Monday, 31 August 2009

Reminder: Life is so fragile!

Now and then something comes along to remind us that all the hussle and bustle in life and the things we fill out time with really don't matter.

Please keep my dear cousin, Heidi in your prayers. She has a blood clot in her lung and is in critical condition.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth

This is a cute little story about a boy named Nate Twitchell that lives in New Hampshire on a farm. He has a hen that lays an enormous egg - and it turns out a dinosaur hatches out of it. I read this book to my Grade 2 class more than ten years ago and I knew they really enjoyed it, so I decided I'd find it for Peirce since he's kind of interested in dinosaurs lately.

It's kind of a long book to read out loud. There are long descriptions that could be easily skipped. However, Peirce didn't seem to mind. We even had a lot of good conversations about what this word means and what that word means, and how could this or that happen. The setting might mean a little more to a kid in the USA that is more familiar with US geography - but we fared okay.

The dinosaur hatches (a triceratops actually) and soon a scientist from a museum comes to see about this dinosaur. He befriends the family and helps them look after it. Eventually the dinosaur becomes way too big to manage on their little farm. He grows exponentially and his appetite is tremendous. They take him to Washington, DC but run into a few problems there with traffic and Senators and such. Nate ends up having to plead for the Senator to not order his dinosaur killed and stuffed.....and thanks to a strange twist of events, ends up speaking from his heart on TV. The people listening, of course, comes through, and Mr. Beazley is saved.

What was fun about this story was that it's just the kind of stuff kids love. Peirce could totally relate to the possibility of raising a dinosaur. So cute!

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Pickles!!

Pickles are easy!! I love doing them. Aren't they beautiful?!

I got the pickling cucumbers through our co-op. I ordered way too much dill so now I'm going to try drying some dill so that I can use it for other things.....should be interesting!

Quarterly Activity #1. Check!

Today was our first Quarterly Activity since being called to Primary. One of the counsellors did the lion-share of the work getting it all together - and man, what a job! It was a lot of fun though. I was surprised when it was all over how exhausted I was though!


We called our activity Journey to the Temple. Everything was outside. Here's what we did:
  • MapQuest: they had to identify different temples

  • Roadblocks: this was a game made on the sidewalk out of sidewalk chalk that was about things that stop us from progressing to being ready to go to the temple, and things we can do to prepare

  • Water Relay that was a race to fill up buckets of water, and a

  • Refueling Station where we had watermelon eating contests
We asked the kids to bring their bikes or scooters or roller-blades. We brought a bunch of things for them to decorate the bikes with. We had set up a little route with a bike jump, an arch to ride through, and cones to ride around....and when the parents arrived we had a bike parade. I wasn't quite prepared for the range of bike-riding skills and soon realized we needed to separate the older kids from the little Sunbeams that just putter along. Oops!! We only had a few mishaps. I think next time we'll ask the Scouts to set up a First Aid station when we do something like that.



All in all, it was a lot of fun. I hope they enjoyed learning about the temple is a fun and active way! I did.








Friday, 28 August 2009

Getting More Bookish

This is what every school, train station, library, rest stop, you name it, needs!.....we need more of these!

From: Brodart Books




I have had some real yearnings lately to do more learning. I don't really want to go to "school" but I want to get more bookish.....any tips on what direction I should go? I'm feeling a need for a change in my life. Time to change and grow!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Crazy Bread!

I've heard a lot of mom's complain about how they hate to make lunches. I personally figure it's a small price to pay for the peace and quiet I enjoy all day while they're at school, and for the good times they have at school. Plus, I have to make lunch when they're home too - so I'm not quite sure how packing a lunch is such a burden. I've decided I'm going to start blogging about the benefits of home made. The cost savings, and the taste usually can't be beat!

I have found that my kids really appreciate lunches that vary from day to day. If I send a sandwich every day they start to not eat. I've worked hard to find a variety of things to send in lunches: wraps, pitas, muffins, cheese and crackers and pickles, etc.

One thing we really love is Crazy Bread from Little Ceaser's and today I was doing a little surfing and found some copy cat recipes and decided to give it a go. This is going to definitely be something for us to add to our lunch repetoire!! It's really easy, costs pennies, and tastes sooooo good! It tasted just like the real thing. I also put a little mozarella cheese on them, but I don't think I'll do that next time.

The recipe I found said to use Pillsbury Dough pizza dough - but I made my own. I mixed it, let it rise, laid it out in the pan, and let it rise again. Before baking it I cut it into Crazy Bread strips the size Little Ceaser's does it. After it was finished baking I used a brush to brush on melted butter with garlic salt, and then sprinkled grated parmesan cheese on it. Seriously! You have to try this!












The restaurant by us charges $3.14 for 8 breadsticks. I actually made 24 breadsticks with this - so to buy that would have cost $9.42.

Ingredients for pizza dough:

  • 3/4 cup water
  • less than 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour

Melt and mix together:

  • 2 tbsp margarine
  • 1 tsp garlic salt

sprinklings of parmesan cheese

It costs me about $6 for 10K of flour, and so my guess is for the 2 cups of flour this took it cost pennies to make this, but let's say the cost of the ingredients added up to $1.00. If I make this once a week all through the school year instead of buying it:

148 days of school divided by 5 days of the week is about 29 weeks of school

If I did that every other week that would be about 15 bread stick batches

If I bought those 15 bread stick batches that would be $141.30

To make it would be about $15. I just saved about $126 on those!

(That's enough to go get my hair done 3 times! Wow!)

....next I'm wondering if I could pull off some really good little personal sized pizzas for lunches. Hmmmmm.......

First Day of School

Today was the first day of school! It was a great day! Jill has a new teacher who seems very nice, and Peirce is back in the same class of his beloved teacher from last year.

The only thing that brought a little sadness was that Jill filled Peirce in on the exciting fact that this is their last year in the same school - exciting for Jill because she'll move on to Junior High - but terrible for Peirce. For days he has fretted about the fact that next year Jill won't be in his school. He says he never wants this year to end.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Summer Reflections

I love summer. But I think I'm more suited to the routines of the school year. I'm always so relieved when falls rolls around and it's time to go back to school. Today as I listened to my kids and neighborhood kids squealing and giggling in the yard though I felt a little sad. I'll miss those sounds of summer!

However, that school bell is ringing. It's time!!

This summer Jill got a volunteer position at Cardel. She helps teach swimming lessons. It is right up her alley and she really had a great time - although she said she felt a little weird when she was helping teach kids her own age how to swim.

This week she's also been able to have a job! I ran into a lady who needed some help in her yard. I tried to help her find a teenage boy that could do some work. After a few fruitless attempts I asked her if she'd consider letting Jill do it - and she was happy to have her. It's been a really great experience for Jill. She's learned a lot about wedding and compost and gardening in general and she feels so rich!! She was paid $9 an hour. Pretty good for a kid!!

This summer Peirce's big change has been bike riding. He originally said that bike riding wasn't for him - but he's sure changed his mind. He loves to go with his neighborhood friends to the park or ride around our area, or who knows where else! It's taken a little time to get him to understand that he can't just take off for hours and that he needs to check back in with me often. I'm thinking we need to get him a watch with an alarm that beeps on the hour and half hour to remind him to go back home and let his mom know he's still alive.

Today before Jill went to her "job" we went and played at a school playground. Had a great time! Here's a few shots I got before my camera battery died. :0) One wonderful thing about this summer is Jill and Peirce really have had a lot of time to play together and they seemed to have really enjoyed it. The other day they had a spat and Peirce was telling me how sad he felt. I told him he should talk to Jill about it. It was so heartwarming to listen to them. He told her when she did whatever she had done it made him feel like she doesn't love him. She was quick to reassure him and tell him she does love him. His eyes got full and he said, "Man! When you say that it makes me feel like I'm going to cry!"

.....I love seeing my kids work out issues and learn to get along. Warms a mother's heart!



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Cool things at this playground!




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Thanks for the pushes Jill!


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Here's Jill doing her "swing tricks"

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Bike Riding....hey! That's not half bad!

The Doodlebops used to have a little scenario they did where they were served cauliflower. One of them really didn't like it - but it turned out he'd never tried it. After a lot of encouragement he finally decides to try a tiny bite, and then exclaims, "Hey! That's not half bad!"

We've borrowed that phrase a lot in our life with Peirce. He's often timid about stuff....and we push and prod as much as we feel we can....and often times we get a, 'Hey! That's not half bad!"

Such was the case with bike-riding.

Peirce didn't really like bike-riding. It was too dangerous. So we decided we'd get a co-pilot. Maybe that would help him get the feel of it.

I think it did...but that was still a little dangerous and he spent most of the time saying, "Slow down Mom." "Don't go on the bump Dad." "Oh no!!! Stop!!!"

So this Spring we decided we were going to have to MAKE him learn.

It didn't go that well. Peirce doesn't take well to being made to do stuff. I have a video of him crying and carrying on....but he doesn't like that video so I decided this picture will just have to do.


So finally we had to promise that we wouldn't ever make him learn to ride...and he could learn on his own.

I truly never thought he'd do it. He was so timid about it! But once again, I was wrong. One night in June Jill rushed inside to tell us to HURRY HURRY! Peirce can ride his bike!!

And sure enough, she was right!!




And what a run summer it has been. Of course, now and then we've had to ground him from his bike for taking off for too long and not telling us where he's going, or for going somewhere he wasn't allowed - but mostly it's been a great summer thanks to his new found skill!! Way to go Peirce!!!

Monday, 24 August 2009

Chico Play Time

I never really wanted a dog. I still don't really want a dog....but we have one. The problem with our dog is he doesn't put on good appearances. With other people he's afraid. He's nippy and barks and carries on until I'm just embarrassed about him. Dumb dog.


But with us he's so fun!! And he's really quite nice. Here's the evidence for those of you who have only witnessed the nasty side of The Hound from Hell.

I love how Chico teases Peirce sometimes. They have a lot of fun together!



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Sunday, 23 August 2009

Stake Conference

Today was Stake Conference. I always look forward to the talks by our Stake Presidency. Today our Stake President talked about missions. He talked to the boys that are of mission age and pleaded with them to serve missions.

I sure can stand behind what he said. There is nothing that can compare to a mission. Nothing.

President Thomas got an email from someone about missions that he quoted. One of the comments he read is that this person said that thanks to serving a mission they knew they could do hard things and hardly hesitate when asked to do something difficult.

That's so true!! You spend so much time on a mission doing things that are slightly out of your comfort zone. Well, they're out of the comfort zone of a regular person - but as a missionary it's not that hard (well, some of it isn't that hard)....okay, there's a lot of hard stuff....but somehow missionaries do it - and it's true! Thanks to my mission I'm not afraid to be asked to do hard things.

That's one of many many many reasons I'm glad I went on a mission. I think everyone should do it. Seriously. Everyone.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Big Love....nah!! Big stuff....and love



Peirce found a great book in the library that we've been reading lately. It shows how big things are in comparison to other things. Really cool!

There are spiders in there as big as plates, and it shows how big a tsunami is in comparison to Tokyo. Really big!! Oh, and the biggest squid ever found....it was as long as a house!



Inspired by our trip to Shakespeare In the Park, Jill picked up a book called Romeo's Ex.




Here's the summary from the library website: Shakespeare's classic retold from another perspective Rosaline won't let anyone or anything get in the way of her future as a healer. That is, until she meets Benvolio. Where Romeo's words had been hollow and unfounded, Benvolio's are filled with sincerity and true love. Now Rosaline finds herself caught between her feelings, her ambition, and her family's long-standing feud with the Montagues. When Romeo turns his affections toward Ros's cousin, Juliet, their relationship brings the feud of the two houses to a new level. Rosaline and Benvolio hatch a plan to bring peace to the two families. But will they succeed?

Friday, 21 August 2009

Calaway Park

AGF, one of the companies Allen invests money with, has great contests and special events for families. They just had a contest and the winners got to go to Calaway Park...and we got to go! We arrived at 5:00 for a BBQ. Allen and I enjoyed visiting with friend's from our office and from the other offices. My favorite quote for the night was from Peirce, standing around, waiting for us to stop talking. He said, "Dad, this really isn't turning out the way I hoped it would be!" hee hee

The kids were pretty anxious to get at the serious business of Calaway Park, so off we went to cram in as much as we could before 10:00pm. At 7:00 they closed all the rides down and everyone is supposed to go home....but we had these magic purple bracelets that let them know we could still be there - and at 7:15 they opened the rides again just for the AGF contest winners! It was really fun to be able to get on a ride, and then run around to the line and get on again within seconds.

We especially had a good time on the bumper cars!! I think this picture of Allen is hilarious. He's a little intense about his bumper car experience - especially when he can crash into his friends!

This is an old friend, Maureen Snow! We didn't know she worked with PFS. It was fun to see her (and crash into her!)



The kids went on the Merry Go Round just to appease me. I used to like rides...but something has happened to me. I don't like them at all anymore. The Merry Go Round, though, is great!


I love how Peirce makes friends. He would hook up with someone and go on the rides with them again and again and again.

It's a funny thing when you have kids four years apart. Jill liked the scary rides that Peirce would not dream of going on in a hundred years. She, however, was pretty happy to come play on some of the less scary ones. So much fun!




Peirce had such a good time!! He had a big smile like this on his face the whole time.

Jill really enjoyed the scary, go upside down and spin and other foolish stuff like that. Good thing Allen was there to accompany her! They're definitely not for me anymore. Allen and Jill, however, went on all those scary ones at least four times in a row each time. At least they had a good time! She doesn't look like she's having too much fun here....it took her a few rides to get into the swing of things....but soon she was off and running!

At the end we stopped at the candy store. What a dilemma! When we left Peirce said he's never going to that candy store again unless he has $50 because it's just too hard to pick.

Thanks AGF for such a good time! We came home absolutely totally exhausted and Peirce was asleep within 15 minutes of leaving. We can call the night a huge success when that happens!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Reading and Writing All Summer Long

I love the learning-to-read years. It's so much fun to watch kids find a whole new world opening up to them. This summer Peirce has made great strides in his reading skills. He now reads all the street signs, the menus, the neon signs on stores, and everything else he comes across. He also has taken to re-writing his favorite books. He wrote "The Very Hungry Scorpion", patterned after Eric Carle's similar book, is working on "Chester" (not sure how his version will vary yet....it's a work in progress), and has a number of other start and stop writing projects.

I make attempts to encourage my kids to spend time reading and writing all summer long. I seem to always start off with the idea of making a summer journal...and then that dies off quite quickly. This summer, as I started paying attention, I realized that they do plenty of reading and writing in many different ways. Jill can often be found lost in a book for hours - and I can't wait for Peirce to discover the enjoyment that can come from that as well. I've done a LOT of reading chapter books out loud. Sometimes I make him read to me....but mostly he prefers having me read to him (much less cumbersome!)





Peirce learned to google this summer....and so he spent lots of time looking up things that really matter to him: kinds of cars, kinds of trees, all the flags for every country in the world, best Webkinz animals, etc., etc., etc! The page above from his notebook is one of his lists he worked on for hours - kinds of dogs. Oh, and he also learned how to book mark cook sites he comes across. A whole new world!

I don't know how he came up with the idea....but he could often be found with the scrabble board making words from TV shows, or books, or words that just came into his head. Usually he'd leave letters out and make us guess what the words were (kind of like Wheel of Fortune, he said!) The fact that he came up with this idea himself and could often be found doing it for hours on ends gives credence to the whole unschooling idea that I'm intrigued by.

....and of course, there's rock band! He's really good at reading those lyrics. His favorite is "I think I'm Paranoid!"
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Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Up!


I liked this story. Peirce and I read it together. He saw the movie and then came across the book at the library and snapped it up. I can't say the book is really great writing. As a matter of fact there were times when I'd be reading and say, "I don't get it." And Peirce would jump in with an explanation that was so complete and better than what the book said it was astounding. Clearly this was a book made after the movie!


The story is about an old guy, Carl, who always dreamed of adventure...and finally realizes his dream. There are a lot of funny things along the way. I liked the lessons learned in the adventure:


  • Memories are not found in stuff....but they're in our heart. We can let go of the stuff!

  • Never forget your dreams!

  • Don't be afraid to adjust your dreams as you go!

  • And dogs are very loyal...but can be very distracted by squirrels :0)


I liked the summary on Amazon.com:


At a time when too many animated films consist of anthropomorphized animals cracking sitcom one-liners and flatulence jokes, the warmth, originality, humor, and unflagging imagination of Up feel as welcome as rain in a desert. Carl Fredericksen (voice by Ed Asner) ranks among the most unlikely heroes in recent animation history. A 78- year-old curmudgeon, he enjoyed his modest life as a balloon seller because he shared it with his adventurous wife Ellie (Ellie Docter). But she died, leaving him with memories and the awareness that they never made their dream journey to Paradise Falls in South America. When well-meaning officials consign Carl to Shady Oaks Retirement Home, he rigs thousands of helium balloons to his house and floats to South America. The journey's scarcely begun when he discovers a stowaway: Russell (Jordan Nagai), a chubby, maladroit Wilderness Explorer Scout who's out to earn his Elderly Assistance Badge. In the tropical jungle, Carl and Russell find more than they bargained for: Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer), a crazed explorer whose newsreels once inspired Carl and Ellie; Kevin, an exotic bird with a weakness for chocolate; and Dug (Bob Peterson), an endearingly dim golden retriever fitted with a voice box. More importantly, the travelers discover they need each other: Russell needs a (grand)father figure; Carl needs someone to enliven his life without Ellie. Together, they learn that sharing ice-cream cones and counting the passing cars can be more meaningful than feats of daring-do and distant horizons. Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc. ) and Bob Peterson direct the film with consummate skill and taste, allowing the poignant moments to unfold without dialogue to Michael Giacchnio's vibrant score. Building on their work in The Incredibles and Ratatouille, the Pixar crew offers nuanced animation of the stylized characters. Even by Pixar's elevated standards, Up is an exceptional film that will appeal of audiences of all ages. Rated PG for some peril and action. --Charles Solomon

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Happy Birthday Jill!

I'm not sure how it happened! But in the last 10 years we suddenly went from this to this!

11 years old! As Jill put it: 11 is such a beautiful number. It doesn't have the thud of 10. It rolls off your tongue like a butterfly's wings!!

11 is definitely better.....and now Jill is 11! She said this morning she definitely feels a change.


In our house birthdays always start off with the kids piling into our bed and opening presents - and today was no different. She spent the morning helping teach swimming lessons, then went for a bike ride, then went swimming again! Then it was off to the restaurant of choice: McDonald's, and then cake at home. Life is good!




Here she is in her new swim suit! When she tried to blow out the candles she blew two times and they wouldn't blow out! Hmmmmm! Perhaps she doesn't know that boyfriend's aren't allowed!



We're sure glad to have you in our family! You've simply changed our lives.

Monday, 17 August 2009

11 Years Ago, Right Now!!!

11 years ago right now I was in labor...well, slow labor. I remember it so well!!

I got up in the morning and realized I was leaking. It was like I would pee and not be able to control it. Weird. So I grabbed a big box of thick absorbant pads and went to the office with Allen (of course, right?! LOL) Everyone there who I talked to was aghast that I was even there. Not many of them had any child birth experience so no one has much advise. I called the doctor and after we watched the broadcast and got a few other things done we went to the doctor and she confirmed that my water had in fact broke. She said to go home and go to the hospital when things were moving a little more.

So off we went. We hadn't bought much for our baby. We had to move out of the place we were renting in May and couldn't move into the house we had just bought until August 29. I really didn't feel like buying things as it just meant moving more stuff....so that afternoon I said to Allen, "What do you figure we need for this baby?" We went to Wal-Mart and wandered around and tried to decide what we should buy. Looking back we just laugh at the stuff we bought....nothing really that useful! No clothes. One wimpy little blanket (more like a burp cloth), and some baby powder and vaseline. I really wasn't sure why babies need vaseline or baby powder ...and as it turns out we still have both those containers we bought 11 years ago! :0)

While we were at Wal-Mart we ran into my Vice Principal. She was also aghast that we were shopping while I was in labor....but gee, what's a girl to do??

Then we went out for dinner, and then back home to my parent's house where we were staying. Allen had just come home from a trip to Arizona and was so tired - so he went to bed but I couldn't really sleep. By about midnight I felt like things were probably serious enough to justify going to the hospital - so I woke him up and off we went.

Turned out I wasn't that far along but they kept me there because my blood pressure was kind of high. Keeping me really meant that they put us in a room and forgot about us. Poor Allen was so tired. I was not interested in having my forehead dabbed or my back rubbed. I told him to sit on the chair in the corner and stay there. Poor guy. At one point I decided it was time for some pain relief and sent him down to the nurse's station. He came back and told me they were busy and would get to me soon and I told him in no uncertain terms to go back there and tell them I needed something NOW!

I finally got my drugs - and not long after that it was time to push. By 8:30 our little girl was here! We didn't know if we were having a girl or a boy. I remember being so surprised that it was a girl! I really wanted a girl and was almost afraid to make my wish known in case it didn't happen.

And when I look back, the traits she had as a baby she still has now. She was wide awake as soon as she was born. She would look around the room and gaze at everyone with a look like, "Well, I'm here. Let's get the party started!"

I remember lying in the hospital with her and being so excited to get to know this little girl. And getting to know her has been such a joy. She's still ready to get the party started wherever she is. Her enthusiasm is contagious. And she's good at everything! She hopes to go to the Olympics one day and I won't be surprised if she really does. She's good. She's smart, and she's darn cute. And even people besides her mother seem to agree!

I was so excited to be a mom. I would hold her for hours. I'd hold her when she was awake because she liked to be right in the action. Then she'd fall asleep and I'd think, "Well, I can't put her down now....I'll just hold her while she sleeps." Then she'd wake up and want to be held.....and the cycle went on and on....and it was so fun! I loved being a new mom. And I still love being your mom.

We love you Jill!!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Best Friends


This weekend Jill and her best friend, Rae, celebrated Jill's birthday. On th agenda was the library, Peter's Drive-In, a movie, and a sleepover.



It's fun to watch your kids hang out with friends - especially when their friends are such great kids.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Monday with a Mad Genius (Mary Pope Osborne)

I've never really been into The Magic Treehouse series....but I'm starting to see the good things those books bring to the table!

Peirce and I really read Monday with a Mad Genius - which is about a visit that Jack and Annie have with Leonardo DaVinci. The story is cute and it is infused with facts about Leonardo DaVinci. It was a fun read.

The ending is great too....they learn that real happiness comes from curiousity. It was fun to talk about Leonardo DaVinci and his notebooks, and the Mona Lisa, and his fascination with birds and flight, as well as some of his failed attempts at frescos and such. Definitely a worthwhile read!
....and after reading this I think my own Peirce is a bit of a Renaissance man! :0)

No More Regrets!

I can't tell you how many times I think I should blog about something....and then I don't do it because I think I should blog about something else that happened first.

Time to stop living with regrets and just get back at it!! I'm sad at the things I've missed recording this past month....but it's time to move on!

More to come!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Grease Sing-Along!

The mall had drive-in movies this summer! The first one they had was a Grease Sing-Along. When we got there we realized we had parked right beside some swim club friends! And funny enough they were dressed up too! Don't Jill and Carson make a cute Sandy and Danny?
A drive-in is about the only time you're allowed to sit ON TOP of the van...so they took advantage of that!
It was Abdul's first experience at a drive-in


In his usual style, Peirce floats from place to place to enjoy an event. He spent time on our van's roof, in Abdul's car, on Abdul's roof, and then finally in the van....totally konked out.

Sing it Peirce!
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