And together we learn

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Home again, home again

We're back!! We just spent a fabulous couple of days in the beautiful city of Chicago. I'm always reluctant to post while on vacation, because of the whole empty house thing. So now we're back and I can blog about it to my heart's content.

Steve had business there, so we did that for the first couple of days, then spent the rest of the time playing. Unfortunately, the one thing I forgot to bring on the trip was my camera, so no pictures. Oh well, there's always next time.

We stayed at the breathtaking Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago (don't you just adore Priceline???). The hotel was amazing and just blocks away from everything.

The hotel was built in 1871 as a wedding present, but burned down 6 days later in the great fire. They rebuilt, thankfully, and it was simply fabulous.

My little sister was with us for the first couple of days, and she got to go see Wicked, 6th row center. Happy, happy Steph.

I have an aunt who plays in the Chicago Symphony, so she took us to see a children's concert where they played Mussorgsky/Ravel's Pictures at an Exhibition. There were puppeteers telling the story from the music using Japanese Bunraku puppets. Amazingly enough, all of my children (including Calvin) were spellbound and good as gold. She gave us a CD of the music and my kids have listened to it over and over. Seeing the conductor deconstruct the music for them, then watching it with the puppets gave them a multi-faceted sort of appreciation for it, I think.

Then Steve took the kids swimming, and I went to the Art Institute for a Cezanne to Picasso exhibit. It was so incredible. I used the headset and soaked it in, all by myself. Aaaah. That was definitely a high point.

We went to my cousin's vocal jazz/swing concert that night, and again, amazingly, the kids sat through the entire thing. I think it helped that by that point Calvin was very very tired.

We played at Navy Pier and went on the Ferris Wheel (introduced at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893) and saw a 3D Imax movie about lions. So so fun.

And now my sleepy kids are happy to be in their own beds, and I'm trying to catch up on laundry and get back into the swing of normal life. It's funny, isn't it, what a narrow slice of life blogging presents. This trip was fabulous. It was wonderful family time, we saw great things and did a lot. But blogging can't possibly capture the entire picture, in the whole realistic grittiness of whines and overtired kids and restaurant escapades. It's so easy to just capture the perfect moments, and neglect to mention that Calvin screamed the entire way home from the airport, when he'd just plain had enough. So know that we had a fabulous, but very human time!

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Friday, April 27, 2007


Oooh, it's been many days since I've been here. We've been out gadding and gallivating and having a mahvelous time. I'll post all about it in a day, when I have my beloved laptop and internet back. Until then, have a great day!!

Sunday, April 22, 2007


So much to write! Yesterday was the BEST birthday of my life, without a doubt.

We had that glorious dinner on Friday night, then on Saturday Steve took me for a spa day. We got pedicures and facials together and it was so relaxing and indulgent. I'd never had either before, and I'm afraid I'm hooked. Aaaaaah. Spending two days in a row with him alone with no kids was such a treat. Coming home from the spa felt I felt so indulged and cherished and loved. We were going to play some games with my sisters after dinner and have a relaxing evening at home. Or so I thought.

The kids were over at my mom's, so we ran up to pick them up. We were all the way in the house and I saw this

and heard "SURPRISE!!!!!!!", and I realized that I have the best husband/mother/sisters/sister-in-law/friend ever. Family came. Friends came. My dear dear homeschool friends came. (Hi Carla and Tiff!)

Look at the kind of party my sisters and mom put together! The lighting here is terrible but I had to show the adorableness that was the paper lanterns.

And the cake??? My Andrea sister made this. She made the fondant. By herself. Can you believe the love here?? She stayed up until 3:30 in the morning making this cake.

This is five different kinds of fresh lemonade. Pink, mango, mint, strawberry, and plain. Because if one kind is good, 5 is much much better. Right, Drea?? We had grilled hot dogs and bratwurst, and since variety is much better, there were NINE different kinds of mustard! Nine kinds of mustard and five lemonades is a kickin good party, in my opinion.

These are gratuitous little girl pictures, because I just can't resist.

One of my favorite moments was the gift giving. I got 11 pairs of funky socks. This is hysterical to me because of this random tangent...

I have this estranged father. We see each other maybe once a year, and no one enjoys it. We see each other once a year out of obligation. It's a weird situation. But anyway, the other day I got a letter in the mail from them. Instantly my heart softened and I began mentally composing loving letters in response and planning a trip to go see them. Then I opened the letter.

A funky sock exchange chain letter!! As in, you make six copies of this letter and mail them to friends then mail two pairs of funky socks to the top two names on the list then you'll get 36 pairs of funky socks in the mail and DON'T BREAK THE CHAIN!!!!

Now this letter is just gold. As nice as a tender father/daughter familial reconciliation attempt would have been, this letter has given me so much glee. The sheer randomness is brilliant. You just can't make things like this up!

So anyway, my twisted family decided to shower me with funky socks, because yes, we are all snarky and snide like that.

But, can you tell that this has been the most overwhelmingly wonderful birthday of my life?? It makes turning 30 so very worthwhile. I'll turn 30 any old time, now!

Thank you, everyone. I love you all so much!!!!!

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Bliss on a fork

I feel so spoiled right now, and so loved. Tomorrow is my (gasp) 30th birthday, and my darlingest husband just took me to the nicest restaurant. --Caution--if gushing, exclamation marks, and superlatives offend, please skip to the next post.

Oh, it was so amazingly good!! And not in the heavy, rich, sit in your stomach kind of way. It was fresh, high-quality perfectly prepared food. The restaurant is way up the canyon, next to a little stream and in the middle of the trees. Talk about ambience! I'd love to see it in the summer when everything is green and gorgeous.

Now just to immortalize the deliciousness, here's what we had.

To start, Key West Jumbo Shrimp,
rice vermicelli salad, edamame,
coconut lemongrass nage

and Steamed Mediterranean Mussels,
sundried tomato-anchovy butter,
grilled bread

Entrees: Rocky Mountain Elk Chop,
saffron potato hash, whole roast shallots, porcini jus

and Bison Tenderloin,
gold potato puree, cambozola,
braised leeks, piperade

Dessert: Almond cake, lavendar tapioca, and rhubarb sorbet

Oh. My. Laws. I am a happy happy girl tonight.

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Jammin, jammin, strawberry jammin

Look what I did last night! My mom found strawberries for 4 dollars a flat. 4 dollars!!! That's 50 cents a pound--how could I not do jam at that price? So I took four flats of these...

and turned them into this...

Fortunately you can't see in the photo the strawberry juice covering every surface of my kitchen. Yikes! But it's worth it, because there are 28 containers of jam, 5 of strawberry syrup, and 7 qts frozen whole berries. So I'm exhausted, but very satisfied. Putting up food is one of the only household jobs with a lasting, tangible sense of satisfaction. Make a great meal--in 15 minutes it's just another mess. Laundry? Don't even get me started on the futility there. But jam? Tangible, beautiful evidence that I am actually doing something around here. And that's worth sore feet and sticky floors any day.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A post of pictures

Some long overdue photos from the past little while. First--look at what's in my backyard!!!! We got it set up last week, and the kids spend so. much. time. out there now. A friend of ours built it for us--the kids call him "Bob the Builder" now.

So I'm a week late! Here are our Easter photos.

And Chloe thinks she's the cutest thing in the world in her little dress from our Cancun trip.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

A perfect storm

Chloe can throw a tantrum with the best of them. When she throws them, she does it thoroughly. So when she was in the middle of a full-blown doozy at the store, I couldn't help but laugh at her verbalization.

"I AM SULKING!!!!!!!!!"

Oh yes, she was.

She screamed and shrieked and carried on (and honestly I can't remember the trigger--just tiredness). Finally once we were in the car, after more drama drama drama, I reached back and held her hand. INSTANTLY she was quiet. Just like that, the roaring stopped and she was peaceful.

In a chipper little voice she informed me that the reason she was crying was because she needed to hold my hand.

Why oh why can't I learn that a few gentle touches will quiet these storms much quicker than yelling and frustration? It happens every time, that her little sensitive self just needs some grown up intervention with love to help her control herself. I keep telling myself that next time I'll remember to react with love and patience first, rather than ultimatums and consequences. Dang it!! This motherhood thing will whip me into shape, one way or another.


Friday, April 13, 2007

One of the best books we've read yet

Nina, oh NEEEENNNAAA---have I got a book for you!!! The whole time we were reading it, besides being delighted beyond measure, I kept thinking about telling you about it. The book is Adele and Simon by Barbara McClintock. What an absolute amazing treasure of a book. The pictures, oh the pictures. I swoon. You simply must read the first review on the Amazon page, because she says it all so well. This one is going in my library for sure!


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Aaah, I've had my fix

If you listen carefully, you can hear my long sighs of relief to be typing this. The internet, THE INTERNET, PEOPLE, has been (gasp) down for 24 hours. My lifeline. My window to the adult world. Not THAT adult world. The mommy one. The one where I can connect with real people who make me feel like the wiping noses and singing goofy songs bit is actually very worthwhile.

So, I'm back online now, albeit crippledly so. The internet fixy guy who was here was saying things like, "router stuff stuff configure stuff stuff modem stuffety stuff." So the wireless is out until Steve the magnificent comes home to do the stuffety stuff stuff to it. Poor me, suffering with a desktop and no beloved laptop!

Internet woes aside, I have been feeling rotten lately. No energy. No motivation. Blah!! I let us get down to the very last diaper in the whole house, and was saved from a messy situation by wonderful Sarah. Thank you!! I did manage to get to the grocery store and redeem myself as a parent. During this whole no energy streak, I've let the whole meal thing fall very much to the wayside. Unfortunately, with Steve gone, I don't have much of a reason to really cook. My little people, while appreciative of good food, also are just as happy with Top Ramen or scrambled eggs. Why fight that?

So I ordered pizza for them the other night, and was greeted with a flurry of tears from Chloe who sobbed, "But I wanted bloccoli soup so much!" Way to heap on the guilt there, kiddo. (And no, that's not a typo. She is convinced the word is bloccoli.)

Much more to say, but I haven't done the dishes for way too many meals and I need to go use what little remaining energy I have to deal with that.


Monday, April 09, 2007

LIttle of this and that

I really had the best of intentions to get a great picture of my three in their Easter finery. That didn't happen so much. Maybe next week? We had a lovely Easter, despite the fact that Steve flew out mid-morning. At least we had him home for part of the weekend.

For the past few years, we've celebrated "Bunny Day" the day before Easter. We do the baskets, egg hunts, basically all the fun stuff attached to the holiday. That way, Sunday is able to be just about the Resurrection and the Savior, without Him having to compete with a rabbit. Also, we don't have to rush to fit in baskets before heading to church, and they aren't on a sugar high all day. It's worked wonderfully for us.

I've been working hard in my garden the past couple of days. I planted raspberries, a peach tree, blackberries, rhubarb, asparagus, lettuce, arugula, beets and two kinds of blueberries. I'm putting strawberries in a planter on my deck, because the mice eat every single berry in the garden. There are flats of darling little seedlings with heirloom tomatoes, peppers, basil, dill, lemon balm, and cilantro. I'm itching to get them in the ground, but spring is so fickle in the Rockies. Better to wait another couple of weeks.

The kids spend literally hours digging in the garden. It's wreaking havoc with some of the summer bulbs, but I think it's worth it to see them staring in wonder at the bugs and smelling the daffodils. Charlotte Mason would be so proud!

And that, my friends, is some of the random mish-mash that makes up our lives over here. Oh, and one more thing. What post would be complete without the random Calvin event of the day?

I went to make the girls peanut butter toast for breakfast. The peanut butter was up in the cupboard. So far, everything is completely normal, right?. I opened the jar, and was greeted with three colored hardboiled eggs, nestled in the peanut butter. How does the boy do it????? He's 19 months, and not very tall. Manual dexterity is not so great. So how on earth is he able to get three hardboiled Easter eggs into a jar of peanut butter in the cupboard? I don't know how he does it, but that kid is GOOD!


Friday, April 06, 2007

A place of his own

The boy was silent for a few minutes, and I couldn't see him anywhere. A bad sign. I went on a Calvin hunt, and this is where I found him.

Cozied up in the garbage can, munching contraband jelly beans.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

All the titles I can think of are saccreligious, so I won't go there.

Last night was Family Home Evening. We have a little lesson, sing some songs, eat some treats. All very fun and everyone loves it. So last night's lesson was about the life of Christ and the resurrection--you know, getting ready for Easter.

Our opening song was "Jesus is Risen". After we sang it, I asked Hazel if she knew what we were singing about.

"Ummm, Jesus has rhythm??"


Monday, April 02, 2007

Just five words

Every now and then, the kindness of strangers makes such a difference.

I had to get my van safety and emissions inspected and registered. I know, I'm a couple days late. Oops!!

So I got a chance to leave around 3 this afternoon. The girls were both so very sleepy--they both fell asleep in the car a few minutes before we got to the place and I had to wake them up to take them inside. So they were all tired and I was unprepared--no snacks or toys anywhere.

You know the feeling of being in an entirely silent waiting room, with only your kids making noise? Everyone else there is a grown up, and they all sit, watching. Talk about pressure! I was so proud of my little people. They played quietly, looking at baby magazines, and the baby sat on the chair and looked at trucks through the window.

I got the sticker and collected the kids. As we were leaving, one of the men who'd been watching us the whole time looked up at me and said, "Great kids. Good work, mom."

That was it. Just five words, but it was they hit me with such power. It was so validating of what I'm trying to do here, every day. Be a good mom, teach my kids right from wrong, and to love each other.

Now I'm not patting myself on the back here, honestly. That trip could have just as quickly been a complete catastrophe, heaven knows I'm in that position an awful lot!! But jsut for that one little moment, it felt so good to have the job that I pray so hard over, recognized. Such kind words that he didn't have to say, that he probably has no idea the kind of effect they had on me. Bless him.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

More photos and such

We had a great weekend with Steve home for a flying minute. He was home for 27 hours, and we spent it all together. Every six months we have a church wide General Conference where we forego traditional Sunday services for a chance to watch fabulous instruction in our jammies. Bliss! We snuggled up under the covers and had a great time as a family.

Sweet Hazel looked up at me a couple of times and told me that her heart was so happy because she was feeling the Spirit of Jesus. I love being a mom!

Steve was in Nauvoo, Il. the other day, and he brought back sunbonnets for the girls. They have been in heaven playing Laura and Mary.

And to keep things fair in the photo distribution of offspring, here are some of Calvin that melt me, especially the shy one!