorite picture books lately -

The Black Book of Colors

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

The Runaway Dinner

Press Here

Monday, July 27, 2015

Pretzel dessert

One evening recently, Ellie and Owen had been playing together and they came out to dinner excited to show us what they'd been working on. They'd searched their favorite kids cook book and brainstormed to come up with a list of desserts 'they could make all by themselves because we don't need to use the oven to make them' The last on the list was a secret dessert that Ellie was so super excited about that we even let her make it on a not-dessert-night night. (Pretzels with frosting and all different kinds of sprinkles and chocolate chips and everyone can choose whichever  kinds of things they want!)

Friday, July 24, 2015

what ifs

Early last year, when Jordan decided he was ready to say farewell to Animoto, he ended up with two awesome offers from two great companies: Bonobos and Homejoy. We had an intense few days talking and discussing and weighing all the strengths and weaknesses of each choice as we deliberated about which job would be best for Jordan and for our family. At last, we made our choice and Jordan joined the Bonobos team, excited for a new adventure.

And Jordan has been very happy at Bonobos. He has great work to do, great people to work with, and a perfect remote work situation. Every once in a while, Jordan would think 'what if I'd chosen Homejoy?'  Like when his good friend who recruited him to Bonobos quit two weeks after Jordan started (!) Or, when we'd see headlines  popping up for Homejoy and its founders from the tech community.   So, not a what-if in a wishing way, but just in a curious 'what if?' sort of way.

And last week we saw a bit of where that what-if may have lead when we read the news that Homejoy was shutting down. What if Jordan had chosen Homejoy? He would be suddenly looking for a new job right now!

Later, we read that Google was taking on Homejoy's tech team. What if Jordan had chosen Homejoy? We would suddenly be deciding between a move to the Bay Area (since google isn't super remote work-friendly) or looking for a new job...

It seems like when you make these big choices, you don't often get to see where the other path may have taken you, so this has just been interesting to watch and see just a little bit of that.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Swim Lessons 2015

We just finished swim lessons for the summer today, and oh, it was fun!

Porter and I hung out upstairs while the kids had their lessons below. I watched the kids swim and read books to Porter (teddy bear more times?) in between his mini explorations (be right back?). And Porter was excited to find a few friends to play/crawl around with. Come? he'd ask the "babies" (to Porter, really anyone younger than about 4) and off they'd run or dance or crawl a minute at a time, racing back to mom in between, while we waited for the whistle to sound for the end of class.

Then we'd all head outside and swim for a while longer -- and I was amazed that for two weeks, I took all 4 children swimming almost every day and they're all still alive! I wouldn't have dared this in the past, but Landon has improved enough that I felt like he could be a little more independent as long as he stayed close. And Ellie and Owen were good buddies for each other and were great about staying in the touchable depth. Porter was panicked for the first few days (half about the water and half about the inflatable alligator floating nearby), but this week he would happily float around and splash and play.

Ellie and Owen stuck together in their class and practiced strengthening their brave muscles and putting their faces in the water (and both did even better than I had expected!)

Yesterday I looked down at Landon from above as he practiced his free style stroke across the pool with the instuctor and I was just amazed. He's gotten really good at this (better than me now!) What a joy to see him working hard and making such great progress and to just see his arms so strong and his legs moving him quickly through the water -- my little, not-so-little growing up Landon!

So, hooray for successful swim lessons and this happy part of summer.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

São Paulo sights: Brazil Part 11

We spent so much time before our trip working out how to get there and where to stay, that even a few weeks before our departure we hadn't really made any set plans about what to actually do when we finally made it to Brazil! Since none of us had been there to São Paulo before, here's what we did (mainly, that I can remember) to come up with our plans: 

* Jordan talked with a tutor at verbling and asked lots of general travel questions early on in our planning. 
* Just before we left, Jordan talked for a few hours with a friend of a friend of Kathie's who lives in São Paulo right now and got great recommendations on neighborhoods and restaurants and such. 
* I read all I could online. I searched for Brazilian mommy-blogs and Brazilian traveling-with-kids sites and also read lots of the trip advisor and frommers travel guides for ideas and tips.
* We talked a lot with Landon's teacher at school who moved here from São Paulo last year. She was a huge help to us!
* Winslow and Kathie took care of lots of the logistic kinds of things for us, like registering with the embassy there in case something happened, finding out about money and phones, getting information early on about health concerns/vaccinations (and reminding us to take care of those too)

And with all that, we came up with some great plans! Mostly we stuck with one thing each day, and that was just about right. 


We stayed right next to this main street in São Paulo, so we spent a bit of time along here. One of our first days though we just road the metro from our end of the street to the opposite end and walked back stopping at interesting spots along the way. (Like the beautiful park!)


This is a big bookstore along Avenida Paulista where we browsed for books and movies while the little ones had fun playing and reading inside this dragon. 


We spent a day here (more here) walking and biking and watching the kids play on many of the playgrounds and outdoor gyms.


I wrote all about it here A fun peak at the history of Brazil through the eyes of soccer-lovers.


peppers for Jordan! 
An introduction to all sorts of new tropical fruits we'd never seen or tasted. Like a permanent farmer's market, except enormous! (more here)


This is a shopping district right next to the Mercado Municipal. We walked through and were surprised most of all by the specialty stores available (like the hanger store above -- that picture is just about the entire store!) A hanger store, a cookie cutter store, a ribbon store (actually lots of ribbon stores), a belt store... We also saw a store that was one wall of kitchen utensils and containers and gadgets and  the opposite wall tools and saws and drills - a funny mix!

We met a member of the church with a little newspaper stand and loved her simple missionary efforts in sharing these magazines and books (the little note in front there said 'free')


A highlight of our trip was visiting this beautiful school, both for their international night activities and for a tour/time in class the following day.

And Jordan found a beautiful neighborhood nearby for us to walk through, plus a lovely park with pristine trails and playground!


This was just a fun and interesting neighborhood to explore. It was the first place where we really saw other families and parents with strollers. We'd read that we might find some dancing at the cafes or restaurants ("Samba Saturday") But though we didn't run into any dancing, we still enjoyed wandering and seeing the interesting street art :) And we stopped at a fun toy store here and brought home a few Brazilian games. 

A STREET BOOKSTORE (how's that for an unfancy heading)

I was really hoping to bring home lots of books and we found a great little outdoor book sale with cheaper books (especially with some bargaining). Owen and Porter curiously watched this tall man (on stilts) while we browsed the books.


More here. Looking at these pictures again reminds me just how beautiful the temple and also the churches and grounds were.


Sometimes we had to look more closely to catch the beauty of the buildings here (sometimes not, like above!) but there really were some beautiful spots in this neighborhood.

This building ("castle" in Ellie's words) was for sale and we joked that it could  be our next home.


One day our destination was to see the city sights from above at the Banespa Building. Unfortunately, we were a bit slow making our way there and by the time we arrived, the building was closed for the day. But, we still enjoyed all the sights to see on the way and loved the well-kept area all around it  (that sidewalk path through all the buildings gave the entire area such a cool feel). 

giant centavos!

Our happy crew (minus Jordan taking the picture). This cathedral was really quite beautiful. We stepped inside just for a moment, and got to show the kids the stained glass windows. And we saw sister missionaries teaching out in front (as well as a group gathered around close by with a very animated street preacher). 


If we hadn't had to pay a crazy amount on the taxi ride, I think we might have enjoyed our time here even more! :) Even so, this was a pretty cool place. They had tons of exhibits of every kind of snake you've ever heard of (and then many more!) with cool facts about each kind (like some who can 'see' with heat sensing - cool!)

The institute here also creates snake bite anti-venoms,  so we got to learn a little bit about how that whole process works (again, cool!) I hadn't known what a process it was (it takes months) or that each type of snake requires a different antivenom (so if you're bitten, it's super helpful to know what kind of snake bit you!)

While April and Landon and I were at the Serpentarium, the rest of our group stopped by the Sam's Club and Walmart next to our airport hotel (Yep, there's a Walmart even in Brazil!) and picked up some last minute treasures to bring home (like some maracuja concentrate, yum!) 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

buddies again

These boys have had a bit of a rough time getting along this summer. I think it took some getting used to just being together all day. And all of a sudden (or so it must have felt to Landon) Owen has his own opinion about things (where he used to just be very happy to go along with whatever the bigger kids were doing). 

So, I was so super happy yesterday to catch them a few times throughout the day playing together! A made up matching game with the go fish cards, a mini corner-to-corner back and forth bike ride, a mischievous together quite time. One more month of summer - I hope it will be filled with more and more playing time just like this!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Beautiful Brazil: Part 10

São Paulo
 There were so many beautiful things to see in Brazil. Some you had to look closely for (like the well-kept homes behind bars or walls), and some just popped out (like so many tropical flowers just above your our heads as we walked down the sidewalks).  So much green and growing and flowering. And walls covered, sometimes with scribbled graffiti, but also often with thoughtful paintings or colorful designs.  Bright beautiful buildings in bold colors, and carefully tiled mosaics...

Here are some bits and pieces of the lovely things we saw (in 1,000 pictures or less!)

Row buildings in blues and greens, black and white wall in Ibirapuera Park, this pink house! near our apartment that made me happy each time we walked by, triangle mural, street wall art, playhouse

Toy store design, colorful buildings (the white and black is "Deseret Brazil" near the temple!),  a mosaic map, mosaic steps, freeway art, subway art

Even the sidewalks were beautiful! (Sometimes  -  though also often crazily cracked and crooked :)

Bright, beautiful flowers (with photos by April)

So beautiful and interesting and strange! 

Beautiful backgrounds

So many lovely things -- I'm glad that I live in this beautiful world!

Friday, July 17, 2015

A few random things for Friday

These cute boys have been great little buddies this week. Owen has gotten out of morning jobs most days by taking care of Porter (which truly is a great help, and a happy time for both boys!) 

(Here's a video w/ more cuteness from this morning :)

In my recent decluttering, I finally let go of two little plates that my family had when I was a kid - 

Actually, nope. That's what it used to look like (photo courtesy of etsy), this was ours -  Ha!

One morning in Bear Lake, a few of the cousins in charge of breakfast made an enormous buffet with pretty much every breakfast-type food you can think of. Pancakes and eggs and sausage and bacon and biscuits and gravy and bananas and cantaloupe and toast and more that I can't remember :)

So, Landon made a plan for his own breakfast feast. He got everyone's orders the night before and then worked hard with Jordan to prepare his extra-special special breakfast for everybody. 

Ellie and Landon both took two art classes at the North Logan Library a few weeks ago - a few days of watercolor painting and a few days of oil pastels, plus a fancy art show at the end to show off their great work.

There was a mix-up at Lee's about fireworks and the manager was so super nice to give Jordan and Landon a gift card (plus an in-person apology!)  to clear things up. (We sure love Lee's!) Landon got to be in charge of picking out the fireworks and he and Jordan happily led our stay-up-late firework show.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Lunch crew

One of my goals this summer was to help the kids learn to cook a little more. This week I had each of the kids choose a lunch they'd like to be in charge of making. Owen picked out and made hotdogs and watermelon on Monday (with a bit of help). Today Landon made hamburgers and Thanksgiving style sweet potatoes ( with just a very little bit of help and mostly just direction).  I realized in the process that I don't think I've ever actually made hamburgers!

These boys did a great job and were super proud. Hooray for a successful idea!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Futebol! Brazil: Part 9

I never knew anything about soccer until Landon and our other kids started playing, and since then I've really grown to love it. It's so fun to watch, the soccer seasons here in Logan are the perfect time for enjoying the evenings outside, and the kids love to play.

And of course, we had to have some kind of futebol experience while we were in Brazil. Unfortunately, the timing didn't quite work out for us to see a match while we were there, but we still got to see how much Brazilians love soccer. 

(While I'm writing this, I can hear Ellie downstairs in quiet time,  playing pretend with the animals and guys, with one  saying emphatically to the other "Nao! Eu falo Portuguese!")

We visited the Museu de Futebol in São Paulo, inside one of their stadiums. While it was fun to learn more about Brazil's history with soccer and read/hear the interesting facts and fun details about the sport, it was really amazing to see the wonderful ways they displayed all of this information. Like an art gallery or design gallery with a soccer focus. It was really just super cool - I wish I had some pictures, but I probably couldn't have captured the cool-ness of it all anyway :)

One fun little thing - in one of the rooms they had several foosball tables all with different player set ups (like this one 4-2-4).

Other futebol fun -

* This FIFA scandal came out while we were there, and for the rest of our trip, it was all over the news. Every time we walked through the hotel lobby, FIFA was the headline broadcasting on their lobby television, and every news station was covering the story. (I just thought this was interesting because if we'd been at home, we probably wouldn't have even noticed a news story like this)

* Jordan was amazed at the International night that all of the teachers and parents let the boys play soccer alongside all the activities. There was a mesh divider between their soccer field part of the gym and all of the dance/musical numbers and food, but several times the ball would fly over the divider, and someone would just pass it back so their game could continue.

* Our hotel balcony looked out across a rooftop soccer court across from us, and we often saw kids out playing and practicing there.  Such a fun, unique sight!

Monday, July 13, 2015

All about food Brazil: Part 8 1/2


Our first night in São Paulo, we went to dinner at this per-kilo restaurant near our hotel. Per-kilo restaurants are pretty common there - it's just buffet style and you pay by weight.  (So this was a good first meal out, because everyone could choose how daring or how cautious they wanted to be!)  The restaurant workers here were great (and patient as Jordan tried to help everybody order :) and we stopped by several more times for odds and ends during our stay. (Every time we passed the restaurant as we were coming or going from our hotel, Owen would remark "There's the restaurant with the yellow and red chairs!")

Something interesting we learned right away - carbonated water is just about as common as regular bottled water. So, after one mistake here (and a surprising first drink), we remembered to order agua 'sem gas' (without carbonation). 

We were traveling in the off season, so I'd imagine during more busy times all these chair would be full. Even so, depending on what time of day we walked by the restaurant, we'd always see the tables and chairs in different configurations. Lunch is the main meal of the day in Brazil so from 12-3ish, the tables would be set out together ready for bigger groups. . From 3-5 or 6, the chairs would be stacked up like this (and the per-kilo items inside packed away), then for the evening, chairs and tables would be set out in smaller groups ready for couples to stop by for drinks or a light snack. 

We stopped for lunch at the mall one afternoon, and found this dining area with several waiters nearby to take your order (from several of the nearby restaurants). We ended up with orders from three different restaurants (which meant Jordan was working over time trying to translate requests for 9 people, then determine who each order belonged to, and finally trying to get all the bills straight when we finished!)

And the kids (especially this Porter!) were super excited to find McDonalds ice cream cones 
(I thought that ordering ice cream was a task I could handle, so I stood in line and planned out just how to make my order in Portuguese. The trouble came when I got to the front and made my order (one small vanilla ice cream cone, two twists, three chocolate or something like that) and their ice-cream machine was broken. I'm not very good at thinking in Portuguese for actual conversations (without time to plan out my next sentence!), but when I switched to 6 vanillas, I think he was glad for the simpler order he could actually understand from me :)

We splurged on an evening dinner at this Churrascaria (a Rodizio type restaurant). The kids were kind of mesmerized by the calm and quiet and just fancy atmosphere (and we loved it too!)

They served manioc fries (and several other french-fry kinds of things) on these silver platters and suddenly they were such a fancy dish! (And if they started to get cold, they would bring a new dish to replace them!)

I passed on the meats, but was super excited for my brave dish of the night -- salad with flowers! :)

We tried pastelles (I think that's the right name) at the Market Municipal - they were kind of like a wonton wrapper, filled with various things (hamburger above for Landon, ham & cheesee,  tomato & mozzarella...) They were a fun thing to try, but I think at this point most of us were feeling like we'd love more fresh/less fried foods :)

Ha! And we just had to snap a picture of this sandwich  (from another diner) and it's piles of meat! (We visited the Carnegie Deli on our first trip to New York about 10 years ago, and I think that's the last time I saw a sandwich made this way!) (And I hadn't noticed all the cleaning supplies when we took the picture... I'm not sure what the story was there!)

My favorite meal! This is so funny, but I was just crazy about this food.  I think I told Jordan at least 5 times that night how much I loved dinner.  (Grilled chicken, brown rice, carrots, plain lettuce and grilled pineapple -- plus a few bites of Jordan's passionfruit dessert) I think I was ready for some plain old foods with regular flavors that I was familiar with :)

And Jordan's meal the same night (A little bit of everything!)

One afternoon in São Paulo, we set out to explore the Bela Vista neighborhood (a traditional Italian neighborhood). Following our maps, we thought we should be just about there, but we turned the corner to see more and more of this style rather than any obvious Italian style...

But we kept walking just a little more, and then found a lovely area with a super fun Italian restaurant.

They had a delicious Italian buffet with unique pastas and a white sauce lasagna and good breads and salads and fun passionfruit mousse... 

And this waiter just the made the experience so fun. He stood by our table for most of the meal talking and visiting (mostly with Jordan, but he knew enough English to talk with everyone too) "Oh yeah! Utah Jazz!" he said about our hometown :)

After we left and were planning our next route, he came outside (having just finished his shift) in jeans and t-shirt and stopped to visit again for a few minutes. "I was just enchanted with you guys!" he said.  :) 

Such a fun time!

On our day trip to Rio, we got to the Botanical Gardens well past lunch time and we would have stopped to eat at any kind of restaurant we could find. Fortunately, the garden had a lovely French cafe where we enjoyed some delicious sandwiches and Pão de Chocolat.

A perfectly named restaurant for our bike-loving family. 

In Florianopolis, we visited this restaurant right at the shore. Jordan and April decided to be daring and try out "the sequence". When Jordan tried to order some black beans to go along with the meal, the waiter said (basically) "no, no! It's too much food!" And it definitely was too much! Pretty much if you can think of a sea food or a way to prepare a sea food, it was included. Shrimp, breaded and fried, crab cooked two ways, fish cakes, squid, cockle pastry, oysters cooked two ways, mussels, tainha...
The rest of us ordered chicken and rice (!)  A funny thing - almost all of the grilled chicken we ordered in Brazil was very well-cooked. Super-duper well cooked. :)

Such a beautiful place to spend the evening and enjoy a fun meal.

Porter trying (and liking!)  fried squid

Landon playing right behind the restaurant while we waited for our check

We stopped for gelato at the Downtown market in Florianopolis, and Kathie got some delicious passionfruit (maracuja) gelato. (Maracuja was our favorite flavor discovery of the trip!)

Another sea-side restaurant at Joaquina Beach. And another incredible view --

(Except for the time when I was panicking that Landon would fall off the other side of these rocks while Jordan and the kids explored as we waited for our food)

The last night of our trip, we ordered pizza at the hotel (which was a lot like the other Brazilian pizzas we had tried...) But, the dessert pizza was a hit! 

There were always little shops nearby with 'salgados' and we often stopped  to grab a snack of coxinas or pão de queijo. We make both of these at home so it was fun to have something Brazilian but still familiar. Landon especially loved the coxinas and loved getting to stop for a snack on our out and about adventures. (Coxina's are on the top row in the middle - the tear dropped shape. They have shredded chicken w/ a cream cheese kind of filling inside, wrapped in dough and then  rolled in bread crumbs and fried).