Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Colorado Snow Storm, AB Birthday Date, My Favorite Movie Treat

 We got a lot of snow this weekend. Friday night we got about 6 inches. We woke up in the morning, went out and shoveled the driveway, and it was a bit wet and not freezing cold, so we decided it was perfect for making a snowman and a snow fort. I helped the little girls with a snowman; it came up to my waist.
 And pulled Nora around on the sled for a bit.

 Scott helped the big kids start a fort using a big Emergency Essentials bucket, but then they took it from there and finished it.

We heard on the news that there would be a snow storm late in the afternoon, around 3, so just after Charles' basketball game I took Annabelle on her birthday date. We went to Target where she used her birthday money to get a pair of tennis shoes and a wallet, and then I took her out to lunch at Panera Bread.
 When we sat down at Panera, Annabelle looked around and said, "Mom, this is a fancy restaurant, isn't it?" I chuckled because it didn't seem very fancy to me, but maybe a little more than sweet tomatoes which is our usual, which is a bit loud and there's lots of moving around. After we were nearly through eating she asked if we could come here every year for her birthday date. I think she loved having Mac and Cheese, a gogurt and a giant cookie. And I'm game because I loved my Veggie Mediterranean sandwich and there were a couple other things on the menu that looked great like the soups and the brown rice, quinoa and kale salad.

 Once we got home, Scott took Charles on his birthday date (a month late :)). They went rock climbing at the rec center and were back home around 430pm. The storm had started while they were out, but he was in his truck and is a careful and safe driver so I wasn't too worried. I took this picture below form my bedroom window during the storm. It was snowing and the winds were loud and really blowing the snow around which made it hard to see. It made me very grateful to live in a home with walls and heat and food inside. And it made me grateful, once again, for the pioneers who crossed the plains during horrible winters in order to have religious freedom.
 That night Scott and I had an in-home, movie date night. This is my all time favorite movie treat: air popped popcorn with aussie strawberry licorice. A little bit of sweet with the salty. Awhile ago I resolved to only buy this licorice on Thursdays or Fridays, just before my date night, and to only get 5-6 pieces because when it's in the house, I have a hard time not eating it every day. :)
I love our crazy Colorado weather. One day it's a snow storm and over the next day or two it's sunny and 65 degrees. It doesn't ever last long but I love it; changes things up. And I love all the sun.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mountains of laundry, baking, and more

Monday is laundry day. Laundry is not my favorite chore, mostly because I don't enjoy folding and I don't enjoy putting it all away. So we do it all in one day, so that it's over in one day, and I wash and dry while the kids are at school and I'm deep cleaning from our over the weekend fun and adventures, and then that night Scott and I sit down together and fold everything, sometimes while visiting and sometimes while watching something and then we put our things away and bring the kids baskets of clean, folded clothes to their rooms so they can put them away in the morning. We had Elisabeth doing her own laundry for awhile, but it's hard when she shares the same laundry basket with two of her sisters because separating it out takes extra time and she rarely gets free time during the week as it is with school, homework, piano, student leadership, musical practice and soccer. Maybe what I should do is have her be in charge of doing the girls laundry on a Friday/Saturday. Wash and dry everything Friday and then either fold that night or the next day sometime. Not a bad idea. We'll see. As it is right now, I do about 7 loads every Monday, which equals out to about a load per person.
Wednesday and Thursday are really the only weekdays I have to myself, and by that I mean there is nothing scheduled in during the daytime when the kids are at school, and I love it! Monday is deep cleaning, laundry and Costco, Tuesday is volunteering at the school and Friday is choir. So Wednesday and Thursday I will sometimes take the girls to the park, or go on walks, or we'll stay in and do lots of cooking and baking. This past Thursday we made an unusual amount of food. We made banana bread and muffins, protein balls, Whole wheat bread, yogurt and then I still made dinner which was enchiladas with a sauce we make from scratch.

We froze most of the muffins since we had 2 loaves of banana bread as well, and this way Scott and the kids can pull one out in the morning, pack them in their lunches and by the time lunch rolls around they've defrosted perfectly and are ready to eat.

Even though I exercise early in the morning with Scott, when we have more time at home, the girls many times will pull out our yoga mats, turn on the Daily Burn program, and do a little exercising themselves. I love watching them! I take videos and pictures because it's so cute to see them try and do all sorts of fun moves like plank pushups, downward dog(pictured below), lunges, etc. 

One day last week I was in my bedroom and I heard the girls fighting over something in their room, I think it was babies and blankets, and I heard Jane telling Nora that she couldn't have it and I heard Nora getting frustrated (yelling "Jane! My baby!" etc). Then all of a sudden Jane starts screaming really loud and hard. I ran in there as Jane is running out to me, and now she can barely breathe because she's so upset. She gently puts her hand up to her shoulder blade and I can see a pretty good gauge in her skin where Nora bit her. I gave her a hug, put Nora in the crib and told her in a stern voice that we never bite or hurt anyone and that she needed to sit there for a few minutes and think about that while I would go help Jane get some ice and feel better. And that's what I did. Poor Jane. She was so surprised that she would do that, it really hurt her feelings. Nora felt bad and sincerely apologized to Jane a couple of times. Hopefully that won't happen again.
Nora is a sweet and tender little girl, but she's also two and still learning how to control her emotions and how to express her feelings in an appropriate way. And we're all learning patience at the same time :).  I love these next few pictures of Nora with Charles. They love each other, though Nora also normally likes to have her space so usually when he comes up to her wanting a hug or kiss, she'll tell him to go away so I was happy to see this and to catch this moment in time on camera.

Annabelle got Elenco Snap Circuits (electricity/science type stuff) for her birthday and she, Elisabeth and Charles have been enjoying setting it up and figuring out all the different variations. Saturday night, once the little girls went to bed and while Scott and I were having a movie date night, the kids went down to Charles room and worked on it for an hour and a half when we sent them off to bed.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Annabelle's 7th Birthday: Strawberry Pops, Rock Climbing, Heart Rose Cake, Cafe Rio, Pizza

Annabelle's birthday was on President's Day this year, Monday, which meant the kids were out of school. The week prior, they had parent teacher conferences so we also didn't have school Friday, so we got a nice long weekend. It also meant that the kids classroom Valentine's parties were held that Thursday, so after school Tuesday, Annabelle's teacher followed her out to our van to let me know that they'd be celebrating her birthday that Thursday. I said okay, and smiled, and then quickly added, "Wait, am I supposed to do something or be there?" They don't in my older kids classes so I assumed it'd be the same. She said that I didn't have to, but that a lot of the parents bring in a treat like cupcakes or cookies etc. Since it's optional, I figured I'd just leave it since I was sure they'd be getting sugar with their Valentine's cards, but Annabelle had heard the conversation and instantly started chattering about all the fun treats she thought would be nice to bring. I reminded her that they'd be getting Valentine's treats and suggested that if we brought something, it should be somewhat healthy. Annabelle LOVES strawberries, so we decided on strawberry pops. They turned out lovely and I was grateful to Elisabeth, for her help, and she helped a lot.
Nora, Jane and I brought them to the cafeteria Thursday while the kids were eating lunch and Annabelle handed them out to her class.
Sunday Annabelle was worried she wouldn't be able to fall asleep that night in anticipation for her birthday which was the following day. But she did, and we're grateful because they had a fun and exciting weekend with a sleep-over babysitter and but their lack of sleep was making mom and dad wish for earlier bed times over the next two nights :).

When Annabelle woke we had her special requested cereal for breakfast (Peanut Butter Panda Puffs), and then she opened her gifts. She got the dog with a leash from Patricia Murphy, we got her an art messenger bag that she colors with markers, clothes, a book and an Elenco Electronic Snap Circuits.
 Granny sent her a dress with a matching one for her doll.
 Here are Annabelle and Elisabeth working on coloring in the purse.
 Charles was invited to a movie with a friend that afternoon and while he was there we went to Cafe Rio for lunch and then came back home, laid Nora down, and the girls watched the American Girl Doll movie, Saige Paints the Sky (which Annabelle had requested I put on hold at the library the week before and it thankfully came in that very morning!).
 While they watched the movie, I frosted and decorated the cake. I made a heart-shaped vanilla cake from scratch that morning, and I had made a butter cream (all butter, no shortening) the day before which I had colored and I also made a few roses the day before which I stored in the fridge.
 Because in the past, I almost always use a cake box mix and I always use a Crisco based frosting, I'm still going through a bit of a learning curve. Because the frosting is made with all butter, it gets super hard in the fridge, and I have to massage it in the decorating bag for awhile, or stir it up, before it's soft enough for me to use. And if I've been working with it for awhile, decorating, it gets so soft that I was worried my decorations, like the roses and the border, wouldn't hold their shape. But they did really well.

 I wanted to make the entire cake the day of because when I made Charles cake, I stored it in the fridge since I finished it a day early, and I took it out of the fridge 30 minutes before we were going to it it and the frosting and the cake were so hard that the boys plastic forks couldn't really cut through! Lame! I'm wondering if the cake was so hard because I used coconut oil instead of vegetable oil...I thought the property of coconut oil would change(hardens once it's below 76 degrees) once it was mixed with other ingredients and baked, but maybe not. But I was also worried that my butter cream decorations wouldn't hold up over night, and I was afraid my roses would melt and wilt. So, I made the cake the day of which was a little more stressful, but it turned out great and everything went smoothly. And, we had over half the cake leftover which I just covered and stored on a counter in the kitchen, curious to see if my roses would still be in tact the next morning, and they were! So now I know I can safely make and decorate the cake the day before even when the frosting is made with all butter.
 Annabelle had hand-picked this cake design the month before when she saw something similar in the bakery of a grocery store. She loved it!
 And I filled the middle with leftover chocolate butter cream frosting I used on Charles cake last month, and since I don't eat chocolate, I made a cupcake for myself.
 Scott came home from work at 4pm and Myra, Annabelle's bff from school, came over and we ate homemade pizza, cake and ice cream.

Once we finished up, we headed to the rec center where all the kids got to harness up and do some rock climbing. 
 It was a first time experience for all our children, though Myra was a little pro. I think I mentioned in a previous post that Scott went for a date night a month ago and Myra was there climbing.
 Nora looked so stinkin' cute on that wall. She did great, though she didn't get up very far. I'm sure next time she'll go higher.
 Jane did great too, and started off really fast, but as soon as she slipped the first time, she got freaked out and wanted to be done. Her and Nora each just did one climb. I'm hoping next time they'll do a couple. There's a learning curve when it comes to using the harness and they didn't have much faith in it :).
 Jane got higher than Nora. Annabelle, pictured a few pictures above, got about half way up the wall both times she climbed.
 Elisabeth and Charles did 4 climbs I believe, and they LOVED it and got to the top every time! Nice!
 They asked if for our next individual date night with them, if we could go back and rock climb, which I think it brilliant!

Annabelle, you are a dear with such a kind and gentle heart. We love you dearly and are so happy you were born into our family 7 years ago. Love you Lady!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine's Day Weekend

Here are some pictures from our Valentine's Day weekend this year.

Elisabeth working on a Valentine card for her teacher.
Her teacher is young and loves minions, so Elisabeth drew her a minion (she looked up a tutorial on my phone first on how to draw a minion which I thought was wise), and under it she wrote, "You're one in a minion!" I thought that was a pretty clever line.
 Scott and I had a night away Friday night to Saturday afternoon thanks to Patricia Murphy, a dear friend of ours.  We ate dinner and went ice skating in Louisville, CO Friday night, and stopped by Trader Joes on our way up to our Bed and Breakfast in Boulder Canyon.

Short, fun video of Scott's awesome skate moves! I love Scott's special trick, the plank pose :).

At the B and B, they served scones with a variety of toppings (jam, butter and lemon sauce), and we shared a roasted potato pesto quiche and stuffed french toast with some sparkling cider.

 After breakfast we took our snowshoe rentals out to Brainard Lakes and went snowshoeing for the first time.

I loved the peace and quiet and seeing so many of God's beautiful creations.
 We got lunch in Nederlands at a cute cafe before heading back for home. We loved their paninis.

 When we were walking around Louisville after dinner Friday night, we went into an interesting candy shop and we found Harry Potter chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans. We got a frog for Patricia and beans for the kids to share.
 I thought they would just be normal flavored jelly bellies, but they weren't. They actually did have flavors that tasted like vomit, dirt, earwax, soap, rotten eggs, etc. Nora was a good sport and tried several.
She spit all of them out. 

Short, funny video of Nora testing out the Jelly Beans:

Elisabeth has been planning to have a Harry Potter birthday party this coming year and when we found these beans she decided we'd play a game with them at her party where the kids will get blindfolded and they have to try and guess the flavor of the bean! Brilliant! But I'll be the judge, not one of the taste testers, because I hope to never eat a vomit-flavored bean again :).

For dinner on Valentine's, we had our traditional heart-shaped pizza and some salad and pasta to go with it. Scott got the kids mini heart cakes for dessert and Scott and I ate the baked goods we picked up at the cafe earlier that day, namely a slice of carrot cake for me, and a Heavenly Bar for Scott (essentially a seven layer bar without the craisins).
 I snapped this picture of Nora as she was flossing her teeth in preparation for bed because she looked funny.