Monday, February 29, 2016

Sleep Anywhere, Practicing Piano and Wax Museum

Nora continues to fall asleep several times a week, since she's been without naps, but usually not in a bed. Usually she falls asleep in her carseat (I think the shortest ride we took where she fell asleep was to the school which is literally a 2 minute ride), or on the couch or on the floor. One time I found her fast asleep on the floor, with her head and arms propped up on a if she were going to do something with that footstool and then just decided to take a little rest and passed out :).  

I have been in need of a new kitchen mat as my old one was showing lots of wear and tear around the edges. I spotted this one at Costco last week with this phrase, "Happiness is Homemade" and I couldn't pass it up. You can't see the whole thing but it has several whole food items in the picture, mostly fruits and vegetables and a couple of homemade items. 
Speaking of food, even though I don't eat a lot of animal protein (when I do, it's usually in the form of cheese or eggs or butter and maybe 3 times a week) I love a mozzarella cheese, tomato and pesto sandwich on whole wheat bread, cooked with a little coconut oil on top of the bread. Yum! If you have never read "The China Study" written by T Colin Campbell and which is the most comprehensive study on nutrition ever conducted, you should! It doesn't say you need to cut out all meat or animal protein, but it explains why we should be having much less if we want to help ourselves keep from developing tumors, cancer and disease etc. It really isn't hard to do if you're eating lots of plant food which will feel you up and keep you satisfied!

Here is a random picture of Jane, Nora and Anna being cute and silly.

I snapped this picture of Elisabeth's piano practice notebook because we had to text her teacher a question about one of the assignments. All three of our oldest children continue to practice piano each day (A and C for 30 min and E for 45-60min) and improve regularly. A lot of time and work is involved with learning to play an instrument. I love that it gives them confidence(because of improvement over time), teaches them to stick with hard things and not give up, and to be responsible and diligent about practicing. Jane had started practicing with Elisabeth awhile ago but she stopped shortly thereafter...we told her she didn't need to start until she turned 6, which will happen next month.

I took this picture after Charles' Blue and Gold Banquet (he did earn an award but they didn't have awards to hand out that night so no pictures). While people were cleaning up, Elisabeth started playing on the piano in there on the stage and little Cheryl (who has downs syndrome and is such a dear) walked up and started plunking on the keys on her tip toes and her older brother came over and sat her on his knees so she could reach the keys better and play with Elisabeth :). Loved it! Loved the dear older, high school aged brother watching out for his baby sister and loved Elisabeth who loved having Cheryl play along side her.
 Each month Charles has a book report to turn in for school. This month his book report was a Wax Museum where he had to study an autobiography of someone, he made a poster at school to go along with it and then on the day it was due he had to dress up like this person and give a 2-3 minute summary. Everyone in the 4th grade did this and there was an hour and a half period where they were in the gym and cafeteria and classrooms and parents came through and would push a 'button' on their desk and they would give their presentation.
Charles choose Davey Crockett. I loved this and I learned a lot from all of the kids presentation and what better way to learn than to have them teach the material to others over and over again.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Happy 8th Birthday Annabelle!

I can't believe this girl is 8! Look at that sweet face; she's still a snuggler which I love because I need to snuggle that cute face often! 

Annabelle was so excited to get her very own new, leather bound set of scriptures (OT, NT, BOM, the whole works) with her name inscribed on the cover. It's tradition that they get their own when they turn 8 since that's the year they can choose to be baptized (which will be in less than 2 weeks!!). She's also been asking for her own mini preach my gospel, like her older siblings have, and of course we had to get her some highlighting pencils and a scripture bag. 
She also got a new shirt and dress (wearing the new casual dress below), an "I am a child of God" locket, gum and gran got her some new shoes. She asked if I'd pick up Cafe Rio and come eat lunch with her at school. The benches at school are a bit small, and the room is crowded and noisy, but we sure love our Annabelle and would do just about anything as a birthday request for all of our kiddos. 

 These peanut butter and carob chip rice crispy treats are amazing! We had these for a treat on her birthday. I'll post the recipe on my food blog soon.
 Annabelle requested a tall cake with pink frosting in between each layer. I baked 6 thinner cakes (about 1/2 normal size), stacked and frosted them and then did rosettes with different shades of pink.
Jane, Nora and Anna (our neighbor friend), enjoyed licking the frosting off all of my work surfaces, spatulas etc when I was finished with them :). 

 Love these girls!

 Annabelle invited a few of her closest friends over and we decorated mini aprons ($2/each at Hobby Lobby) with puff paints,
 Everyone helped make their own personal pizzas (Scott rolled out the dough before hand, bless his heart),

Quick funny story: during dinner Scott got out sprouts to put on his salad and asked if anyone wanted any. We mentioned that they help you live longer and they suddenly all wanted sprouts and loved them! :) lol! I had to take a picture of one of the girls eating sprouts:

we sent them downstairs where our older kids lead them in 'freeze dance' and 'simon says' while Scott and I cleaned up dinner and got ready for cake and ice cream (which is annabelle's favorite, home made peanut butter ice cream recipe)

 Annabelle opened presents (Elisabeth taught us a new game where you have Annabelle close her eyes and one of the girls comes up and disguises her voice and says "happy birthday annabelle"; if annabelle guesses right in 2 tries, she opens the present. if not, someone else comes up and tries until all the gifts are opened),
Last we finished with cake and ice cream:

Happy, happy birthday to our dear, sweet, sensitive, happy, fun-loving and good Annabelle!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Guest Room Finished!

I have a few random pictures from the week before I get into our 'before' and 'after' of our guestroom. 

Several times a year, our library has a booksale (and movies, magazines etc), where everything is 25 cents, sometimes cheaper...I think I bought Les Miserables for 10 cents several years ago, and that book is HUGE! A couple of weeks ago they were having a 25 cent sale and I picked up Alicia Silverstone's "the Kind Diet", which I read before and had made and loved several of the recipes. That 25 cent purchase on this hard cover book that I love, made my day :). 
 Nora is going through this phase right now where she is, hmmm, how do I say this kindly? If she wants something and doesn't get it, she's super stubborn and has a hard time moving onto something else. For example, at church, every week, while we're sitting in sacrament meeting (it's 1 hour, and we always feed the children before we leave) she insists, every week, that she's really hungry and has to eat right now, or chew gum. But I don't bring things like that, we haven't for years when I discovered that it didn't really help and usually made things worse. So anyway, she'll start saying it softly, "I'm hungry" and then she gets louder, and then she cries while she says it in a loud voice and we'll try and distract her with stories we tell her in her ear, or with drawing but that usually doesn't work and we either have to take her out to the hall (where we have her sit with us on a chair until she's ready to go back in) or sometimes we can get her siblings to distract her and that seems to work better. At this stage in life, she's also trying to get off naps. She doesn't want to nap, and because she has a hard time going to bed at night when she does nap, I don't insist on naps (she'll be 4 in a couple of months). But when she doesn't nap, around 2 until bedtime at 730, she gets really tired and cranky and oftentimes will fall asleep on the couch or in the van. And I can't just move her bedtime to an earlier time because she already gets up between 530-6 every day and if she goes to bed earlier, she'll be up even earlier and though Scott and I are awake at 515, we don't want her getting up at the same time as us; even 30 minutes later is better than having her get up at the same time. This to shall pass....

I love Annabelle's drawing, which I believe she must have made based off the scripture and song about Faith being like a little seed, that if planted and cared for, will grow. 

 I have made raw sauerkraut a couple of times recently, and I love that it is so easy and it's so good for you! Raw sauerkraut is full of enzymes and probiotics (the good, friendly bacteria) which helps us improve our digestion and cleansing. The only downfall is that it does make my pantry (where I store it for the week that I allow it to sit before we can open and use it and store in fridge) smell like a gym locker during the last few days. Once opened, it'll store in the fridge for a month.

 Now onto our house project. Several months ago, Scott took down all the ceiling panels in the guest room and the girls room downstairs. He then framed a hallway because we've never liked that you have to walk through one room to get to another,

put drywall up for the ceilings and hallway, we had someone come do the texture, I painted the ceiling, hallway and guest room, I took down the old baseboards and the old moulding on the lower half of the wall which I didn't like, and then Scott put up beadboard and new baseboard. 

As he finished the beadboard/baseboard, I painted it with a white, glossy finish. Then he did the electrical, putting in three new outlets, 
and he built a closet into the space that was made awkward by our new hallway. 
 I painted the closet,
we got a new bed ordered for Elisabeth (she had a queen that we wanted to use for the guest room, and we got her a Full, which also fit her room better as she shares with Annabelle) and brought her bed in here and got the room all set up! 
 The only thing left is to put doors on both bedroom closets and paint them; but it's usable now and in good time because we have family coming in two weeks to stay with us for Annabelle's baptism! Yay!

 Over the next two Saturdays we will be framing all three bathroom mirrors...and replacing the very large master bath mirror that I accidentally broke when I tried to pull off the piece of frame that we had, 5 minutes before, stuck to the mirror, in the wrong spot (see that crack between the two wood frame pieces). Those liquid nails are seriously strong and adhere like no other. I felt horrible when it happened, all of mine and Scott's hard work that Saturday, lost, but it's okay. I know we all make mistakes, this one seemed really big, but I've learned from it and we have a plan in place for when we replace the mirror and frame it again. I'm not going to give up, I'll continue to help Scott, just as he didn't give up when he had some mishaps with the basement rooms (nail gun in water pipe, ceiling fan problem, electrical not working after we put up drywall so had to take back down again etc). I've learned a lot these past months, as has Scott and when we learn, sometimes we slip and fall, but we don't give up and we are so, so happy when it's all done and finished and things are better than they were before. Reminds me of life in general :); right? We all make mistakes, even when we're trying to do what's right and be better and improve ourselves, sometimes we slip and fall, but we mustn't give up; we need to learn our lesson, grow, improve and better ourselves and continue on our path toward the Savior.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Valentine's Celebrations

I am the room mom for Annabelle's second grade class...I try and switch year-to-year, being room mom in my kids classes; last year I was the room mom in Charles' class. Basically, my role is be in charge of the classroom parties: Halloween, Christmas and Valentines. I am happy that I now get a break from parties until next year :). And since I knew I was going to be doing parties again in the future, I planned ahead and made games that I can reuse. Here are the three games we did for Valentine's this year: Pin the heart on the arrow, Valentine Bingo and Valentine Headbanz . For Headbanz, I printed out a page of 9 or so Valentine Headbanz cards that I found on pinterest, and then I added some of our own that had red/pink as a major color, or some festive foods like cake and lollipops etc; I also brought a couple of my elastic headbands to add to the 6 in my Headbanz box because I knew we'd have one group of 8.  
 The day before the Valentine's Party, I was at the school for a few hours, helping decorate for the 6th grade Valentine dance and then I stayed to watch for a bit. I spent a lot of my time trying to help a couple women(and my friends) put this heart balloon centerpiece together.
 I wasn't sure if I was going to stay and watch; I knew it would bother me just a little, seeing my little girl dance with boys. I liked that everyone was dressed up in church clothes and I liked that they had dance cards they had filled out during the week...a little old-fashioned like :).

Not every dance was a couple dance. They had quite a few that were singles, like the Boot Scottin' Booty, the Hokey Pokey and more.  

 I think my favorite dance to watch might have been the Virginia Reel. It reminded me of some of the Jane Austen movies I've seen.

 Besides being in charge of Annabelle's Valentine's party, I also went in and did a game in Jane's kindergarten class that same morning. I had them do "Pin the heart on the arrow". So between Thursdays dance decorating and Fridays parties, Nora, and I spent a good amount of time at the school those couple of days :).

 Oh, and Thursday I learned that one of my volunteers for my party who was supposed to help run a game, wasn't going to make it because she had kids throwing up. Elisabeth offered to come in and help (her 6th grade class doesn't celebrate the holidays with parties) and at first I said no, but then after I finished up with Jane's party, which had 4 parents helping, and thought about my next party, which would only have 2, I decided to call her out of class (Told the receptionist I needed my daughter for an hour :)), and she came and ran the Headbanz game, and I'm so happy she did! She was a lifesaver.
 Because I had so much to plan and prepare for these Valentine's parties and activities for the kids at school, I didn't even think about the fact that Scott and I always have some sort of Valentine celebration. So I was grateful when the week before Valentine's he said, "I'm going to plan a Valentine's dinner date for us this year." Great! Done! Thank you Dearest! And he did a good job; him and Ben Arkell had talked and decided to surprise Gina and I with a double dinner date in Provo Friday before Valentine's! Afterwards we were going to try and get into the Provo Temple open house in the stand-by line, but it was pretty long, we would've had to wait at least 45 minutes, and we all had tickets to come another day in the near future with our families, so we decided to just go back to the Arkell's and visit and play games for a bit. We met the Arkell's while living in Wymount, BYU family housing, 12 years ago. We hadn't been married for quite a year, and Gina was my visiting teacher and I called her randomly one day (hadn't even met her yet) because she had left me her name and number, because our car broke down and I needed a ride to a dental appointment. Elisabeth was a newborn. After that we started going on power stroller walks every day together and we became fast friends. She is also the person who got me into cake decorating and we took a couple of Wilton Cake Decorating classes together at Craft stores. We try and get together once or twice a year and it's always great when we do.
 Saturday night, Scott and I stayed up late writing each other and the children our traditional love letters. This is my all time favorite Valentine's tradition. I have a shoe box full of these love letters that I like to read occasionally, and I plan to put them into a little folder/binder for each child once they graduate high school or when they move out.
 We set the letters out on the table at their 'spots' which they found Valentine's morning.
 After church, Scott and I each found a love note from Elisabeth and Charles laying on our bed.
We had waffles with strawberry sauce, eggs and hashbrowns for lunch, 

then we made a couple of healthy, fun treats like heart shaped shortbread cookies (whole grain and maple syrup sweetened)

and our date-sweetened blondies, 

and finished off with salad and our traditional heart-shaped homemade pizza for dinner.  

Here are some "couple" pictures I found of Scott and I from over this past year: 
My bday dinner and double date with my sis Becca and her hubby

When Scott got home to us in CO from one of his long trips to UT

Temple date; we do these monthly; 2x/month now

Just after we finished up our first mini-triathlon 
At a BYU bball game

On thanksgiving, getting our exercise in before the feast

After a run around the lake in NC
4th of July city celebration

Love you Dearest!