Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Preschool for Lu

At the beginning of the school year a couple of friends asked me if I would be interested in a doing a little preschool for our daughters.  It was a bit of a leap of faith for me because I can be really bad at commitments and things I view as stress.  But I said yes.  And I’m so glad I did.  With all the days off with regular school I wind up hosting about once a month (we only do it one day a week, which is PERFECT for me).  Here’s a bit of what I’ve done with the girls so far.


We do one letter a week.  I brainstorm as many bizarre ideas as I can come up with and then try to narrow it down to one and mix in some normal stuff so I don’t get kicked out of the group.  ;>

For the letter “A” I chose Abstract Art, Apples and Astronomy. (Don’t you think antagonist would have been good?  We could have talked about literary forms and character analysis in literature.  Alas . . .)  We read the coolest book about finding shapes in art (I Spy Shapes in Art by Lucy Micklethwait) and then did letter “A”s Matisse-style. 


We ate Apples for snack.


And made star jars (Astronomy) which I forgot to take a picture of.  Basically you poke holes in tinfoil, slip that inside a jar and put a little tealight inside.  It makes a fun night light.

The next week I had was a cancelled trip to the pumpkin patch due to weather, so we just did pumpkin stuff (nothing weird or unusual here).  The girls made pumpkin cookies,


made pumpkin torn paper collages,


and read stories to each other.


Letter “E”came next.  I really wanted to do something with Edgar Degas, Entomology, or Edgar Allan Poe, but I knew I was pushing it with that last one. Instead we went Exploring,


and made collages of what we found. Can you tell I love collages?


We played I Spy with our magnifying Eye glasses. And we did a food tasting for snack (more Exploring).

Our most recent adventure was with the letter “H”. By this point I had figured out that anything too out in left field was going right over their heads.  If they couldn’t pronounce it, they couldn’t remember it. (My cast-off words included Hyperbole, Hydrogenate and Hysteria.  Ooo, but Helen Keller would have been good, no?  Ooo and Haiku – that would have been good, too.  So many good words, so little time.)  But I did manage to squeak in Haberdashery!  Yea me!  So “H” was full of Houses, Haberdashery (those silly girls just called them Hats) and Hands.

I cut up a bunch of laminated scrapbook paper into different shapes and put magnets on the back for our road trip in August.  I have pulled them out many times since then to curb boredom.  On this day they worked beautifully for Houses.


About four years ago I came across an idea for making Hats out of paper plates and bowls in a Strawberry Shortcake craft book.  It’s been filed away for quite some time.  We finally got to make them!


And lastly, Alyx watched an episode of Pioneer Woman with me where they made Hand cookies (cookies cut out around the actual hands of her guests).  Alyx had been begging me to make them for preschool ever since she saw it.  When I realized I had the letter “H”, I could not pass it up.


Didn’t those hats turn out ADORABLE?!?  Preschool has been nothing but fun (Well, except the time my baby was screaming her head off until I could get the little girls occupied with something long enough for me to nurse the baby.  And the time I accidentally bumped one of the girls out of her chair and onto the floor.  And the time Alyx and the other girls got into a huge fight over the little trampoline.  Oh, and the time . . .)  I’m so glad I said yes.  ;>

Sunday, November 23, 2014

In Other News

Life lately:


Elle pulls herself up on everything . . . and then lets go . . . and then falls on her bum.  Repeat.


I have no idea what this picture is all about (too long on the camera), but I love seeing my loves together and happy (and Anna on one of her “louder” days).


Elle is currently infatuated with the shower and exploring all things in it.


I will not gross you out with details, but lets just say the drain and her have shared a lot.


I LOVE evenings when we get back from the library.  I try to take the kids every few weeks for a little browse session after school.  We all load up on books and I secretly hope Sean got home before us and started dinner.  Library evenings always seem to end up like this – everyone in their own little spot snuggled up with a good book.  The house is peacefully quiet and I hate to send them to bed.


Lu found some spilled rice cereal of Elle’s on the table and decided to create some art.  It stayed for a good 24 hours.  I couldn’t bear to wipe it up.


Oh, so much kissable goodness!


I love living in a place that experiences fall.


Elle is enthralled with her new little friend in the mirror.  Before long the glass is covered in slobbery kisses and my heart feels all tickly and happy and warm.

Timberline Lodge

While Sean and I were visiting Mt. Hood last month we took a last minute detour on the way home.  Timberline Lodge is a very cool piece of Oregon history and quite a sight to see. 


When I was in high school I had to do a cultural event.  One of those things where you have to prove you went somewhere, um . . . cultural.  I recall procrastinating this assignment until the last possible weekend (that would be the first of June) and my family drove up the mountain so I could get a couple of brochures to prove I had been there.  This was not on of my finer scholarly moments.  All I remember about the day was I put on shorts in the valley because it was nice and warm, and when I got out of the car at the top of the mountain I was blasted with freezing cold air.  I ran in, grabbed the brochures, jumped in the car, and we drove back down the mountain.  Pathetic, I know.  But I appreciate my parents driving me all the way up there on a Saturday to save my English grade.


This time was completely different.  And so fun.  It was cold, for sure, but it was also just really neat and kind of disconcerting to see a place that should be covered in snow, covered in nothing but dirt and rocks.  You see, Timberline Lodge is at the timberline (brilliant, this name).  So when you look up the mountain from the lodge you see this:


Nothing but a bald rock.  But when you look down the mountain, you see this:


Beautiful, lush forest.  It’s kind of trippy.  A little unsettling.


The Lodge itself is massive, not only in size, but in feeling.  It’s not like a big fancy hotel that has a bazillion floors and lots of ballrooms and restaurants.  What I mean is when you walk inside


you just feel that mass.


This is a solid structure!  The Lodge was built in the 1930s as part of Pres. Roosevelt’s work projects.  Every part of this building is made from wood and stone.  And to help you get some perspective on the size of those beams (which are solid wood – perhaps more illustratively stated, solid tree trunks) . . .


Sean is not a little man.  Those things are massive!  The whole Lodge is like that.  From the rafters


To the staircases


To the furniture


As sad as it is that we could not reconstruct this building today even if we wanted to because the lumber resources are simply no longer available, in a way that also makes this place so special.  It is unique.  Not only to its setting up on the top of Mt Hood, but to its time.  My old high school has paintings in the theater lining the balcony section.  The paintings were done in the 30s as part of the FDR’s work projects.  I recently read a book about marvelous art that was created during the 30s that never would have happened had it not been for the Depression. 


It is inspiring to me to see places like this and the art at my high school and beautiful miniature rooms showcasing the talent of master craftsmen at the Art Institute of Chicago.  I can see their souls in their work.  Work they so desperately wanted to do.  Work that celebrated industry and beauty and craftsmanship.  I am in awe at their desire to give their all to whatever was laid before them.  And I am so grateful to have the privilege of experiencing it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sweet Sixteen

Sean and I recently celebrated our sixteenth wedding anniversary!  And what a sweet sixteen years it has been.  When I take into account all the ups and downs and everything in between, I am amazed at how the goodness and loveliness outweighs the sad and difficult times.


We were fortunate enough to spend a few days in a cabin right on the Sandy River.  It was gorgeous!  The cabin was perfectly sized and very comfortable.  And the views could not be beat.


My favorite spot was sitting in the hot tub, surrounded by a garden of lush foliage, listening to the river rush by.  It was so peaceful and so perfect.  And if the water wasn’t so hot that I felt like I was going to pass out after fifteen minutes, I am not sure I would have ever gotten out.


Just about every vacation I ask Sean if there’s room for my sewing machine because I have dreams of stitching up amazing creations while I’m away from my everyday cares.  Sometimes there’s room and sometimes there isn’t.  And even if there is room, I don’t always get around to pulling it out of the car to actually make anything.  Not so on this trip!  We watched Project Runway the first night (We do not have television at home, so Project Runway is something I only indulge in on vacations.  And in all truthfulness I watched PR while Sean clicked and clacked away beside me on his laptop dreaming up some brilliant new program.).  It was the kick in the pants I needed to spend the entire next day sewing jammies for Anna.  I honestly cannot remember the last time I have been able to spend a whole day sewing.  Even when I was working on Anna’s baptism dress in April, I had a brand new baby and four other little kids that needed their mommy off and on all day long, so the dress had to be worked on thirty minutes here and thirty minutes there.  I only sewed the one day, and that was enough, but it was so fun.


We went on lots of walks and visited the library (we sort of collect libraries on vacation) and watched a lot of football and stared at lots of leaves and changed lots of diapers (Elle’s still too little to leave for that long).  The mountains and river were the perfect background, the leaves trying to decide if it really is fall were beautiful, the time together was so needed. 


When Sean picked up the keys on our first day, the lady at the desk was trying to be all nice and conversational, talking about the reason for our trip.  Sean just kept saying (sort of hysterically), “We’re running away!  We left all of our kids and we’re running away!”  I think he sort of scared the poor woman.  But when he dropped off the keys she commented on how relaxed he looked and that the trip must have done its job. Even so, as we were packing up Sean kept saying, “I could use a few more days.”  I just think we’re crazy lucky we got any of it.


In the very, very early years of our marriage, Sean and I decided to set aside a certain amount of money each month for vacations.  It has made taking vacations completely guilt-free.  We never worry about the money because it has been set aside through out the year(s).  And that money is sacred!  We don’t borrow from it or touch it for anything else.  That has been a great decision that has blessed our family over and over.  It helps keep our family fun and our marriage strong, and I’m so grateful we’ve stuck to it.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


We managed to squeak in one last trip before school started.  Originally we discussed Washington, D.C., which whittled itself down to Salt Lake City, which whittled down even more into Brookings, OR.  We wanted to go someplace coastal that would be at least kind of warm and provide us with an opportunity to visit a National Park – the Redwoods.  Here are some of the highlights.

1-2014-08-20 Brookings 2

* story time with Grandpa (my dad has a knack for making making any simple children’s story ridiculously funny making story time a much anticipated event whenever Grandpa is around)01-DSC_0117
* a gorgeous, sunny, warm day at the beach which is no small feat here in the Pacific Northwest1-2014-08-16 Brookings 1
* picnicking in Rogue River Park (over 25 years ago my parents sat on the banks of this river while on a family vacation and decided to move our family to Oregon)29-DSC_1328
* interviewing my dad and hearing wonderful stories about his life and my ancestors03-DSC_0129
* appreciating my mom’s knack for getting Elle to burst out in her newly discovered giggle (and giving Elle her very first taste of plum – she loved it!)07-DSC_1323
* our charming little beach house with roofs slanted so steeply upstairs that you could only walk down the middle of most rooms02-DSC_0121
* visiting the quiet chapel in Azalea Park that Anna researched for her “Sights to See in Brookings” project (which she did a fantastic job on)

* going up the Sky Tram and seeing the Redwood forest from the top – or at least seeing the mist of the forest from the top

* Sean and Djeryd and Erik and Grandma bringing us back delicious fresh fish from their deep blue sea expedition – which they vowed to never go on again (but man, that is good fish!)24-DSC_0039
* celebrating Erik’s birthday with tons of good food and the promise of a rock tumbler and a special personalized present from both his grandpas12-DSC_0266
* reading family scriptures together in the girls’ room every night (it was quiet, happy peace for my soul each day)27-DSC_1440
* remembering memories of my own childhood and making new ones for my children1-DSC_1302

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