Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ice Skating

I took the kids ice skating for the first time over Christmas Break (or some time near that). The big kids all had fun skating while Porter had fun playing in the bleacher chairs with me. And something about it felt so nice -- I think just that I haven't done little things like that much because for a long time even an ice skating trip felt like a big thing and a hard thing that was just too much for me. So it was just really great to have that little outing and have it just be a fun.

We went back to the ice skating rink this morning as one of our Spring Break activities and the kids all had a great time again. I was so impressed with how often they could fall down and just get right back up with smiles on their faces. Ellie especially surprised me, asking not to use a walker today "because if I always use that, I'll never learn to skate on my own".  She stuck to the wall at first and carefully made her way around once or twice. Then she started back and forth across the center of the ice counting her falls and happily reporting them to me with fingers raised (3 this time, 2, only 1!).  One of her first falls was a big one and I watched anxiously for her to sit up with tears, but right away she untangled herself and looked up at me with a great big smile on her face then off she went again. It was so wonderful to watch these kids working so hard and trying so hard, arms flailing, knees bent inward, wobbling and all but having such fun!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Reading Lately

When You Reach Me - A fun story with a little bit of time travel and lots of Wrinkle in Time connections. It was fun to think through how all the details work together and try to make sense of it.

Long Walk To Water - The most amazing thing to me about this book was that it was a current book. Reading it I felt like I was reading a story of 'a long time ago' but it was all based on real and very recent accounts. (A great book, but not  particularly kid-friendly,  by the way)

To My Friends - I've read this a little at a time over the last few months and I've loved it. I really love Elder Holland and had read most of the talks included, but enjoyed reading them all again.

Small Steps - I remembered how much I liked Holes and thought I'd love a sequel but this one was not so great. (A teenage boy/teenage rock star romance/drama...)

When Breath Becomes Air - What I loved most in this memoir was the thought of living for each day -- but not in a sort of cheesy 'seize the day' kind of way, but rather a thoughtful figuring out of what really is most important for me to be focusing on today way. Here's a great shorter article also by Paul.

Doldrums - Such a fun little adventure story. I'm excited to see what comes next for little Archer Helmsley.

Unusual Chickens for the Extraordinary Poultry Farmer - A silly story about chickens.

How Children Succeed - I liked this a lot. I liked all the research and stories. I loved the recognition of how important parents and families are, but also what  a difference another nurturing person can make particularly in not-so-ideal family circumstances. And I just loved the focus on why it matters that we know how children succeed & the examples of putting into practice what researchers are learning.

The Glass Sentence - I often don't love fantasy becomes I tend to get kind of annoyed at the author's made up world. But I didn't too much with this book :)  It was a fun and interesting story and had some clever ideas about how time and place and thoughts and memories and history could all blend together.

Below Stairs - A book group pick. I liked the early stories of her childhood in England, growing up in the early 1900s,  and it was an interesting view into what a servant's life was like. But not a favorite or one I'd recommend.

How to Win Friends and Influence People - Another book group choice. I read the first half carefully because I was hosting and was trying to take notes for discussion. But then I forgot all about it till the day before and skimmed the rest. :) Nothing too brilliant, but I have remembered often from it the importance of 1- not criticizing or blaming (especially my children) and 2 - making others (especially my children) feel important and loved.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Welcome to Spring Break

We have had some beautiful Spring days in the last few weeks - I've even seen a few daffodils and crocuses popping up in neighborhood yards. But, we woke up this morning for the first day of Spring Break with a few inches of snow again! With a cold week ahead, our plans for parks and hiking and picnics have been replaced with sledding and snowmen and ice skating. We're still excited. And Jordan finished up work a bit early today (his first day at Lost My Name!) so he's packing up the kids for a long snowy bikeride adventure (what's a little snow when there's adventuring to be done?)

We're going to London!

Last weekend we worked out all of the big details (flights, housing) and it's official - we're really going to London! Kathie will be joining us and Jordan will take a week off so we can see the sights all together. We'll stop in the office one day and meet the Lost My Name team and just get a feel for this new to us city. Woohoo!

When Jordan started work at Animoto and we traveled (with just little 2 year-old Landon!) out to New York for that first visit, it felt pretty unbelievable and unexpected -  'how did we end up here?' And now after several New York years with Animoto and then Bonobos, we're starting out on another great unexpected adventure again. Fortunately for my not-really-so-super-adventerous heart, our day to day life besides this big trip won't be changing so much! :)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

News at last!

In just a couple of weeks, Jordan is going to be working for a new great company called Lost My Name! They are a children's book company based in London that makes these super cute personalized books (like Owen's) We are so excited!

And we are so relieved to finally be out of the long-term limbo we've been in. Jordan decided before Christmas that he was ready to start looking for something new. January was filled with applications, phone screens & interviews (With about eight companies on his application list, he had more than thirty interviews in that one month! Some phone screens, some quick chats, a few on-site days -- including two trips to Washington in the same week! -- and lots of tech interviews in between. Phewph!)  Jordan was also working lots of nights and weekends through January, which made it easier to squeeze in interviews during the days, but also made life completely crazy for that month.

(His interviewing list: Lost My Name, Microsoft, Taser, Instructure, Harry's, Stack Overflow... and a few more :)

February the interviews were wrapping up and then it was decision making time. (Which was very hard!) Then came some waiting and crossing our fingers that everything was really going to work out time that lasted into March as Lost My Name worked on figuring out all of the logistics of opening a U.S. entity and hiring their first U.S. worker.

Finally last week they got everything all set up and now we're just looking forward to this great new adventure!

funny things from our house

On deliveries --

A few days ago, I stepped outside to bring in a UPS package while the UPS guy was getting another box from his truck. When I saw the package wasn't for us, I walked it back out to his truck to let him know it was for our neighbor down the street. He answered, "Hah!  I'm just so used to coming here!"

On noise -- 

Our neighbors are remodeling their kitchen, and this morning there was some substantial construction noise going on.  On Jordan's lunch break, we were sitting at our kitchen table talking about possible plans for a trip to London while the boys and a still recovering Ellie were talking/running/playing/crying/laughing all around us. When Jordan stepped back outside to grab something from his office, and had only the construction noises around him, he came back in saying "It's so quiet out there!"

Friday, March 11, 2016

Yesterday & Today

This picture (Landon sand surfing in Florianopolis) is totally unrelated, except that I've been working with him on (finally!!) putting together a little presentation to tell his Portuguese class about our trip to Brazil, and I just watched the videos of sand surfing for the first time and it looks so cool! (Just Jordan and April and Landon went together)

Oh, goodness. We've had a busy and pretty intense morning and I'm sitting here and trying to remember what I did yesterday and am having a hard time remembering! Let's see...

- Grocery shopping with the little boys (which is actually pretty fun these days :)
- Reading books with the boys and playing number cards with Owen
- A lunch break walk with Jordan
- Quick nap time errands
- Putting together puzzles for preschool time with Owen then after school time snack and homework time with the kids (minus Landon playing with Will)
- Organizing Ellie's clothes drawer with her (until I wasn't putting things in the right place and Ellie let me know she could actually just do it herself :)
- Cleaning out and organizing Ellie's shelf with her (from Ellie "I'm going to draw a plan of what I want it to look like when we're done...")
- Pizza and roasted cauliflower for dinner plus a cupcake wars movie party
- Kids bedtime and talking with Jordan

(Okay, that wasn't so bad - I really hadn't just forgotten the day :)


- Friday mornings are busier than normal because we have to all get ready (even me!) before the kids go to school so I can go help out in Ellie's class. The boys went to play at the Kjar's, and with a last minute change of schedule I got to see Ellie perform in her much anticipated and looked-forward-to power hour puppet show.

- Book group

- And, I called to make an appointment to meet with the mayor on Monday about the Deer Pen (!)  A neighbor stopped by last night just before bed with some questions and concerns about the issue, and then after some discussions with Jordan I ended up dreaming all night about various Deer Pen issues (not the most restful or interesting dreams!) Finally this morning I had the courage to follow Jordan's advice and just call. We'll see how it goes!

- After book group, I sat outside while the boys played and talked to my sister Kel on the phone. (Outside! Hooray for Springtime!) And that was just super great.

- And Jordan has some big things happening with work so we had a few quick chats and check-ins in between meetings.

- Then lunchtime and naptime/quiet time and here we are :)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

February Little Things

These two made up a new game they called "fun fight" which was quickly outlawed (they sit up on the bathroom counter with feet in the sink in the running water, then get wipes or toilet paper all wet and throw them at each other...)


We put Ellie's hair in lots of braids one day so she could try out having crinkly hair :) (Also, Ellie was so excited to master a few piano songs that had been so tricky - "I can't believe these were ever hard!")

cute girl!

A fun little activity making designs with glue + pasta (I saw Kel had a pasta picture from Jaden up on her fridge months ago and have had it on my to-do list ever since)

And more fun combined preschool time with a workbook for Owen and some pictures + paper to glue for Porter

Ellie made up a fancy menu and then whatever was chosen off the menu from her restaurant guests, she would draw for them in a beautiful picture. 

Some play fort time

And cooking help/ mischief

Fancy english scones made by Jordan for a Valentine's weekend breakfast

It was finally warm enough that Jordan and Landon were able to scrape up the thick ice on our driveway!

A fancy Valentine's day family dinner

Snowman building (Porter was excited all winter for this!)

And a sledding trip at Old Main for Jordan and the boys (with a great little jump by Landon!)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

January Little Things

Let's see if I can catch up really quick on some of these little things from the past few months :) 

January I was working on trying out some new recipes, like some fun molasses bread (above)

Jordan had a bit of traveling (with his favorite peanut m&m's as an airport treat tradition)

Preschool time with Owen (who has started sounding out words around him in the world. He surprised me as we were heading to the church bathrooms this weekend when he stopped to read the sign before going in "M-E-N this says men!"

A birthday party for Ellie! (With our classic Don't Eat Pete game above, turned into "Don't eat castle" by Ellie's request)

Lots of bundling up days and snowy adventures

Pinewood Derby preparation. Landon's minion car turned out great, but he ended up sick the day of the activity, so he didn't have a chance to race it. (I was a little relieved because Jordan was out of town and I was having a hard time getting those wheels on straight and I was worried that those crooked wheels wouldn't make for a very fast car!)

Lots of this!

And this!

A visit from April, hooray!

With a trip to the climbing gym for Landon and Ellie

And a snowshoeing adventure! We borrowed our neighbors stroller sleigh and all went snowshoeing in Green Canyon. Jordan and April and even Landon took turns pulling the boys (who also took turns walking).

And some more snowshoe fun with Aunt April

Lots of Risk Legacy - we finished our 15th game sometime in February I think :)

And more and more and more snow!

(And a fun silly thing: I just saw that this is my 1,111th blog post :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Family Home Evening Resource

not a Family Home Evening, but a fun kid project time (using Ellie's sand art kit)
I've had it on my mind for the last little while that I wanted to do better at having more meaningful Family Home Evenings. My first step was to start writing "Family Home Evening" on the calendar, instead of just "FHE" because I thought maybe that would help me remember to make it more of a part of our Monday nights and not just an afterthought to hurry through before bedtime. ( I think it's helped me a little :)

One other thing is that I've wanted to focus on using our lesson time better. A few weeks ago, I realized that you can search the site by topic, and so far that has been a great resource. I've had a project on my mind for years now of having cute little binders with friend articles saved and categorized so that the kids or I could easily find a lesson...  But with this tiny little discovery, I'm finally not feeling guilty anymore for not making that project happen! Because this super easy and just a great resource for quick, meaningful lessons. Hooray!

Ellie has chosen as her goal for the last two weeks to make sure we save enough time to do an activity for Family Home Evening. (This has rarely happened, because it's so close to bedtime and Porter gets a little crazy/rambunctious + I get a little worn out and impatient... and we end of hurrying to finish.) So I guess that will be our next step - to figure out how to either calmly or crazily+patiently make it through with enough energy + time for a quick activity.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Ellie's class notes

I loved Ellie's little Valentine hearts from school. "You are nice." "You are a great friend." "You are smart." And then this cute one, "Dear Ellie, I think you are beautiful {budufole}. Love, Jimmy"