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!")


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. 


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!)


To Listen

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


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.


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


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:

a watercolor class (online) that I started in January

my personal gospel study with the Come Follow Me program

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! :)

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

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

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

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!"

the process for getting more carpet (yay!)

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

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