Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Thankful sillyness

Isaac was so excited for Halloween from the moment he first saw decorations up at the grocery store (September-ish :)  Driving to the school yesterday, we saw a blow-up turkey out on someones lawn and Isaac was thrilled to point it out and ask what holiday it was for. We started talking about Thanksgiving and how Thanksgiving time is great for thinking of all the things we're thankful for -- all the things that make us happy. We started talking about what things we were thankful for -- 

Me: I'm  thankful for our family. And for a beautiful day... What about you Isaac?
Isaac: (seriously considering for a moment) Cows!

Ha! :)

I love this little boy and spending the days with him. 

Halloween Fun

A friendly fireman, a mailman with a package delivery, a floating astronaut, and a swimming purple octopus :)

* We had a super chilly day with a couple inches of snow just before Halloween, and our first Trunk-or-treat was moved inside the church. I loved making a cute little camping scene for us (complete with mountains, mini tent,  s'mores ingredients for the trick or treaters, and a cardboard fire for 'roasting marshmallows')

* These cute kiddos loved their school Halloween fun, library storytime (for Isaac), Lee's trick or treating, and neighborhood trick or treating.

* Landon stayed home with Jordan to greet the neighborhood trick-or-treaters, and they rigged up a super fun little 'trick'. As the trick-or-treaters stood on the doorstep, Landon would answer the door and talk for a moment while Jordan lowered the candy filled jack-o-lantern bucket from the top of the porch down behind the trick-or-treaters to their happy surprise. :)

* My Dad & Shauna came for a visit and got to see the kids all dressed up in between activities and stay for a few days to visit. 

* I loved working with Ellie for a few days leading up to Halloween on making her 'purple octopus' costume. Somehow, I lost track of who was planning on what for their Halloween costumes and realized just two days before that Owen didn't really have a costume. But thanks to good old Amazon, he turned out to be a super cool astronaut! Cute kiddos!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Today I love...

Today is Ginkgo day! The temperatures hit just the right spot and our ginkgo tree has been raining leaves all morning. The kids are going to be thrilled to grab their rakes and play in these soft leaves when they come home! :)

Other things I love today --

Isaac and I went out to see if there were a few ripe raspberries left this morning for our fruit toast snack. There were, but they were perfectly frozen! :) Not quite what we were looking for, but a delicious way to finish off the year's last berries!

My favorite sunglasses have been missing, so I pulled out an old pair for my morning walks the last few days. They have the most perfect rusty orange tint to them that make all the gorgeous Fall colors of our neighborhood that much more beautiful.

I woke up early this morning to the sound of Landon working in the kitchen, making German pancakes for breakfast. He has been learning new recipes for a class in school, and it is so fun to see him so excited to keep practicing and making them at home!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

A few September things

A Saturday play day at the school playground (with the new school coming up in the background!)

We went to a bit of the Cache Valley Brazilian Festival where one of the kids performed a song/dance in Portuguese (and two of the kids watched as their classes performed :) I stood by a group of the Portuguese teachers and felt so grateful for these great women who my children spend their school days with. 

A few weeks into September the kids and I were all finally well (even all at the same time!) The great news even through the sick weeks was that the kids were feeling sad to be missing school (hooray!) and they have continued to feel pretty happy about school so far. This past week we had parent teachers conferences and the start of homework for the year, and so far everyone's still doing okay. 

Isaac has been telling anyone he meets "I do preschool now!" Our neighbor stopped by yesterday and was sweet enough to stop and ask him more questions all about it, and Isaac finished his preschool conversation with the sweetest "Yee-hoo!" of excitement all about this happy preschool time with Mom. 

Landon and I went to the first middle school PTSA meeting and Landon volunteered to be in charge of Reflections (one thing I have made a point of avoiding :) It was fun being in a new setting like this with Landon though! 


We took advantage of Labor Day weekend to get started on our basement flooring. The kids were amazing helpers. Jordan and I were both just amazed seeing them carrying load after load of carpet up and floor boards down -  these are some tough kiddos! With lots of hard work from Jordan, we're just about done and moving on to the next steps of a bit of painting (scheduled), baseboards (need to schedule), and couches (ordered!)

Jordan and I have been trying out a new meal plan thing, and I'm pretty sure I have made more new recipes in the last few weeks than I have in the last few years! It has been more work (and more dishes!!) but also fun to remember how much I really do enjoy cooking (especially without the decision-making part required).  This past weekend we had a beautiful, cozy, rainy Saturday and I spent most of the day baking and cooking and prepping things for the week and it felt just right.

Ellie and her friends spent an afternoon making a chicken costume for a play they've been thinking up. (Or, they spent a few minutes making a chicken costume, more than a few minutes playing with a pillow full of feathers, and many more minutes cleaning up feathers from the backyard :) 


Jordan and Landon did a few practice rides for Bike the Bear. One week before the event, they intended to do a 30 mile ride with hills to make sure they were really ready. But then, they ended up just doing the full ride! A week later they had fun with the whole pasta dinner/overnight/race day events and both did awesome on this 50 mile ride. 

Jordan and I (and Isaac :) went to one of Logan's Silicon Slopes events with the Lt. Governor speaking about technology in rural Utah. We were particularly interested in his ideas about improving employment opportunities through remote work, since Jordan has had great experience with that!

One Sunday morning just before church, with frustration about my requests for him to do his hair, one of the boys (no names will be named...) took matters into his own hands and snipped off the front of his hair (!) After a few attempts of blending his very-short snips later that day, he ended up with an all-around very short hair cut. (This caused a great deal of angst for this kiddo the next morning when it was school picture day, but has since been appreciated since morning hair is always done! :)

And now, Happy October!

Monday, September 23, 2019

College Visit

When we would visit BYU when I was a kid, my parents would always be excited to point out their favorite spots and how things had changed since they were there. "They just finished the Kimball tower right before I graduated!" or "This whole quad was just one giant hole!" kinds of things. I never quite could catch the same enthusiasm that they had, though I did like to stop by the varsity theater snack bar for one cent fruities...

Now, every time we visit BYU with the kids, I am so excited to point out my favorite spots and tell them all about how things have changed since I was there -- "my dorm was right over there!" "You used to be able to drive right through here!" "That's where my old office was!" I finally get it -- there are just so many memories packed into that college time and those once so familiar places. And even knowing that the kids aren't really all that interested, I still show them all my favorite spots, and they offer very similar reactions to what mine once were, with much more enthusiasm for the candy counter or the creamery (understandably :)

Last week, I went along as a chaperone on Landon's college visit day to BYU. (And I left all the sight seeing comments to the tour guide.)  It was a super long bus ride for a super short tour, but still fun to spend the day with Landon and always fun to visit this school I still really love!

Cake Day

I can't remember what the task was Isaac had to do, but one day last week Jordan promised him the reward of choosing a dessert for the next night. He did whatever it was he was supposed to do, and was super excited to choose "cake!" The next day, he talked all through the day about this cake. "I'm the chooser today!" Jordan took the kids to Lee's for a funfetti mix (and sprinkles!) and said yes to Isaac's request for one candle. His sweet excitement was contagious and we all sang "Happy Cake Day to You!" before the kids enjoyed this great mini-cake from Jordan :)

Sunday, September 22, 2019

A few little moments this week

+ Waiting at the orthodontist with Landon as he got his braces on (!). He fidgeted with his feet while he was keeping still for the brackets to go on. One floppy shoe fell off and I reached down to slip it back on and got a secret thumbs up in return.

+ Saying goodnight to Owen. After a night-time prayer, he always hugs me back with a great big hug that I love so much.

+ Bowling with the kids (Ellie and the younger boys while Jordan and Landon were at Bike the Bear). Wrestling Isaac (to avoid more bowling balls filling the gutters of the lanes near us...) as bedtime inched closer, and Porter taking his turn then hurrying back to his seat. Without thinking, he did a quick headstand on the chair, then sat down. (These headstands -- I hope I always remember Porter at 5 and 6 years old and his headstands!)

+ Sitting with Ellie on her bed at the end of each day (two tired girls) to read scriptures together.

+ Morning walks with Isaac. (Oh I love this beautiful place we live -- the trees, the mountains, the grassy fields...) And this cuteness -- Isaac noticed the moon up one morning and pointed it out to me. The next day, he noticed the moon in a slightly different spot and asked "Is the moon magic?" Also from Isaac - all of his so sincere and sweet phrases like "You're welcome" and "I love you too."

+ Falling asleep listening to Jordan read to me. (And his patience finding our place the next night when I realize how much of the story I've missed :)

Friday, September 13, 2019

These days

These are the days of...

+ new morning routines forming

+ slowly making progress on improving our yard - new curbing today!

+ better school mornings. We started the school year with a newly revised "short list" of jobs for the kids and even though we no longer have regular trashes out/towels folded/anything dusted, our mornings feel much happier and more peaceful so I'm still thinking it's worth it.

+ potty training (mostly) success

+ basement floor work (especially by Jordan, but with lots of kid help too whenever possible.)

+ rainstorms, hailstorms (with the largest hail I've seen!), and beautiful cool Fall days

+ after school snacks (I'm still at 100% for having a snack prepped or planned each day - woohoo!)

+ early morning orchestra for Ellie a few days each week

+ late afternoon swimming for Landon a few days each week

+ cub scouts and boy Scouts and activity days and young women and primary

+ happy full days that have a couple of the kids asking "please! can I go to bed at 6:30 every night?" :)

Friday, September 6, 2019

Happy Weekend

I went to our school community council meeting this morning, and it felt nice to be finally feeling like I'm ready for this new school year! Then, Isaac and I had a happy quiet morning - tidying up, a morning walk, movie time/shower time, snack time,  preschool time, working in the garden, reading, playing "Hoot Owl Hoot", making lunch together... (and then his sweet "I'm ready for napping now" !)

Our plans this weekend include: 

+ Working on our basement floor -- Jordan was ready for a big project over Labor Day weekend, so we pulled up all the old carpet (with amazing help from the kids!) and started putting new flooring in (also with great help from the kids!). We've kept up work on it through the week, and we'll keep at it.  I can feel though that it may get harder as the weather is now just about perfect for...

+ Some outside adventures! Yesterday Jordan and the kids ran/rode to Yogurtland, and it was still just a little too hot to be perfectly pleasant. But starting today it looks like we're really getting right into those wonderful Fall temperatures. 

+ Stopping by the 1st Annual Brazilian festival tomorrow here in Logan.

+ Picking up some farmer's market nectarines. 

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Back to School / Reentry

I listened to a podcast recently from Emily P. Freeman - Come back with Peace - all about the good of taking a break and her how-to of then returning to real life. And while my own break was not a planned and prepped sabbatical, but just a hard-to-get-better-from round of sickness, I still enjoyed the application. She described the reentry from space and how sometimes it is simple and smooth, while other times it feels more like a series of car crashes. We've not had quite the car-crash roughness, but definitely not the smoothest transition back to school, Fall, and regular life. Mostly I loved that tiny phrase that stuck with me -  'come back with peace' that helped me accept this slower than expected reentry of mine/ours.

It has been a long stretch of sickness, but yesterday morning as I helped the kids prep for school I realized, wonderfully, that I was feeling better! Not quite back to normal, but finally really hopeful that maybe I wasn't just going to be sick forever! (dramatic maybe, but still just exactly how I'd started to feel!) I finished up all the laundry and felt like it was just a little part of the day instead of the greatest achievement of my day :) I had a dinner plan on Monday night and a dinner plan for Tuesday.

The kids have had their own rounds of sickness (Three weeks into school and we've had a stomachache/headache/fatigue bug for a couple of kids, a cough/sore throat/earache bug for a couple of kids, and a nausea/throwing up bug for a couple of kids...) With daily 'please excuse' emails to the school secretary, I finally emailed  yesterday with a "One of these days we will really have all of these kiddos healthy on the same day!"

 I discovered yesterday (we've been in school for 3 weeks!) all of Porter's back-to-school info -welcome to first grade,  school supplies needed, first-day pick up procedures...  all those things that would have been good to find a few weeks ago!

 Still we've made our way through. Some happy sweet days and some discouraging days. And all the days where I thought of sitting down to write here while Isaac napped, but all I could think to write about was the latest  Brough family health update... But today, It feels like I can say "that was hard, and oh, how nice that things are getting better!"

And we've had lots of regular and great life happening in between on the good days-- a celebration and a pirate party for Porter's birthday, the start of swim team for Landon, piano and cello practicing, school lunch making, front yard swinging, preschool time with Isaac, a few neighborhood walks,  even a big house project that we've jumped in to. Oh --and potty training!  And (worth another celebration!) the kids are all still feeling relatively happy about 8th/5th/3rd/1st grades. :)

I'm hopeful today that I'll just keep feeling better and better, that the kids will get well (and stay well for a little while - please, oh please!) And I'm excited to finally enjoy the almost-Fall, back-to-school, new rhythm and routine-making that I've always loved so much.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Ready or not

Back to school prep with help from April 

It's back to school day! 
And thanks to April and her amazing help, the kids all left for school in clean clothes even. :)
We came home from our end of summer trip, ready to spend a day with laundry and then be DONE with the sickness we'd all had through the week. April stopped with us for an extra day or two to recover before heading home, and when Jordan and I both got sick (we thought we'd already been through it!) we were just so grateful for her help! She washed and dried and washed and dried and even laundromat-ed, helped the kids set out their first day of school clothes, search for their lunchboxes, empty backpacks... basically just made all the things happen that needed to happen on the day before school! (Thank you April!!)

And today they're off! 
I got everyone to school and Isaac and I had our first on-our-own morning. A quiet breakfast, morning jobs ('are you almost done?'), watering the garden together, some sick-day movie time, and our first little preschool time that Isaac was so excited about. Cheese roll-ups and our Hap Palmer and 'shake your sillies out' lunchtime music, then nap time and now this quiet time. 

I sure loved this summertime. We had some sickness and some normal sibling squabble type stress. But also so many moments when I felt like I wished these summer days could just go on forever. We've kind of limped into this new phase of back-to-school, but (ready or not) it's here and I do feel at least a little bit of excitement and wonder for what might come our way in this new time. 
Here we go!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Happy Birthday Jordan!

(Those flowers were leftover Springtime decorations, not birthday decorations :)

Jordan had the kids ready for church by about 7:00 in the morning yesterday so they could all get started on a marathon game day for his birthday!

Jordan likes to say that he's old (and to be honest, I remember my parents being 40 and they were old ;) but I still just can't wrap my brain around the fact that we might just be getting old too, so I'm still not accepting it!

For the last two years on his birthday, our family went out on an all-day biking adventure around town with fun stops throughout the day. This year, the day before his birthday Jordan woke up and decided to see if he could run a half marathon (!) 

(Side note: Once in college Jordan and a friend decided on a whim to see if they could run a marathon -- they mapped out their own 26.2 mile route and then they ran it, just like that!)

The kids took turns biking along with Jordan as he ran his half marathon in laps around our neighborhood! And he did it -- he's one tough guy!

The kids picked out such sweet things for Jordan for Father's Day and his birthday, and I though it would be fun to remember: 

Landon: A fancy board game (Splendor) that he saw Jordan was interested in on a game shop stop earlier in the week, and 24 fun-size Reeces 

Ellie: A Father's Day song cello performance and a mini sculpture of Jordan at work in his office, and some Peach Habanero jam and Reeces pieces

Owen: Firewood for a campfire and a batch of his favorite (thumbprint) cookies

Porter: A "Best Dad Ever" wood block decoration and a badminton set to play together

Isaac: S'mores ingredients and a few various tape/baggie/paper creations :)

Happy Birthday to this great guy!

Monday, June 17, 2019

School Time Lessons So Far

Each day for our summer school time, one of us (me or one of the kids) has a turn teaching our group time about a plant, tree, bird, or flower and planning an activity to go along with it.  These little lessons have been so fun - I thought I'd write down a bit about them so far so I can remember :)

Knowing we were going to be planting a few this summer I started with boxwoods, and it has been so fun to see the kids pointing them out wherever we go. (I had everyone first draw what they thought of when they heard the word "boxwood" and they made the greatest little pictures. Then I showed them some pictures of real boxwoods and we went for a walk/scooter ride to go find a few in the neighborhood) For my next turn, I taught about Honey Locusts and about how you can identify a tree by the leaves/bark/etc. and it was so fun to hear the kids pointing out all the honey locusts as we drove to and from Harry Potter camp later that day!

Porter took us on a walk to find a flower he'd picked out the day before, then we talked all about peonies. (He noticed right away all of the ants crawling on the buds, so it was a fun surprise to read in the flower description that you'll often see ants on the buds because they like the nectar). Then we went home and played a double jump rope game spelling out the word "P-E-O-N-Y" as we jumped. 

Ellie taught about peacocks and then we all made word searches using words related to them from what we had learned. For her next lesson, she taught us about cranes and then helped us all make paper cranes (one of her favorite things to do! :)

I stretched the rules for Owen when he told me about the plan he had made to teach about frogs (not a plant, tree, flower or bird, but such a well thought out plan that he got to do it still :) He taught about the stages of a frog's growth and made a little card game up all about it. (Later when it was his turn to play with Isaac during rotations, he taught him also and Isaac could name each card - egg, tadpole, young frog, frog :)

Landon taught about robins and took us on a search for robins with a prize for the first to find one (which we did very quickly right at the park.) I remember several years ago feeling so excited to finally learn what a robin was -- it seemed so silly that I didn't know, and once I did I suddenly saw them all the time! I am loving this school time for how it is helping all of us pay attention and notice these things!

Friday, June 14, 2019

happy Friday

Whoosh - Our second week of summer was pretty different from our first! While our first was full of new routines and summer school mornings and open afternoons... this week the kids jumped in to Harry Potter Camp afternoons (and Portuguese Camp for Porter), I had a last minute overnight trip to Provo, we're tending for some friends for a couple days, and we just managed one day of summer school!  (Still, thankfully summer jobs have continued so even with a lot more going on, our house hasn't fallen apart :)

I still need to work out a quiet time, or I know our summer will fly right by and I won't have anything written to remember it...

For now...
Happy Friday! The kids convinced Jordan to wrap up early and join them in a game of King of Tokyo. The boys all spent the morning running in and out, playing in the hammocks and with the water outside with friends... a really lovely summer morning! Poor Ellie is sick with a cold (which Owen, Isaac, and I are getting over).

It's bright and sunny and yesterday I (mostly) wrapped up a big thing that has brought a lot of stress over the last few months so I'm reminding myself that I can breathe a little easier and maybe even celebrate a bit today :)

Happy weekend!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Summer Lunch

On Monday afternoon as we were just about to lunchtime, I remembered a new thing we had tried out last year with each of the kids taking a turn making lunch (for all the kids). I wasn't sure how the kids would feel about it, and when I brought it up I kind of expected at least a mini-revolt. Instead it went (wonderfully!) something like this:
Me: "So guys, do you remember last year how we had the kids take turns making lunches each day?"
Ellie: "Can I make it today?"
Owen/Porter: "Can I make it tomorrow?"

Woohoo! :)

This was today's lunch (above) that the kids all helped Landon make (with some kind of a deal in place -- 'I'll make regular waffles if I'm making it alone, but I'll make chocolate chip waffles if everyone helps...' :)

I have been feeling this first week of summer that things have shifted for us. I keep hearing in my mind little clips of conversations with friends who have kids older than mine, 'oh, just wait till such-and-such happens, it's a game changer!'

Each little thing has been kind of subtle, but all together I'm just noticing. The kids all made lunch for each other this week with hardly any help from me. I ran to the store in the middle of the afternoon with just a couple kids and the rest home together and I wasn't worried about racing back. So far, I leave on my morning walks in the morning while the kids are happily playing together, and I come home to the kids happily playing together.  Not every moment is magical, but some of these little moments sure feel like magic.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Home Office

Jordan sent this to me this morning from his home-office-for-the-day :)

Yesterday he and Landon spent the afternoon hiking up to this spot and discovered that it had pretty great internet...so this morning Jordan woke up early and set out again with all his gear and set up a little office for himself where he got to work for the first half of the day. (He even had a few hangouts scheduled and a team meeting, so he got to show off the scenery to his NYC co-workers :)

We sure love this place we live, and Jordan is sure great at getting out and enjoying it!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

First Summer Days

A few things from these first few summer break days:

+ The kids discovered the card game "Authors" and have played it probably a dozen times in these first 3 days of summer!

+ Two trips to Whittier park to play (in connection with cello rehearsal for Ellie)

+ A library trip (so many good books to bring home!)

+ Summer school (and such a happy surprise when the kids recognized the boxwood plants at the library that we'd learned about the day before!)

+ Some fighting, some grumpiness...

+ More searching/researching/working/helping to find a place for my Mom to live before an upcoming deadline

+ Kid made lunches of chocolate chip pancakes and pita pizzas (hooray for this remembered tradition from last summer!)

+ Young women's, scouts, cub scouts, activity days

+ Starting new summer jobs of taking care of the garden, and morning exercise (I love how the kids have been creatively completing their '15 minutes of exercising' job -- bike rides, runs, sit ups, running laps around our front room loop, a dance party, walking/jogging in place while making pancakes...)

+ Lego playing, hammock swinging, slow afternoon fun.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Here we go! (+ Summer School Plans)

after lunch lego time
Today is our first day of Summer Break! I've been excited to be prepping routines, job schedules, and summer school plans. And it was great to see everything work out pretty well today so far. Here we go!

Things I will miss about this school year: 

+ Porter and Isaac's morning playtime. While I'd do my morning jobs, they'd play close by in such a sweet, happy, imaginative way -- but in a way that I know won't happen with the energy and presence of all the older kids.

+ Helping in Porter's class. Kindergarten is the best.

+ Quiet time! :) We were all ready for Summer, but still, summer for me is definitely more work. More work that I love, but also just more!

Things I will NOT miss about this school year: 

+ School mornings of trying to help/encourage/persuade the kids through their morning routines

+ School mornings of trying to help/encourage/persuade the kids out of the car to go in to school (phewph - I'm glad this is done!)

A few things I'm excited for this summer: 

+ School time! We had our first day today and it was a success -- We had fun and everyone was happy -- hooray! :)

We're doing a nature theme this year with one of us introducing a new plant, flower, tree, or bird each day along with some kind of activity.

Then the kids have rotations:
1. Read with Mom (I'm excited about all the great books I get to read with the kids and for this scheduled in one-on-one time. Here are our books for now (oldest to youngest): Far North, The Wheel on the School, Frindle (then Justin Case), Nate the Great)
2 . Play with Isaac
3. Writing (with these penmanship and writing workbooks - we haven't used these before, so we'll see how this goes.)
4. Tech (keyboarding/code.org/duolingo/reflex math) and
5. Piano practice (or Portuguese for Porter)

+ Good routines -- sometimes it takes a while for these to fall into place, but I feel like we're off to a pretty great start. (The kids were halfway through morning jobs before I was up, so that's a good sign!)

+ Morning walks

+ Summer programs at the North Logan library

+ Swimming

+ All the fresh fruit! And planning dinners around 'what's good with watermelon?' :)

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Brazilian Dinner

One of our family's  favorite traditions is making Brazilian dinner together. The coxinhas are the most labor intensive -- Jordan preps the filling and the outer layer, then all the kids help roll, shape and dip them, and Landon cooks them in the fryer. We make beans and rice, and I help (along with whoever doesn't have a job at the moment) with all the odds and ends -- pineapple (lately I've been loving roasted + chilled like I tried at Whole Foods recently - yum!), pão de queijo, and Brazilian limonada (with plenty of ice).

If I ever ask the kids for dinner recommendations or requests, Brazilian dinner is always on the list. If we ask the kids for 'fun things to do' recommendations, Brazilian dinner is almost always on the list too. :)

Yesterday, Jordan got started early and had all the coxinhas ready to roll by the time the kids were all home from school. Then he turned on How to Train your Dragon, and everybody watched  while they worked away, and it was a happy afternoon and evening.

(And a funny thing: one of the kids asked (with some level of silliness) something like this yesterday -- "What if for my next birthday, we just had a Brazilian dinner? And instead of cake or cupcakes, we had coxinhas!")

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

green and growing

With a few weeks of rainy, rainy days, our world is so green and lovely! And, today is our first sunshiny day with no rain in the very near forecast so it is bright and beautiful. I've been helping take take care of a friends' garden and since it was so rainy, I hadn't really checked on it that much because it wasn't needing to be watered at all. When I finally looked more carefully, everything had grown and grown! (Even to the point that I couldn't recognize several things and had to ask another friend to come help me figure out what everything was! :)

Mostly, there was tons of spinach needing to be used up, so this morning I made spinach muffins and spinach pesto (this was cups and cups of spinach and there is still so much to pick and use!) and some dill bread (in the breadmaker -- there is also a lot of dill and the only other dill recipe I know is gyros, so maybe we'll have those soon too!) We are going to have some spinach salad (me) and arugula salad (Jordan) for lunch in a few minutes. And I'll need to think of some dinner plans with lots of spinach and lettuce for the next little while! This is the first year I've tried any greens in the garden (ours are just barely sprouting now though ;) but I'm excited about it after seeing how well all of this grows! 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

First lost tooth

One day last week Porter came into my room to show me his so-loose tooth. I paused sorting out some things from Isaac's changing table, and Porter sat down up close beside me on the floor. "Look!" he said as he wiggled it, just as he'd said and done several times over the last few weeks. "Look, It wiggles all the way... " And then, out it came!

And it was such a delight to be right there, to share the sweetness and wonder of that first moment, to be paying attention and feel the excitement of this little first right along with this little boy of mine. 

(Also notice: Porter's second favorite shirt - "Awesome Dude" and the handle of his just this morning made lightsaber :) I sure love this kiddo. :)

Thursday, May 23, 2019


We have had pretty solid springtime storminess for the last little while. Today the wind has been wild -- Ellie's district fun run was cancelled (she was going to be in the fastest heat with the goal of not coming in last place :) I was so proud of her for doing her best and working so hard on her timed runs in P.E.!)

Also, I've been back and forth to the school a bit today, and coming home this last time after taking Porter to kindergarten, we saw that this huge tree at the park had fallen! It looks so crazy too because there are no roots pulled up or anything, it's just like it was balancing barely under ground and then just tipped over - Yikes!

Tuesday/RA Update

There's this little sound byte I hear on our radio news station very once in a while that goes something like this - -
"It feels like Tuesday..."
"Tuesday doesn't have a feel."

I heard this yesterday as I was heading from a late afternoon doctor's appointment to an evening Middle School event, feeling pretty miserable. And I couldn't help but think about how these days (because of one of my RA medications), Tuesday does have a feel and it's very much like the all-day morning sickness of pregnancy, except without the joyful anticipation of a newborn. Blegh.

Today, on a Wednesday, that seems like a terrible thing to write down -- what a complaint! It's not that bad, think of all the people going through much worse, etc. etc. But that's the thing about days like this -- they wear me out.


Last time I met with my doctor, I was feeling so much better. And so hopeful. (And it was a Thursday :)  The new medication I had started at the beginning of the year or so was working. I woke up one morning and I could touch my left pointer finger to the base of my thumb and I celebrated that huge, measurable progress! I was feeling so much better and so hopeful, even starting to imagine what it might be like to keep feeling better and better...

But then my progress kind of leveled out over the last couple months, and then the last few weeks I've just not been feeling well.  When I met with my doctor yesterday I was sick to my stomach from the medicine (Tuesday), worn out and achy from the arthritis, and discouraged with the lack of progress with my new medicine (Still very grateful -- but also discouraged.)

Probably it was great that I met with him on a Tuesday because I couldn't help but give a very honest report -- I'm worn out --  But, feeling a little embarrassed at my complaints,  I imagined when he left to set my next appointment that he'd be telling himself 'make sure not to schedule on a Tuesday again! 'But my appointment card returned with a Tuesday written in, and I felt so grateful.

Here's something about RA -- it's slow finding solutions. Medications take a long time to try out and see if they're working. We made some tweaks to mine -- keep going on the new one and hope for more relief,  a little less of the Tuesday-misery-inducing one :), x3 on the try-to-help-the-miserable-Tuesday-one-not-be-so-bad one, a little of another new one to try. And then we wait for 3 months and see what happens.

(Also --  My doctor shares an office with the oncology department. So, each time I have an appointment, I am overwhelmingly reminded that even though this is a hard thing to deal with, there are much harder things I could be dealing with.)


Today I woke up in recovery mode. Still a little sick, still the hardness of a regular morning. But, with the 'I can do this, remember all the good things' kinds of feelings back. Hopeful to think about new things and old things I know might help - things I can work on to feel better. Grateful to think of all the Tuesday moments yesterday that were still so sweet:

+ Sitting on my bed singing Old MacDonald and Sticky Bubblegum with Isaac and a friend I was watching for the day.

+ Resting on the couch and listening to the kids play together so happily, "Pretend I'm_____ and you're..."

+ Celebrating Landon and his hard work to keep a 4.0 this year in school.

+ Sitting at the kitchen counter, enjoying the busy-ness of after school time with all the kids plus a few friends over with Ellie to rehearse for a play a friend is creating.

+ Seeing Owen so proudly slicing up an orange - so happy for the new skill he'd learned.

+ A dinner of  soup and tortillas picked up by Jordan (along with all the kids) even with a long wait to get it.

+ And our warm cozy home, soft cozy bed on a cold rainy day.

Friday, May 17, 2019

remembering a happy farewell

I just found this sweet picture on my phone today of a happy memory -- the morning Jordan and I left for New York, the kids all made a plan to see how far they could ride their bikes along with us. While we loaded suitcases, they got ready on their bikes and rehearsed their plans. And as we drove down the street, they rode on the sidewalk along with us till the next corner (where we suggested they head home ;) It was a happy sweet send off from these kiddos we love. 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Ready for summer

We are ready for summer break around here.

Soccer season is over, end of level testing is done, our lunchbox stashes are pretty well depleted, and the kids countdown of school days (which has been going for the last month or so) is to the single digits!

I'm excited for ---

popsicles, helping the kids in the garden, slow mornings, daily walks, kids lunch making practice, some Portuguese learning time with Porter, the library summer reading program, some summer school time (though I still need to make plans for this), regular piano lessons, all the fresh fruits (watermelon! peaches! raspberries!) and just a general slower schedule.

Just nine and a half school days left! :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

two fun sandwiches

Early in the school year, we watched this video about pb&j in space. Since then, Porter chooses 'space sandwiches' about every other day. Something about it just makes me so happy each time he asks for these. 

Also, when Landon was a toddler, I started making these circle sandwiches (Isaac's above) by cookie-cuttering a peanut butter jelly sandwich with the peanut butter lid (Costco size, so not as much sandwich goes to waste). Still going strong ten years later, these were one of my great mom discoveries! 

I like lunch time with these two boys. I eat later, so usually I just sit and talk with them while we listen to some fun and happy kids music, and then we get ready to take Porter to kindergarten. I'm going to miss the mornings with these two boys next school year, but I'll just enjoy it for now!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Mother's Day conversations + more painting to come :)

A beginning rough-sketch of my Mother's Day flowers (that I drew today while talking to Porter and Isaac and encouraging them to keep eating their cheese roll ups and apple slices for lunch)

The kids brought a home a fun little game for Mother's Day (something I'd seen before, but I think maybe hadn't taken the time to actually do?) - A bag of m&m's with questions to ask for each color. I took time with Porter, Ellie, and Owen to each play on their own and it was a very sweet game. We got to tell each other about favorite days, bad days, things we love about each other, and other silly and serious topics. It made me really want to take more time for little conversations like this more often. 

A couple of answers I can remember from the kids: 
A bad day: "every Monday when I am going back to school" "All the days before Christmas or a birthday or something exciting -- they aren't bad, but they just feel so long because you're so excited about the next day!" 

A good day: "Christmas! It's like everything is just so fun on that day -- we have a yummy breakfast, and stockings are fun, and presents are fun, and we have yummy lunch and dinner, and we get to play with all our new things, and it's just like there is nothing bad on that day!" 

One sweet thing that came up through this (and on their little 'greatest mom ever' fill-in-the-blanks)  was about me drawing and painting -- Mom's favorite thing to do is ______ (paint!) Mom's really great at _____ (drawing) What's one of your favorite things about me? (You are great at drawing and painting!) 

Again, I know I'm not so great at this! :) But I'm learning and practicing, and it was so sweet to hear these little encouraging comments. I finished my April painting challenge and had only gotten my supplies out a couple of times since, but all their sweet comments encouraged me to keep trying and working on this! 

Monday, May 13, 2019

Weekend Report

One happy mailman at school pick-up

Friday night pizza movie party (Lego Movie 2) plus a solo bike ride to pick up our van from the auto shop.

Saturday working day (one last soccer game for Landon, lawns mowed and edged, garden prepped AND mostly planted - woohoo!, raspberry patch worked on, young women lesson prepped, mother's day surprises planned by Jordan and the kids :), garage tidied, bathroom flooded + cleaned (again!)

Sunday with lots of sweet Mother's Day surprises (sweet and silly notes and cards made at church, flowers and $ toward an ice maker from Jordan, garden flowers from Landon,  breakfast in bed plus a handmade pop-up book from Ellie, Paper hearts from Owen, a butterfly flower decoration from Porter, and a snicker's bar from Isaac ("can you share it with me?") Plus yummy meals and perfect strawberry shortcake for dessert!

Friday, May 10, 2019


A stop-sign taken picture on our way home from the library yesterday -- this rainbow was so lovely and so surprising because we hadn't really had any rain!
Today I feel like I'm bursting with stories and memories to share, but I just keep writing and deleting... I've noticed here on this dear old blog that the more close-to-my-heart thoughts I have, the more frivolous or silly things kind of end up on here :) That's okay though -- I'm so happy for all the silly and serious and every day thoughts I have collected.

Here are a few little things for Friday: 

* Landon has been looking forward to Friday all week for two reasons: 1) A childcare day in his FACS class that Porter and Isaac got to come in for - the little boys had a fun time and I'm excited to hear what Landon thought of it. (Also, I kind of can't believe that I'm the Mom of a 7th grader because I can so vividly remember my own preschool day in our 7th grade FACS class, how I took  my neighbor Sharla and we made little sheep pictures with cotton balls...) and 2) A new lego set (thanks to lawn mowing money :) is on it's way today "Will you check me out of school if it comes while I'm gone?" Nope. :)

* Owen's class at school has been writing letters for the Portuguese classes in other grades, and today he got to wear his mailman costume to school to be the delivery person. He has been looking forward to this all week, and I heard for the first time this morning "I am so excited to get to school!" (Bless his teacher for this sweet idea!)

* This weekend: We have been trying out some new bedroom setups this week, and I think we might do some rearranging to make them more permanent. Also, we had someone come and make some landscaping plans for us, and maybe we'll get started on those? Also, a few last soccer games, some Saturday jobs, a lesson to prepare for Young Women's on Sunday, some long-needed shopping for the kids... happy weekend!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

A few good books

One of these days, I'll catch up on my reading lately posts, but for now here are a couple of memorable books we've been reading: 

Real Friends by Shannon Hale

I picked this up at the library, hoping it was one Ellie might like. It's a childhood memoir, but written as a graphic novel (a combination that I loved!) 

The amazing thing about this book though, is that Landon, Ellie, and Owen all loved it. For example -- I saw Ellie re-reading it one afternoon and said something about it and Landon said from the other room "Oh, I've read that like six times!" I think Ellie read it at least three times, and Owen (who is a great reader, but so far hasn't had much interest in reading) has also read it at least twice! I thought it was just really great to find a book that all three of them enjoyed so much!

Becoming by Michelle Obama (particularly the "Becoming Me" and "Becoming Us" parts)

I started listening to this in New York and finished in the week or so after we returned home. I loved the first half, and was sad to pass the half way mark knowing it would have to end (and this was about a 20 hour audio book, so that was pretty long!) I loved the stories of her childhood, and her young adult life (As she met Barack and their relationship continued I was counting the years backwards and surprised as I listened along how late in the story politics became involved). 

I didn't love the White House years ("Becoming More" -- though the 'life in the White House' part was very interesting) - it was just a little too political for me (understandably!)  Had I been reading instead of listening I would have skimmed a lot more through this part and enjoyed it more -- I kept thinking about how much I enjoyed Steve Young's autobiography minus all the football stuff :) What I really missed in this part was some recognition that those who didn't agree with their policies might also be good, decent people like so many of those who did support them. 

Another library pick, I've been reading this with Porter over the last few days and it is just delightful. It's like "Joyful Noise", but for younger readers, and I've loved reading it with Porter!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Kindergarten Job Fair

I wish I had a picture of the job fair, but since I don't -here's another bit from "take your kids to work day" : )
Yesterday Jordan got to visit Porter's class for the Kindergarten Job Fair. (They've been learning about community helpers and also having an alphabet countdown to the end of school so they hosted a Job Fair for "J" day.)

Porter was happy and proud to have Jordan coming -  "It's the first time Dad has ever been to my class!" I had fun brainstorming ideas for Jordan to answer the question he'd been given - "What did you learn in kindergarten that helps you in your job?" (Reading, writing, using thinking maps, taking risks, practicing, math and numbers, coding...) And Jordan had fun talking with each group of kindergarteners, telling a little bit about what he does and what he loves about his work. 

Also, I'm sure proud of Jordan. He is just a talented guy who does a really amazing job in his profession. We feel pretty lucky for all the great work opportunities he has had, and I feel so grateful too for all the effort he makes to spend so much time with our family and helping us all in so many ways! :)

First campout of the year

This weekend, we had our first campout of the year! Jordan took a couple of the boys early and set up our tent in our favorite Green Canyon spot - beautiful right now with everything turning green! Then we all packed up (with our van just about filled to the brim), picked up our traditional campfire dinner (Panda Express), and off we went. 

We set up our sleeping bags and all, built a fire (mostly Landon!), Ellie and Owen swung in the hammock and played this new riddles game, Porter and Isaac wandered and explored close by, Landon read in another hammock... we had our noodles and orange chicken and made  s'mores... had some last minute sleeping drama and a crazy night of sleep or a few of us (Almost a week later now, I feel like I'm still recovering from the rough night!) Still,  Jordan was up bright and early making s'mores pancakes + bacon & eggs for everyone... 

The next morning,  we were going to drop Landon off at home to start his lawn mowing jobs and use the (clean) bathrooms while we were there. But then on the way back, Jordan remembered another commitment he had, so we just stayed home  and Jordan went back later in the day in between soccer games to pack up camp and bring everything back home!  (Hooray for a lovely camping spot so close to home!)

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Apple tree wreath

Yesterday afternoon, Jordan was pruning the apple tree and the kids were helping us pick up all the branches. As I was smooshing a bundle of branches into our green bin, I thought they just looked so pretty! So, I stopped gathering (and even made the kids stop for a few minutes too so they wouldn't pick up all the branches too quickly :) and I made this little wreath! It kind of felt like magic because I started wrapping a couple of branches together just for fun and I didn't really think it would work, but then it just did! A little wild in some spots, and the new little leaves will die, but I hung it up on the front of the house to enjoy at least for a little while, and I love it!

Friday, May 3, 2019

this week

Isaac and I have this same conversation almost every day as we drive to pick up the kids from school and pass the field of construction:

"Did the workers build the new school yet?"
"Not yet, they're still working on it"
"Why are they building a new school?"

Other fun things this week (May is always packed with so many school-related activities coming up before the end of the year!):

International Night --The kids each (with varying levels of willingness) performed a couple of songs and dances from other countries, and we had fun visiting all the stations and watching the other performances. One of the really fun things we got to do when we were in Brazil was attend the International Night of one of the dual language immersion elementary schools there. The older classes put on a Magic School Bus play (in English!) and then it was very much like our event with each of the grades performing, lots of fun food to eat, and displays from other countries around the world. (I remember one group danced to Pharell Williams "Happy" with white t-shirts and red baseball caps to represent the U.S.)

Ellie's orchestra concert -- I loved that she asked me as we were leaving if she could sign up for 2nd year orchestra next year - yay!

A funny young women's activity -- the older girls 'kidnapped' the younger girls and we went out for doughnuts. (I can remember something similar from when I was 12 and how I think I anticipated it was going to happen on a Saturday morning, so I tried to wear my favorite pjs to bed each Friday night 'just in case'!)

Soccer practices and games...

A neighborhood spring social at the church last night -- with scones and bounce houses that the kids (even Isaac!) loved.

A birthday party for Owen - with a super fun game I made up (programmed by Jordan) that was an electronic-scavenger hunt-clue solving-beat the time sort of game. I was excited for it and the kids loved it, so that was a win! :)

Another lego robotics demo by Jordan and Owen in Portuguese + practice and prep for that.

And now, happy weekend!

Thursday, May 2, 2019


A winter time picture at the school (though we did have a decent amount of snow yesterday too!)
(This is one of those posts that I can already tell is true for me now, but hasn't always been, and probably won't always be...) 

As I was walking to Porter's classroom yesterday, I saw one of the early teacher appreciation door decorations up - cute and clever -  and I felt this huge wave of relief -- I have no doors to decorate!!

Last Fall at back to school night as I finished visiting classrooms and talking with teachers, I headed to the sign-up tables by the main office. And then I decided to just walk past the tables and out the doors! It felt almost a little rebellious, while at the same time I sort of planned to just sign up later...

The first time I saw a reminder about the monthly PTA meeting at the school, I pictured myself there with the boys (as I had been over the last couple of years) with Isaac running around and me trying to juggle snacks/ipads/books/toddler/preschooler and also half-way listen in, feeling guilty about all of the things I wasn't signing up to help with while everyone else seemed happy to raise their hands again and again... and all I could think was 'Why did I do that? What felt so important that I put myself through the stress of all that?! So, no meetings for me! 

I still helped out this year, just in ways that felt more manageable and enjoyable - Jordan and I did lego robotics so I spent time every week planning and prepping and coaching. I've helped in Porter's class with STEAM bins each week, and spent the last 30 minutes in Owen's class that day helping with whatever comes up. I went to our SCC meetings and some meetings with the architects for the new school (like one I'm leaving for in a few minutes) - and those felt like they gave me a good enough idea of what things were going on at the school.  

Only about a month ago I was having some email issue and after checking with a friend about it, I realized I hadn't been getting any of the PTA emails for the year...I hadn't even noticed (or missed...) these! :) Only in the last couple weeks as I've gotten a few emails did I realize how nice it was to just not even have to think about or choose if I was going to help with one more thing or not...

(And really, I think that I've probably done as much as I would have if I had signed up, gone to monthly meetings, gotten emails all through the year... I just would have felt a lot more guilt/inadequacy if I'd been more aware of all the things I was saying no to...)

This is all not to say how terrible PTA is. We've benefited through the year from the hard work of all the great volunteers and the fun activities they've put on, and I'm grateful for all the people willing to help out in all those ways! I've enjoyed getting involved at the school with PTA in the past, and I'll probably enjoy it again in the future.  I've just also really enjoyed not getting involved in those ways this year! 

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

April paint with me Challenge

Here are a bunch of the little pictures I made in April for the paint with me challenge! This was so fun for me. Sometimes I'd sit down and paint something for whatever the prompt was that day, or sometimes I'd go just pick whichever prompt looked most interesting. Other times I'd just paint something that I wanted to paint and later figure out which prompt it was closest to. I missed or skipped some days and then I'd go back and do a couple pictures in one day, and all together I did about 24 of the 30 days. And almost all of these are first drafts. :)  Here they are!


Inspiration here


"I'm a sleepy head momma, don't want to wake up,  want to stay in bed some more. But the day's breaking early as always, so we get up, we get out the door. A new day again - so much to do, to comprehend. I'll show you my way, and you can show me your way, and if in doubt, we'll just pretend"
(This is one that I tried again and again and never could quite get right, but it was all good practice :)


I drew this cute Isaac when we were in New York.


We had this perfect afternoon with Porter, Ellie, and Owen playing and swinging in the hammocks. Jordan went to grab the camera at the same time that I went to grab some paper to try to draw the sweet scene.

in my bag

I decided to try this April painting challenge, and then we were leaving for New York, so I packed a few of my watercolor supplies and took them along! I ended up just getting them out once or twice, but it was still fun. I had this painting half finished on the table next to the bag,  and when I came back, the stripes had been drawn in for me by one of the kids :)


Porter still remembers that this was his lullaby I'd sing to him each night when he was little.


Ellie's favorite cookbook with her favorite blueberry muffin recipe (almost memorized) inside.


I realized pinks are kind of tricky for me to get the way I want, so this was a fun practice in color mixing.


The carpet pattern of our hotel room in NYC.


Peony practice (with help from this video too)


This was actually the last one I painted (just yesterday).I  have been loving the forsythia in our neighborhood the last few weeks, and yesterday I thought of this quote by Anne Lindberg and wanted to paint it. I hurried to get everything ready for Owen's birthday party and in the 10 minutes left before I needed to pick up the kids I was hurrying to get my supplies out - how fun to have found this new little hobby!


everyday oatmeal. Here's a funny thing: when we went to Brazil I wanted to make sure we would have enough familiar food for the kids and for me, so I packed an extra suitcase just full of food -- including our everyday oatmeal ingredients: oats, cinnamon, raisins, brown sugar & pecans)!


A first try and a second try (I love the second!) The first was just trying to paint what I was imagining (I do like those orange triangle-ish flowers). For the second I used this image as an example and it turned out much better!


Isaac loves his light up shoes!


I took a picture of this Hope sculpture on my day off (my day only own to just play) in New York. I sat by Ellie at the kitchen table at home while we both painted our own versions. 


My watercolor version of this print I love


This one makes me happy :)



I am just loving our beautiful green world right now. Ellie said the other day as we were driving along a tree lined street something about how much she loves to see one color with so many different shades (me too -- the trees are amazing in all their bursting and almost bursting stages!)


My watercolor version of this print - I saw an advertisement for Women's Conference and they had a little bulletin board display with this notecard pinned up, and I knew right away it must be a rifle paper print (I love their style! :) And I loved that I could recreate it on my own too!


My watercolor version of this. And a funny thing - I searched the house for a glue stick but couldn't find one, so I just took a picture of all the little houses set out and then scooped the pieces I had made into a baggie to finish another time!


The daffodils have been so lovely in our neighborhood these last few weeks too! (Also, when we were in NYC, the daffodils in Central Park were so beautiful!) I tried this one twice without success, then remembered Ellie had a "how to draw flowers" book and then my picture turned out much better!

in the kitchen


In honor of Owen's birthday celebration yesterday :) Also, Porter said today "That cupcake one looks like a real artist made it!" I used this tutorial for help.