Monday, December 5, 2016

Happy birthday, Todd!

Coming right after Halloween, as it does every year (weird), is Todd's birthday!  This year was the big 33.  These double digit birthdays only come around once every eleven years, so we tried to make it special, even though Todd doesn't ever have any expectations.  That is probably my fault from all of the years when his birthday snuck up on me, and I forgot to plan anything (every single year).  The kids were excited to celebrate with some gifts they picked out: a very loud red tie, and a t-shirt that says "The cops just pulled me over for carrying these guns!" With arrows pointing to muscles on a stick figure.  They were hoping it would make him laugh, and it did.  Every time he wears it, Jared and Eloise glow with pride that he is showing off the shirt that they picked out.  
 Eloise and I also framed one of her watercolor paintings to hang in his office.  Eloise loves to create.
 The day after Todd's birthday I had planned for us to go kayaking together.  Of course, after a gorgeous sunny week, autumn weather returned with a vengeance for our outing day.  We ended up going out for lunch and a movie instead.  We are not such die hard occasional athletes that we feel the need to suffer in a tiny boat on a miserably rainy day.
Our babysitter, Amy, brought Nemo fruit snacks for Sammy, since she knows he loves Nemo (which is actually his name for all fish).  She also brought a reindeer antler craft WITHOUT EVEN KNOWING about B's infatuation with reindeer.  I think that these antlers may have to be surgically removed from his head in a few years.  That is the only way they are ever coming off.
It was a low-key birthday, as Todd likes them.  I made Todd's favorite pumpkin chocolate chip muffins instead of cake.  Due to a happy coincidence of timing, Cambell's mom, Darcy, was also in town for Todd's birthday, and sent over some of her famous chocolate chip cookies, which have been his favorite since he was a kid.  Our friends, the Allens, came over for pizza and a movie, and we managed to get all of the kids distracted for long enough to play a board game.
Happy birthday, Todd!

Everything Else in October

Jared opened his very own bank account.  Our banker was kind of in love with Sammy.  
 Sammy figured out how to open the refrigerator AND the milk. . . yeah.  That was not cool.
 At this time of year, up here in the north-lands, we have to carry flashlights and wear reflective gear when we leave the house after 3.  We walked over to meet Daddy on his way home from work one day.
 I ran a 10K in St. Edward State Park.  It was a monster.  It was my first 10K ever.  It was all on trails, and it had one major hill that had to be climbed twice on the course.  There was a half marathon on the same course (two laps instead of one), but a lot of people cashed in after one time around the course.  I walked from home to the starting line, and Todd brought the kids over later to watch me cross the finish line.  This is a picture of me taken by the official race photographer as I entered the last mile (half of it went straight up).  It was a hard, muddy course, but beautiful.
 This is The Puddle in our neighborhood.  So far this wet season, Sammy has only fallen in the deep part twice, and Jared has swamped his boots once.  Multiple gloves have been dropped in the water, though.  A lot of walks end here, since we end up too wet to go on.
 I made the mistake of letting B pick any cookie he wanted me to make out of a cookie cookbook.  Of course he would pick one that required rolling, fondant, decorating skills, and patience that I don't really have.  It took me three days to make cookies, roll cookies, and make and shape fondant.

 On October 14 we had a typical autumn windstorm that knocked out power for a few hours.  Consequently I had to learn to make our Friday night pizza on the stove top, using our camping stove.  This process was sped up a lot when the power came back on while I was making the second pizza, but now I have a skill that I didn't have before.
 B is a flying bat-dog.  Just a typical morning.
 The market decorated for autumn.

 Our neighbor, Betty, let the kids pick the last of her golden raspberries.
 I painted some Halloween spoons at a relief society activity.  B saw them, loved them, and demanded that I make him some turkeys and a Santa, so I made a set for each of the upcoming holidays.
 This is the face that I can't say no to.

 We made an epic pillow fort.  We also swapped our upstairs and downstairs couches so that there is more room to run around and be crazy downstairs.
 We tried fitting everyone on the rooster at the fruit market at the same time, but they didn't quite fit.
 Sammy likes to help me put the other kids in bed.  Sometimes things get silly.
 B had one very bad night's sleep, and spent most of the next day lying on the couch.
 Sammy mimicking Eloise.
 Sammy and B perched on the counter watching the mixer.  Next to Sammy is a plate of lamington I made when we were learning about Australia and New Zealand.
On October 28, we surprised the kids by taking them to Google Halloween. 
 After last year's Halloween burnout, we told them that there would only be one Halloween celebration this year.  They had to choose between our church trunk or treat, Google Halloween, and trick or treating in the neighborhood.  They chose the latter, so taking them trick or treating at Daddy's office was a surprise.  Here are some of their costumes.  B was a skeleton.
 Eloise was Smurfette.  She loves the smurfs.

Sammy was an astronaut, and Jared was a ghost.  
 This is our jack'o'lantern.  Each of the kids designed a feature, drew it on in pencil, and I helped them cut.
 Here they are with their creation.
 Our three big trees dropped a lot of leaves in October, so we spent a lot of time raking/jumping.
 On Halloween, the Carvers came trick or treating with us.  I was planning to stay home with Sammy, but he saw the other kids getting their costumes on and ran to get his shoes and jacket, so we all went.  It was raining.  We made it about halfway around the block, and then everyone was done.
 One chaotic hour of candy collection was much better than last year's days long costume-and-candy-fest. Happy Halloween!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

School in October

I could probably have a completely separate blog with pictures of all of the hilarious answers the kids give me in response to their writing prompts.  Here is one of Eloise's that made me smile.  If you can't read it, it says "I wish trees could dans (dance) because I <3 music.="" p="">
 October 6 was the first Thursday in October, which means free museum day in Seattle.  We went to the Seattle Asian Art Museum in conjunction with our study of Medieval India, China, Korea, and Japan.  It was blustery outside, but the kids had a lot of energy when we got there, so we played outside for a while.

 Here is the whole crew lined up by the koi pond.
 Dorothy attempted to wrap me in a sari.  They seem complicated.  The Asian Art Museum had a children's room with art supplies, books, costumes, and toys, where we could have stayed for much longer.  I dragged a very reluctant bunch of kids out of there to see some Buddha images before we had to go.
 Dorothy, Alice, B, and Eloise pose like the warrior statue on the wall behind them.
 Behavior-wise, this wasn't our most successful trip, but the museum itself was more kid-friendly than the Seattle Art Museum.
  I took this picture to remind myself that Jared occasionally focuses on his work for as long as it takes for the shutter to click.
 Eloise might be part cat.  She likes to curl up in small spaces with her workbook.
 On October 11 we went to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery to watch the egg harvesting.  This was very interesting (and very cold).  It was a little nerve wracking that Sammy decided that the bright orange salmon eggs were probably candy.  They were all over the ground in some places.  The salmon were caught, clubbed, and sliced open to get the eggs or milts, then some of the eggs were weighed by scientists to collect data about how many eggs were collected.  The fish on the ground in this picture were pulled from the fish ladder already dead.  Their carcasses were packed up and sent to a fertilizer plant, so nothing is wasted.  Thousands and thousands of salmon come up Issaquah Creek to spawn every year.  Some are allowed to go upstream to spawn, but most of them are harvested artificially to give them a better chance of survival.
 The Carvers had to leave before we had seen everything so that they could pick Beatrice up from preschool, but Dorothy stayed to eat lunch and see some more exhibits with us.
 Some of the volunteers in the video about the hatchery were the same volunteers working outside while we were there.
 It was a good day to learn about salmon.
 On October 13 we learned about the Chinese invention of the printing press by attempting to make our own prints using foam letters, paints, and a rolling pin.
 We were moderately successful after I remembered that the letters all had to be placed backwards (oops).
 Eloise is learning to read clocks.
 Jared focusing again!
 One day we made cupcakes to practice our measuring and instruction following skills.  We did an experiment to see if we could tell the difference between applesauce spice cupcakes and plain spice cupcakes, and which one was preferred.  Jared collected data from his testers and made a graph.
 Eloise is learning to count money.
 Eloise is reading better and better. She discovered that she can read well enough to read some of the short chapter books that Jared likes, such as Geronimo Stilton books, and Magic Treehouse books.  B is very close to figuring out how reading works, too.  He is very motivated to do what Jared and Eloise spend so much time doing.
 On October 21 we went to our first play.  Studio East had a free dress rehearsal of their play, "The Emperor's New Clothes."  It was written just for kids, and even Sammy sat riveted for the entire performance.
 B had to go to the bathroom during the part when the emperor "put on" his new clothes, so he had to have the ending explained to him several times, but he loved it whether he understood it or not.

 Jared, who believes he is allergic to crafts, actually liked cutting out snowflakes.  I knew Eloise would like it. B loved the idea that winter, with his beloved Christmas, was approaching.
 Eloise had a chance to give a talk in primary.  She typed some of it herself for typing practice.
Here is the text of her talk, all in her own words:

I know Heavenly Father hears my prayers.

Once, when my brother, Sammy, was at the hospital, I prayed that Heavenly Father would help him feel better.  I had a good feeling like Sammy would be okay, and he was okay!
Joseph Smith prayed to Heavenly Father that he would find the true church, and Heavenly Father and Jesus came and said none of the churches are true.
Angel Moroni came to Joseph Smith and told him about the gold plates.  He also told him where they were.  
Joseph Smith came to get the gold plates.  
Angel Moroni came back and said come back every year for four years, and when four years passed, Joseph was finally able to get the gold plates.  
He helped get back the true church by copying them into a different language.  This is called translating them.  
The Book of Mormon was on the gold plates.
I feel happy about that because I like to read the scriptures, and they make me feel happy.
If Joseph Smith hadn’t prayed, we wouldn’t have the true church.  

I pray every day.  I thank Heavenly Father for my family.  I know Heavenly Father hears my prayers.  
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.  

 I am proud of Eloise for sharing her faith this way.  You can learn more about the Book of Mormon here.