Friday, November 16, 2018

on the other side

Landon and Ellie meeting baby Owen

Earlier this week, I got to watch my little nephews and take them to the hospital to visit and meet their new baby sister! They were very excited, and it was just a fun and different experience stopping in for a visit instead of being the one welcoming the visitors!

I sure loved all those first few days with our babies - such sweet, tender times!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

on toys & messes

A few weeks ago, the kids were feeling frustrated about cleaning their assigned rooms (otherwise known as AR to one child because "Don't say the words!!") Somehow in our discussion, I ended up telling them about when Landon was a baby/toddler and we lived in our little duplex. And when it was time to clean up all the toys in the house, they fit neatly into one little basket under the piano. 

When Ellie and Owen heard that, their response was something like "Let's do that!" 

When we talked about them not having much to play with, Owen quickly responded, "That's okay! We can just play with our family and like with our hands and arms and stuff! Like that slap hands game...!"

I loved this :) And we're thinking we'll try out putting everything/most things away and pulling out a bin or two at a time and keeping everything else in the storage room or guest room or something. We'll see. 

Really, the two things most played with (and most mess-making) at our house are magnatiles and paper. (If I walked around the house right now, I suspect I could find at least one magnatile in every room...And no matter how recently we've vacuumed, there are pretty much always paper scraps surrounding the kids craft table in the reading room.) But I'm happy enough with all the good playing from those things that I'd vote to keep them out even if they are messy. (A few kids might disagree though!)

Last weekend, I borrowed a friends Roomba to test it out. Before I ran it in the reading room, I cut up a bunch of paper to scatter all around for it to pick up. Owen was watching me and said "I hope this works because this is my assigned room!"

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Tech News

Our Provo duplex Spring 2016
When I was pregnant with Landon, Jordan was finishing school and working for a little startup in Provo. After the school year ended for me and I had some extra free time for a couple months,  I'd sometimes walk (or scooter? though maybe that was just Jordan?) with him up to work, just up the hill from our little duplex. I have this sweet tender memory of walking back down that Grandview hill with my hands on my growing belly feeling those amazing kicks and stretches, so new and wonderful!

They worked in the basement of the company founder's home, around the corner from my high school friends' homes, "Just walk through that side gate and down those stairs in the back...try not to block the neighbor's driveway if you're parking..." with a closet full of snacks and folding tables squeezed in for the handful of employees.

Those walks are still a pretty sweet memory for me, but the actual job turned out to be not so great. And in the Fall when they gave  Jordan an (also not-so-great) offer to stay on, we chose another option.

Today, in the news I read about that little basement-office company being acquired for $8 billion!  

Jordan has had a really wonderful and interesting career so far and I always love to see what's happening with the companies he's worked for or nearly worked for in the past, so it was fun to see that news.

I also had a mix of other feelings - like, how it can be hard to celebrate their success when we had kind of a harder experience with them... though somehow just saying that out loud helped me realize those aren't really the feelings I want to hold on to (though I still feel them for now, but hopefully not forever!)  And of course, we had a moment's discussion of "what if?!"

But mostly, as I was thinking about all this and remembering those days, even bigger than those other feelings is how grateful I feel for all of the really wonderful work and life opportunities that have come to us in the other paths we chose!

In that same time of our lives as our family was just beginning, Jordan worked with another startup in Provo (Collabratus).  It ended up closing down about a year and half after Jordan joined, but we sure have some happy memories of his time working there (like the great big windows of his office, the funny story of someone hoping to pay off their invoice with a truck,  and that courtyard full of daffodils where I brought toddler Landon down for lunch break picnics...). And we still have happy feelings of his very kind boss Harold (like the little company BBQ he held at his home, or when Jordan went to interview with Microsoft,  and Harold sent a gift with him on his way - a box of chocolates picked out by his wife and a homemade t-shirt with this message -  "I'm a Collabratus Man!" :)

And besides those happy memories, the end of that job also led to the beginning of his work for Animoto which then led to many more great opportunities at Bonobos, LostMyName/Wonderbly, and now TPT (with many more interesting connections made in between all those as he's worked with and interviewed at many other companies too!)

In other news, Jordan heard this last month from some friends in Victoria who he had considered working with in his latest job change. They were also recently acquired in a different sort of way that wouldn't have exactly been a perfect fit for us -- this is from their website in reference to their acquisition -- "We are thrilled about our ability to help JUUL Labs improve the lives of a billion adult smokers..." (you never know!)  Also, a year or so after Jordan left Bonobos, they were acquired by WalMart -- which made us think maybe we should have followed through with our stock options ;)

It's so fun and funny to see just a little bit where those paths we've deliberated about over the years might have taken us. And so nice to feel happy with the paths we've picked!

Welcome Home Jordan!

If that sounds familiar, it is! It was only a few weeks ago that we were welcoming Jordan home from a week in NYC, and yesterday he returned from a week in Montana! April is moving into her new home, and also just had foot surgery so Jordan spent a week up there working and also helping pack things up, carry things downstairs, and otherwise help April stay off her recovering foot :)

We had such a busy and full day yesterday and Jordan just jumped right into it so seamlessly that early in the afternoon as we were in the front room together Owen said "Oh! I forgot you were gone and back!!" 

Jordan was working while he traveled home through the morning, and he walked in about 10:00, continuing a meeting he'd been having while on the shuttle, and headed to his office till we left for Lego Robotics.  (So Owen first saw him at Lego Robotics... like he always would on a Tuesday afternoon so it just felt very much like normal!) Then we had a rush of pick ups/after school jobs/dinner/young women's/bedtimes... (Plus a quick turn of shoulder angels earlier in the day for Porter and Isaac!)

It still feels so strange/amazing to me that Jordan could wake up early and start his work day from the airport in Montana, and then just continue on working away as he traveled over 500 miles back home via airplane & shuttle, and finish the work day from his own little backyard office!

We're sure happy to have him back home! 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Weekend Report

Sunday Afternoon reading

+ Friday night Landon had a fun scout camp + swimming activity at some hot springs.

+ Saturday we worked our way through our jobs and errands etc. with lots of down time mixed in too.  (I am not a great with-kids errand runner. I think we had 3 stops, but I was spent!)  Oh, and a trip to the library with a stack of books for Landon about as high as he could balance in his arms!

+ Saturday night as everyone was getting to bed, Isaac and Landon were playing next to the bed and Isaac tripped over Landon, falling forward and hitting his eye on the metal edge of our bed frame (!!) Jordan was gone, so I left the kids with Landon and took poor little Isaac to the Instacare. I couldn't see inside his eye, and it was cut right up across the inside edge so I was very worried.  Fortunately, once they got it clean (which took me and two nurses, so I never would have been able to do this on my own!) everything looked okay. He woke up yesterday morning with an even puffier eye, but honestly didn't seem to be bothered much! After nap time I asked how his eye was doing and he answered (Oh, I love his new putting-words-together in his sweet little voice!) "Not hurting any more!" Poor kiddo, but I'm so glad the black eye is the most lasting problem.

+ While we were gone, the kids were pretty worried and they so sweetly looked all around the house for Isaac's favorite things. They surprised him when he got home with a great little collection all set out so carefully on the kitchen counter (soccer ball, blanket, a favorite book, a card, etc.)

+ Once I got the kids to bed (late!), I was prepping my lesson for primary on service. The lesson suggested having the kids help with some kind of service as part of the activity, so I had them color a big card for Isaac. The kids loved making it (I suggested they could draw things they love or things they thought he'd love, and the big theme became "candy!") Isaac set it out at home and was loving it "Is it?" (What is it) he asked again and again as pointed to each little picture (oreo cookies! lollipops! candy! a train! a heart balloon!)

+ Jordan and I both have new callings! Jordan was expecting a change since he was released from Young Mens a few weeks ago, but I was surprised! Jordan is going to be teaching Owen's primary class, and I'm going to be joining the Young Women as 2nd counselor. Except for one year with Relief Society activities and some time in Webelos scouts, I've been in primary since we've been married, so this will be very new for me!

+ I made it to ward choir at last (the reminder of upcoming Christmas music was enough to get me to remember the midafternoon time!)

+ The boys all had a sleepover party in my room -- I sure love all these boys! :)

+ And then back to school this morning, with one kiddo very much looking forward to Thanksgiving Break (next week! how did that happen?)

Friday, November 9, 2018

"We're all just doing the best we can, y'all"

(I read that little comment yesterday and felt grateful for how it stuck in my brain on replay this morning while we recovered from this little ordeal :)

I sure love these little matching buddy boys. And I've thought every day this week how much I love our mornings together, and how much I'm loving these two and the ages and stages they are in right now.

Still, every once in a while...!

I was pretty frustrated/disappointed/mad this morning about missing book group - one of my favorite things each month - because of a giant melt down ("I'M NOT COMING!") that I couldn't find any way to resolve. (Though we were discussing a parenting book this month, so we could have just gone kicking/yelling & all and been a great case study...)

Eventually, we got to "You can choose to calm down and come to book group, or we can walk back home and we can clean the garage." We didn't make much progress before kindergarten. Cooling down (for both of us), then warming up (the garage was pretty cold!),  then a garage floor lunch picnic of muffins and pear slices and swiss cheese, keeping close to the electric heater. (So, no progress on the garage, but progress in all those other ways.)

(And I would explain how we managed to get through round 2 of "I'm not going!" (the school version) but just like I don't know why nothing I tried worked for round 1, or what even brought about the great melt down,  I really don't know why something did work the next time!)

I'm actually not dreading an afternoon of cleaning the garage together after school though. He's a pretty great working buddy. And maybe I'll catch something from him along the way to help me a little better next time. And, I'm ready to be done scraping frost from our van in the driveway each morning.  And I want this little boy I love to feel I love him and want to help him (even if I was pretty mad).

We're all just doing the best we can, y'all

Thursday, November 8, 2018

wild places

Something that I love about Logan is that there are these little patches that are still a little wild. A week or so ago we walked this way - down the Lee's hill on a long walk to dinner out for a Friday night. There has been a developer's sign up here since early summer "Coming Soon!" I know we'll appreciate the sidewalk that will come with those townhomes, but we'll miss this little trail too!  

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Peanut Butter Cookies

When we were shopping earlier this week, we saw a big picture of peanut butter kiss cookies on display with the Hershey's kisses and Porter said "We should make those!!" So we bought a bag of kisses and this morning he asked "After our walk, or after reading time, or maybe after movie time/shower time, could we make those cookies?" And we did and it was just a delight. I sure love these little boys!

Also, we have this Relief Society service auction activity coming up. I have really loved this in the past - it has just been a really fun night, and so great to see what everyone has made or done to share. And it's been so fun for me to make some cute thing to share too. A short time after we moved in we had this activity and I made some little hair clippies. And for years, I'd see these two sweet sisters every once in a while wearing one on Sunday and it was just so happy to see - I made that and they love it enough to wear it! Another year I made a little tote bag and a few years later noticed that it was somebody's weekly primary bag - again, so fun.

But this week, every time I've thought of something I could make or do, I've kind of thought 'but then I'd have to actually make or do that thing..." (I'm not sure what to think of this, but I think the best is to not overthink it and know that sometimes I feel like making and doing extra little things and sometimes not!)

And since we don't particularly need all of these delicious little peanut butter cookies, I'm thinking this is going to be the already-made-treat to share time instead of a think-of-something-so-cute-to-share time and I can be done brainstorming and vetoing my more labor intensive ideas :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018


+ A teenager in our neighborhood came over yesterday after school to wash windows for us (earning money for band camp :) I had woken up with lots of energy yesterday so I took some time before he came to wash all the upstairs insides of the windows (it had been a while for some of them!) Jordan also likes to take the screens out in the Winter when we won't be opening the windows anyway, so we have bright clear views out our windows (like above, out our reading room window!)

+ We had some drama this past week over a certain child's frustration with not being able to find matching socks when it was time to go to school...This morning, Owen had the job of matching 10 pairs, and said "But we just matched them all a couple days ago!" 

When I told him I'd just done the week's laundry that day, he answered, "Let's see, what's 7x7?"   49 pairs of socks to match every week? I'd never considered this, but no wonder we have this sock-finding trouble!

+ We've had little snow flurries this morning and the kids were so excited! We usually get snow a few times in October, but it has just been a warm and beautiful Fall!

+ Porter saw an idea on his morning show to make pumpkin's out of clementines (a peeled clementine with a celery stem :), and was so excited to surprise the kids with them after school- "Clemen-pumpkins!"

+Yesterday while we were checking out at the store, Porter was practicing reading all the candy bars (the familiar ones were easy, the less common like "Zero" bars were trickier!) So today, I wrote out a bunch of candy bar names and Porter practiced sounding them out and it was just a fun little after-Halloween activity. 

+ It's voting day!

+ We had time yesterday for piano lessons for all three kids -- this school year we haven't found a set day and time and it means lessons are much further apart than they normally have been.  But practicing has been happening regularly at least so something's still working :)

+ And now, we're leaving for Lego Robotics in just over an hour so it's about time to go get some plans made!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Shoulder Angels/Sunday

Last night Jordan was watching some Studio C Shoulder Angel clips with the kids and they all wanted to try it out. Porter was by far the most expert Shoulder Angel of all - with Jordan kneeling or standing. And I can say since I tried, this was much harder than you'd think!

On the way to school today we were talking about an upcoming trip for Jordan, and Porter said "I hope he'll be back by that Sunday so we can do more Shoulder Angels!" (He just might be happily surprised to find out Shoulder Angels don't necessarily have to be a Sunday evening activity :)

We had Stake Conference yesterday (Jordan helped with the broadcast at the Stake Center, and I played with/wrestled with/wandered with Isaac till we found a quite room and then I listened while he reorganized all the chairs in the primary room (and helped clean up when we were done too). 

One of my favorite thoughts was just a little side story about a grandma's fun silly idea to get her grandkids involved in family night, and the speaker said somewhat jokingly "It must have been revelation!" But, really I think that's true. I've had times when some little idea for a game or activity or chart or system really made a difference for my kids or my primary class, etc. And I think that really is revelation. I know I've felt Heavenly Father's love for my children sometimes as I've had the thought to try some little idea and seen them love and learn from it. 

I'm thinking now of the beginning of the school year when our morning's were feeling really rough. I prayerfully thought about what I could do to make things better, and had the thought to leave the little boys home with Landon while I take the other kids to school. It was such a simple little change, but it immediately made our mornings calmer and happier and smoother. To me that felt like revelation, and I feel really grateful for little things like this that have helped me and our family too.  

With General Conference, conference while we visited in California, Regional Conference, and now Stake Conference, we've had a full month of lessons and reminders and instructions for next year's new home centered gospel learning. I'm excited to see how this is going to work in our family! 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Pumpkins + Life this week

I stepped outside this morning to take a picture of our jack-o-lanterns, and Porter came right out and started arranging things just right for the picture - "Isaac you sit right here next to yours, and I'll hold mine right here..." 

(Also, notice Ellie's pumpkin name tag 'Cacklin Jaqueline', and Isaac's excellent footwear!)

When Jordan headed to the store with all of the kids and plans to let them each pick out a pumpkin to carve, I was sure we'd have 5 mostly un-carved pumpkins before the kids were ready to be done. But, here they are! Landon, Ellie, Owen and Porter all stuck with it (with some help) and Isaac's (scooped then forgotten) we cooked today to use for pumpkin muffins :)

Also this week -- 

+ I've been sick with a cold - nothing terrible, but I just haven't felt good. I'm finally feeling better today though so I'm also feeling more cheerful/hopeful/capable in general :) 

+Work has been intense for Jordan and likely will be till the end of the year... we sat down and made a list of the non-negotiables: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve/Day, dinner together, help at bedtimes, etc. He'd been looking forward to a calm holiday season this year, but hopefully things will go smoothly still even if it's not the calm time we had planned on. It did make me feel excited to see all the happy things we have coming up in the next two months -- and maybe this will all help us prioritize the most important things with the time/energy we do have? 

I felt pretty hopeful going into this first week of crunch time, but being sick at the same time has felt a little rough (His longest day so far fit two full work days in - I know people do this regularly, but man!)  Still, we've had a lot of happy times this week with festivities and everyday life... we'll see how we do!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

And the day after Halloween...

Imagine instead one happy energetic child, two tired-as-can-be children, and two extra sad in tears children...
Some time in the last few years, I realized it's not worth it to get kids to school on time the day after Halloween. I let them know they could sleep in as long as they wanted and move slowly in the morning. Everyone was up by 7:00 still - Landon almost finished with all his morning jobs, the other kids half-asleep and ready to rest all morning, feeling like wouldn't make it to school by lunch! We had a much slower pace and some tired tears from a few, but everyone made it through the after Halloween crash :)

Also, I so want to remember this sweetness. Owen and Ellie and Porter spent hours on Sunday making "Happy Halloween" letters for Owen to deliver. And it was just so fun. He'd hand them the envelope and they'd thank him with a confused look, "It's for me?" And then recognize "Oh! You're the postman and you're delivering the mail!" And so many people were just so delighted with it - it was so sweet to watch. And Owen was so quietly happy about sharing this little bit of happiness - it was all just the highlight of the night for me.

Oh! And I had a costume this year for the first time since Landon was a toddler. I  I just wore black pants & shirt with a bunch of silver star stickers and a round white sticker for the moon - the night sky :) (It wasn't much, but Ellie was thrilled to see me show up to her class in costume!)

Happy Halloween

I sure love these kids! This mailman, bat, tiger, pigicorn, and Uncle Sam :)

My neighbor and friend texted the night before to say "I know Halloween can be such a busy day with a family, what can I do to take away a little stress of the day?" along with lots of specific ideas too! It turned out that Jordan had a day full of meetings, so she came over while Isaac napped so she could be here when he woke while I helped with Ellie's class party.

It's always so fun to help with the class parties. (Well, not always actually. It's so fun to help with the class parties when I'm not in charge!) The kids are so excited and thrilled with whatever big or little thing you bring. My favorite was one of Landon's 1st grade classmates about their Halloween party "I'm going to remember you forever! I'm going to remember this day forever!" (Probably not, but I still think of this any time I see him!)

I made up a little math game based on a game Ellie and Owen really like to play. It wasn't donuts-on-a-string but it was very fun and I was relieved the kids all seemed to have fun playing (and munching on candy corn too!)

After school we went to the Lee's Halloween activity (the line is always stretched out past the door, and the kids have memorized all the treats that they'll give out... but they are always so excited still, so we go :)

Then broccoli cheese soup + pumpkin soup bowls, last minute costume fixes, bundling up with layers, and trick-or-treating. We had 4 rounds of trick-or-treating this year -- Landon headed out with friends while I took the other kids to the three houses up the street, then Isaac stayed home with Jordan. Porter made it around a neighborhood loop, then went home. Landon joined up with Ellie and Owen and me after his friends finished up early, then I took Landon to 2 last houses he wanted to see after Ellie and Owen were ready to be done :) Then candy sorting and swapping and handing out for a few late straggler trick-or-treaters, and a late night to bed.

Halloween has never been a favorite of mine. But the other day, as we'd finished some Halloween prep, Owen was praying for dinner and included so sincerely "Thank you for all the holidays!" (He also slept in/tried to sleep in his Halloween costume every day from when we got it ready till Halloween!)  It is so fun to make even a non-favorite holiday feel magical for these kiddos I love so much!