$1.50 at DI

One of my greatest accomplishments for this week: buying tinker toys at the DI for $1.50. 



We sure are enjoying the Olympics over here. There has been a lot of figure skating (we need a break), and skiing, and watching the snowboarding was whoa! These people make it look oh so easy. Ollie and Ansel along with cousins and friends have made Olympic and country flags to parade down our street on skateboards, bikes, and scooters. The magic of the Olympics is something. And Korea is doing a great job with hosting. And that drone show during the Opening Ceremonies!?! Jess and I were like, “we are living in the future!”

When I see these people who have put so much time into something, it gives me the extra push I need to do something myself. Does the Olympics do that to you? 

And p.s., did you hear about the Cinderella Law that the Koreas put in place in 2011? It’s a law that restricts youth from gaming from midnight to 6am. Oh man! There is such a problem with gaming addiction that this is a law? And how do they enforce it? I worry a lot about the overuse of technology.  But to hear about this was shocking!


Counting the birds

We have a good friend in the neighborhood who is a legit birder. She goes on trips to watch and photograph birds. She's on the board of the Great Salt Lake Audobon chapter. She has several sets of binoculars and a scope. And she's one of the nicest people around. Recently, she's taken Ollie under her wing, along with a couple of other kids who like birds. As a result, Oliver has learned a bunch about birds. And so have I! Latest year we had the opportunity to go on the Christmas Bird Count activity. 

We counted birds in a specific area of Salt Lake County and then reported them to the group who will then report them to the chapter who then gives the numbers to the national organization and hopefully that gives us an idea of what the bird population is up to. We spend several hours in the cold and snow looking and counting birds.

We had the opportunity to spot several birds. Of course we saw California gulls and Canada geese by the hundreds, but we also saw a Kingfisher, a bald eagle, a red-tailed hawk, a Great blue falcon, a pie-billed Grebe, American coots, and many ducks including the pintail, the ruddy, the shoveler, the bufflehead, the golden eye (Common and Barrow), the green winged teal, the gadwall and this Hooded Merganser. This photo is courtesy of our friend. 

There was a dinner that evening with the Audobon chapter and it was really neat. Ollie and his two birding buddies were the only kids there. Oh, and Ansel. He didn't get to go on the count. And even though his attention span for looking at birds dwindles after 4 minutes, he couldn't bare to miss something that Oliver was doing and so he got to come. The kids' favorite part of the night was the sparkling cranberry juice and raffle. They each came home with prizes. 

I stink at recalling the birds.  I can spot a moving, flying creature from very far away (thank you contacts!), but my best guesses always tend to be wrong. Still, I try. And truth be told, I was reading the bird guide Ansel received at the raffle the other day, and hopefully someday in the future I can point and say, "hey, there's a Clark's Grebe!" And be right. 


And he’s five

Ansel is five and I just can’t believe it! This kid was so excited for his birthday. He counted down the days. 

It sure is fun to have a kid whose birthday is in February because it brings lots of excitement to the month. Poor Ollie’s Birthday is in May, Jess’s is in June, and Ian’s in August; we usually have so much stuff going on around those times I scarcely have time to make a cake. But February. This is the month to be born. It’s like March. It’s great to be born on a month when hardly anything is going on. Sorry Valentine’s and St Patrick’s Day.

Ansel asked for three things for his birthday: gum, a Hot Wheels car, and a birthday party. We have a rule around this household that birthday parties start at age six. I told him this. And he kept asking me. And one night I was telling Jess and he was like, “just throw the kid a party.” I relented. I can’t believe I did. 

Soon Ansel was sorting out the list of invitees, calling them invitations, and storing them in the bullion envelope from the Ramen he had for lunch.

After explaing that an invitation has to contain more information than solely a name, we made real invitations and handed them out on a walk one afternoon. 

Then came the day of the party. There was a ninja theme and the kids were eating it up. Thankfully they are all masked for this shot so I feel like I can include it. 

The best part was the piƱata. It was mayhem, but good mayhem.  At one point the head of the bull fell right off leaving the body full of candy. So I tied the thing back up and the kids had a heck of a time making it burst. It was even better than all the ninja activities I’d planned out. 

The whole thing ended up being a good time. Fortunately, I’m slowing getting the hang of hosting without feeling stressed. Baby steps people but steps nonetheless.

Happy birthday to this kid. I love him lots and lots. 


Author’s gold

When I was in 3rd grade I read the book MATILDA in two days. This was rare for me. I didn’t read a lot as a kid. I’m not sure why I didn’t read a lot, but I think it was because I felt like I had a lot of better things to do. This wasn’t the case with MATILDA. I didn’t want to do anything else but read. 

Now my kids, they actually love to read, but I find that some of the books they’ve ended up thoroughly liking resulted from wetting their whistle and reading it to them at night. Thanks to Jess for this. Once they catch the fire they can really get into a book (Ansel’s interest is a lot higher if pictures are involved). They can’t wait to read or listen to it. When they’re done, it leaves us asking, “Are there more books in this series?” Or “has this author written a thing else?”

A few authors we love around here include:
Roald Dahl
Jeff Kinney
C.S. Lewis
Lemony Snicket

Any additional authors or books you’d recommend?


Film prep

The family film fest is soon upon us and so our little family ventured out for a day to film. We had a great time plus a little bit of, “I didn’t realize this was going to be so hard” or “take so long.”  But we did it and it’s always worth it. I love looking back at our previous years’ films. Here are some photos of our day:

Here’s to hoping all the editing goes smoothly and we’ve got a film for the books.

And for records’ sake, here’s the list of Theodore films starting back when the film fest was young. Maybe I’ll come back later and write descriptions of each. 
2005: x-treme walking
2006: a day in the lifes 
2007: operation x-treme
2008: recruiting season 
2009: top gear
2010: district delectables
2011: hand dance ii 
2012: faux-reign language 
2013: the actor
2014: corner of the house
2015: the actors (sequel to the actor)
2016: signs that you’re getting older
and the ten year celebration montage
2017: you coughed in my face
2018: ok go theodore style

15 films! Woot woot! A big shout out to Jess for being my partner in writing and directing these gems. And thanks to my kids for being willing and patient while we discuss and prepare and film. And thanks to the academy. Ha! I kid. 


Grocery list

Z bars
Gee (scribbled out and corrected on the next line)
Chocolate chip

Thanks Ansel for helping me out with the grocery list. 


Hello 2018

It’s January 2018. Love it! Especially with this kind of stuff going on. 

Usually January can be a little cold and dreery for me. But this year we’ve got a warm fireplace + good music + dinner at 6pm instead of 5:30, and it’s seems to make all the difference.

But before I get to January, I have to mention what a great Christmas we had. All of us, except Jess, experienced some virus during the break, but overall we had a wonderful time. My pics of Christmas morning were very few. But I did get this one. Look at Ian’s face! Happiness. 

This next shot is of Jess explaining that he got something from a well-dressed ninja. Look closely at the box. Jess was (and is) my comic relief on Christmas (and in life). The guy is hilarious. 

We had a wonderful Christmas Eve eve breakfast and sock exchange that I don’t have any photos of. But it was a great time indeed. 

Then it was off to Monterey, California with Jess’ family. We had such a fun time! We stopped at the wharf and saw thousands of jelly fish. 

We visited the candy shops and I had to have a caramel apple (thanks to those that made it happen!). Jess and I visited Monterey on our honeymoon and had caramel apples then, so this time it was a must. And here’s a photo from the archive to prove it. 

We walked along the beach and spotted cormorants and egrets, sea lions, and seals (I think). We maybe saw a whale and sea otters.

We definitely saw more wildlife at the Monterey Bay aquarium. The place was packed but so very well planned out.  We even saw an albatross (being wheeled around) and tried very hard (picture the whole arm of Oliver’s sweatshirt wet) to touch a manta ray. 

During our snack time out on the balcony at the aquarium we witnessed a marriage proposal. Boom! Plus, Ansel was very clever when it came to getting comfortable using the telescopes. 

Visiting the Carmel Mission was awesome too. Jess’ Dad knows a lot about all things mission related, so it was neat to go with him as he gave us the inside scoop. If you ever find yourself in California, I would suggest visiting a mission (there are many).  Plus, they are great places for kids to see and walk around. 

And the churches are splendid.

We had a chance to go on the 17 mile drive. This drive goes along Pebble Beach and has some of thee most stunning views. I was loving it! Beautiful spot. And yes, Ansel got wet here and ended up using socks as shoes for the rest of the day. When you travel with no checked bags, one pair of shoes is how you travel. He did not care one bit. 

Look at these views!

And the cypress trees were serene and tough at the same time. These trees live for hundreds of years. 

We stayed at the Naval Post Graduate school and that was a treat in and of itself. The building has so much history and the grounds are awesome.

The granduer. I loved the ceilings!

We also visited Pacific Grove, which is apparently known as Butterfly Town USA, and tried to find the wintering monarchs there. We finally found some but it took some sleuthing and a very kind lady who pointed them out to us. So really our sluething was useless. 

Carmel was another gorgeous place. And I don’t use the word gorgeous very often. Stopping by the beach was such a treat. The boys dipped their toes in and I enjoyed the breeze. It was perfect there that day.

Ansel took a few photos. One of which included this one. 

The trip was superb and a great way to spend the end of 2017 and the beginning of the new year. I’m ready to go again!


Christmas Eve

With a sign by Ansel and an United States cookie with the name S. Claus on it as dictated by Ollie, our fireplace is ready for Santa's arrival. Our discussion while preparing this spread included these gems:

Oliver: How many carrots should we put out for nine reindeer?

Ansel: Let's only put out two cookies for Santa. 
Oliver: How about eight?
Me: How about we compromise and put out four?

Ansel: I want Santa to see my cotton ball Santa beard!
Me: Put it by the fireplace for him to see it!

And as we are going to bed,
Oliver: What about a glass of milk?
And with that Ollie poured a glass and placed it next to the cookies and the kids were off to bed. 

And Ian, well, he was dreaming of sugar plums while this all went down. But here he is enjoying the snow in an oversized coat. 

Merry Christmas everyone!


May your days be Merry and Bright

These days I find myself exhausted by the day by day. But it's a good exhausted and I love seeing my eight year old come up with original riddles, my four year old run to get the mail, and my one year old walk fast with his arms trailing behind him. 

My days are merry and bright as we fill the house with Christmas music and twinkling lights and smells of delicious stuff.  But it's also good when I fold the laundry and take out the trash and sweep the floor.  The day by day is a blessing and I'm sincerely grateful for it.