Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Summer School Time

This year for summer school, Landon asked if we could study countries from the around the world. 'School time' didn't happen every day (or most days even) but it was just right for fitting in on the afternoons when we didn't already have other things going on. It was super fun learning about different places in the world. Also,  I am terrible with geography, so this was really very good for me too!

Here's what we did:

I made some quick little books (the bright green above) for Landon and Ellie. For each country, we'd check out a book or two at the library and I'd read them beforehand and pick out what things to talk about. (We also used  Passport to the World for some extra facts). Landon and Ellie each had a couple of turns as the teacher too. So for school time, we'd sit at the kitchen table and we'd talk about some of the interesting things I/they had learned. A few times we watched a quick video about the country or read some 'day in the life' facts.

I had printed out little info sheets to fill in for each country (but I can't find where I originally found them!) So after we talked about the country, the kids would color in the flag and write down the basic facts, then cut and glue those pages into their own little books. Then they had writing choices to finish off that page (write a few facts, practice their penmanship, write a question, write a story...) On the other page, they'd draw a few pictures relating to the country (sometimes I'd teach them how to draw something as part of that) and then they'd write about what they drew.

And that was it - easy peasy. :)

Owen usually worked on a little pre-k workbook while we did school time. Which usually worked out great. (Though some days if Porter woke up early/gumpy from nap time and Owen was also needing extra help, then school time could get a little crazy...)

Mostly, this was just a fun happy little part of our summer!

Here are a few of my favorites from the kids:

from Ellie, I love the soccer picture and even more her description below!

Landon's - he loved making the country names so fancy :)

funny thing - we watched a short tourist video about South Africa and Ellie was completely enchanted - "I want to go there!" Until Landon got out some of his animal fact sheets to tell us about some of the animals that live in South Africa - the black mamba and a crazy kind of army ants... then Ellie was not so confident about visiting!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Reading lately

Soon after we signed Landon up for soccer this summer, they changed practice times so that they started right at Porter's bedtime. We worried for a bit, but then decided I'd just take Landon on my own,  and Jordan could put Porter to bed and have some quiet evenings with Owen and Ellie at home. Once games got started, it was still usually easier for me to just take Landon so we've mostly done that. And it has been so fun for me! I've taken my kindle or a book and had such a great time sitting outside on lovely evenings, reading fun books during warmups and drills, and watching Landon play his scrimmages and games. Such a treat! Here are my latest soccer-time and other time books --

How we got to Now  I loved this. It was full of so many interesting connections in history and made me want to learn more about lots of things. Lots of unexpected connections -- some were a bit of a jump but still so fun to follow,  like how did the Gutttenberg press lead to the invention of the miscroscope? Quick interview here.

Penny from Heaven A quick kids book about an Italian family after WWII. I'd never heard anything about Italian Internment during the war, so that was a surprise to me.

Heartbeat I love Sharon Creech, and I loved this quick read -- and oh! how she had just perfect the wonder of that first little baby heartbeat sound you hear!

The Wright Brothers I'm excited to read more of David McCullough's books - this was so fun. (I wrote more about it here)

The Boys in the Boat This was a perfect soccer time book because I could mostly just put it down for a few days between practices and pick it up again without it driving me crazy. (Except near the end, then I just had to see how everything was going to work out). And I loved it. It had one of my favorite kinds of stories of overcoming obstacles and doing amazing things, along with a super interesting perspective on what was happening in Germany at the time.

The Well-Rested Mother A friend in our ward wrote these sweet, funny little stories of every day life as a mom - very fun.

The Romney Family Table I read/skimmed the first half of this one morning while the boys played on the slide at the North Logan Library after story time. I like the Romneys so it was just a fun little glimpse into what there (very normal) life was like, especially when their children were young.

Outliers Another interesting book!  I liked his general idea that individuals who go on to do amazing things with their lives typically aren't doing it on their own -- that they have people and circumstances and culture all helping them along the way.

Leadership and Self-deception A friend recommended this. I had a hard time getting past the kind of cheesy wording ("are you in-the-box or out-of-the-box"?) but it had a good message about considering our motivations and why we do certain things.

Jane Eyre This was September's book club book. I'd put it off for a while and then when I finally started it, I was hooked and probably neglected my family more than I should have until I finished it. (What's the solution to that? I love good stories, but haven't yet found how to break away from them without just going crazy till I finish. I have the same problem with sewing projects!)

Being Mortal Oh my goodness. I just finished this today and probably need a few more days to just think about it. It was kind of terrifying. And also fascinating. And so sad, but also just very insightful and even hopeful... A surgeon's (developing) view on death and the process of dying and what the best ways are to approach mortality as doctors and individuals and as a society. Such interesting but hard things to think about!

Monday, September 28, 2015

reading time/ the weekend

We were out late on Thursday night, and Owen was super sad to have missed all of their reading time before bed. Trying to calm him down, I told him something like "tomorrow, we will have plenty of time to read a great big stack of books." So Friday morning, he woke up and started emptying our bookshelves and making a truly great big stack of books. We worked through them, and Jordan even helped with extra reading time during his lunch break, but we still managed to make it through just a medium sized stack by the end of the day. (This was a fun goal though and it helped me stay focused on using even the little minutes in between to squeeze in another book with Owen instead of getting distracted by something not-so-important.)

Also fun this weekend:

There is a big grassy/hilly  area by the hospital that we ride by a lot on our bikes and the kids always want to stop to play. Friday night, we made it our destination. We rode down and picked up dinner then went to the grassy spot for a picnic and playtime. Jen & Ethan and Grandma Maureen even came to join us for a bit and got to watch the kids run timed races around the loop.

I spent Saturday down in Provo running a few errands and visiting with family at Danielle's baby shower - fun!

While I was gone, Jordan and the kids had a fun morning/afternoon on their own...until Jordan got hit in the eye with a super fast/hard nerf dart and spent the rest of the day (and half of Sunday) unable to open his eyes! Landon took charge helping out and all the kids were healthy and happy when I arrived late Saturday night - phewph!

Since I had nerf guns on my mind Saturday (and I was traveling all day and didn't have much time to plan a singing time lesson...), we did a fun nerf game in primary and nursery where the kids got to shoot the board (with songs taped/written up)  and we'd sing whatever song they hit closest too.

Friday night, Landon planned a mini carnival for our family and did an awesome job with a money race, a long jump and a counting/guessing game contest. Complete with quickly made poster advertisements and an official circus announcers voice throughout, it was a fun quick little activity.

Friday, September 25, 2015

this quilt/questions

Funny Porter testing out the newly made quilt for his baby girl cousin-to-be.

Here's the finished quilt project!
I tried to piece together a top with colorful soft flannels but it wasn't turning out so well. So then I had the brilliant idea to make my own design and have it printed.

And when that fabric arrived, oh I loved it! I just wanted to fold it and unfold it and lay it out on the ground, and on my cutting board, and across the couch, and just touch it and feel it (except, it was a bit scratchy/stiff) But so beautiful -- I just loved (and still love) it!

And I tried to be so, so careful cutting everything out and I used lots and lots of pins to hold things all together. And I even used a super simple pillowcase binding (fool proof, right?)

So I was discouraged when it still didn't turn out quite as perfectly as I'd wished. Still, I prayed a lot of love into it so as a baby gift I think it will be perfect still. :)

I just loved this fabric so much that I think I might even try again sometime. But here's what I need to figure out first: 

What can I do so that the fabric doesn't bunch up at all the intersections when I'm quilting it? Is the batting too thick? Or just not the right kind? A tension issue with my machine? Not enough pins? Or should I try the spray basting stuff (if so, when do I use that? before or after sewing the edges and turning it inside out?)  What's the secret? Also, and less important,  how do you soften new not-so-soft cotton?  (I tried adding baking soda to the wash and it seemed to help a little...)

Imperfections and all, I just love that I could make a little design on the computer and turn that into a baby quilt. That process and the possibility of it still amazes me. 

(And a funny side story, speaking of trouble with machine quilting -- When my sister Kel had her first baby, Jaden,  I was working on making a little quilt for him. Halfway through I could see it wasn't going to turn out so well, but somewhere along the way little toddler Owen had decided this soft car blanket was for him, so I just kept going and thought I'd let Owen enjoy the lumpy-bumpy mess of a blanket for a little while. So a few days later, we went down to visit Kel (and deliver a new not-so lumpy blanket :)  and we spent a few days doing some fun activities and such  down near Salt Lake.  And somewhere on that trip Owen misplaced his new mis-shapen, crazily sewn blanket. And whenever I think of it, I just wonder where in the world that funny thing ended up! (And maybe a little glad that Owen didn't have a longer time to get too attached...)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

First Day of Fall Party

A few weeks ago, Ellie made some detailed plans for a First day of Fall party, and yesterday was the big day! I helped Ellie with inviting her friends ("just two people, and they have to be younger than me since I'm the one helping everyone do the games") and helped her keep track of when it was time to move on to the next activity, but Ellie really stayed in charge :)

They played Fall Bingo (with candy corn!)

Fishing for shapes behind the couch (with a bungee cord + clothespin fishing line)

Then the 'egg snack game' ("We set out the eggs that are full of little tiny snacks and then everyone gets three turns to throw a wipe at the eggs and whichever egg it lands on, they get to keep it and eat the snacks inside!")

And apple ring toss (to me as we were getting things ready, "I already picked the apples and I made some rings out of pipe cleaners and you know how to play ring toss!")

Then coloring ("everyone can just color whatever they want!") and a snack of crackers and cheese and apples. Then reading time with a Fall book, and we were done! 

I sure love this sweet Ellie and her carefully made plans and preparations. I had a hard time giving the final 'okay' for her party, but it turned out to be a fun and happy little time. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

the dice game

One day last week Owen spotted this giant dice up at the top of Porter's closet and asked if we could play with it. We got it out and played the dice game for our preschool time that day, and for the last week Owen has been playing it almost every day with anyone he can find to join him.

(We take turns rolling the giant dice, then record which number was rolled, and keep going to see which number wins)

It is just cardboard and duct tape and paper, but I've kept this dice up at the top of one closet or another for more than 10 years now because it just has such a sweet memory for me.

When Jordan and I got married, I was twenty years old, teaching middle school full time (floundering through my first year)  and also going to school full-time finishing my last year at BYU. (Jordan proposed on one of the first few days of school... I think he once said he thought if he waited much longer I'd be too wrapped up in my own crazy life!)

When we were dating, I was in school full time, working in the Engineering Advisement Center, and teaching summer school for my summer practicum. The coordinators had worked hard to create a curriculum for us to use as we worked on helping our small classes improve their reading skills and such. Except that my little group turned out to be extra little and were not quite ready for the curriculum that been developed. So each day I'd come up with a plan for the next day of what and how to teach these sweet 5 and 6 year olds. Which meant that each day, I'd wake up super early and head to Spanish Fork to teach. Then I'd go to work through the afternoon,  classes through the evening, and homework and lesson planning till I could no longer stay awake.

And sweet Jordan found whatever chance he could to be a part of those back-to-back busy days. :)

These dice were just one of many late night projects he stayed up helping me with. I can remember spreading out all of my work across the front room floor of my Alta apartment and working with Jordan there beside me helping in whatever way he could (like making the giant dice) until curfew hit and he'd have to go and I'd finish up alone through the late night hours.

I remember at some point in our marriage (probably related to new baby sleeplessness) thinking something like 'how can Jordan put up with me always so tired and frazzled...?'  and then thinking 'that's the only way he's ever known me!' :)

So it's been fun and happy to have this little reminder out of my sweet Jordan and how he's always loved so much to help me however he can. And fun to have this sweet little thing be such a happy thing for Owen too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


I sat in bed early this morning, resting with Porter and heard the sweetest sounds of Landon practicing the piano. Combined with yesterday's end-of-lesson exclamation of"I love piano lessons!" and I'll say that our first day of piano lessons was a success. (Also, I had so much fun!)

I kept thinking yesterday afternoon about what a lot of help I have and need and am grateful for. Sitting down to teach Landon, a neighbor who comes to help me with cleaning twice a month was just finishing up. A girl from down the street had arrived to play with and watch Porter and Owen (and our friends from across the street) climbing trees and swinging and playing in the front yard so I could focus on piano. Landon finished his lesson and I taught Ellie while the boys happily played with McCall and Landon set off on an entrepreneurial mission with his friend Will (which I didn't learn about till he came home to tell how they made $2.67 selling plums they had picked at the park to the neighbors...) 

Sometimes (lots of times) I want to be the mom who can just do all the things. But today I'm just feeling grateful for all the good people in our lives and the blessing they are to our family! (And for such a happy start to piano lessons too!)

{Also, speaking of kind helping -- we were making some changes with our phones and I ended up unexpectedly without a phone for a few days. Winslow spent all evening yesterday working through the issues with the phone company and I was so excited to wake up bright and early this morning and see a text had come through and my phone was back in service!}

Monday, September 21, 2015

Piano Lessons (here we go!)

Just turned two Landon playing the piano
I'm finally starting piano lessons with Ellie and Landon this afternoon. The plan was always to start teaching them when Landon was about 5 or 6... but it just hasn't happened yet. Till now! A girl from the ward is going to come over every Monday to watch and play with Owen and Porter while Ellie and Landon each have their piano lessons with me. And I'm excited. Even though I taught piano for a year or two, it has been long enough that I've felt so nervous about getting started (I just can't seem to remember what/how I taught then!)But I put together little practice books for the kids yesterday, and reviewed the first lesson last week, so we'll see how it all goes!

And a few fun piano lesson memories from when Landon was a toddler:

I taught one little girl (7/8) who came one day and was so excited and flustered. "I haven't been able to sleep all week!" she said. Followed by (something like) Halloween is in 2 weeks and my cousins are visiting next week and my birthday is in 16 days!!!"

Little Landon (at one-year-old) loved this Emma. One of his first spontaneous words was out in our front yard, watching her leave to head back home after piano lessons, and he cried out "Emma!!"

I taught three little 5 year old boys. One of them would wait on the couch while I taught his sister and I'd often glance over in the living room to see him standing on his head on the couch with his feet flopped over the back. (Good preparation for when my own boys got to be that age!)

I taught one teenager from our ward, and it was so fun to learn along with her. I'd never learned any kind of technique, so I was usually just a week ahead of her - studying the lesson throughout the week so that I could learn the material well enough to teach her when lesson time came!

Friday, September 18, 2015

condo report

Years ago, when Landon was just a baby, we bought a condo in Provo. We were living in our duplex (happily) and I can't remember exactly what our thinking was in wanting to buy a rental property and become landlords right then, but I know it had something to do with the general feel that prices were going up so quickly and now was the time to buy if we wanted to. (We've been happy with the purchase, but you can imagine that maybe our thoughts weren't exactly accurate!)

In August of 2012, we decided that we wanted to try to pay off our mortgage on the condo in three years. So we made up and printed a little spreadsheet full of boxes (not so little though - 6 pages of little boxes!). And every month when we made an extra payment, we'd check off those little boxes and got closer and closer to our goal.

The initial difference in the life of our loan was amazing. I scribbled little notes in the margins, things like "4 months of extra payments = 5 years earlier payoff!" This was super exciting. We knew that even if our financial situation changed and we had to change our goal or even halt our progress, we'd still be saving ourselves tons of money in interest over all.

Last week, just one month behind our original timeline, we made our last payment!

(And actually, there were times over those three years where we had to debate things like 'should we do such and such a thing and push back our condo payoff one month?' and sometimes we said no, and sometimes we said yes. In the end we were able to make up for the pushed back months with tax returns/raises/etc.)

So hooray for a long-term plan that we actually stuck with, hooray for those 6 pages of little boxes all checked off, and hooray for a completed goal!

(And even more, hooray for the amazing work Jordan does, the wonderful jobs he's had that he enjoys so much and is so good at, and the enormous blessing of having the necessities of life.)

Also, a few fun notes about the picture above: that's my budget notebook where I (depending on what else is happening in life and how on top of things I am) keep track of all our finances, etc. The pencil is one of Jordan's all-time favorites. He's used  a couple of those since before we even started dating (and kept track of them all these years!) and finally just ordered himself a couple more. And, that green wallet is my favorite. It was a birthday gift from my Aunt Eileen when I was a teenager. I thought it was 'too grown up' but at some point I guess I grew into it and for years now it's just been something that just makes me happy!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

yesterday, today, tomorrow

"take a picture with me next to the pumpkin!"
YESTERDAY (a few things)

- We got new couches! Which meant our old couches headed downstairs to the basement room. Which meant that I spent all morning arranging and rearranging couches and bookcases and a super heavy dress-up clothes dresser until my arms were like Jello (but a sore, muscles-aching kind of Jello) and I couldn't move a single thing another inch. Which meant that our basement room was left in a complete jumble until Jordan saved the day and got everything arranged just right.

- Landon's soccer game was canceled (maybe a flooded field with all this rain?!) so instead the kids and I met some friends at Whittier Park (a new favorite playground).

- I gave up on my awesome quilt idea. (boo.) I had in mind a nice flat/thin quilt, but the combination of the thick (but so cute!) flannel + lots of seams combining all the pieces + not perfectly measured or cut or sewn triangles was equalling kind of a lumpy thick messy top.

- I got started with a new awesome quilt idea. (yay!) I've had this beautiful quilt on my mind for a while and I decided to try something similar. So I designed my own triangle fabric and got it ordered and now I'm crossing my fingers that my second try will be more successful than my first!

TODAY (a few things)

- I went grocery shopping with the little boys this morning, which I love. And we bought a pumpkin (above), even though it's not October.

- I almost slacked off from my morning walk. But we returned from grocery shopping and the air was so fresh and cool outside, and inside our heater had kicked in (which I love on snowy days in December, but don't love with it's first few starts in the Fall when it still smells like a heater...). So off we went, and what a beautiful Fall morning walk we had.

- I made Cluff rolls and mini cheesecakes for my last NAMI class tonight. (Do you want to know more about family-to-family? I'd be happy to tell you! :)

- Jordan and I are going on a date tonight (with a babysitter and everything!) We're going to go and walk through a few houses in the parade of homes - I'm excited!

- And I'm excited for homework time (!) We've found a great routine this week. The little boys watch Caillou  and we set a timer so Ellie and Landon each get 20 minutes of focused Mom time. And it's super fun for me. Ellie's excited to finish her book about Hurricanes and Landon is having fun showing off/practicing his math skills.

TOMORROW (a few things)

- Our calendar is mostly clear! There was a time when I worked hard to try to fit one thing on my calendar each day (when Landon was a baby/toddler). Now I'm always so excited to have a clear or mostly clear day!

- Jordan is going camping in Green Canyon with the scouts (His first camp out as a leader!)  And I'm planning on a movie party with the kids to celebrate our new and improved basement family room.

- And we'll see what else the day brings!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


"Think of having a garden-- to dig and smell and put new slips into and-- garden gloves! Old grubby ones, but still, what they do suggest!" (from Bring me a Unicorn)
We have had two days of rain, rain, rain and I'm just so happy for our little garden! We've reached that point in the summer where I sometimes forget about our veggies (which is silly since now is the time when we can use them at last!) Ellie has had 3 or 4 giant zucchini in the last few weeks that have overgrown between our now more spread-out watering days.

This year's garden has had: lots of zucchini (which we've loved), a few sunflowers, lots of pat-a-pan squash, a few yellow squashes, and lots of tomatoes. (and one serving of green beans... with maybe more to come?)

And a lesson in patience. I planted one full garden box (and another half, I think) with green beans near the middle of June, along with the sunflowers, squashes, and corn (don't plan corn mid-June, ours was knee high while everyone else was harvesting :)

Within a couple of weeks a few green bean plants were popping up (maybe 3 or 4) and Landon's sunflowers  in one garden box were growing but Ellie's in another were not. So, we kept watering and weeding and watching for a few more weeks. Finally mid-July or so I gave up and stopped watering. And then another month or so later, mid-August,  with no watering or care,  up came little green bean and sunflower shoots! I don't know enough about plants to know if that was normal, but it was just such a fun surprise to see these plants I'd given up on decide to grow after all!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


"happiest afternoon" from a year or so ago :) 

This weekend, our ward had a dinner party to celebrate 100 years of Family Home Evening. I was helping out with a little primary musical number and was asked to lead everyone in the closing song "The Family is of God". As we sang about 'a father's role', I looked out and saw one of the Dad's in the ward tossing his little girl up in the air with delight. Then as we sang about ' a mother's purpose', I looked around and saw a sweet mom, just surrounded happily by her little ones + teenagers. It was a sweet moment to see in action the truth of those words, and think of what a gift a strong and loving family is.

 I've thought a lot these last few days of just how lucky my children are to have each other. They fight, of course. I wish there was a magic cure for that. But they help each other and love each other and I love to see those little moments -- Landon and Owen being "super mario bro workers", Ellie reading to Owen at bedtime, or any of the kids playing with or laughing with little Porter. I love these kiddos and I'm so happy they have each other!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Owen/Ellie school

One evening last week I came home from an errand right around bedtime, and I found this little set up of Ellie's favorite animals lined up with Owen at the fireplace. To my question of what they were doing, Ellie answered with teacher-authority from the couch "we're having school!" (And although Owen looks a little sad above, that was really a face of serious focus I think :) When I suggested it was jammie time, they quickly wrapped things up. From Ellie to Owen  "let's just pretend it's the end of the school day "Okay class it's time to get ready to go home..."

Ellie loves making homework for Owen and helping/encouraging him through it. He finished his Ellie-made math page and Ellie came to show me and celebrate what a great job he'd done. (Owen loves this too, and takes his assignments pretty seriously)

One day this week as we went through Ellie's homework, she had some sight word cards to cut out and practice, but they were words she had mastered so I asked if she wanted me to toss them. Right away, her response was "Keep it - I'll use them with Owen." I love that without even thinking about it she was getting ready for a future Owen/Ellie school time lesson.

Also, Owen and I have been doing some fun preschool time activities. We're still getting into the swing of things and figuring out our routines. But so far, we've set aside 15-30 minutes just after quiet time and before Porter wakes up and we go pick up the big kids from school.  We do some little activity to practice counting or adding or letter matching or sounds. Letter and number puzzles or blocks or quickly drawn up games. It's been perfect so far and Owen is starting to really look forward to our little preschool time together.

Landon and Ellie had an early out day from school today. We finished up lunch/after school snack then Porter went to nap,  Landon raced off to play with a friend and Ellie and Owen were excited to head downstairs for together quiet time. Four happy children.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Jane Eyre + piano bench train time

This morning, we rode with the big kids to school, went for our walk/Owen bike ride,  then came home to do our morning jobs. We finished up, had our morning snack,  and then before I turned on 'Jake-a-pirates' and  hopped in the shower, I sat down to read for  'just a few minutes'.  (I realized earlier this week that I hadn't yet started Jane Eyre and our book group was meeting on Friday - I finally got a kindle version just before Landon's soccer game last night and read for a few minutes while they warmed up, but I still have a long way to go!)

So I thought I was sitting down to read a few pages or so, but  then I got to read all the way till lunch! These boys just played and played and played. I got up every once in a while to check out a cool trick or creation or help with sharing, etc. But Porter and Owen just had a fun morning -- an uno card game, dominos, houses made of books, a piano bench train (above), cars... I was so happily surprised at their happy play!

I obviously love playing/working/reading with these kiddos, but it was fun for one day to stay in my pjs reading a good book through the morning too!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

special breakfast

Labor Day morning we set out to pick up ingredients for a fun breakfast by bike. An hour (or more) later we were finally on our way! We had little bike repairs to be made (a new inner tube, seat adjustments, handle-bar straightening...) Also,  all of a sudden it had gotten cold! We kept taking trips back inside to search through the winter boxes for one more thing - thicker gloves for Owen, a scarf for Ellie, ear warmers...) But at last we made it on our way!

And we had a great ride downtown with stops at Lee's (for orange juice and hash browns) and Lowe's (for better swing attachment supplies) and Kneaders (for their special cinnamon bread). Then back home again and we made a delicious french toast breakfast.  While we worked on breakfast, Landon set the table and made it just as fancy as he could. Glasses with straws, our fanciest table cloth, even little cups of whip cream and strawberries for each person, just like at the restaurant :) Landon sure has a talent for making things special and fun.

It took us until about 11:00 to sit down to breakfast, but it was sure a sweet and happy meal to prepare!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

the train bike / how Porter was mobbed by a dozen kindergarteners :)

A Green Canyon ride last summer
When I go to pick up the kids from school, I'll usually wait for Ellie out near where the kindergarteners are waiting for their bus. Since I'm riding the train bike (my electric bike + a tag-along + a trailer), kids will often stop to check it out "I've never seen a bike like that before!"  For a couple of days, there were also two little boys that would peak in to say hello to Porter in the trailer, which was pretty cute.

On Friday though, those two little boys came over to look in at Porter "There's a baby in there! Look at the cute baby in there!"  And then pretty soon there were three, then four kindergarteners trying to catch a look from Porter. Then five, then six...  Ellie arrived and I went to open up the trailer so she could hop in, and suddenly there were seven, eight, nine... a full crowd of bus-waiting kindergarteners just dying to see inside and look at this "cute baby"! And sleepy little Porter, still waking up from his nap at home just stared out at everyone,  totally unsure of what all this fuss could be about. Ellie stood back by me at my bike (where I was holding it up since it's pretty topply on it's own and much more so when swarmed by little ones!) With so many kids circling the trailer, Ellie didn't quite know what to do or how to make her way to her spot. And Owen meanwhile had just been watching the growing scene in surprise, especially when a few of the kindergarteners started taking turns in his spot on the train bike!

I finally decided we better go before one of my three wide-eyed children turned from surprised to worried so I kindly sent everyone a few steps back and off we went -- phewph! Such a funny after school pick-up day!

Friday, September 4, 2015


I've seen some beautiful quilt ideas lately that I've just not been able to stop thinking about -- this rainbow one and this triangle one and these two that I love so much! I finally had to jump in and make one too. And I have a fun excuse for a pinks and purples, baby size blanket -- my brother Dan and his wife Danielle are going to have a baby girl in just a few months!

Just looking at the bolts of soft fuzzy pinks all lined up in my cart made me so happy while I waited at the cut counter.

I hadn't yet decided on a plan for sure until I sat down with my washed fabrics and some scissors. But triangles it is! Owen helped lay them out as I cut so I'd know when I had just about enough for a quilt top. (This is my favorite way to sew - let's just see what happens and hope it turns out wonderfully.)

It's been a while since I've tackled a project like this and I'm excited!

Thursday, September 3, 2015


Earlier this summer, Jordan took the kids out on errands one afternoon and came home excited about a new game. Two days later, Imperial Assault arrived on our door step and it wasn't long before both Jordan and Landon were hooked. For the last several weeks, they've had a permanent space set up in Jordan's downstairs office/exercise room so they can jump into a game whenever they have some free time. (Or, whenever mom's gone in the evening and Landon can convince Jordan to let him stay up late to play!) 

We've talked a lot with the kids (in general) about being a good sport when you're playing a game, whether you're winning or losing. But suddenly Landon was winning a lot and Jordan realized just how hard it can be to be a good sport when they get your best guys!  or other tricky situations. So they've both worked hard at winning and losing gracefully Every once in a while they've had to set some breaks for themselves, one of which they've had for the last week or so -- 'let's take a break and not play until the expansion pack arrives.' (And Jordan may have purposely avoided prime shipping on this order...)  But, Landon told me this morning, "It's Thursday, right? The expansion pack is coming today FedEx!

Also, I mostly took that picture at the top just because I love so much to watch Landon play. Truly, catching him just playing like this is one of my favorite things. 

Landon + dinosaurs NYC apartment 2009 / Landon + cheetahs Brazil subway 2015

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

After school snacks

One of the unexpected downsides I found with our treat plan earlier in the year was how much I missed surprising the kids with chocolate chip cookies or other treats for after school snacks. For one, I often remember the advice I heard from a Mom of boys: "If you feed them, they will come" And somehow (no matter how delicious I think they are), I don't think she was talking about spinach smoothies or carrot sticks with hummus ;) 

We've still been following our treat plan - generally. It doesn't come up very often really, and every once in a while we break the rules and don't worry about it. Sometimes though I feel like, wouldn't it just be more wonderful to have a warm plate of cookies always waiting on the counter? But more often I feel like I want to help my kids be healthy and strong and have good habits of eating delicious, nutritious foods... 

Either way, I do love this after school snack time and want it to be a happy few minutes of welcome home, so I'm still working on figuring things out for after school snacks, but here's what I've found so far: 

Serving a regular old snack in a new or fancy way helps me (and the kids) feel like this is something special. Yesterday, we had crackers and cheese and apples but I put all the options in a little veggie tray w/ tiny little toothpick signs and suddenly it was fancy and fun (plus the "Dove Chocolate, please take 1" probably added to the fun... see? Sweets still mean yay! look at this fun surprise... hmm.)

Having a snack where the kids are helping to prepare a little bit means they'll stay a little bit longer and maybe share a little more about their days before they're ready to be off to the next thing. We tried out this idea from Design Mom and the kids loved it. Another favorite that we've repeated already was a yogurt bar with some fresh fruits and granola and cereal for the kids to all make their own special yogurt. 

Any other brilliant ideas for me?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

On to Florianopolis: Brazil Part 13

After about 10 days in São Paulo, and our day trip to Rio, we headed to the airport and made our way to beautiful Florianopolis. 

Something that we loved about traveling in Brazil was the (required) preference given to not only people with disabilities, but also seniors, pregnant women, and mothers (or fathers I suspect) with young children. 

Maybe because this is their law, it also seems to be just a part of their culture. For example, people were so kind on subways and buses and almost always stood up to give a seat to one of us with the kids if there was space. At the airport, when the attendants would see our big group, they opened up a new lane just for us (this could be also that they knew other passengers wouldn't love waiting while they checked in 9 foreign passengers... :) Even the grocery stores had special lines (and as a mom with young children I thought this was pretty great!)

We landed after a short flight, and even got to enjoy a movie-star style departure down the steps attached to the plane!
Another interesting airport note: one (or more?) of our flights had us take a bus from the terminal where we were waiting directly out to the airplane. 

We arrived to find our two tiny rental cars waiting for us :) (and a friendly tour van driver who volunteered to chauffer our belongings and led the way to our rental house)

These guys kept themselves happily entertained while the grownups worked on checking in and getting everything with the cars all settled and situated. Then off we went...

To this lovely place! After researching what we could about Florianopolis, we narrowed down our housing search to the Jurerê  neighborhood. (We found this house using We knew that Jurerê was one of the nicer areas of Florianopolis, but we didn't know exactly what that would mean (would it be modern? more rural? fancy or not-so-fancy?)  It turned out to be a very beautiful neighborhood with lots of really great homes with beautiful (gated, not walled!) yards  (though we still had some Brazilian wildlife: ants, mosquitios, a bat, something that loved to scurry around the roof above our room,  and even a cockroach (but just one, hooray!) Still it turned out to be a really great place to stay :)

Our street!

Lots of space to visit and relax and eat and play

And a great pool out front that the kids swam in nearly every day of our stay!

Up next: all the beaches and other Florianopolis fun