Tuesday, April 30, 2019

painting & encouraging

This month, I've been joining in with a painting challenge from the woman who taught the watercolor class I took earlier this year. Today's the last day and I'm excited to finish up and share some of the little pictures I've made over the last few weeks.

One of my favorite parts of this process has been the sweet delight of my children. Isaac stood at the kitchen table yesterday, watching me paint and said with excitement "You're painting my light up shoes!" Which to me was fabulous because it meant I was painting something he could recognize! (I can still remember trying to draw a dog for a toddler-aged Landon. When he had no idea what it was, I realized I wanted to work on learning to draw just a little bit better!)

None of my little paintings have been so spectacular, though there are a few that I love and they make me really happy. But listening to my kids, you would think I was ready for a grand exhibit!  It has been such sweet encouragement to hear their comments all along the way. "Wow!" "How did you make that?!" "You are like the best artist in the world!" "I wish I could paint like that!" (I wish I could paint like any number of lovely artists I admire!)

It has just been so fun to share my little work with them and have such excitement and kind encouragement!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow (a few little things)


+ Jordan realized another new last as Isaac raced to church on his balance bike -- no more stroller walks to church (a little thing, but part of a big thing so it still got our attention). Also, it felt like our Sunday morning just went more smoothly than normal -  There were still too-small shoes and kind of a tornado of a kitchen, but we all went out the door cheerful, ready, and on time!

+ I had signed up a month ago to help another mom make some Brazilian treats for tonight's International Night. I was super excited to meet last night and had it planned into the day when we left for church. Somehow by the time we got home though it was out of my mind and I didn't remember again until this morning when I woke up and realized I had missed it - ack!

+ One of the kids noticed me eating cheerios for breakfast (instead of my every day oatmeal) and they could hardly believe it!

+ Jordan took some of the kids for a long walk and got to see and try out the new sidewalk near first Dam.

+ I got to help Ellie quickly get ready a talk for primary, and it was so great to use the scriptures we'd just talked about as a family earlier in the week.


+ working out plans and getting things ready for a birthday party for Owen

+ Wild Kratts movie time for the boys this morning (from Isaac when they started talking about rhinos -- "I have a rhino!")

+ A super speedy-hurry to get back in time for kindergarten-shopping trip + two happy boys ready to hurry back home and eat the mango and kiwi they picked out.

+ a Monday morning school-time break down...

+ Loving all of the trees and bushes just about ready to burst out their leaves, plus the beautiful and wild forsythia plants around our neighborhood and the great blossoms everywhere. From the boys yesterday "Look! Our popcorn trees!"

+ Soccer for Landon and the school's International Night this evening (which also means dinner plans are set, hooray!)


+  One of the kids said this morning looking at the calendar, "Tomorrow's baby day!" This still delights me and makes me laugh that we have this Ellie-created funny monthly holiday.

+ A birthday party for Owen (we made it in his birthday month at least...)

+ Scouts for Landon and a fun surprise young women's activity for me

+ Last day of the April paint-with-me challenge I've been working on and having such fun with!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Bring your kids to work day

As the kids were getting ready for school yesterday morning, Landon heard on the radio that it was "National take your child to work day". Of course, when he mentioned this to the other kids they all thought it was a fabulous idea (quite possibly with a feeling something like 'A day off school? whatever it is, yes!')

Jordan was in meetings for the morning so the kids all did head to school, but when he had a break in his schedule Porter made the proposal.  It turned out that TPT had scheduled some in-office activities around the day, so it worked out great for Jordan to take some time also at home for his own version of bring your kids to work day.

We checked out the kids from school and they all got a lesson on what Jordan actually does for work.  Owen was really interested in understanding all this a little better. By kindergarten time, Landon was ready to head back to school and we guessed Porter would soon get a little bored (he assured me after school he would have loved to stay, whoops!)

For the afternoon, Jordan sat between Ellie and Owen (and worked through the actual work of the day :) while they worked away at their own programming lessons and challenges. Ellie loved this and was super excited to show me the programs she was creating.

It was a fun day for these kiddos and for Jordan too!

Thursday, April 25, 2019


We had a wild Spring day yesterday with a beautiful sun shining morning and early afternoon, and then a whirlwind of rain -- sun -- rain -- sun -- HAIL -- rain -- sun throughout all the rest of the day. Shortly after one of the downfalls, I picked up Porter from a friend's house by bike. All the way home, he was going out of his way to ride through the widest, deepest puddles he could find. When we stopped to pick up Ellie, he sought out more puddles. By the time we got home, he was soaked to his waste and splashed (from his back tire) up to his neck. Then he just gave up the bike and went to some giant splashing on his own!

I was making dinner last night when I went to check on something and heard water running in the (empty) bathroom... I opened the door to find about an inch of water covering the floor, and more streaming down from the sink and countertops. (We think Isaac must have been playing and left the sink with the drain stopped and the faucet on full speed...) So we had some more puddle clean up!

One hilarious bit of mischief, and one wonderfully sweet thing: 

While I mopped up the floor and cupboard drawers, etc. Isaac walked in with a smile on his face and a cup in his hand full of something thick and white that he had also obviously been drinking -- "What's that?!" I asked and he answered enthusiastically,  "The mix! I love it!" I then discovered that he had found the dumpling batter waiting to go into our soup, added plenty of water to get a more drinkable consistency, and served himself a cup-full! 

As soon as I started cleaning up the bathroom, Porter, just watching me, ran downstairs and carried up our giant laundry bin of towels waiting to be folded and jumped right in to cleaning up right along with me. It wiped away so much of my frustration to see and have his cheerful help!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Soccer Time

We're back in to soccer season! The first Fall that Landon played was right after Porter was born, and his games and practices were all at Lundstrom Park so I'd just walk across the street, set up my chair, and hold tiny little Porter while I enjoyed the beautiful Fall days and watching Landon play and learn.

We've since had a lot more seasons with games and practices for the boys from one end of the valley to the other (a nice way to see some parts of Cache Valley we haven't yet had a reason to visit!) It's so fun for me to watch them play and I still also love the time to just spend outside and enjoy this lovely place we live (those mountains!)

On our way out the door yesterday, Owen was asking me a question about his past game (how many goals did each team get I think) and when I didn't know the answer, he followed up with (kindly) 'Do you think you could watch the field a little more this time and your book a little less?' Ha :) I'd actually been listening to an audiobook and when I told him that I'd been watching the whole time, he said, "But maybe you were paying like 75% attention to the game and 25% attention to the book?" Fair enough :) It's a sweet feeling to know it matters to these kiddos that I see and really notice the good things they do.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Springtime Adventures

Jordan has been excited to be outside and adventuring again with these warm Spring days. Yesterday he took these boys on what was going to be a hike, but ended up being a happy afternoon of cave exploring and rock tower building.

This weekend one evening (picture above), he took most of the kids on a bike ride/run downtown to pick up sandwiches and KFC and then back up to Jamba Juice where I drove to meet them for dinner and smoothies and took a few kids back home. The other day they ran to Aggie ice cream (with just 4 stops to rest!) I was a little worried about maybe pushing them too hard, but Porter was leading the way on their run, and Owen has since been asking to go for another run! (And not even just for the Aggie ice cream "we could, but anywhere would be fun!)

Hooray for these lovely Spring days and Jordan's fun adventure plans!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Lightning Storm

Saturday night as we were getting the younger boys to bed, a thunderstorm was just getting started. We'd decided to stretch the rules on bedtime to let these three older kids stay up to finish our movie night, but the rumbling thunder and flashes of lightning stole their attention.

And we had this magical little time watching the storm. It was cozy and warm inside and pouring buckets of rain outside our open windows as the kids counted out the seconds between flashes and thunder. For one of our kids, sitting and watching the rain just fills them right up, and I love so much to see it happening!

Friday, April 19, 2019

This new first

Landon has been telling me for probably about 6 months "I'm taller than you, Mom!" We'd pull out a book or (when it started getting really close) Jordan's level, but as long as I stretched just a bit to the tallest posture I could, I was still taller.  We hadn't measured though for a month or so and sure enough, despite my best posture, he's taller than me now!

We made silly faces in the mirror -- as Landon said something like "I'm not sure if I should smile or not -- I'm not sure how I feel about this!"

A year or so ago, I was in line at the store behind a mom and her three or four teenage children -- surrounding her just like my kids do me - jostling each other, teasing, laughing. It was all very familiar, and I could see myself there so clearly - except all her children were looking down to her! Instead of being the one in the center looking out over the tops of their heads, she was in the center, looking up as she talked with any one of them. It was such a sweet and sad, just kind of strange moment knowing that would be my own perspective in a few (well, more than a few) more years.

But we're on our way with this tall kiddo!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Haiku Day!

Yesterday morning, my sister sent a text to celebrate National Haiku Day (did you know that was a thing ;) -- "Here's the challenge: share a Haiku that describers or expresses your day or week, or feelings or whatever you want :)"

And it turned out to be such a fun way to connect with my siblings throughout the day -- sharing little bits of our day in 3 lines (5-7-5), and getting to hear little bits about all of their days too!

Here are a few of our silly haikus from the day  --

I love to listen
While I do my morning jobs
To the boys playing

I think that a walk
will be just the perfect thing
to brighten the day

Dino-nugget lunch,
On my way to help at school
In the boys' classes

J and kids at home
Dinner to go with Owen
from scouts to soccer

(From Landon)

I have a question
Mom won't approve my haikus
What do I do now?

(Ha -- he'd gotten in trouble about something, so he had written a few haikus about the meanness of his mother...and although I didn't share those, I realized it might actually be a pretty good practice -turning all those frustrated, mad feelings into just the 17 syllables of a haiku... maybe next time instead of 'go to your room' I can try 'go write a haiku'! (not really) (but maybe?)

(also from Landon, who has been excited to be listening to some new music lately :)

Bon Jovi is good
But is incomparable
to Journey or Queen

Ellie also had a long series of haikus all about a plot against her brother that she kept passing me on slips of paper, trying to look a little mischievous each time but having a hard time not smiling when I laughed at each one...here's one of the last -

I was right, she laughed
But I laughed a little too
'Cause it was funny.

Really it was just such a fun way to connect throughout the day, and I'm excited to try again next year!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Water Aerobics (+ more YMCA fun)

Some time in college, I visited my Grandma Tripp in California and she mentioned a water aerobics class she had been attending. As she described it and how much she liked it, I realized it sounded like something I could do, and something that might help me feel a little less afraid of being in the water. (It seems strange to me now because I feel totally comfortable in a pool, but I remember clearly my motivation to try out a class was to overcome that fear, and I can just vaguely remember my first few days in the class and how close I stayed to the edge of the pool!)

I joined an evening class at BYU and quickly learned to love my evenings there with our fun teacher and with familiar classmates that became friends over my years of attending. 

I was a runner, and I learned that water aerobics was a perfect cross training choice because while it was a good workout, it was also super easy on my joints and always left me feeling stronger and ready for a run the next day (unlike kickboxing that I had tried previously! :) 

During my first pregnancies while we still lived in Provo, I loved the class even more (because the last month of my pregnancy with Ellie fell over the school's semester break, I joined a new class at the Orem rec center. And I can remember walking in to class, making small talk and another classmate asking when I was due, to which I answered something like "tomorrow!")  It was just great to move and relax and exercise and also just feel not quite so heavy for that hour in the pool!

Since we have moved to Logan, I still haven't found a great class to join. I know there is one at SkyView, but the drive has always felt too long. There's a class at the gym, but the membership seems high and the times have never fit too well with our schedules. For a few months last summer, wanting to find some exercise I could do without feeling worse from my arthritis, I did join the class and I did enjoy it (and even though I was half any other class member's age, I still enjoyed making friends.)   

We planned our trip to New York with one day of overlap between our time together and Jordan's working time, so I'd have one day on my own to do whatever I wanted. I got ready slowly, visited the MoMA and the MoMA design store, had lunch at Whole Foods, and went to a water aerobics class. 

The two pools I saw at the Westside YMCA were breathtaking. They were old and worn, but they were beautiful! The walls and floor surrounding each of the pools were covered with detailed tile, the windows painted with color, the arched entryways grand... I wanted to take pictures or a video of each corner of the pool because it was just so neat, but I was also in a swimsuit (+ a borrowed swim cap to follow the rules!) and not wanting to draw too much attention to myself from all the rest of the class members just coming in for their Tuesday morning class.

And just like always the class was fun and familiar - cross country skiing in the deep end while balancing on a pool noodle, running in place and circling arms in the shallow end... My favorite difference though were the quiet voices popping up from a couple of class members contentedly singing along with the background jazz music, and this comment -  "This music is so good, I can't help it!"

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

just a silly lego pic

Sometimes (often) when I'm not sure what to write about, I'll just skim through the pictures on my phone till I find one that I'd like to remember the moment of better or that seems fun to share. Today I found this most-serious Lego music group picture that Landon must have taken :)  I love knowing how carefully each guy/accessory/hair-do was probably chosen to create this funny little band.

On a trip to New York several years ago we discovered the lego stores 'build-your-own-mini-figure' and this has become the go-to souvenir.  Jordan and I had fun this time standing around the little carousel on our own, sorting through silly and serious faces, hats, shirts, pants and accessories to pick out guys to bring back for each of the kids when we returned.

Owen also got a lego set for his birthday (mostly a new thing for him though he's watched Landon and Ellie loving legos for quite a while). This weekend he was looking at all the other cool sets online, and he came home from school yesterday and jumped right in to washing windows and folding towels to earn some extra lego money :)

Monday, April 15, 2019

back to regular life

Kathie and Winslow left this morning, and the kids waved from the front window till they drove out of sight. It was sure wonderful for them to come and watch our kiddos for us while we went to New York! I loved knowing that no matter how things were going while we were away, they would just love these kids.  They would delight in their sweet and funny moments, and they'd work through any tough moments with patience and love.

{Thank you Kathie and Winslow!!}

And now, we're back to a regular Monday. Two children happily off to school, one not-so-happily off to school, one home sick with a sore throat, and one (almost) napping. Laundry to wash, groceries to buy, a suitcase still waiting for me to finish unpacking...

There's a strange thing about these visits to New York, more than other trips we take  -- for a week or so each year or so it feels like we kind of  try on this other life - fast moving, crashingly noisy, full and contrasting, tight and close and packed in, expensive and immediate...and in almost every way so different from the dailyness of our lives here in Logan.

Kathie was reading to Ellie for a few minutes yesterday "From the Mixed up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" and I caught this line about the main character's plans to run away to New York City -- "Claudia loved the city because it was elegant; it was important and busy." I love that too!

And also, I love our own real dailyness (even if it does take a little time to settle back in). Where we make our own beds, sweep the floors, get the kids to school and read together on the couch. Where Jordan steps out the door to head in to work in the morning, and steps back in for some breathing room every once in a while when he's thinking through a tough problem or just wants to say hello. Where we look out the windows and see not the breathtaking sea of buildings, people, so many lives so close together... but the beautifully calm and sure mountains, trees, and newly green fields.

We're counting down the days to summer break around here  -- 33 1/2 school days left ;) and jumping in to soccer season (first game today!), still packing up the winter gear (the boots did have to come out from the attic again last week with some new snow)  while also getting all our bikes and scooters tuned up and ready for springtime adventures. We have junk drawers (baskets) to sort through, summer plans to brainstorm, meals to plan, library books to renew, trees to prune, grass to re-seed... here we go!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Tai-Chi and other thoughts

On our way to the YMCA
When we visited Canada a year or so ago, we stayed in a basement apartment airbnb on a quiet corner, next to a neighborhood park. On a few mornings, while I watched the kids run and climb and play at the playground, I also watched a couple off to the side on the basketball courts practicing Tai chi. There was something so beautiful and connected, calm and peaceful, and also strong and firm about it that I just loved. I wanted to just sit and watch, but instead I kept an eye on the kids and stole as many glances as I felt wouldn't be too obvious.

When we were exploring 'things to do' in New York, I started just an outward search on google maps beginning at our hotel. A few blocks away (a short bike ride away, we found) was the westside YMCA. And they had a Tai chi class!

Jordan was a great sport and came along with me. We rode bikes through the morning, up through the side streets,  the air crisp and the fog lifting though still covering the tops of the taller buildings - it all just felt kind of magical.

We weren't experts! The teacher set aside a portion of time at the end of class for his assistant to help out 'the beginners' (us). But he was kind and we followed along the best we could.

Though obviously outsiders, I was struck by the sense of community I still felt. I knew if we ever found ourselves living on the west side of Manhattan, this was a safe, comfortable place where I could spend an hour each week and make friends (though maybe somewhat older friends). As class finished, they talked about movies they'd seen that week, the loss of a beloved pet, the new Tai chi form they were excited to start learning soon. It was so clearly a place to belong.

Also, I've had in my mind over this last school year a feeling of expectation or anticipation or preparation... not a nagging thought but more just a space in my mind of 'what's next?' Our children are growing. The hours of my days which have revolved so fully around Landon, Ellie, Owen, Porter, and Isaac for the last 12 years will in just a few years shift and expand, with my own 'quiet time' becoming more than just the sweet spot of well-coordinated nap times. Along with those thoughts, I've had a phrase in my mind the past little while that I heard on a podcast or read on a blog... ' do more of those things that make you feel like yourself.'  There are many moments in mothering when I do feel that - sitting close reading a favorite story, baking cookies with helpers up on the counter, practicing letter sounds or counting by 10's, tucking in at night or giving one final kiss to a sleeping forehead before I go to bed. Fewer, these days,  are moments on my own. Standing in that class, watching my reflection in the dance room mirrors surrounding the wood floor where I snake-stepped forward across the room and back again, following along and focusing on keeping my balance with one foot full and the other empty and ready to move, imperfectly circling my arms along with the instructor, messily, but as best as I could... I was surprised to find in all of it that I felt like myself.  

I worried about this trip to New York. Even up to just days before we left, I felt at times like I might ruin our trip with homesickness for our children. It turned out, I was okay. I loved talking to them, and wished I could even a little more. I treasured the minutes found in a quiet construction-zone corner on 5th avenue to sit with my back to an orange barrel and hear about Owen's birthday gifts, Ellie's school day, noises from the front room of the other boys playing and wrestling. They were all safe and happy and enjoying the time with Grammie and Grandpa while we were away. And also, I loved spending the days with Jordan, and even spending one day on my own while he worked (I can do anything I want to do!) It was a great experience and brought even more real-ness to these thoughts I'm sorting through of the years to come when our days, my days will not revolve entirely around these dear little ones.

Writing now about this short class, this trip away, I can see how it helped me feel just a little more okay about theses changing seasons to come. I was okay. I missed my kiddos, but also I was happy! I will miss these ages and stages and moments (like Isaac's attachment today for his new too-big shoes, Porter's tiger growls and off-the-bed somersaults...), and also - I'll still find new places to belong, new moments that make me feel like me, new happy adventures ahead.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

home again, home again!

Magnolias at Union Square Park

I had a wonderful welcome home last night with Winslow and all the kids picking me up,  signs on the door welcoming me home,  tulips in the front yard, and a delicious hot dinner from Kathie ready for us at the table! 

And Jordan and I had a really wonderful time in New York! The kids and I talked to Jordan for a few minutes as he walked back to his hotel from work yesterday (he has a couple more days till he'll head home) and I just loved so much the sights and sounds surrounding him as he walked through the city. 

I sure love our home here in Logan - our friends, our neighbors, our mountains... and I also love this great big city that we got to see this time just waking up to Springtime. 

"As for New York City, it is a place apart. There is not its match in any other country in the world." (Pearl S. Buck)

And it was so fun to spend this time with Jordan and have these adventures with him!

I have great plans to write more about our adventures, but here's a short (maybe not so short!) and sweet list for now: 

* Listening to General Conference from Central Park on Saturday and Sunday - with some biking, walking, wandering, watching, and resting. 
* A New York pizza school class (we're expert pizza chefs now :)
* Bike rides all around the city, traveling from place to place (I thought driving a mini-van in the city was adventurous years ago, but this was a new level of exploring!)
* Delicious choices from fun bakeries (here, here, here...) and other great food too (like this favorite!)
* Hotel breakfasts looking out the windows at the hotel we stayed in 14 years ago on our first trip to New York (not planned, but such a fun coincidence!)
* Little hints of Spring all around - especially bright yellow daffodils and beautiful magnolia trees
* A 2 Cellos concert at Radio City Music Hall (this was wild!)
* Biking the Brooklyn Bridge (harder than I thought though!)
* A Tai-chi class at the nearby Westside YMCA (with Jordan even!) that I loved so much
* A sight-seeing tour with a fun mix of new and familiar
* The 9/11 memorial and museum
* Our hotel room view of the city and the Hudson River below
* Finding rest for our (my) tired feet at a movie theater watching a 1970's Aretha Franklin gospel performance
* The 4th floor of the MoMA (with my favorite artists from my college humanities class :)
* A water aerobics class at the YMCA
* Bowling and pizza in Brooklyn with Jordan's team from work
* Listening to Michelle Obama's book while I traveled home

"I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the world's greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance." (Nora Ephron)

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Welcome Spring...and real life too.

Yesterday I wrote about our welcome to Spring Break -- with swings and tree climbing and happy playing...

And we did have all those happy moments.

And also we had just one of those hard days with morning to night arguing, fighting, complaining...
with lots of "MOMMMMM! _______ is ________!"  and some "Please ___________" followed by different versions of "Why do you hate me!?"

Last night and this morning as I prayed for help and for what I could do better, my only thought was to speak softly. (Except, in my mind it was more like an emphatically repeated "SPEAK SOFTLY!" Ha :)

And we've had a much better day. Much, much, much (so far! fingers crossed!) better.

Jordan stepped inside for a few minutes and I told him about my efforts to speak softly and how much better things were going ,(I thought all the kids were downstairs) and Landon called in from the other room "Yeah! You are doing great with that today!"

Isn't it great that we can always try again?

Monday, April 1, 2019

Welcome to Spring Break

image here (we don't quite have those blossoms yet, but aren't they pretty?)
Our week of Spring Break started today with April Fool's pranks  -- a mustache for Landon in his sleep, followed by breakfast cereal cupboard doors removed, oatmeal hidden by Porter, a surprise of Cheetos (you'd never get these for us!) that turned out to be carrots, shampoo in my shower (with a thoughtful warning!)  and other silliness.

Also morning jobs, piles of blankets for play, a trip to Whittier Park,  tree climbing and swing-swinging, and a hike later this afternoon when Isaac wakes up.

Happy Spring Break!