Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A quiet moment for a friend

On my mind is the passing of a good family friend, and the poem, Crossing the Bar. Bits have been running through my head today, especially the bit about the tide going back out, turning again home. Paul did and was so much good that it is easy to envision him turning again home. I know he will fit so well there. Prayers for his wife and family - he will be incredibly missed.

Crossing the Bar

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Sunset and evening star,
      And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
      When I put out to sea,

   But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
      Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
      Turns again home.

   Twilight and evening bell,
      And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
      When I embark;

   For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
      The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
      When I have crost the bar. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mom and Dad!

Today is something of a holiday in our family - double birthdays, for two extra special people.

Next year, I get the harmonica and Riley is carrying the vocals! We'll see...

Anyways, we hope you have a wonderful birthday and know how much you mean to a lot of people. You are really a great force for good in this family/community/world and gosh, I just look up to you and love you very very much.

Monday, February 17, 2014

MN Children's Museum for the Win

Last weekend we got to do something that everyone has been telling us to do since day one - we visited the Minnesota Children's Museum. The name doesn't do it justice; it is more of an interactive theme park than a museum. It's huge, it has tons of different rooms and exhibits and heck, the teller at the bank today said he goes with his wife every now and then and they don't even have kids. It is an interesting place for all involved.

 Joe the ant, Riley the turtle. Dave and Christian the...Native Americans? The "official RV of Native Americans" made up a curiously large part of the Native American exhibit. We knew not what to make of this.

Riley at the face painting station

Fun with light:
Joe scurried from one water table to the next like a mad scientist who was having the best day of his life. Those other guys were also excited. Way down deep. Oh and what's with that lady braiding Chris's hair? 
How about those windows?
As luck would have it, the museum is around the corner from Mickey's Dining Car. We were all starving after our fun afternoon so there was only one sensible thing to do.

We ate.
Oh, just a lil' diner I have been dying to visit ever since we moved here. Dave forgot he was wearing Riley's hat on his hat till we were half way through dinner hahaha.

 Nummy num! Shakes. Burgers. Fries. Creamer packets that explode across the aisle when Joe bites them. Umm...may I just say parenting is a very active sport. And a contact one at that. I got side-tackled while I was nursing Joe today and uh, it was a little touch and go there for a while.

When we left the restaurant, there were church bells crashing in the church next door, completing the experience. Maybe it's my love of Dickens, but I do love church bells. I wonder why we don't have any in our churches, you know? Maybe because if we did, and they all went off when time for church, no one in UT valley would ever enjoy a Sunday nap. And people would probably go deaf.
I should probably title this post "Dave walking away." Or perhaps, "Pictures of a cute behind."
Joe returns to escort me across the square.
The End.
It was a good adventure. I must admit, those babies are much more adventurous than I. When we ended up having to walk almost a mile in the snow to get the the museum, I was sorta wrathful. On the other hand, the babies are all like, "Chill, Mom. Let's kick some snowdrifts." They are much more "Joy is in the journey," like their dad. But it was a very memorable day and everyone had a good time.

And we are glad we got to spend it with Christian. Send him army crawling after Joe through an ant tunnel maze that smells like people feet...let him pack around the diaper bag...you know, "good uncle stuff." He came for the weekend to babysit for us, because he can now that he has had arm surgery and can't work for a while, so he has some time off and Riley and Joe were so happy chasing him around all weekend. Thanks for visiting, Chris! And THANKS for cleaning around the house while we were gone - that was really nice to come home to! You got class.

Theeen it was Monday and we had our neighbor friend over all day, who Riley and Joe adore. Here they are eating Kugel, a Jewish dish his mom brought for us to have at lunch and it was delicious. Riley and Joe and their friend played together and ate together and were exhausted by the end so that bed time was a cinch.

And that is a good way to end and start a week.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentines Day and Photo Dump

*Warning: pictures in this post do not relate whatsoever to the content.

Did you know the movie "Valentines Day" is responsible for our marriage and consequent two children? Okay that might be an overstatement, but it was on a date to see that movie that Dave had the epiphany he wanted to marry me. Or was it at the seven eleven Slurpees, or the long-boarding down Provo canyon that same night, where we eventually got engaged? Apparently it was a special date for me too, because I don't remember what I had for breakfast, so recalling the details of a date four years ago is rather significant. Anyway, that cheesy movie has a special place in my heart. Critics be darned.
I had the soundtrack playing this very night while Riley and I made our traditional shortbread cookie hearts, and one shortbread liver. The liver because one of my favorite teachers, who is an octogenarian and a millionaire to boot,  told us that he got his wife a liver when they were first married to make the point that, while the heart serves a vital function, the liver serves multiple vital functions and...I guess she served multiple vital functions? Haha and that is what I remember from Athletic Training 101. Dave and I were dating at that time and he was helping me with the cookie-making (tradition!) and a liver seemed like a good use of all those scraps of cookie dough, so there you go.
I love Valentines Day. Last year we had a toddler party and that was a blast. This year it will be quieter but I have been feeling the love for weeks. I have my face grabbed continually by chubby hands to bring my nose in for eskimo kisses (it's all the rage in this house). I saw Riley squeeze her eyes shut and clutch a love-note from Dave to her chest, so treasured because she has wanted one ever since she found one of mine in a locket. It is written on the same type of paper and in the same handwriting, so I don't think it matters that she can't actually read the,"You are beautiful," and "I love you" on it. I saw her tuck it in a jewelry box before she climbed into bed. Then Dave got home with flowers and chocolate for me. Life is good.
Oh yeah, and I got totally outclassed at the grocery store the other day - a couple insisted on paying for my groceries, saying that they remembered when their kids were babies and that they know what its like. They were very determined, even though I totally meant it when I said that the thought alone warmed my heart, or something to that effect, and they didn't need to get our bill. It was a really sweet experience, having strangers reach out and lift us and talk and connect when, come on, I don't usually even make eye contact with strangers in line. And yet I felt love from them, and felt inspired to do that with others. I can't buy everyone's groceries, but I can look for the good in strangers, I can make eye-contact, smile, have a conversation, empathize and make a connection.
That smacks of a resolution. Valentines Day Resolutions. I could get on board with that.

**Complementary chick-flick endorsement: For my fellow Jane Austen fans out there, if you are looking for a light-hearted romantic comedy for this weekend, I would recommend Austenland. I redboxed it for nap time and laughed out loud, by myself, waking Riley at one point. I mean, there is a gay Kernal Fitz William character, which makes some kind of sense and, well, I should hold back on the spoilers but I really enjoyed it. Make haste!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Babies that play together and Chinese for dinner

 Is it summer yet?

Yesterday Riley was doing a timeout on the couch and I was in the kitchen when I heard her wail, "Joe! I need hugs! I need hugs, Joe!" I peeked around the corner in time to see Joe trot on over and wrap his arms around here. 'Bout near cried myself, actually. I felt kind of like a meanie but really glad they have each other's backs.

I have some pretty awesome siblings and siblings-in law myself. We don't see them often but we stay connected via phone and internet and I just love you guys. And having people to share the stresses and joys of life with, you can't put a price on that.

And that is what I am thinking about today. I do have pictures too, from the past few weeks. Excuse the delay - winter isn't good for writing and creative juices and such, and now that I am caring for three babies during the day, mostly I go to bed early and exhausted (pleasantly). But here is what we have been up to:

Making cookies. About three times a week, I kid you not.
They both needed a nap. Next to the cookie dough. And suddenly, oh no, how did this beater fall in my clinched fist?!

Washing dishes:
Visiting Choo Choo Bob's train store:
Impromptu stage performances:
 Playing in the snow after dinner (when Dad gets home):
 Drinking hot cocoa. So much cocoa...:
 Having friends over:
Riley's older, cooler friend (who is three :)
The road we taped onto the kitchen floor.
 Bed time shinanigans:
Sometimes you want to sleep in Elmo pants and a tutu. And we do what we want.
 Today I bravely hauled the three of them to toddler time at the Rec center (such a good community resource - it is free and most rec centers have gym hours a couple times a week and put out toys and everyone burns off energy and swaps colds - it's great). Let me tell you, though - having to park a block away and it is zero degrees outside and all three babies insist on being carried and two of them missed their morning nap...I don't know if it is an adventure worth having. If I ever leave the house with them again, I will be sure and take a carrier so at least I could feasibly carry them all at the same time.

Here is good news - Dave was one of seven people selected to attend a competition in Arkansas next month. He's all like, "It's not that big a deal," But I am still so proud of him.

It is about that time when I realize I don't have dinner planned and it is time to figure out what I can make that everyone will eat and has some nutritional value...my favorite part of the day. I kid. Um, well here are some recipes from the other day that fit the criteria and I loved it because it was pretty easy and used things I had on hand. And I am going to share in case you face a similar dilemma. You are welcome.

Fried Rice: recipe adapted from here
  • 2.5 cups cooked brown rice *
  • 2 Tbs sesame oil
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 1-2 small carrots, diced
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce (more or less to taste)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp chopped green onions (optional)
  1. Preheat a large skillet or wok to medium heat. Pour sesame oil in the bottom. Add white onion and peas and carrots and fry until tender.
  2. Slide the onion, peas and carrots to the side, and pour the beaten eggs onto the other side. Using a spatula, scramble the eggs. Once cooked, mix the eggs with the vegetable mix.
  3. Add the rice to the veggie and egg mixture. Pour the soy sauce on top. Stir and fry the rice and veggie mixture until heated through and combined. Add chopped green onions if desired.
* Or whatever amount is made from one cup uncooked rice. I cooked mine using chicken stock in stead of water, and made it in the morning. Day-old rice is even better for fried rice, they say, but it is fine to use a fresh batch too.

Sweet and Sour Chicken: recipe adapted from here
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 T ketchup
  • 1 T white vinegar
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 t low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 t garlic salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.
  2. In separate bowls, place cornstarch and slightly beaten eggs. Dip chicken into cornstarch then coat in egg mixture.
  3. Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken until browned. Place the chicken in a 8 x 8 greased baking dish.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, combine sugar, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic salt. Pour over chicken and bake for 1 hour.
  5. Stir the chicken every 15 minutes so that it is coated in the sauce.