Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Weekend Fun

two cute nieces!

We had a fun time with family in town this weekend visiting for Jen & Jeremiah's new baby Alex's blessing. 

We had a delicious and fun breakfast at Herm's to celebrate Jordan's birthday with my Dad & Shauna (Herm's at last! we'd tried in the past a couple of times but always had somewhere else we had to be and couldn't wait as long as needed.) 

Jordan got our long-broken sprinkler all fixed (hooray for Jordan!) 

And we had a fun Saturday afternoon/evening at First Dam visiting and rafting/kayaking and picnic-ing with family. 

Sunday we went to Alex's baby blessing and enjoyed more visiting + yummy lunch at Jenny & Jeremiah's new home. 

It was pretty great to get to see all these cute little nieces and nephews, all growing so big!

Monday, June 27, 2016

on pineapples / babies

image here 

Last week after my doctor's checkup, I stopped at the store for a couple of groceries (and a chocolate cake donut :) I'd opted yes for the procedure to maybe speed things along (because I am just a bit nervous about a big baby...) and the doctor said after the exam something like "I bet I'll see you again tonight!"

They had a big display of pineapple out at the store, and as soon as I saw it I thought of the not-at-all-scientific tip of how fresh pineapple can help labor come sooner... and how I'd read that and eaten pineapple for dinner the night before I was scheduled to be induced with Ellie, and then started labor on my own on the way to the hospital (hooray!) Even though I know that was just a funny coincidence, I stood there debating for a little while about whether to add the pineapple to the cart, but ultimately decided that if it was up to me I'd be happy to wait a little longer for this baby to come.

I told Jordan the story, and later that day  after he'd had stopped at the store again for dinner groceries, I saw a pineapple in the fridge -- I guess Jordan's more ready than me for this little guy to come!

(For the record, I ate pineapple all weekend because it was just so delicious, but so far all is calm from this little guy :)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

London Part 5: the end :)

image (our flat had a print like this up on the wall :)

Saturday market day
Our flat was just a few blocks from Broadway Market, where we picked up groceries a few times. The first time I walked down the street was just after we arrived and I'd barely woken up. It was a Saturday evening and very busy with young 20-somethings ready for an evening out + kind of a mess with market stalls all cleaning up for the day... and a bit overwhelming for me in my sleepy state!

The next Saturday though we visited in the morning and strolled through the farmers market and it was one of my favorite places we visited in London! I kind of just wanted to spend the whole day there. Grab breakfast, then browse for a few hours, grab lunch, listen to the musicians and relax at the park, then grab dinner...

Jordan and the kids tried some scotch eggs (fun to see just because I remembered my mom making these when I was a kid... familiar, though not a favorite :)

This man from France was really fun to watch as he made our crepes, "You will love these because I use only the best ingredients!" On the savory crepe, he set a buckwheat crepe out on his hot plate, then broke the eggs right on top, and spread it around to cook through the crepe -- very cool. I have some buckwheat waiting in the cupboard now for me to try these at home. And a nutella/banana crepe was delicious of course too! 

As we finished up, we picked up lots of pastries and desserts to save for the evening and then sat and watched the kids run and play on the grassy hills nearby. 

Saturday afternoon we visited Madame Tussauds, which was kind of crazy. No strollers aloud (and there wouldn't have been room inside for them with crazy busy crowds), and some extra tired children...

Landon + Einstein at Madame Toussad's wax museum

One funny thing - particularly in the first area where the crowds were the thickest and the wax statues were celebrities who we didn't recognize, a few times we'd be looking at what we thought was a group or a pair of statues and suddenly one would move and we'd realize one of the 'statues' had been a person posing for a picture!

Despite the crowds, the super hero movie and the star wars exhibit at the end left everyone feeling a bit cheerier. (The super hero movie was a disneyland type theater room where it's 3D plus your seat moves, pokes, sprays, etc. along with the actions in the movies. Porter wasn't thrilled with his seat, but happily watched without 3D glasses from my lap :)

Sunday we attended church at another ward a bit outside of downtown London. It was such a happy friendly ward, with many new members and many missionaries (Jordan was happy to talk to a sister missionary from Brazil even). A group of BYU study abroad students had just arrived and were quickly put to work filling in the gaps for primary teachers, nursery leaders, etc. I went to primary with the kids and got to fill in as the pianist for the day, and later in Relief Society got to play piano again.

(And here's a good embarrassing moment: I was wearing my favorite super comfy skirt, which unfortunately tends to slide down a bit with the combination my pregnant belly + a slippery slip... I'd just finished playing the opening song and sat back down when they started introducing everyone. As they asked my name and I said hello, a woman across the aisle said to her friend "she's losing her skirt!" and as I felt down, sure enough my skirt had slip, slip, slipped quite down leaving my slip behind! I laughed out loud and mouthed a thank you! and hoped that it had happened after I sat down and not while I was in the front of the room playing piano!)

They weren't quite ready with a nursery when I went to take Porter, so he came to primary with me. He was a little upset still though and I said something like "If you want to stay in primary, you have to be a big boy" to which he answered a little tearfully  "But, I am a little boy!"

Sunday was the first really warm day since we'd arrived, and on our way home from church, the park by our flat was completely filled with picnic-ers and friends out relaxing and enjoying the beautiful day.

Monday we packed up our bags, Jordan got ready to move flats for one more week and we set off for home!

Poor Ellie often gets car sick and driving to the airport was pretty miserable. After we arrived, she was still feeling pretty terrible - worse than we realized.  We stopped for a moment just inside the airport to figure out where we needed to go next, and she threw up all over the floor. (And then we were so grateful that she'd had such excellent timing where all that was needed for clean up was a mop instead of what might have happened if she'd still been in the car...)

Our flight was only about 1/3 full and so we had tons of space to spread out and extra relaxed and cheerful flight attendants. The kids watched movies (I think Landon saw Minions at least 3 times, and Ellie watched Mulan enough to memorize most of it) and I read a book most of the way home! 

Lollipops + lots of movies = a great plane ride home!

And last of all, a few London favorites: 

Riding front row, upstairs on a double decker bus (the kids favorite spot).

One of my favorite things to do was ride from place to place on the double decker buses and watch the businesses, homes, and scenery as we rode past. (And watch the street signs for good baby boy names!)

I loved all the interesting, creative parks and playgrounds. I was recently at a planning meeting for some parkland near our home and I asked if there would be any interest in some kind of a playground, and in particular maybe a more natural playground of wood/rope/etc. rather than a typical plastic set up. The parks director quickly vetoed the idea, explaining how much the city likes to pass on any liability when possible and so pretty much always avoid anything but manufactured/standard playground structures. I could definitely see some of the parks we visited wouldn't be awesome liabiltiy-wise, But oh, these London playgrounds were fun! 

We were in London for Spring and I loved all the beautiful blossoms! Ellie saved a little pink blossom one day from a low branch on a tree, and wanted to go back and pick some more to take home to all of her friends.  

I just loved all of these classic rows of homes.

And I loved having this adventure with my sweetheart!\

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

dance class

Warming up for their performance -- these two were in the "pink" dance :)

A few years ago, Ellie and Owen took an 'art dance' class right near the University. It was a great short car ride (which is all Porter baby could take at the time) and they both really loved it.  Ever since the class ended, I've wanted to get them involved in another creative dance class but the dance company rehearses downtown which has felt so far. :) Finally this summer (last week) we tried out a short week long class and it was just great. (The first day Owen was not thrilled, but once another boy joined their group he was happy.)

I was so proud of them when they did their little show at the end of the week at Logan's Summerfest. Owen had told me all week, "I'm not doing the show" And I was anxious about what he or Ellie might do when it was time to perform. But, I just left them with their class backstage and sat to watch with Grandma Maureen and when it was time they came out and did wonderfully, even with each of their tiny little solo bits -- hooray for these two brave kiddos! They went yesterday to be a part of an extra performance at an assisted living center in town (with no complaints!), and Jordan got to watch them too.

This week I've seen lots more dancing at home too which I love! Hooray for a fun new thing to try out!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


These have been some happy and full summer days. Each week we've had just one lesson type thing going on (tennis for Landon, dance for Ellie & Owen, swim) Still, combined with wanting to fit in school time most days, then some play dates and doctors appointments and other little meetings and activities...  And I've had to keep a close eye on the calendar each day to remember what and when everything is happening!

Reading the kids books just to see what they're reading. This week it's Ivy & Bean (such mischief!) and Justin Case (I just really like that kid!) And reviewing my old labor/birth books (!) Also, this week I've woken up a bit before the kids (!!) a few times and started my day with a conference talk and that has seemed so super nice.

Cooking hot dog roll ups and rainbow fruit salad (Owen's choices for the week, Ellie's & Landon's recipes were more involved and somehow we haven't gotten to them still...) When it comes to dinnertime each day, I'm pretty much starting with "what goes with watermelon?" because even if I have nothing else prepared, so far this summer we almost always have chopped watermelon in the fridge.

Cleaning all the things. (Not really though, more like organizing/finishing up/tidying/rearranging) On Saturday, Jordan said something like "Why don't we spend the day just working on getting some things done off your to do list?" (sweetest words!!) And we did, and it was wonderful!

Adventuring a bit less maybe, but still we've had some bikerides and Jordan and the kids are loving their boating trips to First Dam. Right now Jordan and Landon are checking out Cutler Marsh, so we'll have a report soon on how kayaking is there. We rode to the library and out to eat last weekend and I wondered which was more of a sight -- a so-pregnant me on my bike or Jordan + all the kids on their extreme train bike.

Eating lots of whole fruit popsicles (our other summer staple).

Celebrating Father's day with Jordan (plus his birthday later this week). And new baby nephew Alex! Also lots of lost teeth of Ellie's (and one more for Landon too)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

one second a day

Last month I tried out the one second every day app, and it was so fun! With our family, I found that I wanted to do more than just 1 second each day because there were so many little moments and sweet bits I wanted to capture. But that just meant that I was noticing all of those little moments even more since I was watching for them. I kind of forgot all about it for a  little while, but I think I'll give it another try soon because I really just loved these!

Here's a few weeks in May with one second each day -- (video below)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Tennis lessons / summer mornings

I'm loving our summertime mornings. We've had enough going on each day at certain times that I've had to write up a schedule to put up on the fridge and remind me what's happening. But we've got a pretty great little morning routine going. A slow wake up, breakfast & morning jobs (which the kids are getting better and better at!). Then we head to Elkridge Park (this week) for Landon's tennis lessons and the kids all get to play while I watch or read or talk to another tennis lesson mom. (Perfect!!) 

Ellie found a friend (a big sister of another tennis player in Landon's class) and it is so wonderful to watch them play. Today they found a little spot in a tall tree that they decided was a fairy home and spent the hour finding and making treasures to leave for the fairies. 

A quick snack at the park and then we head home for school time (which is still going great, hooray!) That takes us to naptime and quiet time and then Jordan's finished with work for the day and we're likely ready for some kind of adventure. 

Hooray for these fun summer days!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Reading Lately

1776 - I loved this. I finished it and was so sad that it didn't go on to 1777 and 1778 and on and on. I was surprised as I read to realize how very little I know about the Revolutionary War and that whole time period (I should have taken American Heritage!) and I really just wanted to keep reading and reading to learn more.

Auggie & Me - A few more thoughtful stories from the characters in Wonder. I think these are all just great little examples that I'd love to read soon with my kids about how to be a good friend.

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook - Really great. A boy grows up with his mother in a low-restriction prison. So many loving characters and kindness and just an interesting new perspective in this boys life. 

Far North - Jordan read this to me so just for that I loved it. It's a book that I've had on the bookshelf since my teaching days (from the Farrer Middle School library when they gave away all the extra books...) A fun adventure story that made us so grateful for our warm home and warm blankets and warm everything :)

Hit the Road Helen - I didn't quite make it through this one but it was actually pretty fun. The covers on this series (Myth-o-mania) are not great so I had low expectations... But Landon likes these so much I decided to give it a try and it was interesting and clever. 

Essentialism - I kept thinking as I read this about how my life is already pretty simple! The author would give examples of high stress, packed to the minute days, etc. and I almost started to wonder if I ought to have a little more of that! (but not really)  I think one chapter was maybe enough for me, but I did really like the overall message of choosing which things are most important and focusing on those. And in another season of life when it was more applicable I probably would have really enjoyed it quite a lot. 

Fodors London - Just fun London planning!

Winter Sea - I got this recommendation from a favorite blogger, so I really wanted to love it. And it was fine, but not a favorite. Maybe the sequel will be better now that I get the gist of it? What I did love was that I got to read this all the way home from England (hooray for long international flights!?)

The Sopranos Last Song - This was kind of strange. Maybe because I started mid-series? It was a childrens book, but it felt more like a YA book and I had a hard time placing how old the characters were supposed to be and such. Maybe I'll try again with the first one and see what I think then.

Waiting for Normal - I really liked this. I finished and then realized it was the same author as All Rise for the Honorable... And that seemed like a good fit. Creative characters and kindness and friendship in unexpected places. And like the other book, more interesting perspective.

Uprooted- This was really interesting. It was the story of a family from England who lived in Canada during the war as evacuees. I don't think I've ever really known/thought about people doing this, but after reading this I'm interested in learning more. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

garage cleanout

With summer temperatures on the way, we decided it was time to start parking our van in the garage again. So the trampoline came down and Jordan and the kids had a super-fast-garage-clean-out challenge. I came home to see all of our bikes and strollers and scooters out on the lawn and it was just a fun and funny sight to see! Mostly because we actually use all of these! (Except for 2 smaller bikes that got packed up for a while).

I remember when Landon was born that I felt like it was important that we have only one stroller. (little did I know...) And I can remember rollerblading with that one stroller and the wheels would go all crazy because we were going too fast and they were too small... When Landon outgrew his car seat, we picked up a stroller at DI and Landon (who didn't love my morning walks quite as much as I did) broke through the straps in his efforts to escape...
When Ellie was born we got the BOB and that was just about the best purchase we have ever made.

Then more kids, more scooters, bikes, strollers...

I was thinking that someday when our kids are all grown, our garage will just be a boring old place for cars and 2 grown up bikes. But really I think Jordan will keep that garage interesting with all of his new 'things that go' hobbies.

 (Right now the van is actually back out to the driveway because the garage floor is taken up with a kids kayak, a rental tandem kayak and a big inflatable raft from Jordan's latest adventures!)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

school time (first report)

We've had two days of summer school time now and so far, so good! (Though yesterday we did have to adjust our schedule a bit!)

In the past we've done everything all together and had a theme we were working on (Portuguese basics, A to Z,  Countries of the world...)

This year, we're trying out stations and not sticking with any set theme. The big kids each have four stations and we just rotate every 15/20 minutes. Together, Screen, Piano/Mom, Independent.  (I haven't yet decided how to work Porter in, but we'll just see how that all goes :)

Together -- This is some fun game or activity that we do all together. Yesterday we had little front room races where the kids had to crawl from one side to the other and use tweezers to fill up a jar with puff balls. Today we used droppers and tiny spoons to make orange cream popsicles.

Landon is doing half of his eye patching time during school time, so as I've brainstormed activities, I've tried to think of ideas that will be fun for everyone and also hopefully help him strengthen his vision/depth perception/etc. (and maybe without him even noticing that it is work :)

Independent -- This is some of the same as above (activities to help Landon's vision hopefully). Yesterday was mottik blocks and today the kids did puzzles. They might do some math work or word puzzles, lego building challenges, writing practice...

Screen -- Landon is doing Duolingo & Splashmath, Ellie Duolingo & Reflex math, and Owen has a few reading/math apps on the ipad to choose from.

Piano/Mom -- piano practice for Ellie and Landon, reading time for Owen and me (and Porter).

We'll see how it all goes! I'm sure we'll make some adjustments along the way, but so far I think it's going to work out fine :)