Sunday, April 27, 2014

Wherein I Pranked the Sunbeams

Mostly I want to tell you about my winner of a Sunbeam lesson today. But I'll probably work around to other stuff too - you know how that goes. Anyways, today I finally incorporated the gross cookie object lesson! I pretty much always want to incorporate a gross cookie/good cookie juxtaposition into my lessons but today's topic was keeping the Sabbath holy and I felt like I could really play it up with this topic.

First I fanned a bunch of food pictures in my hands for the kids to draw and show the class and talk about how delicious these foods are. Blueberries, cheese, pretzels, and ketchup on fries.
Me, as I pull out a covered plate: So do you love all those delicious foods?
Salivating, giddy 3-year olds: YES! We love them!
Me: Good, because I made you cookies with those very ingredients!
Yep, that is a ketchup-blueberry-pretzel-mozzerella cookie. Barf.
You should have seen their faces! One who had bounced up when I pulled out the plate collapsed back into his chair with an audible "humph" he was so deflated. Of course, a cookie is a cookie and 3-year old a 3-year-old so they all tried a taste. But they were definitely relieved to see a second plate, this time with legit chocolate chip cookies.

The lesson was that some foods are great but in cookies, not so much. Just like how some activities are great during the week but on Sunday, not so much. BAM! Then after a short video on the principle (Jon Bytheway, found here) I had them make a list of activities they do during the week versus activities that were good for the Sabbath, one list being on the side under the pictures of the ketchup, cheese, etc, and the other listed under pictures of chocolate chips, sugar, butter - good cookie ingredients. I think they got the idea.

Of course I did have to field several questions about when they were getting another cookie. Also, one girl actually preferred the ketchup cookie to the normal one - she downed an entire gross ketchup cookie. I couldn't even watch her eat it without gagging but she did! There's always one... :) Overall, it was still a very successful lesson I think.

I love my Sunbeams - they are good for my soul and I will really miss them when we move.

I write this during another spring thunderstorm and I love the rain pounding down and occasional thunder clap. I am so grateful for spring! I remember a Prairie Home Companion where Garrison Keillor said something like, "In the heart of every true Minnesotan is the hope for just one more snow storm." Don confirmed this as factual. ish. Well, I guess I'm not there yet - I am over the moon with this warmer weather (though 37 degrees is not exactly tropical). But I will say I like Minnesota. I have never lived anywhere with such a sense of community.

Have you seen New in Town? "We talk funny and we ice-fish and we scrapbook and we drag Jesus into regular conversation..."

Uh...kinda? But what's not to love? St. Paul also has this really great blend of cultures going on that makes me feel super modern, actually.

Plus I have the best roommates!
 Except when they are the worst. Seriously, it has been tantrum central this week. Maybe from a lack of naps? We were busy doing important things. Picnicing, zoo, library, conservatory, bath paint, fro-yo, FROZEN about four times...who has time for naps?
Riley has picked up this trick from Frozen where when anyone does anything she doesn't want them to do, she will fling her palms out at you and say "STOP! DON'T COME ANY CLOSER!" It is super endearing. No not really. Joe likewise runs for his gloves when he sees Elsa and hers. 
*PSA on those lunch boxes the kids have in bottom left corner: they are the handiest thing! I love that they can see the portion sized out properly and that I can just pop off the lids when we are out and let them do the rest. So much easier than opening a bunch of baggies that are then thrown away. And the kiddies love having a little more autonomy. yo!

And finally - a big shout out to my man Dave, who took the kids to the park and lunch while I shopped alone, ate alone, and blew no one's nose but my very own! While they were off hunting for the tallest slide in St. Paul (they found it - it is ridiculous and pre-dates modern safety standards I believe), I was able to end the awful hell that is swim suit shopping! I am happy to report my new suit meets both criteria of A) being colorful and happy and B) covers the whole of the butt cheek. Seriously - why is that so hard to find! Why is it so fashionable for suits to cut well above the fanny line?? Exactly how many women want that area exposed in the broad light of day!!! 

Okay rant over. If you are on the hunt as well, here's what works for me: bottoms and top, which is not my exact one but similar.

Right-o then. Off to bed. May April showers sing you to your rest...
That was for you old-school Dr. Doolittle fans out there. Em, I'm looking at you.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Weekend 2014

What a gorgeous, brilliant day of a Monday! I woke this morning to hear rain falling heavily on the roof. It was 5am (thanks, Joe) so I was able to nurse the little guy and then doze back to sleep to the sounds of rain drumming and birds chirping as the grey light filtered in. By 10 the clouds had broken and scuttled away so we went to the park. For 3 1/2 hours. It was just too nice out to leave! We met up with friends there and played and picnic'd and rocked on a swinging bench under the trees till the babies were exhausted and slightly pink from the sun, then headed home for long naps. Which is glorious cause this mama's got stuff to do! Like Easter weekend recapping! Of course it involves a lot of pictures, so prepare to be overwhelmed. Or underwhelmed perhaps, now I've built it up. Never mind: prepare to be whelmed.

Okay first of all, Riley developed croup on Friday after coming down with a cold this week. We tried a humidifier and Vicks and soothing cough suckers, but it was so sad to hear her cough and cry through the night that I ended up taking her to a doctor anyways. Despite her vehement protests. I told Dave over the phone that I was taking her to the "d-o-c-t-o-r-s" and she heard that and said, "NO I DON'T WANT TO GO TO THE D-O-C-T...S" all slurred like. She was even less pleased to get a steroid shot but at least she was able to finally get a good nights rest.
Saturday she was a much happier camper so we got to go to a community Easter egg hunt, which turned out to be the event of the season. Thousands of eggs scattered over fields that were roped off for different age groups to keep things fair. It was cold and windy but the excitement was louder than chattering teeth. Joe was especially enthralled - kept trying to jump the gun, little stinker.

Afterwards they gave out baskets with toys and goodies and the kids lined up and met the Easter bunny. Joe would have none of it. Riley would have almost none of it.
She wouldn't look at, talk to, or sit with them, but consented to stand in the vicinity for a photo. Ha!
A lot of our church family were there also.
On our way out we came across a real bunny - magic! bunny rockstar! - and a gigantic slide which the babies had to go down at least ten times before they let us drag them away to Sonic. There are about two Sonics in MN so we get a little excited about going. Mozerella sticks! Mmm... Funny how back in UT our fast food excitement was about Dairy Queen. We actually had a Dairy Queen budget...yeah. Here in MN there are DQ's on practically every corner and guess how many times we have been? Zero!
Oh the frailty of men...

Saturday night: egg dying. We received a Japanese egg dying kit from the egg hunt people. It had everything you needed to turn your eggs into ninjas, as well as a 3-D pagoda for them to party in. It was weird and Dave loved it.

Easter morning came all too early at 6am. Especially after we stayed up till almost 2, Dave doing homework and me working on my Sunday school lesson, making deviled eggs, and crafting bow ties loosely based on pictures from the internet.
I asked Dave why I always left things till the last minute and he brightly said, "Because then it only takes a minute!" He is terribly wise, my husband.  Anyways, we opted to lounge on the couch watching them paw through their baskets instead of doing another egg hunt. Meh, no one complained.
Baskets had new church shoes and sippy cups, hair bows/ bow ties, and candy. They also got new church clothes. Yet the Easter grass was the biggest hit. Frailty!
Joe felt as dandy as he looked. He has been using one of Riley's headbands as a bow tie for weeks. Let no one say I can't take a hint! He loves the real deal!
After one or two pictures Joe took my camera and I just let him. I don't know, because it's Easter and I was feeling magnanimous. I like my phone's camera anyways and playing with the different picture filters and editing features. Here are a few "we-are-late-but-I-want-Easter-outfit-pictures-dang-it!" pictures:

Church was awesome - lots of beautiful testimonies and musical numbers. We sang one of my favorites: I Believe in Christ.
 "...He is the source of truth and light.
I believe in Christ; he ransoms me.
From Satan's grasp he sets me free..."
 Beautiful. Always makes me feel warm inside. My Sunbeam class was a little insane because presumably they had been eating baskets of sugar since dawn. They definitely know now that a tomb is made out of stone - that bit was of particular interest for some reason - but beyond was a very rowdy class.

Back at home, I threw together this dessert to take to our friends for dinner:

Oreos covered in chocolate covered in sprinkles are a bit ridiculous but sooo good. I was pretty pleased with the strawberries too. I hear Ritz crackers and peanut butter crackers covered in chocolate are good too. Note to self.

Dinner was amazing. Really delicious, and the seven babies either slept or entertained one another nicely for over two hours! They didn't eat much but we did and we had peace and quiet to eat and chat with fellow was something of an Easter miracle.
You'd think they had never seen a cat before. This was right before they started feeding spoons and things out the letter box for him.
Our hosts had an Easter symbols activity for us in between dinner and dessert where we read scriptures and shared our thoughts about the meanings behind it all. It put the evening right off the charts as far as Easter evenings go. It was the perfect end to the day - might need to adopt that into our own Easter traditions.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Weekend with our peeps

Was your weekend amazing? Ours was amazing. Friday was ridiculously warm and lovely - we strolled the zoo with friends and picnic'd by the lion enclosure, before making our way over to the adjoining playground. Nap insurance, if you will. Plus I just didn't want to go indoors, it was that nice out.
Another typical shot of Riley leaning into the wind as she dashes from one activity to another. It is metaphorical. Notice the dress - Mom made it for her and Riley LOVES it. It took me the longest time to figure out what she wanted to wear today because she kept requesting her "princess dress" and I had no idea which dress she meant.
Then we drove home where I put the comatose babes down for naps and packed up the car. We were getting out of Dodge!
Bu-bye beautiful city!
 Don and Jake were in town so we met up with them and Chris and cousin Jimmy in Rochester. We had such a fun weekend - Joe was all smiles everywhere we went, and Riley was beside herself, trying to keep everyone engaged in playing with her the whole time. Don grilled steak and then we had s'mores and campfire fun. No one toppled into the fire or launched flaming mallows into anyone's face. Really it was an uncharacteristically relaxed, happy, and injury-free evening.


Oh,  but Riley was not impressed with s'mores - "It's messy, Mom, I don't yike it!" Joe couldn't get enough.

I still don't know exactly what was going on here. Feats of strength, perhaps.
Joe was conscientiously mimicking the "big boys" the whole time, especially Grandpa. You can tell he really looks up to them - I'm glad he's got some good role models.
Then it was baths and sleepover time. Before when we stayed in Rochester we put Riley in bed with me and Joe on the baby mattress, but this time they both wanted to sleep on the baby bed. They were so excited!
An hour after bed time:
By morning Joe was sleeping on the floor and they were really ready to take a nap later. Joe was especially ornery - he kept picking fights at the mall playplace that morning and he actually had one kid on the run right out of the gate! It was weird to be the mother of the bully - he usually is pretty friendly. We didn't stay long. Don took us to the babies happy place for lunch (McDonald's. obviously.)

Later that night we said our goodbyes and headed back to St. Paul, Riley and Joe serenading us for most of the drive. Sunday we went to church and heard some really great testimonies and I won my class over by bringing rice crispy treat balls for them to turn into "bugs" using raisins and pretzels and chocolate chips and m&ms. I love teaching the three-year-olds - they seriously are so much fun. REALLY keep me on my toes though - I always prepare about twenty activities for my hour-long lesson to keep things moving and keep them busy.  I thought I would miss out on the spiritual lessons I used to listen to in the adult classes, but turns out the spirit can be just as strong when you are testifying that Jesus created the birds and the bugs so our world would be a better place for us, because he loves us, as it is when you are getting more advanced lessons in the adult classes. My students are so sweet and their eyes light up when we are having a spiritual discussion.

Dave is not my co-teacher anymore. He was poached by the Elder's Quorum and is now the second counselor in the presidency. But my new co-teacher is awesome too - she has been a member for about a year and has lots of good insights and the kids love her.

Welllllll what's that I hear? My pillow? Calling my name? G'night!

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Ah she cracks me up. At dinner tonight she noticed Dave picking tomatoes out of his dinner and setting them to the side. She climbed onto his lap and twined her arms around his neck and said, "Daddy, if you eat all your dinner, you get a cookie." I snorted water through my nose.

Now allow me to share some songs with you that made my day. Click HERE for awesome music (Stuck On You, Something I Need, Better Than a Hallelujah, and Man in the Mirror)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Feeling Springy

Spring has sprung. Then it fell over, and sprang again. Kiiiind of like a toddler, come to think of it. Seriously though: Here's the past 8 days. 

Torrential rain followed by puddle jumping.
Followed by a library day because...
Oh, just the view from the library window on April 4th.
As soon as Daddy got home Riley asked, "Do you wanna build a snowman?" Yes the Frozen madness has struck this home as well. Good thing too - it was the best snow for snowmen we have had all season and it was warm enough to play for a while. Our neighbors joined us after the first two so we had to do one more. By 'we' I mean Dave. He is so awesome.
The babies were so exhausted they piled on the beanbag with me and were out, not 5 minutes into scripture reading. It was heavenly - all the warm-fuzzies of co-sleeping without the kicks in the ribs or pee in my bed, just cuddly, sleeping babies that were then tucked into their own beds.

The next day melted the snow family considerably, which made Riley really sad every time she looked out the window. Then we made a game of destroying them, but Riley still mourns them sometimes. "I crushed my snowman!"

April 5th and 6th we had General Conference. We had brunch, we had notebooks and pens, and we had a bag of dollar store toys to be doled out through the eight hours worth of talks that took place in two days. It went really well. The bouncy balls were probably the biggest hit. The talks weren't bad either. Chuckle.

 I heard just what I needed to hear to give me a little more courage, and have a little more faith in the Atonement. Conference thoughts have me reading "Jesus the Christ" again and wanting to share the gospel more because it really has been everything in our family. Pres. Packer said in his talk, "The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is that a man and his wife and their children can be happy at home," and that certainly applies to our situation.

Furthermore...ahem, I have to say, Conference naps are the most delicious naps. I look forward to catching up on the talks I missed via the old ipod - it makes for pretty inspirational walking soundtrack material.

Monday continued warming - we went to toddler time at the gym but ended up on the playground out back because it was so nice.
Nothing to do with spring, just Riley finding new uses for her bouncy balls.
Tuesday was deceptively sunny but cold and windy. Here we are huddled in the play structure for our picnic lunch. It blocked the wind. Sorta.
And today it hit 70! Not when this picture was taken, but later.
It is now too late for a clever, thoughtful ending. I love you all and wish you endless summer sunshine.
Thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Let the outdoorsing commence.

It's spring! It's snowing at the moment, but we did get out for our first walk in about five months yesterday!  
Ten minutes of shuffling later...we had cocoa and grilled cheese for lunch. All better!

I guess it is still a bit nippy. What can I say - I have been seduced by the the sunshine and the birds in the trees. Temperature be darned.

Last weekend we ventured to, "The Minneapolis Sculpture of the crown jewels of the city’s park system, uniting two of Minnesota’s most cherished resources—its green space and its cultural life." (I took that line from their website because it kinda cracked me up.) Turns out, the "crown jewel" really was quite impressive.
How's that for a backdrop??
After exploring all over the grounds and conservatory we had a picnic and then I said we should go back to the cherry on the spoon and get someone to take a family picture, since that never happens. And wouldn't you know it,  Joe stepped out on the semi-frozen reflecting pool and fell through for a second. I jumped in and hauled him out, with only one minor expletive! We stripped his wet clothes off, bundled him in my coat (luckily I layered) and that was that.
It was memorable, that's for sure. 

I love my gang. I couldn't ask for better adventurers to travel through life with.

OOOH - I had an amazing birthday last week too! Thanks to all who remembered with cards and gifts and phone calls and what have you - I felt totally loved. Dave got me gorgeous flowers and thoughtful gifts and we ate out. And I have had several "treat yo' self" days with the b-day dough and let me tell you - one of those included a movie, jamba, and new converses all before nap time and I felt like a kid playing hookie. I didn't know I would still need hookie days at 29, but now have a strong suspicion I will still be taking them at 99 too.