Wednesday, August 26, 2020

"Ten Things Saving My Life Right Now"

I always think it's fun to read/listen to other's lists like these, so I thought I'd make my own - though most of these things aren't necessarily life-saving, just happy things I'm grateful for. 

1. Morning Walks -

This summer my morning walks have stretched out most days beyond my every-day one mile loop with an extra loop around one more block, or two, or three. It has been so great to have this little time and space each day, and I have felt so grateful to be feeling strong and well and able to do this!

2. My pink zebra hat & sunglasses

Every morning as I head out the door for a walk, I grab my phone & earbuds and my hat and sunglasses. A couple of summers ago when I realized I really needed to do better at protecting my skin, I started wearing sunscreen every day and bought a hat too. I liked it so much that when (I thought) I lost it the next summer, I ordered another. Then when I happily found the original I was just so glad to have a back up! 

Similar story -- 

I bought a pair of sunglasses years ago (a random purchase from Costco when we first moved to Logan and still drove down to Ogden for Costco/Target/Kid-to-kid errands). I liked them so much that when I lost them at the Provo Freedom Fair a couple of years ago, I searched and searched until I found another pair online (at this point they were 6-7 years old!) Last year, those broke and I tried several others that weren't quite right and this summer I was able find another pair of these online (10 years old now!) so I am back to my favorite sunglasses again! 

3. Cut-off shorts

Ha! Similar story -- 

I had a favorite pair of jeans that I bought at a used thrift shop in Provo back in college (almost 2 decades ago!) I liked them so much (there's a theme here! :) that I went back to that same shop and found another pair. Years later  one pair had been cut off into shorts and the others were so worn they had to be retired.  But, I searched online and found another pair of the same pants! (15 years after I bought them used!) This summer I needed a new pair of shorts, and I searched online and found the same pants to make into shorts (again -- almost 20 years later now! This just feels like such a happy wonder to me!) and now I have some perfect fitting shorts again. (I've found that if my shorts/jeans don't fit well at the waist - too loose or too snug - it makes me feel just kind of grumpy all day, so good fitting pants/shorts really are close to to that 'save my life' description!)

4. Every day lunch -- 

Pretty much every day this summer I've had the same yummy lunch (crispy quesadillas + guacamole, veggies & fruit) And I have loved not having to think about what to eat every afternoon!

5. Popsicles & chocolate covered cinnamon bears

My favorite treats of this summer! (Plus a new favorite popsicle this summer - Outshine coconut - yum!)

6. Bike rides with Ellie 

At least once a day, and often more Ellie asks me to go on a bike ride, and I have loved these bike rides so, so much! We ride to the rooster (a funny metal statue in a front yard in our neighborhood) or for a loop around the school (that we've gotten to watch change day-by-day as they've been building/finishing.) Jordan has started coming along on these rides also, and that's been fun too! 

7. Our garden

We've had a nice garden almost since we moved here with garden boxes and kid assignments to take care of each one. Jordan had the idea to also plant a really big garden in our park strip this year where there used to just be rocks (& weeds). He (and all of us too!) worked really hard getting it all ready (and I think I was just kind of going along with his funny plan.) But then I started planting seeds and taking care of them and seeing them grow and pretty soon this was just such a happy part of my day to go out and work in the great, lovely garden we'd grown! It has been so fun - since it's out front I've gotten to see so many neighbors who stop to visit or say hello as they're walking by.  Working out there has just been a delightful way to start my summer days. 

8. School planning

The choice to have the kids do school at home this year was really hard and overwhelming. But once the choice was made, it has actually been really fun to work on all the planning and prepping. And so far, (about 1 week in) everything has been going really well with our school time too!

9. Prodigy for Isaac

In the Spring, one of the hardest parts of our school time (when school was canceled) was helping Isaac find good things to do while I was trying to help all the kids with their things as well. We found our groove (including an assigned 15 minutes "play with Isaac" for each of the kids as part of school time) but it took some work. So far in our first week, prodigy has been a great help for this too! :) There have been enough times that one of the kids is playing prodigy for a few minutes after finishing their math and Isaac will finish what he's working on and just watch them play until I finish with someone and can help him get started on the next thing. It's just a little thing but it's really been surprisingly helpful!

10. Wednesdays    

TPT has been very supportive throughout this COVID time. One amazing thing they have done is giving parents some extra PTO to help with child care. This has been a life saver for us. Each Wednesday (since April I think!) Jordan has worked an early half day (5- 9-ish) and then taken the kids on some kind of adventure while I've had some alone time. This has been so great. I love my family and my kiddos and I also get overwhelmed with so much happening so much of the time with everyone always home. So it has been great to have this quiet time. To get jobs done, tidy up, take care of little things, and even sometimes eat Rice Krispie treats for a morning snack or other silly things like that :) And these Wednesdays will probably be the most happy and memorable time of the summer for the kids too with hikes at Tony Grove and screen time/game time + hammocks at Old Main and other fun adventures too. 

Bonus things: 

+ Reading scriptures each night with Ellie, 

+ Waking up slowly each day with one or two of the kids always coming in to rest or talk or draw on the iPad for a few minutes beside me.

+ The right medicines that are helping me feel good so much of the time!

+ Pandora music (favorites this summer: Lori McKenna, Cat Stevens station, Hamilton, For what it's worth station, John Denver station, Finding Neverland station, 90's country station... lots more!)




First Day of School Morning

 


I took this picture of Landon and a friend out playing frisbee this morning as I returned from my walk. I watched them playing, talking, masks on, and was just struck by the strangeness of life right now. Landon's friend will go to school this afternoon for 2 hours with half of the students at his high school (the other half will have gone for 2 hours in the morning.) Everyone will be in masks and social distancing as best they can. Lots of hand washing and building cleaning. Etc. 

And we'd have our first day of school too -- very different from any other first day-- with all the kids learning at home this year. 

A few morning moments: 

+ One child was finished with all their morning jobs plus a few school time jobs by about 7:00 when they came in and joined me in my bed to ask "what else can I get started on?"

+ One child may have asked "what is there to smile about?" for our first-day-of-school pictures, BUT quickly turned things around.

+ The kids all went over to the field and played with a giant frisbee for their morning exercise. 

+ Checked on our garden, watered - happy to see those red cherry tomatoes! Working on the garden each morning has been such a happy, bright part of these summer days. 

+ And I love morning walks! And how I've almost always been able to add an extra loop or two these days. (Even though today that meant I was short on time and had to choose between breakfast & shower :)

+ Poured the milk for Isaac who had his cereal all ready to go. 

+ One child who has loved to wear his shirts inside out & backwards through the summer picked out a collared shirt and wore it right side out and forward -- looking sharp for this first day of school! 

+ Two children enjoyed their done-with-morning-jobs, not-yet-school-time time curling up to read. Another, played legos. 

+ And it's back-to-school time -- ready, set go! 




Wednesday, May 27, 2020

trucks for 3 minutes


Jordan is doing school time today with the kids, and I'm using the time to make plans for our summer school time and our summer days. As I was thinking about each of the kids and making notes about what each of them needs right now,  Isaac's list was simple
1. Read to Isaac
2. Play

Then I started to remember (what feels like a different world, almost as much of a memory as any of the older kids toddler & preschool days) what our days were like a few months ago, just me and Isaac.

Morning jobs, movie time/shower time, preschool time. On our own, preschool time was a scribbled list of activities with a little drawing for Isaac to see what was next. And always on the list was trucks for 3 minutes. Thinking about that trucks for 3 minutes filled me up with all the feelings and I had to switch courses from my plans to write just a minute and remember.

Isaac loved to play trucks -- the kind of play that is hardest for me where 'you be this one' and 'I'll be this one' and we take our trucks on imaginary adventures. So I'd set a timer for 3 minutes and every day we'd play and it was as much as I could happily do, and it was something. And then we'd do other things together that were also sweet and happy for both of us.

And now those days are gone and I don't even know for sure if Isaac still loves playing trucks. And really, I could only manage 3 minutes? Why is that? (Though I think I will always remember playing ducks with little Landon when I hadn't yet learned to set a timer and I know that wasn't my favorite, though it was memorable!)


I am sad that those sweet, slow days with just Isaac at home were cut short. We've figured things out and we've made it through this school year with 2 1/2 months of learning to home school, and many things have worked well and some things have been hard.   This little thing of playing with Isaac, of talking with him, of seeing the world for a few hours each day with just my 3-year-old little boy -- I hadn't realized till just now, thinking of those trucks for 3 minutes days -- I miss those days.


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Timeline




I always have a hard time writing in the middle. It's so much easier to sit down and write when the story has a beginning, middle & end. But right in the middle I don't know yet the what perspective to take, what lessons I'll learn. Still, I feel like I'll regret having no record of this wild time we are in the middle of, so here's my first attempt to write right from this uncomfortable middle.

I thought I'd try today to piece together our own Brough family Coronavirus timeline of how things felt as this began to become a part of our lives more and more.

About a week into all this, Isaac said in a prayer "Thank thee for our Brough family world..." and that little phrase has stuck in my head. These last 7+ weeks it definitely has felt like we've lived in our own little 'Brough family world!'


End of January 2020

We planned a trip to Disneyland! As it neared, we began to see more news about the coronavirus in China.  A week before our trip, Wuhan was locked down to slow the spread of the sickness. I think that a couple of cases had appeared in Washington and New York at this point. We worried a bit about how safe we would feel on our trip to Disneyland with so many travelers gathering, and I stocked up on Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer for the trip.



January 30- February 5

We had a wonderful time at Disneyland! We wiped down our airplane spaces, and made an extra effort to wash/sanitize our hands before meals while traveling, but felt pretty safe overall.

Every time I think of this trip, I am so grateful we were able to have this wonderful, happy time!

February 2020





February was full of all the regular life kinds of things, all of which feel important right now since things have changed so much since then. From our calendar --


Jordan and I taught our Lego Robotics club and made plans for the last 6 weeks or so. Isaac and I had preschool time, and swapped days with a friend twice a week. Landon swam after school twice/week. Landon and I had Young Men/Young Women activities, including the annual Valentine's dinner. Ellie had cello lessons and Ambassador practice. Jordan and the kids played and worked hard at Brough basketball a few times each week. Landon went on a Klondike campout. Ellie had Activity days. Porter had stitches (yikes! that was not a regular life occurrence thankfully! In the past when the kids have needed stitches, it has often been a slow process of thinking, asking a friend for advice -
does this need stitches?' This time, I saw Porter and immediately knew that gash above his eye needed stitches. Yikes. But what a brave boy!)  Ellie registered for Middle School.  I went with Ellie on an Orchestra Ambassadors field trip to Salt Lake where she got to perform with the Orchestra at Temple Square. And I took a mini overnight vacation to Salt Lake by myself! I worked on a design class online and went to see Strictly Ballroom at the Hale theater (and loved it so much!!)

March 1

We had lunch with a cousin and lots of family to celebrate a baby blessing. We all crowded in the living room/kitchen areas on fold up chairs and such, happily visiting,  and served ourselves from a pop-up table in the corner. There was a bit of talk about 'did you hear' of things that might be changing in some other places related to coronavirus.

March 3

I had my quarterly RA doctor's appointment. I wondered if I should ask about coronavirus, but didn't want to seem paranoid so I didn't. I was getting the 2nd dose of a pneumonia vaccine and as the doctor left, he somewhat joked "maybe next year we'll have a coronavirus vaccine too!"

I read an interview of a writer I really like, and I was surprised when he answered one question with this - "The top idea in my mind right now, to be honest, is Covid-19..." For me, this was when I started to realize maybe I should pay attention to this more seriously.



Preschool time with Isaac & a friend.

February 27 - March 13 

Unrelated to Coronavirus, but a big part of these few weeks was a school issue. One evening, our Superintendent posted to facebook that the district was looking at consolidating our DLI programs. It was an unfortunate way to find out about this (especially for our teachers and principal who were as surprised as parents and students!) These few weeks for me were filled with meetings, planning, drafting emails, etc. in an effort to support the Portuguese program we have loved so much for our kids.

March 4

Ski Day for Ellie + Jordan

Dentist Appointments

Activity days Etiquette Dinner

Landon Swimming

A DLI Parent meeting at the Middle School with about 300 parents and students asking for continued support.

A temple trip with the Young Women.

March 5

Squeezed in more dentist appointments with someone else's cancelation, starting to think it would be good to get these all taken care of sooner rather than later...

Isaac went to a friend's for preschool time while I went to help in Porter's class (I miss this.)

Landon Scouts

March 6

The crowds! Watching movies, etc. it feels strange to see large gatherings like this!
I took Isaac along and we went with Ellie's 5th grade class on a field trip to the State Capitol in Salt Lake, and it was really great. We toured the building and spoke with Senator Hillyard,  Representative Dan Johnson, and the Governor's Education advisor.  A few 5th graders asked our representatives what they could do to keep the DLI program in our district when it felt like they weren't being listened to. (These great brave 5th graders! :)

An intern gave a high five to a student and was reminded by another staff member 'remember no more high-fives -- just elbow bumps'  Someone mentioned that the governor was meeting with superintendents, etc. that afternoon to start discussions on what to do if schools needed to close at some point due to coronavirus.

I drove with a friend who is a nurse and I asked her what her thoughts were on the coronavirus. She hadn't thought much about it and it really hadn't come up at work.

March 7

I spent the morning at a County Republican convention. I felt just a little uneasy with a handshake from a neighbor running for office (what a way to spread germs!) and a little more uneasy when the guy beside me mentioned, "I have a quite a cough so I need to sit on the edge here in case I need to leave -- I don't have coronavirus though, I just have a 5-year-old!"  Besides being a long, slow meeting, it felt a bit uncomfortable thinking about all these people packed into this little space... (I've since had several coronavirus dreams which are almost always large gatherings (one actually another republican party convention :)  and I suddenly realize 'wait a minute! we shouldn't all be here!')

March 8

Our last Sunday meeting together at church!

March 9

Lego Robotics, Landon swimming

March 10

Orchestra for Ellie, Preschool time with a friend, helped with Portuguese teacher interviews at MLMS, School Board meeting, young men/young women activities

March 11

Landon orthodontist appt, helped a bit with the science fair, Landon swimming. Jordan and I talked about what we might need to be prepared for an emergency, and ordered groceries (some time this week).

A few days before, Italy had locked down first one city at the epicenter of their infections and then a day or two later the whole country.

I spent Isaac's nap time looking at their numbers and where they were compared to where we were, and what that might mean for us (meaning, the United States). It was sobering to see that where we were at (in total reported cases), they had been only 10 days before. Impossible that we could be 10 days from a lock down!? Though of course, they'd probably never really have a lock-down here... This was the second time this felt extra serious to me. I read about Italy and wondered, could it really get like that? Here? (Yes.)


March 12

Helped in Porter's class at school.

Another dentist appointment.



Went to pick up groceries with a stop at Sam's club, and it was pretty crazy! So many shelves like this one above that I texted a picture of to Jordan.

School Community Council at the middle school. Started discussing what teachers would do to start preparing for the possibility of school closure in the future.

Had a Relief Society dinner planned for the evening, and just before heard that all church meetings were now canceled. Since everything was all set up, instead of gathering, they just had everyone stop in for a plate of food to take home -- these abrupt changes felt so surreal.

March 13

A busy day with back and forth to the school all through the day (one last time!)

Orchestra for Ellie

Hillcrest School Community Council. Had a discussion with the Superintendent about what the district was starting to do to prepare for possible future school closures (no idea for any of us that would be later the same day!)

One last dentist appointment. While we waited, I called my doctor to ask about what recommendations I should be following and was told to follow guidelines for high-risk individuals. (A changing point for me.)  Also while I waited, Lee's called about my grocery order and most items were unavailable. (This continued through March and into April. Now, most things seem to be available, though there are still quantity limits on many items.)

5th grade maturation program with Ellie at school.

Ellie's Ambassador practice

Landon's last "rock party" - every Friday he and his friends would get off the bus at the furthest stop and slowly walk through the neighborhood with stops at friends' houses, just having fun being together.

School canceled.  This was the biggest thing yet. Jordan called Landon (at his rock party) to tell him and the kids celebrated (Not for long though, they sure miss school. Landon sure misses his friends.) A 'soft-closure' was announced in Utah for 2 weeks (plus our district's Spring break just following).

We went out dinner at Olive Garden, knowing it would most likely be 'one last time' eating out for a little while. (Restaurants in Utah were closed March 17th for dining in, though take-out has been open. We still feel like that's an easy way to spread sickness, so we haven't eaten out -- making dinner every night has been a big change!)

Also, I think it was this day that 2 Jazz players and a few other public figures tested positive for Covid-19 and it seemed to be a sort of tipping-point where this became more real for people in general.

March 14

Our ward emailed asking us to check with those we minister to  if everyone had enough supplies for 2 weeks, etc. Felt ominous!

Picked up a few more groceries, etc. Stopped at the library to get books for the kids before they closed. (This was the last time we went to any indoor public places in the last almost 2 months!)

Jordan got out the wheat grinder (somewhere around this time) and started practicing using our food storage. Bread, eggs, fresh fruits and veggies, rice, flour, yeast were gone from the stores. (I still don't think we would be able to purchase toilet paper, hand sanitizer, or disinfectants now even.)

A beautiful Saturday. We worked and played in the yard. Neighbors walked by and stopped to visit. 'Isn't this a crazy time?!"

Wanted to get together with Jen & Jeremiah's family, but felt like outdoors would be safer. We had a campfire at the base of Green Canyon -- on a  crazy windy evening! Chips were blowing off the plates as I served them :) but it was fun to get together.

Recommendations for high-risk individuals included avoiding unnecessary interaction with anyone outside your household, and that's what we have done.  Sometime in the next week or so the Governor issued a formal "Stay home, stay safe" directive (though this was never made an order).

March 15 - 28



First 2 weeks of home school, home church, home everything.  Felt grateful for the last year of practicing family study at home for church so that the transition to church at home was fairly simple.

Decided to edit out a bit here -- but this all home, all the time + home school time was a hard transition for us. I thought it should be easy since I've done summer school each year, and I've been a teacher... But it was hard. I was stressed and anxious with so many unknowns. It was a struggle to figure things out. Hard for the kids to be only home and all the unknowns and missing the normal routines + friends, etc.

(But look at that hard-working Porter!)

I answered a text to a friend with a typo "definitely still fighting things out here!" (was supposed to be 'still figuring things out' but there was definitely some truth to that typo!)  Near the end of these 2 weeks, the school closure was extended through May 1.



We hadn't been using the park for a few weeks, but it still felt a little sad to see it officially closed.




Also, sometime in March -- Jordan grew a beard! :) It drove him crazy, so he decided before long that he was done with it, but it was something fun for him to try.

March 29 - April 4



The world has turned upside down, but still Spring is coming!

Spring Break

I was overwhelmed with all the great ideas I was seeing. It felt like so many were feeling like 'wow! what a nice break and great chance to spend together with our family!' and I felt anxious and stressed and overwhelmed (and discouraged for feeling that when I thought I should be feeling otherwise...)

I asked for help from Kathie and Winslow and they wonderfully stepped in to make our Spring Break great. Kathie worked each day with Landon and Ellie on a 'virtual field trip' and Winslow read each afternoon to Owen and Porter. Their help made a huge difference in getting through the last of this crazy month of March.

We also had some fun outside adventures in the afternoons with Jordan after work and those were great too.


April 2020

April was a month of settling in, of getting used to this 'new normal'.

I felt heartbroken for the suffering in New York City - this city that I love so much.

We figured out a better home school routine and the kids did great (though most days still at least a few tears from one child or more...) The best change was assigning each of the kids 15 minutes to 'play with Isaac' :)



We celebrated Owen's birthday (along with General Conference on a Sunday) and had a family birthday party most-of-the-day bike ride adventure later in the week. (Trickier with no indoor public places to stop, but we tried to make it a fun celebration for Owen!)



Celebrated Easter


Started yard work projects (including removing all the rocks from our park strip!)

Lots of google hangouts, zoom conferences, etc.

Sewed masks -- for our family (for someday when we start going places again!), for a friend, to donate to IHC, and medical grade masks for projectprotect.  (Landon, Ellie, and Porter have all helped with these first 100 medical masks, and that has been a fun project to work on.)

I 'ran errands' for the first time in 6+ weeks (besides a few curbside grocery pick ups) which consisted of 1) dropping off masks at a bin outside the hospital  2) a curbside pick-up of library books for a neighbor and 3) Middle school locker cleanup (which I skipped when I saw that I'd have to search through a giant box of all the "B" last name students, and it didn't feel worth it.  Even though we haven't gone anywhere, just watching from the parking lot as I've picked up groceries, I've been surprised at how few people are wearing masks.  I feel so appreciative of everyone who is though!

Also that day, I got tested for Covid-19 (it was negative!) One of the kids had a sore throat at the beginning of our isolation, and it had spread through the family. I'd been mildly sick for a couple weeks and decided to get tested so I could stop wondering if I ought to :) (And really, it would have been super for it to be positive, because we'd know we had some immunity and that would make things a lot easier!)

We expected it was coming, and the school closures were extended for the rest of the school year. (Throughout this time, Ellie has liked to check with me a map of the US and school closures. Slowly, the map has become more and more dark blue as states close schools for the rest of this school year.)

I felt relieved for this, as I worried about how hard it would be for us if they did open schools and we didn't feel safe about sending the kids back. It's one thing to be away from school and miss all the normalcy of life when everyone else is doing the same thing. It would be much harder to be isolated while everyone else was getting back to real life...

And really, that has been the biggest thing that I still feel really anxious about. This is going to be around a long time still. And what about in the Fall if everyone's going back to school, but high-risk groups still need to be extra careful? What does that mean for my kiddos? How can we cope with that? What will we do? Will we still isolate? And how will we manage that when everyone around is is back to regular life? How can I put the kids through that, if it isn't required of everyone? All of that,  all those worries are the hardest part for me right now.



But really, our days are pretty good. It's beautiful outside. We've started planting our garden. I've been able to go for a walk (often more than once!) each day. We're healthy. The kids are learning (still learning, still working each day) to get along. Jordan's company is doing fine, even without teachers in school right now. Isaac loves having all the kids home all the time. Jordan loves the empty calendar and open afternoons for adventures.  Ellie and Owen have loved having reading parties together in the afternoons. The kids are learning and working hard in our home school time. (And making great progress in piano :) Lots of good things! I feel grateful. And also anxious. And heartbroken for all the suffering happening right now throughout the world. And happy to be with our family. And overwhelmed to be with our family all the time. And worried about what the future might bring. I feel so grateful for where we live and for the beautiful weather we've had.  We've been able to walk, bike, rollerblade, hike, even camp. It has been so, so nice to have a lot of outside time right now!

All those feelings, and more of course.




Friday, February 21, 2020

2020 goals



I taped a little goal tracker I made to my bathroom door, and I have loved seeing it each day. Thoughts so far:

+ I love that my MOVE goal spaces are all mixed around and uneven. Every time I see it, I notice all the great times I've bundled up and gone out for a winter walk.  I know if I had put a calendar up, or neat tidy squares, every time I saw it I would have just noticed all the empty spaces of days that I skipped. Instead it has just been a celebration.

+ I've been 'MAKING' so much! I had a goal to make something each month - it felt lofty, but doable. I think the combination of taking time to realize that it was a priority for me, and then taking time to record when I'm doing it has really helped me want to make more and more.  Also, an apple pencil from Jordan for Christmas + learning Procreate + practicing with Illustrator have all been so super fun!

+ Having the little reminder on my door to 'PLAY' has helped me say yes to things I might not otherwise have said yes to. Also I've made more of an effort to make plans just for fun. I am not good at this. As an example -- I had all the logistics down for Disneyland. Getting there, where to stay, what to pack, what to eat, etc.  But then it turned out Jordan and  a few kids went to return the rental car on our first morning there, so I just went in to the park with a couple of the kids -- and I didn't know what to do! :) We wandered a bit, traded a few pins, and eventually found a fun trolley ride. But Jordan is most definitely the one who help our family have fun. It has been good practice to work on this myself too.

 + I've struggled with my 'STUDY' goal. I'll usually plan and prepare our family study after church on Sunday, but I feel like it would be a lot better to prep throughout the week, instead of waiting till the last minute. Somehow this has been hard for me to work into a daily routine, but it still feels important so I'll keep working at it.

Other:

I bought a beautiful 'line a day' journal and jumped in on January 1. And wrote each day until January 7... But, I got back to it near the end of January (hooray) and am still going. I decided it was fine to go back and fill in some of the blank days with other thoughts or memories, and also it was fine to leave some days blank. So I'm enjoying this small not-every-day-but-some-days practice.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Disneyland!


We had a great winter time escape last week going to Disneyland! This was the first time our family had been, and it was just a wonderful time.

+ I was pretty sure as we were planning that this would be our family's one Disney trip -- fun, but enough. But it was so much more fun than I expected, and I kept thinking about 'next time...'

+ We've considered a Disneyland trip several times with various levels of seriousness. I thought all through this trip though that I think this was the first time that I could have handled/enjoyed the trip! :) We all sleep well (which makes everything better/easier/happier! :), no nursing babies, only one child likely to run off... plus great help from the older kids... Also Isaac was just tall enough to ride everything so that made things super smooth.

+ Porter surprised me by loving all of the more intense rides (I didn't go on any of his favorites!) along with Landon. (Owen was hesitant at first but then discovered he loved these too.)

+ We loved spending time with Kathie and Winslow too, and all felt so happy that they were able to come!

+ Jordan and I watched a little "Imagineering" episode a few weeks before we left, and it really made me appreciate all the amazing engineering and design at work. (Even Small World, though I should have worn headphones with my own music, was so inspiring with all the beautiful layers and colors and textures!) And it was so fun to talk to the kids about all the cool robotics at work since that's familiar to them with our lego robotics time.

+ It was wonderful to be enjoying 60-80 degree days, especially when we had some great big snow storms we got to miss at home :) (Although, I was prepping myself for returning home with some mental pep-talks about getting through the rest of winter when Landon out of the blue said, "I'm excited to get back to our snow!")

Favorite moments;

+ Riding the Silly Symphony Swings again and again with Ellie and Isaac while Jordan and the other boys went on rollercoasters

+ Isaac & Porter in their Star Wars helmet and all the boys so excited to build and play with their new light sabers

+ The moment Ellie turned from scared to excited while we raced in the Cars ride. (And feeling that same thing too!)

+ Entering the Radiator Springs town - such a happy nostalgic feeling from Landon's toddler years when we watched Cars again and again!

+ Doing a puzzle at the hotel with Kathie and Winslow and the kids

+ Playing Disneyland trivia games made up by Jordan at the hotel

+ Favorite tips/etc.

We stayed at a Residence Inn close by with a great size room for our whole family to share (and Mickey Mouse waffles for breakfast!) (And when I stressed about the price, I just looked at the Disneyland Hotels and felt much better :) On the map it looked like a super easy walk, but half of us ended up taking an Uber some of the time just to make things easier.

We used Fast Passes one day and then Jordan (our fast-pass expert) decided Max pass was worth it and it did feel like it made everything pretty smooth.

We went for 4 days with a Sunday in between to rest and relax. I don't think we could have managed 3 days in a row (tired feet!), but 2 and 2 was perfect.

We took both of our strollers (though I debated) and pretty much always had them both in use. Landon was awesome at helping to push them and all the other kids were grateful for some breaks through the day.

Our hotel was just far enough that it felt like too far to go all the way back for a break during the day, but on a couple of the days we just took an afternoon break (with a calm drawing class for some and just some sitting/chilling time for the rest) and it helped us enjoy the rest of the day.

I loved the shows we saw -- Mickey & the Magical Map, Frozen, and the World of Color water/light show (which was amazing, but also long).

Jordan ran into some friends from our ward there and they gave us some great tips for the new Star Wars ride and Jordan had almost as much fun figuring/optimizing all the things for us to get passes as we did riding the ride :) Isaac has loved Star Wars lately so it was very fun to see him get to see it all come to life!

We planned our trip to be in the coolest and least busy time of year, and it was perfect for us. (We would have had a hard time with it much warmer or busier.) Also it was super to have this warm, happy trip to look forward to all through January!

Friday, January 24, 2020

A couple of things



+ This morning I said to Isaac (with meant-to-persuade enthusiasm) "Maybe you can take a bath today!" and he replied cheerfully, "Why? I'm never dirty. I'm always not dirty!"

+ Jordan noticed that Owen was in need of some new shoes as he would run on the gym floor at basketball and try to stop but would just keep sliding with his no-traction-left shoes. I took Owen shoe shopping yesterday and when we found a pair that felt good, he asked if he could go test them out. Soon he was running full speed up and down the shoe aisles (with quick stops to test the amazingness of a little tread!) Fortunately there weren't many other shoe shoppers around. Ha! My thought for 'testing them out' wasn't quite the same, but he knew what really mattered.  :)

+ One evening this week I was making dinner and feeling a bit in a 'dinner every day, really?' mood. I had started some taco meat on the stove and started to work on something else. Porter came in, pulled up a stool, grabbed a spatula and then stayed at the stove as cheerful as can be till it was all cooked. Then he just kept jumping in to help (in real, helpful ways!) all through dinner and I was so grateful!

+ Landon and I went to a new-freshman meeting last night at one of the high schools -- we're in the process of deciding which school he'll attend. It was pretty fun to look around the auditorium though and see so many familiar faces, especially so many kids that I got to know helping out in their  kindergarten and first grade classes!

+ Ellie has been really into programming lately and has come up with lots of fun tricks that the Lego Robots can do. This week she and Jordan made the snake game (on the Robot screen), and it was so cool to hear them talking and planning and to hear all the excited creative problem solving.

+ Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

This week


Snow fun

Ellie and her friends were playing outside in the snow one day after school with such happiness. I had been watching them from inside in the kitchen, and they seemed to be trying to get something down from up by the roof, so I went to see if I could help. "Nope -- that's the game! We're just trying to see if we can get it with a snowball!" It was just fun to watch these girls playing, building an icicle village, climbing the tree (maybe not the best with snow + boots...) I love these happy girls! 

Preschool time

A friend and I have a little preschool-time/play day swap worked out for a couple days each week now, and it is such fun. These two kiddos get along great -- Isaac is happy to play family when she wants to, and she is a great sport at playing Isaac's latest favorite Star Wars ("Okay, so I am Luke Skywalker, and you are Princess Leia and hmmm.... you don't like Darth Vader, right mama?") Having a friend over for preschool time also makes it fun and gives me a little more motivation to pull out or prep some more involved or unique activities that I might not otherwise. 

Basketball

Given the choice between city rec basketball or doing our own Brough basketball, the kids all chose Brough basketball this year, and Jordan has been their super coach. He has great drills for them and tracks their progress. We set dates and times and scheduled it all on the calendar to make sure it would really happen. So far, the kids have asked for extra days to go play or practice, so I think it has been a success! 

Anne Frank 

Landon has enjoyed getting ready for an Anne Frank play his English class has been prepping over the last couple months, and they've been performing their scenes over the last week or so. Today he got to take a frosted cake "Peace in 1944" as a prop and class dessert. (Also, Landon baked the cake but I helped him by frosting it. As I frosted the letters (the very extent of my cake decorating skills), Landon and Ellie watched with the sweetest comments encouraging me on  - Whoa! How do you do that??  Another mom passed along a kind comment from the teacher about a group Landon was performing with "You have restored my faith in 8th graders!" :)

Classroom time

Just before the break, I got to help out with a couple of the kids' class parties and I realized I was missing helping in their classes this year. Today I started helping out in Porter's class, and it was so fun! First grade is the best, and I love these kiddos already! 

Beautiful days 

We've had a snowy January, but a lovely one. Lots of warm days in between stormy days, and enough  new snow to keep everything looking white and feeling fresh and lovely. And not too crazy cold - hooray!  We had a super hard January several years ago  (when we escaped to Idaho with their -6 degree high, but clear air!) and maybe because of that extra grey and cold year, since then I feel like each year I'm surprised at all the beautiful January days we really do get! 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

sound bytes



I had a long enough break from writing here that I took some time to look through some of my unfinished drafts from the last few months and found a few I still wanted to either finish up or just post unfinished. (This one and a few more to come.)

One little sound byte I have to add in is Isaac's recent "Right, Mama?" He was just having a lunchtime conversation via hangouts with Grammie and Grandpa and I loved every few minutes as I prepared my lunch answering his earnest "right, mama?" questions.


Falling asleep last night, I was thinking about all the funny little conversations I'd had throughout the day with the kids. I wish I could remember now what they all were, but I thought I'd write down just a few bits anyway as a little snapshot of life right now.

"What's on the calendar today?"

"Mom, how can we jump or even walk if there is gravity?"

"What if we could scoop up all the gravity from everywhere on the earth and take it up to space..."

"I finished making my game! Will you play it with me?"

"I'm almost done with my jobs! I just have _____ and_______and _______and _________left..."

"I can't imagine having another school year better than this one" (Oh, hooray!! :)

"Mom! Look!"

"Please bless Dad to be safe in New York and to have fun working while he is there."

"When are you done with your morning jobs?"

"Scriptures?" (An invitation/reminder from Ellie)

"Will you tuck me in?"



Monday, January 6, 2020

Christmas Traditions



One day in December Ellie showed me a mini book she was making of all our Christmas traditions. Until I took a minute to read through her sweet book, I kind of thought we didn't really have that many traditions. But we do! And it was so fun to see which things she picked out. I don't have it with me but here are a few favorites I could think of today:

+ Christmas Eve Program
For the last few years Ellie or Landon have helped me plan this. We read about the Savior's birth from Luke and act out the nativity and sing Christmas songs and often add in some other fun music like handbells and cello this year.

+ Christmas Eve Room
One year just for logistics, we had all the kids sleep in the guest room downstairs together on Christmas Eve. I think I strung up a strand of lights and set out a basket of Christmas books.  The next year the kids were super excited to sleep in the Christmas Eve Room and this happy tradition was started! Now we decorate on purpose and the kids look forward to this special night. This was the happiest accident that still always has all of the kids excited to go to bed on Christmas Eve.

+ Cinnamon Bear
Throughout December (when we can) we gather up with blankets and pillows in the front room with all the lights off except the Christmas tree and listen to the Cinnamon Bear before bedtime.  This year I felt like I did a lot better at just relaxing and enjoying the cozyness (instead of trying to get something done/finished up/worked on) while listening. This was great, except then I had to get back up from a so-cozy spot to help get all the kids to bed!

+ Pizzelle Making
Beginning probably December 1, the kids start asking "when can we make pizzelles?!?" I love that they love to help with this! This started with a single batch for our nearest neighbors in Provo and each year we make and share a few more than the year before. And we have an amazing little system worked out with cookie makers, edge trimmers, timers... so fun! This is my favorite.

+ Music
Forever favorites -- Peter Breinholt, Amy Grant, Celine Dion, Michael W. Smith, NSync (this has faded out of my rotation I guess, but it still makes me happy and has to be included :)

Newer and still long-time favorites -- Lower Lights, Lady Antebellum, Mindy Gledhill, Ingrid Michaelson (newer)

+ 12 Days of Christmas
Just like my grandparents did for us when I was kid, my Dad & Shauna send gifts for the kids to open, one each day for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. This year they loved most the breakfast cereals and pajamas.

+ Gift Giving/Christmas Morning
We get each of the kids a book, a toy, something for a hobby, and a game. I love to wrap presents so everything is wrapped!  Christmas morning we wake up and open stockings (Ellie's favorite part of Christmas Day, and one of my favorites for picking things out. Then we have breakfast (a breakfast casserole and cinnamon rolls -- most often refrigerator biscuit style :), and then we open presents.

+ Other little things --
Decorating with our same favorite decorations each year, putting up our tree and putting ornaments up, lighting candles or simmering a pot full of yummy smelling things, lighting up our round-about tree that our neighbor and friend decorates, sledding at the park, looking for ways to help and share.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Holly Jolly Design Challenge

(don't mind the fuzziness of these pics...my goal tonight was to record something here, and I'm deciding not to let getting this perfect stop me from writing something :)

I joined in on a fun little design challenge in December with Olivia Herrick design and had so much fun working on it and learning some new things. Above are some of my favorites:

1. this poem (I drew that little house (!) and then edited it a bit digitally)
2. repeating pattern (with help from a great little tutorial)
3. christmas card (clipping/mask practice)
4. color palette
5. little houses ( I drew those then played around with adding detail/color digitally)
6. an address stamp
7. logo for "spruce" (this floated around in my head for days before I finally found that just right little tree icon! :)
8. christmas lyrics (love this song!)
9. non-digital (that cute black and white cushion makes me happy each time I come into our driveway, and that little Isaac is awfully cute too!)

Quiet time + goals



Jordan took all the kids this afternoon for Brough basketball and then a dinner out to give me a little bit of quiet time to myself. After a pretty full Christmas break and some busy days (plus a stomach flu for Jordan which had him out of commission for one of those days!) I was feeling pretty depleted, and this quiet evening with just my 'calm' playlist for company has been much needed and much appreciated.

I had time to organize the bits and pieces of goal setting thoughts I'd had floating around in my head for the last week or so. (I love fresh starts and reflecting and looking ahead and all of those New Year's things, and I was wishing for some time and focus for all those things!) And I even had time to make this cute little chart to help me remember all these good goals I'm wanting to be working on. (And, ha! this picture is another great test of not letting my desire for something perfect get in the way of something -- those dark shadows/shining computer, that bright pink fire dept. ruler...!)

My quiet time tonight:

+ Time for thinking through and organizing goals for this year
+ Making this little tracker and playing around with making it digital
+ Cereal for dinner (!)
+ A great winter evening walk
+ And writing here a little bit -- hooray! :)