Sunday, February 19, 2017

Isaac's Birthday!

Isaac is 9! How did this happen? He is growing up before our eyes!

Isaac's birthday this year involved inviting a few friends to go with him to Orange Leaf (a frozen yogurt place) and playing a few games at home.  It was a low key yet fun birthday party.  I loved that Isaac got into making the goodie treats to give to his friends.  We got a bunch of Lego banks from the thrift store for ridiculously cheap and he filled them with candy and Pokémon cards.  I loved to see him choosing cards that he wanted to give to his friends! He even decided to take Pokémon cards to school as the "treat" to give out to his class. (His school doesn't do edible treats but the birthday kids can bring in something to give to their classmates.)

Isaac at 9!
1.  Isaac loves games.  He got a few for his birthday (Harry Potter Trivia, Bounce Off!, and a car parking lot game.) Some evenings we play a quick game of Bohnanza, Uno or Taco Loco.
2.  He also loved making up games.  A current new favorite is trying to kick a large ball up onto the roof of our town house. It then rolls off and he tries again.  He gets the neighbor kids kicking too, but they don't actually get the ball on the roof that often.
3. Isaac loves reading. He and John have finished reading Harry Potter #4 together.
4. Isaac is looking forward to warm weather and tries to push the limits with no coat/light jacket/shorts when really he would probably be more comfortable in slightly warmer clothing.  He doesn't seem to mind!
5. He is now a Bear in cub scouts.  He finished off the Wolf requirements and will get all the remaining belt loops at the Blue and Gold banquet this week.
6. Isaac loves to laugh. Recently John checked out a few joke books from the library and Isaac will now randomly ask a riddle or tell a joke to get us laughing. He also loves to watch Studio C.
7. Pokémon. Pokémon. Pokémon.
8. Isaac loves to take the recycle out to the recycle bin, but as he say, he likes to do it his way. "His way" includes taking everything out one piece at a time and throwing it into the dumpster.  He then also brings in a pile of things that he isn't ready for us to recycle yet.  I have to be careful about sending him out with the recycle!
9. It is so wonderful to see Isaac growing up.  He is a good helper at home and a good example for his siblings.  It is fun to talk with him and he is a thinker!
We love Isaac!

It feels like spring, but it's still February

The weather has been a bit odd this year.  Yesterday with highs of 67 degrees we spent the morning at Kensington Metropark.  The kids and I had gone before but this was John's first time and we enjoyed showing him all the park has to offer, from farm animals to play grounds and nature center to trails and a frozen pond.  Definitely a wonderful morning enjoying the sunshine!

Joanna is still in her stage of asking me to take pictures of her with random things.  I was in the middle of doing several things and helping several people so she patiently waited until I was finished and could take a picture of these apple slices that were connected together.

The apple slices bring up another story that wasn't great, but maybe someday I will look back on it and laugh.  With that hope...
Thursday morning Scott was napping and I had just finished getting the kitchen straightened up.  There was still about 20 minutes before we needed to go to the English conversation group, just enough time to fill the dehydrator with apple slices and applesauce to make fruit leather.  The kids watched as I did those two things and as I went to throw away the apple cores Joanna and Peter began fighting over who would plug in the dehydrator.  In the midst of their quarrel the cord of the dehydrator was yanked and the dehydrator was dumped off the table, spilling everything I had just put in it.  Apple slices were across the floor and applesauce was on the floor, bench and wall.  I was pretty mad at the kids, but we cleaned it up, the apples were thrown back into the dehydrator (but no more applesauce- I told the kids that no fruit leather was the consequence of their actions) and we were off to conversation group, arriving 5 minutes late. Not a fun morning.

John and I got to clean the temple Tuesday morning with 8 other members of our ward.  John mopped bathrooms and I vacuumed, dusted in the celestial room and polished stainless steel.  We got two hours of uninterrupted talking time as we drove and stopped for lunch at Wendy's so it was an official date for the record. 

The baby boy suit fits Scott! He has worn it for the past three Sundays and gets compliments every time.  The older kids call him "baby bishop" when he wears it.

Family celebration day in Amy's class. She is sharing her book and family portrait with me and Joanna. (Peter and Scott were also present.)

Valentine's Day prep! The girls helped me paint this canvas we found at the dumpster (it originally has an orange chevron print fabric background and a black pumpkin painted on it, but we just covered that up with more paint!

And when the weather is not so spring like this is how we bring the groceries in from the car.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Refugee Books

In the last few months I've read several books about refugees and I have learned so much.  Many of the conflicts that led to the people in these books becoming refugees happened during my life time and yet I had known so little.  All of these are books that I think a middle school and up child could read and while they talk about hard things they do so without being overly graphic or disturbing.  I have found that reading these and other books has helped me understand and empathize more with refugees today.  All of these books get two thumbs up from me!

The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson (historical fiction taking place during the Serbian/Albanian/Yugoslavian/etc. conflict in the early 90s.  I learned a lot I hadn't known before from this book.

I am David by Anne Holm (historical fictional story of a boy who escapes a concentration camp and is heading to Denmark for freedom. Originally written in Danish. They also made a movie of this, but I haven't seen it.  I really liked the insights into right and wrong and justice from the little boy.)

A Long Walk to Water by  Linda Sue Park (1985, Sudaneese war and present day story side by side (alternating chapters) and then they connect in the end. Based on a true story.)

Is it Night or is it Day? By Fern Schumer Chapman: based on the author's Jewish mother's life when she was sent to America from Germany during WWII to escape persecution which ultimately saved her life.  If you like this one there is another book more in detail of when the author and her mother returned to Germany many decades later, it's more of an adult book but fascinating! It's called "Motherland : beyond the Holocaust : a mother-daughter journey to reclaim the past"
And if you want one other good book I just read, I would recommend "Wolf Hollow" by Lauren Wolk. It just became a Newberry honor book and it is really well written. It has some similar strains as To Kill A Mockingbird; themes of justice and truth, and it's just good!

If you have any good book recommendations for me I'm all ears!

Joanna's Birthday!

Joanna turned 5 at the end of January.  I know she is our third to turn 5, and yet it is still hard to grasp that she is leaving the little kid realm and entering the big kid one.  I'm still not sure how I feel about her going to kindergarten in the fall!

On her birthday Joanna wanted to wear a fancy dress and have fancy hair (a braid crown.)  She got to celebrate her birthday at preschool the day before her birthday when she brought cookies in for snack.  On her birthday we went to English conversation group and then Costco for a hot dog lunch.  She was thrilled to open presents in the morning before the big kids left for school.  Some of her favorite presents included a small puppy figurine family, a stuffed cat that goes in a purse, a toy animal carrying crate, and a safari puzzle.  Joanna wanted a strawberry cake, pink frosting, a Bundt cake and then she found a my little pony to plop on the top. :)

Joanna invited two friends (Lessy Fife and Hazel Stagg) to go with us to the University of Michigan women's gymnastics meet the Saturday after her birthday.  The 5 and under kids were free and as we were standing in line to buy tickets for Amy and myself a man ahead of us offered us free tickets!  The girls enjoyed watching the gymnasts do the vault, uneven bars, floor routines and balance beam.  Joanna said her favorite was the balance beam.

Five things about Joanna at five!
1.  Joanna loves animals, especially dogs, but really any kind.  She loves stuffed animals (and has quite the collection.)
2.  Joanna is still in her stage of asking me to take pictures of random things.  For example. Here is one of her holding a pepper that she wanted me to take because the pepper was so small and cute!
3.  Joanna still sucks her thumb.  I do not know how we are going to help her break that habit.  She sucks it quite a bit.
4.  While Joanna loves to play with friends she also does a great job playing alone or playing with her siblings.  She is usually even tempered (unless she is tired) and pretty much gets along with everyone.
5.  Joanna is our most adventurous eater.  She will try most things and even though she likes sweets she also loves carrots, other vegetables, and can eat a whole bag of the little sweet pepper if I let her.  She also loves cheese!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Birthday planning

My birthday is coming up this week and John, knowing me well and that I really don't like choosing meals, was brainstorming with the kids things to make for dinner.  I was listening from the other room, and then grabbed the computer to try and type everything they were saying because they were cracking me up.  Here's a little to remember...

John:Let's decide what we are going to make for Mommy's birthday.  I need some ideas...
Me: My requirements are a good meal that I don't have to choose or make.
John (to the kids): How about McDonalds? We could get happy meals. We could make out own hamburgers. Or pizzas. That was always fun as a kid.
Joanna: We could make face pizzas!
Isaac: We could do a Harry Potter birthday.  I have that whole cookbook.
Joanna: No, we need something girly.
John: What is a girly food?
Joanna: I know, a My Little Pony Party!
Amy: A Pink Princess Party.
John: We could do a country theme. Honduras? We could have those red beans mom really likes.
Me: But I don't know where to buy those kind around here.
Joanna: That's okay, we have lots of beans downstairs. We buy chickpeas all the time!
Amy: I'll give you a food idea. A food/treat.  A piñata party!
John: We could buy a piñata!
Me: We could make a piñata.
John: How do you make a piñata.
Me: A balloon and some paper michae. It's kind of time intensive.
John: We can buy a piñata. This is going to be epic.
Me: I can make one. I don't want to spend money on one.
Peter: It's going to be a noonyibanana!

In the end we found a local restaurant that makes baleadas, and for only $1.50 each! I'm excited to have them!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


So far this winter has been mild with days of cold and days of uncharacteristically warm weather.  Some of the happenings of the month so far...

Building at the downtown library:

My first article for Ann Arbor Family Magazine was published in the January edition!

We invited a few of Amy's friends over for a baking club.  The girls made melting snowmen cookies, marshmallows dipped in chocolate and polar bear pretzel rods.  They all went home with a plate of goodies and enough to drop off a plate at a neighbor's house who just had a baby. 

The Plymouth Ice Festival was on a day with a high of 22 degrees.  We bundled up and were still frozen by the time we left.  Scott can only see out of one eye as he moved around and his hat slid down.  There was a petting farm this year (a little funny if you ask me because everyone is wearing gloves and mittens, but the kids still enjoyed it.)
 This group picture was taken soon after arriving (notice that everyone is smiling!) When we left several children were in tears...mostly the little boys.

Ice Pokémon. Isaac thought it was awesome!

Scott in the waiting room while Joanna is at the dentist.
This is the "leaning dog house" that Joanna made at preschool.

Amy sang in the Martin Luther King Jr. assembly and Joanna and Peter and I went to watch. (Scott napped while our next door neighbor listened for him on the baby monitor.  She is in pink front row in the middle.

We went to an indoor University of Michigan track and field meet.  While it brought back lots of memories for me, it was John's first time to a track meet!

Martin Luther King Jr day was a free day at the Henry Ford museum, so we went and met up with some friends (Rebekah Myler and her boys).  The trains and the Weiner mobile were favorites.

This past weekend the weather was magical! We went on two hikes on Saturday.  In the morning on the trails at County Farm Park and in the afternoon to the creek behind our neighborhood.  It was foggy in the morning but sunny in the afternoon.  Scott did most of the afternoon hike on his own.

We had an India Culture Night where we ate Indian food (butter chicken, curry, felafel and homemade naan.) We also watched some youtube videos of Indian music and dancing. The kids did a good job trying the food, but the naan was the clear winner for them.

Now we are gearing up for Joanna's birthday in two days!