Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Small and Simple Things

It's the little things that matter most. 

Soren loves the color green. He has several green shirts in his wardrobe, but none have been more loved than his robot shirt. He wore that shirt every chance he got. We aren't usually very sentimental, but once it was too small, we couldn't think of packing it up with the rest of our castoffs. Instead, we just tucked it into a drawer so Soren could save it forever. He loved it that much.

From a quick search through some old photos, I came across these two of Soren wearing his favorite shirt about 18 months ago. I realize you can't see the shirt very well in the first one (but look at that adorable face!), and the second one is super blurry, but you get the idea. 

Fast forward to Christmas. Sadie was making some simple sewing projects for the family and she just couldn't think of what to make for Soren. Then I had an idea. I had a small pillow form...and Soren had a shirt. It was perfect. I was so excited for him to open it on Christmas morning.

When Soren opened up his new pillow, he literally gasped! His reaction was priceless. He LOVES his pillow and was so happy to be reunited with his robot. It was the perfect gift. 


Side note: "Due to icy road conditions," we're enjoying Snow Day #4. The call came in during our family scripture study this morning at 5:50 and was completely unexpected. I think I like it that way best. It never crossed my mind that school might be canceled today so it was a fun surprise! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Duolingo - I'm a Fan!

I'm learning Italian. I mean, why not? I read about duolingo.com and decided to check it out. It's pretty slick and completely free. I'm still a beginner, but I know quite a few foods, animals, common phrases, and some other basics. My memory is not nearly as good as it used to be so I do a lot of reviewing, but that's super easy to do with duolingo and they even make it fun. In only 5-10 minutes a day, I'm making some pretty good progress.

Here are some of the things I've learned:

I tuoi insetti sono nel mio piatto = Your insects are on my plate.
For obvious reasons, I am anxious to learn, I need a new plate. 

Io sono una tartaruga = I am a turtle. 
I am not making this up. That exact phrase was in one of my lessons. I have yet to learn My name is... or Where is the bathroom? but I can proudly announce to the Italian world that I am a turtle, just in case, you know, I ever become a turtle.

I know it sounds like I'm making fun. I'm not. These phrases are pretty memorable so they help me remember how to form the sentences as I substitute different words. And they make me laugh during my lessons which makes learning more enjoyable.

Two of my boys have joined in on the fun. It's great for kids because it's so easy to navigate and it begins with the basics then builds from there. Soren was working on German, but decided to switch to Spanish. Spencer is also learning Spanish and is doing quite well as it reinforces what he's been learning in school. We just realized that Spencer won't have room in his schedule for Spanish 3 next year, but he's committed to keep it up with duolingo instead.  

I don't get into all the social media sharing stuff, but there is a place where you can send messages to each other. Soren thinks this is pretty cool and makes sure I don't get left out...

Ah, what a funny kid! 

For the record, no one asked me to post about duolingo.com and I have nothing to gain by doing so. I'm just really impressed with it and have enjoyed my experience so far. It makes me happy. :)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Don't Eat Pedro

After school started up again a couple of weeks ago, Sadie brought home a big stack of papers and projects from last quarter. One of these was a Thanksgiving project - Pedro, the Mexican Dancer. 

You see, Pedro is really a turkey who didn't want to get eaten on Thanksgiving day. Sadie's job was to disguise him to keep him safe. Each of my kids has had this assignment at least once over the years and we've come up with some pretty creative things - the Jedi and Princess come to mind, but I think Pedro is my favorite. 

It was a family assignment so I drew Pedro's outfit and sombrero and Sadie colored him and wrote the description (below) all by herself. It worked! Pedro survived. :)

I am not a turkey, I am a Mexican dancer. First, I have my mustache. Also, I have my big ruffley sleeves with all my bright colors. Next, I have my sombrero. I also have my share of beautiful dances. Do you like dancing? For me dancing is almost as beautiful as you, and almost as important as sleep. Hope to see you at my next performance if I'm still alive. Don't forget I am not a turkey. Sincerely, Pedro, the Mexican dancer.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


I just wanted to share the beautiful snowflakes that were hanging out on my deck rail this morning. It snowed a gentle, dry snow last night so each individual flake is visible. I can't decide which picture is my favorite. They're all so pretty!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Go Bucks!

The Ohio State Buckeyes won the national football championship game last night. 

I can only imagine the celebrating that must be going on in Columbus, Ohio today.

We lived in Columbus for four years (1996-2000) while Jeff attended The Ohio State University. During our first football season there, our eyes were opened to an entirely new level of fan loyalty. We'd never seen anything like it. 

The news programs each evening would start off with several stories about the football team. At some point they would say something like, "In other news..." and then proceed to talk about John Glenn or an upcoming election or the weather for, oh, about 30 seconds. Then it was right back to football. In Columbus, the only thing truly newsworthy from August through November is their beloved football team.

And don't even think about going anywhere on game day. When the Bucks played at home, it was impossible to get anywhere. We lived only a couple of blocks from campus and we just stayed in on those days. Football was all that mattered. 

I used to laugh about it, but it's become a fond memory. We love our Buckeyes! 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Nine and a Half

Sadie is officially nine and a half. Most of the half-birthdays in this family go by without a thought, but Sadie has been looking forward to this. She's my calendar and she remembers everything! I will confess that I had forgotten it was her half-birthday when I made chocolate pumpkin muffins for breakfast, but she was convinced I'd made them just for her special day! :) 

And you know you're special when the schools declare an official holiday and cancel school for your half-birthday! Okay, maybe that's not exactly what happened, but we ended up with just enough ice to make the morning commute hazardous so we were able to enjoy Snow Day #3 together at home.

Sadie has recently taken an interest in sewing and so, last weekend, Sadie made a blanket for one of her favorite babies. Dot loves to snuggle and this blanket was perfect! With elephants (Sadie's favorite) on one side, and flowers on the other, Sadie stitched "Dot" into one corner and then did a blanket stitch by hand all around the outside edge. It was a happy surprise when she learned, just minutes before finishing up on Saturday, that it was Dot's first birthday that day! 

Dot, all snuggled in to her new blanket.

Happy Half-Birthday, Sadie-bug!

Sunday, January 11, 2015


"You've got to watch the video I just made..."

Whenever Sterling says those words, we know we're in for a treat. Here's his latest independent feature. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

How Low Can It Go?

Gas is $1.89 per gallon in my little corner of the world. That's pretty remarkable, especially when you consider that the last time it was below $3.00 was four years ago!

In bigger cities, it's even less. We filled up in St. Louis last week for $1.77/gal -- almost 27 gallons for less than $50. Just a few months ago, I couldn't even fill up my MINI's 13 gallon tank for less than that.

How low can it go? I don't know, but I'm excited to find out! :)

Update: Within two hours of posting this, it's down another 2 cents to $1.87. Yay!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Good Fortune

Not only did I get Pad See Ew, one of my favorite Thai dishes, for lunch today, but I got a pretty good fortune to go with it!

It's not quite as good as my favorite fortune here, but I'll take it! :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Twenty Below

The kids went back to school yesterday. The first day back after Christmas break is always hard and they were praying it would be a snow day. It even started snowing on Monday afternoon, enough that we heard the snow plows scraping up and down our street. So the kids wore their jammies inside out, they did tribal dances and they slept with cotton balls under their pillows. But the snow stopped earlier than expected, and so, despite their best efforts, school was in session.

We were eating dinner last night when the phone rang. It was the school superintendent. "Due to extreme wind chill conditions predicted for tomorrow, school will be closed on Wednesday, January 7, 2015."

That made for the best of both worlds. They survived the dreaded first-day-back-after-the-holidays, and they were able to enjoy the evening without the stress of homework or school the next day. Today has been relaxed and quiet and fun.

I'm a little surprised that school hasn't been canceled for tomorrow. I don't know what the cut-off is for windchill related closings -- as far as I can tell, it's going to be twenty below tomorrow morning as well.

But we'll take what we can get and be grateful for today.

UPDATE 1/8/15:
I checked for school closings when my alarm went off at 5:00 this morning. There were a few outlying districts that were closed, but our school wasn't listed, despite the windchill. We woke the kids up at 5:30, as usual, and had scripture study. Just before Savannah and Spencer headed out the door for seminary, the phone rang. Today will be Snow Day #2.

There was much rejoicing. :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

360º Sunset

We had a stunning sunset tonight. I've never seen anything quite like it. It was unusual because it was reflected in the clouds in every direction. In fact, I first noticed it in the east as I looked out my living room window. I could see it was even brighter out our south-facing window. It was not as vivid, but still easily visible to the north. But to the west, it just got brighter and brighter as the sun sank deeper and deeper into the horizon.

Sadly, I broke our camera on Christmas when I dropped it on the hard floor. It won't even turn on. :( My phone takes pretty lousy pictures, so I'm stealing one of Jeff's pictures. It's a lot better than anything I took, but it still doesn't do it justice. I wish you could have seen the real thing!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Bach Double

I didn't mean to be a stranger in December. It wasn't even a particularly overwhelming holiday. My blog just wasn't on my radar much so I didn't worry about it. But I'm realizing there are a few things I should post even if they are old news by now -- like this gem from Sterling's Violin Recital.

Noel, one of the sweetest and most disciplined little girls, wanted to learn the Bach Double and she really wanted to play it with Sterling! She was so happy when he said yes. They both worked so hard, and I think they did a great job! Savannah was their accompanist. She accompanied most of the students at the recital. We're sure going to miss her when she's gone!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Scream Fest

It all started calmly enough. We got our jammies on and snuggled in to watch "Little House on the Prairie" before bed. Sadie started reading the books around Thanksgiving and we've been making our way through the TV series over the holidays.

The show was all but over when one of the kids yelled, "There's a bat in our house!"

Sure enough, a bat was flying back and forth across the living room. We don't know how or when it got in the house. All we knew is that we wanted it out! Clearly, the bat felt the same.

After plenty of screams each time the bat flew in our direction, the boys and Sadie and I quickly made a dash for my bedroom where we shut the door and waited safely on the other side. Savannah and Jeff, however, stayed in the living room.

While Savannah offered her support by screaming at regular intervals, Jeff propped the front and back doors wide open and hoped for the best. After several minutes, the screaming stopped and the bat was gone. No one actually saw it leave, but a thorough inspection found no signs of a bat still in the house.

This has happened once before. We're hoping it doesn't happen again. That's more than enough excitement for one night!

This brown bat may or may not be the same kind that was flying around my living room tonight...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Welcome 2015!

Just a quick note to welcome in the New Year. We have lots to look forward to in 2015 and are ready to make it our best year so far!

I'm hoping to blog more (that won't be hard...) and focus on the bright side of life.

Here are a couple of quotes from Savannah today --

"I remember 2014 like it was yesterday..."
"Did you know I haven't showered since last year?" 

Never a dull moment. :)

Life is good!