Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Crazy hair day

Trying not to smile!

We got back from Fall break a few days into the school week and jumped in right during red ribbon week. We were driving to school that morning, and we saw Ellie's friend Aria waiting for the bus -- after a second look back one of the kids was asking "Why is Aria's hair green?" We got to school and saw everyone hopping out of their cars with wild hair styles.

Owen was sad to miss out on the chance to make his hair into a dozen volcanos.  Ellie said, "It's fine mom! I'll just put my hair in a ponytail and put some tissues in it! Really, Mom!" I knew it was silly of me, but I kind of wanted to drive her home and help her do her hair into some super-cute elaborate something like what I was seeing as other girls ran into school. But she was super excited about her plan, so off she went. She came home from school with this style instead, complete with colorful twisty pipe cleaners, and told me her teacher did it for her!  I'm still not sure what the story was or how it came to be but I think Ellie will happily remember this crazy hair day!

Monday, October 29, 2018


Jordan helps get the tech set up for church broadcasts and such, and they've started something where those who aren't able to leave their homes can still watch from home. For the regional broadcast yesterday,  he wanted to test that out, and I was sick with a cold, so I stayed home to test + watch. Things look pretty intense above with these kiddos but they were super quiet while we listened and Isaac built magnatile towers behind them.

(They had an amazing little factory going: Owen is being a mailman for Halloween and he and Ellie decided he should have some "Happy Halloween" letters to deliver to each house when he goes trick or treating. So Owen made envelopes, Ellie made and packaged the Halloween notes, and Porter kept careful track of each card that was made to make sure there was an equal number of pumpkins, bats, and witch hats:)

The conference was great, with lots of focus on the new program for teaching at home (or it felt that way to me since that is on my mind). My favorite part though came in one of the prayers. As Isaac has been learning to pray, he'll often speak along with whoever happens to be praying - usually catching just the most important words, and something about his sweet voice repeating this prayer I just loved -- "Jesus...perfect...loves us...be better."

Friday, October 26, 2018

Happy Weekend

This doesn't look so spectacular, but as I was walking up the trail this morning, catching up to Porter, I was just amazed at how beautiful it was. The crisp cool perfect air, the tall golden grass stretching out up the side of the hill, the bright Fall leaves still hanging on and the bright fall leaves covering the ground, the still-a-bit-colorful mountains... it was really lovely! 

This weekend, Landon is packed up and ready for a scout campout, our yard is still waiting for some Fall clean up, the North Logan library is hosting a Harry Potter party that I think Ellie would love (she just re-read the first and second books with about two full days of reading at Grammie and Grandpa's), we'll have a broadcast in place of regular church meetings on Sunday, I'll make some plans for a Halloween class party game, and I need to get some costumes made for these kiddos! Coming soon: Uncle Sam, a pig-icorn, a mailman, a bat, and something very simple and cute for Isaac...

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Happy Anniversary Date (14!)

Jordan and I celebrated our Anniversary while we were in California with a fun overnight trip in to San Francisco. 

We'd gone with everyone to Muir Woods earlier in the day, then decided on our way back home that we'd drop the kids off and turn back around and drive back into the city. (Though the California commute traffic very nearly had us calling the whole thing off!)

Jordan searched for restaurants and made a reservation while we drove, though when we arrived it wasn't quite what we'd expected so we set off in search of a new dinner plan. We had a fun night-time walk through the city and ended up with a  super yummy dinner from Whole Foods, plus some cookies to go :)

It felt pretty strange/relaxing arriving late at the hotel but not having the rush of calling for extra blankets, making up beds, searching for toothbrushes, etc. And, the next morning we slept in till 8:00 (!!) Jordan is usually up by 5 and Isaac wakes up about 6, so this felt pretty luxurious! 

After a fun breakfast, we set out from our hotel and then just walked and walked. We explored the different piers, found  a great little puzzles shop, bought fudge after a cute demonstration they put on, saw a fun "cookie dough" restaurant, watched a crowd of sea lions, and just had fun wandering and exploring together. 

After lunch at a sour dough bread shop (sour dough sandwiches & sour dough tacos) we rented some scooters and then visited Ghirardelli Square and headed downtown by scooter - very fun! 

Driving home, Jordan was reading Funny in Farsi to me and we were just so focused on the stories that we missed our exit by about 15 minutes! But, once we got turned around we were happy to go meet up with Kathie and Winslow and all the kids for a fun dinner at Sweet Tomatoes (And for the record, when the little boys came running to us arms outstretched, they reached for Jordan first -- "Daddy!!" :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Back home!

All these leaves (+ some) were still waiting for us on our return home last night (though a little less soft and fluffy after a week !)  We had  a really great Fall Break in California spending time with Kathie and Winslow, and Nathan + new fiancĂ© Rachel too! Isaac pretty much didn't want to eat all week because it meant taking a break from playing with all of the great toys. Ellie read and read and read. Owen got to play games, Porter got to listen to stories, Landon read and played... And we had some destinations and adventures mixed in too - it was just a really nice time!

As we were packing up to leave home, I took a few groceries that we hadn't been able to use before we left over to our neighbor, and she texted me on our way home yesterday "I have some new eggs and milk here for you - do you need anything else?" (I sure love our neighbors!)

Owen was worried about waking up for school this morning - He said last night, "I'm still going to think we're at Grammie and Grandpa's and I'll probably sleep till 8:00!"  I don't think the kids ever slept past 6:30 while we were there, but somehow it still did feel a little hard to get up and jump back into the get-ready-for-school routine. (For the kids and for me!)

We managed to get our suitcases all unpacked last night though (this is getting easier with great help from the kids!) and today is laundry/cleaning all the things we left un-done when we left day.  And in a little bit I get to go help with STEAM rotations in Porter's class which I love!

End of the break

At General Conference, President Nelson challenged all the women of the church to take a break from social media for 10 days, so I did it. There have been times in the last several years when I would compulsively 'check' blogs/instagram/news/etc. way too frequently. ( I can remember once when Owen was baby-age, and little 3 or 4-year old Ellie drew a picture of me and it included my computer, and I knew it was time to make some changes.) I've tried to be very intentional about how and when I use social media, but it was still a nice (and still challenging) challenge. 

Here's what I found --

I really love a few blogs (I knew this :) I missed reading them and felt happy and uplifted catching up today. Besides a couple of friends and family blogs, here are my favorites: Stephanie, Sarah, Mel, Shawni, Janssen

I thought I'd love scrolling through the instagram posts I'd missed... but I realized again that there are really just a few that I really love and feel inspired by. My favorites: Beth AllenShannan Martin, Elise Joy,  Stephanie Court, Marta Dansie, Marty Halverson, Christopher & Lisa Clark

I can do without the news (at least, all day every day). I felt like I was checking the news way more than necessary, and for the first few days loved getting in the car so I could at least hear the news on the radio :) But I definitely didn't need so much news-reading in my life.

Our new Bishop has a little wood decoration in his office with this thought 'the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.' and I think that's a good summary for me on social media :) It's fun and interesting and sometimes really inspiring and hopefully not something that gets in the way of the main things that really matter.

Off we go!

This morning I've been packing suitcases, finishing a last minute art of the month club project, taking time for school community council, and watching/not too closely as the little boys play like two happy tornados leaving quite a trail behind them all through the house. We're off to visit Kathie and Winslow (+ Nathan and fiancé!) in California for Fall Break. We've had beautiful days here, and we're excited for more beautiful (though more summery!) days ahead this week!

RA + Love

{A note since I've not shared this much: I've had rheumatoid arthritis for five years now, and I was diagnosed and started treatment about a year ago. Some day (maybe soon?) I'll write more, but mostly it is better now than it once was.}

Last night I went to a little evening seminar on Rheumatoid Arthritis in Salt Lake.  It was so interesting and enlightening to look around the room and see such a variety of faces, united just by this disease. The doctor presenting was fabulous, and as she talked I was surprised at the lump in my throat and how emotional I was feeling. But as she was reviewing the new vocabulary that has become familiar to me over the last year or so of NSAIDS and DMARDS, I could feel this doctor, this stranger to me really saying "I know you. I understand you. I care about you" in such a remarkable way.

We had a short break where we were each asked to write down and plan out a specific goal we'd like to work toward. When she asked for volunteers to share their goals, I raised my hand and read mine first - "I'd like to make breakfast for my kids." And then, seeing the loving kindness in this doctors face, I found myself crying.

I've been grateful to have a diagnosis and to be working toward finding some helpful treatments. But my doctor's approach has been very much "You have this problem. Now what do you want to do about it?" And though the doctor presenting didn't say this, I left with this message instead. "You are loved. You are cared for. I want to help and serve you the best I can. You are strong and capable and doing wonderfully well in your roles. Let's work together and see what great results we can find for you."

(And also, "She's my doctor, isn't she the best? Sadly, she's not accepting new patients.")

Today, I'm feeling still tenderhearted at how well she shared her love even in such a professional setting. And I'm feeling more hopeful and motivated to communicate better with my own doctor and hopefully find some better treatments (so I can make those special breakfasts for my kids again soon.)

A Fall Weekend

Friday evening, we walked/strollered/scootered/biked/rollerbladed to the University for dinner. It was a gorgeous walk there, and a beautiful (but somehow longer) walk home. Isaac loved the stars though "Reach them!" he said stretching up from his stroller as high as he could. And I got to show Owen the big dipper (one of the two constellations I can find :) I love this beautiful place we live.

Saturday we got morning jobs finished up, then Jordan took care of some home repairs (and Isaac!) while I took the other kids to the American West Heritage Center with some friends. It was a different feel having just those 4 (and no stroller!) The kids had fun with the Fall activities and we wandered the corn maze, rode the train (where the kids were thrilled to obey the conductor's instruction 'scream as loud as you can in the tunnel!'), said hello to the animals, and just had a nice afternoon.

That evening, the kids all enjoyed a great garage movie party celebration for our friend across the street (it was so fun and cozy!) Even Isaac was loving to be one of the big kids till I took him home early. (But I'm thinking maybe we can try a movie theater again some time and not just hang out in the lobby!)

Sunday after church we sat in the kitchen playing Agricola and watching our Gingko leaves fall and fall and fall like beautiful big snowflakes --Gingko day! I love it so much. Then the kids spent most of the rest of the afternoon raking, blowing, piling, and burying each other in all those soft leaves.

A lovely Fall weekend.


The kids have been brainstorming Halloween costume ideas. So far I've heard: pink bunny, white bunny, blue bunny, Hermione, duck, duck with a witch hat, fireman, construction worker... (and always when Halloween comes up, just a "please can I still go trick-or-treating this year?" from our almost-teenager)

We'll see what they come up with. But first I had to write about my favorite costume yet, from last year --  

In first grade, Owen made up these little superhero characters: Banana with a sock, Grape with gloves, Apple with a hat, and Orange with boots. And he'd make up little stories about these guys and doodle them on his papers at school when he was finished working. 

So, for Halloween he wanted to be his favorite of these superheroes - Banana with a sock. 

And it was one of my most satisfying sewing projects yet (and silliest for sure!) to turn his idea into a Halloween costume. (There was a sock attached at some point, but I think he got tired of explaining his costume and decided sometime through the day to just be a banana :)

Halloween sewing has been my favorite because nothing has to be perfect and shortcuts are just as good as the real thing (velcro > zippers)

Thank you notes

This morning I took the boys with me to the post office to drop off a great big armful of packages. The boys loved the echo of the entry hallway and the slipperyness of the floor, and they ran around wildly while I taped up my packages. When I got to the counter, the woman was perfectly cheerful and kind and friendly with the boys.

Two of my packages were returns of some jeans I'd bought to try on. I hadn't realized when I bought them that I'd have to pay shipping for returns from that store, and I'd just bought each style I liked in a few sizes... So I was kind of dreading sending them back and seeing how much I'd have to pay in postage. But as she was weighing the packages, the woman said, "you know, if we just do a little repackaging, I bet we can fit these two into one box and save you some money!" And then she actually helped me squeeze and smoosh all those jeans into one smaller box, "We did it! I just saved you eight bucks! Now you can stop at Cafe Rio for lunch!"

Thank you for making this long-delayed errand into just a bright part of my day!

From Owen to Porter

Porter at 1 1/2 -- I was looking back for some picture of mischief, but this one was just too cute! :)

I overheard this little bit of a conversation between Owen and Porter this week --

" Porter! Always ask a grownup before you do something that's bad!"

Welcome Home Jordan!

Jordan spent last week in New York, and we were excited to welcome him home on Saturday! I (and the kids too!) miss him when he's gone, and he doesn't so much love heading back to an empty hotel room after his working days + dinners with friends/coworkers, so we're always happy for his return.  I did feel very grateful  for all the friends who helped me so much though while he was gone!

Friday afternoon Jordan had some extra time, so he took a long walk all through Central Park (with some hangout time mixed in so I got to see these happy familiar sites!)  AND, he found and brought back my favorite cookies from our last trip - what a sweetheart!

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.