Tuesday, March 19, 2019

DLI



Yesterday I was helping at the school, talking to kindergarten parents about our Portuguese program and helping them sign up for next year. When I got there, there was a sweet third grader sitting at the table helping and she ended up staying for about an hour more - helping and keeping me company so cheerfully :) It was great. I had brought along a podcast and a book, but it was much more fun talking to this happy-to-help third grader!

As I was talking to parents about this I was thinking again about how amazing it is that our kids - in this little town of Logan, Utah! - can be learning Portuguese like this at school. We've had some hard times school-wise this year, even to the point of some intense consideration of home schooling for one of our kiddos. But this DLI program has been a big reason we've chosen to keep going (also, friends!)

Also, it was so fun to see how many people had connections to Brazil! Parents who had served missions there, a family who had lived there a couple of times for work, a mom who was from Brazil... it was a fun surprise!

We had a service auction last month where the youth volunteered their services and the ward members bid on them. Landon's Brazilian dinner had one of the highest bids, and this weekend he gets to prepare it. (On Saturdays lately, Jordan has been letting the kids vote on what we'll do and making Brazilian dinner is almost always on the list that the kids pick out!)

I loved Ellie's response when I told her what I was doing to help out at the school  -- 'why would anyone not want to do Portuguese?' :)   I just love that this is all a part of life for our kiddos.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Basketball Season/Tournament



This Saturday, Landon ended his basketball season with a tournament, and it was really fun to get to spend the day with him cheering, hanging out in between games, and having lunch together in the middle too.

A few things about this season:

* Landon's a good player, but he ended up on a really good team (they won every game they played) with boys a year or two older who were all good friends already... it was a tough team to join! But the kids and coach were nice and mostly I was so proud of Landon for getting through it!

(Also, Landon said on Saturday, "Thanks for helping me through this mom!" which warmed my heart... especially since there were a lot of strong "Do I have to go...?'s along the way too)

* His coach was very good, and also very down-to-business -- no feel-good, Dad kind of talk like other coaches the kids have had. At one of Landon's last games, I found out he wasn't one of the players Dads (like I had assumed) but an older brother (about 21 years old!) Ha! It all made a lot more sense then  :)( Really, his coach was super. Landon learned a lot, and his coach was great at giving all the players time to play - even when a game was close and he might have wanted only his best players in!)

* At one practice (with a good deal of dreading leading up to it) the boys ended with a scrimmage like they often did. They were setting up to choose teams, and the coach said "but, I'll be the last pick" so Landon was thinking "well, good at least I won't be the absolute last one chosen..." But then, one of the boys picked him first! It was such a little thing, but that little bit of kindness really made a difference.




Friday, March 15, 2019

ten things on Friday



1. You would think these two pictures were taken months apart, but they are both from this week! Certainly in January I might wish for San Diego's constant 70 degrees, but the crazy back and forth we get as the seasons get ready to change is pretty fun too.

2. We've had a shiny red car in our garage this week that the kids think is pretty great. (From a friend who we pick up from school each day "Whoa! This car is way nicer than your regular one!"Ha!)  Jordan hit a rock in the canyon driving back from Ellie's ski day last week and the end result was that we're having to have the van's engine replaced. As we started driving our other van this week we realized it has some issues that we need to have looked at before driving it too much more. So we're driving this bright red rental! And we've been grateful that things are working out as smoothly as they are though even with some pretty big car troubles!

3. I came across this cyclist/artist's site yesterday, and I think the idea is so fun -- he plans out a route and then when he bikes it, his gps maps out the picture he designed. Jordan really likes to have destinations in mind when we go out for an adventure and this seems like it could be a fun thing to try sometime!

4. I've been tending for a friend for a couple days this week, and the boys have had a fun time having an extra friend over to play! We even made play dough yesterday :) Jordan took a half day today along with the big kids and took Ellie and Owen skiing, and Landon's playing with a friend so it's a quieter day with just these littler kiddos at home. (Also, Porter is not a fan of quiet time!)

5. Ellie and Owen have been getting up early this week and working hard to finish all their morning jobs as quickly as possible, and they've done great -  even to the point that they were both starting to wonder what to do with all the extra morning time!

6. We've had young women's activities at our house a few times in the last month or so, and a book group last week and I'm still getting used to these things. We don't have company over much, so even those little things feel big.   And I've felt for a long time like there's truth to the idea of how important it is to just invite people into our homes - imperfect as they may be - but then I also feel really stressed about that imperfectness when it comes down to people arriving in a few hours.  Still more to figure out here!

7. I finished the watercolor class I've been working on, and I liked it so much, I signed up for another painting class. (It's a very different style this time though!)

8. Last weekend, we had a pizza movie party like we do many weekends. It felt extra fun though because we had picked out a movie a couple weeks in advance and we even wrote it on the calendar "Ralph movie night" so we got to anticipate it like a big event for a little while.

9. A few weeks ago I took the kids skating at Cache Valley Fun Park, and when the pizza wait was too long we ordered some soft pretzels instead. As we were eating our pretzels, the kids were remembering their favorite street pretzels from New York and the questions from the kids   went something like this... "When do you think we will go to New York again?  If the kids all saved up all our money and we paid for our airplane tickets to go, would you let us go sooner than you think? How much is a plane ticket to New York? Hmm..."

10. This year, I've been going in to help with Porter's class once a week, and for the last few weeks I've gotten to also spend some time in Owen's class which I love. In Porter's class I get to help with "STEAM bins" with a small group (I love this!) and in Owen's it's the last part of the day when his teacher is gone to a faculty meeting so I just help or join in with whatever happens to be going on.

Happy Friday!





Thursday, March 14, 2019

Because


San Francisco Fall 2018
Last week I  read a sweet blog with thoughts on the new Mo Willems book, Because (I even ordered the book which came earlier this week and I love it!)  and on her own "because" and how the course of her life was changed by one high school decision. And it reminded me of my own "because" story that I've often thought about. 

As seniors in high school, my best friend Karisty and I were thrilled to be making plans for our time at BYU together. We'd been through the Honors and AP classes together, the extracurricular clubs and activities, the college applications, and the exciting acceptance letters.  I'd be working for her mom in the Engineering &Technology advisement center and we'd be starting our college lives rooming together. We watched for the opening day of Heritage Halls housing applications, and with help from her mom turned in our applications together the moment we could.

At Karisty's wedding (the next year)
I'd looked forward for years to the new start college would bring me - to be on my own! making my own choices! living my own life! I couldn't have been more ready. Somewhere along the way, I realized that I really wanted and needed my own space - even from my best friend. I can remember how terrified I was to make the call to let her know I didn't want to room together after all. But that moment mattered.


Because I made that so-hard phone call, instead of rooming with a best friend from high school, I moved into Heritage Halls and met my new room-roommate Laura, who became a rest-of-my-life friend.

Laura and me at Alta  (and the couch slipcovers that we couldn't agree on ;)

Because I met Laura, I also met Cassie, Andrea, and Jenn who we moved to Alta with after our freshman year of college.

The cheer squad at one of Andrea's marathons (in St. George?)
Because I moved to Alta, I met so many other friends who helped me learn how and who I wanted to be.

One of my favorite pictures -- our friend Kelda & Jordan at Alta
And Because I moved to Alta, I met Jordan! (Who made the great call of becoming great friends with some of my best friends! :)


And Because one sweet night Jordan asked me to marry him, I said yes!



And Because I said yes, we were married and had 5 dear children and have a wonderful family and life together!




(And it was obvious as I searched through my old shoebox of pictures for those college pics --- there were of course so many other little bits and pieces, big and little moments of 'because' along the way too!)

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

from Hobby Lobby


Three fun things from a Hobby Lobby trip last week:

1. I feel like I'm pretty practiced at giving a quick 'no' when the kids ask for pretty much anything at the store. (Except fruits or veggies - then I'm excited to say yes.) I'd answered lots of those no's to Isaac's requests through the store (giant basketball-sized plastic Easter eggs? nope.) As I was picking up some felt, Issac had grabbed this little rhinoceros from the clearance shelf behind me, and asked again "Can we buy this? Can we take it to our house?" He was so excited about it that instead of such a quick no, I asked "What would we do with that rhinoceros?" He looked at it lovingly and gave it an almost-hug and said as sweetly as can be "Say good morning to it!" And we are now the proud owners of a great little rhino :)

2. Years ago, I designed some cute little deer fabric to make into some cute little bowties for the zoo gift shop (here - and look at that cute little Owen!) and it was so fun to spot such a similar design right on the fabric bolts of Hobby Lobby! Not exactly the same, but the same white on grey and everything!

3. And I just thought that swirly picture was so pretty, and I just finished a fun online watercolor class so it made me think - I could make that! (coming soon?)

Monday, March 11, 2019

My letter!



For Christmas, I picked out this cute wooden alphabet puzzle for Isaac. We sat on the floor and played it together a few times -- taking turns putting the letters in place as I told Isaac what they were. I'd pause on the letter "I" to say "I for Isaac!" and B to say "B for Brough!"  Sometime in those first few weeks after he'd gotten this, we were singing our "B for Brough" family song and Isaac hopped up and ran out of the front room "I'll get it!" A few minutes later, he came back with the little orange letter B from the puzzle -- "I got it! My letter!"

It has been so fun to watch in the last several weeks as he has continued to be so excited when he spots one of his letters in a book or written on a note or in a picture... and often he'll even go back to his puzzle to find the match - I love it.

Also, his favorite song his the ABC's (which he can almost sing with some help). His latest version on his own goes (on repeat) something like "A-B-C-D-E-F-ee-G Next time won't you sing with me my A-B-C-D-E...

I think watching the kids learning about letters and learning to read has been just one of the most delightful things to watch - with all the kids. Porter is reading more and more and it is always such a fun surprise when I'm working on the computer or something and he'll peak over my shoulder and start to read along! I sure love these learning about letters and learning to read stages.











Friday, March 8, 2019

Writing Contest

Landon stopped by his 6th grade English teacher's room that day to pick up her personal copies of the books so he could get them signed by the author for her (Hooray for good teachers like this who make such a great impression!)

Last year, Landon was super excited to write a story (in Portuguese) for the young writers & artists festival at school. He was even more excited when his story was accepted and he was invited to go the activity, but then at the last minute we booked flights to New York (then found out within a few days that the writing fest was happening while we were gone!) 

This year, he wrote a great Choose Your Own Adventure book for this ("The Winter Campout"), and he'll be going to the writer's fest next week!

He also submitted his story to a young writers contest they held at the North Logan Library, and he was chosen as a finalist in the middle school category! Last week, we got to go the celebration. All of the writers sat on a panel, and answered questions about their work asked by author Tyler Whitesides. And this author was so fantastic -- every time he asked one of the kids a question, he also mentioned something detailed and specific that he loved about the story that person wrote. It was really impressive, and what a gift to these kids! 

Landon's friend even came along for the evening which made it that much more of a celebration for him.  Yay for Landon and yay for great opportunities like this!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

At last




Last year, we had this big kid's group in our neighborhood where we'd each take a turn watching the kids for a couple hours one day a week and then have 6 weeks or so in between with a free morning while the kids played at another house.  At one of these kid swap days, Porter made bath bombs at a friends house and thought it was so fun. Since then, he has been so excited to make them at home. It had been so long, and I needed some motivation to make it happen so I even got Porter some bath bomb molds as a stocking stuffer, and made sure we had all the ingredients in the cupboard. Somehow though it still felt so hard to set aside time to make them!

Finally, finally,  today we made them! We had an empty calendar day (hooray!) and a friend over playing with Isaac (till we started and they both wanted to join in too :)

And it was very fun, and also so silly that it took me a year to get to it since it was about a 15 minute process from start to finish (including finding the bath bomb molds from all the places they'd been over the last few months).

I'd like to say that I learned my lesson to just do the things I'm always tempted to put off, especially with the kids.  But I kind of know that the dreaded "we'll see" will probably continue... maybe I'll remember how simple this was though and do a little better?  It sure does feel nice to have finished this fun little to-do at last!



Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Girls Night Out

a pile of flower decorations from our Girls Night Out (I'll have to write more about these because they were so fun to make!)

Last night for Young Women's we had a "Girls Night Out" party with some of the ladies in the ward too. We met last week to make plans and I got things ready during the week, and managed to feel a lot of stress even though I knew in my head it was no big deal... still I was so grateful for help from the other Young Women's leaders. One of them just had surgery and I volunteered to take dinner over. When I arrived and she had a pile of decorations, lots of encouragement and ideas, and more offers to help I realized how silly and small my little dinner was compared to all the help she was giving me! (It reminded me of this favorite instagram post that I still think of so often - "How are we going to trade money - that don't make sense!")

We had a fun, simple evening - the girls came early and did a great job setting up and decorating, then we had a little photo booth, snacks & 'would you rather' questions, a "best" chocolate chip cookie contest and a very funny game of charades. And it was so fun to sit with some of the women I don't usually get to talk with much and get to know them a little better too. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

cello performance


Last week I got to take Ellie and her friends to an orchestra rehearsal before their evening concert. Before I went to find my seat, I was just delighted to watch Ellie and the other girls pulling out their instruments and the accessories they might need, getting their cellos and violins tuned, finding their music... seeing them all spread out in their little corner made me think of that famous painting (by Degas) where the dancers are just finishing preparing and lacing up their shoes - such a sweet capture of those getting-ready moments. If I could I would paint that little corner of the room with the cellos and violin cases and instruments spread out and the girls excitedly getting everything ready, for now I'll enjoy my little waterlogue app "painting" :)

And I loved her concert too. Jordan was on call for work so he needed to be home to keep tabs on things, and he kindly kept all the boys home too. So I just got this very fun evening out. I ate dinner and listened to a fun podcast and read a book while they rehearsed, and then I got to just sit and watch and listen to them perform too. What a treat!

This morning was "parents day" for orchestra - Landon took care of the boys (since Jordan starts work early) and Ellie and I were out the door by 6:45 (yay for Ellie doing this twice a week!) The kids got to show off some of their songs and their 'perfect position' holding their instruments and bows, and they even got a turn switching roles and teaching the parents a little song too. Ellie was super excited about this (even more so than for her concerts) so I was happy to be able to make it work out to go.  (Also, their teacher is fantastic! I feel like we are pretty lucky for the kids to have this opportunity!)


Monday, March 4, 2019

And a snowy welcome to March too



Welcome March with sunshine and blue skies and drip, drip, dripping, and also with lovely fresh snow and wet roads and cold days... March snow is fine for me because I know there's green under there! In January it's hard to imagine our Logan world was ever anything but cold and white, but in March, you just know Spring is on the way!

I had a happily productive morning, facing the day with extra energy for a Monday and working hard to tackle a "Monday, Monday" list of laundry, tidying, groceries, reading with Porter, etc. But now I have to tackle the second half of my list which requires decision making and planning and figuring out and brainstorming...

I'm thinking of a day a few weeks ago where I woke up overwhelmed with the tasks of the day and felt only the energy to pray for help with just the very next thing (most likely a first 'help me be kind to my children') and then, the next thing, and then the next thing. And eventually I was climbing into bed at the end of the day and felt such a wave of relief that all the things of the day were done (finished or not, I'd made it through).

Today's actually not a day like that, but what do you do when you just don't want to tackle the things that need tackling? (You just do. I know that. :) Plus some music? And maybe some peanut butter cookies to make later? )

Ready, set...
Ready, set...
Ready, set...go!


Friday, March 1, 2019

happy Friday, happy March!




Yesterday, the kids celebrated Baby Day (have I written about that? I'll have to more sometime.  I heard one of the kids yesterday explaining to one of their friends why we had a tissue box taped to the wall labeled in sharpie with Isaac's Baby Day Mailbox.

"Isaac was born on the last day of the month, so every last day of the month we celebrate baby day. So Porter made that for him today." I loved that it was as straightforward as that - like, of course - it's baby day, that's just how it is!

It has been a busy week. Almost every night I've left Jordan with some or all of the kids and come home before bed to find the kitchen clean, most or all the kids in bed - thank you dear Jordan! And also I'm ready for some quieter evenings to come.

Also, it has been lovely outside (except a bit of dreary grayness yesterday, but then it turned into such a beautiful evening!)  -- today is just a beautiful blue sky, fluffy clouds, warm sunshine day -- a perfect welcome to March!


Thursday, February 28, 2019

thank you notes


I have this go-to braid + bun kind of hairdo that I always do when my hair is in it's in-between un-done stage -- not straightened but not curly either - just wild and crazy and needing to be pulled back.

One Saturday morning when I had this in-between hair,  we were at Al's looking at camping gear and as we walked past a college-age couple, the girl stopped me, "Ma'am" (Not my favorite term since it always makes me feel old!)

"Ma'am, your hair is freaking awesome!"

Ever since then, whenever I'm pulling back my wild hair, I think of that funniest compliment and it always makes me smile! :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

warming up!



Things are warming up around here! The last a few days we had a pretty steady drip, drip, dripping as the temperatures rose and the snow and ice on our roof melted. And our front yard is no longer lovely white piles of snow, but more (like above) of a gunky grey leafy mess (but a mess that means spring is on the way, so I don't mind!)

 A few days ago, Jordan offered to walk to the school to pick up all the kids. I was pretty sure there would be some intense complaining (and we were picking up a neighbor who I wasn't sure would love the surprise of walking/scootering home), so I also drove over just in case. But when the kids saw the pile of scooters on top of the Bob (stroller), they were just as happy as can be for the walk home, so I drove back home and went for a walk of my own!

I kind of actually loved the winter this year, and the kids seem to feel a little sad that the winter is nearing an end! Of course, 'nearing' means we still have a couple months with likely snow every once in a while, but still -- it's warming up and at least Jordan and I are feeling excited about being able to enjoy some more walks and bike rides and other fun outside time.


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

a funny weekend adventure


It has been warming up just a bit, and Jordan has been excited to be out and about a little more again. Saturday afternoon, the kids were all full of energy (i.e. noisy) as I was trying to help Isaac nap and work on my Sunday lesson for Young Women's. So, Jordan bundled up all the kids and they all headed out on an adventure. They ended up at Del Taco to try out the new playground, and happened to be there at just the right time for their grand-opening activities too. Isaac and I drove down to meet them a bit later and Isaac was excited to get his own sword too. He even let the kids convince him to get his face painted to match theirs, and we had five very silly-faced kiddos for the afternoon!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Ice Skating


Porter has been asking to go ice skating and last week we finally made it to 'Hot Chocolate Club'! Isaac was super excited to try skating for the first time too -- He stepped out onto the ice for about 2 seconds then quickly said "I'm done!" Then he'd ride around in the stroller with me, and every few minutes he'd tell me again "I'm ready now!" And we'd repeat the few-second skating attempts.  

Porter was a trapper with his great little walker, and every once in a while he'd push it away as far as he could and skate to it "My goal is to catch up to it without falling!" (And he did :)

Every time we go skating, I'm surprised how much I like it and how much fun I have. But, every time my ankles hurt so much that it's hard to stick with it very long... what's the secret? 

There are a few ladies that are always there when we go and I love seeing them glide around, practicing little lifts or spins - nothing too fancy, but just so fun. (Also, there was a little boy about Porter's age there this time who was just racing around in his hockey skates - wow!)

We went a few times in the summer and it was a perfect cool activity, and after going last week I'm excited to go again (if I can figure out an ankle solution!) 



Friday, February 22, 2019

On a lighter note

2008 Landon at a Hoboken playground

Here are some fun things from here and there that have made me happy lately: 

To Make

Bread machine bread (adapted from a randomly googled recipe here) I made this yesterday with dinner and the kids were crazy about it in a happy wonderful way. 

1 1/2 c. warm water
1/3 c. butter (melted)
1/3 c. honey
1 tsp. salt 
1 T. yeast 
4 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
(measure the ingredients into the bread machine pan, press go, and enjoy hot bread in 4 hours or so!)

(After dinner when one of the kids asked if I could make it again tomorrow, I answered that I probably wouldn't tomorrow, but I could make it again soon. "Well, what do you mean by soon? Because maybe when you say soon you mean like 10 weeks!")

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Confetti Hearts by Amanda Evanston on instagram - I made these one night earlier this month when Jordan and Landon were at a game night and it was such a fun project and has been such a fun bright little decoration too. (And I love her wild painting style too! ) I still have some confetti and Porter has been asking to help make some, so we'll see if we get there while it's still heart-season. 

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Faux Fried Ice Cream -- I made these in my high school catering class, and have tried them a few times over the years. We made them for Valentine's Day last week,  and they were so yummy with some caramel and whip cream (and a cherry on top!) that I've been thinking of them pretty much every evening since! 

1. Vanilla Ice cream, scooped into balls (I like a few little balls rather than one big ball for a delicious crunch to ice cream ratio)
2. Cinnamon Toast Crunch, crushed. Roll the balls in the crumbs and then freeze for a few hours till it's time to serve.
3. Chocolate sauce, caramel, whip cream & cherries to add on top!

(These remind me of the delicious Bunuelos I loved at Los Hermanos in Provo, yum!)

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To Listen

Carole King & James Taylor in this song  -- those harmonies!  This album has been on repeat on our pandora account lately. 

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How I Built This podcast -- I love stuff like this. Especially interesting were Andy Dunn from Bonobos (where Jordan worked a few years ago) and Katrina Lake from StitchFix (where Jordan considered an offer last year). Also I loved learning so far about the background of JetBlue, Barre3, and WeWork.

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The Next Right Thing podcast - For a bundled up afternoon walk, this is just so pleasant to listen to.















on those tempest kinds of days

Our 2008 Hoboken apartment view
I was reading an article today about New York's tech start-up scene and it's growth over the last decade, and I was reminded of an interesting experience we had.  In the article, it talked about the market crash in September 2008 (and how that also ended up leading to a much more vibrant tech scene for the city).

What I remembered was visiting New York in September 2008.  Jordan had just started with Animoto and they'd flown our family out for a week. We went to church Sunday morning with the Manhattan ward, and the feeling was somber. We sang "Master the Tempest is Raging" and those speaking did so with expressions of great angst. And I remember thinking basically 'what happened?'  Maybe I'd heard little bits and pieces about the developing housing crisis, but, nothing like this. (Of course it wasn't too long before the impact already seen there became much more wide-spread.  A few years later, when we struggled to sell our home in the middle of a flood of short-sales and foreclosures, we finally felt its effects a little more personally.)

Something about that meeting has stuck with me though. From the outside, it was easy to sing "Carest thou not that we perish? How canst thou lie asleep?" And to know, of course the Lord cares. Of course He is aware of these struggles and ready to comfort and help... It's easy to read this scripture story, knowing the ending - and think of the fearful disciples and think  'of course, the Savior is with you, how could you be afraid?'

But, at other times, I've cried out in my own way just as desperately "I perish! I perish dear Master! Oh, hasten and take control!" (And many other less desperate, but heartfelt pleas.) Every once in a while, I've remembered that Manhattan Sacrament meeting and been able to remind myself - just like I felt so easily then - of course the Lord knows me, is aware of me, will help me. Of course.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

a clean house!

image here
I saw this on instagram just after we finished our whole-house-clean-sweep and it seemed very fitting :)

I had an ambitious goal in January (which then moved forward to February) to get all the rooms in the house clean (meaning tidy) at the same time, and this past weekend we did it!

Kathie helped me think a little better about my goal when she mentioned that trying to get everything tidy all at once may require everyone to freeze in place (we learned as we worked that this was true :) And it reminded me of my friend Gloria who used to help us with cleaning. She was a lifesaver as she came every other week and scrubbed and cleaned the things that felt impossibly overwhelming to ever get scrubbed or cleaned! For several weeks after she'd started, I'd constantly be apologizing for the messes though, and she finally said to me,  "Debbie, you live here! And you have a dear family that lives here!"

With a little better perspective,  it was still fun to reach our goal  - twice even! One Friday and Saturday we just went through the house room-by-room all together and got everything tidied up. Jordan came up with a fun (75% of the kids would agree) plan with activity breaks in between each room to keep everyone motivated. It did require a few re-do passes before we were really done (particularly due to one 2-year-old who wasn't 100% on board with the plan!) Then we went through again the next day and it was happy to see how much more quickly it all went the second time.

We may not repeat this again (at least till next January when the clean-everything-feeling is back), but it was nice to know it was possible! And even though we had mixed levels of support from the kids, one even asked "can we do this every day? because then it would always be pretty easy!"

I think we probably won't take him up on that, but we did enjoy a very short time with a very tidy house --  but I think we'll just keep living here and making messes and tidying up :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

memory book



Porter 2014
For a few months around the time Porter turned one, I was posting to Instagram every once in a while. A year or so ago I went back and looked at all those old posts, and was so touched at the sweet memories captured there. (Especially because that felt like a really hard time, so it was wonderful to see all the tender, sweet moments that were happening right alongside the harder ones.)

I just ordered a little book with all those photos, and over the last few days it has been so fun to see the kids loving to look through all the pictures and reading the little captions.

Little baby/toddler Porter is the cutest, and the kids all loved the funniest caption that came from 3-year-old Owen,
From Owen today, choosing a movie "I can't watch Ninjago today because it's not a Ninja day. When I grow up, sometimes I will say to my children "It's Ninja Day!"

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

President's Day Weekend


What a nice weekend. Jordan and the boys worked together to put up our wintertime little/big trampoline in Jordan's downstairs office (after the great lego cleanup by Landon with lots of help from others too). Porter and Isaac spent a lot of the day yesterday jumping and bouncing and playing on the trampoline, and Isaac has started to tell a story of when he has a birthday and he will open a new trampoline in a big, big box!

I finished a book and practiced some handwriting and worked on my watercolor class and  made muffins and went for a couple of walks even!

Jordan and a few of the kids ran/rode bikes to Lee's (this was so interesting - in the 30 minutes it took to leave from the time we mentioned going, it seemed like each of the kids had at least 2 or 3 (or 5 or 6) rounds of "I'm not going!" to "Please, can I go?!" and then back again!)

We made hotel reservations for our trip to New York later this year (!)

We cleaned the whole house (twice even! more later :) had friends over and kids off to play with friends, some sledding for a few of the kids... I took Porter to the basketball fun-shot activity, Jordan and the kids played SeaFall, we went to church and had our Sunday family study time, grabbed a mish-mash of dinner one night from 3 different restaurants, Jordan and Porter played guitar (with Jordan's fancy guitar even!)

And lots of other things too :)



Friday, February 15, 2019

thank you notes



You know when you vacuum, and you have to kind of hold the coils of cord in one hand to keep the cord out of the vacuum's path as you go? Earlier this week I was watching these little behind-the-scenes featurettes, and I saw in a few tiny snippets that there was a person who was basically doing that for his job -- holding the cords up as he followed behind the cameras while they moved around. Something about that (plus all the behind the scenes hard work by so many people) just had me thinking these last few days about how everyone doing their little part really just matters.

Our school crossing guard is so fabulous at this. Even though we've been driving through the winter, I still notice the great job she does. Besides her every day cheerful greetings, she finds little ways to make a difference. This week for Valentine's Day, she had a bright box out and she'd stop each child crossing to let them choose some cute little Valentine prize. At the beginning of the school year, she gave the kids each a  pencil with a little note inscribed on the side "from your crossing guard".

And she brings a snow shovel with her! If there aren't kids crossing right then, instead of warming up in her car for a minute,  she'll be shoveling the neighbor's walks to make the pathway to school just a little easier.

I guess I'm just grateful today for all those people who do their little part in such sweet, loving ways.


Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day!



I wanted something with pink & hearts to put in that gold frame this month. One evening I sat down to paint something, and Porter joined in. After both our paintings were dry and I went to frame my picture, I realized that I liked Porter's much better!  He was excited to see his picture framed and we've been enjoying his art on display this month.

And a tiny little  I love Jordan story:

I'm terrible at keeping my things charged - computer, phone, tablet, anything that needs charging - mine's usually almost dead. Jordan is great at this though and helps me a lot, even if it might drive him a little crazy!

Every night we use my iPad for white noise. At some point in the middle of the night last night, my iPad died (because I forgot to plug it in...) and Jordan woke up, found the charger, then kept the iPad under the blankets so the light wouldn't wake me up when it powered on. Fortunately,  I was awake and got to see that little extra act of love for me (when I really didn't deserve it!) And I kept thinking as I fell back to sleep - 'that's what love looks like!'

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Yay for Ellie

Ready for her Christmas concert

Twice a week, Ellie gets up early or races through just her most important morning jobs to be ready to leave for orchestra an hour before school. Usually she'll get a ride with a friend and be out the door with just an "I love you, bye!" from me before I'm even ready to get up. 

This morning, I was driving - so I crawled out of bed and drove through the dark in my pjs on the crunchy-with-ice roads. The girls all loaded and unloaded their cellos and back packs and music bags and off they went. And I felt so proud of this Ellie (and all these early morning orchestra kids!) Sometimes I feel frustrated with our kids when they make a big deal about little jobs or complain about things that don't seem complaint-worthy... because I want them to be grateful for all the good in their lives and to be great hard workers....

Watching Ellie and her friends make their way in to the building, with the icy wind blowing and their arms full, I was so proud of Ellie for cheerfully doing this hard thing! It's not easy to wake up early and rush to get out the door and remember to practice and all that. I'm grateful I got to notice a little better this morning this great thing she is doing!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Sledding!


Ellie and her friend were talking about the weekend on the way to school on Monday morning, and Ellie said "For the first time in my life I saw my Mom go sledding!"



Her sweet excitement just made me so happy. I think I've only been once since we've lived here, and probably three times total before that (!) (Ellie also said, when I grow up I'm going to keep sledding!)

I didn't want to go too fast, so I'd take a few steps down the (teeny tiny) hill before I started (sometimes too many steps and I couldn't even get moving, ha!) Landon on the other hand would set the sled on the top, take several steps back, then run and belly flop onto his sled face-first and use his hands to speed himself up just a little more on his way down! 

I was even brave enough to take Porter once (after Jordan let Porter and Isaac go together on a more mini-hill - super cute, those two boys!)

The kids do a lot of sledding, but this was our first whole family sledding time in a long time and it was very fun! 




Also, cute, this Isaac on our way back (he's learned well from his siblings) "Can we have hot chocolate now?

Monday, February 11, 2019

Saturday Plans

Valentine painting with cardboard tube hearts :) (When Porter hears Jordan and the kids are going to play SeaFall, he's either super sad "I'll be so bored!" Or super excited "Mom, can we paint?!")
After a few things in the morning (a basketball game for Landon and having some friends over for our monthly temple-going kid swap), our Saturday was open so Jordan helped us make some happy plans to fill it. He had a whole voting system set up to get everyone's favorite suggestions included - I thought it would just be fun to remember these:

The top three Saturday to-do ideas:

+ Go Sledding (check!)
+ Make a Brazilian Dinner (check!)
+ Eat Candy (ha!) (check, check, check!)

And the runners-up (which I think all happened at some point during the day too):

+ Play Anki
+ Play Legos
+ Play SeaFall (Jordan + big kids)
+ Play with friends

My ideas for 'go on a walk and listen to a podcast' or 'clean the guest room' didn't get too many votes! :) Jordan is great at coming up with fun plans for us - I'm grateful for how he helps us have these happy times!

Friday, February 8, 2019

our wild wall


We stepped inside this little t-shirt shop in Rio after we'd walked along the Copacabana beach in Brazil (I think we were looking for some cheap flip flops for Landon who had run straight into the ocean and then realized a day of walking with soggy shoes wasn't so lovely :) I loved the bright, crazy walls and last year (with some help and encouragement from Jordan) made our own wild wall in the basement: 


(Ellie showing off our New Year's Eve Snack Feast)

And another fun fact: There used to be a closet where that wall is now, and when we took the closet out, we had to build a second layer of framing/dry wall to cover up some plumbing things. Before we covered it, I let the kids help color patterns and designs all over the wall:



Just the other day, one of the kids asked "Mom, where is that wall that we all colored on?" and when I explained that it was covered up now under the wild flowery wall, they were pretty disappointed, even after my explanation of the super cool secret that only we know about,  "but then we can't see our designs!" (I didn't have the heart to explain how that was the plan all along... :)

I'm not sure how long this  wild version of the wall will last, but with all of our other calm pretty grey walls to enjoy, it has also been fun to have this one bright, silly spot too.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Half day friend day/ RA update/hope



The kids are all here and there this afternoon playing with friends on today's half day from school. (One friend is on her way to China apparently ;)

---

I've been thinking for a long time about how to write about my rheumatoid arthritis and the impact it has had on me over the last 5 1/2 years. (And those times at night when my writing-brain turns on, it tends to be much braver about sharing than I feel when I actually sit down to type each afternoon!)

Here's one thing.

Even though it has been a few years since the hardest times with RA for me,  I'm still  finding and noticing little things that help me see how much better I'm doing and feeling now just because I can remember how hard those things used to be. For example, scheduling one play date for one child was on the edge of impossible a few years ago because even thinking about sending that one text just felt too hard! (Not because I couldn't actually text, but because I was just hurting all the time and worried and so, so tired and overwhelmed and everything felt so much harder than it should.)

Having all the kiddos (except napping Isaac) playing today and knowing that it wasn't a giant effort to make it so is such a happy, tiny reminder of progress. 

I fell on the ice yesterday (one second carefully walking down an icy hill, the next second staring up at the sky from flat on my back!) and I woke up this morning just kind of aching all over... And I felt that old familiar discouragement settling in, and had to keep reminding myself this was just one hard day from that fall and that tomorrow I'd be feeling much better again.

Because, really, in the last little while I have been feeling not just 'better' but real, exciting hope! I've been on a new medication and have had a lot of general 'I think I'm feeling better, right?' kinds of days, but then in the last few weeks also some real, specific - I know I'm feeling better moments too.

A few weeks ago, I was cleaning the kitchen and saw a little toy or something under the table and without thinking I climbed down on the floor to get it. And as soon as I found myself on hands and knees, one arm reaching ahead under the chairs for the toy, I realized 'this is new!'

Not long ago, I wouldn't have considered trying to get into a position like that because it would have been impossible/painful/exhausting. But there I was! Without even thinking about it, I knew I'd  be able to reach down and grab that little toy and be able to get back up again, all like it was no big deal.

But, what a big deal!

One morning a week or two ago, I was making my every day oatmeal. I opened the fridge, lifted the full gallon of milk, carried it to the counter, set it down and then went to open the not-yet-broken seal - all before I realized 'oh, yeah - I can't open this!' And again it was such a wonderful, grateful moment! It was only about 7:30 in the morning, and I had gone through that whole process without even thinking about my hands.  (Also super sweet was Owen watching me and automatically reaching out for the milk to help.)

I know even a month or so ago I would never have tried to open a new gallon of milk that early in the morning, because that whole little process of just getting it out of the fridge would have given me so many reminders of how my hands weren't working as they should be yet.  Forgetting - not noticing my hands -  was such a sweet feeling! It was just a super exciting moment of recognizing progress, of  "oh! I'm getting better!"

And there have been lots more moments -- leaving for a walk with Jordan without first thinking through whether I felt well enough that day, taking a minute to consider making some scrambled eggs for Porter one morning (not yet, but almost a possibility!), waking up one morning and touching my left pointer finger to the base of my thumb (a celebration!!!) all these wonderful little things.

---
And now, back to this happy half day time!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

laundry solution/writing thoughts

image here
For a long (looooonnnnnng) time, I felt like I always had a blog post in process in my mind. In the shower, trying to fall asleep at night, on a morning walk, while I was doing whatever I would later write about...

After a year or two of very little writing, that little always-writing voice finally let up a little, and I realized it was kind of a nice farewell! 

When I started to write here again, I made a rule that I'd just write when it was time to write, but otherwise my brain was a 'no-writing-allowed' space. I'm not perfect at this at all, it still comes up often, but I can usually switch courses (except late at night when it can be tricky to quiet that part of my brain.)

I think that my old strategy probably ended up with better writing (since by the time I typed the words, I'd written and rewritten each post many times in my mind!) and not so many random thoughts kinds of posts (but this is not my job, so I can write anything I want. :)  

Certainly this way gives me more space to think and energy to enjoy all the moments that are happening as they happen. 

And now (unrelated), a laundry solution -- a year or so ago I listened to The Lazy Genius Does Laundry on a long drive. A few months later, I decided to try out her all-in-one-day suggestion. And it has been super great, so I've wanted to share the happiness! 

Monday is laundry day (and usually Tuesday too, but barely ever also Wednesday, and probably only once Thursday :) 

All the other days, I don't have to think about laundry at all. One of my favorite parts is that I always know that all the Sunday clothes are going to be clean and dry on Sunday morning, because they were all washed on Monday. Also, somehow I like the feel of this job on a Monday to kind of ease back in to all the things at the beginning of a new week. And it's really just such a great feeling of satisfaction to have all the laundry done. (Even if it only lasts a few short hours -- I get to enjoy that 'all done' feeling every week!) 






Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Valentine Fun



Porter asked if we could fill our kitchen wall with hearts again like last year, and we had just a sweet happy time yesterday picking out papers, cutting hearts, and taping them up 'just so'. I love how Porter loves to do things like this, and how he arranged them all just right - "I like how those look together!" 

This morning, we finished reading and homework early and still had time for Valentine's so we painted hearts for all of his classmates and he signed his name on each one - two happy Valentine mornings in a row! :)


Monday, February 4, 2019

Lego Robotics


This weekend our Lego Robotics group got to help out with the school STEM night, and it was a lot of fun! The kids on the team took turns greeting the families, and then they'd sit down with them and show how to program the robot to do one of those challenges (Bring a candy to you was the most popular :) It was so fun to see the kids being brave and being able to show what they've been learning this year!

We're definitely still figuring things out, but it has been so much better this year knowing just a little better about how things are supposed to work!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Welcome February!

Landon 2009 (I'm reminded so often of how we thought Landon was just basically a grown up at this age (not really, but we sure thought he was so grown up, where by now we've learned that a two-year-old is really a two-year-old!) 
This month, I'm looking forward to:

continuing
a watercolor class (online) that I started in January

improving
my personal gospel study with the Come Follow Me program

trying
one new recipe (maybe this chicken curry - my neighbor called to borrow curry this morning and when I dropped it off,  the recipe looked super yummy! or these cinnamon rolls (I know I won't, that's too many steps for me right now! :)

walking
at least a few times on one of these beautiful cold but bright blue sky days

reading
something sweet and tender and not too long so if I get hooked I won't abandon my family too long...(any ideas?)

listening
to kids practicing piano and cello - I'm loving this these days.

cutting and taping
lots and lots of hearts up on our kitchen wall

baking
more cookies with the kids (Owen made cookies (these!) for the first time yesterday "and I only forgot one step - to add the flour - and it didn't matter because you were here!"

starting
the process for getting more carpet (yay!)

repeating
my goal of getting all the rooms tidy at the same time (we were close last month!)

watching
for a few extra ways to show love in this love-themed month

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Reading Lately (Fall 2018)



The Candymakers - I really like Wendy Mass - fun and silly and creative. This one about a chocolate maker's son was fun and made me think maybe I don't need to feel so bad about how much I enjoy candy :) (though I still wasn't necessarily completely convinced at how magical it is either!)

The List - I had a thorough complaint crafted in my mind about this book and why it shouldn't be in the children's section at the library, but it's been long enough that some of my angst has faded (I mean, look at that cover! It looks so sweet and compelling!) But I do remember it was quite disturbing for a children's book - lots of violence and death and torture. (Also, just quite over the top in environmentalism - though I have to admit I questioned what I was throwing away a little more even after reading this...) Definitely not a favorite.

I'd Rather Be Reading - I liked her list of literary confessions - and there are more here on her blog that were fun to read.  I also loved her story of how living next door to the library kind of formed who she became. I definitely feel like the library was a big part of my growing up. (Like this cute tote bag :)

A Year Down Yonder - One from my bookshelf that I enjoyed re-reading - I loved this grandma! Also, one semester in college, I ended up at the end of the semester with about $100 that felt like "extra" money (I can't remember the details...) and I decided I'd totally splurge and spend it all on books (from this new online book-buying place I'd heard about from a professor called amazon :) This came from that little collection and I love the memory as much as those books.

Boys Against Girls - Landon's 5th grade teacher read a few books from this series to his class and Landon just loved them. I finally read one and it was cute, and mostly I loved it for how Landon had loved it and loved that teacher.

Becoming Naomi Leon - I'm pretty sure I've read this twice now in the last little while and somehow I can't keep the story in my head. Still I remember liking it and I'll likely grab it from the library again in the next couple years and enjoy it all over again. :)

Favored Daughter - If there ever was a more appropriate "one of these books is not like the others" it would be this one! I was totally hooked on this (since I knew very little of the history, I was so anxious to find out what was going to happen, how things were going to turn out!) I ended up finishing it feeling disappointed with it, but glad that I'd read it for the better understanding I got.

Once Upon A Marigold - A favorite happy, silly story from my bookshelf. I just realized there is a 'thrice upon' and I'm excited to read that too!

The Ministry of Ordinary Places - My favorite book on this list for sure. Also, I loved her instagram today.  I love the way she sees things.

What Alice Forgot - I read an edited copy of this (via sharpie censoring :) and it was a really interesting storyline of waking up one day and forgetting everything that had happened in the last 10 years or so... Also, I realized that I hadn't really (ever? hardly ever?) read any modern adult fiction like this. For example where the main character was a working mom/PTA mom/gym going mom... that was all just kind of new to me!

Princess Academy (The Forgotten Sisters & Palace of Stone) - I was listening go Palace of Stone over the course of a year or more and never quite got into it, but I finally got a hard copy and zipped right through it and the next book as well. Very fun Shannon Hale stories.








Wednesday, January 30, 2019

January



Jordan came home from a trip to Lee's with Porter yesterday and surprised everyone with mini pink sugar cookies, "Happy Tuesday of the week of the first day of Valentine's Day month..." (or something like that)
(I saw the pink and red m&m's out and almost bought them for cookies, but didn't since it wasn't yet February, but I was happy for Jordan's early celebration :)

A few things I've loved in January:
+ Helping take care of my kiddos and getting to show a little extra love and tenderness to them while they've been sick.
+ So many beautiful days
+ A few neighborhood walks and remembering how much I love both our neighborhood and walking.
+ New carpet and how much nicer it makes everything look!
+ Get well flowers from Jordan and a Tuesday flowers plant too

A few things I'm looking forward to in February:
+ No more colds/flus? (please?)
+ Red and pink and white and hearts and all the cuteness
+ Making Valentine's with the kids (especially Porter for the first time)
+ Taxes (weird, I know, but I like this!)
+ Knowing Spring is on the way! :)


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

cute birthday present


On Ellie's birthday, Porter was super excited about his idea for her birthday present. We walked around the house and he took pictures of things that Ellie likes (her snow fort outside, her kids cookbook, art projects she had made, etc.) Then we printed them, and he cut and taped them to these streamers and I helped him tape them up into place. I loved it. (Ellie did too -and they're still up 2 weeks later! :)

*Also, Porter's feeling better today! He's home from school for one more day (since yesterday he was still in bed all day and he's still coughing/sniffling) but this morning he has made a giant paper tape ball, a  mini-whiteboard, some kind of folded paper invention, and a few other things too -- and he's not yet been back to bed since he got up this morning  - hooray!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Our weekend



Today kind of felt like the Monday back after a long vacation -- everyone was extra sleepy getting going in the morning, the house was a bit tornado-ish (though surprisingly not terribly so), there are extra big piles of laundry waiting... except instead of returning from a far away land, we're kind of just still returning to the land-of-the-living from this long stretch of sickness we've had!

Landon and Porter are both still home sick (poor Porter! He's had it rough!) and Isaac's still not so great... but hopefully they're close?

Also this weekend though ---

-- I taught my first Young Women's lesson (and I was nervous! I remember every once in a while leading singing time in primary, even after I'd done it a lot, I'd still randomly just get super nervous... hopefully next time will be easier! (And also, I sure love these girls already!)  Also, now that this first lesson is over plus our talks from last week in Sacrament meeting, I feel some stress lifted! :)

-- Lots of carrying sweet Porter place to place (he's had a simple rotation for the last 5 days or so to keep from feeling too lonely: bed, white chair, couch) (I'm sad for him to be so sick, but I have been grateful for the chance to show him some extra love!) (Except in the middle of one long night... then I was just very, very tired.)

-- Game playing for Owen and Jordan especially (a little sick, but not too sick - just right for weekend board games!)

-- Lots of movies and popsicles

--Sunday home study time (we're still figuring things out...)

--Working on our budget together and figuring out (hopefully) some better ways to keep track of everything like we want to.


Thursday, January 24, 2019

poor kiddos



We've had a week now of sick kiddos at our house. Ellie was first, and we almost thought the rest of us would make it through without catching it, but then poor Isaac got sick and that was the end of that hope... (though I'm still washing my hands/sanitizing like crazy and hope-hope-hoping not to get this!)

Yesterday 4 of the kids were home. Ellie was feeling much better though, and loved having a day full of making programs and plays on code.org. This morning I was playing a game with Owen and realized I hadn't seen Isaac for a little while. We finally all started searching with just a bit of worry and Jordan found him back asleep in his little tent. Not too long after he got up a second time, he was climbing back in to bed to try to avoid taking some medicine, and it wasn't long before he was fast asleep again. Poor guy.

I had prayed for help to better show love to my family, and I'm certainly finding lots of  ways to love and serve these few days with popsicles, stories, orange juice, blankets, hugs, tuck-ins, movies, and medicine...


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

basketball time



We're back in to basketball season again for Landon. This year, he ended up on kind of a tougher team. The boys are nice and the coach is serious, but good --  the tough part has been that all the other players are a bit older than Landon and they are really good. (Landon is great at basketball, these kids are just  even better! :) It has taken some courage for Landon to show up for games and practices and just be cheerful and do his best. But he's doing it and I think it will be a good experience for him. It certainly feels better to be the expert at something, but I think he'll learn even more this season from not being the best on his team.






Owen decided not to play on a team this year because he was most excited to come and watch Landon play (I loved this). So far though, that has meant playing very silly games with Porter on the bleachers and every once in a while checking the score board :)