Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thanks, Junie B!

I have (since I can remember) LOVED to read. I do think most of my family also likes to read, so maybe that's where it came from, but for me, reading can be an escape to a different world that can be visited as often as you like. I remember getting The Chronicles of Narnia in 5th grade and just diving into it. I remember loving Aslan the lion, and shedding tears when he died. I remember reading about the Boxcar children, the Mouse and the Motorcyle, and Judy Blume. And I (for about one semester) was an English major and HAD to read books for homework. And now I don't have quite as much time as I'd like to read, but I try to make time for it. (I really ought to watch less TV and have less computer time!)

And so I was pretty excited when Eva started to learn to read in Kindergarten. And she was more advanced in her class in reading, so she caught on quickly. But then in 1st grade she was not doing as well in comprehending what she was reading as she was in reading fluently. And she was very defensive about it, too. When I'd try to nonchalantly ask her questions about what she was reading (what the reading specialist had suggested), she'd shut down and refuse to discuss it. So this summer we just spent a lot of time reading together out loud--it was great! Both Oliver and Eva loved it! We read several of Roald Dahl's books, and had so much fun. Plus they also worked hard to earn the library's reward for their summer reading program, and listened to a lot of books on tape/cd. And now....she is doing so well with reading! Her teacher says she's doing fine with comprehension, and I can tell a difference because she tells us what she's reading about. The other day we went to the library (which hasn't happened as much since school started), and Eva picked out an "Ivy and Bean" book, and I had mine and we cozied up together on some chairs. Then....she devoured that book! Finished it the next day!! I LOVE when I look in the living room and see her all cozy in a chair reading. So, I really have to thank Junie B. Jones, since she has a whole set of her books and once things clicked for her, she is just breezing through those books. And hopefully she will continue!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mommy-daughter date!

I was lucky enough to get 2 tickets to go to a fundraiser at the Rozsa Center here. April Verch was performing with her band. She is a fiddler AND a stepdancer. The Copper Country Suzuki Association had been given 12 tickets and I was able to snap up two--one for me and one for Eva. Jared and I have been trying harder to have mommy/daughter or daddy/daughter dates to spend time with the kids one on one. So this was perfect! PLUS they had a champagne brunch (I'm sure the champagne was good but I'll never know), and quite a spread: omelets, roasted vegetables, prime rib, seafood, fruit, cheese/crackers, and some to-die-for desserts. The band was great, as well! I have really gained an appreciation for how difficult it is play the violin, not to mention, oh...playing the violin WHILE stepdancing! I can't imagine! But what great exercise! I think Eva really enjoyed it, plus one of her friends (Katie) was there, too, with her dad. Bonus! To be continued with the next mommy/daughter date.....

Eva with her friend Katie

April Verch band

Sunday, November 21, 2010


So we are coming up on Thanksgiving pretty quickly here! And with that comes our annual Thanksgiving trip to Green Bay to have the Turkey dinner with my sister Linda and her family. We've been doing that since the first year that Jared and I were married. My mom and aunties Ruth and Carmen usually come, and sometimes some other sisters (Jeanne, or Annie). This year, though, Jeanne can't come (BOO!), but I think Annie and Helen (BONUS!) will be coming. So we will head down on Wed around lunchtime with a whole sackful of food to last us for the 4 hour trip and arrive around dinnertime (except, of course, we won't be hungry because we've been eating the whole way). I think my sister Linda likes the arrangement because Jared does nearly all the cooking (I make the token cheesy potatoes, some rolls, and maybe a jell-o salad, but that hardly compared to what he does--the turkey, the stuffing (from scratch!--not the Stove Top stuff. My aunt Carmen is always very impressed, and that's saying A LOT!), the squash, the gravy (from scratch, too, and always very good). I think Jared likes the arrangement too because he can order people around (in a loving way, of course!), and he is immediately able to go watch football afterwards with NO dishes to worry about. Since I'm in the kitchen for a fair amount of time as well, I sneak out afterwards, too. But it's great because the kids love being there and playing with their cousins, and it's great family time, too. Isn't that what good family traditions are for? And we always try to remember to take a picture of the spread before we eat, because that's always what Jared's mom insists on whenever there's a large gathering. ;) So I'll try to dig up a picture of a past Thanksgiving to share. And I'll of course take one this year, too! (Sadly I couldn't dig up a picture. They're not very well organized!--but I'll post one later of this Thursday). :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, Oliver!

(Has it really been a month since I posted something??? How does that happen?) Anyway, Oliver had his FIFTH birthday last month!!!! How is that possible?? I remember so clearly (with the help of video) the moment he was born! It really does seem like yesterday. Sadly, our camera died during the birthday party, so I don't have any photos to share about the birthday party itself. Suffice it to say that fun was had by all, and that a mother needn't stress over a 5 year old's birthday party. But let me reflect on my little boy. Lately I call him "mijo" (which he says he likes) or "hombre". Since he's a boy, he has all kinds of special effects noises that are innate, and he loves to "replay" things for me in slow motion (cars crashing, Legos fighting, that sort of thing). Usually, first thing in the morning, I can count on him to be a cheerful little boy who wants a little cuddling with momma (and then for me to play Legos with him, of course!). He doesn't like to eat first thing in the morning (he has to play first!), and he frequently is so polite when I ask him if he'd like eggs or oatmeal for breakfast...."no thank you, momma..." He loves going to school, and he loves playdates with his friends (even if he has major meltdowns when leaving...). He has recently developed a real love for coloring, and is asking more and more frequently what things say (that are written down), and "Momma, I know how to spell 'hot wheels'" or "cars" or "dvd" (I love that last one!). And so he's growing up pretty quickly. I'm sure that first and second grade will come and go before I know it, and then he'll be in THIRD grade, and not so little any more. But I have made him promise that he'll always cuddle with me, even when he's in eight grade, or 18 years old, and he says he will. So that's good enough for me. :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lego man

Oliver loves Legos. I've stated this already. I love Legos because Oliver does. They really are great, though--great for fine motor skills, great for creativity, and also great for developing that much sought after skill of making sound effects. I do believe that making sound effects is innate in all boys, and I love it. Nothing gladdens my heart more than hearing Oliver shooting, lightsabering, or crashing with Legos or other toys. And so we will give him Legos upon Legos for his birthday. And let the sound effects continue!

The makings of a birthday party

So, I realized about a week ago that Oliver's birthday was FAST approaching, and unless I wanted to throw something really haphazard together, I better get on it. We had Eva's first bigger birthday party when she was 5, so unless we want the kids to compare notes down the road and have evidence that we love one child more than the other, I decided to actually do something. Oliver LOVES Legos. I mean, the kid could truly play with them all the day long. I have pleasant memories this summer of slowly waking to the sound of Oliver fishing around in his Lego tub, entertaining himself before everyone else woke up. So, we decided that a Lego theme was just the ticket. And, since I'm not the most creative person around (more on this later), I did what any creatively challenged person would do: search the internet. And, indeed, I was not disappointed. I came up with some decoration ideas, game ideas, cake ideas, party favor ideas, and invitation ideas. There was one really creative mom out there who had fabulous ideas: for snacks there was Yoda soda, Wookie cookies, Obi-wan tons (apparently a BIG hit), and Light and Dark side party favors. Alas, I knew that I would not be able to achieve this level of creativity in just a week and a half (maybe for his 7 year birthday party?), so we're doing this a bit more simply. But, just to document that I can make a cute birthday invitation (although I really wonder if I have a creative bone in my body), here is a photo of the invitation. More to follow on the birthday party.

Fall in the Keweenaw

Jared and I seized a rare opportunity to have a date night a week or so ago. We had driven to Copper Harbor and along the shoreline a couple of months ago with the kids, and decided to go again by ourselves to see the fall colors. So we drove north and took our time. We drove to Eagle River, then Eagle Harbor, and finally to Copper Harbor. We also drove up to Brockway "Mountain" and were on top of the world (the Keweenaw world, that is). It seemed like you could see forever! The views were spectacular, particularly right when we were there, as the sun was setting over Lake Superior. We took some photos, though I'm sure they hardly do justice to what we saw. It was actually rather chilly this particular day (low 40s), and the wind was gusty, so we would've stayed out longer, but man, I was cold! (I'm sure it won't get much colder than that this winter, either....) :) We went to dinner afterwards, and, thank goodness, the BYU football game was on a big screen TV so we could watch. ;) I am somewhat relieved that BYU is not having the best season thus far because Jared isn't quite as much of a diehard then (so he says as well). Anyway, enjoy the views!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Unplugged, Part II

Well, my first post on this topic talked about how we had decided not to subscribe to satellite tv when we moved here. Mostly because we didn't want to waste all kinds of time watching tv, and because Oliver would really turn into a beast when it was time to turn off the tv. (I'd like to say that that's a characteristic of a 4 year old--having difficulties with transitions, but I think he's like his momma and could watch tv endlessly...). Anyway, the kids started off doing really well, playing with toys that hadn't been played with for a while, and generally being more creative with their play time. And I'm VERY HAPPY to say that things are STILL going very well!! The kids run downstairs and instead of whining to watch something on tv, they get out Legos or books, or some other toy. And they play together so much, and come up with (I think) very creative things to do with their toys. Pretend play has reached a whole new level. Here are some examples...

This is in the girls' room. There were 3 different "fort" areas going on. Eva had a restaurant and kitchen, Oliver had a garage and bedroom, and Lucy had some little area. Eva had her cd player over in hers to provide "mood music", and all kinds of little plates with play food on them. This fort, however, doesn't hold a candle to ones that we did a couple months ago, and I wished I had taken a picture. Oliver's whole room was a fort! I loved it. I think I would've thought that so neat as a kid!

Eva and Oliver had taken a lot of the dollhouse furniture and set it up on the stairs by the window and for some reason it was more fun to play with it there. They made separate little sections of living area. I loved it--I told them to leave it up for a while (and fortunately, no one biffed it on the stairs while it was up).

Ah, play doh! I try to bring it out every once in a while, because boy, it occupies them for quite a while. This time they made a whole bunch of little villages and cars that they put on paper plates.

Here is their restaurant. They had spaghetti, cherries (lots of cherries, for some reason), tacos, and burritos, too. Again, Eva had her CD player to provide mood music, and at one point, everyone had aprons on while cooking. Behind them is the fort Eva made. She had a small stool in there with a napkin on it (for her table--she then had a little snack there), and some books to read (with a flashlight, of course!), and of course, some stuffed animals to share the time with.

Needless to say, I don't think we're going to be going back to TV anytime soon. Granted, we do have a Netflix account, (and I LOVE it!). We use it for our family movie night on Fridays and the kids do watch a Diego, Dinosaur train, or SuperWhy! now and then. Sanity does need to be preserved, after all!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Spiders, anyone?

So, here in Hancock, there are a lot of spiders. Not just itsy bitsy spiders (ha! I couldn't resist that one!), but REALLY BIG, HAIRY spiders. At first, we just saw them in the basement. My basement resembles a dungeon, I think mostly because it has a stone foundation, so none of the walls are perfectly flat--there's curves all over the place, but also because the ceiling is low and there's more than a couple of dark corners. So I wasn't surprised to see spiders down there. But I was surprised by the sheer SIZE of them. I've really never seen spiders this big (except for tarantulas, but who has seen them in person?--okay, BESIDES the one at the library?). The spiders in my basement have to be 2 inches big, which doesn't sound like much, but when you see them every time you go downstairs, they can be pretty intimidating! But still, I wasn't too much bothered by them...until they started to creep upstairs! We saw one in the dining room, and then the biggest one yet in the girls' bedroom (he later became Oliver's pet for a while, named Spikey), and then now we see them almost EVERY DAY! Yikes! I still can't quite get used to the sight of them, though. There's just something creepy about seeing something crawling on the floor out of the corner of your eye. Even creepier--a friend who has lived here for a while (and who is fond of these critters, if you can imagine that!) said the other day--"they'll disappear for a while, but I think they start hatching in February, so you'll see more then,"....gulp! More?

This was Oliver's pet spider, Spikey. I know he doesn't LOOK that big, but really, he was! Anyone who saw him was really creeped out!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Surprise day #3!

We got the idea to do letterboxing from some friends of ours and decided to give it a whirl on Labor Day. Letterboxing is similar to geocaching (sp), except it just uses good old fashioned clues instead of a GPS (which is good since we don't have a GPS to start with!). I think you are supposed to find a box at each location with a theme related stamp of some sort. You then use this stamp in your own notebook or binder to document your journey and I think leave a stamp of your own. So we looked up a place to hike and were on our way. It was amazing how much more interesting a hike becomes when you're following clues and searching for a park bench or a swamp or a pond with lily pads. Everything takes on a whole new meaning! It was really a lovely hike--nice soft path, and tons of birch, pine, maple and oak trees. There were even a few plaques with tree identifiers, so now I can tell the difference between a red and a white pine. I'm sure you're dying to know--just ask! Here are some photos of our first experience

Arriving at the trail head

I love this picture..

...and this one, too.

Searching for the box (which was supposed to contain a bear stamp, I think). But, sadly, we never found it!

General horsing around (actually, Daddy was giving me bunny ears in the hopes of getting an authentic smile...I think it worked!)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Here's a memory from late July, probably. I just had to put a photo of these berries up. Aren't they gorgeous?? These are all berries that we picked from our garden (bless the hearts of our industrious previous home owners!) We LOVED having all these raspberries right outside our door. We made many a batch of raspberry ice cream that was quickly consumed (before Weight Watchers, of course!) All the kids gobble up the berries (there are black, red, and golden raspberries, strawberries, blackberries (which I'm not as crazy about), and a very few blueberries). There are also a few cherry trees (not producing yet), an apple tree, and a plum tree (fairly sporadic producers, too). There are also a TON of herbs (previous owners were big on tea), asparagus, and a few raised bed plots (look for tomatoes and basil next summer!). I think Jared was sold on this house before we even walked inside. Need I say more?


Happy to say that I'm getting the hang of blogging a bit more here! Just wish it wasn't always at midnight.... ;) So here's a photo of Eva, Oliver, and Lucy right before we headed off to school for the first day. Oliver is in the Young Five classroom, and Eva is going into 2nd grade. Since we live in Hancock and the kids are "school of choice" enrolled in Houghton, we will be driving the kids there every day. They were both a little disappointed that they won't be riding the bus; I should tell them of my long bus ride and vomit stories to cure them of that. Ha!

We did "steal" a tradition from some friends of ours for the day before school. It is called "Family Feast", and is held the day before school starts. A family "theme" for the year is introduced, complete with crowns, and, of course, a feast! Since we've never done this before, we started out small. We let the kids choose their own meal (they opted for hamburgers, brats, chips, beans, and SODA!), but we did have a nice tablecloth, napkins, and candlelight (okay, so the light filtered in), but they still loved it! They gobbled up their food, and were moderately attentive when we talked about the theme. We are going to have "Follow the Prophet" as our theme, and have 2 Family Home Evenings a month where we have a lesson from a book called "Before They Turn 12" (based on the For the Strength of Youth booklets), and the other two where we learn about a prophet of the church (watch video clips, tell stories about that prophet, etc.). Jared is teaching a "Teaching of the Living Prophets" class this fall at Institute, so it should provide some nice carryover. Afterwards, Jared gave Eva and Oliver a Father's blessing. We recorded them, and I want to type them up and print them on nice paper so they can keep them from year to year and re-read them. I think it will be a great tradition for us, and one that has so many wonderful facets to focus on.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Rockhound, anyone?

I have been trying to have "surprise days" with the kids (an idea I got from the Ensign), where we don't tell them where we're going, or what we're doing until we're on our way or there already. Sometimes it's nothing too fancy or expensive (well, okay, usually that's what it is), but mostly it's a way to make something that isn't too exciting sound a little more exciting (i.e. the other day I got groans when I suggested that we go for a hike, but now I think I'll make it a 'surprise day' where we go on a "leaf hunt" for our leaf books). So far for our surprise days we have gone to the Houghton library (our first week here), and then a tour of the Quincy mine, complete with a tram ride and underground tour of part of the mine.

So last week, I was getting a little stir crazy, so for our latest installment of "surprise day", we drove to Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor. We walked around each city a little bit, but it's was Jared's idea to look for neat-o rocks (mostly we were looking for agates, but we picked up anything that looked interesting). We stopped first at one beach between Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor that mostly had sandstones, but really fantastic rock formations and great waves on this particular day. The kids had a blast running on the rocks and playing games with each other. The next place we went to was called Sand Bay, I think, and was supposed to have a lot of agates and other rocks. Jared and I went a little crazy with how many rocks we picked up, but there were a ton of really cool rocks. Now we just need to figure out how to polish them, because I think they'd make some great jewelry. Eva declared it to be "the best surprise day" yet!

It was just so darn beautiful along the beach! This was the agate beach.

Here was some of Eva's booty.

Star Wars seems to permeate so many parts of our lives these days....

Lucy loved the windy windy spots on the rocks.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A rainy kind of day...

We had a wonderful rainstorm the other day...wonderful because it had followed several days of hot, humid weather, and also because I love rainstorms! Even nicer is that it was in the early evening so the kids could run outside in it. Eva asked me tentatively if she could go outside...and of course my response was YES!!! It took a few minutes before all three kids really let their hair down and splashed around to their hearts' content, but I think they loved it. I'm sure that we'll have similar kinds of situations this winter with snow! :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Unplugged, Part 1

So, when we moved here, we decided to unplug the TV. Well, kind of. We decided that we would not get a cable or satellite TV provider (though I do love PBS and BYUTV!) Why? Well, we have long noticed that we watch a lot more television than we would really like to, and our kids were starting to "self-serve" with TV (and, more importantly, with the DVR). And so they were watching more tv than I was really comfortable with. Efforts to limit the tv watching were really only marginally successful, with at least one of my children (so far) throwing major tantrums that resembled David Banner's transformation to the Hulk. So, we unplugged. BUT with a small Netflix account and weekly family movie nights.

We're on our way! So far, I have learned that I need to spend more time with my children! Initially the kids did great, playing with toys they hadn't play with in a while, and listening to books on tape, etc., but the novelty wore off soon enough, and there we were, on the verge of pulling each other's hair out, or........TO BE CONTINUED!!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

An update (a MAJOR upate!)

Well...we have moved! Jared has gotten a new job teaching at Michigan Tech University in Houghton, MI. We live in Hancock and have a lovely little house that is just perfect for us (some pictures to follow!) We moved mid-June and are still settling in (after a two week vacation to Virginia for a family reunion). Everyone seems to be adjusting fairly well, but I have forgotten all of the many things that need to be done when moving! Change of address, change of bank accounts, changing utilities, changing license plates and driver's licenses (and how many pounds can I (without guilt) fib about?). On Monday I am going to register the children for school and start tackling a LONG to do list! I think there are....15 or so boxes left to unpack...not bad!

Monday, February 1, 2010

New Year's Resolutions....a little late...

I find myself thinking frequently these days that time is so fleeting, and that I really need to try to preserve some of these priceless memories that fly by every day. And then another day passes, and another, and another, and nothing is done to capture any memories! So I vowed that I would try to blog a little bit more this year to try to do just that. I think I will write in a more personal sort of style, because when all is said and done, I hope that I can look back on this and be glad that I included all sorts of details, thoughts, and feelings, much like a journal. So forgive me for that. And forgive me if there aren't as many pictures as there probably ought to be. One memory that prompted this resolution was thinking back to my junior year in high school. We watched a play called "Our Town". I can't remember the whole plot, but do remember that Robbie Benson starred in it. I remember one scene in particular: a woman who has died young is offered the opportunity to go back to any day in her life to relive it. She is cautioned not to pick a really special day--just any ordinary day. What day does she pick? Her twelfth birthday, a very special day. As she goes throughout the day, she learns things about herself, and wishes that she had made different choices, said different things, and simply was more grateful for the simple, ordinary pleasures that make life joyful. I think about that poignant scene as I am sitting in my rocking chair holding my little Lucy and smelling her clean hair. Or as I am standing and doing the dishes or laundry for my family. Or piling the kids in the car for the umpteenth time to run whatever errand. I think about what kind of a day I would pick to re-live. And I think that I would pick just about any day at all.