Monday, October 8, 2018

Conference Weekend

kid creation + kid-taken pic :)

This weekend we watched and listened to General Conference. And also built domino towers and made origami and colored made-by-joel paper cities... Saturday the kids were doing so well playing on their own for the most part, and I got so many little organizing jobs done around the house while I listened - it was super great. Ellie and I got to go together to the Women's conference together at the Stake Center that evening too. Sunday we did our little treat game and all listened together, and I think I heard more of the talks than I have in many years.  (Our children are growing!) And I felt excited and inspired with the upcoming changes too!

President Nelson challenged the women of the church to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year, and I'm excited for this. I haven't read it all the way through in a really long time, so I think it will be great for me. And, he challenged us to take a 10 day break from any social media. So, I'm still going to write (because I'm so happy to have made this a habit again at last!!) but I'll just wait for these 10 days to publish any more here. And I'll report back on this challenge too!  (I did this last month or so when he challenged the youth to do the same, and I know I did read more books that week!  Also, after the week, I was happy to be able to check back in with the few bloggers and instagram accounts that I follow -- maybe I'll make a list of my favorites in 10 days :)

Friday, October 5, 2018

Happy Weekend

We've had a beautiful week of Fall weather -- perfect 68 degree blue sky days, rain and thunderstorm days, and cozy back-and-forth overcast and clear days. And all with these beautiful colorful leaves everywhere too. 

Yesterday our power went out a little after 4:00. By 6:00 when it was still out,  I was gathering up flashlights and lanterns. By 7:00, I had borrowed a few head lamps from a friend, and then just a few minutes after we got home - lights!  The kids thought it was great fun to have a dark party evening (it had gotten pretty dim inside even while it was still bright outside), and when the lights came on they were excited all over again. 

The kids are out of school today, and it's been a mostly smooth low-key day. We've had a busy few weeks with full afternoons and evenings, so it has felt very nice to have an open-calendar-space kind of a day. 

This weekend, we're watching General Conference and going to a few soccer games for the boys. I think it's time to pull up our tomato plants (and the other garden stragglers :) And we'll see what else, but hopefully some lovely outside time. 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Some things I Learned in September

I always think it is fun to read other writer's 'what I've learned' posts, so I thought I'd try it out this month too.

About The International Space Station

For Lego Robotics this year, the kids are learning about and doing a project on long duration space flight.  I've been trying to learn a little about it so I can help them along the way. In the process, I've learned about the International Space Station, which if you asked me last month, I could have answered that yes, I'd heard of it. And maybe it's some kind of a building on the Moon? Maybe a project they're working on to build on Mars someday? (The sum of my knowledge)

Now I'm learning! The International Space Station is a giant satellite-like research laboratory that circles the earth about every 90 minutes and has been continuously occupied by people for the last 17 years (Isn't that amazing?)  (I'm watching A Year in Space and since I know almost nothing about space, it has been so interesting!)

About Agricola

I learned that I like to play the board game Agricola. In the last few years, I've sat out of most family game times. I mostly felt like I didn't have the energy to invest in a long game, or the time to stay focused that long.  But in the last few weeks, we've started playing Agricola on Sunday afternoons while Isaac has napped, and it has been really fun. And fun that Porter has been able to start learning too.

About Fish Oil

My doctor recommended adding fish oil to my other medications for my arthritis. Before I started, I was reading about it to see what to expect, etc. and it was so funny and crazy to read all of the conditions that fish oil is used to treat.  It looks like it has been tried as treatment (some effective, some not) for pretty much any condition you could think of. I just imagine a lecture in med school all about fish oil "Here's the thing, if you have a patient and you're not sure what might help them, you might as well try fish oil..."

About our Honda Dealership

I've always avoided taking our vans to the dealership because I kind of assumed they'd charge way too much, etc. But we needed these specific little clips that another shop probably wouldn't have, so we really had to choose the dealership. I took our van in a couple of weeks ago, and they seriously went way out of their way to help fix the problem on our van in the least expensive way possible. I was impressed. And it was a really little simple thing, so I could understand what needed to happen,  and that made me more willing to give them a chance in the future when we need more substantial work done.

About Meal Planning

For a few weeks, I was doing a really great job of making a plan for the week for dinner and after school snacks. Then one weekend I forgot, and it was Monday, and I realized that I spent more time in minutes feeling stressed throughout the day because I didn't have a plan than it would have taken to just write down a plan. (I still haven't gotten back on track though... but it was a good reminder once again that if  can get myself to just take those few minutes to make a plan it really will pay off!)

About the Cello

I'm loving sitting down to help Ellie with her cello practice. So far, we've learned all the parts and the strings and had some tips on how to hold the bow, and I've even successfully tuned her cello by myself once now. I'm so excited for Ellie, and I'm excited to learn some little bits along with her too.

Giving things a name

Every day we walk by this row of trees at the park that drops long brown seed pods the kids love to collect. Earlier this summer, they were collecting the brown and the newer green pods and opening them up to compare the seeds inside - dried up and brown or soft and green.

A few weeks ago, Porter ran inside from our back yard "Mom! You have to see something!!"  And right up in the tree next to Jordan's office, there was one of those long green seed pods growing from the tree! At first I thought he must have brought one home from the park and hooked it on somehow, but sure enough it was growing from the tree. And that may not sound so strange, but it felt like looking up at an apple tree and seeing an orange growing or something. Porter took a turn to show everyone else in the family and they were all just as surprised as me.

I started to do some research to figure out how this tree could be growing one of those seed pods. So crazy! First I learned that the tree by Jordan's office was a honey locust tree. And then I learned that the trees by the park were... honey locust trees. And... they look just exactly the same. They're the same tree -- this should not have been a crazy surprise! Ours is a thornless honeylocust with no seed pods (except one, this year!) and the ones at the park have seed pods. I've looked at our tree several times a day, and I could have described the leaves without them in front of me. But I had never actually looked beyond the seed pods at the park trees!

As soon as I learned the name of these trees though, I also realized that there are so many honey locust trees in Logan! We have two in our yard (I did know that, even before I could name them) A full row at the park, and several more all through our neighborhood. They line the main streets downtown. They are all over, and I'd never noticed until they had a name.

Several years ago, we did a little bird unit for our at home preschool time, and I learned for the first time what a robin was (obviously, I have some gaps in my everyday knowledge!) and what a magpie was. And suddenly our neighborhood was full of those two birds. (Not suddenly, obviously. We have so many magpies that our neighbor makes it a hobby to thin their population in our neighborhood, and I don't think they just appeared when I learned their name :)

For a long time, I've wanted to learn more about flowers - and I'm thinking right now about how magical it might feel if I can just learn their names and then I'll suddenly see them appearing all around! (I'll just have to be sure to study them seasonally so I don't try to find daffodils in November :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Thank you notes

Jordan and I are coaching a Lego Robotics team again this year. Last year we jumped in and very much just figured things out as we went along. I'd usually finish each meeting worrying about all the things that didn't go as smoothly as I'd  wished,  and Jordan would reassure me  - we're doing it, we're learning, and it doesn't matter if things go perfectly! 

Last week we met for the first time with this year's new group of kids, and I've felt a bit anxious about it all as we're still very much learning and I still want to do a good job.  Yesterday at school pick up one of the kids from our team walked past and then called back over his shoulder to me "Lego Robotics tomorrow! Yay!" And it was just the perfect little encouragement that I needed!

Monday, October 1, 2018

A list for Owen / Talents

I found this list on the kitchen counter this morning - I'm pretty sure it was written as a consequence (since I haven't known the kids to spontaneously write lists of all the reasons why they love their siblings... :) But I still thought that it was very sweet to read all of these things that really are true about Owen. 

A couple weeks ago Porter and Owen had lessons in primary on talents, and their teachers asked me the week before for a little list of their talents. And it was so fun to take a minute to really think about the unique things each of them are great at.  I couldn't find it right now, but I read recently by Lisa Clark something like this - how nurturing matters "I've bet most of my adult life on that" but how nature is just so fun - to watch and see how each child is just so much themselves. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Five things on Friday

1. Isaac loves to be soft to Momma (like this picture).  Sometimes when I'm setting him down for a nap, I'll scoot him into his little tent, and he'll climb back out "one more time soft". 

2. I sat outside this afternoon while he napped and worked on a sample for our Art of the Month Club project, and it was just lovely. (We open the windows and cool our house down in the evenings, but these days, it's cool enough all day that the chill kind of sticks around, so the warm sun in the afternoon feels just perfect!)

3. I turn on some kids music most days while we're eating lunch (Hap Palmer on Pandora). And while the boys eat, I'll sing along "If you're happy and you know it..." or "Row, row, row your boat" and do whatever little dance goes along with the songs. And Isaac often climbs off his stool (sometimes Porter too) to join in. And lunch takes a minute or two longer and it's such a happy little time before Porter goes to kindergarten.

4. I listened to a conversation with Shannan Martin this afternoon while I was working on my project out here (I love her!) And I kept thinking 'I bet she'll be quoted in conference next weekend' :) (Maybe not, but I feel like her thoughts have helped me better understand how I should be ministering)

5. Today, our house has been quiet. Yesterday, we had a steady stream of visitors coming and going from morning till bedtime. And it was a happily full, busy kind of day. Play dates and babysitting and rides home and quick stops in and out and dinner with Jen's family and my Mom... (Also, I was grateful I took the 5 minutes first thing in the morning to clean the kids bathroom ;)

NYC March 2018

As we prepped for our trip to New York in March, we looked through pictures of our past trips and wrote a list on a big poster board of all of our favorite things that we'd like to do again, or new things we'd like to try that we hadn't done before. And it was a pretty comprehensive list!  Jordan was leaving LostMyName (Wonderbly) and beginning work for Teachers Pay Teachers and decided to take a week off in between so that our whole family could explore together in New York.

In the past, we'd usually fly out on the weekend and do something fun Saturday then have Sunday together before Jordan started his work week. Then I'd take things slow with the kids during the week enjoying the neighborhood we were staying in and taking a few little adventures out as well (while Jordan worked and often met up with friends/coworkers for the evenings.)

So this was our longest time for our whole family to spend time together in New York, and we were amazed at all the things we got to check off our giant list! And it was so fun because it had been long enough since we'd been that everything was pretty new and exciting for the kids, and it was so fun to experience the newness with them.

I'll put up two little videos I made, and here are a few (ha! I had more to say than I thought) several highlights:

NYC 2018 Preview (1 minute) (Whoops! We went in March, not April :)

NYC 2018 Video (4 minutes)

+ We stayed in Brooklyn for the first time and it was fun to have that new feel. Our apartment was a great old brownstone with fancy woodwork,  creaky floors,  and doors and cupboards that didn't quite close all the way anymore. The kids made the top floor into a Lego Headquarters and we had plenty of space to spread out (though our kids aren't use to living with neighbors who share walls so it was sometimes a little tricky to be quiet!)

+ Probably my favorite part of the trip was having dinner with a friend of Jordan's and their family who invited us over one evening. We ate lasagna and salad and cherry pie and played Settlers of Cataan while our little boys ran and tumbled and played swords together.

+ A favorite new thing was visiting the New York Public Library. I read somewhere before our trip that the famous lions in front were named Patience and Fortitude, and I used that little fact to encourage the kids during our trip when we hit some rougher traveling moments. :) (Fun thing - I was telling one of the kids about the lions' names and a man walking by stopped and turned around -"what did you say they're called? Huh! I've lived here all my life and never knew!) The library was just beautiful inside and out, and they had the sweetest children's area that was so peaceful and welcoming (especially at the end of a long day)!

+ The Sunday we went to church in Brooklyn, they happened to be having a missionary day with a few people sharing their experiences in joining the church and then a big lunch gathering afterward   instead of classes. It was fun to meet some new families and have that extra time to visit too.

+ Landon had some little legos that he got at the Lego store by the Rockefeller Center and he had them out playing with Porter and Owen on every subway ride through the week. Other subway fun: playing little mind games like spelling words using the portuguese alphabet and someone else guessing the word. Or saying three numbers and the other person has to connect them with math problems somehow... And, nobody got lost riding the subway - phewph!

+ But, we did lose Isaac once and it was a few minutes of awful panic. We were all watching the Sea Lion show at the Central Park Zoo and sometime while we all became focused on the animals, Isaac wandered off! About the time the show ended, I looked around and couldn't find him and we all went frantically searching for him through the crowds till one of the kids (I think?) found him wandering happily nearby (as I was telling a worker 'I've lost my toddler!'). Whoosh. That was sure an awful feeling.

Looks lovely now...
+ We had a 'Nor'easter' threaten our flight out when we were leaving, and another hit while we were there. When a neighbor came to knock on our door that morning and ask what our children were doing on the stairs "are they just running laps up and down or something?!" we decided we better brave the weather rather than stay cooped up for the day. We traveled through a little (lovely) snow and visited the American Museum of Natural History and enjoyed a fun day there. By the time we were traveling home though, it was a snowy, slushy, soggy mess. And the buses weren't keeping to their regular stops. And we had no slushy/snowy/soggy protection for our feet as we walked through the icy wet slush up past our ankles. We were a pretty miserable bunch. The kids definitely beat me in their patience and fortitude on that long walk. (Oh they were troopers! And oh it was hard!)

+ Lots of other things:

We visited...

Times Square (late at night with bright lights and sleepy-silly kiddos) and M&M world

The Manhattan temple + ward building for church on Sunday. I love the music in Sacrament meeting in that Manhattan ward - it is always amazing, every time we visit!

Central Park and the Central Park Zoo

The Brooklyn Bridge

Top of the Rock with incredible views of the city

Brooklyn Army Plaza and the Brooklyn Library. We made these stops on the way to dinner one evening, so they were a little quick.

The Lego Store (twice? three times? Enough to really feel like I knew the place -- I can tell you where to find the nearest bathroom...)

The Big Piano (now at Macy's since FAO Schwarz closed -- not quite so magical anymore, but now we know :)

Teachers Pay Teachers,  where we got to meet a lot of the people Jordan would be working with and get a tour of the offices. I was super impressed with their authentic teacher-focus. There was very much a feel of 'what can we do to make life easier and better for teachers?' (And Jordan has continued to find that to be true as he's worked there for the last 6 months or so.) And they had little swag bags for all of us which the kids thought were fabulous!

The Liberty Science Center - a favorite place to visit in New Jersey from past trips. Two new things on this visit were the cool wall of tubes/vaccuums to play with balls in, and a fun exhibit about wind and skyscrapers.

The new One World Trade Center.

Union Square Park

J. Owen Grundy Park. This is a little picnic/stage area that I'd visit in New Jersey when we stayed there a few times. It was a great place for Landon and Ellie to run around and climb a little (and was either in walking distance or just a light rail ride away).  It's a great little spot and it has a fantastic view of the lower Manhattan skyline.

We walked and we rode...


Uber, but no taxis! That was a change since our last trip!

Lots of subways

Escalators :) (We don't see these much in everyday life, so they kids always think they're fun when we're traveling!)


Light Rails

Ferries and a super fast water Taxi

Staten Island Ferry (this was new for us -- very fun and a great way to see the Statue of Liberty)

and strollers too :) (Isaac, and Porter sometimes)

We ate...
image here
Some delicious chicken and rice from the Halal Guys. This was just street cart food, but I'm still daydreaming about going back and trying it again.

Pringles (Ha! Jordan got these for the kids one day when we were out and about, and the kids thought they were so great that I think they each bought themselves a can at some point in our trip!)

Fun dinner and dessert at Max Brenners.
Leftover pizza another night for dinner :)
Ridiculously priced kfc on our first night (delivered by GrubHub, almost Jordan's next employment!)

Chicken and Wafffles.  Several people from TPT live in Brooklyn, so we asked for restaurant recommendations, and this was one "A very Brooklyn thing to do is go for chicken and waffles. Our favorite place is Sweet Chick" Sounds great, right? We ended up stopping there for dinner on our way home on the crazy slushy wet night. So by the time we got there, there weren't really any other options. We were frozen through and we really didn't have the stamina left to venture any further. And it was fine. But it was like - a waffle, and a piece of fried chicken for $17. (And we were feeding 7 of us!) There's this saying about how New Yorkers will talk about the crazy price of real estate, but never the crazy price of food, but sometimes there are crazy prices for food! 

Bites of lots of things shared from Amy's Bread (another place I'm excited to visit again - this may be my favorite place I've eaten in New York!)

Oatmeal and Cereal and cheese roll ups and sandwiches in our little kitchen at our Brooklyn airbnb.

Pretzels and hot dogs and candied nuts from street carts

If we went back to this spot, I'm pretty sure I could find that most delicious cookie bakery...

The best peanut butter cookie filled with chocolate fudge inside from a bakery near Central Park. (I can't remember the bakery, though I've tried because I want to find a recipe for these!)

At the shake shack and a yummy salad place nearby.

pre-lunch fun at the Science Center

Some yummy pizza (plus cheeseburger pizza to try) at the Liberty Science Center.

Some fancy pizza (including one with guacomole!) at a pizza place by the Brooklyn Bridge. (And some crazily priced ice cream nearby... I can't help it, I guess I'll never be a true New Yorker. Ice cream shouldn't cost that much!)

And that's a wrap! I flew home with the kids (and the airline check in woman was so super nice and gave me an extra seat for Isaac so we could have two whole rows to ourselves, which meant Isaac got a great nap and we all had a pleasant flight!  Jordan stayed and worked his first week at TPT and had a great time getting to know people a little better. And he'll soon be off for another visit!